Blog archive: Syria

  • 26th November 2010
    By
    Brian Whitaker
    Syria and the International Atomic Energy Authority seem to have reached an impasse over nuclear inspections. According to a report this week, Syria is refusing access "to numerous suspect sites and has provided scant or inconsistent information about its atomic activities". The...
  • 30th August 2010
    By
    Brian Whitaker
    Salam Kawakibi, of the Arab Reform Initiative and the University of Amsterdam, has produced two interesting papers about Syria: one on the media, the other on the internet. The Private Media in Syria gives a brief history of the official media under the Baathist regime then looks...
  • 16th July 2010
    By
    Brian Whitaker
    The French parliament's vote to ban the niqab has aroused international controversy. Meanwhile, Syria's attempt to ban the niqab in schools has attracted less attention. The Economist saysabout 1,200 teachers are affected and some of them have been transferred to other jobs...
  • 4th July 2010
    By
    Brian Whitaker
    Writing in the Saudi-owned paper, as-Sharq al-Awsat, Hussein Shobokshi discusses the recent visit to Syria by senior figures from leading American IT companies: Microsoft, Dell, Cisco Systems and Symantec. He points out that the ability of these companies to do business in...
  • 30th June 2010
    By
    Brian Whitaker
    Around 25 men arrested at gay parties in Syria earlier this year are expected to go on trial shortly, according to a note posted on Facebook. Seventeen of them are facing three to seven years in jail for "unnatural acts" while others are likely to be tried for drugs offences. The Gay...
  • 28th June 2010
    By
    Brian Whitaker
    The long-running drought in eastern Syrian – and the upheaval it is causing – has so far received scant attention. The UN's World Food Programme says it has received less than half the $22m needed to support 300,000 vulnerable people this year. Consequently, 110,000 will not be given help...
  • 24th June 2010
    By
    Brian Whitaker
    The Gay Middle East website (GME) has published a reportsummarising the situation for gay people in Syria –a country which is rarely discussed in this connection. Although "carnal relations against the order of nature" are still punishable by up to three years in jail, GME detects some...
  • 26th April 2010
    By
    Brian Whitaker
    Writing on the Syria Comment blog, Joshua Landis asks: "Why are US analysts surprised that Syria arms Hizbullah?" It's a good question, reflecting a lack of balance in US policy when it comes to Syria and Israel. Referring to current debate about sending a US ambassador to Syria, Landis...
  • 19th February 2010
    By
    Brian Whitaker
    As the US prepares to send an ambassador to Syria for the first time in five years, elements on the American right are fighting a limp rearguard action against engagement with the Damascus regime. Syria expert Joshua Landis discusses this on his blog and argues that sanctions have...
  • 27th January 2010
    By
    Brian Whitaker
    Syria has launched a new initiative to "create more space for civil society to work", according to Rami Khouri in the Lebanese Daily Star. He discusses a conference in Damascus last weekend on “the emerging role of civil society in development”, which was addressed by First Lady Asma...
  • 9th December 2009
    By
    Brian Whitaker
    Following the unlamented closure of the government-run Syria Times last year, a new English-language daily is being launched in Damascus today. It's called Baladna English and it's produced by the United Group, already publishes the Arabic-language Baladna. So far, there's nothing...
  • 4th December 2009
    By
    Brian Whitaker
    The explosion in Damascus yesterday that wrecked the back and side of an Iranian bus, killed at least three people, started a fire and smashed windows in a building nearby was caused by the bursting of an over-inflated tyre – at least, according to the Syrian interior minister who...

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