Posts Tagged With: Middle East

Border towns: humanitarian assistance in peri-urban areas (March, 2018)

Humanitarian response in urban areas, Humanitarian Exchange Magazine No. 71.
by Humanitarian Practice Network
March 2018
Humanitarian crises are increasingly affecting urban areas either directly, through civil conflict, hazards such as flooding or earthquakes, urban violence or outbreaks of disease, or indirectly, through hosting people fleeing these threats. The humanitarian sector has been slow to understand how the challenges and opportunities of working in urban spaces necessitate changes in how they operate. For agencies used to working in rural contexts, the dynamism of the city, with its reliance on markets, complex systems and intricate logistics, can be a daunting challenge. Huge, diverse and mobile populations complicate needs assessments, and close coordination with other, often unfamiliar, actors is necessary.
But what precisely is different about doing humanitarian assistance in urban settings? Alyoscia D’Onofrio reflects on this question in his lead article. John Twigg and Irina Mosel emphasise that engaging with and supporting informal actors is key to achieving greater accountability in urban areas, while Leah Campbell and Wale Osofisan both highlight the need for context-relevant responses. Samer Saliba describes the International Rescue Committee (IRC)’s experience in developing partnerships with municipalities, David Sanderson and Pamela Sitko outline ten principles for enacting area-based approaches in urban post-disaster recovery and Chris Pain and Hanne Vrebos discuss Concern’s area-based programme in Port-au-Prince. Ruta Nimkar and Mathias Devi Nielsen look at a new programming approach in urban centres in Afghanistan to address the needs of the long-term displaced. Learning from an urban earthquake simulation exercise in Dhaka is the focus of articles by Charles Kelly and Herma Majoor and Larissa Pelham, who conclude that, to maximise the usefulness of such exercises, more advance training, engagement and preparation is needed. In their article, Jonathan Parkinson, Tim Forster and Esther Shaylor underscore the benefits of using market analysis to support humanitarian WASH programming in urban areas. The edition ends with an article by Estella Carpi and Camillo Boano analysing the potential unintended consequences of the increasing urbanisation of humanitarian response, focusing on border regions neighbouring Syria.

My article with Prof. Camillo Boano can be found here:

https://odihpn.org/magazine/border-towns-humanitarian-assistance-in-peri-urban-areas/

 

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Il discorso confessionale e il fondamentalismo annesso (by Estella, May 2016)

http://www.rsi.ch/rete-due/programmi/cultura/attualita-culturale/Le-chiavi-di-lettura-occidentali-sui-confilitti-in-medio-oriente-un-paradigma-confessionale-Ne-parliamo-con-l-antropologa-sociale-Estella-Carpi-7299122.html

Edizione del 06.05.2016

Le chiavi di lettura occidentali sui confilitti in medio oriente: un paradigma confessionale? Ne parliamo con l’ antropologa sociale Estella Carpi

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Guerre al di là del Mediterraneo: ecco perché la religione non c’entra (by Estella Carpi and Enrico Bartolomei, April 2016)

Guerre in Siria, Iraq e Palestina: ecco perché la religione non c’entra

“Guerre in Siria, Iraq e Palestina: ecco perché la religione non c’entra”

Dalla Siria all’Iraq, dall’Afghanistan alla Palestina, passando per il Libano e i tumulti sull’altra sponda del Mediterraneo: il discorso confessionale ha oscurato le cause socio-economiche dei movimenti di protesta fornendo ai regimi autoritari il pretesto per presentarsi come garanti dell’unità nazionale.
MONDOULTIME NOTIZIE 29 APRILE 2016 17:16 di Davide Falcioni

Articolo a cura di Enrico Bartolomei e Estella Carpi *

Dall’inizio dei movimenti di contestazione nel mondo arabo, che hanno rovesciato regimi pluridecennali in apparenza incrollabili e rimesso in discussione gli equilibri di potere nella regione, nei principali media e nei circoli degli esperti di politica estera si è affermata la tendenza a spiegare le cause delle proteste attraverso le lenti del confessionalismo, per cui i fattori che determinano la vita politica nel mondo arabo-musulmano sarebbero le tradizioni religiose nella loro irriducibile differenza. Il discorso confessionale ha oscurato le cause socio-economiche dei movimenti di protesta, mascherando le ambizioni regionali delle potenze straniere e fornendo ai regimi autoritari il pretesto per presentarsi come garanti dell’unità nazionale.

Questa griglia di lettura della realtà ha radici profonde che vanno oltre il mondo arabo, ed è stata alimentata da una teoria molto influente delle relazioni internazionali inaugurata dal politologo americano Samuel Huntington, che ha avanzato la tesi dello “scontro di civiltà”, spiegando come alla base dei conflitti post-Guerra Fredda ci siano in primo luogo le differenze culturali e religiose tra i vari popoli. Questa visione semplicistica e fondamentalista degli eventi storici, per cui i gruppi sociali vengono definiti in base alle appartenenze etniche, religiose o comunitarie, non solo ignora la molteplicità dei fattori alla base dei conflitti contemporanei, ma anche l’uso politico che abili “manipolatori del confessionalismo” fanno di queste differenze per difendere i propri interessi.

La grande narrazione confessionale
Dopo gli attentati dell’11 settembre 2001, la guerra globale al “terrorismo islamico” – inaugurata dagli Stati Uniti con l’invasione dell’Afghanistan e dell’Iraq – è diventata la copertura usata dalle classi dirigenti di vari regimi per eliminare gruppi insorgenti, movimenti separatisti o di liberazione. All’indomani degli attentati, l’allora primo ministro israeliano Ariel Sharon paragonò il leader di al-Qaeda Osama Bin Laden al presidente palestinese Yasser Arafat, presentando l’invasione militare della Cisgiordania durante la Seconda Intifada come necessaria per “smantellare le infrastrutture del terrorismo”. Lo stesso discorso viene ora riproposto, questa volta nei confronti del partito politico palestinese Hamas, prima di ogni operazione militare nella Striscia di Gaza. Il nuovo clima politico post-11 settembre permise anche al presidente russo Vladimir Putin di ridefinire la seconda guerra cecena come guerra contro il terrorismo, giustificando agli occhi della comunità internazionale la brutale repressione della guerriglia cecena.

Recentemente, il primo ministro Benyamin Netanyahu non ha esitato a strumentalizzare l’ondata di razzismo e islamofobia seguita agli attentati di Parigi, equiparando il “terrorismo dell’ISIS” al “terrorismo palestinese” nel tentativo di convincere i dirigenti e l’opinione pubblica europea che la lotta di liberazione palestinese è mossa dallo stesso odio anti-ebraico e anti-occidentale che viene generalmente attribuito al salafismo jihadista.

I manipolatori delle identità confessionali
Lungi dall’essere entità omogenee con caratteristiche immutabili, le identità confessionali ed etniche sono costruzioni sociali, vale a dire il prodotto storico di conflitti tra vari gruppi sociali che hanno utilizzato le diversità tra le varie componenti sociali nella lotta per il controllo di risorse materiali. Le appartenenze confessionali nei conflitti sono state strumentalizzate politicamente in primis dai manipolatori delle identità, come le classi dirigenti o i gruppi in competizione per la costruzione del consenso o per il controllo delle risorse. Questi principali attori manipolatori sono a loro volta il prodotto di una complessa relazione con la costruzione della loro stessa identità e garanzia di potere politico. Pertanto, il discorso confessionale è pienamente impiegato nei rapporti di potere ed è spesso elaborato come razionalizzazione d’interessi politici e strutture di dominio.

La strategia coloniale del divide et impera
Il confessionalismo è servito a legittimare la spartizione coloniale europea del Medio Oriente in seguito alla prima guerra mondiale. Presentare i conflitti nel mondo arabo-musulmano come il risultato dell’eterna lotta tra sunniti e sciiti, dispensa l’occidente dalle sue responsabilità storiche di protettore o rivale di questo o quel gruppo religioso o etnico. Difatti, la Francia e la Gran Bretagna hanno cinicamente sfruttato queste diversità per assicurarsi il controllo geopolitico delle risorse energetiche e la sicurezza domestica nella regione, ridisegnando arbitrariamente i confini, creando entità statali artificiali e ostacolando l’emergere di movimenti e partiti multiconfessionali e transnazionali (come quello comunista e panarabista baathista, o nasserista) che ponevano al centro delle loro rivendicazioni l’emancipazione politica ed economica piuttosto che le appartenenze comunitarie, religiose o etniche.
in foto: Israeli security forces walk in the Jerusalem’s Old City near the al–Aqsa mosque
In altri casi, le potenze straniere hanno affidato alle “minoranze confessionali” le leve di un potere parziale rendendolo solo complementare agli interessi esteri. Ad esempio, in seguito alle lotte che i drusi del Monte Libano sotto l’egida britannica conducevano nel XIX secolo contro la componente cristiano-maronita – supportata dalla Francia – il confessionalismo fu istituzionalizzato nel sistema politico (1920) con la creazione dello stato libanese su base elitaria cristiano-maronita, contribuendo a innescare tensioni che hanno dato origine a decenni di guerra civile. In Palestina, la Gran Bretagna s’impegnò con la Dichiarazione di Balfour (1917) a sostenere il progetto sionista di creare uno Stato ebraico, favorendo l’immigrazione di coloni ebrei europei. In Siria, le truppe coloniali francesi arruolarono le minoranze, tra cui gli alawiti, per sedare la rivolta nazionalista araba. La setta alawita venne poi dichiarata ramo della corrente sciita negli anni Settanta a seguito di un avvicinamento politico tra il presidente siriano alawita Hafez al-Asad e l’Imam sciita Musa as-Sadr. A seguito dell’attuale conflitto siriano e l’escalation della violenza attuale, è significativo che un’élite di esponenti intellettuali della comunità alawita abbia dichiarato un distanziamento dal regime di Asad e quindi la propria indipendenza confessional-clericale dalla corrente sciita dell’Iran e del Hezbollah libanese, strenui difensori del regime siriano.

Il confessionalismo e l’autoritarismo delle élite arabe
L’utilizzo delle identità religiose o etniche a fini politici costituisce tuttora un capitolo importante nella strategia del divide et impera messa in atto da diversi attori politici, così come lo era al tempo della dominazione coloniale europea.

L’intervento USA in Iraq nel 2003, finalizzato all’instaurazione di un governo sciita per rispecchiare l’appartenenza confessionale di gran parte della popolazione, come anche la lotta per l’egemonia regionale tra Iran e Arabia Saudita, hanno rafforzato la retorica delle identità comunitarie, fomentando in particolare lo scontro binario tra sunniti e sciiti. I movimenti di contestazione popolare nel mondo arabo, incentrati su rivendicazioni di democratizzazione dei sistemi politici e di giustizia sociale, sono stati anch’essi deragliati sui binari del confessionalismo – se non dall’interferenza straniera – da regimi autoritari, élite al potere, o quei gruppi che vogliono ritagliarsi una fetta di legittimità, ergendosi a difensori di questa o quella comunità.
L’uso politico della religione ha inoltre permesso ai regimi autoritari di contrastare la creazione di fronti unitari, agitando lo spettro di una sanguinosa guerra civile e infondendo dunque un ampio desiderio di stabilità da raggiungere a qualsiasi costo. In Siria, la trasformazione della rivolta popolare in guerra civile a sfondo confessionale ha permesso al regime di Bashar al-Asad di giustificare la repressione militare dei manifestanti, descritti come terroristi tout court, così come alle potenze regionali come Iran da un lato, e vari Paesi del Golfo arabo dall’altro, di intervenire nel conflitto. A loro volta, le milizie sciite o sunnite si sono spesso presentate come difensori ufficiali delle rispettive comunità religiose. Formazioni jihadiste come il Fronte an-Nusra e lo “Stato Islamico” hanno proclamato di voler riscattare la comunità sunnita oppressa dal “regime eretico alawita” e dai suoi alleati sciiti.

Intimorite dinanzi alla prospettiva di un sollevamento popolare, anche le monarchie del Golfo hanno riproposto la tesi della lotta religiosa tra sunniti e sciiti per impedire il diffondersi di movimenti di contestazione interni. L’Arabia Saudita, ad esempio, ha potuto giustificare l’intervento militare in Bahrein presentando il movimento di protesta locale come una rivolta sciita orchestrata dall’Iran. Il governo del Bahrein, a sua volta, ha strumentalizzato le proprie politiche migratorie accogliendo solo rifugiati siriani sunniti – seppur in numero esiguo – pur di contrastare i sollevamenti popolari interni a maggioranza sciita. Il paradigma confessionale è stato utilizzato anche per liquidare le forze del cambiamento rivoluzionario e quindi restaurare quelle del vecchio regime. Il colpo di stato del generale Abdel Fattah as-Sisi nel luglio 2013 è stato presentato come necessario per impedire l’islamizzazione forzata dell’Egitto ad opera dei Fratelli Musulmani e i loro tentativi di provocare una guerra civile.

Dal discorso confessionale ai flussi migratori in Europa
All’interno di confini più simbolici che territoriali, le diverse componenti sociali han sentito il bisogno di definirsi come diverse l’una dall’altra e di reclamare diritti o adempiere ai doveri civili definendosi in termini identitari, piuttosto che come parte costituente di uno stato sociale che garantisce diritti e servizi di prima necessità.

Ma in che modo il discorso confessionale dello scontro di civiltà tocca le sponde europee? In nome della sicurezza contro la minaccia globale del terrorismo islamico, una serie di legislazioni anti-terrorismo limitano le libertà civili e i diritti fondamentali della persona. Anche negli stati che si definiscono democratici, lo “stato di diritto” lascia progressivamente il posto allo “stato d’emergenza”. Il discorso confessionale serve anche per giustificare la gestione militare e securitaria dei fenomeni migratori. Nella propaganda islamofobica e xenofoba, ormai non più appannaggio esclusivo dell’estrema destra, le categorie dei migranti e dei richiedenti asilo vengono sempre più associate al pericolo dell’invasione islamica, che metterebbe in discussione la purezza dei valori cristiani e occidentali, e alla minaccia del terrorismo jihadista. L’equazione clandestino-musulmano-terrorista diventa sempre più accettabile agli occhi dell’opinione pubblica europea.

L’uso di identità confessionali ed etniche per spiegare eventi storici, politici, e addirittura psicologici, è di per sé un atto fondamentalista. In questo senso, le violenze di oggi su scala globale e la convinzione che i flussi migratori siano un qualcosa da accogliere o rifiutare, fanno parte di una lotta all’affermazione di valori e principi propri che si vogliono sancire come universali.

Mentre il profugo o il migrante sono concepiti come elementi in eterna lotta, gli aiuti umanitari sono standardizzati, spesso tradendo la diversità dei bisogni dei beneficiari. La sofferenza dell’Altro, come la sua minacciosa violenza, sono rese omogenee e indivisibili. Quando episodi di violenza spezzano la normalità su cui son disegnate le nostre vite quotidiane, e quando tali episodi sono relazionabili a fenomeni transnazionali generati o facilitati da migrazioni o rivendicazioni di stampo confessionale – prevalentemente islamico – i clandestini che sbarcano, denigrati esclusivamente secondo la loro matrice identitaria confessionale, vengono meccanicamente associati al fallimento delle politiche europee e alle reti islamiche estremiste transnazionali.

In altre parole, la paura delle società occidentali di tradursi in spazi a rischio imprevedibile – cosa che finora ha prevalentemente turbato le vite umane nel “Sud globale” – è arginata tramite avanzate tecnologie di sicurezza e sorveglianza, nonché prontamente consolata da mezzi informativi e di assistenza sociale che tendono a mantenere i confini identitari del “diverso”: l’assimilazione o il riconoscimento dell’eterogeneità di quest’ultimo diluirebbero troppo la sua presenza all’interno delle società di arrivo.

Il “diverso”, da una parte, è in lotta col proprio simile nel Sud globale, in quanto parte di un mosaico identitario che va “sanato” da principi e diritti universali, propugnati dal nostro lato del Mediterraneo. Il “diverso” diventa invece uniformabile ai suoi simili quando il Sud globale si sposta verso il Nord globale, ponendo quest’ultimo al cospetto di nuove rivendicazioni. Mentre ci proponiamo di curare e arginare l’emergenza negli stati mediorientali attraverso agenzie umanitarie in loco, l’insicurezza imprevedibile alla quale siamo di fronte ora – la stessa che pone sullo stesso piano gli immaginari “Nord” e “Sud” – finisce per rafforzare questi totalitarismi identitari: i veri mali del nostro tempo.

* Enrico Bartolomei ha conseguito il dottorato di ricerca in storia dell’area euro-mediterranea all’Università di Macerata. E’ tra gli autori di Gaza e l’industria israeliana della violenza (DeriveApprodi 2015) e tra i curatori dell’edizione italiana di L’occupazione israeliana (Diabasis 2016) di Neve Gordon.

Estella Carpi ha conseguito un dottorato in antropologia sociale alla University of Sydney (Australia). Attualmente consulente di ricerca per la New York University (Abu Dhabi) e Lebanon Support (Beirut), si occupa principalmente di Levante arabo.

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الأقلّيات” و”الأغلبيات”: تناوب على السلطة أم تمثيل عددي؟”

الأقلّيات” و”الأغلبيات”: تناوب على السلطة أم تمثيل عددي؟”

يتّفق العلماء والمفكرون وأصحاب الرأي والجمهور العام، في كثيرٍ من الأحيان، على أن الشاغل الرئيسي والحتمي في الشرق الأوسط المعاصر هو التنوع الديني، والحاجة إلى حماية «الأقليات» الدينية، فقد أصبح تدريجياً ما يُعرفُ بالأقليات الدينية سمةً أساسية من سمات السياسة الدوَلية. وعادةً تُنَاقَش هذه «الأقليات» على أنّها كيانات غير قابلة للتغيير، وأنها متميّزة بأصول سياسية متجانسة في الشؤون الدوَلية، وأيضاً كفئات تحليلية يمكن من خلالها فهم الشرق الأوسط بشكل سريع.

وسيشيرُ التحليل التالي إلى تجاهل الميزات المصطنعة للأقليات الدينية، كما الأغلبيات، في السياسة الدوَلية المعاصرة. وستعتمد الأمثلة التاريخية التالية على مفاهيم تفسيرية شاملة، لشرح الامتيازات المدنية أو الحرمان الإجتماعي، وسيتم تسليط الضوء على الصداقة أو العداوة التي تشكّل العلاقات بين «الأقليات» الدينية المختلفة.

في محاولة استقراء ظهور مصطلح «الأقليات» في الإنتاج العِلمي، يربط المؤرّخ بينجامين وايت في 2011 تاريخَ الأقليات بتكوين الدول القومية في الشرق الأوسط. وكتب وايت أن مصطلح «الأقليات» كان قد ظهر في الثلاثينات من القرن الماضي فقط بسبب البيروقراطية الفرنسية، التي كانت لا تزال تهيمن على البلاد في ذلك الوقت، وبسبب تدخّل الدولة في حياة الناس اليومية. وفعلاً ازداد استخدام مصطلح «الأقلية» خصوصاً في الفترة الّتي أعقبت الانتداب الفرنسي لسوريا في الأربعينات. ومن ثم بدأت الدولة في الشرق الأوسط الحديث تُمثّلُ الناس بشكلٍ جماعي، كما بدأ كل عنصرٍ في المجتمع ينظر إلى نفسه بوصفه قابلاً للتصنيف، إمّا بناءاً على استياء الأقليات من حرمان أفرادها من الخدمات المجتمعية، أو على إشباع الأغلبيات نتيجةً للإشراك المجتمعي. وفي الواقع، يشيرُ تمثيل هذه الفئات الاجتماعية بذاته إلى التماسك والتجانس.

وبناءاً على ما كان يصفه العالم الاجتماعي بيير بورديو بـ «الرأسمال الإعلامي والمعرفي»، تُعزى المسميات الطائفية إلى إرادات شعبية متنوعة في جميع أنحاء الشرق الأوسط. وهكذا فإنه على سبيل المثال، يبدو من الطبيعي أن يُحكَم العراق بهيمنة نظام شيعي بعد عهد صدام حسّين، فقط لأنّ أغلبية السكان شيعة. وعلى نحو مماثل بعد أن بدأت في عام 2011 أزمة سياسية غير مسبوقة  في سوريا، فإنه لا يمكن الحكم دون اعتراض لدى الأغلبية السنية السورية كون النظام الحاكم من الأقلية العلوية. وكذلك بما أنه من السائد لدى الخبراء أنّ أكثرية الناس في البحرين شيعة، لذا فإنهم يحتاجون إلى نظام شيعي لإنهاء السخط المحلّي وتلبية المطالب بالحرّية. وأيضاً من السائد التفكيرُ أن السلطة الحاكمة في إيران مستقرّة، فقط بفضل ائتلاف شيعي حاكم على الأغلبية الشيعة الساحقة.

يستطيعُ الإنسان عن طريق فهم ماضيه أن يشعر بواجب المحافظة على الوعي الجماعي, إذ إنّ الارتباط المباشر بين الأغلبيات وفكرة الهيمنة، وبين الأقليات وفكرة التبعية، يُلقي بظلّه على مواقع السلطة المتغيرة التي تُكوّن أساس العلاقات المجتمعية. وفي هذا الصدد, تقدم الثورة السورية حالةً مثاليةً من خلال تصويرها على وسائل الإعلام الدوَلية، وبشكلٍ سابقٍ لأوانه، كحربٍ أهلية، أو عبارة عن مجموعة مطالب طائفية ومتحيزة للأغلبية السنية. ومن المضلّل القول إنّ تحرير الأغلبية السنية يؤدي إلى اضطهاد الأقليات، وبالإضافة إلى ذلك يحجب هذا الاعتقاد توزيع السلطة الواقعي في المجتمع السوري. ومع ذلك, فقد قلّل هذا التفسير للحقائق الاجتماعية في سوريا من التضامن الدوَلي مع المتظاهرين السوريين، على خلاف الثورتين المصرية والتونسية.

وفي الواقع، تتراوح درجة تعاطف المجتمع الدوَلي مع قضايا سياسية معينة, حيث يقوم بالتدخل العسكري في الشرق الأوسط على أساس الاحتياج المضلّل إلى حماية الأقليات الأساسية المقيمة في الإقليم. وفي هذا السياق، يتم التلميح لازدواجية المعرفة بالأغلبيات والأقليات. على سبيل المثال، إنّ وصف الأكراد بالأقلّية في العراق وإيران وسوريا وتركيا كونهم «مظلومين» اجتماعياً، هو وصفٌ مخادعٌ إذا أردنا تفسير سبب سوء أوضاعهم المعيشية، أو التركيز على الجوهر السياسي لمفهوم «الأقلية».

وفعلاً، «الأقلّية» الكردية تتألّف من حوالي 30 مليون شخص، ولكن إلى اليوم لا يزال فكر الدولة القومية يسبّب وصفهم بالأقلية. وبالمثل، اعتمد تدخّل الدولة في الحياة اليومية في الشرق الأوسط، وعموماً الكيانات «اللوثيانية»، على إستراتيجية «فرّق تسُد» الّتي شجّعت الحركات الانفصالية والاستقلال السياسي للمجتمعات المختلفة، كوسيلةٍ وحيدة لقبول هويتها.

وكانت أعمال العنف التي يرتكبها «تنظيم الدولة» ضدّ عناصر المجتمع الموجودة في بلاد ما بين النهرين، تعزّز الاقتناع بأهمية «حماية الأقليات الدينية»، وبالتالي تكرّس استخدام الدين كأداة لإنتاج المعرفة الحصريّة.

أمّا حالياً، يقوم التنظيم بالاعتداء يومياً على المسلمين والمسيحيين بنحو مماثل، وغالباً يقتل الأشخاص الذين يرفضون سلطته بشكل مباشر، أو يعارضون «الخلافة» بأشكالٍ عديدة, ولكن فقط بفضل أعدادهم نصفهم بالمظلومين، لكي نعبّر عن مخاوفنا ونوايانا السياسية.

ومفهومُ التحليل العلمي «للدين» على أنّه خانةٌ فارغة، نستطيع ملأها بأي معنى، هو مفهومٌ مغلوط، ولكنّه لا يزال قادراً على صياغة الأحداث، وعلى رفع المشاعر الجماعية على نطاقٍ واسع. وفي الأمثلة التي قدّمتها سابقاً، في فهم تاريخ الشرق الأوسط، يعتمدُ فكر الهويات المتجانسة على أساليب معرفية مضلّلة، كما لو أنّها كيانات موضوعية ومعبّرة عن مبادئ سياسية ثابتة. وبعبارة أخرى، يتم اعتبار عناصر المجتمع الدينية والعرقية في حال طمحت إلى وطن مستقلّ وانتِماء فطري إلى أراضيها، على أساس هويتها فقط. ومثلاً لماذا لا يُعدّ المسيحيون الخاضعون لسلطة «تنظيم الدولة»، ولا الأكراد أيضاً، معارضين لسلطة الدولة المطلقة أو لأي كيانٍ أخر؟

يلجأ المجتمع الدولي، وليس السياسيون فقط، إلى لغة «حماية الأقليات» واستراتيجيتها على نحوٍ متزايد، فالحماية الاستعمارية للأقليات في الشرق الأوسط حوّلت المجموعات المتدينة غير المتجانسة، إلى كيانات متماسكة منفصلة. وعلى ضوء ذلك تتعرّض «الأقلّيات» أيضاً لخطر المجازر، أو التمييز بالحقوق المدنية، كلما تطلّبت ذلك المصالح السياسية أو ظروفٌ مادية معينة، ومن المفارقات أن يأتي حُرّاس الأقلّيات الأجانب لإنقاذها في السياق التاريخي الذي ترعرعت فيه.

وعلاوةً على ذلك, حسب الرأي السائد في الخارج وفي الشرق الأوسط، تتصادم هذه المقومات الدينية بشكلٍ دائم. وإذا نظرنا إلى الجذور التاريخية للعداوات الإقليمية المزمنة، فقد خدمت حماية الأقليات عبر التاريخ نفوذ السلطات الغربية في المنطقة, مثل الحماية الفرنسية للمسيحيين في سوريا، والحماية الفرنسية للموارنة في جبل لبنان، وخصوصاً أثناء الاقتتال مع الدروز، الذين كانوا تحت رعاية البريطانيين في القرن التاسع عشر.

وبالتالي، التلاعبُ السياسي في مفاهيم الأقليات والأغلبيات في إنتاج معرفة الشرق الأوسط، هو غالباً عملٌ أيديولوجي لا يزال يُصبَغ بمواريث استعمارية، وبالتأكيد ليس سيناريو الشرق الأوسط استثنائياً في هذا الإطار، لأنّ بعض المجموعات الاجتماعية أصغر من ما يسمّى «الأغلبيات» العرقية أو الدينية التي تعيش في الدولة القومية نفسها، ولكنّها لم تطور الإحساس الذاتي بأنّها «أقليات». على سبيل المثال، تُمثَّل الجاليات الآسيوية في تشيلي كمجتمعاتِ مهاجرين في الأخبار وفي الأدب المتعلق بهم، وعلى النقيض من ذلك، يُسمّى المغتربون من بوليفيا وبيرو في تشيلي «بالأقليات»، لأنهم هاجروا من دوَل جارة حاربت تشيلي في حرب إقليمية في القرن التاسع عشر، وذلك يؤكد استخدام الاستقطاب الثنائي السياسي لمفاهيم الأغلبية والأقلية.

ينتهجُ الحُكّام والجمهور والعلماء التصنيف الديني كإشارةٍ إلى قُربٍ أو بُعدٍ سياسي، وعلى نحو مماثل كان المسيحيون الأرثوذكسيون اليونانيون أكثر استعداداً لقبول الأمة العربية السورية في الثلاثينات من المذاهب المسيحية الأخرى، وكان يسمّى هذا المجموع «بقرابة الإسلام» في ظلّ وجود أغلبية مسلمة في الحركة القومية السورية، وعامّةً تحُثّ القضايا السياسية المشتركة المسلمين على البحث عن تسميات معبّرة عن قُربٍ ديني من المسيحيين الأرثوذكسيين. وطبعاً العامل السياسي هو مكوِّنٌ واحدٌ لمفهوم الدين القديم والمتعدّد، الذي يُستعمل إلى حدّ كبير في العلوم السياسية والاجتماعية. والنظرة التحليلية لمفهوم الدين، هي وسيلة مصطنعة تحتوي على عادات ومبادئ وعقائد وأخلاق معنوية، وسلوكيات بشرية متناقضة.

تؤدّي فرضية «استثنائية الشرق الأوسط»، إلى تصوّر انقسام الإقليم بشكل فطريٍ ومُبرَم، إلى أقليات دينية وعرقية متجانسة ومطواعة لسياسات الهوية, ومن مسؤوليتنا مواجهةُ سوء الفهم والقصور الفكري الأهلي والدوَلي، والعمل على تحسين أساليب معرفية وإدراكية في النقاش حول الشرق الأوسط.

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The Abused Politics of “Minorities” and “Majorities”: Quantifiable Entities or Shifting Sites of Power? (by Estella Carpi, May 2015)

PAKISTAN_-_protesta_donne_contro_discriminazione

(Photo taken from: http://www.asianews.it)

http://humanityjournal.org/blog/the-abused-politics-of-minorities-and-majorities-quantifiable-entities-or-shifting-sites-of-power/

THE ABUSED POLITICS OF “MINORITIES” AND “MAJORITIES”: QUANTIFIABLE ENTITIES OR SHIFTING SITES OF POWER?

Scholars, pundits, opinion-makers, and the general public too often agree that the primary concern to address today in the contemporary Middle East is religious diversity and the need to protect religious minorities. As a result, the so-called religious minorities have gradually come to constitute a fundamental feature of state politics. They are usually depicted and discussed as unchangeable entities presenting coherent political assets in international affairs, as well as analytical categories through which a more immediate understanding of the Middle Eastern scenario is finally possible.

This analysis will argue that the constructed character of religious minorities and majorities has too often been disregarded in international politics. It will employ historical examples as holistic explanatory notions for civic privileges or deprivations, or to stress amity or enmity that have been awarded to religious minorities.

In the effort to trace the emergence of the language surrounding “minorities,” historian Benjamin T. White in 2011 associated the history of minorities with the historical formation of nation-states in the Middle East. He unearthed how a language of minorities only emerged in the 1930s with French bureaucracy, which was still dominating the country at that time: the central state presence in people’s everydayness was intensifying. The use of the term “minority” increased, in particular, in the post-French mandate Syria (1940s). Once state, in the modern Middle East, began to more fully represent the people, all “groupable” societal component collectively began to perceive themselves in terms of frustrated minorities or accomplished majorities. Arguably, this was in order to feel more included and entitled to services and benefits. It is inescapable, in fact, that representativeness implies per se cohesion and sameness.

In what Pierre Bourdieu would name the “informational capital” around the Middle East, confessional labels are attributed to diverse popular wills. This, for instance, deceivingly led us to think that Saddam Hussein’s Iraq was actually in need of a Shiite regime, in that the national population is predominantly Shiite. And that Syria, from 2011 onwards, underwent an unprecedented political crisis because the ruling regime is from the Alawite minority, and, as such, it cannot rule undisturbed over a Sunni majority. Or, again, how many times have knowledge producers argued that the mainly Shi‘a-populated Bahrein needs a Shiite regime to stop local discontent and meet the reiterated requests for freedom once for all? Or also that the ruling power in Iran keeps the country stable because there is a Shiite coalition there ruling over a Shiite-majority population?

In the capacity of beings craving historical understanding, we constantly feel like we owe consciousness to our past: the quick association of majority with domination and, likewise, minority with subordination, risks shadowing the shifting sites of power that underly societal relations. The Syrian revolution offers a perfect case in point, in that it has prematurely been portrayed by several media as a “civil war,” as well as a confessionally biased demand for greater freedoms coming from the Syrian Sunni majority. The interpretation according to which the Sunni majority protesting could result in the oppression of the minority groups living within the state boundaries, would obscure the actual distribution of power within Syrian society. Such a biased interpretation of social facts is said to have resulted in poor international solidarity for the protesters in Syria with respect to the Egyptian or the Tunisian revolution.

Indeed, the alternately scant or deep empathy that the international community has developed towards particular political causes or military interventions in the Middle East is often dictated by the alleged need to protect the “primordial” minorities populating the region. In this regard, the gnoseological minority-majority dyad is employed to describe homogenizable religious as well as ethnic groups. For instance, speaking of Kurds as a minority is highly misleading: in the palingenetic effort to repoliticize the minority concept and explore the present life conditions, the Kurds and groups alike should simply be described as “oppressed.” Yet they constitute a heterogeneously oppressed or disempowered population of approximately 30 million people majorly distributed between Iran, Syria, Iraq, and Turkey. The nation-state boundary logic has forced them to be described in minority terms. Similarly, it is the invasive presence of the state in the Middle East—generally a Leviathan entity using divide-and-rule strategies – that has triggered a longing for secessionism and identity-defined independence in particular religious or ethnic groups.

A further example has been provided by the violence used by Da‘esh (ISIS) against the ethnic and religious groups who inhabit the Arab Jazira—the ancient Upper Mesopotamia extended between Syria and Iraq—which has led people to talk of the importance of protecting religious minorities, and therefore using religion as a mere gnoseological instrument. In fact, the populations attacked by Da‘esh nowadays are Muslim as well. Like Christians, Muslims are killed on a daily basis. The killed ones, hence, are those who are simply refusing, in many forms, to live under the caliphate. Their “numberization” has long served political intentions and fears. And here lies the fallacy of ‘’religion’’ meant as an empty category that we can fill with any meaning, but still massively capable, however it is interpreted, to shape events and raise different collective sentiments.

In the examples provided above, identity politics trumps any other gnoseological understanding of the Middle East’s changing scenario, by departing from the idea that “minority identities” are objectively something, and can be filled up with a fixed political content. In other words, religious and ethnic groups are spoken of as if they owned a pseudo-national imagination and an identity-shaped attachment to their territory. Therefore, neither Christians under Da‘esh nor the Kurds are seen as simply reacting to state-owned power, or to any entity where power is temporarily located.

History has clearly shed a revealing light on how the international community, and not only politicians, have increasingly used the expression—and consequently adopted the strategy of—”protecting minorities.” It is the colonial protection of minorities in the Middle East that turned socially heterogeneous groups of religious believers into separate bodies. By doing so, they further exposed them to the risk of massacres or civic inferiority whenever prevailing political interests and material circumstances do not allow the traditional protectors to defend such “minorities.” Paradoxically, such outsider protectors tend to rush over to allegedly fight on behalf of domestic groups in the historical context in which the latter have actually grown.

Furthermore, the common myth on which the international and domestic understanding of the Middle East relies is that such reified religious categories are permanently at odds with one another. If we look at the historical roots of what is depicted as a chronic regional enmity, the protection of minority communities has always been leverage for western sway in the Middle Eastern region. Like the case of the French protecting the Christians in Syria and the Maronites in Mount Lebanon, especially during the fight against the British-supported Druzes in the 19th century.

The political use of the notions of minorities and majorities in the epistemic construction of the Middle East is therefore ideological work still encrusted with colonial nuances. And this is certainly not peculiar to the Middle Eastern scenario. In fact, some social groups, smaller in terms of numbers with respect to the ethnic or religious majority living within the same nation-state, have not developed their own sense of properly constituting a “minority.” For example, the Asian communities in Chile are mostly represented as migrant groups in the news and in the literature concerning them. By contrast, Bolivian and Peruvian migrants in Chile are spoken of as “minorities”, in that they migrated from countries against which Chile had fought a regional war in the 19th century. This further confirms the political use of the majority-minority Manicheism.

Religious labels have also been used by governors, common people and scholars as a way to point to proximity or distance in terms of political purposes. The Christian Greek Orthodox, who, unlike other Christian groups, used to be more willing to accept a Syrian Arab nationhood over the 1930s, exemplify this phenomenon, as they had tellingly been called the “cousins of Islam,” being the Muslims the vast majority among Syrian nationalists. Thereby, the commonality of a political cause was leading the Muslims to find linguistic expressions of religious proximity to describe their Christian Orthodox fellows.

The political is obviously only one dimension of the polyhedric character of this ancient all-encompassing concept of religion, which is largely adopted in social and political sciences to advance gnoseological analyses. We should rather reclaim “religion” as a constructed human way of naming an immense range of practices, beliefs, theological tenets as well as contradictory human behaviors related to this realm of meanings.

Certainly, the abused description of “Middle Eastern exceptionalism” does not lie in anirremediable and almost innate division of the region into monolithic religious or ethnic minorities, purportedly conveyers of self-evident identity politics. But rather lies in the allogenous and endemic incapacity to cultivate better gnoseological strategies to know the Middle East and speak of it.

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الحرب الاعلامية والنّفسية و أثارها المتوقّعة على الشرق الأوسط (by Estella Carpi, March 2015)

 الحرب الاعلامية والنّفسية و أثارها المتوقّعة على الشرق الأوسط

المؤلّفة: استيلّا كاربي

في هذا التقرير سوف أفسّر مفاهيم الحرب الأعلامية والنّفسية من خلال دلالات تاريخية و ارتباط هذه الحروب بالحكومات الدولية.

يسعى ارتباط الحرب الإعلامية بالحرب النفسية الى أزمة عامّة على نحو متزايد. والهدف هو في الواقع تهديد النّظام القائم الاقليمي.

الحرب الإعلامية بجنب الى الحرب النّفسية تُعرف كدعاية ضدّ العدو في دعمها للعمليات العسكرية، وفقا لإدورد بيرنيز. وبالتالي الدعاية والرعب هما كلاهما من الأدوات الرئيسية للحرب النّفسية.

تخلق الحروب الإعلامية عادة تفاوتا بين الحجم الفعلي للتهديدات الإرهابية, أو أحداث مماثلة، و تصوّرها العام (Dobkin، 1992 ). و يبدو أن “قوة التّسريبات”، بعد إنشاء موقع “ويكيليكس”، كانت وسيلة مشجعة للجمهور المتشوق للديموقراطية و كشف حقيقة الظّلم وخيانة الأمانة. و حاليا تظهر التسريبات جوانبها السّلبية في نشر صور قذرة لالدول و أحداث غير مؤكّدة.

خفّف إنشاء موقع “ويكيليكس” قدرات الحكومات على الرّقابة الإعلامية و إغفال أخبار معيّنة. و هذه مرحلة مهمّة لانّ الدول أصبحت مجرّد عامل فاعل في سيناريو أكبر. و في العصر الحاضر، تتأثر التصريحات الرسمية أيضا بصيغة الأخبار.

و قد تمكّنت جميع التسريبات وكذلك التواصل الاجتماعي، بالإضافة إلى وسائل الإعلام التقليدية مثل الإذاعة والتلفزيون والصحافة، من زراعة نشر الحماس في الجمهور العام أو الحكومات. من خلال هذه التسريبات في حشد تفاعل الافراد في المجتمع كذلك الحكومات مما زاد من تضخيم الأمور الى مستوى درامي (Manahan، 2010) و مما ولد مفاهيم مثل “العداوة” و “الصداقة” غالبا من علاقات إعلامية افتراضية بدلا من علاقات واقعية بين دولة و دول.

يعَتبر الباحث الأمريكي نعوم تشومسكي وكالات الأنباء مؤسسات مرتبطة تماما بالحكومات، وبالتالي يعتقد أن الحكومات نفسها لا تزال مسؤولة عن المعلومات المنتشرة (Di Maggio, 2008، ص 164).

و استثبتت مسؤولية الحكومات عن انتشارالمعلومات و تزويرها مثل ما فعلت الحكومة الأمريكية في حروب العراق وأفغانستان، في تداولها مسطلحات مثل “حروب نظيفة” او “حروب ضرورية” أو “حروب الاختيار” لإخفاء مصالح الأنظمة الحكومية أو لتوصيف العدو “بالإرهابي” لنزع الشرعية عنه.

تسييس وسائل الإعلام عامل طبيعي في حالة اعلام الأحزاب أو الجمعيات السياسية، كما في حالة قناة “مكملين” في تركيا التي نشرت التسريبات المصرية المؤخّرة، أو كما في حالة قناة “الجزيرة” المشهورة التي تستمرّ بدعايتها لصالح جماعة الإخوان المسلمين: هي حالة مثالية لتسوّس وسائل الإعلام في حين أن يجب عليها تثقيف الجمهور على التفكير المستقلّ (Schechter، 2003).

و يجب أن تتحمّل وسائل الإعلام دورها المسؤول كجزء لا يتجزء من مشروع و دور تربوي و صادق. في الواقع، على مر التاريخ، بعض المجازر مبالغة أو مقلّلة في التقدير، كما هو الحال في سوريا، حيث يقولون بسهو و غرّة أكثرية مشاهدي الأحداث الدّموية أن لا يفهموا ما يجري هناك. و في سياق المسؤولية الاعلامية تبرز أيضا أهمّية التاريخ في متابعة العدالة الاجتماعية و رفاهية الشّعب.

و تلفت الحرب الإعلامية انتباه الناس الى جوانب معيّنة إهمالا جوانبا أخرى. إذا يتجوّب أن وسائل الإعلام تخلق أحداث العالم ولا تصوّرها ببساطة، من الاّزم أن الصحفيون يتحمّلوا مسؤوليتهم بقدر متشابه للسياسيين, مع أن وسائل الاعلام ليست صاحبة القرار. وفي هذه المسألة قدّم جيك لينش ـ عالم بريطاني مقيم في أستراليا ـ فكرة “صحافة السلام” (Lynch ,2011). فعلا بامكان الطريقة التي نختارها لكتابة الأخبار أن تحسّن الأمور على الأرض. هذا صار حاليا رأيا منتشرا.

على سبيل المثال, وفقا لبعض صناع الرأي، خسرت أمريكا الحرب في فيتنام بسبب الحملة الصحافية اللتي ادت الى تثبيط عزيمة الجنود على الأرض ,(De Angelis, 2007).

و في أيامنا هذه، أهمّية الحرب النفسية كاستراتيجية عسكرية لها دلائل عديدة. مثلا دمج الجيش البريطاني ضمن صفوفه ٢٠٠٠ جندي لإجراء حرب نفسية لكي يتقن نوعا جديدا من أساليب الحرب.

وهكذا، الأمن والقانون والنظام والتنمية هي مترابطة على نحو متزايد مع القوة العسكرية. وقد كان هذا الارتباط واضحا منذ أعلن جورج بوش الحروب في العراق وأفغانستان واستراتيجية “كسب القلوب والعقول” في النضال الأمريكي للديموقراطية في الشرق الأوسط.

الحروب الاعلامية, السياسة و المفكّرون:

كثيرا ما تلجأ التيارات السياسية الشرعية أو غير الشرعية الى اراء بعض المعلّمين في حروبها الاعلامية. مثلا يعتبرالشيخ يوسف القرضاوي المنظر الأول لجماعة الاخوان المسلمين. و كان القرضاوي قد اتّهم الامارات العربية المتّحدة في فيبراير ٢٠١٤ بموقفها المعاد للجماعات الاسلامية في الاقليم, و لذلك رفض هوية دولة الامارات الاسلامية. فعلا الهبت تصريحات القرضاوي و الدعم القطري له الحرب النفسية على الامارات.

على نحو مماثل, في الماضي, أشار أنصارالغزو الأمريكي في العراق الى المواقف السياسية لمثقّفين علمانيين غربيين مثل كريستوفر هيتشنز. و راجع داعمو القضية الفلسطينية المثقّف العلماني المعروف نعوم تشومسكي بالاضافة الى مرشدين روحيين عديدين. و هناك كثير من الأمثلة التاريخية الأقدم مثل استغلال فكرالفيلسوف الألماني فريدريش نيتشه في مشروع النّازيين السياسي في الثلاثينات.

في هذا الصدد, رفض بعض المفكّرون و المرشدون تشويه فكرهم في خدمة جماعات سياسية معيّنة. مثلا صرّح علي الحسّيني السيستاني ـ مرجع ايراني في العراق ـ اعتراضه على استخدام أفكاره من قبل الأحزاب العراقية في سياسياتها الاسلامية, و لذلك انتقدت أحزاب الشيعة و السنّة العراقية اية الله السيستاني تكرارا.

 حروب إعلامية و نفسية في التاريخ:

و سوف أقدّم الان أمثلة ترتيبا زمنيا من التاريخ خلال القرنين العشرين و الحادي و العشرين عن أمثلة عن حروب نفسية و اعلامية في الاطار الدولي و كذلك في الشرق الأوسط.

في الحروب العالمية الأولى والثانية استخدمت الحرب النفسية لإقناع العدو على استسلامه، وعلى هيمنة الدول الأوروبية في العالم. صنعت وسائل الاعلام الموافقة الوطنية في الدول الأروبية لدعم جهودها العسكرية في القرن العشرين (دي انجيليس، 2007). بينما في الحرب العالمية الأولى أستخدم الراديو كأداة أولية في الحرب النفسية والإعلامية، في الحرب العالمية الثانية فازت بريطانيا على ألمانيا من خلال السينما والصحافة.

في وقت لاحق, صارت حرب إعلامية أثناء الحرب الباردة بين الاتّحاد السوفياتي والولايات المتّحدة الأمريكية، حيث كانت تهدف أمريكا إلى تدمير الشيوعية والى تمثيل ذاتهاها كبطل للحرّية العالمية.

و زوّرت الحكومة العراقية الأخبار خلال حرب الخليج الثانية (١٩٩٠ -و١٩٩١)، لأنّها صوّرت القوات المتعدّدة العالمية كهاجمة العراق في طريقة وحشية إهمالا عدوانها على الكويت مع الأدعاء بأن الأرض الكوايتية عراقية من منظور تاريخي (Taylor، 1992).

و في الانتفاضة الفلسطينية الأولى في عام ١٩٨٧ فاز الفلسطينيون في الحرب الإعلامية لأنّهم نجحوا في نشر الصورة الواقعة غير قابلة للشك كضحايا الاحتلال الإسرائيلي في طريقة لا يمكن تمييزها. بينما في الانتفاضة الثانية في عام ٢٠٠٠ فاز الإسرائيليون في الحرب الإعلامية، لأنّ وسائل الإعلام الاعلامية نجحت في نشر صورة عن الفلسطينيين بأنّهم غير واقعيين و هم من يرفض عملية السّلام؛ على وجه الخصوص, بعد اتفاقيات كامب ديفيد في عام ٢٠٠٠ تُصوّر عملية السلام كمُستحيلة و الدولتان كمستمرّة في نزع الشرعية عن العدو (De Angelis, 2007).

و صُنعت الحاجة الملحّة المذكورة إلى حرب في أفغانستان و العراق ( ٢٠٠١ و ٢٠٠٣) من خلال الحرب الإعلامية و دعاية الولايات المتحدة الأمريكية (Schechter، 2003).

تعارض العلاقة القوية بين حزب الله اللبناني وإيران وسوريا، التي أنجبت ما يسمّى حاليا “محور المقاومة”، القوى الإقليمية الأخرى كما لو هذه شكّلت كيانا متجانسا. لذلك ولّدت الحرب الإعلامية وهم قطبين سياسين فقط في الاقليم.

و في العقد الأخير بدأ الرئيس تشافيز في فنزويلا حربا إعلامية و الثورة البوليفارية ضدّ الإمبريالية الأمريكية, و التي تهدف إلى الاشتراكية العالمية و زعزعة استقرار “العدو البرجوازي” (Manwaring، 2012).

يتّهم رئيس تركيا أردوغان من ٢٠١٣ وسائل الإعلام الغربية بحرب نفسية ضدّ الحكومة التركية بسبب الصحفيين السجناء، قائلا أن هذه المسألة تعتمد على سلطة القضاء المستقلّة بحد ذاته.

استخدمت قوات الدفاع الإسرائيلية وسائل الإعلام الاجتماعية مثل تويتر، الفيسبوك, اليوتيوب وإينستاجرام في حربها النفسية جنبا على عمليتها العسكرية الأخيرة في قطاع غزة في أغسطس ٢٠١٤.

و الحرب الإعلامية ضدّ مشروع الطاقة النووية الإيراني متواجدة منذ حين و ما زالت منقوشة، و حولت انتباه الجمهور من إسرائيل التي أيضا تمتلك المواد النوية دون عائق.

و نشاهد حاليا الحرب الاعلامية المحتدمة ما بين النّطام السّوري و المعارضة السياسية المتعدّدة اللتي تروّج فيديوات عارضة عنف العدو لدعايتها و نزع الشرعية المتبادل عن بعض من خلال وسائل الاعلام الاجتماعية.

و أخيرا, واحد مثال حديث من حرب إعلامية هو التهويل و الاخطارية المنتشرة في وسائل الاعلام الايطالية عن الجهاديين في ليبيا و قربهم الجغرافي الحاضر من السّاحل الإيطالي. فعلا سبّب تركيز الأخبار عن القرب الجغرافي للجهاديين شعور قلق نفسي و تهديد في الجمهور, و يصنع الوهم أن البُعد لا يهدّد خلافا عن القُرب.

و يثبت مثال التسريبات المصرية في قناة “مكمّلين” التركية على ٧ فبراير الماضي استعباد الوسائل الاعلام للسلطة السياسية الشرعية أو غير الشرعية.

مع أن لم يتحقّق من أصالة تسجيلات الرائيس المصري عبد-الفتاح السيسي و مدير المكتب عبّاس كامل, من الضروري أن الدّول الخليجية تقبل بالأمر الواقع رغم أنه صدر تأكيد من أنصار الرئيس السيسي أن هذه التسجيلات ما هي الا تلفيق من اختراع جماعة الإخوان المسلمين.

و حسب التسجيل, قال السيسي: “إن مجلس التعاون الخليجي عنده المال مثل الأرز … يجب أن تكون لنا حصة مثل الأمريكيين”. و أيضا وصف عميد مكتب السيسي عبّاس كامل دول الخليج العربي، وخاصّة الكويت، بأنها “أنصاف دول”. و كلّ هذا له أثر سلبي على العلاقات القوية بين دول الخليج العربي, المملكة العربية السعودية و الرئيس المصري.

وأضاف كامل “أنّهم يعيشون حياة الهوى ويكون لهم أكوام من المال”، في حين أن الكويت لا تزال تدين لمصر على مشاركتها 35،000 جندي مصري لانقاذ الكويت في حرب الخليج الثانية ضدّ صدام حسّين. و عبّر كامل عن أسفه لأن مصر لم تتصرف مثل سوريا حافظ الأسد في ذلك الوقت, عندما اتخذت موقفا منفصلا. و هذا يشير الى ارتباط الحرب الاعلامية بالأحداث التاريخية الماضية و الحديثة.

و في ضوء هذه الأمثلة تستطيع الحرب الاعلامية أن تولّد “حرب نفسية” على الجمهور, و يهدف هذا نوع الحرب إلى تعزيز الفوضى وعدم الاستقرار على المستوى النفسي في المجتمع. إنّها ليست استراتيجية فعّالة للاعتقاد بأن السرد المضاد حول معلومات غير مؤَكّدة يكون كافيا أو مفيدا، وليس حتى لتصنيع دلائل جديدة لمعارضة الشائعات المنتشرة.

الخوف العام في كلّ الحلات نابع من القناعة المبرّرة بأن وسائل الإعلام تخلق الحقائق، و لا تعكس الواقع ببساطة.

ما ينبغي تجنبه في المستوى الاجتماعي هو التسبب في الشعور بالتهديد، من ناحية أمنية أو من حيث العزلة الإقليمية، وهو ما حاول تجنّبه كلّ بلد في تاريخ الشّرق الأوسط طوال العقود.

يفكّر فهد الشليمي، محلّل سياسي لمنتدى “سلام وأمن الخليج”, أن لا ينبغي على الدول بناء العلاقات الإقليمية و الاستراتيجية استنادا على القضايا الشّخصية. هذه هي الوسيلة اللتي من خلالها الحرب الإعلامية لن تؤثر النّاس والأمن في طريقة مباشرة، لأنّها تعمل على صنع فجوة بين انتشار المعلومات المزعومة و الواقع اليومي. و اذن يجب على العلاقات العالمية أن تكون مبنية على أساس المصالح المتبادلة.

الخطر الأكبر هو أن وسائل الإعلام تهمل وظيفتها الأصلية تدريجيا بينما كانت وظيفتها تمثيلا دقيقا وعلميا للأحداث الماضية و المعاصرة, و وإبلاغ المجتمع، فإن دور وسائل الاعلام أصعب وأصعب اجتماعيا.

.و تؤثرالفجوة الدّاخلية في التفكير و الايديولوجيا في المجتمعات العديدة على الثقة المتبادلة الإقليمية أيضا.

المراجع:

The Middle East Eye

http://www.middleeasteye.net/news/analysis-will-latest-leaks-rock-sisi-gulf-relationship-222943462http://www.middleeasteye.net/news/leaks-allege-egypts-sisi-despised-and-colluded-gulf-rulers-1777692691

http://www.middleeasteye.net/news/egypts-sisi-calls-4-gulf-leaders-following-alleged-leaks-1706820783

ar-Ra’iy al-Yom

http://www.raialyoum.com/?p=214748Al-Yom

Ilaf

http://www.elaph.com/Web/News/2015/2/981177.html

Ar-Raya

http://www.raya.com/news/pages/d3f13214-4804-42ac-a6a4-b830e23c287e

al-Jazeera English http://www.aljazeera.com/programmes/insidestory/2015/02/latest-audio-leaks-hurt-egypt-sisi-150208185720298.html

http://goo.gl/kN1yuy

The Conversation

http://theconversation.com/army-joins-the-social-media-war-with-psy-ops-brigade-37125

Di Maggio, A.R. (2008). Mass Media, Mass Propaganda. Examining American news in the War on Terror. Plymouth, UK: Lexington Books

Dobkin, B.A. (1992). Tales of Terror, Television News and the Construction of the Terrorist Threat. London, UK: Praeger

Lynch, J. (2011). “Can the centre hold? Prospects for mobilising media activism around public service broadcasting using peace journalism”. In Ibrahim Seaga Shaw, Jake Lynch and Robert Hackett (Eds.), Expanding Peace Journalism: comparative and critical approaches, (pp. 287-316). Sydney: Sydney University Press.

Manahan, B.A. (2010). The Shock of the News. Media Coverage and the Making of 9/11. NY: New York University Press

Manwaring, M.G. (2012). Venezuela as an Exporter of 4th Generation Warfare Instability. SSI Edition

Schechter, D. (2003). Media Wars. News at the Time of Terror. Oxford, UK: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers

Taylor, P.M. (1992). War and the Media: Propaganda and Persuasion in the Gulf War. Manchester, UK: Manchester University Press

Categories: Middle East | Tags: , , | Leave a comment

Review of four Arabic commentaries: what legitimacy of violence in the Syrian scenario?

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Last week I had discussed Marcel M. Baumann’s piece to reflect on the (im)possibility of a mutual understanding of violence in future Syria.

After two years since the outset of the Syrian revolution, Jadaliyya has published a few days ago a series of articles written in Arabic by four Syrian authors on the concept and role of violence in the Syrian scenario.

I provide here a brief overview of the main ideas contained in each of the four commentaries: they differ from each other in an extremely interesting way, in spite of their shared strong opposition to Asad’s regime.

My personal stance can be positioned between Dima Wanus and Hassan ‘Abbas ways of thinking: even non-violence always demands confrontation in time of conflict. And confrontation is an obligatory stage in the mobilisation and uprising processes. Indeed, if initial non-violent confrontation, on one side, did not lead to any results but cruel repression, on the other, the current violent confrontation should have been “organized” and directed; in the sense of being conceived into a wider political project that needs to dismantle a given power, which, by its very nature, would never annihilate itself.

http://www.jadaliyya.com/pages/index/10665/ديمة-ونوس_العنف-ليس-الحل-ولكن

Dima Wanus, in “Violence is not the solution but”:

By drawing on Frantz Fanon’s “The wretched of the Earth”, where violence was used to combat colonialism, Wanus recalls the idea of a silent violence that the regime has been using for 40 years (‘onf samit) in Syria, and the way this power used to confiscate identity under the guise of “laicism” (musadarat al hauiyya tahta shi’ar al ‘almaniyya). Peaceful coexistence was not just an inherent characteristic of Syrians, as it is generally said: people were oppressed in fact by fear and submissiveness (khauf wa istislam).

Violence, therefore, turns to be a necessary tool to face long date oppression, after the regime has used it as a depreciation of the dignity of its citizens (imtihan la kiramat al muwatin al sury). Nonetheless, to her mind, violence is not the solution. Peaceful revolution was not a possible option in this scenario. A revolution in the Syrian context, which totally needs to disrupt the continuity with respect to the past to realise itself, cannot be judged according to standardised social, ethical and moral criteria.

http://www.jadaliyya.com/pages/index/10671/أسامة-سعيد_بيان-العنف

Osama Sa’id in “Declaration of violence”:

Violence is used against the development of citizenship by the regime. The author speaks of the generalised violence in the Syrian context in terms of collective punishment (‘oqab jama’iyy): it is used against the sons of the national army, who are, in turn, under the control of the dictatorship. They have never been asked their opinion. They are just used to defend what they do not represent. And all these “state employers” have nothing but their job.

It is violence itself that led Syrians to such an extreme situation. Death does not sow but destruction (lughat al qatl wa al tankil allaty tazra’u al maut lan tahsud siwa al damar).

Revolutionaries, therefore, cannot act in the name of rights by using violence. He provides the examples of Afghanistan and Iraq to prove that violence has never brought any good.

Changes do not lie in blind killing (al taghiyyr la yatim by’l qatl al a’ma). He identifies in violence just a vicious circle of revenge and hatred. This has turned into a dangerous belief that the destruction of Syria is believed to have a “holy price”. The only positive aspect in the diffused violence is a new awareness in Syrian society (wa’y jadid).

A state is supposed to monopolise violence to be the only legitimate actor that controls it and uses it. In Syria instead, violence itself became State in order to have a frame in which it can be used.

In this way, it is the opponents that are blamed to have breached the responsibility for guaranteeing security, rather than the state.

In light of this, it is the non-violence of the opponents that should have created the strategic difference between the two fighting parts.

http://www.jadaliyya.com/pages/index/10664/محمد-العطار_هل-هناك-طرق-لم-تسلك-في-سوريا؟

Mohammed al ‘Attar, in “Are there ways that have not been taken yet in Syria?”:

The use of violence should have been discarded in the Syrian conflict on the side of the revolutionaries, as that was exactly what the regime wanted to achieve in its divide-and-rule strategy: the destruction of the country if the regime’s stability would have wavered. The current armed resistance is compared to a trap set by the regime itself (mujarrad uquw’ fy fakh yada’uhu an-nizam al hakim).

The current massive repression, after all, was something expectable, as it is coherent with the regime’s logic.

Moreover, the use of violence triggers new difficulties for future Syria, such as a likely future campaign for post-conflict disarmament. Nonetheless, many citizens that have had no choice but taking up the weapons, would abandon them very willingly to get back to their normal life.

It is not possible to cut the regime’s head once for all: these violent strategies are generating just further blood and chaos. In his viewpoint, therefore, the reforms were possible by using pacific means.

http://www.jadaliyya.com/pages/index/10670/حسن-عباس_معنى-العنف-وحدوده-

Hassan ‘Abbas, in “The meaning of violence and its limits”:

In presence of authoritarian regimes, it is not conceivable to make real changes without resorting to violence. Nonetheless, ‘Abbas makes a neat distinction between chaotic violence and violence as an organized instrument serving a cause.

The regime in power, by its own nature, would not eliminate itself. Violence, in fact, is the essence of power (al ‘onf hua jawhar as-sulta), and inherent to political conflicts.

In other words, when used to dismantle injustice, the use of violence can be considered legitimate. It remains, however, a temporary instrument that must be part of a wider structured project, a political program that will offer directions about what is next.

Categories: Syria | Tags: , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

4. Blogging and reporting on five months of revolution from Syria: Kamal Sheikho boycotts Semiramis meeting

Semiramis Meeting of the Syrian Opposition: why someone decided not to participate?

30 June 2011
kamal_sheikoHere I transcribe part of the interview I had with a prominent figure in the opposition, who is really close to Michel Kilo, Luay Hussein and the other intellectuals who took part in the Semiramis meeting on June 27. I won’t name him because of security reasons, I will call him Ala*, since he has spent enough of his time in jail for his ideas. In 2010 Ala has been jailed for more than 8 months and he protested against his detention through a long hunger strike. After having been released in 2011, he spent only few days free to join the ongoing protests, but now he is out and resolute to pursue his struggle. Ala is still participating in demonstrations. He is an independent dissident not tied to any political party
.Q: What can you say about the status of human rights in Syria at the moment?
A: There are more than 1300 dead, 10.000 refugees in Turkey, 1000 in Lebanon, more than 13000 arrested since the 16 of March [the symbolic date in which protests started], more than 4000 wounded by undefined gangs [often referred to as shabbiha] and many people kidnapped.
The regime thinks it can keep on stifling demonstrations by violence, whereas protesters have asked the end to violence first of all. The regime thinks by killing the demonstrators people will go back home and won’t ask neither reforms nor to change the system.
QMilitary repression is the strategy adopted by the Syrian regime. What about those rumors which have been circulating about increasing division withing the armed forces, particularly along sectarian [sunni-shi’a] lines?
A: No, this is not the case, we are talking only about individual choices and low-ranking officers, when we speak about defections. There has been no relevant defection, I mean a phalanx or a brigade, as it happened in Libya or Yemen. While I was in prison, I heard the story of the division between the Fourth and the Fifth Brigade [the Fourth Brigade is the one headed by Maher al-Assad, the brother of the President] but I don’t believe it. In reality, we are not allowed to know what is currently happening within the Syrian army, because of the high secrecy surrounding this information. We don’t know if there are sectarian divisions.
Q: What is your evaluation of the current status of the Syrian uprising?
A: We have now entered in a phase of civil disobedience. Some call it a revolution, a protest, I call it a civil disobedience. Syrians have been 40 years under this regime. What is happening now is that a part of the Syrian people has said no, this is what I define as a civil disobedience. Naturally, we cannot compare our condition with Egypt or Tunisia, even if Syria is part of the Middle East.
From 2000, when Bashar took power, what his father was doing he started to do it, without any sort of difference in interior affairs. He preserved the ban on demonstrations, the imprisonment of dissidents, the security state, the ban on political associations and so on.
Q: What about the Damascus Spring in 2000?
A: The Damascus Spring was promoted by a group of intellectuals, -more or less the same ones who have participated now in the Semiramis meeting- who asked for limited political reforms and the end of the single-party system. The ruling regime refused the proposals and imprisoned 10 opposition leaders, with sentences ranging from 3 to 10 years: Dr. Aref Dalila was sentenced to 10 years in jail.
Then we went through another crisis, the so-called Damascus-Beirut Declaration in 2006, which called for the normalization of relations between Lebanon and Syria. I was among the signatories and, together with other intellectuals, I was once again arrested.
At the end of 2007, when the signatories of the Damascus Declaration (2005) held a meeting in the Syrian capital, 11 figures of the opposition were arrested. I mean that there have always been arrest campaigns and long sentences under this regime. In 2005, Dr. Kamal Labwani, only for having given some interviews to satellite TV channels in England, France and the US, was arrested and sentenced to 12 years, upon his return in Syria.
All these events created among a Syrians a big bubble waiting to explode. We were in need of the Tunisian revolution to break that glass, which we have been afraid of crashing so far. People took the streets to ask for the end of the state of fear the Mukhabarat have been able to create.
Q: Actually, the main impression I had, while talking with people who take part in demonstrations, is that their uprising is first of all an act of rebellion against the power of the Mukhabarat. Do you agree?
A: Bashar and his father have been ruling this country by the strength of the security forces. There have never been democratic elections: the presidential elections take now place through a popular referendum and not trough regular elections, after the Constitution has been amended for this purpose.
Even the 10 parties, members of the National Progressive Front together with the ruling Ba’th Party, are scared to say a single word differing from the position of the Ba’th Party.
Q: Even the Syrian Social Nationalist Party (SSNP)? I personally got to know some young members of the party, who are taking distances from the official positions of the party, claiming also to respect the opposition legacy of their political history.
A: No, absolutely no. I talk as an individual dissident, I met with leaders of the SSNP and they are not dissidents, on the contrary, even historically the party has never been opposed to the regime.Q: What is the future of the Syrian uprising after more than 100 days from the beginning of demonstrations?A:I think the government has dragged Syria to a point of no-return. Why? If the government and the opposition had accepted small concessions in the beginning, thus reaching an agreement, then we might have been able to avoid what happened later on and these big figures of martyrs. For this reason, personally I cannot go back, I walk towards the collapse of the regime. If this revolution fails and Bashar al-Assad stays in power, I told the other dissidents many times that, even after 10 years of political activism, I will resign and leave politics forever. It is necessary to depose the current regime to start building a new modern Syrian city-state.

Q: Some of the youth participating to the demonstrations is getting upset by the slow, bloody pace of the revolution. There are people increasingly convinced of being more helpful by leaving the country and coordinating the struggle against the regime from abroad. Some believe that Syria might not be ready for a successful revolution and maybe it still needs time to overthrow the political elites. Are you more optimistic?

A: We cannot affirm whether three months are enough or not for a successful revolution in Syria. In Egypt three weeks were enough, in Tunisia one month. I think the Syrian situation is currently intertwined with the fate of two other regimes, which are supposed to collapse: Yemen and Libya. If one of these three dictators falls, then you’ll see the other ones following him. I think the situation is really similar to what happened in Eastern Europe in the 80’s. Poland started a 8 years-long successful uprising in 1982, when the Soviet Union was still a strong regime, following the example of Bulgarian and Romanian dissidents, who rose up first against totalitarianism. The effect of the downfall of another regime would be to encourage the rebels to insist and succeed in their revolution. Ok, If I was the Syrian President, and I listen now to the words of the streets, I wouldn’t feel myself exposed to the risk of ending like Mubarak in Egypt [being prosecuted in a court]. But I think that in the near future, the Syrian streets will become intransigent and call for the accountability of Bashar and high officials in his government. Because the Syria regime will continue with brutal repression, the people will start to ask to put on trial the President.

Q: Don’t you think that Bashar al-Assad is more popular in Syria, if compared with other rulers like Ali Abdallah Saleh and Qaddhafi?

A:No, absolutely no. Those joining rallies in support of the regime do this exclusively out of terror and fear of the future. They don’t trust the opposition, they believe the downfall of the regime will lead to a civil war, to a Lebanon-like scenario.

Q: And you don’t consider likely the possibility that the uprising will turn into a civil war?

A: No, I totally exclude this. I read Syrian history very well. We have numerous ethnicity and religious sects, but, historically, there has never been a single war between these communities. The situation in Syria differs from the one in Lebanon or in other Middle Eastern countries. In Islamic history, Damascus has been the capital of the ‘Ummayad Caliphate (661-750 AD) and, even in those times, fitna (sectarian strife) has never erupted. The regime describes the current events as sectarian strife to scare people, but this is not the reality on the ground.

Q: It happened to me to talk with some Sunni demonstrators, who clearly expressed their resentment towards Alawis in a way, which easily exceeds the hatred for the Ba’th regime to become pure religious hate. How do you comment on this aspect? Is there a risk of sectarian killings targeting Alawis, in case the revolution succeeds?

A: This is nothing more than a personal view, which has nothing to do with the Syrian situation. We don’t accept this way of thinking. There is a vision and among the opposition leaders, who will lead the transitional phase, there are personalities, who will not allow sectarian strife. I am not telling you there are no people willing to take revenge on other sects, but they are limited cases. Syria is composed of geographical areas mixed with regards to sectarian distribution and this has allowed everyone to get to know the cultural ‘Other’. To have the risk of sectarian strife, you need sectarian icons, figures representative of their sects. Now mention me one personality in Syria who is able to say: “I speak in the name of the Alawis, Sunnis, etc.”…Even Bashar al-Assad is not able to say: “I am an Alawi”, he is used to say: “I am the President of Syria.” On the other side, opposition prominent figures like Aref Dalila are Alawis and, in the same way, he doesn’t identify himself according to the sect.

Q: So you don’t think there is a sort of resentment towards the Alawis, due to their ties with the regime?

A: No, and I tell you why: many of the opposition leaders incarcerated in the past years are Alawis. The problem is that the poor status of our politics and the lack of cooperation among opposition groups have led Kurds, for example, to think that Alawi are privileged compared to them. The Kurd doesn’t know that the Alawi is even more oppressed than him: there are Alawi dissidents who have been jailed for 30 years. And the same goes for other minorities like Christians, if you think of Anwar al-Bunni and Michel Kilo. The regime is repressive on all Syrian citizens.

Q: What is your position on the meeting organized by the opposition in Damascus, at the Semiramis Hotel, on June 27? Why you didn’t participate to it?

A:The meeting was conceived only to gather under one roof the independent opposition leaders and express their position towards the regime and their support for peaceful demonstrations. Personally, I think it was a positive step and I share the ideas of the organizers. However it was not a ‘well studied’ step, it was organized hastily and, in fact, protests took place against this meeting. I didn’t receive any invitation for this meeting, because they knew perfectly that I wouldn’t have attended the gathering. At the beginning of the preparations for the meeting, I told to my friends, Michel Kilo, Luay Hussein and Fayez Sarah, who were organizing it: “Are you going to ask for the resignations of the President?” They told me: “No”. Then I replied them: “I cannot attend the meeting, because now there is a big proportion of the Syrian people, I won’t say everyone, who is calling for the downfall of the regime, and you cannot claim to represent the streets, if you don’t report the words of the streets.” I told the organizers personally that I don’t believe in diplomacy at this step, it is either you are the voice of the streets or you are not the opposition

Q: Are you still going to collaborate with these opposition leaders in the future?

A: Sure, I will participate in their meetings when there will be a clear vision and a shared agreement.

Q: So do you think diplomacy is useless at this stage? What about those dissidents who would approve armed resistance against the regime?

A: I am absolutely against the use of weapons. For sure, I don’t want neither my son nor my grandson to live under such a regime. It is about becoming a democratic, modern and developed country, if this won’t happen, then we don’t have to consider diplomacy. Politics is about listening to the people and implementing their will, diplomacy is about listening to the people, but implementing what is deemed more convenient. I don’t agree with this rule. The essential meaning of terms like ‘law’ and ‘democracy’ are unknown to everyone, hence the meaning of diplomacy has to change as well and become the implementation of people demands. The opposition which gathered in Semiramis is actually telling the people: “We are in front of a strong regime and we fear the failure of the revolution, therefore we have to accept limited gains and build the Syrian future on them.” They believe in the possibility of a political solution with the regime staying in power. What this will mean? The government preserving its security apparatus and allowing the opposition to have a few seats in the Parliament? Have them participating in local councils? I don’t think it’s enough. We, the opposition, need first to reverse the balance of power with the regime. This approach doesn’t convince me. For me it’s either the collapse of the regime or the failure of the revolution.

* ‘Ala is Kamal Sheikho. At the time I was worried about protecting my sources, but Kamal has published enough articles under his  real name, so that there is no need to conceal his identity anymore.

Categories: Kurdistan, Syria | Tags: , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

3. Blogging and reporting on five months of revolution from Syria: 5-6 June 2011, Golan to Yarmuk: Palestinians joining the Syrian uprising?

5-6 June 2011, Golan to Yarmuk: Palestinians joining the Syrian uprising?

28 June 2011
yarmouk unrwa bannerWhat really happened between the 5th and the 6th of June among the Palestinians of the refugee camp of Yarmuk in Damascus? Everything started on May 15, the first initiative launched to commemorate the Nakba on May 18, when some Palestinians refugees living in Syria were shot dead by the IDF, while attempting to break in the Israeli borders from the occupied Golan Heights. Even though protests were coordinated by Palestinian activists from Lebanon to Syria to Palestine itself, the Syrian regime promoted the rally with the ultimate aim to deflect attention from the internal uprising. On the 5th of June, the Syrian authorities were even more keen on organizing the Naqsa commemoration along the same lines, transforming the recurrence into another Israeli bloodshed of Palestinians at the border. But this time events developed in an unexpected way for the Syrians.
On June 13, I had the chance to talk with residents of the Yarmuk Palestinian refugee camp in Damascus, particularly with Abu Bassem, actively involved in one of the main youth groups inside the camp. Abu Bassem is currently risking to be incarcerated once again by the security forces, because of the outspoken position he took after the events of June 5.
He recalls perfectly the events occurred the night between the 4th and the 5th, when the PFLP (headed by Taher Maher) stood aside while the PFLP-General Command (Qiyada al-‘Amma), the Syrian watchdog in the Palestinian camps, came to gather participants for the Naqsa initiative, helped by the Syrian security forces. Abu Bassem and his group patrolled the camp all night long to prevent anyone dragging people to die at the border, but it was all in vain, since the two PFLP factions helped the Syrians to find secondary routes to enter the camp.
On Monday (June 6), during the funerals celebrated in Yarmuk for the Palestinians fallen under the Israeli fire the day before, some members of the PFLP-GC came to condole with the families of the martyrs, but they were told to leave the procession immediately, being considered the main culprits for the deaths. The reaction of the PFLP-GC was that some of his militiamen started shooting in the air and chaos erupted in Yarmuk. The office of the PFLP-GC was set on fire and several residents were shot dead during the clashes.
Young Palestinians like Abu Bassem are increasingly taking distances from the Palestinian traditional factions, following a widespread trend in the whole Middle East, where the youth is challenging old political elites. According to the videos published on Electronic Intifada, people in Yarmuk were shouting: “the people want the downfall of the factions” (as-sha’b yuridu isqat al-tafasil), echoing the slogans of the Arab Spring (the people want the downfall of the regime/ as-sha’b yuridu isqat al-nizam). “We know the historical leadership of the PFLP and the current one in Palestine, but we don’t know anything about who are these figures leading the party in Yarmuk,” complains Abu Bassem, “they are only good at appearing on Al-Dunya and As-Suriya [Syrian National TV channels]. For this reason, the group Abu Bassem belongs to, remains independent, which in his words is exactly the feature Palestinian political cadres are scared of. For these reasons, Abu Bassem’s group is planning a Third Intifada against Israel, independent from political parties and religious affiliations: it will be the Intifada of the refugees, based exclusively on the right of return.
Palestinian participation to the Syrian uprising went almost unnoticed so far. In the case of Abu Bassem’s group, and probably of other secular groups, the rejection of any religious affiliation has determined the refusal to join demonstrations at the end of the Friday Prayer. Secondly, even though Abu Bassem’s organization is in touch with the Syrian opposition, they avoided to take sides until now. “In the end, as Palestinians, even if we consider the Syrian ‘resistance discourse’ extremely hypocritical and we are not happy with our status of refugees here,” pointed out Abu Bassem, “that’s all we have and we cannot jeopardize the benefits enjoyed in this hosting country.” Yarmuk is probably the best Palestinian camp in Syria, Abu Bassem is fully aware of this: houses are decent, worth market prices and there is continuous energy. A luxury compared to the Lebanese camps! In general, despite restrictions on land ownership, Palestinians in Syria are fully entitled to government services, education and employment, with good opportunities to find the means to move out of the camps: remarkable concessions, if compared with the state of Palestinians in other Middle Eastern states.
Nonetheless, what happened on June 5, could have shifted the balance in the position of Palestinians towards the regime. “They killed our people, they sell our blood at the border,” says Abu Bassem. This is nothing new to him, as he goes on saying: “the biggest harm to the Palestinian cause remain Arab regimes.” Actually, even if it appears less known to those defending a priori the Syrian anti-Zionist resistance, history is full of episodes when Syrian uncompromising commitment to the Palestinian cause looked contradictory, from the Lebanese Civil War to the almost achieved peace with Israel in 2000. Not without mentioning Rami Makhluf’s recent declarations about the essential contribution of the Ba’th regime to Israeli stability.
What is clear is that Syria cannot afford to lose the Palestinians now, it would be a fatal blow to its propaganda. “They are scared of seeing us taking sides against them and even willing to remove Ahmad Jibril [the leader of the PFLP-GC] from his post, if this can help securing Palestinian support,” this is the streets’ voice in Yarmuk, according to Abu Bassem.

A few days ago, I met again with Abu Bassem. He told me the Syrian mukhabarat are still watching over him, because of his active participation in the camp’s uprising again the PFLP-GC. Once again, Syrian support to Palestinians appears selective and based on national interests, rather than on a ‘just cause’.

Interesting Links:

On the legal status of Palestinians in Syria:

The events of Yarmuk reported by Electronic Intifada:

Appendix on Yarmuk

I felt I should have included this as well, it’s a brief talk I had with another resident of Yarmuk…
After a while we were sitting talking in the restaurant, a veteran of the camp, Ghassan, joined us for a drink. He has a seasoned communist look…large red shirt falling out of some blue jeans, long gray hair tied back and remarkable beard. “Well, nowadays, if they stop me is because they think I am a Salafist ’cause of the beard, but then they realize I have blue jeans and they put me in jail anyway…as a communist!” He goes on poking fun at the rumors spread by the government about supposed armed ‘vandals’ (mukharribin)infiltrated in the camp, pointing out how there are only 35 kalashnikov in Yarmuk (a normal quantity for a Palestinian camp with different factions inside), but the Syrian authorities are fabricating the need of security to legitimize further intervention in the camp. For example, they are suggesting that mukharribin are entering Yarmuk from the neighboring area of Hajar al-Sawda.
With regards to the main political stakeholder in the camp, Hamas, the fact that it did not take a clear position on the unrest has extremely upset Damascus, according to Ghassan, but, at the same time, the Ba’th regime doesn’t seem concerned even about losing bigger allies, as it is evident from the exacerbated relations with Turkey. The unique priority is to gain the upper hand in the repression.

This is also evident by the recent opening to the opposition, embodied in the ‘National Dialogue’ initiative, which has not implied a contemporary end to violent repression

Categories: Palestine, Syria | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Nasawiya: obstacles on the road to gender equality in Lebanon (in Arabic)

we can do it arabo femministaAn article I wrote back in October 2010, it was published in the November issue of Hibr. Unfortunately Hibr ceased to exist online some months ago, it was a great English-Arabic project putting together many young Lebanese reporters and I had the chance to publish a couple of articles. This one was more of a test to publish something in Arabic, but the topic was worth the attention of anyone interested in Middle Eastern gender movements: I met with Farah Salka, general coordinator of the feminist collective Nasawiya

نسوية: العقبات على طريق التمكين الجنسي في لبنان

نسوية مجموعة ناشطة منذ عام ٢٠٠٨ تضم رجالاً ونساء وتعنى بقضايا العدل الجنسي وحماية حقوق المرأة والمساواة بين الرجال والنساء. بحسب فرح سالكا، المنسقة العامة لنسوية، لا توجد رتب أو مجلس إدارة داخل المجموعة فكل الحملات تنتج عن قرار يؤخذ عبر مناقشة يشارك فيها الجميع.

نسوية مسؤولة عن مشروع “غيري عادتك وبتزيد سعادتك”، الذي يقوم على إجراء ورشات عمل حول كيفية نشر الأفكار النسائية في كل لبنان. تشرح سالكا أنّ “نسوية تنظم هذه الدورات التدريبية عن مواضيع مثل وسائل الاعلام الإجتماعية والعنف المنزلي بحسب الطلب”، وتشير إلى أن “غيري عادتك وبتزيد سعادتك” تجاوز حدود بيروت ليصل الى أفقر المناطق في لبنان.

النسائية بالنسبة لنسوية هي “عامل تغيير في المجتمع”، إضافة إلى اختيارها العلمانية طريقاً واضحاً لتغيير “النظام الطائفي” في لبنان. تعتبر سالكا بأن السبب الرئيسي لظاهرة عدم المساواة بين الجنسين في لبنان هي سيطرة المؤسسات الدينية على قانون الأحوال الشخصية.

يرفض العديد من النساء أن يعتبرن نسائيات، لأنهنّ يعتبرن أنّ صراع النسائيات هو ضد كل الرجال وليس ضد الحكم الذكوري. ورفضت بعض الباحثات، مثل أمينة ودود وفاطمة مرنيسي، إرث النسائية الغربية وحاولن مكافحة الحكم الذكوري من المنظور الإسلامي.

و بغضّ النظر عن الهويات المتنوعة الدينية والعلمانية الموجودة في نسوية تقبل سالكا تأثير النسائية الغربية والمضمون المشترك لنضالها مع نضال الحركات النسائية في الغرب.

بكل الاحوال ,على الرغم من ان مكافحة الحكم الذكوري هو في وسط حملات نسوية، من غير المرجّح أنّ يحقق هذا النهج نتائج فورية خصوصاً في المناطق الفقيرة التي تسيطر عليها الاُمّية والتديّن.

بالإضافة إلى ذلك، تشجّع سالكا تعاون نسوية مع منظمات الدفاع عن حقوق الأقليات – المهاجرون، اللاجئون الفلسطينيون، بائعات الهوا- وهي تدعو المجتمع المدني إلى مضافرة جهوده في هذه المسألة. موقف سالكا واضح وثابت “الفكرة النسائية على خلاف مع أي نوع من التمييز”.

لا تحظى النساء على الساحة السياسية  سوى بمساحة ضيقة فهناك 4 نساء فقط في البرلمان، وتشكو سالكا أيضاً من النساء داخل البرلمان اللواتي لا تعرن أي اهتمام لقضايا التمييز ضد المرأة ولا يرفعن لواء المساواة، مؤكدة ان الطريق السياسي مغلق أمام كل ناشطة نسائية بدون وساطات ودفع الأموال.

 في الختام, طالما أنّ السلطة باقية في أيادي القوات القوى السياسية المحافظة، يجب على المجتمع المدني مضاعفة جهوده ونسوية عنصر فاعل ومهم في تعزيز هذا المجتمع في وجه السلطة السياسية المتحجرة.

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

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