sovereign state in western Asia
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Syria (Arabic: سوريا/سورية), officially the Syrian Arab Republic (Arabic: الجمهورية العربية السورية), is a country in the Middle East, bordering Lebanon to the west, Israel to the southwest, Jordan to the south, Iraq to the east, and Turkey to the north. The modern state of Syria attained independence from the French mandate of Syria in 1946, but can trace its roots to the fourth millennium BC; its capital city, Damascus, was the seat of the Umayyad Empire and a provincial capital of the Mamluk Empire.

Syria is a melting pot. It existed like this, like it is today because it is a melting pot with multifarious cultures for centuries, before Christianity and after Christianity, before Islam and after Islam. ~ Bashar al-Assad
Bashar is the balancing point among the various Syrian power forces. ~ David Wallechinsky

Quotes edit

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  • Few who watched the Syrian revolution rise and unfold thought back to 1979, but the echoes would be obvious in hindsight—except everything was worse, as though all the players picked up where they had left off after the jihad in Afghanistan, or the Iran-Iraq War, or the 2003 Iraq War. The son of Sa’id Hawwa, the Syrian Muslim Brotherhood ideologue, was involved; Surur, author of the Magi book, was playing a key role rallying the Islamists; even the son of Arif Hussaini, the assassinated Pakistani allama, would show up in Damascus to meet Shia fighters. With appetites sharpened, everyone returned to the battle with renewed vengeance. There would be rivers of blood, millions displaced, millions of refugees. The war in Syria would break the Middle East. It would break the world. But first, it would destroy the lives of men like Yassin. In the fluid chaos of the revolution, he couldn’t know all the details about the forces lurking in the background. He focused on the possibilities, on the Syrianness of the revolution and the goodness in Syrians’ hearts; on the belief in the righteousness of their cause and their call for basic freedoms.
    • Kim Ghattas, Black Wave: Saudi Arabia, Iran, and the Forty-Year Rivalry That Unraveled Culture, Religion, and Collective Memory in the Middle East (2020)

H edit

  • Syria, using the term in its old, geographical sense, occupies a unique place in the annals of the world. Especially because of the inclusion of Palestine and Phoenicia within its ancient boundaries, it has made a more significant contribution to the moral and spiritual progress of mankind than any other comparable land. Small as it appears on a map or a globe, its historical importance is boundless, its influence universal.

J edit

  • The Arab conquest of Syria in 632–42 was one of the most astonishing accomplishments of its age. In the first place it finally and permanently cut off an eastern wing of the Byzantine Empire, which had been Roman territory for nearly seven hundred years; the border of Byzantium was now pushed back to the Amanus Mountains on the eastern edge of Asia Minor, beyond which it would seldom reach for the rest of the Middle Ages. Much more significantly, though, Syria was one of the first major triumphs of a new power that was about to sweep across the world, branching out to the borders of China and the Atlantic seaboard of Europe, establishing an Islamic state that covered more than twelve million square kilometers. Between Muhammad’s death and the collapse of the Umayyad caliphate in 750, Arab armies appeared everywhere from central Asia, through the Middle East and north Africa, throughout the Visigothic Iberian Peninsula, and even into southern France. They imposed Islamic governments and introduced new ways of living, trading, learning, thinking, building, and praying. The capital of the vast caliphate they established would be Damascus itself, crowned with its Great Mosque—one of the masterpieces of medieval architecture anywhere in the world.
    • Dan Jones, Powers and Thrones: A New History of the Middle Ages (2021)

T edit

  • Today, Bashar Al-Assad is playing the role of the son of the Levanter, offering his services to any would-be buyer through interviews with whoever passes through the corner of Damascus where he is hiding. At first glance, the Levanter may appear attractive to those engaged in sordid games. In the end, however, the Levanter must betray his existing paymaster in order to begin serving a new one. Four years ago, Bashar switched to the Tehran-Moscow axis and is now trying to switch back to the Tel-Aviv-Washington one that he and his father served for decades. However, if the story has one lesson to teach, it is that the Levanter is always the source of the problem, rather than part of the solution. ISIS is there because almost half a century of repression by the Assads produced the conditions for its emergence. What is needed is a policy based on the truth of the situation in which both Assad and ISIS are parts of the same problem.

W edit

  • Since 1961, Syria has been ruled by the Ba'ath Party, the same party that ruled Iraq until the fall of Saddam Hussein. Bashar al-Assad inherited the leadership of Syria from his father Hafiz al-Assad, in 2000. Bashar is the balancing point among the various Syrian power forces, including the military, the intelligence service, the nation's ruling party, and the government bureaucracy. Meanwhile, the people of Syria are not free to express their political opinions, much less choose their leaders.

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