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).

Please Subscribe to access the full contents of this article.

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.

Please Subscribe to access the full contents of this article.

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.

Please Subscribe to access the full contents of this article.

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.

Please Subscribe to access the full contents of this article.

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.

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 - 11:57am

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.