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

المناهضة الحمقاء للإمبريالية

 ترجمة: عبد الرحيم يوسف/ مدى مصر


كارتون: ياسر احمد

مرة أخرى، استيقظت الحركة الغربية «المناهضة للحرب» للاحتشاد حول سوريا، وكانت هذه هي المرَّة الثالثة منذ عام 2011.

المرَّة الأولى كانت عندما اعتزم رئيس الولايات المتحدة السابق باراك أوباما توجيه ضربة للقدرات العسكرية للنظام السوري (لكنه لم يفعل) عقب الهجمات الكيمياوية على غوطة دمشق في عام 2013، والتي اعتبرها خطًا أحمر. وكانت المرَّة الثانية عندما أمر الرئيس الحالي دونالد ترامب بتوجيه ضربة إلى قاعدة عسكرية خالية تابعة للنظام ردًا على الهجمات الكيماوية على خان شيخون في عام 2017. Continue reading

El ‘antiimperialismo’ de los idiotas

Translation by antimilitaristes-moc Valencia


La indignación selectiva que solo se aplica a los ataques químicos. Caricatura de Yaser Ahmad

Una vez más, el movimiento “antiguerra” occidental se ha despertado para movilizarse en torno a Siria. Esta es la tercera vez desde 2011. La primera fue cuando Obama contempló atacar la capacidad militar del régimen sirio (pero no lo hizo) tras los ataques químicos en Guta en 2013, considerados una ‘línea roja’. La segunda vez fue cuando Donald Trump ordenó un ataque que golpeó una base militar vacía en respuesta a los ataques químicos contra Khan Sheikhun en 2017. Y hoy, cuando EE. UU., el Reino Unido y Francia toman medidas militares limitadas (ataques selectivos contra los activos militares del régimen e instalaciones de armas químicas) después de un ataque con armas químicas en Duma que mató al menos a 34 personas, incluidos muchos menores que se refugiaban de los bombardeos en los sótanos. Continue reading