Violent transitions https://www.opendemocracy.net/taxonomy/term/10261/all cached version 08/02/2019 17:24:41 en Gaza’s “Great March of Return”: an international rallying call for peace and justice https://www.opendemocracy.net/north-africa-west-asia/stephen-mccloskey/gaza-s-great-march-of-return-is-international-rallying-call <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Reduced to refugee status 70 years ago, subjected to three wars since 2008 and an eleven-year economic siege, Israel now denies Palestinians the right to protest.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/549460/Great March of Return.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title="Ashraf Amra/apaimages. All rights reserved."><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/549460/Great March of Return.jpg" alt="Ashraf Amra/apaimages. All rights reserved." title="Ashraf Amra/apaimages. All rights reserved." width="460" height="306" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Picture by Ashraf Amra/apaimages. All rights reserved.</span></span></span>In 2015, a <em>Guardian</em> <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2015/feb/10/guardian-view-right-to-march-protest-must-be-beyond-price">editorial</a> said that “The right of assembly in a public place is truly one of the cornerstones of liberty – a right to bear witness and bring peaceful pressure to bear on rulers and the public in support of a cause”.&nbsp;</p><p>Now, consider the carnage at Gaza’s border with Israel where, on 30 March, tens of thousands of men, women and children joined the ‘Great March of Return’, a six-week protest to culminate with the anniversary of the <a href="https://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/features/2017/05/nakba-start-1948-170522073908625.html"><em>Nakba</em></a> (Catastrophe), the ethnic cleansing of 700,000 Palestinians in 1948.&nbsp; </p><p>The ‘Great March of Return’ began on the anniversary of <a href="https://electronicintifada.net/content/what-it-palestinians-commemorate-land-day/5039">‘Land Day’</a> when six Palestinians were killed in 1976 while protesting the confiscation of large tracts of their land. That injustice has been compounded by another on a greater scale with <a href="https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2018/04/gaza-protest-latest-updates-180406092506561.html">39 Palestinians</a> killed to date and 4,000 injured as Israeli deployed snipers used live fire on unarmed protesters.&nbsp; </p><p>While the Israeli military claimed the use of live ammunition was needed to prevent the <a href="https://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/middle-east/palestine-land-day-israel-sharpshooters-snipers-gaza-border-protests-a8278521.html">‘mass infiltration’</a> of their border, human rights organisations have condemned Israel’s use of lethal force as pre-meditated and illegal.&nbsp; </p><p>B’tselem, the Israeli human rights organisation, <a href="https://www.btselem.org/firearms/20180404_why_soldiers_must_refuse_to_fire_at_unarmed_protesters">said</a> that “The use of live ammunition against unarmed persons who pose no danger to anyone is unlawful”, adding that “as long as soldiers in the field continue to receive orders to use live fire against unarmed civilians, they are duty-bound to refuse to comply”.</p> <h2><strong>The International Criminal Court</strong></h2> <p>Israel has also been condemned by Fatou Bensouda, Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court, who in a <a href="https://www.icc-cpi.int/Pages/item.aspx?name=180408-otp-stat">statement</a> on the killings in Gaza said “Violence against civilians - in a situation such as the one prevailing in Gaza – could constitute crimes under the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court”. She added that her office would continue to monitor the situation in Gaza and that incitement or engagement in violence is “liable to prosecution before the court”.&nbsp; </p><p>The casualties in Gaza include <a href="https://electronicintifada.net/blogs/maureen-clare-murphy/israel-kills-child-and-crushes-bones-gaza?utm_source=EI+readers&amp;utm_campaign=d83785bada-RSS_EMAIL_CAMPAIGN&amp;utm_medium=email&amp;utm_term=0_e802a7602d-d83785bada-298037717">four children</a>: 13-year-old Hussein Mohammad Adnan Madi, 15-year-old Aladdin Yahia Ismail Zamili, 17-year-old Ibrahim Abu Sha'er and 14-year-old Muhammad Ibrahim Ayyoub, all killed by live fire to the upper body.&nbsp; </p><p>A 30-year-old photographer, <a href="https://www.haaretz.com/israel-news/palestinian-journalist-wearing-press-jacket-killed-by-israeli-fire-in-1.5977830">Yaser Murtaja</a>, was shot in the chest on 6 April despite clearly wearing a ‘PRESS’ jacket and later died from his injuries; an additional <a href="https://www.timesofisrael.com/palestinian-journalist-union-says-6-reporters-shot-by-israel-in-gaza/">six journalists</a> were injured by live fire. Shamefully, the Israeli security apparatus has tried to <a href="http://www.jpost.com/Arab-Israeli-Conflict/Report-Palestinian-journalist-killed-in-Gaza-was-a-Hamas-activist-549349">smear</a> Yaser Murtaja as “an officer in the Hamas security apparatus in Gaza”.&nbsp; </p><p>This account was entirely refuted by Jan Egeland, Secretary General of the Norwegian Refugee Council, which had worked with Mr Murtaja and <a href="https://theintercept.com/2018/04/09/gaza-protest-yaser-murtaja-journalist-israel-palestine/">said</a> that he “was a civilian and a journalist”… who “wanted to document civilians exercising their right to peacefully protest.”</p> <p>Israel is deploying a powerful military apparatus on a defenceless, unarmed population that is using the most fundamental and enduring form of protest that has sustained progressive change for generations; non-violent direct action.&nbsp; </p><p>From Black Lives Matter to the Anti-Apartheid Movement in South Africa and, looking further back, to the Suffrage Movement in Britain which celebrates its centenary this year, the protest movement has been a touchstone of democracy. Israel’s targeting of civilians and the press suggests a state at odds with fundamental democratic freedoms.</p> <h2><strong>Israel’s siege</strong></h2> <p>Gaza’s two million people have been pushed beyond endurance, subjected to an eleven-year economic siege that has choked off the economy and created the highest <a href="http://gisha.org/updates/4388">unemployment rate</a> in the world.&nbsp; </p><p>An 11-year-old child in Gaza has witnessed three wars and experienced unrelenting poverty in a territory where more than half the population are <a href="https://www.unrwa.org/where-we-work/gaza-strip">refugees</a> dependent on humanitarian assistance.&nbsp; </p><p>According to <a href="https://www.savethechildren.org.uk/news/media-centre/press-releases/gaza-1-million-children-suffering-unlivable-conditions">Save the Children</a>, 90 percent of Gaza’s drinking water is unfit for human consumption, electricity is available for just 2-4 hours per day, water-borne diseases are spiking, health and emergency services are breaking down and fresh food unavailable because of a lack of refrigeration. </p><p>With <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/world/2018/apr/08/these-are-people-with-nothing-to-lose-inside-defiant-gaza">60</a>&nbsp;percent&nbsp;of Gaza’s under-25s unemployed, it is unsurprising to find so many young people on the front line in the protests for change; bereft of hope, income, the opportunity to travel and feeling isolated from the wider world.</p> <h2><strong>Rallying international support</strong></h2> <p>Gaza’s civil society has seized upon the ‘Great March of Return’ as an opportunity to rally international support and momentum toward lifting the siege which is at the root of so many social and economic ills in the territory.&nbsp; </p><p>It is also a reminder to the world that two-thirds of Palestinians in Gaza are direct descendants of the refugees who lost their land in 1948 and have a right to return to their ancestral homes.&nbsp;&nbsp;</p> <p>The concern of civil society groups standing in solidarity with Gaza is that Israel could use the march as a pretext for yet another onslaught on the territory.&nbsp; </p><p>Israel’s chief military spokesperson, Brigadier General Ronen Manelis has <a href="https://www.independent.ie/world-news/israel-threatens-to-step-up-response-amid-gaza-violence-36761544.html">suggested</a> that if the protests continue “Israel will expand its reaction to strike the militants behind it”. Such a scenario should be opposed by governments and civil society movements across the world.&nbsp; </p><p>Next month, the United States is cutting the ribbon on the <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2018/feb/23/us-brings-forward-jerusalem-embassy-opening-israel-to-may">site</a> of a new embassy in Jerusalem; a move that appears to dash hopes of a Palestinian state with its capital in East Jerusalem. And the US has also <a href="https://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/palestine-aid-donald-trump-eu-frederica-mogherini-israel-a8187606.html">slashed</a> its aid to the UN mission in Palestine which is adding further misery to a vulnerable, marginalised population.&nbsp; </p><p>With a political solution to the crisis in Gaza a seemingly distant prospect, the only possible route for progress is the mobilisation of civil society groups across the world standing in unity with Palestinians.</p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/north-africa-west-asia/isabella-bellezza-smull/from-land-day-to-70th-anniversary-of-nakba-palestinia">From Land Day to the 70th anniversary of the Nakba, Palestinians have plenty to protest</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/north-africa-west-asia/stephen-mccloskey/trump-USA-broker-in-middle-east-palestine-israel-BDS-gaza-NGO">Trump has dropped any pretence of the US as an ‘honest broker’ in the Middle-East</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/north-africa-west-asia/stephen-mccloskey/gaza-ten-years-of-economic-blockade">Gaza: ten years of economic blockade</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/north-africa-west-asia/stephen-mccloskey/visit-to-west-bank">A visit to the West Bank</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/north-africa-west-asia/stephen-mccloskey/gaza-walking-eyes-wide-open-into-another-war">Gaza: walking ‘eyes wide open’ into another war</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/north-africa-west-asia/stephen-mccloskey/palestinian-unity-should-not-become-victim-of-israel%E2%80%99s-war-on-gaza">Palestinian unity should not become a victim of Israel’s war on Gaza</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/stephen-mccloskey/palestine-and-arab-rebellions">Palestine and the Arab rebellions</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-country"> <div class="field-label"> Country or region:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Palestine </div> <div class="field-item even"> Israel </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-topics"> <div class="field-label">Topics:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Civil society </div> <div class="field-item even"> Conflict </div> <div class="field-item odd"> Democracy and government </div> <div class="field-item even"> Equality </div> <div class="field-item odd"> International politics </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> North Africa, West Asia North-Africa West-Asia Israel Palestine Civil society Conflict Democracy and government Equality International politics Palestine and the Israeli Occupation occupied territories occupation Stephen McCloskey Violent transitions Right to the city Thu, 26 Apr 2018 11:02:17 +0000 Stephen McCloskey 117453 at https://www.opendemocracy.net As Afrin burns, where is the left? https://www.opendemocracy.net/north-africa-west-asia/william-eichler/as-afrin-burns-where-is-left <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Kurds, it seems, have the misfortune of being victims of a “non-western” power and so their suffering barely registers. <strong><a href="http://dengekan.ca/archives/6341">Kurdish</a></strong></p> </div> </div> </div> <p class="Default"><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/549460/PA-34856268.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title="Ammar Safarjalani/Xinhua News Agency/Press Association Images. All rights reserved."><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/549460/PA-34856268.jpg" alt="Ammar Safarjalani/Xinhua News Agency/Press Association Images. All rights reserved." title="Ammar Safarjalani/Xinhua News Agency/Press Association Images. All rights reserved." width="460" height="306" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Syrian Kurdish people stay in a cave in a village in the countryside of the Kurdish-controlled enclave of Afrin, northern Syria, on Feb. 8, 2018. Civilians in the countryside of Afrin have been fleeing since the Turkish-led military campaign started against Kurdish fighters in Afrin. Ammar Safarjalani/Xinhua News Agency/Press Association Images. All rights reserved.</span></span></span>The unofficial motto of the Kurdish people is, as countless opinion pieces have reminded us recently, Kurds have no friends but the mountains. They make strategic alliances with great powers from time to time; but these, predictably enough, tend to end in betrayal. The vagaries of realpolitik do not lend themselves to lasting friendship.</p> <p class="Default">What is less predictable is the lack of support the Kurds have received from progressives. </p><p class="Default">Turkey’s invasion of Afrin should be bringing the international left out onto the streets of all major capitals. Protesters should be pouring into Hyde Park with the red, white, green and yellow of the Kurdish flag as the chant “We are all PYD now!” fills the air.</p> <p class="Default">But they’re not. The streets are quiet — save a few Kurdish activists — and displays of solidarity are scarce. </p><p class="Default">Compare this with the situation of another stateless people: the Palestinians. When the Israeli Defence Forces (IDF) razes Gaza to the ground, activists waste no time in donning keffiyehs and marching on Whitehall; violence in the Holy Land permeates the major periodicals and Israel is fiercely denounced on social media.</p> <p class="Default">Why, then, the relative silence when it comes to the persecution of the Kurds? </p><p class="Default">An Islamist-nationalist government, headed by the demagogic&nbsp;Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, has invaded a foreign country with the help of local jihadis in order to crush a leftist movement. And this, furthermore, while he strangles Kurdish democratic aspirations at home. Where is the outrage?</p> <p class="Default">I have <a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/north-africa-west-asia/william-eichler/singling-out-israel-perspective-from-left">written about</a> the Israel/Palestine side of this question before. The left is particularly attuned to Palestinian suffering because they are the victims of a western state — a settler colonial country formed under the aegis of a European imperial power. </p><p class="Default">A shift in left-wing focus in recent decades towards anti-colonialism and anti-racism — and the related move from class to identity politics — has meant Israel’s “western” identity has moved the Palestinian struggle centre stage in the left’s political imagination. And, in the context of the war on terror, it has gone on to steal the show.&nbsp; &nbsp;</p> <p class="Default">Here, however, I want to explore why the Kurds, the world’s largest nation without a state, do not elicit the same passions.</p> <p class="Default">The problem cannot be ideological incompatibility. The Kurdish movement as it is currently constituted in Syria and Turkey (not so much in Iraq) represents the most progressive socio-political movement in the region today. Ideologically, they are more in tune with a leftist outlook than groups such as Hamas or Hezbollah, whose opposition to Israel has earned them a free pass within some sections of the “anti-imperialist” left.&nbsp;&nbsp;</p> <p class="Default">Afrin, the site of&nbsp;Erdoğan's&nbsp;war games, is in northern Syria or western Kurdistan (Rojava). Here, the Kurdish Democratic Union Party (PYD) — an affiliate of the Turkey-based Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) — and their YPG/J militias are carrying out a radical experiment in direct democracy under the banner of democratic confederalism. </p><p class="Default">Formulated by&nbsp;Abdullah Öcalan, the imprisoned leader of the PKK, and inspired by the American anarchist Murray Bookchin, this is a form of libertarian socialism that focuses on social and environmental justice, and emphasises the end of patriarchy as a necessary element in the building of a better world.&nbsp;</p> <p class="Default">Critics argue that the democratic rhetoric is just a front for Kurdish separatism. Underneath the egalitarian veneer, they say, lurks a regressive ethno-nationalist programme. Perhaps. </p><p class="Default">Ascertaining what is happening on the ground is never easy in a time of war and no organisation is perfect. But even if the critics are right, the available evidence suggests the PYD remains more progressive than the Islamic State (IS) jihadists they have fought off, the butcher of Damascus and his theocratic backers in Tehran, or the increasingly authoritarian&nbsp;Erdoğan. Knowing who to make common cause with should not be hard.&nbsp;</p> <p class="Default">For many, however, it is. One possible reason is the complexity of the Syrian civil war and the position of Kurdish forces within it. While the PYD and the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), the military coalition led by the People’s Protection Units (YPG/J), have made various alliances (most recently with Assad), they have benefitted mostly from US support. This is not on, apparently. </p><p class="Default">Such alliances, in the eyes of some, have made the Kurds NATO stooges and are helping the west weaken the “resistance axis” which stretches, with Russian support, from Tehran, through Damascus, and into south Lebanon.&nbsp;</p> <p class="Default">There is some truth to this. The SDF’s alliance-of-convenience undermines Assad — even when taking into account recent developments — and puts a dent in Putin’s regional ambitions. It also makes Iranian expansion that little bit more costly. </p><p class="Default">However, while there is an argument for preventing the collapse of the Syrian state, the idea that the powers propping up Assad represent a <em>progressive</em> force because they are fighting western imperialism and Wahhabist encroachments is fatuous in the extreme.</p><p class="Default"> The Moscow-Tehran-Damascus axis is no ally of the left or any movement concerned with justice and equality. Just ask the residents of eastern Ghouta.&nbsp; &nbsp;&nbsp;</p> <p class="Default">Geo-politics aside, there is another element to consider. As Rosa&nbsp;Burç and Kerem Schamberger point out in <a href="https://www.jacobinmag.com/2018/02/afrin-kurdistan-syria-turkey-erdogan-is-war">Jacobin</a>, a tactical alliance with the American military does not mean the content of the PYD’s programme has changed. The Pentagon is not dictating the Kurds’ domestic agenda. Trump has no influence on the Rojava Revolution; he probably hasn’t even heard of it.</p> <p class="Default">Let’s accept that the difficulties of navigating the Syrian conflict account for some of the left’s silence on the Kurdish question. In the fog of war it is sometimes hard to make out who’s the oppressor and who’s the oppressed. This does not, however, explain the lack of solidarity offered to Kurds north of the border.&nbsp;</p> <p class="Default">In Turkey, the Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) have been persecuted by the government since winning thirteen percent of the vote in the June 2015 elections, temporarily upsetting&nbsp;Erdoğan's&nbsp;plans to create a presidential system.&nbsp;</p> <p class="Default">Emerging out of the Kurdish rights movement and animated by the pan-Anatolian spirit of the 2013 Gezi protests, the HDP have seen their former co-chairs Selahattin&nbsp;Demirtaş&nbsp;and Figen&nbsp;Yüksekdağ&nbsp;arrested and scores of activists jailed. This process has only been intensified by the wider crackdown on Turkish civil society in the wake of the 2016 coup attempt.&nbsp;</p> <p class="Default">Judicial oppression soon morphed into violent suppression. In 2015, the peace process aimed at ending the nearly forty-year-old conflict between Ankara and the PKK broke down through a combination of political expediency by the former and miscalculation by the latter. </p><p class="Default">The ensuing hostilities led to the displacement of hundreds of thousands of civilians in 2015 and 2016, and the killing of over 250 non-combatants in Turkey’s south east. But, again, the fate of the Kurds was met with near silence on the left.</p> <p class="Default">The reason for this selective solidarity was touched upon earlier. Kurds, it seems, have the misfortune of being victims of a “non-western” power and so their suffering barely registers. It is irrelevant that Turkey is a NATO power. Or a country trying to enter the European Union. Or just an autocratic state with imperial ambitions and a history of persecuting a local ethnic group. </p><p class="Default">For many on the left, it is not “western” enough to care about and therefore its victims are invisible.&nbsp;</p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/north-africa-west-asia/ercan-ayboga/geopolitics-of-kurds-and-case-of-rojava">The geopolitics of the Kurds and the case of Rojava</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/north-africa-west-asia/dunia-assa-farman-farmaian/kurds-choices-heed-history-or-us"> Kurds’ choices: heed history or the US?</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/north-africa-west-asia/behnam-amini/kurdish-struggles-and-challenge-of-foreign-support-case-of-syria">Kurdish struggles and the challenge of foreign support: the case of Syrian Kurds</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/deniz-yonucu/turkey-s-united-front-against-kurds-and-democracy">Turkey’s united front against Kurds and democracy</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/north-africa-west-asia/seevan-saeed/eastern-kurdistan-silent-politics-with-huge-casualties"> Eastern Kurdistan: a silent politics with huge casualties</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/william-eichler/making-of-demagogue-how-erdo">The making of a demagogue: how Erdoğan became Turkey&#039;s strongman</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-country"> <div class="field-label"> Country or region:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Syria </div> <div class="field-item even"> Turkey </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-topics"> <div class="field-label">Topics:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Conflict </div> <div class="field-item even"> Democracy and government </div> <div class="field-item odd"> International politics </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> North Africa, West Asia North-Africa West-Asia Turkey Syria Conflict Democracy and government International politics William Eichler Violent transitions Fri, 23 Feb 2018 08:48:36 +0000 William Eichler 116291 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Wives of ‘muhajirin’: who’s your husband? https://www.opendemocracy.net/north-africa-west-asia/wives-muhajirin-foriegn-fighters-husband-women <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Upon arriving in Syria, the first step a foreign fighter takes is to find a woman to marry. Why do Syrian women accept such marriages?&nbsp;<strong><span style="text-decoration-line: underline;"><a href="https://opendemocracy.net/north-africa-west-asia/%D8%A7%D9%84%D8%B2%D9%88%D8%A7%D8%AC-%D8%A7%D9%84%D9%85%D9%87%D8%A7%D8%AC%D8%B1%D9%88%D9%86-%D8%B3%D9%88%D8%B1%D9%8A%D8%A7-%D9%85%D9%8A%D9%86-%D8%B2%D9%88%D8%AC%D9%83/%D9%85%D8%AC%D8%A7%D9%87%D8%AF%20%D8%A3%D8%A8%D9%88%20%D8%A7%D9%84%D8%AC%D9%88%D8%AF-marriage-syria-foreign-fighters-women">عربي</a></span></strong></p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/549460/a.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title="Meen Zawjk. Public Domain."><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/549460/a.jpg" alt="Meen Zawjk. Public Domain." title="Meen Zawjk. Public Domain." width="460" height="258" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Meen Zawjk. Public Domain.</span></span></span>At the beginning of 2013, the term ‘muhajir’, or migrants, became widely used in Syria in reference to foreign fighters who had entered the country to join armed Islamist groups.</p><p> Studies indicate that their numbers exceed 80,000 immigrants of different nationalities, mostly from Tunisia, Saudi Arabia, Afghanistan, Turkistan, Germany, Britain and France.<br /> <br /> Most of the men joined Daesh after its founding in April 2013, while others joined the ranks of rival militant groups such as Al Nusra Front, currently known as Tahrir Al Sham [Liberation of the Levant], and the Islamic Turkistan Party.<br /> <br /> After arriving in Syria, the first step a muhajir usually takes is to find a woman to marry before heading to the frontlines; and for several reasons that will be explained in this investigation, Syrian women agree to such marriages.</p> <h2><strong>The local reality</strong></h2> <p><strong>Shagan</strong></p><p>Shagan, who preferred to use a pseudonym for this story, is a university graduate who, unmarried at the age of 28, had suffered many sleepless nights hearing her family complain that she was past the age of marriage and would become an old spinster. Then an Egyptian muhajir from Al Nusra Front proposed to her.</p> <p>Shagan accepted his offer of marriage for many reasons: her family’s deteriorating finances due to the ongoing war in Syria, the loss of her job – her only source of income – as well as her belief that this was her one chance to prove to her family that she was no longer a spinster.</p> <p>One week later, in 2016, she found herself married and sharing a bed with a complete stranger that she knew nothing about; not even his real name. He gave himself a Jihadist name: Abi […] the Egyptian – Shagan has preferred to omit this title.</p> <p>"Being married to a jihadist was extremely difficult as it was, and even more so as he was a muhajir!" she said.</p> <p>When asked about her husband's characteristics, she said: "He was a mean man, a fanatic and stubbornly opinionated, with no capacity for debate or conversation. Also, he forced me to wear the niqab and abaya, which I had never worn before marriage.”</p> <p>Shagan wasn’t raised in a religiously conservative family to adapt easily to such extremisms, but she fell victim to the customs and traditions of the society that she lives in, as well as to her ignorance of the true nature of such foreign fighters and their political beliefs.</p> <p>One of the reasons why she agreed to marry him, she said, was that she hoped for a comfortable life outside of Syria if he ever decided to return to his native Egypt. &nbsp;<br /> <br /> By the second week of their marriage, their problems had become clearer, and Shagan found her new life bereft of any conversation or understanding. She told her family that she wanted a divorce, but before she could tell her husband, he was killed in a battle against the Syrian regime.<br /> <br /> "My marriage to a foreign fighter was the biggest mistake of my life, and his death was my greatest mercy," she said.</p> <p><strong>Umm Walid</strong></p> <p>It was strange to hear Umm Walid [Walid’s mother], from the southern countryside of Aleppo, speak to her three-year-old son in classical Arabic when we met in Idlib, mid-2017. When we asked her why, she explained that his father had instructed her to do so before he’d returned to his home country.<br /> <br /> Her husband is of British origin but also holds a Turkish passport. He fought among Tahrir Al Sham’s ranks in Idlib, northern Syria. A few months after marrying Umm Walid, he returned to the UK, leaving her alone and heavily pregnant with a child that would one day struggle to find his father.</p> <p>Nonetheless, she feels confident that her husband will return to Syria one day or send for her to join him in Britain. However, a few months after our meeting, we were told by close relations that she had left for Raqaa on her husband’s orders.</p> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/549460/b.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title="Meen Zawjk. Public Domain."><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/549460/b.jpg" alt="Meen Zawjk. Public Domain." title="Meen Zawjk. Public Domain." width="460" height="307" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Meen Zawjk. Public Domain.</span></span></span><span></span></p><p><span><strong>Umm Saleh</strong></span></p><p> In contrast to Umm Walid, Umm Saleh [Saleh’s mother] from rural Idlib, worries about the great risk of her son having no identity and not being listed at the civil register. She recognises that a child’s life in a society such as Syria is dependent on his origin and parentage.&nbsp;</p> <p>In late 2016, her dire finances and her father’s chronic illness forced her to marry Abi Abdel Aziz, a muhajir from Turkistan fighting with the Turkistan Islamic Party. He was thirty five, while she was barely eighteen.</p><p> Using similar terms to Shagan’s, she described as her husband as “miserly, he beat me a lot and he was always suspicious.”</p> <p>She claims that he harassed her when she refused to take abortion bills as he didn’t want to have children in Syria. She wouldn’t take the pills as she wanted to comply with Islamic sharia law, so he left her and divorced her.&nbsp;</p><p> Umm Saleh considers herself to blame for the marriage, and told us that marriage to a foreigner is not favoured in Syrian society, and that she initially wasn’t happy with him before she became persuaded by his “strong faith and closeness to God”, a common factor cited by all the aforementioned women.</p><h2> <strong>Finding wives for muhajirin</strong></h2><p> According to an exclusive interview with the Syrian Network for Human Rights, foreign jihadists ‘muhajirin’ find their wives via two methods: the first is the traditional approach, whereby the jihadist asks the woman’s family for her hand in marriage. The women are found through different ways, such as, for example, a fighting comrade telling him about a female relative suitable for marriage, or through local people connected to the jihadist.</p><p> The second method is to find a wife through the Sharia institutes of the Islamist organisations to which the fighter belongs, where the jihadist announces his intention to marry, and then interested women propose to him, and he selects his pick from the lot; after which he proposes to her family.</p><p> As for their motives, the Syrian Network states: “In Idlib we noticed that there are generally no forced marriages, but what usually happens is the migrant fighter takes advantage of the woman’s conditions, such as her being from a poor family; so he pays her dowry to the family to help improve their lives.&nbsp;</p> <p>If the woman is divorced or widowed, she’s normally considered a financial and social burden on her family, so she is married off. We have also noticed marriages motivated by religious reasons, where the family marries their daughter off to a foreign muhajir in the belief that they will be rewarded by God for such an act.</p><p> Some marriages are also arranged for protection: the family is forced to accept the muhajir’s proposal as he has the power and authority to protect the wife and her family, and to give them some power in their community. As for the woman, she accepts such an offer so as not to clash with her family, and so as to have a better financial and social status through her marriage.”</p> <h2><strong>Statistics and civil reactions</strong></h2><p>Due to the sensitivity of the issue, there are no accurate statistics on the number of marriages between Syrian women and foreign fighters, but research by the Syrian Human Rights Network in Idlib shows that over 836 women were married to jihadist migrants, bearing 93 children.&nbsp;</p> <p>Meanwhile, figures from the ‘<a href="https://www.facebook.com/meen.zawjk/photos/a.1563161317138885.1073741828.1555162854605398/1563686677086349/?type=3&amp;theater">Who is Your Husband</a>’ campaign show over 1,750 marriages in Idlib, of which over 1,100 bore children. There are more than 1,800 children born of these marriages in Idlib alone.<br /> <br /> This campaign was launched in Idlib and its surrounding areas in mid-January 2018 to raise awareness among women, parents, local decision-makers, religious clerks and men of the law on how such marriages are organised.</p> <p>According to Assem Zidan, the campaign’s main coordinator, such marriages have the worst impact on the children in terms of their identities and futures.</p> <p>“Legally, these children are denied their basic civil Syrian rights, the most important of which are their identity and access to education, in addition to their being connected to their fathers” unsound legacies. <br /> Zidan also spoke about the wives’ mental, health and family status; especially since a large number of foreign fighters had left their wives either to return to their home countries, to fight elsewhere in their Islamist groups or to be killed in battle. As a result, the wives are usually left without a breadwinner and alone to face several psychological, social and familial challenges.<br /> <br /> The Syrian network believes that 52 percent of these marriages ended in different ways; and the figures cited are only for Idlib. However, any attempt to investigate the same matter in Deir Ezzour or Raqaa would be futile as discussing the topic of marriage would be considered crossing the line given tribal notions of honour that prevent such conversations. </p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/north-africa-west-asia/safa-belghith/tunisia-selective-feminism-marginalization-of-women-s-struggle">Tunisia: selective feminism and the marginalization of women’s struggles</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/north-africa-west-asia/maged-mandour/sisi-egypt-LGBT-arrest-prison-middle-class-sexual-morals">Sisi, the guardian of sexual morals</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/north-africa-west-asia/ghost-with-red-nail-polish">A ghost with red nail polish</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-country"> <div class="field-label"> Country or region:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Syria </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-topics"> <div class="field-label">Topics:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Civil society </div> <div class="field-item even"> Conflict </div> <div class="field-item odd"> Culture </div> <div class="field-item even"> Democracy and government </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> North Africa, West Asia Middle East Forum North-Africa West-Asia Syria Civil society Conflict Culture Democracy and government Women مجاهد أبو الجود Violent transitions Mid-East Forum Wed, 21 Feb 2018 17:27:09 +0000 مجاهد أبو الجود 116232 at https://www.opendemocracy.net It’s about time we all admit that Putin has prevailed in Syria https://www.opendemocracy.net/north-africa-west-asia/danny-makki/Syria-russia-assad-putin-Iran-Israel-Middle-East-oil-USA-war <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>The end game is clear: Assad, Russia and Iran will emerge victorious.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/549460/PA-34108218.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title="Syrian Presidency/Xinhua News Agency/Press Association Images. All rights reserved."><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/549460/PA-34108218.jpg" alt="lead lead Syrian Presidency/Xinhua News Agency/Press Association Images. All rights reserved." title="Syrian Presidency/Xinhua News Agency/Press Association Images. All rights reserved." width="460" height="284" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Syrian President Bashar al-Assad (2nd L, Front) and his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin (2nd R) view a military parade in the Russian-run Hmeimim Air Base in the coastal city of Latakia, Syria, on Dec. 11, 2017. Syrian Presidency/Xinhua News Agency/Press Association Images. All rights reserved.</span></span></span>The conflict in Syria has been the most vicious in contemporary history, creating a geo-political hall of mirrors pitting Syrian against Syrian, Saudi Arabia against Iran and Russia against the United States.</p><p>To say that it is the most complicated proxy war of our times is an understatement. The war has had international and regional dimensions which have served to prolong, fuel and perpetuate the crisis.</p><p>The latest of which, a dramatic clash between Syria and Israel leading to the unprecedented <a href="http://foreignpolicy.com/2018/02/12/fp-security-brief-syrian-and-israeli-forces-clash-israeli-f-16-downed/">downing</a> of an Israeli F-16 after the latter <a href="http://www.washingtoninstitute.org/policy-analysis/view/israel-signaling-a-heavy-price-for-iranian-entrenchment-in-syria">targeted</a> a group of Iranian installations in Syria, has threatened to further escalate to conflict. But in stepped Russia, and after promises made to either side, the situation calmed down, for now.</p><p>This only highlighted the growing importance of Moscow in Syria and the increasingly brave power plays Putin is making in the region. </p><p>In Syria, Russia strode in where the west was hesitant, and just over two years on from the riskiest move in post-Soviet Russian foreign policy, the end game is clear. Assad, Russia and Iran will emerge victorious, and that is a direct result of Moscow’s decision to intervene in 2015 when its long-term ally, Assad, was on the ropes and struggling to survive.</p><p>Any hopes the US had of being a powerbroker in Syria ended in September 2015. The presence of Russia immediately limited almost all western policy options that sought to oust Assad. </p><p>Russia didn’t have to worry about the Turkish-Kurdish dimension, it was too busy steamrolling Syria’s disjointed opposition. ISIS to Russia was no different to other rebel groups; in the eyes of Moscow they were all a threat to Assad and warranted an iron fist. </p><p>As Russia began to crush the anti-Assad opposition, the west could only watch from afar as the balance of power tilted in favour of the Syrian government.</p><p>The lack of western policy decisiveness is due to many factors; the emergence of a US backed Kurdish powerhouse in the north of Syria and Turkish efforts to quell that rise. The sharp rise of ISIS and other Jihadist groups further muddied the waters, creating an extra element of risk for a possible US intervention. This all played into Putin’s hands.</p><p>Over two years on from Moscow’s much maligned decision to intervene and prop up its long term Syrian ally, the Russians have been vindicated, insofar as the so-called Islamic State has been defeated and&nbsp;<a href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-middle-east-41856330" target="_blank">expelled</a>&nbsp;from all Syrian cities, the last of which in Deir-Ezzor broke the back of the terror group. </p><p>The Syrian army, with assistance from Iranian backed militias, Hezbollah and Russian firepower is now on the victory march towards the remaining opposition strongholds in Idleb, Eastern Ghouta, Daraa and Qunaitra, possibly finishing the military side of the conflict by the end of 2018.</p><p>In December 2017 President Putin victoriously&nbsp;<a href="https://www.reuters.com/article/us-mideast-crisis-syria-russia-putin/putin-in-syria-says-mission-accomplished-orders-partial-russian-pull-out-idUSKBN1E50X1" target="_blank">declared</a>&nbsp;a withdrawal of a "significant part" of Russia's military forces in Syria, and heralded a successful end to the military operation. </p><p>The echoes of negativity and criticism of Russia by the US seem but a distant memory, and President Obama’s&nbsp;<a href="http://edition.cnn.com/2015/10/02/politics/president-obama-syria-russia-assad/index.html" target="_blank">claim</a>&nbsp;that Russia would be caught in a "quagmire" never truly transpired. </p><p>Putin’s bold remarks came during a visit to&nbsp;Hmeymim air base in Latakia where he told his forces that they had “fought brilliantly” and that the operation to destroy terrorism in Syria had neared a successful completion.</p><p><span class="mag-quote-right">Russia has a new found appetite for power politics in the Middle East.&nbsp;</span></p><p>The Russians had an official&nbsp;<a href="https://www.strategic-culture.org/news/2017/12/19/syria-operation-demonstrates-russia-military-might.html" target="_blank">casualty</a>&nbsp;list of 41 soliders, though the real number may be higher, it is far removed from the thousands killed in the Soviet Union’s long and brutal insurgency war in Afghanistan. </p><p>Most important of all, Russia saved its only genuine ally in the Middle East, maintaining and expanding its power and military bases whilst sending out a strong message to the world: Russia has a new found appetite for power politics in the Middle East.&nbsp; &nbsp;</p><p>Russia's decision to intervene in Syria marked a culmination of sorts, this was the first real 'great power' involvement in the conflict on a large scale. Moscow had seen the anti-Assad opposition grow and weaponise, and it didn't act for some time, save for some strong language and the&nbsp;<a href="https://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/may/22/russia-china-veto-un-draft-resolution-refer-syria-international-criminal-court" target="_blank">use</a>&nbsp;of Veto’s at the UNSC. </p><p>September 2015, however, marked a new stage of the Syrian war, one where Moscow would emerge as victor and powerbroker.&nbsp;</p><p>As the US failed in creating a consistent and well defined policy towards the crisis, the Russians saw an opportunity and were prepared to step in.</p><p>Moscow’s intervention in Syria was timely, it checked a large-scale rebel&nbsp;<a href="https://www.alaraby.co.uk/english/news/2015/3/12/syrian-rebels-recapture-strategic-village-in-latakia" target="_blank">advance</a>&nbsp;on Assad’s coastal heartland and utilised the international mood towards groups such as ISIS and Al-Nusra, at a time after atrocities in Paris, San Bernardino and Ankara were committed. Moscow played on the west’s fear of the influx of refugees and terrorism.</p><p>The legitimate fear the coastal areas in Syria may be overrun, thus placing the Russian Naval base in Tartus under direct attack spurred Moscow on to take matters into their own hands. The naval base is not large or incredibly sophisticated, it generally holds around&nbsp;ten Russian ships and other auxiliary vessels at any one time. Its significance is mainly due to the huge distance between Russian sea ports and the Mediterranean. </p><p>Russia also has one eye on the future. In December it confirmed it will maintain a <a href="https://www.reuters.com/article/us-mideast-crisis-syria-russia-bases/russia-establishing-permanent-presence-at-its-syrian-bases-ria-idUSKBN1EK0HD">permanent</a> military presence at its air and naval bases in Syria. The agreement signed for 49 years with Damascus will allow Moscow to harbour eleven warships in Tartus including nuclear ships.</p><p>Russian intervention, in the words of foreign minister Sergei Lavrov,&nbsp;<a href="https://www.polygraph.info/a/russia-syria-lavrov-damascus/28267150.html" target="_blank">prevented</a>&nbsp;the collapse of a “country whose capital was two to three weeks away from being seized by the terrorists.” </p><p>Although this admission may have been slightly exaggerated, it still cemented the fact that Russia felt the necessity to act and did so. </p><p>Had the US been brave and acted in either 2013 after the chemical weapons accusations or in 2015 when the Syrian government was flailing and desperate, it could have been in Russia’s position today. &nbsp;</p><p>Moscow didn’t act without reason, it waited for one year of western airstrikes against ISIS in Syria, and years of support for anti-Assad groups before acting. With a swift and brutal intervention, led by thousands of attacks and airstrikes against rebel groups, and at times unfortunate civilians, of which hundreds if not thousands have been&nbsp;<a href="https://airwars.org/russian-civcas/" target="_blank">killed</a>, Russia turned the tide of the conflict towards Assad.</p><p>Moscow ensured a position of strength for itself in Syria’s geo-political war, in the greater scope of things, it emerged victorious from a risky and dangerous decision to enter a foreign conflict.</p><p class="mag-quote-left">Russia has secured its long term interests in Syria</p><p>By decisively backing President Assad Russia has secured its long term interests in Syria, gained considerable more influence in the region and sent a powerful&nbsp;<a href="https://www.nytimes.com/2015/10/15/world/middleeast/russian-military-uses-syria-as-proving-ground-and-west-takes-notice.html" target="_blank">message</a>&nbsp;to the world, that Russia is growing in strength and ambition.</p><p>Russia’s firepower was also aided by soft diplomacy; the Russians helped to broker a ceasefire in Al-Waer district in Homs, the last remaining anti-government stronghold in the city, which was the nucleus of the uprising. </p><p>The agreement on 2 December&nbsp;2015 entailed 300 rebels leaving the district with aid going the other way. Since then Aleppo, Daraa and areas around Damascus have all seen Russian brokered ceasefires. Russia established a center for reconciliation at the Hemeimim air base in Lattakia in 2015 to negotiate rebel surrenders and defections.</p><p>Russia is also set for a long term economic investment in the country and has secured a long-term foothold in Syria’s energy sector&nbsp;potentially making Syria a future long term transit hub for oil and gas shipments to Europe. This allows Russia to expand and cement its control over a European gas supply. </p><p>Soyuzneftegaz, the Russian energy giant, obtained exclusive&nbsp;<a href="https://www.nytimes.com/2017/07/05/world/middleeast/russia-syria-oil-isis.html?mcubz=1" target="_blank">rights</a>&nbsp;to explore offshore gas reserves off Syria’s coastline, while contracts, both current and pre-war, between the two countries are worth $1.6 billion alone.</p><p>It is no surprise that President Putin&nbsp;<a href="http://edition.cnn.com/2017/12/11/middleeast/putin-russia-syria-withdrawal/index.html" target="_blank">declared</a>&nbsp;“mission accomplished” in a visit to Syria in early December. Russia has no doubt altered the trajectory of the Syrian conflict, ultimately dictating a winning outcome.</p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/paul-rogers/syrias-wars-new-dynamic">Syria&#039;s wars: a new dynamic</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/od-russia/pawel-pieniazek/kremlin-kobane-kurdistan">The Kremlin as seen from Kobane</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/od-russia/ekaterina-fomina/syrian-refugees-in-russia">Syrian refugees in Russia have to fight for their rights</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/od-russia/neil-hauer/to-victors-ruins-challenges-of-russia-s-reconstruction-in-syria">To the victors, the ruins: the challenges of Russia’s reconstruction in Syria</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/od-russia/rafia-salamah/russian-soldiers-in-damascus">Russian soldiers in Damascus: politics isn’t everything</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/od-russia/tanya-lokshina/refugee-family-s-ordeal-in-russia">A refugee family’s ordeal in Russia</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/north-africa-west-asia/danny-makki/why-sectarianism-fails-at-explaining-conflict-in-syria">Why sectarianism fails at explaining the conflict in Syria</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/od-russia/syriauntold-editors-of-opendemocracy-russia/why-are-russians-indifferent-to-syrian-conflic">Why are Russians indifferent to the Syrian conflict?</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-country"> <div class="field-label"> Country or region:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Syria </div> <div class="field-item even"> Russia </div> <div class="field-item odd"> Iran </div> <div class="field-item even"> Israel </div> <div class="field-item odd"> United States </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-topics"> <div class="field-label">Topics:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Conflict </div> <div class="field-item even"> Democracy and government </div> <div class="field-item odd"> International politics </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> North Africa, West Asia North-Africa West-Asia United States Israel Iran Russia Syria Conflict Democracy and government International politics Danny Makki Geopolitics Violent transitions Sun, 18 Feb 2018 17:49:18 +0000 Danny Makki 116190 at https://www.opendemocracy.net نساء المهاجرين..مين زوجك؟ https://www.opendemocracy.net/north-africa-west-asia/%D8%A7%D9%84%D8%B2%D9%88%D8%A7%D8%AC-%D8%A7%D9%84%D9%85%D9%87%D8%A7%D8%AC%D8%B1%D9%88%D9%86-%D8%B3%D9%88%D8%B1%D9%8A%D8%A7-%D9%85%D9%8A%D9%86-%D8%B2%D9%88%D8%AC%D9%83/%D9%85%D8%AC%D8%A7%D9%87%D8%AF%20%D8%A3%D8%A8%D9%88%20%D8%A7%D9%84%D8%AC%D9%88%D8%AF-marriage-syria-foreign-fighters-women <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p class="western" dir="rtl">الخطوة الأولى للمهاجر بعد وصوله إلى سوريا، هي البحثُ عن امرأة للزواج منها. لماذا&nbsp;تَقبَلُ المرأةُ السورية هذا النوع من الزواج؟&nbsp;<strong><em><a href="https://opendemocracy.net/north-africa-west-asia/wives-muhajirin-foriegn-fighters-husband-women">English</a></em></strong></p> </div> </div> </div> <p dir="rtl"><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/549460/26840682_1563522580436092_8940719609958019039_o.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title="Meen Zawjk. Public Domain."><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/549460/26840682_1563522580436092_8940719609958019039_o.jpg" alt="Meen Zawjk. Public Domain." title="Meen Zawjk. Public Domain." width="460" height="258" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Meen Zawjk. Public Domain.</span></span></span>مع بداية عام ٢٠١٣ بدا مصطلح "المهاجرون" أكثرَ وضوحاً في سوريا، وهم المقاتلون الأجانب الذين قدموا للانخراط في صفوف التنظيمات الإسلامية المسلحة.</p><p dir="rtl">تشير دراساتٌ إلى أن أعدادهم تتجاوز<a href="http://orient-news.net/ar/news_show/139605/0/%D8%A8%D8%A7%D9%84%D8%A3%D8%B1%D9%82%D8%A7%D9%85-%D8%AF%D8%B1%D8%A7%D8%B3%D8%A9-%D8%AA%D8%A8%D9%8A%D9%86-%D8%B9%D8%AF%D8%AF-%D8%A7%D9%84%D9%85%D9%82%D8%A7%D8%AA%D9%84%D9%8A%D9%86-%D8%A7%D9%84%D8%A3%D8%AC%D8%A7%D9%86%D8%A8-%D9%81%D9%8A-%D8%B3%D9%88%D8%B1%D9%8A%D8%A7-%D9%88%D8%AA%D9%88%D8%B2%D8%B9%D9%87%D9%85"> الـ 80 ألف مهاجر</a>، من جنسيات مختلفة تتراوح أغلبها بين تونس والسعودية وأفغانستان وتركستان وألمانيا وبريطانيا وفرنسا.</p><p dir="rtl">معظمهم انضم إلى تنظيم داعش بعد تشكيله في نيسان عام ٢٠١٣، بينما انضوى بعضهم في صفوف تنظيمات أخرى كجبهةِ النصرة المعروفة حالياً بتنظيم "هيئة تحرير الشام" و"حزبِ التركستان الإسلامي".&nbsp;</p><p dir="rtl">وعادةً ما تكون الخطوة الأولى للمهاجر بعد وصوله إلى سوريا، هي البحثُ عن امرأة للزواج منها قبل التوجه إلى جبهات القتال، ولأسباب عدة سنُوضِحُهَا في هذا التحقيق تَقبَلُ المرأةُ السورية هذا النوع من الزواج.</p><h2 dir="rtl">الواقع المحلي</h2><h3 dir="rtl">شجن </h3><p dir="rtl">"شَجَن"، التي فضلت استخدام اسم مستعار لتروي قصتها، هي خريجة جامعية عانت من أرقٍ مستمرٍ لسماع عبارة عائلتها المعتادة "فاتك سن الزواج وأصبحت عانس" بعدما وصلت لسن الثامنة والعشرين من عمرها من دون زواج، قبل أن يتقدم إليها مهاجر مصري يقاتل في صفوف تنظيم هيئة تحرير الشام ويطلب يدها.</p><p dir="rtl">وبسبب تردي أوضاع عائلتها المادي جراء الحرب المندلعة في سوريا، وخسارة شجن لعملها الذي كانت تعيش منه، بالإضافة إلى اعتقادها أن هذه هي فرصتها الوحيدة لتقول لعائلتها "لا.. لست عانس"، قبلت شجن بالزواج من المهاجر المصري.</p><p dir="rtl">وفي غضون أسبوع واحد من العام ٢٠١٦ كانت شجن في عشها الزوجي مع شخص لم تكن تعرف عنه حتى اسمه. فقد كان يكنّى بأبي فلانٍ المصريّ، والذي فضلت شجن عدم ذكر لقبه أيضاً.</p><p dir="rtl">تقول شجن: "تجربة الزواج من مقاتل هي تجربة صعبة للغاية، فكيف لو كان مهاجراً أيضاً!" وعند سؤالها عن خصال زوجها، قالت: "لقد كان رجلاً لئيماً، متعصباً، ومتمسكاً برأيه، وعديم ملكات الحوار والنقاش. كما أنه أجبرني على وضع النقاب ولبس العباءة اللتان لم أكن أرتديهنّ قبل الزواج."</p><p dir="rtl">لم تنشئ شجن في عائلة محافِظة دينيّاً كي تتأقلم بسهولة مع هذا التطرف، لكنها وقعت ضحية عادات المجتمع الذي تعيش فيه وتقاليده، وضحية قلة معرفتها بخلفيات المقاتلين الأجانب الوافدين والتداعيات السياسية لهم. وعلى حد قولها، فإن أحد أسباب اقتناعها بالزواج منه، هو أنها كانت تتطلع لحياة كريمة خارج سوريا في حال قرر زوجها العودة إلى بلده مصر.</p><p dir="rtl">ومع مرور الأسبوع الثاني من زواجها بدت المشاكل أكثرَ وضوحاً، ولم يجد الحوارُ والتفاهم سبيلاً في حياة شجن الجديدة. أخبرت عائلتها برغبتها في الطلاق، إلا أنه&nbsp;أن قبل أن تصرح شجن بذلك لزوجها، لقي مصرعه في معركة ضد قوات النظام السوري.</p><p dir="rtl">تعقب أخيراً شجن "زواجي من مقاتل أجنبي كان أكبر خطأ في حياتي، وموتُه كان الرحمة الأكبر لي."</p><h3 dir="rtl">أم وليد</h3><p dir="rtl">لقد كان غريباً سماعُ أم وليد، من ريف حلب الجنوبي، وهي تكلم ابنها الذي لم يتجاوز الثالثة من عمره بالعربية الفصحى عندما التقينا بها في إدلب منتصف العام ٢٠١٧. وبعد سؤالنا لها عن السبب، أخبرتنا أنّ والده أوصاها بهذا قبل أن يرجع لموطنه.</p><p dir="rtl">زوجها البريطاني الأصل، يحملُ أيضاً الجنسية التركية، قاتل في صفوف هيئة تحرير الشام في إدلب شمالي سوريا، ثم عاد إلى بريطانيا بعد أشهرَ قليلةً من زواجه بأم وليد، تاركاً لها جنيناً يقترب يوماً بعد آخر من الخروج لعالم سيتعبه في رحلة البحث عن والده.</p><p dir="rtl">لكنّ أم وليد مقتنعةٌ أنّ زوجها سيعود إلى سوريا أو يرسلَ خلفها إلى بريطانيا بحسب ما أضافت، قبل أن ترحل بعد أشهر قليلة من التقاءنا بها إلى الرقة، بناءً على طلب من زوجها، بحسب&nbsp; مقربين&nbsp;منها.</p><p dir="rtl"><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/549460/26849994_1566585046796512_4592735609700699162_o.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title="Meen Zawjk. Public Domain."><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/549460/26849994_1566585046796512_4592735609700699162_o.jpg" alt="Meen Zawjk. Public Domain." title="Meen Zawjk. Public Domain." width="460" height="307" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Meen Zawjk. Public Domain.</span></span></span></p><h3><p dir="rtl"><span>أم صالح</span></p></h3><p dir="rtl">وبالمخالفة مع أم وليد، تشعر أم صالح، ابنةُ ريف إدلب، بخطرِ كونِ ابنها مجهول الهوية، وغير مقبول في النفوس الرسمية (السجل المدني)، فهي تعتبر أن حياة طفلها في مجتمعٍ كما المجتمع السوريِّ مرهونةٌ بمعرفة أصله ونسبه.</p><p dir="rtl">في أواخر العام ٢٠١٦، أجبرتِ الظروفُ الماديةُ السيئة ومرضُ والدِها المزمنُ أمَ صالح على القَبول من الزواج بأبي عبد العزيز. هو مهاجر تركستانيّ &nbsp;يقاتل في صفوف حزب التركستان الإسلامي، يبلغ من العمر خمساً وثلاثين سنة، بينما لم تتخطَ أم صالح الثامنة عشر من عمرها.</p><p dir="rtl">وبعد زواجها منه وصفته لنا بعبارات تشابه وصف شجن قائلةً: "كان بخيلاً، وشديدَ الضرب وشكّاك." وبحسب ما أفادت فإنها قد تعرضت للتعنيف من قبله عند رفضها أخذ حبوب الإجهاض، لأنه لم يكن يريد إنجاب أطفال في سوريا. إلا أنها أصرت على الامتناع عن أخذها امتثالاً للشرع الإسلامي، ليهجرها ويطلقها لاحقاً.&nbsp; &nbsp;</p><p dir="rtl">والدة أم صالح، التي تعتبر نفسها الملامة في هذا الزواج تقول لنا أن الزواج من أجنبي غير محبذٍ في المجتمع السوري، وأنها لم تكن راضيةً عنه في البداية قبل أن تقتنع لاحقاً "بحسن خُلُقِه وإيمانه وقربه من الله عز وجل" على حد تعبيرها، وهي الصفة الداعمة للقرار والمشتركة في جميع الحالات السابقة.&nbsp;</p><h3 dir="rtl"> طرق زواج السوريات من المهاجرين</h3><p dir="rtl">وبحسب تصريح الشبكة السورية لحقوق الإنسان في حديث خاص، فإن الزواج من جهاديين أجانب "مهاجرين" يتم عبر طريقتين:</p><p dir="rtl">الأولى هي الطريقة التقليدية، حيث يتقدم الجهاديُّ بطلب زواج الأنثى من عائلتها، والتي يستدل إليهم بطرقٍ مختلفة، كأن يخبره أحد عناصره المقاتلين بوجود قريبة لديه مناسبة للزواج، أو عبر أشخاص محليين تربطهم علاقات بالجهاديّ الراغب بذلك.</p><p dir="rtl">أما الطريقة الثانية، فتكون عبر المعاهد الشرعية التابعة للتنظيم الإسلامي الذي ينتمي له المقاتل. يترك الجهاديّ خبراً بنيته الزواج، ثم تتقدم له الراغبات من النساء، وبعد اختياره يتقدم بطلب الزواج من عائلتها.</p><p dir="rtl">وعن الدوافع تقول الشبكة السورية: "في إدلب لاحظنا عدم وجود زواج قسريّ بالمعنى العام، لكن ما يحصل هو أن يقوم المهاجر باستغلال ظروف الأنثى. فإن كانت من عائلة فقيرة قام برفع مهرها وإعطاءه للعائلة لتحسين أوضاعهم. وإن كان الأنثى أرملة أو مطلقة، فغالباً ما تشكل عبئاً ماديّاً واجتماعياً على عائلتها فيتم تزويجها. وأيضاً لاحظنا زيجات تمت لدوافع دينية حيث تقوم العائلة بقبول زواج الأجنبي من ابنتها كونه مهاجر، وتزويجه يحمل الأجر بالمفهوم الديني.</p><p dir="rtl">كما أن بعض الزيجات تمت بدافع الحماية، فتلجأ العائلة إلى القبول بالزوج المهاجر لما لديه من قوة وسلطة تحمي الزوجة وعائلتها، وتمنحهم القوة في المجتمع المحلي. أما عن المرأة فهي تجد نفسها أمام خيار الموافقة على هذا النوع من الزواج كي لا تصطدم مع عائلتها، ولأملها أن يحمل لها هذا الزواج وضعاً مادياً واجتماعياً أفضل."</p><h3 dir="rtl">أرقامٌ وردودُ أفعالٍ مدنية</h3><p dir="rtl">ولحساسية القضية فإنه لا توجد أرقام دقيقة لحالات زواج النساء من مقاتلين مهاجرين في سوريا، لكن إحصاءات الشبكة السورية لحقوق الإنسان في محافظة إدلب، أشارت إلى ما يربو عن ٨٣٦ أنثى تزوجن من مهاجرين جهاديين، بينهم ٩٣ طفلة، بينما تشير أرقام حملة <a href="https://www.facebook.com/meen.zawjk/photos/a.1563161317138885.1073741828.1555162854605398/1563686677086349/?type=3&amp;theater">«مين زوجك»</a> إلى وجود نحو ١٧٥٠ حالة زواج في المحافظة ذاتها، أكثر من ١١٠٠ منهنّ أصبح لديهنّ أطفال، وتجاوز عدد الأطفال ١٨٠٠ طفل.</p><p dir="rtl">وقد انطلقت مؤخراً حملة «مين زوجِك؟» منتصف شهر كانون الثاني/يناير من العام الحالي، ضمن نطاق محافظة إدلب والمناطق المتصلة بها، لتوعية النساء وأولياء الأمور، وأصحاب القرار المحليين، ورجال الدين والقانون المعنيين، بتنظيم عقود مثل هذا النوع من الزواج، بحسب عاصم زيدان، المنسق العام للحملة، ويضيف: "أهم الآثار السلبية والناجمة عن زواج السوريات من مهاجرين هي مستقبل الأطفال وهويتهم، فهم حكماً وقانوناً مجرّدون من الحقوق المدنية السورية، ومن أهم هذه الحقوق: الهوية والتعليم، إضافة لتعلق هؤلاء الأطفال بشيء من الموروث الغير سليم المرتبط بآبائهم."</p><p dir="rtl">كما ومن النتائج السلبية أيضاً التي تحدث عنها زيدان، الوضع النفسي والصحي والعائلي لنساء زيجات هذا النوع، خاصةً وأن نسبةً كبيرة من هؤلاء المهاجرين تركوا زوجاتهم إما بعودتهم لبلدانهم الأصلية، أو انتقالهم مع تنظيماتهم لمناطق مختلفة، أو بمقتلهن في حالات أخرى.</p><p dir="rtl">إثر ذلك تبقى الزوجة غالباً دون معيل، وأمام مواجهة تحدياتٍ عديدة على المستوى النفسي والاجتماعي والأسري.&nbsp;</p><p dir="rtl">وعن موضوع ترك الأزواج لزوجاتهن، تعتبر الشبكة السورية أنه يمكن القول أنّ ٥٢% من حالات الزواج هذه انتهت بطرق مختلفة. و للتنويه فإن الأرقام الواردة في هذا التحقيق تشير لمحافظة إدلب فقط على وجه الخصوص، حيث يعتبر الخوض في هذه القضية في دير الزور والرقة من الخطوط الحمراء، وتأخذ منحىً عشائري متعلق بالشرف، ولا يُسمح بالحديث عنه بحسب المفهوم السائد في تلك المناطق.</p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/north-africa-west-asia/%D8%B3%D9%88%D8%B1%D9%8A%D8%A7-%D8%AD%D9%84%D8%A8-%D8%AD%D8%B5%D8%A7%D8%B1-%20%D9%A2%D9%A0%D9%A1%D9%A6/%D9%85%D8%AC%D8%A7%D9%87%D8%AF-%D8%A3%D8%A8%D9%88-%D8%A7%D9%84%D8%AC%D9%88%D8%AF">ما بقي لي من حلب</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/north-africa-west-asia/%D8%AF%D8%A7%D8%B1-%D8%A3%D9%8A%D8%AA%D8%A7%D9%85-%D8%B3%D9%88%D8%B1%D9%8A%D8%A7-%D8%AA%D8%B1%D9%83%D9%8A%D8%A7/%D9%85%D8%AC%D8%A7%D9%87%D8%AF%20%D8%A3%D8%A8%D9%88%20%D8%A7%D9%84%D8%AC%D9%88%D8%AF">بين الفقدان وآثار الحرب.. حكايا الأيتام السوريين في تركيا</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/north-africa-west-asia/%D8%A3%D9%88%D8%B1%D9%88%D8%A8%D8%A7-%D8%B3%D9%88%D8%B1%D9%8A%D8%A7-%D8%A7%D9%84%D9%84%D8%AC%D9%88%D8%A1-refugee-migration-syria-EU/%D8%AC%D9%88%D8%A7%D9%86%20%D8%B3%D9%88%D8%B2">هل سيتوقف الانتظار يوماً ما؟</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/north-africa-west-asia/%D8%A7%D9%84%D8%A5%D8%B9%D9%84%D8%A7%D9%85-%D8%A7%D9%84%D8%B5%D8%AD%D8%A7%D9%81%D8%A9-%D8%B3%D9%88%D8%B1%D9%8A%D8%A7-%D8%A3%D8%B7%D9%81%D8%A7%D9%84-%D8%A5%D9%86%D8%B3%D8%A7%D9%86%D9%8A%D8%A9/%D8%AC%D9%88%D8%A7%D9%86%20%D8%B3%D9%88%D8%B2">كيف سيحذف الطفل السوري صورة فقره من محركات البحث؟</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/north-africa-west-asia/%D8%AA%D9%83%D9%86%D9%88%D9%84%D9%88%D8%AC%D9%8A%D8%A9-%D8%A7%D9%84%D8%A5%D8%B9%D9%84%D8%A7%D9%85-%D8%A7%D9%84%D8%A7%D9%86%D8%AA%D8%B1%D9%86%D8%AA-%D8%AD%D9%82%D8%A7%D8%A6%D9%82-%D8%AF%D9%8A%D9%83%D8%AA%D8%A7%D8%AA%D9%88%D8%B1%D9%8A%D8%A9/%D8%B9%D9%84%D9%8A%20%D8%A8%D9%87%D9%84%D9%88%D9%84">عن تعدد الوقائع، والعبث الدامي بالحقيقة</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/north-africa-west-asia/%D8%A5%D8%B9%D9%84%D8%A7%D9%85-%D8%A7%D9%84%D9%85%D9%88%D8%A7%D8%B7%D9%86-%D8%B3%D9%88%D8%B1%D9%8A%D8%A7-%D8%A5%D9%8A%D8%AF%D9%8A%D9%88%D9%84%D9%88%D8%AC%D9%8A%D8%A7/%D8%B9%D9%84%D9%8A-%D8%A8%D9%87%D9%84%D9%88%D9%84">الإعلام في مصيدة الإيديولوجيا</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-country"> <div class="field-label"> Country or region:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Syria </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-topics"> <div class="field-label">Topics:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Conflict </div> <div class="field-item even"> Culture </div> <div class="field-item odd"> Democracy and government </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> North Africa, West Asia Middle East Forum North-Africa West-Asia Syria Conflict Culture Democracy and government Women مجاهد أبو الجود Violent transitions Mid-East Forum Arabic language Sun, 04 Feb 2018 10:33:08 +0000 مجاهد أبو الجود 115909 at https://www.opendemocracy.net هل سيتوقف الانتظار يوماً ما؟ https://www.opendemocracy.net/north-africa-west-asia/%D8%A3%D9%88%D8%B1%D9%88%D8%A8%D8%A7-%D8%B3%D9%88%D8%B1%D9%8A%D8%A7-%D8%A7%D9%84%D9%84%D8%AC%D9%88%D8%A1-refugee-migration-syria-EU/%D8%AC%D9%88%D8%A7%D9%86%20%D8%B3%D9%88%D8%B2 <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p class="western" dir="rtl">إن الانتظار اليوم هو مسلسلُ سوري بامتياز والسوريون هم من يؤدون كلّ أدوارهِ دون أن يعرفوا متى سيتمكنون من التخلصِ منه.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p dir="rtl"><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/549460/PA-25755810.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title="Michele Amoruso/SIPA USA/Press Association Images. All rights reserved."><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/549460/PA-25755810.jpg" alt="Michele Amoruso/SIPA USA/Press Association Images. All rights reserved." title="Michele Amoruso/SIPA USA/Press Association Images. All rights reserved." width="460" height="307" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>A refugee camp on the Greek-Macedonian border in Idomeni. March 6, 2016. Michele Amoruso/SIPA USA/Press Association Images. All rights reserved.</span></span></span>مهما اختلفَ موقفُ المواطن السوري سياسياً وعسكرياً مما يجري في بلاده منذ اندلاع الاحتجاجات الشعبيّة هناك منتصف آذار/مارس 2011، أو مهما كان انتماؤه القومي أو الديني، فإنه ينبغي عليه "الانتظار" حتى ولو كان يرفض أن يعيش تلك الحالة بشكلٍ مطلق.</p><p dir="rtl">وبحسب الوقائع التي نسمعها من السوريين بين الحين والآخر، فإن معظمهم، يتقاسمون هذا الانتظار فيما بينهم كما يتقاسمون خراب بلادهم.</p><p dir="rtl">وعلى ما يبدو، فإن الانتظار في الحالة السورية الراهنة، هي عقوبة إضافية لهم كضريبة للحرب التي تشهدها البلاد، حيث يرافقُ معظمهم سواءً داخل بلدهم أو خارجه. </p><p dir="rtl">فالسوري في الداخل يسعى للهروب نحو بلدٍ آخر، ولشدّة معاناته مما يجري، لا مشكلة لدى بعضهم الوصول إلى دول الجوار السوري مهما كانت ظروفهم فيها ستكون أصعب من ظروفهم في بلدهم.</p><p dir="rtl">والانتظار السوري غالباً، يتمُ على خطوات ومراحل ولكلِ خطوة ومرحلة حالة انتظار مختلفة عن سابقاتها. </p><p dir="rtl">ففي الداخل السوري، يرغبُ السوريون بالوصول إلى دولةٍ في الجوار، ومن تلك الدولة عليهم الانتظار مرة أخرى قبل الوصول إلى أوروبا أخيراً.</p><p dir="rtl">وقبل الوصول إلى أوروبا، يعيش السوريون جميعاً حالة الانتظار هذه مع الكثير من القلق والحيرة. كيف سيتمكنون من الوصول إلى أوروبا من دول الجوار؟ وكيف سيقومون باختيار الدولة التي تُناسبهم أكثر؟ هل سيصلون بطريقة شرعيّة أم غير شرعية؟ كم سيكلف سفرهم من المال؟ وهل إمكانية الحصول على تأشيرة سفرٍ أوروبية ممكنة أم مستحيلة؟ </p><p dir="rtl">أسئلة كثيرة تراودهم واتصالات هاتفية كثيرة تكلفهم عبئاً نفسياً أكبر بكثير من العبء المادي.</p><p dir="rtl">ولكن الأمر الأكثر تعقيداً في هذه القضية، هو اختيار السوري لوجهته المحددة، حيث أن أغلبهم يحددها نتيجة وجود أقرباء لهم في بلدٍ ما أو أصدقاء ومعارف سيتمكنون من مساعدتهم هناك، ريثما يستطيعون الحصول على وثائق اللجوء بمختلف حالاتها السياسية والإنسانيّة. والبعض الآخر لا يهمه سوى الوصول إلى بلدٍ أوروبي مهما كانت أوضاعه فيها ستكون مختلفة عن بلاده وصعبة عليه.</p><p dir="rtl">وفي مختلف الأوقات ومعظمها، يجدُ السوري أن أوروبا أفضل من بلده بكثير مهما كانت حياته فيها غير مستقرة لعدم اتقانه لغة البلد الّذي وصل إليه واختلاف العادات والتقاليد والقوانين عمّا كانت عليها في بلده. </p><p dir="rtl">ربّما يعود السبب الأبرز لهذه المفارقة هو الأمان الّذي يشعر به السوري في تلك البلاد لاسيما وأنه قد خرج للتو من تحت القصف العشوائي ولم يعد يسمع أصوات الطائرات وهي تقصف منزله من السماء بالبراميل المتفجّرة.&nbsp;</p><p dir="rtl">في أوروبا، ليست هناك حروب تقتل أطفالهم ولا تنظيمات راديكالية تنحرهم بالسكاكين ولا أنظمة ديكتاتورية تقتلهم تحت التعذيب. </p><p dir="rtl">هناك، سوف لن يتعرض منزل هذا السوري الّذي إما كان يستأجره في ضواحي المدن الكبرى أو كان قد أشتراه بعد سنواتٍ من التعب في أعمالٍ يدوية شاقّة للقصف، ولن يضطر نتيجة ذلك للنزوح بين مدينةٍ وأخرى والبحث عن ملجئِ جديد.</p><p dir="rtl">ووفق اعتقاد هؤلاء، فإن أوروبا هي الخيمة الّتي لن تطير في الهواء لو كان هناك عاصفة في البلد الّذي وصلوا إليه. </p><p dir="rtl">هنا منزلُ "السوري" الدائم الّذي تساعده الدولة في دفعِ ثمن آجارهِ الشهري وتقدّم له مختلف امتيازاتها من التأمين الصحي والضمان الاجتماعي والدراسي، له ولأفراد أسرته. هذه الحقوق الّتي لم تكن بحوزة السوري في بلده الأم، وكانت بالنسبة إليه أقربُ إلى الحلم.</p><p dir="rtl">وأذكر هنا، على سبيل المثال، كيف أن لاجئاً سورياً يعيش في أوروبا ابتسم لي، عندما سألته عن الروتين والبيروقراطيّة عند حصوله على أوراق اللجوء، قائلاً: "كُنا في سوريا نقف في طوابير طويلة لأجل الحصول على قسائم المحروقات التي لم تكن تتجاوز قيمتها المائة دولار آنذاك. هنا نقف للحصول على كل حقوقنا كمواطنين".</p><p dir="rtl">المفارقات كبيرة وكثيرة بين بلاد هؤلاء اللاجئين والبلاد الّتي قرروا اللجوء إليها. لكن الأمر الّذي لا يختلف بالنسبة إليهم هو الانتظار، حتى بعد وصولهم إلى أوروبا. </p><p dir="rtl">هنا في أوروبا بعضهم يعدًّ الساعات وهو ينتظر استكمال إجراءات معاملةِ لمِ شملِ أسرهم والتي تستغرق وقتاً طويلاً وبعضهم الآخر ينتظر الحصول على عملٍ دائم كي يتمكن من طلب جنسيةِ بلدٍ أوروبي، ليستطيع من خلالها السفر بسهولة لزيارة أهله في دول الجوار السوري، وبعضهم الآخر، صار يتمنى أن يعود إلى بلاده وما زال ينتظر أن تنتهي الحرب.&nbsp;</p><p dir="rtl">يقول أحد هؤلاء ضاحكاً والّذي يتمنى أن يستطيع العودة إلى بلده، "إننا متأكدون إن الحرب، سوف تتوقف يوماً، لكن لا نعتقد أن الانتظار سينتهي". </p><p dir="rtl">ربّما من هذه الجملة الأخيرة، يمكننا القول، إن الانتظار اليوم هو مسلسلُ سوري بامتياز والسوريون هم من يؤدون كلّ أدوارهِ دون أن يعرفوا متى سيتمكنون من التخلصِ منه!</p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/north-africa-west-asia/%D8%A7%D9%84%D8%A5%D8%B9%D9%84%D8%A7%D9%85-%D8%A7%D9%84%D8%B5%D8%AD%D8%A7%D9%81%D8%A9-%D8%B3%D9%88%D8%B1%D9%8A%D8%A7-%D8%A3%D8%B7%D9%81%D8%A7%D9%84-%D8%A5%D9%86%D8%B3%D8%A7%D9%86%D9%8A%D8%A9/%D8%AC%D9%88%D8%A7%D9%86%20%D8%B3%D9%88%D8%B2">كيف سيحذف الطفل السوري صورة فقره من محركات البحث؟</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/north-africa-west-asia/%D8%B3%D9%88%D8%B1%D9%8A%D8%A7-%D8%AD%D9%84%D8%A8-%D8%AD%D8%B5%D8%A7%D8%B1-%20%D9%A2%D9%A0%D9%A1%D9%A6/%D9%85%D8%AC%D8%A7%D9%87%D8%AF-%D8%A3%D8%A8%D9%88-%D8%A7%D9%84%D8%AC%D9%88%D8%AF">ما بقي لي من حلب</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/north-africa-west-asia/%D8%AF%D8%A7%D8%B1-%D8%A3%D9%8A%D8%AA%D8%A7%D9%85-%D8%B3%D9%88%D8%B1%D9%8A%D8%A7-%D8%AA%D8%B1%D9%83%D9%8A%D8%A7/%D9%85%D8%AC%D8%A7%D9%87%D8%AF%20%D8%A3%D8%A8%D9%88%20%D8%A7%D9%84%D8%AC%D9%88%D8%AF">بين الفقدان وآثار الحرب.. حكايا الأيتام السوريين في تركيا</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/north-africa-west-asia-%D9%81%D8%B1%D8%AD-%D9%8A%D9%88%D8%B3%D9%81-MEF-%D8%B3%D9%88%D8%B1%D9%8A%D8%A7-Middle-East-Forum">شبح بأظافر مطلية بالأحمر</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/north-africa-west-asia-MEF-%D8%A7%D9%84%D8%B5%D8%AD%D8%A7%D9%81%D8%A9-%D8%A7%D9%84%D8%B3%D9%88%D8%B1%D9%8A%D9%91%D8%A9-%D8%A5%D8%B9%D9%84%D8%A7%D9%85-%D8%B3%D9%88%D8%B1%D9%8A%D8%A7">صراع البقاء ورهانات التغيير.. الصحافة السوريّة إلى أين؟</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/north-africa-west-asia-%D8%B3%D9%88%D8%B1%D9%8A%D8%A7-%20%D8%A7%D9%84%D8%B9%D9%85%D9%84-%D8%A7%D9%84%D8%AB%D9%82%D8%A7%D9%81%D9%8A-%D8%AA%D8%B1%D9%83%D9%8A%D9%91%D8%A7-%D8%A7%D9%84%D8%AA%D9%87%D9%85%D9%8A%D8%B4">سياسات العمل الثقافي السوري في تركيّا: التهميش مازال مستمراً -١ من ٢</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/north-africa-west-asia/%D8%B3%D9%88%D8%B1%D9%8A%D8%A7-%20%D8%A7%D9%84%D8%B9%D9%85%D9%84-%D8%A7%D9%84%D8%AB%D9%82%D8%A7%D9%81%D9%8A-%D8%AA%D8%B1%D9%83%D9%8A%D9%91%D8%A7/%D9%88%D8%B3%D9%8A%D9%85-%D8%A7%D9%84%D8%B4%D8%B1%D9%82%D9%8A">سياسات العمل الثقافي السوري في تركيّا: إسلاميّون وعلمانيّون ما وراء الجدار -٢ من ٢</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/north-africa-west-asia/%D8%AA%D9%83%D9%86%D9%88%D9%84%D9%88%D8%AC%D9%8A%D8%A9-%D8%A7%D9%84%D8%A5%D8%B9%D9%84%D8%A7%D9%85-%D8%A7%D9%84%D8%A7%D9%86%D8%AA%D8%B1%D9%86%D8%AA-%D8%AD%D9%82%D8%A7%D8%A6%D9%82-%D8%AF%D9%8A%D9%83%D8%AA%D8%A7%D8%AA%D9%88%D8%B1%D9%8A%D8%A9/%D8%B9%D9%84%D9%8A%20%D8%A8%D9%87%D9%84%D9%88%D9%84">عن تعدد الوقائع، والعبث الدامي بالحقيقة</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/north-africa-west-asia/%D9%85%D9%86%D8%AA%D8%AF%D9%89-%D8%A7%D9%84%D8%B4%D8%B1%D9%82-%D8%A7%D9%84%D8%A3%D9%88%D8%B3%D8%B7-%D8%B3%D9%88%D8%B1%D9%8A%D8%A7-%D8%AD%D8%AF%D9%8A%D9%82%D8%A9-%D8%AD%D9%8A%D9%88%D8%A7%D9%86%D8%A7%D8%AA-%D8%AD%D9%84%D8%A8/%D9%85%D8%AC%D8%A7%D9%87%D8%AF-%D8%A3%D8%A8%D9%88%D8%A7%D9%84%D8%AC%D9%88%D8%AF">نَمرةٌ تأكل أولادها الثلاثة من شدة الجوع في سوريا</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/north-africa-west-asia-syria-lebanon-hunger-strike-human-rights-%D8%A7%D9%84%D8%A5%D8%B6%D8%B1%D8%A7%D8%A8-%D8%A7%D9%84%D8%B7%D8%B9%D8%A7%D9%85-%D9%84%D8%A8%D9%86%D8%A7%D9%86-%D8%B3%D9%88%D8%B1%D9%8A%D8%A7">الإضراب عن الطعام يستمر حتى تحقيق المطالب</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-country"> <div class="field-label"> Country or region:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Syria </div> <div class="field-item even"> EU </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-topics"> <div class="field-label">Topics:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Conflict </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> North Africa, West Asia Middle East Forum North-Africa West-Asia EU Syria Conflict migrant rights Forced Migration جوان سوز Violent transitions Mid-East Forum Arabic language Tue, 30 Jan 2018 15:45:36 +0000 جوان سوز 115880 at https://www.opendemocracy.net You've kept your power, Arab rulers, but at what cost? https://www.opendemocracy.net/north-africa-west-asia/nabil-echchaibi/power-arab-revolution-middle-east-austerity-protest <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Let us never forget that those who make peaceful uprisings impossible will eventually make violent revolution irresistible.&nbsp;</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/549460/PA-13824330_0.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title="AA/ABACA/Press Association Images. All rights reserved."><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/549460/PA-13824330_0.jpg" alt="AA/ABACA/Press Association Images. All rights reserved." title="AA/ABACA/Press Association Images. All rights reserved." width="460" height="306" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Tahrir Square, Cairo, Egypt, June 15, 2012. AA/ABACA/Press Association Images. All rights reserved.</span></span></span>Seven years after the Arab uprisings, the political and socio-economic conditions in many Arab countries remain dire, if not more disastrous.</p> <p>In Tunisia, the cradle of that popular revolt, impoverished youth, facing tremendous austerity measures, issue desperate calls like “Employ us or kill us”.</p> <p>Close by on the Mediterranean, hundreds of marginalized young Moroccans have been jailed for rising up against corruption, severe unemployment, and poor social welfare infrastructure.&nbsp;</p> <p>Egypt has reverted to a vicious military rule. Syria is mired in an endless bloody war. Libya is a political disaster. Yemen is in the grip of a savage war between rebels and a hawkish Saudi Arabia, and Gulf dictatorships are blissfully the same.&nbsp;</p> <p>Wherever you look, the light is dim.&nbsp;&nbsp;</p> <p>This is undoubtedly a damning portrait of a region with rich human and natural resources but where hardship is a way of life.&nbsp;</p> <p>There are 105 million Arabs between the age of 15-29 but they <a href="http://carnegieendowment.org/2017/02/01/arab-fractures-citizens-states-and-social-contracts-pub-66612">face</a> an abysmal 35 percent unemployment rate, 20-40 percent illiteracy in some countries, increasing armed conflicts accounting for 17 percent of all conflicts in the world, a heightened likelihood of forced displacement, and poverty levels reaching 30 percent in some cases.&nbsp;</p> <p>This is the land where a crown prince can go on a <a href="https://www.salon.com/2017/12/16/heir-apparent-to-saudi-throne-on-billion-dollar-shopping-spree/">$1.5 billion-spending spree</a> to buy a yacht, a Da Vinci painting, and a French castle in a few days while scores of poor Arabs self-immolate in public to protest their utter precarity, their dispensability, their social death.</p> <p>Between the horrid extravagance of the prince and the piercing despair of the self-immolator, life with dignity is extremely difficult, if not impossible.&nbsp;</p> <p>As we pause this month to reflect on the legacy of these historic uprisings, we must remember not to simply idolize the heroic acts of the Bouazizis of the revolution with clichéd slogans and vapid ceremonies.</p> <p>We must re-center their ultimate sacrifice and demand accountability from leaders who govern by brutal decrees and paralyzing fear.&nbsp;</p><p class="mag-quote-right">suicide by self-immolation in Tunisia alone has tripled since 2010</p> <p>An honest celebration of the Arab Spring means eliminating the very edifice that produces citizen suicide in the first place.</p> <p>Since Bouazizi torched himself on that fateful day in December 2010, hundreds across the Arab world have committed similar acts in public for the same reasons. According to a recent <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0305417916300912">study</a>, suicide by self-immolation in Tunisia alone has tripled since 2010 and affects most frequently young unemployed men.&nbsp;&nbsp;</p> <p>Seven years after the uprisings, much of the social energy of the average Arab is spent trying to cope with this dehumanization in the face of police states, lack of freedom, and poor economic prospects exacerbated by a neoliberal order that favors shopping malls to public schools and fancy resorts to hospitals.&nbsp;</p> <p>Besides the monstrous despotism in all Arab countries, the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2018/jan/17/imf-tunisia-people-rioting-2011-economic-reforms">demand</a> tighter fiscal austerity which means further wiping out the scarce social welfare benefits the poor depend on for survival.</p> <p>In Egypt, ironically, the minister of solidarity recently <a href="http://www.mepc.org/commentary/egypt-promises-austerity-imf-loan">announced</a> deep cuts in vital government subsidies on fuel and food to secure a $12-billion loan from the IMF. The same heartless calculus of global capitalism that forced millions of Arabs into city squares&nbsp;in 2011 is returning as a farce under the garb of “helpful” austerity measures.&nbsp;&nbsp;</p> <p>Meanwhile and with no economic or political alternative in sight, more Arabs brave the treacherous seas for a chance of salvation. According to a Carnegie <a href="http://carnegieendowment.org/2017/02/01/arab-fractures-citizens-states-and-social-contracts-pub-66612">study</a>, 17 million Arabs have left their homes. And half of the refugees in the world are Arab because 143 million people in the region live under war or occupation.&nbsp;&nbsp;</p> <p>The gains of the Arab Spring are unfortunately dwarfed by the haunting memories they left behind. The chilling <a href="https://medium.com/@izzytomicoellis/two-years-after-alan-kurdi-died-i-almost-long-for-the-days-of-freezing-children-and-their-a4473177c22a">picture</a> of Alan Kurdi, the Syrian boy whose lifeless body washed out on the shores of the Mediterranean in 2015 should haunt our existence as we ponder the futility of our indignation.</p> <p>The <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kf8DIlZThjg">video</a> of five-year-old Bouthania al-Rimi, a beautiful Yemeni girl who lost her mother, father, and six siblings in a Saudi overnight air strike on her residential building just a few months ago should shake us out from the idleness of our Twitter outrage. Her eyes were so bruised from the attack she couldn’t even open them to see her rescuers.</p> <p>Three entire families perished that night and the world barely noticed. More Arab kids are traumatized that a Syrian neuropsychologist recently <a href="https://www.globalresearch.ca/war-crimes-against-syrias-children-human-devastation-syndrome-syrian-doctor-coins-new-term-for-childrens-extreme-war-trauma/5577017">coined</a> a new condition to capture their boundless pain: “Human Devastation Syndrome”.</p><p class="mag-quote-left">a Syrian neuropsychologist recently&nbsp;coined&nbsp;a new condition: “Human Devastation Syndrome”</p> <p>This is how cheap Arab life has become. This is the deplorable situation of the wretched of the Arab world. How much more can the human spirit tolerate in the midst of this degradation and humiliation?</p> <p>Cameroonian philosopher Achille Mbembe <a href="https://link.springer.com/chapter/10.1057/9780230584334_9">talks</a> about a new form of sovereignty he calls necropower, the capacity of a minority to decide who deserves to live and who can be left to die, who matters and who does not, who is disposable and superfluous and who is not.</p> <p>Today, rogue leaders and vile economic logics have that power to castigate people to zones of non-being, non-living. Arab life now exists mainly in bursts of pain, atrophy, and perpetual anger. Death itself is now both the manifestation of this form of domination and a desperate tool of resistance. This is unsustainable.&nbsp;&nbsp;</p> <p>The Arab Spring was a beautiful display of a downtrodden people peacefully rising up against this kind of cruel power. Let us not sully their legacy with silence or tamed commemoration, lest we consign them to the bins of fleeting history. And let us never forget that those who make peaceful uprisings impossible will eventually make violent revolution irresistible.&nbsp;</p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/north-africa-west-asia/linda-herrera-dina-el-sharnouby/alain-badiou-on-egyptian-revolution-questions">Alain Badiou on the Egyptian revolution: questions of the movement and its vision [video]</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/north-africa-west-asia/lakhdar-ghettas/tunisian-revolution-seven-years-on">The Tunisian revolution seven years on</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/north-africa-west-asia/esraa-abdel-fattah/egypt-character-assassination-as-weapon">Egypt: character assassination as a weapon</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/north-africa-west-asia/sameh-naguib/sisi-s-neoliberal-assault-context-and-prospects">Sisi’s neoliberal assault: context and prospects</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/north-africa-west-asia/wael-eskandar/revolutionary-arena-battle-of-minds">The revolutionary arena: a battle of minds</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/north-africa-west-asia/sameh-naguib/from-end-of-one-revolutionary-wave-to-preparing-for-another">From the end of one revolutionary wave to preparing for another</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/north-africa-west-asia/nabil-echchaibi/waiting-for-arab-intellectuals">Where are you, Arab intellectuals?</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/north-africa-west-asia/andrea-teti-gennaro-gervasio/egypt-and-arab-uprisings">Egypt and the Arab uprisings</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-country"> <div class="field-label"> Country or region:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Tunisia </div> <div class="field-item even"> Egypt </div> <div class="field-item odd"> Saudi Arabia </div> <div class="field-item even"> Syria </div> <div class="field-item odd"> Yemen </div> <div class="field-item even"> Bahrain </div> <div class="field-item odd"> Libya </div> <div class="field-item even"> Morocco </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-topics"> <div class="field-label">Topics:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Conflict </div> <div class="field-item even"> Democracy and government </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> North Africa, West Asia North-Africa West-Asia Morocco Libya Bahrain Yemen Syria Saudi Arabia Egypt Tunisia Conflict Democracy and government Nabil Echchaibi Revolution Right to the city Violent transitions Thu, 25 Jan 2018 07:55:19 +0000 Nabil Echchaibi 115814 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Western complicity is fuelling Yemen’s humanitarian crisis https://www.opendemocracy.net/north-africa-west-asia/stephen-mccloskey/western-complicity-yemen-humanitarian-crisis-famine-saudi-arabia-UK-France-USA <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>A besieged and starved population has been pushed to the brink of famine. The UK, US and France need to re-evaluate their relationship with Saudi Arabia.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/549460/Picture1.png" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title="Giles Clarke for UNOCHA. All rights reserved."><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/549460/Picture1.png" alt="Giles Clarke for UNOCHA. All rights reserved." title="Giles Clarke for UNOCHA. All rights reserved." class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" width="460" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Young students play in the ruins of the Aal Okab school in Saada City, Yemen. Giles Clarke for UNOCHA. All rights reserved.</span></span></span>On 26 December, a crowded market in the Al Hayma district in Yemen was hit by airstrikes from a Saudi-led coalition that left <a href="https://reliefweb.int/report/yemen/statement-behalf-humanitarian-coordinator-yemen-jamie-mcgoldrick-mounting-civilian">54 civilians dead</a>, including eight children with 32 others injured.&nbsp;</p> <p>It was the latest bloody episode in a conflict that has been raging for a thousand days and claimed <a href="http://www.aljazeera.com/news/2017/01/death-toll-yemen-conflict-passes-10000-170117040849576.html">10,000 victims</a> with 20 million more (from a population of 28 million) in dire need of assistance.&nbsp;&nbsp;</p> <p>The United Nations Humanitarian Co-ordinator for Yemen, Jamie McGoldrick, has <a href="https://reliefweb.int/report/yemen/statement-behalf-humanitarian-coordinator-yemen-jamie-mcgoldrick-mounting-civilian">described</a> the conflict as "absurd" and "futile", characterised by "the destruction of the country and the incommensurate suffering of its people."&nbsp;&nbsp;</p> <p>The Saudi Coalition airstrikes began in March 2015 in response to Houthi rebels’ seizing control of much of Yemen in late 2014. There was widespread disillusionment in Yemen with Saudi-backed president,&nbsp;Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi, whose transitional administration was dogged by corruption, unemployment and food insecurity.</p> <p>The Houthi uprising forced Mr Hadi to flee abroad in March 2015 which signalled the start of Saudi airstrikes. On the larger canvass of Middle-East relations and current tensions, the Sunni Saudis accuse the Houthis of being proxies for Shia&nbsp;<a href="https://www.irishtimes.com/topics/topics-7.1213540?article=true&amp;tag_location=Iran">Iran</a>, their main regional rival.&nbsp;&nbsp;</p> <h2><strong>Targeting civilians</strong></h2> <p>Yemen’s impoverished civilian population has been caught in the middle of this contagion of hostilities with <a href="https://www.hrw.org/report/2016/07/11/bombing-businesses/saudi-coalition-airstrikes-yemens-civilian-economic-structures">Human Rights Watch</a> finding in 2016 that 60 per cent of civilian deaths resulted from air strikes.&nbsp; </p><p>It reported that "[a]irstrikes have damaged or destroyed numerous civilian objects including homes, markets, hospitals, and schools, as well as commercial enterprises" which "appear to be in violation of international law."</p><p>This assessment is based on the monitoring of attacks that "do not discriminate between military targets and civilian objects." "Taken together", the report argues, "the attacks on factories and other civilian economic structures raise serious concerns that the Saudi-led coalition has deliberately sought to inflict widespread damage to Yemen’s production capacity."&nbsp;&nbsp;</p> <p>The effects of the conflict have been compounded by an air, land and sea <a href="https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/20171107-saudi-led-forces-close-air-sea-and-land-access-to-yemen/">blockade</a> of Yemen imposed from November 2017 by Riyadh allegedly "to stem the flow of arms to the Houthis from Iran."</p><p class="mag-quote-right">The war and blockade has pushed some&nbsp;seven million&nbsp;people to the brink of famine and left nearly 900,000 infected with cholera.</p><p>The blockade of Yemen’s Hodeida port in particular has been disastrous for a country "<a href="https://www.irishtimes.com/news/world/middle-east/saudi-allies-face-pressure-to-address-famine-in-yemen-1.3340714">90 per cent dependent on imports</a>", 70 per cent of which came through the port. </p><p>The war and blockade has pushed some <a href="https://uk.reuters.com/article/uk-yemen-saudi-un/u-n-warns-if-no-yemen-aid-access-world-will-see-largest-famine-in-decades-idUKKBN1D839H">seven million</a> people to the brink of famine and left nearly 900,000 infected with cholera.&nbsp;</p><p><a href="https://uk.reuters.com/article/uk-yemen-saudi-un/u-n-warns-if-no-yemen-aid-access-world-will-see-largest-famine-in-decades-idUKKBN1D839H">Mark Lowcock</a>, who co-ordinates humanitarian affairs and emergency relief for the UN, has said that without urgently needed humanitarian aid, Yemen would be subject to "the largest famine the world has seen for many decades with millions of victims."</p> <p>Jamie McGoldrick has denied that Yemeni rebels are smuggling arms through Hodeida port saying that a UN verification mechanism had "never found any weapons" on arriving ships.&nbsp; </p><p>As with the Israeli <a href="https://www.thenation.com/article/how-israels-10-year-blockade-brought-gaza-to-the-brink-of-collapse/">ten-year siege of the Gaza Strip</a>, we are witnessing the collective punishment of a civilian population in Yemen for political ends.&nbsp; </p><p>The blockades of both Gaza and Yemen are causing enormous humanitarian suffering, are man-made disasters and could easily be lifted with political will.</p> <h2><strong>Western complicity</strong></h2> <p>Western governments have been fuelling the Yemeni crisis through lucrative weapon sales to Riyadh used in Saudi’s three year bombing campaign.&nbsp;<a href="https://www.amnesty.org/en/latest/news/2017/11/yemen-usa-uk-and-france-risk-complicity-in-collective-punishment-of-civilians/">Amnesty International</a> has argued that:</p> <blockquote><p>“Countries such as the USA, UK and France, which continue to supply coalition members with arms, are allowing Saudi Arabia and its allies to flagrantly flout international law and risk being complicit in grave violations, including war crimes.”&nbsp;</p></blockquote> <p>Amnesty urges these countries to: "immediately halt the flow of arms and military assistance to members of the Saudi-led coalition for use in Yemen. This includes any equipment or logistical support being used to maintain this blockade."</p> <p>The UK has licensed <a href="https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/20171129-uk-pm-to-demand-saudi-arabia-end-yemen-blockade/">$4.6 billion</a> worth of arms sales to the Saudi regime, a relationship described as ‘shameful’ by <a href="https://www.caat.org.uk/get-involved/act-now/petition/stop-arming-saudi">Campaign Against Arms Trade</a>, given Riyadh’s record as "one of the world's most authoritarian regimes."&nbsp;&nbsp;</p><p>France, too, has <a href="https://www.irishtimes.com/news/world/middle-east/saudi-allies-face-pressure-to-address-famine-in-yemen-1.3340714">sold</a>&nbsp;"€9 billion of weaponry to Saudi Arabia from 2010-2016, amounting to 15-20 per cent of France’s annual arms exports."&nbsp; </p><p>And the United States has "designed and negotiated a package totalling approximately <a href="https://www.irishtimes.com/news/world/us/us-to-make-arms-deal-worth-110bn-with-saudi-arabia-1.3090664">$110 billion</a>"&nbsp;with Riyadh in 2017 following on from a total of $115 billion approved in arms sales by the Obama administration in 2009-2016.&nbsp; &nbsp;</p> <p><a href="https://www.developmenteducationreview.com/issue/issue-25/engaging-development-and-human-rights-curriculum-higher-education-neoliberal-twilight">Su-ming Khoo</a> has argued that "[i]n conflict situations, the deliberate, indiscriminate and criminal targeting of civilians and civilian structures such as hospitals and schools marks an all-time low in respect for the most basic humanitarian norms and laws." This is underscored by the Human Rights Watch <a href="https://www.hrw.org/sites/default/files/world_report_download/wr2017-web.pdf">World Report 2017</a> which warns against a "global assault on human rights."</p><p>Yemen appears to be a prime example of this deterioration in the climate for human rights which, perhaps, really took root in the ‘war on terror’ that followed the 9 September 2001 attacks on Washington and New York.&nbsp; </p><p>Even in the context of new ‘lows’ in the application of international laws and norms, the scale of the Yemeni crisis should cause international alarm and provoke immediate action to end hostilities, particularly the Saudi airstrikes and blockade.&nbsp; </p><p>A besieged and starved population has been pushed to the brink of famine and is already subject to malaria, dengue fever, diphtheria, and cholera. This is a moment when the UK, US and France should re-evaluate its relationship with Riyadh and the diplomatic and humanitarian poisoning caused by their trade in arms.</p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/North-africa-west-asia/helen-lackner/famine-in-yemen-finally-reaches-western-headlines">Famine in Yemen finally reaches western headlines</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/anastasia-kyriacou/yemen-tragic-tale-of-humanitarian-hypocrisy">Yemen: a tragic tale of humanitarian hypocrisy</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/north-africa-west-asia/sherine-el-taraboulsi-james-firebrace/time-to-rethink-uk-s-engagement-with-sa">Time to rethink UK’s engagement with Saudi Arabia</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/north-africa-west-asia/bonyan-jamall/details-surviving-war-in-yemen">The details: surviving the war in Yemen</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/north-africa-west-asia/stephen-mccloskey/gaza-ten-years-of-economic-blockade">Gaza: ten years of economic blockade</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/north-africa-west-asia/helen-lackner/why-can-t-united-nations-bring-peace-to-yemen">Why can’t the United Nations bring peace to Yemen?</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-country"> <div class="field-label"> Country or region:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Yemen </div> <div class="field-item even"> Saudi Arabia </div> <div class="field-item odd"> United States </div> <div class="field-item even"> UK </div> <div class="field-item odd"> France </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-topics"> <div class="field-label">Topics:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Conflict </div> <div class="field-item even"> Democracy and government </div> <div class="field-item odd"> International politics </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> North Africa, West Asia North-Africa West-Asia France UK United States Saudi Arabia Yemen Conflict Democracy and government International politics humanitarian crisis human rights abuses Stephen McCloskey Arab Awakening: violent transitions Violent transitions Fri, 05 Jan 2018 18:41:23 +0000 Stephen McCloskey 115519 at https://www.opendemocracy.net ما بقي لي من حلب https://www.opendemocracy.net/north-africa-west-asia/%D8%B3%D9%88%D8%B1%D9%8A%D8%A7-%D8%AD%D9%84%D8%A8-%D8%AD%D8%B5%D8%A7%D8%B1-%20%D9%A2%D9%A0%D9%A1%D9%A6/%D9%85%D8%AC%D8%A7%D9%87%D8%AF-%D8%A3%D8%A8%D9%88-%D8%A7%D9%84%D8%AC%D9%88%D8%AF <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p class="western" dir="rtl">اليوم، وبعد عام كامل على تلك الذكرى الأقسى في مخيلتي، لم يتبقِ لي من مدينتي سوى ذاك العلم المصنوع فيها، وكاميرتي التي وثقت جميع أحياء المدينة.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p dir="rtl"><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/549460/_Q2B7699 copy.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title="مجاهد أبو الجود. All rights reserved."><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/549460/_Q2B7699 copy.jpg" alt="مجاهد أبو الجود. All rights reserved." title="مجاهد أبو الجود. All rights reserved." width="460" height="307" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>مجاهد أبو الجود. All rights reserved.</span></span></span>صرخ لي صديقي حسن قطان قائلاً: "هات الكاميرا ويلا نروح بسرعة.. قال رح يأخلوا الجرحى اليوم. حاول ما تطفي كامرتك".</p><p dir="rtl">ركضت وراءه مرتعش القلب، أحسست أنّ الأمور بدأت تنحسم، وأن واقعاً مريراً بات أقرب، تساءلت في نفسي ماذا اقترفت أيدينا حتى نعاقب هكذا؟!</p><p dir="rtl">عند منتصف ليلة الخامس عشر من شهر ديسمبر/كانون الأول عام ٢٠١٦، كنا ننتظر بدء تنفيذ <a href="http://www.aljazeera.net/news/arabic/2016/12/17/%D8%A7%D9%84%D9%85%D8%B9%D8%A7%D8%B1%D8%B6%D8%A9-%D8%A7%D8%AA%D9%81%D8%A7%D9%82-%D8%AC%D8%AF%D9%8A%D8%AF-%D9%84%D8%A5%D8%AC%D9%84%D8%A7%D8%A1-%D9%85%D8%AD%D8%A7%D8%B5%D8%B1%D9%8A-%D8%AD%D9%84%D8%A8">اتفاق</a> إخلاء حلب الشرقية التي حاصرتها القوات الحكومية والميليشيات الموالية في منتصف عام ٢٠١٦، وبدأت تقتحم أحياءها منتصف شهر نوفمبر/تشرين الثاني من العام ذاته.</p><p dir="rtl">أمطار تلك الليلة كانت غزيرة، قلت في نفسي لعلها الخير والرحمة كما يُقال عادةً، لم نكن نعلم أنّها ستكون من أصعب الليالي، وأن الجرحى- الدفعة الأولى المقرر خروجها - سينتظرون خمس ساعات تحت المطر، ليُقال لهم بعد ذلك "تم تأجيل تنفيذ الاتفاق للصباح.. عودوا إلى بيوتكم."</p><p dir="rtl">لم نستطع النوم ليلتها. عدت أنا وحسن في صباح اليوم التالي إلى حي العامرية جنوبي حلب، المكان المقرر كنقطة للخروج. وبعد انتظار استمر ثلاث ساعات، بدأت قناصة قوات النظام تستهدفنا من جانب حي الراموسة المقابل لمكان تمركزنا، وسقطت عدة إصابات بين المدنيين وفريق الدفاع المدني السوري الذي كان يعتزم إزالة الساتر الترابي، وقُتل شخص على الأقل.</p><p dir="rtl">بدا المشهد مخيفاً، ما الذي يحدث ولماذا؟ لم أستطع فهم الموقف. حملت بيدي اليمنى كاميرتي التي بقيت تصور ما يحصل، وعلى كتفي طفلاً أصيب والده، وبدأت بالركض باتجاه حي السكري.</p><p dir="rtl"><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/549460/_Q2B7602.JPG" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title="مجاهد أبو الجود. All rights reserved."><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/549460/_Q2B7602.JPG" alt="مجاهد أبو الجود. All rights reserved." title="مجاهد أبو الجود. All rights reserved." width="460" height="307" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>مجاهد أبو الجود. All rights reserved.</span></span></span>مرت عدة ساعات بدا بعدها كل شيء «طبيعيٌ» مرة أخرى. ودخلت بعدها فرق الهلال الأحمر السوري مع لجنة الصليب الدولية للبدء <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qwQOc0tSGI4&amp;feature=youtu.be">بإخلاء القافلة الأولى</a> التي كانت تضم نحو ٢٠٠ مصاب، ومن ثمّ دخلت الباصات الخضراء، الباصات المخصصة لإجلاء المدنيين من الأحياء المحاصرة.</p><p dir="rtl">لم أتمالك نفسي عند رؤية باصات الإجلاء القادمة، أحسست أنّ كل شيء قد انتهى فعلاً، وأنّ الذي كنا يوماً نعتبره كابوساً لن يتحقق، قد أصبح واقعاً.</p><p dir="rtl">سنينٌ وأشهر من الكفاح ذهبت كالرياح، وعوقب الضحية دون ذنب، وكوفئ المجرم بفعلته هذه. انهالت دموعي، وكذلك دموع العشرات من أصدقائي.</p><p dir="rtl">في هذه الأثناء اتصل بي أخي الكبير عبد الرزاق الذي يعيش مع عائلتي خارج حلب، الذين تركتهم قبل خمس سنوات لاستقر في حلب الشرقية. حاولت إخفاء نبرة الحزن في صوتي وأنا أرد عليه، وقال "مجاهد قال فتحوا الطريق.. الله يوفقك طلاع وطمن قلب أمك عليك."</p><p dir="rtl">حاولت إقناعه أن الدفعة الأخيرة التي سيتم إخراجها ستكون الأكثر أماناً بالنسبة لي، لأن معظم الفصائل العسكرية الموجودة ستخرج بها، وهم على أهبة الاستعداد لمجابهة القوات الحكومية في حال اعتراض الطريق.</p><p dir="rtl">هذه هي حجتي التي حاولت إقناع أخي بها لأطمئنه قليلاً، إلا أنّ السبب الحقيقي وراء رغبتي في الانتظار حتى خروج آخر دفعة، هو أني كنت أريد البقاء أطول فترة ممكنة في شرق حلب لتوثيق آخر لحظاتها.</p><p dir="rtl"><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/549460/_Q2B7829.JPG" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title="مجاهد أبو الجود. All rights reserved."><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/549460/_Q2B7829.JPG" alt="مجاهد أبو الجود. All rights reserved." title="مجاهد أبو الجود. All rights reserved." width="460" height="307" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>مجاهد أبو الجود. All rights reserved.</span></span></span>من النقطة التي قُدّر لنا أن يتم إجلاؤُنا القسريُّ منها، بدأت بتصوير ما تبقى من أحياء مدينتي المنكوبة وأزقتها - التي دمرت الطائرات الحكومية والروسية أغلبها فوق رؤوس قاطنيها ابتداءً من آب ٢٠١٢ - وأنا مدرك أنني غير عائد إليها، على الأقل لسنوات عدة. أدور بعدستي وأوثق ما أراه، وحسن بجانبي يوثق بعدسة الكاميرا الطائرة (drone) من الجو ما لا نستطيع رؤيته، بقينا على هذه الحال لمدة أسبوع، وهي المدة التي احتاجتها القوات الحكومية لإخلاء المكان من قاطني حلب الشرقية، والمقدر عددهم بنحو ٦٠ ألفاً.</p><p dir="rtl">مع نهاية الأسبوع، صرخ المسؤول العسكري قائلاً "غداً هو اليوم الأخير للإخلاء.. احزموا أمتعتكم وغادروا."</p><p dir="rtl">إنه اليوم الأخير إذاً، الوجوه شاحبة، خائفة، مودعة، ومباني مدينتنا تختنق لفراقنا. هممنا بخطّ عباراتنا الأخيرة على الجدران، كتب صديقي صلاح "الثورة ليست فصيل." وترك الطبيب سالم رسالته على سبورة روضة الأطفال التي تشير لروح الثورة "انتبه! لا تخرّب.. هنا يوجد أشياء يستفيد منها أطفالك."&nbsp;&nbsp;</p><p dir="rtl">وكتب صالح وزوجته مروة "راجعين يا هوا." عفراء كتبت "بين جدران هذه المدينة تركت قلبي وهُجّرت." بينما خطّ ثائر باصبعه على نافذة إحدى الباصات الخضراء "سنرجع يوماً." وكتب حسن في رثاء مدينته "في الرحيل الأخير.. أحبك أكثر."&nbsp;&nbsp;</p><p dir="rtl">أما أنا فأحببت أن التقط صورة أخيرة لي في حلب، بجانب عبارة "الكلمة الحرّة لا تموت" التي خطها صديقي محمد الخطيب.</p><p dir="rtl"><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/549460/ يوماً - بعدسة ثائر محمد .jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title="Thaer Mohammed. All rights reserved."><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/549460/ يوماً - بعدسة ثائر محمد .jpg" alt="Thaer Mohammed. All rights reserved." title="Thaer Mohammed. All rights reserved." width="460" height="307" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Thaer Mohammed. All rights reserved.</span></span></span>وقبل لحظات الخروج، عدت سريعاً إلى منزلي في حي سيف الدولة لوداعه، منزلي الذي كانت تقطنه عائلةٌ سوريّة نازحة، لعدم توفر منازل فارغة للسكن إثر نزوح سكان عدد من الأحياء الشرقية عندما كان النظام يستعيدها رويداً ويطبق الحصار علينا. أخذت علم الثورة السورية الذي أضعه عادةً فوق سريري وركضت محلقاً بين الشوارع حتى وصلت نقطة العبور.</p><p dir="rtl">في صباح الخروج، صباح يوم ٢١ كانون الأول بدأ الثلج بالتساقط، لتكتسي المدينة باللون الأبيض في أحلكِ أيامها، وكأنّا نغادرها بيضاء نقية قبل أن يقتحمها الاحتلال ليمحوَ براءتها.</p><p dir="rtl">سُمح للقافلة الأخيرة - التي يغلب عليها فئة العسكريين - بركوب السيارات الخاصة وأخذ الأسلحة الفردية الخفيفة، ولهذا السبب فضّل الكثير من الصحفيين والناشطين الخروج مع القافلة الأخيرة، نظراً لوجود السلاح وخوفاً من تكرار الانتهاكات وحالات الاعتقال التي حدثت في ظهيرة ثاني أيام الإخلاء، عندما اعتقلت الميليشيات الإيرانية قافلة كاملة تضم نحو ٨٠٠ مدنيّ كانوا في طريقهم للخروج من حصار حلب بموجب الاتفاقية، فقامت الميليشيات بتعذيبهم، وقتل أربعة أشخاص، واعتقال فردٍ آخر من فريق القبعات البيضاء، قبل أن تعيدهم مرةً أخرى إلى الأحياء المحاصرة عصر اليوم ذاته.</p><p dir="rtl">صعدت سيارة حسن عند الساعة الرابعة عصراً من يوم الحادي والعشرين ديسمبر/كانون الأول، وبدأنا المسير متراً متراً، هو يقود السيارة وأنا أسترق التقاط الصور، تأخذنا الرجفة من شدة البرد فأحاول إغلاق النافذة - التي كُسرت بشظايا القصف الجوي على حلب - ببطانيّة علّها تقينا جزءاً من البرد.</p><p dir="rtl"><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/549460/_Q2B7642.JPG" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title="مجاهد أبو الجود. All rights reserved."><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/549460/_Q2B7642.JPG" alt="مجاهد أبو الجود. All rights reserved." title="مجاهد أبو الجود. All rights reserved." width="460" height="307" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>مجاهد أبو الجود. All rights reserved.</span></span></span>مضت الساعة ومضت الأخرى وبقينا على هذه الحال أربع عشرة ساعة حتى قطعنا مسافة لا تتجاوز واحد كيلو متر لنصل لحاجز القوات الحكومية والقوات الروسية.</p><p dir="rtl">حدقتُ بالعناصر جيداً وهم يسألوننا من نحن ومن أين؟ هل حقاً ما أسمع؟! عنصر روسي أجنبي يسأل صاحب الأرض من أنت وماذا تفعل هنا؟</p><p dir="rtl">تابعنا المسير بعدها مروراً بالشق الآخر من حلب، حلب الغربية المسيطر عليها من قبل قوات النظام، نظرت إلى المباني والأحياء السكنية مطولاً، حياة طبيعية يعيشها الناس على الطرف الآخر من خط النار والحصار، مواصلات وكهرباء في معظم المناطق، وعدم اكتراث واضح بشق المدينة الشرقيِّ الذي يُقصف على مرأى أعينهم ومسمع آذانهم، ويعيش سكانه التغريبةَ بين طرقاتهم.</p><p dir="rtl">حين أفكر بما رأيت يومها تنتابني الحيرة، هل هو حقيقي ما شاهدته في حلب الغربية؟&nbsp;أم أنّ إعلام النظام قد نجح في زرع صورة في مخيلتي عن سكان هذه المناطق، لتعزيز حقدٍ وكراهيةٍ لم تكن لتوجد لولا الحصار الذي قسم المدينة إلى شطرين والأيام القاسية التي عشناها.</p><p dir="rtl">رفعت الكاميرا مرة أخرى لألتقط ما يمكنني التقاطه، إلا أن تنبيهاً من حسن جعلني أضعها جانباً. ظللت أحاول بعد ذلك في كل فرصة تصوير ما يمكن تصويره.</p><p dir="rtl"><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/549460/ الأخيرة بعدسة _ عارف العارف.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title="مجاهد أبو الجود. All rights reserved."><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/549460/ الأخيرة بعدسة _ عارف العارف.jpg" alt="مجاهد أبو الجود. All rights reserved." title="مجاهد أبو الجود. All rights reserved." width="460" height="230" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>مجاهد أبو الجود. All rights reserved.</span></span></span>في الثامنة صباحاً من الثاني والعشرين ديسمبر/كانون الأول، وصلنا ريف حلب الغربي الذي يخضع لسيطرة المعارضة السورية المسلحة، توقفنا عند الحاجز الأول لهم، أخبرونا أننا قد وصلنا إلى بر الأمان - كما يقولون -، لكن أصوات الطائرات ودوي انفجار القذائف التي تطلقها القوات الحكومية لم يوحي بذلك، بضعة دقائق وبدأنا المسير تجاه محافظة إدلب.</p><p dir="rtl">لقد زال الكابوس، لم نصدق أننا فعلاً خارج الحصار وعلى قيد الحياة، وأننا في الليلة الماضية كنا محاصرين ومقيدين ومحرومين، نفضل الموت على الإصابة فقط لعدم توفر المستلزمات الطبية، بينما اليوم نستطيع التجوال بحريّةٍ أينما شئنا وشراءَ أصناف الطعام المختلفة والدخان والوقود كما لو كانت الحياة أشبه بالطبيعية. </p><p dir="rtl">حاولت قول كلمة "يا مرحباَ بالحياة"، فلقد نجونا من أشد حملات القصف والقتل التي تعرضت لها سوريا منذ بداية الثورة، ولم أستطع.&nbsp;&nbsp;</p><p dir="rtl">وصلنا إلى إدلب، وما إن رأينا أصدقائنا الذين تمكّنوا من الخروج من حلب شهر أيلول/سبتمبر من عام ٢٠١٦ - عندما كُسر حصار المدينة لمدة أسبوعين - حتى تساقطت دموعنا جميعاً دون شعور، غياب قاسي ونكبة أقسى وبداية مجهولة.</p><p dir="rtl"><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/549460/IMG_3493.JPG" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title="مجاهد أبو الجود. All rights reserved."><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/549460/IMG_3493.JPG" alt="مجاهد أبو الجود. All rights reserved." title="مجاهد أبو الجود. All rights reserved." width="460" height="345" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>مجاهد أبو الجود. All rights reserved.</span></span></span>اليوم، وبعد عام كامل على تلك الذكرى الأقسى في مخيلتي، لم يتبقِ لي من مدينتي سوى ذاك العلم المصنوع فيها، وكاميرتي التي وثقت جميع أحياء المدينة، وتلك الصور والفيديوهات التي التقطتها خلال سنوات في حلب، وذاكرةٌ متعبة ليس من السهل استحضارها في حضرة حلب.</p><p dir="rtl">أما أنا فما زالت روحي في المكان المتروك، بقيَت هناك ورفضَتِ المغادرة، لفظتني حلب جسداً خاوياً رُفع نعشه في تلك السيارة الأخيرة التي غادرَت حلب وغادرَتِ الحياة وانتهتِ الحكاية.</p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/north-africa-west-asia/%D8%AF%D8%A7%D8%B1-%D8%A3%D9%8A%D8%AA%D8%A7%D9%85-%D8%B3%D9%88%D8%B1%D9%8A%D8%A7-%D8%AA%D8%B1%D9%83%D9%8A%D8%A7/%D9%85%D8%AC%D8%A7%D9%87%D8%AF%20%D8%A3%D8%A8%D9%88%20%D8%A7%D9%84%D8%AC%D9%88%D8%AF">بين الفقدان وآثار الحرب.. حكايا الأيتام السوريين في تركيا</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/north-africa-west-asia/%D9%85%D9%86%D8%AA%D8%AF%D9%89-%D8%A7%D9%84%D8%B4%D8%B1%D9%82-%D8%A7%D9%84%D8%A3%D9%88%D8%B3%D8%B7-%D8%B3%D9%88%D8%B1%D9%8A%D8%A7-%D8%AD%D8%AF%D9%8A%D9%82%D8%A9-%D8%AD%D9%8A%D9%88%D8%A7%D9%86%D8%A7%D8%AA-%D8%AD%D9%84%D8%A8/%D9%85%D8%AC%D8%A7%D9%87%D8%AF-%D8%A3%D8%A8%D9%88%D8%A7%D9%84%D8%AC%D9%88%D8%AF">نَمرةٌ تأكل أولادها الثلاثة من شدة الجوع في سوريا</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/north-africa-west-asia-%D9%81%D8%B1%D8%AD-%D9%8A%D9%88%D8%B3%D9%81-MEF-%D8%B3%D9%88%D8%B1%D9%8A%D8%A7-Middle-East-Forum">شبح بأظافر مطلية بالأحمر</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-country"> <div class="field-label"> Country or region:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Syria </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-topics"> <div class="field-label">Topics:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Conflict </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> North Africa, West Asia Middle East Forum North-Africa West-Asia Syria Conflict human rights abuses human security مجاهد أبو الجود Violent transitions Mid-East Forum Arabic language Fri, 22 Dec 2017 19:52:32 +0000 مجاهد أبو الجود 115468 at https://www.opendemocracy.net بين الفقدان وآثار الحرب.. حكايا الأيتام السوريين في تركيا https://www.opendemocracy.net/north-africa-west-asia/%D8%AF%D8%A7%D8%B1-%D8%A3%D9%8A%D8%AA%D8%A7%D9%85-%D8%B3%D9%88%D8%B1%D9%8A%D8%A7-%D8%AA%D8%B1%D9%83%D9%8A%D8%A7/%D9%85%D8%AC%D8%A7%D9%87%D8%AF%20%D8%A3%D8%A8%D9%88%20%D8%A7%D9%84%D8%AC%D9%88%D8%AF <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p class="western" dir="rtl">"دار السلام للأيتام"&nbsp; مشروع أنشأته عائلة سوريّة، يسكن فيه نحو سبعين طفلاً يتيماً.&nbsp; يعتبر أولَ و أكبر دار للأيتام السوريين في تركيا.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p dir="rtl"><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/549460/IMG_8904.JPG" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title="مجاهد أبو الجود. All rights reserved."><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/549460/IMG_8904.JPG" alt="مجاهد أبو الجود. All rights reserved." title="مجاهد أبو الجود. All rights reserved." width="460" height="307" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>مجاهد أبو الجود. All rights reserved.</span></span></span>في مبنى كبير في حي "غوناي كنت"، وسط مدينة غازي عينتاب التركية، يسكن نحو سبعين طفلاً يتيماً - فاقدي الآباء معظمهم - مع أمهاتهم، ضمن مشروع أنشأته عائلة سوريّة هناك تحت اسم "دار السلام للأيتام".</p><p dir="rtl">ابتدأت فكرة الدار قبل نحو خمس سنوات، بعد أن هربت "منال دامور" ووالدتها سميرة مع جميع أفراد عائلتها من بطش النظام في محافظة حلب، وقررت صبَّ جهدها لرعاية بضعة أطفال في منزلها.</p><p dir="rtl">استفادت منال من رسالتها في الماجستير المتخصصة في الهندسة المتزامنة، التي تقوم على تخطيط وتنفيذ المشاريع ضمن فترة وجيزة وبجودة جيدة وتكلفة قليلة، كي تنشأ مشروعاً صغيراً للأيتام.</p><p dir="rtl">بدأت بتصميم المبنى الذي تريده ووزعت الوظائف والمهام، حتى خَلَصَت لتنفيذ مشروع الدار في ضواحي عنتاب. ومن ثم نقلته لداخل المدينة، قبل أن ينتقل أخيراً في الشهر السابع من العام الجاري إلى موقعه الحالي، حيث اُعتبر الدارَ الأولَ والأكبرَ للأيتام السوريين في تركيا.</p><p dir="rtl">تعتَبرُ منال أن الأمر الذي يميّز دار السلام والذي حَذَت حذوه معظم دور الأيتام التي نشأت عقبه، هو «لم شمل الأسرة» على حد تعبيرها، حيث تسكن الأم مع أطفالها في ذات المبنى، بخلاف دور الأيتام المعروفة التي ترعى الأطفال فقط.</p><p dir="rtl">كما يتميز دارُ السلامِ بمنح العائلة نوعاً من الخصوصية والاستقلالية، فقد أُخِذَ بالحسبان أثناء تصميمه توزعه على شققٍ صغيرة ومتوسطة تمنح حسب عدد أفراد العائلة، وتعطى الأسرة مؤونتها شهرياً، ومستلزماتها اليومية أسبوعياً، على خلاف عرف مركزية الطعام والخدمات في دور الأيتام الأخرى.</p><p dir="rtl">تُلقب سميرة، والدة منال، داخل الدار بـ النانا (الجدة)، وهي مشرفة الدار حالياً. تقول سميرة: "أكون سعيدة عندما ينادونني "نانا". وأشعر أنّ العلاقة بينّا أسريّة أكثر منها علاقة مشرفة ومؤسسة. والمعروف أن النانا هي التي تزرع المحبة وتلم شمل الكل حولها، وهذا ما أحاول قدر الإمكان عمله، كما اخترت أن تكون غرفتي في الطابق الثاني حتى أكون وسطهم ومعهم".</p><h2><p class="western" dir="rtl">الآثار النفسية للحرب</p></h2><p dir="rtl"><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/549460/IMG_8910.JPG" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title="مجاهد أبو الجود. All rights reserved."><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/549460/IMG_8910.JPG" alt="مجاهد أبو الجود. All rights reserved." title="مجاهد أبو الجود. All rights reserved." width="460" height="307" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>مجاهد أبو الجود. All rights reserved.</span></span></span>يُطرقُ البابُ على سميرة في منتصف الليل: "نانا، نانا الحقي أم عادل". تركض سميرة مسرعةً لشقة أم عادل، وإذ بها تصرخ عالياً من شرفة منزلها لابنتها الراحلة التي قُتلت أمام عينيها في حريق منزلهم في قرية حيالين بريف حماة عام 2012، بعد ستة أشهر فقط من مقتل زوجها رمياً بالرصاص أمام أعين أطفالها على يد قوات الأمن السورية، ما جعل أم عادل تعتبر نفسها السبب في مقتل ابنتها، لأنها وباعتقادها لم تكن على قدر كاف من المسؤولية للاهتمام بالأولاد.</p><p dir="rtl">تقول سميرة وهي تسترجع هذه الحادثة، أنها تحاول جاهدة مساعدة النساء اللواتي فقدن أطفالهن، وتحاول إقناعهن بأن الحياة ما تزال تستحق منا المحاولة. في حالة أم عادل، حاولت سميرة أن تقنعها أن من بقي من أطفالها بحاجة لها، لذلك عليها أن تكون أقوى. وبالطبع فإن أم عادل تخضع لعلاج نفسي محترف وليس فقط الدعم النفسي المقدم من الدار.</p><p dir="rtl">اليوم أم عادل تعمل في الدار، وتدير مستودع المؤن وتوزع المخصصات الغذائية على جميع شقق العوائل الأخرى، وتحث الأمهات أمثالها على التحرك لترك بصمة لهنّ في هذه الحياة، على الأقل بين أطفالهنّ.</p><p dir="rtl">أم حمود أرملة أخرى، كانت تعيش في قرية قرب إعزاز في ريف حلب الشمالي مع أطفالها الثلاثة. أتاهم إنذار عسكري بإخلاء القرية على الفور، فهربت مع طفلها الصغير إلى تركيا، وتاهت عن ولديها الأكبر "حمود ونور" اللذان كانا خارج المنزل ولم تستطع معرفة مكانهما.</p><p dir="rtl">ظل طفليها في القرية قرب إعزاز والتي خضعت لاحقاً لسيطرة تنظيم داعش، وعاشا فيها مشاهد قاسيةً لرؤوس مقطّعة وأجسام مصلّوبة بين الطرقات وفي الساحات العامة.</p><p dir="rtl">لم تعرف أم حمود الراحة ولا النوم خلال خمسة أشهر غابت فيها تماماً أي معلومات عن طفليها، كانت في حالة انهيار كامل، كما تقول منال، وكانت تردد باستمرار "ولادي ولادي.. لاقولي ولادي".</p><p dir="rtl">تمكنت إدارة الدار من معرفة مكان الأطفال وإحضارهم إلى الدار في تركيا. تضيف منال "خروجهم إلى تركيا في ظل إغلاق الحدود كانت معجزة بحد ذاتها ، فضلاً عن الوصول للدار".</p><p dir="rtl">وعن الحالة النفسية للأطفال اليتامى، تقول منال أنّ معظم الأطفال في الميتم قد عايشوا ذكريات مؤلمة، رسخت في أذهانهم مشاهد عنيفة.</p><p dir="rtl"><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/549460/IMG_8865.JPG" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title="مجاهد أبو الجود. All rights reserved."><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/549460/IMG_8865.JPG" alt="مجاهد أبو الجود. All rights reserved." title="مجاهد أبو الجود. All rights reserved." width="460" height="307" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>مجاهد أبو الجود. All rights reserved.</span></span></span>تقول "رصدنا مؤشرات أذيّة نفسية لدى الأطفال من العِند والانطواء والتلعثم أثناء الكلام والتبول اللاإرادي ليلاً، جميع الأطفال الذين لدينا يمتلكون عارضاً واحداً على الأقل، وبعضهم يعاني من حالات عدوانية تجاه الناس، والعناد الزائد عن المألوف. وإحدى الطفلات جائتنا منقطعة عن الكلام بشكل تام".</p><h2><p class="western" dir="rtl"><strong>محاولات العلاج</strong></p></h2><p dir="rtl">تعتبرُ منال أنّ أحد أهم خطوات العلاج النفسي للطفل هو لم شمل الأسرة في حال تواجدها، ما يجعل الطفل يشعر بالأمان والراحة قرب والدته.</p><p dir="rtl">كما أن الدار يتعامل مع عدة استشاريين وأطباء نفسيين باستمرار، لكن تكمن المشكلة في تقبّل الأمهات لفكرة العلاج النفسي لهنّ - على اعتبار أنّ علاج الأطفال يبدأ من علاج الأم ، لا سيما وأنّ معظمهن من مجتمعات منغلقة تعتبر العلاج النفسي مرتبطاً بالجنون وفقدان العقل.</p><p dir="rtl">تفيد منال: "من جميع النساء الموجودات في الدار، هناك امرأة واحدة طلبت طبيباً نفسياً، كانت مقتنعة أن اضطرابها النفسي بحاجة لطبيب مختص".</p><p dir="rtl">أما عن الأطفال فلا تمانع أمهاتهنّ غالباً العلاج النفسي لهم، فجميعهنّ يريدنَ لأطفالهن أن يكونوا في أحسن حال، "من السهل جداً أن تخرج المشاهد القاسية من ذاكرتهم، ونادراً ما يكون مع العلاج النفسي للأطفال تداخل دوائي" تقول منال.</p><h2><p class="western" dir="rtl"><strong>نتائج إيجابية</strong></p></h2><p dir="rtl">يهتم الدار بالتعليم بشكل كبير، جميع أطفال الدار يرتادون المدارس التركية، وبعضهم كَبُرَ وأصبح في الجامعة، وهناك طلاب تفوقوا على أقرانهم الأتراك.</p><p dir="rtl"><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/549460/IMG_8806.JPG" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title="مجاهد أبو الجود. All rights reserved."><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/549460/IMG_8806.JPG" alt="مجاهد أبو الجود. All rights reserved." title="مجاهد أبو الجود. All rights reserved." width="460" height="307" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>مجاهد أبو الجود. All rights reserved.</span></span></span>إحدى طالبات الدار تدرس الآن في كلية هندسة المعلوماتية في جامعة غازي عينتاب التركية، وقد أنهت عامها الأول بالترتيب الثالث على الكلية، بينما طالبة أخرى في المرحلة الثانوية هي الأولى في مدرستها، وأخرى في الصف السابع لا تهدأ إن مرت كلمة في الكتاب ولم تستطع فهمها.</p><p dir="rtl">وهناك تميزٌ من نوع آخر، فقد بدأ مسؤولو الدار ينقبون عن المواهب لدى الأطفال. رغد طفلة تبلغ من العمر ١٢ سنة، موهوبة بالتمثيل وتعشق المسرح، وغالباً ما تلعب دور البطولة في المسرحيات التي تُقام، كما أنّ لديها ملكة خطابية قوية، لا يمكن لمن يسمع كلماتها وأشعارها عن الوطن والغربة إلا وأن يتأثر، وتترك بصمة بصوتها وكلماتها داخله.</p><p dir="rtl">تعقب منال "هدفنا الرئيسي أن نخرج بنموذج يُحتذى به عن الطفل السوري، والتعليم لدينا من الأولويات. زرعنا في الأطفال حب التعليم حتى يكملوا الطريق إن تركونا أو اضطررنا يوماً ما لإيقاف عملنا في الدار".</p><p dir="rtl">سميرة لديها الأمل أن هذا الدار سيكمل مستقبلاً بفضل الأطفال الذين سيكبرون ويدرسون ويتخرجون ليساهموا في استمراره. </p><p dir="rtl">تقول سميرة أن مجموعة من الأطفال جاءت للإدارة راغبين بالتبرع بالنقود، ما جعلها تشعر بالفرح بروح المبادرة النابعة من أولاد الدار.</p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/north-africa-west-asia/%D9%85%D9%86%D8%AA%D8%AF%D9%89-%D8%A7%D9%84%D8%B4%D8%B1%D9%82-%D8%A7%D9%84%D8%A3%D9%88%D8%B3%D8%B7-%D8%B3%D9%88%D8%B1%D9%8A%D8%A7-%D8%AD%D8%AF%D9%8A%D9%82%D8%A9-%D8%AD%D9%8A%D9%88%D8%A7%D9%86%D8%A7%D8%AA-%D8%AD%D9%84%D8%A8/%D9%85%D8%AC%D8%A7%D9%87%D8%AF-%D8%A3%D8%A8%D9%88%D8%A7%D9%84%D8%AC%D9%88%D8%AF">نَمرةٌ تأكل أولادها الثلاثة من شدة الجوع في سوريا</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/north-africa-west-asia-%D9%81%D8%B1%D8%AD-%D9%8A%D9%88%D8%B3%D9%81-MEF-%D8%B3%D9%88%D8%B1%D9%8A%D8%A7-Middle-East-Forum">شبح بأظافر مطلية بالأحمر</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/north-africa-west-asia/%D8%B3%D9%88%D8%B1%D9%8A%D8%A7-%20%D8%A7%D9%84%D8%B9%D9%85%D9%84-%D8%A7%D9%84%D8%AB%D9%82%D8%A7%D9%81%D9%8A-%D8%AA%D8%B1%D9%83%D9%8A%D9%91%D8%A7/%D9%88%D8%B3%D9%8A%D9%85-%D8%A7%D9%84%D8%B4%D8%B1%D9%82%D9%8A">سياسات العمل الثقافي السوري في تركيّا: إسلاميّون وعلمانيّون ما وراء الجدار -٢ من ٢</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/north-africa-west-asia-%D8%B3%D9%88%D8%B1%D9%8A%D8%A7-%20%D8%A7%D9%84%D8%B9%D9%85%D9%84-%D8%A7%D9%84%D8%AB%D9%82%D8%A7%D9%81%D9%8A-%D8%AA%D8%B1%D9%83%D9%8A%D9%91%D8%A7-%D8%A7%D9%84%D8%AA%D9%87%D9%85%D9%8A%D8%B4">سياسات العمل الثقافي السوري في تركيّا: التهميش مازال مستمراً -١ من ٢</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-country"> <div class="field-label"> Country or region:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Syria </div> <div class="field-item even"> Turkey </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-topics"> <div class="field-label">Topics:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Civil society </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> North Africa, West Asia Middle East Forum North-Africa West-Asia Turkey Syria Civil society Children مجاهد أبو الجود Violent transitions Mid-East Forum Arabic language Sun, 17 Dec 2017 11:34:19 +0000 مجاهد أبو الجود 115365 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Egypt: do you really want to counter terrorism? https://www.opendemocracy.net/north-africa-west-asia/wael-eskandar/egypt-terrorism-sinai-violence-religion-repression-sisi <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Is the failure intentional or a result of general incompetence? Because of repression or Islamic ideology? This debate should be far from over.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/549460/PA-31472417.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title="NurPhoto/SIPA USA/Press Association Images. All rights reserved."><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/549460/PA-31472417.jpg" alt="NurPhoto/SIPA USA/Press Association Images. All rights reserved." title="NurPhoto/SIPA USA/Press Association Images. All rights reserved." width="460" height="307" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>May 26, 2017 - Relatives of the victims of the bus attack taking sand mixed with blood on the way back from the funeral service, at Ava Samuel desert monastery in Minya, Egypt. Masked gunmen attacked a bus carrying Christians, many of them children, on their way to the same monastery. NurPhoto/SIPA USA/Press Association Images. All rights reserved.</span></span></span>What semblance of a debate on whether Egypt’s policies combating terrorism may be effective died on 24 November 2017 when Egypt witnessed one of its deadliest ever terrorist attacks.</p> <p>Over 300 people were killed and several hundreds injured by a gang of militants inside the <a href="https://www.madamasr.com/en/2017/11/30/feature/politics/rawda-village-attack-a-new-reality-for-islamic-state-in-egypt/">Rawda mosque</a> in Bir-Al-Abed in northern Sinai. </p> <p>A month prior, 54 security forces members were ambushed 135 km south west of Cairo, a clear sign of a <a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/north-africa-west-asia/maged-mandour/egypt-sisi-police-security-farafra-oasis-insurgent-terrorism">failing counter insurgency policy</a>. </p> <p>Based on the quality of policies in place, numerous analysts had <a href="https://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2015/08/egypt-sisi-terrorism-muslim-brotherhood/401792/">predicted</a> the deterioration in the security situation in Egypt early on. Few attempted to give Egypt the benefit of the doubt, writing off earlier failures as poor execution. The debate is now over. </p> <p>There is no doubt that Egypt’s policies have failed. Sisi’s vow to use ‘<a href="https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2017-11-29/egypt-s-el-sisi-orders-brute-force-operation-to-pacify-sinai">brute force</a>’ to end extremist activity in Sinai indicates that no amount of policy advice will sway current leadership from its trajectory. </p> <p>Yet even as the outlook is bleak, a few other questions currently surround the latest terror incident and have not been as conclusively resolved. </p> <h2><strong>Repression vs ideology</strong><strong>&nbsp;</strong></h2> <p>One of the more enduring questions in Egypt (and indeed other Middle Eastern countries) centers around whether extremism is a result of repressive measures undertaken routinely by the state or whether the violence is inherently and unavoidably present within the fabric of the ideology of Islam. </p> <p>Following the Rawda Mosque attack and many previous others, some placed all the blame purely on <a href="https://twitter.com/realDonaldTrump/status/934080974773776384">ideology</a>, claiming that these violent actions come from violent ideas that are derived from violent verses. </p> <p>The claim is that violence is a consequence of ideology and Islam in particular, irrespective of repression. Others claimed it is <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2017/nov/26/egypt-iron-fist-response-terror-attacks-never-works">repression</a> that radicalizes people and causes the extreme violent reaction.</p> <p>While the debate focuses on whether to blame the state or Islamist ideology, simplifying either side would not be accurate. </p> <p>Blaming repression for the rise of extremism can be countered by the quality of the violence that is produced. Many around the world have been repressed but have not reacted with indiscriminate violence and rhetoric that accompanies extremists who associate themselves with Islam. </p> <p>The violence is too righteous and extreme to simply be a reaction to repression. To blame Islamist ideology alone does not fully explain it because the majority of Muslims are peaceful and numerous Muslim countries have not devolved into producing such extremist groups.</p> <p>The reality is that ideology never develops in a vacuum. It largely depends on the context surrounding it. </p> <p>In order to grow in numbers whatever movement that subscribes to an ideology must be fed with new supporters. Repression is the simplest way to radicalize.</p><p class="mag-quote-right">Egypt's problem is sectarianism, intolerance, violence, uncritical support of authority, injustice and brutality.</p> <p>In Egypt, the extreme conservative Wahabi ideology is rampant enough to absorb new recruits looking to live out their radicalization.</p> <p>To simplify, Egypt's problem isn't just repression or violent ideology, it's sectarianism, intolerance, violence, uncritical support of authority, injustice and brutality. </p> <p>While the extremists can be blamed for their violent actions and the murder of innocents, we cannot blame them for being provided the perfect breeding ground for new recruits. </p> <p>That can almost certainly all be blamed on the state along with a culture of violence and the shutting down of real debate as a modus-operandi.</p> <h2><strong>State responsibility</strong></h2> <p>Another question that arises as a direct result of the Rawda massacre is whether the state is responsible for this incident in particular. </p> <p>After all, how can the state protect people praying in a mosque on a Friday with so many mosques all over the country and limited security personnel in comparison. </p> <p>This is an argument also made earlier when a <a href="http://www.bbc.com/news/world-middle-east-40059307">bus full of Coptic Christians</a> heading towards a monastery was stopped and many of its passengers executed in May 2017. </p> <p>With all the roads in Egypt, how is it possible to protect all of them? Besides, we cannot always blame the state for everything. Many have made that claim including a <a href="https://www.facebook.com/hossam.bahgat.140/posts/10155865380709603">leading human rights figure</a>. </p> <p>This argument raises the question, when do we accept the failed policies of a state and start holding the state accountable? Can we really isolate the incident of the mosque shooting from the general context in northern Sinai for which the state is responsible? </p> <p>Add to the mix the fact that ISIS has <a href="https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/middle_east/how-an-egyptian-village-became-a-target-of-the-islamic-state/2017/11/27/359c79f0-d2fd-11e7-9ad9-ca0619edfa05_story.html?utm_term=.97094edaa9d0">issued threats</a> to the inhabitants of the town of Rawda for practicing Sufism, and no additional protection was provided to the town. </p> <p>How can one then not blame the State?</p><p class="mag-quote-left">The state’s policies offer a perfect breeding ground for radicals and vendetta.</p> <p>Days earlier the security apparatus was busy cracking down on <a href="https://www.almesryoon.com/story/1125372/حملة-اعتقالات-ضد-نشطاء-سياسيين-في-الأقصر">activists in Luxor</a> and the <a href="http://gulfnews.com/news/mena/egypt/egypt-arrests-satirist-over-illegal-group-1.2128791">owner of a satirical twitter account</a>. </p><p>These resources should have been dedicated to identifying extremists and thwarting their plans instead of cracking down on civil and peaceful opposition.</p> <p>The debate persists. The state’s policies fail to counter extremism. They offer a perfect breeding ground for radicals and vendetta. </p> <p>What appears to be a long standing policy of not investing in the development of north Sinai has also limited people’s opportunities and resources. Numerous Sinai inhabitants have been subjected to indiscriminate attacks by the state as well as <a href="https://www.hrw.org/news/2015/09/22/egypt-thousands-evicted-sinai-demolitions">forced evictions</a>. </p> <p>At the same time, the nature of the attack is highly difficult to control because of physical and geographical challenges. But is it possible to divorce the state’s responsibility from physical security challenges? Is it possible to view the terror incidents in isolation of the context created by state policies and actions?</p> <h2><strong>Incompetent or intentional?</strong></h2> <p>Is the failure intentional or a result of general incompetence that is ever present in Egypt’s institutions? This question is also up for discussion and not easily resolvable. While policies are far from perfect, it is unlikely that they are carried out efficiently. </p> <p>The present practices are demonstrably doing more harm than good. Is it possible that the Egyptians are unaware of this? Or is it simply, when all you have is a hammer all your problems look like a nail?</p> <p>The argument for incompetence is a strong one since Egyptian security forces are poorly trained and the top brass often resort to rhetoric revolving around conspiracy theories, such as fourth-generation warfare, as a scapegoat for their failures. </p> <p>It is also widely known that incompetence permeates all segments of the Egyptian government, and the military and police are not immune. </p> <p>However, the intentionality of maintaining a state of crisis when it comes to terrorism is not without merits. </p> <p>Sisi’s mandate came from fighting terrorism rather than elections. At a time where extremism is a threat to the entire world with the rise of the Islamic State, world leaders have been happy to turn a blind eye towards any rights abuses in exchange for a proxy to help them fight extremists.</p><p class="mag-quote-right">the continued threat of terror is the raison d’etre for Sisi’s rule.</p> <p>With poor political and economic performance, the continued threat of terror becomes the raison d’etre for Sisi’s rule.</p> <p>Indeed, before rising to power, <a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/north-africa-west-asia/wael-eskandar/egypt-army-violence-sinai-terrorism-waronterror-church-bombs-militants">Sisi displayed an accurate understanding</a> that violent policies such as those adopted by his regime can only lead to increased violence and alienation of the north Sinai population. He understood that forced evictions and indiscriminate targeting of north Sinai residents would create violence.</p> <p>Islamic State prisoners find ample opportunity within <a href="https://www.buzzfeed.com/borzoudaragahi/prison-fight-between-isis-and-the-muslim-brotherhood">Egyptian prisons to recruit</a>. Enforced disappearances are common in north Sinai. </p> <p>When speaking to <a href="https://dailynewsegypt.com/2015/11/01/egyptians-disappear-egypt-disintegrates/">Nabil Elboustany</a> following his release after being forcibly disappeared by the army in 2015, he recounted his experience in the Azouli prison in Ismaileya. He described how hundreds or maybe even thousands of north Sinai residents were being <a href="https://www.amnesty.org/en/latest/news/2017/07/egypt-investigate-allegations-of-disappearance-torture-and-extrajudicial-execution-of-four-men/">forcibly disappeared</a> by the army, mistreated and then released. </p> <p>Elboustany’s testimony was recently echoed by Ibrahim Halawa an Irish citizens who spent four years in jail before being acquitted. <a href="https://apnews.com/dd145b1cb67443369e91329a2d92918e/Freed-prisoner-witnessed-radicalization-in-Egyptian-jails">Halawa witnessed the radicalization inside prisons</a> and the strong growth of the Islamic State within its walls. </p> <p>The questions surrounding the climate of extremism and violence in Egypt are important to understand what may need to be done if a more competent and less obstinate administration were to tackle the problems of extremism and terrorism. </p> <p>Until then, more will suffer the consequences of the current context and many will be caught between the proponents of brute force.</p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/north-africa-west-asia/andrea-teti/egypt-s-predictable-tragedy-more-instability-attacks-to-come">Egypt’s predictable tragedy: more instability, attacks to come</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/north-africa-west-asia/mohammad-ahmad/egypt-sinai-terrorist-attack">مصر: جريمة مسجد الروضة قد تتكرر</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/north-africa-west-asia/wael-eskandar/egypt-army-violence-sinai-terrorism-waronterror-church-bombs-militants">The Egyptian Army’s violent trail of breadcrumbs</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/north-africa-west-asia/amr-magdi/we-need-to-talk-sisi-human-rights-world-youth-forum-egypt">‘We need to talk’ about Sisi’s twisted take on human rights</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/north-africa-west-asia/maged-mandour/egypt-sisi-police-security-farafra-oasis-insurgent-terrorism">Egypt’s faltering counter-insurgency strategy</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/north-africa-west-asia/wael-eskandar/revolutionary-arena-battle-of-minds">The revolutionary arena: a battle of minds</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/north-africa-west-asia/wael-eskandar/battling-culture-of-inferior-copt">Egypt&#039;s Copts between terror and discrimination </a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/north-africa-west-asia/maged-mandour/pain-torture-and-alienation">Pain, torture and alienation</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-country"> <div class="field-label"> Country or region:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Egypt </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-topics"> <div class="field-label">Topics:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Conflict </div> <div class="field-item even"> Democracy and government </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> North Africa, West Asia North-Africa West-Asia Egypt Conflict Democracy and government ideology Religion repression security Islamic State State Violence Wael Eskandar Violent transitions The future: Islam and democracy Egypt in the balance Thu, 14 Dec 2017 18:53:56 +0000 Wael Eskandar 115326 at https://www.opendemocracy.net A ghost with red nail polish https://www.opendemocracy.net/north-africa-west-asia/ghost-with-red-nail-polish <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>"Now begins another day in the days of war. It’s not a new day; there’s nothing new about war, even if the suffering changes."&nbsp;<strong><span style="text-decoration: underline;"><a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/north-africa-west-asia-%D9%81%D8%B1%D8%AD-%D9%8A%D9%88%D8%B3%D9%81-MEF-%D8%B3%D9%88%D8%B1%D9%8A%D8%A7-Middle-East-Forum">عربي</a></span></strong></p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/549460/PA-31703707_0.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title="Anas Alkharbotli/Zuma Press/Press Association Images. All rights reserved."><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/549460/PA-31703707_0.jpg" alt="Anas Alkharbotli/Zuma Press/Press Association Images. All rights reserved." title="Anas Alkharbotli/Zuma Press/Press Association Images. All rights reserved." width="460" height="307" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>June 14, 2017 - Daily life in the Syrian town of Duma amidst the rubble and destruction. The town was the site of several demonstrations at the beginning of the Syrian uprising, and then turned into a battleground between the Syrian government and the opposition. Anas Alkharbotli/Zuma Press/Press Association Images. All rights reserved.</span></span></span>It’s eleven o’clock at night outside the borders of war, or two in the morning according to war winter time: time here doesn’t bow to natural circumstances, or actually it does and to nothing else.</p> <p>The sun sets at four during the winter, with no other source of light for this bleak spot of the world in the 21st century. We sit all together in one room, and we shut the door even though three out of four of us suffer from claustrophobia.</p> <p>It’s funny to assume that the war would appease such terrors of yours. Your share in your ancestors’ remains and their civilisation isn’t enough to warm open spaces; so, we must sit together in this room. This share of warmth is very cold, mixed with deep-set guilt: you are warm while the children of your country die from the cold. We are evil beings, void of any conscience. </p> <p>I won’t talk about our lack of conscience: you can find this truth everywhere, in all places and all texts. But first I must say that I have a deep-set hate for white neon lights; I never knew that there was anything worse before I endured long evenings under led light. The lights’ cords hang from the ceiling, spreading depression and misery throughout. Each of us carries a book of some form or other, and whoever has power left in their e-book is the luckiest of all.</p> <p>I have an e-book, but I prefer the paper version of books, and I don’t know what ties me to the spot closest to the heater, where I love to curl up and lean against the cold wall. There is a beauty in the duality of hot and cold. Every now and then a sound emanates from the heater, which means the heater’s fuel isn’t clean; but that’s the least of our concerns now: at 2AM after the shelling, this repressed scream doesn’t matter.</p> <p>There is no smell of gunpowder inside this room. You can smell the orange peel burning on the top of the heater, and you see the rest of the peel on a plate on the table, waiting for one of us warriors to carry it to the kitchen. </p> <p>You will hear my sister asking about the smell of ironing, and you’ll see me move away slightly because that smell is the scent of my last pair of pyjamas to not have burned – and now it too is burning. I want to keep the plate of peel here, not out of laziness; but in the scent of oranges lies the intimacy of winter. </p> <p>In winter you hold onto that sense of affinity as you would to the train of your mother's dress as a child. Everything is strange and designed to make you feel like a stranger to yourself. You think you were born in the age of progress: people are voyaging to other planets, and yet we can’t even move to the kitchen without planning the trip. And so, the dish must stay, and let that homeliness fill up the room if it can. </p> <p>My father never tires of repeating his observations on reading paper books in dim lighting. I could have understood his strictness when I was six, but now it seems absurd: my head could roll off in front of us at any moment now because of what is happening outside. How does he have such faith that I won’t die before my eyesight is ruined? </p> <p>I think it’s a force of habit; if you do something forbidden and look around you, you’d understand what I mean. There are still glass windows in the room that haven’t been broken yet, there is a TV screen, vases, a bookshelf and a fireplace, and a painting hangs above my head as I sit on the heavy wooden window sill. </p> <p>All these are deadly weapons than can turn into shrapnel in a moment. </p> <p>My father only wants to believe one truth: his little daughter will grow old and won’t wear glasses before her fifties. All this death at the door, and the fact that I’ve worn glasses since the second year of the war means nothing to him: his daughter is ruining her eyes by reading in the dark, and this is unacceptable.</p> <p>"Sit on the couch, or you’ll hurt your back that way.” </p> <p>My mother is beautiful; she still has the heart to pay attention to the pain in my back: she’s afraid my back will stoop, and always tells me to straighten it – both literally and figuratively. With her phone always in her hand and her red spectacles on her nose, my mother is beautiful; but the same applies to her comments as to my father’s observations.</p> <p>I broke my back in the second year of the revolution. One day, it suddenly happened, and I was far away, it brought me back to my country with an irreparable crack in my soul. They say the wounds of children heal quickly, but then why doesn’t this wound stop seeping like the rusty winter gutters? The couch won’t heal me, mother, it won’t. </p> <p>It’s eleven o’clock and we’ve all started to fall asleep in our seats. We can’t stay in this room much longer, we must move to the other part of the house, the coldest part, after washing our faces with liquid snow seeping from the taps, and after we grow tired of waiting for the shelling to subside so that we can sleep through the night peacefully. </p> <p>What were the rituals of going to bed before? How do they seem outside the borders of this war? Do people sleep without delaying the washing of their faces and extremities to the point that it can no longer be delayed? Does the power of a battery charger determine their bedtime? Do they hate their cold beds because sleeping in a thick pullover is torture and uncomfortable? I don’t think mist seeps out of their mouths when they exchange good nights. Do they have rituals, or is sleep so easy that they don’t require them? I wouldn’t know, but whatever habits they have must be different to ours. </p> <p>Did you know that there’s an important calculation to make in the nights of war, where you have to fall asleep before the shelling intensifies in order not wake up when it worsens, but then again you could. But you will never fall asleep when the bombing increases. And since I don’t use my e-book during the evening, I ignore this balance, and regret it later. </p> <p>The window above my bed spreads dust and plaster particles throughout the room, so I must clean again in the morning. Can you imagine having to clean a thick layer of fragmented cement off your books and clothes every morning? It’s a Godforsaken, horrible, Sisyphean task; I think of Sisyphus throughout my days and wonder: was he so foul as to deserve such a punishment? He exposed the foulness of a fornicating god, yet such foulness doesn’t matter; what matters is that no one dares to expose this. Thoughts on this tough punishment keep you distracted from the possibility of the window - and the wall containing it - collapsing on top of you. </p> <p>Did you know that in this moment, the wall is gradually collapsing? Of course, you do, but you can only think of the morning and the new task of cleaning off the dust that awaits – to clean the dust and only dust is a blessed luxury at a time where blood pools fill up the morning.</p> <p>The bombing has worsened, and the window is now violently shaking; now it opens: the narrative has turned serious, then. My hair is tied back with a rubber band, my face bare except for a trace of waterproof eyeliner, and I’m wearing fuchsia pyjamas. I hate that colour.</p> <p>I stand up hurriedly and light a thin, strange-looking candle on a saucer. Its wick burns before the candle burns out, and then it disappears without any trace, evaporating into thin air, leaving behind a clean saucer save for a small black mark. What are these strange candles? Well, they fit the purpose and the price you paid for them. </p> <p>The noise outside is less terrifying than the calm inside, but that doesn’t matter now. I loosen the rubber band, and let my hair down. It’s hard to fix my hair after a whole day of keeping it tied up. It’s stubborn, like me: I brush it and cover it in oils, sprays and small pins, and it doesn’t look too bad now given my limited means. </p> <p>I draw kohl around my eyes, detect an annoying spot on my cheek, lengthen my eyelashes with mascara. I look more beautiful now. And now, the most important step: perfume. There is nothing worse than a woman without her own perfume scent. I spray myself generously. </p> <p>I pull on a navy sweater and get back into bed after I’ve made sure that the nail polish on my toenails is completely dry. The good thing about this cold weather is it dries nail polish quickly; it’s dried the blood in my veins, why shouldn’t the polish dry? It will.</p> <p>All this isn’t normal stupidity, as it doesn’t end in a long bout of crying. I went back to my bed and read another chapter. I thought about existential questions – not questions related to existentialism in general but to my existence in this moment, under this shaking window in this bleak spot of the world where fighters don’t sleep or freeze. I cursed the dust and the smell of gunpowder, and then I slept. </p> <p>What truly terrifies me is that I would die at this hour. It’s not death itself that terrifies me, but the complete opposite: what terrifies me is that I don’t dissolve after my death, and that I would remain eternally in my fuchsia pyjamas and traces of waterproof kohl. </p> <p>I’m scared of remaining with my hair tied back with a rubber band; the idea of an eternal headache terrifies me. I couldn’t stay forever a ghost without perfume and perfect nail polish, at least on my feet – the nails on my hand are a whole other story. &nbsp;</p> <p>It’s enough for me to think that my ghost will roam the corridors of this house that I hate. At the very least one of the children will find me in my navy-blue sweater and my neat, cascading waves – as neat as could be given my limited means. The child will smell my perfume scent clearly and won’t be distracted by the traces of my waterproof kohl or ugly fuchsia sweater. </p> <p>I will give him many butterfly kisses with my long lashes. This child will love me, and I won’t tell him about the war. I’ll read to him the first chapters of <em>The Time of White Horses</em>, and he will love it. This child will love me. </p> <p>In the morning, I will wake up, so we haven’t died then. My God, why do these stupid birds have such a strange ability to sing? They taught us in school that birds migrate in the winter - migrate then! Could anyone even think of leaving this country without visa or trouble? Migrate, please, and leave me to sleep another hour! They won’t leave, they sing tirelessly, as if what happened last night was a calm recital of winter in the <em>Four Seasons</em>, as if the remnants of fighting outside don’t concern them. I hate birds. </p> <p>I wash my face with frozen water. They say it tightens large pores; it tightens my heart; not just my skin’s pores. I clean up the dust and shreds of cement. The size of the shreds shows the force of the fighting outside; it was moderate. </p> <p>I pull off the cover from the mattress: it looks like a pitiful surreal painting: sleeping with a fully made up face isn’t a wise choice; the makeup stains extend beyond the cover to the mattress, which is also stained with kohl and mascara. I wash the mattress, I can’t throw it out; it’s the only one I can sleep on. It’s delicate and kind to the back of my neck, its colour doesn’t matter now. </p> <p>‘I love you, and may God bless that smile; it liberates prisoners and motivates rebels.’ My phone flirts with me every morning, distracting me from those annoying, energetic birds. I really hate birds. </p> <p>Here, you condole yourself by thinking of Dostoyevsky’s hell and the forty years he spent on hard labour. Don’t fool yourself, you’re not Dostoyevsky: this suffering consumes you, and you won’t suddenly vomit a great person out of your wreckage. You’re miserable, that’s a fact. And now what?</p> <p>Now begins another day in the days of war. It’s not a new day; there’s nothing new about war, even if the suffering changes.</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p><em>This piece was first published in <a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/north-africa-west-asia-%D9%81%D8%B1%D8%AD-%D9%8A%D9%88%D8%B3%D9%81-MEF-%D8%B3%D9%88%D8%B1%D9%8A%D8%A7-Middle-East-Forum">Arabic</a>&nbsp;on 13 September 2017.</em></p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/north-africa-west-asia-%D9%81%D8%B1%D8%AD-%D9%8A%D9%88%D8%B3%D9%81-MEF-%D8%B3%D9%88%D8%B1%D9%8A%D8%A7-Middle-East-Forum">شبح بأظافر مطلية بالأحمر</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/north-africa-west-asia-syria-lebanon-hunger-strike-human-rights-%D8%A7%D9%84%D8%A5%D8%B6%D8%B1%D8%A7%D8%A8-%D8%A7%D9%84%D8%B7%D8%B9%D8%A7%D9%85-%D9%84%D8%A8%D9%86%D8%A7%D9%86-%D8%B3%D9%88%D8%B1%D9%8A%D8%A7">الإضراب عن الطعام يستمر حتى تحقيق المطالب</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/north-africa-west-asia-MEF-%D8%A7%D9%84%D8%B5%D8%AD%D8%A7%D9%81%D8%A9-%D8%A7%D9%84%D8%B3%D9%88%D8%B1%D9%8A%D9%91%D8%A9-%D8%A5%D8%B9%D9%84%D8%A7%D9%85-%D8%B3%D9%88%D8%B1%D9%8A%D8%A7">صراع البقاء ورهانات التغيير.. الصحافة السوريّة إلى أين؟</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-country"> <div class="field-label"> Country or region:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Syria </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-topics"> <div class="field-label">Topics:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Conflict </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> North Africa, West Asia Middle East Forum North-Africa West-Asia Syria Conflict فرح يوسف Violent transitions Mid-East Forum Sun, 19 Nov 2017 21:48:00 +0000 فرح يوسف 114754 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Egypt’s faltering counter-insurgency strategy https://www.opendemocracy.net/north-africa-west-asia/maged-mandour/egypt-sisi-police-security-farafra-oasis-insurgent-terrorism <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>There is a lack of preparedness in countering the insurgency and the wave of repression has not lead to an improved security situation, on the contrary, Cairo has now become more of a target.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/549460/PA-33379336.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title="Ahmed Gomaa/Xinhua News Agency/Press Association Images. All rights reserved."><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/549460/PA-33379336.jpg" alt="Ahmed Gomaa/Xinhua News Agency/Press Association Images. All rights reserved." title="Ahmed Gomaa/Xinhua News Agency/Press Association Images. All rights reserved." width="460" height="307" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Egyptian security forces block the road at the site about 35 km away from where policemen were killed in a shootout in Giza, Egypt, Oct. 21, 2017. Ahmed Gomaa/Xinhua News Agency/Press Association Images. All rights reserved.</span></span></span>In a devastating blow to Egypt’s counter insurgency efforts, 54 members of the security forces were <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/oct/21/police-killed-raid-cairo-officials-egypt">reported</a> killed during a security operation in the Farafra Oasis on 21 October. This oasis located a mere 135 km south-west of Cairo.</p> <p>The exact number of those killed remains unknown. The interior ministry issued an official statement claiming that only <a href="https://www.madamasr.com/en/2017/10/20/news/u/update-over-50-police-officers-killed-in-clashes-with-militants-in-bahariya-oasis/">16 police</a> offers had been killed, whereas security officials initially stated that 59 had been killed. The Egyptian government criticized <a href="http://af.reuters.com/article/africaTech/idAFKBN1CT1A1-OZATP?feedType=RSS&amp;feedName=topNews">international media</a> for inflating the number of causalities. </p> <p>At first the government held the<a href="https://timep.org/esw/terror-groups/hasam-movement/"> Hassm</a> group responsible; a group it claims is the armed wing of the Muslim Brotherhood - even though the Brotherhood has denied the claims. It remains unclear until now who is responsible for the ambush; no concrete evidence of Hassm responsibility has been provided - even though a <a href="https://www.nytimes.com/2017/10/21/world/middleeast/egypt-ambush-hasm.html">fabricated</a> claim has been circulating – and more recently a new group <a href="https://www.madamasr.com/en/2017/11/04/news/u/new-jihadist-group-claims-responsibility-for-wahat-road-attack/?platform=hootsuite">Ansar El-Islam</a>, who are allegedly connected to Al Qaeda, have claimed responsibility. </p> <p>A deeper analysis of this recent security blunder reveals both operational as well as political failures in handling an increasingly deadly insurgency which has claimed the lives of hundreds of members of the security forces. </p> <p>According to Mostafa Bakry, a pro-regime parliamentarian, a security operation was<a href="http://www.almasryalyoum.com/news/details/1207992"> initiated</a> from a tip off that an insurgent cell was hiding in the Western Desert. However, when security forces went to this location, the insurgents had prior warning and ambushed the security forces, causing heavy causalities. </p> <p>The insurgents’ ability to counter the security forces and obtain advance knowledge of their movement raises the specter of security leaks and the infiltration of the security apparatus. </p> <p><a href="http://www.albawabhnews.com/2765923">Ahmed Mansour,</a> the ex-head of the police academy, claimed that “treason” was an integral part of this security blunder. It is not the first time that the Egyptian security apparatus has been subjected to infiltration; the most infamous example was that of <a href="http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/africa/isis-plane-attack-egypt-terrorists-downed-russian-metrojet-flight-from-sharm-el-sheikh-islamic-state-a6893181.html">Wilayat Sinai</a> when they managed to bypass security and plant a bomb inside a Russian chartered aircraft in October 2015 killing all 224 passengers.</p> <p>On the operational side, there are a number of signs of systematic failures. For example, one of the reasons cited by the authorities for the abysmal performance of the security forces is the <a href="http://www.almasryalyoum.com/news/details/1207992">lack</a> of air support and proper reconnaissance before the operation. The commanding officer was <a href="http://www.bbc.com/news/world-middle-east-41703303">unable</a> to call for reinforcement due to poor telecommunications.</p> <p>This was compounded by the insurgent’s <a href="http://www.bbc.com/news/world-middle-east-41703303">intimate knowledge</a> of the terrain, a lack of investment in topographical training and rudimentary counter-insurgency equipment – such as, satellite based equipment that is essential in operations in remote parts of the country – &nbsp;and poor recruitment practices. </p> <p>The strategy of the Egyptian government has been to heavily invest in the purchase of traditional heavy weaponry, such as the <a href="https://www.madamasr.com/en/2016/12/27/news/u/us-report-egypt-topped-developing-countries-in-arms-imports-in-2015/">11.9 billion dollars</a> in 2015, with little investment in equipment that is better suited for conducting counter insurgency operations. </p> <p>The location of the operation also highlights the Egyptian government’s counter-insurgency strategy failure. For unlike the insurgency in Sinai, which is far from the political and economic center of the country, this operation was a mere 135 KM from the capital. </p> <p>If there is a new group that is capable of delivering such a painful blow to the security forces so close to the capital, then there are higher chances of sophisticated terror operations taking place in the capital.</p> <p>On the political level the regime reacted in an atypical manner, which is an indication of the size of the blunder as well as the weakening of the appeal of the “war on terror” rhetoric. </p> <p>Unlike on other occasions when these incidents were exploited, this time the regime attempted to create a façade of normalcy with President Sisi participating the following day in celebrations for the anniversary of the battle of El Alamein, not making any public announcements about the ambush. </p> <p>In terms of government controlled media, the level of reporting was rather slim, as the regime attempted to suppress and control the narrative. Interestingly, <a href="http://www.tahrirnews.com/posts/847111/%D8%A3%D8%AE%D8%A8%D8%A7%D8%B1-%D9%85%D8%B5%D8%B1-%D8%A3%D8%AD%D9%85%D8%AF-%D9%85%D9%88%D8%B3%D9%89-%D8%A7%D9%84%D8%A3%D8%B9%D9%84%D9%89-%D9%84%D9%84%D8%A5%D8%B9%D9%84%D8%A7%D9%85">Ahmed Moussa,</a> a talk show host and one of the most ardent supporters of the regime had his show suspended after having reported casualty figures that contradicted those of the government in addition to having conducted interviews with some of the survivors in which harrowing tales of the assault were relayed that exposed the <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xoV9kfNXnHc">ineptness</a> of the security forces. </p> <p>The Egyptian regime has systematically failed to counter the deadly insurgency that has been growing in the country. There is a lack of preparedness and investment in countering the insurgency and the wave of repression has not lead to an improved security situation, on the contrary, Cairo is now more of a target to insurgents. </p> <p>One of the most notable examples of suppression of independent voices was <a href="http://euromedrights.org/publication/egypt-500-days-pre-trial-detention-journalist-ismail-al-iskandarani/">the arrest</a> of Ismail El Iskandarani, an independent researcher who was one of the <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ljU0XfWsEeI">first to highlight</a> the role Hisham Ashmawi, an ex-special forces officer, was playing in the evolving insurgency in Sinai. Iskandarani was also critical of the ineffective counter-insurgency strategy of the military. </p> <p>It seems that this security blunder and the repeated failure of the regime in tackling the insurgency is becoming a source of embarrassment. This is a regime that has been justifying its campaign of mass repression with security threats and the fight against terror. The regime will no longer be able to use the “war on terror” rhetoric as a tool to solicit popular support for its repressive policies. </p> <p>Unless there are deep reforms, one can only expect that the insurgency will become more deadly.&nbsp;</p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/north-africa-west-asia/maged-mandour/why-i-write">Why I write</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/north-africa-west-asia/maged-mandour/pain-torture-and-alienation">Pain, torture and alienation</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/north-africa-west-asia/maged-mandour/egypt-opposition-social-class-sisi-revolution-military">Egypt: an obsession with the state</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/north-africa-west-asia/maged-mandour/changing-security-dynamic-of-red-sea">The changing security dynamic in the Red Sea</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/north-africa-west-asia/maged-mandour/pain-and-torture-state-violence-in-egypt">Pain and torture: state violence in Egypt</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/north-africa-west-asia/maged-mandour/military-inc-class-formation-collapse-of-egyptian-economy">Egypt&#039;s Military Inc.</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-country"> <div class="field-label"> Country or region:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Egypt </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-topics"> <div class="field-label">Topics:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Conflict </div> <div class="field-item even"> Democracy and government </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> North Africa, West Asia Middle East Forum North-Africa West-Asia Egypt Conflict Democracy and government Maged Mandour Violent transitions Mid-East Forum Egypt in the balance Chronicles of the Arab revolt Sun, 12 Nov 2017 18:05:10 +0000 Maged Mandour 114548 at https://www.opendemocracy.net The anti-Islamist campaign and Arab democracy https://www.opendemocracy.net/north-africa-west-asia/mieczys-aw-p-boduszy-ski/anti-islamist-campaign-and-arab-democracy <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Egyptians, Libyans, Tunisians, and other Arabs deserve better than to be told that they must choose between extremism and chaos or autocracy.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/549460/PA-18097172.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title="AA/ABACA/Press Association Images. All rights reserved."><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/549460/PA-18097172.jpg" alt="AA/ABACA/Press Association Images. All rights reserved." title="AA/ABACA/Press Association Images. All rights reserved." class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" width="460" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Egyptian security guards intervene and detain scores of Morsi supporters who gathered in Alexandria on November 4, 2013 to denounce Morsi's trial in Egypt. AA/ABACA/Press Association Images. All rights reserved.</span></span></span>The 2013 Egyptian coup, which overthrew the democratically elected Muslim Brotherhood president Mohamed Morsi, strengthened the anti-political Islam camp while hardening its attitudes.</p> <p>Besides advocating the complete exclusion and repression of Islamist groups, this camp also lumps jihadists and peaceful political parties together. </p><p>The rigidity and anti-democratic hypocrisy of such attitudes recalls anti-communist sentiment in the US during the Cold War, when many ordinary Americans and their government could not grasp that the repression practiced by right-wing US-allied regimes was just as ruthless as that applied in the Soviet Union and by its allies.&nbsp;</p><p class="mag-quote-right">the US government readily looked the other way as human rights were violated</p> <p>The thinking was that an autocratic right-wing government was far better than the communist alternative. With this worldview as a foundation, the US government readily looked the other way as human rights were violated.</p> <p>The current coalition against nonviolent political Islam, sadly, includes some of the youthful protestors at the vanguard of the 2010-2011 Arab Spring who now harbor uncompromising attitudes toward the Muslim Brotherhood and other Islamist groups.&nbsp;</p> <p>In the worst cases, their ‘allergy’ to political Islam is so severe that it clouds their ability to empathize with the human rights of fellow citizens. </p><p>After the 2013 coup in Egypt, many of those who called for Mubarak’s removal in 2011 not only remained silent, but actively cheered, the violent crackdown on Muslim Brotherhood supporters.</p> <p>An uncompromising attitude toward political Islam is first and foremost the consequence of many decades of state-driven propaganda which has convinced a critical mass of Arab citizens and foreigners that political Islam constitutes an existential threat to the state and needs to be put down, at any cost to democracy and human rights.&nbsp;</p> <p>Historically, Arab autocrats at times co-opted political Islam for their own purposes, but mostly they repressed Islamist movements in the most brutal ways, as we are <a href="https://www.nytimes.com/2017/04/22/world/africa/tunisias-truth-telling-renews-a-revolutions-promise-painfully.html">learning</a> from the work of the Tunisian Truth and Dignity Commission.</p><p class="mag-quote-left">What Sisi and the Egyptian military really fear is not Islamists but democracy itself.</p> <p>Islamist political parties may play the democratic game, the autocrats said, but once in power they will trample on personal freedoms and capture state institutions. </p><p>The autocrats also <a href="http://www.newsweek.com/tragedy-hosni-mubarak-68769">convinced</a> American and European leaders that their regimes were the only bulwark against extremism.</p> <p>Today, the regime that rules Egypt, the most populous Arab country, has returned to these well-trodden tactics. Its leader, Abdel Fattah El Sisi, <a href="https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2017/01/02/egypts-failed-revolution">plays up</a> the threat of Islamism as a way to bolster his internal and external support and justify repression.</p> <p>What Sisi and the Egyptian military really fear is not Islamists but democracy itself. Nevertheless, many Egyptians have bought into the narrative that strongman rule is the only bulwark against chaos and Islamic theocracy.&nbsp;</p> <p>In anti-Islamist <a href="https://www.economist.com/news/leaders/21727067-their-record-power-often-worrying-they-can-be-pragmatic-and-cannot-be-ignored-blanket">discourse</a>, the Muslim Brotherhood is indistinguishable from violent jihadist groups. Never mind that Islamists have peacefully participated in parliamentary politics in countries such as Kuwait, Morocco and Jordan for many years now, and in Tunisia since 2011. </p><p>The anti-Islamist propaganda narrative in Egypt leaves this fact out, and instead the Sisi regime has declared the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood a terrorist group. Sisi has also <a href="http://carnegieendowment.org/sada/69886">reinstated</a> the Emergency Law, which in modern Egyptian history has been used to silence opposition while doing little to quell terrorist attacks.</p> <p>In Tunisia, anti-Islamist sentiments have been exploited for political purposes and to distract citizens and outsiders from anti-democratic practices.</p> <p>Tunisian president Beji Caid Essebsi, who spent most of his career serving dictators, recently <a href="http://www.aljazeera.com/news/2017/09/tunisia-lifts-ban-muslim-women-marrying-muslims-170914154657961.html">pushed</a> to end a ban on Tunisian women marrying non-Muslim men and called for changes to gender-discriminatory gender laws. Yet, he has done little to reform Tunisia’s interior ministry and police, well known as sources of repression, and has presided over a troubling <a href="http://www.middleeasteye.net/columns/letting-go-every-principle-tunisia-s-democratic-gains-under-threat-673085990">rollback</a> of democratic principles.&nbsp;</p> <p>This uncompromising anti-Islamist line has powerful external sponsors. The United Arab Emirates uses its financial and diplomatic clout (at times in alliance with other Gulf Arab allies) in a relentless <a href="https://www.alaraby.co.uk/english/comment/2017/2/23/the-uae-has-it-in-for-the-muslim-brotherhood">campaign</a> against the Muslim Brotherhood.</p><p class="mag-quote-right">The wave of nationalism and populism sweeping across western societies has bought into the anti-Islamist narrative</p> <p>The Emiratis have <a href="http://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/features/2017/06/uae-violates-libya-arms-embargo-supplies-haftar-lna-170613132424261.html">supported</a> anti-Islamist figures like Eastern Libya’s self-styled strongman Khalifa Hiftar, whose militias commit well-documented human rights abuses in the name of fighting Islamists. Saudi Arabia has also intervened in <a href="http://carnegie-mec.org/diwan/64846">support</a> of politically “quietist” Libyan Salafists.</p> <p>The wave of nationalism and populism sweeping across western societies (which features Islamophobia as one of its main tenets) has also bought into the anti-Islamist narrative with the help of Russian information warfare.&nbsp;</p> <p>This has helped convince many Europeans that in the Arab world, autocracy is the only defense against radical Islam. As a consequence, European right-wing populist parties and their followers <a href="https://www.alaraby.co.uk/english/Comment/2017/8/17/Why-Nazis-love-Bashar-al-Assad">express support</a> for Bashar al-Assad, who is fighting a noble battle against jihadists. Never mind that he is also backed by the theocratic Iran and scores of religiously-motivated Shia militias. All of this lowers the potential for Europe, never a champion of Arab democracy, to be a positive force for reform in the Arab world.</p> <p>Similarly, the administration of Donald J. Trump has signaled often and vocally its unqualified <a href="https://www.newyorker.com/news/news-desk/trump-embraces-the-sunni-autocrats">support</a> for Arab authoritarian leaders as partners in the fight against “violent Islamic extremism.”</p> <p>In April 2017, a&nbsp;<a href="https://www.nytimes.com/2017/04/03/world/middleeast/-egypt-sisi-trump-white-house.html">photograph</a> of Egyptian president Sisi, by most measures more repressive than former president Hosni Mubarak, sitting next to Trump in the White House spoke volumes about the priorities of the administration and its readiness to buy into the time-tested appeals of Arab autocrats to American presidents. Meanwhile, Trump's son-in-law and advisor Jared Kushner have <a href="http://www.latimes.com/politics/la-fg-trump-saudi-princes-20170521-story.html">forged</a> close friendships with Saudi and Emirati royalty.&nbsp;</p> <p>The post-Arab Spring campaign against political Islam has been used again and again to <a href="https://www.giga-hamburg.de/de/system/files/publications/wp299_edel-josua.pdf">justify</a> political exclusion and human rights abuses. </p> <p>Its rigid ideological approach only further entrenches authoritarianism and promotes feelings of marginalization, which can drive extremism.</p> <p>Egyptians, Libyans, Tunisians, and other Arabs deserve better than to be told that they must choose between extremism and chaos on one hand or autocracy on the other. </p><p>It is also time that courageous western leaders openly challenge the premises and methods of the campaign against nonviolent political Islam, not because they agree with the program of nonviolent Islamist parties, but rather because they care about democracy.</p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/north-africa-west-asia/faheem-hussain/political-islam-in-tunisia-history-of-ennahda-and-tunisian-exc"> Political Islam in Tunisia: a history of Ennahda and the Tunisian exception</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/north-africa-west-asia/jonathan-fenton-harvey/tunisia-reforms-marriage-women-reconciliation-law-parliament">Despite Tunisia&#039;s positive reforms, more changes are needed</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/north-africa-west-asia/maged-mandour/pain-torture-and-alienation">Pain, torture and alienation</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/north-africa-west-asia/tunisia-s-struggle-against-corruption-time-to-fight-not-to-forgive">Tunisia’s struggle against corruption: time to fight, not forgive</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/north-africa-west-asia/wael-eskandar/egypt-army-violence-sinai-terrorism-waronterror-church-bombs-militants">The Egyptian Army’s violent trail of breadcrumbs</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/north-africa-west-asia/jack-shenker/send-them-to-egypt">Send them to Egypt</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/north-africa-west-asia/sameh-naguib/sisi-s-neoliberal-assault-context-and-prospects">Sisi’s neoliberal assault: context and prospects</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/north-africa-west-asia/shena-cavallo/who-will-defend-egypt-s-human-rights-defenders">Who will defend Egypt’s human rights defenders?</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/amel-grami-karima-bennoune/tunisias-fight-against-fundamentalism-interview-with-amel-grami">Tunisia&#039;s fight against fundamentalism: an interview with Amel Grami</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-country"> <div class="field-label"> Country or region:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Tunisia </div> <div class="field-item even"> Egypt </div> <div class="field-item odd"> Libya </div> <div class="field-item even"> Syria </div> <div class="field-item odd"> United Arab Emirates </div> <div class="field-item even"> Saudi Arabia </div> <div class="field-item odd"> United States </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-topics"> <div class="field-label">Topics:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Conflict </div> <div class="field-item even"> Democracy and government </div> <div class="field-item odd"> International politics </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> North Africa, West Asia North-Africa West-Asia United States Saudi Arabia United Arab Emirates Syria Libya Egypt Tunisia Conflict Democracy and government International politics World Forum for Democracy 2017 islam islamophobia Political Islam human rights human rights abuses Mieczysław P. Boduszyński Arab Awakening: violent transitions Egypt in the balance Revolution The future: Islam and democracy Violent transitions Fri, 27 Oct 2017 08:55:44 +0000 Mieczysław P. Boduszyński 114257 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Iraq’s security dilemma and the intractable problem of the PMF https://www.opendemocracy.net/north-africa-west-asia/beverley-milton-edwards-alexander-brammer/iraq-security-mosul-coalition-US-PMF <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Given the current political forces in Baghdad and security realities in Mosul, an incremental approach is needed.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/549460/PA-32938351.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title="Oliver Weiken/DPA/Press Association Images. All rights reserved."><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/549460/PA-32938351.jpg" alt="Oliver Weiken/DPA/Press Association Images. All rights reserved." title="Oliver Weiken/DPA/Press Association Images. All rights reserved." width="460" height="307" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>An Iraqi police man walks towards the remains of the Al-Nuri mosque, where the Islamic State caliphate was proclaimed, in the old city of Mosul, Iraq, 21 September 2017. After almost nine months of heavy fighting Mosul was declared liberated from the so-called Islamic State in July 2017 leaving its western part mostly reduced to rubble and inhabitable. Oliver Weiken/DPA/Press Association Images. All rights reserved.</span></span></span>Nearly a year on from legislation to integrate the Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF, or&nbsp;<em>al-Hashd al-Shaabi</em>) into the Iraqi security apparatus, they now constitute half of the security forces nominally under governmental control.</p> <p>The predominantly Shia PMF were once the most important players in preventing the ISIS advance of 2014 on Baghdad and played a widely acknowledged role in subsequent efforts to liberate ISIS-controlled areas.&nbsp; &nbsp;</p> <p>Yet, as the threat of ISIS recedes and stabilization becomes the number one priority in Iraq, political disputes over the future of the PMF are intensifying in Baghdad and reverberating throughout the country.</p> <p>The reasons for the dispute lie with concerns about the true loyalties of those that command the PMF. Those concerns centre on enduring sectarian loyalties that may trump the national effort to rebuild the country for all its citizens.</p> <h2><strong>On the ground in Mosul</strong></h2> <p>The PMF debate is particularly striking in Mosul. Efforts to rebuild security here have drawn a significant amount of international interest. For Iraqi and coalition security professionals, Mosul is seen as a ‘canary in the mineshaft’ for the success of on-going efforts to defeat ISIS and create stability in Iraq more broadly.&nbsp;</p> <p>As one of the conflict epicentres and a majority Sunni province, the security situation in Mosul today is exceedingly fragile and exacerbated by the presence of sectarian-oriented Shia PMF elements.</p> <p>Beyond the obvious sectarian tensions that dominate the discourse around the PMF, the presence of these groups constitute subtler but perhaps even more profound challenges.</p> <h2><strong>Unity of command</strong></h2> <p>Iraqi and US commanders see things similarly but through different lenses. From the US perspective, one of the biggest challenges to providing security and stability is the necessity to achieve unity of command. </p> <p>During the clearance of Mosul, the unlikely coalition of PMF, Kurdish Peshmerga, western Coalition forces, and other Iraqi security forces merged around the ouster of ISIS.&nbsp;</p> <p>With ISIS militarily defeated, the more complicated stabilization efforts are suffering from a lack of coordination between units contributing to the ‘hold’ mission in Mosul. Hold responsibilities, which include operating checkpoints, targeting suspected ISIS sleeper cells, investigating criminal networks, and detaining criminals, now fall to a motley crew of subsidiary organizations.&nbsp;</p> <p>The political fault lines that emanate from their parent ministries in Baghdad determine their loyalties. The PMF is believed to be heavily influenced by the Ministry of the Interior (MoI), which is dominated by the pro-Iranian Badr Organization. MoI organizations, in turn, have proven unwilling to cooperate with security forces operating under the Ministry of Defence.</p> <p>To complicate matters further, it is widely recognized that there are deep political and ideological fissures between groups within the PMF, with individual groups loyal to various (and often opposing) political and clerical leaders and seeking different political dispensations in a post-ISIS Iraq.</p> <p>Operationally speaking, this means that coordination among and between PMF units and adjacent security organizations is difficult and in places, non-existent. </p><p>For these reasons, and despite a task organization that places PMF units in Mosul nominally under Iraqi army control, some senior security leaders have indicated that they have little influence in how or where they operate, and the spectre of malign Iranian influence weighs heavily.</p> <h2><strong>The relationship between the security forces and the people</strong></h2> <p>Iraqi security leaders in Mosul see a separate but related issue as their main concern in the post-ISIS stabilization effort. </p><p>In an interview, Major General Najim al-Juburi, the commanding general of the Ninewah Operations Command (NOC), strongly asserted that the most important factor in preventing Mosul from becoming a safe-haven once again for&nbsp;<em>takfiri-jihadism</em>&nbsp;is to ensure there is a good relationship between the security forces and the local population.</p> <p>Towards this end, among senior Ninewah political and security leaders today there is a desire to move quickly towards community-based policing and the removal of non-local and militarized security elements from Mosul proper. This includes relocating the Iraqi Army outside of the city limits. </p><p>The recent allegations of <a href="https://www.reuters.com/article/us-mideast-crisis-iraq-watch/u-s-trained-iraqi-army-unit-committed-war-crimes-in-mosul-hrw-idUSKBN1AC1L4">war crimes being committed</a> by the 16th&nbsp;Iraqi Army Division are an apt example of the strategic risk inherent in a prolonged militarized presence in civil society. This is a risk that Najim is well aware of and wishes to mitigate by removing both the Iraqi Army and the PMF from city centres throughout Ninewah Province. </p> <p>The risk of alienating the local population and recreating the grievance-laden breeding ground for ISIS resurgence is amplified by the presence of the PMF in population centres. There is broad consensus that the PMF are regarded as outsiders. </p><p>Much of this consensus emanates from increasing reports of kidnapping for ransom, illegal seizure of property, and other forms of harassment allegedly perpetrated by some PMF units.</p> <p>Some local sources even spoke of fears of the PMF repopulating Mosul – moving themselves, their families and their friends from outside the area into abandoned properties – in order to alter the demographic balance of the city.&nbsp;&nbsp;</p> <p>The PMF are nevertheless operating under the auspices of the Government of Iraq. To most locals, the security forces operating within the city are the most tangible manifestation of the state, and such abuses – by both IA and PMF units – confirm the ISIS<em>&nbsp;</em>narrative that the Government of Iraq is a sectarian puppet of Iran.</p> <p>PMF units are negatively impacting efforts to secure the population and stabilize Mosul. Their official connection to the Iraqi state, their overt sectarian bent, and their increasing criminality all do lasting harm to the legitimacy of the Government of Iraq with local Maslawis.</p> <h2><strong>Security dilemma</strong></h2> <p>Myriad challenges to stabilizing Mosul will remain for years, but completely removing the PMF variable from the security equation would increase the likelihood that the Government of Iraq will be able to consolidate the gains made in its anti-ISIS campaign.</p> <p>Ultimately, PMF units comprised of non-locals should be removed from Ninewah Province, and local Sunni units (referred to as Tribal Mobilization Forces, or TMF) should be disbanded and their personnel absorbed into local police forces or other public service apparatuses.</p> <p>Given the current political forces in Baghdad and security realities in Mosul, however, an incremental approach is needed – and likely, all that is possible at the moment. The decision to remove the PMF from Mosul will be dictated by decisions from Baghdad.&nbsp;&nbsp;</p> <p>The US-led coalition could contribute first by continuing to provide unwavering support to Prime Minister Abadi, giving him a visible and enduring commitment of military advisors, material support, and access to resources for capacity building and reconstruction efforts.&nbsp;</p><p>The recent Kurdish independence referendum and resultant re-taking of Kirkuk by Iraqi Security Forces have significantly complicated the United States’ political position in Baghdad, but efforts should be made to separate these Kurd-Arab ethno-political challenges from efforts to prevent an ISIS resurgence in the Sunni heartlands of Iraq.&nbsp; </p> <p>Secondly, back in Mosul, coalition advisors should continue to engage with political and security leaders to enhance their ability to understand their operational environment and synchronize operations between organizations especially as it relates to the different ‘hold’ missions in the east and west of the city.</p> <p>More specifically, the US-led coalition should support Iraqi Security Forces as they try to mitigate criminal and sectarian PMF activities by conducting joint coalition-Iraqi patrols throughout Mosul focusing on PMF-held sectors. This support should be conditional, however, upon legal and ethical behaviour by the Iraqi Security Forces, and the US should credibly signal that this support will be withdrawn if allegations of war crimes continue to surface. </p> <p>If and when PMF units begin to withdraw from Mosul, a more granular understanding of the security gaps they would be leaving behind would facilitate a quicker reorganization of security forces and mitigate opportunities for ISIS regeneration.</p> <p>Finally, coalition advisors should capitalize on opportunities to verbally back Iraqi security leaders in meetings that focus on PMF malfeasance, particularly meetings with PMF leaders present.</p> <p>Together, these practices would help to shape the security environment in Mosul by demonstrating to PMF units that they cannot act with impunity, and would embolden Iraqi Security Forces to counter illicit and sectarian PMF activity while simultaneously enhancing their operational capacity to stabilize Mosul.</p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/north-africa-west-asia/rijin-sahakian/what-we-are-fighting-for">What we are fighting for</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/north-africa-west-asia/nadim-houry/justice-after-isis-time-for-judicial-triage"> Justice after ISIS: time for judicial triage</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/north-africa-west-asia/andrea-teti-pamela-abbott-munqith-daghir/iraq-after-isis-continued-conflict-o">Iraq after ISIS: continued conflict or rebuilding beyond ethno-sectarian identities?</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/north-africa-west-asia/whatever-happened-peace-arms-oil-war-proxy-syria-middle-east-military-industrial">Whatever happened to peace? Arms, oil and war by proxy</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/north-africa-west-asia/yazan-al-saadi/lost-and-found-hopes-in-hell-testimonies-from-iraqi-hospital-mosul-ISIS">Lost and found hopes in hell: testimonies from an Iraqi hospital</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/uk/carla-ferstman/why-icc-examination-into-torture-and-other-abuses-by-uk-soldiers-in-iraq-must-cont">Why the ICC examination into torture and other abuses by UK soldiers in Iraq must continue</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/north-africa-west-asia/dylan-odriscoll/preparing-iraq-for-defeat-of-is">Preparing Iraq for the defeat of IS </a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-country"> <div class="field-label"> Country or region:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Iraq </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-topics"> <div class="field-label">Topics:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Conflict </div> <div class="field-item even"> Democracy and government </div> <div class="field-item odd"> International politics </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> North Africa, West Asia North-Africa West-Asia Iraq Conflict Democracy and government International politics Alexander Brammer Beverley Milton-Edwards You tell us Violent transitions Mon, 23 Oct 2017 17:46:30 +0000 Beverley Milton-Edwards and Alexander Brammer 114201 at https://www.opendemocracy.net نَمرةٌ تأكل أولادها الثلاثة من شدة الجوع في سوريا https://www.opendemocracy.net/north-africa-west-asia/%D9%85%D9%86%D8%AA%D8%AF%D9%89-%D8%A7%D9%84%D8%B4%D8%B1%D9%82-%D8%A7%D9%84%D8%A3%D9%88%D8%B3%D8%B7-%D8%B3%D9%88%D8%B1%D9%8A%D8%A7-%D8%AD%D8%AF%D9%8A%D9%82%D8%A9-%D8%AD%D9%8A%D9%88%D8%A7%D9%86%D8%A7%D8%AA-%D8%AD%D9%84%D8%A8/%D9%85%D8%AC%D8%A7%D9%87%D8%AF-%D8%A3%D8%A8%D9%88%D8%A7%D9%84%D8%AC%D9%88%D8%AF <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p class="western" dir="rtl">وقع خليفة مرةً أخرى في صراع نفسي بين الموت مع القرب والحياة مع الفراق، قبل أن يقرر أخيراً الموافقة على إخراج جميع الحيوانات رغبةً منه في منحهم حياةً أفضل.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p dir="rtl"><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/549460/IMG_8753.JPG" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title="Megahed AbulGud. All rights reserved."><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/549460/IMG_8753.JPG" alt="Megahed AbulGud. All rights reserved." title="Megahed AbulGud. All rights reserved." width="460" height="307" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Megahed AbulGud. All rights reserved.</span></span></span></p><blockquote><p dir="rtl">"أعشق الحيوانات.. ربّيتهم بين أطفالي وأخذوا من وقتي أكثر من عائلتي. تقاسمنا الحياة سويّاً، وظُلمنا سويّاً، وما مرّ عليهم من ظروف قاسية مرّ عليّ أيضاً."</p></blockquote><p dir="rtl">في مساحة تبلغ نحو 2 كم، وعلى مقربة من خط التماس بين المعارضة السورية المسلحة وقوات النظام، يعيش عمر خليفة، البالغُ من العمر 37 عاماً، في حديقة ببلدةِ كفرناها غرب مدينة حلب تدعى بعالم السحر. وكانت الحديقة قبل الحرب في سوريا منتزهاً يضم مدينة ملاهٍ وحديقة حيوانات، يرتادها مئات السكان يومياً، قبل أن تتحول المنطقة لساحة حربٍ تُدكّ بمختلف أنواع الأسلحة الفتاكة.</p><p dir="rtl">تضم الحديقة مجموعة كبيرة من الحيواناتِ مختلفةِ الأنواع، ويعمل عمر مروضاً ومربياً لهم منذ سبعة عشر عاماً، يطعمهم ويسقيهم ويداويهم. لكن ومع اندلاع الحرب في منطقته أصبح الوضع الإنساني أكثر سوءاً، ما انعكس على الحيوانات أيضاً. فقد أغلقت المحال التجارية والأسواق أبوابها وتوقفت وسائل المواصلات عن العمل وانعدمت مظاهر الحياة بشكل كامل، ووجد عمر نفسه في منفىً عن العالم.</p><p dir="rtl">يقول عمر: "أصعب اللحظات التي مرت عليّ على الإطلاق، كانت عندما الطائرات الحربية والمروحية تقصف محيط الحديقة، بينما يتوجب عليّ الخروجُ لجلب الطعام للحيوانات. وكنت أفكر هل أجازف بحياتهم أم حياتي؟َ فكرت في تركهم وحزمت أمتعتي مرات عديدة، وفي كلٍ مرة أصل إلى باب الحديقة للهروب، استرق نظرة لهم فأعود وأقرر البقاء، وما زلت أعيش صراعاً نفسياً حتى الآن."</p><p dir="rtl">أكثر الحيوانات محبة في قلب عمر أسدٌ اسمه ليث، ونَمِرَةٌ اسمها جودي، توفيت أمهاتهم عند ولادتهم، فقام هو بإطعامهم والاعتناء بهم، بل كان ليث ينام مع أطفاله في نفس السرير على حد وصفه.</p><p dir="rtl">وقد قُتلت عشرات الحيوانات بسبب الظروف السيئة التي فرضتها الحرب الراهنة، وعلى رأس هذه الظروف، الجوعُ. وفي أسوأ حادثة تُرصد مأساة الجوع، فقد أكلت نَمِرَةٌ أولادها الثلاثة من شدة الجوع بعد أن بقوا جميعاً دون طعام لأكثر من أسبوع. ولم يتمكن عمر وقتها من جلب الطعام لهم بأي وسيلة، بينما قُتلت القرود والأفاعي والتماسيح لعدم توفر المناخ المناسب، فقد كان لهم مناخ اصطناعي خاص بهم قبل الحرب، أما اليوم فلم يعد هذا متوفراً.</p><p dir="rtl">ولقوات النظام والميليشيات الموالية له نصيبٌ في قتل هذه الحيوانات، فقد تعرضت الحديقة لقصف جوي وصاروخي مكثف قُتل إثرها ثلاثة ضباع لوبوتان، وثلاث دببة، وخمسة نمور. أربعةٌ منها ترجع أصولهم لجبال سيخوت ألين في أقصى الشرق الروسي، ويعرفون باسم النمور السيبيرية، وآخر أمريكي الأصل ويعرف باسم الجاكور، حيث قتل الأخير عام 2015 بقصف صاروخي على قفصه الذي يعيش فيه، بينما أصيبت أنثاه بعدة جروح وسالت منها الدماء، ما دفع بمُرَوِّضها للمخاطرة بحياته بين جنبات القصف وإخراجها من القفص إلى مكان أكثر أمناً، لتضميد جراحها وعلاجها.</p><p dir="rtl">ووقف عمر مكتوف الأيدي، مقهوراً، دون حيلةٍ تجاه مقتل معظم حيواناته واحداً تلو الآخر، تقتلعهم الحرب من جذور قلبه دون أن تتمكن أي قوة من إيقاف ذلك، معتبراً أنّ فِراق أيٍّ منهم كفراق أحد أبنائه، لا تُفرق مشاعرُه بين هذا وذاك، بل كثيراً ما قدّم الطعام لحيواناته قبل عائلته.</p><p dir="rtl"><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/549460/2D1A8728.JPG" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title="Megahed AbulGud. All rights reserved."><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/549460/2D1A8728.JPG" alt="Megahed AbulGud. All rights reserved." title="Megahed AbulGud. All rights reserved." width="460" height="307" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Megahed AbulGud. All rights reserved.</span></span></span>وبعد سبع سنوات من الحرب في سوريا، تمكنت منظمة <a href="http://www.four-paws.org.uk">Four Paws</a>، نمساوية المنشأ، من الوصول لهذه الحديقة، وعرضوا على خليفة إخراج ما تبقى من الحيوانات لمحميات طبيعية في هولندا، على غرار مشروع لهم لإنقاذ حيوانات في الموصل أول العام الجاري.</p><p dir="rtl">وقع خليفة مرةً أخرى في صراع نفسي، قبل أن يقرر أخيراً الموافقة على إخراج جميع الحيوانات رغبةً منه في منحهم حياةً أفضل، يقول: "الحياة هنا ظلم وحرمان وخوف، ولا أستطيع أن أقدم لهم شيئاً. استغنيت عنهم علَّهم يعيشوا حياة أفضل من الحياة في القفص هنا."</p><p dir="rtl">خرجت الحيوانات من الحديقة في الشهر السابع من العام الحالي باتجاه مدينة عفرين، الخاضعة لسيطرة وحدات حماية الشعب الكردية، ومنها إلى معبر الراعي مع تركيا شمال حلب، حيث استقبلهم في تركيا أطباء ومختصون لعدة أيام قبل أن ينقلوا إلى محميات طبيعية.</p><p class="western" dir="rtl">ولم تكن قصة رعاية الحيوانات في عالم السحر هي الأولى في سوريا. فقد أنشأ<a href="http://www.bbc.com/arabic/multimedia/2016/09/160925_gch_syria_aleppo_cats"> محمد علاء الجليل</a>، أول محمية للقطط داخل مدينة حلب عام 2014، تضم نحو 170 قط. لكن صواريخ طائرات النظام دمرت محمية القطط بشكل كامل في تشرين الثاني 2016، وقتلت نحو 20 قطة، بينهم أربعة على الأقل قتلوا خنقاً بالغازات السامة، خلال الحملة العسكرية البرية التي شنتها قوات النظام وروسيا للسيطرة على شرق حلب، بعد إطباق الحصار عليها. وتمكن الجليلُ من إخراج نحو 25 قطة معه أثناء خروجه من حلب ضمن اتفاق إجلاء المحاصرين من المدينة منتصف كانون الأول العام الماضي، لينقلهم إلى محميّةٍ جديدة أنشأها في بلدة كفرناها في ريف حلب الغرب.</p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/north-africa-west-asia-%D9%81%D8%B1%D8%AD-%D9%8A%D9%88%D8%B3%D9%81-MEF-%D8%B3%D9%88%D8%B1%D9%8A%D8%A7-Middle-East-Forum">شبح بأظافر مطلية بالأحمر</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/north-africa-west-asia/%D8%A7%D9%82%D8%AA%D8%B5%D8%A7%D8%AF-%D8%AB%D9%88%D8%B1%D8%A9-%D8%A7%D9%84%D8%B1%D8%A8%D9%8A%D8%B9-%D8%A7%D9%84%D8%B9%D8%B1%D8%A8%D9%8A-%D9%81%D8%B3%D8%A7%D8%AF-%D8%B1%D8%AC%D8%A7%D9%84-%D8%A7%D9%84%D8%A3%D8%B9%D9%85%D8%A7%D9%84-%D9%85%D9%86%D8%AA%D8%AF%D9%89-%D8%A7%D9%84%D8%B4%D8%B1%D9%82-%D8%A7%D9%84%D8%A3%D9%88%D8%B3%D8%B7/%D9%81%D8%B1%D8%AD-%D9%8A%D9%88%D8%B3%D9%81"> الربيع العربي..عودة للأسباب وتصحيح اتجاهات أصابع الاتهام</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/north-africa-west-asia-MEF-%D8%A7%D9%84%D8%B5%D8%AD%D8%A7%D9%81%D8%A9-%D8%A7%D9%84%D8%B3%D9%88%D8%B1%D9%8A%D9%91%D8%A9-%D8%A5%D8%B9%D9%84%D8%A7%D9%85-%D8%B3%D9%88%D8%B1%D9%8A%D8%A7">صراع البقاء ورهانات التغيير.. الصحافة السوريّة إلى أين؟</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/north-africa-west-asia-%D8%B3%D9%88%D8%B1%D9%8A%D8%A7-%20%D8%A7%D9%84%D8%B9%D9%85%D9%84-%D8%A7%D9%84%D8%AB%D9%82%D8%A7%D9%81%D9%8A-%D8%AA%D8%B1%D9%83%D9%8A%D9%91%D8%A7-%D8%A7%D9%84%D8%AA%D9%87%D9%85%D9%8A%D8%B4">سياسات العمل الثقافي السوري في تركيّا: التهميش مازال مستمراً -١ من ٢</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/north-africa-west-asia-syria-lebanon-hunger-strike-human-rights-%D8%A7%D9%84%D8%A5%D8%B6%D8%B1%D8%A7%D8%A8-%D8%A7%D9%84%D8%B7%D8%B9%D8%A7%D9%85-%D9%84%D8%A8%D9%86%D8%A7%D9%86-%D8%B3%D9%88%D8%B1%D9%8A%D8%A7">الإضراب عن الطعام يستمر حتى تحقيق المطالب</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-country"> <div class="field-label"> Country or region:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Syria </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-topics"> <div class="field-label">Topics:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Civil society </div> <div class="field-item even"> Conflict </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> North Africa, West Asia Middle East Forum North-Africa West-Asia Syria Civil society Conflict مجاهد أبو الجود Violent transitions Revolution Mid-East Forum Arabic language Sat, 30 Sep 2017 12:32:44 +0000 مجاهد أبو الجود 113677 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Pain, torture and alienation https://www.opendemocracy.net/north-africa-west-asia/maged-mandour/pain-torture-and-alienation <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Due to Egypt’s dire political and economic situation, pain and alienation are bound to be a feature of the lives of many for years to come.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/549460/PA-17166094.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title="AA/ABACA/Press Association Images. All rights reserved."><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/549460/PA-17166094.jpg" alt="AA/ABACA/Press Association Images. All rights reserved." title="AA/ABACA/Press Association Images. All rights reserved." width="460" height="265" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>July 26, 2013. Anti-coup demonstrators at Rabaa Al-Adaweya square. AA/ABACA/Press Association Images. All rights reserved.</span></span></span>Human Rights Watch recently published a <a href="https://www.hrw.org/report/2017/09/05/we-do-unreasonable-things-here/torture-and-national-security-al-sisis-egypt">report</a>&nbsp;exposing the use of “systematic torture” by Egyptian security forces. This includes, but is not limited to, the use of sexual violence, electric shocks and stress positions. Sadly, the report confirms what is already common knowledge amongst the vast majority of Egyptians.</p> <p>What is novel in this report is that it affirms the use of torture as a matter of deliberate state policy, and that these wide spread abuses by security forces are condoned by President Sisi. Soon after the report was published, Human Rights Watch joined the list of websites blocked in Egypt, which now&nbsp;<a href="https://egyptianstreets.com/2017/08/31/egypt-blocks-more-websites-raising-the-total-number-of-blocked-sites-to-416/">exceed</a>&nbsp;400 sites.&nbsp;</p><p>Prisons in Egypt now host an estimated <a href="https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/20160906-egypt-built-13-new-prisons-to-house-60000-political-prisoners/">60,000</a> political prisoners. It appears the regime plans to maintain or increase this number, as&nbsp;<a href="https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/20160906-egypt-built-13-new-prisons-to-house-60000-political-prisoners/">thirteen new prisons</a> are currently being constructed to host&nbsp;what the NY Times dubbed “<a href="https://www.nytimes.com/2017/03/14/magazine/how-egypts-activists-became-generation-jail.html?mcubz=3">Generation Jail</a>”. </p><p>It is not only the number of the political prisoners that is worth attention, but also the harsh conditions in which they are kept. The most notable example is the notorious “Scorpion Prison”, where a number of harrowing abuses have been recorded by <a href="https://www.hrw.org/report/2016/09/28/we-are-tombs/abuses-egypts-scorpion-prison">HRW</a>. Moreover, the phenomena of enforced disappearances, accompanied by torture and sham trials, seem to be picking up pace rather than receding, with <a href="http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2016/07/13/unprecedented-rise-in-egypt-forced-disappearances-amid-fears-of/">hundreds</a> of documented cases. &nbsp;</p> <p>There are reasons for the regime to have chosen such horrendous practices in such a wide spread fashion, obvious ones are the use of fear and intimidation as tools for political control. However, there are deeper motives in place that can be ascertained by profiling those targeted. </p> <p>In many cases the victims appear to be <a href="https://www.madamasr.com/en/2016/10/19/feature/politics/disappeared-detained-and-tortured-for-no-reason-islam-khalil-recounts-his-story/">regular citizens</a> with no obvious political affiliations, not posing a threat to the regime. The question that arises is why the regime follows such a costly, deliberate policy, exposing itself to international as well as domestic criticism.</p><p class="mag-quote-right">an increase in the use of torture and state violence as the crisis of the regime deepens</p> <p>In order to gain deeper insight, a more holistic investigation into the use of state violence, rather than the infliction of physical pain on the body of the victim, is needed. </p><p>The torturer plays a crucial role; his actions have an extreme effect on victims as well as society at large. These acts are a manifestation of the power of the state; pain is inflicted on whoever it chooses and in the manner it chooses. There are no legal or moral protections for the citizen from the powerful elites and security apparatus.</p> <p>Under these conditions, it is only normal for a sense of helplessness as well as social alienation to develop amongst all levels of society. This sense of alienation is crucial for the stability the regime so strongly craves as it creates apathy amongst its citizenry.</p> <p>This need to display power, in this case on the body of its victims, has increased as the social base of the ruling elites decomposes. Thus, one can predict an increase in the use of torture and state violence as the crisis of the regime deepens. </p> <p>The use of torture and political violence is not only to instill fear, stamp out dissent or to solicit information, it is a tool for social control and the creation of the necessary conditions for the propagation of dictatorship and autocracy. </p> <p>In the words of George Orwell from his great novel “1984”: </p> <blockquote><p>“Power is in tearing human minds to pieces and putting them together again in new shapes of your own choosing.” </p></blockquote> <p>The creation of these social conditions is crucial for the survival of the dictatorship, and state violence and torture are the tools used.</p> <p>These social conditions are not limited to the victims of violence, but also to those that inflict it, and in the wider societal sense, those who support it, creating two irreconcilable halves of “us” and “them”.</p> <p>This trend manifested itself before the<a href="https://www.hrw.org/news/2014/08/12/egypt-raba-killings-likely-crimes-against-humanity"> massacre</a> of Muslim Brotherhood supporters in Rabaa and El-Nahda squares, after the coup of 2013, when Sisi <a href="https://www.ft.com/content/41af5f60-f435-11e2-a62e-00144feabdc0">called</a> for mass protests to show popular support for his war on “terrorism.” </p> <p>This did not only polarize the political system, but also created a sense of alienation between the supporters of the military, anchored in the urban middle class, and a large mass of the population that has clear Islamist sympathies or leanings. </p> <p>As the level of torture and state violence continues to rise and the supporters of the regime continue their justification or outright support for these practices, their sense of alienation will only increase as they throw their lot with a regime that some of its most ardent supporters admit, is deeply flawed. </p> <p>Violence is being used to create a sense of alienation between different social groups as the regime cements its support base, posing as their only salvation from a hostile society filled with dark forces. </p><p>This sense of alienation is the base by which the regime is able to anchor itself. Ironically, the violence that has created this sense of alienation is perceived as the only protector against social abyss. &nbsp;</p><h2>The security apparatus</h2><p>Members of the security apparatus suffered a massive humiliation in 2011 with the mass protests that erupted and resulted in a large number of <a href="http://www.reuters.com/article/us-egypt-anniversary/egyptian-protesters-defy-curfew-attack-police-stations-idUSBRE90N1E620130128">police stations</a> burnt to the ground.</p> <p>For them, the use of torture does not only act to create cohesion between the different members of the security apparatus, as they all participate in these crimes, it also acts to re-impose their primacy and social prestige among the populace at large, serving as reminder of their power and ability to flout the law. </p> <p>This creates a barrier and alienates them from the rest of society, as they form a caste based on the practice of horrendous levels of violence. Torture is used to create a new sense of reality for them, separating them from society and ensuring their loyalty to the regime.</p> <p>As such, the use of violence is an integral component of the regime’s policy, not only for achieving political stability or crushing dissent, but creating the social conditions necessary for its survival. </p> <p>Due to Egypt’s dire political as well as economic situation, pain and alienation are bound to be a feature of the lives of many for years to come.&nbsp; &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;</p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/north-africa-west-asia/maged-mandour/egypt-opposition-social-class-sisi-revolution-military">Egypt: an obsession with the state</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/north-africa-west-asia/maged-mandour/laying-foundations-for-totalitarian-state">Laying the foundations for a totalitarian state</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/north-africa-west-asia/maged-mandour/pain-and-torture-state-violence-in-egypt">Pain and torture: state violence in Egypt</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/north-africa-west-asia/maged-mandour/military-inc-class-formation-collapse-of-egyptian-economy">Egypt&#039;s Military Inc.</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-country"> <div class="field-label"> Country or region:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Egypt </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-topics"> <div class="field-label">Topics:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Conflict </div> <div class="field-item even"> Democracy and government </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> North Africa, West Asia Middle East Forum North-Africa West-Asia Egypt Conflict Democracy and government human rights abuses torture human rights Police brutality police violence Maged Mandour Violent transitions Mid-East Forum Egypt in the balance Chronicles of the Arab revolt Wed, 20 Sep 2017 10:41:07 +0000 Maged Mandour 113419 at https://www.opendemocracy.net شبح بأظافر مطلية بالأحمر https://www.opendemocracy.net/north-africa-west-asia-%D9%81%D8%B1%D8%AD-%D9%8A%D9%88%D8%B3%D9%81-MEF-%D8%B3%D9%88%D8%B1%D9%8A%D8%A7-Middle-East-Forum <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p class="western" dir="rtl">المعاناة تأكلك ولن تتقيأ فجأة شخصاً عظيماً من حطامك. إنك بائس، وهكذا هو الأمر. والآن ماذا؟&nbsp;<em><a href="https://opendemocracy.net/north-africa-west-asia/ghost-with-red-nail-polish">English</a></em></p> </div> </div> </div> <p dir="rtl"><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/549460/PA-31703707.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title="Anas Alkharbotli/Zuma Press/Press Association Images. All rights reserved."><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/549460/PA-31703707.jpg" alt="Anas Alkharbotli/Zuma Press/Press Association Images. All rights reserved." title="Anas Alkharbotli/Zuma Press/Press Association Images. All rights reserved." width="460" height="307" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>June 14, 2017 - Daily life in the Syrian town of Duma amidst the rubble and destruction. The town was the site of several demonstrations at the beginning of the Syrian uprising, and then turned into a battleground between the Syrian government and the opposition. Anas Alkharbotli/Zuma Press/Press Association Images. All rights reserved.</span></span></span>الساعة الحادية عشرة ليلاً بتوقيت العالم خارج حدود الحرب، الثانية بعد منتصف الليل بالتوقيت الشتوي للحرب، إن الوقت هنا لا يخضع للاعتبارات الطبيعية، أو في الحقيقة إنه يخضع للاعتبارات الطبيعية ولا شيء غيرها.</p><p dir="rtl">تنام الشمس في النهار الشتوي في الساعة الرابعة، ولا منبع آخر للنور وفي هذه البقعة من العالم في القرن الحادي والعشرين. نجلس جميعاً في غرفة واحدة ونغلق بابها رغم أنّ ثلاثة من أربعة جالسين في الغرفة يعانون رهاب الأماكن المغلقة.</p><p dir="rtl">من المضحك أن تعتقد أن الحرب سترأف برهابك هذا، حصتك من بقايا أجدادك وحضارتهم السائلة لا تكفي لتدفئة الأماكن المفتوحة، وعليه نجلس جميعاً في هذه الغرفة، هذه الحصة من الدفء باردة جداً، إنها مغمسة بالإحساس بالذنب العميق، دافئ أنت بينما يموت أطفال بلادك من البرد، يا لنا من كائنات شريرة معدومة الضمير.</p><p dir="rtl">ولن أتكلم عن انعدام ضميرنا بإمكانك أن تجد هذه الحقيقة في كلّ مكان وفي كلّ النصوص، الأولى أن أقول لديّ كراهية عميقة لأضواء النيون البيضاء، ولم أكن أعرف أن هناك أسوأ منها قبل أن أجرب السهرات الطويلة على ضوء الليد، تمتد حبال الليد في الغرفة وتنزّ كآبة وبؤساً، كل واحد منا يمسك كتاباً بصيغة ما، ومن يملك مخزوناً من الطاقة في أحد المنابع الالكترونية هو الأوفر حظاً.</p><p dir="rtl">أملك مخزوناً لكنني أفضل النسخة الورقية، ولا أدري ما الذي يربطني بالبقعة الأقرب من المدفأة، أحب أن "أتربع" بقربها واستند إلى الجدار البارد، جميلة هي ثنائية الحر والبرد، هناك صوت يصدر من المدفأة كل قليل، يعني هذا الصوت أن المازوت ليس نقياً وهذا آخر ما يهم الآن، في الساعة الثانية بعد القصف لا تعنيك هذه الصرخة المكبوتة.</p><p dir="rtl">لا رائحة للبارود في الغرفة، يمكنك أن تشم قشور البرتقال وهي تحترق على وجه المدفأة، وترى باقي القشور تجلس في الطبق على الطاولة منتظرةً أن يقوم أحد الفدائيين بحملها إلى المطبخ.</p><p dir="rtl">ستسمع أختي تسأل عن رائحة "الكوي"، وتراني أبتعد قليلاً لأن رائحة الكي هي رائحة آخر بيجاما نجت من الاحتراق وهي تحترق الآن، أريد أن يبقى طبق القشور هنا، ليس كسلاً، رائحة البرتقال هي ألفة الشتاء.</p><p dir="rtl">في الشتاء هذا عليك أن تتمسك بالألفة كما كنت تتمسك بذيل ثوب أمك طفلاً، كل شيء غريب ومصمم لجعلك تشعر بالغربة عن نفسك، تعتقد أنك ولدت في عصر التقدم، الناس تغادر إلى كواكب أخرى ونحن لا نستطيع أن ننتقل إلى المطبخ دون تخطيط رحلتك، فليبق هذا الطبق ولينشر الألفة في المكان ما استطاع.</p><p dir="rtl">أبي لا يملّ أبداً من تكرار ملاحظاته عن قراءة الكتب الورقية في الإضاءة الخافتة، كنت أفهم هذا التشدد حين كنت في السادسة أما الآن فالأمر يبدو عبثياً، قد تتدحرج رأسي أمامنا في أية لحظة بفعل ما يحدث في الخارج، من أين له هذا الإيمان أني لن أموت قبل أن تهترئ عيناي؟ ظني أن الأمر حكم عادة، فلو فعلت المحظور ونظرت حولك لفهمت قصدي. ما زال هناك نوافذ زجاجية لم تنكسر بعد في الغرفة، هناك شاشة التلفاز والمزهريات والمكتبة والمدفأة، وهناك لوحة فوق رأسي حيث أجلس في مرمى غطاء النافذة الخشبي الثقيل.</p><p dir="rtl">إن كلّ هذه أسلحة فتاكة حين تستحيل في لحظة إلى شظايا، لا يريد أبي أن يقتنع إلا بحقيقة واحدة، إنّ ابنته الصغيرة ستشيخ ولن ترتدي النظارة قبل الخمسين، كلّ هذا الموت الواقف على الباب وحقيقة أنني ارتديت النظارة منذ العام الثاني للحرب لا تعنيه في شيء، ابنته تخرّب عينيها بالقراءة الخافتة وهذا أمر مرفوض.</p><p dir="rtl">"اجلسي على الكنبة سيؤلمك ظهرك هكذا"، جميلة أمي، لديها قلب ما يزال قادراً على الاهتمام بألم في ظهري، تخاف أمي أن ينحني ظهري، دائماً ما أوصتني أن أفرده مادياً ومعنوياً، إن هاتفها في يدها والنظارة الحمراء على عينيها، جميلة أمي، لكن يسري على تعليقاتها ما يسري على ملاحظات أبي.</p><p dir="rtl">انكسر ظهري في العام الثاني للثورة، يوم جاءتني الفجيعة وأنا بعيدة وأعادتني إلى بلادي بشرخ لا يلتئم في الروح، يقولون أن جروح الصغار تلتئم بسرعة، لماذا إذاً لا يكف هذا الجرح عن النزّ كمزاريب الشتاء الصدئة؟ لن تداويني الكنبة يا أمي، لن تداويني.</p><p dir="rtl">الساعة الحادية عشرة وجميعاً بدأنا نغفو في أماكننا. لن نصمد في هذه الغرفة أكثر، علينا أن ننتقل للقسم الآخر من المنزل، الأكثر صقيعاً، بعد أن نغسل وجوهنا بالثلج السائل النازل من الصنابير البخيلة وبعد أن نيأس من أن يهدأ القصف وننام ليلة بهدوء.</p><p dir="rtl">كيف كانت تبدو طقوس الخلود إلى النوم قبلاً؟ كيف تبدو خارج حدود الحرب؟ هل ينام الناس دون تأجيل غسل الوجه والأطراف للحد الذي لا يحتمل بعده التأجيل؟ هل تحدّد بطارية شاحنة موعد نومهم؟ هل يكرهون الأسرّة الباردة لأن النوم بكنزة سميكة تعذيب وليس راحة؟ أظن أن لا بخار يخرج من أفواههم حين يتبادلون تحيات المساء. هل لديهم طقوس أم أن النوم أسهل عندهم من أن يكون له طقوس؟ لا أدري لكنني أعلم أنها إن وجدت فهي مختلفة عن طقوسنا.</p><p dir="rtl">أتعرف هناك معادلة مهمة في ليالي الحرب، عليك أن تجلب النوم قبل أن يشتدّ القصف، قد لا تستيقظ حين يشتدّ وقد تستيقظ، لكنك لن تنام أبداً حين يشتدّ، وبما أنني لا أنفق مخزوني الإلكتروني في "السهرة" فإنني أتجاهل هذه المعادلة، وأندم.</p><p dir="rtl">الشباك فوق سريري ينثر الغبار والنحاتة الدقيقة، إذاً عليّ أن أنظف مجدداً في الصباح. هل تتخيل أن عليك تنظيف طبقة سميكة من الاسمنت المفتّت عن كتبك وملابسك كل صباح؟ إنها مهمة سيزيفية لعينة وحقيرة، أتذكر سيزيف في كل تفاصيل أيامي، هل كان سيزيف خبيثاً لدرجة هذا العقاب؟ لقد فضح بذاءة الإله العاهر، وبذاءة الإله ليست مهمة، المهم ألا يتجرأ أحد على فضحها، وهذه العقوبة - على لزوجتها- تشغل بالك عن احتمالات سقوط الشباك بالحائط الذي يحتويه فوقك.</p><p dir="rtl">هل تدرك أنّ الحائط ينهار تدريجياً في هذه اللحظة؟ إنك تدرك بالطبع لكنك لا تفكر إلا بالصباح الذي سيحمل واجبات التنظيف من الغبار، من الغبار فقط، وهذه رفاهية في زمن برك الدم الصباحية.</p><p dir="rtl">إن القصف يشتدّ والشباك الآن يهتز بعنف، والآن ينفتح، القصة "جد" إذاً. إن شعري مشدود إلى الخلف بحلقة مطاطية، وجهي خالٍ إلا من بقايا كحل مضاد للماء، و أرتدي بيجاما "فوشيا" وأنا لا أحب هذا اللون.</p><p dir="rtl">أقوم على عجل، أشعل شمعة رفيعة غريبة الأطوار، يحترق فتيلها قبل أن تحترق، ثمّ أن لا بقايا لها، تتبخر نهائياً وتترك خلفها طبقاً نظيفاً إلا من بقعة سوداء صغيرة، ما هذه الشموع الغريبة؟ حسناً إنها تفي بالغرض وتمنحك قدر ما دفعته ثمناً لها.</p><p dir="rtl">ضجيج الخارج أقل رعباً من هدوء الداخل، لكن هذا ليس مهماً الآن، أفكّ الحلقة المطاطية وأفرد خصلاتي، من الصعب تعديل شعري بعد يوم كامل من الأسر، إنه عنيد، مثلي، أصففه وأحتال عليه بالزيوت والبخاخات والملاقط الصغيرة، ولا يبدو سيئاً الآن، قياساً بالإمكانات، أرسم عيني وأحدّد خطاً غائراً في خدي وأطيل رموشي بالمساحيق، أبدو أجمل الآن، وأخيراً تأتي الخطوة الأهم، البرفان، لا شيء أسوأ من امرأة دون هوية "برفانية"، وأسخى كثيراً به.</p><p dir="rtl">أرتدي كنزة كحلية وأعود إلى سريري بعد أن أتأكد من أن طلاء أظافر قدمي جفّ تماماً، هذا الطقس كفيل بتجفيفه سريعاً، جفّ الدم في عروقي ألن يجفّ هو؟ سيجفّ.</p><p dir="rtl">إن هذا ليس "هبلاً" عادياً لأنه لم ينته بجولة طويلة من البكاء. عدت إلى سريري وقرأت فصلاً إضافياً، فكرت بالأسئلة الوجودية، لا ترتبط هذه الأسئلة بالوجود عموماً إنما بوجودي في هذه اللحظة تحت هذا الشباك البليد في هذه البقعة من العالم حيث لا ينام المتحاربون ولا يتجمدون، لعنت الغبار ورائحة البارود ثم نمت.</p><p dir="rtl">ما يرعبني في الحقيقة هو أن أموت في هذه الساعة، ليس الموت بحد ذاته هو ما يرعبني بل على العكس تماماً، ما يرعبني هو ألا أتلاشى بعد الموت، أن أخلد ببيجاما "فوشيا" وبقايا كحل ضد الماء، يرعبني أن أخلد بخصلات مشدودة إلى الخلف بحلقة مطاطية، ترعبني فكرة الصداع الأبدي، ولا يمكن أن أخلد بشبح دون برفان وطلاء أظافر مثالي، على القدمين أقلها حيث أن أظافر يدي حكاية أخرى تماماً.</p><p dir="rtl">يكفيني أن شبحي سيجوب ممرات هذا المنزل الذي أكرهه، أقلها يكتشفني أحد الأطفال بكنزة كحلية وخصلات مرتبة منسدلة، قياساً بالإمكانات، وسيشم هويتي البرفانية بوضوح حيث لا تشتته بقايا كحل مضاد للماء ولا كنزة فوشيا قبيحة، سأمنحه الكثير من قبلات الفراشة برموشي الطويلة، سيحبني هذا الطفل، ولن أحكي له عن الحرب، سأقص عليه أول فصول "زمن الخيول البيضاء" وسيحبه، سيحبني هذا الطفل.</p><p dir="rtl">صباحاً سأستيقظ، لم نمُت إذاً. يا إلهي ما هذه القدرة العجيبة على الغناء لدى هذه العصافير الغبية؟ علمونا في المدرسة أن الطيور تهاجر شتاءً، هاجروا يا أخي، هو "حد يطول" في هذه البلاد أن يهاجر دون فيزا أو بلم؟ هاجروا ودعوني أنام ساعة واحدة إضافية. لن يهاجروا، يغردون دون ملل كأن ما حدث في الليلة الماضية هو عزف هادئ لشتاء الفصول الأربعة، وكأن بقايا الاشتباك في الخارج لا تعنيهم، أنا أكره العصافير.</p><p dir="rtl">أغسل وجهي بالماء المتجمد ذاته، يقولون إنه يقبض المسامات الواسعة، لقد قبض قلبي وليس فقط مسام وجهي. أجمع الغبار وقطع الإسمنت الصغيرة، حجم القطع يدل على قوة الاشتباك، كان متوسّطاً. أنزع الغطاء عن الوسادة إنه يبدو كلوحة سريالية مثيرة للشفقة، النوم بوجه مطلي بالكامل ليس خياراً حكيماً، لا يتوقف الأثر عند الغطاء الوسادة أيضاً تبقعت بالكحل والمساحيق، اغسلها لن ارميها لا أستطيع النوم على سواها، إنها رقيقة ورؤوفة بأرقي ورقبتي، لا يهم لونها الآن. </p><p dir="rtl">"بحبك ويسعد الله هالضحكة بتحرر أسرى بتحمس ثوار"</p><p dir="rtl">هاتفي يغازلني صباحاً مشتتاً ذهني عن هذه العصافير المستفزة المليئة بالحياة، أكره حقاً العصافير.</p><p dir="rtl">هنا تواسي نفسك بجحيم دوستويفسكي والسنين الأربعة التي قضاها في الشغل الشاق. ولا تخدع نفسك، إنك لست دوستويفسكي وهذه المعاناة تأكلك ولن تتقيأ فجأة شخصاً عظيماً من حطامك. إنك بائس، وهكذا هو الأمر. والآن ماذا؟</p><p dir="rtl">الآن يبدأ نهار آخر من نهارات الحرب، ليس نهاراً جديداً، لا جديد في الحرب، وإن غيّر الوجع أشكاله.</p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/north-africa-west-asia-syria-lebanon-hunger-strike-human-rights-%D8%A7%D9%84%D8%A5%D8%B6%D8%B1%D8%A7%D8%A8-%D8%A7%D9%84%D8%B7%D8%B9%D8%A7%D9%85-%D9%84%D8%A8%D9%86%D8%A7%D9%86-%D8%B3%D9%88%D8%B1%D9%8A%D8%A7">الإضراب عن الطعام يستمر حتى تحقيق المطالب</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/north-africa-west-asia-MEF-%D8%A7%D9%84%D8%B5%D8%AD%D8%A7%D9%81%D8%A9-%D8%A7%D9%84%D8%B3%D9%88%D8%B1%D9%8A%D9%91%D8%A9-%D8%A5%D8%B9%D9%84%D8%A7%D9%85-%D8%B3%D9%88%D8%B1%D9%8A%D8%A7">صراع البقاء ورهانات التغيير.. الصحافة السوريّة إلى أين؟</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-country"> <div class="field-label"> Country or region:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Syria </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-topics"> <div class="field-label">Topics:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Conflict </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> North Africa, West Asia Middle East Forum North-Africa West-Asia Syria Conflict فرح يوسف Violent transitions Mid-East Forum Arabic language Wed, 13 Sep 2017 10:59:35 +0000 فرح يوسف 113291 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Hay’at Tahrir al Sham’s gamble: the failure of blood https://www.opendemocracy.net/north-africa-west-asia/gregory-waters/hayattahriralsham-syria-idlib-turkey-AhraralSham-FSA <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>As HTS grows at the expense of others, opposition representatives will continue to lose negotiating power in the Astana and Geneva talks, leaving Assad and Russia only one option with which to end the war.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/549460/PA-31098964.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title="AMMAR ABDULLAH/Reuters/PA Images. All rights reserved."><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/549460/PA-31098964.jpg" alt="AMMAR ABDULLAH/Reuters/PA Images. All rights reserved." title="AMMAR ABDULLAH/Reuters/PA Images. All rights reserved." width="460" height="307" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Smoke rises from an emergency service point after an airstrike at the rebel-held village of Maar Zita in Idlib province, Syria April 27, 2017. AMMAR ABDULLAH/Reuters/PA Images. All rights reserved.</span></span></span>On July 19, 2017, the rebel factions Ahrar al Sham (Ahrar) and Hayat Tahrir al Sham (HTS) engaged in some of the fiercest <a href="http://www.al-monitor.com/pulse/afp/2017/07/syria-conflict-opposition-idlib.html">infighting</a> that Greater Idlib has experienced during the Syrian Civil War.&nbsp;</p><p>This old conflict has been brewing just beneath the surface since before the&nbsp;<a href="http://imgur.com/a/uwIsi" target="_blank">formation</a>&nbsp;of HTS, which came as a response to rebel failures and the decrease in international support for moderate rebel groups in 2016. Following it's formation, HTS pursued a two-pronged&nbsp;<a href="http://imgur.com/a/BbQC5" target="_blank">approach</a>&nbsp;towards achieving its dream of a grand merger: cooperating with Free Syrian Army groups in joint offensives and using violence and the threat of violence to pressure smaller groups into joining the fold.</p> <p>The failure of this strategy was clear following the lost <a href="https://www.alaraby.co.uk/english/news/2017/4/23/syrian-regime-forces-hama-offensive-moves-towards-khan-sheikhoun">Hama</a>, <a href="http://www.upi.com/Top_News/Voices/2017/03/27/Al-Qaida-on-the-rise-again-hits-Assad-where-it-hurts/3251490626638/">Damascus</a>, and <a href="http://www.aljazeera.com/news/2017/06/fighting-intensifies-syrian-golan-heights-170626033648183.html">Quneitra</a> offensives, along with <a href="https://www.enabbaladi.net/archives/160002">rejection</a> of HTS by the Free Syrian Army (FSA) groups in southern Syria.</p> <p>As HTS realized that their military actions were not successful in attracting additional factions, the group began taking an increasingly violent stance towards non-aligned rebel groups in Idlib.</p> <p>On May 12, amid fears of a Turkish-backed united FSA front, HTS <a href="https://www.enabbaladi.net/archives/149301">ordered</a> Friday’s sermons in Idlib to denounce Turkey and the FSA groups that fight in Turkey’s Euphrates Shield operation. Five days later, Ahmed bin Ghalib, a Saudi HTS commander, <a href="https://twitter.com/Charles_Lister/status/864946673079996417">“vowed to eradicate Ahrar al Sham.”</a>&nbsp;</p> <p>On May 31, in a sign of internal dissent, former Nour al-Din al-Zenki commander and current HTS leader Hossam al-Atrash <a href="https://twitter.com/Charles_Lister/status/869965832918532096">stated</a> that all groups should dissolve and unite under the Interim Government’s Defense Ministry.&nbsp;</p> <p>Eight days later HTS made its first major attack since January when it <a href="https://twitter.com/Charles_Lister/status/872887156683018240">attacked</a> FSA and Faylaq al Sham units in the town of Maraat al-Numan, killing FSA Colonel Tasyeer al-Samahi.</p> <p>Violence in Idlib continued on June 13 when HTS <a href="https://twitter.com/Charles_Lister/status/875079990043435009">kidnapped</a> two FSA commanders – Nidal Haj Ali and Ahmed al-Mousa. HTS Political Chief Zayd al-Attar <a href="https://twitter.com/Charles_Lister/status/874962458825412612">announced</a> his resignation the following day, and on June 20 at least five former Ahrar al-Sham units <a href="https://twitter.com/Charles_Lister/status/877252782113382400">defected</a> back to Ahrar in further indications of internal division over HTS’s aggressive actions.</p> <p>Finally, on July 8 al-Modon <a href="http://www.almodon.com/arabworld/2017/7/8/%D9%84%D9%85%D8%A7%D8%B0%D8%A7-%D8%A7%D8%B3%D8%AA%D9%81%D8%B1-%D8%A7%D9%84%D8%AD%D8%B2%D8%A8-%D8%A7%D9%84%D8%AA%D8%B1%D9%83%D8%B3%D8%AA%D8%A7%D9%86%D9%8A-%D9%82%D9%88%D8%A7%D8%AA%D9%87-%D9%81%D9%8A-%D8%B3%D9%88%D8%B1%D9%8A%D8%A7">reported</a> that the Turkistani Islamic Party and clerics Abdullah Muhaisini and Abu Mariyah Qahtani were mediating between HTS and Ahrar as tensions rose along the Bab al-Hawa border crossing.</p> <p>However, attempts at mediation repeatedly failed as the increasing tensions exploded on July 19. HTS General Leader Abu Jaber justified these attacks in an audio message that day, claiming that Ahrar <a href="https://twitter.com/IbnNabih1/status/887628996061663232">“refused to merge with us and sold out to foreign interests”</a> – a reference to Ahrar’s close ties with Turkey and its <a href="http://web.stanford.edu/group/mappingmilitants/cgi-bin/groups/view/523">participation</a> in Euphrates Shield.&nbsp;</p> <p>Ahrar appeared to hold the upper hand following the first day of fighting, capturing several towns from HTS. However, on July 20 HTS <a href="https://twitter.com/AbuSulaymanMM3/status/888002606999719937">reiterated</a> its position that it would only accept a full merger and launched a new wave of attacks, making quick work of Ahrar strongholds and <a href="http://syriadirect.org/news/hardline-islamist-coalition-control-of-idlib-province-prompts-border-closure-halts-humanitarian-aid/">seizing</a> all of the Idlib/Turkey border crossings by July 23.</p> <p><a href="https://medium.com/@_alhamra/blow-by-blow-breakdown-ahrar-al-sham-and-hayat-tahrir-al-sham-clashes-in-free-idlib-8b7f246f2ff">At</a> <a href="https://maps.southfront.org/19-armed-groups-defected-from-ahrar-al-sham-during-tensions-with-hayat-tahrir-al-sham/">least</a> nineteen armed groups have joined HTS since July 19 – <a href="https://maps.southfront.org/19-armed-groups-defected-from-ahrar-al-sham-during-tensions-with-hayat-tahrir-al-sham/">reportedly</a> including 7,000 fighters from Ahrar’s Badia Division – with many local forces defecting after HTS captured their towns.</p> <p>Despite the apparent military success of HTS, the most recent round of infighting has called into question the strength of HTS’s “coalition” label.</p> <p>On July 20, after only one day of fighting, Nour al Din al Zenki <a href="https://twitter.com/badly_xeroxed/status/888001864637325313">broke</a> from HTS, <a href="https://twitter.com/AbuSulaymanMM3/status/888002072003715072">claiming</a> that the new attacks were launched by Jolani and Abu Jaber without the approval of the Shura Council and that Zenki had only joined HTS with the promise that infighting would cease.&nbsp;</p> <p>Even the HTS-aligned cleric Abdullah Muhaisini <a href="https://twitter.com/IbnNabih1/status/887746962661007361">declared</a> that the new infighting was haram and confirmed that the Sharia Council gave no approval for it. Zenki’s and Muhaisini’s statements imply that Abu Jaber and the former leaders of Jabhat al Nusra still act with impunity within the organization, despite the fact that former Zenki leaders held the high positions of <a href="https://twitter.com/Charles_Lister/status/878368906221674496">Deputy Political Chief</a> and <a href="http://en.eldorar.com/node/4121">President of the Consultative Council</a>.</p> <p>On July 20 another HTS group, Quwa al Markaziya, <a href="https://twitter.com/badly_xeroxed/status/887997551680659458">defected</a> to Ahrar and an unnamed Uzebek group <a href="https://mobile.twitter.com/morasul_ahrar/status/888030346180251651">announced</a> that, while remaining a part of HTS, it would not fight Ahrar. This, as well as Zenki’s defection, demonstrates that while HTS appears to have won the Idlib war, it has done so only through force and an <a href="https://twitter.com/ThomasPierret/status/888850316887805952">unwillingness</a> of many Ahrar fighters to fight HTS.&nbsp;</p> <p>Fighters and <a href="https://twitter.com/Elizrael/status/888132100347527168">civilians</a> throughout the region still adamantly <a href="https://twitter.com/JohnArterbury/status/887719636980178944">oppose</a> HTS’s ideology and policies, and any union with HTS will not be amicable.</p> <p>Thus, the recent infighting is a clear indication of the failure of HTS’s attempted middle-ground policy. Abu Jaber and Jolani have abandoned the carrot for full license of the stick and will never again be able to masquerade as a welcoming, uniting force in Idlib.</p> <p>HTS’s only chance now to achieve a complete merger with Ahrar and the dozens of FSA factions throughout the region is to violently force them into submission – a course which will cement their pariah status both within Syria and the international community.&nbsp;</p> <p>Yet this possible merger may have been aided by the United States when the Trump Administration <a href="https://www.reuters.com/article/us-mideast-crisis-usa-syria-idUSKBN1A42KC">announced</a> the end of the CIA’s arming program on July 19.</p> <p>If the formation of HTS was a partial response to the perceived abandonment by the international community, then the actual abandonment of moderate factions by the United States will only serve to further force moderates into HTS.</p> <p>In January, choosing to unite with HTS offered a clear decision between choosing a unified domestic opposition that will aggressively pursue war, or remaining outside in order to seek stronger ties with international backers and a more diplomatic approach to resolving the overall conflict.&nbsp;</p> <p>Unfortunately, it appears that most factions no longer hold a choice in this matter, but the effects will remain the same.</p> <p>As HTS grows at the expense of others, opposition representatives will continue to lose negotiating power in the Astana and Geneva talks, leaving Assad and Russia only one option with which to end the war.</p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/north-africa-west-asia/josepha-ivanka-wessels/white-phosphorus-over-raqqa">White phosphorus over Raqqa</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/north-africa-west-asia/whatever-happened-peace-arms-oil-war-proxy-syria-middle-east-military-industrial">Whatever happened to peace? Arms, oil and war by proxy</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/north-africa-west-asia/david-morrison/red-lines-can-we-be-sure-that-assad-was-responsible">Red lines: can we be sure that Assad was responsible?</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/north-africa-west-asia/shilpa-jindia/syria-US-war-left-revolution">To stand up for the powerless in Syria, the Left must embrace complexity</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/north-africa-west-asia/joseph-daher/towards-inclusive-and-pluralistic-citizenship-in-syria">Towards an inclusive and pluralistic citizenship in Syria</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/north-africa-west-asia/will-murray/why-strike-syria-trump">Why strike Syria, Trump?</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/north-africa-west-asia/gregory-waters/allure-of-war-motivations-of-jordanian-foreign-fighters-in-syria">The allure of war: the motivations of Jordanian foreign fighters in Syria</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/north-africa-west-asia/gregory-waters/divide-and-conquer-offering-jabhat-al-nusra-access-to-syrian-peace-tal">Divide and conquer: offer Jabhat al-Nusra access to the Syrian peace talks</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-country"> <div class="field-label"> Country or region:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Syria </div> <div class="field-item even"> Turkey </div> <div class="field-item odd"> United States </div> <div class="field-item even"> Russia </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-topics"> <div class="field-label">Topics:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Conflict </div> <div class="field-item even"> International politics </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> North Africa, West Asia North-Africa West-Asia Russia United States Turkey Syria Conflict International politics Gregory Waters Violent transitions Arab Awakening: violent transitions Wed, 26 Jul 2017 16:38:38 +0000 Gregory Waters 112523 at https://www.opendemocracy.net IS’ strategic management of death https://www.opendemocracy.net/north-africa-west-asia/azzam-al-kassir-sinan-al-hawat/is-isis-media-strategic-management-of-death <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>The concepts of life and death are utilized strategically to contribute to the military effort of IS. Examples from video releases and religious songs shed light on how these concepts are portrayed in IS propaganda.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/549460/PA-31629860.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title="NurPhoto/SIPA USA/PA Images. All rights reserved."><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/549460/PA-31629860.jpg" alt="lead NurPhoto/SIPA USA/PA Images. All rights reserved." title="NurPhoto/SIPA USA/PA Images. All rights reserved." width="460" height="307" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Abandoned house vandalized with "I LOVE ISIS" is seen in a door of a house inside of a NO GO ZONE in Marawi, southern Philippines on June 9, 2017. NurPhoto/SIPA USA/PA Images. All rights reserved.</span></span></span>One major source of the resilience and rapid territorial expansion of so called Islamic State (IS) lies in the group’s ability to invest in death through managing it strategically to achieve significant military gains.</p><p>It is astonishing to realise that over the course of 2016, IS launched nearly a&nbsp;<a href="https://icct.nl/wp-content/uploads/2017/02/ICCT-Winter-War-by-Suicide-Feb2017.pdf">1000 suicide attacks</a>&nbsp;in Syria and Iraq. Although resorting to suicide operations is not new to radical Islamist organisations, IS’ deployment of such a staggering number of suicide attackers is an unprecedented phenomenon in the history of modern Islamist activism. </p><p>How is this possible? What is new in IS’ rhetoric and mobilisation strategies?</p><p>To answer this key question, it is vital to contextualise the practices of IS, historically and doctrinally, focusing on certain themes such as martyrdom, jihad, life, death, and afterlife. To that end, we studied the ideological and doctrinal underpinnings of the group by reference to the relevant Qur'anic verses and Prophetic sayings in addition to the way they were interpreted and appropriated. We reviewed around 60 videos released by the group since October 2016 as well as many&nbsp;<em>anāshīd&nbsp;</em>(religious songs) produced and used in these releases. This is meant to make it easier to understand IS propaganda and the apparent appeal of the group’s media messages.</p><p>The main argument revolves around the idea that, with IS, the entire Islamic rhetoric on life and death has been appropriated to advance the political project of the Islamic Caliphate. IS propaganda suggests a worldly solution to the intrinsic ills of this life, i.e. living under the Islamic Caliphate.</p><h2>Ideology matters</h2><p>Ideals and dogmatic convictions are central to the processes of radicalisation. Radical Islamist groups, such as IS and al-Qaeda, capitalise on certain psychosocial vulnerabilities to mobilise people and to effect their strategic plans. These groups realise that there are two prerequisites for becoming actively receptive to the jihadi messages.</p><p class="mag-quote-right">psychosocial gaps are essential preconditions for an individual to become engrossed in a process of radicalisation</p><p>The first condition is the lack of any sense of belonging to this world which results from a state of cultural, social or economic alienation. The second condition is a psychological one and is characterised by a state of disorientation concerning the meaning and purpose of life. These psychosocial gaps are essential preconditions for an individual to become engrossed in a process of radicalisation, leading eventually to him/her justifying or even committing horrendous acts of violence.</p><p>Nevertheless, despair, anger, alienation, and poverty remain insufficient to trigger acts of mass violence. They necessarily need ideological channelling before transforming into an all-out destructive force. Unlike low-risk activism, such as protesting or social media campaigning, suicide attacks require full commitment to a cause or a dogmatic conviction. </p><p>In the case of radical Islamism,&nbsp;<a href="https://www.theguardian.com/news/2017/apr/13/who-are-the-new-jihadis">Olivier Roy</a>&nbsp;states that “young radicals are sincere believers: they truly believe that they will go to heaven, and their frame of reference is deeply Islamic.” As such, ideas matter, and the discourse of Salafi-Jihadism is not insignificant; rather, it is at the heart of the process of radicalisation. </p><p>In this equation of radicalisation, the role of radical preachers is to offer a simple blueprint for life within which approaching death is presented as an empowering and emancipatory act.</p><h2>Unpacking the theological framing of life and death</h2><p>Media messages that are produced and disseminated by radical Islamists have for a long time exploited the Islamically, ‘widely-accepted’ framing of life, death, and salvation. The vast majority of Islamic sources tends to portray the worldly life as a temporary, insignificant phase wherein believers are faced with pains and hardships. Also, ‘true Muslims’ are encouraged to abandon the pleasures of this life and focus, instead, on fulfilling their religious duties which will lead them to an eternal life in Paradise. </p><p>Thus, pain and sadness are normalised and presented as inescapable if one is a devoted Muslim whose aim is God’s satisfaction and the everlasting pleasures of the Hereafter. To emphasise the latter idea, preachers refer to the Hadith: ‘<em>This world is the believer’s prison and the infidel’s Jannah (Heaven)</em>’<a name="_ftnref1"></a><a href="#_ftn1">[1]</a>.</p><p>A quick tour through the Islamic literature reveals that the negative portrayal of life is the mainstream one. Muslim preachers, radicals and pacifists alike, share the notion of perceiving this worldly life with suspicion. For example, the gloomy depiction of life is summarised in a&nbsp;<a href="http://www.nabulsi.com/en/art.php?art=12155">Friday sermon</a>&nbsp;delivered in 2010 by Sheikh Mohammed Rateb al-Nabulsi, a well-known Damascene preacher usually considered 'moderate'. Nabulsi provides theological justifications for regarding the worldly life as temporary and the abode of deception, amusement, and aberrance in contrast to the Hereafter which is deemed real and everlasting.</p><p class="mag-quote-left">traditions have been manipulated by modern Islamist groups and appropriated to serve their political ambitions</p><p>Similarly, the radical preacher Mohammed Shamsuddin was featured in a Channel 4 documentary saying: ‘<em>The real life is the life of the akhira (the hereafter), not this life. This is not the real life, my dear brothers. This is a passing time for us so this is a type of jihad for you</em>’<a name="_ftnref2"></a><a href="#_ftn2">[2]</a>. It is <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/global/video/2017/jun/05/terror-suspect-featured-in-channel-4-documentary-video">noteworthy</a> that amongst those who attended Shamsuddin’s sermon is one of the three perpetrators of the recent London Bridge terrorist attack.</p><p>Following the same line of religious thought, the pleasures of Paradise are granted only to those who perform their religious duties and follow God’s commands in this life. Also, those who seek the Hereafter are encouraged not to get attached to wealth or family, following the example of the Prophet who said: ‘<em>Be in this world as though you were a stranger or a wayfarer</em>’<a name="_ftnref3"></a><a href="#_ftn3">[3]</a>. </p><p>Such traditions have been manipulated by modern Islamist groups and appropriated to serve their political ambitions. Members of these groups are indoctrinated to abandon the pleasures of this life and encouraged to sacrifice their life to deserve the afterlife generous rewards. In this respect, radical Islamists instrumentalise the concepts of&nbsp;<em>jihad&nbsp;</em>and&nbsp;<em>martyrdom&nbsp;</em>to bestow authenticity on their violent and ‘irrational’ methods of activism.</p><p>In the Qur'an and Hadith, the act of intentionally seeking death is praised on condition that it was performed ‘for the sake of God’. While suicide is clearly condemned in the Qur'an as evident in ‘<em>do not kill yourselves. Indeed, Allah is to you ever Merciful</em>’ (4:29), seeking death in the way of God is repeatedly presented as the best of deeds. However, the ambiguity of the meaning of ‘<em>the cause of Allah</em>’ makes it prone to manipulation. </p><p>During prophet Muhammad’s lifetime, those who fought under his command were fighting in the cause of God. Subsequently, with Muslim infighting becoming recurrent, ‘the cause of Allah’ transformed into a rubric under which various Muslim factions operated. This continued in modern times and the ‘cause of Allah’ has been appropriated even by the secular pan-Arabist regimes for their propaganda. Soldiers and citizens who died defending the lands of Arab countries were portrayed as the ones who are referred to in the widely known verse ‘<em>And never think of those who have been killed in the cause of Allah as dead. Rather, they are alive with their Lord, receiving provision</em>’ (3:169). </p><p>With the rise of al-Qaeda and IS, the cry ‘in the way of Allah’ has accompanied the execution of atrocious acts of violence as reportedly in the&nbsp;<a href="http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/london-terror-attack-london-bridge-borough-market-allah-eyewitness-a7771881.html">London Bridge attack</a>&nbsp;where the three perpetrators were shouting ‘this is for Allah’.</p><h3>IS’ ‘cause of Allah’</h3><p>IS provides a partially different rhetoric concerning the meaning of life. With IS, the narrative on life and death tends to suggest a worldly solution to the intrinsic ills of this life, i.e. living under the Islamic Caliphate.</p><p>Establishing and expanding the Islamic Caliphate where shariʿa is upheld has become the only purpose of life, and death has been managed in a way that serves the purpose of sustaining the Caliphate. The group’s propaganda messages encourage young Muslims to give up on the worldly pleasures and intentionally seek death to deter oppressors and enable other Muslims live with dignity and safety under the Islamic Caliphate. </p><p>The group frames suicide attacks as a formidable strategic asset that will pave a way for establishing the Islamic State and instating the rule of shariʿa. Using IS rationale, the individual interest does not matter, what matters is the welfare of the Muslim community and future generations. This entails that the irrational decision to carry out a suicide attack is framed as rational and strategic from the perspective of the wider community of believers under the Islamic Caliphate; and that is what should matter. </p><p>As such, the entire Islamic rhetoric on life and death has been appropriated by IS to advance the project of the Islamic Caliphate. IS propaganda messages provide an important insight into the terror group inner thinking with regard to life and death.&nbsp;</p><h2>IS media messages</h2><p>IS media releases play a central role in today’s jihad scene. The availability of modern communication technologies and platforms has broken the monopoly of mainstream media outlets and allowed the group to independently broadcast its messages. Social media has provided Jihadi groups with the flexibility and speed that no classical media has ever provided.</p><p>IS media messages target both residents of areas controlled by IS and those outside in the Middle East and beyond including potential recruits. Therefore, IS media messages contain both tactical and contingent topics as well as religious and doctrinal ones. This makes IS media an interesting window into which one can identify what the group’s leadership is focusing on and the main tenets of belief which they celebrate and propagate.</p><p>To understand the way life and death are portrayed by IS, this article has reviewed around 60 videos and religious songs released by the group since October 2016. There were a number of recurrent themes identified in these media messages concerning death and the way IS rationalise and exploit it. As death is always juxtaposed with life, the way IS media portrays life will be discussed first.&nbsp;</p><h3>From life to death</h3><p>Contrary to the popular wisdom, life for IS is not denounced in its entirety. Rather it is viewed as a phase worth living if spent under Islamic shariʿa. The portrayal of life in IS media is not gloomy or miserable but empowering and lively. This is often demonstrated in showing vibrant cities and happy residents enjoying their times in shopping or socialising. </p><p>The main point is that IS can establish a stable and prosperous state able to defend Muslims and address their day to day needs. Media releases tackling this issue focus on the efficient bureaucracy created by IS, provision of people’s needs, implementation of Islamic rules, etc. While these points are still featuring in media releases today, they were particularly highlighted during the expansion phase of IS.</p><p>One of the examples of this trend is a video release titled The Bricks of Construction.<a name="_ftnref4"></a><a href="#_ftn4">[4]</a>&nbsp;In that video, the stability of the city of al-Raqqa and effective management of the state through agile bureaucratic system were featured. It showed how the state was able to provide job opportunities through which people can live in dignity. The video showed a person comparing between the conditions of work when the regime was in charge and when IS has taken over. He explained that no comparison could stand. Working under IS administration, the video release purported, made him feel comfortable and respected.</p><p>Living in dignity is indeed a significant concept upon which IS media emphasizes. According to this media, only IS can provide dignified life for Muslims in the world. True Muslims living under IS are portrayed as living in dignity and glory and that they even feel superior to non-believers or ‘apostates.’ The usage of the work ‘vetted’ [<em>mafhous</em>] to describe those fighting with the coalition highlights the degrading view towards those aligning themselves along nationalistic movements and positive law – vis-a-via shariʿa law. In other words, Muslims fighting against IS are viewed as stooges, hired by regional and international actors and have no say over their own destinies; in sharp contrast with IS Mujahideen who are noble men, following only the example of the prophet.</p><p>Ironically, the significance of living with dignity in the IS’ Islamic Caliphate becomes&nbsp;<em>the gateway into one’s propensity for giving up life&nbsp;</em>when leading life under the Caliphate is threatened or deemed impossible. One of the media releases that shows this relationship between life and death is a video titled "You will be Superiors if You Are True Believers."<a name="_ftnref5"></a><a href="#_ftn5">[5]</a>&nbsp;The video shows how true Muslims [i.e. supporters of IS] look down at non-believers and ‘apostates.’ The video argues that superiority in life is connected to the piety and in a believer’s readiness to give up his life for the sake of the Islamic Caliphate. </p><p>The release featured a lot of suicide attackers praising them and highlighting their human stories. One of them was a dentist. The video talked about his successful career then his decision to join the fight as he found that fighting the enemy in the time of war and dying for the cause of Islam is more important than treating patients.</p><p class="mag-quote-right">Portraying suicide attackers as successful professionals is a recurrent theme in IS media.&nbsp;</p><p>Portraying suicide attackers as successful professionals is a recurrent theme in IS media. The pretext behind this is that those who give up their lives are not doing so because they were desperate or miserable; rather because dying is more valuable if it is for the sake of God and the survival of the Islamic Caliphate. In other words; if living under the Islamic Caliphate is threatened, the reason for life is no longer available and death will be welcome to ensure the continuity of the Islamic Caliphate.</p><p>In a release titled "The Knights of the Departments"<a name="_ftnref6"></a><a href="#_ftn6">[6]</a>, the video highlights the contribution of the professionals working in the bureaucratic structure of IS. The video shows that, after the coalition offensive on al-Mosul, these professionals have become suicide attackers to defend what they see as the land of Islam. In a sense, getting involved in suicide attacks - while glorified and cherished - is naturalised and normalised. It is portrayed as a nature reaction of true believers working in different sectors to external infidel attack to topple the Islamic Caliphate.</p><h3>Love of martyrdom</h3><p>The readiness of a Jihadi to give his life for the sake of the ‘installation of the law of God’ is one of the most recurrent themes in IS media. The saying of Khalid bin al-Walid that ‘<em>Muslims love death as much as their enemies love life</em>’ is often cited. It is indeed remarkable how IS media releases celebrate death and highlight the ease through which jihadis go to their death.</p><p>"The Seekers of Life" is one of the releases that tackles these points very elaborately.<a name="_ftnref7"></a><a href="#_ftn7">[7]</a>&nbsp;The release celebrates and praises suicide attackers who see death [martyrdom] as the true life. The release narrated several stories that all share the passion for death for the sake of Islam [i.e. IS’ Islamic Caliphate]. </p><p>One of the stories were about two jihadis each so eager to go first in a suicide mission that they had to take a draw to settle the dispute. In another story, the suicide attacker was encouraged by his father. The father explained to the camera his happiness that his son will be ‘wed’ to martyrdom, drawing analogy between the happiness of a son’s marriage and his death for the sake of Islam.&nbsp;</p><p>Other media releases also focus on the eagerness of jihadis including the elderly and disabled to die. In a release called "The Procession of Light", the stories of a number of jihadis were featured with focus on their love for death.<a name="_ftnref8"></a><a href="#_ftn8">[8]</a>&nbsp;One story talks about a jihadi whose legs were amputated and who had to travel from one city to another just to register as a suicide attacker. The release also shows an elderly man weeping as he wanted to participate in a suicidal operation. Similar stories of such eagerness for joining suicide missions are widespread in IS media. .</p><p>Overall, the main drive cited for rushing for death is seeking eternal life as the Islamic Caliphate has become threatened by ‘the enemies of Islam.’ This drive may be propped up by grievances but this is by no means prevalent. The IS approach towards life and death is&nbsp;<em>aggressive&nbsp;</em>and&nbsp;<em>proactive</em>. </p><p>As previously mentioned, living under the Islamic Caliphate is the only worldly solution to the intrinsic ills of this life, therefore any threat to it would tip the balance towards seeking death to gain everlasting life. The question of life and death portrayed by IS media is straightforward: a true Muslim would either live ‘in dignity’ under the Islamic Caliphate or die to live an ‘eternal life.’</p><p><em>Anāshīd</em>&nbsp;(religious songs) also provide insights into these concepts. There are many examples of this. In one&nbsp;<em>nashīd</em>, ‘Every Time I Look Around’, the rationalisation of martyrdom is expressed through an internal dialogue of a jihadi. It starts by the opening:</p><blockquote><p>Every time I look around, torn between feeling courageous and scared, injustice provokes me to go to death – I may live long but eventually I am destined to die – So why don’t I die in dignity while holding my sword!?<a name="_ftnref9"></a><a href="#_ftn9">[9]</a></p></blockquote><p>In another example, the&nbsp;<em>nashīd</em>, ‘My Brother Let my Friends Know’, talks about a Mujahid deciding to leave the luxury of life to fight and die. In one part it says</p><blockquote><p>The smoke of my bombs is&nbsp;<em>musk</em>&nbsp;and the smell of my missile is&nbsp;<em>umber</em>&nbsp;– if I die oh brother, follow me – For the life of humiliation cannot be long [i.e. long life in humiliation is not really a life]”<a name="_ftnref10"></a><a href="#_ftn10">[10]</a>&nbsp;<strong></strong></p></blockquote><p>Death then is welcome, glorified and praised if done in defense of the Islamic Caliphate. This gives death its&nbsp;<em>non-escapist</em>&nbsp;nature. In other words, what is truly praised and glorified is the purpose of death -&nbsp; its strategic role - not death itself. </p><p>Unintentional death caused by violence - such as the death of children in the coalition attacks and others - is seen as a source of grievance often used to rationalise extreme violence against the enemy. While this is common in all Jihadi literature, IS exploits this in an industrial scale. IS media highlights this very elaborately. </p><p>One of the most notorious release that showcases this argument is "The Retribution of Traitors."<a name="_ftnref11"></a><a href="#_ftn11">[11]</a>&nbsp;The video portrays life in areas controlled by IS to be stable and prosperous before the coalition attacks. The video focuses on the death toll caused by the attacks, showing graphic scenes of dead children being pulled out from the rubble. By highlighting these grievances the hideous execution of allegedly coalition spies was justified. The death of children also used to encourage and glorify suicide attacks in retaliation.</p><h2>Concluding remarks</h2><p>As this brief article showed, the concepts of life and death are utilized strategically to contribute to the military effort of IS. This article has briefly identified the ideological and doctrinal foundations of these concepts with reference to Qur'an and Prophetic traditions and the way they were interpreted and appropriated. The article has also shed light on how these concepts are portrayed in IS propaganda, using examples from video releases as well as religious songs.</p><p>Understanding the ideological underpinnings of life and death and the way they appear in media may help in countering-terrorism efforts. Following this discussion, a number of points need to be considered while facing IS in the short and long term.</p><p>In the short term, it is vital to limit the group’s ability to reach recruits online. It is undoubtedly true that radicalisation can happen offline; however, the availability of an uncontrolled online space remains key in motivating new recruits. As showed in the article, IS propaganda is used in a professional way to propagate specific ideas that suit the group’s military cause. Video messages are prepared in a way that appeal to potential recruits, using religious and doctrinal references in a misleading way. Stripping IS of its ability to propagate its message will be a huge blow to its outreach and this would limit its danger dramatically.</p><p>On the other hand, there is a need to be prepared for a phase of increasing security challenges related to IS. The more territories IS loses in Syria and Iraq, the more dependent on suicide attacks it may become. As the article showed, for many of its supporters, the Islamic Caliphate is portrayed doctrinally as the only reason for living. Therefore, the collapse of the Caliphate may be a trigger for supporters to give up their lives to protect it and seek eternal afterlife. This may happen at the individual level as in the case of lone-wolves. However, IS may intentionally push its members to engage in suicide attacks to use them in its propaganda and to prove its existence and resilience.</p><p>Finally, following this quick overview about the concepts of life and death and the way they are exploited by IS, and radical groups in general, it is essential to address the issue of&nbsp;<a href="https://newsyrian.net/ar/content/%D9%86%D8%AD%D9%88-%D8%A5%D8%B5%D9%84%D8%A7%D8%AD-%D8%AF%D9%8A%D9%86%D9%8A-%D8%AD%D9%82%D9%8A%D9%82%D9%8A">religious reform</a>&nbsp;with urgency. As we previously explained, religious convictions lie at the heart of processes of radicalisation and, thus, Muslim leaders should embark on a serious endeavour to restore the bright and positive view of this life and refute the notion that obtaining the eternal rewards requires abandoning the pleasures of this life. </p><p>The sources of Islamic traditions are replete with remarks and stories that harmonise religious belief with enjoying the present life, an idea that needs to be further substantiated and spread. It is also significant to highlight the idea that life is precious and worth experiencing with all its social relations, family life, wealth, and joy. In conclusion, if such endeavours were coupled with an unshakeable disapproval and theological nullifying of any acts of terrorism committed in the name of Islam, this will certainly make it much more difficult for groups like IS to capitalise on death and mobilise young Muslims to carry out suicide attacks.</p><hr size="1" /><p><a name="_ftn1"></a><a href="#_ftnref1">[1]</a>&nbsp;Book 1, Hadith No.470</p><p><a name="_ftn2"></a><a href="#_ftnref2">[2]</a>&nbsp;Channel 4 documentary, entitled&nbsp;<a href="http://www.telegraph.co.uk/tv/0/jihadis-next-door-read-original-review/">The Jihadis Next Door</a></p><p><a name="_ftn3"></a><a href="#_ftnref3">[3]</a>&nbsp;40 Hadith Nawawi, No.40</p><p><a name="_ftn4"></a><a href="#_ftnref4">[4]</a>&nbsp;[Libonat al-Bina’], published on February 5th, 2017</p><p><a name="_ftn5"></a><a href="#_ftnref5">[5]</a>&nbsp;[Wa-'antom al-Aʿlawn in Kuntom Mu'minīn], released on March 18th, 2017</p><p><a name="_ftn6"></a><a href="#_ftnref6">[6]</a>&nbsp;[Forsān al-Dawaween], on January 24th, 2017</p><p><a name="_ftn7"></a><a href="#_ftnref7">[7]</a>&nbsp;[Al-Bahithoun ʿAn al-Hayat], October 19th, 2016</p><p><a name="_ftn8"></a><a href="#_ftnref8">[8]</a>&nbsp;[Mawkib al-Noor], released on January 4th, 2017</p><p><a name="_ftn9"></a><a href="#_ftnref9">[9]</a>&nbsp;[Kollama Qallabtu Tarfi]</p><p><a name="_ftn10"></a><a href="#_ftnref10">[10]</a>&nbsp;[Akhī Abli’ Hona al-Ashab]</p><p><a name="_ftn11"></a><a href="#_ftnref11">[11]</a>&nbsp;[Jaza’ al-Kha’inīn], released on January 17th, 2017</p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/north-africa-west-asia/azzam-alkassir/understanding-calls-for-reinstating-islamic-state">Understanding calls for reinstating the Islamic State</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-topics"> <div class="field-label">Topics:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Conflict </div> <div class="field-item even"> International politics </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> North Africa, West Asia North-Africa West-Asia Conflict International politics Islamic State Sinan Al-Hawat Azzam Al-Kassir Violent transitions Wed, 12 Jul 2017 15:57:49 +0000 Azzam Al-Kassir and Sinan Al-Hawat 112193 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Mental help: the story of Gaza’s trauma unit https://www.opendemocracy.net/north-africa-west-asia/alex-delmar-morgan/gaza-trauma-unit <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Palestine has the highest rate of mental health disorders in the MENA region. Even though resources are limited, there are incredible people fighting for mental health in Gaza.&nbsp;</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/549460/Alex.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title="Alex Delmar-Morgan. All rights reserved."><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/549460/Alex.jpg" alt="Alex Delmar-Morgan. All rights reserved." title="Alex Delmar-Morgan. All rights reserved." width="460" height="460" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Alex Delmar-Morgan. All rights reserved.</span></span></span>After Heba Hmaid’s husband, Raed, was injured in the civil war in the Gaza Strip ten years ago, their marriage nearly broke down. Scarred by a serious injury to his right leg in the civil war between Hamas and Fatah in 2007, at first he grew nervous and irritable at home. Then he became violent.</p> <p>“My husband began hitting me daily after he was wounded. And he was hitting my son sometimes,” Heba, 34, said through a translator. “ I knew that [the injury] had affected his behaviour. I tried cope with him, to deal with him in a different manner, but I couldn’t manage the situation.”&nbsp;</p> <p>Before she married, Heba did a brief training stint at a place called the Palestine Trauma Centre (PTC) in Gaza after her university degree in media. Once married, her husband told her she must drop her studies, give up work and live at home. It was then that her problems started.&nbsp;</p> <p>Heba’s situation grew increasingly desperate: a violent, unpredictable husband and a traumatised son, now seven years old, who has already lived through two wars – and now had to cope with the added burden of an abusive father.&nbsp;</p> <p>At breaking point, Heba sought help eight months ago for her and her son, Mahmoud, at the PTC, Gaza’s only trauma unit - &nbsp;the same place she had trained at fresh out of university.</p> <p>Located in Gaza City, it was set up in 2007 in conjunction with the Palestine Trauma Centre UK, a British charity that provides technical and financial assistance to the unit.</p> <p>Other mental health programmes exist in Gaza. Some are run by UNWRA (The United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees) and the well-established Gaza Community Mental Health Programme (GCHMP) provides psychotherapy and rehabilitation services.</p> <p>But the PTC is the only centre of its kind in the strip, offering highly specialised psychological and counselling services to trauma victims and families.</p> <p>PTC treated 65 families, around 500 people, in 2016 for a range of psychological conditions.&nbsp;Many patients are children, who are the worst affected. Anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), bed-wetting, nightmares and fear are common. Adults can be severely depressed, sometimes threatening suicide.</p> <p>Staff are stretched and work six days a week to keep pace with the volume of patients coming through the door. They can’t possibly cater to all of the two million people who live in this narrow coastal strip through a hellish cycle of war, random airstrikes, shaky ceasefires, poverty and fear.</p> <p>“The situation is Gaza is very bad and everyday it becomes worse. We have a lack of fuel, electricity and salaries for employees – the crisis affects everyone,” said Rasha Qandeel, the director of the PTC.&nbsp;</p> <p>Gaza City and the outlying suburbs in the north of the enclave, bear the worst scars of the last three military offensives by Israel, most recently Operation Protective Edge in 2014, which the UN says killed 2100 Palestinians, compared to 73 Israelis, 66 of them soldiers.</p> <p>The war may have stopped and things have been relatively quiet over the last three years by Gaza standards, but bombed out buildings are a reminder of what life was like not so long ago.</p><p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/549460/IMG_2819.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title="Gaza Trauma Unit. The Palestinian Trauma Centre. All rights reserved."><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/549460/IMG_2819.jpg" alt="Gaza Trauma Unit. The Palestinian Trauma Centre. All rights reserved." title="Gaza Trauma Unit. The Palestinian Trauma Centre. All rights reserved." width="460" height="258" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Gaza Trauma Unit. The Palestinian Trauma Centre. All rights reserved.</span></span></span>It’s hardly surprising that Palestine has the highest rate of mental health disorders in the MENA region. According to a <a href="http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0169575">study</a> published earlier this year by Raghid Charara of the American University of Beirut, some 54 percent of Palestinian boys and 46.5 percent of girls aged 6 – 12 years are thought to have behavioural and emotional disorders.</p> <p>Frequent exposure to violence and trauma since the 2007 blockade thanks to three Israeli military campaigns in six years between 2008 and 2014 has exacerbated the mental health crisis in Gaza. A <a href="https://www.map.org.uk/">report</a> after the 2008-2009 offensive by Medical Aid for Palestinians (MAP) found that 30 percent of&nbsp;adolescents&nbsp;met the&nbsp;criteria for PTSD</p> <p>Living under siege, the feeling of physical entrapment is common. Some 95 percent of Gazans said they felt imprisoned, a survey by <a href="http://www.gcmhp.com/en/Default.aspx">GCMHP</a> said. Mass employment, triggering a feeling of powerlessness and uselessness also contributes.</p> <p>With Gaza’s well-documented shortage of resources and equipment, help for those suffering from poor mental health is in short supply. The PTC employs thirty staff; a mix of psychiatrists, psychologists, psychotherapists and counsellors. There are eighteen full-time psychiatrists all trained in Gaza, while visiting professionals come from Europe and the US to provide training to local doctors.</p> <p>There are many, obviously, who don’t get the specialist treatment they need or deserve. Many don’t know about the centre or can’t afford to travel into Gaza City from neighbouring towns.</p> <p>“We can’t reach everyone and a lot of them cannot come to the centre because they don’t have money for transportation. We try to do the best we can,” said Qandeel. &nbsp;</p> <p>So they have never turned patients away? “No, no, no”, says Qandeel firmly, “they need our help”.</p> <p>So much for turning people away, some may not come in the first place. With mass unemployment in Gaza, it is particularly difficult for men in Arab culture, traditionally powerful family figures, to come to terms with not being able to look after their wives and children, she says. Pride, and a reluctance to confront psychological issues, means many are unwilling to come forward and seek help.</p> <p>That said, the PTC aren’t short of patients. Three new&nbsp;cases, on average, arrive every week, putting staff under constant pressure.</p> <p>Running costs, including salaries, top US$ 200,000 a year. Totally reliant on foreign money, charities and humanitarian organisations such as Interpal, PTC’s largest donor, Muslim Aid and Mercy Corps all provide vital funding.</p><p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/549460/IMG_2802.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title="Gaza Trauma Unit. The Palestinian Trauma Centre. All rights reserved."><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/549460/IMG_2802.jpg" alt="Gaza Trauma Unit. The Palestinian Trauma Centre. All rights reserved." title="Gaza Trauma Unit. The Palestinian Trauma Centre. All rights reserved." width="460" height="258" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Gaza Trauma Unit. The Palestinian Trauma Centre. All rights reserved.</span></span></span>Interpal, a British Muslim charity, has funded the PTC’s Family Therapy programme since 2013. It is one of the most active UK charities in the Gaza Strip, involved in dozens of projects, from supporting staff salaries at <a href="https://fundraise.interpal.org/20170209-developing-educational-services-for-children-at-the-sanabel-school/">Sanabel School</a> for kids with disabilities, to providing much-needed medical equipment to <a href="https://www.map.org.uk/oldsite/accountability-update/al-wafa-hospital">El Wafa Hospital</a> in the south that was destroyed in the 2014 war.</p> <p>The <a href="//www.unrwa.org/newsroom/press-releases/vision-project-blind-and-visually-impaired-children-gaza-successfully">Vision Project</a>, its flagship education initiative in Gaza - in conjunction with UNWRA - completed this year, helping over two hundred blind and visually-impaired children to learn and study using digital technology and iPads.</p> <p>Few Gazans could claim they are unaffected by the trauma of living in this near constant theatre of war. When bombs aren’t going off, they suffer under the blockade; medical equipment and drugs are limited, few can leave, travel or experience a normal life.</p> <p>But with mental health, you don’t need equipment, or expensive machines. You don’t need drugs and state of the art hospitals. You need time, dedication and training –&nbsp;and in the case of the PTC, from a small group of very qualified, badly-paid professionals who spend their lives helping others.&nbsp;</p> <p>Certainly Heba and her son were one of the lucky ones.</p> <p>The counselling and psychotherapy Heba received has helped her overcome 90 percent of her problems, she said, vastly boosting her self-esteem. After eight months of treatment, she now comes monthly, not weekly, to the centre.</p> <p>Relations with her husband have improved, the violence has stopped and she even used the word “rehabilitated”. Mahmoud’s behaviour has also stabilised and he’s happier at school.</p> <p>Heba’s situation may be vastly improved, but she talks of “coping” and making do. Her voice is also tinged with sadness and despair when she reflects on causes of family’s unhappiness. Naturally, she can’t help straying into politics – and her message is stark:</p> <blockquote><p>“The political and economic situation is very difficult because of the occupation. All the people are suffering and we deserve to live. We ask the world to help us.”</p></blockquote><p><em>*Alex Delmar-Morgan was a guest of Interpal in Gaza.</em><em>&nbsp;</em></p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/north-africa-west-asia/samia-khoury/50-years-of-occupation-will-not-kill-hope-for-free-palestine">50 years of occupation will not kill hope for a free Palestine</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/north-africa-west-asia/samah-jabr/more-royal-than-king-encounter-with-french-zionism">&#039;More royal than the king&#039;: an encounter with French Zionism</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/north-africa-west-asia/badia-dwaik-gilbert-ramsay/in-troubled-hebron-innovative-progamme-of-activism-trainin">In troubled Hebron, an innovative programme of activism training brings new hope</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/north-africa-west-asia/hannah-prytherch/mohammad-abu-sakha-in-prison-for-making-children-happy">Mohammad Abu Sakha: in prison for making children happy</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-country"> <div class="field-label"> Country or region:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Palestine </div> <div class="field-item even"> Israel </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-topics"> <div class="field-label">Topics:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Civil society </div> <div class="field-item even"> Conflict </div> <div class="field-item odd"> International politics </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> North Africa, West Asia North-Africa West-Asia Israel Palestine Civil society Conflict International politics human rights Alex Delmar-Morgan You tell us Violent transitions Right to the city Fri, 16 Jun 2017 18:46:31 +0000 Alex Delmar-Morgan 111608 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Lebanon in the eye of the regional storm https://www.opendemocracy.net/north-africa-west-asia/neil-partrick/lebanon-in-eye-of-regional-storm <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Hizbollah’s proven armed capability in Syria, Israel’s perceived political defeat in 2006, coupled with a possible US and Saudi green light, may make confrontation inevitable.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/549460/PA-31000331_0.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title="Xinhua/SIPA USA/PA Images. All rights reserved."><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/549460/PA-31000331_0.jpg" alt="Xinhua/SIPA USA/PA Images. All rights reserved." title="Xinhua/SIPA USA/PA Images. All rights reserved." width="460" height="311" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>A member of Lebanese militant party Hezbollah is seen at the Lebanese-Israeli borders, in Lebanon on April 20, 2017. Xinhua/SIPA USA/PA Images. All rights reserved.</span></span></span>Hizbollah are defiant. They know that the regular Lebanese armed forces are weak and that most Lebanese, mindful of the horror show next door in Syria, think that the Shia militia is crucial to their national security.</p><p>However Hizbollah is under increasing US financial pressure, and US and allied forces could weaken Hizbollah’s position in Syria. At the same time Israel recently targeted its Damascus airport supply line and could restart the confrontation with Hizbollah in south Lebanon.</p><p><span></span></p><p>Hizbollah’s chief spokesman Mohammed Afif told the author in Beirut that fighting in Syria and Israel are two sides of the same coin: both are about enhancing Lebanese national security. Syria is strategic depth for Lebanon, he argues. However Hizbollah recently handed over four border crossing points with Syria in the Beqaa Valley to the Lebanese Army, and stated that it intends to transfer the rest. </p><p>While not itself meaning that Hizbollah is about to end its armed role in Syria, the move was accompanied by Hizbollah’s leader Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah declaring, in response to the Iranian-Russian-Turkish agreement on four de-escalation zones in Syria, that his movement would back any steps that brought peace to that country. If the zones consolidate existing territorial holdings in Syria, including those of the Assad regime in Damascus, Homs and Hama, then Hizbollah may have to accept that it is reaching the end of what it can do to keep Assad, or some version of his regime, in office.&nbsp;</p><p>This is not peace, and it may still include a role for Hizbollah in Syria. However it symbolises a consolidation of power in which Russia is the preeminent foreign actor in Syria, and Iran’s autonomy of action may come to depend on Russian-US agreement on a division of responsibilities for all external actors. </p><p>Such Russian and US collaboration could reduce Iran’s supply lines, including to Hizbollah. The Iraqi government is working closely with the US military and might play its part in the weapons squeeze, while a possible eastern Syrian security zone, alongside a US-backed southern one involving the Jordanians, could further constrain Iran.<span></span><span></span></p><p>None of this is cast in stone of course. President Trump’s domestic predicaments could complicate attempted strategic collaboration with an ostensible Russian adversary, while Syrian regime forces and their Iranian-backed Iraqi militia allies are seeking to control the eastern Syrian border with Iraq – a development that would presumably favour Hizbollah.</p><p>There is no doubt though that Hizbollah’s domestic Lebanese enemies sense an opportunity to reduce the power of what to them is an unwelcome foreign adjunct to the Lebanese state. In response to such a possible scenario, and already intensified US anti-Hizbollah sanctions and the arrest of some Hizbollah figures abroad, Mohammed Raad, the veteran head of Hizbollah’s parliamentary group, said, “Don’t worry about us….[w]e’re adapting.”<span></span><span></span></p><p>Despite a de facto national pact with Hizbollah, MPs loyal to Prime Minister Saad Hariri, the Saudi-allied Sunni Arab politician, do not bother to contain their hostility to the Shia Islamist group. They believe that President Aoun is only still rejecting US and Saudi attempts to side-line Hizbollah because his alliance with them is what brought him to power after a two year vacuum at the top of the Lebanese political system. </p><p>Sunni Arabs and non-Maronite Christians from Mr Hariri’s ’Future’ bloc are expecting that Lebanon will become a platform for a US-led initiative to contain Iran’s Lebanese ally. Thus far, however, Aoun and the rest of the Lebanese leadership are not embracing the apparent Trump strategy of deep alignment with Sunni Arab and wider Sunni Muslim regimes in a dual contest with Iran and all those judged to be terrorists: essentially Sunni Arab extremists ISIS and Al-Qaeda, the Palestinian Sunni Islamists Hamas, and the Iranian-backed Lebanese Hizbollah. </p><p>Aoun wasn’t invited to Riyadh for the founding of the de facto Sunni club, and the Lebanese delegation left before the final Trump-Saudi declaration on May 22. Lebanon’s energy minister Raed Khoury contemptuously observed that it contained nothing new as the US-Saudi position toward Hizbollah and Iran was already well-known. &nbsp;<span></span><span></span></p><p>Hizbollah argues that Iran, unlike Saudi Arabia, has limited economic, social and cultural links in Lebanon, in part because the Beirut government refuses some of the assistance it has been offered. Iran never demands a political price for its support, Afif argues, drawing a contrast with the demands the Saudis have made in order to fulfil the largely frozen US$ 3 billion in French arms supplies to the Lebanese Army and the balance of US$ 1 billion Saudi support for the security services.President Aoun’s visit to Saudi Arabia in January failed to secure the unfreezing of this arms package. </p><p>The Saudis want Lebanon to distance itself from both Iran and Hizbollah, and are still sore about Lebanon’s refusal to condemn Iran for the attacks on the Saudi embassy and consulate in Iran in January 2016. However Aoun isn’t budging.</p><p><span></span></p><p>If the Saudis decided to box clever, emboldened by the deepening US-Saudi relationship, they would supply the outstanding Lebanese security assistance without rhetorical strings. French or US officials could be invited to monitor the security of the Army’s arms storage, not that alleged Hizbollah stealing of kit supplied to the Lebanese Army has ever prevented Washington from providing military assistance. </p><p>Why should we steal their weapons, Raad asks rhetorically. There are plenty of Russian and other arms kicking around Syria, he observes. Of course Hizbollah could block any Lebanese-Saudi movement on the arms front, seeing it as a direct move against itself and Iran. After all, Hizbollah sees no separation between what Raad calls the “aggressive policies of Israel, Saudi Arabia and the USA against Hizbollah and Iran.”</p><p>An ongoing conflict in Syria will leave Hizbollah’s role in Lebanese national security unresolved, as it will the future of an estimated 1.5 million Syrians resident throughout a country of only 4.2 million Lebanese nationals. Refugees minister Moueen Merehbi is hopeful the proposed security zones will stabilise Syria and enable the return of many of the 1.5 million. Enhancing the Lebanese state’s security capacity and receiving much more generous foreign aid could, he says, help the desired process of giving them a temporary but official residency status and of improving the economic lot of people who otherwise lack a horizon.&nbsp;<span></span><span></span></p><p>If this is not done, the mostly Sunni Arabs could become tools for&nbsp;<em>takfiri</em>s, replicating a domestic Sunni militant threat that both Hizbollah and the Lebanese state have played an important part in containing. A possible Hizbollah retrenchment in Syria may free its forces to offset such a perceived enemy within. The Shia militia would like the Lebanese Government to transfer these refugees to a zone just the other side of the Beqaa Valley border with Syria.&nbsp; &nbsp;<span></span><span></span></p><p>Contrary to any such Hizbollah-friendly domestic division of territory in Syria, the security zones being discussed by Russia, Turkey and Iran, if realised, would complicate Iran’s ability to transfer arms overland from Iraq. That, and Israel’s proven willingness to strike Hizbollah’s access to arms in Syria, might constrain the militia’s options. However, for the time being at least, Hizbollah’s close relationship to the Lebanese state will probably continue to facilitate other in-bound arms sources. Lebanon’s airports and docks can probably continue to provide Hizbollah with arms, even if at risk of Israeli attack.<span></span><span></span></p><p>Should the Lebanese government feel able to distance itself from Iran by reducing the Lebanese state’s dependence on Hizbollah, it is hard to see how this will weaken the movement’s domestic role. Returning Hizbollah fighters, if and when this occurs, would consolidate the movement’s Lebanese presence. A mutual interest that has made Aoun, Hariri and Hizbollah political bed-fellows could also mitigate against any domestic steps that Hizbollah would see as benefitting its regional adversaries. </p><p>Hariri faces growing opposition in the Lebanese Sunni Muslim camp, encouraged by Saudi Arabia betting on several horses as Hariri is in effect in alliance with Hizbollah; and Christian opinion is divided for and against Hizbollah. The latter dominates the Shia community’s politics, and prospective voting reform, projected in advance of a possible August election, is more likely to advantage its position than that of those whose base is in more divided communities.</p><p>With or without enhanced foreign aid to the Lebanese army and security forces, Israel and the US may consider that a Hizbollah that has redeployed, or is planning to redeploy, its forces from Syria, needs to be hit in Lebanon. It would argue that this is pre-emptive action. Hizbollah will know that it will be sorely testing the patience of many Lebanese should it be seen to have provoked such a conflict. However it may have little choice but to enter a resumed confrontation. </p><p>Hizbollah’s proven armed capability in Syria, Israel’s perceived political defeat in 2006, coupled with a possible US and Saudi green light, may make it inevitable. Once again though, unless Israel wins decisively, Hizbollah will be the victor. The danger of this recurring scenario might encourage Israeli caution. </p><p>The US’ re-found Sunni regional alliance will still make a rebalancing of Lebanon’s domestic and external alignments a likely American objective. In other words, while Hizbollah may face increased domestic and external pressure, it is unlikely to lose its centrality to the future of Lebanon.</p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/neil-partrick/turkey-looking-east-and-west">Turkey: looking east and west </a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-country"> <div class="field-label"> Country or region:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Lebanon </div> <div class="field-item even"> Syria </div> <div class="field-item odd"> Saudi Arabia </div> <div class="field-item even"> Iran </div> <div class="field-item odd"> Iraq </div> <div class="field-item even"> United States </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-topics"> <div class="field-label">Topics:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Conflict </div> <div class="field-item even"> Democracy and government </div> <div class="field-item odd"> International politics </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> North Africa, West Asia North-Africa West-Asia United States Iraq Iran Saudi Arabia Syria Lebanon Conflict Democracy and government International politics Neil Partrick Violent transitions Geopolitics Fri, 16 Jun 2017 18:40:14 +0000 Neil Partrick 111636 at https://www.opendemocracy.net ‘Lost in Lebanon’ explores restless wait for return https://www.opendemocracy.net/north-africa-west-asia/ola-al-missyati/lost-in-lebanon-explores-restless-wait-for-return <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>The film examines various dimensions of loss through a new concept of life in exile, in a country where precarious residency comes without self-awareness.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/549460/nimr-lost-in-lebanon-874x492.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title="GroundTruth Productions/Fair Use. All rights reserved to the author. "><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/549460/nimr-lost-in-lebanon-874x492.jpg" alt="GroundTruth Productions/Fair Use. All rights reserved to the author. " title="GroundTruth Productions/Fair Use. All rights reserved to the author. " width="460" height="259" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Nimr, one of the movie’s protagonists, fled to Lebanon to escape forced military conscription. GroundTruth Productions/Fair Use. All rights reserved to the author. </span></span></span><strong>[This article is the outcome of a partnership between&nbsp;<a href="http://www.syriauntold.com/en/">SyriaUntold</a>&nbsp;and openDemocracy].</strong></p><p>Having lost their home, they themselves are now lost in Lebanon, living a tale of spiraling loss that devours everything in its wake. Perhaps this is the metaphor conveyed by ‘<a href="http://www.lostinlebanonfilm.com/#thefilm">Lost in Lebanon</a>’ (2017), a film by Georgia and Sophia Scott that sheds light on the lives of Syrian refugees in this small Mediterranean country.</p> <p>The film examines various dimensions of loss — such as deprivation and alienation — through a new concept of life in exile, in a country (Lebanon) where precarious residency comes without self-awareness. This loss then expands, encompassing the terms and conditions of existence on foreign land, which itself turns into some sort of prison.</p> <p>In Lebanon, Syria seems closer to those who have fled, or been forced to leave it behind. The intimate thoughts and aspirations regarding Syria are clearly on display in the eyes and words, and in thoughts and memories unleashed by the characters. These emotions escape through the film and draw a picture, a new portrait of diasporic Syria; a Syria which is comprised of personal details, and of countless lives awaiting any glimpse of hope for a future return.</p> <p>In ‘Lost in Lebanon’, we watch aspects of the lives of four characters. Each has a unique backstory, but they all revolve around the exceptional circumstances of Syrians in Lebanon. In spite of their differences, they are brought together by a desire for a better life; a life for which they struggle, consoling themselves in a prolonged wait. They burn away their days without solutions in sight.</p> <p>Returning to Syria now is not an option. The characters live in places that are, albeit alien to them, corresponding to their crises. Their relationship with their surroundings is characterized by misunderstanding and confusion.</p> <p>A house in Beirut does not resemble a tent in Akkar or an office in <a href="https://www.unrwa.org/where-we-work/lebanon/shatila-camp">Shatila Camp</a>, nor does it resemble a camp school to which dozens of children go for fear of illiteracy and all-too-accessible violence. In each of these different and disordered spaces, the notion of ‘place’ becomes rather absurd. </p> <p>We come across someone who brought his place all the way from Syria, only to discover it too late and regret the sweetness of its discovery in his homeland. His fellow Syrian describes Lebanon as a calm and comfortable place to start planning and working. Another one is still clueless about it and overwhelmed by its details. Thus, these places weave their threads of identity around the necks of those fleeing the calamity.</p> <h2><strong>In search of the lost Syria</strong></h2> <p>A father awaiting the arrival of his new baby, Sheikh Abdo (39) keeps thinking about the future generation of those who had left their homeland and settled in unofficial camps in northern Lebanon. What the future holds for them is utterly unknown and frightening, to say the least. Perhaps this is what pushes him to build houses, or rather tents, for himself and for others around him in the open land of Akkar. They initiate their new life by building the only school in the camp.</p> <p>Nimr (16) is a volunteer member of the same organization in which Sheikh Abdo works. Together with another group of Syrian volunteers and tent dwellers, they form a loving team that <a href="http://carnegieendowment.org/sada/?fa=63513">teach children</a>. They maintain that, with free weapons and a protracted conflict in Syria, education will help protect them from potential extremism.</p> <p>The young Nimr has great ambitions and dreams that are almost beyond ​​ returning to Syria. But he keeps drawing Syria’s nearby borders with his fingers in the air. “I do not know where it is exactly, but it should be somewhere behind these mountains.”</p> <p>Syria is behind the nearby mountains indeed. Everyone knows that. However, reaching “over there” is almost beyond any dream they may have. In reality, they have a small school and a blue tent.</p> <p>The most dynamic character, Rim (26) is shown singing revolutionary anthem <strong>“</strong><a href="https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLObU7-VkAo4BEY_MM9ofuInavAecoDSq2">Paradise, Paradise!</a>” (<em>Jannah, Jannah!</em>) as she watches a protest she had attended in Syria back in 2011. Rim’s vitality does not wither. It accompanies her in Lebanon, paving her passionate strides as she works in the narrow alleyways of Shatila Camp.</p> <p>In her office in Beirut, she works hard to organize the provision of aid to the Syrian families living in the camp. Constructive ideas are always present, but the black reality of instability weighs heavier. “We have to gather information about each family,” explains Rim, “including all the lacking items.” These plans do not end in the right place. The damage is too severe to be mended by repairing a window, installing a faucet or coating a wall.</p> <p>Shatila Camp, which is almost present as a character, offers a glimpse into the distant future of Syrian camps if they were left to fend for themselves. “This is a special place where no one should be forced to live<strong>,</strong>” says Rim.</p> <p>Perhaps this originally Palestinian reality is going to reproduce itself, repeating the same story of neglect and lack of services. This is what seems to await Syrian refugees. Not only has the war shattered their reality, but also any logical conception of life in a better place.</p> <p>Muwaffaq is a sculptor whose personal freedom seems to be voiced louder than the sounds of war. He fled because he could not bear the idea of ​​killing someone. When he had to join the military, he preferred the loss in Lebanon to that in the midst of war.</p> <p>Unlike the three other dreamers<strong>, </strong>Muwaffaq’s plans are of no concrete substance. He instead grasps at the meagre possibilities in his life. However, his sculpting is a more realistic part of his life than wandering around escapism and its justifications.</p> <p>Muwaffaq sometimes plays with Syrian refugee children in the camps, helping them to enter Syria with their voices. “Who among you is left outside Syria?” he asks them, before whispering to himself: “Only I am.” The group of children stands on a large map of Syria to learn about its cities. “I am from Aleppo,” shouts one of them, perhaps knowing nothing about Aleppo but through horrific news.</p> <p>But his shout resonates deeply within Muwaffaq’s soul, who is tormented by the question of identity. He asks himself: “Who is the Syrian refugee child? Isn’t he just a child? Why these extra words?” The same question will be asked of a new student of Sheikh Abdo’s, a child who knows nothing about Syria except for the tent in which he is growing up.</p> <p>The notion of Syria, which expands day after day, does not generate any further notions. Syria does not lead its children but to an inevitable homelessness. “What matters it to be inside Syria,” continues Muwaffaq, who lets the children enter Syria only on the large map.</p> <h2><strong>Forbidden to return, forbidden to stay</strong></h2> <p>The places that occupy the lives of the characters do not seem easy to comprehend or accept. The issue is too vast to be summed up in the phrase “We left Syria and now we live in Lebanon.” The complexity has reached the state of being a pariah in Lebanon, while remaining deprived of living in Syria.</p> <p>The three young men live in constant fear of deportation to Syria. It is the same old fear of Syrian security checkpoints and arrests, now lurking in Lebanese security checkpoints.</p> <p>The sounds of Beirut are different from those of the camps. Between the open land and the urban settings, the protagonists of an inevitable escape lie in a limbo. Between the desire to return and the fear of being deported, or rather exiled to death, anxieties grow, worlds and aspirations narrow, and pressures take down the remainder of the sense of safety. All of this is taking place in Lebanon, a country that is already too narrow for its citizens.</p> <p>Residency papers, or obtaining official documents in the host country, became a huge burden on their shoulders, to be added to the dream of return, the education of children or the building of a school.</p> <p>We no longer see a trace of any of these concerns in the film after the arrest of Sheikh Abdo by the Lebanese security forces. Following the <a href="http://www.general-security.gov.lb/ar/posts/33">amendment of Syrian entry and residency laws</a> , they cited the expiration of his legal stay in Lebanon.</p> <p>Dreams are dissipated and cards are shuffled, but concerns remain and intertwine. Young Nimr travels to Beirut, and Muwaffaq is registered as a refugee at the <span>UNHCR</span>. “Nothing will change,” he says confidently. He quotes what they said, with their tremendous capacity to make people wait and hope. “You have to wait. We will inform you of any developments.”</p> <p>With perturbed breaths, Rim waits to hear news of her parents’ arrival to Syria. Her parents are the only ones around her who can return, albeit with much anxiety on her side.</p> <p>‘Lost in Lebanon’ captures these transitions in time, which expand the scope of anxiety and instill fear. We notice that something begins to disappear from these faces, which were just expressing their dreams with bright eyes. They have now become outcasts, bewildered by the declaration of their rejection.</p> <p>As they sit, discussing and assessing current events, <a href="https://newspaper.annahar.com/article/220533-%25D8%25AE%25D8%25B1%25D8%25A7%25D8%25A6%25D8%25B7-%25D8%25AA%25D9%2588%25D8%25B2%25D9%258A%25D8%25B9%25D8%25A7%25D8%25AA-%25D8%25A7%25D9%2584%25D9%2584%25D8%25A7%25D8%25AC%25D8%25A6%25D9%258A%25D9%2586-%25D9%2584%25D8%25A8%25D9%2586%25D8%25A7%25D9%2586-%25D9%2585%25D8%25AE%25D9%258A%25D9%2585-%25D9%2583%25D8%25A8%25D9%258A%25D8%25B1">the age of the tent silently grows older</a>, and so does their stay here. Official documents become an even heavier burden to bear. The situation worsens as responsibilities and restrictions increase. By now, it is forbidden to either return or stay.</p> <p>“Why don’t they just put us in a hole and bury us? they’d be fine!” &nbsp;says a participant in one of Reem’s team meetings.</p> <p>The impact of the security stress on their lives remains paramount. After his release from a Lebanese prison, Sheikh Abdo returns to the larger prison, i.e., the Akkar camp, which changed and became even narrower and tougher in the meantime.</p> <h2><strong>Hope</strong></h2> <p>Sheikh Abdo goes to the hospital along with his wife, who will give birth to their new child. He contemplates his newborn, who had just arrived without documents and without hope, inheriting his father’s misery. As such increases the number of Syrians whose mere existence in Lebanon is in violation of the law.</p> <p>“How will we solve the issue of his papers?” is the question that remains open and unresolved<strong>, </strong>while the child lets out his first cries, announcing his arrival in health and safety.</p> <p>Muwaffaq makes a disconcerting, albeit predictable, choice. He will travel to Turkey and then by sea to Europe. “I would like to go by sea,” but the sea sends him a troubling response: Today, another group of Syrians drowned while trying to cross the Mediterranean.</p> <p>The sea is not lethal in Lebanon. The film invites us towards its end to imagine closed and narrow spaces. Nothing gets you nowhere in Lebanon, including the sea. Even a moving landscape of the Beirut port, a metaphor for travel and relocation, could not serve to suggest a new relieving transition.</p> <p>Whether between mountains and vast green areas, or cement and slowly built towers, Syrians in Lebanon seem endlessly stranded in an irredeemable state of patience and loss.</p> <p>The film mainly focuses on <a href="http://www.syriauntold.com/en/2016/08/syrian-refugees-in-lebanon-talking-facts-beyond-populism/">refugees in Lebanon</a> as one of the long-lived Syrian tragedies. However, the four protagonists on this journey make excuses for the country, noting the possibility of adapting to its hell “with much suffering and humiliation,” as Sheikh Abdo’s wife puts it. She does not know what the future holds for her little kids, nor for her own adrift life. She cries, while everyone else contemplates untenable solutions.</p> <p>The origins of Syrian restlessness in Lebanon seems to be at the crux of the Syrian tragedy. The homeland has continued to haunt those who have left it.</p> <p>In an hour and a half, the film places its characters and locations within fixed frames, presenting a visually restful story. The footage does not serve a dramatic purpose beyond observation and following the characters through the scenes. In the camp, the footage is general, conveying a sense of collective security despite the poor livelihood prospects.</p> <p>This slight contentment is reversed, as a critical situation with greater pressure arises. The following scenes are captured via close-ups on the faces of young people, particularly Rim, Muwaffaq and Nimr, alluding to their overwhelming conditions and increasingly narrowing space. </p><p>‘Lost in Lebanon’ is based around the spiral of safe return present in everyone’s life. The protagonists do not miss an opportunity to pray for return, but they mean a safe return which meets the desired conditions of stability. Nonetheless, these hopes are shrouded in ambiguity and hopelessness.</p> <p>The footage of the film begins and ends with the same despair. We start by walking towards a bright light at the end of a tunnel, only to return to its darkness once again as the film concludes. Such is the path of hope when conditions are hopeless. One is destined to constant search, however, in the hope that pains may illuminate the path.<em><strong></strong></em></p><p><em><strong>This piece was first published on <a href="http://www.syriauntold.com/en/2017/06/lost-lebanon-explores-restless-wait-return/">SyriaUntold</a> on 6 June 2017.</strong></em></p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/karim-zidan/return-of-football-to-aleppo-highlights-regime-s-political-theatrics">Return of football to Aleppo highlights regime’s political theatrics</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/north-africa-west-asia/syria-untold/regime-wages-war-of-documents-on-syrian-refugees">Regime wages war of documents on Syrians</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-country"> <div class="field-label"> Country or region:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Lebanon </div> <div class="field-item even"> Syria </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-topics"> <div class="field-label">Topics:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Conflict </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> North Africa, West Asia North-Africa West-Asia Lebanon Syria Conflict film Ola Al-Missyati Violent transitions Looking inside the uprising Thu, 08 Jun 2017 15:25:30 +0000 Ola Al-Missyati 111515 at https://www.opendemocracy.net The Egyptian Army’s violent trail of breadcrumbs https://www.opendemocracy.net/north-africa-west-asia/wael-eskandar/egypt-army-violence-sinai-terrorism-waronterror-church-bombs-militants <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Supporting Egypt’s particular brand of fighting terrorism is equivalent to supporting a climate of expedited radicalization.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/549460/PA-29425050.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title="NurPhoto/SIPA USA/PA Images. All rights reserved."><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/549460/PA-29425050.jpg" alt="NurPhoto/SIPA USA/PA Images. All rights reserved." title="NurPhoto/SIPA USA/PA Images. All rights reserved." width="460" height="306" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Egyptian security officials inspect the site of a bomb blast, in Giza, Egypt, 09 December 2016. NurPhoto/SIPA USA/PA Images. All rights reserved.</span></span></span>“<em>The army is a killing machine</em>.” - These were words chosen by Egyptian President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi to address his soldiers as minister of defense. In a video leaked nearly three years ago, he <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1aBMmTlp4DY">explained</a> why the army is incapable of fighting terrorism, why it should not partake in it and vowed this will never be its role. “<em>It is not an arresting machine, we don’t know how to arrest</em>,” he explained. “<em>Why don’t we say this in the media? Because it’s not useful, people are unable to understand.</em>”</p><p>True to Sisi’s words, the army has been a killing machine, but breaking his vow, the army has placed itself at the forefront of the fight against terror. Over 6,000 people have been <a href="https://timep.org/commentary/special-briefing-leaked-video-of-egyptian-military-servicemen-extrajudicial-killings-of-civilians/">killed</a> in operations in North Sinai under claims of terrorism affiliated activities. </p> <p>Reports on the ground have indicated that there are far more indiscriminate arrests and killings than the army cares to share. These reports have been vindicated after the release of a <a href="https://www.nytimes.com/2017/04/20/world/middleeast/egypt-soldiers-extrajudicial-killings-sinai-peninsula.html?smid=fb-share&amp;_r=0">video</a> showing unarmed men gunned down in cold blood by men in army uniforms. They were blindfolded and shot in the head and torso point blank. Earlier the army had released photos and videos claiming that these eight men were terrorists killed in a gun fight.</p> <p>The video of the extrajudicial killings was released by Mekameleen, a Muslim Brotherhood aligned channel, one day after US Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis <em>"<a href="http://pulse.com.gh/international/jim-mattis-pentagon-chief-pledges-support-for-egypts-president-sisi-id6556201.html">affirmed </a>Egypt's pivotal role in the Middle East and commended its counter-terrorism efforts.”</em></p> <p>The coldness of the murders contrasted with the propaganda of the army sent shockwaves through viewers. Initial reactions were that the video was fabricated. The regime moved quickly urging its supporters to cast doubt on one bearded man in army uniform, claiming that the army does not allow for beards nor nonstandard issue T-Shirts, and that there were people wearing long sleeves while others wore summer clothing.</p> <p>Yet, as the <a href="https://www.hrw.org/news/2017/04/21/egypt-videos-show-army-executions-sinai">authenticity of the video</a> was established, supporters of the Sisi regime defended extrajudicial killings targeting terrorists. For example, in a strange effort to defend the army and yet condone the practices of the video, Egyptian member of parliament John Talaat denied the army’s involvement in any systematic extrajudicial killings yet <a href="https://www.facebook.com/John.tal3at.official/posts/1299683180078950">expressed</a> his disappointment that this was not the case.</p> <h2><strong>The trail</strong></h2> <p>It would be inaccurate to dismiss the video showing these extrajudicial killings as an isolated incident. The army’s use of torture was&nbsp;<a href="https://www.theguardian.com/world/2013/apr/10/egypt-army-torture-killings-revolution">reported</a> as early as January 2011 to help contain the January 25 revolution. </p> <p>The army was actively involved in dispersing protests on 9 March 2011 where protesters were taken to the Egyptian museum, tortured and humiliated. They were later sentenced to prison in farcical military trials <a href="http://english.ahram.org.eg/NewsContent/1/64/7884/Egypt/Politics-/Protesters-in-Egypt-recount-their-experiences-of-m.aspx">as described by victims</a> who were later released. Women arrested were also subjected to the infamous virginity tests which <a href="http://edition.cnn.com/2011/WORLD/meast/05/30/egypt.virginity.tests/">Sisi himself admitted to</a>. </p> <p>On 8 April &nbsp;2011 <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/world/2011/apr/09/egyptian-soldiers-tahrir-square-protesters">the army attacked protesters</a> killing two. Footage of army violence against detainees was also reported through testimonies and <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3MUUmd-TFOo">leaked videos</a>.</p> <p>More compelling perhaps is the event known as the Maspero massacre in October 2011 where the <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8qToDwfXjs0">army ran over</a> and shot nearly 27 protestors outside the television building. Later the military was involved in clashes with demonstrators and in December violently targeted women, <a href="http://www.npr.org/sections/pictureshow/2011/12/21/144098384/the-girl-in-the-blue-bra">part stripping</a> one of them, in what became famously known as the ‘blue bra’ incident.</p> <p>Security violence against Egyptian citizens without due process was also rampant under Morsi’s short rule. More importantly, following the military takeover of 3 July 2013, we are presented with even more evidence that the army became more brutal than ever.</p> <p>Following Morsi’s removal, a man <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HVUe_VeRb5A">was shot point blank</a> on <a href="http://www.bbc.com/news/world-23202818">July 5</a> opposite the Republican Guard headquarters as he attempted to cross the street holding a Morsi poster. That day five people were killed. Shortly after, the death toll increased dramatically; 51 people were killed at another Republican Guard <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/world/interactive/2013/jul/18/cairo-republican-guard-shooting-full-story">dispersal</a> on 8 July, and <a href="https://www.madamasr.com/en/2013/07/28/news/u/investigation-of-suspects-ordered-in-rabea-alexandria-clashes/">over 70</a> later that same month in Nasr City.</p> <p>The violent dispersal of the <a href="https://www.hrw.org/report/2014/08/12/all-according-plan/raba-massacre-and-mass-killings-protesters-egypt">Rabaa and Nahda</a> sit-ins left at least 900 dead. It was only exceptional in terms of numbers, but not in terms of systematic brutal crackdown on the public. This was followed by clashes in October 2013, where at least <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/world/2013/oct/06/egypt-cairo-morsi-yom-kippur">51 people died</a>. </p><p class="mag-quote-right">systematic <a href="http://www.dailynewsegypt.com/2015/11/01/egyptians-disappear-egypt-disintegrates/">forced disappearances</a> and torture inside Egyptian jails have alienated numerous Egyptians </p> <p>Indications of the widespread targeting of North Sinai residents did not stop; another leaked video of the <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hlI9FfZrXfk">army humiliating and torturing </a>&nbsp;an already wounded Egyptian citizen surfaced.</p> <p>These leaked videos are but a small subsection of other reports of army brutality. Investigations into North Sinai, which is cut off from the media, indicate that army brutality in dealing with residents has led to a <a href="http://www.madamasr.com/en/2016/04/25/feature/politics/in-sinais-rafah-the-war-continues/">shift in sympathy</a> towards militants. </p> <p>It is not only the targeted killing but systematic <a href="http://www.dailynewsegypt.com/2015/11/01/egyptians-disappear-egypt-disintegrates/">forced disappearances</a> and torture inside Egyptian jails that have alienated numerous Egyptians. </p> <p>One must also recall the army’s murder of eight <a href="https://features.foreignpolicy.com/killing-fields-in-the-egyptian-desert-mexican-tourists-attack-investigation/">Mexican tourists</a> in the desert and the recent torture and murder of <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/world/2016/oct/04/egypt-murder-giulio-regeni">Giulio Regeni</a>. Regeni’s murder not only implicates Egypt’s security apparatus and politicians, but was covered up by <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/world/2016/sep/24/new-twist-in-case-of-italian-student-giulio-regenis-in-egypt">five extra judicial killings</a> to frame citizens who had nothing to do with Regeni’s murder. </p> <h2><strong>Understanding why</strong></h2> <p>Why would the Egyptian army target innocents? We can attempt to attribute it to merely incompetence and ineffectiveness, but such an answer presents a contradiction. </p> <p>President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi knows full well that these methods are counter-productive. In a <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hwgfz0oqBBw">leaked clip</a> that shows Sisi addressing the army, as minister of defense, he expresses clearly that forcefully evicting residents in North Sinai creates an enemy that will divide the country and he cited the example of South Sudan. He expressed a mature understanding that one creates security “<em>through presence, not through fighting.</em>” He warned the army of using practices that randomly target innocent residents. </p> <p>Yet despite his apt analysis, Sisi seems to be taking steps in the exact opposite direction and if his own reasoning is used, the result would be the creation of a domestic enemy.</p> <p>So why is Egypt using the exact same tactics that Sisi warned against? It is difficult to speculate. It might be that Sisi changed his views and realized he was mistaken earlier. But it’s also possible that the present outcome is desirable. </p> <p class="mag-quote-left">The continued presence of radical extremists is a guarantee that Sisi will have international support</p><p>The sustained fight against extremists comes with a few benefits. Countries like the US, France and the UK are invested in fighting radical extremists. The continued presence of radical extremists is a guarantee that Sisi will have international support from these major countries. </p> <p>More so, because of this fight, the international community is turning a blind eye to the internal abuse against activists, Islamists and the opposition which strengthens Sisi’s security grip on the country. </p> <p>The simplistically naïve approach of many western diplomats towards the war on terror is all the ammunition Sisi needs to sustain his rule. </p> <p>In any case, violence and torture come in many flavors in a police state. Some of it is very deliberate in order to establish power, create an enemy or punish certain communities outside of the law, but sometimes this violence is out of sheer habit, a way to coerce and get things done or just a mode of daily operations.</p> <h2><strong>Consequences </strong></h2> <p>These brutal practices are conducive to a culture of radicalization and the consequences are grave. The displacement of Copts and recent terror activity against churches are a result in one way or another.</p><p class="mag-quote-right">There is a danger of the radicalization of innocents who find terror attacks as the only means of redress. </p> <p>There certainly is a danger of the radicalization of innocents who find terror attacks as the only means of redress. Indeed, the testimonies of many forcibly disappeared, particularly North Sinai residents who were <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/jun/22/disappeared-egyptians-torture-secret-military-prison">tortured</a> in Al Azouli prison in Ismaileya, is something to consider. </p> <p>With a host of radicals incarcerated, prisons become rife for recruitment. With no room for peaceful protest and opposition, many may be affected by mental instability, violent radicalization or a mixture of both.</p> <p>There is another danger of current practices. This is highlighted by <a href="http://www.dailynewsegypt.com/2015/11/01/egyptians-disappear-egypt-disintegrates/">Nabil El Boustany</a>, a young man who had survived 70 days of having been forcibly disappeared and detained in Al Azouli prison and whose family has been explicitly lied to about his whereabouts. </p> <p>Nabil managed to come away with the experience without being radicalized and maintains a healthy mental outlook on life. He says, “<em>The true danger of these practices isn’t just that people get radicalized and plan their revenge, but that the security apparatus does not do its real job and counter radicals and security threats.</em>”</p> <p>Nabil witnessed the forcibly disappeared disappear again inside the prisons and claims that many he met inside military prison were not radicals and some were even Sisi supporters.</p> <p>The security apparatus that lazily kills innocents and then masquerades these killings as heroism tends to then become inefficient at fighting real security threats. </p> <p>The Ministry of Interior for example has used many of its resources to hound and target peaceful activists for trivial things such as Facebook posts and expressing their opinions, meanwhile, the perpetrators of the Tanta and Alexandria attacks managed to find explosives, find their way into <a href="http://edition.cnn.com/2017/04/10/middleeast/egypt-church-explosion/">churches on Palm Sunday</a> and detonate themselves leaving 45 dead and 126 injured.</p> <p>A state of emergency was declared, but adds nothing and counters very little. Even without it, state institutions have been operating freely without accountability. </p> <p>The bombings are another security failing, and not because the metal detectors were placed incorrectly. There is little that police armed with metal detectors can do to prevent a suicide bomber, they too have become victims of their institutions’ failed security policies. </p> <p>The failings are much deeper and are actively helping define targets for the state's enemies, such as state institutions and the Coptic church - whose leaders have unabashedly supported the regime.&nbsp;</p> <h2><strong>More targets</strong></h2> <p>It’s not only the victims who are affected but also those who inflict these injustices. </p> <p>Present policies leave soldiers who serve in Sinai exposed as easy targets by militants. By alienating North Sinai residents, the army has lost logistical cover necessary for security. Battles are not merely about superior weaponry, they also depend on intelligence, training, information and governance, all of which are lacking among the men fighting in Sinai. </p> <p>Without knowledge of the terrain and community support, the army is like a foreign occupier. Without the help of Sinai residents, the soldiers are left out to dry at their stations with uniforms on that paint them as targets. </p> <p>Under such conditions, soldiers no longer represent the nation nor defend it, they represent themselves and the most they can hope for is to be able to defend themselves. They lack proper knowledge, information and training to counter a local enemy.</p> <p>It is no wonder then that the other is <a href="http://www.madamasr.com/en/2015/01/14/opinion/u/the-dehumanization-of-the-nation/">dehumanized</a>, and killings that happen on a daily basis become normalized. North Sinai has become a land where no laws apply, and the uniforms represent different teams fighting on the ground. Soldiers will kill for survival and revenge, knowing full well they are at risk and lacking the basics to keep them safe. Their leaders will not ensure their safety nor will they hold them to account if they operate outside the law, or even human decency. &nbsp;</p><p class="mag-quote-left">international support for more brutality through diplomatic arms supplies continues</p> <p>Indeed, even for the police dealing with protesters, Sisi has assured that the context in which a police officer can be tried for killing a protester out of excessive force <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rF8Yz8J3MHI">no longer exists</a>. It is clear that this policy applies even more so to army personnel targeting North Sinai residents.</p> <p>Furthermore, state actors are now shielded from any form of questioning or accountability through the <a href="http://www.madamasr.com/en/2015/08/21/feature/politics/license-to-kill/">anti-terrorism law</a> which not only protects security agencies but allows them to pursue the opposition under the most convenient guise known as the ‘war on terror’.</p> <p>This context is one where no one in Egypt, or perhaps the world, is willing to hold an Egyptian officer or soldier accountable for any violation. On the contrary, international support for more brutality through diplomatic arms supplies continues. </p> <h2><strong>The price we pay</strong></h2> <p>There is a price we all pay as a nation for the failings of security policies. Soldiers with a dead conscience, radicals with a dead conscience and an audience cheering either side and justifying the violence. Both soldiers and citizens are dying, but what’s worse in the long run is that the conscience of an entire nation is dying. </p><p class="mag-quote-right">the conscience of an entire nation is dying</p> <p>Numerous secular activists and innocent people languish in jail. One secular activist <a href="https://www.nytimes.com/2017/04/21/us/politics/american-aid-worker-released-egypt-trump.html">Aya Hijazi</a> spent three years behind bars for having attempted to help street children before finally being acquitted. </p> <p>Yet Aya is considered lucky, a dual national whose case was highlighted internationally and was acquitted only after pressure from US President Donald Trump. </p> <p>Countless others like Aya are in jail, without a president, without pressure, without a crime. </p> <p>Others who have helped create peaceful space for opposition like Alaa Abdel Fattah are also in jail. There are over <a href="http://www.dailynewsegypt.com/2016/09/05/room-everyone-inside-egypts-prisons-anhri/">sixty thousand political prisoners</a> in Egypt.</p> <p>As terror attacks increase, some turn their focus to sectarian extremists who spout insults and incite the killing of those they don’t agree with. Some analysts may point to the nature of such extremist groups and undermine the role of the state. </p> <p>While the country’s direct sectarian violence pales in comparison to what these terror attacks highlight, the state’s covert and open practices offer extremists the largest support and conditions to operate. </p><p class="mag-quote-left">There are over <a href="http://www.dailynewsegypt.com/2016/09/05/room-everyone-inside-egypts-prisons-anhri/">sixty thousand political prisoners</a> in Egypt</p> <p>The U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights, Zeid Ra'ad al-Hussein <a href="http://af.reuters.com/article/egyptNews/idAFL8N1I32YE">expressed</a> &nbsp;that <em>"...a state of emergency, the massive numbers of detentions, reports of torture, and continued arbitrary arrests - all of this we believe facilitates radicalisation in prisons." </em></p> <p>It is not just prisons that offer extremists a larger pool to recruit from, it was the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces rather than Mohamed Morsi, who <a href="http://www.madamasr.com/en/2014/02/16/feature/politics/who-let-the-jihadis-out/">set many Jihadis free</a>, allowing a larger number of them to <a href="http://www.almasryalyoum.com/news/details/122653">return to Egyp</a>t following the 2011 revolution. </p> <p>It is also the state that released the perpetrators who had stripped an old Coptic woman of her clothes and <a href="http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/africa/elderly-christian-woman-stripped-naked-and-paraded-through-streets-by-mob-a7049926.html">paraded her around a village</a>, and it was the state <a href="http://www.dailynewsegypt.com/2017/02/08/614905/">that released the torturer and murderer of Magdy Makeen</a> who yelled out to the police officer “<em>I’m going to die</em>,” to which the officer who killed him responded, “<em><a href="http://gate.ahram.org.eg/News/1313389.aspx">Die Magdy</a></em><em>,”</em> and he did.</p> <p>It is conveniently forgotten that the space for peaceful opposition helps counter extremism. This space for peaceful activism has been shrunk so that now any kind of dissent is criminalized, deemed illegal or even if not, punishable by the regime. </p> <p>In their efforts to gain security, many Egyptians have revolted against accountability and human rights, yet they have not attained that security they strive for. </p> <p>The Egypt we see today is radicalized in every way, from soldiers to extremists to onlookers. Targeting the innocent does not just hurt those targeted, but society as a whole. Even those who abhor extremism and seek to fight terror have ended up supporting it by cheering on those failed methods of counter terrorism. </p> <p>The Egyptian regime has incarcerated citizens for political purposes, torture is rampant in jails, its judiciary is coopted and criminality is rampant in its institutions. </p> <p>Yet no one in the world wants to call out Egypt because of its purported ‘war on terror’ that many desire. The irony is that supporting Egypt’s particular brand of fighting terrorism is equivalent to supporting a climate of expedited radicalization.</p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/north-africa-west-asia/wael-eskandar/revolutionary-arena-battle-of-minds">The revolutionary arena: a battle of minds</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/north-africa-west-asia/wael-eskandar/battling-culture-of-inferior-copt">Egypt&#039;s Copts between terror and discrimination </a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/north-africa-west-asia/jack-shenker/send-them-to-egypt">Send them to Egypt</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/north-africa-west-asia/aya-nader/egypt-deep-state-s-war-on-journalism">Egypt: the deep state’s war on journalism</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/north-africa-west-asia/tommy-greene/time-is-running-out-for-ibrahim-halawa">Time is running out for Ibrahim Halawa</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/north-africa-west-asia/maged-mandour/pain-and-torture-state-violence-in-egypt">Pain and torture: state violence in Egypt</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/wfd/north-africa-west-asia/antonio-marchesi/search-for-truth-over-what-happened-to-giulio-regeni">The search for truth over what happened to Giulio Regeni</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/north-africa-west-asia/gilbert-achcar/shame-on-those-who-try-to-justify-giulio-regeni-s-assassination">Shame on those who try to justify Giulio Regeni’s assassination</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/north-africa-west-asia/giuseppe-acconcia/regeni-victim-of-regime-of-fear">Regeni: victim of a regime of fear</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/north-africa-west-asia/karim-zidan/ultras-in-mourning-how-massacre-revolutionary-aftermath-and-politics-kill">Ultras in mourning: how a massacre, revolutionary aftermath and politics killed Egyptian football</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/north-africa-west-asia/mozn-hassan/what-has-azza-done-azza-soliman-unique-feminist-at-risk">“What has Azza done?”: Azza Soliman, a unique feminist at risk</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/north-africa-west-asia/alaa-abdel-fattah/letter-from-alaa">A letter from Alaa</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/north-africa-west-asia/maged-mandour/untouchables-egypt-s-petty-security-officials">The untouchables: Egypt’s petty security officials</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/north-africa-west-asia/aya-nader/insecurity-under-egypts-security-forces">Insecurity under Egypt&#039;s ‘security’ forces</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-country"> <div class="field-label"> Country or region:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Egypt </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-topics"> <div class="field-label">Topics:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Civil society </div> <div class="field-item even"> Conflict </div> <div class="field-item odd"> Democracy and government </div> <div class="field-item even"> International politics </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> North Africa, West Asia North-Africa West-Asia Egypt Civil society Conflict Democracy and government International politics human rights human rights abuses arms trade Wael Eskandar You tell us Violent transitions Egypt in the balance Sun, 14 May 2017 12:19:55 +0000 Wael Eskandar 110859 at https://www.opendemocracy.net “Women and Children First”: war, humanitarianism, and the refugee crisis https://www.opendemocracy.net/north-africa-west-asia/joanna-rozpedowski/women-and-children-first-war-humanitarianism-and-refugee-crisis <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Is a rethinking of laws of armed conflict or international humanitarian law, humanitarian assistance and refugee policy not significantly overdue? </p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/549460/PA-22593315.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title="Depo Photos/ABACA/PA Images. All rights reserved."><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/549460/PA-22593315.jpg" alt="Depo Photos/ABACA/PA Images. All rights reserved." title="Depo Photos/ABACA/PA Images. All rights reserved." class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" width="460" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Kobani, Syria, March, 2015. Depo Photos/ABACA/PA Images. All rights reserved.</span></span></span>According to the 2016 Syrian Center for Policy Research Report, the war in Syria has claimed more than 470,000 direct and indirect casualties and victims since it began in 2011. While 400,000 deaths have been caused by violence or direct participation in the theatre of war, 70,000 were caused by indirect consequences of conflict such as food scarcity, malnutrition, poor sanitation, and communicable diseases. &nbsp;</p><p>South Sudan’s civil war and its cycle of retaliatory killings, abductions, and displacement <a href="http://www.aljazeera.com/news/2016/03/tens-thousands-killed-south-sudan-war-160303054110110.html">have left behind </a>a trail of 50,000 victims and some 200,000 in need of shelter while the ongoing conflict between Houthi rebels and an Arab coalition led by Saudi Arabia has, <a href="http://www.aljazeera.com/news/2017/01/death-toll-yemen-conflict-passes-10000-170117040849576.html">according</a> to the UN humanitarian aid office, resulted in 10,000 civilian deaths, 40,000 injuries, and 10 million people in need of “urgent assistance.” </p><p>The all to frequent state collapse, protracted conflicts, civil wars, ongoing violence, skirmishes, and instability in Afghanistan, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Iraq, Nigeria, Pakistan, and Somalia paint a picture of a world in the midst of a serious crisis of conscience, which puts the efficacy of political global governance bodies, international organizations, and governing international legal regimes in question. &nbsp;</p><p class="mag-quote-right">our conflict-ridden twenty-first century has yet to make good on the lofty promises <em>qua</em> actionable rights enshrined in international law, particularly women and children. </p> <p>While convention and treaty law has over the last fifty years vigorously extended the normative framework for action and offered protections to the most vulnerable members of society while also preserving principles of equality and non-discrimination under law, our conflict-ridden twenty-first century has yet to make good on the lofty promises <em>qua</em> actionable rights enshrined in international law, particularly with regards towomen and children. </p><p>It is worth asking, therefore, whether a rethinking of laws of armed conflict or international humanitarian law, humanitarian assistance and refugee policy - which would emphasize a “Women and Children First” approach as opposed to&nbsp; monolithic “non-combatant”/”civilian” versus “combatant” distinctions in present-day use in pre-conflict, conflict, post-conflict and evacuation situations - is not significantly overdue. </p> <p>In the inter- and intra- state wars mentioned above and numerous others left out, women and children are the most common, helpless and defenseless victims of conflict, who suffer debilitating long-term consequences. Whilst severe conflict, state failure, civil and ethnic wars increase male mortality due to direct participation, female mortality is a result of indirect armed conflict participation with devastating public health impacts. </p><p>Women suffer disproportionately <a href="http://file.prio.no/Publication_files/Prio/Armed%20Conflict%20Deaths%20Disaggregated%20by%20Gender.pdf">due to</a> “disability; poor living conditions; malnutrition; sexual disease; pregnancy related diseases and intentional injury” in conflict and post-conflict scenarios. Post-traumatic stress disorder, anxiety, depression and suicide are among some of the more crippling mental health conditions. </p><p>Sexual violence, rape, the ‘burden of caring for others’, which increases in times of conflict, makes women a particularly vulnerable at risk demographic, which imperils the lives and futures of their children and carries generational effects. </p><p>The World Health Report 2001, <a href="http://file.prio.no/Publication_files/Prio/Armed%20Conflict%20Deaths%20Disaggregated%20by%20Gender.pdf">estimated</a> that ‘310,000 deaths [in 2000 alone] were directly caused by conflict’ and an average of 4.75 years of life are lost due to direct armed violence or premature mortality caused by conflict.’ </p><p>Humanitarian NGOs estimate that during the last ten years, an estimated 10 million children have also been killed as a result of armed conflicts, while the young survivors have been left traumatized, exploited, wounded, mutilated or disabled. </p><p>Separation from parents and the extended family makes children vulnerable to sexual victimization and civilian targets of antipersonnel mine and cluster bomb maiming in addition to involuntary enlistment as child soldiers or imprisonment and forced labor. Lack of access to healthcare, basic sanitation, and education has irreversible lifetime consequences. </p><p class="mag-quote-left">Whilst the Bubonic plague has been the inordinately tragic disease of the fourteenth century, it may be said that modern-day conflict is the plague of choice of ours.</p> <p>In view of the above, international instruments, UN declarations, treaties, and enforcement mechanisms have severely failed in ensuring a minimum standard of protection to civilian population - including women and children - made all the more defenseless and endangered by cascading bouts of ever more sophisticated tools of extermination and brutal violence. </p><p>Despite the 2000 UN Security Council Resolution 1325 on “Women, Peace, and Security”, and the subsequent UNSCR 1820 (2008), 1888 and 1889 (2009) resolutions focused on gender-based violence in war, the international community’s ineptitude is made more pronounced by the staggering numbers of the very casualties and victims the international legal mechanisms have been designed to safeguard. </p><p>While the Bubonic plague is still regarded today as the&nbsp; inordinately tragic disease of the fourteenth century - in both scale and numbers - it may be said that modern-day conflict is the self-inflicted plague of choice of ours.</p> <p>In an age in which our moral compass has failed to show true North and increasing norm-relativism has led to absurdities in thought and demagoguery in action, a return to and an extension of a simple seafaring command of “Women and Children First” - first used in the sinking of HMS Birkenhead off the coast of South Africa on 26 February 1852 – to conflict zones and crisis situations may offer strong moral ground for resuscitating a normatively stagnant interest-ridden debate on the question of war and peace and help delineate a baseline of protection without which life of every man, woman, and child in war-zone follows a Hobbesian trajectory of being nothing but ‘nasty, brutish, and short’. </p><p>By prioritizing women and children in pre-conflict evacuation, conflict, post-conflict, and large-scale population and refugee migration scenarios can prevent states from barring conflict refugees on ‘national security’ grounds and widen the role of NGOs and humanitarian organizations to extend beyond the perilous and hard to reach conflict zones. </p><p>Strategically organized, coordinated, logistical rescue operations of women and children from conflict-affected areas, creation of safe zones with access to healthcare, and bestowal of a special protective status as (i) defenseless victims of violence; (ii) an especially vulnerable segment of civilian population; (iii) at risk of physical harm and psychological trauma, can ensure the fulfillment of the minimum human rights and humanitarian assistance standards enacted by international bodies and state signatories and prevent loss of life of innocent civilians caught in crossfire or washed up on Europe’s inhospitable shores. </p> <p>If our sophisticated legal norms and principles can no longer hold any compelling sway over the artificially inflated influence of the UN Security Council and its <em>liberum veto</em> approach to grave international security concerns, perhaps simpler times and shorter moral dicta can teach valuable lessons. </p><p>When <em>Central America </em>went down on a voyage to New York in 1857, the December issue of <em>Godey’s Lady’s Book </em>suggested to its reading audience a moral imperative, by summarizing the sinking of the ship thus: </p> <blockquote><p>"Captain Herndon's first order, 'Save the women and children!' was the test of this Christian heroism... Every man on board that doomed ship knew the captain was acting rightly."</p></blockquote><p> How shall we distinguish right from wrong; moral from immoral; just, principled and civilized from degrading and barbaric in the modern day spectacle of political collusion and war? Simply, by how much worth accrues to the weakest members of society encapsulated in the understated and long forgotten maritime distress call of ‘Save the women and children’ first.</p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/lucy-fiske-rita-shackel/internally-displaced-women-social-rupture-and-political-voice">Internally displaced women: social rupture and political voice </a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/bina-fernandez/precarious-migrant-motherhood-in-lebanon">Precarious migrant motherhood in Lebanon </a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/yasemin-mert/dangerous-journeys-women-migrants-in-turkey">Dangerous journeys: violence against women migrants in Turkey</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/julienne-lusenge-jennifer-allsopp/we-want-peace-we%E2%80%99re-tired-of-war">&quot;We want peace. We’re tired of war&quot;</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/madeleine-rees/gender-war-and-peace">Gender, war and peace: &quot;We the people.&quot;</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-country"> <div class="field-label"> Country or region:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Syria </div> <div class="field-item even"> Yemen </div> <div class="field-item odd"> South Sudan </div> <div class="field-item even"> Afghanistan </div> <div class="field-item odd"> Iraq </div> <div class="field-item even"> Democratic Republic of the Congo </div> <div class="field-item odd"> Nigeria </div> <div class="field-item even"> Pakistan </div> <div class="field-item odd"> Somalia </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-topics"> <div class="field-label">Topics:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Civil society </div> <div class="field-item even"> Conflict </div> <div class="field-item odd"> Democracy and government </div> <div class="field-item even"> International politics </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> North Africa, West Asia North-Africa West-Asia Somalia Pakistan Nigeria Democratic Republic of the Congo Iraq Afghanistan South Sudan Yemen Syria Civil society Conflict Democracy and government International politics Sexual Violence gender-based violence refugees Women human rights Joanna Rozpedowski Violent transitions Sat, 06 May 2017 11:40:17 +0000 Joanna Rozpedowski 110669 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Bahrain: “Undeclared Martial Law” https://www.opendemocracy.net/north-africa-west-asia/husain-abdulla/bahrain-undeclared-martial-law <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>The outright militarization of the security apparatus has infected more and more sectors of Bahraini society. In fact, it’s now been written into the country’s constitution itself. </p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/549460/PA-30699968.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title="NurPhoto/SIPA USA/PA Images. All rights reserved."><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/549460/PA-30699968.jpg" alt="NurPhoto/SIPA USA/PA Images. All rights reserved." title="NurPhoto/SIPA USA/PA Images. All rights reserved." class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" width="460" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Clashes after the death of a young Bahraini after being shot outside the home of the Shiite leader in Bahrain on March 25, 2017. NurPhoto/SIPA USA/PA Images. All rights reserved.</span></span></span>Six years ago, <em>New York Times</em> journalist Nicholas Kristof <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2011/12/15/opinion/kristof-getting-detained-and-gassed.html">described</a> his experience of being detained during the aftermath of Bahrain’s Arab Spring protests as a glimpse “through a haze of tear gas, [at] hints of a police state.”</p> <p>Kristof explained how even medical personnel like Dr. Ali al-Ekri – momentarily at liberty but facing lengthy imprisonment – were tortured and prosecuted for treating injured demonstrators. Noting that if it were Syria or Iran perpetrating such abuses “the White House would thunder with indignation,” Kristof implored the US condemn just as strongly the repression of allies like Bahrain. </p> <p>Unfortunately, he could’ve written those same words yesterday.</p> <p>But that’s not to say nothing’s changed. Since 2011, the “hints of a police state” have metastasized. While Dr. al-Ekri <a href="https://www.adhrb.org/2017/03/dr-ali-al-ekri-completes-sentence-released-prison/">endured five years</a> in prison, his profession – healthcare – has come under the direct control of the military. Police now run the ambulance service. </p> <p>The incessant expansion of the security apparatus – or outright militarization – has infected more and more sectors of Bahraini society. In fact, it’s now been written into the country’s constitution itself. </p><p>On 3 April 2017, Bahrain’s king confirmed a constitutional <a href="http://www.aljazeera.com/news/2017/04/bahrain-approves-military-trials-civilians-170403112831237.html">amendment</a> that had been long in the making, already approved by both houses of the kingdom’s rubberstamp parliament: military courts can now try civilians “accused of threatening the security of the state.”</p> <p>Previously, the 2002 constitution barred military courts from hearing cases against civilians unless the king had declared martial law or a State of National Safety. This is what took place in 2011, when the government established military tribunals to expedite the conviction of protestors, human rights defenders, doctors, and politicians. </p> <p>By the end – after a masterclass in authoritarian judicial theater replete with forced testimony and boxes of unsealed, unregistered evidence – hundreds were imprisoned on charges stemming from free expression, association, and assembly.</p> <p>The kangaroo courts were so blatant in their violations of due process that the <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/husain-abdulla/clueless-of-clever-bahrai_b_4306645.html">US-hailed</a> <a href="http://www.bici.org.bh/">Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry (BICI)</a> urged the government to order immediate reviews by civilian judges and ultimately commute all convictions “where fundamental principles of fair trial were not respected” and “for offences involving political expression.” </p> <p>A year later, at its second-cycle <a href="http://www.ohchr.org/EN/HRBodies/UPR/Pages/BHSession13.aspx">UN Universal Periodic Review of Human Rights</a>, Bahrain accepted numerous recommendations from other states reiterating these proposals, including one from Ireland calling for the express prohibition of “civilians being tried in military courts in the future.”</p> <p>Now, rather than fulfill any one of these reform obligations, the government has chosen to take the country down a path of unprecedented regression away from democracy – making militarized autocracy part of the fabric of the state. Activists have simply <a href="https://www.nytimes.com/2017/03/05/world/bahrains-parliament-approves-military-trials-for-civilians.html">described</a> the development as “undeclared martial law.” </p><p>Yet the amendment doesn’t necessarily come as a surprise to those familiar with recent trends in the Bahraini criminal justice and security sectors. </p> <p>As noted above, the government has increasingly integrated the security apparatus into key aspects of society and even basic public services, like healthcare. In January 2017 – the same month King Hamad reportedly proposed the military court amendment – the authorities also <a href="http://www.adhrb.org/2017/01/11571/">restored</a> domestic arrest powers for the National Security Agency (NSA), Bahrain’s secret police.</p> <p>Like the amendment, this decision both expanded the role of the security forces in everyday affairs and contravened a previous reform commitment. In fact, the government’s earlier move to strip the NSA of arrest powers after its involvement in systematic torture, arbitrary detention, and extrajudicial killing in 2011 was <a href="http://www.adhrb.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/11/Shattering_the_Facade_Web.pdf">one of just two</a> BICI recommendations that had been fully implemented.</p> <p>Within weeks of the NSA’s re-empowerment, we were given a violent illustration of the deepening military state in Bahrain, as well as the intersection of these various outgrowths of the existing structure of surveillance and intimidation.</p> <p>Sometime on the night of 26 January 2017, security personnel – dressed in the black masks and plainclothes that were features of NSA squads in 2011 – entered the village of Diraz and took up positions near the home of Sheikh Isa Qassim, Bahrain’s most prominent Shia cleric. </p> <p>In June 2016, after the government announced it had <a href="http://www.adhrb.org/2016/11/bahraini-authorities-continue-target-sheikh-isa-qassim/">stripped</a> Sheikh Qassim of his citizenship and begun prosecuting him on charges stemming from traditional religious practices, hundreds of demonstrators launched a peaceful sit-in around his home. Bahraini security forces have since <a href="http://www.adhrb.org/2016/07/10390/">cordoned</a> off the village and restricted access for non-residents, even imposing internet shutdowns and other near-siege tactics. </p> <p>But this night, the authorities approached the tents as demonstrators were sleeping and <a href="https://www.adhrb.org/2017/03/18-year-old-mustafa-hamdan-dies-security-forces-shooting/">opened fire</a> with live ammunition. Mustafa Hamdan, 18 years old, was shot in the back of the head. A nearby paramedic attempted to provide emergency care, but the wound was too severe. Afraid to call the ambulance service, now run by the police, Hamdan was rushed to a private hospital. </p> <p>However, once there, the staff said they were under orders to withhold treatment for suspected demonstrators until authorities were present. Desperate, with Hamdan losing blood, his brother took him to Bahrain’s largest public hospital, now administered by the military. By the time he arrived – and while his brother was interrogated by security personnel – Hamdan had slipped into a coma. He died last month. </p><p>The paramedic who treated Hamdan at the scene was arrested and reportedly remains detained.</p> <p>This is the face of Bahrain’s new military state: a teenager shot dead by secret police, denied medical care by a securitized hospital system, and his paramedic likely awaiting trial before a secret tribunal. Notably, this is also the same military that the <a href="https://www.bloomberg.com/politics/articles/2017-03-29/top-general-says-human-rights-shouldn-t-hold-up-u-s-arms-sales">US</a> and <a href="http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3884132/Britain-opens-permanent-military-base-Middle-East-40-years-New-30million-Royal-Navy-facility-launch-Bahrain-month.html">UK</a> have rewarded with new arms sales and increased cooperation. </p><p>In the absence of strong and concerted international censure, the militarization process will only continue. One can only imagine what sector will be next – education? Commerce? Athletics?</p> <p>If this comes to pass, the next time King Hamad <a href="http://www.gettyimages.com/event/george-w-bush-in-bahrain-78870945#president-george-w-bush-shares-a-laugh-with-bahraini-king-hamad-bin-picture-id136358422">dons a military uniform</a> he’ll no longer have to pretend he’s running a ‘constitutional monarchy’ – he’ll have turned Bahrain into yet another military dictatorship.</p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/north-africa-west-asia/husain-abdulla/art-of-deal-in-arab-gulf-how-trump-could-strike-new-bargain-with-bahra">‘The Art of the Deal’ in the Arab Gulf: how Trump could strike a new bargain with Bahrain</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/north-africa-west-asia/sam-jones/prosecuting-politics-judicial-assault-on-bahrain-s-opposition">Prosecuting politics: the judicial assault on Bahrain’s opposition</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/north-africa-west-asia/karim-zidan/fight-sports-diplomacy-bahrain-s-mma-venture-distracts-from-tension-human">Sports diplomacy: Bahrain’s martial arts venture distracts from human rights abuses </a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/north-africa-west-asia/sam-jones/democratic-doublespeak-in-bahrain-how-government-spins-its-summer-of-repres">‘Democratic’ doublespeak in Bahrain: how the government spins its summer of repression</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-country"> <div class="field-label"> Country or region:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Bahrain </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-topics"> <div class="field-label">Topics:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Democracy and government </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> North Africa, West Asia North-Africa West-Asia Bahrain Democracy and government Husain Abdulla Violent transitions Mon, 01 May 2017 18:09:49 +0000 Husain Abdulla 110526 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Towards an inclusive and pluralistic citizenship in Syria https://www.opendemocracy.net/north-africa-west-asia/joseph-daher/towards-inclusive-and-pluralistic-citizenship-in-syria <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Talk about building a new form of citizenship in Syria might seem unrealistic today, but in fact, it should be seen as a long-term strategy.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/562712/8647281373_3c4f395205_o.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/562712/8647281373_3c4f395205_o.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="345" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>“Syria for everyone”, picture taken in Raqqa in April 2013. Picture by Beshr Abdulhadi. Flickr.com (CC BY 2.0). Some rights reserved.</span></span></span>The war in Syria has had important consequences in the country in terms of rising sectarianism and racism. In this in-depth article, I demonstrate the importance of a dynamic and open understanding of citizenship. </p><h3>Citizenship between theory and practice </h3><p>Firstly, the concept of citizenship should not be understood as a fixed concept, but as constantly in flux. Citizenship is not a universally accepted concept, but differs from one country to another. Some people limit the concept of citizenship to nationality, some to political rights, while others go further to include socio-economic, education, national and cultural rights. "Liberal" systems for example have always resisted giving legal (and constitutional) expression to the inclusion of social rights, such as health care for all, thereby limiting their understanding of citizenship to the right to vote and respect for private property. </p><p>At the same time, there is conflict between theory, and practice. For example, the French Revolution greeted women as "citizens" (citoyennes), but they had to wait until 1945 (in France) before their complete political rights were recognized. Similarly, France, and other western countries, continued the process of colonization and denied the rights to people in their colonies. Also today, stateless people and refugees are most often denied any rights pertaining to citizenships, and are not even treated as human beings. </p><p>I argue that citizenship should not be linked to the issue of nationality. A person living and working in a country, whether holding its nationality or not, should be extended all the rights as other citizens. This for example would allow Palestinians in Syria, who had been living for more than 60 years in the country, to participate in all sectors of society, in elections, etc… Indeed how can we demand from Palestinians in Syria to take side with the objectives of the uprising while not allowing them to participate in the future of the society? </p><p class="mag-quote-left">The struggle for an inclusive and pluralistic concept of citizenship is a continuous one</p><p>The difference in the forms of citizenship and its understanding are rooted in socio-economic and political conditions and reflect the balance of social forces in a particular society. History shows that this is a transforming concept with no precise definition, that has always been at stake in struggles. Any broadening of citizenship to include social, economic, cultural and national rights has been the result of successful struggles from below including economic civil rights, voting, unionizing, civil rights, gender equality, etc. all were the result of numerous struggles. The dominant ruling classes never willingly gave in to demands. We can see this particularly with the Assad regime’s four decade long repression of the Syrian population’s political, social, economic and national rights. </p> <p>However, the improvements and broadening of rights in the concept of citizenship is not linear. We see this clearly today in Europe with the continuous rise of racism and islamophobia. Neoliberal policies limiting the political, social and cultural rights of people, particularly Muslim populations with the veil ban in French schools or the imposition of a particular identity linked to a so-called Christian and Jewish common heritage and culture, are all examples of how citizenship is becoming more excluding. </p><p>The struggle for an inclusive and pluralistic concept of citizenship is a continuous one. Philosophers like Jacques Rancière and Hannah Arendt define democracy as a process of permanent anti-oligarchic “insurrection” rather than as a stable regime. Citizenship, is no different and requires a permanent struggle to eliminate all forms of exclusion, whether cultural, social, ethnic, or religious, etc… </p><p>In order to build an inclusive and pluralistic citizenship in Syria, it is important to clearly point out the responsibilities of the current situation in the country. The Assad regime is the main actor responsible for the killing, displacement and destruction as well as being the key in the rise of sectarianism and racism in the country. Assad’s regime was accustomed to playing the “sectarian card” and more generally “primordial identities” (racism and tribalism) to divide the Syrian people and put the different groups against each other in order to maintain its rule. </p><p>In fact, the regime is far from being secular, as presented by some. It has promoted a constitution with an Arab chauvinist discourse, reserving the position of President to the Muslim faith, while in 2012 Islamic jurisprudence became a primary source of legislation, instead of a main source of legislation. These are only some of the many examples that show the lack of any kind of secular nature of this regime. </p><p>Since the first days of the uprising, the regime has targeted the peaceful, non sectarian and democratic activists. Many of them were arrested and tortured to death in prisons, others had to flee the country out of fear of the repression while others were killed. Meanwhile, the regime released Islamic fundamentalist groups and allowed their development at the expense of democratic groups. </p><p class="mag-quote-right">Today no major political or armed force in Syria is offering an inclusive and pluralistic project of citizenship. </p><p>This being said, foreign actors such as Iran, Turkey, or the Gulf Monarchies, as well as sections of the opposition in exile gathered around first the Syrian National Council (SNC), then the Etilaf, and Islamic fundamentalist movements have also played a role in the rise of sectarianism by deepening the divisions among various ethnic and religious groups in the country during the uprising. </p><p>Today no major political or armed force in Syria is offering an inclusive and pluralistic project of citizenship. The High Negotiations Commission (HNC) for the Syrian Revolution and Opposition Forces has failed in reflecting the democratic and inclusive message of the revolutionaries and the popular movement since the beginning of the uprising. In Autumn 2016, its vision within an Executive Framework for the Political Solution in Syria that was far from offering an inclusive and pluralistic citizenship as we can see in its first article: </p><p class="blockquote-new">“Syria is an integral part of the Arab World, and Arabic is the official language of the state. Arab Islamic culture represents a fertile source for intellectual production and social relations amongst all Syrians of different ethnic backgrounds and religious beliefs as the majority of Syrians are Arabs and followers of Islam and its tolerant message which is distinctly moderate”. </p><p>This is of course exclusionary for all ethnic and religious minorities in the country, in addition to all people not identifying with these identities. The Etilaf and many of the personalities linked to it have also promoted a sectarian, racist (particularly against Kurds), and authoritarian discourses and behaviors. Similarly, when it comes to women, the Etilaf has completely neglected their large participation in the uprising, providing them with only “decorative positions” without any effective role in the decision making process. </p><p>The various Islamic fundamentalist movements (such as the jihadist organization of Jabhat Fateh al-Sham, the salafist organisations Ahrar al Sham and the Islam Army, as well as others such as the Muslin Brotherhood who call for a civil state but in practice support the creation of an Islamic state with the implementation of Shari’a) defend an Islamic State despite their differences on how to reach this objective or the nature of this state. This is of course an exclusionary project for various groups such as religious minorities, women, or those who have a different understanding of Islam, etc… Their sectarian and authoritarian practices have also confirmed this pattern. </p><p class="mag-quote-left">For a big majority of Kurdish political parties and activists, Rojava is only a new form of authoritarianism rather than democratic confederalism in action</p><p>The last main actor is the Democratic Union Party (PYD), which is more complex to analyze, but in my mind did not provide an inclusive and pluralistic citizenship model, despite its “social contract” and political discourse promoting theoretically these ideas. In the areas controlled by the PYD, there has been progressive advances that must be acknowledged such as the promotion of women rights and gender equality, secularisation of laws and institutions, and to a certain extent some forms of coexistence between the various ethnicities and religious sects, despite some tensions. </p><p>The possibilities for the Kurdish people, long oppressed in Syria, to manage territories in which they are a majority is another positive thing in the framework of support for their self-determination. However, without entering into details there are a series of problems. Institutions in PYD controlled areas, such as Rojava for instance, have been dominated by PYD-affiliated organisations, with an assortment of Arab, Syriac and Assyrian personalities who had little to lose from entering the project. </p><p>For a big majority of Kurdish political parties and activists, Rojava is only a new form of authoritarianism rather than democratic confederalism in action. At the same time, these new institutions lack legitimacy among large sections of the Syrian Arabs in these areas, although an Arab president had to be elected to the male/female joint presidency of the town’s local council. For instance Shaykh Humaydi Daham al-Jarba, the head of a tribal Arab militia and outspoken supporter of the Assad regime, was nominated as the governor of the Jazirah canton in Rojava in 2014. His son became the commander of the al-Sanadid Forces, one of the main Arab militias fighting alongside the PYD-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF). Prominence of tribal leaders in the Rojava institution was also preserved, rather than challenged. </p><p>Furthermore, human rights violations against Arab, Assyrian and Kurdish civilians have also been documented in the area. The authoritarianism of the PYD was demonstrated in its repression and imprisonment of activists, political opponents and the closure of critical organizations or institutions. Lately, this repression against other Kurdish political groups and activists has even increased. </p><p>This is why I believe that there is no significant political movement today, which is providing an inclusive and pluralistic citizenship able to unite the various components of the Syrian people. In my opinion, to reach a broad understanding of citizenship including the social, political, national and economic rights of the Syrian people, three main issues must be tackled: political rights (democracy, self organization and equality), socio-economic rights (social justice and inequality) and the issue of self determination of the Kurdish people in Syria. I have chosen these issues because they are based on the political and social experiences accumulated by large sections of the Syrian people involved in the uprising in the past five years. </p><h3>Democracy and equality </h3><p>In the first two years of the uprising, the dominant message from the large popular movement with its demonstrations and statements was an inclusive and democratic discourse that is not threatening for a majority of Syrians. This movement challenged the rhetoric of the regime as being the only barrier against extremism. In addition to this, the local councils and coordination committees played the role of an alternative institution to the state by providing services to local populations, and created a situation of dual power where the authority of the state disappeared. These two elements created the conditions to present a political alternative appealing for large sections of the population with the capacity to become hegemonic against the propaganda of the regime portraying them as a foreign and sectarian conspiracy. </p><p class="mag-quote-center">Participation from below, by the underprivileged and popular classes in managing their societies at all levels has been the most significant element in the uprising.</p><p>Experiences of participation of local populations in decisions pertaining to society at all levels multiplied. The experiences of the “liberated” areas and local popular councils are in this perspective something to maintain in any concept of citizenship. In fact. participation from below, by the underprivileged and popular classes in managing their societies at all levels has been the most significant element in the uprising. </p><p>According to a survey by the independent Syrian-led civil society organization The Day After Tomorrow (TDA), conducted between November 2015 and January 2016, the population actually wanted to maintain this experience. This is visible in the expressed support for some form of decentralization in a way to, </p><p class="blockquote-new">“endorse the allocation of broad competencies to local authorities, and this support explicitly increases in opposition-held areas (if) compared with regime-controlled areas. It seems that the absence of the state in opposition-held areas has contributed to increased support for decentralization, and the spread of positive perceptions about it (…) (especially) the idea that it enhances ‘participation in governance’ tops the list of advantages.”</p><p>The issue of equality must also be put forward in order to challenge the patriarchal structures of society. In the first two years of the uprising, the involvement and participation of women was a very important element, breaking many conservative social codes and overcoming traditional barriers. Female activists often agree that the beginning of the revolution opened the door for women to challenge restrictive social conventions, whether they were legal, familial, religious or social. On Women’s Day, March 8, 2012, the female activists of the youth movement Nabd for example issued a statement that read: </p><p class="blockquote-new">“We, the revolutionary women of Syria, address the regime on Women’s Day saying: Our revolution will continue until we have each and every single one of our usurped rights, like a woman’s right to nominate herself for presidency and to grant her nationality to her children”. </p><p>Political rights guaranteeing the participation and self-organization of local populations at all levels of society must be guaranteed in a new concept of citizenship, and not limited to the right to vote and choose its representatives in elections every few years. Similarly, the issue of equality must also be put at the center of any new struggle for a pluralistic and inclusive citizenship. </p><h3>Social Justice </h3><p>Social justice and the redistribution of wealth in the country is another necessary step towards an inclusive citizenship that should not be limited to the upper class in urban centers. </p><p class="mag-quote-right">Regional structural injustices existed before the uprising in 2011</p><p>Before the uprising, the upper class and foreign investors were satisfied with the state’s neoliberal policies. This was especially true for investors from the Gulf monarchies and Turkey, which were not hostile to the Assad regime prior to the revolution, at the expense of the vast majority of Syrians, who were hit by inflation and the rising cost of living, while public services and investments (health care, education, housing) were diminished considerably. </p><p>Regional structural injustices existed before the uprising in 2011 and increased with the accelerated adoption of neoliberal policies by the regime of Bashar al-Asad. On the eve of the upheaval, the proportion of poor people was higher in rural areas (62%) than in urban ones (38%). Poverty was more widespread, more rooted and more marked (58.1%) in the north-west and north-east (the provinces of Idlib, Aleppo, Raqqa, Deir Ez-Zor and al-Hasakah), where 45% of the population lived. Just over half (54.2%) of all unemployment was found in rural areas. </p><p>In addition to this, before the beginning of the popular uprising, the geographic concentration of business was as follows: </p><p>Governorates distribution for micro enterprises (less than 5 workers):</p> <p>– Damascus and Rural Damascus: 27.36%</p> <p>– Aleppo 21.72%</p> <p>– Homs 9.93%</p> <p>– Hama 6.06%</p> <p>– other governorates 34.93% (10 other governorates)</p> <p>while governorates distribution for small enterprises (between 5 to 14 workers)</p> <p>– Damascus and Rural Damascus: 29.40%</p> <p>– Aleppo 41.55%</p> <p>– Homs 5.89%</p> <p>– Hama 4.70%</p> <p>– other governorates 18.46% </p> <p>Foreign private investments were also concentrated in the two cities of Damascus and Aleppo in unproductive sectors (real estate, tourism, services such as bank insurance companies), while other regions and rural areas were left out of any kind of economic development and of provision of services. In addition to this the most impoverished areas of the country were the areas mostly populated by Kurds such as in the north-eastern Jazirah province. Jazirah was the region with the highest level of illiteracy and poverty, hosting 58% of the country’s impoverished population before the occurrence of the 2006 drought. </p><p>In 2010, poverty increased considerably, reaching 80 per cent of the Jazirah inhabitants, as the impact of four consecutive droughts since 2006 had been dramatic for both small-scale farmers and herders. In addition to this, the Jazirah region produced two thirds of the country’s grains (and 70% of wheat) and three quarters of its hydrocarbons. Despite the industrial underdevelopment of the Jazirah, and the scarcity of industrial installations in the region, which accounted for only 7% of the overall sector, this plain was nevertheless important. For example, 69 percent of Syria’s cotton was produced in the region, but only 10 percent of cotton threads were spun there. Of course, all ethnic groups in the area, Arabs, Syriacs-Assyrians, and Kurds, suffered from economic marginalization. </p><p class="mag-quote-right">There has been a continuous impoverishment of rural areas since the 1980s</p><p>The most important component of the Syrian uprising was actually that of economically marginalized rural workers, and urban employees and self-employed workers, who have borne the brunt of the implementation of neoliberal policies, in particular since the coming to power of Bashar al-Assad. The geography of the revolts in Idlib, Deraa and other mid towns, as well as in other rural areas, all historical strongholds of the Baath party, and which benefited from the policies of agricultural reforms in the sixties and had not played a large role in the insurgency of the early 1980s, including the suburbs of Damascus and Aleppo, showed the involvement of the victims of neoliberalism in this uprising. </p><p>There has been a continuous impoverishment of rural areas since the 1980s and the droughts from 2006 accelerated rural exodus. This situation was exacerbated by an annual population growth of around 2.5 percent. This growth affected particularly small rural mid towns, in which the population often multiplied by five to ten times since the 1980s, while public services provided by the state did not increase but rather diminished with the neoliberal policies, leading local populations to lack or witness a deterioration of their living conditions. In the main towns of Damascus and Aleppo, the geography of revolts was nearly similar to their socio-economic divisions. Many bourgeois and middle class Aleppo urbanites used to characterize the protesters in the first demonstrations at the university and rural Aleppo as “Abu Shehata” (derogatory term meaning literally “Father of slippers” insulting the social class of the protesters). </p><p>Similarly again, these neoliberal policies had particular and deep consequences on women, especially when it comes to their access to the labour market. The total number of women in the work force decreased since the mid 1980s, while it was growing before essentially because of the state controlled public economic sector. There was definitely an important gender dimension to the unemployment before the uprising in 2011, with unemployment rates among young women almost twice as high as those among young men. The unemployment rate in 2007 was estimated at 22.6% (14.5% for men, and 53% for women). The rate increased to 30.3%, if non-citizens are accounted for. </p><p>In addition, 50% of young women in Syria (aged between fifteen and twenty-nine) were neither in the labour force nor in school, suggesting potential barriers to labour market entry. Women’s participation in the labour force was 18%. Women lost around 50% of their total jobs between 2001 and 2007, and were pushed away from the labour force. The state-owned sector (government and state-owned companies) created 119,000 jobs between 2001 and 2007 (52% of which were for women); while the private formal sector lost 77,000 new jobs; men gained 77,000, but women lost 154,000. Most urban labour markets were mainly constituted by informal employment, with no social/maternity protection for women. By the year 2006, 25% of workers in the public sector were women, while in the private sector, only 8 percent were women. According to the 2008 labour force survey the majority of employed women (55%) work in the public sector. </p><p class="mag-quote-center">Neoliberal policies had particular and deep consequences on women, especially when it comes to their access to the labour market. </p><p>The issue of wealth redistribution in society and across the different regions will have to be tackled in any future political system in Syria. On this perspective, the Etilaf economic policies are problematic because they support the same neoliberal policies of the Assad regime against the interests of the underprivileged classes. The socio-economic injustices in the society and across regions must be linked to the democratic issue. </p><h3>The Kurdish Issue</h3><h3> </h3><p>It is absolutely necessary to tackle the Kurdish issue in order to be able to provide an inclusive and pluralistic citizenship embraced by all in Syria. The large majority of the Kurdish parties – as well as of the Kurdish population in Syria – are not satisfied by the way most Arab opposition political parties consider the Kurdish issue as simply and uniquely a citizenship issue. In other words, the Arab opposition believes that Kurds are normal Syrian citizens who have been deprived of some of their rights and that the problem is therefore limited to the single issue of the census of 1962, which resulted in around 120 000 Kurds being denied nationality and declared as foreigners, leaving them, and subsequently their children, denied of basic civil rights and condemned to poverty and discrimination. </p><p>There were between 250 000 and 300 000 stateless Kurds in the beginning of the revolution in March 2011, roughly 15 percent of the estimated two million total Kurdish population in Syria. The large majority of the opposition political parties have not been ready in any way to recognize the Kurds as a separate “people” or “nation” and are not ready nor willing to listen to demands for federalism and administrative decentralization. The demand for a federal system in Syria is a demand of the quasi majority of Kurdish parties in the country despite their political differences and rivalries. </p><p>We have to understand that the demand for a federal system by the Syrian Kurdish political parties is rooted in decades of state oppression, and this since the independence of the country in 1946, on a national basis (policies of quasi systematic discrimination against Kurds, policies of colonization in the framework of the “Arab Belt” and cultural repressions at all levels), but also has socio-economic consequences. </p><p>According to a survey conducted between November 2015 and January 2016 by the TDA, respondents in both regime (86.7%) and opposition-held areas (67,4%) agree on rejecting federalism, while proponents of federalism almost reach a consensus in Kurdish-led Self-Administration areas (79.6%). These results show that a Kurdish-Arab divide exists and that the first imperative regarding any future political system in Syria is dealing with the “Kurdish issue”, although it is not the only requirement. </p><p class="mag-quote-center">No solution for the Kurdish issue or an inclusive Syria can be found without recognizing the Kurds as a proper “people” or “nation” in Syria</p><p>The majority of the Syrian Arab opposition did not address or even acknowledge this reality, thereby mirroring the regime’s position. </p><p>In general, no solution for the Kurdish issue or an inclusive Syria can be found without recognizing the Kurds as a proper “people” or “nation” in Syria and providing unconditional support to the self-determination of the Kurdish people in Syria and elsewhere; this clearly does not mean being uncritical of the policies of the leadership of the PYD or any other Kurdish political party. </p><p>The elimination of the Kurdish issue from the discussions under the pretext that it allows more unity within the opposition and less problems, is actually a recipe for division and lack of confidence between the various components of the Syrian people. </p><p>By recognizing the Kurdish people we make a move forward towards building a new society and citizenship not based on an ethnicity, but one that recognized the various peoples constituting Syria: Armenians, Palestinians, Syriacs, Assyrians, Turkmens, etc.... </p><h3>Conclusion</h3><h3> </h3><p>The basis for any future inclusive and pluralistic citizenship in Syria must include the democratic and social empowerment of the popular classes to manage their own societies. </p><p>In this perspective, a possible decentralized and/or federal state could best answer some of the issues discussed in this article, notably by respecting the principle of self determination of the Kurdish population in providing more tools and power to manage their affairs, on the one hand, and in trying to correct regional social injustices, on the other. Such an option would also strengthen participation and self-organisation from local populations in decision-making processes. </p><p>However, the implementation of a decentralized or federal state is not a guarantee per se to achieve an inclusive and democratic system. Indeed, all future options in Syria, whether federal, decentralized or otherwise, will need to take into account these issues in a secular political framework encouraging the participation from below of the popular classes and in which democratic and social rights of all Syrians without gender, ethnic and religious discrimination are guaranteed. This means notably providing the popular classes with the right to organize politically in their workplaces, society, and neighborhoods, and to defend their interests. </p><p>This is also the only way to prevent foreign states from instrumentalizing particular religious sects or ethnicities for their own political interests, while fueling sectarianism and racism. </p><p>Reaching these goals requires new struggles at all levels of society when it comes to democratic, social and national issues. This also requires working towards the unity of democratic and progressive actors and movements against the different counter revolutionary forces, whether these are the authoritarian regimes or the Islamic fundamentalist movements. There is therefore a need to build an independent front away from these two forms of reactionary forces and against all forms of discrimination. Such a struggle for radical change in society is a dynamic from below in which the popular sectors of society are the agent of change. </p><p>The issue at the core of building a new inclusive and pluralistic citizenship is to protect the freedom and dignity of the people as the popular movements have demanded since the beginning of the uprisings in the Middle East and North Africa in 2010-2011, including in Syria, against authoritarian and unjust regimes.</p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/north-africa-west-asia/andres-barkil-oteo/agency-and-hope-helping-communities-healing-themselves">Agency and hope: helping communities healing themselves</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/north-africa-west-asia/hammoud-hammoud/political-islam-syria-war-islamist">عقدة الإسلام السياسي السوري وعقدة مستقبله</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/joseph-daher/revolution-and-counter-revolution-in-syria-part-i">Revolution and counter-revolution in Syria (Part I)</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/joseph-daher/syria-grassroots-democracy-future-prospects-part-ii">Syria: grassroots democracy, future prospects (Part II)</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/maria-al-abdeh/syria-instumentalising-women-s-rights">Conflict in Syria: stop instrumentalising women’s rights</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/loubna-mrie/aleppos-forgotten-revolutionaries">Aleppo&#039;s forgotten revolutionaries</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-country"> <div class="field-label"> Country or region:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Syria </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-topics"> <div class="field-label">Topics:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Civil society </div> <div class="field-item even"> Conflict </div> <div class="field-item odd"> Democracy and government </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> North Africa, West Asia North-Africa West-Asia Syria Civil society Conflict Democracy and government revolution citizenship World Forum for Democracy 2017 Joseph Daher Violent transitions Through Syrian eyes Revolution Fri, 28 Apr 2017 16:20:47 +0000 Joseph Daher 110490 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Iraqi Kurdistan: from democratic consensus to de facto autocracy https://www.opendemocracy.net/north-africa-west-asia/frzand-abdullah/how-isil-war-changed-political-system-in-iraqi-kurdistan-from-democra <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Due to the war with ISIL and international support, the Kurdistan region is currently run by an autocratic administration under the influence of neighboring countries.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/549460/PA-30209216.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title="Liewig Christian/ABACA/ABACA/PA Images. All rights reserved."><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/549460/PA-30209216.jpg" alt="Liewig Christian/ABACA/ABACA/PA Images. All rights reserved." title="Liewig Christian/ABACA/ABACA/PA Images. All rights reserved." class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" width="460" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>French President Francois Hollande receives the President of the Iraqi Kurdistan Region Massoud Barzani for talks at the Elysee Palace in Paris, France on February 21, 2017. Liewig Christian/ABACA/ABACA/PA Images. All rights reserved.</span></span></span>The continuation of a <em>de facto</em> autocracy in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq has led to an extension of oligarchic authority and created a neglected nation, poor society, locked economy, and an irresponsible and corrupt government. </p><p>The persistence of this situation would direct Kurdistan politically into a one-party dominant violent system, administratively into a corrupt financial system, economically into a divided society between multi-billionaires and deprived classes, and security-wise into an unconstitutional cartel of armed groups and small-secure islands. </p><p>Socially, it would create undeveloped, conservative, and religious individuals; in terms of general living conditions, it would link income sources with loyalty to the dominant political family and party; and in terms of foreign relations, it would change the regional influence of Kurdistan into a critical, sanctified hegemony which secures the existence of and advantages for autocratic party leaders for a moderate to long period of time.</p> <h2><strong>Why did it happen?</strong></h2> <p>In June 2014, Jihadi Kurds, Arabs, and foreign ISIL militants seized Mosul. A Kurdistan presidential decree kept Peshmerga forces in a <a href="http://www.knwe.org/DirejeHewal.aspx?Jimare=22098&amp;Cor=1&amp;Besh=Hewal">defensive</a> posture rather than an offensive one. The public in Kurdistan was told that the Iraqi state had collapsed and that Kurdistan would hold an independence referendum so it could live in peace side-by-side with its new Takfiri neighbor as <a href="http://www.nuche.net/?p=14728">two independent states</a>. </p><p>The Kurdistan Regional Government’s (KRG) thinking on this issue derived from promises made by political and tribal Arab leaders who fled from Baghdad to Erbil to support Sunni Islamic resistance cells, led by ISIL and supported by regional Sunni states.</p> <p>The anti-ISIL international coalition significantly supported Kurdistan both politically and militarily. Presidents, vice presidents, prime ministers, defense and foreign ministers, military commanders, and intelligence officials from a majority of the countries in the anti-ISIL international coalition visited Kurdistan and provided political, military, financial, and logistical aid. </p><p>Exploiting all this support resourcefully could have advanced the Kurdistan region considerably. Instead, this political and military support was poorly utilized, inducing a suspension of the political process, a halt to economic growth and the administrative capacity of government, a loss of public trust in authority, and a change in the balance of power in Kurdistan.</p> <p>Most of the weapons, ammunition, and military equipment for the counterterrorism battle delivered to the KRG have been stored in political parties’ storerooms unlawfully; and some of these supplies were <a href="http://www.dengiamerika.com/a/2437724.html">distributed inequitably</a> on the war fronts to politically affiliated commanders. </p><p>This model of distributing international aid changed the <a href="http://www.sbeiy.com/Article-24139">balance of power</a> in Kurdistan and pulled the region backwards by almost twenty years to an era when outlawed military groups emerged and incited a civil war. Simultaneously, foreign officials’ visits to Kurdistan were interpreted as support for the KRG’s president. </p><p>As a result, the Kurdish administration abandoned its reform promises and halted planned democratic agreements. The president remained beyond the end of his term, parliament was suspended, the speaker of parliament was dismissed, and four ministers, including the <a href="http://www.sbeiy.com/Article-24188">Peshmerga Minister</a> during the counterterrorism war, were sent home. </p><p>Consequently, the economy collapsed and the ISIL war was used as a <a href="http://westganews.com/dreja.aspx?=hewal&amp;jmara=12779&amp;jor=1">scapegoat</a> for the deterioration of individual income and salary cuts of up to 75 percent and multiple month delays for civil servants. The lack of a budget paralyzed the government and people completely lost trust in the government’s authority, particularly given their knowledge of the billions of dollars of the KRG’s revenues stored abroad.</p> <p>This situation created a suitable environment for the growth of radical Islamism and for Salafi groups to develop swiftly. The three Islamic political parties in Kurdistan are now <a href="http://www.rudaw.net/mobile/sorani/kurdistan/2802201716">attempting to unite</a> against the liberal parties. The establishment of one Islamic front promises heaven to those stuck in the hell of an otherwise dysfunctional Kurdish world, attracting teenagers from poor and marginalized families, which could generate an uncertain future for Kurdistan’s security. </p><p>The formation of a society directed toward radicalism, a crippled political system, an inactive government cabinet, a weak economy, and a nation with no faith in administration has paved the way for the intervention of regional states in Kurdistan’s internal affairs, particularly as the Erbil administration has needed to secure its survival against the reactions of its protesting populace.</p> <p>Hence, Turkish economic influence in Kurdistan has changed dramatically, as Ankara not only took control of the Kurdistan region’s market, but also <a href="http://www.niqash.org/ku/articles/politics/3641/">secured transporting Kurdistan’s oil</a> to international markets for the next 50 years. Documents leaked by Kurdish media even revealed that some of the oil fields in Kurdistan have been <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lTj14JAY2Bk">sold to Turkey</a>. Turkey’s control over Kurdistan’s natural resources allows Ankara to consider Erbil’s security as part of its own strategic security, and manipulate Kurdish issues in Syria and Turkey through Erbil.&nbsp; </p><p>Iran has also started cashing in its regional influence for an active role on the ground. Tehran is working to control Kurdish areas covered by Article 140 of Iraqi Constitution—disputed oil rich areas—and <a href="https://issuu.com/awene/docs/554">snatch this land from Kurdish forces</a> using the Shi’a Popular Mobilization Forces. Iran is also working in <a href="http://azhans.krd/%D9%86%D8%A7%D8%B2%D9%85-%D8%AF%D9%87%E2%80%8C%D8%A8%D8%A7%D8%BA-%D8%A8%D9%87%E2%80%8C%D8%BA%D8%AF%D8%A7%D8%AF-%D9%88-%D8%AA%D8%A7%D8%B1%D8%A7%D9%86-%DA%95%D9%87%E2%80%8C%D8%B2%D8%A7%D9%85%D9%87/">cooperation with Russia</a> and the KRG to drill oil and gas in Kurdish fields, and export it to the international market. According to some sources in Kurdistan region, the KRG has proposed selling oil directly to <a href="http://azhans.krd/%DA%95%D9%88%D9%88%D8%B3%DB%8C%D8%A7-%D8%A8%DB%86-%D8%B3%DB%8E-%D8%B3%D8%A7%DA%B5-%D9%86%D9%87%E2%80%8C%D9%88%D8%AA%DB%8C-%D9%87%D9%87%E2%80%8C%D8%B1%DB%8E%D9%85%DB%8C-%D9%83%D9%88%D8%B1%D8%AF%D8%B3/">Russian firms</a>.</p> <h2><strong>Result</strong></h2> <p>Ten years ago, Kurdistan was considered a safe and semi-democratic island of the Middle East in geopolitical literature. Now, due to the war with ISIL and international support for its political authority, the Kurdistan region is currently under the influence of neighboring countries and is run by a <em>de fac</em>to autocratic administration, which relies on those regional states for its survival. </p><p>The influence of these regional countries on Kurdistan makes Erbil unable to follow the US administration’s strategic plans in the Middle East, and limits its ability to lay out its own independent political and economic strategy. As such, one can argue that this <em>de facto</em> autocracy become a major threat to the future of the Kurdistan region and its dream of establishing an independent Kurdish state in the northern Iraq.</p><p><em>This piece was first published on <a href="http://georgetownsecuritystudiesreview.org/2017/04/08/how-the-isil-war-changed-the-political-system-in-iraqi-kurdistan/">Georgetown Security Studies Review</a> on 8 April 2017.</em></p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/north-africa-west-asia/peter-bartu/muddling-through-in-mosul">Muddling through in Mosul</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/paul-rogers/mosul-very-dangerous-victory">Mosul: a very dangerous victory</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/north-africa-west-asia/hawre-hasan-hama/do-people-of-kurdistan-live-in-security">Do the people of Kurdistan live in security?</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/north-africa-west-asia/frzand-abdullah/erbil-explosions-%E2%80%93-designed-to-change-strategic-climate-of-krg">The Erbil explosions – designed to change the strategic climate of the KRG</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-country"> <div class="field-label"> Country or region:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Iraq </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-topics"> <div class="field-label">Topics:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Conflict </div> <div class="field-item even"> Democracy and government </div> <div class="field-item odd"> Economics </div> <div class="field-item even"> International politics </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> North Africa, West Asia North-Africa West-Asia Iraq Conflict Democracy and government Economics International politics Frzand Abdullah Violent transitions Geopolitics Wed, 12 Apr 2017 11:21:22 +0000 Frzand Abdullah 110045 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Muddling through in Mosul https://www.opendemocracy.net/north-africa-west-asia/peter-bartu/muddling-through-in-mosul <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>The west has treated ISIS as enemy number one while local actors see it as a sideshow in a political arena stretching from the Mediterranean to Iran. What does the defeat of ISIS in Mosul mean for Iraq? </p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/549460/PA-30827509.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title="NurPhoto/SIPA USA/PA Images. All rights reserved."><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/549460/PA-30827509.jpg" alt="NurPhoto/SIPA USA/PA Images. All rights reserved." title="NurPhoto/SIPA USA/PA Images. All rights reserved." width="460" height="306" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>A general view shows a destroyed street of East Mosul, Iraq on 3 April 2017, some 2.5 months after offensive to push Islamic State jihadists out of Mosul. NurPhoto/SIPA USA/PA Images. All rights reserved.</span></span></span>The protracted battle against ISIS in Iraq and elsewhere foreshadows numerous challenges in reconstituting the state afterwards. The west has treated the group as enemy number one while local actors see it as a sideshow in a political arena stretching from the Mediterranean to Iran.&nbsp;</p> <p>Not since the collapse of the Ottoman Empire has there been such a complex and bewildering reordering of the region. At once, everything is on the table, no outcome can be ruled out and paradoxically, the fight against ISIS could equally consolidate Iraq or signal its demise. </p> <p>Good leaders thrive in times of crisis, as do opportunists. Gamal Abdel Nasser, the charismatic pan-Arab Egyptian leader, would cite Luigi Pirandello’s “Six Characters in Search of an Author,” as a call to write the script for the Arab World’s future. That he had never read the play was irrelevant. Northern Iraq will need similar fiction if not alchemy to prevent its next conflict from appearing even before the ISIS eulogy can be written.&nbsp; </p> <p>It’s not a case of restoring the status quo-ante; the strategic shifts in recent years have been too dramatic. Sunni atomization, Shi’a dominance and Kurdish fragmentation in Iraq are joined to the fate of its neighbor Syria. What happens there will impact Iraq and what happens in Syria will be primarily determined by Russia, Iran, and Turkey and perhaps, given the Trump administration’s new found interest, the US. These are all new developments. </p> <h2>Sunni atomization</h2> <p>Iraq’s story post-2003 had as its central concern the question of how to re-integrate the Sunnis into the country’s political life. The US failed to do this as did Sunni leaders. In Dohuk in late 2016 a young Shammari leader from Ninewa remarked bitterly how the Sunni leaders had lost everything, reputation and land. By throwing their lot in with ISIS willingly or not, the Sunni cities and towns have been destroyed while being saved, with Mosul another tragic example.&nbsp; </p><p>The Sunni communities have been dispersed as IDPs throughout Iraq, many in Iraqi Kurdistan. When I was in Halabja trying to find the governor’s office, my Kurdish fixer, with no Arabic, spoke to ten dispersed street sweepers who were all IDPs from Anbar, with no Kurdish, before we found our way.&nbsp;&nbsp; </p> <p>In Iraq’s next elections the Sunni constituency will be of no fixed abode, another nail in the coffin of Sunni political representation. In the newly liberated areas, Sunni tribal leaders ponder how to deal with tribesmen who fought alongside ISIS, and their extended families, who did not. Feudal remedies are often invoked, such as forced relocation and banishment for a generation. </p> <p>In the past this may have worked for isolated murder cases; but not on this scale. Where will they all go and who will take their land and homes? Regionally, having started a ruinous war in Yemen, the Sunni are also at war with themselves; the pseudo-monarchs of the Gulf fight the Muslim Brotherhood while al Qaeda and ISIS and Ahrar Al-Sham indulge in banal and violent debate over Takfir, the oneness of God, and how and if to confront the Shi’a. </p> <p>In short, the Sunni east of the Med are not so much the JV team as Obama described ISIS but rather the side that specializes in own-goals. &nbsp;</p> <h2><strong>Shi’a consolidation </strong></h2> <p>The Shi’a political parties emerged dominant in Iraq’s new electoral politics after 2005 and played by the rules, more or less, until Nouri al-Malaki’s second term when he used state resources to his own end and created the conditions for the dramatic entry of ISIS in 2014.</p> <p>Despite the steady hand of his replacement Haider al-Abadi in trying to bring back an Iraqi state for all, the evolution of the war against ISIS has created new realities, primarily the Hashd al-Shaabi or the Popular Mobilization Units that were regularized in law, if not practice, in November 2016.&nbsp; </p><p>After Mosul where will these militia go? One of their commanders in Baghdad’s Green Zone, newly festooned with Shi’a banners, explained their metamorphosis. When they formed the militias in response to Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani’s fatwa to fight ISIS in Ramadi and Fallujah they did so alone. </p> <p>Now, they are being feted by regional forces and are negotiating security and political files across Iraq’s north with Syria, Turkey, the PKK, the KDP, Iraqi political parties and belatedly, international diplomats. This was a new experience for them and they liked the attention. </p> <p>Another aspect is the deployment of Iranian Revolutionary Guard (IRG) advisors with some of these units including in Diyala and Kirkuk where they often play visible mediator roles between the Shi’a militia and the Kurdish PUK Peshmerga but where both sides compete for the security allegiance of communities caught in the middle. </p> <p>In Diyala there are credible reports of ethnic cleansing against the Sunni communities and unverified rumors of forced conversion; long a source of historical tension. But the most visible change in the new Iraq is cultural. </p> <p>Last November during Arbaeen when the Shi’a faithful gather at the tomb of Imam al-Hussain in Karbala some 22 million converged in southern Iraq drawn from Iran, Iraq, central and south Asia and Africa. Within five years it has become the second largest religious event in the world, dwarfs by ten-fold the annual Hajj in Mecca, Saudi Arabia and continues to grow.&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;</p> <h2><strong>Kurdish fragmentation</strong></h2> <p>Iraqi Kurdistan is often portrayed as the most stable corner of the country but here too the fissures are real. Kurdish support in the war against ISIS and its generous hosting of Sunni, Yezidi and Christian IDPs deserves acknowledgement if not reward. But its institutions, the presidency, parliament and the Peshmerga are dysfunctional or divided and for the first time post-2003 the Kurds are incapable of generating coherent policy.&nbsp; </p> <p>The colossal mismanagement of their economy has been truly staggering. These trends have been present for some time but post-ISIS they will be starker. A panoply of different factions currently run riot across the Kurdish steppes from Khanaqin to Sinjar and risk invoking the civil war strife of the 1990s and even more blatant involvement from Turkey and Iran. &nbsp;</p> <p>A misstep on the Syrian border, an ill-timed raising of the Kurdish flag in Kirkuk or a fatal crackdown on Kurdish teachers demonstrating for unpaid salaries in Suleimaniyeh could herald a wider conflagration that was never intended.&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;</p> <p>So what does all this mean for Iraq after the defeat of ISIS in Mosul? </p> <p>Firstly, one needs to recognize the scale of the crisis and the new realities of recent years. Secondly, while a Nasser-like figure is not going to emerge to write the script for Iraq’s future, someone has to. Thirdly, throughout my travels in northern Iraq all stakeholders insisted on the need for international tutelage for the day after Daesh. </p> <p>To be sure this is long haul stuff and one will need to separate the leaders from the opportunists. But it may well be Iraq’s last, best chance and surely the least, worst option. </p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/paul-rogers/mosul-very-dangerous-victory">Mosul: a very dangerous victory</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/north-africa-west-asia/zayd-alisa/will-re-launch-of-mosul-battle-by-iraqi-pm-reverse-trump-s-hostile-stance">Will the re-launch of the Mosul battle by the Iraqi PM reverse Trump’s hostile stance?</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/north-africa-west-asia/hawre-hasan-hama/do-people-of-kurdistan-live-in-security">Do the people of Kurdistan live in security?</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/north-africa-west-asia/hawre-hasan-hama/consequences-of-politicized-forces-in-kurdistan-region-of-iraq">The consequences of politicized forces in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/north-africa-west-asia/shivan-fazil-sabr/mosul-looming-battle-has-begun">Mosul: the looming battle has begun</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-country"> <div class="field-label"> Country or region:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Iraq </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-topics"> <div class="field-label">Topics:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Conflict </div> <div class="field-item even"> Democracy and government </div> <div class="field-item odd"> International politics </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> North Africa, West Asia North-Africa West-Asia Iraq Conflict Democracy and government International politics Peter Bartu Violent transitions Mon, 10 Apr 2017 11:40:24 +0000 Peter Bartu 109997 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Trump: justified yet unpredictable https://www.opendemocracy.net/north-africa-west-asia/julie-norman/trump-justified-yet-unpredictable <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>The airstrikes were justified. But Trump’s policymaking is dangerously unpredictable.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/549460/PA-30859296.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title="Erik McGregor/SIPA USA/PA Images. All rights reserved."><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/549460/PA-30859296.jpg" alt="Erik McGregor/SIPA USA/PA Images. All rights reserved." title="Erik McGregor/SIPA USA/PA Images. All rights reserved." width="460" height="691" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>People protest on April 7, 2017 against the Trump Administration's military involvement in Syria. Erik McGregor/SIPA USA/PA Images. All rights reserved.</span></span></span></p><p>The US <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/apr/07/us-airstrikes-on-syria-donald-trump-what-we-know-so-far">air strikes</a> on Syria in response to the Assad regime’s <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/apr/06/the-dead-were-wherever-you-looked-inside-syrian-town-after-chemical-attack">chemical weapons attack</a> on civilians last week were justified. But the lack of sound process and consistent policy surrounding them are grave causes of concern. </p> <h2><strong>Why the air strikes were justified</strong></h2> <p>It is natural and necessary to be critical of US use of force, especially in the Middle East. But the air strikes were justified from moral, strategic, and legal perspectives. </p> <p>From a moral perspective, the air strikes demonstrate that brutal chemical weapons attacks against civilians cannot be ignored. This is not the first time the Assad regime has used chemical weapons; the sarin attack in Ghouta resulted in <a href="https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/national-security/nearly-1500-killed-in-syrian-chemical-weapons-attack-us-says/2013/08/30/b2864662-1196-11e3-85b6-d27422650fd5_story.html?utm_term=.0e1f1506eb76">over 1,400 deaths</a> in 2013 and, under threat of US air strikes, led to the US and Russia-brokered <a href="https://www.opcw.org/fileadmin/OPCW/EC/M-33/ecm33nat01_e_.pdf">disarmament deal</a>. </p> <p>The regime has also targeted its own civilians throughout the Syrian conflict through numerous other means, including sieges on rebel-held cities and nearly <a href="http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/middle-east/bashar-al-assad-syria-president-regime-13000-barrel-bombs-rebels-aleppo-douma-2016-a7521656.html">13,000 barrel bombs</a> in 2016 alone. There is a humanitarian imperative to constrain the regime and demonstrate that <a href="http://www.atlanticcouncil.org/blogs/syriasource/a-responsibility-to-project-power-law-and-nascent-norms-in-the-levant">international norms</a> regarding use of force still matter. </p> <p>Strategically, while Friday’s relatively modest air strike will by no means paralyse the regime, even sending a <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2017/apr/07/the-guardian-view-on-syria-airstrikes-a-world-defined-by-trumps-impulses">symbolic message </a>to Syria and its allies that chemical weapons attacks will not be tolerated is important. Such messaging is also useful for deterring future chemical attacks by other rogue states against their populations. Furthermore, the strike can give the US and its allies leverage in future negotiations with the Assad regime, which up until this point has had no real incentive to compromise.&nbsp; </p><p>Legally, from an international law perspective, UN Security Council Resolution <a href="http://www.securitycouncilreport.org/atf/cf/%7B65BFCF9B-6D27-4E9C-8CD3-CF6E4FF96FF9%7D/s_res_2118.pdf">2118</a>, passed in relation to the aforementioned 2013 chemical weapons disarmament deal, allows for use of force in the case of noncompliance in accordance with <a href="http://www.un.org/en/sections/un-charter/chapter-vii/">Chapter VII</a> of the UN Charter. </p> <p>In only targeting a remote military site directly linked to the chemical weapons attack, the strikes were also in line with International Humanitarian Law (IHL) mandates of proportionality. </p> <p>Finally, the strikes can be justified by the <a href="http://www.responsibilitytoprotect.org/">Responsibility to Protect (R2P)</a> framework, which, though distinct from international law, represents a global commitment to prevent and respond to war crimes committed by states against their own populations. </p> <p>While all of these mechanisms are best served multilaterally, and ideally through the UN Security Council, UNSC action on Syria has been severely constrained by Russia’s veto.&nbsp; </p><p>At the national level, Trump’s decision to order the strikes without Congressional approval is legally <a href="https://www.vox.com/policy-and-politics/2017/4/7/15217832/aumf-trump-syria-congress">murkier</a>, due to the outdated nature of the <a href="https://www.congress.gov/107/plaws/publ40/PLAW-107publ40.pdf">Authorization for the Use of Military Force</a> (AUMF), which has been used to justify most armed interventions since 2001. </p> <p>Yet even without the AUMF, the loose parameters of the 1973 <a href="https://www.loc.gov/law/help/war-powers.php">War Powers Act</a> have allowed past presidents to side-step congressional authorisation when military action was limited in time and scope. </p> <p>If the Trump administration were to consider additional strikes (which appears unlikely), it would be obligated under the War Powers Act to seek congressional approval within 60 to 90 days, but Friday’s strike itself was within the legal parameters used in the past by the executive branch.</p> <h2><strong>Why we should worry</strong></h2> <p>The worrisome factor is that Trump seemingly did not consider any of these rationales in his decision to order the strike. In contrast to Obama, whose attention to deliberative debate was readily <a href="http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/barackobama/9908260/Barack-Obama-a-dithering-controlling-risk-averse-US-president.html">criticised</a> by Trump and others, Trump appears to have acted on impulse, without any clear process or coherent policy. This unpredictable and contradictory approach to foreign policy is dangerous in the context of Syria and beyond.</p> <p>Trump’s decision to call the strikes seems to have been based on an emotional response to the <a href="https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/horrible-pictures-of-suffering-moved-trump-to-action-on-syria/2017/04/07/9aa9fcc8-1bce-11e7-8003-f55b4c1cfae2_story.html?utm_term=.cd7b9157a360">‘horrible’ pictures</a> and footage of dying children in the aftermath of the chemical weapons attack. While the moral case for a response to such images is justified, as noted above, Trump has ignored the past atrocities committed by the regime in coordination with Russia. </p> <p>As Ezra Klein asks in <a href="http://www.vox.com/policy-and-politics/2017/4/7/15217492/trump-syria-foreign-policy">Vox</a>, ‘If Trump is truly worried about the innocent babies, then much more needs to be done to protect them from bombs, from bullets, from fires, from starvation. Is he willing to do any of it?’ </p> <p>Likewise, Trump’s apparent moral outrage is in direct contrast to his <a href="https://www.vox.com/2015/9/4/9258149/syria-refugee-humanitarian-intervention">refugee policy</a>, which effectively prohibits Syrian refugees from coming to the United States. </p> <p>Strategically as well, the air strike was such a contrast to Trump’s rhetoric on Syria to date, that it is difficult to see any clear policy agenda for moving forward from this point. The air strikes, while justified, are extremely risky in the <a href="https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/national-security/american-strikes-against-syria-prompt-both-praise-and-condemnation/2017/04/07/df58e194-1bb1-11e7-855e-4824bbb5d748_story.html">absence of a long-term strategy</a>. A coherent policy is necessary for guiding US actions on this conflict, and also for clearly signalling to allies in Europe and the Middle East whose policies on Syria are heavily dependent on the United States.’ </p> <p>Furthermore, Trump’s seeming willingness to use force in the absence of long-term strategy, and in direct contradiction to his previous approach, sets a potentially dangerous precedent. While the air strike may have made sense in this case, the US should be cautious of rashly engaging use of force.</p> <p>Finally, while the air strikes were within domestic legal parameters, as noted above, further military action would most likely require congressional authorisation. The murkiness of the AUMF and the War Powers Act make this difficult to mandate, which is one reason why Obama’s decision to seek congressional authorisation in 2013 was criticised by some supporters who deemed it unnecessary. </p> <p>Yet Obama was right to be cautious of overusing executive authority granted by the AUMF, and indeed, one of his <a href="https://www.vox.com/2015/2/12/8021113/isis-aumf">aims</a> in seeking a new AUMF in 2015 was to prevent hawkish successors from abusing it. Under Trump, in the case of Syria and other conflicts, the lack of legal limits on presidential use of force is potentially dangerous.</p> <p>Under Obama, the emphasis on process and consensus on long-term strategies perhaps prevented necessary intervention in Syria, but it also prevented rash, unpredictable actions. </p> <p>The air strikes last week may have been justified. But the context in which they were ordered by Trump, and the lack of clear process or policy around them, is deeply concerning for future strategy on Syria and US foreign policy more broadly.</p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/north-africa-west-asia/julie-m-norman/trump-is-creating-real-threat-to-security-by-trumpeting-false-one">Trump is creating a real threat to security by trumpeting a false one</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/north-africa-west-asia/julie-norman/syrian-detainees-may-be-central-in-future-negotiations-but-they-can-t-wa">Syrian detainees may be central to future negotiations - but they can’t wait that long</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-country"> <div class="field-label"> Country or region:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Syria </div> <div class="field-item even"> United States </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-topics"> <div class="field-label">Topics:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Democracy and government </div> <div class="field-item even"> International politics </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> North Africa, West Asia North-Africa West-Asia United States Syria Democracy and government International politics Julie Norman You tell us Violent transitions Sun, 09 Apr 2017 18:53:29 +0000 Julie Norman 109996 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Adding insult to injury: when Israel and Britain celebrate the historical trauma of Palestinians https://www.opendemocracy.net/north-africa-west-asia/samah-jabr/adding-insult-to-injury-when-israel-and-britain-celebrate-historical-traum <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Palestinians will not be silenced. We will voice our historical testimony and tell our narrative to make sense of the senseless grievances of colonialism.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/549460/PA-30229477.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title="DAVID MOIR/AAP/PA Images. All rights reserved."><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/549460/PA-30229477.jpg" alt="DAVID MOIR/AAP/PA Images. All rights reserved." title="DAVID MOIR/AAP/PA Images. All rights reserved." class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" width="460" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Pro-Palestine protesters gather during a protest against Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's visit to Australia outside the Town Hall in Sydney, Feb. 23, 2017. DAVID MOIR/AAP/PA Images. All rights reserved.</span></span></span>After one hundred years, Britain seems to be at the same moral stage it was at when UK Foreign Secretary Arthur Balfour <a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Balfour_Declaration">wrote</a> to the leader of the British Jewish community, Baron Rothschild, promising the establishment of a "national home" for the Jewish people in Palestine. </p><p>Instead of making redress, creating historical transformations, social developments and repairs to the Palestinians, the British prime minister has <a href="http://english.wafa.ps/page.aspx?id=qTpSvza54203285103aqTpSvz">invited</a> the Israeli prime minister to a celebration to mark the centile anniversary of the Balfour declaration. </p> <p>This celebration triggers the historical trauma that has left significant scars on Palestinian collective memory; over a century of displacement and military domination that have deprived Palestinians politically and culturally and treated them as problematic and inferior beings. </p> <p>Britain is also responsible for imposing massive Jewish immigration to Palestine, while the Palestinians who aspired for independence after 30 years of British mandate were crushed. The violence and defeat that was brought upon the Palestinian people was facilitated&nbsp;by Britain. The effects of which don’t only harm the people of that generation, who were killed or displaced and whose property was stolen, but all&nbsp;members of society till this day. The generations that have followed shoulder the burden of this historical trauma, and their future has changed ever since.</p> <p>Now, with the US' unprecedented financial and political support, and global powers' silence or&nbsp;collusion with the occupation and international&nbsp;acclaim of its criminals (the funeral of Shimon Peres, as an example), Palestinians realize that they live in a world where bullying prevails over reason, and hegemony over ethics. Israel is imposing its discourse with power.</p> <h2><strong>Racist laws</strong></h2> <p>During last year alone, Israel issued five racist laws: the “<a href="http://www.aljazeera.com/news/2016/07/israeli-expulsion-law-violates-rules-democracy-160724071131444.html">Expulsion Law</a>,” which stipulates that a member of Knesset can be expelled from parliament through a majority vote of 90 legislators, a law that is aimed at the minority Arab Knesset members. </p> <p>The “<a href="http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/middle-east/israel-palestine-journalist-arrests-incitement-law-facebook-a7354236.html">incitement</a>” law incriminates political views and restricts freedom of expression. This law was passed to target those who utter opposition against the occupation, or oppose the character of Israel as a Jewish and democratic state. </p> <p>The third is the <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/world/2016/jul/12/israel-passes-law-to-force-ngos-to-reveal-foreign-fundinghttps:/www.theguardian.com/world/2016/jul/12/israel-passes-law-to-force-ngos-to-reveal-foreign-funding">NGO law</a>, which is mainly targeting human rights organizations, mandating that they reveal the sources of their funding.</p> <p>The fourth, and probably worst, is the “<a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Regulation_Law">Regulation Law</a>” which will eventually allow the annexation of 60 percent of land in the West Bank to Israeli&nbsp;settlers.&nbsp;</p> <p>More recently, the “<a href="http://www.jpost.com/Israel-News/Ministers-approve-bill-muffling-muezzins-call-to-prayer-472519">Muezzen law</a>” which muffles the Muslim character of Palestine by banning the use of speakers for the&nbsp;call to prayer by mosques, calling it “pollution”.</p> <h2><strong>Trauma is the disaster of helplessness</strong></h2> <p>While Israel is expanding geographically and demographically at the expense of&nbsp;Palestinians, Palestinian leaders are making empty condemnations. </p><p>In fact, the Palestinian leadership is coexisting with the settlements and only rivals with Israel in the media. When Palestinian leaders complain of settlements, yet remain gatekeepers and passive recipients of colonial domination of the occupation, supposed friends of Palestine can only think&nbsp;"you deserve what you get."</p> <h2><strong>Blaming the victim</strong></h2> <p>Victim-blaming attitudes make it harder for the abused to protest and remind the world of their trauma. The world blames the occupied Palestinians for their ill fate and for disturbing the peace of the occupation whenever they make any efforts to stand up to Israel. </p><p>They reinforce the occupation’s narrative that it is the Palestinian’s fault the occupation prevails, absolving the occupation from responsibility or accountability for its actions, and allowing Israel to repeat and replicate the atrocities it perpetrated to displace Palestinians from their homes and towns. &nbsp;</p> <p>But like a cunning abuser, Israel uses tactics to maintain good public appearances. Recently, for example, it announced that it would be taking in <a href="http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/middle-east/israel-is-adopting-100-syrian-orphans-despite-the-fact-the-two-countries-are-technically-at-war-a7549741.html">one hundred Syrian orphans</a>, while Palestinians are denied the right of return and hundreds of Palestinian children are orphaned. </p> <p>In the "Amona" settlement Israel broadcasted dramatic scenes to the world, depicting itself as a state of law that <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/jan/31/israel-west-bank-settlement-homes">expels</a> settlers out of private Palestinian land. Neglecting the fact that private Palestinian land is being confiscated to build these settlements in the first place.</p> <p>Even the Arab powers of today blame the occupied Palestinians for confronting the occupation; an impotent strategy to distance themselves from the potential fate like that of the Palestinians. This gives the false feeling that if&nbsp;they ally with the perpetrators,&nbsp;occupation will never knock on thier doors. One only needs to look at Iraq, Lybia, Syria and Yemen to see the failure of such a strategy. </p> <p>The arbitrary propaganda that Palestinians <a href="http://www.yourmiddleeast.com/culture/palestine-how-the-land-was-lost_36973">sold</a> their land to Israel, which is gaining popularity in Egyptian media, is evidence of victim blaming and siding with the perpetrators. By labeling and accusing the Palestinians, these powers are hopelessly&nbsp;trying to make the Arab people see the Palestinians as different from themselves, which results in less empathy.&nbsp;</p> <h2><strong>Denial is an obstacle to peace</strong></h2> <p>When the historical trauma of the Palestinians is utterly nullified, it makes it impossible to discuss, mourn and express their plight symbolically, thus preventing repair.</p> <p>The Balfour celebration represents a denial of the harm caused to Palestinians. It fails to acknowledge the trauma and human suffering or take moral responsibility for it. Britain has no shame in their imperialist history, its hegemonic attitude continues to consider the Israelis as culturally and racially superior to Palestinians. It is not the Israelis who are occupied and oppressed and deserve Britain’s solidarity (in celebration), but the occupied Palestinians! </p> <p>If the very existence of traumatic occupation is denied, responsibility, remorse and solidarity are repudiated. However, full immunity for Israel’s violations continues to be granted and the suffering of Palestinians is hardly acknowledged.</p> <p>The occupation always betted to break Palestinian collective consciousness through massacres and wars, maintaining the pain fresh in our memory. Nowadays, General Yoav Galant, the Minister of Housing, former commander of the southern region, and commander of the 2008 war <a href="http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/middle-east/hamas-fighting-summer-israel-idf-general-naftali-bennett-palestinian-territory-west-bank-gaza-strip-a7573556.html">speaks</a> of “a fourth war next spring," on Israeli radio. Israeli Security Minister Avigdor Lieberman said in an interview mid-February on an Israeli/Arab radio station that if the government decided to fight a new war, this confrontation must end with a great Israeli victory and crush the Palestinian resistance in Gaza forever. <em></em></p> <p>In fact, it is not the resistance preparations that Israel should fear, but the desensitization and declining levels of fear among the citizens as a result of repeated strikes, shocks and losses that affect most Palestinians.&nbsp;</p> <p>Acknowledgment rather than denial is capable of humanizing all involved parties. Cultivating empathy and trust could pave the way for healing history and reconciliation to build peace. Urging Israel to stop its colonial policies rather than celebrating the theft of Palestinian land is an important domain of trauma intervention and peace making.&nbsp;</p> <p>History will not be written by the powerful alone, no matter how irresistible Israel and its allies seem to be. Palestinians will not be silenced by the dreadful occupation of Palestine. We will voice our historical testimony and tell our narrative to make sense of the senseless grievances of colonialism. </p><p>Anti-oppression activism is our remedy against political trauma and it will heal us as individuals and help us heal the injured history of our homeland.</p> <p><em>A version of this piece was first published on </em><a href="https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/20170216-when-israel-and-britain-celebrate-the-historical-trauma-of-palestinians/"><em>Middle East Monitor </em></a><em>on 16 February 2017.</em></p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/north-africa-west-asia/samah-jabr-elizabeth-berger/thinking-behind-mental-health-workers-pledge-for-palestin">The thinking behind a mental health workers pledge for Palestine </a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/north-africa-west-asia/samah-jabr/on-structural-violence-in-palestine">On structural violence in Palestine</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/north-africa-west-asia/samah-jabr/internalised-oppression">Internalised oppression</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-country"> <div class="field-label"> Country or region:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Israel </div> <div class="field-item even"> Palestine </div> <div class="field-item odd"> UK </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-topics"> <div class="field-label">Topics:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Conflict </div> <div class="field-item even"> Culture </div> <div class="field-item odd"> Democracy and government </div> <div class="field-item even"> Equality </div> <div class="field-item odd"> International politics </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> North Africa, West Asia North-Africa West-Asia UK Palestine Israel Conflict Culture Democracy and government Equality International politics middle east occupied territories occupation Samah Jabr You tell us Violent transitions Wed, 15 Mar 2017 12:45:14 +0000 Samah Jabr 109234 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Many birds, one stone: why did Iran execute 25 Sunni Kurds in August 2016? https://www.opendemocracy.net/north-africa-west-asia/haidar-khezri/many-birds-one-stone-why-did-iran-execute-25-sunni-kurds-in-august-2016 <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>In the chaos and instability the region is experiencing, now more than ever, religious and racial minorities find themselves between a rock and a hard place.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/549460/PA-26316827.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title="Aurore Belot SIPA USA/PA Images. All rights reserved."><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/549460/PA-26316827.jpg" alt="Aurore Belot SIPA USA/PA Images. All rights reserved." title="Aurore Belot SIPA USA/PA Images. All rights reserved." class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" width="460" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>The Kurdish Diaspora demonstrate to ask the release of the Kurdish political prisoners in Iran. May 2016. Aurore Belot SIPA USA/PA Images. All rights reserved.</span></span></span>On 3 August 2016 Mohammad Javad Zarif, the Iranian Minister of Foreign Affairs, and Federica Mogherini, the High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, started preliminary negotiations regarding the issue of human rights in Iran. </p> <p>Only a few hours later, Mohammad-Javad Larijani, the head of the human rights council in Iran, <a href="http://ir.voanews.com/a/iran-human-rights-javad-larijani/3448827.html">announced</a>, “the hell with it if the west is dissatisfied with us regarding human rights.”</p> <p>Only one day before the negotiation, Iran executed 25 Sunni Kurds on <a href="http://www.vaja.ir/Portal/Home/ShowPage.aspx?Object=News&amp;ID=3235fbca-a771-48b7-9363-edc8471fc16c&amp;LayoutID=2a08d27e-2ceb-4d66-a469-1a95bc1f86dd&amp;CategoryID=35fd205a-597a-4f8e-9c88-e3cd19f90928&amp;SearchKey=">charges</a> of war against God, Islam and the state, spreading corruption, and being members of the Tawhid and Jihad group. </p> <p>Just after the start of the negotiations, on 9 August, Iran executed six more Kurds, including the political prisoner Mohamed Abdullahi on charges of war against Islam and the state through membership in the Komala Party of Iranian Kurdistan. </p> <p><a href="https://www.hrw.org/">Human Rights Watch</a> and <a href="http://www.kurdistan24.net/en/news/100b2905-372c-4b4c-86fd-3b2a76898c6f">twenty-two</a> international human rights organizations condemned the execution, stating unfair trials and confessions extracted under torture. </p> <p>According to <a href="http://www.kurdistan24.net/en/news/100b2905-372c-4b4c-86fd-3b2a76898c6f"><em>Kurdistan 24</em></a><em>,</em> since the beginning of August at least 48 Kurdish prisoners were executed. Iran is one of the world’s top executioners with nearly <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/world/2016/jun/28/iran-under-pressure-abolish-death-penalty-drug-trafficking">1,000 people&nbsp;</a>executed in 2015 alone.</p> <p>These executions, as well as their crucial timing, have several global, regional, and local implications that are seldom talked about. </p> <h2><strong>Globally</strong></h2> <p>Since the beginning of the war in Afghanistan (2001) and the Iraq War (2003), the US has claimed that Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), specifically its Quds Force, have given aid to al-Qaeda. Consequently, the US has designated the Quds Force a supporter of terrorism since 2007. </p> <p>Just three weeks prior to the execution of 25 Kurds, the US Department of Treasury specifically <a href="https://www.treasury.gov/press-center/press-releases/Pages/jl0523.aspx">designated</a> Faisal al-Khalidi, Yisra Bayumi, and Abu Bakr Ghumayn as al-Qaeda global terrorists. These three individuals <a href="https://www.treasury.gov/press-center/press-releases/Pages/jl0523.aspx">live</a> in Iran.</p> <p>The execution of 25 individuals, linked to al-Qaeda, according to <a href="http://www.vaja.ir/Portal/Home/ShowPage.aspx?Object=News&amp;ID=3235fbca-a771-48b7-9363-edc8471fc16c&amp;LayoutID=2a08d27e-2ceb-4d66-a469-1a95bc1f86dd&amp;CategoryID=35fd205a-597a-4f8e-9c88-e3cd19f90928&amp;SearchKey=">the Iranian Intelligence</a>, is a way for Iran to represent itself as <em>victim</em> instead of a <em>supporter</em> of terrorism. This issue is more interesting when we view it alongside the fact that the operations of arresting, interrogating, putting on trial etc., were all conducted by Iran’s RGC’s intelligence, which had taken control of the operation in Kurdish and Sunni areas, particularly after the Iranian Green Movement in 2009.</p> <h2><strong>Regionally</strong></h2> <p>Since Iran’s interference in the Syrian war, Saudi Arabia’s foreign policy as well as the foreign policy of most GCC States has shifted from interaction with Iran to collision.&nbsp; </p><p>Adel al-Jubair, who was the target of a failed assassination attempt by Iran’s RGC (<a href="https://archives.fbi.gov/archives/newyork/press-releases/2011/two-men-charged-in-alleged-plot-to-assassinate-saudi-arabian-ambassador-to-the-united-states">according</a> to the US Government), was appointed as the Saudi foreign minister in April 2015. </p> <p>In September 2015, the Mina stampede caused the <a href="http://america.aljazeera.com/articles/2015/10/19/hajj-disaster-death-toll-over-two-thousand.html">death of at least 2,177 people</a>, among them more than 550 Iranians, including Ghazanfar Roknabadi the Iranian ambassador to Lebanon from 2010 to 2014. </p> <p>This event intensified the tension between Saudi Arabia and Iran since <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/1987/08/02/world/400-die-iranian-marchers-battle-saudi-police-mecca-embassies-smashed-teheran.html?pagewanted=all">the 1987 Mecca incident</a> to the point that Iran finally <a href="http://www.presstv.ir/DetailFa/2016/06/02/468616/Iran-Saeed-Ohadi-Hajj-Saudi-Arabia">declared</a> that it would not send its pilgrims to Saudi Arabia.&nbsp; </p><p>The final straw came when Saudi Arabia <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/world/2016/jan/02/saudi-arabia-executes-47-people-in-one-day-including-iranian-cleric">executed</a> 47 people, including the prominent Shia cleric and Iran’s advocate Nimr al-Nimr, on 2 January 2016. Iran previously had warned Saudi Arabia that the execution of Nimr al-Nimr would cost Saudi Arabia dearly. “The Saudi government will pay a heavy price for adopting such policies,” <a href="https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/saudi-arabia-executes-47-people-including-prominent-shiite-cleric/2016/01/02/01bfee06-198e-4eb6-ab5e-a5bcc8fb85c6_story.html">said</a> Foreign Ministry spokesman Hossein Ansari. </p> <p>The execution of Nimr al-Nimr ignited fury in Iran, and protesters <a href="https://www.rt.com/news/327755-saudi-embassy-iran-protest/">stormed and torched</a> the Saudi Arabian Embassy in Tehran. The day after, Saudi Arabia’s foreign ministry announced that it would cut diplomatic ties with Iran. Only four days later, Iran’s foreign ministry made the <a href="http://www.bbc.com/news/world-middle-east-35251917">claim</a> that Saudi warplanes had “deliberately” targeted its embassy in Yemen in the city of Sanaa.</p> <p>Prince Turki bin Faisal Al Saud, a member of the Saudi royal family, previously head of Saudi intelligence for over two decades, recently attended the 9 July&nbsp;rally backed by&nbsp;the Iranian opposition group People’s Mujahedeen of Iran. </p> <p>The attendance and the speech he gave angered many Iranian officials, particularly the IRGC. Mohsen Rezaei, IRGC commander during the Iran-Iraq War and current secretary of the Expediency Council, <a href="http://www.al-monitor.com/pulse/originals/2016/07/iran-mek-mojahedin-saudi-turki-bin-faisal.html">accused</a> Saudi Arabia and other Gulf countries of supporting recent attacks by Kurdish groups against Iran’s security forces. The attacks were the first major clashes since the 1996 ceasefire between Iran’s RGC and members of the Democratic Party of Iranian Kurdistan.&nbsp; </p><p>As such, the execution of 25 Sunni-Kurds not only included the revenge of executing Nimr al-Nimr by Saudi Arabia, it also included a message to the Democratic Party of Iranian Kurdistan (PDKI) and Komala Party of Iranian Kurdistan, as well as their allies (the US, Israel and GCC states).&nbsp; </p><p>By combining the Kurds with Islamic extremist groups, Iran wanted to limit a successful coalition between the US and Kurds in their wars against ISIL and Islamic extremism. This by default curtails efforts toward the Kurdish dream of an independent state, which has never been so close to becoming reality.</p> <h2><strong>Locally</strong></h2> <p>The local repercussions of these executions are powerful, as they contain several messages to the reformists and the general public.</p> <p>Hasan Rouhani, by declaring the Iranian nuclear issue and civil rights for all citizens the highest priority, won the eleventh Iranian presidential election. </p> <p>Rouhani <a href="http://www.bbc.com/persian/world/2013/07/130710_l39_kurds_baluchs_ghoreishi_ir92">received</a> the highest rate of votes from the Sunni-Baloch province of Sistan and Baluchestan (73.3%) and the Sunni-Kurdish province of Kurdistan (70.85%). Fair trials were promised for all prisoners, including the Sunni Kurds, Sunni Baluchis, Baha’i, and Iranian Green Movement’s prisoners.&nbsp; </p><p>Rouhani founded a new government body under the title “Ethnic and Religious Minorities Affairs” and selected the former intelligence minister, Ali Yunesi, as its senior adviser. In one of his earliest interviews, Yunesi <a href="http://www.bbc.com/persian/iran/2013/12/131209_l26_minorities_iran_younesi">admitted</a> that “many cases” of human rights violations, especially against ethnic and religious minorities, were taking place in Iran’s courts and prisons. He blamed these abuses on extremists within the government, who <a href="http://www.bbc.com/persian/iran/2013/12/131209_l26_minorities_iran_younesi">according</a> to him are in “Iranian broadcasting, the Army of the Guardians of the Islamic Revolution, the judiciary and security organs, and parliament.”&nbsp; </p><p>In one of his interviews, Yunesi <a href="http://www.bbc.com/persian/iran/2014/11/141111_nm_house_arrest_mosavi_younesi_government">confessed</a> that the Rouhani government wanted to but couldn’t appoint individuals of ethnic or religious minorities to any governor or ministry position, saying that the government also had no power over the <a title="House arrest" href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/House_arrest">house arrest</a> of the Green Movement’s leaders.&nbsp; </p><p>In his last interview on August 27, Yunesi <a href="http://www.bbc.com/persian/iran/2016/08/160827_l45_hamedan_russia_iran_younessi">stated</a>, “the Iranian Sunnis can help with eliminating tension with neighboring countries. We consider the Iranian Sunnis an opportunity for [achieving] more security. They can help the Shia minority in Saudi Arabia in obtaining their [demands],” confirming that the Sunni minority in the eye of the Iranian government are nothing but pawns.&nbsp; </p><p>Due to his focus on foreign policy and the nuclear deal, Rouhani’s administration has done little to change the situation of human rights in Iran. Based on surveys and statements from human rights organizations, human rights during the presidency of Rouhani became much worse when compared to the former president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. </p> <p>“The human rights situation in the country remains dire….Iranians are worse off than during the era of Mr. Rouhani’s polarizing and relatively conservative predecessor, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad,” <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2015/10/28/world/middleeast/un-rights-investigator-highly-critical-of-iran.html?_r=0">said</a> Ahmed Shaheed, the former UN’s special rapporteur.&nbsp; </p><p>After the Iranian nuclear deal, it seems that human rights will occupy the primary place in Rouhani’s policy and plan for his second campaign for office. Rouhani has <a href="http://www.rudaw.net/english/middleeast/iran/13122016">called</a> on Kurdish and Sunni voters (who represent 30% of the Iranian population) for the next election.&nbsp; </p><p>On the other hand, as the hardliners in Iran did and still do all they can to prevent the Iranian nuclear deal, they will use their entire force to prevent a human rights deal. It’s not without significance that these executions - as a message from the hardliners to the reformists - happened only one day before Mohammad Javad Zarif and Federica Mogherini started preliminary negotiations.</p><p>In the chaos and instability that the region is experiencing particularly after the Iranian Green Movement and the Arab Spring, the religious and racial minorities now more than ever are situated between a rock and a hard place, with barbaric and extremist groups like ISIL on the one hand, and totalitarian governments on the other. Each of these two sides has accused and punished various minorities for supporting the other. </p> <p>The rise of right-wing populism on both sides of the Atlantic Ocean, with anti-immigration policies, does not leave much choice for these minorities. In such a situation, human rights conventions seem to be one of only few available options. However it appears, at least in the Iranian case, that it will not be an easy task.</p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/potkin-azarmehr/campaign-to-free-imprisoned-arash-sadeghi">Campaign to free Arash Sadeghi</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/juan-francisco-lobo/make-russia-great-again-aleppo-and-plea-from-another-world">Make Russia great again? Aleppo and a plea from another world </a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/north-africa-west-asia/yoosef-abbaszadeh/what-is-missing-in-president-barzani-s-rhetoric-for-kurdish-state-building-enterpr">What is missing in President Barzani’s rhetoric for a Kurdish state-building enterprise?</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/north-africa-west-asia/mahmood-delkhasteh/june-1981-coup-stolen-narrative-of-iranian-revolution">The June 1981 coup: the stolen narrative of the Iranian revolution</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/north-africa-west-asia/amir-basiri/iran-s-military-objectives-in-syria-russia-s-contradictory-positions">Iran’s military objectives in Syria and Russia’s contradictory positions</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/mahmood-delkhasteh/moat-that-preserves-castle-what-are-elections-in-iran-for">The moat that preserves the castle. What are the elections in Iran for?</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/m-jge-k-kkele/state-of-regional-kurdish-politics-divided-as-ever">The state of regional Kurdish politics: divided as ever</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/north-africa-west-asia/mehiyar-kathem/troubling-political-economy-of-iraq-s-sh-ia-clerical-establishment">The troubling political economy of Iraq’s Sh’ia clerical establishment</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-country"> <div class="field-label"> Country or region:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Iran </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-topics"> <div class="field-label">Topics:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Conflict </div> <div class="field-item even"> Democracy and government </div> <div class="field-item odd"> International politics </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> North Africa, West Asia North-Africa West-Asia Iran Conflict Democracy and government International politics minorities Haidar Khezri You tell us Violent transitions The future: Islam and democracy Geopolitics Tue, 21 Feb 2017 13:43:49 +0000 Haidar Khezri 108944 at https://www.opendemocracy.net The victims of tyranny and the need for transitional justice in Tunisia https://www.opendemocracy.net/north-africa-west-asia/anouar-jamaoui/victims-of-tyranny-and-need-for-transitional-justice-in-tunisia <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>It is important that a law be enacted to criminalize the whitening of dictatorships so that those longing for the past stop their hopeless ventures of trying to falsify history.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/549460/PA-29624277.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title="Chokri Mahjoub Zuma Press/PA Images. All rights reserved. "><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/549460/PA-29624277.jpg" alt="Chokri Mahjoub Zuma Press/PA Images. All rights reserved. " title="Chokri Mahjoub Zuma Press/PA Images. All rights reserved. " class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" width="460" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Demonstration in front of the seat of the court truth and dignity by the victims of the regime of Ben Ali. 5 January 2017. Chokri Mahjoub Zuma Press/PA Images. All rights reserved. </span></span></span>While&nbsp;listening to the victims of tyranny in the relay&nbsp;<a href="http://www.ivd.tn/fr/?page_id=428">sessions</a>&nbsp;organized by the “Truth and Dignity Commission”&nbsp; in Tunis 17-18 November 2016, one can clearly see that repression during the era of the police state was shared by the vast majority of the people of Tunisia.</p><p>The repressive machine did not distinguish between women and men, or differentiate between the young and the elderly, leftists and liberals, nationalists and Islamists, or between trade unionists and human rights activists. They all shared suffering, torture, and marginalization and endured the systemic injustice that befell them from the agents of a totalitarian regime.</p><p>For decades after independence and before the revolution, one only needed to criticize the regime’s policies or think outside the prevailing pattern to become a suspect. When one joined a human rights association or belonged to an opposing political party, they would immediately be cursed by the regime.</p><p>This implied being constantly under administrative control and police surveillance, being imprisoned and exposed to abuse and harassment. Things could go as far as being killed or forced into exile. Thus people opposing the regime found themselves torn between silence or death, getting incarcerated or fleeing the country.</p><p>Besides, opponents of the regime were banned from work and travel and prevented from becoming civil servants. The tyrannical regime at the time of Habib Bourguiba and his successor, Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, practiced discrimination among citizens based on their political affiliation; granting them access or preventing them from whatever it wished, depending on their loyalty to the ruling party.</p><p class="mag-quote-left">People opposing the regime found themselves torn between silence or death, getting incarcerated or fleeing the country</p><p>The repressive organs of the state used various devices to chase opponents and mute their voices. They succeeded, to some extent, in guaranteeing the repression process, using mass media to broadcast propaganda speeches that demonized opponents of the regime inside and outside the country.</p><p>They also got help from the police who fabricated accusations against the opposition and used the legislature to give them cruel verdicts. Doctors were even bribed to hide medical records of torture, guaranteeing the escape of oppressors from punishment.</p><p>After the revolution, observers thought that the new state would provide care and justice to the victims of tyranny. However, little change has taken place since the Tunisian Spring. The same&nbsp;<a href="https://www.nytimes.com/2016/11/19/world/africa/silenced-for-decades-victims-of-despotism-air-torture-claims-in-tunisia.html?_r=1">victims</a>&nbsp;remain marginalized, forgotten, with muffled voices and grieving hearts. They have not obtained their legitimate rights till this day.</p><p>The symbols of the counter revolution, such as mass media journalists and politicians, began the process of whitening the dictatorship and pushing people to lose faith in the revolution as they polished the image of the escaping dictator.</p><p>In the meantime, they insisted on ridiculing militants’ sacrifices even though the militants were the ones who paved the way to freedom with their suffering and lives. It was only with the establishment of the “Truth and Dignity Commission” that these victims could speak up and express their suffering in public and to the world.</p><p>Every victim attending these sessions had the opportunity to&nbsp;<a href="https://www.hrw.org/news/2016/11/24/tunisia-casts-light-its-bloody-past">reveal</a>&nbsp;his/her misery, exposing the violence of the repressive state and its arrogance and disrespect of human beings and their rights.&nbsp;<em>&nbsp;</em></p><p>Gilber Naccache for instance&nbsp;<a href="http://www.ivd.tn/fr/?p=875">talked</a>&nbsp;about the cruel means of torture, such as hanging upside down. The brother of&nbsp;<a href="https://fr.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nabil_Barakati">Nabil Barakati</a>&nbsp;<a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ejOORG_vg54">talked</a>&nbsp;about the suffering his brother underwent, which reached the degree of denailing, breaking teeth and limbs until he died under torture.</p><p>The destinies of&nbsp;<a href="https://www.amnesty.org/en/documents/mde30/026/1991/en/">Rachid Chamakhi</a>,&nbsp;<a href="http://www.huffpostmaghreb.com/banadicte-goderiaux/tunisie-25-ans-plus-tard-toujours-pas-de-justice-pour-faysal-baraket-mort-des-suites-de-torture_b_12384232.html?1475833924">Faysal Baraket</a>&nbsp;and&nbsp;<a href="http://nawaat.org/portail/2016/11/25/truth-commission-public-hearings-kamel-matmati-and-tunisias-disappeared/">Kamel El Matmati</a>&nbsp;were no better; they endured physical and psychological torture till their death.</p><p>There were even those who vanished under the repressive machine, which distresses their relatives till this day. The mother of El Matmati’s sole&nbsp;<a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uEczeo6Xb9w">hope</a>&nbsp;is to find the corpse of her son and bury him.</p><p>Others like&nbsp;<a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y1QwvjpFXUY">Jamel Baraket</a>&nbsp;became police phobic as a result of the harassment he endured in the cellars of the Ministry of Interior during the rule of Ben Ali, and he claimed that Faycal Garbaa died insane due to the torture he underwent.</p><p>Ourida Kaddouci&nbsp;<a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ofH6Ztk05j0">declared</a>&nbsp;that the marginalization of the poor regions and their deprivation from basic amenities is also a kind of torture that led to the suffering of numerous citizens who protested against the dictatorship. Besma Belaii&nbsp;<a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LvRH4xOZCBI">stated</a>&nbsp;that the oppressive state stole everything from her including her dreams.</p><p class="mag-quote-center">The witnesses&nbsp;<a href="https://www.mediapart.fr/journal/international/251116/la-tunisie-decouvre-avec-douleur-les-crimes-de-ben-ali-et-de-bourguiba">revealed</a>&nbsp;how superficial the claim was that Bourguiba’s government was progressive and that a state of law prevailed during the time of his successor Ben Ali.</p><p>Bechir Labidi&nbsp;<a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B4mhl_RI8hw">said</a>&nbsp;that although he was hesitant to take part in the “Truth and Dignity Commission”, he decided to so as not to let the state write history and for future generations and researchers to know the truth.</p><p>Labidi’s wife&nbsp;<a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cWR1H1RI3mk">recounts</a>&nbsp;the day their son was arrested and what he went through and how she had to travel between different prisons, from the north to the south of the country, just to spend a few minutes with her companion and her son; while the secret police were stifling her and her daughter and watching their every step making their lives a living hell.</p><p><span class="mag-quote-right"> It is important that a law be enacted to criminalize the whitening of dictatorships.</span></p><p>This is how it was for all of the families of those who suffered. The witnesses&nbsp;<a href="https://www.mediapart.fr/journal/international/251116/la-tunisie-decouvre-avec-douleur-les-crimes-de-ben-ali-et-de-bourguiba">revealed</a>&nbsp;how superficial the claim was that Bourguiba’s government was progressive and that a state of law prevailed during the time of his successor Ben Ali. They also unveiled the scope of the human rights violations.</p><p>What the victims recently&nbsp;unveiled at the “Truth and Dignity Commission” is quite important to rewrite the history of the country without biases. However, the problem was that the victims responded positively while those responsible for their torture&nbsp;<a href="http://www.justiceinfo.net/fr/component/k2/30821-tunisie-le-silence-des-tortionnaires-lors-des-premi%C3%A8res-auditions-publiques.html">hid away</a>&nbsp;and did not take part. This is a clear indicator of the oppressor’s continued denial.</p><p>The presidency was also absent from the opening ceremony of the “Truth and Dignity Commission”. It was expected that they would at least be at such a historic event symbolically to express their support of, and solidarity with the victims and to condemn the abuse of the state&nbsp;apparatus of citizens’ rights.</p><p>Today, it is crucial that transitional justice be empowered and that the “Truth and Dignity Commission” be left alone to fulfill its role in enabling the victims to continue their lives and integrate back into society. They should get material and psychological compensation for the damage that befell them in the hopes of healing their wounds.</p><p>Besides, it is important that a law be enacted to criminalize the whitening of dictatorships so that those longing for the past stop their hopeless ventures of trying to falsify history and turn the truth inside out.</p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/north-africa-west-asia/mohamed-salah-omri/tunisia-s-moment-of-truth-process-outcomes-expectations">Tunisia’s moment of truth: process, outcomes, expectations</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/north-africa-west-asia/tunisia-performing-justice-in-difficult-times"> Tunisia: performing justice in difficult times</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/north-africa-west-asia/francis-ghil-s/something-is-rotten-in-state-of-tunisia">Something is rotten in the state of Tunisia</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/north-africa-west-asia/debora-del-pistoia-lamia-ledrisi/tunisia-s-fight-against-its-revolutionary-youth">Tunisia’s fight against its revolutionary youth</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/north-africa-west-asia/anouar-jamaoui/culture-of-dialogue-in-tunisia">UGTT and the culture of dialogue in Tunisia</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/north-africa-west-asia/anouar-jamaoui/impact-of-coalition-on-ennahda-and-nidaa-tounes">The impact of the coalition on Ennahda and Nidaa Tounes</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/north-africa-west-asia/anouar-jamaoui/will-essebsi-reconstruct-himself">Will Essebsi reconstruct himself?</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/north-africa-west-asia/anouar-jamaoui/presidential-election-and-linguistic-violence-in-tunisia">The presidential election and linguistic violence in Tunisia</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/north-africa-west-asia/anouar-jamaoui/decline-of-political-islam-in-tunisia">The decline of political Islam in Tunisia</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/north-africa-west-asia/anouar-jamaoui/tunisia-takes-steps-on-road-toward-democracy">Tunisia takes steps on the road toward democracy</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-country"> <div class="field-label"> Country or region:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Tunisia </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-topics"> <div class="field-label">Topics:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Civil society </div> <div class="field-item even"> Conflict </div> <div class="field-item odd"> Democracy and government </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> North Africa, West Asia North-Africa West-Asia Tunisia Civil society Conflict Democracy and government human rights torture Anouar Jamaoui Violent transitions Revolution Mon, 13 Feb 2017 07:23:49 +0000 Anouar Jamaoui 108760 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Why sectarianism fails at explaining the conflict in Syria https://www.opendemocracy.net/north-africa-west-asia/danny-makki/why-sectarianism-fails-at-explaining-conflict-in-syria <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>While sectarianism may be a component, its role as the primary cause of the war remains secondary.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/549460/PA-29551170.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title="NurPhoto SIPA USA/PA Images. All rights reserved."><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/549460/PA-29551170.jpg" alt="NurPhoto SIPA USA/PA Images. All rights reserved." title="NurPhoto SIPA USA/PA Images. All rights reserved." class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" width="460" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>NurPhoto SIPA USA/PA Images. All rights reserved.</span></span></span>The primordialist assumption that the war in Syria is of an exclusively sectarian nature is fundamentally flawed. Sectarianism may be a component in the conflict, however its role as a generating cause of the unrest falls under scrutiny. &nbsp;</p> <p>The brutal conflict now approaching its sixth year is generally considered sectarian in character, as a popular majority Sunni struggle against a minority led government, but this is highly simplistic and ignores the significant cross-religious attachments and ties which have served as the greatest counter-reaction to sectarianism in Syria. </p> <p>There is no evidence to suggest that in the lead up to the 2011 uprising, sectarianism was rife in Syria, or that the country’s religious groupings were at breaking point.</p> <p>With a population of roughly 24 million, Syria's ethnic and religious diversity is unique, with up to 60 percent&nbsp;Sunni Muslim and a wide array of minorities from Alawites, Christians, Kurds and Druze making up the remainder, it has an explosive socio-religious mix and has been dominated by a secular Baathist ideology for over half a century.</p> <p>It could be argued that sectarianism in Syria was overshadowed significantly by a strong sense of national identity; Syria prior to the current conflict did not have a sectarian problem on a significant scale. There were some tensions and soft rivalries between different religious communities, but the strong sense of Syrian identity was at large.</p> <p>Sectarian identity was clearly a secondary aspect of the conflict, the lack of interest in partition of the country on religious or ethnic lines is the prime manifestation of this. As Jorg Dostol, fellow at the Center For Syria Studies <a href="http://gspa.snu.ac.kr/sites/gspa.snu.ac.kr/files/(2014)%20%E2%80%98Analyzing%20the%20domestic%20and%20international%20conflict%20in%20Syria%20Are%20there%20lessons%20from%20political%20science%E2%80%99.pdf">explains</a>, “in fact, there exists no serious domestic demand in Syria to solve the current crisis by splitting the country into ethnically homogenous smaller states”.&nbsp;</p> <p>The 1982 Muslim Brotherhood <a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Islamist_uprising_in_Syria">uprising</a> is an ideal example: it was located in the central heartland of Syria in the traditionally conservative city of Hama, however equally conservative Sunni-mojority areas such as Daraa and Idleb were free from revolt.</p><p>The Daraa region where the uprising was sparked in 2011, is predominantly populated by Sunni Arabs but traditionally known for upholding an unwavering history of loyalty to the Syrian government. Daraa has produced more than its fair share of party and state officials. This suggests that socio-economic disparity was a fundamental factor for the political unrest. </p><p>A comparison between the 1982 and 2011, shows that sect or religious identity based on old aged ideological ties had no relation to the actions of communities in Syria.</p> <p>The presence of religious militias and fighters from both sides of the conflict with the religious tensions and ideological escalation they bring, has given the Syrian arena a sectarian dimension, however this was a phenomenon externally imposed rather than one with deep roots within the country's social fabric. &nbsp;&nbsp;</p> <h2>The economy or the sect? </h2> <p>The role of political economy as a conduit for social protest and discord cannot be disregarded. Economic grievances were an important factor central to the uprising against the Syrian government in March 2011. This dissatisfaction could be directed towards a sectarian narrative as Syria expert Nicholas Van Dam <a href="http://www.nikolaosvandam.com/pdf/article/19830101nvdamarticle01us.pdf">elucidates:</a> “The overlap of sectarian, regional and socio-economic contrasts could have a mutually strengthening effect. Popular discontent and socio-economic tensions could sometimes be directed and even stimulated through sectarian channels”. </p><p>The socio-economic conditions that allow sectarianism to thrive are therefore equally important to the presence of sectarianism itself. Bashar Al-Assad's biographer, David Lesch, <a href="https://csis-prod.s3.amazonaws.com/s3fs-public/legacy_files/files/attachments/060309_lesch_summary.pdf">predicted</a> in 2005 that economic problems could lead to popular unrest, “at worst the country could implode, with regime instability leading to a potential civil war among Syria’s varied ethnicities and religious sects, with radical Islamist groups waiting in the wings to assert themselves as the political, social, and economic environment deteriorates”.</p> <p>Corrupt business networks and circles were the norm in the Syrian economy in the lead up to 2011. In 2010 Syria was in 127th place on the index of financial transparency. In a country where economic growth was stagnating, the discontent and anger were at times channeled through sectarian avenues. </p><h3>Colonial divisions</h3><p>The history of identity politics and colonial division in Syria shows episodes where national unity has triumphed in the face of division.</p> <p>The Sykes-Picot agreement in 1916 partitioned the Arab world into sub-states to be merged into the respective British and French empires. Syria fell under a French mandate heralding another phase of colonialism after the centuries led rule of the Ottoman Empire. </p> <p>From the beginning of their colonial rule, the French sought to divide Syria into four sectarian sub-states in order to make ruling the country easier. This plan for partition was heavily opposed by the indigenous and heterogeneous Syrian population. The French plan to divide Syria backfired spectacularly sparking a series of local tensions and led to the <a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Great_Syrian_Revolt">Great Syrian revolt in 1925</a>, in which all sects and religious groups participated.</p> <p>The primordialist approach that sectarianism is a reflection of old age historic differences cannot be applied in Syria, it has been proven to be simplistic and lacking in depth. Other factors contributed to sectarianism, but unlike Iraq, Syria does not have a history of genuine sectarian division.</p> <p>A close inspection of the narrative surrounding the crisis exposes numerous assumptions regarding the nature of political identity in the country, with a strong disregard for political economy,&nbsp;social fabric, ideology and colonialism. While sectarianism may be a component, its role as the primary cause of the war remains secondary.&nbsp;</p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/north-africa-west-asia/jameela-freitas/exiled-syrian-actress-helping-young-refugees-deal-with-trauma-with-th">The exiled Syrian actress helping young refugees deal with trauma using theater</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/joseph-daher/syria-grassroots-democracy-future-prospects-part-ii">Syria: grassroots democracy, future prospects (Part II)</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/loubna-mrie/aleppos-forgotten-revolutionaries">Aleppo&#039;s forgotten revolutionaries</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/north-africa-west-asia/irfan-chowdhury/syria-prospects-and-solutions">Syria: prospects and solutions</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/north-africa-west-asia/umar-lateef-misgar/fall-of-aleppo-day-after">Fall of Aleppo, the day after</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/murtaza-hussain-marwan-hisham/syria-s-voice-of-conscience-has-message-for-west">Syria’s “voice of conscience” has a message for the west</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/north-africa-west-asia/nicolas-pirsoul/fight-for-mosul-danger-of-arming-sunni-opponents-to-daesh-and-sunnish">The fight for Mosul: the danger of arming Sunni opponents to Daesh and the Sunni/Shia power struggle </a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/can-europe-make-it/yazan-al-shrif/i-am-human-speaking-to-you">I am a human, speaking to you</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-country"> <div class="field-label"> Country or region:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Syria </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-topics"> <div class="field-label">Topics:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Conflict </div> <div class="field-item even"> Culture </div> <div class="field-item odd"> Democracy and government </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> North Africa, West Asia North-Africa West-Asia Syria Conflict Culture Democracy and government sectarianism Identity identity politics Danny Makki Violent transitions Revolution Sun, 05 Feb 2017 18:20:34 +0000 Danny Makki 108591 at https://www.opendemocracy.net ‘The Art of the Deal’ in the Arab Gulf: how Trump could strike a new bargain with Bahrain https://www.opendemocracy.net/north-africa-west-asia/husain-abdulla/art-of-deal-in-arab-gulf-how-trump-could-strike-new-bargain-with-bahra <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>America’s new president has yet to fully articulate his foreign policy strategy but one thing is abundantly clear: the next four years are going to be a far cry from the Obama Doctrine.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/549460/PA-29928839.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title="Victoria Jones PA Wire/PA Images. All rights reserved."><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/549460/PA-29928839.jpg" alt="Victoria Jones PA Wire/PA Images. All rights reserved." title="Victoria Jones PA Wire/PA Images. All rights reserved." class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" width="460" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Victoria Jones PA Wire/PA Images. All rights reserved.</span></span></span>America’s new president, Donald J. Trump, has yet to fully articulate his foreign policy strategy - or to at least <a href="http://www.npr.org/2017/01/13/509588590/trumps-cabinet-picks-break-with-him-on-at-least-10-major-issues">unify the divergent views</a> of his cabinet - but one thing is abundantly clear: the next four years are going to be a far cry from the Obama Doctrine. </p> <p>For the people of Bahrain, a key US ally in the Arab Gulf, this is cause for both apprehension and optimism. </p> <p>From his campaign to his first week in office, Trump has shown little interest in promoting human rights at home or abroad, instead often specifically <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2016/jul/01/donald-trump-anti-terror-policies-war-crimes-waterboarding-torture">advocating</a> for violations of international law. It is profoundly disconcerting for pro-democracy activists and human rights defenders in the Middle East and North Africa to hear Trump <a href="http://www.cnn.com/2016/07/06/politics/donald-trump-favorite-dictators-and-strongmen/">praise</a> the likes of Saddam Hussein, Bashar al-Assad, and Muammar Gaddafi - the same autocrats they’ve risked their lives to resist. </p> <p>Still, many of President Obama’s lofty promises for the region fell far short of expectations. In May 2011, just after Bahrain’s Al Khalifa monarchy violently suppressed the country’s pro-democracy uprising, for example, Obama <a href="https://obamawhitehouse.archives.gov/the-press-office/2011/05/19/remarks-president-middle-east-and-north-africa">emphasized</a> America’s commitment to human rights reform and peaceful reconciliation. </p><p>“The only way forward is for the government and the opposition to engage in a dialogue, and you can’t have a real dialogue when parts of the peaceful opposition are in jail,” Obama <a href="https://obamawhitehouse.archives.gov/the-press-office/2011/05/19/remarks-president-middle-east-and-north-africa">said</a>, instructing his State Department to prohibit arms sales to Bahrain until it had demonstrated significant progress toward rectifying the political crisis. </p> <p>More than five years and a whole presidential term later, however, the Obama administration failed to make good on this initial stand. Rather, since 2011, it largely just <em>stood by</em>. </p> <p>In some cases, the administration even allowed itself to be outmaneuvered by a Bahraini government eager to restore its international image in the absence of real reform. </p> <p>During Obama’s penultimate year in office, Bahraini officials managed to reverse America’s strongest bargaining position – and eliminate much of its leverage – with little more than slight of hand. Playing to American calls to implement the recommendations of the Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry (BICI), a committee of international jurists tasked with investigating abuses perpetrated in 2011, the Bahraini government made several reform-minded overtures, including the release of prominent political leader Ebrahim Sharif. </p> <p>The US promptly took the bait and <a href="https://www.nytimes.com/2015/06/30/world/middleeast/us-lifts-ban-on-bahrain-aid.html">lifted</a> a punitive arms ban it had imposed in the aftermath of the 2011 crackdown, restoring weapons sales to the Bahraini army and national guard. State Department officials <a href="http://www.adhrb.org/2015/08/adhrb-welcomes-senate-bill-to-reinstate-us-arms-exports-ban-on-bahrain/">cited</a> “meaningful progress on human rights and reconciliation,” such as Sharif’s release.</p> <p>But, in a shamelessly lazy bait and switch, Bahraini authorities rearrested Sharif just weeks later, almost instantly reneging on whatever deal had been struck. As would become characteristic of the Obama administration’s last two years of engagement with Bahrain, it <a href="http://www.reuters.com/article/us-bahrain-arrest-usa-idUSKCN0PO29H20150714">criticized</a> the decision but did nothing – content for Bahrain to have its weapons and its political prisoners too.</p> <p>America’s return on this failed deal has only gotten worse in the months leading up to the Trump presidency. </p> <p>As the campaign kicked into high gear over the summer, so too did the Bahraini government’s renewed assault on dissent, religious freedom, and independent civil society. </p><p>Among other abuses, since May 2016 Bahraini authorities have <a href="https://www.nytimes.com/2016/06/12/world/middleeast/freed-from-prison-zainab-al-khawaja-flees-bahrain.html?_r=0">exiled</a> prominent rights activist Zeinab al-Khawaja, <a href="http://www.middleeasteye.net/news/bahrain-s-leading-shias-religious-leader-charged-corruption-1212082735">denaturalized and prosecuted</a> the country’s Shia religious leader Sheikh Isa Qassim, <a href="http://www.adhrb.org/2016/12/11474/">judicially harassed</a> more than 75 Shia clerics for offenses related to free expression and assembly, <a href="http://www.adhrb.org/2016/12/11554/">rearrested</a> leading human rights defender Nabeel Rajab on charges stemming from his activism, and <a href="http://www.adhrb.org/2016/09/bahrains-high-court-appeals-upholds-dissolution-al-wefaq/">dissolved</a> the largest political opposition group in Bahrain, Al-Wefaq National Islamic Society.</p> <p>Most disturbingly, on 15 January 2017 - days before Trump assumed office - Bahrain inaugurated a new era of its own: for the first time in two decades, the government <a href="http://www.adhrb.org/2017/01/bahrain-executes-stateless-torture-victims-following-king-hamads-authorisation/">executed</a> three of its own citizens on politically-motivated charges. Sami Mushaima, Ali Al-Singace, and Abbas Al-Samea were shot to death by firing squad after being tortured into providing false confessions related to a 2014 bombing attack on the police. </p><p>Like hundreds of other cases of torture in Bahrain, the government did not investigate these abuses; rather, it <a href="http://birdbh.org/2017/01/bahrain-court-of-cassation-upholds-death-sentence-against-3-torture-victims/">stripped</a> the men of their citizenship in trials rife with due process violations and expedited their case through the appeals track, holding the executions just one week after Bahrain’s highest court confirmed the sentence and only a month after a lower court had done the same. </p> <p>Bahrain and the US are allies and partners in the fight against terrorism, a mission that will surely center on President Trump’s international agenda. But the Bahraini government has repeatedly and increasingly demonstrated its willingness to eschew domestic reconciliation for violence and instability, even using its broken counterterror legislation as a weapon against internal dissent.</p> <p>It is clear what Bahrain gets out of this partnership – but is the US truly benefiting?</p> <p>President Trump, a businessman devoted to the “art of the deal,” has <a href="http://www.washingtonexaminer.com/trumps-new-foreign-policy-we-will-stop-looking-to-topple-regimes/article/2608687">declared</a> he will “pursue a new foreign policy that finally learns from the mistakes of the past,” even if that means retooling alliances as longstanding and fundamental as NATO. “Our goal is stability,” he says, not “toppl[ing] regimes and overthrow[ing] governments.”</p> <p>If this is the case, then there is no better time for the president to renegotiate terms with Bahrain than now. Before unchecked oppression turns stability to a pipe dream, the Trump administration must indeed learn from the mistakes of its predecessors and finally play that last and most powerful bargaining chip: the US Navy’s Fifth Fleet base in Manama. </p> <p>Congress has previously <a href="http://www.al-monitor.com/pulse/originals/2015/05/bahrain-fifth-fleet-relocation-bill-threat.html">requested</a> contingency planning to relocate the base should Bahrain’s political situation continue to deteriorate, but we’re now reaching a fever pitch of repression. President Trump must show allies that even Obama <a href="https://www.nytimes.com/2016/03/10/world/middleeast/obama-criticizes-the-free-riders-among-americas-allies.html">referred to</a> as “free riders” – like Bahrain and its domineering neighbor, Saudi Arabia – that the US is willing to seriously reconsider the necessity of the facility and, by extension, the deeper conditions of the partnership.</p> <p>If Obama’s lip service to human rights masked the true transactional nature of the relationships between America and its autocratic allies in the Gulf, perhaps Trump’s professed penchant for hard-nosed bargaining could at least put the US back in the driver’s seat. </p> <p>Moreover, with Trump’s supposed dedication to an isolationist, “America 1st” foreign policy, far-flung security arrangements – epitomized by a facility like Manama’s Fifth Fleet base – may no longer be vital to America’s interests. </p><p>From that position of strength, the president would be wise to ensure that any continuing partnership with Bahrain <em>does </em>serve America’s ultimate interests in the region, which remain stability-<em>cum</em>-democracy and human rights.</p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/north-africa-west-asia/julie-m-norman/trump-is-creating-real-threat-to-security-by-trumpeting-false-one">Trump is creating a real threat to security by trumpeting a false one</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/north-africa-west-asia/sam-jones/prosecuting-politics-judicial-assault-on-bahrain-s-opposition">Prosecuting politics: the judicial assault on Bahrain’s opposition</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/north-africa-west-asia/karim-zidan/fight-sports-diplomacy-bahrain-s-mma-venture-distracts-from-tension-human">Sports diplomacy: Bahrain’s martial arts venture distracts from human rights abuses </a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/north-africa-west-asia/sam-jones/democratic-doublespeak-in-bahrain-how-government-spins-its-summer-of-repres">‘Democratic’ doublespeak in Bahrain: how the government spins its summer of repression</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/north-africa-west-asia/marc-owen-jones/bahrain%E2%80%99s-uprising-resistance-and-repression-in-gulf">Bahrain’s uprising: resistance and repression in the Gulf</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/north-africa-west-asia/david-wearing/britain-and-bahrain-still-allied-against-democracy-and-human-rights">Britain and Bahrain: still allied against democracy and human rights</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-country"> <div class="field-label"> Country or region:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Bahrain </div> <div class="field-item even"> United States </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-topics"> <div class="field-label">Topics:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Conflict </div> <div class="field-item even"> Democracy and government </div> <div class="field-item odd"> International politics </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> North Africa, West Asia North-Africa West-Asia United States Bahrain Conflict Democracy and government International politics middle east Husain Abdulla Violent transitions Wed, 01 Feb 2017 17:43:40 +0000 Husain Abdulla 108492 at https://www.opendemocracy.net