I discussed the Syrian morass with Sam Sorbo referencing a long, extensively researched and referenced piece written for PJ Media in December, 2012—whose basic findings remain valid, reflecting unchanged dynamics over not only the past almost 4-years, but indeed since 1947, and perhaps centuries before that (for eg., the mainstream Islamic religious fanaticism of Hama).
As I told Sam, since 1947, when the vox populi Muslim Brotherhood [MB] was winning an actual election going away, precipitating a [pseudo-secular Baathist etc.] military coup to keep them out of power. The “choice” in Syria ever since has been between the massively popular Sunni MB, or related groups, vs. Baathists/ Assadists.
Moreover, it is unacceptable that Fox News “pundits” refuse to acknowledge that the Russian airstrikes have targeted not only ISIS, but Al-Qaeda-affiliate al-Nusra, and a hodgepodge of murderous JIHADIST groups operating in Syria, and opposed to the brutal, equally murderous Assad regime. Instead Fox News repeatedly refers to those non-ISIS JIHADIST groups as “rebels,” “U.S.-allied rebels,” or merely “U.S. allies.” These deceitful, Orwellian Fox News monikers—sans use of the word JIHADIST—are often juxtaposed to gratuitous, empty-headed critiques of Donald Trump’s commonsense argument [listen to the direct Trump quotes in the Sorbo interview] about not getting the U.S. involved in the Syrian morass.
Key extracts from my 2012 PJ Media, which reflect the unchanged Syrian dynamics:
A Wise, Prescient U.S. State Department Assessment of the Syrian Muslim Brotherhood — Circa December, 1947
Fortunately, during the era before cultural relativism hopelessly muddled the perceptions of U.S. diplomats, a confidential State Department analysis, filed December 19, 1947 (Despatch # 883, Subject: “The Moslem Brotherhood in Syria”; recently obtained by the author via a Freedom of Information Act request), captured in real time the ideology and commensurate activities of the Syrian Muslim Brotherhood, and its founder, Mustafa al-Sibai.
The December 1947 State Department report opens with these general, introductory observations:
The Brotherhood is an increasingly important organization in Syria and is of vital interest to the American observer because it plays a leading part in hammering anti-foreign sentiments into a population already basically suspicious of Western “Colonizers.” The organization cannot merely be called conservative; the recently overused word “reactionary” accurately applies. It demands for Moslems to return to the old customs and traditions of Islam. Although recognized by the Government as a non-political association, in practice it [the Brotherhood] illustrates its strong opposition to the separation of state and religion by actively participating in politics…The Ikhwan al-Muslimin [Muslim Brotherhood] is dedicated to reversing [the] secular trend and its success has not been negligible. The Brotherhood in Syria is a growing organization with an apparently assured future. The hysteria surrounding Palestine and the deep-seated popular dissatisfaction with the proposed United Nations settlement, supported by European and Western Powers, of that troublesome problem is exploitable by the Brotherhood. It has already been so exploited.
The section of the report entitled “History,” summarized the Syrian Brotherhood’s origins and concerns, particularly its anti-Westernism, anti-Communism, opposition to women’s rights, and obsessive emphasis on neighboring Palestine. Evidence for the movement’s popular appeal to the Syrian Muslim masses was also provided:
Representatives sent by Sheikh Hassan al-Banna from the already flourishing Egyptian branch of the Moslem Brotherhood arrived in Syria shortly after the French bombarded Damascus in May, 1945. They laid the groundwork for the Syrian society, reportedly gave it financing and promised support until the Syrian branch could get on its own feet…On June 22, 1946 the first issue Al-Manar (The Beacon), the Brotherhood’s press organ, appeared in Damascus under the editorship of Mustafa Sibai…From the start, Al- Manar has been extremely xenophobic, but certain changes in the pattern of its attack have been visible in the past 18 months. One of those is the gradual increase given to abuse of the United States. Vehemently anti-British from the beginning, the paper slowly devoted more attention to America. This was not unconnected with America’s Palestine policy.
The Communists also have received harsh treatment at the hands of Mustafa al-Sibai and his fellow writers [at Al-Manar]; never so harsh, however, as in the days following the [Palestine] partition vote of the United Nations when the Communists were castigated as “traitors, spies, and assassins.” Brotherhood hatred of the Communists, heartily reciprocated, has resulted in series of clashes between these left and right groups. In Homs and Damascus on more than one occasion there has been bloodshed. Beyond the mutual antagonism of any two rival extremist factions, Brotherhood antipathy was based on a firm anti-foreign stand reinforced by the belief that the Communists were representatives of the “irreligious” Soviet Union. Ikhwan members were an important if not the predominant part of a mob which on November 30, 1947, the day after the United Nations voted to partition Palestine, attacked Communist headquarters in Damascus. At least one student and one Communist Party member were killed in the resulting melee, numerous other persons were badly injured, and Communist headquarters was burned. Al-Manar claimed a victory…
The role of the Brotherhood in stirring the masses to concern over Palestine has been an important one, since no other group has so consistently emphasized the importance of the coming struggle. Following release of the UNSCOP [United Nations Special Committee on Palestine] Report, the Ikhwan organized political meetings to follow each week the important Friday morning prayer sessions at the principal mosques throughout Syria. These sessions were usually fight talks urging the faithful to lay down their lives and fortunes to defeat Zionism. The Brotherhood was probably the first organization in Syria to register volunteers for action in Palestine. It is believed that the Society actually gave some military training to its members at two camps, one near Haffe, in the Allouite [Alawite] Mountains and the other near Hama.
[T]the Brotherhood also stands against sin. Sin in fanatical Moslem eyes includes the exercise by women of freedoms taken for granted in other societies. For example, a public incident of early Brotherhood history in Syria was an attack by turbaned Brothers on the Roxy theater in Damascus. Sheikhs stoned the building, broke glass, and threatened the audience. Provocation for this outburst was the “ladies day” attendance promotion scheme of the theatre manager. The idea of unattended women viewing Clark Gable or even Mickey Mouse is apparently revolting to devout Moslems.
The strength of the Ikhwan al-Muslimin is difficult to estimate but there are perhaps 10,000 active members. Potentially every devout Moslem is a member, for no other political group in Syria has the same religious appeal. It is thought that many “true believers” holding Government jobs and so barred by law from political activity are sympathizers, if not secretly members…The showing of the Brotherhood in the July, 1947 parliamentary elections was impressive, especially in the free and relatively honest balloting of the first day. Many observers believe the Brotherhood list would have swept the field had not Minister of Defense Ahmad [al-]Sharabati and others taken “steps” to assure the election of National Party candidates in the run-off election.
[Modern] Syria’s Muslim Brotherhood “Hama Rulers”
A Carnegie Endowment biographical sketch of current Syrian Muslim Brotherhood deputy comptroller and SNC deputy chairman Mohammed Farouk Tayfour maintains that he is the Brotherhood’s “most influential organizational and political figure,” adding: “Tayfour is one of a triumvirate of Hama natives who now hold the reins of power within the Brotherhood.”
Hama (2011 census, 698,928), is Syria’s fourth-largest city after Aleppo, Damascus, and Homs. The provincial capital of the Hama Governorate, Hama is situated on the banks of the Orontes River in west-central Syria, (132 miles) north of Damascus.
Itzchak Weismann’s 1993 analysis of Hama [Hamah] native and Muslim Brotherhood ideologue Said Hawwa noted that there were four families — including the Tayfur [Tayfour] family –“whose rule in both the city and its villages was almost absolute.” Accordingly, “[n]inety-two out of 114 villages of the district belonged to them … [i.e.,]the members of the large families who would represent Hamah in the nationalist movement and parliament.” Five decades earlier, Robin Fedden’s Syria: An Historical Appreciation (London, 1947, pp.221-222) captured the combined effects of the “terrifying power” of zealous Islamic communalism, and class hierarchy — “faith and feudalism” — so evident during his mid-1940s visit to Hamah:
Islam colours its temper, and there can be few places outside the Holy Cities of Arabia where the Faith has remained so aggressive and fanatic. As in the eighteenth century, the Muslim is ipso facto the master and the Christian dog exists on sufferance. As for Jews, not one is allowed in the town. [emphases added] Faith prohibits the sale of alcoholic drinks in hotels and public places … All the women are veiled with the greatest strictness … Even the Syrian Christians adopt a protective mimicry, veiling their women and assuming a Muslim pose whenever they can, while the sisters of the Sacré Coeur are obliged to tuck their crucifixes out of sight when they go abroad. The mosques are always crowded at prayer time and the movement of the suks seems to overflow into them spontaneously. Faith intrudes even on merchandising … There are times when the intensity of the town’s belief seems to excuse all that it involves of intolerance and prejudice. The Great Mosque … is the focus of Hama’s life. It is built upon the site of an earlier Byzantine basilica [church]. The carved lintel and capitals of what was once presumably the west door of the church are particularly fine … That even such stone reminiscences should remain is recognizably fortuitous where the tide of Islam runs so strongly and so deep. These stones are merely debris, incorporated into a now Muslim wall, and its at Hama that the stranger understands better than elsewhere in the country what must have been the initial force which overspread half the Byzantine Empire and submerged all ancient Syria. The terrifying power of belief, and the absolute demands it makes upon passions and energies, good or bad, remain very evident in this lovely and aggressive pocket in the plains. It is the spirit of the Islamic past that moves in the narrow streets… In such a setting of faith and feudalism it is not surprising that the population should be notoriously farouche [sullen; recalcitrant], hostile not only to the European, but even to the neighbouring inhabitants of Homs, and indeed to all ideas and persons unfamiliar. Their mood is expressed in sudden violences and rash riots … Prior to 1932 disturbances closed the Hama suks twenty-one times in three years, and the same sporadic unpredictable outbreaks still occur. It is a place of fanatical certainties and uncertain passions which it is difficult for the western mind to comprehend.