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Thursday, November 01, 2007 

Blogger unblocked in Syria

Blogger is NOT blocked. I've been using other ways of getting on to Blogger, but when I saw Annie's comment I decided to have my regular attempt at typing in www . blogger . com boom - Blogger appeared.
 
On to other issues...so many questions.
 
Thank you so much everyone for your warm welcome. It feels like I've come back. Although in reality I never went away, I just wasn't honest with myself about what I wanted to write about.
 
Of course, that style's going to change when I'm writing from outside the country - just because I'll be exposed to a different 'Damascus'.
 
In response to questions about what we can do to support the Iraqis in Syria. I think one of the most important things is to change attitudes. There is still a lot of racism. But I think it comes down to ignorance. When faced with Iraqis no-one is more hospitible than Syrians.
 
But get a group of Syrians together, and the refugees suddenly become the scapegoats for all of the country's (economic) ills.
 
Other than that, there are small groups working with the refugees, and of course the UNHCR always needs more help.
 
As for the banks - yes, it is a real problem that many people don't have an account. Or any money to put in one. Five years ago 25 of the country had an account. Now there are queues of people at cash machines. So something is changing.
 
Where's that change coming from? Of course it starts at the top. I think the top levels are opening up a window of opportunity for others - Syrian and foreign businesses - and it's those businesses (whatever you think of them) who are the motors of change.
 
Look at the private radio stations and internet companies and banks. It is true that the top levels still have a lot of control over them. They are on a tight leash. But if someone closes their eyes for just a second, they can run free.
 
This is the start of something.
 
Keep the questions coming, I'll try my best to answer.

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One thing, I think blogger.com worked even whilst I was in Syria, but it's the blogspot.com domain name which is not accessible. As for the issue on racism towards Iraqi's, I've noticed that attitude of turning them into scapegoats. I think if it wasn't the Iraqis it would have been someone else, so the problem is one of attitudes. I'm not sure I agree with you on the "trickle down" economics which seem to be making people feel flush. These things are all illusory and can come crashing down once the fountain dries up or slows it's flow. Let's see, inshallah kheir.

Are you saying that things are nice and dandy since we can do things by going around the problem, like finding ways to access the internet, finding ways to learn and to see the world. The ways found by previous generation was to leave the country as you are doing right now. Don’t you think that bloggers, youths, merchants, universities, companies owners should demand openness and the right to know not only through the slots which the government open for them. For how long the whole country should wait on the regime to grant them their rights of knowing.

Until I left three days ago, blogspot was not accessible from my house and even the limited visiting rights I had to angryarab had been permanently cancelled. When you have adsl there is no problem but I could not get a line.

As much as you want to portray about the changes and the advancements, SYRIA still lives in the dark ages....


It still has a lot of catching up to Beirut..

"dark ages" a little exagerated, no ?

Hello. I am a student from the University of Vermont and am very interested in this blog. I love how it offers a great insight into daily Syrian life and am intrigued at how the country is operating. At the same time however, I do not know a lot about Syrian politics but am interested in learning more. How long has al-Asad been in power for? Is he a successor in a long-standing regime? In your opinion, what are some of his worst policies? In what aspects, if any, does he encourage change in Syrian life? What are immigration laws concerning Iraqis in Syria and about how many immigrants from Iraq does Syria have? How many refugee camps are there for them? Sorry for the plethora of questions, I am just very interested in the current situation. Do not by any means feel obligated to answer them all, a few answers would quench my thirst for knowledge.

Sasa, blogspot is most definitely blocked for the majority of people with access to the Internet. Only one of the ADSL providers (which I am using, and which therefore allows me to read you blog and others) still allows it.

It's great you have decided to cover "real life" in Syria, and great to hear your point of view. I must tell you that apart from the Iraqi refugees story, which was very touching, I have disagreed with your conclusions in the last couple of posts.

It is exaggerated to say there are ATMs at every corner (each bank has a few scattered ones, very little for a city of over 5 million people), and I certainly do not see that people are more content. On the contrary, most Syrians are not doing well, and the contentness is getting more and more limited to an ever smaller and greedier segment of the population, something which you mentioned.

I look forward to reading your next posts. By the way, why are you posting by phone?

Wassim and Annie,

I found the same thing, but as others have told me, it is apparently dependent on which server you use.

But as for the Iraqis - do you really think another group would have been blamed. In Lebanon certainly, but in Syria?

Rime, thanks for your comment. I tried not to make conclusions. Ok, maybe no ATMs on every corner, but it is certainly true that the number has exploded. Four years ago there were three. THREE. No you can find standalone ones in areas which don't even have banks.

No, I think that greedy segment is growing. And as for the contenedness of the rest - well that depends on who you speak to and how you want to interpret what you hear.

I'm posting by phone because I can't stand dial up. Even so called ADSL is ridiculously slow. And I'm travelling so I haven't got time to stop. Long story.

Mmurphyh,
Assad became president in 2000 after the death of his father Hafiz , Syria is not a monarchy but Bashar Assad was liked by the Syrian people because of his modesty and caring , he improved Syria and modernize it , he is doing a lot to change the country but after 40 years of socialism things will take time as slow improvement is better than violence and ma hum.
If you have more question , i will try to answer them, Syria is beautiful.

Ok. Thank you so much! Was Assad appointed by someone or was he elected by the people?

Mmurphyh,
In Syria the Baath party has a leading role , any Arab or Syrian can join the Baath party no matter what his religon or ethnic backgroud is , The Baath party nominate it's candidate and ask the Syria for approval or rejection of that candidate , if they approve ,he becomes president , if they reject that candidate then the Baath party has to nominate somebody els,
I hope that will help.

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  • Written by sasa
  • From Damascus, Syria
  • From Damascus to London via Beirut. Based in and out of the central Damascene hamlet of Saroujah. News and feelings from the streets every day. I'm talking rubbish? Leave a comment. Welcome to the information democracy. See below for info about this site.
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