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Pocketmags Digital Magazines
Pocketmags Digital Magazines

Can Syria rise from the ashes?

As peace negotiations progress shakily, Syrians are thinking creatively about how to rebuilt their country, says Sameer Rahim

The Battle for Home: The Memoir of a Syrian Architect

by Marwa al-Sabouni (Thames & Hudson, £16.95)

Burning Country: Syrians in Revolution and War

by Robin Yassin-Kassab and Leila al-Shami (Pluto Press, £14.99)

For years the news from Syria has not been good. In January 2011, a national uprising began after a Syrian man set himself alight in imitation of the Tunisian fruit-seller who had sparked the Arab Spring six weeks earlier. In February, protests against police brutality spread to the capital Damascus. Initially peaceful and with limited objectives—prisoner releases, repeal of the emergency law, multiparty elections—the protesters were faced with deadly attacks from Bashar al-Assad’s security forces. Gradually the revolt turned into an armed revolution, which aimed to overthrow the Baathist state. Within two years the country was engulfed in a civil war, infected by jihadis both domestic and foreign.

Syria has experienced every imaginable catastrophe—from chemical attacks to the tentacular spread of Islamic State (IS). According to a recent estimate, 470,000 people have died in the conflict while 10 million are now refugees. In addition, the country’s physical environment has taken a battering. Ancient monuments have been destroyed: IS blew up the Temple of Bel in Palmyra and, during fighting between the government and rebels in Aleppo, the 1,000-year-old minaret of the Umayyad mosque collapsed. Cities have been flattened; homes destroyed.

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About Prospect Magazine

In Prospect’s May issue: Simon Taylor and Bronwen Maddox on why Hinkley Point C is an expensive gamble that might not pay off. Philip Collins examines Iain Duncan Smith’s tenure as Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, and Lionel Shriver reveals why she stopped fighting being female. Alan Rusbridger responds to last month’s piece on the Guardian by Stephen Glover. Also in this issue: Nicholas Soames says there’s no such thing as "Project Fear” and Howard Davies reviews Melvyn King’s new book and suggests that we are vulnerable to another financial crisis. Plus Ruth Dudley Edwards examines the fading myths of the Easter Rising and Owen Hatherley suggests it’s time to look for a Plan B to solve London’s housing issues.