Blog archive: Syria

  • 2nd January 2012
    By
    Brian Whitaker
    Syria began 2011 with its economy in relatively good health. A year later, it looks very different: everything is getting worse and will continue to do so until the uprising ends. As I have said before, the state of the economy will be a major factor in determining how long the Assad...
  • 22nd December 2011
    By
    Brian Whitaker
    It is possible but – on the basis of what is known so far – not particularly probable that the explosions in Damascus on Friday were the work of al-Qaeda or elements of the Syrian opposition. What cannot be disputed, though, is that the "attacks" provide support for the regime's official line about...
  • 21st December 2011
    By
    Brian Whitaker
    The collapse of the Assad regime was never going to be swift. Since the early days of the uprising last March, my feeling all along was that it wouldn't happen this year. And even if it were to happen tomorrow, the opposition is sill far from ready to take over.  Next year, though, is a...
  • 20th December 2011
    By
    Brian Whitaker
    Syria finally agreed to the Arab League's "reconciliation" initiative on Monday. The fact that President Assad delegated the task of signing it to his deputy foreign minister, and that this happened on a day that brought the largest number of deaths since the uprising began – 114 according to...
  • 5th December 2011
    By
    Brian Whitaker
    Razan Ghazzawi, a prominent Syrian blogger and rights activist, was arrested on Sunday while travelling to Jordan for a conference on freedom of expression. One of her friends told Reuters: "She was arrested as she presented her passport to immigration at the Syrian border post of...
  • 13th November 2011
    By
    Brian Whitaker
    For the second time this year, the Arab League – usually regarded as one of the world's most ineffectual and divided organisations – has shown a surprising sense of unity and purpose with regard to one of its own members' behaviour.  In March it called for a no-fly zone over Libya...
  • 5th November 2011
    By
    Brian Whitaker
    Largely unnoticed in the midst of other events, it was the turn of Syria to come up for scrutiny by the UN Human Rights Council last month, under the periodic review system. As part of the review process each country has to submit a self-assessment report describing its efforts in the...
  • 29th August 2011
    By
    Brian Whitaker
    Just three days after Syria's best-known political cartoonist, Ali Ferzat, was beaten up by the regime's thugs, President Assad issued a decree on Sunday to "reform" the country's media law. This is the latest in a series of apparently futile "reforms" announced by the president...
  • 26th July 2011
    By
    Brian Whitaker
    Syria's official news agency has released some details of the draft law for political parties which was approved by the cabinet on Sunday. Though hailed by the information minister as "modern" and laying the foundations for a new era of pluralism, the law looks remarkably similar to those...
  • 17th June 2011
    By
    Brian Whitaker
    Rami Makhlouf – the cousin of President Assad and Syria's most important businessman – has announced that he is giving up some of his business interests in a move apparently calculated to appease anti-government protesters. Makhlouf, who is generally regarded as a symbol of corruption and...
  • 13th June 2011
    By
    Brian Whitaker
    The "Gay Girl in Damascus" mystery was solved, up to a point, on Sunday when Tom MacMaster, a 40-year-old postgraduate student at Edinburgh university, announced that he was the person behind the blog, and apologised.  The confession came after investigations established...
  • 11th June 2011
    By
    Brian Whitaker
    The speculation about Amina Araf, aka Gay Girl in Damascus, reminds me of a similar episode in 2003 when many in the west were captivated by the writings of an Iraqi blogger who called himself Salam Pax. His posts from Baghdad during and shortly before the US-led invasion became a...

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