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Azmi Bishara's last word on Syria: A path of pains to freedom

In his new book, Azmi Bishara charts the origins of the Syrian uprising, including the seeds of its descent into sectarian civil war

Mohammed Saad , Thursday 5 Sep 2013
Book cover
Azmi Bishara's latest book (Syria: The Path of pains towards freedom)
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Syria: Darb Al-Alaam ela El-Horeyya (Syria: The Path of Pains to Freedom), by: Azmi Bishara, Doha: ACRPS. 2013. 687pp.

Arab thinker and political analyst Azmi Bishara has released his latest book, entitled Syria: The Path of Pains to Freedom, from the Arab Centre for Research and Policy Studies (ACRPS). The book chronicles the Syrian revolution, from the day it erupted on 15 March 2011 through to March 2013.

Azmi argues in the book that it is during these two years that the main social, political, regional and sectarian elements behind the Syrian revolution took shape, leading to the bloodshed crippling Syria today as Syrians tred the painful path to freedom.

The book was released on the eve of the 21 August chemical attack on rebel-dominated area in Eastern and Western Ghouta, in Damscus, that many international parties and the Syrian opposition blame on the Bashar Al-Assad Regime.

Before publication of the book, Bishara wrote on his Facebook page: “About Syria, there nothing to be said. I wrote a book on the Syrian revolution entitled Syria: The Path of Pains to Freedom. I finished the book months ago. The book is a historical research. Politically, I have nothing to say anymore about the situation there; the situation has exceeded any kind of talk or discussion.”

According to the ACRPS press release for the book, the author combines analytical approaches couched in sociology, economics and history, and within this framework, the book provides only proven facts, avoiding the use of unsubstantiated interpretations.

The book chronicles the Syrian revolution in two stages: the peaceful civil stage and the armed stage. The author starts with an analysis of the ruthless strategies adopted by the Syrian regime of Al-Assad to quell the revolution — its unprecedented use of violence. He then narrates in detail the events that swept Syria's major cities, and explores how a peaceful protest turned into an armed struggle.

Yet, the book does not only chronicle the first two years of the revolution, but rather falls back in time 10 years earlier, to trace and study and historicise the roots of the political, social and sectarian strife unfolding in Syria, unearthing the first signs of protests that began to emerge in this period.

In this book, Bishara claims that the Syrian regime has to change, or the people have to change it. He also expresses his worst fears — of endless sectarian strife and a sectarian settlement that maintains political quotas for all sects without regime change.  He thus calls for a democratic Syria; that is, a state of all its citizens, without relinquishing Arab identity for the majority, and in this respect he calls for a settlement that includes the departure of Al-Assad and the preservation of the state. Failing such a settlement, warns Bishara, the revolution will turn into a sectarian and ethnic war, which would render Syria a failed state, even with regime's defeat.

Azmi Bishara, 56, Palestinian thinker and renowned political analyst, has published numerous books and academic papers in political thought, social theory, and philosophy, in addition to several literary works. He was professor of philosophy and the history of political thought at Birzeit University from 1986 to 1996. For four consecutive sessions, from 1996-2007, he represented the Balad Party, which he founded, as an elected member of the Israeli parliament.

In 2007, Bishara was persecuted for his political positions at the hands of the Israeli authorities, and currently resides in Qatar. He is the recipient of the Ibn Rushd Prize for Freedom of Thought in 2002 and the Global Exchange Human Rights Award in 2003.

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