George Ajjan’s blog on Syrian politics, syriapol: A Syrian Democracy Project, is a great resource for commentary and news about the country.  He also has a very interesting post that reproduces an article of his on Syrian identity and history.  The following exchange seems crucial for grasping how Syrians (broadly speaking) understand their identity:

Sometimes Lebanese, Jordanian, or Palestinian friends will ask me what my origin is:

“Halabi,” I proudly reply.
They respond with a confused look. “Souri, yaeni…”
“La, halabi.”
“I don’t understand, why don’t you just say that you are Syrian?”
“Why don’t you?”

Understanding this view seems to me to be a basic prerequisite for understanding the politics within and relationship between the Syrian Republic and Lebanon in particular.

P.S.  Halab is Aleppo, for those who might not be familiar with the Arabic name.