Posted by Joshua on Tuesday, December 22nd, 2009
“It was nonsense to try to isolate Syria,” says the new French ambassador to Damascus, Eric Chevallier. “It was not feasible, and ended up being counterproductive.”
Q&A: Eric Chevallier, French Ambassador to Syria
By John Dagge in Syria Today
We believe that Syria is a key country in the region, not only for political reasons. Economically and geographically, Syria is very important as well. So my task is clear: to build upon this political dynamic in order to strengthen our political, economic, cultural and social relations. This will not necessarily be easy, but it is a clear goal.
Can you update our readers on Franco-Syrian business ties?
There are a number of key and very visible projects underway in Syria. One is the presence of Total [energy company], a very important French firm. A very interesting project is also being carried out by Lafarge [building materials group] which is constructing a cement factory in the north of the country. This project uses the most up-to-date technology and will boast the largest cement compressor in the world. There is also a very successful project with Bel [food group], which is also being carried out in cooperation with Syrian business partners. Most recently, a deal was finalised between the Port of Lattakia and a major French shipping company to modernise the port facility. We also have the new Franco-Syrian Entrepreneurs Club and AFD, the French development agency, which is rapidly establishing a presence here. The AFD office in Damascus was officially opened on October 24. These are all emblematic projects. But it is clear that we need to do more. France can do more with big projects, particularly in the fields of infrastructure, transport, energy and water. We are also keen to develop smaller initiatives. Put simply, although we have a number of emblematic projects underway, we think that the economic relationship does not match the excellent political dynamics and we need to work on this.
French Foreign Minister Brernard Kouchne hailed a visit to Syria by Prime Minister Saad Hariri, uncovering a similar trip by the Lebanese premier to Paris in the coming few days. Kouchner believed Lebanon has achieved “progress,” citing parliamentary elections, establishment of a national unity government and Hariri’s visit to Damascus.
Asked about Hariri’s outcome of his visit to Syria, Kouchner commented: “Parties better talk to each other rather than fight each other.”
He lauded Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s initiative toward Hariri, saying: “I hope I am not mistaken for we have often been disappointed in this country (Syria) in particular.”
the United States and the West have chosen to engage with Syria, not isolate it. And Saudi Arabia, which has long backed Mr. Hariri and competed with Syria for influence here, reconciled with the Syrians earlier this year, leaving them a freer hand to guide politics in Lebanon as they once did.
All this has been known for months, but it was still tremendously important for Mr. Hariri to actually cross the mountains — in his first visit since before his father’s killing — and pay his respects in Damascus.
“The image of Syrian soldiers retreating was a huge blow to them,” said Elias Muhanna, a political analyst and the author of the Lebanese blog Qifa Nabki. “So the image of Hariri coming over the mountains means they’ve come full circle. It demonstrates to all the power centers in Damascus that Bashar has restored Syria’s position of strength vis-à-vis Lebanon.”
The visit also has vivid historical echoes for many Lebanese. In 1977, the Druze leader Walid Jumblatt visited Damascus just weeks after his own father was killed in an attack that is believed to have been arranged by Syria. Like Mr. Hariri, he had little choice: he had to reconcile with Syria if he wanted to continue playing a political role.
“The stability of Lebanon always depends on its environment, and basically this environment is Syria,” Mr. Jumblatt said in an interview on Sunday. “For the sake of Lebanese stability, we have got to put aside personal animosity.”
It is difficult to say exactly what Mr. Hariri’s visit portends in terms of Lebanese-Syrian relations. By one measure, he has already achieved his most important goals: the Syrian Army is gone, and no one expects it to return. The two countries restored diplomatic relations this year. The international tribunal that was formed in 2005 under United Nations auspices to try the elder Hariri’s killers continues its work here and in the Netherlands, where it is based. It could still indict high-ranking Syrians, although most analysts say that seems less likely than it did four years ago.
But most agree that Syria will once again have a powerful, undisputed voice here on issues ranging from cabinet positions to the militant Shiite movement Hezbollah, which Syria supports. The influence is not likely to be as crude as it was during the 1990s, when Syrian officers strutted through Beirut and were accused of raking profits from Lebanese industries. To some here, that is improvement enough. To others, Mr. Hariri’s trip across the mountains was a tragic concession.
Dr. al-Taqi says Baghdad should look closer to home for the culprits. “There are forces in Iraq that want to see it turned into a weak federal state,” he said. “Syria has no interest in that. We don’t want another Lebanon on our border.” …
Commenting on the international red carpet that has been rolled out for Damascus, one Western diplomat said it was hoped that Syria also had learned a lesson. “We want Syria to stop playing with the bad guys and start playing with the good guys,” he said.
This isn’t the attitude of a lot of Syrians, however. Hearing of this remark, an influential Syrian businessman leaned over and said softly: “Playing with the good guys never got us anywhere.” Globe and Mail
I was invited to dinner at Hariri’s house earlier this year and had a long and frank discussion about politics with him and some colleagues. I can’t quote him because the meeting was off the record, but trust me: the man is no friend of the Syrian government or Hezbollah, and it’s not just because someone in that crowd killed his father……
No one has Hariri’s or Lebanon’s back, not anymore. He and his allies in the “March 14″ coalition have sensed this for some time, which is why Druze leader Walid Jumblatt has grudgingly softened his opposition to Assad and Hezbollah lately. When Hariri went to Damascus, everyone in the country, aside from useless newswire reporters, understood it meant Syria has re-emerged as the strong horse in Lebanon.
Walid Jumblatt is another member of what David Schenker calls the Murdered Fathers Club….
It’s bad news for the Lebanese, the Americans, the French, the Saudis, and the Israelis. None of this was inevitable, but — in Lebanon, at least — it was predictable.
Sami Moubayed,”Hariri’s Syria visit sets Lebanon on track”
During the press conference, Hariri said that the “skies were blue” between Syria and Lebanon, promising a new phase of cooperation between the two countries that were once one an entity before being divided by European colonizers only 90 years ago, after World War I.
Hariri tried to put an end to the debate about his visit, saying that it should not be seen as one party scoring a point over the other, “otherwise, we will never move forward”. Many in the Lebanese press said he has made a grand concession by coming to Syria, given accusations in Beirut that the Syrians were responsible for the murder of his father, Rafik, in February 2005.
The Syrians, however, see things very differently. They are convinced that they had nothing to do with the Hariri murder, meaning it is only natural for Hariri to come to Syria since they had done nothing to make him upset in the first place. Every Lebanese prime minister since the 1940s, after all, has made the trip to Syria, even Hariri’s predecessor and protege, Fouad al-Siniora, who came during the lowest points in Syrian Lebanese relations, in 2005.
If Hariri wants to rule Lebanon – and succeed – he needs to have good relations with Syria. Syria after all, according to what he said shortly before heading to Damascus, was Lebanon’s “only neighbor”.
If this relationship was not mended, Hariri realized, his standing would always remain strained with Hezbollah and the Free Patriotic Movement of General Michel Aoun. And in order to rule, he cannot have the Shi’ites or the Maronites at odds with his cabinet. Simply put, a cabinet with no Hezbollah or its sister party, Amal, means one with no Shi’ites – meaning an unconstitutional one.
Hariri tried, with the help of particular strongmen in his March 14 Alliance, to confront the warriors of Hezbollah on the streets of Beirut in May 2008. His men were rounded up in a matter of hours, proving how poorly prepared they were for battle and how powerful Syria and its allies were on the streets of Beirut. This was in response to an attempt by the Hariri-dominated Siniora cabinet to dismantle Hezbollah’s telecommunications network at Beirut International Airport.
Before that, according to Hezbollah, members of his team urged Israel to carry on with its 2006 war on Lebanon, hoping that it would succeed at breaking, or at least weakening, Hezbollah. Hariri after all is an extension of Saudi influence in Lebanon, while Hezbollah is an extension of Iranian weight in Lebanese affairs.
During the heyday of Hariri’s father, an understanding had been reached between the two countries, whereby Rafik Hariri ruled Lebanon and was supported by Hezbollah, who in turn obtained greater decision-making powers along with their allies in the Lebanese state, and were allowed to keep their arms to fight the Israelis.
Now, after trying and failing to get rid of Hezbollah, Hariri has decided to court them – and their Syrian patrons – which partially explains why he landed in Damascus….
Not only did the Saudis encourage Hariri to go to Syria, but they are now preparing to welcome Nasrallah to Saudi Arabia for a groundbreaking visit for the Iran-backed Hezbollah leader.
On another front, Iran, too, is supportive of Hariri, now that he has promised to “protect and embrace” the arms of Hezbollah, meaning that the regional neighborhood is well placed at this stage, like no time since 2005, to help Saad Hariri succeed in his job as premier. He has Iran and Saudi Arabia behind him, and now the Syrians, and is already backed by big-hitters in the international community such as France and the US. Times could not be better for the 69th prime minister of Lebanon.
See Forward Magazine’s new on-line format – Beautiful – congrats to Sami and Haykal
The following is a press release from Standard & Poor’s:
— We are raising the long- and short-term sovereign credit ratings on the Republic of Lebanon to ‘B/B’, from ‘B-/C’.
— The upgrade and positive outlook reflect our view that Lebanon’s public finances, and in particular the banking system, have proven resilient in the face of the political turmoil over the past three years, and that recent developments in Lebanon may provide a greater measure of political stability in the medium term.
Syria Politics Overview 2009: The Road to Damascus
By Fay Ferguson, December 2009, Syria Today
…… More show than go
Despite the initial flurry of activity, however, the second half of 2009 saw the string of US delegates dwindle. Moreover, the country is still waiting on the arrival of a US ambassador and no progress seems to have been made on lifting economic sanctions. In an interview with the French daily Le Figaro published last month, Assad chided Obama for not matching words with actions.
“What has happened so far is a new approach; dialogue has replaced commands which is good,” he said. “But things stopped there.”
Political analysts put the lack of concrete progress down to an unwillingness of both sides to be the first to make meaningful concessions before some of their policy demands are met.
“Syria doesn’t expect change to be fast, but it did expect to receive an ambassador by now,” Ayman Abdelnour, a media consultant to the EU for the Middle East-North Africa region, said. “In terms of substance, US policy hasn’t changed.”
While Syrian officials have reiterated that the country’s alliances with Iran, Hezbollah and Hamas are unbreakable, analysts claim ties could well be softened if Syria had something tangible to gain. Until the US lifts economic sanctions and exerts pressure on Israel to agree to the full return of the Golan Heights, they note that Damascus has little incentive to accommodate US interests in the region.
“Syria has discovered that the president of the United States does not control all aspects of the country’s foreign policy,” Joshua Landis, a prominent Syria expert, said. “Congress is a roadblock in the path to lifting economic sanctions on Syria. Without either the return of the Golan or the lifting of sanctions, Syria has little interest in making important concessions to the US.”
During Israel’s two-month war on Gaza launched in December 2008, Syria openly and forcefully rallied behind Hamas and condemned the attacks as clear war crimes. Assad’s popularity in the region soared as a frustrated Arab public became increasingly disillusioned with the silence of leaders in Riyadh and Cairo.
“Despite Obama’s outreach, the mood in the region is for resistance and Syria’s position is now very strong,” Abdelnour said. “Each month resistance groups are holding their meetings in Damascus. US policy isn’t popular in the region, so why would Syria change tactics and join Washington? Syria is now in a position to enforce its views, one that has been strengthening since Israel’s war against Hezbollah in 2006.”
Prospects for peace
In terms of the Syrian-Israeli peace process, 2009 again resulted in deadlock. Local observers have all but given up hope that the Israeli government headed by Benjamin Netanyahu is seriously interested in peace, or that the Obama administration is willing to apply the kind of pressure needed to bring it about.
“Syria is serious about a just and comprehensive peace – Israel is definitely not,” Jihad Makdissi, spokesman for the Syrian embassy in London, said. “Arab countries made a historical collective offer to Israel in the form of the Arab Peace Initiative in 2002 and Israel reciprocated by killing 1,300 Palestinians in Gaza. Peace does not seem to be imminent.”
The approach to negotiations remains in a familiar deadlock. Syria insists on certain ground rules which will form the basis for negotiations: that they must be based on UN Security Council Resolutions 242 and 338 and take up where they stopped at the Madrid Peace Conference, adopting the ‘land for peace’ formula. For Syria, these are not preconditions, but internationally recognised commitments undertaken by both sides. Netanyahu and the US reject this approach and demand that negotiations start from square one, without any commitment that Israel withdraw from occupied Syrian territory.
“The positions of the two sides are diametrically opposed which probably precludes the possibility of a peace agreement between Syria and Israel while Netanyahu is in power,” Elias Samo, a professor of international relations at the University of Aleppo, said.
While simultaneously engaging in dialogue with the US and upholding the right to resistance, Syria also entered a period of rapprochement with Saudi Arabia. The reconciliation comes after years of strained relations between the two countries over Syria’s alliance with Iran and support for Lebanon’s Hezbollah faction, two of Saudi Arabia’s biggest ideological threats in the region. Laying these tensions to rest necessitated a flurry of diplomatic activity and led to the appointment of ambassadors in both countries. In March, Assad met with King Abdullah in Riyadh and in October the Saudi King visited Damascus for the first time as head of state.
Saudi Arabia’s switch from a policy of isolation to one of engagement with Syria is a sign, say analysts, that Riyadh recogises Damascus can influence numerous regional arenas.
“Syria has many cards to play; Iran, Hezbollah, Hamas and other resistance groups,” Samo said. “US-backed countries in the region have discovered that Syria cannot be overlooked, marginalised or discounted. It is an important player in all Middle Eastern issues.”
The potential for Syria to exert its influence was underlined, says Abdelnour, when Damascus officially supported Saudi Arabia’s right to defend itself against security threats posed by the Shi’ite rebellion in northern Yemen, an uprising many have claimed is backed by Tehran.
“At the moment Saudi Arabia needs Syria’s support in dealing with the crisis in Yemen,” Abdelnour said. “The Shi’ite uprising is a security threat on Saudi Arabia’s border, so Riyadh hopes Syria will use its influence on Iran to calm the situation down.”
Highlighting a new climate of understanding between the two countries, Makdissi emphasised Damascus’s commitment to preserving Saudi Arabia’s security.
“We always shared the same political objectives, but we sometimes differed on how to achieve them because we read events differently,” he said. “Syria has played an important role in preserving the security of the Gulf countries at the time of crisis and it will continue to do the same. Saudi-Syrian relations remain the cornerstone of Arab solidarity.”
Syria’s rapprochement with Saudi Arabia has given rise to much speculation that a warmer political climate will take hold in the region. Yet significant differences of opinion remain in Iraq, Lebanon and Palestine. Syria’s ongoing spat with Baghdad regarding Iraqi Ba’athist groups based in the country, which resulted in both capitals recalling their ambassadors in August, is an example of how quickly thaws can freeze back over.
“We should not hold our breath for Arab unity to break out any time soon,” Landis said. “Arabs will remain deeply divided, especially over countries with weak governments such as Iraq, Lebanon and Yemen where much is at stake. Saudi Arabia will have to give Syria’s interests greater concern before relations will make much further progress.”
The rise and rise of Turkey
While mending bridges in the Gulf, Syria also shored up support to the north of its borders. Damascus’s alliance with Turkey went from strength to strength in 2009…..
Majalla has just published a special edition on Bashar Assad with 3 or 4 interesting articles in English (Thanks Steve)
Alex Explains why Syrian occupation of Lebanon was not the same as Israel’s occupation of Palestinian lands. In response to Shai who had written: “There are plenty on my side, who are exact copies. They too would say: “…and stop giving us moral-lessons about Occupation after its own “little history” in some neighboring country…” Alex writes:
Shai, I will use the example you wrote here to let Ausamaa and Norman (and practically every Syrian I can think of) know that I agree with your call for Syrians to have meaningful discussions with Israelis.
Because, we need to do a good job in presenting Syria’s point of view. Only Syrians will be motivated enough to do it right. We can’t hire a PR firm to represent us, we can’t expect the Israeli peace activists to be able to respond on our behalf (it will discredit them in Israel if they over did it)
Back to the “little history” of Syrian “occupation” of Lebanon … Here is how it is very different from Israel’s occupation
1) Syria was invited by the President of Lebanon, got Arab and international backing before entering the long term challenge of stopping Lebanon’s bloody civil war. The Syrian army was part of the Arab league’s Lebanon rescue army.
Israel … invaded its neighbors.
2) Syria did not annex Lebanon even though it was doable.
Israel annexed the Golan and planted crazy Israeli settlers all over the occupied territories.
3) Syria did not “occupy” any other neighbor … Israel at different points occupied territories from every single neighbor (Egypt, Lebanon, Jordan, Syria and .. Palestine).
For Israel, occupation of others’ lands is a pattern of behavior. (although these days it is not as easy as before)
4) Syria was never ever mentioned specifically in any UNSC resolution for its occupation of another country .. even 1559 does not name Syria by name.
Israel is the target of tens of UN resolutions (SC and GA) … no other country on earth comes a close second to Israel in this regard.
5) Syria respected 1559 and withdrew immediately from Lebanon. Israel does not give a damn about international law (excpet when it can use it against Hizbollah or Iran)
guardian, Sunday 20 December 2009
Change in Syria is unlikely to come quickly. But in the meantime, we shouldn’t keep it out in the cold
Critics of Syria have in the past compared the tale of the Assad dynasty to that of the Corleone family in The Godfather. In a National Geographic article this month that infuriated the Syrians to the extent that their Washington ambassador issued a point-by-point rebuttal, Bashar is cast as Michael Corleone. Like Al Pachino’s character, Bashar was called back from abroad to take over the family business following the sudden death of his brother Basil in a car crash (aka Santino Corleone, killed in a car ambush).
Michael Corleone promised to change things and make the family legit, much like Bashar who was “neither stained with blood nor corrupted by radicalism or incompetence” and promised change to Syria as the “Damascus Spring” arrived with his inheriting the presidency in 2000.
Like Corleone, however, Bashar has failed so far to fundamentally change the authoritarian character of the Syrian state. The Damascus Spring was followed by a Damascus Winter, as the bitter winds of regime change swept the region during the Bush years. Yet Syria survived and ever since the Baker-Hamilton report recommended engaging with Syria, the west has been desperately trying to make Damascus an offer it cannot refuse – abandon Hezbollah, Hamas and Iran and come in from the cold.
However, much like attempting to restart a marriage after years of acrimonious divorce, engagement is proving stilted. One of the conclusions in the series of briefing papers produced by the International Crisis Group (ICG) this month suggested that if Syria can endure the isolation brought upon it by the Bush-years, the regime will ask why it should change at all.
Ian Black asked in October whether Syria sees itself as “in the cold” and in need of “the west” considering that its relations with Iran, Turkey and powerful proxy groups are so strong, and that relations with Saudi Arabia have just been patched up.
Recent events were a display of this emboldened Syria. Back in 2005 the country that former CIA-man Flynt Leverett described as “a comparatively small, internally conflicted, economically underperforming, and resource-poor Arab state” was forced to make a humiliated withdrawal of its military from Lebanon.
Four years and a multitude of assassinated prominent Lebanese figures later, over the weekend a line of Lebanese politicians from all the various sect “families” made their way to Damascus to pay their respects to President Bashar al-Assad over the death of his brother Majd Assad. Traditional allies such as Hezbollah and house speaker Nabbil Berri will be followed by the Druze leader Walid Jumblatt and Sunni prime minister Saad Hariri. Figures who may have thought of themselves as once on Syria’s hit list are now paying their dues to the Damascene court.
Some argue that this more secure regime may be more likely to enact significant change. This theory suggests that with a solid base the Ba’ath party could give more priority to political and ideological ideas than to pure power politics. However Alan George has written dismissing such an idea, describing the Ba’athist system of governance as “so demoralised and corrupt that power is wielded for no purpose but power itself”.
So what hope is there for change in Syria? Lebanese president Michel Suleiman had to delay his visit to Damascus due to meetings with President Obama in advance of Lebanon taking up its place as a temporary member of the UN Security Council. Obama, frustrated with his outreach to Iran and unable to effectively pursue an Israeli-Palestinian peace process, may be tempted to see what Suleiman thinks of the prospect of improved US-Syrian relations.
According to the ICG report Obama “turned an old page without settling on a new one”. There is still no US ambassador in Damascus, an insult that will mean Syria will be unlikely to make any real concessions. In addition the Americans have stayed quiet whilst in Iraq Maliki has launched into a series of tirades against Damascus, accusing the Syrian government of being linked to recent large scale bombings, this despite the American military recognising improved security along the Iraqi-Syrian border.
As the ICG reports remind us the instability rife across the Middle East makes any abrupt change in Syria unlikely. Obama should send an ambassador to fully engage US diplomatic channels in order to better assess whether there is any hope of Syria opening up, rather than press for significant change at this time. A “slowly slowly” approach is by no means a visionary one but it may be the best option on the table at this time.
Haaretz exclusive: Olmert’s plan for peace with the Palestinians
By Aluf Benn, Haaretz
Former prime minister Ehud Olmert proposed giving the Palestinians land from communities bordering the Gaza Strip and from the Judean Desert nature reserve in exchange for settlement blocs in the West Bank…..
Olmert also proposed giving land to a future Palestinian state in the Beit She’an Valley near Kibbutz Tirat Tzvi; in the Judean Hills near Nataf and Mevo Betar; and in the area of Lachish and of the Yatir Forest. Together, the areas would have involved the transfer of 327 square kilometers of territory from within the Green Line.
Olmert presented his map to Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas in September of last year. Abbas did not respond, and negotiations ended. In an interview with Haaretz on Tuesday, Abbas said Olmert had presented several drafts of his map…..
Olmert wanted to annex 6.3 percent of the West Bank to Israel, areas that are home to 75 percent of the Jewish population of the territories. ….Olmert proposed the transfer of territory to the Palestinians equivalent to 5.8 percent of the area of the West Bank as well as a safe-passage route from Hebron to the Gaza Strip via a highway that would remain part of the sovereign territory of Israel but where there would be no Israeli presence…..
LONDON, December 22 /PRNewswire/ — It has been a productive and exciting year for Syria. The country has in the past faced difficulties due to its weak
administrative structure, together with US sanctions, which have had an affect on investment and development opportunities. This is changing. The challenges the country faces include shifting from an oil-exporting economy towards a net oil importer; managing the transition from a socialist planned economy towards a liberalised social market economy; and enhancing human development through targeted interventions which ensure a more equitable distribution of wealth and equal economic opportunities for wealth creation across all segments of Syrian society. Several companies are meeting these challenges head on and it is World Finance’s pleasure to recognise those forwarding the agenda. This year World Finance held the Syria Economic Reform Awards. Congratulations to those who made the grade.
Best Telecoms Company
Syriatel Mobile Telecom
Best Financial Brokerage Firm
Bemo Saudi Fransi Finance
Best Tourism Development Company
The Wahoud Group
Best Construction & Property Development Company
Fouad Takla Co.
Best Gas Industry Contracting Company
Lead Contracting & Trading
Best SME Business Promotion Group
Syrian Enterprise & Business Centre
Best Pharmaceuticals Company
National Company for Pharmaceutical Industry (NCPI)
Best Conventional Private Bank
Bank Syria & Overseas
Best Money Exchange Company
Al Fuad Exchange
Best Oilfield Services Company
The Nasco Group
Best Economic Development Company
Best Engineering & Utilities Equipment Supplier
Hamscho International Group
Best Plastic Industrial Products Manufacturer
Best Shipping Company
Major Foreign Investor
Shell Syria Petroleum Development BV
Best Private Airline
Cham Wings Airline
Best Food Processing Company
National Sugar Company
Best Freight Services Provider
Shamout Group of Companies
Best Importer of Construction & Building Materials
Best Container Terminal Manager
Tartous International Container Terminal
Best Luxury Hotel Property
The Four Seasons, Damascus
Best Conventional Private Insurance Company
Syrian-Kuwaiti Insurance Company
Award for Pioneering Key Economic Projects in Support of Syria
MAS Economic Group
Visionary leadership and contribution to the Syrian economy
Mr Haytham Joud, Souria Holding
Lifetime Achievement Award for Promoting Syrian Commerce
Andrew White, Sa’d Business School, Oxford University speaks to Forward about plans to prepare Syria’s promising business leaders through an untraditional academic program. Forward: Why are you here in Damascus?
White: As a representative of the Sa’d Business School at the University of Oxford we are here to set up an executive development program targeted to whom we refer to as `high potential leaders’ here in Syria. We are looking at people between the ages of 25 – 35 who are already demonstrating the characteristics and delivery profile of leaders that come from the public, private and NGO sectors. The program is about helping them prepare for a leadership role in Syria and to understand the country’s future economic development. The program is open to Syrians only and we will be taking on 40 participants in the first program.
Forward: Why is Oxford University interested in Syria?
White: Our school has a very strong level of association with Syria; our program is named after Syrian businessman, Wafic Sa’d. Also if you look at us as a university, we have interests in multiple regions around the world and in the case of Syria, there is much potential.
Forward: Where does Syria’s business potential lie?
White: Syria is coming out of a long period of closed economic practices and is moving towards an open market economy so there are clearly major growth areas in banking and finance, industries which are really opening up to external capital and competition and which will play a major role in bringing in some market discipline and holding companies accountable to shareholders.
Syria is enjoying something of a renaissance.
Patrick Martin, Globe and Mail
The country’s art scene is flourishing, Damascus café life is blooming, shopping malls have cropped up and the moribund economy has awakened from a deep, state-imposed sleep.
“Syria is open for business,” says Mohammad Daaboul, chairman and CEO of the Daaboul Industrial Group and president of the Association of Syrian-Canadian Businessmen…..