The day I met Syria’s Mr Big

One of the most feared men in Syria before his assassination, Assef Shawkat told me minority rights were a CIA invention.

guardian.co.uk, Tuesday 24 July 2012 07.58 EDT

“The country is not ready for revolutions and civil disobedience,” he told me.

“That’s your opinion,” I replied.

“We won’t imprison you and let your friends in America turn you into a hero.” Continue reading

THE STATE OF SYRIA UNDER THE ASSADS & PROSPECTS FOR CHANGE

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

It’s not always good to talk

guardian.co.uk

Recommendations to engage with Syria and Iran are a testament to how cut off the Western powers have become from the realities on the ground.

Despite frequent claims to the contrary, the fundamental problem in the Middle East is not intervention by the West. On the contrary, the real problem is that, for all their dabbling, the Western powers seem capable of neither war nor dialogue. This leaves everyone in the region at the mercy of the Middle East’s oppressive regimes and proliferating terrorists. Continue reading

The HISHee Rebellion!

The assassination of Pierre Gemayel is not some haphazard ill-timed event, but a carefully calculated one meant to help push Lebanon further and further along the path of internal implosion. And the HISH (Hezbollah-Iran-Syria-Hamas) Alliance is definitely to blame here, the particular considerations related to their particular decision-making and implantation strategies notwithstanding. Continue reading

Should The United States Engage Syria? A Saban Center Policy Forum Debate

The Saban Center for Middle East Policy hosted a debate on October 23, 2006 between Joshua Landis, assistant professor at the University of Oklahoma, and Ammar Abdulhamid, a Saban Center Nonresident Fellow, on whether the United States should engage with Syria. Martin S. Indyk, Director of the Saban Center, formerly Assistant Secretary of State for Near East Affairs and twice U.S. Ambassador to Israel, and Tamara Cofman Wittes, Saban Center Research Fellow and Director of the Arab Democracy and Development Program, chaired the event. Continue reading

Lions on Probation!

Yes, even if the ongoing inquiry into the assassination of former Lebanese PM, Rafic Hariri, should end up exonerating Syrian President Bashar al-Assad from duplicity in the ordering and planning thereof, the young lion and his regime should still be put on a certain probationary period before their relations with the rest of the world are normalized. Continue reading