The Syrian conflict: prologue

CC Image courtesy of FreedomHouse on Flickr

CC Image courtesy of FreedomHouse on Flickr

For some time now Syria has been dominated by an autocratic one party state headed by the al Assad family. How did this family come to rule Syria?

Al Jazeera has published a documentary on the website of Al Jazeera English covering the years leading to the rule of Bashar al Assad. The documentary sheds light on the rise of Hafaz al Assad, Bashar’s father, and tells how he slowly rose through the ranks of the Syrian Baath party to eventually claim power for himself.

The Arab Socialist Baath party was created to counter the Syrian communist party. The Baath party staged a coupe on the 8th of March 1963 being inspired by the Baath revolution in Iraq on February the 8th in 1963.

The documentary shows how slowly but steadily Hafaz rises to a top position in the Baath party winning popularity and loyalty from within the army. Eventually it was this strong loyalty that gave Hafaz the opportunity to get his opponents and the civilian branch of the Baath party out of the way, claiming for himself the absolute power over Syria and its population.

The documentary also shows opposition to the oppression experienced by many Syrians is not a new phenomenon. Neither is the violent reaction the Syrian government gives when these cases. the documentary made me wonder: Why the need for all this power? What is the need? It seems in the case of Hafaz he just wanted power for the sake of power. And he didn’t seem to shun for extreme violence towards his own population to obtain and this power. Or maybe this is a sectarian conflict and is the al Assad family clinging to power to keep its own sect in a privileged position. Maybe Iran benefits from keeping the control over Syria from the Sunni majority. Either way it’s a great documentary and I recommend watching it.

Link to the documentary:


  1. Interesting, do you know if there is still some kind of communist party in Syria?

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