By Alex Ray
For every civilisation that has arisen on the territory now occupied by Beirut, one asset has been central – its harbour. Nowadays the port district (Al Marfa in Arabic) has an air of neglect. It remains vital to the economic life of modern Beirut but is barely visible to most inhabitants of today’s sprawling, chaotic city.
By Alex Ray
“The Kebabs are ready dad!” Faris yells over his shoulder. His father, busy preparing the bread and tomatoes cannot hear him, so he calls again. “Dad, they are ready!”
Taking matters into his own hands, Faris locates a near-full jerry can of water and drags it across the grassy picnic ground to douse the coals on the barbecue. Faris is only four years old and the jerry can is only slightly shorter than he is. But like most of Jordan’s refugee children he is fast learning to be independent.
By Alex Ray – in Foreign Brief on August 3rd 2016.
Western coverage of the Syrian conflict has largely overlooked allegations that Israel is backing jihadists fighting in Syria. Middle Eastern leaders have a history of blaming domestic unrest on such conspiracies – particularly when Israel is involved. Although conspiracies of Israeli support for Al Qaeda and ISIS are largely hyperbole, the country’s posture towards the Syrian conflict and its relations with jihadi groups deserve closer inspection. Continue reading
An edited version of my article on Syria’s partition appeared in Woroni (Australian National University Newspaper) in March 2016 and can be accessed here.
Alex Ray – 08.09.2015
Thanks to the Sydney Morning Herald this week for providing another example of poorly researched, illogical and one-sided reporting on Syria.
Alex Ray 26.08.15
“Traveling to Palmyra this week was a great break from Damascus and a welcome refresher on the amazing history of the region. Although this time we had the same driver (Abu Adnan) in Palmyra, nothing else was the same. It was hot dusty and dry, and the tourism industry of the place was suffering hugely. The hotel we stayed in (Tetraplyon) was completely empty and the ruins of Palmyra were host to only 20 or so tourists.” – diary entry for the 24th April 2011, Palmyra, Syria.
Tears fell for Palmyra this week as ISIS beheaded its long-time curator Khaled al-Asaad and destroyed one of its most famous Roman-era monuments. The rose-coloured stone – which romanced so many visitors – has been obliterated. The world owes a debt to all who have died in defence of Syria and Iraq’s heritage. Those tears were for them, for the lost treasures of our collective past and for the future of the region. Continue reading
Lunchtime Sunday February 1: despite being the start of the working week, crowds throng the main entrance to Souk Hamidiyyeh in central Damascus. Buses come and go from the central bus stop a few hundred metres away. They are same ones I developed a love hate relationship with while studying in Damascus.
Influencing public opinion on the Syrian civil war continues to be just as important to winning as fighting on the ground. The ever-increasing complexity of the conflict means what is not said can be just as influential as what is said. Reporting that ignores context and vital explanatory detail can simply confuse or, even worse, mislead the reader.