[Marxism] The rise and fall of ISIL in Syria - Opinion - Al Jazeera English
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Sun Jan 19 12:56:32 MST 2014
The rise and fall of ISIL in Syria
Saving Syria requires finishing off ISIL.
Last updated: 19 Jan 2014 12:55
Robin Yassin-Kassab is a novelist and the co-editor of the Critical
Muslim, a quarterly magazine.
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Many Syrians believe ISIL is benefitting Bashar al-Assad [AFP]
In a hotel lobby on the Turkish side of the Syrian border, Yasser Barish
showed photographs of his bombed family home in Saraqeb, Idlib province.
One room was still standing - the room Yasser happened to be resting in
on September 15, 2012, when the plane dropped its bomb. The other rooms
were entirely obliterated. Yasser's mother, grandmother, sister and
brother were killed.
Saraqeb is at a much fought-over strategic crossroads, taken over by the
Syrian army in August 2011 and March 2012. Since November 2012, the
regime has had no presence in the town (though its artillery batteries
remain in range). At first, the Local Coordination Committee provided
governance, but since spring 2013, the al-Qaeda-linked Islamic State of
Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) has gradually increased its presence.
Yasser described how they took over Saraqeb. At first, only a few came
and brought large amounts of medicine and food. They were humble and
generous. They also brought money, which they used to recruit hungry and
ammunition-starved local fighters. Then reinforcements arrived -
"Libyans, Algerians, a lot of Iraqis, some Afghans and Turks, one white
Belgian and one white American" - enough to frighten thieves into good
behaviour, which at first increased the organisation's popularity. But
in May 2013 they whipped two men[Ar] in a public square for an
infringement of Islamic family law. In June they took absolute control,
forbade drinking and smoking, and made prayer compulsory.
Yasser is part of an independent team which publishes magazines for
adults and children - a sign of autonomous revolutionary success in
terribly difficult circumstances. The slogan "I have the right to
express my opinion", graces the cover of Zeitoun wa Zeitouna, the
children's magazine. He's dedicated himself to improving local lives -
teaching children how to read and encouraging them to tell stories and
But even these simple aims are difficult to achieve. ISIL closed one
printing press, and arrested and beat Yasser for "taking photographs of
women" (the "women" in question were girls under the age of 13
participating in one of his workshops).
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