Was Insufficient Economic Growth A Critical Factor? – A SyriaComment Article From 2006 By Ehsani

This morning, Mitt Romney picked Representative Paul Ryan as his running-mate as the Republican party attempts to win back the White House from President Obama.

This choice is noteworthy because it will make the economy and the country’s fiscal challenges the focal point of this election. Mr Ryan is the current Budget Committee Chairman. The upcoming election is unlikely to be about Mr. Obama’s color or Mr. Romney’s religious beliefs.

Why is this important or relevant?

As many readers know, I have been highlighting the importance of economics for years when it comes to Syria. Following the previous note entitled “Could Syria’s Current Predicament Have Been Avoided Over A Decade Ago?”, a number of readers thought that the post was too simplistic. Surely, one cannot blame the current crisis on the failure to allow the Damascus Spring to flourish during 2001.

It is extremely difficult to agree on the main factor that led to the Syrian crisis. Over the past 17 months, several reasons have been offered. The list includes:

-Sunni-Shia (Alawi) sectarian divide
-Syria’s position with respect to Iran.
-Breaking the resistance.
-Domestic Corruption.
-The heavy handedness of the security apparatus.
-Lack of economic opportunities for vast majority of the populace.

The above list is by no means complete of course. As the regular readers of this forum recall however, I have long maintained that issues relating to the lack of economic growth constitute the dominant factors behind not only the Syrian uprising but those in the region as a whole.

Insufficient economic growth coupled with widespread corruption (I consider both related) is a lethal combination. In such an environment, the cake that is made up of yearly income/production is too small to be shared by the majority of the population.  Without expanding the size of the cake, the ranks of the unemployed will swell and incomes will stagnate and fall in real terms. Incomes will not be able to keep up with both inflation and a fast growing population.  This important topic was addressed in a post six years ago this month.

Back in August of 2006, I wrote a “Personal Memo” :

The key points discussed in the note are:

“Syria is made up of two separate countries: Syria 1 which contains close to one million people and Syria 2 which contains the remaining 19 million.

Syria 1 is made up of the affluent, highly connected industrialists, merchants and very high Government officials. Given the high standard of living of this group, one would expect them to support the regime and the current status quo. While most may admit that that progress has been slow, they are quick to point that given the circumstances, the country is on the right track. They highlight their latest cell phones, home and office Internet connections as well as their brand new cars as irrefutable signs of the economic and social advances that the country has been experiencing as of late. Seen from their prism, the Syrian economy seems prosperous judging by the superb outdoor dinners, number of servants, lovely homes, fancy cars, latest cell phones, rising land values, and monopolistic businesses.

Life could not be more different for the 19 million people of Syria 2.    It is clear that this silent majority has suffered the brunt of this grave economic mismanagement. This is evident in this group’s salary levels. If they were lucky enough to have jobs, salaries of this group is likely to be around Syp 10,000 ($200) per month. Their average family size is 6-7 (four to five children).

The vast majority of the population is likely to suffer even further going forward. Though inconceivable, their children may fare even worse than their horrific $6 payday. The population explosion has resulted in scores of unemployed men walking its major cities. Those residing in the rural part of the country have fared even worse. Their decision to locate to the big cities has made things even worse. It is my conviction that this regime cannot reform fast enough to arrest the decline in its economy and the standards of living of its citizens.”

To be fair, the above challenges are not unique to Syria. The demographic challenge covers the whole region.   The oil producing region of the Middle East is blessed with staggering earnings from energy production and exports. This is likely to delay their day of reckoning. The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia reportedly spent an extra $65 billion last year to fend off any hints of domestic discontent. The none-oil producing countries of the region simply don’t have anywhere near such financial resources to do the same. For countries like Egypt, Yemen and Syria to have a chance, they need to engineer China-like economic growth rates in order to survive.  Without such growth, their young populations will keep revolting for years to come.

I will conclude with a another short article that I wrote back in the fall of 2010 following the events of Tahrir Square and prior to the start of the Syrian uprising:

“In the twenty-five years between 1980 and 2005, Yemen’s total fertility (children per women) averaged 7.49. Iraq’s was 5.67. Saudi Arabia, Syria, and Egypt averaged 5.42, 5.19, and 4.25 respectively. In contrast, the United States and Western Europe averaged 1.96 and 1.56. Over the same period, real economic growth in the Arab world was largely stagnant. When populations double every twenty-five years and real incomes stay constant, future revolutions are baked in the cake.

Economic reforms like those offered by the political establishment lack the speed or vigor to match the droves of young men waiting to enter the region’s labor force. The region’s official unemployment rates mask the severity of the problem. Close to 40 percent of the population is under the age of fourteen and they will soon join the labor force. Furthermore, women’s labor participation rates are in the teens, the lowest in the world. This is also likely to increase. Consequently, real economic growth in the region must match Chinese levels—and fast. With no vibrant industrial policy, insufficient energy and renewable water resources, an outmoded education system, and median house price-to-income ratios close to ten (the United States is at three), Arab countries are riding their Titanics straight into their respective icebergs. Tunisia and Egypt are only the beginning. Yes, the Arab world could do with less corruption and more democracy and freedom, but none of this is likely to matter. The region needs to create between eighty and ninety million jobs over the next twenty years. This is 12,500 jobs a day.

Expect the Tahrir Square of every Arab capital to occupy our evening news for years to come.”

Comments (483)

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Brilliant post reminder from Ehsani,

“Insufficient economic growth coupled with widespread corruption (I consider both related) is a lethal combination. In such an environment, the cake that is made up of yearly income/production is too small to be shared by the majority of the population.”

I totally agree with this idea and can confirm personally since I have seen it in hundreds of cases.

“Close to 40 percent of the population is under the age of fourteen and they will soon join the labor force. ”

Today, after 2 years, we can say that 50 % of syrian population is under 18 years. It seems good that the revolution exploded before it was even later to find a solution.

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August 11th, 2012, 1:25 pm



Regarding the detention of Michel Samaha, I think this is the best news we have received since the syrian occupation of Lebanon.

Now it is crystal clear the role of Assads security apparatus during at least 35 years in Lebanon, but specially during last 7 years since the death of Rafik Al Hariri.

Hariri, Tueini, Kassir, Gemayel, Hawi, etc. Finding Samaha responsible for trying to create unrest and civil war (probably pretended even to kill the Maronite Patriarch during next week’s scheduled visit to Akkar) is the best news for syrian and lebanese populations and for clearifying the role of lebanese traitors dogs in Lebanon.

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August 11th, 2012, 1:30 pm


3. AIG said:


The additional point that is important to understand is that “resistance” is not compatible with Chinese like economic growth. I dare say that this is the point that was hard for you to accept. Assad’s foreign policy doomed his economic policy. While you indeed were right about the economic policies, you were not willing, and neither were Landis or Alex, to make this connection.

In a globalized world, foreign policy and economic policy are intertwined. And that is a lesson also for Syria in the future. You cannot have “resistance” and significant economic growth at the same time.

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August 11th, 2012, 1:38 pm


4. Ehsani said:


We need to agree on what you mean by “resistance”. Do you mean that Syria needs to drop all her legitimate rights in order to achieve economic growth? I hope that this is not what you mean.

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August 11th, 2012, 1:46 pm


5. Syrian Soul said:

This peace of analysis fails to address the covert role by the U.S and its allies in destablizing the country. The so called “Arab Spring” seems like hell to the MENA region. The super powers seem to understand the weaknesses of this part of the world very well and make use of it for the global interests of the U.S.

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August 11th, 2012, 1:48 pm




Of course this foreign politics is uncompatible with global economics relations and mecanichs. But I find “Resistence” was just a way to justify the sustained status quo for Big Hands to keep on corruption stelaing on behalf of syrian population. So we can simply ingore “Resistence” as a simple formal facade.

At the end “Resistance” was just a stupid’s game to keep themselves in power, and then to mantain corruption. So, in this case “Resistence” can be equaled to “Corruption”. And both, or let’s say Corruption justified by Resistence, led to Economical Collapse. But in economical terms it was not Resistence but Corruption and personal ambitions (united to stupid responsibles) what led to this economical enourmous failure.

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August 11th, 2012, 1:53 pm


7. omen said:

there needed to be a political reordering before economic reforms can be put into place.

what are ehsani’s recommendations to produce growth?

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August 11th, 2012, 2:02 pm


8. Ehsani said:


I have written on this subject for years. The question you ask cannot be answered in a brief format that can do it justice.

In a nutshell, the public sector has to be significantly reduced in size. The private sector needs to pick up. The cuts in public sector liabilities allows for smaller wage bills. The existing civil servants must see their salaries trebled. This will then make it possible to fight corruption afterwards.

Taxation and red tape have to be streamlined. Huge tax breaks for foreign companies must be given. Those that decide to invest in more labor-intensive industries will get even more breaks.

The Turkish coast was developed by giving the land for free and loan subsidies from the government to international investors.

Industrial policy that target job creation at the expense of all else is the answer.

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August 11th, 2012, 2:17 pm


9. AIG said:


Come on, there is a huge difference between standing for your rights and “resistance” as manifested by the policies of the Assad regime. Using terrorism to advance foreign policy goals is not the same as standing for your rights.

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August 11th, 2012, 2:28 pm


10. ghufran said:

A good story at the Guardian:
on the subject of economy, many of us knew that Syria was a time bomb due to corruption,oppression and poverty. Albaath and the Assads planted the seeds and now is the harvest,what is troubling though is the foreigners and islamists manipulation of events and public resentment,the behavior of the regime and rouge elements in the opposition transformed the uprising into an armed rebellion and a sectarian fight.

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August 11th, 2012, 2:31 pm


11. omen said:

that’s what i was afraid of. tax breaks for the wealthy haven’t produced growth. austerity doesn’t produce growth.

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August 11th, 2012, 2:31 pm


12. omen said:

this, if followed through, would produce jobs:

In July 2011 Iranian officials announced a $10 billion gas pipeline deal between Syria, Iraq and Iran that would transport gas from Iran’s South Pars gas field, the world’s biggest, through Iraq to Syria. Also planned was an extension of the AGP from Aleppo, in Syria, to the southern Turkish city of Kilis that could later link to the proposed Nabucco pipeline linking Turkey to Europe, if that pipeline ever materializes.

but parasitic vultures are doing their damndest to hoard the proceeds for themselves.

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August 11th, 2012, 2:39 pm


13. Amir in Tel Aviv said:

Syria’s economic failure has nothing to do with the so called “resistance”.

There are many (economically speaking) failed states, that have peace with all their neighbors. And there are other states that are being constantly threatened (S. Korea, Singapore, Taiwan, Israel), which are relatively successful.

Egypt, Jordan, Yemen and Sudan. None involved in muqawama. All failed.

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August 11th, 2012, 3:00 pm


14. ann said:

Western powers are ‘antithetical to peace’ in Syria – 11 August, 2012

Hillary Clinton’s discussion of a no-fly zone over Syria is a violation of the UN charter of the Geneva Accords, journalist and activist Don DeBar told RT.

The US Secretary of State discussed plans to undermine the Syrian government, during a meeting with Turkey’s Foreign Minister on Saturday.

Clinton and her Turkish counterpart, Ahmet Davutoglu, indicated they are exploring a number of measures to aid the Syrian opposition, Reuters reported.

RT: Hillary Clinton’s visit comes as Ankara is stepping up threats to use force in the Syrian conflict. Meanwhile, the US and Turkey are also saying they’re preparing for the ‘worst-case scenario’ of a chemical attack. Is that scenario a real possibility?

Don DeBar: There’s been some discussion of the possibility of a so-called “black ops” chemical attack, where some of the US agent forces that are on the ground in Syria fighting the government would launch a chemical attack and attempt to lay the blame for that on the Syrian government. I think that’s a real possibility. The discussion of a no fly zone and aerial support for the insurgency is a violation of the UN charter of the Geneva Accords and just about all international law that bears on this. It’s a frightening continuation of the policy the US has conducted around the world in the past.

RT: Western powers have long said their actions are all for the sake of the Syrian people. But with more cash and arms being given to the rebels, how’s that going to help bring peace?

DeBar: It’s actually antithetical peace. The conduct of war against the government on soil where the Syrian people live obviously cannot bring peace for Syrian people. It’s intended to provoke a response from the government. The government has the choice of either not responding and allowing armed terrorists to blow up their troops and to execute civilians, or to fight back – which of course means there are parts of the cities that get bombed and there are people that are displaced. These two choices are what are being presented by American policy in Syria.

RT: Turkey’s allegedly funneling weapons to the Syrian rebels through a secret base near the border. Has the country and its allies properly weighed up the dangers of supporting forces with links to al-Qaeda, and particularly on their own borders?

DeBar: You might ask the same question of the US alliance with Al Qaeda on and off since its creation in Afghanistan in the early 80s. We know the answer to that. The answer is it’s a very dangerous game to play. You are, on the one hand, creating an enemy that has no state ties, really isn’t domiciled anywhere, and is highly weaponized, very angry, and extremely religious. So they go around and kill whoever they decide to kill. Sometimes it’s people in New York City. Sometimes it’s people in Afghanistan. Sometimes it’s people in Russia. Sometimes it’s people in Lebanon and Syria. Right now, the focal point is Syria.



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August 11th, 2012, 3:25 pm


15. Jasmine said:

I totally agree with Ehsani’s analysis but shouldn’t be mentioned the size of Syrian military budget and it’s impact on national spending,in my opinion Syria was in a war for the last 64 years with Israel and the resources could be easily diverted on developing the country instead of buying arms ,if the Palestinian problem didn’t exist.
Having tough neighbourhood like Iraq and its problems for the last 20 years wasn’t helpfull either.
Strained relation with Turkey (apart from last few years) didn’t help either.
The continuous aggravation from the Kurds towards Turks wasn’t contributing to the peace.
Relation with Jordan wasn’t exemplary .
Lebanon and its prolonged civil war and it’s impact on Syria couldn’t be ignored either,practically Lebanon was having a ride on Syria’s back for the last 30 years.
Syria was used as a canon towards Israel for too long,as the heart of Bloody Arabism.
Can’t we just be Syrian?

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August 11th, 2012, 3:43 pm


16. Citizen said:

Report: German officials confirm submarines sold to Israel can fire nuclear-tipped cruise missiles
Remarks cited by German weekly Der Spiegel regarding Dolphin-class submarines contradict past remarks by Chancellor Angela Merkel, who said that the vessels do not have nuclear weapons capabilities.

It should be noted that the cost of torpedoes and high-speed boats for Syria will be much easier than the cost of luxury submarines!

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August 11th, 2012, 4:02 pm


17. bronco said:

About Samaha’s case, a setup by opposition dissidents?

The case seems sewn with white thread. There is something fishy.

If we look at the current version carried by Lebanese media, the whole operation looks amateurish. It is not believable that the Syrian intelligence services would organize such an extensive operation using two agents without making sure of their reliability and taking enough precautions that they would not be directly implicated.
It may be sound like a spy movie, so was the killing of the Hamas official in Dubai by the Mossad.

For my part, I think Samaha was used in a trap set by Syrian dissidents helped by foreign intelligence services.

Indeed someone posing as Ali Mamlouk or Adnan convinced Samaha to transport explosives in Lebanon. Samaha, perhaps lured by financial gain or the idea of ​​serving Bashar al-Assad that he worships accepted to smuggle the explosives in Lebanon in his car, driven by his driver and accomplice Mr Kfoury.
Samaha’s arrest was part of plan as his driver, a strawman, gave him up to the ISF ( the internal security forces, that we know are close to Hariri).
With this arrest the Syrian opposition succeeded in giving two blows, one by implicating Bashar Al Assad and the Syrian intelligence in a terrorist attack, second in discrediting Hezbollah.
Now it is quite possible that the only witness “Mr Kfoury” will disappear and the whole trial will rely on a video and allegations…
Are we going to see another manipulation of justice we got used to in Lebanon with false witnesses and shady characters?

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August 11th, 2012, 4:10 pm


18. ghufran said:

when we said that rebels do not have enough support in Aleppo, althawrajiyeh did not like that,now we can see how the lack of public support can break any rebellion. Most Syrians from what I see are against the regime and its brutal and corrupt heads,but they do not want to destroy and divide Syria to achieve a regime change,this regime was doomed even without all of that bloodshed.
much of the violence committed by the rebels was not necessary and it was not in self defense,it did more harm than good,this violence will only continue because of the financial support from GCC and the evil dedication of foreign fighters to death and bloodshed. Syrians in general are not extremists and are willing to adapt and negotiate,but we need a cease fire before we can start talking about a political solution,that solution must include a change in leadership but not the eradication of every Syrian who worked for the government,as for the expat opposition,they are as good as Jalabi of Iraq,worthless without foreign tanks,the real opposition is in Syria,that includes people who had to take up arms to DEFEND their families and their villages,but not thugs who get paid to kill or thieves who burn,destroy and loot in the name of fighting the regime.

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August 11th, 2012, 4:13 pm


19. Citizen said:

who do not want to feed own army he would have to feed the foreign one !

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August 11th, 2012, 4:18 pm


20. Norman said:

I want to add that the well to do Syrians did nothing to impact and improve the lives of the poor in Syria, they left everything for the government to do and paid minimum taxes to help, they are the major losers, as i said previously in Homs with a city of more one million people there is no open heart surgery, the well to do Syrians prefer to go to Lebanon for care than organizing an open heart surgery program in Homs so all the people of Homs can use. lack of patriotism and the care for other Syrians is the problem in Syria.

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August 11th, 2012, 4:23 pm


21. omen said:

norman, what is syria’s level of taxation for the well off? personal and corporate?

10% corporate?

and ehsani wants to lower it more??

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August 11th, 2012, 4:27 pm


22. Syrialover said:

Wow, Ehsahni.

Just yesterday I started to write a post asking you to please post something on Syria’s economic issues. I then got distracted going back over some of your great posts over the years.

But then, voila! you posted the above.

Thank you. Fantastic.

(Er, are you remotely monitoring my computer or what?)

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August 11th, 2012, 4:29 pm


23. Jasmine said:

Citizen @ 18
My point is that Syria is a developed country and can’t and shouldn’t afford this huge military apparatus .
I didn’t understand what do you mean.

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August 11th, 2012, 4:32 pm


24. Citizen said:

I do not mean anything !!!
Napoleon Bonaparte said that !

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August 11th, 2012, 4:54 pm


25. Syrialover said:

Jasmine (#14),

You are onto something there.

There are some very revealing studies around comparing the staggeringly high % of their budget that many underdeveloped countries spend on their military compared with the low % invested in education, health, infrastucture development and other things their country desperately needs.

The massively high proportion of their meagre budgets poured pointlessly into military spending, and the disporportionately low spend on other essentials is in sharp contrast to that of developed countries.

Analysts examining this phenomena can cite no reason other than misrule, primitive incompetence and vanity, paranoia and corruption at the centre.

The Assad regime would tick, tick, tick all those boxes.

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August 11th, 2012, 4:56 pm


26. bronco said:


After 18 months, it is finally clear that this revolution was strictly about the poor loosing their safety and the rich collecting more Mercedes and telling the state to help the poor.

The Dardari economical program of free economy that made the rich richer and the poor poorer was a disaster.

It was said from day one.

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August 11th, 2012, 4:57 pm


27. ann said:

Armed men assassinate reporter of Syria’s official SANA news agency – 2012-08-12

DAMASCUS, Aug. 11 (Xinhua) — An armed group assassinated Saturday a Syrian journalist who worked for the state-run SANA news agency, the state TV said.

Ali Abbas was shot dead Saturday at his house in Damascus’ suburb of Jdaidet Artos, said the TV.

The assassination of Abbas is the latest in a string of assaults that have been targeting journalists and staffers of Syria’s official and pro-government media.

In mid-July, Mohammad Saeed, a news presenter in the state TV, was kidnapped from his house in Jdaidet Artos and later declared killed by an al-Qaida-linked group.

On Friday, four staffers of the pro-government al-Ekhbaria TV were kidnapped while covering unrest in the Damascus countryside of Tal Mneen.

Last week, a blast rocked the state TV headquarters in the capital Damascus, leaving injuries only.

Last month, a group of armed insurgents stormed the al-Ekhbaria TV headquarters in Drosha suburb near Damascus, leaving scenes of carnage and destruction.



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August 11th, 2012, 5:24 pm


28. ann said:

Syrians eye clashes in Aleppo as decisive in drawing next stage’s features – 2012-08-12

DAMASCUS, Aug. 11 (Xinhua) — Syrian people are monitoring latest developments across the unrest-torn country with skepticism, amid mounting conviction that fierce battles between armed insurgents and government troops in Aleppo would be decisive in drawing next stage’s features.

Last month, Syrian forces have succeeded in driving rebels out of the capital Damascus, and security measures have been reinforced around the capital to prevent the rebels from getting back in.

Following their failure to establish a firm foothold in Damascus, rebels have moved to the northern city of Aleppo, the second largest city in Syria and its economic hub, in order to create a foothold, only 40 kilometers away from the Turkish frontier. The rebels aim to take control of Aleppo, and if happened, they will control the flow of weapons, fighters and other support from Turkey, which hosts the leadership of the rebel Free Syrian Army.

However, the government launched, three weeks ago, a wide-scale military offensive against the rebels’ strongholds in Aleppo and reportedly “inflicted heavy losses upon them.” The government says it has regained control over some districts claimed by the rebels, who have run low on weapons.

The opposition activists, however, said the rebels are still fighting government forces and taking control of some districts in Aleppo and elsewhere.

Despite the gains the government claimed to have achieved in Aleppo, residents of Damascus keep close eye on the developments of the events, believing that Aleppo’s fate would determine the fate of the entire country.

“I have already packed my bags but I’m still waiting to see what will happen in Aleppo,” said Ahmed, a 45-year-old engineer.

He contended that chaos would be the title of the next stage had Aleppo fallen in the hands of rebels.

“They (the rebels) are scattered and most of them have nerve- wracking fundamental views that are incompatible with the way the Syrians have used to live,” he said.

The Syrians believe that the Libya scenario or other drastic changes that swept some Arab countries over the past two years, are not the optimal model for the Syrians to follow suit due to their failure to bring in the hoped-for change, and also because the different nature of Syria as a multi-confessional state that embraces a remarkable melange of beliefs and sects like no other Arab and Muslim states.

Observers in Syria believe that although the uprising in Libya, Tunisia and Egypt succeeded in toppling the regimes, they have so far stopped short of bringing in a radical change or meeting the peoples’ expectations of a better future.

Following the heavy losses in Aleppo, Syrian rebels appear to adopt hit-and-run guerrilla style attacks on military targets in Damascus and other Syrian cities.

Fears further stoked on Saturday when gunmen detonated an explosive device in the heart of Damascus, an area that is usually crowded at such time.

“We freaked out when we heard the blast… We were so happy when we felt safety has come back to Damascus following last month ‘s clashes,” said Mona Awad, 29, a mother of two kids. “Those who did it just want to spread anarchy, fear and anxiety in Syria.”

Mona was on her way to al-Hamidya market to buy clothes for her kids when the explosive device planted under a tree at al-Marja area in Damascus went off.

“Look at my kids… they are trembling of fear,” she said.

The Syrian media said the authorities have arrested the bombers after tracking them down, while Qatari and Saudi-funded TVs were quick to splash red news bars saying the clashes have overwhelmed many districts in the capital.

The rebels have recently resorted to hit-and-run tactics reportedly to alleviate the government offensive on Aleppo and to confuse the Syrian forces.

Their attacks have focused on some of Damascus’ suburbs without abandoning their goal of reaching the capital, which they said would be their final and decisive battlefield.

Residents of Damascus, feeling the heat of attacks and shelling that targeted some areas in the capital, don’t look much enthusiastic to the rebels, in part because large groups of the rebels seem to be motivated by an extremist ideology.

Some rebel fighters have even announced lately that they have united under the banner of the Salafism – a term often used to describe fundamentalist Islamic thought.

World media outlets have lately highlighted the religious approach espoused by most of Syria’s rebels, a matter that has raised the concerns of Syria’s Sunni-majority moderate residents and those of other minorities.



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August 11th, 2012, 5:30 pm


29. Syrialover said:

It’s deeply and alarmingly informative to re-read his post from 6 years ago that Ehsani has linked above.

In fact, this hits you over and over when re-reading any part of SyriaComment over the past 7 or so years.

Its straight chronicling of events and accompanying commentary is a rich goldmine, bursting with hidden alerts and clear and profound explanations and insights into what is unfolding now.

It’s mesmerizing reading, as I’ve recntly remarked on this forum more than once.

It shows the unbelievable amnesia of most now out there self-importantly pronouncing on Syria and the Arab world – or worse, exposes how little they have ever bothered to know.

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August 11th, 2012, 5:32 pm


30. Jasmine said:

SL@ 25
Morally the arm sellers hold equal responsibility with the buyers when knowingly the arms are going to be used for unjustified offense,they are both abusing the human right and values.
In the Syrian case,arms were used to deter numerous attempt of invasion by Israel.
your answer has some truth in it but it is part of a bigger reasons which I have already explained earlier.

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August 11th, 2012, 5:34 pm


31. ann said:

Is Iran turning up the temperature in Afghanistan?

Six U.S. soldiers killed in 24 hours in Afghanistan – 3 hrs ago


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August 11th, 2012, 5:42 pm


32. Johannes de Silentio said:


Even Bashar saw the impending crisis. Once he asked a visiting American diplomat, “Where am I going to find jobs for all the young Syrians?”

Well Bashar, there’s always the Army. Put ’em in the Army!

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August 11th, 2012, 5:47 pm


33. Syrialover said:

Another thing Ehsahi has always pointed out is the significant absence of real data on Syria’s social and economic indicators.

Stuff the Assads and their collaborators had no interest in collecting or use for in their style of economic “management”.

I keep re-reading Ehsahni’s brilliant description above:

“They highlight their latest cell phones, home and office Internet connections as well as their brand new cars as irrefutable signs of the economic and social advances that the country has been experiencing as of late. Seen from their prism, the Syrian economy seems prosperous judging by the superb outdoor dinners, number of servants, lovely homes, fancy cars, latest cell phones, rising land values, and monopolistic businesses.”

Yeah, as well as those grandiose military and nuclear weaponry schemes.

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August 11th, 2012, 5:49 pm


34. Johannes de Silentio said:



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August 11th, 2012, 5:51 pm


35. ann said:

Who will stand up for this poor little girl?!

Syrian hurdler disqualified for doping! – August 12, 2012

A FEMALE Syrian hurdler has been kicked out of the London Olympics for doping, the International Olympic Committee says.

The IOC this morning said 400m hurdler Ghfran Almouhamad tested positive for the banned stimulant methylhexaneamine on August 3.

The backup “B” sample confirmed the positive finding, it said.

The 23-year-old athlete finished eighth and last in her first-round heat on August 5.

The IOC said she has been disqualified and stripped of her Olympic accreditation.



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August 11th, 2012, 5:51 pm


36. omen said:

from april 19th, earlier on this blog:

who has the long history of robbery?

The oppositionmilitias in the Idlib region are fight among themselves.
i must confess that this report seemed possible to me as I have reliable reports from friends and relatives who travel through the Idlib region being robbed. Two different co-workers of my brother-in-law stopped by gangs on the Aleppo-Idlib road. Both were Sunnis. They were beaten and robbed. None of them take the highway anymore or travel between the two cities because the roads are considered unsafe.


by ammar abdulhamid

The three
victims of yesterday’s execution, as reported by local activists, were high ranking members of the Berri Clan, including its leader Zeino Berri. The Clan is Sunni and is known for its involvement in drug-trafficking and gun-running, among other illicit activities. The Clan is known as well for its affiliation with Maher Al-Assad and, before him, with his late brother, Bassil. This connection has served to guarantee Berri elders at least one spot in the parliament, and has allowed them to make a mockery out of the legal system in Syria for decades.
Early in the revolution, members of the Berri Clan went to Damascus where they met Bashar Al-Assad and pledged their loyalty. Almost every member of the delegation had at least one sentence of one type or another hanging over his head. That didn’t seem to bother Assad who is said to have given a carte blanche to the Berris in Aleppo. On their return, the Berri Clan became more vicious than ever and served as the de facto pro-Assad militia in the city, spreading terror by jailing, torturing and killing activists, as well as extorting local businessmen and merchants. By the time the rebels entered Aleppo City and clashed with the Berris, the level of popular animosity against the Clan was simply too high.

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August 11th, 2012, 6:00 pm


37. Johannes de Silentio said:

Thank you!

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August 11th, 2012, 6:02 pm


38. omen said:

ehsani, is there someone who can clear the spam filter, por favor? half the board has been caught in the net.


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August 11th, 2012, 6:06 pm


39. ann said:

Here’s another Syria Comment blow from the past!

It’s Wednesday, July 25th, 2007

“To Check Syria, U.S. Explores Bond With Muslim Brothers,” by Jay Solomon – The Wall Street Journal


Fabricating a Revolution!

Must read!

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August 11th, 2012, 6:08 pm


40. ann said:

Prof. Landis, I have a post locked in SPAM. Help!

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August 11th, 2012, 6:10 pm


41. Syrialover said:


The military expenditure is not even used for “unjustified defense”. The only real enemy of those governments is the people they are supposedly “ruling”.

As we are now seeing vividly illustrated in Syria.

A legitimate government in Syria would not have been bothering with the primitive war dance and cheap propaganda fest about Israel the Assad regime has fuelled itself with.

It would have been smart enough to protect Syria diplomatically, not endangering and restricting it with stupid alliances.

And you think all that stuff the Assads were doing in Lebanon all those years was all about an anti-Israeli defence?

No way. Reading back over SyriaComment is one quick (but not only) way to see the real picture unfold and crystallize.

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August 11th, 2012, 6:13 pm


42. Syrialover said:

If certain posters weren’t cut-pasting and loading so much junk onto this forum it would be infinitely easier to manage.

If the endless long cutpastes by “Ann” for example were filtered out the logjam would probably become unclogged.

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August 11th, 2012, 6:19 pm


43. Norman said:


With people who work in government making about 10000.00 SP it is not enough to live on, I saw a VAT tax which from my understanding hits the poor, the rates are 22% income tax, 28% corporate tax and 10% VAT , they should have the income tax to start after the first 10000.00 SP and cancel VAT Tax on food and clothes and school supplies, have some kind of real estate tax so people will invest their money instead of parking that money in real estate waiting for the prices to go up and if they want to put money in real estate they will try to rent to others so they can pay for the real estate taxes and in the same time share in solving the housing crises that Syria has.

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August 11th, 2012, 6:26 pm


44. ghufran said:

قامت مجموعة مسلحة باغتيال الصحفي علي عباس رئيس دائرة الأخبار الداخلية في الوكالة العربية السورية للأنباء “سانا”.
وقامت المجموعة المسلحة بعملية الإغتيال في مكان إقامة عباس، حيث أقتحمت منزله الواقع في جديدة عرطوز بريف دمشق.

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August 11th, 2012, 6:26 pm


45. ghufran said:

قال مصدر داخل مطار النيرب العسكري بحلب إن وحدات من الفوج 44 في الجيش السوري وصلت مع أولى ساعات صباح اليوم السبت إلى المدينة جوّاً
ويتوقع أن يكون دور الوحدات التي وصلت إلى المطار هو لمحاولة تطويق مجموعات الجيش الحر من الجهة الشرقية للمدينة حيث ماتزال الوحدات التي وصلت سابقاً لحلب تتمركز في منطقة الحمدانية والراموسة حيث تقع المدرسة الفنية الجوية ومدرسة المدفعية، وقامت خلال يومين باشتباكات عنيفة أجبرت عناصر الجيش الحر على الانسحاب من حي صلاح الدين المتاخم لأوتستراد الحمدانية، والانسحاب إلى “المشهد، والسكري” جنوب المدينة.
وقلل مصدر عسكري من احتمال تلك الفرضية حيث أكد أن تلك التعزيزات التي وصلت للمطار هي فقط لحمايته مع مطار النيرب العسكري والذي يحاول المسلحون يومياً استهدافه والسيطرة عليه.
يشار إلى أن المناطق الشرقية والتي تشمل الصالحين، المرجة، الشعار،الميسر، طريق الباب، مسكن هنانو، الصاخور، ما تزال حتى اللحظة تحت القصف المروحي والحربي

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August 11th, 2012, 6:31 pm


46. Syrialover said:

I see “Ann” is now suddenly posting something from early SyriaComment.

Hmm. Not smart. I think once again we’re glimpsing the team at work behind that pseudonym.

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August 11th, 2012, 6:45 pm


47. Tara said:

A no fly zone in Syria will terrify Batta to the bones and will sure make him flee.  He can subdue the revolution with air power, but if air power is neutralized,  he sure knows that they, the rebels, are going to corm for him.  He is too coward to fight then.  He will just escape to Tehran.  

U.S., Turkey to study Syria no-fly zone
By Hadeel Al Shalchi | Reuters – 1 hr 44 mins ago


ALEPPO, Syria (Reuters) – The United States and Turkey indicated they were studying a range of possible measures over Syria, including a no-fly zone, as battles between rebels and President Bashar al-Assad’s forces shook Aleppo and the heart of Damascus.
U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said after meeting her Turkish counterpart Ahmet Davutoglu in Istanbul on Saturday that Washington and Ankara should develop detailed operational planning on ways to assist the rebels fighting to topple Assad.
“Our intelligence services, our military have very important responsibilities and roles to play so we are going to be setting up a working group to do exactly that,” she said.
Asked about options such as imposing a no-fly zone over rebel-held territory, Clinton said these were possibilities she and Davutoglu had agreed “need greater in-depth analysis”, while indicating that no decisions were necessarily imminent.
“It is one thing to talk about all kinds of potential actions, but you cannot make reasoned decisions without doing intense analysis and operational planning,” she said.
Though any intervention appears to be a distant prospect, her remarks were nevertheless the closest Washington has come to suggesting direct military action in Syria.

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August 11th, 2012, 6:57 pm


48. erin said:

If the USA has people protesting against the government, killing civilians, importing drug cartel gangs to kill american people and the FBI, police and Army try to protect the civilian population. Russia starts meddling in the internal affairs of the USA.
Would the USA government allows the Russian to have their say and participate in the destruction of the USA!!!
is it fair that a country like the USA has poverty, homelessness, welfare people with all the natural resources, wealth available in the country.
does that mean democracy doesn’t eliminate the poverty issue?
or it means corruption can coexist with democracy.
the large banks and other large companies are equally responsible for the USA social problem as much as the thugs of the Syrian regime for a country its budget equals to a small american city.
The USA is interfering in the Syrian policy for a CENTURY, since the ottoman empire collapse ( read the reason why the USA has the biggest embassy and best location of all the foreign embassies in Damascus)
Bashar was serving the need of the USA and now the policy has changed and time for him to go, he would have been much smarter if left and stepped down but the result is not different than now that Syria has a plan written for its future with what fit the need of Israel.
There is no doubt about that, I have talked about the corruption of the regime ( no difference than other regional regimes) and the future for Syria is a grim one regardless because the direction this guagmire, dividing Syria into small pieces would serve only the goal of Israel which was talked about in the last few decades.
Syria is a country and should not be divided, it is clear that the middle east heading toward dividing every country neighboring Israel.

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August 11th, 2012, 7:00 pm


49. Erin said:

SC moderator!
I am not sure why my comments are always moderated.

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August 11th, 2012, 7:01 pm


50. SYR.EXPAT said:

I have noticed that some minhibak outlets have been mum about the Samaha case. There worst fear is the alleged presence of video evidence. It’s going to be very hard to spin that because he was held in so much reverence by Assad supporters.

What’s more interesting is the brilliant commentary and analysis by the supporters of this murderous regime. One such commentator suggests that “Indeed someone posing as Ali Mamlouk or Adnan convinced Samaha to transport explosives in Lebanon.” It’s like telling you that someone posing as your best friend fooled you! Somehow, a alien from outer space managed to appear in the form of Mamluk, invited Samaha to Mamluk’s office in Damascus, and handed him the explosives (according to the leaked information) without Samaha or the Syrian security thugs noticing anything wrong.

Yes indeed, Samaha was fooled by someone posing as his good friend Mamluk!

Anyway, for now at least, we’ll accept that Samaha, the ardent Assad supporter, was fooled by a Mamluk look-alike and was engaging in terrorism on behalf of the Syrian government as he was made to believe. That alone speaks volumes about the nature of the Assad supporters.

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August 11th, 2012, 7:12 pm


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