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Syria

An Exile Returns to Find Syria Changed Forever

No Country for Young Men

A routine show of control in a Syrian intelligence office masked a deeper truth about the country I had returned to: It was no longer the police state of Hafez al-Assad, who bequeathed his son Bashar a frightened and submissive country. My trip home to see friends and family showed me that on the contrary, that country has gone forever. But what lies in the future is no less bleak. For the iron grip of the security services is not the only thing I saw had changed; the very fabric of society has been fundamentally altered by the long years of conflict.

Tangled Tale of the Fugitive Nazi and the Syrian Secret Service

The Tale of a Fugitive Nazi

Alois Brunner, one of the vilest Holocaust perpetrators, personally oversaw the arrest, deportation and murder of thousands of Jews in France, Slovakia, Greece and other countries. He lived in hiding in Damascus and served the Syrian government for decades, but it was President Hafez al-Assad who finally decided to imprison Brunner in 1996.

The Passing of a Syrian General Famed for Brutality

The Passing of a Syrian General Famed for Brutality

In the decade leading up to the momentous events of 2011 in Syria, the new generation of regime officers did not need to show publicly that they were as brutal and repressive as Ali Haydar’s generation, and this gave a false sense of softness and rationality, which is probably why many Syrians underestimated how brutal they could be, when challenged for the seat of power. Haydar would have given them no illusions.

A Nazi Taught Interrogation Tactics to Syrians and Egyptians

A Nazi Taught Interrogation Tactics to Syrians and Egyptians

It’s impossible to know whether Brunner saw the legacy of his brutal tactics bear fruit. But there is little doubt that Syrian and Egyptian interrogators today apply the same methods against their compatriots that the Nazis used against the Jews.

How I Survived a Syrian Gulag

How I Survived a Syrian Gulag

I used Bashar al-Assad’s words about change and hope for Syrians. He ordered me to lift my blindfold and then slapped me with bitterness and cruelty, repeating a series of insults accompanied by the phrase, “An intellectual, you bastard? An intellectual?”

Assad Remakes Syrian Faith to Suit the Regime’s Needs

Assad Remakes Syrian Faith to Suit the Regime’s Needs

Since the 2011 uprising, the Assad regime has turned to religion to shore up the state. The result is a religious power grab by the regime, intent on the “Assadization” of Sunni Islam.

How Syrian Monastery Culture Spread

How Syrian Monastery Culture Spread

Syrian monastic culture was extensive and influential, yet remains underappreciated, especially its effect on European Christianity, from architecture to music to religious practice. That same inspirational culture is under constant threat today, with destruction from aerial bombardment by Russian and Syrian forces.