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I'm in London where it's the day of our Queen's Diamond Jubilee. And you're watching A Show with Ze Frank. Syria has been in the news. Let's put it into a little bit of an historical context. Here is where Syria is it has been here for a very long time. Shortly before the Rolling Stones formed in 10,000 B.C. Syria was already a thriving civilization. Since Instagram had not been invented yet we refer to the stone carvings found and can assume they were a "cone-boobed" people who had mouths on their feet. This is the culture that first developed agriculture and cattle breeding hence every BigMac can trace its origins back to this place. Now if you've played Risk you know that this part of the world is a sucker's bet to defend. Let's just say it's no Kamchatka. And because of that, for centuries tons of people came and conquered. There were the... Among those conquerers was Sargon the Great (Hello Lord of the Rings.) And I think we can all agree that he looks like a total bad ass. Sargon, BTW, was the orignal baby-in-the-basket on the river except unlike Moses who was a peasant baby discovered by the royalty he was a royal baby discovered by the peasants. But what up with all the babies in the river baskets? Just FYI if you're considering doing this, which I think is a bad idea, don't put your baby in the river way too dangerous. Just go to WalMart, put it in a shopping cart and push it down an aisle. Gently... Maybe the baby food aisle? Anyhows, all the "Greats" wanted this little chunk of land; Alexander the Great, with his awesome hair, took it from the Persians. Pompey the Great, not quite the looker, but still great (check the name) took it for the Romans. But then the Romans hit their whole "so what we get drunk?" phase which is a really shitty way to run an empire. So in 640 AD. the Romans got their asses handed to them by the Rashidun army who took it for the Islamic empire. That empire lasted for about 100 years with an anonymous piece of text written during that time period saying that it fell apart because: Foreshadowing! To fill the void that was left by the Islamic empire The "ids" rolled in... With all that id floating around something's bound to happen and you know what? It did! The Crusades. To understand The Crusades imagine a hockey game between Muslims and Christians expect there's no puck and instead of hockey sticks they have swords and the object is to kill each other. The Muslims won that one with the aid of The Hassassin which is where the modern word, "Assassin," comes from. But then the Mongols were like, "Hey! I didn't know people were killing each other. I want in!" It was like a really violent house party that everyone wanted to crash. By the 15th century the world had figure out how to get goods from Europe to Asia by boat and the overland trade route through Syria became less important. So the Ottoman Empire swallowed it up and Syria faded away from the text books until the early 20th century. In WWI when it became clear that the Ottoman Empire was going to lose, the British and French secretly started negotiating about what to do with all their spoils. The French ended up taking Syria as part of a mandate and they split it up into a bunch of regions and put a tiny little French flag on each one. But then France lost control in the 2nd World War and Syria got its independence in 1941. Within 7 years the newly formed Syria fights in the Arab-Israeli war against the newly formed Israel but then looses badly. This loss triggers the first big military coup inside of Syria and really the first big military coup in the modern Arab world. Now instead of a whole bunch of outside forces overthrowing Syria it was a whole bunch of inside forces overthrowing Syria. It was coup after coup after coup! There was more coup-ing than a joke involving pigeons and babies that I didn't have time to write. And each coup has a different idea of how to maintain power; one makes friends Russia, another forms a union with Egypt. And the coups keep rolling until the Ba'ath Party comes to power in the early 1960s. Now this is right around the time that the current President Bashar Al-Assad's father Hafez al-Assad comes into power. Now when a country is constantly under military rule their leaders start to sound like this: In 1966 Hafez al-Assad said... And that's exactly what happened; more wars with Israel, an invasion to occupation of Lebanon and a slow and steady isolation from most of the rest of the world. Now inside the country, Syria was under emergency law from 1963-2011, and the protests that are going on now are not the first protests to have happened nor is the backlash happening now the most severe. In 1982 the arch-conservative Muslim Brotherhood held an uprising which resulted in the Government killing or wounding almost 25,000 people. In 2000 when Hafez Al-Assad died there was a brief moment of hope; his son Bashar Al-Assad ran for President and got 97% of the vote of course no one ran against him but it still had the air of a new era. At the time the hope for reform was called, "The Damascus Spring," but Bashar Al-Assad like so many leaders in the centuries before him slipped back into Dictatorial control. And with that we're all caught up to 2011... ...happy context. [Singing] Bye-Bye, this is the Bye-Bye Song.[Singing] [voiceover] That's art! [voiceover] [Singing the song by Wiz Khalifa] Ha. So what we get drunk?
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