Sunday, May 21, 2006

Phil Weiss of New York Observer

Phil Weiss of the New York Observer keeps a blog, MondoWeiss. He recently traveled to Syria as a tourist and recorded his opinions, "My Trip to Evil Syria, Some Impressions." His views are those of a smart and well traveled observer. Syria is a country where first impressions are often deceiving, because so that is political or personal is kept under wraps, but Phil is not easily fooled. It begins:

A few months ago I went to Syria as a tourist, to visit my wife's cousin, who is teaching in Damascus. I had a very good time (in stark contrast to an unpleasant trip to Morocco) and since then I've been trying to sort out my experience. What have I to say about that most controversial of matters—the Arab world, and an Arab dictatorship—based on my personal experience as a tourist? What does my truly enjoyable trip mean, compared, say to the neoconservative view that Syria is evil (put forth by Paul Berman in Terror and Liberalism, and by David Frum and Richard Perle in An End to Evil)?

Here's what I'm going to do. I'm going to post an entry now on my impressions of Syria. Then I'm going to post an entry in which I talk to Josh Landis, a professor at Oklahoma U. who is on my side (the left, though more centrist than me) and one of the leading experts on Syria, having lived there and married a Syrian.


At 5/22/2006 01:25:00 AM, Blogger Frank said...

Thanks for this Josh (if I may)

This adresses some of the impressions I had in visiting Damascus, last Summer because I (and the rest of the party) wanted to see it before the Marines get there. I wasn't there long enough to form an opinion other than that the picture of "Evil Syria" doesn't hold water.

The view from Jebel Quaissun and the realisation that Damascus is a modern city was a shock.

My most abiding impression is small but revealing. I visted the Military Museum because I wanted to see the famous Damascus swords and the filigree pattern on the blades as this is reputed to be a technology that has been lost. I found an exhibit with a magnifying glass beside a blade. But it was quite clear that the exhibit was rusting.

This sad little episode undermines any suspicion of Syrian militarism for me. I had to compare it with the National Army Museum or the Armoury in Tower of London.

The teachers at SOAS are organising a trip to Syria for us in the Autumn, so I look forward to your response to Phil Weiss to know what to look out for.

At 5/22/2006 02:12:00 AM, Blogger 10452 said...

Leading experts on Syria? lol, you gotta be kidding me.

At 5/22/2006 08:14:00 AM, Blogger t_desco said...

Brammertz Almost Certain that Underground Explosion Caused Hariri Blast

According to the report by Asharq al-Awsat, the proposed time line of events is: "an underground explosion that was followed by a truck bomb". "The first one, a charge hidden in underground pipes, was set off by remote control causing the second bomb placed in the Mitsubishi to explode."

Can a massive underground blast function as a detonator of a secondary, minor explosion above ground?
Why did the truck move just seconds before the blast, why wasn't it parked well in advance at the site of the explosion? Why the "suicide bomber" if the blast was "set off by remote control"? How did the remote avoid the jamming devices? How did the perpetrators know that the convoy would take that route? What would have happened to the underground bomb had the convoy taken one of the two alternative routes?

Of course, the confirmation of an underground blast would point directly to the involvement of an intelligence agency, most likely Syrian and Lebanese. I doubt that a terrorist group (e.g. an Islamist group) would take the increased risk of detection involved with an underground bomb while a massive truck bomb alone would have had roughly the same effect.

At 5/22/2006 01:14:00 PM, Blogger sisco-side said...


At 5/22/2006 05:07:00 PM, Blogger t_desco said...


Hizbollah sees no need to aid Iran if U.S. strikes

I just hope that we will never have to find out if it is true.

And perhaps it doesn't matter anyway:
"Kassem painted another scenario in which Israel fired first to preempt any possible Hizbollah action if fellow Shi'ite Muslim Iran was attacked."


Post a Comment

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home