I commend to you two photographers, John Wreford, who spent ten Years in Damascus, four in Istanbul and is now living in Sofia, Bulgaria (See his site here), And Martina Korkmaz, whose site, The Depth of Now, explores Istanbul through storytelling and photography. Ms. Korkmaz interviews Wreford about his time in Damascus, among other topics, and features some of his photography, in this article. Worth your time.
Screen grab of what was Syria’s third largest city, Homs. From drone video you can view here.
"We're the great nation that has allies – 42 allies and friends around the world," the Governor told us in last night's debate. Here, for the record, are the United States' 42 allies, according to Romney spokeswoman Andrea Saul:
First there are the NATO allies: Albania, Belgium, Bulgaria, Canada, Croatia, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Turkey, United Kingdom. Then there are a few more: Australia, Egypt, Israel, Japan, South Korea, Jordan, New Zealand, Argentina, Bahrain, Philippines, Thailand, Kuwait, Morocco, Pakistan, Afghanistan.
Unfortunately, we appear not to be allied with Singapore or Taiwan or Indonesia or Austria or Switzerland or Sweden or Finland or Ireland or South Africa. But we're solid with Bulgaria.
In arguing for engagement with Latin America, Governor Romney pointed out that its "economy is almost as big as the economy of China." How are we set for allies down that way? Not Chile or Uruguay or Peru or Colombia or Brazil or Panama or Costa Rica or Mexico or any island in the Carribbean. Darn it, our only ally in Latin America is Argentina.
One other thing, which relates to the previous article on geography: Governor Romney said "Syria is Iran's only ally in the Arab world. It's their route to the sea."
Activity: In your atlas, find "Persian Gulf." Note proximity to Iran.
Here's Syria's Baath Party office in Beirut, from a visit to Lebanon in August 1999, when Hafez Assad (in the posters), Bashar's father, was still in charge. Hafez Assad died in June 2000, and Bashar has been in charge since. Although the House of Assad looks considerably more shaky this morning.
Where will Bashar and the wife go? Russia says no (although that was two weeks ago). Tunisia is said to have offered (although that was almost six months ago). Belarus, maybe. Iran? Any number of unstable African states in the Sahel, possibly, although Muammar Muhammad Abu Minyar al-Gaddafi's son Saif turned out to be anything but safe on his run at leaving Libya for Niger, to name one possible Sahelian refuge. Sudan? Chad? Mauritania?
Any of those obscure little oases might turn out to be frying-pan-to-the-fire moves for the clan. Besides, I'm betting copies of Vogue wouldn't be so easy for the Rose in the Desert, Bashar's wife Asma, to find in Chad.
In light of the, ah … acceleration of events today, suddenly the question is whether the fun couple can make it to a Lukashenko vacation villa (not on the beach, unfortunately, as Belarus has no shore) or to an Iranian guest house before time runs out.
Long, interesting article: The Last Tourist in Syria.
In 2000 when Hafez al-Assad died, we were in Vietnam, and curtailed a day of tourism to watch the news play out on CNN. Since having read Patrick Seale’s definitive Asad: The Struggle for the Millde East, I’ve had a special appetite for his little eye doctor boy’s regime to go. Let the chips fall where they may, and let us hope we can all visit a free Damascus soon. We can hope, can’t we?
The Belgravia Dispatch weighs in.