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Tartus in the Present Crisis: A Mirror of the Syrian Regime

[A small boat dock in Tartus. Image by Taras Kalapun via Flickr]

Whether in the Syrian or international media, Tartus is often presented as an island of calm in the ongoing Syrian crisis. The typical response of a Tartus resident to a non-resident interlocutor inquiring about the local situation is “Hon ma fi shi,” which translates from the Arabic as “There is nothing going on here.” Syrian official media in particular likes to emphasize that Tartus’s inhabitants are safe, free, and living without problems.[1] Tartus has always been a relatively quiet city, lacking the commercial and cultural life of such cities as Damascus and Aleppo, and even Latakia. Market areas, including the Suq Mshabki, have always closed early in the evening. ...

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Month-by-Month Summary of Developments in Syria (Updated)

[ICG logo. Image from]

[The following monthly summaries on developments in Syria were compiled and published by the International Crisis Group (ICG). Jadaliyya Reports will update this post each month as subsequent monthly summaries are issued.]  April 2014 Following Feb breakdown of Geneva II negotiations seeking political resolution to conflict, regime intensified push to secure control over areas bordering Lebanon, part of long-running Qalamoun offensive: with backing of Lebanese Hizbollah seized city of Yabroud 16 March, largest remaining rebel bastion in area; 19 March took village SW of Yabroud, 29 March seized another 2 villages near border. Many rebels fled across border to ...

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Panel Event -- The Syrian Tragedy: Where From? Where to? (3 April, George Mason University)

The Syrian Tragedy Where From? Where to? Thursday April 3 3pm - 5pm Johnson Center Cinema George Mason University This event is free and open to the public Featuring Omar Dahi, Hampshire College/Jadaliyya: Material Roots of the Uprising: Rethinking the Economic Thesis Rochelle Davis, Georgetown University: Gender, Danger, and Vulnerability: Syrian Men and War Yasser Munif, Emerson College: Participatory Democracy and Local Governance in Manbij Ibrahim Hamidi, Al-Hayat Newspaper, London: Reporting on Syria Lisa Wedeen, University of Chicago/Jadaliyya: Scenes of Generational Change: Notes from the Syrian ...

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Squeezing the Life out of Yarmouk: War Crimes Against Besieged Civilians

[Logo of Amnesty International. Image from]

[The following report was published by Amnesty International on 10 March 2014] Introduction Three years after popular pro-reform then anti-government protests drew a brutal response from the Syrian authorities, leading to the internal armed conflict that continues to rage, around a quarter of a million civilians are living under siege across Syria. Many have endured appalling conditions in their struggle to survive. Most live in areas besieged by Syrian government forces and have been effectively confined for a year or more in areas devastated by bombing and shelling. The besieged people have little food; some have resorted to killing cats and dogs to eat while those ...

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Beyond Emergency Assistance: Syrian Refugees in Jordan and Iraq

[Logo of Refugees International. Image from]

[The following report was published by Refugees International on 4 February 2014] Beyond Emergency Assistance: Syrian Refugees in Jordan and Northern Iraq In less than three years, the Syrian conflict has forced well over two million of that country’s citizens to take refuge in other states. Some 200,000 have fled to the Kurdistan region of northern Iraq, and 600,000 to Jordan, the two countries visited by Refugees International (RI) during its most recent mission to the Middle East. These refugees seem likely to remain in exile for a considerable amount of time. Even if peace returns to the country quickly – a scenario that seems highly unlikely – the level of ...

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Quantum of Surveillance: Familiar Actors and Possible False Flags in Syrian Malware Campaigns

[Logo of the Electronic Frontier Foundation. Image from]

[The following joint report by the Electronic Frontier Foundation and The Citizen Lab at the University of Toronto was published by the Electronic Frontier Foundation on 23 December 2013] Quantum of Surveillance: Familiar Actors and Possible False Flags in Syrian Malware Campaigns Introduction Malware attacks targeting the Syrian opposition were first publicly reported in early 2012, but observed as early as late 2011. As the campaigns move into their second year, we are publishing an update describing several recent attacks. Over the past two years, while tools have changed, attacks have maintained some common themes: easily available Remote ...

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Rojava and Kurdish Political Parties in Syria

[Kurdish female members of the Popular Protection Units (YPG) stand guard at a check point near the northeastern city of Qamishli, Syria.]

The Syrian uprising has presented Syrian Kurds with an opportunity to assert self-determination in a variety of ways, despite divisions within the community. Some Kurdish political parties have been able to exploit the evolving nature of the crisis and reap considerable gains. Despite many obstacles and much suffering, they have been able to achieve de facto autonomy in much of the territories where they comprise a majority of the population. Historically hostile to the Ba‘thist regime, yet lukewarm about the current Syrian opposition, attempts to decipher “which side” the Kurds are on in Syria are not productive, for the political realities do not lend themselves ...

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موت صاخب في عاصمة مجنونة

[لوحة للفنان العراقي محمود شبر ]

  بعد خمسةٍ أيام من كل أسبوع، أقضيها مضطراً خارج المنزل، يتفاقم فيها خوف من قتل على الهويّة، أو موت بسيارة مفخخة، أو حفلة اطلاقات نارية هوجاء، أرجع إلى أُمي التي تستقبلني وكأني عائد للتو من جبهات القتال. تشم ملابسي بحثاً عن رائحة البارود، وتتفقد ملامحي لتطمأن على أن سحنتي لم يطلها جنون العاصمة الذي ينشر الرعب في الشوارع. منذ أشهر، بلغتُ 26 عاماً من عمري الموزع بين بغداد ودمشق. العاصمتان الموزع دمهما بين قبائل الفضائيات والصحف ومراكز الدراسات. ومنذ عامين وأنا في بغداد. هنا، أدفن وجهي في صدر أمي وأنام، علَّ رائحتها تطرد الكوابيس التي تلاحقني كلّ يوم. وحين تشعر بضيق من التصاقي بها أمسك يدها فقط، وأغفو. أحياناً أُيقظها لأطلب منها أن تحضر لي كوب ماء، ولست بعطِش، فقط ...

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Seeing Is Striking: Selling Israeli Warfare

[International arms fair in Tel Aviv, June 2013. Image by Leila Stockmarr]

In 2013, Jane’s Weekly Defense Magazine ranked Israel as the world’s sixth largest arms producer. The country has some six hundred defense companies, including about four hundred devoted to homeland security (HLS). Almost ten percent of all Israelis are in some way economically dependent on the security industry. Israel’s defense industry has a competitive advantage in the global arms market because weapons, surveillance technologies, and other mechanisms of warfare have been tested and put to use in the battlespace of Palestine. Security fairs are nodal points for capitalizing on this advantage, and play a crucial role in protecting this income stream by securing ...

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My Dahiyeh: Notes on the Dehumanization of A Beirut Neighborhood

[Left to right: Ali Khadra andMalak Zahwi. Image composite via Individual images via Facebook]

I grew up in the neighborhood of Bir al-‘Abed. As pictures emerged of Malak Zahwi and Ali Khadra (two of the now five people killed when a car bomb went off in the neighborhood on Thursday 2 January 2014), I noticed how some people appeared amazed to see these "civilians" dead in Dahiyeh.
 It made me realize that my Dahiyeh might not resemble the Dahiyeh many Lebanese have never even visited, but have certainly conceived in their imagination. It is something they ignored, they judged, and (some) even hated. Your Dahiyeh is a Hizballah security zone. My Dahiyeh is where I enjoyed endless chocolate and vanilla ice cream cones from Hassoun's shop for five hundred ...

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Rojava: Life and War in Kurdish Syria

[A normal scene in a schoolyard in al-Malikiyah (Derek in Kurdish), al-Hasaka Governorate, Syria, where life goes on as usual since there has been little fighting in this region of Syria. Photo by Andy Spyra.]

Photos by Andy Spyra and Younes Mohammad. Text by Andy Spyra. In early October this year Younes and I left Erbil, the Kurdish capital of northern Iraq, heading straight to the border crossing at Fish Khabour, located in the triangle between Turkey, Iraq, and Syria. Six hours later we arrived to see dozens of Syrian refugees standing at the checkpoint on the Iraqi side, waiting for approval to cross back into Syria. They were from Syrian refugee camps like Domiz or Kawargosk, where they sought shelter, along with another approximately two hundred thousand Syrian-Kurdish refugees, when the fighting intensified between the Kurdish YPG militia and Islamist groups like ISIS ...

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معارضة مستحيلة: سحر نظام الحزب الواحد

[ لعربي بن مهيدي، ومحمد بوضياف، وحسين آيت أحمد، وأحمد بن بلة، وفتحي الديب بعد لقاء جمعهم حول نقل الأسلحة. مصدر الصورة ويكيبيديا]

يُمثّل عام 1962 على المستوى السياسي ولادة الجزائر المستقلة بقيادة جبهة التحرير الوطني التي انتصرت في تنافسها على جميع الأحزاب السياسية الأخرى. وكان الحزب الشيوعي الجزائري الحزب السياسي الوحيد الذي تجنّب الهزيمة الساحقة والحلّ في سياق التنافس مع جبهة التحرير الوطني. لجأ الحزب الشيوعي الجزائري إلى العمل السري سنة 1955 بعد أن حظرته السلطات الفرنسية. أنشأ وحداته المقاتلة ذات العدد الصغير التي دُعيتْ "مقاتلون من أجل الحرية". وتضمّنت اتفاقية الحزب الشيوعي الجزائري مع جبهة التحرير الوطني في حزيران/يونيو 1956 دمجًا لقوة الحزب الشيوعي المقاتلة في جيش التحرير الوطني، ومقاطعة أية صلات عضوية مع قيادة الحزب التي بقيت في الجزائر (1). وفي نهاية الحرب تألفت هذه القيادة من ...

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The Anbar Crisis: Inadequate Response to Increasing Needs

[The following press release was issued by the Danish Refugee Council on 12 March 2014] The violence in Iraq's western province of Anbar has displaced more than 340,000 individuals since late December; mostly women, children and elderly people. The Danish Refugee Council calls for humanitarian support from the international community and urges conflict parties to ensure the safe passage of staff and emergency relief to meet increasing needs of vulnerable populations. The erupting violence has caused ...

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A Civilian Snapshot of Iraq: NPR Interview with Sinan Antoon on His 'The Corpse Washer'

In the following interview on 30 March epsiode of NPR's All Things Considered, Jadaliyya Co-Editor Sinan Antoon discusses his self-translated The Corpse Washer. In his comments, Antoon highlights some the ideas and processes that went into both the writing of the original Arabic version as well as English translation. Click the below media player to listen to the interview. You may also click here to access the transcripts of the interview. 

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Joint Statement Calling for Release of Arbitrarily Detained Journalists and Others in Syria

[The following joint statement was issued by the undersigned and published by Reporters Without Borders on 17 March 2014]  Free Key Rights Defenders Government Arbitrarily Holds Darwish, Colleagues Despite UN Demands The government of Syria should immediately and unconditionally release the arbitrarily detained human rights defender Mazen Darwish and his colleagues Hani Al-Zitani and Hussein Ghareer, 55 human rights organizations said today. The United Nations Security Council demanded the ...

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Between Convenient Misreading and Mythology: The Iran Sanctions Regime and the Institutionalization of War

After eight years of Ahmadinejad at the helm of government, Iran is experiencing a new trajectory. A number of promising signs in the weeks and months following Hassan Rouhani’s election as president on 14 June 2013 have given rise to a sense of cautious optimism for change and reform in Iran. Such signs include the release of a limited number of political prisoners and the country’s improving relations with the world, leading some to warily suggest we might be witnessing an unfolding of an ...

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Actes du colloque Syrie: reconstructions, immatérielles et matérielles?

Parution: Irène Labeyrie et Claude Yacoub (coord.), Actes du colloque Ila Souria 1.0, Syrie: reconstructions, immatérielles et matérielles? (Paris: Association Ila Souria, 2014). L’association Ila Souria a publié en janvier 2014 les actes du colloque "Syrie: reconstructions, immatérielles et matérielles?", organisé les 9 et 10 octobre 2013 à Paris, à L’Institut du Monde arabe. L’association Ila Souria est une association de droit français sans but lucratif. Elle "est pour l’instant ...

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Rule of Fear: ISIS Abuses in Detention in Northern Syria

 [The following report was published by Amnesty International on 19 December 2013] Introduction This briefing describes serious abuses of human rights committed in detention facilities run by the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS), an armed opposition group that currently controls significant swathes of territory and people in northern Syria, including in al- Raqqa governorate and in and around Aleppo and Idlib. In these areas, ISIS claims it is fighting to establish an “Islamic state” and ...

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"بحثاً عن "الثلاثة ديناري

قبل أعوام قليلة، بدأت بالعمل على رواية تدور أحداثها في العراق. ولتحفيز نفسي على الكتابة، استعرت اسم شخصية حقيقية، محسن خضر الخفاجي. للوهلة الأولى، لم يبدُ لي الخيار ذا معنى، إذ أن الأحداث مختلقة وأي تشابه ممكن سيكون بالصدفة المحضة.  لكن وفيما كنت أراجع المسودة الأولى، شعرت أنه ينبغي عليّ كشف هوية هذا الرجل. لقد كان الخفاجي المطلوب رقم ثمانية وأربعين من بين المسؤولين البعثيين، ومُنح  في "ورق اللعب" الخاص بالمطلوبين العراقيين ورقة "الثلاثة ديناري". كنت أعرف بعض ملامح قصته. تم ...

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An Introduction to Kareem Risan's "The Book of Sectarianism"

The Euphrates is a long procession Cities pat its shoulders as palm trees weep —Sinan Antoon [1] In these ashen years following the 2003 American invasion of Iraq, Kareem Risan has produced over two dozen art books. Created as one-of-a-kind artifacts, some are bound and can be unfolded, expanded, and positioned upright to be viewed in the round, while others are comprised of separate panels amassed in a portfolio or box. During this long period of charting Iraq’s most recent phase of ...

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The Armed Conflict in South Sudan: An Interview with Khalid Medani

Two and half years after its birth, the world’s youngest nation-state, South Sudan, is engulfed in a crisis which has escalated into an armed conflict between two factions in the ruling People Liberation Movement. The political protagonists jockeying for power come from the ranks of the rebels who fought against the Sudanese central government in the 1983-2005 civil war. The war resulted in a loss of two million lives and the displacement of four million people in southern Sudan. Fighting broke out on ...

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O.I.L. Monthly Edition (December 2013)

[This is a monthly archive of pieces written by Jadaliyya contributors and editors on the Occupations, Interventions,and Law (O.I.L.) Page. It also includes material published on other platforms that editors deemed pertinent to post as they provide diverse depictions of O.I.L.-related topics. The pieces reflect the level of critical analysis and diversity that Jadaliyya strives for, but the views are solely the ones of their authors. If you are interested in contributing to Jadaliyya, send us your post ...

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Press Release: UN Syria Commission Announces Thematic Paper on Enforced Disappearances As War Tactic

[The following press release was issued by the United Nations Syria Comission on 19 December 2013 announcing its second thematic paper, entitled "Without A Trace: Enfroced Disappearances in Syria." Click here to download the paper.] Independent International Commission of Inquiry on the Syrian Arab Republic GENEVA, 19 December 2013 -- Enforced disappearances are being committed on a wide scale throughout Syria as part of a campaign of intimidation and as a tactic of war, according to a report ...

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O.I.L. Media Roundup (29 November)

  [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 by Monday night of every other week.]    News Iran and the P5+1 Iran, World Powers Reach Historic Nuclear Deal, Anne Gearan, Joby Warrick Iran and the P5+1 powers have ...

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