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.’ Continue reading “Assad Is Speaking”

A Syrian’s Struggle

 

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 Naeesah – a lawyer, activist, and the recent recipient of the prestigious Ludovic-Trarieux award for his human-rights work – provides a glimpse into the Syrian “democratic” reality.

Continue reading “A Syrian’s Struggle”

Axis or Not

May 19, 2004
By Nir Boms

As news of the Abu Ghraib scandal and Nicholas Berg’s beheading dominates the headlines, American media have all but ignored one of the most significant developments since President Bush’s now-famous 2002 “axis of evil” statement: the presidential signature on sanctions against Bashar al-Assad’s regime in Syria.

In accordance with the Syria Accountability Act, President Bush imposed sanctions on Syria for “supporting terrorism, continuing its occupation of Lebanon, pursuing weapons of mass destruction and missile programs, and undermining United States and international efforts with respect to the stabilization and reconstruction of Iraq.”

Continue reading “Axis or Not”

Assad Is Speaking

 

December 10, 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.” Citing his commitment to progress, he declared, “We [Syria] have to change…I don’t agree to stand still…We are moving forward slowly but steadily.” Assad’s paean to democracy followed similar remarks by Syrian Vice President Abdel-Halim Khaddam at the Ba’ath Party conference in November. Acknowledging that “regional and international developments require the (Syrian) government to adapt,” Khaddam promised that “the (Baa’th) party is studying the issue of developing its political thinking.”

Continue reading “Assad Is Speaking”