Weekly media digest

Rami Makhlouf's downfall, vaccines for refugees in Jordan, and a literary salute to Beirut

SyriaUntold brings you the latest edition of our digest. We want to share with you the news, features, investigative pieces and long-form essays that we're reading this week.

22 January 2021

Illustration by Rami Khoury

Rami Makhlouf: Waiting for the Mahdi (Daraj)

“The beginning of the end for Rami Makhlouf started when his aunt, Anisa Makhlouf, the mother of Bashar Al-Assad, passed away. This resulted in the leadership in the Republican Palace shifting from Anisa Makhlouf to Asma Al-Assad, who seems to be working on restructuring the Syrian economy.

There are no crucial new developments regarding the crisis between Rami Makhlouf and Asma Al-Assad, which erupted last summer, except for the fact that Makhlouf appeared in the public sphere, three times even, thereby implicitly indicating that he is helpless regarding what Assad did to him.” Read more

Syria says will import more fuel to cover shortfalls hit by sanctions (Reuters)

Related articles
Murder, and the burden of proof

06 January 2021
Murder turned into an act of self-defense, in which the regime and international community embarked on a selfish battle of describing the crime using terms such as civil war, the...
Strategies for rebellion: A queer reading of the Syrian revolution

06 October 2020
"To be queer in the revolution means that you have to remain silent as if you yourself were responsible for all the massacres, shelling and displacement, while no one seems...

“Syria said on Sunday it would import more crude oil to cover fuel shortages it blames on Western sanctions that disrupted regular Iranian oil shipments that had for years compensated for the country’s loss of domestic oil production as a result of conflict.

The sanction-hit country has over the past year faced months of gasoline and fuel shortages, forcing it to ration supplies distributed across government-held areas and to apply several rounds of steep price hikes.” Read more

Syria’s hidden hand in Lebanon’s port explosion (Foreign Policy)

“New information suggests that the thousands of tons of ammonium nitrate that exploded at the Port of Beirut on Aug. 4, killing more than 200 people and doing some $15 billion in property damage, may have been intended for the Syrian government. The Lebanese government’s official story until now has been that the cargo’s destination was Mozambique. But an investigation by a Lebanese filmmaker that was aired on the local network Al Jadeed has established a link between three Syrian businessmen who backed Bashar al-Assad in the Syrian war and what appears to be a shell company that bought the explosives.” Read more

Lebanon: Dire conditions for Syrian refugees in border town (Human Rights Watch)

“Syrian refugees in Arsal, a Lebanese town on the border with Syria, do not have adequate shelters to withstand the harsh winter months, Human Rights Watch said today, releasing a video showing their dire living conditions.

More than 15,000 Syrian refugees in Arsal are experiencing their second winter since a 2019 order from the Higher Defense Council, which is chaired by the president and responsible for implementing national defense strategy, required them to dismantle their shelters. The order has forced them to live without adequate roofs and insulation, exposed to harsh winter conditions, including subzero temperatures and flooding.” Read more

Child dies as heavy rains turn Syria IDP camps into ‘lakes’ (Al Jazeera)

“Heavy rains have caused widespread flooding at displacement camps in northwest Syria, killing one child and damaging or destroying the tents of thousands of families, according to residents and aid workers.

Related articles
My childhood friend, now a ghost

18 September 2020
A psychologist friend of mine once told me that the best way to grieve the dead is to touch their bodies. In Islamic burials, we wash our loved ones with...

The Syrian Civil Defence, also known as the White Helmets – a volunteer search-and-rescue group that operates in rebel-held parts of Syria – confirmed on Tuesday that a six-year-old boy was killed in Idlib province after the brick wall built around his tent collapsed on top of him.” Read more

For Syrian refugees in Jordan, Covid-19 vaccine 'a gift from God' (AFP)

“Rolling up her sleeve in a minibus parked outside a clinic in the Jordanian city of Mafraq on Monday, Syrian refugee Fatima Ali welled up with tears of joy as she received a Covid-19 vaccine jab.

‘It's a gift from God,’ the 70-year-old said.

Originally from Daraa in Syria, Ali fled the ongoing war in her country seven years ago with her husband and six children, finding shelter in the Zaatari refugee camp east of Mafraq.” Read more

Why Syrian refugees in Germany fear deportation (DW)

“Germany has decided to lift a ban on deporting Syrians convicted of crimes. Amnesty International says Syria is unsafe and offenders could be tried in German courts. As DW's Aya Ibrahim reports, members of Berlin's Syrian community fear the worst.” Watch

The city of strangers (Banipal

“Two apples hanging from metaphor’s branch. Two apples of temptation, creativity, and misunderstanding: New York is not Babel, and Beirut is not Sodom. Two apples containing within them every contradiction, from Fifth Avenue to Greenwich Village, and from Hamra and Jimmeizeh to Achrafiyeh and Basta.

While the New York apple appears immune to and able to overcome the tragedy of its Twin Towers, destroyed in 2001, the Beirut apple lives through one wave of destruction after another. Each city is a mirror, and it is the mirror’s fate that while those who pass before it see themselves, it retains no memory of them; its memory is fashioned from the brand left on its body by passersby.” Read more

Related Content

Murder, and the burden of proof

06 January 2021
Murder turned into an act of self-defense, in which the regime and international community embarked on a selfish battle of describing the crime using terms such as civil war, the...
A forced disappearance in Raqqa, and the empty spaces left behind

09 December 2020
“We felt guilty for leading normal lives. This in itself left us socially and psychologically traumatized. Even after reaching France, I was totally distant from any social or university activities....
A famine, a ship and a folk song that spanned borders

18 December 2020
Nobody is quite certain where the famous Levantine folk song “`Al Rozana” originated: whether from an Italian ship bearing food during Lebanon’s great famine, or from some long forgotten love...

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