Tharwa Founder Testifies Before Congressional Human Rights Caucus

September 2008

On September 24, the Congressional Human Rights Caucus hosted an event entitled “Syrian Human Rights Policies in Syria and Toward Lebanese”. The event, moderated by Congressional Human Rights Caucus Executive Director Hans Hogrefe, featured testimony from Ali Abou Dehn, a Lebanese political detainee, Kamal El Batal, the Director of Human Rights for the World Council of the Cedars Revolution and Ammar Abdulhamid, Executive Director of the Tharwa Foundation. Continue reading


On April 24, 2008, I became the first Syrian citizen to deliver a testimony in the U.S. Congress. My co-panelists included my colleagues from the Brookings Institution: Martin Indyk and Peter Rodman. In the testimony I try to set the record straight on the deteriorating internal situation in Syria focusing on Assad’s weakening grip and signs of growing popular discontent. The text of the testimony can be found below, and also on the House Foreign Affairs Committee website. Continue reading

Of Exile, Guilt and Messianic Aspirations

Witness Magazine, Volume XX, 2006 – Special Issue: Exile in America

Guilt is a would-be messiah’s constant companion, so, naturally, as a man mired in messianic expectations, – and how could a liberal heretic working within the context of a traditional Arab-Muslim society not be so afflicted? – I am riddled with guilt.

Now guilt is quite the interesting emotion. One can feel it both for acting and for refraining from action. But things can get a little more complex when one examines the motives involved.  Continue reading

Engaging Syria – Opportunity or Ambush?

The following is a bullet-point summary of my recent presentation at the Saban Center for Middle East Policy at the Brookings Institution. The “other side,” so to speak was represented by my favorite sparring partner Joshua Landis.

* Just as is case with military engagement, political engagement has its rules. The following is one such rule: when dealing with corrupt authoritarian regimes, especially when they seem to have some ideological motivation, no matter how minimal, you do not give more than you take, lest you end up creating a problem in the future that is bigger than the one you were trying to resolve. Continue reading

Secularists & Islamists – The Promise & the Dread

This is the paper that I have prepared during my second stint as a visiting fellow at the Brookings Institution (October 2005-March 2006). It, too, was too whimsical for publication as a Brookings policy paper. So, here it is.  Continue reading

Managing Transition: Few Guidelines For A Velvet Revolution In Syria

Towards A Jasmine Revolution in Syria

(The paper was also presented during an opposition conference that was held in Washington, D.C. in late January, 2006)

The preceding four decades of the history of our country have been marked by tyrannical rule, unbridled corruption and gross mismanagement on part of the ruling military junta and their civilian lackeys. The last five years in particular have witnessed much political and economic adventurism by our current rulers, the so-called New Guard, with their policies leading to a further narrowing down of the power base of the regime. Indeed, it has become obvious now that the decision-making process was, in effect, reduced to a small and corrupt clique centered on the President and his immediate family members and friends.  Continue reading