Kurds (502)


The Syria Report talks to Samir Nashar, head of Syria’s Free National Party, a member of the transitional council of the Damascus Declaration and one of Aleppo’s leading business and political figures.


Syria’s "Iskenderun Salvation Organisation," set up to claim back the disputed area of land around the port city of Iskenderun, also called the Sandjak of Alexandretta, that was ceded to Turkey in 1939 by the French mandate then ruling Syria, has been abolished by Damascus, according to a report by the Chihan news agency in Istanbul on March 13.

Former MP and opposition activist Riad Seif was arrested on March 14 for the second time since his release from prison in January after he gathered outside the Cabinet building in Damascus with Arab and Kurdish activists to mark the second anniversary of the deaths of at least 30 people, mainly Kurds, in clashes with security forces in the northern city of Qamishli.

Syria attacked the latest report by the US State Department on human rights in Syria - which concluded that the government’s rights record “remained poor” and outlined twelve forms of human rights abuses in the country - accusing the US of its own violations of human rights.


Text of President Bashar al-Assad’s Interview with Charlie Rose recorded in Damascus and broadcast on the American PBS network on March 23, 2006. Source: PBS


The Syria Report publishes below the full text of the annual report of the US State Department on the situation of human rights in Syria released on March 8, 2006.


The full text of Lebanese Druze leader Walid Jumblatt’s address to the Saban Centre of Middle East Policy at Brookings Institute in Washington on March 6. The introduction and following question and answer forum was moderated by Martin Indyk, Senior Fellow in Foreign Policy Studies at the Brookings Institution. Source: Brookings Institute


The Syria Report talks to former MP and ‘Damascus Spring’ figurehead Riad Seif, imprisoned in 2001 on charges of tax evasion following his criticism of corruption in the family of the Syrian president, and released from prison last month.


Syria’s Supreme State Security Court (SSSC) on February 13 sentenced three Kurds found guilty of belonging to the banned United Kurdistan Democratic Party, the Kuwaiti news agency KUNA reported.

Fresh expectations that an estimated 300,000 Kurdish citizens are to have their Syrian citizenship restored to them were raised again in the last week of January after it emerged the Ba'ath Party Regional Leadership had invited over forty Kurdish figures to meet President Bashar al-Assad in Damascus.


Al-Hayat: Sayyed Nasrallah, are we on the verge of a civil war in Lebanon?

Sayyed Nasrallah (Laughing): This interview is starting off with a difficult question.


The English transcript of the interview of Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad with Turkish TV on December 28, 2005.

Former Syrian prisoner of conscience and founder of the Liberal Democratic Union in Syria, Kamal al-Labwani was arrested at Damascus airport on November 8 after returning to Syria from meetings in Washington with US officials, including President George Bush’s Deputy National Security Advisor.

The release of 190 political prisoners in Syria has been widely welcomed by Syrian lawyers and human rights activists, but they said the government must finally decide to end to the country’s 42-year-old emergency laws and use of security courts.


Two of the key recommendations of June’s Ba’ath Party conference appeared to be on ice after Syrian President Bashar al-Assad failed to set a timetable for the restoration of citizenship to an estimated 250,000 stateless Kurds and said the introduction of a party’s law, that would legislate for independent political parties in Syria for the first time under Ba’ath rule, would “take a long time”.


The Damascus Declaration

For National Democratic Change

Syria is currently facing threats that it has never known, due to the regime’s policies that have driven the country to a critical situation and raised concerns about its national safety and the fate of its people.

Syrian opposition parties, often criticized as being weakened by division, united on October 16 to issue the "Damascus Declaration", a petition demanding democratic reforms in the country which, significantly, won the support of the outlawed Muslim Brotherhood party.


The full text of the Damascus Declaration, which is a statement by opposition figures issued in October 2005 calling for democratic change in Syria.

The Syrian government will earmark USD 523 million for the development of the two governorates of Raqqa and Hassake in its upcoming five-year plan for 2006 to 2010.

Besides the development of the banking sector, trade liberalization is the other sector that has witnessed the greatest changes in the last few years in Syria.


With the appointment of a new Mufti and an apparent growing security threat from radical Islamic groups operating in the country, The Syria Report talks to Mohammed Habbash, Syria’s only Islamist MP and head of the reformist Islamic Studies Centre in Damascus about the role of religion for the state and its citizens.


In 2007 Syria will have local, parliamentary and presidential elections all in the same year. So how significant a step towards democratisation is the decision to allow fully free open-list local administration elections? The Syria Report talks to Local Administration Minister Hilal Attrash.


Following the presentation of its third regular report to the UN Human Rights Commission in Geneva on 19 July, the UN has called on Syria to halt torture of prisoners and free jailed human rights activists.


*By Mouaffaq Nyrabia


Many analysts had warned before the beginning of the Baath conference that not much would have to be expected from it. The corrupted cannot fight corruption they argued and those in position of power had no interest in giving it up, they continued.


At least one Syrian security official was killed by gunfire during clashes between Kurdish demonstrators and Syrian security forces during a recent protest march in Qamishli following the murder of an influential Kurdish sheikh, according to Kurdish officials.

Never has so much been expected of a Baath Party conference in Syria. Did it deliver? Here the Syria Report runs through the key recommendations of the conference, which are set to be taken up by the Syrian Parliament and turned into law.


The Syria Report talks to Ali Jamalo, a journalist, broadcaster and founder of the Cham Press website, and a member of the political committee of the Baath Regional conference who argued with the former Vice President Abdul Halem Khaddam over the need for democracy in Syria.


Politics in Syria is beginning to warm up again.


Interview with Ismail Amo, head of the Kurdish Unitarian Democratic Party in Syria, a branch of the Yakiti Party, and not recognized as a political entity in Syria.


Interview with Hassan Abd al Azim, Secretary General of the Democratic Arab Socialist Union Party and spokesman for the Democratic Rally, a five-party opposition group in Syria.


Interview with Bachir Isaac Saadi, Chairman of the Political Bureau of the Assyrian Democratic Organisation, an ethnic Christian minority organisation.


Hundreds of people were arrested for political reasons. Most of them were Kurds detained following violent disturbances in north-eastern Syria in March during which over 30 people were killed.

A few weeks before the upcoming Baath Party Regional conference, The Syria Report talks to Ayman Abdel Nour, one of the leading figures in the reform movement of the Baath Party on whether the conference will deliver on the promise of Syria’s President Bashar Assad that the country would see “a leap for development”?


Over 300 Kurds, including all of those arrested after violent clashes with Syrian security forces and Arab tribes in Qamishli in March last year, will be released from prison after receiving an official pardon from President Bashar Assad on March 30.


Violence broke out on Damascus’ streets on March 10 as demonstrators calling for the lifting of Syria’s 42-year-old emergency laws were attacked by hundreds of pro-government students and youth group members who chased the activists through the streets and beat them with placards.

The recent visit of Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan to Syria and the ensuing signing of a free trade agreement is a landmark event in the relationship between the two countries.


The Syrian government usually holds its weekly meetings on Tuesday. On July 20, the ministers were suddenly informed that the meeting was postponed to Wednesday, without any further explanation.


The English transcript of the interview of Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad with Al Jazeera TV on May 03, 2004.


In what could be a historic decision, the Syrian authorities are said to have agreed to give the Syrian citizenship to up to 100,000 stateless Kurds living in the country.


The violence of the Kurdish protests has surprised many and comes at a difficult time for Syria. Opposition calls for strong show of national unity.


The Syrian diplomacy is on the move and at last some initiatives have been taking place to gain some breathing space and to provide a clear strategy.


Fears from a Kurdish autonomous area in northern Iraq are getting the two countries closer. The visit also symbolizes the steady improvement in relations over the last five years.


The English transcript of the interview of Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad with the New York Times on December 01, 2003


Although there is no much doubt, at the highest levels of Syria’s political echelons, that political reform is a necessity, the means and the nature of the changes are yet to be defined.


The English transcript of the interview of Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad with Kuwaiti newspaper Al-Anbaa on May 26, 2003.


A new political game is starting in the Middle East following the United States invasion of Iraq and its now probable military victory. How long the US will stay there? How does it plan to rule the country? And with whom? Some of these questions will find a quick answer, some not.


As all the countries in the Middle East, Syria is anxiously waiting the coming few weeks and the expected attack on Iraq. But more than any other country, Syria is afraid of the consequences it will have to face, following the set-up of a new American-reshaped region.

The visit to Damascus of Turkish State Minister Kursat Tuzmen, at the head of a 200 strong business delegation, provided him with the opportunity to offer Syria several trade boosting propositions.

With a US-led war on Iraq increasingly likely, the question of the future of the northern, Kurdish-inhabited, part of that country, has taken a strategic importance.


Syrian Kurds held a very rare demonstration in front of the Syrian parliament to call for a recognition of their cultural and "national" rights.