The Hijackers

Hugh Roberts

  • From Deep State to Islamic State: The Arab Counter-Revolution and Its Jihadi Legacy byJean-Pierre Filiu
    Hurst, 328 pp, £15.99, July, ISBN 978 1 84904 546 9
  • Syrian Notebooks: Inside the Homs Uprising by Jonathan Littell
    Verso, 246 pp, £12.99, April, ISBN 978 1 78168 824 3
  • The Rise of Islamic State: Isis and the New Sunni Revolution by Patrick Cockburn
    Verso, 192 pp, £9.99, January, ISBN 978 1 78478 040 1
  • Isis: Inside the Army of Terror by Michael Weiss and Hassan Hassan
    Regan Arts, 288 pp, £12.99, February, ISBN 978 1 941393 57 4

Damascus was the seat of the Umayyad dynasty, established by a clan of the Prophet’s tribe to rule the first Islamic empire. Syria is where, in 1516, the absorption of the Arab world into the Ottoman Empire began, with the Ottoman victory in the battle of Marj Dabiq; where thenahda, the cultural renaissance of the Arab world, blossomed in the 19th century; where the unified Arab kingdom that the British promised the Hashemites, who led the 1916-18 Arab revolt against the Ottoman Empire, was to have its capital. It is where, in the aftermath of the Second World War, the most politically developed and socially radical version of the dream of Arab unity was conceived by the founders of the Arab Socialist Baath (‘resurrection’) Party. Syria is also the terminus of the Arab Spring.