US-Syrian Diplomatic War; US Tech Firms to Syria; Trade Union w. Turkey

Tit-for-tat Diplomatic War between Syria and US:
Syrian Visas for Americans are no longer being issued at the border with Lebanon, Jordan, or Turkey. They must be procured in Washington. For the last few years Syria did issue visas at the border, but made Americans wait between an hour to seven hours before issuing them. Now they are not being issued at all. This appears to be part of the tit-for-tat diplomatic war being waged between the two countries. Washington recently refused to confirm Ambassador Ford as the new US envoy to Damascus.  Fulbright graduate students have also been running into increased troubles. A fairly large number of graduate Fulbrighters have been denied entry back into Syria once they leave the country at the end of their grants. Faculty Fulbright Grants seem no longer to be advertised at all.  One recent recipient was denied permission by the Syrian government and is seeking permission to go elsewhere even though her topic on Syria is fairly advanced.

Addendum: A WORD OF ADVICE TO FUTURE FULBRIGHT SCHOLARS IN SYRIA:

Dear Professor Landis,
I commend you on having addressed a troubling trend which has become apparent in the Fulbright program in Syria. Over the past two years, most of the American Fulbright fellows who were in Syria were either deported or prevented from returning to Syria upon the completion of their grants. This occurred in the cases of all Fulbright grantees who studied in Syria in 2007-08, no exceptions. Most were informed that they were banned from reentering Syria upon leaving the country; others were either deported or prevented from reentering the country after their departures. The only two Fulbright fellows who studied in Syria in 2008-09 who attempted to return to Syria after the completion of their grants were denied entry. We can only assume that the same pattern will be repeated with future groups of Fulbright fellows. I advise all future Fulbright fellows to Syria to think twice before accepting the grant, because they might end up in a situation in which they can never return to Syria, one the main cultural and historical centres of the Middle East. Unfortunately, the Fulbright program and IIE have not done enough to solve problems surrounding the Fulbright program. We can only hope that this situation will improve pending ambassador Ford’s confirmation. Sadly, scholars pay the price for the sins of politicians, and being a scholar in the Middle East has never been more difficult. I hope, at the very least, that this note will help open people’s eyes to the reality of a situation which has inflicted untold damage on the academic and professional lives of scholars from diverse backgrounds who are committed to studying Syrian history and culture with an open mind and in the spirit of mutual exchange and cooperation.

Sincerely, Anonymous

BBC MidEast: Syrian, US sources deny reports Syrian envoy withdrawn from Washington [JL – Word has it that Ambassador Moustapha is now enjoying himself on the French Riviera]
2010-06-14 Excerpt from report by London-based independent newspaper Al- Quds al-Arabi website on 14 June

[Report by Kamil Saqr in Damascus: “Following Senate’s Refusal To Appoint Robert Ford Ambassador in Damascus, US and Syrian Sources; Ambassador Mustafa’s Long Vacation Does Not Mean a Call Back From his Duties”] The sparse information from US and Syrian sources in the Syrian capital Damascus about the issue of the long stay which the Syrian ambassador to the United States is spending inside Syria has resulted in an almost identical denial that this long stay implies a decision by the Syrian leadership to withdraw its Ambassador in Washington Imad Mustafa following the US Senate’s rejection of Robert Ford who was nominated by President Obama’s administration to be its ambassador in Damascus.

In the details that “Al-Quds al-Arabi” has obtained, a high- level Syrian source with connections to the Syrian Foreign Ministry expressed its surprise at the reports that Syria had withdrawn Imad Mustafa, its ambassador in Washington, in response to Washington’s delay in sending its ambassador to Damascus. It pointed out that Amb. Mustafa “is having a working vacation” in Syria and took part in several official occasions and meetings in Damascus. When the same source was asked if matters had recently reached what could be a dead end in the prospects of the political dialogue and thus prompted Syria to withdraw its ambassador, the source said contacts were continuing between the Syrian and American capitals and there was no blocked prospect between the two countries…..

Three Opposition rights activists Freed
Three opposition rights activists Freed who called for democratic change in Syria were freed on Sunday after serving out their full jail terms, a human rights group said
Sunday, June 13, 2010
By: AP writers

DAMASCUS, June 13, 2010 (AFP) – Three opposition rights activists who called for democratic change in Syria were freed on Sunday after serving out their full jail terms, a human rights group said.

Al-Bunni

“The Syrian authorities today released Akram Bunni, Jabr al-Shufi and Ahmed Tomeh after they had served their sentences” for signing the so-called Damascus Declaration, the London-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR) said.
The three were among 12 signatories of the Damascus Declaration, which calls for democratic change, who were sentenced to 30 months in jail in October 2008 in a court in the Syrian capital for “damaging the state.”

“The remaining Damascus Declaration leaders will be released in the coming days,” the SOHR said in a statement.
Those still in jail are author Ali Abdullah, Dr Walid Bunni, former MP Riad Seif and Fidaa Hurani, Yasser al-Iti, Mohammed Haji Darwish, Marwan al-Ish, Fayez Sara and Talal Abu-Dan.

Akram Bunni, freed on Sunday, is a brother of human rights lawyer Anwar Bunni, who is serving a five-year jail term. The rights group welcomed the releases, and urged the government to “free all prisoners of conscience in Syrian prisons to bring an end to this issue.” It also urged Damascus to “allow the return of all exiles who fear being jailed” if they come home, and to “pass a law allowing political parties and civil groups to operate in Syria in a way that would preserve national unity.”

Egyptian police seized Khaled Said, a 28-year-old Egyptian man, at a cyber-cafe in Alexandria and proceeded to beat him to death. The event sparked protest and condemnation, with protests at the Alexandria prosecutor’s office, widespread outrage in online forums, and calls by international human rights groups for a full investigation. On Sunday protests spread to Cairo, where police arrested dozens of demonstrators, reportedly beating many of them. The incident brings to the forefront concerns over Egypt’s record of torture and other egregious human rights violations. …

Ayman Abdalnour’s website – All4Syria – has published an article purporting to explain the The New Syrian Bourgeoisie. The author breaks down the new wealthy into sections, such as the military bourgeoisie, traditional, government, etc. It lists names and is controversial. One reader of Syria Comment writes:

Dear Joshua,  I would not link to this article. There is a lot more credible news out there than this sensational populist leftist reporting. I cannot believe you are promoting anything from all4Syria, especially this leftist, communist propaganda. Who uses the term “bourgeoisie” anymore? I was once accused by a stupid university guard who was wearing flip flops and carrying a big Kalashnikov, of being a bourgeois because I took a taxicab to university in Damascus. Joshua, these are fighting words.

U.S. Deploys Tech Firms to Win Syrian Allies Article
By JAY SOLOMON in Wall Street Journal

WASHINGTON—The State Department has dispatched a high-level diplomatic and trade mission to Syria, according to senior U.S. officials, marking the latest bid by the Obama administration to woo President Bashar al-Assad away from his strategic alliance with Iran.

The U.S. delegation comprises senior executives from some of America’s top technology companies, including Microsoft Corp., Dell Inc., Cisco Systems Inc. and Symantec Corp., according to the U.S. officials. All these companies’ businesses in Syria are constrained by U.S. sanctions.

The mission is controversial, given recent U.S. allegations that Syria transferred missiles to the Lebanese militant radical group Hezbollah. Syria, Hezbollah and Lebanon deny the allegations.

U.S. officials said the group will meet with Mr. Assad and his cabinet and seek to facilitate the flow of information technology into the Arab state, which is ranked by watchdog group Freedom House as among the most repressive in the world. The delegation will also meet with Syrian businessmen, members of the country’s civil society and travel to two leading Syrian universities in a four-day stay, ending Thursday.

Mr. Assad has previously expressed to the Obama administration his desire to develop Syria’s telecommunications infrastructure, which has been imperiled by U.S. sanctions since 2004, according to American officials involved in the trip.

“We’re going into this open-minded. This has never been done before with a country of this nature,” said a senior U.S. official. “We’re hopeful and optimistic that this will lead to collaborations. But that’s something we can’t be sure about until the trip is done.”

The delegation is being led by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s point man on global promotion of Internet freedoms, Alec Ross…..

“I think the administration is fooling itself it believes that this type of engagement will bring about a more democratic Syria,” said Ammar Abdulhamid, a Syrian dissident based in Washington. “Assad has shown absolutely no signs of loosening his grip on society, and in many ways he’s gotten worse.”

Mrs. Clinton has made the spread of information technology a cornerstone of her foreign-policy mandate, arguing it can aid the global development of democracy and civil society.

In recent months, the Obama administration has taken steps to ease exports of certain types of telecommunications equipment and antifiltering software that were previously banned from entering countries such as Iran, China and Sudan out of concern they would be used as tools of government oppression.

Syria is Iran’s closest strategic and diplomatic ally. U.S. officials have publicly voiced their interest in driving a wedge between the two, in part by appealing to Mr. Assad’s desire to modernize his economy.

U.S. sanctions ban the sale of virtually all high-technology equipment and parts to Syria. But the legislation provides the White House with waiver powers that can allow U.S. companies to sell certain products to the Syrian market.

Over the past year, U.S. officials said they have facilitated the sales of spare airplane parts to Syria’s national carrier as part of the process. Members of the current U.S. mission to Syria said it is aimed at assisting companies such as Microsoft and Cisco to more easily enter the Syrian market.

Opposition among Republicans on Capitol Hill toward the Obama administration’s engagement policy with Syria remains strong. A number of leading Republican senators have threatened to place a hold on the White House’s nominee for ambassador to Syria, Robert Ford, until they are given a clearer reading on Syria’s alleged arms transfers of missiles to Hezbollah.

U.S. officials said they briefed lawmakers in Congress ahead of the trip and believed the State Department had their support.

Turkey, the 16th largest economy in the world and the 6th largest economy in Europe, has proposed a free trade zone with Syria, Jordan and Lebanon. Turkey’s trade with Arab countries topped USD 29 billion in 2009. Its trade with Iran was $10 billion in 2008. Erdoghan recently said that he expects Turkey to be the 10th largest economy in the world by 2025.

Turkey, Lebanon, Syria and Jordan to Set Up Free Trade Zone
Written by Adam Gonn
Published Sunday, June 13, 2010

As Turkey, Lebanon, Jordan and Syria sign free trade agreement, analysts discuss whether a new regional trading zone is in the cards.

Turkey, Lebanon, Jordan and Syria have agreed to set-up a regional agreement that would allow for free trade and travel between the four countries.

The news, first reported by the Lebanese business website iloubnan.info, would mean the removal of visas for travel between the four countries, as well as the establishment of a joint cooperation council to develop a free trade zone.

The deal, signed by the foreign ministers of the four countries on the sidelines of the Turkey-Arab Cooperation Forum in Istanbul, comes only one week after Turkey presented a range of measures to strengthen its economic ties with its eastwards neighbors, including Syria, Iraq and Iran. ….

ANALYSIS-Arab banks eye small but profitable Syrian market

* Major Arab banks setting up branches in Syria
* Bankers see opportunities if reforms continue
* Private bank assets may reach $30 bln in 3 years

By Khaled Yacoub Oweis DAMASCUS, June 14 (Reuters) – After decades of state control and isolation, Syria’s moves to ease restrictions on its banking sector offer international banks a potentially lucrative opportunity in one of the last untapped Arab markets.

Big regional banks, which include Jordan’s Arab Bank, Qatar National Bank and Lebanon’s Bank Audi, boosted branch numbers to 145 last year from 83 in 2008, despite currency and financial restraints.

And though Western banks are still steering clear, 13 newer entrants have increased their assets in Syria to $9 billion — out of total bank assets of $43 billion — and one banker said he expected that figure to triple in three years.

“Conditions in Syria are not perfect, but if reforms continue it will be one of the most important Middle East markets in the next five years,” said Hassan Heikal, chief executive officer of Egypt’s EFG-Hermes which plans to launch a $250-300 million private equity fund in Syria.

The expansion has been spurred by Syria’s cautious steps towards liberalisation started by President Bashar al-Assad, who succeeded his late father, Hafez al-Assad in 2000.

New regulations have allowed foreign majority shareholding of banks and trade finance, but foreign banks cannot open branches outright in Syria. Banks can also adjust interest rates within an expanded four percentage point margin set by the central bank, but the Syrian pound is not fully convertible.

The central bank says reforms can only be gradual, pointing to regulations limiting exposure to outside markets that have helped Syrian banks weather the financial crisis.

But financiers say the banking sector will not thrive if the state keeps maintains its dominant role in the economy, a legacy of four decades of Baath Party rule that discouraged foreign investment and caused capital to flee.

Bassel Hamwi, who heads the Syrian unit of Bank Audi, said he expected private sector bank assets to grow to $23-35 billion over the next three years and predicted a “bonanza” if U.S. sanctions were lifted, Syria privatised state assets, issued treasury bills and allowed private sector banks to compete with state banks for government business….

NEW APPLICANTS – Western banks have stayed away from Syria, partly due to U.S. sanctions imposed on Damascus since 2004 for its support of militant groups. The U.S. Treasury also imposed specific sanctions on well connected Syrians for corruption.

But the central bank expects to receive applications for three Gulf bank licences, including Saudi Arabia’s Samba, and is working on an investment banking law.

Egypt’s state-owned Banque Misr said last week it has received approval to open in Syria. Turkey’s Akbank said it was also looking into the Syrian market, and Syria’s finance minister said on Friday Turkey’s state-run Ziraat Bank would take a stake of up to 60 percent in a joint bank in Syria…

Criticism of Israel permitted in US policy shift
Tuesday June 8, 2010

UNITED NATIONS, June 8 (Reuters) – Under President Barack Obama, the United States no longer provides Israel with automatic support at the United Nations where the Jewish state faces a constant barrage of criticism and condemnation….

In an article called “Joining the jackals,” Elliott Abrams, who advised two Republican administrations and is now at the Council on Foreign Relations, accused Obama of exposing Israel to a virtual UN “lynch mob.”

“The White House did not wish to stand with Israel against this mob because it does not have a policy of solidarity with Israel,” Abrams said. “Rather, its policy is one of distancing and pressure.”

Abrams also criticized the White House over the recent five-year review conference of signatories to the 1970 nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) that Israel, like nuclear-armed Pakistan and India, has never signed.

Washington backed a call for a 2012 meeting of all countries in the Middle East to discuss making the region a zone free of nuclear and other weapons of mass destruction — a plan originally proposed by Egypt with Arab backing to add pressure on Israel to give up its nuclear weapons.

After allowing it to pass, the U.S. delegation criticized the NPT final declaration for “singling out” Israel, which neither confirms nor denies having atomic weapons.

This statement did not satisfy commentators like Abrams, who said Obama had “abandoned Israel in the U.N. and in the NPT conference in the course of one week.”

Some analysts say Washington wants to improve ties with Arab nations and regain lost status as a neutral peace arbiter while being careful not to alienate pro-Israel voters.

“During the George W. Bush years, Washington’s automatic siding with Israel on any issue seriously eroded what had been America’s long-standing posture as an honest broker in the Middle East,” said Mark Fitzpatrick of the International Institute for Strategic Studies in London.

“Obama has been trying to reclaim that status, while keeping in mind the domestic political need of not being seen as anti-Israel,” he said….

American Enterprise Institute: On June 10 a Whose Who of neocons praised Syria and the accomplishments of President Bashar al-Assad on the occasion of his 10th anniversary as president. See Elliott Abrams, Tony Badran, Scott Carpenter, Danielle Pletka, David Schenker, Brian Fishman, William D. Wunderle, Bill Harris, Andrew Tabler, and Michael Rubin spoke on the occasion of the 10th anniversary of Bashar’s ascension to power. See their remarks by clicking: Click full video and you will be taken to a link where you can select to view any specific speaker’s comments.

Turkey’s shift spurs concern on Capitol Hill
Flotilla clash draws scorn
By Rowan Scarborough
8:38 p.m., Sunday, June 13, 2010

Rep. Mike Pence said on the House floor that Turkey’s actions are “deeply troubling.” (Associated Press)PrintEmailView 10Comment(s)Enlarge Text|ShrinkClick-2-

The deadly May 31 flotilla clash off Gaza has prompted some in Congress to condemn Turkey, not Israel, and to note with concern Ankara’s steady shift in favor of U.S. adversaries Iran and Hamas.

While the world press reported international criticism of Israel, away from the headlines was a bipartisan group of Washington lawmakers criticizing Turkey for home-porting the flotilla that Israel says carried terrorist-linked activists. The ships were organized by the Turkish Humanitarian Relief Foundation (IHH), whose leaders acknowledge their aim was to break the Israeli blockade of Gaza.

For years, Turkey has held a special place on Capitol Hill as a NATO ally and Muslim country maintaining close economic and military ties to the Jewish state. Turkey has acted as a go-between in Israel-Arab dialogue. But that relationship started to sour several years ago, and now some in Congress are taking a second, more critical look at Turkey.

“I urge you to condemn Turkey’s support of IHH which has been known to maintain ties to terrorist organizations such as Hamas and Al Qaeda,” Rep. Frank Pallone Jr., New Jersey Democrat, wrote in a letter to President Obama. “I also ask that you condemn Turkey’s reaction to the incident involving the flotilla. Rather than engaging in an open dialogue, Turkey has chosen to recall their ambassador from Israel and disrupt diplomatic relations. … Turkey has chosen to ignore the facts and force its own view of events through threat. We can not allow these same old tactics to prevent us from taking the right position.”..

One of the harshest attacks came from the Republican House leadership.

“The complicity of Turkey in launching a flotilla to challenge the blockade in Gaza, the ensuing violence that occurred, the grievous loss of life is deeply troubling to those of us who have supported the U.S. Turkish alliance in the past,” Rep. Mike Pence of Indiana, a member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee who heads the House Republican Conference, said on the House floor.

“Hamas used the Gaza Strip to launch vicious and brutal attacks, thousands of rockets on civilians,” he said. “It cost lives in Gaza, it cost lives in Israel. Turkey needs to count the cost. Turkey needs to decide whether its present course is in its long-term interest.”

Rep. John Sarbanes, Maryland Democrat, said the U.N. inquiry should not look just at Israeli actions….

“ICRC says Israel’s Gaza blockade breaks law” by Imogen Foulkes (BBC)

Israel’s blockade of Gaza is a clear violation of international humanitarian law, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) has said…. “The whole of Gaza’s civilian population is being punished for acts for which they bear no responsibility. The closure therefore constitutes a collective punishment imposed in clear violation of Israel’s obligations under international humanitarian law,” the agency said in the statement.

And the ICRC blames differences between Hamas and the Palestinian Authority for some of Gaza’s shortages. But the key message from the body which rarely publicly criticises governments is that Israel’s blockade of Gaza must be lifted. That message is yet another indication of growing international concern over conditions in Gaza – just last week US President Barack Obama called the situation there unsustainable.

Egypt raises the retirement age to 65 from 60 for workers entering the workforce from 2012. It also stipulates the establishment of a pension and unemployment fund for each employee, in the public and private sectors, into which employers and employees will contribute, a parliament official said.

Israeli document: Gaza blockade isn’t about security
By Sheera Frenkel | McClatchy Newspapers

JERUSALEM — As Israel ordered a slight easing of its blockade of the Gaza Strip Wednesday, McClatchy obtained an Israeli government document that describes the blockade not as a security measure but as “economic warfare” against the Islamist group Hamas, which rules the Palestinian territory.

Jordan’s Nuclear Ambitions Pose Quandary for the U.S.
BY JAY SOLOMON in WSJ

SAWAQA, Jordan—The Kingdom of Jordan is in a sprint to become the Arab world’s next nuclear power. And America wants to help it succeed.

U.S. and Jordanian officials are negotiating a nuclear-cooperation agreement that would allow American firms to export nuclear components and know-how to the Mideast country, America’s closest Arab ally in the volatile region.

The Obama administration views Jordan as a key potential partner in its global program to promote the nonmilitary use of atomic energy—part of a broader plan to increase pressure on other Middle East countries, particularly Iran and Syria, to bring transparency to their own …

Comments (40)


1. almasri said:

With a bipartisan ‘law’ in the process of getting drawn by the Senate, Elliot Abrams should have nothing to worry about.

”In a rare show of bipartisan comity, the two Senate leaders are calling on Obama not just to oppose new efforts to isolate Israel at the U.N., but to openly declare America’s support for the Jewish state.”

Here’s the full article,

http://thecable.foreignpolicy.com/posts/2010/06/11/israel_supporters_launch_pre_emptive_strike_on_the_un

But somehow, sometime down the road Barack Hussein Obama will delliver on promises made just one year ago.

And why is Syria so upset with the Fulbrighters? Hasn’t Prof. Landis been good to Syria so far?

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June 14th, 2010, 5:37 pm

 

2. norman said:

By JAY SOLOMON
WASHINGTON—The State Department has dispatched a high-level diplomatic and trade mission to Syria, according to senior U.S. officials, marking the latest bid by the Obama administration to woo President Bashar al-Assad away from his strategic alliance with Iran.

The U.S. delegation comprises senior executives from some of America’s top technology companies, including Microsoft Corp., Dell Inc., Cisco Systems Inc. and Symantec Corp., according to the U.S. officials. All these companies’ businesses in Syria are constrained by U.S. sanctions.

The mission is controversial, given recent U.S. allegations that Syria transferred missiles to the Lebanese militant radical group Hezbollah. Syria, Hezbollah and Lebanon deny the allegations.

U.S. officials said the group will meet with Mr. Assad and his cabinet and seek to facilitate the flow of information technology into the Arab state, which is ranked by watchdog group Freedom House as among the most repressive in the world.

The delegation will also meet with Syrian businessmen, members of the country’s civil society and travel to two leading Syrian universities in a four-day stay, ending Thursday.

Mr. Assad has previously expressed to the Obama administration his desire to develop Syria’s telecommunications infrastructure, which has been imperiled by U.S. sanctions since 2004, according to American officials involved in the trip.

The State Department views the mission as a test of Mr. Assad’s desire for better ties with Washington and to potentially pave the way for a more open political environment inside Syria.

“We’re going into this open-minded. This has never been done before with a country of this nature,” said a senior U.S. official. “We’re hopeful and optimistic that this will lead to collaborations. But that’s something we can’t be sure about until the trip is done.”

The delegation is being led by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s point man on global promotion of Internet freedoms, Alec Ross.

Some lawmakers and Syrian human-rights activists criticized news of the State Department’s mission Monday.

These lawmakers and activists said Mr. Assad hasn’t responded to almost any of the policy requests made of him by the U.S. since President Barack Obama announced a policy shift towards engaging Damascus last year. They cited, in particular, Syria’s continued financial and arms support for militant groups operating in Lebanon and the Palestinian territories. They also cited Damascus’s refusal to cooperate with United Nations investigators looking into Syria’s alleged development of weapons of mass destruction.

Some Syrian activists also voiced concern that Damascus’s repression of political opponents could grow if the government develops more sophisticated technologies.

“I think the administration is fooling itself it believes that this type of engagement will bring about a more democratic Syria,” said Ammar Abdulhamid, a Syrian dissident based in Washington. “Assad has shown absolutely no signs of loosening his grip on society, and in many ways he’s gotten worse.”

Mrs. Clinton has made the spread of information technology a cornerstone of her foreign-policy mandate, arguing it can aid the global development of democracy and civil society.

In recent months, the Obama administration has taken steps to ease exports of certain types of telecommunications equipment and antifiltering software that were previously banned from entering countries such as Iran, China and Sudan out of concern they would be used as tools of government oppression.

Syria is Iran’s closest strategic and diplomatic ally. U.S. officials have publicly voiced their interest in driving a wedge between the two, in part by appealing to Mr. Assad’s desire to modernize his economy.

U.S. sanctions ban the sale of virtually all high-technology equipment and parts to Syria. But the legislation provides the White House with waiver powers that can allow U.S. companies to sell certain products to the Syrian market.

Over the past year, U.S. officials said they have facilitated the sales of spare airplane parts to Syria’s national carrier as part of the process. Members of the current U.S. mission to Syria said it is aimed at assisting companies such as Microsoft and Cisco to more easily enter the Syrian market.

Opposition among Republicans on Capitol Hill toward the Obama administration’s engagement policy with Syria remains strong. A number of leading Republican senators have threatened to place a hold on the White House’s nominee for ambassador to Syria, Robert Ford, until they are given a clearer reading on Syria’s alleged arms transfers of missiles to Hezbollah.

U.S. officials said they briefed lawmakers in Congress ahead of the trip and believed the State Department had their support.

Troubled Relations Some highs and lows in ties between Washington and Damascus
1991: Syria joins U.S. military coalition to push Iraqi forces out of Kuwait.

2000: Clinton administration brokers peace talks between Syria and Israel.

2004: Bush administration passes pervasive new sanctions on Syria in punishment for its support for terrorism and WMD programs.

2005: U.S. pulls ambassador from Damascus following assassination of Lebanon’s former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri, which many blamed on Syria.

2007: Israel bombs alleged nuclear site in Syria.

2008: Pentagon launches raid into Syria in pursuit of al Qaeda leaders.

2009: Obama administration announces intent to return ambassador and ease some economic sanctions.

2010: U.S. and Israeli officials accuse Damascus of supplying Hezbollah with Scud missiles.

Copyright 2009 Dow Jones & Company, Inc. All Rights Reserved

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June 14th, 2010, 9:01 pm

 

3. majedkhaldoun said:

my heart goes to those who are still in jail,and to their families,like Haytham Maleh,Muhannad Hasani and Anwar Bunni ,and all the others

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June 14th, 2010, 11:46 pm

 

4. Sam said:

The link to The New Syrian Bourgeoisie seems to be broken. Does the article exist any more?

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June 15th, 2010, 4:14 am

 

5. Sam said:

found it http://all4syria.info/content/view/27446/82/
تقرير خاص: البورجوازية الجديدة في سوريا

موقع نداء سورية
06/ 06/ 2010
من هي البورجوازية الجديدة (الشخصيات ـ الحجم ـ التأثير الاقتصادي)؟

أ ـ ظهورها:

هناك الكثير من التحليلات بشأن ظهور طبقة برجوازية جديدة في سوريا، ولعل الدافع إلى هذا الاعتقاد هو ما لامسه الشارع السوري منذ نهاية التسعينيات من القرن الماضي وحتى الآن، من تقلص دور الدولة على الصعيد الاقتصادي والذي يبدو جلياً في ابتعادها عن عدة مشاريع استثمارية ضخمة، ذهبت إلى أسماء جديدة لم تكن معروفة من ذي قبل، بعد أن كانت الدولة تقوم بكل شيء مذ تمت تصفية الطبقة البورجوازية السورية بفعل التأميم في بداية الستينيات من القرن العشرين.

تقرير خاص: البورجوازية الجديدة في سوريا

موقع نداء سورية
06/ 06/ 2010
من هي البورجوازية الجديدة (الشخصيات ـ الحجم ـ التأثير الاقتصادي)؟

أ ـ ظهورها:

هناك الكثير من التحليلات بشأن ظهور طبقة برجوازية جديدة في سوريا، ولعل الدافع إلى هذا الاعتقاد هو ما لامسه الشارع السوري منذ نهاية التسعينيات من القرن الماضي وحتى الآن، من تقلص دور الدولة على الصعيد الاقتصادي والذي يبدو جلياً في ابتعادها عن عدة مشاريع استثمارية ضخمة، ذهبت إلى أسماء جديدة لم تكن معروفة من ذي قبل، بعد أن كانت الدولة تقوم بكل شيء مذ تمت تصفية الطبقة البورجوازية السورية بفعل التأميم في بداية الستينيات من القرن العشرين.

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June 15th, 2010, 4:53 am

 

6. Akbar Palace said:

Norman,

Thanks for cutting a pasting Jay Solomon’s article. Although a link would have sufficed, Professor Josh already posted it on the above thread.

Anyway, I’m wondering what Erdogan and Assad think about child suicide bombers? I wonder if it is illegal to indoctrinate people in Turkey and Syria? Afterall, more muslims die due to suicide bombing than any other people.

http://www.cnn.com/2010/OPINION/06/15/obaid.suicide.children/index.html?hpt=C2

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June 15th, 2010, 10:02 am

 

7. almasri said:

List of countries recognizing criminal behavior of the zionist enclave grows once again.

Ireland today deported an Israeli criminal who was masquerading as a diplomat.

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June 15th, 2010, 11:28 am

 

8. Akbar Palace said:

June 15th, 2010, 12:00 pm

 

9. norman said:

AP,
You smart boy or girl , nothing gets by you , i am impressed ,

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June 15th, 2010, 12:12 pm

 

10. Sam said:

AP,
probably true, and apparently more jews die from nut allergies than Hamas rockets. some nightmare this is…

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June 15th, 2010, 12:42 pm

 

11. Yazan said:

Josh,
Could you please provide a link to that article of “leftist propaganda”?

Regardless of what’s in there, I find it hard to believe that someone can’t see that ever (vertically) growing parasitical class of nouveau-riche in Syria, let alone its intrinsic overlap with the political establishment. Call them bourgeois or simply a more vicious kind of corruption (one that disguises itself as Liberalism), they’re here, and they’re not making an effort to hide it. But well, since the “left” has become an insult…

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June 15th, 2010, 1:19 pm

 

12. Anonymous said:

A WORD OF ADVICE TO FUTURE FULBRIGHT SCHOLARS IN SYRIA:

Dear Professor Landis,
I commend you on having addressed a troubling trend which has become apparent in the Fulbright program in Syria. Over the past two years, most of the American Fulbright fellows who were in Syria were either deported or prevented from returning to Syria upon the completion of their grants. This occurred in the cases of all Fulbright grantees who studied in Syria in 2007-08, no exceptions. Most were informed that they were banned from reentering Syria upon leaving the country; others were either deported or prevented from reentering the country after their departures. The only two Fulbright fellows who studied in Syria in 2008-09 who attempted to return to Syria after the completion of their grants were denied entry. We can only assume that the same pattern will be repeated with future groups of Fulbright fellows. I advise all future Fulbright fellows to Syria to think twice before accepting the grant, because they might end up in a situation in which they can never return to Syria, one the main cultural and historical centres of the Middle East. Unfortunately, the Fulbright program and IIE have not done enough to solve problems surrounding the Fulbright program. We can only hope that this situation will improve pending ambassador Ford’s confirmation. Sadly, scholars pay the price for the sins of politicians, and being a scholar in the Middle East has never been more difficult. I hope, at the very least, that this note will help open people’s eyes to the reality of a situation which has inflicted untold damage on the academic and professional lives of scholars from diverse backgrounds who are committed to studying Syrian history and culture with an open mind and in the spirit of mutual exchange and cooperation.

Sincerely, Anonymous.

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June 15th, 2010, 1:35 pm

 

13. almasri said:

Norman,

Is it possible that those CIA agent are actually double agents working for Mossad at the same time?

It looks like the same signature to me. So it is likely one and the same international criminals roaming the world.

At least, Rice had some decency left in her.

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June 15th, 2010, 2:03 pm

 

14. norman said:

AlMasri ,
Many Jewish American military men work for Israel in the time of need , that is permitted in the US ,
We saw that in 1967 and in 1973

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June 15th, 2010, 2:54 pm

 

15. trustquest said:

After 7 years in prison, the opposition leader Aref Dalila in an interview affirm that the regime is taking the country no where but more chaos and destruction since regime monies in the foreign bank is way larger than the Syrian GDP.
http://all4syria.info/content/view/27896/71/

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June 15th, 2010, 3:08 pm

 

16. almasri said:

Thank you Norman. You kind of confirmed my theory. More and more recognitions of the criminal nature of the zionists are taking place all over the world. This is from an organization which calls itself the International Alliance against the Israeli War Criminals and shows that Ehud Barack cancelled a trip to France for fear of getting arrested,

http://www.aljazeera.net/NR/exeres/6B201AA2-4515-4F82-B599-1A71FBF2D13B.htm

But you know? The point of comment 8 actually falls into one of the categories of the 21 talking points of Stephen Walt which I posted recently under a different thread. So it is standard operating procedures.

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June 15th, 2010, 3:25 pm

 

17. Amir in Tel Aviv said:

Tony Badran, in the American Enterprise Institute, is brilliant and funny.

Syria’s self image: Delusions Of Grandeur. Ha Ha so true.
Syria as the center of the universe and the 5 seas.

The only sea I see is the sea of poverty.
.

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June 15th, 2010, 7:49 pm

 

18. jad said:

“The only sea I see is the sea of poverty.”
And that is so funny for you?
How can you live with such ugly way of thinking about poverty and social injustice?
Every time you write some careless and stupid comments like the one above, you prove how sick your interpretation of reality are.
Good job!!

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June 15th, 2010, 8:24 pm

 

19. Husam said:

Jad,

Re: Sea of poverty, what do you expect from people who are full of hate, those who think their interpretation is the correct one, and those who are joyful when harm is done to others?

You can see racism spewing from their own skin…

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June 15th, 2010, 8:56 pm

 

20. Jad said:

Dear Husam,
I don’t expect him to say it differently, but what strikes me is the inability of some people to recognize that social injustice, poverty and human suffering are real and it shouldn’t give anybody anywhere any satisfaction.
I very much agree with your note about racism.

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June 15th, 2010, 9:23 pm

 

21. Amir in Tel Aviv said:

The only “interpretation of reality”, Tribal, could be that
an Ophthalmologist has a poor vision.
.

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June 15th, 2010, 9:28 pm

 

22. Akbar Palace said:

One Man’s Terrorist is another Man’s Nut Allergy

probably true, and apparently more jews die from nut allergies than Hamas rockets

SAM,

And more Americans, Israelis and Arabs die each year from road accidents. Therefore, IMHO, the differences are:

1.) Bombs and terrorism are “premeditated” and not accidental. Hamas rockets are a form of terrorism.

2.) Arabs (and now Turks) only cry about who Jews kill, and not who Muslims kill.

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June 15th, 2010, 9:31 pm

 

23. almasri said:

كشفت مصادر تركية أن أنقرة أقرت خطة تتضمن سلسلة من الإجراءات للرد على الهجوم الإسرائيلي على سفن الأسطول، تصل
إلى حد قطع العلاقات الدبلوماسية والعسكرية وتجميد مختلف أشكال التعاون في جميع المجالات. وأوضحت المصادر أن هذه الخطة نوقشت في اجتماع مجلس الأمن القومي المصغر برئاسة رئيس الوزراء رجب طيب أردوغان، الذي عقد بعد يومين من الهجوم الإسرائيلي، وكذلك في اجتماع مجلس الوزراء برئاسة أردوغان أمس الأول.
وحدّدت المصادر ملامح هذه الخطة في مجموعة من الخطوات تبدأ بتقليص مستوى التمثيل الدبلوماسي في إسرائيل إلى أقصى درجة، وصولاً إلى قطع العلاقات الدبلوماسية بشكل كامل، ومنع دخول جميع السفن الإسرائيلية إلى الموانئ التركية، إضافة إلى عدم منح تأشيرة دخول للإسرائيليين، وإلغاء الاتفاقيات العسكرية الموقعة مع الدولة العبرية، وتجميد مشروعات التعاون في مجالات الصناعة والزراعة.
وفي هذا الإطار، نقلت إذاعة الجيش الإسرائيلي عن مصادر تركية قولها إنّ أنقرة لن ترسل سفيرها الجديد كريم أورس إلى تل أبيب، طالما أن الحكومة الإسرائيلية لم تعتذر عن هجومها على سفن «اسطول الحرية»، في وقت قالت مسؤولة في شركة «الصناعات الجوية الإسرائيلية» إنّ الشركة استدعت موظفيها من تركيا «لأسباب أمنية»، مشيرة إلى أن هذا «إجراء موقت».

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June 15th, 2010, 10:23 pm

 

24. Jad said:

Heritage buildings are the cities’true memory. I never read, heard or seen such atrocity on historical buildings in any city, on this scale, other than in Bucharest.
It’s a full scale cultural suicide when we treat our heritage like that, especially without any clear urban or architectural vision or code of what we will replace them with.
We, Syrian, people and government, are our own worst enemy.

أبنية حلب التاريخية تتساقط كأحجار الدومينو ومجلس المدينة ومديرية الآثار يقفان عاجزين
http://www.syria-news.com/readnews.php?sy_seq=116658

أحكام قضائية تلتهم أبنية حلب وتمزق ما تبقى من نسيجها العمراني المميز
باحث :الأمر بحاجة لتدخل القيادة وهدم المتميز وبناء التجاري يشبه استبدال القرد بالابن الجميل
مجلس المدينة ومديرية الآثار : الأحكام القضائية لا راد لها
لا يكفي مدينة حلب أحزمة البؤس في أطرافها ،ومناطق المخالفات الــ 17 التي أفقدتها نسيجها العمراني المميز عالمياً ، لكي تمتد يد الجشع إلى أبنيتها التاريخية المميزة والرائعة هدماً وتخريباً ،تلك الأبنية التي عمرتها حجراً إثر حجر يد ماهرة توارثت الإبداع طوال آلاف السنين، بينما يقف مجلس المدينة ومديرية الآثار عاجزين أمام مقاولين تسلحوا بأحكام قضائية لها آثار الدمار الشامل.

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June 15th, 2010, 11:57 pm

 

25. Badr said:

Professor Landis,

Is it a wise step from the Syrian government to prevent Fulbright students from coming to study in Syria, as a tit-for-tat diplomatic war?

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June 16th, 2010, 10:06 am

 

26. Joshua said:

Dear Badr,

It is easy to make the argument that Syria is shooting itself in the foot by squeezing the Fulbrighters in order to hurd Washington.

The Fulbrighters are the Americans most likely to know something about Syria other than the demonizing image presented in the media and to actually have warm feelings toward it. They also have a large impact on America’s view of Syria. I can name about five from the last two years that have gone into journalism or work for the government. Almost every academic in the US who specializes in Syria has been a Fulbrighter at least once. So it hurts Syria in the long run to be mean to Fulbrighters and to hurt their careers and efforts to continue their study of Syria.

But, from the point of view of diplomates and statesmen – both American and Syrian, academics and journalists are small fish and expendable. The US is not going to change its policy for Fulbrighters and neither is Syria.

In the tit-for-tat war taking place now, Syria has very few options left to hurt America. It has closed down AmidEast, which helps Syrians who want to study in the US. It has closed down the American school. Well, it was given permission to open again when America announced that it would reappoint an ambassador, but I will be shocked if the school actually gets the permission before the Ambassador is confirmed and living in his residence.

The Fulbright program and tourist visas for Americans are the last little cards that Syria can play in order to hurt America in its tit-for-tat war.

That is why it is playing them. It is not a question of who it hurts more. Unfortunately this is what happens when relations begin to deteriorate between countries. Good people who are well intentioned get hurt the most. The law of unintended consequences. I am sure Washington never meant to destroy the Iraqi professional classes when President Bush devised his plan for invading Iraq and changing the regime. All the same, the professional classes have been devistated.

Punishing people who are actually trying to improve relations between the two countries is no helpful – but who else actually cares about going to Syria?

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June 16th, 2010, 1:26 pm

 

27. maqam kurd said:

Why wasn’t John Bolton invited to the AEI conclave? Tony Badran, Elliot Abrams? Isn’t this hubris-infested lot too soft on Syria? If you’re going to have a Syria-bashing orgy, at least do it right.

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June 16th, 2010, 2:11 pm

 

28. Elie Elhadj said:

Prof. Landis,

You are so correct in saying that “Syria is shooting itself in the foot by squeezing the Fulbrighters in order to hurt Washington.”

Cutting one’s nose to spite their face is not too smart. To label future young American scholars as spies and prevent them from studying in Syria is breathtakingly ignorant. To host such bright American minds should be viewed as a privilege.

Elie

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June 16th, 2010, 5:02 pm

 

29. why-discuss said:

Josh

I also think that the Syrians are worried about Israelis with a dual US nationality entering the country for spying and killing like what happened in Dubai. After the indignation of the europeans toward Israel, I doubt Israeli Mossad will use again European fake passports to enter in arab countries. Therefore the most convenient potential agents are US-Israeli citizens. I do agree with Syria, the threat of such agents are much more important than the long term advantages Syria may get from Fulbright students. Let us not forget that Hamas headquarter is in Damascus and that Syria is still at war with the occupier of its land..
When you see the extensive scrutinity Israel performs on all its visitors, you can only wonder by the lack of such scrutinity on Syria’s borders.
In addition, Syria, like many technologically underdeveloped countries, does not have a sophisticated enough computerized system at the borders to quickly have access to information about a US citizen or any other entering the country, therefore they use the basic method: a visa.

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June 16th, 2010, 6:46 pm

 

30. Akbar Palace said:

When will academia cut Syria a Break?

WD,

Yes, there is soooo much “spying and killing” in Syria. Pretty scary.

Elie Elhadj,

Yes, Professor Josh has been unusually critical of his Baathist-led statesman. Pretty soon, I may have to use a new nickname for Professor Josh. I was thinking, “Professor Shai” due to his unending criticism of the Syrian government;)

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June 16th, 2010, 7:21 pm

 

31. jad said:

FINALLY, GREAT NEWS 🙂

السلطات السورية تفرج عن الدكتورة فداء الحوراني رئيسة المجلس الوطني لإعلان دمشق
أفرجت السلطات السورية اليوم الأربعاء 16/6/2010 عن الدكتورة فداء الحوراني رئيسة المجلس الوطني لإعلان دمشق للتغير الوطني الديمقراطي المعارض وذلك بعد انتهاء مدة الحكم الصادر بحقها . وكانت السلطات السورية أفرجت يوم الأحد الماضي عن ثلاثة من قياديي الاعلان هم أكرم البني وجبر الشوفي وأحمد طعمة ومن المنتظر ان يتم الإفراج عن كافة قياديي اعلان دمشق المعتقلين تباعا خلال الأيام المقبلة .

جدير بالذكر ان محكمة الجنايات الأولى بدمشق كانت قد أصدرت بتاريخ 29/10/2008 قرارا بتجريم قياديي إعلان دمشق : رياض سيف – فداء أكرم الحوراني – أحمد طعمة – أكرم البني – علي العبد الله – جبر الشوفي – ياسر العيتي – طلال ابودان – وليد البني – محمد حجي درويش – مروان العش – فايز سارة ،بجنايتي “إضعاف الشعور القومي – نقل أنباء كاذبة من شأنها أن توهن نفسية الأمة” وسجنهم لمدة عامين ونصف العام.

يشار إلى ان السلطات الأمنية السورية كانت قد شنت حملة اعتقالات ضد أعضاء المجلس الوطني لإعلان دمشق بعد انعقاد مؤتمره الأول في 1/12/2007.

ان المرصد السوري لحقوق الإنسان يهنئ الدكتورة فداء أكرم الحوراني بخروجها إلى الحرية ويكرر المرصد مطالبته للحكومة السورية بالإفراج عن كافة معتقلي الرأي والضمير في السجون السورية وإغلاق ملف الاعتقال السياسي والسماح بلا قيد أو شرط بعودة السوريين من أصحاب الرأي خارج البلاد الذين يخشون اعتقالهم في حال عودتهم إلى سورية،و يدعو المرصد إلى إصدار قانون عصري ينظم عمل الأحزاب السياسية والجمعيات المدنية في سورية يضمن سلامة ووحدة البلاد.
المصدر:المرصد السوري

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June 16th, 2010, 7:41 pm

 

32. almasri said:

Iraq may soon look like a bad dream compared to the Adghan nightmare. Don’t forget to click on the video,

http://www.aljazeera.net/NR/exeres/24F02D6D-8F4B-4DD1-865D-474A75D9611D.htm

It could be a first installement of a payback to Clinton’s so-called diplomatic victory at the UN. But on the other hand the Revolutionary Guard is becoming the largest State contractor in the world specializing in oil and gas exploration, drilling, and refining with contracts worth over 30 billion dollars. It may soon start exporting cutting edge oil and gas technologies to the world. In addition it is specializing in heavy industries and research spanning the full spectrum from weapons manufacturing all the way to nuclear reactors research and development. Sometimes sanctions do produce some blessings in disguise for some people.

But we must all congratulate Hilary for her excellent handling of FP. She indeed delivered on her campaign promises. She certainly can answer the phone 3:00 O’cklock in the morning not to mention her Yiddish credentials that make it easy for her to sacrifice americans overseas in order to protect her Yiddish speaking friends in the ever insecure enclave.

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June 16th, 2010, 9:44 pm

 

33. Norman said:

Jad ,

Don’t you think that it is ironic that after trying to have an independent Judiciary system for a long time , we can see that they are calling for the interference of the leadership to stop the court order, they would have been better off appealing the ruling and if they fail they can demand an external shape of the new building to match the historic style of old Aleppo,

أحكام قضائية تلتهم أبنية حلب وتمزق ما تبقى من نسيجها العمراني المميز
باحث :الأمر بحاجة لتدخل القيادة وهدم المتميز وبناء التجاري يشبه استبدال القرد بالابن الجميل
مجلس المدينة ومديرية الآثار : الأحكام القضائية لا راد لها
لا يكفي مدينة حلب أحزمة البؤس في أطرافها ،ومناطق المخالفات الــ 17 التي أفقدتها نسيجها العمراني المميز عالمياً ، لكي تمتد يد الجشع إلى أبنيتها التاريخية المميزة والرائعة هدماً وتخريباً ،تلك الأبنية التي عمرتها حجراً إثر حجر يد ماهرة توارثت الإبداع طوال آلاف السنين، بينما يقف مجلس المدينة ومديرية الآثار عاجزين أمام مقاولين تسلحوا بأحكام قضائية لها آثار الدمار الشامل.

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June 16th, 2010, 10:34 pm

 

34. jad said:

Dear Norman,
I agree with you, it’s very wrong to depend on the presidency to solve every little problem we face; it’s absolutely the opposite direction that where we should be going toward.
Unfortunately, the Syrian society still live in the ‘Khalifa’ mentality where only one person can fix everything, do you remember Dr. Elie Elhadj article when he wrote “Arab democracy is an illusion’ and the only system that works is dictatorship?

This case should be a civil society job, a job for some kind of independent organization specialized in heritage and protection to challenge the court rule on behalf of the city’s citizens. However, we have few outstanding Syrian individuals that do great job in making these kind of stories out in newspaper so it becomes a public case and we need to depend on those until we are intellectually mature and democratic enough to have organizations not individuals to do this important work.
I do agree with the building’s owners that they don’t have to become a poverty traps for the sake of national treasures. Municipalities as well as government administrations have the duty to help these people through national financial programs offered by all banks/financial institutions for supporting the owners in renovating/developing their buildings and at the same time they can help through strict urban and architectural visions and codes for old buildings so developers can keep/rebuild/even move the same facade and do whatever they want behind it where development needs to occur without deleting the history in the way. This basic strategy exists in almost all American cities; I think we already have some primitive version of that in Syria, I wonder why the municipality through the building process don’t force that on the developers.
This is a bad sign of how the system is failing to protect the country’s assets (today is heritage buildings turn, tomorrow, national factories, industries, national lands, electricity and water supplies) this is why I think that this trend needed to be stopped immediately before it goes too far. We must organize and analyze our progress as prevention for any future chaos.

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June 16th, 2010, 11:54 pm

 

35. almasri said:

The threat to old city Aleppo was realized in the early 70s following a plan by a French architect, Andre Gutton, to cut roads through the city in order to ease traffic. Gutton’s plans started in 1952 and took twenty years to discover its consequences. It was a shortsighted plan that lead to demolishing a large number of old buildings and replacing them with cube buildings. In 1979, Gutton’s plan was shelved because of this late discovery but the damage was done already. UNESCO moved in 1986 and declared old city Aleppo a world heritage site in order to help limiting the damage.
So now you need to reconcile the clash between modernity with its capitalist appeal and a heritage with its cultural value. This is a giant undertaking that would require huge funds and determined wills of individual and/or organizations that can support such development.
The government can help by planning and constructing industrial and commercial zones in what we call here in the west suburbs or outskirts, i.e. create a new Aleppo and leave the old one alone. At the same time, the government can help in funding a working transit system that allow working people to commute to their new job locations in these industrial and commercial centers. Why do you have to live, work, sleep, dine and socialize in one central souk in the center of the city? They should have brought an American architect instead of this shortsighted French one? But America and Americans are always the villains in the ME and especially in Syria. I think of them the same way to be honest – at least when it comes to their government.

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June 17th, 2010, 1:20 am

 

36. jad said:

Interview: Syrian President Assad on Middle East crisis

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/world/middle_east/10341017.stm

Syria’s President Bashar al-Assad has said that the Israeli flotilla raid has increased the chances of war in the Middle East.
Speaking to the BBC’s Middle East Editor, Jeremy Bowen, the Syrian leader said that Israel was not a “partner for peace” and that “when you don’t have peace you have to expect war”.

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June 17th, 2010, 9:57 am

 

37. jad said:

Dear Norman,
Back a bit to my comment about Aleppo, I find it very strange and very difficult to understand why and how those cases happened while there is a huge urban study process going on for a while regarding Aleppo.
Can you imagine how the situation will be if there were nothing going on? Strange!!

#35
Your analyze of Aleppo’s case is missing many important points:

1- City Planning and Urban Design is like any other science, it has its theories, tools and strategies that change from time to time, therefore it is unfair to call Andre Gutton a ‘shortsighted’, he was using the latest theories of his time and he was an excellent architect for his time, so when Syria gave him the job they actually asked the best of the best of that period.
But since then the big boulevard and highway going through the city theories were proved not to work in the best interest of cities and this is why the plans changed after 20 years, not only in Syria but allover the world. And to suggest that Syrian should’ve used an American urban designer is not a wise conclusion since Urban design in the states during that time and even until recently was a bad example to use, the Europeans are the masters of this domain and we in Syria know that very well and we are still workign with them, Germans in general and we have the Japanese and the French are helping as well. I think that I was actually wrong not to mention that in details earlier in my comments when I linked the bad news about Aleppo.

2- The suburb idea doesn’t work well in our culture, it’s a bad idea, it proved to be unsustainable for the long term and many american cities are paying the price for this mistake today. One of the solutions can be used is in ‘smartly’ redeveloping the area we already have instead of building new areas, wasting the land and polluting the environment.

3-There are already industrial zones and industrial cities built allover the country and In every city under the current Syrian zoning system there is a specific zone for almost every use the city needs, we already have some documentations and rules for this specific issue (they need to be constantly updated) what we miss is the implementation of those rules. In short CORRUPTION is our enemy on all fronts.

4-“Why do you have to live, work, sleep, dine and socialize in one central souk in the center of the city?” because this is the right thing to do this is the most natural things that our cities should give to its citizens. Any development should think of those issues, I’m not saying that we have to stay in the city centre, what I’m suggesting is that we have to build our new neighbourhoods and to improve our existing ones in our cities to reflect these basic elements of having affordable and mixed income housing, high density, walkable and safe environment, services and mixed use development and to connect the city and its surrounding with a dependable, green and multiple public transportation means.

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June 17th, 2010, 1:00 pm

 

38. almasri said:

#37,

I may have missed those points that you mentioned but Gutton’s plan was specifically scraped because of the fact it threatened the old city, which by the way shows that civic awareness may have been present on this issue some 30 years ago. And that is why UNESCO stepped in. Now, Gutton may or may not have been shortsighted and he may have been brilliant as you claim. But obviously he did not foresee the threat to the cultural heritage of the city in his plan. You may be right that at the time people were more interested in development and specifically modernity which was associated with progress and may not have been Gutton’s ‘shortsightedness’ after all. But a ‘brilliant’ architect should at least forewarn of such threats before embarking on executing a plan and not leave them to be discovered through trial and error and when it could be too late. Did he make such warnings?

The fact remains reconciling modernity with cultural heritage values requires more than just civic awareness and activism, even though they could help a lot if they are present. What you need most is the huge funds and the will and commitment of individuals and organizations. I know that downtown Beirut, for example, was rebuilt after its destruction and an effort was exerted to preserve its historical architecrure. At least in that part of the city the efforts seem to have born fruit to some extent. But that was done through the efforts of one man who had the means. I couldn’t say the same of most recent developments and the mega projects that are now turning the city into an environmental nightmare.

So is it only Arab urban planners who cannot achieve this reconciliation? Or is this the norm? You mentioned Bucharest as another example.

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June 17th, 2010, 2:38 pm

 

39. jad said:

“which by the way shows that civic awareness may have been present on this issue some 30 years ago.”
It was. Average Syrians from that time knew exactly who is Renee Danger, Michele Ecochard and Jiyoji Banshoya, they knew very well their city’s local architects by name and what they built.
While today, very few people in Aleppo know what (UDP Syria) program is and what are the plans for their city or who is designing their city for them.
How many knows about the organizations doing the work for the Syrian cities and who is behind them and if those companies doing the master plans are good enough to do the job?
This is why I would love to see Syrians getting involved in the process and this is why I’m replying to your challenges so that some Syrian youth can get some information about his/her city and what’s going on.

“Did he make such warnings?”
I don’t think that Gutton made that, but I’m sure that he did what he knew it works at that time.

“The fact remains reconciling modernity with cultural heritage values requires more than just civic awareness and activism, even though they could help a lot if they are present.”
Citizen involvement is the best way to have the best results, you can hire the best architect and the best urban planner in the world but if they don’t get involved with the place they are designing for and if locals doesn’t tell them about a specific historical event that happened in a city life and some local stories that means lots to them many things will be lost.

“What you need most is the huge funds and the will and commitment of individuals and organizations…..But that was done through the efforts of one man who had the means.”
Money not always is the challenge Dubai is a good example of this. Dubai became a plastic city that its urban form doesn’t fit it while they used the best of the best in the building and planning domains and they spent more money than any other country in the world.
Well Beirut is a bit different, however, the redevelopment process coast the country more than $30 billion dollars in debt for just the downtown area, was that wise? I don’t know.
I believe that we the Syrians with all our bad management, our terrible corruption system, our lack of specialists and lack of money we are still trying to do something good to our cities, we are doing terrible mistake in the way but at least we are trying in the means we’ve got and I for that only I give our people lots of credits, just imagine if we didn’t have all those challenges..sad eh!

So is it only Arab urban planners who cannot achieve this reconciliation? Or is this the norm?
This is a global issue we as human are learning from our mistakes, it doesn’t matter if you are Egyptian or American or German or Syrian we all do the same basic thing “try and fail and try again” some countries succeed in the process and others fail, I personally blame that on the lack of understanding the City DNA and how to treat its problem using the right strategy.

You mentioned Bucharest as another example.
Bucharest was BUTCHERED by a ruthless ignorant DICTATOR..it was the only old city in the world to totally destroy it’s own history, that is the worst city example you study in the 20th century urban history..the worst.

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June 17th, 2010, 3:29 pm

 

40. Norman said:

Thanks Jad and Almasri , it is going to take some time from me to read all that , thanks again ,

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June 17th, 2010, 10:43 pm

 

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