The Syrian civil war has raged on for some two and half years now, with more than 110,000 deaths, eliciting not much more than pursed lips and a terse “task, tsk!’ from most of the world’s governments. But in August the powers that be finally took notice when a chemical weapons attack in Ghouta killed some 1400 civilians, including more than 400 children. That Sarin gas was used has been confirmed by UN inspectors; who used it is less certain, with both sides of the conflict having significantly differing versions of that rather crucial fact. This was by no means the first use of chemical weapons during this civil war; more than 60 small-scale attacks, involving remote villages or single warheads killing perhaps a few dozens, have been chronicled by international journalists since August 2012, just before Obama drew his “red line” in the Syrian sands.
President Obama has been chastised by members across the political spectrum, first for doing nothing, then for doing too much, then for threatening military action without seeking authorization, then for delaying action while awaiting congressional approval, then for allowing the Russians to resolve the situation, and now, apparently, for not starting a war absolutely nobody wanted. It’s not been an easy month for the commander-in-chief, and we’ll shortly see why, from an astrological perspective, the charges of “weakness” have seemed to stick.
But first let’s look at the charts of Syria and its president, Bashar al-Assad. Modern Syria dates from its de facto independence from France (whose zone of influence it had been in since the end of World War I) on 1 January 1944, a chart set by mundane astrology authority Nicholas Campion for midnight local time. That time yields an Ascendant of 13 Libra, perhaps not coincidentally the location of a Black Hole, a collapsed star whose gravitational pull is so intense, not even light can escape it.
Generally, Black Holes represent the principle of radical change, and act as points of energy absorption or loss. In mundane charts specifically, they often denote countries or regimes of a totalitarian nature, and which are subject to sudden dramatic change, becoming touchstones of conflict, drawing others into their turmoil and destabilizing local or even global conditions.
Certainly Syria’s history of internal and external conflict fits this pattern, with military coups in 1948, 1961 and again in 1963, when Assad’s father took control of the country, putting it under Emergency Law which lasted until 2011. This, ironically, is when the civil war ensued, itself perhaps the most visible example of exhausting resources and wasted energies. Syrian governmental instability can also be seen in the brief political union with Egypt as the UAR (United Arab Republic, 1958-61), which dissolved after only three years. With a pairing of the North Node and Pluto at 7 and 8 Leo in the country’s Tenth House, unchecked military power and control (Pluto) is seen as a natural way forward (North Node) and a valid governmental system (Tenth House) by Syrians.
This Black Hole/Ascendant combination also helps to account for Syria’s militarist bent and inflammatory rhetoric, with frequent conflict on various levels with Israel, from all-out war in 1948, 1967 and 1973, to the proxy conflict of the Lebanese Civil War in 1975-1990, where the rival camps backed opposing sides in the struggle, to the Syrian regime’s funding of Hezbollah and other radical anti-Israeli groups in the region. Since 2006 Syria has been formally allied with Iran, and the government receives virtually unqualified support from Russia, which has continued to ship arms to Assad’s government during this civil war.
An exact natal pairing of Mars and Uranus at 5 Gemini suggests the use of unconventional or controversial (Uranus) weaponry (Mars), and a tight trine to natal Neptune at 4 Libra shows chemicals (Neptune-ruled) as the controversial weaponry of choice. Mars/Uranus’ conjunction with a Maser (another type of deep space anomaly which violently spews jets of matter from its core) at 6 Gemini indicates volatility resulting from this pairing, an out-of-control military and violence run amok, while the opposition to one Black Hole at 5 Sagittarius and square to another at 6 Virgo relates to sudden, unexpected change and violent upheaval, as well as the parallel-reality-type disputes of fact over just who unleashed the chemical weapons, the government or the rebels, in a bid to garner international support.
This T-Square becomes a Grand Cross with the square to the Quasar (among the furthest and brightest objects in the universe, the origin points of proto-galaxies) at 5 Pisces, a point which promotes manifestation and achievement, but also shines a bright light upon whatever it touches. On the one hand this contact allows the realization of the chemical weapons potential inherent in Mars/Uranus, and on the other, assures that any such use will be on full display.
The USA walks right into the crosshairs of this Grand Cross in the form of Syria’s natal asteroid Washingtonia, which at 4 Sagittarius opposes Mars/Uranus. Just a spit down the celestial road lies asteroid America, which at 16 Sagittarius is conjoined by asteroids Apophis and Karma, both at 17 Sagittarius, suggesting some fated interaction (Karma) with the US (America) involving an act of heinous, unmitigated evil (Apophis, named for the ancient Egyptian personification of pure evil).
These in turn oppose Syria’s natal Saturn at 21 Gemini, suggesting a US role as some sort of enforcer or authority. Saturn in Gemini by itself indicates a difficulty forming a lasting government, with the nation torn between alternatives and unable to focus (perhaps extending to split government in the form of two rival simultaneous administrations), while its square to TNO (Trans-Neptunian Object) Chaos at 19 Pisces suggests continued turmoil and entropy, with unstable conditions that may draw the US into anarchic or tumultuous situations.
Pluto/North Node and Mars/Uranus form a Yod with Syria’s 9 Capricorn Sun at its Apex, another indication that violence, militarism and extreme governmental control are a very central, integral part of the nation’s identity, and on some level a fated or predestined component of its make-up (the Yod, AKA “Finger of Destiny”).
Making waves the past 18 months has been transit Pluto, which formed its retrograde station in April 2012 exactly conjunct that Sun, and is now playing a return engagement at its direct station in September 2013. Pluto conjoined the Sun is an opportunity for evolutionary growth, transformation or regeneration and self-empowerment, but if these goals are resisted, Pluto can be especially severe in its meting out of consequences designed to break the spirit and force change. It is this resistance that creates the horrible devastation Pluto is noted for, and to this point, the Assad government shows little sign of learning that lesson.
So what of Bashir al-Assad himself? Born 11 September 1965, Assad is a product of the Uranus/Pluto conjunction of that era, and now faces his most serious crisis as those two celestial heavy-hitters come into their first square. With Uranus at 15 Virgo, Pluto at 16 Virgo, and Sun at 18 Virgo, Assad is strongly internally identified with Uranus/Pluto themes, including Uranus’ propensity to shock or provoke, and Pluto’s lust for power and control.
Also involved in this stellium is asteroid Lachesis at 22 Virgo, an exact match for the USA Neptune and Obama’s natal Mars. Lachesis is named for a mythic Greek Fate who determines the span of life, and it’s illuminating that Assad has come under the USA’s scrutiny as a result of deaths (Assad’s Lachesis) brought on by chemical weapons use (USA Neptune), which caused Obama to threaten war (Obama’s Mars).
This grouping opposes Assad’s natal Saturn at 13 Pisces, also the degree of the recent Chiron retrograde station in June. Specifically, Sun opposed Saturn suggests both a difficult relationship with the father, who may have been seen as “outshining” the son, but also confers executive capacity and reflects Assad’s presidency. This is also an indicator of a harsher, unyielding or unforgiving nature, one that tenaciously clings to its position against formidable opposition. Chiron’s station may elicit a “wounding” of Assad’s authority, but also evokes maverick behaviors in his performance of his executive office, such as the unleashing of chemical weapons.
Assad’s Sun is also currently receiving an exact square from a transit pairing of TNO Ixion and centaur Pholus at 18 Sagittarius; Ixion is named for the first murderer in Greek myth, and Pholus relates to mass deaths, by whatever cause. The symbolism of that is easy to read in the Syrian Civil War generally, and the chemical weapons incident in particular.
Assad’s nativity also suggests chemical weaponry, with a pairing of Mars and Neptune at 14 and 17 Scorpio; this is joined by a Pulsar at 15 Scorpio, yet another deep space anomaly which rapidly rotates and “pulses”, emitting radio or X-ray signals at regular intervals. These points are informational in nature and often relate to the media, a clue that Assad’s chemical weapons issues would be big news one day. Natal asteroid America is bound up with this grouping, at 10 Scorpio, indicating a prominent role for the US in Mars/Neptune areas, all of which will be strongly activated by the upcoming Solar Eclipse in November at 11 Scorpio.
Natal asteroid Washingtonia at 17 Libra is just now coming into contact with the transit Uranus/Pluto square, suggesting that perhaps the US involvement in the situation is far from over, and may become more heated in the following two years. Washingtonia opposes natal Chaos at 15 Aries, also about to be activated by Uranus/Pluto, perhaps a cautionary note regarding US immersion in Assad’s troubles.
Two other points of interest. First, natal Apophis at 24 Cancer, that point describing pure evil, is hit by T-Square from the next two Lunar Eclipses, this October and next May, at 25 Aries and 25 Libra. And second, natal asteroid Tantalus, another point noted for the commission of heinous and unforgiveable acts, falls at 8 Leo, exactly with Syria’s natal Pluto/North Node, and hit by both the prior Solar Eclipse at 5 Scorpio and the upcoming one in November.
What of Obama’s role in recent developments? Talk about your thankless tasks! After virtually announcing his intention to strike, when Britain’s parliament refused to lend assistance, Obama decided to wait for congressional approval, thus granting Assad advance warning and time to prepare for the threatened air strikes. The President’s apparent waffling on the issue, with strong rhetoric but no action, delaying and deferring to a Congress that was out on recess, brought charges of weakness from both sides of the aisle.
Then a casual remark by VP Joe Biden dramatically altered the situation. When asked by a reporter what Syria could do to avoid a military conflict with the US, Biden opined that if they agreed to surrender their chemical weapons stockpiles, that would be a game-changer.
Enter Vladimir Putin and Russia, which leapt into the breach in the diplomatic wall and arranged a compromise whereby Syria formally admitted their possession of the banned weaponry, signed the Chemical Weapons Convention, and agreed to surrender or destroy all stockpiles of chemical weapons by mid-2014. The agreement was signed September 14, effectively taking military action off the table, at least for the present.
Obama has been plagued throughout his career by charges of weakness in regard to defense and military matters generally. From the infamous “3 AM phone call” ad during the 2008 campaign, alleging his inexperience and the dangers that posed for the US, to “leading from behind” during the Libyan revolt against Qadaffi and this present crisis in Syria, Obama’s strained relationship with the military has been an Achilles heel for his presidency.
Quite literally so, with asteroid Achilles natally at 24 Pisces, opposing his natal Mars (military matters, war) at 22 Virgo. Mars is also an exact match for the US Neptune, which itself closely squares the US Mars at 21 Gemini. The combination is an unfortunate one, which makes Obama appear vacillating, dilatory, weak and indecisive. (The term “Achilles heel” is derived from the myth of Achilles, the great Greek warrior whose mother dipped him in the river Styx at birth to render him invincible. His only point of vulnerability was the heel she held him by when he was immersed, and this duly became his undoing when Apollo guided Paris’ poisoned arrow to that exact spot during the Trojan War. Astrologically, Achilles represents our weak spot, that point of susceptibility where we are defenseless and open to disaster, often through our own making.)
Not only does Obama embody that Achilles/Mars opposition natally, but at the very time when the chemical weapons issue arose, transit Achilles was rolling over his natal Mars and the US Neptune, thus opposing its natal degree and strongly activating its potential to expose Obama’s weakness. As of August 31, when Obama deferred his decision awaiting congressional approval, eliciting cries of “weakness!”, transit Achilles at 20 Virgo was coming to set off the synastric T-Square, and by September 9, when Biden’s answer to the reporter opened a new diplomatic channel, transit Achilles was exactly conjunct the Obama Mars/US Neptune conjunction. As if to underscore the point, the following morning politico.com’s lead headline was “The United States of Weakness,” highlighting the ineffective, muddled response to the Syrian crisis by all echelons of the federal government, and the President in particular.
Vladimir Putin’s lead role in resolving the crisis can perhaps be intuited by the placement of asteroid Vladimir, which in Syria’s natal chart falls at 13 Aries, exactly on the Descendant, and in Bashar al-Assad’s chart falls at 13 Pisces, exactly conjunct his natal Saturn. Vladimir/Descendant shows a pivotal role for Putin in Syrian affairs generally, especially as it relates to their relations with other nation states. Vladimir/Saturn in Assad’s chary indicates Putin’s special importance in Assad’s career and presidency.
When the deal was announced on September 14, transit asteroid Vladimir at 4 Sagittarius fell exactly on Syria’s natal Washingtonia, in effect “eclipsing” the US role, and formed a T-Square with transit asteroid Russia at 6 Virgo and transit Neptune at 3 Pisces. This becomes a Grand Cross with the assertion of Syria’s natal Mars/Uranus conjunction, opposed transit Vladimir. Natally asteroid Russia appears at 24 Cancer in Syria’s chart, exactly opposing its natal Mercury at 24 Capricorn, making Russia generally a sort of “mouthpiece” for Syrian interests.
The involvement of Neptune in the Russian-dominated T-Square for the chemical weapons deal may be problematic for its effectiveness in the long haul, tending toward confusion, doubt, subterfuge and perhaps outright deception. We shouldn’t be surprised if some of these stockpiles are “lost” or “disappeared”, or if the Russians fail to keep faith with the spirit of the agreement.
For the present, a military intervention by the US has been prevented, and diplomacy triumphs, but the fighting rages on in Syria, with or without chemical weapons.