Friday, March 30, 2007

Damascus massacre - an update on UNESCO's actions

The good news is that UNESCO is sending a delegation to Damascus. The delegation will try to bring the authorities to their senses over their insane plans to "modernise" parts of the old city and put a stop to the destruction.

They will meet tomorrow, 31 March. The delegation will then report the outcome to UNESCO's World Heritage Committee, which is made up of 21 member states. The Committee is scheduled to meet between 23 June and 2 July to review all conservation reports including the one on Damascus. The Committee's deliberations and recommendations will be made public through press releases or postings on their website during their meetings or shortly afterwards.

So, let's wait and see. In the meantime, let us hope the bulldozers do not get there first.


اسفرجل said...

All Syrian news at

Anonymous said...

Forgive me for posting an unrelated questio, but I'd like to ask anyhow:

This week, someone called Ibrahim Suleiman, visited Israel, supposedly to promote peace between Israel and Syria. He claimed to represent the Syrian government.

Can Anybody shed some light on this: Who is he? who exactly does he represent?


Philip I said...


Ibrahim Suleiman is a US-based Alawite businessman who is close to the Syrian regime and has conducted unofficial negotiations with Israeli politicians - See for example this link:

Anonymous said...

Thanks philip,

Here in Israel there's been a lot of discussion about whether Mr.
Suleiman represents The syrian Govt. or whether he's just a trial balloon which can be dis-avowed if necessary.

The Nuance is important: Although the Israeli govt. made a show of taking him seriously (The first syrian representative EVER to Visit Israel, address the Knesset-Israel's parliament, meet the PM, etc. etc). From a negotiations point of view, he's been pretty much ignored.

DOES he represent President Assad as he claims?


Philip I said...


Is it reality or is it theatre? The boundary is deliberately blurred by both sides, so each can test public opinion without commitment and deny official involvement if public opposition proves too strong.

Does Suleiman represent the Syrian regime? Well, he is a messenger. He has no authority to negotiate on behalf of the regime or the Syrian people. Syria and Israel are technically still at war. Negotiations have to be conducted by official representatives of both sides probably under the auspices of some UN body or superpower patronage.

I am no friend of the Syrian regime but if you ask me, it is good that Syria and Israel are talking rather than fighting. However, be under no illusion, the Syrian regime cannot deliver a separate peace deal because the grievances of the Palestinians cannot be swept under the carpet. Smart people in your government know this and that is probably why they are not taking these approaches from the Assad clan very seriously. The most that can be achieved through such contacts is to get people to accept, over time, that a peace deal is both possible and desirable. So, in principle I'm in favour of them.

The Saudi peace plan is probably the best serious offer around at present but I get the impression that the Israeli public is not ready to stomach that.

Fares said...

Philip, you always have the best answers and the smartest ones, you describe things like they are. I miss reading more posts from you so please write a new one as soon as you can!!!!


Fares said...

Help Iraqi Christians

zaralita said...

Hello Phillip!

i know this was an old topic
but do you have any update on what is happening to the blessed old city?!

have any plans of city development been released?

any info would be most appreciated


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