On 27 November 2012, Constitutional Transitions hosted Stephen Starr for a discussion of his recent book, Revolt in Syria: Eye-Witness to the Uprising, and of his experiences living and operating as one of very few accredited journalists in Syria prior to the revolution and for the first twelve months of the still ongoing civil war. A video recording of the event is available here.
Starr’s book was published in August by Columbia University Press, and has attracted widespread praise. The Economist described the book as “vivid, thought-provoking and sometimes shocking” and added that “given that the authorities knew who he was and where he lived, it is impressive that he spoke to such a wide variety of Syrians.”
Starr continued with his journalistic account at the book launch event, providing his analysis of the events unfolding in Syria alongside rich anecdotes about the difficulties he experienced reporting from Syria, especially as the security situation deteriorated and he found himself living in constant paranoia of regime retribution. Starr also offered a nuanced analysis of the conflict raging in Syria, explaining the under-reported divide between urban and rural populations, and attributing the regime’s continued existence to a “silent majority” who benefited economically under the rule of Bashar al-Assad and profited from development in the urban areas.
Starr is the editor of Constitutional Transitions’ @ConstDev Twitter account, which supplies a daily aggregation of worthwhile news and analysis on current constitutional transitions in the Middle East and North Africa. He is currently a Fellow in Global Journalism at the University of Toronto’s Munk School of Global Affairs. His reporting has been published in the Washington Post, the Guardian, Foreign Policy, The London Times, and GlobalPost. He is also the founder and editor-in-chief of Near East Quarterly.