Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Deraa (درعا‎) Today and in November, 1917

          I"The 2011 Syrian uprising is a series of major protests taking place in Syria, which began on 26 January 2011, influenced by concurrent protests in the region.  The uprising has been described as "unprecedented".

           Hundreds of protesters and security personnel have allegedly been killed, and many more injured, in the largest protests to take place in the country for decades.  The United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon condemned the use of deadly force against protesters as "unacceptable".

          Syria has been governed under an Emergency Law since 1962, resulting in the effective suspension of most constitutional protections for citizens. President Hafez al-Assad was in office for 30 years and his son President Bashar al-Assad has been in office since 2000.

25 April, 2011
      Tanks and soldiers entered Daraa and Douma. The border with Jordan was also closed. According to an activist, 18 people were killed in Daraa."

27 November Deraa: News update link from New York Times, click here

II.   From The Seven Pillars of Wisdom (T.E. Lawrence, 1922) -- Deraa, November, 1917:

        "They kicked me to the head of the stairs, and stretched me over a guard-bench, pommelling me.  Two knelt on my ankles, bearing down on the back of my knees, while two more twisted my wrists till they cracked, and then crushed them and my neck against the wood.  The corporal had run downstairs; and now came back with a whip of the Circassian sort, a thong of supple black hide, rounded and tapering from the thickness of a thumb at the grip (which was wrapped in silver) down to a hard point finer than a pencil.

        He saw me shivering, partly I think, with cold, and made it whistle over my ear, taunting me that before his tenth cut I would howl for mercy, and at the twentieth beg for the caresses of the Bey; and then he began to lash me madly across and across with all his might, while I locked my teeth to endure this thing which lapped itself like flaming wire around my body.

        To keep my mind in control I numbered the blows, but after twenty lost count, and could feel only the shapeless weight of pain, not tearing claws, for which I  had prepared, but a gradual cracking apart of my whole being by some too-great force whose waves rolled up my spine till they were pent within my brain, to clash terribly together.  Somewhere in the place a cheap clock ticked loudly, and it distressed me that their beating was not in its time.  I writhed and twisted, but was held so tightly that my struggles were useless.  After the corporal ceased, the men took up, very deliberately, giving me so many, and then an interval, during which they would squabble for the next turn, ease themselves, and play unspeakably with me.  This was repeated often, for what my have been no more than ten minutes. Always for the first of every new series, my head would be pulled round, to see how a hard white ridge, like a railway, darkening slowly into crimson, leaped over my skin at the instant of each stroke, with a bead of blood where two ridges crossed.  As the punishment proceeded the whip fell more and more upon existing weals, biting blacker or more wet, till my flesh quivered with accumulated pain and with my terror of the next blow coming.  The soon conquered my determination not to cry, but while my will ruled my lips used only Arabic, and before the end a merciful sickness choked my utterance.

     At last when I was completely broken they seemed satisfied.

     In Deraa that night the citadel of my integrity had been irrevocably lost."

III.    "Daraa (Arabic: درعا‎), also Darʿā, Dara’a, Deraa, Dera ("fortress", compare Dura-Europos) and Derʿā, is a city in southwestern Syria, near the border with Jordan, with a population of approximately 75,000. It is the capital of Daraa Governorate, historically part of the ancient Hauran region. The city is located about 100 kilometres (62 mi) south of Damascus on the Damascus-Amman highway, and is used as a stopping station for travelers.

                   Daraa is an ancient city dating back to the Canaanites. It was mentioned in Egyptian hieroglyphic tablets at the time of the Pharaoh Thutmose III between 1490 and 1436 BC. It was known in those days as the city of Atharaa, and was later mentioned in the Old Testament as Edrei in the Kingdom of Bashan. Located in the city itself are a few ruins including caves and ancient dwellings, a Roman amphitheater, and the old Oumari Mosque which is of some architectural significance, dating back to the Umayyad and Ayyubid eras.

                Daraa has recently suffered from reduced water supply in the region. Thousands of people protested in the city as part of the 2011 Syrian protests"


  1. I would really appreciate if you could speak with me about your thoughts on the uprising. I am trying so hard to understand what's going on, but being in the UK and only being able to read the English articles, I feel I am getting biased information. I also used the image that you have shown at the top, it's beautiful. I hope you don't mind.
    Great blog. :)

  2. I would love to correspond with you about this. You can reach me at I'm no expert on this, but only have a lot of general knowledge (probably like yourself). I tend to think that one development that was nurtured and accelerated by the George W. Bush "freedom agenda" (a term derided by US political liberals) was the so-called Arab Spring. I find my country's inconsistent (to say the least) support for the various national uprisings, notably the one in Syria, shameful. I think the images here are powerful also. In this country, the differences between conservative and liberal have become extremely odd and often unpredictable. Thank you very much for visiting and writing. I try (as you may have noticed) to vary things here, to cover a lot of subjects and to keep things entertaining, although the horrors in Syria don't exactly fit that description. Curtis