X

Create an account to continue reading.

Registered readers have access to our blogs and a limited number of magazine articles
For unlimited access to The Spectator, subscribe below

Registered readers have access to our blogs and a limited number of magazine articles

Sign in to continue

Already have an account?

What's my subscriber number?

Subscribe now from £1 a week

Online

Unlimited access to The Spectator including the full archive from 1828

Print

Weekly delivery of the magazine

App

Phone & tablet edition of the magazine

Spectator Club

Subscriber-only offers, events and discounts
 
View subscription offers

Already a subscriber?

or

Subscribe now for unlimited access

ALL FROM JUST £1 A WEEK

View subscription offers

Thank you for creating your account – To update your details click here to manage your account

Thank you for creating your account – To update your details click here to manage your account

Thank you for creating an account – Your subscriber number was not recognised though. To link your subscription visit the My Account page

Thank you for creating your account – To update your details click here to manage your account

X

Login

Don't have an account? Sign up
X

Subscription expired

Your subscription has expired. Please go to My Account to renew it or view subscription offers.

X

Forgot Password

Please check your email

If the email address you entered is associated with a web account on our system, you will receive an email from us with instructions for resetting your password.

If you don't receive this email, please check your junk mail folder.

X

It's time to subscribe.

You've read all your free Spectator magazine articles for this month.

Subscribe now for unlimited access – from just £1 a week

You've read all your free Spectator magazine articles for this month.

Subscribe now for unlimited access

Online

Unlimited access to The Spectator including the full archive from 1828

Print

Weekly delivery of the magazine

App

Phone & tablet edition of the magazine

Spectator Club

Subscriber-only offers, events and discounts
X

Sign up

What's my subscriber number? Already have an account?

Thank you for creating your account – To update your details click here to manage your account

Thank you for creating your account – To update your details click here to manage your account

Thank you for creating an account – Your subscriber number was not recognised though. To link your subscription visit the My Account page

Thank you for creating your account – To update your details click here to manage your account

X

Your subscriber number is the 8 digit number printed above your name on the address sheet sent with your magazine each week.

Entering your subscriber number will enable full access to all magazine articles on the site.

If you cannot find your subscriber number then please contact us on customerhelp@subscriptions.co.uk or call 0330 333 0050.

You can create an account in the meantime and link your subscription at a later time. Simply visit the My Account page, enter your subscriber number in the relevant field and click 'submit changes'.

Please note: Previously subscribers used a 'WebID' to log into the website. Your subscriber number is not the same as the WebID. Please ensure you use the subscriber number when you link your subscription.

Coffee House

Two years on, the Syrian revolution in numbers

15 March 2013

1:40 PM

15 March 2013

1:40 PM

The original defiance came without malice or forethought. A group of barely pubescent schoolchildren, buoyed by the revolutions in Tunisia and Egypt, bought a can of spray paint. ‘The people want the downfall of the regime,’ they scrawled on the school wall, mimicking the popular slogan of protesters in North Africa. Syria’s already nervous Ba’ath administration would abide no dissent. The boys were arrested and disappeared.

Two years ago today protesters mobilised across the country in support of the missing children, marking the start of the Syrian uprising. It was too late. The boys had already perished. And when Assad’s forces opened fire on protesters, many others perished too.

[Alt-Text]


The government crackdown only fuelled further dissent. Compounding this outrage was the near constant drip feed of footage on YouTube revealing a catalogue of truly unthinkable abuses. Hamza Ali al-Khateeb, a moonfaced 13 year old, was arrested at a protest in April. Days later his family received his corpse. No one needed ask what happened. Khateeb’s body was bruised, battered, and butchered – literally. His skin was torn, twisted, and shorn in a manner which would cause obvious suffering but not death. Cavities from bullet wounds replaced his kneecaps, offering a makeshift ashtray for Assad’s apparatchiks. Khateeb’s penis had been cut off. His father was then detained by state security and hours later appeared on state television wearing a stilted, rigor mortis smile. The deceit was complete when he thanked Bashar al-Assad for retrieving his son’s corpse after ‘terrorists’ had kidnapped him.

Khateeb remains one of the faces of the Syrian revolution in a war that could offer tens of thousands more. The Syrian conflict has, however, fallen victim to the jihadist synecdoche where this one part has comes to characterise the whole. Yes there are jihadists and Islamists fighting Assad, but the opposition is much broader than this.

Although the spectre of jihadist involvement in Syria is an alarming development, it should not overshadow the story of ordinary civilians on the ground. No one talks anymore of the original protesters who demonstrated peacefully under a volley of bullets. The many thousands of victims – male and female – who suffered terrible sexual violence in Syria’s prisons are largely forgotten. Little is written about the thousands orphaned by the conflict.

Two years into the revolution, this is where politicians need to focus their attention: alleviating the overwhelming humanitarian crisis engulfing ordinary people and destroying an entire nation. To contemplate the numbers is to gain an insight into the scale of the problem. In just 730 days around 70,000 people have died; 200,000 are missing or detained; 1.2 million are internally displaced; 1 million are refugees. The longer this conflict goes on, the more depressing those figures will become.

Subscribe to The Spectator today for a quality of argument not found in any other publication. Get more Spectator for less – just £12 for 12 issues.


Show comments
Close