In Syria, multiple imperial and subimperial powers have poured into one small country — some of them to protect a murderous regime, all of them annihilating any independent political aspirations among its people, dividing up sectors of Syrian society among themselves and their satellites.
The bombings and shelling may have abated, but today’s “postwar” Syria is awash with psychological weapons and injuries. People cannot fathom their present, let alone see any future. Without active clashes to blame, what “after” is there to hope and pray for?
During the 1980s and ’90s, a group of political prisoners in Syria’s notorious Sednaya prison held oud lessons, concerts and soirees with theater and dance. Now, a group of former inmates has gathered in Germany to remember and sing together again.
Some on the far right envisage Assad as a secular leader fighting Islamic extremists. Assad’s own racial and religious affiliations matter less than his willingness to use racialized dehumanization as a justification for murder; this willingness qualifies him as effectively white in the eyes of his Western fascist followers.
Whether wittingly or not, many young Syrian influencers on TikTok are putting a Gen Z-friendly sheen on content that happens to sound a lot like pro-Assad propaganda. This content isn’t appearing in a vacuum: It’s cropping up at a time when Assad himself is on a nonapology tour of sorts, with the Arab League accepting him back into their good graces.
The fifth brother to be taken from us was Okba. I tried to save him. We waited during the bombing for him. We visited authorities, we wrote letters, we spoke to anyone who might have seen him or stayed with him in detention. Nothing. We still do not really know the truth of what happens inside the Syrian regime’s detention centers. Day after day, we find ourselves unable to save our detainees.
Many Syrians are starting to discuss the morality of the Division’s economic practices, which are driving an even more severe wealth gap between rich and poor. While some perceive its activities as categorially abhorrent, others argue it is ending Sunni businessmen’s traditional dominance over the economy. Yet even these individuals criticize the distribution of wealth, which excludes the majority of the community and increases their economic vulnerability.