Khoury, Urban Notables and Arab Nationalism

by James A. Reilly
published in MER134

Philip S. Khoury, Urban Notables and Arab Nationalism: The Politics of Damascus, 1860-1920 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1983).

This is the latest in a growing number of studies which discuss the social origins of political ideologies in the Arab East. Philip Khoury sets himself the task of explaining the development of Arab nationalism in Damascus through an analysis of the class-conditioned political behavior of the city’s landowner-bureaucrats.

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Sulayman, al-Masalla

by Ulrike Stehli
published in MER134

Nabil Sulayman, al-Masalla [The Obelisk] (Beirut: Dar al-Haqa’iq, 1980).

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Portraits of Syrian Workers

by Elisabeth Longuenesse
published in MER134

The Dibs Company Workers

The United Arab Industrial Company, also known as the Dibs Company after its former owners, is a large textile factory located in a rural area south of Damascus. It was founded in 1955 and nationalized in 1964. In 1980, it had 1,660 employees, nearly 200 of whom were administrative personnel. The following portraits of Dibs Company workers are drawn from interviews conducted in March 1980.

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The Syrian Working Class Today

by Elisabeth Longuenesse
published in MER134

What is the position of the working class in contemporary Syrian society? I posed this question ten years ago and concluded at the time that one could only speak of a “class in formation.” [1] I was criticized then for having even raised such a question. After all, pre-capitalist relations of production in Syria have disintegrated, the artisan class has declined, there are increasing numbers of large capitalist enterprises employing an ever larger number of workers, and a class-based trade union movement emerged a half century ago. So it is tempting to conclude that the working class has in fact established itself as an actor on the Syrian social scene. But its obvious weakness in contemporary politics and society continues to raise a number of questions.

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Palestinians in Damascus

The Democratic Front and the PFLP

by
published in MER134

The assault on the Palestinian camps in Beirut ended in a truce signed in Damascus on June 17, which reflected the failure of Amal to defeat the Palestinian militias. The agreement also reflected Syria’s role in the battles by having the Palestinian side represented only by the Palestine National Salvation Front (PNSF). MERIP correspondent Mark Garfield visited Damascus in early July and spoke about the situation with Jamil Hilal, a member of the central committee of the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine (DFLP) and with Taysir Qubba, deputy head of political relations for the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP). The DFLP is not affiliated with the PNSF; the PFLP is.

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Syria and Lebanon, 1943-1975

by Philip Khoury
published in MER134

In their final years under French rule, Syria and Lebanon entered into an unprecedented cooperation in order to free themselves from France. The liberal nationalist regimes in Damascus and Beirut reinforced one another’s demands for complete political independence without first having to sign treaties with France. Support for their position came from Britain, the United States and, in 1945, from the newly founded Arab League. The Syrian nationalists appeared to have reconciled themselves to the integrity and sovereignty of a greater Lebanon, as established by the French in 1920, although after independence Damascus refused to establish formal diplomatic relations with Beirut.

Syria in Lebanon

by William Harris
published in MER134

Preeminent influence in Lebanon, both on the central government and between the various factions, is critical for Syria from defensive and offensive strategic perspectives, whatever one considers Syria’s role to be in the pan-Arab arena or in the Arab-Israeli conflict.

From the defensive perspective, Lebanon covers the entire western flank of southern Syria, offering immediate access to the Damascus and Homs regions. Since Lebanon’s descent into chaos beginning in 1975, Syria has been particularly concerned about three contingencies:

Cadres, Guns and Money

The Eighth Regional Congress of the Syrian Baath

by Yahya Sadowski
published in MER134

Hafiz al-Asad marched into the Palace of the People in Damascus on the evening of January 6, 1985 to convene the eighth regional congress of the Baath Party. The standing ovation which greeted his entrance was immediately broadcast to the most remote corners of Syria by a platoon of television cameras.

The Syrian Crisis in Jordan

by Matthew Hall | published June 24, 2013

An hour and a quarter north of Amman the rural highway rolls through the remote desert hamlet of Zaatari without slowing. The town’s lone intersection is too sleepy to need a stop sign.

How to Help Syria Now

by Chris Toensing | published May 29, 2013

The appalling civil war in Syria is well into its third year. With upwards of 70,000 dead, countless numbers maimed and injured, and millions of refugees, there are recurrent calls for the United States to “do something” to end the mayhem. That “something” is usually defined as military intervention -- imposing a no-fly zone, arming the rebels, even sending the Marines.

The Obama administration should have the wisdom to resist these calls. There are other “somethings” that have a better chance of doing good.