Syria and the History that Has Always Been Banned
Syria and the History that Has Always Been Banned
These days, Syrians are celebrating their revolution’s tenth anniversary. They celebrate their revolt against what was thought to be a “forever” regime but also against something bigger than the regime.
The revolution started as a radical project that put many issues on the table, even the country’s flag, which the revolutionaries saw as an assault on their patriotism. The country’s name was put forward, as it seemed to many that the word “Arab” was biting into the word “Syrian” and imposed, on a significant group of the population, the Kurds, an ethnic identity different from their own.
Of course, the Syrians revolted against many things: a repressive apparatus that enslaved them at home and actively contributed to the region’s destruction, a shallow economy that produces nothing but inequality, poverty and unemployment, and an education that does not produce credible knowledge... In this sense, and in many others, the revolution seemed to be an attempt to radically rectify an extremely radical mistake.
The two radicalisms together, from two different positions, explain the immense cost that has been and is being paid by the Syrian people.
Nevertheless, the narrative promoted by a large segment of the symbols of Arab political culture holds that the Syrian skies had been completely clear until the cloud of conspiracy hovered over “Assad’s Syria.” It is an Arab-Western conspiracy in which many Syrian agents were implicated, and we know what happened next.
Political life had not been disrupted since 1963. The Hama massacre did not take place in 1982. Hafez al-Assad did not rule for 30 consecutive years before his son inherited power, the people and the country. Syria was not brimming with prison cells that made it one of the world’s most oppressive countries. Syrians who had been forced out by their economy did not migrate to work and live in dire conditions abroad. The perpetuity of the regime did not grant unprecedented primacy to kinship ties and sectarianism. Assad’s army and intelligence apparatus were not expelled from Lebanon through a mass movement celebrating its 16th anniversary today. Syrians did not live, for a long time, in isolation from the world, deprived of contributing to its scientific and technological achievements ...
This overflowing interior did not exist. Only the conspiracy of the outside exists. Moreover, in response to the conspiracy, a patriotic peaceful regime that has nothing but love for its people was obliged to displace a quarter of them outside the country and another quarter outside their homes and to call on military support from every nook and cranny, using barrel bombs, chemical weapons and whatever tools for killing and genocide it could put its hands on.
The previously mentioned narrative speaks to, yet again, why we do not have a history and why we will not have a history until that narrative is buried. According to it, there is always a damned plague-like event that attacks us every now and then, while we are working on doing good under a leadership that does only good.
This story, though its terrifying Syrian chapter’s forms of carnage went beyond anything we are familiar with, is not new in any sense. Conspiracy always attacks us with no introductions and for no reason, stealing our land, stirring up civil wars or embroiling us in ugly developments. It is doing this in Lebanon, Iraq, Palestine and wherever its hand can reach, and its arm is long.
The first thing this theory leaves out is the interior itself. It paints us out to be peoples without an interior: we have no political, economic or cultural history. There is only an unwavering exterior lurking.
The interior-denying hypothesis may be the result of a mutilated consciousness or the consequence of particular interests and benefits, and it is often the result of both. However, in any case, it carries remarkable indications: on the one hand, it is ashamed of its actions or the actions of the ruling party that it defends or speaks on behalf of. On the other hand, it declares its contempt for itself: according to it, we are like clay shaped and manipulated by a conspiring exterior. Only then comes our turn to act, to resist the conspiracy. We put down the conspiracy for a period, after which the exterior gathers strength and goes back to its plotting, so we go back to resisting, and this will go on until God decides otherwise.
In all cases, this theory cannot create a history or write one, save a few myths and legends that tell of a glorious military history. Actual history is written abroad, in its universities and research centers, and it is a task carried out by foreign journalists and specialists and refugees from our countries whom the righteous regime had deported. The proponents of that theory respond: this is Orientalism, and this damned Orientalism culminates the conspiracy through other means.
In truth, the only culmination is that of this hypothesis: killing Syrians with “ideas” after having killed them with bullets.