Posted by Joshua on Friday, January 16th, 2009
The following quote is taken from President Assad’s speech in Doha at a conference of Arab countries.
وقال الأسد “سنحرص أن يتذكر أبناؤنا أيضا مجازر غزة, وسنخبئ لهم صور أطفال غزة وجرا حهم ودمائهم, وسنعلمهم أن المؤمن القوي خير من المؤمن الضعيف وأن العين بالعين والسن بالسن والبادئ أظلم, وأن ما أخذ بالقوة لا يسترد بغير القوة”.
We will take care to remind our children of the Gaza slaughter. We will save the pictures of the children of Gaza with their wounds and blood, and we will teach our children that the strong believer is better than the weak. We will teach them: “An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth, and he who started it is the more unjust. What is taken by force will not be returned but by force.”
The last two lines are taken from the Koran. President Bashar al-Assad has put on the mantle of Islamic resistance.
Addendum: Alia writes to correct me
Dear Josh, I was puzzled by those two lines at the end of the Assad speech and had to look them up in detail. Actually they are not from the Qur’an, they are folk sayings that are frequently mistaken for Qur’anic statements:
The words “an eye for an eye” occur in the Qur’an Surat 5 (al-Ma’edah) verse 45 referring to the Laws of the Torah descended on the Jews- ”
It was We who revealed the Law :: therein was guidance and light. By its standard have been judged the Jews, by the prophets who bowed to Allah’s will, by the rabbis and the doctors of law: for to them was entrusted the protection of Allah’s book, and they were witnesses thereto: therefore fear not men, but fear me, and sell not my signs for a miserable price. If any do fail to judge by (the light of) what Allah hath revealed, they are (no better than) Unbelievers.
We ordained therein for them: “Life for life, eye for eye, nose or nose, ear for ear, tooth for tooth, and wounds equal for equal.” But if any one remits the retaliation by way of charity, it is an act of atonement for himself. And if any fail to judge by (the light of) what Allah hath revealed, they are (No better than) wrong-doers.
The Qur’anic law for Muslims in such matters has been alleviated as stressed in Surat 2 (al-Baqarah) verse 178 and in other instances:
“O ye who believe! Retaliation is prescribed for you in the matter of the murdered; the freeman for the freeman, and the slave for the slave, and the female for the female. And for him who is forgiven by his (injured) brother, prosecution according to usage and payment unto him in kindness. This is an alleviation and a mercy from your Lord.”
Nothing else in the last two lines is verbatim from the Qur’an.
So, although Mr. Assad is talking about believers, he is not exactly adopting the mantle of Islamic resistance. Alex we are all included…: )
Here are quotes from two Syrians who sent their interpretations of Assad’s speech:
- The actions of the Arab government should reflect the popular sentiment of their people
- Syria desires peace
- Peace is achieved only when your adversaries are fearful of the consequences of continued conflict
- It is crucial that the Arabs have a strong position at the negotiation table (the big stick) when offering peace (the carrot)
- Israel’s crimes should not be rewarded with a diplomatic win
- All efforts should be made to strengthen the Armed resistance.
At this stage Assad is engaged in a PR battle against the Saudis and Egyptians. We know by now that they are not going to allow ANY win for Syria. They will continue to lobby Washington not to engage Syria … There is a continuing cold war between the two camps … they want him dead or wounded. Not an equal partner.
Israel got the green light from Egypt and Saudi Arabia to finish off Hamas … Assad will not remain a bystander when the others are on the offensive.
In the past their excuse for not talking to Bahsar was that Syria is hindering efforts to elect a president in Lebanon…. now even Sarkozy says he is happy with Syria’s role. So why are they not talking to Syria?
From a friend in Damsacus (This note was sent today)
Jan 15th 2009
Syria, which, since I left in early December, has become consumed with the ongoing Israeli offensive in Gaza. Syrians in public and private are riveted to the satellite news channels soaking up the never-ending procession of carnage, martyrdom and mutilated children. Al-Jazeera and even the relatively moderate Al-Arabiyya network have ceased even the pretense of objectivity in their reportage, drawing no distinction between news, station messages and editorial, and devoting literally every minute of their daily broadcasts to the war on Gaza.
I have lost count of how many public demonstrations have been held thus far in Damascus protesting Israel and the United States (and Saudi Arabia and Egypt, which are deemed to be insufficiently supportive of the resistance). Each protest has shut down most of downtown Damascus for much of the afternoon, and the riot police and water-cannon trucks are now a fairly regular sight nearby my apartment.
I have not experienced any negativity cast on me, personally, by Syrians, and neither have my fellow expats as far as I know. Though a prominent exception is a well-trafficked storefront in the popular Sha’alaan shopping district, which has covered its windows with anti-Israeli and US propaganda posters, many of which are supplied by Hamas’s media arm in Syria. A white sign posted on the window says, in English, “Kindly no American citizens allowed.”
There has also appeared in the doorstep of numerous stores around the city a mass-produced representation of the American flag with the Israeli Star of David superimposed, so that patrons must step on them upon entry. After the infamous President Bush shoe-throwing incident a few weeks ago, I’m sure you all get the significance of this gesture.
Syria urges full Arab boycott of Israel as divisions deepen over Gaza
Ian Black, Middle East editor guardian
Friday 16 January 2009
President Assad says 2002 Arab League initiative no longer valid and urges member states to sever ties with Tel Aviv.
Arab divisions over the Gaza crisis were dramatically underlined again today when Syria, the chief backer of the Palestinian group Hamas, called a groundbreaking peace plan dead and urged Arab states to sever all ties with Israel.
Bashar al-Assad, the president of Syria, told like-minded leaders meeting in the Gulf state of Qatar that the 2002 Arab peace initiative, backed by the entire 22-member Arab League, was no longer valid. Syria had already announced an end to its own talks with Israel, brokered by Turkey and focusing on the Golan Heights.
The Arab initiative promises recognition of Israel in return for a withdrawal to the 1967 borders and a just settlement of the Palestinian problem. It is widely considered to be the only basis on which a comprehensive Middle East peace settlement could be reached and has already attracted the attention of US president-elect Barack Obama.
Assad’s unilateral announcement does not mean the plan has been formally withdrawn – that would require a full Arab summit. But his statement illustrates just how difficult it will be to rescue hopes for progress towards a wider regional peace once the immediate Gaza crisis is over.
The Syrian demand to cut links with Israel was directed primarily at Egypt and Jordan, both of which have had peace treaties and full diplomatic ties with Israel since 1979 and 1994 respectively.
Qatar and Mauritania have since announced they are suspending ties.
In addition to Assad, the Qatar meeting was attended by the presidents of Lebanon, Algeria and Sudan, as well as Iran’s Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who is viscerally hostile to Israel. But western-backed heavyweights Saudi Arabia and Egypt and their allies were absent, sending their foreign ministers to a rival gathering in Kuwait instead.
Khaled Meshal, the de facto Hamas leader, along with the leaders of Islamic Jihad and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, which are also fighting Israel in Gaza, flew to Doha from Damascus on the Emir of Qatar’s private plane.
Qatar, a tiny but super-wealthy Arab emirate, manages to have low-level ties with Israel as well as Hamas. It had called for an emergency Arab summit on Gaza but failed to secure the quorum of 15 states required. But it went ahead anyway as a “consultative meeting”. Complicating matters further, Saudi Arabia called its Gulf partners to a meeting in Riyadh late on Thursday, which was a clear attempt to both sideline and upstage the Qatari effort.
Saud al-Faisal, the veteran Saudi foreign minister, called for more support for Egyptian efforts to mediate a ceasefire and increase pressure on Israel to implement a UN Security Council resolution demanding an end to the violence in Gaza. As Amr Mussa, the Egyptian secretary general of the Arab League, said in Kuwait: “The Arab situation has been very chaotic and this is regrettable.”
Sami Moubayed Old battles, new contenders in the Gulf
DAMASCUS – The founding document of the League of Arab States, laid out during World War II, said the league would “draw closer the relations between member States and coordinate collaboration between them, to safeguard their independence and sovereignty”.
The statement, hailed at the time as a heroic attempt to unify the Arab world, was proudly signed off by several leaders, including Syria’s Jamil Mardam Bey, Saudi Arabia’s Emir Faisal, and Egypt’s King Farouk and his prime minister Mustapha Nahhas Pasha. A tri-partite alliance between Syria, Egypt and Saudi Arabia was born in the 1940s along with the League, and it remained intact – despite coups, revolutions, and political upheavals in all three capitals – until relations were soured between Cairo and Riyadh on one front and Damascus on the other in 2005.
The main reason for animosity was Iran. Egypt’s President Hosni Mubarak and Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah argued that Iran was flexing its muscle in the Arab world – via Syria – in Iraq, Lebanon, and the Palestinian territories. They feared Iranian power and its pledge to expand the Islamic Revolution of 1979 would inspire Saudi Shi’ites, exposing the weaknesses of Saudi Wahabi Islam and perhaps bringing down the House of Saud.
In this respect they seem to have held a similar agenda to the United States when it came to breaking Iranian influence in the Arab and Muslim world. When Israel went to war against Hezbollah in 2006, several heavyweights in Riyadh and Cairo saw the war as a blessing in disguise. They hoped that the Israeli Defense Forces would do their dirty work for them and rid the so-called “moderate camp” of the pro-Iranian military group in Lebanon.
Both countries were not pleased, however, to say the least, to see both Hezbollah and Iran emerge victorious in Lebanon. The situation is repeating itself today, as Israel wages bloody war against yet another Iranian ally, this time the Islamic group, Hamas – for similar reasons, they want Hamas to be crushed in Gaza.
On the other front stands Syria, which remains firmly committed to both Hamas and Hezbollah. This stance leaves its relations with Saudi Arabia and Egypt on a razor’s edge.
Newly added to the equation is Qatar, an emerging power bent on marketing itself as an Arab nationalist state and replacing Saudi Arabia as the political heavyweight in the Gulf…..