Ali Khan says Goodbye to Damascus and SC readers

Ali Khan says Goodbye to Damascus and SC readers
Over the past year, Ali Khan, a native of India has studied Arabic in Syria and written regular dispatches from Damascus about his experiences and travels. They became a fixture of this blog. Many of us will miss him and SC wishes him all the best in his studies at Cambridge University. He is now headed for the foothills of the Himalayas where he will try putting his dispatches together as a book. [J.L.]

Ali Khan in his room in the Old City writing a dispatch

Ali Khan in his room in the Old City writing a dispatch

Ali writes:

Hello,

This is sadly my last dispatch for the year that I spent in Damascus. I hope however that I will continue to go there whenever I get the chance. I have returned to India and am writing this from New Delhi. I want to thank every one for taking the time to read my emails and for replying to them. A major reason that I was able to continue to write these weekly dispatches was the constant encouragement I received, often even receiving emails from people who had read the pieces on Syria Comment or on another online page. Prof. Josh Landis was extremely kind in putting up many of the dispatches on SyriaComment. The other day I was in the car with my brother and out of the blue, without paying attention to what I was saying, I said: ‘I miss her very much.’ He immediately looked up and paused his Worms game and then asked me with very inquisitive eyes. ‘Who?’ He probably thought that I had fallen for a Syrian girl and I was about to give him a juicy piece of gossip. I replied ‘Damascus’ to which he mumbled something and then went back to killing worms.

Even though the summer was getting very hot in Damascus and the day had to organised around where I could find the coolest room to read in or to nap in, because my room on the roof became a furnace after ten in the morning,I was happy. I particularly enjoyed my last few weeks. My father and brother both came to Damascus then. I spent three weeks with them traveling around Syria and the Lebanon. These travels only reinforced my love for these countries and for so many people and places that I have grown to respect and admire. I was mostly mistaken to be their Syrian guide much to my father’s delight and my brother’s sneaking admiration, even though they had to pay inflated tourist rates whereas I was assumed to be one of them and paid only a fraction. The excursions made me realize once again how much the world and the media choose to misunderstand and misinterpret this part of the world, its people, its culture and indeed even its politics.

I have been fortunate enough to live in a number of different cities and countries for extended periods of time and I have to say that Damascus is possibly the only place where I felt at home as soon as I arrived. Often people live in places for a long time and slowly become disenchanted and disillusioned. Shaam continued to captivate, fascinate, intrigue and surprise me until the day I left for home. I hope that I shall be able to accompany my mother,aunt and cousin to Dimishq, before I go on to England to pursue further studies. They could not come earlier.

Many people have written to me suggesting that I should try and compile the dispatches into a book. This is going to be my project for the next two months. After that I hope to be going to Cambridge University. I feel fortunate to have been offered a conditional offer. Inshallah, if I fulfill all their requirements (which seem to be essentially technical), I shall be there in October. I will keep you updated about the dispatches and would sincerely welcome any ideas that you may have about how to tie them together. Do write whenever you get a chance. I apologise for the long silence. I seem to have lost a sense of time being back in the embrace of family.

Yours, Ali (al-Hindi, as my Arab friends used to call me)

Comments (10)


1. jad said:

Hi Ali,
I always enjoy reading your dispatches, a sincere thank you.
You will be missed!

Be sure that “SHE” is already missing you and “SHE” wants you to visit her again :)

All the best in your studies and please let us know your news when you could.

ma Alsalama!

Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

July 31st, 2009, 11:50 pm

 

2. MNA said:

You will be dearly missed. She and her mom needs lots of friends like you to help them set the story about them straight in the western media

Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

August 1st, 2009, 2:02 am

 

3. Alex said:

Hamas leader: We will accept a Palestinian state within 1967 lines
By Natasha Mozgovaya, Haaretz Correspondent, and Haaretz Service

Hamas leader-in-exile Khaled Meshal says the Islamic militant group is ready to accept a Palestinian state based on the 1967 lines, according to an interview with the Wall Street Journal published on Friday.

“We along with other Palestinian factions in consensus agreed upon accepting a Palestinian state on the 1967 lines,” Meshal told the Wall Street Journal, adding “this is the national program. This is our program. This is a position we stand by and respect.”

Meshal is quoted as saying that Hamas would accept international peace initiatives, saying “Hamas and other Palestinian groups are ready to cooperate with any American, international or regional effort to find a just solution to the Arab-Israeli conflict, to end the Israeli occupation and to grant the Palestinian people their right of self-determination.

The Hamas leader, speaking to the Wall Street Journal from his home in exile in Syria, called a freeze to Israeli settlement activity ‘a necessary step’ but said it is ‘not the solution itself.’

In regard to Israel’s leadership, Meshal said “I don’t care about Israel?it is our enemy and our occupier and it commits crimes against our people”, adding “don’t ask me about Israel, Israel can talk for itself.”

Mark Regev, spokesman for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Thursday wrote off Meshal’s statements, saying “anyone who has been following Khaled Meshaal’s comments over the last few months sees clearly that despite some attempts to play with language in a cosmetic way to give the impression of possible policy moderation, he remains rooted in an extremist theology which fundamentally opposes peace and reconciliation.”

The United States on Friday also dismissed Meshal’s comments, saying that actions rather than words would determine Hamas’ future participation in the peace process.

Hamas, which has been designated as a terrorist organization by the West, has been shunned for its refusal to recognize Israel, abide by past agreements signed between the Palestinians and Israel, and renounce violence.

“In the intervening time, if [Meshal] wants to actually take actions that can improve the situation in the Middle East, he can start by declaring a ceasefire and by releasing Gilad Shalit,” U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Philip Crowley said on Friday.

“We will be focused on actions, not words,” Crowley said. “And the Quartet (the U.S., UN, Russia, and EU) principles guide our approach to the Israeli-Palestinian peace process and anyone who wants to participate in that process.”

“So if Mr. Meshal is prepared to renounce terror and violence, if he’s prepared to recognize Israel, if he’s prepared to accept previous agreements, including the road map, then that would be a positive step,” Crowley said

Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

August 1st, 2009, 3:01 am

 

4. Yossi said:

Dear Ali,

It was always a pleasure reading your dispatches from beautiful Syria and its hospitable people, which I am still not allowed to visit. Good luck in your future endeavors, which I am sure you will do very well with, especially if they entail writing…

Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

August 1st, 2009, 7:40 am

 

5. Amir in Tel Aviv said:

Dear Ali,

I enjoyed very much to read your dispatches, especially your trip
reports.

Best of luck to you !
.

Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

August 1st, 2009, 5:10 pm

 

6. offended said:

Ali,

You’re a gifted writer. I very much enjoyed your dispatches. Best of luck in your new venture.And yes, the book sounds like a good idea.

Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

August 1st, 2009, 5:27 pm

 

7. offended said:

Aiwa ya Jad, so there’s a ‘she’ in the matter…. wallah you’re good at picking up the vibes. ; )

Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

August 1st, 2009, 5:31 pm

 

8. oriol said:

ali,

nice to meet you and nice to read your dispatches in SC. i hope you find the way to compile them in a book.
keep in touch

Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

August 2nd, 2009, 4:26 pm

 

9. Akbar Palace said:

Hamas leader: We will accept a Palestinian state within 1967 lines
By Natasha Mozgovaya, Haaretz Correspondent, and Haaretz Service

Hamas leader-in-exile Khaled Meshal says the Islamic militant group is ready to accept a Palestinian state based on the 1967 lines, according to an interview with the Wall Street Journal published on Friday.

Alex,

When did Khaled Meshal cancel the Hamas Charter. I must have missed that.

http://www.mideastweb.org/hamas.htm

Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

August 2nd, 2009, 6:16 pm

 

10. Ghat Albird said:

U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Philip Crowley said on Friday.

“We will be focused on actions, not words,” Crowley said. “And the Quartet (the U.S., UN, Russia, and EU) principles guide our approach to the Israeli-Palestinian peace process and anyone who wants to participate in that process.” (In reference to Mr. Meshal’s interview).

Mr. Crowley should be advised to also “focus on these reported actions”.

Israel evicts 50 Palestinians from their east Jerusalem homes, Jewish settlers move in

BEN HUBBARD
AP News

Aug 02, 2009 13:31 EST

Israeli police evicted two Palestinian families in east Jerusalem on Sunday, then allowed Jewish settlers to move into their homes, drawing criticism from Palestinians, the United Nations and the State Department.

Police arrived before dawn and cordoned off part of the Arab neighborhood of Sheikh Jarrah before forcibly removing more than 50 people, said Chris Gunness, spokesman for the U.N. agency in charge of Palestinian refugees.

U.N. staff later saw vehicles bringing Jewish settlers to move into the homes, he said.

Israeli police cited a ruling by the country’s Supreme Court that the houses belonged to Jews and that the Arab families had been living there illegally.

Gunness said the families had lived in the homes for more than 50 years.

The status of east Jerusalem is one of the most explosive issues in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Israel took control of east Jerusalem in the 1967 Mideast war and annexed it, a move not recognized by any other country. Since then, Israel has to boosted the Jewish presence there, building neighborhoods where about 180,000 Jews live. The Palestinians want east Jerusalem as the capital of their hoped-for state.

Organizations linked to the Jewish West Bank settlement movement also have bought properties inside Palestinian neighborhoods in Jerusalem and moved Israelis in.

About 270,000 Palestinians live in east Jerusalem, or 35 percent of the city’s total population of 760,000.

The international community has pressured Israel to refrain from evicting Palestinians and building new homes for Jews in east Jerusalem, saying such moves hamper peacemaking efforts.

State Department spokeswoman Megan Mattson said such actions in east Jerusalem constitute violations of Israel’s obligations under U.S.-backed “road map” peace plan.

Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

August 2nd, 2009, 10:37 pm

 

Post a comment


6 − three =