New Release: Transformation of Syrian Elites' Attitudes Towards Lebanon

Ahram Online, Wednesday 3 Oct 2012

Syrian writer Shamsuddin Al-Kilani traces Syrian-Lebanese relations from the time of the French mandate

Book Cover

Yahowlat fi mawakef el-nokhab el-sorya tegah lobnan (Transformation of Syrian Elites' Attitudes Towards Lebanon): Shamsuddin Al-Kilani, Doha:ACPRS. 2012. 399pp.

This recent release by the Arab Center for Research and Policy Studies is a multi-track account of how the political attitudes of Syria's elites towards the existence of Lebanon developed through the period of the French mandate up until the Syrian revolution in early 2011.

Syrian author Shamsuddin Al-Kilani discusses a number of formative points of transformation that affected these attitudes, such as the establishment of the Israeli state in 1948, the Egyptian revolution of July 1952, the rise of the Syrian Baath Party to power in 1963, and the outbreak of the Lebanese Civil War in April of 1975. Al-Kilani examines how shifting political and intellectual trends within Syria impacted the elites' attitudes towards Lebanon over the course of 90 years.

The book also looks at how the conceptualisation of Syrian-Lebanese relations among the Syrian bourgeoisie changed with the beginning of Arab nationalism during the Ottoman era, through the period of the rule of King Faisal and the French Mandate, before taking into account how these attitudes changed during the interlude of the United Arab Republic (1958-1961), which saw the merging of Syria and Egypt into one state, followed by the dissolution of the Republic and the beginning of the rise of the Baath.

Throughout these periods, the author notes, major shifts occurred in the political groups that came to prominence. First came the Young Arabs, which made way for progressive nationalist groups, manifested by the birth of the National Action League in 1933. This was followed by a mushrooming of authoritarian-progressive groupings, which called for the unification of Syria and Lebanon, e.g. the Syrian Social National Party, or SSNP. The book closes with a look at the changes brought in by the Syrian uprising of 2011.

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