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George Ajjan’s blog on Syrian politics, syriapol: A Syrian Democracy Project, is a great resource for commentary and news about the country. He also has a very interesting post that reproduces an article of his on Syrian identity and history. The following exchange seems crucial for grasping how Syrians (broadly speaking) understand their identity:
Sometimes Lebanese, Jordanian, or Palestinian friends will ask me what my origin is:
“Halabi,” I proudly reply.
They respond with a confused look. “Souri, yaeni…”
“I don’t understand, why don’t you just say that you are Syrian?”
“Why don’t you?”
Understanding this view seems to me to be a basic prerequisite for understanding the politics within and relationship between the Syrian Republic and Lebanon in particular.
P.S. Halab is Aleppo, for those who might not be familiar with the Arabic name.
[T]he cheapest date in Washington for sleazy foreign agents posing as US citizens… ~George Ajjan on Liz Cheney
George has a great post on the leader of a “Syrian” opposition group, Farid Ghadry. The great tradition of Likudniks and neocons collaborating with Near Eastern con-men continues unbroken, and I think we can expect that tradition to continue for some time to come.
Listening to the performances of traditional muwashshah songs by Zein al-Jundi and reading a bit about the genre, it has been a pleasant, not entirely surprising, discovery that three of the principal instruments in muwashshah ensembles are the oud, qanun and kamancha, which are also central to traditional Armenian music. This makes perfect sense, when you consider the proximity of Syria and Armenia and the longstanding patterns of exchange between the two lands, but it nonetheless seemed like something worth noting.
There’s no telling what you will discover in the world of foreign blogs. For instance, here is a striking post from a Syrian blog (via a link at George Ajjan’s blog) that revealed to me the existence of the Arabian oryx, a creature that I normally associate only with Africa and one that I honestly didn’t know existed.
What else do you not know about Syria?