Syria: A History of the Last Hundred Years

By John McHugo

The cave in of Syria into civil warfare during the last years has spawned a local main issue whose reverberations develop louder with each one passing month. during this well timed account, John McHugo seeks to contextualize the headlines, offering extensive ancient point of view and a richly layered research of a rustic few within the usa understand or understand.

McHugo charts the historical past of Syria from international battle I to the tumultuous current, interpreting the country’s thwarted makes an attempt at independence, the French regulations that sowed the seeds of inner strife, and the fragility of its foundations as a kingdom. He then turns to more moderen occasions: spiritual and sectarian tensions that experience riven Syria, the pressures of the chilly warfare and the Arab-Israeli clash, and generations of rule by means of the Assads.

The result's a clean and rigorous narrative that explains either the construction and unraveling of the present regime and the roots of the wider heart East clash. because the Syrian civil struggle threatens to attract the U.S. army once more into the center East, here's a infrequent and authoritative consultant to a fancy kingdom that calls for our attention.

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The opposite proxy struggle occurring in Syria is in part inner to the Arab international, yet can also be a sectarian warfare inside of Islam. There are overseas warring parties on each side. Sunnis have come to help the competition. they're drawn from many Arab nations and from around the Muslim international – together with small numbers of people from the Muslim groups in France, Britain and different Western international locations. the terror that they may go back domestic at some point after being radicalised earrings alarm bells within the West. this doesn't support the competition collect a good photograph overseas. Sheikh Muhamad al-Ya’coubi, one in every of Syria’s most precious Sunni Muslim students, issued an attract younger Muslims tempted to struggle in Syria at a fundraising dinner for a aid charity in London in January 2013. He was once addressing a predominantly Muslim viewers. whereas calling at the British executive to arm the rebels, he advised younger Muslims to struggle jihad opposed to their very own egos, to not indulge these egos by way of taking over palms to struggle in a clash that's for Syrians and never for them. As a Sufi, Sheikh Muhammad was once doing not more than repeat and follow to the Syrian clash one of many old insights of his culture that's shared by means of actual representatives of all non secular traditions internationally: satisfaction corrupts, and is the basis of all evil. Shi’i volunteers additionally commute to Syria to aid the govt. aspect, in particular from Iraq. however the major assets of Shi’i aid usually are not participants however the Islamic Republic of Iran and the well-organised and powerful defense force of Hizbullah. Their aid for him isn't really simply because his regime is Alawi ruled (it can be recalled that Alawis are targeted from extra mainstream Shi’is) yet due to an easy political alliance which they see because the axis of resistance opposed to American and Israeli hegemony. This additionally pits them opposed to the oil-rich Sunni monarchies. They worry the Salafi or Wahhabi tendencies within the Syrian competition. there's a lengthy heritage of Wahhabi devastation of Shi’i locations of pilgrimage. In 1802, Wahhabi warriors swept out of Arabia and sacked some of the most vital Shi’i shrines on the planet: that of the Imam Hussein at Karbala in Iraq. because the invasion of Iraq in 2003, there were quite a few assaults on Shi’is in Iraq by way of Wahhabi parts, together with the large act of calculated sacrilege whilst the shrine of Askariyya was once blown up in February 2006. Damascus, too, has an immense Shi’i shrine: the tomb of Sayyida Zainab. The defence of this shrine has supplied a powerful rallying cry for Shi’is opposed to the Sunni Islamist forces which appear to have turn into the most powerful and most sensible organised teams at the insurgent aspect. the previous couple of years were disastrous for Syria. it really is as if the rustic has been thrust right into a torture chamber and pulled to items by way of males wielding pliers. The pain keeps, and there's no signal of whilst the door will open and the traumatised prisoner be allowed to stagger again into the sunlight, to suppose the solar and the breeze on his face.

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