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Sami Moubayed
Sami Moubayed is a Syrian historian and founder of The Damascus History Foundation, an online project aimed at collecting and protecting the endangered archives of the Syrian capital. Between 2012-2013 he was a visiting scholar at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace in Beirut. His research focuses on Syria, Lebanon, Iraq, and the Arab-Israeli conflict. He is also a research fellow at St. Andrews University in Scotland and a co-founder of its Syrian Studies Center. Moubayed is an expert on pre-Baath Syria.

Moubayed served as editor-in-chief of Forward Magazine, Syria’s premier English monthly from 2006 to 2011. In 2004, he co-founded, the first online museum of Syrian history. In 2005-2012 he taught international relations at the University of Kalamoon in Syria, where he currently serves on the board of trustees.

Moubayed has written several books, including Damascus Between Democracy and Dictatorship (University Press of America, 2000), Steel & Silk: Men and Women Who Shaped Syria 1900-2000 (Cune Press, 2005), and Syria and the USA: From Wilson to Eisenhower (IB Tauris, 2012). His last book, "Under the Black Flag: At the frontiers of the New Jihad" was published in London in 2015.

Moubayed studied at the American University of Beirut (AUB) and obtained his PhD in Middle East Affairs from the University of Exeter.

Entries by Sami Moubayed

How Erdogan Rewrote History of the Great Arab Revolt

(23) Comments | Posted June 24, 2016 | 4:15 PM

This month marks the 100th anniversary of the self-proclaimed "Great" Arab Revolt of 1916, launched against Ottoman rule from the Arabian Desert by Sharif Hussein, emir of Mecca. Thanks to a systematic decade-long campaign orchestrated by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the event will pass almost unnoticed in most Arab...

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Hammams of Old Damascus: Back from the Dead

(1) Comments | Posted June 11, 2016 | 3:32 AM

The fabled Turkish baths of Damascus, or hammams, have been the subject of literature and film for decades. Not too long ago, they were a prime tourist attraction in the Syrian capital but many closed down and sunk into oblivion because of the spiraling violence after 2011.

If there is...

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Bitter Is the Wind: A Book of Sorrow and Joy

(0) Comments | Posted April 9, 2016 | 12:29 PM

Every so often a novel appears on the American literary landscape from authors deeply embedded in local life. As a result, these authors are able to illuminate the existence of ordinary folk who, like most Americans, live out their lives a long way from the glitter of the media capitals....

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Damascene Sufism: The Antidote to ISIS

(34) Comments | Posted November 24, 2015 | 3:33 PM

When the Islamic State stormed the city of al-Mayadeen in the eastern countryside of Deir ez-Zour along the Euphrates River, they struck with particular vengeance at the homes of Syrian Sufis. Members of the Sufi order were arrested; their clerics were flogged, their spiritual corners torn down. Sufism, after all,...

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A Two-Way Street: Emigration from Damascus

(0) Comments | Posted November 24, 2015 | 1:15 PM

Twenty-seven US governors have recently closed their state's borders to Syrian refugees, including Michigan, Texas, and Alabama. Syrian Paranoia is in full-gear after at least one of the suspected Paris attackers was identified as a Syrian citizen who arrived in Europe via Greece last October, officially registered as a "Syrian...

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Hitler, Benjamin and Hajj Amin

(1) Comments | Posted October 26, 2015 | 3:15 PM

It's always rather fun when world leaders make historical mistakes. As a historian, I roll over laughing. In 2005, for example, the emir of Qatar got it wrong when counting the presidential elections in Iran. That was a small mistake, of course, but emirs and kings are not supposed to...

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Curse of the Achille Lauro, a Great Book in the Worst of Times

(0) Comments | Posted September 11, 2015 | 11:19 AM

At this time of year exactly thirty years ago, a Palestinian militant named Abu al-Abbas sat behind his office desk in Tunis, laying the final touches on an operation scheduled for October 1985. A top lieutenant working closely with Yasser Arafat, Abu al-Abbas was planning to send four of his...

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My Reflections on Meeting Jimmy Carter in Syria

(1) Comments | Posted August 27, 2015 | 9:10 AM

In October 2010, President Jimmy Carter visited Damascus with a senior delegation from The Elders, an international NGO of senior citizens and peacemakers brought together by President Nelson Mandela.

The delegation that came to Damascus included UN special envoy Lakhdar Brahimi and Mary Robinson, the former president of Ireland....

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A Long, Hard Look at 'Zionism in Damascus'

(21) Comments | Posted August 13, 2015 | 11:40 AM

A healthy debate is currently underway within some Syrian intellectual circles, despite the disaster that has befallen them, about the role of Damascus Jews in the industry, culture and social life of their city prior the creation of the State of Israel in 1948. The issue surfaced a few years...

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A Balance Sheet on Tarek Aziz

(0) Comments | Posted June 6, 2015 | 2:01 PM

In the late 1950s, a young Iraqi fugitive showed up at a furniture gallery on Salhieh Street in Damascus, right behind the historic Syrian Parliament. His name was Tarek Aziz, a member of the underground Iraqi Baath Party, temporarily residing in Damascus. He was "wanted" back home in Iraq--along with...

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The Said El Djezairi Memoirs: A Must Read for ISIS and Its Caliph

(0) Comments | Posted June 6, 2015 | 6:53 AM

In 1968, an obscure 334-page memoir was published in Algeria, penned by Emir Said El Djezairi, a Damascus-based Algerian notable. The author and his memoirs are both forgotten names in modern Middle East history. The west better knows him by genealogy as grandson of Emir Abdelkader El Djezairi, the fascinating...

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A Coup in ISIL-stan?

(1) Comments | Posted May 12, 2015 | 10:43 AM

There are many things in life that Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi doesn't like. For starters, he doesn't like to be called "Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi." His official name is Caliph Ibrahim. "Abu ِBaker al-Baghdadi" was his nom de guerre, used during his underground years in Iraq. Officially he is no longer an...

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A New Bible for Scholars of King Faisal I

(1) Comments | Posted May 4, 2015 | 4:33 PM

The revolt turned civil war has held all Syrians by the throat since 2011. Entire cities have been pounded to dust. The social fabric of the ancient land has collapsed, and so has the economy, along with the people's moral. Hundreds of thousands of Syrians have drowned in blood --...

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The 13th Boy: A Memoir of Education and Abuse

(0) Comments | Posted October 9, 2014 | 6:53 PM

A new book by the poet and dramatist Stephen Fife bears witness to the point that sexual abuse occupies a strange place in the American landscape. It has been released by Seattle-based publisher Cune Press. On the one hand, sexual abuse seems to be everywhere. We are told that as...

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Be Careful What You Wish for in Iraq

(0) Comments | Posted August 15, 2014 | 11:17 AM

Be careful of what you wish for, because it might just happen. This pretty much applies to all those who were dying to see an end to the Iran-backed Prime Minister of Iraq, Nuri al-Malki. A radical Shiite affiliated with the Islamic-driven Dawa Party, Malki has ruled Iraq through a...

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The Rise and Fall of an Algerian Tycoon

(0) Comments | Posted August 14, 2014 | 8:30 AM

The Arab Spring and its aftershocks have eclipsed almost every other story coming out of the Arab World since 2011. One of these fascinating sagas has been the rise, collapse, arrest, and trial of eccentric Algerian tycoon Rafik Abdelmoumene Khalifa. It's a relatively short story indeed, starting in 1998 and...

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The Ottoman Revival That Is Anything but Brotherly

(2) Comments | Posted August 11, 2014 | 12:04 PM

July marked the 100th anniversary of the start of the First World War. It also marks the beginning of the end of the once all powerful and glorious Ottoman Empire. The Ottomans marched victoriously into the Arab world via Damascus on September 26, 1516. They marched out of the very...

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The Ghost of Gamal Abdul Nasser

(0) Comments | Posted July 30, 2013 | 12:51 PM

A black and white photograph is making the rounds on social media networks. It shows Egyptian President Gamal Abdul Nasser saluted by a six-year-old boy in 1960. The photo was taken during the short-lived Syrian-Egyptian Union. The boy is Abdul Fattah al-Sisi, engineer of the recent coup that toppled President...

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A Wake Up Call for the Syrian Brotherhood

(13) Comments | Posted July 18, 2013 | 3:48 PM

When Ahmad Mouaz al-Khatib was elected president of the Syrian National Alliance in late 2012, red flags were raised at the offices of the Syrian Muslim Brotherhood. The Brothers feared ideological competition from someone who like them, was preaching Sunni Islam. Their niche, after all, was the conservative Sunni Muslim...

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Are Coups Always Bad?

(0) Comments | Posted July 8, 2013 | 12:48 PM

"Allahu akbar" shouted Syrian and Egyptian soldiers in the Saudi Arabian desert in January 1991, when news crept in at 3:00 a.m. that Saddam Hussein had fired Scuds on Israel. Jubilantly, they warmly embraced and cheered for Abu Uday. Suddenly, however, the troops became cautiously mute, remembering that this man,...

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