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A Conversation with the Authors of Burning Country: Syrians in Revolution and War

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On April 19, 2016, the Tahrir Institute for Middle East Policy (TIMEP) hosted Robin Yassin-Kassab and Leila Al-Shami at its office in Washington, DC, for a conversation on their book Burning Country: Syrians in Revolution and War. TIMEP Resident Fellow Hassan Hassan, co-author of ISIS: Inside the Army of Terror, moderated the conversation.

The conversation began with a discussion of current journalism on the conflict in Syria and the authors’ motivation to write their book, which is built on interviews conducted with Syrians. Yassin-Kassab and al-Shami discussed the political future of Syria, implications of foreign involvement, and the creation of democratically elected local councils within Syria. At the end of the conversation, both authors noted that they had been able to collect such a diverse sampling of perspectives because there is solidarity among different groups in the desperation to publicize real narratives, speaking again to the lack of informed commentary on the Syrian conflict. 

Questions from attendees centered on the damaging effects of sectarian overtones and the methods employed by the authors for conducting interviews.

Robin Yassin-Kassab is the author of the novel The Road from Damascus and co-editor of the blog, PULSE, at His journalism on Syria and book reviews have appeared in multiple publications, and he has spoken on the BBC, Channel 4, and Al Jazeera.

Leila Al-Shami has been involved in human rights and social justice struggles in Syria and elsewhere in the Middle East. Leila was also a founding member of Tahrir-ICN, a network connecting anti-authoritarian struggles across the Middle East, North Africa, and Europe.