EU Probes Cigarette Deal That May Have Aided Syria

A quote in the Wall Street Journal:

The dissidents added that the Assad government uses cigarettes as a form of payment for the irregular military forces and militias, known as the shabeeha, who have had a central role in its violent crackdown. “Cigarettes are a favorite form of payment for the shabeeha,” said Ammar Abdulhamid, a Syrian dissident and human-rights activist based in Washington.

Syria and the Fallacies of the China Model

Published in my short-lived blog: Tharwalizations – Making Sense & Wealth of Difference 

Witnessing the reintroduction of the China Model into the scene of the political discouse surrounding Syria’s future comes as quite an alarming development. The Model was first introduced into the country’s political discourse in early 2000 by some Baath and other leftwing ideologues, but now it is being reintroduced by American right- and leftwing commentators seeking to further their anti-neocon diatribe, or avert blame over the worsening situation in Iraq – after all, it is never too early to begin campaigning for the next elections on behalf of your favorite party. Continue reading

The Elephant that Is Not in the Room, but Should Be!

Or, Where Are All the Entrepreneurs?

 

Very few entrepreneurs in the Arab World seem to be seriously interested in reform. Indeed, they can be heard every now and then in countries such as Syria, Sudan, Yemen and elsewhere, criticizing cumbersome government procedures, import/export regulations and the endemically corrupt bureaucracies, and calling for effective reforms of the country’s financial institutions. But that has been the extant of their “activism” so far. Politically speaking they continue to be missing in action, although they could probably generate more popular sympathy and endorsement, despite their known part in ongoing corruption schemes, than any of the existing opposition groups. Or, by joining or allying with some of the existing opposition groups they can probably bestow upon them a greater sense of legitimacy and credibility.  Continue reading

Desperate Moves!

What’s happening these days in Syria?


According to the local media and such nationalist outlets as al- Jazeerah, which continues to undermine itself as a source of credible news coverage, the Mehlis investigation is in shambles and Syria’s economy is stronger than ever, with more signs of openness and more business deals getting signed on a daily basis and more luxury restaurants and hotels getting establishedContinue reading

Syria’s Baath Party Urged on Economy

Quoted by the Associated Press

“We will know in the next few days whether this regime is committing suicide or whether it still has some survival instincts left,” said Ammar Abdulhamid, an analyst who returned recently from a six-month fellowship at the Washington-based Brookings Institution.

Michel Kilo, a pro-democracy activist, said Assad’s focus on the economy shows he is a proponent of the “Chinese model,” a reference to that country’s policy of liberalizing the economy while resisting political change.

Abdulhamid said the conference will likely aim to give Syrians a socio-economic package that will appeal to the grass roots.

“It’s the strategy of somebody desperately clinging to power,” he said. “There is so much lack of skill and know-how and so much corruption that they really cannot implement a good package.”