Palestine

In solidarietà con Ashraf Fayadh

Featured Image -- 2082#FreeAshraf

Riprendo le parole di Chiara Comito di “editoria araba” per offrire un riassunto sulla vicenda del poeta palestinese Ashraf Fayadh. Condivido anche l’elenco degli appuntamenti italiani di quest’oggi che fanno parte della campagna internazionale Life and Freedom for Ashraf Fayadh – Wordwide reading, oggi in contemporanea in 43 paesi per parlare del caso dell’artista condannato alla pena capitale in Arabia Saudita.

Pubblicherò anche le poesie tradotte in italiano da Jolanda Guardi, Silvia Moresi, Caterina Pinto, Simone Sibilio, Alessandro Buontempo, e Aldo Nicosia

Chi volesse leggere la sentenza di primo grado contro Ashraf, diventata condanna di morte, può farlo qui (link inizialmente pubblicato su “letture arabe” di Jolanda Guardi).

IL CASO DI ASHRAF FAYADH

Del caso di Ashraf ha scritto Chiara Comito qualche giorno fa su Internazionale:

“Poeta, artista e curatore d’arte, Ashraf Fayadh da circa due anni si trova in carcere ad Abha, in Arabia Saudita, con l’accusa di apostasia, di offesa alla morale saudita e di aver diffuso idee ateiste con la sua raccolta di poesie intitolata Al taalimat bi al dakhil (Le istruzioni sono all’interno), pubblicata a Beirut nel 2007 dall’editore libanese Dar al Farabi.

Nel novembre del 2015 un tribunale saudita l’ha condannato alla pena di morte per decapitazione, respingendo così il verdetto precedente di un altro tribunale, che gli aveva inflitto quattro anni di detenzione e 800 frustate.

Trasformazioni radicali

Ashraf Fayadh è nato in Arabia Saudita, dove vive e lavora, da una famiglia di origine palestinese. Fa parte del collettivo di artisti anglosauditi Edge of Arabia, che promuove l’arte araba e saudita contemporanea, con cui ha curato la mostraRhizoma alla Biennale di Venezia del 2013. Fayadh è stato anche il curatore di un’altra mostra, Mostly visible, esposta nel 2013 a Jeddah. Mostly visible era un’esposizione indipendente, autoprodotta e creata dal basso, che riuniva una ventina di artisti sauditi dai 18 ai 45 anni e che aveva come obiettivo quello di “promuovere la scena artistica saudita, ancora effervescente e giovane, e far sì che lo sviluppo dell’arte contemporanea in Arabia Saudita diventi mostly visible”, cioè esca dall’ombra.

Ashraf era, ed è tutt’ora, molto conosciuto nel circuito artistico saudita indipendente. Era, ed è conosciuto nella città di Abha, diventata un centro importante per la produzione artistica locale. Su Rhizoma aveva detto: “Il nostro obiettivo è fornire una visione chiara delle trasformazioni radicali vissute dall’arte saudita, che oggi è più in connessione con le sue radici, con una cultura più genuina, rappresentata dalla consapevolezza delle diverse condizioni di vita in Arabia Saudita”.

Le notizie circa i reati di cui è accusato sono confuse, a volte contraddittorie. Secondo l’organizzazione Pen international, che difende gli scrittori e gli intellettuali oggetto di pressioni e minacce, Fayadh sarebbe stato denunciato da un uomo con cui nel 2013 aveva avuto una discussione in un caffè di Abha per questioni artistiche. Sempre secondo Pen, i sostenitori di Fayadh ritengono che il poeta sia stato punito per aver postato su YouTube un video in cui era ripreso un esponente della polizia religiosa saudita che frustava un uomo in pubblico.

Altre accuse lo indicano colpevole del reato di aver intrattenuto relazioni illecite con alcune donne, le cui foto sarebbero state trovate sul suo cellulare. In questo caso Fayadh aveva spiegato che si trattava di foto scattate durante un’esposizione artistica a Jeddah. Secondo l’attivista per i diritti dei migranti Mona Kareem, citata da The Guardian, Ashraf starebbe invece pagando per le sue origini palestinesi”.

(Chiara Comito)

Questa lettura continua qui.

 

Tutte le poesie tradotte per i reading di oggi le potete leggere nel pdf  scaricabile gratuitamente a questo link.

Le poesie che seguono sono tratte da “Le istruzioni sono all’interno”, di Ashraf Fayadh, Dar al Farabi, Beirut 2007.

Tratto da “In merito al petrolio nel sangue” (Traduzione di Simone Sibilio)

 Globuli neri di petrolio

circolano tra le tue cellule

e riescono a liberarti laddove neanche la tua nausea vi riuscì

che male o danno può mai arrecare il petrolio

se non inquinare l’aria di una miseria che si lascia alle spalle

e il giorno in cui s’anneriranno quei volti

di chi scoprirà un nuovo giacimento

e il tuo cuore si gonfierà

così che dalla tua anima

eromperà petrolio

per il bene comune,

quella, del petrolio sarà la promessa, una promessa esaudita,

la fine.

 

Le tre leggi della Patria (Traduzione di Silvia Moresi)

Prima legge:

 Ogni Patria pacifica ….o in guerra costante…

Ogni Patria che, giorno dopo giorno,  senza lamentarsi viene calpestata dai tuoi piedi…

diventa nel cuore…qualcosa su cui l’esilio esistenziale non ha influenza…

e che gli toglie importanza.

 

Rappresentazione (Traduzione di Jolanda Guardi)

Un uomo e una donna che indossa la ‘abaya legale fermi ai piedi

del monte.

Un corvo li osserva dall’alto ed è come vedesse se stesso

allo specchio in compagnia di un uomo che non ama…

Un uomo che non sa che Ibn Firnās era una barzelletta storica

di cui nessuno ride eccetto un corvo che non è obbligato

a sognare di volare!

 

L’ultima stirpe di rifugiati (Traduzione di Caterina Pinto)

[…]

L’asilo: stai in piedi in fondo alla fila

per avere un tozzo di patria.

Stare in piedi: una cosa che faceva tuo nonno… senza conoscerne la ragione!

e il tozzo: tu!

La patria: un tesserino messo dove tieni i soldi.

E i soldi: fogli su cui son raffigurate le immagini dei leader.

E l’immagine: prende il tuo posto fino a che ritorni.

E il ritorno: un essere mitico… che si legge nei racconti della nonna.

Fine della prima lezione.

Mi rivolgo a te perché impari la seconda: qual è… il tuo significato?

Nel giorno del Giudizio… stanno in piedi, nudi.

Mentre voi nuotate in condotti fognari

spaccati.

Scalzi… fa bene ai piedi

ma non fa bene alla terra.

 

Per voi ergeremo pulpiti… e faremo conferenze.

E la stampa scriverà su di voi in modo decente.

Verrà sviluppato un nuovo composto… per eliminare lo sporco

ostinato

e solo a metà del prezzo.

Affrettatevi per ottenere metà della quantità.

Perché la crisi idrica è molto grave.

[…]

I READING

L’elenco dei reading di oggi, città per città, è consultabile sul blog “editoria araba” e sul sito Internet di Amnesty International Italia, che anche ha sostenuto l’iniziativa.

#freeAshraf è l’hashtag se volete condividere foto, video e post degli eventi di oggi sui social media.

Categories: Arab Gulf, Palestine, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , | Leave a comment

Boicottaggio di nome… e di fatto? (by Estella Carpi, November 2015)

American-Anthropological-Association-Members-Vote-in-Favor-of-Boycotting-Israeli-Universities

L’INSEPARABILITÀ DELLE SCELTE INTELLETTUALI ED ECONOMICHE: L’ASSOCIAZIONE DEGLI ANTROPOLOGI USA
VOTA A FAVORE DEL BOICOTTAGGIO ACCADEMICO D’ISRAELE

di Estella Carpi

Lo scorso 20 novembre a Denver (Usa) è stata una data storica per l’AMERICAN ANTHROPOLOGICAL ASSOCIATION (AAA), che, nel corso della riunione annuale più popolata nella storia dell’associazione, ha approvato l’appello della società civile palestinese di boicottare le istituzioni accademiche israeliane con una maggioranza di oltre l’88% – ovvero 1,040 voti contro 136.
Il provvedimento verrà trasmesso la prossima primavera a tutti i membri per una votazione finale a scrutinio elettronico.

La AAA, votando a favore del boicottaggio, intende riaffermare principi anti-razziali e di non-violenza e, allo stesso tempo, estirpare una volta per tutte le radici inizialmente coloniali delle scienze antropologiche.

All’evento, Ilana Feldman, docente di antropologia e diritti umani alla George Washington University, ha specificato l’importanza di supportare la causa palestinese in qualità di professionisti e non solo di individui privati, aldilà delle controversie attuali dell’antropologia nel fungere da eco e testimonianza per i popoli oppressi. Sono gli intellettuali ad avere in primis l’opportunità storica di stare dalla parte dei diritti umani, e a dare quindi efficacia a questo movimento collettivo per la giustizia.

FELDMAN HA INOLTRE EVIDENZIATO COME IN PARTICOLARE NEGLI STATI UNITI SI ABBIA L’ASSOLUTA RESPONSABILITÀ DI RIFIUTARE LO STATUS QUO E SOSTENERE LA LIBERTÀ ACCADEMICA PER TUTTI. NEL DISCORSO TENUTO DA FELDMAN, L’INTENZIONE DEL BOICOTTAGGIO È DI PARLARE AL PUBBLICO ISRAELIANO, RICORDANDO CHE IL NO ALL’OCCUPAZIONE NON VUOLE ESSERE DISCRIMINAZIONE DEL SINGOLO. VUOLE PARLARE AL PUBBLICO AMERICANO, SUGGERENDO CHE UN CAMBIAMENTO RADICALE DELLA POLITICA ESTERA NEI CONFRONTI DI ISRAELE È NECESSARIO, PERCHÉ LA SITUAZIONE ATTUALE NON È – E NON È MAI STATA – ACCETTABILE. INTENDE PARLARE AI COLLEGHI ACCADEMICI PALESTINESI, AFFERMANDO CHE AAA ACCOGLIE LA LORO CHIAMATA E SI SDEGNA INSIEME A LORO DAVANTI A DECENNI DI OPPRESSIONE.

Ricercare e pubblicare sulla questione Israele-Palestina non può e non deve bastare più: l’atto politico di sostegno al boicottaggio è diventato una necessità intellettuale per onestà e coerenza verso gli studi che, per l’appunto, son stati condotti sull’argomento.

Da un lato, l’impegno dell’antropologia nell’opporre l’illegalità dell’occupazione dev’essere indubbio quanto il beneficio che tale disciplina sa offrire tramite la ricerca soggettiva e il coinvolgimento individuale dei ricercatori. Dall’altro, resta ignoto come tale boicottaggio verrà messo in atto su un piano internazionale accademico, e quali mezzi utilizzerà per assicurare che la presa di posizione istituzionale non dia luogo alle discriminazioni dei singoli.

Inoltre, la decisione di firmare la petizione a favore del boicottaggio non può esser vissuta come “facile” da coloro che fanno ricerca con sensibilità politica e sociale, giacché la preoccupazione di far più male che bene sussiste pur nella consapevolezza comune che la violenza e l’illegalità odierne abbiano già toccata il fondo.

Atti come il boicottaggio portano spesso a divisioni nel corpo intellettuale, o a pregiudiziare la ricerca e, per alcuni, a politicizzarla con scarsa auto-riflessività. Per di più, si è di fronte al rischio di ipocrisia da parte di alcuni accademici, qualora votino per il boicottaggio delle istituzioni israeliane mentre mantengono la propria posizione in istituzioni finanziate da enti dubbi da un punto di vista etico-politico.

IN OGNI CASO, IL VOTO DI MAGGIORANZA A FAVORE DEL BOICOTTAGGIO È ANCHE UN ATTO DI UMILTÀ ALL’INTERNO DELLA COMUNITÀ ANTROPOLOGICA NEI CONFRONTI DI STUDIOSI CHE DA LUNGHI ANNI SI SONO OCCUPATI DELLA QUESTIONE ISRAELO-PALESTINESE E MEDIORIENTALE IN GENERALE, E CHE SONO AMPIAMENTE CONSAPEVOLI DI COSA IL BOICOTTAGGIO ACCADEMICO POSSA COMPORTARE.

Questa sembra essere stata la posizione dell’antropologo James Ferguson. Secondo questo studioso, il significato del boicottaggio deve risiedere soprattutto oltre gli ambienti accademici, e non deve perdere di vista il vero fine di tale scelta politica: trasformare le istituzioni israeliane piuttosto che esprimere un’opposizione essenzialista e decontestualizzata al regime di violenza in atto. Tuttavia, fin tanto che tale regime persiste, tale opposizione ha il dovere di restare incondizionata.

Restano delle perplessità riguardo alla schiacciante vittoria del boicottaggio quando, all’indomani delle votazioni, si vedono numerosissime tazze di carta raffiguranti il logo di Starbucks – una delle catene commerciali di ristorazione sanzionate dal movimento per il boicottaggio – sui tavoli delle aule del convegno di AAA.

ALDILÀ DELLA SUA LEGITTIMITÀ RETORICA, CHE EFFICACIA PUÒ AVERE UN BOICOTTAGGIO “INTELLETTUALE” SE SI PRESTA ANCORA TROPPA POCA ATTENZIONE SUL FRONTE CONSUMISTICO ED ECONOMICO? IL RISCHIO È DAVVERO QUELLO DI ALIMENTARE I TIMORI O LE ACCUSE TOUT COURT DELLA COMPONENTE ACCADEMICA CHE SI OPPONE IL BOICOTTAGGIO, E DI RENDER QUEST’ULTIMO MERA DISCRIMINAZIONE ISTITUZIONALE CON SCARSO IMPATTO SULL’IMPALCATURA POLITICO-ECONOMICA DELLA SOCIETÀ ISRAELIANA.

Piuttosto, la vera arma contro l’occupazione, e un passo determinante verso la giustizia sociale, sono rappresentate dal boicottaggio economico dei prodotti che finanziano la violenza e le illegalità dello stato israeliano contro la popolazione civile palestinese all’ordine del giorno.

In ultima analisi, il voto di maggioranza schiacciante a favore del boicottaggio accademico – all’interno del cosiddetto BDS (Boycott Disinvestment and Sanctions) – afferma la volontà degli antropologi di contribuire alla legalizzazione delle società in cui il loro lavoro viene prodotto.

AFFINCHÉ IL VOTO ABBIA PERÒ UN RISCONTRO EMPIRICO, LA NARRATIVA ANTROPOLOGICA SUI DIRITTI UMANI E SUL DIRITTO INTERNAZIONALE NON DEVE ESSERE “VOTATA” SEPARATAMENTE DALLE SCELTE SOCIO-ECONOMICHE DEL SINGOLO – LE QUALI, OVVIAMENTE, RICHIEDONO UN PREZZO MOLTO PIÙ ALTO DI UN BRACCIO ALZATO IN ASSEMBLEA.

In altre parole, l’atto e il verbo antropologici devono rimanere imprescindibili l’un dall’altro perché l’accademia stessa acquisisca un senso all’interno delle nostre società. E l’antropologia deve chiarire il suo messaggio ora più di prima, nell’era delle più svariate interdipendenze transnazionali e della proliferazione di progetti di ricerca sterili a livello sociale.

Il giorno in cui i singoli rinunceranno al caffè più alla portata di mano negli Stati Uniti e altrove, e non esiteranno a fare due passi in più per acquistare un caffè più giusto e solidale, quei voti promettenti dello scorso 20 novembre troveranno la loro vera ragion d’essere. Perché solo allora il boicottaggio non sarà semplicemente votato, bensì conosciuto nelle sue pratiche e nei suoi effetti, poi “sentito”, e quindi spontaneamente messo in atto.

Categories: Israele, Palestina, Palestine, Uncategorized | Tags: | Leave a comment

“الدكتور تيم اندرسون المحاضر في جامعة سيدني يدافع عن نظام الاسد بحجة الفكر “المضاد للامبرالية

SYRIA-CONFLICT-AUSTRALIA

بقلم اندريا ليوتي

http://www.eltelegraph.com/?p=29465

 الدكتور تيم اندرسون محاضر قديم في الاقتصاد السياسي في جامعة سيدني وهو ترأس وفداً رسمياً مكوناً من حزب «ويكيليكس» الاسترالي والجمعية المؤيدة للنظام السوري «هاندس أوف سيريا» الى دمشق حيث التقى الوفد بالرئيس السوري بشار الاسد و بعض مسؤولي حكومته في كانون الاول ديسمبر 2013.
الدكتور تيم اندرسون من اشد مؤيدي الاسد ولكن يدعي انه يدعم «الشعب السوري واستقلال تقرير مصيره على الرغم من الضغوط الامريكية-الصيهونية» وما زال ينظم محاضرات في جامعة سيدني ويتحدث امام وسائل الاعلام لتشويه حقائق الثورة السورية.
لسوء الحظ حضرت احدى من محاضراته يوم 6 اذار مارس 2014 ولدي الكثير من التحفظات على دعاية الدكتور تيم اندرسون والمفكرين الكثيرين من اليسار الغربي الذين اصطفوا مع نظام الاسد بمبرر الفكر «المضاد للامبريالية» كصحافي شاهد الوضع الميداني على الاراضي السورية واللبنانية والتركية منذ اندلاع الثورة في عام 2011.

اولاً: على الرغم من الاجندات المعروفة وراء بعض وسائل الاعلام الغربية والخليجية (وليس فقط في تغطية الشؤون السورية)، لا يمكن عدم ذكر الاسباب الرئيسية لارتباك تصوير الوضع السوري على كافة وسائل الاعلام و هي تُعزى الى المضايقات التي عانى الاعلاميون منها في سوريا. عندما كنت اعمل في سوريا في عام 2011 اضطررت الى اخفاء مهنتي ولتفادي الرقابة الحكومية على تحركاتي فاُعتقل زميلي البرازيلي بدون اي تهمة إلا عمله في الصحافة الحرة هو قضى خمسة ايام في الزنزانة المنفردة. وانا مُنعتُ كذلك شخصياً من الدخول الى سوريا في عام 2012 بسبب لقاءاتي الصحافية مع المعارضة السورية و حضوري للمظاهرات السلمية في عام 2011. بالاضافة الى ذلك، هناك عدد غير قابل للتخيُل من الصحافيين السوريين (وهم من معارفي الشخصية) الذين تعرضوا الى الاعتقالات والتعذيب والقتل من قبل الاجهزة الامنية بسبب جهودهم في تغطية الثورة.
لذلك يجب على كل منتقد تغطية الاحداث في سوريا مثل الدكتور تيم اندرسون ان يأخد بعين الاعتبار هذه التضييقات ولا ينكر حدوث المظاهرات الشعبية في الفترة الاولى والمجازر المرتكبة من قبل النظام لاحقاً. و لا تبرر «المقاومة» ضد انحياز الاعلام الغربي الغاء وقائع الحراك الشعبي و وحشية نظام الاسد المجذرة في تاريخه من خلال الاستفادة من مصادر اغلبها مؤيدة للنظام السوري (مثل قناة «روسيا اليوم» و قناة «بريس تي في» الايرانية والراهبة اغنيس مريم الصليب) و في غياب خبرة ميدانية خالية من الرقابة الحكومية داخل سوريا.

ثانياً: النظام السوري، يا دكتور اندرسون، ليس «شاملاً اجتماعياً» كما ليس متعاطفاً مع القضية الفلسطينية خارج مساحة مصالحه المضيقة. ويلفت انظار الكل وقوع قطاع شاسع من المناطق الريفية السورية تحت سيطرة المعارضة وهذا ليس صدفة ولكن نتيجة تهميش شرائح واسعة من سكان الريف على خلفية السياسات الاقتصادية النيوليبرالية لنظام بشار الاسد وكان ينتمي الكثيرون من المتظاهرين الذين التقيت بهم خلال تواجدي في دمشق و تركيا ولبنان الى هذه الطبقات المهمشة سواء الريفية أو المدنية، ناهيك عن مشاركة الاكراد في الثورة السورة التي لا يمكن فصلها عن تهميش الاكراد الاقتصادي ضمن سياسات النظام البعثي.
وعلى الرغم من الصورة النمطية عند بعض دوائر اليسار الغربي، تاريخ النظام السوري لا يتطابق مع «رواية المقاومة ضد الكيان الصهيوني» جراء تورط الحكومة البعثية في ذبح الفلسطينين في مخيم تل زعتر اللبناني في عام 1976 بتنسيق مع المليشيات المسيحية. والقى النظام السوري القبض على كل ناشط فلسطيني معارض له ويكفي ذكر باسماء سلامة كيلة، الفلسطيني الماركسي الذي الجأ الى المنفى في الاردن بعد احتجازه في عام 2012، والناشط الفلسطيني من مخيم اليرموك خالد البكراوي الذي استشهد تحت التعذيب في سجون الاسد في عام 2013. ومن جدير الذكر ان خالد البكراوي عارض دعاية النظام الاسدي في ذكرى النكسة الفلسطينية في عام 2011 عندما دفعت الحكومة شباب المخيم الى خط النار الاسرائيلي عند حدود الجولان المحتل في محاولة صرف الانتباه عن الحراك الثوري السوري. وعلى رغم من اصابته بالرصاصة الاسرائيلية في هذه «المسرحية»، لم يقتنع البكراوي بعفوية نظام الاسد في دعمه للقضية الفلسطينية. واتذكر تماماً استياء الفلسطينين الذين شاركوا في المظاهرات اللاحقة ضد «تجارة الدم الفلسطيني» في مخيم اليرموك.
ناهيك عن الحصار المستمر المفروض من قبل النظام على مخيم اليرموك و تطبيق تكتيك «الموت جوعاً اما الاستسلام» على غرار حمص والغوطة الشرقية. وبالنسبة للمصلحة الاسرائيلية، كان كلام رامي مخلوف واضحاً عند اندلاع الثورة السورية عندما قال ان الامن الاسرائيلي مرتهن ببقاء نظام الاسد ،كما اكد المقكر الفوضوي الامريكي نوام تشومسكي، وهو معروف بمعارضته للدولة الصهيونية، ان كان بامكان إسرائيل التدخل عبر الجبهة الجنوبية لو كان من مصلحتها ان تدعم المعارضة السورية وتضعف النظام المشغول على الجبهات الشمالية ولكن لم يحدث اي تدخل. وفي حقيقة الامر، عبر مسؤولو إسرائيل في عدة المرات عن تفضيلهم ل»العدو المعروف» (بشار الاسد) على «العدو المجهول» (الفصائل المتعددة من المعارضة السورية). وعلى رغم من كل هذه الادلة ما زال يصر الدكتور الندرسون على انتماء النظام السوري الى خط «ممانعة المشروع الصهيوني».

ثالثاُ: صورة النظام السوري كمناهض الاسلاميين وعمود الفكر العلماني في الشرق الاوسط صورة بعيدة عن الواقع تماماً. لو كان النظام السوري علمانياً، فلماذا يمنع الدستور المسيحيين من الحصول على رئاسة الجمهورية ولم يقُم النظام بالمجازرالطائفية بحق اهل السنة في بانياس والبيضا في ايار مايو 2013 كما لم يعتمد على مساندة الميليشيات الشيعية العراقية والايرانية واللبنانية. بالاضافة الى ذلك، ليس هناك اي دليل في تاريخ على جودة الانظمة العلمانية (مثل نظام «الارهاب» عقب الثورة الفرنسية والاتحاد السوفياتي ونظام مصطفى كمال اتاتورك) مقارنة الانظمة الدينية بما يتعلق باحترام حرية التعبير.
وحتى اذا نفترض ان الخيار العلماني افضل من الاسلاميين (وانا لا اختلف مع ذلك بشرط وجود التعددية السياسية الى جانب العلمانية)، لماذا لا يشير الدكتور اندرسون الى العلاقات السابقة بين نظام الاسد وبعض الفصائل الاسلامية المسلحة السنية بما فيها كتائب غرباء الشام التي انخرطت لاحقاً الى صفوف المعارضة السورية؟ لماذا لا يقول اندرسون كلمة وحدة حول الافراج عن اهم المعتقلين الاسلاميين بما فيه زهران علوش من جيش الاسلام في ايار مايو 2011؟ لماذا لا يتحدث عن مقرات تنظيم «داعش» المتطرف التي لم يتم استهدافها من قبل الطيران الحربي السوري الا في بعض الحالات النادرة؟ لماذا لا يذكر اندرسون ان تنظيم «داعش» الذي ارتكب باسوأ جرائم بحق الاقليات العرقية والدينية لم يعُد يقاتل الى جانب المعارضة بل ضدها ولصالح النظام؟ لماذا لا يلمح الى التقارير الكثيرة المتوفرة حول اختراق هذا التنظيم من قبل الاجهزة الامنية السورية؟ لاي سبب لا يعلم اندرسون عن احتجاجات اهالي مدينة الرقة على انتهاكات التنظيم «داعش» المسيطر عليها وعدم مناشدتهم لعودة النظام الاسدي على رغم من كل شيء؟ اذ هناك الكثير من الاسئلة غير المطروحة واهمّها التالي: من المستفيد الاول من رسم المعارضة بلون اسلامي ومتطرف بدون فروق منذ بداية الحراك الثوري وحتى عندما لم يُعرف بعد معنى كلمة «داعش» في سوريا؟

رابعاً: ينضم اندرسون الى سلسلة طويلة من الباحثين والصحافيين الغربيين الذين يلجؤون الى مفهوم حماية الاقليات والمسيحين بصورة خاصة لغايات سياسية فتستّرهذه التوجسات قابلية للعنصورية لا تستحق اي صفة اخرى وتنتج من الافتراض ان كل المسيحين مضطهدين لاسباب دينية وليس هناك اي احتمال ان يتم استهدافهم على خلفية سياسية او اقتصادية. وعلى سبيل مثال، تم اختطاف الكثير من السيريانين في مدينتي القامشلي والحسكة لاغراء ثرواتهم الجهة الخاطفة بالحصول على فدية ضخمة. بالاضافة الى ذلك، لا توجد اي خلفية تاريخية دموية تبرر هذه المخاوف من مصير المسيحين السوريين في غياب حزب البعث، كما يتناقض هذا الاعتقاد مع مبادئ «اليسار» الحقيقية بينما يتشابه مبدأ «حماية الاقليات» الذي روجتها السلطات المستعمرية الفرنسية لتبرير وجودها في سوريا. اذن واجب حماية الاقليات خدعة الجأ اليها النظام السوري و ادت الى التردد الغربي في دعم المعارضة السورية، كما قللت اهمية الغارات الجوية اليومية طالماً ان تجري في المناطق السنية مع ان اغلبية الشعب السوري من هذه الطائفة وطبعاً اغلبية الضحايا من نفس الطائفة.
واذا ننظر الى تاريخ تطور هيكال الجماعات الاسلامية، فيتميز فكر الدكتور تيم اندرسون بالاحكام المسبقة عليها: ما هو الفرق بين اصول حزب الله و المقاومة العراقية ضد الاحتلال الامريكي و بعض الفصائل من المعارضة السورية؟ ألم يشارك حزب الله في الانتخابات البرلمانية اللبنانية في عام 1992 على رغم من برنامجه الاول لتطبيق نظرية ولاية الفقيه في لبنان بعد ان اصبحت خلايا الحزب الاولى معروفةً بالتفجيرات والاختطافات خلال الحرب الاهلية ؟ ألم يتبني معظم المقاومة العراقية المدعومة من حيث المبدأ من قبل اليسار الغربي (سواء الشعية او السنية) العقيدة الاسلامية ولم يتحول بعض الفصائل منها الى احزاب مقبولة في الانتخابات العراقية مثل الصدريون؟ اذن لماذا الاسلاميون السوريون يستأهلون  صفة «الارهابيين» غير قابل للتغيير فقط و ليس هناك اي طريق للتعامل معهم الا على سبيل المجازر في حماة والجزائر؟
وبكل صراحة، ننصح للدكتور اندرسون ولكل محلل يدعي انه «مضاد للامبريالية» ولذلك يدعم النظام السوري ان يراجع المبادئ الاساسية للعقائد اليسارية وبالخصوص واجب التضامن بين الشعوب وليس بين الحكومات.

Categories: Al-Jazeera, Iraq, Kurdistan, Lebanon, Palestine, Syria | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Dr. Tim “Asad” Anderson: the abuse of academia to spread out propaganda

SYRIA-CONFLICT-AUSTRALIA

 

Part I

 

My name is Andrea Glioti, I’m the journalist who intervened at Dr. Tim Anderson’s talk at Sydney UNI “Why I went to Syria” on March 6 (2014), an event promoting a blatant apology of the Syrian regime under the pretext of “counter-information”. A professor of political economy, Tim Anderson (https://www.facebook.com/timand2037?fref=ts) has been part of a delegation led by the Wikileaks Party and the Asadist activist group “Hands Off Syria”, which paid its homage to the Syrian regime during a visit of solidarity in December 2013. This is a response to some of the absurdities I heard about the Syrian conflict and, apart from the single case of Anderson, it addresses several points continuously raised by the so-called “anti-imperialist left”. It would be actually fair to rename this ideological stubbornness on Syria as a Stalinist-Soviet approach, if we were between the 1950s the 1960s, Anderson and his likes would be probably denying the Hungarian and Czech revolts ever took place. If we were in the Spanish Civil War, they would probably defend the Soviet decision to crush the anarchists. As long as a government sits in the anti-American camp (no matter the hypocrisy of Syrian foreign policies in this regard), it doesn’t really matter if it tortures leftists in its own prisons. Dr Anderson and his likes claim to hold the truth on what’s going on in Syria, this truth could be sum up in a Western-backed plot denying any sort of agency to the Syrians who took the streets in 2011. In their eyes, they’re only puppets, they would have never risen up after more 40 years of authoritarianism , they needed the Zionist-Salafi-American trust to give them a green light.
I’m an Arabic speaking Middle Eastern politics graduate, who has been covering Syria from inside the country for 10 months between 2011 and 2013 and I spent the rest of the time between Turkey and Lebanon, mainly in the border regions, where most of the Syrian refugees are located. I’ve worked with a wide range of media including “corporate” and “leftist” magazines (The New Internationalist, the German TAZ, the Swiss-German WOZ fall in the second category), being a freelancer, therefore I don’t even fit into the category of mainstream corporate media. Having said this, the sources Dr Anderson relied upon during his presentation could hardly be considered “independent” sources of information, despite his efforts to present them as such: Russia Today, in the words of Putin, reflects the views of the Kremlin, just like the Lebanese daily Al-Akhbar reflects the views of the pro-Syrian (regime) 8 March coalition. Among the sources quoted there was also Mother Agnès de la Croix, a Palestinian-Lebanese nun closely related to the Asad regime (http://pulsemedia.org/2012/08/21/dead-journalists-and-sister-agnes-mariam/) and the French far-right (http://vicinoriente.wordpress.com/2012/05/20/la-monaca-di-assad/). Anderson’s talk was covered by the Iranian Press TV: if the station’s anti-US biases were combined with a minimum degree of professionalism, then my intervention wouldn’t have been censored, after I raised several critical points Anderson intentionally ignored.
Notwithstanding the political biases of Western and Gulf media [the focus on Syria in contrast with how Bahrain has been overlooked and the role played by certain American media in advocating war on Iraq in 2003, despite the lack of any evidence on its chemical arsenal, just to quote two examples], the solution is not to take at face value the version of events provided by pro-Syrian regime sources to come up with a credible alternative narrative. Journalism is about verifying facts, a strong ground-driven knowledge of the context you’re talking about, a reliable network of local contacts and, ideally, some fluency in the local language (Arabic): all these aspects were totally absent in Dr Anderson’s conference.

While retaining the right to be skeptical about the Western media’s coverage of Syria, everyone should bear in mind that the main reason of the conflicting news reports coming from this country is the restrictive context journalists are forced to operate in: while based in Damascus in 2011, I had to pretend being a student to avoid being monitored 24/h by security forces, my Brazilian colleague Germano Assad has been detained in confinement for five days under the only accusation of being a journalist. I have been denied access to Syria in 2012 and told I was not welcome there anymore on the grounds of the interviews I conducted with local political dissidents. I’m sure this was the reason, because of the content of the questions posed to my colleague Assad under interrogation. This is just an idea of what you have to endure as a Western journalist, if you’re not there on an official parade organized through government press visas. It goes without saying that Syrian journalists “enjoy” a much worse treatment: one of my personal acquaintances had to leave Syria recently, after having been tortured and put on trial for “working without a license” and “spreading lies”. Let us not forget WHY it is so difficult to work in Syria and inform about the ongoing events.

Going back to Anderson’s talk, first of all, you don’t claim to show support for one “nation”, if you only sat for pastries with Asad, that’s not showing solidarity with the “Syrian people”, that’s an official delegation voicing its support for a Government.
During my stay in Syria I had the chance to walk around without any escort, both in Damascus in 2011 and in the province of Hasakah in 2013: this clearly makes the difference from an official visit to Damascus (actually, to a certain extent, it makes the difference even in comparison to some other journalists, who have only been escorted into Syria by rebel brigades). As a matter of fact, Anderson didn’t meet with anyone from the opposition, neither from the armed factions nor from the civil peaceful movements (and there are lots of peaceful activists still active in Syria… http://www.syriauntold.com/en) .

There was a lot of talk on US imperialism and Zionism: could Anderson provide any actual evidence that the US have been willing to overthrow Asad? All the red lines have been crossed (including the use of chemical weapons), three years have passed and I haven’t seen any intervention. If they really wanted, they could have done it much earlier. This picture of Asad as a staunch anti-American also stands in contradiction with the rapprochement between Washington and Damascus in 2010, marked by the appointment of ambassador Robert Ford. The position of the US on the Syrian events has been largely stumbling, due also to the fact that they didn’t receive any green light from the Israelis. Did Anderson bother to listen to Rami Makhluf- Bashar al-Asad’s cousin and one of the most influential business figures in Syria- when the revolt started in 2011? He said clearly that the Israeli security was dependent on the permanence of the Asad regime.
If you brand the Asad regime as an anti-Zionist vanguard, then you probably disregard some historical facts: no offensive was launched against Israel since the October war in 1973; Hafez al-Asad’s Syria was willing to reach a peace agreement with the Israelis in 2000, on condition of the return of the occupied Golan Heights and a renewed access to the Sea of Galilee, hence a pragmatic approach concerned about national sovereignty rather than the Palestinian cause; Palestinians were slaughtered by far-right Lebanese Christian militias in cooperation with Syrian troops in the massacre of Tel Zaatar during the Lebanese civil war; the PLO has been at odds with the Syrian regime for a long time, since the latter was not willing to jeopardize its national interests for the sake of the Palestinian cause (See what the socialists have to say about this http://www.wsws.org/en/articles/2000/06/assa-j16.html). I would also suggest Anderson and his likes read more on the so-called Red Line agreement between Israel and Syria during the Lebanese civil war, a deal brokered by Kissinger to share regions of influence (http://www.merip.org/mer/mer236/syria-lebanon-brotherhood-transformed#_5_).
The Israeli officials maintained an extremely low profile position on Syria during the events and why on earth should they have pushed for the removal of Asad, if he kept the Syrian-Israeli border quiet for forty years? They look more worried about a new unknown diverse galaxy of rebel groups controlling the border, whereas they know exactly what to expect from Asad. Have a look at what Noam Chomsky had to say about the Israeli stance on Syria (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9MQeGHoiPj4&feature=youtu.be Is he too part of the corporate media?): he clearly points at the fact that, if the Israelis wanted to support the opposition, they could have just opened another front on the Golan. Such a move would have weakened the Syrian army by opening a new front in the South: a much less costly option to support the armed opposition than an open scale offensive on Damascus. But nothing like this happened and Anderson still define it as a regime from the “Resistance” axis.

Until now, the Syrian regime is enforcing a devastating siege on the Yarmuk Palestinian refugee camp, because part of its inhabitants joined the rows of the opposition. I have been collecting evidence of the first anti-regime demonstrations in Yarmuk on my blog since June 2011 (in Italian https://mabisir.wordpress.com/2011/06/28/2-blogging-five-months-of-revolution-inside-syria-5-6-june-2011-golan-to-yarmuk-palestinians-joining-the-syrian-uprising/), when Palestinian protesters were shot at for chanting against the exploitation of the Naksa day at the hands of Ahmad Jibril’s PFLP-GC: in that case, the demonstrators voiced their indignation, after several residents of the camp were literally “thrown” in front of the Israeli rifles at the border in order to divert the attention from the Syrian uprising. Khaled Bakrawi, a Palestinian activist from Yarmuk, was killed under torture in the Syrian prisons in September 2013: he took part in the Naksa march and was outspoken about the way the Syrian regime had exploited the fervor of the Palestinian youth, despite having been himself wounded by the Israelis at the border (http://budourhassan.wordpress.com/2013/09/15/death-under-torture-in-syria-the-horrors-ignored-by-pacifists/).
I personally know several Palestinian leftist dissidents unknown to the media who had to leave Syria or ended up in its jails, but I cannot name them, as it might affect their upcoming trials or their return to Syria in the future. One of the most famous ones, Salameh Kaileh, a marxist Palestinian (http://links.org.au/node/2841), had to flee to Jordan after having been arrested and detained in 2012. Was he an Islamist too? Perhaps a Zionist?
Has Anderson ever read how the Palestinian anarchist Budour Hassan has totally debunked the claims of those who portrait Damascus as a champion of the Palestinian cause (http://budourhassan.wordpress.com/2012/07/22/analysis-the-myth-of-palestinian-neutrality-in-syria/)? What about the experience of Omar ‘Aziz, a Syrian anarchist who returned to his country upon the outbreak of the uprising to help organizing the first local revolutionary committees in Barzeh, which are considered “some of the most promising and lasting examples of non-hierarchical self organization” (http://tahriricn.wordpress.com/2013/08/23/syria-the-life-and-work-of-anarchist-omar-aziz-and-his-impact-on-self-organization-in-the-syrian-revolution/)? He died because of a heart attack in February 2013, after having been detained for three months in the Adra prison. During his talk, Anderson mentioned a visit to Adra, blaming the “radical Islamists” for the constant shelling, but I doubt he ever asked about whom is detained in the local prison, didn’t he?

A comparison with Afghanistan and its pre-Taliban empowerment of rural classes was made in the introduction and Anderson repeatedly labeled the Syrian regime a “socially inclusive” Government. This means he didn’t even bother to check the map of the areas controlled by the opposition: basically a wide portion of the countryside is in the hands of the rebels. Why? Because the uprising was more popular among the rural outcasts, namely those who have been impoverished by Bashar al-Asad’s shift towards neoliberalism and those who have been always marginalized under the Ba’th, like the Kurds living in the Northern countryside (See another Syrian socialist perspective on the “inclusiveness” of the regime’s economic policies http://www.internationalviewpoint.org/spip.php?article3380). Although it wouldn’t be objective to argue that the social gap in Syria was as wide as the Egyptian one, for example, the Syrian case is remote from “social inclusiveness”, it looks more like an economy controlled by a gang of affiliates and tycoons like Rami Makhluf, who are the antithesis of social justice.
Anderson depicted the uprising in Aleppo as led by religious fundamentalists, but he didn’t mention at all that a vast segment of the urban classes who sided with the regime are actually part of the Syrian bourgeoisie, epitomized by Aleppo’s traders. Did the so-called “anti-imperialist left” embrace a moral struggle to defend the urban upper classes against peasants, on the basis of the length of the beards of some of these peasants, who are homogeneously branded as “Islamists”? In July 2011, I visited a group of metalworkers in their workshop in Qadam (Southern Damascus), they were all taking part to the protests, one of them was a Syrian in his twenties with a degree in computer science he was never able to use: his father passed away and he had to seal shawarma machines to cover the expenses of his young brother living with him. This young graduate was also a hip hop singer from the group Refugees of Rap and we recorded a track together called “The Age of Silence” (Zaman as-Samt) (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=umQ3xGj4E2Y), which deals with the drive behind the protests. Is the “anti-imperialist left” supposed to empathize with the demands of this kind of marginalized urban youth or to side with the ruling classes?

Was the regime “socially inclusive” towards 2 to 4 million Kurds, who are mostly secular minded? Not at all. In 2013, I’ve spent five months in the province of Hasakah, a region affected by chronic poverty, despite its natural resources. The history written by the Ba’th is made up of racist Arab settlement policies confiscating wide shares of Kurdish lands in Hasakah (the so-called al-Hizam al-Arabi, the Arab Belt policy). The regime has also abided by a census conducted in 1962, who stripped off the Syrian citizenship thousands of Syrian Kurds. Even though the Kurdish regions are rich of oil, all the refineries were built in Homs and Banyas to impede the economic empowerment of rural peripheries.
During Anderson’s talk, I heard him praising “elections” and “pluralism” under the Ba’th and I confront this with the story of one of my close acquaintances in Hasakah, whose nails have been removed under torture on the grounds of its affiliation to the Yekiti Kurdi Parti. Is this the pluralism he’s talking about? Or is this pluralism about the Minister of Reconciliation Ali Haidar, the secretary general of the Syrian Social Nationalist Party (SSNP), that Anderson mentioned in the ridiculous attempt to provide evidence that other political forces are tolerated inside the Ba’thist government? Is Anderson aware that from 2005 until 2012, despite the dissident history of Antoun Saadeh’s party, its Damascene branch has been part of the National Progressive Front established by the Ba’th to create an umbrella of loyal parties behind the facade of pluralism? Is he aware that Ali Haidar has recently endorsed the candidacy of Bashar al-Asad for the upcoming presidential elections? I personally know some SSNP members, who quit the party, after they realized to which extent it had become involved in the recruitment of pro-government militias (shabbiha) in 2011.

As I said during my intervention at the talk, I attended several demonstrations both in Damascus and in the suburbs of the capital in 2011: I heard no sectarian slogans, saw children and women taking part to the uprising and witnessed live fire opened on demonstrators by security forces. Peaceful protesters were even beaten up in front of my eyes as soon as July 2011 in the Old City (in Italian https://mabisir.wordpress.com/2011/07/27/6-blogging-five-months-of-revolution-inside-syria-in-italiano-proteste-nel-centro-di-damasco-se-rimaniamo-fino-a-domattina-saremo-mezzo-milione-27-luglio-2011/), in the center of Damascus. My colleague Germano Assad has been prevented by government supporters from filming this demonstration, he had to escape after they started shouting at him: “This is not Syria!”. This is just an example of the state of denial some regime supporters live in, when it comes to recognizing the occurrence of peaceful protests: one of the attendants of Anderson’s talk, a Syrian who claimed to have lived in the Old City, insisted he never saw any protest in that part of Damascus. The aim is to deny protests ever took place, then to deny massacres occurred (as this was what Anderson’s conference was all about): it reminds me of the attitude of Holocaust’s deniers, or that of those Lebanese Phalangists who assert their party never slaughtered Palestinians in Sabra and Shatila. No matter the extent of evidence and accounts you gather, they will keep denying. In the end, their angle of view is identical to the one adopted by the Syrian State television: I remember very well the cameramen of al-Ikhbariyya filming the empty streets of Barzeh (Damascus) patrolled by security forces, while they were perfectly aware that a demonstration was going on a few blocks away.

I used to know personally one of the peaceful protesters who were chased by regime supporters in that occasion in the Old City: he died in 2013, after taking up weapons to fight the regime in Aleppo. Should we consider him as a terrorist as well? On which moral ground are we denying protesters the right to take up arms? One of the points raised during Anderson’s talk was that protesters were indeed armed since the beginning of the revolt. This was definitely the case in some regions, like Idlib, where demonstrators from Jisr ash-Shughur took up weapons to defend themselves as early as June 2011: I wrote about it and I criticized the way some Western media denied the presence of armed elements (http://www.majalla.com/eng/2012/04/article55230561), but I don’t understand why Syrians should be condemned for having resorted to violence against a brutal security apparatus.

 

Part II

 

The main argument used by Anderson to advocate support for the Syrian regime was the stereotypical juxtaposition between an allegedly secular government and a radical Islamist opposition. When I stressed the genuine roots of the Syrian uprising, the only answer Anderson could provide was: “Well, I don’t deny there have been mistakes committed by the police (what a nice euphemism for forty years of “mistakes”), but could you name one secular/non Islamist brigade in the opposition?” The premise of such response is that, as long as they’re Islamists, it’s perfectly fine to kill them. Islamists have been on the Middle Eastern “stage” for almost one century, they’re still there despite what happened in Hama, but Anderson (and numerous other Islamophobic “analysts”) still perceive them as a cancer implanted by Western agendas to be uprooted with violence. I wonder whether Anderson has ever argued the same about Hamas and Hezbollah on their resistance against Israel, weren’t they to be condemned on the grounds of being Islamist forces? If the West was to keep looking at Hezbollah through the lens of its original plan for the establishment of an Islamic republic in Lebanon and the abductions of foreign civilians carried out in the ’80s by the party’s first embryos, no one would have imagined to see the Shi’a militia accepting its current role in the Lebanese electoral system. The same goes for the recent prospects for US negotiations with the Talibans in Afghanistan, which were completely unforeseeable after 9-11. Then, why are we to rule out the possibility that some of the jihadist groups fighting in Syria today might change their position and accept to engage in parliamentarian politics later on?
What about the Iraqi resistance under American occupation? Has Anderson paid attention to the fact that most of the insurgents were actually jihadists and many of them are currently fighting against the Syrian regime? Are they to be considered “fallen heroes of anti-imperialists” suddenly turned into “NATO-backed mercenaries”, even though nothing changed in their ideological background?

Furthermore, Anderson made no reference whatsoever to what has been written on the ties between Damascus and a wide range of Islamist Sunni militant groups previously active in Lebanon and Iraq, now fighting on the side of the Syrian opposition, including Fatah al-Islam (http://wikileaks.org/gifiles/docs/214642_analysis-for-edit-syria-throws-fatah-al-islam-under-the-bus-.html) and Ghuraba’ ash-Sham (http://www.thenational.ae/thenationalconversation/comment/radicals-are-assads-best-friends). It was also completely omitted the fact that the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIS), the militia responsible of the worst atrocities committed in Syria in the name of jihadism, has actually spent more time fighting other rebel factions than the regime and its headquarters are rarely targeted by air raids. There has been plenty of accusations from different political and military factions with regards to the ties between Damascus and ISIS ( https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=508278592619820&set=a.473931262721220.1073741828.473917376055942&type=1&theater, https://twitter.com/JadBantha/status/421263028978343936/photo/1, http://hawarnews.com/index.php/component/content/article/43-2013-02-24-21-16-12/7835-2013-11-13-12-04-59, http://claysbeach.blogspot.com.au/2014/01/bashar-al-jihad-is-isis-child-of-regime.html), whose rise perfectly suits the Syrian State media’s relentless efforts to portray the uprising as an Islamist one since its early phases. During my stay in Syria in 2013, I gathered local witness accounts on Ahmad Muhammad “Abu Rami”, the former Syrian military intelligence chief in Rmaylan (North-Eastern Syria), who allegedly joined the rows of the al-qa’idist Jabhat an-Nusra in November 2012. I also spoke with a former Syrian security official in Ras al-‘Ayn, who confirmed me how easily certain rebel brigades were infiltrated by figures known for their ties with the regime.
In addition to this, Anderson failed to mention how the regime granted amnesty to some of the top-leaders of the Islamist opposition back in May 2011 (including for example the Islamic Army’s Zahran ‘Allush), a few months after the outbreak of the uprising, in a move which could hardly be seen as “coincidental”, as it contributed to the sectarian drift of the revolt.

This is not meant to say that the Syrian regime and the Islamist hardliners share the same agenda and the latter ones do not aim at overthrowing the government; it also remains challenging to evaluate the truthfulness of certain reports, even when they’re built on intelligence sources, but we should bear in mind that they are often as credible as the reports putting the blame exclusively on the Gulf for the rise of radical Sunni groups. What is unquestionable, in my opinion, is the completely misleading portrait of Damascus as a champion in the struggle against Islamism in the light of its historical connections with Islamist networks.
These historical connections include the Syrian support for Hamas, Hizbullah, the Amal Movement (a group established with the explicit purpose to crush Lebanese communists), the Palestinian Islamic Jihad and several other Islamist groups. If the Syrian regime was a promoter of secularism in the region, then it should have restricted its support to secular anti-Zionist militant groups. If the Syrian regime were secular, then it shouldn’t allow Lebanese and Iraqi Shi’a militants to fight on its side against Sunnis, or did Islamism suddenly become an exclusively Sunni phenomenon? If the Syrian regime were secular, it wouldn’t have supported the ethnic “cleansing” (tathir, in the words recorded on video of one of the perpetrators, https://now.mmedia.me/lb/en/nownews/pro-regime-militant-speaks-of-cleansing-banias) of Sunnis in Bayda and Baniyas in May 2013. If the Syrian regime were secular, the Constitution wouldn’t prevent a Christian from becoming the president of the republic until now just like it wouldn’t state that “Islamic jurisprudence (fiqh) is a fundamental source of legislation.” (http://www.al-bab.com/arab/docs/syria/syria_draft_constitution_2012.htm). If the Syrian regime were secular, Alawis wouldn’t dominate the intelligence branches to the extent that their coastal dialect is mocked in every single joke on the security forces.
Having said that, I honestly don’t understand the point of defending a regime on the ground of its alleged secularism, if we take a look at how history is rich of examples of authoritarian secular rule such as the Reign of Terror in post-revolutionary France, Kemalist Turkey and the Soviet Union.

Another aspect of the rise of Islamist factions in the opposition Anderson and his likes fail to grasp is where “money and guns” come from or, to put it clearly, they know where they come from, but they consider this an outcome of the Islamist ideology of all the insurgents. They seem to ignore the reality of those fighters who had to turn to an outward version of Islamism to catalyse financial and military support: this was the case of the Farouq Brigades from Homs, that quickly became the equivalent of a franchise capable of attracting Qatari funds and, for this reason, it started to attract a wide range of groups under its name (http://www.arab-reform.net/sites/default/files/empowering%20the%20democratic%20resistance.pdf). This didn’t mean there was an Islamist unified vision among all the groups gathered under the Farouq brand, whose Islamist outlook might well have been as pragmatic as the Salafi-looking beard grown by the Farouq’s young commander Abdul-Razzaq Tlass, upon his rise to fame. During Anderson’s talk, when I mentioned the Farouq Brigades as an example of a non-Islamist group, I probably failed to make clear that this was not meant to claim that they are secular, but that their Islamist facade has been pragmatically motivated rather than related to an uncompromising commitment to the establishment of an Islamic state. It is the same pragmatism which led Hezbollah to accept funds from Qatar – a State with whom the party could hardly share any political and religious identity – for the reconstruction of war-ravaged Lebanon following the Israeli aggression in 2006. It is the same pragmatism which saw Hamas, on the other hand, receiving Iranian funds, regardless of their political and religious affiliation with the Muslim Brotherhood.
As the Syrian conflict kept growing in intensity, securing funds became a crucial factor behind the mushrooming of Islamist hardline factions, in comparison with the initial “low cost” peaceful phase almost void of sectarian drifts. In 2013, I spoke with a Syrian journalist who visited the Eastern Ghuta (Damascus) between March and April and he reported to me how Free Syrian Army soldiers had a daily limit of around 30 bullets (the figure might be higher, but the point was that their ammunition was limited), whereas the Islamic Front could count on unlimited ammunition. This obviously led to an increased number of fighters joining the ranks of the Islamist factions. In June 2013, I travelled towards al-Hul (Southern al-Hasakah) on a truck driven by a Kurdish rebel fighting on the side of ISIS and Ahrar ash-Sham: he kept joking about his beard and how he had to grow it to be accepted among jihadists, while promising to go back drinking arak as soon as the war was over. The umpteenth confirmation of how pragmatism was often a priority at the expense of the ideological drive.

As a matter of fact, there are few groups with a distinct leftist stance within the rows of the opposition: one of these exceptions are the recently formed Factions of the People’s Liberation (Fasa’il Taharrur ash-Sha’b https://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=sR5wcCzLyzo), set up in Duma in March 2014. These groups saw the light in the explicit attempt to counter both the regime and the most obscurantist forces of the opposition, but their capabilities are clearly limited due to lack of funds.
Anderson thinks he can wave the banner of anti-imperialism from the pulpit of his lectures in Australia, but he doesn’t seem to care about the fate of those real Syrian anti-imperialists, who are perishing on the ground without receiving a single cent from the Gulf monarchies. It would have been enough to use the funds wasted on the Wikileaks delegation’s trip to Damascus to relief the budget of the Factions of the People’s Liberation, if the aim was to support popular resistance, but Anderson’s farce is more about “copy pasting” Hugo Chavez’s quotes on Asad to feel the revolutionary vibes on Facebook.

Another paradox of Anderson’s unconditional support for secularism against Islamism is that he resorts to the good-for-all-purposes scaremonger of Christian persecutions to back the Asad regime, so that when I mentioned the Farouq Brigades, I got reminded the way “they expelled Christians from their neighbourhoods in Homs”. First of all, to argue that Christians were evicted on the basis of their faith and not as a result of the conflict is an assumption even contested by Catholic sources (www.catholicculture.org/news/headlines/index.cfm?storyid=13804). Secondly, Anderson and other “minorities-obsessed” scholars take for granted that Christians are always persecuted because of their religion, while dismissing the possibility for some of them to have been targeted as collaborators of the regime or because of their affluence (for example, the wealth of some urbanized Syriacs was behind their kidnappings in Hasakah and Qamishli in 2013): the implicit premise to this discourse is that Christians are all innocent, they never took sides (not a single word is spent on the loyalist stance of most Syrian clerical institutions throughout the uprising) and they are suddenly in need of Western assistance to escape Islamic zealots. When the idea that Middle Eastern Christians are in need of protection was part of the French Mandate’s search for legitimacy, it was despised by “anti-imperialists” as colonialist propaganda, whereas now it is at the core of the concerns they happen to share with pro-Asad Western fascist and Catholic circles (with whom they also share sources like Mother Agnès de la Croix). As the French scholar Thomas Pierret wrote on his Facebook page, after the hypocritical indignation aroused by the displacement of Armenians from Kassab at the hands of Syrian rebels among the same people who turn a blind eye on the regime’s daily use of barrel bombs on the neighbourhoods of Aleppo controlled by the opposition, “whoever cares more for an Armenian from Kassab than for a Sunni from eastern Aleppo is a racist”.

During his visit to Syria, Anderson claims he had the chance to witness the coexistence between Christians and Muslims under the shelter of the regime, thus envisaging a future of religious persecutions, if the opposition will ever take over the country. First of all, this is a distortion of Syrian history, where there is absolutely nothing proving a higher rate of anti-Christian violence before the Ba’thist coup in 1963. Anderson went on specifying that most of the rebels are actually foreigners, an allegation common among Asadists returning from government-sponsored tours of Syria, where they never met with one single opposition fighter, just like Anderson did. I personally met with combatants from a wide range of anti-government factions in Lebanon, Turkey and Syria, and the overwhelming majority of them were Syrians, including the hardliners from Ahrar ash-Sham , Ghuraba’ ash-Sham and Ansar ash-Shari’a. Most foreigners fight within the rows of ISIS and they advocate a brutal form of Islamic autocracy Syrians are unfamiliar with: when the militants of this group vandalized a church in Raqqa, its Syrian residents took the streets to protest against religious intolerance, but they didn’t certainly call for the return of the regime. Of course, all of this was not mentioned in Anderson’s talk, where the message needed to remain “foreign Islamists make up most of the opposition and they pose a threat to the Ba’thist religious tolerance.” This was actually the same message conveyed by a Syrian woman who stood up to intervene during Anderson’s talk, when she accused the opposition of organizing protests from inside the mosques, thus suggesting the movement was already an Islamist one since its outbreak. As usual, it went completely ignored the fact that mosques were used by all protesters, regardless of their political and religious beliefs, because of the ban on unauthorized public gatherings. Over these years I spent covering the Syrian uprising, I never met someone who obtained a government license to organize a rally against the regime.

During the conference, there was also room for some racist remarks on the Bedouin roots of the Gulf sponsors of the opposition, as Anderson reported, laughing at the comments of a Syrian government official on their status of camel riders/shepherds (I cannot recall the exact words, but it was definitely a stereotypical racist joke on Arab Gulf tribes). As if it wasn’t enough to resort to Islamophobia under the guise of secularism and religious tolerance, Anderson turned to blanketing the (Sunni) Arab tribes as a bunch of rural barbarians, probably ignoring the fact that millions of Syrians are clan members with kinship links in Gulf countries.

Lastly, Anderson attempted to prove Syria never witnessed an uprising by asserting that “no revolution has ever targeted schools and hospitals and prevented kids from education.” Such assertion implies the absurd claim that the government forces have never targeted schools and hospitals. In addition to this, Anderson ignores all the initiatives launched in opposition-held areas to support education, civil society and local projects, despite the continuous bloodshed (http://www.al-monitor.com/pulse/originals/2014/04/education-aleppo-syria-war.html?utm_source=Al-Monitor+Newsletter+%5BEnglish%5D&utm_campaign=23ea4fcada-January_9_20141_8_2014&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_28264b27a0-23ea4fcada-93102377). In 2013, I visited several times the city of Ras al-Ayn (North-Eastern Syria), when it was still under joint Arab-Kurdish control without any presence of the regime: no one told me of kids prevented from going to school and the hospitals and the small clinics were actually struggling to function, thanks to the voluntary efforts of the doctors affiliated to the rebel militias. Unfortunately, most of these armed groups were prioritizing the arms trade over the availability of medicines and I wrote about this issue (https://mabisir.wordpress.com/2013/05/16/free-syrian-army-neglects-health-sector-in-ras-al-ayn-sere-kanye/), but I was also aware that the same hospitals could not be used to heal wounded protesters when they were controlled by the regime. The reality is much more complicated, if you verify it on the ground, but what you get from Anderson is just that the rebels are medieval bogeymen targeting schools and hospitals.

In conclusion, if some of you had the patience to read through all of this, my personal advice is to remain sceptic of those scholars who abuse their academic positions to spread out ideological propaganda on issues they are completely unfamiliar with. If I happen to spend two weeks during a phase of political turmoil in Cuba, a country Anderson is probably more knowledgeable than me about on the basis of his experience, I would remain aware of my ignorance on Cuba and wary about claiming to hold the truth on the unfolding events. I would expect Anderson and his likes to do the same. Thanks.

I also welcome every Syrian who lived through the uprising to express his/her indignation at Anderson’s denial of his/her efforts to depose the current regime.

Categories: Arab Gulf, Israel, Kurdistan, Lebanon, Palestine, Syria | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 12 Comments

No confessionalisation, no “party” (April 2013)

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(“No to confessionalism”. Picture taken by Estella Carpi, Downtown, Beirut, 7th January 2013)

I have just got through yesterday’s article “The Cold Front” on NowLebanon: one of the worst aetiological interpretations of the 2006 war (between Israel and Lebanon) I’ve ever come across.

Abdul-Hussain, the article’s author based in Washington, thinks he can brilliantly explain how the July war has broken out: Hezbollah is the only one that has interests in opening fire first. Israel has not. Not even for a preemptive war.

Going beyond these quite arguable assumptions on the 2006 war, the author, in a bid to denounce the artificial construction of the Zionist enemy, ends up creating a new construction by merely replacing the previous one: the chronic confessionalisation of war commitments and inputs. In the case of Hezbollah, therefore, he denies the engagement of the party in the Palestinian issue by portraying the latter as a sunni cause that Shiites would have no interest for. The author does recognise the big hoax that the Axis of Resistance implies about protecting Palestinians. It is in fact enough to spend some time in the Palestinian camps throughout Lebanon and in the shiite areas stricken by the 2006 war, to find out that the idea of Islamic Resistance should be unpacked into several conceptions and experiences, highly diversified among Lebanese Shiites and Palestinians in Lebanon.

I also agree with his need for unearthing the hypocrisy behind the supposed protection of the Palestinians – bombed by the Asad regime and even fought by Hezbollah in Lebanese history (and we could also mention a lacking homogenised rhetoric around the “value” of Resistance in the everyday narratives of people from the two groups).

I categorically refuse, however, to adopt the confessional lens to justify Hezbollah’s actual disengagement in the Palestinian cause, in that “there is nothing shiite about Palestine”, as the author contends.

In a similar vein, Abdul-Hussain seems to justify the absence, the neglect and the shameful corruption of the Siniora’s government throughout the days of the July war, by identifying such a (failed) state behaviour with Hezbollah’s anti-sunni propaganda among “its people”. And it is exactly in the form of a “from anti-Israel to anti-sunni struggle” that Hezbollah’s evolutive behaviour is interpreted by Abdul-Hussain.

All these are clear signs that old epistemological confessionalisation is still hard to die. Why on earth, in order to dismantle regional myths about political balances, should we need to resort to confessional explanations?

(Estella Carpi)

P.S. My sources about the corruption of the Lebanese government and its total military “laissez-faire” – apart from hundreds of local people’s accounts – are the unofficial declarations of the governmental ministers and of the ex PM Fouad Siniora contained in the Wikileaks cables (July-September 2006).

https://now.mmedia.me/lb/en/commentaryanalysis/the-cold-front1

HUSSAIN ABDUL-HUSSAIN

April 15, 2013

The Cold Front

How long will the Israeli-Lebanese border remain peaceful?

A Lebanese soldier (right) and a member of UNIFIL stand guard on the Isreal-Lebanon border. (AFP)

The Lebanese live on the edge. They expect war all the time, whether it spills over from Syria, or is provoked by a strike on Iran, or is predicated by hot tempers reaching a boiling point and Sunnis and Shiites take their fight to the streets. One front, however, looks colder than usual. For the first time in decades, Lebanon’s southern border is quiet, and neither Hezbollah nor Israel are interested in escalation.

UNSC Resolution 1701, which ended the war and now governs the peace, is flimsy on paper, but has proven durable on the ground, giving the region its second-longest stretch of calm with since the creation of Israel. Tel Aviv, therefore, has no interest in launching war against Hezbollah, preemptive or otherwise.

So for war to breakout, Hezbollah will have to open fire first, and many believe that because Hezbollah’s decisions are inspired by its patrons in Tehran, it will only go to war when it is instructed to. But even for a regional proxy like Hezbollah, all politics is local.

In Lebanon, the Shiites support Hezbollah, but not unconditionally. The 2006 war jeopardized Hezbollah’s standing among the Shiites who saw their villages razed. Iran came to Hezbollah’s rescue by shipping bags of cash that were doled out to hard-hit families and individuals.

During the 14 weeks that followed the end of the war, Hezbollah tried to contain Shiite anger by dispersing cash. But Shiite frustration proved insurmountable even with Iran’s petrodollars.

Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah thus understood that while most of his supporters were blindly following for benefits, the majority of Shiites were not particularly dedicated to liberating Palestine, historically a Sunni issue that Iran’s Ruhollah Khomeini tried to exploit in order to spread his revolution to Sunni Arab countries.

Yet despite Khomeini’s efforts, there is nothing Shiite about Palestine; no Shiite imams or their families ever set foot or are buried there, unlike in Iraq, Iran, Syria, and Lebanon. Even the third-holiest site in Islam, Jerusalem’s Omar’s Mosque, carries a name the Shiites abhor and never give to their children.

Without links to Palestine and with the 2006 inferno, the Shiites found it counterintuitive to keep fighting Israel, a lesson that was not lost on Hezbollah.

During the 2006 war, an embattled Nasrallah became all-encompassing in his speeches, especially as Shiites took refuge in non-Shiite neighborhoods. His allies praised Sunni Prime Minister Fouad Siniora, calling his government a “resistance cabinet” for its diplomatic role in shaping 1701.

But after the war, the Shiites had a change of heart, and Hezbollah had to follow.

In December, Hezbollah started a sit-in in downtown Beirut demanding Siniora’s resignation, blaming him for the ills that had befallen the Shiites during the war and condemning what they called the corrupt and deliberately slow relief and reconstruction efforts. Hezbollah was looking for a scapegoat, and the Sunnis fit the bill in a way that resonated with the majority of the Shiites.

Until then, Lebanon’s Sunnis had accused Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad of killing their leader Rafiq Hariri in 2005. But with the rise of Shiite anti-Sunnism, Hezbollah displaced the Assad regime as the Sunni’s number one enemy.

Hezbollah’s transformation from ‘anti-Israel’ to ‘anti-Sunni’ was complete, with the outbreak of the Syrian revolution in March 2011.

Even though Nasrallah argued that his support for Assad was because of the latter’s alignment with the ‘resistance axis,’ Nasrallah never explained why the Shiite militia in Syria was called the Abu Al-Fadl Al-Abbas brigade, a reference to Imam Hussain’s half-brother who was killed with him in Karbala in 680. If Hezbollah was fighting in Syria for resistance reasons, then why not call its fighting force after someone who had died fighting Israel, not the Sunnis?

Meanwhile from a logistics perspective, the Syrian conflict has strained Hezbollah resources to the extent that it makes sense for Nasrallah to favor extending the freeze on his southern border.

But Hezbollah’s transformation does not mean it has given up on fighting Israel, only it won’t be fighting Israel the ‘Palestine usurper,’ but Israel the partner in America’s ‘World Oppressors Inc,’ which Iran and Hezbollah have been dedicated to fighting since 1979.

As such, Hezbollah’s conflict with Israel is being transformed from direct confrontation to clandestine operations. The Borgas bombing and Hezbollah’s foiled attempts in Cyprus, among other less-publicized attempts, are only the beginning.

Hezbollah’s international network is not as formidable as its militia. But if history is any guide, the party learns fast. It might soon cultivate assets and form cells, around the world, to be used for attacks in due time.

Should such attacks invite Israeli reprisal across the border, like those against Palestinians in the 1960s and 70s, then engaging Israel in direct war could become justified in the eyes of the party’s Shiite base.

But no such scenario seems in the making. The Lebanese-Israeli border will remain cold, at least for now.

Hussain Abdul-Hussain is the Washington Bureau Chief of Kuwaiti newspaper Alrai. He tweets @hahussain.

Categories: Israel, Lebanon, Palestine | Tags: , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Palestinian refugees: UNRWA betrayed mission and the debate on naturalization and right to return

Two articles I wrote for ResetDOCThe first one is about UNRWA, its marginalization and its betrayed mission within the framework of the forgotten right to return. The second one on the debate on naturalization and right to return and how the first option should not come at the expenses of this untouchable right (as this is the discourse implied by those willing to ‘shrink’ UNRWA’s definition of Palestinian refugees). On the other hand, the protection of the right to return should not jeopardize the living conditions of Palestinians in Arab host countries (and this is the definitely the case of Lebanon and Jordan). 

UNRWA: an agency neglected to forget about its mission

Andrea Glioti

In the face of a new exodus from Syria, the assistance of Palestinian refugees is in the hands of a neglected UN agency, sidelined by the marginalization of the only UN-sanctioned route to improve their conditions: the right to return to Palestine. The Palestinian Authority (PA) and Western powers prepared the ground for this scenario through the Oslo Accords (1993).

Out of more than nine million Palestinian refugees worldwide, around five million are registered under the United Nations Relief and Work Agency (UNRWA) in Syria, Lebanon, Jordan and the PA. According to the UNRWA’s definition of a Palestinian refugee, besides the original residents of Palestine between 1 June 1946 and 15 May 1948, all the descendants of Palestinian refugee males are entitled to receive its services. Palestinians refugees still dream of returning to their homeland and this right is sanctioned by UNGAR 194 (III).

At odds with these aspirations, during an interview with an Israeli TV channel last November, the head of the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) and the official representative of all Palestinians for the international community (i.e., the West), Mahmud ‘Abbas Abu Mazen, denied his right to live in Safed, the native village he had to leave after the establishment of Israel in 1948. The declarations of ‘Abbas predictably sparked off indignation among Palestinians, since the descendants of those who fled the ’48 territories refuse categorically any resettlement in the PA. “The right of return doesn’t mean being resettled in Gaza or the West Bank,” affirms Yahya, a young refugee from Beirut’s Burj al-Barajneh camp, originally from Acre, “it’s not only a struggle for ourselves, we are also defending the right of return of our sons.”

Palestinian activists and academics understand Abu Mazen’s position in line with the Oslo Accords, which resulted in the marginalization of refugees and cuts on the UNRWA budget. The current outlook is particularly bleak, taking in consideration the massive inflow of Palestinian refugees coming from war-ravaged Syria into Lebanon. Until February 19,2013, 30.000 Palestinians crossed the Lebanese border from Syria; speaking at a meeting of the Syrian Humanitarian Forum in Geneva, the UNRWA General Commissioner, Filippo Grandi, denounced that half of the 500.000 Palestinians living in Syria had to flee their homes. The crisis is intertwined with the marginalization of Palestinian refugees, as a consequence of ‘Abbas’ appeals to the UN to direct Palestinians from Syria to the PA and the renunciation to their right of return to the ’48 territories Israel has allegedly required to accept this. The head of the PA seems to have temporarily rejected this plan, but there is already enough evidence of his willingness to negotiate on the right of return.

Any resettlement of ‘48 Palestinian refugees within the UNRWA’s territories, thus including also the PA, implies a crucial role for the agency. However, the UNRWA appears financially neglected, subject to Western political agendas and actively involved in the marginalization of the right of return.

Over the last two decades, the agency saw its budget drastically reduced. UNRWA’s website states that “at the end of April 2012 the agency’s cash deficit stood at USD 69.4 million and the average annual spending per refugee has fallen from about $200 in 1975 to around $110 today.” While facing a crisis started in the first half of 2012, the UNRWA could not afford to pay the rents of those Palestinians, who fled Syria to settle in the Lebanese refugee camps: only on February 25, a 2.5 million euros agreement has been reached between the EU and UNRWA to shelter in Lebanon Palestinian refugees from Syria (“The contribution to Lebanon is part of a total amount of 7.5 million to UNRWA to assist the most vulnerable Palestine refugees in Syria and those refugees who have fled Syria to Lebanon.”).

In a wider picture, the lack of funds is ascribed to the marginalization of the right of return ensued from Oslo. “The right of return has been already put on the backburner by Oslo,” maintains the American activist of Palestinian descendants,  Jacqueline Husary, “the focus has always been on creating a State.”After the Accords, as pointed out by the Oxford professor and former PLO representative, Karma Nabulsi, in her Civitas Report (2006), Palestinians ‘inside [Gaza and the West Bank] received considerable international funding, whilst the political and civic aspirations of those living outside […] were ignored, […] at best they were classified as objects of humanitarian relief.’

Quite predictably, Palestinian authorities hold a completely different view on the relations between the peace process and the condition of refugees. “A peaceful settlement with Israel would empower the Palestinian State to negotiate a solution on refugees,” affirms the UN Palestinian ambassador, Ibrahim Khraishi, “the last talks between Olmert and Abbas [N/A: 2008] proceeded on the right path to agree on compensations and allow the return of some refugees.” On the contrary, this was a partial renouncement to the right of return and Olmert actually wrote in his memoirs that the proposal to take into Israel an annual quota of 1.000 refugees for five years was actually rejected by ‘Abbas.

Moreover, it goes hardly unnoticed that Oslo and the UNRWA share the same Western sponsors:  according to the agency’s website, until the last year, Europe and the US contributed to 42% of UNRWA core program budget. In January 2010, the Canadian treasury, which accounts for 11% of UNRWA’s funding, decided to withhold its support to the agency: it was announced that donations would have been reallocated to projects administered by the PA in ‘alignment with Canadian values regarding democracy, equality and safeguarding Israel’s security.’ Such a move has been understood by conservative pro-Israeli organizations as motivated with the disagreement on UNRWA’s employment of Hamas supporters. The last attack on UNRWA came from the US Congress in May 2012, when a distinction between 1948 refugees and their descendants has been proposed to “shrink” UNRWA’s definition of Palestine refugees.

Although ensuring the return has never been the agency’s mission – it was the goal of the currently inactive UN Conciliation Commission for Palestine (UNCCP) – UNRWA was supposed to cooperate with UNCCP and even its foundational resolution (UNGAR 302 (IV)) confirmed the right of return sanctioned in UNGAR 194 (III). According to its mandate, the agency was originally created as a “temporary” solution to the plight of Palestinians, but its activities are motivated 60 years later with the pending ‘just resolution to the question of the Palestine refugees.’ “What is a just resolution?” asks sardonically the Palestinian researcher Mahmud al-‘Ali, who works for the Lebanon-based NGO (‘Aidun), “it means that, to gain support, UNRWA started supporting  the peace process and the focus on the development of the Palestinian Authority.”

Palestinians_right_of_return

Palestinian refugees stuck between naturalization and right of return

Andrea Glioti

The hard daily lives of Palestinian refugees remain stuck between the impossibility to return to their homeland and the difficulties presented by naturalization: all Arab countries oppose it for political reasons and the West is criticized for understanding any new citizenship as a renouncement to the right of return. Naturalization (tajnis) is considered by many Arabs as a preamble to settlement (tawtin), meaning the loss of any claim on the original homeland, even though denying citizenship is often equal to blatant discrimination.

The dichotomy entrenched between naturalization and right of return is extremely relevant to the aftermaths of the Syrian uprising, which is forcing Palestinians outside one of the few countries where they were treated fairly. The runaways found themselves with limited options: most of them stopped in Lebanon, some are still waiting for Jordan to open its borders to Palestinians, others prefer to remain in Syria rather than being discriminated in these two countries.

In Lebanon, Palestinians are not yet allowed to work in at least 25 different professions. Despite law amendments easing access to certain professions in 2010, Palestinians are paid 20% less than Lebanese for the same job. The Lebanese Government has been  criticized for not implementing the amendments and, by law, Palestinians are still not allowed to register properties.

In Jordan, the disengagement from the West Bank in 1988 was accompanied by revoking the Jordanian citizenship of 1.5 million Palestinians living there. Since then, the Hashemite Kingdom kept on stripping other categories of Palestinians of their Jordanian nationality. “There are some 1.25 million Palestinians in Jordan without citizenship rights, that is they lack the basic protections  enjoyed  by citizens in access to education, health services, voting,  movements, ownership,” confirms prof. Jamil Hilal, a sociologist at Ramallah’s Birzeit University.

In Syria, Palestinians used to enjoy equal rights to nationals, apart from nationality and political rights, according to Law 260 of 1957, although Palestinian do also face restrictions on property rights. According to a study conducted in 1999 by the Palestinian NGOBadil, ‘Syria […] serves as an example, which confirms that secure civil and social rights in the host countries can protect refugees from falling victim, for fear of discrimination, to the dangers of re-settlement and loss of their national identity.’  Syria, Lebanon[1] and Jordan have all signed the League of Arab States’  Casablanca Protocol in 1965, which obliges Arab countries to grant Palestinian refugees rights to employment, residency and freedom of movement, while maintaining their Palestinian identity by not naturalizing them. However, Amman and Beirut didn’t live up to their commitments.

In Lebanon, Palestinian refugees aspire to fair treatment, but they remain wary of resettlement and naturalization, as these options have been often interpreted by the West and Israel as a renouncement to their right of return. This regardless of the official UNRWA definition, which qualifies a Palestinian refugee on the basis of his/her lineage and regardless of his/her nationality. “A refugee nowadays chooses to remain in the worst living conditions to preserve his sacred right of return,” affirms Rami Suleiman, a Palestinian activist from Damascus, “this situation would change, provided that the international community starts considering us Palestinians, regardless of our nationality.”  With regards to this issue, Mahmud ‘Aidun, a Palestinian researcher from the Lebanon-based NGO (‘Aidun),  quotes past examples of UN-sponsored quick resettlement without any consideration of Palestinian peculiarities. “After the fall of Saddam, UNHCR turned immediately to the resettlement of Palestinian refugees leaving Iraq[2] in third countries like Brazil, after it realized the return was not accepted by the Israelis,” recalls al-‘Ali. There is no doubt that these Palestinians found better living conditions in Brazil, but in the eyes of al-‘Ali they practically lost their right of return.

Most Arab Governments stopped naturalizing Palestinians in 1952, despite a $200 million offer from the UN Refugee Rehabilitation Fund to find ‘homes and jobs for the refugees’, since they rejected any project that could be interpreted as promoting resettlement. “If we can achieve a status like the one enjoyed by Palestinians in Syria, without any need of being naturalized, it would be enough,” says Yahya, a young Palestinian refugee in Beirut’s Burj al-Barajneh camp.

But even now, as the craved refuge in Syria is vanishing, Palestinian officials in Lebanon seem keen on belittling the grievances of the newcomers and reassuring Lebanese authorities about the absence of any resettlement purpose. “The figures of Palestinians coming from Syria are not so high yet,” told me the Palestinian Ambassador to Lebanon, Ashraf Dabbur, on November 26, “and we need to take in consideration that, God willing, they will remain for a limited period.” Dabbur stressed also his gratitude for the Lebanese Government for helping Palestinians arriving from Syria, even if they were facing tribulations to extend their residency permits, while living in overcrowded refugee camps. While the ambassador was speaking, the Yarmuk Palestinian neighborhood in Damascus was under heavy shelling: on February 19, UNRWA’s General Commissioner Filippo Grandi denounced that only 20.000 of its 150.000 Palestinian residents are still there. Palestinian and Lebanese authorities cling to the idea of a community bound to return, the focus is not on improving its conditions, but on ensuring ‘that it doesn’t feel at home’.

In Lebanon, the real political and sectarian reasons behind the refusal of the naturalization of Sunni Palestinians have been masked behind an ethic adherence to the right of return. “The denial of political and social rights is justified under the slogan of persevering the right of return to Palestine,” notes prof. Hilal, “such claims hide practice of exploitation- Palestinians provided cheap labor for decades in Lebanon and other places of refuge- political petty mindedness and discrimination.”

In Jordan, Palestinians are denied political and civil rights under the guise of preserving their right of return and support their struggle for self-determination. Among the excuses given by the Jordanian kingdom for stripping Palestinians of their Jordanian citizenship, there is the aim to keep Palestinians in Palestine, to stop the indiscriminate expansion of Israeli settlements. The ‘alternative homeland’ vision of the Israeli right-wing, that is the belief that Palestinians should move to Jordan, is thus used as a pretext to violate their human rights. Naturalizing over one million stateless Palestinians in a country of around 6.500.000 inhabitants, which is home to almost two million Palestinian refugees, has clear political repercussions. Jordan. Needless to say, political calculations should not come at the expense of human rights.

[1]Even if Lebanon added some reservations on the articles related to freedom of movement and employment.

[2]UNRWA has never been allowed to work in Iraq, as the country is not a signatory of the 1951 Geneva Convention on to the protection of refugees. This is the reason why Iraqi Palestinians have been registered under UNHCR after 2003

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Judith Butler remarks on the Boycott, Disinvestment and Sanctions Movement (March 2013)

BDSThe Boycott, Disinvestment and Sanctions movement (BDS) has been created back in 2005 by 171 Palestinian non-governmental organisations, that were aiming at achieving self-determination through non-violent punitive measures against the state of Israel for its legal violations on a domestic and international level.

The BDS issue has recently come again to the fore among some university students in Australia – where I’m currently based – since the University of New South Wales will apparently host soon on its campus the chocolate shop chain “Max Brenner”. This chocolate store is known to be owned by the Israeli conglomerate Strauss Group, which provides “material assistance” for the Israeli Defence Forces, and specifically for the Golani and Givati brigades. The IDF carry out crimes on a vast scale against the Palestinian population and repeatedly bypass International Law. The 2008-09 Cast Lead Operation in the Gaza Strip is the most blatant example. 

I have just come across this well structured discourse that Professor Judith Butler held at Brooklyn College last February. I thank Butler for clarifying the BDS principles, its way of acting, and the fact that the main goal of this movement is not at all to foster anti-Jewish hate speech; rather, to become unnecessary in the sphere of a peaceful coexistence. The BDS movement merely aims at demolishing the structural conditions of inequality, containment and dispossession, in the common interest of both peoples. 

I invite you all to read it here below at full to refresh the huge importance of this cause.

(Estella Carpi)

http://www.thenation.com/article/172752/judith-butlers-remarks-brooklyn-college-bds#

Judith Butler’s Remarks to Brooklyn College on BDS

February 7, 2013

Editors Note: Despite a campaign to silence them, philosophers Judith Butler and Omar Barghouti spoke at Brooklyn College on Thursday night. In an exclusive, The Nation presents the text of Butler’s remarks.

Usually one starts by saying that one is glad to be here, but I cannot say that it has been a pleasure anticipating this event. What a Megillah! I am, of course, glad that the event was not cancelled, and I understand that it took a great deal of courage and a steadfast embrace of principle for this event to happen at all. I would like personally to thank all those who took this opportunity to reaffirm the fundamental principles of academic freedom, including the following organizations: the Modern Language Association, the National Lawyers Guild, the New York ACLU, the American Association of University Professors, the Professional Staff Congress (the union for faculty and staff in the CUNY system), the New York Times editorial team, the offices of Mayor Michael Bloomberg, Governor Andrew Cuomo and Brooklyn College President Karen Gould whose principled stand on academic freedom has been exemplary.

About the Author

Judith Butler
Judith Butler is a professor in the Rhetoric and Comparative Literature department at UC Berkeley. She is the…

Also by the Author

As the UC Berkeley Student Senate votes to divest from two companies that profit from Israel’s occupation of Palestine, the noted philosopher reminds us of what’s at stake.

Judith Butler’s April 1 “Guantánamo Limbo” intelligently discusses the failure of the Geneva Conventions to take account of “prisoners of the new war” and links this failure to its flawed premises regarding states.

The principle of academic freedom is designed to make sure that powers outside the university, including government and corporations, are not able to control the curriculum or intervene in extra-mural speech. It not only bars such interventions, but it also protects those platforms in which we might be able to reflect together on the most difficult problems. You can judge for yourself whether or not my reasons for lending my support to this movement are good ones. That is, after all, what academic debate is about. It is also what democratic debate is about, which suggests that open debate about difficult topics functions as a meeting point between democracy and the academy. Instead of asking right away whether we are for or against this movement, perhaps we can pause just long enough to find out what exactly this is, the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement, and why it is so difficult to speak about this.

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I am not asking anyone to join a movement this evening. I am not even a leader of this movement or part of any of its governing committee, even though the New York Times tried to anoint me the other day—I appreciated their subsequent retraction, and I apologize to my Palestinian colleagues for their error. The movement, in fact, has been organized and led by Palestinians seeking rights of political self-determination, including Omar Barghouti, who was invited first by the Students for Justice in Palestine, after which I was invited to join him. At the time I thought it would be very much like other events I have attended, a conversation with a few dozen student activists in the basement of a student center. So, as you can see, I am surprised and ill-prepared for what has happened.

Omar will speak in a moment about what the BDS movement is, its successes and its aspirations. But I would like briefly to continue with the question, what precisely are we doing here this evening? I presume that you came to hear what there is to be said, and so to test your preconceptions against what some people have to say, to see whether your objections can be met and your questions answered. In other words, you come here to exercise critical judgment, and if the arguments you hear are not convincing, you will be able to cite them, to develop your opposing view and to communicate that as you wish. In this way, your being here this evening confirms your right to form and communicate an autonomous judgment, to demonstrate why you think something is true or not, and you should be free to do this without coercion and fear. These are your rights of free expression, but they are, perhaps even more importantly, your rights to education, which involves the freedom to hear, to read and to consider any number of viewpoints as part of an ongoing public deliberation on this issue. Your presence here, even your support for the event, does not assume agreement among us. There is no unanimity of opinion here; indeed, achieving unanimity is not the goal.

The arguments made against this very meeting took several forms, and they were not always easy for me to parse. One argument was that BDS is a form of hate speech, and it spawned a set of variations: it is hate speech directed against either the State of Israel or Israeli Jews, or all Jewish people. If BDS is hate speech, then it is surely not protected speech, and it would surely not be appropriate for any institution of higher learning to sponsor or make room for such speech. Yet another objection, sometimes uttered by the same people who made the first, is that BDS does qualify as a viewpoint, but as such, ought to be presented only in a context in which the opposing viewpoint can be heard as well. There was yet a qualification to this last position, namely, that no one can have a conversation on this issue in the US that does not include a certain Harvard professor, but that spectacular argument was so self-inflationary and self-indicting, that I could only respond with astonishment.

So in the first case, it is not a viewpoint (and so not protected as extra-mural speech), but in the second instance, it is a viewpoint, presumably singular, but cannot be allowed to be heard without an immediate refutation. The contradiction is clear, but when people engage in a quick succession of contradictory claims such as these, it is usually because they are looking for whatever artillery they have at their disposal to stop something from happening. They don’t much care about consistency or plausibility. They fear that if the speech is sponsored by an institution such as Brooklyn College, it will not only be heard, but become hearable, admitted into the audible world. The fear is that viewpoint will become legitimate, which means only that someone can publicly hold such a view and that it becomes eligible for contestation. A legitimate view is not necessarily right, but it is not ruled out in advance as hate speech or injurious conduct. Those who did not want any of these words to become sayable and audible imagined that the world they know and value will come to an end if such words are uttered, as if the words themselves will rise off the page or fly out of the mouth as weapons that will injure, maim or even kill, leading to irreversibly catastrophic consequences. This is why some people claimed that if this event were held, the two-state solution would be imperiled—they attributed great efficacy to these words. And yet others said it would lead to the coming of a second Holocaust—an unimaginable remark to which I will nevettheless return. One might say that all of these claims were obvious hyperbole and should be dismissed as such. But it is important to understand that they are wielded for the purpose of intimidation, animating the spectre of traumatic identification with the Nazi oppressor: if you let these people speak, you yourself will be responsible for heinous crimes or for the destruction of a state, or the Jewish people. If you listen to the words, you will become complicit in war crimes.

And yet all of us here have to distinguish between the right to listen to a point of view and the right to concur or dissent from that point of view; otherwise, public discourse is destroyed by censorship. I wonder, what is the fantasy of speech nursed by the censor? There must be enormous fear behind the drive to censorship, but also enormous aggression, as if we were all in a war where speech has suddenly become artillery. Is there another way to approach language and speech as we think about this issue? Is it possible that some other use of words might forestall violence, bring about a general ethos of non-violence, and so enact, and open onto, the conditions for a public discourse that welcomes and shelters disagreement, even disarray?

The Boycott Divestment and Sanctions movement is, in fact, a non-violent movement; it seeks to use established legal means to achieve its goals; and it is, interestingly enough, the largest Palestinian civic movement at this time. That means that the largest Palestinian civic movement is a non-violent one that justifies its actions through recourse to international law. Further, I want to underscore that this is also a movement whose stated core principles include the opposition to every form of racism, including both state-sponsored racism and anti-Semitism. Of course, we can debate what anti-Semitism is, in what social and political forms it is found. I myself am sure that the election of self-identified national socialists to the Greek parliament is a clear sign of anti-Semitism; I am sure that the recirculation of Nazi insignia and rhetoric by the National Party of Germany is a clear sign of anti-Semitism. I am also sure that the rhetoric and actions of Iran’s Mahmoud Ahmadinejad are often explicitly anti-Semitic, and that some forms of Palestinian opposition to Israel do rely on anti-Semitic slogans, falsehoods and threats. All of these forms of anti-Semitism are to be unconditionally opposed. And I would add, they have to be opposed in the same way and with the same tenacity that any form of racism has to be opposed, including state racism.

But still, it is left to us to ask, why would a non-violent movement to achieve basic political rights for Palestinians be understood as anti-Semitic? Surely, there is nothing about the basic rights themselves that constitute a problem. They include equal rights of citizenship for current inhabitants; the end to the occupation, and the rights of unlawfully displaced persons to return to their lands and gain restitution for their losses. We will surely speak about each of these three principles this evening. But for now, I want to ask, why would a collective struggle to use economic and cultural forms of power to compel the enforcement of international laws be considered anti-Semitic? It would be odd to say that they are anti-Semitic to honor internationally recognized rights to equality, to be free of occupation and to have unlawfully appropriated land and property restored. I know that this last principle makes many people uneasy, but there are several ways of conceptualizing how the right of return might be exercised lawfully such that it does not entail further dispossession (and we will return to this issue).

For those who say that exercising internationally recognized rights is anti-Semitic, or becomes anti-Semitic in this context, they must mean either that a) its motivation is anti-Semitic or b) its effects are anti-Semitic. I take it that no one is actually saying that the rights themselves are anti-Semitic, since they have been invoked by many populations in the last decades, including Jewish people dispossessed and displaced in the aftermath of the second world war. Is there really any reason we should not assume that Jews, just like any other people, would prefer to live in a world where such internationally recognized rights are honored? It will not do to say that international law is the enemy of the Jewish people, since the Jewish people surely did not as a whole oppose the Nuremburg trials, or the development of human rights law. In fact, there have always been Jews working alongside non-Jews—not only to establish the courts and codes of international law, but in the struggle to dismantle colonial regimes, opposing any and all legal and military powers that seek systematically to undermine the conditions of political self-determination for any population.

Only if we accept the proposition that the state of Israel is the exclusive and legitimate representative of the Jewish people would a movement calling for divestment, sanctions and boycott against that state be understood as directed against the Jewish people as a whole. Israel would then be understood as co-extensive with the Jewish people. There are two major problems with this view. First, the state of Israel does not represent all Jews, and not all Jews understand themselves as represented by the state of Israel. Secondly, the state of Israel should be representing allof its population equally, regardless of whether or not they are Jewish, regardless of race, religion or ethnicity.

So the first critical and normative claim that follows is that the state of Israel should be representing the diversity of its own population. Indeed, nearly 25 percent of Israel’s population is not Jewish, and most of those are Palestinian, although some of them are Bedouins and Druze. If Israel is to be considered a democracy, the non-Jewish population deserves equal rights under the law, as do the Mizrachim (Arab Jews) who represent over 30 percent of the population. Presently, there are at least twenty laws that privilege Jews over Arabs within the Israeli legal system. The 1950 Law of Return grants automatic citizenship rights to Jews from anywhere in the world upon request, while denying that same right to Palestinians who were forcibly dispossessed of their homes in 1948 or subsequently as the result of illegal settlements and redrawn borders. Human Rights Watch has compiled an extensive study of Israel’s policy of “separate, not equal” schools for Palestinian children. Moreover, as many as 100 Palestinian villages in Israel are still not recognized by the Israeli government, lacking basic services (water, electricity, sanitation, roads, etc.) from the government. Palestinians are barred from military service, and yet access to housing and education still largely depends on military status. Families are divided by the separation wall between the West Bank and Israel, with few forms of legal recourse to rights of visitation and reunification. The Knesset debates the “transfer” of the Palestinian population to the West Bank, and the new loyalty oath requires that anyone who wishes to become a citizen pledge allegiance to Israel as Jewish and democratic, thus eliding once again the non-Jewish population and binding the full population to a specific and controversial, if not contradictory, version of democracy.

The second point, to repeat, is that the Jewish people extend beyond the state of Israel and the ideology of political Zionism. The two cannot be equated. Honestly, what can really be said about “the Jewish people” as a whole? Is it not a lamentable sterotype to make large generalizations about all Jews, and to presume they all share the same political commitments? They—or, rather, we—occupy a vast spectrum of political views, some of which are unconditionally supportive of the state of Israel, some of which are conditionally supportive, some are skeptical, some are exceedingly critical, and an increasing number, if we are to believe the polls in this country, are indifferent. In my view, we have to remain critical of anyone who posits a single norm that decides rights of entry into the social or cultural category determining as well who will be excluded. Most categories of identity are fraught with conflicts and ambiguities; the effort to suppress the complexity of the category of “Jewish” is thus a political move that seeks to yoke a cultural identity to a specific Zionist position. If the Jew who struggles for justice for Palestine is considered to be anti-Semitic, if any number of internationals who have joined thus struggle from various parts of the world are also considered anti-Semitic and if Palestinians seeking rights of political self-determination are so accused as well, then it would appear that no oppositional move that can take place without risking the accusation of anti-Semitism. That accusation becomes a way of discrediting a bid for self-determination, at which point we have to ask what political purpose the radical mis-use of that accusation has assumed in the stifling of a movement for political self-determination.

When Zionism becomes co-extensive with Jewishness, Jewishness is pitted against the diversity that defines democracy, and if I may say so, betrays one of the most important ethical dimensions of the diasporic Jewish tradition, namely, the obligation of co-habitation with those different from ourselves. Indeed, such a conflation denies the Jewish role in broad alliances in the historical struggle for social and political justice in unions, political demands for free speech, in socialist communities, in the resistance movement in World War II, in peace activism, the Civil Rights movement and the struggle against apartheid in South Africa. It also demeans the important struggles in which Jews and Palestinians work together to stop the wall, to rebuild homes, to document indefinite detention, to oppose military harassment at the borders and to oppose the occupation and to imagine the plausible scenarios for the Palestinian right to return.

The point of the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement is to withdraw funds and support from major financial and cultural institutions that support the operations of the Israeli state and its military. The withdrawal of investments from companies that actively support the military or that build on occupied lands, the refusal to buy products that are made by companies on occupied lands, the withdrawal of funds from investment accounts that support any of these activities, a message that a growing number of people in the international community will not be complicit with the occupation. For this goal to be realized, it matters that there is a difference between those who carry Israeli passports and the state of Israel, since the boycott is directed only toward the latter. BDS focuses on state agencies and corporations that build machinery designed to destroy homes, that build military materiel that targets populations, that profit from the occupation, that are situated illegally on Palestinian lands, to name a few.

BDS does not discriminate against individuals on the basis of their national citizenship. I concede that not all versions of BDS have been consistent on this point in the past, but the present policy confirms this principle. I myself oppose any form of BDS that discriminates against individuals on the basis of their citizenship. Others may interpret the boycott differently, but I have no problem collaborating with Israeli scholars and artists as long as we do not participate in any Israeli institution or have Israeli state monies support our collaborative work. The reason, of course, is that the academic and cultural boycott seeks to put pressure on all those cultural institutions that have failed to oppose the occupation and struggle for equal rights and the rights of the dispossessed, all those cultural institutions that think it is not their place to criticize their government for these practices, all of them that understand themselves to be above or beyond this intractable political condition. In this sense, they do contribute to an unacceptable status quo. And those institutions should know why international artists and scholars refuse to come when they do, just as they also need to know the conditions under which people will come. When those cultural institutions (universities, art centers, festivals) were to take such a stand, that would be the beginning of the end of the boycott (let’s remember that the goal of any boycott, divestment and sanctions movement is to become obsolete and unnecessary; once conditions of equality and justice are achieved, the rationale for BDS falls away, and in this sense achieving the just conditions for the dissolution of the movement is its very aim).

In some ways, the argument between BDS and its opponents centers on the status of international law. Which international laws are to be honored, and how can they be enforced. International law cannot solve every political conflict, but political conflicts that fully disregard international law usually only get worse as a result. We know that the government of the state of Israel has voiced its skepticism about international law, repeatedly criticizing the United Nations as a biased institution, even bombing its offices in Gaza. Israel also became the first country to withhold cooperation from a UN review of its human rights practices scheduled last week in Geneva (New York Times, 1/29/13). I think it is fair to call this a boycott of the UN on the part of the state of Israel. Indeed, one hears criticism of the ineffectiveness of the UN on both sides, but is that a reason to give up on the global human rights process altogether? There are good reasons to criticize the human rights paradigm, to be sure, but for now, I am only seeking to make the case that BDS is not a destructive or hateful movement. It appeals to international law precisely under conditions in which the international community, the United Nations included, neighboring Arab states, human rights courts, the European Union, The United States and the UK, have all failed effectively to rectify the manifest injustices in Palestine. Boycott, divestment and the call for sanctions are popular demands that emerge precisely when the international community has failed to compel a state to abide by its own norms.

Let us consider, then, go back to the right of return, which constitutes the controversial third prong of the BDS platform. The law of return is extended to all of us who are Jewish who live in the diaspora, which means that were it not for my politics, I too would be eligible to become a citizen of that state. At the same time, Palestinians in need of the right of return are denied the same rights? If someone answers that “Jewish demographic advantage” must be maintained, one can query whether Jewish demographic advantage is policy that can ever be reconciled with democratic principles. If one responds to that with “the Jews will only be safe if they retain their majority status,” the response has to be that any state will surely engender an opposition movement when it seeks to maintain a permanent and disenfranchised minority within its borders, fails to offer reparation or return to a population driven from their lands and homes, keeps over four million people under occupation without rights of mobility, due process and political self-determination, and another 1.6 million under siege in Gaza, rationing of food, administering unemployment, blocking building materials to restore bombed homes and institutions, intensifying vulnerability to military bombardment resulting in widespread injury and death.

If we conclude that those who participate in such an opposition movement do so because they hate the Jews, we have surely failed to recognize that this is an opposition to oppression, to the multi-faceted dimensions of a militarized form of settler colonialism that has entailed subordination, occupation and dispossession. Any group would oppose that condition, and the state that maintains it, regardless of whether that state is identified as a Jewish state or any other kind. Resistance movements do not discriminate against oppressors, though sometimes the language of the movement can use discriminatory language, and that has to be opposed. However, it is surely cynical to claim that the only reason a group organizes to oppose its own oppression is that it bears an inexplicable prejudice or racist hatred against those who oppress them. We can see the torque of this argument and the absurd conclusions to which it leads: if the Palestinians did not hate the Jews, they would accept their oppression by the state of Israel! If they resist, it is a sign of anti-Semitism!

This kind of logic takes us to one of the traumatic and affective regions of this conflict. There are reasons why much of the global media and prevailing political discourses cannot accept that a legitimate opposition to inequality, occupation, and dispossession is very different from anti-Semitism. After all, we cannot rightly argue that if a state claiming to represent the Jewish people engages in these manifestly illegal activities, it is therefore justified on the grounds that the Jews have suffered atrociously and therefore have special needs to be exempt from international norms. Such illegal acts are never justified, no matter who is practicing them.

At the same time, one must object to some of the language used by Hamas to refer to the state of Israel, where very often the state of Israel is itself conflated with the Jews, and where the actions of the state reflect on the nature of the Jews. This is clearly anti-Semitism and must be opposed. But BDS is not the same as Hamas, and it is simply ignorant to argue that all Palestinian organizations are the same. In the same vein, those who wrote to me recently to say that BDS is the same as Hamas is the same as the Nazis are involved in fearful and aggressive forms of association that assume that any effort to make distinctions is naïve and foolish. And so we see how the conflations such as these lead to bitter and destructive consequences. What if we slowed down enough to think and to distinguish—what political possibilities might then open?

And it brings us to yet another outcry that we heard in advance of our discussion here this evening. That was BDS is the coming of a second holocaust. I believe we have to be very careful when anyone makes use of the Holocaust in this way and for this purpose, since if the term becomes a weapon by which we seek to stigmatize those with opposing political viewpoints, then we have first of all dishonored the slaughter of over 6 million Jewish people, and another 4 million gypsies, gay people, disabled, the communists and the physically and mentally ill. All of us, Jewish or not Jewish, must keep that historical memory intact and alive, and refuse forms of revisionism and political exploitation of that history. We may not exploit and re-ignite the traumatic dimension of Hitler’s atrocities for the purposes of accusing and silencing those with opposing political viewpoints, including legitimate criticisms of the state of Israel. Such a tactic not only demeans and instrumentalizes the memory of the Nazi genocide, but produces a general cynicism about both accusations of anti-Semitism and predictions of new genocidal possibilities. After all, if those terms are bandied about as so much artillery in a war, then they are used as blunt instruments for the purposes of censorship and self-legitimation, and they no longer name and describe the very hideous political realities to which they belong. The more such accusations and invocations are tactically deployed, the more skeptical and cynical the public becomes about their actual meaning and use. This is a violation of that history, an insult to the surviving generation, and a cynical and excited recirculation of traumatic material—a kind of sadistic spree, to put it bluntly—that seeks to defend and legitimate a very highly militarized and repressive state regime. Of the use of the Holocaust to legitimate Israeli military destructiveness, Primo Levi wrote in 1982, “I deny any validity to [the use of the Holocaust for] this defence.”

We have heard in recent days as well that BDS threatens the attempt to establish a two-state solution. Although many people who support BDS are in favor of a one-state solution, the BDS movement has not taken a stand on this explicitly, and includes signatories who differ from one another on this issue. In fact, the BDS committee, formed in 2005 with the support of over 170 organizations in Palestine, does not take any stand on the one state or two state solution. It describes itself as an “anti-normalization” politics that seeks to force a wide range of political institutions and states to stop compliance with the occupation, unequal treatment and dispossession. For the BDS National Committee, it is not the fundamental structure of the state of Israel that is called into question, but the occupation, its denial of basic human rights, its abrogation of international law (including its failure to honor the rights of refugees), and the brutality of its continuing conditions—harassment, humiliation, destruction and confiscation of property, bombardment, and killing. Indeed, one finds an array of opinions on one-state and two-state, especially now that one-state can turn into Greater Israel with separated Bantustans of Palestinian life. The two-state solution brings its own problems, given that the recent proposals tend to suspend the rights of refugees, accept curtailed borders and fail to show whether the establishment of an independent state will bring to an end the ongoing practices and institutions of occupation, or simply incorporate them into its structure. How can a state be built with so many settlements, all illegal, which are expected to bring the Israeli population in Palestine to nearly one million of its four million inhabitants. Many have argued that it is the rapidly increasing settler population in the West Bank, not BDS, that is forcing the one-state solution.

Some people accept divestment without sanctions, or divestment and sanctions without the boycott. There are an array of views. In my view, the reason to hold together all three terms is simply that it is not possible to restrict the problem of Palestinian subjugation to the occupation alone. It is significant in itself, since four million people are living without rights of mobility, sovereignty, control over their borders, trade and political self-determination, subjected to military raids, indefinite detention, extended imprisonment and harassment. However, if we fail to make the link between occupation, inequality and dispossession, we agree to forget the claims of 1948, bury the right to return. We overlook the structural link between the Israeli demand for demographic advantage and the multivalent forms of dispossession that affect Palestinians who have been forced to become diasporic, those who live with partial rights within the borders, and those who live under occupation in the West Bank or in the open air prison of Gaza (with high unemployment and rationed foods) or other refugee camps in the region.

Some people have said that they value co-existence over boycott, and wish to engage in smaller forms of binational cultural communities in which Israeli Jews and Palestinians live and work together. This is a view that holds to the promise that small organic communities have a way of expanding into ever widening circles of solidarity, modeling the conditions for peaceable co-existence. The only question is whether those small communities continue to accept the oppressive structure of the state, or whether in their small and effective way oppose the various dimensions of continuing subjugation and disenfranchisement. If they do the latter, they become solidarity struggles. So co-existence becomes solidarity when it joins the movement that seeks to undo the structural conditions of inequality, containment and dispossession. So perhaps the conditions of BDS solidarity are precisely what prefigure that form of living and working together that might one day become a just and peaceable form of co-existence.

One could be for the BDS movement as the only credible non-violent mode of resisting the injustices committed by the state of Israel without falling into the football lingo of being “pro” Palestine and “anti” Israel. This language is reductive, if not embarrassing. One might reasonably and passionately be concerned for all the inhabitants of that land, and simply maintain that the future for any peaceful, democratic solution for that region will become thinkable through the dismantling of the occupation, through enacting the equal rights of Palestinian minorities and finding just and plausible ways for the rights of refugees to be honored. If one holds out for these three aims in political life, then one is not simply living within the logic of the “pro” and the “anti”, but trying to fathom the conditions for a “we”, a plural existence grounded in equality. What does one do with one’s words but reach for a place beyond war, ask for a new constellation of political life in which the relations of colonial subjugation are brought to a halt. My wager, my hope, is that everyone’s chance to live with greater freedom from fear and aggression will be increased as those conditions of justice, freedom, and equality are realized. We can or, rather, must start with how we speak, and how we listen, with the right to education, and to dwell critically, fractiously, and freely in political discourse together. Perhaps the word “justice” will assume new meanings as we speak it, such that we can venture that what will be just for the Jews will also be just for the Palestinians, and for all the other people living there, since justice, when just, fails to discriminate, and we savor that failure.

Check out Katha Pollitt’s take on the political firestorm around the BDS panel.

February 7, 2013
Categories: Israel, Palestine | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

Reflections on the cultural conception of Resistance (by Estella Carpi – January 2012)

http://www.sirialibano.com/lebanon/resistenza-tra-lingua-cultura-e-ineluttabilita.html

“Resistenza” tra lingua, cultura e ineluttabilità

11 GENNAIO 2012

(di Estella Carpi) Talvolta, pur di rinverdire l’importanza di una causa o far valere un concetto che ci sta a cuore, ci tocca rivelare alcuni pensieri che passano rapidi nella mente e di cui, in sostanza, ci si vergogna  di aver fatto col senno di poi. Questa è una di quelle volte.

Un paio di giorni fa affrontavo a Beirut una conversazione che si rivelava piuttosto ardua sin dal principio. Il mio interlocutore era un ex professore palestinese, di cultura libanese cristiana, comunista, leninista, sostenitore politico di Hezbollah. Questo restando fedeli meramente al modo suo proprio di descrivere se stesso. Lecito. Non diventa lecito se condanni l’altro a trovare le proprie, di categorie.

Ma veniamo al punto: che significa, “resistenza”? “In senso proprio”, mi chiede, “cosa implica l’atto della resistenza?”.

“Reazione (radd), difesa (difaa), armata o non (musallaha walla silmiyye), opposizione (muʻarada) a una fonte di oppressione (zulm) che può partire dall’interno o dall’esterno”, rispondo io.

Mi corregge, dice che è una definizione impropria.  Avrei dovuto aggiungere, anche parlando a livello semanticouniversale – per come la vedeva lui – che resistenza implica necessariamente l’imbracciare le armi. Altrimenti è protesta, manifestazione o semplice forma di ribellione.

Giusto. Dimenticavo: non posso andare di mera descrizione semantica da Treccani considerando la situazione. Mi è necessario “culturalizzare” l’episodio così come la definizione in questione, seppur, mio malgrado, lui ritenga la sua obiettivamente universale.

Per far capire i punti chiave su cui cercavo di far valere le ragioni della mia risposta e della mia resa, mi è necessaria qualche specificazione teorica. Durante la conversazione mi raffiorano alla mente i miei studi di antropologia linguistica. Tento di far valere in primis l’atto locutivo del termine (ovvero il puro contenuto verbale della mia descrizione, credendolo illusoriamente universale).

Dopo le sue insistenze sul fatto che non esiste resistenza che non sia armata, noto che il mio atto perlocutivo – quello che invece diciamo essere l’effetto che una frase provoca sul parlante – fallisce miseramente nella conversazione in analisi.

Gliela do vinta. In tutto ciò mi chiedo quail siano le ragioni dell’impossibilità di trovare un punto comune e perché io sia giunta allo scontro: se i termini che usiamo sono culturali, e non vi è quindi modo di universalizzarli in alcune interazioni, la mera disponibilità ad universalizzare il termine stesso è culturale a sua volta?

Oppure è proprio l’approccio alla realtà stessa e come la si concepisce che son diversi in partenza, e quindi si giungerebbe allo scontro in ogni caso, senza che costituisca necessariamente  una questione terminologica?

Valentin Voloshinov opterebbe per quest’ultima ipotesi, con le sue teorie sull’inscindibilità del binomio lingua-ideologia politica; così come Mikhail Bakhtin con il suo concetto di lingua come prettamente dialogica e sociale. Mi domando tuttora sul ruolo della lingua in questo episodio.

Il buon Alessandro Duranti, antropologo dell’Ucla (University of California di Los Angeles), coi suoi studi sul parlare quotidiano la dice più che giusta, a mio vedere: in alcune culture, come quella samoana, senza successo perlocutivo le parole non produrrebbero alcun significato, senza mezzi termini.

In casi come questo che vado descrivendo, l’intenzione, quella così importante nel mondo islamico ad esempio  – la niyya, totale convinzione e adesione intima all’atto  – cade con tutta l’importanza di cui anche noi popoli latini la investiamo ogniqualvolta vogliamo “far valere le nostre ragioni”.

Torniamo alla nostra conversazione: dunque la resistenza è solo armata. Ma attenzione, all’ex professore non basta, devo arrivare ad ammettere che resistenza è unicamente la Resistenza di Hezbollah contro Israele. Non vi è altra resistenza strictu sensu nella storia umana.

Il ragazzo Sahrawi che siede al mio fianco inizia a muoversi innervosito. Difficile immaginare le ragioni? “Non è una questione di vocabolario”, osserva  l’ex professore, “è così e basta. L’unica resistenza che ci sia mai stata è quella di Hezbollah contro Israele. È infatti un errore intellettuale dell’Occidente considerare resistenza gli eventi di cui state portando esempio”. Il  ragazzo Sahrawi si muove con fare ancora più innervosito.

Questa volta il mio Streben antropologico di immedesimarsi nel suo punto di vista, il quale questa volta deride le modalità e l’importanza della Resistenza partigiana contro il fascismo, va – passatemi il termine – bellamente a farsi benedire.

Forse la comune arabità – o forse perché no, il solo fatto di esser “maschio”? – fa sì che il ragazzo Sahrawi venga graziato con un’altra possibilità di comunicazione dall’ex professore, il quale, probabilmente, non ha smesso di sperare che almeno il mio vicino, a differenza mia, possa abbracciare l’ipse dixit che gli è al cospetto con tanta generosità. L’ex professore ha già rinunciato da tempo, anzi forse sin dal principio, a “trasmettermi” la sua visione ed addirittura a rivolgermi lo sguardo.

Io, ricercatrice occidentale, colonizzatrice senza scampo per nascita, che millanta supporto a valori di resistenza a oppressioni  – e non solo quella palestinese, seppur prima tra tutte –  oso ammettere la resistenza di altri popoli su questa terra. In altre parole, l’incomprensione linguistica su cui ho ampiamente meditato qui sopra genera a sua volta anche una mia indisposizione alla comunicazione.

Mi dirigo a casa indignata, atterrita, disperata, immensamente triste nella mia impotenza di non poter dire quello che penso; poiché questo, in un certo qual modo, era già stato deciso prima di farmi entrare da quella porta.

Ed ecco allora alcuni dei pensieri che trovano risposta in me quest’oggi, con la ferma lucidità del senno di poi: ma allora per chi diavolo “combatto”, intellettualmente, da tempo? Che causa è mai una causa che non riconosce le altre? Che causa è mai quella che è incapace di concepire lotte per libertà, giustizia ed eguaglianza in contesti diversi?

O forse è stato tutto un malinteso, prodotto dall’impossibilità di possedere gli stessi parametri linguistici? E quindi, è la terminologia che talvolta ci condanna a metter piede su un terreno che diventa di scontro?

Prima di dormirci sopra, mi sopraggiunge un pensiero che mi “salva” dal cadere in minimizzazioni su una condizione umana – quella appunto palestinese – che tragicamente esemplifica altre: questa volta, lo sguardo che descriveva Samir Kassir nel suo “L’infelicità araba” – un paralizzante sguardo “che impedisce perfino la fuga… che ridicolizza la tua impotenza e condanna a priori la tua speranza” – sono stata io a viverlo.

Immobile con le mie proprie inquietudini “di fronte alle certezze dell’Altro: le sue certezze su di te”. Per la prima volta in vita mia qualcuno, seppur involontariamente e con modi comunicativi nettamente disdicevoli, mi ha insegnato cosa significa essere nei panni di un palestinese.

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Palestinians fleeing Syria for Lebanon: the eternal refugee.

IRIN piece I contributed to, after visiting the Sabra camp in Beirut, already overcrowded with Palestinians coming from Syria. My part is the one on Lebanon.

Analysis: Palestinian refugees from Syria feel abandoned

Palestinians fleeing yarmuk

5,000 Palestinians flee to Jordan and Lebanon
Destabilization fears
Palestinians cite discrimination
UNRWA lacks resources

RAMTHA/BEIRUT/DUBAI, 29 August 2012 (IRIN) – In Jordan and Lebanon, the UN agency for Palestine refugees (UNRWA) has registered nearly 5,000 Palestinian refugees from the 17-month conflict in Syria. As both countries are already home to large Palestinian refugee populations, the newly arrived have become a political issue – with Palestinians feeling they are treated unfairly.

“It has been quite bad living like a prisoner, especially when you see other people come and go but you are trapped,” said Samir, a Palestinian at a dormitory-style facility known as Cyber City, 90km north of the Jordanian capital Amman.

When Samir arrived in Jordan five months ago, Syrian refugees without a visa could move and work freely within Jordan with the signature of a Jordanian guarantor, while Palestinians, many of whom have family in Jordan, were prohibited from leaving the camp to visit or stay with relatives. This month, the Jordanian government discontinued the sponsorship system for Syrian refugees.

Samir’s wife Hanah could have left the camp because she is Syrian. “Can you imagine such discrimination?” she asked IRIN. “I will not leave them.”

Palestinians said they were not allowed to move more than 30m from the building. The camp is 12km from downtown Ramtha and is not served by public transport.

UNRWA told IRIN only 185 Palestinians without a valid visa – i.e. those who were smuggled over the border, or who had to leave their papers behind – have been sent to Cyber City, while another 770 live outside the camp. Refugees IRIN interviewed at the camp said Palestinians not holding Syrian or Jordanian nationality had been sent to the camp.

Palestinians at Cyber City told IRIN that family members trying to flee had been turned back at the Jordanian border, a phenomenon also noted by Human Rights Watch.

Reacting to the allegations, Samih* Maaytah, minister of state for media affairs and communications, told IRIN: “Each country has the right to protect its sovereignty. At some point, we did not allow some Syrians to enter Jordan via air, for example, because we have the right to check who is coming in. Jordan should not be questioned over its sovereignty rights. Turkey, for example, had recently said it needs to regulate how many Syrians are entering its borders. No one has given a reason for it or questioned it.”

Most of those at the camp are Palestinian Jordanians who had their citizenship withdrawn years ago in a Jordanian attempt to discourage Israeli transfers of Palestinians from the West Bank to Jordan.

“I was born in Jordan, but moved with my family to Syria. In 1995, they withdrew my citizenship from me and my brother. Although it is my country, I cannot move freely inside along with other people,” said Samir, who showed his Jordanian birth certificate to IRIN.

Maaytah told IRIN: “Whether it is Palestinians or not, those who came without Jordanian or Syrian nationalities will be given basic rights but any additional benefits are not Jordan’s responsibility. These people came to Jordan seeking security and Jordan gave it to them.”

But Jordan’s fears might go deeper. While Palestinians are estimated to make up more than half of Jordan’s population, the Hashemite dynasty relies on its non-Palestinian tribal support base for power. Since “Black September” in 1970 when Jordanian and Palestine Liberation Organization forces battled for control over the kingdom, the issue of how many Palestinians reside in the country has become taboo. During the second Gulf war, when scores of Palestinian expat workers fled to Jordan, the country found itself in a similar position as today.

“Jordan has experienced 500,000 Palestinians coming from Kuwait in 1992. It changed the way our society functions. In a country of just three million people, 500,000 refugees [are a lot],” a government employee, who preferred anonymity, told IRIN in March. “As Jordanians we are worried for the interests of our country.”

Lebanon

Similar dynamics are at play in Lebanon, which hosted 455,000 Palestinians before the Syrian crisis.

“The Lebanese have made it clear they don’t want to see more than a certain number of people coming here,” a high-ranking aid official told IRIN on condition of anonymity.

Some 4,000 Palestinians have registered with UNRWA in Lebanon, many of them in the last month. Many more may not have registered because of their “vulnerable” status there, said Roger Davies, acting director of UNRWA affairs in Lebanon.

According to Palestinian-Syrian journalist Nidal Bitari, the problem in receiving Palestinians is rooted in the Lebanese civil war and the long-standing tensions between the Lebanese government and Palestinian factions.

Most of the Palestinians fleeing from Syria to Lebanon have gone to one of the 12 Palestinian refugee camps, but the camps in Beirut are overcrowded slums. With limited opportunities for Palestinians to find jobs and leave, many of these settlements have become breeding grounds for extremism. Fear that the new refugees might be recruited by armed Palestinian fractions such as Fatah al-Islam is influencing government decisions, thinks Bitari.

Forced to pay

Officially both Jordan and Lebanon are keeping their borders open for all refugees from Syria. But unlike Syrians, who can freely enter Lebanon for up to six months, Palestinians receive only a one-week residency permit. Once that expires, they must pay 50,000 LBP (US$33) each month to renew it.

“There is a clear distinction between Palestinians from Syria and Syrians from Syria,” said Davies.

For some of the Palestinians, the fee is hard to afford: “My son arrived on 18 July and is still here [without a permit]. Where do we get the money from?” said Umm al-Khayr, a sick woman in her sixties from Damascus. “Why don’t they just give us six months like the Syrians?”

Corruption is also a problem: “I saw a Palestinian woman at the border, who did not know anyone in Lebanon and she was forced to pay $300 in bribes, $40 for each child,” said Darim, a teenager from Damascus. Palestinians who want to leave Syria still need permission from the Syrian government. While UNRWA said the procedure has been eased, NGO worker Rawan Nassar told IRIN that people have been asked to deposit large sums of money to obtain permission from the Syrian authorities, or have even been forced into providing sexual favours by border officials.

According to Palestinian sources close to Fatah, Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas is expected to visit Lebanon shortly to negotiate better conditions with the government.

Costly, cramped camps

In Lebanon, already poor conditions in the camps are affecting the Palestinians. But even in these camps, rents remain high. Refugees complain that even when they pay $200, the rooms they get are in an awful condition. “In Sabra there is another family of 12 and they are all sleeping in one room without any mattress,” said Abu Ahmad, an old man bearing the hallmarks of the Syrian intelligence’s brutality: broken teeth and bullet wounds on his arms.

Jordan’s Cyber City, visited by IRIN, houses about 400 refugees, both Palestinians and Syrians.

Families are given separate rooms; singles have to share. “The room is too small for a family. I feel awkward walking to the bathroom with so many strange men around. We are nearly 40 people on this floor,” said Hanah.

Refugees who have to share kitchens and bathrooms with 30-40 people complained about unsanitary conditions in the camp.

“It is quite smelly here. Some of the mattresses had bugs. People caught skin infections and head lice,” said Hanah.

Betrayed?

Many Palestinians feel betrayed, and blame the government and aid agencies. While Syrian refugees receive assistance from the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR), Palestinians fall under the mandate of UNRWA, with its smaller relief budget.

“UN agencies turned their backs on us,” said a refugee in Jordan who did not give his name. Refugees in Lebanon had similar stories to tell: “There is a woman in her seventh month of pregnancy who arrived two weeks ago with four kids and so far she hasn’t received anything from UNRWA,” said Umm Ahmad, Darim’s mother.

UNRWA Jordan told IRIN that while funds are limited “we acknowledge all Palestine refugees registered with the agency. Those who live in the agency’s five areas of operations are eligible for its services.”

UNRWA is providing primary health care free of charge, but has only limited additional funds for the new refugees. The extra strain that refugee children might put on UNRWA’s schooling system is of special concern. UNRWA has appealed to donors for an additional $27.4 million for its consolidated regional plan, but so far has only received $4.71million.

“We do not know our future,” said one of the refugees. “People come and take pictures and speak with us, but they all leave at the end.”

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La rivoluzione damascena vista da dentro

Il mio primo lavoro per Limes, una mappatura dei poteri socio-economici, delle divisioni confessionali e dei fattori tribali in gioco nella mobilitazione dei quartieri di Damasco durante la prima fase pacifista della rivoluzione siriana. La seguente è la versione originale completa di tutte le note, mentre su Limes le note (e quindi le fonti) erano state tagliate (per ragioni di spazio) e il titolo mutato in  “La rivoluzione damascena vista da dentro.”

Geografia urbana della rivoluzione damascena in fieri

Di Diego Caserio

Map_Damascus_1958_1-10000

10 mesi di rivoluzione siriana

Paralizzata dalla sua complessità. Si potrebbe descrivere così lo stato raggiunto dalla rivoluzione siriana, a dieci mesi dal 15 marzo 2011, quando il pretesto dell’incarcerazione di un gruppo di ragazzi di Dara’a[1] ha innescato il più importante sollevamento popolare in 41 anni di potere assoluto della famiglia Asad[2]. Un’insurrezione problematicizzata dalle molteplici identità religiose ed etniche, fronteggiata da un regime che ha strumentalizzato le paure delle minoranze al fine di mantenere lo status quo[3].  Bashar al-Asad ha raccolto i frutti del lavoro del padre Hafez, che aveva dedicato una vita ad assicurarsi la fedeltà dell’esercito e delle varie sezioni dell’intelligence, tramite epurazioni mirate[4]. L’attuale Presidente godeva inoltre di una relativa popolarità prima dell’insurrezione[5], in confronto ai “colleghi” nordafricani, ed è tuttora sostenuto da una porzione consistente della popolazione, nonostante la repressione brutale dell’opposizione (oltre 5000 morti dall’inizio delle proteste, secondo le ultime stime dell’ONU[6]).

Simili fattori, uniti al peso geopolitico fondamentale della Siria nella stabilità della regione , alla scarsità di risorse naturali del Paese e al continuo ostracismo russo e cinese nelle votazioni in seno al Consiglio di Sicurezza dell’ONU, hanno finora scoraggiato i sostenitori dell’interventismo NATO[7]. Cionostante, diverse componenti dell’opposizione- in primis  il Consiglio Nazionale Siriano (Al-Majlis al-Wataniyy as-Suriyy – CNS) basato a Istanbul- e alcuni attori internazionali- la Turchia e il Qatar- caldeggiano varie forme di intervento militare[8]. L’ultimo pacchetto di sanzioni votato dall’Unione Europea in varie tranche tra settembre e dicembre 2011, diretto a colpire le esportazioni petrolifere, sta iniziando a far sentire il suo peso sull’economia siriana, anche se si temono ripercussioni sulla qualità della vita dei cittadini[9].

Da parte sua, il Governo Asad ha reagito sostenendo di fronteggiare un’insurrezione armata islamista, foraggiata dai nemici della Siria, seguendo un copione simile a quello della rivolta del 1979-82[10]. Incapace di leggere il contesto mutato, negli ultimi dieci mesi l’establishment ba’thista si è limitato a riforme insignificanti o tardive e non è mai riuscito ad aprire un dialogo significativo con l’opposizione, a causa della sua persistente convinzione di superare la  “crisi” (come viene ufficialmente definita) reprimendola nel sangue[11].  Al contrario, il Governo è riuscito a trasformare la rivolta di Dara’a in un movimento su scala nazionale e le proteste del venerdì in stragi quotidiane. Attualmente, la mobilitazione viene repressa secondo diversi livelli di violenza, a seconda dell’area geografica: la maggioranza dei caduti si concentrano tra le province centrali di Homs e Hama, quella meridionale di Dara’a, quella nord-occidentale di Idlib. Seguono una provincia a intensità medio-alta, quella dei sobborghi di Damasco (Rif Dimashq), e due a intensità media, la provincia orientale di Deir az-Zor (dove l’esercito ha limitato le offensive per non trovarsi costretto ad affrontare anche i clan armati iracheni di al-Anbar, imparentati con quelli siriani) e quella portuale di Latakia (dove gli alawiti lealisti delle montagne sono probabilmente riusciti a tenere la situazione relativamente sotto controllo, dopo i massacri di aprile). Infine le province a bassa intensità, come la capitale, Aleppo (dove è prevalso l’interesse a mantenera la stabilità da parte delle ricche classi di commercianti sunniti e cristiani) e la costiera Tartous (bastione lealista alawita) e quelle con pochissimi caduti, come la provincia settentrionale di Raqqa, attraversata dall’Eufrate (dove sembra essere in vigore un patto tra regime e leader tribali), l’Hasake curdo (dove le manifestazioni sono frequenti, ma l’esercito limita le offensive per non provocare le milizie curde turche e irachene), la meridionale Sweida’ (roccaforte drusa e quindi lealista, come la maggioranza delle minoranze religiose) e Quneitra, avamposto al confine con il Golan[12].

Ad aggravare ulteriormente la situazione, il 29 luglio scorso è emersa una formazione organizzata di disertori, la cui leadership è basata in Turchia, che ha dato vita all’Esercito Siriano Libero (ESL- al-Jaysh al-Suriyy al-Hurr), con l’obiettivo ufficiale di proteggere i manifestanti dalla repressione governativa.  Tuttavia, le offensive contro l’esercito e le forze di sicurezza non si sono fatte attendere, aumentando il rischio a lungo scongiurato di un confronto militare, facilmente degenerabile in conflitto confessionale, visto che la quasi totalità dei disertori sono sunniti[13]. Tuttora permangono dei dubbi sull’indipendenza dell’ESL: i soldati si difendono sostenendo di essere dotati di armamenti leggeri provenienti dall’esercito siriano e dalla shabihah[14], ma c’è chi li accusa di ricevere supporto logistico e militare dalla Francia e dalla Turchia e di nascondere altre realtà più radicali tra le loro fila[15].

Inizialmente riluttante, il Governo siriano si è trovato inoltre costretto ad accettare l’arrivo degli osservatori della Lega Araba al fine di guadagnare tempo[16] , per poi ricorrere al terrore, come sembrano indicare le circostanze e le tempistiche sospette dei recenti attentati di Damasco[17].

La situazione di stallo è evidente anche tra le file dell’opposizione, divisa su come affrontare il regime[18]: rovesciarlo con ogni mezzo possibile, secondo il CNS, la formazione di peso maggiore tra i manifestanti delle aree più colpite dalla repressione, o scongiurare un intervento NATO e aprire un dialogo con Asad, a patto che venga fermato il massacro, come sostiene il Comitato di Coordinamento Nazionale per il Cambiamento Democratico in Siria (Hay’ah al-tansiq al-watani li-qiwa al-taghir al-dimuqrati fi Suria– CCN), raggruppamento di alcuni dissidenti storici con sede a Damasco[19]. Simili divergenze hanno impedito al CNS di essere riconosciuto dalla comunità internazionale come unico rappresentante dell’opposizione siriana[20]; secondo Michel Kilo, uno dei leader del CCN, l’opposizione non necessiterebbe invece di una struttura organizzativa unificata per fronteggiare un sistema a partito unico[21].

Lo spazio urbano di un’insurrezione

La rivoluzione siriana rimane un moto a velocità irregolari, condizionato da fattori comunitari interessi economici e legami tribali. Per questo motivo, delineare lo spazio urbano, in cui interagiscono tali varianti, può favorire la comprensione delle dinamiche in corso. In un simile contesto, i fulcri della moblitazione damascena e i suoi quartieri “silenziosi” divengono una proiezione interessante delle polarità siriane, anche perchè la capitale politica (Damasco), e ancora di più quella economica (Aleppo), non sono state interessate dai tumulti con l’intensità di altre province (muhafazat). Essendo rimasto a Damasco per circa cinque mesi dall’inizio della rivoluzione, ho avuto inoltre modo di interagire con gli abitanti di svariati quartieri.

Città vecchia, cristiani e ceti benestanti

La capitale odierna ha conosciuto il suo principale boom demografico a cavallo tra gli anni ’70 e gli ’80, di modo che molti dei quartieri periferici teatro di proteste, occupano aree un tempo incontaminate come le pendici del Monte Qassiun  a nord-ovest e la fertile piana della Gutha a est: l’allargamento del perimetro urbano era stata una conseguenza dell’urbanizzazione dei ceti rurali, dell’assorbimento dei profughi palestinesi e della necessità di costruire alloggi per l’esercito[22].

Il centro storico, al contrario, è stato preservato nel corso dei secoli e rimane l’emblema silenzioso del controllo esercitato dalle forze di sicurezza sulla capitale. La città vecchia (dimashq al-qadima) ospita da secoli un nucleo di famiglie benestanti cristiane. Qui le manifestazioni sono rare, come nella maggioranza dei quartieri abitati da minoranze religiose, disperse rapidamente e con violenza da gruppi auto-organizzati di lealisti[23], senza bisogno di scomodare forze di sicurezza e nel silenzio dei negozianti. La fedeltà al regime è solida anche in alcune zone più periferiche e popolari abitate dalle minoranze, come la città di Jaramana, situata a sud est rispetto alla provincia damascena e popolata da drusi, cristiani e rifugiati iracheni (molti dei quali caldei)[24]. A Jaramana, di conseguenza, l’identità religiosa influisce più del reddito economico sull’orientamento politico.

Non c’è dubbio che il regime sia riuscito ad assicurarsi il supporto o la neutralità della maggioranza apolitica dei cristiani. La lotta per la sopravvivenza di Asad è stata coscientemente distorta in lotta per la sopravvivenza delle minoranze, al punto che i cristiani che sostengono il ra’is lo fanno con l’ostinazione di chi prevede di dover lasciare la Siria, in caso l’opposizione abbia la meglio. Non si tratta solo di leggere gli eventi secondo la narrativa ufficiale, quella dei terroristi islamici, ma di relativizzare la libertà, l’essenza delle rivendicazioni dell’opposizione pacifista, e svuotarla di ogni significato politico (nella sua accezione di gestione della cosa pubblica). La libertà “privatizzata” di un cristiano lealista è quella di continuare a non interessarsi di politica, purchè venga tutelata la sua libertà di culto. La dimensione comunitaria diventa demiurgo assoluto delle priorità dell’individuo. In nome di questa libertà religiosa, bisogna riportare la Siria indietro di 10 mesi con tutti i mezzi possibili, meglio ancora se violenti.

Questi cristiani sono gli stessi che ogni venerdì occupavano un palco di fronte alla porta nord-orientale della città vecchia, Bab Tuma, e “celebravano” al ritmo di inni nazionalisti i massacri perpetrati contemporaneamente dalle forze di sicurezze in altri quartieri. Esiste poi una parte della comunità difficilmente quantificabile, in quanto silenziosa, che pur non partecipando alle proteste, non condivide la repressione in corso: già il 23 luglio, i vicoli dell’antica madina erano stati tappezzati di volantini contrassegnati da un pesce, richiamo alla simbologia cristiana, su cui veniva espresso lo sdegno per la danza macabra di Bab Tuma[25]. Tuttavia, questa componente silenziosa condivide anche delle preoccupazioni, innanzitutto quelle legate alle testimonianze, difficilmente verificabili,  sulle violenze che i ribelli sunniti di Homs avrebbero commesso nei confronti dei cristiani[26]. In secondo luogo, il disappunto nel constatare come la rivoluzione tunisina e quella egiziana si siano concluse con un successo elettorale degli islamisti, delusione peraltro comune ai musulmani laicisti, ma vissuta con maggiore apprensione da parte delle minoranze cristiane. Infine, un certo distacco nei confronti del CNS, forte del supporto politico dei Fratelli Musulmani, concentrato sulle modalità con cui rovesciare il regime piuttosto che sulle garanzie a tutela delle minoranze e disposto ad appoggiarsi alla NATO, senza considerare il rischio di replicare in Siria la tragedia dei caldei iracheni[27]. Alla luce di queste considerazioni, le posizioni più moderate del CCN sembrano più vicine alle inclinazioni dei cristiani “silenziosi” siriani[28].

A ovest del centro storico, nei quartieri benestanti di Abu Roummaneh, Sha’lan, Al-Malki, costellati di negozi e caffè in stile occidentale, e in quello universitario di Mezzeh, il clima è altrettanto tranquillo. Il denominatore comune degli abitanti della zona è quello economico, interessato alla stabilità politica. Vivono qui molti “rampolli del potere” (awlad as-sultah), gli “aspiranti” Rami Makhluf[29], la nuova classe di imprenditori e intermediari, che hanno ottenuto il monopolio di determinati settori non produttivi (compagnie telefoniche, commercio di automobili e simili), soppiantando la borghesia industriale e commerciale anche a livello di peso politico[30].

Il quartiere universitario di Mezzeh, insieme alle due piazze principali della città moderna, ‘Abbasiyyin e Umawiyyin,  è spesso teatro delle ostentazioni di popolarità del regime,vale a dire folle oceaniche mobilitatesi, più o meno spontaneamente, in supporto del Governo[31]. Nella stessa università di Mezzeh, nonostante i ripetuti scontri tra studenti lealisti e oppositori, le forze di sicurezza hanno mantenuto un rigido controllo e mobilitato le associazioni studentesche ba’thiste all’occorrenza. Del resto, l’egemonia del partito sulle università, unita a quella sull’esercito, era stata una prerogativa fondante dell’apparato di potere costruito da Hafez al-Asad[32].

Università, moschee e Islam politico

Dal momento che tutti gli studenti immatricolati sono facilmente identificabili, le proteste all’interno dei campus universitari sono poi considerate più rischiose di quelle organizzate all’uscita dalle moschee[33]. La capacità di aggregare diverse classi sociali ha mantenuto le moschee al centro del movimento, dovendo inoltre rinunciare alle piazze militarizzate. Malgrado ciò, la stampa occidentale ha frettolosamente tratto le sue conclusioni sulla connotazione fondamentalista dell’utilizzo dei luoghi di culto.

Moschee esemplari, in quanto catalizzatrici di dissidenti, sono state quella di Al-Rifa’i a Kafr Sousah e Shaykh Hassan a Midan, collocate rispettivamente a ovest e a sud della città vecchia, dove convergono manifestanti provenienti da altre zone di Damasco[34].

Midan, in particolare, è stato ininterrottamente il focolare più vicino al cuore della capitale, adiacente a Bab Musalla, vero e proprio centro gravitazionale dell’opposizione, tanto da essere scelto anche per una manifestazione organizzata da scrittori e intellettuali il 13 luglio 2001[35]. Quartiere conservatore, Midan era destinato ad essere un epicentro  rivoluzionario in virtù della sua storia e della provenienza dei suoi abitanti: a Midan predicava Hasan Habannaka, uno dei leader della prima insurrezione islamista contro il Ba’th (1964), e la zona è caratterizzata dalla concentrazione di famiglie provenienti da Dara’a[36]. Habannaka collega Midan alla memoria di Hama, già centro della rivolta del ’64, quando venne bombardata la moschea Sultan, e tuttora una delle città più colpite dalla repressione. La presenza invece di famiglie di Dara’a, storicamente riconducibile alle relazioni commerciali tra mercanti di Damasco e contadini meridionali, ha innescato una reazione immediata all’assedio militare della città dell’Hawran iniziato il 24 aprile scorso[37]. Consapevoli dell’identità del quartiere, molti manifestanti sanno di poter trovare un rifugio sicuro nelle case dei residenti, quando si trovavano a fuggire da squadristi e forze di sicurezza.

La menzione di Habannaka non deve comunque fuorviare nella comprensione del movimento odierno, poichè a Damasco non è un fattore sunnita e islamista ad accomunare le rivendicazioni[38]. Chi protesta scandisce in coro “Dio è il più grande (Allahu Akbar)”, così come lo urlavano sui tetti della Tehran sciita durante la rivoluzione del 1979: è un modo per infondersi coraggio, facendo affidamento su un sistema di valori, quello religioso, condiviso dai ceti popolari. Non si tratta di un manifesto politico islamista, come del resto non lo era nella Tehran del ’79, malgrado la successiva contro-rivoluzione degli ayatollah.  L’evidenza dei fatti conferma come sia impossibile ridurre la rivoluzione siriana a canovaccio dell’Islam politico: il quartiere nord-occidentale di Muhajirin, molto conservatore e sunnita, è rimasto marginale alll’insurrezione. L’unica spiegazione plausibile è che  Il regime degli Asad rimane fondato sulla compartecipazione d’interessi  economici.

Tuttavia, neanche la variante economica rappresenta una costante, poichè Midan ospita una nutrita comunità di agiati commercianti, mentre Kafr Susah è un quartiere moderno a tenore di vita medio-alto, divenuto centro di proteste a seguito del confluire di collettivi provenienti soprattutto da altre zone.

Mezzeh Jabal: alawiti poveri e servizi segreti

Tuttavia, neanche la variante economica rappresenta una costante. Lo si comprende vivendo nel microcosmo alawita di Damasco, la zona montuosa di Mezzeh Jabal, che si inerpica sulle montagne a sud-ovest di Mezzeh, fino alla fitta selva di case popolari di Mezze Jabal 86 (Sitta wa Thamanin). Proliferato di pari passo all’urbanizzazione, l’abusivismo edilizio era già tollerato de facto lungo le pendici del Monte Qassiun[39] negli anni ’80. Sotto questo aspetto, Mezzeh Jabal non fa eccezione e riproduce una geografia del reddito diffusa in tutta la capitale: quella che vuole i ceti popolari concentrati in zone montuose, al di sopra di quartieri più benestanti[40].  Nel caso alawita, ha probabilmente inciso la tendenza a ricercare un ambiente simile ai villaggi montani di provenienza, che per secoli avevano difeso la comunità dalle persecuzioni sunnite[41]. Nel contesto odierno, la montagna offre riparo dalle mobilitazioni in corso nei quartieri a valle e, già ad aprile, era stata disseminata di posti di blocco organizzati dai residenti. Mezze Jabal non è solo un bastione alawita, vi è un’alta concentrazione di famiglie di militari e membri dei servizi segreti. Per lo più si tratta di ranghi bassi, ufficiali dell’ amn al-dawla, che arrotondano i loro stipendi grazie alla corruzione imperante[42]; gli eredi delle povere comunità rurali alawite, che i regimi Ba’th erano riusciti ad attirare in città con la prospettiva di un impiego militare[43]. Ai “colletti blu” dei mukhabarat, la rivoluzione in corso ha offerto poi la possibilità di guadagnare velocemente somme ben più cospicue, arruolandosi nelle shabiha finanziata da uomini d’affari vicino al regime tramite la copertura di onlus siriane[44].

Le famiglie di Mezzeh Jabal sono una conferma di come a difendere il regime non siano solo “i rampolli del potere”, ma chi teme di perdere i propri mezzi di sussistenza e tornare ad essere emarginato nei villaggi d’origine. Detto ciò, esiste senz’altro una parte meno visibile della comunità alawita che, alla stregua di quella cristiana, se potesse scegliere, preferirebbe una riconciliazione tra opposizione e regime sia al protrarsi della repressione che al rovesciamento del Governo. La prima opzione rischia di precipitare il Paese in una guerra civile, mentre della seconda, in una prospettiva comunitaria, si intravedono più rischi che garanzie di miglioramento[45].

Ghetti e fattori tribali

Tutt’altra prospettiva è quella di due quartieri altrettanto poveri nel sud di Damasco, al-Hajar al-Aswad e Qadam, a maggioranza sunnita, dove le proteste sono violente e all’ordine del giorno. Al di là dell’identità confessionale, in queste zone note ai damasceni per la criminalità e lo spaccio di stupefacenti, si è “contro” poichè non si ha nulla da perdere nel cambiamento. Nelle salderie di Qadam sono costretti a lavorare ragazzi che hanno conseguito lauree in informatica, senza poterle mai utilizzare: le nuove generazioni disilluse dalle aspettative accompagnatesi  all’ascesa al potere del “riformista” Bashar[46].  Le dinamiche che hanno innescato le manifestazioni sono completamente spontanee e per lo più svincolate dalle reti dei comitati di coordinamento. Più che la determinazione a rovesciare il regime, ha inciso sul singolo la dimensione collettiva, la paura di isolarsi ed essere arrestati[47]. Altro fattore fondamentale nella radicalizzazione di Qadam e al-Hajar al-Aswad, come nel caso di Midan, sono stati i legami con le tribù (asha’ir) di Dara’a: la tragedia della città dell’Hawran e le successive vittime tra i membri di clan influenti nei due quartieri damasceni hanno escluso da tempo ogni forma di dialogo con il regime[48].

È importante notare come le ramificazioni tribali possano giocare anche un ruolo esattamente opposto nelle tendenze politiche di una comunità, qualora i leader dei clan (shuyukh) vengano cooptati dal regime: le ragioni per cui, ad esempio, Deir az-Zor non è diventata una nuova Homs,vanno attribuite a simili considerazioni. Nella cittadina sulle sponde dell’Eufrate, una delle figure più importanti dell’opposizione è Nawaf al-Bashir, leader del clan Baqara, ha fortemente condizionato il tenore della partecipazione alle proteste, quando è stato “convinto” a fare marcia indietro e sposare la causa dal regime. Oggi a Deir az-Zor è in corso uno scontro generazionale tra giovani manifestanti e leader tribali lealisti, di modo che i clan, da vincoli ossificati, iniziano a diventare varianti di una soggettività politica più complessa.  In una regione cruciale sotto il profilo politico-energetico, come Deir az-Zor, simili sviluppi determineranno il futuro della rivoluzione[49].

Tornando a Qadam, non stupisce il fatto che i manifestanti esibiscano spesso cartelloni, che invocano l’imposizione di una no-fly zone (al-hazr al-jawiyy): la vicinanza alle posizioni del CNS è spesso dettata da legami di clan con le zone del Paese più colpite dalla repressione – “le città disastrate” (al-mudun al-mankuba) nel linguaggio politico dell’opposizione – o dall’appartenenza diretta ai quartieri con il più alto numero di vittime; quest’ultimo il caso di Masakin Barzeh e Qabun, collocati a nord-est della città vecchia, il secondo dei quali oggetto di uno dei rari dispiegamenti dell’esercito all’interno di Damasco[50]. No-fly zone e nessun dialogo sono sicuramente le posizioni dominanti anche nella città di Duma (provincia di Rif Dimashq, nord-est della capitale), martoriata dai raid della Guardia Presidenziale e della Quarta Divisione dell’esercito[51]. Più ci si addentra nei quartieri periferici popolari del Rif Dimashq, più il confronto si fa violento con le forze governative e guadagnano terreno nuove falangi (kata’ib) facenti capo all’ESL.

In nome della Palestina

In linea con la strumentalizzazione delle minoranze, l’apparato Ba’th ha anche sfruttato i suoi legami con alcuni partiti palestinesi perchè cooperassero nella soppressione dei tumulti di al-Hajar al-Aswad, traendone esiti contrastanti[52]: alcuni comitati di coordinamento dell’adiacente campo profughi palestinese di Yarmuk hanno infatti cominciato a prendere contatti con i manifestanti di al’Hajar al-Aswad[53].  I palestinesi, in virtù della loro condizione di rifugiati, si trovano in una situazione peggiore delle rimanenti minoranze, consapevoli di essere a rischio espulsione, qualora si schierassero con l’opposizione siriana. L’intera comunità è riconoscente alla Siria per lo statuto privilegiato di rifugiato di cui gode in confronto agli altri Paesi della regione[54].  Yarmuk è un vero e proprio quartiere di Damasco, disseminato di edifici del tutto competitivi sul mercato immobiliare, con ottimi servizi idrici ed elettrici[55]. Ciononostante, lo statuto giuridico dei palestinesi è merito della Siria pre-ba’thista, in particolare della legge n. 260 emanata nel 1957, e molti palestinesi vicini a Fatah non hanno dimenticato i contrasti tra Hafez al-Asad e Arafat, nonchè il ruolo della Siria nel supportare diverse milizie contro i palestinesi durante la guerra civile libanese[56].

Nel mantenere i palestinesi ai margini della mobilitazione popolare ha certamente inciso la neutralità di Hamas, che ha preferito iniziare a trasferirsi in Giordania già da maggio, sollecitato da un regime alquanto irritato per la scarsa dimostrazione di fedeltà[57]. D’altra parte, la stessa ANP ha mantenuto un profilo basso rispetto agli eventi siriani e anche alcuni simpatizzanti di Fatah in Siria non esitano a paragonare lo scarso impegno di Abu Mazen a quello degli altri autocrati della regione[58]. Un ulteriore deterrente contro la partecipazione dei palestinesi all’ “intifada” siriana, è stato fornito dal collaborazionismo della maggioranza dei partiti palestinesi nel monitorare gli abitanti del campo per conto delle autorità siriane.

Questa serie di fattori ha garantito una scarsa mobilitazione nei campi, all’interno dei quali i partiti palestinesi hanno imposto il silenzio[59], ma non ha impedito che i più giovani prendessero contatti con i comitati rivoluzionari siriani su base individuale e operassero al di fuori del loro quartiere. Gli episodi scatenanti sono stati la commemorazione della Nakba[60] il 15 maggio, quella della Naksa[61] il 5 giugno. Nella prima occasione, l’iniziativa originale promossa dai comitati giovanili di Yarmuk, quella di varcare il confine in massa scatenando l’intifada apartitica del diritto al ritorno dei rifugiati, è stata boicottata e trasformata in una parata dei partiti palestinesi lealisti, intenzionati a “spendere” alcune vite per lanciare un messaggio chiaro a Israele: “se cade Asad, il confine diviene ingestibile”[62]. Tre palestinesi sono stati così uccisi al confine dai soldati israeliani. Il 5 giugno il piano è stato replicato, le fazioni palestinesi filo-siriane, in coordinazione con i servizi segreti, hanno trascinato al confine degli altri abitanti del campo, nonostante l’opposizione dei collettivi giovanili. Il giorno successivo, violenti scontri tra le famiglie dei caduti e i seguaci di Ahmad Jibril (Fronte per la Liberazione della Palestina- Commando Generale) sono culminati nell’incendio della sezione del suo partito a Yarmuk[63].

Ciononostante, neanche il  bombardamento del campo profughi palestinese di al-Raml a Latakia da parte dell’esercito siriano il 15 agosto scorso è riuscito a innescare una partecipazione di massa alle proteste[64]. Oltre ai fattori esposti precedentemente,  i rapporti dei comitati di coordinamento palestinesi con quelli siriani e il CNS non sono stati dei migliori: in dieci mesi di proteste nessun venerdì è stato “dedicato” alla causa palestinese, nonostante le pressioni degli attivisti di Yarmuk, nè sono emerse garanzie rassicuranti da parte del consiglio guidato da Burhan Ghaliun[65]. In generale, la percezione di alcuni leader del coordinamento di Yarmuk è stata quella di un’opposizione siriana troppo intenta a contendersi le cariche future per occuparsi della causa palestinese.

Conclusioni:

Il quadro delineato risulta complesso e una lettura degli eventi deve tenere conto dell’insieme delle varianti economiche, comunitarie e tribali, senza scindere le une dalle altre e cadere in determinismi riduttivi. A Damasco, scanno del potere Ba’th e capolinea necessario della rivoluzione, non tutti i ceti popolari si ribellano, nè tantomeno la totalità dei sunniti- islamisti e non- o tutti gli appartenenti a determinati clan. Ed è solo comprendendo l’intersecarsi dei diversi fattori, che la rivoluzione può ambire a estendere il suo raggio d’azione in alcuni quartieri rimasti immuni. A questo scopo, diviene necessario avvicinare classi dirigenti e borghesia commerciale alla causa rivoluzionaria e “spezzare” una delle regolarità riscontrate, l’assenza di mobilitazioni nelle zone più benestanti. Al di là del rovesciamento del regime, la Siria avrà infatti bisogno di imprenditori e commercianti che la sostengano nella ripresa; a tal fine, la crisi economica e le sanzioni dovrebbero risultare determinanti nell’allontanare i ceti medio-alti dal regime. Risulta invece più difficile intervenire sul secondo motivo ricorrente, quello comunitario, soprattutto in relazione al distacco mantenuto dalle minoranze religiose: un ruolo fondamentale avrebbe potuto essere svolto da realtà come il CCN, aperto alla possibilità di un dialogo con il regime, ma ormai la quantità di sangue versato ha reso inverosimile ogni forma di negoziato. Occorrono garanzie concrete per tranquillizzare le minoranze, unite a un aumento della loro presenza negli apparati rappresentativi ed eventualmente militari dell’opposizione. L’altra arma a disposizione degli insorti è la rete di legami tribali che unisce famiglie di aree geografiche disparate: controllando alcuni clan strategici, è possibile sottrarre al controllo dello Stato quartieri e città intere. D’altra parte, l’attivismo politico delle nuove generazioni fornisce segnali ben più incoraggianti verso un’autonomia decisionale, svincolata da condizionamenti tribali e confessionali.

Guadagnare alla causa le classi dirigenti, fornire garanzie alle minoranze e sfruttare le alleanze tribali permetterebbe di rendere più omogeneo il supporto  alla causa rivoluzionaria, limitando i rischi di una guerra civile. Putroppo, si tratta di una risoluzione a medio-lungo termine, mentre i ritmi serrati della repressione e la conseguente emergenza umanitaria lasciano ben poco tempo a disposizione.


[1] Centro agricolo e tribale, capoluogo dell’omonima provincia (muhafaza) della regione meridionale dell’Hawran, confinante con la Giordania. I ragazzi in questione sono stati arrestati per aver realizzato dei graffiti anti-governativi. Il rifiuto di scarcerarli e le torture a cui sarebbero stati sottoposti hanno dato inizio alle proteste.

[2]  Hafez al-Asad (1970-2000) Bashar al-Asad (2000- in carica).

[3] A differenza, ad esempio, della composizione arabo-(berbera)-musulmana pressochè “monolitica” della Tunisia o della Libia, la Siria è un mosaico siriano di cristiani, musulmani sunniti, sciiti alawiti, sciiti duodecimani, sciiti ismailiti e drusi, reso ulteriormente complesso dalle numerose minoranze etniche (curdi, turcomanni, armeni, assiri) e dalla presenza di circa 500.000 rifugiati palestinesi e un milione e mezzo di rifugiati iracheni.

La strumentalizzazione dei timori delle minoranze è stata evidente sin dall’inizio delle proteste, palesandosi in un’intensa propaganda mediatica: sui manifesti che tappezzavano Damasco era scritto “No al conflitto settario, sì alle riforme guidate dal Presidente Bashar al-Asad (la lil-fitna, na’am lil-aslah yaquduha al-ra’is Bashar al-Asad)”, al cittadino siriano veniva imposta una scelta obbligata tra conflitto confessionale e stabilità, nella consapevolezza che le minoranze avrebbero necessariamente optato per la seconda. Per quanto riguarda inoltre la mia esperienza personale, già a fine Aprile ho raccolto testimonianze di omicidi brutali perpetrati dal regime su base confessionale a Dara’a: “People VS the Regime” di Nates Recoias (pseudonimo), New Internationalist, 27 Maggio 2011, http://www.newint.org/features/web-exclusive/2011/05/27/syria-siege-daraa/ .

[4]  Situazione molto diversa rispetto all’esercito di mercenari di cui disponeva Qaddhafi in Libia e allo sfaldamento dei legami tra Hosni Mubarak e l’apparato militare egiziano. Alla guida dell’ Esercito Siriano Libero (ESL- al-Jaysh al-Suriyy al-Hurr) dell’opposizione troviamo infatti un colonnello, Ri’ad al-As’ad, poichè i vertici dell’esercito rimangono tuttora fedeli al regime, rendendo improbabile uno scenario libico, in cui le truppe dell’opposizione presero il controllo di una porzione significativa del Paese, tanto quanto una transizione guidata dall’esercito, sulle tracce di quella egiziana. C’è chi sostiene che sia la cerchia fidata di militari intorno a Bashar ad impedirgli di dimettersi, sfruttando i rapporti di forza in loro favore: “The Cult: The Twisted, Terrifying Last Days of Asad’s Syria” di Theo Padnos, The New Republic, 4 ottobre 2011, http://goo.gl/GTaIk 

[5]  Popolarità originariamente dovuta all’età relativamente giovane, al periodo trascorso al potere di “solo” 11 anni, alle promesse di riforme (pressochè irrealizzate) e alla fama di oftalmico laureato in Inghilterra prestato alla politica, dopo la morte del fratello Basil destinato alla successione.

[6] 6427 vittime secondo il Centro di Documentazione degli Abusi in Siria (Markaz Tawthiq al-Intihakati Fi Suriyya), uno dei siti più accurati, (documentato con foto, video e generalità dei deceduti) gestito dagli attivisti dei Comitati Locali di Coordinamento (Lajan al-Tansiq al-Mahalliyah): http://www.vdc-sy.org/ (visitato il 19 gennaio 2012), un altro sito utile da consultare è il seguente: http://www.syrianshuhada.com/

[7] La Siria confina a nord con la Turchia, a est con l’Iraq, a sud con la Giordania, a sud-ovest con le alture occupate del Golan e Israele e a ovest con il Libano. Nell’eventualità di un intervento NATO, sarebbe in grado di destabilizzare l’intera regione, in virtù dell’alleanza costruita con l’Iran e il partito-milizia libanese di Hizbullah sin dagli anni ’80 e dei suoi legami con diversi gruppi paramilitari iracheni (tra i quali l’Esercito del Mahdi (Jaysh al-Mahdi) sciita di Moqtada al-Sadr, già accusato dall’ESL di partecipare attivamente alla repressione siriana (“Siria: Moqtada Sadr a Lezione da Veltroni” di Diego Caserio (pseudonimo), SiriaLibano, 22 novembre 2011, http://www.sirialibano.com/siria-2/siria-moqtada-sadr-a-lezione-da-veltroni.html ). Il confine con Israele è inoltre motivo di preoccupazione per i vertici militari di Tel Aviv, i quali preferirebbero la calma piatta garantita dagli Asad  sul fronte del Golan dalla guerra del ’73, nonostante l’assenza di un accordo di pace tra i due Paesi. A questo proposito, si vedano le dichiarazioni di Amos Gilad, Capo del Dipartimento della Sicurezza Diplomatica del Ministero della Difesa Israeliano, che ha affermato di temere l’ascesa di un “impero islamico” in caso crolli il regime siriano. (“Syria risks full scale civil war”, Daily Star, 18 novembre 2011, http://goo.gl/SbXO6 ). Gli unici giacimenti petroliferi di rilievo si concentrano nella provincia orientale di Deir az-Zor.

[8] Burhan Ghaliun, Presidente del Consiglio Nazionale Siriano (Al-Majlis al-Watani as-Suri) basato a Istanbul, ha lanciato un appello all’imposizione di una no-fly zone parziale giovedì 5 gennaio, : (http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-middle-east-16431199). La Turchia non esclude la creazione di una zona cuscinetto che includerebbe un’area compresa tra le province siriane di Aleppo, Idlib, Hama e Latakia, lungo il confine con la provincia turca di Hatay (“Ankara Weighs Options in Syria Stalemate” di Noah Blaser, Today’s Zaman, 6 novembre 2011,  http://www.todayszaman.com/news-262013-ankara-weighs-options-in-syria-stalemate.html ). L’idea di Ghaliun e della Turchia è di fornire riparo ai disertori dell’ESL e alle famiglie siriane in fuga. Venerdì 13 gennaio, l’emiro del Qatar ha invece proposto di inviare direttamente delle truppe a difendere i manifestanti, suscitando la reazione di una parte dell’opinione pubblica araba, che lo accusa di deviare il corso della “primavera araba” e foraggiare il fondamentalismo islamico nella regione. (” ‘ataaduha al-‘askariyy ‘ila Suriyya wa maqarr al-jami’ah ‘ila doha? Tanaami nufudh qatar yuz’iju al-‘aalam al-‘arabyyi wa yukhaddimu al-Islam al-radikaliyy [le sue armi (del Qatar) verso la Siria e la sede della Lega Araba trasferita a Doha? L’espansione dell’influenza del Qatar preoccupano il mondo arabo e servono gli interessi dell’Islam radicale]” di Luana Khury, Elaph, 13 gennaio 2012,  http://www.elaph.com/Web/news/2012/1/708974.html?entry=newsmostvisitedtoday) .

[9] Il 95% delle esportazioni del greggio siriano erano dirette in Europa. Il vecchio continente, prima della sommossa popolare, rappresentava il primo partner commerciale della Siria, assorbendo circa il 22% delle sue esportazioni, con l’Italia e la Francia ai primi posti. Di fatti l’Italia è riuscita a posticipare fino al 15 novembre l’applicazione delle sanzioni decise dall’UE a settembre, allo scopo di tutelare le proprie aziende. (http://ec.europa.eu/trade/creating-opportunities/bilateral-relations/countries/syria/ ). Si prevede una contrazione del 2% dell’economia siriana nel 2012. (“Inside Syria: The Cost of Syrian Crackdown “, trasmesso su Al-Jazeera English il 15 gennaio 2012, http://www.aljazeera.com/programmes/insidesyria/2012/01/2012115721352136.html. D’altra parte Uno dei massimi esperti di Siria, il prof. Joshua Landis, aveva messo in guardia dall’inasprimento delle sanzioni, tracciando un parallelo con le conseguenze umanitarie e la futilità politica delle sanzioni imposte contro l’Iraq e Gaza (“Will Sanctions Bring Down the Syrian Regime?”, Syria Comment, 15 novembre 2011, http://www.joshualandis.com/blog/?p=12677&cp=4. A metà dicembre sono stato informato da diversi attivisti dell’emergenza alimentare che sta già colpendo alcuni dei quartieri più poveri di Damasco, come al-Hajar al-Aswad. D’altra parte, il Governo siriano è riuscito finora a tenere bassi i prezzi dei beni di prima necessità, cosìcchè la crisi si è fatta sentire maggiormente sui commercianti (“Analysis: Signs of a Faltering Economy in Syria”, IRIN News, 7 ottobre 2011, http://www.irinnews.org/report.aspx?reportid=94077) e meno sui ceti rurali (testimonianze provenienti da diversi villaggi alawiti nei pressi di Hama e Latakia).

[10] Nel 1979 32 cadetti alawiti della Scuola di Artiglieria di Aleppo vengono uccisi da un commando di fondamentalisti sunniti:in un contesto di crescente divario economico tra la cerchia di Asad e il resto della popolazione, scoppia un’insurrezione armata guidata dai Fratelli Musulmani. Il regime reagisce con il pugno di ferro e la repressione culmina nel massacro di Hama del 1982. All’indomani della strage, Hafez al-Asad accusa fondatamente l’Iraq, la Giordania e i falangisti libanesi di aver supportato i fondamentalisti siriani. Per un resoconto degli eventi, seppur edulcorato dalla stima che nutriva per il ra’is siriano, si veda Seale, Patrick, “Asad: The Struggle for the Middle East”, Londra, The University of California Press, 1995 (edited version),  pp. 317-38.

[11] Insignificanti come l’abolizione dello Stato d’Emergenza (Haalah al-Tawari’), in vigore dal primo colpo di stato Ba’thista del 1963, sostituito il  7 aprile 2011 con una legge anti-terrorismo, che ha continuato ad impedire l’organizzazione di manifestazioni pacifiche. Tardive come la concessione della nazionalità siriana a quei curdi che ne erano stati privati da un censo condotto 49 anni prima (1962). O come l’annuncio dell’undicesimo congresso del Partito Ba’th, in programma la prima settimana di febbraio, nel quale si dovrebbe annunciare la fine del sistema a partito unico (“Siria: Baath preannuncia fine del suo monopolio” di Lorenzo Trombetta, SiriaLibano, 3 gennaio 2012, http://www.sirialibano.com/short-news/siria-baath-preannuncia-fine-del-suo-monopolio.html ). Alla Conferenza di Salvezza Nazionale (al-mu’tamar al-inqadh al-.watani) indetta dal Governo il 10 luglio 2011 non aveva infatti partecipato nessuno degli esponenti dell’opposizione, adducendo come motivazione principale il continuo ricorso alla violenza nei confronti dei manifestanti. Il Presidente Asad, nei pochi discorsi tenuti dal 15 marzo a oggi, non ha mai ammesso le violenze perpetrate da forze armate e servizi segreti.

[12] I dati provengono dal Centro di Documentazione degli Abusi in Siria menzionato sopra e sono i seguenti, aggiornati al 21 gennaio 2012 e comprendenti sia civili che militari: Homs (2214 caduti) Hama (933) Idlib (814) Dara’a (788)  Rif Dimashq (524) Latakia (293) Deir az-Zor (243) Tartous (150)  Damasco (140) Aleppo (125) Hasake (60) Sweida’ (36) Raqqa (28) e Quneitra (8).

[13] Il 16 novembre scorso l’ESL ha attaccato una base dell’intelligence dell’aeronautica ad Harasta (Rif Dimashq). Per quanto riguarda le tensioni confessionali, esistono già resoconti provenienti da alcuni villaggi alawiti vicino a Hama riguardo a come i più lealisti spingano i propri figli ad arruolarsi per combattere contro “i fondamentalisti sunniti” dell’ESL.

[14] Milizie private di lealisti pagate meglio degli ufficiali delle forze di sicurezza.

[15]  Il seguente articolo del quotidiano della sinistra libanese As-Safir cita un articolo scritto da Georges Malbrunot su Le Figaro riguardo al supporto logistico fornito dalla Francia all’ESL attraverso il Libano: “Hal tad’am faransa munshaqqin suriyyin… ‘abr Lubnan? [La Francia supporta i disertori siriani attraverso il Libano?]”, As-Safir, 29 novembre 2011, http://assafir.com/Article.aspx?EditionID=2014&ChannelID=47735&ArticleID=2863. Qui invece si parla delle relazioni tra ESL e Turchia:”Qa’id al-jaysh al-suriyy al-hurr yad’u ‘ila taslih al-mu’aradah [Il comandante dell’ESL lancia appello per armare l’opposizione]” di Lamis Farhat, Elaph, 2 novembre 2011,  http://www.elaph.com/Web/news/2011/11/693331.html. Quest’ultimo, pubblicato invece sul quotidiano panarabo di proprietà saudita As-Sharq al-Awsat, riporta le affermazioni dei disertori, che sostengono di disporre solamente delle armi vendute loro “dalla shabiha del regime” e menzionano drusi e alawiti desiderosi di unirsi alle file dell’ESL: “Qiyadi fi jaysh al-hurr li Sharq al-Awsat: Shabiha al-nizam yabi’unana aslihatahum bi-‘as’ar murtafa’a [Leader dell’Esercito Libero intervistato da Sharq al-Awsat: La shabiha del regime ci vende le armi a prezzi rialzati]” di Karoline ‘Akkum, As-Sharq al-Awsat, 10 gennaio 2012,  http://aawsat.com/details.asp?section=4&issueno=12096&article=658254&feature. Il sospetto che invece l’ESL funga da copertura a beneficio di altri gruppi islamisti radicali è un’idea diffusa nei villaggi alawiti nelle vicinanze di Latakia.

[16] Come è emerso dalle recenti dichiarazioni di Anwar Malek, osservatore algerino facente parte della delegazione della Lega Araba inviata in Siria il 22 dicembre 2011.

[17] Il primo attentato è avvenuto il 24 dicembre 2011, due giorni dopo l’arrivo della Lega Araba, quasi a coronamento della tesi sostenuta dal regime fino a quel momento di fronteggiare dei gruppi terroristici. Il luogo colpito è stata una sede dei servizi segreti collocata a Kafr Souseh (Damasco), uno dei luoghi più sicuri della capitale, difficilmente oggetto di un attacco da parte di un opposizione ancora debole militarmente o di una poco credibile cellula di Al-Qa’ida senza alcun precedente di rilevo in Siria. La responsabilità è stata attribuita ad Al-Qa’ida molto frettolosamente, a solo un’ora dall’esplosione. Nessuna componente dell’opposizione ha rivendicato l’attentato nè tantomeno uno dei tanti gruppi al-qa’idisti esistenti. Il secondo attentato è avvenuto nel quartiere damasceno di Midan il 6 gennaio 2012. Anche in questa circostanza vi sono diversi elementi quantomeno sospetti, oltre alla persistente contemporaneità con la missione della Lega Araba, che ha dimostrato di essere facilmente influenzabile da Damasco. Per maggiori dettagli rimando al seguente articolo e ad alcuni interessanti commenti lasciati dai lettori: “Damasco: Nemici della Siria Colpiscono Ancora ” di Lorenzo Trombetta, SiriaLibano, 7 gennaio 2011, http://www.sirialibano.com/siria-2/damasco-nemici-della-siria-colpiscono-ancora.html.

[18]Un quadro esauriente delle personalità e degli schieramenti dell’opposizione viene fornito dal mensile siriano in lingua inglese Siria Today, anche se, trattandosi di una pubblicazione siriana, vi vengono inclusi personaggi filo-governativi come Mohammad Habash, che solo di recente si sono “riciclati” come fautori del dialogo: “Anatomy of an opposition” di Mohammad ‘Atef Fares, Syria Today, dicembre 2011,  http://syria-today.com/index.php/politics/17464-anatomy-of-an-opposition .

[19] Le due formazioni avevano raggiunto un accordo a fine dicembre 2011, escludendo ogni forma di intervento militare occidentale e puntualizzando come l’intervento di forze armate arabe non costituirebbe un “interferenza straniera” (tadakhkhul ajnabi). Uno dei principali esponenti del CCN, Haitham al-Mana’a, ha spiegato in un intervista al quotidiano libanese filo-siriano Al-Akhbar che per “intervento arabo” (tadakhkhul ‘arabi) si intende l’invio di un contingente della Lega Araba (“Muqabalah: Haitham Mana’a [intervista a Haitham Manaa]” di Sirin Asir, Al-Akhbar, 6 gennaio 2012, http://www.al-akhbar.com/node/29042,).  Al di là della proposta, senza alcun precedente storico a supportarne la validità, l’accordo è saltato già il 3 gennaio, a causa della riluttanza del CNS a escludere un intervento occidentale (“Syria opposition group fails to reach accord” di Borzou Daragahi, Financial Times, 4 gennaio 2012,  http://www.ft.com/intl/cms/s/0/f0d2797e-36ee-11e1-96bf-00144feabdc0.html#axzz1j5QkttK)

[20] Si veda una delle domande rivolte a Ghaliun in questa intervista di Jay Solomon e Nour Malas per il Wall Street Journal del 2 dicembre 2011: “Stop the killing machine”, http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052970203833104577071960384240668.html.

[21] Questa una delle risposte datemi da Kilo quando lo intervistai a fine agosto a Damasco (“La rivolta pacifica in Siria non durerà ancora a lungo” di Sean T. Serioca (pseudonimo), Il Riformista, Roma, 30 settembre 2011)

[22] Seale, p. 443.

[23]  I cosiddetti “Minhibbak (Ci piaci)”, in riferimento alle magliette raffiguranti il volto di Bashar al-Asad e la suddetta scritta, che indossano durante i cortei filo-governativi.

[24] Il seguente articolo riportato su un sito dedicato alla città di Jaramana è utile a comprenderne l’orientamento politico: “Jaramana tushayyi’u shahidha al-thani…Basel Samer Fahd [Jaramana celebra il funerale del suo secondo martire…Basel Samer Fahd]”,  http://www.jaramana.com/archive/jaramana-news/550-jaramananews.html, Vi è compreso un elogio dei caduti dell’esercito e delle forze di sicurezza.

[25]Intifada al-manshurat al-dimashqiyya [“The rise of the Damascene stickers” nella versione tradotta in inglese]” di Nadia Hanna, Ar-Ra’i (sito gestito dal Partito Democratico del Popolo Siriano, fino al 2005 noto come il Partito Comunista di Riyad al-Turk), 23 Luglio 2011, http://www.arraee.com/portal/jornalartical/31922.html .

[26] “Syria: Violence, sectarianism stalk Homs”, IRIN News, 22 Dicembre 2011, http://www.irinnews.org/report.aspx?reportid=94529. Conosco personalmente il giornalista, rimasto anonimo, che ha raccolto la testimonianza di Homs menzionata nell’articolo, relativa ai rapimenti di civili cristiani. D’altra parte, nel testo integrale dell’intervista in mio possesso, il testimone sostiene di aver appreso solo dai media dei sequestri di persona compiuti dalle forze governative (“pour dire la vérité, et être objectif ces deux derniers mois, je n’ai pas entendu des proches disparus par les forces du régime, je suis comme vous, j’entends cela par les médias“), il che alimenta qualche dubbio sulla sua obiettività. Simili resoconti circolano all’interno della comunità cristiana damascena, fomentandone le paure, tuttavia, non sono riuscito a recarmi a Homs per verificarne la veridicità.

[27] Del resto, l’assenza di garanzie (damanat) nei confronti delle minoranze è stata una delle ragioni che ha imposto un certo distacco dei partiti curdi dal CNS (si veda l’articolo di Kamal Sheikho, pubblicato in questo stesso capitolo), così come rimane uno dei motivi della scarsa partecipazione dei palestinesi all’insurrezione (argomento trattato qui di seguito, in relazione al campo profughi di Yarmuk).

[28] Le considerazioni espresse sui cristiani lealisti e sulla componente silenziosa della comunità sono basate su testimonianze dirette provenienti dalla comunità damascena.

[29] Cugino di Bashar al-Asad, proprietario di una delle due compagnie telefoniche del Paese (Syriatel), nonchè probabilmente l’uomo d’affari più potente in Siria.

[30] Ismail, Salwa, “Changing Social Structures, Shifting Alliances and Authoritarianism in Syria” in Demystifying Syria, ed. by Fred H. Lawson, Saqi-London Middle East Institute, Londra, 2009, pp.17-8.

[31] Benchè molti cittadini vi si rechino di propria spontanea volontà, l’opposizione sostiene che i siriani rischino di perdere il lavoro, qualora non partecipino ai cortei filo-governativi (masirat). Di sicuro, in occasione delle masirat, le scuole e gli uffici pubblici vengono chiusi per facilitare la mobilitazione.

[32] Seale, p. 176.

[33]  Testimonianza raccolta da un attivista di Homs.

[34] Conosco personalmente manifestanti del sobborgo nord-occidentale di Dummar, del quartiere di Mezzeh e del campo profughi palestinese meridionale di Yarmuk, che si recavano regolarmente a Midan per i venerdì di protesta.

[35]“Midan Damascus Rally for Democracy in Syria – July 13 -Writers challenge Assad Tyranny”, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AyeLOgR-jiw .

[36] Su Habannaka si veda Pierret, Thomas,” Sunni Clergy Politics in the Cities of Ba’thi Syria” in Demystifying Syria, p. 73. Secondo Patrick Seale, l’insurrezione era però espressione delle componenti più reazionarie della società siriana, cioè i proprietari terrieri di Hama danneggiati dall’ascesa del Ba’th (Seale, pp. 93-4). Maggiori informazioni sulla storia di Midan sono disponibili in arabo su Marefa, enciclopedia online regolata da attenti criteri di accuratezza: http://goo.gl/WfVoa

[37] “Iniziato” e forse mai concluso: ancora ad agosto Mohammad ‘Ammar, residente di Dara’a e autore di uno degli articoli presenti, sosteneva che la città rimanesse sotto assedio militare, mentre secondo i media siriani le operazioni militari si sarebbero concluse a inizio maggio.

[38] È vero che in alcuni contesti più popolari sussiste una certa influenza dei canali televisivi saudite e una conseguente associazione del regime al mondo sciita, tuttavia, gli slogan delle manifestazioni e la natura dei comitati di coordinamento delle proteste non hanno nulla a che vedere con l’Islam politico. Sulla base della mia esperienza, condivido pertanto le osservazioni dell’articolo di Mohammad ‘Ammar: l’Islam più diffuso tra i manifestanti è quello intrinseco ai ceti popolari, senza alcuna connotazione politica. La possibilità che dei partiti islamisti vincano le elezioni in una Siria post-rivoluzionaria è legata al carattere conservatore delle classi più povere e non al prevalere di un’identità islamista nell’opposizione.

[39] Seale, Patrick, “Asad: The struggle for the Middle East”, p. 443.

[40] È il caso di Muhajirin e del quartiere adiacente Rukneddin, entrambi sovrastati da aree più popolari che si inerpicano sulla montagna.

[41] Una testimonianza che ho raccolto in un villaggio alawita nei dintorni di Latakia mi ha confermato il retaggio delle persecuzioni , al punto da spingere a procurarsi delle armi, prevedendo di essere nuovamente costretti a difendere i villaggi montani. Il think tank International Crisis Group (ICGroup) mette in guardia dalle possibili rappresaglie di cui potrebbero essere oggetto I villaggi alawiti circostanti Hama, che hanno avuto un ruolo attivo nella repressione. (“Uncharted Waters: Thinking through Syrian dynamics”, Policy Briefing ICG, 24 Novembre 2011, p.3).

[42]  Una delle sezioni meno prestigiose dei servizi di sicurezza, dipendente dal Ministero dell’Interno, alla quale hanno facile accesso gli alawiti più poveri. Le élites cercano invece di entrare nelle due sezioni alle dipendenze del Ministero della Difesa, l’intelligence militare (shu’bat al-mukhabarat al-‘askariyyah) e quella aeronautica (idarat al-mukhabarat al-jawiyyah). (Testimonianza di un abitante di Damasco, originario di Salhab, villaggio alawita nei dintorni di Hama). Per una distinzione particolareggiata delle varie sezioni e di chi le presiede attualmente si consulti l’appendice del seguente rapporto di Human Rights Watch, datato 15 dicembre 2011: http://www.hrw.org/embargo/node/103558?signature=217849dca11bf3432ca815722ea29839&suid=6

[43]  Seale, p. 39

[44] Tra questi il primo indiziato è senz’altro Rami Makhluf, il quale, Il 16 Giugno ha affermato di abbandonare gli affari per darsi alla beneficienza (“Reviled tycoon, Asad’s cousin resigns in Syria” di Anthony Shadid, New York Times, 16 Giugno 2011, http://www.nytimes.com/2011/06/17/world/middleeast/17syria.html). Per comprendere a quale genere di “beneficienza” faccia riferimento, basti ricordare che a mezze jabal 86 esiste una sede di una onlus di Latakia (jam’iyya al-bustan al-khayriyya: http://al-bostan.net/), accusata da alcuni attivisti residenti nello stesso quartiere di essere un centro di reclutamento della shabiha. A sostegno delle accuse, alcuni lealisti sono stati ripresi in un corteo filo-governativo a Latakia, mentre indossano delle magliette con il logo dell’associazione no-profit ( “Shabiha al-Ladhaqia yartaduna ziyy jam’iyya al-bustan al-khairiyya [La shabiha di Latakia indossa la maglietta della onlus Al-Bustan]”, 27 Ottobre 2011, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=55PmpKm6fPc). L’associazione benefica è inoltre compresa tra le preferenze (“likes”) di un gruppo facebook creato da alcuni abitanti di Mezzeh Jabal 86 (“Mezze Jabal 86 News”: https://www.facebook.com/mazzi.jabal?sk=info ), decisamente esplicito circa il suo supporto per le shabiha.

[45] Testimonianza proveniente da un villaggio alawita nelle vicinanze di Latakia.

[46]  C’è chi ha attribuito il fallimento a una liberalizzazione economica mal riuscita, annunciata nel X Congresso del Partito Ba’th del 2005,  ma rimasta paralizzata dalle lobby collegate all’economia statalista: Haddad, Bassam, “Enduring Legacies: The Politics of Private Sector Development in Syria” in Demystifying Syria,  pp. 48-9.

[47] Testimonianze raccolte in una salderia di Qadam nel luglio del 2011.

[48] In merito alle dinamiche tribali interne ad Al-Hajar al-Aswad, si veda: “Inside the Syrian suburb of protest” di Philip Sand, The National, 29 Aprile 2011, http://www.thenational.ae/news/world/inside-the-syrian-suburb-of-protest.

[49] Ciononostante, i legami tribali conservano un peso notevole, se un esponente dell’opposizione di Deir az-Zor parla di presenza in strada diminuita da 20.000 a 5.000 persone a seguito dell’inversione di tendenza di Bashir. (“Oil, Food and Protests in Syria’s Restive East” di Phil Sands, The National, 17 gennaio 2012, http://goo.gl/Q4PBl )

[50] Normalmente, le forze armate e l’artiglieria pesante sono una prerogativa dei sobborghi, le città del Rif Dimashq (Duma, Harasta, Darayya, Mo’adamiyyeh, etc…). Per evitare di allarmare i lealisti dei quartieri centrali, si preferisce utilizzare agenti delle forze di sicurezza spesso in borghese. Nel caso di Qabun ha decisamente pesato il fatto che fosse una delle zone più attive vicino al centro della capitale, forte di un coordinamento limitato alla cerchia ristretta degli abitanti (con tanto di copricapi identificativi distribuiti tra la popolazione) e di un attento controllo delle vie d’accesso agli edifici e alle moschee.

[51]  Già a luglio, la repressione brutale di cui era stata oggetto Duma induceva alcuni manifestanti locali ad ammettere di essere preparati a un un periodo di guerra civile.

[52] Mi riferisco in particolare alla milizia Ba’th palestinese (As-Sa’iqa), agli scissionisti filo-siriani di Fatah (Fatah al-intifada) e al Fronte Popolare per la Liberazione della Palestina- Commando Generale (al-Jabha al-Sha’biyya lil-Tahrir Filastin- al-Qiyadah al-‘Ammah) guidato da Ahmad Jibril.

[53] Questo e quanto segue sono il frutto di testimonianze provenienti dal Coordinamento del Campo Profughi di Yarmuk per la Rivoluzione Siriana (Tansiqiyya Mukhayyam al-Yarmuk lil-Thawra al-Suriyyah), un collettivo di giovani apartitico. Tuttavia. nei campi palestinesi è difficile mantenersi totalmente apartitici, chiunque è caratterizzato quantomeno da un orientamento (ittijah) politico, nel caso del Coordinamento quello di Fatah.

[54]  In pratica le uniche restrizioni in vigore riguardano la proprietà terriera, per il resto, i palestinesi hanno pieno accesso a impieghi al di fuori dei campi profughi e a tutti i servizi governativi. (“Palestinian refugees in Syria” di Sherifa Shafie, Palestinian Return Centre, 28 Settembre 2010, http://www.prc.org.uk/newsite/en/Camps-in-Syria/601-palestinian-refugees-in-syria.html).

[55] Nulla di paragonabile ai desolanti campi libanesi, assediati da posti di blocco militari

[56] Basti ricordare il massacro perpetrato nel campo profughi palestinese di Tal al-Za’tar nel 1976.

[57] Testimonianza membro del Coordinamento di Yarmuk.

[58] Di fatti all’indomani della strage del 5 giugno 2011, quando il regime siriano ha provocato l’uccisione di diversi abitanti di Yarmuk, “catapultandoli” al confine con Israele in occasione della commemorazione della Guerra dei Sei Giorni (Naksa), numerosi palestinesi hanno accompagnato il corteo funebre intonando il coro “as-sha’b yuridu isqat al-fasa’il [il popolo vuole la caduta delle fazioni]”

[59] Secondo i Comitati Locali di Coordinamento siriani (lajan al-tanisiq al-mahalliyyah, uno dei comitati più attivi e conosciuti a livello mediatico, che appoggia il CNS) le vittime palestinesi per la causa rivoluzionaria siriana sarebbero 40 a tutto il 16 gennaio 2012: “Palestinians in the Syrian Revolution: the Palestinians are not Ahmad Jibril!”, http://www.lccsyria.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/01/Palestinians_in_the_Syrian_Revolution_1.pdf

[60] La “catastrofe” dell’esodo forzato palestinese del 1948 in corrispondenza della nascita di Israele.

[61]  Il “ripiego”, ovvero la sconfitta araba contro Israele a seguito della guerra dei Sei Giorni del 1967.

[62] I resoconti narrano di come i partiti palestinesi lealisti non si siano adoperati per soccorrere i gli abitanti di Yarmuk caduti sotto il fuoco israeliano.

[63]  Un riassunto degli eventi connessi alla commemorazione della Naksa è riportato sul blog dove scrivevo, mentre mi trovavo in Siria: “5-6 June 2011, Golan to Yarmuk: Palestinians joining the Syrian uprising?”, 28 giugno 2011, http://www.syrianstruggle.blogspot.com/2011/06/5-6-june-2001-golan-to-yarmuk.html.

[64]  “Asad bombs Palestinian Camp Latakia- Al-Jazeera interviews UN agency”, Al-Jazeera English, 15 agosto 2011, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W3YqR1_5Doo

[65] Ci si riferisce ai contatti tra il coordinamento di Yarmuk e quello di Midan. Per quanto riguarda invece Ghaliun, ha suscitato l’irritazione dell’opinione pubblica filo-palestinese la suddetta intervista rilasciata al Wall Street Journal, in cui promette di fare affidamento sugli alleati occidentali, tagliare i legami della Siria con Iran, Hamas e Hizbullah e “auspicare un contesto politico più favorevole” ai negoziati per la restituzione del Golan (“Stop the Killing Machine” di Jay Solomon e Nour Malas, Wall Street Journal, 2 dicembre 2011, http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052970203833104577071960384240668.html ). Lo sdegno degli opinionisti, che non intendono prescindere dalla centralità della causa palestinese nelle “primavere arabe”, non si è fatto attendere: “Fasl jadid min kitab al-thawra as-suriyyah bi-qalam: Burhan Henry Levy [Un nuovo capitolo del libro della rivoluzione siriana scritto da Burhan Henry Levy (in riferimento al filosofo francese filo-israeliano Bernard Henry Levy)]” di Nasri al-Sayyigh, As-Safir, 5 dicembre 2011, http://goo.gl/DjVdh.

 

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