|Sadeq Khanafer, Hussein Mallah
Few days, weeks, or even months…very soon the Syrian President Bashar al-Assad will be defeated. This is what the great leaders of the western and Arab powers predicted. However, the Syrian crisis has aged three years, yet the regime hasn’t fallen. Moreover, it was reported that some settlement is being simmered slowly, on the basis of dialogue between Damascus and the opposition, without the previous bets that were based on toppling President Assad.
To show the points of power and resistance with respect to Syria and its president facing the unprecedented universal attack for more than two years, we present in a seven-parts report entitled “Why Assad wasn’t, won’t be Defeated?” with numbers, facts, the most important means of confrontation used by the regime. In addition, we will show its powerful qualifications that made it able, till the moment, and “will help it” in the future to stay and survive.
Syria… for those who don’t know it..
In part one, we focus on defining Syria, its emergence, geographic and demographic formation, resources, political regime… reaching the recent events…
The State of Syria
Syria, its official name is the Syrian Arab Republic. Its capital is Damascus, its total area is 185.180 squared kilometers, its population is approximately 24 million people.
Borders and Geography
Syria is located to the west of Asia on the eastern shore of the Mediterranean in a region considered to be the intersection point between Asia, Europe, and Africa. It has common borders with Jordan to the south, Iraq to the east, Turkey to the north, Lebanon to the west, and its Golan Heights go along with the southwestern side of the occupied Palestine. In addition, Syria’s shore off the Mediterranean goes along the western side of the country.
Demography and Population
Its population hits 23,695,000 people, it occupies the 7th Arab level and the 54th international level with respect to its population. Most of the Syrian people are educated, the government offers free education for all levels. The age average when birth is 76 years, which sets Syria in the 8th Arab position with respect to the life index. Syrian people or those of Syrian origins abroad hit around 18 millions. Most of the population are Muslims divided on different sects, in addition to a high Christian population in Syria and abroad. The country is considered of great religious importance. It is a center for several Christian and Muslim sects. Most of the people in Syria are Arabs, they form 90% of the overall population, in addition to 8% of the Kurds, 2% of other ethnics including Armenians, Turkmen, and Charkas.
History and Civilization
Syria had witnessed several civilizations in the human history. The most ancient human monuments in Syria go back to a million years. Ancient civilizations settled in Syria, among them are the Sumerian, Assyrian, and Phoenician, Seleucian, Roman, Byzantine, Omayyad, Abbasid, Crusade, Ottomans and others.
Regime and Politics
The Syrian regime is a republican presidential regime, and the President is Bashar Assad. Syria is a founding member in the United Nations; it was elected twice in the UN Security Council. It is also a founding member in the League of Arab Nations, the Islamic Cooperation Organization, the UN Economic and Social Committee for Western Asia, the World Bank for Reconstruction and Development, the International Agency for Atomic Energy, the International Organization for Civil Aviation, Food and Agriculture Organization, Group 24, Group 77, the Non-Aligned Movement, organizations related to the Arab League such as the Arab Fund for Economic and Social Development, and the Great Free Arab Trade Zone, among others.
Unity is Necessary
Article 42 of the Syrian Constitution provides that saving national unity is the duty of every citizen. In fact, Syria didn’t witness, in its modern history, any clashes or conflicts based on religious or sectarian reasons unlike many other countries such as Egypt, Iraq and Lebanon. In addition, article 35 guarantees the freedom of performing all religious rituals and establishing houses of worship, the same article guarantees the right to freedom of religion for all citizens.
Islam and Christianity
Along the Islamic history, Syria was the platform where many important states and events had took place, especially the Omayyad and the Zengid dynasties. In the Middle Ages literature, Damascus was called “Sham Sherif”, for its importance and position. Moreover, the country includes many shrines and tombs of the pious men and the companions who were famous in history, some of them were from the household of Prophet Mohammad (PBUH).
Syria also is of great importance on the level of the Christian history, it is the center of many churches and patriarchates of which the most important is the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Antioch and all the East, the Syriac Orthodox Patriarchate, and the Melkite Catholic Patriarchate, among others. It also contains many eastern churches all over its lands. Syria had produced many saints, in addition to that many clergymen are Syrian. Furthermore, there are many Christian holy places in Syria, such as Saidnaya, Maloula, Sadad, Deir Sem’an, Sarjila, and tens of historic Christian villages that were centers for saints in the First Christian Age. Not to mention, Saint Maroun, the intercessor of the Maronite sect, is buried in Syria.
Economy and Resources
On the level of resources and investment in Syria, agriculture is considered a very important element in the national income, in addition to other sectors such as industry, trade and services, and tourism, whose development contributes to the richness in monuments and fortresses as well as the country’s moderate climate. There are also many underground resources such as oil, natural gas, and phosphate, noting that some of these resources could achieve self satisfaction.
Syria is considered among the countries that influence general policy in the Middle East. It is within what is known as the “axis of resistance”, and supports resistance movements in Palestine and Lebanon frankly and officially. As a result of this stance, its relationship with the United States is not good.
However, the Syrian relationship with Iran is very good, which is greatly reflected on the economic relations between the two countries. Relations are also good with Russia and China. Syria’s foreign policy sought recently building relationships with eastern European countries and Latin America to develop bilateral relations and improve economic exchange. It was mainly represented in the mutual visits and cooperation protocols signature on different levels.
The Army and Armed Forces
The Syrian army is the official regular apparatus to defend the country. According to the Constitution, the President is the High Leader of the army and the armed forces. Minister of Defense is his deputy and assigns the Commander-in-Chief. The Syrian army is the 16th worldwide regarding its size. It is the 2nd on the level of Arab armies after the Egyptian army.
The Syrian army participated in many wars against the Zionist entity such as 1948, 1967, 1973, and 1974 wars. It participated in thwarting the Israeli invasion to Lebanon in 1982.
The army’s armory is imported from the Soviet Union, then Russia, in addition to China and Iran. It includes Scud-S and Scud-D missiles capable of reaching Israel, in addition to American S-300 anti-aircraft missiles, Mig-31 fighters that could replace the American F-16 fighting falcons. The army also owns many tanks and different individual weapons.
Syria is considered a central-government country. The center of the government is Damascus, the capital. As for administrative divisions, the republic is divided into 14 governorates; each governorate is divided into several regions. “The Ministry of Local Administration” is in charge of organizing the relationship between the governorates and the government on the one hand, and the government and governorates on the other.
Syrian Governorates (click on the name to see more)
• Al-Hasakah Governorate
• Deir Ez-Zour Governorate
• Ar-Reqqah Governorate
• Aleppo Governorate
• Idlib Governorate
• Latakia Governorate
• Tartus Governorate
• Hama Governorate
• Homs Governorate
• Damascus Governorate
• Rif Dimashq Governorate
• As-Suwayda Governorate
• Daraa Governorate
• Quneitra Governorate
This display was necessary to show the truth of what is going on in Syria in the meantime, as well as the crisis that is threatening the geographic and population unity.
The conflict in Syria doesn’t only demand reform and democracy as reported by western and Arab media outlets, even though those demands are the right of every people, but in the Syrian case, the intention aimed at targeting the country by suggesting triggering subjects such as freedom, dignity, and reform, until reaching the demand to topple the regime.
When the crisis began in March two years ago, after the Daraa events, some considered it an opportunity to reckoning Damascus, while others consider the new Syria a starting point to restore some sorts of glory that had gone. Americans and Zionists aimed at weakening Syria within a local conflict that leads to ousting it from the regional equation, and involving it in a destructive war that makes busy all leadership, people and army after being for decades inside the anti-American projects in the region by supporting resistance movements in Lebanon, Palestine, and Iraq during the American occupation.
In the following parts we will present the very details of how Syria, the state, government, people, and army resisted and will continue resisting in the ongoing confrontation.
• Part 2: The State of Syria… Universal War and Resistance despite Pain
• Part 3: When the Army Resisted… and Challenged
• Part 4: Policy and Diplomacy… Sticking to the Constants
• Part 5: The Inside and Outside Opposition
• Part 6: Syria… The World Became Two Poles
• Part 7: The Solution in Syria?
To read the original article in Arabic, click here
Translated by: Zeinab Abdallah