an online, interactive map to demonstrate this intricate network of connections.)
Meanwhile, the writing and dispatches of Syrian anarchists have been
enormously influential in other Arab struggles, with anarchists tortured
to death in Assad's prisons memorialized in the writing of
Palestinians, and at demonstrations for Palestinian political prisoners
held in Israel. Two key features of this unfolding warrant close
attention: the manner in which anarchists in the Arab world are
increasingly staging critiques and interventions that upend the
contradictions held up as justification for US foreign policy, and the
ongoing conversations between anti-authoritarian movements in the Arab
world that bypass and remain unmediated by Western reference points.
Whether Syrian anarchists' insistence on self-determination as a central
organizing principle can withstand the immediate reality of violence or
the leverage of foreign interests remains an open question.
Nader Atassi is a Syrian political researcher and writer originally
from Homs, currently living between the United States and Beirut. He
runs the blog Darth Nader,
reflecting on events within the Syrian revolution. I talked him into
chatting about its anarchist traces, and the prospect of US
Joshua Stephens for Truthout: Anarchists have been both
active in and writing from the Syrian revolution since the get-go. Do
you have any sense of what sort of activity was happening prior? Were
there influential threads that generated a Syrian articulation of
Nader Atassi: Due to the authoritarian nature of the Syrian regime,
there was always very little space to operate before the revolution
began. However, in terms of anarchism in the Arab world, many of the
most prominent voices were Syrians'. Despite there being no organizing
that was explicitly "anarchist," Syrian bloggers and writers with
anarchist influences were becoming increasingly prominent in the "scene"
in the last decade or so. Mazen Kamalmaz
is a Syrian anarchist who has written a lot over the last few years.
His writings contain a lot of anarchist theory applied to contemporary
situations, and he was a prominent voice in Arab anarchism long before
the uprising began. He's written a good deal in Arabic, and recently gave a talk in a cafe in Cairo titled "What is Anarchism?"
In terms of organizing, the situation was different however. In the
tough political landscape of an authoritarian regime, many had to get
creative and exploit openings they saw in order to organize any type of
movement, and this led to a de facto decentralized mode of organizing.
For example, student movements erupted in Syrian universities during the
second Palestinian intifada
and the Iraq War. This was a type of popular discontent that the regime
tolerated. Marches were organized to protest the Iraq War, or in
solidarity with the Palestinian intifada. Although many members of the mukhabarat
infiltrated those movements and monitored them closely, this was a
purely spontaneous eruption on the part of the students. And although
the students were well aware how closely they were being watched
(apparently, mukhabarat used to follow the marches with a notepad,
writing down what slogans were being chanted and being written on
signs), they used this little political space they were given to operate
in order to gradually address domestic issues within the
regime-sanctioned protests about foreign issues.
Article Continues: Syrian Anarchist Challenges the Rebel regime..