Friday, June 29, 2012

The Government

This report, as will be the case every Thursday whilst this crisis continues, is on the perspective of the Syrian Government. Again, stating the obvious – what we are giving here in today’s report is NOT the Next Century Foundation’s view. It is the Syrian Government’s view (or rather, to be precise, elements of the Syrian government). This report is written too soon to gauge reaction to the opposition bombing in central Damascus yesterday, an action that was presumably undertaken to influence the forthcoming series of meetings by the international community (Geneva this weekend – Cairo on Monday). It has been the FSA’s practice to attempt a major action prior to any big international meeting.

The current report is subdivided into five sections: 
1. What the Government is thinking 
2. What the government is saying 
3. What the government is doing 
4. An alternative Syrian establishment view 
5: The makeup of the new Syrian cabinet

What the Government is Thinking

The following is a perspective given privately to the Next Century Foundation by an individual close to the inner circle in Syria’s government. The following remarks represent a new voice in this series but were made on 26th June and we suspect would have been less considered were they made today in the aftermath of the latest bombing in central Damascus :

“The Syrian government will fight until the end. We saw ourselves as winning until yesterday. Now I am not as certain. It was such a shock Moursi was elected President of Egypt. I was still hoping Shafiq would win, that the military would stand up more for Shafiq. Historically what happens in Egypt happens in Syria. If you have a nationalist government in Egypt, in a year’s time you will have a nationalist government in Syria. Any man in the street can tell you that.
“So today Russia’s support is more important than ever because Russia understands the minority game in the Middle East. No one wants Bashir in the West but what’s the alternative? The US condemns us. The UK mutters about the Security Council. What’s new? But Russia wants to show it is a superpower.
“The Russians – never in a million years would they accept even an angel from the Muslim Brotherhood.
“Know this and understand this: We would rather fight Turkey, go to war with Turkey, than fight our own people”.

What the Government is saying

On Wednesday June 27, opposition forces attacked the headquarters of a television station in an attempt to silence the government. This was on the same day as one of President Assad’s most severe statements, when he declared that the country was ‘at war’, and ordered his new government to destroy the opposition. He described how "when we are in a war, all policies and all sides and all sectors need to be directed at winning this war." This signals a change in the tone of the government’s rhetoric. Previously, Assad and his government had dismissed the uprisings as the work of a few, isolated militants, and attempted to undermine the rebels by consistently referring to their disorganisation and insignificance. But in declaring ‘war’ on the opposition, President Assad has publically acknowledged the existence of an enemy that must be confronted.
Despite the acknowledgement of an opposition movement, language used in government statements and state-media press releases has remained the same. Opposition forces are described as ‘armed terrorist gangs’, and Syrian state forces referred to as the ‘competent authorities’. The Syrian government continues to release statements condemning ‘terrorist violence’, especially after attacks that take place in Damascus – which are often car bombs. Some analysts suggest, on very thin evidence, that these explosions, which are fairly frequent, are coordinated by the government, in fact the probability is that they are carried out by the rebels (though the government has indeed got a history of “shifting the blame” for its atrocities).
On Wednesday June 27, Faisal al-Hamwi, Syria’s representative on the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC), made allegations that the Council was part of a global conspiracy to remove Assad and his government from power. He said it was hypocritical for the United States of America to demand human rights be respected, whilst it arms the opposition, leading to increased conflict. He also accused UN member states as not being truly committed to Annan’s peace plan.

What the Government is doing

Government Actions. Week ending June 28 2012

The government continues to lose control over large areas of the countryside. This week they tried to capture the city of Deir Ezzor. In the past week attacks by the government have been reported in cities and towns including Damascus, Dera’a, Zamaka, Idlib and Homs. In Homs in particular, the fighting has been so intense that there are few civilians left in the worst affected areas and organisations like the Arab Red Crescent continue to be unable to evacuate enter these areas.
The government claims that many rebels have been killed or wounded and that their arms and ammunition has been seized. According to the rebels, there has been heavy fighting near theDamascus headquarters of the Republican Guard in Qudsiya, and in the Damascus suburbs of al-Hama and Mashrou' Duma to the North-West of the Republican Guard base.
The rebels accuse the government of brutally killing three medics who were studying in Aleppo and who were tortured. They were arrested by Air Force Intelligence.
"The brutal killing of these young medics who took great personal risk to rescue and treat injured protesters is yet more evidence that Syrian government forces are prepared to commit unspeakable crimes to silence dissent," said Donatella Rovera of Amnesty International.
 According to Human Rights Watch government forces have been shooting civilians crossing to Jordan or other countries.
“Syrian soldiers on the border with Jordan appear to be shooting indiscriminately at anyone -- including civilian women and children - trying to flee from Syria,” the U.S.-based HRW said in a statement. An army defector told HRW that border guards had orders “to shoot at anyone trying to leave or enter the country without passing through an official border post, and that some of the soldiers refused to carry out the order,” it added.
While the violence keeps escalating the government has passed a draft law “on demobilizing state workers or employees and depriving them of their wages, salaries and pension rights if charged with committing terrorist acts, joining terrorist groups or providing support to them...”, according to Sana news.

The bombing by the opposition yesterday in central Damascus outside the main court building will undoubtedly create a shift in government policy and we may see new attempts to spread the conflict into neighbouring Lebanon.

The Syrian Establishment view

The perspective of a Christian Syrian intellectual

Our intention here is to give you a feeling for what some Syrians who are men and women of stature are thinking. This time, like last week, we give you a senior Syrian Christian voice.

“Dialogue is not on the agenda. Everyone is talking about buffer zones and violence. Finally Kofi Annan talks about a Swiss conference. Why is that when Russia is open for a conference? Why think about any other scenario which will cost Syria thousands of lives? On the one hand the West is promoting democracy but when it comes to Syria dialogue and peaceful solutions are not on the agenda. All we hear from Clinton is the exhausted cheap language of sanctions. As if when they ban some rich people in Syria from coming to Europe they are putting pressure on the government. How? If dialogue is at the bottom of the agenda I doubt the intentions of the West. If the West is arming the opposition and supporting Turkey, God knows what violence that will bring to the region. There is no language in the West of dialogue or political process – only threats and condemnations. The agenda is to destroy Syria from the inside. Putting pre-conditions on dialogue, you are killing the baby before it is born. The aim of the dialogue is to end the violence. You will never end the violence if you make that a precondition for talks.”


A new Syrian cabinet was sworn in this week. Every member of the cabinet was replaced except the Ministers of Defence, the Interior and of Foreign Affairs, who were too valuable to lose. As a matter of record the new cabinet is listed in full below (with their biographies as provided by the Syrian government). Importantly, there are two figures from the approved opposition in the new Syrian Cabinet (in the recent nationwide elections many opposition parties were disenfranchised), They are leader of the National Front for Change Qadri Jamil who has been appointed Deputy Prime Minister in charge of the economy, and leader of Social National party Ali Haydar who has assumed the newly-created post of National Reconciliation Minister:

·         Prime Minister: Dr. Riyad Hijab

- Born in Deir Ezzor 1966.
- 2004-2008: Secretary of Deir Ezzor branch of al-Baath Arab Socialist Party.
- 2008-2011: Governor of Quneitera Province.
- 2011: Governor of Lattakia Province.
- He is married with 4 children. 

- Born in Damascus, 1947.
- Graduate of the Military Academy, 1967, specialized in artillery.
- Took several military training courses, including Leadership and Staff course and Higher Staff course.
- Promoted to Lieutenant General in 1998, made General in 2005.
- Occupied various military posts including battalion and brigade commander and director of a number of directorates and departments in the Armed Forces.
- Appointed Deputy Chief of General Staff in 2004.
- Appointed Chief of General Staff in 2009.
- Awarded several military medals during the course of his career.
- Married with four children.
NCF note: General Dawood Rajiha is a Greek Orthodox Christian

-Born in Damascus, 1941.
- Studied at public schools, 1948 – 1960.
- Graduated from Cairo University, Faculty of Economics, 1963.
- Joined the Foreign Ministry and served in missions to Tanzania, Saudi Arabia, Spain and England, 1964.
- Appointed as Syria's Ambassador to Romania, 1975-1980.
- Head of authentication and translation department at the Foreign Ministry, 1980 – 1984.
- Head of private offices department, 1984 – 1990.
- Syria's Ambassador to the United States of America, 1990-1999.
- Participated in the Syrian – Israeli peace talks, 1991 – 1999.
- Assistant Foreign Minister, 2000.
- Deputy Foreign Minister, 2005.
- He is the Foreign Minister in the previous government.
- He has four books:
• Palestine and Armed Peace 1970.
• Syria during Mandate from 1917 to 1948.
• Syria from Independence to Union from 1948 to 1958.
 • The World and the Middle East in the US Perspective.
He is married with three sons

-Born in Tartous, 1954. 
- Degree from the Faculty of Civil Engineering, Tishreen University, 1978 
- Director of a number of the Military Housing Establishment's directorates, 1978-2000
- Deputy Chairman of Lattakia City Council, 1997-2000 
- Director of the General Housing Establishment
- Member of the Advisory Committee of the Arab Housing Ministers Council
- Member of the Board of Directors of the Arab Union Contracting Company
- Minister of Housing and Construction in the former government 
- Married with 3 daughters and a son. 

-Born in Damascus, 1952.
- PHD in Economy 1975
-Married with three children. 

- Born in Damascus, 1964.
- Ph. D from Grenoble National Polytechnic Institute, France.
- Degree in Engineering from Ecole Nationale Supérieur des Télécommunications in Brest, France.
- Director General of the Syrian Telecommunications Establishment, 2003 – 2006.
- Chairman of the Syrian Computer Society.
- Advisor to Minister of communications and Technology.
- Participated in composing the dictionary of Computer Terms published by the Syrian Computer Society.
- Member of the Syrian Secretariat of the Technical Committee on Using the Arabic Language in Information Technology.
- Participated in work teams at the Arab League, the International Telecommunications Union and the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia (UN-ESCWA).
- Minister of Communications and Technology in the previous government.
- Married with two daughters. 

- Born in Tartus,1958.
- Holds University Degree in Economy and Trade, and PhD in Islamic Studies from Damascus University.
- Director of Religious Endowments and the Mufti of Tartous Province from 1985 to 2002.
- Assistant Minister of Endowments for Religious Affairs, 2002.
- He has a lot of religious studies and gave many social and religious lectures.
- Participated in many Islamic conferences.
- Married with three children. 

- Born in Sweida, 1960.
- Graduated from Damascus University, Faculty of Letter, French Department, 1983.
- Got  a diplomatic post at the Foreign Ministry, 1994. 
- Responsible for US Congress and Cultural Affairs at the Syrian Embassy in Washington, 1995-2000.
- Secretary of Presidency, 2008.
- He was Minister of Presidential Affairs in the previous government.
- Married with three daughters.

·         Minister of Justice: Radwan Habib

- Born in Aleppo, 1962.
- Graduated from Aleppo University, Faculty of Law, 1986.
- Got a PhD in Administration from French University, 1997.
- Member of the People's Assembly, 2003-2007.
- Married with 4 children. 

- Born in Lattakia, 1950.
-  Joined the armed forces,1971.
- Commander of the military police.
- Married with 5 children.

- Born in Damascus, 1945.
- University Degree in Faculty of Economics, Damascus University, 1967. 
- PhD in Economics and Finance from the formerly Soviet Union, 1975.
- Executive Director of Damascus Securities Exchange, 2009. 
- Married with five children. 

- Born in Raqqa, 1964.
- Graduated from Aleppo University, Faculty of Civil Engineering, 1992.
- Worked as assistant director of technical services in Raqqa province.
- Member of Raqqa Branch leadership of al-Baath Arab Socialist Party.
- Chief of Syria's engineers, 2009.
- Married with three children. 

- Born in Damascus Countryside, 1961. 
- Graduated from Damascus University, Faculty of Electrical Engineering, 1981. 
- Director-General of the General Establishment for Investing Electrical Power, 2008.
- Married with 3 children.

-Born in Aleppo, 1954.
-Holds a Bachelor of Civil Engineering from Aleppo University in 1977.
-Occupied position of Director General of General Company for Water Projects.
-Director Manager of al-Sahel Company for Construction.
-Director of  a group of  projects in Safita.
-Assistant of Minister of Housing and Construction from 2009 to 2012.

-Born in Lattakia, 1951.
-Worked as Head of Tishreen University from 2007 until now.
-Holds a Bachelor in Agricultural Sciences, Agriculture Faculty, Tishreen University in 1975. 
-A PhD in Agricultural Sciences from Agricultural Sciences University in  Prague, Czech Republic in 1983.
-Master in plant production from the same university in 1980.
-Married with 3 children

-Born in Idleb 1951. Holds a Bachelor of Agricultural Sciences from Aleppo University in 1975.
-Member of the current legislative term of People's Assembly. Former member of the late 8th and 9th terms.
-Secretary of Idleb branch of al-Baath Arab Socialist Party.
-Member of Idleb branch of BASP from 1986 to 2000.
-Manager of the General Commission for Agricultural Scientific Researches in Idleb from 1984 to 1986.
-Married with 9 children, three boys and six  girls

-Born in Damascus, 1962.
-Holds a holds a PhD in technical Sciences.
-Director of Vocational and Technical Education at the Education Ministry since 2000.
-Director of Damascus Education Department since 2004.
-Chief of Engineers Union, Damascus Branch. Member of the Advisory Committee of  European Training Institution for the Mediterranean countries.
-Member of Arab Writers Union in Damascus.
-He has a number of publications, many seminars, researches and educational articles. Married with 3 children, a girl and two boys.

-Born in Aleppo, 1945.
- Graduated from Aleppo University, Faculty of Economic Science, 1969.
- PHD in Economy from Cairo University 1980
1980-1991: Professor and teacher at Aleppo University
1991-1995: Professor and teacher at Amman University.
1998-2002: Researcher at UAE Center of Strategic Research and Studies.
2002-2008: Economic Consultant at Aleppo Chamber of Commerce.
2004-2010: Head of the Economic Sciences Association in Aleppo.
2005-2010: Head of Syria's Central Bank in Aleppo.
-Married with four children

-Born in Aleppo, 1953.
-PHD in Electric Engineering from Polytechnic University in the USA, 1987
-Dean of al-Shahbaa Private University in Aleppo.
-Deputy President of Aleppo University for Scientific Affairs.
2000-2002: Dean of Electric Engineering Faculty at Aleppo University.
-Married with a son and a daughter.

-Born in Lattakia, 1953
-Studied at Tishreen University, Graduated from the Engineering Faculty.
-Obtained PHD in Construction Mechanics from the National School of Roads and Bridges in Paris.
-Dean of Civil Engineering Faculty.
-Deputy Head of Tishreen University for the Scientific Affairs.
-Wrote several books and scientific researches.
-Married with two children.

-Born in Hama, 1959.
-Graduated from Architectural Engineering Faculty and has PHD in Urban Planning.
-General Director of the General Company of Studies and Technical Consultations.
-Head of Urban and Architectural Studies at al-Baath University.
-Has many Researches published in several local and international magazines.

-Born in Homs, 1951.
- Studied at Damascus University, Graduated from the Civil Engineering Faculty in 1977.
Head of the General Authority of Development and Real Estate Investment.
1978-1983: Head of the Implementation Unit at the General Company of Fertilizers.
-Head of al-Deemas and Qudsayah Branches at the General Company of Housing.
Assistant Chairman of the General Company of Housing, Homs Branch.
-Married with four children.

- Born in Damascus, 1954.
-Engineering MA in Developing and Investing Oil and Gas Fields from the USSR.
- Chairman of the Board of Directors at al-Furat Petroleum Company.
-Has many scientific researches.
-Married with three sons and a daughter.

-Born in Damascus, 1955.
-PHD in Linguistics from Paris Eighth School.
2005-2009: Head of the French Department at Damascus University.
-Head of the Spanish Department at Damascus University.
2007-2011: Head of the Interpretation at the Higher Institution of Languages.
-Member of the Arab Translators Union.
-Obtained the Palme Medal from the French government in 2006.
-Married with a son and a daughter.

-Born in Hasaka, 1968.
-Graduated from Damascus University, Faculty of Law.
-PHD in Law.
-Has many books and researches, Legal Advisor in several public institutions. 

-Born in Damascus, 1959.
- Graduated from Damascus University, Faculty of Law.
-Member of several committees, of which: The New Constitution Committee, Setting Parties Law Committee, Committee of the Political Researches in the Pan-Arab Leadership.
-Married with four daughters.

-Born in Hama, 1962.
- Ophthalmologist, Specialized in Eyes Surgery and diseases, from Damascus University in 1994
- Married with two children.

-Born in Aleppo, 1962.
-Obtained BA in Chimecal Sciences.
-Diploma and MA in Analytical Chemistry.
-PHD in Chemical Sciences from Aleppo University.
2001-2006: Head of the Analytical Chemistry Department at Aleppo University.
1999-2001: Head of the teachers' Union at the Pharmacy College at Aleppo University.

-Born in Hama, 1957.
-Graduated from the Architectural Engineering faculty at Aleppo University in 1980.
-Member of Hama's Municipal council for three terms.
-Member of the People's Assembly.
-Member of the Engineering Union in Damascus.
-Minister of State in the former government.
-Married with two sons and three daughters.

-Born in Damascus, 1958.
- Graduated from Damascus University, Faculty of Law in 1983.
-Member of the People's Assembly in 2003.
-Member of the Foreign and Constitutional Committees.
- Minister of State in the former government.
- Secretary of the Syrian Socialist National Party.
-Minister of Expatriates in previous government.
-Married with two children.

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