As President Bashar al-Assad’s forces disintegrate, the Syrian civil war is devolving into a battle between Sunni rebel groups and Alawite-dominated militias fighting in support of the old regime. This may increase the rebels’ chances of victory, but it also means that the work to rebuild Syria after Assad falls will be even more challenging. Continue reading →
As it happens, it was the Rushdie affair that inspired the book in the first place. The essay writing contest was the idea of the Ammar Abdulhamid, a US-educated Syrian who became disillusioned with radical Islam after the fatwa issued against Rushdie by Iran. He pointed out to the American Islamic Congress that while the Muslim world had vast, well-organised networks of people pushing extremist visions, nobody was doing the same thing for liberal ideas. “What we need is an essay contest on liberty with significant cash prizes,” he said.
“To Assad, the rallies spurred by the Islam-bashing film were heaven-sent: they have given credence to his claims that the Arab Spring is at heart an Islamist spring and that al Qaeda and its affiliates will be empowered as a result,” says Ammar Abdulhamid, a Syrian activist based in America. “Meanwhile, the rallies have also distracted international attention from the current mayhem unfolding in Syria, and they might give pause to any calls for intervention.”
Ammar Abdulhamid may know more about Syria’s civil war than anyone else in the world. That’s no exaggeration. An pro-democratic oppositionist living abroad, Abdulhamid has functioned on a virtual 24/7 basis as the source of news and analysis about events within Syria, always trying to be honest and accurate in his assessments regardless of his own preferences. Barry Rubin, PJMedia Middle East editor, interviewed Abdulhamid on the latest developments and trends. Continue reading →
Unbeknownst to most Americans, reports suggest that the rebels fighting Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad may have taken control of a growing portion of the country, and may now be closer to wresting it away from him altogether. While some Syrian soldiers have defected to Turkey, many more are deserting, or simply refusing to fight. Is Assad’s central authority breaking down? Are new power brokers emerging? If so, how can the United States and its allies prevent further humanitarian catastrophe? Continue reading →
Ammar Abduhamid is a liberal Syrian pro-democracy activist whose anti-regime activities led to his exile in September, 2005. He currently lives in Silver Spring, Maryland, with his wife, Khawla Yusuf, and their two children, Oula (b.1986) and Mouhanad (b. 1990). He is the founder of the Tharwa Foundation, a nonprofit organization dedicated to promoting democracy, and is currently a fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies. His personal blog is the Syrian Revolution Digest. Continue reading →