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We blunder through prophesy / as if through sand

London art space The Mosaic Rooms have mounted a tribute (PDF brochure) to 81 year old Syrian poet, essayist, and now artist Adonis (born Ali Ahmad Said Asbar). The poet's relevance in the era of the Arab Spring has been questioned, but many still considered Adonis a top candidate to win a Nobel in poetry (Tomas Tranströmer edged him out last year).
posted by aught on Feb 10, 2012 - 0 comments

Responsibility to protect?

"I saw bodies of women and children lying on roads, beheaded." At least 260 people were killed last night in a government assault on Homs, the epicenter of the Syrian uprising. This came right before a key UN vote to support the Arab League's plan to have President Bashar al-Assad hand over power to the vice president and hold early elections for a national unity government, which failed this morning with 13 in favor and a double veto by China and Russia. [more inside]
posted by lullaby on Feb 4, 2012 - 252 comments

Photographs of Palmyra

Photographs and more photographs of the ancient city of Palmyra, seat of the Palmyrene Empire and home to Queen Zenobia.
posted by Rumple on Dec 15, 2011 - 13 comments

#OpSyria : Telecomix vs. Assad

BlueCoat Systems (Sunnyvale, CA) has been exposed selling surveillance equipment to the Syrian government in violation of U.S. trade embargoes. The Telecomix hacktivist 'cluster' anonymized and released 54 gigabytes of Syrian censorship log data, collected from seven of the fifteen Bluecoat SG-9000 proxies used by Syrian government telco and ISP STE. Telecomix has also been providing Syrians with Tor and VPNs, offering support via IRC (#telecomix, #opsyria), and providing DNS service for The Pirate Bay. (see also : reflets.info tags opsyria and telecomix) [more inside]
posted by jeffburdges on Oct 12, 2011 - 29 comments

An unusual place for a polemicist.

There is no right answer.
Damned if we do impose sanctions on Syria. And damned if we don't.
Foreign companies are enriching Assad's brutal regime – but even the Syrian people are divided on the issue of sanctions.
This piece was written by George Monbiot after he had publicly asked for feedback What do you think – should we impose sanctions on Syria?
The moral line is unclear, but I'm writing a column next week about this issue and would appreciate some of your input.
Useful background : Geopolitics of the 2011 Syrian Uprising. Some voices from the street. (Previous 1; 2; 3; 4 ).
posted by adamvasco on Sep 20, 2011 - 32 comments

Amnesty International on Assad's Bloody Crackdown

Deadly detention: Deaths in custody amid popular protest in Syria “These deaths behind bars are reaching massive proportions, and appear to be an extension of the same brutal disdain for life that we are seeing daily on the streets of Syria,” said Neil Sammonds, Amnesty International’s researcher on Syria. “The accounts of torture we have received are horrific. We believe the Syrian government to be systematically persecuting its own people on a vast scale.”
posted by joannemullen on Aug 31, 2011 - 67 comments

"For the sake of the Syrian people, the time has come for President Assad to step aside."

Obama calls on Assad to step down. The US and EU announce sanctions on Assad's regime. The New York Times looks at the resistence in Homs. Al Jazeera has an ongoing Syrian Live blog. Enduring America continues to cover the Arab Spring.
posted by empath on Aug 18, 2011 - 65 comments

Who is Reem Haddad?

"It's a bit like having a problem in your street, and your mum lives in the next street, so you go and visit your mum for a bit." - - Reem Haddad, Spokesperson for Syrian Information Ministry explaining that refugees are 'not fleeing to Turkey' [more inside]
posted by Surfurrus on Jun 10, 2011 - 28 comments

Who is Amina?

Amina Arraf, A Gay Girl In Damascus was reported missing yesterday. (Previously on the Blue). Pleas for information as to her whereabouts have been widely circulating through Twitter and Facebook. And then, the plot thickened. [more inside]
posted by norm on Jun 8, 2011 - 287 comments

Is Syria approaching meltdown.

Syria vows to retaliate after attack on police and security forces in the North West kills 120
However there is a big gap between the media in Syria and what is happening in the street.
It is reported that blogger Amina Abdallah (Previously) has been kidnapped.
The Portrait of a tortured, murdered and mutilated 13 year old boy has become a rallying point for the uprising.
The Syrian regime has raised ghosts that will not go away indicating Alawite hit squads protected by the army.
There are cracks in the House of Assad and as is becoming normal in these situations communication with the outside world is fractured.
There is also the danger of the unrest spreading into Lebanon where the black-market price of an AK-47 rifle is now said to be $1,500.
posted by adamvasco on Jun 7, 2011 - 77 comments

She is not the one you should fear.

Amina A. is a Gay Girl in Damascus. On Tuesday, she was visited by the Syrian security services.
posted by Rumple on Apr 27, 2011 - 71 comments

Dictator Chic

February 25, 2011: Vogue calls her "a rose in the desert": "Asma al-Assad is glamorous, young, and very chic—the freshest and most magnetic of first ladies." (Wikipedia about her husband: "He has been criticized for his disregard for human rights, economic lapses, sponsorship of terrorism, and corruption.") [more inside]
posted by iviken on Feb 27, 2011 - 25 comments

The Secret Life Of Syrian Lingerie

"The more religious an area is, the more risqué the underwear becomes. I think that Muslim women have less freedom on the outside so to compensate they have more freedom on the inside." Journalist Malu Halasa and designer Rana Salam have produced a tome on "the most outrageous lingerie in the world."
posted by artof.mulata on Feb 13, 2011 - 30 comments

Omar Souleyman, Syrian street folk-pop

Omar Souleyman, is the Dabke Demon. Dabke is that wild line dancing thing they start doing 30 seconds in. Mahmoud Harbi (at 0:47) is the man who follows Omar around on stage, whispering lyrics in his ear.
posted by nickyskye on Oct 23, 2010 - 18 comments

The Maltese Double Cross

A documentary about Pan AM flight 103A. [MLYT] [more inside]
posted by marienbad on Sep 7, 2010 - 9 comments

A chance for a Middle East peace

Syria Calling: The Obama Administration’s chance to engage in a Middle East peace.
posted by homunculus on Mar 30, 2009 - 17 comments

Rome's Tremendous Tunnel

The Ancient World's Longest Underground Aqueduct. "Roman engineers chipped an aqueduct through more than 100 kilometers of stone to connect water to cities in the ancient province of Syria. The monumental effort took more than a century, says the German researcher who discovered it." How Did the Romans Accomplish Such a Feat? [Via]
posted by homunculus on Mar 24, 2009 - 25 comments

“There’s culture shock, and then there’s the culture shock of moving to a country that started a war in your home.”

"The war has uprooted 4.7 million people from their homes. So where are they?" With the election of Obama and the economic crisis, the topic of Iraq has fallen by the wayside. As hard as things may be right now, Iraqis have been going through far worse for years now. If you're curious about what they have to say, hear them tell it in their own words. Iraqi Refugee Stories. [more inside]
posted by wander on Mar 23, 2009 - 16 comments

Digital Archaeological Atlas of the Holy Land

The Digital Archaeological Atlas of the Holy Land is a comprehensive spatially-referenced database of current archaeological knowledge of all periods of Levantine history and prehistory. Spatial search is a good entry point, as are the Palestine Exploration Fund historic maps. You can also search by time period or dig into the many ancient Empires of the area. Or just look at everything in the database. The site is a work in progress, but a cool one powered by a consortium of over 30 professional archaeologists. May require Google Maps. via
posted by Rumple on Mar 3, 2009 - 4 comments

Syria's business

"US helicopter raid" in Syria. Could this be an October Surprise? Many have hinted this election's October Surprise will be the capture of Osama Bin Ladin or a resurgence of terrorist activity. As we recall, news media had jumped on a McCain Aide who claimed a terrorist attack would benefit McCain in the Election.
posted by Bathtub Bobsled on Oct 27, 2008 - 91 comments

IDF Hit Syrian Nuke Site Built with NK Help

According to the English language edition of the Asahi Shimbun, an Israeli airstrike against Syria last September targeted a nuclear-related facility that was under construction with technical assistance from North Korea, according to Israel's prime minister...It is apparently the first time that the intended target had been disclosed to the head of a foreign government. Original Japanese link here. Via the wonderful Marmot's Hole. [more inside]
posted by KokuRyu on Apr 1, 2008 - 14 comments

Life in the Enclave

The SY Empire: A rare and fascinating look inside the secretive Syrian Jewish community of Brooklyn, which has drawn a bright line against assimilation called the Edict that casts out for life any "SY" who marries a gentile, even if they convert. (Crazy Eddie -- who knew? Seinfeld's mom -- who knew? Isaac Misrahi -- who knew? "J-Dubs" -- who knew?)
posted by digaman on Oct 15, 2007 - 84 comments

Israel pwns Syrian RADAR with US-supplied infowar software

Report: Israel 'blinded' Syrian radar. After Israeli missile strike on Syria confirmed by both sides, the question remains – how did Israel's non-stealth jets infiltrate Syrian airspace undetected? US aerospace experts tell Aviation Week magazine that Israel used new US-developed technology that lets users invade and manipulate enemy communication networks.
posted by scalefree on Oct 9, 2007 - 55 comments

The Sad Story of Zahra al-Azzo

Zahra al-Azzo was murdered by her brother last January in a horrible, but all-too-common Syrian honor killing. Public outcry at her murder is growing.
posted by felix betachat on Sep 25, 2007 - 22 comments

Netanyahu Speaks

Looks like someone finally broke down: Netanyahu speaks about the Israeli air strike in Syria.
posted by alona on Sep 20, 2007 - 12 comments

Israel's Syria 'raid' remains a mystery

Israel not talking. Syria says little. US silent. Syria claimed it chased away the Israeli plane. But since then Syria has said nothing. Nor has Israel. And this news item from BBC says that the intrusion into Syrian airspace is a mystery. But why would N. Korea, Syria, Israel and the US be so reticent to comment? Perhaps because Israel took out a nuke site
posted by Postroad on Sep 13, 2007 - 83 comments

Leaving home...

Riverbend resurfaces in Syria
posted by dinsdale on Sep 6, 2007 - 36 comments

Forty years on.

Forty years on. After a quick buildup, the Six Day War started 40 years ago today and reshaped the Middle East. At the time, Israel's quick win looked like a triumph, but after 40 years the war is still being fought and it looks like it may have been a pyrrhic victory.
posted by kirkaracha on Jun 5, 2007 - 157 comments

Vancouver woman missing in Syria

Vancouver woman missing in Syria. Nicole Vienneau has gone missing while travelling in Syria. Her brother, Matthew, has started a blog in hopes of gathering information about what's happened to her. Information has already started coming in from other travellers about her last known whereabouts. via Matthew's interview on CBC radio this morning.
posted by GuyZero on May 7, 2007 - 67 comments

Doing our homework on the Middle East

22 basic suggested readings on the Middle East from history professor and informed commenter on Middle Eastern affairs Juan Cole.
posted by LobsterMitten on Mar 7, 2007 - 37 comments

Paying installments.

What's the best way to pick up girls in Damascus?
posted by three blind mice on Jan 31, 2007 - 34 comments

beirut dispatch

Murder Update: "Syria's Lebanese allies are trying to undermine the Hariri investigation from within, and are expected to escalate their efforts very soon, maybe even this week."
posted by kliuless on Nov 21, 2006 - 8 comments

Mr President your mike is still on!

In this episode of the George & Tony Show the President and the Prime Minister are in Russia eating brie, discussing geopolitics, leaving their mics open, and whatnot.
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane on Jul 17, 2006 - 139 comments

These are not the Reditioned Canadiens your looking for

What you get when a Cars Salesman is your Ambassador Do you get the idea that this whole administration is new to this whole diplomacy thing It seems the only way the truth is admitted is under glaring pressure by our allies.
posted by Elim on Dec 27, 2005 - 48 comments

USA! USA!

US-Made Suicide Bombs - These are by US military, law enforcement agencies or commercial security firms - whether for training or marketing or spooking the public
posted by growabrain on Nov 30, 2005 - 20 comments

the politics of handshakes

Handshakes are an important: They've signaled new eras in international relations, but this week they reaffirmed the sad realities of our time.
posted by trinarian on Apr 9, 2005 - 15 comments

Why spoil a war plan with facts?

Who really killed Rafik Hariri? Does it really matter? Is the current finger-waving at Syria really about an assassination, or the culmination of long-held US plans?
posted by clevershark on Mar 9, 2005 - 22 comments

Iran & Syria to form alliance

Iran and Syria to form an alliance? Yeah, I know it's just been touched upon, but considering the specter of this (whether it is or is not ominous)....
posted by malaprohibita on Feb 16, 2005 - 27 comments

Former Lebanese PM killed

Former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri was killed Monday in a massive car bomb attack in Beirut. The billionare was Lebanese PM from 1992 until 1998 and then again from 2000 until 2004 when he resigned after Syria pressured the Lebanese parliament to amend the country's constitution to permit pro-Syrian president Emile Lahoud to remain in office. The resignation of the once friendly Hariri, a Sunni, coupled with the alienation by Damascus of Druze leader Walid Jumblat has isolated Syria in Lebanon and diminished the influence of France. Through the Hariri foundation, Rafik Hariri was, as a Lebanese friend remarked "pretty much single handed in rebuilding Lebanon, making it a descent place to visit, developing programs from schools to hospitals, … much of it is his own money." Fingers point at Syrian involvement and the US has recalled it's envoy from Damascus.
posted by three blind mice on Feb 16, 2005 - 18 comments

Spreading democracy with death squads?

The Salvador Option --sending Special Forces teams to advise, support and possibly train Iraqi squads, to target Sunni insurgents and their sympathizers, even across the border into Syria, in imitation of our actions in El Salvador. It remains unclear, however, whether this would be a policy of assassination or so-called "snatch" operations, in which the targets are sent to secret facilities for interrogation. More here, including this: In Iraq, in fact, as in many other places where the United States has tried to train ethical armies to fight dirty wars, the Iraqi troops are tacitly expected to do what American troops won’t. A fundamental purpose of the upcoming elections on January 30 is to create democratic legitimacy for whatever extreme measures the newly organized military decides to take.
posted by amberglow on Jan 14, 2005 - 18 comments

Is Syria next?

Is Syria next? Or understanding the Syria Accountability Act. Interesting criticisms by Rep. David E. Price, who voted for it but with certain reservations here.
posted by skallas on Oct 20, 2003 - 17 comments

Bush stops war plans for Syria

No war in Syria? It appears not, as the US president has blocked the Pentagon from making preparations for an invasion. Is this for real, or is it merely a ploy to sway international opinion?
posted by fnord_prefect on Apr 14, 2003 - 36 comments

Freedom, Connecticut-Style

"We believe there are chemical weapons in Syria" President Bush gets ready to liberate Syria.
posted by four panels on Apr 13, 2003 - 132 comments

Export Restrictions on a website?

Export Restrictions on a website? I had to agree to this before downloading stuff from Oracle:
I am not a citizen, national or resident of, and am not under the control of, the government of: Cuba, Iran, Sudan, Iraq, Libya, North Korea, Syria, nor any other country to which the United States has prohibited export.
posted by arnab on Sep 10, 2002 - 10 comments

Official confirms that Syria allowing Qaida to operate in Lebanon

Official confirms that Syria allowing Qaida to operate in Lebanon Ok Israeli intelligence so I assume some will dismiss this as propaganda, though clearly US knows of this and works along with Israeli intelligence. And Syria occupies Lebanon with thousands of troops and thus runs the country. Meanwhile, we will (or will not) busy ourselves with Iraq.
posted by Postroad on Sep 2, 2002 - 17 comments

A Peace to End All Peace:

A Peace to End All Peace: The Fall of the Ottoman Empire and the Creation of the Modern Middle East by David Fromkin. Ever wonder how the Middle East got so screwed up to start with? It all happened in an eight year time span, 1914-1922. The destruction of the Ottoman Empire laid the foundation for over half of the current conflicts in the world. Coupled with Huntingtons' Clash of Civilizations, this book does more to explain WTF went wrong.
posted by Mack Twain on Jul 20, 2002 - 13 comments

Syria takes over Security Council rotating presidency

Syria takes over Security Council rotating presidency Now at long last we can get some good moral leadership. This is the same international organization of Truth, Peace, Justice that does not allow Israel a chance to join the rotating chair. Go ahead, flail me with posts, but kind of an organization is this?
posted by Postroad on Jun 1, 2002 - 11 comments

Beyond the Axis of Evil

Beyond the Axis of Evil - The United States has added Cuba, Libya and Syria to its "axis of evil" - nations it claims are deliberately seeking to obtain chemical or biological weapons. The Under Secretary of State also warned that the US would take action.
posted by Stuart_R on May 6, 2002 - 53 comments

America Can Persuade Israel to Make a Just Peace

America Can Persuade Israel to Make a Just Peace An op-ed piece by former president Jimmy Carter that is going to get a lot of play in the media. Unfortunately, Mr. Carter seems to suggest a rather easy solution: give back the Palestinian lands and have the Palestinians recognize Israel's right to exist. Put the pressure on Israel by withhold financial aid till they do as we bid. Problem: Palestinians being subsidized by Iraq, Iran, EU and Syria. What about pressure on them? And: Palelstinian issues still in need of resolving: capital and Right of Return....with this left out, we are still not going to get peace. Does Carter simplify or is he on target? reg reqd.
posted by Postroad on Apr 21, 2002 - 33 comments

Middle East war predictions

Middle East war predictions "..what we are witnessing looks like joint preparations by the Palestinian Authority, Syria, its Lebanese client, Iraq, and Iran, for war on a regional scale, against both Israel and U.S. interests. I fear we may face a major, sudden, external assault on Israel, meant to precede U.S. action against the Saddam Hussein regime in Iraq, and indeed prevent the U.S. from going there by enmiring it in the defence of Israel. [From The Ottowa Citizen, lead link in today's Wall Street Journal Best of the Web]
posted by Voyageman on Mar 27, 2002 - 14 comments

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