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Syria History

Syria - national flagSyria - national flag

Syria's current flag was officially hoisted in 1980. It contains the pan-Arab colors, red, green, white and black, and is supposed to symbolize Arab unity; the two stars represent the United Arab Republic, of which Syria was a member along with Egypt 1958-61. The flag has been changed several times, most recently in 1980 in protest of Egypt's peace treaty with Israel.

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Syria - History - Until the Arab Invasion

The oldest human remains go more than 1 million. years back and is among the oldest in West Asia. At that time, humans, probably Homo erectus, lived along the Orontes River. The most important finds originate from the area around Latamne north of Hama. Large flint tools, hand wedges and bones of large game have been found here. In a cave at Dederiyah north of Aleppo, a 50,000-year-old, well-preserved child skeleton of a Neanderthal human has been excavated.

The Neolithic is well represented in Syria, which forms part of the so-called fertile crescent. In this area, which follows the Zagros and Taurus Mountains with an extension down into the Orontes and Jordan valleys, the wild wheat and city species that could be bred grew, and here lived several of the animals that could be domesticated. Therefore, the area is traditionally associated with the development of the oldest peasant cultures in West Asia more than 10,000 years ago. In Syria, finds have been made of villages from the period in Buqras on the Euphrates River in eastern Syria as well as at Tell Aswad near Damascus. From approximately 6500 BC developed the ceramic technology, presumably as a further development of a gypsum and cement technology, which was used in the manufacture of bowls and vessels. Pottery quickly became an important material, and during the 6th millennium BC. vases and bowls were richly decorated. The most notable traditions were associated with the Halaf culture, whose core area was NE Syria and Assyria.

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approximately 5000 BC penetrated Mesopotamian traditions into Syria. It was probably partly a movement of a population from Mesopotamia along the Euphrates, partly a cultural contagion of the civilization that was developing in southern Mesopotamia, known as the Ubaid culture. An important element in its spread to the west was the growing interest in the use of copper. Among other things, it was extracted in Eastern Anatolia around the sources of the Euphrates River. approximately 3500 BC culminated in this development. In southern Mesopotamia, individual settlements grew to a size that can be characterized as highly developed urban communities with monumental temples. The writing was invented as an administrative tool, and there was mass production of larks. The period is called Urukperiod and covers most of the 4th millennium BC. Colonies were built in Syria along the Euphrates to control access to the copper deposits of Eastern Anatolia, for example at Habuba Kabira.

Syrian Bronze Age, approximately 3000-1200 BC, is characteristic of a number of city-states. Ebla occupied through the last half of the 3rd millennium and in the beginning of the 2nd millennium BC. a significant role in the political power structure between the Mesopotamian superpowers and the Syrian city-states. Judging by the names of the kings, by the beginning of the 2nd millennium an Amorite population group has taken power in most of the Syrian cities. Three cities developed into regional kingdoms 1800-1600 BC: Aleppo, Qatna near Homs and Mari on the Euphrates. Ugaritus on the Mediterranean coast eventually became one of the most important port cities in the eastern Mediterranean. Through Ugarittraded large quantities of goods. The city flourished especially in the late Bronze Age (1600-1200 BC), despite the fact that the Hittites had dominated Syria for much of the period. approximately 1200 BC the city was hit by a disaster and destroyed. The event is usually associated with the upheaval that is found throughout the eastern Mediterranean. It was the beginning of Syria's Iron Age.

Syria History

The period until approximately 1000 BC is relatively poorly known. It seems that the collapse of the prior political structure left a vacuum that allowed new population groups to locate in important cities. Syria was again divided during 1000 BC. in small kingdoms of city-state character, but now ruled by Aramaic dynasties. In northern Syria, at the same time, late Hittite traditions survived, which can be known both in the written language Luvian and in traditions such as cremation. The most important Aramaic kingdoms were based in the cities of Damascus, Hama, Zincirli, Arpad (Tell Rifaat), To Barsip and Tell Halaf. The kingdoms, however, were constantly exposed to a threat from the great Assyrian kings in the east. Despite attempts to stem the Assyrian expansion by alliances, the Aramaean kingdoms succumbed, and approximately 720 BC the country was completely subject to Assyria. After the fall of Nineveh in 612 BC. the Babylonians took power in West Asia, incl. Syria. After the fall of Babylon in 539 BC. Syria became the fifth satrapi under the Persian great kings.

The Hellenistic era began in 331 BC, when Alexander the Great defeated the Persian king Darius III and conquered most of West Asia and Egypt, including Syria. After his death in 323 BC. followed a difficult division of the kingdom, which meant that most of Syria fell to the Seleucids, while parts of southern Syria fell to the Ptolemies. During Hellenism, several large cities were built. Antioch by Orontesflodens mouth of the Mediterranean, together with Latakia, north of Apamea Hama and Dura Europos on the Euphrates the new political centers.

In Roman times, from 64 BC. to 395 AD, Syria played an important role as the province of Syria in the Roman Empire with Antioch as its capital. The province supplied the Roman Empire with grain and wine and profited not least as a transit country for the trade in luxury goods from the East. The use of the faster caravan route through the Syrian desert to Damascus via Palmyra meant a boom for this oasis city, which stimulated the city's desire for freedom. From 100-t. the confrontations with the Parthians in the east became more frequent, and in 256 the Sasanian army succeeded in conquering the Dura Europos. Queen Zenobia of Palmyra found the time ripe for a revolt against the Romans; however, this was defeated.

The first Christian communities in Syria originated in Roman times; they gradually crystallized in a variety of faiths; see Syrian churches. Even under Byzantine supremacy, which replaced the Roman in 395, the divergent faiths failed to unite. The country became an easier prey for the Sasanian rulers, and in the early 600-t. Sasanid king Khusrau II succeeded in reaching Damascus and Antioch.

Syria - History - Since the Arab Invasion

The Byzantine rule weakened by the Persian attacks could not withstand the Arab invasion in 633. After the Battle of Yarmuk in 636, Syria became a central part of the rapidly growing Arab empire, and 661 -750 was the center of Damascus in the Umayyad caliphate. During this period, the Umayyad Mosque was built in Damascus, and Arabic became the language of administration in Syria.

After the Abbasids took power in 750, the caliphate moved to Baghdad, and Syria lost its importance as a political and cultural center. I 900-t. the Hamdanids conquered northern Syria, and from Egypt the Fatimids invaded and ruled briefly throughout the land. Turkmen Seljuks forced in the late 1000-t. the Fatimids left, but were themselves pressured by Byzantines and European crusaders.

From 1098, Syria and Palestine were repeatedly attacked by crusaders who, aided by the division of the Arabs, established themselves in the coastal land. Nur al-Din brought the Arabs together for resistance, and his army commander and successor, Saladin, dismantled the Fatimid dynasty in Cairo in 1171 and recaptured Jerusalem in 1187. Saladin became the founder of the Ayyubid dynasty, which ruled Syria until 1260, when the Mamluks, after slowing down the Mongol expansion in the Battle of Ayn Jalut, secured power. The Mamluks finally expelled the Crusaders in 1291, but continued the trade relations with European merchants that had existed since the 1100's.

A new Mongol attack in 1400-01 ushered in a period of decline for Syria, which in 1516 was incorporated into the Ottoman Empire after the Battle of Dabiq. The new rulers withdrew taxes, but did not radically change the structure of society, and with the decline of the Ottoman Empire in the 1700's. the area gradually gained more political and religious freedom. Egyptian Viceroy Muhammad Ali conquered Syria 1831-33 and streamlined the administration, but in 1840 had to return power to the Ottoman sultan, backed by European powers.

The European influence grew in the second half of the 1800's, with the founding of an American and a French university in Beirut and with the establishment of railways. The Western cultural influence as well as religious tensions between Muslims, Christians and Jews fueled Arab nationalism, which was reinforced during World War I by the prospect of an independent Arab state. In 1916, the Nationalists supported the Arab Revolt and joined the Allies in the struggle against the Ottoman Empire.

Crusaders and Ottomans

From 1098, Syria and Palestine were repeatedly attacked by crusaders who, aided by the division of the Arabs, established themselves in the coastal land. Nur al-Din brought the Arabs together for resistance, and his army commander and successor, Saladin, dismantled the Fatimid dynasty in Cairo in 1171 and recaptured Jerusalem in 1187. Saladin became the founder of the Ayyubid dynasty, which ruled Syria until 1260, when the Mamluks, after slowing down the Mongol expansion in the Battle of Ayn Jalut, secured power. The Mamluks finally expelled the Crusaders in 1291, but continued the trade relations with European merchants that had existed since the 1100's.

A new Mongol attack in 1400-01 ushered in a period of decline for Syria, which in 1516 was incorporated into the Ottoman Empire after the Battle of Dabiq. The new rulers withdrew taxes, but did not radically change the structure of society, and with the decline of the Ottoman Empire in the 1700's. the area gradually gained more political and religious freedom. Egyptian Viceroy Muhammad Ali conquered Syria 1831-33 and streamlined the administration, but in 1840 had to return power to the Ottoman sultan, backed by European powers.

The European influence grew in the second half of the 1800's, with the founding of an American and a French university in Beirut and with the establishment of railways. The Western cultural influence as well as religious tensions between Muslims, Christians and Jews fueled Arab nationalism, which was intensified during World War I by the prospect of an independent Arab state. In 1916, the Nationalists supported the Arab Revolt and joined the Allies in the struggle against the Ottoman Empire.

The term of office

When the Ottomans entered into a ceasefire with the Allies in the autumn of 1918, both French and British troops were present in Syria along with the Arab Army under the command of Faysal ibn Husayn, who had launched the Arab Revolt in the summer of 1916. In March 1920, Syria was proclaimed an independent monarchy with Faysal as king, but the Allies refused to recognize the new state, and a French army defeated Faysal's army in the summer of 1920 and then occupied Syria, which had been conquered by the San Remo Conference in April. handed over to France as a mandate. The French divided the Syrian territory into four administrative units and plotted in Latakiain NW and in Hawran towards SW respectively. Alawites and Druze take power, while the rest is divided between Aleppo and Damascus, which on January 1, 1925 were united in the "State of Syria".

The popular opposition to the French Mandate Administration was very strong, and a Druze uprising in 1925 spread to the rest of Syria, leading to the establishment of a national movement. In 1936, the French government concluded an agreement on Syrian independence against Syrian granting of special rights to French investments, but the agreement was not ratified. In 1941, the Free French put the national independence movement in view and in 1946 fulfilled the promise.

Independence

Syria experienced a turbulent time in the years after independence. Participation in the war against Israel 1948-49 was the prelude to several military coups. In 1954, parliamentary elections were held, in which women had the right to vote for the first time. The Ba'ath party was given a good choice and in the following years advocated pan-Arab cooperation, which in 1958 on Syrian initiative led to the formation of the United Arab Republic consisting of Syria and Egypt with North Yemen as an associate member. However, a new coup in 1961 led to Syria withdrawing from cooperation.

A coup in 1963 brought the Ba'athist party to power, and after internal strife within the party, the economically radical group that advocated Arab socialism secured power in 1966, after which the state gradually took control of the country's economic resources. Land was nationalized and distributed to landless day laborers, industry and finance were nationalized, and trade with the outside world came under state control.

Presidents
1943-49 Shukri al-Kuwatli
1949 Husni al-Zaym
1949-51 Hashim al-Atasi
1951-53 Fawzi al-Salu
1953-54 Adib al-Shishakli
1954-55 Hashim al-Atasi
1955-58 Shukri al-Kuwatli
1958-61 (union with Egypt)
1961-63 Nazim al-Qudsi
1963-64 (National Revolutionary Council)
1964-66 (Presidency Council)
1966-70 Nur al-Din al-Atasi
1970-71 al-Sayyid Ahmad al-Khatib
1971-2000 Hafiz al-Assad
2000- Bashar al-Assad

The Ba'ath party survived the defeat of Israel in the 1967 war, but internal strife within the party led to Hafiz al-Assad's coup in 1970. In 1972, the National Progressive Front was formed with a group of smaller parties that have since had full control over the country's political development. Throughout the 1970's, the socialist development strategy was maintained in the economic sphere, but limited private investment was allowed in those areas where the state needed private investors. In foreign policy, Syria maintained an irreconcilable policy toward Israel; the country participated in the 1973 war against Israel and maintained close cooperation with the radical part of the Palestinian movement. Syria was therefore boycotted by the West along with Libya in the 1980's because, in the West's view, the country supported international terrorism.

Syria engaged in the Lebanese Civil War in 1976, but without bringing the civil war to an end. Syrian engagement was maintained throughout the civil war, and although the Syrian army was to leave the country after the end of the civil war under the Taif Agreement, this did not happen until 2005. In 1990, Syria chose to support the international alliance facing Iraq's occupation of Kuwait. This gave rise to the West recognizing the conclusion of a Lebanese-Syrian agreement of 1991, which effectively gave Syria a central role in Lebanon's development, just as Syria was again included in international cooperation.

The Syrian Islamist opposition has tried to fight the regime, but without success. The clash with the Islamists was very violent in the early 1980's - during the defeat of the Muslim Brotherhood in Hama in 1982, 10,000-20,000 people died - but through the 1990's the Islamist opposition became visible again, and Hama. At the end of 1999, after strong US pressure, Syria agreed to resume direct negotiations with Israel on a diplomatic solution to the two countries' conflict. Negotiations for peace with Israel in March 2000 did not lead to any result, as Israel demanded sovereignty over a piece of land along the eastern shore of the Sea of ​​Galilee. Syria maintains that a peace agreement presupposes complete Israeli withdrawal to the borders from before June 1967.

Hafiz al-Assad died in June 2000 and was succeeded as president by his son Bashar al-Assad. Upon his accession, he offered the prospect of economic liberalization initiated by his father in the 1990's, as well as promises of political reform. In 2000 and 2001, Syria experienced the so-called Damascus Spring, where a large number of salons sprang up and formed a framework for the discussion about the country's future, something that would have been unthinkable under Hafiz al-Assad. In 2001, some groups demanded permission for new political parties. Thereafter, the regime took action: all salons were closed and several of the people who had been active in the debate were imprisoned. Syria backed international cooperation against terrorism established after the terrorist attacks on the United States on September 11, 2001. Since then, Syria has maintained that the Palestinian struggle against the Israeli occupation and Hezbollah'sfight against Israel in Lebanon can not be equated with terror and it has complicated relations with the United States. Syria was opposed to the US-led invasion of Iraq in 2003 and has since come under growing US pressure. As the United States was unable to establish an effective government in Iraq, and the struggle against the Americans and their allies from the spring of 2004 intensified, the United States intensified its criticism of the regime in Damascus. First, the United States accused Syria of concealing the weapons of mass destruction not found in Iraq, and then of letting terrorists cross the border into Iraq from Syria. The pressure materialized in the UN Security CouncilResolution 1559 of September 2004, which ordered Syria to withdraw its troops from Lebanon. This happened in April 2005. The assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri in February 2005 was attributed to Syria, and with the support of the United States, a special UN commission was set up to dig the course. A report from October 2005 recommended that a new and more comprehensive UN inquiry be launched to get to the bottom of the matter. The report provided indirect evidence that the Syrian security service was connected to the attack. This is certainly rejected by the government of Damascus.

Uprising and civil war

Following the regime changes in Tunisia and Egypt, as well as the general popular unrest in the Arab world in the spring of 2011, there were violent riots in several places in Syria. At first there was a demand for political reforms, but when the government cracked down hard, they also began to demand a change of regime here. The protests were met with great brutality. The regime deployed tanks and used air bombardments, and the uprising escalated into an actual civil war; it is estimated that more than 200,000 have died by the end of 2014. Among other things. There have been fierce fighting in Aleppo and Damascus, as well as reports of several brutal massacres committed by government forces or militias affiliated with the regime. There have also been attacks with poison gas, most likely committed by the regime. The opposition groups have also committed bloody assaults. The opposition ranges widely, from pro-democracy and Kurdish to Islamist groups linked to al-Qaeda andISIS. Large parts of the country and several cities, including Raqqa, is under the control of the radical Islamists. The events have led to the isolation of Syria in the international community as well as to a particularly tense relationship with neighboring Turkey. In addition, the conflict has led to a colossal refugee problem, not least in Lebanon, which has received more than a million. refugees.

 

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