1987 Volume 60 Issue 2 Pages 134-163
According to the field observation in 1986, the cultivated area of Kufrayn occupied less than 30 percent of the total village territory, whereas it was almost 100 percent before the 1960s. The villagers who no longer are able to earn their livelihoods in agriculture, mostly had non-agricultural occupations in Damascus City. Kufrayn is a suburban village in the Oasis of Damascus, and is located on the fringe of the Syrian Desert. The field of Kufrayn was irrigated by the ancient canals and plentiful flood flow of the Barada River. Yet these canals have been neglected and destroyed without any repair since the land reform. Even cotton cultivation which is promoted by the government is scarcely profitable because of the high expense of motor-pumping. The factors which caused such a deterioration in agriculture are: firstly, disordered suburbanization due to the enormous population increase of Damascus City; and secondly, contradictions which exposed themselves under the process of the land reform. These factors are both the results of spatial configuration in the suburban area under the process of national integration. The Syrian domain was artificially created in 1916 according to the Sykes-Picot Agreement, scattering a number of ethnic, religious and tribal groups into its territory. Therefore, Syria has had serious difficulties in achieving national integration since Independence. After a series of political changes, the Ba'th Party, of which prominent members have minority origin, gained enormous power both in the army and the government. The centralization of power to Damascus has caused an ethno-regional inequality. As a result of immense rural exodus, the oasis has been encroached upon by the new settlements. In fact, it could be said that the land reform was successful only in constitution of a new political order of the Ba'th regime. However, it was completely insufficient for improvement of dispossessed peasants due to its lack of recognition of the traditional farming system and the peasants' value system. Thus, the surrounding oasis villages have been spatially configurated so as to be subordinate to the urban oriented Ba'th Party power through the process of national integration.