Some Days Before the Day After

by Omar S. Dahi
published in MER274

The conflict in Syria has entered its fifth year, with no end in sight. There is no shortage of visions, however, for what Syria should look like after the fighting is over.

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Fuel Subsidy Policy and Popular Mobilization in Syria

by Zachary Cuyler | published March 16, 2015 - 1:17pm

On February 17, Syrian Minister of Oil Muhammad al-Lahham warned Parliament that the price of fuel would have to increase. This announcement came just one month after the government raised the official price of diesel by more than 50 percent to 125 Syrian pounds (70 cents) per liter, the largest single hike since the uprising of 2011 and an eightfold increase since May of that year.

Trapped in Refuge

The Syrian Crisis in Jordan Worsens

by Christiane Fröhlich , Matthew R. Stevens | published March 2, 2015

The daily lives of Syrian refugees in Jordan have always been difficult, but until the winter of 2014-2015, they were defined more by concern about making ends meet than outright panic.

The Syrian Labor Movement

by Elisabeth Longuenesse
published in MER110

‘Abdallah Hanna, al-Haraka al-‘Ummaliyya fi Suriya wa Lubnan, 1900-1945 [The Labor Movement in Syria and Lebanon, 1900-1945] (Damascus: Dar Dimashq, 1973).

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The Importance of Bodyguards

by Gerard Michaud
published in MER110

Power in Syria today is based on a narrow, clannish system, more akin to what was described by Ibn Khaldoun 600 years ago than to Western “development theory” or “the non-capitalist road.” Family ties are key. In the Syrian army, a major can have more power than a general if he is, like Mouin Nasif, a relative of Rif‘at al-Asad. Muhammad Makhloud, director of the State Tobacco Monopoly, is the president’s brother-in-law. A veritable army is responsible for protecting him and his family. His house in Damascus has practically been transformed into a fortress.

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Social Bases for the Hama Revolt

by Fred H. Lawson
published in MER110

During the first week of February 1982, serious fighting broke out in Syria between residents of the north-central city of Hamah and the government’s armed forces. A Syrian army raid on a number of buildings that were suspected of being hideouts for local cells of the Muslim Brothers precipitated the fighting. Brother militants foiled this operation using modern small arms and grenade launchers. They then attacked a variety of government installations, including the Hama headquarters of the police and of the Baath party, and also the airfield on the edge of town. By the second day of the fighting, mosques in some sections of the city broadcast calls for a general uprising against the country’s rulers.

Salah al-Din al-Bitar's Last Interview

by Marie-Christine Aulas
published in MER110

We met in Paris, in a small office on the top floor of a building looking out on a courtyard. Salah al-Din al-Bitar answered my questions in what was to be his last recorded interview. The year before, he had founded al-Ihya’ al-‘Arabi, the publication named after the movement that preceded the Baath Party. He devoted all his energy to this new publication. His aim was to provide a forum on Arab unity, the goal to which he devoted his life. The son of a Sunni bourgeois family from Damascus, Bitar was deeply involved in the struggle for Syrian national independence. He saw this struggle as closely related to larger developments in the Arab world. Such was the ideological thrust of the Baath, which he founded with Michel ‘Aflaq.

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Starvation, Submission and Survival

The Syrian War Through the Prism of Food

by Brent Eng , Jose Ciro Martinez
published in MER273

On December 23, 2012, following a week of imposed scarcity, the Syrian town of Halfaya received 100 sacks of flour from an Islamic charity. The town’s main bakery started churning out bread, an all too infrequent occurrence since violence between the Asad regime and opposition forces escalated earlier that year. Hungry citizens began to queue.

Syria's Muslim Brethren

by Hanna Batatu
published in MER110

Who are the Muslim Brethren in Syria? What is their significance socially? How are they related to Syria's social structure? What is the social meaning of their ideas and values? Are these ideas and values responses to distinguishable conditions and interests of one or more identifiable social groups? Are the Muslim Brethren, in other words, an incidental phenomenon or the organizational expression of a basic structural force? For the most part, this essay deals with these and related questions. It provides a tentative, exploratory interpretation, with some vivid and sharp images, rather than a thorough and refined picture of the movement.

Ghosts of the Future

Fears of a Phantom Referendum Haunt the Turkish-Syrian Border

by Noga Malkin , Nick Danforth | published October 24, 2014

Hatay -- a Turkish province on the border with Syria that is now flooded with Syrian refugees -- has a special status in Turkey. In the words of a Syrian doctor to whom we spoke in the summer of 2014 and who failed to get a residency permit to live there, “It’s like [the province] is not exactly part of Turkey yet.” The doctor, a refugee for the past three years, explained that according to a secret international agreement, the province’s final status is to be determined by a referendum in 2039, a century after a complex population registry commonly thought of as a plebiscite ceded the area to Turkey.