THIRD POST – MARCH 22, 2013 – SYRIA’S MILITIAS; WHY CALL THEM "SHABBIHA"?

THIRD POST – MARCH 22, 2013 – SYRIA’S MILITIAS; WHY CALL THEM “SHABBIHA”?

The Western Press uniformly uses a term of contempt: “Shabbeeha” or “Shabeeha”, whenever referring to militias serving the government of Syria.  The term “Shabbiha” is explained by most reporters as something equivalent to “thug” although they don’t explain why.  But, an explanation is needed since the word is a neologism.  The word does not exist in formal Arabic.

Arabic’s verb and noun system is based on a mostly “triliteral” verbs.  There are quadriliterals too and, even,  pentiliterals which are rare.  The 3 root consonants dominate the Arabic language.  The word “Shabbeeha” is derived from: Sh b H (ش ب ح).  This blog platform does not allow me much flexibility to use the Oxford orthographic system for Arabic script in Latin letters.  Let me just note that the “b” is doubled most of the time by native speakers of Levantine Arabic while the last letter, the “H” is an unvoiced pharyngeal fricative.

The word came into vogue during the Lebanese Civil War.  I remember first hearing it in the United States when an anti-Syrian Lebanese leftist used it to describe “tough guys” who came in after the Syrian Army left and stayed to clean up.  Sometimes, I heard it used in reference to militia entering an area to pacify it when troops were not available.

The root, Sh B H, refers to “ghosts”, “phantoms”, “ethereal creatures” and the like.  The actual word in the form of “Shabeeha” does not exist in Arabic.  I checked it out in some authoritative dictionaries like “Lisaan Al-Arab”, “Taaj Al-Aroos” and “Lane’s Lexicon” but could not find it.  Its most common form is based on Verb Form I as “Shabah”, or ghost.  The plural is “Ashbaah” or “Shubooh”.

But, it became pretty obvious to your editor from whence the word came.  In the Ba’ath Party political structure there is a youth organization called the “Shabeeba” (Revolutionary Youth Organization) which was established for younger potential candidates for formal Ba’ath Party membership.  Similar to the Boy Scouts, but much more political, it selects for very devoted Arab nationalists with progressive, secular tendencies.  Fathers or mothers in the Ba’ath Party encourage their children to join the Shabeeba as a sign of loyalty to the party and to offer them a chance to build social bonds with other children.  Like the Boy Scouts too, some parents liked to send their children off to camp just to be rid of them for a short time.

The Shabeeba is paramilitary in nature.  This cannot be ignored.  Similar to many military academies in the U.S., the Shabeeba Organization prepares its members for sevice in the Army or Air Force, not just for the Ba’ath Party.  The Party also has a chance to study the behaviors of various young members and promote those who show zeal for nationalism or high intelligence in some field deemed useful to the cause.

There is no question that the word “Shabeeha” is a mot joue or play on words invented by some Lebanese wiseacre at the American University of Beirut (AUB).  It smacks of the kind of sarcasm unique to that institution where self-important, privileged, supercilious twerps confuse unctuousness with wit.  The word was intended, I think, to lend verbal caricature to individuals who seemed to appear, at times, like ghosts in the night who take form just as mysteriously as they disappear.  To the enemies of Syria and the Ba’ath, to the enemies of Arab Nationalism – those who would sell their flag or Palestine to any carpetbagging European – it came to mean “thug”.

Because of their paramilitary training, Shabeeba could be used to assist security forces in times of great stress.  The Shabeeba Organization stresses physical fitness.  That should be no surprise since on many occasions people would comment about the muscularity or athleticism of the membership.  They also are useful as spotters, informants and intelligence gatherers, roles requiring mental acuity and reason. 

In Syria today, the Shabeeba are only one part of the militia forces commanded by the Defense Ministry, the Interior Ministry and the Ba’ath Party.  We have militia in Syria which have received complete military training similar to that of the army and are taking position alongside soldiers as they beat the feathers out of NATO’s filthy Islamist terrorists.  It has been an honor for me to know over 50 members of the Shabeeba in my lifetime.  ZAF  

        

  


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Anonymous
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Shukran al musaada, ya Ziad. Your intelectual acumen and the force of your words is why Syrian Perspective is the premier source f news on Syria. You not only shed light on the situation in Sham but also educate on so many cultural mores. If you are an example of the people supporting Syria then the victory we all desire will come soon enough.

Ibn al Shaddai

Ziad Fadel
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Inshaa’ Allah, Yaa Rafeeq. We must all keep pushing for the awaited victory. Thank you so much. ZAF

Anonymous
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Thank you for this explanation. In reviewing and listening to western sources only for information and not coming to any conclusions on events in Syria based on the western news media, this helps greatly my comprehension of the complexities involved in this proxy war on Syria. There is constant reference to “thugs of the regime” being used by opposition people including the FSA (I don’t think this term should be used any longer to describe opposition) obviously being used to influence opinions. I also read this morning on another blog that initially, the FSA had support for world wide hackers… Read more »
Ziad Fadel
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Will do. And thanks for your comment. ZAF

Mark D'Viglio
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Ziad. Great article. You have hit the nail on the head with your analysis. It’s a typical tactic for western media to justify FSA terror tactics by saying the victims were ‘shabeeha’ and therefore the suicide bomb, or other terror attack was acceptable, and beneficial. As someone who sees through the semantics, its infuriating to hear this, because I know that the so called Shebbeeha they refer to are simply law abiding and patriotic Syrian people protecting their neighborhoods. The media has tried to label anyone who rejects terrorism,or foreign plots as “bad guys”, upon whom any level of violence… Read more »
Ziad Fadel
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I agree wholeheartedly and thank you for your insightful comments. ZAF

Anonymous
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Ziad, Morris had a good piece about Turkey: Turkey has been a key Zionist stronghold for a long time. And Jordan is just a British/American property. So hoping for big changes from within are debatable. After watching Morris’s video, a question comes up. The Zionists have poured billions of dollars into the preparation for the war against Syria, and have brainwashed the masses inside Turkey. Why wasn’t Syria more prepared? Why hasn’t there been a big effort to provide information in Turkish that illustrates the lies? It seems to me that Syria would be in a much better situation if… Read more »
Ziad Fadel
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I can only speculate that economic considerations played a role in this. Also, we cannot forget that the Syrians are just learning about the importance of disinformation, Intel, propaganda and psyops. It will be better next time. ZAF

Anonymous
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What has the Syrian army/government been doing for the last 20 years? Don’t they have anyone who has lived in a more technological/modern country and warned them? If Syria holds on, and develops propaganda techniques, it will not be ready for all the drones and androids that will be available in five years or so. Fortunately, those devices aren’t being deployed in this war.

Paul

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syrian army should use rpg with brisant grenade against terrorists in buildings

Ziad Fadel
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The SAA reads my blog. Let’s hope they follow your suggestions. Good show. ZAF

hans
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The Zionists have poured billions of dollars into the preparation for the war against Syria

The Zionist have an ATM called the FED, which has already printed money to infinity, a billion here or there is short change. The American people will eventually pay for this costly war on innocents.

Ziad Fadel
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Let the war crimes trials begin. I nominate you as chief prosecutor. ZAF

Anonymous
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I know, but Syria supposedly had a good economy when this started. With a NATO attack dog as a neighbor, it is only common sense to try to get your point of view out. In other words, it isn’t enough that your dangerous neighbor lies about not being an enemy and saying he doesn’t want problems. You have to have good intel inside their country about how they were preparing for war. This should not have been a secret; there has been plenty of talk of this in DC since the days of preparing for the Iraq War.

Paul

Matt Askaripour
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Once again, love this blog. Thank you for what you’re doing. What’s your take on child soldiers in Syria? I never even knew that they were there. Read this and it opened up my eyes to a lot: http://voc.tv/YKForB

UNF
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UNF

Great explanation and beautifully written, love your fighting style!

Anonymous
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I think al Rais sidi al-Assad believed that he didn’t have to worry about Turkey. The Osmanis have always been more bark than bite in the ashark al awsat. Plus the Erdoghan’s and the Assad’s were homies. They had a solid relationship. Erdoghan was actually very influential in ashark al awsat. He championed the Palestinian cause, smacked down Shimon Perets during a summit. He was pushing for a moderate Islamic turkey. He and Davutoglu were saying all the right words. They were doing all the right things. Friendship with al Jumhuriyya Islammiya Irania. Then the harb against brother leader Al-Gaddafi… Read more »
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