Category Archives: Syrian Politics

Initiative to End the Civil War in Syria

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This 9-points plan (click here for Arabic version) represents my own little contribution, offered through the auspices of the Tharwa Foundation, to ongoing efforts aimed at resolving the conflict in y home-country: Syria. As a peace plan, it may not represent the early expectations of the revolutionaries, not to mention my own, or any one side of this conflict for that matter. But parties to the Syrian conflict have to prepare themselves for settling for much less than they initially wanted and sought. The struggle for democracy is a complicated long-term process that requires continuous readjustments. It might begin with a protest movement or a popular revolution, but it does not end with it. Politics, no matter how derided and cynical it seems sometimes, remains a necessity.

The complicated issues related to the shape of future Syria and the nature and scope of the transitional justice process are differed to a later stage, due to the intricate calculations involved on all sides. The current plan merely aims to enable parties to the conflict, domestic, regional and international, to agree on a longer-term truce (perhaps as long as 5 years), while they negotiate a final settlement that might involve talks and compromises regarding developments in other countries and even other regions of the world, not only Syria. In other words, the idea is to exchange a violent long-term conflict for a long-term political process, no matter how complicated it is bound to be, in order to ease the suffering of the Syrian people.

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The Ruse of Civility, Or, Ruse Awakening

“When nonviolence begins halfway through the war with the aggressor calling time out, it exposes itself as a ruse.” (The Atlantic, Nonviolence as Compliance)

Similarly, when calls emerge from certain quarters addressing “both sides” of a conflict and appealing for calm, even when one side has been using overwhelming violence from the get-go while the other remained committed to nonviolent tactics with few exceptions, we can all be sure that a ruse is in the work.

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Of Geopolitics & Communal Identity

Conflict in the Middle East will have consequences far beyond its borders, especially in Europe.

This is a very important article by Nicholas Blanford and can help us predict the future patterns of conflict in the region. The key quote in it for me, the one that explains how “geopolitical concerns” are understood by Iran’s leaders at this stage and, consequently, how other players are bound to understand them as swell, is this:

In February 2014, Mehdi Taeb, a senior Iranian cleric, underlined the importance of Syria to Iran in stark terms, saying it is a “strategic province for us.”  “If the enemy attacks us and wants to take either Syria or [the Iranian province of] Khuzestan, the priority is to keep Syria,” he said. “If we keep Syria, we can get Khuzestan back too, but if we lose Syria, we cannot keep Tehran.”

"Syria is our strategic province," said Mehdi Taeb, the cleric in charge of the Revolutionary Guards' Cyber Warfare Unit in February 2014.
"Syria is our strategic province," said Mehdi Taeb, the cleric in charge of the Revolutionary Guards' Cyber Warfare Unit in February 2014.

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Killers, Cowards and Charlatans

At the beginning of the Syrian revolution there were many millions who wanted to oust Assad, and many who wanted him to stay. Each group motivated by their own concerns, most of which were pretty legitimate. The systematic violence unleashed by Assad and his supporters, and the lies they perpetrated to get support for this policy from their sympathizers paved the path to where we are today. Nonviolence could not continue to work in the face of such mass and systematic violence, coupled with international indifference and opposition ineptitude.

On March 15, 2011, the Syrian street was divided between those who wanted freedom and those who kept opting for security at all costs. This cartoon shows why liberty is a much better idea, for all the risks it brings.
On March 15, 2011, the Syrian street was divided between those who wanted freedom and those who kept opting for security at all costs. This cartoon shows why liberty is a much better idea, for all the risks it brings.

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Middle East Institute hosts "Syria - A Fire Within"

The Middle East Institute hosted on November 12, 2014, a screening of the documentary "Syria - A Fire Within." The event was well-attended and featured a discussion with me afterwards. The podcast can be founded here.