My City, my Friends

My city, the ancient place which has grown beyond reasonable limits in the years I have been away from its distinctively colored buildings is now thirsty, hungry, and bloodied. My mother, who in her eighty years never witnessed such atrocities, refuses to leave. So does my sister, who has been, along with her children hostages in the basement of their building for a month now not knowing when to expect the next of Assad murderous bombs.

Yesterday, the banality of evil was on full display with the regime intentionally targeted with its bombs the main water supply line to the city. Streets were, and to this hour continue to be flooded, and more than a million and a half people in the city, including regime supporters, are now threatened with dying of thirst. The price of bread is now 20 folds what it was two months ago after the regime has intentionally and systematically targeted bakeries during heavy demand hours, and after regime snipers, who continue to be present in several pockets around the city have made movement, especially if one is carrying a bag of bread, a capital offence. Medical relief continues to be a hazardous undertaking. And living is now the most hazardous thing to do for the act of living and remaining in Aleppo is in itself the strongest defiance of the Assads and their supporters.

Some may be familiar with the Millennium Development Goals, which are internationally agreed on targets of development adopted by governments worldwide and by the UN system. One of these targets called for significantly increasing the number of people with access to safe drinking water and sanitation by the year 2015.  I have seen governments of many developing countries strive, rather diligently to achieve this target despite of incredible odds including water scarcity, and not concluding with little or no financial means. I am yet to see anyone, other than the assads, and in one single act, increase the burden on the world by adding more than a million people to those with no access to safe drinking water. Every single act of this regime is a war crime. There is no doubt, no relativity, and no bullshit that will let me think otherwise.

As I write, my very active Facebook page blinks with yet another post conveying the all familiar obituary of yet one more brilliant Syrian, whose life, cut short by bashar assad’s war crimes, was worth in every one of its seconds the entire history of the catastrophic assads and the cumulative value of the lives of the herds of hyenas supporting them. This time it is one of my own new friends whom I met in my travels across Europe. A young Syrian film maker, Tamer Al-Awwam, who left his safe residence in Germany to document the revolution in northern Syria including Idlib and Aleppo, has died earlier today as a result of shrapnel wounds  he received during Assad’s bombing pogrom of the city while accompanying FSA fighters and documenting their fight for the freedom of Syria from the tyrant and his henchmen.  On August 6, Tamer wrote on his face book

بين القذيفة والقذيفة تسألني المصورة النمساوية ما هو سبب القصف من مسافات بعيدة على المدينة ألم تتدربوا في الجيش السوري على آلية حرب الشوارع كونكم بموقع حرب مع الاسرائيليين….؟!
تسقط قذيفة جديدة وتقتل الاجابة

Between one shell and another, the Austrian camerawoman asks me: what is the reason for shelling the city from far distances, haven’t you in the Syrian army been trained on the techniques of street warfare being at war with the Israelis….?!
A new shell falls and kills the answer..

I spent two evenings with Tamer a few months back, we talked about the revolution, we talked about the need to galvanize the efforts and touched on the concerns regarding SNC, FSA, and we both held our after dinner sweet and dark tea cups high in salute of the Syrian awakening spirit. One thing I vividly recall, this younger man, touching my elbow to get my attention as I was expressing concerns about rising sectarianism, and saying: don’t be concerned, sectarianism will not win this round, nor any other round from now on. Tamer, you have left a long-lasting impression, and now you leave a void. Tamer never mentioned in either time his plans to go to Syria….But he went, nonetheless, and below is a recent production from him, from this young man, who graced and honored my life with his short, yet memorable presence, making those moments worth a lifetime of intellectual discourse. Please watch his work, it is titled: memories at the check point.

Tamer joins more than 30,000 documented victims of the foolishness of the vain, narcissist, incoherent, hereditary butcher. He also joins a rapidly growing list of journalists murdered by this regime. And yet, there are those who still covertly and overtly support such an abomination.  Curse them… and curse their filthy cowardly minds.

Defeating my own tears, I will try to get back to the issue. I will not analyze the situation in Aleppo, nor will I discuss the violations being committed in the name of the FSA for I have been involved, rather heavily and directly, in  relevant activities aiming first to halt these violations and second to pressure the various armed groups in Aleppo to either unify under one national banner or be considered outlaws and servants of the regime’s policy, and finally to stop the nonsensical broadcasting of the movement and locations of FSA fighters during operations by Facebook activists, especially those who are immature teens.

Yes there may be more foreign fighters in Aleppo than in other cities, but that can’t be used as an excuse to belittle the revolution, to stamp it as a jihadist enterprise as covert regime supporters do.  It further gives no excuse to the wanton murderous destruction assad gangs are inflicting on Syria as their barbarian regime finishes its transformation from a brutal dictatorial mafia regime into a sectarian mafia militia, equipped with the most lethal instruments of murder and ready to use them against innocent civilians for no strategic goal other than burning the country.

The battle with this regime is not about me, it is not about you, it is about humanity. My dear friends, i can now tell you why it has  been very hard to write. Over the past few months, my closeness to some of the young and brilliant people of Syria has enriched my life, but it has also made the tragedy, and the mess closer than ever.

I will not forget, nor will I forgive. I will not seek revenge, but rest assured, I will seek justice. And defending this regime, even covertly, makes one part and parcel in the murder of the friends I have lost. My cursing the regime  and its supporters is only an impotent response, but I, with the help of countless Syrians, lack no potency in following them through this planet and in making them pay by all legal means for their collusion with this abomination called assad and for their disgustingly inhumane efforts to cover the stench with slogans of resistance and nationalism. They will pay for the murder of my city, and all other cities in my Syria, for killing my friends and for making my mother, brave as she is, cry.

Posted on September 9, 2012, in Syria. Bookmark the permalink. 33 Comments.

  1. Thank you OTW, heartfelt post. No matter how long this goes on and how many young lives we lose, our eyes will never become accustomed to the bloodshed, and they continue to have plenty of tears to spill in sadness and frustration. May the mothers and sisters and fathers and brothers of all these young Syrians be given strength and solace.

    And We shall overcome this tyranny, no matter what!

  2. Yesterday, there was a thick, glossy magazine on my counter, one I would have once flipped through with interest … in another life. Now I throw them away unread. I can’t remember the last time I read anything that wasn’t, in some way, about Syria. Every day I read about Syria to be informed. Sometimes I end up outraged at the criminal lies spewed by regime supporters and other times I’m inspired by the amazing stories of our defiant people. But sometimes, very rarely, I read something that is exactly what I need to read at exactly the right moment. Maysaloon does it. And so do you.

    You’ve talked before about scorching Syrian land and now you describe floods in our Aleppo. What has the regime not done yet in attacking the Syrian people? It seems every criminal act and every environmental calamity have been used as weapons against the people.

    Tamer’s loss is a grave one, as was every loss of the innocent, talented, brilliant lives of those who fought because of their unwavering belief in the people and their just cause. What your mother and sister are going through in Aleppo is devastating. But Assad has made death and suffering the norm and as you said, the act of living itself has become our people’s defiance. They resist by merely surviving even while they are hungry, thirsty, wounded, homeless… Our people have accepted everything but humiliation.

    Since I heard about and saw the water flowing into the streets of Aleppo, I’ve felt numb. Like the first time I watched Baba Amr being shelled, or the first time I saw a charred body in Anadan, or the first time I watched someone pick up body parts of a man I knew off the pavement in Homs, watching our precious water spilled on the streets as carelessly as the precious blood that has been flowing for months left me unable to comprehend. What you wrote took me out of my numbness and forced me to feel again — feel both hope and despair. And your words did the almost impossible. They told me, despite it all, everything is going to be alright.

    That’s why I read this blog.

  3. Great post,it was worth the wait
    God bless Tamer soul,he is death has not and will not be in vain

  4. و لتامر العوام أغنية اهداها إلى شهداء الثورة السورية باسم ” عشق الوطن وسواس “.
    http://www.aksalser.com/?page=view_articles&id=46037c2d0504f31071c1d1829d499ba7&ar=827515264

  5. I want to thank every foreign fighter who is present on the battlefield that was once the vibrant city of Aleppo for lending us a hand when everybody else failed us. While we are let down by the entire world, these brave souls are risking their lives. I remember how we used to applaud and glorify every Arab and non Arab including many Syrians who fought along side the Palestinians in 1948, that same act is now considered “the danger of foreign jihadists”. The spin doctors have no limits or shame.

  6. In the past 300 years, there has never been a prolonged conflict without foreign fighters eventually taking part. If we want to see a war where foreign elements dominated the conflict, take a look at the Spanish Civil War. Syria has nowhere near that level of foreign involvement.

    In the days of yore, the menhebakjis could at least seek refuge in the illusion that Aleppo was a pro-regime stronghold. But the fact that the Assad brigades (down from divisions) have not been able to recapture the city after two whole months speaks volumes about the true situation in Aleppo. Even Baba Amr fell after just one month, and Assad hadn’t even used his airforce. Aleppo has proven just as resilient, tenacious and dedicated as any town or city in Syria.

  7. Dear Sheila
    A real thought provoking comment.. Thank you very much.

  8. Hello all. Considering the circumstances I hope everyone is well. Some good comments above.

    I was watching the hour-long ‘Debate’ show on France 24 titled ‘The battle for Aleppo’. It was a very good round table discussion and also showed some powerful video footage from Aleppo. It should be online soon I hope.

    One guest described the regime as resembling an occupying power and behaving as if it is invading a foreign country.

  9. Watching the Tamer movie made your article all the more moving. I fully understand the loss you feel, we all feel, seeing so much talent killed, such sensitive reporting now canned forever.
    The water flowing from the water pipes felt like blood gushing out.
    I am so happy about the above comments concerning the foreign fighters. They are indeed a good retort.

  10. From the heart to the heart.

  11. Dear Friends,
    Thank you for your heartfelt responses. This is Tamer.
    Tamer Al-Awwam, how he lived.

  12. Allah Yerhamo lal batal Tamer ,
    It seems that there is an universal conspiracy but against the syrian people ,but the Syrian people did the right choice ,Syria will be freed thank to millions who opted to die instead to accept humiliation.

  13. An interview with the Syrian poet Hala Mohammad, in exile in Paris (in Arabic with English subtitles)

    http://www.aljazeera.com/programmes/artscape/2012/08/201282711412941304.html

  14. Thank you dear umm nuwâs, I am a big admirer of Hala Mohammad, a wonderful poet and human being.

  15. As mentioned in previous comment. [The link to part 2 is also on the same page]:

    Special – The battle for Aleppo

    http://www.france24.com/en/20120907-the-world-this-week-syria-special-the-battle-of-aleppo-assad

  16. I think SC has been hacked. Maybe the sycophants don’t want real dialog to take place there, only confrontation, hatred and enmity

  17. Dear MGB
    SC was working a couple of hours ago. Yesterday, no one could post for most of the day because the spam prevention plugin license needed renewal (it happened before). It could also be some mis-configuration that caused the posting problem, and in attempt to solve it, things may go bad for a while. Joshua does not have a paid administrator and it has been Alex (to his undeniable credits) who kept the site going in terms of administration.

  18. Thanks OTW, it was rather strange to have the error message immediately after I entered my comment and refreshed the page. The error message is still there as of now.

    I was not familiar with Hala Mohammad or her poetry, but what I heard in the video was quite moving and thought-provoking, rather haiku-esque.

    Churches feeling the Nizam’s loving kindness:

  19. from Elias Khoury :
    الشعب السوري وحده.
    وحده يدافع عن كرامة الانسان في كل أرض العرب، ووحده يعيد بدمه المسفوك المعنى الإنساني والأخلاقي للسياسة.
    ماذا اقول لك ايها الوحدك.
    وحدتك يا أخي لا تشبه سوى وحدة الفلسطيني الذي وجد نفسه وحيدا امام كل منعطف دموي صنعه الوحش الاسرائيلي.
    اعرف يا أخي ان الكلمات لا توقف نزفا ولا تمسح دمعة ولا تستقبل آهة خارجة من قلب ام ثكلى.
    اقول لك انك وحدك

  20. Syrian Revolution Motto!

    “I will not forget, nor will I forgive. I will not seek revenge, but rest assured, I will seek justice.”

    Dear OTW, a moving post, a promising post.. A mother’s tear can move mountains, without her this Revolution would have been subdued from the first month.
    All the power on earth has been unable to subdue the determination of our free men and women..Syria will remain forever, the cradle of civilization(s)..

  21. What happened in Libya is another 911 on Libyan soil, on Arab soil.

    @AlArabiya Egypt Muslim Brotherhood calls for nationwide protests after insult film. SOURCE???? As everyone is asking on Twitter

    All in the name of the prophet, all in the name of Islam. Both, Islam and the prophet condemns such acts. We, Muslims condemn such barbarities and senseless attacks.

    “As painful as this day is and always will be, it leaves us with the lesson that no act of terrorism can ever change what we stand for. ” President Obama.
    “We do not want this Arab Spring to turn to an Arab winter” Romney
    The latest propaganda movie is produced by someone who calls ” Islam, cancer” Is this freedom of speech, or freedom of spreading hatred? If we call it freedom of speech? ALL speeches are to be uncensored..or, are Muslims the children of a slave? Hagar, mother of Ismail, wife of Ibrahim..what is good for you is good for me.

    In the Syrian context, from twitter:
    أعزائي العرب، النظام السوري هو أكثر فيلم مسيء للإسلام و الرسول الكريم، و شكراً
    Tsunami of rage & hatred attacks against a cartoon or a movie, but silence & prayers for 30.000 dead souls.”

    This Arab Awakening is a shtick that is annoying greatly every racist, every scorpion, every supremacist, every racial bigot…this Arab Awakening will not stop until we achieve our place nationally and internationally. The end goal: we are equal and no less than any other human being, and no better than any other human-being. We demand justice nationally and internationally. Dignity and freedom will follow.

    No more compromises, no more bullshit, we will not take it anymore.. we are a free people. Take your tyrants and leave us alone. We are coming, GET USED TO IT, regardless whether the Western world is ready or not, WE ARE READY. So get used to it..
    I

  22. The first major attack on The Arab Awakening, September 11, 2012 on Libyan soil.

    The September 11, 2001 attack on the twin towers, gave unwarranted excuses to invade Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan…

    Is this Obama’s 911? The timing is suspicious, the coverage is blown out of proportion.

    Rest assure, this will not go unnoticed.

  23. “Finally the good news came, that Orwa Nyrabia, Syrian film producer and director of the Syrian film festival DOX BOX, who was arrested August 23 at Damascus International Airport, has been set free.”

    http://www.npr.org/blogs/thetwo-way/2012/09/12/161018465/syrian-documentary-producer-orwa-nyrabia-is-freed-was-arrested-two-weeks-ago?ft=1&f=1001&sc=tw&utm_source=twitterfeed&utm_medium=twitter

  24. some guy in damascus

    Im sorry for your loss, hopefully we will see these assadists in prison some day….a little revenge hurts no body though.

  25. Son of Damascus

    I am sorry for your loss, I am sorry for Syria’s loss.

    Thank you for sharing his story and his film with us. Syria and Syrians owe a debt of gratitude to heroes like him.

    I found this picture of Tamer on Flickr, and thought I would share it here:
    http://www.flickr.com/photos/monisbu/7963534532/in/photostream

  26. She is a must; I read her book and saw her in Brussels
    Samar Yazbek’s US Tour
    Posted on September 13, 2012 by mlynxqualey

    Yesterday, celebrated Syrian novelist, TV presenter, and memoirist Samar Yazbek arrived in the U.S. for the opening of a ten-city, two-week tour:
    She will speak about her newest book, Woman in the Crossfire (trans. Max Weiss), although in all likelihood the core topic of conversation at all these events will be developing events in Syria.
    .
    The schedule below is tentative; please check with me or with the local venue before setting off.
    .
    September 13th – Event at the International Peace Institute in NYC [not open to the public]
    .
    September 14th – Talk at the Hagop Kavorkian Center, NYU at 12:30 p.m.
    .
    September 17th – Event at the US Institute for Peace in Washington DC. [Not open to the public]
    .
    September 18th – Talk at the Middle East Center, UPenn at 5:00 p.m.
    .
    September 19th – Center for Middle East Studies, Yale at 12:00
    .
    September 20th – Talk at Brown University, details TBA.
    .
    September 21st – Center for Middle East Studies, Harvard at 12:00, followed by book signing at the Harvard COOP at 1:30 p.m.
    .
    September 22nd – Chicago, schedule TBA.
    .
    September 24th – Princeton, talk at 4:30 p.m.
    .
    September 26th – Princeton, talk in Arabic, time TBA.
    .
    September 27th – Rutgers University, talk at 7:00 p.m.
    .
    More about Woman in the Crossfire:
    .
    My first reaction: “Reading as Witness“
    Reviews of Woman in the Crossfire from Egypt Independent, The Guardian, Kirkus, PW
    .
    Video:
    .
    Samar Yazbek at the Frontline Club with translator Peter Clark
    .
    Recent essays by Yazbek, trans. Max Weiss:
    .
    August 9, 2012: “In the Shadow of Assad’s Bombs” (NY Times)
    September 6, 2012: “Dispatch from Syria: Capturing the Truth“ (PEN)
    .
    Please do contact me (mlynxqualey – at – gmail – dot – com) if you plan to attend one of these events and want to write about it / photograph it / react to it in some capacity, either in these pages or elsewhere.
    And this :http://arablit.wordpress.com/2012/06/08/reading-as-witness/

  27. Alaouite pro-revolution hunger striker Louisa Abdel-Karim: the revolution is not about sectarianism:

    by the way — I noticed that Samar Yazbek had visa problems getting into the UK, although she is currently domiciled in France. Syrian poet and editor Rasha Omran (exiled in Cairo) was not given a visa to attend a London literary festival for 4 days at the beginning of July. Neither woman was seeking residence or asylum.

  28. The riots that are taking place in the Muslim world is the responsibility of the media. There are far worse hate sitcoms on the Prophet Mohammad and on Islam than this latest youtube post, that go unnoticed.

    CNN, was the station I was following. Much later in the day, they decided that the riots were not responsible for the attack on the embassy in Benghazi. But the information that followed and was circulating on the internet, that the number of hits on youtube were about a 1000 more or less!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Only later they went higher.

    The question is, why was this trashy youtube promoted? Why was it tied to the embassy and the death of ambassador for hours? Who knew about the safest room in that embassy where the ambassador was hiding? The whole thing was covered by the back and forth between Romney and Obama.

    No doubt that the truth will resurface, but the immediate effect, no doubt is, overshadowing the Arab Awakening is scaring the hell out of the remaining Arab dictators and their despicable supporters. The truth will surface.

    These Muslim rioters are neither pious nor defenders of the prophet and Islam. It is time to revolutionize the Islamic institutions for once and for all. The Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, and to their credit recalled the protests, they should not have asked in the first place for anyone to come out to the streets. The Awakening will take time… but it is in the right direction.

    I feel that many, many are trying to halt the aspirations of Arabs. They will not succeed.

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