Blog archive: Syria

  • 29th May 2011
    By
    Brian Whitaker
    On Syria's 11th Friday of protest, dedicated to the spirit of the great Syrian hero Youssef al-Azmeh – who stood in Maysalun with his small band of patriotic soldiers and defied the huge might of France's colonial army, preferring death to servitude – I think of all the brave men and...
  • 21st May 2011
    By
    Brian Whitaker
    On Thursday, President Obama called on the Syrian government to "stop shooting demonstrators and allow peaceful protests". President Assad has a choice, he said: to lead the country through transition "or get out of the way".  On Friday, Assad gave his reply. His forces continued to...
  • 13th May 2011
    By
    Brian Whitaker
    Following the comparatively swift exits of Ben Ali in Tunisia and Mubarak in Egypt, we now have three Arab leaders who face serious challenges to their power but are proving more much difficult to dislodge: Gaddafi in Libya, Salih in Yemen and Assad in Syria. Which of them, I wonder will be the...
  • 26th April 2011
    By
    Brian Whitaker
    So now we know. The citizens of Daraa appealed for help, and the army obliged. For what it's worth, that's the government's line from Damascus. "In response to the calls for help from the citizens of Daraa," the official Syrian news agency says, army units entered the city "to restore...
  • 25th April 2011
    By
    Brian Whitaker
       Syrian forces unleashed a large-scale military offensive in the southern city of Deraa early on Monday. About 3,000 troops – some in standard army uniforms, others in black – entered the city around 4.30 am, accompanied by tanks and began "shooting randomly", according to a...
  • 23rd April 2011
    By
    Brian Whitaker
    The first person to file an application under Syria's new law "permitting" demonstrations – Fadel al-Faisal from Hassakeh in the north-east of the country – ended up being detained for several hours by the authorities, the Guardian reports. That, basically, tells us everything we need to...
  • 22nd April 2011
    By
    Brian Whitaker
    President Assad issued a decree on Thursday ending Syria's 48-year state of emergency, though without abolishing the Emergency Law which will remain in place for possible use in future emergencies. At the same time, he issued another decree (full text here) which ostensibly permits...
  • 21st April 2011
    By
    Brian Whitaker
    An article on al-Jazeera's website explains why optimism about the proposed lifting of Syria's state of emergency is misplaced: it will make little or no difference: "Many of the draconian charges on which opponents of the regime are routinely imprisoned exist either within the Penal...
  • 20th April 2011
    By
    Brian Whitaker
    As protests continued in Syria on Tuesday, the newly-appointed cabinet held its first full-scale meeting and took a series of stepstowards "reform". These included approving a draft decree to end the 48-year state of emergency and replace it with a law "regulating the right to...
  • 19th April 2011
    By
    Brian Whitaker
    Shooting in Homs early on Tuesday. YouTube video posted byalhamoui    In an interview at the end of January, President Assad talked confidently about the lessons of Tunisia and Egypt: in Syria, he was handling things differently. "If you did not see the need for reform before...
  • 17th April 2011
    By
    Brian Whitaker
    President Bashar al-Assad's speech to his new ministers on Saturday was certainly an improvement on the speech he gave to the Syrian parliament at the end of last month. He acknowledged the protesters' grievances, touched on most of the key areas where reform is needed and urged...
  • 15th April 2011
    By
    Brian Whitaker
    The "new" Syrian government was announced on Thursday. Exiled dissident Ammar Abdulhamid comments: "All those who keep betting on Assad the Reformer keep losing, as Assad holds on to his favourite title of Disappointment Maker. The new government is actually the old government...

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