Articles by Brian Whitaker

This is a collection of my articles about the Middle East, mostly written for the The Guardian newspaper and its website. The articles are grouped chronologically and according to country.

Articles in chronological order:
2016 | 2015 | 2014 | 2013 | 2012 | 2011 | 2010 | 2009 | 2008 | 2007 | 2006 | 2005 | 2004 | 2003 | 2002 | 2001 | 2000 | 1999 | 1998

Articles listed by country:
Algeria | Bahrain | Egypt | Iran | Iraq | Kuwait | Lebanon | Libya | Oman | Palestine/Israel | Qatar | Saudi Arabia | Syria | Tunisia | United Arab Emirates | Yemen


Archive: Syria

Syria's stalemate raises the spectre of civil war 
Comment Is Free, 15 Sep 2011

Assad's opponents are putting pressure on the international community to act in Syria, but who would intervene, and how?

Saudi Arabia's message to Syria, decoded
Comment Is Free, 8 Aug 2011

It is Iranian influence, not the killing of civilians, that Saudi Arabia is concerned about as it recalls its ambassador in Syria

Gay Girl in Damascus was an arrogant fantasy
Comment Is Free, 13 Jun 2011

Tom MacMaster's hoax blog undermines, rather than illuminates, awareness of the realities of being gay in the Middle East

Syria will change – with or without Assad
Comment Is Free, 9 May 2011

Even if Syria's president manages to quell the current uprising, it doesn't mean he has won

This time, brutal crackdown in Syria may not work 
Comment Is Free, 25 Apr 2011

Assad's promises of reform have failed to stop the widespread protest – but Syria is no longer cut off from the outside world

Bashar al-Assad's strategy in Syria is self-defeating 
Comment Is Free, 19 Apr 2011

Syrians will not be won over by promises of reform from a regime that continues to kill protesters and spread disinformation

Syria has heard all this reform talk before 
Comment Is Free, 8 Apr 2011

Bashar al-Assad is promising change in a bid to placate Sunnis and Kurds – but how many people in Syria believe him?
64 comments

Syria: the boldness of Bashar al-Assad 
Comment Is Free, 31 Mar 2011

Bashar al-Assad's seemingly relaxed attitude to reform is either supreme confidence or extreme recklessness

Twenty things you need to know about Syria 
The Guardian, 25 Mar 2011

A brief guide to key facts everyone should know about Syria

When is a dictator not a dictator?  
Comment Is Free, 18 Dec 2009

Bashar al-Assad leads an authoritarian regime, but the workings of power in a country such as Syria are surprisingly complex

Satellite evidence 
Comment Is Free, October 25, 2007 

Pictures of what could be a nuclear reactor cast new light on Israel's mysterious bombing of a site in Syria.

Syria stands to gain from Lebanon's pain 
Guardian, July 31 2006

The Bakdash ice-cream parlour is one of the great institutions of old Damascus, established in 1895 and renowned throughout the city. Among the more distinguished visitors to have sampled its produce is the king of Jordan, whose photo hangs prominently on the wall. Hassan Nasrallah, the leader of Hizbullah, may be too busy just now to drop in for a pistachio-sprinkled cornet ...

Assad pledges support for UN Hariri inquiry 
Guardian, Friday March 17 2006

Syria's president, Bashar al-Assad, said last night he would meet a UN commission investigating the murder of the former Lebanese prime minister Rafik Hariri. 

UN wants to question Assad in Hariri inquiry 
The Guardian, January 03 2006

The UN commission investigating the assassination of the former Lebanese prime minister Rafik Hariri has asked to interview Syria's president, Bashar al-Assad, the commission said yesterday.

Syria accuses former vice-president of treason for Hariri claim 
The Guardian, January 02 2006

Syria's ruling Ba'ath party has expelled the former vice-president Abdel-Halim Khaddam and intends to put him on trial for treason, the country's official news agency, Sana, said yesterday.

Syria 'will let Hariri death inquiry see Assad relatives' 
The Guardian, November 02 2005

The UN commission investigating the murder of the former Lebanese prime minister Rafik Hariri can question two relatives of the Syrian president, Syria's ambassador in London said yesterday.

UN demands Syria's cooperation in Hariri inquiry but retreats from sanctions threat 
The Guardian, November 01 2005

UN security council members unanimously adopted a resolution yesterday demanding that Syria cooperate with an international inquiry into the killing of the former Lebanese prime minister Rafik Hariri.

Could Syria have been so stupid? 
The Guardian, October 25 2005

Tens of thousands of Syrians took to the streets of Damascus and Aleppo yesterday protesting against the UN report that implicated Syria in the assassination of the former Lebanese prime minister Rafik Hariri.

Rogue Syrians must be held to account, says US 
The Guardian, October 22 2005

George Bush called last night for the UN security council to take up urgently the question of Syrian involvement in the assassination of Rafik Hariri, the former Lebanese prime minister, saying the international community had to hold Damascus accountable.

Assad's brother-in-law named over Hariri death 
The Guardian, October 19 2005

A UN investigator has named the brother-in-law of Syrian president Bashar al-Assad as a suspect in the killing of the former Lebanese prime minister, Rafik Hariri, a German magazine said yesterday.

Syrian state inquiry finds minister killed himself 
The Guardian, October 14 2005

An official investigation into the death of the Syrian interior minister, Ghazi Kanaan, has found that he committed suicide, government newspapers in Damascus reported yesterday amid growing international scepticism.

Middle East tension rises as UN prepares to accuse Syria of Hariri assassination 
The Guardian, September 23 2005

UN investigators will next month directly implicate the Syrian government in the assassination of Rafik Hariri, the former Lebanese prime minister, potentially igniting a new Middle East crisis.

Damascene subversion 
Guardian Unlimited, September 19 2005

An extraordinary sense of foreboding has developed among Syria-watchers over the last few days - a feeling that momentous events are just around the corner. Some even suggest the regime of the president, Bashar al-Assad, could fall within a matter of months.

Long shadow of the Beirut massacre  
The Guardian, September 06 2005

The arrest last week of four Lebanese generals on charges of murder, attempted murder and terrorism is an unprecedented event in the Middle East: high-ranking officers have been arrested before - often on trumped-up charges 

Afraid to let go 
The Guardian, June 06 2005 

More than 1,000 members of the Syrian Ba'ath party are gathering in Damascus today for what the Syrian president, Bashar al-Assad, has promised will be a great leap forward on the road to reform. 

The power of words 
The Guardian, November 23 2004

Damascus would do well to defuse anti-Syrian sentiment in Beirut and the wider world with an offer of dialogue ...

Suspicious sanctions 
The Guardian, May 17 2004

President Bush finally got round to imposing sanctions on Syria last week, much to the delight of Israel. "This is an important decision that proves, once again, the resolve of the United States to wage all-out war - not just against terrorist groups, bu...

Syria dusts off maps of Golan Heights battlefields following Israeli attack
The Guardian, November 10 2003

They call it Shouting Valley - a remote spot in the Golan Heights where Syrians go to meet their relatives on the opposite side. Across the valley they can see each other and wave, but it is not easy to talk.

Syrian whispers
The Guardian, October 28 2003

The old Soviet Union had two main newspapers - Pravda ("The Truth") and Izvestia ("The News"). Russians used to joke that there was no news in "The Truth" and no truth in "The News".

A secluded resort, fine for regime leaders looking to get away from it all
The Guardian, April 22 2003

The hotel is described as luxury class and it boasts the longest private beach on the Mediterranean. But is it really a place where an ex-dictator and his chums would hide? ...

Syria's stark choice
The Guardian, April 21 2003

There's a good deal of paranoia in Syria these days, much of it justified.

Old guard faces crisis as heat turns on Syria
The Guardian, April 18 2003

At the moment when American forces swept into Baghdad and Iraqis began attacking the symbols of Saddam Hussein's rule, Syrian television interrupted its live coverage of the war to bring viewers a programme about Islamic art and architecture.

Misplaced politics in Damascus
The Guardian, November 05 2001

Two days after Tony Blair's flying circus left town, a defiant and very different event took place in the suburbs of Damascus - one organised by Islamic Jihad. In fact, rarely have so many representatives of what Mr Blair would term "global terrorism" been gathered together in the same spot.

Cartoonist gives Syria a new line in freedom
The Guardian, April 03 2001

Politics has never been much fun in Syria, but the cartoonist Ali Farzat believes that jokes are the way to bring about reform.

Syrians fall victim to racism in Lebanon
The Guardian, March 19 2001

Last Wednesday traffic in Beirut - probably the Middle East's most frenetic city - came to a halt. The cause of the chaos, depending how you look at it, was either a student protest against the Syrian presence in Lebanon or the roadblocks set up to control the protesters.

Syria looks to the future
The Guardian, March 13 2001

Journalists used to return from visits to Syria with tales of government paranoia, of being escorted everywhere by government minders or tailed by the secret police -and eventually devising some brilliant ruse to give them the slip.

Middle East stares war in the face
Guardian Unlimited, 12 March, 2001

US urges Syria to be tougher on Iraq
The Guardian, 27 February, 2001

Baghdad starts oil flowing in pipeline to Syria
The Guardian, 23 November, 2000

Syria to free 600 political prisoners
The Guardian, 17 November, 2000

Syrians endorse Bashar
July 11 2000

One month after the death of President Hafez al-Assad, Syrian voters turned out yesterday to confirm the succession of his 34-year-old son, Bashar.

Challenger backs off ... for the moment
The Guardian, 14 June, 2000 

City in black as leaders arrive
The Guardian, 13 June, 2000

Syrian heir disputed by uncle
The Guardian, 13 June, 2000

Why Israel must help Bashar
Guardian Unlimited, 13 June, 2000

Gloomy prospects for peace process
The Guardian, 12 June, 2000

Dictator's son inherits a fragile peace
11 June, 2000

Flight from border zone turns spotlight on Syria
The Guardian, 25 May, 2000

Drive to get Syria on peace train
The Guardian, 4 May, 2000