Arab Nationalism and Syria

Topics: Syria, Israel, Golan Heights Pages: 8 (3266 words) Published: April 28, 2008
Description of Country
Syria is a country located in the Middle East, bordering the Mediterranean Sea, between Lebanon and Turkey.
The modern nation of Syria did not exist until the 20th century, although the idea of Syria has been in existence since at least the time of the Prophet Muhammad. The name “Syria”, was first used by the Greeks, historically identifying the region at the eastern end of the Mediterranean lying between Egypt and Asia Minor. Greater Syria, the larger region (called this to distinguish it from the nation-state with the same name today), located at the crossroads of three continents, possesses a long and abounding history. It was an arena of conflict for centuries, serving as an invasion route for numerous armies and the battleground of neighboring empires. Waves of migration and invasion in ancient times and ever-changing religious and political groups made Greater Syria an entangled mix of religion and ethnic groups, often breeding conflict.

Damascus, the capital of Syria is one of the oldest continually inhabited cities in the world. It may have been settled for the first time as early as 2500 BCE. Over the centuries it was dominated by various civilizations including the Aramaean, Assyria, Babylonia, Persian, Greek, Roman, Nabataean, Byzantine, and Ottoman. In 636 CE Damascus came under Muslim rule and rose to its peak of power as the capital of the Umayyad Empire, which expanded fro India to Spain Lasting from 661 to 750. After the decline of the Umayyads, Greater Syria fell to the power of the neighboring states and empires in Anatolia, Egypt and Mesopotamia. The Fatimid rulers of Egypt worked hard to spread Islam throughout Greater Syria, often through force. When Christian Crusaders arrived in the area to fight the Muslims, areas of Syria were split. Some fighting along side Muslims armies, while local Christian groups provided aide to their fellow brothers and sisters in God. This support from the local Christian community for the European invaders created bonds between some of the Levantine and European Christians, probably creating the resentment that occurred in Greater Syria. Damascus served as a rural capital of the Mamluk Empire from 1260 until 1516 when the Ottoman Turks gained control of the region. They held this power for the next 400 years.

Shortly after the turn of the 20th century, Ottoman authorities, fearing the growth of Arab Nationalism, clamped down on Greater Syria. This repression did not succeed in stopping the Arab independence movement. Many Syrians supported Sharif Hussein, the leader of Mecca in the Arabian Peninsula, in his efforts to achieve full Arab indolence from Ottoman control. Hussein and Arab nationalist believed that the British would back the establishment of independent Arab states in the Eastern Mediterranean after the end of World War I in return for Arab military support against the Turks. By the end of the war and the Ottoman’s collapse, an Arab administration was already functioning in Damascus and in the interior areas of what is now Syria. The British controlled Palestine and the French had the coasts.

Although Syrian and Arab nationalists called in 1919 for an independent nation with Faisal as king, the 1920 San Remo Conference of the victorious allies place the areas that is now Syria and Lebanon under French Control. France held negotiations with local Arab nationalists throughout the late 1920’s. A major point of disagreement concerned the links between Mt. Lebanon, Jabal Druze, Alexandretta and the rest of the region. Syria finally became independent during World War II. When the free French took control of Syria from Vichy government representatives in 1941, they promised independence in order to gain local support. The granted de jure independence in late 1941, and an elected government under President Shukri al-Kuwatly came to power in 1943. The last of the French soldiers were not, however, withdrawn...
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