Aboud on AL Observers

Ever since the observers arrived, defections have been increasing a great deal. Soldiers are more willing to defect when they know that the army can’t chase them into Baba Amr and other areas.

For that reason alone, I say let’s keep the observer team in Syria for as long as possible. If I may make a bold prediction, but it looks like the regime fell into a trap, and it’s been outflanked. Baba Amr has never been quieter. To someone in Homs, it makes a big difference if a tank has been moved a kilometer away, even though in strict military terms it might appear insignificant.

As long as the observers are in Syria, the regime has no hope whatsoever of subduing the main hotspots. A de facto safe haven is therefore in the making, where defectors can seek shelter, safe from the regime’s retribution. Apparently, someone at the AL has thought things through more thoroughly than junior’s conspiracy obsessed advisors have.

Al Arabi wants desperately to show that the observer team is producing results. On the surface, his talk of the army completely withdrawing from cities might have seemed strange. But when you think about it, that’s all the encouragement a defector-to-be-needs; when he knows that there are areas where his pursuers cannot go to chase him.

Now all they need to do is be able to make their way to those areas.

And once the regime is forced to allow independent media into the country, they can do a far better job than thousands of observers can. To the menhebaks, the presence of an independent media is worse than a full NATO division on the border.

Posted on January 4, 2012, in Syria. Bookmark the permalink. 151 Comments.

  1. Dear OTW,
    I would also like George Sabra in that position. First and foremost, he is fit for the job, second, he will show the world that this is not a sectarian war, third, it will prove to all of us if the Muslim Brotherhood members are really as tolerant as they claim to be.

  2. Sheila:

    “I watched that clip from Kafar Souseh. It is very upsetting.”

    I posted the same clip last night, perhaps you missed it. I couldn’t sleep afterwards because I couldn’t understand what motivates these thugs. I then watched a really insightful interview with Haytham Maleh speaking about torture in the Syrian prisons in details. His talk gives you an idea of what the “long road of abuse and torture” you noted.

    Mr. Maleh goes to length and explains why and how these people do more than the “ow’7oosh”. Apparently, the Syrians borrowed it from East German “Eichman” and his teams collaborating inside Syria in torture training!

    Really eye opening for those who missed it.


  3. Syrian Hamster:

    “They make them”.

    To some extent, yes I agree. But that is only one part of a complex psychological web of what motivates someone to do what animals don’t do.

    We have to be very careful on making blank statements because I and I am sure all of us would like to see those who did this barbaric acts out of shear insensitivity to human suffering be held accountable. By saying “they make them”, we are giving everyone an easy pass. Not all were forced into anything. That is an excuse. Many with blood on their hands would jump onto “they made me do it” bandwagon and then walk clean. Remember, there are those that traded flesh for money.

    I have not heard the opposition take a clear position about torture and mass executions.

    – The opposition will have to show that those responsible will be held accountable.
    – The opposition should show more seriousness about investigating each and every incident, torture, abduction, deaths, etc… This will garner a serious image for those that have lost or suffered directly and for those who continue to take risk.
    – The opposition remind the members of government, the army, and especially those “that were forced” that they have options and that they can say no more.

  4. Also Syrian Hamster:

    Watch Mr. Maleh describe what motivates a killer and torturer. Many enjoy it. And the Kafer Souseh, I and SGID posted, shows you that we are not talking about a dozen phsycos, there are tens of thousands of those shabeehas that do it out of their free will!


    Folks, this was addressed to someone on SC, after he called me son of a whore. off course using other people’s words. The comment section of that place is really becoming a cesspool.

    من الجردون

    أنا واحد جردون مهاجر
    وبزعران الحاره خابر
    من جحري طليت شويي
    تا قلك قصه يا ناطر
    أزعر وبيعرف يقرا
    و بيعرف يحكي ويكتب
    بتقللو تصبح على خير
    بيسب،… ويمكن يضرب
    أزعر بينتقد السلطان
    وبيقلك حكمو كرهان
    بتقللو يالله نشيلو
    بيقلك أنت حيوان
    أزعر بيحكي بالحياد
    وبحبو لوطن الأجداد
    بدو يحمي المتجبر
    حتى لو شعبو بينباد
    أزعر حكيو نصو ذم
    ونصو التاني حقد وسم
    بيتباكى سمعة شبيح
    ويتناسى حمام الدم
    أزعر عن شعبو عميان
    وعن دبحو بأيد الطغيان
    بتقللو الفقرا ثاروا
    بيقول كلاب واخوان
    أزعر يشتم خير الناس
    بس كللو رقة واحساس
    أن جاريتو بيطبطبلك
    وان شارعتو، كسر الراس
    أزعر شاطر بالتفنيص
    هاد زباله وهادا رخيص
    وهي عميلة وهني خونه
    وانت خراس وحاج تحيص
    أزعر شاطر بالدعاية
    بيلولحلك بها الراية
    بدو يحمي حجار الجرد
    وشعبو؟… ما بيحرز حمايه
    أزعر ما بتعرف شو بيعمل
    نزق وحمق وحكيو بيهبل
    بيزاود ضد التحريض
    ومن تحريضو شيل وحمل
    ازعر عم بيقص ويلزق
    بس الصورة ما عم تطبق
    شو ما لف وشو ما دار
    ما حيسوي العلقم بندق
    ازعرمغموم وحردان
    ولامملو شلة زعران
    شبيحة نصن فلتان
    والنص التاني خرفان
    ازعر واضح متل كتاب
    خصوصي لصحاب الالباب
    ليش مسباتو بالعربي؟
    وبلافرنجي… شو حباب
    أنا واحد جردون صغير
    وبزعران الحاره خبير
    خليني ارجع على جحري
    قبل مايهوجوا الزنابير


    Off course, I agree with what you said, the numbers are staggering, as the Assadist regime has managed over 40 years to mass make thugs. Poverty, dehumanization of the other, cult personality, encouraging fascist tendencies, and in Syria (prepare for the shock), separating the true meaning of faith from the actual practice of rituals (which has been the doctrine of the baathist imams as OTW described them on another blog). Many have said that the regime has released the lowest of the low in society and deputaised them as Shabee7a to support the ranks of the reluctant. Notice that the traffic cops were watching without interfering. This off course is another facet of the regime’s brutal transformation of Syria over two generations.

  7. Syrian Hamster:

    I hear you. There needs to be a strong voice of accountability coming from the revolution. These thugs must get the message (news outlets, blogs, etc…) that they are not going to get away with it. Some will be die-hards, but some will start calculating their steps back and may start thinking twice.

  8. Dear Husam,
    You are right. I did miss your link. Thank you for posting it again. It is definitely worth seeing. I have also watched most of that interview with Haytham Almaleh. It is very interesting how he talks about the torturers. The drug addicts who are provided with their daily dose of drugs in exchange for torturing people. The most interesting was when he talked about the two young conscripts who refused to torture anyone. They were told that if they did not, they would be jailed. They went to jail gladly.
    In “The Shell”, Khalifeh also talks about the torturers. He describes one young conscript who actually vomited when he witnessed torture for the first time and how as time went by, he became one of the worst torturers. Hamster is right. They do make these thugs through a process of humiliation and dehumanization, however, this does not exonerate them from the crimes that they commit. You are right, they have to face justice for their crimes.

  9. Dear Hamster,
    Very nice poem. We have all been through the direct curses from the pro-regime crowd on SC. What they lack in intellectual ability and critical thinking prowess, they make up with obscenity and profanity.

  10. The opposition is now saying that the AL mission was “destined to fail from the start”. This was exactly what I said a week ago and reserved 1 week to solidify my position. I am personally certain now that this Monitor Mission will not be a game changer.

    If I may differ, this mission gives false hope. The head of the mission has said “he has not seen anything frightening”. Go figure which lalaland he is in.

    The AL meeting tomorrow will do nothing but prolong the mission (i.e. involve the UN, give the monitors formal training, etc…) and prolong the suffering of the Syrians living inside Syria. Unfortunately, they need a wider river of blood so there is larger consensus from the AL, the west and the fence-sitters.

    Also, notice how much noise there was on this blog, SC, and other news outlets about the first bomb compared to the second bomb. With the first bomb, most of us jumped to conclusions, we were hurt, confused, etc…with 2nd bomb we got some kind of immunity, less noise, etc…

    Does anyone here support full Turkish military intervention? (I strongly think that this may be the end game)

  11. Haytham Khoury

    Dear Aboud:

    It is very excellent post.
    Tomorrow is the meeting of the Arab League Committee to discuss the monitors report. We will see how condemning to the regime will be. We will see the reaction of the Syrian government.
    لا أعرف لماذا كل هذا التشاؤم؟

  12. Husam,

    Turkey will not intervene militarily, unless under the umbrella of an international and/or Arab force. Turkish opposition parties are on the record attacking the AKP and its policies re Syria (an opposition party leader just visited junior and gave him his blessing and support). The Turkish generals, though greatly de-fanged, are unhappy with the treatment they are getting from the AKP and Erdogan and will not go along with a unilateral or even a majority Turkish invasion of Syria. Moreover, I don’t think it is in Syria’s interest to have such an invasion happen either, even if it helps us to get rid of the Assadist Mafia and Associates. I am one who is not totally convinced that Turkey is doing what it’s doing for the promotion of democracy and human rights.

    On the other hand, it is rather fortuitous that Iskanderon is under Turkish rule now; otherwise we would have had an extra 10% of the population siding with the dictator and his henchmen. I know, I know, many are going to jump on this and label it a sectarian comment, but it is a fact that a great percentage of people in that stolen corner of Syrian territory are openly pro-Assad and have conspired with Mukhabarat elements against refugees sheltering there.

  13. ليش مسباتو بالعربي؟
    وبلافرنجي… شو حباب
    As usual SH, your poems are full of wit. I share your dismay at the lowly depths to which the language and arguments descend on SC but don’t forget that some anti Asmaa (that’s Assadist Mafia and Associates, btw) folks engage in name calling of sorts: NF (aka ??) posted the video of a shapely woman dancing in a pro Asmaa rally and labeled her a sharmouta. I’d rather she was demonized for dancing while people were being murdered indiscriminately, for being a supporter of a murdering gang of thugs and robbers, for being a mercenary cheerleader of a fascist sectarian regime, all are accurate labels and to the point; whether she is a whore/slut we cannot ascertain.


    Off course, had these ruffians been a little smarter, they would have used your excellent argument, which is in line and consistent with what I wrote, and to expect to be left alone on a public blog while one goes acrobatic with filthy mouth is delusional. But for someone to say (avoid me) and (I can be super nice or super nasty) is a sign of intellectual bullying. It signifies the mentality of dictators. And in that, two or three characters on SC take the prize. None of them belongs to the Anti Asmaa.

  15. This video was aired yesterday by Al-Alam tv, it shows the Midan explosion from a nearby security cam

    and dear Hamster

    As always your comments and poems soothe away my rage after reading some of the comments/filth on SC, thank you.

  16. OTW, you were more than correct about the surprising wrongheadedness of American left-wing journals. This article was posted on (Alexander Cockburn’s) CounterPunch on Friday:


    (Can you imagine a similar source writing like this about the opposition to Mubarak or BenAli ?)

  17. Dear umm nuwâs
    Thanks for the link, I read the article, the writer works for an Iran-HA sponsored think tank and is based in Beirut. What a shame. It was simply a rehash of regime propaganda. It brings down the quality of counterpunch.

  18. Aboud,

    Thanks for a great post. Always nice to hear about the positive side of things. I really envy not being with you guys, tanjara in hand!

  19. Despite the best efforts of the regime to mislead, intimidate and isolate the observers, their report still came down on the regime pretty hard. I was actually expecting the report to be sugar coated a bit to keep the team in Syria.

    In fact, the only consolation Besho can take from the whole thing is the final declaration’s reference to armed elements inside Syria. No sh*t Sherlocks. They are called defectors from the army, and they wouldn’t have been necessary if someone had found a way to stop the regime from murdering its own people. 6000 deaths, tens of thousands of prisoners and refugees.

    Now the league is looking to increase the effectiveness of the team i.e get more of them into the country. I hope there ends up being thousands and thousands of them, one on every street corner.

    Also interesting was Hamad’s statement that the Security Council isn’t waiting on the AL to refer the issue to it. That’s diplomatic talk for “when, as I’m sure will happen, the SC passes a resolution against the regime, don’t go whining to us.” What’s needed now is pressure on the Russians to drop their support for the regime. Besho is in a very tenuous position; his most important diplomatic asset is completely out of his control.

  20. MGB,

    Re: Turkish Military Intervention

    But of course it won’t be unilaterally… I feel that this what the Syrians (and Arabs) would accept down the road when things get worse (they will). It will satisfy that those that will call any involvement of S.A / Gulf as Sunni inspired and satisfy those who are against full NATO intervention (European / American). It will come as a deep “humanitarian” buffer zone but essentially serve as a launch pad to oust the regime. Jordan may create a buffer with Daraa from the south and Damascus starts to get choked. That is how I see it unfolding under a AL (or perhaps UN) support. I just don’t see how Lebanon / Iraq roles play it out.

    The Turkish opposition you mentioned further complicates the situation if they play into Assadist’s hand. The regime has lost its lustre, but it still has alliances which complicates a hot situation.

    1. Do you think Iran must fall before Syria Baath falls?
    2. Russian recent docking of its aircraft carrier in Tartous, is that just a show of solidarity or is Russia willing to get pulled into this mess?

  21. Husam

    “Russian recent docking of its aircraft carrier in Tartous, is that just a show of solidarity or is Russia willing to get pulled into this mess”

    The visit was planned two years ago. Canceling it would have indicated a massive diplomatic break between the regime and Russia.

    Speaking of which, if I was Putin I’d keep an eye on my boats while they were in Tartous, lest Besho stage a bombing and then bitch about Salafi underwater commandos. I wish to God he’d do something so stupid.

  22. Zenobia and others:

    This why people are sitting on the fence. Although it is an RT interview, it has credibility on the Arab street as history has shown that the Arabs have been exploited by the west and their own….and continue to be so.

    This has nothing to do with legitimacy of the Baath, the shooting and torturing of citizens, etc… it has to do with taking a true popular uprising and changing/influencing the dynamics to further various interest.

    BTW,don’t shoot the messenger.


  23. .البطريرك غريغوريوس لحام:

    “لا أتعجب أن تكون الثورات في العالم العربي ذي الغالبية الإسلامية لها طابع إسلامي، لا يمكن أن يكون العكس: 350 مليون مسلم ونحو 15 مليون مسيحي… طبيعي أن نشهد ثورات بلون إسلامي، وهذا امر لا يزعجني بل يسعدني لأن معناه وجود توجه فكري ثوري تحرري”

  24. …flash news

    N.Z. defected and left SC due to new highs of insults and l barbaric anguage; Tara threatened to leave too.

    Why do I still read SC? Because I still like to read Revlon and others and view their video posting. I also like to read what the pro-regime are saying, if anything new.

    This brings me to my next point. I see a parallel between the last wo/man standing holding the fort on SC vs. the actual situation in Syria. Once the revolutionists give up trying to reason with pro-betho crowd, I think you can say we entered a new phrase.

    7ee6an is on one side, looking itself into the mirror while SC will be the other side looking itself in the mirror reflecting the Assad familly. Is this future of civil society in Syria?

  25. “7ee6an is on one side, looking itself into the mirror while SC will be the other side looking itself in the mirror reflecting the Assad familly. Is this future of civil society in Syria?”

    No. Difference between SC and 7ee6an is that menhebakis choose not to come here, and OTW would safeguard their right to expressing their opinions and ban anyone who acted the way they act on SC. The kind of behavior that’s acceptable on SC wouldn’t be acceptable here nor anywhere else.

  26. OTW,

    Thank you for the last post. This what I have been saying and trying to get across for the longest time.

    Islam is not the enemy, rather it is the extreme interpretation. Islam is not the enemy, it is the shieks and the mullahs telling you how to breathe. Islam is not the enemy, it is the media’s sensationally pushing popular misconceptions into the sheeple.

    Minorities including Christians alike have nothing to fear and can live in peace as they have done so for generations. My view is that the more Muslim start to understand Islam better, the more tolerant they become.

  27. OTW, thanks for the Patriarch Gregory’s remarks

    Here is an excellent “unpacking” by Ignace Leverrier of the “suicide bombings”
    (en français) —


  28. Dear Amal
    Welcome to 7ee6an, if I may say with fanfare. I was busy for few hours today and did not check queue and I apologize that your comment above, was delayed. I am sure you know the drill. Only the first comment gets moderated.

    Having dispensed with our very simple initiation ritual, and as for every 7ee6ani, 7ee6an is yours. And Amal, Aleppo is awakening, so far without 6anajer, can you imagine it with 6anajer..

  29. I apologize for cutting & pasting this article on the now-exiled Syrian opposition (Alaouite!) writer Samar Yazbek, but as it is “for subscribers only” the link doesn’t work otherwise.

    Samar Yazbek : la Syrie au défi de la peur

    LE MONDE CULTURE ET IDEES | 07.01.12 | 16h52 • Mis à jour le 07.01.12 |

    Le 26 décembre 2011, la Syrie a connu sa journée la plus meurtrière depuis la mi-mars. Cent morts civils, selon l’Observatoire syrien des droits de l’homme. Le 29, malgré la présence dans le pays d’observateurs de la Ligue arabe, les forces de sécurité ont lancé des bombes à clous sur la foule rassemblée place de la Grande-Mosquée, à Douma. Le 31 décembre, plusieurs centaines de milliers de personnes ont pris à nouveau la rue dans tout le pays. Il y a eu plusieurs dizaines de morts. Il faut voir, sur les films amateurs d’Internet, les manifestants crier et bondir ensemble face aux soldats. Il faut lire les témoignages de leur bravoure sur les blogs. A quel moment le courage l’emporte-t-il sur la peur ?

    L’écrivaine syrienne Samar Yazbek est réfugiée en France. Auteure de quatre romans, scénariste primée par l’Unicef, elle appartient à la communauté alaouite, celle du président Bachar Al-Assad (une branche dissidente de l’islam chiite qui réunit 12 % de la population syrienne). En février 2011, elle rejoint les manifestations de Damas, alors que les snipers tirent pour tuer. Elle publie alors un court texte qui fait le tour des blogs : “En attendant ma mort”. Elle décrit ce moment où le risque de mourir devient une habitude : “La mort est partout ! Au village ! A la ville ! Au bord de la mer ! Les assassins s’emparent des humains et des lieux (…). Je n’ai plus peur, non parce que je suis téméraire – étant de nature très fragile -, mais par habitude. Je n’ai plus peur de la mort, je l’attends sereinement avec ma cigarette et mon café. Je crois que je peux regarder dans les yeux un franc-tireur sur la terrasse voisine. Je le regarde fixement. Je sors dans la rue et je scrute les terrasses des immeubles. J’avance posément.”

    En mars, Samar Yazbek est arrêtée et interrogée cinq fois de suite par les moukhabarat, les services secrets. Ils veulent qu’elle se désolidarise des opposants. Pour la briser, ils l’emmènent dans une prison où ils torturent les manifestants. Elle en fera le récit sur les blogs syriens, le texte sera publié dans plusieurs journaux européens : “J’ai vu des jeunes hommes, qui avaient à peine la vingtaine, leurs corps dénudés, reconnaissables sous leur sang, suspendus par leurs mains à des menottes en acier, leurs orteils touchant difficilement le sol (…). A ce moment, un des jeunes releva péniblement la tête. Il n’avait plus de visage ; ses yeux étaient scellés, je n’ai pas vu l’éclat de son regard. Le nez n’existait plus, ni les lèvres. Son visage était une miniature rouge, sans lignes, un rouge imbriqué dans le noir d’un rouge vieilli. Je suis alors tombée à terre. Pour quelques instants, j’ai chaviré dans quelque chose d’opaque, de flottant, avant de reprendre pied sur la terre ferme (…). C’est la notion de Dieu qui disparaît, car si Dieu existait, il n’aurait pas permis que sa créature soit ainsi refaite, distordue, défigurée.”

    Samar Yazbek est relâchée “après quelques baffes”. Elle n’a pas cédé. Le régime hésite à torturer ou à tuer une intellectuelle alaouite connue, il veut laisser croire que la communauté est soudée derrière Bachar Al-Assad. Dans les semaines qui suivent, les moukhabarat la menacent de mort. La calomnient. Des tracts distribués dans son village natal l’accusent d’être une “traîtresse”. Profitant d’un répit dans la surveillance, elle s’enfuit à Paris avec sa fille. Depuis, elle n’a cessé de dénoncer le pouvoir syrien.

    Nous avons retrouvé Samar Yazbek dans un café parisien. C’est une belle femme de 40 ans, le regard clair, le visage creusé, la voix basse et grave. Craint-elle pour sa famille restée à Damas ? Pas de commentaire. Elle entend se présenter comme une Syrienne qui a pris le risque de s’engager, comme tant d’autres. Elle préfère parler de la peur et du courage des opposants. “Tout Syrien a grandi dans la peur. Elle pèse sans cesse sur nous, nous la connaissons bien. Pourtant, malgré la peur, les manifestations ont démarré. Quand la répression est devenue beaucoup plus violente et sauvage, cela a changé notre rapport à la peur. Cela l’a précisé.” Que veut-elle dire ? “Avant les manifestations, j’avais si peur que je ne me reconnaissais plus. Je tremblais. Pourtant, ma volonté de rejoindre les autres était inébranlable. J’étais déchirée. Tous les manifestants éprouvent ce déchirement où la peur le dispute au courage. Et puis le courage l’emporte, même si la peur est toujours là, si humaine…” Même quand on sait qu’on risque d’être mutilé, torturé ? “Il existe comme un plafond de la peur. D’abord, il nous écrase. Quand on apprend l’horreur de la répression, la peur décuple. Ensuite, les manifestants ont compris que, s’ils s’arrêtaient maintenant, le pire les attendait. Le régime se vengerait d’eux. Ils ne pouvaient plus revenir en arrière, comme en Tunisie, en Egypte. Alors le plafond de la peur s’est relevé.”

    Le 10 octobre 2011, plusieurs organisations de dissidents et d’étudiants syriens se retrouvent à une soirée de solidarité, “La Syrie… vers la liberté”, au Théâtre de l’Odéon. Ce soir-là, pour la première fois, le ministre des affaires étrangères, Alain Juppé, serre la main de Burhan Ghalioun, le porte-parole du Comité national syrien, le principal regroupement de l’opposition. Les socialistes Lionel Jospin, Catherine Tasca, Bertrand Delanoë, et le communiste Jack Ralite se sont déplacés. Dans les coursives, les Syriens ne lâchent pas leur téléphone. Un étudiant apprend qu’un ami palestinien a été arrêté à Damas ; une cinéaste, que les services secrets ont assassiné un opposant à Beyrouth. Elle dit : “La Syrie n’a pas beaucoup de pétrole. Alors le prix des morts a moins de valeur pour l’Occident. Ils laissent faire…” Selon les Nations unies, la répression a fait 5 000 morts, dont 300 enfants, entre mi-mars et mi-décembre 2011. S’y ajoutent plus de 14 000 arrestations et 12 400 réfugiés, des exécutions sommaires, des disparitions forcées, des tortures, parfois avec des violences sexuelles.

    Samar Yazbek est à l’Odéon avec sa fille de 16 ans. Certains trouvent qu’elle a eu beaucoup de chance d’échapper aux services secrets. Elle le sait. Sur scène, elle fait lire des témoignages de Syriens arrêtés qu’elle a recueillis. Un fils emprisonné écrit à son père : “Badigeonne notre porte avec mon sang. Crie : Je ne transigerai pas ! Mon sang n’est pas gratuit, mon père. Ne cède pas.” Ensuite, elle montre la grande photo d’un jeune homme, pour dire en arabe : “”N’entamez aucun dialogue avec votre bourreau. Ne désespérez pas, même si le monde entier vous tourne le dos.” Voilà ce qu’écrivait Ghiat Matar, dont le cadavre mutilé fut rendu à sa mère le 10 septembre. Il avait 26 ans. J’ai souhaité sa présence ce soir pour que vous puissiez le regarder (…). Ghiat et son histoire résument l’histoire des jeunes dans la révolution syrienne. Il a été un des premiers à lancer l’appel pour offrir une rose et de l’eau aux soldats. Il n’appartenait à aucun parti, il était pacifiste. Les services secrets ont rendu son corps avec une grande blessure à travers le ventre.” Puis elle appelle à une minute de silence pour les jeunes martyrs de la révolution syrienne.

    En Syrie, Samar Yazbek a publié un roman, La Boue (2005, non traduit), où elle dresse le portrait de deux officiers proches d’Hafez Al-Assad, qui instaura la dictature du parti Baas. L’un approuve le coup d’Etat de 1970, le second non. Les deux hommes sont alaouites, partagent des valeurs religieuses, pourtant ils s’affrontent. “J’ai essayé de décrire comment le régime a détruit toute relation humaine, toute valeur, explique-t-elle, et comment l’arrivisme, l’opportunisme l’emporte chez les uns, pas chez tous.” Dans un autre roman, Le Parfum de la cannelle (2008, non traduit), elle raconte l’histoire de deux femmes. L’une vit dans le luxe à Damas, exploitant l’autre, sa domestique, très pauvre. “Je décris le monde secret des femmes syriennes. Je montre comment les riches maltraitent les pauvres, les dominent. Sexuellement aussi.”

    Dans un texte récent sur la révolution, Samar Yazbek écrit : “On dit qu’écrire un roman nécessite beaucoup d’imagination, et moi je dis qu’il a d’abord besoin de réel, ensuite de réel, et enfin de réel.” L’expérience de la peur a-t-elle changé son écriture ? “Ce que j’ai vécu en Syrie dépasse l’imagination. C’est mille fois plus terrible que l’imagination. Cela me confirme que, pour écrire, la réalité est plus forte.” Justement, elle écrit avant les manifestations que l’amour et la mort lui semblent les deux faces d’une même pièce. Qu’en pense-t-elle maintenant ? “La mort pour moi était abstraite. Une idée. Pendant ces mois, j’ai approché la mort, j’ai senti son odeur, je l’ai vue. Aujourd’hui, pour moi, l’amour et la mort constituent deux mondes à part. La mort n’a rapport avec rien, et surtout pas avec l’amour.” Dans son témoignage sur la torture, elle dit qu’il n’y a pas de mots pour exprimer ce qu’elle a vu. Pas de mots ? “Quand tu te sens impuissant devant la mort, tu te sens responsable, comme si tu avais participé à cette mort. D’où vient ce sentiment d’impuissance ? Les mots n’arrivent pas à exprimer ce qu’on est en train de vivre…”

    Samar Yazbek n’a pourtant pas renoncé à écrire sur ces moments. Elle a tenu un journal, à sortir en mars. Elle en a lu des extraits à l’Odéon : “L’écriture m’a toujours aidée dans les moments difficiles de ma vie. Parce que je suis écrivaine, je pouvais me sentir plus libre avec moi-même et avec les fils enchevêtrés de ma vie. Je les nouais et dénouais comme les ficelles des marionnettes, à la seule différence que, cette fois-ci, je suis le jeu, les ficelles et la grande main mystérieuse qui les manipule. Je suis devenue le roman le plus authentique que je pourrais écrire.”
    Frédéric Joignot

  30. أهلاً وسهلاً يا أمل العزيزة

    delighted in multiple languages to hear from you!

    Not the only one here to say that your Jadaliyya articles are splendid.

  31. some guy in damascus

    my french is very limited.
    all i learned in paris is “tu es une grande chat”

  32. Dear Amal,
    I am assuming that you are the Amal Hanano from Jadaliyya. I am a die hard fan of yours. Your style, wit and sense of purpose is unmatched in my view. I have read your articles a few times each. You leave clues about your identity in each one of them and I think you and I know each other. Well, Halab, as big as it is, is a rather small town. We all know each other on some level.
    For years I have been contemplating writing a book about Syria. Maybe after Syria is liberated and things quiet down, you and I can talk seriously about collaborating on this. It would be my honor if this is something that would interest you.
    You are a talented and gifted writer. Thank you for sharing your talent with all of us.

  33. Dear Sheila and umm nuwâs
    Fully agree with both of you about Amal. I have followed her articles and I do concur with both of you.

    In the meantime, below is a rare incident where I have no objection to children participating in the revolution. Hope you all like it. It is from Hama.

  34. re: comment @ 6:20 pm

    I KNOW what the argument is. I have heard the argument 10 zillion times now, here, and all over Facebook – on the lips of everybody’s fence sitting relative and half of the Syrian population!
    The reason that American leftist outlets like Counterpunch are publishing this as well – is because THEY TOO are predisposed to frame things through a suspicious anti-imperialist anti-“american hegemony” narrative and premise, so naturally they are going to be open to presenting the conspiracy argument or some more rational version of it that is not all hogwash certainly, but neglects the contradicting factors.

    So, we have a problem. The problem is what is the counter argument!!!!!!!

    If our ‘conspiracists’ believe that the entire uprising is one big ‘plot’ and made up of traitors and thieves and radical islamist insurgents or people purely doing what they are doing because they were manipulated or paid by western agents, …. well this is such a reductionistic and hopeless framing of the situation that no- counter narrative is going to sway this mindset or going to puncture it. It is so far to the paranoid- that there is no hope there that a new compromise understanding can be reached or that such person will be persuaded that supporting the Assad regime is equally dangerous and degraded a choice.
    However, if – in contrast, the true fence sitters can acknowledge that indeed there is formidable legitimate uprising – of a large number of Syrian citizens- who have nothing to do with the imperialist designs of Western powers or their allies- but whose actions are legitimately a reflection of internal political desires and aspirations, – then even if one simultaneously believes that there are treacherous external forces at work and a regional struggle attempting to co-opt the Syrian revolution – there will be SOME ROOM for debate here about what is the correct ethical course to take – and room for debate and deliberation out of a strong counterargument that reflects this complex reality and the competing concerns, while having the potential to persuade said fence sitters that the LESSER EVIL IS IN FACT to side with the legitimate uprising and to take on the risks of potential western influence and attempts to manipulate the outcome to strategic advantage.

    The precise argument has not been made yet. However the point is that A FORCEFUL COUNTERARGUMENT MUST BE MADE that makes concessions to this powerful narrative and set of fears of average Syrian and many inside and outside the middle east.
    Personally, I am not discounting the basic storyline – put forth in the link you provided or in the “Counterpunch” piece. How can one ignore it? But the problem I have is in the all or nothing framework within which it is presented, as if the people of Hama, Deraa, Homs, and all the other smaller outlying cities and towns of Syria, or parts of Damas, are SIMPLY – at worst pawns of Al-Qaeda like agents and at best total dupes and zealots out for blood… , as if they have ZERO legitimacy…, as if someone- entire towns … what? had some undetected infiltrators come give a lecture? and then the people decided to revolt???
    I mean seriously… has anyone actually DESCRIBED how this supposed scenario would work in concrete terms other than… ‘the Americans and Israel and KSA and Saad Hariri ‘ are “behind” this? What does it actually entail to be “behind” or to have manipulated entire fairly insular and isolated communities to do the bidding of outsiders?…. the notion is so entirely far fetched when discussed in concrete terms to account for everything that has happened.

    Reality MUST be far in between. And I think- from my informal observance of so many dialogues and interchanges over many months, that MOST – Syrians, ascribe reality to this in between…. They BOTH believe the narrative of Western attempts at world domination or regional domination (led by America and Israel)… but they also do not discount the Syrian uprising as a complete fabrication…. they are aware of legitimate challenge to the Syrian government that has an ethical basis and they are not defending the behavior of the security response or the president in unqualified terms.
    However, they DO NOT KNOW HOW TO RESOLVE THEIR DILEMMA of holding both these truths and knowing what to do – and what to think- therefore.
    That is why they are fence sitters… (in addition to all the other complicating disincentives for supporting a revolution that Sheila has outlined many times and which are also significant factors but which I am putting aside her for the moment just to focus on the issue the ‘conspiracy’ issue as a pivotal problem)

    I personally have spent weeks and weeks without knowing how to properly answer it.

    ETHICS seemed at first the correct answer. That is to say -that no matter what the outer external threats are- we cannot stand by and watch a government respond by shooting its people, detaining, torturing, and subjugating communities with tanks and military threat of death or actual death.
    This seemed obvious to many. (As I recall – it was the answer – very simply that Husam gave for his choice of where to place his alliance despite his moderate belief in the conspiracy scenario of what is happening)
    However, and ETHICAL argument doesn’t work on large swaths of the public because they are both desensitized to violence (I assume here) and also because they have simultaneously been persuasively told that the deaths and violence they have been seeing or informed about are 1) exaggerated and/or not happening 2) are justified in the cases where they are happening because the supposed “protesters” are not in fact protesters but are actually “criminals” and violent insurgents and infiltrators.
    So, apparently, and Ethical argument fails because these cognitive denials and justifications provided by the government – negate the need for a fence sitter to consider an ethical stance necessary to be taken – as a response to the problem.

    The dilemma seems to be resolved for most – by a decision process regarding what they fear most – (again putting aside deliberately for the moment the other weighing factors like personal economic pain and anguish over the disillusion going on in society, daily hardships anticipated, and unclear future alternatives and so forth) – that is to say…. fear of American hegemony and Israeli power, verses fear of the pathetic life that would continue under the Assads and the perpetuation of the current internal power system.
    Additionally, I think the average person is NOT considering the question of what has IRAN, CHINA, And RUSSIA done lately for Syria????
    And it is bizarre that the narrative has been hammered for so many years and years that the biggest and most important achievement and source of pride in this age is to stubbornly sacrifice every other political need to the alter of “resistance” to Israel (a resistance strategy that barely works at all – one should add)- that it still takes precedent over every other concern. The abhorrence for Israeli power is so entirely consuming, mythologized, the threat again – fetishized- to the point where nothing else can be seen or considered. And as such, this fear and obsession – with American power or Israeli power viewed as part and parcel- can only be understood as having been deeply imprinted with the sting of humiliation and injured pride, anger, resentment, fused now with bigotry for many.
    How else does one explain choosing IRAN as an ally???!!! Really? What do the minorities of Syria care about IRANIAN power?? or the non- minority fence sitters? No, this is a marriage of convenience – not love.
    What in contrast is so dangerous about American power other than its support for Israel??? in the minds of Syrians… (remember, as a mind bending fact, that it is the NON-Religious zealots – the secular supporters of Syria…who are supposedly most appalled at the notion of American influence taking hold in Syria)….?? Our values? Half their family are emigrated to non- middle eastern countries. Our economic exploitation?
    That last would be a great Irony considering the economic sinkhole that Syria is now in- and from which Iran and Russia certainly – and even! China cannot pull her out.
    Alas, the issue comes back to the issue of Israel and wounded pride and humiliation.

    This pitiful fact has to be recognized. It has to be addressed not by slamming on the Syrian defenses but by an irresistible argument for how CHANGE- including a change in strategic alliances CAN WORK IN FAVOR OF RESTORING SYRIAN PRIDE AND STRENGTH IN REAL TERMS.

    RESISTANCE in the conventional way it has been waged on the Syrian stage has been pathetic and self-sabotaging. It has been self -destructive. It has not saved the Palestinians (if that were even truly the goal) nor restored Arab pride in any form. It has led to isolation, and economic decline, and toleration of a sick and ineffective form of government that has now sunk very very low in terms of its treatment of its citizenry.
    RESISTANCE has been the biggest manipulation of all – in some sense for achieving very very little for the people of Syria. It has to be reclaimed and redefined. In fact, abandoned in favor of a VIABLE ALTERNATIVE.
    A COUNTERARGUMENT must contain that alternative… for both restoring Syrian hope and pride as well as making obsolete and benign the influence of larger powers who are NOT in fact the biggest threat to society and survival.

  35. Dear 7ee6anis
    Zenobia’s comment is going into a main post.

  36. Dear Zenobia,
    As always, you have so effectively articulated what so many of us have been thinking for a while. Yes, it is this dilemma of knowing for a fact that the people are genuinely angry with the regime and at the same time understanding that outside forces are at play. To me it all boils down to a cost-benefit analysis: is the effect of outside interference in Syria’s affairs going to be worse than the conditions we are in under the rule of this regime? The answer to this question is dictating the positions people take for or against the regime. Most of us here believe that there is nothing worse than this regime. We see the country moving backwards, the people oppressed and the economy in shambles. Not so, say the fence sitters. To them, as we have pointed out many times, the country is in great shape.
    I completely agree with you regarding the alliances of Syria. I have questioned many times the alliances with Iran and Russia. The problem is that the US can, using many different methods, twist the figurative arms of nations. Since our regime has to “obey” the US in political matters anyway, why can’t the country benefit in all other matters by declaring the US an ally? Why do we have Russian “experts” and not American? This is the decision that Egypt and Jordan made long time ago. They realized that they can not beat the US and Israel militarily, so they decided to befriend them and advance their countries and societies. We see this in Jordan to a great extent. It is in a different league from Syria whether educationally, organizationally or economically.
    The “resistance” issue is a very interesting one. With all these years of empty talk and humiliation after humiliation. From “Nakba” to “Naksa” to total defeat, turns out the most effective way for “resistance” is having babies (and it can be an enjoyable activity to boot). This is how the Palestinians are going to “defeat” Israel as it remains a Democracy. In fact, this is the only thing that Israel is scared of. This is the only drive behind its policies in the West Bank and Gaza. This is the only reason why they do not want these areas to be part of Israel anymore. So, I say, let’s abolish all Arab armies, work on improving our countries, educating our people, creating successes in our economies and encourage the Palestinians to have more babies.

  37. Dear Sheila
    Can you kindly cut and past your comment into the new post. It is Zenobia’s comment. I thought it is very important.

  38. Dear OTW,
    I fully agree. Zenobia’s comment belongs there.

  39. Sorry OTW. I do not quite understand what you mean by this:

    “Dear Sheila
    Can you kindly cut and past your comment into the new post. It is Zenobia’s comment. I thought it is very important.”

    Please explain what you want me to do.

    BTY, I do agree that Zenobia’s post is outstanding.

  40. HI Sheila
    Please copy the text from your comment responding to Zenobia, and enter it in a new comment in under the new post as if it is a new comment. and submit it under the new post. It should get the discussion going in that post.

  41. OK. Will do, however, I think it would be better off burried here. I was just throwing out some thoughts.

  42. No sheila, you shouldn’t bury it; i like your follow comments very much.

    except maybe…. babies as a strategy….. sigh*…. this deserves a response…for sure…: )

  43. Zenobia,

    I think the fence sitters are becoming a minority. The people who think that the revolution is a ‘total conspiracy’ are Assadis and sympathizers (a few million at the most). The middle street have already made up their mind. Every higher profile defector has said that his/her well being and family was what stopped them from jumping ship earlier. As for the counter argument, a possible solution is Islamic representation and allowing the MB to become an equal partner. In the meantime, a military intervention is the only viable option. Soon, Zenobia, very soon Syrians will say let Amereeka rabe us, enough is enough.

  44. Well, obviously, I wrote what I wrote because I fear that you are wrong about the ‘middle street’…-although I am not certain who you are referring to here… but my “fence sitter” does believe there is a legitimate uprising, but privileges their other concerns over supporting it.
    And – actually – those who I see vocalizing the kind of thinking I am talking about…are not per se “islamist’ or MB types in a particularly large numbers. As OTW said- these people are often as secular or educated as anyone else (in relative terms)…but their worldview is very very entrenched in such a way as to cause them to make the assessment (cost benefit analysis) conclusion that Sheila described as well.

    No military option is going to address this fear and mistrust problem. Not even a (unlikely in my mind at this moment) successful military intervention, …. imagine that. It will remain after the fact and likely lead to incredible animosity and continued internal political conflict. That would be my concern.

  45. Folks, please take the discussion to the next post.

  46. yes sir :)

  47. Sheila said:

    “Why do we have Russian “experts” and not American?”

    You are underestimating the Russians & Chinese Sheila. I am not the first to tell you that America has lost its lustre. South American and Asia are becoming the new emerging markets, and they will overtake Europe and the U.S. Experts other than Americans will emerge.

    “So, I say, let’s abolish all Arab armies, work on improving our countries, educating our people, creating successes in our economies and encourage the Palestinians to have more babies.”

    Are you kidding me. Sheila, this is the most absurd statement I have heard on 7ee6an to date. While I gathered that you are an American patriot, I did not know how far in bed you are with the devil. What a defeatist stance! Abolish all Arab armies? Really. I see your angle, we are all manipulated, we can’t possibly stand up to Israel, we can’t protect our borders, we can’t don’t squat shit. And your Palestinian statement is borderline racist. The Palestinians are some of the most intelligent people, and will do more than just have babies. The Jordanians, Egyptians, and every other state sold out the Palestinians (yes, they got money for it). Why don’t you call for the Arabs to revive and rid of all their dictators, their shieks and their monarchies rather than hire-america? Do you want us to be slaves forever?

    Let the Americans bring in their democracy, super size me culture and education to all corners of the world and let us all live happily ever after. Sheila, I think you know better that this idea you are throwing fits really well with totalitarian one-world government the neo cons have been pushing.

    I can tell you if this is your idea of a New Syria, then I will be the first one to vote it down.

  48. Straw Man…..
    misinterpretation of what she said.

  49. Dear Shiela:

    As an American who still is in touched with her folks back in Aleppo, you of all people should not peddle the fear KSA brand of Islam. Your statement “I will not set foot in Syria” if the MB were to rule as in KSA is sending the wrong message and creating unnecessary fear.

    Whipping people to pray, etc… is only done in one country and in essence to my understanding is contrary to what Allah (SWT) says. Syria enjoys a diverse array of religions, with each one ranging from liberals to conservatives.

    What I am saying is please don’t sensationalise and bridge KSA’s way of life to Syria.

    And if you are wondering why the Sunnis in KSA are helping the MB, it is because they fear Iran and looking to protect their own grip on the throne. If KSA cared so much about the Sunni bretheren, there are millions in desperate need other than Syria or MB.

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