Weekly Media Digest (June 14)

Curated Reading List

SyriaUntold brings you a new edition of our digest. We want to share with you the features, investigative pieces and long-form essays that we read and thought would interest you.

14 June 2019

Fadi Al Hamwi, Baladyé, 2013

An independent media platform advancing critical perspectives on Syria and Syrians.

The UN Made a List of Hospitals in Syria. Now They’re Being Bombed (The Century Foundation)

Aron Lund writes about the deliberate attacks on hospitals in rebel-held areas by the Syrian regime and Russia, many of those hospitals shared their coordinates with Russia under a UN-run system referred to as "humanitarian deconfliction". Lund analyses international law concerning targeting medical facilities.

"According to Amnesty International, Syrian and Russian government forces have “deliberately and systematically” targeted medical personnel as part of a military strategy to wreak havoc in insurgent-held areas and trigger civilian displacement.6 Both governments deny the charge, because what it amounts to is a serious violation of international humanitarian law—in other words, a war crime."

Underestimating the Global Impact of the Syrian War (The Atlantic Council)

Ambassador Frederic C. Hof writes in details about the American policies in Syria since the beginning of the war. He argues that the regime's crimes against civilians, and the fact they were mostly met with silence in the West, constitute the main recruiting tool for ISIL and Al-Qaeda.

"Syrians struggling to establish civil society, rule of law, and decent local governance in areas beyond regime control must deal not only with a homicidal regime, but with the criminals of HTS and those of other non-governmental, armed sectarian actors. Moreover, HTS harbors individuals fully prepared to engage in acts of transnational terrorism, while ISIL—with tens of thousands of armed activists still at large—long ago demonstrated its willingness and ability to cause mass casualty events in Turkey, France, and Belgium. Indeed, with what appears to be an international franchise-like system inspired in considerable measure by the Assad regime’s homicidal focus on Sunni Muslim populations in rebel-controlled areas, ISIL inspires massacres (such as the Sri Lanka Easter atrocities) around the globe. The Assad regime has helped catalyze an Islamist terror threat global in scope."

Syrians mourn Abd al-Basset al-Sarout, 'the revolution's nightingale' (Middle East Monitor)

Abdelbaset Sarout was 19 when the Syrian uprising erupted in 2011, the promising goalkeeper became a demonstration leader and led the crowds in chanting. His songs and anthems were much loved, but as the uprising turned into a war, Sarout became a rebel fighter, and he fought for years until his death in Hama countryside last week. The regime supporters accused him of being a terrorist, and his connection to Islamists caused much debate, but he undoubtedly remains one of the leading influencers behind the Syrian revolution.

"The majority of the songs that Sarout sang as the unofficial bard of the uprising glorified those killed by the Syrian government – estimated in the hundreds of thousands – and called for them to be immortalised and grieved over.
In his most famous song, “For Your Eyes Homs We Offer Our Spirits”, Sarout sang that armed struggle is the only way to be free of injustice, echoing his own transformation from peaceful protester to armed fighter."

Syrian refugees in Lebanon camp forced to destroy homes ( France 24 )

Lebanon is a home for 1.5 million Syrian refugees, nearly a million are registered as refugees with the United Nations High Commission for Refugees. The Lebanese government has repeatedly said it refuses to allow temporary tent settlements to become permanent housing, and recently ordered around 35,000 Syrian refugees to demolish their own residences after it was built up. 

"Keen not to encourage Syrian refugees to settle permanently, the Lebanese government had given Arsal refugees until June 9 to demolish shelters made of other materials than timber and plastic sheeting.
On Monday, the deadline was extended to the end of the month, but Abu Mohamed was already busy tearing down the single room he and his family called home for several years.
"We lived in this room, we were content. We told ourselves that some people dream of having a shelter like this one," said the 37-year-old with a short coarse beard.
He and his wife and their five children have already moved into a friend's nearby tent, together with other refugees.
"The tent is tiny, barely big enough for them. Now we're four families in there, with a total of 16 children," said Abu Mohamed, a red and white headscarf protecting him from the sun."

Syria’s New Assad Statues Send a Sinister Message: ‘We Are Back’ (The Atlantic)

Sam Dagher writes about the return of Hafez al-Assad and Basel al-Assad statues in areas retaken by the regime; mainly Daraa and Deir Ezzor. He argues it is to reestablish dominance and send the locals a clear message that the regime has won. 

"Bringing back the statues and the billboards is the Assads’ way of telling once-rebellious communities that any further resistance is futile. Their return affirms the message that the Assad family prevailed despite the enormous cost: more than half a million dead, massive destruction and population displacement, an economy in tatters, a fractured country and society, and a regime that can only survive with the support of foreign patrons like Iran and Russia.
“The message is very straightforward,” Steven Heydemann, the director of the Middle East studies program at Smith College and a leading Syria expert, told me. “We are back.”

This work is under a Creative Commons license. Attribution: Non commercial - ShareAlike 4.0. International license

Illustation by Dima Nechawi Graphic Design by Hesham Asaad