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

The ‘anti-imperialism’ of idiots


Cartoon criticizing selective outrage which only applies to chemical attacks, by Yaser Ahmad

Once more the western ‘anti-war’ movement has awoken to mobilise around Syria. This is the third time since 2011. The first was when Obama contemplated striking the Syrian regime’s military capability (but didn’t) following chemical attacks on the Ghouta in 2013, considered a ‘red line’. The second time was when Donald Trump ordered a strike which hit an empty regime military base in response to chemical attacks on Khan Sheikhoun in 2017. And today, as the US, UK and France take limited military action (targeted strikes on regime military assets and chemical weapons facilities) following a chemical weapons attack in Douma which killed at least 34 people, including many children who were sheltering in basements from bombing. Continue reading

The act of forgiving (and forgetting)

wissam al jazairy

Picture by Wissam Al Jazairy

Forgive (Verb):

  • Stop feeling angry or resentful towards (someone) for an offence, flaw, or mistake.
  • No longer feel angry about or wish to punish (an offence, flaw, or mistake).

[Oxford online dictionary]

For six years Assad has waged a campaign of extermination against a people who rose for freedom. His crimes have been so well documented, by both testimony and photographic evidence, that the international community is left in little doubt that this man, and his regime, have perpetrated atrocities on such a scale that they amount to crimes against humanity. Continue reading

Democracy is the alternative


A woman votes in Saraqib in local council elections

On 18 July women and men in Saraqib, eastern Idlib, participated in elections for their local council. According to the election commission 2475 people cast their ballot, 55 percent of eligible voters. Just days earlier, the three candidates had held a lively public debate.[1]  This is unheard of in ‘Assad’s Syria’ where free elections have not been held in five decades of dictatorship. And this is the alternative to the regime – self-organization, democracy and local autonomy – not Daesh and not foreign occupation. Continue reading

Syria’s Prisoners: Absent but never forgotten


Protest held by Families for Freedom outside the UN in Geneva (Photo via Families for Freedom Facebook page)

This article was originally published at The New Arab.

This Ramadan, Syrian families across the country and around the world will be breaking their fast in the absence of a loved one. As favourite delicacies are prepared and relatives gather, the empty chair at the table will be a painful reminder of those who are absent but never forgotten. Many will experience the ongoing pain and torment of having no news as to where their relative is being held, or if they are alive or dead. Continue reading

En Siria, las vidas civiles no importan

Publicado originalmente en ‘Hummus For Thought’ (Joey Husseini Ayoub Ed.)

Desde la llegada de Trump al poder se ha producido una importante escalada en la intervención estadounidense en Siria, supuestamente para derrotar al ISIS.


Voluntarios de los Cascos Blancos – Jina, Alepo

Los Estados Unidos ya tienen cientos de efectivos de sus Fuerzas Especiales luchando en el terreno junto a las Fuerzas Democráticas de Siria y les dan respaldo con centenares de ataques aéreos. Ahora se ha desplegado una unidad de artillería de los Marines y se planea enviar más tropas de tierra. Continue reading

In Syria, civilian lives don’t matter


White Helmet volunteers work to free trapped victims of US airstrikes in Al Jina, Aleppo

Originally published at Hummus for Thought

Since Trump came to power there has been a marked escalation of the US intervention in Syria, supposedly to defeat ISIS.

The US already has hundreds of Special Operations forces fighting on the ground alongside the Syrian Democratic Forces and has backed them with hundreds of airstrikes. Now a marine artillery unit has been deployed to Syria to support the battle to take Raqqa and the US is planning on sending in more ground troops. Continue reading