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Saturday, January 27, 2007

syriapol mentioned in new Syrian magazine

"FW:", a new english language Syrian magazine, has mentioned syriapol in its inaugural issue, in an article discussing US sanctions against Syria.

...the US also needs to reevaluate the tactical elements of the existing sanctions in place, and the guidelines given to companies who make decisions regarding transactions with sanctioned nations like Syria. In some cases, the policies are downright reckless, especially concerning virtual business conducted over the Internet.

For example, the website called "Syriapol – A Syrian Democracy Project", a public opinion portal designed to measure Syrian political attitudes toward governance, economic progress, democratic reforms, and the peace process, was blocked from view in Syria. Contrary to intuition, though, it was not the Syrian government that had censored the site, but rather the American company, a very popular webhosting service called GoDaddy.com, from whom the domain name had been purchased, which blocks anyone inside Syria from accessing any website that they register. The company explained, "The United States Government asks that we do not conduct business with [Syria]…if a person resides in [Syria], they will not be able to complete a purchase from our website or access our network…this means that people in [Syria] will not be able to access our services."

The irony of this position is beyond ridiculous. A website branded as "A Syrian Democracy Project", devoted to promoting democratic concepts to the Syrian people in line with the Bush Administration’s objectives, cannot be accessed because of American sanctions designed to punish the Syrian government for not being democratic enough.

This flawed tactical policy espoused by the Bush Administration blatantly spites the President's stated goal of spreading freedom. It also contradicts the strategic advice of the congressional panelists, several of whom pointed out the importance of preserving people-to-people exchange between conflicting nations. America cannot
expect to see positive change and a strengthening of a reform agenda in countries like Syria if it supports attempts to block Syrian citizens from even viewing the Internet.
The article is not yet online, but scans can be found here: page 1 and page 2.