A NEW PALESTINIAN COMMUNITY? - Rosa-Lux · PDF file 2020. 8. 13. · PLA Palestine...

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Transcript of A NEW PALESTINIAN COMMUNITY? - Rosa-Lux · PDF file 2020. 8. 13. · PLA Palestine...

  • ABDULLAH AL-KHATEEB, TOM ROLLINS AND ABDELRAHMAN SHAHEEN

    A NEW PALESTINIAN COMMUNITY? SYRIA’S UPRISING AND CONFLICT, FROM THE PERSPECTIVE OF THE PALESTINIAN CAMPS

    STUDIEN

  • ABDULLAH AL-KHATEEB, TOM ROLLINS AND ABDELRAHMAN SHAHEEN

    A NEW PALESTINIAN COMMUNITY?

    SYRIA’S UPRISING AND CONFLICT, FROM THE PERSPECTIVE OF THE PALESTINIAN CAMPS

    Study commissioned by the Rosa-Luxemburg-Stiftung

  • ABDULLAH AL-KHATEEB is a Palestinian-Syrian human rights activist from Yarmouk, Damascus. Since 2011, he has been part of the peaceful movement against the Assad regime and later, with other activists, organized civil resistance against local extremist forces. During the siege on Yarmouk, which lasted from 2013 until 2018, they set up alternative schools and civic centres as well as agricultural projects to break the siege. Through a Syrian-Russian agreement, Abdullah and local civil society groups were forcibly expelled to northern Syria in May 2018. With activists displaced from all parts of Syria, he set up the Hooz Center in Azaz in the Aleppo countryside, which today hosts political debates on the ground and remains committed to organizing local communities against authorities that shrink spaces of civil society. In 2017, Abdullah co-founded the literary blog, Sard Network—its goal to provide spaces for Syrian narratives on revolution, expulsion, exile, and war, and thus to participate in the construction and documentation of Syrian memory. Abdullah has lived in Germany since 2018.

    TOM ROLLINS is an independent journalist and researcher who has reported on Syria and Syria’s Palestinian community since 2014. He has written for Al Jazeera English, Mada Masr, The National, and The New Humanitarian, and lived in the Middle East for several years. He lives in Germany.

    ABDELRAHMAN SHAHEEN is a Palestinian-Syrian activist and social researcher based in Germany. He has worked in several centres for development and social change in Syria, including the Watad Center of Training and Development in southern Damascus. He also co-founded the Azaz Center for Studies and the Sard Network, a literary blog concerning revolutionary Syrian memory and literature. After 2018, Abdulrahman worked at the Hooz Center for Social Development in northern Syria, where he lectured on political Islam, meanwhile publishing studies tackling issues around statehood and Islamic movements.

    IMPRESSUM STUDIEN 7/2020 is published by the Rosa-Luxemburg-Stiftung Responsible: Charlotte Tinawi Franz-Mehring-Platz 1 · 10243 Berlin, Germany · www.rosalux.de ISSN 2194-2242 · Editorial deadline: May 2020 Illustration front page: Frank Ramspott/iStockphoto Proofreading: Gegensatz Translation Collective Setting/Production: MediaService GmbH Druck und Kommunikation Printed on Circleoffset Premium White, 100 % recycled paper

    The views represented in this study are the sole responsibility of their authors and do not necessarily reflect the position of the Rosa-Luxemburg-Stiftung.

    Acknowledgements: The authors would like to extend their thanks first and foremost to each and every source who agreed to be interviewed for this report. Special thanks also to Rosa Luxemburg Stiftung’s team in Berlin, without whom this research would not have been possible, and to Ruham Hawash for the peer review.

    http://www.rosalux.de

  • CONTENTs

    CONTENTS

    Executive summary� � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � 4

    About this report � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � 5

    Abbreviations � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � 6

    Introduction � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � 8 Syria: ‘Prime patron’ of the Palestinian cause? . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 9 The Syrian uprising, viewed from the camps . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 10

    1 Daraa� � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � 12 ‘We never distinguished between Palestinians and Syrians’ . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 12 ‘Accusing Palestinians became routine’ . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 13 From siege to war . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 14 To arms . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 15

    2 Yarmouk � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � 17 ‘The ones who sent us to die, we want to bury them in the ground!’ . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 17 The ‘lungs of Damascus’. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 18 ‘Day of the MiG’ . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 21 ‘Land of jihad’ . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 22 An ‘Islamic state’ in Yarmouk . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 23 The final offensive . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 24

    3 Neirab � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � 25 The Aleppo camps . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 25 The Syrian uprising in Aleppo . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 26 ‘It was important for the camp to protect itself’ . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 27 Liwa’ al-Quds: Aleppo and beyond . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 29

    Conclusion: The camps, today � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � 30 Daraa . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 30 Yarmouk . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 31 Neirab . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 32

    Postscript: A new Palestinian-Syrian community?� � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � 33 Community dynamics. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 33 Socio-economics . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 34 Return . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 34 Reconstruction . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .