Entries by Sami Moubayed

Houdini of the Middle East, poised to move again

In 1982 while Yasser Arafat was making his painful exodus from Beirut someone walked up to him and asked, “Abu Ammar, where are you going?” Confidently, the PLO Chairman replied, “To Palestine! I am going to Palestine.” Today, in 2002, Arafat has been asked by visitors at his Ramallah place of detention, “Abu Ammar, where […]

America’s Sept. 11 ordeal, followed by the war in Afghanistan, made world headlines during the last months of 2001. Even in the Middle East press, other events—with the exception of the Israeli atrocities in Palestine—received minor coverage, if any. Grossly under-covered and almost unnoticed was a transformation that took place in Lebanon: the election of […]

Restoring the Afghan throne after the Taliban

  In particular cases of modern history, many leaders have been ousted from power, only to return to their seats – one way or another, years or decades later. The possibility of restoring former king Ahmad Zahir Shah to Afghanistan brings many examples to mind of contemporary leaders who were toppled, either through elections or […]

Arab oldies well-kept in Damascus

Walking through the crowded Shaalan market in downtown Damascus, one sees numerous CD stores, selling DVDs, movies, and playing music by modern artists like Bon Jovi and Sting. A modern sight for an old-fashioned market, one wonders, then sees a small, worn-out wooden shop at the edge of a dark alley. Only those intending to […]

Tug of War in Syria

Following President Bashar al-Assad’s assumption of power in July 2000, an increasing number of political activists in Damascus have emerged calling for a greater say in decision-making and advocating a return to democratic culture, political pluralism, and a liberal economy. First to speak out along these lines was Damascus MP Riad Seif, who in January […]

Private banks were inevitable after failure of Syrian socialism

President Bashar Assad’s decision to authorize the opening of private banks in Syria is a turning point in the country’s economic life ­ but it is not a surprising one. While some were skeptical that such a move would ever materialize, a close observation of the chronology of events shows that private banking was inevitable. […]