The tyrants bring the invaders

This article was originally published on OpenDemocracy

“The tyrants bring the invaders.” Ibn Khaldun (1332-1406)

As liberated Aleppo was falling, its horror broadcast by media activists in real time, thousands across the world took to the streets to protest the humanitarian catastrophe unfolding. Whilst such solidarity is vital, some may bitterly complain that it is six years too late. The last pockets of grassroots democracy and creative resistance are now being crushed, and the Syrian conflict mutates into a much darker and more terrifying phase.  Continue reading


The dispossessed


Photo Credit: Aleppo Media Centre

This was originally published in Al-Jumhuriya

Evacuation. It sounds like a humanitarian operation. The word conceals its brutality. Haunting drone footage shows a seemingly endless convoy of ambulances and green buses snaking their way through a destroyed and desolate wasteland. Those who leave their homes, the city of their childhoods, may never return. This is the Syrian Nakba. It’s a trauma both individual and collective. And its impact will be felt by generations to come. Continue reading

Emerging from ‘The Kingdom of Silence’ | Beyond Institutions in Revolutionary Syria

This article was originally published at Ibraaz as part of their Future Imperfect project which looks at contemporary art practices and cultural institutions in the Middle East and North Africa. As part of the project Lois Stonock has also mapped organizations involved in Syrian art and culture.



Mohamed Tayeb, We Are Not Different in the Wind, Anymore, 2012

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The Legacy of Omar Aziz: Building autonomous, self-governing communes in Syria

This article was first published at Fifth Estate.

“A revolution is an exceptional event that will alter the history of societies, while changing humanity itself. It is a rupture in time and space, where humans live between two periods: the period of power and the period of revolution. A revolution’s victory, however, is ultimately achieving the independence of its time in order to move into a new era.”
—Omar Aziz [1]


Omar Aziz

Omar Aziz was in his sixties when he returned to Syria in 2011. He’d been working for an information technology company in Saudi Arabia but now he wanted to participate in the uprising raging against the four-decade dictatorship of the Assad family. Together with other activists, Aziz began distributing humanitarian assistance to displaced families from the Damascus suburbs under attack by the regime. He was inspired by the ongoing protests in the face of regime bullets and tanks, yet believed that demonstrations alone were not enough to break the regime’s dominance, and that revolutionary activity should permeate all aspects of people’s lives. Continue reading


The Sectarianization of Syria


Fighters from the FSA’s Southern Front: “Syria is for all – Druze, Kurds, Alawi, Assyrians, Sunni, Christians”

This article originally appeared in The New Arab. Here is the unedited version …

As the brief lull in Russian bombing comes to an end, Aleppo is entering its biggest and perhaps its last battle. For most people in the liberated east of the city this is a battle of survival against a genocidal regime, and a battle for democracy too, because in their hard-won liberty they have built democratic councils and a free media. Yet Aleppo often looks to the outside world like a battle between sects, and with good reason. A small proportion of the city’s defenders are Sunni Jihadists with previous links to al-Qaida. On the Assad regime side, up to 80% of fighters are foreign Shia Jihadists organised, trained and funded by Iran.

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London Anarchist Bookfair

Today I was invited to speak at the London Anarchist Bookfair, an event I was excited to attend, to talk about the situation in Syria. Unfortunately the event did not take place.  We were shut down by a guy called Amir Taaki (a British-Iranian who claims to be a developer of Bitcoin and someone who apparently Forbes magazine considered ‘their top 30 under 30 list for 2014’ as he had previously proudly told me by email) along with around seven of his friends (one dressed in full military garb, a real revolutionary maybe?)

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كسر حصار حلب

Here are Arabic, French and Spanish translations of my blog ‘Breaking the siege of Aleppo’. Many thanks to the team at GlobalVoices for the translations.
French and Spanish follow Arabic.

كسر حصار حلب

ترجمة: رامي الهامس

احتفل الناس في شرق حلب في 6 أغسطس/آب بعد كسر الثوار للحصار الذي فرض عليهم من قبل النظام السوري وحلفائه منذ 17 يوليو/تموز في مناطق المدينة التي يسيطر عليها الثوار منذ يوليو/تموز 2012 كسجن كبير لأكثر من 300 ألف نسمة عملوا على تخزين المواد الغذائية خوفًا من الموت جوعًا.

احتاج الأمر لجهود جبارة من الثوار مع أسلحتهم المحدودة لكسر الحصار. انضم القوميين الديمقراطيون للجيش السوري الحر إلى الميليشيات الإسلامية وجبهة فتح الشام، المعروفة حتى وقت سابق من هذا الشهر باسم جبهة النصرة، التابعة لتنظيم القاعدة في سوريا. Continue reading