With all the German chat on Syrian refugees.....no one ever sits there and discusses the Syrian mentality and why they are a bit different from Turks, Saudis, Iranians, and Iraqis. So, this is a brief essay to discuss that end of the story.
We are into the fifth decade of Syria being run by a guy named Assad....either "dad" or "junior" (Hafez al-Assad as dad and Bashir al-Assad as junior). Dad took over in 1971 and ran it till 2000 when he passed away.
Bashir wasn't supposed to be sitting in this position....but odd circumstances occurred with Bassel (the older brother). Bassel ended up in a car accident in 1994 and died from injuries in the accident. Bashir was destined to be a eye-doctor and had studied medicine in this field for a number of years....and ended up as the heir-apparent to the guy in charge of Syria.
Majd was the brother after Bashir, and just as a passing bit of information.....he was a bit of a wild guy with some mental issues. He died from a unspecified disease back in 2009.
Some Syrians would say....that the al-Assad family are a bit unusual, fairly well educated, and the glue which holds Syria together. They'd also say that Syrian government politics doesn't leave much room for wild Islamic behavior or civil strife. And they probably all have harsh words about the amount of control required to make the system work in Syria (before ISIS came along).
The one odd thing that one learns after reviewing the past forty-odd years....is that up until 2011....Syria was a pretty stable place (unlike Iraq, Iran, Egypt, or Afghanistan).
Ever since 1946 and the independence period that Syria went through (from France)....the Soviet Union or Russia.....has been somewhat connected to Syria. More so since 1971 when Hafez al-Assad came to power.
The Russians got a port to utilize in the Med, and gave a fair amount of military hardware over to the Syrians.
Oddly, there is this other part to the Syrian-Russian arrangement.....education. Thousands of Syrians over the years, have gotten a visa and gone off to Russia to study. From engineering to medicine.....from journalism to economics....Syrians developed a strong educational background and connection to the Russians.
If you look around Syria today (using 2008 info from Wiki)....there were roughly 2.3 million students in some secondary form of education (technical or university-driven). Industrial and agricultural programs were sprinkled around the nation, along with nursing programs, Medical fields were common, along with construction type skills.
If you bump into a Syrian and discuss the matter....most would claim that Syria had one thing going in a positive way....education. Maybe, it's a personal feeling but they believe it.
While there was a fair amount of dislike by the public against the al-Assad regime.....there is just as much dislike to for the ISIS crowd. To say that they favored some harsh reality of Islam....would be wrong. If anything, over the years....al-Assad's brand of control kept Islam from affecting anyone in some bad way. Everyone practiced the prayers.....went to work...paid taxes....found family life and structure and lived in a modest but comfortable lifestyle.
In a humble way, I would suggest that the Syrians aren't like any of the other Middle Eastern cultures that you might come across. So, you have to be open and observant....they might not be bad neighbors.....considering all the possibilities that develop.