Saturday, July 28, 2012

"The presence of President Bashar al-Assad is currently the safety valve for the country"

Nabil Fayyad is a Syian intellectual who was mentioned on this blog before. He is a Syrian government opponent who lives in Syria. He was recently quoted on the 9:00 PM Nightly News of Syrian radio station Sham FM in their July 25, 2012 edition. His quotes were said to be in a television interview with  him on a channel that they did not specify. They played clips by him saying the following (translated  below verbatim):
"لدينا وثائق هائلة .. لدي وثائق هائلة حول تورط القاعدة في جرائم القتل في سورية .. القتل الطائفي .. من يقوم بالقتل الطائفي غير القاعدة .. يعني اسمح لي شويّ .. إنّه أسماء الكتائب التي تُطلق الآن في الجيش الحر .. كلّها أسماء طائفية سلفية منفّرة .. لماذا يريدون العودة بنا إلى البسطار السلفي المنفر القاتل الدموي .. أنا لا أفهم هذا الشيئ .. على كل حال، وجود الرئيس بشار الأسد حالياً هو صمام الأمان للبلد ولا أعتقد أن غالبية السوريين .. الغالبية الصامتة من السوريين تريد تنحي الرئيس بشار الأسد لأن وجوده هو صمام الأمان لانتقال البلد إلى بلد ديمقراطي حقيقي." 
"أنا أعرف قيادات الجيش وأعرف قيادات البلد جيداً .. لا يمكن للقيادات أن تستخدم السلاح الكيماوي وغير الكيماوي .. أي سلاح فتاك ضد شعبها. صدقني أنهم مجبرون الآن على خوض هذه المعارك .. لا أعتقد أن جيشاً في العالم يتمنى هذا الذي حصل للجيش السوري .. هم مجبرون تماماً على المسار الذي أُدخِلوا فيه. لا أعتقد أن الجيش السوري والقيادة السورية على استعداد لاستخدام القدر الأدنى من السلاح الكيمياوي ضد شعبها. صدقني المعارك إعلامية قبل أن تكون على الأرض. المعارك إعلامية. تعال إلى دمشق. الآن دمشق انقلبت ١٨٠ درجة ولم يعد هنالك أي شيئ مما سُمّي تحرير دمشق والعصابات المسلحة التي انتشرت في كل مكان. الدولة تستعيد سلطتها شيئاً فشيئاً."
"We have a huge amount of documentation .. I have a huge amount of documentation about the involvement of al-Qaeda in the killings in Syria .. sectarian killings .. who is committing sectarian killing other than Al Qaeda? .. I mean, please allow me .. the names of the brigades that are being used now in the Free [Syrian] Army .. all those names are sectarian, salafist and repulsive .. Why do they want to take us back to the repulsive bloody and murderous salafist domination .. I do not understand this thing .. In any case, the presence of President Bashar al-Assad is currently the safety valve for the country and I do not think that the majority of Syrians .. the silent majority of Syrians want President Bashar al-Assad to step down .. because his presence is a safety valve for the country's transition to a truly democratic country." 
"I know those in leadership positions in the army and in the country well .. those leaders can not use the chemical or non-chemical weapon .. any destructive weapon against their own people. Believe me, they are forced now to fight these battles .. I do not think that any army in the world wishes for itself what has happened to the Syrian Army .. They are totally forced to take the course they were made to take. I do not think that the Syrian Army and the Syrian leadership are willing to use the least amount of chemical weapons against their own people. Believe me, the battles are media battles more than being battles on the ground .. the battles are media battles .. Come to Damascus .. Damascus has now changed 180 degrees .. there is no longer anything of what was called the "Liberation of Damascus" and the armed gangs that have spread everywhere .. the state is regaining its authority little by little."

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

"Had you been Alawite, I would have slaughtered you"

In one of his posts on his facebook page, Syrian journalist and writer Bassam al-Kadi (who we mentioned on this blog before) wrote about a message he received from a Syrian regime opponent friend of his who is in Syria's northern region:

A letter from a regime opponent friend of mine in the northern region, written in my own words to ensure the confidentiality of his name: 
When one of my relatives was released after being detained by the "Free [Syrian] Army", he told us about what he saw by saying that the smell of slaughtered human bodies was everywhere in the place where they were being held. The voices of the terrified children and adult hostages is undescribable. They [i.e. the FSA rebels] themselves had a very filthy smell. 
In the same week, it happened that one of my relatives was forced to travel on a road that is frequently blocked by the terrorists. And as excepted, the "Free [Syrian] Army" stopped the bus she was on. There were two women on board who were unveiled [i.e. they did not have their head covered]. The terrorist asked them, "Are you Alawites?". "No!", they replied. And after he confirmed that they were not "Alawite", he said to them: You have just been born again. Had you been Alawite, I would have slaughtered you both.
Citing some people who have been through the experience of having their neighborhoods occupied by the terrorists militia, they've confirmed that the "Free [Syrian] Army" mercenaries break into homes after crashing the doors, kick families out of the homes and force them to flee, occupy the buildings that they're able to occupy and go out to the rooftops and balconies with sniper rifles. And this forced the Army to use helicopters to hunt the terrorists.

Friday, March 2, 2012

Syria's Permanent Representative to the UN answers the Saudis

Dr. Bashar al-Jaafari, Permanent Representative of Syria to the United Nations replied to the Representative of Saudi Arabia today in a session at the United Nations General Assembly. He delivered in his statement some strong words to the Saudis, who keep trying to meddle in the internal affairs of Syria, either through their very negative and hostile role (along with the Qataris) at the Arab League or in the United Nations. This is not to mention the aggressive misleading media campaign waged by media outlets financed by the Saudis (and the Qataris), or their backing of the idea to financially support and arm the rebels in Syria (if they're not covertly already doing so on the ground).

Here is a full translation into English of Dr. al-Jaafari's statement, in which he begins by addressing the Representative of Saudi Arabia. You can listen to the statement in Arabic in the embedded video above:

And I deem myself to be above using the same word to describe the brotherly Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. For this reason, I will not use the same phrase. I will leave it to him and to his conscience in the future, hoping that he will stop using this term, which is an inappropriate term in the diplomatic language, even when there is a disagreement. 
Secondly, the Representative of the Kingdom said that he calls, in the name of his country and in the name of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), to send joint United Nations and Arab forces for peacekeeping in Syria. It is as if there is no security in Syria, and it is as if there is no state in Syria, and it is as if I am here not representing a founding member state of this international organization. It is as if things are lost to the degree that they require forces from Saudi Arabia and GCC states to guarantee security in my country. 
We suggested in our previous statement, Mr. President, two weeks ago, for us all to adopt under supervision of the United Nation, a solid plan to spread democracy and to enhance and protect human rights in all states of the region including GCC states. This is because those who are talking about Syria with deep sadness, starting from their conviction that there's a tragedy in Syria and a civil war, those same people, are not a role model for anyone, in the context of spreading democracy and enhancing and protecting human rights. 
If it is like this, Mr. President, I also volunteer in the name of my country and many other member states to send [joint] United Nations, Arab and Islamic forces to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia to protect the oppressed Saudi inhabitants of the Qatif region. And this contribution is for free. We don't want it to be financed by anyone. And perhaps the other important issue for the Kingdom is for it to withdraw its forces from Bahrain, as they are the forces that violate legitimate popular demands of the brotherly people of Bahrain. 
I was hoping that this session will not turn into an Arab-Arab conversation, but some are working diligently to fall in that trap. I advice anyone here not to provoke us, because we have lots and lots of things we could say, and they are things that expose the core of some of the regimes, whether in Arab countries or elsewhere . 
It is shameful for an Arab to liken the limited armed rebellion in a small neighborhood in Homs called Baba Amr (and it's a neighborhood that's dear to the hearts of all of us in Syria), to liken that, to the Srebrenica, Rwanda, Kosovo and Gaza massacres. This is a shuffling that is not worthy of respect, when it is uttered by an Arab voice in this international organization. This benefits no one other than Israel and the enemies of the Arabs as a whole. 
My country, Mr. President, is officially called the Syrian Arab Republic. It is not called the Assadist Arab Republic. The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, however, is attributed to its rulers. The name of the country is linked to the name of the ruling family and that's why it's called the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. I hope not to be provoked more than this so I don't say more disparaging remarks. Thank you, Mr. President.  

Monday, October 10, 2011

The penetrated revolution -- By Firas Sawah

The following piece was written in Arabic by Firas Sawah فراس السّوّاح [AR], an independent Syrian scholar (from Homs, Syria) in the field of mythology, history of religion and biblical studies. It appeared [AR] on a Facebook page [AR] dedicated to him and his writings on September 17, 2011.

The penetrated revolution  
By Firas Sawah
In 1971 I went to the United States on a scholarship given to me by the International Organization, and I was then thirty years old. I arrived to the capital Washington, DC during the height of the youth revolution that has moved from Europe to America [, albeit] a bit late. It was a revolution that aspired to change the world at the time, and to undermine the political and economic structures of modern capitalism. Millions of young people who belong to families that are well-off had left their homes and their well being and started to roam around the country to demonstrate, sing and dance, not for the sake of any living needs they had, but in order to undermine the false American democracy and to be in the pursuit of justice in the world.  The beginning of their favorite song was: Power for the people. I marched with them and demonstrated against the Vietnam War. I attended their meetings and shared with them their evening sessions in front of their tents that they put up on the bank[s] of the Potomac River. I cannot forget that week during which demonstrators flocked to the capital from all over the country and surrounded the White House and the Capitol and other federal government institutions, and filled the city, which remained under their control for several days. 
Those scenes remained etched in my memory for a long time, and I wondered whether we were going to have a similar revolution in the Arab world. But the revolution was delayed and the memories and the hopes had faded, all until they were brought back again forty years later. That was when the movement of young intellectuals in Syria broke out. It was a movement that assured me that the vitality that defined the Syrian people throughout their history had not died out, but was more like a smoldering ember under the ash, and which was about to produce flames. I dreamt of a country-wide youth movement that would  re-create political opposition, starting from the street, and not from meetings of the educated political elites. But it soon became apparent to me that this movement (or revolution, as its people prefer to call it), and which snapped the first spark for the protests in the streets, demanding political and economic reform, this movement was born penetrated. This penetration came from several groups that followed the educated young people to the streets, working under the cover of their demands.
The first penetration was by Islamic fundamentalisms, which are known from their history not to have any tool in politics other than violence. And as violence inherently induces counter-violence, I appealed to the youth, in my first call to them on Facebook, to isolate themselves from this group. That's because the feet of both warring parties would crush and abort their noble movement. That was also because a misleading team from that group began to raise slogans inciting sectarian strife, which soon broke out in a number of neighborhoods and cities, and which turned into violent confrontations between the sons of the same country.
The second penetration came from a movement of protests with demands related to daily living needs.  Members of that movement did not care about a new law for elections or a new parties law, as much as they were interested in solving their economic problems. And since they belong to the least educated segments of society, they were easily amenable to the calls for violence that emanated from suspicious parties. So, they bore arms, and citizens of the nation faced each other in a war that has no winner. 
The third penetration was by the culture of revenge that is rooted in Arab psychology. In any confrontations between protesters and law enforcement forces, and during which adrenaline reaches its highest levels in the blood, there will be casualties on both sides. And those casualties increase with the excessive use of force by security forces.  This in turn leads to boiling in the street, with the only motive being revenge. The greater the number of casualties was on the civilian side the greater was the desire for revenge, and it became difficult to break that vicious cycle.
The fourth penetration came from a spontaneous movement by groups of teenagers who were thrown outside the educational system for a variety of reasons, and who were also thrown outside the weak labor market.  They found in the street movement a venue to vent their anger and their explosive energies of adolescence, and they organized themselves in gangs that threw rocks at security forces and assaulted public and private property.
The fifth penetration was by the so-called external opposition, whose representatives (whom you see on television screens) had left the homeland several decades ago, and have integrated in their new societies [abroad]. They acquired the nationalities [of the countries they settled in] and gave birth to children who grew up to become young adults who do not know Arabic and who feel embarrassed in front of their peers of their oriental [i.e. Middle Eastern] origins. And while I do not deny those expatriates the right to be concerned about issues in the motherland, or even the right to organize demonstrations that express their opinion abroad, I do reject their organized institutional work, that aims to steal the toil, the effort and the blood of the Syrian street, particularly since their opposition had grown up under the auspices of the Ottomans in Anatlya, and under the care of a Zionist forum in Paris, and the care of the State Department in Washington. And here they are finally asserting their identity and their belongingness by choosing Doha as a place for their meeting, before heading to the [Ottoman] Sublime Porte in Istanbul. The result was that this opposition gave birth to a mouse they called the Syrian National Council, whose goal, and which will be announced soon, won’t be anything but to seek foreign protection, or in other words: military intervention that aims to destroy the Syrian army on Israel's behalf. 
The sixth and the most dangerous of these penetrations came from that phantom party that issues names to label the Fridays [of protests in Syria]. I do not have sufficient information about this party to qualify me to describe it and to [further] characterize it. But I ask you: who gave the ninth day of September the name “the Friday to seek international protection”? If you do not know the answer, and you won't know, then it is time to reconsider, and to search for realistic solutions that would heal the bleeding wounds of the homeland and that would protect it from an impending disaster.
Reprinted from the: Baladna "magazine"

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Arab oil kings, human rights and imperialism

The following quote is from a front page editorial by al-Fadl Shallaq titled [AR] "The revolution will go on and the world will change" in the September 2nd, 2011 issue of the Arabic-language Lebanese daily newspaper As-Safir:

"تشك الجماهير العربية في النوايا الديموقراطية والغيرة على حقوق الإنسان عند دول نفطية لا تعرف للبشري قيمة إلا بمقدار ما يكون أداة او ضحية يقدمها أمراء وملوك النفط على مذبح التقديس للامبريالية." 
"The Arab masses doubt the democratic intentions and the fidelity to human rights in oil countries that know of no value for a human being other than the one determined by the extent that human being can be a tool or a victim sacrificed by the oil princes and sheikhs at the altar of imperialism." 

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Nabil Fayyad: The regime in Syria is very strong and has a broad popular base

Nabil Fayyad is a Syrian intellectual who is an outspoken critic of the Syrian regime. He happens to be [AR] an expert in comparative religion and biblical criticism and has many writings in those fields. He has been arrested and detained by the Syrian authorities in the past.  The following quote by him was tweeted [AR] into my Timeline today by Syria-based Twitter user @Atoraia. I asked him for the source and he kindly pointed me to it: a Nabil Fayyad Facebook fan page [AR].

"نبيل فيّاض : رغم موقفي السلبي للغاية من النظام لأسباب خاصة وعامة، إلا أن الحقيقة تقول إن النظام قوي جداً ولم يستطع الخارج ولا الداخل إلى اليوم إخراجه عن مواقفه المعتادة. هذه القوة لا تتأتى من فراغ. النظام له قاعدة شعبية عريضة تدعمه في الداخل والخارج سواء عن قناعة أو عن انتهازية. وتجاهل هذا الأمر في المجلس الانتقالي أول إشارة إلى أن المعارضة لا تعرف حتى الآن المعنى الحقيقي للديمقراطية..."
"Nabil Fayyad: Despite my very negative position from the regime for private and public reasons, but the truth is that the regime is very strong, and neither the outside nor the inside were able to make it change its usual stances. This strength does not come from a vacuum. The regime has a broad popular base that supports it at home and abroad, whether out of conviction or opportunism. And ignoring this issue in the Transitional Council is the first indication that the opposition does not know until now the true meaning of democracy..."

Sunday, July 31, 2011

What is going on in Hama?

Makeshift roadblock on a Hama street (Screen captures from a YouTube video, July 5, 2011)

Bassam al-Kadi is a Syrian journalist and writer. He is also Supervisor of the Syrian Women Observatory. He is in Syria and has been critical of both the regime and the opposition since the current events started in March of 2011. He wrote an article in Arabic today on his website with the title: "Realities of what's happening in Hama .. Will we be liberated from thugs of the regime and thugs of the opposition?!". In this article he is again critical of both the regime and the opposition, and he paints in it a picture of the situation in Hama before today's events. This is a picture you will not hear about in most mainstream Arab or Western media. Here is a translation to English of an excerpt from al-Kadi's article:

Hama has suffered during the past three weeks (at least) from lawlessness and near-complete absence of the entire state and its organs, and from control by groups of armed teenagers and criminals [-], who really erected roadblacks and expropriated the city. Each criminal of them became the king of his own dunghill, where he could stop anyone to ask to see their ID card, with all the open possibilities that such a behavior entails ..
Leaders in the government even have become under house arrest in one way or another because of not being able to wander in the city, and some of them were not even able to leave their home to go to work!
A lot of employees who live outside city limits were advised against (and sometimes prevented from) trying to access their work in the city.
Criminals fought in the streets with each other because of differences, some of which were quite frivulous, while others were related to schemes aimed to paralyze the city by imposing a strike on every shop and every business.
Gunmen armed with pistols, rifles and even (medium) machine guns wandered on foot or on motorcycles and spread panic everywhere in the city, which has been abandoned by much of its people. The vast majority of them left, not because they were afraid that tanks would storm the city, as some have circulated, but to escape the danger of the streets which has become a threat to life every moment.
Government buildings were burned and things in them were looted using trucks. Fire trucks, police cars and ambulances were also looted and became "spoils of the revolutionaries" and they used them to wander around with their weapons declaring their obvious victory..
Thousands of Molotov bombs were manufactured, and weapons were distributed in a few places in public. 
This picture is some of the reality shortly before armored vehicles (certainly not tanks, for those who care to enjoy the least amount of credibility, as this is an important military difference) belonging to the Syrian army, began an attempt to enter the city at dawn today. 
And we say an "attempt to enter" because the madness of Syria's intellectuals and their satellite TV channels made it seem as if the army had already entered the city, its every street and every neighborhood. The reality on the ground however says that the armored vehicles did not go beyond some squares in the city, because they faced an armed resistence, repeat: armed. This made a determination to enter the city akin to taking a decision to accept the results of a disaster, in every sense of the word, that would spare no one neither in Hama, nor anywhere else in Syria. 
This description does not diminish one iota the fact that the fall of some 100 victims in Hama today is a distaster in itself. But that disaster is just a walk in the park compared to what the realistic results would have been, if the decision was taken to enter all of Hama. 
At the same time, it was the same madness that prompted them [i.e. the intellectuals and their satellite TV channels mentioned above] to fabricate the incidence of a split in the army in Hama, in which the defectors joined the ranks of protesters. The reality is that some of these armored vehicles were trapped by people from every direction, so they could not progress nor retreat without risking to run over thousands in their way. So, the crew played a game to get out of the situation by showing that they joined the people. Then they asked them to make room for them to move. And once the way was open, the armored vehicles turned back and returned to join their colleagues in the army. 
 If you know Arabic, you can read the entire article here