Blog archive: Syria

  • 4th December 2012
    By
    Brian Whitaker
    Each day's news brings more reasons to believe the Assad regime's fall cannot be far away. Viewed individually these signs may not in themselves spell doom for the regime but collectively they do. 1. Withdrawal of UN and diplomatic personnel: The UN announced yesterday that it has ...
  • 29th October 2012
    By
    Brian Whitaker
    Syria is increasingly becoming a battleground for Iraq's internal politics as Sunni and Shia elements from Iraq join the fray on opposite sides. The influx of Sunni militants into Syria from across its eastern border has been widely reported, but we have heard far less about their Shia...
  • 20th October 2012
    By
    Brian Whitaker
    On Friday morning Lakhdar Brahimi, the international envoy who is trying to broker a truce in Syria, warned: "This conflict, label it as you wish, if it continues, will not be limited to the Syrian borders." By Friday afternoon it appeared that Brahimi's prophecy was being fulfilled when a...
  • 29th September 2012
    By
    Brian Whitaker
    A no-fly zone may yet be established in Syria – not imposed by foreign powers but through the efforts of rebel fighters on the ground. Air power is almost the only area of the conflict where the Assad regime still has a clear advantage, and the rebels are now beginning to challenge that. The...
  • 20th September 2012
    By
    Brian Whitaker
    With events in Gaza dominating the news from the Middle East, the long-running conflict in Syria has slid down in the headlines. To the extent that Syria is being reported at all, the main story for several days has been of political wrangling over leadership of the opposition. This is...
  • 6th August 2012
    By
    Brian Whitaker
    In the debate on Syria at the UN General Assembly last week, Bashar al-Jaafari, the Syrian representative, hit back at Arab Gulf states which have lined up against the Assad regime, accusing them of dishonest motives. To quote the Syrian government news agency's report of his speech...
  • 23rd July 2012
    By
    Brian Whitaker
    Following last week's assassination of several key figures, there are signs that the Assad regime is beginning to feel seriously threatened. It has taken the unprecedented step of warning the public that two of its most central institutions – the Republican Guard and the state TV – should be viewed...
  • 14th June 2012
    By
    Brian Whitaker
    So, is it a civil war or not? This question has dominated much of the public discussion about Syria over the last couple of days. Some say it is a civil war and some say it isn't, while others warn that if it isn't a civil war already it's going to become one very soon. "Civil war", of course,...
  • 10th June 2012
    By
    Brian Whitaker
    President Assad, like all dictators, is fond of talking about sovereignty. "Our guiding light is always Syria's sovereignty," he said in his speech on Monday.  Sovereignty is indeed at the heart of the Syrian conflict, but not in the way that Assad imagines it. When Assad claims...
  • 4th June 2012
    By
    Brian Whitaker
    How does this sound as a way to end the conflict in Syria? Step one: The Syrian parliament grants immunity from prosecution to President Assad and his closest associates. Step two: Assad resigns as Syria's president but remains head of the Baath party, which in turn continues to...
  • 7th May 2012
    By
    Brian Whitaker
      Election workers in Syria. Photo posted by Lyse Doucet of the BBC (@bbclysedoucet).     To describe today's parliamentary election in Syria as "cosmetic" would probably be over-generous. Nobody expects it to change the political reality and it's unlikely to change...
  • 6th May 2012
    By
    Brian Whitaker
    The Assad regime issued an emphatic denial this morning that it is planning to invite the Dalai Lama for an official visit to Syria.  On the face of it, the idea of Assad hobnobbing with the Tibetan Buddhist leader is preposterous – not least because it would infuriate the Chinese...

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