The erasure of Yarmouk: How the Assad regime is dismantling Syria’s hub of Palestinian life


Residents of Yarmouk queue to receive aid. January 2014. Photo credit: UNRWA

Originally published at The New Arab

Yarmouk refugee camp, on the southern outskirts of Damascus, was once known as the ‘capital of the Palestinian diaspora’.

Ravaged by Syria’s counter-revolutionary war, more than two years after the cessation of local fighting the camp still lies in ruins.

Residents who were forcibly displaced are yet to return, and a new reconstruction plan threatens to make their displacement permanent. Continue reading

The US protests: Lessons from Syria

Originally published at Al-Jumhuriya

Floyd Mural

Mural by Aziz Asmar and Anis Hamdoun in Idlib. In solidarity with protesters in the US. 1 June 2020

Over the past few days, an uprising has raged in Minnesota and elsewhere in the United States in response to the murder of George Floyd by police. In the spirit of solidarity with those on the streets, I was prompted to think about the lessons from the Syrian revolution that might be applicable to the US context. Continue reading

Idlib resists


Demonstration in Maarat Al Nu’man in solidarity with Kafar Takharim and against HTS, 7 November. Photo credit: MMC

Over the past few days a popular uprising has broken out across Idlib against the hardline Islamist group HTS (formerly Al-Qaeda linked Nusra) which is militarily dominant in much of the province .

The recent uprising began when HTS increased Zakaat (taxes) on a number of goods and services including bread, electricity and olive oil . Continue reading

On the Turkish offensive on north-eastern Syria


Syrians flee their homes amid Turkish bombardment. Photo credit: Delil Souleiman/AFP

The recent Turkish offensive on north-eastern Syria and US withdrawal of troops from the region is unleashing yet another humanitarian catastrophe of epic proportions.

In the past few days over 130,000 Syrians have fled for their lives, in desperate search of safety. Dozens of civilians have been killed by Turkish bombs and assassinations by Turkish allied militias. Among the chaos ISIS prisoners have broken out of detention camps and are now running free – many of them foreigners, including children, whose respective states have refused to take responsibility for their nationals. Continue reading

Syria, refugees, and solidarity

Syrians march towards the Turkish border demanding an end to the shelling or safe passage to Europe, on 30 August 2019 Photo via: MMC news

This was first published at Crisis Magazine

no one leaves home unless

home is the mouth of a shark

                   Warsan Shire ‘Home’

Crossing the Mediterranean Sea is fraught with danger. During 2018, an estimated 2,277 people died in their attempts to enter Europe. They were among the 141,500 refugees and migrants who reached Europe’s shores via the Mediterranean route that year. Some 10,400 of those migrants were Syrians arriving to Italy, Greece, Spain and Cyprus. Continue reading

The Syrian Quagmire

Photo via SY+

A family in Idlib Province, home to three million people, half of them displaced or forcibly evacuated. Photo via SY+ #HumansOfIdlib

This article was first published at Fifth Estate.

If 2011 looked like the moment when people could unite, both within and across countries, to topple decades-old dictatorships with the demand for freedom and social justice; today looks like the moment of counter-revolutionary success. After eight years of increasingly brutal conflict in Syria, Assad still presides over a now destroyed, fragmented and traumatized country. The narrative is that the war is nearing its end. States once vocally opposed to Assad now have other strategic concerns which take precedence over the victims of his savage efforts to hold onto power. Yet on the ground conditions are far from stable and civilians remain trapped and are paying the price for ongoing struggles for power and territory between the regime, foreign states and ideological war lords. Continue reading

Indefensible: Idlib and the left


Protest in Idlib, 7 Sept 2018

Originally published by Freedom.

On Saturday regime and Russian airstrikes intensified on Idlib in what appears to be a prelude to the long anticipated campaign to regain control of the province.

Only a day before, thousands of Syrian men, women and children took the streets in over 120 cities towns and villages across the remaining liberated areas under the slogan ‘resistance is our choice’. Continue reading

What next for Idlib?




From last Friday’s protest against the regime/Russian upcoming assault in Maaret al-Numan, Idlib. Credit: Zein Al Rifai/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

Originally published in the New York Times under the title ‘The Death Blow is Coming for Syrian Democracy’. It can be found in Spanish at Flores en Daraya & French at Basta!


The Syrian regime is determined to reconquer all of the territory it has lost. Aided by Russian bombers and Iranian troops, and emboldened by its success in terrorizing the populations of Ghouta and Daraa into submission, President Bashar al-Assad’s government is now preparing to attack Idlib, the last remaining province outside of his control. Idlib is home to some three million people, about half of them displaced, or forcibly evacuated, to the province from elsewhere. Many are crowded into unsanitary camps or sleeping in the open. Continue reading

Women are at the forefront of challenging extremism in Idlib

This was originally published at Chatham House. Here is a longer, un-edited version.


Women and girls at Farouq camp, northern Idlib protest against HTS. Source: Enab Baladi

In May, SMART News Agency, an oppositional media site, released a video report addressing educational and administrative corruption at Idlib University. The University is under the governance of the Syrian Salvation Government, the civil authority wing of the powerful hard-line Islamist group Hayaat Tahrir al-Sham (HTS) dominant in much of the rebel-held province. One of the interviewees was a young mother named Fatima Idris. Displaced from Homs to Idlib, Fatima’s a student at the university’s Media Institute. Her outspoken criticisms prompted her arrest by HTS, sparking outrage from activists and protests from female students.[1] Fatima was released from detention two weeks later, possibly as a result of public pressure. Her case serves as an example of the continuing local resistance to authoritarian armed groups, of which women are often at the forefront. Continue reading

Syria’s shock doctrine

Pro-regime forces insult displaced civilians of eastern Ghouta

Pro-regime forces insult the displaced of eastern Ghouta (photographer unknown)

This was originally published in Al-Jumhuriya. 

It’s available in Spanish at Flores en Daraya.

After seven years of repression and war, more than half the Syrian population no longer live in their own homes. Most are internally displaced, but nearly six million have fled the country altogether in search of asylum. They dream of one day returning to their homes, but a new law means that many may never be able to. Continue reading