Blog archive: Syria

  • 7th April 2011
    By
    Brian Whitaker
    The "reforms" promised by Syria's president, Bashar al-Assad, got under way on Wednesday with two measures obviously designed to placate religious elements. One was the rescinding of a rule introduced only last July which had banned female teachers from wearing the niqab, or...
  • 2nd April 2011
    By
    Brian Whitaker
    The Syrian uprising appears to be growing but, as with Tunisia last December, it is getting relatively little coverage – especially in comparison with Libya. Libya has no great strategic importance, though of course foreign forces are involved and the events there are the sort that TV companies...
  • 29th March 2011
    By
    Brian Whitaker
    In an interview with the Wall Street Journal last January, President Assad of Syria talked about reform. Not reform under pressure but reform with "conviction", as he put it. "If you did not see the need for reform before what happened in Egypt and in Tunisia," he said, "it is too late to...
  • 27th March 2011
    By
    Brian Whitaker
    SYRIA More protests, more repression. The NOW Lebanon website, which is monitoring events from Beirut, has the latest blow-by-blow updates. Writing for the Syrian Revolution Digest, Ammar Abdulhamid notes that momentum shifted northwards on Saturday to the coastal city of...
  • 26th March 2011
    By
    Brian Whitaker
    The video above shows protesters in Deraa attacking a statue of the former Syrian president, Hafez al-Assad. The scene is highly evocative of Firdous Square in Baghdad, where Saddam Hussein's statue was toppled (with the aid of US troops) in 2003. Indeed, the wobbling statue of Assad...
  • 24th March 2011
    By
    Brian Whitaker
    SYRIA: Security forces opened fire on protesters outside the Omari mosque in Deraa early on Wednesday, killing at least 15 people,according to al-Jazeera. However, the Syrian Revolution Digest, citing activists on the ground, says the number of dead could be 150 or more. Many of...
  • 21st March 2011
    By
    Brian Whitaker
    Aside from Libya, which is getting wall-to-wall media coverage, here are some other noteworthy events from the weekend: SYRIA:  In the southern city of Deraa, protesters clashed with security forces on Sunday, for the third day running. Numerous buildings associated with the regime were...
  • 18th March 2011
    By
    Brian Whitaker
    Today, for the first time, there have been signs of real stirrings against the regime in Syria.  It's worth recalling that just over a month ago, when a "day of rage" was called by opposition members in exile, the only significant presence on the streets was that of the...
  • 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...

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