Blog archive: Syria

  • 10th August 2015
    By
    Brian Whitaker
    There are few things more likely to infuriate Arab citizens than blatant abuse of privilege – when those with powerful connections behave as if the law does not apply to them. This is what led to a rare public outburst at the weekend in the Syrian city of Latakia in the Assad regime's heartland...
  • 8th August 2015
    By
    Brian Whitaker
    Rather belatedly, the United Nations has taken its first concrete step towards ending impunity for chemical attacks in Syria. Although any criminal charges are still a distant prospect, the move may be aimed more immediately at halting the use of chlorine as a weapon.  On Friday the...
  • 28th July 2015
    By
    Brian Whitaker
    The grubby relationship between GNRD – a supposedly "neutral and impartial" human rights organisation – and the PYD, a Kurdish political party, continues. Anne-Marie Lizin, the discredited Belgian politician who revels in the title of GNRD's "High Commissioner for...
  • 16th July 2015
    By
    Brian Whitaker
    A very peculiar story from Syria: the Assad regime has produced a new – revised – version of the Qur'an designed to prevent "misleading" interpretations. It's peculiar because messing about with the text of the holy book would, in the eyes of any normal believer, amount to sacrilege. The Qur'an...
  • 30th June 2015
    By
    Brian Whitaker
      In a blog post last week I wrote about the Global Network for Rights and Development (GNRD) and its extensive network of Palestinian connections. Since then, as part of my continuing investigation, I have been looking at GNRD's Syrian connections. Syria actually gets more attention...
  • 28th April 2015
    By
    Brian Whitaker
    The last few days have brought a spate of articles about Syria, all noting that the Assad regime is under increasingly serious pressure: Assad’s hold on power looks shakier than ever as rebels advance in Syria (Washington Post) The Assad Regime: The Beginning of the End?...
  • 4th December 2014
    By
    Brian Whitaker
    In a blog post yesterday I quoted from a study of school textbooks in an Arab country and invited readers to guess which country it was talking about. The textbook in question was aimed at 14-15 year-olds and it informed them: "Islam accepts only two choices for pagans: that they...
  • 3rd December 2014
    By
    Brian Whitaker
    Here's a little puzzle for readers. Can you work out which Arab country the the writer is talking about in the passage below? Its school textbooks for 14-15 year-olds say that pagans should be killed if they don't convert to Islam:  "It is tucked away in the ninth grade [textbook] under...
  • 25th September 2014
    By
    Brian Whitaker
    Yesterday's session of the UN General Assembly brought fine words from President Obama.  "Humanity’s future," he said, "depends on us uniting against those who would divide us along the fault lines of tribe or sect, race or religion". And yet, despite the noble sentiments, his speech...
  • 5th March 2014
    By
    Brian Whitaker
    A report issued on Wednesday by the UN Human Rights Council came closer than any previous UN report to blaming the Syrian government for the chemical attacks near Damascus last August, as well as an earlier attack in Khan al-Assal. While not directly accusing the Assad regime, the report...
  • 12th February 2014
    By
    Brian Whitaker
    “One day, it will be an Alawite who finally kills Assad.” This rather startling prediction – that the Syrian president’s own community will eventually turn against him – comes in a blog post from Aboud Dandachi, an activist now living in Turkey. Dandachi, it should be noted, used to...
  • 12th February 2014
    By
    Brian Whitaker
    The Geneva talks on Syria resumed this week with the opposition eager to see the question of political transition figuring prominently on the agenda while the regime seeks to avoid that at all costs. Today, the opposition played rather a smart move by issuing due to go anyway in May,...

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