- Pathfinder

Reply To: Several leaders are mentioned in Lecture 2. Pick one of the leaders who impacted Syrian history and discuss how their leadership qualities, or lack thereof, influenced the course of Syrian history.

Erik Nilsen

While the other posters rightfully highlighted the enormous influence of the Assad family on the course of Syrian history, the Muslim Brotherhood and its leadership also contributed to Syrian history inasmuch as their ideological conflict with the Ba’ath party directly led to civil war.

In contrast to Hafez al-Assad and the socialist Ba’ath party, Hasan Al-Bana framed liberation from colonialism not within pan-Arabist idealism but as a religious duty. In his mind, political danger lay not so much in authorities conspiring with foreign capitalists as it did in them conspiring with non-Muslims. His successor, Said Qutb, expanded this message to include not only Arab leaders, but any society that neglected to rise up to defend Islam and declare jihad. As a nationalist ideology, pan-Arabism necessarily deprioritizes religious expansionism, or at least employs it only as much as it serves the nationalist cause. As a result, Qutb labelled those leaders and societies that, in his mind, deprioritized Islam as “unbelievers.” In reaction, the Assad regime cracked down on Islamism as an ideology potentially subversive to its agenda. This violence, in turn, fueled hatred and violent uprisings against the Assad regime.