“Syrian Corruption” by Lina Sinjab; Tourism and Preserving Syrian Heritage; Stateless Kurds

An excellent and hard hitting report on Corruption by Lina Sinjab. (Interviews with Jihad Yazigi, `Arif Dalila, and many more)

Syrian corruption
Listen now (30 minutes)
Mon, 10 Jan 2011, 20:30 on BBC Radio 4

Corruption in Syria is commonplace. You can see it almost everywhere you go: from a small tip for a government worker to process paperwork, to customs officials requiring payments to allow goods into the country. The single-party government says it’s stamping out corruption and that it’s determined not to let it stand in the way of the country’s economic development. But with economic reforms opening Syria up to foreign investment, it’s claimed corruption is getting worse. And those who raise the issue in public can find themselves thrown in jail.

The BBC’s Damascus correspondent Lina Sinjab investigates the impact of corruption and bribery in the country, and looks at whether Syria’s drive to modernise is being hampered by the millions of dollars lost in graft…..

Preserving Heritage, and the Fabric of Life, in Syria
December 26, 2010

ALEPPO, Syria — At first glance it seems an unremarkable scene: a quiet plaza shaded by date palms in the shadow of this city’s immense medieval Citadel, newly restored to its looming power. Foreign tourists sit side by side with people whose families have lived here for generations; women, both veiled and unveiled, walk arm in arm past a laborer hauling tools into an old government building being converted into a hotel.

But this quiet plaza is the centerpiece of one of the most far-thinking preservation projects in the Middle East, one that places as much importance on people as it does on the buildings they live in. The project encompasses the rebuilding of crumbling streets and the upgrading of city services, the restoration of hundreds of houses in the historic Old City, plans for a 42-acre park in one of the city’s poorest neighborhoods and the near-decade-long restoration of the Citadel itself, whose massive walls dominate the skyline of Aleppo, one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities in the world, and a gem of Islamic architecture.

The effort, led by a German nonprofit group and the Aga Khan Trust for Culture working with local government, is the culmination of a major philosophical shift among preservationists in the region. It seeks to reverse a 50-year history during which preservation, by myopically focusing on restoring major architectural artifacts, sometimes destroyed the communities around them. Other restoration efforts have also sparked gentrification, driving the poor from their homes and, at their worst, fostering rage that plays into the hands of militants.

By offering an array of financial and zoning incentives to homeowners and shopkeepers, this approach has already helped stabilize impoverished communities in a part of the world where the most effective social programs for the poor are often still run by extremist organizations like Hezbollah and the Muslim Brotherhood.

“The project in Aleppo is quite an exceptional model,” said Daniele Pini, a preservationist who has worked for Unesco, the United Nations cultural arm, throughout the region. In places like Cairo and Jordan, he said, those who would restore historic buildings and those who live in them are often at loggerheads. The Aleppo plan, he said, “allows people to adapt the old houses to the needs of modern life.”

Correcting Past Blunders ….

Syria a bright star in the Middle East
Tourism is on the upswing in Syria, with a more modern government, lavish hotels sprouting up and cuisine and culture evolving in striking ways.
December 26, 2010, latimes.com

Syria, in the ancient heart of the Middle East, used to be rough, insular, politically extreme and all but off the map for travelers. Now, with a more forward-looking government, tourism increasing by almost 50% a year and opulent new hotels opening by the score, the luster is back on the magic lamp, making Syria one of the world’s most compelling destinations for 2011.

Recent visitors from the U.S. report that the largely Sunni Muslim population receives non-Islamic Westerners courteously, that tourists are allowed to shop and browse without annoyance from hard-selling touts and merchants, and that culture, cuisine and the arts in the former French colony have developed in strikingly stylish ways.

Other Syrian attractions are of much longer standing, beginning with the 4,000-year-old capital Damascus, once the richest city in the Arab world and paradise on Earth, according to the prophet Mohammed….

Stateless Kurds in Syria
By Taghee Moas
“Journalism in the Field: A blog about Syria, its Kurdish minority and their Human Rights situation”

The stateless Kurds of Syria and the UN’s position of non-intervention and neglect…..

Comments (7)

Norman said:

There are two kinds of corruption in Syria , small level corruption by government employees who accept bribes to survive as their salary is not adequate to as Ehsani always said , to buy Falafel for his family and that can be corrected by raising the salaries of the civil workers and police and impose fees on paper work that need to be done and use that money for the salary increase , in the same time , have a hot line that people can file complains which are investigated by the local prosecutor of the county ( Muhafaza ) and his assistants , undercover operations can be used to weed out offenders , that can be only successful if salaries are raised and are adequate as we can not expect government employees to starve with their families , one other way to raise revenue is to get rid of useless workers who get paid and sign in and sign out without contribution or work,

About high level corruption in contracts , that can be also corrected by close bid system where all qualified bidder expect to have their bids opened at the same time in front a committee of at least 13 people who are knowledgeable in the project so they can go through the bids , the best bid will be chosen and published in the official news paper with 30 days waiting period for challenge from the other bidders if they want , no conspiracy is allowed between the bidder so assignments of bids between the bidder can not happen and having 13 in the committee makes it difficult to bribe everybody ,

The people who give bribes and the people who receive them will be prosecuted and their names will be published and shamed in the media ,

These are practical things that can be implemented and work , I have been hearing about the corruption in Syria since the seventies , people always complain , now that is a plan , i believe , can work and it is time to do not just talk .

December 30th, 2010, 10:00 pm


hans said:

BBC and its correspondent should investigate corruption in their own back yard, how about starting with the “The City”, relationship between directorship and politics. I am sure what is happening in Syria is small fry and more or less excepted/tolerated in Syria

January 1st, 2011, 9:39 am


ARTH said:

Corruption in Syria, and many other countries such as Egypt or Mexico, is an integral and structural process of its way of life. Many people take bribes because their salaries are far below living wages, even for their modest standards-of-living. The people who deal with them also consider bribes as an integral part of their way-of-life.
Eliminating “corruption” means eliminating the real as opposed to “on paper” wages of many people. That would be its immediate and immediately-felt implication.

January 2nd, 2011, 8:28 am


baddour said:

Did not know corruption and nepotism was such an issue in Tunisia. Other Arab countries should watch what’s happening there and take notice.

January 14th, 2011, 9:45 am


Shami said:

Baddour , the tunisian society is the most advanced one in the arab world and the tunisian regime deserves some credit for important reforms especially for the sake of women rights and in the educational field.Now ,the time is over for such leadership in the world and i hope that tunisian people will succeed in overthrowing dictature once for all and build a modern democracy ,tunisia would open the way for the other arab people.
Stubborn corrupt dictators have no other choice ,either they will be toppled from outside or their people will topple them.

January 14th, 2011, 12:17 pm


Off the Wall said:

The credit goes to the late bourgeibeh not to Bin Ali and his corrupt family. The devastation wrought on Tunisian Ethos by the corruption of his wife’s family and 4 other influential families is legendary. But today is the beginning.

You are absolutely right, the Tunisian people are the most advanced amongst us. They have proven it over and over again, and today they take the leadership for the first real post independence arab revolution, unlike the string of military coups masking themselves as revolutions for two generations now.

The first fear they concurred is the fear of power vacuum,which is what Arab dictators have been digging into our brains as the most fearsome enemy. Granted, there may be some chaos for a while in the streets, but may their hard fought revolution come to the fruitful conclusion they and all of us deserve.

Funny that SC threads have been silent about the simmering story in Tunisia for nearly a month now. I sat watching and as if Tunisia is not on the map or does not exist. My god, how afraid are we ?……

I am disappointed.

January 14th, 2011, 4:49 pm


Shami said:

Dear Otw ,
You are right the credit goes to Bourguiba but despite the corruption of the ex-dictator family , Tunisia’s development has been boosted in the 90’s .Among the arab dictators there are the average ,the bad and the worse.
We have those of worse kind ,whereas Sultan Qabus of Oman ,Mohamad 6 of Morocco are belong to the average group.

January 15th, 2011, 7:03 am


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