April 13, 2014 § 7 Comments
The responses of most leftists to the Syrian uprising and subsequent war (it’s often forgotten that it started as an uprising — indeed a nonviolent and nonsectarian one) have been deeply disappointing. Disappointing to many Syrian activists, and to many of us on the Left who support the Syrian struggle for dignity and justice, which is now a struggle against both Assad’s killing machine and the jihadi counter-revolutionary forces.
The Left’s responses fall into three main categories:
- explicit support for the Assad regime
- monochrome opposition to Western intervention, end of discussion (with either implicit or explicit neutrality on the conflict itself)
- general silence caused by deep confusion
The first camp, while relatively small, represents a truly hideous, morally obscene and, I would argue, deeply reactionary position – siding with a mass murderer and war criminal who presides over a quasi-fascist police state.
The second camp, which encompasses a majority of peace activists and soi-disant anti-imperialists in the West, represents an (ironically) Eurocentric/US-centric stance (it’s all about the West, not the Syrian people) – a total abandonment of internationalism.
The third camp is at least understandable, given the complexity of the Syrian conflict. The book I co-edited on the subject is titled The Syria Dilemma for a reason. Yet this stance remains disconcerting: silence in the face of what UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon calls “the biggest humanitarian and peace and security crisis facing the world” is a cop-out. Complexity is not a gag order.
There is a fourth camp, however: a small but growing group of progressives who embrace the goals of the Syrian revolution. There are several shades within this camp – it includes Marxists, pacifists, feminists, Third Worldists and leftists of various sorts. Some support the armed struggle in Syria, others do not, standing instead with the nonviolence activists in Syria. But what unites this camp is its solidarity with the Syrian struggle for dignity, justice and self-determination.
March 5, 2014 § 1 Comment
A young girl’s life gets turned upside-down in this tragic second a day video. Could this ever happen in the UK? This is what war does to children. Find out more at http://bit.ly/3yearson
January 6, 2014 § 9 Comments
This is a little difficult to process for those infantile minds that think the Syrian revolution is “all al-Qa’ida”. The Free Army and the Islamic Front are engaging in battle against the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria all across the north, while protestors across the country demonstrate against the al-Qa’ida franchise. Valerie Szybala writes a good summary:
January 3, 2014 § 1 Comment
Terribly out of date (but it’s a snapshot of a moment so it doesn’t really matter), my 2011 essay on Egypt for Critical Muslim is now online. From today’s perspective March and April 2011 look like a golden age. Who would have predicted the wave of fascism currently overwashing the Sisi junta’s state?
Cairo felt different. Tahreer Square, of course, carried a new set of meanings. The traffic, the pollution, the Stalinist gloom of the Mugamma building – these had shrunk, and revolutionary grafitti, redignified national flags, and the endlessly various Egyptian people now dominated the eye. It didn’t feel the same either to walk over the Qasr el-Nil bridge, not after the glorious battle of January 28th. (I kept trying to work out where the police van was burnt.) And the streets were in fact cleaner, even that, in central Cairo at least. In ritual overcompensation for the years of filth, people had been observed during the revolution’s 18 days scrubbing the pavements with toothbrushes. A man in a café called Ali Jabr explained it to me: “The Egyptians used to hate their country just as they used to hate themselves. Anywhere you went in the world, the people thought the Egyptians were rubbish. And the Egyptians agreed. After the revolution we know we aren’t rubbish, so we pick our rubbish up from the streets.”
You know that something rare and powerful is occurring, something all-encompassing, not limited to a political or intellectual elite, when even a mobile nuts-and-seeds stall has ‘Social Justice’ stenciled on its side.
I visited in late March and early April. My plane to Cairo was a quarter full at best. The airport was almost empty.
The immigration guard peered long at me and asked if I was originally Iranian, prompting me to wonder if anything had changed at all. There were no pictures of Mubarak on the walls. That was a change.
Then the driver who took me into town. He addressed the revolution immediately. “Tell me congratulations!” he grinned. I did so. “We’ve finished with him!” he exulted. “We’re free!” Pictures of some of freedom’s martyrs swung from the rear-view mirror.
January 3, 2014 § 2 Comments
People in Yarmouk camp, Damascus, express their hatred for Assad, Khamenei, Nasrallah, and Mahmoud Abbas who is ignoring their plight.
“Where are the women they took at the checkpoints? Where are the young men?… Khamenei, come and slaughter us. We’re ready for death. We die of hunger, we die under shelling. At the start when a mortar fell everyone ran to hide like mice. Now the shells fall and the people walk in the street. Nobody bothers asking about it…. Not just in the camp – this is the situation in all the suburbs. We Palestinians are with the Syrian people, not with this regime.”
December 30, 2013 § 1 Comment
The story of a civil activist, secretly working as a nurse in a field hospital. Eight and a half intense minutes of strength and weakness, hope and despair, and conflicted emotions that Syrian activists experience, as they fight against dictatorship.
The activist, who used to work in an Intensive Care Unit in one of the most important hospitals in the Syrian capital Damascus, left her job and devoted her time to save those injured in demonstrations against the regime. As soon as her phone rings, she quickly carries a bag stuffed with medical supplies and medicines, and rushes towards another crime scene, passing through regime barriers with unstoppable courage, where she gets detained.
Wound is the tale of a woman who is aware of the brutality of the regime, but simultaneously knows quite well that Syrians can not stop fighting until they get hold of their freedom, because to her “this regime has consumed Syrians’ every breath”. In the short film you can see her crying while stitching wounds amid the shelling and destruction. Still, she refuses to give up saying “for the sake of a friend of mine who was killed yesterday, I must go on. For the sake of a friend who got detained I can’t lose hope.”
Wound was produced by Bidayat corporation and directed by Maher Qadlo, who dedicated his work to his friend: the field nurse who risked her own life to save others, in the hope of turning the wounds of many, into a long-awaited freedom.
December 26, 2013 § 1 Comment
A short documentary on the Assad regime’s mass torture campaign.
December 24, 2013 § 1 Comment
Christmas in Saraqeb, Idlib provence, Syria. Happy Christmas everyone, and especially to Syrian Christians. May we all celebrate next year in freedom and peace.