The struggle for Syria’s soul

The struggle for Syria’s soul.

In her first article for NOW, my daughter Oula travels down memory lane to discuss the competition between Islamists and Baathists for control over Syria’s children’s minds and souls using the country’s educational system, a competition which, she argues convincingly, paved the way for the current showdown on the ground. Our struggle for liberty is “herculean,” indeed.

Of designs, mentors and the future

Istanbul / August 11, 2012

I saw change coming in region because life hates stagnation and the rest of the world won’t wait for us to change on our own pace. The only question I had in this regard was whether change will come in the form of an invasion, a revolution, or combination of both. But there is no conspiracy involved here. Imperialism, anti-imperialism –are nothing more than subjective unscientific notions. Leftwing intellectuals who support dictators are no better than rightwing intellectuals who disdain the very people they say they want to empower. None of this makes any sense. Continue reading

The Pristina-Damascus Connection

Cited by Seyward Darby, Transitions Online

PRISTINA | A few weeks ago, three Syrian opposition activists arrived in this small Balkan capital for a short visit. The trio stayed in a hotel downtown – “nothing fancy,” according to one of the activists – and met with various local dignitaries, including Kosovo’s foreign minister, advisers to the president, and the mayor of Pristina. Continue reading

Syrian forces beat up political cartoonist Ali Ferzat

Quoted in the Guardian

“At this stage, fame may be more of a danger than a protection because the regime does not want any prominent figure to come to the fore and provide a public face for the revolution,” said Ammar Abdulhamid, a US-based dissident and son of Syrian actor Mona Wasif.

Saints Need Not Apply!

Comment 1: Multilateralism does not preclude the need for leadership and decisiveness, especially when we have many dangerous facts on the ground moving at too fast a pace.

Comment 2: ElBaradei is already facing an uphill battle and he needs everybody to mount a serious campaign that has the least bit of a chance to shake the system. ElBaradei needs to cast a wider net and do some ego-stroking. His old-style as a UN technocrat might lend him credibility but it is not going to work in the political field. Continue reading

Development and Authoritarianism

Comment 1: Countries like South Africa, India, Malaysia and Indonesia that invest in education, technology and development can overcome much of their internal problems and shortcomings and emerge as real world powers in relatively short span of time. Meanwhile Arab countries focus on resistance ideology, importing technology and repelling indigenous talent. Authoritarianism is our plague. Continue reading

Their Audacity to Hope

Brave individuals who challenge the status quo in authoritarian societies—and expect our support

Mention in the Wall Street Journal

Mr. Muravchik might have said more about why Western states should support liberals, in all their vulnerability. Take the Syrian dissident Ammar Abdulhamid. Audacious and articulate, Mr. Abdulhamid abandoned a life of privilege in Syria (he is the son of a famous actress) and chose exile in the U.S. so that he could give full force to his criticism of the Assad regime. Yet like many of those described by Mr. Muravchik, he has committed himself to a liberal ideal, and sacrificed a great deal, in return for very little so far. When Western governments revert to so-called reasons of state — where “realism” and supposed self-interest often triumphs — Middle Eastern liberals become a vanguard easily discarded.

Tharwa Founder Testifies Before Congressional Human Rights Caucus

September 2008

On September 24, the Congressional Human Rights Caucus hosted an event entitled “Syrian Human Rights Policies in Syria and Toward Lebanese”. The event, moderated by Congressional Human Rights Caucus Executive Director Hans Hogrefe, featured testimony from Ali Abou Dehn, a Lebanese political detainee, Kamal El Batal, the Director of Human Rights for the World Council of the Cedars Revolution and Ammar Abdulhamid, Executive Director of the Tharwa Foundation. Continue reading