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‘Syria Is the World’s Problem’

As the U.N. General Assembly kicks off in New York, a number of Syrian intellectuals issued a statement condemning the U.S.-Russia cease-fire agreement, calling it “the last straw” and criticizing the two countries for intervening in Syrian affairs.

Written by A Group Of Syrian Intellectuals Published on Read time Approx. 5 minutes
Syria deal military
U.S. secretary of state John Kerry, left, and Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov shake hands at the conclusion of a news conference following their meeting to discuss the crisis in Syria, in Geneva, Switzerland. Kevin Lamarque/Pool Photo via AP, File

BERLIN – We, the undersigned democratic and secular Syrian writers, artists and journalists, have opposed the brutal regime of President Bashar al-Assad for years, even decades. We are participants in the struggle for democracy and justice in our country, in our region and in the world.

We unreservedly, and in the strongest language, condemn the Russian and U.S. approach of intervening in our internal Syrian affairs. At least since 2013, these two powers have been working to coopt the Syrian liberation struggle under the veil of the “war on terror.” This is a war that has failed to score a single success since its outset, and has led instead to the destruction of a number of countries.

Three years ago, the two nations signed a reprehensible deal on chemical weapons that seemed to resolve a problem for the United States, Israel and Russia, and even for the Assad regime, which had just murdered 1,466 of its people. The deal however did not resolve any of the problems facing the Syrian people. Rather, it gave free rein to an extremely criminal regime that kills Syrians, destroys their villages and communities and drives them into exile. The deal has also proved to be a priceless gift to Islamist extremist groups like ISIS and the group formerly known as Jabhat al-Nusra.

Three years into this contemptible deal – with the death count estimated at nearly half a million Syrians – Russia and the U.S. agreed to freeze the current situation so that the two military powers could carry on their endless war against terror. The agreement does not address the untold number of detainees currently being held in brutal conditions, nor does it include a call for lifting the blockade on besieged areas, or the withdrawal of Iran, the Lebanese Hezbollah militia or any other sectarian militia. It is also devoid of any reference to the concept of a new and democratic Syria. Nor are Assad’s warplanes restrained from bombing areas that will ultimately be the subject of a later agreement between Russia and the U.S. Not only does this show a complete lack of a moral sense of justice on the part of the Russian and American negotiating teams, it also exposes the degradation of politics and the low standards of officials in the two most powerful nations in the world today.

Our anger over these agreements and their authors knows no bounds. We reject them absolutely. We are also disappointed in the United Nations, angered that, as was recently revealed, it has allegedly been financing the criminal regime of Assad and his allies.

As Syrian writers, artists and journalists, we see the world today heading toward an unprecedented numbing of ethics. Levels of fear and hatred escalate in parallel with the increasing visibility of politicians who invest in the same feelings of fear, hatred and isolationism. We see democracy in retreat around the world, while surveillance, control and fear are growing. We do not believe that our fate is defined by these conditions, but rather that these are a result of dangerous choices made by dangerous political elites, and that we must work together to voice our opposition to them, right now, wherever we may be.

A destroyed Syria is the symbol of the state of the world today. The Syrian revolution was broken against the solid wall of the international community, not only against the wall of the forces aligned with Assad. This international community allows politicians like U.S. President Barack Obama and Russian President Vladimir Putin, along with their agents and clones – people lacking all sense of humanity – to take decisions that violate our right to self-determination as individuals and groups but also as a nation. We have not elected them, and we have no access to any mechanism that can hold them accountable. This is an unfair system that fiercely opposes democracy. It must change.

Unfortunately, there seems to be too little awareness of how hazardous reality has become. Many, especially in the West, prefer to hide behind fatalistic theories steeped in religion or culture – when they do not attribute events to climate change. This explains why a bad situation has become much worse and also absolves the powerful elite, including Assad and his forces, of their political responsibilities.

This world must change. In just five and a half years, it has allowed the destruction of one of the most ancient cradles of civilization. Today’s world is a Syrian problem just like Syria today is a world problem. And for the sake of this world, for all our sakes, we call for the condemnation of the politicians responsible for this disaster and for their exposure as murderers and terrorists, not dissimilar to their archrivals in the Islamic extremist camp.

The Signatories

Ibrahim al-Jabin, Novelist, journalist

Ahmad Barqawi, Philosopher

Ahmad Hasso, Journalist

Ahmad ʿOmar, Writer

Ahmad ʿIsha, Translator

Usama Muhammad, Film director, screenwriter

Usama Nassar, Journalist, activist

Asʿad al-ʿAshi

Islam Abu Shakir, Storyteller

Anas Yusef, Physician

Anwar al-ʿOmar

Anwar ʿOmran

Aws al-Mubarak, Writer

Iyad Hayatleh, Poet

Iyad Abdullah, Writer

Ilaf Yassin, Journalist

Iman Shaker

Aya al-Atassi, Journalist

Basil al-ʿAwdat, Journalist

Badr al-Din ʿArudaki, Writer, translator

Burhan Ghalyun, Writer, professor

Bakr Sidqi, Writer, journalist

Tammam Hunaydi, Poet

Jamal Saʿid, Writer

Jamil Nahra, Novelist

Jihad Yazaji, Economist

Hazim Kamal al-Din

Hazim Nahar, Writer

Hizam Zohur ʿUday, Writer, journalist

Husam al-Saʿd, Syrian academic

Husam al-Din Muhammad, Writer, journalist

Hasko Hasko, Artist

Hasan Shahut, Poet

Hala ʿOmran, Actress

Hikmat Shata, Engineer, artist

Khaled Sulayman al-Nasseri, Poet, film-maker

Khodor al-Agha, Writer

Khatib Badla, Writer

Khaldun al-Shamʿa, Literary critic

Khalaf Ali al-Khalaf, Poet

Khalil al-Haj Saleh, Translator

Khayri al-Zahabi, Writer, novelist

Dara al-Abdullah, Writer

Durayd al-Bayk, Journalist, engineer

Dima Wannus, Writer, journalist

Raed Wahsh, Poet

Ratib Shaʿbo, Writer, translator

Rashid Issa, Journalist

Rustom Mahmud, Syrian writer, researcher

Rasha Abbas, Storyteller

Rasha ʿOmran, Poet

Rashid al-Haj Saleh, Writer

Rosa Yassin Hasan, Writer

Rima Flayhan, Writer, activist

Zahir Omareen, Writer

Zoya Bustan, Journalist

Samer al-Ahmad, Journalist

Saʿd Haju, Caricaturist

Saʿid Ghazul, News editor

Samar Yazbek, Novelist

Samih Shqayr, Artist

Samih al-Safadi, Writer

Salam al-Kawakibi, Writer, researcher

Salam Muhammad, Screenwriter

Sulayman al-Buti

Charbel Kanun, Photographer

Sadiq Jalal al-ʿAzm, Thinker

Sadiq Abdul Rahman, Writer

Safi Alaʾ al-Din, Publisher

Subhi Hadidi, Writer, literary critic

Subhi Halima, Writer, journalist

Dahir ʿIta, Writer

Duha Hasan, Writer

Duha ʿAshour, Writer

Talib al-Ali, Writer

Talal Daqmaq, Photographer

ʿAdil al-ʿAyed, Journalist

ʿAsim al-Basha, Sculptor

ʿAsim Hamsho, Writer

Abdul Rahman Matar, Writer

Abdul Rahim Khalifa, Political and human rights activist

Abdul Aziz al-Tammo, Syrian Kurdish writer, politician

Abdullah Turkmani, Researcher

Abdullah Maksur, Novelist

ʿUrwa al-Ahmad, Journalist, actor

ʿAssaf al-ʿAssaf, Writer

Ali Dyab

Ali Safar, Writer, journalist

Ali al-ʿAʾid, Journalist

Imad Huriyyah, Theater critic

Imad ʿObayd, Artist

ʿAmmar al-Jumʿa, Poet

ʿAmmar Qat, Journalist

Omar al-Asʿad, Journalist

Omar Qaddur, Novelist

Omar Kush, Writer

Ghassan al-Muflih, Journalist

Ghayyath al-Madhun, Poet

Fadi Dyoub, Activist

Faris al-Helo, Actor

Faruq Mardam Bayk, Writer, publisher

Fayez al-Basha, Physician

Fayez al-ʿAbbas, Poet

Fadwa Kilani, Poet

Faraj Bayraqdar, Poet

Fuad Muhammad Fuad, Professor, poet

Qusay Assef al-Shuwaykh, Engineer

Karim al-ʿAfnan, Journalist

Luay Skaff, Engineer

Layla al-Safadi, Journalist

Lina ʿAtfa, Poet

Majid Rashid al-ʿOuayd, Novelist, writer

Majid Matrud, Poet, critic

Mazen Haddad, Engineer

Mazen Darwish, Human rights activist

Malik Daghistani, Writer

Maamun al-Shariʿ, Writer

Mahir Junaydi, Writer, journalist

Mahir Masʿud, Writer

Muhammad Haj Bakri, Economic researcher, writer

Muhammad al-Haj Saleh, Writer

Muhammad Khalifa, Writer, researcher

Muhammad al-Abdullah, Syrian lawyer, activist

Mohammad al-Attar, Playwright

Marwan al-Atrash, Engineer

Mustafa Sulayman, Artist

Muʿbid al-Hassun, Writer

Mufid Najm, Poet

Malaz al-Zuʿbi, Journalist

Mansur al-Sulti, Theater actor, director

Munhil Barish, Journalist

Munir al-Khatib, Writer

Maurice ʿAyiq, Writer

Musa Rammo, Artist

Maya Sharbaji, Artist

May Skaff, Actress

Michel Shammas, Lawyer, human rights activist

Mikhail Saʿd, Writer

Nahid Badawiyya, Writer

Najat Murshid, Teacher

Nashwan Atassi, Writer

Nuri al-Jarrah, Poet

Hala Muhammad, Poet, film director

Hala al-Abdullah, Film-maker

Hind Murʿi

Hushang Usi, Writer

Haytham Abdullah, Translator

Wael Tamimi, Journalist

Wael Marza, Writer

Wijdan Nassif, Writer

Wafaʾi Layla, Poet

Yara Badr, Journalist

Yassir Munif, Activist, academic

Yassin Suwayha, Writer

Yassin al-Haj Saleh, Writer

Yamin Hussein, Journalist

Yusef Dʿays, Writer, journalist

The views expressed in this article belong to the authors and do not necessarily reflect those of Syria Deeply.

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