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      Syria Since 1990: Dimensions Of Conflict

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      Arab Studies Quarterly
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      Syria, Syrian Conflict, Bilad al-Sham, Palestine, Middle East, US
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            Abstract

            This article addresses Syria’s political economic development since 1990 with its domestic and regional dimensions; it also examines Syria’s geopolitical importance to Bilad al-Sham. The article illustrates how the US imperial wars and plans impacted Syria and the wider Middle East region; furthermore, the article examines the motives behind the US imperialist plans to destroy Syria. It argues that the collapse of the USSR in 1990 facilitated US supremacy in the world and enabled it to expand even more. The article tackles the following questions: Why is Syria regarded as central to the Middle East region? What is the US plan for Syria? Does the US Syria policy have anything to do with the Palestine issue? Has the ongoing Syrian crisis (since 2011) changed Syria’s political orientation?

            Main article text

            Introduction

            Syria is regarded as the center of Bilad al-Sham, which made it the target for many imperial powers. Historically, Syria has been the target for colonial powers, especially the French and the British that divided Bilad al-Sham between them according to the Sykes–Picot agreement of 1916. 1 The French colonial occupation of Syria and Lebanon was the main driving force in setting the sectarian seeds and divisions in this region. Similarly, the British colonial occupation of Iraq, Jordan, and Palestine was the driving force behind the spread of the Zionist settlements in Palestine and the creation of the Zionist entity in 1948. 2 However, the decline of European colonial occupation post WWII was soon replaced by the US imperial presence in the Arab region, especially after the failed tripartite invasion of Egypt in 1956, but the most dangerous stage is associated with the collapse of the USSR in 1990, which afforded the United States an opportunity to take advantage of this new situation and to tighten its grip over the oil-rich Middle East region. 3 In fact, the fall of the USSR elevated the US role to the only supreme power in the world, both economically and militarily. 4 Thus, the most effective and perhaps only method for the US to achieve its global hegemony would be through spreading its full and direct control over the world’s resources and mainly over the oil-rich Middle East region. The US envisioned that the fall of Iraq would create a rift and would lead automatically to the isolation of Syria by disconnecting it from Iran. Moreover, the US thought that this approach would weaken both the Syrian and Iranian regimes, and lead to the collapse of the Axis of Resistance; however, this US approach was ineffective. 5

            Nevertheless, to understand the US approach and the US global imperial strategy, it is essential to provide an overview of this US imperial approach and its process as well as its impact and effect on the world since 1990. The world is in a transitional period between two orders: The “Old World Order” that totally collapsed in 1990 with the fall of the USSR and a “New World Order” that has not been completely formed. 6 The US imperialist project extends to different areas in the world and for this purpose, the US has created three plans for this “New World Order” with respect to the following geographical areas: (1) East Europe or the 1990s period (it started with the disintegration of the USSR in the early 1990s and ended with the division of Yugoslavia in 2002); (2) East Asia (and its main objectives is to eliminate and reduce Chinese expansion); and (3) the Middle East region (with its three-phase plan, the 1990–2001 phase, the 2001–2010/2011 phase, and the 2011–2020/2025 phase, respectively). 7 With respect to the Middle East, the US plan began with the so-called peace conference in the Madrid talks right after the Gulf War in 1991; this first phase continued until 2001. Indeed, Saddam Hussein’s invasion of Kuwait set the stage for US military expansion in the Gulf region. The second phase of the US Middle East plan began with the US invasion of Afghanistan in 2001, followed by the US/UK invasion and occupation of Iraq in 2003. Toppling Syrian Bashar Al-Assad was next, but it failed. In this manner it is important to note that the current Syrian crisis, which began in March 2011, was set to start soon after the Iraq invasion in 2003 and the first step for the US was to force Syria to withdraw from Lebanon and separate it from Hezbollah. 8 The 2004 UN resolution 1559 entailed the targeting of both Syria and the Lebanese resistance. 9 However, the victory of the Lebanese resistance in the 2006 war delayed the US plan until 2011. It is important to note that the 2006 war was an integral part of US goals and objectives in the Middle East region to directly control Syria and Lebanon. Seen in this light, the 2006 war was, in fact, an American war. Hence, the victory of the resistance in the 2006 war along with the tenacity of the Iraqi and Palestinian resistance and the firm stance of Syria put an end to the American New Middle East project. 10 After the 2006 war, the US realized the difficulty of taking over countries like Lebanon and Syria through direct occupation. Thus, the US adopted the policy of fragmentation and disintegration of the states from within by toppling their regimes. However, the current developments in Syria were not in favor of the US and it delayed the imperialist plans for the region. While the Syrian State suffered great losses in people, infrastructure, and territory, the state did not collapse within six months, as the US expected. It now appears that the camp that wins the war in Syria would control the Middle East region that is central to building a New World Order.

            Syria’s Geopolitical Centrality: Reading Syrian History [Pre-1990]

            Throughout history, Syria, like the rest of the Arab region, witnessed a continuous thread of instability, including endless wars, invasions and occupations because of its strategic location in the heart of the ancient world. 11 This strategic location placed Syria at the center of trade between the continents in the ancient world that connected the three continents (Asia, Europe, and Africa), 12 especially between East Asia (China, India, and Mongolia) and Europe. For centuries, most of world trade crossed the East Mediterranean ( Bilad al-Sham) towards the Western World. Thus, Syria was the obligatory path of the old trade system, which may be regarded as an “Ancient World Order” or the silk road between the Far East and the West. Furthermore, Bilad al-Sham is the cradle of the three monotheistic religions, Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. Since its inception in the seventh century, Islam quickly spread to create the largest empire in history and took Damascus as its capital. 13 This strategic location gave Syria more importance, which led to the development of the region, especially the major Syrian cities like Aleppo and Damascus. Syria also became the target of major attacks by different tribes and clans. This brief history reveals the importance of Syria or Bilad al-Sham, which is still the driving force for many imperial powers to dominate and control this region of the World.

            Several attempts to divide Syria were unsuccessful throughout history. While the Ottomans kept Bilad al-Sham under their grip from 1516 until 1918, and as mentioned previously, the arrival of the French and the British colonialists in WWI, succeeded in dividing Bilad al-Sham based on the Sykes–Picot agreement of 1916. The French colonial occupation of Syria and Lebanon split up Greater Syria into Syria, Lebanon, and Palestine. The British took control over Jordan, Iraq, and Palestine. It is important to note that British occupation of Palestine facilitated Zionist settlements as a precursor for establishing a racist Zionist entity in Palestine. However, numerous revolts and uprisings took place in the region against the colonial powers. 14 The Syrians continued their struggle against the French occupation until they gained their independence in 1946. Post independence, Syria witnessed a period of political instability which challenged its political structure; and thus the first Syrian coup d’état took place on March 30, 1949. 15 However, a major development took place on July 23, 1952, when Gamal Abdel Nasser, an officer in the Egyptian National Army, overthrew King Farouk and seized power. Soon after, Nasser nationalized many economic sectors in Egypt. Most important of which, was the Suez Canal. Nasser gained great popularity and attention in the Arab world and beyond, but the colonial powers did not want to see a successful leader and a powerful regime alongside their newly born Zionist entity, so they formed an alliance (the Baghdad Pact) in the region comprising Iraq, Iran, and Turkey in 1955. 16 It “was formed as a main tool to bolster western imperialism and its economic, military and political interests in the Middle East.” 17 Furthermore, the nationalization of the Suez Canal, led France, Britain, and Israel to invade Egypt in 1956. The failure of the imperialist invasion due to the resistance of the Egyptian people and the political intervention of both the United States and the USSR, each for its own reasons, elevated Nasser to become the most important national leader in the Arab world. At that time, the United Arab Republic (UAR) was born on February 1, 1958, through the unity between Syria and Egypt, under the leadership of Gamal Abdel Nasser. 18 Meanwhile, the Western imperialist powers (led by the United States) formed a federation between the two Hashemite Kingdoms of Iraq and Jordan in 1958; its main aim was to counter the groundswell of Arab nationalism, represented by the UAR. 19 However, the UAR collapsed after three years when Syria seceded from the union on September 28, 1961. 20 This was followed on March 8, 1963 by a coup d’état led by the Syrian Baathists who seized power in Syria. 21 Syria remained politically unstable during the 1960s. The struggle over power continued and Syria witnessed a more radical Baathists’ coup d’état on February 23, 1966. 22 On June 6, 1967, Israel launched surprise attacks on Egypt, Syria, and Jordan in which the Arab armies were defeated. This was a Naksa to those states as well as to the Arab masses. The Naksa weighed heavy on Nasser and probably was one of the major factors that led to his death when he suffered a heart attack on September 28, 1970. Shortly after, on November 16, 1970, Hafiz Al-Assad reached the presidency in Syria through a military coup that became known as the “Corrective Movement.” He attempted to build a socialist Syria and remained in power until his death on June 10, 2000. Hafez Al-Assad’s 30-year reign makes him one of the longest serving leaders in the Arab world. Assad’s rule had its military successes and failures: in the negotiations following the 1973 October war, which Assad launched in coordination with Egypt, Syria succeeded in retrieving part of the Golan it had lost in the 1967 war. Insofar as Egypt was concerned, the 1967 military defeat and Nasser’s death practically shifted the country to the neoliberal American camp, mainly when Anwar Sadat negotiated the Camp David Accord post 1978, 23 therefore repositioned Egypt outside the anti-Israel camp. Syria felt that it had been betrayed and left alone in the struggle. In fact, Hafiz Al-Assad moved closer towards the USSR. Moreover, Syria allied itself with Iran after the success of the Iranian revolution in February 1979. However, the collapse of the USSR in 1990 placed further pressure on Syria, which compelled it to wage a two-pronged battle (1) domestically: For internal economic and social development, (2) Externally: For defense and liberation. 24

            War Plan for Syria [1990–2011]

            To understand the recent Syrian conflict, it is important to examine its roots that are linked directly to US imperial interests in the Arab region (as mentioned earlier). The plan to destroy the Syrian State was part of the US ongoing chain of imperial wars since 1945. It is also part of a long chain of Middle East wars, which started over 100 years ago, but in a new and different form. Here, it is important to note that the atrocities perpetrated by the terrorists in the Syrian war are those that Israel has been committing against the Arabs and Palestinians since 1948. The war against Syria is also an attempt to retrieve the old/new project of the New Middle East that is based on the disintegration of its nation-states. The US imperial strategy to divide and fragment the region continues in different forms, and at this point it is important to discuss the reasons behind the 2011 imperialist war in Syria.

            The US plan for the (New) Middle East has already been discussed and 9/11 was the tool the US used to initiate its already planned invasions of Afghanistan (2001) and Iraq (2003). The plan was based on dividing the Middle East into sectarian cantons/regions; this approach inspired many US allies who saw that fighting for this US imperialist project would guarantee their control in the newly established territories, such as Iraqi Kurdistan. General Wesley Clark who led NATO against Serbia in 1999, notes in his book 25 that Donald Rumsfeld (the US Secretary of Defense) and his deputy Paul Wolfowitz issued a list of countries the US aimed to target by toppling their regimes, (this came to be known later as the list of seven countries) and it included: Iran, Iraq, Syria, Libya, Sudan, Somalia, and Lebanon; 26 Clark goes on to say that soon after September 11 (ten days after), he went to the Pentagon and met with Donald Rumsfeld. After the meeting, Clark heard from one of the Generals who worked under his command (Clark’s command) that the US was planning a war on Iraq; a few weeks later, the US started its invasion of Afghanistan. Clark went back to see that General, and asked him if the war on Iraq was still in the plans; the General’s response was “Even Worse” and he presented to him a memo (issued by the Department of Defense Office), which explained how the US wanted to occupy seven countries within the next five years (2001–05) starting with Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, and ending with Iran. 27 General Clark distinguished between the countries that “needed occupation” like Iraq and the countries that are hard to invade and must be fragmented like Syria and Lebanon. Rumsfeld’s document included removing Syria from Lebanon as the first stage (as later happened in 2004/05) and then targeting the resistance in Lebanon and Palestine. All of these steps were applied on the ground as planned and designed by the US (starting from the UN resolution 1559 against Lebanon in 2004 to the assassination of Rafiq Hariri in February 2005, to the removal of Syria from Lebanon in April 2005, to the war against the resistance in Lebanon in 2006 and in Gaza in 2008/2009 …); thus, the Syrian war technically started in 2004/05 and was followed by the direct onslaught, which started in 2011. 28 The US and Israel aimed by means of this old/new Middle East project to achieve one main goal, which is to form a New (Middle) East with no states, and to implement the idea of city-states across the region, like the Dubai model, 29 i.e. states without armies. Furthermore, the ongoing conflicts across the Arab region post 2011 were, in fact, part of the US/Israeli plan to destroy the main Arab national armies (the Iraqi, Egyptian, and Syrian). 30 The plan aimed to divide Iraq (post 2003) into three sectarian regions and this could be achieved by creating a civil war in Iraq, and another in Syria. However, the plan was delayed first, till 2006 and then till 2010/2011; seen in this light the victory of the resistance in Lebanon in the 2006 war played the key role in delaying the Syrian war till 2011. The US-led invasion of Iraq in 2003 was simply an attempt to break the Axis of Resistance by implementing the dominos approach in this aspect, and separating Iraq from both Iran and Syria. The US invasion of Iraq compelled Syria to position itself against the US and its allies. That move was one of the reasons to punish and destroy the Syrian State in 2011. Another reason was Syria’s major role in supporting the resistance forces in Lebanon, which was critical for victory in the 2006 war. In sum, the war on Syria was a US attempt to destroy any opposition to it in the region. Alongside this, the devastating Arab wars to destroy the Arab national states ultimately yielded an important political goal in the form of normalization between some of the Gulf countries and Israel. Moreover, the US plan is to establish alliances between those Gulf States and Israel in the form of New Arab Order under the US/Israeli leadership. Its main objective is to fight and destroy Iran and the resistance movements in the region including the Palestinian resistance. Once this goal was obtained, the Zionist state may expand to become the supreme power in the region.

            Soon after the invasion of Iraq (2003), the then US Secretary of State, Colin Powell, conveyed a message to President Bashar Al-Assad that came to be known as the Powell conditions and included three main demands that Syria had to comply with: (1) approval of the termination of the Palestinian right of return and the resettlement of the Palestinian refugees in the host countries; (2) refraining from protecting the resistance and expelling all the Palestinian resistance factions from Damascus; and (3) breaking its alliance with Iran and Hezbollah. Al-Assad refused these demands. 31 Additionally, and prior to the war on Syria in 2011, the US repeated the same conditions that included the same three main demands mentioned above. Bashar Al-Assad, again, refused those demands. That refusal was the main factor that led to the 2011 war on Syria. 32

            A Disintegration of the Syrian National State?

            The outbreak of the Syrian conflict in early 2011 had a set of internal and external factors. The internal factors were economic and political that developed and implemented over time (like the rise of corruption and wasta). 33 However, the external factors were the core, and connected directly to the US imperial strategy towards Syria and the Middle East region. In this way, the war on Syria has been a global war having more than one front during the last eleven years (2011–22). About 120 countries were involved (on different levels) in this genocidal global war led by the US with the participation of the main western superpowers (the UK, France, and Germany), which is considered an international crime. 34 The second factor (substantiated by confessions and documents) that the main aim of this war was to disintegrate and dismantle, fragment, and destroy the Central Syrian State. 35 Furthermore, the goal was to destroy the Syrian culture and falsify its history and, consequently, to totally destroy the Syrian society and civilization, which would allow US imperialism to rebuild the Syrian State and society along different lines based on neoliberalism. This plan reminds one of what happened in Egypt in the Sadat period through the Camp David Accords. 36 Thus the aim, of course, was never to bring democracy to Syria or to stand up for human rights, which have been nothing more than a facade. Although the war in Syria is not over, it is obvious that those Western objectives have collapsed and Syria is moving towards recovery. 37

            It is important to note that the Syrian economy has never been a completely socialist economy, but it has always depended on the Syrian Bourgeoisie. However, the different pressures that were placed on Syria after the collapse of the USSR and on Bashar Al-Assad after 2000 pushed Syria into more unbalanced moves towards a liberal economy, particularly during the former minister of economics Abdallah Al-Dardari’s (post 2005). Consequently, the Syrian Bourgeoisie were the only class to fully benefit from such policies. Those liberal economic policies led to an increase in the cost of living and to the deterioration of the shaky Syrian economy and more than that to a widening in the economic gap within Syrian society.

            Despite the Syrian economic crisis and the difficult living conditions experienced by the workers, farmers, and the middle class, the main factors of the war were external. Thus, the preparations for the war on Syria started soon after the Iraq war in 2003 and they increased since 2007 under US leadership with direct collaboration of Turkey, Qatar, Israel, and some western countries. The US demanded plans on how to fragment the Syrian State and destroy it from within. The collaborating countries—mainly Turkey and Qatar—promised that the issue would be ready in the coming few months. 38 Hence, the scene was already prepared for the war on Syria.

            The events started in Der’a in early 2011; and here it is important to note that the Syrian crisis was violent from the beginning. For instance, Youssef Al-Qaradawi (or Sheikh Al-Fitna) was one of the main Ikhwani actors and instruments in the Syrian crisis. Al-Qaradawi, with direct support from Qatar, called for the people to remain in the streets and not to accept anything from the Syrian government despite what president Bashar Al-Assad offered. 39 Those events were followed with extensive and heavy propaganda worldwide. 40 Hundreds of embedded journalists (Arabs and international) worked as tools to justify the acts of those terrorists and presented them as “revolutionaries.” 41

            The heavy influx of foreign terrorists came from bordering countries, mainly Turkey, Jordan, Iraq, and Lebanon, and all played significant roles in the Syrian war. The terrorists received great amounts of military equipment and financial aid from the West through those countries. The Gulf countries (the UAE, Qatar, and Saudi Arabia) alongside the US, the West, and Israel were the main sponsors for these terrorists ( takfiris) who operated all over the Syrian geography. 42 In early 2012, more pressure was placed on Syria, it was expelled from the Arab League and isolated and foreign countries withdrew their ambassadors and closed their embassies. 43 The Gulf involvement in the onslaught on Syria was evident; there were the Wahabis (the Saudis), the UAE, and Ikhwanis (Qatar and Turkey). Further, the anti-Syrian Lebanese representing mainly the mainstream March 14 bloc took part in the war against Syria. 44 Al-Qaida also participated in the war. 45 All those groups had one mission: the destruction of the Syrian State. Moreover, Jordan went further and created an intelligence monitoring and a command and control room, which was operated by intelligence officers from the US, the Gulf, and Israel. Israel’s involvement in Syria was also evident and started from the early days of the war. Israel provided unlimited support to the takfiri terrorist groups like Jabhat Al-Nusra, which came through the provision of arms and other aid, specifically food and medical supplies in addition to treating thousands of takfiri terrorists inside Israel. 46 Furthermore, Israel’s ongoing aggressions on Syria since the early days of the war targeted the Syrian infrastructure, the National Army and Hezbollah, the Syrian national institutions, and innocent civilians. For its part, Turkey was directly involved in the Syrian war through the transfer of terrorists and the flow of supplies and arms to the takfiris. In 2011, Turkey hosted the first meeting of the “Syrian opposition” and in 2016 launched a wide operation called Der’ Al-Fourat, which later expanded into wider military operations against northern Syria in 2018, culminating in the occupation of large parts in northern Syria. 47 Likewise, Qatar was the most involved actor in the war on different levels including the propaganda role of Al Jazeera; and through the provisions of aid and arms to the terrorists, takfiri groups. Qatar, for example, had been the main sponsor of Hamas in the latter’s role in the Syrian war. Thus Hamas prioritized its Ikhwani ideology above anything else, as was clear, for example, in the Yarmouk Palestinian refugee camp in Damascus (2011–15), when Hamas collaborated with other terrorists in the occupation and destruction of the camp. 48 Alongside these developments, the US role has been in the lead in the war through planning, directing, aiding the terrorists, and launching air strikes on Syria has been huge and massive. Furthermore, the US occupied parts of Eastern Syria to control the Syrian oil and to disrupt the main route that connects Syria with Iraq. More than that, the US and its allies (including the EU countries, Canada, Australia, Switzerland, and the Arab League) imposed a series of severe economic and financial sanctions against Syria, and since 2011 these sanctions expanded to include an embargo against the Syrian Oil sector. These unjust and unfair sanctions put more pressure on Syria and its shaky economy and led to a severe humanitarian crisis since 2011.

            In contrast to the US and its allies, vis-à-vis Syria, Russia and China both stood firmly with Syria in this conflict. They both used their veto power in the Security Council continually in favor of Syria. 49 However, the Russian role in Syria remained ambiguous, as Russia attempted to balance its role in the Middle East between Israel and the Axis of Resistance. At the same time, Russia is attempting to enhance its role in the Middle East, primarily in the East Mediterranean. The discovery of gas and oil in massive quantities in the Syrian and Lebanese exclusive economic zone was a main consideration for Russia in taking a direct role in the war at the invitation of the Syrian State. The Russian role in the war helped to turn the tide in favor of the Syrian State. 50 Similarly, China aimed to balance its role too, but with more cautious moves, and therefore the Chinese support was expressed through political pressure such as the veto power in the UN Security Council and expanded economically and financially to include aid and support equipment to the Syrian State. 51

            The Syrian State and the Resistance

            Although the war on Syria was directed mainly at toppling the Syrian State and severing it from Hezbollah, initially, the latter did not intervene in the war. In fact, it acted to mediate the divide between the Syrian State and the opposition and to resolve the conflict. Hezbollah remained uninvolved until the end of 2012 when it was clear to the Party that the war presented a real threat to the resistance. 52 This realization was cemented after the increased aggression against Lebanese border villages and the eviction of Lebanese civilians from their farms and villages all the way to the Al-Asi River at the Lebanese–Syrian border. Starting in September 2012 Al-Qaida (and other takfiris) wanted to establish their Imara 53 in this area (i.e. between the Beqa valley and North Lebanon). 54 That plan would have severed Lebanon from Syria. The danger began to spread further once the terrorists aimed to occupy the strategic city of Al-Koseir after displacing its mixed Lebanese and Syrian inhabitants. Their main aim was to link this strategic town ( Al-Koseir) with the Akkar district in Northern Lebanon to form their Imara. 55 The Imara would have created a corridor from the Beqa to the Mediterranean through the city of Tripoli in Northern Lebanon. Hezbollah put an end to that plan by seizing Al-Koseir. Moreover, by early 2013, the takfiris created and controlled a strip alongside the Lebanese–Syrian borders from Tal-Kalakh in North Lebanon towards the edge of the Damascus–Beirut Road southwards. Adjacent to this strip in Lebanon, are the areas from Wadi Khalid (through the villages and Jouroud Irsal and the Baalbak-Hermil district) down to Kfar-Zabad. 56 Further to this, the discovery of the ships loaded with weapons in Northern Lebanon (Lutfallah I and Lutfallah II) that were on their way to the takfiris in Syria 57 and also the continuous, non-stop terror attacks by the takfiris on the Lebanese border villages in Eastern Lebanon pushed Hezbollah to intervene militarily to put an end to this terrorist threat by entering the war in late 2012 alongside the Syrian National Army. It is important to underscore that Hezbollah’s military intervention in Syria was to protect the resistance and Lebanon from this new wave of terror and to make sure that the Syrian State would not fall. Thus, the first official announcement of Hezbollah’s military intervention in Syria and the main reason for this intervention came directly from Sayyed Nasrallah in his speech on the day of Resistance and Liberation (May 25, 2013) when he said:

            Syria is no longer an arena for a popular revolution against a political regime; it is rather an arena to impose a political project led by the US, the West and its client states. Syria represents the main support of the Resistance, and the Resistance cannot stand by watching as its back is broken. If Syria falls into the hands of the US, Israel and the takfiris, the Resistance will be isolated and Lebanon will go back to the Israeli era 58

            The Resistance and the Syrian National Army won the battle of Al-Koseir during the early days of June 2013. This battle changed the entire military situation in Syria and marked the main transformation in the Syrian war in favor of the Syrian State and the Resistance. 59 Hezbollah’s military intervention in Syria thwarted the US war plans for Syria, and this intervention came as a real surprise to it. 60 The success at Al-Koseir in June 2013 was followed by another achievement in Al-Qalamoun in spring 2014 and later in Al-Joroud ( Joroud Irsal) in summer 2017. 61 Those major battles marked the end of terrorist activities in Lebanon and put an end to the car bombs and explosions in Lebanon in which Al-Nusra terrorist group and later Da’esh were implicated. 62 Strategically, Hezbollah’s intervention in Syria was critical for both the Resistance and the Syrian National Army. In sum, it elevated Hezbollah into an advanced level in guerrilla warfare with countless skills and expertise, combining guerrilla warfare and classical army skills, and this is one of the main issues of worry to Israel. 63 The intervention in Syria elevated Hezbollah to the level of a major regional player. Similarly, the Syrian army obtained tools and tactics from the Resistance, which automatically transformed it from a classical army to a formidable fighting force facing the terrorists.

            Conclusion

            This article concludes that Syria has been fighting a global war since 2011. Syria is the heart of this Middle East region and the main gate to the Mediterranean and therefore the struggle over Syria is the struggle over the Middle East region. Therefore, its disintegration and collapse, would lead automatically to the total collapse of multiple Middle Eastern nation-states. Strategically, the collapse of Syria may lead to further violence and facilitate the total disintegration of multiple Middle East nation-states. It may also determine the end of the resistance movements in this region and termination of the Palestinian liberation struggle. Hence resistance to the US imperial order is the only way forward for the peoples of the Middle East. The war in Syria is perhaps coming to an end, but it is unlikely to finish soon. However, Syria has proven to be the hardest link in the Axis of Resistance and will remain the cornerstone of the Middle East region. Finally, the Middle East could become the cornerstone of the anti-imperial world order in the aftermath of this conflict.

            Notes

            1.

            Kamal S. Salibi, The Modern History of Lebanon (Published by Caravan Books, Delmar, New York: 2004), 159–160. See also B .J. Odeh, Lebanon: Dynamics of Conflict (London: Zed Books Ltd., 1985), 40.

            2.

            See Roger Owen, State, Power and Politics in the Making of the Modern Middle East, (London & New York: Routledge, Taylor & Francis Group, 3rd Edition, 2004), 6–7.

            3.

            Samir Amin, Ba’da Harb Al-Khaleej: Al-Haymana Al-Amerikiya Ila Ayn?, Al-Mustaqbal Al-Arabi 170 (April, 1993), 15. See also: Samir Amin (2004), “U.S. Imperialism, Europe and the Entire Middle East,” Monthly Review 56:6, 13–33.

            4.

            This may not endure for long as there are other rising powers in the world nowadays, such as the BRICS coalition and the Shanghai Cooperation Group; [Shanghai Cooperation Group formed on June 15, 2001 and its main headquarters is located in Beijing China. BRICS was formed in 2009 and includes the following countries: Brazil, Russia, India, China and in 2010 South Africa joined, along with some South American countries]. Both BRICS and the Shanghai Cooperation Group are expected to play a significant role in world politics in the coming period and reduce US influence and hegemony over the world in general and the Middle East region in particular. In fact, the BRICS coalition is one of the main obstacles facing the United States from achieving its total hegemony over the world. See Samir Amin (2015), “Contemporary Imperialism,” Monthly Review 67:3 (2015), 34–35.

            5.

            The Axis of Resistance starts in Iran and includes Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Palestine and links all the resisting powers in the Middle East region and this Axis expands to include Yemen; it even expands further to include the anti-imperialist powers such as Russia and China. Syria is central, and it is the core of this Axis.

            6.

            The US attempt to enforce a “New World Order” during the presidency of George Bush (the father) in early 1990s; it was designed for the post Soviet Era (post 1990 period) and to differentiate, the 1990s New World Order is not the same New World Order the US is attempting to establish.

            7.

            Rami Siklawi, “Iraq between 1990 and 2015: Dimensions of Conflict”, International Journal of Contemporary Iraqi Studies 10:3 (2016), 263–273.

            8.

            Kamal Deib, Suriy’a fi al-Tarikh: Min Akdam al-Ousour hata 2016 (Beirut, Lebanon: al-Maktaba al-Sharkiya, first edition, 2017), 735.

            9.

            Kamal Deib, Suriy’a fi al-Tarikh: Min Akdam al-Ousour hata 2016 (Beirut, Lebanon: al-Maktaba al-Sharkiya, first edition, 2017), 716.

            10.

            See Walid Charara in Ushriyat Al-Nar: Mehwar Al-Mouqawama … Malamih Al-Bidayat (Almayadeen TV Channel, May 4, 2021 Episode) https://www.almayadeen.net/episodes/1475525/عشرية-النار_محور-المقاومة-ملامح-البدايات

            11.

            Here we talk about Bilad al-Sham, which means Greater Syria and includes Modern Syria, Lebanon, and Palestine.

            12.

            Kamal Deib, Suriy’a fi al-Tarikh: Min Akdam al-Ousour hata 2016 (Beirut, Lebanon: al-Maktaba al-Sharkiya, first edition, 2017), 23.

            13.

            Deib K. Suriy’a fi al-Tarikh: Min Akdam al-Ousour hata 2016 (Beirut, Lebanon: al-Maktaba al-Sharkiya, first edition, 2017), 23.

            14.

            Roger Owen, State, Power and Politics in the Making of the Modern Middle East (London & New York: Routledge, Taylor & Francis Group, 3rd Edition, 2004), 6–7.

            15.

            Owen, State, Power and Politics in the Making of the Modern Middle East, 19.

            16.

            B. J. Odeh, Lebanon: Dynamics of Conflict (London: Zed Books Ltd., 1985), 95.

            17.

            Rami Siklawi, “Iraq between 1990 and 2015: Dimensions of Conflict,” International Journal of Contemporary Iraqi Studies 10:3 (2016), 263–273.

            18.

            B. J. Odeh, Lebanon: Dynamics of Conflict (London: Zed Books Ltd., 1985), 5. See also Roger Owen, State, Power and Politics in the Making of the Modern Middle East (London & New York: Routledge, Taylor & Francis Group, 3rd Edition, 2004), 61.

            19.

            Alain Gresh & Dominique Vidal, The New A–Z of the Middle East (London & New York: I. B. Tauris & Co Ltd, 2004), 142–143.

            20.

            Patrick Seale, Asad of Syria: The Struggle for the Middle East (Berkeley, Los Angeles & London: University of California Press, First Published in 1988 by I. B. Tauris & Co. Ltd, London, First University of California Press edition published in 1989, first paperback printing 1990, Revised 1995), 67.

            21.

            B. J. Odeh, Lebanon: Dynamics of Conflict (London: Zed Books, London: 1985), 7.

            22.

            Gresh & Vidal, The New A–Z of the Middle East, 295.

            23.

            See Seif Da’na, in Ushriyat Al-Nar: Mehwar Al-Mouqawama … Malamih Al-Bidayat, (Almayadeen TV Channel, May 4, 2021 Episode) https://www.almayadeen.net/episodes/1475525/عشرية-النار_محور-المقاومة-ملامح-البدايات

            24.

            See Seif Da’na, in Ushriyat Al-Nar: Mehwar Al-Mouqawama … Malamih Al-Bidayat, (Almayadeen TV Channel, May 4, 2021 Episode) https://www.almayadeen.net/episodes/1475525/عشرية-النار_محور-المقاومة-ملامح-البدايات

            25.

            Wesley K. Clark, Winning Modern War: Iraq, Terrorism and the American Empire (US: Public Affairs, first edition, 2003).

            26.

            Kamal Deib, Suriy’a fi al-Tarikh: Min Akdam al-Ousour hata 2016 (Beirut, Lebanon: al-Maktaba al-Sharkiya, first edition, 2017), 707. See also Seif Da’na in Ushriyat Al-Nar: Lou’bat Al-Shataranj … Al-Da’wafih, (Almayadeen TV Channel, March 9, 2021 Episode) https://www.almayadeen.net/episodes/1463568/عشرية-النار_لعبة-الشطرنج-الدوافع

            27.

            Kamal Deib, Suriy’a fi al-Tarikh: Min Akdam al-Ousour hata 2016 (Beirut, Lebanon: al-Maktaba al-Sharkiya, first edition, 2017), 708.

            28.

            Kamal Deib, Suriy’a fi al-Tarikh: Min Akdam al-Ousour hata 2016 (Beirut, Lebanon: al-Maktaba al-Sharkiya, first edition, 2017), 708.

            29.

            Mowafaq Mahadeen, Interview with Almayadeen TV Channel حوار الساعة (Almayadeen TV Channel August 9, 2018), https://www.almayadeen.net

            30.

            Rami Siklawi, “Iraq between 1990 and 2015: Dimensions of Conflict,” International Journal of Contemporary Iraqi Studies, 10:3 (2016), 263–273.

            31.

            See Lou’bat Al-Umam: Souriya wa al-Kadiyya al-Filistiniyya [Syria & the Palestine Issue Episode], (Almayadeen TV, October 7, 2020), https://almayadeen.net/episodes/1428184/لعبة-الأمم_سوريا-والقضية-الفلسطينية

            See also Interview with Umran Al-Zou’bi (Syrian Minister of Information) with Tasnim News, Al-Zou’bi Yakshif An Mouktarah Collin Powell Lil-Ra’iys Bashar Al-Assad wa An Basamat Sheikh Al-Fitna Fi Ahdath Souriya (Tasnim News, August 18, 2015), https://www.tasnimnews.com/ar/news/2015/08/18/832766

            32.

            See Lou’bat Al-Umam: Souriya wa al-Kadiyya al-Filistiniyya [Syria & the Palestine Issue Episode], (Almayadeen TV, October 7, 2020), https://almayadeen.net/episodes/1428184/لعبة-الأمم_سوريا-والقضية-الفلسطينية

            33.

            Wasta mean a connection whereas Al-Wasei’t is the mediator, i.e. someone with influence who can procure favors from people in authority like obtaining a job or a position

            34.

            See Seif Da’na in Ushriyat Al-Nar: Al-Kholasat (Almayadeen TV Channel, August 17, 2021 Episode) https://www.almayadeen.net/episodes-tv/الخلاصات/عشرية-النار

            35.

            See Seif Da’na in Ushriyat Al-Nar: Al-Kholasat (Almayadeen TV Channel, August 17, 2021 Episode) https://www.almayadeen.net/episodes-tv/الخلاصات/عشرية-النار

            36.

            See Seif Da’na in Ushriyat Al-Nar: Al-Kholasat (Almayadeen TV Channel, August 17, 2021 Episode) https://www.almayadeen.net/episodes-tv/الخلاصات/عشرية-النار

            37.

            See Seif Da’na in Ushriyat Al-Nar: Al-Kholasat (Almayadeen TV Channel, August 17, 2021 Episode) https://www.almayadeen.net/episodes-tv/الخلاصات/عشرية-النار

            38.

            Kamal Deib, Suriy’a fi al-Tarikh: Min Akdam al-Ousour hata 2016 (Beirut, Lebanon: al-Maktaba al-Sharkiya, first edition, 2017), 745.

            39.

            See Interview with Umran Al-Zou’bi (Syrian Minister of Information) with Tasnim News, Al-Zou’bi Yakshif An Mouktarah Collin Powell Lil-Ra’iys Bashar Al-Assad wa An Basamat Sheikh Al-Fitna Fi Ahdath Souriya, (Tasnim News, August 18, 2015), https://www.tasnimnews.com/ar/news/2015/08/18/832766

            40.

            See Ushriyat Al-Nar: I’ilam Al-Tadlil (Almayadeen TV Channel, March 23, 2021 Episode) https://www.almayadeen.net/episodes/1466496/عشرية-النار_إعلام-التضليل

            41.

            Kamal Deib, Suriy’a fi al-Tarikh: Min Akdam al-Ousour hata 2016 (Beirut, Lebanon: al-Mak taba al-Sharkiya, first edition, 2017), 744.

            42.

            Kamal Deib, Suriy’a fi al-Tarikh: Min Akdam al-Ousour hata 2016 (Beirut, Lebanon: al-Maktaba al-Sharkiya, first edition, 2017), 752–766.

            43.

            Kamal Deib, Suriy’a fi al-Tarikh: Min Akdam al-Ousour hata 2016 (Beirut, Lebanon: al-Maktaba al-Sharkiya, first edition, 2017), 767–768.

            44.

            Ibrahim Al-Amin, Hezbollah fi Souriy’ya, ( Al-Akhbar Newspaper, issue no 2008, May 21, 2013). See also Kamal Deib, Suriy’a fi al-Tarikh: Min Akdam al-Ousour hata 2016 (Beirut, Lebanon: al-Maktaba al-Sharkiya, first edition, 2017), 788.

            45.

            Kamal Deib, Suriy’a fi al-Tarikh: Min Akdam al-Ousour hata 2016 (Beirut, Lebanon: al-Maktaba al-Sharkiya, first edition, 2017), 766.

            46.

            Yehya Dbouk, “Al-Nousra” Toha’did Li-Israel Al-Jarha’ Al-Gheir Irhabi’yiin! ( Al-Akhbar Newspaper, issue no 2456, November 28, 2014).

            47.

            See Ushriyat Al-Nar: Lou’bat Al-Shataranj … Al-Adwar,(Almayadeen TV Channel, March 16, 2021 Episode) https://www.almayadeen.net/episodes/1465091/عشرية-النار_لعبة-الشطرنج-الأدوار

            48.

            Firas Al-Shoufi, Al-Yarmouk: Yawma Doufi’at–Hamas, Souri’ya- Ela Hodon Dimasq ( Al-Akhbar Newspaper, issue no 2564, April 11, 2015).

            49.

            On the Russian role in Syria since 2011; see Kamal Deib, Suriy’a fi al-Tarikh: Min Akdam al-Ousour hata 2016 (Beirut, Lebanon: al-Maktaba al-Sharkiya, first edition, 2017), 817–819.

            50.

            In 2012, the Russian navy deployed at the port of Tartous; and in 2015, Russia intervened directly and began its military operations on the Syrian grounds alongside the Syrian national army and the allies. See Ushriyat Al-Nar: Lou’bat Al-Shataranj … Al-Adwar, (Almayadeen TV Channel, March 16, 2021 Episode) https://www.almayadeen.net/episodes/1465091/عشرية-النار_لعبة-الشطرنج-الأدوار

            51.

            Ali Al-Kadri & Linda Matar, Dawr Al-Sein Fi Amn Souriya Al-Qawmi ( Al-Akhbar Newspaper, issue no 4080, June 22, 2020) See also Kamal Deib, Suriy’a fi al-Tarikh: Min Akdam al-Ousour hata 2016 (Beirut, Lebanon: al-Maktaba al-Sharkiya, first edition, 2017), 818.

            52.

            Ibrahim Al-Amin, Al-Mouraja’a Darouriy’a Li-Ajl Al-Mouqawama ( Al-Akhbar Newspaper, issue no 2023, June 8, 2013).

            53.

            Imara or Emara (English: Emirate) generally means a territory (namely a principality) controlled and ruled/governed by a ruler, namely the prince ( Al-Amir). However, according the takfiri concept of this term, al-Imara means a territory ruled by Amir hired directly from Al-Khalifa.

            54.

            Ibrahim Al-Amin & Hassan Oleik, Hezbollah fi Souriy’ya: 15 Sah’ran Mina Al-Injazat Al-Amniy’ya Wa Al-Askari’ya ( Al-Akhbar Newspaper, issue no 2268, April 10, 2014). See also Kamal Deib, Suriy’a fi al-Tarikh: Min Akdam al-Ousour hata 2016, ( al-Maktaba al-Sharkiya, Beirut, Lebanon, first edition, 2017), 815.

            55.

            Deib, Suriy’a fi al-Tarikh: Min Akdam al-Ousour hata 2016, 815.

            56.

            Ibrahim Al-Amin & Hassan Oleik, Hezbollah fi Souriy’ya: 15 Sah’ran Mina Al-Injazat Al-Amniy’ya Wa Al-Askari’ya (Al-Akhbar Newspaper, issue no 2268, April 10, 2014).

            57.

            See Nasser Charara, Hakaza Koushifat Al-Ba’khira Lutfallah ( Al-Akhbar Newspaper, issue no 1709, May 17, 2012).

            58.

            Wafiq Kanso, Al-Koseir Zahr Al-Mouqawama wa Al-Ghabi Man Yatafaraj Ala Hisarihi, ( Al-Akhbar Newspaper, issue no 2013, May 27, 2013).

            59.

            Ibrahim Al-Amin & Hassan Oleik, Hezbollah fi Souriy’ya: 15 Sah’ran Mina Al-Injazat Al-Amniy’ya Wa Al-Askari’ya ( Al-Akhbar Newspaper, issue no 2268, April 10, 2014).

            60.

            It is important to note that the US did not expect Hezbollah and Iran to intervene militarily and directly on the ground in Syria. See Anis Al-Nakkash, Ushriyat Al-Nar: Lou’bat Al-Shataranj … Akhir Ma Kalaho Anis Al-Nakkash, (Almayadeen TV Channel, March 2, 2021 Episode) https://www.almayadeen.net/episodes/1461935/عشرية-النار_آخر-ما-قاله-أنيس-النقاش

            61.

            It is important to note that the terrorist groups who fought the resistance and the Syrian National Army during the battle of Al-Qalamoun in Spring 2015 (according to Ibrahim Al-Amin) consist of: Jayish Al-Fatih under Al-Nusra leadership and it includes Harakat Ahrar Al-Sham Al-Islamiyya, Fay’lak Al-Sham, Jund Al-Aqsa, Tajam’mouh wa I’itasimou (formed from: Li’wa Al-Ghoura’baa, Li’wa Nousour Al-Sham, Kata’ib Al-Seif Al-Oumari, Katei’bat Rijal Al-Qalamoun), Jayish Al-Qalamoun (formed from Majmou’at Al-Jayish Al-Hour), and Li’wa Tahrir Al-Sham. See Ibrahim Al-Amin Jayish Hezbollah I ( Al-Akhbar Newspaper, issue no 2592, May 18, 2015).

            62.

            The takfiri terrorist activities against Lebanon spread to include the car bombs and explosions that targeted the civilian neighborhoods mainly the Baalback-Hermel district in East Lebanon and the Southern suburbs of Beirut ( al-Dahya) where hundreds of innocent Lebanese civilians lost their lives in these terrorist explosions.

            63.

            Ali Hashem, Hezbollah fi Souriya … A’m Mada: Khobourat Kitaliy’ya Mouktasaba Tou’thir Qalak Israel ( Assafir Newspaper, April 11, 2014, issue no 12747).

            Author and article information

            Contributors
            Journal
            10.13169/arabstudquar
            Arab Studies Quarterly
            ASQ
            Pluto Journals
            2043-6920
            4 November 2022
            4 November 2022
            : 44
            : 3-4
            : 181-195
            Affiliations
            [1-arabstudquar.44.3-4.0181]Assistant editor of Arab Studies Quarterly and an independent scholar, Beirut, Lebanon
            Author notes
            Article
            10.13169/arabstudquar.44.3-4.0181
            c5f418aa-5053-40bb-b55f-dab604b02d38
            © 2022 Rami Siklawi

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            Social & Behavioral Sciences
            Syria,Syrian Conflict,Bilad al-Sham,Palestine,Middle East,US

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