The city wall at Raqqa
Bye Bye Islamic State
Two views of the River Tigress taken in North East Syria, the opposite bank is in Turkey
To the Turkish Kurds, this is Syria, keep your distance
The photos are intended to emphasise how close Turkey is to Syria at its North East tip and how easy it is for the Turkish Kurdish to invade. The Turkish Kurdish are staunch supporter of the Israelis, if they colonise the area then Syria will be encircled and drawn into constant wars between the Turkish Kurds and the Turkish establishment. The Syrian Kurds had a good living in the region but are on the point of joining their Turkish counterparts as they wanted to do in the 1980s.
I traveled extensively in Syria in 2005 and 2006 and to say I fell in love with the country is no exaggeration, I just wish everyone was so privileged.
With the defeat of Islamic State, things are looking up for Syria. The liberation of Halab and Tadmor (Palmyra), inspires a degree of hope and the subsequent victory at Deir Azzor, part of the oil producing region, will secure the Syrian economy.
Of course Russia and America are battling away still and the carve-up of the country seems likely. North East Syria has already been colonised by the Kurdish as they allied with America in Syria and Iraq. The Turkish may get Idlib, in the North East corner as it has allied with the Islamists there.
There is too, the thornier issue of the opposing Syrian Brotherhood. Despite protests from the very brave journalists and others who have reported from Syria and who support the regime, it is an extremely popular movement, which threatens to return Syria to the dark ages. It is certain that President Dr Bashar al-Assad is taking the matter very seriously indeed.
Lastly the Syrian government has began issuing tourist visa from its embassy in Beirut, at least to Chinese people. The visa enables you to travel by mini van to Damascus for two days.
Another bit of news is that mini vans are running to Tartus in Syria from the middle of Tripoli, in the North Lebanon.
Before the war
Prior to the uprising Syria had a solid infrastructure, with little unemployment, electricity, clean drinking water, schools, which provided employment particularly for women and a functioning health service. The arrival of the Iraqi refugees saw the cost of living rise and though the people did their best to assimilate the new arrivals the situation took its toll on the economy. A factor that almost certainly contributed to the demonstrations of 2011. It is interesting that so many people sympathise with Lebanon for the number of refugees they have taken in from Syria but that no such consideration was afforded to the Syrian people and its government through the mid 2000s.
In light of its heritage, the history of Syria cannot be discussed in isolation, from the wider Arabic world. This includes the constituent parts of Greater Syria, as defined by the Greek philosopher Herodotus, whereby Greater Syria included the Levantine region. Matters are complicated by centuries of colonisation by the succession of Pagan, Christian and Islamic empires.
Religion and Politics
The entire middle eastern region is dominated by two opposing ideologies; Arabism and Islamism, both of which are underpinned by religious and political theory. Support for the former appears to be waning but in the eyes of many, worth fighting for, as is manifest in Syria. Needless to say powerful nations, notably Saudi Arabia and Britain, have exploited these competing value systems. Saudi to promote a unified Islam, which adheres to strict Islamic principles and Britain to overthrow state socialism as it inhibits the principles of free trade.
Its interesting but no coincidence, that the 2011 ”uprisings” were confined to countries, which had embraced Arabism (a tendency towards secularism), whilst the monarchies, which tend to be ”friends” of the west, escaped unscathed. Needless to say all this was done in the name of ”democracy”.
Looking up methinks, well done Syria.