France, the U.S. and other countries are showing little confidence in the week-old Syria cease-fire, increasing the pressure on President Bashar al-Assad to halt the violence while aiding his opponents.
The city pulsed to a beat it hadn’t felt for decades as it welcomed its new president. Intellectuals met at private political salons for open, lively discussions of topics they had only dared to mention in whispers before: demands for greater democracy, the suspension of emergency law, an end to the ruling party’s domination.
The powerful brother of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad is suspected of authorizing the chemical weapons attack that killed hundreds of Syrian civilians, according to a United Nations official who monitors armed conflicts in the region.
President Barack Obama’s decision to seek congressional authority to attack Syria for alleged chemical weapons use has dismayed friends, delighted foes and prompted criticism that he’s undermined U.S. credibility.
Sometime after midnight on a recent Thursday in Damascus, restaurant manager Aziz Asfahani joined friends at the newly opened Bartini lounge bar, where Syria’s elite dine and dance till dawn on tabletops to the thump of patriotic songs.