North-Africa West-Asia cached version 14/11/2018 21:24:39 en Did the US and Britain collude in the murder of Jamal Khashoggi? <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>With Khashoggi’s murder, many secrets that both the Kingdom and its western allies wanted buried, will stay that way.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p class="western"> <span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//" alt="" title="" width="460" height="307" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Pictures of Jamal Khashoggi during the demonstration in front of Saudi Arabian consulate in Istanbul, Turkey, 25 October 2018. Picture by Depo Photos/Zuma Press/PA Images. All rights reserved.</span></span></span>The brutal murder of Jamal Khashoggi, the Saudi journalist and <em>Washington Post </em>columnist, has sent shockwaves around the world and highlighted the mendacity of the Kingdom he once called home. </p> <p class="western">The liberal press has painted Khashoggi as a pioneering reformer and uncompromising dissident who was killed for cutting too close to the bone in his criticisms of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. </p> <p class="western">In response, some US right-wing outlets have described Khashoggi as an Islamist, an al-Qaeda sympathiser and a secret Muslim Brotherhood operative, killed because MBS saw him as an extremist threat. The characterisation fits neatly into the Saudi Kingdom’s own narrative. In a phone call with the White House, Crown Prince Muhammed bin Salman <span><a href="">described</a></span> Khashoggi as a dangerous Islamist and Brotherhood member.</p> <p class="western">Meanwhile, the US and UK governments have engaged in the obligatory moral denunciations while also hang-wringing about what to do. The Saudi war on Yemen continues apace with US and British-backing, and despite some hot rhetoric, no steps have been taken to “punish” the Saudi regime. </p> <p class="western">Both sides are wrong. The conservative media has cherry-picked Khashoggi’s background to depict him as a militant Islamist, a picture which simply goes too far. But equally, the liberal portrait of him as a reformist democrat is one-sided, misleading and self-serving. </p> <p class="western">The truth about Khashoggi is more complex.</p> <h3 class="western"><strong>Me and Khashoggi</strong></h3> <p class="western">Just over a decade ago, I was in discussion with Jamal Khashoggi to explore the prospect of doing my next book on Saudi Arabia. At the time I was represented by the literary agency Curtis Brown and Khashoggi worked for the Saudi government as a media aide based out of the Saudi embassy in London.</p> <p class="western">He wanted to find a journalist who could travel to the Kingdom and be granted unprecedented access to officials and documents by authorities. The Saudis were keen to launch a PR offensive after widespread criticism of the Kingdom’s relationship to Islamist terrorists. The project would give them an opportunity to set the record straight and prove their innocence.</p> <p class="western">My agent thought it might be a good way to follow on from my previous work. My first book, <em>The War on Freedom</em>, argued that the Bush administration had sought to cover-up evidence of high-level Saudi support for the 9/11 operation – mine was among 99 books <span><a href="">officially selected</a></span> for use by the 9/11 Commissioners in their inquiry into the attacks. </p> <p class="western">I had documented not just evidence that the Saudis had overseen decades-long financing of Osama bin Laden’s al-Qaeda as a sort of ‘protection racket’ – keep the money rolling to prevent the terrorists from targeting the Saudi Kingdom at home – but that much of this had gone on under the watchful eyes of the US and British governments. This was a ‘special relationship’ to keep the oil spigot on. </p> <p class="western">When my agent had first broached the idea to Khashoggi, the Saudis were supposed to see it as an opportunity to ‘tell their side of the story’ of events leading up to 9/11, through a journalist willing to listen. While I was open to the idea, I made clear to Khashoggi that my previous work had been highly critical of the Kingdom’s relationship to terrorism. I understood that their goal was to clear the Kingdom’s name, but I told him I’d have to follow wherever the evidence led, whether it extolled or incriminated the Kingdom, and would need complete editorial freedom.</p> <p class="western">The idea was discussed enthusiastically at first, but after some back-and-forth exploration of what the Saudis were hoping to achieve, it quickly became clear that Khashoggi wasn’t interested in onboarding a writer who wanted to dig between the lines. Khashoggi lost interest, and the project died.</p> <h3 class="western"><strong>Khashoggi, Prince Turki and 9/11</strong></h3> <p class="western">In the end, Khashoggi’s bid to rehabilitate the Kingdom’s public image was helped out in other ways. The 9/11 Commission’s final report went out of its way to absolve the Saudis of direct culpability in the attacks. “Saudi Arabia has long been considered the primary source of al-Qaeda funding, but we have found no evidence that the Saudi government as an institution or senior Saudi officials individually funded the organisation,” the report said.</p> <p class="western">But there remain strong grounds to doubt the veracity of these findings, and allegations of high-level Saudi complicity in terrorism have not gone away. Even former 9/11 Commissioners have spoken on record about how they believed their entire investigation had been <span><a href="">compromised</a></span> by the White House, <span><a href="">accusing</a></span> the US government of wanting to “cover up” the full story of 9/11.</p> <p class="western">Earlier this year, a US lawsuit on behalf of families of the 9/11 victims <span><a href="">linking</a></span> Saudi officials to the 9/11 attacks was cleared to proceed by US District Judge George Daniels in New York. </p> <p class="western">“The [Saudi] Ministry of Islamic Affairs in the United States and other parts of the world had government officials who conspired with al-Qaeda to support them and to support the 9/11 hijackers," said Andrew Maloney, a lawyer for the 9/11 victims' families.</p> <p class="western">"The 9/11 Commission back in 2003 and 2004 either didn’t pursue, didn’t want to pursue, covered up for the Saudis or just never got around to finishing the investigation. That’s where we picked it up, and we’ve collected a lot more information and evidence since then.”</p> <p class="western">Since Khashoggi’s horrifying assassination in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, the international press has painted him as an outspoken and brave reformer, a journalist who was targeted by the Kingdom because his criticisms of its failures were just too much for the regime to tolerate. </p> <p class="western">This is not an entirely false narrative, but it is highly selective. Many journalists who knew Khashoggi have spoken of his aspirations for democracy in the Middle East. Yet for most of his career Khashoggi was not a reformer at all, but an insider embedded at the heart of the Saudi establishment. By framing him purely as a dissident, the press has obscured the real motivations behind his murder.</p> <p class="western">At the time of my brief discussions with him, Khashoggi happened to work for a man at the heart of some of the issues I had been investigating: he was a media aide to Prince Turki al-Faisal, then Saudi Ambassador to London and later Washington, and previously Saudi intelligence chief for 25 years before he abruptly left the post just prior to the 9/11 attacks. </p> <p class="western">It was Prince Turki as former head of intelligence who brokered the Saudis’ fateful deal with al-Qaeda, according to documents and testimony from Taliban insiders cited by Vanity Fair journalists Anthony Summers and Robbyn Swan. In their book <em>Eleventh Day</em> (2012), they report that under al-Faisal’s deal, as early as 1995 the Saudi royal family paid “protection money” to Osama bin Laden on condition that he avoided targeting the Kingdom. </p> <p class="western">The NSA was <span><a href="">closely monitoring</a></span> the operation, which saw hundreds of millions of dollars channelled to bin Laden through philanthropic activity. As I previously <span><a href="">reported</a></span> for <em>Middle East Eye</em>, US, British, German and French intelligence were intimately familiar with the Saudi funding streams to al-Qaeda militants, many of which also had direct ties to MBS’ father, the incumbent King Salman. These intelligence agencies had concluded that in the 1990s, Salman controlled with an “iron fist” the key financial operations of a range of charities (such as the Saudi High Commission, the Third World Relief Agency and the International Islamic Relief Organisation) which had been found systematically diverting hundreds of millions of dollars to al-Qaeda militants. Several 9/11 hijackers had trained in camps funded by this cash.</p> <p class="western">By some accounts, Prince Turki al-Faisal’s relationship with bin Laden continued up to 9/11. According to the French daily <em>Le Figaro</em>, French intelligence sources claimed that two months before 9/11, bin Laden was&nbsp;<span><a href="" target="_blank">flown</a></span>&nbsp;to the American hospital in Dubai for kidney treatment under Prince Turki’s patronage, where the al-Qaeda chief met CIA officials.</p> <p class="western">Although denied by both Washington and Riyadh, Summers and Swan corroborated the story from credible sources who “described the visit independently, in detail, and at the same time”. They also interviewed Alain Chouet, a French DGSE intelligence chief at the time of the alleged meeting: “Did Chouet credit the account of the contact in Dubai? He replied, ‘Yes.’ Did the DGSE have knowledge at the time that CIA officers met with bin Laden? ‘Yes,’ Chouet said. ‘Before 9/11,’ Chouet observed. ‘It was not a scoop for us – we weren’t surprised.'”</p> <p class="western">If accurate, why were the Saudis and Americans attempting to court the al-Qaeda terror chief months before he executed the 9/11 attacks? </p> <p class="western">Today, it has been largely forgotten that through much of the 1990s, the Clinton and Bush administrations had <span><a href="">covertly sponsored</a></span> the Taliban in Afghanistan, despite it harbouring bin Laden’s network, while the group was negotiating multi-million dollar pipeline contracts with US companies Unocal and Enron. At one of these meetings in the summer of 2001, Bush administration negotiators warned the Taliban that they would face US “bombs” by October if they refused to comply with a US-brokered plan to get them to form a federal government with the Northern Alliance, making the Trans-Afghan pipeline possible. Former French intelligence officer Jean-Charles Brisard speculated that the 9/11 attacks may have been a pre-emptive strike prompted by US threats.</p> <p class="western">So if Saudi Arabia has been complicit in the expansion of Islamist terrorism, questions need to be asked about the West’s role in this complicity. </p> <p class="western">Khashoggi’s former boss, Prince Turki, had indeed surfaced repeatedly in allegations made in earlier versions of the US 9/11 lawsuit against Saudi Arabia. Legal papers from the case, <span><a href="">described</a></span> by <em>The Observer</em> in 2003, positioned Prince Turki at the heart of al-Qaeda’s financing structure. Prince Turki also admitted that six Britons jailed by the kingdom while he was intelligence chief had been tortured.</p> <p class="western">Khashoggi himself played a direct role in Prince Turki’s shenanigans, having befriended bin Laden in the 1980s. Though he disavowed bin Laden’s turn to terrorism, as veteran Middle East reporter John R. Bradley <span><a href="">points out</a></span>, it was Khashoggi himself who had been “employed by the Saudi intelligence services to try to persuade bin Laden to make peace with the Saudi royal family.” Khashoggi was “the only non-royal Saudi who had the beef on the royals’ intimate dealing with al Qaeda in the lead-up to the 9/11 attacks.”</p> <h3 class="western"><strong>Apologetics for atrocities</strong></h3> <p class="western">No wonder Khashoggi didn’t want to take the project with me any further. His boss was implicated in issues that I was interested in corroborating. And so was MBS’ father. </p> <p class="western">Needless to say, at this time, Khashoggi did not challenge the torture, terror-financing and draconian crushing of dissent that went on inside the kingdom. Despite publishing some mild criticisms of Salafism in various editorial roles, he remained a <span><a href="">loyal supporter</a></span> of the Saudi monarchy as an institution. </p> <p class="western">Even after becoming ‘free’ of the Kingdom in a self-imposed exile, he never discussed the Kingdom’s dubious relationship with terrorism – and while focusing his criticisms on MBS, he studiously avoided the latter’s biggest weak spot: the evidence of his father’s historic complicity in terror financing. Bradley argues that Khashoggi’s intimate knowledge of Saudi dealings with bin Laden up to 9/11 “would have been crucial if he had escalated his campaign to undermine the crown prince.”</p> <p class="western">And even Khashoggi’s more trenchant criticism of the Kingdom was a major departure from a long record of apologetics. As Rula Jebreal <span><a href="">observes</a></span> in <em>Newsweek</em>, “He has been described as a dissident in the weeks following his disappearance. But until 18 months ago, he had been loyal to the official Saudi line on every major issue, from Yemen to Syria to state-sanctioned sectarianism inside the kingdom.”</p> <p class="western">In January 2016, the UN warned that the dropping of cluster bombs by the Saudi military across civilian areas in Yemen could be a war crime. At this time, Khashoggi – glorified now as a brave critic of Saudi Arabia’s colossal violence during the Yemen war – whitewashed the war and defended the use of cluster bombs. In an <span><a href="">interview</a></span> with Al Jazeera’s Mehdi Hasan, Khashoggi justified the Saudi war in Yemen as a bid to defend the “freedom” of Yemenis from an Iran-backed Houthi “dictatorship”; lauded Saudi’ regional foreign policies as designed to “stand with the people”, and dismissed reports of massive Saudi bombing of Yemeni civilians saying that “cluster bombs had not been used against civilians”. At this time, the UN had <span><a href="">recorded</a></span> just over 8,100 civilian casualties.</p> <p class="western">That year, Khashoggi wrote a column in the Saudi-funded London-based newspaper <em>al-Hayat</em> calling on Sunnis to band together and “<span><a href="" target="_blank">defend themselves as a sect</a></span>.” This followed a longer tradition. Depicted now as an avid enthusiast for the Arab Spring, in 2011 he <span><a href="">supported</a></span> the Saudi-led military crackdown on the largely Shi’a demonstrations in Bahrain, inspired by the Arab Spring, and supported MBS’ execution of Shi’a cleric Sheikh Nimr al-Nimr in 2016. </p> <p class="western">Al-Nimr had been executed along with 46 other prisoners on terrorism charges. In reality, al-Nimr had simply played a key role in Shi’a-led protests in the al-Qatif region of eastern Saudi Arabia, calling for political reform and elections. But Khashogghi insisted that this was sedition.</p> <p class="western">“It is a clear message to anybody who wants to overthrow the government,” he <span><a href="">said</a></span>. “Nimr openly called for overthrow of the system and allegiance to Wilayit al-Faqih, [Iran's Supreme Leader]. That amounts as treason by any democratic country,” he continued. “[His execution] is&nbsp;not about his view as a Shi’a; it’s about his call to overthrow the government and swear allegiance to a foreign leader.”&nbsp; </p><p class="western">In short, Khashoggi used Sheikh al-Nimr’s minority orientation as a Shi’a to demonise him as an agent of Iran and criminalise his calls for democratisation as a treasonous threat to the kingdom. </p> <p class="western">The brutal execution of 46 people in 2016 did not spur Khashoggi to dissent. The clue to the uptick in Khashoggi’s criticisms of the Saudi regime over the last 18 months is in the closing line of <span><a href=";utm_term=.fa5195321ef2">one of his</a></span> <em>Post</em> columns: </p> <p class="western">“I want you to know that Saudi Arabia has not always been as it is now. We Saudis deserve better.” </p> <p class="western">Describing the arrest of 30 people by Saudi authorities in September 2017, Khashoggi explained: “Some of the arrested are good friends of mine, and the effort represents the public shaming of intellectuals and religious leaders who dare to express opinions contrary to those of my country’s leadership… Several others, myself included, are in self-exile and could face arrest upon returning home.”&nbsp; </p><p class="western">Khashoggi’s antipathy toward the Kingdom was, then, a result of MBS’ ruthless shake-up of the establishment, rather than a principled desire for democracy. He longed for a return to the ‘old’ Saudi Arabia. The one before Muhammad bin Salman, before his friends in the monarchy had been arrested, when Saudi had not always been “as it is now”.</p> <h3 class="western"><strong>A political threat to the Saudis – and the West?</strong></h3> <p class="western">The ‘old’ kingdom, though, was not substantially different from the new – it had head-chopping, internal repression, and sectarianism. The distinguishing feature of MBS’ regime was that, in the Crown Prince’s eagerness to consolidate his power, he had moved against his potential rivals in the royal family itself, many of whom were close associates of Khashoggi. </p> <p class="western">In this context, Khashoggi’s vocal stance against MBS was deeply political. Khashoggi was an insider whose criticisms channelled the perceptions of others inside the monarchy. The assassination of Khashoggi must be understood, then, not as the Kingdom seeking to crush the dissent of a strident independent journalist – but rather to extinguish somebody who was once an integral part of the Saudi royal establishment, but who was now challenging the authority and integrity of the Crown Prince.</p> <p class="western">In other words, Khashoggi was the casualty of a wider war inside the Saudi Kingdom between different factions of the ruling elite.</p> <p class="western">We can only speculate about what specific actions might have prompted MBS’ security apparatus to finger Khashoggi as someone who needed to be killed, and in such a brazen and incompetent way.</p> <p class="western">Among them is that Khashoggi was planning to upscale his political activism in a way that MBS might have perceived as favouring rivals Qatar and Turkey. One of the main partners for his Democracy for the Arab World Now (DAWN) project was the Council of American Islamic Relations (CAIR), which in 2014 was listed by Saudi ally, the UAE, as a “terrorist” group. </p> <p class="western">CAIR, an American-Muslim advocacy organisation, was eventually quietly removed from the list – US authorities have never had a problem with the group. More relevant for this story is the fact that the listing was part of a wider draconian effort by the UAE to <span><a href="">blacklist</a></span> any organisation remotely connected to political activities that could be construed as undermining the Gulf status quo, by accusing them of fronting for the Muslim Brotherhood.&nbsp; </p><p class="western">The listing reveals less about the nature of CAIR than it does the paranoia of the Gulf regimes. By partnering with CAIR, Khashoggi signalled a relationship with political activism equated by the Saudis and its Gulf allies with terrorists. </p> <p class="western">A close friend of Khashoggi, Azzam Tamimi – a UK Muslim Brotherhood leader who has previously endorsed suicide bombing and has ties to Hamas – <span><a href="">confirmed</a></span> that the DAWN project represented “both Islamists and liberals”. </p> <p class="western">As well-connected to the Saudi establishment as he was, partnering up with the likes of Tamimi meant that the Saudis likely saw Khashoggi’s political activities as posing an unacceptable move which, if left unchecked could encourage others to do the same. Khashoggi was not a hardcore Islamist, but he was willing to mobilise his Islamist connections to challenge MBS.&nbsp; </p><p class="western">As such, his assassination was not about fighting Islamism or terrorism. Whatever Islamist connections Khashoggi had developed had been done precisely under the auspices of the Saudi establishment – if MBS was really concerned with fighting Islamism, he might look to his own father, King Salman. This was about MBS consolidating his drive to neutralise an entire faction within the Saudi establishment itself, and teaching them the ultimate lesson: look at what happens to one of your own when they dare to challenge my agenda.</p> <p class="western">Graham Fuller, former senior CIA official and Vice-Chair of the US government’s National Intelligence Council, <span><a href="">says</a></span> that the assassination fits into a pattern of Saudi Arabia’s “more aggressive and adventurous” foreign policy due to heightened geopolitical competition over leadership of the Muslim world.</p> <p class="western">But the real question, as yet unanswered, is how much did the US and Britain actually know about the plot. </p> <p class="western">The <em>Washington Post </em>has <span><a href="">interviewed</a></span> a US intelligence source who confirms that US intelligence knew of the Saudi plan to capture Khashoggi and extradite him back to Saudi Arabia, picked up via electronic intercepts of communications between Saudi officials. It wasn’t clear whether there was intelligence available that Khashoggi might be harmed, in which case there would have been a duty to warn him. Nevertheless, the intelligence was disseminated throughout the US government and was contained in reports that are routinely available to people working on US policy toward Saudi Arabia.</p> <p class="western">The revelations prompted over twenty US Congressional representatives <span><a href="">to write</a></span> to the Director of National Intelligence demanding answers on “whether Mr. Khashoggi was in fact contacted about the credible threat to his life and liberty posed by the Saudi plot to capture him” as well as “the precise date on which any arm of the US intelligence community first became aware of the Saudi plan to detain Mr. Khashoggi.”&nbsp; </p><p class="western">A <span><a href="">report</a></span> in the <em>Sunday Express</em> goes even further, citing British intelligence sources confirming that GCHQ picked up intercepts showing that a “member of the royal circle” had ordered that Khashoggi be abducted and taken back to Saudi Arabia. The sources said that the orders had “left the door open” for ‘other actions’ should the journalist prove to be troublesome, indicating that the British knew that he might be harmed. The British reportedly urged the Saudis to call off the operation.</p> <p>Neither the Americans nor the British chose to warn Khashoggi. </p> <p class="western">The <em>Express</em> report also cited another possible reason for the assassination. A close friend of Khashoggi told the paper that the journalist was about to obtain “documentary evidence” proving Saudi Arabia’s use of chemical weapons in Yemen. “All I can tell you is that the next thing I heard, he was missing,” said the friend, an unnamed Middle East academic.&nbsp; </p><p class="western">The <em>Express</em> and <em>Post</em> accounts do corroborate one another, and lend credence to the inference that the US and British governments had advanced warning of the Saudi operation against Khashoggi. Despite their reservations, it seems, they did nothing. The question, then, is why did they do nothing? </p> <p>The sudden turn in Khashoggi’s career in the year and a half before his death was not that of a liberal reformer, but that of an establishment insider determined to use his considerable high-level contacts inside and outside Saudi Arabia to undermine the agenda of Crown Prince Muhammed bin Salman – an agenda strongly supported by the Trump administration and May government. In doing so, Khashoggi had begun working with groups and interests tied to the Kingdom’s historic enemies, including the Muslim Brotherhood. Khashoggi not only had unparalleled connections inside the Kingdom, but with Brotherhood activists across the region opposed to Saudi designs. And he knew perhaps more than any other Saudi non-royal about the Kingdom’s sordid dealings with terrorists, much of which had occurred for decades under the purview of western intelligence agencies. </p> <p class="western">Could his discovery of evidence for Saudi Arabia’s use of chemical weapons in Yemen be the straw that broke the camel’s back? And did US and British intelligence do nothing because they worried that Khashoggi posed not just an unprecedented threat to the Kingdom, but to their own interests in the Kingdom as well?</p> <p class="western">We may never know. But one thing is clear. With Khashoggi’s murder, many secrets that both the Kingdom and its western allies wanted buried, will stay that way.</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/hannes-baumann/politics-as-if-in-riyadh">Politics “as if” in Riyadh</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/north-africa-west-asia/helen-lackner/famine-in-yemen-long-announced-now-on-our-screens">Famine in Yemen: long announced, now on our screens </a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/north-africa-west-asia/Sarah-Al-Otaibi/west-s-approach-to-saudi-arabia-one-step-forward-two-steps-back">The West’s approach to Saudi Arabia: ‘one step forward, two steps back’</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/marijn-nieuwenhuis/gassing-and-selective-applications-of-red-line-lest-we-forget">Gassing and selective applications of a ‘Red Line’: lest we forget</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"> Saudi Arabia </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 4.0 </div> </div> </div> North-Africa West-Asia North-Africa West-Asia Saudi Arabia Khashoggi United Kingdom United States Nafeez Ahmed Wed, 14 Nov 2018 10:02:52 +0000 Nafeez Ahmed 120563 at الحراسة الليلية: وجع حياة لا مهنة <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>إن هذا العمل لم يعد مهنة بل أصبح وجع حياة مستمر</p> </div> </div> </div> <p>&nbsp;</p><p dir="rtl"><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//" alt="" title="" width="460" height="307" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Artur Widak/SIPA USA/PA Images. All rights reserved.</span></span></span>نيامٌ في النهار ومستيقظون في الليل، ليسوا جنوداً في الثغور ولا ممرضات بقسم الإسعافات، والأصعب أن عملهم يجمع كل ما سبق وقد يتعداه، إنهم الحراس الليليون. وجوه مألوفة لنا وأشخاص نأتمنهم على ممتلكاتنا، غير أننا لا نتقاسم معهم قسوة الليالي وخطورة مهامهم وقد لا نتضامن مع معاناتهم. ولكي نطلع على جزء يسير من ذلك، رافقنا بعضاً منهم وتوقفنا على محطات يكررونها كل ليلة كجزء من تحديات مهنتهم الصعبة.</p><p dir="rtl">أشرف (اسم مستعار)، ليس سوى واحداً من آلاف الحراس الليليين غير المهيكلين المتوزعين بأغلب المدن المغربية، في المساء مع انقشاع ضوء النهار يباشر عمله كحارس ليلي على امتداد الشارع الأساسي بمدينة سلا المجاورة للعاصمة الرباط، وتتوزع مهمته بين حراسة المحلات التجارية والمنازل على طول الشارع والسيارات، والمراقبة واليقظة ورصد كل التحركات المشبوهة.</p><p dir="rtl">&nbsp;من جانبه، يبدأ مروان (اسم مستعار)، انطلاقته بزاويته المحورية التي تنفرد بموقعها الاستراتيجي، إذ تتيح له مراقبة وتتبع كل الحركات على امتداد الشارع، مراقباً كل زواياه ومداخله. مروان رجل خمسيني متقاعد، التحق بهذه المهنة منذ سنوات قليلة، يقول: "أفضل العمل على الجلوس في المنزل". كلب الحراسة، هو رفيقه ليلاً، رغم أنه قد يشكل عبئاً مادياً زائداً للعناية به.</p><p dir="rtl">علي (اسم مستعار)، التحق بهذا الميدان خلفاً لوالده بعد مرضه، يقول: "أنا الحارس الأساسي في هذا الحي منذ أكثر من عشر سنوات، انتقلت للعمل عوضاً عن والدي الذي أنهكه العمل ليلاً". يجلس علي بهدوء في منزل الحراسة للمراقبة الذي لا يتعدى أن يكون بيتاً خشبياً يتسع لشخص واحد، في كل زواياه نوافذ تسمح له بالمراقبة وتقيه قسوة الليالي. كما يعتبر علي نفسه محظوظاً، فالكثيرون من قرنائه لا يملكون مثيلاتها، كما يتسلح بعصا احتياطاً لهجمات يشهدها أمثاله، إذ أن &nbsp;الحذر والمراقبة أساسيتان في هذا المجال.</p><p dir="rtl">تتباين تفاصيل حكايات هؤلاء الحراس غير أنها تتقاطع في زوايا عدة، إذ يحصل الحارس الليلي على<a href=""> ترخيص</a> من المصالح البلدية، وإن كانت تفتقر لإطار قانوني ينظم عملهم، وبالتراضي مع السكان يجد الحارس لنفسه عمل براتب شهري. ويُجمع من التقيناهم على أن الرواتب لا تكفي احتياجاتهم، وأنهم يراهنون على كرم سكان الحي. ويتأسف علي أن بعض السكّان يتهرب من أداء واجب الدفع الشهري، كما قد يحرض أحدهم ضد الحارس ويتهمه بالتجسس لمضايقته. </p><p dir="rtl">وبرغم أن الحراس الليليون يقدمون خدمات جيدة وأساسية، إلا أن شركات الحراسة تزحف على المؤسسات الأساسية كالبنوك والإدارات العمومية وغيرها لاستبدالهم بموظفين أمنيين تؤمنها شركاتهم، بدعوى أن هذا القطاع غير مهيكل.</p><p class="mag-quote-center" dir="rtl">إن هذا العمل لم يعد مهنة بل أصبح وجع حياة مستمر</p><p dir="rtl">وتتم هذه العملية &nbsp;بإطار قانون يحميها، وهو <a href="">قانون 27.06</a> المتعلق بأعمال الحراسة ونقل الأموال الصادر بتاريخ 30 تشرين الثاني/نوفمبر 2007، لتأطير القطاع المتنامي بالمغرب. غير أن هذه الشركات تُتهم بتجاوزات قانونية؛ كحرمان الحراس والعمال من حقوقهم كالتأمين الصحي، والرواتب الجيدة، وتنظيم ساعات العمل. كما أنها قد تساهم في تدهور أوضاعهم المادية ودفعهم لمزاولة العمل في شروط لا إنسانية. كما يتم اتهامها بتسيير القطاع بمنطق <a href="">الفوضى</a>.</p><p dir="rtl">إلا أنه وبرغم أن هذه الشركات تحاول تقديم خدمة بديلة للحراس الليليين، غير أن بعض القطاعات والأحياء تبقى وفية لخدمات الحراس وتحاول الحفاظ على عمل هؤلاء الناس. وكما لخص مروان مهنة الحراسة الليلية فإن هذا العمل لم يعد مهنة بل أصبح وجع حياة مستمر. </p><p>&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="/ahmed-essalhi">أحلام الهجرة بتوقيت المغرب</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by 4.0 </div> </div> </div> North-Africa West-Asia Middle East Forum North-Africa West-Asia أحمد صلحي Sun, 04 Nov 2018 09:30:48 +0000 أحمد صلحي 120436 at A murky state-civil society relationship in Tunisia <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>The Tunisian state appears both open and cautious to accommodating civil society.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//" alt="" title="" width="460" height="307" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>People attend the celebration of the National Women's Day in avenue Habib Bourguiba in Tunis, Tunisia on August 13, 2018. Photo by Chedly Ben Ibrahim/NurPhoto/Sipa USA/PA images. All rights reserved. </span></span></span>Over the past few months, Tunisia has witnessed several victories for civil society, with the government making moves to promote gender equality in particular. Yet contradictory actions by the president’s office and parliament, which established a National Registry for Institutions on July 27, capture the Tunisian state’s appearance of being both open to and cautious about accommodating civil society during the democratic transition. </p><p>Since his election in 2014, Tunisian President Beji Caid Essebsi, in line with <a class="western" href="">statements</a> regarding increasing women’s rights in marriage and inheritance, has established committees tasked with increasing personal freedoms. For instance, in response to civil society organization (CSO) demands for increased freedoms, in August 2017 he established the Individual Freedoms and Equality Committee (COLIBE), tasked with drafting a report proposing relevant legislative reforms. Among the <a class="western" href=""><span>recommendations</span></a> of the report, presented to President Essebsi on June 8, 2018, were to decriminalize sodomy, guarantee equal inheritance rights for women and men, and abolish the death penalty. The state had previously used the morality laws in particular as an excuse to arrest dissidents. Parliament will likely debate the recommendations once back in session this fall. In response to COLIBE’s findings, more than 90 organizations and CSOs applauded the recommendations and <a class="western" href=""><span>formed a pact</span></a> to confirm their commitment to a civilian and democratic Tunisia. </p> <p>In response to COLIBE’s report and intense lobbying by secular women’s associations, on August 13, Essebsi also <a class="western" href=";utm_campaign=bd54e1c717-Tunisia_Weekly_Update_170802_COPY_01&amp;utm_medium=email&amp;utm_term=0_75a06056d7-bd54e1c717-215968841">reiterated his commitment</a> to women’s inheritance equality. The president plans to present parliament with a draft law to abolish legal restrictions that currently prevent all women from gaining full access to their inheritance, in accordance with Islamic family law. However, even with these restrictions removed, women’s actual inheritance would be left to individual families’ discretion. It is possible that Essebsi will follow through on his promise since it does not directly challenge the family’s autonomy over inheritance. Though this law has not yet been drafted, on August 26, Ennahda announced that it will <a class="western" href=";utm_campaign=ac35ea828d-Tunisia_Weekly_Update_170802_COPY_01&amp;utm_medium=email&amp;utm_term=0_75a06056d7-ac35ea828d-215969297">vote against</a> the potential inheritance bill because it contradicts Islam and therefore the constitution. The debates around inheritance will likely continue and be among the <a class="western" href=";mkt_tok=eyJpIjoiWlRCaFl6bG1aRGxpWmpKaCIsInQiOiIwZ1hmaHdYVDFNa0ZmSWU2RGNqSVY2NmtZZG15RlRpSUs5bERDSEc2QWtzczI2eFF1MUZqb0JDTEs2XC94XC9jVkF2a3RSNDdkWldRZXhjbTZnSWNNbncyOWJpUG9ydSt3M1ZEa01LeEV3eG5iNW9RMjBTSWt1aHZZT3Jid0l5ekZlIn0%3D">defining issues of the 2019 presidential and parliamentary elections</a>.</p> <p>Although Essebsi has appointed female cabinet members, called for equal inheritance rights, and lifted restrictions on Muslim women’s marriage to non-Muslims, some women’s rights activists have cautioned against blindly accepting his actions as a genuine effort to improve women’s lives. Some <a class="western" href="">critics argue</a> that Essebsi is simply a secular politician interested in implementing top-down reforms and disarming Islamists by making declarations—for example regarding inheritance equality and marriage to non-Muslims—that undermine religious authorities and Ennahda itself.</p> <p>These “wins” for civil society are counterbalanced by other actions by the state, particularly parliament, which is cautious of CSOs’ expanding role in politics. On July 27, parliament passed <a class="western" href="">Law 30 of 2018</a>, under which Tunisian CSOs are required to register with the new National Registry for Institutions. The law mandates that CSOs report their activities to the state, including information about their staff, assets, and mergers with other associations. The law also subjects CSO personnel who submit false registration information to five years in prison and a maximum fine of 50,000 dinars ($18,000). While this law appears to abide by Tunisia’s overall legal framework, local and international groups have claimed the law is unconstitutional because it infringes upon <a class="western" href="">freedom of association</a>. Many groups fear that the registry may enable state monitoring and censorship—a tactic used by the Ben Ali regime to silence its critics and stifle civil society.</p> <p>Overall, the state appears both open and cautious to accommodating civil society. The progressive 2014 constitution, the COLIBE report, Essebsi’s proposed inheritance bill, reversal of the 1973 Ministry of Justice directive&nbsp;prohibiting Tunisian women’s marriage to non-Tunisian men, and the 2017 Article 39 of the&nbsp;<a class="western" href=""><em>loi intégrale</em>&nbsp;</a>to eliminate violence against women law, are signs the state is listening to CSO concerns and implementing the recommended reforms. However, the National Registry Law and Ennahda’s opposition to inheritance reforms are indicative of the state’s ongoing struggle to truly accommodate civil society demands. </p> <p> The state’s cautious approach to CSOs may be traced back to their relationship during the Ben Ali era, when the regime limited the number of independent CSOs to less than a dozen. By stifling civic participation and restricting CSO activities, Ben Ali attempted to discredit or silence associations that called for political reforms. Throughout his tenure as president, Ben Ali imprisoned members of civil society and banned their associations when they called for accountability for corruption and human rights abuses. </p> <p>Yet several prominent associations did advocate for a variety of issues that directly affected Tunisians. The Tunisian Association of Democratic Women (ATFD) and the Association of Tunisian Women for Research and Development (AFTURD) focused on <a class="western" href=""><span>women’s rights</span></a>, while the Tunisian General Labor Union (UGTT) negotiated on behalf of Tunisian workers. The Tunisian Human Rights League (LTDH) and the Tunisian branch of Amnesty International primarily focused on human rights abuses that state officials committed. All five associations remain relevant today and are fundamental to negotiating the transition. UGTT and LTDH were two of the four recipients of the <a class="western" href=""><span>2015 Nobel Peace Prize</span></a>, while ATFD and AFTURD <a class="western" href=""><span>helped mobilize</span></a> as many as 6,000 women during the 2012 demonstrations in response to the first draft of Tunisia’s new constitution, wherein <a class="western" href=""><span>Article 28</span></a> stated that women were “complementary,” not equal, to men.</p> <p>Between 2011 and 2018, Tunisians created almost <a class="western" href="">300 women’s associations</a> alone, according to government statistics and women activists. Many other new associations sought to address pressing issues such as government accountability and countering violent extremism. While the proliferation of CSOs demonstrates a strong desire for civic engagement in the budding democracy, even more significant is the cooperation between veteran and new associations whose <a class="western" href="">missions drastically vary.</a> Associations such as the <a class="western" href=""><span>Free Sight Association</span></a> (which promotes dialogue on a range of national and regional issues related to preventing violent extremism), <a class="western" href=""><span>Al-Bawsala</span></a> (which monitors the work of the government), and <a class="western" href=""><span>the Coalition for Tunisian Women</span></a> (which promotes women’s political participation), are working with veteran groups like ATFD and other seasoned groups to pursue their agendas. This gives new associations assistance with mobilization tactics that veteran associations have used in the past, such as organizing sit-ins and protests, lobbying parliamentarians, and circulating petitions. For example, twenty-five veteran and new CSOs circulated and signed a <a class="western" href=";utm_campaign=ebac1539f9-Tunisia_Weekly_Update_170802_COPY_01&amp;utm_medium=email&amp;utm_term=0_75a06056d7-ebac1539f9-215968841">statement</a> condemning the National Registry law. Cross-ideological and cross-generational coalitions such as the coalitions on gender parity and violence against women may be indicative that the budding civil society is aiding in the transition to democracy. These coalitions include veteran secular ATFD, new secular associations, and new Islamist associations. By working across ideological and generational differences, they are demonstrating that women’s associations can prioritize women’s issues over their differences. </p> <p> This explosion of organizations has forced the transitioning state to pay more attention to civil society than it did during the Ben Ali era. Since the state is attempting to democratize, it is no longer able to repress non-state actors that seek to hold it accountable. It is expected to make space for CSOs to freely operate as part of its commitment to respecting freedom of association and assembly, in accordance with the constitution. The public also expects the state to take CSO recommendations into consideration when forming its policies and agenda—and when the state ignores civil society, it often pays a price. For example, in 2013, civil society played an important role in galvanizing the international community and Tunisians against the ruling Ennahda party and its coalition partners after the government failed to address dire economic and security conditions or bring perpetrators to justice for two political assassinations. While CSO discontent and mobilization were not the sole reasons behind the government’s eventual resignation, they contributed to it. In the end the government stepped down from power in response to the pressure.</p> <p>For Tunisia to reach its full democratic potential, the state must continue to strengthen its relationship with civil society and build trust with its leaders. The state must continue to listen to civil society grievances and consider their policy recommendations through formal mechanisms such as the <a class="western" href="">Truth and Dignity Commission</a> tasked with addressing past grievances and transitional justice. The state should also continue to engage civil society members and work with them on legislation as it did on the violence law. Law 30 of 2018 and the new National Registry for Institutions can hurt Tunisia’s reputation as the shining example of a society where an independent civil society flourishes since they limit civil society’s ability to operate freely without harassment or repression.</p> <p><em>This analysis is based on qualitative content analysis of official documents and fieldwork in Tunis in 2018.</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/safa-belghith/saida-manoubiya-story-of-tunisian-feminist-icon">The story of Saida Manoubiya: A Tunisian feminist icon</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/north-africa-west-asia/mai-choucri/mining-and-employment-community-struggles-in-tunisia-and-south-af">Mining and employment: community struggles in Tunisia and South Africa</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/north-africa-west-asia/chouaib-el-hajjaji/black-tunisian-women-ceaseless-erasure-and-post-racial-ill">Black Tunisian women: ceaseless erasure and post-racial illusion</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <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> </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"> 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 4.0 </div> </div> </div> North-Africa West-Asia North-Africa West-Asia Tunisia Civil society Democracy and government Maro Youssef Fri, 02 Nov 2018 10:00:18 +0000 Maro Youssef 120029 at Palestine’s forgotten refugees in Lebanon <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Massive cuts by the Trump administration to the budget of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency will exacerbate an already marginal existence for Palestinian refugees in Lebanon.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//" alt="" title="" width="460" height="225" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>A wall mural in Burj Barajneh refugee camp, Beirut. Picture by Stephen McCloskey, all rights reserved.</span></span></span>The United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) plays a critical front-line role in providing key services and support to 5.3 million Palestinian refugees living in Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, the Gaza Strip and the West Bank. These services include: primary health centres, schools, women’s centres, vocational and training centres, and community rehabilitation centres. It also provides jobs, cash support and food aid to refugees consigned since the ethnic cleansing of Palestine during the <span><a href=""><em>Nakba</em></a></span> (Catastrophe) of 1948 to a life of poverty and marginalisation. </p><p>UNRWA has recently been subjected to severe cuts from the Trump administration which normally provides one-third of its total annual budget of <span><a href="">$1.2 billion</a></span>. So dire have been the implications of these cuts that UNRWA managed to open its 711 schools for 526,000 students on September only by leveraging additional finance of $238 million from donors. The agency has <span><a href="">said</a></span> that it still needs to secure an additional $217 million to ensure that the schools remain open for the rest of the academic year. </p> <p><strong>Refugee crisis in Lebanon</strong></p> <p>UNRWA’s precarious funding stream is particularly troubling for the Palestinian refugees of Lebanon given the added pressure on UN services created by the influx of refugees from the conflict in Syria. Since the start of the Syrian war in 2011, 6.6 million Syrians have been internally displaced and <span><a href="">5.6 million</a></span> more have sought refuge outside their country. An overwhelming majority of Syria’s refugees are hosted by other countries in the Middle-East, most notably Turkey (3.5 million and 63 percent) and Lebanon (<span><a href="">976,002</a></span> and 17.4 percent). Among the refugees forced to flee Syria are Palestinians which an American University of Beirut (AUB) <span><a href="">report</a></span> estimated to number 40,000 in 2015, many of whom have taken refuge in UNRWA camps in Lebanon. According to the UN there are <span><a href="">504,000</a></span> registered Palestinian refugees living in 12 camps in Lebanon but only between 260,000 and 280,000 remain in-country. While there has been no official census carried out to confirm these numbers, the UN can monitor the number of refugees through take-up of its services. The difference in the number of registered refugees and users is likely to result from migration during and after the upheaval of the Lebanese <span><a href="">civil war</a></span>. </p> <p>Palestine Refugees from Syria (PRS) are often competing with Palestine Refugees from Lebanon (PRL) for employment, mostly in low-paid, manual jobs which perpetuate poverty. The AUB report found unemployment levels at 23.2 percent for PRL and 52.5 percent for PRS which makes it ‘challenging for many families to afford basic needs and to access services in times of need such as hospitalization and specialist care’. The report also worryingly flagged that PRS are ‘almost completely reliant on UNRWA to cover their health needs’ reflecting a concerning level of dependence among PRS on the UN, NGOs and other international agencies working in Lebanon. The plight of these refugees tends to be forgotten or ignored by the media which focuses instead on the Occupied Territories of the Gaza Strip, West Bank and East Jerusalem</p> <p><strong>Marginal status in Lebanon</strong></p> <p>Even before the surge in refugee arrivals from Syria, Palestinians have been living a marginal existence in Lebanon where the majority of refugees and their descendants have not been naturalised despite fleeing to the country in 1948. According to <span><a href="">UNHCR</a></span>, Palestinians are denied access to 36 professions including medicine, farming, fishery and public transportation. They are also prohibited from owning property which denies them a foothold in Lebanese society and the opportunity to improve the lives of future generations. </p> <p>In terms of employment, UNHCR found that Palestinians receive lower salaries than Lebanese nationals in the same occupations suggesting discrimination in the workplace and exploitation by employers of the high unemployment rate among refugees. With Palestinians subjected to a perpetual ‘foreigner’ status in Lebanon despite their lengthy residency, a 2010 AUB <span><a href="">survey</a></span> of Palestinian refugees found that just 37 percent of the working-age population was employed and just 6 percent of the labour force in university training. The same survey reported that two-thirds of the Palestinian refugee population was poor (living on less than $6 a day), one-third had a chronic illness and four percent had a ‘functional disability’. </p> <p>High levels of unemployment in a socially deprived environment has resulted in severe mental health problems with the AUB survey finding that 21 percent of respondents had experienced ‘depression, anxiety or distress’. It found that if UNRWA was not present in Lebanon, overall poverty among refugees would increase by 14 percent and extreme poverty would increase threefold, findings which have added resonance given the severe <span><a href="">cuts</a></span> to UNRWA’s budget recently announced by the Trump administration. </p> <p>UNRWA has 32,350 pupils registered in its 69 schools in Lebanon although these numbers may have been swollen by refugees from Syria. The exclusion of Palestinians from most professional occupations and high levels of unemployment among refugees can reduce expectations among young people from pursuing a full-time education. Palestinian children are denied access to Lebanese public schools and their families are unlikely to have the finance to send them to private schools and universities. This results in just a trickle of Palestinian youngsters making it to third level education.&nbsp; </p><p><strong>Cuts to UNRWA’s budget</strong></p> <p>According to <span><a href="">UNRWA</a></span>, ‘Lebanon has the highest percentage of Palestine refugees living in abject poverty’ among the five regions in which it works which makes Washington’s cut of <span><a href="">$300m</a></span> (£228m) from the UN agency’s budget deeply alarming. This cut has already forced UNRWA to axe <span><a href="">250 jobs</a></span> in the West Bank and Gaza and, represents an ‘existential threat’ to the future of the agency which is operating with a deficit of $256 million. </p> <p>US disengagement from UNRWA followed the decision of the Trump administration to move the United States (US) embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem thereby reversing a longstanding US commitment to have the status of the contested Holy City agreed as part of a negotiated Middle-East settlement. By recognising Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, President Trump seemingly dashed Palestinian aspirations for recognition of East Jerusalem as the capital of a future Palestinian state. Trump <span><a href="">said</a></span> this move was ‘a long overdue step to advance the peace process’, but this view was overwhelmingly <span><a href="">rejected</a></span> by the United Nations General Assembly when it voted 128-9 in favour of a resolution condemning Washington’s policy shift. </p><p>The Palestinian Authority has since broken off diplomatic relations with Washington and, by way of riposte, President Trump, in one of his legendary bad-tempered tweets, <span><a href="">said</a></span> ‘we pay the Palestinians HUNDRED OF MILLIONS OF DOLLARS a year and get no appreciation or respect’. The disrespectful Palestinians were subsequently made to suffer through UNRWA cuts but what is really afoot here? </p> <p><strong>The ‘deal of the century’</strong></p> <p>President Trump’s son-in-law and advisor, Jared Kushner, has been engaged in shuttle diplomacy around the Middle-East trying to sell the ‘deal of the century’ which is an economic development plan for Gaza and the West Bank. In return for forfeiting their right to return and abandoning their refugee status, Palestinians are being asked to accept what Robert Fisk <span><a href="">describes</a></span> as ‘cash for peace instead of a land for peace’ deal. At a stroke, the ‘deal of the century’ would remove the need for UNRWA as there would be no more Palestinian refugees, now benefiting from economic incentives from Washington and its regional neighbours such as Saudi Arabia and Egypt.&nbsp; </p><p>It seems a grave miscalculation to presume that Palestinians who have suffered for generations the life of the refugee would trade their right to return and claim to a Palestinian state with a capital in East Jerusalem, for ‘economic regeneration’. It seems doubtful, too, that there would be much enthusiasm for such a deal among Washington’s allies with Saad El Gammal, head of the Egyptian parliament's Arab Affairs Committee <span><a href="">suggesting</a></span> that ‘Most of the Arab world – including Egypt and Saudi Arabia – have rejected the U.S.-proposed Deal of the Century’. </p> <p>In the context of the ‘deal of the century’, it is difficult to view the cuts to UNRWA as anything more than the cynical use of aid for political ends. This was made clear when <em>Foreign Policy</em> magazine released e-mails which showed that Jared Kushner ‘had <span><a href="">pressed</a></span> Jordan to strip its more than&nbsp;2 million&nbsp;registered Palestinians of their refugee status so that UNRWA would no longer need to operate in the Middle Eastern country’. What is particularly scabrous about this endeavour to downsize UNRWA is the fact that the five million Palestinians under its care are being put at risk of even graver humanitarian suffering. </p> <p><strong>Lebanon needs support</strong></p> <p>As a small state with a delicate political balance and unfinished business from a long civil war, Lebanon has been overwhelmed by the influx of over one million refugees from Syria. It should be commended for accepting such a large number of refugees which comprise one quarter of its population and makes a mockery of the Syrian refugee intakes by many wealthier European states with a greater capacity to be more generous. </p><p>Lebanon should be supported to a greater level by multilateral bodies to help manage its refugee population, many of whom have been subjected to trauma and human rights abuses during the Syrian conflict. However, Lebanon could itself be more supportive of the Palestinian refugee community resident in the country since 1948 by offering them full citizenship and removing barriers to over 30 professions which deny them full integration into Lebanese society. </p><p>By refusing Palestinians permission to own property they are denied a foothold in society and a legacy for their children. Palestinians make a significant economic contribution to the Lebanese economy despite their economic disadvantages and this needs to be reciprocated with greater equality and dignity for Palestinians living in Lebanon. This is urgently needed in the area of education so that Palestinians have greater access to all levels of the education system, particularly third level where they currently hold a tiny minority of places. The recently announced US cuts to the UN Mission for Palestinian refugees places this vulnerable population at even greater risk of humanitarian suffering and social marginalisation. By lifting the barriers to their social and economic integration, Lebanon can assist the Palestinian community to greater agency, independence and equality. </p> <p> It is imperative, too, that European Union member states and regional actors in the Middle-East step up to the plate and fill the funding gap left by the US government’s withdrawal from UNRWA. This agency separates Palestinian refugees from complete penury and destitution, particularly in the troubled post-conflict state 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="/north-africa-west-asia/yair-svorai/only-jewish-state-in-middle-east">The only Jewish state in the Middle East</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/north-africa-west-asia/piergiuseppe-parisi/creeping-annexation-of-identity-culture-history-and-memor">A ‘creeping annexation’ of identity, culture, history and memory</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <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> </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"> Lebanon </div> <div class="field-item odd"> Syria </div> <div class="field-item even"> United States </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 4.0 </div> </div> </div> North-Africa West-Asia North-Africa West-Asia United States Syria Lebanon Palestine UNRWA Trump refugees Stephen McCloskey Fri, 02 Nov 2018 07:00:34 +0000 Stephen McCloskey 120413 at Popular oral culture and sectarianism, a materialist analysis <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>How and by whom is sectarianism produced and maintained? And for what reasons?<a href=""><strong>العربية </strong></a></p> </div> </div> </div> <p lang="en-US"><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="// الطوائف⁩_0.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="// الطوائف⁩_0.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="325" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'></span></span> <a href="">SyriaUntold</a> in partnership with openDemocracy’s NAWA published this year a series of testimonies reflecting on the issue of sectarianism in Syrian society and its links with popular oral culture. The contributions were written by Syrian men and women from different ethnic and religious background. Introducing this series on the “other” and oral sectarian culture in Syria, Mohammed Dibo, the editor-in-chief of SyriaUntold raised several questions to this not new, as he rightly reminds the reader, phenomenon of sectarianism. “<a href="">Where did all this sectarianism come from? Where was this sectarian consciousness hiding?</a>” Or is it something entrenched in the “Arab” mind?&nbsp; </p><p lang="en-US"> <strong>Roots of sectarianism</strong></p> <p lang="en-US"> If the answer is that sectarianism is the result of an essential and primordial component of the Arab / Muslim mind — as promoted by some academics and politicians [1] —then on these premises no solution can be found outside the realm of a so called “consociational” sectarian political solution. This is the model in place in Lebanon and Iraq, which officially divides power between the various religious communities and ethnicities, while in reality serving the political and economic elites of these groups. </p> <p lang="en-US"> Alternatively, if this is not the case, as argued by this author and several testimonies in this series, the key question becomes: how and by whom is sectarianism produced and maintained? For what reasons? </p> <p lang="en-US"> Many of the testimonies emphasise how the Syrian regime exploits sectarianism to divide the Syrian people. For example, the writer <a href="">Omar Kaddour </a>speaks of a silent war that became a declared project by the stereotyping of each identity, while journalist and feminist activist <a href="">Milia Eidmouni</a> explains how she had this constant feeling that Christians were guests in their own country and that they had to respect the regime that “provided protection” to her community. </p> <p lang="en-US"> For his part, <a href="">Ahmed Khalil </a>argues that the regime was not the only one preventing any real and public discussion of sectarian beliefs, although sectarian exploitation was the main tool used by Damascus to remain in power until today. Such discussion was also constrained by Syrian society and social traditions governing relations between the diverse communities of Syria. He cites for example the issue of mix marriages, which were very rare and unwelcome by the vast majority in Syria. Many testimonies actually attested that within each community insulting jokes / stereotypes / expressions or a feeling of insecurity toward other groups were relatively common. <a href="">Mohammed Dibo</a> recalls exchanges with his Alawite family that reflected a fear of history repeating itself. </p> <p lang="en-US"> It is clear that opposition groups have not been innocent when it comes to instrumentalising sectarian discourses and practices, which have increased in the past few years. Moreover, some have portrayed the struggle in Syria as a primarily sectarian one and therefore one has to choose his / her camp between “Sunnis” and “Alawis” as described by <a href="">Milia Eidmouni</a>. Similarly, I remember that early on sectors of Syrian democratic and progressive activists would mock the characterizations made behind close doors by Syrian official opposition representatives of the Syrian National Council and Syrian Coalition to describe someone as “Christian (or Druze), but opponent”, “Kurdish, but nationalist (or patriotic)”, “Alawi, but honourable”, etc… </p> <p lang="en-US"> Sectarian identity has been increasingly equated with a political position by multiple camps. Unfortunately, this trend has not been restricted to conservative and Islamic fundamentalists groups among the opposition, it has become increasingly evident in liberal sectors as well. In a more sophisticated attempt to explain sectarian dynamics within the state of Syria, some liberal opposition personalities have not necessarily characterized the regime as Alawite, describing it instead as a authoritarian and privatized state run by the Assad family. This regime nevertheless adopted policies favoring religious minorities, leaving Sunnis generally “angry” at this situation as they felt discriminated against and excluded from clientelist networks. This sentiment sets the stage for <a href="">discourses</a> on the “oppressed Sunni” majority. <br /></p> <p lang="en-US"> Although the dominant role of Alawi personalities at the head of the regime and its coercive instruments (the military and the secret services) is not in dispute, I will show that reducing the nature of the state or its dominant institutions to an “Alawite identity,” or favouring religious minorities and discriminating a whole community (Arab Sunnis) is problematic. This approach does not seize upon the complex networks of alliances made by the regime’s elite. Again this does not mean that sectarianism has not been a major tool employed by the regime in order to control and divide the Syrian population. There have been sectarian massacres and forced displacement by regime forces and its allies against impoverished Sunni populations involved in the uprising or at least suspected of sympathies towards it, while eliminating most forms of democratic and non-sectarian resistance in the country. </p> <p lang="en-US"> This is however very different than saying that the regime is against all Sunnis. The regime is not opposed to Sunni populations or a particular Sunni identity per se, as some has claimed, but to hostile constituencies, which have been in their far majority from Sunni popular backgrounds in impoverished rural areas and mid-towns, in addition to the suburbs of Damascus and Aleppo. Such simplification overlooks the Sunni support for the regime, especially in Damascus and Aleppo, and the Sunni presence within regime institutions and loyalist militias. Just as other religious and ethnic communities, Syrian Arab Sunnis were ‘formed’ through various elements (class, gender, regional origin, religion, etc.) and do not have a single political position. This was actually mentioned in the testimonies, especially regarding the ones writing from or on Damascus speaking about the social differences and the urban and rural divide.</p> <p lang="en-US"> Class has to be thus understood as a social relation, and factors such as gender, age, national and ethnic origin, citizenship status are part of what constitutes class as a concrete social relation. This has consequences as well on how Sunni individuals are treated differently by the regime, just as other individuals from other sects.</p> <p lang="en-US"> I argue, following the argument made by late Lebanese Marxist Mehdi Amel in the 1980s during the Lebanese Civil War, against any attempt to ascribe class position to one’s belonging to a particular sect, and to build alliances on a sectarian basis. According to Amel, such alliances would further entrench the sectarian dynamic inherent to the system and thus strengthen the position of those in power. Instead, Amel advanced a position that highlighted the contradictory class nature of different communities, one in which the role of sectarianism helped to obscure relations of power and domination within the community itself. [2]</p> <p lang="en-US"> Now l will try to explain the dynamics of sectarianism and how to try challenge it. </p> <p lang="en-US"><strong> The Political economy of sectarianism: Unequal and combined development</strong></p> <p lang="en-US"> In order to understand the permanence of sectarianism and other elements mentioned by Mohammad Dibo such “ethnic discrimination, tribalism, regionalism, rural and urban tensions” in Syria and more broadly in the region, we have to look at the material conditions (the political and socio-economic system and structures locally, regionally and internationally) we and the people of the region live in to explain.</p> <p lang="en-US"> It is important first to remind that Syria is a dominated country on the international political scene characterized by unequal and combined development.<a class="sdfootnoteanc" href="#sdfootnote1sym">1</a> In this perspective, two important issues have to be analysed: 1) the nature of the state and its apparatus and 2) the state’s popular base. As argued by academic scholar Gilbert Achcar, the analysis of these elements is much more complicated in societies rooted in unequal and combined development than in the case of a bourgeois democratic state ruling over a modern type of civil society. The reason is that archaic social structures and categories are mixed to a modern type of social stratification and where forms of archaic dominations are amalgamated with political institutions of modern inspirations. [3] The main archaic remnants in the MENA region that affects the nature of the political domination and of the state are tribalism, regionalism and sectarianism, especially the latter in the case of Syria. These factors are inherited from the period preceding the bourgeois era, which ideologically promoted a national ideal. They correspond to an era where parental and lineage structures were determinant (tribalism) and where religion was the political ideology per excellence (sectarianism). [4] The degree of resilience and presence of these elements in the societies of the region varies according to its age and depth of modernization. [5] </p> <p lang="en-US"> The explanation for the resilience of these factors should however not be found in any kind of Arabic or Islamic particularities, but is linked to the dynamics of unequal and combined development in a global capitalist system. Agents of modernization, whether foreigners or indigenous, have themselves used these archaic factors to consolidate their own powers. Lacking popular legitimacy, the various regimes of the region have generally nurtured tribal, sectarian and / or regional clienteles as guarantees against popular uprising, constituting the armature of power. </p> <p lang="en-US"> In Syria, the regime is a patrimonial one, in the traditional Weberian definition. In other words, it is an absolute autocratic and hereditary power, which can function through a collegial environment (parents and friends) and ownership of the state. The armed forces are dominated by a praetorian guard (a force whose allegiance goes to the rulers, not to the state), as is the case for economic means and the levers of administration. In this type of regime, it's a type of crony capitalism that develops, dominated by a state bourgeoisie. In other words the members and people close to the ruling families often exploit their dominant position guaranteed by the political power to amass considerable fortunes. The rentier nature of the economy strengthens the patrimonial nature of the state as well. [6] The centers of power (political, military and economy) within the Syrian regime are concentrated in one family and its clique, the Assad, similar to Libya under Moammer Qaddhafi or the Gulf Monarchies. This drives the regime to use all the violence at its disposition to protect its rule. </p> <p lang="en-US"> Therefore, most of the patrimonial states in the MENA region are generally characterized by a deeply corrupt trilateral “power elite” [7] as explained by Achcar:</p> <p lang="en-US"> “a triangle of power constituted by the interlocking pinnacles of the military apparatus the political institutions and politically determined capitalist class (a state bourgeoisie), all three bent on fiercely defending their access to state power, the main source of their priviledges and profits” [8] </p> <p lang="en-US"> In this perspective, and contrary to some states especially characterized by democratic bourgeois’ institutions and forms of governances, is it not possible to speak of the relative autonomy of the state in relation to the power elite.</p> <p lang="en-US"> On a more regional level, the rise of sectarian tensions after 1979 were mostly rooted as a result of the increasing political rivalry between Saudi Arabia and Iran that instrumentalized them for political objectives. This rivalry therefore boosted Sunni and Shi’a Islamic fundamentalist movements throughout the region. Various authoritarian and despotic regimes in the region have also made use of sectarianism to consolidate their power and divide their population. This is also used to divert popular classes away from socio-economic and political problems by categorizing one group (according to its sect or ethnicity) as the source of problems in the country and as a security threat, which leads to repressive and discriminatory policies against it. </p> <p lang="en-US"> The key element to understand is that sectarianism is as a product of modernity and not as a reminiscent of past history preventing the modernization of these countries, or as something that is essential to the people of the region. In addition to this, sectarianism is a powerful mechanism of control over the course of the class struggle through its creation of ties of dependence between the popular classes and their bourgeois and petit bourgeois leadership. In this manner, popular classes are deprived of an independent political existence and instead are defined (and act politically) through their confessional status, which is in the interests of bourgeois leaderships as we have seen it in Syria and elsewhere in the region.</p> <p lang="en-US"><strong> Syria’s construction of a patrimonial regime: From Hafez al-Assad to Bashar al-Assad</strong></p> <p lang="en-US"> The establishment of the modern patrimonial state occurred under the leadership of Hafez al-Assad following his arrival to power in 1970. He patiently built a state in which he could secure power through various means such as sectarianism, regionalism, tribalism and clientelism, which were managed on informal networks of power and patronage. This came alongside harsh repression against any form of dissent. These tools allowed the regime to integrate, boost or undermine groups belonging to different ethnicities and religious sects. This translated at the local level by the collaboration of various actors submitted to the regime, including state or Ba’th officials, intelligence officers, and prominent members of local society (clerics, tribal members, businessmen, etc..), who managed specific localities. The coming to power of Hafez al-Assad also opened the way for the beginning of economic liberalization, in opposition to previous radical policies of the 1960s. </p> <p lang="en-US"> Bashar al-Assad’s arrival to power in 2000 considerably strengthened the patrimonial nature of the state with a particular increasing weight of crony capitalists. The accelerated neoliberal policies of the regime led to an increasing shift in the social base of the regime constituted from its origins of peasants, government employees and some sections of the bourgeoisie, to a regime coalition with at its heart the crony capitalists – the rent seeking alliance of political brokers (led by Assad’s mother’s family, Makhlouf) and the regime supporting bourgeoisie and higher middle classes. This shift was paralleled by disempowerment of the traditional corporatist organizations of workers and peasants and their patronage networks and the co-optation in their place of business groups and higher middle classes. This did not balance or compensate however its former support base. More generally, the increased patrimonial nature of the state and the weakening of the Ba’th party apparatus and corporatist organizations rendered cliental, tribal and sectarian connections all the more important and was therefore reflected in society.</p> <p lang="en-US"> Following the uprising in 2011, the regime’s repression and policies were largely based on its main base of support, old and new: crony capitalists, security services, and high religious institutions linked to the state. At the same time, it made use of its patronage networks through sectarian, clientelist and tribal links to mobilize on a popular level. Through the war, the deepening Alawi sectarian and clientelist aspect of the regime prevented major desertions, while patronage connections served as essential elements, binding the interests of disparate social groups to the regime. </p> <p lang="en-US"> The regime’s popular base demonstrated the nature of the state and the way the power elite related to the rest of society, or more precisely in this case its popular base, through a mix of modern and archaic forms of social relations, and not through a constructed and large civil society. The regime had to rely mostly on coercive powers, which included repressive actions and installing fear, but not only. The regime could also indeed count on the passivity or at least non-active opposition of large sections of urban government employees and more generally middle class strata in the two main cities of Damascus and Aleppo, although their suburbs were often hotbeds of revolt. This was part of the passive hegemony imposed by the regime. </p> <p lang="en-US"> Moreover, this situation demonstrated that regime’s popular base was not limited to sectors and groups issued from the Alawi and / or religious minority populations, although they were predominant, but included personalities and groups from various sects and ethnicities pledging their support to the regime. More generally, large sections of regime’s popular base mobilized through sectarian, tribal and clientielist connections were increasingly acting as agents of regime repression. As argued by Steven Heydemann, “regime-society relations defined to a disturbing degree by shared participation in repression”. [9] </p> <p lang="en-US"> This resilience came at a cost however, in addition to increasing dependence on foreign states and actors. The regime’s existing characteristics and tendencies were amplified. Crony capitalist considerably increased their power as large sectors of Syria’s bourgeoisie had left the country massively withdrawing its political and financial support to the regime. This situation compelled the regime to adopt more and more a predatory behavior in its extraction of increasing needed revenues. At the same time, the clientelist, sectarian, and tribal features of the regime were reinforced. The regime’s sectarian Alawite identity was strengthened, especially in key institutions such as the army and to a lesser extent in state administrations, which is an issue the Assad leadership will have to deal with following the end of the war in a war torn country. There was also a deepening and institutionalization of repressive exclusionary practices.</p> <p lang="fr-FR"> From this perspective, it bears noting that the Syrian regime since Hafez al-Assad’s arrival to power in 1970 has used policies intrumentalizing sectarianism and primordial identities as a weapon to divide the Syrians both on religious and ethnic lines, while developing a double policy of repressing independent popular civic and secular organizations and political parties. It only allowed alternative organizations to develop under the control of the regime, while reinforcing sectarian and primary – including tribal – identities throughout contemporary Syrian history in different ways. </p> <p lang="fr-FR"> At the same time, sectarianism has also been instrumentalized by sections of the Syrian opposition, particularly Islamic fundamentalist groups but not only, and other foreign countries, especially Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Turkey, in order to build a following or mobilize constituencies on the ground against the Assad regime.</p> <p lang="en-US"><strong> Institutions of the regime: maintaining primordial identities and reactionary practices and discourses</strong></p> <p lang="en-US"> The Syrian regime’s institutions have also played an important role fanning sectarianism and ethnic hatred in society and maintaining other primordial identities or elements. The nature of political institutions is indeed a historically determined reflection of the class structure that has emerged in relation to capital accumulation. In other words, the state is not disassociated from the sphere of politics, which is not separated from the economic sphere. Similarly, it is a social relation or “the set of institutional forms through which the ruling class relates to the rest of society”. [10] This is why seeing the regime as solely Alawite, notwithstanding the alawitization of some institutions, espcially its armed repressive apparatus, does not grasp its dynamics of power and ruling system. Furthermore, the regime does not serve the political and socio-economic interests of the Alawite population as a whole, quite on the contrary. The rising death toll in the army and other militias was made up of many Alawis; insecurity and growing economic hardships have actually created tensions and fuelled animosities against regime officials among Alawite populations. </p> <p lang="en-US"> It is interesting to see at the same time that the Assad regime, father and son, continuously also tried to minimize and hide all visible signs of Alawite religiosity and promoted assimilation into the Sunni mainstream. Bashar and Hafez al-Assad both performed public prayers in Sunni mosques, while Sunni mosques were built throughout Alawite majority populated areas. The regime did not allow any form of civil representation to establish a Higher Alawite Supreme Council and there are no public religious references for the Alawite community. The Alawis follow the same religious laws as the Sunni community regarding the law of personal status (marriage, divorce, inheritance, etc…) and receive just like other Islamic minorities a Sunni religious education in schools, media and public institutions. [11]</p> <p lang="en-US"> In this perspective, sectarianism has never been a political end but remained a significant and key means of domination.</p> <p lang="en-US"> But moreover, institutions maintain through various ways the divides in the society. In the country, different rights and duties exist according to one’s religious identity and ethnicity. The 2012 constitution for example stipulates that the president must be a Muslim man and that “the main source of law is the Sharia”, which is discriminatory for the rest of religious sects and women. Syria also has eight different personal status laws, each of which is applied according to the religious sect of an individual. Christian communities follow their own laws, while Personal Status Law for all Muslims is based on a particular Sunni interpretation of Islamic Sharia, Hanafi jurisprudence and other Islamic sources. These laws also include major discriminations against women. This is without forgetting the new Decree No. 16 signed by Bashar al-Assad in September of this year, which was widely perceived as strengthening the role of the Ministry of Religious Endowment (Awqaf) in society by revising and expanding its responsibilities and its internal structure. [12]</p> <p lang="en-US"> In addition to what has been mentioned above, the patriarchal order is maintained by the maintenance of practices and legalized by law such as the so-called “honour crimes” (article 548), which are not penalized most of the time or of a maximum of 5 to 7 years, or the “<a href="الاغتصابُ-الشرعيُّ-الجريمة-المبررة/?fbclid=IwAR1Hu8cUhegNNCfMTgpJyfgX_jlM210rDfEOHIG3T7aOFo1GE7IkhIBsSxQ">legalized rape</a>” (article 489) in the case of a married couple. </p> <p lang="en-US"> Similarly, the Arab ethnic identity is the supreme one in Syria, according to the constitution, while others are tolerated as subordinated identities or nearly forbidden like the Kurdish one. Kurdish populations in Syria have suffered discriminatory and repressive policies on the political, social and cultural levels since the independence of Syria in 1946. Heinous discourses are actually very much present today regarding the Kurds among regime and pro-opposition circles presenting them as separatists and agents of the west, which all have historical roots in the country, [13] while as mentioned in the testimonies insulting jokes, social stereotypes and unease in hearing the Kurdish language in society are widespread. </p> <p lang="en-US"> This system of laws and this political framework, which are regulated along religious, ethnic and patriarchal lines, are critical to the maintenance of divisions within society. So despite the so-called “modernist” appeal of the regime, this latter has an interest in maintaining such laws as an instrument of division and domination. </p> <p lang="en-US"><strong> Conclusion</strong></p> <p lang="en-US"> Sectarianisn in oral popular culture has existed for decades in Syria and predate the Assad regime. Previous rulers maintained primordial identities as key elements in their political systems. However, under the Assad regime and in line with regional political evolutions, sectariansim was nurtured and evolved, permeating multiple aspects of Syrian society. The question now is how to challenge it.</p> <p lang="en-US"> In Lebanon, the <a href="">words</a> of Lebanese Maronite Patriarch at the time Nasrallah Sfeir in 2010 on how to deal with the sectarian system have unfortunately become a mantra for the Lebanese ruling class as well as larger segments of society: ”If we remove the confessionalism (sectarianism) of the texts before removing it from the minds, nothing will change".&nbsp; </p> <p lang="en-US"> In Syria, most of the approaches put forward to tackle sectarianism are better education, exchanges between different sects and ethnicities within society, a more inclusive history of the country, etc… These are all elements that are welcome and should be defended. However, these recommendations do not touch or challenge the core of the production and reproduction of these thoughts within society, which is the political system and its way of ruling.</p> <p lang="en-US"> As Karl Marx <a href="">wrote</a> «&nbsp;The ideas of the ruling class are in every epoch the ruling ideas, i.e. the class which is the ruling material force of society, is at the same time its ruling intellectual force. The class which has the means of material production at its disposal, has control at the same time over the means of mental production, so that thereby, generally speaking, the ideas of those who lack the means of mental production are subject to it. The ruling ideas are nothing more than the ideal expression of the dominant material relationships, the dominant material relationships grasped as ideas; hence of the relationships which make the one class the ruling one, therefore, the ideas of its dominance.”&nbsp; </p> <p lang="en-US"> A veritable challenge to sectarianism and conservative or reactionnary thoughts can only occur with a veritable break with the ruling system and its ideas. As Lebanese Palestiniane academic Ussama Makdissi wrote “to overcome sectarianism, if it is at all possible, requires yet another rupture, a break as radical for the body politic as the advent of sectarianism was for the old regime, It requires another vision of modernity&nbsp;». [14]</p> <p lang="en-US"> A sense of these elements were present at the beginning of the uprising with the massive participation from below of large stratas of the society, although certainly with contradictions. The self organization of protesters were able to pass through different political and social experiences changing their mindset, and challenging their own fears and norms imposed by society. Many testimonies show that many activists and protesters went beyond prior sectarian and ethnic stereotypes, while the dominant discourse at the beginning of the protest was for the unity and freedom of the Syrian people and against sectarianism. Similarly, the first two years also saw important participation from women in demonstrations and activities in relation to the uprising. Women played an instrumental role in the civil disobedience movement since its earliest stages. At the same time, an important element in the involvement and participation of women in the uprising was the issue of breaking social codes and overcome traditional barriers. Female activists often <a href="">agreed</a> that the beginning of the revolution opened the door for women to challenge restrictive social conventions, whether those conventions were legal, familial, religious or social. </p> <p lang="en-US"> As argued by <a href="">Mohammed Dibo</a> “experience alone can be the purge or gateway to another state”. However the remaining of the regime, militarization of the regime and the rise of Islamic fundamentalist forces imposed backward steps on these new emancipatory experiences.&nbsp; </p><p lang="en-US"> The struggle against sectarianism and other conservative behaviours and discourses is part of the struggle against the Assad regime, and to establish a radical break with the past. This break with the sectarian policies of the regime also have to oppose the sections of the oppositions that are using and producing sectarian discourses and practices, as well as preserving and promoting reactionary behaviours such as patriarchy and ethnic chauvinism. Sectarianism can only defeated by struggling in conjunction for democracy, social justice, secularism and real sovereignty against all foreign actors.</p> <p lang="en-US"> Finally, these words in the struggle against sectarianism of my late Lebanese Comrade and friend <a href="//">Bassem Chiit</a> make full sense for the case of Syria and our discussion: “It’s not a struggle for a more tolerant society. This is a class struggle, both a struggle against the dominant ideas and a struggle of the oppressed against the oppressors”. </p> <p lang="en-US">[1] Major world leaders, public intellectuals and analysts have indeed increasingly portrayed all political tensions and mobilizations in the MENA region as conflict between religious sects combating each other for centuries, if not more. The Syrian uprising was no exception and was often presented initially as a war between Sunni and Alawi, or Sunni against religious and ethnic minorities. US President Barack Obama has spoken on several occasions of “ancient sectarian differences” as a means of explaining the conflict in Syria. These “ancient divisions”, he argues, propel the inability in the Arab world, which is “rooted in conflicts that date back millennia”. Previously to the uprisings in 2011, academic Vali Nasr explained that the nature of politics in the Middle East was rather rooted “in the old feud between Shi’as and Sunnis that forge attitudes, defines prejudices, draws political boundary lines, and even decides whether and to what extent those other trends have relevance.” </p><p>[2] Amel, Mehdi (1986), <em>Fil-Dawla al-Tâ’ifiyya,</em> Beirut: Dâr al-Farabi </p><p lang="en-US"> [3] Gilbert Achcar acknowledges that all societies are rooted in some forms of unequal and combined development, no society is without history and none is exempt from passed vestiges. However what is meant by unequal and combined development goes way past the normality of historic evolution to describe the combination of social logics different at the heart of the contemporary economic and / or political system </p> <p lang="en-US"> [4] Sectarianism still exists in Northern Ireland as a relic of past colonial time, but has otherwise disappeared from the rest of Europe, while regionalism still exists. </p> <p lang="en-US"> [5] Achcar, Gilbert (2013), <em>Le peuple veut, une exploration radicale du soulèvement arabe, </em>Paris<em>, </em>Actes Sud, pp. 200-201</p> <p lang="en-US"> [6] Rent is defined as a regular revenue that is not generated by the work carried out or commissioned by the beneficiary. The dominant form of state rent in the Middle East and North African region was mining rent, such as oil, gas and other mineral products. In addition to this, the Assad regime benefitted, at different periods, from a strategic rent in reward for its “struggle” against Israel. Economic growth during both Assad regimes was chiefly rent-based, depending on oil export revenues, financial assistance received or offered because of a particular political position and capital inflows including remittances. This rent-based growth was also anti-developmental in many ways as I will show in the text.</p><p>[7] As explained by Achcar the concept of “power elite” was elaborated by C. Wright Mills who designated the “triangle of power” in control of the State </p><p lang="en-US"> [8] Achcar, Gilbert (2016), <em>Morbid Symptoms, Relapse in the Arab Uprising, </em>Stanford, Stanford University Press, p. 7</p> <p lang="en-US">[9] Heydemann, Steven (2013b), “Syria and the Future of Authoritarianism”, <em>Journal of Democracy</em>, Vol. 24, Num. 4, October, p. 71</p> <p lang="en-US"> [10] Hanieh, Adam. 2013.,&nbsp;<em>Lineages of Revolt, Issues of Contemporary Capitalism in the Middle East</em>. Chicago: Haymarket Books, p. 14</p> <p lang="en-US"> [11];; Wimmen, Heiko (2017), “The Sectarianization of the Syrian War” Wehrey F. (ed.), <em>Beyond Sunni and Shia, the roots of sectarianism in a changing Middle East, </em>Hurst, London, p. 73 </p> <p lang="en-US"> [12] It extended the powers of the Minister at different levels. Firtsly, the proposed decree permitted the ministry to establish its own commercial establishments, whose revenue would go directly to the ministry’s treasury, giving it complete financial independence, without passing through the Central Bank or the Ministry of Finance. The ministry could now outsource its property, set up tourism projects (like restaurants, hotels, and cafes) and rent its land to investors. The Decree 16 provided also for full tax exemptions for the workers in the religious field of the Ministry and waqf properties. As a reminder, the Minister of Awqaf was already the richest institution in Syria, as a result of a constant flow of charity funds and the large tracts of property that it owns, registered as religious endowments since Ottoman times. The decree allows the Ministry to govern financial and educational institutions in addition to governing artistic and cultural production, as well as establishing a religious group called “The Religious Youth Group”, to train and supervise mosque preachers, monitor public vice, and make zakat an obligatory tax for Sunni Muslims. It also establishes pre-university Sharia schools and religious councils in mosques, independent of the Ministries of Education and Higher Education. This decree also led to the strengthening of the ministry’s role at the expense of the Grand Mufti, in a power struggle of influence and material benefits (notably control of financial donations to religious charitable institutions) between the two sunni religious institutions. The decree actually authorised the minister of Awqaf to appoint the grand mufti of the republic, a right previously vested in the presidency, and limits his tenure to three years, renewable only through the minister’s approval, while stripping the mufti of the right to chair the Higher Awqaf Council, which every mufti has enjoyed since 1961, giving the job to the minister. The decree provoked significant opposition and criticisms, from both loyalist and opposition circles denouncing a deepening of the process of islamization of Syrian society. The decree was submitted to numerous amendments by MPs in parliament limiting some of the expansion of powers of the Ministry (notably the tax exemption for workers in the religious affairs, or no influence in affairs of other Ministries), although not completely. The final version of the decree after the amendments had to be adopted by Bachar Al-Assad at the time of the writing.</p><p>[13] In the 1950s and 1960s, Kurds in Syria were the main scapegoats of rising Arab nationalism in Syria – including during the UAR and afterwards with the Ba’thist rule from 1963. They were presented as hired agents working at the service of powerful foreign enemies, especially American and Zionist imperialism. </p> <p>[14] Makdissi Oussama (2000),&nbsp;<em>The culture of sectarianism, community, history and violence in nineteenth- century Ottoman Lebanon</em>, p. 174</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/mohammad-dibo/oral-culture-and-identity-in-syria-dossier">Oral culture and identity in Syria - Dossier</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-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by 4.0 </div> </div> </div> North-Africa West-Asia North-Africa West-Asia Syria sectarianism Syria and sectarianism Joseph Daher Thu, 01 Nov 2018 15:38:14 +0000 Joseph Daher 120409 at Politics “as if” in Riyadh <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Saudi Arabia first denied the Khashoggi murder and then blamed it on rogue security agents. Neither version has enjoyed much credibility but the ability to make the population repeat incredible claims is itself a form of power for Arab autocrats.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//" alt="" title="" width="460" height="307" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style=""/></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Man wearing a mask depicting Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman protests the killing of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, during a candlelight vigil outside Saudi Arabia's consulate in Istanbul, Turkey, Thursday October 25, 2018. Picture by Depo Photos/ABACAPRESS.COM. All rights reserved.</span></span></span>The <a href="">Saudi reaction</a> to the murder of Jamal Khashoggi seems, repeatedly, to defy reality. The monarchy initially rejected all responsibility. When evidence leaked by Turkish investigators became overwhelming, they changed the story to suggest a surprise physical altercation was followed by accidental death. They then acknowledged that Saudi operatives were behind the killing, but claimed it had been a rogue operation. All three versions are widely seen to lack credibility. Is this just a case of bad PR? </p><p>Part of the answer is that Muhammad bin Salman, the crown prince of Saudi Arabia, seems to have been genuinely surprised at the vehement reaction to the murder. Being caught off guard, however, is not the only probable reason for Riyadh’s doubling down.</p> <p>Once the regime denied responsibility for the crime, repeating the official story – however incredible – became a loyalty test for Saudi citizens. This is the argument <a href="">put forward by Laleh Khalili</a>, a professor in Middle Eastern politics at SOAS in London. She suggested that it is Riyadh’s way of practicing politics of “as if”. This is <a href="">an idea</a> that the scholar Lisa Wedeen first developed in the context of Syria and the personality cult that once surrounded Hafiz al-Assad, president Bashar al-Assad’s father.</p> <p>After seizing power in 1970, Hafiz al-Assad forced Syrians to parrot increasingly absurd claims. As a result, he was not only unceasingly said to be the beloved father of the nation, but also the nation’s “premier” pharmacist, lawyer, or doctor. The purpose of these absurd claims was not to achieve ideological legitimacy by offering a plausible interpretation of reality. It was, Wedeen argued, to demonstrate the power of the regime by forcing people to repeat a party line that was patently untrue. A similar dynamic seems to be at play in Riyadh.</p> <p>A recent English-language <a href="">comment piece</a> in the <em>Saudi Gazette</em> was symptomatic. It appeared on 18 October, when Riyadh was still vehemently asserting its innocence. The article asserted that the disappearance of Jamal Khashoggi was “nothing but a comedy act” that was “orchestrated by haters and ill-wishers in Qatar” – Saudi Arabia’s Gulf rival. Doha’s malicious ruse would soon be exposed and Saudi Arabia would triumph. There was also “a group that is playing a dangerous role in the dark” – an oblique reference to Saudis who were doubting the official version “by spreading rumors and circulating fake news among Saudis in an effort to make them doubt their government”.</p> <p>The comment piece clearly set out what was expected of Saudi subjects. Anyone who publicly doubted the official version of events was a “parasite” to be targeted in an “in-house cleaning”. Meanwhile the Saudi regime reportedly unleashed a <a href="">troll army</a> to stifle dissent on social media and target online activists. The <em>Saudi Gazette</em> article has to be understood as a warning to the population: play along with the politics of “as if” or face the consequences.</p> <p>A second example of Riyadh’s brazen manoeuvring was a <a href="">photo-op</a> of the king and his son the crown prince offering their condolences to Khashoggi’s son on 24 October. In the photos the young Khashoggi appears stone faced, and he <a href="">reportedly</a> left the country soon after the photos were publicised.</p> <p>As Elizabeth Tsurkov at the Forum for Regional Thinking <a href="">pointed out</a>, the meeting echoed a similar encounter 30 years ago between Hafiz al-Assad and the Lebanese Druze leader Walid Joumblatt, in the context of the Lebanese civil war. This meeting took place a few weeks after Joumblatt’s father had been assassinated, likely on the order of Hafiz al-Assad. It was a performance designed for public consumption. It was to show the son’s fealty to the ruler. This is why the son had to shake the Syrian dictator’s hand, acting “as if” Assad really was just another concerned foreign dignitary.</p> <p> Muhammad bin Salman has <a href="">courted foreign investors</a> to end the country’s oil dependence and brought social reforms to the conservative kingdom. He lifted the ban on women driving and on modern entertainment options such as cinemas and music concerts. This softening of the monarchy’s image masked <a href="">a brutal crackdown on dissent</a>. In 2017, bin Salman <a href="">imprisoned</a> dozens of tycoons so as to discipline Saudi economic elites. His security services filled the country’s prisons by persecuting <a href="">Shia activists</a>, influential <a href="">clerics</a>, and <a href="">women’s rights activists</a>. Controlling public discourse through the politics “as if” is part of the repertoire of the new Saudi authoritarianism. </p> <p>Muhammad bin Salman is not defying reality, he is forcing Saudis to defy it as proof of their loyalty. Seen this way, the alternative reality that Riyadh constructs is not so much a sign that it is losing control, but that the crown prince is tightening the reins.</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-long-announced-now-on-our-screens">Famine in Yemen: long announced, now on our screens </a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/north-africa-west-asia/Sarah-Al-Otaibi/west-s-approach-to-saudi-arabia-one-step-forward-two-steps-back">The West’s approach to Saudi Arabia: ‘one step forward, two steps back’</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/marijn-nieuwenhuis/gassing-and-selective-applications-of-red-line-lest-we-forget">Gassing and selective applications of a ‘Red Line’: lest we forget</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"> Saudi Arabia </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 4.0 </div> </div> </div> North-Africa West-Asia North-Africa West-Asia Saudi Arabia journalism power Hannes Baumann Thu, 01 Nov 2018 15:13:55 +0000 Hannes Baumann 120408 at الثقافة الشفوية الشعبية والطائفية، تحليل مادي <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p class="direction-rtl">كيف يتم إنتاج واستبقاء الطائفية وبواسطة من؟ ولأية أسباب؟ <a href=""><strong>English</strong></a></p> </div> </div> </div> <p class="western" dir="rtl" lang="en-GB"><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="// الطوائف⁩.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="// الطوائف⁩.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="325" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'></span></span>نشرت "<a href="">حكاية ما انحكت</a>" بالشراكة مع صفحة نوى منذ منتصف أيار 2018 <a href="">سلسلة</a> شهادات لنساء ورجال سوريين من خلفيات إثنية ودينية مختلفة، يتحدثون فيها عن قضية الطائفية في المجتمع السوري وصلاتها بالثقافة الشعبية الشفهية. في <a href="">مقاله الافتتاحي</a> لهذا "الملف" الجديد، طرح رئيس تحرير "حكاية ما انحكت" العربية، محمد ديبو، عدّة أسئلة، مذكّراً بحق أن ظاهرة الطائفية ليست بجديدة: "من أين أتت تلك الطائفية كلها؟ أين كان يختبأ هذا الوعي الطائفي؟ أم أنها شيء متجذر في العقل "العربي" إلخ… </p> <h3 class="western" dir="rtl" lang="en-GB"> <strong>جذور الطائفية</strong></h3> <p class="western" dir="rtl" lang="en-GB"> إذا كان الجواب هو أنّ الطائفية نتاج عنصر أساسي ووشائجي من عناصر العقل العربي/ المسلم، كما يروّج بعض الأكاديميين والسياسيين[1] فلا يمكن في هذه الحالة إيجاد حل خارج نطاق ما يسمى الحل السياسي الطائفي "التوافقي" على طريقة لبنان والعراق، حيث يتم تبادل السلطة بشكل رسمي بين مختلف الطوائف الدينية والإثنية، بينما يخدم في الواقع النخب السياسية والاقتصادية النخبوية لهذه الأخيرة…</p> <p class="western" dir="rtl" lang="en-GB"> وفي حال لم يكن ذلك صحيحاً، كما ستبين هذه السطور، وكما ذكرت عدد من الشهادات في "ا<a href="">لملف</a>"، فكيف يتم إنتاج واستبقاء الطائفية وبواسطة من؟ ولأية أسباب؟</p> <p class="western" dir="rtl" lang="en-GB"> طرحت العديد من الشهادات استغلال الطائفية من قبل النظام لتقسيم الشعب السوري، فمثلاً يتحدث الكاتب، <a href="">عمر قدور</a>، عن حرب صامتة أصبحت مشروعاً معلناً يتوسّل القوالب النمطية لكل هوية،[2] فيما شرحت الصحفية والناشطة النسوية<a href="">، ميليا عيدموني</a>، شعورها الدائم بأن المسيحيين ضيوف في بلادهم، وأنّ عليهم احترام النظام الذي "يوفر الحماية" لطائفتها.<span class="sdfootnoteanc">[3]</span></p> <p class="western" dir="rtl" lang="en-GB"> من جانبه، يشير، <a href="">أحمد الخليل</a>، أنّ النظام لم يكن الطرف الوحيد الذي يمنع أي مناقشة حقيقية وعلنية للمعتقدات الطائفية، على الرغم من أنّ الاستغلال الطائفي كان الأداة الرئيسية التي استخدمتها دمشق للبقاء في السلطة حتى يومنا هذا، فالمجتمع السوري والتقاليد الاجتماعية بين مختلف المجتمعات في سوريا حالت دون تلك المناقشة. يستشهد الخليل على سبيل المثال بقضية الزواج المختلط، والتي تعتبر نادرة جداً وغير مرغوبة من قبل الغالبية العظمى من السوريين.[4] </p> <p class="western" dir="rtl" lang="en-GB"> تشهد الكثير من الشهادات في الواقع أنّ النكات، التنميطات، التعبيرات المهينة أو الشعور بعدم الأمان تجاه مجموعات أخرى لم تكن أموراً نادرة داخل الطوائف، بل على العكس تماماً. محمد ديبو مثلاً يتذكر في <a href="">نصه</a> المحادثات التي كانت تدور ضمن عائلته وكيف كان الخوف من احتمال أن يكرر التاريخ نفسه حاضرا على الدوام…[5]</p> <p class="western" dir="rtl" lang="en-GB"> من هذا المنظور، من الواضح أنّ جماعات المعارضة ليست بريئة من الخطابات والممارسات الطائفية، والتي تفاقمت في السنوات القليلة الماضية، بل إنّها صوّرت النزاع في سوريا على أنه طائفي، وبالتالي أجبرت المرء على أن يختار معسكره بين "السنة" و"العلويين"، بحسب توصيف ميليا عيدموني.<span class="sdfootnoteanc">[6]</span> وبالمثل، أذكر أنّ قطاعات الناشطين الديمقراطيين والتقدميين السوريين كانوا منذ وقت مبكر يسخرون من التوصيفات المتداولة وراء الأبواب المغلقة للمعارضة الرسمية من "تحالف" و"ائتلاف"، والتي كانت تشير إلى شخص ما على أنه "مسيحي (أو درزي) بس معارض"، "كردي بس وطني"، "علوي بس شريف"، إلخ…</p> <p class="western" dir="rtl" lang="en-GB"> لقد أصبحت هوية المرء تُترجم أكثر فأكثر إلى موقع سياسي. وللأسف لم يقتصر ذلك على الجماعات الأصولية والإسلامية المحافظة داخل صفوف المعارضة، فقد أصبح ذلك التفكير المعتمد لدى قطاعات ليبرالية متزايدة أيضاً. في محاولات أكثر وضوحاً لشرح الديناميات الطائفية الخاصة بالدولة السورية، كانت بعض شخصيات المعارضة الليبرالية تمتنع عن توصيف النظام كعلوي، واصفةً إياه كدولة استبدادية ومخصّخصة لصالح آل الأسد، وإن كانت تتبع سياسات محابية للأقليات الدينية، ما يجعل السنة عموماً "ناقمين" على هذا الوضع، متعرضين للتمييز وللإقصاء خارج شبكات المحسوبية السائدة، ما يقود إلى الحديث عن "<a href="">المظلومية السنية</a>".<span class="sdfootnoteanc">[7]</span></p> <p class="western" dir="rtl" lang="en-GB"> على الرغم من أنّه لا جدال في السيطرة الحقيقية التي كانت تتمتع بها شخصيات علوية على رأس النظام وأجهزته القهرية (الجيش والمخابرات)، سأوضح أنّ اختزال طبيعة الدولة أو مؤسسات هيمنتها إلى "الهوية العلوية"، أو اعتبارها تحابي الأقليات وتميّز ضد مجتمع بأكمله (العرب السنة) توصيف إشكالي، وهو يقصر عن الإحاطة بشبكات التحالفات المعقدة التي تمارسها نخبة النظام. مرة أخرى، هذا لا يعني أن الطائفية لم تكن أداة رئيسية في يد النظام من أجل السيطرة على الشعب السوري وتقسيمه. وقد حدثت مذابح وتهجيرات قسرية طائفية على يد قوات النظام والقوات المتحالفة معه ضد السكان الفقراء السنة الذين انخرطوا في الانتفاضة أو على الأقل اشتُبه في تعاطفهم معها، مع مواصلة القضاء على معظم أشكال المقاومة الديمقراطية وغير الطائفية في البلاد.</p> <p class="western" dir="rtl" lang="en-GB"> لكن هذا يختلف كثيراً عن القول بأنّ النظام يقف ضد كل أهل السنة. النظام لا يعارض السنّة أو الهوية السنّية بحد ذاتها، كما يزعم البعض، بل ضد الفئات المعادية له، والتي تتركز غالبيتها في خلفيات شعبية سنية في المناطق الريفية الفقيرة والمتوسطة الحال، بالإضافة إلى ضواحي دمشق وحلب. إنّ ذاك التبسيط يتجاهل الدعم السني للنظام، خاصة في مدينتي دمشق وحلب، وكذلك الوجود السني داخل مؤسسات النظام والميليشيات الموالية. فتماماً كالجماعات الدينية والإثنية الأخرى، "يتشكل" السوريون العرب السنة من خلال عناصر مختلفة (طبقياً، جنسياً، جهوياً، دينياً، إلخ) وليس لديهم موقف سياسي موحد. لقد مرّ ذلك بالفعل في الشهادات، تحديداً من <a href="">كتبوا</a> من <a href="">دمشق</a> أو حول دمشق تحدثوا عن الاختلافات الاجتماعية والانقسام الحضري والريفي.</p> <p class="western" dir="rtl" lang="en-GB"> لذا ينبغي فهم الطبقة كعلاقة اجتماعية، كما أنّ عوامل مثل الجنس والعمر والأصل القومي والإثني، وحالة المواطنة، كلّها جزء مما يشكل الطبقة كعلاقة اجتماعية ملموسة. لذلك تبعات تتعلق بكيفية تعامل النظام مع الأفراد السنة بشكل مختلف، تماماً كمعاملته الأفراد الآخرين من الطوائف الأخرى.</p> <p class="western" dir="rtl" lang="en-GB"> ما أطرحه، بناء على المحاججة التي قدّمها الماركسي اللبناني الراحل، <a href="">مهدي عامل</a>، أثناء الحرب الأهلية اللبنانية في ثمانينات القرن الماضي، يقف ضد أي محاولة لإدراج الموقف الطبقي في الانتماء لطائفة معينة، ومن ثم بناء تحالفات على أساس طائفي. وفقاً لمهدي عامل، تؤدي مثل هذه التحالفات إلى المزيد من ترسيخ الطائفية المتأصلة في النظام، وبالتالي تعزيز موقع الذين هم في السلطة. بدلاً من ذلك، يقدم عامل موقفاً يضيء على الطبيعة الطبقية المتناقضة لمختلف المجتمعات، والتي تلعب الطائفية فيها دوراً في حجب علاقات القوة والهيمنة داخل المجتمع نفسه.[8]</p> <p class="western" dir="rtl" lang="en-GB"> سأحاول الآن شرح ديناميات الطائفية وكيف يمكننا تحدّيها.</p> <h3 class="western" dir="rtl" lang="en-GB"> <strong>اقتصاد الطائفية السياسي</strong>: <strong>تنمية مركبة غير متكافئة ومؤتلفة</strong></h3> <p class="western" dir="rtl" lang="en-GB"> من أجل فهم استمرارية الطائفية والعناصر الأخرى التي ذكرها <a href="">محمد ديبو</a>، مثل "التمييز الإثني والقبلي والجهوي والتوترات الريفية والحضرية" في سوريا وعلى نطاق أوسع في المنطقة، علينا أن ننظر إلى الظروف المادية (النظم والبنى السياسية والاجتماعية والاقتصادية محلياً وإقليمياً ودولياً)، والتي نعيش فيها نحن وغيرنا من أبناء المنطقة.</p> <p class="western" dir="rtl" lang="en-GB"> من المهم أولاً، أن نذكر أن سوريا بلد تابع في الساحة السياسية الدولية، وهو يتصف بتنمية متكافئة ومؤتلفة. بهذا المنظور، لا بد من تحليل قضيتين هامتين: أولا، طبيعة الدولة وجهازها. وثانيا القاعدة الشعبية للدولة كما يقول الباحث الأكاديمي جلبير أشقر، الذي يعتبر أنّ تحليل هذه العناصر أكثر تعقيداً بما لا يقاس في المجتمعات الغارقة في تنمية غير متكافئة ومؤتلفة مما في حالة الدولة الديمقراطية البرجوازية التي تحكم مجتمعاً مدنياً حديثاً. السبب هو أنّ البنى والفئات الاجتماعية القديمة تختلط مع أشكال حديثة من التقسيم الاجتماعي، بحيث تندمج أشكال الهيمنة القديمة مع المؤسسات السياسية ذات الجذور الحديثة.[9] فأبرز البنى القديمة المتبقية في منطقة الشرق الأوسط وشمال أفريقيا والمؤثرة على طبيعة الهيمنة السياسية والدولة هي القبلية والجهوية والطائفية، وخاصة الأخيرة في حالة سوريا. هذه العوامل موروثة من الفترة السابقة للحقبة البرجوازية، والتي روّجت أيديولوجياً لنموذج وطني أعلى. في تلك الفترة كانت البنى الوراثية والسلالية هي التحديد السائد (القبلية)، وكان الدين يشكل الأيديولوجيا السياسية بامتياز (الطائفية).[10] تختلف مرونة وحضور هذه العناصر بين مجتمعات المنطقة، بحسب قدمها وعمق التحديث الذي طالها فيما بعد.<a class="sdfootnoteanc" href="#sdfootnote11sym">[</a><span class="sdfootnoteanc">11]</span></p> <p class="western" dir="rtl" lang="en-GB"> إلا أنّه لا يمكن العثور على تفسير لمرونة هذه العوامل في أيّ شكل من أشكال الخصوصيات العربية أو الإسلامية، فهي ترتبط بديناميات التنمية غير المتكافئة ومؤتلفة في النظام الرأسمالي العالمي. إنّ وكلاء التحديث، سواء كانوا أجانب أو من السكان الأصليين، قاموا بأنفسهم بتوظيف تلك العوامل القديمة لتعزيز سلطاتهم الخاصة. فقد عملت مختلف الأنظمة الحاكمة في المنطقة، والتي تفتقر إلى الشرعية الشعبية، على تغذية الزبائنية القبلية والطائفية و/أو الجهوية كضمانات لها ضد أي انتفاضة شعبية، الأمر الذي شكل دعامة أساسية للسلطة.</p> <p class="western" dir="rtl" lang="en-GB"> تعتبر سورية كنظام ألمراثي، بحسب التعريف الفيبري التقليدي، وهو بعبارة أخرى سلطة قمعية وراثية مطلقة، يمكنها أن تعمل من خلال بيئة جماعية (آباء وأصدقاء)، وهذه البيئة هي التي تمتلك الدولة: قوتها المسلحة، التي يهيمن عليها الحرس الخاص (القوة التي يعود ولاؤها إلى الحاكم وليس إلى الدولة)، وكذلك الوسائل الاقتصادية والإدارة. تمثل هذه الأنظمة نوعاً من رأسمالية المحاسيب التي تتطور تحت هيمنة الدولة البورجوازية. بعبارة أخرى، غالباً ما يستغل الأعضاء والأشخاص المقربون من العائلات الحاكمة مركزهم المهيمن الذي تضمنه السلطة السياسية لجمع ثروات طائلة. كما تقوّي ريعية الاقتصاد الطبيعة الميراثية للدولة كذلك.[12]<a class="sdfootnoteanc" href="#sdfootnote12sym"></a> فمراكز السلطة (السياسية والعسكرية والاقتصادية) داخل النظام السوري تتركز في عائلة واحدة والزمرة الموالية لها، أي آل الأسد، وذلك على غرار ليبيا أو ممالك الخليج، الأمر الذي دفع النظام إلى استخدام كل العنف الذي بحوزته لحماية حكم هذه العائلة والزمرة.</p> <p class="western" dir="rtl" lang="en-GB"> من هنا تتميز معظم الدول الميراثية في منطقة الشرق الأوسط وشمال إفريقيا بشكل عام بـ"نخبة حاكمة" فاسدة ثلاثية الأطراف،<span class="sdfootnoteanc">[13]</span> بحسب ما يشرح أشقر:</p> <p class="western" dir="rtl" lang="en-GB"> "إنه ’مثلث سلطة‘ يتشكل من القمم المتداخلة للجهاز العسكري والمؤسسات السياسية وطبقة رأسمالية مجدَّدة سياسياً (برجوازية دولة)، والقمم الثلاث عازمة على الدفاع بشراسة عن استحواذها على سلطة الدولة، المصدر الرئيسي لامتيازاتها وأرباحها"<span class="sdfootnoteanc">[14]</span>.</p> <p class="western" dir="rtl" lang="en-GB"> من هذا المنظور، وخلافاً لبعض الدول التي تتميز بشكل خاص بمؤسسات وأشكال حكم ديمقراطية برجوازية، لا يمكن الحديث عن أي استقلال نسبي للدولة عن النخبة الحاكمة.</p> <p class="western" dir="rtl" lang="en-GB"> على مستوى أكثر إقليمية، كان تصاعد التوترات الطائفية بعد عام 1979 يعود بشكل أساسي إلى التنافس السياسي المتزايد بين السعودية وإيران، واللتين استعملتا تلك التوترات لتحقيق أهداف سياسية. عزّز هذا التنافس بالتالي الحركات الأصولية الإسلامية السنية والشيعية في جميع أنحاء المنطقة. كما استفادت مختلف الأنظمة الاستبدادية والطغيانية في المنطقة من الطائفية لتعزيز سلطتها وتقسيم شعوبها. وقد جرى استخدام الطائفة أيضاً لحرف الطبقات الشعبية بعيداً عن المشاكل الاجتماعية الاقتصادية والسياسية عبر خصّ جماعة معيّنة (بناء على طائفتها أو إثنيتها) بتهمة التسبب بالمشاكل والخطر الأمني في البلاد، مما يؤدي إلى سياسات قمعية وتمييزية ضد هذه الجماعة.</p> <p class="western" dir="rtl" lang="en-GB"> العنصر الأساسي الذي ينبغي فهمه هو أنّ الطائفية هي نتاج للحداثة وليست بقايا من التاريخ الماضي الذي يُعيق تحديث هذه الدول، ولا هي شيء جوهراني قائم في شعوب المنطقة. بالإضافة إلى ذلك، تعتبر الطائفية آلية قوية للسيطرة على مسار النضال الطبقي من خلال خلق روابط تبعية لدى الطبقات الشعبية وقياداتها البرجوازية والبرجوازية الصغيرة. بهذه الطريقة يتم حرمان الطبقات الشعبية من الوجود السياسي المستقل، ويتم تعريفها بدل ذلك (وتعريف مجال وجودها السياسي) من خلال وضعها الطائفي، الذي يصب في مصلحة القيادات البرجوازية كما رأينا في سوريا وأماكن أخرى في المنطقة.</p> <h3 class="western" dir="rtl" lang="en-GB"> <strong>بناء النظام </strong><strong>الميراثي</strong><strong> في سوريا</strong>: <strong>من حافظ الأسد إلى بشار الأسد</strong></h3> <p class="western" dir="rtl" lang="en-GB"> حدث تأسيس الدولة الميراثية الحديثة بقيادة حافظ الأسد بعد وصول الأخير إلى السلطة عام 1970. فقد بنى الأسد بصبر دولة استطاع فيها تأمين السلطة بوسائل مختلفة مثل الطائفية والجهوية والقبلية والزبائنية، وقد كانت تتم إدارة هذه الوسائل عبر شبكات سلطة ومحسوبية غير رسمية. ترافق ذلك مع القمع العنيف ضد أي شكل من أشكال المعارضة. لقد سمحت تلك الأدوات للنظام بدمج أو رفع أو سحق الجماعات المنتمية إلى مختلف الإثنيات والطوائف الدينية، ما تُرجم على المستوى المحلي من خلال التعاون بين مختلف الجهات الفاعلة الخاضعة لسطوة النظام، بما في ذلك مسؤولي الدولة أو حزب البعث، وضباط المخابرات، وأعضاء بارزين في المجتمع الأهلي (رجال دين، شخصيات قبائل، رجال أعمال، وما إلى ذلك) في إدارة كل منطقة على حدة. كما فتح وصول حافظ الأسد المجال لبداية اللبرلة الاقتصادية، في تناقض مع السياسات الراديكالية التي سبق اعتمادها في الستينات.</p> <p class="western" dir="rtl" lang="en-GB"> وفي عام 2000، أدى وصول بشار الأسد إلى السلطة إلى تعزيز هائل في الطبيعة الميراثية للدولة، مع إعطاء وزن متزايد بشكل خاص للمحاسيب الرأسماليين. هذا فيما أدت السياسات النيوليبرالية المتسارعة التي تبنّاها النظام إلى تحوّل تدريجي في القاعدة الاجتماعية للنظام، والتي كانت تعود في أصولها إلى الفلاحين والموظفين الحكوميين وبعض قطاعات البرجوازية، إلى ائتلاف جديد يقع في قلبه الرأسماليون المحاسيب، تحالف الاقتصاد الريعي مع سماسرة السلطة (بقيادة آل مخلوف وهي عائلة أم الأسد) والنظام الداعم للطبقة البرجوازية والمتوسطة العليا. تزامن هذا التحوّل مع إضعاف مؤسسات الدولة الأكثر اجتماعية كنقابات العمال والفلاحين والشبكات الراعية لهم، مع استمالة الفئات التجارية والطبقات المتوسطة العليا عوضاً عنهم. لكن ذلك سبّب اختلالاً مع قاعدة الدعم السابقة. بشكل أعم، كان لتنامي الطبيعة الميراثية للدولة وإضعاف جهاز حزب البعث والمؤسسات التقليدية (هيمنة جماعات المصلحة) أن جعل العلاقات الزبائنية والقبلية والطائفية أكثر أهمية من ذي قبل، الأمر الذي ألقى بظلاله على المجتمع ككل.</p> <p class="western" dir="rtl" lang="en-GB"> بعد الانتفاضة في عام 2011، اعتمد قمع النظام وسياساته إلى حد كبير على قاعدة دعمه الرئيسية، القديمة والجديدة: الرأسماليون المحاسيب، والأجهزة الأمنية، والمؤسسات الدينية العليا المرتبطة بالدولة. وفي الوقت نفسه، استفاد من شبكات المحسوبية القائمة على شبكات الرعاية من روابط طائفية وزبائنية وقبلية بهدف التعبئة على المستوى الشعبي. وخلال الحرب، كان للمكوّن الزبائني والعلوي الطائفي للنظام أن حماه من أي انشقاقات كبرى، فيما لعبت علاقات المحسوبية أدواراً أساسية في ربط مصالح الجماعات الاجتماعية المتباينة بمصالح النظام.</p> <p class="western" dir="rtl" lang="en-GB"> لقد أظهرت القاعدة الشعبية للنظام طبيعة الدولة والطريقة التي تتواصل بها النخبة الحاكمة مع بقية المجتمع، أو على وجه التحديد (في هذه الحالة) مع قاعدتها الشعبية، من خلال مزيج من الأشكال الحديثة والعتيقة من العلاقات الاجتماعية، وليس من خلال مجتمع مدني كبير ومتماسك. كان على النظام الاعتماد بشكل أساسي على السلطات القهرية التابعة له، بما في ذلك الإجراءات القمعية وبثّ الرعب في النفوس، ولكن ليس فقط ذلك. فقد أمكن للنظام أن يعتمد على السلبية أو على الأقل خمول المعارضة لدى شرائح كثيرة من موظفي الحكومة المدينيين، وبصفة عامة الطبقات المتوسطة في المدينتين الكبريين دمشق وحلب، رغم أنّ ضواحي المدينتين مثلت بؤراً ثورية هامة في كثير من الأحيان. لقد كان هذا جزءاً من الهيمنة السلبية التي تمكن من فرضها النظام.</p> <p class="western" dir="rtl" lang="en-GB"> علاوة على ذلك، أثبتت هذه الحالة أنّ القاعدة الشعبية للنظام لم تقتصر على القطاعات والمجموعات المنتمية إلى العلويين و/أو الأقليات الدينية، رغم أهمية الأخيرة في صفوف مؤيديه. بل شملت تلك القاعدة أيضاً شخصيات ومجموعات من مختلف الطوائف والإثنيات ممن تعهدوا بدعمهم للنظام. وبشكل أعم، كانت هناك شرائح كبيرة ضمن القاعدة الشعبية للنظام جرت تعبئتها من خلال الروابط الطائفية والقبلية والزبائنية، وأخذت تعمل بشكل متزايد كوكلاء لقمع النظام. وكما جادل ستيفن هايدمان، كانت "علاقات النظام مع المجتمع تتحدد إلى درجة مقلقة بالمشاركة الجماعية في القمع".<span class="sdfootnoteanc">[15]</span></p> <p class="western" dir="rtl" lang="en-GB"> لكن هذه المرونة جاءت بتكلفة عالية، فبالإضافة إلى زيادة التبعية لدول وجهات أجنبية. فخصائص وميول النظام الحالية تضخمت، وسلطة الرأسماليين المحاسيب تنامت إلى حد بعيد، فيما أخذت قطاعات واسعة من البورجوازية السورية تغادر البلاد وتسحب دعمها السياسي والمالي للنظام. أجبر ذلك النظام على اعتماد المزيد والمزيد من الضراوة لتحصيل الإيرادات المطلوبة بشكل متزايد. وفي الوقت نفسه جرى تعزيز الخصائص الزبائنية والطائفية والقبلية للنظام. لقد تعززت هوية النظام الطائفية العلوية، خاصة في المؤسسات السيادية مثل الجيش وإلى درجة أقل في إدارات الدولة، وهي قضية سيتوجب على قيادة الأسد التعامل معها بعد انتهاء الحرب واستلام البلد الممزق. كما جرى أيضاً تعميق ومأسسة الممارسات الإقصائية القمعية.</p> <p class="western" dir="rtl" lang="en-GB"> من هذا المنظور، استخدم النظام السوري منذ وصول حافظ الأسد إلى السلطة عام 1970 سياسات تتوسّل الطائفية والهويات البدائية كسلاح لتقسيم السوريين وفق انتماءاتهم الدينية والإثنية، مع تطوير سياسة مزدوجة لقمع المنظمات الشعبية المدنية والعلمانية والأحزاب السياسية المستقلة، والسماح فقط بالمنظمات البديلة التي يطرحها النظام، مع تعزيز الهويات الطائفية والابتدائية (بما في ذلك القبلية) وبطرق مختلفة طوال تاريخ سوريا المعاصر.</p> <p class="western" dir="rtl" lang="en-GB"> وفي الوقت نفسه جرى توسّل الطائفية من قبل فئات من المعارضة السورية، ولا سيما الجماعات الإسلامية الأصولية، ولكن ليس فقط هذه، فقد قامت بذلك الدول الأجنبية، ولا سيما السعودية وقطر وتركيا، بهدف الحصول على أتباع أو حشد الجماهير على الأرض ضد نظام الأسد.</p> <h3 class="western" dir="rtl" lang="en-GB"> <strong>مؤسسات النظام</strong>: <strong>الحفاظ على الهويات البدائية والممارسات والخطابات الرجعية</strong></h3> <p class="western" dir="rtl" lang="en-GB"> من جهتها لعبت مؤسسات النظام دوراً مهماً في تغذية الطائفية والكراهية الإثنية في المجتمع والحفاظ على الهويات أو العناصر البدائية. إنّ طبيعة المؤسسات السياسية تمثل في واقع الأمر انعكاساً محدداً تاريخياً للبنية الطبقية الذي نشأت بالعلاقة مع تراكم رأس المال. بعبارة أخرى، لا تنفصل الدولة عن عالم السياسة، التي لا تنفصل عن عالم الاقتصاد. وبالمثل، هي علاقة اجتماعية أو "مجموعة من الأشكال المؤسسية التي تتواصل من خلالها الطبقة الحاكمة مع بقية المجتمع".<span class="sdfootnoteanc">[16]</span> هذا ما يجعل النظر إلى النظام كنظام علوي فقط، دون الانتباه إلى "علونة" بعض المؤسسات ولا سيما الجهاز القمعي المسلح، قاصراً عن استيعاب ديناميات السلطة ومنظومة الحكم. علاوة على ذلك، لا يقوم النظام على خدمة المصالح السياسية والاجتماعية-الاقتصادية للسكان العلويين ككل، بل بالعكس. إن عدد القتلى الهائل في صفوف الجيش والميليشيات الأخرى يضم علويين كثيرين. كما أدى انعدام الأمن وتفاقم الصعوبات الاقتصادية إلى توترات وأذكى عداوات ضد مسؤولي النظام في صفوف السكان العلويين.</p> <p class="western" dir="rtl" lang="en-GB"> من المثير للاهتمام أن نرى في نفس الوقت أن نظام الأسد الأب ومن بعده الابن، حاول بشكل متواصل تقليل وإخفاء جميع العلامات الظاهرة للتدين العلوي، مشجّعاً الاندماج في التيار السني السائد. لقد كان كل من بشار وحافظ الأسد يؤديان الصلاة العامة في المساجد السنية، فيما تكاثرت المساجد السنية المبنية في كافة مناطق العلويين المأهولة. ولم يسمح النظام لأي شكل من أشكال الفعاليات الأهلية بإنشاء مجلس أعلى علوي، وليس ثمة إشارات دينية عامة للمجتمع العلوي. فالعلويون يتبعون نفس القوانين الدينية التي تتبعها الطائفة السنية فيما يتعلق بقانون الأحوال الشخصية (الزواج والطلاق والميراث، إلخ…) وكسائر الأقليات الإسلامية الأخرى يتلقون التعليم الديني السني في المدارس ووسائل الإعلام والمؤسسات العامة.<span class="sdfootnoteanc">[17]</span></p> <p class="western" dir="rtl" lang="en-GB"> وعليه، فإن الطائفية لم يوماً من الأيام غاية سياسية بحد ذاتها، بل بقيت وسيلة هامة وأداة أساسية من أدوات السيطرة.</p> <p class="western" dir="rtl" lang="en-GB"> علاوة على ذلك، تمكنت المؤسسات بمختلف الطرق من الإبقاء على الانقسام والعزلة المتبادلة ضمن المجتمع. فهناك حقوق وواجبات مختلفة تبعاً للهوية الدينية والإثنية. ينص دستور عام 2012 مثلاً على وجوب أن يكون الرئيس رجلاً ومسلماً، وأن "الشريعة الإسلامية هي المصدر الرئيسي للتشريع"، وهو أمر يعد تمييزاً بحق الطوائف الدينية والنساء. كما تضم سوريا ثمانية قوانين مختلفة للأحوال الشخصية، كل منها يطبّق وفقاً للطائفة الدينية الخاصة بالفرد. فالطوائف المسيحية تتبع قوانينها الخاصة، فيما يقوم قانون الأحوال الشخصية الخاص بجميع المسلمين على تفسير سنّي معين للشريعة الإسلامية والفقه الحنفي وغيره من المصادر الإسلامية. تنطوي هذه القوانين أيضاً على تمييزات كبرى بحق النساء. هذا دون أن ننسى المرسوم الجديد رقم 16 الذي وقعه بشار الأسد في شهر أيلول من هذا العام، والذي رأى فيه كثيرون تعزيزاً للدور الاجتماعي لوزارة الأوقاف عبر مراجعة وتوسيع مسؤولياتها وبناها الداخلية في المجتمع.[18]<a class="sdfootnoteanc" href="#sdfootnote18sym"></a></p> <p class="western" dir="rtl" lang="en-GB"> بالإضافة إلى ما ذكر أعلاه، تمّ استبقاء النظام الأبوي وشرعنته عبر الحفاظ على ممارسات وقوانين خاصة بما يسمى "<a href="">جرائم الشرف</a>" (المادة 548)، والتي لا تشمل أية عقوبات وفي حال شملت فحدّها الأقصى من خمس إلى سبع سنوات، ناهيك عن "الاغتصاب المقنن" (المادة 489) في حالة الزوجين.<span class="sdfootnoteanc">[19]</span></p> <p class="western" dir="rtl" lang="en-GB"> وبالمثل، تعتبر الهوية الإثنية العربية الهوية العليا في سوريا وفقاً للدستور، في حين يتم التسامح مع الآخرين كهويات خاضعة أو ببساطة شبه ممنوعة كما هو حال الهوية الكردية. لقد عانى السكان الأكراد في سوريا من سياسات تمييزية وقمعية على المستويات السياسية والاجتماعية والثقافية منذ استقلال سوريا عام 1946. كما تنتشر اليوم خطابات شائنة بحق الأكراد، سواء ضمن دوائر النظام أو تلك المؤيدة للمعارضة، وهي تنظر إليهم باعتبارهم انفصاليين وعملاء للغرب، ولكل ذلك جذور قديمة في تاريخ البلاد،[20]<a class="sdfootnoteanc" href="#sdfootnote20sym"></a> ومن جهة أخرى، وكما تشير <a href="">الشهادات</a>، ثمّة الكثير من النكات والتنميطات الاجتماعية المهينة وشعور منتشر بعدم الارتياح لدى سماع اللغة الكردية.</p> <p class="western" dir="rtl" lang="en-GB"> هذا النظام القانوني وهذا الإطار السياسي المنتظم وفق أسس دينية وإثنية وأبوية عنصران أساسيان في بقاء الانقسامات داخل المجتمع. لذلك وبالرغم من "الحداثية" المزعومة للنظام، للأخير مصلحة في استبقاء تلك القوانين كأداة من أدوات التقسيم والسيطرة.</p> <p class="western" dir="rtl" lang="en-GB"> <strong>خاتمة</strong></p> <p class="western" dir="rtl" lang="en-GB"> لقد تواجدت الثقافة الشعبية الشفوية والحساسيات الطائفية لعقود قبل نظام الأسد، وذلك لأنّ الأنظمة السابقة حافظت على الهويات البدائية كعناصر أساسية في نظمها السياسية. ومع ذلك، في ظلّ نظام الأسد والتطورات السياسية الإقليمية، تغذت الطائفية وتطورت وتوسعت في بعض جوانب المجتمع السوري. السؤال الآن هو: كيف نتحدى ذلك.</p> <p class="western" dir="rtl" lang="en-GB"> في لبنان، أصبحت كلمات البطريرك الماروني نصر الله صفير عام 2010 فيما يتعلق بكيفية التعامل مع النظام الطائفي شعاراً معلناً لدى الطبقة الحاكمة اللبنانية، ولكن قبل ذلك لدى قطاعات واسعة من المجتمع: "إلغاء الطائفية من النصوص قبل النفوس يعني أنّ شيئاً لن يتغير".<span class="sdfootnoteanc">[21]</span></p> <p class="western" dir="rtl" lang="en-GB"> في سوريا، معظم المقاربات المطروحة لمعالجة الطائفية تدور حول تحسين التعليم، وتشجيع التبادل بين الطوائف والإثنيات المختلفة داخل المجتمع، ونظرة أكثر شمولاً لتاريخ البلاد، إلخ… وكلها عناصر واجبة وموضع ترحيب، لكنها لا تمس ولا تطعن في صميم إنتاج وإعادة إنتاج تلك الأفكار في المجتمع، أي في النظام السياسي وطريقته في الحكم.</p> <p class="western" dir="rtl" lang="en-GB"> كما كتب كارل ماركس: "إن أفكار الطبقة الحاكمة في كل عصر هي الأفكار الحاكمة، أي أن طبقة القوة المادية الحاكمة للمجتمع هي في نفس الوقت القوة الفكرية لذاك المجتمع. فالطبقة الاجتماعية التي تمتلك تحت تصرفها وسائل الإنتاج تهيمن في ذات الوقت على الإنتاج الفكري بحيث تصبح أفكار من لا يمتلك وسائل الإنتاج الفكرية عموماً خاضعة لها. إن الأفكار المهيمنة ليست أكثر من التعبير المثالي للعلاقات المادية المهيمنة، أي العلاقات المادية الحاكمة المُدرَكة كأفكار؛ وبالتالي فإنّ العلاقات التي تجعل الطبقة الواحدة هي الحاكمة، هي أفكار هيمنتها".<span class="sdfootnoteanc">[22]</span></p> <p class="western" dir="rtl" lang="en-GB"> لا يمكن أن يحصل التحدي الحقيقي للطائفية والأفكار المحافظة أو الرجعية إلا عبر قطيعة حقيقية مع النظام الحاكم وأفكاره. وكما أشار الأكاديمي اللبناني الفلسطيني أسامة مقدسي: "للتغلب على الطائفية، إذا كان ذلك ممكناً على الإطلاق، سيتطلب الأمر تصدعاً آخر، وقطيعة جذرية للجسد السياسي الذي نشأت فيه طائفية النظام القديم؛ سيتطلب رؤية أخرى للحداثة".<span class="sdfootnoteanc">[23]</span></p> <p class="western" dir="rtl" lang="en-GB"> كان ثمّة شعور بوجود هذه العناصر في بداية الانتفاضة، وذلك إثر المشاركة الضخمة من أسفل لشرائح كبيرة من المجتمع من أسفله إلى أعلاه، على الرغم من وجود تناقضات بكل تأكيد. لقد مرّ التنظيم الذاتي للمتظاهرين بتجارب سياسية واجتماعية مختلفة غيّرت تفكيره، وتحدّت مخاوفه وقواعد سلوكه الخاصة التي كان يفرضها المجتمع. وكما تبيّن الكثير من الشهادات، تجاوز الناشطون والمتظاهرون التنميطات الطائفية والإثنية التي كانت قائمة، حيث كان الخطاب السائد في بداية الحراك الاحتجاجي وحدة وحرية الشعب السوري في وجه الطائفية. وبالمثل، شهدت السنتان الأوليان مشاركة أساسية للنساء ضمن التظاهرات والأنشطة المتعلقة بالانتفاضة. ولعبت المرأة دوراً أساسياً في حركة العصيان المدني منذ مراحله الأولى. كان من أبرز عناصر انخراط ومشاركة النساء في الانتفاضة كسرهنّ القوانين الاجتماعية وتغلبهنّ على الحواجز التقليدية. وقد اتفق الناشطون في كثير من الأحيان على أنّ بداية الثورة، فتحت المجال أمام النساء لتحدي الأعراف الاجتماعية التقييدية، سواء كانت أعرافاً قانونية أو عائلية أو دينية أو اجتماعية.<span class="sdfootnoteanc">[24]</span></p> <p class="western" dir="rtl" lang="en-GB"> "هنا تكون التجربة وحدها المطهر والمعبر نحو مكان آخر" بحسب <a href="">محمد ديبو</a>.<span class="sdfootnoteanc">[25]</span> إلا أنّ بقاء النظام وعسكرة الدولة وصعود القوى الإسلامية الأصولية فرضت خطوات متخلفة على هذه التجارب التحررية الطازجة.</p> <p class="western" dir="rtl" lang="en-GB"> إنّ النضال ضد الطائفية والسلوكيات والخطابات المحافظة الأخرى جزء من النضال ضد نظام الأسد بهدف إحداث قطيعة جذرية مع الماضي. ولا بد لهذه القطيعة مع سياسات النظام الطائفية أنّ تقف ضد أطراف المعارضة التي تستخدم وتنتج بدورها خطاباً وممارسات طائفية وتحافظ وتروّج لسلوكيات رجعية كالأبوية والتعصب القومي. لا يمكن هزيمة الطائفية إلا بالنضال من أجل الديمقراطية والعدالة الاجتماعية والعلمانية والسيادة الحقيقية في وجه جميع الأطراف الأجنبية…</p> <p class="western" dir="rtl" lang="en-GB"> أخيراً، لهذه الكلمات التي قالها ضد الطائفية الرفيق اللبناني الراحل باسم شيت صدى هائل في حالة سوريا والنقاش أعلاه:<em> "</em>فالنضال ضد الطائفية، ليس فقط نضالا من أجل مجتمع متسامح، بل هو في صلبه صراع طبقي، صراع ضد الأفكار المهيمنة في المجتمع<em>... </em>وهو نضال المظلومين ضد الظالمين<em>".<span class="sdfootnoteanc">[26]</span></em></p><p class="western" dir="rtl" lang="en-GB"><em><span class="sdfootnoteanc"><br /></span></em></p> <p class="western" dir="rtl" lang="en-GB"> <span class="sdfootnotesym">[1]</span> بالفعل تواتر أن صوّر كبار قادة العالم والمثقفين العموميين والمحللين جميع التوترات والحشود السياسية في منطقة الشرق الأوسط وشمال أفريقيا على أنها صراع بين طوائف دينية متنازعة منذ قرون، إن لم يكن أكثر. ولم تكن الانتفاضة السورية استثناءً، فكثيراً ما جرى تقديمها في البداية على أنها حرب بين السنة والعلويين، أو من السنة ضد الأقليات الدينية والإثنية. وقد تحدث الرئيس الأميركي باراك أوباما في عدة مناسبات عن "خلافات طائفية قديمة" كوسيلة لشرح النزاع في سوريا، مجادلاً بأن هذه "الانقسامات العتيقة" تدفع العالم العربي نحو العجز "الغائر في صراعات تعود إلى آلاف السنين". وقبل الانتفاضات عام 2011، أوضح الأكاديمي فالي نصر أن طبيعة السياسة في الشرق الأوسط متجذرة إلى حد ما "في خلاف قديم بين الشيعة والسنة، وهي التي تشكل المواقف وتحدد الأحكام المسبقة وترسم الجبهات السياسية، بل وتقرر ما إذا وإلى أي مدى لهذه الاتجاهات الأخرى أهمية في التحليل".</p> <p class="western" lang="en-GB"> <span class="sdfootnotesym">[2]</span>عندما-لا-يكون-يزيد-شريراً-أو-خيّراً-1/</p> <p class="western" lang="en-GB"> <span class="sdfootnotesym">[3]</span></p> <p class="western" lang="en-GB"> <span class="sdfootnotesym">[4]</span>صورة-الآخر-في-الثقافة-الشفوية-السورية-3/</p> <p class="western" lang="en-GB"> <span class="sdfootnotesym">[5]</span>من-هذه-البصلة-سنية-إلى-السنة-طيبين-متل/</p> <p class="western" lang="en-GB"> <span class="sdfootnotesym">[6]</span></p> <p class="western" lang="en-GB"> <span class="sdfootnotesym">[7]</span></p><p><span class="sdfootnotesym">[8]</span> مهدي عامل (1986)، <strong>في الدولة الطائفية</strong>، بيروت، دار الفارابي. </p><p class="western" dir="rtl" lang="en-GB"> <span class="sdfootnotesym">[9]</span> يعترف جلبير أشقر بأن جميع المجتمعات طورت شكلاً من أشكال التنمية غير متكافئة ومؤتلفة، فلا مجتمع بدون تاريخ ولا مجتمع تعافى تماماً من آثار متقادمة. ومع ذلك، فالمقصود بالتنمية غير متكافئة ومؤتلفة يتخطى عادية التطور التاريخي ليصف أشكال المنطق الاجتماعي المتناقضة مع قلب النظام الاقتصادي و/أو السياسي المعاصر.</p> <p class="western" dir="rtl" lang="en-GB"> <span class="sdfootnotesym">[10]</span> ما تزال الطائفية موجود في أيرلندا الشمالية كإحدى بقايا من الزمن الاستعماري الماضي، غير أنها اختفت من بقية أنحاء أوروبا، في حين ما تزال الجهوية حاضرة بقوة.</p> <p class="western" dir="rtl" lang="en-GB"> <span class="sdfootnotesym">[11]</span> جلبير أشقر (2013)، <strong>الشعب</strong><strong> </strong><strong>يريد</strong>: <strong>بحث</strong><strong> </strong><strong>جذري</strong><strong> </strong><strong>في</strong><strong> </strong><strong>الانتفاضة</strong><strong> </strong><strong>العربية</strong>، ترجمة عمر الشافعي، دار الساقي، بيروت، ص217.</p> <p class="western" dir="rtl" lang="en-GB"> <span class="sdfootnotesym">[12]</span> كما يوضح أشقر، مفهوم "النخبة الحاكمة" الذي شرحه سي رايت ميلز الذي قام بتعيين "مثلث السلطة" المسيطر على الدولة.</p> <p class="western" lang="en-GB"> <span class="sdfootnotesym">[13]</span> Heydemann, Steven (2013b), “Syria and the Future of Authoritarianism”, Journal of Democracy, Vol. 24, Num. 4, October, p. 71</p> <p class="western" dir="rtl" lang="en-GB"> <span class="sdfootnotesym">[14]</span> جلبير أشقر (2016)، <strong>انتكاسة</strong><strong> </strong><strong>الانتفاضة</strong><strong> </strong><strong>العربية</strong>: <strong>أعراض</strong><strong> </strong><strong>مرضية</strong>، ترجمة عمر الشافعي، دار الساقي، ص19.</p> <p class="western" lang="en-GB"> <span class="sdfootnotesym">[15]</span> Heydemann, Steven (2013b), “Syria and the Future of Authoritarianism”, <em>Journal of Democracy</em>, Vol. 24, Num. 4, October, p. 71</p> <p class="western" lang="en-GB"> <span class="sdfootnotesym">[16]</span> Hanieh, Adam. 2013., Lineages of Revolt, Issues of Contemporary Capitalism in the Middle East. Chicago: Haymarket Books, p. 14</p> <p class="western" lang="en-GB"> <span class="sdfootnotesym">[17]</span>;; Wimmen, Heiko (2017), “The Sectarianization of the Syrian War” Wehrey F. (ed.), Beyond Sunni and Shia, the roots of sectarianism in a changing Middle East, Hurst, London, p. 73</p> <p class="western" dir="rtl" lang="en-GB"> <span class="sdfootnotesym">[18]</span> المرسوم وسع صلاحيات الوزير على مستويات مختلفة. وفي المقابل، سمح المرسوم المقترح للوزارة بتأسيس مؤسسات تجارية خاصة بها تذهب إيراداتها مباشرة إلى خزانة الوزارة، مما يمنحها استقلالاً مالياً كاملاً، دون الحاجة للمرور عبر البنك المركزي أو وزارة المالية. يمكن للوزارة الآن الاستعانة بمصادر خارجية، وإنشاء مشاريع سياحية (مثل المطاعم والفنادق والمقاهي) وتأجير أراضيها للمستثمرين. كما نص المرسوم 16 على إعفاءات ضريبية كاملة للعاملين في الحقل الديني ضمن الوزارة وعقارات الأوقاف. للتذكير، تعتبر وزارة الأوقاف أصلاً أغنى المؤسسات السورية نتيجة التدفق المستمر للأموال الخيرية والمساحات الكبيرة من العقارات التي تملكها، والمسجلة منذ العهد العثماني على أنها أوقاف دينية. ويسمح المرسوم للوزارة بالتحكم بالمؤسسات المالية والتعليمية بالإضافة إلى الإنتاج الفني والثقافي، بالإضافة إلى تأسيس مجموعة دينية تسمى "الفريق الديني الشبابي" لتدريب دعاة المساجد والإشراف عليهم، ولرصد العامة، وجعل الزكاة ضريبة إلزامية على المسلمين السنة. كما يؤسس المرسوم لنظام تعليم شرعي أساسي قبل جامعي ومجالس دينية داخل المساجد، بالاستقلال عن وزارتي التربية والتعليم العالي. كذلك أدى هذا المرسوم إلى تقوية دور الوزارة على حساب مفتي الجمهورية، وذلك ضمن صراع على السلطة والنفوذ والعوائد المادية (ولا سيما التحكم بالتبرعات المالية الخيرية) بين المؤسستين الدينيتين السنيتين. في الواقع، المرسوم يعطي وزير الأوقاف الحق بتعيين مفتي الجمهورية، والذي كان سابقاً من صلاحيات رئاسة الجمهورية، ويحدّ من فترة ولايته ثلاث سنوات قابلة للتجديد فقط بموافقة الوزير، فيما يجرّد المفتي من حق تولي مجلس الأوقاف الأعلى والذي كان يرأسه كل مفتي الجمهورية منذ 1961 وأصبح الآن من مهام وزير الأوقاف. أثار المرسوم معارضة وانتقادات كبيرة، سواء في الدوائر الموالية أو المعارضة التي نددت بتفاقم الأسلمة في المجتمع السوري. تم إخضاع المرسوم للعديد من التعديلات من قبل مجلس الشعب السوري للحد من توسعه في صلاحيات الوزارة (ولا سيما الإعفاء الضريبي للعاملين في الشؤون الدينية، أو الحد من تدخل الوزارات الأخرى) لكن ليس لإلغائه. يفترض أن يصادق بشار الأسد على النسخة النهائية من المرسوم بعد طرح التعديلات أثناء كتابة هذه السطور.</p> <p class="western" lang="en-GB"> <span class="sdfootnotesym">[19]</span> </p> <p class="western" dir="rtl" lang="en-GB"> <span class="sdfootnotesym">[20]</span> كان الأكراد السوريون في الخمسينات والستينات كبش الفداء الرئيسي للقومية العربية الصاعدة في سوريا آنذاك – بما في ذلك خلال حكم الجمهورية العربية المتحدة وبعد ذلك الحكم البعثي منذ 1963، حيث جرى تقديمهم كعملاء مستأجرين يعملون في خدمة الأعداء الأقوياء، ولا سيما الإمبريالية الأمريكية والصهيونية.</p> <p class="western" lang="en-GB"> <span class="sdfootnotesym">[21]</span></p> <p class="western" lang="en-GB"> <span class="sdfootnotesym">[22]</span></p> <p class="western" lang="en-GB"> <span class="sdfootnotesym">[23]</span> Makdissi Oussama (2000), The culture of sectarianism, community, history and violence in nineteenth- century Ottoman Lebanon, p. 174</p> <p class="western" lang="en-GB"> <span class="sdfootnotesym">[24]</span></p> <p class="western" lang="en-GB"> <span class="sdfootnotesym">[25]</span>من-هذه-البصلة-سنية-إلى-السنة-طيبين-متل/</p> <p class="western" lang="en-GB"> <span class="sdfootnotesym">[26]</span></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="/mohammad-dibo/sectarianism-syria-popular-culture">الثقافة الشفوية والهوية في سورية - ملف</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-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by 4.0 </div> </div> </div> North-Africa West-Asia North-Africa West-Asia Syria sectarianism جوزيف ضاهر Arabic language Tue, 30 Oct 2018 15:45:44 +0000 جوزيف ضاهر 120338 at Interview with the Free Women’s Movement (TJA) in North Kurdistan <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p class="normal"><strong>“</strong>Actually we have been calling our experience World War III. This is a war of destruction. The state does not call it a war, but this is the experience of those affected.” </p> </div> </div> </div> <p class="normal"><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="// Shot 2018-10-23 at 16.42.03_0.png" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="// Shot 2018-10-23 at 16.42.03_0.png" alt="lead " title="" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" width="460" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Screenshot: Banner of the TJA website.</span></span></span></p><p class="normal">After the Syrian Kurds’ fight for Kobane (a Kurdish city in northern Syria/Rojava) against ISIS in 2014-5, many across the world were suddenly made aware of the Kurdish women’s <a href="">movement</a>. </p> <p class="normal">What has not reached us, however, is a much wider context that enabled the Kurdish women-fighters to confidently take up arms to defend themselves and their people. The unprecedented accomplishments of the Kurdish women predated Kobane and the war in Syria. They are rooted in the evolution of Turkey’s Kurdish liberation movement, as it is represented by the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (<a href="">PKK</a>), and in the ideological shift of its leader, Abdullah Ocalan. </p> <p class="normal">In what is regarded as a departure from the Marxist-Leninist perspective of national liberation, Ocalan developed a theory of democratic confederalism and<a href=""> democratic autonomy</a>, making liberation of women into one of the central pillars of his struggle, alongside radical democracy and social ecology. The new ideology was first put into practice in Bakur (the Kurdish region in the southeast of Turkey) in the early 2000s and, despite continuing state oppression, the focus on and efforts towards women’s liberation within the movement brought visible results: a dramatic increase in women’s participation in the political and social life of the society, an evolution in their consciousness and the creation of various tools and spaces for their empowerment.</p> <p class="normal">In Bakur, since the early 2000s, the Kurdish movement has been <a href="">coordinating</a> womens’ associations, women’s shelters, women’s local councils, cooperatives and academies, that have often functioned in cooperation with elected officials from the Kurdish parties in local government. </p> <p class="normal">However, the military offenses that the Turkish state carried out against Kurdish cities in 2015-2016 were a heavy blow to the Kurdish movement. Besides irrevocable destruction to cities, including the UNESCO heritage site Sur (the ancient centre of Amed/Diyarbakir), <a href="">displacement</a> of up to half a million people and the inhumane <a href="">murder</a> of civilians (including burning people alive in their basements), this war was followed by the removal of elected officials, members of the Kurdish party DBP, from local government and the imposition of a so-called trusteeship system (<a href="">kayyum</a>), with the state’s appointees taking charge of local affairs. </p> <p class="normal">The failed coup attempt on July 15, 2016 and the <a href="">State of Emergency</a> that was imposed in the aftermath meant an escalation of the state’s policies of reversing whatever the Kurdish movement had been able to accomplish in Bakur: <a href="">shutting down</a> any civil society initiatives and silencing its participants with fear of legal persecution and imprisonment. </p> <p class="normal">During our trip to Amed (Diyarbakir) in August this year, we were only able to meet with a couple of the women’s cooperatives and academies that have continued their work despite the ongoing oppression. With the majority of initiatives shut down and many activists being tried on various charges – including for speaking out against Turkey’s military offensive in Sur – the majority of remaining initiatives prefer to stay underground in fear of being infiltrated or detected by the state. </p> <p class="normal">Ayşe Gökkan and Gülcihan Şimşek, TJA-KJA representatives, who agreed to meet with us for an interview, were among the very few willing to publish an interview under their real names. The Free Women’s Congress (<a href="">KJA</a>) was established in 2015, replacing a previous coordinating body of the women’s movement in Bakur, as an umbrella for various women’s initiatives, as well as political parties, NGO’s, culture and faith groups, and local governments. It was renamed <a href="">TJA</a> (Free Women Movement) after having been <a href="">shut</a> down by a decree under the state of emergency <a href="">rule</a> in 2016.&nbsp; </p> <p class="normal">Ayşe Gökkan, a former mayor of Nusaybin, a town in the southeastern province of Mardin, became <a href="">famous</a> after her hunger <a href=";t=7s">strike</a> on the Turkish-Syrian border. She was protesting the building of a <a href="">wall</a> on the border with Rojava amidst the war in Syria by the Turkish state, trying to cut the ties between the populations on two sides of the border, while at the same time allowing the unchecked movement of fundamentalist groups – part of the anti-Assad opposition forces in Syria with connections to ISI – that were <a href="">supported</a> both financially and logistically. </p> <p class="normal"><a href="">Gülcihan Şimşek</a>, a former mayor of a municipality in Van, introduced a contract for municipal workers according to which women received their husbands’ wages if domestic violence occurred and, if it persisted, the husbands lost their job.</p> <p class="normal">In our conversation, Ayşe and Gülcihan shared with us their account of the ideological foundation of the women’s struggle in Kurdistan, the achievements of their movement, and the consequences of Turkey’s recent policies for women in Bakur. A detailed report on the catastrophic destruction of human life and civil society since 2015 – disproportionately affecting women – was published by the KJA in May, 2016, and is available <a href="">here</a>.</p> <p class="normal"><strong><em>&nbsp;</em></strong></p> <p><strong><em>Mahir Kurtay (MK): </em></strong><em>Can you briefly introduce us to the Kurdish Free Women’s Movement (TJA) perspective and area of activities?</em></p> <p class="normal"><strong>Gulcihan Şimşek (GS): </strong>We regard women’s issues as being central to life. We created a general ideological perspective on the relationship between women and men that questions 5,000 years of patriarchal society. We are starting with the fact that the woman was the first <a href="">colony</a> [Abdullah Ocalan’s idea <em>ed</em>.]. We know that the woman is treated as second class and we are fighting against this. That is why we examine problems not individually, but politically and ideologically. </p> <p class="normal">We aim to reach all women. We organize young women. We are in solidarity with labour movements because you cannot separate the labor question from the woman’s question. We have women's centres to combat violence against women. We have established women’s organizations in different social fields, for example, the economic field. We are setting up academies for women's education. We are also in contact with international women’s organizations. As you see, we have a broad terrain in which we work.</p> <p class="normal"><em><strong>Anya Briy (AB):</strong> Are there differences between the Kurdish women’s movement and the western feminist movement?</em></p> <p class="normal"><strong>Ayşe Gökkan (AG):</strong> There are those who, by connecting Turkey to Europe, see us as a western movement. But we live in Kurdistan and we are a Kurdish movement in the Middle East. We define ourselves through concrete experiences that we live through. Our activities are defined by our unique needs. Gender, regional and socio-cultural structures are very different here. There are also different beliefs and ethnicities within Kurdistan. Basically, we define ourselves as a socialist movement of women who have been oppressed and started a rebellion.</p> <p class="normal">We are not like other movements around the world. For example, women's struggles in the world usually started in cities. March 8 was started in factories in New York. But our women's struggle started in villages. <a href="">Sakine Cansız</a> was one of the co-founders of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (the PKK) and her resistance to the military <a href="">coup</a> in prison in the 1980s opened up the front of the women's struggle. Peasant women when they came to towns taught urban women to fight. Our first female guerrillas were organizing peasants. And they influenced each other.</p><p class="normal"><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="// Shot 2018-10-23 at 16.28.31.png" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="// Shot 2018-10-23 at 16.28.31.png" alt="" title="" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" width="460" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Screenshot: Sakine Cansız. YouTube.</span></span></span></p> <p class="normal">We base ourselves on the philosophy of Abdullah Öcalan who says, “The society is not free unless women are free.” We have a parallel perspective on the issue of women and the national question, and this makes our perspective rather unique in the Middle East. People with different identities live together. We call this coexistence, ‘democratic autonomy’.</p> <p class="normal">We have benefited from the experience of feminist movements. But we decided to establish our own theory – <a href="">jineology</a>. Jineology is a science of women and life. It includes ethics, aesthetics, self-defense, organization, history, demography. We are sharing this concept with the whole world. However, we still have not decided what it is exactly. We are still debating and learning.</p> <p class="normal">Unusually, we also independently organize young women. Because if there are no young women in the movement, the struggle loses momentum. So we have a quota of 20%&nbsp; in our organizations reserved for them. </p> <p class="normal"><em><strong>AB: </strong>The Kurdish movement stresses the need for self-organization, that is, building structures outside the state and organizing locally. Why have state institutions proved ineffective in improving women’s situation? What has been the relationship of the women’s movement in Kurdish cities with local governments? </em></p> <p class="normal"><strong>AG:</strong> When we say local government, we actually do not refer to the municipality, we mean all the decision-making mechanisms outside the state. We determine our needs ourselves and work towards resolving them. </p> <p class="normal">For example, the Kurdish movement established the co-chair system (every organization must have two chairs, one female, one male.) We implemented this in municipal governments as well. The state regarded this as illegal, but, in fact, we were not breaking the law. We just implemented the system before the state accepted it. Eventually the state was forced to legalize it.</p> <p class="normal">We do not stick to what the state says. We know that a centrist ideology does not solve women’s problems. We know, for example, that the state’s “Alo Şiddet” [Hello, violence] domestic violence hotline has not been working. We know that it is possible to intervene earlier, before the violence occurs, by establishing neighborhood assemblies. Such problems have to be solved locally.</p> <p class="normal">We are trying to prevent violence against women through local communes and councils. We make campaigns and provide education. For example, we recently organized a campaign entitled “Kimsenin Namusu Değiliz” [“I am no man’s honour”]. We also carry out joint activities with Turkish women. We do training, organizing and campaigning. Our movement is a revolution in mentality. We are trying to change the culture rather than changing the laws on paper. We are a stateless people and stateless women. That is why our revolution must be about changing the mentality and about self-defense. We will struggle until the last woman is organized because unorganized women have to face violence. <span class="mag-quote-center">Our movement is a revolution in mentality. We are trying to change the culture rather than changing the laws on paper.</span></p> <p class="normal"><strong>GS:</strong><strong> </strong>In 1999, our 3 female activists became mayors for the first time. Already before that, we had female activists who held positions in public office. Institutions after Ocalan introduced the paradigm <a href="">change</a> into the Kurdish movement were organized from the woman's point of view. Women's tables were set up in municipalities. The municipalities thus became the places where most of work in regards to women’s issues was done.</p> <p class="normal">Local politics is one of the spheres of women's organizing. But it does not mean just working with municipal governments. We are confronted with male-dominated systems everywhere,so we attach great importance to organizing women locally. Women's support and shelters are important, for example. </p> <p class="normal"><em><strong>MK:</strong> There are various interconnected organizations within the Kurdish movement that work within the same framework of Ocalan’s ideas. What is the relationship of the TJA as a women’s movement with other civil society organizations in North Kurdistan?</em></p> <p class="normal"><strong>AG</strong>: As a women's movement, we are organized in an independent and democratic-confederal way. We identify ourselves first as women and we have separate women's organizations. In addition, in our mixed gender organizations, men cannot take any decisions that primarily concern women. There are special women’s councils for that. </p> <p class="normal">For example, our ties with the <a href="">DTK</a> (the Democratic Society Congress). We are an independent organization but 50% of our members are at the same time DTK activists. This is the case throughout the Kurdish movement. If the DTK does not accept our rules, we will not participate there. If the HDP (the People’s Democratic Party) does not accept our rules, we will leave. So we build alliances with other organizations. We are connected to them: but if they do not recognize our rights we can always depart.</p> <p class="normal"><em><strong>MK:</strong> You mentioned the importance of self-defense. Why is it central to your understanding of women’s struggle? </em><strong>&nbsp;</strong></p><p class="normal"><strong>AG</strong>: We don’t regard the concept of self-defense as militaristic. When our words are backed up by force – this is what we call self-defense. But if our self-organization is less powerful than our weapons, then even weapons will not save us. That is, we evaluate the need for self-defense according to specific circumstances. </p> <p class="normal">If there is an attack that violates the women's right to life, then we need to defend ourselves. We saw this in the fight against ISİS: if women do not defend themselves, no one will defend them. We also view organizing against and exposing male violence as self-defense. Abandoning spaces imposed by men and establishing our own spaces is also self-defense. </p> <p class="normal">We resurrected this self-defense logic because the state and men abandoned women when ISIS attacked. For example, in <a href="">Shingal</a>, when the <a href="">Peşmerga</a> forces escaped, women were left alone to confront ISIS. That’s why self-defense is important.</p> <p class="normal"><em><strong>MK:</strong> What impact did the most recent military offensive by the Turkish state on Sur, and other Kurdish cities have specifically on women?</em></p> <p class="normal"><strong>AG</strong>: Regarding the resistance in Sur, the state usually tries to play the role of a victim. But the state attacked Sur with artillery, guns, airplanes. Sur went through 103 days of resistance against NATO weapons with insurgents defending themselves only with individual weapons. 70% of those who resided in Sur were women; 30% were young women and children. Yet, these women remained in the city throughout the fighting. </p> <p class="normal"><strong>GS</strong>: 12 residential areas were destroyed. Part of the attack against women was pure sexism. Police forces were entering women’s houses and going through their clothes. On many occasions women‘s bodies were thrown naked into the streets. [The best known case was that of Kevser <a href="">Elturk</a>, a commander in the PKK, killed by the Turkish security forces in 2015. <em>AB</em>.].&nbsp; </p> <p class="normal"><strong>AG</strong>: The state attacked women in particular. They wrote racist phrases and phrases denigrating women on the walls of women's homes. Their goal was to break women’s will. But in the whole process, as Sur was being demolished, they could not do it. Women did not flee. They didn't leave the region.</p> <p class="normal">For example, one woman [<a href="">Remziye Tosun</a>] who was resisting displacement till the end was sent to prison with her baby. While she was in prison, they wanted to give her children to the Child Protection Agency. But she resisted, went to prison, and took back her children when she was released. This is very important. Now, she is an &nbsp;HDP MP. So they attacked you with NATO weapons, but you go up there and say, “You attacked me, but I'm still here.”</p><p class="normal"><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//" alt="" title="" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" width="460" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Remziye Tosun, one of the 13 new women deputies of the HDP. Bianet. All rights reserved.</span></span></span></p> <p class="normal"><em><strong>AB: </strong>The Sur attacks were followed by the imposition of a trusteeship system (<a href="">kayyum</a>) on Kurdish municipalities. How did this affect the situation of women and women’s organizations? </em></p> <p class="normal"><strong>AG:</strong><strong> </strong>Women were one of the first targets of the <em>kayyum</em>. <em>Kayyum</em> closed 53 women's institutions. The TJA was previously in an association called the <a href="">KJA</a>; we had to change the name because our association was closed down by the state. The kayyum system closed every organization that had to do with women because women were active in every field. When trustees took over the administration, municipality buildings were turned into police stations.&nbsp; <span class="mag-quote-center">When trustees took over the administration, municipality buildings were turned into police stations.&nbsp; </span></p> <p class="normal">The <em>kayyum</em> has removed the co-chair system. The municipalities’ doors became closed to women. The trustees also prevented our municipalities from mobilizing our own local resources for our own needs.</p> <p class="normal">Before the <em>kayyum</em> system, if women experienced violence, they would not go to a police station. Instead, they would go to one of our institutions. Now, there's nowhere for women to go. This is a serious setback. As an &nbsp;institution, we are committed to trying to solve women's problems in the TJA. In general women who experience problems, come to us. But we cannot do enough for them from here. </p> <p class="normal"><strong>GS:</strong><strong> </strong>In most places, before the <em>kayyum</em>, we were able to create cooperatives. They were supported in some places by local governments. We did a lot of work in textile and soap production, for example. We currently have only three women's cooperatives that continue working – the majority have been closed down after the imposition of the <em>kayyum</em>. We have experience now, but we cannot say that it is enough because we were not able to mobilize the entire society. Yet, we can say that our people support the system of local councils and cooperatives.</p> <p class="normal">In the past, the KJA used to be an official association. In fact, during the <a href="">peace process</a>, in the negotiations in İmralı between the Turkish state and the PKK , we organized to ensure that our delegation was at the negotiations table, because we knew that if women were not present, the peace would not last. When all our institutions were closed down, we formed the TJA as an independent organization. They can close governmental organizations with their laws but we are working without a statute now. </p> <p class="normal"><em><strong>AB:</strong> Why is setting up cooperatives one of the main foci of your activities? How does it relate to the movement’s view of capitalism?</em></p> <p class="normal"><strong>AG:</strong> Kurdistan is not a poor country; it is a country that is being made poor. The lack of Coca Cola does not make us poor. Capitalist modernity, as Ocalan defines it, makes us poor. It wants to belittle people’s own production and to impose on the society capitalist mass production. That’s why the co-operatives and the communes that we have been establishing made the state feel uncomfortable. Because this represents a logic of rupture from mass production and a move towards the use of our own resources. The state was losing its market in Kurdistan.</p> <p class="normal"><strong>GS</strong>:&nbsp; The chambers of commerce were very worried about the emergence of our cooperatives because this meant shaking the system and fighting against capitalism. The fact that people accepted our system, made them feel uncomfortable. This is also a reason for the 2015-6 conflicts: they strengthened capitalism and the state.<strong> </strong>The war began when we started creating alternatives. <span class="mag-quote-center">The war began when we started creating alternatives. </span></p> <p class="normal">That’s why Rojava is important today. The reality of people’s self-rule makes everyone uncomfortable. The nation state is not effective in the Middle East. Capitalism is being imposed, but it is not working. That's why there is war. We interpret this as a conflict between and within capitalist modernity.</p> <p class="normal"><em><strong>MK:</strong> Western feminists do not necessarily oppose capitalism. According to your understanding of women’s oppression, can gender equality be achieved within the capitalist system?</em></p> <p class="normal"><strong>AG</strong>: We do not think that gender inequality can be changed within capitalism. Capitalist modernity has been changing shape. For example, we fought with the <em>kuma</em> culture under feudalism in which a husband could have many wives. Having overcome this, we are faced now with the <em>maitresse</em> culture. We fought against honor killings, but we are faced with love killings now. So it is the same thing under different guises. In fact, the problem of women cannot be solved without struggling against capitalism. Capitalism makes gender inequality invisible. Under the banner of modernity, capitalism sells the woman, saying that there is nothing that cannot be sold. You can see female bodies in advertisements, in the capitalist spaces, art, cinema, porn. Capitalism commodifies the woman. <span class="mag-quote-center">Women were serfs in the feudal system. But capitalism introduced a fake freedom. </span></p> <p class="normal">Capitalism is the most dangerous ideology for women. Past ideologies are simpler and more transparent. We think that women’s exploitation is worse amidst the freedom of capitalism than amidst naked violence. Women were serfs in the feudal system. But capitalism introduced a fake freedom. We are anti-capitalists as a way of life. In fact, for us, fascism means modern-day capitalism. We defend what we call a democratic nation against the nation state. We defend <a href="">democratic modernity</a> against capitalist modernity. It is not equality if women commit the same violations of rights as men do.<strong> </strong>This is the society that the state wants to produce. We think that the state system is bankrupt. So we propose a democratic confederal system with a consensus of differing worldviews where every identity is equal. </p> <p class="normal">We actually see the woman as a class. The woman was the first exploited and the first rebel. So the first construction of democratic socialism starts with women. <span class="mag-quote-center">It is not equality if women commit the same violations of rights as men do.</span></p> <p class="normal"><em><strong>AB: </strong>Considering all women as one class implies that they experience the same kind of oppression. Wouldn’t you say that women face different problems depending on their socio-economic status?</em></p> <p class="normal"><strong>AG</strong>: We are a classless movement. Women are stateless and propertyless. They do not have a class in socio-economic terms. The social class of women is determined by men. If the woman's husband or father is a bourgeois, the woman is a bourgeoise. But when the man leaves the woman, the class to which the woman belongs disappears. For that reason, we say that women are classless and should be organized separately. It does not matter which class we are tied to. Because whatever class your father or husband are in, you are in that class. But at the same time, if the man is a boss, we do not say that the woman should also be a boss. This just leads to more exploitation of labour. </p> <p class="normal">We welcome women from different segments: our women’s living conditions are ultimately not very different.</p> <p class="normal"><em><strong>MK:</strong> You said that what the women’s movement in Kurdistan is carrying out is a ‘revolution in mentality’, that is, it focuses on raising women’s consciousness. To which extent has the Kurdish movement succeeded in bringing women to the forefront of the struggle? Have you seen an increase in women’s involvement in political and social life? </em></p> <p class="normal"><strong>AG</strong>: We have women academies. At the academies we tell the woman’s history. We also form workshops and various programs. Besides this, our meetings also have an educational function. We provide education to women in every field. As the woman’s consciousness develops, her self-defense develops as well. We are proving ourselves against the mentality that up till today has been insisting that women are not capable of anything. </p> <p class="normal"><strong>GS</strong>: We offer solutions outside the state to the problems that women are facing. We had 91 women institutions. We had 45 women’s centres. There were 16 independent women's councils only in Amed. We already have 50% rate of women in both mixed gender organizations. We have mixed and women-specific organizations in the political, legal, educational, and social fields.<strong> </strong>We think that we first have to raise women's consciousness and then raise the society’s consciousness in regards to women. <span class="mag-quote-center">We think that we first have to raise women's consciousness and then raise the society’s consciousness in regards to women.</span></p> <p class="normal"><em><strong>AB:</strong> Why is women’s liberation so central to the ideology and practice of the Kurdish movement?</em></p> <p class="normal"><strong>AG</strong>: &nbsp;We owe this first and foremost to Abdullah Öcalan. There are probably few leaders in the world who care so much about women. Women are involved in many movements around the world, but there is no other organization in which women are so prominent. Our leader did not give up even though there have been so many libellous and other attacks against him, with the mainstream media saying that he was a rapist and that he had set up a harem. Normally, if someone attacks you, you pull yourself back a little. But when Öcalan heard the slander, he brought his women even more to the fore. <span class="mag-quote-center">ISIS is an imperialist explosion of male-dominated mentality.</span></p> <p class="normal">Our civilization has lived through major stages of discrimination against women. If the Kurdish women had not been so organized, ISIS would have taken over and further violated women’s rights. ISIS is an imperialist explosion of male-dominated mentality. They deploy all the forms of violence that have been routinely applied against women for the last 5,000 years. If women’s self-defense had not existed, another major discrimination would have occurred. But the self-organization of women in Rojava broke this male-dominated mentality. The AKP is so aggressive today because of the same logic. Because it is afraid of being humiliated in a face-off with women. And Öcalan’s position on women has proved to be very effective. Why does it disturb the state that we are thinking about women's problems? Because the state is dominated by men. After shutting them down, the Turkish state turned our women’s institutions into wedding salons. This was a special message to us women.<strong> </strong>The state wanted us to get married and have children. After shutting them down, the Turkish state turned our women’s institutions into wedding salons. This was a special message to us women. <span class="mag-quote-center">We cannot cry because we are victims.</span></p> <p class="normal">The women of Bakur were particularly dynamic and they forced the state to change. We cannot cry because we are victims. We will take back our gains. We are organizing against the attacks of the state. Boko Haram, ISIS, <a href="">AKP</a> –&nbsp; their mentality is the same. They attack women as a united front. Actually we have been calling our experience World War III. This is a war of destruction. The state does not call it a war, but this is the experience of those affected by it. </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="/nadje-al-ali-latif-tas-g-ltan-ki-anak/kurdish-women-s-battle-continues-against-state-and-patriarchy-"> Kurdish women’s battle continues against state and patriarchy, says first female co-mayor of Diyarbakir. Interview </a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/nadje-al-ali-latif-tas-ayla-akat/kurds-and-turks-are-at-edge-of-cliff">Kurds and Turks are at the edge of a cliff</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/defne-kad-o-lu-polat/sur-urban-renewal-in-southeast-anatolian-war-zone">Sur: urban renewal in the Southeast Anatolian war zone</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/nurcan-baysal/can-kurdish-question-be-settled-by-killing-people-in-sur">Can the Kurdish question be settled by killing people in Sur?</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/nurcan-baysal/cizre-don-t-forgive-us">Cizre, don’t forgive us! </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"> Turkey </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 4.0 </div> </div> </div> North-Africa West-Asia North-Africa West-Asia Turkey Turkish Dawn Gülcihan Şimşek Anya Briy Mahir Kurtay Ayşe Gökkan Tue, 23 Oct 2018 16:41:27 +0000 Ayşe Gökkan, Gülcihan Şimşek, Mahir Kurtay and Anya Briy 120248 at After all, Iraq’s ethno-sectarian quota remains <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>So long as the ethno-sectarian quota exists, a political class that serves foreign interests will continue to determine Iraq’s political and economic destiny.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//" alt="" title="" width="460" height="307" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Sulaymaniyah: A man is looking for his name in front of a polling station on a voter register for the parliamentary elections. Picture by: Tobias Schreiner/DPA/PA Images. All rights reserved. </span></span></span>In the face of historical electoral results and popular uprisings against poor governance and corruption – Iraq’s ethno-sectarian quota remains assertively in power. The official quota or ‘al-mohasesa al-ta’ifiyah’ as it is known in Arabic, is the most fundamental problem with today’s Iraq. This is due to political parties’ ability in mobilizing communities through ethnical and sectarian motives, when the battle is nothing but political. Its function distributes the top governmental positions as follows: A Shi’ite Arab Prime Minister, a Kurdish President and a Sunni Arab Speaker of Parliament, as a proportional representation to the country’s largest three communities. </p><p>This quota was first introduced by the US occupation during its early stages in 2003 when the occupational ambassador Paul Bremer appointed pro-invasion Iraqi exiles based on identity backgrounds in the provisional government known as the Iraqi Governing Council and continued throughout the country’s interim and transitional governments. This communally divided quota unfortunately, became a political tradition that shapes the power sharing between the identity–based political parties until our current state. Voters for most of the post–2003 Iraq period also reflected significant identity–based preferences. Alarmingly, this is arguably due to the lack of non-sectarian options that enjoy similar influences, platforms, and powers as the sectarian ones. Such ethno-sectarian share of power motivated regional players with power determinations such as Iran and Saudi Arabia to exploit Iraq as a proxy battlefield throughout the years. Consequently, it debilitated intra–societal relations as witnessed during the rise of Al-Qaeda in Iraq in 2004, the sectarian conflict in 2006-2008, the war with Daesh or ISIL between 2014-2017, and the rise of Shi’ite paramilitary groups funded and armed by Iran throughout the years, and in particular during the rule of former PM – Nouri Al-Malki. </p> <p>Nonetheless, the surprising election results and the protests which swept the country’s capital and southern provinces presented the most threatening year to the corrupted regime, and in turn presented hope to many Iraqis affected by it. In spite of the low 44.5% turnout in the election results last May, the country witnessed for the first time since 2005 the fall and demise of the ruling Islamic Da’wa party and the unfamiliar alliance between the secular Iraqi Communist Party and the Shi’ite and formerly paramilitary Sadrist organisation known as the Sairoon alliance. The latter raised two signals: a secularist political rise and a growing Shi’ite anti-Iran inclination as commonly advocated by the Sadrist leader, Muqtada Al-Sadr, whom is one of, if not the most powerful figure in post-2003 Iraq. Iran’s proxy games in Iraq and support to paramilitary groups with public allegiance to their Supreme Leader – Ayatollah Khameni has played a major role in destabilizing the country’s security. Later in the year, protests swept the country’s capital and mainly Southern province of Basra. Apart from the anti-Iran factor that was witnessed as protesters burned the Iranian consulate in Basra, the uprisings were mainly motivated by the poor electricity services which most of the population depend on during the humid and hot summer. It was also a reminder of the poor governance by the corrupted political class, which alongside electricity, also failed to provide clean water, secured borders, efficient education, infrastructural development, employment opportunities for the youth and other public services. </p> <p>A widespread youth-led activism also reflected a positive image of hope and determination in contrast to the pessimistic one commonly portrayed by the international media – ignoring Iraqis’ resilience, resistance, creativity and love of life in the face of hardships. In addition, the prominence of the protests encouraged both current and potential rulers to react with a sympathizing approach, as the anger on the streets was impossible to silence nor ignore. Whilst PM Haider al-Abadi sacked his Minister of Electricity and visited Basra as a way of calming violence, Sairoon surprised the post-elections governmental formation negotiations by calling for Al-Abadi’s resignation, after almost announcing the formation of a governmental coalition with him. Sistani’s call for the appointment of a PM based on merit instead of ethno-sectarian background was a turning point in Iraqi politics as the mere fact that Sistani, as the country’s most senior cleric, intervened in such a political affair with such a statement is a key milestone.</p> <p> The political discourse was filled with promises of forming a technocratic cabinet that would appoint independent ministers and officials whom are professionally suitable for their roles and not party-politically driven. Nevertheless, Iraq still witnesses another government being formed according to the ethno-sectarian quota. Sunni Arab lawmaker, Mohamed Al-Halbousi was elected as the Speaker of Parliament or the Council of Representatives on September 15th, 2018, with his party, literally using the word ‘Sunni’ when describing their share in the government. Separatist Kurdish politician Barham Salih was ’elected’ as President of Iraq on October 2nd, 2018, while advocating and supporting Kurdish independence in last year’s referendum. Rumours on the heavy regional and domestic political Shi’ite negotiations are confirming the potential appointment the ethno-sectarian quota’s veteran, Adel Abdelmahdi as Prime Minister, as a result of a national and regional Shi’ite agreement. Abdelmahdi, if elected will face the challenge of forming a Cabinet which must appeal to the different political parties, all of which are ethno-sectarian driven. </p><p>Finally, following heavy regional and domestic political Shi’ite negotiations, Salih agreed to appoint the ethno-sectarian quota’s veteran, Adel Abdelmahdi as Prime Minister. Abdelmahdi would face the challenge of forming a Cabinet which must appeal to the different political parties, all of which are ethno-sectarian driven. Nevertheless, his appointment, as previously mentioned, highlights the certainty of Da’wa’s end in grabbing the premiership – as he presents himself as an independent politician after leaving the Supreme Islamic Iraqi Council.</p> <p>Thereupon, not only are we witnessing the return of corrupted, unqualified, disloyal politicians, and a governmental formation by parties that did not even perform well enough in the election results, but also a repeated scenario of the ethno-sectarian quota. The continued use of this externally imposed, self-demising quota can be tied to the fact that Iraq’s most influential external actors such as Iran and the US are politically and economically benefiting from their allies in Baghdad. So long as this remains the case, a political class that serves foreign interests will remain in power and will continue to determine Iraq’s political and economic destiny.</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/seyed-ali-alavi/is-iraq-entering-era-of-post-sectarianism">Is Iraq entering an era of post-sectarianism?</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/north-africa-west-asia/zahra-ali-safaa-khalaf/iraq-s-protest-movement-reveals-failure-of-post-2003-r">Iraq’s protest movement reveals the failure of the post-2003 regime</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/north-africa-west-asia/zeidon-alkinani/outcomes-of-iraq-s-2018-elections">The outcomes of Iraq’s 2018 elections </a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/north-africa-west-asia/darius-kamali/iraq-and-syria-of-memory-and-maps">Iraq and Syria: of memory and maps</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-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by 4.0 </div> </div> </div> North-Africa West-Asia North-Africa West-Asia Iraq sectarianism elections Zeidon Alkinani Mon, 22 Oct 2018 06:01:18 +0000 Zeidon Alkinani 119969 at Famine in Yemen: long announced, now on our screens <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>What are world leaders doing? Where is the ‘international community’ Yemenis so often appeal to?</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//" alt="lead " title="" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" width="460" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>A boy receives treatment at al-Sabaeen hospital in Sanaa, Yemen, Sept. 24, 2018. Mohammed Mohammed/ Press Association. All rights reserved.</span></span></span></p><p>Almost two years after the UN first told the world that the war in Yemen was about to cause famine, we are informed that 14 million are at risk of dying from starvation and that the earlier figure of 8 million was an underestimate.&nbsp; The increase is <a href="">explained by the dramatic collapse</a> of the Yemeni riyal in the last two months. </p> <p>Wasn’t such a currency crisis predictable? The country is still described as being ‘on the brink’ of famine, simply because statistical verification of death rates, which would fit official definitions, is not available. These figures are mind boggling beyond imagination, and represent millions suffering the psychological, physical, agony of watching loved children, parents, siblings and partners, dying before their eyes… Many people are expecting the same fate themselves, some of them probably even looking forward to death, as it would end the pain. So the famine is here, with or without official definition! <span class="mag-quote-center">So the famine is here, with or without official definition!</span></p> <p>Daily, we see images of starving children on our screens as we snack in front of our TVs, smartphones or whatever… Many of us then rush off to send money to our favourite charities or friends and families in Yemen, knowing that this is the only practical thing we can do to help people buy the food whose prices have rocketed due to blockade, collapse of currency, reduced imports, and indeed, drought which means that this year there is hardly any locally-produced food (at the best of times, the country only produces about 15% of its entire grain needs). </p> <p>We consider political action, write to legislators and government, somehow hoping that it will achieve something, although experience has shown that these efforts are largely ineffective. We feel helpless in the face of disaster. What are world leaders doing? Where is the ‘international community’ Yemenis so often appeal to?</p> <h2><strong>The risks of speaking truth to power in Saudi Arabia</strong></h2> <p>We may also wonder why Saudi strong man Mohammed bin Salman (variously known as MBS, Crown prince and Minister of Defence) is not ending this futile war which causes unmentionable suffering for Yemenis and zero achievement for the coalition he leads. After all the Saudi-led war in Yemen has now been going on for a full three and a half years, rather than the couple of weeks or so expected when MBS launched ‘Decisive Storm’ in March 2015. The excuse that this failure is due to considerable Iranian military support for the ill-armed Huthi movement is wearing thin, in the absence of meaningful evidence. Meanwhile, some of us are also exercised at the ‘alleged’ murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoqji in the Saudi Arabian consulate in Istanbul, something Saudi authorities stopped denying two weeks after his disappearance.<span class="mag-quote-center"> Why is no one ‘telling truth to power’ to MBS? The answer to this question is most obvious in Khashoqji’s fate.</span></p> <p>Why is no one ‘telling truth to power’ to MBS? The answer to this question is most obvious in Khashoqji’s fate: if a highly respectable, conventional and well-connected Saudi national who is mildly critical of the regime and by no means a dissident, can come to such an end, fear must reign in MBS’s palaces. Last August, the Canadian Foreign Minister tweeted criticism of the human rights situation in SA: MBS’s response was to order 8,000 Saudi students in Canada to leave, cut air links and all economic ties, and expel the Canadian ambassador, something of an over-reaction by any standards. </p> <p>Another example of MBS’s sophisticated foreign policy initiatives was the forced resignation of Lebanese Prime Minister Hariri last year (withdrawn as soon as Hariri managed to get back home).&nbsp; Within the country dozens of men and women are held without trial, including senior Islamist scholars, for expressing slight criticisms of the regime. This time last year, dozens of senior Saudi investors were imprisoned in a luxury hotel until they paid heavy ransoms for their release. This is an incomplete list, all coming on top of the war in Yemen started only 2 months after MBS became Minister of Defence and the siege, since mid-2017, of Qatar whose leaders had the nerve to have a foreign policy diverging from that of Saudi Arabia.</p> <p>So back to Yemen. In this context it is not so strange that close associates have failed to tell MBS how badly his war is going. Not only has there been little progress on military fronts for nearly three years, but the war is costing his country billions, has considerably damaged Saudi Arabia’s already pretty dismal international reputation, and is now causing the deaths of thousands, possibly soon millions, Yemeni children, adults and older people by starvation. </p> <p>Internationally, civil society and parliamentary moves to take action against Saudi Arabia, and particularly to stop its purchase of lethal weapons, stumble against two obstacles: for all major exporting countries, USA in the lead, UK close behind, these sales play an important political and economic role in maintaining their regimes in power.&nbsp; </p> <p>Trump made the position clear when he pointed out that he would not jeopardise USD 110 billion of arms sales because of the murder of a mere opposition journalist in Istanbul. As all of us l<a href="">iving in the UK</a> know, regardless of <a href="">evidence to the contrary</a>, May’s government is relying on Saudi Arabia and other GCC states to invest and rescue the British economy when the expected major financial problems emerge post-Brexit. So arms sales will continue to cause the majority of directly war-related casualties from air strikes, ‘officially’ still estimated at under 20,000, a laughable figure by any standards.</p> <p>Most people of all ages are dying away from the few record-keeping institutions. They are dying from diseases caused by malnutrition, resulting in weakened resistance to health risks, particularly those caused by polluted water. As the country depends on imports for most of its staples, the Coalition’s effective blockade of Red Sea coast ports bears the main responsibility for the lack of food in the country; as is well-known, scarcity means increased prices, so the famine is worsened by the fact that about 9 million people depend on the salaries of 1.2 million government staff who have remained unpaid for more than two years now.&nbsp; </p> <p>While UN and other humanitarian agencies’ systematic protests at the severe restriction of imports have resulted in some supplies coming in, they are way below needs. The current military offensive on Hodeida is worsening the situation as the coalition siege has closed the main roads used to bring food and other basic supplies from the port to the neighbouring densely populated mountainous highlands under Huthi control. Starvation of the people appears to be a coalition military strategy: the UN and others repeat daily that this is a breach of International Humanitarian Law and can be described as a war crime. The coalition persists, indifferent to the human cost and international law.</p> <h2><strong>Who is benefiting from the suffering and starvation of Yemenis?</strong></h2> <p>Officials everywhere claim loudly that the only solution to the Yemen crisis is political and that the war cannot be won militarily. So why is so little being done to end the fighting? Well, of course, a regular supply of weapons and ammunition and logistical support ensure that believers in a military solution can continue on their path (in the process enriching the arms dealers, small, medium or large, internationally and locally). Alongside the ‘internationally recognised government’ of President Hadi, the Saudi and Emirati coalition leaders are the main believers in the military solution, and their media loudly proclaim progress, regardless of the situation on the ground.&nbsp; </p> <p>There are other individuals and groups who use the war to pursue their partisan and personal interests at the expense of Yemenis who, I repeat again, are suffering beyond belief. First and foremost among those exploiting the war for their own benefit are the actors of the war economy, local powers ‘taxing’ goods, armed men at all levels, from those manning checkpoints to their leaders. While the actions of foot soldiers can be justified by desperation to support families, higher up the chain profiteers use these ill-gotten gains to fill their foreign bank accounts and buy luxury properties in the Gulf and beyond, using money which would otherwise keep ordinary people alive. <span class="mag-quote-center">Higher up the chain profiteers use these ill-gotten gains to fill their foreign bank accounts and buy luxury properties in the Gulf and beyond.</span></p> <p>Other beneficiaries of the war include different elements of the southern separatist movement who, currently aligned with the UAE, follow its lead in exchange for practical and diplomatic support to promote their political ambitions for independence, regardless of the lack of evidence of popular support for their demands. Leaders of the rival Yemeni ‘governments’ complement the list of those benefiting materially from the suffering. The actions of all these groups prevent any political progress by undermining efforts to bring about peace negotiations, whether led by the UN Special Envoy or any other agency trying to do anything to alleviate the suffering of the population. &nbsp;</p> <h2><strong>What is being done to end this disaster?</strong></h2> <p>A few words on the attempts to bring about peace negotiations: the recently appointed British Special Envoy of the UN Secretary General, Martin Griffiths, has now been in position for 8 months. Starting with good will from all sides, his reputation took a serious blow when his proposed Geneva ‘consultations’ between the two main warring parties aborted in early September. While this was apparently due to his and his team’s inability to ensure safe travel for the Huthi delegation, the fact that this issue had not been solved upstream with the coalition raises questions about the quality of preparation for these talks. <span class="mag-quote-center">Why doesn’t Griffiths attempt to have UNSC resolution 2216 updated or replaced? It is widely seen as a war rather than a peace resolution.</span></p> <p>There are many other unanswered questions around the UN’s role: why did the coalition decide to launch its offensive on Hodeida precisely when Griffiths was due to present his new peace plan? Why doesn’t Griffiths attempt to have UNSC resolution 2216 updated or replaced? It is widely seen as a war rather than a peace resolution, as it effectively demands complete Huthi surrender, something which both the coalition and the Hadi ‘government’ want, but can’t be the basis for successful negotiations with a group which is far from being defeated. If he really wanted to achieve peace, Griffiths’ first move should have been to try and get the UNSC to approve a resolution facilitating negotiations and recognising the reality on the ground, something which he has apparently not focused on. Why are others, such as the EU or its member states, or indeed anyone willing to try, being discouraged from attempting to negotiate? In view of the stalemate for the UN, any attempt to end the fighting should be strongly supported, if only to save lives of ordinary Yemenis from starvation.</p> <h2><strong>Immediate prospects</strong></h2> <p>Since the aborted Geneva ‘consultations’ the UN Special Envoy has made statements announcing new talks soon. Meanwhile, the coalition offensive on Hodeida is proceeding with significantly increased airstrikes and ground shelling. In the first two weeks of October, the World Food Programme ‘was unable to access the Red Sea Mills where 51 000 metric tonnes of wheat is stored, enough to feed 3.7 million people for one month.’<a href="#_ftn1">[1]</a> Overall, the UN last month estimated that the country had only about 2 months’ worth of food supplies left. UN and humanitarian agency officials are daily, and increasingly desperately, calling world politicians to take urgent action to prevent a full-scale famine and millions of deaths, calls which appear to be falling on deaf ears. <span class="mag-quote-center">Overall, the UN last month estimated that the country had only about 2 months’ worth of food supplies left.</span></p> <p>It may be worth noting that internationally recognised president Hadi suddenly replaced his Prime Minister bin Daghr on 15 October, ‘referring’ him to investigation and blaming his government for ‘negligence… failure to alleviate suffering, inability to stop economic deterioration…’ and more, all very accurate accusations, but why did it take him so long to notice? The situation has been deteriorating steadily since April 2016 when bin Daghr took office. </p> <p>While this move may, in the best case scenario, reduce the level of corruption of his government, it is unlikely to provide effective governance in the so-called ‘liberated’ areas, whose people have seen little sign of government presence since their ‘liberation.’Yemenis there have been waiting and hoping for better days for more than three years now. Either way, the new government is unlikely to have any impact on the war, something which is decided in the Saudi and Emirati ruling courts, not the offices of the Yemeni President, even if the latter are in the Saudi capital.&nbsp; </p> <p>Meanwhile, Yemenis continue to suffer and die, mostly out of sight. Can we do more to help save them from the indifference of the ‘international community’? In the absence of political clout, readers are urged to write to politicians, donate to organisations which work effectively in Yemen and anything else they can think of.&nbsp; </p> <p><a href="#_ftnref1">[1]</a> OCHA, Yemen al Hudaydah update, situation report 13, 3-15 October 2018</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/hodeida-prospects-of-humanitarian-catastrophe-brings-yemen-back">Hodeida: prospects of humanitarian catastrophe brings Yemen back into the news</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/helen-lackner/who-apart-from-its-people-wants-peace-in-yemen">Who, apart from its people, wants peace in Yemen?</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/uk/andrew-smith/even-saudi-arabia-accepts-that-saudi-forces-are-killing-civilians-in-yemen-so-why-is">Saudi forces are killing civilians in Yemen, so why is the UK still arming the regime?</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 Arab Emirates </div> <div class="field-item even"> United States </div> <div class="field-item odd"> UK </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 4.0 </div> </div> </div> North-Africa West-Asia North-Africa West-Asia UK United States United Arab Emirates Saudi Arabia Yemen Helen Lackner Sat, 20 Oct 2018 19:26:07 +0000 Helen Lackner 120190 at إعادة تدوير البشر! ... هل فكرتَ في أن تصبحَ شجرة؟ <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>علبة صغيرة بمائة دولار فقط تضمن لكَ حياة أخرى على الأرض لكن بهيئة شجرة</p> </div> </div> </div> <p dir="rtl"><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//" alt="" title="" width="460" height="307" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Berat, Albania - Painted decorative ceiling of the Prayer hall of the Helveti Tekke or Teqe e Helvetive, a Bektashi Sufi shrine. Picture by Manuel Cohen/Zuma Press/PA Images. All rights reserved. </span></span></span>من منا يتذكر الدرس البسيط في العلوم عن الألوان، وكيف أن الألوان ليست حقيقية! أغلبنا لا يتذكر لأنّ عملية حفظ الدروس، &nbsp;تُخزنُ غالباً في الجزء المؤقت من ذاكرتنا ما دامت لا ترتبط بصور واقعية أبعد من نتيجة الامتحان.</p><p dir="rtl"><a href="">الألوان ليست حقيقة</a>، فرؤيتك لشيء أحمر ليس لأنهُ مكون من جزيئات حمراء، بل لأن سطحه يمتص كل ألوان الطيف عدا الأحمر، فلا ترى سواه، وإذا ما امتص الجسم كل الألوان ستراهُ أسوداً كالفحم، أما إذا أفتقرَ الجسم لقابلية امتصاص أي لون، ظهر باللون الأبيض كالورقة، وهي أشياء لها علاقة بالطول الموجي للألوان، والبعد بين الذرات المكونة للمادة.</p><p dir="rtl">اللون الأخضر بالذات من الألوان المحببة للإنسان، تُذكره بارتباطه الأزلي &nbsp;بالطبيعة وتجددها. اللون الأخضر ليسَ من الألوان الأساسية -الأحمر والأصفر والأزرق- الأخضر لون ثانوي، والجمع بين صفرة الشمس مع زرقة المحيط سيُنتجان لوناً أخضراً كالحياة، بينما إزالة هذين اللونين لن يبقي إلا على اللون الأحمر! لذلكَ يرتدي الأطباء والممرضين في صالات العمليات اللون الأخضر، لغرض التصحيح البصري بعد النظر لفترة طويلة إلى اللون الأحمر للدم. اللون الأخضر جلوة البصر، وراحة للنفس، وإنّ ارتباطه الوثيق بالحياة &nbsp;جعل منه لوناً مقدساً لدى أغلب الشعوب، فنجدهُ يرمز في المخيال الشعبي مثلاً إلى البيت النبوي، يتبرّك المؤمنون بقطع من القماش الأخضر تُعلق في ضريح ولي، أو تمسح بشباك قبرهِ. وهو أيضاً لون السلام، ولون غصن الزيتون الذي حملتهُ الحمامة لتؤكد على رجوع الحياة بعد انحسار الطوفان.</p><p dir="rtl">بما أن الموضة العالمية اليوم هي في إعادة تدوير الأشياء للحفاظ على مصادر البيئة المحدودة أصلاً، &nbsp;والحفاظ على لون الأرض الأخضر، هل فكرتَ يوماً في إمكانية إعادة تدوير البشر! لِمَ لا؛ البشر الذين يلوثون الأرض بشتى الأشكال، &nbsp;يسفكونَ الدم في حروبهم التي لا تنتهي، ويستهلكون موارد البيئة بوصفهم كائنات مستهلكة، صارَ بإمكانهم الآن أن يتحولوا إلى كائنات منتجة، وأن يساهموا في التصحيح البصري ويصيروا أشجاراً!</p><p class="mag-quote-center" dir="rtl">علبة صغيرة بمائة دولار فقط تضمن لكَ حياة أخرى على الأرض لكن بهيئة شجرة</p><p dir="rtl">في العام 1997 تقدم الشاب الإسباني "جيرارد موليني"، مواليد برشلونة 1977، بفكرة غريبة، ماذا لو أعدنا تدوير البشر، ماذا لو حولناهم إلى أشجار صديقة للبيئة. وعلى مدى خمسة عشر عاماً لم يتوقف عن الترويج لفكرته وإجراء التجارب لمعرفة أفضل الطرق وأبسطها لذلك، حتى أصبحت الشركة اليوم شركة قانونية ومعتمدة يديرها من مقرها في برشلونة مع أخيهِ الأصغر سناً "روجر موليني".الشركة المعروفة بإسم <a href="">"Bio urns"</a> مستمرة بشحن الأكواب العضوية التي يُخزن فيها رماد الموتى، إلى أي مكان في العالم، مع وضع كمية من البذور لأكثر من نبات لتزرعه حسب رغبتك في جثة الميت، وطلب أربع أكواب أو أكثر سيُعفيكَ من دفع رسوم النقل. طبعاً هذهِ الأكواب باتت تستخدم لدفن ليسَ البشر وحسب، بل حتى حيواناتهم الأليفة!</p><p dir="rtl">في الوقت ذاته تقدم العالمان الإيطاليان &nbsp;آنا تشيتلي وراؤول بريتزل بطلب الموافقة على مشروع مماثل، حيث صمم العالمان كبسولات دفن لحفظ كامل الجسد، وليسَ الرماد فقط، هذهِ الكبسولات تحوي أنزيمات ومواد عضوية تسرع من عملية تحليل الجسد وتحويلهِ إلى مواد غذائية صالحة لإنبات النبات الذي تُزرع بذوره داخل الكبسولة، لكن الحكومة الإيطالية رفضت الطلب.</p><p dir="rtl">وقبلَ عامين تقريباً أطلق الشباب العراقي عبر الفيسبوك ومواقع التواصل الأخرى حملة مماثلة وفاءً لشهداء العراق وبالأخص شهداء الجيش والحشد الشعبي، الحملة التي أُطلق عليها "صرخة تصحر" والتي تُشرف عليها منظمة <a href="">"صرخة" للإغاثة والتنمية</a>، تقوم هذهِ الحملة على أساس زرع شجرة الكابرس، التي تمتاز بتحملها للأجواء المناخية الصعبة، وتحمل كل شجرة بطاقة بإسم الشهيد الذي زُرعت لأجله، وإن علت في الوقت ذاته صرخات أخرى لأختيار نوع آخر من الأشجار بعد إيراد بعض خبراء البيئة أضراراً هائلة قد يسببها هذا النوع من الأشجار.</p><p> منذ أن انطلقت الحملة وصفحات التواصل مستمرة بدعمها، تحت وسم "زرعت شجرة لشهيد" وقد تبرع الكثيرين بأكثر من شجرة، بعض المنظمات تبرعت بما يصل إلى مائة شجرة، وبادرت حملة أنا الإنسان في محافظة البصرة إلى زرع 1700 شجرة وفاءً لشهداء<a href=""> مجزرة سبايكر</a>، هذهِ المبادرة وغيرها من المبادرات تهدف إلى محاربة ظاهرة التصحر، وفي الوقت ذاته تُساهم في إعادة التصحيح البصري لأعين العراقيين الذين تعبوا من النظر طويلاً إلى الدم المسفوح هدراً في الحروب.</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="/node/119198">لن أبكي ضياع حقيبتي بعد اليوم</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/node/119438">عندما كنت مُستمعاً</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by 4.0 </div> </div> </div> North-Africa West-Asia Middle East Forum North-Africa West-Asia رغد قاسم Sat, 20 Oct 2018 14:28:13 +0000 رغد قاسم 120163 at Mr. Gay Syria أين أنت يا حبّي؟ أنا هنا يا حبّي <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>يشكّل الفيلم توثيقاً مهمّاً لعالم شخصيّات سوريّة تتقاطع مصائرها مع الكثير من الأسئلة السياسيّة والاجتماعيّة</p> </div> </div> </div> <p>&nbsp;</p><p dir="rtl"><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//" alt="" title="" width="400" height="400" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>No attribution needed. </span></span></span>من نافل القول إنّ ملايين السوريين والسوريات الذين لجئوا من بلدهم إلى دول العالم المختلفة في السنوات الأخيرة، لم يخرجوا من سوريا دون حمل مشاكل البلد الاجتماعيّة والثقافيّة على كاهلهم، ناهيك عن تلك السياسيّة التي يعيشون على وقعها بشكل يومي في أوطان اللجوء المختلفة.</p><p dir="rtl">&nbsp;إحدى أهمّ تلك "المشاكل" التّي حملها السوريّون هي أسئلة أساسيّة تتعلق بالحريّات الفرديّة والاجتماعيّة التي كانت مقموعة في بلدهم لأسباب مختلفة، فمع موجات هجرة السوريّين، خرجت من سوريا نساء مقموعات ومعنّفات طالت الكثير منهنّ<a href=""> لعنة العنف</a> حتّى في بعض &nbsp;بلاد اللجوء الّتي &nbsp;يسودها دور القانون، كما خرجت من سوريا فئات اجتماعيّة مضطهدة لأسباب مختلفة، منها مثليّون ومثليات، كانت مجموعة منهم لاجئة في تركيّا موضوع فيلم "<a href="">Mr. Gay Syria</a>" للمخرجة التركيّة عائشة توبراك، والّذي بدأ عرضه في صالات السينما الألمانيّة مؤخّراً.</p><p dir="rtl"><strong>&nbsp;اليأس لدرجة الشجاعة</strong></p><p dir="rtl">يتابع الفيلم رحلة الناشط السوري محمود حسّينو، ومجموعة أخرى من أعضاء تجمّع "<a href="">شاي وحكي</a>" في مدينة إسطنبول التركيّة خلال تنظيم مسابقة لاختيار Mr. Gay Syria من أفراد مجتمع المثليّين السوريّين اللاجئين في تركيّا، وذلك بغرض المشاركة في المسابقة العالميّة<a href=""> Mr. Gay world</a> المقامة في مالطا عام 2016. تنتهي المسابقة في نسختها السوريّة بفوز حسين المقيم في إسطنبول، والمتزوّج زواجاً تقليدياً من فتاة لديه منها طفلة صغيرة، والذي يحلم بالحصول على تأشيرة لدخول أوروبّا وطلب اللجوء "لإنقاذها من المجتمع العنفي الذي تعيش فيه".</p><p dir="rtl">&nbsp;بعد فوز حسين باللّقب، تبدأ رحلة الحصول على تأشيرة السفر، والتي كانت أحد دوافعه الأساسيّة لدخول المسابقة في المقام الأوّل، وللظهور أيضاً في فيلم المخرجة التركيّة، والّتي تتابع عدستها التفاصيل المحبطة لرفض تأشيرة سفر حسين من قبل سفارة مالطا، لينتهي الأمر بمنظّم المسابقة في نسختها السوريّة "محمود حسيّنو" للذهاب وحيداً إلى الحدث الدولي، دون منافس سوري على اللقب، ولكن أملاً في أن تسلّط مشاركته الضوء على معاناة المثليّين السوريّين.</p><p dir="rtl">&nbsp;يتابع الفيلم أيضاً معاناة مجموعة أخرى من المثليين السوريّين في إسطنبول، والذين تفرقّهم أيضاً مأساة تأشيرات السفر نحو القارّة الأوروبيّة، والتي ينتظرها جميعهم بفارغ الصبر أملاً في الهرب من<a href=""> وضعهم الهش</a> قانونيّاً<a href=""> واجتماعيّاً</a> في تركيّا. وفي حالة حسين، للهرب أيضاً من مجتمع الظلّ السورّي ممثلّاً بالعائلة التي لا تتقبل مثليته بحال من الأحوال، الأمر الذي يدفعه للتعبير باختصار بليغ عن مصدر "الجرأة" التي خوّلته المشاركة في هذه المسابقة المحفوفة بالمخاطر، وذلك عبر حوار مع أحد منظّمي المسابقة.</p><p dir="rtl">&nbsp;"-بدنا نسألك عن مشاركتك معنا. شو فينا نصنّفا شجاعة ولّا يأس؟</p><p dir="rtl">-وصّل اليأس لدرجة الشجاعة، هيك فيني قلّك. التنتين!"</p><p dir="rtl">فالفيلم يظهر في غير مكان تقاطع المصلحة الشخصيّة عند شخصيّاته متمثّلة في النجاة، مع تحقيق قدر عال من الثورة والتمرّد، وذلك بعكس المعادلة النمطيّة التي تربط الجرأة غالباً بالخسارة والفقد. وبذلك ينجح الفيلم في تصوير حياة شخصيّاته برماديّتها، أي بكونها ليست خيارات شديدة الوضوح بيضاء أو سوداء، كما ينجح أيضاً بـ"أنسنة" مثليّي سوريا عبر لقطات عفويّة مختلفة للحظات علاقاتهم العاطفيّة القائمة على الحب والارتباط (في حالة الزوجين المثليين في الفيلم) أو حتّى أدوارهم الاجتماعيّة كعمل حسين مثلاً كحلاّق للذكور، بعيداً عن الصورة النمطيّة للمثليّين في المنطقة العربيّة كعاملي جنس، وخارجين عن القانون.</p><p class="mag-quote-center" dir="rtl">لا يخفى على متابع الفيلم مدى جاذبيّة موضوعه لسوق الوثائقي العالميّة، وبخاصّة في العصر الحالي<a href="">&nbsp;لازدهار سياسات الهويّة</a></p><p dir="rtl"><strong>&nbsp;لاجئون وسياسات هويّة</strong></p><p dir="rtl">على المقلب الآخر، لا يخفى على متابع الفيلم مدى جاذبيّة موضوعه لسوق الوثائقي العالميّة، وبخاصّة في العصر الحالي<a href=""> لازدهار سياسات الهويّة</a>، فالفيلم يعرض قصّة لاجئين، مثليّي الجنس، وفي الوقت ذاته مقيمين في تركيّا التي يحظى نظامها السياسي بكثير من السخط في أوساط النخب الثقافيّة الأوروبيّة،<a href=""> وبخاصّة في ألمانيا</a> الّتي<a href=""> يعرض الفيلم</a> تجاريّاً في صالات مدن مختلفة منها. الأمر الذي قد يضع الفيلم في خانة الخيار الـ"الجذّاب" لصناديق الدعم، وفرص المشاركة في المهرجانات والجوائز، ما قد يترك المتابع بين خيارين لقراءة الفيلم. الأوّل في سياقه السوري كفيلم عن اللاجئين السوريين في تركيّا، والثاني قراءة الفيلم كاقتناص ذكي من المخرجة عائشة توبراك لموضوع قابل لـ"البيع" بسهولة في السوق العالميّة.</p><p dir="rtl">&nbsp;إذا ما بقينا في فلك القراءة الأولى، سوريّة الطابع للفيلم، فسنجد أنّه من الأفلام القليلة التي تسلّط الضوء على حياة أكثر من ثلاثة ملايين لاجئ سوري على الأراضي التركيّة، كما تشكّل حقيقة كون مخرجة تركيّة الجنسيّة عاملاً إيجابيّاً وسط ما يبدو أنّه توجّه متأخّر من صنّاع السينما الأتراك لصناعة<a href=""> أفلام</a> عن حياة السوريّين المقيمين منذ سنوات في بلادهم، أو أفلام أخرى عن<a href=""> أحداث الثورة السوريّة</a>. وسط الاحتقان في بعض أوساط المجتمع التركي تجاه اللاجئين السوريّين، والذي ينفجر من فترة لأخرى على شكل<a href=""> أحداث عنف جماعيّة</a>، يتخلّلها مطالبات بترحيل اللّاجئين السوريّين إلى سوريا.</p><p dir="rtl">&nbsp;مع وجود هذا الخوف من الترحيل، الذي قد يكون الطريق الأقصر إليه التورّط في أيّة قضيّة عامّة في تركيّا، يطمئن حسين أصدقائه قبيل مشهد<a href=""> مظاهرة لمجتمع الميم</a> في مدينة إسطنبول بأنّ السوريّين لن يكونوا وحدهم في المظاهرة، بل "سيكون هناك الكثير من الأتراك" الجملة التي تعني وفق معجم سوريّي تركيّا أنّ المسؤوليّة في حال حصول أمر "سيّء" لن تلقى على كاهل السوريّين وحدهم.</p><p dir="rtl">&nbsp;ومن هنا، وعلى وقع شعار "أين أنت يا حبّي؟ أنا هنا يا حبّي!" الذي يردّده المتظاهرون والمتظاهرات، يتابع حسين خلال وقوفه على طرف الشارع خائفاً عناصر الشرطة المندفعين في الشارع لفضّ المظاهرة، في صورة معبّرة عن وضع اللاجئين السوريين في تركيّا، وربّما أيضاً عن وضع فئات واسعة من<a href=""> المجتمعات العربيّة</a>، تعجز عن إيصال صوتها فيما يتعلّق بقضايا جوهريّة بالنسبة لأفرادها على أراضي بلادها، أو حتّى في بلاد اللجوء دون وجود "الكثير من الأتراك" حسب تعبير حسين العفوي.</p><p dir="rtl">&nbsp;إلاّ أن "كيمياء" الحراك الاجتماعي التي يعكسها الفيلم، تلتقط بين أشياء أخرى شعار "أين أنت ياحبّي؟ أنا هنا ياحبّي!" المستخدم عادة في مظاهرات مجتمع الميم التركي، والّذي لا يتقاطع لفظه التركي مع اللّغة العربيّة فقط*، ولكن أيضاً يشكّل الشعار بالنسبة لمردّديه<a href=""> تذكيراً بمظاهرات</a> "<a href="">غيزي بارك"</a> عام 2013، التّي رٌدّد فيها الشعار ذاته، حيث كانت المظاهرات في حينها متأثّرة بالمزاج العام لحركات الربيع العربي والاحتجاجات الشعبيّة التي عمّت معظم بلدان المنطقة.</p><p dir="rtl">&nbsp;فبالمحصّلة النهائيّة، يشكّل Mr. Gay Syria توثيقاً مهمّاً لعالم شخصيّات سوريّة تتقاطع مصائرها مع الكثير من الأسئلة السياسيّة والاجتماعيّة، والّتي يبدو أنّ التطرّق لها لن يكون سهلاً دون الوقوع في مطب التصنيف تحت وسم الانصياع لرغبات سوق سياسات الهويّة المزدهر، ولكنّ واقع الحال أنّ الصدف شاءت أن يخرج السوريّون إلى العالم ويمتلكوا قدرة التعبير عن ذاتهم في هذه الأوقات الملتبسة بالذات، وليس في أيّ وقت مضى.</p><p dir="rtl">&nbsp;</p><p dir="rtl">*بالتركيّة: nerdesin aşkım? burdayım aşkım. حيث كلمة "آشكيم" باللفظ التركي تحيل إلى كلمة "عشقي" العربيّة. </p><p>&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-Lafarg-factory-Syrian-play-Germany">الإسمنت الفرنسي، والأسئلة السوريّة، &quot;المصنع&quot; كمحرَض على التفكير</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/north-africa-west-asia/%D8%A3%D9%88%D8%B1%D9%87%D8%A7%D9%86-%D8%A8%D8%A7%D9%85%D9%88%D9%83-%D8%A7%D9%84%D8%B3%D9%81%D9%8A%D8%B1-%D8%A7%D9%84%D8%B1%D9%88%D8%B3%D9%8A-%D8%AA%D8%B1%D9%83%D9%8A%D8%A7/%D9%88%D8%B3%D9%8A%D9%85-%D8%A7%D9%84%D8%B4%D8%B1%D9%82%D9%8A">أورهان باموك والسفير الروسي: المخيّلة والواقع بين مولودين</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/north-africa-west-asia/%D8%A7%D9%84%D8%AA%D9%84%D9%81%D8%A7%D8%B2-%D9%85%D9%85%D8%AB%D9%84-%D8%AA%D8%B1%D9%83%D9%8A-%20%D8%AA%D8%B1%D9%83%D9%8A%D9%91%D8%A7-%D8%AF%D8%B1%D8%A7%D9%85%D8%A7-%D9%85%D8%B3%D9%84%D8%B3%D9%84/%D9%88%D8%B3%D9%8A%D9%85-%D8%A7%D9%84%D8%B4%D8%B1%D9%82%D9%8A">من جمال باشا إلى عفرين: سرديّات متصارعة على شاشة التلفاز</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> North-Africa West-Asia Middle East Forum North-Africa West-Asia وسيم الشرقي Fri, 19 Oct 2018 15:30:30 +0000 وسيم الشرقي 120148 at Iranian pseudo anti-imperialism <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>The first prerequisite of fighting imperialism is to fight the imperialist relations at home.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//" alt="" title="" width="460" height="298" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei addresses tens of thousands of Iranian voluntary forces (Basij) at the Azadi Stadium in the Iranian capital Tehran, Iran, on October 4, 2018 . Picture by Parspix/ABACA/ABACA/PA Images. All rights reserved.</span></span></span>Anti-imperialism comes in various shapes and forms in Iran, ranging from hard-nosed to soft-bellied. However, with the rise of reactionary forces, the history of anti-imperialism in post-revolutionary Iran has been the triumph of the latter. The 1979 Revolution in which the religious forces seized the power and tried to redirect the anti-imperialist discourse, brought the long-term Iran-America honeymoon to an end. It led to a misconception among western intellectuals that the Iranian government is at the forefront of resistance against American imperialism. There were also some people among the secular Iranian intellectuals who endorsed this anti-imperialism – most importantly Tudeh Party (Party of the People) that was the admirer of imperialist discourse of the Islamic Republic, until the regime imprisoned and executed its main leaders in 1983. </p><p class="western"> The hostage crisis in 1979 marked a turning point in Iran-United States relations. It derailed the leftist anti-imperialist discourse and turned it into shallow rhetoric against the so-called Great Satan with the unifying slogan ‘Down with America’. </p> <p class="western"> Thirty years later, when Mahmoud Ahmadi-Nejad took power, even some western intellectuals fell for a misleading vision that considered him a leftist fighting against the dominant global system. </p> <h3 class="western"> <strong>Cartography of a revolution</strong></h3> <p class="western"> In order to understand the history of anti-imperialism in Iran, a retrospective reflection on the ’79 Revolution is necessary. To cut a long story short, the Revolution happened at the dawn of the <span><a class="western" href="">neoliberal counter-revolution</a></span>, which brought Thatcher and Reagan to power. The first decade of the Revolution coincides with the alteration of the global scene: the cold war was about to come to an end and the Soviet Union collapsed. </p><p class="western">Leftists and anti-colonialists all over the world, the main agents of anti-imperialist discourse, were forced to retreat. In Iran, the first decade was that of antagonism between the forces involved in the ’79 Revolution. The dominant political Islamism that came out of it suppressed all the rivals, including the secular leftists and the liberals, which culminated in the <span><a class="western" href="">1988 massacre</a></span>. It ended up in a new ambivalent order in which it opposes politically what it endorsed economically. </p><p class="western">The regime follows the <span><a class="western" href=";printsec=frontcover&amp;source=gbs_ge_summary_r&amp;cad=0#v=onepage&amp;q=IMF&amp;f=false">World Bank instructions and IMF discipline</a></span>, subjugating workers and their few trade unions, implementing the <span><a class="western" href="">structural adjustment program</a></span>, establishing itself as a <span><a class="western" href="">low-wage market for capital</a></span>. The political economy of the Islamic Republic is in accordance with the world order, serving the <span><a class="western" href="">one percent</a></span> local oligarchy that is anything but anti-imperialist. </p><p class="western">Yet in terms of political rhetoric, it presents itself as an anti-imperialist regime, considered by the so-called international community as a ‘rogue state’. The international policies of the Islamic Republic, its regional alliances and animosities that sporadically shift in contrast to the United States- Israel- Saudi Arabia camp to spark the flames of Sunni-Shia divide, can be explained in these terms. The regime takes full advantage of the regional demography, the existence of Shia minorities in every corner of the Middle East. Ironically, any western intervention in the region plays into the hands of the Islamic Republic. As the central governments fall apart, these minorities reorganize themselves to find their allies. </p> <h3 class="western"> ‘<strong>Neither war nor peace’ strategy</strong></h3> <p class="western"> The Janus-faced nature of the Islamic Republic manifests itself in the principle of ‘neither war nor peace’ on the international scene. Indeed, it engages in both coercion and cooperation simultaneously, though the balance between these two facets in the exercise of power may shift from one period or administration to another. After eight-years of Iran-Iraq war, <span><a class="western" href="">this principle</a></span> has always guided the Iran-America relations. It constitutes a gray zone in which the government can utilize the confusion on both sides: whenever necessary the war threat comes to the fore, allowing the government to intensify the domestic suppression. When the threat is unable to mobilize the international consensus, the government slips into negotiations with the West, without reducing the scale of domestic oppression. </p><p class="western">The move toward negotiation and peace in this case is, however, not drastic enough to keep the war threat on the table. As a result, we are faced with a fluid, vague, indeterminate situation in which the government can still use the advantages and drawbacks of war threat as well as an unsustainable peace, both in terms of domestic and international policies. </p> <p class="western"> Despite the geopolitical power asymmetries between the US and the Islamic Republic, the continuation of ‘neither war nor peace’ situation is in line with the United States interests. It allows both to hold sway over the region, even if by proxy wars. Moreover, there has been some clandestine cooperation between the two behind the scenes, most importantly the <span><a class="western" href="">Iran–Contra scandal</a></span>, that betrays the hollowness of the Iranian anti-imperialist megaphone. </p> <h3 class="western"> <strong>Soft-bellied anti-imperialism</strong></h3> <p class="western"> Looking at this picture, it is hard to buy into the anti-imperialist rhetoric proposed by the Islamic Republic for decades. All the same, shallow anti-imperialism continues to create its new agents. In recent years, a heterogeneous array of <span><a class="western" href="">journalists</a></span>, <span><a class="western" href=";t=147s">social media activist</a></span>, think tanks, <span><a class="western" href="">organizations</a></span>, ex-politicians, <span><a class="western" href="">former ambassadors</a></span>, and <span><a class="western" href="">European academics</a></span> have cropped up to propagate, intentionally or unwittingly, the Islamic Republic rhetoric, by appealing to its role in confronting with the United States. </p><p class="western">Though with different motivations, they constitute a pseudo anti-imperialism by demonizing the United States’ president Donald Trump and providing the Islamic Republic with a human face. This generation of media activists mostly lives abroad, whether born in Europe, Britain, and North America or migrated to these countries. They idealized the western democracies in their hometowns, found liberal-democratic promises at odds with their reality, and turned to a kind of shallow anti-imperialism by inflating their Iranian identity. </p><p class="western">Overlooking the history of anti-imperialism in Iran – the nationalization of Iran oil industry by Mohammad Mosaddegh – and in the region, they substitute anti-imperialism with a superficial form of anti-Americanism in post-revolutionary Iran. Imperialism, in their view, is not a stage in the global development of capitalism, but rather a geopolitical competition. </p> <p class="western"> With no illusions of being exhaustive or all encompassing, here are three components of this pseudo anti-imperialism, interconnected with each other. </p> <p class="western"> 1. They lack a fine-grained structural analysis of imperialism. This kind of anti-imperialist discourse does not put the <span><a class="western" href="">new world order</a></span> into question, but merely roots for the underdogs. It prefers the Islamic Republic to gain global and regional leverage, rather than challenging the very global and regional relations based on domination. </p> <p class="western"> 2. It is indifferent to the reproduction of the global power relations, based on coercion, at the local level. The result is a discourse unconcerned about the bourgeois-democratic rights of citizens such as freedom of assembly, freedom of unveiling, freedom of expression. Their position reflects more that of the powers-that-be than that of the people. They have nothing to say about the popular struggles of the past four decades, or the suppression of workers, teachers, students, and women in Iran. They are not only silent on the analysis of current struggles in Iran, but also cannot provide empirical evidence of domestic politics for the intellectuals and academics around the world. </p> <p class="western"> 3. The third feature has to do with state-based international relations. All they do is to discuss the geopolitical competitions in the region and the balancing role of Tehran, which means neglecting the international solidarity of popular struggles throughout the region. Their statist internationalism leads to a simplified description of periphery countries, and they try to prove the US is not much better than those countries. Instead of insisting on the solidarity and equality of all Middle Eastern people, they focus on asymmetries among the Middle Eastern governments, asking for the hegemony of one over another. </p> <p class="western"> In doing so, they reduce anti-imperialism to anti-Americanism, and then to anti-Trumpism, which would make sense if they located it in a history of <span><a class="western" href="">capitalist imperialism</a></span>, not just at the level of the US administrations. At the level of Tehran domestic politics, they consider a distinction between the two factions of the regime, hardliner versus reformists, without paying attention to the rigid structure of the Islamic Republic. Their political hypocrisy is revealed as they were silent to Obama’s sanctions on Iran, when Ahmadi-Nejad was in power. </p> <h3 class="western"> <strong>What conflict?</strong></h3> <p class="western"> Shallow anti-imperialism is heavily emphasized in the way in which the Islamic Republic typically views and presents itself to the rest of the world, though here there is as much myth-spinning as truth-telling. The more general truth is that the Islamic Republic and the United States are, above all, ideological supplement to one another. They feed each other ideologically. </p><p class="western">Without the domestic despotic rule of the Islamic Republic posed as a democracy, as well as its imperial policies in the region, American bellicosity of ‘the axis of Evil’ would appear empty. In the same vein, however, without the history of American military interventions in Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria, as well as the dark history of coups in Latin America, Iran and elsewhere, the Islamic Republic would have no grounds for reactionary anti-American discourse. </p><p class="western">This is not to say that they are commensurable powers but that, in order to gain control and preside over the world economy, the American dominance needs a political exception, a country outside the civilized world in opposition to which the totality of capitalist civilization is constituted. Though it has been shifted constantly during the past decades, from Saddam Hussein to Muammar Gaddafi, the Islamic Republic has been always the main exception that has made the American dominance possible.</p> <p class="western"> The religious governments of Iran and Israel also supplement one another in the same fashion. As we have witnessed, any structural change in the Middle East, the kind that the Arab revolutions aspired to bring about, has been responded by Israel distastefully. It seems that the survival of Israel in the region is bound up with the current state of the Islamic Republic in relation to Hezbollah and Hamas. </p> <p class="western"> So the real conflict lies not between Iran and the United States, but between the poor people of the Middle East and their corrupt oligarchic rulers, and in the case of Iran, between the Iranian people and the plutocratic oligarchy of the Islamic Republic. It is a conflict best exemplified by the urban poor of the Arab revolutions – those masses that poured into the streets of Egypt, Tunisia, Syria, etc., in 2011 – in contrast to <span><a class="western" href="">Gulf Cooperation Council policies</a></span>. It is worth recalling that when Jordanians began to protest just recently against the austerity measures in early June 2018, three Gulf Arab states pledged <span><a class="western" href="">$2.5bn in aid</a></span> to Jordan to stabilize the kingdom and stifle a popular youth movement. </p> <p class="western"> For those Gulf States and the corrupt theocratic autocracies very little can be said. But advocates of shallow anti-imperialism need to answer a series of crucial questions. Do they try to campaign for solidarity between diverse struggles in the region? Do they defend the practical freedom of assembly, trade unions, parties, and so on in autocracies like Iran? Do they start petitions and initiatives with the help of intellectuals and independent activists against discriminatory laws in the Islamic Republic, most importantly <span><a class="western" href="">the compulsory veiling</a></span>? Do they battle against a religious, sexual, ethnic, political, apartheid regime, regardless of defending this or that faction of the Islamic Republic? Do they agree that the nuclear programme has had a devastating impact, economically and politically, on the lives of ordinary Iranians? Do they support a popular effort on impeding such programme beyond the international rivalry of corrupt politicians? </p> <p class="western"> What is at stake in the leftist ‘<span><a class="western" href="">third way</a></span>’ is to oppose <span><a class="western" href="">the nuclear programme</a></span> from the outset which will take the very deal off the table by a popular agency. If one puts the state-centered perspective aside, one can realize that not a deal between certain governments but a strong bottom-up opposition toward a nuclear programme is the only way to prevent further escalation in the region. </p> <p class="western"> Popular agency in Iran is not a mystical formulation. It has been determined, at least during the last decade, by the 2009 as well as 2017/2018 protests. Since the 2017 protests, it has taken on the form of daily activism all around the country. The latest example of such agency is to be found in a recent speech by <span><a class="western" href="">Esmail Bakhshi</a></span>, a representative of the Haft Tappeh Sugar Cane complex workers. After long successive strikes, he insists on the formation of independent workers unions as the only way out of the current predicament.</p> <p class="western"> On such quaint agency, a structural change of current Iran is built. A democratic Iran, hopefully a democratic region, unfettered from capitalist relations of corrupt leaders and oligarchic kings, will be able to confront capitalist imperialism. The first prerequisite of fighting imperialism is to fight the imperialist relations at home. Trump is nothing but one of the blathering dummies of the American-style <span><a class="western" href="">corporate democracy</a></span> at work. To fight Trump, one needs to fight their own domestic Trumps.</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/mehrdad-khonsari/can-iran-turn-crisis-into-opportunity">Can Iran turn crisis into opportunity?</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/north-africa-west-asia/ahmad-mohammadpour/looking-from-within-is-nuclear-deal-big-deal-for-iranian-p">Looking from within: is the nuclear deal a big deal for the Iranian people?</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/north-africa-west-asia/jubin-afshar/iran-gripped-by-strikes-and-protests">Iran gripped by strikes and protests </a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/sara-takafori/eyes-of-iran-and-its-children-ordinary-lives-iranian-sanctions-and-donald-trump-s-reje">The eyes of Iran and its children: ordinary lives, Iranian sanctions and Donald Trump’s rejection of the nuclear deal</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-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by 4.0 </div> </div> </div> North-Africa West-Asia North-Africa West-Asia Iran Trump Left imeprialism Rahman Bouzari Thu, 18 Oct 2018 06:00:00 +0000 Rahman Bouzari 119967 at Corruption corrodes Kurdish education <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Quality education from the outset can eradicate corruption, guarantee peaceful coexistence, and bring about social and economic justice. </p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//" alt="" title="" width="460" height="318" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Posters of candidates from different political parties are seen in Erbil of Kurdistan, Iraq, on Sept. 11, 2018. Picture by Yasser Jawad/Xinhua News Agency/PA Images. All rights reserved. </span></span></span>Every year, thousands of parents make a lot of sacrifice and spend their lifetime fortunes so that their children can get into good schools and universities. Thousands of high school graduates passionately get admission in public and private universities. But after four years of studying, many of them end up unemployed and jobless. This reflects a misallocation of their incomes, time, energy, and age. Meanwhile, the KRG Ministry of Higher Education and Scientific Research and the Ministry of Education have <span><a href="">failed</a></span> to tackle issues of overcrowded classrooms, outdated curriculums, and favouritism. </p><p class="western"> In 2017 in the Kurdistan region of Iraq, more than ten thousand students <span><a href=";MapID=1">dropped out</a></span> of school in the city of Sulaimani alone, mostly due to economic problems. Out of that number seven thousand are male and 3 thousand are female. Among those, high school students constitute the lion’s share. According to information provided by the Sulaimani Education Directorate, in 2017 and due to austerity measures by the Kurdistan Regional Government, 1356 teachers quit and asked for unpaid leave in order to find other work. </p> <p class="western"> University students are also <span><a href="">leaving</a></span> their universities and <span><a href="">heading</a></span> mostly to Europe since programs do not correspond to the demands of today in the fields of science and technology. UNIDO’s survey <span><a href="">shows</a></span> that unemployment in the Kurdistan region stands at 24% for men and 69% for women, highlighting administrative, economic, and <a href=";__xts__%5B0%5D=68.ARC3pow8zrj5bO2ce8BSWAtjfOJDrEeHSUFwqGZuyrBkL0k2MMgtG0rxuv5fX7yA2ps7igp7A9ptkXLOAGFuKp6rLLJFWV5ZrWO-fqHo11a9zXRjM9lf8B_WatdwQJNYrzYn4bpmwUGCbt9wCL3iJcHBFrZfHWaCuc2xKDzy6QSNDTXoLUPH0CNe0UwIta_3ql_hfUzU2ElytlEgXt07aoDgQW33L40HoKPn_3Z8yQ&amp;__tn__=FC-R">educational dysfunctions</a> and systematic problems in Kurdistan Regional Government’s institutions. </p> <p class="western"> In 2016 at the University of Halabja, a few teachers of the university <span><a href=";MapID=1">altered</a></span> final results of 74 students affecting the overall grades and rankings of top and failed students. Some officials of the university have <a href=";MapID=1">forged</a> signatures of teachers in order to issue fake certificates. An investigating committee was established look into these unlawful acts. The committee announced the names of those responsible for altering the documents. Not a single official or teacher has been arrested after five months of the announcement <a href=";MapID=1">confirming</a> corruption at a high level. </p> <p class="western"> Since 2014 not a single school has been <span><a href=";VideoCat=4">built</a></span> in the city of Sulaimani which has a population of 2 million. A spokesperson of the Ministry of Education <a href=";VideoCat=4">said</a> that they need to construct 250 to 300 hundred schools each year in order to meet the schooling needs. The Ministry of Education started constructing forty five schools in the city of Sulaimani for students of elementary, basic and high schools in 2010 but 8 years later, not a single building has been <a href=";VideoCat=4">finished</a>. Moreover, 34 schools and 24 kindergarten buildings were supposed to be constructed inside modern residential areas but none has been built emphasizing a high level of ignorance of KRG officials when it comes to the education process. </p> <p class="western"> In the Kurdistan region, almost all the projects of construction are either controlled by a certain political party or a small circle of corrupt elite politicians or those who work for them. KRG consists of 21 ministries all of which are monopolized. Likewise, presidents of universities, deans of colleges, and heads of departments and even school managers in Hawler (Erbil) and Duhok provinces are either employed by, or are members of KDP; and in Sulaimani and Halabja provinces they are mostly hired by PUK. This phenomenon is a continuation of the fifty-fifty division and mentality of the 1990s civil war. </p> <p class="western"> While KRG was supposed to be a broad-based government, all the ministers are either PUK or KDP. The later shut down the parliament in 2015 and sacked the Gorran Movement Ministers. KRG has not removed or adjusted names of those ministers that KDP has fired in order to <span><a href=";s=030000&amp;r=318&amp;p=228">mislead</a></span> international public opinion and representatives which in turn has helped consolidate their grip on power. The Gorran Movement, however, has proved to be a helpless representative of people’s votes due to their silence and passivity. </p> <p class="western"> With the growth of population in the Kurdistan region, the disorganized and unmerciful role of free market in the region dominated by slumlord politicians, and the hegemony of technological advancement, responsibilities of universities, teachers, and students have transformed. Universities are no longer a place to offer certificates as they used to be in the 1990s. </p> <p class="western"> Since 2008, graduates from humanities departments such as geography and history are not employed by the KGR. Whereas a common graduate has zero chance to get employed, relatives of elite politicians just need their connections or “wasta” to find a job. It has become a norm that sons and daughters of elite politicians occupy high ministerial posts. They do not work as teachers, for instance. Favouritism plays a major role in the employment process. Similarly, graduates from departments like Islamic Education, Sharia Law, history, geography, and Kurdish and Arabic languages have almost zero chance to get a job both in the private or public sectors. Successive KRG cabinets have failed to address the issues of favouritism and wasta in the public sector and oligarchy in the private one. </p> <p class="western"> It has become a fruitless and deceitful trend recently that public and private universities hold many of what they call “International Scientific Conferences” yearly but almost none of these conferences has been able to solve problems in KRG institutions. KRG and its academia have, for instance, failed to solve the problems of <span><a href="">water shortage</a></span> in the city of Darbandikhan while the city is located on a dam. The researchers are ignored since they either write <span><a href=";set=pcb.2358397837507385&amp;type=3&amp;theater">low</a> quality and fraudulent </span> research or do not respond to the economic and social needs. Those that are considered in touch with the local needs, since they are limited and few, don’t have their outcomes implemented practically because they obviously harm economic and political interests of high ranking officials.</p> <p class="western"> Dilshad Omer, General Director of Sulaimani’s Directorate of Education, has recently revealed that 76 people were <span><a href=";comment_tracking=%7B%22tn%22%3A%22R0%22%7D">arrested</a></span> for being responsible for the leaking of baccalaureate exam questions. The KRG Ministry of Education, after almost three decades of self-rule, has failed to <span><a href="">conduct</a></span> honest baccalaureate exams. It is noticeable that many sons and daughter of high ranking officials never attend Kurdish schools and universities but usually study abroad. Many of them also receive medical care in Europe or the US because they do not trust local medical staff and doctors underlining their total lack of trust in the <span><a href="">home-grown</a></span> skills of the people of Kurdistan. </p> <p class="western"> Currently, there are 6799 schools and 1000706 students in the Kurdistan region. 25 percent of those are completely unserviceable and should be <a href=";MapID=2">demolished</a>, 50 percent need renovation because they are unfit for use. Austerity measures threaten the live of 126 teachers of the Kurdistan region, according to information <span><a href=";MapID=2">provided by</a></span> the Kurdistan Teachers’ Union. Annual standard hours for teaching in the world are 900 hours, but in the Kurdistan region it is 500 hours due to <span><a href="">demonstrations</a></span> against salary delays and cuts, bureaucracy and national and political holidays. </p> <p class="western"> 1733 schools are in Sulaimani but a big number of those schools have two shifts and some even have three. In Sulaimani alone and apart from internal obstacles, there are 35000 internally displaced students and 5000 refugee students which require a clear educational plan. Council members of Sulaimani province <span><a href=";VideoCat=4">warn</a></span> about the possibility of not providing school supplies for those IDP and refugee students because “the Iraqi government has decided that those IDPs must return to their own cities and that they are no longer ready to provide school supplies for those students.” </p> <p class="western"> Despite logistical challenges after almost three decades of self-rule since the establishment of the Kurdish parliament, teachers are still underpaid or half-paid, favouritism is widespread, schools lack basic services like up-to-date classrooms, clean water and modern toilets, and the <span><a href="">rankings</a></span> of the Kurdistan region universities are among the lowest in the world. This systematic corruption is <span><a href="">inherited</a></span> from the Baath regime and remains unsolved. This will not change unless graduates, presidents of universities, and deans of colleges stop selling certificates and <span><a href="">give up</a></span> on offering doctorate degrees to elite politicians to satisfy unresolved childhood wishes and prove their own submissiveness. </p> <p class="western"> The role of teachers and university lecturers should not only be giving advice, conducting exams, and announcing the names of failed or successful students. Students should hope to go beyond satisfying their parents’ wishes by simply getting a degree. The attitudes of both teachers and students need to change. Adapting to change does not mean surrendering to it, it rather means being able to live with it and add to it in order to have a better society and world. </p> <p class="western"> Universities should guide graduates to find jobs and teachers should build bridges between the market and the university. Students should attempt not only to change their own lives but the lives of those around them and fight against fraud and oil lords. A good teacher cultivates as well as shapes the mentality and personality of their students in order to eradicate injustice. A good student makes use of the knowledge she has acquired. A good university directs societies to embrace pluralism and diversity, organizes people to respect the role of law and esteem their own individuality. A corrupt government will not reform when people are silent. </p> <p class="western"> The Kurdistan region of Iraq emerged from the ashes of Saddam Hussein’s dictatorship, chemical bombardment and displacement, Anfal campaigns, economic embargo, and ethnic cleansing into the 1990s civil war between KDP and PUK heading towards internal <span><a href="">corruption and nepotism</a></span>. A civil society, political pluralism, social and economic justice is impossible without a modern productive education system starting right from kindergarten. More students will quit, more fake certificates will be issued, unemployment will increase, and corruption will further paralyse both private and public sectors unless there is a <span><a href="">transparent</a></span> democratic system of governance based on the values of meritocracy and not kleptocracy. </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/darius-kamali/iraq-and-syria-of-memory-and-maps">Iraq and Syria: of memory and maps</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/north-africa-west-asia/feike-fliervoet/survival-game-post-referendum-politics-in-iraqi-kurdistan">The survival game: post-referendum politics in Iraqi Kurdistan</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/north-africa-west-asia/charles-glass/iraqi-kurdistan-fight-for-seat-at-table-of-nations">Iraqi Kurdistan: the fight for a seat at the table of nations</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/north-africa-west-asia/serhun-al/making-of-modern-kurdish-middle-east">The making of the modern Kurdish Middle East</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/north-africa-west-asia/seyed-ali-alavi/is-iraq-entering-era-of-post-sectarianism">Is Iraq entering an era of post-sectarianism?</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-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by 4.0 </div> </div> </div> North-Africa West-Asia North-Africa West-Asia Iraq corruption Education Kurdistan Aras Ahmed Mhamad Mon, 15 Oct 2018 15:00:27 +0000 Aras Ahmed Mhamad 120106 at State violence and the illusions of modernity in Egypt <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>The constant state of denial that is a feature of the urban middle class and the regime is a necessity to maintain a deeply paradoxical ideological construct.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//" alt="" title="" width="460" height="324" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>US first lady Melania Trump (L) meets with Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi and Egyptian first lady Entissar Mohameed Amer at the Presidential Palace. Picture by Egyptian Presidency/dpa/PA Images. All rights reserved. </span></span></span>Mass repression in Egypt and the use of state violence has been growing since the coup of 2013. It was inaugurated with a series of massacres committed by the Egyptian security forces against the supporters of the deposed President, Mohamed Morsi, the most infamous of which is the Rabaa massacres, where , at least, <a href="">817 protestors</a> were killed in the worst incident of state violence in modern Egyptian history. </p><p>This wave of repression would later expand to include members of all different parts of the political spectrum, including liberal, leftist and secular activists and bloggers, as well as, non-political citizens that happened to be in the wrong place and the wrong time. This has swelled the prison population to almost 60,000 political prisoners. This is coupled with <a href="">mass forced disappearances</a>, and what appears to be clear evidence of <a href=";t=383s">extra-judicial killings</a> in Sinai and the use of heavy weaponry in civilian areas, which leads to heavy casualties among the local population. </p><p>Interestingly, even though state violence has becomes a permanent feature of the lives of many Egyptians, the government and many of its urban middle class supporters have gone to considerable length to deny the existence of this phenomenon. </p><p>Those denials were not only aimed at the international community, as one would expect autocratic regimes to do, but it also includes denials targeted at the local population, mots notably the literate urban middle class, as one can distinguish by the source of the method of communication. For example, there are the<a href=""> several</a> <a href="">statements</a> made by the Egyptian Foreign Ministry in response to criticisms from the International human rights community, where it has <a href="">denied</a> the findings of the reports, as well as, criticized the objectivity of the different human rights organizations. </p><p>On the other hand, there are other statements that are made by local politicians, Parliamentarians, and members of the National Council for Human Rights that are circulated locally and are intended for domestic consumption. For example, the <a href="">stern denials issued</a> by members of Parliament, when the HRW issued a report condemning the wide spread use of torture in Egyptian prisons. This went as far, as to <a href="">claim</a> that there are no political prisoners in Egypt, and, naturally, there is not torture. </p><p>When it comes to mass disappearances, the same denials were issued, however, in a less decisive form, where there was an <a href="">acknowledgment</a> of some cases, however, it was not recognized as a mass phenomenon. There were also <a href="">claims</a> that those that have been reported as forcibly disappeared have, in fact, travelled, abroad to join ISIS and that forced disappearances phenomenon is a Muslim Brotherhood fabrication to attack the “country”. </p> <p>Thus, even though the regime is following a deliberate policy of mass repression and violence, it is going through considerable length to deny this, and to communicate to its supporters its nominal adherence to Human Rights. </p><p>This can be attributed to a number of factors that relate to the nature of the regime, the Brotherhood, the regional development and the urban middle class that intertwines to create an ideological construct that makes such denials necessary, even though the truth is in plain sight. </p><p>First, in order to gain an initial understanding, one needs to analyse the genesis of the neo-military regime currently ruling the country and its contrast with its foe, namely, the Muslim Brotherhood. In 2013, as the political crisis in Egypt was reaching its climax, the Brotherhood shifted its political discourse to the right, relying more on the support of hard-line Salafists. This shifted the<a href=";v=vzJIuGM7wOc"> rhetoric</a> of the under-siege Brotherhood towards sectarian rhetoric and clear threats of violence. This, only, reinforced an image of the Brotherhood as the harbinger of extremist violence, an image that was already firmly developed in the minds of the urban middle class, which was mixed with class based prejudices due to the rural support base of the Brotherhood, which was seen by the urban middle class as uncivilized and barbaric. </p><p>This fear was also compounded with the developments in Syria, where the rise of radical groups spawned a cycle of horrific violence, raising alarm bells in the minds of the urban middle class of the possible violence that can erupt if the Islamists, namely the Brotherhood and its increasingly vocal Salafi supporters are not kept in check.</p> <p>This opened up the way for the military to brand itself as a force of, not only stability, but modernity as well; a force that will use violence, only as necessary and as needed, in order to protect the “country” and, naturally, the urban middle class from the barbaric urban and rural poor who might push the country into the gaping mouth of social and political chaos. </p><p>In addition to that, unlike the “radical” Islamists, the military would not use violence un-necessarily, and would not take part in the killing of innocent civilians, nor will it take part in acts of public, ritualistic, violence, like the ones streaming from Syria. In essence, the military is seen as a better alternative than their Islamist opponents, due to its application of “rational” and targeted state violence, unlike the Islamists that threatened to use mass violence against their opponents. </p><p>In reality, of course, this was not the case, as the military embarked on a campaign of mass repression and violence that targeted the mass of the population. However, as one can see from the ideological construct that the military created for itself as a force of modernity, there is a constant need to deny this, rather deliberate and obvious policy, of mass repression. On the contrary, there is a need to blame the Brotherhood as the instigator of “propaganda”, whenever new reports appear that expose human rights abuses. </p> <p> Finally, one can argue that the reception of the urban middle class to these arguments stems from the nature of this class <a href="">and its genesis</a>, which allowed it to create an image of itself as the harbinger of modernity in the mindset of the barbaric masses. As such, it saw the Islamist as an existential threat to its historic civilizing mission and the military as the tool to restore the balance. It also, could not, completely, condone the use of state violence at such a mass scale. Placing it in a delicate paradox, between the need to repress the Brotherhood, without excessive violence. Thus, the need for constant denial of what is a permanent feature of Egyptian social and political life, namely, the increased intensity of indiscriminate state repression.</p> <p>One can argue that the constant state of denial that is a feature of the urban middle class and the regime is a necessity for their existence. It is needed in order to maintain an ideological construct that is deeply paradoxical, where the use of repression is deemed necessary, however, it needs to be kept out of sight. </p><p>As such, the constant exposure of human rights violations is not only needed to redress these violations, however, it is necessary since it exposes the entire ideological construct and forces the regime supporters to face their own hypocrisy. It also shows that, in fact, the violence being perpetuated by the regime is much more devastating than any imagined violence that could have been carried out by the Brotherhood. </p><p>In essence, the myth of middle class “modernity” becomes exposed, opening up the way for possible alternatives in the long struggle against the military dictatorship and its allies.</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/eman-el-sherbiny/living-double-life-behind-lies-of-womens-daily-lives-in-egyp">Living the double life: behind the lies of women&#039;s daily lives in Egypt</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/north-africa-west-asia/linda-herrera-nadim-mirshak/critical-voices-in-critical-times-peter-mayo-on-g">Critical voices in critical times: Peter Mayo on Gramsci, Egypt and critical pedagogy</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/north-africa-west-asia/mona-abaza-noha-fikry/challenges-of-fieldwork-in-egypt-changingchallenging-th">Challenges of fieldwork in Egypt: changing/challenging theoretical leanings</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/north-africa-west-asia/wael-eskandar/mo-salah-revolution-and-egypt-s-defeat">Mo Salah, the revolution and Egypt’s defeat</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/north-africa-west-asia/leila-zaki-chakravarti/president-s-wedding-micro-politics-of-mass-mobilisatio">The president’s wedding: micro-politics of mass mobilisation in Egypt’s 2018 election</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-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by 4.0 </div> </div> </div> North-Africa West-Asia North-Africa West-Asia Egypt Maged Mandour Mon, 15 Oct 2018 14:00:55 +0000 Maged Mandour 119970 at Morocco: military service and education reform promise more repression <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>The reinstatement of compulsory military service in this context of growing tensions is meant to be used for social control.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//" alt="" title="" width="460" height="301" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Morocco's King Mohammed VI attends a reception in honor of young students, during presentation of the progress report on Supporting Schooling, at the Royal Palace in Rabat, Morocco on September 17, 2018. Picture by Balkis Press/ABACA/ABACA/PA Images. All rights reserved. </span></span></span>Chaired by the king, the council of ministers enacted a controversial <a href=""><span>bill </span></a>on mandatory military service on August 20. The bill targets young citizens aged 19 to 25 and deemed fit to serve, triggering debate about the issue on social media. Critical voices expressed their worry and suspicion of what lays behind. The “Moroccan Rally Against Mandatory Military Service”, a Facebook group gathering thousands of young Moroccans, released a <a href=";theater"><span>statement </span></a>August 28 signed by a number of civil society organisations and activists, announcing their disapproval over the draft bill. <a href=""><span>The Democratic way party</span></a>, the <a href=""><span>Youth of the Democratic Way </span></a>and the <a href=""><span>Youth of the Socialist Democratic Vanguard </span></a>also released statements denouncing the bill. </p><p>A <a href=""><span>statement </span></a>by the Royal Cabinet stated that “military service aims to promote patriotism among the young, within the framework of the correlation between the rights and responsibilities of citizenship”. In a televised speech to the Nation last November, the king had emphasized “the ideals of true patriotism”, “the spirit of loyalty to the nation’s sacred values” and “sacrifice to the homeland”, where he also expressed his unequivocal support for “the Royal Armed Forces” and “security services,” and his appreciation of “their action, sacrifice and constant mobilization,” and again on the following speech on Throne Day last July in which he commended the “Royal Armed Forces, the Royal Gendarmerie, the Auxiliary Forces, the National Security Forces and the Emergency Services on being constantly mobilized, under [his] leadership, to defend the nation’s unity and safeguard its security and stability”.</p> <p>The palace's praise for the Royal Armed Forces and security services comes after a vast crackdown on popular mass protests, which reverberated across the Rif and other regions over the last couple of years. These movements have faced mass arrests of young leaders and heavy sentences for their participation in the protests.<a href=""> </a><a href=""><span>Hirak leaders were accused of undermining </span></a>state stability and<a href=""> </a><a href=""><span>its territorial integrity</span></a>, thus<a href=""> </a><a href=""><span>ignoring the police’s brutal handling of the protests</span></a> and the allegations of torture supported by forensic doctors’ reports. One could only conclude a will to make clear the repressive approach with which any social contestation will be dealt with.</p> <h3><strong>Education, international financial institutions and social security</strong></h3> <p>In parallel to the bill on Mandatory Military Service, the council of ministers approved a draft law on education, adopting “a new governance model based on contractualization”, “the integration of pre-school education”, a new “funding regime of the educational, training and scientific research system” and the “establishment of evaluation and monitoring mechanisms” according to the statement by the Royal Cabinet.</p> <p>Such educational reforms have been discussed on several occasions. Following the Council of Ministers, the king delivered a <a href=""><span>televised speech </span></a>where he criticized how the “education system [continues] to produce unemployed people, especially in certain branches of study, where graduates - as everyone knows - find it extremely hard to access the job market” while “many investors and businesses are having difficulty finding the skilled resources they need in a number of trades and specialized sectors”.</p> <p>The incompatibility of the educational system with market needs has disturbed not only the Palace but also international financial institutions; A World Bank document entitled<a href=""> </a><a href=""><span>‘World Bank engagement in the Education sector in Morocco’</span></a> outlining the institution’s financial and consultative involvement in reforms of the sector has called for the “adaptability of education” and an “overhaul of the education system” through almost the same measures mentioned by the royal statement, These include improving “teacher recruitment and training”, a new “governance structure”, giving priority to “early childhood development”, “private sector participation” and “linking education and accountability”.</p> <p>Since the introduction of structural adjustment programs in the 1980's the Moroccan state has embarked in a process of economic reforms dictated by international financial institutions, particularly the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank. These reforms focused mainly on promoting growth by imposing policies of monetary and fiscal austerity, privatisation and financial liberalisation. On the other hand, social provisions and social safety nets that are perquisites for successful economic reform and political stability are undermined by these same policies.</p> <p>An internal World Bank report entitled ‘<a href=""><span>The Effect of IMF and World Bank Programs on Poverty</span></a>’ concluded that “Adjustment lending is bad news for the growing economy; it means that the poor share less in the expansion of the economy” and that “lowering the sensitivity of poverty to the aggregate growth rate could be dangerous because it gives the poor less of a stake in overall good economic performance”.</p> <p>The ruling elite in Morocco seems to be more accountable to the country’s debtors and less to its people. Hence, the given solutions to the country’s challenges seem to only find an echo within the above mentioned financial institutions. Green growth agendas, private sector-led competitiveness and global integration are flattering the debtors which applaud the country’s macroeconomic improvements. At the same time, the government is constantly reminded it of its commitment to implement more structural reforms in education and to improve the business environment, even if it means feeding the wealth gap and threatening social security. What matters at the end of the day is that it benefits the donors’ neo-colonialist exploitation of the country’s resources and that the money keeps flowing.</p> <h3><strong>Throwback to the 1960s</strong></h3> <p>The first years of Hassan II’s reign were those of political instability and strong opposition to the despotic tendencies of the previous monarch. After announcing educational reforms which prevented students above the age of 17 from attending high school, student unrest escalated in different cities. In Casablanca, <a href=";lpg=PP1&amp;pg=PA168&amp;redir_esc=y#v=onepage&amp;q&amp;f=false"><span>a student-organised</span></a> protest devolved into three days of street battles on March 1965. Involving, in addition to students, thousands of workers laid off during the 1964 economic recession, as well as inhabitants of Casablanca’s shanty towns. The palace reaction by deploying the military, and using live ammunition against unarmed civilians, resulted in hundreds of deaths. The former king then vented his anger on the educated youth, declaring in a televised speech: "Allow me to tell you that there is no greater danger to the State than a so-called intellectual. It would have been better if you were all illiterate”.</p> <p>A mandatory military service was established the following year, and was widely used against political opponents as a means of punishment. Students of the executive committee of the 10th congress of the National Union of Moroccan Students were <a href=";pg=PA142&amp;dq=service+militaire+obligatoire+Maroc+1966&amp;hl=fr&amp;sa=X&amp;ved=0ahUKEwjalaqo7Y_dAhVMFywKHeV8Cn4Q6AEIKjAB#v=onepage&amp;q=service%20militaire%20obligatoire%20Maroc%201966&amp;f=false"><span>drafted</span></a>, as well as those who organised the occupation of the Moroccan Embassy in Paris in solidarity with them.</p> <h3><strong>Running short of solutions?</strong></h3> <p>The high percentage of unemployment amongst university graduates in the country is a source of worry for the Palace. Another point of contention is the high drop-out rates in secondary schools, a result of a growing disappointment amongst young Moroccans who no longer see education as a guarantee of future employment. Unemployment among youth has not been addressed seriously and remains high at about 20%. The outcome of this state of affairs could prove costly for the relative political stability enjoyed by the regime, as the recent tensions in the Rif and elsewhere have demonstrated. </p> <p>Military service has once proved efficient in repressing the spirit of rebellion and assimilating dissatisfaction and anger among the young. Since the recruits are cut off from their society in a ‘total institution’, where they are subjected to a fully administered round of life. The process is basically one of acculturation during which the trainee experience physical and psychological stress and enforced environmental change, and must adapt to different social norms of military discipline and unquestioned obedience that are fostered in the course of military training and reinforced by the structure of the military authority.</p> <p>The reinstatement of compulsory military service in this context of growing social tension while maintaining the same economic and social policies that caused it, the repressive approach towards social movements, the unconditional praise of the military and security services and the fact that the professional army isn’t practically in need of any reserves are sufficient to conclude that it is meant to be used for social control, and could even mean a coming back of the military to the scene, to bring back order in future escalations of social unrest.</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/kheira-tarif/violence-in-moroccan-universities-problem-worth-addressing">Violence in Moroccan universities: a problem worth addressing</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/north-africa-west-asia/christoph-h-schwarz/moroccos-social-protests-across-time-and-space">Morocco&#039;s social protests across time and space</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/north-africa-west-asia/hassan-masiky/morocco-time-for-self-assessment-in-palace">Morocco: time for self assessment in the Palace</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/north-africa-west-asia/mayssae-ajzannay-ben-moussa/morocco-popular-movement-in-rif-suppressed">Morocco: the popular movement in the Rif suppressed</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"> Morocco </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 4.0 </div> </div> </div> North-Africa West-Asia North-Africa West-Asia Morocco military Education Elias Terrass Sat, 13 Oct 2018 06:01:53 +0000 Elias Terrass 119976 at The West’s approach to Saudi Arabia: ‘one step forward, two steps back’ <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Western powers are actively enabling the very human rights violations they seek to expose.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//" alt="" title="" width="460" height="293" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Foreign Minister of Saudi-Arabia, Adel al-Jubeir at a press conference after talks in the German Foreign Ministry in Berlin, Germany, 25 May 2016. Picture by Bernd von Jutrczenka/DPA/PA Images. All rights reserved. </span></span></span>Saudi Arabia entered the 73rd session of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) in a combative manner. The Kingdom’s delegation did not arrive as representatives of a reformed country, despite over a year of aggressive rebranding efforts. Instead, Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir and his colleagues took to the podium in the face of strained relationships with Germany and Canada, and a U.N. inquiry into war crimes in Yemen. </p><p>Last November, Germany’s then-foreign minister Sigmar Gabriel <a href="">condemned</a> Saudi adventurism in the Middle East. His ‘shameful’ comments —as Riyadh described them— came following the snap resignation of Lebanese PM Saad Hariri, who suspiciously announced his decision during a visit to the Kingdom. Saudi Arabia hastily recalled its ambassador in Berlin. Months later, economic ties were <a href="">curtailed</a>, and remained so going into UNGA. </p><p>Just as asymmetric was the reaction to Canada’s support of Saudi activists. When Global Affairs Canada <a href="">tweeted</a> messages of solidarity with detained Women’s Rights advocate Samar Badawi, the Saudi Foreign Ministry issued an excoriating <a href="">response</a>, slamming attempts to ‘interfere’ with the Kingdom’s internal affairs. A slew of reprisal measures followed, including an ambassadorial recall, the cancellation of flights to and from Canada, and an ultimatum for Saudi students at Canadian universities to return home. A pro-Saudi handle on Twitter went so far as to insinuate <a href="">9/11-esque attacks</a> on Toronto. Such was the backdrop over which Saudi and Canadian delegates met at UNGA. </p><p>Of utmost importance, however, was Saudi Arabia stymieing a U.N. inquiry into human rights violations in the ongoing war in Yemen. The lives of thousands of Yemeni civilians have been rendered collateral damage in the Saudi-led coalition’s fight against Houthis. Most searing in memory is an airstrike on a school bus in early August that killed over 40 children. Any sound investigation would find the coalition guilty of war crimes. No wonder, then, that Riyadh strove so aggressively to prevent one: <a href="">a diplomatic letter</a> issued ahead of UNGA ominously warned that any support of investigations would ‘negatively affect’ trade with Saudi Arabia.</p> <p>Going into UNGA, the Kingdom’s record was far from spotless. Saudi diplomats, however, defended recent reactions towards western ‘meddling,’ and clearly did not hesitate to threaten countries in favour of greater U.N. scrutiny over Yemen. How did the West respond to such pressure?</p> <h3>‘<strong>A </strong><strong>s</strong><strong>imple </strong><strong>m</strong><strong>isunderstanding’ </strong> </h3> <p>German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas <a href="">expressed regret</a> at UNGA for Berlin’s row with Riyadh, attributing the rift to ‘misunderstandings’. Pro-Saudi ‘electronic flies’ were quick to comment on social media, advancing an Arabic <a href=";src=tyah&amp;lang=en">hashtag</a> reading, ‘Germany apologises to Saudi Arabia’. Maas was purportedly ‘egged on’ by German industry that was hurt by Saudi Arabia’s retaliations.</p> <p>Germany’s rapprochement with Saudi Arabia came at the expense of western ally, Canada. Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland <a href="">appealed</a> to a gathering of German ambassadors in late August, ‘hoping for support’ in defending Human Rights regardless of ‘consequences’. Yet Ottawa’s call for support was largely unanswered by Berlin at UNGA. </p> <h3><strong>Freeland, and Canada, stand firm</strong>&nbsp; </h3><p>Freeland, to her credit, rose above Germany’s fecklessness. The Canadian Foreign Minister <a href="">made clear</a> her country’s ‘particular obligation’ to women fighting for their rights. She also emphasised a commitment to those with ‘a personal connection to Canada’ —a reference to Samar Badawi, whose sister-in-law <a href="">Ensaf Haidar</a> is a Canadian citizen.&nbsp; </p><p>Saudi Arabia expectedly shot back. In a speech to the Council on Foreign Relations, Al-Jubeir deemed Canada’s ‘lecturing’ tantamount to treating the Kingdom as a ‘<a href="">banana republic</a>’. But in a show of mercy to his Canadian counterpart, he added, “It’s very easy to fix. Apologize and say you made a mistake.” Freeland refused, asserting that giving in to such a demand would ‘strip Canada of its humanity’.</p><p>Canadian policy has yet to reflect such resilience, however. A prime and effective punishment against the Saudi regime would be curtailing arm sales. Save for the <a href="">scaling-back</a> of an order of armoured vehicles from 928 to 742 —initiated before the diplomatic spat over concerns unrelated to human rights— Canada’s arm sales have carried on as normal. Critics have called for the deal to be totally scrapped in light of Riyadh’s aggression. Only time will tell whether Freeland and her government will match rhetoric with concrete action. </p><h3><strong>Western hypocrisy over the U.N. inquiry on Yemen</strong></h3> <p>The vote to extend the U.N. investigation on Yemen presented a clear example of the West’s ‘one step forward, two steps back’ manner of dealing with Saudi Arabia. Despite Saudi threats to cut off trade with countries in favour of prolonging the inquiry, the motion <a href="">passed</a> with votes from Canada and the EU. And in an interview with Sky News, UK Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt <a href="">deemed</a> Saudi behaviour in Yemen as ‘totally unacceptable’. He emphasised the need for a political process to resolve the conflict, as opposed to the Saudi-led coalition’s ‘military solution’. </p> <p>Such support, however, belies established western policy towards Saudi Arabia, specifically in the realm of defence. Minutes after Hunt criticised Saudi excess in Yemen —inevitably perpetrated, in part, by British jets and bombs—, he staunchly <a href="">defended</a> the £4.6bn in U.K. arms licensed to the Kingdom since 2015. Never mind that <a href="">63 percent</a> of British citizens are opposed to arming Saudi Arabia; as justification, Hunt cited the ‘bombs that have not gone off in the streets of Britain’ thanks to Saudi counter-intelligence. “We’re different countries. We behave in different ways”, he added. </p><p>Hunt’s German peers similarly embodied this contradictory stance. Days after UNGA concluded, news broke that Chancellor Angela Merkel had <a href="">doubled</a> arm sales to Saudi Arabia. This not only goes against Germany’s support of the inquiry, but broke a promise that Merkel’s governing coalition made earlier this year to withhold weapons from all combatants in Yemen’s war —a proposition that <a href="">80 percent</a> of Germans supported. And Spain, who had previously canceled a sale of 400 laser-guided bombs to the Kingdom, <a href="">reneged</a> ahead of UNGA. In towing this hypocritical line, western powers are actively enabling the very human rights violations they seek to expose. </p><h3><strong>A moral crossroads and the path forward</strong></h3> <p>The West must make up its mind on Saudi Arabia. Germany, Canada, Britain, Spain, and others cannot continue to give lip service to human rights in international forums while arm sales to a known war criminal skyrocket. Ending, or at least limiting, arm sales not only respects the view of a majority of Westerners, but is morally correct. Yemen stands as one of the greatest humanitarian crises of our time. As German arm sales to the Kingdom have doubled, cases of cholera in the Hodeidah region of Yemen have <a href="">tripled</a>. Save the Children estimates that more than five million children face <a href="">starvation</a>. To suggest that depriving the Saudi-led coalition the weapons it employs in Yemen would not help alleviate the suffering of Yemeni people is erroneous. </p> <p>Nevertheless, even in the face of public opinion and sobering statistics, the West has proved intransigent. A more direct, grass-roots opposition is needed. Concerned individuals should make more noise on social media: a veritable beachhead against arm sales has sprung up under the hashtags <a href="">#StopArmingSaudi</a> and <a href="">#YemenCantWait</a>. Organisations such as the U.K.-based <a href="">Campaign Against Arms Trade</a> and <a href="">ACAT France</a> are at the forefront of this movement, along with activists like <a href="">Sam Walton</a> and <a href="">Andrew Smith</a>. And, for an MP, reading a letter or tweet from a constituent is far more influential than another academic report. As these voices grow louder, it will be incumbent on their respectives to respond. Until that day comes, the stereotype of the U.N. as a place of empty rhetoric prevails.</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/wretched-third-anniversary-of-international-intervention-in-yem">Wretched third anniversary of international intervention in Yemen: the Saudi-led coalition and humanitarian disaster. Part 2</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/north-africa-west-asia/stephen-mccloskey/western-complicity-yemen-humanitarian-crisis-famine-saudi-arabia-UK-France-USA">Western complicity is fuelling Yemen’s humanitarian crisis</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/marijn-nieuwenhuis/gassing-and-selective-applications-of-red-line-lest-we-forget">Gassing and selective applications of a ‘Red Line’: lest we forget</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/north-africa-west-asia/alain-gabon/saudi-arabia-s-crown-prince-mohammad-bin-salman-threat-not-reform">Not a Saudi ‘Arab spring’: Mohammad Bin Salman, a threat not a reformer [Part 2]</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"> Saudi Arabia </div> <div class="field-item even"> Yemen </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 4.0 </div> </div> </div> North-Africa West-Asia North-Africa West-Asia Saudi Arabia Yemen war human rights Sarah Al-Otaibi Thu, 11 Oct 2018 16:45:43 +0000 Sarah Al-Otaibi 120014 at اليسار العربي بين الحرية والتسلط <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p dir="rtl"> لازالت لفكرة اليسار راهنية وأهمية. لكن عن أي يسار نتحدث؟</p> </div> </div> </div> <p dir="rtl"><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//" alt="" title="" width="460" height="259" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>A large poster in the city of Rastan shows Bashar al-Assad and Vladimir Putin as allies. Picture by Friedemann Kohler/DPA/PA Images. All rights reserved. </span></span></span>كانت ومازالت الفكرة اليسارية تُعبر عن وجهة نظر نبيلة تهدف إلى خلاص الإنسانية من الظلم الاقتصادي والاستبداد السياسي، ولعل راهنيتها لازالت قائمة، بالنظر إلى المشاكل التي يتخبط بها العالم العربي، من تفشي الاستبداد واللامساواة، في ظل هيمنة اقتصاد هجين ذو طابع نيو-ليبرالي مُتحَكّم فيه من طرف دوائر الحكم والمتنفذين.</p><p dir="rtl">وكجل أقطار العالم، نمت في المنطقة العربية حركات يسارية (قومية، اشتراكية، ماركسية) منذ أواسط عشرينيات القرن الماضي. أخذت هذه الحركات على عاتقها مسؤولية تحرير البلاد من المستعمر. بعد الاستقلال صعد البعض منها إلى الحُكم، وكَوّن "جمهوريات" سلطوية سيطرت عليها صورة الزعيم الوطني الثوري. فيما استمر الجزء الآخر – وهو الأغلبية – في النضال ضد الأنظمة القائمة حينها.</p><p dir="rtl">لا ينكر أحد دور اليسار العربي والعالمي في النضال من أجل الكرامة والانعتاق والعدالة الاجتماعية. إلا أن ذلك لا يمنع من نقد التوجهات السلطوية داخل التيار الاشتراكي بكل اتجاهاته. ولا يمنع كذلك من طرح الأسئلة الآتية: هل يسارنا العربي مؤمن بالحرية؟ وما هو "شكل" الديمقراطية التي يناضل من أجلها؟ هل هي الديمقراطية التعددية التي تضم جل الفرقاء من ليبراليين وإسلاميين معتدلين وقوميين واشتراكيين وشيوعيين...؟ أم "ديمقراطية" على المقاس يهيمن عليها حزب وحيد أو مجموعة من الأحزاب بمعزل عن الهيئات الممثلة في الساحة السياسية.<br /> <br /> ومن أجل عدم السقوط في التعميم، لابد من توضيح مهم: ليست كل المجموعات اليسارية تتبنى المنطق السلطوي الرافض للتعددية والمضاد لفكرة الحرية. لكن نادراً ما يكون ذلك، خصوصا وأن الاتجاه التحكمي (Authoritarianism) توغل بقوة داخل الحركة الاشتراكية العربية، وذلك عائد لعوامل عدة ليست موضوع هذا المقال.</p><h3 dir="rtl"><strong> </strong><strong>الحرية والديمقراطية التعددية، </strong><strong>"</strong><strong>بدعة</strong><strong>" </strong><strong>ليبرالية</strong><strong>!&nbsp;</strong></h3><p dir="rtl">ترى بعض الفصائل اليسارية في الحريات المدنية والسياسية التي تقضي بالقبول بالديمقراطية التعددية مجرد "بدعة" اختلقها الليبراليون قصد السيطرة والتحكم في اللعبة السياسية. وبالتالي فهي عائق أمام "سلطة الشعب" الحقيقية التي تتجاوز الهيئات المُمثلة. إذ أن "الحريات البورجوازية" لا تعني في شيء الطبقات الشعبية المتضررة من السياسات المتوحشة التي تنهجها الرأسمالية، ولذلك لا فائدة منها. يعتقد هذا الاتجاه أن الديمقراطية الاقتصادية المتجلية في اقتصاد اشتراكي قائم على الملكية العامة لوسائل الإنتاج الوسيلة الوحيدة الكفيلة بتحقيق التقدم والتنمية للشعب، وأن الديمقراطية التعددية المتعارف عليها ما هي إلا مرحلة من مراحل التطور، تنتهي حينما تستولي "قوى الشعب المنتجة" على السلطة. وبذلك فإنها تكتيك وليست استراتيجية. <br /> وفي واقع الأمر، لا يمكن فصل الديمقراطية الاقتصادية عن الديمقراطية السياسية، لأن التجربة أثبتت أنه من المستحيل تحقيق التنمية والحرية في نفس الآن من دونهما معا (الديمقراطية الاقتصادية والسياسية). فما فائدة العدالة الاجتماعية في ظل جو يتسم بالقمع والاضطهاد وهيمنة مكون واحد ووحيد على مناحي الحياة السياسية والثقافية والاجتماعية؟ وما الجدوى كذلك من ديمقراطية سياسية تعددية في غياب العدالة الاجتماعية واتساع الفوارق الطبقية بين أبناء المجتمع الواحد؟<br /> <br /> هذه الإشكالية لا تنحصر لدى بعض أطراف اليسار فقط، بل تمتد كذلك إلى بعض التيارات الإسلامية التي تُلخص الديمقراطية في صناديق الاقتراع. فالأخيرة ترى بأن أغلب شعوب المنطقة أصبحت تميل مؤخرا للتيار الديني، وبذلك فهي تضمن الفوز في الانتخابات والهيمنة على المشهد السياسي. وبالتالي السير نحو "أسلمة" الدولة ومؤسساتها بواسطة الديمقراطية التمثيلية.&nbsp; وكذلك الحال بالنسبة لبعض المنتسبين إلى التيار الليبرالي الذين يرون أن الشعب لم ينضج بعد للديمقراطية، وبذلك يجب المحافظة على الأنظمة القائمة لمواجهة "جهل" الشعب. وهذا طبعا ضد الفكرة الليبرالية القائمة على حكم الشعب وحريته. <br /><span class="direction-rtl"> </span></p><h3 class="direction-rtl"><strong>اليسار </strong><strong>"</strong><strong>الديمقراطي</strong><strong>" </strong><strong>يدافع عن الأسد وستالين</strong><strong></strong></h3><p dir="rtl"> ليس غريباً أن تجد بعض الأحزاب الاشتراكية تُقر في مقرراتها التنظيمية، وفي وثائق مؤتمراتها بمبادئ الحرية والديمقراطية وحقوق الإنسان، وفي نفس الآن تدافع عن نظام مجرم ودموي كنظام بشار الأسد المتنكر لكل المبادئ الإنسانية.كما نجد أن الهيئات نفسها تمجد الزعيم السوفييتي ستالين الذي قضى خلال حكمه ملايين المواطنين السوفييت. والأمر نفسه يتكرر بالنسبة لماو تسي تونغ زعيم الثورة الصينية.<br /> <br /> تدعم هذه الهيئات التي تحدثنا عنها نظام بشار الأسد لعدة أسباب نذكر البعض منها: السبب الأول يتمحور حول كون الأخير (الأسد) يقود حكومة "علمانية اشتراكية" مناهضة للإسلاميين ومحافظة على "تقدمية" الدولة. أما السبب الثاني فهو "ممانعة" نظام الأسد ومناهضته للإمبريالية الغربية. وكأن روسيا المتحالفة مع نظام الأسد ليست بإمبريالية! السبب الثالث يتمحور حول نظرة وتقييم هذه الحركات للثورة السورية. فالأخيرة بالنسبة لهم ماهي إلا مؤامرة استخباراتية، وصنيعة أورو-أمريكية ترمي إلى تفتيت وحدة الشعب السوري المقاوم.<br /> <br /> تُذكرنا هذه التبريرات المستعملة من بعض اليساريين الموالين لنظام الأسد بما كان ولازال يتحجج به بعض اليساريين والليبراليين[1] المؤيدين للانقلاب العسكري في مصر بقيادة عبد الفتاح السيسي في مطلع سنة 2013. وعلى سبيل المثال لا الحصر، فقد أيد الكثير منهم مذبحة رابعة العدوية وطبل لصعود حكم العسكر. وذلك بداعي محاربة الإخوان المسلمين، متناسين أن الطابع الإنساني يتجاوز كل ما هو فكري/أيديولوجي.<br /> <br /> "قاهر النازية"، "حوّل روسيا من دولة فلاحية متخلفة إلى أحد أقوى الدول الصناعية"، "حافظ على النهج الماركسي اللينيني الصحيح"... هذه بعض العبارات التي تُردد دوماً على لسان أتباع اليسار الستاليني دفاعا عن أيديولوجيتهم وزعيمهم جوزيف ستالين (1878- 1953) المعروف بنزعته الإجرامية والتسلطية. اتسمت فترة حكم الأخير بقمع شديد راح ضحيته ملايين من المواطنين السوفيات[2]، ولم يستثن من ذلك رفاقه الثوريين الفاعلين في الثورة البلشفية التي تغنى بها (ستالين) وادعى الدفاع عن مثلها العليا. يتساءل المرء هنا: كيف لهؤلاء اليساريين "الديمقراطيين" أن يدمجوا بين أمرين متناقضين؟ وهما مناهضة أنظمة الحكم الاستبدادية في بلدانهم، والنضال ضدها من أجل إحقاق "الديمقراطية"، وفي نفس الآن الإيمان بأيديولوجية شمولية تنبع من فكرة استبدادية خالصة. هل يعني ذلك أننا سنستبدل استبداداً متخلفاً باستبداد "ثوري"؟<br /> <br /> كما قيل في البداية لازالت لفكرة اليسار راهنية وأهمية. لكن عن أي يسار نتحدث؟ هل عن يسار ستالين الذي اغتال قيمة الحرية، وحارب كل المفكرين الثوريين الذين نادوا <a>بتغليب الحرية</a> قيمة إنسانية عليا على كل القيم الاشتراكية الأخرى مهما كان نبلها، أم عن <a href="">يسارٍ تحرري</a> يبني نفسه من تحت، من حياة الناس العاديين ومن همومهم ومشاكلهم، لا من فوق، من أحزاب وبنى دولتية تفرض نفسها على الناس، يسار لا يستند إلى حمولات فكرية وأيديولوجية جامدة، تُقدم المصلحة الايديولوجية على القيم الإنسانية؟ </p><p dir="rtl">[1] نَذكر هنا على سبيل المثال موقف المفكرة النسوية-اليسارية نوال السعداوي في حكم السيسي. ففي آخر <a href="">مقابلة</a> لها مع قناة البي بي سي، اعتبرت أن "الاعلام الغربي لا ينقل الحقيقة عن مصر، وإنما ينقل ما يريد عنها" مضيفة أن هذا الإعلام "لديه شيء انتقامي غريب جدا من السياسة المصرية، ومن الرئيس عبد الفتاح السيسي" معربة عن إعجابها بسياسات الأخير، وذلك جواباً على سؤال المذيعة التي تساءلت عن وضعية الحريات في مصر، وعن سبب عدم انتقاد نوال السعداوي للسيسي. <br /> <br /> [2] بحسب بعض السجلات الرسمية التي نُشرت بعد انهيار الاتحاد السوفياتي فإن أكثر من سبعة مائة ألف حالة إعدام نفذت في عهد ستالين. ونحو أكثر من مليون ونصف قضوا نحبهم في معتقلات الغولاغ. أضف إلى ذلك ضحايا المجاعات ( مجاعة أوكرانيا 1932-1933 كمثال)، إلخ... مع أن عدد كبير من المؤرخين شككوا في دقة السجلات، وقدروا عدد ضحايا سياسات ستالين بعشرات الملايين.</p><div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by 4.0 </div> </div> </div> North-Africa West-Asia North-Africa West-Asia عبد اللطيف الحماموشي Arabic language Thu, 11 Oct 2018 08:25:36 +0000 عبد اللطيف الحماموشي 119973 at إدارة أزمة الهجرة في المتوسط: مراكز اعتقال عوضاً عن سياسات الإغاثة والإنقاذ <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>مع تواصل تدفق آلاف المهاجرين عبر المتوسط &nbsp;نحو أوروبا، وتعثر عمليات الإنقاذ والإغاثة، تلجأ أوروبا إلى سياسة تصدير الأزمة.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p dir="rtl"><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//" alt="" title="" width="460" height="307" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Photo by Guillaume Pinon/NurPhoto/SIPA USA/PA Images. All rights reserved. </span></span></span>يواصل آلاف الرجال والنساء والأطفال عبور البحر الأبيض المتوسط هرباً من الفقر والاضطهاد والصراعات في بلدانهم الأصلية، وبحثاً عن حماية أو حياة أفضل في أوروبا. خلال العام الجاري، لقي أكثر من<a href=""> 1600 شخص</a> حتفهم غرقاً خلال عبورهم المتوسط. وتقول<a href=""> تقارير</a> أيضاً أن عدد الوافدين إلى أوروبا انخفض مقارنةً بالعام الماضي، لكن عدد الوفيات ارتفع في المقابل لأن <a href="">الرحلات</a> أصبحت أكثر خطورة. وحذّرت المفوضية العليا لشؤون اللاجئين التابعة للأمم المتحدة أن المهاجرين وطالبي اللجوء الذين يعبرون البحر المتوسط يواجهون الآن<a href=""> مخاطر أكثر من أي وقت مضى</a>، حيث <a href="">&nbsp;ارتفع معدل</a> الغرق أو الفقدان من شخص واحد من بين 42 شخصاً في أيلول/سبتمبر 2017 إلى 5 أشخاص من بين كل 42 شخصاً في أيلول/سبتمبر 2018، ويرجع ذلك إلى أن المهربين أصبحوا يأخذون مخاطر أكبر من أجل تفادي خفر السواحل ببلدان العبور.</p><p dir="rtl">&nbsp;وعمليات الإنقاذ التي قامت بها سفن مثل سفينة ''<a href="">اكواريوس</a> 2''، التابعة لمنظمة أطباء بلا حدود البلجيكية ومنظمة ''<a href="">اس او اس المتوسط</a>'' الفرنسية، كانت قد ساهمت في إنقاذ ما يقارب 30 ألف مهاجر خلال عمليات إجلاء سفن وإغاثة، قام بها فريق مكون من أطباء ومنقذين وسباحين وطاقم طبي. وأدت عمليات إغاثة اللاجئين وإيصالهم إلى الضفة الأوروبية من المتوسط إلى جدل شعبي واسع أدى إلى المزيد من السياسات المناهضة للهجرة واللجوء على المستوى الأوروبي. كما أثرت المناورات السياسية على عمل سفينة اكواريوس تدريجياً إلى أن<a href=""> فقدت إمكانية الإبحار في المتوسط</a> وتسيير عمليات الإنقاذ والإجلاء في البحر. لكن بدل الإلتزام بإنقاذ العالقين بالبحر، تغلق أوروبا أعينها الآن أمام هذه التراجيديا مواصلةً تصدير الأزمة من حيث تأتي: دول جنوب المتوسط وخاصة دول شمال إفريقيا.</p><p dir="rtl">&nbsp;ففي إطار<a href=""> مناقشة أعضائه لسياسات الإدارة المشتركة للهجرة</a>، يدرس الاتحاد الأوروبي مجدداً فكرة إنشاء منصات إنزال اللاجئين خارج حدوده من أجل عملية ''فرز'' للوافدين قبل وصولهم إلى أراضيه، على أن تحتضن بلدان مثل تونس، ومصر أو المغرب مراكز &nbsp;تشرف تحت رقابته على دراسة طلبات اللجوء إلى أوروبا، مع تشديد العمليات الأمنية والعسكرية من أجل شل حركة الهجرة غير النظامية في المتوسط.</p><p dir="rtl"><strong>اللجوء ''حق'' ليس للجميع</strong></p><p dir="rtl">يعرّف الإتحاد الأوروبي<a href=""> منصات الإنزال</a> على أنها مجموعة من الترتيبات التي تهدف إلى توفير نزول سريع وآمن على جانبيّ البحر المتوسط للأشخاص الذين تم إنقاذهم، بما يتماشى مع القانون الدولي، مع احترام &nbsp;مبدأ عدم الإعادة القسرية وعملية ما بعد الإنزال المسؤولة. تعمل هذه المنصات بالتوافق مع المراكز الخاضعة للرقابة من أجل ضمان مسؤولية إقليمية مشتركة لمجابهة تحديات الهجرة المعقدة.</p><p dir="rtl">تتم عملية الإنزال في بلد ثالث (ويقصد هنا بلدان جنوب المتوسط) إذا تمت عملية البحث والإنقاذ في المياه الإقليمية التابعة لذلك البلد من قبل خفر السواحل التابع له أو من قبل سفن أخرى تابعة لدولة ثالثة. أما إذا تمت عمليات &nbsp;البحث والإنقاذ في المياه الدولية ومن قبل سفينة تحمل علم إحدى دول الإتحاد الأوروبي، فأيضاً من الممكن أن تحدث عملية الإنزال في البلد الثالث شريطة احترام مبدأ عدم الإعادة القسرية.</p><p dir="rtl">ولكن هذه المنصات/الترتيبات التي تأمل الدول الأعضاء إقامتها خارج حدود الاتحاد الأوروبي ستقوم بعملية الفرز والاختيار، بمعنى آخر، سيتم ترشيح المهاجرين الذين لهم حظوظاً أوفر للحصول على لجوء بالاتحاد الأوروبي ورفض الباقين. </p><p dir="rtl">وقد ولد مصطلح منصات الإنزال في الألفية الجديدة، إلا أنه قد ظل هلامياً غير واضح المعالم ومثيراً للجدل خاصة في أوساط المجتمع المدني التي ترى أن إنشاء هذه المنصات/المراكز في دول غير مستقرة سيسهل الصفقات مع أنظمة ديكتاتورية لا تحترم حقوق الإنسان وتغمض أعينها أمام إنتهاكات ضد المهاجرين العابرين أو المقيمين في بلدانها، إلى جانب العديد من الأسئلة الاخلاقية والقانونية المتعلقة بالإدارة اليومية لهذه المراكز وظروف العيش فيها وخاصة من يقرر من له حق اللجوء ومن عليه الرجوع إلى بلده بغض النظر عن الصعوبات الاجتماعية والاقتصادية والأمنية في بلدانهم الأم.</p><p dir="rtl"><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="// Disembarkation Platforms in the Mediterranean (1).png" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title="منصات الإنزال"><img src="// Disembarkation Platforms in the Mediterranean (1).png" alt="" title="منصات الإنزال" width="460" height="293" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>خريطة توضح عملية الإنقاذ ودور منصات الإنزال. المصدر: الإتحاد الأوروبي</span></span></span></p><p>يقول &nbsp;قادة الاتحاد الأوروبي أنهم يريدون &nbsp;تطبيق سياسات إنسانية بالتعاون مع منظمات الإغاثة والهجرة على غرار مفوضية الأمم المتحدة السامية لشؤون اللاجئين والمنظمة الدولية للهجرة، والهدف هو ثني المهاجرين عن عبور البحر المتوسط، في ظل ظروف تؤدي أحياناً إلى الغرق والموت. لكن عملياً ما تريده أوروبا حقيقةً، هو التملص من إدارة حدودها وتصدير أزمتها إلى دول جنوب المتوسط. ولن يسمح إلا لحاملي أوراق لجوء رسمية مواصلة الرحلة. وبالطبع، يرغب الاتحاد الأوروبي بإغاثة المهاجرين القادمين من دول الحروب والصراعات الداخلية، على حساب المهاجرين لأسباب اقتصادية، وخاصة مواطني شمال إفريقيا وبعض الدول الإفريقية الأخرى التي تصنف على أنها ''آمنة''.</p><p dir="rtl"><strong>سياسات أوروبية على أراضي إفريقية</strong></p><p dir="rtl">تشبه &nbsp;منصات الإنزال إلى حد كبير فكرة مراكز الاحتجاز ''hotspots'' التي تم إنشاؤها على أراضي الاتحاد نفسه. إذ قامت المفوضية الأوروبية في سنة 2015 &nbsp;بإطلاق "<a href="">Hotspot Approach</a>" &nbsp;لمساعدة &nbsp;الدول الأعضاء التي تواجه ضغوط هجرة كبيرة على حدودها الخارجية مثل اليونان وإيطاليا من أجل إدارة ما يسمى بأزمة اللاجئين. &nbsp;تعمل هذه المراكز على التعرف على المهاجرين وطالبي اللجوء وتسجيلهم ورفع بصماتهم وإتخاذ الإجراءات التالية: اللجوء أو العودة أو إعادة التوطين.</p><p dir="rtl">مراكز الاحتجاز هي جحيم آخر، حيث يتم فيها العديد من التجاوزات ضد حقوق المهاجرين خلال فترة إقامتهم الوقتية بهذه المراكز. وقد نشرت<a href=""> منظمة العفو الدولية تقارير</a> تثبت أن داخل هذه المراكز حصل العديد من عمليات التعذيب والاستخدام المفرط للقوة من قبل الشرطة، والاعتقال التعسفي والطرد الجماعي وسوء المعاملة ضد المهاجرين. مثل هذه المراكز في دول خارج الاتحاد الأوروبي ستكون كارثية خاصة في غياب مصادقة &nbsp;بعض الدول (على غرار ليبيا) على اتفاقيات مثل الاتفاقية الخاصة بوضع اللاجئين، التي تُعرف أيضاً باتفاقية عام 1951 الخاصة بوضع اللاجئين/جنيف.</p><p class="mag-quote-center" dir="rtl">رغم أن فكرة منصات إنزال اللاجئين في دول غير تابعة للاتحاد الأوروبي تبدو غير مكتملة المعالم، إلا أن مراكز مشابهة فتحت أبوابها منذ سنتين على أراضي جمهورية النيجر</p><p dir="rtl">رغم أن فكرة منصات إنزال اللاجئين في دول غير تابعة للاتحاد الأوروبي تبدو غير مكتملة المعالم، إلا أن مراكز مشابهة فتحت أبوابها منذ سنتين على أراضي جمهورية النيجر، واحدة من &nbsp;أفقر دول العالم وأقلها نمواً على الإطلاق، إذ يساند الاتحاد الأوروبي منذ سنتين سياسات الهجرة التي تنتهجها حكومة النيجر بالصحراء الإفريقية. وتعمل مراكز ''استقبال طالبي اللجوء'' على دراسة ملفات اللجوء التي يتقدم بها المهاجرون القادمون من دول عديدة بجنوب الصحراء الإفريقية، وتقوم هذه المراكز بمحاولات عديدة لإقناع المهاجرين بالعودة إلى بلدانهم وعدم المخاطرة بحياتهم للوصول إلى أوروبا. تقوم هذه المراكز أيضاً، بصفتها مدعومة من المنظمة الدولية للهجرة أيضاً، بتوفير الأكل واللباس والرعاية الصحية والنفسية للمهاجرين الذي يمرون عبر النيجر وأعدادهم بالآلاف. يحاول موظفو هذه المراكز إقناع المهاجرين بالعودة وإطلاق مشاريعهم في بلدانهم ومجتمعاتهم المحلية. كما قالت<a href=""> مصادر</a> تابعة للمنظمة الدولية للهجرة أن طلبات اللجوء التي يتم عادة قبولها لا تتجاوز 1%. </p><p dir="rtl"><strong>ضغط أوروبي وتحفيزات مالية لدول جنوب المتوسط</strong></p><p dir="rtl">&nbsp;يريد الاتحاد الأوروبي دعم دول الجوار وخاصة دول شمال إفريقيا كتونس، والجزائر والمغرب ومصر التي يمكن لها أن تحتضن هذه المنصات أو مراكز الاستقبال ليتم الفرز على أراضيها أو في مياهها الإقليمية. لكن مثل هذه الشراكات مع دول شمال إفريقيا تبدو متعثرة. ففيما رفض المغرب إقامة مثل هذه المراكز على أراضيه وتونس أيضاً، تبدو مصر أكثر حماساً من غيرها.</p><p dir="rtl">فبعد تركيا وليبيا، حوّل الإتحاد الأوروبي أنظاره نحو مصر على أمل أن تساعد ''القاهرة '' في التصدي لعبور المهاجرين إلى أوروبا، خاصة<a href=""> بعد نجاحها في وقف موجات الهجرة غير النظامية</a> خلال السنتين الماضيتين، إلى جانب قيام مصر بسن قانون يحظر ''أنشطة الهجرة غير الشرعية والتسفير من دون ترخيص''، مع تشديد الرقابة على جميع شبكات التهريب القائمة على هذه النشاطات.</p><p dir="rtl">واعتبر المستشار النمساوي، سيباستيان كروز، أن<a href=""> مصر هي شريك قوي وفعال</a>، وأن شراكات مع دول مثل مصر يمكن أن &nbsp;تساعد في الحد من الهجرة وإنقاذ حياة الذين اختاروا إجتياز المتوسط وتعريض أنفسهم للمخاطر. وقال كروز على هامش <a href="">&nbsp;قمة قادة الاتحاد الأوروبي</a> الـ28 المقامة في النمسا، أن ما اعتبر أفكاراً يمينية متطرفة قبل ثلاث سنوات، يجد دعماً الآن. ويرأس كروز أيضاً <a href="">حزب الشعب النمساوي المحافظ</a> المعروف بأفكاره اليمينية وسياساته المناهضة للاجئين والهجرة إلى أوروبا.</p><p dir="rtl">وتقول <a href="">مصادر</a> إن الحوافز المالية التي ستقدمها بلدان أوروبية دعماً لمصر تتجاوز قيمتها مليار يورو. كما يعمل قادة الإتحاد الأوروبي على لعب ورقة الحوافز المالية لإقناع دول أخرى بالدخول في شراكات من هذا القبيل.</p><p dir="rtl">خلال<a href=""> إحدى المقابلات المتلفزة</a> التي تناولت شؤون الهجرة غير النظامية، قال تيو فرانكن، وزير الدولة لشؤون الهجرة واللجوء ببلجيكا: ''يجب علينا أن نقدم لتونس عرضاً مغرياً مثل ما فعلنا مع الرئيس التركي أردوغان من أجل فتح مراكز استقبال اللاجئين الأفارقة على أراضيها''. ولكن تونس سبق لها وأن عارضت كل مشروع يهدف إلى إقامة منصات للمهاجرين كرد على المساعي الأوروبية التي قادتها دول مثل ألمانيا لإقناع الحكومة التونسية بتوفير منصة للمهاجرين غير النظاميين واللاجئين على أراضيها.'' وترى<a href=""> تونس</a> أن موضوع الهجرة غير الشرعية لا يمكن معالجته بتشييد مثل هذه المنصات.</p><p dir="rtl">يذكر أنه غرق مركب يقل 160 شخصاً بينهم تونسيون وجنسيات إفريقية أخرى ولقي العشرات حتفهم غرقاً قرب جزيرة قرقنة التونسية في يونيو/جوان الماضي، &nbsp;وأعلن <a href="">رئيس الحكومة يوسف الشاهد</a> عن إقامة مجمع أمني للحد من عمليات التهريب والهجرة غير النظامية متعهداً بتتبع من أسماهم بتجار الموت. </p><p dir="rtl"><strong>سياسات إغاثة وإنقاذ بدل مراكز اعتقال جديدة</strong></p><p dir="rtl">بدأت عمليات الإنقاذ في البحر المتوسط بعد تراجيديا 3 أكتوبر 2013 التي تمثلت في غرق سفينة تقل مهاجرين &nbsp;قرب سواحل الجزيرة الإيطالية لامبيدوزا بعد التأخر في عملية الإنقاذ من قبل السلطات الإيطالية والمالطية. وكان على متن هذه السفينة أكثر من 480 مهاجراً، غرق منهم 268 شخصاً، وانتشلت منهم 26 جثة فقط. وهزت هذه الفاجعة الرأي العام والمجتمع الدولي، وانطلقت على أثرها عمليات إنقاذ مثل عملية "<a href="">ماري نوستروم</a>" وهي عملية بحرية وجوية &nbsp;بدأتها الحكومة الإيطالية في 18 أكتوبر 2013، لمواجهة تحديات تزايد أعداد المهاجرين القادمين الى أوروبا خلال النصف الثاني من عام 2013. &nbsp;</p><p dir="rtl">أمنت ''ماري نوستروم'' وصول ما لا يقل عن 150000 مهاجر إلى أوروبا وانتهت<a href=""> العملية</a> في 31 أكتوبر 2014 وحلت مكانها &nbsp;"<a href="">عملية تريتون</a>" من شركة فرونتكس (European Border and Coast Guard Agency).</p><p dir="rtl">مع صعود حكومات يمينية &nbsp;شعبوية في دول أوروبية عديدة وخاصة إيطاليا، زاد التضييق على جهود الإغاثة وإنقاذ الأرواح في المتوسط وذلك عبر إغلاق موانئ أوروبية أمام سفن الإنقاذ وتجريم عمليات إنقاذ مهاجرين، مثل حادثة <a href="">اعتقال بحارة تونسيين</a> من قبل السلطات الإيطالية من أجل إنقاذهم لزورق يقل مهاجرين في عرض المتوسط.</p><p dir="rtl">ما يجب أن تقوم به بلدان الاتحاد الأوروبي هو التمسك بواجب إنقاذ الأرواح في البحر وتحييد عمليات الإنقاذ في المتوسط بعيداً عن المناورات السياسية والقرارات التي لا تتوافق مع القانون الدولي والقانون البحري. على الاتحاد &nbsp;أن يدير موضوع توافد المهاجرين بشكل جماعي بصفته كيان اقتصادي وسياسي قوي وقادر على إدارة هذه الأزمة عوض تصديرها لدول جنوب المتوسط التي يعرف بعضها اضطرابات سياسية وأمنية إلى جانب غياب موارد حقيقية وخبرة في مجابهة الأزمات وخاصة قوانين هجرة &nbsp;تضمن استقبال المهاجرين وضمان حقوقهم في غياب تصور واضح لعمل هذه المراكز التي سيشرف عليها الإتحاد الأوروبي على أراضي تابعة لدول أخرى. لن تحل هذه المراكز فعلياً ''أزمة اللاجئين''، حتى ولو نجحت في تقليل عدد الوافدين والإطاحة ببعض شبكات التهريب والمهربين، بل هي حسب العديد من المنتقدين لهذه السياسات ''رشوة'' بلدان فقيرة من أجل إدارة حدود الإتحاد الأوروبي، رغم أن &nbsp;الكثير من هذه الأموال تذهب إلى أنظمة مستبدة يفر منها الآلاف من المهاجرين. إذاً يجب الكف عن إبرام صفقات مع حكومات تنتهج سياسات مناهضة لحقوق الإنسان.</p><p dir="rtl">التعاطي مع هذه الأزمة التي ستتواصل لسنوات، نظراً لتواصل الصراعات الداخلية والاضطراب السياسي في العديد من دول إفريقيا والشرق الأوسط، يجب أن يكون تعاطياً إنسانيا لا أمنيا قمعياً.على الدول الأعضاء أن تتحمل المسؤوليات الكاملة لإنشاء نموذج أوروبي ناجع للإنقاذ وإغاثة الآف الأشخاص المعرضين للخطر، ومن بينهم الأطفال والنساء خاصة.</p><p>&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="/ahmed-essalhi">أحلام الهجرة بتوقيت المغرب</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by 4.0 </div> </div> </div> North-Africa West-Asia Middle East Forum North-Africa West-Asia أسماء العبيدي Wed, 10 Oct 2018 10:39:48 +0000 أسماء العبيدي 120021 at Racism, sectarianism or sexism? On Damascus and the Syrian demographic barcode <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>I am not surprised that many of my friends from our “fancy” neighborhood were really aghast at the level of sectarian grudges that was revealed after the revolution. <a href=""><strong>العربية</strong></a></p> </div> </div> </div> <p> <span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="// الشام_0.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="// الشام_0.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="276" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'></span></span>Translated by Yaaser Azzayyaat </p><p> <strong><em>This article by Maya Abyad forms part of a special series focused on Oral Culture and Identity in Syria.</em></strong><em> <strong>It is the outcome of an ongoing partnership between SyriaUntold and openDemocracy’s North Africa West Asia in a bid to untangle the roots of sectarian, ethnic and other divides in Syria.</strong></em></p> <p> What distinguishes lines in the barcode is not only their length, but also their width and the distance between them. For example, a middle-class rural family may be closer to a financially modest urban family, even if their sects differ,&nbsp;if there’s no "persisting" political animus between the two sects at that given moment. Meanwhile, a rift could reach fever pitch between neighbors of the same sect, if one is a liberal university professor and the other a conservative merchant.</p> <p> --</p> <p> I was asked to contribute to the <em>Oral Culture and Identity in Syria</em> special series in my capacity as “a Damascene [Damascene] from inside the [Old City] walls,” and to talk about the traditional views and stereotypes this community holds towards the remaining components of Syria’s demographics. It was clear from the wording of the request that the editor, by virtue of prior knowledge, regards “Shwam”<a class="sdfootnoteanc" href="#sdfootnote1sym"> </a>[1] as a supra-sectarian demographic category, despite that a majority of them are Sunni Muslims. In his request, he insisted that the file not only tackles sectarianism, but the various demographic categories at play. It is true that the discussion of ethnic nationalism (typically along Arab-Kurd lines) was present in several other articles. Classism, however, seems to have been “reserved” to the discussion of Shwam!</p> <p> Initially, I tried to wriggle out of this commitment, arguing that my journalistic work has by and large been confined to investigative reporting, and there certainly is no shortage of voices in Syrian opinion writing. Furthermore, I relied on the pretext that, in the “classy” demographically mixed neighborhood in which I was brought up, sectarianism was not the ultimate social arbiter, a fact I became more aware of when I encountered people from the rest of our diverse country. Those encounters came through several friendships, activities and adventures that were hardly welcome by my community or the communities I was discovering but were nonetheless a major source of knowledge on the complex strata of Syria.</p> <p> This was followed by the gender excuse, that dealing with sectarianism and its “bequeathment” to children is not handed down to females as it is to their male counterparts in Syria, which is the case for all sects. Males are the “legal heirs,” those who carry down the family name, and its sectarian identity, to the next generation, along with all the systematized and legislated gender discrimination involved in this: The name of the mother’s family is not mentioned in the official papers of the children, who are not allowed to choose but automatically assigned to the father's sect, and the wife is forced to move to her husband’s civil records. Women’s affiliation is insignificant, then, and they are but property whose ownership moves from one male to another. This means that they are not raised to develop the same tribal sense of belonging cultivated in males, because they must remain flexible to fit in with their new owners. </p> <p> In short, females appear to be the property of the sect, not its keepers, mere carriage pots, or at least, the male’s share of sectarianism in Syria is that of two females.</p> <p> <strong>A blessing in disguise, perhaps!</strong></p> <p> Then arrived the last excuse, that I had spent most of my childhood and adolescence living outside Syria, and that I only began recognizing this aspect of Syrian society later in my school years, and even more during my university years, so my memory of the oral heritage on this subject is very shallow.</p> <p> Afterwards, I reverted to the phrase “start with yourself,” knowing fully well the scarcity of the Shwam that volunteer, or even dare, to openly criticize the Damascene community and its prejudices. The “Damascene Lobby”, comprised of the romanticizing "lovers of the jasmines" of the now dry Barada river, is not to be underestimated in the Syrian arena. Even the opposition aims to appease them, despite them being mainly regime loyalists. Political differences may polarize, but the capitalist financial centralization in the capital (and the family) always keeps some unburnt bridges.</p> <p> On the other side, there are those who have decided to build upon internationally recognized narratives of social “whiteness” and its various manifestations in many countries of the world, regardless of the ethnic classifications of their peoples. This “whiteness” is an historical social construct, relating less to the color of one’s skin than to the color of the “leather cover” of their passport and the number of zeros in their bank account.</p> <p> Not to equate American “whiteness,” for example, with the so-called “Syrian whiteness”, and ignore the differences between the two, of course. Especially when the most prominent of such differences is that a significant proportion of the “privileges” enjoyed by such "white" Syrians are not privileges to begin with, but rather rights that everyone should enjoy. Depriving the majority from them made them seem like privileges to many, which is indeed dangerous because it represents the first step backwards in the battle for their attainment. But on the other hand, I do know that several common straits between the two groups have made the use of this “whiteness" term a rather pragmatic, quick, solution in today’s debates on Syria. So I use it reluctantly. </p> <p> Regardless of the points of convergence and divergence between us, I understand that this side too will not necessarily welcome my intervention. Perhaps that makes it necessary, then!</p> <p> <strong>Before the revolution</strong></p> <p> I recall that several years before the uprising, I put forward a “social theory” I then called the “demographic barcode”, by way of self-deprecation. I referred to it as a “social theory” at the time, as my friends and I liked to call our social views, since harboring independent opinions was a presumptuous act, an audacity my generation dared not commit. It was thus necessary to apologize for having an opinion by mocking it, so as not to be swallowed whole by intellectual wisenheimers of the previous generations.</p> <p> My habit of “social theorizing” began in my teenage years, when my family moved to Syria. I had been living my childhood in a “Levantine” bubble, where no considerable difference exists between a Syrian, Lebanese or Palestinian, because we were all foreigners to the local community. Before arriving in Syria, I was clueless as to the difference between a Shiite “Shi'y" and a communist "Shuyou'y". But I learned the hard way, when I made the mistake of asking my friend’s Korean mother if she was from North or South Korea. My friend’s eyes widened, and she bit on her lip as she stared at me in horror, amazed at my audacity to ask about something so obvious. I looked at her mother, who was silent for a moment and then replied, very briefly and without even looking at me: “The Southern, of course.” To be honest, I didn't even know back then which was the communist one! But as a result of such clumsiness, I arrived in Syria fully conscious of the sensitivities surrounding demographic categories, and their political roots, to many peoples of the world. I still did not necessarily know exactly what these classifications or their origins were. But I knew the problem was not only that “walls have ears” for the secret police in Syria, it was much broader and older.</p> <p> However, I did not expect the demographic classifications of Syria to reach the stage of creative extravagance or “embroidering art” as Shwam would say. Gradually, I began discovering the many types of categories: financial (poverty and wealth); nationalistic (Kurds, Arabs both indigenous and assimilated, Armenian, Circassian, Syriac or Turkmen); ethnic (light or dark, and their diverging shades); tribal (and its urban equivalent of the extended family); sectarian; cultural (related to the degree of education and its legacy throughout the family’s history); colonial (associated with the foreign bloc that the family leans towards in terms of second language, culture, travel and nationality); generational (I was astounded by the lack of respect towards children); occupational (public employees, merchants, white collars, farmers and artisans); regional (whether rural or urban), political (in terms of the presence or absence of a political heritage in the family, and its type); class (a regional, tribal, cultural and economic compound).</p> <p> The list goes on and on, and it would be no exaggeration to say that I spent a decade discovering different forms and manifestations of such categories. I am still taken aback by new discoveries, which together constitute what I call the “demographic barcode”; similar to the code that gives every product in the market its unique identity, which devices can read without the need for exceedingly long numbers. What distinguishes lines in the barcode is not only their length, but also their width and the distance between them. For example, a middle-class rural family may be closer to a financially modest urban family, even if their sects differ,&nbsp;if there’s no "persisting" political animus between the two sects at that given moment. Meanwhile, a rift could reach fever pitch between neighbors of the same sect, if one is a liberal university professor and the other a conservative merchant. This is, then, a more complex relationship than either the sect of the father's family or a box to check in the civil registry.</p> <p> The “aggravating factors” that increase the width of a line rather than its length, vary depending on circumstance. In his book “Deadly Identities,” Amin Maalouf perceives threat as the most important factor of weighting: the threatened/targeted component of a composite identity is the one to which the individual clings and it eclipses/overwhelms the rest of one's identity. There are, however, other factors of such gravity, through incentivization rather than intimidation. Scarcity, for example, is an important factor of aggravating a demographic component, albeit scarcity does not necessarily imply being threatened. This is well known to the richest 5% in any country in the world.</p> <p> <strong>First encounters</strong></p> <p> The one thing I’m sure of after years of careful observation, is that the “server” of the Syrian brain works at its maximum capacity in the first 10 minutes of being introduced to another Syrian, in a “quick scan” of their demographic code:</p> <p> - Hello, I'm so-and-so.</p> <p> - Welcome, pleased to meet you. Is so-and-so related to you?</p> <p> - I am from the X part of the family, there are no connections between us despite the similar last names.</p> <p> - Oh, then you are from Y.</p> <p> - Yes, originally I am from there, but my family has lived in Z for years.</p> <p> This conversation takes place in tandem with a visual scan, of course, whereby the Syrian pays close attention to the color of their fellow countryman’s skin, eyes and hair, their style of dress and accessories, and the dialect they speak. Their responses are compounded to all of the above, in light of the occasion that saw them in the same geographical location, or social or professional forum, so that the demographic code is mentally constructed in the mind of the inquisitive person. Only then can acquaintance be said to have been made.</p> <p> Although I have grown accustomed to these rituals for years, the question “where are you from?” still confuses me to this day. On the one hand, I am not concerned with the opinion the asker will form of me based on my answer, so I have no reason to elaborate much. On the other hand, I know that they will attempt reading between the lines of my brief answer, which will further prolong the annoying conversation, and so I am keen to keep this old game as short as possible.</p> <p> - Where are you from?</p> <p> - Damascus.</p> <p> - Where from in Damascus?</p> <p> - From Damascus itself, from the city of <em>Dimashq…</em></p> <p> - Yes, but, Damascus is a large city…</p> <p> - Would you like to know my exact civil registry address, my current residence address, or where I grew up?</p> <p> Here, hesitation begins to set in with the majority – perhaps they expect the three to be identical? But they usually only really care where the family comes from. “I perform an ablution with milk" [2], in preparation for feedback. Someone once answered me:</p> <p> - You’re from the XYZ neighborhood and not wearing the hijab?! Heck, is this what’s become of people from that neighborhood?</p> <p> To be honest, that was a more comfortable reaction in my opinion than that of the scores of others who implied it, less directly. The discussion even reached the point on one occasion that I took out my personal identity card and showed it to my colleague at my new job, so that he believed me, as Damascene girls do not behave “as such,” and of course the answer to what “such” means exactly, is evaded.</p> <p> Over the years I have discovered that the “such” means that a Damascene girl should be more conservative and timid in middle-income or poorer areas, more snobbish and formal in the richer neighborhoods, and in all cases, she must be more stiff and passive, or “hard to get and spoiled,” qualities referenced as praise. </p> <p> For instance, it was not often that one finds a Damascene woman from my neighborhood, parking her new car in al-Midan, for example, and then proceeding on foot to the wholesale shops, to ask them to participate in a consumers' survey for her part-time job during her university studies. May my father’s soul rest in peace, with his university years abroad that “ruined his education.” Here now are the girls of this generation, coming to jam the “scanner” of our demographic codes with their newly imported “whiteness”!</p> <p> I did not understand their confusion and hesitation to answer my simple questions, although they did not openly refuse to tackle them. I was demographically suspicious to them, which meant they had to be careful. That was good training for work to come in journalism, post-revolution, in other parts of Syria.</p> <p> Before the revolution, the strongest manifestation of the demographic barcode was in it being the pillar of family husbandry, commonly known as “arranged marriages”. In this regard, elderly women boost by far the most powerful Syrian server. Teenage girls knew this more than anyone else: “Come here, sweetie, give me a kiss. What a beautiful face, you’ve grown into a fine young woman, praise be.” Elder women fall short of a full “bridal <em>mdass </em>[3] groping” by virtue of the minimal cultural development they were forced into with girls of this new generation.</p> <p> Meanwhile, accurate and meticulous “scanning” of height, weight and skin, hair and eye colors will have been concluded, as well as having verified the family origin, both the mother’s and the father’s (sect and tribe), the address of residence (finances), the father's profession and the mother's educational level (cultural category). All that is left is for her to ask you, “What class are you in, honey?” (to estimate your age). Then you look at her eyes, as she continues to look directly at you, without really seeing you anymore. The server is working at its utmost capacity. She summons in her mind the barcodes of single males in her archive, who corresponds to your barcode, according to Damascene demographic criteria. How hideous it was to attend women’s weddings in Damascus…</p> <p> <strong>After the revolution</strong></p> <p> The significance of the demographic codes was more evident after the revolution, in the fact that it was the parameter of the regime security's handling of citizens. This is well known to any Syrian who had ever passed a security roadblock checkpoint and was asked to produce their identity card. After the exodus, I am astonished to see the spread of the “Damascene Joker card” outside Syria's political borders. Taxi drivers in Beirut, for example, know the names of Damascus neighborhoods and their “demographic implications” more closely than people from Aleppo do. The custom extends even further, reaching Istanbul, where locals ask you from which part of Syria you are, and are delighted if you say you are from Damascus. I am not looking at the historical roots of this phenomenon here, but what was socially disturbing during my adolescence, has today become a shame laden with blood.</p> <p> I have not mentioned any new information to the Syrian reader so far. Everyone knows that a Damascene does not enjoy the best reputation with other Syrian communities, especially in terms of generosity and transparency. Even many Shwam themselves do not hesitate to participate in such mockery. The Damascene who got two houses in Paradise sold one, rented the other, and moved to hell, the old joke says. Traditionally, “style before sustenance” [4] because the social interface is more important than the actual quotidian quality of life.</p> <p> I recall that in one session of what was then considered “political discussion” among the men of my family in the nineties, and while delving into the “encroachment of global Zionism” and its grip over international finance, one of them wondered: “These Jews haven’t spared anyone their theft and extortion, except for the Shwam!” The answer from his cousin arrived quickly: “Because Shwam are more Jewish than Jews themselves!” This quip was followed by a torrent of laughter. Unlike the men in my family, I leave the analysis of the past and current Syrian economic ties with the international banking and monetary systems to the specialists. What I do know for sure, is that Shwam see no shame in their financial “prudence” and the tight shrewdness that has enabled them, according to the prevailing Damascene opinion, to persevere throughout the city’s ancient history.</p> <p> <strong>A theory of Damascene endurance</strong></p> <p> This theory of “the Damascene endurance” brings us to the most politically consequential aspect: the aversion of confrontation at any price. “The hand that you cannot beat, kiss, and then pray God breaks it.” A Damascene is a merchant, not a politician. Politics are a dangerous and reckless game. Shwam have more foresight and less ideologically orientation than that – survival is their anchor/compass. While Shwam pride themselves of the “wisdom” of this approach, many Syrians condemn it, saying that “whoever marries their mother, becomes their uncle” [5]. But the Shwam claim it is not as simple as that. For example, when French General Gouraud entered Damascus as a military ruler occupying Syria post WWI, the sons of a few Damascene families raced to lift his carriage instead of its horses. My uncle remembered the names of several of those families until his death.</p> <p> On the other hand, many old but non-Shami residents of Damascus I know would sometimes grunt over discrimination by Shwam and their sense of superiority towards non-Shwam, even if they are neighborly and kind to each other for generations. At the same time, many Shwam insist that their main fault is being too kind-hearted. They are “the people of compassion” who pity everyone and only garner the resentment of those "others" in return… “Others" here being non-Damascene residents of the city, who have settled in it for generations!</p> <p> <strong>From inside or outside the Old City? </strong> </p> <p> I do not know precisely when this accumulation system of political, religious, ethnic, and economic components began, but it was later boiled down to the Ottoman personal civil address registry, coining the term “those from within the walls,” that is, the walls of the Old City of Damascus. This Old City is barely one tenth the size of the Syrian capital today. However, the Damascene hierarchy begins with the countryside and the suburbs of the city, and then moves up to those registered within the administrative city of Damascus, then to those who are from within the walls of the Old City or outside of it, then to the differences between the neighborhoods within Old Damascus. As I consider how narrow the square kilometer area we're talking about here is, I cannot help but remember my friend's Korean mother!</p> <p> The demographic suspicion that I evoked during the days of peace, was a handy tool in dealing with members of the Syrian security forces, whose mentality is molded into the same old demographic broken record. On the one hand, the non-veiled Damascene driver is met with nothing but smiles at roadblock checkpoints. I remember in one of my attempts to enter a semi-besieged neighborhood, I had to ghost drive the highway, and then play dumb blonde at the checkpoint. They felt no threat from the young woman in a sleeveless summer shirt. Their cooperation was not motivated by any respect, of course. To the contrary, they do not see women as peers enough to even worry about, even though they are deliberately hostile in dealing with my veiled relatives. </p> <p> On the other hand, it was never easy for me to gain the trust of the residents of the uprising areas until they were sure of my Damascene origin, and my Sunni family name. Given the security chaos and the many informants everywhere, it was very dangerous for me to show my identity card to strangers while working under a pseudonym, but I had to do so in a number of critical situations.</p> <p> I can almost hear the protests of my friends who remained in Damascus “you're giving them an excuse to choke us too now!" since I am revealing the secrets of Damascene concealment, which Syrian security still claim to ignore. However, the fact is that the Damascene-Assad alliance, as with less famous business class alliances in other cities, has become so obvious that discussing it with matching clarity cannot, and should not, be avoided. We all know that the drafted Alawite rank soldier manning the checkpoint did not have the same choice over the position in which he suddenly found himself, as our neighbors, doctors and lawyers, have. They had prepared for generations for such a confrontation, and carefully orchestrated their stance to the point that they raised their children on how to behave during it: “Your time is not now my dear, it comes later”, says our relative with a USA passport. We sit quietly on her terrace overlooking the Malki presidential Palace, sipping our coffee under the sounds of the shelling from Qasion onto Ghouta.</p> <p> What is strange is that the discourse of the Syrian revolution, including that of supposedly anti-sectarian secularists, infamous for its scorched-earth approach to critique, that spared no one its pithy tongue, still avoids talking about the strongest “class sect” in Syria.</p> <p> “It is important that we do not leave the country to them,” my aunt whispers gently in my ear. Maintaining a lifeline requires that the largest sect is divided, between supporters and opposition, to ensure its sustainability and continued influence, even if it comes to the total denial of those less materially privileged within the sect, who in their turn consider it a treasonous “denial of one’s origin.”</p> <p> <strong>Obscuring economic classism</strong></p> <p> The layers and types of prejudice and racism in this theory overlay in an intersectionality that would've been interesting if it weren’t so bloody: The rich Sunni Damascene belongs only to this narrow group—for its very scarcity—and is not overly concerned with the poor rural Sunni in Syria's countryside. While the latter only sees of the Syrian demographic prejudice what the regime worked so hard to showcase: only sectarianism… to obscure economic classism.</p> <p> Poverty is not rare; so, it is not as strong a demographic weighing factor as wealth is. It is therefore easier to divide the poorer across sectarian lines than it is to divide the wealthiest. Add to that the role of financial wealth in providing opportunities for the cultural development of its owners.</p> <p> On the other hand, unlike allies, what converges Assad with his loyalists is not always mutual benefit, but mere sectarianism sometimes. Not many People will send their children to die for money alone, nor for the sake of a person of whose corruption and fraud they are fully aware, but he managed to convince them of a threat to their existence and identity, by reducing that identity to the sect alone.</p> <p> Systematic sectarian blindfolding was the best solution to cover up the sudden radical shift from failed socialism to crude neoliberalism, following the succession of Bashar al-Assad to power at the turn of the century. For example, to this day, a majority of Syrians do not see Bashar al-Assad’s choice of wife as anything other than marrying into the wealthy Sunnis, without noticing the international fact that he married a British investment banker! Local sectarian fervor comes before foreign considerations in the ladder of Syrian demographic prejudices, an art Assads mastered, but did not invent. The regime also mastered playing its global echoes, of Islamophobia and the coincidentally convenient terrorism industry, neither of which were invented by Assads either.</p> <p> Hiding economic ambitions behind identity conflicts is certainly not an Assad patent–it's one of the oldest tricks in the book. However, those who live under its absolute authority their entire lives can hardly believe that it is a mere facade of very simple greed, such as the recently issued <span><a href="">Real Estate Law No. 10 in Syria</a></span>. Our neighbors, from all sects, in that building overlooking an area of illegal housing, did not conceal their ambitious calculations for the leap that our apartment prices will take if the regime manages to uproot the uprising community from their lands and implement the huge modern housing project it had dreamed of for years. Again, the Assad regime did not invent Urbacide and is, unfortunately, not the only one using it.</p> <p> I now arrive at the real reason I had avoided participating in this series of articles. Despite the importance of openness in discussing sectarianism today, and the honest inward look from each of us at our own prejudices and privileges before charging the other, sectarianism in its simplest form did not concern me. I know it has long been deployed, but wasn’t the main determinant, of political balances across the modern history of our country. The broken “white" record played by my neighbors that “sectarianism has no place in the Syria we know”, is not smoke without fire.</p> <p> On the one hand, urban mingling and cultural development in large cities have played a fairly effective role since independence in building a Syrian identity. To this identity did subscribe some of the people who enjoyed the protection and services of law and state, as they felt their citizenship existed, even if minimally. It is easy today to disregard it as if it were a mirage, in the aftermath of the trauma we all suffer. But the fact is, it had been a decently lived reality in a number of areas, and it is counter-productive to deny that completely.</p> <p> On the other hand, a certain number of zeros on the right in one’s bank statement can create a national cohesion and unity that exists only in the worn-out pages of the regime’s nationalism school textbooks [6]. As mentioned earlier, clinging to a demographic factor/component of one’s identity increases with its scarcity. Therefore, the demographic factor with the strongest hold over its members, is that which is constantly seeking to minimise their numbers: The financial factor. Affiliation to the richest 10 percent may be desirable, but belonging to the wealthiest five percent is evermore important. In the face of this ever-renewing scarcity, other factors are largely ignored. Thus, rich Sunni Shwam are indifferent to the sectarianism that bonds them to rural peasants. The latter consider that greed has blinded the hearts of the rich until they denied their identity, as the regime continued to fuel funding and sectarian violence against the poorest in the country. The truth is that no one here has denied nor forgotten anything. It is the same demographic system for everyone, each sees it in light of their own circumstances.</p> <p> <strong>Denying sectarianism</strong></p> <p> Sectarianism has no place in the Syria that “white” Syrians know, not because they are ignorant to its existence for the “other,” but rather because they know that it is a tool used only against others and not against them. Ignorance or denial of sectarianism here increases proportionally with the cultural and financial status of the speaker!</p> <p> The “non-existence" of sectarianism in your community means that you live in a community that is strong enough to not fall under the regime’s security utilization of sectarianism. That is usually due to its financial and/or cultural advantages, thus it is something to be proud of and show off for members of this community. </p> <p> I am not casting accusations here nor denying the importance of the cultural progress that has been achieved through the respect-worthy efforts of previous generations to overcome the sectarianism of their ancestors. I have already mentioned having many reservations about the way in which the term “white Syrians” is sometimes used. However, the cat and mouse game in denial or claiming ignorance, instead of facing reality and dealing with in a positive and productive way, will of course lead to the other feeling a sense of dishonesty in the approach. It is not helping anyone, and it’s about time we grew out of it.</p> <p> One of the most violent evidence I see for this, is that recurrent story many detainees told: The interrogator looks them in the eye in the middle of a torture session and says: “Yes, curse, hate, we want you this way: Vengeful!” The reason for this is not only that blind rage harms its owner more than his enemy. It may also be an attempt at an equality of sorts: The oppressed class harbors a grudge against its oppressors. That is the rule. If you still hold no grudge against your oppressors, then you still do not acknowledge their persecution of you. You still have not put yourself in the category of the oppressed victim, and that's a continuation of your triumph over them. </p> <p> <strong>Holding minorities hostage</strong></p> <p> At the same time, the regime has not allowed minorities to break free from the cycle of fear of previous persecution against them. Assads used it to their own benefit over the last half century, holding those minorities hostage to a continued sense of victimhood. </p> <p> If you do not feel vengeful towards the security-controlling minority after all they have done, you have not yet recognized their victory over you, and their sectarian revenge has not been fulfilled. This is the hateful logic of the sick sectarian security regime.</p> <p> I write this, then I notice what’ve just done in this article: I was asked to write about the perception of Shwam towards other Syrian communities, so I wrote only about the Shwam themselves. The truth is, I have not heard much from my family about other components of Syrian society, not because they don’t have stereotypical views, and not only to avoid raising me into a sectarian culture, but also due to mere indifference!</p> <p> <strong>Two kinds of Syrians</strong></p> <p> In the minds of many around me, Syrians are divided into two categories only: Shwam and non-Shwam. I recall in one family gathering, a young woman began to talk about “their infiltration into every corner of the country” and its institutions, where even the University of Islamic Studies (teaching exclusively Sunni Islam, of course!) was not spared being full of “them”. Others tuned in, thinking this was a discussion against the authoritarian sectarian minority, until the young women mentioned an example as a student at the University of Islamic Studies in Damascus: “I counted the number of Damascene family names among the hundreds of students in the lists of exam results, and found no more than 35 Damascene names among the entire class!”</p> <p> Here, a non-Damascene in-law wondered: “What does a Damascene family name have to do with the Sunni faith?”</p> <p> A moment of silence followed.</p> <p> I return to thinking about the sectarian mindset of those interrogators: Could it be that they think hatred is the only way to acknowledge their existence?</p> <p> My own skeptical monologues aside, I am not surprised that many of my friends from our “fancy” neighborhood were really aghast at the level of sectarian grudges that was revealed after the revolution. I am certainly shocked by the scale of bloody violence it was utilized for. But I say my companions, and not my relatives, as what we say “amongst ourselves” in the family home is never exactly identical to what we show in front of "them.”</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p class="sdfootnote-western" lang="en-US"> <span class="sdfootnotesym">[1] </span>Plural form of Shamy: A person who’s family originates from the Old City of Damascus.</p> <p class="sdfootnote-western" lang="en-US"> <span class="sdfootnotesym">[2</span>] Damascene proverb meaning to prepare for an unpleasant experience, or to take precautions because there is a problem or unpleasant news to be expected</p> <p class="sdfootnote-western" lang="en-US"> <span class="sdfootnotesym">[3</span>] Taking a Mdass is an old tradition of the bridal selection process. It is one of the stages of the physical examination of the bride-to-be by the mother-in-law, such as the walnut-cracking-teeth-test, the hair-pulling-anti-extension-test, and the natural-breast-anti-inserts-test famously known as the "mdass groping". In time, the term became used to mock sexual harassment by men against women.</p> <p class="sdfootnote-western" lang="en-US"> <span class="sdfootnotesym">[4</span>] A proverb about the order of priorities, meaning that appearances and social status are more important than the individual nutrition and consumption habits. Some regard it as an economic axiom, that investing in tools and objects that live longer is more important than food and perishable consumables.</p> <p class="sdfootnote-western" lang="en-US"> <span class="sdfootnotesym">[5</span>] Proverb signifying easily shifting alliances, regardless of family zeal and belonging.</p> <p class="sdfootnote-western" lang="en-US"> <span class="sdfootnotesym">[6]</span> "Arab nationalist socialist education" is the name of an "academic" curriculum introduced by the Bathists into Syrian schools and University curricula.</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/mohammad-dibo/oral-culture-and-identity-in-syria-dossier">Oral culture and identity in Syria - Dossier</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/north-africa-west-asia/milia-eidmouni/on-memorizing-fatiha">On memorizing the Fatiha</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/north-africa-west-asia/yasmine-merei/when-alawite-man-and-sunni-woman-put-love-to-test">When an Alawite man and a Sunni woman put love to the test</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/north-africa-west-asia/rafia-salamah/ancient-city-of-damascus-shwam-and-what-i-know-about-them">The ancient city of Damascus: Shwam, and what I know about them</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/north-africa-west-asia/piroz-perik/image-of-arabs-in-kurdish-oral-heritage">The image of Arabs in Kurdish oral heritage</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-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by 4.0 </div> </div> </div> North-Africa West-Asia North-Africa West-Asia Syria sectarianism Syria and sectarianism Maya Abyad Through Syrian eyes Wed, 10 Oct 2018 08:02:41 +0000 Maya Abyad 119994 at عن الشام والباركود الديموغرافي السوري <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p class="direction-rtl">لا أستغرب أن العديد من رفاقي في أحيائنا "المرتبة" تفاجئوا حقا بكم الطائفية الذي تكشّف بعد الثورة. <a href=""><strong>English</strong></a></p> </div> </div> </div> <p class="direction-rtl"><strong><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="// الشام.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="// الشام.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="276" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'></span></span>ينشر هذا المقال ضمن ملف يتناول الثقافة الشفوية في سورية، بالتعاون والشراكة مع </strong><strong class="direction-rtl">موقع <a href="">حكاية ما انحكت</a>، في محاولة لفهم جذور الطائفية والقومية وغيرها في سورية.</strong></p><p class="direction-rtl">طلب مني المشاركة في ملف التراث الشفهي الطائفي بصفتي "شامية من جوا السور" لأتحدث عن النظرة التقليدية لهذه الفئة تجاه بقية المكونات الديمغرافية السورية. كان من الواضح من صياغة الطلب أن المحرّر (بحكم المعرفة) ينظر إلى الشوام على أنهم فئة ديموغرافية فوق طائفية، وإن كانوا بغالبيتهم من المسلمين السنة. فهو في طلبه مني أكّد على كون الملف لا يتناول الطائفية فقط، وإنما المكونات الديمغرافية المختلفة. فعلا إنّ الحديث عن العنصرية القومية (العربية - الكردية) كان حاضرا في عدة مقالات أيضا، إلا أن الطبقية يبدو أنها "صُمِّدَت" للحديث عن الشوام! </p><p dir="rtl" lang="ar-SA"> حاولت التملص في البداية، بحجة أنّ عملي الصحفي اقتصر في غالبيته على الصحافة الإستقصائية، وأنّ صحافة الرأي في سوريا بالتأكيد لا ينقصها المزيد من الأصوات، ثم بحجة أنّ الطائفية في الحي "المرتب"، المختلط طائفيا الذي نشأت فيه لم يكن لها الكلمة الفصل ديموغرافياً، كما لاحظت عند اختلاطي ببقية أحياء بلدنا المتنوّع، عبر مجموعة من الصداقات والأنشطة والمغامرات التي لم تكن جميعها بالضرورة مرحبّا بها، لا من قبل محيطي، ولا المجتمعات التي تعرّفت عليها، إلا أنّها كانت من أهم مصادر تعرّفي على طبقات سوريا المركبة.</p> <p dir="rtl" lang="ar-SA"> تلتها الحجة الجندرية، وهي أنّ التعاطي مع الطائفية و"توريثها" للأبناء لا يتم في سوريا بنفس الدرجة للإناث كما للذكور في جميع الطوائف، فالذكور هم "العصبة" وحملة اسم العائلة وناقلي طائفتها للجيل التالي، وما إلى ذلك من عنصرية جندرية مقنّنة وممنهجة: لا يذكر اسم عائلة الأم في الأوراق الرسمية للأبناء الذين يتبعون طائفة الأب حصرا دون تخيير، وتجبر الزوجة على الانتقال إلى خانة زوجها في السجلات المدنية. لا اعتبار لانتماءها إذا، هي ملاك ينتقل من هذا الذكر لذاك، فلا يربّى فيها شعور بالانتماء العصبوي كما يزرع في الذكور لأن عليها البقاء مرنة لتناسب المالك الجديد.</p> <p dir="rtl" lang="ar-SA"> تبدو الإناث في هذه المنظومة من أملاك الطائفة ولسن ملاكها، أو على الاقل، للذكور في سوريا مثل حظ الأنثيين من الطائفية. </p> <p dir="rtl" lang="ar-SA"> <strong>رب ضارة نافعة</strong><strong>!</strong></p> <p dir="rtl" lang="ar-SA"> ثم جاءت الحجة الأخيرة، وهي أنّي قضيت الجزء الأكبر من طفولتي ومراهقتي خارج سوريا، ولم أبدأ بالتعرّف على هذا الجانب من المجتمع السوري حتى مرحلة متأخرة من المدرسة وبشكل أكبر خلال سنوات الدراسة الجامعية، وبالتالي ذاكرتي عن الموروث الشفهي لهذا الموضوع ضحلة جدا. </p> <p dir="rtl" lang="ar-SA"> عدت بعدها لمقولة "ابدأ بنفسك"، وأنا أعرف جيدا ندرة عدد الشوام الذين يتطوعون، أو يتجرؤون، على نقد المجتمع الشامي وعنصرياته جهارا، فـ "اللوبي الشامي" من عشّاق ياسمينات بردى الجاف، ليس هينا على الإطلاق على الصعيد السوري، ويحسب له حتى المعارضين حساباً، رغم كونه مؤيداً في غالبيته. قد تؤدي الخلافات السياسية إلى استقطاب إلا أن المركزية الرأسمالية للعاصمة (والعائلة) تحافظ على خط الرجعة.</p> <p dir="rtl" lang="ar-SA"> يقابل ذلك من الطرف الآخر، أولئك اللذين قرّروا البناء على سرديات معروفة عالميا عن "البياض" الاجتماعي وتجلياته المختلفة في أجزاء أخرى من العالم، بغضّ النظر عن التصنيف العرقي لشعوبها. هذا "البياض" هو مركب اجتماعي تاريخي، لا علاقة كبيرة له بلون الجلد، وإنما يرتبط أكثر عادة بلون "جلدة" جواز السفر وعدد الأصفار في الحساب المصرفي. </p> <p dir="rtl" lang="ar-SA"> من غير الممكن طبعا المساواة بين "البياض الأميركي" مثلا، وما يطلق عليه "البياض السوري"، وفي إغفال الفروق بينهما الكثير من الإشكاليات. من أهمها أنّ نسبة لا يستهان بها من "الامتيازات" التي يتمتع بها هؤلاء السوريين هي ليست امتيازا ابتداءً، هي مجرّد حقوق يجب أن يتمتع بها الجميع. حرمان الغالبية منها جعلها تبدو امتيازا في نظرهم، وهو أمر خطر لأنه يمثل الخطوة الأولى إلى الوراء في معركة تحصيلها. بالمقابل، أعرف أنّ عديد التقاطعات تجعل من استعمال هذا المصطلح حلاً عملياً سريعاً في سوريا اليوم، لذلك أستعمله على مضض. وبغض النظر عن نقاط الالتقاء والاختلاف بيننا، أعرف أنّ هذا الطرف أيضاً لن يرحب بمداخلتي. فهي إذن، باتت ضرورية!</p> <p dir="rtl" lang="ar-SA"> <strong>قبل الثورة</strong></p> <p dir="rtl" lang="ar-SA"> أذكر أنني قبل الثورة بعدّة سنوات، وضعت نظرية اجتماعية اسميتها "الباركود الديمغرافي". نعم، أسميتها بهذا الاسم من باب السخرية من الذات. أسميتها حينها "نظرية اجتماعية" كما كنّا وصحبي نحب أن نسمّي آراءنا الاجتماعية، حيث أنّ امتلاك رأي حينها كان تهمة وتحدّ لا يتجرأ عليه أحد من أبناء جيلي. فلا بد من الاعتذار عنه بالتسميات الساخرة حتى لا يبتلعك جهابذة المثقفين من الجيل الأسبق. </p> <p dir="rtl" lang="ar-SA"> بدأت عادة "النظريات الاجتماعية" لديّ في سنين المراهقة، عندما انتقلت أسرتي للعيش في سوريا. كنت قبل ذلك، أعيش في فقاعة تصنيف "بلاد الشام"، لا فرق كبير فيها بين سوري ولبناني وفلسطيني نظرا لأننا جميعا غرباء عن المجتمع المحلي. لم أكن أعرف قبل القدوم إلى سوريا: ما الفرق بين الشيعي والشيوعي؟ إلا أنني تعلمت درسا قاسيا عندما أخطأت وسألت والدة صديقتي الكورية، إن كانت من كوريا الشمالية أو الجنوبية. اتسعت حدقتا صديقتي وعضّت على شفتيها وهي تنظر إليّ بارتياع لجرأتي على السؤال عن ما هو مفروغ منه لهذه الدرجة، نظرت إلى والدتها التي صمتت هنيهة، ثم أجابت باقتضاب دون أن تنظر إليّ: "الجنوبية، طبعا". الحق أني حينها لم أكن أعرف أيهما هي الشيوعية حتى! لكن بالنتيجة أتيت لسوريا وأنا على علم بحساسية التصنيفات الديمغرافية وجذورها السياسية لدى الكثير من شعوب العالم. وإن لم أكن أعرف بالضرورة ما هي هذه التصنيفات وأصولها بالضبط. لم تكن المشكلة فقط أن "الحيطان لها أذان" أي استخباراتية، المشكلة أعم وأقدم.</p> <p dir="rtl" lang="ar-SA"> إلا أنني لم أكن أتوقع أن تبلغ التصنيفات الديموغرافية السورية مرحلة "تطريز الفن" كما يقول الشوام. بدأت بالتدريج اكتشاف أنواعها: المالية (فقر وغنى)، القومية (كردي وعربي عارب أو مستعرب أو أرمني أو شركسي أو سرياني)، العرقية (أشقر أم أسمر بتنوعاتهم)، الجندرية (بتدرجاتها التنميطية للجنسين، فالذكر اللطيف ليس رجلا والأنثى القوية نصف رجل)، القبلية (والنسخة المدينية منها المتجلية باسم العائلة)، الطائفية الثقافية (المرتبطة بدرجة التعليم وقدم توارثه في أجيال العائلة)، الاستعمارية (المرتبطة بالمعسكر الأجنبي الذي تميل إليه العائلة من حيث اللغة الثانية والثقافة أو السفر والجنسية)، العمرية (ذهلت باكتشاف درجة عدم الاحترام للأطفال)، المهنية (من موظفين أو تجار أو أصحاب مهن مستقلة أو فلاحين أو حرفيين)، المناطقية (بين الريف والمدينة وأيضا بين المدن المختلفة)، السياسية (من حيث وجود أو عدم وجود موروث ممارسة سياسي في العائلة ونوعه)، الطبقية (وهي مركب اقتصادي ثقافي مناطقي قبلي).</p> <p dir="rtl" lang="ar-SA"> اللائحة تطول، ولا أبالغ بالقول أنّي قضيت عقداً من الزمن وأنا أكتشف أنواعها وتجلياتها المختلفة، ولا أزال أتفاجأ باكتشافات جديدة، تشكّل في مجموعها ما أسميته "الباركود الديموغرافي"، أسوة بالشيفرة التي تعطي كلّ منتج في السوق هويته الفريدة التي يمكن للأجهزة قراءتها دون الحاجة لأرقام شديدة الطول. ما يميّز الخطوط في الباركود ليس فقط طولها، وإنما عرضها أيضا والبعد بينها. مثلا قد يكون أبناء أسرة ريفية متوسطة الحال أقرب لأبناء أسرة مدينية متواضعة مالياً، وإن اختلفت طوائفهم، إن لم يكن من عداء سياسي "حابك" بين الطائفتين في تلك الفترة. بينما قد يصل الخصام أشدّه بين جيران الحارة الواحدة من نفس الطائفة، بين أستاذ الجامعة المتحرّر والتاجر المحافظ. هي علاقة أكثر تركيبا إذاً من مجرّد طائفة عائلة الأب أو خانة سجل القيد المدني. </p> <p dir="rtl" lang="ar-SA"> "عوامل التثقيل" التي تزيد من عرض أحد الخطوط عوضا عن طوله، تختلف تبعا للظروف. في كتابه الشهير "الهويات القاتلة" رأى أمين معلوف، أنّ التهديد هو أهم عوامل التثقيل: العنصر المهدَد من الهوية المركبة هو الذي يتشبث به الفرد ويطغى على بقية مكونات هويته. إلا أنّ هناك عوامل تثقيل أخرى، بالترغيب وليس فقط الترهيب. الندرة مثلا هي عامل تثقيل مهم للمكون الديمغرافي، لكنها لا تعني بالضرورة تعرّضه للتهديد. يعرف ذلك جيدا أثرى ٥٪ في أي بلد بالعالم.</p> <p dir="rtl" lang="ar-SA"> <strong>التعارف السوري</strong></p> <p dir="rtl" lang="ar-SA"> النتيجة الوحيدة التي أضحيت متأكدة منها بعد سنين من المراقبة الحذرة، هي أن "سيرفر" أو مخدم العقل السوري يعمل بأقصى سرعاته في الدقائق العشر الأولى من التعرّف على سوري آخر، في مسح أو "سكان" سريع لهذه الشيفرة الديموغرافية: </p><p class="direction-rtl"> مرحبا، أنا فلان/ة الفلاني</p><p class="direction-rtl">أهلا وسهلا، تشرفنا. فلان الفلاني يقربك؟</p><p class="direction-rtl">لا أنا من القسم ال…. من العائلة، لا قربات تربطنا رغم تشابه الأسماء</p><p class="direction-rtl">أه إذا انتم من ….؟</p><p class="direction-rtl"><span class="direction-rtl">نعم الأصل من هناك، إلا أن عائلتي تعيش في … منذ سنين</span>.</p><p dir="rtl" lang="ar-SA"> تتم هذه المحادثة أثناء المسح البصري طبعا، حيث ينتبه السوري للون بشرة أخيه في الوطن وعينيه وشعره، نوع هندامه وأكسسواراته، اللكنة التي يتحدث بها، تضاف الإجابات إلى كل ذلك، في ضوء المناسبة التي جمعتهما في نفس البقعة الجغرافية أو المحفل الاجتماعي أو المهني، ليتم تشكيل الشيفرة الديموغرافية ذهنيا عند السائل. عند ذلك، يكون قد تمّ التعارف.</p> <p dir="rtl" lang="ar-SA"> على الرغم من اعتيادي على هذه الطقوس منذ سنين، إلا أن سؤال "من وين حضرتك" لا يزال يربكني حتى اليوم. فمن جهة، لا يعنيني الرأي الذي سيكوّنه السائل بي بناء على إجابتي، وبالتالي لا أجد داع للاستفاضة في الشرح. من جهة أخرى، أعرف أنه سيمعن في القراءة بين سطور إجابتي المقتضبة مما سيطيل الحديث المزعج أكثر عليّ، فأتوخى الوضوح لأختصر اللعبة المكرورة إياها.</p><p class="direction-rtl">من وين حضرتك؟</p><p class="direction-rtl">من الشام</p><p class="direction-rtl"> من وين من الشام؟</p><p class="direction-rtl"> من نفس الشام، من دمشق</p><p class="direction-rtl"> إيه بس الشام كبيرة</p><p class="direction-rtl"> بتريد تعرف خانة نفوسي على الهوية ولا عنوان السكن الحالي ولا وين ربيت؟</p><p dir="rtl" lang="ar-SA">هنا يبدأ التردّد عند الغالبية (ربما يتوقعون أن الثلاثة متطابقين؟) إلا أنه عادة ما يهمهم أصل العائلة من أين. "أتوضأ بعدها باللبن" (مثل يعني أن أستعد لخوض تجربة غير لطيفة أو أن آخد حذري وأحتاط لأن ثمّة مشكلة أو أخبار غير جيدة متوقعة)، استعدادا لردود الفعل. سبق أن أجابني أحدهم غير مصدق: </p> <p dir="rtl" lang="ar-SA"> -من الحي الفلاني وسبور؟! هلق هيك صفيانين أهل هالحي؟</p> <p dir="rtl" lang="ar-SA"> الحق أنها كانت ردة فعل مريحة مقارنة برأي المئات غيره ممن قالوها، لكن بمواربة أكثر. وصل النقاش في إحدى المرات أني أخرجت هويتي الشخصية وأريتها لزميلي في العمل الجديد ليصدقني، فبنات الشوام "مالهن هيك"، وطبعا يتم التملص عن الإجابة عن المقصود بـ"هيك". </p> <p dir="rtl" lang="ar-SA"> عبر السنين استشفّيت أن "الهيك" هي أنّ على الفتاة الشامية أن تكون أكثر محافظة وخجلا في الأحياء المتوسطة أو الفقيرة، وأكثر تصنّعا ورسمية في الأحياء الأغنى، وبجميع الأحوال، عليها يقينا أن تكون أكثر اقتضابا وسلبية أو "تقيلة ومدللة" كما يسمّى ذلك مواربة. </p> <p dir="rtl" lang="ar-SA"> فلا يحصل عادة أن تجد شامية من سكان المكان الذي نشأت فيه تركن سيارتها الحديثة في حي الميدان مثلا، ثم تدور راجلة على أصحاب دكاكين بيع الجملة لتطلب منهم المشاركة في استبيان للرأي حول منتج استهلاكي ما لصالح الشركة التي تعمل بها أثناء دراستها الجامعية. رحم الله والدي وتلك السنوات التي "نزعت تربايته" أثناء دراسته في الغرب، ها هي بنات هذا الجيل تأتي لتربك "سكانر" شفرتنا الديمغرافية "ببياضهن" المستورد الجديد! </p> <p dir="rtl" lang="ar-SA"> لم أكن حينها أفهم سبب ارتباكهم وتردّدهم بالإجابة على أسئلتي البسيطة، رغم عدم رفضهم المشاركة. كنت مريبة ديموغرافيا بالنسبة لهم، مما يعني أن عليهم توخي الحذر. كان ذلك تدريبا جيدا لما سيواجهني من ارتباكات ومخاوف لاحقا في عملي الصحفي بعد الثورة في مناطق أخرى من سوريا.</p> <p dir="rtl" lang="ar-SA"> <strong>سكانر </strong><strong>"</strong><strong>خطبة الأهل</strong><strong>"</strong></p> <p class="western" dir="rtl"> قبل الثورة، كان التجلّي الأكبر لأهمية الشيفرة الديموغرافية في كونها عماد التهجين الأسري المتعارف على تسميته "خطبة أهل". تملك النسوة الأكبر عمرا هنا أقوى سيرفر سوري على الإطلاق. تعرف ذلك الفتيات المراهقات أكثر من أي أحد آخر: "تعي حبيبتي تعي هاتي بوسة يئبشني هالوش شو كبرانة وصايرة صبية اسمالله"، يحجبها بعد ذلك عن "أخد المدس" الحد الأدنى من التطور الثقافي التي أجبرت على الانصياع له مع بنات هذا الجيل (وأخذ المدس يعود لعادات عتيقة لنظام خطبة الأهل. هو إحدى مراحل فحص العروس أو الخطيبة المستقبلية فيزيولوجيا: أي أنّ يقوم أهل العريس بتقديم ثمرة جوز بهدف فحص أسنانها وقوتهن، وأحيانا يسحبوا شعرها ليتأكدوا أنه طبيعي ولا وصلات فيه، وأحيانا "بياخدوا مدس"، وهو يعني مسك جسمها وتحديدا الصدر ليتأكدوا أنه طبيعي و لا حشوات فيه أو عيوب ثانية! ومع الوقت صار المصطلح يستعمل للهضمنة والاستهزاء كناية عن بعض أنواع التحرش الجنسي من الرجال ضد النساء).</p> <p dir="rtl" lang="ar-SA"> إلا أن سكانر تقدير الطول والوزن وطبيعة لون الشعر والعيون بدقة يكون قد تم، بعد أن عرفت بالتأكيد أصل عائلة الأم والأب (الطائفة والقبيلة) وعنوان السكن (الحالة المادية) ومهنة الأب و شهادة الأم (النوع الثقافي)، ويبقى أن تسألك "بأي صف إنتي حبيبتي؟" لتقدر العمر. تنظرين بعدها إلى عينيها التي تكاد لا تراكي وهي تستمر في التحديق المباشر بك، لترين السيرفر يجري بأقصى قوته وهي تستحضر في ذهنها شيفرات الذكور العزاب في جعبتها الذين يتوافق باركودهم مع باركودك وفق المعايير الديموغرافية الشامية… كم كان كريها حضور أعراس النساء في دمشق!</p> <p class="western" dir="rtl"> <strong>بعد الثورة</strong></p> <p class="western" dir="rtl"> تجلّت أهمية الشيفرة الديمغرافية بعد الثورة بوضوح أكبر في كونها عماد النظام في التعامل الأمني مع المواطنين. وهو أمر لا يجهله سوري سبق له أن مرّ على حاجز أمني طلب رؤية هويته. أما بعد الشتات، فيذهلني إلى اليوم اتساع انتشار "الجوكر الشامي" خارج حدود سوريا السياسية. سائقو التكسي في بيروت مثلا، يعرفون أسماء أحياء دمشق و"إعرابها الديمغرافي" أكثر من أبناء حلب. ويمتد العرف حتى يصل اسطنبول، حيث يسألك التركي من أي قسم من سوريا أنت، وينالك الرضى إذا قلت أنك من الشام. لست هنا بصدد البحث التاريخي عن جذور هذه الظاهرة، إلا أن العنصرية "الإيجابية" التي كانت مزعجة اجتماعيا أثناء مراهقتي، أصبحت عارا مثقلا بالدم اليوم.</p> <p class="western" dir="rtl"> لم أذكر إلى الآن أيّة معلومة جديدة على القارئ السوري. الكل يعلم أن الشامي لا يتمتع بألطف سمعة عند بقية المكونات السورية، لا سيما من حيث الكرم والشفافية. حتى أن الكثير من الشوام أنفسهم لا يتوارون عن المشاركة في السخرية بهذا الشأن، فالشامي الذي حصل على بيتين في الجنة، باع أحدهم وأجّر الآخر وسكن في جهنم، وفق النكتة الشهيرة. </p> <p class="western" dir="rtl"> والعرف يقول "الهدمة قبل اللقمة" (مثل يحكي عن ترتيب الأولويات، وهو يعني أن المظهر الخارجي والواجهة الاجتماعية أهم من الأكل والعادات الاستهلاكية الشخصية الفردية. والبعض ينظر له بطريقة اقتصادية تعني أنّ الاستثمار بالأدوات والأغراض التي تعيش فترة طويلة أهم من الأكل والمواد الاستهلاكية التي تنتهي بسرعة)، لأن الواجهة الاجتماعية أهم من طبيعة الحياة المعاشة يوميا. </p> <p class="western" dir="rtl"> <strong>نظرية الصمود الشامي</strong></p> <p class="western" dir="rtl"> أذكر أنّه في إحدى جلسات ما كان يعتبر "حديثا سياسيا" لدى رجال العائلة في التسعينات، وأثناء الخوض في "تغوّل الصهيونية العالمية" وإمساكها بمقاليد المال والنقد العالمي، تساءل أحدهم: "هاليهود ما خلوا حدا ما ابتزوه وسرقوا منه، إلا الشوام!" جاءته الإجابة من ابن عمه سريعة: "لأن الشوام يهود أكتر من اليهود!"، متبوعة بسيل عارم من الضحك. على خلاف ذكور العائلة، أترك تحليل ارتباطات الاقتصاد السوري السابقة والحالية بالنظم المصرفية والنقدية العالمية لأهل الاختصاص. لكن ما أعرفه يقينا، هو أنّ الشامي لا يرى أيّ حرج في "حرصه" المالي وحصافته التي مكنته وفق الرأي الشامي السائد من الصمود عبر تاريخ المدينة العتيقة. </p> <p class="western" dir="rtl"> توصلنا نظرية "الصمود الشامي" إلى الجانب الأهم سياسيا، وهي تجنّب المواجهة بأي ثمن. "الإيد اللي ما بتقدر عليها، بوسها وادعي عليها بالكسر". الشامي تاجر وليس سياسي، فالسياسة لعبة خطرة ومتهورة، الشامي أبعد نظرا وأقل أدلجة من ذلك، النجاة هي بوصلته. هو نهج يفخر "بحكمته" الشوام بينما يعايرهم به كثير من السوريين على أن "الذي يأخذ أمهم يصبح عمهم". لكن الشوام يدّعون أنّ الأمر ليس بهذه البساطة. مثلا حين دخل الجنرال غورو محتلا إلى دمشق، تسابق لحمل عربته بدل جيادها أبناء عدّة عائلات شامية، كان عمي لا يزال يذكر بعض الأسماء منها حتى وفاته. </p> <p class="western" dir="rtl"> في المقابل، يشتكي العديد من سكان دمشق القدامى (غير الشوام) الذين أعرفهم من عنصرية الشوام ونظرتهم الفوقية لغير الشامي، وإن تبادلوا الملاطفة والمجاورة وحسن العشرة لأجيال متعاقبة. بينما يصر العديد من الشوام أنّ مشكلتهم هي طيبة قلبهم، وأنّهم "أهل الخطي" الذين يشفقون على الجميع فلا ينالهم إلا نكران الجميع، وذلك عند الحديث عن سكان المدينة من غير الشوام اللذين قطنوها لأجيال! </p> <p class="western" dir="rtl"> <strong>جوا السور أم خارج السور</strong><strong>!</strong><strong>؟</strong></p> <p class="western" dir="rtl"> لا أعلم بالضبط منذ متى بدأ تراكم المكونات السياسية الطائفية العرقية الاقتصادية لما تم اختصاره لاحقا بعد التقنين العثماني لقيد النفوس بأنه "جوا السور"، أي سور مدينة دمشق القديمة التي لا تزيد مساحتها عن عشر مساحة العاصمة السورية اليوم. إلا أن التراتبية الشامية تبدأ بالريف وضواحي المدينة، ثم تنتقل لمن سجّل قيد نفوسه على أنه ضمن مدينة دمشق الإدارية، ثم تنتقل لمن هم من الأحياء الداخلة ضمن سور المدينة القديمة أو من الأحياء خارجها، ثم للفروق بين الأحياء ضمن السور، ووصولا إلى رقم الخانة ضمن الحي نفسه. أفكر بالمساحة التربيعية التي نتحدث عنها هنا، فلا يسعني إلا أن أتذكر والدة صديقتي الكورية!</p> <p class="western" dir="rtl"> الريبة الديمغرافية تلك التي كنت أسبّبها أيام السلم كانت أداة مفيدة لي في تعاملي مع عناصر الأمن السوري المجبولين على الإسطوانة الديمغرافية إياها. من جهة، سائقة السيارة الشامية غير المحجبة، هي من تتسع الابتسامة لها على الحواجز الطرقية، لدرجة أني أذكر أني في إحدى محاولاتي الدخول لضاحية شبه مغلقة أمنيا، كانّ عليّ القيادة عكس السير على المتحلّق ومن ثم لعب دور الشقراء الهبلاء أمام الحاجز الذي شعر بالأمان تماما تجاه الصبية ذات القميص الصيفي دون أكمام. لم يكن تعاونه نابعا من أي احترام تجاهي بالطبع، على العكس، هو لا يرى في المرأة حتى ندية كافية للقلق، رغم تعمّده التعامل بعدوانية مع قريباتي المحجبات. من جهة أخرى، لم يكن من السهل عليّ أبداً نيل ثقة سكان المناطق الثائرة حتى يتأكدوا من نفوسي الشامي واسم العائلة السني. بالنظر للتغوّل الأمني و"الفسافيس" في كل مكان، كانت مخاطرة كبيرة مني أن أظهر هويتي الشخصية أمام الغرباء وأنا أعمل تحت اسم مستعار، إلا أنني اضطررت لذلك في عدد من المواقف الحرجة. </p> <p class="western" dir="rtl"> أكاد الآن اسمع أحتجاجات صديقاتي اللواتي بقين في دمشق "ناقصهن حجة يستلمونا إحنا كمان هلق!"، بما أنني أفضح أسرار التخفّي الشامي التي لا يزال الأمن السوري يدّعي عدم علمه بها ظاهرياً. إلا أنّ الحقيقة أن التحالف الشامي الأسدي، كالتحالفات الطبقية التجارية الأقل شهرة بين النظام وأثرياء بقية المدن السورية، بات من الوضوح بحيث لا يمكن، ولا يجدر، تجنّب الحديث عنه بوضوح مماثل. جميعنا نعرف أنّ المجند العلوي على الحاجز لم يكن يملك قرار الموقع الذي وجد نفسه فيه فجأة قدر ما ملك جيراننا من أطباء ومحامين مواقعهم، إذ استعدوا منذ أجيال لمثل هذه المواجهة ورتبوا بدقة تموضعهم خلالها، حتى ربوا أبناءهم على كيفية التصرف أثناءها: "انتوا مو دوركن هلق بنتي، إنتوا وقتكن بعدين". تقول قريبتنا ذات الجنسية الأميركية ونحن نحتسي القهوة بهدوء على تراسها المطل على القصر الرئاسي في منطقة المالكي، ونحن نسمع أصوات القصف الصاعد من قاسيون باتجاه الغوطة.</p> <p class="western" dir="rtl"> من الغريب أنّ جدليات الثورة السورية، حتى العلمانية المناهضة نظريا للطائفية منها، والتي اشتهرت بإحراقها الأخضر واليابس، وأنّ أحدا لم يسلم من لسانها، لا تزال تتجنب الحديث عن "الطائفة الطبقية" الأقوى في سوريا. </p> <p class="western" dir="rtl"> "من المهم أن لا نترك البلد لهم"، تهمس عمتي بخفة في أذني: الحفاظ على شعرة معاوية يقتضي انقسام الطائفة الأكبر عددا بين مؤيد ومعارض لضمان استمرارها واستمرار نفوذها، حتى وإن تطلب ذلك الوصول إلى التنصل التام من البقية، فيما يعتبره أولئك (الأقل حظا ماليا من الطائفة)، خيانة و"تنكر للأصل". </p> <p class="western" dir="rtl"> <strong>الطائفية الطبقية</strong></p> <p class="western" dir="rtl"> تتراكم طبقات وأنواع العنصرية في هذه النظرية بتقاطع، كان سيكون شيّقا لو لم يكن داميا لهذه الدرجة: فالشامي السني الغني ينتمي فقط لهذه الفئة الضيقة (لندرتها) ولا يعنيه السني الفقير في أرياف سوريا كثيرا. أما الأخير، فلا يرى من العنصرية الديمغرافية السورية إلا ما جهد النظام على إظهاره له: فقط الطائفية، للتغطية على الطبقية الاقتصادية. </p> <p class="western" dir="rtl"> الفقر ليس نادرا، فهو ليس عامل تثقيل ديموغرافي مهم كالغنى. لذلك يسهل تقسيم الأفقر طائفيا أكثر من الأغنى، فضلا عن دور المادة في توفير الفرص لتطوير صاحبها ثقافيا.</p> <p class="western" dir="rtl"> من جهة أخرى، وعلى خلاف حلفائه، ما يمكن أن يجمع الأسد مع أتباعه، ليس دوما الفائدة المتبادلة، وإنما الطائفية فحسب أحيانا. لن يرسل الناس أبناءهم للموت في سبيل المال فقط، ولا في سبيل شخص هم أدرى بفساده وزيفه، إلا إن تمكّن من إقناعهم بتهديد وجودهم وهويتهم، وذلك عن طريق اختصار تلك الهوية بالطائفة.</p> <p class="western" dir="rtl"> التعمية الطائفية الممنهجة، كانت الحل الأمثل للتغطية على التحول المتطرف المفاجئ من الاشتراكية الفاشلة إلى النيوليبرالية الفجة إثر استلام بشار الأسد للسلطة في بداية القرن. مثلا، لا يزال حتى اليوم غالبية السوريين لا يرون في اختيار بشار الأسد لزوجته سوى أنه صاهر أثرياء السنة، دون أن يلحظوا الحقيقة العالمية بأنه تزوج مصرفية استثمار بريطانية! فالحمى الطائفية المحلية تأتي قبل الاعتبارات الأجنبية في سلم العنصرية الديمغرافية السوري، وهو فن أتقنه نظام الأسد ولم يخترعه، كما أتقن اللعب على أصدائه العالمية من إسلاموفوبيا وصناعة إرهاب متعاون لأقصى الدرجات، لم يكن هو من اخترعهما أيضا. </p> <p class="western" dir="rtl"> الأطماع الاقتصادية المستترة وراء صراعات الهويات ليست بالتأكيد براءة اختراع أسدي، فهي حيلة قديمة قدم التاريخ. إلا أنّ من يعيش تحت السلطة المطلقة لهذه الحيلة طوال حياته، يصعب عليه تصديق أنها مجرّد واجهة لأطماع شديدة البساطة، مثل <a href=""><span>قانون العقارات رقم عشرة</span></a> الصادر مؤخرا في سورية. لم يخف جيراننا من كافة الطوائف في البناء المطلّ على منطقة العمار المخالف تلك "تقريشهم" للقفزة التي ستنال أسعار شققنا إذا تمكن النظام من اقتلاع أهل الحي الثائر من أراضيهم وتنفيذ المشروع السكني الضخم الذي حلم به لسنين. مرّة أخرى، لم يخترع النظام الأسدي إبادة التخطيط العمراني المديني "Urbacide" ولا يتفرّد بها للأسف.</p> <p class="western" dir="rtl"> أصل هنا للسبب الحقيقي إذا لتجنبي المشاركة في هذه السلسلة من المقالات: على الرغم من أهمية المصارحة الطائفية اليوم، ونظر كل منا بصدق تجاه عيوبه أولا قبل توجيه الاتهامات للأخر، إلا أنّ الطائفية بمعناها البسيط هذا لم تعنيني يوما، كما أعرف أنها لطالما وظفت، ولم تحدّد وحدها، التوازنات السياسية عبر تاريخ بلدنا (المعاصر على الأقل). الأسطوانة البيضاء المهترئة لأبناء حارتي بأن "التائفية" لا مكان لها في سوريا التي نعرفها، ليست دخانا بلا نار. </p> <p class="western" dir="rtl"> فمن جهة، لعب التمازج المديني والتقدم الثقافي في الحواضر الكبرى دورا فعالا إلى حد ما منذ الاستقلال في بناء هوية سورية انتمى إليها فعلا بعض من تمتع بحماية قوانين الدولة وخدماتها وشعر بالحد الأدنى من المواطنة فيها. من السهل اليوم نسيان ذلك كأنه كان سرابا في ظل الصدمة التي نعاني جمعيا منها، إلا أنّه كان واقعا معاشا لدرجة لا بأس بها في عدد من المناطق، من غير المفيد إنكار ذلك تماما. </p> <p class="western" dir="rtl"> ومن جهة أخرى، فإنّ عدد معين من الأصفار على يمين كشف الحساب المصرفي، قادر على خلق تلاحم ووحدة وطنية لا مثيل لها سوى في صفحات كتب القومية المهترئة. كما أسلفت، يزداد التشبث أو عامل التثقيل بالمكوّن الديموغرافي طردا مع ندرته، لذلك فإنّ العنصر والمكوّن الأقوى سيطرة على أبنائه، هو المكون الذي يسعى دوما إلى الحفاظ على أقل عدد ممكن من الأفراد: العامل المالي. الانتماء لطبقة العشرة بالمئة الأثرى قد يكون مرغوبا، إلا أنّ الانتماء للخمسة بالمئة الأثرى أهم. أمام هذه الندرة المتجددة، تهمل بقية العناصر المكونة لدرجة كبيرة، لذلك نجد أثرياء السنة غير آبهين بالطائفية التي تجمعهم بفلاحي الريف مثلا، في حين يعتبر هؤلاء أنّ الطمع قد أعمى قلوب الأثرياء حتى تنكروا لهويتهم، في حين استمر النظام بضخ التمويل والعنف طائفيا ضد الأكثر فقرا. الحق أنّ أحدا هنا لم يتنكر لشيء ولم يغفل عن شيء. هي منظومة ديمغرافية واحدة لدى الجميع، يراها كلّ في ضوء ظرفه.</p> <p class="western" dir="rtl"> "التائفية" لا مكان لها في سوريا التي يعرفها "السوريون البيض"، ليس لأنهم يجهلون وجودها لدى "الآخر"، وإنما لأنهم يعلمون أنها أداة توّظف عليه هو فقط وليس عليهم. الجهل بالطائفية أو إنكار وجودها هنا يتناسب طردا مع ارتفاع المستوى الثقافي والمالي للمتحدث! </p> <p class="western" dir="rtl"> "عدم وجود" الطائفية في مجتمعك يعني أنك تعيش في بيئة أقوى من أن تخضع للتوظيف الطائفي الأمني للنظام، غالبا بفضل قدرتها المالية و/أو الثقافية، وبالتالي هو أمر يتفاخر فيه أبناء هذه البيئة.</p> <p class="western" dir="rtl"> لست أوجه هنا الاتهامات أو أنكر أهمية التقدم الثقافي الذي أحرز نتيجة الجهد المقدّر الذي بذلته الأجيال السابقة لردم الهوة الطائفية التي فرّقت بين أجدادهم الأقدم. وقد سبق وذكرت تحفظاتي حول الطريقة التي يوّظف بها مصطلح "السوريين البيض" أحيانا. إلا أن لعبة القط والفأر بالإنكار أو ادّعاء الجهل، بدل مواجهة الواقع والتعاطي معه بإيجابية مثمرة أكثر، سيؤدي بطبيعة الحال لشعور الآخر بعدم الصدق في التعاطي معه. لا يفيد ذلك أحدا، و"حلنا" أن نتجاوزه.</p> <p class="western" dir="rtl"> <strong>نريدك حاقدا</strong></p> <p class="western" dir="rtl"> من أعنف الأدلة التي أراها على ذلك، تكرار الرواية ذاتها لدى عديد المعتقلين: ينظر المحقق في عيني المعتقل في وسط جلسة التعذيب، ويقول له "نعم، اشتم، واحقد. نحن نريدك هكذا: حاقدا". ليس السبب فقط هو عمى البصيرة التي يصاب بها الغاضب الحاقد، والتي تعود عليه بالضرر أكثر مما تعود على عدوه. هو قد يكون أيضا نوع من محاولة التساوي: تحقد الفئة المضطهدة على مضطهديها. هذه هي القاعدة. إذا لم تحقد على فئة ما، فأنت لا زلت لا تعترف باضطهادهم لك. أنت لا زلت لم تضع نفسك في خانة الضحية المضطهدة، وفي ذلك استمرار لانتصارك عليهم. في الوقت الذي لم يسمح فيه النظام للأقليات بعد بالخروج من دائرة الخوف والاضطهاد التي مورست ضدهم سابقا، والتي حافظ آل الأسد على توظيفها لصالحهم في نصف القرن الأخير، عبر أخذهم كرهينة محبوسة في شعور المظلومية.</p> <p class="western" dir="rtl"> إن لم تحقد على الأقلية المسيطرة أمنيا بعد كل ما فعلوه، لم تعترف بعد لهم بالانتصار عليك، ولم ينجح انتقامهم الطائفي. هذا هو منطق الكره لدى النظام الطائفي الأمني المريض. </p> <p class="western" dir="rtl"> أكتب ذلك ثم أنتبه لنفسي، بما قمت به في هذه المقالة الآن: طلب مني أن اكتب عن نظرة الشوام لبقية المكونات، فكتبت فقط عن الشوام أنفسهم. الحقيقة أني لم أسمع الكثير من عائلتي عن بقية المكونات، ليس لغياب النظرة النمطية، ولا فقط من باب الحرص على عدم تربيتي على الثقافة الطائفية، وإنما أيضا، لعدم الاكتراث! </p> <p class="western" dir="rtl"> سوريا تقسم إلى الشوام وغير الشوام فقط لدى عدد غير قليل من المحيطين بي، إذ أذكر أنه في إحدى الجلسات العائلية، بدأت إحداهن بالحديث عن "توغلهم في البلد" ومؤسساتها حيث لم تسلم حتى كلية الشريعة الإسلامية (السنية حصرا طبعا!) من الامتلاء "بهم". شاركتها أخريات حديثا كنّ يظنّه طائفي/ سياسي موّجه للأقلية الحاكمة فقط، ما لبثت الأنسة أن أوردت مثالا من دراستها في كلية الشريعة بدمشق: "قمت بعد أسماء العوائل الدمشقية بين مئات الطلاب في قوائم نتائج الامتحانات المعلقة على لوحة الاعلانات، لم يكن هناك أكتر من ٣٥ اسما دمشقيا بين كل طلاب الدفعة!"</p> <p class="western" dir="rtl"> تساءلت هنا إحدى القريبات بالمصاهرة غير الشامية: "وما علاقة اسم العائلة الشامي بالمذهب السني؟"</p> <p class="western" dir="rtl"> عمّ بعدها الصمت في الغرفة.</p> <p class="western" dir="rtl"> أعود للتفكير في عقلية اولئك المحققين الطائفية: هل يعقل أن يظنوا أنّ الحقد هو الوسيلة الوحيدة للاعتراف بوجودهم؟</p><p class="western" dir="rtl">بعيدا عن مونولوجاتي المشككة، لا أستغرب أن العديد من رفاقي في أحيائنا "المرتبة" تفاجئوا حقا بكم الطائفية الذي تكشّف بعد الثورة، وأنا أيضا بالتأكيد، تفاجأت بكم الدموية الذي سُيِّر من خلالها. </p> <p class="western" dir="rtl"> أقول رفاقي وليس أقربائي، فما نقوله "بيننا" في منزل العائلة، لا يكون مطابقا تماما قط، لما نظهره "أمامهم".</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-7">عندما حفظت الفاتحة! </a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/north-africa-west-asia-5"> كيف سيكمل &quot;علوي&quot; و&quot;سنية&quot; طريق الحب؟</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/north-africa-west-asia/samia-haddad/response-damascus-sectarianism">محاولة للرد على مقال: الشوام وما أدراك ما الشوام</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/north-africa-west-asia/rafia-salamah/damascus-shwam-and-sectarianism">الشوام وما أدراك ما الشوام</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/north-africa-west-asia-2">رد: قراءة في مقال صورة العرب في الموروث الشفاهي الكردي</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/north-africa-west-asia/Piroz-Perik/arabs-kurds-popular-culture"> عن صورة العرب في الموروث الشفاهي الكردي</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/mohammad-dibo/sectarianism-syria-popular-culture">الثقافة الشفوية والهوية في سورية - ملف</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-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by 4.0 </div> </div> </div> North-Africa West-Asia North-Africa West-Asia Syria sectarianism Syria and sectarianism مايا أبيض Through Syrian eyes Arabic language Wed, 10 Oct 2018 08:02:06 +0000 مايا أبيض 119990 at On memorizing the Fatiha <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>With the outbreak of the revolution in Syria, I felt I needed to justify my stance vis-à-vis this revolution, since I coincidentally belonged to a religious minority. <a href=""><strong>العربية</strong></a></p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/562712/jpg_3." rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/562712/jpg_3." alt="" title="" width="460" height="307" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Saint Ananias church. Source: Wikipedia [CC BY-SA 3.0]. </span></span></span>Translated by Pascale Menassa </p><p><em>This article forms part of a special series focused on&nbsp;Oral Culture and Identity in Syria. It is the outcome of an ongoing partnership between&nbsp;<a href="">SyriaUntold</a>&nbsp;and&nbsp;openDemocracy’s North Africa West Asia&nbsp;in a bid to untangle the roots of sectarian, ethnic and other divides in Syria.</em></p><p>We hear expressions like “God help every man according to his religion,” “No matter how sweet, a Muslim cannot be trusted,” and “A Kurd is as stubborn as a mule” all the time. But, we often start any sentence about religion with “Thank God we live in a country without sectarianism and we do not know racism,” and “All are good people,” to end the religious discussion and to feel satisfied that we are not sectarian and we respect others, regardless of their belonging!</p> <p>Talk about sectarianism or religion often happens in small, closed circles of like-minded people. Such issues are not publicly discussed because the concerned group fears being accused of sectarianism or narrow-mindedness.</p> <p>I was born and raised in Homs, where I spent a normal childhood. The city boasts a confessional diversity. We were two Christian families living in a neighborhood mostly populated with “our Muslim brothers,” as my grandmother, a bride at 14 who hailed from Hama and lived in the neighborhood until her death, would say. </p> <p>I was only allowed to play in the street or in front of our house a few times, under the pretext that “girls do not play in the street.” For a while, I thought my parent’s fear that I might be injured during my playtime was the only reason behind this decision. But, I later realized that their fear stemmed from their desire to forbid me from befriending or hanging out with “Muslim kids” and learning their habits. The source of that fear was a feeling of insecurity and mistrust towards the others who had a different religion and social background.</p> <h3><strong>Like guests in our own country</strong></h3> <p>The feeling that we were guests in our own country and that we had to respect the system in place which provided protection for Christians never left us. This fear grew during Christian religious holidays, when security protection was intensified and policemen and intelligence officers were deployed in front of churches to defend them against “possible imaginary attacks.” </p> <p>The constant feeling that I belonged to a religious minority in my country accompanied me until I started my university studies and moved to Damascus. It was not easy to get answers about identity, belonging and religion, especially since my family never boasted about being a practicing one, or about religion being a priority in our lives. Later, while my awareness about others increased, I embarked on my quest for answers. I stepped down from my ivory tower and blended in with my university peers and work colleagues of different sects and backgrounds. </p> <p>I remember well my first personal experience with religion, when I was in first grade. We had recently transferred to the St. John of Damascus School. The religion class teacher stood before us and asked the Christian students to move to a small room next to the class we were in and the Muslim students to remain put. She began explaining some verses from the Holy Quran and wrote the <em>Fatiha </em>[introduction of the Quran] on the board. She asked us to memorize it and repeat it to the students. </p> <p>I memorized it and repeated it to my classmates. A quarter of an hour later, another religion teacher came into the classroom and called out, “Who is Milia?”</p> <p>I stood up immediately, feeling ashamed and scared. Did I do something wrong necessitating punishment? The teacher quickly explained, “What are you doing here? Follow me to the other classroom!”</p> <p>She reintroduced me to my Christian classmates and warned me that this small hall is where we will constantly meet during religion class until the end of the school year. She later contacted my father to tell him about my “heinous” act and ignorance of the religion I belonged to. </p> <p>The incident became an example of religious coexistence in the family, which boasted that “Milia memorized the <em>Fatiha</em> in first grade instead of the “Our Father” prayer!”</p> <p>A year later, I returned to my old school (Al-Ghassania Private School) where I spent the whole elementary cycle. It was then that the notion of religion and confessional belonging became ingrained in me. Being a student at this school was a public statement that one belonged to the well-off Christian and Sunni families of Homs. Expressions such as, “Muslims from good families like to enroll their children in Christian schools because they provide high-quality education and teach languages,” were whispered. </p> <p>Each morning, the motto of the Baath Vanguards was religiously repeated at any public or private school in Syria. Along with it, at my school which was Orthodox, students of all ages would recite the <a href="">pre-studying prayer</a> aloud daily. Sometimes, my curiosity pushed me to read the lips of my Muslim peers to figure out whether they were repeating the prayer with us or just faking moving their lips, as I did when repeating the Baath Vanguards’ mottos and national anthems.</p> <p>I had many questions about the importance of repeating the pre-studying and post-studying prayers in front of everyone and imposing them on non-Christians. Why did I have to be separated from my classmates during religion class?</p> <p>Innocently, I asked the teacher the question, “Miss, why don’t we take the lesson together?” </p> <p>She laughed and answered, “It is better to be separated.” She had that discreet smile with a wink and a head gesture to the left or right, which was the code for being careful when talking within a grouph about somebody from another religion. </p> <h3><strong>Sunday school</strong></h3> <p> During elementary and intermediate school, I joined the “sorority”, also known as the Sunday school. Paradoxically, even the name has a religious connotation (Sunday schools on Fridays!). Socially, Fridays were Muslims’ day off and were linked to the Friday prayers, while Sundays were reserved for Christians. </p> <p>I spent a significant period of time within the sorority, and I was committed to most of its weekly activities like reading and memorizing texts and stories from the Bible, in addition to the leisure aspect like field trips and summer camps at monasteries close to Homs. A group of young men and women who were older than I was organized the activities, and we called them “Brother <em>fulan</em> and Sister <em>fulana</em>” out of respect. </p> <p dir="rtl">&nbsp;</p><p>For a girl like me in her early teenage years, the sorority was a space to meet people like us and to familiarize myself with my religious identity and belonging. Parents feel reassured when their children participate in such activities that present a chance to remain within the bubble of “All those who are like us should join us.” I believe the sorority and all forms of religious gatherings are a primitive form of the common dating and meeting up practices. The main difference is that, within these circles, all members belong to one religion. This space provides a social cover that tolerates girls and boys meeting each other and having a love relationship that could end in marriage. As the sayings go, “Tell me what company you keep, and I’ll tell you what you are”/ “Marry within your own religion, or die because of your choices” [meaning people of the same sect should stick together, otherwise they would perish.] </p><p>After my one-time participation in the summer camp with the sorority, I discovered that my identity and convictions began to take shape based on the stereotypes and ideas of those in charge, while completely disregarding my own thoughts and my personal opinion. I stopped going to the activities, and I was completely convinced that relying on “religious privilege” widens the gaps in society and is no means to reaching equality and justice. </p> <h3><strong>Spoken and unspoken codes</strong></h3> <p>The imaginary state and fear of meeting the different others was not completely eradicated when I took my distance from the neighborhood community that lived by the saying “he is one of us, not one of them.” It took a new shape with the first day of college at the University of Damascus in the Faculty of Literature. My classmate called me to sit by her side in the middle of the hall instead of sitting to the left side that was reserved for Palestinian students, as she had heard from graduates. </p> <p>“Why are you sitting on the left side? Don’t you know it is reserved for Syrian Palestinians? This is our seat, and we will stick together from now on.” What she meant by “us” was the Christian group of four students.</p> <p>I later found out why her uncle used the word “German” while talking about a person he does not know. She said, “We use some codes when we want to talk about somebody from a different religion. We say German to mean Alawite and Shamout to mean Sunni. Nobody can guess what we are talking about.” </p> <p>I found out that these terms are among the first words that incomers to Damascus learn to show that they are blending in with their new society or to implicitly condemn discrimination among citizens. We did not have the courage to point out the role of the Syrian regime in deepening this sectarian rift and preferred to “coexist with this national solidarity lie.” </p> <p>With the outbreak of the revolution in Syria, I felt I needed to justify my stance vis-à-vis this revolution, since I coincidentally belonged to a religious minority. I would receive letters of thanks and surprise from some friends who assumed that all Syrian Christians advocated the regime. My classmate in elementary school whom I had not talked to for a long time was thankful “for my support for their cause and revolution.” </p> <p>He said, “What brings you to our side?”</p> <p>I answered, “Your side?” </p> <p>“Yes, the revolution! Why bother with this issue? It is a revolution of Sunnis against Alawites. But, thumbs up! I did not expect you to be on our side!”</p> <p>A few days later, a common friend from the days of elementary school who lives in the US contacted me and said, “I am so happy you are with the revolution. All my school friends are against us. Thank God, the world is still fine with people like you.”</p> <p>“It is my revolution too. You need not feel happy. I am also a Syrian citizen, before being a Christian. I have rights and an opinion I want to express too.”</p> <p>It was not easy to partake in this issue. I was afraid and worried about sharing my memories and previous personal experience. I was not as strong and aware in the past to confront this sectarianism. But, I now feel we are deeply in need of confronting this problem and talking about it openly rather than behind closed doors, if we want to build a country where all Syrians are treated based on citizenship and equality rather than affiliations.</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/mohammad-dibo/oral-culture-and-identity-in-syria-dossier">Oral culture and identity in Syria - Dossier</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/north-africa-west-asia/yasmine-merei/when-alawite-man-and-sunni-woman-put-love-to-test">When an Alawite man and a Sunni woman put love to the test</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/north-africa-west-asia/rafia-salamah/ancient-city-of-damascus-shwam-and-what-i-know-about-them">The ancient city of Damascus: Shwam, and what I know about them</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/north-africa-west-asia/piroz-perik/image-of-arabs-in-kurdish-oral-heritage">The image of Arabs in Kurdish oral heritage</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/north-africa-west-asia/dellair-youssef/am-i-son-of-arab-aisha-jokes-in-mixed-household">Am I the son of the Arab Aisha? Jokes in a mixed household</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/north-africa-west-asia/abdullah-amin-al-hallaq/i-am-from-salamiya-but-none-of-this-applies-to-me">I am from Salamiya but none of this applies to me</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/north-africa-west-asia/mohammad-abu-hajar/our-sectarianism-not-just-regime-s-creation">Our Sectarianism – not just the regime’s creation</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-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by 4.0 </div> </div> </div> North-Africa West-Asia North-Africa West-Asia Syria sectarianism Syria and sectarianism Milia Eidmouni Through Syrian eyes Tue, 09 Oct 2018 09:24:20 +0000 Milia Eidmouni 119987 at عندما حفظت الفاتحة! <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p class="direction-rtl">مع بداية الثورة في سوريا، وجدت نفسي بحاجة لتبرير موقفي منها، أنا المنتمية لأقلية دينية بالصدفة. <a href=""><strong>English</strong></a></p> </div> </div> </div> <p class="direction-rtl"><strong><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/562712/jpg_2." rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/562712/jpg_2." alt="" title="" width="460" height="307" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>كنيسة حنانيا في دمشق. المصدر ويكيبيديا</span></span></span>ينشر هذا المقال ضمن ملف يتناول الثقافة الشفوية في سورية، بالتعاون والشراكة مع </strong><strong class="direction-rtl">موقع <a href="">حكاية ما انحكت</a>، في محاولة لفهم جذور الطائفية والقومية وغيرها في سورية</strong></p> <p dir="rtl"> "كل مين على دينه الله يعينه"، "المسلم لو كان مسك لا تحطه بجيبتك"، "الكردي عنيد وراسه يابس"،... هي عبارات وجمل نسمعها دائما. بالمقابل، كثيرا ما نردّد عند بدء الحديث عن الدين أو لوضع نهاية لأي حوار حول الموضوع "بس نحنا عايشين ببلد الحمدالله ما في طائفية ولا منعرف العنصرية"، و"كل الناس خير وبركة"، لتمنحنا شعوراً بالرضا أننا لسنا طائفيين ونحترم الطرف الآخر بغض النظر عن انتمائه!</p> <p dir="rtl"> غالبا ما يتم النقاش عن الطائفية أو الدين ضمن دوائر صغيرة ومتقاربة في طريقة التفكير، ولا يتم نقاشها بشكل علني وواسع خشية الاتهام بالطائفية والتقوقع حول "جماعتنا".</p> <p dir="rtl"> ولدت ونشأت في مدينة حمص، عشت فترة طفولة عادية في مدينة تتغنّى بتنوّعها الطائفي، وكنّا عائلتين مسيحيتين نسكن في حي غالبيته من "أخواننا الإسلام" على حد تعبير جدتي التي قدمت عروسا من مدينة حماة بعمر الـ ١٤ وسكنت الحي حتى وفاتها. </p> <p dir="rtl"> الساعات التي سمح لي فيها باللعب في الشارع أو أمام منزلنا معدودة على الأصابع، والحجة جاهزة دائما "البنات ما بيلعبوا بالشارع". لفترة من الزمن اعتقدت أنّ خوف أهلي من تعرّضي لإصابة أثناء اللعب هو السبب وراء هذا القرار، لألمس لاحقا أنّ هذا الخوف مصدره الرغبة بمنع أي اختلاط أو بدء صداقة مع "أولاد المسلمين" والتطبّع بعاداتهم، وهو خوف مصدره الإحساس بعدم الأمان والثقة بالطرف الآخر، المختلف عنا دينيا واجتماعيا.</p> <p dir="rtl"> الإحساس أننا ضيوف في زيارة داخل وطننا، وواجبنا احترام النظام الحاكم الذي وفر الحماية للمسيحيين كان شعورا ملازما لنا. وكان هذا الخوف يتعزّز في فترة الأعياد الدينية المسيحية مع تشديد الحماية الأمنية وانتشار رجال الشرطة والمخابرات أمام الكنائس، لحمايتها من "هجمات وهمية محتملة".</p> <p dir="rtl"> الإحساس الدائم أني أنتمي لأقلية دينية في وطني ظلّ مرافقا لي حتى بداية المرحلة الجامعية والانتقال إلى دمشق. الحصول على الأجوبة حول الهوية، والانتماء والدين لم يكن سهلا، خاصة أنّ عائلتي لم تجاهر يوما أنّها ملتزمة دينياً، أو أنّ الدين يشكل الأولوية في حياتنا. ولكن لاحقا ومع تفتّح وعيّ حول الآخر بدأت رحلة البحث عن الأجوبة، كسرت قوقعتي البلورية وبدأت التعرّف على الآخر بكل أطيافه وطوائفه من خلال أصدقاء وصديقات الجامعة والعمل. </p> <p dir="rtl"> أتذكر جيدا أول تجربة شخصية لي مع الدين عندما كنت في الصف الأول الابتدائي، انتقلنا حديثا إلى مدرسة القديس يوحنا الدمشقي. وقفت مُدرسة الديانة أمامنا وطلبت أن ينتقل الطلبة المسيحيين إلى الغرفة الصغيرة المجاورة لصفنا، وأن يبقى الطلبة المسلمون في نفس الصف، وبدأت حصتها بشرح بعض الآيات من القرآن الكريم، وكتبت الفاتحة على اللوح وطلبت أن نحفظها ونعيد تكرارها أمام الطلاب. تمكنت من حفظها وإعادة قراءتها غيباً أمام طالبات وطلاب صفي، بعد ربع ساعة دخلت مُدرسة الدين الأخرى، ونادت: "مين ميليا؟"</p> <p dir="rtl"> وقفت فورا وأنا أشعر بالخجل والخوف أمام الجميع، وأنا لا أعرف هل قمت بخطأ ما يستدعي العقاب؟ لتستدرك استفسارها سريعاً: "إنت شو عم تعملي هون؟ الحقيني على الغرفة التانية"!.</p> <p dir="rtl"> وهناك قدمتني من جديد أمام زميلاتي وزملائي المسيحيين ونبهتني أنّ هذه القاعة الصغيرة هي مكان تجمعنا الدائم خلال حصص الديانة حتى نهاية العام الدراسي. ولاحقا قامت بالتواصل مع والدي لتخبره بفعلتي "الشنعاء"، وجهلي بالدين الذي أنتمي له. لاحقا أصبحت الحادثة مضرب مثل في العائلة عن التعايش الديني "ميليا بالصف الأول حفظت الفاتحة بدل أبانا الذي في السموات"!.</p> <p dir="rtl"> بعد عام عدت إلى مدرستي القديمة (الغسانية الخاصة)، أمضيت كلّ المرحلة الابتدائية فيها. وهنا بدأ مفهوم الدين والانتماء الطائفي يترسخ لدّي بشكل أعمق، فمجرّد الانتماء لهذه المدرسة هو بمثابة إشهار علني أنك من عائلات حمص المسيحية والسنية ميسورة الحال، فالقول المتداول همساً: "المسلمين ولاد العيل، بحبوا يعلموا ولادهم بمدارس المسيحية لأنها مرتبة وفيها لغات".</p> <p dir="rtl"> كان ترديد شعار "طلائع البعث" مع بداية الدوام الصباحي من ثوابت أي مدرسة حكومية أو خاصة في سوريا، ولكن يترافق ترديد الشعار في مدرستي مع <a href="">قراءة صلاة ما قبل الدرس</a> على اعتبار أن المدرسة تتبع للطائفة الأرثوذكسية، وعلينا نحن الطلبة من مختلف الأعمار ترديدها يومياً بصوت عالي. كان فضولي يدفعني أحيانا لمراقبة شفاه زملائي المسلمين لأعرف هل يردّدون الصلاة معنا، أم يصطنعون تحريك شفاههم فقط كما اعتدت عند ترديد شعارات طلائع البعث والأغاني الوطنية؟.</p> <p dir="rtl"> راودتني العديد من الأسئلة عن أهمية ترديد صلاة ما قبل الدرس وما بعد الدرس أمام الجميع وفرضها على غير المسيحيين، ولماذا يجب أن أنفصل عن أصدقائي في الصف خلال حصة الديانة؟</p> <p dir="rtl"> ببراءة طرحت السؤال على المدرسة: "آنسة ليش ما ناخد الدرس مع بعض؟"، لتضحك وترد: "كل حدا لحال أحسن"، الابتسامة الخفيفة مع غمزة، وإيماءة بالرأس يمينا أو شمالا، هي كلمة السر والإشارة المفتاحية لضرورة الانتباه عندما يتمحور الحديث ضمن مجموعة عن شخص من دين آخر.</p> <p dir="rtl"> <strong>الأخوية</strong><strong>.. </strong><strong>كمكان للتعارف ضمن </strong><strong>"</strong><strong>الدين الواحد</strong><strong>"</strong></p> <p dir="rtl"> انضممت خلال المرحلة الابتدائية والإعدادية إلى "الأخوية"، وتعرف أيضا باسم مدارس الأحد. والمفارقة أنّه حتى الاسم له صبغة دينية (مدارس الأحد في يوم الجمعة!) فالعرف المجتمعي أن يوم الجمعة عطلة المسلمين، ومرتبط بصلاة الجمعة والأحد خاص بالمسيحيين.</p> <p dir="rtl"> أمضيت فترة زمنية لا بأس بها ضمن الأخوية وملتزمة بأغلب نشاطاتها الأسبوعية، كقراءة وحفظ نصوص وقصص من الإنجيل، بالإضافة إلى الجانب الترفيهي كالرحلات الخارجية والمخيمات الصيفية إلى الأديرة القريبة من حمص، ويقوم بتيسير هذه الأنشطة مجموعة من الشابات والشباب الأكبر سناً منّا، ونناديهم احتراما "الأخ فلان أو الأخت فلانة".</p> <p dir="rtl"> كانت "الأخوية" بالنسبة لفتاة في بداية مرحلة المراهقة، مساحة ومكان للتعرّف على من هم مثلنا والتعرّف أكثر على هويتي وانتمائي الديني. وبالإمكان القول أنّ الأهل ينتابهم شعور بالراحة في حال التزام أولادهم وبناتهم بالمشاركة في مثل هذه النشاطات التي تشكّل فرصة للبقاء ضمن قوقعة "يلي متلنا تعو لعنا". الأخوية وكل أشكال التجمعات الدينية، بنظري اليوم ما هي إلا شكل بدائي لتطبيقات المواعدة والتعارف المنتشرة، مع اختلاف أساسي أنّ الجميع فيها ينتمي لدين واحد وتوّفر هذه المساحة غطاء وقبولا اجتماعيا لالتقاء وتعارف الشباب والشابات على بعضهم، ولا مانع من نشوء علاقة حب بينهم تنتهي بالزواج لأن "يلي بياخد من غير ملته بموت بعلته"، والملة هي الطائفة التي ينتمي لها الفرد.</p> <p dir="rtl"> بعد مشاركتي اليتيمة في المخيم الصيفي مع الأخوية، اكتشفت أنّ هويتي وقناعاتي بدأت بالتشكل بناء على إسقاطات وأفكار القائمين والقائمات على هذه الأخوية، مع تجاهل تام لأفكاري ورأيي الشخصي؛ توقفت عن الحضور والمشاركة في النشاطات مع قناعة تامة أنّ الاعتماد على "الامتياز الديني" يساهم في خلق المزيد من الفجوات في المجتمع، وبالتأكيد ليس السبيل للوصول إلى العدالة والمساواة.</p> <p dir="rtl"> <strong>في الجامعة</strong><strong>... "</strong><strong>منقعد مع بعض</strong><strong>"</strong></p> <p dir="rtl"> الحالة الوهمية والخوف من التعرّف على الآخر لم تنته كلياً مع الابتعاد عن مجتمع الحارة "وهاد من جماعتنا ولا جماعتهم"، وبدأت تأخذ شكل جديد مع أول يوم لي على مقاعد كلية الآداب في جامعة دمشق، إذ نادتني زميلتي لأجلس قربها في الجهة الوسطى من المدرّج عوضاً عن اليسرى المخصّصة للطلبة الفلسطينيين بحسب ما وصل لمسامعها من دفعة الطلاب التي سبقتنا، "ليش قاعدة على اليسار؟ ما بتعرفي هي الجهة للفلسطينيين السوريين، نحن من اليوم هاد مقعدنا، ومنبقى مع بعض"، والمقصود بـ "نحن" مجموعتنا المسيحية المكونة من أربعة طلاب.</p> <p dir="rtl"> لاحقا تعرفت منها على سبب استخدام خالها لكلمة "ألماني" ضمن سياق حديثه عن شخص لا أعرفه، ووضحت لي: "في رموز منستخدمها وقت بدنا نحكي عن حدا من غير دين لهيك منقول ألماني يعني علوي، شموط يعني سني، هيك ما حدا بيعرف عن شو عم نحكي"، ليتبين لي أن هذه الصفات من أشهر الكلمات التي يتعلمها ويتداولها القادمون الجدد إلى دمشق، لإظهار الاندماج والتقرّب من المجتمع الجديد،أو استنكارا مبطنا للتمييز بين المواطنين، لم يكن لدينا الجرأة وقتها للإشارة المباشرة لدور النظام السوري في تعزيز هذا الانقسام الطائفي وفضلّنا "التعايش مع كذبة اللحمة الوطنية".</p> <p dir="rtl"> مع بداية الثورة في سوريا، وجدت نفسي بحاجة لتبرير موقفي منها، أنا المنتمية لأقلية دينية بالصدفة، وأستقبل رسائل الشكر والاستغراب من بعض الأصدقاء ممن افترضوا مسبقا أنّ كل المسيحيين في سوريا مؤيدين للنظام، فصديق مقاعد الدراسة الابتدائية وبعد انقطاع طويل عن التواصل كان ممنوناً وشاكراً "دعمي لقضيتهم وثورتهم" بقوله:</p> <p dir="rtl"> - إنت شو جابك لعنا؟</p> <p dir="rtl"> - وين عندكم؟</p> <p dir="rtl"> - يعني ع الثورة شو بدك من هالقصة! هي ثورة السنة على العلوية، بس براڤو ما توقعت إنك تكوني معنا.</p> <p dir="rtl"> بعدها بأيام قليلة تواصلت معي صديقة مشتركة من أيام الدراسة الابتدائية ومقيمة في أميركا لتقول:</p> <p dir="rtl"> - كتير انبسطت إنك مع الثورة، كل رفقات المدرسة ضدنا، الحمدالله لسه الدنيا بخير.</p> <p dir="rtl"> - هي ثورتي كمان، ما بدها تنبسطي، أنا مو مواطنة سورية قبل ما كون مسيحية وعندي حقوق ورأي بدي عبر عنه؟.</p> <p dir="rtl"> لم يكن قرار المساهمة في هذا الملف سهلاً، انتابني الخوف والقلق من مشاركة ذكريات ومواقف شخصية مررت بها في مرحلة سابقة، ولم يكن لدي القوة والوعي الكافي حينها لمواجهتها، ولكن اليوم نحن بحاجة ماسة لمواجهتها والحديث عنها بشكل صريح ومباشر من دون الغمز واللمز، لنتمكن من بناء وطن نحلم أن يكون لكل السوريين والسوريات قائم على أسس المواطنة والمساواة لا الانتماءات.</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-5"> كيف سيكمل &quot;علوي&quot; و&quot;سنية&quot; طريق الحب؟</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/north-africa-west-asia/samia-haddad/response-damascus-sectarianism">محاولة للرد على مقال: الشوام وما أدراك ما الشوام</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/north-africa-west-asia/rafia-salamah/damascus-shwam-and-sectarianism">الشوام وما أدراك ما الشوام</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/north-africa-west-asia-2">رد: قراءة في مقال صورة العرب في الموروث الشفاهي الكردي</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/north-africa-west-asia/Piroz-Perik/arabs-kurds-popular-culture"> عن صورة العرب في الموروث الشفاهي الكردي</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/mohammad-dibo/sectarianism-syria-popular-culture">الثقافة الشفوية والهوية في سورية - ملف</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-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by 4.0 </div> </div> </div> North-Africa West-Asia North-Africa West-Asia Syria sectarianism ميليا عيدموني Through Syrian eyes Arabic language Tue, 09 Oct 2018 09:07:02 +0000 ميليا عيدموني 119985 at When an Alawite man and a Sunni woman put love to the test <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>We should opt for a more genuine and balanced approach to identity, beginning with acknowledging differences and their importance for our social composition. <a href=""><strong>العربية</strong></a></p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//" alt="" title="" width="460" height="251" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>A painting by the artist Tamam Azzam. Image is published under fair use, all rights reserved by the artist.</span></span></span>Translated by Pascale Menassa </p><p><em>This article forms part of a special series focused on&nbsp;Oral Culture and Identity in Syria. It is the outcome of an ongoing partnership between&nbsp;<a href="">SyriaUntold</a>&nbsp;and&nbsp;openDemocracy’s North Africa West Asia&nbsp;in a bid to untangle the roots of sectarian, ethnic and other divides in Syria.</em></p><p>I was not aware of sectarianism in its theoretical sense when I moved from Qalaat al-Hosn to the mostly-Alawite Al-Zahraa neighbourhood in Homs City to begin my university education. I had never experienced love in its true meaning either. It was not until 2003 that I came across both feelings. </p> <p>The situation appeared simple. On one side stood a Sunni girl (19) who was extremely polite, obviously raised the Syrian mothers’ way we know so well. On the other, there was Ibrahim (23). He was a joyous, generous and surprising person. </p> <p>I had never met anyone like him. Ibrahim had golden skin, green eyes and a smile I thought was the prettiest I had seen. </p> <p>“I love you” is an expression many girls dreamt of and its impact on me was much greater than any evening prayer.</p> <p>I decided to keep my Sunni belief and that declaration of love that my Alawi boyfriend repeated completely separate. </p> <p>Ibrahim, for his part, also tried to overlook the strictness of his religious teachings and focused instead on the features of his Sunni girlfriend’s face. He would systematically avoid any talk about religion when we met and would try to distract us both from thinking about the future. </p> <p>A few months into the relationship, he took me to visit his parents in one of the villages of eastern Homs countryside. His father who was in his 70s and had lived in the shadow of sectarianism did not make an appearance. He could not stand to see me in his house. Still, he allowed the visit and left. The rest of the family—his seven brothers and their wives and children as well as his mother—gathered to witness the utmost audacity of the veiled Sunni girl who had come to meet them. This encounter went down in the annals of family history: a young Alawite man and his Sunni girlfriend. </p> <p>We spent the next few months walking in Akrama in Homs discussing our future naively. How will an Alawite man and a Sunni woman continue down this path? Ibrahim would say he was ready to convert to Sunnism if he had to. I was convinced he would, based on my conviction that the right religious conversion is into Sunni Islam, whatever someone’s initial religion may be!</p> <p>I set plans for Ibrahim’s conversion into Sunnism in motion by collecting prayers and supplications in an elegant notebook and repeating them daily. In my mind, Ibrahim’s facial expressions were always constant. But, when I gave him the notebook as a present, our sectarian upbringing manifested itself for the first time. He asked me to take back my gift and never offer him something of that nature again. The notebook only contained daily prayers and glorifications, but it was the first trigger for an endless discussion about the identities of Mohammad and Ali, and the nature of their relationship, all based on what each had heard within their religious community. </p> <p>I accepted the situation and thought only about love. To maintain our relationship, I had to manoeuvre on another front—that of my family, which was made up of conservative Sunnis (at least when it came to social norms). My mother was devastated by the shocking news that her daughter (a university student) had fallen in love and was “going astray.” </p> <p>My father’s opinion was quite different. My love story did not unsettle him that much, but my boyfriend’s sect did. I still remember his words, “An Alawite, you bitch?” </p> <p>He said it with an anger and condemnation I had never seen in him before. I let my father down with this brazen openness to a sect we fear and whose authority we dread. We repeat stories of thuggery, theft and corruption about many of its followers. We know the limits to our citizenship alongside them, and we know that on a scale of importance, they always beat us. </p> <p>We are part of a subdued Sunni community that feels national inferiority not only relative to Alawites, but also to all other sects, especially the wide Christian entourage in <em>Wadi al-Nasara</em> [Valley of the Christians, an area in western Syria that is part of Homs governorate, near Lebanon].</p> <p>Until the age of 19, sectarianism took a more benign form in my mind. It was limited to noting the differences between us and our Christian neighbours in the western countryside of Homs. As a minority demographically, we always felt inferior to Christians (who were cleaner, smarter, more polite, richer and backed by the regime). Oh, how we felt we were treated unjustly! Many of us were convinced and insisted that the afterlife was ours and ours alone. Everybody else was astray. </p> <p>I even remember the first time I entered Saint George Monastery [Deir Mar George] in the village of Al-Mishtaya during a field trip. I was eight years old at the time. My cousin approached the walls of the monastery and, together, we started reading the <em>fatiha</em> [the first chapter of the Quran] because we had heard so often that the stones of churches get nostalgic when hearing the Quran and the name of God!</p> <p>The stories relating to Christianity and Christians did not end there. We were told that when the priest drew the cross sign on the foreheads of all teachers, they spent the next two days suffering from a strong headache. One notorious teacher got off the hook, however, as she refused to let the priest continue with this fake ritual. </p> <p>Recalling such situations brings to mind the proverbs my grandmother and other women in the family would repeat. For example, “Let him be a muazzen [Muslim prayer caller] in Zgharta! [a Christian region in Lebanon]”, in reference to a person who stands out in a uniform environment; or “Mobilize oh Aisha” when a woman generates sedition or is treacherous [Aisha was a wife of the Muslim Prophet Mohammad]. My half-Lebanese grandmother who lived in a Shiite neighbourhood in Lebanon would repeat this proverb, even though, had she thought about it from a Sunni perspective, she would not have said it. </p> <p> I also remember my repeated visits to my sister who lived in the military homes of Tafas, in the southern province of Daraa. I recall seeing clear signs of that “hidden” sectarianism that spread fear in the Syrian public sphere. Privilege was determined by one’s sectarian affiliation, and at the top of the pyramid were Alawites. Sunni and Ismaili women who were married to officers had more in common. They knew their value, and they acted accordingly. Even so, their relations with their Alawite neighbors represented a hard-earned privilege and went as high as the ranking of their husbands.</p> <p>And I cannot forget one of my sister’s neighbors who loved my sister to the extent of considering her house “the house of God. In other words, a place so pleasant she wanted to visit or “perform pilgrimage to daily”. Still, she did not flinch when scolding her daughter in front of us and telling her “Damn that ominous face, just like Abu Bakr’s!” [Abu Bakr was the first Muslim Caliph after the death of the Prophet Muhammad].</p> <p>All this proves how deeply ingrained sectarianism is inside us. Even if we choose to ignore this reality by not talking about it or naming it, remembering our fellow Syrians proves how ingrained this feeling is and even opens the door to freeing ourselves from such slogans as “The Syrian People are One”. Instead, we should opt for a more genuine and balanced approach to identity, beginning with acknowledging differences and their importance for our social composition. We should ultimately realize that, indeed, there is a Syrian-Syrian conflict stemming first and foremost from sectarianism, and it can only be resolved by accepting sectarian differences, socially at least.</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/rafia-salamah/ancient-city-of-damascus-shwam-and-what-i-know-about-them">The ancient city of Damascus: Shwam, and what I know about them</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/north-africa-west-asia/piroz-perik/image-of-arabs-in-kurdish-oral-heritage">The image of Arabs in Kurdish oral heritage</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/north-africa-west-asia/dellair-youssef/am-i-son-of-arab-aisha-jokes-in-mixed-household">Am I the son of the Arab Aisha? Jokes in a mixed household</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/north-africa-west-asia/mohammad-dibo/oral-culture-and-identity-in-syria-dossier">Oral culture and identity in Syria - Dossier</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/north-africa-west-asia/omar-kaddour/when-name-yazid-is-neither-good-nor-bad">When the name Yazid is neither good nor bad</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/north-africa-west-asia/ahmed-khalil/other-and-oral-sectarian-culture-in-syria">The “other” and oral sectarian culture in Syria</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/north-africa-west-asia/mohammad-dibo/from-this-onion-is-sunni-to-nice-sunnis-like-us">From “this onion is Sunni” to “nice Sunnis like us”</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/north-africa-west-asia/mohammad-abu-hajar/our-sectarianism-not-just-regime-s-creation">Our Sectarianism – not just the regime’s creation</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/north-africa-west-asia/abdullah-amin-al-hallaq/i-am-from-salamiya-but-none-of-this-applies-to-me">I am from Salamiya but none of this applies to me</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"> Culture </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 4.0 </div> </div> </div> North-Africa West-Asia North-Africa West-Asia Syria Civil society Culture Syria and sectarianism Yasmine Merei Through Syrian eyes Mon, 08 Oct 2018 08:03:34 +0000 Yasmine Merei 119959 at كيف سيكمل "علوي" و"سنية" طريق الحب؟ <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p class="direction-rtl">استعادة ذاكرتنا عن الآخر السوري اليوم لا تشكل الدليل على هذا التجذر فحسب، بل تفتح باب الخروج من شعارات "الشعب السوري الواحد" إلى توازن هوياتي أكثر صدقاً. <a href=""><strong>English</strong></a></p> </div> </div> </div> <p dir="rtl"> <strong><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//" alt="" title="" width="460" height="251" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>عمل فني الفنان تمام عزام " الحب ضد الحرب " وتصويره لقلب يضم جميع أنواع الاسلحة والمسلحين وخليط للونين الاحمر والأسود. يستخدم بموجب الاستخدام العادل والحقوق محفوظة للفنان.</span></span></span>(</strong><strong>ينشر هذا المقال ضمن ملف يتناول الثقافة الشفوية في سورية، بالتعاون والشراكة مع&nbsp;</strong><strong><a href="">حكاية ما انحكت</a></strong><strong>، في محاولة لفهم جذور الطائفية والقومية وغيرها في سورية</strong><strong>)</strong></p> <p dir="rtl"> لم يكن مصطلح الطائفية بمعناه النظري جزءاً من وعيي يوم انتقلت من قلعة الحصن إلى حي الزهراء ذي الأكثرية "العلوية" في حمص لأبدأ رحلة دراستي الجامعية. كذلك لم يكن "الحب" بمعناه المعاش، وكان لعام ٢٠٠٣ أن يكون موعدي مع كليهما.</p> <p dir="rtl"> المعادلة تبدو بسيطة؛ فتاة سنية في التاسعة عشرة من عمرها، مفرطة التهذيب على طريقة الأمهات اللواتي نعرفهن جيداً في سوريا. كان "إبراهيم" فرحاً مباغتاً وسخياً، لم أجربه سابقاً. كان في الثالثة والعشرين من عمره، وجه بلون القمح وعينين خضراوين، وابتسامة كنت أراها حينها الأجمل على الإطلاق. كانت كلمة "بحبك"، وهي حلم الكثير من الفتيات، أشد وقعاً عليّ مما كنت أردّده صباح مساء من صلوات، وقرّرت أن أفصل بين تديني السني، وبين "بحبك" التي يلفظها حبيبي "العلوي".</p> <p dir="rtl"> كان يحاول بدوره أن يستغني بوجه حبيبته "السنية" عن صرامة تعاليم الطائفة، متجنّباً في كل لقاء لنا الحديث عن أي ما يمت بصلة للدين، محاولاً الانشغال وإشغالي أيضاً عن التفكير بمستقبلنا. وبعد مرور أشهر اصطحبني لزيارة أهله في إحدى قرى ريف حمص الشرقي. غاب والده عن استقبالنا، الرجل السبعيني الذي عاش تحت سقف الطائفة، لم يستطع رؤيتي في بيته، فأتاح لنا الزيارة وغاب، فيما احتشدت بقية العائلة، إخوته السبعة ونساؤهن وأطفالهن، وبالطبع أمه، لرؤية جرأة فتاة سنية ومحجبة في أقصى تجلياتها، أو معايشة الحدث الذي قد يكون الأكبر في تاريخ العائلة: الابن الشاب والحبيبة السنية.</p> <p dir="rtl"> قضينا شهوراً بعدها، كنّا نمشي في حي عكرمة بحمص، نناقش مستقبلنا بسذاجة: كيف سيكمل علوي وسنية الطريق؟ وكان إبراهيم يقول إنه مستعد لأن "يتسنّن" لو اضطر، وكنت مقتنعة أنه قد يفعل، استناداً إلى قناعتي أنّ التحول الديني الصحيح هو من أي طائفة باتجاه الإسلام السني!</p> <p dir="rtl"> كنت أتابع خططي لتحول إبراهيم إلى الطائفة السنية بجمع الأدعية والأذكار التي أردّدها كل يوم في دفتر أنيق، وكانت لملامح إبراهيم صورة واحدة في ذهني إلى أن أهديته الدفتر ذاك، لتظهر لأول مرة ملامحنا الطائفية حين يطلب مني أن أعود لألاقيه وأستعيد هديتي دون التفكير بإهدائه مثلها مرة أخرى. لم يكن الدفتر يحتوى إلا على تسابيح وأذكار يومية، لكنه كان السبب الأول لفتح نقاش لا متناه بيننا عن هوية محمد وعلي وطبيعة العلاقة بينهما حسب ما توارد إلى مسامعنا من المحيط الديني لكلّ منا.</p> <p dir="rtl"> قبلت، وفكرت فقط بالحب، الذي عليّ أن أناور على جبهة جديدة للاحتفاظ به؛ جبهة عائلتي السنية المحافظة (اجتماعياً على الأقل).</p> <p dir="rtl"> كانت أزمة أمي كبيرة جداً حين صدمت بابنتها (طالبة الجامعة) وقد وقعت في الحب، و"فلتت"، فيما كان موقف أبي مختلفاً جداً من القضية. أبي لم يكن معنياً بأني أحببت بل بطائفة حبيبي. ما زلت أذكر عبارة "علوي يا بنت الكلب؟" يطلقها بغضب واستنكار لم أعرفهما فيه من قبل. لقد خذلت أبي في هذا الانفتاح الجائر على طائفة نخافها، نخاف تسلّطها، نردّد حكايات التشبيح والسطو والفساد عن كثيرين من أبنائها، نعرف حدودنا في "المواطنة" معهم، نعرف أننا نليهم بمراحل في الأهمية، وفي محيط سني خاضع، يشعر بالدونية المواطنية ليس تجاه العلوي فقط، بل تجاه مختلف الطوائف الأخرى، ولا سيما محيطه المسيحي الواسع في وادي النصارى.</p> <p dir="rtl"> حتى سن التاسعة عشرة، كان تجلّي الطائفية في ذهني أكثر لطفاً، مقتصراً على الفروق بيننا وبين محيطنا المسيحي في ريف حمص الغربي، كنّا كأقلية جغرافية سنية نشعر بالدونية تجاه المسيحي (الأنظف والأكثر تهذيباً والأذكى والأغنى والمدعوم أكثر من النظام). ما أشد ما تنامت هذه المظلومية داخلنا، وأشد ما اقتنع كثيرون منا بها، مصرين على أنّ الآخرة لنا، وأنّ الآخرين، كل الآخرين على ضلال، لدرجة أنّي أذكر جيداً أول مرة دخلت فيها دير مار جرجس في المشتاية، أثناء رحلة مدرسية، وكنت حينها في الثامنة، اقتربت مع ابنة عمي من جدران الدير، وبدأنا نقرأ الفاتحة، لكثرة ما تردّد على مسامعنا أن حجارة الكنائس تحن لسماع القرآن وذكر الله!</p> <p dir="rtl"> لم تكن القصص لتنتهي هنا، فكلّ المعلمات اللواتي وضع "الخوري" الزيت على وجوههن على شكل إشارة صليب، قضين يومين من الصداع الشديد، باستثناء المعلمة التي نجت من هذا "البهتان" ولم تقبل أن يضع الخوري صليب الزيت على جبينها!</p> <p dir="rtl"> استعادة هذه المواقف اليوم تحيي في ذاكرتي أمثال جدتي ونساء العائلة، من مثل "خلي يطلع بزغرتا مؤذن" حين يتميز شخص ما داخل محيط نمطي، إلى "جيّشي يا عيشة" حين تكيد إحدى النساء، وهو مثل كانت تردده جدتي نصف اللبنانية، التي عاشت سنوات في حي شيعي بلبنان، ولو أنها فكرت به كسنية لما تلفظت به. وتحيي كذلك ذاكرتي عن زيارتي المتكررة لأختي التي كانت تعيش في مساكن طفس للضباط في درعا، ورؤية الطائفية "المستترة" وراء الخوف في الفضاء السوري العام، تتجلى بوضوح هناك، في بنية أقرب ما تكون لتراتبية امتيازات يحددها الانتماء الطائفي وحده، وعلى رأسه أن تكون "علوياً".</p> <p dir="rtl"> السنيات والإسماعيليات من زوجات الضباط أقرب لبعضهن من الأخريات، يعرفن حجمهن جيداً ويتعاطين على أساس هذا الحجم. ومع ذلك تبقى العلاقة بالجارة العلوية امتيازاً كلما ارتفعت رتبة زوجها. لا أنسى إحدى جارات أختي ممن أحببنها لدرجة أنها اعتبرت بيتها "بيت الله وأنا كل يوم بدي حج" لم تتورع، أو ربما لم يتورع لا شعورها، من توبيخ طفلتها أمامنا بالقول: "روحي يقطعلك هالوجه متل وجه أبو بكر".</p> <p dir="rtl"> كل ذلك يحيل إلى واقع تجذر الطائفية فينا، وإن كنّا تجاهلنا هذا الواقع بجهل التسمية وانعدام التداول، فإنّ استعادة ذاكرتنا عن الآخر السوري اليوم لا تشكل الدليل على هذا التجذر فحسب، بل تفتح باب الخروج من شعارات "الشعب السوري الواحد" إلى توازن هوياتي أكثر صدقاً، يبدأ بالاعتراف بالاختلاف وأحقيته وضرورته، وينتهي عند محاولة تشكيل قناعة بوجود نزاع سوري سوري، مردّه الأول الطائفية وحله الوحيد قبول التنوع الطائفي على الصعيد الاجتماعي على الأقل.</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/rafia-salamah/damascus-shwam-and-sectarianism">الشوام وما أدراك ما الشوام</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/north-africa-west-asia/Piroz-Perik/arabs-kurds-popular-culture"> عن صورة العرب في الموروث الشفاهي الكردي</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/north-africa-west-asia/dellair-youssef/son-of-aisha-sectarianism-syria">هل أنا ابن عائشة العربيّة؟</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/mohammad-dibo/sectarianism-syria-popular-culture">الثقافة الشفوية والهوية في سورية - ملف</a> </div> <div class="field-item 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</div> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by 4.0 </div> </div> </div> North-Africa West-Asia North-Africa West-Asia Syria Civil society Culture Syria and sectarianism sectarianism ياسمين مرعي Through Syrian eyes Arabic language Mon, 08 Oct 2018 07:53:30 +0000 ياسمين مرعي 119957 at المدارس السورية.. الباب الخلفي لعقلية التعذيب <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>تشكل المدارس السورية في صورتها العامة آلة عملاقة لتحطيم الفرد، من خلال بناء منظومة قيم ثقافية واجتماعية تتحول إلى مسلمات بعد عملية تكرار مضنية تستمر 12 عاماً</p> </div> </div> </div> <p dir="rtl"><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="// 01.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="// 01.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="460" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Illustration by Sulafa Hijazi. </span></span></span></p><p dir="rtl">في المرحلة الابتدائية سألتنا إحدى المعلمات في مدرستنا عن طموحنا، فجاءت آمالنا متنوعة بين الطب والهندسة والمحاماة، بعضنا كانت آمله مفرطة في واقعيتها كسائق حافلة أو موظف وما شابه، آخرين ممن لم يدركوا الأوضاع السياسية في البلاد بعد، أملوا في أن يكونوا رؤساء ووزراء ورجال دولة.</p><p dir="rtl">استمعت لنا معلمة الصف، ثم شتمتنا ونعتتنا بأسماء حيوانات وكلمات نابية ساخرةً من أحلامنا، ربما دفعها إلى ذلك الحذر السياسي، لكن بكل الأحوال فعلها كان محطم ومحرج.</p><p dir="rtl"><strong>الوعي والتعذيب</strong></p><p dir="rtl">أخذ التعذيب أشكالاً متعددة عبر التاريخ، ارتبطت بمدى وعي الإنسان بذاته، هذا الوعي الذي استغله بصورة مثلى للتحكم بمقدار ونوعية الألم الذي سيلحقه بالآخرين. ومن اللافت للنظر بشكل صادم، الجهد التبريري المبذول تاريخياً لتسويغ فكرة التعذيب، وتكرارها بأشكال مختلفة، أدت بالنهاية إلى الربط بين التنوع والرغبة في العثور على متع جديدة في الانتهاك، إما من خلال طريقة التنفيذ، أو من خلال ابتكار المسوغات التي تجيز التعذيب.</p><p dir="rtl">تعطي النقطة الأخيرة مجالاً واسعاً للجناة لممارسة وحشيتهم ضمن حبكة درامية تراجيدية تخييلية، تعوضهم أحياناً عن ملامسة الأثر المباشر لانتهاكهم جسد الضحية، لا سيما بعد أن تطورت العقوبة من إلحاق الأذى البدني، إلى التأثير على نفسية وشخصية الضحية. إلا أن العصب الأساسي الجامع لكل هذه الأنواع منذ العصور البدائية، حتى العصر الحديث، هو الرغبة في التشهير والإهانة، وفق ما يُلاحظ من كتاب "<a href="">تاريخ التعذيب</a>"، للكاتب الأمريكي بيرنهاردت ج.هروود.</p><p dir="rtl">على ضوء هذه المعطيات، أحاول استعادة الحياة المدرسية في سوريا، لإزالة غطاء "العقوبة" القانوني عن الممارسات المتبعة بحق الطلاب في المدارس، والبحث في دورها بخلق مجتمع "التعذيب" السوري، الذي صدم العالم بأسره بمقاطع الفيديو الوحشية منذ بداية الثورة عام 2011.</p><p dir="rtl"><strong> "يوزف ك" مكرراً</strong></p><p dir="rtl">تشكل المدارس السورية في صورتها العامة آلة عملاقة لتحطيم الفرد، من خلال بناء منظومة قيم ثقافية واجتماعية تتحول إلى مسلمات بعد عملية تكرار مضنية تستمر 12 عاماً، تجعل نقاشها أمراً مفروغاً منه، وغائباً عن ذهن الضحية منذ السنوات الأولى للدراسة.</p><p dir="rtl">يتجذر تغييب الوعي لدى الطلاب، من خلال التعذيب النفسي والجسدي، الذي يدفعهم إلى سباق محموم من أجل حفظ كرامتهم، التي كان من المفترض ألا تكون في موضع تهديد واختبار داخل المدارس.</p><p dir="rtl">ومع فشل معظم المدرسين في تبرير فوائد موادهم الدراسية في الحياة العملية، كمادة الجبر مثلاً، باتت المدرسة بتصميمها الهندسي المليء بالقضبان الحديدية، والجدران الخشنة المرتفعة، والبوابات المنتهية بأشكال حادة، والمدرسين الذين يتجولون في الأروقة والباحات بالعصي الخشبية، أقرب ما تكون إلى سجن، بست أو سبع حصص يومية من الأعمال الشاقة.</p><p dir="rtl">الاحتجاز القسري غير المبرر، سوى بالعرف، كون جميع الأطفال عليهم أن يلتحقوا بالمدارس "السجون"، يزيد من شعور الضحايا بالذنب، وهو شعور غير مبرر أيضاً، وغالباً ما يلتصق بشكل مبهم وخفي في شخصية الطالب.</p><p dir="rtl">هكذا يتحول الطلاب إلى نسخة مكررة من شخصية "يوزف ك" في رواية "<a href="">القضية</a>" لفرانز كافكا، الذي يدافع عن براءته أمام محكمة مجهولة، دون أن ينجح لمرة واحدة في معرفة التهمة الموجهة إليه. وتتطابق هذه الصورة مع ظروف الاعتقال في القرون الوسطى بمعظم دول أوروبا، حين كان يحرم المتهم من معرفة تهمته، أو توكيل مدافعٍ عنه، أو حتى الدفاع عن نفسه، ويبقى مجهّلاً ومسلوب الإرادة حتى تنفيذ الحكم بحقه.</p><p dir="rtl">وأتت مادة "السلوك" في المنهاج السوري، وهي مادة مرسبة يحدد درجاتها الأساتذة/السجانون بعد تقييم سلوك الطالب، لينصاع الأخير بشكل مطلق إلى لعبة "إثبات البراءة" أمام معلميه.</p><p class="mag-quote-right" dir="rtl">&nbsp;ظروف احتجاز السوريين في سجون مدرسية منذ عمر 6 سنوات، تبدو أشبه بحصص تدريب السيرك</p><p dir="rtl"><strong>بهجة السيرك</strong></p><p dir="rtl">لجأت السلطات إلى السجون تاريخياً إما لعزل المجرمين ومعاقبتهم، وإما لإعادة تأهيلهم ودمجهم في المجتمع، لكن ظروف احتجاز السوريين في سجون مدرسية منذ عمر 6 سنوات، تبدو أشبه بحصص تدريب السيرك، إذ يُجرد الإنسان من إرادته، ويتم تدريبه على أداء مهام معينة لإمتاع معلميه أولاً، وإتقانها ضمن المجتمع المصغر داخل حدود مدرسته، قبل أن يمارسها بحرفية في البلاد بعد إطلاق سراحه.</p><p dir="rtl">وتأتي متعة المعلمين من انصياع تلاميذهم، كون القدرة على الترهيب مرتبطة بمستوى كفاءة المدرس، فأكثر الأساتذة شهرة في المدارس بمقدراتهم "التدريسية" كانوا عنيفين. وعادةً ما يكون التعذيب بهدف استعادة هيبة السلطة وإثبات قوتها، لكن الأمر محسوم في المدارس السورية بين طرفي العلاقة، طالب المدرسة في السنوات الأولى من عمره، والأستاذ غالباً في آخر العشرينات وما فوق، رجحان كفة القوة وإثبات السلطة أمر مفروغ منه، لتأخذ العقوبة هنا بعداً يمسّ الرغبة بـ"تحقيق الذات" (كمدرّس كفؤ)، وما يرافقها من شعور بالاكتفاء واللذة عند إشباعها.</p><p dir="rtl"><strong>تخريب الخيال</strong></p><p dir="rtl">مع تطور معرفة الإنسان بذاته، واكتشافه لأساليب سيطرة جديدة تشمل السلوك والتفكير، انتقل التعذيب إلى مرحلة جديدة من الجسماني إلى النفسي، وهذا ما حافظت المدارس السورية على المزج بينهما.</p><p dir="rtl">لكن لتحقيق هذه الأهداف دون جهد يذكر، كون الأستاذ "السجّان" كسول، كان لا بد من تحطيم معرفة الفرد عن نفسه، ومنحه معرفة جديدة تتناسب مع قدرات سجانيه على التحكم والتنكيل بها، وتتمثل أولى هذه الخطوات، بتدمير الطموح ونسف الثقة بالنفس.</p><p dir="rtl">صورة أخرى من تلك الفترة لتوضيح العقلية السائدة، معلمة في ذات المرحلة الابتدائية تسأل طلابها الذين لم تتجاوز أعمارهم العشر سنوات، عن طريقة ضرب عائلاتهم لهم. استمعت هي لكل أصناف التعذيب، من استخدام العصي إلى الأحزم الجلدية، مروراً باستخدام الأيدي والأقدام، الابتسامة المتلذذة على وجهها، والرضى السادي من مشاركات طلابها، هي واحدة من أكثر الصور التي لا يمكن أن تفقدها ذاكرتي.</p><p dir="rtl">المطلوب فرد "عادي"، ذائب بين طوابير زملائه "العاديين"، المحرجين من أحلامهم. المطلوب مواطن مثالي مفرط في واقعيته، وربما يفسر هذا التأسيس سبب العداء الشديد بين معظم السوريين والخيال، ما لم يكن خيالاً مؤسساتياً، دينياً أو وطنياً.</p><p dir="rtl"><strong>الشهود العميان</strong></p><p dir="rtl">تحطيم الفرد في المدارس السورية، وإلغاء فرادته لتنصب في بوتقة قطيع جمعي، لا تجعل منه شخصاً محصناً وأكثر قوة ضمن مجتمع اشتراكي كما تدعي أجهزة النظام الحاكم، فالجماعة هنا منزوعة الإرادة، وتتماسك فيما بينها لإشباع حاجة السلطة في الرضوخ، لتسهيل قبول هذا التشوه في الفطرة الإنسانية السليمة التي تنزع نحو صون كرامتها.</p><p dir="rtl">هكذا يسهل على الفرد قبول ما يجري على نُسخه المكررة، ذوي اللباس الموحد، فاقدي الثقة والمجهّلين، الذين لا يدركون ذواتهم إلا بحواس ورغبات السلطة. استناداً إلى هذه الأرضية، يمكن للأستاذ/السجان تعذيب من يشاء وبأي طريقة يشاءها، فأفراد المجموعة التي يجري الفعل أمامها لا تُخشى عيونهم كونهم ليسوا شهوداً محايدين، ولا وجود لهم خارج رؤية السلطة المدرسية، فزميلهم المعذب يتلقى عقوبة استحقها وحملت مبرراتها الكافية لمجرد كونها صادرة عن السلطة. هكذا يصبح الطلاب كائنات منزوعة الإرادة أمام تعذيب زملاءها، فلا يفكرون بتقديم المساعدة، وهكذا تراهم الضحية فلا تتوقع النجدة منهم.</p><p dir="rtl">التصميم المدرسي يعبث بإتقان في "شجرة اتخاذ القرار" التي وضعها كل من عالمي الاجتماع، بيب لاتانيه وجون دارلي، فتكرار التعذيب وجعله روتينياً يضعف من قدرة الطلاب أساساً على تمييزه كحدث طارئ يستوجب التدخل، لذلك سيكون من الغريب أن نناقش مثل هذه الفكرة من أساسها في المدارس السورية، إنه شيء أشبه بمرور فصول السنة، أو تعاقب الليل والنهار، شيء ما كلي وفوقي، أسمى من مناقشته، هذا إذا غضضنا النظر عن محاولة تغييره "لا قدر الله".</p><p dir="rtl"><strong>"فرع مكافحة الطلاب"</strong></p><p dir="rtl">وكون الهرم المدرسي يسير بالعقوبة باتجاه واحد من أعلاه حيث الأساتذة، إلى أسفله حيث الطلاب، فلا سبيل للضحايا لكسر هذه "السلسة الغذائية"، إلا بأن يكونوا جزءاً من السلطة. وتتمثل هذه الفرصة بأن يتم اختيار أحد الضحايا ليكون "عريفاً" مراقباً لزملائه، ويجري اختياره بناءً على صفات شخصية لا تتعلق بالمؤهلات نهائياً، إنما بالولاء لمعايير السلوك المدرسية.</p><p dir="rtl">أذكر جيداً اختيار عريفاً في أحد الصفوف الابتدائية من دراستي، لم يكن يجيد الكتابة حتى، فأنجده المدرس بفكرة رسم وجه الطالب المشاغب، أو وضع علامة بقلم الطبشور على مقعده، هؤلاء هم "قادتنا" الشعبيين المستقبليين.</p><p class="mag-quote-center" dir="rtl">الخيار الأكثر رعباً بالنسبة للطلاب هو اختيار "عريف سري"، بحيث يصبح الجميع محط شك، ويرتاب الضحايا من بعضهم البعض</p><p dir="rtl">الخيار الأكثر رعباً بالنسبة للطلاب هو اختيار "عريف سري"، بحيث يصبح الجميع محط شك، ويرتاب الضحايا من بعضهم البعض، وهي وسيلة ناجحة بامتياز إذ تتوسع السلطة النائبة عن الأستاذ الغائب بتوسع دائرة الشك والريبة.</p><p dir="rtl">تفتقت هذه الأساليب في المرحلة الابتدائية، عن اختراع طريف عام 2012 لدى أحد صفوف الشهادة الثانوية في مدرسة "زاهي سمين" في جرمانا بريف دمشق، حين اختار الطلاب المقاعد الأخيرة من صفهم مقراً لجهاز أمني جديد حمل اسم "فرع مكافحة الطلاب".</p><p dir="rtl">العائلات الميسورة مادياً التي أرادت تجنيب أبناءها هذا المصير، ألحقتهم بالمدارس الخاصة مقابل أقساط مالية مرتفعة، تبدو بعد مقارنتها بالصورة السابقة لوضع المدارس الحكومية أشبه بالجزية، أو كفالة الجاني في أقسام الشرطة مقابل منحه حرية محدودة، على ألا ننسى بأن هذا الجاني لم يتجاوز عمره 6 سنوات بعد، ولم يقترف شيئاً غير مصادفة الجنسية العبثية هذه.</p><p dir="rtl"><strong>مقاربة أخيرة</strong></p><p dir="rtl"><strong>&nbsp;</strong>تختصر قصة ابتكار "الكرة النحاسية" التي وردت في كتاب هروود، وهي كرة تٌحبس الضحية داخلها وتسخن بالنار حتى تحترق، فلسفة التعذيب تاريخياً، إذ كان مبتكرها أول من مات فيها (ابتكرها إرضاءً للملك الحاكم فوضعه فيها فور انتهاء عمله).</p><p dir="rtl">النظام السوري الذي ابتكر أكثر الأساليب جنوناً ووحشية في التعذيب إرضاءً للسلطة، ثم أشرك ضحاياه أنفسهم في سلم سلطوي فيما بينهم، ليس خطراً فقط على حاضنته الشعبية أو معارضيه، إنما على كل محاولة وجود إنساني أيضاً، إذ أسس لعقلية تعذيب الضحايا للضحايا، فاتحاً أبواب الاحتمالات على آفاق لا تنتهي من صناعة الديكتاتوريات الربوبية الصغيرة، في حركة رمزية للـ"أبدية" التي يسعى الأسديون وراءها دوماً.</p><p>&nbsp;</p><div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> empty </div> </div> </div> North-Africa West-Asia Middle East Forum North-Africa West-Asia علي بهلول Sun, 30 Sep 2018 08:46:10 +0000 علي بهلول 119868 at الإسمنت الفرنسي، والأسئلة السوريّة، "المصنع" كمحرَض على التفكير <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p style="text-align: right;">يطرح كلّ عرض مسرحي سوري جديد في المنفى، أو أيّ عمل فنّي سوري آخر يحتكّ مباشرة مع الجمهور، سؤالاً كبيراً حول تمثيل السوريين وسرديّتهم (أو سرديّاتهم المختلفة) عن الأحداث السوريّة</p> </div> </div> </div> <p dir="rtl"><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title="The French factory Lafarge, suspected of having traded with ISIS"><img src="//" alt="" title="The French factory Lafarge, suspected of having traded with ISIS" width="460" height="307" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Chris Huby / Le Pictorium/Zuma Press/PA Images. All rights reserved. </span></span></span></p><p dir="rtl">منتصف العام 2016 نشرت صحيفة "<a href="">لو موند</a>" الفرنسيّة تحقيقاً استقصائيّاً من إعداد الصحفيّة الفرنسيّة <a href="">دوروتي مريم كلو</a>، يثبت تورّط فرع شركة لافارج الفرنسيّة في سوريا بعلاقة تنسيق مع تنظيم الدولة الإسلاميّة، وذلك في معمل جلابيا للإسمنت المملوك من الشركة منذ العام 2007، والذي يقع على بعد 150 كيلومتراً شمال شرقي مدينة حلب السوريّة، وذلك بعد ظهور صفحة على موقع فيسبوك تحمل اسم Lafarge leaks نهاية العالم 2015، قامت بتسريب رسائل إلكترونيّة بين موظفين سابقين في الشركة، وتتضمّن معلومات تثبت شبهة ارتباط الشركة بعمليّات تنسيق مع تنظيمات إسلاميّة مسلّحة في منطقة عمل المصنع.</p><p>التحقيق الاستقصائي، وسيرورة إنجازه، والأحداث التي جرت في المعمل السوري منذ تأسيسه وحتّى توقّفه عن العمل منتصف العام 2014، كانت المادّة الوثائقيّة التي بني عليها عرض "<a href="">المصنع</a>" المسرحي. من إخراج عمر أبو سعدة ونص محمّد العطّار، والذي قدّم مؤخّراً على ضمن مهرجان <a href="">Ruhrtriennale</a> في مدينة إيسين الألمانيّة، على أن يعاد تقديم العرض في مدينة برلين كجزء من برنامج مسرح <a href="">Volksbühne</a> للعام الحالي.</p><p dir="rtl"><strong>العامل السوري محرّضاً للمشاعر</strong></p><p class="mag-quote-right" dir="rtl">على الرغم من إفساح العرض مساحات للتعبير لشخصيّاته المختلفة، على ما تحمله كلّ منها من تناقضات، إلّا أنّ شخصيّة العامل السوري في المعمل، حظيت بمساحة خاصّة من سرديّة العرض</p><p dir="rtl">يقدّم العرض أربع شخصيّات. الأوّل رجل أعمال سوري ونجل وزير الدفاع السوري الأسبق (في إحالة إلى فراس طلاس) أدّى دوره الممثّل رمزي شقير، الصحفية الفرنسيّة من أصول جزائريّة دوروتي مريم كلو من أداء لينا مراد، وموظّف سوري مهم في المصنع كان يعيش في كندا قبل أن يقرّر العودة إلى سوريا في مطلع الألفيّة الجديدة مستفيداً من المناخ الاقتصادي الأكثر لبرلة الذي ساد بداية حكم الأسد الابن، لعب دوره سعد الغفري، أمّا الشخصيّة الرابعة فهو عامل عادي في المصنع، أداء مصطفى قر، تمكّن بعد هجرته إلى أحد الدول الأوروبيّة من التواصل مع الصحفيّة وتزويدها بوثائق ساعدت في كشف النقاب عن نشاطات الشركة الفرنسيّة في الشمال السوري.</p><p dir="rtl">على الرغم من إفساح العرض مساحات للتعبير لشخصيّاته المختلفة، على ما تحمله كلّ منها من تناقضات، إلّا أنّ شخصيّة العامل السوري في المعمل، حظيت بمساحة خاصّة من سرديّة العرض، وبخاصّة على المستوى البصري، حيث تمتلأ أرضيّة المسرح في المشاهد الأخيرة بمجموعة كبيرة من خوذ العمّال الميدانيّة، بينما يقدّم العامل مونولجه الأخير مختتماً حكاية مصنع لافارج المعقّدة بقصّة هربه الشخصي وعائلته، من جحيم سوريا، والمصنع الفرنسي الذي عمل فيه يوماً على أراضيها.</p><p dir="rtl">على مستوى "الصوابيّة السياسيّة" &nbsp;في الخيار السياسي-الدرامي للعرض، شكّل العمل بالصورة السابقة على شخصيّة العامل السوري في المصنع خيّاراً موفّقاً، لكون المسرحيّة تقدّم على الأراضي الألمانيّة، حيث من السهل أن يتواصل الجمهور (على الأقل عاطفيّاً) مع شخصيّة العامل السوري السهلة الممتنعة بالطّريقة الّتي قدّمها العرض، وبخاصّة في منطقة مثل منطقة الـRuhr التي قدّمت فيها العروض الأولى من المسرحيّة حيث تشكّل المعامل العملاقة جزءاً أساسيّاً من تراثها كمنطقة صناعيّة، كان معظم سكّانها عمّالاً بدورهم في مناجم الفحم والمعادن، إلى أن تغيّر وجه المنطقة ببطء منذ سبعينيات القرن الماضي، لتتحوّل المناجم السابقة في معظمها إلى متاحف ومراكز ثقافيّة، ومنها <a href="">PACT</a> <a href="">Zollverein</a> الّذي قدّمت فيه أولى عروض "المصنع".</p><p dir="rtl"><strong>مسرح سوريا في أوروبا</strong></p><p dir="rtl">باستثناء تركيّا الّتي يتناسب عدد اللاجئين السوريين الكبير فيها، مع حضورها السياسي والعسكري المباشر في الملف السوري، لا تلعب دول أخرى تضمّ أعداداً كبيرة من اللاجئين السوريين، مثل ألمانيا، دوراً مباشراً وصريحاً في الملف السوري، وكذلك الأمر بالنسبة لدول أوروبيّة أخرى مثل السويد، وهولندا، وفرنسا.</p><p dir="rtl">هذا "الاختلال" في التناسب بين حضور اللاجئين، والتورّط المباشر في قضايا بلادهم من قبل حكومات الدول المستضيفة، يشكّل مهمّة صعبة على الفنّانين-اللاجئين، أو المقيمين في هذه البلدان، لجهة خلق ارتباط مباشر بين القضيّة السوريّة وقضايا سياسية عامّة قد تشغل المتابع المحلّي. الأمر الّذي يشكّل معضلة في حالة فن يعتمد على العرض المباشر واللقاء مع الجمهور كالمسرح، وبخاصّة على مستوى عروض تنشغل بأسئلة سياسيّة مباشرة مثل "المصنع".</p><p dir="rtl">تطرح حالة العرض أيضاً تساؤلاً أبعد يتعلّق بمعضلة تقديم سردية الثورة السورية للمشاهد الأوروبي، فهل مشكلة تقديم السرديّة السوريّة معقّدة فقط في حالة وسيط فنّي "متطلّب" كالمسرح؟ أم أنّها مشكلة ثقافية أكثر جوهريّة، مصدرها كون الأحداث السورية تجري في مكان بعيد هو سوريا، التي يتواجد لاجئوها في بلدان أوروبا على الرغم من البعد الجغرافي (وربّما الثقافي) الذي يفصل بين المكانين، ما يتطلّب "جسراً أوروبياً" هو في حالتنا "لافارج" والصحفيّة الفرنسية-الجزائريّة في العرض.</p><p>تلمّح شخصيّة الصحفيّة كما قدّمها العرض بأنّها تتعرض للعنصرية في فرنسا، بسبب أصولها الجزائريّة، كما أنّها كانت قد قرّرت العمل في الصحافة بشكل موقّت لأنّها بحاجة لجمع المال لإنتاج فيلمها الوثائقي حول والدها المقاتل الجزائري السابق في حرب التحرير ضدّ الاحتلال الفرنسي. فكما قضيّة لافارج بتشعّباتها سمحت بخلق مساحة تقاطع مع المتابع، جاءت أيضاً شخصيّة مريم كمواطنة أوروبيّة من أصول مهاجرة تعاني مشاكل تتعلق بالهويّة لتشكّل دعامة أخرى لخلق ذلك "الجسر الأوروبي" مع الجمهور.</p><p dir="rtl">يطرح كلّ عرض مسرحي سوري جديد في المنفى، أو أيّ عمل فنّي سوري آخر يحتكّ مباشرة مع الجمهور، سؤالاً كبيراً حول تمثيل السوريين وسرديّتهم (أو سرديّاتهم المختلفة) عن الأحداث السوريّة، فبسبب عدم حسم الصراع السوري حتّى اليوم، يستمرّ التمثيل الفنّي للثورة وللصراع السوري بإيجاد طرق نحو خشبات المسارح (بالمعنيين الحرفي والمجازي) لمدن وحواضر مختلفة حول العالم.</p><p class="mag-quote-center" dir="rtl">وفي حالة العلاقة بين "لافارج" و"تنظيم الدولة الإسلاميّة" مثال يضيء من أكثر من زاوية على سوء الوضع في عالم اليوم</p><p dir="rtl">كلّ ذلك بانتظار حلّ ما للمسألة السوريّة، قد تبدو بعدَه سرديّة السوريين حول ما جرى هناك في سوريا أقلّ أهميّة من سرديّات أخرى، ربّما تكون هذه السرديّات المستقبليّة حول أزمة الهويّة للجيل الثاني من المهاجرين السوريّين، أو ربّما حول أزمات أخرى غيرها، لكن &nbsp;يبدو أنّ الأزمات ستظّل حتّى وقت غير قصير مادّة أساسيّة في تكوين مواطني سوريا، وأسئلتهم العامّة والخاصّة، بغض النظر عن مكان إقامتهم، وذلك في عالم يبدو فيه تحقيق المكاسب الماديّة متوحّشاً أكثر من أيّ وقت مضى.</p><p>وفي حالة العلاقة بين "لافارج" و"تنظيم الدولة الإسلاميّة" مثال يضيء من أكثر من زاوية على سوء الوضع في عالم اليوم، الذّي آمَن إرهابيّو التنظيم يوماً بضرورة <a href="">إدارة توحّشه</a>.</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%A3%D9%88%D8%B1%D9%87%D8%A7%D9%86-%D8%A8%D8%A7%D9%85%D9%88%D9%83-%D8%A7%D9%84%D8%B3%D9%81%D9%8A%D8%B1-%D8%A7%D9%84%D8%B1%D9%88%D8%B3%D9%8A-%D8%AA%D8%B1%D9%83%D9%8A%D8%A7/%D9%88%D8%B3%D9%8A%D9%85-%D8%A7%D9%84%D8%B4%D8%B1%D9%82%D9%8A">أورهان باموك والسفير الروسي: المخيّلة والواقع بين مولودين</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/north-africa-west-asia/%D8%A7%D9%84%D8%AA%D9%84%D9%81%D8%A7%D8%B2-%D9%85%D9%85%D8%AB%D9%84-%D8%AA%D8%B1%D9%83%D9%8A-%20%D8%AA%D8%B1%D9%83%D9%8A%D9%91%D8%A7-%D8%AF%D8%B1%D8%A7%D9%85%D8%A7-%D9%85%D8%B3%D9%84%D8%B3%D9%84/%D9%88%D8%B3%D9%8A%D9%85-%D8%A7%D9%84%D8%B4%D8%B1%D9%82%D9%8A">من جمال باشا إلى عفرين: سرديّات متصارعة على شاشة التلفاز</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-%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 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/%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> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by 4.0 </div> </div> </div> North-Africa West-Asia Middle East Forum North-Africa West-Asia وسيم الشرقي Sat, 29 Sep 2018 08:30:48 +0000 وسيم الشرقي 119860 at The Iran that is accepted in Syria <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>It is clear that there is consensus among the parties to the Syrian conflict to end or reduce the growing role of Iran in Syria. <a href=""><strong>العربية</strong></a></p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//" alt="" title="" width="460" height="316" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Picture by Depo Photos/ABACA/ABACA/PA Images. All rights reserved. </span></span></span>Like every football championship around the world in which contenders compete for a title, many regional and international powers have entered the “Syrian playground” and the title in this case is called “leverage in Syria”. the United States and the Russian Federation have been the main players, however, France, China, Iran, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Israel all compete for roles commensurate with the size of their influence within Syria.</p> <p>It seems that the Russian Federation is settling things in its favor and is preparing for the future of Syria as a whole: from writing the constitution to solving the refugee issue, as well as the reconstruction of the country.</p><p>This competition is taking into account the concerns of Washington, Tel Aviv and Riyadh in terms of removing Iran from Syria, or reducing its role at the very least.</p> <p>After 12 Russian Vetos, five of which were bilateral with China, The United States of America is now convinced that Putin will not give up on Syria; he will not accept that other powers circumvent his victory, either through humanitarian resolutions, as in Libya in 2011 or through claims of non-conventional weapons as had happened in Iraq in 2003.</p> <p>Consequently, US President Donald Trump has announced the imminence of his troops’ withdrawal from Syria after accomplishing their mission of eliminating the militants of the "Islamic State", and recently linked it to Iran's exit from Syria.</p> <p>The American announcement suggests a desire for a proposal from the players in the Syrian war, especially Turkey and Saudi Arabia.</p> <p>Ankara is the most enthusiastic supporter of nipping the Kurdish project in the bud, a project that was first declared as self-administration in early 2014 and later as a federal project for northern Syria in late 2016.</p><p>Turkey conducted two operations in Syria, the first under the name of the "Euphrates Shield" culminating in taking control of Jarablous, Azzaz and Bab, and followed by operation "olive branch" earlier this year. Through these operations, Turkey was able to control the ​​Afrin region, ending the project of Northern Syria Federation which included, in addition to Afrin, the Euphrates region (Kobani and Tel Abyad) and Al-Jazeera region, forcing it to settle in the eastern Euphrates River (American influence area) as there was a Russian-American understanding that prevented Moscow’s allies from crossing to the eastern bank of the Euphrates River except in Boukamal and Mayadeen. </p><p>In addition to that there is the military and security presence of the Syrian government in Qamishli and Hasakah, in exchange for Russia's approval for the US allies to control the city of Tabqa with its strategic dam and military airport, as well as the city of Manbij.</p> <p>The Russian Federation is trying to maintain a good level of relations with Saudi Arabia because of its great economic and influential religious weight, bearing in mind that Muslims constitute the majority of 7 republics within the Russian Federation. Moscow's support for Security Council resolutions in favor of Saudi-led Arab Coalition in Yemen, clearly demonstrates the strong relationship between them.</p> <p>Saudi Arabia's strong man, Mohammed bin Salman, has acknowledged that Syria is within Russian influence and that President Bashar al-Assad's regime must be strong in countering Iran's growing influence in Syria. He clearly stated: “I believe Bashar is staying for now. And Syria has been part of the Russian influence in the Middle East for a very long time (…) it would be better for Russia to have direct strength and to empower Bashar...these interests could reduce the Iranian influence significantly”.</p> <p>Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is coordinating with the Russian President Vladimir Putin in the smallest details, acknowledging the Russian role in Syria and the survival of Assad. But he demands removing Iran from the equation of the Syrian solution, and his defense minister Avigdor Lieberman expressed this clearly when he sent a message to Assad from the occupied Syrian Golan Heights: “Get rid of the Iranians, get rid of Qassem Soleimani and the Al Quds force, they are not helping you, they are only harming...Get rid of the Iranians and we can, perhaps, change our mode of life here”.</p> <p>Israel has accused Iran of firing rockets from Syria towards the occupied Golan Heights in a precedent of its kind, which has increased the determination of Tel Aviv to remove Tehran from areas adjacent to its border with Syria. This is what really happened when the Syrian army deployed along the border with the deployment of the Russian military police, and led to the removal of all the presence of militias close to Iran.</p> <p>There were peer-to-peer relations between Syria and Tehran under former Syrian President Hafez al-Assad in a manner that does not contradict the Arab consensus where Syria was the most important side of the Arabic triangle alongside Saudi Arabia and Egypt.</p><p>It is different under Bashar al-Assad; starting with the Iraq war, as well as the international pressure that followed the assassination of former Lebanese prime minister Rafik Al-Hariri in early 2005 and also the July 2006 war between Israel and Hezbollah.</p> <p>The situation differs significantly during the Syrian war, which broke out in 2011. It resulted in the same situation experienced by the two countries in facing the risk of disappearing in the midst of the so-called Arab Spring.</p> <p> It is clear that there is consensus among the parties to the Syrian conflict to end or reduce the growing role of Iran in Syria, and the biggest burden, in this case, will be on the Syrian government, which must find a way out of this crisis, and find a formula to maintain its strategic ally without letting it have the power to upset others.</p> <p>A return to the model of the Assad senior relationship with Tehran may be the best way to reach a political solution that is acceptable regionally and internationally.</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-4"> إيران المقبولة في سوريا</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/north-africa-west-asia/cihad-hammy/first-commune-in-kobane-construction-and-challenges">The first commune in Kobane: construction and challenges</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/north-africa-west-asia/samia-haddad/meet-syrian-regime-s-trusted-friend">Meet the Syrian regime’s trusted friend</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/north-africa-west-asia/anton-mukhamedov/forgotten-history-of-revolutionary-raqqa-and-its-deep-wounds">The forgotten history of revolutionary Raqqa, and its deep wounds</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/north-africa-west-asia/zeidon-alkinani/russia-s-cautious-role-in-syria">Russia’s cautious role in Syria</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"> 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 4.0 </div> </div> </div> North-Africa West-Asia North-Africa West-Asia Syria Conflict International politics war geopolitics Russia Iran Alan Hasan Through Syrian eyes Wed, 26 Sep 2018 11:11:36 +0000 Alan Hasan 119828 at The only Jewish state in the Middle East <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Israel is proving to the world that it is most certainly<strong> </strong>not a state of all its citizens.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//" alt="" title="" width="460" height="297" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Palestinian protesters gather as a shower of tear gas canisters fired by Israeli troops land on the field east of Gaza City, on Aug. 10, 2018. Picture by: Wissam Nassar/Xinhua News Agency/PA Images. All rights reserved. </span></span></span></p><p>Palestinians across Israel, the West Bank and Gaza are banding together in a general strike on October 1, in protest of Israel’s Jewish Nation-State Law and President Donald Trump’s ‘deal of the century.’</p><p>Israel’s Palestinian citizens recently committed a serious crime, a clear case of democracy-terrorism designed to damage<strong> </strong>the very foundations of the only Jewish state in the Middle East: Their elected representatives dared <a href="">bring</a> Israel’s new Nation-State Law to the attention of the United Nations. </p><p>The recently enacted law formalizes what has been the reality for Israel’s Palestinian citizens all along: a fundamental inequality – <a href="">legal</a> and institutional – that separates the Arab population, about a fifth of the citizenry, from the Jewish majority. Joint List Knesset member Aida Touma-Sliman <a href="">summed up</a> the situation:</p> <p> <span class="blockquote-new">“We went to the United Nations to protest the law that defines us, Palestinian citizens of Israel, as second-class citizens, legitimizes the occupation and perpetuates Israel’s place in the dubious company of ethnocentric, discriminatory and exclusionist countries.”</span></p> <p>And the response in Israel? Predictably,<strong> </strong>the reactions ranged from demands for an investigation of the Arab representatives<strong> </strong>by the Knesset’s Ethics Committee – as if<strong> </strong>there is any measure of ethics left in a parliament that legislates race laws – to calls for their<strong> </strong>expulsion from the parliament, the<strong> </strong>outlawing of<strong> </strong>all Arab representation, and physical expulsion to Gaza. </p> <p>Israeli Jews of a certain age may recall the popular<strong> </strong>“go to Gaza” curse, sometimes preceded by the observation that “the only<strong> </strong>good Arab is a dead Arab”. If the Arabs could not be killed, so the thinking went, at least there should be the consolation of sending them to Gaza, in a<strong> </strong>sort of a mini-transfer. Once there, Israelis reserved for themselves the right to teach the Palestinians a lesson should they get too uppity, as the people of Gaza have found in recent months. As they have protested Israel’s 11-year blockade on the tiny coastal enclave, the snipers of the most moral army have had their index fingers ready on the trigger.</p> <p>Israeli government ministers understand that it is time to<strong> </strong><a href="">put the Arabs in their proper place</a>. Transport minister Yisrael Katz suggested that the members of the Joint List move “to represent Gaza, or one of our other neighboring ‘democracies’.” Housing minister Yoav Galant argued: </p> <p><span class="blockquote-new"> “There is no room in the Knesset for those who act against Israel's interests. The time has come for the judicial system to permit outlawing these dangerous extremists and removing them from the Knesset.” </span> </p> <p>Not to be outdone, tourism minister Yariv Levin <a href="">proclaimed</a>: "In any normal country there's one definition for [their actions] – treason. I hope the judicial system tries them." He must have known that calling someone a “traitor” in Israel is akin to declaring hunting season on them.</p> <p>Separately or not, ongoing violent attacks on Palestinians in Gaza, the West Bank and inside Israel have been on the rise. </p> <p>For over a decade, Israel’s repeated, devastating attacks on the Gaza Strip, coupled with a prolonged siege, have had profound consequences. <a href="" target="_blank">Death and destruction</a> are evident everywhere: key infrastructure – roads, electrical systems, water and sewer – has collapsed; housing stock is destroyed; essential public health facilities are failing; children are malnourished; the economy is in dire straits and employment opportunities non-existent for most. </p> <p>Harvard researcher Sara Roy <a href="">wrote</a> last year: “Gaza is in a state of humanitarian shock, due primarily to Israel’s blockade, supported by the US, the EU and Egypt and now entering its 11th year.” As Roy reported, the question repeated again and again by Gazans was: “What do the Israelis want?” She wondered: “Why is Gaza being punished in so heartless a manner, and what does Israel truly hope to gain by it?”</p> <p>With Israel’s noose set tightly around Gaza’s neck, and the prospects for an end to the 51-year-long occupation now gone, a popular uprising brought about large weekly demonstrations this past spring and summer along the fence separating the Gaza Strip from Israel.</p> <p>Over several months, Israeli military snipers have “picked off” unarmed demonstrators as targets. The result: over 160 lives terminated and thousands of others afflicted with life-long injuries, among them many children, now doomed to survive with missing limbs, paralysis and damaged organs.</p> <p>These assaults reflected a purposeful Israeli policy: the selection of <a href="">ammunition</a> – "butterfly bullets" – designed to maximize bodily damage. Israel knows only too well that Gaza’s medical infrastructure is incapable of properly repairing such serious injuries – hence the large number of amputations.</p> <p>The Israeli human rights organization <a href="">B’Tselem</a> has declared: “Israel is treating the protest in Gaza as it has handled similar events in the past: Broad, unlawful use of lethal force at a heavy price to lives, baseless legal interpretations issued to justify this policy, and whitewashing the crimes within days.”</p> <p>After the recent massacres of unarmed civilians, Roy <a href="">warned</a>: “Gaza will not disappear. It will not ‘sink into the sea’, as the late Yitzhak Rabin once wished it would. Gaza is a human rights catastrophe and an ecologic disaster.”</p> <p>On the frontiers of the Wild West Bank, meanwhile, it is business as usual: the occupation is thriving, and expanding, intently and methodically. Recent legal decisions have empowered the Israeli government to push the boundaries yet further. </p> <p>The failure of the Khan al-Ahmar residents’ petition in Israel’s High Court of Justice against the demolition of their village is illustrative. According to Israel’s Haaretz <a href="">editorial</a>: </p> <p class="blockquote-new"> “The argument that the settlement enterprise is the act of individuals has been proven groundless. It is the act of a state that breaks international law, which prohibits an occupying state to settle its citizens in the occupied area.”</p> <p>The editorial writers make the further point that Israel’s self-serving legal rationalizations are being exposed for what they are:</p> <p class="blockquote-new"> “The legal viewpoint, that the Jewish settlement on ‘state’s lands’ in the territories is temporary, and therefore legal as far as international law is concerned, has been smashed on the rock of reality and Israel’s policy. Nothing is more permanent than this false transience.”</p> <p>In another case, the Jerusalem District Court recently ruled that an outpost settlement – these are viewed as illegal even according to Israeli law – could be “legalized” retroactively. Haaretz <a href="">reported</a> that the court accepted in “a precedent-setting ruling” the claim of the outpost’s residents that “transactions conducted in good faith under certain conditions are considered valid – even if they have certain legal faults”. The conspiracy to steal Palestinian land over many decades and in violation of international law was dismissed as similar to buying “stolen goods” in error. </p> <p>In parallel, Israeli human rights organization Yesh Din <a href=";theater">reported</a> on a “price tag” pre-Holiday<strong> </strong>Special: Ten attacks by settlers in ten days, in the first two weeks of Elul, the month of mercy that precedes the Jewish High Holidays. They included<strong> </strong>throwing rocks at Palestinian cars and homes, burning a tractor, uprooting more than 200 olive trees, destroying a water well, puncturing car tires, smashing windshields and scrawling hateful graffiti, as well as carrying out extremely<strong> </strong>violent attacks on individuals.</p> <p>In addition, those perpetrating crimes against Palestinians have shown that they are equally capable of hurting Jews. They recently <a href="">attacked</a> Jewish activists, members of <a href="">Ta’ayush</a>, who were trying<strong> </strong>to protect the Palestinian population in the West Bank – in place of an<strong> </strong>occupation army that has forgotten that is one of its duties.</p> <p>The true war criminals, however, those holding ultimate responsibility<strong> </strong>for such actions, are the members of all Israel’s governments and all its military commanders. According to international law, they are required to protect the occupied population, but<strong> </strong>instead they<strong> </strong>have done the exact opposite: They have overseen a process of ethnic cleansing whose purpose is to minimize Palestinian presence in the West Bank, the small territory remaining of the Palestinians’<strong> </strong>original homeland.</p> <p>Violence against Israel’s Palestinian citizens has escalated too. A Haaretz <a href="">editorial</a> from last spring noted: </p> <p><span class="blockquote-new"> “Over the weekend there was&nbsp;<a href="" target="_blank">a demonstration in Haifa</a>&nbsp;protesting the killings along the Gaza border fence. The violent suppression of this protest and the detention of 21 demonstrators, including Jafar Farah, the director of the Mossawa Center that advocates for Israeli Arabs’ rights, are a further sign of the growing restrictions on the democratic space available to this community.” </span> </p> <p>While in police custody, Farah’s knee was broken.</p> <p>More recently, three Palestinian citizens of Israel were <a href="">attacked</a> by eight Israeli Jews armed with knives and chains on Haifa's Kiryat Haim neighborhood beach. The gang was reportedly heard saying, “Arabs should not be at the beach” and “They should go to their ‘own places.’" </p> <p>Indeed, it is in<strong> </strong>the interests<strong> </strong>of the Jewish State to further minimize Palestinian presence in the public space. Because it has been impossible until now to expel Palestinian citizens from universities, hospitals and<strong> </strong>pharmacies, some restless Israelis have in the meantime set about the preliminary task of cleansing the beaches and the Knesset of Arabs. </p> <p>For those who care<strong> </strong>to examine the past, the patterns are unmistakable. Since 1948, a process of people replacement has been underway (I covered it in greater detail <a href="">here</a>): ethnic cleansing, now taking place daily, mainly in the West Bank, using a variety of methods and at different locales. The separation and isolation of the Gaza Strip from the West Bank, the siege and the attacks are part of that<strong> </strong>same process. </p> <p>Attacks against Palestinians, whether in the West Bank or within Israel proper, constitute pieces of mosaic in those<strong> </strong>patterns. The goal – in 1948, in 1967, and since then – has been as much territory as possible<strong> </strong>and as little “foreign” population: the natives that have<strong> </strong>lived in the country for, at the very<strong> </strong>least, many<strong> </strong>hundreds of years. This holds as<strong> </strong>true in Area “C” in the West Bank as it does on the Kiryat Haim beach in Israel. </p> <p>The Nation-State Law, the object of protest by Palestinian citizens of Israel and more than a few Jewish Israelis, is enmeshed in<strong> </strong>the same “cleansing” procedure. A<strong> </strong>strong people minimizes the presence – whether physically, visually or representationally – of a<strong> </strong>weak people: a process that is fundamentally illegal according to<strong> </strong>international law and profoundly obscene according to all ethical codes.</p> <p>Israel is proving to the world that it is most certainly<strong> </strong>not a state of all its citizens. Those who are not Jewish, the Palestinians whose families survived the <a href="">Nakba</a>, may have some rights – more than can be said for Palestinians in the occupied territories – but they are lesser citizens, citizens on constant probation.<strong> </strong>And just as their knees are much more vulnerable<strong> </strong>to police violence, they are entirely exposed to the<strong> </strong>Jewish pogromists, whether on the beach or in the Knesset.</p> <p>The members of the Joint List are right to<strong> </strong>reach out to the UN and the international community. In front of our eyes, the State of Israel is turning into a democracy for Jews only. And even some of those Jews are being put on notice.</p><p>What's next?&nbsp;&nbsp;</p><p><span class="blockquote-new">“Palestinians across Israel, the West Bank and Gaza are banding together in a general strike on October 1, in protest of Israel’s Jewish Nation-State Law and President Donald Trump’s ‘deal of the century.’ The&nbsp;<a href="">general strike</a>&nbsp;was announced this week by the Arab Higher Monitoring Committee, an umbrella organization that represents Arab citizens of Israel.” </span></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="/can-europe-make-it/ann-jungmann/uri-avnery-in-memoriam">Uri Avnery in memoriam</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/north-africa-west-asia/yosefa-loshitzky/ahed-tamimi-illegally-blond">Ahed Tamimi: illegally blond</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/north-africa-west-asia/tariq-al-shammari/yair-netanyahu-scandalous-man">Yair Netanyahu: a scandalous man</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/can-europe-make-it/rosemary-bechler/lethal-logic-of-monocultural-national-us-part-three-two-case-stu">How the lethal logic of the Monocultural National Us is at work in Zionism and Brexit</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/north-africa-west-asia/ali-ghaith/palestinian-jerusalemites-leading-israelis-towards-normalisation">Palestinian Jerusalemites leading Israelis towards normalisation </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> </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 4.0 </div> </div> </div> North-Africa West-Asia North-Africa West-Asia Palestine Israel Civil society Conflict Democracy and government Palestine and the Israeli Occupation Yair Svorai Wed, 26 Sep 2018 10:21:30 +0000 Yair Svorai 119825 at When rescue at sea becomes a crime: who the Tunisian fishermen arrested in Italy really are <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Fishermen networks from Morocco and Mauritania have released statements of support, and the Tunisian State Secretary for Immigration, Adel Jarboui, urged Italian authorities to release the fishermen, considered heroes in Tunisia.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="// 5.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="// 5.jpg" alt="lead lead " title="" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" width="460" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Protest in front of the Italian Embassy in Tunis on 6 September 2018 calls for immediate release of fishermen held in prison in Italy since 29 August 2018 Photo: Paul Scheicher. All rights reserved. </span></span></span></p><p>On the night of Wednesday, August 29, 2018, six Tunisian fishermen were&nbsp;<a class="OWAAutoLink" href="">arrested</a>&nbsp;in Italy. Earlier that day, they had set off from their hometown of Zarzis, the last important Tunisian port before Libya, to cast their nets in the open sea between North Africa and Sicily. The fishermen then sighted a small vessel whose engine had broken, and that had started taking in water. After giving the fourteen passengers water, milk and bread – which the fishermen carry in abundance, knowing they might encounter refugee boats in distress – they tried making contact with the Italian coastguard.</p><p>After hours of waiting for a response, though, the men decided to tow the smaller boat in the direction of Lampedusa – Italy’s southernmost island, to help Italian authorities in their rescue operations. At around 24 miles from Lampedusa, the Guardia di Finanza (customs police) took the fourteen people on board, and then proceeded to violently arrest the six fishermen. According to the precautionary custody order issued by the judge in Agrigento (Sicily), the men stand accused of smuggling, a crime that could get them up to fifteen years in jail if the case goes to trial. The fishermen have since been held in Agrigento prison, and their boat has been seized.</p><p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="// 1.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="// 1.jpg" alt="" title="" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" width="460" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>A map of where the fishermen of Zarzis work, in the open sea between Libya and Sicily. Valentina Zagaria. All rights reserved.</span></span></span>This arrest comes after a summer of Italian politicians <a href="">closing their ports</a> to NGO rescue boats, and only a week after far-right Interior Minister Matteo Salvini<a href="#_ftn1">[1]</a> prevented for ten days the disembarkation of 177 Eritrean and Somali asylum seekers from the Italian coastguard ship <a href="">Diciotti</a>. It is yet another step towards dissuading anyone – be it Italian or Tunisian citizens, NGO or coastguard ships – from coming to the aid of refugee boats in danger at sea. Criminalising rescue, a process that has been pushed by different Italian governments since 2016, will continue to have tragic consequences for people on the move in the Mediterranean Sea. </p><h2><strong>The fishermen of Zarzis</strong></h2> <p>Among those arrested is Chamseddine Bourassine, the president of the <a href=""><em>Association “Le Pêcheur” pour le Développement et l’Environnement</em></a>, which was nominated for the <a href="">Nobel Peace Prize</a> this year for the Zarzis fishermen’s continuous engagement in saving lives in the Mediterranean. </p> <p>Chamseddine, a fishing boat captain in his mid-40s, was one of the first people I met in Zarzis when, in the summer of 2015, I moved to this southern Tunisian town to start fieldwork for my PhD. On a sleepy late-August afternoon, my interview with Foued Gammoudi, the then <em>Médecins Sans Frontières</em> (MSF) Head of Mission for Tunisia and Libya, was interrupted by an urgent phone call. “The fishermen have just returned, they saved 550 people, let’s go to the port to thank them.” Just a week earlier, Chamseddine Bourassine had been among the 116 fishermen from Zarzis to have received rescue at sea <a href="">training with MSF</a>. Gammoudi was proud that the fishermen had already started collaborating with the MSF <em>Bourbon Argos</em> ship to save hundreds of people. We hurried to the port to greet Chamseddine and his crew, as they returned from a three-day fishing expedition which involved, as it so often had done lately, a lives-saving operation.</p><p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="// 3.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="// 3.jpg" alt="" title="" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" width="460" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>: Chamseddine Bourassine and Slaheddine Mcharek in the “Le Pecheur” Association headquarters in Zarzis. Valentina Zagaria. All rights reserved.</span></span></span>The fishermen of Zarzis have been on the frontline of rescue in the Central Mediterranean for over fifteen years. Their fishing grounds lying between Libya – the place from which most people making their way undocumented to Europe leave – and Sicily, they were often the first to come to the aid of refugee boats in distress. “The fishermen have never really had a choice: they work here, they encounter refugee boats regularly, so over the years they learnt to do rescue at sea”, explained Gammoudi. For years, fishermen from both sides of the Mediterranean were virtually alone in this endeavour. </p><h2><strong>Rescue before and after the revolution</strong></h2> <p>Before the Tunisian revolution of 2011, Ben Ali threatened the fishermen with imprisonment for helping migrants in danger at sea – the regime having been a close collaborator of both Italy and the European Union in border control matters. During that time, Tunisian nationals attempting to do the <em>harga</em> – the North African Arabic dialect term for the crossing of the Sicilian Channel by boat – were also heavily sanctioned by their own government. </p><p>Everything changed though with the revolution. “It was chaos here in 2011. You cannot imagine what the word chaos means if you didn’t live it”, recalled Anis Souei, the secretary general of the <em>“Le Pêcheur”</em> association. In the months following the revolution, hundreds of boats left from Zarzis taking Tunisians from all over the country to Lampedusa. Several members of the fishermen’s association remember having to sleep on their fishing boats at night to prevent them from being stolen for the <em>harga</em>. Other fishermen instead, especially those who were indebted, decided to sell their boats, while some inhabitants of Zarzis took advantage of the power vacuum left by the revolution and made considerable profit by organising <em>harga</em> crossings. “At that time there was no police, no state, and even more misery. If you wanted Lampedusa, you could have it”, rationalised another fisherman. But Chamseddine Bourassine and his colleagues saw no future in moving to Europe, and made a moral pact not to sell their boats for migration.</p> <p>They instead remained in Zarzis, and in 2013 founded their association to create a network of support to ameliorate the working conditions of small and artisanal fisheries. The priority when they started organising was to try and secure basic social security – something they are still struggling to sustain today. With time, though, the association also got involved in alerting the youth to the dangers of boat migration, as they regularly witnessed the risks involved and felt compelled to do something for younger generations hit hard by staggering <a href="">unemployment rates</a>. In this optic, they organised training for the local youth in boat mechanics, nets mending, and diving, and collaborated in different international projects, such as <a href=";id=86">NEMO</a>, organised by the <a href=";id=24">CIHEAM-Bari</a> and funded by the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs Directorate General for Cooperation Development. This project also helped the fishermen build a museum to explain traditional fishing methods, the first floor of which is dedicated to pictures and citations from the fishermen’s long-term voluntary involvement in coming to the rescue of refugees in danger at sea.</p> <p>This role was proving increasingly vital as the Libyan civil war dragged on, since refugees were being forced onto boats in Libya that were not fit for travel, making the journey even more hazardous. With little support from Tunisian coastguards, who were not allowed to operate beyond Tunisian waters, the fishermen juggled their responsibility to bring money home to their families and their commitment to rescuing people in distress at sea. Anis remembers that once in 2013, three fishermen boats were out and received an SOS from a vessel carrying roughly one hundred people. It was their first day out, and going back to Zarzis would have meant losing petrol money and precious days of work, which they simply couldn’t afford. After having ensured that nobody was ill, the three boats took twenty people on board each, and continued working for another two days, sharing food and water with their guests. </p> <p>Sometimes, though, the situation on board got tense with so many people, food wasn’t enough for everybody, and fights broke out. Some fishermen recall incidents during which they truly feared for their safety, when occasionally they came across boats with armed men from Libyan militias. It was hard for them to provide medical assistance as well. Once a woman gave birth on Chamseddine’s boat – that same boat that has now been seized in Italy – thankfully there had been no complications.</p> <h2><strong>NGO ships and the criminalisation of rescue</strong></h2> <p>During the summer of 2015, therefore, Chamseddine felt relieved that NGO search and rescue boats were starting to operate in the Mediterranean. The fishermen’s boats were not equipped to take hundreds of people on board, and the post-revolutionary Tunisian authorities didn’t have the means to support them. MSF had provided the association with first aid kits, life jackets, and rescue rafts to be able to better assist refugees at sea, and had given them a list of channels and numbers linked to the Maritime Rescue Coordination Centre (MRCC) in Rome for when they encountered boats in distress. </p> <p>They also offered training in dead body management, and provided the association with body bags, disinfectant and gloves. “When we see people at sea we rescue them. It’s not only because we follow the laws of the sea or of religion: we do it because it’s human”, said Chamseddine. But sometimes rescue came too late, and bringing the dead back to shore was all the fishermen could do.<a href="#_ftn2">[2]</a> During 2015 the fishermen at least felt that with more ships in the Mediterranean doing rescue, the duty dear to all seafarers of helping people in need at sea didn’t only fall on their shoulders, and they could go back to their fishing.</p> <p>The situation deteriorated again though in the summer of 2017, as Italian Interior Minister Minniti struck deals with Libyan militias and coastguards to bring back and detain refugees in detention centres in Libya, while simultaneously passing laws criminalising and restricting the activity of NGO rescue boats in Italy. </p> <p>Media smear campaigns directed against acts of solidarity with migrants and refugees and against the work of rescue vessels in the Mediterranean poured even more fuel on already inflamed anti-immigration sentiments in Europe. </p> <p>In the midst of this, on 6 August 2017, the fishermen of Zarzis came face to face with a far-right vessel rented by <em>Generazione Identitaria</em>, the <a href="">C-Star</a>, cruising the Mediterranean allegedly on a “Defend Europe” mission to hamper rescue operations and bring migrants back to Africa. The C-Star was hovering in front of Zarzis port, and although it had not officially asked port authorities whether it could dock to refuel – which the port authorities assured locals it would refuse – the fishermen of Zarzis took the opportunity to let these alt-right groups know how they felt about their mission. </p><p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="// 4.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="// 4.jpg" alt="" title="" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" width="460" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Protest in Zarzis against the docking of the alt-right ship C-Star, 6 August 2017. Valentina Zagaria. All rights reserved.</span></span></span>Armed with red, black and blue felt tip pens, they wrote in a mixture of Arabic, Italian, French and English slogans such as “No Racists!”, “Dégage!” (Get our of here!), “C-Star: No gasoil? No acqua? No mangiato?” ?” (C-Star: No fuel? No water? Not eaten?), which they proceeded to hang on their boats, ready to take to sea were the C-Star to approach. Chamseddine Bourassine, who had returned just a couple of hours prior to the impending C-Star arrival from five days of work at sea, called other members of the fishermen association to come to the port and join in the peaceful protest.<a href="#_ftn3">[3]</a> He told the journalists present that the fishermen opposed wholeheartedly the racism propagated by the C-Star members, and that having seen the death of fellow Africans at sea, they couldn’t but condemn these politics. Their efforts were cheered on by anti-racist networks in Sicily, who had in turn prevented the C-Star from docking in Catania port just a couple of days earlier. </p><p>It is members from these same networks in Sicily together with friends of the fishermen in Tunisia and internationally that are now engaged in finding lawyers for Chamseddine and his five colleagues. </p> <p>Their counterparts in Tunisia joined the fishermen’s families and friends on Thursday morning to protest in front of the Italian embassy in Tunis. Three busloads arrived from Zarzis after an 8-hour night-time journey for the occasion, and many others had come from other Tunisian towns to show their solidarity. Gathered there too were members of <em>La Terre Pour Tous</em>, an association of families of missing Tunisian migrants, who joined in to demand the immediate release of the fishermen. A sister protest was organised by the Zarzis diaspora in front of the Italian embassy in Paris on Saturday afternoon. Fishermen networks from Morocco and Mauritania also released statements of support, and the Tunisian State Secretary for Immigration <a href="">Adel Jarboui</a> urged Italian authorities to release the fishermen, who are considered heroes in Tunisia.&nbsp; </p><p>The fishermen’s arrest is the latest in a chain of actions taken by the Italian Lega and Five Star government to further criminalise rescue in the Mediterranean Sea, and to dissuade people from all acts of solidarity and basic compliance with international norms. This has alarmingly resulted in the number of deaths in 2018 increasing exponentially despite a drop in arrivals to Italy’s southern shores. While Chamseddine’s lawyer hasn’t yet been able to visit him in prison, his brother and cousin managed to go see him on Saturday. As for telling them about what happened on August 29, Chamseddine simply says that he was assisting people in distress at sea: he’d do it again.</p><p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//" alt="" title="" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" width="460" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Protest in front of the Italian Embassy in Tunis on 6 September 2018. Paul Scheicher. All rights reserved.</span></span></span></p> <hr size="1" /> <p><a href="#_ftnref1">[1]</a> Interior Minister Matteo Salvini has been <a href="">charged with kidnap</a> and abuse of power as a result of his actions during the Diciotti case.</p> <p><a href="#_ftnref2">[2]</a> A couple of days before news of the six fishermen being arrested became public, on 1 September 2018, French media Konbini News created a <a href="">crowd-funding</a> campaign to sustain the work of another member of the fishermen’s association “Le Pêcheur”. They launched an appeal to help <a href="">Chamseddine Marzoug</a> in upkeeping and buying new land for the cemetery of unknown persons, victims of the European Union’s Mediterranean border, buried in Zarzis.</p> <p><a href="#_ftnref3">[3]</a> Images from the protest against the C-Star and of the fishermen’s association’s work can be seen in Giulia Bertoluzzi’s documentary <a href=";app=desktop">Strange Fish</a>, coming out on 15 September 2018.</p><p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//" alt="" title="" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" width="460" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Protest in front of the Italian Embassy in Tunis on 6 September 2018. Paul Scheicher. All rights reserved.</span></span></span></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="/can-europe-make-it/hsiao-hung-pai/salvini-and-racist-immigration-policy-of-italy-s-new-government-is-giving-green-light">Salvini and the racist immigration policy of Italy’s new government is giving a green light to racial violence </a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/can-europe-make-it/charles-heller/for-open-migration-policy-to-end-deaths-and-crises-in-mediterranea">For an open migration policy to end the deaths and crises in the Mediterranean</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/can-europe-make-it/etienne-balibar/call-for-international-right-of-hospitality"> A call for an international right of hospitality on World Humanitarian Day</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"> Libya </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"> 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 4.0 </div> </div> </div> Can Europe make it? Can Europe make it? North-Africa West-Asia Libya Tunisia Civil society Conflict Culture International politics Valentina Zagaria Sat, 15 Sep 2018 19:38:40 +0000 Valentina Zagaria 119674 at زينة في عصر الإعلانات الرقمية <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p style="text-align: left;">مع بزوغ شمس الثورة المعلوماتية واندلاع شرارة وسائل التواصل الاجتماعي، أصبح بإمكان المُعلن أن يتعرف على الزبائن المحتمَلين بصورة أدق. فيستطيع معرفة الحالة الاجتماعية للشخص، والعمر، والميول الجنسية، والحالة النفسية العامة، ونوع الشخصية.&nbsp;</p> </div> </div> </div> <p dir="rtl"><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="// (1).jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="// (1).jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="307" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Photo by Joshua Fuller on Unsplash. Public Domain license.</span></span></span>العبارة الأكثر شيوعاً في المنازل العربية هذه الأيام هي: "ما أطول فترة الإعلانات!"، تصاحبها أصوات زفير حادّة وتململ على الأرائك. ولا تصدر هذه التصريحات العائلية إلا في وقت يتحملق فيه أفراد الأسرة حول التلفاز على شكل نصف دائرة، أو مثلث يتزعّم رأس حربته –والأقرب إلى الشاشة- أصغرهم، مفترشاً الأرض. وفي أغلب الأحيان تكون أسباب التجمهر هي برامج المواهب الغنائية أو الرقص أو قدرات الطبخ أو المسلسلات والبرامج الرمضانية. لكن في مساء يوم صيفيّ ساكن خارجاً ومشحونٍ داخلاً، علت أصوات العائلة وهم يتناقشون فيما إذا كان تمّام بليق، مقدم برنامج<a href=""> بلا تشفير</a> على شاشة الجديد، مستفزّاً لضيوفه لاستنباط الحقيقة أم لإثارة الرأي العام بلا وجهة.</p><p dir="rtl">&nbsp;تحفّظ أبو رشاد على رأيه مراقباً حركة فم زوجته بإمعان لعدم قدرته على سماع صوتها نظراً لتشمّع حاد في أذنيه، فاستكمل نهم بزر البطيخ المبهّر محرّكاً رأسه إلى أعلى وأسفل. أما عماد، الطفل ذا التسعة أعوام، فكان يتنقل بنظره بين أمه وأبيه منتظراً نهاية البرنامج بفارغ الصبر لكي ينتقل لقناة إم بي سي ٣، فغداً يوم عطلة. أما زينة، فشاركت برأيها الحاذق متذرّعة بأن تمّام يدفع بضيوفه إلى الزاوية وينهمر عليهم بالأسئلة المستفزة ليثير سخطهم وبالتالي يحظى مقطع الفيديو على مشاهدة عالية على وسائل التواصل الاجتماعي. تكلّمت زينة بنبرة واثقة دعمتها بأمثلة شاهدتها وهي تتصفح الإنترنت.</p><p dir="rtl">تصمت أم رشاد وزينة، وتتعالى أصوات الإعلانات فتنقضّ يد أصغرهم على جهاز التحكم لكتم الصوت وتتهافت الأيادي الباقية لفك قفل "الموبايلات" للرد على الرسائل أو تصفح وسائل التواصل الاجتماعي. المشكلة هنا هي أنهم أسكتوا إعلانات القناة الفضائية ليسقطوا في فخ الإعلانات الرقمية الحديثة التي فاقت سابقتها دهاءاً وحنكة. فبمجرد إنشاء حساب شخصي على وسائل التواصل الاجتماعي، يقرّ المستخدم بطرح معلوماته الشخصية واهتماماته وسِجلّ المتصفح خاصته في سوق الاكتتاب والمناقصة العالمية، والذي أصبح ينافس سوق وول ستريت من حيث الحركات المالية.</p><p dir="rtl"><strong>&nbsp;الإعلانات التقليدية</strong></p><p dir="rtl">في ماضٍ ليس ببعيد، اعتاد المزوّدون الإعلان عن الخدمة أو المنتج الذي يقدمونه بطرق محدودة وعامّة؛ بوضع الإعلانٍ في الجريدة، أو على القنوات التلفزيونية، أو عبر أثير الراديو أو حتى عن طريق إعلانات كبيرة على نواصي الشوارع. لم يكن يستطيع المزوّد حينها اختيار الجمهور الذي سيشاهد الإعلان، وبالتالي ما من شيء يضمن تحول المشاهد إلى زبون، عدا عن غياب المؤشرات التي تدل على نجاعة الحملة الإعلانية. لذلك، انحصرت فاعليّة الإعلان بمقدرة المعلن - أو الشركة المسؤولة عن إنتاج الإعلان- &nbsp;بمعرفة ما يحتاجه الناس وكيف يفكرون وكيف يشعرون، ومن بعدها تصميم حملة إعلانية استناداً إلى هذه المعلومات، والتي تحتمل الخطأ أو الصواب. إذ كان الإعلان في وقتها ضربة حظ، إما أن تصيب أو تخيب.</p><p dir="rtl">&nbsp;وفي حين أن أول <a href=";v=Ss6v5bpxODo">إعلان تلفزيوني</a> لشركة ساعات عام ١٩٤١ كانت مدته لا تتجاوز العشر ثوان، وكان يفتقر إلى البهرجة التي نراها اليوم في الإعلانات، إلا أنه استخدم استراتيجية لا زلنا نستخدمها في يومنا هذا، ألا وهي الإسقاط (Projection)؛ حيث يُظهر الإعلان صورة خريطة الولايات المتحدة الأمريكية يتمركز فيها شعار شركة "بولوڤا" يرافقها شعار محكي: "أمريكا تعمل على وقت بولوڤا". هنا، أسقط الإعلان نمط حياة على من يُشاهد الإعلان وأكد للأمريكيين أن بلادهم قاطبة تعمل على وقت الشركة، فبالتالي على السكان أيضاً أن يستخدموا نفس الساعة لمعرفة الوقت على أمل أن يلتحقوا بالكلّ.</p><p dir="rtl">هناك استراتيجيات أخرى اتبعها المسوقون لإقناع المستهلكين وما زالوا يستخدمونها حتى الآن مع تطوير في استخدام الأدوات المعبّرة عنها. منها: &nbsp;&nbsp;</p><p dir="rtl">1- الإيحاء: وهي استخدام نقاط خوف أو قلق المستهلك حول موضوع معين وموضعة المنتج أو الخدمة كحلّ وحيد لهذه المعضلة. ومن ناحية أخرى، استخدام الرغبات الفطرية عند الإنسان وتغذيتها بمادة <a href="">الإعلان،</a> كما تفعل شركات الطعام والأغذية.</p><p dir="rtl">2- الإقناع: هنا يُقارن المسوّق بين منتجين منافسين، ويغدق في إظهار المزايا الحسنة لمنتجه على المنتج الآخر. وتعتمد هذه الاستراتيجية على عنصر الإبداع في إنارة الإيجابيات والعزوف عن ذكر النواقص. من أفضل الأمثلة على هذا التكتيك هو <a href="">إعلان</a> شركة أبل، حيث قارنت جهازها بجميع الأجهزة الأخرى في السوق، وعلى الأغلب كانت تقصد منافستها الشرسة شركة سامسونغ.</p><p dir="rtl">3- الآلية: وهنا يتم تكرار كلمة، أو شعار، أو صورة، أو حدث لإعادة التأكيد وإقناع المستهلك المحتمل بشراء المنتج أو الدفع مقابل الخدمة. على سبيل المثال، شعار شركة نايكي (Nike) : فقط افعلها! (Just Do it!) والتي تم استخدامها بداية في عام ١٩٨٨ ولاتزال عالقة في أذهان الناس حتى يومنا هذا.</p><p class="mag-quote-right" dir="rtl">&nbsp;جميع هذه الاستراتيجيات تعتمد على التلاعب بسيكولوجية الإنسان وتقويضها لإحراز أكبر كمّ من الربح تحت شعار "الزبون أولاً"</p><p dir="rtl">&nbsp;جميع هذه الاستراتيجيات تعتمد على التلاعب بسيكولوجية الإنسان وتقويضها لإحراز أكبر كمّ من الربح تحت شعار "الزبون أولاً". ويتم استثمار الوقت والجهد والمال في دراسة البشر والغوص في نفسياتهم حتى يتمكن المسوّق من معرفة الطريقة المُثلى لدسّ المنتج أو الخدمة في العقول سواء التي تتابع الإعلان التلفزيوني أو عند النظر إلى الإعلان المطبوع في الجرائد والمجلات وغيرها.</p><p dir="rtl"><strong>الإعلانات الرقمية</strong></p><p dir="rtl">&nbsp;ومع بزوغ شمس الثورة المعلوماتية واندلاع شرارة وسائل التواصل الاجتماعي، أصبح بإمكان المُعلن أن يتعرف على الزبائن المحتمَلين بصورة أدق. فيستطيع معرفة الحالة الاجتماعية للشخص، والعمر، والميول الجنسية، والحالة النفسية العامة، ونوع الشخصية. بالإضافة إلى ذلك، يتم معرفة موقع مستخدم الإنترنت عن طريق تحديد عنوان (IP) إذ أن كل شخص يستخدم الشبكة العنكبوتية لديه سلسلة معينة من الأرقام تحدد موقع الجهاز المستخدم للتواصل عبر الشبكة تحت نطاق بروتوكول الإنترنت.</p><p dir="rtl">&nbsp;هل يحب هذا الشخص الترحال؟ هل تهتم تلك الفتاة بمستحضرات التجميل؟ هل تبحث هذه العائلة عن بيت جديد؟ ما هي الآراء السياسية لسكان هذه المنطقة؟ هل سيُشاركون في تلك المسيرة؟ هل، هل، هل...</p><p dir="rtl">جميع المعلومات التي يتم تجميعها عن مستخدمي وسائل التواصل الاجتماعي، أو مرتادي المواقع الالكترونية، يتم وضعها في فئات وتُطرَح في سوق الاكتتاب العالمي.</p><p dir="rtl"><strong>&nbsp;نحن نعرف ما تحتاجون!</strong></p><p dir="rtl">&nbsp;نعود إلى عائلة زينة التي تشرذم أعضائها عند بدء فقرة الإعلانات التلفزيونية. استعدّت زينة لولوج عالم الفيسبوك، وتسارعت أناملها للدخول إلى صفحتها لترى إذا كانت صديقاتها قد نشرن رأيهنّ بحلقة "بلا تشفير" حتى تلك اللحظة. في هذا الوقت الذي تقوم فيه زينة بتشبّع المحتوى الظاهر على شاشتها، وعلى غير علمها، تَدْخل معلوماتها في المزاد العلنيّ:</p><p dir="rtl">&nbsp;الوسيط: لديّ فتاة عمرها ١٧ عاماً، عزباء، تسكن في عمان – الأردن، شارع الجامعة، منزل رقم ٩. أنهت دراستها الثانوية منذ فترة قصيرة وتبحث عن جامعاتٍ تعلّم الاقتصاد في بريطانيا. كما قامت بالإعجاب بصفحات مختصة بالمنح الدراسية. من يشتري؟</p><p dir="rtl">المعْلِن ١: هل هي معنية فقط بالاقتصاد أم أظهرت اهتماماً بمواضيع أخرى؟&nbsp;&nbsp;</p><p dir="rtl">الوسيط: الاقتصاد فقط.</p><p dir="rtl">المعْلِن ١: لدينا مساقات في موضوع الاقتصاد لكنها جزء من برنامج إدارة. (ينسحب من العطاء)</p><p dir="rtl">المعْلِن ٢: أنا لدي برنامج اقتصاد ونوفّر منح دراسية للأردنيين. كم تريد لقاء الإعلان لها؟</p><p dir="rtl">الوسيط: خمس سنتات لترى الإعلان، وإن ضغطت الرابط دولار واحد.</p><p dir="rtl">المعْلِن ٢: ثلاث سنتات، وإن ضغطت ثمانون سنتاً.</p><p dir="rtl">الوسيط: تم البيع!</p><p dir="rtl">في هذه اللحظة، يظهر إعلان الجامعة ضمن المحتوى على صفحة زينة مُرَمّز ب"إعلان مدفوع" أو (Sponsored). ترى زينة الإعلان، لكنها لا تضغط الرابط لأن وجه تميم قد ظهر مجدداً على شاشة التلفاز، فيدفع المعلن ثلاث سنتات فقط.</p><p dir="rtl">يزيل عماد كتم الصوت ويغلق أفراد العائلة شاشات هواتفهم، وعلى عُجال، تُنهي أم رشاد مكالمتها مع ابنها رشاد، الذي يسكن في مدينة الزرقاء مع عائلته ويتابعون نفس البرنامج.&nbsp;&nbsp;</p><p dir="rtl"><strong>البرامج التلفزيونية</strong></p><p dir="rtl">بعض البرامج المستقطبة لجميع أفراد الأسرة غالباً ما تقع في خانة البرامج الحوارية التي تتناول مواضيع مثيرة كالسحر والشعوذة والمتحولين جنسياً. وغيرها تكون تلك التي تضع المشاهير في مواقف مخيفة فتدفعهم للصراخ وتدفعنا للضحك لأننا فرحين أننا لسنا بمكانهم وأن ما نراه على الشاشة ليس حقيقياً.&nbsp;&nbsp;</p><p dir="rtl">تهدف هذه البرامج في العادة إلى اللعب على وتر المشاعر، فترفع مستويات الحماسة مستندة إلى مبادئ أولية في علم النفس. ولأن الإنسان بطبعه مخلوق فضوليّ واجتماعي وانعكاسيّ، تجدنا نضع أنفسنا مكان البطل في الفيلم أو مكان المغنية الموهوبة التي كانت قد حلمت بفرصة اعتلاء المسرح منذ طفولتها والآن هي تعيشُ الحلم. المأرب السطحي المزمع لهذه البرامج هو التسلية، لكن من ناحية أعمق، يكون الهدف ماليّ بحت. فالبرامج ذات الميزانية الضخمة تُعرضُ في أيام نهاية الأسبوع لضمان وجود أكبر عدد من المشاهدين، فضلاً عن ذلك، فإنه يتم تخصيص جزء كبير من الميزانية لأغراض تسويقية للإخبار عن البرنامج وتشويق المشاهدين. بالتالي، فكرة البرنامج نفسها هي العقاف حتى يتسنّى للممولين استرجاع استثمارهم وتحقيق الربح.</p><p dir="rtl">وبما أن المشاهد لا يدفع شيئاً بمقابل الفرصة لمشاهدة البرنامج على التلفاز التقليدي، خرجت فكرة الإعلانات التلفزيونية بحيث أن القناة تعرض برنامجاً مميّزاً يضمن وجود أكبر عدد من المشاهدين، بالتالي يكون من المنطقي تقسيم الحلقة إلى أجزاء يتوسطها فقرات إعلانية. أما الإعلانات التي تسبق لحظات هامة في حياة الحلقة فهي تُباع بأعلى سعر لأنها تسقط في خانة "ذروة الذروة". أما في شهر رمضان، فتتزايد الإعلانات لأنه ذلك الوقت من السنة حيث يتواجد العديد من المشاهدين –الزبائن المحتملين- أمام شاشات التلفاز، والذي سيرفع من أسعار الإعلانات وبالتالي الربح. ففي شهر رمضان ٢٠١٨، تم تقدير أسعار الحملات الإعلانية على القنوات العربية بقيمة تفوق <a href="">المليار</a> جنيه مصري (تقريباً ٥٦ مليون دولار)، وذلك بعد طرح باقاتها الإعلانية بحسب جدول برامجها.</p><p dir="rtl">في وقت ما، كان الإنفاق الإعلاني في منطقة الشرق الأوسط وشمال إفريقيا بأكملها يتجاوز الخمسة <a href="">مليارات</a> دولار. لكن انخفض إجمالي الاستثمارات في سوق الإعلانات بنسبة 10 في المائة في عام 2016، وفقًا لما ذكره إيلي خوري، الرئيس التنفيذي لمجموعة أومنيكوم الإعلامية في الشرق الأوسط وشمال أفريقيا، في مقابلة له. يُعزى هذا الانخفاض الحاد نتيجة لاضطرابات جيوسياسية أثّرت في الوطن العربي كاملاً.</p><p dir="rtl">وبهدف زيادة الأرباح، تقوم بعض البرامج، والتي تكون ممولة عن طريق شركات بزجّ منتجاتها في سياق الحلقة بطريقة ذكية. <a href="">فأحلام</a> ناجت الكنتاكي وشيرين لم تقل له ما كان في نفسها في استوديو <a href="">كوكاكولا</a>. وبالتالي يتولّد لدى المشاهد - الذي يتأثر بالمحتوى العام والتجربة خلفه - الرغبة في أكل الدجاج المقرمش وتسهيل مروره إلى المعدة بالماء الداكن الغازيّ وهم يدندنون لحن الأغنية.</p><p dir="rtl">يُطلق على هذه الطريقة في الإعلان: الفطري أو الداخلي (Native Advertising)، وهو شكل من أشكال وسائل الإعلان المدفوعة بحيث تتبع التجربة الإعلانية الشكل الطبيعي لوظيفة تجربة المستخدم التي يتم إظهارها أمامه، بحيث يكون الإعلان متماشياً مع أحداث البرنامج أو المادة الفنية، ويتم وضعه بشكل انسيابي وغير مجتاح لتجربة المتلقّي. فكثيراً ما نرى الشركات الكبرى تموّل أعمالاً فنية لمشاهير من أجل إظهار منتجاتهم داخل العمل بطريقة سلسة وغير هجومية تتناسب والمستوى الفني للعمل. مثال على ذلك فيديو أغنية الفنانة اللبنانية نجوى كرم "يخليلي قلبك"، والذي تم <a href="">تمويله</a> عن طريق شركة فولكس واغن للسيارات ومجوهرات معوّض.</p><p class="mag-quote-center" dir="rtl">بالتالي، يجد الشخص نفسه محاطاً بالإعلانات بشكل مباشر وغير مباشر، وهدفها الأساسي إقناعه بصرف الأموال تحت تأثير معين لضمان أقصى حد من الربح للشركات</p><p dir="rtl">بالتالي، يجد الشخص نفسه محاطاً بالإعلانات بشكل مباشر وغير مباشر، وهدفها الأساسي إقناعه بصرف الأموال تحت تأثير معين لضمان أقصى حد من الربح للشركات. ومع تطور البشرية وتعمّق مفهوم الرأسمالية، ظهرت وسائل جديدة ومتطورة تعتمد على خوارزميات مقعّدة تحاول فهم أفكار الإنسان ومشاعره. يتم استخدام نتائج هذه العمليات الحسابية في عرض الإعلانات المناسبة لهذا الشخص بعينه وفي اللحظة المناسبة، تقريباً. عدا أن هذه المعلومات - التي نُدخلها بأنفسنا - يتم استخدامها في مجال الاستخبارات الدولية والمحلية، فإنها تُشكّل سجلّاً مُفصلاً عن حيواتنا. في المستقبل القريب، ومع التطوّر الطردي لمفهوم البيانات الكبيرة (Big Data) ومع تطوّر الأجهزة الحاسبة، ستظهر طرق جديدة لاستخدام المعلومات الشخصية لأهداف مادّية بحتة تحت غطاء: توفير تجربة مميزة للمستخدم. فكما مشاهدة التلفاز التقليدي وسماع الراديو مجانيّ نسبياً، والتي تقوم الإعلانات بإدارة عجلة السوق الترفيهي فيها، فإن استخدام وسائل التواصل الاجتماعي أيضاً مجاني لذلك يستبيح المستثمرين استعمال معلومات المستخدمين من أجل تحقيق الربح.</p><p dir="rtl">أما الأشخاص المحللين، فلا تنطلي عليهم الحيلة، لأن الأحداث في حيواتهم لا تتصل بعضها ببعض ولا يتأثرون بالمحتوى العام، بل ينظرون إلى الظواهر بشكل حيادي ويُخضعونها لنقد منفصل كما أثبتت <a href="">دراسة</a> مؤخراً. وهؤلاء هم من لا يتفاعلون مع الكم الهائل من الإعلانات المباشرة والمبطنة، وفقط يتوجهون إلى المزوّد عند حاجتهم لمنتج أو خدمة معينة في وقت يناسبهم وغير مفروض عليهم. لكن، هل هذا التطور في التسويق وجمع البيانات عن طريق الشبكة العنكبوتية هو تكتيك ممنهج لضمان تحويل المحللين إلى زبائن هم أيضاً؟</p><p dir="rtl">تحديث:- زينة لم تجد منحة لدراسة الاقتصاد في بريطانيا وقررت أن تنشئ قناة على اليوتيوب وتصبح "مؤثّرة اجتماعية". بذلك تستطيع جمع أعداد كبيرة من المتابعين مما سيمكّنها من الإعلان للشركات المهتمة على قناتها. وعند توفيرها للمبلغ المطلوب ستدرس الاقتصاد في بريطانيا.&nbsp;&nbsp;</p><p>&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/ali-ghaith">مقلوبة</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <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> Middle East Forum North-Africa West-Asia Ali Ghaith Sat, 15 Sep 2018 08:46:10 +0000 Ali Ghaith 119667 at Uri Avnery in memoriam <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>He leaves behind a wealth of books, articles and emails, that will continue to inspire, representing hope and reconciliation through the dark decades, that alas, are still with us.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//" alt="" title="" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" width="460" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Uri Avnery, June, 2006. Wikicommons/ Uri Avnery. Some rights reserved.</span></span></span></p><p>Some years ago I was asked to go and collect Uri Avnery from the airport. Although I had been reading his regular email reports from Israel, I wondered how I would recognise him. I needn’t have worried, the moment I saw a magnificent old man, complete with a head of impressive white hair and an equally impressive white beard, striding towards me, I knew I had found my quarry. Uri looked every inch the Old Testament prophet I hadn’t dared to expect.</p> <p>It was an appropriate reaction, Uri was a prophet, looking into the future that he saw for Israel and warning of the wrath to come, if the country he loved, did not change course.</p> <p>After leaving Germany aged fourteen, Uri joined an extremist nationalist group and fought in the War of Independence in 1948. Then, like so many other prophets, he had a Road to Damascus and saw that violence would not solve the problem of the displaced Palestinians. For the rest of his long life, he fought for a peaceful and fair settlement, one made by consulting with the Palestinians themselves. Until around 1970, this seemed possible and Uri put the case both through the journals he edited and wrote for and by becoming a member of the Knesset. &nbsp;&nbsp;</p><p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-medium'><a href="//אורי_אבנרי_-_הפגישה_עם_ערפאת_בביירות_הנצורה,_1982_2.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//אורי_אבנרי_-_הפגישה_עם_ערפאת_בביירות_הנצורה,_1982_2.jpg" alt="" title="" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-medium imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" width="240" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Uri Avneri interviews Yasser Arafat for the Gush Shalom peace movement in 1982. Wikicommons/Uri Avnery. Some rights reserved.</span></span></span></p> <p>It was always difficult to be a non-conformist voice in Israel but until the assassination of Rabin, not hopeless. As Israel drifted to the right, Uri never wavered from his purpose, no matter how unpopular he became. Meeting up with Arafat was seen as almost treasonous but Uri recognised that it was both wise and necessary to talk to “the enemy”. All this made him few friends at home, though many admirers abroad. If “no man is a prophet in his own country”, that was true of Uri. However he leaves behind a wealth of books, articles and emails, that will continue to inspire the peace efforts in the Middle East and he represented hope and reconciliation through the dark decades, that alas, are still with us. Like him we must hope and work towards better times, however unlikely any breakthrough seems.</p> <h2><strong>A capacity for rage</strong></h2> <p>Uri thought in both historical and internationalist terms, one was as likely to meet Julius Caesar, Churchill or Kant, in his writings as Trump or Netanyahu. The ability to see the world in such broad terms meant that Uri could envisage solutions that others looking at a narrower canvas could not. For instance the stance on the future of Jerusalem (always a major problem in any negotiations), “Keep the city untied on a municipal level but divide politically. The West as capital of the State of Israel, the East as capital of the State of Palestine”. Of course this eminently sensible solution has not been adopted and the State of Palestine has not happened. However, Uri understood the Israel/Palestine conflict as few others did, and felt a strong compassion for the Palestinians. Quoting Isaac Deutscher, “A man lives in a house that catches fire. To save his life he jumps out of the window. He lands on a passer-by in the street below and injures him grievously. Between the two a bitter enmity arises. Who is responsible?”</p> <p>Although Uri clung to the Two State Solution to the end, seeing the alternative as a Jewish-dominated entity trapped in endless racial and religious conflict ( this put him at odds with many progressive Israelis) – he never swerved from expressing unpopular views. Right at the end of his life he was outraged at the killing of unarmed civilians on the border with Gaza, his capacity for rage never dimmed:</p> <blockquote><p>“For me this is not a judicial question. It is a crime, not only against the unarmed protesters. It is also a crime against the State of Israel and against the Israeli army."</p></blockquote> <p>Avnery did not only criticise the situation, for forty years he battled to find a solution, showing a capacity for compromise that was rare in Israel. Unlike many, he had an affection and understanding for the Arab people and suggested a scenario, which though never acted upon, was wise and far sighted:</p> <blockquote><p>“How do we solve the problem by allowing a number of refugees to return to Israel, allowing a number of refugees to return to the Palestinian state, and allowing a number of refugees to settle, with general compensation, where they want to settle? It is not an abstract problem. It involves four million human beings, and more than fifty years of various sorts of misery. But it is not an insolvable problem. It involves some good will, and a readiness to give up historic myths on both sides.”</p></blockquote> <p>Avnery’s views were based on an unusual acceptance of Israel’s responsibility for the conflict:</p> <blockquote><p>“Israel must assume responsibility for what happened in 1948, and as far as we are to blame and we are to blame for the greater part, if not for all, we must recognise the right of return.”</p></blockquote> <p>Like all true prophets he went tragically unheard at home.</p> <p>Avnery never spared his opponents at home and abroad. On those he despised he poured undiluted scorn and opprobrium, most recently on Trump and the right wing leaders of Poland and Hungary and Netanyahu’s grovelling to them, in spite of their overt anti-semitism. Never afraid to tell truth to power, Israel has lost one of its most clear-sighted and indomitable warriors for peace.</p><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> </div> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by 4.0 </div> </div> </div> Can Europe make it? Can Europe make it? North-Africa West-Asia Israel Ann Jungmann Fri, 14 Sep 2018 17:59:33 +0000 Ann Jungmann 119666 at Feminism in Tunisia: brutal hijacking, elitism and exclusion <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>The feminist movement in Tunisia has been a victim of brutal hijacking, exploitation, and politicization which has fragmented its foundation.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p dir="ltr"><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="// (1)_0.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="// (1)_0.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="307" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'> NurPhoto/SIPA USA/PA Images. All rights reserved. </span></span></span></p><p dir="ltr">Women’s rights activism in Tunisia have been glorified and portrayed as a success for all the women in the Arab world, however, many observers are intentionally turning a blind eye to what is wrong with feminism and women’s rights activism in Tunisia. Feminism in Tunisia has certain characteristics that shape that activism space. The ruling of elite women activists can be considered one. The exclusion of the majority of women from that space has turned women’s rights activism into a platform for VIP women only to voice their demands while excluding others. Another major characteristic would be the male’s hegemony over the women’s contributions and the neglect of the women’s struggle for their rights, along with many other issues that haven’t been addressed by feminists.&nbsp;&nbsp;</p><p dir="ltr"><strong>History repeats itself</strong></p><p dir="ltr"> On August 13, 1956, the first president of the republic Habib Bourgiba delivered a celebrated speech in which he paid tribute to the effective role of Tunisian women in the Tunisian revolution. He then declared the issuance of The Code of Personal Status (CPS). Many saw Bourgiba’s changes as a mimic act of other liberal political figures such as Tahar Haddad and Mustafa Kemal Ataturk that is not inspired by women’s long- path struggle in Tunisia.</p><p dir="ltr">The CPS was celebrated as a Bourgiba’s achievement, ignoring the female activists who fought for these laws. School history books rarely mention names such as Bchira Ben Mrad, Radhia Haddad, and Manoubia Ouertani, but instead, it’s &nbsp;Bourgiba who is celebrated as the women’s “saviour” and “liberator”.</p><p class="mag-quote-right" dir="ltr">Ben Ali followed his predecessor’s footsteps and had also a hard stance on Hijab</p><p>These Liberal reforms had also created fractions in women’s solidarity in Tunisia. The <a href="">image</a> of Bourgiba removing the headscarf of a woman to “liberate her” had led to the alienation of a large number of women, who consider the headscarf to be an essential part of their identity from the public sphere.</p><p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//" alt="" title="" width="443" height="331" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Bourgiba removing the headscarf of a female citizen. Attribution-NonCommercial.</span></span></span></p><p dir="ltr">Ben Ali followed his predecessor’s footsteps and had also a hard stance on Hijab, banning it from all institution to show his western allies his commitment to secularism and democracy, as to many westerners the Hijab was a sign of oppression and radicalism.</p><p>In the attempt of creating a legacy, Essebsi had taken a short path through supporting women’s rights. But the same politician who had vowed to protect and respect women’s rights, in an event on 13th of August, had dismissed Meherzia Maïza Labidi (the first Vice-President of the Constituent Assembly of Tunisia) for criticizing him. His misogynistic response to her accusation was that “she is just a woman”, what would she know. &nbsp;However, these are not the only times he had exhibited misogynistic behaviour, he had previously stated that women who wear the <a href="">Niqab</a> should never leave their homes and compared them to<a href=""> crows</a>.</p><p><span>Hijacking women’s success</span></p><p dir="ltr">Bourgiba, who ceased all the branches of the government under his control expanded his action to merge the three main women’s rights movements into a single entity called the National Union of Tunisian Women (UNFT), which he used to frame his government as a progressive modern one to impress the west. As a result, he killed the grassroots movement and turned it into a government sponsored one. &nbsp;Ilhem Marzouki, a Tunisian Feminist Activist, commented on this by saying that “the women are being used for aims that are in contradiction with their own interests and those of their female citizens.”</p><p dir="ltr">Fast forwards to recent times, 12 June 2018, The Individual Freedoms and Equality Committee created by the president of Tunisia Beji Caid Essebsi on 13 August 2017, released its report knows as “Le rapport COLIBE”. The report calls for a law granting woman equal heritage rights, and the parliament now has to decide on the future bill.</p><p dir="ltr">Beji Caid Essebsi, with the commission he launched, is not looking to abandon this tradition of hijacking. In addition to his hopes of leaving a legacy behind him, the proposition of commission and the idea of equal inheritance, came right before the municipal elections, in the aim for more secular support to his movement to win over their biggest rival the Islamist party (Ennahdha), the latter could lose the votes of its conservative base if it aligns with the new proposition. At the same, if it chooses not approve of the new proposition, the party would lose the backing of the western institution and democracies that regard it as progressive Islamic willing to make changes.</p><p><strong>The Erasure of Black Women</strong></p><p><strong><span class="mag-quote-center">The feminist movement in Tunisia has been victim to brutal hijacking, exploitation, and politicization which has fragmented its foundation.</span></strong></p><p dir="ltr">The feminist movement in Tunisia has been a victim of brutal hijacking, exploitation, and politicization which has fragmented its foundation. Indeed, different feminists had to leave or disappear as they no longer felt welcome in a movement that no longer represents them.</p><p dir="ltr">Therefore, the platform for “mainstream feminism” in Tunisia has kept this ritual of “elitism” consciously or unconsciously.</p><p dir="ltr">It is evident that the “Feminist scene” has been dominated by women with college degrees, aligned with liberal politics and the government’s politics and now following the government’s vision of &nbsp;what I call “Light Feminism”, where feminism only serves women with specific socio-economic background and education. &nbsp;This is apparent by looking at the women’s activism scene in Tunisia and the representatives of women in different conferences. &nbsp;</p><p dir="ltr">Black Tunisian Women have been deeply affected by this “selectivity”. Black woman, even if they were able to attain a high socio-economic status, are still excluded from feminist platforms.</p><p>Maha Abdelhamid, a Tunisian PhD student and researcher in Social Geography based in France said “We never get invited to conferences or forums on feminism, there’s no representation of us”. However, Black female activists have been vocal regarding this issues and even approached other Tunisian Feminists urging them to address this matter. Unfortunately, their attempts were met with indifference.</p><p>Attempting to bring attention to this issue, Abdelhamid, repeatedly posted on social media about the problem of racism and aggression against black females, only to be ignored and dismissed. “We don’t have racism in Tunisia” a counterargument widely used in Tunisia.</p><p>Saadia Mosbah, Founder of Mnemty, an association devoted to combating racism in the Tunisian society and a black female activist, recalls when she approached a prominent feminist who is a member of the Committee on Individual Freedoms and Equality with the issue of the exclusion of black feminists. The first replied by saying “You [black women] will have your own law”, referring to an<a href=""> anti-discrimination law</a> that is awaiting approval by the parliament.</p><p>To address black Tunisian women as “others” who need their “own law” to combat sexism is very problematic. If we look up the word “Black” in this much-celebrated COLIBE report, there is “no matching items”.</p><p>Despite the unwelcoming environment, Mosbah, never misses feminist manifestos in Tunisia “We need to remind them of our existence”, she said.</p><p dir="ltr">The black people in Tunisia are not just excluded from women’s activism, but also neglected in different areas. This mainly comes from the lack of knowledge on their needs for representation. The National Institute of Statistics (Institut national de la statistique (INS)) stated that numbers of Black Tunisian, regardless of their age, gender and other parameters are not known, but it is estimated that black people represent <a href="">10%</a> of the Tunisian society, while other sources indicate 15%. </p><p dir="ltr">This glorious manifesto of feminism (<a href=";utm_term=.58df0bf3b795">COLIBE</a>) supposedly calling for equality for women with men, had dismissed equality of black Tunisian women with their non-black women. </p><p dir="ltr">It looks like black feminists have to deal with another form of discrimination based on color and not gender, and this time the discriminators are other Tunisian women. </p><p><strong>“It is not for us, rural women”</strong></p><p dir="ltr"> Sixty-year-old Mariam has lived in Siliana Governorate, an agricultural governorate, most of her life, said that “feminism is not for women like us, the women of rural areas.” Most workers in the agricultural field are women, their percentage surpasses <a href="">70% </a>of the total workforce. The majority of women working in fields receive the minimum wages, with no social or health insurances and or a prospect of change in the near future. These women don’t just feel they underrepresented but also feel they’ve been hugely neglected by women activists. </p><p dir="ltr">These women face dangers in workplace, ranging from lack of attention to their health to work injuries. Unofficial numbers show that 10% of female workers have been victims of work-related accidents and almost 63% of them are working in very tough conditions. The old and over used vehicles that can easily turn over or break down is an example of dangers at workplace. Some even called it t<a href="">he death vehicles</a>. </p><p>And while some demands are voiced by launching <a href="">initiatives</a> and projects by the Ministry of Women in Tunisia, other substantial needs are ignored. Life is not getting easier for women in rural areas, the lack of sanitary pads for girls and women prevents them from going to schools, they end up dropping out of schools and joining the labor market as either farmers or domestic worker, aged only <a href=",-fant%C3%B4mes-pour-l%E2%80%99Etat-tunisien,519,46342,3">10 years</a> in some cases.</p><p>Mariam confirmed these living situations and said “women activists remember us only on women’s day, and then they leave us alone to suffer.”</p><p dir="ltr"><strong>Illusions and fractions</strong></p><p dir="ltr">Government sponsored feminism often praises itself for empowering women in education and employment, but the numbers don’t add up. R<a href="">eports</a> show that 40% of women with a college degree are still unemployed; this figure reaches up to 70% in<a href=""> some regions</a>. Overall female unemployment has reached 22.7%, almost double the figure of male counterparts (12.5%).</p><p>This is not due to lack of educational attainment, indeed, in 2014, 67% of college degrees holders were women, while 57% of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) degrees are given to women.</p><p>But when employed, a woman earns on average <a href="">271% </a>less than a man. This is due to the lack of funding that is given to female entrepreneurs, sexist work environment, and other factors, that should have been given attention by feminists in Tunisia.</p><p dir="ltr">With accumulating alienation, fractions in the women solidarity scene have become very visible. Nothing shows this more the recent protests in Tunisia, where a numerous women on the 11th of August, protested against “Le rapport COLIBE” calling it an attack on Tunisian values, religious teachings, while others questioned its timing (using it as a distraction as the country is going through economic instability and austerity). While the 13th of August, another group of women went to protest in favor of the report and its fundamental part in the creation of the second Tunisian republic. Both sides used social media to defend their opinions, which represented the perfect opportunity for trolls to spread propaganda and chaos.</p><p>With 230 pages report, full of academic language and legal texts, which takes a considerable time to deconstruct and comprehend, the public decided to follow unofficial summaries provided by different parties or shared on social media platforms. As a result, both groups were misguided by fake news about the report.</p><p dir="ltr">Feminists in Tunisia have achieved multiple milestones in their path to guarantee full equality between women and men. Nonetheless, the feminist scene should be more examined in depth, with a focus on grassroots approach. At the same time, there should be a call for more intersectionality in order to be inclusive on the one hand and treat women’s critical issues in a more holistic and sustainable way.</p><p dir="ltr">It is the time for Tunisian to collaborate and strengthen their movement. Otherwise, the pursuit of equality will reach a dead end road.</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/tim-baster-isabelle-merminod/tunisia-elections-justice-and-dignity"> Tunisia: elections, justice and dignity </a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <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 odd"> <a href="/north-africa-west-asia/tim-baster-isabelle-merminod/tunisia%E2%80%99s-landmark-victory-in-struggle-against-violence-"> Tunisia’s landmark victory in the struggle against violence against women</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by 4.0 </div> </div> </div> Middle East Forum North-Africa West-Asia Chouaib ElHajjaji Middle East & North Africa Fri, 14 Sep 2018 08:46:10 +0000 Chouaib ElHajjaji 119649 at إيران المقبولة في سوريا <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p class="direction-rtl">قد تكون العودة إلى نموذج علاقة الأسد الأبّ مع طهران هي الأمثل للوصول لحلٍّ سياسيٍّ مقبول إقليميّاً ودوليّاً. <a href=""><strong>English</strong></a></p> </div> </div> </div> <p class="direction-rtl"><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//" alt="" title="" width="460" height="316" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Picture by Depo Photos/ABACA/ABACA/PA Images. All rights reserved. </span></span></span>كَحالِ البطولات الكُرويّة في أرجاء العالم، يتبارى جميع المتنافسين للحصول على لقبٍ واحد، دخلتْ عديد القوى الإقليميّة والدوليّة الملعب السوريّ، سعياً منها للحصول على لقب استحواذها، كانت الولايات المتحدة الأمريكيّة والاتحاد الروسيّ لاعبَيها الرئيسيَين، وتبارتْ كلّ من فرنسا والصين وإيران وتركيا والسعودية وقطر، وإسرائيل بالطبع، لأخْذِ أدوارٍ تتناسب مع حجم تأثيرها في الداخل السوريّ. </p><p dir="rtl">يبدو أنّ الاتحاد الروسيّ قد حسم الأمور لصالحه، وباتَ يُعِدّ العُدّة لمستقبل سوريا كَكُلّ، من كتابة الدستور إلى حلّ قضية اللاجئين، وليس انتهاءً بإعادة الإعمار.</p> <p dir="rtl">كُلّ ذلك يتمّ مع الأخذ بعين الاعتبار هواجس واشنطن وتل أبيب، والرياض من جهة إخراج إيران من سوريا، أو تحجيم دورها على أقلّ تقدير.</p> <p dir="rtl">الولايات المتحدة الأمريكيّة وبعد (12) فيتو روسيّ (5) منها مزدوج مع الصين، أصبحت في قناعة تامّة أنّ بوتين لن يتنازل عن سوريا، ولن يقبل بالالتفاف على ذلك عن طريق قرارات إنسانيّة كما في ليبيا أو متعلقة بأسلحة غير تقليديّة كما حدث في العراق، ونتيجة لذلك فقد آثَرَ الرئيس الأمريكيّ دونالد ترامب الإعلان عن قُرْبِ سَحْبِ قوّاته من سوريا بعد إنجاز مهمة القضاء على مسلحي تنظيم "الدولة الإسلاميّة"، وربط ذلك مؤخراً بخروج إيران من المشهد السوريّ.</p> <p dir="rtl">الإعلان الأمريكيّ يَشِي بالرغبة في استدراج عروض من فرقاء الحرب السوريّة، وخصوصاً تركيا والسعوديّة، فأنقرة هي المتحمّس الأكبر لوأد المشروع الكرديّ المُعْلَن بصيغته الأولى كإدارة ذاتيّة مطلع العام 2014 ولاحقاً بالمشروع الفيدراليّ لشمال سوريا أواخر العام 2016 .</p> <p dir="rtl">كانت تركيا قد قادت عمليتين في سوريا، أولاها تحت مسمى "درع الفرات" وتوجّتها بالسيطرة على كلّ من جرابلس وإعزاز والباب، واتبعتها بعملية "غصن الزيتون" مطلع العام الحالي وتمكنتْ فيها من السيطرة على منطقة عفرين منهيةً بذلك مشروع فيدراليّة شمال سوريا، والتي كانت تضمّ بالإضافة لها، كل من إقليميّ الفرات (كوباني وتل أبيض) والجزيرة، وأجبرتها على التموضع في شرق نهر الفرات (منطقة النفوذ الأمريكيّة) حيث كان هناك تفاهمٌ روسيٌّ أمريكيّ ينصّ على عدم عبور حلفاء موسكو إلى الضفّة الشرقيّة لنهر الفرات، باستثناء الذهاب إلى البوكمال والميادين، بالإضافة لـ تواجد عسكريّ وأمنيّ محدود للحكومة السوريّة في القامشلي والحسكة، مقابل موافقة روسيا، لحلفاء الولايات المتحدة السيطرة على مدينة الطبقة، وسدّها الاستراتيجيّ ومطارها العسكريّ، إضافة لمدينة منبج.</p> <p dir="rtl">تحاول روسيا الاتحاديّة الحفاظ على مستوىً جيد من العلاقات مع المملكة العربيّة السعوديّة؛ لِما لها مِن ثِقَل اقتصاديّ كبير، ودينيّ مؤثّر، حيث يشكِّل المسلمون غالبية (7) جمهوريّات داخل الاتحاد الروسيّ، وما تأييد موسكو لقرارات مجلس الأمن لصالح التحالف العربيّ في اليمن، بقيادة المملكة العربية السعوديّة، إلا ترجمةً فعليّة للعلاقة القويّة بينهما.</p> <p dir="rtl">رجل السعودية الأبرز محمد بن سلمان كان قد أقرّ بأنّ سوريا هي ضمن النفوذ الروسيّ، وأنّ نظام الرئيس بشار الأسد يجب أنْ يكون قويّاً لمواجهة النفوذ الإيرانيّ المتزايد في سوريا، حيث قال بكلّ وضوح: "أعتقد أنّ بشار باقٍ في الوقت الحالي، وأنّ سوريا تمثّل جزءاً من النفوذ الروسيّ في الشرق الأوسط لفترة طويلة جداً.. من الأفضل لروسيا أنْ تكون له قوة مباشرة وأنْ يمكنوا بشار، هذه المصالح قد تقلِّل من النفوذ الإيرانيّ بشكلٍ كبير".</p> <p dir="rtl">العامل الإسرائيليّ له أكبر الأثر، كذلك فإنّ علاقة تل أبيب مع موسكو في أفضل حالاتها الآن.</p> <p dir="rtl">رئيس الوزراء الإسرائيليّ بنيامين نتنياهو ينسِّق مع الرئيس الروسيّ فلاديمير بوتين في أدقّ التفاصيل، ويقرّ بالدور الروسيّ في سوريا، وببقاء الأسد؛ لكنّه يشترط إخراج إيران من معادلة الحلّ السوريةّ، ووزير دفاعه أفيغدور ليبرمان قالها بكل بوضوح حين وجه رسالة للأسد من الجولان السوريّ المحتل: "تخلّص من الإيرانيين.. تخلّص من قاسم سليماني وفيلق القدس.. إنّهم لا يساعدونك، إنهم لا يسببون سوى الضرر، تخلص من الإيرانيين وربما نستطيع أن نغيّر المزاج العام هنا".</p> <p dir="rtl">واتهمتْ إسرائيلُ، إيرانَ بإطلاق صواريخٍ عليها من سوريا نحو مرتفعات الجولان المحتلّة في سابقة هي الأولى من نوعها، وهو ما زاد من تصميم تل أبيب على إبعاد طهران من المناطق المحاذية للحدود المشتركة مع سوريا، وهذا ما حصل بالفعل حين انتشر الجيش السوريّ على طول الحدود، مقابل انتشار للشرطة العسكريّة الروسيّة، وأبعدت كلّ تواجد للميليشيات المقربة من إيران.</p> <p dir="rtl">كانت علاقات سوريا في عهد الرئيس السابق حافظ الأسد مع طهران تتّسم بالندّيّة، وبما لا يخالف الإجماع العربي، حيث كانت سوريا آنذاك تشكّل ثالثة أثافي المثلث العربيّ، مع السعودية ومصر.</p> <p dir="rtl">أمّا في عهد الرئيس بشّار الأسد، فقد اختلف الأمر، بِدءاً من حرب العراق عام 2003، مروراُ بالضغوط الدوليّة التي أعقبت اغتيال رئيس الوزراء اللبنانيّ السابق رفيق الحريري عام ٢٠٠٥ ، وكذلك حرب تمّوز/يوليو عام ٢٠٠٦ بين إسرائيل وحزب الله (اللبنانيّ).</p> <p dir="rtl">أمّا خلال الحرب السوريّة الممتدة منذ عام ٢٠١١ فالحال تغيّر أكثر من ذي قبل، نَجَمَ عن وحدة الحال التي عاشها البلدان معاً، في مواجهة خطر الزوال الناجم عن ما سُمِّيَ بالربيع العربيّ.</p> <p dir="rtl">من الواضح أنّ هناك إجماعاً من أطراف الصراع السوريّ الرئيسيين على إنهاء، أو تقليص الدور الإيرانيّ المتعاظم في سوريا، والحِمْلُ الأكبرُ في هذه الحالة سيكون على الحكومة السوريّة التي لا بُدّ وأنْ تَجِدَ مَخْرَجاً من أزمتها هذه، وإيجاد صيغة للحفاظ على حليفها الاستراتيجيّ، دون أنْ يكون لها سطوة تُغضب الآخرين، وقد تكون العودة إلى نموذج علاقة الأسد الأبّ مع طهران هي الأمثل للوصول لحلٍّ سياسيٍّ مقبول إقليميّاً ودوليّاً.</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/alan-hassan/Syria-US-war-withdrawal">انسحاب أمريكا: ما التالي؟</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/north-africa-west-asia/mohammad-abu-hajar/our-sectarianism-regime"> طائفيتنا التي لم ينتجها النظام</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/north-africa-west-asia/Alan-hassan/Syria-kurds-afrin">كُرد سوريا... ربع الساعة الأخيرة</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"> 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 4.0 </div> </div> </div> North-Africa West-Asia North-Africa West-Asia Syria Conflict International politics آلان حسن Through Syrian eyes Arabic language Fri, 14 Sep 2018 07:45:35 +0000 آلان حسن 119652 at Living the double life: behind the lies of women's daily lives in Egypt <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>The consequences of living this sort of double-life go far beyond family disagreements.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//" 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'>Picture by crosby_cj / Some rights reserved (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0).</span></span></span>25-year-old Sara does not feel secure telling her parents how she feels about myriad things. Having struggled with the concept of religion from a very young age, her proclamation of atheism was not met with much open-mindedness. “They freaked out and insisted I see a family sheikh”, she says. Her father also threatened to cut off funds for her college education. “The whole thing traumatized me which made me—in the end—say that I believe in God,” she adds. </p><p dir="ltr">Sara now lies about sexual activity, alcohol consumption, and more. What Sara describes as an 'off and on switch' made apparent the restraints fashioned by a conservative, mostly Muslim society. Based on three indices—<a href="">the Social Progress Index</a>, the Environmental Performance Index and the World Economic Forum's (WEF) Gender Gap <a href="">report</a>—Egypt comes at <a href="">number six </a>amongst the 15 least liberal countries in the world. </p><p dir="ltr">The Middle Eastern country was first faced with this wave of Islamism and ardent Wahhabism around Islamic theorist and Islamism figurehead Sayyid Qutb’s time in the 1950s and 1960s. Qutb lead the Muslim Brotherhood group and incited violence. The conservative shift was felt by many in society, except women suffered more than men as a result. And, despite Egypt’s uprising in 2011 against Mubarak’s regime and the injustice it inflicted, Egyptian women still experience malignant treatment and regard. To this day, women remain an <a href="">afterthought </a>on matters of divorce, female genital mutilation (FGM), sexual harassment, and education. </p><p dir="ltr">According to a <a href="">survey</a> conducted by the International Men and Gender Equality Survey, 86.8% of men think women’s highest priorities should be caring for her home and family ahead of life ambitions afforded to men such as holding a career. Meanwhile, &nbsp;90% believe that women should accept violence from a spouse or partner without leaving as long as the family stays together. For the same parameters, women did not think much differently (76.7 and 70.9, respectively), reflecting a similar thought pattern amongst women themselves. </p><p dir="ltr">The lies Sara told and still tells are part deep love for her family and part convenience, except the emotional toll is hefty, and guilt and shame are overpowering. “I can’t even tell them I was sexually assaulted. I have to deal with paranoia, anxiety and disturbing nightmares,” says Sara who also now suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder PTSD, panic attacks, and minor depressive episodes. “I feel stuck living under a mask. I believe if they find out, I’ll kill myself,” she says.</p><p dir="ltr">Nora shares a similar sentiment, under a harder reality. “Traditions are a whip my parents use against me,” the 28-year-old Ph.D. student laments. “I’d like to be sincere about everything, but every time I envision this I panic over the possibility of violence against me, or worse, alienation. I often resort to [self-harm like] cutting [myself] and trichotillomania (hair-pulling) to relieve my stress,” Nora has even been told by her brother, on a number of occasions, that her bisexuality warrants death. The young professional’s mental and physical well-being is in tatters, with severe migraines and crippling anxiety now a part of her daily life., “Ironically, I pray to the same God, to get me through this or make it all go away somehow.”</p><p dir="ltr">Zainab, 32, attributes the differences she has with her parents to their socially conservative worldview. “According to their beliefs, these aspects of my life are not culturally or religiously acceptable and are morally wrong. They also think that I’m jeopardizing my future and putting myself at risk, so in a way, they are concerned,” she says. </p><p dir="ltr">This induces Zainab’s anxiety which prompts her to evade their questions rather than lie. “It’s still lying by omission though,” she adds. “It feels like there’s a lot of hostility directed at me and makes it impossible to ever feel completely comfortable. I’m always on edge. I’ve internalized a lot of shame. I’m frustrated a lot, which is tiring,” she adds.</p><p dir="ltr">One of the most difficult aspects of Zainab’s double-life is her inability to speak openly about how she feels, even during some of life’s most difficult moments. “I recently went through a difficult break-up, and I had to fake normalcy. Repressing all those feelings took its toll on me, leaving me with more pain to handle as well as exhaustion. My anxiety about it can be severe at times, and this affects my day-to-day decisions. I’m left feeling defensive, irritable, drained, and burned out. I don’t feel financially secure and I feel like my physical safety and health are threatened, which makes me anxious and depressed.”</p><p dir="ltr">Sociologist and political sociology lecturer at the American University in Cairo, Amro Ali, has spoken out about what he describes as a “societal disruption”. “Unfortunately, a woman tends to be one of the first victims on the frontlines of societal disruption,” he explains. “Egyptian society has been swallowed into the globalization and consumerism vortex, that has been accompanied with neoliberal dehumanization, that ramps up hyper-individualism, fragmenting society and making people feel lonely. I now see women in some form of internal exile,” he adds</p><p dir="ltr">“Egypt has inherited the dysfunctions of modernity that makes it a very paradoxical place on the political and social level: we have elections without democracy, a parliament without representation, we sing the merits of citizenship without acknowledging the citizen,” he adds.</p><p dir="ltr"> Ali points out how the women who attend his public lectures are often forced to act more conservatively in public than they do on the internet where they can behave more freely. “It is not unusual to see women who are self-conscious (of others observing them) when approaching or asking questions at a public talk, as opposed to the much more direct and confident emails and social media messages they would send before or after enquiring about the talk. However, this gap seems to be decreasing in recent years in favor of a woman's assertive communication in public spaces,” he remarks. Meanwhile, Ali also refers to the dimension of “shame” that steers people to be hyper-aware of the image they project in the Egyptian public sphere.</p><p dir="ltr">Egyptians were divided following the release of a video on social media in recent weeks in which a young woman is being sexually harassed while traveling home from work.</p><p dir="ltr">The woman in question, Menna Gobran, video-recorded her alleged harasser outside a branch of popular chain store ‘On The Run’ and posted the footage to Facebook prompting people to ridicule her while defending the guy’s lewd actions. “Not only did they cruelly shame her, the victim, but they elevated the harasser to stardom even by some so-called feminists through taking photos next to him,” Ali adds.</p><p dir="ltr">He further added that in Egypt, there is an obsession with what other people would say which discourages many women from speaking out. “It’s unmanageable and the latest example is &nbsp;the “On The Run” sexual harassment case.”</p><p dir="ltr">Given how &nbsp;<a href="">99.3%</a> of women in Egypt have been sexually harassed, normalization around such a horrific issue is hardly shocking.</p><p dir="ltr">Following the 2011 uprising which swept the country’s former autocrat, Hosni Mubarak, from power, there was a brief glimmer of hope for many Egyptian women, both conservative and liberal, who hoped for greater freedoms.</p><p dir="ltr">“Mubarak indirectly skewed the approach to religion; by suffocating the political sphere, he forced many people into the religious sphere as a compensatory measure rather than as a choice, and this perhaps peaked in the mid-2000s when we saw a sudden spike, albeit it was already steadily increasing, in religious displays of piety in newer social classes, such as women turning to the hijab,” Ali remarks.</p><p dir="ltr">In post-2011, a significant wave of women took off their hijabs in a minor cultural revolution provoking a negative reaction to what could be perceived as a seemingly mundane act.</p><p dir="ltr">“It is not uncommon for me to hear from Egyptian women who are experiencing a crisis of faith of sorts, that they want to love God and feel a sense of mercy, but this is severely shaken when they are shamed and reduced to two-dimensional characters who must be straitjacketed into fulfilling a checklist of obligations, for example, the hijab or what a woman should be like in society. &nbsp;This type of male power-reinforcing and uniform battering ram approach reduces from the complexities of human beings living in extremely complex times, and it is even an injustice to Islamic jurisprudence which has a rich history of mercifully accommodating nuances and showing compassion to changes in the landscape,” Ali says. </p><p dir="ltr">“The religious sermons have hit a tone-deaf level. I think the biggest assault on the Egyptian landscape is mediocrity. There is almost a complete lack of imagination to find viable routes to resolve matters,” he adds noting that publics are born every day and that we need to keep hoping that,” he adds.</p><p dir="ltr">However, mental health experts believe that the consequences of living this sort of double-life go far beyond family disagreements.</p><p dir="ltr">In a <a href="">10-week study</a> conducted by the University of Notre Dame, people who lied less experienced reduced mental and physical health complaints. Additionally, respondents who told fewer lies experienced more positive relationships and better social interactions.</p><p dir="ltr">Cairo-based psychologist Sherif Othman says that through lying, these women inflict guilt upon themselves even when it’s carried out for self-preservation or noble reasons. “There’s also a lot of mental stress as they’ll have to keep track of all the lies they tell,” Othman says. “For long-term lying, people can just turn into habitual or compulsive liars and lies become uncontrollable and turn pathological.”</p><p dir="ltr">Othman goes on to highlight how keeping track of so many falsehoods can develop psychological disorders like generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) which is a state of being constantly anxious, even when there is no trigger. He also goes on to mention additional stresses which can affect the person physically like lack of sleep due to the pressing feeling of guilt, and anxiety-induced heart conditions and fluctuating blood pressure.</p><p dir="ltr">When it comes to social interactions and maintaining personal relationships, Othman says that piling-up lies can easily shatter trusts with loved ones. “Losing people’s trust will alienate those who are lying and usually those who are lying tend to be socially withdrawn because they don’t want to face all the anxieties that come with lying or the fear of getting caught. You’ve got to weigh the pros and cons of lying and make an informed decision he adds.</p><p dir="ltr">Othman explains in terms of living in Egypt’s conservative society. “Lying should not be the first option. People should communicate with their parents and voice their mindsets instead of sweeping it all under the rug. The first step to get an idea accepted into a society is through voicing this idea.”</p><p dir="ltr">Meanwhile, Othman also recommends compromising on matters that are not accepted by families. “We should try using our negotiation skills to demand more rights, and not everything is [set] in stone, which could be a plan to resort to before lying,” he says.</p><p dir="ltr">Othman believes that change is coming and that we do not have to wait for generations for a certain cultural upheaval to happen. “Women are more vocal now, and never underestimate the power of social media. We’re not fed what to be or do as before and women are going strong in claiming their rights. With that trajectory, in a few decades, Egyptian women will be free to do what they want to do,” he believes.</p><p dir="ltr">On her end, clinical psychologist, Sharon Perry said that these held information from family should definitely be shared with other individuals so that these women wouldn’t have to carry the brunt of these lies. “Most families are adamant about their own opinions and there’s even denial about what their children might be doing or not doing,” Perry says adding that lying protects the families but eventually harms the person carrying those lies. “[It’s] not just about sex. We need to look at pregnancies, STDs, AIDs, things that young people here don’t seem to be aware of,” she explains. </p><p dir="ltr">Perry has a rather positive outlook on what to come: “People are slowly opening up and talking to their kids and even providing assistance. We can’t interfere with cultural norms or advocate lying but we can limit the behaviour itself,” she remarks.</p><p dir="ltr">Though a number of women do not agree with Othman and Perry’s hopeful projection, Nora believes her family’s love for her should trump any disaccord between them. “I know I sound naive, but maybe it’s my mind trying to cope with the grim reality of things,” she says.</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/mona-abaza-noha-fikry/challenges-of-fieldwork-in-egypt-changingchallenging-th">Challenges of fieldwork in Egypt: changing/challenging theoretical leanings</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/north-africa-west-asia/leila-zaki-chakravarti/president-s-wedding-micro-politics-of-mass-mobilisatio">The president’s wedding: micro-politics of mass mobilisation in Egypt’s 2018 election</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/north-africa-west-asia/maged-mandour/education-and-orientalist-discourse">Education and orientalist discourse</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/north-africa-west-asia/vivienne-matthies-boon/after-egyptian-elections-will-political-system-explode">Egypt&#039;s political system is a pressure cooker: it will explode</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/north-africa-west-asia/maged-mandour/power-and-divine-case-of-egypt">Power and the divine: self-repression in Egypt</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-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by 4.0 </div> </div> </div> North-Africa West-Asia North-Africa West-Asia Egypt Mental health Women society Eman El-Sherbiny Fri, 14 Sep 2018 07:21:17 +0000 Eman El-Sherbiny 119650 at