Syria (Arabic: سوريا Sūriyā), officially the Syrian Arab Republic (Arabic: الجمهورية العربية السورية al-Jumhūrīyah al-ʻArabīyah as-Sūrīyah), is a country in Western Asia, bordering Lebanon and the Mediterranean Sea to the west, Turkey to the north, Iraq to the east, Jordan to the south, and Israel to the southwest. A country of fertile plains, high mountains, and deserts, Syria is home to diverse ethnic and religious groups, including Syrian Arabs, Greeks, Armenians, Assyrians, Kurds, Circassians, Mandeans and Turks. Religious groups include Sunnis, Christians, Alawites, Druze, Isma'ilis, Mandeans, Shiites, Salafis, Yazidis, and Jews. Sunni make up the largest religious group in Syria.
Syria is a unitary republic consisting of 14 governorates and is the only country that politically espouses Ba'athism. It is a member of one international organization other than the United Nations, the Non-Aligned Movement; it has become suspended from the Arab League on November 2011 and the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation, and self-suspended from the Union for the Mediterranean.
The Ayyubid dynasty (Arabic: الأيوبيون al-ʾAyyūbiyyūn) was a Muslim dynasty of Kurdish origin, founded by Saladin and centered in Egypt. The dynasty ruled much of the Middle East during the 12th and 13th centuries CE. The Ayyubid family, under the brothers Ayyub and Shirkuh, originally served as soldiers for the Zengids until they supplanted them under Saladin, Ayyub's son. In 1174, Saladin proclaimed himself Sultan following the death of Nur al-Din. The Ayyubids spent the next decade launching conquests throughout the region and by 1183, the territories under their control included Egypt, Syria, northern Mesopotamia, Hejaz, Yemen, and the North African coast up to the borders of modern-day Tunisia. Most of the Kingdom of Jerusalem and beyond Jordan River fell to Saladin after his victory at the Battle of Hattin in 1187. However, the Crusaders regained control of Palestine's coastline in the 1190s.
After the death of Saladin, his sons contested control over the sultanate, but Saladin's brother al-Adil eventually established himself as Sultan in 1200. In the 1230s, the Ayyubid rulers of Syria attempted to assert their independence from Egypt and remained divided until Egyptian Sultan as-Salih Ayyub restored Ayyubid unity by taking over most of Syria, excluding Aleppo, by 1247. By then, local Muslim dynasties had driven out the Ayyubids from Yemen, the Hejaz, and parts of Mesopotamia. After repelling a Crusader invasion of the Nile Delta, as-Salih Ayyub's Mamluk generals overthrew al-Mu'azzam Turanshah who succeeded Ayyub as Sultan after his death in 1250. This effectively ended Ayyubid power in Egypt and a number of attempts by the rulers of Syria, led by an-Nasir Yusuf of Aleppo, to recover it failed. In 1260, the Mongols sacked Aleppo and wrested control of what remained of the Ayyubid territories soon after. The Mamluks, who forced out the Mongols after the destruction of the Ayyubid dynasty, maintained the Ayyubid principality of Hama until deposing its last ruler in 1341.
During their relatively short tenure, the Ayyubids ushered in an era of economic prosperity in the lands they ruled and the facilities and patronage provided by the Ayyubids led to a resurgence in intellectual activity in the Islamic world. This period was also marked by an Ayyubid process of vigorously strengthening Sunni Muslim dominance in the region by constructing numerous madrasas (schools) in their major cities.
Did you know...
- ... that the first settlers of Tell Halula brought fully domesticated forms of wheat, barley and flax from somewhere else, circa 7750 BC?
The Citadel of Aleppo is an immense fortification in the centre of the old city of 'Aleppo, northern Syria. It is considered to be one of the oldest and largest castles in the world. Usage of the Citadel hill dates back at least to the middle of the 3rd millennium BC. Subsequently occupied by many civilizations including the Greeks, Byzantines, Ayyubids and Mamluks, the majority of the construction as it stands today is thought to originate from the Ayyubid period. A great deal of conservation work has taken place over the last seven years by the Aga Khan Trust for Culture in collaboration with the Syrian Directorate General of Antiquities.
The recently discovered Temple of the Ancient Storm God, Hadda, dates use of the hill to the middle of the 3rd millennium BC, and it is referred to in Cuniform texts from Ebla and Mari refer to the temple. The prophet Abraham is said to have milked his sheep on the citadel hill. After the decline of the Neo-Hittite state centred in Aleppo, the Assyrians dominated the area (4-8th century BC), followed by the Neo-Babylonians and the Persians (539-333).
see also : Crac des Chevaliers
Shukri al-Quwatli (1891, Damascus, Syria — June 30, 1967, Beirut, Lebanon) (Arabic: شكري القوتلي) was the president of Syria from 1943-1949 and 1955-1958.
Quwatli entered Syrian politics in the 1930s as a member of the National Bloc, a coalition of Arab parties that led the opposition to French rule. As a young man, he had been involved in al-Fatat, an underground opposition group in Ottoman Syria, and been arrested for his activities in 1916. In jail, because of harsh torture, he feared that he would tell the names of his comrades in al-Fatat. To avoid this he slit open his wrist in a suicide attempt but was saved at the last minute by his friend and colleague Dr Ahmad Qadri. He was released when World War I ended to become a civil servant in post-Ottoman era of King Faisal I. After Atassi resigned the presidency in 1939 over objections to continued French intervention in Syria, several years of (WWII-related) instability and direct French and British military ruled followed. The National Bloc remained the dominant expression of Syrian nationalism, and, when elections were again held in 1943, the bloc helped elect Quwatli president. His major preoccupation was to conclude a treaty with France, which had exercised control over Syria for more than two decades. This was accomplished with British help, and by 1946 all foreign troops had evacuated. In 1947 Quwatli enacted an amendment that removed a one-term limit from the constitution, and he was reelected in 1948.
see also : Nizar Qabbani, Hafez al-Assad
Philip Hitti : "the scholars consider Syria as the teacher for the human characteristics,"
Andrea Parrout : "each civilized person in the world should admit that he has two home countries: the one he was born in, and Syria."
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