Samia's Feed
Jul 24, 2012

Insight: Assad chemical weapons plans blocked by Moscow

BEIRUT (Reuters) – Increasingly under pressure by rebels intent on unseating him, Bashar al-Assad has considered using chemical weapons against his enemies but Washington and Moscow have formed an unlikely alliance to force him to abandon such plans.

Analysts and diplomats across the region and beyond do not doubt that the Assad government, recoiling from a devastating attack on its security establishment last week and struggling to contain rebel offensives across Syria, is capable of using agents such as Sarin gas if its survival is at stake.

Jul 19, 2012

Attack on Damascus “fortress” rocks Assad

BEIRUT (Reuters) – An audacious and deadly attack on President Bashar al-Assad’s security cabinet is a major psychological and strategic setback that exposes a weakened Syrian establishment unable to protect its innermost centres of power.

The damage is compounded by Assad’s failure to in speak in public to rally his forces. State television only showed footage of him swearing in his new defence minister, the first images of the president since the bomb attack. Assad’s younger brother Maher al-Assad, commander of the army’s elite units, has however remained out of sight.

Jul 19, 2012

Analysis: Attack on Damascus “fortress” rocks Assad

BEIRUT (Reuters) – An audacious and deadly attack on President Bashar al-Assad’s security cabinet is a major psychological and strategic setback that exposes a weakened Syrian establishment unable to protect its innermost centers of power.

The damage is compounded by Assad’s failure to in speak in public to rally his forces. State television only showed footage of him swearing in his new defense minister, the first images of the president since the bomb attack. Assad’s younger brother Maher al-Assad, commander of the army’s elite units, has however remained out of sight.

Jul 18, 2012

Deadly blast strikes heart of Assad’s rule

BEIRUT (Reuters) – The suicide bomber who attacked a crisis meeting of Bashar al-Assad’s security officials on Wednesday did more than just kill and wound some of Syria’s most senior figures.

He blew apart the inner circle of trusted kin that the Syrian president has relied on to control every aspect of the state he inherited from his father, and was counting on to crush the 16-month-old rebellion against him.

Jul 18, 2012

Syria’s Assad trusts inner circle in fight for survival

BEIRUT (Reuters) – As fighting rages in Damascus, and the Assad family that has ruled Syria for four decades struggles for its life against a growing rebellion, a picture is emerging of a tight inner group determined to fight its way out of the crisis, even as support for the government falls away.

At its head is President Bashar al-Assad, who inherited power from his father in 2000 and who friend and opponent alike say appears increasingly detached from reality, convinced he is fighting a conspiracy against him and Syria.

Jul 18, 2012

Insight: Syria’s Assad trusts inner circle in fight for survival

BEIRUT (Reuters) – As fighting rages in Damascus, and the Assad family that has ruled Syria for four decades struggles for its life against a growing rebellion, a picture is emerging of a tight inner group determined to fight its way out of the crisis, even as support for the government falls away.

At its head is President Bashar al-Assad, who inherited power from his father in 2000 and who friend and opponent alike say appears increasingly detached from reality, convinced he is fighting a conspiracy against him and Syria.

Jul 7, 2012

Friend flees Assad as U.S. pressures Russia

BEIRUT/PARIS (Reuters) – One of President Bashar al-Assad’s personal friends has defected and was headed for exile in France on Friday, as the Syrian crisis took on a Cold War tone when Washington threatened to make Russia and China “pay” for backing the government in Damascus.

Manaf Tlas, a cadet college classmate, Republican Guard general and son of Assad’s father’s defense chief, has yet to surface abroad, or clearly to throw his lot in with the rebels, who acknowledged the loss of one of their strongholds overnight.

Jul 6, 2012

Friend of Assad deserts Syria for France

BEIRUT (Reuters) – Syrian general Manaf Tlas, a friend and ally of President Bashar al-Assad who headed a unit of the elite Republican Guard, has fled Damascus and is on his way to Paris, a close family friend and the French government said on Friday.

“He left Syria and arrived yesterday in Turkey. He wants to come to France to join his family,” the friend told Reuters by telephone from the French capital. He declined to give details of Tlas’s flight from Syria, where witnesses said security officials had ransacked his home in Damascus on Thursday.

Jul 6, 2012

Defection cheers anti-Assad coalition at Paris meet

PARIS/BEIRUT (Reuters) – The defection of a Syrian general who is a personal friend of President Bashar al-Assad gave a huge boost to anti-government rebels as Western and Arab states met them in Paris on Friday to help prise Assad from power.

In some of the strongest U.S. remarks yet on a crisis that has divided the United Nations Security Council along Cold War lines, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton told the Paris conference that Russia and China must “pay a price” for blocking U.N. sanctions that might press Assad into stepping down.

Jun 29, 2012

Insight: In “Islamist” Egypt, generals still have final say

By Samia Nakhoul

(Reuters) – Egypt’s army will continue to be the guardian and ultimate arbiter of the state after moving to secure real power before the victory of Mohammed Mursi, the Islamist president who triumphed in last week’s election run-off.

While the generals saw no alternative to respecting the popular vote for Mursi and the Muslim Brotherhood, they see it as their obligation to forestall any attempt by Egypt’s new leadership to create an Islamic state under sharia law, senior officers, intelligence officials and diplomats told Reuters.