In 1986, a year after his abduction and experiencing the barbarism he has discussed and analyzed in his writings on Syria, Michel Seurat died in the southern suburb of Beirut, the Lebanese capital which was devastated by civil war and the grip of the Syrian Intelligence services.
Today, we remember his texts that have been compiled in the second edition of his book “The State of Barbarism”, with their ingenuity and pertinence, even though it has been three decades since they were first published.
In the context of the ongoing Syrian Revolution, we can contemplate two issues he addressed in his texts: the “Asabiyya” and “The conflict between Society and State”.
Perhaps the best invention to come out of Facebook is the clicking on “like” to express admiration, appreciation, love, compassion, and acknowledgement or to show courtesy or all these combined. This small link, the “like”, can be used for a “page”, a person, a cause, a book or an event as well as when coming across a photo or following reading a comment or post, or even a comment on a comment or a post. It becomes addictive after getting used to it as one feels an urgent desire to have such a tool in hand, clicking it in secret and suddenly bringing it out if he/she likes something or someone or a voice or a speech or any scene whether he/she is walking down the street, at home, university, a café or any other place. Furthermore, one can imagine a society armed with the “like” links which can be clicked left, right and centre, and released in celebrations which convey “on the ground” a communal sense of unity in emotions and excitation.
More than a year has passed since the start of the Syrian revolution demanding freedom, dignity and the departure of the Assad family. Over ten thousand dead, a hundred thousand injured and more than 40 thousand refugees fled to Turkey, Lebanon, and Jordon as well as about a hundred and fifty thousand citizens who were arrested, twenty thousand of them are still in detention. All this in addition to damages to property and infrastructure and the systematic destruction of many regions.
The original article in French can be read here. An Arabic text is also available here.
Tens of reports have been published by various human rights organisations including Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International, the United Nations Council for Human Rights, and Médecins Sans Frontières documenting verified cases and eye witness accounts. All these, as well as films and interviews conducted with doctors, activists, and defected soldiers ascertain that atrocities and violations are being carried out in Syria which can be classified as crimes against humanity.
How did despotism succeed in subjugating Syria during the Hafez Al-Assad’s era?
This article attempts to analyse the foundations of a despotic regime in order to understand the reasons underlying its success in exerting its control over a country, crippling political life, taming people, and maintaining its rule for many years. The article will take the Syrian regime between 1970 (the year of the “Correction Movement” which led Hafez Al-Assad to presidency) to 2000 (the year the president died) as a case study.
It is important to note that several aspects concerning the analysis of the father’s era and the study of the Syrian society under his rule are outdated and no longer relevant when analysing Syria during the last few years. In addition, the Syrian revolution brought into the light new events with regard to the regime’s alliances and the structure of society, which have been dealt with by a number of Syrian writers (and some of them still do), and whose documentation and analysis will require additional time.
On the origins of the “Baath” regime rule of Syria
The leading reason that explains Syrian regime’s success in taming public life, including all forms of political participation, social activities and civil conduct, is its ability to