A few days ago the Washington Post prominently featured an article chronicling the trials and tribulations of returning Syrian refugees at the hands of Assad’s security forces.
Assad urged Syrian refugees to come home. Many are being welcomed with arrest and interrogation.
By LOUISA LOVELUCK | The Washington Post | Published: June 2, 2019
BEIRUT — Hundreds of Syrian refugees have been arrested after returning home as the war they fled winds down – then interrogated, forced to inform on close family members and in some cases tortured, say returnees and human rights monitors.
Many more who weathered the conflict in rebel-held territory now retaken by government forces are meeting a similar fate as President Bashar al-Assad's regime deepens its longtime dependence on informers and surveillance.
For Syrian refugees, going home usually requires permission from the government and a willingness to provide a full accounting of any involvement they had with the political opposition. But in many cases the guarantees offered by the government as part of this "reconciliation" process turn out to be hollow, with returnees subjected to harassment or extortion by security agencies or detention and torture to extract information about the refugees' activities while they were away, according to the returnees and monitoring groups.
Almost 2,000 people have been detained after returning to Syria during the past two years, according to the Syrian Network for Human Rights, while hundreds more in areas once controlled by the rebels have also been arrested.
"If I knew then what I know now, I would never have gone back," said a young man who returned to a government-controlled area outside Damascus. He said he has been harassed for months by members of security forces who repeatedly turn up at his home and stop him at checkpoints to search his phone.
"People are still being taken by the secret police, and communities are living between suspicion and fear," he said. "When they come to your door, you cannot say no. You just have to go with them." (WaPo)
I have no reason to doubt the heavy handed scrutiny and harassment faced by returning refugees, as well as the extraction of ransoms from refugees’ families. A similar report appeared last February about the experiences of Syrian refugees returning from Germany and there has been a steady stream of similar articles. Assad’s security forces never had a reputation for finesse. However these reporters fail to mention Syria’s real national security concerns of weeding out, or at least identifying, jihadists and their sympathizers among the returning refugees. This is especially true in light of IS determination to continue the jihad as they insinuate themselves into the Syrian populace. Such is the nature of war, especially in this region.
My guess is that this article was featured so prominently in the WaPo as part of the general campaign to depose Assad and keep Syria down as a broken, war torn country. I have also noticed an increase in the wailing about the barbarity of Assad and Putin in bombing and shelling the long suffering inhabitants of Idlib. As the SAA continues its slow, steady, hard won advances against the Idlib jihadis, the wailing is bound to get louder.
Loveluck’s article was reprinted in “Stars & Stripes” where I read it without being subjected to Jeff Bezos hawking a subscription to the WaPo.
Permission to post something unrelated but fascinating:
Gold price and shipping war risk premiums for the Gulf along with removal of non essential staff from Iraq and the steadily increasing drum beats in the press suggest to me that war with Iran is planned in Washington.
I don’t know, but I suspect that the subject matter of Pompeo and Trumps recent conversation with foreign leaders included: “what might your country’s position be if we became involved in a war with Iran?”.
Lavrov’s recent comments about Russia being a patient nation always willing to talk to the U.S. suggest that Russia is aware of this.
To put that another way, I get the feeling that the scene is set; We are back in 1914 and the Austrians are about to send the Serbs an ultimatum.
In my layman’s opinion, Trump is more attuned to trade wars and not boom-boom wars.
While Pompeo, Bolton and the rest of the ziocon crew may want a confrontation with Iran on Bibi’s behalf, I don’t believe Trump has bought into it. He’ll do the “rocket man” tweets but he seems to also be signaling that he wants to talk. I believe it is in the realm of probability that we’ll have a similar replay to North Korea, where Bolton and crew promoted “maximal pressure” and Trump went along with tweeting but then moved to a summit with Kim Jong Un. While Bolton has successfully sabotaged those talks there’s much less threat of a military confrontation with North Korea now. I will not be surprised if Trump has a made for TV spectacle of a summit with Khamaeni.
Remember that he’s formally launching his re-election campaign in couple weeks, and Bernie is seeming to be surging on the Democrat side in terms of enthusiasm from their base and he’s taking Tulsi Gabbard’s stance against regime change wars.
it would be interesting to know how many Syrians have returned over two years to get the number of 2,000 detained into context,
my personal worry is that the media has cried wolf so many times over the last couple of decades that I now tend to dismiss anything in the papers relating to Syria and other sensitive places as bullchips as a default reaction,
I think the main benefit I get from this blog is a heads up when the head choppers are about to get a pasting,
then a few days later, as if by magic, the wailing and gnashing of teeth stories start to appear in the media,
has anyone plotted the timeline of terrorist incidents within Europe and overlayed them with a timeline of events in Syria?
I’ve grown up in the UK with the Irish troubles always present in the background,
the IRA always was trying to take a pop at British military targets and public figures and politicians, there were civilian targets too but the main target was always the ‘enemy’ the British State,
but when you look at acts of terrorism perpetrated by head choppers in Europe over the last few years they’ve almost entirely been aimed at the general population, hardly ever figures of the establishment,
I find myself asking very uncomfortable questions about who has been terrorising who and for what end?
The numbers for returned refugees are all over the map. Al Jazeera reports 1.4 million returned to their homes last year. That probably includes internally displaced as well as externally displaced refugees.
Pepe Escobar at Asia Times writes that the enthusiasm of Trump and some of his advisers (don’t know if this includes Bolton & Pompeo) have cooled drastically after receiving the results of a study of the potential economic & financial consequences of war in the Persian Gulf.
Many thanks for this sir.
FkDahl, that is fascinating and well done. I started in the geology department in college. On freshman orientation day, a very eccentric English geology professor took all us prospective geology majors to the top of a hill overlooking the RPI campus, the Hudson River and the hills beyond. He pointed out the evidence of glacial activity and various geological events. He also shared his jug of wine. It was legal for us back then. Even long before that, I marveled at evidence of glacial activity in my hometown. The glacial erratics stood as monuments to prehistory. I traced the gouges made in the bedrock by the glaciers as they moved south to form Long Island. All this has a lot to do with my fascination with this Carolina Bay theory.
I appreciate that assessing returnee numbers in this sort of situation would be difficult,
1.4 million doesn’t sound implausible, but then 2,000 detained doesn’t really sound like ‘many’ in comparison, it works out as one in 700,
something uncanny and good-awe-inducing about glacial erratics.
Meant to post this Nick Zentner link earlier and thought I had but can’t find it with a search. He [pretty much] fills the room when he gives his free public geology lectures. I find these videos reassuring as a demonstration of ground-up (in this instance bedrock-up) civic life + counterenstupidatory good teaching. They are also great terrain porn.
Thank you for that link. Those look fascinating. Bookmarked for future reading.
Assad and the Syrian government have every right to use “extreme vetting” on any returning refugees. This will help to discourage any returnees with thoughts of joining up with ISIS or other terrorist groups. And in the countries that took in refugees, it will help to separate the economic refugees from those that truly fear reprisals and arrest back home.
My cynical suspicion is that the west does not want to see many return to Syria as they have other uses in mind for these refugees. For folks like Merkel, their agenda is destroying their native culture and sovereignty and creating tension that plays into the hands of globalists like Soros.
It’s amazing that Washington just now figured that out. And think of what it would do to the dollar!
Thanks for the link, it fits in very nicely with the Little Dryas extinction event.
You might also like this https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nPOlomFhehQ which looks at a paper on events in Chile in the same time period.
“Such is the nature of war, especially in this region.”
Such attributions of causation for behavior to “the region” are, of course, entirely standard (I’ve used them also).
But given the pressure to accept “refugees” from the region in question,
I think we need to start being more honest and accurate about what is causing the region’s problems.
It is not the geographical region, but rather the people and culture (to include religion) of the people who live in that region.
There’s plenty of discussion of the problems immigrants from that region are causing in Europe, if you know where to look, but such discussion is suppressed on the grounds that it “incites hatred” or “divides us”.
An example, from WaPo:
In WaPo’s coverage of the Strasbourg Christmas market attack, WaPo, under the guidance of its executive editor Martin Baron, an Israeli-born Jew, failed to mention the crucial fact that Chekatt was heard shouting “Allahu akbar” as he attacked members of the crowd.
Why link such terrorism to Islam?
On the other hand, WaPo never misses a chance to link the fatality at Charlottesville to the Alt-Right.
I really don’t think you can blame this slant on Bezos, it’s something that long predates his ownership of the paper.
I’m glad it provoked such interest ( I feel I am among fellow grognards here). I was led into this from my interest in the Solutheran hypothesis by Dennis Stanford https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pY01NjND1jc – and felt there needs to be an explanation for the lack of early European DNA as far as we can tell.
In the same vein – some tribes in South America have high levels of Denisova an/or Aborigine DNA – which wave did they represent?
Thank you all for the links !
I don’t think the Syrian refugee crisis was caused by them getting a bit bored one day and deciding to go walkabout,
and I don’t think obsessing about religion or ethnicity is really very helpful, it’s mainly used to distract people from the geo political shenannigans happening behind the curtain,
and with respect to ‘the region’ please bear in mind Damascus, as a city, was established in the 2nd millenium BC and is one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities in the world,
more broadly, the region, let us call it Mesopotamia, is the birthplace of all human civilisation,
everything was going pretty smoothly in the region for thousands of years until a century or so ago Westerners discovered there was lots and lots of oil under their countries,
that is the geographical problem, not the people or their culture.
Mattb – There is no “behind the curtain.” another poly sci idiot heard from.
“everything was going pretty smoothly in the region for thousands of years”
What was Hulagu Khan doing in the region a thousand years ago, other than ‘smoothing things out’? Did all those horses the Mongols rode use oil? And before them, a few other ‘geographical problems’? I sure hope you didn’t send your own money on college tuition.
I suspect that if Bezos found something he didnt like about the editorial choices of that newspaper he would change it.
I was struck by an observation i came across on Twitter. There are a huge number of Syrian refugees in Germany. They are reasonably safe there from reprisal from the Assad regime. If they had a great disgust for the regime, wouldn’t we see substantial demonstrations against Assad in Germany?
If they had had great disgust for Assad they would have joined the rebellion and overthrow that government long ago.
Please explain how you think the geography of the region causes its problems, specifically its many wars.
And as to
“everything was going pretty smoothly in the region for thousands of years until a century or so ago Westerners discovered there was lots and lots of oil under their countries,”
your ignorance of history is stunning.
At the secular level, there were multitudes of empires established by conquest. For example, the Ottoman conquests.
You don’t know that history, or are indifferent to it?
In recent years, there was the Assyrian genocide.
You blame that on the Western search for oil????
At the religious level, I suggest you read the Jewish books of Judges, Samuel, and Kings to learn how the ancient Hebrews, in one English translation, “utterly slew” the men, women, and children of other tribes.
Not exactly “tikkun olam”.
There is an accurate word for what you are asserting, but it is too impolite for this blog.
I am sure Germany would like a slice of the reconstruction projects in Syria especially if oil played a role.Interestingly Germany was one of the few countries that remained in south Africa during the sanctions years and kept there car manufacturing factory running with the blessing of the and.In fact Steve biko came from the same area.
The UN High Commissioner for Refugees claims that 1.4 million were all IDPs. They were internally displaced and returned to their homes from refugee camps within Syria. The UN also states that 56,047 refugees returned to Syria from abroad last year. Not sure how they derived those figures. I would assume that includes only those that got assistance from the UN or from NGOs that reported it to the UN.
That puts Matt’s ratio at one in 28.
According to William R Polk, Syria has in recent years experienced severe drought. Just last week its grain crops were deliberately burned before harvest (Iraq too). Population growth has made all problems far more difficult.
Who, whom seems a relevant question. Quoting the WAPO (linked below)
“IS militants have a history of implementing a “scorched earth policy” in areas from which they retreat or where they are defeated. It’s “a means of inflicting a collective punishment on those left behind,” said Emma Beals, an independent Syria researcher.”
Next question would be just how large an area in each country. Reading the WAPO it doesn’t sound like much.
Quoting you: “Population growth has made all problems far more difficult.”
Did all that growth happen before or after the refugees left? Where were all those kids born, in government controlled areas or in all that ‘rebel’ territory. Curious minds want to know.
Oil! Just how much do you think there is and where might it be? Both topics of discussion here off and on over the past decade.
“Syria is a relatively small oil producer, that accounted for just 0.5% of the global production in 2010” … “Syria’s known oil reserves are mainly in the eastern part of the country in the Deir ez-Zor Governorate near its border with Iraq and along the Euphrates River, …” (per wiki linked above.)
My, right where which country that is Germany’s NATO ally had troops in over the past few years? How much support did Germany provide to the current Syrian government that might cause them to look favorably upon “I am sure Germany would like a slice of the reconstruction projects in Syria …” Steve Biko died during the era of Apartheid in South Africa. Back when there were two Germanys. Which one didn’t support South African Industry , who they were allied with at that time and in which one of those two Germanys the current Chancelor was born and raised in.
I thought you gentlemen had been doing a very good job trying to ‘draw back the curtain’ and show that allegations that your current President was a ‘Manchurian Candidate’ working for the Russians was a complete load of hogwash?
in the past you’ve commented that my govt. via it’s security services are adept at playing dirty tricks and manipulations quite probably because it’s a relatively low budget form of warfare and I’ve not been the slightest bit offended because I quite agree with you,
to ‘draw back the curtain’ I believe comes from the scene in the Wizard of Oz,
for me the ‘curtain’ is the narrative propagated via newspapers & tv,
I did not seek to offend you or your readers,
after posting my remark I realised it was somewhat intemperate and regretted it,
for that I apologise,