[Marxism] Fwd: Asad’s Officer Ghetto: Why the Syrian Army Remains Loyal

Louis Proyect lnp3 at panix.com
Fri Nov 13 06:38:42 MST 2015

Army officers have access to a benefits system that links nearly every 
aspect of their professional and personal lives to the regime, and this 
places them in an antagonistic relationship with the rest of society. 
Dahiat al-Asad, or “the suburb of Asad,” northeast of Damascus and the 
site of the country’s largest military housing complex, reveals how this 
system works. Known colloquially as Dahia, the housing complex provides 
officers with the opportunity of owning property in Damascus. As many 
army officers come from impoverished rural backgrounds, home ownership 
in the capital would have been beyond their financial reach. Military 
housing has offered them an opportunity for social advancement, but the 
community that officers and their families inhabit within Dahia also 
fosters a distinct identity that segregates them from the rest of Syrian 
society, leaving them dependent on the regime.

The benefits Dahia provides come at a steep cost. With the move into 
military housing, officers effectively complete their buy-in, linking 
their personal and familial fortunes to the survival of the regime. All 
the trappings of an officer’s life, and the social respectability it 
provides, are thus granted by and dependent on the regime. In 2000, when 
then-President Hafez al-Asad died, many officers in Dahiat al-Asad sent 
their families back to their home villages to wait out the succession 
outcome. The families only returned once Hafez’s son Bashar was 
confirmed as the new president. Officers had understood that their life 
in Damascus was contingent on the Asad regime’s survival, rather than on 
their status as state employees or military personnel.


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