[Read the transcription of this interview here.]
This month the uprising in Syria will enter its eighth year. More than 400,000 have been killed and over one-third of the nation's infrastructure has been destroyed, says Bassam Haddad. Half the population has been displaced from their homes and other countries have felt the glut of millions of Syrian refugees fleeing the fighting. What started as a revolt against dictatorship in 2011 has become a cauldron of regional and international intervention. In addition to the United States and Russia, Iran, Iraq, Turkey, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and Hizballah have been involved in supporting one side or the other. The “Islamic State," ISIS, at one point controlled more than 40 percent of the country’s territories, Haddad notes. ISIS was finally routed from most of their strongholds by various military coalitions after fierce battles in Fall 2017.
At the eight-year mark of the struggle for Syria, reminiscent of similar goals decades prior, the country still faces internal political unrest, external interventions, battles between Turkey and the Kurds, and a massive task to rebuild the physical part of the country and infrastructure destroyed by war. The recent and ongoing incessant pummeling of Al-Ghouta suburb of Damascus by the Syrian regime and Russia speaks of more horror to come in terms of the Syrian regime’s plans for other parts of the country not under its control.
Haddad talks to Spectrum about all of these issues. He puts the conflicts into historical context from the beginning of the uprisings and discusses the current challenges facing Syria and Syrians. Haddad is a scholar, a teacher, an author, and a documentary film-maker. His second book is provisionally titled "Understanding the Syrian Tragedy: Regime, Opposition and Outsiders" to be published by Stanford University Press. He also has been the co-producer/director of the award-winning documentary film, "About Baghdad" and he also directed the acclaimed film, "Arabs and Terrorism."