Ammar Abdulhamid, a leading Activist, and Joshua Landis Discuss the Syrian Uprising

Ammar Abdulhamid and Joshua Landis Discuss the Syrian Uprising
20 April 2011

Comments (91)

Majhool said:

Great to see these two guys talking

April 20th, 2011, 1:48 pm


jo6pac said:

Thanks, I’ll be back to watch the rest of it.

April 20th, 2011, 2:21 pm


Mina said:

Sorry Ammar, you are a little bit naive by tryig to explain that sectarianism is not an issue, the MB are not an issue, things won’t go as in Iraq. You say: the regime has been manipulating the people into sectarianism, this is their line, though you admit that there are corrupt elites from all grounds: Alawites, Sunnites, Christian and Druzes. My first point is corruption is a world problem. Then you say, but now in the demonstrations, it really starts (… that says a lot) to be that the youth, alltogether, doesn’t wan’t to fall in the sectarian trap, and we see in the demos sunnis, christians, druzes etc. I see in these demos that people need to reconnect together and to communicate. Which is a great thing but does not have necessarily to be against something (such as, let’s make the regime fall and maybe we’ll fail all the Arab revolutions together instead of letting the early ones have a chance to success…). Your problems are no different that the Jordanians’ problems and the Iraqi’s problems (who started demonstrating mid-december, if I recall). There is a world economic crisis and currencies are falling following some domino effect. If some financial players are behind this crisis it is the whole world that needs to give to the workers their money back by taxing the capital and the transactions made at the stock-exchange. It is almost amazing that the so-called ‘activists’ have not read Chomsky, Naomi Klein, and seem to live in a national bubble disconnected from any global economic reality.

To come back to sectarianism. Didn’t you know that it’s after victory that problems start, with the fight for power? Do you think everybody is as young and politically naive as you are? Why don’t you try to learn from what is going on in Egypt, Tunisia, and Libya? Why don’t you go to Tunis and take a course in writing a constitution? They are doing one now who should really be considered a third way for the whole world (with parity between men and women in the political lists presented to elections; that’s just one issue among others). Have Lebanon solved confessionalism? So why should you solve it without going to Lebanon and discussing with the people who were demonstrating asking for the end of confessional parties? Politics means the understanding and the conception of a common interest. We are all on the same planet. A movement localized to Syria only has no chance to deliver anything concrete that will not be reversed by some external interests, no matter where they may come from.

April 20th, 2011, 2:30 pm


Mina said:

I love that one: “Q: who are going to be the leaders?”
“A: The leaders are going to be the people who are going to organize the coming demonstrations and to emerge (approx.)”
at the 4′

He read that in Harry Potter at the Socialists Workers Party ?

April 20th, 2011, 3:03 pm


Mina said:

Same as on Twitter: they’ll get back the Golan and keep a good relation with Iran (even if they crush on their protesters and continue to hang them on a daily basis?), but they don’t mention what will be their position towards Saudi Arabia.

Ammar dreams himself as a politician, explains his great plans as if he is planning a board-game. But nowhere does he explain us how people are going to eat during the “long process” (as he admits himself) he is describing.

A suggestion: reach to the farmers and start to stock grains for next year, and come back next year with some realistic ideas.

April 20th, 2011, 3:14 pm


why-discuss said:

Ammar Abdulhamid talks about ‘reconciliation’ a la Mandela but who is the Syrian Mandela? and ‘no revenge’, he expects that the army will ‘hopefully’ adhere to the revolution and turn their back to their previous leaders.
He talks like this is going happen in a click of the finger, the transitional period will be short…then after everything will be slow but great. It sound like Syria will become Brigadoon

“We are not naive…” Really?

April 20th, 2011, 3:18 pm


Qifa Nabki said:

Great dialogue. However, one thing Ammar said struck me as somewhat incoherent: he argues that Syria is “exceptional” and won’t fall into the trap of sectarianism, on what basis exactly? (1) The regime tells us that we’re exceptional; (2) We are a country of minorities.

News flash: Lebanon is even more a country of minorities than Syria, and that didn’t prevent a sectarian civil war.

This is not to agree or disagree with the broader point about the sectarian fallout of the revolution, but simply to point out the half-baked quality of Ammar’s argument on this issue.

April 20th, 2011, 3:52 pm


norman said:

I agree my friend, any violent transfer of power is going to lead to sectarian violence and war, Ammar knows that and that is why he is trying hard to say that it will be different , (( IT WIL BE NOT)), civil war is at the door, The only chance is for the Baath party and the regime is to offer passage to free multiparty elections while the army maintaining civil order and preventing ethnic and religious war.

What i fear is that the opposition goal has changed to getting rid of the regime not free election to See who can win,

April 20th, 2011, 3:59 pm


why-discuss said:


“What i fear is that the opposition goal has changed to getting rid of the regime”

It did. Just read the blog of Ammar Abdulhamid dated 19 april 2011:

“We are now officially in Phase II of the Syrian Revolution, a phase marked by daily protests and straight out calls for the removal of Bashar Al-Assad. The upcoming repeal of emergency laws is way too little way too late. After all, the real problem is not confined to the law, it’s in the people making up the ruling junta, including Bashar and his family, the heads of the security apparatuses, and their clients and proxies in the Baath party, other loyal political movements and the society at large. So long as these people continue to be responsible for decision-making, and so long as free media remains chimera and the judiciary and legislative systems lack independence nothing will ever change in Syria.
That is in short why this revolution is changing the regime and ousting the Assads, and not just repealing laws and asking for reforms. The system is simply rotten to the core.

April 20th, 2011, 4:08 pm


Shami said:

for those who complained the lack of women presence in the demonstrations :

April 20th, 2011, 5:00 pm


why-discuss said:

“Moubayed said he believed a law allowing multi-party politics in Syria for the first time under Baath Party rule would come into force ahead of this year’s parliamentary elections, due to be held in May but likely to be postponed until September. But he cautioned over-expectations of dramatic change.

“The Party’s Law will make no real difference until 2015. No party this year will have time to mount a real challenge to the Baath Party, which has some 1.5 million members,” he said.”

So the Baath party has 1.5 million members, how much have the opposition gathered, thousands…? This is why they are looking for the total collapse of party (and the country with it) to start from scratch: The Iraqi way (without the americans)

April 20th, 2011, 5:25 pm


Amir in Tel Aviv said:

That was a brilliant conversation. I watched the whole thing and enjoyed watching.

Now, what the “revolution” or the “opposition” should be doing, is assembling some kind of a leading council – a body that will manage and decide on future activities. They should present to the Syrians a real alternative. Talking nice is not enough.
The Devil is in the details. The future of this “revolution” is about, how this is planed, managed and led.


“…The only chance is for the Baath party and the regime is to offer passage to free multi-party elections while the army maintaining civil order and preventing ethnic and religious war”.

Theoretically, that would be the best way ahead. But are they going to voluntarily agree to lose power? I doubt it.

April 20th, 2011, 5:33 pm


Ali Ismael said:

Dear blog admins,

I regret to share with you that many of my friends whom I referred to in the past, wrote and called me today, all to tell me that they are infuriated about the low level has stooped to!!

They all expressed to me that their original idea of was a “think-tank-like” blog which is an incubator of positive ideas and solutions for problems, and now it has just become a “trash dumpster” for Syrian regime haters, to put it as one of them described!!!! Believe me, four of my friends called me by telephone today to tell me that they will not read/contribute to this blog again!! This is so sad and counter productive!!!, like the Syrian regime opposition, is losing the people on the ground, in Syria I mean, just to gain a fistful of bigoted sectarian regime haters, who want nothing other than doom and gloom – harbingers of evil and destruction out of hate, and only hate.

I, too, will not read the blog anymore!!

April 20th, 2011, 5:45 pm


jad said:

I never trust any man with a ponytail!

April 20th, 2011, 6:26 pm


Nour said:


That really made me laugh 😀

April 20th, 2011, 6:31 pm


majedkhaldoon said:

This was very nice presentation, thank you Joshua.

I do think that the next two weeks are going to be very important,and something serious will happen,it may not be the end of the regime,but very important.
The most important question is how this crisis will end?there are many senarios,Hama ,Libya, Yemen way,but I think there is one possibilty,this one depends on the Alawite,Are they going to unite against Sunni and decide for all out war,or do they think that they can go back to the mountain and form their own state,both possibilties are not wise, or they may split and turn against Assad and his family,and decide to relinquish power,but live in peace with the sunni?This means there will be killing of some members of Assad family,then BashR Asad gives up and just leave.
Because the revolt is all over Syria,and many died,I do think that we reach a point of no return to the old situation.

April 20th, 2011, 6:36 pm


Sophia said:

The guy is articulate. But his discourse does not match the reality of the Syrian uprising as it is today on the ground.

Below are some quotes and comments from him that got my attention specifically.

1. ”Every community should be able to stand up to its own fanatics” (around minute 21).
Very problematic. it takes time and education to achieve this and it is in contradiction with what he says about intellectuals building the alternative to the brotherhood and the regime (point 4). It is also in contradiction with the plan to rebuild the military in Phase 2, after the elections (point 7). So how a transition can be achieved peacefully when you make communities responsible for their fanatics and when you want to build security through the military and the security later on?

2. The new opposition is a third way between the regime and the brotherhood (around minute 27). Again I am not seeing this on the ground, he may be talking here about a fiction.

3. The regime has manipulated Islamist movements for its own purpose??? (minute 29). An outright lie.

4. Syrian intellectuals have to be credited of facilitating this third way which is secular (around minute 53). Yes, absolutely, but this way is waiting to be.

5. The revolution is waiting for the military to come along (around minute 42). It may happen but it will take a long long time…

6. The color revolutions have succeeded because they were inclusive??? (around minute 43).

7. The army and the security get constituted in the second phase after the fall of the regime, but elections before???? (around minute 44)

8. Golan back but no war with Israel. 12000 druzes and 4 villages dismissed. Let’s do business with Israel.

No visible emotions on his face during the whole interview but the only time his eyes get animated was around the question about Iran and Israel (around minute 46). No comment on this because I cannot read his mind but one explanation could be his personal ideological commitment to this as all people in Arab countries who identify with the west, they usually don’t want to embrace the what has been a classical Arab cause (Palestine and occupied Arab land by Israel). Or his opinion on this is determined by his sponsorship and he doesn’t want to lose his financing. it could also be both.

April 20th, 2011, 6:43 pm


Shami said:

A reminder,

Such regime has a long past of dirty cards playing ,it’s enough Syria can not remain hostage of mukhabarati plots and such secretive policies.
Syria will gain back its place as a liberal nation .

April 20th, 2011, 7:30 pm


Nour said:

النظام في دمشق: التمسّك بالإصلاح و«المؤامرة»

خلال ساعات، يُصدر الرئيس السوري مرسوم رفع حالة الطوارئ. هذا ما يعد به النظام في دمشق، مؤكداً أن الإصلاح سيكون أوسع مما أُعلن. وإلى جانب الاعتراف بعدد من مطالب المحتجين، يستمر مَن بيدهم الأمر في الحديث عن مؤامرة تجري مواجهتها
حسن عليق

للمرّة الأولى منذ بدء التظاهرات في سوريا، بدأت نبرة صوت أهل النظام تعود إلى ما يشبه طبيعتها. لم يطمئنّوا تماماً بعد، لكنّهم يرون أن المرحلة الأكثر حساسية تمّ تخطّيها. فحتّى اليوم، «لم تشهد المدينتان الرئيسيتان في البلاد، دمشق وحلب، أي تحرك معاد للنظام. وفي المدينتين ثمة اقتناع لدى البنى التقليدية الواسعة النفوذ بأنّ أولوية الحفاظ على الأمن والاستقرار في البلاد تتقدّم على ما عداها»، على ذمة المقرّبين من دوائر القرار في دمشق. أضف إلى ذلك أن المؤسسات العسكرية والأمنية والدبلوماسية والمدنية بقيت متماسكة إلى جانب قيادتها.
وفي رأي المصادر ذاتها، فإن ما سيرفع من نسبة الطمأنينة هو كون «عجلة الإصلاحات قد دارت، وهي لن تتوقف، وستكون أعمق ممّا أُعلن، سواء سياسياً أو إدارياً واقتصادياً». فخلال الساعات المقبلة، سيوقّع الرئيس السوري بشار الأسد مرسوم رفع حالة الطوارئ، ما سيعني إطلاق عدد كبير من الموقوفين. أما قانون الطوارئ نفسه، فسيحال على مجلس الشعب. والأمر لن يقتصر على هذا الجانب المعطوف على قانوني الإعلام والأحزاب. فبحسب المصادر المقرّبة من النظام، تحمل الحكومة الجديدة «مشروع مكافحة الفساد، وهي، خلال الأشهر المقبلة، ستقيل مئات الموظفين الكبار في الإدارة العامة، علماً بأن هذه الحكومة لن تكون سوى حكومة انتقالية، تمهيداً لحكومة ثانية تكون مؤهّلة لاستيعاب التغييرات التي ستشهدها بنية النظام، وخاصة لناحية توسيع أطر المشاركة».
وفي الجانب الاقتصادي، تؤكد المصادر ذاتها اتّخاذ قرار «على أعلى المستويات بإبعاد عدد من الشخصيات المقرّبة من النظام، التي تفوح منها رائحة الفساد واستغلال السلطة. وهذا القرار بدأ تنفيذه عبر عدد من الإجراءات التي ستظهر نتائجها تباعاً».
أضف إلى ذلك، فإن التغييرات الجدية سيشهدها المستوى السياسي، سواء في دوائر الدولة أو في حزب البعث، وتحديداً «أولئك الذين تبيّن أن علاقاتهم بالمناطق التي ولدوا فيها لا تتخطّى سور القصر الذي يملكه كلّ منهم في قريته أو مدينته». وبالنسبة إلى المادة الثامنة من الدستور، التي تعطي الحزب الحاكم منذ عام 1963 صفة «القائد في المجتمع والدولة»، فقد بدأ البحث جدياً في سبل الخروج من منطقها، «وسيُتّخذ قرار على هذا الصعيد، لكن ليس ضمن الرزمة الأولى من القرارات، وبالتأكيد لن يكون ذلك تحت الضغط».
هذا على مستوى الوعود التي يجزم المقرّبون من القيادة السورية بأنها ستنفّذ. أما ميدانياً، فإن قانون تنظيم التظاهر المزمع إصداره «سيُطبّق بحذافيره»، يقول أحد المقرّبين من النظام بلهجة هي أقرب إلى التهديد. وقبل ذلك، اتُّخذ قرار يُفصَح عن مضمونه بالقول «إن الاستقرار الأمني خطّ أحمر»، وشرحه أن «من يستخدم السلاح في الداخل السوري سيجري التعامل معه بقسوة غير مسبوقة». فما جرى خلال الأسابيع الماضية، تضيف المصادر ذاتها، «كشف تفاصيل المؤامرة التي تستهدف تفتيت سوريا، تعويضاً عن سقوط نظام كامب ديفيد في مصر»، على حدّ قول أحد المقرّبين من صنّاع القرار في عاصمة الأمويين. وخلال اللقاء الذي عقده وزير الخارجية وليد المعلم مع السفراء العرب، بداية الأسبوع الجاري، «تحدّث عن معطيات جمعتها الأجهزة السورية، تكشف عن تورّط عدد من الأنظمة العربية في التحريض المذهبي داخل سوريا، وخاصة في منطقة الساحل السوري، وتحديداً في منطقة اللاذقية. وهدّد المعلم الدول المتورّطة بكشف هذه الأعمال أمام الإعلام»، يؤكد مصدر مطّلع على ما يدور في أروقة صناعة القرار السورية، مشيراً إلى أن لقاءً سيعقده المعلم قريباً جداً مع السفراء الأجانب لإطلاعهم على وجهة نظر النظام في الأحداث الجارية. وفي السياق ذاته، بدا لافتاً، على حدّ قول مصادر مقرّبة من النظام في دمشق، تعاون السلطات الأردنية مع نظيرتها السورية على معالجة عدد من القضايا الأمنية التي ظهر منذ بداية التظاهرات أنها «تُثار من داخل الأراضي الأردنية». وبدأ هذا التعاون بعد أن بعثت دمشق برسائل «واضحة» إلى عمّان تحمل في طيّاتها أدلة على ما يوصف في الشام بـ«التورّط في المؤامرة». وأتى الردّ الأردني بعد أيّام «جازماً بأن ما يجري يحصل من دون علم القيادة التي ستتّخذ كل التدابير الممكنة لوقفه».
كل ذلك لا يعني برأي القريبين من دوائر القرار أن استقرار البلاد سيعود قريباً إلى سابق عهده. ويُنقل عن بعض من يتّصفون بـ«طول النفَس» في العاصمة السورية قولهم إن ما ظهر في الأسابيع الماضية «يحتاج إلى بعض الوقت لعلاجه».

April 20th, 2011, 7:56 pm


jad said:

«غالبية صامتة» في سوريا… ماذا تقول وما هي مطالبها؟

في جامعة دمشق («السفير»)

لوحة رخامية في حي باب شرقي لأبيات شعرية قيلت في دمشق («السفير»)
غدي فرنسيس
دمشق :
بين شارع التملق للنظام وتخوين كل هاتف باسم الحرية، وشارع التعطش المطلق للثورة كيفما جاء شكلها وحسبما أتت مفاعيلها، هناك شريحة كبرى لم تحسم موقعها، وقد تكون الاكثر عقلانية، والأقل عاطفية في سوريا.
لم تتكلم هذه الغالبية بعد، وذلك لأسباب كثيرة، أبسطها ان لا احد يسمعها في الضوضاء وفي احتقان ولَّّد لوائح شرف وعار تصنّف الناس نسبة لآرائهم. وأعقدها أن آلية العمل السياسي الجماعي الذي اخترعها العقل البشري تنعدم في بلدٍ يحكمه حزب واحد إلا إذا كان كما حال الغرب، تتناوب الأحزاب وتتنافس على السلطة، وهذا ما يسمى بحلم اليقظة في حالة سوريا. فإذا عبّرت الأحزاب المتوافرة في دمشق، تعبّر عن النظام الذي سمح لها بالتواجد كما تعبّر بما يتعارض مع مفاهيمها كأحزاب تغييرية وبالتالي مع قواعدها الشعبية الحقيقية.
تتمدد هذه «الأغلبية الصامتة» في مختلف المناطق والشرائح الاجتماعية. من كلية الهندسة في جامعة دمشق إلى دوائر المثقفين الراقدين على ضفاف الماركسية والقومية السورية والقومية العربية، إلى نوادي الليل الشبابية، إلى أسواق دمشق القديمة وتجارها. وهي تتسع ايضا لتشمل الفلسطيني الذي لم ينخرط في حزب البعث لكنه شاكر الجميل لنظام منحه الشعور بالمواطنة من حيث حق التملك والعمل والتعلم وبالتالي حق العيش بعد أن سلبت ارضه، من دون عنصرية اجتماعية. تكبر دائرة هذه «الغالبية» أكثر لتضم المفكرين والناشطين الذين يصرخون مقالات وتصريحات تدعو للتغيير ولكف العنف كما تدعو المتظاهرين للهدوء، فيما يستمرون بالتظاهر. هذه الغالبية هي بمثابة «شبكة الأمان» التي تستطيع ان تقود التغيير مهما كان شكل انطلاقته إلى النهاية السعيدة المرجوة بما يضمن أمن البلاد ووحدتها، كما يضمن استمرار «لاءات» الثورة حتى تتخذ الدولة شكلاً سليماً.
جامعة دمشق مصغّر عن سوريا
يقف فرع جامعة دمشق لحزب البعث في تجمع البرامكي حيث كلية الحقوق والهندسة والعلوم والاقتصاد والشريعة والسياحة. صرح كبير بحجم نصف كلّية تقريباً، على يسار كلية العلوم حيث علا هتاف «حرية» صغير الأسبوع الماضي فارتفع قبالته هتاف تأييد وتخوين. من لم يبال بالهتافين، ربما اكتفى بالجلوس في الكافتيريا حيث تعلّق إجمالاً صورة الأسد الأب على حائط والإبن على حائط آخر. من لم يصرخ ليس بالضرورة صامتا، لكن «أحداً لا يسمعه» تحت «الضوضاء».
حسن حميدوش أحد اولئك الصامتين. تلميذ سنة خامسة في كلية الهندسة يقتبس محمود درويش: «اكتب صمتي». فلا تقنعه «الثورة»، تماما مثلما لا يشبهه التملّق السائد وحملات التخوين ولا تعبر عنه تظاهرات التأييد وشكلها. حين سقط شهداء درعا وخرجت تظاهرة التأييد كان يسأل: ما المانع ان تهتفوا بالروح بالدم نفديك يا درعا مع هتاف فداء بشار؟ ثم انكفأ، ثم سكت، واليوم يجد نفسه ميّالا إلى البحث عن إمكانية الحل الذي وعد به الرئيس لكنه يعارض آلية التواصل مع المعارضة.
من حديقة كليّته يسأل «لم الاستماع إلى من يملك القواعد الشعبية فقط؟ لم لا يعطى المفكرون المعارضون مكاناً لإيجاد الحل؟ ثم يعدد الأسماء التالية بسرعة المطّلع: ميشيل كيلو انتقد شكل التواجد السوري في لبنان والخسارة اللبنانية وكان معارضاً مقنعاً. هيثم منّاع يتحدث باسم اللجنة العربية لحقوق الإنسان من منفاه. العام 2003 إبان غزو العراق اعلن انه يفضل الموت على الدخول فوق دبابة اميركية. برهان غليون، دكتور الاستشراق في السوربون والطيّب تيزيني مفكّر أكاديمي… أنا اريد ان أعرف دولة يصلحها هؤلاء وامثالهم، لا شيوخ العشائر والقبائل والطوائف.
كل القصة صورتين
تحت صورتي الكافتيريا حيث تنشغل طالبة شقراء، بهوايتها كبصارة في القهوة مع زميلتها، وتنقسم المحجّبات بفرز مذهبي فاقع مؤلم، تكاد لا تسمع نفسك إذ تتكلم. طاولة تصف المؤامرة وتفصّلها، وطاولة تبحث في الحل. وقربهم على مسافة جانبية، تجلس فلسطين. لا تجيب عند السؤال، تعبر عن التباسها الدائم بظل نكبتها. «هي القضية الوحيدة في حياتي» يقولها مناف معجل فيختصر السؤال. لا يريد أن يحكم ويحكي فهو «ضيف لا دخل له». ورغم ذلك ينعطف قائلاً: بالنسبة لي كفلسطيني، النظام أعطاني حقوقاً لم تمنحني مثلها دول العرب. في التصنيف نقول: حوراني، حلبي، فلسطيني… ولا نفرّق! هويتي مثل هوية حسن بفارق واحد من حيث الشكل، فعلى بطاقتي صورة القدس بينما بطاقة السوري عليها صورة الجامع الأموي…
وإذا بحثت عن «الفلسطيني» في دمشق تجده في دكتور جامعي وطالب هندسة وطب وصيدلي وقومي سوري أو قومي عربي أو ماركسي أو فتحاوي أو حماسي أو أي شيء آخر، باستثناء موظف الدولة.
يضحك سائق السيارة العمومي راجياً أن تنتهي الازمة لأنه يعيش مع قلق دائم. لأنه لا يجد سبيلاً معبّداً إلى قريته في صفد. ولأن بيته في مخيم اليرموك ليس جنة عدن. أما سمير عيسى، الخمسيني، فيعدد أسماء الصحافيين الفلسطينيين في بيروت، ويدرك مساوئ نظامه ويعددها ثم يصلي لصموده بأي ثمن: حتى لو كان تغييراً جذرياً عميقاً ولكن ليبقى هناك من صمود، ليكن تغييراً على يد هذا الرئيس، فانا لا أملك من اثق به أكثر بين الحكام العرب.
المثقف العلماني:
الكاتب والجرّاح
من يطلق على نفسه تسمية «شغّيل ثقافة» يجلس في قمقم إبداعه ويمتنع. نجيب نصير لا يعجبه شيء. لا شكل الثورة ولا شكل الحكم يعبر عنه. «فصام» هي الحال: في حزبه وفي وطنه كما في شخصيته المجنونة الخمسينية وبرّاده الذي يحوي شايا وفودكا في مكتب صارخ باللوحات وصور أعمال مسرحية ومسلسلات درامية وكتب ومكتبات صغيرة مفتعلة من أرجائه. لكاتب السيناريو ومدير تحرير فكر، انفصامه المعبّر:
«كنت في العمل السري منذ العام 1977، عشت معارضاً، كنت بين الموقعين على «بيان 99» الذي رفعناه من مقاهي دمشق حين تسلم الرئيس الحكم وطالبنا برفع الطوارئ وتعديل الدستور. كنا اثنين فقط من القوميين السوريين: ادونيس وانا، حينها وصفنا عبد الحليم خدام بعملاء السفارات الخونة. اليوم ظهر الخائن، واين عبد الحليم خدام اليوم، واين مطالبنا؟
يصيبنا الفصام، فصام أن ترى الاستفاقة الاقتصادية مصحوبة بتخلّف وفساد وتراجع زراعي. لا تقنعني ان ادونيس وبائع المازوت في نفس المكان. لا تقنعني انني مثل أي واحد في جامع النور ولا تقنعني انني لست معارضاً.
كلمة «معارضة» تثير السخرية فالمعارضة أثبتــت لا جــدواها. واثبتت أن لا شخصية لها. الدليل هو ولادة ما سمي «قوائم العار والــشرف» لتصنيف المثقفين بين خونة وعمــلاء وشرفاء. قوائم للمحتجين وقوائم لمؤيدين، فترى اسماء الكثيرين من المفكرين والفنانين والممثلين في قوائم المجموعتين!! كيف هذا؟ المعارضة كفكرة ثقافية هي «النكش في المستقبل، الاستشراف».
الأمر لا يعالج بروحية «ريال مدريد ـ برشلونة» يا شباب. المثقف دوره ان يكون جرس مستقبل، وإلا فما قيمة ثقافته؟
لا تكاد تهادن ثورته حتى تعود من جديد: كيف لشيخ الموالين «البوطي» قناة دينية وانا محروم من قناة بموجب هذا النظام. ومحروم من إنشاء جمعية أو ناد. أما الحل، بحسب قاموس الشخصية الغريبة الملوّنة: الدولة أيضاً تكنولوجيا، فلنستورد دولة.
بكلمات اخرى وفي دائرة الفكر ذاتها، يفسّر حسان سلوم: الدولة المدنية الحقيقية. الدستور يحوي مواد دينية، قانون الاحوال الشخصية، انبعاث السلطات، الحل هو بالدولة المدنية العلمانية. التغيير يستدعي العقل وليس وقت ثورة عاطفية، بل انها اكثر فترة تتطلب تفكيرا وعقلا، والمطلب اليوم هو الدفع باتجاه دولة مدنية بوحدة الحقوق لا تميز على اساس الجنس والعرق والطائفة. لا مانع لي ان أدفع الثمن باتجاه هذا التغيير. لكن الاسئلة تراود عقلي:
ما الصيغة المطروحة؟ لم وصلنا لمرحلة الدم بسرعة؟ قطعاً ليست الدولة وحدها من يحمل السلاح، هل هناك قوى تدفع باتجاه السلاح وإلا من اين ياتي؟ في تاريخ سوريا، في العام 1978 استعمل السلاح بوجه السلفيين ودخلت البلاد في حمام دماء، وانتهى بحسم عسكري.
رغم الاسئلة الكثيرة والأفكار الكثيرة والقلق الوفير في كل المكاتب وعيون الطلاب والعمال، تنام دمشق بفصامها على بصيص امل وحيد هو التغيير الذي تنتظره بقلق العذراء، او بقلق الارملة منذ 50 سنة. كاتب السيناريو يختصره بضحكة شقية: أعطيناكم طنجرة العام 1963 وحتى اليوم لم تنته الطبخة، ردّ لي طنجرتي لأصنع انا الطبخة.

April 20th, 2011, 8:28 pm


Norman said:

Hi Amir,

I think that the Baath party for the sake of the country and the Baath party, The Baath party understands by now the the days of one party system is not sustainable and the best that the Baath party can do is to be one of many and scramble for the love and the approval of the voters, Bu doing that many opportunists who joined the Baath party for monetary gains will leave the Baath party that might lose some elections but will come back stronger,

I have a question for you which is always worrisome for Syrians and that is how does Israel prevent foreign interference with it’s elections by financial of moral means.

The big test to the opposition will come if article 8 is canceled and a new party law is established, At that time we are going to see the real intention of the opposition, Do they want to compete like everybody else or they want to take over, If they continue the demonstrations then everybody will know that the goal of the demonstrations is a takeover of the country and at that time nobody will blame the Baath party for a severe reprisal with or without president Assad , after what took place in Iraq with the violent take over and the destruction of the Baath party, The party will not allow that to happen in Syria.

April 20th, 2011, 8:50 pm


syau said:


Not only his ponytail, his concept for a new Syria is delusional. As long as he is “willling to let the process simmer” we will all be fine then wont we.
they are “refusing to fall into the trap of violence” thus keeping it peaceful on their end?? Someone has kept this guy out of the loop.

You make excellent points. But I actually think his body language said it all. Also saying that sectarianism and the MB wont be factoring into their equasion, that has been already proven to be an outright lie. “they cannot punish everybody and should try not to seek revenge but they need answers to some difficult questions of the past”. And he says its not a sectarian issue, all I can say is there is definitely deep seeded hate there. With this character as a leading activist and the current face of the revolution, they have issues.

April 20th, 2011, 8:54 pm


Leo said:


The Baath has no genuine support anymore. These 1.5 million members you quote are only members by name. I’m not sure if you are Syrian or lived in Syria, but if you have lived in Syria you would know that being a ‘member’ of the Baath party substantially increases the chance of public employees to be promoted. There used to be a lot of incentives in the past, especially during Hafez’s era, to join the party, starting from secondary school school. For example, only until few years ago, one could only get a scholarship if they were a Baath member or had a very strong connection with a senior government official. If the Baath falls you will see all these members withdraw en masse just like the NDP members in Egypt. On paper, the Baath is massive. In reality, it’s a paper tiger.

April 20th, 2011, 8:55 pm


Farouk qaddour said:

Judging by what is happening in Egypt and by my own contacts with Egyptian friends,I believe that the Islamic movements in Syria is likely to follow egypt’s model,winning slowly but steadily.Thousands protested in Egypt because the army counsel appointed a Christian governor,Muhafazet Qinaa,as if being a Christian disqualifies you from being a governor. The same senario can be duplicated in Syria but at a slower pace since Syria has a sizable minority that is non Muslim,non Arab or non Sunni . The so-called secular opposition in Syria will be the first victim of any swift regime change and those people will find themselves in the streets with no friends except a hypocritical west that is too busy fighting more important wars or trying to solve their own domestic,mostly economic problems.the vacuum in Syria following 50 years of albaath domination left the country with no organized leadership and that opens the door to fundamental groups which will claim to be the only viable solution to Syria’s problem. The regime is directly responsible for this horrible situation that can only benefit organized religion.

April 20th, 2011, 9:01 pm


louai said:

a leading activist! !! is he? ? why syriacomment is going that road, I used to respect the blog and I thoight its the only sound place to read none trash comments about Syria ,I feel let down and offended by calling this man a leading activist, I was just about to forget how you presented him las time in your article as an alternative, I think I am so naive to not discovering what kind of blog you have that time. ….would you please stop promoting this guy as a leader? you insult many people by doing so…or is the syrian way of promoting your friends and relati es? the people prefere the current bad than going to the worst.

April 20th, 2011, 10:10 pm


why-discuss said:


I am not sure. The Baath philosophy is a very elaborated one and it has many important aspects that have been blurred and polluted with the ways it was used.
A revamped Baath will certainly attract many Syrians who would continue to adhere to this philosophy especially when they will realize that beside the Moslem Brotherhood, the opposition has no programs and no philosophy, just demagogic slogans.
In the present new wave of Arab nationalism and awakening in the region, the Baath philosophy fits very well.

Some excerpts from

“The motto of the Party—”Unity, Liberty, Socialism” (Arabic وحدة، حرية، اشتراكية)—was inspired by the French Jacobin political doctrine linking national unity and social equity,[3] Unity refers to Arab unity, or Pan-Arabism; liberty emphasizes being free from foreign control and interference (self-determination); and socialism refers to Arab socialism, rather than to European socialism or communism”….

“The Ba’ath party also had a significant number of Christian Arabs among its founding members. For them, most prominently Michel Aflaq, a resolutely nationalist and secular political framework was a suitable way to evade faith-based Islamic orientation and the minority status it would give non-Muslims and to get full acknowledgment as citizens”

April 20th, 2011, 10:17 pm


Norman said:


I agree with you and as i said previously, The Baath party will be the big winner after it gets rid of the opportunists in it’s rank.

April 20th, 2011, 10:26 pm


Sunny said:

I have been waiting for a while to hear from the other side. Mr. Abdulhamid did not present an analysis to the case (statistics…data…etc), did not provide a blueprint, did not present a developed plan that the opposition has engineered for the past 10..20..30 years. If there is one how it is going to be implemented… clear time frame…how it is going to be evaluated and assessed…accountability… how it is going to be adjusted. For the group of intellectuals he mentioned there should be a clear and written plan to present to the readers of Syria Comment and Syrians. Based on that, cooperating with the current government and the president in a civil and intellectual manner to create jobs would be a wise move for Syria at this point…like the rest of the world.
Joshua, would you please interview someone from the other side too?
Thank you.

April 20th, 2011, 10:31 pm


Sophia said:

Bssam Haddad does not agree with Mr. Abdulhamid. I understand now why Mr. Abdulhamid kept repeating in his interview the word ‘organic’ when talking about the opposition, but he is as much in touch with the organic opposition as I am in touch with the Queen of England.

April 20th, 2011, 10:42 pm


Revlon said:

Homs, a microcosm of Syrian nation’s diversity, is now at the heart of, and a driving force in the Syrian revolution.

Homs has a dominant , moderate conservative sunni, and large Christian and 3alawi populations. It is surrounded with a country side of rather similar composition.

The self confidence gained, through the uprising, by the numerical majority, dominated by moderate conservative Sunnis, will serve to improve the inter-sect harmony, by restoring its natural balance.

How events unfold on the ground in Homs, in the next phase of the revolution, will probably shape up the framework of the country-wide regime-public confrontation.

April 20th, 2011, 11:18 pm


jad said:

Daily Show: Oliver – America’s Freedom Packages
John Oliver demonstrates how America’s freedom packages will turn any country’s civil war into a catastro-tunity.

April 20th, 2011, 11:25 pm


jad said:

“As long as he is “willling to let the process simmer” we will all be fine then wont we.”
‘Ponytail’ and his group are not looking for any solution, prosperity is not what they are looking for, they are drunk with the fame moment they are getting now and wont let it go without being the ‘Prima donna’ of this bloody play folding infront of our eyes.

April 20th, 2011, 11:35 pm


Ziad said:

The ponytail is fine with me; it is the neocon trained pony that worries me. He already reduced the Jolan to insignificant four Druze villages. If he gets his way we will get an Israeli embassy in Abu Rummaneh instead of the Jolan.

This revolution offers a rosy future for the country, an Israeli flag in Abu Rummaneh and public flogging in Marjeh after a sectarian war of settling scores and extracting revenge.

April 21st, 2011, 12:05 am


abbas said:

LOL did u get the la )st part ( offer not valid in west bank or Gaza

April 21st, 2011, 2:22 am


Souri said:

Traveling cars that carry Aleppo plates are being stopped and burned near Homs because the Aleppines are “traitors.” Cars with Aleppo plates are unable to use the Aleppo-Damascus road.

Like expected, this choas will not lead only to sectarian violence but also to regional divisions within the same sects.

April 21st, 2011, 2:31 am


NK said:

Assad cousin accused of favouring family
By Lina Saigol
Published: April 20 2011 19:53 | Last updated: April 20 2011 19:53

“The son of the former commander of the Syrian Republican Guard, Mr Makhlouf controls as much as 60 per cent of the country’s economy through a complex web of holding companies.”

April 21st, 2011, 2:37 am


Off the Wall said:

Dear Ali Ismael
I hope that you, like me, are reluctant to enforce your self imposed boycott of SC and still reading.

I agree with the part of your observation stressing that SC quality has gone down significantly during the past few weeks. But I beg to differ with you on the responsibility for such decline. It seems to me that the party posting the most is the pro-regime party whose membership swelled in numbers all of the sudden. There are a couple die-hard anti-regime old-timers whose comments in the past have also contributed tremendously to enriching the cultural and historical content of SC, and who over years provoked both regime supporters and neutrals to think hard about problems and solutions, but recently their posts have focused primarily on conveying links to YouTube content in a desperate attempt to get the other side to recognize the legitimacy of the revolutionaries’ narrative as it gets maligned by the Syrian government press, which is being also relayed herein by regime advocates as well as some neutral parties. But still, most of the new active membership has been pro-regime and it is obvious that they are off course offering solutions based on eradication of a large segment of Syrian society whom they think can easily be labeled Sectarian merely because it is religious and perhaps conservative. They have been offering themselves self-congratulatory posts for exposing yet one more fake video and for unraveling Syrian press style, one more link of the ever shifting conspiracy, only to be discredited by the regime’s own public anger placating actions and shy recognition of the legitimacy of public anger. The anti-regime group has been primarily posting links to videos,and an occasional moderately long fiery post, with some comments addressing what they call sectarian nature of the regime, but the number and length of their posts have declined significantly over the past two weeks as the events in Syria picked up speed and as they were continuously insulted verbally. But in essence, both sides have been carrying on with monologues and interested in simply discrediting each others’ narrative.

As for those who would have usually offered solutions, please remember that a large majority of them are heavy weight technocrats. They were convinced that SC was being read at high level policy circles in Syria as well as abroad, and that a good post, supportive or critical, was more likely to be considered thoughtfully than not by some key actors on the scene in Syria and elsewhere. Lots of thinking went into their posts. As long as the commenter was convinced that the “Security-based” mentality was retreating in Syria, and that rational decision making was beginning to take hold, putting together a well thought post was worth the time and efforts and risk. Then, and figuratively speaking, someone seems to have pushed a button, and SC was being flooded by posts who started advocating wholesale slaughter while at the same time insisting on framing the on-going event as a sectarian warfare and as strange concocted conspiracy bringing together a strange cocktail of anti-Syrian evil doers. In essence, parroting the official, shifting narrative of the security-based parts of the Syrian decision makers, but providing no real support for the other rational, semi-enlightened part. Technocrats can not provide security solutions. They can talk and offer solutions based on respect for the intelligence of their readers and interlocutors but their brains freeze when guns blaze and when bullet start flying and war drums start playing the ugly marsh for slaughter by those pretending secularism, but continue to threat with sectarian war.

Sorry to take too much of your valuable time.

April 21st, 2011, 2:57 am


Revlon said:

Ammar Abdul7amid is an ouspoken, Syrian revolution supporter, who has a natural appeal for American media.

All I know about his contributions to support the Syrian revolution, is availing himself to media and voicing the revolution’s demands.

To me, he is not any more a “virtual” leader of the Syrian revolution than any supporter on this, or any other blog.

Actual leaders are ground activists.

The guy is more about how to, than why!

He comes across as a pragmatist, with probable appeal to certain, liberal youths.

Aside from the goals of the revolution, he shares nothing with the moderate, conservatives who are the de facto driving force of this revolution.

His views about the Israeli-Syrian conflict, and before him El-Bayanouni’s, are their personal’s, and should be taken in such context.
They are proto-typical of Syrian’s who have been in exile for long time.
They are shaped by
– long detachment from home,
– long –standing influence of hosting country’s media,
– Pressures to compromise in order to gain access to hosting country’s media.

April 21st, 2011, 3:09 am


Majhool said:

we love OTW

Yallah hopefully thing will change in syria and we elect you president. no joke

April 21st, 2011, 3:19 am


Souri said:

What really brings down the quality of any discussion is when posters start personally attacking other posters. I can hardly ever find a justification for personal attacks; they are just unjustifiable, and IMO no mature person would ever resort to personal attacks.

Many posters on this blog have obvious tendency to personal attacks, and they don’t even spare Joshua Landis himself from such attacks.

April 21st, 2011, 3:21 am


abbas said:

Ammar is a leading activist now! did he spend one night in prison for the cause? this guy comes to the U.S a teenager from a life of privilege to study astronomy according to his mom then decided to change to Islamic religion before his old sheikh at Abu Noor mosque made him change his mind again! lately I heard he once wanted to go to Afghanistan but now his Agnostic and did not finish college ! looks like opposition is the occupation of the one without any occupation, this guy wanted the U.S to invade Syria! how ignorant could you be to promote foreign occupation of your old country, yes it is his old country now and since he pledged allegiance to a new country he should keep quite and let the people there decide what they want


April 21st, 2011, 3:22 am


Mina said:

To say that we would like to read what is concretly the Salafi political project apart from “al islam huwa al hal wa al-quran huwa al-dustur” does not mean anyone want to eradicate a segment of Syrian society. I am a Sunni but I don’t feel any empathy towards the cyber-shaykhs of Al Jazeera or any of these neo-sorcerers practicing rituals on satellite-channels, Amr Khaled in his 5 starts hotel room telling kids “any good muslim will have a nice laptop and a fashionable sofa, because god loves him”, or any preach explaining me in details how it looks like on day of resurrection and the big fight of the mahdi and dajjal etc.

But the timing of the events is so much obviously meant as a smoke screen to cover up ugly things happening in Bahrain first and in Libya second (chronologically) that we cannot be fooled.

Read this please (and this has been going on since january but was covered by Egypt..) Do you think the ultra-liberals would lose the 2 spots where they were making the more money on the stock exchange and in tourism and not react by attacking a poor half socialist state as Syria?:

April 21st, 2011, 3:24 am


an old friend said:

Mr.Joshua i am glad to see the real face of you ..i thought that you are one of the voices who are taking no sides but you keep puting this guy in our faces …what do you think we are kids ? who is this guy ? why you insest of presenting him to us? i really love the way you write but now i finden it even hard to comment in this Post really added one more insult to our injury

shame on you and shame on us

April 21st, 2011, 5:31 am


syau said:


Thankyou for that article. It was quite saddening to read and to understand what is happening in Bahrain from a medical doctors point of view. Your thoughts also put a new perspective on the current situation in Syria.

April 21st, 2011, 5:55 am


Aboud said:


That is complete and utter bullshit. Where on Earth did you get such rubbish? Cars from Allepo being burned! What utter nonsense. Before you go making such absurd and inflammatory claims, be prepared to back them up with something other than rumors. I heard rumors that over 1,500 people were killed in Homs Tuesday morning, but do I go around repeating such things unless I have absolute proof? Of course not.

People, get it into your thick heads that the country’s situation is very delicate. If we all posted every rumor we heard as fact, this country will not last a week.

April 21st, 2011, 6:33 am


why-discuss said:


Is there a decrease in the anti-regime comments because they have been bashed, or they are just becoming deluded by the way the uprising is moving, incoherent, headless and programless in front of a determined, numerically stronger, ruthless and methodical opponent?

April 21st, 2011, 7:36 am


Fadi said:

Turkish president: Israel must adopt Arab peace plan
04/21/2011 10:15

Outcome of ME unrest depends on whether Israelis, Palestinians make peace, agreement will curb extremism, Gul writes in ‘NY Times’ op-ed.

Talkbacks (17)
Turkish President Abdullah Gul called for a renewal of peace talks in light of the current unrest in the Middle East, in an op-ed published in Thursday’s New York Times.

“The peoples of the region, without exception, revolted not only in the name of universal values but also to regain their long-suppressed national pride and dignity,” Gul wrote. “But whether these uprisings lead to democracy and peace or to tyranny and conflict will depend on forging a lasting Israeli-Palestinian peace agreement and a broader Israeli-Arab peace.”

April 21st, 2011, 8:34 am


Fadi said:

Sorry guys in the opposition. Turkey and the US urging Israel to resume the peace talk. You bunch of thugs wants more blood shed in the streets of my beloved Syria with your evil revolution. The thugs of you will be chased, MB and AlQaeda will be defeated, and guess what; the world wants peace. I do not hear your drums of war rather a hear drums of peace and stability. Your bunch of losers. USA and the world wants peace. We want to eradicate terrorists. Your destination is into grave. No one in the world will be at your side. You are now like a fish out of the sea, will be dead soon. Viva Syria. Viva Assad.

Clinton calls for immediate resumption of peace talks
04/21/2011 05:52

US secretary of state says that the US opposes unilateral Palestinian moves to seek statehood in the United Nations, in PBS interview.

Talkbacks (12)
US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on Wednesday called for an immediate resumption of Israeli-Palestinian peace talks and denounced Palestinian efforts seeking unilateral declarations of statehood in the United Nations.

Speaking in an interview with PBS, Clinton said that despite the unrest currently taking place in the Middle East, Israel and the Palestinians should realize the immediateness of the need to resume negotiations.

April 21st, 2011, 8:39 am


Off the Wall said:

I posted a long response. But after seeing the kinds of posts dominating SC in the 30 minutes it took me to write my response, I decided to delete its content and replace it with this post.

I think I’ll take my pebbles and play somewhere else.

April 21st, 2011, 9:01 am


Jad said:

دمشق- سانا

أصدر السيد الرئيس بشار الأسد المرسوم رقم 161 القاضي بإنهاء العمل بحالة الطوارئ.

وأصدر الرئيس الأسد المرسوم التشريعي رقم 53 القاضي بإلغاء محكمة أمن الدولة العليا.

كما أصدر الرئيس الأسد المرسوم التشريعي رقم 54 القاضي بتنظيم حق التظاهر السلمي للمواطنين بوصفه حقا من حقوق الإنسان الأساسية التي كفلها دستور الجمهورية العربية السورية.

كما أصدر الرئيس الأسد مرسوما تشريعيا يقضي بأن تختص الضابطة العدلية أو المفوضون بمهامها باستقصاء الجرائم والاستماع إلى المشتبه بهم.

April 21st, 2011, 9:13 am


Alaa shaheen said:

We are praying for a decent weekend and more reform measures by the regime and the return of security to the streets. I suspect the regime allowed the thugs on both sides to play their cards so the public can have a taste of what the country is gonna look like if those thugs control the streets. Many Syrians proved to be true third world material,and this guy,,abdulhameed,is actually helping the regime every time he opens his mouth.
The real heroes are the peaceful demonstrators who did not use violence and lost ,or risked,their lives for their country. Everybody else,including myself,can only talk and lecture from a distance.

April 21st, 2011, 9:14 am


Jad said: is hacked!
Check it out

April 21st, 2011, 9:43 am


jad said:

Dearest OTW
بليز بليز بليز
Please for God sake don’t take your pebbles anywhere, stay here.
I will leave SC if you do and you wont have any more fun 🙂
ثانك يو فور ستاينغ ماي ديريست أوف ذا وول

April 21st, 2011, 10:02 am


Revlon said:

نزار نيوف يفند الوضع في سوريا على الحوار

April 21st, 2011, 11:23 am


Revlon said:

The Syrian Revolution 2011
وصلتنا هذه الرسالة العاجلة من أحد الطلاب في جامعة دمشق
اخواني انا طالب بجامعه دمشق منتسب للحزب … اليوم جمعونا من اتحاد الطلبه برئاسة الطالب” اياد ” مسؤول تنظيم كتب الاتحاد انا وحوالي ٤٠ طالب من رفقاتي اللي كان النا نشاط بالجامعه كبير انصدمت شو طلبوا منا يااخوان والله انصدمت طالبين مننا انه بدنا نكون جاهزين لانه في ناس مندسين بمحافظات مختلفه وبدنا نحمي بلدنا لو بدنا نطلق الرصاص على اللي منشك فيهم وهنه مسؤلين عن تسليحنا بوقت معين على قولتهن ياجماعه هاد اتحاد طلبه مو مليشيا او مافيا والله كلنا مصدومين والله العظيم شو مفكرينا غنم نطلع نقتل اخواننانكون جاهزين لانه في ناس مندسين بمحافظات مختلفه وبدنا نحمي بلدنا لو بدنا نطلق الرصاص على اللي منشك فيهم وهنه مسؤلين عن تسليحنا بوقت معين على قولتهن ياجماعه هاد اتحاد طلبه مو مليشيا او مافيا والله كلنا مصدومين والله العظيم شو مفكرينا غنم نطلع نقتل اخواننا
ارجوكم تنشروااا هاد الحكي والله مصدووومين مصدومين

about an hour ago

April 21st, 2011, 11:30 am


majedkhaldoon said:

Some say AMN,some call them security forces, the truth is that they are suppression and opression forces,They are the one syrian are revolting against, they are who are depriving us from freedom, they have to be controlled,dismantled,shooting peacefull demonstrators is wrong, arresting lawyers for saying there is huge corruption problem in Syria, arrest them for that is wrong,so the regime must release all political prisoners,no more delay, and those whose hands are bloody must be tried and put in jail for their crimes,we need independent judiciary system,freedom and justice what we want.
Wikileakes just issued a statement saying what I said all along, Bashar is not a leader, he is not strong ,he is weak.

Why Discuss
The problem is not in the principles of Baath party,or SSNP party or any other party,used to exist in Syria, the problem is in the people who are leading those parties,the problem is in their behaviour after getting in power, Shishakly was ssnp member, when he took control he behaved wrong, Baath party members who are controlling syria now are corrupt and has dictatorial mentality, we did not see that in Salah Bitar, who was really Baath leader,he was assasinated by current Baath controlers,this is what went wrong in Syria,and the people want to correct that.

April 21st, 2011, 11:38 am


ziadsoury said:

Dear OTW,

How many pebbles do you have?

I bet you 10 pebbles that where ever you go play right now, you will find plenty of Bashroupies there.

The Arabs regimes have learned one thing from Israel and learned it well. Remember during the Gaza slaughter there were so many pro Israel hired bloggers on this site defending the slaughter as self-defense.

It is incredible that some of them have been calling for killing 10 million fellow Syrians just because they do not like the regime. This is the message this regime trying to broadcast through them. We will kill all that disagree with us. The is their end game.

April 21st, 2011, 11:55 am


Shami said:

If they were honest they would have freed all political prisoners and gave a red card to the very corrupt inner cirlce,they are buying time.

April 21st, 2011, 12:20 pm


Zenobia said:

This was a great conversation to watch between Joshua and Ammar, two really smart people who see the world differently. Although, clearly, Joshua was not putting forward a line so much as challenging Ammar, rightly, to explain how he and those ‘revolutionaries’ on the ground are prepared to deal with the possible outcomes of their actions. I think he did a great job of asking those questions, what are the expectations and the assumptions at play. Ammar was convincing in some areas and not so convincing in other areas. Most importantly, I think he came up short on the subject of who/what is going to contain the violence should things break down into sectarian conflict – if the military is dismantled and the gov’t gone. I think Joshua is right to suggest that at least one has to think this out – the day after scenario- in terms of avoiding a situation like Iraq, and I think Ammar was not so convincing in his simple insistence that this is not going to be a problem or a danger. And he sounded naive in proposing that somehow, parts of the military will simply be co-opted and shift their loyalties over to the people and new people in charge.
Regardless of these serious issues and challenges, it is also clear that the outcome will depend on the will of the people – and how people control themselves. Not a very comforting thought, but perhaps inevitable. If the security apparatus uses this fear to justify killing or suppression – the balance will never hold. Propagandizing in fear will never hold, and inevitably – a strong enough will for change can not be suppressed through continuous psychological manipulation and “gaslighting” or by the barrel of the gun.

April 21st, 2011, 12:26 pm


N.Z. said:

In all due respect to professor Landis, he had managed to make us see inside the mind of one of the opposition figures. We liked him or not is not Joshua’s problem.

What strucked most, is Ammar’s giving away what is ours, parts of the Golan Height. That is suicidal to any Syrian leader, present or near present.

It is telling why most Syrians respect Hizbullah.

April 21st, 2011, 12:48 pm


Fadi said:

To all the free people in the world: We do not want stupid radicals. Death to radicals.

Look at this example of retarded Sheik……..who is giving his teaching on a TV channel.

Oh God save us from the radicals…..Keep them away from Syria……

لا يجوز للبنت الإختلاء مع أبيها !

April 21st, 2011, 12:56 pm


N.Z. said:

Ammar Abdulhamid,

The Golan Heights belongs neither to you nor to the occupier, it belongs to the Syrians. Giving away an inch of our land is suicidal to this autocratic regime and to any future regime.

A referendum if any deal is to be struck will be the answer.

Thanks Joshua, for giving us this opportunity on your blog.

April 21st, 2011, 12:58 pm



Dear.Prof Landis
What does Ammar Abdulhamid represent????????
Please speak with millions of real Syrians who love their country……This guy is a joke…….Syrians do not like to hear such boy,even his mother as I know…………

April 21st, 2011, 1:07 pm


N.Z. said:

Fadi how was Pass Over ?

April 21st, 2011, 1:09 pm


Fadi said:


Anything that reminds you of God is a good day.

April 21st, 2011, 1:22 pm


Souri said:

The protesters are calling tomorrow the “Good Friday.” They say that this is a gesture towards the Christians!

Those Islamists are really pathetic. Despite the fact that weeks have passed and the Christians are still apprehensive of them, they are still incapable of providing any assurances for the minorities other than these meaningless “gestures,” which in Arabic would be called تبويس لحى.

The Christians are not waiting for your idiotic symbolic gestures. The Christians would like better to hear about your plans for the future. What country do you want? What is your stance on secularism?

I can understand why it is really hard for the administrator of that facebook page to do anything other than those meaningless gestures. Look at his image:

What is this guy going to say to the Christians? Is he going to lie and say that he wants a secular country? The Christians know well what the MB wants and the “symbolic gestures” will do nothing to make them change their minds.

April 21st, 2011, 1:58 pm


Fadi said:


The Quran quotes Moses as saying to his people:
“Remember Moses said to his people: “O my people! Call in remembrance the favour of God unto you, when He produced prophets among you, made you kings, and gave you what He had not given to any other among the peoples.” (Surah Al Ma’idah 5:20)

I want to bring it to the attention of the west that there are radicals out there in Syria who are trying to bring Syria to Salafi, Wahabi stream. Quran respected all prophets and religions yet some R Muslims have hearts full with hate towards other. They will not accept others.

I find your question regarding the pass over insulting because I know whats behind your question. You are mistaken dear in your expectations. But because both of us are ghosts in this forum there is no need to prove to you that I am a proud Syrian. Israel is something and the Jewish faith is something else. Israel is occupier and have their own bloody hateful radicals as we do with respect to the very good Jewish people that we get to know in our daily work. Israel is our enemy yet we have to be open minded and try to follow the peace road with them. The current Syria government had said in many occasions that we want peace, so there is nothing wrong by dreaming of peace and even dreaming of having a feast in one of the cities there. Unfortunately some radical elements in Israeli government are not allowing such a dream to happen (a dream for all the free and open minded people wether Syrian or Jewish) thing to happen. That is why USA in many occasions has been urging them to step up their efforts in the peace process.

If I had extrapolated the news today in my earlier post from Jerusalem post it is because you guys do not trust SANA or ALMANAR anymore. You only trust Aljazeera and Alarabyia which I personally hate and do not have faith in their reports anymore. I intentionally brought the news from an enemy newspaper so it is more reliable to you as you are seeking them and your revolutionary people shouting in the streets of Syria Israel is better than this Regime (Shameful).

It would be a disaster to the Jewish, to the Syrian, and to all peace seekers if radical mentalities come to rule Syria “democratically elected conservative government as defined by one of your fellows in this forum”. For that reason I believe USA would never ever intervene in Syria because they realize disaster of bringing a moderate????conservative???????elected government (whatever that means) to rule Syria. It is better fro you guys to elect a group of representatives instead of sitting here writing in SC, or Facebook and go talk to our president so at least would know what are you asking for. There is no poster out their in your crowds. Selmia, Selmia, Selmia……I am sick

April 21st, 2011, 2:04 pm


Akbar Palace said:



How is the “resistance” going? Is it against the evil Zionists or the evil Assad today?

April 21st, 2011, 2:44 pm


William Scott Scherk said:

I am in Vancouver, British Columbia, watching events in Syria from multiple perspectives and in a spirit of sympathy.

I am most interested in the identity of the ‘armed gangs’ as reported in official Syrian media, and in the relative lack of knowledge of just who these ‘armed gangs’ actually are, who they represent, what groups or formations they may owe allegiance to.

First, why hasn’t the official press identified one or more particular persons from the ‘armed gangs’? As I understand Syria, there are many security organizations, ranging from internal security in various armed forces to various agents of ‘state security,’ some armed and uniformed, others ‘undercover.’ If my impressions are correct, should we expect — given the state of official media — to hear or read reports of individuals from ‘armed gangs’ who have been arrested?

A second set of questions hinges on this single one: who are the ‘shadows’ or Shabeeha? What I don’t understand is if it is possible that the Shabeeha are the ‘armed gangs’ referred to in the state media. I hope someone who is inside Syria, or who is well-acquainted with Syrian society could explain to us what the Shabeeha (if they truly exist) may be doing in some parts of Syria and what relation if any they have to the state apparatus.

I thank JAD for his post #51 [] that tells us of the decrees signed into law in Syria today: decrees 53, 54, 161 and the non-numerized decree that ‘stipulates that specializes in law enforcement functions authorized or investigate crimes and to listen to the suspects.’

Is there a repository of law such as we have here in Canada: published laws on a website? Canada has many laws and even cabinet ‘decrees’ (called Orders-in-council) but they are all officially published and proclaimed, and available for anyone to view.

What I am getting at is that I haven’t seen yet the actual full text of the decrees mentioned in the SANA report. Please direct me to a place or places where the decrees are recorded.

One additional comment/query: why is it that the semi-official Day Press website has different versions of news between its English side and its Arabic side: I have left several comments and questions on the English side, but although one of my comments was published, it has since been removed, and the link on the site that shows ‘most commented’ no longer shows comments of any kind.

If anyone can recommend Syrian news sources (whether or not official and whether or not ‘correct’) I would very much appreciate it.

April 21st, 2011, 3:18 pm


Souri said:

All our problems are because we have not been resisting the Zionists good enough. We need to take the resistance more seriously or our situation will keep deteriorating. It is time to heat up the resistance.

April 21st, 2011, 3:24 pm


Maher said:

Thanks Professor Landis, and Thanks to Ammar.Few things are sure among them is the following :
-The Syrian regime record of bad governence for such talented people is just way over board .Finally , time to pay has arrived.
– The Syrian regime direct and indirect attempt to play the sectrain card is a sign of moral bankruppcy , and just one more reason to let go , given the rights of the majority regardless of the interests of the elitist merchant class .
– The president himself could be well meaning, but more certain. He is too weak , and using Iran or Hizb Allah would be the final nail in the coffin .
– The Allwites do not have to worry if they decide to respect the will of the majority
– This latest bout of political crisis is going to deepen the economic problems of the Syrian government , and Iran has failed to deliver on the goods, actually only the Saudis where willing to contribute usd 100 mill for a power station , the Iranian money will likely go to the security services and spies.
– It is time for all the syrians and all liberty loving people to call on the Assad to let go , the golan talk is becoming a silly joke , imagine if you are Syrian officer who graduated from the military academy in 1973 , you have retired without and proper training let alone a fight for the liberation of the golan .

April 21st, 2011, 3:27 pm


Nour said:

Mahmoud Ezzat, the Muslim Brotherhood’s deputy Supreme Guide, said in a forum held in the Cairo district of Imbaba on Thursday that the group wants to establish an Islamic state after it achieves widespread popularity through its Freedom and Justice Party. Meanwhile, Brotherhood leader Saad al-Husseiny, said at the forum that the group aims to apply Islamic legislation and establish Islamic rule. His remarks rattled the leaders of several political parties, who said the statements, which were at odds with the concept of a civil state, would worry liberals.

April 21st, 2011, 3:34 pm


AIG said:


So when can I expect to see you in the Golan? Or are you simply asking others to resist? Or maybe you want Hezbollah to resist for Syrians? Can you please clarify?

April 21st, 2011, 3:57 pm


NK said:

William Scott Scherk

Those are the Shabeha, they’re basically militias loyal to the Assad family, they’re well known to all Syrians, their main job is to smuggle weapons, drugs and everything in between into Syria, plus a few armed robberies and assassinations here and there, for instance this one armed robbery was caught on tape (Numeer Al Assad) is the president’s cousin, of course when the video was released to the public the police had to arrest him, and when they tried to he and his gang shot at the police and killed 2 policemen and injured several if I remember correctly, anyways he was caught and sent to jail only to escape a week later when his gang attacked the prison!!!

As for a Syrian news source, sadly there is none, they’re all tightly controlled and under the direct supervision of Mukhabarat officers, like the rest of us living abroad you have to resort to Youtube and Twitter and try to weed out the legit from the fabricated. 🙁

April 21st, 2011, 4:09 pm


Akbar Palace said:

The Holy Resistors

A picture of some of the more famous resistors of our time:

April 21st, 2011, 4:24 pm


MK JCNJ said:

Regarding Ammar Abdulhamid:

The fact that he has admitted receiving funding from the U.S. government since at least 2005; that he stated he would like to “normalize” relations with the Israeli apartheid state; that he praises the so-called “color revolutions” in the Ukraine, Georgia and Kyrgyzstan that were really tech-savvy mobilizations funded by the U.S. foreign policy – both secret and non-secret – establishment and not revolutions; and, that he brushed off those heroic residents of Golan who make history every day with their steadfastness against an occupation that would collapse in weeks without U.S. economic, political and military support; puts him in some interesting company in Washington, D.C.

April 21st, 2011, 4:30 pm


jad said:


“I am most interested in the identity of the ‘armed gangs’ as reported in official Syrian media, and in the relative lack of knowledge of just who these ‘armed gangs’ actually are, who they represent, what groups or formations they may owe allegiance to.”

There are two groups of gangs are now working in Syria:

1-The one that is formed by thugs, smugglers and loyal to nobody but money, those are the one NK is referring to, they may committed crimes lately especially in Jableh, Banyas and Lattakis since those areas are their stronghold.
Some of them are from the Assad family or relatives and others are formed from poor guys from the villages of that coastal area of Syria.
I guess many security officials use them for spreading fear and make people to think twice before do anything against the regime and from my observation I think that they might have different heads and different loyalty, not necessary to one person, and I notice that they are sometimes in conflict with the regime itself so I won’t put all of them ‘Shabiha’ under one leader and I won’t blame the President personally for their action, but I blame Mr. President for not being able to contain them immediately before things went ugly.
2-The radical Muslim gangs that are using the insecurity to instigate the situation to make it worse so the regime won’t be able to fix it which will give them space to create what they call a truly Muslim society, those according to many resources are based in the mainly poor neighbourhood and suburbs of Syria.
they are aligned with other radical entities of the region from the Gulf countries and the Neighbouring countries and some government are even supporting those gangs by money and arms, either out of revenge from the Syrian regime or out of future plans that nobody relay know at the moment.

“First, why hasn’t the official press identified one or more particular persons from the ‘armed gangs’? ”
Couple reasons,
1- If the gang is from the regime side, it will take down the regime with them, so even if they catch those guys they won’t show them on TV before doing some deals with those responsible on the gang so the regime can look cleaner in the public eyes.
2- If the gang from the Radical side, they won’t show them until they get every member of their cells so nobody can escape.

The decree in details:
‘Published laws on a website?’
In Syria they call it the “Official Gazette” it publish every decree form the government and from the presidency, here you go the details of the decrees you asked about in English and in Arabic:
Reading Syrian news official/unofficial sites here is a link of all Syrian newspaper, unfortunately Syrian system is not like the Canada system where you are free to write and talk about all issues this explain why they removed your comments, maybe you were too Canadian 🙂
In the Syrian newspaper, you can write about anything you want except political criticizing of the President and the Baath party.
This is a good English magazine in Syria:


April 21st, 2011, 5:35 pm


S.A. said:

The A. Abdelhammid interview was very interesting. It shows that many people like him who are trying to represent the opposition have simple grandiose theoretical ideas while sitting safely in their homes in exile and trying to manipulate other people’s young brains into overthrowing a government. Abdulhamid appreared to me to be a man with a very big male ego; a personal vendetta against the Assad family and many grand theoretical and dangerous ideas. If he is really wanting only prosperity, security and peaceful transition and reform for the country, he would not be insisting on overthrowing the government of Assad. The outcome of what he was wishing for could be a deadly civil war much worse than what happened in Lebanon. What he said is only theories that are unrealistic on the ground in the situation of Syria. He had no clear alternative plan. And even if he had, a situation like this could be dangerously unpedictable as we all know. If he really wanted peaceful reform he should have been supporting the reforms that Bashar is trying to implement peacefully and without trying to overthrow the government or try to brainwash young people into doing so. He is far from trying peaceful solutions. I think what he said is deeply irresponsible, destructive and selfish and obviously motivated by personal motives and a big ego.
It is a frightening thought to me that irresponsible people like him are trying to destroy a stable country.

It is so worrying to realize that people like him are plotting to overthrow the government knowing that the situation in that case could become worse than in any other neighboring country!
Everybody knows that the regime is not perfect, but it certainly has provided security and stability and ensured secularism in Syria for the longest time. We are all grateful for that. If the government is willing to reform and move forward with people’s demands, why break the country down and head towards an unknown and dangerous future.

April 21st, 2011, 6:28 pm


Leo said:

Why-Discuss @ 26

The Baath party is a fascist party that will end up being dissolved just like the NDP in Egypt, the Baath in Iraq, and the RCD in Tunisia. The Syrian people were never ideological before and are not ideological today in order for them to follow another radical ideological party. The Baath party never in its history had the majority needed to control parliament or form a government but was part of several governments in the 50s during the period of parliamentary democracy. The only way could come to power was through a military coup d’etat which it did in 1963 and ever since it turned the country into a police state.

Claiming that the opposition consists of only the Muslim Brotherhoods shows that you lack any understanding of what is happening in Syria. Muslim Brotherhood has little support within Syria and majority of the opposition are not Islamists and would not want to be ruled by Islamic parties. They would rather see prominent members in society, like activists, academics, and professionals lead society in a pragmatic manner than ideologues who use religion or nationalistic fear and jingoism to rule.

I suggest you have a close look on Damascus Declaration and other independent members of the civil society who hold very high respect and popularity within society and especially the opposition before coming with your unfounded claim of exaggeration and fear that opposition is only about Muslim Brotherhood.

April 21st, 2011, 6:36 pm


why-discuss said:


Please point me to the political program of the opposition, so I can be convinced that they have one.

April 21st, 2011, 11:49 pm


Joshua said:

Thanks to you all for commenting. Thanks to OTW and others for defending my interesting in hearing from Ammar. Ammar has been deeply involved in the opposition movement for years. He represents a wing of the movement.

It is important to draw out activists on these most important issues that every Syrian is wrestling with – most importantly, what happens after they succeed. Who will lead Syria and how will they stop civil strife other than by wishing it away.

This interview has stirred up considerable interest and debate because it is one of the few occasions in which an activist has been willing to answer what I consider the hard but important questions.

I thank Ammar.

Ali Ismail and others. I am sorry that you feel I have failed the interests of truth.

My answer is that I think every Syria is smart enough to read reality and measure it against what Ammar says. If they believe that Syria’s realities mirror his answers they will support him, if not, they will not.

It is much better for everyone to hear him out on issues that are difficult but which the country may have to face, than not to hear him out.Dialogue is precious. Especially in a country where there are too few opportunities for reasoned dialogue on taboo subjects like sectarianism.

April 21st, 2011, 11:54 pm


why-discuss said:


“The problem is not in the principles of Baath party,or SSNP party or any other party,used to exist in Syria, the problem is in the people who are leading those parties,the problem is in their behaviour after getting in power…”

Do you think it will be different when an opposition party gets the power?

April 21st, 2011, 11:59 pm


Leo said:


Do you read Arabic?

Found this in English just in case you do not speak Arabic.

April 22nd, 2011, 12:17 am


Australian -Syrian said:

If the opposition comes into power, Syria will be not be for the better. There is no better leader than Dr. Bashar al Assad. He is intellegent. He is humble. He is loving, caring, hopeful, uniting…must i go on?

Has Bashar not been trying? For all his years in power, he has been trying to unite the arab world. Has he not been trying to unite the Syrian people? for those who cannot see, in Lebanon when the civil wars happen, there was a sectarian war between Alawi and Sunni citizens, it was because of those in charge who seem to promote sectarianism. It is becaese that weasle Hariri has been weasilling to try and separate the Lebanese community. If there was someone other than Bashar in government, they would be of somewhat resemblance to the weasel Hariri. They would destroy Syria. BUT, as you can see, there have not been many issues considering religion in Syria as there was in Lebanon. Now, i am going on limb here and say that is because Bashar is President.

Positive reforms have been implemented and the protesters demands have been adhered to. But, for that to be effectively implemented, there should be cooperation and support for the government.

April 22nd, 2011, 12:46 am


Souri said:

#75 AIG,

Partial solutions do not work anymore. What we need now is mass resistance. We must flare up all the fronts very soon or our situation will get very bad.

April 22nd, 2011, 1:09 am


dgd1944 said:

Dear Joshua,
why you interview this or any other “opposition”? whom do they represent? not even themselves.
Go to the streets of the cities and speak to them, these are people trained to make uprising possible, its their job, just like “shahed Ayan” from some tv-channels.
Syria will not be changed, because few thausend paid or unpaid people want this.
The 90% of the syrian people do not want change, and Bashar is already on the right way of the reforms he promissed. So what do they want? destruction of the nation to supress syria’s politik towards Muqawamah and Iran, to let Israel dominate the area.

April 22nd, 2011, 5:21 am


Syria: Blog interview with Opposition activist Ammar Abdulhamid · Global Voices said:

[…] blogger and Syria expert, Joshua Landis, conducted a video interview with exiled leading Opposition activist Ammar Abdulhamid on the Syrian […]

April 23rd, 2011, 9:45 am


Sophia said:

Very surprising this article by Mr. Abdulhamid in The Guardian in February. For me it is the indication that Mr. Abdulhamid is not a ‘leader’ in this revolution. Since the beginning, he has been trying to catch up and he really does not speak for the people who are protesting and who seem to me to be mainly sunni Islamists or disgruntled people, nothing to do with the intellectual awakening Mr. Abdulhamid is talking about.

Even leftists opposed to Al Assad are now distancing themselves from a ‘revolution’ that is being cooked in Lebanon. I think Saad El Hariri has more to do with what is going on Syria’s streets than Mr. Abdulhamid.


April 24th, 2011, 1:39 pm


ziad khoury said:

I really respect your blog, although, I think you wasted your time and my time with Ammar Abdulhamid interview. He has a little grasp of the street reality and I could not believe a ” revolutionary guy” will start his revolution with giving up precious land was taken by force from Syria, the Golan.
And what’s the excuse??: “there are only 10,000 druze and four villages and we should not hold a 22 million hostage for the sake of returning this small piece of land’
Would’ve been different if the population was not druze?, What was his cut-off number of villages or population to be ‘worth it’!!! How pathetic

April 27th, 2011, 12:58 am


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