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Four Years On: No Easy Answers in Syria (Part II)

[Damaged buildings line the streets of Homs. Image from Reuters, by Yazan Homsy]

[See Part I here. Parts II and III are combined below] The Irony of Calamity There are no easy answers in Syria. Though undramatic, this is not how most seem to approach the Syrian tragedy in practice. What follows is not a recipe for an answer as much as it is a reminder against repeating the same mistakes if/when calling for solutions. If one’s vision is not yet clear regarding what path to take, or what existing combination of forces to support, one should be steadfast in understanding what went wrong and the lessons we might have learned—even if we learned differently. For those in touch with family, friends, and reporters/writers/publications in/on Syria, there ...

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In Need of Aid but Hungry for Peace

[A line to receive food aid in Yarmouk Refugee Camp, Damascus. Image by UNRWA.]

I am in the Yarmouk refugee camp, Damascus, during an aid delivery. A man approaches me and utters three words, “I am hungry”. The sunken eyes in his face are equally eloquent.  His fragile frame expresses volumes. He speaks for a people brutalized, a people sick of war. He is a living symbol of the world’s failure to resolve the crisis in Syria. Yarmouk has become a powerful icon of the wider war and of the Palestinian experience. It was once the densely populated heart of Syria’s Palestinian community. Yarmouk’s pre-war population exceeded one million, among them 150,000 Palestinians. Today it is home to just 18,000 civilians. Its once bustling thoroughfares have ...

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Four Years On: No Easy Answers in Syria (Part 1)

[Syrian boys, whose family fled their home in Idlib, walk to their tent, at a camp for displaced Syrians, in the village of Atmeh. Photo by Muhammed Muheisen/AP Photo.]

After four years of killing and mayhem, the truth remains that there are no easy answers in Syria. What might appear to be natural liberal solutions are not only lacking in realism, but are also embedded in half-baked world views about freedom, justice, development, international relations, and even human dignity—contested as some these terms might be. No consequential camp or political actor approximates the pure. No camp is immune to faults, even to despicable behavior. Those groups who escape that harsh realism—the heroic Syrian men and women who keep life moving on a daily basis outside the confines of militarism, violence, and blind partisanship—are often ...

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Syria Media Roundup (March 16)

[Image from www.shutterstock.com]

[This is a roundup of news articles and other materials circulating on Syria and reflects a wide variety of opinions. It does not reflect the views of the Syria Page Editors or of Jadaliyya. You may send your own recommendations for inclusion in each week's roundup to syria@jadaliyya.com by Monday night of every week.] Inside Syria Snapshots from Syrian cities on the fourth anniversary of the uprising Syria Deeply asks Syrian citizens across the country how their lives and cities have changed during the war.  Warplanes Drop Chlorine Gas in Aleppo Syrians claim that regime air raids fill Aleppo with chlorine gas.  The international community let ...

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كتاب "فلاحو سورية": مدخل أساسيّ لفهم نظام الأسد

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صدر عن المركز العربي للأبحاث ودراسة السياسات كتاب "فلاحو سورية:أبناءُ وجهائهم الريفيين الأقل شأنًا وسياساتهم" (704 صفحة من القطع الكبير)، للمؤرخ والباحث الراحل حنا بطاطو (1926-2000)، ويعدّ الكتاب مساهمة تحليلية مركزية لطبيعة السلطة السياسية القائمة في سورية، بالعودة إلى الجذور التاريخية والاجتماعية والاقتصادية والسياسية للفئات المشكّلة لها، ويشمل ذلك تسليط الضوء على الجوانب العقائدية والمذهبية لتلك الفئات. في هذا الكتاب، نجح حنا بطاطو في رسم لوحة شاملة لطبيعة النظام السوري وتركيبته وسياساته، وتناول ذلك كله من جوانب وزوايا غير مسبوقة في الدراسات التي تناولت تاريخ سورية الحديث أو نظام الأسد على وجه الخصوص. يأتي الكتاب في خمسة وعشرين ...

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Video: Jadaliyya Co-Editor Bassam Haddad and US Ambassador Dennis Ross Debate US Policy in the Middle East

[The following video is of  the Lund Critical Debate Series event American Foreign Policy in the Middle East: Success or Failure, featuring Jadaliyya Co-Editor Bassam Haddad and US Ambassador Dennis Ross. The event took place at Cornell University on 3 March 2015 and was moderated by Aziz Rana.The specific theme was on US policy towards the Arab uprisings.]    Dennis Ross starts at 12:50 Bassam Haddad starts at 30:20    

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Syria Media Roundup (March 2)

[Image from www.shutterstock.com]

 [This is a roundup of news articles and other materials circulating on Syria and reflects a wide variety of opinions. It does not reflect the views of the Syria Page Editors or of Jadaliyya. You may send your own recommendations for inclusion in each week's roundup to syria@jadaliyya.com by Monday night of every week.]   Inside Syria Death: The Only Reliable News in Aleppo News of death in Aleppo has become an everyday occurrence and residents are planning news ways to survive the conflict.  Syrian army and Kurdish forces fight ISIL on two fronts  Uncoordinated offensives against ISIL launch in al-Hassakeh, as regime forces and YPG ...

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Beyond Authenticity: ISIS and the Islamic Legal Tradition

The Atlantic thinks ISIS is Islamic. President Obama and countless others disagree. As the debate rages on with no shortage of interlocutors, one must stop to ask, what is the utility of making such pronouncements? Is the simple binary of whether ISIS is Islamic or not an effective way to discuss and understand the various questions at stake concerning the Islamic tradition, its authenticity, continuity and change? In response to this basic question, Muslims globally have gone on the defensive, denying any relationship between the religion and the group. Whether it be the eighteen-page open letter issued by prominent Muslim clerics globally, the statement of the twelve ...

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O.I.L. Media Roundup (21 February)

[Libyan rebel checkpoint, 2011. Image by J. Weeks, Voice of America.]

[This is a roundup of news articles and other materials circulating on Occupation, Intervention and Law and reflects a wide variety of opinions. It does not reflect the views of the O.I.L. Page Editors or of Jadaliyya. You may send your own recommendations for inclusion in each biweekly roundup to OIL@jadaliyya.com by Monday night of every other week.] Chapel Hill Shootings The Race Hate We All Know, Nima Azmi Azmi, former president of the Harvard Muslim Law Students Association, writes for ColorLines, critiquing the American legal system's capacity for exculpating white Americans of race-based violent crimes. FBI Opens Inquiry into Chapel Hill Shootings, ...

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Syrian Refugees Collectivizing in Jordan Becomes a Security Issue

Introduction I first visited the northern city of Irbid, Jordan in the summer of 2013 as an American undergraduate studying Arabic. By joining a youth volunteer group, I came into contact with Syrian social workers who mobilize resources and services among the Syrian community to assist new Syrian arrivals, including injured ex- fighters of the Free Syrian Army (FSA). On my visits to Syrian neighborhoods, I heard a wealth of personal narratives of suffering and resilience that impressed upon me the solidarity of the Syrian community throughout this protracted Syrian war. Now in a Jordanian city, it seemed that refugees also faced state-imposed obstacles to securing a ...

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ISIS Kills Gays: A History of Violence

[Fighters belonging to the Islamic State group in Anbar, Iraq. Image by Wikimedia Commons User Ritsaiph.]

Hands shove them forward, bound and blindfolded. Then comes the step when the stone beneath them stops and nothing is there. The photographs appall but they have the solidity of things you can see; they suggest but cannot summon the feel of one terrifying lurch in darkness when all that is solid falls away. Death is what happens when you are there, alone, and the world disappears. ISIS stands for the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, which now styles itself just the Islamic State. Many Arabs prefer to call it Da’ish, an acronym (Ad-Dawlah al-Islamiyah fi al-‘Iraq wash-Sham) that the militants despise, partly because it echoes Arabic words for ...

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Syria Media Roundup (February 3)

[Image from www.shutterstock.com]

[This is a roundup of news articles and other materials circulating on Syria and reflects a wide variety of opinions. It does not reflect the views of the Syria Page Editors or of Jadaliyya. You may send your own recommendations for inclusion in each week's roundup to syria@jadaliyya.com by Monday night of every week.]  Inside Syria Syria aims to 'flush out all terrorists' in 2015 - PM Syria’s government plans to “flush out all terrorists” within a year.  Battered Syrian city deals with post-victory reality check The victory in Kobani, Syria, is far from assured and “increasingly appears Pyrrhic.”  Jaish Al-Islam goes after another rival ...

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ISIS in the News: Extensive Media Roundup (January-February 2014)

[Editorial Note: This is not a "Best of," only a roundup of significant pieces. See here for an introduction to this roundup series]    English Articles        2014: The Year ISIS Won the Propaganda Battle (31 December 2014) Markham Nolan writes about the ways in which ISIS has been documenting its progress throughout 2014 in a constant stream of propaganda.  Vanguard of Syria’s uprising, now on the run from ISIS, weighs a bleak future ...

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Syria Media Roundup (March 23)

[This is a roundup of news articles and other materials circulating on Syria and reflects a wide variety of opinions. It does not reflect the views of the Syria Page Editors or of Jadaliyya. You may send your own recommendations for inclusion in each week's roundup to syria@jadaliyya.com by Monday night of every week.]   Inside Syria You probably won’t read this piece about Syria Recently, there has been a rapid decrease in coverage of the Syrian conflict. This article sheds light on the ...

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Conference--Syria: Moving Beyond the Stalemate (1-3 July, St. Andrews)

 The Syrian Studies Centre at University of St. Andrews presents: Syria: Moving Beyond the Stalemate 1-3 July 2015 For more information, please visit: www.syriaconfstandrews2015.co.uk

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Syria Media Roundup (March 8)

[This is a roundup of news articles and other materials circulating on Syria and reflects a wide variety of opinions. It does not reflect the views of the Syria Page Editors or of Jadaliyya. You may send your own recommendations for inclusion in each week's roundup to syria@jadaliyya.com by Monday night of every week.]             Inside Syria  We Need to End This Dirty War: An Interview With Haytham Manna Interview with Haytham Manna ...

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الدولة الإسلاميّة: نزهة في كهف التنين

بنفس الحدّة التي يقول فيها وائل الحلّاق "إنّ الغالبية العظمى من مسلمي العصر الحديث تتمنّى عودة الشريعة بشكل أو بآخر"، يمكن القول إنّ الغالبية العظمى من قرّاء "الدولة المستحيلة: الإسلام والسياسة ومأزق الحداثة الأخلاقي" سيرون فيه كتابًا في غاية الاستفزاز. تنبّه مترجم الكتاب عمرو عثمان لذلك فكتب في مقدمته بأنّ القارئ "قد يرفض بعض ما يطرحه المؤلّف في هذا البحث وربّما كله". ولا عجب، فكتاب الدولة المستحيلة الذي يشتمل على خلاصات أبحاث وائل الحلّاق في الدراسات الاسلاميّة هو بمثابة ...

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The Right to Food Safety: Rights-Based Dialogue as a Springboard towards State-Building

The stances taken by Lebanon’s Public Health Minister Wael Abou Faour in November 2014 took the country by surprise. Departing completely from the norm, Abou Faour published lists of actual businesses that have persisted in producing or selling food unfit for consumption, or not conforming to health standards. Fellow Ministers and others from outside the cabinet criticized Abou Faour, accusing him of adopting a policy of defamation that could have a negative impact on Lebanon’s economy.[1] In response, ...

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Mental Health Programs for Syrian Refugees

Lebanon is host to the largest number of Syrians displaced by the current conflict. Most of these refugees, some one-and-a-half million, live in tragic and precarious conditions.[1] Intensive war and forced displacement are known risk factors for social and mental health problems. Mental health services have become an important component of humanitarian programs in the context of emergencies arising out of conflict. After briefly reviewing the history of mental health programs in acute emergencies ...

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Syria Media Roundup (February 16)

[This is a roundup of news articles and other materials circulating on Syria and reflects a wide variety of opinions. It does not reflect the views of the Syria Page Editors or of Jadaliyya. You may send your own recommendations for inclusion in each week's roundup to syria@jadaliyya.com by Monday night of every week.] Inside Syria Why the victory in Kobane matters Aron Lund claims that victory in Kobane was no “Pyrrhic victory,” the U.S. backed Kurdish defeat of the Islamic state in ...

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Mr. Freeze

Amid little anticipation and less expectation, the United Nations special envoy for Syria, Staffan de Mistura, on Tuesday, 17 February, briefed the Security Council on the progress of the initiative he unveiled last year to “freeze” the conflict that has destroyed the country, extinguished perhaps 1 per cent of its population and displaced more than a quarter of the remainder. It would be an exaggeration to say that hubris has given way to humility, but his performance this week was considerably more ...

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Manufacturing Silence: On Jordan's ISIS War, Arab Authoritarianism, and US Empire

On 24 December 2014, ISIS reported and the US-led coalition confirmed that a Jordanian fighter pilot, Mu‘ath al-Kassasbeh, had crashed in Syria and was now in ISIS custody. On 3 February 2015, ISIS released a video showing its own members murdering the pilot by immolation. The Jordanian regime vowed revenge. Some Jordanians took to the streets in grief and anger. The Jordanian Armed Forces, for its part, intensified its bombing campaign in Syria. Media outlets and Middle East analysts have expended ...

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دور النشر السورية: مأساة الورق والحبر والدم

لا يغيب الناشر السوري عن سوق الكتب العربية في معظم معارضها؛ لكنه غائبٌ بشكلٍ شبه تام عن بلاده؛ مرغماً لا بطل؛ فالكتب في دمشق وحلب وحمص واللاذقية وسواها من المدن تعوم على الأرصفة والأكشاك والشاحنات؛ كتبٌ لبشرٍ ماتوا أو هُجِّروا أو نزحوا عن مدنهم؛ تاركين وراءهم بيوتهم ومكتباتهم ودور نشرهم وأحلامهم؛ ومن قال أن الكتب ليس لها استخداماتٌ أخرى في زمن الحرب؛ هكذا على الأقل صنعت منها الممثلة الفرنسية جولييت بينوش درجاً بدل الأدراج المهترئة في فيلم " المريض الإنكليزي" الذي لعبت بطولته عن رواية مايكل ...

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Syria Media Roundup (January 26)

[This is a roundup of news articles and other materials circulating on Syria and reflects a wide variety of opinions. It does not reflect the views of the Syria Page Editors or of Jadaliyya. You may send your own recommendations for inclusion in each week's roundup to syria@jadaliyya.com by Monday night of every week.]  Inside Syria Syria rebels overtake strategic base in south Syrian, US-backed, rebels fighting with Nusra overtake strategic base in south near Deraa, helping 2 cut highway and ...

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