That Iraq Feeling Comes to Syria

The Rawda cafe in the center of Damascus is reputed to be an opposition hangout, and not many patrons are given to defending the Syrian government. The increasing international pressure from the UN investigation into the killing of former Lebanese prime minister Rafiq Hariri has brought widespread dismay among the tea-sipping and backgammon playing crowd. … Continue reading “That Iraq Feeling Comes to Syria”

Referendum Will Change Little

BEIRUT – Iraqis will vote this weekend in a referendum that is billed as decisive for their political future, and by extension crucial for restoring order in their violence-wracked country. But the country’s leaders and also the main mover behind the political process, the Bush administration, may find that the cycle of violence and political … Continue reading “Referendum Will Change Little”

Syrian’s Suicide Leads to Turmoil

BEIRUT – The death of Syria’s interior minister Ghazi Kanaan in Damascus Wednesday has raised new tensions ahead of the publication of the UN report on the murder of Lebanon’s former prime minister Rafik Hariri. The report is expected next week. Kanaan and other members of Syria’s ruling circles had come under increasing pressure in … Continue reading “Syrian’s Suicide Leads to Turmoil”

Syria: A New Iraq in the Making

DAMASCUS – Syria is almost visibly wilting under a double American onslaught. The Bush administration made it clearer than ever this week that it regards Syria as an important source of unrest in Iraq. At the same time President George Bush made hardly any attempt to hide his conviction that Syria was involved in the … Continue reading “Syria: A New Iraq in the Making”

Beirut: It Takes a Long Time to Undo Destruction

BEIRUT – This is a city marked by a civil war and molded by divisions that still run deep within the country and through the fabric of society. With typical Lebanese gusto, much has been done over the past 15 years to repair the physical damage, but much more has been done to gloss over … Continue reading “Beirut: It Takes a Long Time to Undo Destruction”

Lebanon Has That Civil War Feeling Again

BEIRUT – Lebanon has not really had the occasion yet to enjoy the departure of Syrian troops and the victory of anti-Syrian groups in the parliamentary elections last month. The country is facing a period of political and economic upheaval almost unparalleled since the end of the 1975-1990 civil war. This week, a fifth bomb … Continue reading “Lebanon Has That Civil War Feeling Again”

Iraq’s Democratic Engine Not Turning Over

Now that Sunni Arabs have been included, Iraq’s parliamentary committee that is drafting the new constitution is the closest to an elected, representative body that the country has ever seen. In the two months that the committee now has to come up with the draft and in the referendum that will follow in October, it … Continue reading “Iraq’s Democratic Engine Not Turning Over”

Aoun Becoming Kingmaker, Maybe President

BEIRUT – Lebanon’s formerly anti-Syrian General Michel Aoun is on the verge of outmaneuvering the country’s main anti-Syrian opposition alliance. All eyes are now on the last round of Lebanon’s four-stage parliamentary elections, next Sunday in the north. A spokesman for Aoun conceded that the "general," as his followers still call him, now has a … Continue reading “Aoun Becoming Kingmaker, Maybe President”

Syria: All Set for a Great Shuffle Forward?

DAMASCUS – As Syria’s Ba’ath Party gathers in Damascus to grapple with the issue of reforms, delegates may not have the luxury of quiet contemplation that the country’s president Bashar Assad urged on them during his opening speech on Monday. While Assad warned delegates to the meeting of the so-called Regional Command of his "Arab … Continue reading “Syria: All Set for a Great Shuffle Forward?”

Gaza Moves Into Unsettling Times

GUSH KATIF, Gaza Strip – Israel’s government last week postponed the implementation of its withdrawal from the Gaza Strip for three weeks, ostensibly to take into account an annual Jewish period of mourning. One look around the settlements and a few conversations with some people there confirm what has been mooted as an alternative explanation … Continue reading “Gaza Moves Into Unsettling Times”