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Sketch of the political history of Syria in the twentieth and early twenty-first century
Material posted: Publication date: 30-09-2013

To understand the particularities of the conflict in Syria, we must at least briefly understand the history of the country, its religious and national and social structure. Syria is an ancient state in the Eastern Mediterranean at the crossroads and ways from Mesopotamia, Asia Minor and the Caucasus, Palestine and Egypt, and other countries.

Its territory had been happening so often moves peoples raged so many wars and conflicts that their "coals" smolder still. Many features of the division of the population along ethno-religious lines have the strongest impact on lifestyle, political and religious life in the country. For several reasons. Syria relatively recently emerged from the middle ages, and in some aspects of life and impact of the archaic features of the communal system. Still some Arabs are divided along tribal lines.

Even more strongly influenced by religious communities. For centuries they were closed on themselves, religion was the core of their unity and survival, the power of religious and tribal leaders was absolute. In modern times, these traditions continue to play a decisive role, although a Patriarchal society in General has gone in the past, the power of the sheikhs was transformed into the power of political clans. In its simplest form can be represented this effect by overlaying maps of the national and religious composition of the population at a map of hostilities a year ago or very recent – and to see a clear reference to the separation of Syria and districts of the war, the resettlement of certain communities.


Religious composition of Syria's population

In Syria from the time of the Apostle Paul is home to a strong community of Christian Arabs of various faiths. A significant part of the Christian Arabs of the Syrian-Orthodox. The Orthodox call themselves and acuity-Arians (up to 700 000 followers). The rest are divided into the Eastern branch of Catholicism type Maronite or Uniate. There are also representatives of the Armenian churches, the Nestorians – being. Christians make up 10-11% of the population. Historically having wide contacts in Europe, the Syrian Christians had greater access to European education and culture, forming a significant layer of the Syrian intelligentsia.

Sectarian map of Syria (Сирия-религии.jpg)

A small number live in Judea, mostly in the Jewish quarter of Damascus. Although for millennia the Jews had a stronger position in Syria, at the moment no role in religious, political, or economic.

In VII century of our era the territory of modern Syria was conquered by the Arabs. The indigenous population was subjected to arabization and Islamization. Since then, Arabic has become a major, and Sunni Islam – the dominant religion – 86 % of the population.

Sunnis make up about 80 percent of Syrian Muslims, refugees from Palestine and Iraq ( up to 10% of the population) are not citizens of Syria.

Due to its geographical location, Syria was at the crossroads of three major Masherov of Sunnism. Half of all Syrian Sunnis adhere to hanbalischool persuasion, Kurds, and Bedouins – Shafi'i. In the South of the country there are the Maalik. Particular differences between these senses is not, as mashabi differ in the sources of Islamic law, not on creed.

The division contributes to the presence and activity of many Sufi orders: Naqshbandi, katiria, Rashidiya, raffia and other. They are often similar to the male community, however, practiced by some orders of mysticism (mainly for ritual level) contributes to the clericalization of the Sunni Ummah (Islamic religious community or the local community of the faithful). To some extent the activities of the Sufi orders creates fertile ground for the spread of radical Islamic ideas, like the situation in the North Caucasus. In the doctrines of the Naqshbandi order founded active involvement in political life for the purpose of imposing the Islam. For centuries this order was active in missionary activity, including in the North Caucasus (where it became the basis of Muridism) and in Central Asia, but they usually become reactionary policy strictly medieval religious norms of life.

The Sunnis of Syria United under the rule of the Grand mufti, have the authority to issue fatwas. His residence is in HOMS.

More than half a century in Syria, propagated the ideology of radical Islam presents an ideology of "Muslim brotherhood" and more stringent forms of Wahhabism, also called Salafism. The last of its kind "Protestants" of Islam, as well as the first Protestant preaching "a return to the original Islam", asceticism, religious fanaticism, including manifesting himself in the Jihad. His role is greatly increased with worsening socio-economic situation and political situation of the Sunni Ummah of Syria and due to active missionary activity and the financial support of emissaries from Saudi Arabia, where Salafism is the state religion.

To the Sunnis is a special part of the Arab ethnic group – the Bedouin. Earlier, their tribes roamed throughout Arabia, not recognizing state borders is rather conventional in the desert. Rich cultural and Syria has attracted them as the object of the raids and conquest. In the early 50's, most of the Bedouin population turned to the pale of settlement. Previously their main wealth had camels for desert transport and source of livelihood. When the main transport was a car, the Bedouins moved in commodity sheep farming, which has drastically reduced distances of their movements. Now in Syria more than a million lives of the Bedouins who adhere to old orders and customs, traditions of militancy, revenge, "honour killings" and dividing it by the tribes.

Along with "classic" and radical Islam-Sunni, Syria is home to many Islamic sects. Traditionally, they are combined into a group of "Shia", although the faithful Shia, like the majority of the population of Iran or Iraq, among them not a lot.

The main difference between the Shiites from the Sunnis is denial of the Sunnah (records of stories about the life of the prophet Muhammad); the veneration of the descendants of Ali the successor of Muhammad; the teaching of the "hidden Imam" - one of the first followers of Mohammed, mysteriously disappeared and would appear in the day of judgment and judge all Muslims.

In a sectarian Shiite teachings, tends to some non-canonical incarnation of the "hidden Imam", as well as an announcement to those of some historical figures of Islam, attributed to the incarnation in their earthly body of the highest deity. Also loosely interpreted the very existence of Allah in the world.

The largest community of Shia Syria - the alawites (the self-designation of nucerity). In their cult of Islam is closely woven with Christianity and paganism. The alawites can be baptized (considered a pagan ritual from the "evil eye"), to drink wine, to be venerated as saints of Christ and the virgin Mary. Actually Islam in their interpretation looks to the doctrine of the Trinity, where Allah is the embodiment, and various prophets equal to Mohammed. Alawism close Sufism, in particular the doctrine of the sect of the Bektashi, a former "inner religion" of the order of the Janissaries in the Ottoman Empire. Now the Alawite community of Turkey (from 10% to one third of the population) is the main social base of radical left movement, and mass movements for the secularisation of Turkish society. This factor implicitly affect Syrian-Turkish relations.

Throughout its history, the alawites were presonality Orthodox Muslims and occupied the Levantine societies in the lowest rung of the social hierarchy, performing the most strenuous and dirty work. Persecution has developed a special style of life – the secrecy of the sect to outsiders (including from women), the division of societies, dedicated and profane.

The alawites have developed specific rules of conduct in society: in relations with strangers, you can pretend to be a Muslim or representative of any other religion, while secretly confessing their alevism.

The main part of the alawites live in the so-called "Alawite arc" or "belt" extending from the North of Lebanon (Tripoli) on the coast of Syria (Tartus, Latakia) to "Turkish Syria" - Iskenderun, Antioch and surrounding provinces. To specify their number can only be approximate. Due to the concept of a secret confession of their faith, the alawites do not always advertise their affiliation. Most sources indicate about 10% of Syria's population, although the figures are 12% and even 16 %. The alawites of Syria is divided into 5 main sects led by their spiritual leaders.

To separate Shia Ismailis belong for professing the unorthodox doctrine of "hidden imams". The researchers note a strong influence on the Ismaili Buddhism, Mazdaism, as well as ancient cults of antiquity.

Social hierarchy of the Ismailis all over the world built on the principle of religious orders, managed from a single center Imam Aga Khan. Now his residence is in Switzerland, but most of the Ismailis live in Afghanistan. The Ismaili community is closed to outsiders.

The Ismailis consist of 2-3% of Syria's population. Traditionally, the Ismailis were engaged in various income-generation activities, therefore have great wealth and influence, on the country of residence. In Syria, the Ismailis have historically resisted the alawites, which led to frequent violent clashes.

According to the dominating tradition (not confirmed many details of modern research), in the times of the Crusades Sheikh Ismaili Ibn Sabbah, called "the old man of the Mountain", has created a secret military-religious order, which had a fortified base-locks in inaccessible mountains. His followers practised individual terror against the crusaders in response to the repression of the Muslim population from the Christian conquerors. Suicide bombers are mentioned in the Chronicles under the name "Hashishin", allegedly for the use of cannabis before the attack. Themselves they called the "fidains" - "donate (for Islam)". The infrastructure of the order was destroyed during the Mongol invasion.

Legends about brave fidains have a strong influence on the worldview of modern jihadists ("warriors of Jihad"). The most radical terrorist organizations is organized by the example of the order of Huseinov, considering themselves as their spiritual heirs. In particular, "al-Qaeda" with the late bin Laden in the role of "old man of the mountain".

As old (sometimes mistakenly attributed to the Shia) is the community – the Druze, a closed ethno-religious community, considered to be one of the most militant in the middle East. In their religious "Shia" doctrine is also a lot of original, for example the doctrine of the transmigration of souls.

Live mostly near the border with Israel and Lebanon. Have always been very warlike – remaining unconquered almost throughout 4 centuries of Ottoman rule. Only in the mid-19th century were subordinated to the French, recognized the authority of the Ottoman Sultan, although there was on the rights of autonomy. Still subject to the Supreme Sheikh, whose residence is located in the city of es-Suwayda.


Ethnic minorities

Another warlike people – the Kurds live now in the North of the country. Unlike the Arabs, constituting 88 % of the Syrian population, the Kurds of areazione. Are averaging 9-10 % or over 2 million people. Until recently, the Syrian Kurds were deprived of civil rights, more than 300 000 of them lived on the "non-citizens". Officially, the Kurds are Sunni Muslim, the number of Shiites is relatively small. Some Kurds secretly or openly profess the religion options "azdaism" - a mixture of local cults, Zoroastrianism, and Islam. Part openly adheres to the teachings of the Ali-Ilahi (close to alevism), part – alevism (not to be confused with alevizom), part – of yezidism. Followers recite the latter from 30 to 70 thousand people.

Ethnic map of Syria (Сирия-этническая-карта.jpg)

For the most daring estimates of adherents of all sects of azdaism among the Syrian Kurds, there are about 130 thousand people. Small ethno-religious community of Syria, make up more than 40% of its population. They all snapped to their local community, to the doctrines of their sects and religions. Live in enclaves in various parts of the country. Most communities, before the reign of the BA'ath party was organized in the manner of religious orders, had a strict hierarchy and militant tradition. In part, these traditions have survived to present day, and social tension in Syria and the deterioration of the economic situation, many returned to the fold of traditional religions.

From the "Turkish inheritance" that influenced the current situation in the middle East, remained displaced peoples. They are descendants moved with the king from the North Caucasus militant peoples: the Adygeis, Circassians, Kabardins, Chechens today live in Syria under the umbrella name "Circassians". Due to the traditional militancy and lack of family ties among the local population, of which formed the guard of the leaders of the Arab tribes of later sultans. This tradition and today a strong in the middle East. They feel a lot of sympathy to modern immigrants from the North Caucasus. Circassian minority is relatively small (less than 1% of the population), most of them living in the South of Syria, tens of thousands scattered throughout. Significant in Syria, and the percentage of repressed forcibly resettled here during the First World war – primarily Armenians (up to 2% of the population). As well as the Assyrians, also formally professing Nestorian Christianity, but also practicing their ancient cults. Although most of the Turks had been expelled from Syria in the first quarter of the twentieth century, there was a special part of the Turkic ethnic group – the Syrian Turkmen (not to be confused with the Turkmen of Turkmenistan, Iran, Transcaucasia) are descendants of the ancient nomadic Turkic tribes or sedentary Turkish population. Part of their preserved remnants of tribal division. The other part of the civilized specialize in different industries and businesses. So almost the entire footwear industry monopolized by Syria's Turkmens. This minority can also be attributed to the category of pariahs, like the Kurds subjected to systematic arabization.


Turkish and French occupation of Syria

For nearly 400 years the territory of modern Syria belonged to the Ottoman Empire. Feature of the Turkish rule was mainly military and administrative presence in the main points, the levying of tribute and taxes. The power belonged to the lords of the Egyptian Mamluk (Egyptian) descent - the peoples of Syria have experienced double oppression. "Syria" of those times was represented by historical-geographical definition, included different parts in 6 wilayatul (provinces) of the Ottoman Empire. Egypt, has always lived a semi-Autonomous part of the Ottoman Empire after the campaign of Napoleon led policy of separation from Turkey. The territory of the Levant (Syria, Lebanon, Palestine, Jordan) went to Egypt. Istanbul had to resort to the help of France to bring back these territories, which France had demanded to grant autonomy to the Lebanon (formerly part of Syria), turning it into their semi-colony, and thence spreading its influence in Syria. Relations between Arabs and Turks was characterized by mutual contempt. Arabs annoyed the claim of the Turks to rule in the Islamic world as the Sultan took the title of Caliph. According to Arab tradition, the Caliph can only be Arab descendant of the Prophet. The hatred of Arab intellectuals fueled the memory that the Arab-Muslim the rise of culture has been undermined by the invasion at first wild nomads of polyanionic Seljuks, and finally extinguished by the conquests of the Ottomans.

The Turks have constantly felt the pressure recalcitrant Arab-Bedouin tribes of Arabia, sometimes bringing with them a real war of annihilation. An Arab-Syrian was difficult to get into the power structures of the Empire, to enter the service as an officer in the Turkish army. The local nobility had to be content with power within the Arab tribes, with the roles of wealthy landowners or merchants. From conscription were released all the Gentiles, to whom were attributed, and alawites. "Incorrect" - the kafir pay a special "tax on non-Muslims" - jasia. During the Caliphate of Gaza was intended to be of interest economically conquered by the Arab people in early Islam. In the Ottoman Empire, he took the opposite form – the mass move of their Gentile to Islam were opposed by the authorities, receiving additional funds from Gazli. Special reference was given to the alawites, paying tribute in 2-3 large than Sunni neighbors.

Not subject to mobilization nomadic Arab Bedouins. Among the Arabs of the oases set in the army was limited. But the militant Kurds was one of the foundations of the cavalry of the Turkish army. The situation changed only after the young Turk revolution of 1908. Conscription of all Ottoman subjects became mandatory. Was declared the freedom of the press and of Assembly, formation of political associations, some of which received the right to elect delegates to the Turkish Parliament, where the Arabs had their faction. To the period of the late 19th – early 20th century is the emergence in Damascus of the ideas of Arab nationalism, originally expressed in pan-Arabism. In those days, little distinction between Arab populations of Iraq, Syria, Palestine and other countries was performed, because the Arabs considered themselves one people, oppressed by the Ottomans deprived of "national centers", that is, statehood. The main political idea was the first achievement of autonomy within the Ottoman Empire, and then and independence for all the Arab nation. For Syrians caught in the geographical center of the Arab world, this idea seemed the most natural, and Damascus was anciently a centre for Arab culture and focus of the intelligentsia, "the generator of ideas". In parallel in the Ottoman Empire developed the idea of pan-Islamism. As the pan-Islamism imagined world unity of the faithful under the rule of the Caliph (a title that was worn by the Turkish Sultan), who shared this idea, the Arabs had maintained absolute loyalty to the Ottomans. Ideas of Arabism and Islamism were divorced back in Genesis. In the future, Arab nationalism tended to secularism.

The idea of pan-Islamism, the young Turks combined with turanizm ("state of Turan" from China to the Balkans) and ideology (the unity of the Turkic peoples), soon transformed into extreme Turkish nationalism. The former allies - the Arab nationalists - more recently, who welcomed and supported their revolution, were enemies. With the outbreak of the First World War on non-Turkish nationalists collapsed repression. The event strongly influenced the tradition of Syria – the "Arab national revolt". To prevent riots in the national Borderlands, the Turks acted ahead of the curve, crushing in the Bud the explosion of Arab nationalism in the cities and executed in 1916, more than 2000 prominent representatives of the Syrian intelligentsia. Rebellious villages were burned, the population was killed. Similarly the Turks did to their subjects Christians: Armenians, Greeks, Assyrians. A significant portion of veseljaci in the Syrian desert. Just repression killed up to 1.5 million non-Turkish population of the Empire. Deliverance comes from the depths of the Arabian desert. With the support of England's legendary Lawrence of Arabia organized the revolt of nomadic tribes in Mecca region. The uprising was a success, culminating with the capture of the Arab tribes (with British troops) of Damascus in 1918. Syria became the first independent state and the first Arab bonvivants on the territory of the collapsed Ottoman Empire Anti-Turkish Arab revolt brought independence (often formal) several Arab countries formed on the territory of the Ottoman Empire: Iraq, Saudi Arabia and TRANS-Jordan. So the British settled with the major tribal leaders of the rebellious Bedouins: king Faisal, the Saudis, Hashemite.

The strategically important regions of the Levant were divided between the victors in the war. So Palestine, went to England, Lebanon and Syria is France, although the Syrian Arab independence was promised by Lawrence of Arabia and higher ranks. Which led to the deployment of French troops in Syria, the elimination of independence, and the next – already anti-French Arab revolt in Syria in the mid 20-ies, which was suppressed brutally by new colonizers. By 30-th years of the Syria - dependent state of France with 4 Autonomous regions (including the Druze and alawites). The real power remained in the hands of the colonial military administration, and with the outbreak of the Second World War the country was under the occupation of Vichy detention first troops of France and the German-Italian Commission. After a short but bloody war Syria was occupied by Free French troops. To gain broad support among the local population, the Gaullists in the summer of 1941 declared Syria independent.

Forming a new administration in the 20-30 years of the twentieth century, including indigenous armed forces, the French did not trust the Arabs-the Sunnis – the main participants of the riots, and relied on people from minorities. Due to the lack of religious hostility, the Syrian Christians, who eagerly joined the Western culture, sought to get a European education, to promote the creative industries. Christians have become a significant layer of new Syrian in telligence. Local Sunni Arabs have not developed traditions and a desire to serve in the administration and army of invaders, they rarely sought to make a career in the Ottomans and the French. Footage supplied humiliated peoples and strata of Syrian Christians, Kurds, Turkmen, alawites. For alawites service in the colonial army were the only means of social mobility. They willingly recruited into the army and acted in the only military school.

At the end of the Second World War was followed by the new Arab revolt against the colonizers. In 1946 the French troops were withdrawn howling. Syria gained real independence.


The post-war period

After the war, Syria and the entire Arab East, was in new to the region, political trends, in one form or another over the concept of "socialism". Major political parties: the Arab Baath socialist Party (PSV)-also called the BA'ath ("Renaissance") was a half-underground position of the Communists and the national social party of Syria, which came to power. At its head stood the party's anti-Ottoman uprising Cuatri al-Shukri. The party was the bearer of a Pro-fascist ideology of the "social state" were distinguished by their anti-Semitism and sympathies for the Nazis. Many Nazi criminals have taken refuge in Syria, arose the Foundation of security services. In such a political course of Syria's participation in anti-Israel war of 1948 was quite natural. Since then, an active anti-Israeli position that Syria is the main foreign policy tradition, despite the changing of modes and courses. Of course, to hold Arab nationalism to blame in the conflict is meaningless, because all parties to the Arab-Israeli conflict embracing principles of national superiority and exclusivity. The Syrian army has experienced rapid growth, due to our defence needs, and also as a political tool to suppress the constant uprisings. Immediately after independence, the Druze rebelled, demanding autonomy, then the alawites.

In the calculation of career and the associated income and benefits Sunni Muslims swept into power in bureaucratic positions. Military career did not attract them because of low yields and burdens of regular service. As well as the absence among Sunni Arabs traditions of military service. However, the highest posts in the army was shared by representatives of 12 of the richest Sunni clans. The backbone of the army leadership be equipped with former members of the Omani and native parts of the French armies, mostly Kurds.

Vacancy for Junior officers and cadets of military schools was half filled with representatives of the most despised caste of the Syrian society – alawites, the other half was replaced by other minorities, primarily Druze.

Immigrants from lower social strata - the alawites also willing to share the ideas of socialism and actively involved in the activities of the BAATH party. From the Marxist variant of Arab socialism is the denial of atheism, materialism and internationalism. That brings BAAS platform with the national socialists. Actually under the name of pass it was formed in 1954 by the merger of the two parties that emerged in 1947: the Arab Renaissance Party and the Arab socialist party. Ideologists were the Orthodox Arab socialist Michel Aflak, the leader of the party became a Sunni Salah al-DIN Bitar. another prominent figure was alawit Akram Hourani. The party initially positioned itself as a pan-Arab, its "branches" have emerged in Iraq and many Arab States, sometimes acting in the underground.

With the growing ranks of the BA'ath grew its influence, than he hastened to take advantage of the representatives of the propertied classes, who sought to turn it into a powerful political instrument in their hands. In that period, ideas of nationalism increasingly dominated the party, which attracted many Sunnis.

In the late 40's – early 50-ies in Syria was a series of coups, which came to power war-Kurds led by Colonel Shishakli, who ruled with a hard hand under chauvinistic slogans of "greater Syria". The dictatorship caused the dissatisfaction of both the Arab elite, and the socialists and the masses. Collective hatred has helped to displace in 1954 the dictator. Under the banner of pan-Arabism came to power "unionists" in 1958, the year came to an agreement about unification with Egypt in the government of the UAR (United Arab Republic). Since the Soviet Union actively supported Egypt, and Syria began to perepast part of the Soviet military and economic aid. This period would later be called "the beginning of the Soviet-Syrian friendship."

The head of Egypt's Gamal Abdel Nasser, were placed in key positions of leadership of Syria, the Egyptians, and the part of the Syrians were invited into Egypt to occupy, mostly second-class post. In 1960, Nasser announced the construction of "Arab national socialism" (while actively planting of Communists in the UAR prison) and held in Egypt and Syria reforms the nationalization of the economy, which has caused indignation of representatives of local capital. In 1961, after three and a half years joins Syria in a bloodless coup, was released from SAR. Fearing a Kurdish military dictatorship and the spread in the Kurdish territories of Syria, Turkey, Iraq, Iran, the idea of creating a "state of Kurdistan", and following the course of Arab nationalism, the new leadership of Syria in 62-m to year have removed the Kurds from the army. A significant portion of the Kurdish minority was declared "foreigners", the Kurds are deprived of the opportunity to hold public office, to learn the native language, to publish a Kurdish newspaper, to form political parties and other public organizations. Actively pursued a policy of forced arabization.


The era of the BAATH

In March 1963 came to power through coup came BAATH. It is noteworthy that in Iraq, the local branch of the BAATH first seized power in February the same year. A big role in the success of the coup played a supporting Alawite officers Druze, Ismaili and Christian politics. After the coup stringent requirements to join the party was canceled – during the year the number of its members increased by 5 times. In the BA'ath rushed the representatives of the lower social strata, above all the alawites, thereby creating in its ranks an overwhelming numerical superiority.

BAAS has established a one-party regime. In such regimes, the political struggle becomes intra-party and non-partisan opposition can active only for legitimate niches: religious and cultural. Inside the BA'ath was a struggle between left and right. At first, the prevailing right-wing representatives of the Sunni bourgeoisie and the landlords originally held in BAATH strong position. The country was headed by Amin Hafiz, a Sunni, the Prime Minister became the Bitar. When its "right" position, he, nevertheless, continued a course Nasser on the nationalization of major industries and celgosivir, selecting the large feudal land and dividing the land among the peasants. In foreign policy focused on the Soviet Union and received Soviet military aid.

As a result of disagreements in 1966 there was a new coup under the leadership of the left wing of the party on the leaders, the alawites Salah Jadid and Hafiz al-Assad. The BA'ath proclaimed the slogan: "Unity, freedom, socialism". The founding fathers of the BA'ath Aflaq and Bitar fled to Iraq. And in the army, and in the party the bulk of that period was the alawites, because the past fifty years of the BAATH also called the "power of the alawites". Since a large Alawite military and party leaders belonged to the category of "uninitiated", in fact came to power, social class group, not a religious sect. The country is virtually ruled the world, still accelerated economic reform, resulting in the occurrence of medium and even small capital. He has created a powerful security agencies, actively repressirovali dissidents. Army was integrated into the party structure the BA'ath. It matured in opposition to the Resistance led by former colleague on the coup air force commander Hafez al-Assad. By the end of the 60s Between Jadida and Asadam broke out almost an open struggle for power. In foreign policy, Syria has actively approached with the USSR and other socialist countries. At the same time jadīd spoiled relations with all Syria's neighbors in the region except Egypt.

Continuous reforms to nationalize industry, transportation, banks, land resources and mineral resources has led to capital flight from the country and owners of capital in Lebanon and Egypt. What greatly aggravated the financial situation, already tense because of large military expenditures. The situation is close to economic collapse happened after the defeat in the six day war of 67-th year. Then Israeli aircraft brought down many elements of the infrastructure (they are also large economic objects). The deteriorating economic situation led to a popular disturbance, 68-69. A failed expedition in support of the Palestinians in Jordan in mid September of 1970 and the death of ally of Nasser on September 28, stripped Jadida support outside and inside the country. He was removed from his "friend - rival" Hafez al-Assad in November of the same year. In the official mythology of this BAATH coup called the "corrective revolution".

It is considered that the BA'ath copied the Soviet model of political system that is not so. Copied in outline was the structure of the Soviet army. The political structure was more like a "people's democracies": in the economy closer to Poland, where most of the farmland was privately owned, there were small private enterprises and a powerful state sector of the economy, and political structure to Czechoslovakia, where the HRC was the leader of the National front, which included a dozen parties. In Syria, the HRC has held the BA'ath, the Union parties called the national Progressive front (PFPA), United as the Syrian Communists and three of the socialist party. Your SNP existed in Iraq where the rules of the "Iraqi branch of the BA'ath". Like their Syrian brethren, the backbone of the Iraqi authorities were representatives of the Sunni minority, who ruled the Shiites and the Kurds. Like Syria, the government party became the power of its leader, Saddam Hussein clan and its many relatives. He was also attracted to the power of a minority rogue-like Iraqi Christians.

BAAS adhered to a secular course, limiting the influence of religion to the minimum of what is possible in a Muslim country. There was an active propaganda in the spirit of "moderate" Arab nationalism and socialism. There was a new "socialist" layer of the Syrian nation is divorced from ethno-religious roots and focused on national and state community. The ideology of "Syrian branch" of the BA'ath specialists of the CPSU defined the term "petty-bourgeois" - expressing the interests of small owner not using hired labour: farmer, artisan, merchant. Fine property combined with rigid state control was supposed to end exploitation. Such politico-economic course, unlike capitalist and Communist, was called the "third way of development".

Quite a long time in Syria adhered to the "social contract" - while the authorities pursued a policy in the interests of the majority of the population, they put up with the rigidity of the government and abuses its members. In the direction of socialism have created an almost unlimited flow of aid from the USSR, especially after the coming to power Assad, the Syrian legalize the Communist party, earlier nights stay relax in the underground and exposed to repression. The Soviet Union, the GDR, Bulgaria and other countries of the CMEA build capital facilities in Syria, including the largest hydroelectric power station on the Euphrates river that enabled the creation of large irrigation systems and irrigate desert land. The orientation of the USSR on the construction of large industrial facilities in developing countries, in addition to direct political benefits, were also ideological in nature – the creation of the local proletariat, which strengthened the social base of the local Communists. In the case of Syria such a policy is justified. No matter how the BA'ath sought to support small-scale private industrial enterprises today give 3/4 of industrial production. The Communists have intensified the impact. Standing on positions of internationalism, they tried to ease the situation of Syrian Kurds, in particular organized their studies in universities of countries of the CMEA. But any decisive influence on the policies of the BAATH its associates SNP had not. Since the end of 1973-the year, in connection with the beginning of the reorientation of Egypt's Alliance with the US, Syria is the main ally of the USSR in the middle East and main beneficiary. That helped to create one of the most well-armed in the middle East armies, not inferior to co-Sedna Turkey, where the population is 3 times more, and GDP is 10 times higher.

By the early 80s there has been a decline of the world system of socialism and leftist ideas in General. The leaders of the Arab socialism: Assad, Hussein, Arafat, Gaddafi turned into authoritarian dictators, and the idea of the socialist way Arabic has undergone deep erosion. Increased corruption, stagnation in the economy. In Syria, the government of the BAATH party, the Alawite community eventually flowed into the hands of the Assad clan. Started "creeping privatization" of state enterprises and companies actually went under the control of clan members and close associates. In parallel in the Muslim world on the shield was raised the idea of Islamism, which led to the Islamic revolution in Iran. Opposition to the BAATH regime also took the form of political radical Islam. In Syria, this struggle was headed by the "Muslim brotherhood". Organization "Muslim brotherhood" was founded in Egypt in 1928, with the aim of building a "socially just state based on the Quran and Sharia law" by extremist methods. One of the main points of the political agenda was the expulsion of the British colonialists out of Egypt. "Muslim brotherhood" organized branches in many Sunni countries.

In Syria they settled in 1953-m to year. The founder of the Syrian branch of Islam Abdul Attar spoke out against "the Baathist dictatorship" in accordance with Syrian political tradition was expelled from the country after the attempted uprising in 1966. Attar moved its headquarters to Germany in Aachen. In the late 70s his organization provoked a series of terrorist attacks across the country. Special hatred was used by the cadets of military schools, who arranged the massacre, and members of the BA'ath. By the beginning of the 80s in Syria almost every day we had terrorist attacks that killed more than 2 million "active supporters of the regime." The climax was the 1982 uprising in the cities of Hama and HOMS, Assad brutally suppressed. According to the opposition were killed from 7 to 40 thousand rebels and civilians and 1000 soldiers. CIA analysts up to 2,000 dead, including 400 militants of the organization "Muslim brotherhood". After the suppression of the rebellion, the persecution of political opponents of the BA'ath took the form of repression. By the complete extermination or expulsion of all supporters of the "Muslim brotherhood" in Syria has established inner peace.

Support the BA'ath regime amounted to ethnic and religious minorities: alawites, Christians, Druze and others. However, under the influence of the ideas of Arab socialism, and to maintain internal parity and unity in the ruling elite, the party leadership and the army allowed the representatives of the Sunni majority. Layer formed Syrian "Communist" parties close to the Assad clan families. The country's leadership and the army was arranged so that there are Alawis did not constitute an absolute majority, but their numbers everywhere was such as to reliably control the processes. Sunnis and representatives of other denominations were widely represented in the government. The exceptions were the security services, where the number of alawites in the manual was 90%.

With the beginning of Perestroyka, the USSR began a withdrawal from the middle East arena. Has dried up the flow of Soviet aid and military cooperation with Syria. Not having like Libya or Iraq, major sources of funds used to subsidies Syria began to look for new allies of the rich sponsors. And found itself in the face of Iran. Started roll Syria in the direction of Islamism in the Iranian version. A protégé of Iran in Lebanon – Shiite Hezbollah ("Party of Allah") conducted a policy of building an "Islamic state" has become a "best friend" of Syria. Asada - clan "uninitiated" Alawite "remembered" that alawism – direction of Shiism, and ordered to build in Alevi settlements mosque (the alawites do not have temples and pray in the prayer rooms). Finally, Syria was part of operation "desert Storm" on the side of the coalition against the enemy of Iran – Iraq, where the ruling party was also BA'ath. In the decade before the confrontation of the Syrian and Iraqi wings of the party considered the issue of unification of not only parties, but also of Iraq and Syria in one state.


Bashar al-Assad – President

In 2000, Hafez Assad died. The power in the result of the referendum was in the hands of his son Basher al-Assad. As one of the younger sons, basher from birth were not considered as a receiver of the father. Therefore alone could determine their fate: was educated as an ophthalmologist, worked abroad in hospitals under a pseudonym, lived a life of an intellectual. But after the death of his older brother Basil in a car accident, basher was summoned to Syria by his father and started his political career. Former doctor graduated from the military Academy in HOMS, then in the rank of captain, commanded a tank battalion, then the entire Republican guard.

In foreign and domestic policy basher Assad adhered to a "soft" course. Resumed talks with Israel over the Golan heights. After the "revolution of cedars" in Lebanon, Syrian troops withdrew from there that were there 30 years. Made peace with Saddam Hussein. According to some accounts, even secretly supplied him with weapons in exchange for oil.

In domestic policy allowed the activities of political parties, resulting in a resurgent National-social Arab party became the second in size and influence in the country. Basher rigidly managed with egregious cases of corruption in their environment, as well as to the open showing of disloyalty from the side of the entourage of his father.

The stagnation in the economy basher decided to overcome the "restructuring" methods, after the liberalization in trade and Finance. The hype has covered only Damascus and Aleppo, in other parts of the country have aggravated the stagnation that have fallen into crisis. Ripe fruits of socialism in Arabic. In the 70 years laid the Foundation of industrialization, explored reserves of oil and gas, built dams and hydropower – the country has provided energy and water resources, intensively developed agriculture. Great strides have been made in education development (complimentary), medicine (complimentary), social security (retirement age 60). Introduced an employment guarantee for civil servants and public sector employees.

The standard of living increased, the population growth was restrained, and even encouraged, since increased resource mobilization. If a year of taking power, the BA'ath – 1963, the population of Syria amounted to about 5 million (including the Palestinians), and in the year of its capture by the Assad such as HAZ - 1970, 6.5 million people, in 2000 - the year of his death - it has exceeded 16 million. In 30 years increased almost 2.5 times. At the beginning of 2013 amounted to 22.5 million. The number of born "before the era of the BA'ath" does not exceed 10% of the population. Such growth demonstrates the persistence of traditional structures, mainly in rural areas. In the "classical" socialism of the Soviet model is industrialization causing urbanization. In the cities the birth rate is greatly reduced when the integral growth of living standards. Population growth stabilizes. When "petty-bourgeois" socialism retained many small farms – the main source as "relative rural over-population", and absolute – across the country.

Neither agriculture, nor industry, including small and trade system are unable to absorb this excess labour. Like Tunisia, where the system of government Ben Ali was in many respects close to the ideas of Arab socialism in Syria has created a large number of highly educated young people, not nahodimsa his knowledge. His contribution made and the liberalization of the economy, hit hard on many industries, which led to more unemployment and reducing wages. Even according to official data, the unemployment rate was for 2011 of 20%. Particularly acute for Syria was unified for the entire region, the problem of fresh water. Turkey has built close to the Syrian border on the Euphrates river, the largest dam "Ataturk". The flow of the river to the mid-90s in Syria has been halved. To this period I started feeling the exhaustion of underground aquifers in other regions of Syria that was widely used for irrigation.

The result was a burst in the second half of the 00's drought, called by most experts as "unprecedented" - up to 60% of all cultivated land. Drought struck in mainly rainfed and irrigated lands at the edge of the desert – the region of residence of the Sunnis. A series of bad harvests aggravated the country's economic situation, over the inner circumferential regions, the threat of hunger. More than a million rural people (mostly Sunnis) deserted abandoned the field and headed into the city. The problem of migrants in Syria has always been acute. 2011 mid-year on its territory there were more than 400,000 Palestinian refugees, mostly Sunnis, and 1 200 000 Iraqi refugees is also Sunni, fled the smoldering civil war in Iraq between Shiites and Sunnis. Thus, the drought in the first place has worsened the situation of the Sunni community in Syria, who suddenly remembered that they are "oppressed majority." Such is the lot of paternalistic modes – all success serves as credit management, but the reasons for all ills is also attributed to the government. In this case they were right, since the programme of construction of Arab socialism led to a population explosion. Domestic resources have been exhausted, aggravated the currency crisis, oil and gas fields have been subject to intensive exploitation, why the debit wells fell by almost a third. Although new exploration has discovered vast new oil reserves, their development was neither the time nor the resources. Have accumulated enormous protest potential. In such conditions of instability of social relations starts to work, the need to protect "small society", and it is found in the form of family, clan, or narrowly ethnic or religious community.

Part two.


Michael Khlystov

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