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The History of Modern Syria in the 20th Century

Updated on August 14, 2012

The current gradual disintegration of Syria's Assad regime mirrors its modern history, a cascading series of discontent.

The current Baath socialist regime in power only began in 1971, when Assad's father was elected in a corrupt election and ruled with a Soviet-style iron fist, which led to forced stability. The bloodless coup began in 1970 with the Baath party (Alawite tribe) seizing power. However, since WW1, Syria has been either under British or French control until 1946, when Syria finally was independent. During WW1, Syria was occupied by Turkey and was ousted when British forces arrived and pushed them out in 1918. In 1920, the French arrived to take over from the British and were met by a young Arab Syrian Army that quickly was defeated in the Battle of Maysaloon. From that point on, the Arabs tried various uprisings against the French, all failed, and in WW2, the French forces there were allied with Hitler's Germany. Also in Syria were Free French soldiers allied with Allied nations.

In the 1920's, the scene of today's fighting, Aleppo, was a source of contention also. The city and area was close to the Turkish border. Turkish forces then were planning to make it part of Turkey, yet, it was the French that prevented it forcing the Turks to cut a deal that put Aleppo part of Syria. Still, the political groups controlling Aleppo and those in Damascus were aligned very differently. Aleppo was pro-Turkish and had a different foreign policy than the Arab's in Damascus. The faction in Aleppo aligned themselves with Turkey and Iraq, while those Damascus, with Egypt. From 1958 to 70, Syria was a state in turmoil. From 1946-54, there had been four coups' that created new governments.The current Baath party became a force to reckon with in 1963 and gradually seized more and more of government.

The Baath party is mostly from a minority Alawite sect from the Latakia area, which as a rule, hate Muslims. They do not trust them, yet, because of Sunnis, the Alawites bought into the Arab hatred of Israel after its creation joining other Arab countries in attacking it.

The current battle for Aleppo may go the rebels way, leaving only Damascus. Syria seems to headed for some sort of division once again and only more turmoil for the 21st Century.


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    • perrya profile imageAUTHOR


      6 years ago

      yes, and did the Brits. Not sure what ur getting at...

    • Nick Hanlon profile image

      Nick Hanlon 

      6 years ago from Chiang Mai

      Australia invaded Syria twice.1918 and 1941.A former governor of N.S.W.,Sir Roden Cutler had his leg blown off there.That's trivia to you and me but not to him!!!

    • perrya profile imageAUTHOR


      6 years ago

      Thanks. syria's history is quite recent.

    • one2get2no profile image

      Philip Cooper 

      6 years ago from Olney

      Very interesting hub. Thanks you.


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