so afkaari and ma-fi-shi and i are doing a thing where we talk syrian culture and memory and being and collectivity and diaspora and stuff and we made a tumblr for it so pls go follow :) —> syrianmemorycollective our first post is super cool too, it is a cool song that is meaningful and stuff
THIS IS WHAT THE AFTERMATH OF AN ASSAD ‘BARREL BOMB’ EXPLOSION LOOKS LIKE. Aleppo (Qadi Asker): Nov 28, 2013 - A total of 11 people were killed when Assad’s forces dropped a barrel of TNT on this neighborhood in Aleppo. Among the dead are 4 four children and two women, one of whom were pregnant.
This is Assad. This is the hell his forces have turned Syria into.
This is a video of the barrel being tossed out the back of the helicopter. As you can see, it takes several long moments for it to reach the ground. This is why this weapon of choice from Assad is the most dreaded by people in Syria. The length of time it takes to fall is too short to run since the blast radius is so huge, yet it is more than enough time to contemplate your impending death.
Moments after the strike.
More from the aftermath
Another video of the aftermath.
We live in dark times when tyrants are hailed as saviours and martyrs are called terrorists.
History repeats itself – as Hama did before Daraa, and Hafez before Bashar. History also bears witness to the simple fact that sooner or later, every tyrant’s rule ends. In fact, tyrants have fallen over the centuries of our collective civilisation, on this very land called Syria.
Perhaps we will not be able to rejoice soon (or not even for decades) that the Assad regime is finally finished. That will not change one fact: asking for him or his regime to stay will not save lives. Instead, this decision will take more Syrian lives. Thousands more lives.
Deceptive options and skewed choices can be framed as powerful persuasions, as the “last hope” and the “moral choice”. These “solutions for the Syrian conflict” mock the Syrian people’s heavy sacrifices, bloody history, and desire for a peaceful future of freedom and dignity.
If the world has now decided to act “as if”, this complicit world should know that the Syrian people ended that charade 30 months ago. That was their unambiguous choice.
Beyond the dead, tortured, and displaced people; beyond the destroyed cities and scorched landscapes; beyond all what we have lost; does the world really expect Syrians to go back to acting “as if”? As if they loved the illegitimate leader in Damascus? As if the tyrant’s clothes were not soaked with the people’s blood? As if the lies had become the truth? As if history had never unfolded in the terrible ways it did?
As if nothing had happened at all?
Palestinian refugees struggle to avoid sectarian violence surrounding camps in Tripoli, Lebanon.
Beddawi refugee camp, Lebanon - The ongoing investigation into the November 19 attack on the Iranian embassy in Beirut has so far uncovered the identities of two suicide bombers.
The revelation that one of the dead suspects, Adnan Mousa Mohammed, was Palestinian - from Sidon’s overcrowded and impoverished Ein el-Helweih refugee camp - is chilling for Lebanon’s vulnerable Palestinian community.
"The Palestinians always pay a price," said Khalid Yamani, a worker with the Palestinian Youth Organisation from his office in the Beddawi refugee camp, located on the outskirts of Lebanon’s northern city of Tripoli. His words echo fears shared by many of the 455,000 Palestinians registered as living in Lebanon.
Beddawi has been swamped by Palestinians seeking refuge from conflict in recent years. In 2007, the neighbouring camp of Nahr el-Bared - then the site of a prosperous regional market selling black-market goods from Syria - was destroyed in a prolonged battle between the Lebanese army and a hard-line armed group, Fatah al-Islam.
Thousands of civilians fled the violence to Beddawi, having lost their homes, livelihoods and tight-knit community. As a result, the camp’s population doubled to 30,000.
More than six years later, promises by the Lebanese government to rebuild Nahr el-Bared into a “model” camp remain unfulfilled. Only 1,200 families have returned so far, reconstruction has been slow, and international donors have not honoured their pledges.
The Palestinian refugee camps in Lebanon are overcrowded and run down. But Syrian refugees are moving in as they flee the fighting in their homeland.
"I’d rather be a sex worker than a beggar"
BEIRUT: When the sun sets, the woman who calls herself Layal paints her face, dons tight-fitting, colorful clothing, lets down her wavy hair and heads to Beirut’s Hamra Street to look for customers. She balances gracefully on her sky-high heels, maintaining a sense of elegance even as she licks her lips at passers-by. Once a store clerk in Damascus, Layal has now turned to sex work in order to support her two children in Syria. She insists she is not ashamed and prefers sex work to begging, but admits “it’s not easy.”
“Of course I would change my job,” she says. “[But] I don’t have any products to sell, I don’t have a farm with fruits or vegetables to sell, I have myself to sell, and I’d much rather earn my money [like that] than I would begging on the street.”
Layal and those like her are viewed with a mix of suspicion and pity by their compatriots who choose to beg.
“It’s shameful,” says Fatima, a Syrian woman wearing a long black abaya and clutching her infant child.
“I would never sell my body,” she adds, while intermittently asking passers-by for change in one of Hamra’s side-streets.
Layal says her Iraqi husband, who she described as a successful trader, sends her a monthly allowance from Baghdad, but that it’s not enough to cover her $900 rent in Lebanon and allow her to send money to her family back in Syria. He has no idea his wife is supplementing their income with prostitution, she says.
“A woman should never depend on anyone else for money, even her husband,” she says defiantly.
“Before Nusra [Front] and the other fundamentalist groups came in there were barely any suicide bombings,” she says. “Now in Damascus you can go out to buy groceries and never come back. I had to leave.”
Layal chooses to work alone, citing the long hours, frequent abuse and low pay of brothels. She would rather not lose a percentage of her income to a pimp or madam who could beat her with impunity, she explains.
“I can’t afford to have my salary slashed, but I also don’t want to return to Damascus and see them [my children] with bruises on my face,” she says. “Some women who work in these brothels never even return.”
Layal’s fear of exploitation springs from her experiences in Lebanon.
“The first time I came here I almost got raped in a parking lot. That was the worst,” she recalls with a shudder.
“I’ve also had my bag snatched and men whistle and touch me sometimes when I’m walking. In Syria, whatever you are, this wouldn’t happen to a woman. [They would go] straight to jail in Syria.”
A recent report by Human Rights Watch found that many Syrian women like Layal find themselves the victims of sexual exploitation and harassment by employers, landlords, local community members and even local faith-based aid organizations in Lebanon.
In addition to such behavior, some refugee women are also forced into sex work or turn to it out of desperation. The latter is known as survival sex. The Internal Security Forces have busted several prostitution rings that “employ” Syrian women and girls.
Layal considers herself lucky compared to other Syrian women who have turned to sex work, especially those living in camps and rural areas.
“I know some women here in Hamra, but in the Bekaa women who are prostitutes can’t charge the same amount I would in Beirut,” she says.
Still, Layal must contend with the dangers of the job as well as the political reality of the streets she works.
At the main Hamra office of the Syrian Socialist Nationalist Party, which effectively controls the area, one of the party underlings who asked not to be identified had a lax attitude toward the oldest profession in the world. “Prostitution is a line of work, a service, so why not let them work?” he said.
Layal doesn’t like to walk by the party’s office on Makdissi Street, complaining of constant verbal harassment from the party cadres.
As night turns to day, an exhausted Layal returns to her flat with whatever money she has managed to scrape together from a night on the town.
“I don’t have a fixed rate,” she says. “I sometimes take $100, sometimes more and sometimes less. I only want enough to return to Syria and financially provide for my children.”
The Historic Scale of Syria’s Refugee Crisis:
1: In August, as many as 40,000 people hiked through the dry hills of eastern Syria to Peshkhabour, a border town in Iraqi Kurdistan. Many refugees described a campaign by jihadi fighters to destroy agriculture and cut power and water supplies in Syrian Kurdish areas.
2: The refugee crisis worsened once the war overtook Syria’s most populated areas. Raeda, 15, shown above with her baby brother in Saidnayel, Lebanon, is originally from Aleppo, a city of 2.1 million. She lost sight in one eye after being hit by shrapnel from an explosion near her house.
Lebanon’s population has grown almost 20 percent over the past year because of the refugee influx. Since the government has decided not to build official camps, most of the 790,000 Syrians now in Lebanon live wherever they can find shelter: in half-finished cinder block houses, stables, crowded apartments and makeshift camps.
3: In Turkey, the government houses about 200,000 refugees in tent and trailer camps, and at least 300,000 more are thought to be spread around the country. Above, workers in Kilis, a Turkish town near the border with Syria, loaded bags of flour onto a truck delivering humanitarian aid to Syria in February.
Jordan has the second-largest population of Syrian refugees. Below, refugees wait in the registration line at the Zaatari camp, which has swelled over the past year to 120,000 residents. The camp has become one of Jordan’s largest cities.
Smugglers left 150 Syrian refugees adrift in the Mediterranean with a satellite phone and an emergency number in Italy. Save us, they pleaded to the Italians before the phone went dead. We are lost.
SYRACUSE, Sicily — Fifty miles off the southeastern coast of Sicily, the refugee boat first appeared as a gray spot on the horizon, rising up or dipping away with the churn of the Mediterranean. Then, as an Italian Coast Guard rescue ship drew closer, the small boat came fully into view, as did the dim figure of a man, standing on the bow, waving a white blanket.
Adrift at sea, the boat heaved with about 150 Syrians fleeing war. Mothers in head scarves clutched infants. A child wore a SpongeBob life jacket. Smugglers had left them alone with a satellite phone and an emergency number in Italy: Save us, they pleaded to the Italians before the phone went dead. We are lost.
Capt. Roberto Mangione shouted for everyone to stay calm as he positioned his Coast Guard ship alongside the listing trawler. The Syrians, pale and beleaguered, started clapping. They had been at sea for six days, drinking fetid water, enduring a terrifying storm. One man combed his hair, as if preparing to greet his new life. A woman named Abeer, dazed and exhausted, thought: salvation, at last.
“I had nothing left in Syria,” she explained after stepping onto the rescue boat. She had fled with her husband and three teenage children. “We came with nothing but ourselves to Europe.”
The Syrian exodus has become one of the gravest global refugee crises of recent decades. More than two million people have fled Syria’s civil war, most resettling in neighboring Jordan, Turkey and Lebanon. But since this summer, refugees have also started pouring into Europe in what became for many weeks a humanitarian crisis in the Mediterranean. Over five months, Italy’s Coast Guard rescued thousands of Syrians, even as hundreds of other migrants, including many Syrians, died in two major shipwrecks in October.
In pictures: Syrian refugees left in the cold.
Residents of the Domiz refugee camp in Iraq’s Kurdistan region prepare for winter.
The number of Syrian refugees in Iraq’s Kurdistan region has reached 200,000. The United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR) expects that the number may exceed 500,000 by the end of 2013.
There are about 80,000 refugees currently living in the Domiz camp, 20km southeast of Dohuk city and about 60km from the Syria-Iraq border.
Local authorities established the camp in April 2012. The Kurdish security police ensure security there and in the surrounding areas.
The authorities are keeping the borders open for Syrians of Kurdish origin. Refugees walk the three-mile dirt road snaking through no-man’s land to the Kurdish region of Iraq. The Sahela border crossing is the main escape route for Syrians of Kurdish origin.
"When a country is physically destroyed, its people dying and fleeing and a state and its services collapsing, the most important thing a neighbour can do is to keep the borders open. The Kurdistan region is an anchor of peace and stability in a very troubled part of the world," António Guterres, UNHCR chief, said.
Guterres called the Syria conflict the “worst threat to global peace and security since the last century. We are witnessing death and destruction, the collapse of the state and the enormous suffering of the people”.
He noted that all relief agencies are dramatically underfunded at a time when millions of Syrians are in need of humanitarian assistance inside Syria and the number of refugees is fast approaching two million.
AWL’s dire post-revolutionary forecasts do not appear to be based on a careful analysis of the 68 towns and cities that have been liberated from regime control. These areas are ruled by a (sometimes overlapping and competing) patchwork of civilian and military councils, only some of which have a pronounced Islamist character. In Idlib, Islamists were frozen out of the civilian leadership bodies. In Kafranbel, a town famous for its humorous and sharp slogans attacking Assad, the international community, and at times even the opposition’s exiled leadership, the local council is drafting a secular constitution to create an interim civilian legal authority. In Aleppo, a coalition of salafi, conservative, and moderate Islamists have formed a judiciary called Hayaa al-Sharia to combat criminality and arbitrate disputes among the population. Thus far, Hayaa al-Sharia has not acted in a sectarian manner by persecuting members of minority communities, and the same is true of the Islamist judiciary bodies that have sprung up elsewhere in the country. When self-appointed Islamists authorities have acted to repress women or political opponents, they have met resistance in the form of peaceful protests, a kind of revolution within the revolution. They have generally relented and released whomever they arrested instead of using deadly force against demonstrators.
Studying areas where opposition militias have been victorious over the regime reveals a picture that has nothing in common with the bleak predictions of AWL. Instead of a Taliban-style salafi dystopia rife with sectarian killings, persecution of minority religious and national groups, and apolitical warlordism, liberated areas are governed fairly effectively by a mix of secular and Islamist elements, the latter of which range from moderate to conservative. Even in areas such as Aleppo where conservative Islamists are strongest, their predominance is contested at best and contingent upon the extreme and unusual conditions created by the revolution.
Despite their vanguard role on the battlefield, Islamist chants and slogans at demonstrations calling for a Caliphate are not terribly popular. Proposed Islamist slogans for the weekly Friday protests such as “Armies of Islam: Rescue Syria” are regularly defeated by thousands-strong majority votes. Here, it is important to draw a distinction between religious terminology and Islamist politics (a distinction Islamists prefer to blur); “God Is Great” is not a political program whereas “Islam Is the Answer” strongly suggests one. As the Assad regime stepped up its murderous repression in 2012, the Friday slogans became increasingly religious (invoking the name of Allah and appealing to the ummah for help) but not Islamist (advocating Sharia law, a Caliphate, or jihad). Revolutionary Syrians respect the fearless heroism of the mujahadeen on the battlefield but do not look to them for leadership on the political field or for ideas about good governance.
To sum up: the hijackers may be on board the plane but they are not in the cockpit and do not have their hands on the controls.
AWL correctly notes the “increasingly religiously radical nature of the opposition” and that “initiative and power in the anti-Assad movement has increasingly passed into the hands of Sunni-Islamist militias funded by Saudi Arabia or Qatar, or led by jihadists from outside the country.” However, the conclusion drawn from these accurate observations – that “a victory for the opposition against the state is likely to lead to ethnic cleansing and warlordism as Syria descends into chaos and breaks apart” – does not follow. To talk about Syria’s descent into warlordism, ethnic cleansing, and partition after the regime’s inevitable demise is to engage in nightmarish speculation. Lenin warned such an approach, arguing that “in assessing a given situation, a Marxist must proceed not from what is possible, but from what is real.”
In the past two years, there have been no sectarian massacres except those committed by the regime and its supporters against Syria’s (and the revolution’s) Sunni majority. Revolutionary Syria is not occupied Iraq. Despite the regime’s relentless propaganda campaign to demonize the opposition as sectarian and genocidal towards non-Sunnis and despite massacres by Assad’s forces of Sunnis at Houla, Aleppo, Al-Qubair, Zamlaka in Damascus, and Arbaeen in Hama, the opposition has not retaliated against Christian, Druze, Kurdish, Alawi, or Ismaili communities as Iraq’s Shia death squads retaliated against Sunni civilians after Al-Qaeda’s massive car bombings of Shia markets and squares. This is not to deny that sectarianism is an ongoing problem for and a constant danger to the revolution. However, the regime’s failure to spark a sectarian cycle of violence by repeatedly massacring of Sunni civilians shows that, although the opposition is disproportionately Sunni, its aspirations remain national rather than confessional in nature. If AWL was correct in claiming the opposite, would representatives of the Alawi community meet in Cairo to call for Assad’s downfall, assert that “this revolution is for all Syrians,” and appeal to Alawi military personnel to mutiny?
The Assad regime was built on a sectarian basis to withstand exactly the kind a popular uprising that is now underway. Given this starting point, what is remarkable about the Syrian revolution is not its sectarianism but its anti-sectarianism, its dogged refusal to play into Assad’s hands and allow the regime to pose as the last line of defense for minority faiths. The masses have become too conscious, too politically enlightened, have shed too much blood, and have struggled too hard for too long for the revolution’s lofty ideals to debase themselves by falling for the regime’s divide-and-rule schemes. That is why they voted by the thousands for “There Will Be No Sectarian State in Syria” to be the slogan of all the Friday protests held across the country on March 8, 2013 (a full list of the Friday protest slogans can be found in the Appendix).
"The choice between Assad’s tyranny and Islamist tyranny is no choice at all"
This equivalence is false and not only because liberated areas are far from being Islamist tyrannies. One side in the Syrian civil war tortures children, the other does not; one side murders and tortures peaceful demonstrators, the other does not; one side drops bombs on universities and fires Scud missiles at civilian neighborhoods, the other does not; one side massacres hundreds of civilians of a particular sect, the other does not; one side relies on fear and terror to keep its troops from defecting, the other does not.