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Talk:Syria

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"A taxi from Beirut to Damascus will cost about..." was revised from $15 to $18 here (Sep'05) then from $18 to $10 here (Jan'06) - is the $18->$10 edit valid? (or maybe $18 is "per seat" and $10 is "per person"?)

-"hounded by children begging for money, pens..." Children begging for pens? Are they selling the pens? Perhaps similar to kids in Tijuana? Folduprabbit

I think they meant begging for pens. I've toned the language down a bit. Geocachernemesis 05:01, 21 February 2007 (EST)

Safety[edit]

Sorry, but I reverted your edits... calling Syria "very" safe to travel isn't correct, so if you're going to bring up the US State dept's statements, I'd like you to point out somewhere in one of them a statement that sounds anything like that... Here's the most current consular info sheet and travel warning. If you disagree, talk about it here. And advising people to stay away from the US Embassy and buildings like it isn't really relevant, regardless of if there was a bomb attack. If someone needs to reach their embassy, then they need to reach their embassy... a statement here isn't going to change that - Cacahuate 17:35, 21 February 2007 (EST)

I'm not sure what it is with you guys, but you really do love your wholesale reversion. You will note that more than half of the edits you reverted didn't relate directly to the concerns you have raised. It would have been better if you had modified only the parts that you disagreed with. I was trying to add to the usefulness of this article as a rescource for travellers. I don't think that is served by bringing in the opinions of the US State Department, because they are highly likely to be politically motivated. My experience with Syria is that it is far safer than it is given credit for. You should have noticed that my edit said that Syria was generally very safe, meaning that occasionally it is not that safe, particularly around the boundries with Lebanon and Jordan. Just having the attack on the US Embassy mentioned without anything else is simply a scare tactic. There needs to be a reason to include it, and the danger of a repeat attack was the only good one I could think of. I wasn't saying that you shouldn't go to the embassy area in Damascus, but that it would be prudant to avioid it when you can, because lightning can strike twice. Anyway, this article needs a lot of work before it is ready to be used. I will look on with interest to see how it develops. Geocachernemesis 05:02, 22 February 2007 (EST)
Actually, it's very good in my view, being a Wikipedian, your view to whats needed might be different, here we talk about what matters, not about how many grains of sand Syria has.... --MiddleEastern 12:40, 22 February 2007 (EST)[not that I disagree about Syria being safe, I live here! and I'm aware of nature of the official US "truth"]
More than 1/2??? I mistakenly overlooked the tiny addition to service taxis you made, which I'll restore now... but pretty much everything else was toning down what you wrote (actually what you re-wrote, it had already been toned toned down once, and if you disagreed then you can come here and talk about it instead of just re-adding). I don't think we're heavy handed with the reverts at all, and when it's someone like you who is well meaning and not just a vandal we come to the talk page or the user talk page and explain what we've done, as I did above. I welcome your contributions, including the one we're discussing, but just know that others may disagree, so we'll then work towards a consensus. I hope you'll contribute more, with that in mind  :) - Cacahuate 15:56, 22 February 2007 (EST)
Ok, a little more, read your post too quickly... re the embassy, I don't think it's weird to just say that the embassy was attacked, or that "sometimes Western interests are targeted", that's a pretty standard statement. If it was something other than an embassy, than maybe yes we could say to avoid it or the area, but telling people that the embassy was bombed and should be avoided, to me, is more of a scare tactic... the embassy is what people there would be wanting to look to in an emergency. And regarding "very" safe, I think it's better to just write "Syria is generally safe, but...". "Very" would only be included, in my opinion, if the sentence wasn't followed by a "but", so that was my reasoning on that... p.s., I was just in Afghanistan for pleasure, so I'm definitely not on the side of trying to make things sound scarier than they are... I come from the more realistic point of view, like you, and take the US State dept warning with a grain of salt... :) - Cacahuate 16:09, 22 February 2007 (EST)

Continuing on the safety topic. The "Stay Safe" section seems well balanced, but I'm bothered that the first thing to greet me on loading the page is a big, red, "WARNING." Given that Syria is one of the safest countries in the region (certainly has experienced less violence than any of its neighbours), I think this is over the top, and am removing it. Neil 15:39, 26 June 2008 (EDT)

Agree – cacahuate talk 18:43, 26 June 2008 (EDT)

WARNING: Travel to Syria[edit]

"WARNING: Travel to Syria is not recommended at this time due to a state of severe political crisis. Since January 2011, the unrest...."

Please, if you are going to warn people of something use a proper date. The words "at this time" mean nothing. What time is "this time" - yesterday, to-morrow, last year or a fortnight from now?

It means now. Have you been following the news? If not, check out any news organization (I recommend Al Jazeera, for example). These travel warnings are followed pretty closely, and whenever there is clearly no more need for one, you can be the first to delete it, but not now, when the Syrian military is shooting people in the streets. Ikan Kekek 00:09, 28 April 2011 (EDT)

Internet[edit]

I changed this sentence: "The authorities have blocked direct access to most pornography and all Israeli sites - for the purpose of """not""" escalating the current Israeli-led conflict."

Sounds like an apology for censorship. I think we should avoid analysis of why the Syrian government is blocking Israeli sites and stick to the facts.

No, it's a justification of internet safety. --MiddleEastern 08:10, 7 March 2007 (EST)
Actually I think it's probably better to remove the sentence, for the sake of sticking to the basics and not using any language that can seem biased - why it's blocked isn't really all that useful to the traveler... I'm gonna take it out again - Cacahuate 20:45, 8 March 2007 (EST)

Governates[edit]

Hey there, I unlinked all of those governates - for one, if we did create them, the names were more correct before they were just changed... however, we break countries up according to what is easily digestible for the traveler, and don't necessarily create articles for each governate, etc, unless warranted. When it comes time to divide it up, something similar to Northern Syria, Southern Syria, Western Syria, etc will probably suffice  :) Sorry to undo your work! – cacahuate talk 20:41, 5 April 2007 (EDT)

Good plan - I've also just vfd'd a page that was unlinked. -- Tim (writeme!) 09:04, 6 May 2007 (EDT)

Passport[edit]

I am an American-Canadian dual citizen, and can travel on a Canadian or American passport. Would it be a better idea to travel to Syria as a Canadian than an American? Amssports06 13:47, 23 April 2007 (EDT)

Given the choice, Canadian might be a little better, but I wouldn't expect a huge amount of resentment either if you travel on your American one. I haven't been to Syria, but having been through Pakistan and Afghanistan on an American passport, I would expect more of the same in Syria... people who know the difference between our government and our people, and people who don't live up to the rhetoric we hear in our news. – cacahuate talk 11:35, 10 April 2007 (EDT)
I'd go with the Canadian, for the sole reason that I'd hate to go through immigration in the US with Syrian stamps in my passport... Jpatokal 21:12, 23 April 2007 (EDT)

It is incorrect that one can get a visa at the borders. This is only theoretically possible for people whose home countries do not have consular representation from Syria.

According to the Syrian embassy in Sweden, visa can be obtained at the border if you have Finnish, Norwegian or Danish passports. Not sure why Swedish is not listed, maybe they forgot.

Golan Heights, etc[edit]

Hey there, so for Wikitravel we're only concerned with the traveler, so since Golan Heights is controlled by Israel and travelers would be subject to Israeli jurisdiction, we treat it as part of Israel... which is the same thing we do for Kashmir and other disputed territories... it's in no way a political statement or acceptance of any situation, it's simply the reality involved in traveling to these places.

As for the formatting, we don't necessarily break up countries by government districts, and division of the article should be discussed before it's done... when you spread it out into a bullet point list like that it encourages people to start creating articles for each of them, which we don't necessarily want, which is why it's better to just keep it in paragraph form until Syria is regioned off... hope that helps! – cacahuate talk 16:57, 28 July 2008 (EDT)

Ba`ath Party[edit]

This is rather pedantic, but I removed the reference to the Ba`ath as the "only legal political party," since in fact the ten other constituent parties of the National Progressive Front (SSNP, etc.) are also legal political parties.163.1.234.109 10:34, 22 February 2009 (EST)

Regions[edit]

Syria regions for discussion

Here's a new map of Syria.... no region breakdown existed, so I took a wild stab at it, and it's open to much debate.... anything need moving around? Do these regions make sense at all for travel? I grouped together political regions into travel ones, but if we need to draw different lines then let me know. Here's what I'm thinking for naming:

  • Northern Syria – Aleppo, the Dead Cities, and oodles of noodleshistory

Thoughts? – cacahuate talk 01:21, 2 June 2009 (EDT)

I'm also Syria ignorant, but from the perspective of distribution of content, this looks very good. Since it's also clearly marked by administrative boundaries, I'd say this looks at least good enough to bring into the main namespace. If it requires significant adjustment in the future, that probably won't be too hard to do since it's just four regions. --Peter Talk 02:26, 2 June 2009 (EDT)
I've been away from Wikitravel for a while. The map you've drawn up doesn't exactly make a whole lot of sense from an on the ground perspective. Generally, the areas I'd divide it into would the Orontes (A north south strip following the more densely populated parts of the interior: Bosra, Damascus, Homs, Aleppo), the Euphrates (east of Aleppo to Deir and the Iraqi border...probably include the distance north to the Turkish border as well), the Coast/Mountain region (basically draw a line continuing the Lebanese border north) and the Desert (everything else).
I'm not sure how well this lines up with administrative boundaries, but makes the most sense in terms of grouping common Cultural/historical stuff. The Coast/Mountain region is green and fertile, relatively Christian, somewhat liberal, and dominated by Phoenician and Crusader history. The Orontes is quite urban, again quite liberal. The Euphrates is culturally distinct...not particularly densely populated, much more conservative, and historically falls in more with the Cradle of Civilisation (Assyrians, Babylonians, etc.) The desert is, well, the desert. --Neil 18:21, 23 September 2009 (EDT)
Wouldn't that make 1 very fat and full region (The Orontes) and a few very sparse ones, information-wise? – cacahuate talk 02:27, 10 November 2009 (EST)
I like his idea, but you're completely right. I made the following image to show the regions Syria has.
Syria idea.png
We can use all these regions or make some combinations. I'm not sure about the "Desert" region, it'll probably only have Palmyra and probably be empty for the rest. So maybe we could combine it with Euphrates. That would make a large region by square km, but not content-wise I think. Also, maybe we could combine Aleppo and the Orontes. But I don't know what name that region would get though. Or we could just keep it like this. --globe-trotter 09:12, 11 January 2010 (EST)
While admittedly I've done rather little research, the latest version makes a lot of sense. I don't think it is necessary to combine Aleppo & Orontes, in terms of content. Combining the desert w/ Euphrates could work—we could give the region a more vague name, like Upper Mesopotamia. That would complement the Iraqi region we've created of Lower Mesopotamia nicely. --Peter Talk 22:35, 12 January 2010 (EST)
While I haven't checked how much content each proposed region will have, this second proposal is much closer to how Syrian Ministry of Tourism divides the country: [1] (see the list at the top left of the page, under the heading "Explore Syria"). And "Euphrates" region as it's proposed shouldn't really be named after the river IMO, since the river only flows through a ditch and the rest 99% of the region is nothing but desert—not even close to what a river represents (though a longer and more inconvenient name like "Euphrates Basin" may work). "Desert" and "Euphrates" combined can also be simply named Syrian Desert, but I won't oppose Upper Mesopotamia too loudly either.—Vidimian 07:12, 13 January 2010 (EST)

Visas[edit]

Is the thing about having two stamps correct? Because my visa has a blue standard stamp and a curved scribble that could be a signature, but there isn't anything that definitely resembles a second stamp, at least nothing that looks similar to the first (a round blue one with "Embassy of the Syrian Arab Republic", "London" and "Consular Affairs" on, along with some Arabic. There's a slightly glittery shiny silvery eagle crest thing that could be a stamp, but I'm not sure. Either way clarification would be good.

Politically-motivated vandalism[edit]

An unregistered user has twice attempted to deface the warningbox at the top of this article by shifting blame for deaths from the Syrian military, which has been indiscriminately shelling cities with tank shells, to "armed gangs" - the propaganda line of the murderous Assad regime. I have posted a warning in 92.21.235.151's "User talk" page, and I am also posting here because it may be necessary to block the aforementioned URL or/and protect this article against vandalism. Ikan Kekek 18:04, 1 August 2011 (EDT)

After a third attempt at posting Assad regime propaganda, I have temporarily protected this article against any edits by unregistered users. Ikan Kekek 19:55, 2 August 2011 (EDT)
Three edits in two days does not seem like the severely disruptive problem that normally necessitates a block, and certainly not one for the entire rest of the week. Can't that still be handled with ordinary reverts? -- D. Guillaime 20:17, 2 August 2011 (EDT)
I feel viscerally outraged at this unregistered user's attempts to blame the victims of a massacre that has murdered hundreds if not thousands of civilians, but since it seems like my solution does not conform to Wikitravel policies, I will unprotect the article and continue to engage in an editing war with the user. Would you prefer that the user's account be blocked for a day the next time s/he defaces the warningbox? Ikan Kekek 02:25, 3 August 2011 (EDT)
Hello, I am the one who changed this warning box...I understand that media coverage can portray that the the cause of the deaths are from Military... (I too was viscerally outraged when I saw that the Military was solely blamed for the deaths on this page) So I decided to change it to the governments line as they should know more about the situation that activist groups which aren't in Syria, and also the deaths of soldiers cannot have happened without armed groups conducting their activities...But anyway since I have noticed that this has caused controversy I have decided that the warning box should take a neutral stance and changed it to ""with both sides blaming each other for the deaths"" so that wikitravel does not show a specific viewpoint as the cause of the deaths have conflicting reports. I have also changed the date from "Since Jan 2011" to "Since Mar 2011" because that is when the violent demonstrations began (before that most of them were peaceful)92.21.236.243 19:32, 6 August 2011 (BST)
When the only claim for a handful of law enforcement deaths is the government that's sending tanks against its own population, and many thousands of civilian deaths can be supported by groups on the ground and the tens of thousands of refugees fleeing the country, "conflicting reports" is another way of saying "lies". We're not trying to mediate a debate, we're trying to warn travelers of the potential risks, and the civilians aren't it. -- D. Guillaime 16:57, 6 August 2011 (EDT)
I understand that our aim is to advise travellers. It is not just a handful of law enforcement it is Hundreds. Nevertheless these claims have to be respected as they must have died somehow. I am disappointed that my latest attempts to make the WARNING box impartial, wikitravel must remain impartial so therefore it must not categorically promote one sides claim. My latest edit showed both sides of view and that is why I am reverting it! 92.21.236.243 00:02, 7 August 2011 (BST)
We do not need to be impartial, and should definitely not let a false neutrality prevent us from advising travelers -- the attitude that "both sides of view" for any given disagreement must be given equal time is, frankly, ridiculous when there is no balance between them. (Even the UN finally agreed on that [2].) 120 security personnel may have been killed, with no claims on that other than the Syrian government. About 1700+ civilians have been killed, with another few tens of thousands imprisoned, by the Syrian military. Civilian tourists are only threatened right now by one of these. -- D. Guillaime 21:53, 6 August 2011 (EDT)
Yes but hundreds of soldiers have been killed, and their families are very upset, we shall not let them get the full blame...My latest edit was very informative and described the scene correctly and neutrally. Besides, have you visited Syria in the last couple of months because I have and I can tell you that it is a lot calmer than it looks on TV. Please respect the governments line, I have made sure that both sides of view are counted in the warning box even though I disagree with what activists are claiming. So please stop reverting my edits. I don't understand why you would want Wikitravel to show one viewpoint! Also, your edit states that Syria is Under Emergency Law - It isn't any more, the government listed the emergency laws back in April because the protesters asked for it to be removed. - 92.21.236.243 12:35, 7 August 2011 (BST)
We aren't in the business of warning Syrian soldiers here, and we're certainly not in the business of giving equal time to the damnable lies of mass-murdering dictatorships; this warning is for travelers, who are not under threat from demonstrators. However, you are right that the Emergency Law was removed, for whatever good that's done (none whatsoever, given that the government has surrounded cities and indiscriminately lobbed tank shells into their centers), so if D. Guillaime agrees, I would support removing that one phrase. Ikan Kekek 16:05, 7 August 2011 (EDT)

Consider it done. — D. Guillaime 17:27, 7 August 2011 (EDT)

Ikan, you say that travellers are not a threat from the demonstrators, and that is correct, but neither are they a threat to the Security forces as they are not rioting or burning buildings etc. so as long as they don't do that then they are fine....What they are in danger of is some armed groups which have joined the protestors which are causing the havoc. However thankfully this has not happened yet as the authorities have found mass amounts of weapons in apartments and in trucks being smuggled through the border. Therefore as a traveller the armed groups are more of a threat to people than security forces. I don't understand why you do not agree with my edit...All I am saying is that both sides are blaming the other which is what is really happening (you can't disagree with that) ... Even though I believe their news I have taken the option to respect both claims as valid for this article. Why would you want to go back to the previous edit which only shows one point of view and presents it as a fact (This is very biased and unprofessional). Very un-Wiki like and actually it is much SAFER for the traveller if they know both sides of the story as it will keep them in trouble should they be talking to certain people so in fact it is keeping them safer which is the aim of the warning box!! -92.21.236.243 23.13, 7 August 2011 (BST)

I'm not interested in debating with a purveyor of propaganda for murderers. Perhaps in some alternate universe, the opposition rather than the Syrian Army is surrounding Syrian cities with tanks and indiscriminately lobbing shells at civilians. And perhaps you live in that alternate universe, but travelers don't. Ikan Kekek 18:42, 7 August 2011 (EDT)
Please do not be judgemental just because I believe the governments news, I do not respect this kind of prejudice. Let me tell you as of what I've seen while in Syria; the government has so much support in Damascus and the foreign media is so biased that they hardly show any of the massive rallies for the government such as raising the largest Syrian Flag on a Highway! Anyway Neither situations you describe is correct, the army have entered cities with tanks because residents asked them to because there were many vandals in public creating chaos, just like what is happening in London (but using more weapons). (I have just seen a video of these vandals mutilating police and security forces and throwing them into the Orontes river in Hama...It was horrible to watch!)....The army has restored normality, removed roadblocks, removed dead bodies from the river and have started to leave Hama as their operation is done. I have just read their lastest statement. If I was a resident I would be glad that normal life has returned to Hama. Let me tell you that there are peaceful protesters which have every right to go out and peacefully protest and the government is listening carefully to their demands and made a huge effort to bring those demands to reality and the media are slow to report about this!! I am glad I have now cleared the situation with you! -92.21.236.243 00.10, 9 August 2011 (BST)

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