Nationalism in Syria

In Syria, nationalism extends beyond the borders. Syria was formed under the Ottoman empire and was then under the French mandate. Under the colonialist rule, the geopolitical boundaries that separated Lebanon but retained the largest Christian populations into Syria were incredibly unpopular. Religion and the prior borders that were made before French colonization were the tools that were used by nationalist. The Syrian Social Nationalist Party (SSNP) wants to unite Syria under the original geographical borders; surprisingly, they aim to have assimilation from the countries that would be “absorbed” but also have a strong sense of anti-semitism.

The map of Syria under the Ottoman empire

The map of Syria under the Ottoman empire

Their 8 basic principles are as follows:

First Basic Principle: Syria is for the Syrians and the Syrians are a complete nation.

Second Basic Principle: The Syrian cause is an integral national cause completely distinct from any other cause.

Third Basic Principle: The Syrian cause is the cause of the Syrian nation and the Syrian homeland.

Fourth Basic Principle: The Syrian nation is the product of the ethnic unity of the Syrian people which developed throughout history.

Fifth Basic Principle: The Syrian homeland is that geographic environment in which the Syrian nation evolved. It has distinct natural boundaries and extends from the Taurus range in the northwest and the Zagros mountains in the northeast to the Suez canal and the Red Sea in the south and includes the Sinai peninsula and the gulf of Aqaba, and from the Syrian sea in the west, including the island of Cyprus, to the arch of the Arabian desert and the Persian gulf in the east. (This region is also known as the Syrian Fertile Crescent).

Sixth Basic Principle: The Syrian nation is one society.

Seventh Basic Principle: The Syrian Social Nationalist movement derives its inspiration from the talents of the Syrian nation and its cultural political national history.

Eighth Basic Principle: Syria's interest supersedes every other interest.

An analysis of these principles reflects a serious issue: it prioritizes their idea of Syrian unity over all other matters- including human lives or peace.  I saw Zakaria’s words apply most when he stated that nationalism surges in the presence of a mix of insecurity and assertiveness. When the people cannot accept changes to their system, and feel a sense of distrust in their government they strive for something that was ‘safe’. In this case that was the larger span of Syria without the geopolitical borders drawn by France.

Perhaps the most obvious example of inequality that comes with the Nationalist Syrian movement (in the case of the SSNP) is the antisemitism. As stated by Saadeh, the party’s founder:

“But there is one large settlement which can not in any respect be reconciled to the principle of Syrian nationalism, and that is the Jewish settlement. It is a dangerous settlement which can never be assimilated because it consists of a people that, although it has mixed with many other peoples, has remained a heterogeneous mixture, not a nation, with strange stagnant beliefs and aims of its own, essentially incompatible with Syrian rights and sovereignty ideals. It is the duty of the Syrian Social Nationalists to repulse the immigration of this people with all their might.”


Rally creating awareness of antisemitism in Syria (Ontario, Canada)

Rally creating awareness of antisemitism in Syria (Ontario, Canada)


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