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by The Social Nationalists of Greater Syrian State. . 39 reads.

Clarifying 'Greater Syria' | Mar. 2023

Al-Binaa News. 10 March 2023

Damascus. The Syrian Social Natioanlist Party (SSNP) has garnered no shortage of suspicion from its neighbors and the world on account of its peculiar ideological tenets. Common dismissive or outright hostile attitudes are the result of fundamental misunderstandings of pan-Syrianism, as well as what the party and its founding intellectuals meant by the term. The clarification of the "Greater Syria" idea and its practical consequences for Syrian state policy was a topic of major concern in the first week and a half of the SSNP's Ordinary Congress.

"Greater" or "Natural" Syria does not, in the final analysis, refer to an irredentist project of the Syrian nation state as it exists at the present time. This state, even as a union of Lebanon and Syria "proper", is the Syria of Sykes-Picot and not that of ancient times. Nor still is it the Syria for which the hero Yousef al-Azma fought against the French at the Battle of Maysalun on July 24, 1920. Indeed, the Syrian Social Nationalist Party only has its name because of this natural, anti-colonial notion of Suriya, which differs qualitatively and not merely quantitatively from the lines drawn by the French and British. As one party member remarked: "If we would go by size and population, Natural Syria is more of an Iraqi expansion than a Syrian expansion, just under the name of “Syria,” which was carefully chosen because it is one of the few names that once included all of the Fertile Crescent, and some SSNP members also came up with the name Souraqia (The Arabic name for Syria, plus Iraq) to refer to Natural Syria."

The SSNP’s Syrian nationalism thus approaches the concept "Syria" and "nation" from a far wider and deeper context. Natural Syria can only be understood through a lens of natural nationalism, according to which a nation consists of the geography and the unique scars left on it by the people. The modern-day Syrian is the end result of thousands of years of mixing between various peoples, empires, and kingdoms.

The Party sees the kernel of the nation not in any one moment of this history but in the greater part of it. Geography is an open book, and ours tells the story a richly intellectual, diverse people.

All these ideas ultimately come together in the party's symbolism. The SSNP's flag has a black field, representing the darkness of colonialism, sectarianism, and feudalism that binds and restricts the Syrians. The white disc symbolizes the daylight’s brightness that gradually outstrips the surrounding darkness of the regressive society. The flag’s central whirlwind device is the Zawbaa, its arms signify the four fundamental pillars of the party’s ideology: power, freedom, organization, and duty.

Antoun Saadeh explained, “The symbol of the whirlwind was found engraved on more than one fossil in Syria. It symbolizes the interaction of matter and spirit. It symbolizes life, survival, immortality and within the four corners of freedom, duty, order, and power.” The zawbaa asserts its constructiveness over social servitude, social irresponsibility, social chaos, and social collapse. The whirlwind was also selected as the party’s symbol since it was found on ancient artwork and pottery; one such example is a Sumerian bowl from around 6000 BC in the region representing the universe. One commentator explained: "The universe is symbolized by a circle which is always moving. In the center is the mandala, a whirlwind that has a unique and close relationship with the circle. The center radiates towards the circle and the circle gives depth to the center. Why is this relevant? The SSNP believes this universe was centered in Syria when the land sprouted numerous advanced and powerful civilizations thousands of years ago."

As a matter of foreign policy, the vision of Natural Syria does not entail territorial acquisition, nor does it mean engaging in rivalry with other nationalist movements, including the Ba'athists.

Unlike the pan-Arabists, however, the SSNP trains its eye on the people which comprise Natural Syria. All those that fall within the natural borders of Syria are considered part of an extended family. Concretely, the SSNP leadership repudiates irredentist aspirations that threaten to sever these familial ties. The final outcome of the discussion on Antoun Saadeh's thought was a resolution that the party would in future more proactively reach out to Social Nationalists in the region, but only strictly in accordance with local laws and customs.

Source: Solomon, Christopher (2021). In Search of Greater Syria. Chapter 3