Civil Society and Local Governance

  • Al-Qaeda Wants to Establish an Emirate in Syria, but Not Now

    There have recently been reports warning that the Nusra Front, an al-Qaeda affiliated group in Syria, is determined to declare its own Islamic emirate in Syria in the near future, but these warnings are likely jumping the gun. The argument goes that Nusra’s long term objective is establishing an Islamic emirate in Syria, but unlike the Islamic State (ISIS), they want to do so by winning the hearts and minds of the people. Two main obstacles prevent the Nusra from doing so: Nusra’s affiliation with al-Qaeda, many of whose members do not support the establishment of a caliphate, and most Syrians’ objection to the idea.

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  • #5YearsWeFled: The Beginning of a New Journey

    This series is from interviews with the lawyer Ayman Jalwan. It highlights the difficult choice that Syrians face—dying in the war zone that Syria had become, or flee the land he loved. Last year, he and his wife said goodbye to their families and joined the wave of citizens leaving the country. First they had to make it to Turkey. Then they needed to cross the cold Mediterranean to Greece. After that, they would have to deal with human traffickers in Eastern Europe to reach one of the few nations willing to welcome them: Germany. In this blogs series, Ayman Jalwan explains the decision to leave, the trials he and his wife encountered along the way, and the consequences of their decision.

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  • Between the Jurisprudence of Blood and the Management of Savagery: Islamic State Advances Terror Methods

    Ever since the Hollywood-style execution of US journalist James Foley, the Islamic State (ISIS) continues to surprise those that analyze the group with its criminal propaganda throughout the world. On close scrutiny, the Hollywood-style executions by the Islamic State are not just a way to humiliate and celebrate the pain of its enemies, but are the forefront of a mentality that targets local and international publics. To begin to understand and analyze these phenomena, we should revert back to the original source from which the Islamic State sprang.

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  • In the Wake of the Jabla and Tartous Bombings

    The explosions on Monday, May 23 killed up to 150 people in the cities of Jabla and Tartous, in an attack that surprised both the regime and opposition. For the last three years, the opposition has launched missile strikes against these coastal cities without causing the same level of damage, at most killing a few civilians and a times targeting the airport before Russia turned it into a military base.

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  • #5YearsWeFled: Syrian Hospitality

    We were warned about Hungary: my friends had warned me that it was very dangerous there, and that the authorities in Hungary are really bad to refugees. I had heard this from my friends who traveled through before us: they were arrested in Hungary and put in jail for one month. The authorities beat them, took their clothes and searched them, stole their money—everything you can imagine.

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  • Political Development as a Response to the Conflict in Syria

    Of the five aspects of development, projects in Syria lack focus on political development, favoring projects of a social, economic, cultural, or environmental nature. In Syria, the spread of selective economic and social services projects without any political development component hinders development work from supporting the resolution of the larger conflict in Syria and sub-conflicts. The absence of political development cannot be offset with a strong economy or social services.

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  • #5YearsWeFled: From Border to Border

    This series is from interviews with the lawyer Ayman Jalwan. It highlights the difficult choice that Syrians face—dying in the war zone that Syria had become, or flee the land he loved. Last year, he and his wife said goodbye to their families and joined the wave of citizens leaving the country. First they had to make it to Turkey. Then they needed to cross the cold Mediterranean to Greece. After that, they would have to deal with human traffickers in Eastern Europe to reach one of the few nations willing to welcome them: Germany. In this blogs series, Ayman Jalwan explains the decision to leave, the trials he and his wife encountered along the way, and the consequences of their decision.

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  • Fighting ISIS and the Regime with Renewable Energy

    All parties in the Syrian conflict have used siege tactics to destroy infrastructure and force opponents into submission; a tactic predominantly used by the regime and its allies. Meanwhile, civilians in besieged areas struggle to find alternatives sources for essential services such as waste disposal, potable water, and electricity. With the support of local opposition councils and civil society organizations, Syrians have developed alternative energy sources, including solar energy and biogas, and also rediscovered traditional sources of fuel such as pomace.

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  • #5YearsWeFled: Giving Up Our Dignity for the Future

    This series is from interviews with the lawyer Ayman Jalwan. It highlights the difficult choice that Syrians face—dying in the war zone that Syria had become, or flee the land he loved. Last year, he and his wife said goodbye to their families and joined the wave of citizens leaving the country. First they had to make it to Turkey. Then they needed to cross the cold Mediterranean to Greece. After that, they would have to deal with human traffickers in Eastern Europe to reach one of the few nations willing to welcome them: Germany. In this blogs series, Ayman Jalwan explains the decision to leave, the trials he and his wife encountered along the way, and the consequences of their decision.

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  • Books as Weapons of Resistance

    Amer turns the pages of a book. He is sitting in the hallways of an underground library where he creates a world for himself far away from the outside world above. Holding a copy of Commentary on the Mu’allaqat, he explains that he feels that his soul is full of poetry. Despite the sounds of war outside, the characters of the poems leave the pages and excite his imagination, taking him to another place. In this way, he can ignore the shelling and death that surround him.

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