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Hafez al-Assad

A Once Powerful Patriarch Returns to an Unrecognizable Syria

Return of the Prodigal Uncle

For decades, whenever Rifaat came back to Damascus, there was something that he wanted. But by the time he returned to Damascus weeks ago, Syria had moved far beyond all of his former positions and wishes.

Archaeology Turns Political to Benefit a Trio of Middle East Strongmen

Dictators and Hijacked Heritage

Both Saddam and Assad recognized the value of their countries’ archaeological heritage and adapted it to suit their interpretations of what they thought the Baath Socialist Party should be.

The Wandering Alawite

The Wandering Alawite

Syria's Alawite minority have always been painfully aware of the fragility of sectarian coexistence. Many of us preferred one dictator, Bashar al-Assad, to a Syria broken into multiple sectarian dictatorships. So, despite reservations, despite its repression, we still stuck by the regime.

Adnan Younes
Syria’s House of Poetry

Syria’s House of Poetry

Roula Roukbi is among the few Damascus socialites who created an alternative space for art, culture, and some politics in the city. She excelled at living as if Syria was a free country, and in many respects, her hotel came to embody a microcosm of what freedom might one day look like.

Lina Sinjab
How Israel Weighed Its Syria Policy, Before and After the Uprising

How Israel Weighed Its Syria Policy, Before and After the Uprising

The outbreak of the Syrian uprising caught Israel by surprise. Here a former negotiator considers how close Syria and Israel got to a peace deal before the revolution – and how, as the civil war unfolded, Israel’s thinking evolved on how to respond to the war next door.

Itamar Rabinovich
When Assad’s End Comes

When Assad’s End Comes

For fifty years, just one family has ruled Syria. But even that rule, long and brutal though it is, will have an end, and a new Syrian story can begin.

Lina Sergie Attar
Present at the Creation of the Syrian Revolution

Present at the Creation of the Syrian Revolution

Studying Arabic in Syria gave one student a first-hand perspective on the tensions and grievances of living in the country. But he could never have predicted how rapidly early protests would give way to a civil war.

Sasha Ghosh-Siminoff