Who Are the ‘Syrian People’?

Yedidya Atlas is a veteran journalist specializing in geo-political and geo-strategic affairs in the Middle East. His articles have appeared in such publications as The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Times, Insight Magazine, Nativ, The Jerusalem Post and Makor Rishon. His articles have been reprinted by Israel’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and in the US Congressional Record.


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In 1957 the KDPS (Kurdistan Democratic Party of Syria) was founded. The Syrian central government never recognized the Kurds as a separate entity, thus the KDPS remained an underground organization. In 1960 a number of its leaders were imprisoned. In 1961, after the dissolution of the UAR – United Arab Republic with Egypt, the Syrian government decided to “recognize the Kurds” as a separate entity and in the summer of 1962 conducted a special population census of the predominantly Kurdish province of Jazira. All of the identified Kurds were stripped of their Syrian citizenship and declared “aliens.” At the same time a media campaign was launched against the Kurds with such slogans as “Save Arabism in Jazira” and “Fight the Kurdish Threat.” These policies coincided with the beginning of Mustafa Barazani’s Kurdish uprising in Iraq and the discovery of oilfields in the Jazira province. In the summer of 1963, Syrian forces joined with the Iraqi military in attacking the Barazani-led revolt to reestablish an independent Kurdistan.

The Muslim Brotherhood’s involvement in last year’s so-called “Arab Spring” in Tunis, Egypt and Yemen, induced the Syrian Muslim Brotherhood to take their opposition to the al-Assad Alawite regime up another notch and the protests/riots began followed immediately by the al-Assad style ruthless oppression.

As the daily violence expands, and the death toll rises, one hears the cacophony of statements such as Secretary Clinton who said on March 27, 2011: “Many of the members of Congress of both parties who have gone to Syria in recent months have said they believe he’s a reformer.” But by November 18, 2011, Mrs. Clinton finally awoke to the fact that Bashar al-Assad’s so-called reformist attitudes were baseless. Speaking to ABC News, she reversed herself and said: We heard what Assad said about what he wanted to do for reform. But when it came to it, in the Arab Spring and as people actually demanded some freedom and their rights, he responded, as we have seen, very violently.” Considering Syrian history in the past 30 years alone, one wonders why she is surprised.

Syria is the scene of an ongoing civil war of sorts between the Sunni majority led by the Muslim Brotherhood and the minority Alawite controlled regime led by the al-Assad clan with various minor religio-ethnic players scattered over the field. If the al-Assad regime falls, it is not merely the al-Assad family that is in trouble, the entire Alawite population can expect similar or worse persecution by the Muslim Brotherhood led Sunnis as they attempt to turn the clock back to a modern version of the Ottoman period. Bashar al-Assad is fighting for both Alawite dominance and survival.

Secretary Clinton and Co. must realize that life is not a Hollywood movie and Syria isn’t a western country. Syria is a serious mess and there is no happy ending in sight soon.

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  • ziontruth

    "The 'Syrian people' is a composite of religious and ethnic groups who historically oppose each other."

    Multiculturalism. A post-national construct that keeps an appearance of being workable when there's a tyrant to keep the simmering differences under the lid. But only an appearance; for when the tyrant is gone and not immediately succeeded by another one, all hell breaks loose. As in Lebanon, Yugoslavia and Rwanda.

    Multiculturalism. An anti-national Marxist pie-in-the-sky concept cleverly designed to mask the treasonous goal of replacing the nation-state with an international socialist order—masked under the nice-sounding labels of "Celebrate Diversity!" and such. A vision whose rotten fruits are already evident in the nation-states of Western Europe, where the indigenous have been made practically stateless in their own lands.

    Syria and Lebanon, Yugoslavia and current Western Europe, all are warnings unto the Jewish State as to what such fine-sounding, "progressive" (or make that "Progressive," the name Marxists now call themselves) concepts as "One State Solution, With Equal Rights For All" portend for the Jewish nation's one and only homeland and true sanctuary in the world. It is why, in the event that an Israeli government should be foolish enough as to give up Judea and Samaria to the Arab settler-colonist invader land-thieves, their imperialist struggle to obliterate the remnant pre-1967 Jewish State would not cease, but pass onto a new phase, of pressuring Israel to "get with the program" of multiculturalism and commit national suicide just like the nation-states of Western Europe.

    The anti-Zionists say, "If the Europeans have done it, so can Israel." The knowledgeable Zionist who gets his information from reliable sources instead of the largely Marxist-owned mainstream media will reply, "It has not been good for the Europeans either. The man in the street, as opposed to the media chatterati, can tell you all about it. Given the level of anti-Jewish genocidal mania in the Muslim world, the Jewish State can afford such a costly experiment far, far less than the nation-states of Europe."

    Multiculturalism: The way to becoming like the Copts in Egypts. Any nation with its survival instinct still intact will reject it for the treasonous idea it is.

  • george a. way jr.

    once again our leaders ( fools in the real world ) have their heads up there asses and in return this nation gets another "black eye" ,

  • Asher

    You mean support like we gave Egypt and Libya, who are now Controlled by the Muslim Brotherhood.

  • KKKK

    good article, Atlas. and the "rebeks" are acutally attacking Syrian Christiansm havign alread killed 100+. while Assad is far from the ideal, he is certianly better than nay AlQaeda-linked Sunni Sharia-based government.

  • shane

    i say let them fight for there self …I remember when we went into Iraq and them jihadists was marching in the streets say death to America …now they want our help to hell with that !!!!!

  • ObamaYoMoma

    One can only wonder how such totally naïve and incompetent people can become Secretary of State. Any competent Secretary of State wouldn't touch the issue of Syria with a 10-foot poll, as both sides, the Assad led Alawites and the Muslim Brotherhood led Sunnis, are the eternal enemies of the West and all non-Muslim unbelievers in the world.

    Indeed, I know this may sound strange, but Muslim on Muslim violence inside the Dar al Islam (the domain of submission) is good for us, the Dar al Harb (the domain of unbelief), and bad for the Dar al Islam. Hence, the last thing the USA should be attempting to do is to stop the violence.

    Not to mention as well, that Assad will never voluntarily surrender power and inevitably will fight to the death, and democracy in the Islamic world in any case is absolutely impossible. As Islam more than anything else is a totalitarian ideology completely antithetical to freedom and liberty. Therefore, anyone wishing and hoping to tame the Islamic world by spreading democracy is a mentally incompetent moonbat.

    Of course, the ouster of Assad would weaken Iran, but I would prefer to leave the Assad regime sidetracked in Syria trying to hold on to power, while we instead eradicate the ruling Mullahs of Iran and destroy their nuclear weapons installations.

    • ahmadnb

      Can anyone say "Bangladesh"? Man, what rock have you been living under?

  • ObamaYoMoma

    Can anyone say "Bangladesh"?

    What…you claim "Bangladesh" is a democracy? Go sell that snake oil to the violently oppressed and systematically non-Muslim unbelievers stuck living in that Islamic hellhole.

    Man, what rock have you been living under?

    The one that let's me see the world with crystal clear morality. Something you wouldn't know anything about.