Factions in the Middle East didn't learn 'Swamp King' theory from the Clintons. It's been a tribal tradition for millennia. Syria plays the game well, and it was a major underpinning of the Lebanese Civil war, which still goes on.
From war lords to street gangs, turning frightening swamp waves into surf opportunities eventually leads to anchored rafts of power; and, that attracts fanatical followers. When they are aboard, security concerns make it hard to stop required allegiance to the touted platform. The Ba'ath party of both Saddam Husein and Bashr Al Assad's father Hafez Assad were such regimes.
Thus storms of change are always seized for the opportunity they present to weather them in the ease and comfort befitting gang lords. Neither oppression, want or cravings for respect need go unfulfilled when one becomes a member of a power group. The catch is that the power comes through being ever more aggressive than the competition.
As for uniting memes, almost any will do: communism, religious factionalism, capitalistic opportunities, common hatred for another group; and, you can always adapt these themes as their popularity ebbs and flows.
What you cannot adapt away in order to stay relevant is the eating of hearts and the grinding up of opponents in the wood chipper: your perceived ruthlessness must continuously impress anew, especially in a culture where murder and cruelty seem sexually salacious.
I first ran into this phenomena just after the 15 year Lebanese civil war. In my research dealings with an import export company located in Cyprus, I continuously met a steady stream of functionaries wanting to do business in Boston. Many of them had been forced to leave by their respective gangs and were looking for something to do in exile. Except for the Druze, very few of them have much else in mind other than aggrandizement. Now, even Walid Jumblatt "would rather die than have anything to do with Bashar Al-Assad", the Druze leader said.
The reason is that the Ba'ath party under Bashr-Al Assad, has betrayed the Greater Syria ideology. In doing so, it had given an edge to Israel's greater and much older vision of the Middle East. The vision of Antuon Saadeh's was not so much a religious, but rather a philosophical. He was a Lebanese Christian of the variety that refuses to read the old testament because it was written by Jews. He was executed in Beirut at the age of 45.
Hafez Al Assad, Bashr's father had built the Ba'ath party regime supporting both this fascist and also Soviet communism at the same time. Soon it became apparent to everyone that the Syrian Ba'ath party supported only their own power "ueber Alles!"