Thursday 10 March 2016

Reflection on the anniversary

A post by Yasmine Nahlawi of Rethink Rebuild Society UK—one in a series of reflections to mark the 5th anniversary of the Syrian Revolution.

It has been five long years for the Syrian people. They have endured the worst humanitarian crisis of modern times and have been failed by world powers who have claimed to be their friends. Their neighbourhoods and villages have been reduced to rubble, and their loved ones have been brutally snatched from them in what continues to be a struggle for freedom and dignity against a brutal Assad dictatorship.

As the fifth anniversary of the Syrian revolution approaches us, Syria is in a period of relative calm. A recently announced ceasefire is helping to mitigate civilian casualties, although it has proven extremely shaky with multiple violations recorded by Assad and Russia. However, this period of military calm has been accompanied by a frenzy of activity by Syrian civil society. Spectators would expect that Syrians, war-weary and struggling for basic survival, would use this chance to attend to their immediate needs. Instead, Syrians have displayed immense resilience and have seized this opportunity to resume the same non-violent protests against the Assad regime that they began in 2011. Syrians are in effect showing to the world that the spirit of revolution is very much alive, and that their quest for freedom and dignity will not be forsaken.

With the revival of the Syrian non-violent revolutionary spirit and the relative cessation of hostilities, it is now up to the ‘friends’ of the Syrian people to step up to the role that they have thus far dismally failed in. Western powers, including the UK, must recognise that foreign policy strategy in Syria built upon the pursuit of national interests has led to blowback because it failed to take into account the basic survival needs of a highly vulnerable population. They must recognise that a stable, vibrant, and free Syria will not only spread democratic ideals throughout the region, but will also help to contain the refugee crisis and the threats posed by radicalisation. In order to achieve this, the West must continue to press for guarantees for civilian protection from both Assad and Russia, ensure the delivery of humanitarian aid to at-need areas, and work towards accountability for the violations that have been committed throughout this conflict.

As Rethink Rebuild Society, we will continue to serve as a voice for the Syrian community in the UK and to advocate for these fundamental needs for the Syrian people. Follow our work at or at

Yasmine Nahlawi
Rethink Rebuild Society

Syrians and their supporters will join together in London on 12th March to mark the 5th anniversary of the Syrian revolution. The demonstration assembles 12 noon at Paddington Green, London W2.