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Questioning Social Inequality and Difference in the Arab Region
Selected Presentations from ACSS Conference
Sandy Tolan on Music under Occupation
Interviewed by Malihe Razazan

The Syrian Uprising: Two Years On

[Protesters dance and chant slogans in Aleppo, Syria, against Bashar Assad and the Syrian regime, Friday, 21 December 2012. Image by Virginie Nguyen Hoang via Associated Press] [Protesters dance and chant slogans in Aleppo, Syria, against Bashar Assad and the Syrian regime, Friday, 21 December 2012. Image by Virginie Nguyen Hoang via Associated Press]

With no end in sight, the Syrian uprising drags on, pulling Syria into a path of seemingly endemic violence, death, and destruction. Figures of the dead are controversial, but the number 70,000 gains the most circulation. Refugees now number close to a million, and the internally displaced nearly two million. No one really knows the count for the injured and dispossessed. Yet all indicators point to a longer term conflict, even if many analysts exaggerate such a projection.

The brutal violence of the Syrian regime, both before and after March 2011, continues to be the most determinant factor behind the escalation. But it is breeding junior competitors by the week within the opposition. Today, we are witnessing more than a two-way conflict in Syria, one that portends an ill future for the immediate post-Ba`thist era. Increasingly, various factions of the opposition forces are growing less harmonious and, often, conflictual. The fall of the Syrian regime as we know it, whether now or (much) later, will not signal the end of the Syrian conflict.

Today, 18 March, marks the second anniversary of the uprising (although some would date it at 15 March). The discourse on the Syrian uprising continues to be poisoned by rival political orientations, rigid positions, and grand designs, many of which are mutually exclusive. It is rather impossible to write anything about Syria without attracting the wrath of various individuals and groups. Like a minefield, the production of (any) knowledge on Syria is likely to be explosive. While it is not advisable to plunge into the discursive foray without deliberation, it is also unacceptable to be paralyzed by the inevitable discursive explosions.

In this vein, we are hereby publishing several interventions, including a roundtable on the ongoing conflict, and would like to invite further submissions. We encourage critical writing that neither supports repression nor purifies the opposition to it. As with all the other uprisings, including that of Bahrain—which was crushed, courtesy of Saudi Arabia and its GCC and Western supporters —we do support mass movements calling for fundamental change in Syria and beyond. However, we do not encourage viewpoints that signal a return to exclusionary and repressive practices, nor those that view international military intervention as a solution.

In this series, we are including the following articles, exhibits, and interventions:

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