CHALLENGING THE NATION STATE IN SYRIA

by Leila Al Shami, Fifth Estate

Syria's current borders were drawn up by imperial map-makers a hundred years ago in the midst of World War I as part of a secret accord between France and Britain to divide the Mideast spoils of the Turkish Ottoman Empire. As the colonial state gave way to the post-independence state, power was transferred from Western masters to local elites.

The three major discourses which grew out of the anti-colonial struggle—socialism, Arab nationalism, and Islamism—all fetishized the idea of a strong state as the basis of resistance to Western hegemony. In the case of Syria, it led to the emergence of an ultra-authoritarian regime where power is centralized around one man in Damascus, Bashar al-Assad, bolstered by the state bureaucracy, and security forces. But today, new ways of organizing have emerged which challenge centralized authority and the state framework.

During the course of the revolution against Assad that began in Syria in 2011, land was liberated to the extent that by 2013 the regime had lost control over some four-fifths of the country. As the state began to disintegrate, communities needed to build alternative structures to keep life functioning in the newly created autonomous zones.

Continue ReadingCHALLENGING THE NATION STATE IN SYRIA 
Afghanistan

1,000 Afghans flee fighting every day

About 1,000 Afghans have fled their homes due to fighting each day since the beginning of the year, and aid workers can't reach many of them, the UN says.

The Andes

Peru’s most-wanted nabbed in Colombia

Gerson Adair Gálvez Calle AKA "Caracol" (The Snail), Peru's most wanted fugitive drug lord, was arrested by Colombian National Police at a shopping center in Medellín.

Greater Middle East

Egypt sentences protesters to five years

Egyptian officials announced the conviction and prison sentences of over one hundred demonstrators who were peacefully assembling without a permit.