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17

The most important thing for an outsider to understand is that Syria, while ethnically nearly 90% Arab, is made up of a rather large amount of religious minorities. Like most middle-east states, its borders were set up by Europeans during the colonial era, and really paid no heed to any actual cultural boundaries. Only about half the population is Sunni ...


12

To address Mark C Wallace's point, being ethnically Arabic and speaking the Arabic language are not the same thing. Arabic people existed long before the language we now call Arabic developed, albeit we tend not to refer to them as Arabic until the era of the spread of Islam and the Arabic language. This is not a detailed answer, and it relies on Wikipedia (...


12

While other posters have addressed the issue in regards to the wider region, none have addressed the issue in regards to the Syrian citizens. They have mentioned the different Syrian religions so I won't go back over that. The current Syrian ruling family (I am referring to the Assads, not the Baath) is known to be a brutal torturer. Early in the uprising ...


10

Reasons for Arabs starting the war during Ramadan: Arab attacked Israel on October 6, 1973. That year, October was the month of Ramadan. But the main reason for attack on this day was Yom Kippur festival, which was on this day. Yom Kippur also known as Day of Atonement, is the holiest day of the year for the Jewish people. Arabs were defeated in all ...


9

This is an interesting question. With the benefit of hindsight, "Russia" wasn't in a position to help Saddam Hussein in 1990-91 because the Soviet was about to implode. The reason it probably didn't help Hussein in 2003 was that they didn't believe that President George Bush Jr. would invade Iraq; his father, Bush Sr., had declined to march on Baghdad ...


8

The Cold War did involve direct military conflict between the super powers. Those confrontations were just contained and covert and in many cases are still not publicly acknowledged. From what we do know about such direct cold war confrontations, mostly coming from Russia David French's numbers are pretty close. However, given many such actions are still ...


8

What counts as evidence? The internet is full of stories about him. But much relies on news outlets and personal accounts of spies or people fed by such agents. It's all fishy. When did he die? Multiple accounts disagree. The quasi "official story" now relies on the exact group of murky sources. Only biology tries to assure us that he probably does not live ...


8

The first thing that came to my mind: Russia still holds a naval base located in Syria, which is of a special strategic value, as is Russia's the only one in the Mediterranean region. Well, how did Russians acquire it? The desire for warm water ports, suggested by the commenters, dates back to Ivan the Terrible and Livonian War. It was satisfied after ...


7

This is the most prominent of the inscriptions on the Grand Colonnade in Palmyra. It is a bilingual inscription dedicating the column in Greek and Palmyrene. The Greek portion of the inscription is as follows: ΗΒΟΥΛΗΚΑΙΟΔΗΜΟΣ ΙΟΥΛΙΟΝΑΥΡΗΛΙΟΝΖΗΝΟΒΙΟΝ ΤΟΥΚΑΙΖΑΒΔΙΛΑΝΔΙϚΜΑΛ ΧΟΥΤΟΥΝΑΣΣΟΥΜΟΥΣΤΡΑΤΗ ΓΗΣΑΝΤΑΕΝΕΠΙΔΗΜΙΑΘΕΟΥ ΑΛΕΞΑΝΔΡΟΥΚΑΙΥΠΗΝΡΕΤΗ ...


7

Syria is controlled by Alawites who follow a specialized, somewhat secretive religion. This religion is often described as "shiite muslim," but that is a gross oversimplification. The Alawites have friendly, although sometimes uneasy, association with not only the Maronites, but with other Christian and non-Christian minorities including the Druse and others....


6

Found information in this JSOR article*: Georges Clemenceau ceeded Mosul during a Sunday conversation at the French Embassy in London on December 1st 1918. Possibly for one or more of these three reasons: Removal of a source of friction with their British ally, as France's primary goals at the time were Eurocentric. To forestall a complete revision of the ...


6

Not to dismiss political philosophy, but pragmatism drives most behaviors in goverment- Russia's only warm-water port (also the only one in the Mediterranean) is in Syria. It just got re-built. Russia sells about $5 Billion worth of arms to Syria every year. Syria willingly obliges Russia's pressure to confront Israel when called to do so. "Helping Saddam" ...


6

Russia was the ally of the socialist Baath party in Iraq, of which Saddam was a member. However, the Iran-Iraq war changed this allegiance. Since during the cold-war there were really only two poles (in military, economic, and ideological power), most countries allied with one or the other. This ultimately became a binary decision, as allying with one ...


6

Because they had just lost the battle of Masts to Muawiya bin abu sufyan in the previous year (655). The emperor Constans II was almost killed. And notice, when the pressure from the East was really weaker, in 668, he fought the Slavs to the North. And only in 659 "he campaigned far to the east, taking advantage of a rebellion against the Caliphate in ...


5

PzKpfw V "Panther" Tank 1944. Source: Wikipedia Short Answer As Samuel Russel pointed out, the Panzer Mark V was a complex and unreliable platform, requiring serious support logistics. This made it less desirable. And there is second factor to consider — availability. Post-WWII there were not as many surviving / serviceable Panthers as there were PzKpfw ...


5

Because the weapons system ill-suited the need: Perhaps the most telling observation of the French experiences with the Panther is their response to concerns of Chinese armor in Indo-China.  When the French government became aware that the Chinese communists had received Soviet-made IS tanks, they concluded that their own forces in French Indo-China (now ...


5

The Roman Empire had extended beyond the Euphrates since the second century CE. The Roman province of Mesopotamia had been established by the Emperor Septimius Severus in c 198 CE. (Technically, one might argue that the province was re-established by Septimius Severus, since an earlier province had been established by Trajan, before being given up by his ...


4

The dynamics of the Cold War were such that every country outside of the Superpowers were strongly encouraged to take sides. If you were geographically close to one of them, you often didn't have a lot of choice who that was. However, this opened oppertunity for the less ideologically rigid (and less scrupulous) to work both sides off each other to obtain ...


4

I like the other answer by TED and I upvoted it. But there are things that can be added. First, Syria is the last country in the Muslim world that nominally declares itself "socialist". The other two, Libya and Iraq has been already invaded by the United States and their governments overthrown, so currently only Syria is remaining on the list. In addition ...


4

Wikipedia seems to be saying that that entire area up to the Euphrates is considered part of Syria (or "Greater Syria" if you prefer). You are correct that the English name for this particular desert (and only that desert), is "The Syrian Desert". Historically anywhere that is mostly uninhabited is going to have fairly vague political boundaries. If there's ...


4

I am no expert on the topic, but I know Arabic and I have access to sources in Arabic (but disclaimer, I am a Sunni Muslim, so my sources are "Wahhabist" sources, and I do not agree with that misleading term "Wahhabism", but just you would understand). From Al Alukah Website, an author called Shareef AbdulAziz Al-Zuhairi wrote: "The Sad Ending: The new ...


4

Other than Suleyman's notorious short temper and tendency to keep grudges against people who caused offence whether real or imaginary, With further reading, it looks like that It wasn't Suleyman that the Generals personally disliked, rather his alliances. For context, Umayyads themselves were Adnanite Arabs (Qaysids) but Princes and Caliphs often allied ...


3

SHORT ANSWER In general, people in Palmyra dressed either in the Parthian style or the Greco-Roman style; sometimes these styles were mixed. DETAILED ANSWER An important trading centre which derived much of its wealth from the Silk Road, Palmyra was a multi-cultural city, influenced by both east (especially Iran) and west (Greece and Rome). This is ...


3

The Maronites were themselves divided and some elite families engaged in Mafia style gang-wars to control valuable smuggling routes. Suleiman Frangieh - not only a notorious Maronite war-lord and Gang Boss, but also a President of Lebanon, had become close friends with the Assads (who took control of Syria). He invited the Syrians in to Lebanon. His son was ...


2

If we speak about the second Iraq war, Russia dealt with the case of Iraq the same way as it dealt with Syria. They opposed the invasion and did not allow the Iraq invasion in the Security Council, but the USA just bypassed the SC. Russia had no power and/or willingness to prevent the Iraq invasion by military means as this would mean a direct military ...


2

As said by bhau, the main impetus for the day of the attack was to coincide with a religious festival of the Israeli side, for advantage. In my reading on this war, the issue of Ramadan did not come up as a significant factor, nor did the Arab side show signs that would indicate severe supply or troop quality issues. The initial attacks, especially on the ...


1

Off the top of my head, things to learn in order to understand the pretext of the current Syrian civil war: Religions: Sunni Islam Alawi Islam Christianity Druze Ethnicity: Arab Kurds Palestinians Borders Formation: Sykes-Picot Agreement Arab-Israeli war of 1948 Arab-Israeli war of 1967 Politics: Baath-ism Hafiz el Assad's regime and civil oppression ...


1

Syria is one of the few places in which Russian technology is field tested against Western technology on a regular basis. For instance, other than North Korea, Syria has the most advanced anti-aircraft systems in the world. This is often put to the test with Israeli jets. In 2007 I think an Israeli jet did manage to penetrate the air defences, and just a few ...


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