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The Route of Syria and Turkmens

The recent events in Syria are a revolt, which is comprised of the broad historical background and a social structure that emerged out of the so-called ‘Arab Spring’. In order to understand the full extent of these events, the process of establishment of the Syrian Government, ethnic diversity and the structure of the state have to be examined. Turkey is interested in the Syrian territory, both in terms of the border neighborhood and of the ethnic groups. Syria is a country that had been ruled for centuries by the Seljuk and Ottoman Turks. Today, it is also a border country of the Turkish Republic, with which it shares its longest border. In addition, the Kurdish problem is also of interest to Turkey, which is one of the country’s current problems, especially in terms of the Turkmen[1] population. In Syria, there are the Arab Alevis, Sunni Arabs, Kurds, Druze, Armenians and Turkmens, which can be considered as a relic inherited from the Ottoman Empire, which have had a plurality under Assad’s regime.

Seen in the light of history of Imperialism, the uncertain route of Syria for the moment is an indicator of a new ethnic based structure. However, if the massacres are taken into account, it is obvious that this process will be really bloody.  In order to understand Syria’s current path, the political structure and the contemporary history of Syria have to be analyzed. The foundation of the current Syrian structure is based on the French mandate after the First World War. During the French Mandate period, for administrative purposes, France divided the country into ethnically based regions and granted them autonomy.  When France desisted, it constituted an army based on these ethnic grounds. The Baath Party cadres, which rule Syria today, emerged based on the organizational principals of this army. During the independence struggle of Syria, the Arab Alevis were in power, which sowed the seeds of what is called as Ba’athism. The ‘Levant Special Force’ founded by the French in Syria was created by the Arab Alevis, the Druze, and a small group of the Sunni population living in rural areas. Searching for a common identity in this army had been the common denominator of Ba’athism.

Emre Kartal, postgraduate student at the Department of International Relations at Yıldırım Beyazıt University

Kartal, Emre (October, 2012), “The Route of Syria and Turkmens”, Vol. I, Issue 8, pp.18-19, Centre for Policy Analysis and Research on Turkey (ResearchTurkey), London, ResearchTurkey. (

[1] The Syrian Turkmen are an ethnic minority of Oghuz Turkish descent living in Syria (e.n.)

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