Alex Rowell from Al-Jumhuriya speaks to Dr. Bente Scheller, director of the Heinrich Böll Foundation's Middle East office, on the recent German elections and their likely impact on European Syria policy, the ongoing debate over Western participation in the future reconstruction of Syria, threats faced by Syrian refugees both in Europe and here in the Middle East, recent military developments against ISIS and other actors in Syria’s east and north, and much more.
When ISIS announced the establishment of the so-called ‘Islamic State’ it fuelled discussions as to whether this would herald the ‘end of Sykes-Picot’ – borders artificially drawn by the colonial powers at the beginning of the twentieth century. But borders are more than ‘lines in the sand’: they divide. While the privileged few may cross legitimately by simply presenting their passport, for most, these borders present difficult if not insurmountable hurdles. People fleeing from war, climate change or economic hardship, attempt to cross the Mediterranean but many drown trying.
One year ago, Heinrich Böll Stiftung’s Beirut office did a research on the European Neighbourhood Policy and its perception in Lebanon. Views from the region on the performance of the European Union are important and it is particularly beneficial to see how experts and activists on the ground perceive the impact of it and take their recommendations on what could be improved and how. Therefore this year, we conducted interviews with a number of researchers and practitioners in Lebanon on specific issues – discussing with them specific findings of the EU’s own progress report and the latest press release of December 2015.
This paper examines how Saharawi feminist political praxis shapes community organizing and national liberation politics. I attempt to disrupt the binaries of national liberation and freedom through a reading of the political and temporal context of the engagements of National Union of Saharawi Women feminists in the refugee camps, in Tindouf, Algeria. From ethnographic encounters, the paper aims to challenge the linearity of violence in armed conflict by looking into nuances and politics of feminists who challenge the equation of national liberation as state-building, and simultaneously argue for more just and inclusive forms of organizing for the Saharawi community. This research looks at Saharawi feminist politics and visions for the future that are vigilantly articulated from within militarized institutions and protracted armed conflict.
In an attempt to limit Syrian immigration to Lebanon, visa requirements have been introduced - an absurd and moreover dangerous measure. This is a first in the history of the two countries. Before this change in legislation, it was sufficient for Syrians to present their ID card when crossing the border.
Less refugees are crossing Syria's borders. Not because the situation is improving - but because less people have the possibility to flee. And some are determined to stay, even if it means risking their life. On internally displaced persons in Syria.
Generally speaking, Lebanon takes a relaxed approach to problems, either denying they exist or playing them down, only to draw up policies once reality hits home and the problem has reached crisis point.