Conventional Humanitarian Solutions Fail the Test

by Parastou Hassouri

Syrians experienced the largest single-day exodus of the war on March 15, 2018. Seven years to the day since the start of the uprising in Syria, some 45,000 civilians fled their homes in besieged Eastern Ghouta. The fact that such large-scale displacement took place over the course of a single day as the conflict entered its eighth year is a stark reminder that the displacement caused by the war has not abated and will not end any time soon.

Refugee Rights Hit the Wall

by Sophia Hoffmann

I was in Damascus in early 2007 to conduct research on the situation of newly arrived Iraqi refugees when I went looking for the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) Syria office. I found it in a two-room apartment downtown, staffed by a single Syrian protection officer. The pressures on the organization were becoming intense, she told me. Earlier that day she had spontaneously handed out some cash to a young Iraqi man who had nowhere to stay so that he could pay for a hotel. The thought of him having to sleep in a park was abhorrent and scandalous. UNHCR Syria’s annual budget was $1.4 million at the time.

The Politics of Health in Counterterrorism Operations

by Jonathan Whittall

In the early morning hours of October 3, 2015, a helicopter gunship operated by US special forces circled the Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) trauma center in Kunduz, Afghanistan. It fired precise and repeated rounds on the main hospital building, quickly reducing it to rubble. Patients and staff who survived the airstrikes were shot while fleeing the burning building. By the end of the assault, 42 people had died, including 24 patients, 14 staff and four caretakers. The week prior to the attack on the hospital, the Taliban had taken control of the Afghan city of Kunduz. It was the first time the Taliban had gained control of a provincial capital since its fall from power in 2001 following the US-led invasion of Afghanistan.

The Syrian Uprising and Mobilization 
of the Syrian Diaspora in South America

by Cecília Baeza , Paulo Pinto
published in MER284

The Syrian uprising against President Bashar al-Asad’s government that began in 2011, and the armed conflict that followed, has generated a strong reaction among the large populations of Arabic-speaking immigrants and their descendants in both Brazil and Argentina. Institutions and community members mobilized in the past around political issues of the Middle East, such as the Palestinian question, the US-led invasion of Iraq and the Israeli bombing of Lebanon in 2006.

Syria Dispatch

by Samer Abboud
published in MER283

A common criticism of the Obama administration’s foreign policy on Syria is that the decision not to intervene militarily in the civil war starting in 2011 prolonged the conflict and paved the way for the Syrian government’s external allies to alter its course. This formulation contains two related, but false, assumptions. First, it assumes that the administration was either confused or indecisive about how to approach the complexities of the conflict, and second, that US policy was vacuous and thus immaterial. A closer look at the Obama administration’s policy, however, reveals forms of political and military engagement that were anything but inconsequential and demonstrate that the choice was never simply between intervention and non-intervention.

Please Subscribe to access the full contents of this article.

From the Editor

by Chris Toensing
published in MER281

As the baleful administration of President Donald Trump bumbles from one scandal to the next, a set of deeply disturbing patterns have emerged in the domestic politics and foreign policy of the United States.

Growing Up in Wartime

Images of Refugee Children’s Education in Syrian Television Drama

by Hayden Bates , Rebecca Joubin
published in MER278

For years prior to the March 2011 uprising in Syria, writers of the sketch comedy series Buq‘at Daw’ (Spotlight) used symbolism and wordplay to mount a not-so-subtle challenge to the regime on state television. [1] In a 2002 skit, written by Samir al-Barqawi and directed by Layth Hajju, a teacher chalks tumuh (ambition) on the board and asks his pupils to tell him what theirs might be. One boy, Sa‘id, duly jots down his life goal on a piece of paper. The camera never shows what the child has written, but the teacher is so frightened by what he sees that he calls in the school’s principal to deal with the “disaster.” The boy’s father is summoned, and he is likewise terrified.

Please Subscribe to access the full contents of this article.

Mobilizing in Exile

Syrian Associational Life in Turkey and Lebanon

by Killian Clarke , Gözde Güran
published in MER278

The neighborhood of Narlıca sits on the outskirts of the small city of Antakya, Turkey. A spread of low-rise, brick-and-cement buildings separated by unpaved roads, Narlıca was a lightly populated working-class suburb prior to the outbreak of civil war across the border in Syria. Today, with that war dragging into its sixth year, the neighborhood has taken on a new identity as Antakya’s “little Syria.” The population has more than doubled, with Syrian residents now outnumbering Turks; most of the storefront signs are in Arabic; and newly opened schools teach the Syrian curriculum.

Syrian Refugees in the Media

by Katty Alhayek
published in MER278

It was September 2, 2015 when the Syrian refugee crisis abruptly came to dominate the English-language media. On that day broadcast and print outlets led with the iconic image of Alan Kurdi, 3, lying lifeless on a Turkish beach after his family’s failed attempt to cross the Mediterranean Sea into Europe. The shocking picture prompted solemn pronouncements from Western leaders regarding the world’s responsibility to care for refugees, even as actual policy in most Western countries got worse.

Please Subscribe to access the full contents of this article.

Oasis in the Desert?

Coproduction and the Future of Zaatari

by Denis Sullivan , Charles Simpson
published in MER278

From the summer of 2012 through 2014, there were rapid influxes of refugees from Syria into the Zaatari camp in Jordan. The camp’s population spiked in early 2013—from 56,000 in January to a peak of 202,000 just four months later—overwhelming the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and Jordanian government officials who were trying to maintain order. Such runaway growth would have been difficult to manage in an established city in a developed state, much less an ad hoc community of tents in the desert.

Please Subscribe to access the full contents of this article.