Category Archives: Arab Spring
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.
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.
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.
I was told in argument on SC that it is no longer pleasurable to read my posts. As if I care,… this is not a competition for the most pleasant piece of literature. It is a battle forced on Syrians by a regime being defended, hyped, and constantly propped up by a bunch of people with primitive fears trying to hide innate sectarianism, believe of entitlement, and a maddening cocktail of inferiority-insecurity-superiority complexes.
How dare those trying to play both sides claim that the people of Syria want to burn their country? None of the revolutionaries, the FSA, or even Jihadists who may have entered the line here and there is flying Migs aircraft, driving tanks, and positioning mid-range artillery guns to prepare areas for the hordes of Assad barbarians by bombarding Syria’s cities one after another. It is the criminal regime, empowered by the cowardice of the shifty “against the regime but not with the revolution”, by the subhuman ethics of its defenders, by a primitive fear-based cult, and a group of anti-something fools, who never managed to join the 21st century and still reach orgasm imagining yet one more totalitarian system’s victory against forces of progress and civility. Zakraria Tamer is right, it is a regime empowered by Ignorance, arrogance, audacity, pettiness, stupidity and foolishness. It is the Assad hyenas who keep saying Assad or we burn the country, and have been burning the country, and some people have the audacity to blame those whose homes and cities are being burned, those whose families are being murdered, and those whose brothers and sisters are being killed under torture for the catastrophe befalling the country, so that these cowards can feel superior to the masses and rest comfortable with a malformed conscious grown out of their elitism.
Anyone who points the finger at the citizen who takes up arm to defend his neighborhood from the hyena packs instead of pointing the finger at the head hyena is a participant in the murder, an enabler of the sub-human regime, and is a part of the problem.
The most common theme in the writing of this class of cowards is their disingenuous declaration of sadness for the people of the country being massacred because “some people” want the toppling of the regime at all costs. Now it is us who are being rigid, and not the bastards of Damascus and their packs of hyenas hell-bent on burning the country and their enablers in Syria and elsewhere who propagate false stories, perform intellectual prostitution through shady articles accusing everyone of being on the pay of someone, whilst they refuse to declare the names of their financial and academic backers. So let us look at some of the fatal logical flaws in their set of arguments. Take the above argument, for example. It is mostly directed at SNC. Here are some of the statements
SNC is causing the mayhem by tricking people into fighting the regime for their own political agenda (aiming to deny the people on the street the legitimacy of free will to fight back… they are tricked)….
SNC is incompetent, it has no legitimacy, nor the backing of Syrians, its members are greedy,…. And so on. .
Does anyone see the contradiction of the two statements, most of the time present within a single regime-propagandist (or indirect apologist) paragraph. I will not try to pontificate like the foolish assad, so you pick it yourself.
However, there is an important undertone of the first statement, not only as an attempt to deny the popular character of the revolution, but also as a disgusting cowardly attempt to normalize the regime’s criminal violence, by implicitly accepting such non-human violence as the only possible, expected, must live with response. This also takes a more sinister form by blaming Qatar, KSA, Israel, US, and others for the follies of the stupid Syrians, who brought on themselves the wrath of this regime, rather deservingly because they have collaborated, directly or indirectly with the west. How deceitful and sinister. These are the same people who instead of accusing the Assad hyena gangs of burning the country, look at those striving for dignity and freedom and blame them for destroying the country. Sadly, these same bunch of ethically and morally challenged characters would drive themselves and others into fits of indignation if anyone suggested that hizbullah had any responsibility in instigating the murderous Israeli campaign against Lebanon or Gaza. I believe that they are somehow angry that Israel was successful in neutralizing Hizbullah and Hamas, at least militarily after a significantly shorter period of murderous bombardment and with less damage and lives lost than the damage their regime has wrought and lives lost to protect their cult master, while on the other hand, their beloved fool still can’t do the same in Syria. It is also the same people who are now advertising the regime as the best protection Israel has against the “islamist” monster, but fail to reconcile with their own rhetoric, when cornered by the persistent, no prisoner taken style of someone like AIG. I refused Israel’s defenders logic then, and I refuse Assad’s apologists logic now.
What they miss, really miss, is that toppling this regime is no longer a political quest, it is now a human and civilization necessity. And Syrians are paying the price to join civilization and civility again. There is no question in my mind that when speaking of regime apologists, cover and overt, their humanity did not fail them, the failed and continue to fail humanity with every word they utter.
I happen to believe that the demise of the Syrian Regime and its bosom body in Iran would be the first condition for stability in this region. Sustainable peace will come after stability…. Any fool knows that. And if these liars try to accuse me of being an Israel friendly, all I have to do is to remind them that in their narrow sectarian mindset, it was them who tried to sell the regime to Israel as its guarantor starting with Rami Makhlouf and not ending with the characters on SC.
I am not bitter, … I am repulsed and disgusted.
Who are SNC:
I also encounter so much hype from both sides about SNC members and how they spend their time in five stars hotels. For many members of SNC, especially the younger, ground active members, this could not be further from the truth. A few have lost their jobs because of the demand of their work. Others barely have enough to survive and they are living in far worst conditions than those using the broadest of brushes to paint SNC in bad picture. As a political organization, SNC’s record is mixed, with more negative than positive. But please do not belittle the sacrifices of many of its members, who could have continued t o live comfortable lives, with reasonably paying professional jobs, but chose otherwise for the sake of Free Syria.
On Asef, Ikhtiar, and the rest of the Gang
I Don’t believe in hell and heaven, so my word is Good riddance.
On the West
Unlike the regime, who is has surrendered Syrian Sovereignty to Iran and Russia at the pleasure of a few Russian agents pretending to be journalists, researches, and commentators, the revolution is beholden to no one. We will bring down the regime, punish those who ordered and committed atrocities and crimes against humanity (even if they defect from this point on), and build a new Syria. Syrians may not have many friends willing to fight on their behalf, but they will have plenty of friend as they embark on rebuilding their country. Mark my words. We just have to think in long terms and recognize that it is not easy to deprogram an adult elephant of its thin rope. It may take the next generation for freely roaming elephants.
Someone Else’s FB Rambling
I leave you with a FB status written a while a go by one of my friends, It is written in Arabic and it is far more concise than my writing above.
القتل فرضه النظام وليس المجلس الوطني أو الجيش السوري الحر رغم مساويء كل منهما
توصيف وضع المعارضه الان واتهام أطرافها الرئيسة بالسعي نحو السلطه وبأنها شهود زور على حرق البلد وبان من وقف مع الثورة من المثقفين يريد التغيير فقط للتغيير يخدم دعاية النظام وشبيحته الذين يتهمون الثورة بأنها وراء خراب البلد محاولين التغطيه على الشعار المقيت “الاسد أو نحرق البلد” …
كفاكم تباكيا واستخفافا بعقولنا ولو كان ذلك عن حسن نيه … لاتريدون الانضمام الى الثورة لخوفكم من الطاغية .. أنتم أحرار.. ولكن لا تلعبوا دور الغربان في وقت حرج كهذا … نحن لا نحتاج تعففكم عن الدماء … فأنتم طاهرون ومثاليون … أما نحن الرعاع فقد فرض علينا الدم …
لا يا سادتي … لستم انسانيون أكثر منا .. ولستم حضاريون أكثر
تذكروا أن من فرض الدم هو النظام الذي لازلتم تتخوفون من فوضى زواله …
Murder and death were forced by the regime and not by the SNC or the FSA despite of their deficiencies. Over-analyzing the state of the opposition, and accusing its various components of running after power and of being false witnesses to the burning of the country and accusing intellectuals who side with the revolution of being after change for mere change only serves the regime’s propaganda and its thugs who are accusing the revolution of being behind the destruction of the country in their attempt to cover for the contemptible slogan “Assad or we Burn the Country” .
Stop decrying and stop your disregard and insult on our intelligence, even if you mean well. If you don’t want to join the revolution for fear of the tyrant, then don’t, you are Free. But don’t become craws at a critical time like this. We don’t need your prudery of blood for you are the pure idealists. As for us, the mob, blood was forced upon us.
No sirs, you are not more humane than us, nor are you more civilized. And remember, blood was forced on us by the regime, whose demise you are so afraid of .
I have not posted over the past four weeks. In the meantime, the Assad’s army entered Homs, and then Idlib. As FSA withdrew from both cities, massacres have taken place in both cities aiming to flame sectarian tension. Car bombs have returned to the scene, just as Kofi Annan is expected to send a team of experts as happens with the Arab Observers. However, the recent car bombs have targeted areas with Christian majorities including today’s explosion in Aleppo’s Sleimanyeh quarter. This is consistent with warnings signs that came out last week regarding the regime’s intent to wrap up its perceived victory by increasingly forcing Syria’s Christians to take a sectarian side and with previous shady explosions during the Arab observers’ mission.
Here are a few comments on specific issues.
Batta (Duck), a befitting address by a “modern” wife and by an admiring young woman to a man whose army assisted by vile militia gangs is terrorizing and murdering Syrians ever since some of these Syrians declared that they have had enough of his family’s totalitarian control over their lives and are no longer willing to take it.
Oddly enough, absent (to-date) from the leaked emails are indications of Assad engaging senior government officials, business partners, religious figures, or even well known social climbers’ in his boy-king narrow circle. What we notice is the critical role of two intern-level women (Shehrazad Gaafari and Hadeel Al-Ali) along with the notorious Luna Al-Shible in proposing and carrying out media campaigns and in passing information and summaries to the boy-king who is occupying his busy time with state affairs in parallel with trivia such as downloading teens songs from I-tune and playing harry potter games among other life occupations.
The men in the emails are different. They are security oriented. One passes advises (or commands) from key Iranian and HA contacts, still through the interns. Another (Khaled Al-Ahmad) seems to be the personal envoy-spook of the boy-king traveling throughout the country’s hot-spots and making observations and recommendations, as well as major decision and plans on how to put the uprising, while connecting, when possible, with regime-friendly Lebanese tycoons. The father in law remains heavily engaged as well, putting to rest claims of his family’s distance from the murderous regime and placing himself at risk of being the first member of the regime to be successfully tried in the west for abetting and aiding crimes against humanity. He may be followed by his daughter, who may now be tried in the UK for violating sanctions, independent of what trivial, yet expensive items she seems obsessed with purchasing.
What comes out drives a dagger at the heart of the loyalists and regime-made opposition claims that they oppose the revolution because it threatens to destroy the institutions of the state. It also obliterates the loyalists frantic efforts to retain the fraudulent image of a “normal” president and state. Clearly, when a young, albeit seasoned diplomat such as Jihad Maqdisi has to rely on intern level advisors to pass his opinions to the head of state, one must wonder the extent at which the Assads believe in these institutions. Similarly, when journalists such as Nir Rosen and Barbara Walters have to make their contacts through these same inexperienced, and quite shallow interns, in order to receive audience with the boy king, one would question the respect the head of the regime has for his ministers and for the state. Needless to say, pro-freedom thinkers and intellectuals have argued from day one that under the Assads, there are no institutions or state, as all are simply overshadowed by a cancerous criminal-security apparatus and mafia family.
Some curious people will get busy trying to decipher the interpersonal relationships of the boy-king now sarcastically known as Batta in attempts to demonstrate the increasingly isolated family. However, the presence of these intern-senior-advisers and their impacts on the actions taken by the regime can not and should not be trivialized by sarcasm. Information provided to the boy-king by these people were acted upon and may have resulted in deaths, including those of journalists in Homs. Curiously, one of these adoring interns focused on an issue that we have discussed here on 7ee6an regarding the boy-king’s separation from reality, which was evident during his meeting with some youth. Ms. Hadeel Ali, sent a copy of the narrator’s facebook page, in hope that the regime’s security will track down the real names of those who commented negatively about her “cute” president. If anything, the action taken after the intern’s advise indicate that the boy-king is in control and has directed actions either by transferring the information to his henchmen, or by directly ordering actions based on recommendations reflecting flawed judgement. These intern-senior advisers are not merely providing media advise, but far more sinister advises. Furthermore, and even if the emails do not reveal direct orders from the boy-king to his high ranking officers and henchmen, the compartmentalization of connections only illustrates his lack of trust in the state and its institutions not to mention his derogative description of his own fraudulent reform laws. It is no wonder that regime apologists on Syria Comment are now blasting Joshua Landis for publishing the little he did of these emails. The little that was published of the leaked emails exposes their own moral degeneration and worries that the boy-king is stripping one more piece of his clothes every day.
In the aftermath of the continuing leaks, Nir Rosen is now in a hot seat. On at least two occasions, he was described by both the intern and the in law as being “helpful” to the regime. Although it is more than possible that in both cases, the two “inner-circle” members have interpreted any critique of the opposition as favorable to the regime, and thus bestowed the “helpful” title on Rosen, critiques of Rosen seem to focus on the implication that he may have divulged information that was used to help the regime’s aggression against Homs. Rosen himself has written an post protesting his innocence. I will now from opinion on his response and would leave it to the readers to decide.
It has been a year since the spark of the Syrian Popular Revolution. Regime propagandists are now arguing that the battle lines are now drawn in the regime’s favor. Many have argued that this is due to the militarization of the revolution, which has given the regime the upper hand since it possesses the stronger force and the resources of the state behind it. The regime has relied on a strategy of isolating towns one after another and as seen from emails Khaled Al-Ahmad emails, it seems that the strategy and policy has been approved by Assad himself. However, it is fitting to remind those blaming FSA or other armed groups that the regime had already murdered more than 4000 Syrians before any bullet was fired in return. It is also noteworthy that the regime continues to murder protesters in areas where FSA has not made any challenge or presence as is the case in Raqqa during the past three days.
Problems continue to plague the SNC, but the question is how relevant is the SNC nowadays with most of the world powers having decided to remain silent, and several GCC countries having decided to provide weapons support to armed groups directly and not through SNC? Any attempt to analyze the situation results in more questions than yielding answers
Dialogue seeking opposition was dealt two blows recently. The first was in Kofi Annan’s indicating his deep disappointment with the regime’s responses to his proposals. The second was in the regime’s attack on an the opposition rally organized by the NCB the moment the demonstrators uttered the first demand for the regime’s fall.
The seemingly stronger position of the regime is as deceptive as the strong position of the armed opposition during the first two weeks of the attack on Homs. While regime forces continue to raid villages and cities and to bombard neighborhoods in Homs and other towns, the revolution continues to spread geographically. Raqqa, the city chosen by Assad for special praise and a festival prayers is now in full scale revolt as the cycle witnessed in every city gets repeated. Demonstration leads to murders, then more murders during funerals and even mass massacres. News of a fist fight between the city mayor and the head of the local Baath party surface yesterday. In addition, an increasing number of Aleppo neighborhoods is now restive, along with continuing flash points throughout the country. The north-to-north east front is now connected through Raqqa and the number of villages and towns to subdue is far beyond the regime’s capacity, especially as Daraa seems to get back in action. Subduing Homs and Idlib seems to have been temporary as indicated by the regime’s shelling of Homsi neighborhood earlier today.
While the NCB demonstration, which attracted few hundreds only, exposed the anemic support NCB enjoys on the streets of Syria, it also shows that a great deal of activities are now largely internal. To illustrate the point, no one in the SNC that I know of has predicted Raqqa’s joining in such large number. Yet, the successful mobilization in the city is indicative of a significant level of planning and organizing that has been undergoing for a while. Similar situation now exists in Aleppo, and while SNC and other external opposition forces seem dismayed at Aleppo, people in contact with internal opposition seem more optimistic about Aleppo as well as about Damascus, albeit requesting patience so that the groundwork for major demonstrations in the two cities is well prepared. A friend of mine, who was recently in Aleppo and has participated in one demonstration and witnessed another described the situation as following,
The people of Aleppo are liberated, it is only now a matter of liberating the streets.
Describing the demonstration he witnessed in one of neighborhoods in Allepo, my friend said:
It was beyond strange. The demonstrators, numbering in a couple of thousands were besieged by security forces and shabee7a. There was a stalemate for few minutes, until the shabee7a decided to descend on the demonstrators. It was only then when an eerie silence prevailed for a few seconds, only to be broken by the sound of automatic locks on main gates of the neighborhoods buildings clicking opened one after another, click … click … click…. And so on in a rapid succession. Within a minute or two, the street was almost empty, and the shabee7a were confronting locked gates. Those who did not manage to get into the buildings snuck into side streets. Shabee7a found few people and beat them to pulp before getting them on the busses, which had to leave with far less than their capacity.
It was only few months ago when the same sounds of building gates would be signaling the residents locking their doors in the face of demonstrators and leaving these young people to their fate at the hands of the vicious, murdering regime shaاbee7a.
The events of Homs and Idlib had two effects. On the one hand, they satisfied regime proponents, who have asked the regime to hit hard and with no mercy. But at the same time, they have alienated many others on the silent side and forced them to reassess their image of the regime. As a result, those pre-disposed to fearing regime’s brutality have sunk deeper into their fears and started talking incoherently about a revolution that will destroy the country. As a result, they now project their fear of the regime against the revolution and parrot regime’s propaganda about terrorists. Another response has been for many to realize that this regime is not only brutal, but also careless and hell bent on survival even if they have to shred the country into bits and pieces. This was amplified by the recognition that regime supporters were behind the sectarian massacres in Homs and reinforced by the disgusting attempts of the regime propagandists to blame the revolutionary forces for this massacre.
Internally, there is now a balance in existence. The regime can’t end the revolution or turn the clock back to pre March 15, 2011. The revolution is also incapable of removing the regime or its key figures. But time is against the regime for the following reason:
1. Continuing economic collapse, the regime will not be able to provide relief, turn on the electrical power or recover anytime soon.
2. Even if the regime establishes precarious military presence in cities, such presence has not led to improving the situation for the residents, to the contrary it has amplified the suffering of most residents including those who have not yet returned to their homes, which have been looted by a combination of Shabbee7a, army thugs, and common criminals after the FSA forces left the area.
3. The streets are increasingly ambivalent to the external opposition. This has a positive effect in the sense that it deprives the regime of its primary propaganda weapon against the revolution (an externally funded and made chaos). With many becoming vocal against the political leadership of the opposition, including the MB’s leadership and attempts to control the SNC, new political forces and coalitions are emerging inside without the distraction of having to follow one or another current. A new more pragmatic leadership is emerging within local coordination committees, and even those affiliated with some “semi-oppositional” groups are becoming more active in LCCs. The popular nature of the revolution is becoming more obvious and the string of pathetic antagonistic remarks and name calling of SNC members from regime propagandists now look more irrelevant and sophomoric than ever.
In conclusion, there are reasons for worry. And chief among these reasons is possibility of heightening sectarian tension. Yet, there are more reasons to be optimistic, including some of those I have listed above.
On Jan, 5, 2011, Subhi Hadidi, a journalist termed by many in the opposition, including myself, as a moral compass for being fiercely independent in his criticism of the Syrian regime, published an article in the London based Pan Arab newspaper Alquds Alarabi about the cornerstone of the Syrian regime and its evolution during the past 10 month. The article’s introduction describes the intent of Adanan Alsukhbi, the regime’s governor of the Raqqa governorate of Syria to uproot the 15 years old olive trees planted on the private farm of activist lawyer Abduallah Al-Khalil after Assad’s militias destruction of the the lawyer’s house. One of two trees mentioned in the Quran (fig and olive), and a universal symbol of peace, olive trees are both mystical and semi-sacred. And uprooting olive trees, next to home demolition, has been a constant presence in Arab memory ever since it has been practiced by Israeli settlers and IDF soldiers be it as collective and individual punishment of Palestinians, pre-confiscation action, or part of the controversial and illegal price-tag policy exacted by extremist settlers against both the Palestinians and Israeli security forces.
It was an epic irony that, in his forth speech since the uprising started, and while the issue of uprooting olive trees in Raqqa, being fresh, and with Bashar Al-Assad being dubbed by many Syrians as having presided over the killing of more Syrians than double the number of Lebanese and Palestinians killed through the two most recent actions of Israel’s forces, and right after berating “certain” Arab countries and the Arab League as betrayers of Arabism (Urooba), chose, with pride, Syria’s rank as the fifth country in producing olives and olive-oil as one of the fundamental strengths of Syria that he hoped will get Syria through the isolation his regime has put the country through. It goes without saying that farmers and refugees from Jabal Alzzaweyah and Idlib region, have also described Assad’s forces scorched earth policy of uprooting and burning ancient olive trees in this region, which is responsible for a majority of Syria’s high quality olives and olive oil. Needless to say, Syrians have been talking loudly about the fact that the number of victims of the Assads’ forty one year reign of terror already exceeds the numbers of Syrians who lost their lives in the multiple wars with the enemy the regime is supposed to protect Syria from. Read the rest of this entry
I tend to agree with Maysaloon (the boy who cried wolf) , Robin Yassin Qassab (Now the Bombs) , and few others who were very rational in withholding judgement about who was behind the recent explosions in Damascus. I find both posts to be well thought and encourage reading them both. Many have also posted and wrote about the possibility that it was the Syrian regime, using arguments that the names of the victims have not been announced (i have seen some names on FB discussions), the hurrid way of pinning the crime on Al-Qaida, the timing and the whole atmosphere of celebration of death accompanying the regime’s “see, this vindicates us” unethical use of the dead. Notable, off course is the absence of the “it is not my army” head of the regime in the whole thing.
While I withhold judgement, I share with some 7ee6anis the notion that it is naive to exclude the possibility of an orchestrated act by the Syrian regime. It was very interesting to see that both SHEILA and I had similar responses to Joshua Landis’s article (Suicide Bombing Changes Nature of the Syrian Revolution). SHEILA writes
Dear Dr. Landis,
You said: ”I was asked by journalists today what I thought about the notion that the Syrian government planned the car bombs to provide a pretext for their increasingly violent crackdown on the opposition. It reminds me of the notion that Washington was behind the World Trade Center bombing to provide a pretext for invading Iraq. I don’t give either much credibility”.
I am a little shocked at this statement. Comparing the 9/11 conspiracy theory to the bombings in Syria is not something that an “expert” in Syria would do. The 9/11 conspiracy is very far fetched. For the US government to plan an attack on the scale of 9/11 and keep it as a secret is very near to impossible. The way the US government works makes it so. However, the way the Syrian regime works make it very plausible for it to do such things and never be exposed. The Syrian regime works and thinks like a Mafia. A group of criminals that are capable of doing anything. The regime today is under immense pressure, do you really put something like this beyond them? I am not saying it is a certainty that the regime did it, but not to give any credibility to such a claim is naïve at best. (no disrespect intended).
On 7ee6an, i wrote
I really did not want to chime in on the explosions story. But i think that my dear friend Joshua has it wrong. To begin with the US politics, despite of all the deal making remains deliberative politics and the system works with a pile of checks and balances that would eliminate any chance of a conspiracy such as the one required for Sept 11 to be a US government made disaster.
On the other hand, the Syrian thuggish regime is a conspiratorial regime by its nature. Any one who watches the official media and its dirty sisters will recognize the cheep and stupid conspiratorial nature of this regime. The regime, being so, also views and perpetuates a conspiracy explanation of event. Equating the two is a nativity i had not expected from Joshua. I think that rationality has limits, and those limits are not dictated by how rational the person analyzing the events but by the irrationality of those making the events.
Yet, a pathetic attempt to pin the explosion of the Muslim Brothers of Syria, and by extension on the entire Syria National Council was made, exposed, and is now in tatter along, perhaps, with the sanity of a young man who worked for the regime’s propaganda.
Mr. Email K. Nasrallah, the man accused of faking the fake Ikhwan wab-site was quick to purchase privacy service for his web sites after the exposure of his relationship t the fake site (Ikhwan-sy.com) which was reported on 7ee6an first by hazrid, and then by Syrian Hamster. All of his sites were taken off-line and the privacy shield was activated within a very short time after the story was found. Soon afterward, regime propagandists, one them is an SC commentator, tried to peddle a technically sounding story, which links the owner of the privacy name server providing the privacy service just activated by Mr. Emile K. Nasrallah as the culprit. Hamster confronted the new fake, made a mistake in numbering the relevant SC comment, corrected it, but provided no technical details except for his usual hit and run savage attacks on the SC hypocrites as once described by our dear friend WSS.
Meanwhile, a young IT specialist, who is not connected in any way to the Ikhwan was working on the story, discovering one trace after the other and following Mr. Emile K. Nasrallah foray in the world of Syrian regime lies and deceptions. Below is the results of his work.
Why is this story extremely important. While I am no friend of MBs, but in the 1980s a series of events rocked Syria, these consisted of assassinations of Alawite intellectuals, a massacre in the military academy in Aleppo, and several explosions that resulted in many deaths and injuries. Some of these, especially the assassinations do have typical signature of the then active Ikhwan’s military wing, but some of the crucial events, such as a major explosion and the Azbakyya district of Damascus, paved the way for the regime of Hafez Assad to enact law 49, which punishes membership in Ikhawn with death, and has initiated much of the torture, executions, and very long jail terms of thousands of Syrians as described in the Novel Shell recently brought to the attention of 7ee6anis by Sheila. Many have argued that that particular explosion was in fact a Hafez’s regime false flag operation, but lacking investigative resources, and the fact that his regime continued in the regime of his criminal son, made it hard for anyone to identify truth from lies in the decades long regime’s propaganda against islamists in general, and more particularly, the Muslim Brotherhood of Syria. Then, a declaration of responsibility was issued, and most people, despite of the protestation of the Ikhwan’s leadership, believed it. Twafiq Hallaq, a well known TV anchor, who recently defected, alluded to the incident in a very sharp post on his own FB page.
Today, and 30+ years afterward, two explosions rock Damascus. Within minutes, the regime declares AlQaida as the perpetrator. This was stupid because while it may give the impression of lending credence to the regime’s story of militant groups operating in the country, the series of events leading to this accusation included a very recent lie, orchestrated with the help from the Lebanese defense minister (a HA guy) declaring that Al-Qaida has been active, moving between Lebanon and Syria in the rough terrain area of Ersal. The Syrian foreign ministry spokesman claimed that there was a formal warning from Lebanon regarding the plans of Al-Qaida to start operating in Syria, which was belied later by the Lebanese Foreign Minister. Immediately, regime propagandists had an explanation that it was Iran who has warned Lebanon, Syria, and Iraq of the upcoming wave of Al-Qaida massacres.
Notwithstanding the holes in the regime’s earlier story, it also had a fatal tactical mistake, and that was the implicit recognition that if Al-Qaida was moving into Syria, such move was inaugurated with the security buildings explosions, which fails to pin the numerous numbers of deaths that have occurred until now as being the results of militant groups and in linking the explosion to the current groups participating in the Syrian opposition . There was a need for immediate recovery and linkage to Syrian opposition. And there comes the alleged involvement of Mr. Emil K. Nasrallah.
Recently, a web site surfaced that claimed to represent Al-Ikhwan Almuslimoon of Syria (Muslim Brothers of Syria). The site (Ikhwan-sy.com) had made several claims that hinted to Ikhwan’s semi-control of the FSA and claimed Ikhwan’s responsibility for recent operations resulting in killing many soldiers and regime sympathizers. The language and tone of these declarations were modeled on printed pamphlets in the eighties, but a good examinations by experts points to inconsistencies and errors that are unlikely to be made by someone who reads Quran and Islamic texts as would someone in charge of Ikhwan’s media operations.
Lo and behold, the site described above was fast in claiming responsibility for the explosions. Off course the Ikhwan denied it, and the story told above unraveled to expose a fake site, fake media operation, and cheep lies of a murderous regime.
While a definite proof will require far more serious investigation before convicting young Mr. Nasrallah of being responsible for the Massacre, which is unlikely, but his role in the fake site is as tight as possible. All circumstantial evidence point to his role in creating the site. What is left is to discern whether he was doing it on his own initiative or by dictate from the propaganda team of the Assad regime. This will be left to those in Aleppo, but more importantly, the physical safety of this young man, whose father is an advisor to the regime’s grand mufti of (Hassoun) and a well recognized and respected figure in Aleppo, must be assured at all costs. Needless to say, no one is accusing Mr. Emil’s father of wrong doing in this matter and no one should.
A Word from OFF THE WALL
I have been having some exchanges with Syrian Hamster, we both have felt depressed over the past couple of days as we have been sharing our own facebook experiences and some reading material. He said that he already started to write some thing along these lines. So here it is:
Syrian Hamster Says
Every once in a while I write in a depressed mood. On such occasions, my ideas are less lucid, more random, and far less connected to reality and to each others than the disaster zone they normally are. Here is my hurricane for today, a volcano is in the making and the deluge is in your future. Read the rest of this entry
In 2006, and during the Israeli war on Lebanon, Bashar Al-Assad, claiming leadership of the Arab resistance camp, and using the popularity of Hizbullah’s struggle against Israel to burnish his own image, called Arab leaders “half-men”. Whether that was on the minds of the 18 foreign ministers who voted yes for the suspension of the participation of the Syrian delegation in all of the league’s activities and meetings remain to be found by those who write books of political intrigue and personalities. For now, it is clear that the Syrian regime thought that its policy makers are smarter than the “Bedouins” and has underestimated their resolve and intelligence.
The Chair of the meeting today, Qatar’s foreign minister outlined the decision in 7 points. Here they are in Arabic, then in English: Read the rest of this entry
أيها الشعب السوري العظيم
أحدثكم اليوم وقد أهل علينا عيد الأضحى المبارك وبلدنا ترزح تحت نير سلطة ظالمة، حولت البلد عبر عقود إلى مملكة وراثية، امتهنت فيها كرامتنا وانتهكت حقوقنا، وأهدرت حرياتنا، وحولتنا إلى أزلام في سجن كبير. ثم ثرتم أيها الأبطال، وقدمتم الغالي والرخيص فداءً للحرية المنشودة، فلا يكاد يخلو بيت من فقدان أب، أو اغتصاب بنت، أو اعتقال شاب، أو تعد على أطفال. لقد أثارت شجاعتكم وتصميمكم وقدرتكم على التضحية إعجاب العالم أجمع، وزعزعت أركان الطغيان. ولم تكونوا في هذه المحنة وحدكم، فقد ألفت تضحياتكم بين قلوب السوريين في شرق البلاد وغربها، ووحدت عزيمتكم إخوانكم في المهاجر من أقصى الأرض إلى أقصاها، وأظهرت الدفين من مواهب وطاقات وإبداعات كل السوريين