Tag Archives: Suwaida

Syria Update, January 15, 2013 (Institute of Middle Eastern, Islamic and Strategic Studies

15 Jan

Syria Update, January 15, 2013 (Institute of Middle Eastern, Islamic and Strategic Studies. By Sherifa Zuhur)

Early death toll: 119

Monday’s death toll: 150 including 82 civilians.

Other women’s accounts of the war and civil organizations are framed differently than this article (providing more evidence of activism) which outlines a mostly supportive role for women. http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/middle_east/role-of-syrian-women-evolves-as-war-rages-on/2013/01/09/5308512e-559b-11e2-bf3e-76c0a789346f_story.html

A Jordanian salafist leader announced that Riyadh Hdeib, known as Abi Hamza, a leader of Jabhat al-Nusra had been killed in Syrian army shelling of the village of Tafas in Dar`a. Abi Hamza was 32, a Jordanian national who used to teach at a private school in Amman and was an imam and a preacher there. He had fought in Iraq against U.S. forces.

Defections: Comments and news on defections by Syrian soldiers. http://www.dailykos.com/story/2013/01/13/1178636/-Defections-and-Murder-Syria-Assad#

Refugees: Syrian refugees in Kilis in Turkey will take part this month in elections to select representatives of their areas. http://www.turkishweekly.net/news/146446/syrians-set-for-ballot-in-turkish-refugee-camps.html

Aleppo province: https://maps.google.com/maps?hl=en&q=map+of+aleppo+province&ie=UTF-8&hq=&hnear=0x152ff85ac00b17c9:0xf68ea3d8dc74b61b,Aleppo+Governorate,+Syria&gl=us&ei=R9DLUKfTFoWO0QHBuIHABA&ved=0CC8Q8gEwAA

Opposition sources claim that the Syrian military shelled the University of Aleppo today causing 15 at first report (later reports say 45, and 52) deaths and many injuries. Others said a car bomb went off. State television, however, blamed the blasts on “terrorists” and a Syrian military official claimed that the opposition had been trying to down a Syrian air bomber, but missed and two rockets which hit the Information Technology Academy came from an opposition held area in Aleppo. Other reports indicate the area hit was in between the residences and the Architecture building.

An attack on al-Bab killed 8 people, including 4 women. Unknown persons assassinated 2 scientists working in Assad’s Institute of Military Technology. They were killed in the Saif al-Dawla neighborhood.

Hundreds of Syrian refugees are massing near the border fence into Turkey who lack identification papers. An activist reported that smugglers come at night to the border area, charging the refugees 1500 Syrian pounds for the crossing.

On Jan. 12th, more than 30 soldiers defected and joined the FSA.

Damascus province: https://maps.google.com/maps?hl=en&q=map+of+damascus+province&ie=UTF-8&hq=&hnear=0x1518e6dc413cc6a7:0x69e5b88ad5b0817b,Damascus+Governorate,+Syria&gl=us&ei=_s_LUPTwHqWw0AHTtYDQAg&ved=0CC8Q8gEwAA

Syrian government forces confiscated 40 tons of flour in the neighborhood of al-Hajar al-Aswad.

The Syrian military shelled and carried out an air strike on Mleiha, southeast of Damascus and clashes took place there. On the 12th of January, men loyal to Assad executed a Syrian brigadier general and 7 Syrian troops when they attempted to defect in Mleiha.
The Syrian military shelled Daraya causing casualties today. The Syrian military also carried out air strikes on Chabaa and Douma which are in the Eastern Ghouta, where FSA forces are located.
How is the crisis affecting the cost of living in Damascus. http://english.al-akhbar.com/content/ballooning-cost-living-damascus

Dara`a province: https://maps.google.com/maps?hl=en&q=map+of+daraa+province&ie=UTF-8&hq=&hnear=0x15195fa1016e8de7:0xff6b41761235d49c,Daraa+Governorate,+Syria&gl=us&ei=u9DLUPDfIcXq0gGRwIHADQ&ved=0CC8Q8gEwAA

Syrian military shelling of al-Sanamayn results in casualties today. The Jabhat al-Nusra leader, Abi Hamza (see above) was killed by the Syrian military in Tafas.

Deir az-Zur province:


Yesterday a sniper killed Ali Abdallah al-Jajaan in Muathafeen in the city of Deir az-Zur.

Clashes in Hawiqeh resulted in the death of Hamad Al-Thamer, of the FSA, a defected soldier in Deir az-Zur yesterday.

Also reported was the death of Khaled Al-Rajja in shelling on Deir az-Zur.

Yesterday marked the 215th day of bombardment on the city of Deir az-Zur. The regime forces shelled the College of Science: http://youtu.be/E195qd2ubCg
The regime shelled Muathafeen, al-Arfi, Hamidiyya (including thermobaric bombs here)

al-Jbeileh and Shaykh Yasin. Clashes took place in al-Jbeileh, Khassarat, Muathafeen and al-Omal.

The Syrian military heavily shelled al-Abed, al-Mireiyeh, and al-Husseiniyeh yesterday. The Syrian military completely destroyed the only spinning and weaving factory in Deir az-Zur and its warehouses burned yesterday http://youtu.be/3s5C_rGWydM

Hama province: https://maps.google.com/maps?hl=en&q=hama+governorate&ie=UTF-8&hq=&hnear=0x15248293d5052f19:0x6e6de1581c39ed96,Hama+Governorate,+Syria&gl=us&ei=CdPLUKKbIqyF0QHB94HQAw&sqi=2&ved=0CIEBELYD

Clashes in the al-Nasr neighborhood of Hama killed one opposition fighter.

Syrian military bombardment of Halfaya, Kafarzeita and Latamna killed a male civilian and two women.

Homs province: https://maps.google.com/maps?hl=en&q=homs+governorate+google+map&ie=UTF-8&hq=&hnear=0x15230eeab10528a7:0x65655b88027a8699,Homs+Governorate,+Syria&gl=us&ei=BFPRUM6RBaTI0AHw1ICoCQ&ved=0CDMQ8gEwAA

Regime forces killed 27 people in Haswiyya today, members of six families.

Regime air raids were carried out on Jobar and Sultanyya in the city of Homs. Parts of the city have been under siege for six months as the Syrian army tries to take back areas held by the opposition and storm into areas of Khaldiyya and Old Homs where clashes took place.

The Syrian military shelled the town of Talibsa for several hours.
Heavy governmental forces’ shelling of Rastan took place on Tuesday. Regime forces shelled Houla, killing 15 people, including at least five women and 2 children.
Casualties were also reported in Taldheb.

Idlib province: https://maps.google.com/maps?hl=en&q=idlib+governorate+google+map&ie=UTF-8&hq=&hnear=0x152500e6cc6ed27b:0xe59a7e2f651fc24c,Idlib+Governorate,+Syria&gl=us&ei=51PRUIiREsaB0AHN_YD4BQ&ved=0CC8Q8gEwAA

The Syrian regime dropped cluster bombs on Kaynamas today. The Syrian military shelled the town of Sarmin, killing a male and female civilian and injuring others.

Footage from a field hospital in Sarmin:

Raqqa province: https://maps.google.com/maps?hl=en&q=map+of+ar-raqqah+province,+Syria&ie=UTF-8&hq=&hnear=0x153719cee4c60ce7:0x9d4657e00e899ab6,Ar-Raqqah+Governorate,+Syria&gl=us&ei=PJ_bUKrTBObF0AGMuYHwBw&sqi=2&ved=0CC8Q8gEwAA

Two Syrian regular troops were killed today in the eastern rural part of the province.

Yesterday, the regime forces shelled al-Tabqa using helicopters.

A regime airstrike killed the commander of al-Liwa al-Islam near the al-Thawra oil field, yesterday.

Suwaida province:

On Sunday night, eight opposition fighters from several different factions were killed in clashes in the province.


A report on Syrian refugees who have fled to Giza, in greater Cairo. http://www.aljazeera.com/video/middleeast/2013/01/2013113205548993156.html

Where does U.N.-Arab League special envoy Lakhdar Brahimi stand now that his announced peace plan has been rejected, Syria has called him an “aging tourist” and the conflict continues in the country. http://mideast.foreignpolicy.com/posts/2013/01/15/brahimi_s_final_acts

The UNHCR provides information on Syrian registered refugees http://data.unhcr.org/syrianrefugees/country.php?id=107

Basic Facts about Syria:

Population: 22,530,746
 Ethnicities: Arab 90.3%, Kurds, Armenians, and other 9.7% Religious Groups: Sunni Muslim (74%, other Muslim (includes Alawite, Isma`iliyya, Druze) 16%, Christian 10%, Jewish (very small numbers).

GDP Growth Rate: -2% (2011) GDP: $64.7 billion 
 GDP Growth Rate: -2% (2011)
Unemployment: 8.3% Youth Unemployment (ages 15-24): 19.1% (female unemployment in that age category is 49.1%

Internet Users: 4.469 million (2009)
Exchange Rate: 46.456 Syrian pounds per US dollar

Military Expenditures: 5.9% of GDP (2005)

Population Growth Rate: -0797.% (since the conflict) 

Population Age Structure: 0-14 years: 35.2%; 15-64 years: 61%; 65 years and over: 3.8%

Literacy: male 86% female 73.6%

Urban Population: 56% of total (2010)

Syrian Arab Army (prior to the conflict) 220,000 regular and 280,000 reserves. Of the 200,000 career soldiers, 140,000 are Alawi.

Syria’s Golan Heights is occupied by Israel and 1,000 members of a U.N. Disengagement Observer Force patrol a buffer zone.

Syria Update, December 28, 2012 (Institute of Middle Eastern, Islamic and Strategic Studies. By Sherifa Zuhur)

29 Dec

Syria Update, December 28, 2012 (Institute of Middle Eastern, Islamic and Strategic Studies. By Sherifa Zuhur)

Deathtoll: 160 Syrians killed today including 52 civilians (and of these, 12 children)

This Friday was called the bread of blood Friday to commemorate those killed at bakeries and many protests held today recognized this issue.

Earlier this month, it was reported that Assad might have requested asylum with several governments in South and Central America, and it was confirmed by Turkey that his government did make such a request of Hugo Chavez in Venezuela.

The involvement of women in the revolution against Bashar al-Assad in the town of al-Zabadani. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Otc6J9EQGiw

Defections: There were unconfirmed reports on 12/27 that Col. Anwar Ruslan, Deputy head of investigation in the Syrian General Intelligence and Col. Ya’roub al-Shara the chairman of the political security division will defect. On 12/28, Turkish reports said that two regional Syrian Air force commanders had defected and were in a camp in Turkey.

Aleppo province:

The regime forces shelled all through the night into the morning (12/29) hours in Aleppo. Many civilians were injured near the al-Nairab airport and al-Dowairneh as they’ve fled trying to escape the shelling. Opposition fighters are battling around 4 airports in Aleppo province.

A sniper shot two civilians in the neighborhoods of al-Qasr and Qastal Harami in Aleppo.

The Syrian military shelled Fasira killing 1 civilian. A sniper shot one civilian in al-Fasira. Shelling of al-Zarba killed one young man and clashes there resulted in the deaths of 5 regular soldiers and the regular troops have retreated. Clashes near the Kweiris airport and Khan al-A’sal occurred in which 2 opposition fighters were killed.

Heavy clashes took place near the Aleppo International airport between the al-Nusra Front fighters and the government troops. Clashes took place in Hendrat and near the al-Kendi hospital. The regime forces at the Aleppo prison have said they were execute the Islamist prisoners in the prison if the opposition attacks them.

Damascus province: https://maps.google.com/maps?hl=en&q=map+of+damascus+province&ie=UTF-8&hq=&hnear=0x1518e6dc413cc6a7:0x69e5b88ad5b0817b,Damascus+Governorate,+Syria&gl=us&ei=_s_LUPTwHqWw0AHTtYDQAg&ved=0CC8Q8gEwAA

A car bomb detonated in Rijah square of the Yarmouk camp. A sniper shot one man in al-Qaboun. Assad supporters executed Samir Murshed Alsaud,a native of Deir Ezzor in Tadamon today.

The Syrian military used airpower, mortars and artillery to bombard Douma, Shab’a, Daraya, Harasta, Irbeen and the area near the motor vehicle department, killing a child in Douma. There were also clashes in Irbeen, Daraya and near the motor vehicle deparment, killing one opposition fighter in Irbeen.

Dara`a province: https://maps.google.com/maps?hl=en&q=map+of+daraa+province&ie=UTF-8&hq=&hnear=0x15195fa1016e8de7:0xff6b41761235d49c,Daraa+Governorate,+Syria&gl=us&ei=u9DLUPDfIcXq0gGRwIHADQ&ved=0CC8Q8gEwAA

Shelling took place all through the night of 12/28 into the early morning hours in the province.

A sniper shot one civilian in the Palestinian camp in the city of Dara`a.

The Syrian military shot one civilian in the town of Basr al-Harir. Heavy clashes between Syrian troops and the opposition took place at Busr al-Harir in which 7 opposition fighters were killed.

Deir az-Zur province: https://maps.google.com/maps?hl=en&q=Dayr+Az+Zor+province+map&ie=UTF-8&hq=&hnear=0x1548153314d3dbad:0x9d5a68804221c27f,Deir+ez-Zor+Governorate,+Syria&gl=us&ei=WtLLUJL5NanI0QGozIH4Bw&ved=0CDMQ8gEwAA

The opposition captured the Tanak oil field today outside Deir az-Zur. Opposition fighters were killed: Hamza Abd Alkhalif Albidyowi Alwakaa, from the village of Sweidan Jazira

and Abdullah Eid Aljlood http://youtu.be/2puAn04yH_k

This was the 198th day that the Assad regime has carried out a campaign of bombarding the city of Deir az-Zur. The Syrian military shelled Huweiqa, Rushdiyya, Khsarat

The Huweiqa, Rushdiya, and Khsarat neighbourhoods of Deir Ezzour were bombarded by regime forces and they shelled al- Jbeileh, al-Arfi, al-Muathafin and Shaykh Yasin. Clashes also took place with rebels in the Khsarat neighbourhood. An opposition leader in the city of al-Mayadeen was killed was killed during clashes.

Pro-Assad thugs killed Hajj Marwan Muhammad Yasin al-Hadidi (over 76 years old) in al-Jbayla.

After being arrested in his home in Alwadi in al-Jura, regime security killed Imad Khidr Almadi.

Government actors shot Mheidi Saleh Almuhammad at al-Mi’bar in Huweijat Sakr where he was buried.

Hama province

The Syrian air force shelled the village of Latmeen today causing injuries. The Syrian military also shelled the town of Kafarzeita, destroying homes and causing injuries.

Hassake province https://maps.google.com/maps?hl=en&q=AlHasakah+Governorate,+Syria,+google+maps&ie=UTF-8&hq=&hnear=0x400976912dee2dfb:0x1735b67e4a2454b0,Al-Hasakah+Governorate,+Syria&gl=us&ei=UMLTUOKtN4ra0QG9-oHYBg&ved=0CC8Q8gEwAA

27 Christian officers defected in Qamishle earlier this week.

Homs province:

The Syrian military shelled Houla and the city of Rastan causing injuries and destroying homes.

Idlib province: https://maps.google.com/maps?hl=en&q=idlib+governorate+google+map&ie=UTF-8&hq=&hnear=0x152500e6cc6ed27b:0xe59a7e2f651fc24c,Idlib+Governorate,+Syria&gl=us&ei=51PRUIiREsaB0AHN_YD4BQ&ved=0CC8Q8gEwAA

A Palestinian, Muhammad Ahmad Quneita, 35 of Gaza was killed while fighting with the Ahrar al-Sham and Nusra Front against regime forces near the Wadi al-Dayf military encampment. He was reportedly a previous member of the al-Qassam Brigades who has been fighting in Syria for 5 months.

The Syrian airforce bombarded the village of Ma’arshurin and the area around the Wadi al-Dayf military encampment. Two opposition fighters were killed and 6 regular troops deserted from the al-Hamadiyya checkpoint.

A protest in Salqin was held to denounce the regime’s bombing of bakeries and civilians waiting for bread and to support the revolution today. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zeEGbPa7PVA

Latakia province: https://maps.google.com/maps?hl=en&q=latakia+governorate+google+map&ie=UTF-8&hq=&hnear=0x15241c8bc2bf561f:0xdbb2edac5c45c32b,Latakia+Governorate,+Syria&gl=us&ei=U1TRUMyzBYaM0QHtpoHABg&ved=0CC8Q8gEwAA

The Syrian military launched intense shelling on the town of Salma today and the villages around it.

Quneitra province: https://maps.google.com/maps?hl=en&q=map+of+quneitra+province&ie=UTF-8&hq=&hnear=0x151eb4afcd3e069f:0xbcbbd63808a65623,Quneitra+Governorate,+Syria&gl=us&ei=GaDbUNjUF8Xm0QHmwIDgDQ&ved=0CC8Q8gEwAA

Heavy fighting was reported today near the Golan Heights.

Raqqa province:


Heavy shelling took place all through the night (of 12/28) into the morning hours.

Opposition fighters attacked the 17th division on the outskirts of the city of al-Raqqa, killing 3 opposition fighters.

There was a shelling on a bakery today.

Suwaida province:


2 civilian activists were shot on the way to work on their land to the west of the town of al-Qariya.

International: Islamic Jihad has denied involvement in the Syrian government’s efforts to put down the opposition in Yarmouk camp in Damascus. http://www.kuna.net.kw/ArticleDetails.aspx?id=2284140&language=en

Moaz al-Khatib, the head of Syria’s National Coalition for the Revolution was invited to Moscow for talks on the crisis but refused to go because his group will not negotiate with Assad and neither Russia nor the Syrian government has recognized the opposition. http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/12/28/us-syria-crisis-idUSBRE8AJ1FK20121228

International Container Terminal Services Inc. (ICTSI, the Philippine port operator which has a contract to operate the port of Tartous is leaving Syria due to the instability and danger in the country.

Selected Bibliography on Syria by Sherifa Zuhur

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Batatu, Hanna. “Some Observations on the Social Roots of Syria’s Ruling Military Group and the Causes for its Dominance.” Middle East Journal. Vol. 35, 1981.

_________. “Syria’s Muslim Brethren.” Middle East Reports. Vol. 12. No. 110, November-December, 1982.

_________. Syria’s Peasantry, The Descendants of Its Lesser Rural Notables, and Their Politics. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1999.

Betts, Robert B. The Druze. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1988.

Blecher, Robert. “History as Social Critique in Syrian Film: Muhammad Malas’ al-Leil and Ryad Chaia’s al-Lajat.” Middle East Report. No. 204, July-September, 1997.

Clawson, Patrick. Unaffordable Ambitions: Syria’s Military Build-up and Economic Crisis. Washington D.C.: Washington Institute for Near East Policy, 1989.

Davis, Uri. “Citizenship Legislation in the Syrian Arab Republic.” Arab Studies Quarterly. Vol. 18, No. 1, Winter 1996.

Devlin, John. The Ba`th Party: A History from Its Origins to 1966. Stanford, Calif.: Hoover Institution Press, 1976.

Drysdale, Alasdair. “The Succession Question in Syria.” Middle East Journal. Vol. 39, No. 2, 1985.

Drysdale, Alasdair and Hinnebusch, Raymond. Syria and the Middle East Peace Process. New York: Council on Foreign Relations, 1991.

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Gelvin, James. “The Social Origins of Popular Nationalism in Syria: Evidence for a New Framework.” International Journal of Middle East Studies. Vol. 26, No. 4, 1994.

_________. Divided Loyalties: Nationalism and Mass Politics in Syria at the Close of Empire. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1998.

Hinnebusch, Raymond. Authoritarian Power and State Formation in Ba’thist Syria: Army, Party and Peasant. Boulder, Col.: Westview, 1990.

__________. “State and Civil Society in Syria.” Middle East Journal. Vol. 47, No.2, Spring 1993.

__________. “State, Civil Society and Political Change in Syria.” In Civil Society in the Middle East. Edited by Augustus R. Norton. Leiden: Brill, 1995.

Hopfinger, Han and Boeckler, Marc. “Step by Step to an Open Economic System: Syria Sets Course for Liberalization.” British Journal of Middle Eastern Studies. Vol. 23, No. 2, November 1996.

Hopwood, Derek. Syria, 1945-1986: Politics and Society. London: Unwin Hyman, 1988.

Kanovsky, Eliahu. “Syria’s Troubled Economic Future.” Middle East Quarterly. Vol. 4, No. 2, June 1997.

Kaplan, Robert. “Syria — Identity Crisis.” The Atlantic. Vol. 271, February, 1993.

Kayali, Ghalib. Hafiz al-Assad: Qa’id wa risala. Damascus, 1977.

Kedar, Mordechai. “The Public Political Language of the Asad Regime in Syria: Messages and Means of Communication.” Ph.D. dissertation. Bar-Ilan University, 1998.

Khoury, Philip. Syria and the French Mandate: The Politics of Arab Nationalism, 1920-1945. Princeton: Princeton University, 1987.

_________. “A Reinterpretation of the Origins and Aims of the Great Syrian Revolt 1925-1927.” In Arab Civilization: Challenges, Responses, Studies in Honor of Constantine Zurayk. Edited by George Atiyeh and Ibrahim Oweiss. Albany: State University of New York, 1988.

_________. “Syrian Political Culture.” In Syria: Society, Culture, and Polity. Edited by Richard T. Antoun and Donald Quataert. Albany: State University of New York, 1991.

_________. “Syrian Urban Politics in Transition: The Quarters of Damascus during the French Mandate.” In The Modern Middle East. Edited by Albert Hourani, Philip Khoury, Philip and Mary Wilson. Berkeley: University of California, 1993.

Kienle, Eberhard. Ba’th versus Ba’th. The Conflict Between Syria and Iraq, 1968-1989. London: I.B. Tauris, 1990.

Kienle, Eberhard, ed. Contemporary Syria: Economic Liberalization between Cold War and Cold Peace. London: British Academic Press, 1994.

Lawson, Fred. “External versus Internal Pressures for Liberalization in Syria and Iraq.” Journal of Arab Affairs. Vol. 11, No. 1, 1992.

_________. “Domestic Transformation and Foreign Steadfastness in Contemporary Syria.” Middle East Journal. Vol. 48, Winter 1994.

Lobmeyer, Hans. “Islamic Ideology and Secular Discourse. The Islamists of Syria.” Orient. Vol. 32, 1991.

Longuenesse, Elisabeth. “The Syrian Working Class Today.” Middle East Report. Vol. 15, No. 134, July-August 1985.

Ma’oz, Moshe. Ottoman Reform in Syria and Palestine. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1968.

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__________. Asad, Sphinx of Damascus. London: Weldenfeld and Nicolson, 1988.

Ma’oz, Moshe and Yaniv, Avner, eds. Syria under Assad: Domestic Constraints and Regional Risks. New York: St. Martin’s 1986.

Mardam Bey, Salma. Syria’s Quest for Independence. Reading: Ithaca, 1994.

Mayer, Thomas. “The Islamic Opposition in Syria 1961-1982.” Orient. Vol. 24, 1983.

Middle East Watch Committee, eds. Syria Unmasked: The Suppression of Human Rights by the Regime. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1991.

Moosa, Matti. “Naqqash and the Rise of the Native Arab Theater in Syria.” Journal of Arabic Literature, 3, 1972.

Muslih, Muhammad. “The Golan: Israel, Syria and Strategic Considerations.” Middle East Journal. Vol. 47, 1993.

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Perthes, Volker. “The Bourgeoisie and the Ba’th.” Middle East Report. 21, No. 3, May-June 1991.

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Roberts, David. The Ba’th and the Creation of Modern Syria. London: Croom Helm, 1987.

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Schami, Rafik. Damascus Nights. Trans. by Philip Boehm. New York: Farrar, Straus, and Giroux, 1993.

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________. Asad: The Struggle for the Middle East. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1988.

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Watenpaugh, Keith. “Middle Class Modernity and the Persistence of the Politics of the Notables.” International Journal of Middle East Studies. Vol. 35, Number 2, May 2003.

Wedeen, Lisa. Ambiguities of Domination: Politics, Rhetoric, and Symbols in Contemporary Syria. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1999.

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__________. Paysans de Syrie et du Proche-Orient. Paris: Gallimard, 1946.

Zisser, Eyal. “The Syrian Army: Between the Domestic and the External Fronts.” Middle East Review of International Affairs. Vol. 5, No. 1, March 2001.

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Zuhur, Sherifa. “Syria: Haven for Terrorists?” Unmasking Terror: A Global Review of Terrorist Activities. Vol. 2 Jamestown: Jamestown Foundation, 2005.

Zuhur, Sherifa. “Syria: From Arab Nationalists to a Security Services State.” In Zuhur, The Middle East: Politics, History and Neonationalism. Philadelphia: Institute of Middle Eastern, Islamic and Diasporic Studies, 2005.

Basic Facts about Syria:

Population: 22,530,746
 Ethnicities: Arab 90.3%, Kurds, Armenians, and other 9.7% Religious Groups: Sunni Muslim (74%, other Muslim (includes Alawite, Isma`iliyya, Druze) 16%, Christian 10%, Jewish (very small numbers).

GDP Growth Rate: -2% (2011) GDP: $64.7 billion 
 GDP Growth Rate: -2% (2011)
Unemployment: 8.3% Youth Unemployment (ages 15-24): 19.1% (female unemployment in that age category is 49.1%

Internet Users: 4.469 million (2009)
Exchange Rate: 46.456 Syrian pounds per US dollar

Military Expenditures: 5.9% of GDP (2005)

Population Growth Rate: -0797.% (since the conflict) 

Population Age Structure: 0-14 years: 35.2%; 15-64 years: 61%; 65 years and over: 3.8%

Literacy: male 86% female 73.6%

Urban Population: 56% of total (2010)

Syrian Arab Army (prior to the conflict) 220,000 regular and 280,000 reserves. Of the 200,000 career soldiers, 140,000 are Alawi.

Syria’s Golan Heights is occupied by Israel and 1,000 members of a U.N. Disengagement Observer Force patrol a buffer zone.

Syria Update, October 28, 2012 (Institute of Middle Eastern, Islamic and Strategic Studies)

29 Oct

Syria Update October 28, 2012 (Institute of Middle Eastern, Islamic and Strategic Studies. By Sherifa Zuhur)

Early death toll: 113 killed including 39 unarmed civilians.

Amended death toll for Saturday: More than 120 killed.

Hizbullah began an offensive in mid-October on the Syrian side of the Lebanese border against the opposition. http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/middle-east/hezbollah-crosses-syrian-border-with-bloody-assault-on-assads-enemies-8227316.html?printService=print

Aleppo province: Opposition fighters freed 120 Syrian-Kurdish civilians whom they had detained 2 days ago near the town of Hayyan. This had followed clashes between the Kurdish popular defense units under the control of the Democratic Union Party and the opposition which had caused many casualties.

The Syrian military shelled the Haydariyya and Masaken Hanano neighborhoods.

The Liwa Asifat al-Shamal armed group has apparently seized Lebanese journalist Fidaa Itani, in the Aleppo suburbs. The group issued a statement saying it had “arrested” the journalist.
The Syrian opposition took control of the Syrian government’s air force intelligence office in Aleppo.

Damascus province: Syrian fighter jets bombarded the suburbs of eastern Damascus, all Sunni Muslim neighborhoods. Large explosions were heard as huge plumes of smoke appeared from Russian-made warplanes bombing Irbin, Harasta and Zamalka. A huge explosion rocked a police academy in the neighborhood of Barza in Damascus. A car bomb blew up in the area of al-Jameyaat outside Damascus. Clashes took place in al-Hajar al-Aswad.

Electricity, water and communications have been cut off in Harasta and dozens of the wounded were moved from the Harasta National Hospital.
The al-Nusra Front denied responsibility for Friday’s attack on a residential area that had housed police officers and their families and which broke the Eid ceasefire, and blamed the Syrian regime for the bombing.
The opposition took control of three military posts in Douma and killed four Syrian soldiers at another checkpoint.

Dar`a province: Syrian military shelling by air of the cities in Dara`a today, including Da’el.

Deir az-Zur province: Syrian military forces bombarded the cities of Deir az-Zur and Abu Kamal today. They shelled al-Joubeila and Al-Roushdiya in Deir az-Zur.

Hama province: A demonstration was held in Kafar Zeita today.

Homs province: The Syrian military shelled al-Dar al-Kabira.

Idlib province: The FSA announced it has taken control of the city of Salqeen, which has been the last stronghold of the Syrian government’s millitary forces and 50 soldiers were killed or captured there.

The Syrian military carried out airstrikes on in the village of Al-Bara in Jabal al-Zawiya, killing 16 persons including 7 children and 4 women. The Syrian military also bombarded al-Bahra and Kafrouma, causing casualties and injuries.

70 Syrian army soldiers turned themselves in to the Turkish border guards at a checkpoint outside of Idlib according to al-Jazeera.

Suwaida province: Security forces carried out a campaign of mass arrests in the city of Suwaida, including of a 13 year old boy.

Concerns about salafists vs. non-salafists (or secularists) in the opposition have been overstated in much of the media in order to diminish support for the opposition. Tracing the source of these concerns is essential. Nonetheless am including this portrayal, although it focuses on the former rather than the latter trend http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-middle-east-20079317

Demonstration in Qamishli http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CnpTsHLSV7Q

IHH, a Turkish Islamic humanitarian agency obtained and posted a photograph of Cuneyt Unal, a Turkish journalist who worked for al-Hurra and who went missing in Syria on August 20th. The photo was dated October 24th and showed Unal in good health although thinner. IHH is the owner of the Mavi Marmara aid ship which attempted to travel to Gaza. http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/10/28/us-syria-crisis-turkey-cameraman-idUSBRE89R07B20121028

Borders: Fighting continued in the town of Haram on Sunday.

International: Saudi Arabian police broke up a protest by hundreds of Syrian pilgrims walking toward the Jamarat Bridge in Mina on Sunday to demand the overthrow of President Bashar al-Assad and denouncing the world’s failure to stop the bloodshed. No-one was hurt. http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/sns-rt-us-saudi-haj-protestbre89r0a7-20121028,0,1436035.story

Among Syria’s Creative Figures:

Muhammad al-Maghut, poet, noted for his free verse (1934 -2006) born in Salamiyya to an Isma’ili family.

Nizar al-Qabbani, 1923-1998, born in Damascus. His sister, ten years his senior, committed suicide rather than marry a man she did not love and the theme of women’s oppression entered his work as a poet, whose work sharply criticized Arab society and politics of his time. He was also a diplomat and a publisher.

Zakariyya Tamir, born in 1931 in Damascus, famed for short stories, for adults and children. He supports the Syrian revolution and hopes that Syria will be liberated from “tyranny and horror.” http://freesyriantranslators.net/2012/07/22/a-dialogue-with-zakaria-tamer-2/

Ali Farzat, born in 1951 in Hama, a cartoonist. He was attacked by thugs who broke his hands. He is on Facebook and his cartoons of “Highlander” comment on Syria.

Duraid Lahham born in 1934 in Damascus. A comedian and director known for his character, “Ghawwar al-Toushe.” He was a UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador in 1999 and is considered to be a supporter of Bashar al-Assad and not of the opposition.

Farid al-Atrash, 1910 – 1974 was born in Suwayda to a Druze family associated with the independence struggle against the French. He became a composer, master oudist, singer and film star in Egypt, starring in 31 movies and recording more than 500 songs.

Asmahan. (Amal al-Atrash) 1912 (or 1915) – 1944 was born at sea as her family traveled from Turkey to Beirut. Sister of Farid al-Atrash, she became a renowned singer of Arabic compositions and an actress in Egypt and challenged conservative attitudes about women with her artistic life-style. Her musical talent was considered to rival that of Umm Kulthum and she sang the compositions of al-Qasabji, Riyadh al-Sunbati, her brother, Farid al-Atrash and others.

Sadeq Jalal al-Azm, philosopher and scholar was born in Damascus in 1934 and earned a Ph.D. in 1961 from Yale. His 1969 book, Naqd al-Fikr al-Dini in which he criticized the misuse of religion and caused his imprisonment in Lebanon. He wrote at least six books and many articles since, including a critique of ‘Orientalism.’ http://en.qantara.de/wcsite.php?wc_c=15850

Assala Nasri, born in 1969 in Damascus as the daughter of a Syrian composer, Mostafa Nasri. She has produced 23 albums and many singles including “Ah, law ha-l kursi bye7ki” and has a dramatic and powerful singing style. She supports the Syrian revolution.

Sabah Fakhri, born in 1933 in Aleppo is perhaps the greatest traditional-style singer of the Eastern Arab world, of muwashahhat and qudud Halabiyya. He did not follow the typical musical path of pursuing a singing career in Egypt, preferring to remain in Syria.

Mayada al-Hinnawi, born in 1957 in Aleppo. A great singer whose popularity peaked in the 1980s. She sang the compositions of Baligh Hamdi, Riyadg Sunbati, Mohammad Sultan, Hilmy Baker and others.

Adonis (Ali Ahmad Said), a poet, born in 1930 in al-Qassabin, Latakia to a farming family. After being imprisoned for a year, he left Syria in 1956 for Beirut. He has published many collections of poetry in which he experimented with various modernist forms and received numerous awards for his poetry. He lives in Paris. http://www.charlierose.com/view/interview/9297

Yasin al-Hajj Saleh, born in 1961, an author jailed when he was in his 20’s in 1980 until 1996. He began writing in prison in 1988. He published With Salvation O’Youth: 16 Years in Syrian Prison (al-Saqi, 2012).

Hanna Mina, novelist, born in 1924 in Iskenderun and raised in Latakia, he would later be an exile in China. He described his education as the “university of dark poverty.” He wrote 40 novels including the autobiographical, The Swamp. http://english.al-akhbar.com/node/5584

Mohammad Malas, filmmaker, born in 1945 in Quneitra and studied cinema in Moscow. He won awards for his many films including Ahlam al-Madina, al-Layl and Bab al-Maqam.

Selwa al-Neimi, poet and author, was born in Damascus and left for Paris in the mid-70s. She has published three volumes of poetry, a collection of short stories and is best known for her erotic novel, The Proof of Honey.

Nihad Sirees, novelist, author of The Silence and the Roar. http://www.jadaliyya.com/pages/index/7006/writing-revolution-and-change-in-syria_an-intervie

Saadallah Wannous, 1941 – 1997, a playwright, born in Hussein al-Bahr near Tartus. His writing career began in the early 1960s. He introduced a “theater of politicization,” helped to found the Arab Festival for Theater Arts and the Higher Institute for Theater Arts (where he taught).

Issa Touma is a photographer, curator and director of Le Pont Organization, who supports the revolution. http://english.ahram.org.eg/NewsContent/5/25/38262/Arts–Culture/Visual-Art/Art-sees-light-within-the-Syrian-Revolution.aspx

George Wassouf, born in Kafroun, Tartus in 1961, is a popular singer of Arabic music with more than 30 albums released. He has supported Bashar al-Assad and has been criticized for praising the Syrian army.

Samir Zikra, filmmaker, born in Beirut in 1945 and raised in Aleppo. His films include al-Sakran Yanfi (based on a Naguib Mahfouz novel) al-Matar Saba`in, Lan Nansa, al-Shuhud, `Anha, Hadithat al-Nusf Metr, Waqa`ih al-`Amm al-Muqbel. He coauthored a script for Baqaya Suwar (based on a Hanna Mina novel), coauthored the script for Mohammad Malas’ Ahlam al-Madina, and directed Turab al-Ghuraba (about Abd al-Rahman al-Kawakibi) in 1998 and `Alaqat `Ammah in 2005.
Some of the Syrian visual artists whose works include protest: http://www.npr.org/2012/05/14/152496317/even-under-threat-syrian-artists-paint-in-protest

Syria Update, October 26, 2012 (Institute of Middle Eastern, Islamic and Strategic Studies. By Sherifa Zuhur)

26 Oct

Syria Update, October 26, 2012 (Institute of Middle Eastern, Islamic and Strategic Studies. By Sherifa Zuhur)

Death toll: More than 80 killed today

Yesterday’s death toll: More than 140 including 71 unarmed civilians and among those, 5 children.

The unmonitored ceasefire to mark the Eid al-Adha holiday was supposed to mean that the Syrian military would cease air operations for four days, but reserved the right to respond to the opposition. Whenever there is an unmonitored ceasefire, it is likely to be broken by both sides, as has occurred. The regime continued using its artillery in some areas and regime-paid snipers continued firing, and the car bomb set in Damascus is most probably the work of regime-supporters, even though the al-Nusra Front refused the ceasefire. Syrians who said there was no Eid holiday were justified in that sentiment, but Lakhdar Brahimi is nevertheless on the right track in pushing for the ceasefire, if only because it shows that negotiation is possible.

On Tuesday, Bashar al-Assad issued a general amnesty but that does not include any of the thousands who have been detained without charge, or those being held under the ant-terrorism law which has been used to detain, imprison and torture many supporters or suspected supporters of the opposition. Amnesty International issued a call for all prisoners of conscience to be freed in Syria.

Aleppo province: The commander of the opposition forces in Aleppo. Col. Abd al-Jabbar Mohammad Aqidi appeared at a protest today. The FSA made gains yesterday (Thursday) in areas including al-Ashrafiyya, al-Midan and Sleiman al-Halabi. The opposition fired on Kurdish protests involving civilians from al-Shaykh Maqsoud and al-Ashrafiyya neighborhoods, which killed one protester and wounded five others.
VIolent clashes took place between Syrian military forces and opposition fighters at a military checkpoint near the al-Malhab military barracks of Aleppo city.

Damascus province: Thousands protested today against the Bashar al-Assad government during the Eid al-Adha holiday and what was a partial lull in the fighting.
Five were killed and 32 wounded in a car bomb attack near the Omar Ibn al-Khattab mosque and a playground built for the Eid holiday in Daf al-Shok. http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/10/26/us-syria-crisis-idUSBRE88J0X720121026

A sniper shot one person in al-Jobar. Clashes took place in al-Asali and in al-Madaniyya. An unidentified corpse was found in the fields of the town of al-Keswa. A sniper killed a young woman in Harasta city. A sniper killed a child A in Duma, which was shelled today. A sniper killed 1 near the edges of the town of A’rbin. A tank can be seen here firing in the eastern part of the Ghouta, today. http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=3IB1090WsIc
Yesterday, the body of father Fadi al-Haddad, priest of the Mar Elias church in the city of Qatana was discovered. He had been previously kidnapped by unknown gunmen.

Dara`a province: Demonstrations took place today across the province to protest the regime of Bashar al-Assad. Here is one march held in Dara`a http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JIQcrSQYt3k&feature=player_embedded
The Syrian military tried to disperse the demonstrators in Dara`a, despite the truce that had been declared, firing on them and wounding them. Several people were wounded when Syrian security forces opened fire on a mosque in Daraa’s Ankhal during Friday prayers, activists said.
Three Syrian soldiers were killed and eight were wounded, most of them critically, in a car bomb attack in the city of Dara`a.

Hama province: Hundreds protested against the Bashar al-Assad regime in the city of Hama today. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pjEDIdNKO5Y&feature=player_embedded

Homs province: Demonstrations were held to protest the Bashar al-Assad regime today, here in the city of Homs. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_LTncAr93dk&feature=player_embedded
The Syrian military shelled the al-Khaldiya neighborhood, killing one. Gunfire and clashes were reported int eh city of Talkalakh.

Idlib province: Protests were held in Idlib against the Bashar al-Assad government http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b1SKSngRHp4&feature=player_embedded
The Syrian opposition bombarded a building inside of the Wadi al-Dayf base, destroying it and killing at least 9 Syrian military troops, and 4 opposition fighters were killed during clashes there. Despite the ceasefire, the Syrian military shelled the villages of Deir Sharqi, Ma’aret Shourin, Kafrsajna and Has and destroyed homes. 2 unidentified opposition fighters were found dead west of Saraqeb.

Sweida province: Activists painted on the walls, ‘no celebrations in honor of the martyrs’ and sang “In Syria, there is no Eid (al-Adha holiday)” and using paper to mark the names and dates of the fallen http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=IH22wXerr4U

Syria’s President, Bashar al-Assad was shown on television at Eid al-Adha prayers and listening to a sermon.

Borders: The opposition has been besieging the town of Harem at the Turkish border for 11 days and took half the town on October 25th. Many in the city are government loyalists. The Syrian military are firing from the citadel of the town; the opposition has called on UNESCO to ask the military to leave the citadel.

International: The imam of Mecca’s Grand Mosque, Shaykh Saleh Muhammad al-Taleb called on Arabs and Muslims on Friday to take “practical and urgent” steps to stop the bloodshed in Syria that has
killed as many as 40,000 people, and said in his sermon at the Eid prayers that, “The world should bear responsibility for this prolonged and painful disaster (in Syria) and the responsibility is greater for the Arabs and Muslims who should call on each other to support the oppressed against the oppressor.”

Saudi Arabia has expelled three employees of Syria’s consulate in Jeddah, saying only that their activities were incompatible with their position without elaborating.

Turkey has denied that it is blocking its borders to fleeing Syrians. Evidence has been collected by Human Rights Watch to the contrary.

Switzerland has extended sanctions against the Syrian government, adding 28 names to a list of Assad supporters. These persons’ assets are frozen and they may not obtain visas. In addition 2 companies were named, Megatrade and Expert Partners, which are suspected of buying weapons or material used by the Syrian government to harm or repress its citizens.

Basic Facts about Syria:

Population: 22,530,746
 Ethnicities: Arab 90.3%, Kurds, Armenians, and other 9.7% Religious Groups: Sunni Muslim (74%, other Muslim (includes Alawite, Isma`iliyya, Druze) 16%, Christian 10%, Jewish (very small numbers).

GDP Growth Rate: -2% (2011) GDP: $64.7 billion 
 GDP Growth Rate: -2% (2011)
Unemployment: 8.3% Youth Unemployment (ages 15-24): 19.1% (female unemployment in that age category is 49.1%

Internet Users: 4.469 million (2009)
Exchange Rate: 46.456 Syrian pounds per US dollar

Military Expenditures: 5.9% of GDP (2005)

Population Growth Rate: -0797.% (since the conflict) 

Population Age Structure: 0-14 years: 35.2%; 15-64 years: 61%; 65 years and over: 3.8%

Literacy: male 86% female 73.6%

Urban Population: 56% of total (2010)

Syrian Arab Army (prior to the conflict) 220,000 regular and 280,000 reserves. Of the 200,000 career soldiers, 140,000 are Alawi.

Syria’s Golan Heights is occupied by Israel and 1,000 members of a U.N. Disengagement Observer Force patrol a buffer zone.