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					   Hama Rules




From Beirut to Jerusalem
  Thomas L. Friedman
                              Introduction
•       Hama, a once-picturesque city in Syria, was the site of a brutal massacre in February of
        1982 (Friedman 76).
    –       The massacre, undoubtedly the work of the Syrian government, specifically the
            Syrian President, Hafez al-Assad, was estimated to have left 10,000-25,000 dead
            and thousands more homeless (77).
    –       The cause of the massacre was mostly friction between the Sunni Muslim guerilla
            groups of the city, called the Muslim Brotherhood, and the mainly Alawite
            Muslim/Christian government and military (77-78).
    –       It is from his visit to the city of Hama post-attack and the tragedies he witnesses
            that Friedman formulates his “Hama Rules,” a set of rules that not only pertain to
            Syria but to most of the Middle East, highlighting the ruthlessness and gore of the
            conflict in the area.
    –       The logic of Hama Rules is “a combination of three different political traditions all
            operating at the same time” (87).
                         Tribe-Like Politics
–     The first tradition is tribe-like politics,
      “characterized by a harsh, survivalist
      quality and an adherence to certain intense
      primordial or kin-group forms of
      allegiance” (87).
    •      Groups are bound together by
           solidarity and allegiance to the tribe
           takes precedence over the national
           community (87).
    •      Alliances begin with “the most basic
           blood association” of the family and
           slowly expand to the tribe (88).
    •      When a tribe is dishonored, a price
           must always be exacted to the furthest
           degree. Otherwise, the tribe looks
           weak and will be attacked again. The
           only way a tribe will make
           compromises with another tribe is
           “from proven strength or
           magnanimity in the wake of victory”
           (88).
    •      When the Muslim Brotherhood seized
           control of Hama, al-Assad saw it as a
           threat to his Alawite tribe and
           retaliated (90).
                   Authoritarianism
–       The second political tradition in the Middle East is authoritarianism, “the
        concentration of power in a single ruler or elite not bound by any
        constitutional framework” (91).
    •       People of the Middle East rarely created nation-states of their own because
            various tribe affiliations negated the need for people to rule themselves and
            defend themselves against foreign invaders (92).
    •       Clans and sects would rarely submit and allow themselves to be governed by
            others. Rather, when a government was in place, it was usually imposed by sheer
            physical force. (92).
Authoritarianism Continued
 • “The ruler was often a stranger: someone to be feared, dreaded, avoided, submitted
   to, and, occasionally, rebelled against, but rarely adored; there was usually a
   tremendous gulf between the ruler and he society at large” (92).
      – Gentle Authoritarianism: A government sustained through negotiation and
         less by brute force (92-93).
      – Brutal Authoritarianism: A government sustained by beating the population
         into submission (94).

                                                   “Hama was not just what
                                                   happens when two tribe-like
                                                   sects – the Alawites and the
                                                   Sunnis – decide to have it out;
                                                   it was also what happens
                                                   when a modern Middle
                                                   Eastern autocrat who does not
                                                   enjoy full legitimacy among
                                                   his people puts down a
                                                   challenge to his authority by
                                                   employing twentieth-century
                                                   weapons without restraint”
                                                   (96).
           Modern Nation-State
–       The modern nation-state is another factor in tragedies
        such as Hama – most states in the Middle East today
        “were not willed into existence by their own people or
        developed organically out of a common historical
        memory or ethnic or linguistic bond,” but were instead
        imposed upon the people of a country (98-99).
    •      Not only were borders and leaders imposed, political institutions,
           too, were forced, often with the imperial powers leaving before
           these institutions could fully take root (99).
    •      The leaders boosted into power by imperial invaders most then
           search for ways to legitimize their new governments (100).
    •      The Hama massacre, then, can be seen as “the natural reaction of
           a modernizing politician in a relatively new nation-state trying to
           state off retrogressive… elements aiming to undermine
           everything he has achieved) (100).
Conclusion
   Friedman ends the chapter with an anecdote about
    a landlord in Beirut who would not only eat an egg
    for breakfast, but also its shell. He closes: “That
    was what Hama was all about and that is what
    politics in places like Syria, Lebanon, the Yemens,
    and Iraq are so often about – men grabbing for the
    egg and its shell, because without both they fear
    that they may well be dead” (105).
    Bibliography
   "The Flag of Syria." Student Resource Center - Gold. Gale. Upper Arlington High School. 8 Sept. 2009
    <http://find.galegroup.com/gps/start.do?prodId=IPS>
   Friedman, Thomas L. From Beirut to Jerusalem. New York: Farrer Straus Giroux, 1989.
   "Hafez al-Assad." (al-Assad, Hafez, photograph. Archive Photos, Inc. Reproduced by permission.
    ).Student Resource Center - Gold. Gale. Upper Arlington High School. 8 Sept. 2009
    <http://find.galegroup.com/gps/start.do?prodId=IPS>.
   "Map of Syria." (Maryland Cartographics ).Student Resource Center - Gold. Gale. Upper Arlington High
    School. 9 Sept. 2009
    <http://find.galegroup.com/gps/start.do?prodId=IPS>.
   :"President Saddam Hussein." CRSN. Gale. Upper Arlington High School. 9 Sept. 2009
    <http://find.galegroup.com/gps/start.do?prodId=IPS>.
   Walsh, John. "Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood: understanding centrist Islam. (World in Review)." Harvard
    International Review 24.4 (Wntr 2003): 32(5). Opposing Viewpoints Resource Center. Gale. Upper
    Arlington High School. 9 Sept. 2009
    <http://find.galegroup.com/gps/start.do?prodId=IPS>.
   Watson. “Hama Waterwheel.” Syria Pictures. Bugbog. September 9, 2009.
    http://www.bugbog.com/gallery/syria_pictures_photos/syria_pictures_20.html

				
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