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Thread: Syria

  1. #16

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    He's swung a bit on this, actually. In early March 2011 he was telling us why Syria was the only Arab state not to have had any form of uprising -- the reason was, apparently, because Assad was the Last Standing Arab Lion to resist Israel or something. By the end of that year, when Assad was shelling Syrian citizens, he had reverted to a More In Sorrow Than In Anger tone. By now, of course, he is back on side and then some.

    Mind you, I have read one very minor Republican commentator explain that Assad and al-Qaeda are in a secret alliance organised by Iran, so he's not the only one at it.

  2. #17
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    Personally I blame the Isranians.
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    Be careful with that sight. If I recall correctly, it's a Saudi state-sponsored thing

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    Sadr becomes first Iraqi Shi'ite leader to urge Assad to step down

    http://www.reuters.com/article/us-mi...-idUSKBN17B070

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    I thought this was quite a profound piece for the way it discusses the psychological effects of living first under repression, then under war.

    https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/...=.7f049fc19a6e

    The author has a new book out which looks like a must-read: https://www.harpercollins.com/978006...nd-it-trembled

  7. #22
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    The problem with reading this stuff is it tends to be fairly harrowing. I cut back on reading a lot of material when I started to dream about it.
    One counter to that is to read about the acts of creative expression that the revolution engendered, and the new types of civil society that took place in that newly freed space.
    Probably the best site for this material is here: http://www.creativememory.org/?lang=en
    I really need to pick up this book on that score: https://www.theguardian.com/books/20...m-cooke-review
    I may as well C&P the review in full:

    The reaction to revolution in Syria was cultural as well as political. Independent radio stations and newspapers blossomed alongside popular poetry and street graffiti. This is a story largely untold in the west: who knew, for instance, of the full houses, despite bombardment, during Aleppo’s theatre festival in 2013?

    Dancing in Damascus by Arabist and critic miriam cooke (so she writes her name, uncapitalised) aims to fill the gap, surveying cultural responses to revolution, repression, war and exile. Dancing is construed both as metaphor for collective solidarity – the anarchist Emma Goldman said, “If I can’t dance, it isn’t my revolution” – and as literal practice. At protests, Levantine dabke dance was elevated from folklore to street-level defiance, just as popular songs were transformed into revolutionary anthems.

    cooke’s previous work, Dissident Syria, examined the regime’s pre-2011 attempts to defuse oppositional art while giving the impression of tolerance. It would fund films for international screening, for instance, but ban their domestic release. Dancing in Damascus describes how culture slipped the bounds of co-option: increasingly explicit prison novels and memoirs anticipated the uprising; once the protests erupted, “artist activists” engaged in a “politics of insult” and irony. Shredding taboos, the Masasit Mati collective’s Top Goon puppet shows, Ibrahim Qashoush’s songs and Ali Ferzat’s cartoons targeted Bashar al-Assad specifically. “The ability to laugh at the tyrant and his henchmen,” cooke writes, “helps to repair the brokenness of a fearful people.”

    As the repression escalated, Syrians posted images of atrocities in the hope they would mobilise solidarity abroad. This failed, but artistic responses to the violence helped transform trauma into “a collective, affective memory responsible to the future”. Explicit representations of “brute physicality and raw emotion”, from mobile phone footage to Samar Yazbek’s literary reportage, soon gave way to formal experimentation. Notable examples include Death is Hard Work, Khaled Khalifa’s Faulknerian novel of a deferred burial; the “bullet films” of the Abounaddara collective and Azza Hamwi’s ironic short film Art of Surviving, about a man who turns spent ordnance into heaters, telephones, even a toilet. “We didn’t paint it,” he tells the camera, “so it stays as it arrived from Russia especially for the Syrian people.” The full-length film Return to Homs follows the transformation of Abdul Baset al-Sarout from star goalkeeper to protest leader to resistance fighter.

    This book’s consideration of the role of social media goes deeper than most of the 2011 commentary on the cyber aspects of the Arab Spring. The internet provides activists with anonymity and relative safety. It also offers a space to display and preserve art, even as Syria’s physical heritage, from Aleppo’s mosques to Palmyra’s temples, is demolished by regime bombs and jihadist vandalism. Online gallery sites such as The Creative Memory of the Syrian Revolution archive the uprising’s creative breadth and complexity.

    Certain digital images “aestheticise” sites of destruction in order to both to lament and humanise the war. The best known are works by Tammam Azzam, which superimpose Klimt’s The Kiss on a crumbling residential block, Matisse’s circle dancers against a rubble-strewn street and Gauguin’s Tahitian women on a refugee camp.

    As an example of refugee theatre created in the youth centres of camps and urban slums, a cross-border Shakespeare production via Skype and featuring Syrian children cast Romeo in Jordan and Juliet in Homs. The performance was completed despite bombs, snipers and frequent communication cuts. The play’s conclusion was optimistically adapted: the doomed lovers threw away their poison and declared, “Enough blood! Why are you killing us? We want to live like the rest of the world!” Euripides’ Trojan Women has been used to talk about the regime’s mass rape campaign. Director Yasmin Fedda incorporated the rehearsals into her prize-winning documentary Queens of Syria.

    Dancing in Damascus doesn’t tell the whole story. The book tends to concentrate on “high art”, yet, with admirable concision and fluency, it assists with what journalist Ammar al-Mamoun calls “an alternative revolutionary narrative to contest the media stories of Syrian refugees and victims”. It shows how, despite everything thrown at it, the revolution has democratised moral authority, turning artist activists into the Arab world’s new “organic intellectuals”. As such it is an indispensable corrective to accounts that erase the Syrian people’s agency in favour of grand and often inaccurate geopolitical representations. It is a testament to the essential role of culture anywhere in times of crisis.

    Robin Yassin-Kassab is the author of Burning Country: Syrians in Revolution and War.

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  9. #23
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    Wow, powerful stuff there. Thanks for that, Dan.
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    What decent foreign policy looks like: https://inews.co.uk/essentials/sport...ia-no-borders/

    Jo understood that the refugee crisis, the humanitarian crisis, and the terrorism threat all stemmed from a single atrocity: Bashar al-Assad’s war against those Syrian civilians who opposed his rule. Jo rejected the suggestion that we “need to make a choice between dealing with either Assad or ISIS”. She recognised that “Assad is ISIS’s biggest recruiting sergeant, and as long as his tyranny continues, so too will ISIS’s terror”. She advocated a comprehensive approach to Syria involving humanitarian, diplomatic, and military measures.

  11. #25
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    This is also a strong piece. An account of what's happening in Aleppo now, after the media gaze has moved on:

    http://www.mei.edu/content/article/g...scarred-aleppo

    Don't know how aware most casual observers are of the class dynamic to the conflict?

    Most accounts of the outbreak of fighting, and the subsequent division of the city, stress the initial class divide between the more urbanite loyalist quarters in the west and popular neighborhoods to the east. While the more affluent residential areas in the west suffered mostly sporadic damage from indiscriminate rebel artillery fire, around 58 percent of popular (sha’bi) residences, primarily in the rebel-held east, have been assessed to be damaged or destroyed.

    It's also very good on the complexities of reconstruction and how Iran is extending its influence here.
    Last edited by DannyL; 22-06-2017 at 12:09 PM.

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  14. #27
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    That's a bit oblique

  15. #28
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    On Struggle, Suffering and Meaning, podcast with extract by Loubna Mrie and Yassin al Haj Saleh.
    LM: I completely agree. And I think the movement should be really simple. The aims of any solidarity are extremely simple. You just side with oppressed people, whether they are suffering under ISIS or under the Assad regime, or whether they are suffering under the Saudi-led coalition in Yemen. You cannot be selective in your solidarity. You cannot be selective in siding with one nation, just because your country is supposedly siding against it.
    YHS: At the same time, Loubna, it is their duty to criticize us. We are not saying that just because we are victims, we are always right. No. Please listen to us, and criticize us. But respect our humanity. Respect our agency. Don’t lecture us. Don’t impose your agendas on us. We are not telling you to shut up. No. We need you to talk. We need you to advise us, to criticize us, to criticize the narrative of victimhood which is widespread among us Syrians.
    We Syrians (and the Palestinians, of course, and in the past, the Jews) have so many victimhood narratives. We have an Alawi narrative, a Kurdish narrative, a Shi’a narrative—and now we have a very active Sunni victimhood narrative, which is interpreted and seized and controlled and exploited by the Salafi jihadis. It is not enough that you are victimized for your ideas, your narratives, your discourse, to be right and fair. No. It is not enough.
    Please criticize us. But please understand us. Let’s deal with each other as equals. What we cannot accept at all, under any circumstances, is that you deal with us as inferior to you. We are not inferior to anybody. We are equals. Being equal would mean that it is even okay that you say to me, “You are stupid.” But I will not accept anything from you unless you defend my right to be equal to you.
    If you don’t accept a dictatorial regime or an authoritarian regime in your country, why do you expect us to accept one? Why do you think that democracy is a natural state in the US and in France but it is not a natural state for us? This is racism. This is racism, and we cannot accept it.
    When you say openly, open-mouthedly, that we are equals, then, as we say in Arabic, ‘ala ‘aini wa raasi, “on my head and on my eyes” [an idiom meaning something like “I am at your service” —ed.]. Then you can criticize us and you can say, “You are stupid and you made this mistake.” But not before that. Not before you say that we are equals, we are brothers, we are equally free human beings


    Great discussion - worth reading the whole thing:https://antidotezine.com/2017/08/29/...ering-meaning/

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