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Hat tip to Middle East 4 Change

Norm’s note: I want readers to understand very clearly where, at this moment, I stand on the issue of Syria. If you haven’t already done so, you might want to read Philip Roddis’s Universalism in an unfair world. In particular, his reply to Fred Weston accurately encapsulates, while expressing better than I ever could, my attitude with respect to the catastrophe that has befallen the people of Syria:

What’s wrong here is the tacit demand that an imperialised state behave with anti imperialist consistency to ‘earn’ the support of the left in imperialist states. But unless he thinks the west attacks Syria because  of the failings he lists, and I’m sure he thinks no such thing, Weston makes the very confusion critical but unconditional defence  disentangles. Internationalism begins at home. A key tenet is that imperialised states be defended from our own imperialism, regardless of Stalinist, nationalist, theocratic or other defects in their worldviews, or failings real or cynically concocted in their leaders. Such defects and failings must be condemned where proven, but always in the context of – yet meticulously decoupled from – unwavering insistence that the prime villain is ‘our’ imperialism.

Having said this, there are rumors that, as Tim Hayward has put it, there is  “the undeniable existence of economic hardships and inequalities, as well as administrative corruption” in Syria.

If that is so, the following question arises in my mind: “what is the history of the circumstances that have given rise to these hardships and inequalities, what are they, and what is their scope or extent; and by the same token, what is the nature of the corruption, if any there is, and how longstanding has it been, and how widespread has it become?”

As Philip has put it, where proven, real “failings must be condemned” if always in the context of ‘our’ imperialism, a thing that we should unwaveringly denounce and that I do denounce.

But if in the context of ‘our’ imperialism we simply refuse to investigate the possible failings of ‘our’ imperialism’s undeniable victims, how can we ever discover them so as to be able to rightfully and equally condemn them? For I hold that unless people really do come to understand the reality of their circumstances, they cannot possibly succeed in changing them for the better. A failure to understand reality guarantees that we will not adequately master it to the benefit of all if improving our collective life is our goal.

Consequently, I’m in the process of exploring sources, reports from individuals who claim to be telling us something about the truth of Syria. Their claims may be true or false, partly true, or willful and paid for propaganda.

But before we can determine ‘that, we need to examine their claims and compare them against other sources, as well as establish the credibility of the authors.

There are only so many hours in a day as well as only so much that one person can discover no matter how much time he or she may have to contribute to such a task. And that’s when collaboration truly comes into its own: more heads are more intelligent than one. The greater the number of people honestly trying to sort out the truth about something, the more likely it is that the truth will emerge. Keep in mind that this isn’t a guarantee, but always and only a likelihood.

On Syria, then,  I will therefore present you with articles that may challenge our mutual assumptions about Syria. If you know that certain assertions being made in these articles are false, or know that the author is compromised in some way, I think it is your moral responsibility to share that with others who may be reading, here, along with you, or to put forth your reasoned arguments forming the basis of your counter-judgments to the claims you might be reading.

With all of that said, I present you with a short intorduction by Jihad Yazigi that links to a ‘.pdf’ document titled, “Destruct to Reconstruct: How the Syrian Regime Capitalises on Property Destruction and Land Legislation.”

The piece was apparently funded by the Friedrich Ebert Stiftung, a German based foundation, apparently the oldest in Germany, informed by a ‘social democratic’ ideology, we are told, and funded by the the Federal Republic of Germany.

Make of all of this background information what you will and do let ‘us’ know about anything interesting that you may find out about either Jihad Yazigi or the Friedrich Ebert Foundation.


How the Syrian Regime Capitalises on Property Destruction and Land Legislation

Source: Middle East 4 Change

Jihad Yazigi.

Posted on All4Syria on 27 July 2107 (sic)

For decades, land and property issues have been a source of conflict in Syria. Over the course of the conflict, however, they have taken a broader dimension and a much more violent turn. Indeed, during the past six years the Syrian regime’s policies and efforts with regard to land and property have included the large-scale physical destruction of property, the erasure and falsification of records, and population displacement.

Meanwhile, various laws and regulations have been enacted – such as the public private partnership law – which are presented as modern pieces of legislative reform, but in practice formalise the transfer of assets owned by the state to regime cronies. This paper argues that these policies have been carried out with the aim of reaching two broad objectives: first, to serve as weapons of war and extend the regime’s political control; second, to advance the economic interests of the regime’s elite and capitalise on the expected reconstruction drive.

Read full report by downloading pdf file (free)