In his book "The Impossible Revolution – Making Sense of the Syrian Tragedy", Syrian dissident Yassin al-Haj Saleh chronicles the Syrian revolution and explains how it was destroyed. His analysis shows all too clearly how little the West knows about Syria to this day. By Emran Feroz
The Other Regional Counter-Revolution: Iran’s Role in the Shifting Political Landscape of the Middle East
Iraqi security forces firing tear gas and live rounds into a crowd of demonstrators during the 2019 Tishreen (October) uprising
The last decade has seen historic political upheavals across the Middle East and North Africa: a tsunami of popular uprisings that have brought down several dictators and led to momentous transformations in political consciousness, if not always to democratic outcomes. But the last decade has also seen a concomitant counter-revolutionary roll-back across the region: authoritarian regimes, entrenched elites, ruling classes, deep states, and reactionary forces have marshalled considerable resources to torpedo these movements from below.
Sir, – Damian Hugh O’Neill (Letters, April 12th), in his reply to my letter of April 6th, makes the case for the lifting of sanctions on the Assad regime in Syria, suggesting I offered a “one-sided” view. He selectively quotes recent reports from Amnesty International and the UN’s International Commission of Enquiry on Syria – though they have been publishing these reports since the peaceful uprising in 2011 – noting that they usually condemn all perpetrators of war crimes and crimes against humanity but failed to mention that they also usually attribute responsibility for the majority to the Assad regime and his allies Russia and Iran.
Sir, â Your editorial âThe Irish Times view on Syriaâs war: a call that must be heardâ (March 9th), urging all parties to heed the pleas of NGOs appealing for aid, while commendable, will unfortunately not address the reason preventing the rebuilding of the country. President Bashar al-Assad destroyed Syria to hold onto to power by adopting an exclusively and extreme military response in crushing the peaceful uprising in 2011 and has been indicted for crimes against humanity on multiple occasions since then by all of the leading independent human rights organisations, including Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch, as well as the UNâs Independent International Commission of Inquiry on Syria established by the UN Human Rights Council.
Author Protesters at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C. waving the Syrian rebel flag. November 25, 2019. Photo by Miki Jourdan / Flickr
The cycle of protests that collectively became known as the “Arab Spring” were triggered by a desperate event outside a government building in the small Tunisian city of Sidi Bouzid in late December 2010, when Mohamad Bouazizi set fire to himself in an act of protest.
Mass demonstrations followed across Tunisia and quickly ricocheted across the Middle East and North Africa — expressions of young and old, men and women asserting their right to a life of dignity.
By early February, huge mobilizations had forced Tunisian and Egyptian dictators Zine El Abidine Ben Ali and Hosni Mubarak to resign. However, it’s a long road from regime change to social transformation as would become clear over the following years. And even such a preliminary victory would prove elusive for other countries in the region.