A letter of mine in the Ottawa Citizen, August 31(links added):
In his opinion piece, Brian Davis, a former Canadian ambassador to Syria, writes that “Syrians are steeped in a history of how the West invaded them, colonized them and controlled them for centuries.”
But in fact only one Western country, France, “colonized” (under a League of Nations mandate) Syria – previously part of the Muslim Turkish Ottoman Empire from the 1500s - and that was from 1920 until 1946. Just over a quarter of a century, hardly “centuries.”
Unless he is referring to the Crusades of the Middle Ages, during which only a small part of present day Syria was ever occupied. The Crusaders mainly held coastal landfrom what is now Israel to southern Turkey. And surely the Crusades are no more painful to modern Syrians than the Norman Conquest is to today’s English.
Mark Collins, Research Fellow, Canadian Defence & Foreign Affairs Institute, Ottawa