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Maysaloon, Maysalun: The battle for independence of Syria, the symbol, the author…

The battle of Maysalun, 12 miles to the west of Damascus, witnessed the confrontation of a regrouped disbanded Syrian army against the well-equipped armies of French General Gouraud on 24 July 1920.

Certain of his own death, Yusuf al-‘Azmah left Damascus with his troops and headed for Maysalun. Al-‘Azmah was killed in the fighting, and the French forces entered Damascus on 25 July 1920.

Maysalun is the symbol of Syrian resistance against the French mandated power to occupy the country.  Without Maysalun, the new Syrians, dusting off 5 century old of Ottoman domination, would have lost their rights, pride and dignity for an independent State.

For Syrians, Yusuf al-‘Azmah is a national hero and an inspiration. His statue stands in a major square in central Damascus, with streets and schools named in his honor in cities all over Syria. (See note 1)

Five years later, Syria was in upheaval and the French troops had to commit mass extermination and bombed Damascus for months between 1924-26. (See links in note 2). The French troops were forced to retreats in their barracks.

And now for the author Maysaloon. Mind you that this name is given to women.

Maysaloon posted this July 31, 2013 on Cynical Idealism (with minor editing):

A Rant for Syria

What a week it has been. The Khaldiyeh district in Homs was overrun by Assad’s government army, the Syrian rebels are in disarray, Syrian women forced to offer “survival sex” in Lebanon, and fatwas in Aleppo banning the croissant.

I have to say that I am impressed with the historical knowledge and zealousness of whoever thought that one up, the croissant becoming a symbol of the second defeat of the Ottomans at the gates of Vienna. The people there were so jubilant at this victory that an enterprising baker came up with the idea of the “croissant” after seeing the crescents of the Ottomans.

(The people in Vienna were dying of thirst and famine after months of siege. The weather was terrible and it never ceased raining, downpour rain, for an entire month. The Ottoman army was not equipped for this weather and lengthy siege and was about to retreat. A Polish General suddenly showed up to rescue Vienna and the Ottoman army retreat haphazardly.)

In all fairness, the Ottomans did give Europe the inspiration for cappuccinos in return, so we really should call it even. But that hasn’t fazed the hapless zealots who seem intent on righting every historic wrong of the past 400 years.

I don’t really understand how right it is that the Ottomans were trying to conquer Vienna in the first place.  I guess if the Ottomans had lost that is supposed to be a bad thing, and since they were Muslims and we are Muslims then that means we lost at Vienna, right?

This is all such a farce, current Syria is such a farce. Has anybody looked at Bashar al Assad?

What makes me feel like crying is that anybody would think this person is a leader, let alone inspirational. He sits there and pretends to be Mr Big Man in his expensive suits, and I bet you those suits weren’t even tailored by a Syrian – even though Syrians are probably the best tailors in the world, and barbers too (it’s true).

His adoring fans celebrate a great “victory” in Homs, as they did in Qusair, and pretend as if they have something to be proud of. Have they even seen what those two places look like now?

For goodness’ sake, any more victories and there won’t be a country left to rebuild.

They don’t listen or see, they just tell us they feel “sad”. And we have to listen to their constant drone about how “arming” the revolution was a mistake and a betrayal. Their shooting the jaws off adolescent boys wasn’t reason enough for these jingoistic Assad fans.

After all what would people say if they saw Syrians as nothing more than a dysfunctional and inbred family? And how embarrassing would it be for young Hafez and his Acton mummy to shop in London and pretend to be normal if everybody knew that they came from a country that was as unfashionable and icky as Afghanistan.

No, weaponizing this conflict was a big mistake, you hear me? And all you people who supported this revolution should be ashamed of yourselves.

Think how embarrassed you’ve made Bashar Assad in front of the world. After all everybody knows that even though his allies are Iran and Russia what he and his wife really want is to get “in” with the West. It’s just like with the Ottomans really.

They tried to invade Europe, then tried to join it, and all they ever wanted was to be Europeans. But what did the Ottomans get? Croissants thrown right back in their face. Oh the agony.

Besides, all this revolutionary business distracts us from our sacred mission, Palestine. The rebels are part of a global conspiracy but at the same time we are one and the same, family. You understand.

On the radio we have alternating narratives. One narrative wishes to kill these people and squash them like cockroaches. The catchphrases on fascist Assad radio channels like Sham FM is that “God willing we are going to make Syria better than it was. We are going to take it back”.

Take it back from whom exactly? And who do you mean by “we”? Oh, yes, “we” is anybody who worships that lame duck you call a president, the one whose only accomplishment in life was to be the son of Hafez Assad. At least that dictator fought his way to power – not that that would ever wipe away his crime in Hama (1982) of course.

The other narrative on those radio channels is that these people we are fighting are “our brothers” and that they can be reasoned with to put their weapons down and “reconcile”.

We’ll all sit down around the fire in a bedouin camp, the elders will talk of great things and nod their heads as they drink the bitter coffee, and we will magnanimously forgo the wrongs of the past and agree to unite our ranks once again.

We’ll just blame this on the Jews – who are everywhere apparently and had planned this entire Arab Spring just after writing the Protocols of the Elders of Zion.

People think I’m joking, but we do have Syrians in Syria who believe this stuff. I would know as I’ve met some of them – in fact some of them are even family. That’s what happens to a nation that is cut off from the outside world and stops reading and asking questions. It becomes inbred and stupid.

This is the Syria that Assad is trying to defend, because it is the only Syria he can rule over indefinitely. Anything else and people start prodding and poking, sticking their noses in all sorts of things such as elections, free associations, books and other such dangerous and seditious activities.

I’m tired now and I’ve had enough of writing. The only thing I found remotely inspirational and interesting this week was that Youtube video of a young Syrian officer who decided to put his weapon down and actually speak to Syrians instead of killing them. He’s dead, apparently he was killed a few months ago, and now all the pro-Assadists have mental erections because they finally found somebody in their ranks who wasn’t an animal.

That’s how it always is in Syria, we never hear of good news until it’s too late.

Note 1:
Yusuf al-‘Azmah (Arabic: يوسف العظمة‎, ALA-LCYūsuf al-‘Aẓmah; 1883 – July 24, 1920) was the Syrian Minister of War and Chief of Staff under Prince (then King) Faisal (later to become Faisal I of Iraq) from 1918 to 1920.

Al-‘Azmah graduated from the Ottoman Military Academy in Istanbul in 1906. He served as a General in theOttoman army, and led the Ottoman army in the Caucasus, before joining the Arab revolt against the Ottomans which gave Syria its independence in 1918.

The League of Nations having given the French Mandate of Syria as planned in the secret Sykes-Picot Agreementbetween the United Kingdom and France, the French General Gouraud issued an ultimatum to the Syrian government in 1920 to disband its troops and submit to French control.

The government of Damascus submitted reluctantly to the French ultimatum and disbanded its troops. In spite of King Faisal’s acceptance of France’s ultimatum, Yusuf al-‘Azmah refused to give in. He raised a small body of disbanded troops and civilians, poorly armed relative to the modern, well-equipped professional French Army.

Although he had no illusions about the outcome of the battle, al-‘Azmah wanted to make it clear that Syria would not surrender without fighting, in order to deny the French occupation any legitimacy.

Note 2:




May 2023

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