Syria's Muslim Brethren

by Hanna Batatu

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.

Security and Resilience Among Syrian Refugees in Jordan

by Denis Sullivan , Sarah Tobin | published October 14, 2014

Imagine living in a refugee camp. For most, that phrase is enough to conjure images of makeshift tents, dusty pathways, queues for water and food, and above all, fear. Now imagine living in Zaatari refugee camp in a northern part of Jordan 7.5 miles from the Syrian border and Dar‘a region, sharing an area only about three square miles with 100,000 other refugees in one of the most densely populated “cities” in the Arab world, with near-constant shuffling and reshuffling of households, food and water distribution points, and other services, and refugees arriving and leaving all the time. Who, would you imagine, is responsible for keeping you and your family safe, fed and housed? Who will help you make sure your children can go to school, and do so safely?

The Next Round of an Unwinnable War Beckons

by Amanda Ufheil-Somers | published September 17, 2014

Once again, a U.S. president vows to eliminate an extremist militia in the Middle East to make the region, and Americans, safe.

And that means it’s time again for a reality check. Having failed in its bid to destroy the Taliban and al-Qaeda in Afghanistan, the United States is still trying to dismantle both organizations. Over the course of 13 years of war, that mission has spread to Syria, Iraq, Yemen, Somalia, Libya, Mali, and West Africa, as militant groups on two continents have adopted the al-Qaeda brand.

Educational Aftershocks for Syrian Refugees in Lebanon

by Sarah E. Parkinson | published September 7, 2014 - 12:57pm

More than 50 percent of Syrian refugees living in Lebanon are 17 or younger. Back home the great majority of them were in school. But youth who try to continue their education in Lebanon face social, economic and bureaucratic obstacles. The cost can be so steep that their parents may opt to keep them at home. There is a lengthy wait list to attend Lebanese public schools, which are soliciting outside donations to pay teachers and other staff for a second shift made up of refugee children.

The Asad Regime and Its Troubles

by Alasdair Drysdale

Syria, under continuous Baathist rule since 1963, has relinquished its image of the 1950s and early 1960s as a peculiarly ungovernable and unstable state. Next year the regime hopes to celebrate its twentieth anniversary. A good measure of its maturity is that a majority of Syrians were born after the revolution. The regime’s younger members may have been 10 or so when the Baath seized power. For several years now entrants to the military academy cannot remember a time when Syria was anything but Baathist.

From the Editors

The massacre at Sabra and Shatila camps was an episode that immediately transcended the brutal war it was part of. The Israeli commission of inquiry seems almost a distraction from the obvious responsibility of the Begin government in this affair. Many of Begin’s critics regard the massacre as an inexcusable error of criminal proportions, but its implications are more ominous than this. It was a piece of a larger campaign, beginning in the south of Lebanon in early June, that killed more than 17,000 people. The carpet bombing of the camps in the south, the artillery pounding Beirut -- all this the Palestinians survived and the world tolerated.

Waterless Wadi Barada

Manufacturing Scarcity in a Syrian River Valley

by Francesca de Châtel , Mohammad Raba'a
published in MER271

When ‘Ali was a little boy, he spent his summers swimming in the Barada River and playing in the orchards rustling in the breeze along the banks. “Summers in Wadi Barada were amazing,” says the 28-year old from the village of Kufayr al-Zayt to the west of the Syrian capital of Damascus. “I can still hear the water rushing down the valley, and the screams and laughter of children playing in the river. We would spend all day on the banks of the Barada playing in the water, picking blackberries and building campfires in the evenings.”

Please Subscribe to access the full contents of this article.

Nowhere to Turn for Mosul's Refugees

by Sophia Hoffmann | published July 15, 2014 - 10:51am

In 2006, 30,000 Iraqis arrived in Syria every month, seeking and receiving safe haven from US occupation and sectarian warfare as kidnappings, death threats, and bombings by air and land engulfed Baghdad and the southern governorates of Iraq. By 2011, an estimated 1-2 million Iraqis had fled to neighboring countries.

Refugee Need and Resilience in Zaatari

by Curtis Ryan | published June 22, 2014 - 8:00pm

Not surprisingly, a visit to the Zaatari camp for Syrian refugees in northern Jordan is mainly a depressing experience. Yet there are elements of inspiration here as well.