March 12, 2013
NO ONE [BUT THE rEALISTS] WILL MOURN ITS PASSING:
The Enigma of the Syrian Nation (Franck Salameh, March 11, 2013, National Interest)
Posted by Orrin Judd at March 12, 2013 7:45 PMMuch is often said about the artificiality of the modern Middle Eastern state-system, particularly Syria. Often highlighted are the region's current "republics" as the outcome of Anglo-French colonial fancy: "contrived points on a map" in Fouad Ajami's telling, joining together disparate peoples, fractious ethnic groups, apprehensive confessional communities and distinct autonomous provinces--into uneasy, compulsory and ultimately unhappy matrimony. This picture of Western intrusions and failed cartography is not entirely off-kilter. Yet this restive Syria protruding out of the sad canvas of the modern Middle East remains an entity that influential pundits insist on defending and preserving in its current form.In Syria (and for that matter Iraq), more so than in neighboring Lebanon and Egypt, there has never been a uniquely Syrian territorial identity nor a Syrian entity as such. Indeed, in what became Syria in 1936--out of the carved out Ottoman Vilayets (or States) of Aleppo, Beirut, and Damascus--there was great difficulty accommodating the transition from distinct administrative units to a cohesive territorial state.
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