A Visit to the Tomb of Hafez al-Asad

Christian Sahner

by Christian Sahner

The following is an excerpt from “Among the Ruins: Syria Past and Present,” just out from Oxford University Press/ C. Hurst & Co. For further information on the book and the history of Syria, follow me on Facebook and Twitter.

The road from Latakia to Qardaha wound gently along the Mediterranean coast. From here, the blue waters seemed to race to an endless horizon, to a world still wider than crowded Damascus, over one hundred and fifty miles inland. But the beachside view obscured the intimacy of the moment. Plato referred to this sea and the cities perched on its shores as a pond crowded with frogs. In antiquity, as today, these frogs came in a dizzying menagerie of shapes and colors, yet their diversity disguised their essential unity. There was more uniting these far-flung peoples than dividing them. It was a sense of a common heritage held together by the relentless flow of merchants, philosophers, and missionaries across this small pond.

Latakia—ancient Laodicea—is Syria’s principal port. It is located along a narrow coastal strip in the northwest of the country, between the Lebanese and Turkish borders. With its beachside resorts, open-air cafes, and relaxed ambiance, the city was a salutary reminder that Syria—at least in these parts—was very much one of Plato’s frogs, a Mediterranean country with its eyes trained on the sea.

Mountains of northwestern Syria, with Mediterranean Sea, near Baniyas

Mountains of northwestern Syria, with Mediterranean Sea in the distance, Tartus Province (photo: author)

Nevertheless, not everyone who basks in the Mediterranean sun enjoys its riches. For just as Syria’s geography and culture are divided between coast and desert, there is an equally pronounced rift between the coasts and mountains, which rise mightily from the waters’ edge. Here, the rugged peaks shelter villages that form the once-destitute heartland of Syria’s ‘Alawi community, a region known as Jabal Ansariyya. One hot day in July 2009, I headed to one of the most important of these mountain villages—Qardaha—to try to understand how a once-marginal group came to control Syria during the course of the twentieth century.

About ten miles south of Latakia, the road began to climb steeply. I was riding in a rickety van that had crawled the streets of Beijing or Seoul in another life, but was now covered with kitschy images of Syria’s president, Bashar al-Asad. The van shook to the songs of a Lebanese chanteuse, but the volume waned as we hit a steep incline. I was the only foreigner in a cabin filled with locals, many of them chain-smoking and forlorn-looking. Between them sat crates of peaches, parsley, and what looked like bottles of arak, that alcoholic nectar of the Levant.

The road leveled off eventually and the electronic rhythms resumed their punishing pace. Amidst the rugged landscape, the Mediterranean became harder and harder to see. She appeared occasionally with a coquettish wink, her sparkling blue eyes disguised between olive groves and mountain wadis. Up here, the sea was only seven miles away, but it felt like hundreds. Qardaha and its people were born of a sense of isolation from Plato’s world, not of belonging to it.

Qardaha enjoyed little notoriety throughout history: it was one of many faceless farming communities that dotted the mountains of Syria’s northwest, whose ‘Alawi inhabitants made meager returns selling tobacco, lemons and other crops to coastal merchants. For centuries, poverty here was endemic. Families were sometimes forced to make ends meet by selling their daughters into servitude in the homes of Sunnis grandees down below. By all reports, Qardaha was not a happy place, or much of a place at all; as Gertrude Stein once remarked of a very different city, Oakland, California: “There is no there there.”

All this would change in the early twentieth century, when contacts between the mountain and the coast began to increase. Among the beneficiaries was a young man named Hafez al-Asad, born in 1930, destined to become Qardaha’s most famous son. He descended the mountain for schooling and never looked back. As an adult, he rose up through the ranks of the Syrian Air Force, Baath Party leadership, and the government, serving as defense minister. In 1970, he seized control of the state in a successful coup, ruling Syria with cruel determination until his death thirty years later. You can tell a lot about a man by where he chooses to be buried, and despite a career forged in the cut-throat government halls of Damascus, Asad wished his body to return here, to the mountain village where he was born.

The tomb of Hafez al-Asad, Qardaha, Summer 2009

Tomb of Hafez al-Asad, Qardaha, Latakia Province (photo: author)

After a forty-five minute ride, I stepped out of the bus: Asad’s mausoleum sat on the edge of Qardaha’s still-humble, even derelict looking downtown. The ragged streets improved as I approached his grave, with newly planted trees and flowers lining a wide boulevard. Despite the inviting entrance and luxurious appointments, the mausoleum was strange: an eight-pointed star surmounted by a flat, onion-shaped dome—reminiscent of a spaceship in an old science fiction movie. An intricate Arabic inscription ran along the façade of the building, and on a large wall facing the entrance hung a sepia-toned portrait of the deceased leader. In it, an elderly Asad wore a page-boy cap and a wry smile, with the Syrian flag billowing behind him. It conjured a sense of nostalgia for a bygone world—for your grandfather and mine—for the grandfather of all Syria, this sunny-looking dictator.

The otherworldly ambiance was undiminished inside the mausoleum. Asad’s grave lay in a shallow octagonal depression in the floor, beneath the main dome. The casket, draped in a rich green cloth, was surrounded by a wreath of fresh flowers, and a second band of green satin sheets. To the left was the grave of Basel, the dauphin of the house of Asad who died tragically in 1994 (after crashing his Mercedes on the airport road outside Damascus, for which he is remembered as a shahid, or martyr). There were other empty graves in the building, presumably awaiting the deaths of other Asad family members—including Hafez’s widow Aniseh and their son Bashar, who took over the family business in 2000.

The mausoleum of Hafez al-Asad was more of a cultic site than a grave. Here, ‘Alawi security officers dutifully tended the tomb when not oiling their pistols or sipping tea, and piles of flowers left by dignitaries and pilgrims lay strewn outside. It looked like the mourning had never ended. There was a strange dignity to the place: it was a memorial to a man of ferocious but incredible ambition, as well as to a community that had managed to emancipate itself from its mountain miseries and take center stage in modern Syrian history. The story of Hafez al-Asad—the Alawi peasant who would become king—has no parallel in its particulars across this country. But in its generalities, it sums up the experience of many minorities over the past hundred years. It is the story of the outsider made insider, of the particular who managed to carve out a place for himself by redefining the universal.

Christian Sahner is a historian of the Middle East. He is the author of the recently released book, “Among the Ruins: Syria Past and Present” (Oxford University Press/ C. Hurst & Co). A graduate of Princeton University and the University of Oxford, where he studied as a Rhodes Scholar, he is completing his doctorate at Princeton, focusing on the role of non-Muslims in medieval Islamic societies. His essays have appeared in The Times Literary Supplement and The Wall Street Journal, among other publications.

Comments (48)


1. oh no said:

syria comment is a great website. please keep it that way. if you feel like publishing random “once upon a time”-pieces, edit them. edit them extensively until they become readable and interesting. if not, better don’t run them.

Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

October 29th, 2014, 4:18 pm

 

2. Ghufran said:

Oddly enough the reference to early alawites ” selling” their daughters as servants to rich Sunni families was used by some thawrajiyyeh when rebels were making advances in 2012 and the first half of 2013 along with open threats from bloggers, including some on this forum, to make alawites ” pay the price” . That with shameful support for Islamist rebels leave little doubt about why this ” revolution” never impressed minorities and many progressive Sunnis. Assad, sr had the opportunity to end his long rule with the right decision to allow a non Assad to take the throne but he chose to confirm that he was a king who gave the country to the crown prince, forget about the myth that Syria was a republic before 2011.

Thumb up 11 Thumb down 15

October 30th, 2014, 12:59 am

 

3. Jasmine said:

Very nice tomb for a great leader.

Thumb up 18 Thumb down 20

October 30th, 2014, 7:32 am

 

4. Ghufran said:

ريف اللاذقية ـ «القدس العربي» طالبت إحدى الشخصيات المسيحية المعارضة في داخل مدينة اللاذقية، المعارضة السورية وفي الساحل خصوصا بأن تحمل مشروعا وطنيا جامعا لكل السوريين، مبينة أن المعارضة حتى الآن فاشلة سياسيا.
وقالت هذه الشخصية التي فضلت عدم ذكر اسمها لأسباب أمنية»، إنه مخطئ من يظن أن النظام يعتمد على أبناء طائفته فيما يحدث بسورية، فمعظم سكان حلب الذين نزحوا باتجاه مدينة اللاذقية هم من المؤيدين له وشكلوا عامل استمرار له.
وأضاف أن العلويين في الساحل أنهكوا اقتصاديا واستنزفوا بشريا كما بقية أبناء سوريا، والنظام السوري استطاع الحفاظ على هيكله وبنيانه حتى الآن بفضل رأس المال الذي استقطبه إليه، استفاد بشكل كبير من وجود تنظيم الدولة «داعش» في سوريا بإجبار أصحاب الموقف الرمادي على الإنضمام إليه.
وتابع « في سوريا إما ان تكون معارضا او تكون مؤيدا، ولكن حتى الآن المعارضة السياسية في سوريا غير ناضجة وغير مؤهلة لتكون جاهزة لقيادة بلدنا سوريا»، مشيرا إلى أن النظام يتآكل يوما بعد يوم لكن بشكل بطيئ جدا، والفقير يزداد فقرا والغني يزداد في الغنى، كما أن مدينة اللاذقية تحولت وبكل بساطة الى مدينة البؤساء والتعساء، لكن النظام لم ولن يفكر في أحوالها وكل مايهمه أنها في قبضته الأمنية».
واستدرك المعارض قائلا «كل المؤشرات تدل على ان النظام مازال يملك زمام المبادرة ولا احد يستطيع ان ينكر ذلك، لكن المكان الذي سيدخله جنوده سيتحول إلى مكان تعيس وبائس، وأنا لا أدافع عن الطائفة العلوية لكن في اللاذقية المؤيدين ليسوا فقط من الطائفة بل النازحون من كل مكان في سوريا الذين جاؤوا ليدفعوا ضريبة الأمان والإستقرار، وهي حب القائد الأسد».
وأشار إلى أن الغرب لن يقدم شيء للمعارضة السورية، في حين ان الروس والإيرانيين مازالوا العامل المهم والرقم الصعب في ثبات النظام السوري»، مناشدا العقلاء ممن خرجوا ضد النظام، أن يعملوا على توحيد الصفوف ضد «داعش» والنظام فكلاهما ديكتاتور، ويوغل في القتل من أبناء سوريا، وكلاهما يعتمد على غير السوريين في حربه على أرض بلدنا. وقال إن: «الطريق الى الحرية طويل وشاق وصعب ومخضب بالدماء، ويجب ان تتوحد كافة الفصائل التي تحمل أفكار الشعب السوري سواء إسلامية او غير إسلامية».
وخاطب العقلاء بقوله «هناك من ينتظركم وهناك من قدم لكم أولاده فلا تخذلوهم، دم الشهداء أمانة في رقبتكم، وحسب الدين الإسلامي فإن دماء الشهداء ستحاسب من باعها و من خذلها، ولا تنسوا أن المعتقلين هم الشعلة الأولى على درب الحرية، ماذا ستقولون لهم اذا واجهتموهم؟، وماذا سيكون ردكم على تقصيركم؟، فاعملوا على توحيد صفوفكم، والمسيحيون ليسوا مع الأسد بل مع أبناء وطنهم، وهم أيضا يعملون لأجل الحرية كما بقية أفراد الشعب السوري، فكونوا قبلة الحرية ولا تكونوا ورقة بيد الغرب يستعملكم لأجنداته كما يشاء، اعملوا لأجل سوريا موحدة حرة قوية بأبنائها».
واختتم بقوله «النظام يجبر الشباب على الإنضمام للجيش ليدافعوا عن مملكة الأسد المزعومة، فإذا حررتم شبرا من سوريا لا تعاملوا الجنود إن أسرتموهم على انهم أعداء لكم بل اخوة، فهذا الجندي اقتيد للجيش قسرا و ليس بإرادته».

Thumb up 7 Thumb down 11

October 31st, 2014, 12:25 am

 

5. Hopeful said:

#2 Jasmine

Arafat was a hero to most Palestinians and a terrorist to most Israelis. If there is ever a peace between the two, that fact would not change.

Similarly, Assad – a great leaders to many Syrians, especially the Alawites, is a brutal dictator to most Syrians, who have up their freedom and dignity under his regime. Syrians and the future leaders of Syria should acknowledge this fact and work on reconciliation, not on trying to further divide the people (as the current Assad has done).

Thumb up 13 Thumb down 19

October 31st, 2014, 1:24 am

 

6. Jasmine said:

Hopeful (Imad) @4
Mandela was a hero for black South African and criminal for the white one.
If Syria is going to manage the reconciliation,those fat oily from the Gulf should get of its back to say the least.
The real political life is emerging slowly in Syria and the Syrian Government never claimed that they are democratic.
On a different note how can anyone could not predict that the Alawites sect with their sons feeding the mass of the Syrian armies are not going to gain a full control of the country while the Sunnis are in trade and worrying about filling their pockets.
Imad,were you in the Carmelite School in Latakia when you were a little boy,I remember a class mate of this name.

Thumb up 14 Thumb down 15

October 31st, 2014, 7:55 am

 

7. Hopeful said:

#5 Jasmine,

When Mandela decided to become a leader for the whole of South Africa, he became a different person. He is now a hero to both black and white South Africans. Listen to his speeches before and after and you would understand.

The problem in Syria is within. Outsiders step in when the Core is broken. Syria will start on the path of recovery when it is led by someone who speaks and acts in a way that unites the country not divides it. From the first day of the crisis, Assad divided Syrians between patriots and traitors, loyalists and germs. He broke the country, not the gulf sheikhs.

You are confusing me with someone else. My name is not Imad.

Thumb up 11 Thumb down 13

October 31st, 2014, 2:46 pm

 

8. Jasmine said:

Hopeful
Sorry for the confusion.
I agree partly with you,but not every country with internal problems ended up like the Syrian disaster,one shouldn’t play down the geopolitical elements and the power struggle between East and west,which contribute a great deal toward the destruction of Syria.
Syria is the playground for international filthy game and it’s mosaic structure and the tribal and sectarian nature of the society has invited trouble so easily.
I am not trying to wave fault and mistakes:poverty,ignorance and overpopulated countries are lethal mixture for destruction.
Real revolution succeed only if they are not poisoned by religious fanatics .
Mandela didn’t use any god in his revolution.

Thumb up 11 Thumb down 13

October 31st, 2014, 3:30 pm

 

9. ALAN said:

Among the numerous articles that have appeared in the media lately, in which the authors offer their recipes to combat this “plague” of the XXI century, the publication of Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Ruler of Dubai, UAE Vice-President, which appeared in early October of this year deserves attention. The main thesis of this article is as follows: it is impossible to extinguish the flame of fanaticism only by military force, and therefore it is necessary to focus a combined effort on debunking and clarifying the failures of the ideology of Islamic extremists, to deprive them of this “weapon to destroy the minds” of ordinary gullible people that the Islamists draw into their ranks. According to the author, in addition to military means of combat another three components are necessary: winning the battle of ideas, improving governance, and seriously addressing the issues of social development.

http://journal-neo.org/2014/10/31/rus-islamskoe-gosudarstvo-i-problema-e-kstremizma/
Thus rulers of states – terrorism incubators speak after all this quantum of criminality about the exits.

Thumb up 10 Thumb down 13

October 31st, 2014, 5:53 pm

 

10. Hopeful said:

#7 Jasmine

Precisely because there are sharks on the borders, a leader should work harder to unite and strengthen the core. Assad is the wrong leader for the country. He maybe the right one for the minorities, but not for the entire country.

Mind you I never play down the regional and global factors. I never play down the internal factors of poverty, ignorance, sectarianism, religious extremists, etc. I never pretend that the Syrian political opposition did not screw up over and over again. I never claim that the rebels on the ground were not overcome and poisoned by religious fanatics. All of that is true. Assad had a very steep hill to climb when he took over office. But he was the wrong person at the wrong time, and because of Syria’s history, he did not really have much of a chance, the country was bound to explode in his face, and it did. What he did afterwards was nothing short of catastrophic at a scale that is unprecedented in history. History will judge him on these early decisions which crippled him and led to the country’s destruction.

Now we need a new face that can change the course and the direction of the country, someone who most internal groups can work with. Someone who regional players can work with. Someone acceptable to the world. We are very very deep in a hole and we need everyone in the world to help us dig ourselves out of it.

Either that, or goodbye Syria for ever, and say hello to the Islamic State, Alawistan, etc.

Thumb up 10 Thumb down 9

November 1st, 2014, 1:51 am

 

11. Hopeful said:

An excellent documentary on the rise of ISIS:

http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/rise-of-isis/

Non-inclusive sectarian fascist governments in Iraq and Syria + American disengagement + intolerant religious teachings = the most serious threat the region has seen in over a century.

Good factual reporting and analysis. Not the dumb cheap propaganda that Alan and others have filled these comment sections with over the past years.

Thumb up 9 Thumb down 12

November 1st, 2014, 6:59 am

 

12. Jasmine said:

Hopeful @ 9
The current Syrian president was elected by his own people and till the next election The Syrians are standing with him and supporting him.
Personally I would to repeat someone ‘s else saying:Hafez is still ruling from his grave,the army is still solid and now they gain a marvellous training,I will always support the Syrian army,they represent the pride of Syrians.
Syria is not disappearing and 20 millions are not packing and leaving,majority and minorities are staying put.

Thumb up 9 Thumb down 13

November 1st, 2014, 9:21 am

 

13. Hopeful said:

#11 Jasmine said:

“The current Syrian president was elected by his own people…”

I thought we were making some progress but I guess I was wrong. With attitudes like these, we won’t get anywhere.

Thumb up 13 Thumb down 13

November 1st, 2014, 10:58 am

 

14. Sami said:

In one post Jasmine claims that Syria never said it was democratic yet believes that Assad was elected legitimately…

Assadists doublespeak at its finest!

Thumb up 11 Thumb down 14

November 1st, 2014, 11:23 am

 

15. ghufran said:

Nusra has tightened its grip on Idleb after defeating Jamal Maarouf’s militias, now Idleb joins other provinces where most
or all of the anti government forces fighting the Syrian army are composed of terrorist organizations (Nusra and ISIS), this development is significant politically and militarily and it can be used by NATO, Turkey and the GCC to justify intervention there under the banner of fighting terrorism despite the fact that Turkey and the GCC were in bed with Nusra, however the location of Idleb leaves no choice for the army but to fight any attempt to create a “safe zone” where foreign jets and foreign soldiers from NATO et al are free to operate and attack the Syrian army and other targets while allowing Turkey to set up a piece of Syrian territory under its control as the new home of 1.5 million refugees. The intentions of Turkey and NATO are something but translating those intentions into a reality is something else.
Expect battles elsewhere to make it harder for the army to deploy troops in Idleb and Aleppo (the attack in Homs as an example).
Syrians who are betting their fortune on foreign troops, Turkey and even Israel are no better than the Lebanese who joined Israel’s SLA (Lahd militias)or the Iraqis who supported US invasion of Iraq while working for Iran at the same time !!

Thumb up 7 Thumb down 11

November 1st, 2014, 11:55 am

 

16. Jasmine said:

Hopeful &sami
I solemnly believe that Syria is changing fast toward Democracy,it’s sons have payed great price for the inevitable change.
Tell me about a fair election anywhere in the whole world,even the well developed nation when holding election,the leader can win by a small margin.
Let’s assume that we had four years of a real revolution ,still compare it to the other past revolutions in different part of this globe is a trivial period to the time needed for democracy to be achieved.
So for the non democratic Syria,the election was legitimate enough.

Thumb up 10 Thumb down 14

November 1st, 2014, 12:11 pm

 

17. Atassi said:

#9 Hopeful
Excellent post indeed, it has been a long time since seeing this type of constructive posting. I agree with your statement that We Syrian got ourselves into a deep hole and we need everyone in the world to help us dig ourselves out of it.
We have no other choice.
Jasmin,
I have a deep concern that Syrians will soon be able reach a solution for this war when supposedly an educated person like you come-up with an inclusive statement that Assad was elected by his own people!!

Thumb up 5 Thumb down 14

November 1st, 2014, 12:27 pm

 

18. Jasmine said:

Atassi @16
Please read my explanation @15.
Just one more thing,if I am not happy with the current leader doesn’t mean I have to replace him with the first available one from the opposition who is usually looking for revenge(Maliki versus Sadam).
And you know the rest of the story.

Thumb up 10 Thumb down 13

November 1st, 2014, 1:00 pm

 

19. Mina said:

#16 have you seen “the world” help the Iraqis? the Somalis? the Erythreans?

Cockburn’s (missing) conclusion is that arm dealers are very optimistic for the forecoming period.
http://www.lrb.co.uk/v36/n21/patrick-cockburn/whose-side-is-turkey-on

Thumb up 10 Thumb down 14

November 1st, 2014, 2:22 pm

 

20. Juergen said:

Damascus a short film

Thumb up 8 Thumb down 10

November 1st, 2014, 5:40 pm

 

21. ALAN said:

Matthew: Fill the baggage
http://youtu.be/EgJBtbJShVE?t=1s

Thumb up 8 Thumb down 10

November 1st, 2014, 6:27 pm

 

22. Sami said:

Juergen,

Thank you for the link. Wonderful Poem about the eternal city that I am proud to be son of.

Thumb up 9 Thumb down 11

November 1st, 2014, 7:48 pm

 

23. Sami said:

Jasmine,

No not at all. Legitimacy does not come from “good enough” especially when it comes from a sham election. Legitimacy comes from the will of the people that Assad chose to mow down, imprison and torture to death.

Bashar could’ve been a hero and a saviour of Syria. Instead he chose to call those that voiced themselves for a better Syria as nothing more than germs and infiltrators. He chose his bloody throne at the cost of the nation we proudly call Syria. He’s a criminal, a thief, and a fraud.

Two people I have known my entire life were tortured to death for trying to bring civility and democratic values to their country by the buffoon you call a legitimate representative of Syrians. Neither one can be labelled as anything but moderate, secular Syrians.

Thumb up 10 Thumb down 12

November 1st, 2014, 7:54 pm

 

24. ALAN said:

Matthew: Fill the baggage
http://youtu.be/3yWcjdMVooM?t=1s

Thumb up 8 Thumb down 10

November 1st, 2014, 8:57 pm

 

25. Syrialover said:

A reminder that the rebuilding of Syria will come from green shoots already within Syrians.

A story about amazing gardens families have managed to create inside the hell of Zaatari refugee camp.

http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/2014/10/29/secret-gardens-of-syrias-refugee-camps_n_6068550.html

Thumb up 8 Thumb down 14

November 2nd, 2014, 5:06 am

 

26. Syrialover said:

HOPEFUL #9

I agree with most of what you say.

But on one thing you are too generous.

Objectively speaking – and history will state this – Bashar Assad is rotten fruit from a rotten tree. He has zero DNA to be a hero or saviour or even ordinary standard. It’s biologically impossible.

As an individual with another name, or in any other place, he would fail to get elected or appointed to the lowest level of the smallest town bureaucracy.

History will state (and a lot of the world has announced this already) he was not qualified, competent or entitled to be a “leader” for anyone, anywhere. He is just a weak and stupid front man for a criminal gang, who stole and controlled Syria using corruption, security services and the gun. And have now inevitably destroyed it then handed it over to sectarian Iran to save their skins.

The idea that Bashar Assad could have done anything different or right is an illusion, denying the bleak reality.

Thumb up 10 Thumb down 16

November 2nd, 2014, 5:58 am

 

27. Syrialover said:

My comment above was responding to SAMI in #22, as well as HOPEFUL. Sorry for confusion.

Thumb up 3 Thumb down 15

November 2nd, 2014, 7:35 am

 

28. Sami said:

Syrialover,

I agree completely, and history has proven your point. The idiot Bashar had the chance to actually make a positive change, most likely 4 years ago had he fulfilled the wishes of the Syrian people rather than fulfil his self serving agenda Syria would not be where it’s at today. He blew it like the imbecile he is.

Had he really introduced democratic reforms he could’ve actually been ligitamitley elected as Syria’s president rather than the sham elections he held. But since he did the exact opposite of that, Syria is in the mess we see it today.

Thumb up 3 Thumb down 13

November 2nd, 2014, 12:46 pm

 

29. ghufran said:

The problems in Syria were piling up since 1958 when Syrians accepted, or forced to accept, a union with Egypt, then 1963 when albaath practically became the only political party in Syria, then in 1966 when Syria was ruled by army officers (J’deed and Assad at the helm), that was followed by a coup by Assad,sr in 1970. After 1975 Syria started its ascension, or decline, to become a kingdom ruled by one family with help from merchant class Sunnis and support from a lot, but not most,minorities. The roots for the current crisis started growing in 2000, not in 2011, when the regime heads decided to appoint Bashar as the new king with the blessings of many in the Sunni community who were fearful of both the security chiefs and losing privileges if an outsider was chosen instead of Bashar, Syrians should not have allowed that to happen, some protested but were put in jail or forced outside Syria, not to mention that one or more prominent figures “committed suicide”. I vividly remember how many alawites were uncomfortable and some even fearful that the failure of bringing a non Assad to the position of President will cost Syria, and the alawites in particular, dearly. Instead, many Syrians either applauded the decision or lied to themselves by hoping that the young and inexperienced doctor will bring much needed reform to Syria, the honey moon after the crowning of the new king only lasted 3 years at most.
The main issue in Syria before 2011 was obviously the regime and the network of corrupt individuals (Syrian and non Syrian, alawite and non alawite)that treated Syria like a privately owned business, many of those individuals are now spoke persons for the “revolution” !!
We many never know exactly how involved Bashar was with the decisions that led to the war in 2011 but it is obvious that he is now more involved after the damage is done.
The opposition was outmaneuvered, outgunned and outsourced mostly because its leaders, many lived most of their adult life outside Syria,and its foreign masters were not interested in a new democratic Syria but they simply want to install a new government that is hostile to Iran and Russia and obedient to NATO, Turkey and the GCC. Rebels and the SNC asked and accepted help from foreign governments(including Israel) and allied themselves with Islamist militias and terrorist groups as if the goals justify the means, many rebel leaders were caught on video cheering for Nusra and ISIS, and many rebels who were in the “moderate” camp joined terrorist groups because the issue for most of them is who pays more and who is better at killing Syrian soldiers and Rafidas (Shia and alawites).
Syria is destroyed because both the regime and the opposition did not care about the average Syrian, we have 4 million external and 6 million internal refugees who are the victims of a brutal regime and an irresponsible opposition. The regime chose to bomb any town that is controlled by rebels regardless of how many civilians die in the process but occupying Syrian towns and hiding among civilians was a choice made by the rebels not by the regime. Playing the sectarian card and inciting religious hatred was another choice made by the rebels and their supporters. It is too late to try to rewrite history.
enjoy the wreckage !!

Thumb up 6 Thumb down 9

November 2nd, 2014, 2:32 pm

 

30. Syrialover said:

GHUFRAN #28 wrote about what has happened to Syria:
“enjoy the wreckage !!”

Why do his posts so often leave me with the impression that this is exactly what GHUFRAN is doing?

A summary of his pseudo-historical account above could be: “stupid Syrians, they had it coming to them”

He tries to disguise his contempt and indifference for Syrians with his both-sides-of-the-mouth remarks that lightly scold the Assads.

And he tells us ” Syrians should not have allowed that [Bashar Assad’s ‘leadership appointment’] to happen”, then bizarrely goes on to describe the nasty terror-spreading consequences for those who protested.

And so on and on. A clumsy and cheap attempt at propaganda, with the white paintbrush for the vicious dictatorship and a black paintbrush for those who wanted freedom and dignity like the rest of humanity.

This is the wrong forum to try to sell such simplistic, distorted and biased stuff.

Thumb up 5 Thumb down 15

November 2nd, 2014, 4:00 pm

 

31. Syrialover said:

SAMI,I read an observation the other day that Arab dictatorships are afraid of the people they “rule”. They distrust and despise them.

Any system that is democratic requires a lot of hard work, trust, brainpower and integrity to set up and operate. And done by people who are not there to get rich quick and cheat and terrorise others.

Syria has this in its people – just let them have the chance protected by rule of law and freedom of speech. With state-sponsored terror and corruption gone, gone, gone.

Thumb up 5 Thumb down 14

November 2nd, 2014, 4:21 pm

 

32. ghufran said:

The Lebanese people insisted for years that their own civil war was simply “other peoples’ war on Lebanon’s soil”, and many Syrians repeat a similar phrase today and are only willing to blame the “other side” for what happened. The truth is very inconvenient, folks, and the sooner you face the truth the better:
This bloody dance in Syria required two partners (who said that partners have to be equal), others were cheering, helping, coaching, or funding, but at the end of the day nobody forced regime forces or rebels to do what they did.
The blabbing and whining about my comments should be replaced with an honest admission of guilt followed by a sincere desire to repent 🙂

Thumb up 7 Thumb down 8

November 2nd, 2014, 6:52 pm

 

33. Ghufran said:

Sohr poll

هل يصمد النظام اقتصاديا بعد سيطرة تنظيم”الدولة الاسلامية” على منابع النفط والغاز في سوريا ؟
لا (51%, 18 Votes)
نعم (49%, 17 Votes)

The regime, with or without Bashar, will probably survive but I am not sure if Syria will remain as a state with the previous 2011 borders. One can not ignore the hidden,yet clear, desire by some Syrians to see Isis and turkey taking control of parts of Syria instead of seeing those parts returning to government’s control. There are already posts on social media by educated thawrajiyyeh suggesting that giving sultan Erdogang a free hand in Syria is Syria’s ” only hope” for survival.
يا أمة ضحكت من جهلها الامم

Thumb up 5 Thumb down 8

November 2nd, 2014, 7:51 pm

 

34. Observer said:

Ghufran is like Tom Friedman, a pro Israel Zionist who like to criticize some aspects of Israel’s Zionist policies so that he can turn around under the guise of neutrality and skewer the Palestinians and deflect from the basic argument about the Zionist ideology which is Jewish ISIL, the Zionist occupation of Palestine which is ethnic cleansing, the Zionist IDF which is a genocidal machine.

The ME is a car without brakes and with barely functioning steering wheel.

Mr. Maarouf was defeated because he emulated the regime creating a fiefdom of extortions and warlordism. His own troops defected on him.

So now, the pro regime people who accuse the opposition of being Western stooges find these Western stooges being defeated by Nusra. So they will congratulate Nusra for defeating the US. Or the other way is that the US should defeat the Nusra while we defeat the FSA and let us be together fighting terror so that the regime can then use the US to defeat the US project in Syria.

These pretzel arguments that I point out to are the proof that the region has lost its mind collectively.

One last note: no nation is laughing at the nations of the ME today. They do not care one bit about the ME. They want to be as far away from the ME as possible.

Thumb up 6 Thumb down 14

November 3rd, 2014, 7:42 am

 

35. ALAN said:

طز ثاني بعد هاربر يخص أوباما :
http://youtu.be/e-G5KLrTh_Y?t=1s
Ray McGovern was arrested while attempting to attend an event featuring former CIA head General David Petraeus, former right-wing Center for a New American Security president Lt. Col. John Nagl, and neocon foreign policy commentator Max Boot.

Seventy-five-year-old McGovern is a former CIA analyst (1963 – 1990), turned activist/political critic/social justice advocate.

On October 30, he was brutally and lawlessly arrested in New York. For exercising his constitutional rights….
http://mycatbirdseat.com/2014/11/86544-ray-mcgovern-brutally-arrested-at-entrance-to-david-petraeus-speaking-event/
الخزي لهذه الادارات المجرمة.
ألاتزالون تصفقون لهم؟ ستنالون منهم قدركم!

Thumb up 5 Thumb down 8

November 3rd, 2014, 8:57 am

 

36. Hopeful said:

For every silly loyalist conspiracy theory about how the “west” created the revolution to get back at Assad for his “steadfastness”, there is an equally silly conspiracy theory on how the “west” stopped the revolution to protect the regime. Here is one: http://www.all4syria.info/Archive/176306

Syrians do not like to take responsibility for destroying their own country. The regime does not want to admit that its brutality and corruption made the people explode. The opposition does not want to admit that its inner-fighting and sectarian tendencies led to its demise. The Syrians do not want to admit that behind closed doors, they all teach their children that they are the better sect, the true Syrians, and the real children of God. So they all invent stories on how the “others” have “planned” to do all of this to us. Why? Because we are very special!

Reminds me of the Greeks and their Gods. Whenever they were short of answers with a phenomenon, they invented a God to blame for it!

Thumb up 6 Thumb down 12

November 3rd, 2014, 10:48 am

 
 

38. Ghufran said:

Hopeful:

“Syrians do not like to take responsibility for destroying their own country. The regime does not want to admit that its brutality and corruption made the people explode. The opposition does not want to admit that its inner-fighting and sectarian tendencies led to its demise. The Syrians do not want to admit that behind closed doors, they all teach their children that they are the better sect, the true Syrians, and the real children of God. So they all invent stories on how the “others” have “planned” to do all of this to us. Why? Because we are very special!”

Thank you

Thumb up 6 Thumb down 5

November 3rd, 2014, 8:38 pm

 

39. annie said:

The poem in the film mentionned by Juergen about Damascus is by Mahmud Darwich ? I thought it would be Nizar Qabbani

Thumb up 3 Thumb down 2

November 4th, 2014, 4:33 am

 
 

41. Syrialover said:

Hassan Nasrullah’s role as a filthy rat who spread a toxic plague of sectarian fleas is now assured in Middle Eastern history.

While ISIS gets the spotlight, the deep widespread atrocities of extremist Shia militias hasn’t made world headlines.

And the catastrophic interference and conflict role of Iran in Syria, Lebanon and Iraq (and now it seems in Yemen) is usually left out of the narrative.

But it’s forever lodged in the consciousness of those suffering on the ground. People on all sides of the current conflict.

Also everyone caught the net of supporting Hezbollah will be left as scarred victims.

How deep is the damage?

Look at this: “Hezbollah’s Pre-Schooler’s Guide to War: A Peek Inside Mahdi Mag” – https://now.mmedia.me/lb/en/blogs/564320-hezbollahs-pre-schoolers-guide-to-war-a-peek-inside-mahdi-mag

Thumb up 3 Thumb down 8

November 4th, 2014, 3:11 pm

 

42. ALAN said:

Notice that ISIS are sworn enemies of Syria, Hizbu’llah, and Iran. This in itself gives a most obvious clue as to the identity of the group’s benefactors.

A prevalent liberal cliché is the “blowback” theory – the theory that ISIS terror attacks, and indeed the group’s very existence, are somehow in retaliation to US/Western/”Israeli” foreign policy actions.

This is a disingenuous theory that is disseminated in order to keep the empire’s citizens on side. Crucially, it distracts from a key truth.
..

In moving across the Syrian-Iraqi border, ISIS – Zionism’s footsoldiers – underwent a magical media transformation into the ‘bad guys’. The ‘war against ISIS’ is a con, a total scam. It is a pretext for a war against the resistance axis: chiefly Syria, Hizbu’llah, Iran, and the Palestinian resistance. It is a pretext to kick the ‘Yinon plan’ – the plan to balkanise the Arab world to ensure “Israeli” hegemony – into high gear

http://empirestrikesblack.com/2014/09/isis-is-not-blowback-from-western-foreign-policy-they-are-western-foreign-policy/

Thumb up 2 Thumb down 6

November 4th, 2014, 3:52 pm

 

43. Syrialover said:

Desperate or on drugs?

Who cares. It’s very funny.

Nasrallah calls for region free from sectarianism (Iranian TV) – http://www.presstv.ir/detail/2014/11/04/384702/nasrallah-calls-for-region-free-from-sectarianism/

Won’t work, Hassan, too late. Your fat backside’s bare with big targets printed on it.

Thumb up 3 Thumb down 8

November 4th, 2014, 4:17 pm

 

44. Syrialover said:

ALAN you are so funny and cute.

Iran and Hizbullah as poor little victims, eh?

Thanks for the hilarious twisted conspiracy theorists conspiracy theory in #41.

Hahahah.

Thumb up 3 Thumb down 8

November 4th, 2014, 4:28 pm

 
 
 

47. ALAN said:

“The “trouncing” was accomplished without a shot being fired. Two US-backed groups, the Syrian Revolutionary Front and Harakat Hazm (Steadfastness Movement), surrendered without opposing the Al Qaeda-linked militia. ”

The “steadfastness movement”..how rich. You just cant make this stuff up. Almost as absurd as “moderate Syrian rebels threaten to execute more captives if demands not met”..

“The real war is still to come and will be launched in earnest once today’s midterm elections are over. Given the sorry state of Washington’s chosen proxy forces in both Iraq and Syria and the real aims that it is pursuing—US imperialist hegemony over the entire Middle East—sooner rather than later this new war will involve large numbers of US ground troops in another killing spree.”

and we’ve already seen how that ends. whatever war plans Washington pursues at this point seem doomed to fail, and it seems either that the Washington/Euro axis can no longer bribe the “allied” ruling classes it wishes to control, or that stratum of Middle Eastern society is weakened and can no longer exert enough control, or the Washington/euro axis is fatally fractured and working against each others interests whenever they can, despite the public displays of political cohesion.
http://www.wsws.org/en/articles/2014/11/04/isis-n04.html

Thumb up 2 Thumb down 4

November 5th, 2014, 5:25 pm

 

48. SYRIAN HAMSTER said:

Sounds like a media contract or grant to salvage the rotten reputation of a dead murderous criminal. You call this a work of historian.

Damn it, doctors have to get a license even after studying for nearly two decades, lawyers have to do the same, engineers as well and so do accountants. Only those who write history, and shape public opinion don’t need licences. No wonder history tales are so screwed and skewed.

The topic itself is offensive.

There is nothing of human quality in that family. And before someone starts shrieking, yes I am demonizing the bastards. For that what they are. So not matter how far the “Syria Studies Association” remains faithful to their old friend former Syrian Ambassador, any attempt to cast anything ass-add family does or is, as being of human quality, will always be suspect.

Thumb up 1 Thumb down 2

November 7th, 2014, 5:28 am

 

Post a comment