Posted by Joshua on Thursday, September 16th, 2010
Deb Amos on NPR: A really good story about how the New Media is Straining Government Tolerance In Syria
Photo: Honey al-Sayed, the queen of morning drive time radio in Damascus, has pushed the boundaries of free speech in Syria. The autocratic regime in Syria has been forced to accommodate new media, including Facebook and Twitter.
Elie Elhadj writes about the latest diatribe against Syria by the Gemayyel family
As long as the Lebanese are unequal at the ballot box, injustice and societal tension will persist.
That the Lebanese Shi’ites, around 40%+ of the population, share 21% of the parliamentary seats, while Christians, roughly 35% of the population, enjoy 50% of the parliamentary seats make Shi’ite men and women as if they were lesser voting beings than Christian men and women. That the Maronites get 26.6% of the seats, while they constitute around 15% of the population is wrong.
A One-person one-vote voting system will evolve in Lebanon sooner or later. When that happens, extremists Gemayel, Geagea, and co. (may be described as Maronite Taliban) will be put in their place.
Western-backed Lebanese faction slams Hezbollah
By BASSEM MROUE (AP)
BEIRUT — A Western-backed alliance in Lebanon’s government accused the militant group Hezbollah and its allies Wednesday of trying to take the country back to the days when Syria dominated this tiny Arab nation.
The alliance is struggling to maintain its political clout as Hezbollah and its patrons in Damascus gain strength in Lebanon. The March 14 coalition is named for a day of massive demonstrations in 2005 when millions turned out and forced Syria to leave Lebanon after nearly 30 years.
“Lebanon is being subjected at the present time to a wild coup attempt that aims to take us back to the time before the March 14, 2005 independence uprising,” Fares Soeid, a senior official with the alliance told reporters Wednesday.
Robert Fisk: Freedom, democracy and human rights in Syria
Ribal al-Assad gives our writer a rare insight into the dynasty that has shaped modern Syria
Thursday, 16 September 2010
Ribal al-Assad doesn’t look like the son of a war criminal; fluent English, fluent French, fluent Arabic (of course), fluffy black hair and brown eyes, a youngish 35, Boston graduate, self-assured, a member of the Damascus elite, sitting in a Marble Arch hotel, turning down my offer of coffee, talking about freedom and democracy and human rights in Syria, denying – gently but forcefully – that his father, Rifaat, is a war criminal.
The Maliki government in Iraq is looking to improve relations with Syria. This is an important development, as Iraq is the last country Syrian neighbor that has failed to reconcile with Damascus since the Bush administration left the White House. Of course Syria’s relations with Israel remain terrible.
Syria welcomes agreement to transfer crude Iraqi oil via its territories… (thanks to mideastwire.com)
On September 14, Al-Watan daily carried the following report by Janbulat Shakai:
In a step pointing toward a new action to overcome the past stage of relations between the State of Law Coalition and Syria, President Bashar al-Assad is receiving today a high level delegation from the Coalition headed by Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, whose term has ended. In the meantime, Syria welcomed – via an official source – the signing of an agreement between Baghdad and Damascus to allow the transfer of Iraqi crude oil and gas to the coasts of the Mediterranean Sea via the Syrian territories. Iraqi sources stated to Al-Watan: “A delegation from the State of Law Coalition headed by Minister of State for National Security Affairs Shirwan al-Wa’ili, and official in the Dawa Party Abdul Halim al-Zuheiri, arrived in Damascus yesterday at noon.”
“The sources added: “The delegation met with Assistant Vice President Brigadier General Muhammad Nassif over a business dinner,” indicating that the delegation’s program featured a meeting with President Al-Assad this morning. The sources then mentioned: “The delegation will try to normalize relations between the Dawa Party and Damascus after a year of severance, which followed the accusation made by Al-Maliki to Syria of being behind the bloody explosions which rocked Baghdad in August 2009, assuring that the delegation will be carrying “an apology” from Al-Maliki to the Syrian command. The sources pointed out that the Iraqi government previously tried to mend its relations with Damascus, as its official spokesman Ali al-Dabbagh visited Damascus mid-August, in addition to the phone call made by [Syrian] Prime Minister Muhammad Naji al-Otari to his [Iraqi] counterpart Al-Maliki on Eid el-Fitr last Thursday.
“They added at the same time that “the approval of the extension of a gas pipe from Iran to Syria via Iraq by Iraqi Oil Minister Hussein al-Shahrastani, also contributed to the alleviation of the climate between the two countries… – Al-Watan Syria, Syria
Do Israelis Want Peace?
Israeli Ambassador Michael Oren takes to the L.A. Times op-ed page today to respond to last week’s TIME cover story, which claimed that “Israelis are no longer preoccupied with” the peace process. From the TIME article….
Tal al Muloohi, a 19 year old female blogger, was arrested last year for writing a poem on her blog. Muloohi was in high school and her whereabouts are unknown. Her parents have contacted many state officials but without any progress.
This study, a PFD document, documents the urban development of Damascus in the 1960s and 1970s. The study by the ETH Studio Basel- an institute of urban research- describes the social, political, and demographic forces that shaped the development of Damascus in the second half of the 20th century. In particular the study focuses on three districts Mezzeh, Dummar, and Barzeh. The Authors also document the unplanned development around these districts and the large scale illegal modifications and additions to the exterior as well as to the shared public spaces within buildings in these areas. ETH Studio Basel Contemporary City Institute Elsa Wifstrand, Rujun Jia, Prof. Jacques Herzog Prof. Pierre de Meuron Manuel Herz Shadi Rahbaran, Ying Zhou, The Middle East Studio Wintersemester 2009
Envoy Mitchell flies to Syria for talks with Assad
Phil Sands, Foreign correspondent
September 16. 2010 12:18AM UAE
DAMASCUS // The US special envoy George Mitchell arrives in Damascus today for talks with the Syrian president Bashar Assad.
The visit is being viewed as a sign that Washington is seeking to engage Syria more deeply in the Middle East peace process. While Israel and the Palestinian Authority have renewed direct talks, Syria and Israel remain technically at war and are not involved in negotiations, even indirectly.
Mr Mitchell was in Egypt this week when the Israeli prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, and Mahmoud Abbas, the president of the Palestinian Authority, held their second round of face-to-face discussions since talks reopened in Washington a fortnight ago.
After meeting Mr Assad today Mr Mitchell is expected to travel to Lebanon for discussions there. His visit to Syria comes three days after Claude Cousseran, a French presidential envoy, came to Damascus in an effort to restart Syrian-Israel negotiations.