Sunday, November 23, 2014

Syrian civil society in Lebanon: challenges and opportunities

(As published on Open Democracy on the 27th of October, 2014.)
Since the beginning of the Syrian uprising, even before the explosion of the humanitarian situation and the huge influx of refugees in summer 2012, Lebanon has been home to many of the activists who participated in the protest movement, organized many of its activities, and had then, to save their lives, to flee the country.
While Syria, during Baa’th rule, hasn’t had an atmosphere that allows an active civil society to flourish, its activists in surrounding countries such as Lebanon, in their exile, took the opportunity for the first time in four decades to fully invest their energies in creating vital civil society organizations, in parallel with the continuous efforts of their colleagues inside the country. This emerging civil society is facing many serious obstacles threatening its development, while demonstrating at the same time a remarkable resilience and ability to adapt to the challenging circumstances engulfing it.

The beginning 

From the start of the popular uprising in Syria, it was obvious that the regime’s first enemy was the non-violent movement. In this sense, one can interpret the systematic campaign launched by the different security branches