Rachel Maddow describes the recent history of Syria.
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In 1952 we've got some, great images of this 1952 Iraq King, Iraq’s teenage king came to visit the United States he was a teenager. He was only 17 years old. He apparently loved baseball while he was here he met Jackie Robinson. He also met the US Secretary of State. He met President Truman. He had been King since he was a little kid technically speaking, but he came to the US at the age of 17. He became officially an adult the following year, at which point from 1953 on, the more or less worldly teenage king of Iraq assumed his position as the ruler of his country.
It didn't last. He was only 23 years old when a coup was launched again against him in July 1958. In that coup, he was murdered along with much of his family. In July 1958, the monarchy was deposed. Nationalists in the Iraqi military took over. They overthrew the Iraqi monarchy.
But you know what that didn't last either. About five years after they killed the king and the military took over, the military was overthrown as well, or at least the faction of them that had been in charge. By then, it was 1963, February 1963. The group that took over Iraq then and ruled it for 40 years thereafter, that was the Ba’ath party. Right, we think of Saddam's are saying that's the personification of the Ba’ath party. He in fact took over Iraq in 1979. He ruled Iraq in the name of the Ba’ath party for more than two decades, but the Ba’ath party itself, they took over Iraq all the way back in 1963, which was basically the exact same time that the Ba’ath party also took over next door in Syria. The Ba’ath party mounted their coup in Baghdad on the 8th of February 1963. By the eighth of March 1963, one month later, they had mounted their coup in Damascus as well, in Syria.
The Ba’ath party took over in Iraq in February; they took over in Syria in March and in Syria as in Iraq thereafter they had a few different stops and starts in terms of what their new governance would look like. In terms of what their new leadership would be like, they had a couple more upheavals in terms of their leadership in Syria, but by 1970 in Syria they had their leader for life. His name was Hafez al-Assad Hafez al-Assad HAFEZ. He took over in in 1970, and he never gave up power. You know in Iraq, Saddam ruled for a really long time. He ruled for 24 years. Saddam's rule in Iraq of course only ended when the United States military invaded Iraq and overthrew him. And then the occupied Iraqi government executed Saddam. That was in 2003.
Next door in Syria though, Hafez al-Assad he held on until he died on his own terms. he had a heart attack in the summer of 2000. And Syria technically is not supposed to be a kingdom, so they did hold an election to pick a successor to Hafez al-Assad. but in the quote election to pick his successor there was only one candidate on the ballot a fez al-Assad’s son he was the only one on the ballot and it was illegal for anyone to run against him in that election and so yeah he got ninety nine point seven percent of the vote in that year 2000. That's how he got power. That’s how we got Bashar al-Assad has he not quite king of Syria it's basically a domestic dictatorship. He inherited the dictatorship of Syria from his dad in 2000 after his dad had taken over in a military coup 30 years before.
Then at the start of Bashar al-Assad’s second decade in power in 2011 when demonstrators around the Arab world started demonstrating in the streets for release from corruption, for real democracy, for a reform agenda that was different from country to country, but at heart it was for a relief from corrupt sclerotic arbitrary rule by force. When the protests of the Arab Spring started sparking around the Arab world in 2010 in 2011 and 2012, you know every country handled it differently. In Syria, Bashar al-assad decided to deal with it with force, with massive force. And the opposition that started with peaceful street protests in 2011 in Syria it quickly evolved from not just a protest movement, not just a street movement, it evolved into an armed resistance. it evolved into an armed opposition movement and since then, Syria has spent two three four five now six years sliding deeper and deeper and deeper into increasingly impossible civil war.