Category Archives: Regime
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.
No Words from Off the Wall. (But rights reserved to shred the idiot at later time)
ABC’s Barbara Walters: Mr. President, you have invited us to Damascus and you have not given an interview to the American media since this crisis began. What is it you want us to know?
Syrian President Bashar al-Assad: I would like to reiterate what I used to say after 11th of September, to every American delegation I met, first of all I think the American people, people should know more about what’s happening beyond the ocean, second the American media I would like them to tell only the truth about what’s happening in the world, and for the American administration. Don’t look for puppets in the world.
Walters: Don’t look for puppets?
Assad: Only deal with administration that, on people that can tell you know about the truth, because what’s happening in the world now is taking the world toward chaos, what we need now is we need to deal with the reality. So the message now is about the reality. Read the rest of this entry
Request from OFF THE WALL
This just came out. It is the draft (project) for the Political program of the Syrian National Council (SNC). I will not comment on it now, and will leave that to the comments’ section and may be for a future post. But it is more than critical and urgent that all of us take a look and participate in discussing the various points. I try my best to convey your comments will to the SNC, and I am sure that Haytham will do so well
In a recent article in the Canadian Globe and Mail, titled ‘Untouchable’ Assad ruled by duty to family, Patrick Martin, the Middle East correspondent takes a shot at trying to analyze the Syrian president, whom he terms as “contradictory man” , who “speaks the lines of Western liberalism but plays the part of ruthless dictator.“. Quoting former Jordanian PM Marwan Al-Muashar, the correspondent writes:
Marwan Muasher, Jordan’s former foreign minister, wrote that he always found Mr. al-Assad more reasonable in private. His “habit of pontificating in public was abandoned in private settings,” he said. “He listened to opposing arguments … with a desire to understand other points of view.”
In my own opinion, the article is nothing more than the recycling of the standard-form western narration of the Assads’ family story, with the primary goal of overemphasizing the sectarian aspects of Syrian society we are accustomed to in western press articles about Syria. I read twice, and in both times i felt that Mr. Martin simply had to submit something, and he opted for the narration of only a minor aspect of the on-going struggle in Syria. In fact, I believe that our own Haytham Khoury’s “Immaturity as an origin of evil: Bashar al-Assad as a case study” analysis of Bashar Al-Assad has much more value to add in the attempt to understand the person even though Haytham does not delve too deeply into the family loyalty issue.
The Syrian society is a complex society, the pressure of despotism, the Baath party, and the layers of security arrangements over the past half a century have added tremendously to that complexity. Yet, at the core of the on-going revolt stand the simple absolute axiomatic issues of Right, Good, and Justice. Syrians’ quest for these principles, which have gone missing under the Assads, manifests itself in very subtle manner. Those failing to understand this concept always revert to the sectarian conditioning, which hides the much deeper meaning. Read the rest of this entry
The current Syria-related events and developments represent no disorder or spontaneous meaningless actions. A careful, detail searching eye can easily notice a pre-made orchestrated solfège being composed by many singers (i.e., stakeholders), the US starts with “Fa” to receive “Re” from the EU while Turkey amplifies with “Sol” and AL resonate with “Mi”. Contrary to the regime’s reactionist behavior, most of these lately rolled-out developments are pre-planned and systematically driven by many hidden and obvious interested parties, and indisputably a multi-phases strategy combined with an exponential applied-pressure plan is currently in place in order to reach multiple goals of ousting the current Syrian regime and reshuffling power-balance in the region. I’m happy to refer to this ongoing strategy as PLCPO.
Poking (achieved) → Lobbying (achieved) → Cornering (achieved) → Pressuring (In progress) → Ousting (Yet to come) Read the rest of this entry
I’m sorry about my limited contributions, I was busy with my mid-terms. Here is my post:
The first part of my post will discuss my latest trip to Damascus, and the second part is a response to a question asked by Dr. Haytham Khoury about developing sectarianism and radicalism we are witnessing( most of all on syria comment). I also believe this part will be relevant to OTW’s most recent post on his blog.
My last visit to Damascus only lasted for 2 days (20th and 21st of October). Just a few days prior to my arrival the regime “successfully” held a massive demonstration in the capital’s saba’a bahrat square( which hosts the nation’s central bank) . Transportation, advanced recording, food, drink, entertainment and most important of all SECURITY is provided to the pro-government demonstrators. The appropriate setting is given. A friend of mine who works for one of Rami Makhlouf’s multiple enterprises told me that he was forced to go, despite having a pro-revolution stance on the whole situation. Employees are threatened with dismissals from their jobs if they do not participate. Although the highly esteemed Robert Fisk was a witness to these one of these demonstrations ( the one held on the 26th in the Omayad square), his story that they are purely authentic is far from reality. The regime has done its homework and knows how to conceal its foul play. Read the rest of this entry
My head is spinning like a washing machine, too many thoughts and more of the YouTube videos are playing, continuously, before my eyes. What’s that? What’s going on? I feel like I’m trapped in this room, a windowless stinky room, I can’t even find my way out!! Anyone can hear me? Hold on a second, there’s some crying voices, hey you there, can you hear me? No response, just more crying. I’m here somewhere, don’t know where but it’s familiar and reminds me of something, not sure what’s that something. Not sure what brought me in here, not sure. Do you know?
Oh there’s a kid, he’s smiling at me a beautiful angelic smile. I feel like I know him, I’m pretty sure I do. Yes, he’s the hero Hamza Al-Katib, the 13 year old kid who was tortured to death by his own Syrian people. Not any torture and not any death. His murderers callously practiced all the tricks of the extinct Eastern Europe torturing school, a school which we thought was gone for good but clearly it’s still in use; its’ methods have been kept and fed in the basements of ugly sick people who were waiting for a moment to unleash their mental and psychosomatic weapons on this undercover vandal who was hiding inside the body of 13 year old angel. They absurdly believe that they managed to make the world safer by starting with two bullets through his arms, cutting organs while he was alive, and smashing his baby face bones before giving him salvation with a third bullet through his chest. He’s still smiling and waving, oh no wait, he’s vanishing, don’t go I’d like to talk to you, I’d like to learn how to become a man from you just don’t go .. he’s gone. Read the rest of this entry
Yesterday, and as the Secretary General of the Arab League was meeting with Syria’s chief tormentor, regime thugs visited the Matar family in Damascus Suburb with the body of their twenty six (26) year old son Ghiath. Along with the body, it was reported; the thugs handed the family their son’s larynx telling them, amidst their cries to make shawarma out of it.
I am a grown man, and I don’t believe that men should not cry, for I do cry, sometimes even in sad or romantic movie. But since yesterday, my tears are bitter. And as I write these words, heavy rain falls where I live, and while I wonder if nature is crying for the brave youths of Syria, my tears race with the drops of rain and Ghiath’s beautiful smile seemingly wanting to re-assure me, I hear a voice I never heard before … “common old man, don’t cry….. I am but one of thousands and you will be free”.
Ghiath was a leader in the Syrian youth peaceful movement. He was among those who demonstrated unparalleled creativity in non-violent resistance as he and his friends tried to greet those charged with suppressing them with flowers and bottles of water in the heat of Syrian summer. He was waiting for his first daughter when the hyenas kidnapped him after luring him with a trap turning his generosity and chivalry against him as he answered an apparent SOS call from a friend. Within three days of his arrest, this strong young man was dead because of torture inflicted by the Assad mafia hyenas. Read the rest of this entry
By Friday, August 21, 2009, two years and 10 days ago, I had been blogging on Syria Comment for more than a year during which I typified the secular, progressive, leftist, “resistance” supporter. I was, and still am, a pro Palestinian, anti-neo-con blogger, but in fact, many of my posts where either in support of peace as seen from the resistance camp point of view, or, being fiercely secular, repetitive haggling with those whose opposition to the resistance camp had a slight hint of sectarianism, true or perceived. I was willing to overlook, against my better judgment, the fact that Syria still lived under a dictatorship, and had decided, despite of my personal disgust at the way Bashar Al-Asad inherited Syria from his father; to accept the notion that with Bush’s armies around the corner in Iraq and Israel attacking Lebanon and Gaza, to side with the so-called resistance camp, and by that, continue to tolerate the excesses of the Syrian regime, with the hope that what Syria Comment most influential poster, Alex, has been saying publicly and privately is true and that his confidence that reforms were just around the corner and it was only the series of attacks on Syria, and the neocons’ devilish plans that were the only reasons for their halt, and for the regression against those who early on presented the Damascus Declaration after the assassination of Rafiq Hariri of Lebanon.
Worst yet, and out of desire for stability, a rejection for the neocons vision, and to a lesser extent, perhaps a desire that my middle and upper middle class family in Syria continue to enjoy some of the scraps of modernity after years of Baathist deprivation, I became a reliable doubter of any potential involvement of the Syrian regime in the assassination of Hariri, perhaps out of the naive conviction that Hezbollah, the only resistance group that managed to really resist, was that this mythical good, always correct, hero. Needless to say, striving for just peaceful settlement of conflict, yearning for economic prosperity for my place of birth, made me a dependable advocate of the Syrian regime’s foreign policy. Speaking of realism and critical thinking….. Read the rest of this entry