National Salvation Front Meeting in London
Anyone attending the meeting of the National Salvation Front at the Dorchester hotel on Park Lane in London should send me their impressions and comments. I will post in a round up of the conference. Thanks. Joshua
Here is a teaser from one friend who was there:
I just went along this morning to the opening press conference of the National Salvation Front of Syria in the gaudy opulence of the Dorchester hotel on Park Lane. Khaddam kept everyone waiting for an hour before delivering his speech, full of the usual platitudes about democracy, freedom, liberty, nationhood, and apple pie. Like he's had the same consistent message for 30 years and didn't just change his tune less than a year ago. The fact that Bayanouni was able to get there on time from his little semi out in the sticks whereas Khaddam only had to take the lift down three floors speaks volumes about both men. They played the rather martial-sounding Syrian national anthem and then Khaddam gave a twenty-minute speech marred by occasional feedback problems on the sound system and the odd mobile going off. In his one concession to his new ally he finished by saying that he hoped Allah would make their way easier and enable them to choose the right path.Economy
Here are two comments just sent regarding the previous "economy" post. One is from a leading Syrian analyst, who gives some good clarification on the economic figures slopping around:
Hi Joshua,The next comment is from George Ajjan, who writes:
A quick comment on the recent post about economic growth figures. First, keep in mind that the target GDP growth rate that Dardari is shooting for is 7%, and that what made the 5.5% figure so important is its origins in "non-oil" sources of revenue. I met with Dardari last week, and he was clearly pleased as could be to be able to report these numbers, even if your correspondent, along with economists here (like Sukkar) are having trouble figuring out the components of the statistic. However, the 5.5% is not a total GDP growth figure, which is what your column implies. It refers only to the non-oil components. One reason this is so important, of course, has to do with the central role that non-oil sectors must play in hitting the employment target that Dardari has set of 200,000 new jobs per year. With this non-oil growth -- assuming for now that it is accurate - this figure will have been met, or nearly met, representing an unprecedented number of new jobs created in Syria -- the highest ever. Not surprisingly, the job creation figures are received with some skepticism, as well. For one thing, there are estimates that Syria needs to create something on the order of 300,000 new jobs per year to absorb new entrants into the workforce, and this number doesn't take into account the under-employed and those working informally. So even if we accept the government's numbers, there are indications that even this historically high level of job creation will address only a portion of the problem. And if the government numbers are wrong?
If someone is able to unpack the non-oil growth numbers, I'd be very interested to see what they discover.
I have written about the Schenker article today, here - to me it's an early draft of a more general neo-con concession speech.