Ammar Abdulhamid in senile Syria

Ammar Abdbulhamid, the Syrian reformer and dissident, is the subject of a profile in this morning’s New York Times. Abdulhamid is a courageous spokesman for progressive change in the Arab world, who’s also drawn attention to the obligation of governments to protect minorities a point on which Arab regimes historically have had an appalling record. Abdulhamid appeared together with me at The Washington Institute last December, and we shared a panel on the theme of what happens “When Minorities Rule.” Here’s a summary of his forthright remarks, devoted largely to Syria. (And here’s a summary and full text of my own presentation.)

Abdulhamid returned to Damascus last month (he had done a stint at the Saban Center), and he started a blog, here. It’s got exactly one entry, in which he reports that his travel has been restricted:

It’s been 20 days since our return to the Senile Country. A cold security reception at the airport set the tone of this homecoming, more or less, and culminated in a travel ban. Still, seeing the kids at the airport was absolutely rejuvenating.

The travel ban is not total, that is, I can still travel if I want, provided that I get a security clearance before I leave and report back upon my return.

Oh, of all the stupid things they could do? Did they really think they can put me on a leash? Did they think that I’d accept, that I’d cooperate? Well, they have another thing coming. I happen to be very much fond of the idea of staying at home at this stage and cutting down on travel time. I have proposals and articles to write, a team to enlarge, conferences to plan and people to hassle. This is going to be a productive year, a very productive year for all of us here.

Sandbox will track his adventures closely.

Update: Abdulhamid has made another blog entry, his second, this Sunday morning. Today he had a meeting with the Military Security Apparatus, and he goes back tomorrow. (The brigadier general was too busy to see him…)