Column » ‘By the Book’ with Joseph Preville
by JOSEPH RICHARD PREVILLE and JULIE POUCHER HARBIN for ISLAMiCommentary on DECEMBER 4, 2015:
Is there a more tragic country in the world today than Syria ? How did it descend into chaos, conflict, and crisis?
John McHugo offers some answers in Syria: A History of the Last Hundred Years (The New Press, 2015).
McHugo is a historian, international lawyer, and Arabic linguist. Born in Croydon, England, he was educated at Oxford University and The American University in Cairo. McHugo is the author of A Concise History of the Arabs (Saqi Books, 2013; republished by The New Press, 2014) and the forthcoming book “The Forked Scimitar: A Concise History of Sunnis and Shi’is” (Saqi Books, 2017). He is also an adviser to Tim Farron, the leader of the British Liberal Democrat Party, on peace in the Middle East.
The long story of Syria is marked by centuries of conquest. McHugo states that Syria “has constantly been ruled and occupied (and sometimes partitioned) by strong rulers who came from elsewhere.” In the last hundred years, Syria’s fate was determined by Western powers and the regional turmoil they created.
“It is not an exaggeration,” he writes, “to say that the actions of the great powers in the aftermath of the Great War and over the following decades deprived the people of Syria of any chance of a normal development to nationhood.”
John McHugo reviews Syria’s complex history and offers insight into its future in this timely interview. Continue reading