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Analysis of the use of sources in scholarly works to manipulate perceptions of presidential legitimacy in Syria

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Title:
Analysis of the use of sources in scholarly works to manipulate perceptions of presidential legitimacy in Syria
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Vaughan, Justin Edward
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Denver, CO
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University of Colorado Denver
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English

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Master's ( Master of arts)
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University of Colorado Denver
Degree Divisions:
Department of History, CU Denver
Degree Disciplines:
History
Committee Chair:
Stahl, Dale J.
Committee Members:
Crewe, Ryan D.
Finkelstein, Gabriel

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Abstract:
The historiography of Syria has a peculiar divide in regards to the Asad regime. The absence, inadequacy, or unavailability of verifiable primary sources has allowed for widely disparate scholarly interpretations of late-twentieth century Syrian events. The motives of major historical actors, the beliefs of various factions, and the outcomes of their actions are therefore analyzed through the prism of political projection and ideological interpretation. Freely formed conjecture, if consonant with the presuppositions of the academic consumers of scholarly works, is easily accepted as factual representations of Syrian history. In such a speculative environment, honest scholarship would redouble its efforts to acknowledge biased research and interpretations. Instead, studies of the Asad regime have promulgated incompatible versions of history, each revealing the ideological predilections of the specialists producing them, whose scholarship is venerated, even revered, but consequently unchecked and unsubstantiated. Asseverations to the validity of agenda-propelled interpretations—so long as they remain within the accepted bounds of academic precepts and convention—are acknowledged, but rarely tested against the product. This essay will show how several of the most highly esteemed scholars of modern Syrian history, spanning the spectrum of political ideologies, have each failed to promote historical truth. Rather, they have sacrificed their scholarly integrity on the altar of a transient political agenda.

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Full Text
ANALYSIS OF THE USE OF SOURCES
IN SCHOLARLY WORKS TO MANIPULATE PERCEPTIONS OF PRESIDENTIAL LEGITIMACY IN SYRIA
By
JUSTIN EDWARD VAUGHAN B.A., Colorado State University, 2008
A thesis submitted to the Faculty of the Graduate School of the University of Colorado in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Arts History Program
2019


©2019
JUSTIN EDWARD VAUGHAN
ALL RIGHTS RESERVED


This thesis for the Master of Arts degree by Justin Edward Vaughan has been approved for the History Program by
Dale J. Stahl, Chair Ryan D. Crewe Gabriel Finkelstein
Date: August 3, 2019


Vaughan, Justin Edward (MA, History)
The Significance of Alawi Sectarianism and Islamic Heterodoxy in Competing Interpretations of Modern Syrian History Thesis directed by Assistant Professor Dale J. Stahl
ABSTRACT
The historiography of Syria has a peculiar divide in regards to the Asad regime. The absence, inadequacy, or unavailability of verifiable primary sources has allowed for widely disparate scholarly interpretations of late-twentieth century Syrian events. The motives of major historical actors, the beliefs of various factions, and the outcomes of their actions are therefore analyzed through the prism of political projection and ideological interpretation. Freely formed conjecture, if consonant with the presuppositions of the academic consumers of scholarly works, is easily accepted as factual representations of Syrian history. In such a speculative environment, honest scholarship would redouble its efforts to acknowledge biased research and interpretations. Instead, studies of the Asad regime have promulgated incompatible versions of history, each revealing the ideological predilections of the specialists producing them, whose scholarship is venerated, even revered, but consequently unchecked and unsubstantiated. Asseverations to the validity of agenda-propelled interpretations—so long as they remain within the accepted bounds of academic precepts and convention—are acknowledged, but rarely tested against the product. This essay will show how several of the most highly es-
IV


teemed scholars of modern Syrian history, spanning the spectrum of political ideologies, have each failed to promote historical truth. Rather, they have sacrificed their scholarly integrity on the altar of a transient political agenda.
The form and content of this abstract are approved. I recommend its publication.
Approved: Dale J. Stahl
v


Alii,
nothing I have done would have been worth doing
without you.


TABLE OF CONTENTS
CHAPTER
I. INTRODUCTION 1
The Concern with Sources 4
II. SECTARIANISM AND THE BA'TH PARTY 6
The Emergence of Alawi Political Representation 6
The Military Committee 13
The Presidency 17
The Palestinians 22
III. THE LEGITIMACY OF THE ASAD REGIME 25
The Alawi Offense 25
The Partisans of Asad 33
IV. CONCLUSION 39
BIBLIOGRAPHY 44
Vll


CHAPTER I
INTRODUCTION
When delving into sectarianism and its role in the historical developments of modern Syria—particularly in the context of Hafiz al-Asad's attainment of the presidency half a century ago—historians must contend with a number of difficult, multi-faceted questions. Three related question sets will be analyzed in this essay:1
1. Contrary to the Ba'th party's professed secularism, to what degree was the Alawi consolidation of power in the Syrian military, and eventually the government as a whole, a sectarian process? How was sectarianism distributed across the various sects vying for dominance?
2. Are the Alawis, in fact, Muslims? Is the answer subjective or one that may be objectively known? Who decides?
3. Was Hafiz al-Asad a sectarian, or a product thereof? As an Alawi, was his presidency legitimate? Were his concerted efforts to challenge Israeli power, and corresponding support for the Palestinians, sincere?
What one might call the scholarly disposition assumes a detached neutrality toward these questions, attempting to craft a sensible narrative from the known facts and speculating with full transparency as to the most logical possibilities when verifiable truths prove elusive. An advocatory approach—as in, one that promotes an interpretation of
1 Many of the books and articles featured in the following pages claim to have answered some of these questions. This essay does not aspire to adjudicate which of the proposed answers are correct.
1


history to convince readers of the correct side in a (typically, but not always, political) debate—engages with the narrative openly and earnestly and speculative leaps favor its posited interpretation. Either approach may equally facilitate impeccable standards of scholarship. Historians who advocate for a particular position, for instance, may do so because their research is so thoroughly complete and honestly presented that no other interpretation is reasonably valid. Speculation is logical, reasonably likely, and engender a largely coherent narrative, whereas competing narratives invariably fall short. Conversely, a truly neutral scholar may fail to maintain similar standards and produce an inferior, even objectively false history.
Regarding question set two, I have found many historians deem it sufficient to assert that the Alawis are "a heterodox Shi'a sect," and that's that. These scholars may be incurious, content with the prevailing opinion of other scholarship, wary of entering an unsettled religious debate, find such questions irrelevant to their subject, all of the above, or none of the above. All that must be known is that a minority ethno-religious group dominates Syrian politics, and this has served to complicate things. The groundwork having thus been laid for fruitful discussion of Syria's current state of affairs (shaped as it was by often factious relations between Alawis and other religious and ethnic groups), the majority of historians, it seems, consider dwelling on the esoteric intricacies of Alawi religious identity to be unnecessary, tedious, even offensive.
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On the other hand, some scholars predicate their theses upon the recognition of reni-tent attitudes toward the Alawis, who have maintained exclusive minority rule since 1966. The periodic (though by no means predictable) cycles of violence in Syria, these scholars argue, are to some degree a function of Sunni resistance—or acquiescence, as the case may be—to Alawi assertions of good and proper adherence to Islam. Any categorical denial of Alawi Muslimhood serves to undermine the legitimacy of Hafiz al-Asad's dynastic hegemony, whereas acceptance of the Alawis as cogitable Muslims confirms the constitutionality of Hafiz al-Asad's occupancy of the office of the Syrian president.
All three question sets are subject to vastly differing interpretations in lieu of independent and verifiable sources. Therefore, those attempting a scholarly approach are challenged with writing a history not composed almost entirely of declared speculation, caveats, and tedious attribution of every unsure source, to the point that the work is unreadable, even meaningless.
Moreover, political interests are rarely insignificant to anyone researching the modern Middle East. Late Syrian history does not generally attract the attention of disinterested parties only seeking to know the truth of Hafiz al-Asad's rise to power and establishment of a dynastic regime, and nothing more. It is inescapable: political involvement and activism are married to the history of Syria since Asad's consummation of political authority.
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The Concern with Sources
Trustworthy sources concerning events in Syria during the 1960s, when the Ba'th Party and, subsequently, the Alawi sect came to power, are difficult to come by. Perhaps even more scarce are reliable sources that reveal the truth of Syrian history under Asad during the 1970s and 1980s. Authoritative examinations of the previous decades, however, are prevalent. They include the likes of Albert Hourani, Stephen Longrigg, and Patrick Seale, whose book The Struggle for Syria, first published in 1965, is a frequently cited and a vital contribution to the common understanding of post-War Syria up to its brief union with Egypt in 1958. "It is not easy," Hourani writes in the foreword to the 1986 reprint, "to write the political history of a period for which the archives of governments are not yet open, and of one so near to us in time, and so full of dramatic and disputed events, that it is difficult to step back and look at it with detachment."2 A doctor of literature, Seale was a journalist by trade. Remembered by The Guardian as "the English-speaking world's foremost chronicler and interpreter of Syria, its troubled modern history and its leadership" after his death in 2014,3 Seale, more competently and far more abundantly than many other historians, incorporated into his work personal interviews with the primary players of the very histories about which he wrote. Despite the inherent unreliability of the information gleaned using such methodology, The
2 Patrick Seale, The Struggle for Syria: A Study of Post-War Arab Politics 1945-1958 (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1987), xi.
3 Tim Llewellyn, "Patrick Seale Obituary," The Guardian, April 13, 2014, accessed fuly 15, 2019, https: / / www.theguardian.com /media /2014 / apr /13 /patrick-seale


Struggle for Syria and, more pertinent to this essay, Seale's 1988 biography of the sitting Syrian president, Asad of Syria: the Struggle for the Middle East, are invaluable to historians seeking information about crucial historical events known only by a select few active participants in their own political history of the Middle East.
However, an interview with Asad is not a reliable source, no matter how respected the interviewer, or what university press is found on the book's copyright page. This essay explores the reliance of later scholarship on Seale's unique access to various historical figures for the construction of ostensibly factual narratives of Asad's Syria. Beyond that, Seale's own partisan representations are accepted as authoritative, insofar as citing his work is sufficient to pass peer review. Historians of post-independence Syria often cite a certain few authors with high frequency. They present the information found in these few books as factual, but close examination of these secondary sources reveal an alarming amount of unverifiable information. The result is a body of assumed knowledge that is easily manipulated and adulterated to perform a desired political function, for which Syria is uniquely suited to serve as proxy.
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CHAPTER II
Sectarianism and the Ba'ath Party
The Emergence ofAlawi Political Representation
Nikolaos Van Dam, in his oft-cited The Struggle for Power in Syria, has this to say about Asad's rise to power in Syria: "Contrary to what might be concluded from all this sectarian propaganda, the most dangerous opposition to Hafiz al-Asad's regime was exercised primarily by officers who belonged to the Alawi community and only secondarily by others."4 This conclusion is essentially universal among scholars of modern Syrian political history. Not unanimous is the degree of sectarianism that enabled Asad's ascension through the military ranks and ultimate attainment of status as the world's only minority leader of a Muslim-majority country.5 The divide in scholarly opinion begins with the Ba'th Party.
The highly visible Marxist streak running through historical inquiry insists on the universal application of its explicative utility, and the success of the Ba'th party is well served in this regard. International affairs specialist Michael H. Van Dusen argues that pleas to tribal and sectarian motivations as the drivers of modern Syrian history were inadequate, but not entirely useless: "The current importance attached by some to religion does not imply that it was always strong, only that it was always a latent factor in
4 Nikolaos Van Dam, The Struggle for Power in Syria: Sectarianism, Regionalism and Tribalism in Politics, 1961-1978 (London: Croom Helm Ltd, 1979), 93.
5 Yvette Talhamy, "The Fatwas and the Nusayri/Alawis of Syria," Middle Eastern Studies 46, no. 2 (March 2010): 175, accessed May 18, 2019, https: / /www.jstor.org/stable/20720657.
6


the political equation."6 Rather, the Alawis were relatively indifferent to religious or tribal loyalties until imposed upon them by the circumstances of Ba'th rule in the 1960s. Prior to that, class identity was far more compelling a message by local and regional political candidates. This produced a situation in which the success or failure of political parties was dependent upon decentralized appeal.7 Van Dam fully concurs with this formulation, concluding that "most Syrian political parties thus reflected regional interests and, irrespective of their political ideologies, were able to expand in specific areas or among sections of the population while remaining negligible to others."8 In the regions of Syria heavy with minority populations, the socialist message, though appealing, wasn't what made the Ba'th ultimately triumphant, according to Van Dam, Van Dusen, and others.9 Secularism was the winning message.
Other Arab nationalist movements dominant in less heterogeneous populations, such as the Muslim Brotherhood, often had a marked Sunni quiddity that minority
6 Michael H. Van Dusen, "Political Integration and Regionalism in Syria," Middle East Journal 26 no. 2 (Spring 1972): 134, accessed June 6, 2019, https: / /www.jstor.org/stable/4324906.
7 The exception, according to Van Dusen, was in regions which had less regional loyalty, particularly Sunni-dominant urban centers. Ideological considerations predominated in those areas among the more zealous participants in political activism. In Hama, for instance, "the strong Sunni elements in the city found expression in the Ihkwan al Muslimin (the Muslim Brotherhood)..who provided personnel to fight against Israel in 1948. Muslim Brotherhood political candidates did well in subsequent decades, eventually mounting a populist challenge to Alawi rule before suffering utter defeat in 1982. Van Dusen, "Political Integration," 132n25.
8 Van Dam, Struggle for Power, 20.
9 Alasdair Drysdale, Syria and the Middle East Peace Process (New York: Council on Foreign Relations Press, 1991), 18; Mahmud A. Faksh, "The Alawi Community of Syria: A New Dominant Political Force," Middle Eastern Journal 20 no. 2 (April 1984): 140-1, accessed May 18,2019, https://www.jstor.org/stable/4282993. Van Dam, Struggle for Power, 32; J. C. Hurewitz, Middle East Politics: The Military Dimension (New York: Frederick A. Praeger, Publishers, 1969), 155.
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Arabs such as the Alawi, Druze, Maronites, Catholic and Orthodox Christians, found
repellent. Formed in 1947, "Ba'th ideology had a quite different basis," Van Dam writes. "The Ba'th wanted a united secular Arab society with a socialist system, i.e.; a society in which all Arabs would be equal, irrespective of religion."10 Socialism was attractive to the second-class denizens of the Levant who, historically, suffered higher levels of poverty and economic subjugation. But the prevailing sentiment in Syria at the time was this: The subordinate status of minorities was resultant from the Sunnis' long suppression of their natural rights. Though socialism might alleviate the symptoms of minority oppression, secularism was the cure for the disease. And the Alawis, being the most ill, so to speak, found the Ba'th message especially appealing. They joined the party en masse and voted for their candidates with fervor. It being one of the few avenues of upward mobility available to them, Alawis also joined the military in disproportionate numbers.11
The common explanation for this unanticipated outcome of minorities dominating the military is the overconfidence of Sunni elites: So long as they held the highest positions of authority, overrepresentation of minorities in the middle ranks of the officer corps, and in even greater numbers among the enlisted, wasn't of any concern.12 How-
10 Van Dam, Struggle for Power, 32.
11 Alasdair Drysdale and Gerald Blake, The Middle East and North Africa: A Political Geography (New York: Oxford University Press, 1985), 159.
12
8


ever, the frequent coups d'etat in the fourteen years before the Ba'th party emerged victorious in 1963 reduced Sunni representation in the upper echelons of power and minorities. Alawis in particular were able to fill the vacuum.13
This emphasis on class and regionalism as a major, if not preeminent, factor in the Alawi ascent to political dominance has its detractors. In an article written in 1981 exploring this specific question, Hanna Batatu argues that, ultimately, "the ruling element consists at its core of a close kinship group which draws strength simultaneously, but in decreasing intensity, from a tribe, a sect-class, and an ecologic-cultural division of the people."14 Early in the article, he moderates his claim:
To assert that Asad depends for his power upon his tribe or his co-religionists is not to assert that Asad is necessarily tribal or sectarian in his outlook or motives or in his economic or political line of conduct. While some of Asad’s policies... have been at least partly affected by his ’Alawi background, broader considerations have been at the basis of other actions taken by his regime.15
This caveat forestalls any suggestion that Batatu is accusing Asad of purely sectarian motivations. But he he is clear in his assertion that tribal and sectarian affiliations were "far more significant" to the power structures of the regime when compared to other
13 Elie Kedourie, Politics in the Middle East (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1992), 313. Hanna Batatu, Syria's Peasantry, the Descendants of Its Lesser Rural Notables, and Their Politics (New Jersey: Princeton University Press, 1999), 157-60; Daniel Pipes, Greater Syria: The History of an Ambition, (New York: Oxford University Press, 1990), 169.
14 Hanna Batatu, "Some Observations on the Social Roots of Syria's Ruling, Military Group and the Causes for its Dominance," Middle Eastern Journal 35 no. 3 (Summer 1981): 331, accessed May 26, 2019, https: / / www.jstor.org / stable /4326249.
15 Batatu, "Some Observations," 333.
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explanations for the Alawi dominance of Syria, including the common military backgrounds of Asad and his installed ministers and authorities.16
It was uncommon for Alawis at the military academy to hail from impoverished families. Alawis could rarely afford to send a son away from the desperate familial struggle to survive. Van Dusen notes that Asad "was one of the few really poor Alawis" to gain admittance into the school. His wealthier (relatively speaking) Alawi kinsmen were naturally sympathetic to their brethren.17 Consistent with his Marxist methodology Van Dusen describes the long history of class separation and exploitation of poor minorities by wealthy Sunnis. This created within the minorities of the Levant a deep resentment—especially among the Alawis, whom the regionally dominant Sunni Muslims had treated most egregiously since the sect's founding—but also a strong communal solidarity between and among the various ethnic and confessional groups.18
Daniel Pipes has a slightly different version of events. His book Greater Syria: the History of an Ambition is influential in its own right, often cited by those seeking to undermine the Asad regime's legitimacy. In this book he reasons that Asad's father and grandfather were wealthy by their community standards. "In later years," Pipes writes, "Asad cultivated a story of poverty, recounting to visitors, for example, about having to drop out of school until his father found the sixteen Syrian pounds to pay for his tu-
16Batatu, "Some Observations," 331.
17 Van Dusen, "Political Integration," 132n35.
18 Van Dusen, "Political Integration," 132.
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ition."19 Alasdair Drysdale supports this version of Asad's upbringing, affirming that although most members of the Regional Command had rural or provincial backgrounds, all but one (and not Asad) attended secondary school—an indication of relatively elite social and familial origins.20
So which version of events is true? They can't both be. Either he was "very poor," as were the vast majority of Alawis, or he was born into a "relatively elite" family of some means. Seale, having interviewed the Syrian president numerous times, would be best positioned to convey Asad's childhood memories. In Asad of Syria, Seale divulges that Asad's grandfather had earned respect and influence in the northern Levantine town of Qurdaha, and by the time Asad was born, his father had the status of a minor notable.21 He makes no mention of Asad dropping out of school for want of money. However, Seale's endnotes reveal that his story came from interviews with Qurdaha municipal records, village elders, and Asad's cousin, Jabir al-Asad.22 If Asad had fabricated an alternate personal history, Seale opted not to share it.
Where did Pipes get the notion that Asad exaggerated his early impoverishment? The anecdote he uses as evidence was recounted by one Ahmad Sulayman al-Ahmad,
19 Pipes, Greater Syria, 172.
20 Alasdair Drysdale, "The Syrian Political Elite, 1966-1976: A Spatial and Social Analysis," Middle Eastern Studies 17 no. 1 Qanuary 1981): 17, accessed tune 1, 2019, https://www.jstor.org/stable/4282814.
21 Patrick Seale, Asad of Syria: The Struggle for the Middle East (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1988), 6.
22 Seale, Asad, 496.
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in Al-Watan al-'Arabi on August 5, 1988.23 With Pipes providing little else to go on, I looked to Batatu and found his meticulous scholarship more thorough and accommodating. Ahmad is listed in the index of Batatu's 1999 study Syria's Peasantry, the Descendants of Its Lesser Rural Notables, and Their Politics. When referenced by name in the text, the accompanying citation refers to the same source referenced by Pipes, Al-Watan al-'Arabi. I then located Batatu's rendition of Asad's childhood elsewhere in the book.
He expands upon the same anecdote alluded to by Pipes:
On one occasion, in the presence of eighteen men of learning, Asad, as president, recounted how he had at one point to leave school temporarily until his father could scrape together the sixteen Syrian pounds needed for his tuition. "But," he added, "we were not commoners. On the contrary my father was a half Agha [an Ottoman honorific for civilian or military officer]."24
Perhaps this conversation occurred exactly as described. But it was "the prominent Alawi dissident Dr. Ahmad Sulayman al-Ahmad"25 whom Batatu is quoting here, from a text provided by the author of the Watan al-'Arabi article five months prior to its published date which appears not to have made it into the final version. It is not a quote from Asad himself 26 He may or may not have "added" anything to a conversation that may or may not have taken place. Unlike Pipes, however, and to his credit, Batatu does not take this anecdotal report as indicative of Asad having reimagined his childhood for
23 Pipes, Greater Syria, 228nl01.
24 Batatu, Syria's Peasantry, 194.
25 Batatu, Syria's Peasantry, 229.
26 Batatu, Syria's Peasantry, 377nl4.
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the benefit of his public image. And yet, innocuous though it may be, attributing a person with words that another claims he said raises a red flag, especially when the claimant is a known antagonist of the quoted, and no mention is made of that fact in the text. This will, unfortunately, come up again.
The Military Committee
Pipes's categorization of non-neutral scholars and analysts according to their interpretations of the secret Military Committee's origins recommends itself as a model of false dichotomies. He claims that "those unsympathetic to the Asad regime" (Annie Laurent and Math Moosa named among them) saw the Committee as a minority sectarian group committed to usurping control of the country from inception.27 28 Batatu implies a conscious and concerted effort to do just that: "By dint of their control of the Ba’th Military Section, [the Alawis] were able to regulate the admission into the military academies and to shuffle and reshuffle the commands of military units in manners answering to their purposes." They also "concentrated on" strategic placement of Alawis in command positions that put them in charge of units integral to enacting, or defeating, coups de etat.2S
Scholars who, in Pipes's estimation, "are better disposed toward Asad," reject such theories of sectarian conspiracism. They argue instead that the Alawi dominance of the
27 Pipes, Greater Syria, 174.
28 Batatu, "Some Observations," 343.
13


Syrian military was a product of circumstance. After quoting John F. Devlin and Alas-dair Drysdale to support this perspective,29 Pipes posits an interpretation that purportedly splits the difference and arrives somewhere closer to a more truthful appraisal. He refutes the notion that it was a conspiracy—but neither does he endorse the view that it was an accident of history.30 His proposed intermediate position, however, does not significantly deviate from the latter, "pro-Asad" interpretation he describes, so far as I can tell. I warrant this is because none of the ostensibly pro-Asad sources I have read—including Devlin and Drysdale—make any argument resembling the one to which Pipes attaches their name. I will return to Devlin in chapter three, but the Drysdale article states that "clearly the cluster of elite members from al-Ladhiqiya cannot be dismissed as coincidental."31 In fact, one of his strongest observations is that the core of the disproportionate representation of Alawis in positions of power lies at a the intersection of two demographics: those who came from the Latakia region, irrespective of religion; and all Alawis regardless of regional origin. Drysdale is unambiguous: "There is no question that Alawis, in conjunction with Druzes and Ismai'ilis, manipulated ethnic ties in the officer corps in the early 1960s in order to gain a strategic advantage."32 This is hardly representative of a viewpoint that "discounts]... the sectarian factor more gen-
29 Seale's absence here is conspicuous and will be addressed later in this essay.
30 Pipes, Greater Syria, 174.
31 Drysdale, Syrian Political Elite, 12.
32 Drysdale, Syrian Political Elite, 14,15.
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erally" and resolves Alawi control of the Syrian military to be mostly a product of cir-
cumstance.
Among the pro-Asad partisans, there is less resistance to accusations of sectarianism than Pipes suggests one should find. Van Dam allows for the existence of "sectarian polarization" in the officers corps, insisting it "was based not so much on sectarian unanimity among military men from the same religious community as on common opposition and sectarian distrust."33 As stated at the beginning of this chapter, Van Dusen deemphasizes the role of sectarianism in the early years of the Ba'th Party but acknowledges it as a "latent factor in the political equation" which came into its own "under the political circumstances of the 1960s and the rule of the Ba'th."34 Seale argues that the Military Committee initially did not contemplate an overthrow of the government but only sought to "rebuild their shattered party, protect the union, and overturn the old order in Syria, ensuring thereby their own continued ascent and that of their minority sects. "35 The difference may be measured on a sliding scale, but even the most unabashedly pro-Asad author does not presume to discount the sectarian component of the Military Committee. They instead tend to render sectarianism as the unfortunate reality of Syrian politics.
33 Van Dam, Struggle for Power, 59.
34 Van Dusen, "Political Integration," 134.
35 Seale, Asad, 64; emphasis mine.
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A look into the citations supporting these assertions raises questions about their validity, however. Van Dam frames his synopsis of sectarian factionalism within what French geographer Jacques Weulersse termed the "complexe minoritaire,"
[un] reflexe fondamental de la psychologie des foules dans tout le Proche-Orient. C'est une susceptibilite collective et pathologique qui fait apparaitre dans chaque geste de la communaute voisine une menace ou un defi a la sienne propre, et qui rend chaque collectivity solidaire dans son ensemble du moindre outrage fait a chacun de ses membres.36
Though perhaps a reasonable, even useful generalization of the Alawis (as specifically applied by Weulersse), Van Dam's use of a broadly defined term to elucidate the actions of specific individuals within the Syrian offers corps is considerably maladroit.
Van Dusen commits the opposite solecism by taking the testimony of one Alawi officer who "indicated that he was in the army four years before he knew who were Alawi officers and that not all Alawis were motivated by communal loyalties" to be enough evidence that sectarianism was not a factor until well after the formation of the Military Committee.37
Seale, though, finds it unnecessary to cite any source whatsoever for where he received this particular insight into the initial blueprints of the secret committee that would usher the Ba'th party into power four years later. Batatu, finding one of the stated objectives implausible, ventures a guess: "A quarter of a century later, Asad would leave the impression in an interview that a main concern of the Military Committee was
36 Jacques Weulersse, Paysans de Syrie et du Proche-Orient (Paris: Editions Gallimard, 1946), 77.
37 Van Dusen, "Political Integration," 134n47.
16


to safeguard the Egyptian-Syrian Union." He argues that "this cannot be reconciled
with the version of the committee's original objectives given in 1969" by Sami aj-Jundi, a cousin of one of the Committee's founding members.38 The interview in question is presumably one of the many that served as the basis for much of Seale's biography of Asad, of which Batatu implies having struggled with the marked absence of citations in similar fashion as myself: "I am assuming, as is suggested by the context, that Patrick Seale's statement... to the effect that the Committee's 'priority was to defend the union which in 1960-61 seemed truly threatened,' is based on his 1984—1985 interviews with Asad."39
At issue here is a difference of credulity: Batatu disbelieves the assertion that the Military Committee had the preservation of the Union of Arab Republics as one of its foundational principles, favoring instead the narratives that implicated Asad in undermining the UAR (and therefore Arab unity in the struggle against Israel); Seale simply presents as fact what he was directly by (we think) Asad himself, sans attribution.40
The Presidency
Van Dam's narrative of Ba'th Party sectarianism is straightforward. He strongly insists that the high percentage of minorities in positions of power following the 1963
38 Batatu, Syria's Peasantry, 280.
39 Batatu, Syria's Peasantry, 385n9.
40 Batatu acknowledges the unreliability of Asad and Jundi as sources but he does bother to detail the logic of his contention that Asad's assertion of loyalty to the United Arab Republic and the Military Committee's actions are incongruent. Batatu, Syria's Peasantry, 280-1.
17


Ba'thist coup was not a deliberate product of sectarianism but rather a natural outcome of the purging of officers involved in a coup attempt four months later, who "coincidentally or not, happened to be mostly Sunnis."41 He further exposits on the non-sectarian-ism of prominent figures in the military (including al-Asad) who would expel the more overtly sectarian members of the officers' corp regardless of sect, invoking secular Ba'thist ideology as their pretext:
"In later periods... it was repeatedly proven that, in the final analysis, those that spoke openly in favor of strengthening the position of their own religious group weakened their own positions rather than those of their opponents, who also reinforced their positions on a sectarian basis but did not openly speak about it." 42
Thus, the rivalry between Amin al-Hafiz, a Sunni, and Salah Jadid, an Alawi, both founding members of the Military Committee, led to Sunni and Alawi officers consolidating in support of their respective camps. Van Dam advances the narrative that Hafiz and his supporters deliberately provoked the sectarianization of the military during this time. Meanwhile, "the fact that many Alawi officers went over to Jadid's camp as a result of these developments did not necessarily imply that they supported him and his views. It did mean, however, that together with Jadid they turned against al-Hafiz."43 Again, he returns to the theme of sectarianism being less about confessional solidarity and more about opposition to the Sunni majority. He does apply the sectarian label to Hafiz without equivocation, however: "[With his] hostile attitude towards the Alawi of-
41 Van Dam, Struggle for Power, 44,49n51.
42 Van Dam, Struggle for Power, 55.
43 Van Dam, Struggle for Power, 59.
18


ficers, the majority of whom he now strongly distrusted... Amin al-Hafiz... had acquired almost an anti-Alawi complex and had started to consider almost all Alawis as personal enemies."44 Pipes closely reiterates Van Dam's ascription of sectarian suspicions to Amin al-Hafiz: "[He] came to see nearly every 'Alawi as an enemy and pursued blatant sectarian policies." Although Pipes does not provide a source for this assertion, in an unrelated endnote he confirms that "much of [his] information on the rise of the 'Alawis derives from Van Dam's meticulous study."45 However, Van Dam himself does not provide a source informing of Hafiz's vehemence against the Alawis. It sounds like something that could or even should be true, but ultimately appears to be nothing more than a statement of opinion that has since been rendered into historical fact.
With perfect consistency, Van Dam rationalizes and justifies every political maneuver and outcome for which Asad's opponents might undermine the legitimacy of his presidency as having been abetted by sectarianism. Once Hafiz is out of the picture, the formerly non-sectarian Alawi Ba'th Party members turn on each other, and Asad acts defensively. Van Dam quotes from articles written by Asad's detractors and, without a trace of irony, points out their hypocrisy: "In their articles directed against al-Asad, [his opponents] did not mention that their own previous power positions in Syria had also depended on sectarian, tribal and regional blocs in the Armed Forces and the Party."46
44 Van Dam, Struggle for Power, 61.
45 Pipes, Greater Syria, 170.
46 Van Dam, Struggle for Power, 91.
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Tellingly, he avoids calling Asad's assumption of power a "coup" until several pages after its place in the narrative. Instead, the civilian component of Syria's government failed to regain power and the "officers' faction of Hafiz al-Asad" managed to retain it, whereupon Asad "became Syria's first Alawi president." This passive description of Asad "end[ing] the Syrian tradition of having a Sunni president" is celebrated for "symbolically represent[ing] the political evolution of the Alawis from being a discrimi-nated-against socially and economically backward religious community to a nationally emancipated population group in a position of dominance."47 Though he acknowledges the inherent sectarianism of the process, Van Dam goes to such lengths to absolve Asad of sectarian culpability that I must name him a partisan of the regime..
Likewise, Seale seeks to exonerate Asad of all accusations. Therefore, it seems almost evenhanded when he describes how Asad removed the Army Chief of Staff, a Sunni who, "like other Sunnis... was beginning to grumble at what he saw as undue 'Alawi influence in the army, reason enough to get rid of him," and replaces him with a close (Alawi) friend.48 However, Seale is very clear: "Asad was not an 'Alawi sectarian, as the choice of his closest associates made clear—his prime minister, defence minister, foreign minister, private secretary, speech writer, [and] personal bodyguard were all non-'Alawis.. ."49 His depiction of Asad is highly uncritical and with alarming frequency presents
47 Van Dam, Struggle for Power, 88.
48 Seale, Asad, 148.
49 Seale, Asad, 177.
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hearsay as fact. The conspicuous dearth of citations demands the trust of his readers, and yet his endnotes only engender cause for doubt. I have no choice but to suspect him of being an Asad partisan.
Aside from some minor indications of misattribution, Batatu's disciplined methodology inspires confidence in his scholarship. For example (and there are many), he discloses evidence that a Syrian underground communist faction, dedicated to armed struggle against the Asad regime since its inception in the early 1970s, was rumored to be either Alawi-led or heavily populated therein.50 Some historians, unconcerned with being challenged, would include this interesting yet mostly inconsequential tidbit without bothering to provide a source. After all, it is just a rumor. Batatu is concerned, however. In an endnote, he goes to the trouble of explaining the discrepancy between rumors of the high membership of Alawis in the group versus a leadership role stems from two separate, unnamed sources he encountered on separate trips to Syria; the high-membership version came from an Alawi. He then concedes that there is no way for him to know if the rumors are true.51 In spite of certain irregularities, one would be forgiven for appraising Batatu's work, though pedantic, as admirably representative of a properly methodological scholarship.
One would be forgiven, but mistaken nonetheless.
50 Batatu, Syria's Peasantry, 122.
51 Batatu, Syria's Peasantry, 370n32.
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The Palestinians
In 1970, the political leadership of Syria opted to provide the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) with military support in its guerrilla war against Jordan, but the effort ultimately failed, leading to an escalation of tensions between Asad and Sal ah Ja-did, the primary rivals for political supremacy after the ouster of Amin al-Hafiz.52 Asad challenged accusations that, as Minister of Defense, he withheld air support by insisting on his unity of purpose with Jadid. Batatu approaches this claim judiciously: "The revival of the regime's inner crisis may or may not have been related to the failure of Syria's armed support of the Palestinian Resistance.... Later Asad would maintain that he had given his assent to the decision to intervene in the Jordan crisis and that on this issue he and Jadid were of one mind." 53 Ultimately, he rationalizes Asad's defense by expounding upon the reasons why such a move would have been ill-advised. Seale, whom Batatu relies upon for Asad's alibi, simply asserts the truth of the denial—"In fact, intervention was his policy and on this score he was not in dispute with Jadid," full stop—because Asad told him so. Furthermore, he disputes the "received wisdom that Jadid ordered the Syrian Army into Jordan but that Asad refused to commit the air force to battle, so dooming the venture to failure" with the nonsensical argument that because Asad was already in control of the military before the crisis began, "there could have been no armed intervention in Jordan of which Asad did not approve." This premise
52 Kedourie, Politics in the Middle East, 317.
53 Batatu, Syria's Peasantry, 174.
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means to support Seale's conclusion that the subsequent fallout between the two rivals would not have inspired Asad to neutralize Jadid because he "was already master of Syria in all but name."54 This is an obvious non-sequitur.
Further damaging to Asad's affirmations of sincerity to the Palestinian cause are allegations that Asad went so far as to assure King Husayn of Jordan that the Syrian air force would not engage. Again, Batatu is careful to emphasize the inconclusively of the evidence, especially insofar as part of it comes from Abu Iyad, the second highest ranking official of the PLO's dominant party Fatah (after Yasir Arafat) and someone with a clear agenda inimical to Asad. However, indications of Batatu's own contrariety to the Asad regime begins to emerge at this point in the narrative. (He does not preface any of the following with his typical "it was reported" or "one source claims" equanimity.) When recounting the events of the conflict, his reports authoritatively how the Asad regime began placing obstacles to its success in 1971, going so far as to block PLO reinforcements from reaching their comrades who were under heavy assault, effectively ending the war in Jordan's favor. Later, Asad is quoted as threatening members of the PLO if Husayn came to any harm. And although in May of 1973 Asad would act in defense of the PLO, his continuance of these actions, Batatu says, "revealed that the protection of the Resistance had not been his primary concern." Rather, the upcoming war with Israel that President Anwar Sadat of Egypt and Asad were planning was, "from his
54 Seale, Asad, 158.
23


standpoint," paramount, and it served Asad's purposes to exert control over Lebanon by taking advantage of the disruption caused by the PLO presence there. Asad then implored Sadat to keep the Palestinians ignorant of their war plans. Sadat instead divulged Asad's request to exclude Fatah. Batatu quotes the Egyptian president, speaking to Abu Iyad: "'I am at a loss to understand,' Sadat would add, 'why Asad holds you, and Yasir 'Arafat personally, in strong dislike.'"55
Throughout the narrative of these events detailing Asad's duplicity towards Fatah— his sabotaging of the Palestinian efforts; his threatening words spoken in defense of their enemy in Jordan; the fidelity of Anwar Sadat to the PLO leadership—nowhere does it mention that all these defamations came from the mouth of Abu Iyad, the aforementioned senior official of Fatah, with whom Batatu had a personal conversation.56
55 Batatu, Syria's Peasantry, 290-3.
56 Batatu, Syria's Peasantry, 387n26, 387n29,387n34.
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CHAPTER III
The Legitimacy of the Asad Regime
The Alawi Offense
The newly chartered Syrian constitution of 1973 caused riots to ensue over the lack of a requirement that the president be Muslim. Asad acceded to the protesters' demands and had the constitution amended.57 Seale explains that Musa al-Sadr, the Imam of the Lebanese Higher Shi'i Council, was receptive to Asad's appeals and issued a fatwa affirming the Alawis' place within the constellation of Islamic sects. With this "religious barrier to Asad's presidency thus removed," the Sunnis modified their demands accordingly.58 Seale glosses over certain major details that are contrary to his position. For the sake of Asad's constitutional legitimacy as President of Syria, the Alawis must be Muslim. His narrative implies that Asad's opponents received the Imam's statement as authoritative and the issue was settled forthwith. One might naturally infer from Seale's account that Sunni protestations against Asad lacked foundation and Sadr's fatwa stifled the perceived deficiency of Alawis as proper Muslims.
Historical, political, and social science investigation into Syria from the mid-20th century to the present generally necessitates at least a nominal discussion of the Alawis' status as Muslims. Their history, their relations with other sects, the opinions of com-
57 Moshe Ma'oz, "Attempts at Creating a Political Community in Modern Syria," Middle Eastern Journal 26 no. 4 (Autumn 1972): 403, accessed )une 6, 2019, https://www.jstor.org/stable/4324985.
58 Seale, Asad, 173.
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mon Sunni and Shi'a Muslims over time, and the range of conclusions reached by Is-
lamic scholars (among other considerations) are highly relevant to any exhaustive study of the Alawi political ascent and subsequent retention of power in Syria. Analysis of Alawi religious doctrines and practices would be similarly apropos, but with so little that is positively known by non-Alawi initiates, reasonable discussion should, in my opinion, be largely limited to the effects of the religion's esotericism on historical processes. To do very much more would be an exercise in the practical limitations of conjecture. This syllogism notwithstanding, scholarly detachment from the question of whether the Alawi religion is truly or sufficiently Islamic by non-Muslim historians is not strictly observed by some advocatory historians.
Seale asserts that most of what western scholars believe to know about Alawi religious beliefs is based on "rather shaky foundations."59 Indeed, few sources are known to be certainly Alawi in origin. Of them, the most commonly referenced are: a monograph written by Anglican missionary Samuel Lyde, which he claimed to have purchased from a Christian merchant; and a book written by Sulayman al-Adhana, an Alawi apostate. They were published in 1860 and 1863, respectively. The manuscript in Hyde's possession was intended for Alawi initiates only, but was lost after his death.60 The only published source for the secrets it contained was Lyde himself, whose descrip-
59 Seale, Asad of Syria, 10.
60 Bella Tendler Krieger, "The Rediscovery of Samuel Lyde's Lost NuayrI Kitab al-Mashyakha (Manual for Shaykhs)," Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society (Oct 2013): 4, accessed June 27, 2019, http: / /journals.cam-bridge.org/abstract_S135618631300059X
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tion of the sect was less than generous.61 Al-Adhana renounced his Alawi religion and was later assassinated for his apostasy.62 More directly, scholars usually attribute his death as a consequence of his having publicized the inner workings of Alawi ritual and doctrine, the secrecy of which is generally considered to result from centuries of practicing taqiyya.
Taqiyya is a form of "precautionary dissimulation,"63 a "Shi'ite principle... according to which the believer must keep his faith secret, while outwardly behaving as if he were one of his opponents."64 Sunni and Shi'a polemicists alike have lodged accusations of Alawi imposture, especially insofar as any honest person should little difficulty understanding why an Alawi would, for instance, masquerade as a Shi'a, seeing as how taqiyya would have frequent occasion to safeguard the Alawi's life.65 Scholars who otherwise are diametrically opposite each other over the question of Alawi Muslimhood generally agree on the cause for their secretive praxis. As Seale explains,
over the centuries [their extreme reverence for 'Ali] and other esoteric beliefs caused them to be denounced by Sunnis as infidels deserving death, and in self-defense they became secretive about their religion, adopting, like other extremist Shi'i sects, the doc-
61 Samuel Lyde, The Asian Mystery: Illustrated in History, Religion, and Present State of the Ansaireeh or Nu-sairis of Syria (London, 1860), p. 221-9.
62 Krieger, The Rediscovery/' 5nl3.
63 Roxanne L. Euben and Muhammad Qasim Zaman, Princeton Readings in Islamic Thought: Texts and Contexts from al-Banna to Bin Laden (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2009), 393.
64 Yaron Friedman, "Al-Husayn ibn Hamdan al-Khasibi: A Historical Biography of the Founder of the Nusayri-'Alawite Sect," Studia Islamica no. 93 (2001): 103, accessed May 18, 2019, https://www.jstor.org/ stable/1596110.
65 Friedman, "Al-Husayn ibn Hamdan al-Khasibi," 111.
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trine of taqiya, that resort to a prudent duplicity which justified cloaking their true beliefs.66
Daniel Pipes likewise finds easy justification in the assumed Alawi practice of taqiyya as
a necessity for survival as well. He notes the irony in how the defensive mechanisms
Alawis adopted to protect themselves from (mainly Sunni) persecution ultimately
served to raise them above those who had oppressed them:
Taqiya permitted 'Alawis to blow with the wind. When France ruled, they portrayed themselves as lost Christians. When pan-Arabism was in favor, they became fervent Arabs. More than ten thousand 'Alawis living in Damascus pretended to be Sunnis in the years before Asad came to power, only revealing their true identities when this became politically useful. During Asad's presidency, concerted efforts were made to portray the 'Alawis as Twelver Shi'is.67
These examples represent a point of concordance between two historians who have very little else upon which they agree. Even in this, their differences are subtly apparent. Seale refers to the Alawis as an extremist Shi'a sect. Extremist, along with "heterodox," are common adjectives used by other historians in this regard, with little to explain what makes them "extreme." Regardless, he concludes that "the Nusayris are a schismatic offshoot from mainstream Twelver' Shi'ism."68
On the other hand, Pipes is unequivocal in his opposition to any possible interpretation of the Alawis as an Islamic sect: "It is important to make this point very clear," he
66 Seale, Asad, 8.
67 Pipes, Greater Syria, 162.
68 Seale, Asad, 10. Pipes contends that Asad's opponents "habitually use" Nusayri, whereas supporters use Alawi. Pipes, Alawi Capture, 430. However, Seale uses Nusayri in reference to the sect prior to the French Mandate, which he says is of "recent coinage." Seale, Asad, 9. Hitti states they took the name when the French made the Latakia region a state "under the name Alaouite." Philip K. Hitti, History of Syria Including Lebanon and Palestine, (New York; St Martins Press, 1957), 586-7.
28


asserts: "Alawis have never been, and are not now, Muslims."69 Taking such a forceful stand on an issue for which one might reasonably deduce is not within one's domain of expertise could, in some cases, indicate the presence of a partisan agenda that supersedes one's scholarly integrity.
Irrespective of that supposition, the manipulation of sources is especially present in Pipes's work regarding this issue. As the general strikes and violent demonstrations against Asad's rule on the basis of his alleged unacceptability as a non-Muslim, the new President sought legitimization of the Alawi religion as an offshoot of Twelver Shi'ism. The Mufti of Damascus declared Asad himself a "Muslim in good standing," but this was unconvincing to the Sunni protestors, according to Pipes. He says the Alawis' "main defense against those who call them non-Muslims" came from Musa as-Sadr, the leader of Twelver Shi'ism in Lebanon, whom Asad persuaded "to indicate that the 'Alawis were legitimate Muslims. He did this by calling them 'brothers' of his followers."70 With as weak an endorsement as that, one can easily imagine the Alawi's claim to be a Muslim sect is easily disputed.
However, Pipes credits Martin Kramer in his endnotes for this version of events, and what I found there is not as represented. Quoting al-Sadr in full, from Kramer: "Today, those Muslims called Alawis are brothers of those Shi'is called Mutawallis by the mali-
69 Daniel Pipes, "The Alawi Capture of Power in Syria," Middle Eastern Studies 25, no. 4 (Oct 1989): 433, accessed May 18, 2019, https://www.jstor.org/stable/4283331.
70 Pipes, Greater Syria, 186.
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cious."71 In the same speech, the Shi'i Imam also "indicated," to use Pipes's word, the legitimacy of Turkish Alawis rather more clearly than one might have guessed, stating that "we recognize your Islam."72 Kramer also quotes al-Sadr's successor Shaykh Muhammad Mahdi Shams al-Din as saying that Alawis and Shi'is "are absolutely indivisible, and they all share the same belief in the Twelve Imams."73 Lastly, Ayatollah Sayyid Hassan al-Shirazi, younger brother of the Grand Ayatollah Mohammad al-Husayni al-Shirazi, actually issued a fatwa that affirmed unequivocally the synonymity of Alawis and Shia, which Kramer dictates in brief detail.74
This invalidates Pipes's assertion that his account "derives largely from Kramer's" work.75 What makes this especially curious is that Kramer also seems to be of the opinion that the Alawis are not Muslim. "Such limited endorsement as the Alawis have received, most notably from Sadr," Kramer writes, "has been born of political expediency."76 What this tells me is that Pipes finds it extraordinarily important to dis-
71 Martin Kramer, "Syria's Alawis and Shi'ism," in Shi'ism, Resistance, and Revolution, ed. Martin Kramer (Boulder, CO: Westview Press, Inc., 1987), 247.
72 Kramer, "Syria's Alawis," 248.
73 Kramer, "Syria's Alawis," 254n28.
74 Inexplicably, Kramer's narrative of the early push for Shi'i recognition of Alawis as true Muslims places the al-Shirazi fatwa subsequent to al-Sadr's declaration. Yvette Talhamy's admirably neutral historical detailing of all thefativas relating to the Alawis provides more specifics, and her sources have al-Shirazi delivering his fatwa a month before Asad produced the first draft of the new Syrian constitution. It is unknown to me why Kramer got this rather important chronological detail wrong. Talhamy, "The Fativas and the Nusayri/Alawis of Syria," 188.
75 Pipes, Greater Syria, 231nl65.
76 Martin Kramer, "Introduction," in Shi'ism, Resistance, and Revolution, ed. Martin Kramer (Boulder, CO: Westview Press, Inc., 1987), 13.
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prove Alawi assertions of Islamic constancy, so much so that he is willing to misrepresent the work of an author with whom he agrees but is inadequately militant. Is this inexplicable? Not if one considers the damage to the Asad regime's legitimacy if a critical mass of Syrians came to believe the Alawis are not Muslims.
Pipes is perhaps not concerned with convincing his readers to see this issue one way or the other so much as he is with proving that the Sunnis never accepted the Alawis as Muslim. "Virtually every discussion of this subject in print reached this conclusion," he contends. His evidence of this claim is meager: a Muslim Brotherhood editorial and an anonymous, undated, indeterminately located Al-Muslimun fi Suriya wa'l-Irhab an-Nusayri, 1964-1979.77 He says "one review of the record" determined that "a majority of Sunni and Shi'i scholars concur that the Nusayris are an apostate, an irreligious sect," and later quotes from "Muslim Brethren writings" attacking the Alawi history of assisting the enemies of Muslim Arabs." The endnotes reveal that both quotes were found on a single page of the October 1980 issue of al-Mukhtar al-Islami, a monthly periodical that appears to have been sympathetic, if not overtly affiliated, with the Muslim Brotherhood's official publications.78 By poring over the endnotes of the chapter, I was able to deduce that this "review of the record" extended solely to that of the opinion of Abu Hamid al-Ghazali. Earlier in the chapter Pipes writes that al-Ghazali instructed Muslims
77 Pipes, Greater Syria, 186.
78 Pipes, Greater Syria, 231nl66-9.
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of their "duty to kill" Alawis for their apostasy. This anti-Alawi motivation for the assassins, again, comes from al-Mukhtar al-lslami.79
What is known about this source? An English language internet search was fruitless, but It was a monthly publication that provided valuable insight into the Islamist underpinnings of the Muslim Brotherhood's political ideology. Abdullah A. Al-Arian explains that
because they covered similar subject matter and often expressed solidarity with al-Da'wa's stances on the issues of the day, al-l'tisam and al-Mukhtar al-lslami have all been mistakenly identified as Muslim Brotherhood publications in various places. In reality, only al-Da'wa represented the official Muslimhood position, though others may have shared its view on some matter, going so far as to republish al-Da'wa pieces on occasion.80
Al-Arian allows Emmanuel Sivan to further the connection. Sivan refers to al-l'tisam and al-Mukhtar al-lslami as "al-Da'wa's 'sister monthlies,"'81 showing Pipes to be arguing that the Muslim Brotherhood in the 1970s and early 1980s spoke with voice of all Sunni Muslims.
79 As of yet I have been unable to locate any English-language source of al-Ghazali making this statement, though other, more recent Islamist groups in Syria have made reference to this statement in some form or other. ISIS, for instance, was partial to Taqi ad-Din Ahmad ibn Taymiyya, who certainly had it out for the Alawis. Pipes introduces Taymiyya as "the still highly influential Sunni writer," and quotes his vitriolic condemnations of the Alawis at length. Pipes, Greater Syria, 163.
80 Abdullah al-Arian, Answering the Call: Popular Islamic Activism in Sadat's Egypt, (New York: Oxford University Press, 2014), 180.
81 Emmanuel Sivan, Radical Islam: Medieval Theology and Modern Politics, (Yale University Press, 1990), 134, quoted in Al-Arian, Answering the Call, 261nl7.
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The Partisans of Asad
Zealous campaigning by Pipes for the assignation of non-Muslim status to the Alawis is not enough on its own to label him an anti-Asad propagandist. His singular insistence on Asad having exaggerated his level of poverty as a child does not move the needle much. And then there is the matter of his dichotomy that fails to accurately represent the positions of other scholars whom he considers to be pro-Asad. He professes to subscribe to a more neutral interpretation of the sectarianism extant in the Ba'th party during Asad's accretion of personal autonomous power, but his position is actually more similar to the supposedly pro-Asad position than its opposing counterpart. Perhaps he is not a partisan and only seeks the truth, where ever he sees it?
Revisiting Pipes's "pro-Asad equals non-sectarian" historiographical claim, Pipes says that Jahn F. Devlin "would resist seeing 'every domestic disagreement in terms of a Sunni-'Alawi clash.' For him, the fact that 'Alawis reached power was basically accidental: 'The Ba'th is a secular party, and it is heavy with minorities.'"82 But this is not what Devlin is arguing whatsoever! When he broaches the subject at all, he does state that "some would translate this fact [the high representation of Alawis in the military] into 'Alawi domination of Syria and interpret every domestic disagreement in terms of a Sunni-'Alawi clash." But in the very next sentence, Devlin does not "resist" such a reading of events, as Pipes says he would. To the contrary, he supports it in certain instances,
82 Pipes, Greater Syria, 174.
33


albeit with notable mildness: "The serious disturbances in Syrian cities over the proposed constitution in the spring of 1973 could be given that interpretation."83 This is not followed by any suggestion to the effect that by "could be," Devlin means "it is something that exists within the wide realm of possibilities, but not something I would find appropriate." Rather, he briefly expounds upon the logic of why one "could" prove the riots had an underlying sectarian premise but, like every other expert on the subject, wants to establish that sectarianism is not the only factor to consider. And though Devlin does address the heavy minority representation in the Ba'th party, it is far from making an unsophisticated point about the Alawi ascent being "basically accidental." Rather, he is disputing the reverse side of the coin Pipes would later accuse him of embodying.
There is no single element at play here; it would be absurd for an expert on the subject to assign even a nominally principal factor, much less a chiefly dominant one, to the Alawi accession of power. Likewise, the outright dismissal of a prominent and essential feature of Syrian society and politics as irrelevant would be equally as crude, as Devlin quite clearly understood. Throughout his book, Devlin only mentions the Alawis as an identifier (but for that one passage in the epilogue). He avoids making bold statements about sectarian issues entirely. Devlin is, in all likelihood, one of those scholars I imagined in the introduction who finds discussing sectarian issues either prudent to avoid or unnecessary to his thesis. Now, it is perhaps reasonable to infer that his neglect of the
83 lohn F. Devlin, The Ba'th Party: A History from Its Origins in 1966, (Stanford: Hoover Institution Press, 1976), 320.
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topic could be an indication of a pro-Asad opinion—"it's a touchy subject so best not to even talk about it," for example. But making such an inference from the absence of evidence to the contrary and using it as a major pillar for a theory about the possible motivations for the dichotomous Alawi representations in the historiography? It raises a few suspicions.
Pipes does not hesitate to determine which organization opposed to the Asad regime speaks for the millions of Sunni Muslims throughout the Middle East. The National Alliance for the Liberation of Syria "summed up the Sunni indictment" of Asad, he declares, when they accused him of sabotaging war efforts against Israel in 1967 and not providing support for the Palestinians in 1970 because of his fierce antipathy toward both Arabs and Islam. Neither does he hesitate to summarize the suspicion held by most Sunni Arabs of Asad—and, by extension, the Alawis in general—being secretly in league with the Israelis, conspiring with the "Zionist enemy" against Muslims, and quietly preparing an independent Alawi state. And though he acknowledges how incredulous "outside observers" are regarding such conspiracy theories, Pipes assures his readers that when it comes to their "Alawi rulers.... nothing strikes the Sunnis as too outlandish."84
And yet, he doesn't seem to especially begrudge Asad's rule. Pipes finds justification for Asad's actions that are consistent with someone whose opprobrium is intended
84 Pipes, Greater Syria, 179-80.
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toward those who he believes are truly unsympathetic to Israel's continued existence, and he does not believe Asad is such a person. He surmises that Asad's bellicosity against Israel had little to do with any personal opposition to the Jewish state. Instead, political self-preservation was his primary motivation: "While Asad probably cared little about the fate of the Palestinians or control of Jerusalem, he adopted this cause to protect his reputation within Syria."85 For further exposition on this conclusion, Pipes directs us to his essay in the June 9, 1986 issue of The New Republic, conveniently posted on his website for posterity. There he argues that Asad seeks a Syrian empire consisting of Greater Syria as it was once known, and perpetuating conflict with Israel maintains his leverage against other Arab states and domestic opponents alike. The upshot is that "the Arab-Israeli conflict will continue so long as Hafez al-Assad rules in Damascus."86
With this growing understanding of why Pipes is stretching his sources beyond recognition, one mystifying inclusion found in Greater Syria makes more sense. He relates a story that ought to equip the Sunnis with a truly legitimate reason to despise Asad and distrust the Alawis. During the 1982 assault on the Sunni stronghold of Hama, Pipes avers that the Syrian president "took the psychological offensive by having militia groups tear veils off the heads of pious Muslim women."87 This is an accusa-
85 Pipes, Greater Syria, 180.
86 Daniel Pipes, "Syria's Imperial Dream: Foreign Adventures Shore up Assad's Regime," Middle East Forum, June 09,1986,, accessed July 17, 2019, http://www.danielpipes.org/8265/syria-imperial-dream.
87 Pipes, Greater Syria, 182.
36


tion of extraordinarily offensive sectarian hostility against a ubiquitous Islamic practice. For someone whose political viability largely rested on the acceptance of his Islamic bona fides, this tactic would be ill-advised, to say the least. Certainly such an assault by Asad on the religious sensibilities of the majority population—not only of the country he rules but of the entire region, and that of his most important political allies—would have been exploited by his enemies to great effect. Pipes provides no source. A thorough search of the internet and multiple scholarly databases turns up no confirmation.
Perhaps failing to provide a citation was an oversight on Pipes's part. The same benefit of the doubt I cannot accord to Seale. In the section dedicated to the Hama insurgency and its decisive quelling (which Batatu includes in his list of the "best accounts of the 1982 war"88) Seale metes out three citations: one from an interview he conducted with Asad in which recalls that two girls were assassinated in their beds;89 one for a specific figure concerning troop counts; and one that vaguely discloses some of the individuals whose accounts of the war he received personally, including the governor of Hama, the "testimony of other citizens," and the equally uninformative "other published sources" but for one which he specifies as providing "the guerilla's side of the story."90 Granted, such sources are absolutely necessary to write effectively about such an event; little enough official information is available, much less something preserved
88 Batatu, Syria's Peasantry, 157-60; Pipes, Greater Syria, 378nl8.
89 Seale, Asad, 332.
90 Seale, Asad, 513nn24-6.
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by the government or reported by contemporary newspapers that approximates the truth. To get them firsthand is especially rare and of enormous value to later scholars. For that very reason, however, with regard to such a polarizing, hotly remembered, and highly disputed event, I would expect more precise attribution to who said or didn't say what did or didn't happen.
I mentioned the dearth of citations in Seale's work earlier. To be precise: over the measure of its 495 pages, Asad of Syria averages 1.3 citations per page. As many as half are from interviews, which is impressive. But only rarely can one be certain what was from an interview. Even more rare does Seale mention that any particular event or quote came from a primary source, a news report, or an interview, and yet he present it all as fact. Unless he audio recorded them, the information from the interviews are un-verifiable. The book is overflowing with unique details and anecdotes. But in numerous instances, after an exhaustive search for clues as to where he received his information, I came up empty-handed. I don't believe much more than a small fraction is verifiably true, and so this book, so valuable to current historical scholarship on the Middle East, is by any honest standard, effectively useless.
It is quite maddening how frequently unverified historical anecdotes that may well be fictional but support a narrative become historical fact, based on Seale's book alone. Elie Kedourie, founder and editor-in-chief of Middle Eastern Studies, of all people, contributes to this pollution of the historiography. In his book Politics in the Middle East,
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he describes the assassination of Muhammad Umran, one of Asad's Alawi rivals, soon
after his release from prison in 1972. Kedourie quotes Seale to illustrate that Umran's family did not suspect or blame Asad. Seale, of course, provides no source for this event in which he recounts how Umran's grieving son went to Asad for comfort.91 Kedourie continues on to recount the events leading up to the apparent suicide of the Ishma'ili head of national security and founding member of the secret Military Committee Abd al-Karim al-Jundi. Kedourie relies, as far as I can tell, entirely on Seale's version of events. In that version, Jundi is quite the villain. He was "not quite normal in his makeup [with] a penchant for cruelty" and was responsible for "greatly expand [ing] the state's apparatus of repression.... Arbitrary arrests became frequent, and tales of torture, not hitherto common in Syria, contributed to an atmosphere of terror." Asad learned of an assassination plot, and when Jundi found himself cornered by the Asad faction, he allegedly shot himself in the head.92 This entire passage is filled with dramatic details of a thwarted assassin's interrogation, a clever plot to trap the antagonist, and a hero who, upon learning that his once secret compatriot but now mortal enemy had killed himself, cried tears of anguish. This last detail Seale says "was reported on good authority." It is a detail Kedourie finds relevant enough to repeat in his version.93 None of it is accompanied by a single citation by Seale.
91 Kedourie, Politics in the Middle East, 315.
92 Seale, Asad, 150-2.
93 Kedourie, Politics in the Middle East, 316.
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CHAPTER V
Conclusion
Israel does appear to be the crux of the matter with Patrick Seale. He may have personally liked Asad, he may have believed his presidency was most beneficent to Syria's well-being, he may have had strong convictions that the Alawi's were definitely Muslims and deserved to be respected as such. He may indeed have been completely correct on all those things as well. It is relevant that he also most certainly loathed the Israelis. To what degree this potent underlying prejudice against one side of an ongoing conflict corrupted his methodology when researching and writing about that very conflict is impossible to say, but examples of major lapses in his scholarly discipline abound. I present three examples:
1. During the escalation of tensions leading up to the Six-Day War between Israel and Egypt, Syria, and Jordan, Gamal Nasser, the president of Egypt, closed the Straits of Tiran to Israeli shipping, despite clear and repeated messages by the Israelis that this would be seen as an act of war. Seale freely admits that Nasser's closing of the straits was an internationally recognized casus belli but insists that Israel's sanguinary refusal to engage in diplomatic resolutions led to the preemptive destruction of Egypt's air force—by any objective measure a brilliant strategic move, for which Nasser's failure to anticipate had, according to Seale, only one viable explanation: In spite of Israel's clear declarations of the consequences,
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Nasser's own defiant statements, and his entrenchment of Egyptian forces on the Sinai, in his mind war was a "remote possibility." Nasser merely wanted "to frighten Israel into prudence." Using Egypt's military to effect the very thing Israel warned would be an offensive military act requiring a defensive response in kind (and, according to Seale, the international community agreed) was only an attempt to "regain by diplomacy what had been taken by force,"94 because "in contrast to Israeli eagerness, Arab governments neither wanted war nor were ready for it." Seale argues that Israeli officials grossly inflated the threat of Egyptian aggression and hid the truth from its citizens so as to secure public support for the initiation of active hostilities. According to an anonymous former Israeli intelligence official, Israeli generals were "bent on war" and "barely able to restrain themselves." In short, although Nasser's provocation was, in Seale's own estimation, an absolute and internationally recognized justification for military retaliation, the Israelis, by engaging in "one of the most extensive and remarkable exercises in psychological warfare ever attempted," were the aggressors who initiated a needless war.95
2. The day after Israel invaded Lebanon in 1982, Prime Minister Menachem Begin pleaded with Asad not to have his soldiers engage with Israeli solders in Lebanon to avoid an escalation of violence, but "these assurances and appeals
94 Seale, Asad, 131.
95 Seale, Asad, 136-7, 503n30.
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were a ruse intended to lull Asas into a false sense of security." Seale's evidence is the Israelis' superior military strategy and initiative: they preemptively disabled Syrian radar systems and were maneuvering into positions of strength to overwhelm any resistance.96
3. Finally a simple quote for which context, even if I were inappropriately separating it from, could not possibly matter: "[Rafi] Eitan's loathing for the Palestinians and eagerness to kill them were even greater than [Ariel] Sharon's."97
Of course, all of these things could be true. But without evidence, Seale is projecting onto his subjects the worst possible motives. Throughout his book, Jews are acquisitive, deceptive, murderous, genocidal. He even argues that Israel was, to some degree, responsible for Saddam Hussein's decision to invade Iran, inasmuch as the intelligence he received indicating Iran's military weakness was, in part, provided by the United States and Iranian exiles. The latter had ties to Israel, and the United States had lost most of its intelligence assets after the 1979 revolution. Since it "was natural that Washington should turn for help to its Israeli ally," Seale reasons, Israel "very probably" provided false information to encourage war between Iraq in Iran.98
96 Seale, Asad, 379.
97 Seale, Asad, 377.
98 Seale, Asad, 361-2.
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In his review of Asad of Syria, Pipes accuses Seale of "obsequiously swallowing] every lie put out by the hacks in Damascus, accepting even the claim that Nizar al-Hin-dawi, the man who tried to blow up an El A1 plane in 1986, was a double agent controlled by Israel."99 Despite Pipes's inflammatory language, Seale did advocate for the conspiracy theory, writing that "there is some evidence to suggest that Hindawi [and his brother] were double agents who worked for Syria while being controlled by Israel." This would be an incredible story and I'd love to know more about it, but Seale didn't seem to think it worth detailing any further or even directing his readers to further reading. But whatever evidence exists for suggesting a double-agent intrigue, it was convincing enough for him to conclude that "Hindawi was most probably an agent provocateur whose mission was to entrap Syrian intelligence services so as to smear Syria as a terrorist state."100 The only evidence Seale does deem necessary to provide in support of this theory is an article by Ian Black in the November 15, 1986 issue of The Guardian, which leads with the news that "Israeli intelligence received an advance general warning" from an unnamed source of a possible plot to blow up an Israeli airliner. The rest of the article however, does not support Israel's involvement whatsoever. To
99 Daniel Pipes, "Asad of Syria: The Struggle for the Middle East/' danielpipes.org, accessed May 29, 2019. http: / / www.danielpipes.org/31 /asad-of-syria-the-struggle-for-the-middle-east.
100 Seale, Asad, 480.
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the contrary, Black designates theories of the Mossad having masterminded the affair as "extreme."101
Though maybe it should, it doesn't surprise me that Pipes did not investigate and comment on Seale's endemic misemployment of his sources. In his assault on Seale, he does question why "a university press [would] consent to publish so obvious a whitewash," but attributes it to political bias on the part of Columbia University. Perhaps he knows that attacking a fellow scholar's sources might open him up to equally justifiable criticisms and allegations of being a partisan propagandist?
101 Ian Black, "Israelis Were Tipped Off About El A1 Bomb Plot," The Guardian (London, November 15, 1986), accessed May 30, 2019, https://advance-lexis-com.aurarialibrary.idm.oclc.org/api/document7col-lection=news&id=urn:contentItem:40GH-GY00-00VY-80HR-00000-00&context=1516831.
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BIBLIOGRAPHY
Al-Arian, Abdullah. Answering the Call: Popular Islamic Activism in Sadat's Egypt. New York: Oxford University Press, 2014.
Batatu, Hanna. "Some Observations on the Social Roots of Syria's Ruling, Military Group and the Causes for its Dominance." Middle Eastern Journal 35 no. 3 (Summer 1981): 331-44. Accessed May 26, 2019. https://www.jstor.org/stable/4326249.
Batatu, Hanna. Syria's Peasantry, the Descendants of Its Lesser Rural Notables, and Their Politics. New Jersey: Princeton University Press, 1999.
Devlin, John F. The Ba'th Party: A History from Its Origins in 1966. Stanford: Hoover Institution Press, 1976.
Drysdale, Alasdair. Syria and the Middle East Peace Process. New York: Council on Foreign Relations Press, 1991.
Drysdale, Alasdair. "The Syrian Political Elite, 1966-1976: A Spatial and Social Analysis." Middle Eastern Studies 17 no. 1 (January 1981): 3-30, accessed June 1, 2019. https: / / www.jstor.org / stable / 4282814.
Drysdale, Alasdair, and Gerald Blake. The Middle East and North Africa: A Political Geography. New York: Oxford University Press, 1985.
Euben, Roxanne L., and Muhammad Qasim Zaman. Princeton Readings in Islamic Thought: Texts and Contexts from al-Banna to Bin Laden. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2009.
Faksh, Mahmud A. "The Alawi Community of Syria: A New Dominant Political Force." Middle Eastern Journal 20 no. 2 (April 1984): 140-1. Accessed May 18, 2019. https: / / www.jstor.org / stable / 4282993.
Friedman, Yaron. "Al-Husayn ibn Hamdan al-Khasibi: A Historical Biography of the Founder of the Nusayri-'Alawite Sect." Studia Islamica no. 93 (2001): 103. Accessed May 18, 2019. https: / /www.jstor.org/stable/1596110.
Hitti, Philip K. History of Syria Including Lebanon and Palestine. New York: St Martins Press, 1957.
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Hurewitz, J.C. Middle East Politics: The Military Dimension. New York: Frederick A. Praeger, Publishers, 1969.
Kedourie, Elie. Politics in the Middle East. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1992.
Kramer, Martin, ed. Shi'ism, Resistance, and Revolution. Boulder, CO: Westview Press, Inc., 1987.
Krieger, Bella Tendler. "The Rediscovery of Samuel Lyde's Lost Nuayrl Kitab al-Mashyakha (Manual for Shaykhs)." Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society (Oct 2013): 1-16. Accessed June 27, 2019. http: / /journals.cambridge.org/abstract_S135618631300059X.
Lyde, Samuel. The Asian Mystery: Illustrated in History, Religion, and Present State of the Ansaireeh or Nusairis of Syria. London, 1860.
Ma'oz, Moshe. "Attempts at Creating a Political Community in Modern Syria." Middle Eastern Journal 26 no. 4 (Autumn 1972): 403. Accessed June 6, 2019, https://www.js-tor.org / stable / 4324985.
Pipes, Daniel. "The Alawi Capture of Power in Syria." Middle Eastern Studies 25 no. 4 (Oct 1989): 429-50. Accessed May 18, 2019, https://www.jstor.org/stable/4283331.
Pipes, Daniel. "Asad of Syria: The Struggle for the Middle East." Middle East Forum. Accessed May 29, 2019. http: / / www.danielpipes.org/31/asad-of-syria-the-struggle-for-the-middle-east.
Pipes, Daniel. Greater Syria: The History of an Ambition. New York: Oxford University Press, 1990.
Pipes, Daniel. "Syria's Imperial Dream: Foreign Adventures Shore up Assad's Regime." Middle East Forum. June 09, 1986. Accessed July 17, 2019. http: / / www.danielpipes.org/ 8265 / syria-imperial-dream.
Seale, Patrick. Asad of Syria: The Struggle for the Middle East. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1988.
Seale, Patrick. The Struggle for Syria: A Study of Post-War Arab Politics 1945-1958. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1987.
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Sivan, Emmanuel. Radical Islam: Medieval Theology and Modern Politics. Yale University Press, 1990. Quoted in Al-Arian, Answering the Call: Popular Islamic Activism in Sadat's Egypt. New York: Oxford University Press, 2014.
Talhamy, Yvette. "The Fatwas and the Nusayri/Alawis of Syria." Middle Eastern Studies 46 no. 2 (March 2010): 188. Accessed May 18, 2019. https: / /www.jstor.org/stable/ 20720657.
Van Dam, Nikolaos. The Struggle for Power in Syria: Sectarianism, Regionalism and Tribalism in Politics, 1961-1978. London: Croom Helm Ltd, 1979.
Van Dusen, Michael H. "Political Integration and Regionalism in Syria." Middle East Journal 26 no. 2 (Spring 1972): 123-36. Accessed June 6, 2019. https: / / www.jstor.org/sta-ble/4324906.
Weulersse, Jacques. Paysans de Syrie et du Proche-Orient. Paris: Editions Gallimard, 1946.
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Full Text

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ANALYSIS OF THE USE OF SOURCES IN SCHOLARLY WORKS TO MANIPULATE PERCEPTIONS OF PRESIDENTIAL LEGITIMACY IN SYRIA By JUSTIN EDWARD VAUGHAN B.A., Colorado State University, 2008 ! A thesis submitted to the ! Faculty of the Graduate School of the ! University of Colorado in partial fulÞllment ! of the requirements for the degree of ! Master of Arts History Program 2019 "

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© 2019 JUSTIN EDWARD VAUGHAN ALL RIGHTS RESERVED ! ii

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This thesis for the Master of Arts degree by Justin Edward Vaughan has been approved for the History Program by Dale J. Stahl, Chair Ryan D. Crewe Gabriel Finkelstein Date: August 3, 2019 " ! iii

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Vaughan, Justin Edward (MA, History) The SigniÞcance of Alawi Sectarianism and Islamic Heterodoxy in Competing Interpre tations of Modern Syrian History Thesis directed by Assistant Professor Dale J. Stahl ABSTRACT The historiography of Syria has a peculiar divide in regards to the Asad regime. The absence, inadequacy, or unavailability of veriÞable primary sources has allowed for widely disparate scholarly interpretations of late-twentieth century Syrian events. The motives of major historical actors, the beliefs of various factions, and the outcomes of their actions are therefore analyzed through the prism of political projection and ideo logical interpretation. Freely formed conjecture, if consonant with the presuppositions of the academic consumers of scholarly works, is easily accepted as factual representa tions of Syrian history. In such a speculative environment, honest scholarship would re double its efforts to acknowledge biased research and interpretations. Instead, studies of the Asad regime have promulgated incompatible versions of history, each revealing the ideological predilections of the specialists producing them, whose scholarship is vener ated, even revered, but consequently unchecked and unsubstantiated. Asseverations to the validity of agenda-propelled interpretationsÑso long as they remain within the ac cepted bounds of academic precepts and conventionÑare acknowledged, but rarely tested against the product. This essay will show how several of the most highly es ! iv

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teemed scholars of modern Syrian history, spanning the spectrum of political ideologies, have each failed to promote historical truth. Rather, they have sacriÞced their scholarly integrity on the altar of a transient political agenda. The form and content of this abstract are approved. I recommend its publication. Approved: Dale J. Stahl ! v

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Alli, nothing I have done would have been worth doing without you. " ! vi

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TABLE OF CONTENTS CHAPTER I. INTRODUCTION 1 The Concern with Sources 4 II. SECTARIANISM AND THE BA'TH PARTY 6 The Emergence of Alawi Political Representation 6 The Military Committee 13 The Presidency 17 The Palestinians 22 III. THE LEGITIMACY OF THE ASAD REGIME 25 The Alawi Offense 25 The Partisans of Asad 33 IV. CONCLUSION 39 BIBLIOGRAPHY 44 " ! vii

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CHAPTER I INTRODUCTION When delving into sectarianism and its role in the historical developments of mod ern SyriaÑparticularly in the context of HaÞz al-Asad's attainment of the presidency half a century agoÑhistorians must contend with a number of difÞcult, multi-faceted questions. Three related question sets will be analyzed in this essay: 1 1. Contrary to the Ba'th party's professed secularism, to what degree was the Alawi consolidation of power in the Syrian military, and eventually the government as a whole, a sectarian process? How was sectarianism distributed across the vari ous sects vying for dominance? 2. Are the Alawis, in fact, Muslims? Is the answer subjective or one that may be ob jectively known? Who decides? 3. Was HaÞz al-Asad a sectarian, or a product thereof? As an Alawi, was his presi dency legitimate? Were his concerted efforts to challenge Israeli power, and cor responding support for the Palestinians, sincere? What one might call the scholarly disposition assumes a detached neutrality toward these questions, attempting to craft a sensible narrative from the known facts and spec ulating with full transparency as to the most logical possibilities when veriÞable truths prove elusive. An advocatory approachÑas in, one that promotes an interpretation of Many of the books and articles featured in the following pages claim to have answered some of these 1 questions. This essay does not aspire to adjudicate which of the proposed answers are correct. ! 1

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history to convince readers of the correct side in a (typically, but not always, political) debateÑengages with the narrative openly and earnestly and speculative leaps favor its posited interpretation. Either approach may equally facilitate impeccable standards of scholarship. Historians who advocate for a particular position, for instance, may do so because their research is so thoroughly complete and honestly presented that no other interpretation is reasonably valid. Speculation is logical, reasonably likely, and engender a largely coherent narrative, whereas competing narratives invariably fall short. Con versely, a truly neutral scholar may fail to maintain similar standards and produce an inferior, even objectively false history. Regarding question set two, I have found many historians deem it sufÞcient to assert that the Alawis are "a heterodox Shi'a sect," and that's that. These scholars may be incu rious, content with the prevailing opinion of other scholarship, wary of entering an un settled religious debate, Þnd such questions irrelevant to their subject, all of the above, or none of the above. All that must be known is that a minority ethno-religious group dominates Syrian politics, and this has served to complicate things. The groundwork having thus been laid for fruitful discussion of Syria's current state of affairs (shaped as it was by often factious relations between Alawis and other religious and ethnic groups), the majority of historians, it seems, consider dwelling on the esoteric intricacies of Alawi religious identity to be unnecessary, tedious, even offensive. ! 2

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On the other hand, some scholars predicate their theses upon the recognition of reni tent attitudes toward the Alawis, who have maintained exclusive minority rule since 1966. The periodic (though by no means predictable) cycles of violence in Syria, these scholars argue, are to some degree a function of Sunni resistanceÑor acquiescence, as the case may beÑto Alawi assertions of good and proper adherence to Islam. Any cate gorical denial of Alawi Muslimhood serves to undermine the legitimacy of HaÞz alAsad's dynastic hegemony, whereas acceptance of the Alawis as cogitable Muslims con Þrms the constitutionality of HaÞz al-Asad's occupancy of the ofÞce of the Syrian presi dent. All three question sets are subject to vastly differing interpretations in lieu of inde pendent and veriÞable sources. Therefore, those attempting a scholarly approach are challenged with writing a history not composed almost entirely of declared speculation, caveats, and tedious attribution of every unsure source, to the point that the work is un readable, even meaningless. Moreover, political interests are rarely insigniÞcant to anyone researching the mod ern Middle East. Late Syrian history does not generally attract the attention of disinter ested parties only seeking to know the truth of HaÞz al-Asad's rise to power and estab lishment of a dynastic regime, and nothing more. It is inescapable: political involvement and activism are married to the history of Syria since Asad's consummation of political authority. ! 3

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The Concern with Sources Trustworthy sources concerning events in Syria during the 1960s, when the Ba'th Party and, subsequently, the Alawi sect came to power, are difÞcult to come by. Perhaps even more scarce are reliable sources that reveal the truth of Syrian history under Asad during the 1970s and 1980s. Authoritative examinations of the previous decades, how ever, are prevalent. They include the likes of Albert Hourani, Stephen Longrigg, and Patrick Seale, whose book The Struggle for Syria, Þrst published in 1965, is a frequently cited and a vital contribution to the common understanding of post-War Syria up to its brief union with Egypt in 1958. "It is not easy," Hourani writes in the foreword to the 1986 reprint, "to write the political history of a period for which the archives of gov ernments are not yet open, and of one so near to us in time, and so full of dramatic and disputed events, that it is difÞcult to step back and look at it with detachment." A doc 2 tor of literature, Seale was a journalist by trade. Remembered by The Guardian as "the English-speaking world's foremost chronicler and interpreter of Syria, its troubled mod ern history and its leadership" after his death in 2014, Seale, more competently and far 3 more abundantly than many other historians, incorporated into his work personal in terviews with the primary players of the very histories about which he wrote. Despite the inherent unreliability of the information gleaned using such methodology, The Patrick Seale, The Struggle for Syria: A Study of Post-War Arab Politics 1945-1958 (New Haven: Yale Uni 2 versity Press, 1987) , xi. Tim Llewellyn, "Patrick Seale Obituary," The Guardian, April 13, 2014, accessed July 15, 2019, https:// 3 www.theguardian.com/media/2014/apr/13/patrick-seale ! 4

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Struggle for Syria and, more pertinent to this essay, Seale's 1988 biography of the sitting Syrian president, Asad of Syria: the Struggle for the Middle East, are invaluable to histori ans seeking information about crucial historical events known only by a select few ac tive participants in their own political history of the Middle East. However, an interview with Asad is not a reliable source, no matter how respected the interviewer, or what university press is found on the book's copyright page. This essay explores the reliance of later scholarship on Seale's unique access to various his torical Þgures for the construction of ostensibly factual narratives of Asad's Syria. Be yond that, Seale's own partisan representations are accepted as authoritative, insofar as citing his work is sufÞcient to pass peer review. Historians of post-independence Syria often cite a certain few authors with high frequency. They present the information found in these few books as factual, but close examination of these secondary sources reveal an alarming amount of unveriÞable information. The result is a body of assumed knowledge that is easily manipulated and adulterated to perform a desired political function, for which Syria is uniquely suited to serve as proxy. " ! 5

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CHAPTER II Sectarianism and the Ba'ath Party The Emergence of Alawi Political Representation Nikolaos Van Dam, in his oft-cited The Struggle for Power in Syria , has this to say about Asad's rise to power in Syria: "Contrary to what might be concluded from all this sectarian propaganda, the most dangerous opposition to HaÞz al-Asad's regime was exercised primarily by ofÞcers who belonged to the Alawi community and only secon darily by others." This conclusion is essentially universal among scholars of modern 4 Syrian political history. Not unanimous is the degree of sectarianism that enabled Asad's ascension through the military ranks and ultimate attainment of status as the world's only minority leader of a Muslim-majority country. The divide in scholarly 5 opinion begins with the Ba'th Party. The highly visible Marxist streak running through historical inquiry insists on the universal application of its explicative utility, and the success of the Ba'th party is well served in this regard. International affairs specialist Michael H. Van Dusen argues that pleas to tribal and sectarian motivations as the drivers of modern Syrian history were inadequate, but not entirely useless: "The current importance attached by some to reli gion does not imply that it was always strong, only that it was always a latent factor in Nikolaos Van Dam, The Struggle for Power in Syria: Sectarianism, Regionalism and Tribalism in Politics, 19614 1978 (London: Croom Helm Ltd, 1979), 93. Yvette Talhamy, "The Fatwa s and the Nusayri/Alawis of Syria," Middle Eastern Studies 46, no. 2 (March 5 2010): 175, accessed May 18, 2019, https://www.jstor.org/stable/20720657. ! 6

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the political equation." Rather, the Alawis were relatively indifferent to religious or 6 tribal loyalties until imposed upon them by the circumstances of Ba'th rule in the 1960s. Prior to that, class identity was far more compelling a message by local and regional po litical candidates. This produced a situation in which the success or failure of political parties was dependent upon decentralized appeal. Van Dam fully concurs with this 7 formulation, concluding that "most Syrian political parties thus reßected regional inter ests and, irrespective of their political ideologies, were able to expand in speciÞc areas or among sections of the population while remaining negligible to others." In the re 8 gions of Syria heavy with minority populations, the socialist message, though appeal ing, wasn't what made the Ba'th ultimately triumphant, according to Van Dam, Van Dusen, and others. Secularism was the winning message. 9 Other Arab nationalist movements dominant in less heterogeneous populations, such as the Muslim Brotherhood, often had a marked Sunni quiddity that minority Michael H. Van Dusen, "Political Integration and Regionalism in Syria," Middle East Journal 26 no. 2 6 (Spring 1972): 134, accessed June 6, 2019, https://www.jstor.org/stable/4324906. The exception, according to Van Dusen, was in regions which had less regional loyalty, particularly 7 Sunni-dominant urban centers. Ideological considerations predominated in those areas among the more zealous participants in political activism. In Hama, for instance, "the strong Sunni elements in the city found expression in the Ihkwan al Muslimin (the Muslim Brotherhood)É" who provided personnel to Þght against Israel in 1948. Muslim Brotherhood political candidates did well in subsequent decades, eventually mounting a populist challenge to Alawi rule before suffering utter defeat in 1982. Van Dusen, "Political Integration," 132n25. Van Dam, Struggle for Power , 20. 8 Alasdair Drysdale, Syria and the Middle East Peace Process (New York: Council on Foreign Relations Press, 9 1991), 18; Mahmud A. Faksh, "The Alawi Community of Syria: A New Dominant Political Force," Middle Eastern Journal 20 no. 2 (April 1984): 140-1, accessed May 18, 2019, https://www.jstor.org/stable/4282993. Van Dam, Struggle for Power , 32; J. C. Hurewitz, Middle East Politics: The Military Dimension (New York: Frederick A. Praeger, Publishers, 1969), 155. ! 7

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Arabs such as the Alawi, Druze, Maronites, Catholic and Orthodox Christians, found repellent. Formed in 1947, "Ba'th ideology had a quite different basis," Van Dam writes. "The Ba'th wanted a united secular Arab society with a socialist system, i.e.; a society in which all Arabs would be equal, irrespective of religion." Socialism was attractive to 10 the second-class denizens of the Levant who, historically, suffered higher levels of poverty and economic subjugation. But the prevailing sentiment in Syria at the time was this: The subordinate status of minorities was resultant from the Sunnis' long sup pression of their natural rights. Though socialism might alleviate the symptoms of mi nority oppression, secularism was the cure for the disease. And the Alawis, being the most ill, so to speak, found the Ba'th message especially appealing. They joined the par ty en masse and voted for their candidates with fervor. It being one of the few avenues of upward mobility available to them, Alawis also joined the military in disproportion ate numbers. 11 The common explanation for this unanticipated outcome of minorities dominating the military is the overconÞdence of Sunni elites: So long as they held the highest posi tions of authority, overrepresentation of minorities in the middle ranks of the ofÞcer corps, and in even greater numbers among the enlisted, wasn't of any concern. How 12 Van Dam, Struggle for Power , 32. 10 Alasdair Drysdale and Gerald Blake, The Middle East and North Africa: A Political Geography (New York: 11 Oxford University Press, 1985), 159. 12 ! 8

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ever, the frequent coups d'Žtat in the fourteen years before the Ba'th party emerged victo rious in 1963 reduced Sunni representation in the upper echelons of power and minori ties. Alawis in particular were able to Þll the vacuum. 13 This emphasis on class and regionalism as a major, if not preeminent, factor in the Alawi ascent to political dominance has its detractors. In an article written in 1981 ex ploring this speciÞc question, Hanna Batatu argues that, ultimately, "the ruling element consists at its core of a close kinship group which draws strength simultaneously, but in decreasing intensity, from a tribe, a sect-class, and an ecologic-cultural division of the people." Early in the article, he moderates his claim: 14 To assert that Asad depends for his power upon his tribe or his co-religionists is not to assert that Asad is necessarily tribal or sectarian in his outlook or motives or in his eco nomic or political line of conduct. While some of Asad's policiesÉ have been at least partly affected by his 'Alawi background, broader considerations have been at the basis of other actions taken by his regime. 15 This caveat forestalls any suggestion that Batatu is accusing Asad of purely sectarian motivations. But he he is clear in his assertion that tribal and sectarian afÞliations were "far more signiÞcant" to the power structures of the regime when compared to other Elie Kedourie, Politics in the Middle East (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1992), 313. Hanna Batatu, 13 Syria's Peasantry, the Descendants of Its Lesser Rural Notables, and Their Politics (New Jersey: Princeton Uni versity Press, 1999), 157-60; Daniel Pipes, Greater Syria: The History of an Ambition , (New York: Oxford University Press, 1990), 169. Hanna Batatu, "Some Observations on the Social Roots of Syria's Ruling, Military Group and the Caus 14 es for its Dominance," Middle Eastern Journal 35 no. 3 (Summer 1981): 331, accessed May 26, 2019, https:// www.jstor.org/stable/4326249. Batatu, " Some Observations," 333. 15 ! 9

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explanations for the Alawi dominance of Syria, including the common military back grounds of Asad and his installed ministers and authorities. 16 It was uncommon for Alawis at the military academy to hail from impoverished families. Alawis could rarely afford to send a son away from the desperate familial struggle to survive. Van Dusen notes that Asad "was one of the few really poor Alawis" to gain admittance into the school. His wealthier (relatively speaking) Alawi kinsmen were naturally sympathetic to their brethren. Consistent with his Marxist methodolo 17 gy, Van Dusen describes the long history of class separation and exploitation of poor minorities by wealthy Sunnis. This created within the minorities of the Levant a deep resentmentÑespecially among the Alawis, whom the regionally dominant Sunni Mus lims had treated most egregiously since the sect's foundingÑbut also a strong commu nal solidarity between and among the various ethnic and confessional groups. 18 Daniel Pipes has a slightly different version of events. His book Greater Syria: the His tory of an Ambition is inßuential in its own right, often cited by those seeking to under mine the Asad regime's legitimacy. In this book he reasons that Asad's father and grandfather were wealthy by their community standards. "In later years," Pipes writes, "Asad cultivated a story of poverty, recounting to visitors, for example, about having to drop out of school until his father found the sixteen Syrian pounds to pay for his tu Batatu, " Some Observations," 331. 16 Van Dusen, "Political Integration," 132n35. 17 Van Dusen, "Political Integration," 132. 18 ! 10

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ition." Alasdair Drysdale supports this version of Asad's upbringing, afÞrming that 19 although most members of the Regional Command had rural or provincial back grounds, all but one (and not Asad) attended secondary schoolÑan indication of rela tively elite social and familial origins. 20 So which version of events is true? They can't both be. Either he was "very poor," as were the vast majority of Alawis, or he was born into a "relatively elite" family of some means. Seale, having interviewed the Syrian president numerous times, would be best positioned to convey Asad's childhood memories. In Asad of Syria , Seale divulges that Asad's grandfather had earned respect and inßuence in the northern Levantine town of Qurdaha, and by the time Asad was born, his father had the status of a minor notable. 21 He makes no mention of Asad dropping out of school for want of money. However, Seale's endnotes reveal that his story came from interviews with Qurdaha municipal records, village elders, and Asad's cousin, Jabir al-Asad. If Asad had fabricated an al 22 ternate personal history, Seale opted not to share it. Where did Pipes get the notion that Asad exaggerated his early impoverishment? The anecdote he uses as evidence was recounted by one Ahmad Sulayman al-Ahmad, Pipes, Greater Syria , 172. 19 Alasdair Drysdale, "The Syrian Political Elite, 1966-1976: A Spatial and Social Analysis," Middle Eastern 20 Studies 17 no. 1 (January 1981): 17, accessed June 1, 2019, https://www.jstor.org/stable/4282814. Patrick Seale, Asad of Syria: The Struggle for the Middle East (Berkeley: University of California Press, 21 1988), 6. Seale, Asad , 496. 22 ! 11

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in Al-Watan al-ÔArabi on August 5, 1988. With Pipes providing little else to go on, I 23 looked to Batatu and found his meticulous scholarship more thorough and accommo dating. Ahmad is listed in the index of Batatu's 1999 study Syria's Peasantry, the Descen dants of Its Lesser Rural Notables, and Their Politics. When referenced by name in the text, the accompanying citation refers to the same source referenced by Pipes, Al-Watan al-ÔArabi . I then located Batatu's rendition of Asad's childhood elsewhere in the book. He expands upon the same anecdote alluded to by Pipes: On one occasion, in the presence of eighteen men of learning, Asad, as president, re counted how he had at one point to leave school temporarily until his father could scrape together the sixteen Syrian pounds needed for his tuition. "But," he added, "we were not commoners. On the contrary my father was a half Agha [an Ottoman honoriÞc for civilian or military ofÞcer]." 24 Perhaps this conversation occurred exactly as described. But it was "the prominent Alawi dissident Dr. Ahmad Sulayman al-Ahmad" whom Batatu is quoting here, from 25 a text provided by the author of the Watan al-ÔArabi article Þve months prior to its pub lished date which appears not to have made it into the Þnal version. It is not a quote from Asad himself. He may or may not have "added" anything to a conversation that 26 may or may not have taken place. Unlike Pipes, however, and to his credit, Batatu does not take this anecdotal report as indicative of Asad having reimagined his childhood for Pipes, Greater Syria , 228n101. 23 Batatu, Syria's Peasantry , 194. 24 Batatu, Syria's Peasantry, 229. 25 Batatu, Syria's Peasantry, 377n14. 26 ! 12

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the beneÞt of his public image. And yet, innocuous though it may be, attributing a per son with words that another claims he said raises a red ßag, especially when the claimant is a known antagonist of the quoted, and no mention is made of that fact in the text. This will, unfortunately, come up again. The Military Committee Pipes's categorization of non-neutral scholars and analysts according to their inter pretations of the secret Military Committee's origins recommends itself as a model of false dichotomies. He claims that "those unsympathetic to the Asad regime" (Annie Laurent and Matti Moosa named among them) saw the Committee as a minority sectar ian group committed to usurping control of the country from inception. Batatu implies 27 a conscious and concerted effort to do just that: "By dint of their control of the Ba'th Mil itary Section, [the Alawis] were able to regulate the admission into the military acad emies and to shufße and reshufße the commands of military units in manners answer ing to their purposes." They also "concentrated on" strategic placement of Alawis in command positions that put them in charge of units integral to enacting, or defeating, coups de Žtat . 28 Scholars who, in Pipes's estimation, "are better disposed toward Asad," reject such theories of sectarian conspiracism. They argue instead that the Alawi dominance of the Pipes, Greater Syria, 174. 27 Batatu, "Some Observations," 343. 28 ! 13

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Syrian military was a product of circumstance. After quoting John F. Devlin and Alas dair Drysdale to support this perspective, Pipes posits an interpretation that purport 29 edly splits the difference and arrives somewhere closer to a more truthful appraisal. He refutes the notion that it was a conspiracyÑbut neither does he endorse the view that it was an accident of history. His proposed intermediate position, however, does not sig 30 niÞcantly deviate from the latter, "pro-Asad" interpretation he describes, so far as I can tell. I warrant this is because none of the ostensibly pro-Asad sources I have readÑ in cluding Devlin and DrysdaleÑmake any argument resembling the one to which Pipes attaches their name. I will return to Devlin in chapter three, but the Drysdale article states that "clearly the cluster of elite members from al-Ladhiqiya cannot be dismissed as coincidental." In fact, one of his strongest observations is that the core of the dis 31 proportionate representation of Alawis in positions of power lies at a the intersection of two demographics: those who came from the Latakia region, irrespective of religion; and all Alawis regardless of regional origin. Drysdale is unambiguous: "There is no question that Alawis, in conjunction with Druzes and Ismai'ilis, manipulated ethnic ties in the ofÞcer corps in the early 1960s in order to gain a strategic advantage." This is 32 hardly representative of a viewpoint that "discount[s]É the sectarian factor more gen Seale's absence here is conspicuous and will be addressed later in this essay. 29 Pipes, Greater Syria , 174. 30 Drysdale, Syrian Political Elite , 12. 31 Drysdale, Syrian Political Elite , 14, 15. 32 ! 14

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erally" and resolves Alawi control of the Syrian military to be mostly a product of cir cumstance. Among the pro-Asad partisans, there is less resistance to accusations of sectarianism than Pipes suggests one should Þnd. Van Dam allows for the existence of "sectarian po larization" in the ofÞcers corps, insisting it "was based not so much on sectarian una nimity among military men from the same religious community as on common opposi tion and sectarian distrust." As stated at the beginning of this chapter, Van Dusen 33 deemphasizes the role of sectarianism in the early years of the Ba'th Party but acknowl edges it as a "latent factor in the political equation" which came into its own "under the political circumstances of the 1960s and the rule of the Ba'th." Seale argues that the 34 Military Committee initially did not contemplate an overthrow of the government but only sought to "rebuild their shattered party, protect the union, and overturn the old order in Syria, ensuring thereby their own continued ascent and that of their minority sects." The difference may be measured on a sliding scale, but even the most un 35 abashedly pro-Asad author does not presume to discount the sectarian component of the Military Committee. They instead tend to render sectarianism as the unfortunate reality of Syrian politics. Van Dam, Struggle for Power , 59. 33 Van Dusen, "Political Integration," 134. 34 Seale, Asad , 64; emphasis mine. 35 ! 15

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A look into the citations supporting these assertions raises questions about their va lidity, however. Van Dam frames his synopsis of sectarian factionalism within what French geographer Jacques Weulersse termed the "complexe minoritaire," [un] rŽßexe fondamental de la psychologie des foules dans tout le Proche-Orient. C'est une susceptibilitŽ collective et pathologique qui fait appara”tre dans chaque geste de la communautŽ voisine une menace ou un dŽÞ ˆ la sienne propre, et qui rend chaque col lectivitŽ solidaire dans son ensemble du moindre outrage fait ˆ chacun de ses membres. 36 Though perhaps a reasonable, even useful generalization of the Alawis (as speciÞcally applied by Weulersse), Van Dam's use of a broadly deÞned term to elucidate the actions of speciÞc individuals within the Syrian offers corps is considerably maladroit. Van Dusen commits the opposite solecism by taking the testimony of one Alawi ofÞ cer who "indicated that he was in the army four years before he knew who were Alawi ofÞcers and that not all Alawis were motivated by communal loyalties" to be enough evidence that sectarianism was not a factor until well after the formation of the Military Committee. 37 Seale, though, Þnds it unnecessary to cite any source whatsoever for where he re ceived this particular insight into the initial blueprints of the secret committee that would usher the Ba'th party into power four years later. Batatu, Þnding one of the stat ed objectives implausible, ventures a guess: "A quarter of a century later, Asad would leave the impression in an interview that a main concern of the Military Committee was Jacques Weulersse, Paysans de Syrie et du Proche-Orient (Paris: ƒditions Gallimard, 1946), 77. 36 Van Dusen, "Political Integration," 134n47. 37 ! 16

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to safeguard the Egyptian-Syrian Union." He argues that "this cannot be reconciled with the version of the committee's original objectives given in 1969" by Sami aj-Jundi, a cousin of one of the Committee's founding members. The interview in question is 38 presumably one of the many that served as the basis for much of Seale's biography of Asad, of which Batatu implies having struggled with the marked absence of citations in similar fashion as myself: "I am assuming, as is suggested by the context, that Patrick Seale's statementÉ to the effect that the Committee's Ôpriority was to defend the union which in 1960-61 seemed truly threatened,' is based on his 1984Ñ1985 interviews with Asad." 39 At issue here is a difference of credulity: Batatu disbelieves the assertion that the Military Committee had the preservation of the Union of Arab Republics as one of its foundational principles, favoring instead the narratives that implicated Asad in under mining the UAR (and therefore Arab unity in the struggle against Israel); Seale simply presents as fact what he was directly by (we think) Asad himself, sans attribution. 40 The Presidency Van Dam's narrative of Ba'th Party sectarianism is straightforward. He strongly in sists that the high percentage of minorities in positions of power following the 1963 Batatu, Syria's Peasantry , 280. 38 Batatu, Syria's Peasantry , 385n9. 39 Batatu acknowledges the unreliability of Asad and Jundi as sources but he does bother to detail the log 40 ic of his contention that Asad's assertion of loyalty to the United Arab Republic and the Military Commit tee's actions are incongruent. Batatu, Syria's Peasantry , 280-1. ! 17

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Ba'thist coup was not a deliberate product of sectarianism but rather a natural outcome of the purging of ofÞcers involved in a coup attempt four months later, who "coinciden tally or not, happened to be mostly Sunnis." He further exposits on the non-sectarian 41 ism of prominent Þgures in the military (including al-Asad) who would expel the more overtly sectarian members of the ofÞcers' corp regardless of sect, invoking secular Ba'thist ideology as their pretext: "In later periodsÉ it was repeatedly proven that, in the Þnal analysis, those that spoke openly in favor of strengthening the position of their own religious group weakened their own positions rather than those of their opponents, who also reinforced their posi tions on a sectarian basis but did not openly speak about it." 42 Thus, the rivalry between Amin al-HaÞz, a Sunni, and Salah Jadid, an Alawi, both founding members of the Military Committee, led to Sunni and Alawi ofÞcers consoli dating in support of their respective camps. Van Dam advances the narrative that HaÞz and his supporters deliberately provoked the sectarianization of the military during this time. Meanwhile, "the fact that many Alawi ofÞcers went over to Jadid's camp as a re sult of these developments did not necessarily imply that they supported him and his views. It did mean, however, that together with Jadid they turned against al-HaÞz." 43 Again, he returns to the theme of sectarianism being less about confessional solidarity and more about opposition to the Sunni majority. He does apply the sectarian label to HaÞz without equivocation, however: "[With his] hostile attitude towards the Alawi of Van Dam, Struggle for Power , 44, 49n51. 41 Van Dam, Struggle for Power , 55. 42 Van Dam, Struggle for Power , 59. 43 ! 18

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Þcers, the majority of whom he now strongly distrustedÉ Amin al-HaÞzÉ had ac quired almost an anti-Alawi complex and had started to consider almost all Alawis as personal enemies." Pipes closely reiterates Van Dam's ascription of sectarian suspi 44 cions to Amin al-HaÞz: "[He] came to see nearly every ÔAlawi as an enemy and pursued blatant sectarian policies." Although Pipes does not provide a source for this assertion, in an unrelated endnote he conÞrms that "much of [his] information on the rise of the ÔAlawis derives from Van Dam's meticulous study." However, Van Dam himself does 45 not provide a source informing of HaÞz's vehemence against the Alawis. It sounds like something that could or even should be true, but ultimately appears to be nothing more than a statement of opinion that has since been rendered into historical fact. With perfect consistency, Van Dam rationalizes and justiÞes every political maneu ver and outcome for which Asad's opponents might undermine the legitimacy of his presidency as having been abetted by sectarianism. Once HaÞz is out of the picture, the formerly non-sectarian Alawi Ba'th Party members turn on each other, and Asad acts defensively. Van Dam quotes from articles written by Asad's detractors and, without a trace of irony, points out their hypocrisy: "In their articles directed against al-Asad, [his opponents] did not mention that their own previous power positions in Syria had also depended on sectarian, tribal and regional blocs in the Armed Forces and the Party." 46 Van Dam, Struggle for Power , 61. 44 Pipes, Greater Syria , 170. 45 Van Dam, Struggle for Power , 91. 46 ! 19

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Tellingly, he avoids calling Asad's assumption of power a "coup" until several pages after its place in the narrative. Instead, the civilian component of Syria's government failed to regain power and the "ofÞcers' faction of HaÞz al-Asad" managed to retain it, whereupon Asad "became Syria's Þrst Alawi president." This passive description of Asad "end[ing] the Syrian tradition of having a Sunni president" is celebrated for "symbolically represent[ing] the political evolution of the Alawis from being a discrimi nated-against socially and economically backward religious community to a nationally emancipated population group in a position of dominance." Though he acknowledges 47 the inherent sectarianism of the process, Van Dam goes to such lengths to absolve Asad of sectarian culpability that I must name him a partisan of the regime.. Likewise, Seale seeks to exonerate Asad of all accusations. Therefore, it seems almost evenhanded when he describes how Asad removed the Army Chief of Staff, a Sunni who, "like other SunnisÉ was beginning to grumble at what he saw as undue ÔAlawi inßuence in the army, reason enough to get rid of him," and replaces him with a close (Alawi) friend. However, Seale is very clear: "Asad was not an ÔAlawi sectarian, as the 48 choice of his closest associates made clearÑhis prime minister, defence minister, foreign minister, private secretary, speech writer, [and] personal bodyguard were all non-ÔAlaw isÉ" His depiction of Asad is highly uncritical and with alarming frequency presents 49 Van Dam, Struggle for Power , 88. 47 Seale, Asad , 148. 48 Seale, Asad , 177. 49 ! 20

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hearsay as fact. The conspicuous dearth of citations demands the trust of his readers, and yet his endnotes only engender cause for doubt. I have no choice but to suspect him of being an Asad partisan. Aside from some minor indications of misattribution, Batatu's disciplined method ology inspires conÞdence in his scholarship. For example (and there are many), he dis closes evidence that a Syrian underground communist faction, dedicated to armed struggle against the Asad regime since its inception in the early 1970s, was rumored to be either Alawi-led or heavily populated therein. Some historians, unconcerned with 50 being challenged, would include this interesting yet mostly inconsequential tidbit with out bothering to provide a source. After all, it is just a rumor. Batatu is concerned, how ever. In an endnote, he goes to the trouble of explaining the discrepancy between ru mors of the high membership of Alawis in the group versus a leadership role stems from two separate, unnamed sources he encountered on separate trips to Syria; the high-membership version came from an Alawi. He then concedes that there is no way for him to know if the rumors are true. In spite of certain irregularities, one would be 51 forgiven for appraising Batatu's work, though pedantic, as admirably representative of a properly methodological scholarship. One would be forgiven, but mistaken nonetheless. Batatu, Syria's Peasantry , 122. 50 Batatu, Syria's Peasantry , 370n32. 51 ! 21

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The Palestinians In 1970, the political leadership of Syria opted to provide the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) with military support in its guerrilla war against Jordan, but the effort ultimately failed, leading to an escalation of tensions between Asad and Salah Ja did, the primary rivals for political supremacy after the ouster of Amin al-HaÞz. Asad 52 challenged accusations that, as Minister of Defense, he withheld air support by insisting on his unity of purpose with Jadid. Batatu approaches this claim judiciously: "The re vival of the regime's inner crisis may or may not have been related to the failure of Syr ia's armed support of the Palestinian ResistanceÉ. Later Asad would maintain that he had given his assent to the decision to intervene in the Jordan crisis and that on this is sue he and Jadid were of one mind." Ultimately, he rationalizes Asad's defense by ex 53 pounding upon the reasons why such a move would have been ill-advised. Seale, whom Batatu relies upon for Asad's alibi, simply asserts the truth of the denialÑ"In fact, intervention was his policy and on this score he was not in dispute with Jadid," full stopÑbecause Asad told him so. Furthermore, he disputes the "received wisdom that Jadid ordered the Syrian Army into Jordan but that Asad refused to commit the air force to battle, so dooming the venture to failure" with the nonsensical argument that because Asad was already in control of the military before the crisis began , "there could have been no armed intervention in Jordan of which Asad did not approve." This premise Kedourie, Politics in the Middle East, 317. 52 Batatu, Syria's Peasantry , 174. 53 ! 22

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means to support Seale's conclusion that the subsequent fallout between the two rivals would not have inspired Asad to neutralize Jadid because he "was already master of Syria in all but name." This is an obvious non-sequitur. 54 Further damaging to Asad's afÞrmations of sincerity to the Palestinian cause are al legations that Asad went so far as to assure King Husayn of Jordan that the Syrian air force would not engage. Again, Batatu is careful to emphasize the inconclusively of the evidence, especially insofar as part of it comes from Abu Iyad, the second highest rank ing ofÞcial of the PLO's dominant party Fatah (after Yasir Arafat) and someone with a clear agenda inimical to Asad. However, indications of Batatu's own contrariety to the Asad regime begins to emerge at this point in the narrative. (He does not preface any of the following with his typical "it was reported" or "one source claims" equanimity.) When recounting the events of the conßict, his reports authoritatively how the Asad regime began placing obstacles to its success in 1971, going so far as to block PLO rein forcements from reaching their comrades who were under heavy assault, effectively ending the war in Jordan's favor. Later, Asad is quoted as threatening members of the PLO if Husayn came to any harm. And although in May of 1973 Asad would act in de fense of the PLO, his continuance of these actions, Batatu says, "revealed that the pro tection of the Resistance had not been his primary concern." Rather, the upcoming war with Israel that President Anwar Sadat of Egypt and Asad were planning was, "from his Seale, Asad, 158. 54 ! 23

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standpoint," paramount, and it served Asad's purposes to exert control over Lebanon by taking advantage of the disruption caused by the PLO presence there. Asad then im plored Sadat to keep the Palestinians ignorant of their war plans. Sadat instead di vulged Asad's request to exclude Fatah. Batatu quotes the Egyptian president, speaking to Abu Iyad: "ÔI am at a loss to understand,' Sadat would add, Ôwhy Asad holds you, and Yasir ÔArafat personally, in strong dislike.'" 55 Throughout the narrative of these events detailing Asad's duplicity towards FatahÑ his sabotaging of the Palestinian efforts; his threatening words spoken in defense of their enemy in Jordan; the Þdelity of Anwar Sadat to the PLO leadershipÑnowhere does it mention that all these defamations came from the mouth of Abu Iyad, the aforementioned senior ofÞcial of Fatah, with whom Batatu had a personal conversation. 56 Batatu, Syria's Peasantry , 290-3. 55 Batatu, Syria's Peasantry , 387n26, 387n29, 387n34. 56 ! 24

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CHAPTER III The Legitimacy of the Asad Regime The Alawi Offense The newly chartered Syrian constitution of 1973 caused riots to ensue over the lack of a requirement that the president be Muslim. Asad acceded to the protesters' demands and had the constitution amended. Seale explains that Musa al-Sadr, the Imam of the 57 Lebanese Higher Shi'i Council, was receptive to Asad's appeals and issued a fatwa af Þrming the Alawis' place within the constellation of Islamic sects. With this "religious barrier to Asad's presidency thus removed," the Sunnis modiÞed their demands accord ingly. Seale glosses over certain major details that are contrary to his position. For the 58 sake of Asad's constitutional legitimacy as President of Syria, the Alawis must be Mus lim. His narrative implies that Asad's opponents received the Imam's statement as au thoritative and the issue was settled forthwith. One might naturally infer from Seale's account that Sunni protestations against Asad lacked foundation and Sadr's fatwa stißed the perceived deÞciency of Alawis as proper Muslims. Historical, political, and social science investigation into Syria from the mid-20th century to the present generally necessitates at least a nominal discussion of the Alawis' status as Muslims. Their history, their relations with other sects, the opinions of com Moshe Ma'oz, "Attempts at Creating a Political Community in Modern Syria," Middle Eastern Journal 26 57 no. 4 (Autumn 1972): 403, accessed June 6, 2019, https://www.jstor.org/stable/4324985. Seale, Asad , 173. 58 ! 25

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mon Sunni and Shi'a Muslims over time, and the range of conclusions reached by Is lamic scholars (among other considerations) are highly relevant to any exhaustive study of the Alawi political ascent and subsequent retention of power in Syria. Analysis of Alawi religious doctrines and practices would be similarly apropos, but with so little that is positively known by non-Alawi initiates, reasonable discussion should, in my opinion, be largely limited to the effects of the religion's esotericism on historical pro cesses. To do very much more would be an exercise in the practical limitations of conjec ture. This syllogism notwithstanding, scholarly detachment from the question of whether the Alawi religion is truly or sufÞciently Islamic by non-Muslim historians is not strictly observed by some advocatory historians. Seale asserts that most of what western scholars believe to know about Alawi reli gious beliefs is based on "rather shaky foundations." Indeed, few sources are known 59 to be certainly Alawi in origin. Of them, the most commonly referenced are: a mono graph written by Anglican missionary Samuel Lyde, which he claimed to have pur chased from a Christian merchant; and a book written by Sulayman al-Adhana, an Alawi apostate. They were published in 1860 and 1863, respectively. The manuscript in Hyde's possession was intended for Alawi initiates only, but was lost after his death. 60 The only published source for the secrets it contained was Lyde himself, whose descrip Seale, Asad of Syria , 10. 59 Bella Tendler Krieger, "The Rediscovery of Samuel Lyde's Lost Nuayr" Kit# b al-Mashyakha (Manual for 60 Shaykhs)," Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society (Oct 2013): 4, accessed June 27, 2019, http://journals.cam bridge.org/abstract_S135618631300059X ! 26

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tion of the sect was less than generous. Al-Adhana renounced his Alawi religion and 61 was later assassinated for his apostasy. More directly, scholars usually attribute his 62 death as a consequence of his having publicized the inner workings of Alawi ritual and doctrine, the secrecy of which is generally considered to result from centuries of practic ing taqiyya. Taqiyya is a form of "precautionary dissimulation," a "Shi'ite principleÉ according 63 to which the believer must keep his faith secret, while outwardly behaving as if he were one of his opponents." Sunni and Shi'a polemicists alike have lodged accusations of 64 Alawi imposture, especially insofar as any honest person should little difÞculty under standing why an Alawi would, for instance, masquerade as a Shi'a, seeing as how taqiyya would have frequent occasion to safeguard the Alawi's life. Scholars who oth 65 erwise are diametrically opposite each other over the question of Alawi Muslimhood generally agree on the cause for their secretive praxis. As Seale explains, over the centuries [their extreme reverence for ÔAli] and other esoteric beliefs caused them to be denounced by Sunnis as inÞdels deserving death, and in self-defense they became secretive about their religion, adopting, like other extremist Shi'i sects, the doc Samuel Lyde, The Asian Mystery: Illustrated in History, Religion, and Present State of the Ansaireeh or Nu 61 sairis of Syria (London, 1860), p. 221-9. Krieger, The Rediscovery," 5n13. 62 Roxanne L. Euben and Muhammad Qasim Zaman, Princeton Readings in Islamic Thought: Texts and Con 63 texts from al-Banna to Bin Laden (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2009), 393. Yaron Friedman, "Al-Husayn ibn Hamdan al-Khasibi: A Historical Biography of the Founder of the 64 Nusayri-ÔAlawite Sect," Studia Islamica no. 93 (2001): 103, accessed May 18, 2019, https://www.jstor.org/ stable/1596110. Friedman, "Al-Husayn ibn Hamdan al-Khasibi," 111. 65 ! 27

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trine of taqiya , that resort to a prudent duplicity which justiÞed cloaking their true be liefs. 66 Daniel Pipes likewise Þnds easy justiÞcation in the assumed Alawi practice of taqiyya as a necessity for survival as well. He notes the irony in how the defensive mechanisms Alawis adopted to protect themselves from (mainly Sunni) persecution ultimately served to raise them above those who had oppressed them: Taqiya permitted ÔAlawis to blow with the wind. When France ruled, they portrayed themselves as lost Christians. When pan-Arabism was in favor, they became fervent Arabs. More than ten thousand ÔAlawis living in Damascus pretended to be Sunnis in the years before Asad came to power, only revealing their true identities when this be came politically useful. During Asad's presidency, concerted efforts were made to por tray the ÔAlawis as Twelver Shi'is. 67 These examples represent a point of concordance between two historians who have very little else upon which they agree. Even in this, their differences are subtly appar ent. Seale refers to the Alawis as an extremist Shi'a sect. Extremist, along with "hetero dox," are common adjectives used by other historians in this regard, with little to ex plain what makes them "extreme." Regardless, he concludes that "the Nusayris are a schismatic offshoot from mainstream Twelver' Shi'ism." 68 On the other hand, Pipes is unequivocal in his opposition to any possible interpreta tion of the Alawis as an Islamic sect: "It is important to make this point very clear," he Seale, Asad , 8. 66 Pipes, Greater Syria , 162. 67 Seale, Asad , 10. Pipes contends that Asad's opponents "habitually use" Nusayri, whereas supporters 68 use Alawi. Pipes, Alawi Capture, 430. However, Seale uses Nusayri in reference to the sect prior to the French Mandate, which he says is of "recent coinage." Seale, Asad , 9. Hitti states they took the name when the French made the Latakia region a state "under the name Alaouite." Philip K. Hitti, History of Syria In cluding Lebanon and Palestine, (New York; St Martins Press, 1957), 586-7. ! 28

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asserts: "Alawis have never been, and are not now, Muslims." Taking such a forceful 69 stand on an issue for which one might reasonably deduce is not within one's domain of expertise could, in some cases, indicate the presence of a partisan agenda that super sedes one's scholarly integrity. Irrespective of that supposition, the manipulation of sources is especially present in Pipes's work regarding this issue. As the general strikes and violent demonstrations against Asad's rule on the basis of his alleged unacceptability as a non-Muslim, the new President sought legitimization of the Alawi religion as an offshoot of Twelver Shi'ism. The Mufti of Damascus declared Asad himself a "Muslim in good standing," but this was unconvincing to the Sunni protestors, according to Pipes. He says the Alawis' "main defense against those who call them non-Muslims" came from Musa as-Sadr, the leader of Twelver Shi'ism in Lebanon, whom Asad persuaded "to indicate that the ÔAlawis were legitimate Muslims. He did this by calling them Ôbrothers' of his followers." With as weak an endorsement as that, one can easily imagine the Alawi's 70 claim to be a Muslim sect is easily disputed. However, Pipes credits Martin Kramer in his endnotes for this version of events, and what I found there is not as represented. Quoting al-Sadr in full, from Kramer: "Today, those Muslims called Alawis are brothers of those Shi'is called Mutawallis by the mali Daniel Pipes, "The Alawi Capture of Power in Syria," Middle Eastern Studies 25, no. 4 (Oct 1989): 433, 69 accessed May 18, 2019, https://www.jstor.org/stable/4283331. Pipes, Greater Syria , 186. 70 ! 29

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cious." In the same speech, the Shi'i Imam also "indicated," to use Pipes's word, the 71 legitimacy of Turkish Alawis rather more clearly than one might have guessed, stating that "we recognize your Islam." Kramer also quotes al-Sadr's successor Shaykh 72 Muhammad Mahdi Shams al-Din as saying that Alawis and Shi'is "are absolutely indi visible, and they all share the same belief in the Twelve Imams." Lastly, Ayatollah 73 Sayyid Hassan al-Shirazi, younger brother of the Grand Ayatollah Mohammad alHusayni al-Shirazi, actually issued a fatwa that afÞrmed unequivocally the synonymity of Alawis and Shia, which Kramer dictates in brief detail. 74 This invalidates Pipes's assertion that his account "derives largely from Kramer's" work. What makes this especially curious is that Kramer also seems to be of the opin 75 ion that the Alawis are not Muslim. "Such limited endorsement as the Alawis have re ceived, most notably from Sadr," Kramer writes, "has been born of political expediency." What this tells me is that Pipes Þnds it extraordinarily important to dis 76 Martin Kramer, "Syria's Alawis and Shi'ism," in Shi'ism, Resistance, and Revolution , ed. Martin Kramer 71 (Boulder, CO: Westview Press, Inc., 1987), 247. Kramer, "Syria's Alawis," 248. 72 Kramer, "Syria's Alawis," 254n28. 73 Inexplicably, Kramer's narrative of the early push for Shi'i recognition of Alawis as true Muslims places 74 the al-Shirazi fatwa subsequent to al-Sadr's declaration. Yvette Talhamy's admirably neutral historical de tailing of all the fatwas relating to the Alawis provides more speciÞcs, and her sources have al-Shirazi de livering his fatwa a month before Asad produced the Þrst draft of the new Syrian constitution. It is un known to me why Kramer got this rather important chronological detail wrong. Talhamy, "The Fatwa s and the Nusayri/Alawis of Syria," 188. Pipes, Greater Syria , 231n165. 75 Martin Kramer, "Introduction," in Shi'ism, Resistance, and Revolution , ed. Martin Kramer (Boulder, CO: 76 Westview Press, Inc., 1987), 13. ! 30

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prove Alawi assertions of Islamic constancy, so much so that he is willing to misrepre sent the work of an author with whom he agrees but is inadequately militant. Is this in explicable? Not if one considers the damage to the Asad regime's legitimacy if a critical mass of Syrians came to believe the Alawis are not Muslims. Pipes is perhaps not concerned with convincing his readers to see this issue one way or the other so much as he is with proving that the Sunnis never accepted the Alawis as Muslim. "Virtually every discussion of this subject in print reached this conclusion," he contends. His evidence of this claim is meager: a Muslim Brotherhood editorial and an anonymous, undated, indeterminately located Al-Muslimun Þ Suriya wa'l-Irhab anNusayri, 1964-1979. He says "one review of the record" determined that "a majority of 77 Sunni and Shi'i scholars concur that the Nusayris are an apostate, an irreligious sect," and later quotes from "Muslim Brethren writings" attacking the Alawi history of assist ing the enemies of Muslim Arabs." The endnotes reveal that both quotes were found on a single page of the October 1980 issue of al-Mukhtar al-Islami, a monthly periodical that appears to have been sympathetic, if not overtly afÞliated, with the Muslim Brother hood's ofÞcial publications. By poring over the endnotes of the chapter, I was able to 78 deduce that this "review of the record" extended solely to that of the opinion of Abu Hamid al-Ghazali. Earlier in the chapter Pipes writes that al-Ghazali instructed Muslims Pipes, Greater Syria , 186. 77 Pipes, Greater Syria , 231n166-9. 78 ! 31

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of their "duty to kill" Alawis for their apostasy. This anti-Alawi motivation for the as sassins, again, comes from al-Mukhtar al-Islami. 79 What is known about this source? An English language internet search was fruitless, but It was a monthly publication that provided valuable insight into the Islamist under pinnings of the Muslim Brotherhood's political ideology. Abdullah A. Al-Arian explains that because they covered similar subject matter and often expressed solidarity with alDaÔwa 's stances on the issues of the day, al-I'tisam and al-Mukhtar al-Islami have all been mistakenly identiÞed as Muslim Brotherhood publications in various places. In reality, only al-Da'wa represented the ofÞcial Muslimhood position, though others may have shared its view on some matter, going so far as to republish al-Da'wa pieces on occasion. 80 Al-Arian allows Emmanuel Sivan to further the connection. Sivan refers to al-I'tisam and al-Mukhtar al-Islami as " al-Da'wa's Ôsister monthlies,'" showing Pipes to be arguing that 81 the Muslim Brotherhood in the 1970s and early 1980s spoke with voice of all Sunni Mus lims. As of yet I have been unable to locate any English-language source of al-Ghazali making this statement, 79 though other, more recent Islamist groups in Syria have made reference to this statement in some form or other. ISIS, for instance, was partial to Taqi ad-Din Ahmad ibn Taymiyya, who certainly had it out for the Alawis. Pipes introduces Taymiyya as "the still highly inßuential Sunni writer," and quotes his vitriolic condemnations of the Alawis at length. Pipes, Greater Syria , 163. Abdullah$ al-Arian, Answering the Call: Popular Islamic Activism in Sadat's Egypt, (New York: $ Oxford Uni 80 versity Press,$ 2014), 180. Emmanuel Sivan, Radical Islam: Medieval Theology and Modern Politics, (Yale University Press, 1990), 134, 81 quoted in Al-Arian, Answering the Call, 261n17. ! 32

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The Partisans of Asad Zealous campaigning by Pipes for the assignation of non-Muslim status to the Alawis is not enough on its own to label him an anti-Asad propagandist. His singular insistence on Asad having exaggerated his level of poverty as a child does not move the needle much. And then there is the matter of his dichotomy that fails to accurately represent the positions of other scholars whom he considers to be pro-Asad. He professes to sub scribe to a more neutral interpretation of the sectarianism extant in the Ba'th party dur ing Asad's accretion of personal autonomous power, but his position is actually more similar to the supposedly pro-Asad position than its opposing counterpart. Perhaps he is not a partisan and only seeks the truth, where ever he sees it? Revisiting Pipes's "pro-Asad equals non-sectarian" historiographical claim, Pipes says that Jahn F. Devlin "would resist seeing Ôevery domestic disagreement in terms of a Sunni-ÔAlawi clash.' For him, the fact that ÔAlawis reached power was basically acciden tal: ÔThe Ba'th is a secular party, and it is heavy with minorities.'" But this is not what 82 Devlin is arguing whatsoever! When he broaches the subject at all, he does state that "some would translate this fact [the high representation of Alawis in the military] into ÔAlawi domination of Syria and interpret every domestic disagreement in terms of a Sunni-ÔAlawi clash." But in the very next sentence , Devlin does not "resist" such a reading of events, as Pipes says he would. To the contrary, he supports it in certain instances, Pipes, Greater Syria , 174. 82 ! 33

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albeit with notable mildness: "The serious disturbances in Syrian cities over the pro posed constitution in the spring of 1973 could be given that interpretation." This is not 83 followed by any suggestion to the effect that by "could be," Devlin means "it is some thing that exists within the wide realm of possibilities, but not something I would Þnd appropriate." Rather, he brießy expounds upon the logic of why one "could" prove the riots had an underlying sectarian premise but, like every other expert on the subject, wants to establish that sectarianism is not the only factor to consider. And though Devlin does address the heavy minority representation in the Ba'th party, it is far from making an unsophisticated point about the Alawi ascent being "basically accidental." Rather, he is disputing the reverse side of the coin Pipes would later accuse him of embodying. There is no single element at play here; it would be absurd for an expert on the sub ject to assign even a nominally principal factor, much less a chießy dominant one, to the Alawi accession of power. Likewise, the outright dismissal of a prominent and essential feature of Syrian society and politics as irrelevant would be equally as crude, as Devlin quite clearly understood. Throughout his book, Devlin only mentions the Alawis as an identiÞer (but for that one passage in the epilogue). He avoids making bold statements about sectarian issues entirely. Devlin is, in all likelihood, one of those scholars I imag ined in the introduction who Þnds discussing sectarian issues either prudent to avoid or unnecessary to his thesis. Now, it is perhaps reasonable to infer that his neglect of the John F. Devlin, The Ba'th Party: A History from Its Origins in 1966 , (Stanford: Hoover Institution Press, 83 1976), 320. ! 34

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topic could be an indication of a pro-Asad opinionÑ"it's a touchy subject so best not to even talk about it," for example. But making such an inference from the absence of evi dence to the contrary and using it as a major pillar for a theory about the possible moti vations for the dichotomous Alawi representations in the historiography? It raises a few suspicions. Pipes does not hesitate to determine which organization opposed to the Asad regime speaks for the millions of Sunni Muslims throughout the Middle East. The National Al liance for the Liberation of Syria "summed up the Sunni indictment" of Asad, he de clares, when they accused him of sabotaging war efforts against Israel in 1967 and not providing support for the Palestinians in 1970 because of his Þerce antipathy toward both Arabs and Islam. Neither does he hesitate to summarize the suspicion held by most Sunni Arabs of AsadÑand, by extension, the Alawis in generalÑbeing secretly in league with the Israelis, conspiring with the "Zionist enemy" against Muslims, and qui etly preparing an independent Alawi state. And though he acknowledges how incredu lous "outside observers" are regarding such conspiracy theories, Pipes assures his read ers that when it comes to their "Alawi rulersÉ. nothing strikes the Sunnis as too out landish." 84 And yet, he doesn't seem to especially begrudge Asad's rule. Pipes Þnds justiÞca tion for Asad's actions that are consistent with someone whose opprobrium is intended Pipes, Greater Syria , 179-80. 84 ! 35

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toward those who he believes are truly unsympathetic to Israel's continued existence, and he does not believe Asad is such a person. He surmises that Asad's bellicosity against Israel had little to do with any personal opposition to the Jewish state. Instead, political self-preservation was his primary motivation: "While Asad probably cared lit tle about the fate of the Palestinians or control of Jerusalem, he adopted this cause to protect his reputation within Syria." For further exposition on this conclusion, Pipes 85 directs us to his essay in the June 9, 1986 issue of The New Republic , conveniently posted on his website for posterity. There he argues that Asad seeks a Syrian empire consisting of Greater Syria as it was once known, and perpetuating conßict with Israel maintains his leverage against other Arab states and domestic opponents alike. The upshot is that "the Arab-Israeli conßict will continue so long as Hafez al-Assad rules in Damascus." 86 With this growing understanding of why Pipes is stretching his sources beyond recognition, one mystifying inclusion found in Greater Syria makes more sense. He re lates a story that ought to equip the Sunnis with a truly legitimate reason to despise Asad and distrust the Alawis. During the 1982 assault on the Sunni stronghold of Hama, Pipes avers that the Syrian president "took the psychological offensive by hav ing militia groups tear veils off the heads of pious Muslim women." This is an accusa 87 Pipes, Greater Syria , 180. 85 Daniel Pipes, "Syria's Imperial Dream: Foreign Adventures Shore up Assad's Regime," Middle East Fo 86 rum , June 09, 1986, , accessed July 17, 2019, http://www.danielpipes.org/8265/syria-imperial-dream. Pipes, Greater Syria , 182. 87 ! 36

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tion of extraordinarily offensive sectarian hostility against a ubiquitous Islamic practice. For someone whose political viability largely rested on the acceptance of his Islamic bona Þdes , this tactic would be ill-advised, to say the least. Certainly such an assault by Asad on the religious sensibilities of the majority populationÑnot only of the country he rules but of the entire region, and that of his most important political alliesÑwould have been exploited by his enemies to great effect. Pipes provides no source. A thorough search of the internet and multiple scholarly databases turns up no conÞrmation. Perhaps failing to provide a citation was an oversight on Pipes's part. The same ben eÞt of the doubt I cannot accord to Seale. In the section dedicated to the Hama insur gency and its decisive quelling (which Batatu includes in his list of the "best accounts of the 1982 war" ) Seale metes out three citations: one from an interview he conducted 88 with Asad in which recalls that two girls were assassinated in their beds; one for a 89 speciÞc Þgure concerning troop counts; and one that vaguely discloses some of the in dividuals whose accounts of the war he received personally, including the governor of Hama, the "testimony of other citizens," and the equally uninformative "other pub lished sources" but for one which he speciÞes as providing "the guerilla's side of the story." Granted, such sources are absolutely necessary to write effectively about such 90 an event; little enough ofÞcial information is available, much less something preserved Batatu, Syria's Peasantry , 157-60; Pipes, Greater Syria , 378n18. 88 Seale, Asad , 332. 89 Seale, Asad , 513nn24-6. 90 ! 37

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by the government or reported by contemporary newspapers that approximates the truth. To get them Þrsthand is especially rare and of enormous value to later scholars. For that very reason, however, with regard to such a polarizing, hotly remembered, and highly disputed event, I would expect more precise attribution to who said or didn't say what did or didn't happen. I mentioned the dearth of citations in Seale's work earlier. To be precise: over the measure of its 495 pages, Asad of Syria averages 1.3 citations per page. As many as half are from interviews, which is impressive. But only rarely can one be certain what was from an interview. Even more rare does Seale mention that any particular event or quote came from a primary source, a news report, or an interview, and yet he present it all as fact. Unless he audio recorded them, the information from the interviews are un veriÞable. The book is overßowing with unique details and anecdotes. But in numerous instances, after an exhaustive search for clues as to where he received his information, I came up empty-handed. I don't believe much more than a small fraction is veriÞably true, and so this book, so valuable to current historical scholarship on the Middle East, is by any honest standard, effectively useless. It is quite maddening how frequently unveriÞed historical anecdotes that may well be Þctional but support a narrative become historical fact, based on Seale's book alone. Elie Kedourie, founder and editor-in-chief of Middle Eastern Studies, of all people, contributes to this pollution of the historiography. In his book Politics in the Middle East, ! 38

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he describes the assassination of Muhammad Umran, one of Asad's Alawi rivals, soon after his release from prison in 1972. Kedourie quotes Seale to illustrate that Umran's family did not suspect or blame Asad. Seale, of course, provides no source for this event in which he recounts how Umran's grieving son went to Asad for comfort. Kedourie 91 continues on to recount the events leading up to the apparent suicide of the Ishma'ili head of national security and founding member of the secret Military Committee Abd al-Karim al-Jundi. Kedourie relies, as far as I can tell, entirely on Seale's version of events. In that version, Jundi is quite the villain. He was "not quite normal in his makeup [with] a penchant for cruelty" and was responsible for "greatly expand[ing] the state's apparatus of repressionÉ. Arbitrary arrests became frequent, and tales of torture, not hitherto common in Syria, contributed to an atmosphere of terror." Asad learned of an assassination plot, and when Jundi found himself cornered by the Asad faction, he allegedly shot himself in the head. This entire passage is Þlled with dramatic details of 92 a thwarted assassin's interrogation, a clever plot to trap the antagonist, and a hero who, upon learning that his once secret compatriot but now mortal enemy had killed himself, cried tears of anguish. This last detail Seale says "was reported on good authority." It is a detail Kedourie Þnds relevant enough to repeat in his version. None of it is accom 93 panied by a single citation by Seale. " Kedourie, Politics in the Middle East , 315. 91 Seale, Asad , 150-2. 92 Kedourie, Politics in the Middle East , 316. 93 ! 39

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CHAPTER V Conclusion Israel does appear to be the crux of the matter with Patrick Seale. He may have per sonally liked Asad, he may have believed his presidency was most beneÞcent to Syria's well-being, he may have had strong convictions that the Alawi's were deÞnitely Mus lims and deserved to be respected as such. He may indeed have been completely correct on all those things as well. It is relevant that he also most certainly loathed the Israelis. To what degree this potent underlying prejudice against one side of an ongoing conßict corrupted his methodology when researching and writing about that very conßict is impossible to say, but examples of major lapses in his scholarly discipline abound. I present three examples: 1. During the escalation of tensions leading up to the Six-Day War between Israel and Egypt, Syria, and Jordan, Gamal Nasser, the president of Egypt, closed the Straits of Tiran to Israeli shipping, despite clear and repeated messages by the Israelis that this would be seen as an act of war. Seale freely admits that Nasser's closing of the straits was an internationally recognized c asus belli but insists that Israel's sanguinary refusal to engage in diplomatic resolutions led to the preemp tive destruction of Egypt's air forceÑby any objective measure a brilliant strate gic move, for which Nasser's failure to anticipate had, according to Seale, only one viable explanation: In spite of Israel's clear declarations of the consequences, ! 40

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Nasser's own deÞant statements, and his entrenchment of Egyptian forces on the Sinai, in his mind war was a "remote possibility." Nasser merely wanted "to frighten Israel into prudence." Using Egypt's military to effect the very thing Is rael warned would be an offensive military act requiring a defensive response in kind (and, according to Seale, the international community agreed) was only an attempt to "regain by diplomacy what had been taken by force," because "in 94 contrast to Israeli eagerness, Arab governments neither wanted war nor were ready for it." Seale argues that Israeli ofÞcials grossly inßated the threat of Egyptian aggression and hid the truth from its citizens so as to secure public support for the initiation of active hostilities. According to an anonymous former Israeli intelligence ofÞcial, Israeli generals were "bent on war" and "barely able to restrain themselves." In short, although Nasser's provocation was, in Seale's own estimation, an absolute and internationally recognized justiÞcation for mili tary retaliation, the Israelis, by engaging in "one of the most extensive and re markable exercises in psychological warfare ever attempted," were the aggres sors who initiated a needless war. 95 2. The day after Israel invaded Lebanon in 1982, Prime Minister Menachem Begin pleaded with Asad not to have his soldiers engage with Israeli solders in Lebanon to avoid an escalation of violence, but "these assurances and appeals Seale, Asad , 131. 94 Seale, Asad , 136-7, 503n30. 95 ! 41

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were a ruse intended to lull Asas into a false sense of security." Seale's evidence is the Israelis' superior military strategy and initiative: they preemptively dis abled Syrian radar systems and were maneuvering into positions of strength to overwhelm any resistance. 96 3. Finally, a simple quote for which context, even if I were inappropriately separat ing it from, could not possibly matter: "[RaÞ] Eitan's loathing for the Palestinians and eagerness to kill them were even greater than [Ariel] Sharon's." 97 Of course, all of these things could be true. But without evidence, Seale is projecting onto his subjects the worst possible motives. Throughout his book, Jews are acquisitive, deceptive, murderous, genocidal. He even argues that Israel was, to some degree, re sponsible for Saddam Hussein's decision to invade Iran, inasmuch as the intelligence he received indicating Iran's military weakness was, in part, provided by the United States and Iranian exiles. The latter had ties to Israel, and the United States had lost most of its intelligence assets after the 1979 revolution. Since it "was natural that Washington should turn for help to its Israeli ally," Seale reasons, Israel "very probably" provided false information to encourage war between Iraq in Iran. 98 Seale, Asad , 379. 96 Seale, Asad , 377. 97 Seale, Asad , 361-2. 98 ! 42

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In his review of Asad of Syria, Pipes accuses Seale of "obsequiously swallow[ing] every lie put out by the hacks in Damascus, accepting even the claim that Nizar al-Hin dawi, the man who tried to blow up an El Al plane in 1986, was a double agent con trolled by Israel." Despite Pipes's inßammatory language, Seale did advocate for the 99 conspiracy theory, writing that "there is some evidence to suggest that Hindawi [and his brother] were double agents who worked for Syria while being controlled by Israel." This would be an incredible story and I'd love to know more about it, but Seale didn't seem to think it worth detailing any further or even directing his readers to further reading. But whatever evidence exists for suggesting a double-agent intrigue, it was convincing enough for him to conclude that "Hindawi was most probably an agent provocateur whose mission was to entrap Syrian intelligence services so as to smear Syria as a terrorist state." The only evidence Seale does deem necessary to provide in 100 support of this theory is an article by Ian Black in the November 15, 1986 issue of The Guardian, which leads with the news that "Israeli intelligence received an advance gen eral warning" from an unnamed source of a possible plot to blow up an Israeli airliner. The rest of the article however, does not support Israel's involvement whatsoever. To Daniel Pipes, "Asad of Syria: The Struggle for the Middle East," danielpipes.org, accessed May 29, 2019. 99 http://www.danielpipes.org/31/asad-of-syria-the-struggle-for-the-middle-east. Seale, Asad , 480. 100 ! 43

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the contrary, Black designates theories of the Mossad having masterminded the affair as "extreme." 101 Though maybe it should, it doesn't surprise me that Pipes did not investigate and comment on Seale's endemic misemployment of his sources. In his assault on Seale, he does question why "a university press [would] consent to publish so obvious a white wash," but attributes it to political bias on the part of Columbia University. Perhaps he knows that attacking a fellow scholar's sources might open him up to equally justiÞable criticisms and allegations of being a partisan propagandist? " Ian Black, "Israelis Were Tipped Off About El Al Bomb Plot,"$ The Guardian (London,$ November 15, 101 1986), $ accessed May 30, 2019, https://advance-lexis-com.aurarialibrary.idm.oclc.org/api/document?col lection=news&id=urn:contentItem:40GH-GY00-00VY-80HR-00000-00&context=1516831. ! 44

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Hurewitz, J.C. Middle East Politics: The Military Dimension. New York: Frederick A. Praeger, Publishers, 1969. Kedourie, Elie. Politics in the Middle East. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1992. Kramer, Martin, ed. Shi'ism, Resistance, and Revolution . Boulder, CO: Westview Press, Inc., 1987. Krieger, Bella Tendler. "The Rediscovery of Samuel Lyde's Lost Nuayr" Kit# b alMashyakha (Manual for Shaykhs)." Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society (Oct 2013): 1-16. Accessed June 27, 2019. http://journals.cambridge.org/abstract_S135618631300059X. Lyde, Samuel. The Asian Mystery: Illustrated in History, Religion, and Present State of the Ansaireeh or Nusairis of Syria. London, 1860. Ma'oz, Moshe. "Attempts at Creating a Political Community in Modern Syria." Middle Eastern Journal 26 no. 4 (Autumn 1972): 403. Accessed June 6, 2019, https://www.js tor.org/stable/4324985. Pipes, Daniel. "The Alawi Capture of Power in Syria." Middle Eastern Studies 25 no. 4 (Oct 1989): 429-50. Accessed May 18, 2019, https://www.jstor.org/stable/4283331. Pipes, Daniel. "Asad of Syria: The Struggle for the Middle East." Middle East Forum. Ac cessed May 29, 2019. http://www.danielpipes.org/31/asad-of-syria-the-struggle-forthe-middle-east. Pipes, Daniel. Greater Syria: The History of an Ambition. New York: Oxford University Press, 1990. Pipes, Daniel. "Syria's Imperial Dream: Foreign Adventures Shore up Assad's Regime." Middle East Forum . June 09, 1986. Accessed July 17, 2019. http://www.danielpipes.org/ 8265/syria-imperial-dream. Seale, Patrick. Asad of Syria: The Struggle for the Middle East. Berkeley: University of Cali fornia Press, 1988. Seale, Patrick. The Struggle for Syria: A Study of Post-War Arab Politics 1945-1958. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1987. ! 46

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Sivan, Emmanuel. Radical Islam: Medieval Theology and Modern Politics. Yale University Press, 1990. Quoted in Al-Arian, Answering the Call: Popular Islamic Activism in Sadat's Egypt. New York: $ Oxford University Press,$ 2014. Talhamy, Yvette. "The Fatwa s and the Nusayri/Alawis of Syria." Middle Eastern Studies 46 no. 2 (March 2010): 188. Accessed May 18, 2019. https://www.jstor.org/stable/ 20720657. Van Dam, Nikolaos. The Struggle for Power in Syria: Sectarianism, Regionalism and Tribal ism in Politics, 1961-1978. London: Croom Helm Ltd, 1979. Van Dusen, Michael H. "Political Integration and Regionalism in Syria." Middle East Journal 26 no. 2 (Spring 1972): 123-36. Accessed June 6, 2019. https://www.jstor.org/sta ble/4324906. Weulersse, Jacques. Paysans de Syrie et du Proche-Orient. Paris: ƒditions Gallimard, 1946. ! 47