I know I have not been writing for a while. This is very important and it is from Yasin Haj Saleh, please spread it. It is important to note that Yassin Haj Saleh is an MD. After his lengthy incarceration by the Assad regime, he went on to finish his medical studies, interrupted by the Assad goons in the eighties. He graduated from the faculty of medicine at the University of Aleppo.
Injuries by Chemical Weapons in Eastern Ghuta
Yassin Haj Saleh*
Tuesday, April 30, 2013.
The thirty-year-old man was brought to “spot 200″ in Duma as being injured by chemical weapons. He seemed debile and his voice was barely audible. The fighter on the front of Jawbar, East of Damascus, had spent 9 hours in “spot 1″, which is a hospital where casualties receive first aid.
Out of the nine hours, he was unconscious for six hours, between 8 in the morning and 2.
Besides fatigue, the man looked physically fine and conscious when I met him at 6 in the evening of Sunday, April 14. He could stand up on his feet, but not firmly.
“What happened?” I asked him. He said that something that looks like a large stone was thrown nearby, but he didn’t pay much attention. But his companion asked a few moments later, “man, what’s this smell?”. The man did not smell or see smoke, but he had difficulty breathing, and his eyes were frozen wide. He thought himself dying, so he started to pray to God loudly.
He also said that after waking up in the hospital, he was spitting blood- he was still spitting blood at six in the evening, but in much smaller quantities.
He had no skin (dermatological?) symptoms. And when he woke up in the hospital, he knew that his friend had died, and possibly others had fallen martyrs. He did not know whether more bombs of the same kind were shelled on Jawbar front.
In his report, the doctor mentioned that the symptoms that the man, who comes from Qanawat neighborhood in Damascus, were pinpoint pupils and mental confusion, which seems to indicate a injury in the central nervous system. The report also says that the man was given 9 injections of atropine, 5 of hydrocortisone, and other 5 of a drug called Dexone (Dexamethasone).
The doctor recommended a normal diet and serums. There were two spots in the man’s left leg and left arm where two viens were opened to insert the serums, of which one was connected to a serum bag above the bed.
The man remained four days in “spot 200″ for follow-up.
Dr. Sakhr from the medical center in Eastern Ghuta said that he examined 20 cases of injury that day, and he personally suffered from the gas that was stuck to the clothes and hair of patients.
According to Dr. Sakhr, symptoms of injury include shortness of breath, red eyes, runny nose and eyes, hemoptysis, fainting and pinpoint pupils.
Two days later, symptoms of emotional instability manifested in form of agitation and anger or in form exhilaration and mania. These symptoms disappeared after two or three days, according to Dr. Sakhr.
Dr. Sakhr thought that the poison gas used was Sarin. He based his evaluation in the report on clinical assessment (symptoms and pathological development of cases). He had no decisive proofs, but he said that he took samples from infected hair, urine, blood and clothes and sent them to agencies that would supposedly be able to determine the type of toxic substance, and the most appropriate antidote for it.
Some of the people I have seen here think that tactical chemical weapons are the ones used by the regime until now. They target fighters and residents in limited areas.
* Translated by Jalal Imran
Original Report in Arabic
إصابات بسلاح كيميائي في الغوطة الشرقيّة
ياسين الحاج صالح
29 نيسان 2013
الرجل البالغ الثلاثين جلب إلى «النقطة 200» في دوما بوصفه مصابا بسلاح كيميائي. كان يبدو عليه الوهن، وصوته بالكاد يسمع. كان المقاتل على جبهة جوبر شرق دمشق قد قضىنحو 9 ساعات في «النقطة 1»، وهي مشفى يتلقى المصاب فيها الإسعافات الأولية.
ومن تلك الساعات التسعة كان المصاب غائبا عن الوعي طوال 6 ساعات، بين الثامنة صباحا والثانية.
غير الإعياء بدا الرجل سليما جسديا ووعيه جيدا حين قابلته في السادسة مساء من يوم الأحد 14/4. كان يستطيع الوقوف على قدميه أيضا، لكن بوضع غير ثابت.
ماذا جرى؟ سألته. قال إنه رمي صوبهم جسم أشبه بحجر كبير، ولم يهتم هو بالأمر. لكن رفيقه تساءل بعد لحظات: «يا زلمة، شو هالريحة؟». هو لم يشم رائحة أو ير دخانا. لكن نفسهضاق، ويتذكر أن عينيه «شكلتا» (تجمدتا في أقصى اتساعهما)، وظن نفسه سيموت، فأخذ يتشهد بصوت عال.
قال أيضا إنه بعد أن صحا في المشفى كان يبصق دما، كان لا يزال يبصق دما في السادسة مساء، لكن بكميات أقل. وليس لديه أعراض جلدية.
وفي المشفى، بعد أن صحا، علم أن رفيقه استشهد، ويحتمل أن يكون سقط شهداء آخرون. ليس متأكدا من ذلك. لا يعلم أيضا إن كانت أطلقت قنابل أخرى من النوع نفسه على جبهة جوبر.
في تقرير الطبيب من المستشفى ذكر أن الأعراض الظاهرة على الرجل الذي ينحدر من حي القنوات في دمشق هي حدقات دبوسية (ضيقة جدا) وتخليط ذهني، ما يبدو أنه يدل على إصابة عصبية مركزية. في التقرير أيضا أنه أعطي 9 أبر (حقن) من الأتروبين و5 من الهيدروكورتيزون و5 أخريات من عقار ديكسون. يوصي الطبيب بحمية عادية وسيرومات. كان مكانان في يد الرجل اليسرى وذراعه الأيسر قد فتح فيهما وريدان من أجل السيروم (المصل)، أحدهما كان موصولا فعلا بكيس السيروم فوق سريره.
بقي الرجل 4 أيام للمتابعة في «النقطة 200».
الدكتور صخر من المركز الطبي في الغوطة الشرقية يقول إنه تابع حالة نحو 20 مصابا في ذلك اليوم، وإنه شخصيا أصيب بالغاز «المتعشق» في ألبسة المصابين وشعرهم، ونقل إلى العناية المشددة. وبين المصابين العشرين استشهد واحد، وكانت إصابة اثنين خطيرة.
من أعراض الإصابة حسب الدكتور صخر ضيق التنفس واحمرار العينين وسيلان الأنف والعيون ونفث الدم وتغيُّم الوعي، والحدقات الدبوسية. ويبدو أن الأعراض تتفاوت بحسب شدة التعرض للغاز السام.
بعد يومين ظهرت على بعض المصابين أعراض عدم ثبات انفعالي، في شكل هياج وغضب أو في شكل ابتهاج وهوس، وزالت الأعراض الأخيرة بعد يومين أو ثلاثة، حسب الدكتور صخر.
الرجل يقدر أن الغاز السام المستخدم هو السارين، معتمدا في تقديره على السريريات (الأعراض وتطور الحالة المرضية)، وليس لديه أية براهين قطعية على ذلك. لكنه يقول إنه أخذت عينات من شعر المصابين وبولهم ودمهم وملابسهم وأرسلت إلى جهات يفترض أن تحدد نوع المادة السامة، والترياق الأنسب المضاد لها.
يقدر بعض من رأيتهم هنا أن أسلحة كيميائية تكتيكية هي التي استخدمها النظام حتى اليوم، تستهدف المقاتلين أو السكان في مساحات محددة.
OBSERVER, one of my favorite commenters on SC posted a link to an article in the Atlantic blog titled Syria is Not Iraq by Shadi Hamid. Observer asked for feedback from fellow commenters. I have not commented on the site for a long time, but I still read SC (with more frequent disgusts than ever) and I have a few words to say about the article.
I do agree with much of what Shadi Hamid wrote. would add that from national security perspective Obama bungled it. Two critical observations made by Shadi that are worth considering. The first is the number of strategic mistakes that the US has committed since the debacle in Iraq, which as expressed by Shadi will come back to haunt us later.
Four years ago, I would have been,and likely I was, supportive of Obama’s calculating approach to foreign policy as a welcomed contrast to Bush’s dogmatic approach. But even before the Arab spring, the writings on the wall was becoming clear about Iran’s belligerence in Iraq and its usurpation of the country as a protectorate run with the same backward corrupt approach that afflicts Iran. This should have caused Obama and his administration to send a real strong message to Iran regarding Iraq instead of allowing Iran even a stronger hand in the country’s affairs. The haste to get out of Iraq and to get Bush debacle behind us and as soon as possible resulted in dismissing more strategic calculations regarding the region as a whole.
The other observation, which should be modified is his observation that Assad is a rational decision makers with incredibly high tolerance for brutality. The author ascribes the gradual increase in violence to Assad’s rational behavior as he kept testing the red-lines and finding that non really existed. This is only partially true. But it does not make Assad a rational decision maker. The rational decision (morality does not get in the picture here) would have made him maximize his benefit, which would have happened had the he embarked on real reform and not chosen the suicidal security option. As for the gradual increase in violence, it is really strange that an article analytically sound as this one neglected to recognize that the Assad his henchmen are not the only actors on the scene in the sense that FSA has made it very hard for him, if not impossible, to commit massacres at the scale of Hama (in short period of time) and that the increased level of violence is proportional to the weakness of the regime in key points. Of course, that may disappoint to some of the repulsive voices I have been reading on SC, but it should not have escaped the writer, nonetheless.
That said, what remain is a real challenge for the US and other democratic countries in the world. It is the moral challenge posed by their role in encouraging democratic values, but failing to act when the values they encourage are threatened by murderous thugs like Assad and his henchmen. I am afraid this moral dilemma may end up being resolved with a couple of candle-light vigils attended by celebrities, a few mea-culpa (we should have intervened) rehash of Rwanda interviews on Operah’s Third Chapter years hence. This is from the national psych point of view. But from the point of view of people living under dictatorships, Obama’s reluctance may have just made a few thuggish dictators very happy, and prolonged the life of the club of thugs, including the Iranian regime. Seeing what happened to Syria and Syrians at the hand of the Assad criminal gang, and the world’s tolerance of Assad’s crimes, Iranian will be far more reluctant now to resume their green uprising, which is probably the worst blow-back to Obama’s inaction.
Lest we forget-31 years (Introduction by OTW)
Nearly a year ago, I posted my translation of several segments of the memoir of Khaled Al-Khani, a Syrian painter who lived as a six-year old child the horrors of Hama. Then, I hoped to post all of Khaled’s memoirs, which were originally written by him as eight letters sent to his friends in the early days of the Syrian Revolution, on three installments on 7ee6ab. Until today, i could not finish translating the third installment because pain, sorrow, and grief, always struck me hard in nearly every sentence. Khaled and I have become good friends, and every time I started working on the last four letters of his, I could not stop weeping as I thought of my friend, living the massacre as a child and hearing the horror stories from his neighbors as he grew up, so I stopped.
Today, we enter the thirty-first anniversary of the Assads’ massacre of Hama. It was on this day, thirty-one years, when an abominable group of barbarians invaded a beautiful city on the Orontes river. What happened next became suppressed in the memory of millions. It was suppressed in the memories of those who knew of the massacre, but remained silent for fear that the Assads may do to them what they have done to the city of Hama, to Khaled’s friends, to his larger than life father, and to our identity as Syrians. Others were merely ashamed of our own complicity in the crimes, whether that was in believing the lies and distortions of Hafez Al-Assad, or in failing to rise up in aid of our sister city, raped as she was.
In less than two months from now, we mark the beginning of the third year of the Syrian Revolution. Much has happened since I posted the second part of Khaled’s memoir. The horrors khaled describes are now common place, for what was done in 1983 in the secrecy of siege has been happening in the open, by the son of the murderous hafez, a foolish entity, that proved to many the existence of filthy genes.
Bashar’s barbarians are not far from his fathers’ and uncle’s. Their crimes are no less horrific as they have demonstrated through countless “leaked tapes”. Residents of the Baroudeyeh district of Hama, who fled to the undulation room in a destroyed mosque, are now joined by their children and relatives from countless Syrian cities and villages. Photos of murdered detainees, tortured to death, starved, burned, mutilated, are now part of our daily lives.
All of this does not belittle the pain that is Hama. And while we mourn her sisters joining her in tragedy at the hand of the murderous sons and nephews of the senior assad thugs, we must also continue to remember Hama. As I wrote in the previous post, what we see today was foretold thirty-one years ago. It is also a warning that this clan must not remain in Syria, should have no future or connection to Syria, and that its heads, its bullies, their partners, and loyalists a swell as their propagandists and publicity prostitutes must face up for their crimes.
Today, while Syrians die or become refugees on hourly basis, many of the perpetrator of Hama’s massacre remain free. Rifaat Al-Assad enjoys his billions all over Europe, Abdel-Halim Khaddam lives safely in the most expensive area of Paris, and many of the junior thugs, are now generals in the barbarian army, not counting the soldiers and petty-officers who have since them retired. For Hama, then, and for what is happening now in Syria to pass without just punishment is a dishonor not only to Syria, but to humanity as well.
Again, I could not finish translating all of Khaled’s Memoir. It is still very hard to do. There will be one more. But that is OK, for in having a task like this going incomplete, i continue to remember our dept to Hama, and the fact that it can never be paid.
Stories from Hama: Memories of Painter Khaled Al-Khani. Part 3
When my father slapped me and sent me to join my mother and my brothers and the rest of the residents of the Baroudeyeh neighborhood, it was like he knew that I would never forget the details of the tragedy for as long as I lived. I tell you now, and I swear; I see him today in every martyr among the detainees. I beg your forgiveness. You may find some confusion to this part of my testimony, and you have to excuse me, he is my father.
O’ father, how could you send us to the unknown? What a pain. What went through your heart and mind then? when your sufferings began to grow.
He was captured in the shelter he went into with my aunt after the army, delayed by some brave young men, later arrived. I know one of these men very well, and he told me how much they suffered from bombardment, and how were they able to delay the savages’ invasion for few days.
My father was arrested with all of the men in the shelter and sent to the ceramic factory. Some of those who were with him told me later that after days of having been with no food and with only rain water to ease their thirst, a few soldiers would come once or twice and throw some bread around asking the people, at gunpoint, to race for the bread in order to amplify our disgrace. There were sheds and cellars in the factory, and as customary, the detainees shared the pain. The cellars were warmer than the sheds, which protected them from the wind, but in the factory yard, a place which became outside universe of humanity, laid killing, maiming, dragging, brutality, teeth pulling, ear and tongue cutting, eyes gouging, and breaking of limbs. Despite all of this, people shared the roles and the pain.
After days of existence in the detention camp, some people began calling my father “Doctor” as a sign of respect and to ease his pain having eased theirs many a time in the past. He repeatedly told them: ”Don’t call me Doctor” because as one of signatories to the city’s intellectuals’ statement sent to the regime calling for democracy and respect for freedom and other human rights, he knew that the regime would not allow any intellectual from our city to survive. Today, we are calling for our rights again, and we will get them, god willing. One witness told me that my father once chided him for toasting a piece of bread on a makeshift stove and told him to eat it as it is. To date, I could not understand why. Was he concerned about the loss of nutritional value with toasting? or was it the smell, in consideration for the hunger of all of the detainees.
The presence of a physician among the detainees, of whom there were five thousands in this particular detention camp, leaked to the officer. So, he gathered the detainees in the yard. Then, this senior officer said that they needed a physician, suggesting there was a medical emergency. My father and another doctor adhered to the Hippocratic Oath and answered the call of duty. Little they knew of the planned treachery. My father and the other doctor were both dragged alive and tortured. They gouged one of my father’s eyes in the midst of his suffering and one of those who were present told me that my father was on the ground writhing in pain when the soldiers were beating him with their weapons as if they were playing and before he died, the soldiers ganged up him as a pack of wolves. His tribulation and pain lasted for hours. Oh father, what did you feel…? After that, his body, which looked like mine, his face, resembling mine, and his soul, similar those of our today martyrs, was thrown in the yard and later handed to the national hospital, where he remained, with the other martyrs’ , laying at the hospital door. My father’s torture did not end then, for in there, they gouged his other eye, took his identity card and stapled it to his clothes.
One of our relatives was able to retrieve my father’s body. He was buried eyeless.
Today, I swear I never stopped asking for our full rights and for the murderers to receive just punishment. I never stopped, and will never stop until you return to me my father’s eyes to lay them to rest where he is.
I wrote the first few parts of my testimonial while under fear and anxiety from everything and I sent them to you to expose the crimes of this corrupt regime. God knows, as I was writing, letters of the alphabet abandoned me, and my language did not save me. Sometimes I would search for a letter or a sentence and try to write it down but it would escape as a fugitive does from this tyrannical regime. You have no idea how many a prose I erased out of fear for the safety of people, and how many times I hesitated, stuttered, and cried until I fell down. I swear my crying never stops when I write, and what I write is always forcefully extracted from my memories, which constantly tries to escape into the far and deep corners of my brain.
My father’s corpse was dumped for days among other corpses at the door of the national hospital. Earlier, my father, a non-Baathist, was appointed as a director of the hospital and president of the city’s syndicate of physicians. This was an earlier attempt to signal the regime’s responsiveness to the intellectuals statement and to initiate a dialogue with members of the city’s civil society in the same treacherous tricks being used to out such people by the regime nowadays. We must exercise caution and read the regime’s movements well.
A nurse, who worked with my father when he was the director of the hospital told me that wounded people arrived to the hospital in an non-slowing acceleration. An incident occurred when a wounded man was brought in loudly crying out of pain. His cries were so loud to the point where everyone in the hospital heard. He was not the only one crying out of pain, but his voice was the loudest. People who brought him believed, as we all now do, that the cries of pain were the signal to the soldiers who camped at the hospital to finish off the wounded and to assure our complete annihilation. It was not the treatment to ease the pain that was proportional the the pain of the wounded but the severity of torture awaiting them. The nurse told that the soldiers, accompanied by another nurse who adopted murder with them, opened up the man’s chest while he was writhing and shouting with pain, took out his heart, his blood covering their faces and their military uniforms; until they finally silenced him, forever, as they had thought then. But by god, I am his voice, his pain, and his body, until we honor him as befitting a human. They killed in a celebration of victory over humanity. This is their eternal war. The teller swore that the nurse who identified with the soldiers took out the man’s liver and chewed and spat pieces of it as if god didn’t exist in that place. The woman who told the story remained silent for years about it. Till today, she remains frozen in that place, unable to leave it as she relives repeatedly in her memories the scene. She said that they never asked for the man’s name. They don’t track names. The barbarians don’t know the language of children and women; our language. They know only the language of killing.
Bodies were defaced and disfigured in that hospital. On the walls, they drew with blood and wrote phrases such as “no god but nation and no prophet but the ba’ath”. The decapitated heads to express their fear of our mind, or may be so that people remain uncertain about the death of their disappeared beloved, or whether they are among the detainees in the gang’s jails. This is merely a picture of our psychological torture, which they strove to make chronic up to the present. Until now, doubts remain, and people, heart broken, still yearn for the return of those who went to that place.
It was as if the barbarians were abstracting the Human on a painting dominated by red and adding from the darkness of their hearts to balance their inhuman art. This was their art of painting, sculpting, of cinema and theater, and perhaps of poetry and music, but the task for narrating was left to me. They excelled over all of those who made contemporary art then, but they forgot that they were killing the human because these are the arts of killing among barbarians. They even performed their own scientific experiments: intravenous introduction of water and alcohol into the blood of the wounded while they observed what happened. What scientists? They have surpassed the ages. They punctured eardrums, slashed veins and cut productive organs, fingers, and ears. They gouged eyes, and penetrated every orifice with their guns. They used Cyanide on us (I will tell more about it later). They desired god to create us with no ears and no hearts. They desired that god never created us to begin with.
A wounded woman meant more pleasure for them because they can practice more of their arts including the rape of a woman while she is dying or bleeding, or sometimes, being merciful, killing her and then raping her. If she had any jewelry on her, they would extract the jewelry in the most vicious way such as by cutting her hand, or slashing her ear, and more. As they are doing today, then and in that area of my city, they instructed all hospitals not to admit anyone but wounded soldiers, and when no one listened to them, the destroyed all private hospitals. No one escaped their savagery as they looted, ransacked, and destroyed all of the pharmacies in our area.
Perhaps all of the survivors from the Boaroudeyeh neighborhood know Hameedo, a mentally disabled young man, who surpassed the murders in intelligence and humanity. Hameedo was there when the massacre of Hama started, and he would never hesitate to declare himself defender of his sacked city. Everyone in the neighborhood knew Hameedo because like a clock, he would release his flocks of pigeons to the sky at sunrise. His voice transcendent, Hameedo would wake everyone while sending his pigeons off. At sunset, he would sing the sun farewell with his loud voice calling on his flocks to return. A part of the homes and of the place, Hameedo would not stop doing that, even if everyone left. After the barbarians’ night attack on our city, and I don’t really know where he stayed at, but on that morning, while we were in our house, and when bullets flew from all direction, Hameedo went up to his roof and released his flock and his voice to the sky. His voice mixed with the sound of bullets and the sound of his pigeons was not the usual. It was more like our own sounds. Hameedo’s birds were scared of the bullets as they circled the sky desperately trying to land. Some of them got lost. But not Hameedo, who defied the bullets as his mother was calling him, with his voice being the only voice heard at that moment. We may never understand his feelings, and I think that he did not realize what he felt, but he stood with his sacked city and may have released his birds to make the barbarian understand his message. What a man? He grew grand in our eyes, freeing himself, and facing the murderers. Ever since that day, I have been trying to reach Hameedo’s heights and to tell you about his struggle, which is unlike any. The soldiers saw Hameedo’s birds and they started sniping them one after the other, but he kept shouting to tell us with his shouts that the barbarians would not refrain from any evil. He did not surrender, and would never allow his pigeons to land on the roof of his house. Some birds landed on other roofs, the rest were killed, but even then, Hameedo did not stop, he went looking for his birds from one roof to the other, enticing them to fly again. He faced the barbarians, and he didn’t hide or surrender to the sound of bullets for he kept that sound out until he was shot by the soldiers, who never understood what emotions are, and never knew what does humanity mean, and never favored it for other creatures.
Hameedo went silent on the roof of his house, but has never been silent in my memories. It is as if he is sending into my soul again what he felt in the wide skies. By god, today, we all feel like Hameedo, who released his weapon of simple humanity to stop the murder. Foretelling before anyone could that the barbarian were here to exterminate all birds, he departed with his birds to where he desired and left me to carry to your what he wanted for all of you. Where are you now Hameedo? To declare freedom in your own way, you are now eternal in the memories of those surviving residents of the Baroudeyeh. Everyone knew then that Hameedo was flying with his birds towards the sky. He was one of the first martyrs of our neighborhood.
In the Baroudeyeh, we had horse stables within arabian-styled our homes. All families in our neighborhood had horses and these horses were part of our pride and honor. We never classified our horses as animals, for they carried our names, and in that there was and remains an infinitely clear expression of the nature of the relationship we had with our horses. During our great escape from the neighborhood, some people remained, but most left. Those who remained told us later what happened to our horses. Before leaving, some men released their horses wanting for them exactly what Hameedo wanted his birds, and that was to stay away from the place, or to fight weapons with his beautiful birds. Many of the fine Arabian bloodstock horses were forced out, in manners we have never done in hundreds of year, a manner that does not at all represent our feelings towards our horses.
Yet, many horses remained, and the barley stores were left opened for them in hope that they can survive. Some believed that they will see their horses again upon their return, but these people did not know that barbarians don’t leave anything behind, and they would not leave our cultural heritage, the habits of our grandfathers, and they knew the symbolism of horses to us.
They did not kill the horses because they knew of their cultural values, and they knew that the loss of our horses will be forever painful to us, which is what they want. None of the survivors tell that they have seen horses among the corpses, because the barbarians have carried the horses to another place. I swear that after the end of the massacre, and the return of those who survived it to the city, the people of my city went looking for their horses as if they were looking for their own children. If any one mentioned that a beautiful horse or mare was seen in another governorate, they would go to investigate whether it was one of our beautiful horses. We never saw any, and did not found an answer until the golden horseman showed up, and then the people of Hama knew to where the horses disappeared. His father was never a horseman, nor was his grandfather. While he may have learned riding with our horses, not everyone understands the language of horses, because it teaches ethics, and it only befits us. Bassel al-assad, you never were a horseman, and this is not how horsemanship is.
To be continued
Coherence of thoughts is illusive. It lies behind the scenery of death, now so common as to fade into the background of long-threatened destruction that has become us. The hearts of our cities, those precious sculptures, carefully crafted over millenniums, with layers spanning centuries next to those that only lived less than a decade, now lie torn by the mad man and his minions. And the madness just would not subside.
For more than forty years, the seeds of destruction were being planted with the zeal of the obsessed. It is a story of madness played one slap at a time, of insults compounded by the ignorance of the bullies, of thefts aggravated by the infinite depravity of the thieves soul, of rapes, of torture, murders, disappearances, and of a foretold signs of the coming catastrophe, ignored as the beautiful and ancient city of Nourias was laid to waste by the barbarians. The silence was deafening even as the bleeding continued for as long as the madman lived.
The barbarians raped the souls of our cities with their demented cheap tasteless portraits. First, it was the madman, then he was joined by his vicious brother, only for the brother to be replaced by the sons, including the fake hero, who was killed by the characteristic recklessness of arrogance, but was nonetheless, declared a martyr and a demi-god. A worst fraud then replaced the fake martyr, it was a pretender to humanity, and the nightmare we now are fighting. The sons may have been legitimate to their unholy parents, but by all means, are illegitimate in time and place.
Fools were those among us who feigned knowledge. The wise ones said the devil is dead. But its essence never died. The crowning of his successor should have been another sign of the impending catastrophe. The essence of the devil never died. It remained active and never dormant, but vibrant in every military post, in torture dungeons around our land, in the secret mass graves scattered in our ancient desert. And the barbarians became more vulgar and evermore greedy as they continued their insults for eleven more years on our civility, our senses, our culture, and our intellects, individually and collectively. Under the series of promises, never made to be kept, lied the constant hum of the catastrophe. Many among us heard it very clearly, but we pretended to believe, perhaps fearing the hum, that the vulgar music of the barbarians will one day become a bit more refined only if we listen longer.
We listened, and the vulgar music turned into blasts that destroyed our homes and killed many of us with deliberate malice when we asked that this half century assault be stopped. What they did to us from that point on will be told in the future for centuries to come. It will be a story of betrayal, of savagery, as well as of heroism that we never knew had existed in us. But the story of our heroic death will be worthy to hear only if told as the conclusion to the story of our cowardliness. Without that, there is no lesson learned, and our death, and the death of our children and grandchildren who are paying the price of our cowardliness will be pointless and in vain.
I stopped counting days. The post-massacre pain of anguish which started very acute ad sharp, then turned into a dull pain as our cities and villages turned into killing fields, had finally settled into a continuous throb of sharp, maddening pain as the massacres became daily and hourly happenstance. A short while ago, it was my University. The place which has more personal connection to my life than it does to most of its graduates. The mayhem outraged us, but our outrage became worst when the thugs tried to appropriate our martyrs. I don’t think they really cared to say that our side was the side who murdered our own children, but more to continue their assault and theft, even of our death at their hands.
Today, it was the river. Residents in in the liberated Bustan Al-Qaser area of Aleppo, pulled more than sixty bodies from the narrow, highly polluted River Quaiq . All were males between the age of 20-40, with a few children, and all were tied and shot in the head execution style. At first, as they did with the University, the thugs hyped that this is a liberated area and therefore, these are victims of the FSA. But early identification, in addition to the close-proximity of the area to regime territory point that at least some of the victims were reported to have been kidnapped by the notorious murderous air-force intelligence.
Others are probably more able to describe the scene of death. But to me, every time I see the photograph of victim, tied and shot, all I can think of is the horrors the barbarians have inflicted on their victims before killing them. You see, their smuggled tapes have finally paid off, but not in the way they thought for I am not horrified any longer, I am beyond that.
Like many Syrians, I am now beyond many other feelings. Nowadays, I no longer get angry at a relative or a former friend when they support the filth called Assad regime, I just accept the fact that they are part of the filth. What I don’t tell them is that anger used to build up and then subside, hate was accumulating in a crescendo parallel to the atrocities of the barbarians, but now, we are beyond both anger and hate, we are even beyond vengeance. We are now obsessed with swearing “Never Again”. Let the world know, Never again. I know it really threatens the barbarians, because it is even sweeter than revenge.
Before the down of history, early Levantines domesticated wild cereal plants launching with that the Neolithic revolution and putting humanity on its long road to history itself and to civilization as we know it. The most important of these plants was the predecessor of our today’s wheat, the main ingredient of bread.
Syrians have always revered bread. Anyone walking the streets of Syria would notice a peculiar habit. People would bend, pick up a hardened bread crumb from the sidewalk, kiss it, lift it to touch their forehead and then place it on the nearby wall. This places bread with the hands of parents, and the Holly Book of Quran, both are kissed and then touched by forehead as a sign of appreciation and reverence of these blessings of god. As the most important staple in the Levantine diet, reverence for the golden loaf, in one variety or another is deep in our social norms. It was a reverence for the gift of the goddesses of fertility, and as destined, later became the flesh of a god, also revered by all Syrians in both his divine and human manifestations.
Twelve millennium later, thousands years after the launching of history, an anti-historic force, brutal as no barbarians have ever been, malicious more than humanely possible appears intent on ending history as its own demise appears inevitable. This subhuman force wages a war on bread. The first bakery bombed was in Al-Sakhour neighborhood of Aleppo. This was followed by a string of bakeries being bombed during rush hours in the city and its countryside. The horror of hunger brought by the Assad caused shortage of bread, of water, fuel, and electricity are not enough to satisfy Assad’s lust for death and humiliation of Syrians. Yet, Syrians remain defiant of this criminal. Tremendous efforts are made every day by many to provide bread to their hunger stricken people. But these efforts are sometimes hindered by betrayal, manipulation, attempts at profiteering, and by plain carelessness of others. They are also efforts full of heroism from volunteers, bakers, and from ordinary people waiting in very long lines at bakeries for the day’s loaf. All betrayal and greed, however, do pale in comparison with the malice and vicious malevolence of the sub-human Bashar al-Assad, whose iron birds of death continued to wage a war on the livelihood of Syrians. Yesterday it was the massacre at Helfaya, with more than 140 confirmed dead children, women, and men, killed for no other reason than defying the murderer’s lust for their humiliation by standing in line for bread after three weeks of hunger. Today, this subhuman struck again and fourteen people, including ten children, are no longer among us for the same reason. They dared defy this sectarian bastard.
The carnage was real, as real as the slave minded supporters of the regime. A misguided fool wanted to stage a dramatic picture by dipping a loaf of bread in the blood of Assad victims, and with that, the fool murdered the humanity of assad’s victims once more a few minutes after assad’s pack of hyenas aimed the barrel of death at the gathering bread line. The sub-human wanted to send message to the world before Syrians. A message nodding his understanding of the world’s cynical silence about his crime, and affirming his intention to murder all Syrians who dare defy him and to benefit to the maximum possible extent from the treacherous deal making among regional and global powers.
It cost Syrians billions of dollars to acquire Russian military jets. It also cost them hundreds of millions to train pilots for these sub-standard jets. Now they are realizing the pay-back from the assadist ideological army built by Hafez Assad as a personal sectarian militia. Air force pilots, once respected and considered a symbol of Syrian pride have become not only complicit with the criminal bashar assad in his genocide against Syrians, but the most despised of executioners of this genocide.
Today is Christmas eve, I will follow the good example set by Syrians in the town of Saraqeb, who put up a Christmas tree in defiance of all thugs who want sectarian war in my Syria. I will go with my family to meet some Syrian friends. We have become brothers and sisters through this long ordeal. We will eat bread with more reverence than ever. It will not be a jovial evening, there will be no bells, no Christmas Carroll, not even the Grinch. I will pray:
… dear lord, I have become one with you through your flesh, I have become one with you through your blood, and I pray to you,… don’t come back now, for the monster of Damascus lies awaiting you to crucify you again, while humanity looks, as it did before, with cynicism. A cynicism brought about by fear of monsters that aren’t there, which makes them turn their faces and blind themselves to the crimes of the most despicable monster and of his goons and dastardly loyalist.
Thy lord, forgive me for I will sin, forgive me for the monsters that are have left hate in my heart. Forgive me for I am asking you never to forgive them. Never to forgive anyone who still supports them, lie on their behalf, and use your name with sinful disregard for your beloved, the children, who are murdered daily by this monster and by the words of his defenders. May your curse befall them all as mine will, for eternity.
Eat your bread, cherish it as it gives you life, for it has become death where it was born.
I am not good at that. I mean, I don’t know how to collate news round-ups despite of all helpful modern blogging tools that make such task easier. May be I don’t like to do so, or perhaps, it has become harder as my main source of news ceased being news-papers and blogs and became fast tweets, rapid shots of RSS-feeds, and Facebook posts coming from all over Syria telling me and a cynical world where a mortar shell has just fallen and where the most recent massacre-by-barrel has taken place decimating a neighborhood block and absurdly ending many potentials of greatness, mediocrity, and just plain normal living.
It is also harder to be opinionated nowadays, especially regarding the rapidly unfolding events in Syria. Although they occure in rapid succession, these events nonetheless betray a slow steadily flowing lava-like wall of brutality, suffering, and unimaginable misery. Friends are wounded with no well-organized medical relief to take care of them, and when relief is available, it is mostly controlled by a single group with a viciously selfish and opportunistic political agenda whereby aid is dispensed only to those who belong in their allegiance to the group or to its battalions. In many cases, these battalions consist of fighters and leaders who are neither indoctrinated, nor deeply religious, but are pragmatic in meeting the needs of the moment, be it a case of ammunition, a few gallons of fuel, or some food to sustain their fighters.
What permeate the atmosphere in Aleppo are the genetic prints of the culture of despotism, nurtured and fed through corruption and terror by two generations of Assads. Despotism is evident among some armed groups, more evidently in the north than elsewhere around the country. In Aleppo, stories of abuse, theft, corruption, lack of coordination, greed, vengeance, betrayal, and selfishness continue to surface every day. A majority of these stories can be attributed to the hordes of Shabeeha (regime thugs). Abandoned by Assad when they could not hold off FSA progress in some of the older neighborhoods, they decided to form their own armed groups or to join other groups under the banner of the free Syrian Army. But other stories can be attributed to young men, now carrying weapons, and are entrusted with maintaining peace and order in liberated areas. The young men fail to remember that this revolution is all about ending abuse and behave the only way they have seen men with arms and authority behave, which is being abusive with a sense of entitlement. As expected, the regime, continues its deliberate and vengeful “burn the country” madness as its forces bomb infrastructure including power stations, bakeries, hospitals as well as civilian neighborhoods, being high on its check list of mayhem. Power outages, water cuts, and full deterioration of basic services have made life unbearable in a city used to abundance, and during forty years, was devoid through premeditated malice by the Assads and their goons of civil society institutions with the capacity to maintain social cohesion in times of disasters. Aleppo is a city plagued, like all of Syria, with a state that is indistinguishable from the brutal regime, described by Yassin Haj-Salih, as having used the state to cement its brutal sectarian rule, and gradually eradicated it and turned it into a mere extension of itself. Clearly, the regime shed the state at the moment the it became a liability to the small gang of bloody Assads and their sectarian criminal circle.
It is natural, therefore, that some residents of the liberated areas in Aleppo’s would complain about the presence FSA in their midst. Lack of basic services, severe bread crisis, weeks’ long black-outs, and water outages, all under constant bombardment will eventually get to you. But is that a sign that FSA is losing public support? Or that the regime is gaining more supporters? Frankly, I believe that only a fool, who is completely detached from the facts on the ground would think that the regime can gain any public support at this stage. Same fool, of course, may even think that this criminal gang of thugs care about gaining public support. The Assads and their henchmen have combined brutality, corruption, despotism, fatalism, and sectarianism to create a witch’s brew of absurdity of an inhuman scale and qualities. Within such severely deformed prism, facts don’t matter, and it is irrelevant whether one believes his own lies or not for suspension of disbelief is no longer a requirement. What matters is only fear and spiteful vengeance. And both are hallmarks of the inhuman horde that had ruled my Syria for most of my lifetime.
In the midst of suffering and in contrast to the lack of coordination among FSA groups in the north emerge groups of highly disciplined fighters. The origins of these Jihadist groups is unclear, but they are now coalescing under the banner of Jabhat Alnusra (Support Front). I have argued in the past that Alnusra is highly suspect of being a regime’s creation. But recenty, the front and its smaller sisters seem to have taken an increasingly more visible role as the most effective of the anti-regime armed groups. Moreover, there are visible campaigns to bestow a legendary stature on the front as its fighters seem to be present in almost all recent victories of the the FSA against the regime. With each victory, the group gains control over much of the spoils of captured weapons and ammunition. Other groups, not directly affiliated with the front, but wanting to get access to the same source of support the front has, are starting to copy-cat the front’s behavior, contrary to what a majority of Syrians expect and want from this revolution. This is exemplified by those fools who declared the establishment of the virtue brigades calling for cleansing Syria of Alawite as well as the small band battalion leaders war-lords wannabe who declared an Islamic Emirate in the north in a desperate effort to oppose the newly formed political coalition, which they feared will centralize funds and leave them out to dry if they don’t shape up.
Arguably, the presence and ascendancy of Jihadi groups has been a double-edged sword. On the one hand, they have made it easier to wipe out the regime’s brutal security apparatus in the upcoming post-assad era as they have managed to close many of its branches, scare its informants into hiding, and intimidate its collaborators, sometimes through outright execution style assassinations especially at the local level. At the same time, they have made defection of much-needed officer corps harder than it would have been without their rigid “I am a Jihadist” attitude and their arrogant calls to force a Taliban model state of future Syria. In fact, and as expected, the have pushed their luck too far and have now scared the US and some other nations to the edge of declaring them terrorist organizations. Such declaration, even if right, further complicates the ongoing liberation of Syria. It hinders much-needed relief efforts and jeopardizes the immediate post-assad political process.
I have not commented on the forming of the new Coalition. Many have argued that the coalition suffers the same ailments of its largest component (SNC), which is controlled by the opportunistic and cynical Muslim Brothers. In my opinion, the coalition, for now at least, presents a reasonable platform. It seems to be successfully led by a charismatic and respected leader, who still needs to do much more to stem the monopoly the Muslim Brothers have over much of the aid resources available. This monopoly continues to place honest people, who are willing to work within SNC in bad situations. Today, the Kurdish National Council decided to join the coalition, which is bound to reduce the influence of the MBs. Hopefully, with more opposition groups joining as a result of the coalition becoming recognized as the legitimate interim representative of the Syrian people, there may be a chance for some marked improvements on the political front. Power plays are bound to affect it, like any ad hoc political coalition formed in response to external pressure while facing a brutal regime that has succeeded, through this brutality in making relief work the primary measure of performance for the opposition instead of their political or even military successes.
Likewise, militarily, also under external pressure, there seem to be a trend for coordination. A meeting was held recently in Antalya, Turkey between representatives of many of the armed revolutionary groups. Once more a new central command was announced, albeit in complete isolation from the political coalition, at least for the time being.
Criticism of the FSA is coming from several sides. I will of course dismiss that emanating from loyalists and regime propagandists. But I will not discount any criticism voiced from revolutionary quarters. Some of the criticism is fair and some is not, but in all, it is a very healthy sign that has thrown some of the personnel and leaders of FSA off balance and has caused them to try to ameliorate some of the problems, albeit through Sharia Courts, and vice and virtue brigade, which on many occasions have add fuel to the fire instead of calming things down. I would further argue that once the regime air force and artillery are silenced, hopefully soon, civil society will emerge and will thrive in short order. It is the regime’s murderous campaign of destruction that continues to hinder the establishment of effective local councils. The evidence of the inherent and capacity to produce healthy community governance was well articulated earlier on NPR
Overall, the picture is grim. Syrians are now recalling what their great grandparents have once told their parents about the great years of famine and misery. That was the time of Safar Barlek when the Ottomans forcibly drafted most men of all ages for then war efforts and confiscated most agricultural products. This left the women, the children, and the elderly to fend for themselves during one of the harshest cold spells in the elders’ memory. The Syrian tragedy resembles no other, for never in recent and past history have rulers shown such contempt to their own people. The misery of Syrians have spread throughout the region. Children have died in the cold of most inhumane refugee camps in Jordan. I was recently told that the Jordanian authorities tax every single aid shipment intended for the camps or for wounded Syrians in Jordanian hospitals by confiscating a third of the shipment. This is notwithstanding that on several occasions, what was left after confiscation, never really made it to the camps or to those who need it. There is no worst story to tell of the horror than that of children’s horror. Even the lucky ones, who made it through the help of family members into the safety of homes in Egypt or in one of the gulf states continue to suffer. A Facebook post illustrated this most vividly by telling the story of a little girl, who was brought to safety in the United Arab Emirates by her uncle. The girl went for an outing with her family during the celebrations of the UAE national day. When she heard the sound of celebratory fireworks, the little girl pressed her small hands over her ears and started shouting hysterically, Bashar is bombing us, Bahsar is bombing us.
It is for this child, it is for Hamza’s memory, for Qashoush, for nearly fifty thousand Syrians young and old, murdered in cold blood by Assad gangs, with fanfare from ugly and cruel herds of mindless loyalists accompanying the slaughter, it is for the victims, for Syria, and above all for humanity that Syrians can’t lose hope. We can’t afford to lose it, even knowing that this regime might and can easily resort to the weapons of mass murder in its arsenal. There is nothing that the regime has done to demonstrate that it amassed the arsenals of weapons for anything but for its survival even if that meant the utter destruction of a beautiful country, and the death of all of its inhabitants. Anyone who thinks that there is a shred of humanity or of rationalism in the Assad gang is a fool who has blinded himself to forty years of history leading to two years of anti-historical nightmare. No one is responsible but the regime, and anyone claiming otherwise is complicit in the great Syrian Genocide. The list of regime crimes include, in addition to the evil murder of tens of thousands of Syrians, the torture of hundreds of thousands. But the most evil of this contemptible gang’s crimes is the attempted murder of the souls of Syrians and of their humanity. To the scared child I say, sweet child, they have been bombarding us for forty-two years. Little by little, they destroyed our heritage of civility. But my sweet child, we will get that back. Granted, we may lose some of our innocence, but from you dear child, we will learn it again.
Revised- Saturday: December 15, 2012
Note: Dear 7ee6anis. I think by now, most of you already know of SYRIA DEEPLY. It is an outstanding new site on Syria that combines smart commentary, intelligent design, and for the tech-freak mundass some incredible tools such as defection tracker, regime relation mapping, and an updated map of incident on the ground. The site also feather Syrian Stories, with two so far written by the wonderful Amal Hanano. You may want to read this article about Syria Deeply describing how the site Outsmarts The News, Redefines Conflict Coverage.
Introduction from OTW
While the Syrian Revolution goes on, the regime blocks communications, loses ground, and the future outlook for Syria, from political point of view keep getting fuzzier by the day, Yesterday’s vote at the UN General Assembly should not go unnoticed. After the vote, I spoke to a friend who has served few years as a UN Diplomat, and below is the essence of our conversation. I decided to write this post after the conversation, and since I was neither taping, nor taking notes, it would be hard for me to separate where my friend stands, and where I do. Overall we shared most of what is being said. I must also state that my friend, while sympathetic to Palestinians, bares no obvious hostility to Israel. Also, and beforehand, I must apologize in advance for the fact that I will not be able to respond to comments as much as I want, but I will try my best to check on frequently enough to respond when I can.
Now you are a State, what’s next
First, it was the United Nations Scientific, Cultural and Education Organization (UNESCO) where Palestine’s statehood was recognized with full membership and now art the UN General Assembly, where Palestine’s statehood is recognized but with an observer status.
UNESCO continues to feel the financial burden due to the US refusing to pay its dues following the historic decision using a law passed from the days of Ronald Reagan as Arab States failed to fill in the budget gaps resulting from the US’s decision. It is unlikely that the US will do any such drastic act with respect to the UN despite of the identical outcome of the vote in the two organizations, which is the recognition of Palestinian statehood. But it has not stopped some senators from introducing an amendment to the defense act in an attempt to punish both Palestine and the UN. Republican Senators Barrasso (R-WY), Lee (R-UT), and Inhofe (R-OK) introduced an amendment that will cut 50% of the total U.S. funds to the Palestinian Authority and to any U.N. entity that grants the Palestinians a status change and reduces by 20% U.S. foreign assistance to any country voting for the status change. Judging by the results of the cut of funds for UNESCO, this will not help, but will make it harder for the US to implement most of its aid program, which has historically been far more effective in spreading American values than the US army. If this amendment passes, it will further erode the US’s own capacity for diplomacy. In the end, it will perhaps be a loss for Israel more than for the US because Israel needs the world’s goodwill towards the US and the US’s ability to rightfully use its aid program to influence political decisions at the world’s stage, which is being eroded by such bills. The world has long ago recognized the right of the Palestinians to have their own state. It is now recognizing that it is time that such happens and that the state is not threatened with the continuing expansion of settlements, which is frowned upon by most of the world including some in Israel. Time for Israel’s friends in the US to act like friends of Israel and not friends of a minority of Israelis.
What the two decisions say, especially the UNGA decision, which passed with overwhelming majority (138 to 9), as well as a sizable abstention (41), is that the world no longer accepts excuses to delay the full independence and sovereignty of Palestine and the final status negotiation. The Israeli Ambassador at the UN was far more diplomatic and cultured than his counterpart at UNESCO, who nearly two years ago was impolite, lecturing, and arrogant. In his Yesterday’s speech, he attempted a last line of defense appeal, using an argument many countries have already sympathized with (the right of the Jewish People to their own state), but failing to present a strong argument as to how that right would be threatened by recognition of Palestinian statehood. The other argument, which states that such recognition will derail the peace process sounded insincere coming from the representative of a government that bears the primary responsibility for the painful prolonging of a seemingly endless peace process, followed, and nearly equaled in responsibility, as we now know, by those calling themselves the resistance camp who now stand to lose a lot as the Palestinians no longer need said camp’s political support having discovered, once more that the majority of the world countries stands with their right, and that the world is far more supportive of their mature political approach to their cause. The speech by the US Ambassador was noteworthy in its attempts to show compassion with the Palestinians, and yet hinder their ability to stand as equal party in the negotiation regarding permanent status. The world disagreed with the US, and that is the end of it. However, there remains one correction to be mentioned, yesterday’s action was not a unilateral one as the US ambassador said, it was a near-global action telling the US, sorry, but we don’t see it that way. That said, the US Ambassador, once more reaffirmed the US Administration’s conviction of the right of Palestinians to have their own state, and to live secure in their state, and the intent of the US to work towards that goal, albeit from a perspective that is more beholden to Israel’s security than to the rights of the Palestinians. Anyone denying that would not be objective.
UNESCO’s charter emphasizes peace and cooperation, admitting Palestine to UNESCO means that the state adheres to these principles and that fellow member states have enough reasons to believe that the state’s application is sincere in doing so. The more significant UN charter emphasizes the rights of citizens of states to live secure within their border. Palestine’s application to observer status affirms acceptance of that Charter, which is an important global diplomatic gain. Granted, states have violated that charter numerous times. Every car bomb that went off in Iraq, sponsored by Damascus thugs was violation, every rocket lobbed at Israel was a violation, and every air-raid on Lebanon or Gaza, bus explosion in Israeli towns, and predator assassination of Palestinian leaders, are also violations of that. But there is a difference between state and non-state actors. Now that Palestine’s statehood is no longer a question, both sides will have to deal with this issue, and attempts to sponsor non state actor in Palestine can easily be viewed by the world community as violation of Palestinian sovereignty and not as affirmation of their rights to resistance. There is a silver lining in the decision for Israel if the Israeli government was not so obsessed with the expansionist greed of a minority of the country’s citizens and the remnants of the long standing policy of denying Palestine and Palestinians. Both Israel and Palestine are now obliged to deal with each other as states, at least theoretically.
OTW’s own conclusion
Yesterday’s vote pulled the rug from under the feet of the Israeli government and the expansionist settlers. Yet, what is far more significant to me is that it did pull the rug from under the feet of those in the defunct resistance camp. The Palestinians can now tell their story, on their own, and even as observers, they may not have the right to vote, but they do have the right to make interventions, submit resolution, with the support of full member states, many of whom proved that they can be friends to both Palestine and Israel and become closer than ever to ending tyrannical regime’s cynical attempts to use them as passive tools in suppressing their own people. In that regard, the vote was victory for both Palestine and for free Syrians. Congratulation Palestine, congratulations free Syria, you are no longer burdened with attempting to use Palestinians, and now you can really support them by finishing off yet another obstacle to peace, and one of their most vicious abusers, the tyrannical Assad regime.
The latest selections of posts by Professor Landis betray what seems to be an affinity to the privileged. We first have a post presenting one of the most privileged people within the regime and who is a zero entity among the fractious opposition circles as the uniquely qualified person to hold Syria together.
Then comes a classical “Assad-the-enigmatic” style apologist post. Combining the professor’s reading of a Syria-experts, and that of Nir Rosen who, like many well-connected Syria specialists and insiders, continue to play the old bad melody of Assad the a reluctant murderer doing what he does because his sect wants him to stay in power in fear of losing privilege. The post, of course, attempts to inform us, in no uncertain term that all will be hell if this murderer and his gang lose power, and that Assad is viewed as the “superior” alternative to chaos.
Notwithstanding the very bad taste and choice the word “superior”, both posts prominently feature a declaration by general Tlass Jr., which received near zero second of attention by any of the many circles forming the real opposition to the mafia militia and is being hyped as a declaration of road-map and assurances through the traditional “I know-Syria” analysts in the US academia and press.
Both posts attempt to engineer opinion and both posts do display a lack of understanding, intentional or otherwise, about the seemingly stagnant, yet evolving situation in Syria. They also expose a lack of understanding of human nature. This is not because of missing facts, but for the machination of the facts in the interest of preserving the privileged status of those who ruled Syria by blood and gore for nearly fifty years.
Most tellingly, what the latter post ignores, which seems also to be a common deficiency among most US based analyses, usually written in favor of presenting those supporting Assad as future victims, is that there are no more privileges to have. The foundation of regime supporters enjoying special status, independent of their sect, was not power itself, military or otherwise, but the fear induced by the threat of exercising such power. In that sense, a thug can enjoy his privilege only in docile times when the hostility of the bereaved and oppressed is suppressed by this fear. This was only possible given that measures of violence remain personal and where examples are made through a limited, albeit, relatively huge number of people being brutalized by worst of the violence. The rest of the population has to be given a sense of deformed normalcy where accepting corruption, suppression, and despotism seem to be the safer option. It helps to throw in a bone of a central, larger than individuals cause to present the petty thief and murderer as a strong charismatic leader. These conditions would provide a wide margin for the privileged to use fear in relative safety and protection with minimal cost to themselves.
Fear is no longer. It has been replaced with open and courageous hostility, deep contempt, outright rejection, and tit-for-tat, albeit asymmetric violence directed against the regime’s privileged and their symbols. The current asymmetric military power and the wanton destruction and murder by the “Assad or we burn the country” has not helped in returning the clocks backward. On the contrary, the inhuman scale of the catastrophe wreaked solely by the ugly sectarian Assad-gang and their defenders has done exactly the opposite. It has exposed the limitation of the mindless violence in intimidating the will of the people once they have risen against the cheap and foolish ignoramus and his militia.
“Khelset” (crisis is over), Assad worshippers shouted more than a year ago. Today, they murdered 343 Syrians, many of whom were murdered in cold blood massacres. Everyone who still support this regime is accountable for their death.
I received the following letter sent from a dear expat friend of mine to her niece in Syria with a request to share it. In fact, this letter could have been sent from me to some of my own relatives by simply replacing “your aunt” with “your uncle, or you cousin“
To my niece with love
You are my niece and I love you and will always do. I am going to explain to you my view point. Syria has been ruled by the Assads for over 40 years. I lived under their rule as a little girl all the way up to starting a business and working at the university and for Syrian TV, thus, I really do not need anyone to explain to me what the Syrian regime is all about. I left the country 20 years ago and went back almost every year to visit. I watched Syria falling slowly into the abyss. I could see it very clearly coming from outside the country, while people inside the country were completely oblivious. They genuinely believed that Syria was getting better and moving forward, while in reality it was inching backwards. They thought that having the Internet and being allowed on limited web sites was the ultimate achievement. They figured that having some private schools meant progress in education, but they truly had no clue what progress meant or required. As time went by, the few institutions that we had in Syria were slowly disappearing under the pressure of corruption and nepotism. Syria was no longer ruled by a government, it was ruled by a mafia. You could get anything and everything done if you knew the right person, businesses could only operate if they partnered up with the right people and law and order was completely based on fear and torture. This type of government was not sustainable. The people in Syria were either becoming filthy rich or dirt poor, the middle class slowly, but surly disappeared and young people could neither find jobs nor hope for a better future. In summary, the Assads could write the book on how to destroy a nation. Today, the people said enough is enough. They watched other Arab countries get rid of their dictators and decided that it is now or never. I was not born yesterday; I know that the FSA is committing some atrocities. I know that the CIA and the MI 5 and others are roaming free in Syria. I realize that some Jihadi elements are there too, but this, to me, is the natural result of what the Assad regime did and continues to do. Forty years of persecution of free thought and speech. Forty years of the outlawing of free assembly. With that in mind, I do not understand how anyone can expect a unified opposition of any sort. We have literally not talked to each other in forty some years. How are we going to immediately make the connection and understand each other?. This is beyond normal human abilities. The demonstrations started as purely peaceful demonstrations. The regime opened fire on them killing droves of people. Yet they continued and persevered. Giath Matar, from Daraya, organized residents to meet the army with roses and bottles of water. He was arrested and tortured to death. The regime said that they are open to talk to the opposition. Every single person who showed up to those meetings was either arrested, killed or fled the country after continuous molestation. I can go on and on, but you get the picture. I spent 5 days with your father when he came to visit me. I know exactly how he feels about this whole thing. He was one of the lucky ones who had a good life that is now destroyed. He is worried about the future and rightly so. We are all worried and are under no illusions that this will take many years to stabilize. From his perspective: he was doing well and living well and he did not need this disruption at this stage in his life. I do not blame him. I would have probably felt the same way, had I been through the same experience, but the life of a nation and 23 million people cannot be decided by individual interests. It has to be decided by the will of the majority. I am an ardent supporter of this revolution and of the Free Syrian Army. I cannot wait for the bastard-in-chief to go. I want Syria to have a chance in becoming a nation of institutions. A nation where people can thrive because of their abilities, not their connections. Please remember that this regime that you are supporting is bombing Halab with planes that we, the people, paid for. They do not really care about anyone except themselves. He wants to keep his power period. They hit hospitals by tanks with straight aims. Wake up and open your eyes. This is no longer a plain and simple “difference of opinion”. At this point, you are either with the murderer or with the victim you cannot even choose to be in-between.
Your loving aunt….
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.