This week the New Yorker published a long piece on Saraqib, a town in Idleb governorate in Syria.
Syria’s Last Bastion of Freedom
Amid the brutal civil war, a town fought off the regime and the fundamentalists—and dared to hold an election. Can its experiment in democracy survive?
In the summer of 2017, for the first time anywhere in Syria since 1954, the residents of the town of Saraqib decided to seize control of their future—and hold a genuinely free election.
On the morning that polls were to open, an activist named Osama al-Hossein woke up at five o’clock, feeling anxious. He soon headed to Idlib Gate, a former department store that had been turned into a meeting hall. A small crowd was milling about: local journalists, election monitors, and suited dignitaries who, in international circles, represented the Syrian opposition. The election was meant to choose the leader of the Local Council, a civilian body that governed the town. Poll workers checked their phones for reports of air traffic: Syrian and Russian jets were known to attack public gatherings, and activists had posted sentries around the province.
This one town, Saraqib, is standing out:
One Syrian town after another fell out of government control, and from this anarchy new horrors arose. The flags of ISIS and Al Qaeda were raised across the country. Child refugees drowned at sea; Western hostages were murdered on camera.
Somehow, Saraqib had avoided this fate. It offered an alternative history for the entire Syrian conflict—and, Hossein believed, its citizens embodied the true soul of the revolution. That evening, he imagined other tiny democracies flowering across Syria, and the rest of the world coming to understand, at last, that his country had more to offer than bloodshed and tragedy.
Yes, “an alternative history” is really what is presented here. It is a whitewash of a brutal international attack on Syria. A hagiography of one Osama al-Hossein, a Muslim Brotherhood ‘activist’, who got funding from the United States. It includes every false propaganda cliche about ‘barrel bombs’ and ‘moderate rebels’, who never were moderate, that the ‘western’ agencies inserted into the news stream. It is also full of stupid and nonfactual assertions. How, for example, did the New Yorker fact checkers let these ‘Humvees’ pass by: