Academic journal article The Middle East Journal

Chronology: Syria

Academic journal article The Middle East Journal

Chronology: Syria

Article excerpt

See also Egypt, Lebanon, Turkey

Jan. 18: Syria freed two of its most prominent political prisoners, Riad Seif and Mamoun al-Homsi, both former legislators who called for democratic change and an end to corruption. Both were arrested in 2001 following organization of "democracy forums" in their homes and a hunger strike by al-Homsi to protest government corruption. [NYT, 1/19]

The United States Treasury froze US assets belonging to Syrian Military Intelligence Chief Asif Shawkat and criticized his domination of Lebanon and contribution to terrorism against Israel. The Treasury Department also barred US citizens from doing business with Shawkat. [BBC, 1/18]

Feb. 4: The Danish and Norwegian embassies in Damascus were set on fire by protestors angered by cartoons depicting the Prophet Muhammad published in the Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten, and subsequently reprinted in Norway. There were no reported injuries, however both Denmark and Norway urged their citizens to leave Syria. [VOA, 2/4]

Feb. 11: President Bashar al-Asad appointed new interior and foreign ministers, shoring up his government as it faced external pressure over its involvement in Lebanon. Bassam 'Abd al-Majeed, a senior security officer was appointed Interior Minister and Walid al-Mu'allim filled the post of Foreign Minister. Majeed replaced General Ghazi Kan'an, who was found dead in his office from a gunshot wound in October 2005. Mu'allim took over from Farouq alShara, who had filled the post of Foreign Minister for 22 years but was appointed Vice President. …

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