In the 1500s the Ottoman Empire rose in power and took the region of modern day
Syria. Under Ottoman rule the country slowly developed, grew,
and gained a larger and larger Arab Muslim population. For most of this time Syria
was somewhat isolated as they focused on domestic growth; their biggest outside
influences coming from Lebanon, who they at the time controlled.
In 1623 the Syrians attacked the rebellious
Lebanese who sought independence, but the Lebanese won the decisive battle,
giving Lebanon full control over its border, answering directly to the Ottoman rulers,
ending this relationship.
Through the 1700s and 1800s, Syria was mostly stable and remained
so until the Ottoman Empire was overthrown by the "Young Turks" who sought
a more liberal country after World War I. The collapse of the Ottoman Empire led
to the League of Nations putting modern day Syria fully under French
control. This agreement also led to losses of land in Syria, giving these areas
to Lebanon in the southwest, while in the south, territory
was lost to Jordan and Palestine.
Syria fought French rule though and
in the 1920s numerous fights and battles occurred between the two groups. These
arguments continued until 1936 when Syria gained nominal independence once certain
issues were finalized. This was brief though as the Turks and Arab fought over power
until the Republic of Hatay, a primarily Turkish area, shifted hands and became
a part of Turkey in 1939, leaving the modern borders of Syria and a primarily Arab
In 1940 France fell to Nazi Germany
in World War II and Syria was left wanting independence, instead of waiting for
France to regroup from the war. This led to Syria supporting
Germany in the war and in 1944 legal independence. With French and
British support to this action, the Syrians switched sides and supported
France for the remainder of WWII.
By 1946 the French had left Syria and
the country was on its own. Since this time Syria has struggled in numerous ways.
In 1948 Israel was formed and Syria strongly opposed this,
partaking in wars with Israel on a number of occasions, beginning in 1948. These
wars have led to a large number of Palestinian refugees to flood southern Syria.
In the 1960s another Arab-Israeli war broke out as
Lebanon's economy collapsed and in the 1970s Lebanon fell into civil
war. This led to more refuges flooding the country, both from Palestine and Lebanon.
In 1970 though the political instability in Syria ended to a great degree as yet
another coup took place in 1970, putting Hafez al-Assad in power, which he held
until 2000, at which time he died and passed power on to this son, Bashar al-Assad.
In the 2000s Syria has fallen substantially as
Lebanon demilitarized their Palestinian groups who were fighting
Israel. This led a flood of Palestinians into Syria, including many
Hezbollah forces. This has led to Israel attacks coming from Syria instead of Lebanon,
leading to tensions in Syria and hostility with Israel and a number of western countries.
The government has struggled to control these groups, or simply chose not to as
many people disagree with Israel and sympathize with Hezbollah and other groups.
In 2011 the people began to protest the government and the ruling family, leading
to a large number of protests. These protests have escalated into violence on a
number of occasions and by early 2012 the country was in the middle of a civil war,
with a still undecided future.