In the summer of 2012, a loose network of social justice activists in the Middle East, Europe and North America that had worked together in previous projects related to Palestine, Lebanon and Egypt began to discuss forms of action with respect to the crisis in Syria. They were concerned that nearly all the discourse in the West was in favor of military conflict and imperialist interests. One of them, Eva Bartlett, created a list serve, firstname.lastname@example.org to provide a means of sharing information and discussion.
In August, some of the activists met at the Anti-Imperialist Camp in Assisi, Italy and formed a small delegation that went to Syria soon after. For the remainder of the year, they made plans for a larger international delegation to go to Syria on a solidarity and fact-finding mission in order to bring back informed recommendations and a different narrative for promulgation.
Simultaneously and independently, the Syrian Mussalaha (“Reconciliation”) movement, which had formed in December, 2011, began taking its message to the West, largely through the efforts of Mother Agnes-Mariam of the Cross, Mother Superior of the Monastery of St. James the Mutilated near Qara, Syria. She made contact with Nobel Peace Laureate Mairead Maguire, and did speaking tours of Australia and Ireland, and by the end of 2012, they, too, were making plans for an international delegation to Syria.
The Mussalaha delegation eventually took place in May, 2013, under the leadership of Mairead Maguire, with Mussalaha as the host organization, with Mother Agnes-Mariam as their representative. Following the delegation, a number of subscribers to the nosyriaintervention list serve decided to try to create a North America speaking tour for Mother Agnes. They therefore formed a nonprofit organization to sponsor the tour and, more generally, to provide alternate Syrian views of the crisis, to study alternate means of resolution and to pursue an end to the crisis, based upon principles set forth in the mission statement of the new organization.
On this basis, the Syria Solidarity Movement formed a Steering Committee, which designed and implemented the Mother Agnes-Mariam North America speaking tour and intends to undertake similar projects in support of its mission.