Blog archive: Syria

  • 7th May 2012
    By
    Brian Whitaker
      Election workers in Syria. Photo posted by Lyse Doucet of the BBC (@bbclysedoucet).     To describe today's parliamentary election in Syria as "cosmetic" would probably be over-generous. Nobody expects it to change the political reality and it's unlikely to change...
  • 6th May 2012
    By
    Brian Whitaker
    The Assad regime issued an emphatic denial this morning that it is planning to invite the Dalai Lama for an official visit to Syria.  On the face of it, the idea of Assad hobnobbing with the Tibetan Buddhist leader is preposterous – not least because it would infuriate the Chinese...
  • 27th March 2012
    By
    Brian Whitaker
    The Russian foreign ministry has developed a sudden enthusiasm for the work of Human Rights Watch after the New York based organisation issued a statement last week accusing armed opposition elements of committing abuses in Syria. Konstantin Dolgov, the Russian foreign ministry's...
  • 20th March 2012
    By
    Brian Whitaker
    As soon as the leaked "Assad emails" began to appear last week, As'ad AbuKhalil (who blogs as The Angry Arab) announced, very confidently, that they were a hoax. "It is so lacking in credibility," he wrote. "It took me minutes to reach my conclusion. Al-'Alam TV guy is giving advice to Asad...
  • 18th March 2012
    By
    Brian Whitaker
    Dictators often have an odd relationship with the arts. The late Hafez al-Assad, for instance, dreamed of providing Damascus with a fine new opera house. He never saw it completed but in 2004 it was finally opened by his son and daughter-in-law, Bashar and Asma. Next week, The Assad House for...
  • 13th March 2012
    By
    Brian Whitaker
    This week brings the first anniversary of the Syrian uprising, and the occasion will be marked by demonstrations against the Assad regime in various countries. One of them will be in London on Saturday and among those taking part, apparently, will be Lizzie Phelan. Phelan,...
  • 10th March 2012
    By
    Brian Whitaker
    Last November I wrote about Syria's rather surreal attempts to persuade the UN Human Rights Council that it is making progress on human rights – "the right to peaceful assembly is afforded under the Syrian constitution", "a human rights syllabus is taught in relevant educational...
  • 11th February 2012
    By
    Brian Whitaker
    It has long been assumed that the pro-government demonstrations in Syria are anything but spontaneous – that government employees and the like are obliged to take part in them. A series of intercepted emails from the Ministry of Presidential Affairs now provides some confirmation of this –...
  • 11th February 2012
    By
    Brian Whitaker
    Lizzie Phelan, the British "independent journalist" whose fanciful reporting of the Libyan conflict attracted a good deal of attention on the internet last year, appeared on Russia Today yesterday, blaming Britain, Israel, France and the US for the double bombing in the Syrian city of...
  • 9th February 2012
    By
    Brian Whitaker
    You may have been wondering what happened to Lizzie Phelan, the British "independent journalist" who reported Colonel Gaddafi's numerous successes against the rebels in Libya last year. Well, the fall of Gaddafi didn't bring an end to her endeavours. Last month she re-surfaced in Syria, once...
  • 18th January 2012
    By
    Brian Whitaker
    Another insidious myth is doing the rounds: that 55% of Syrians support president Assad. The figure was cited by Aisling Byrne in an article which I critiqued recently. Now, it has surfaced again in an article by Jonathan Steele for the Guardian. While it is undoubtedly true that...
  • 8th January 2012
    By
    Brian Whitaker
    Denying the authenticity of the Syrian uprising is a central plank of the Assad regime's propaganda message – that the whole thing, as the official news agency put it recently, is a "Zio-American" plot.  To anyone who has been following events in Syria closely since last March, the...

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