Holding Civil Society Workshops While Syria Burns

Quoted in Foreign Policy

“In truth, we are not talking about major expenditures here,” said Ammar Abdulhamid, a prominent Syrian activist and fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies in Washington, cautioning that OSOS was too new to assess its effectiveness.

Ammar Videos on the Freedom Collection Page!

Official Freedom Collection Page
Interviews were conducted in July 2011, but the site came online only in March 2012. 

Introduction

Ammar Abdulhamid is a Syrian human rights activist who in 2003 founded the Tharwa Foundation, a grassroots organization that enlists local activists and citizen journalists to document conditions in Syria. In response to his activities, the Syrian government subjected Abdulhamid to repeat interrogation and threats. In September 2005, he and his family were forced into exile in the United States. From his home in Maryland, Abdulhamid remains one of the leading bloggers and commentators on events in Syria through the Syrian Revolution DigestContinue reading

Activists Join Senators in Call for State Department Action on Internet Freedom

Senator Brownback promises a hold on nominations until State Department acts on appropriations

Washington, D.C. — Surrounded by front-line activists from Iran, China, Cuba, Syria, Tibet, and the Uyghur Region of East Turkestan, Senator Sam Brownback (R-Kansas) promised to put State Department nominations on hold until the Department follows Secretary Clinton’s January 21st Internet freedom speech with decisive action. “Those who have gathered here agree on one incredible fact:  That we have it within our power to tear down the firewalls of oppression, right now, by supporting technology that shatters the censorship apparatus of regimes worldwide,” Senator Brownback said at a March 18 press conference in the Capitol Visitors Center. 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

Breaking the Stalemate!

First posted on my short-lived blog Tharwalizations.

The various “color” and “flower” revolutions that have been taken place around the globe recently, in places like Georgia, the Ukraine and Kyrgyzstan, seems to be intricately connected to the workings of various American international NGOs. Moreover, the activities of these NGOs seem to reflect in many ways certain shifts in the US foreign policy and interests, and, in turn, the success or failure of the various revolutions seems to reflect these shifts as well. This is why the political convulsions of Uzbekistan (May 2005) and Azerbaijan (November 2005), for instance, did not result in such revolutions. Continue reading

The Enigma of Damascus

By JAMES BENNET – New York Times

Ammar Abdulhamid, 39,  runs the Tharwa Project, which tracks treatment of minorities in the region. He  had a fellowship at the Brookings Institution in Washington last fall, and he  has decorated his Damascus office with photographs from his walk to work along  Connecticut Avenue. One shows the American flag through the bare limbs of trees.  When I stopped by, he called the regime ”defunct” and the Baathists ”idiots”  and ”morons” while we were still settling into our seats. He saw no  alternative in civil society either. ”They all want a leader or a messiah,” he  said. He did not advocate ”bloody revolution,” he said. But he also said that  the civil strife accompanying regime change in Iraq might be the only way  forward in the region. ”Stagnation is killing our souls and our minds,” he  said. ”Hopefully, this baptism by blood and mayhem will teach us to cherish the  liberties.”