- Pathfinder

Reply To: How, if at all, did this course shape or change your perception of the ongoing Syrian Civil War?

Dominique Hoffman

My concept of the Syrian war is largely limited and associated with geo-political headlines like the Syrian refugee crisis and the Arab Spring, and that was about it. I learned that Syria has a rich history rooted in pluralism during the early Ottoman Empire, but like many nations in the region, the Great War greatly influenced nationalism and conflict. I learned that Russia and the al Assad regime is backed by Russia as well as Iran and other powerful Shia militias, which I found interesting considering Assad’s crackdown on Islamism and Communism. I found it interestings that Assad’s systematic overhaul of high ranking positions included promoting Christians. I am passionate about understanding Cold War bipolarity, and found it interesting Russia aligned with Syria and other weak nations for swing votes in the UN. I also found it interesting that the United States during this time was an important influence in MENA nations at the local and community levels. I also am interested, without having much knowledge on, the role of national Islamist movements that were created in the powervaccum of the Ottoman Empire’s deconstruction all the way through the period of global decolonization. The transition to nation-state status in the Middle East post-colonial rule created a power vacuum across the region, Syria was not excluded from being affected by this period of radicalization. Yet, despite this period– Syria’s ethnically diverse history and Christian communities reamined. Part of this decolonization resulted in the Russo-Turkish Wars and the Balkan Wars, when stripped of European territories the Ottomans attacked the Armenians. Until this course, I did not realize surviving Christians of the genocide moved and resettled in Syria. I was likewise surprised that Syria remains diverse and at the crossroads of flourishing faiths, and despite the civil war has become a safe haven for Christians fleeing atrocities.