[Marxism] The rise and fall of ISIL in Syria - Opinion - Al Jazeera English

Louis Proyect lnp3 at panix.com
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
Robin Yassin-Kassab

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 
draw pictures.

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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