Hamidi on New Visa Requirements for Iraqis

Ibrahim Hamidi has published two articles in al-Hayat explaining the ramifications of the new visa requirements for Iraqis seeking to enter Syria and for those already resident in Syria. I copy them below. Also be sure to read the Moubayed article on where Lebanese presidential elections stand – Winners, losers, and the Berri initiative

الإجراءات السورية الجديدة لدخول العراقيين: تأشيرة واحدة لثلاثة أشهر لرجال الأعمال والعلم

دمشق – ابراهيم حميدي      الحياة     – 03/09/07

قالت مصادر مطلعة لـ «الحياة» أمس ان وزارة الخارجية السورية طلبت من بعثاتها في الخارج بدء تطبيق الاجراءات الجديدة لدخول العراقيين، اعتباراً من 10 الشهر الجاري، وتتضمن «وجوب حصول كل عراقي على تأشيرة دخول مدتها ثلاثة اشهر ولمرة واحدة فقط شرط ان يكون من أصحاب الفعاليات الاقتصادية والتجارية والشخصيات العلمية فقط».

في غضون ذلك، أكدت مصادر متطابقة ان نائب الرئيس العراقي عادل عبد المهدي قطع جولته العربية وعاد من الامارات وان بغداد أبلغت دمشق بتأجيل زيارته لسورية التي كانت مقررة اليوم لـ «أسباب داخلية ذلك ان الأوضاع السياسية في العراق تتطلب العودة السريعة»، علماً انها المرة الثانية التي يرجئ فيها جولته العربية.

وأوضحت المصادر ان وزير الخارجية السوري وليد المعلم أبلغ نظيره العراقي هوشيار زيباري هاتفيا بالاجراءات الجديدة بحق العراقيين «بعدما تجاوز عددهم أكثر من 1.5 مليون شخص واستمرار تدفق نحو 30 ألف شخص شهريا الى الاراضي السورية وازدياد الاعباء الاقتصادية والاجتماعية والأمنية وارتفاع مستوى الجريمة في البلاد، مقابل عدم قيام المجتمع الدولي بالتزاماته وامتناع الحكومة العراقية عن مساعدة اللاجئين». وبحسب المعلومات المتوفرة لـ «الحياة» فإن التعليمات الجديدة الغت كل الاجراءات السابقة التي كانت تسمح بتجديد الحصول على الإقامة تلقائياً، بعد خروج العراقي الى النقاط الحدودية كل ثلاثة اشهر، وحصر القرار الجديد الذي اتخذ في نهاية الشهر الماضي منح تأشيرة الدخول بـ «أصحاب الفعاليات الاقتصادية والتجارية، أي اعضاء غرف التجارة والصناعة والزراعة بموجب شهادة من احدى تلك الغرف مصدقة اصولا». كما سمح بمنح التأشيرة لـ «الشخصيات العلمية من اعضاء الهيئات التدريسية في الجامعات العراقية والمعاهد العليا اضافة الى مراكز البحث العلمي بموجب كتاب تعريف يصدر من الجامعة او المركز».

وفيما انحصرت صلاحية منح التأشيرة بالبعثات الديبلوماسية السورية وليس النقاط الحدودية كما كان الحال سابقا، اشترطت التعليمات الجديدة ايضاً ان يكون «طالب التأشيرة يحمل اقامة في البلد المعتمدة فيه البعثة او مذكرة تعريف من البعثة العراقية» على ان لايتحاوز «سريان مدة التأشيرة ثلاثة اشهر ولمرة واحدة» ودفع خمسين دولارا اميركيا او ما يعادله باليورو.

وأوضحت مصادر ديبلوماسية ان قرار الحكومة السورية «لم يكن صدفة»، بل جاء بعد ايام على زيارة رئيس الوزراء العراقي نوري المالكي الذي «لم يتجاوب مع مطلب تحمل عبء وجود العراقيين في سورية». فهو «لا يريد تقديم المساعدة كي لا يشجع العراقيين على الخروج بمساعدة الذين يهربون وليس الذين يبقون ويتحملون الوضع»، اضافة الى «رغبة ضمنية بتحميل دول الجوار المسؤولية الأمنية في بلاده». لكن مصادر سورية استغربت هذا المنطق، وقالت: «ألا تشكل حالة الاحتلال وسلة كاملة من القرارات والممارسات الخاطئة منذ بدء الاحتلال، أسباباً للوضع الأمني الكارثي في العراق ما يدفع الناس الى الخارج؟».

وكانت دمشق شددت اجراءات دخول العراقيين بعد زيارة الرئيس العراقي جلال طالباني في بداية العام الجاري، ثم تساهلت بإعطاء أي شخص تأشيرة لمدة شهر على ان يخرج الى الحدود لتجديدها لثلاثة أشهر، بعد ظهور اهتمام دولي بأزمة اللاجئين في دول الجوار، تمثل بانعقاد مؤتمر الدول المانحة في جنيف منتصف نيسان (ابريل) الماضي وانعقاد لجنة العمل الخاصة باللاجئين المنبثقة من مؤتمر «أمن العراق» في شرم الشيخ. وأوضحت المصادر المطلعة: «ان المجتمع الدولي لم يساعد بما يكفي، مقابل ارتفاع الأعباء الاقتصادية والاجتماعية والامنية على دمشق»، علماً ان كلفة وجود العراقيين تتجاوز 1.5 بليون دولار سنويا.

الى ذلك، التقت اريكا فيلر مساعدة المفوض السامي لشؤون اللاجئين امس مسؤولين سوريين لبحث مسألة الاجراءات الجديدة مع الحكومة السورية، وتبلغت «ضرورة ان يتعامل المجتمع الدولي مع مأساة المهجرين بأكثر جدية». واوضحت مصادر في المفوضية لـ «الحياة» امس انها تتوقع ارتفاع عدد العراقيين المسجلين لديها من 117 الى 200 ألف في نهاية العام الجاري وارتفاع عدد التلاميذ المسجلين في المدارس السورية من 33 الى 100 ألف لدى بدء العام الدراسي الحالي

مرونة سورية مع العراقيين: عدم طرد أي لاجىء بعد فرض التأشيرة

دمشق – ابراهيم حميدي      الحياة     – 05/09/07//

قالت مساعدة المفوض السامي لشؤون اللاجئين اريكا فيلر في لقاء مع ديبلوماسيين انها تبلغت من دمشق ان «أيا من العراقيين لن يطرد» من سورية بعد صدور التعليمات الجديدة القاضية بوجوب الحصول على تأشيرة دخول من البعثات الديبلوماسية السورية في الخارج وليس من النقاط الحدودية، على ان تكون مدتــــها ثــــلاثة اشهر ولمرة واحدة وان تقتصر على «اصحاب الفعاليات الاقتصادية والتجارية والعلمية».

وفيما قيل ان «اتفاقا» حصل بين رئيس الوزراء نوري المالكي والجانب السوري خلال زيارته الاسبوع الماضي في شأن فرض التأشيرة، اوضحت مصادر اخرى ان جهات سورية «لم تكن مرتاحة لمقاربة المالكي مسألة اللاجئين وعدم ابداء الاستعداد لمساعدة رعايا بلده، وحديثه ان معاناة الموجودين في الداخل اشد من الموجودين في الخارج وان دعمهم يؤدي الى تشجيع الناس على الخروج من العراق».

وطرحت فيلر خلال وجودها في سورية، اسئلة عدة في شأن انعكاسات تطبيق القرار الجديد على وجود نحو 1.5 مليون عراقي، بينهم 117 الفاً مسجلين في قيود المفوضية (سيرتفع عددهم الى 200 الف في نهاية العام) ونحو 33 الف تلميذ مسجلين في المدارس السورية (يتوقع ان يصل العدد الى مئة الف). لكنها قالت: «ليس لدينا ضمانات واضحة في شأن مصيرهم، لكنني فهمت ان احدا لن يطرد من سورية».

وعلم ان السلطات السورية ستبدي «مرونة» في شأن العراقيين الموجودين في البلاد خصوصا الذين لا يخالفون القوانين السورية، مقابل بدء تطبيق التأشيرة على القادمين الجدد.

I received the following note from an Iraqi friend living in Syria.

Your very good article(as usual) about the new visa requirements for Iraqi entering Syria did capture my attention. However, there is a small detail and I felt I would better share it with you.

While it is true that Syrian government has welcomed the Iraqis in a way that no other country did during their  never-ending plight, but still I always felt that there has been something more than just the abstract notion of pan-Arabism at play.

If you remember Steve McCarthy of Dan Rather Reports at HDNet who did a documentary about the Iraqi exodus. He told me that the head of the UNHCR in Syria  believed the underlying reason of this policy change towards the Iraqis was because of the economic status of these refugees. The earlier waves of Iraqi refugees were considerably well-off which proved valuable for the troubled Syrian economy and the Syrians didn’t see any reason to make any fuss about their present, but once the poorer ones started to roll up, then the guardians of the safe haven began to complain.

Frankly, at the time I didn’t give the whole thing much thought, but it got back to me recently when I read this report of the International Monetary Fund:

August 15, 2007
Over the past three years, Syria has recovered from a half decade of weak growth, notwithstanding an unsettled regional environment and a sharp drop in oil production. The economic recovery has gained momentum, benefiting from inflows from Iraqi refugees and abundant liquidity in the Gulf region.
https://exchange.ou.edu/owa/land1170@net.ou.edu/redir.aspx?URL=http%3a%2f%2fwww.imf.org%2fexternal%2fnp%2fsec%2fpn%2f2007%2fpn07104.htm

Winners, losers, and the Berri initiative by Sami Moubayed

If the Berri initiative sees the light, it would be a plus for both the Sunnis and Shiites. Hezbollah would get a friendly president, who would support a greater role for it and its allies within the Lebanese system. The Sunnis would get to keep the premiership in the hands of the Hariri bloc. But what about Lebanese Christians? Where do they fall in the Berri initiative? …

On Syria Hysteria (via "Friday Lunch Club")

 

"We believe that there have been fewer suicide bombers coming through Syria, and we are cautious about this assessment, but we do think that the Syrians may have been taking more active steps against al Qaeda, which is understandable…I mean, if al Qaeda were ever to succeed in Iraq, the next thing they'd do is turn … [to] Damascus. I can assure you." Gen. Petreaus, here, and GD in the Belgravia Dispatch, here

Comments (12)


1. norman said:

I am surprised of the iraqi argument about the selfishness of the Syrians , he should remember that Syria provided free Health care and free education to these Iraqi Arabs while others made them pay for these services , what de we expect from the western IMF to say about the Terror state of Syria improving it’s economy except giving the cridet to somthing other than Syria’s acheivments.

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September 6th, 2007, 3:27 am

 

2. Alex said:

exactly … it is silly to always try to find an evil motive behind anything that Syria does. Accepting 1.5 million Iraqi refuggess is reduced to “they took the rich ones and now they are closing the border for the poor”.

Syria always took refuggess .. poor or rich, Arab or not.

Most of the Iraqi leaders today were refugees in Syria during the 80’s or 90’s … Malki … Allawi … president Talbani …

How many here know that the popular Lebanese army defeated Fateh al-Islam with the help of … the Syrian army!

The Untied States (Lebanon’s ally) did not give the Lebanese army the ammunitions theyneeded. Syria was supplying them the past few weeks… supplying ammunitions and information.

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September 6th, 2007, 4:57 am

 

3. Youssef Hanna said:

Sami Moubayed, the Berri initiative
Aoun’s political track record starts (1988) with his failed negotiations with the Syrian regime. Upon the fall of the Berlin wall, his alliance with Saddam Hussein was taking the wrong side. His war against the Lebanese Forces destroyed the Christian area; he lost it. His military and rhetorical war against Syria was launched at the bad moment; he lost it too. He does not appear to have interpersonal skills, at least judging by the fact that he spent 15 years in France without building a network. Now you induce that he has been outmaneuvered by Hezbollah. Is this why you conclude that he is very talented?
Given how poorly gifted their present strong man, I would rather think that Christians should rather bet for their revival on the return to Lebanon of their young, dynamic, ambitious, educated, elite. This only requires stability, after other ingredients for their return, ie human rights, liberal economy, cultural and political freedom, were won with the Syrian regime’s withdrawal. Stability we cannot get with a compulsively confrontational president, do we? No, Mr. Moubayed, with all due respect, your view is wrong. Best regards

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September 6th, 2007, 6:32 am

 

4. offended said:

Yeah; the 1.5 Million Iraqis that have come before issuing the new regulations were all rich!

And the economy was about to collapse, was it not for their coming to rescue it!

Jush, I appreciate the analysis of your iraqi friend, but i’d like to believe that this is not the opinion of the average Iraqis about Syrian motives…

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September 6th, 2007, 6:33 am

 

5. Suhrawardi said:

It seems that we are unable to see things as they are. We need to stop pretending that Syria, or any other country for that matter, is not driven by its interests particularly economic interests when it comes to politics. Why should “we” always believe that our policies eternally have been purely and surely good and anyone who dare to suggestion otherwise is evil. Why???

The guy didn’t make up facts, but rather he cited the head of the UNHCR in Syria through a well-known journalist and the IMF. Are these people part of giant conspiracy to undermine our pan-Arabist policy? Come on guys? This is realpolitikis, not some empty slogan of good v evil that we read in our textbooks at school.

When Maliki was here the bargain as Al Hayat revealed: Syrian security cooperation was NOT going to be in exchange of “brotherly” praise but it was Syrians will cooperate in the security field in return for ECONOMIC BENEFITS:
وبحسب المعلومات المتوفرة لـ «الحياة» فان الجانب السوري يرى ان «التعاون الامني في حاجة الى مظلة سياسية وشرايين اقتصادية» ما يعني ضرورة توسيع التعاون التجاري والنفطي بالتزامن مع التعاون الامني، وان بعض المسؤولين العراقيين تحدث عن حصة كبيرة لدمشق من المخصصات العراقية في اعادة الاعمار من اصل الموازنة التي تتجاوز قيمتها 40 بليون دولار اميركي.
ولاحظت المصادر «مرونة» عراقية في بحث اعادة تشغيل انبوب النفط بين كركوك وبانياس بطاقة تصل الى 200 الف برميل يوميا ما يوفر نحو 1.2 بليون دولار اميركي سنوياً وعن احتمال اقامة تبادل تجاري اجمالي يصل في مرحلة ما الى اكثر من ثلاثة بلايين دولار، بالتزامن مع الحديث عن التعاون الامني لضبط الحدود السورية – العراقية وتبادل المعلومات وتبادل تسليم المطلوبين والتنسيق في مكافحة الارهاب.
http://www.daralhayat.com/arab_news/levant_news/08-2007/Item-20070821-89a01f00-c0a8-10ed-0150-7f7a0ddaee52/story.html

So instead of going on and expressing dismay at what the dude said, think about it for a moment. In doing so, check out Aljazeera documentary War of Lebanon and see whether the constant shift of our alliances was born out from pan-Arabist consideration or driven by our interests…

I bet that these guys of Aljazeera and al Hayat are also part of the conspiracy against us.

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September 6th, 2007, 7:16 am

 

6. Zubaida said:

The IMF bases its assessments on figures provided by the Syrian government. In the latest report, the IMF includes a line in its balance of payments figures (based on official Syrian figures) showing inflows related to Iraqi immigrants. These were $457m in 2004, an estimated $803m in 2005, a estimated $1,309m in 2006 and a projected $1,225m in 2007. These flows have played an important part in compensating for the decline in Syria’s oil payments surplus, and the Iraqi influx has also played a part in stimulating demand, thereby contributing to overall real GDP growth. As the IMF also points out, the Iraqi refugees have placed heavy strains on Syrian public services.

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September 6th, 2007, 8:25 am

 

7. 3antar said:

I find it hard to believe that 1.5 million were all rich and loaded. I do believe however that a fair proportion of them are relatively well off. The property value rose sharply in the past few years and letting has become more of a business than before. Everyone I know seems to be mind boggled over the house price inflation. I’m sure not all of it is due to the Iraqi’s as investment has been coming from the Gulf region too. I think the above story is rather exaggerating the motives behind letting Iraqis in.

“How many here know that the popular Lebanese army defeated Fateh al-Islam with the help of … the Syrian army!” – Alex, where did you get this information from? do you have a link?

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September 6th, 2007, 8:52 am

 

8. Reda said:

I’m well impressed with the calm voice of the in-house economic expert Zubaida.

Keep up the good work Zubaida

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September 6th, 2007, 9:40 am

 

9. t_desco said:

Syria ‘fires on Israel warplanes’

Syria says its air defences have opened fire on Israeli war planes which had entered Syrian airspace.

The action took place “without causing human or material loss”, according to the official Syrian news agency, SANA.

The agency says Israeli jets entered Syrian airspace from the Mediterranean Sea heading northeast at dawn on Thursday, but were forced to leave.
(BBC News)

Haaretz:

15:08 IDF looking into reports that IAF struck targets in Syria overnight (Haaretz)

15:04 Al-Arabiyah TV: Reported IAF strikes in Syria were in northeast of country (Haaretz)

15:00 Syria: IAF `dropped ammunition over deserted areas in northern Syria` (AP)

14:52 Syria: No damage or injuries in reported IAF strike in Syria (Reuters)

14:49 IDF has no immediate comment on Syria claim it bombed targets in Syria (Reuters)

14:48 Damascus: IAF planes bombed unidentified targets in Syria (Reuters)

14:37 Syrian army says it fires on IAF warplanes that violated its airspace (AP)

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September 6th, 2007, 12:02 pm

 

10. norman said:

US Democratic presidential hopeful praises Syria for taking Iraqi refugees
U.S. Democratic presidential hopeful Dennis Kucinich, on a Mideast visit that included a stop in Syria, said the country lambasted by the Bush administration deserves credit for taking in more than a million Iraqi refugees. Kucinich, a strong anti-war opponent who trails far in the U.S. presidential polls, also said he won’t visit Iraq on his trip to the region because he considers the U.S. military deployment there illegal. “I feel the United States is engaging in an illegal occupation … I don’t want to bless that occupation with my presence,” he said in an interview in Lebanon, after visiting Syria. “I will not do it.” Speaking just days before U.S. Gen. David Petraeus is scheduled to deliver an assessment of Iraq’s security situation, the Ohio congressman said his fellow Democrats in Congress must live up to their promises to voters in 2006 to “end the war, and end it now.” Kucinich, who accused the Bush administration of policies that have destabilized the Mideast, met with Syrian President Bashar Assad during his visit to Damascus. He said Assad was receptive to his ideas of “strength through peace.” He also praised Syria for taking in Iraqi refugees.

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September 6th, 2007, 12:48 pm

 

11. Kamal said:

“The Syrian Arab Republic warns the government of the Israeli enemy and reserves the right to respond according to what it sees fit.”

I hope the Syrian Arab Republic sees fit to respond from Syrian territory and with Syrian forces, for a change.

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September 6th, 2007, 1:20 pm

 

12. Kamal said:

I’m not sure what Moubayed is actually arguing here. Is he for or against the Berri initiative? Does he support Aoun or someone else for President?

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September 6th, 2007, 1:29 pm

 

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