Middle East Research and Information Project: Critical Coverage of the Middle East Since 1971

Syria

Ambivalence and Desire in Revolutionary Syria

Daniel Neep 11.10.2020

Daniel Neep reviews Lisa Wedeen’s book Authoritarian Apprehensions: Ideology, Judgment, and Mourning in Syria and finds it a “serious, powerful work operating on multiple levels: it speaks to an impressive range of debates in the Anglophone academy and the Syrian artistic field without losing sight of the visceral suffering of Syrians both inside and outside the country.”

On Blaming Climate Change for the Syrian Civil War

The idea that the Syrian civil war was partly caused by climate change induced drought is widely repeated and yet deeply flawed. Jan Selby excavates the sources of misleading information and dismantles the simplistic cause and effect argument. Most importantly, he explains the real political and economic reasons behind agricultural crisis in Syria’s northeastern breadbasket region.

On Blaming Climate Change for the Syrian Civil War

Jan Selby 09.29.2020

The idea that the Syrian civil war was partly caused by climate change induced drought is widely repeated and yet deeply flawed. Jan Selby excavates the sources of misleading information and dismantles the simplistic cause and effect argument. Most importantly, he explains the real political and economic reasons behind agricultural crisis in Syria’s northeastern breadbasket region. Forthcoming in MER issue 296, “Nature and Politics.”

Arabs Across Syria Join the Kurdish-Led Syrian Democratic Forces

The Autonomous Administration of North and East Syria and the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) defending it were established by Kurdish political and military forces. But the SDF also attracts recruits from all over Syria. Why do Arabs from areas both inside and outside SDF control join this military force? Drawing on her field research, Amy Austin Holmes presents the stories of six Arab men and women that shed light on their motivations and the circumstances surrounding their choices. This article is in Middle East Report, issue 295, “Kurdistan, One and Many.”

The Kurdish Freedom Movement, Rojava and the Left

Efforts by the Kurds to put revolutionary ideals into practice in Rojava captured the imagination of anarchists and leftists in Europe and North America. Thomas Jeffrey Miley explains the left’s fascination with Rojava, the ties of solidarity that connect the Kurdish freedom movement to Europe, Öcalan’s embrace of a new paradigm of struggle and the dilemmas facing Rojava now. This article is in Middle East Report, issue 295, “Kurdistan, One and Many.”

The Elusive Quest for a Kurdish State

Kurdish communities in the Middle East have been struggling for independence, autonomy and civil rights since at least the 1880s. While Kurdish movements across the region have suffered from fragmentation, the more formidable obstacle to fulfilling Kurdish aspirations are regional and global geopolitics. Djene Rhys Bajalan explains the many challenges, both historically and in the present day. This article is in Middle East Report, issue 295, “Kurdistan, One and Many.”

Arabs Across Syria Join the Kurdish-Led Syrian Democratic Forces

The Autonomous Administration of North and East Syria and the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) defending it were established by Kurdish political and military forces. But the SDF also attracts recruits from all over Syria. Why do Arabs from areas both inside and outside SDF control join this military force? Drawing on her field research, Amy Austin Holmes presents the stories of six Arab men and women that shed light on their motivations and the circumstances surrounding their choices. Forthcoming in MER issue 295 “Kurdistan, One and Many.”

The Kurdish Freedom Movement, Rojava and the Left

Efforts by the Kurds to put revolutionary ideals into practice in Rojava captured the imagination of anarchists and leftists in Europe and North America. Thomas Jeffrey Miley explains the left’s fascination with Rojava, the ties of solidarity that connect the Kurdish freedom movement to Europe, Öcalan’s embrace of a new paradigm of struggle and the dilemmas facing Rojava now. This article is from the forthcoming issue of Middle East Report, “Kurdistan, One and Many.”

The Elusive Quest for a Kurdish State

Kurdish communities in the Middle East have been struggling for independence, autonomy and civil rights since at least the 1880s. While Kurdish movements across the region have suffered from fragmentation, the more formidable obstacle to fulfilling Kurdish aspirations are regional and global geopolitics. Djene Rhys Bajalan explains the many challenges, both historically and in the present day. This article is from the forthcoming issue of Middle East Report, “Kurdistan, One and Many.”

Turkish Intervention in Syria Heightens Authoritarianism in Turkey and Fragmentation in Syria

Sinem Adar 07.14.2020

Turkish military incursions into Syria since 2016 are shaping power dynamics not only in Syria but also domestically. Turkish state building practices in Syria are changing the demographics of the border area in Syria and benefiting Turkish industry and political elites. At home, Ankara is suppressing Kurdish political power and cracking down on anti-war activists. Sinem Adar explains who gains and who loses from the cross-border interventions.

The Tragedies and Dilemmas of US Intervention in Northeast Syria

At the very beginning of the Syrian uprising against the regime of President Bashar al-Asad in 2011, and during the early stages of the slide into civil war, Washington made the serious miscalculation that the Asad regime would fall quickly. When the regime failed to...

Cadres, Guns and Money

Hafiz al-Asad marched into the Palace of the People in Damascus on the evening of January 6, 1985 to convene the eighth regional congress of the Baath Party. The standing ovation which greeted his entrance was immediately broadcast to the most remote corners of Syria by a platoon of television cameras. These cameras carefully framed the president against a backdrop of gigantic wall banners which proclaimed him “leader of the struggle, champion of steadfastness and confrontation.” Such scenes tempted some observers to dismiss the congress as chiefly an occasion for promoting the president’s image, or at best as “a mere safety valve through which the party faithful could let off steam about such matters as bureaucratic incompetence and the poor quality of rice imported from North Korea.”

Generational Dislocations

Since 2011, violence in Syria has worsened the widespread displacement of people in the Middle East and destroyed several cities. The images of displaced Syrian families fleeing to Turkey, Jordan and Lebanon broadcast around the world had a haunting resonance. Archival photographs of Armenian refugee camps in Aleppo from one hundred years ago are today echoed by images of Syrian refugee camps across the southern Turkish border. Bourj Hammoud is widely regarded as Beirut’s Armenian neighborhood, built by survivors of the Armenian genocide of 1915–1919. This densely populated city has seen ethnic cleansing, transnational migration, war and displacement. Sadly, the Syrian crisis is a new chapter. Yet Bourj Hammoud has again become a place where people regroup and reimagine home, advocate for their families and wonder whether they might ever be able to return home.

Conventional Humanitarian Solutions Fail the Test

Syrians experienced the largest single-day exodus of the war on March 15, 2018. Seven years to the day since the start of the uprising in Syria, some 45,000 civilians fled their homes in besieged Eastern Ghouta. The fact that such large-scale displacement took place over the course of a single day as the conflict entered its eighth year is a stark reminder that the displacement caused by the war has not abated and will not end any time soon.

Refugee Rights Hit the Wall

The expansion of humanitarian aid in Syria and its neighboring states has gone hand-in-hand with a growing restriction on refugees’ right of movement and ever-stricter control over refugees’ personal information and biometric data. UNHCR and the Syrian and Jordanian governments share two interests in particular: to raise humanitarian funds and to centralize information and control over refugee populations.

The Politics of Health in Counterterrorism Operations

In the conflict zones of Afghanistan, where multiple fronts shift concurrently, the lines between who is, or is not, a legitimate recipient of aid and protection are not just blurred but erased. As in other counterterrorism wars, these life or death issues are exacerbated by shifting power and territorial control between a growing insurgency, shrinking coalition ground forces and an escalating use of special forces and air operations.

Is the Rojava Dream at Risk? An Interview with Dilar Dirik

In April 2018 Giuseppe Acconica spoke with Dilar Dirik, an activist with the Kurdish women’s movement in the Rojava region of Northern Syria.

The Syrian Uprising and Mobilization 
of the Syrian Diaspora in South America

The Syrian uprising against President Bashar al-Asad’s government that began in 2011, and the armed conflict that followed, has generated a strong reaction among the large populations of Arabic-speaking immigrants and their descendants in both Brazil and Argentina....

Syria Dispatch

The Trump administration has thus inherited a basket of policies that were largely focused on narrowly targeted US military intervention against ISIS, and the acceptance of continued violence and instability in Syria even amidst Russian military intervention into the conflict. In the first year of the Trump administration, these policies, for the most part, have been continued and expanded.

From the Editor (Winter 2016)

As the baleful administration of President Donald Trump bumbles from one scandal to the next, a set of deeply disturbing patterns have emerged in the domestic politics and foreign policy of the United States.

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