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Anti-Syrian government protesters in Idlib, Syria Anti-Syrian government protesters mark 10 years since the start of a popular uprising against President Bashar al-Assad’s rule in Idlib, Syria, March 15, 2021 (AP photo by Ghaith Alsayed).

A ‘New Middle East’? Not Quite

Monday, April 12, 2021

Some things haven’t changed in seven years. One of the first pieces I wrote for WPR was on the prospects for transitional justice in Syria someday, roughly three years into a civil war that still hasn’t ended today. The news hook back then was the appearance before the House Foreign Affairs Committee of a former Syrian military photographer, hidden under a blue hoodie and identified only as “Caesar.” He had defected from the regime and smuggled a trove of roughly 55,000 photographs out of Syria, documenting the deaths of some 11,000 prisoners killed in Bashar al-Assad’s jails—many showing signs of torture, their bodies tagged and numbered.

“If Assad stays in power, I don’t see a possibility for transitional justice,” Mohammad Al Abdallah, the executive director of the Syria Justice and Accountability Center, in Washington, told me at the time. Still, he insisted, “the best you can do is document what is happening, because you never know how things will change in the future.” ...

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