Generational Dislocations

One Hundred Years of Displacement in a Beirut Suburb

by Joanne Randa Nucho
published in MER287

Since 2011, violence in Syria has worsened the widespread displacement of people in the Middle East and destroyed several cities. The images of displaced Syrian families fleeing to Turkey, Jordan and Lebanon broadcast around the world had a haunting resonance. Archival photographs of Armenian refugee camps in Aleppo from one hundred years ago are today echoed by images of Syrian refugee camps across the southern Turkish border. With war comes layers of displacement as migration changes the social and physical fabric of both cities from which people are displaced as well as cities in which they have resettled. Sometimes these displacements are generationally repeated by members of the same family.

Is the Rojava Dream at Risk? An Interview with Dilar Dirik

by Giuseppe Acconcia | published July 24, 2018

In 2011, as Syria’s uprising spread, the Kurds living in the country’s northern provinces organized themselves to defend their neighborhoods and provide social services. The Kurds’ “local coordination committees” were similar to the bodies of the same name that sprung up everywhere in Syria where the popular revolt took root. In most places, these committees were eclipsed as Bashar al-Asad’s regime lashed out to quash the uprising and the opposition – largely peaceful at the outset – armed itself in response. In the majority-Kurdish areas of the country, the regime withdrew its forces and the local coordination committees became the administrative and security apparatus of a de facto autonomous zone known as Rojava.

Conventional Humanitarian Solutions Fail the Test

by Parastou Hassouri
published in MER286

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
published in MER286

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
published in MER286

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.

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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.

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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.