Unlikely seeds of democracy in Syria

Robin Yassin-Kassab, reporting for The National

Daraya, a suburb west of Damascus now suffering its fourth year under starvation siege, is run by a council. Its 120 members select executives by vote every six months. The council head is chosen by public election. The council runs schools, a hospital,and a public kitchen, and manages urban agricultural production. Its office supervises the Free Syrian Army militias defending the town. Amid constant bombardment, Daraya’s citizen journalists produce a newspaper, Enab Baladi, which promotes non-violent resistance. In a country once known as a ‘kingdom of silence’, there are more than 60 independent newspapers and many free radio stations.”


Towns could legislate locally according to their demographic and cultural composition and mood. The alternative to enhanced local control is new borders, new ethnic cleanings, new wars. At the very least, the councils deserve political recognition by the United States and others. Council members should be a key presence on the opposition’s negotiating team at any talks.

Localism as an answer to the many woes brought upon by globalisation is not such a far-fetched idea. Mix this with Yaneer Bar-Yam’s idea on teamwork and we have something interesting.