"And I have found both freedom and safety in my madness, the freedom of loneliness and the safety from being understood, for those who understand us enslave something in us. But let me not be too proud of my safety. Even a Thief in a jail is safe from another thief. "

Khalil Gibran (How I Became a Madman)



Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Tribes of Syria: Pieces on a chessboard?- Hate Speech

Haian Dukhan
Since the beginning of the Syrian uprising in March 2011, debates have been going on about the role of urban people versus the role of rural people in igniting and leading the uprising. The Syrian uprising seems to have been the first in the Arab world that was sparked in rural areas or in the outskirts of cities inhabited mostly by rural people. Affluent parts of the cities (including Aleppo, Damascus and Homs) did not play a major role in the uprising. The Syrian uprising appeared to be a revolt of the “periphery against centre”, unlike the protest movements in Tunisia and Egypt that were led by the urban classes of the capitals and major cities. Rural Syria, where the protest movement was most prevalent, is home to the majority of the country’s Bedouin tribes. Moreover, the majority of people who live in the outskirts of big cities belong to tribes and preserve their tribal customs.
When the protests began, tribalism played a major role in the restive areas of Syria to mobilize youth in the protest movement against the regime. As peaceful protests transformed into violent confrontation, some tribesmen resorted to armed self-defence. As a result, concerted, large-scale campaigns were initiated by both the regime and the opposition to win over the tribes and use them militarily and politically in the battle over Syria. On first glance, it may appear that some tribes allied with the regime and others with the opposition, but the divisions are in fact less clear. Many tribes were split, with some clans supportive of the regime and some opposing it. With the passage of time, the Syrian uprising turned into an armed conflict that attracted more players than the regime and the Free Syrian Army. Islamist groups and the Kurds became prominent actors in the conflict and they both tried to manipulate the tribes to serve their interests.