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.
The regime is well aware of the impact of fear, of death due to random bombardment, on the life style of Syrians in areas outside its control, where everyone is too preoccupied with minute-to-minute survival to think of the future.
Syrians and their supporters who continue to cling to hope and believe in the justice of this revolution—that they still insist on calling a revolution— have other narratives which tell us that behind the map of warring fascist ideologies lies the truth that our country has never in its history done anything better than entering into this revolution.
If you cannot overthrow the tyrant, co-operate with him – after four disastrous years in Syria this seems to be the conclusion the international community has arrived at. While back in 2011 Bashar al-Assad’s days appeared to be drawing to a close, a growing number of people are now suggesting to see him as part of the solution, as illustrated recently by UN Special Envoy Staffan de Mistura in Vienna.
“It must be now clear to western defence chiefs that there is only one credible fighting force on the ground capable of fighting ISIS and that is the Syrian military. The Syrians [i.e. the Syrian regime] have held all the aces up their sleeve…” Such proposals are commonplace in diplomatic circles, but what is new this time is that this view is no longer limited to Assad’s supporters and allies.
Amid the general helplessness in the West, voices to approve a cooperation with Bashar al-Assad are becoming stronger. Whatever aspirations one may have for a cooperation with the regime, neither an end to the war nor safety will be gained through it.
There's little hope for an improvement of the Syrian situation. Nonetheless, there are civil society activists who are still working on non-violent resistance and democratic change. Sarah Schwahn conducted interviews with many of them to see what motivates them to continue.
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.
With ISIS’ capture of Mosul, a nightmare seems to be becoming a reality: the development of a caliphate state in the heart of the Middle East, which is obliterating the established borders and could engage the whole region in a protracted war between various militias. So why does Assad not seem to be worried?