Leila Al Shami
Challenging the Nation State in Syria

Syria’s current borders were drawn up by imperial map makers a hundred years ago in the midst of World War I as part of a secret accord between France and Britain to divide the Mideast spoils of the Turkish Ottoman Empire. As the colonial state gave way to the post-independence state, power was transferred from Western masters to local elites.

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Leila Al Shami
The Legacy of Omar Aziz Building autonomous, self-governing communes in Syria

“A revolution is an exceptional event that will alter the history of societies, while changing humanity itself. It is a rupture in time and space, where humans live between two periods: the period of power and the period of revolution. A revolution’s victory, however, is ultimately achieving the independence of its time in order to move into a new era.”

—Omar Aziz [1]

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Leila Al Shami
The Syrian Quagmire Civilians are trapped between the Assad regime, foreign states & ideological war lords

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A family in Idlib Province, Syria, home to three million people, half of them displaced, or forcibly evacuated. Idlib was recently captured by hard-line Islamists. The sign reads “We are one of 760,000 families in Idlib.” / #HumansOfIdlib

If 2011 looked like the moment when people could unite, both within and across countries, to topple decades-old dictatorships with the demand for freedom and social justice, today looks like the moment of counter-revolutionary success. After eight years of increasingly brutal conflict in Syria, Bashar al-Assad still presides as president over a now destroyed, fragmented and traumatized country. The dominant narrative is that the war is nearing its end. States once vocally opposed to Assad now have other strategic concerns which take precedence over the victims of his savage efforts to hold onto power. Yet, on the ground, conditions are far from stable and civilians remain trapped and are paying the price for ongoing struggles for power and territory between the regime, foreign states and ideological war lords.

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