At Al-Jumhuriya – from our very inception, twelve years ago to the day – we have often found ourselves caught up in uncertainty, going in circles over names and titles. How can we distill an important idea into a title that’s both clear and engaging? What’s the right name for the new section we’re eager to introduce? Are we accidentally miscommunicating with our choice of keywords? And what happens when the phrasing just doesn’t cut it, and the tenth failed attempt calls for a timely intervention in the editing room?

Even our name was conceived amidst uncertainty over international phone calls, against the backdrop of the political upheaval that unfolded in Syria during 2011 and early 2012. We knew that the name ‘Al-Jumhuriya’ (The Republic) was already used by numerous newspapers and institutions worldwide. Over time, we entered various debates about the word’s ‘official’ connotations and the ambiguous and burdensome notion of ‘statism’ it implies, especially in contexts close to ours, such as Turkey and Egypt. Admittedly, in several brief conversations, Yassin Sweihat and I toyed with the idea of changing our name; yet with each discussion, our doubts about the name diminished and our fondness for it grew.

We remain convinced that a transition to a republic in Syria – moving away from governance by dynasty, caliphate, militia, or foreign powers, and towards governance by free and equal citizens – is a noble goal worth defending. It may be that those of us involved in Arab and regional political thought ought to work harder to reclaim the concept of the ‘republic’, as a model for political assembly and representation, from the grasp of the hegemonic central bureaucratic state.

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As we enter our thirteenth year, we carry on under the same name – Al-Jumhuriya – this time paired with a simple slogan. This is the result of hasty collaborative brainstorming last year, amid the complete chaos that followed the February 6 earthquake. We felt, however, that it managed to encapsulate the central values of our endeavor and our vision for the future in a straightforward and accessible way – though it is neither comprehensive nor free from ambiguity. We considered other options, debated, felt uncertain, and, as usual, went around in circles, before finally making our decision:

All of Syria, All of Liberty.

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Our understanding of the phrase “All of Syria” emerged organically in the midst of our critical journalistic praxis over the past five years, amid deep-seated divisions – in geography, livelihood, and psychology – across Syria among various spheres of influence, and the political marginalization of all Syrians by a woeful mix of de facto powers and entities both regional and international.

The expression “All of Syria” doesn’t stem from outdated nationalist theories, assimilationist or centralist ambitions, or a romanticized notion of national identity that might remove its political nuances and complexities. We simply believe that a nation is defined by its people—their lives, concerns, dreams, and rights—and that a free, safe, and prosperous Syria must inherently be pluralistic, federal, and decentralized. In such a Syria, citizens would be able to freely and rationally navigate and reconcile their diverse local identities and frameworks with the cooperation and integration required for development and international representation.

It remains our view that no single region in Syria can achieve true stability, freedom, justice, and prosperity on its own, whether separate from other regions or from the Syrian diaspora. Thus, when we offer on-the-ground reporting and a free exchange of ideas, it is all of Syria that we seek to address – both in geography and in collective consciousness.

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Likewise, when we say “All of Liberty”, we refer to the fundamental value that guides our journalistic and intellectual efforts. This entails a commitment to uniting its diverse meanings to ensure the sentiment makes sense, both in our local and global contexts.

The right of people to choose their government or resist despotism, whether local or foreign, becomes meaningless if it is not paired with the rights of every individual and every group. This includes the right to live freely and with dignity, to think, to express themselves, and to work in peace according to their convictions and aspirations, without fear of suppression or abolition. Similarly, the ability of individuals and groups to choose their personal, social, and intellectual lifestyles becomes meaningless if such freedom is contingent upon a tyrannical political authority that eliminates the public sphere, oppresses dissenters and rebels, and converts freedoms into conditional privileges.

The freedom of the people cannot be complete without individual freedom, and individual freedom cannot manifest as a political right separately from the collective freedom and sovereignty of the people to govern themselves. Perhaps, to many, this seems obvious: but it is crucial to state it for as long as politics, public interest, and power in Syria and the Arab world remain caught in a tug of war between authoritarian regimes and populist religious movements. The urgency is also global, as long as global liberalism focuses on identity politics at the expense of liberating the general population from poverty and deprivation. Social justice is a pathway to emancipating as many people as possible, challenging populist forces that depict liberation and cultural and social diversity as threats to the public and paint them as the roots of their distress.

“All of Liberty”, then, stems from our understanding that freedom, in reality, can often be fragmented and contradictory. We believe that achieving a decent life for everyone requires reconciling these contradictions through thoughtful consideration, knowledge, discussion, and public engagement.

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Finally, we understand that slogans should be clear and straightforward, embodying the conviction typically associated with religious faith or positive determinism. However, when it comes to politics, intellectual pursuits, or the way people live and get along together, such conviction is something we neither possess nor aspire to. Instead, moments of uncertainty are to be accepted, even welcomed, as an integral part of thinking and forming convictions. This includes embracing the complexity of meanings, the need to clarify our words, and accepting contradiction as a natural aspect of life.

Perhaps our tolerance of uncertainty stems not just from intellectual beliefs but also from our daily praxis as a group, where we discuss, debate, and sometimes disagree, only to come back to find common ground, reassess, and articulate our thoughts in a more nuanced and sensitive way. The processes of doubt, contemplation, and synthesis are to be found not only in reflective solitude, but also in the in-between spaces where people gather, discuss, and continually strive to synthesize differences and agreements.

To everyone who has shared our journey for the past twelve years, we wish you a wonderful year ahead. I hope we can continue to stand together for another twelve years, and ultimately see all of liberty realized throughout all of Syria.