Assad Is Speaking

Friday, December 12, 2003

By: Nir Boms and Erick Stakelbeck

In his three-and-a-half years as Syrian President, 38-year-old Bashar al-Assad has been called many things by U.S. officials. Misunderstood is not one of them.
Yet, if Assad’s recent comments to the New York Times are any indication, the U.S. has it all wrong when it comes to the Syrian dictator. In a wide-ranging interview published in the November 30th edition of the Times, Assad ‘in what undoubtedly came as a great surprise to the hundreds of political dissidents languishing in Syrian prisons’ spoke of taking ‘better steps towards democracy.’ View full post…

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Inside Syria’s Gulag

By Nir Boms
FrontPageMagazine.com | May 26, 2004

On May 11, in accordance with the Syria Accountability Act, President Bush imposed new political and economic sanctions on Syria. The Syrian government, not surprisingly, was quick to condemn this move, calling the sanctions “unjust and unjustified,” and portraying Syria as a “democratic country that fights terrorism.”

While this sort of pro-democracy rhetoric has been a staple of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s four-year tenure, the story of Aktham Na’eesah-a lawyer, activist, and the recent laureate of the prestigious “Ludovic Trarieux” award for his distinct human rights work-provides a glimpse into the Syria’s “democratic” reality. View full post…

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The Culture of Tyranny

Despite UN Designation, Arab Culture Deserves Better ‘Capital’ Than Syria

published in ThreatsWatch.org

By Guest Contributors Nir Boms and Jonathan Spyer

The ancient city of Damascus received another mark of recognition last week. Following in the wake of Liverpool – which was recognized as the European Capital of Culture, and Stavanger in Norway, which was named the non-EU European Capital of Culture, UNESCO last week designated Damascus as the Arab Capital of Culture for 2008.

In a speech celebrating this decision, Syrian President Bashar Assad chose to highlight a very specific element of his capital city’s culture – namely, Damascus’s self-appointed role as the center of Arab ‘resistance.’ “Damascus is the capital of resistance culture by symbolizing Arab culture” he declared, and went on to define ‘resistance culture’ as “the culture of freedom and defending freedom.” View full post…

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“Is Anyone Listening?”

November 21, 2003, 9:08

By Nir Boms & Erick Stakelbeck

“The advance of freedom is the calling of our time; it is the calling of our country.”

With this statement, made in his November 6, 2003, speech calling for the establishment of democracy in the Middle East, President Bush galvanized an increasingly active contingent of Syrian democracy advocates. The Reform Party of Syria (RPS) – a fledgling, U.S.-based political movement comprised of resident Syrians and Syrians living abroad – was formed shortly after 9/11 to express a voice that has been virtually nonexistent in Syria during 40 years of oppressive Baath-party rule: a voice of freedom. For members of RPS, Bush’s castigation of “dictators in Iraq and Syria” who “promised the restoration of national honor [and] left instead a legacy of torture, oppression, misery, and ruin” provided a source of hope for a new Syria, one free from extremism, terror, and iron-fisted rule.

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