A businessman admits that he ‘let go’ an employee because he was a Sunni Muslim. You simply have to look after yourself, he explains. I am shocked, like a good Westerner should be.
American power in the Middle East is collapsing. It doesn’t need much more than a shove, and it will – and that’s not going to be a good thing.
And it’s true, you hear things in Damascus and, after a few hours, the human double-take stops operating.
Bin Laden always wanted to get rid of Mubarek and Ben Ali and Gaddafi and so on, claiming that they were all infidels working for America, and in fact, it was millions of ordinary people who peacefully, more or less – certainly in the case of Tunisia and Egypt – got rid of them.
Clinton impressed Assad: a young man who appeared to want to be neutral in the Arab-Israeli dispute – an illusion of course, but that’s what Assad thought.
Colleagues will malign you if you’re a moderately successful journalist.
I do not make stories up, full stop.
I don’t know what happens if they get bin Laden. I’m much more interested in what happens if they don’t get bin Laden.
I’m not sure whether I’ve been happy. After my last book tour, I sat on my balcony with a cup of tea. I thought: ‘You can’t rewind the movie. I’ve spent more than half my life in the Middle East. There have been great moments of horror and depression and loneliness.’
I’ve never been embedded with American soldiers or British soldiers or Iraqi soldiers or any other.
In one way, I fear all Damascus is a dungeon. Or do you have to live here to appreciate that?
Israel lost its war. Will Assad’s enemies lose, too?
It is always an eerie experience to sit among Bashar al-Assad’s soldiers.
It’s a journalist’s job to be a witness to history. We’re not there to worry about ourselves. We’re there to try and get as near as we can, in an imperfect world, to the truth and get the truth out.
One of the reasons why I think people have gone from reading mainstream newspapers to the Internet is because they realize they’re being lied to.
President Bush will come here and there will be new ‘friends’ of America to open a new relationship with the world, new economic fortunes for those who ‘liberated’ them.
President Bush will come here and there will be new “friends” of America to open a new relationship with the world, new economic fortunes for those who “liberated” them.
Tanks come in two forms: the dangerous, deadly kind and the ‘liberating’ kind.
Tanks come in two forms: the dangerous, deadly kind and the “liberating” kind.
The Americans may think they have ‘liberated’ Baghdad but the tens of thousands of thieves – they came in families and cruised the city in trucks and cars searching for booty – seem to have a different idea what liberation means.
The biggest problem I have in journalism is being quoted or misquoted and then being asked to defend something I haven’t said.
The dead cannot speak. But hitherto unknown information has emerged from the confidential archives of the Syrian presidency and foreign ministry, published in a new book by Bouthaina Shaaban, who spent ten years as Hafez’s interpreter and is still an adviser to his son Bashar.
The Middle East is a land of great injustice. The Israelis can claim – or wish to, at least – that Lord Balfour’s Declaration of 1917 promised Britain support for a Jewish homeland in Palestine, which didn’t just mean the left-hand bit that became Israel.
The Second World War is and was constantly being drudged up by Blair and Bush to rationalize the invasion of Iraq.
The Syrian army is tired of corruption. It is tired of party nepotism. It is becoming very angry with those it blames for the war.
The word ‘democracy’ and the name of Assad do not blend very well in much of Syria.
There is nothing so satisfying as to be shot at without effect.
U.S. journalists I don’t think are very courageous. They tend to go along with the government’s policy domestically and internationally. To question is seen as being unpatriotic, or potentially subversive.
We are constantly trying to cope with what our fathers or our grandfathers did. I wrote the book ‘Great War of Civilization,’ and my father was a solider in the First World War which produced the current Middle East – not that he had much to do with that – but he fought in what he believed was the Great War for Civilization.
When I visited Syrian special forces along the front lines, I was given extraordinary amounts of detail. They gave me the code numbers for the various positions they’ve got, told me where the rebels were – about 800 meters away in a forest. I met soldiers who had been wounded but were still serving.
When you have a crime against humanity that is so awesome in scale and death, it is more than permissible to look around and say, who recently has been declaring war on the United States? Of course, the compass points straight to bin Laden.
William Dalrymple called me a war junkie in his silly book. No, I don’t have a desire for it. I’m appalled and infuriated by it.