Sunday, September 07, 2008

The Baathist Model in Iraq and Syria

This time I stayed in Syria for half a month, unlike the previous 3-day stint two months earlier, which was basically a poor attempt at a booze-and-booty adventure in the vein of hypocritical Middle Eastern men, this trip was like Will Smith, very G-rated, family-oriented and fun. I found it extremely refreshing and got to spend half as much money as the first.

"Syria is a beautiful country." This is the first line Riverbend wrote in her last blogpost, of course, she quickly followed it by: "at least, I think it is." The addition is necessary because Syria is not beautiful in the modernized sense of Western civilization, its streets are dirty, the electricity cuts off an hour everyday, and autocracy assures you of its dominance in every inch of the streets. Riverbend attempts to explain her impression by saying that as an Iraqi she persumes she'd take safety and security as beautiful no matter what, but I feel this analysis to be in error*. 'Amman is significanly more pretty, chic and advanced in services and architecture than Damascus, but, in the words of an Algerian reporter I met last year "it has no soul", Damascus has loads of cultural (old city) historical(Umyyads) and natural soul(Qasiyoon), but most importantly, it resembles pre-war Iraq almost unbelievably.

Which brings us to the main point: the extra time allowed me to ponder a comparison I've tried to make ever since my first trip to Syria, to count the similarities between Baathist Syria and Baathist Iraq.

###########

Iraq

Syria

Independence

1932

1947

Flag (Longest Surviving)

Population

29 million - ([this year] – 2003) x 1 million)

19.4 million

Ruling Party

وحدة مرية اشترا كبة

وحدة مرية اشترا كبة

State Constitution

20% Sunni rules 60% Shia, Other minorities favor the 'secular' rule of the minority against the Islamic tendencies of the majority.

10% Alawi rules 74% Sunni, other minorities act the same as Iraq's.

Demographics

Shii (Imami), Sunni, Kurds, Turkmen, Assyrians, Chaldeans, Armenians, Mandaeans, Yazidis, Shabak.

Sunni, "Shii" Alawi, Shii Imami, Shii Ismaili, Druze, Kurds, Turkmen, Assyrians, Armenians.

Things That Make 9/11 Look Silly

Halabja (3,000) (Sunni Arabs vs Kurds)

91 Uprising (180,000) (Sunni vs Shia)

Anfal (50,000)* (Sunni Arabs vs Kurds)

Hama (25,000) (Shia vs Sunni)

Government Sponsored Edutainment

Abu Gharib Prisons

Tadmur

Claims To Fame

Sumer, Babylon, Nineveh, Wheel, Writing, Saladin.

Oldest City In World, Ebla, ermm...?!?

Caliphates

Baghdad, Capital of Abbasid Caliphate

Damascus, Capital of Umayyad Caliphate

Death Counts are listed at their maximum for both Iraq and Syria, the 91 Uprising figure is from the Iraqi Human Rights Ministry.

The most interesting part of this comparison to me is the sectarian model of government, theoretically, the model is almost identical, both countries have a minority that rules under secular guises a majority it is historically hostile to. But the regime in Syria has been relatively much more cautious and gentle in its treatment of the majority, the reluctant diplomacy of the Syrian regime in comparison to the uncompromising Iraqi brutality is a trait that exhibits itself almost everywhere you look, even in the respective heads of state, as noted by US ambassador April Glaspie. So how could we explain this? Is it just a difference of temperament between Syrians and Iraqis?

Perhaps it plays an effect, but I think an important factor lies in the identity of the dominant minority sect in either country. The orthodox faction, the Sunnis, are 85-90% of the Muslim World, and so when they ruled in Iraq they assumed a supremacy that was historically natural. All the education books (history, and religion) we studied in elementary schools were 100% Sunni, sometimes even implicitly molded to counter Shia arguments (a chapter about the strong relationship between Ali and Umar, for example) The Sunnis stubbornly refused to accept the majority percentage of Shia in Iraq, before Iraq became independent, it was always ruled, except for brief interruptions, by Sunnis. So when push comes to shove with the rise of Shi'i Islamic movements as part of the general religious awakening in the whole Muslim world, the Sunni government found no qualms in entirely suppressing all religious Shia practices. The Shia, historically and religiously attuned to suppression and tyrannical rule, did not act against this ban with the veracity one would expect from a majority oppressed in its own homeland.

and so it is only natural that the Nusayri pseudo-Shia Alawi regime in Syria would manifest its Shia identity in Syria somewhat cautiously. To the Alawis, who are a very small minority who lived in the mountains and are considered extremists by Shia themselves, this moment of rule is historically without precedent. (the magnitude of such an accomplishment can be felt when imagining Saudi Arabia ruled by its minority Shia, or Iran by its minority Sunni) and so, education in Syria remains, as this excellent report shows, traditional, rigid, and entirely Sunni. Sunni worship is accommodated graciously, even after the Muslim Brotherhood Hama revolution and was never really made to feel actively threatened or assaulted full-on, in fact, the report goes so far as to say that Alawis have traded their religion for political power, effectively becoming Orthodox Sunnis, attempting a process of integration in the pan-Arab identity which is closely intertwined with Sunni Islam (read it).But I don't really think that they've abandoned their religion entirely, instead, they are coy in pushing up their own version ; for a 10% minority, they are ubiquitous, pictures of Bashar al-Assad and Hasan Nasrallah together are a no-brainer and are visible everywhere, hell, I even saw pictures of Khomeini and Khamenei together with the words 'Leaders of the Nation' plastered next to a clothes shop, something I haven't ever seen in Iraq. When I went to help the Ba'ath Party neighborhood official who owned the apartment of my relatives install Yahoo Messenger on his computer, the first thing I saw inside his house was a large poster of Nasrallah, at the corner of the street, I encounter a young man with 'Ya Ali' tattoed on his arm, many Iranians walk the streets, Shia books are sold side-by-side next to Sunni ones in the street, Kiosks turn on Shia sermons freely...the references are endless.

The question presents itself, if for some reason America decided to do to Syria what it did for Iraq, would they end up with the same results? Would the minority, supported by an unbreakable relationship with Iran, cause the same havoc the smug, historically confident minority in Iraq did? Or would they turn back to their mountains in acceptance of their historical outcast status vis-a-vis the majority Sunni and forget about it? I don't know, maybe, but it's too costly to find out, and Iraq is the biggest proof of that.

===================================

*("to be in error"?!? fuck, I'm getting too scholarly. Here's an extra fuck to balance it out: fuck. That's three fucks, and with the last one it's four, all hail Fred Durst for this lame joke.)

17 comments:

Jeffrey said...

Abbas,

Very interesting blog entry comparing Iraq and Syria.

All the education books (history, and religion) we studied in elementary schools were 100% Sunni, sometimes even implicitly molded to counter Shia arguments (a chapter about the strong relationship between Ali and Umar, for example) The Sunnis stubbornly refused to accept the majority percentage of Shia in Iraq, before Iraq became independent, it was always ruled, except for brief interruptions, by Sunnis. So when push comes to shove with the rise of Shi'i Islamic movements as part of the general religious awakening in the whole Muslim world, the Sunni government found no qualms in entirely suppressing all religious Shia practices.

Really? That's amazing. Bassam Sebti never mentioned anything like this. According to him and a few other Iraqi bloggers, during Saddam's reign everything was absolutely okay between the Shia and the Sunna. They never brought up this aspect of Iraqi education. No wonder that the Shia, even being used to repression, as you say, saw an opening in 2003 and grabbed for it. It would be like if in the US mostly Roman Catholics ruled the country and all the religious books focused on Roman Catholic Christianity while the Protestant story (the majority of Christians in the US are Protestant) was removed from the school textbooks.

The Iraqi blogosphere has been dragging ass lately, so it was good to see your thoughtful post.

*

onix said...

if the christian were pennyless and uarmed don't you think Syria would also plea for their extinction?

Anonymous said...

It can also diagnose your examine motor light-weight.
The business has two automotive diagnostic software programs and 1
incorporate on features offer.

Review my website obd2 code reader

Coach Factory said...

ray ban sunglasses, nike free, michael kors, vans shoes, ray ban pas cher, hollister, sac louis vuitton, sac louis vuitton, nike roshe run, nike roshe run, abercrombie and fitch, nike blazer, new balance pas cher, nike air max, nike roshe, nike free pas cher, barbour, oakley pas cher, louboutin, louis vuitton uk, hollister, vanessa bruno, nike huarache, hogan outlet, sac guess, polo lacoste, lululemon, north face, air force, timberland, nike trainers, ralph lauren, mac cosmetics, converse pas cher, polo ralph lauren, mulberry, longchamp, hollister, vans pas cher, longchamp, michael kors pas cher, north face, louis vuitton, sac hermes, michael kors, sac longchamp, air max, abercrombie and fitch, nike tn, sac burberry

Coach Factory said...

chi flat iron, reebok outlet, marc jacobs, canada goose jackets, lululemon outlet, valentino shoes, bottega veneta, ugg boots, canada goose, asics running shoes, canada goose, moncler, rolex watches, ugg, instyler, ferragamo shoes, birkin bag, air max, moncler outlet, north face outlet, soccer jerseys, north face jackets, beats by dre, canada goose, p90x, new balance shoes, hollister, jimmy choo outlet, ugg australia, timberland boots, ghd, uggs outlet, celine handbags, canada goose outlet, iphone 6 cases, baseball bats, babyliss pro, ugg boots, nfl jerseys, herve leger, mont blanc, giuseppe zanotti, wedding dresses, mcm handbags, moncler, insanity workout, ugg pas cher, canada goose uk, soccer shoes, moncler

Coach Factory said...

nike free, air max, oakley sunglasses, tory burch outlet, michael kors outlet, chanel handbags, michael kors outlet, oakley sunglasses, louis vuitton handbags, coach factory outlet, longchamp outlet, ray ban sunglasses, louboutin, kate spade handbags, louboutin shoes, true religion outlet, prada outlet, louis vuitton outlet, longchamp handbags, burberry outlet, louboutin outlet, tiffany and co, nike shoes, louis vuitton, jordan shoes, true religion jeans, michael kors outlet, coach outlet store online, coach outlet, burberry outlet, kate spade outlet, gucci outlet, michael kors outlet, polo ralph lauren outlet, louis vuitton outlet stores, michael kors outlet, louis vuitton outlet, air max, ray ban sunglasses, polo ralph lauren outlet, coach purses, true religion jeans, longchamp handbags, oakley sunglasses cheap, christian louboutin shoes, michael kors outlet, prada handbags

dong dong said...

2015627dongdong
true religion jeans
ray ban glasses
kobe bryant shoes
retro jordans
oakley sunglasses wholesale
oakley sunglasses
oakley sunglasses wholesale
cheap toms
coach outlet
coach factory outlet online
nike air max
hollister
longchamp handbags
prada shoes
ray bans
michael kors handbags
ray ban outlet
jordan 6 cigar
ralph lauren outlet
louis vuitton handbags
abercrombie & fitch
coach canada outlet
ray ban outlet
air max 90
michael kors
adidas shoes
fitflops
louis vuitton handbags
louis vuitton
christian louboutin sale
ray ban sungalsses
gucci
gucci handbags
cheap jordans
ray ban sunglasses outlet
jordan 3
toms outlet
oakley sunglasses
black timberland boots
oakley sunglasses

dong dong said...

2015627dongdong
hollister
christian louboutin
pandora charms
michael kors outlet
abercrombie outlet
gucci shoes
oakley sunglasses wholesale
oakley sunglasses outlet
hermes
jordan 11 concord
lululemon
michael kors outlet
football shoes
longchamp outlet
louis vuitton outlet
abercrombie
oakley sunglasses
fitflops clearance
gucci outlet
oakley sunglass
kevin durant shoes
christian louboutin
burberry outlet
oakley sunglass
nike air max
louis vuitton uk
michael kors outlet
ray bans
tory burch outlet
ed hardy clothing
polo ralph lauren
ralph lauren sale
hollister clothing
ray ban sunglasses
louis vuitton
michael kors handbags
hollister clothing
christian louboutin
michael kors outlet
pandora charms

Gege Dai said...

15.07.24daigege
gucci
cheap ray ban sunglasses
oakley store
ray bans
cheap jordans
gucci outlet
michael kors handbag
kate spade handbags
chanel bags
michael kors
oakley sunglasses discount
mcm outlet
coach outlet store online
tory burch outlet online
oakley sunglasses
ray ban uk
pandora outlet
air max shoes
replica watches
cheap ray ban sunglasses
pandora charms 2015
abercrombie
fitflops sale clearance
fitflops outlet
jordan homme
michael kors outlet
chanel outlet
nike blazer
jordan pas cher
michael kors
ed hardy clothing
ray ban sunglasses
christian louboutin outlet
kate spade outlet
soccer shoes
true religion outlet
longchamp pas cher
kate spade uk
replica watches cheap
oakley online

Gege Dai said...

15.07.24daigege
coach factory outlet
hollister clothing
jordan shoes
ray ban wayfarer
ray ban sunglasses
snabacks wholesale
prada outlet
ray ban outlet
cheap true religion jeans
mcm handbags
kate spade outlet online
oakley sunglasses outlet
true religion
ed hardy
soccer jerseys wholesale
true religion sale
oakley sunglasses
gucci outlet online
michael kors
ray ban sunglasses
gucci outlet
toms outlet
nike tn
michael kors outlet online
kate spade bags
kate spade
air max 90
cheap soccer shoes
ralph lauren
soccer jerseys
oakley sunglasses
coach outlet
gucci borse
longchamp handbags
pandora jewelry
pandora rings
prada handbags
cheap jordans for sale
tory burch outlet
oakley sale

Wenhao Guo said...

cheap wedding dresses
oakley sunglasses
adidas wings
stuart weitzman boots
five fingers shoes
chicago blackhawks jersey
lebron james shoes
foamposite gold
calvin klein outlet
kobe shoes
coach outlet
louis vuitton handbags
nike running shoes
hollister pas cher
denver broncos jerseys
gucci outlet
louis vuitton outlet
jordan 4
air jordan 11
louis vuitton handbags
nike huarache
hermes outlet
mac cosmetics
ysl outlet
michael kors outlet
giuseppe zanotti
hollister shirts
nike free uk
north face jackets
tods shoes
true religion outlet
asics running shoes
miami dolphins jerseys
mulberry uk
pandora
philadelphia eagles jerseys
mont blanc outlet
mont blanc pens
supra footwear
gucci shoes
achang0803

林磊 said...

2015-11-4leilei
gucci outlet online
coach outlet online
coach outlet online
ugg boots outlet
canada gooses outlet
louboutin shoes
moncler jackets
true religion outlet
michael kors outlet
nike roshe run
true religion jeans
mcm handbags
micahel kors
michael kors bags
abercrombie & fitch
adidas superstar
michael kors handbags
mont blanc pens
gucci handbags
michael kors outlet online
nike blazers uk
nike blazer
michael kors handbags
coach factory outlet online
coach factory outlet online
air max
louboutin pas cher
coach factory online
louis vuitton outlet
coach outlet online
michael kors outlet online
adidas trainers
longchamp soldes
cheap soccer jerseys
mizuno running shoes

Dong Dong said...

20161.07dongdong
gucci outlet
christian louboutin outlet
adidas shoes
adidas gazelle
christian louboutin shoes
louis vuitton bags
air jordan 8
jordan 4
michael kors handbags
mcm
michael kors
canada gooses outlet
michael kors outlet
canada goose jackets
michael kors
rolex replica watches
jordan retro 3
ralph lauren outlet
nike huarache
michael kors outlet
nike blazers
adidas originals
nike air max 90
new balance outlet
nike outlet store
tory burch outlet
tiffany jewelry
michael kors outlet
gucci outlet
michael kors
louis vuitton handbags
louboutin
michael kors outlet
ray ban sunglasses
ugg sale
air jordans
coach factory outlet online
ghd
michael kors outlet
air jordans

Dong Dong said...

20161.07dongdong
michael kors outlet
cheap ugg boots
polo ralph lauren
uggs on sale
nike huarache
fitflops
louboutin
michael kors uk
adidas shoes
coach outlet
michael kors handbags
mont blanc pens
michael kors outlet online
jordan 4
cheap ugg boots
nike blazers
true religion jeans
true religion
cheap uggs on sale
nike cortez
louis vuitton
michael kors handbags
michael kors handbags
chaussure louboutin
fake oakley sunglasses
nike tn
christian louboutin shoes
toms wedges
adidas gazelle
canada goose outlet
oakley sunglasses
louboutin pas cher
caoch outlet
coach factory outlet
nike uk
basketball shoes
michael kors
juicy couture
mcm
nike blazer

Big IT Trainings said...

hadoop admin online training Hadoop splits files Hadoop ADMIN Online Traininginto large blocks and distributes them across nodes in a cluster. To process data, Hadoop

林磊 said...

2016-6-8 leilei
oakley sunglasses
ralph lauren outlet
ralph lauren outlet
cheap oakley sunglasses
hollister co
gucci borse
rolex watches
fitflops shoes
the north face
nike cortez red
nike air max 95
adidas nmd
kobe 9
birkenstocks
coach factory outlet
reebok shoes
nike free run
cheap nhl jerseys
air max 90 black
true religion jeans
designer handbags outlet
coach outlet
ralph lauren outlet online
ghd flat iron
nike tn pas cher
oakley sunglasses
pandora charms
kate spade
ray-ban sunglasses
birkenstock sandals
mizuno running shoes
ray bans
coach outlet store
valentino shoes
nike air max
coach outlet online
versace sunglasses
ray ban sunglasses discount
adidas nmd runner

柯云 said...

2016-06-10keyun
jordan 3s
vans outlet
concord 11
michael kors outlet
coach outlet
tiffany & co
kate spade handbags
coach factory outlet online
michael kors canada outlet
air max 95
toms wedges
adidas outlet store
cheap oakleys
louboutin shoes
air jordan shoes
celine bags
louis vuitton bags
tory burch sandals
michael kors outlet online
coach outlet
coach outlet clearance
adidas stan smith
toms shoes
coach factory outlet
louis vuitton bags
kobe 8
louis vuitton purses
coach outlet
kate spade outlet
hollister clothing
christian louboutin sale
nike roshe shoes
louis vuitton outlet
air jordan homme
adidas nmd
adidas originals store
fitflop sandals
cheap ray ban sunglasses
cheap true religion jeans