Ehsani on Syria Comment over the Years

Ehsani has gathered together his commentary published on Syria Comment over the last five years. I asked him to do this because his articles constitute a valuable and trenchant critic and analysis of Syria’s economic problems and challenges. The link for each article is published below with a representative quote. [Joshua Landis]

Ehsani on Syria Comment

My first debate in the comment section was a debate with Idaf on February 18, 2006.

“Contrary to what you suggest, were the Baath to fall from power, the country will boom economically. The standards of living pale in comparison to others around, and certainly relative to where they should be. Market based economics is a prerequisite for economic prosperity. The Baath does not want to admit this, though they know it. They are hence incapable of unleashing the potential for this country.”

My first article was written on February 22, 2006. A comparison with Hugo Chavez was made in answer to an anonymous writer who argued that Syria does not need foreign investments.

“Foreign investors decide to invest when they sense that a country has a friendly business environment that will protect capital and offer higher rates of return than elsewhere. Capital is unlikely to head to countries that have a poor legal system, heavy-handed state intervention, corruption, and cronyism. Capital migrates to vibrant market based economies, where property is protected. We need to be part of the global economy. It is going to be hard because we are late. Our education system is woefully inadequate. Our infrastructure is not up to the task. Our labor force does not have the needed skills. But start we must. It is not too late. Syria is on the cusp of being next door to an EU country in the next ten years. This will present enormous opportunities for increased revenues from transit, trade, and tourism. But the competition for capital is going to be intense. If foreign investors agree to invest in Syria, we should thank and receive them with open arms. Chavez may ask them to “go to hell.” Hopefully, the Syrian people are too smart to emulate him.”

I challenged the US’s goal of spreading democracy on April 27, 2006.

“As transparent as the struggle to control these priceless resources, the West and the U.S. in particular, have been ambiguous and not forthright with its people or with the Arab world when it comes to its strategic interests in the region. The U.S. has an enormous thirst for energy. Its economy and society will be crippled were its energy supplies to suffer a major disruption. Any U.S. President that allows this to happen may very well get thrown from office and be impeached. Successive U.S. administrations have tried to rely on the so-called tyrants and kings to help them ensure that the above group of players or others does not succeed in making this happen.The other pillar of the U.S Middle East foreign policy of course concerns the state of Israel. As opaque as the U.S. has been when it comes to the issue of energy, its strategy when it comes to Israel has been extremely transparent.”

On May 26, 2006, I questioned the will and conviction of the Syrian leadership to reform.

“Syrian political reforms are unlikely to take place anytime soon. All calls for political reform is viewed with great suspicion. Pushing for such reforms is seen as a prelude to weakening the grip of regime, which will ultimately lead to its downfall. The regime is unlikely therefore to want to tinker with a survival formula that has served it very well over four decades.”

Mr. Dardari’s remarks on foreign policy and its impact on economic progress were addressed in a post on October 17, 2006.

“Unless the economy creates 480,000 new jobs every year, the ranks of the unemployed will continue to rise. Note that creating this many jobs will not help the already unemployed but only the new job seekers. This is a ticking time bomb that no one wants to confront or address. Most Syrians are apparently proud of their leader for standing up to the west and the great Satan in particular. They choose to ignore the country’s massive economic challenges ahead.”

On April 4, 2007, a warning about state revenues was raised.

“As you recall, I have long held the view that the Syrian economy’s prospects were in a much worse shape than was commonly believed.

On their part, most government officials had followed the unified and consistent theme that there was nothing wrong with the economy. Indeed, all we heard was that investments were soaring and that a 7-8% economic growth was in the offing.”

More on the plight of the Syrian economy also in April of 2007:

“In conclusion, without publishing the data to support their claim, it is very difficult to verify the numbers cited by the country’s economic policy makers. My comment above dealt with some of those potential difficulties. It is my impression that the country’s fiscal predicament is not healthy. It is clear that Dardari thinks that some of the subsidies will have to go. I think that this is inevitable. Politically, however, it is a very difficult thing to implement.”

Why don’t Arab dictators declare themselves kings was the title of another posting in the middle of April 2007

“Of the current 22 members of the Arab League, one can argue that the leaders of 14 have it harder than the other eight. I am referring of course to the form of government that these leaders inherited, usually from their colonial masters. The lucky eight inherited or built monarchies, either quasi-constitutional or absolute.
Life is not as simple for the Presidential Republics.”

On the cusp of President Assad’s second term in office, I reviewed his first 7 years in office.

“On Sunday May 27th, Syria’s young leader will win a new 7-year term as President of his country. The words “will win” are seldom used ahead of Presidential elections. But Syria, like most countries of the Arab World, does not resemble western nations. Presidential elections in the Middle East do not contain even a slight element of surprise. The results are known in advance. The procedures leading to the actual elections have become part of each country’s folklore.”

The next article dealt with the huge income disparity developing. Five undeniable facts were listed:

“Prada men’s shoes – SYP 27,500
Brioni mens pants – SYP 22,000
Iceberg t-shirt – SYP 13,800
Armani dress for ladies – SYP 248,500”

An Economic plan for Syria’s future was offered on June 1, 2008:

“Syria must privatize and start its stock market at the same time. The newly privatized companies will be the first candidates to list on the exchange and
will add much needed liquidity to the market. Money that is now pouring into largely unproductive real estate deals should be directed toward industry. If private capital is allowed to take over state industries, employment will rise and not fall. Profitability and accountability will be restored. Businesses that cannot compete will disappear; those that can will thrive. Resources will be more efficiently employed through the free working of the market place, rather than mis-allocated by the whims of clueless government planners.

Syria’s leadership must embrace a new economic course with urgency. The economic sanctions have not helped but neither have the government’s own policies.
The President himself must take ownership of this critical issue. He must explain to the nation his own economic vision and how he plans to execute it.”

More observations from a trip to Syria were made in August 2008.

“Some readers will take issue with my memo. Many will see it as “too dramatic” and “biased”. I had a lengthy telephone conversation with Dr. Landis before I wrote this note. He is privy to a lot more details than I have written here. My dear friends Ford Prefect and Observer have recently written their own observations of Syria after visiting the country. I realize that they offered a much rosier picture than the one I portray. I hope that I am wrong and that they are both right. My friend Idaf is also sure to take issue with many of my observations as we were both in Aleppo at the same time. Again, I hope that the future proves him correct.”

The issue of corruption was raised by focusing on the duty free business in September 2008.

“Imagine boarding a domestic flight from the city that you happen to live in, walking into the airport’s duty free store and walking out of the airport at your destination without any questions asked. Ramak is effectively competing with the Syrian government itself and wining hands down.”

Alarms on population increases were raised in the comments section and then in a main post in early 2009.

“In the meantime, the demographics in the region are frightening. Syria’s population doubles every 30 years. When 200,000 jobs need to be created a year today to absorb the growing labor force, think of what is come by 2030. This scenario is likely to play out in country after country in the region. Yemen, for example, will be home close to 100 million people over the next forty years based on current demographic trends. Such demographic trends need an urgent response. Regrettably, there is none coming.”

More was written on the Syrian population later in July 2009.

“The country would need to create 420,000 jobs today and 800,000 jobs in the year 2035. The only solution is for real economic growth to exceed 8-9% ASAP………

An article on the public sector that inspired OFF THE WALL to start his blog was written in August 2009.

“The Syrian economy and government services have real ailments that will get worse as the country liberalizes. Big medicine is needed.”

It’s the Economy stupid”

“The 51 point-criticism of Dardari and the so-called economic reform plan is extraordinary in both depth and scope. The reformers are being blamed for everything from high raw material prices to low investments, productivity and economic growth that have left 34% of Syrians  (6.8 Million) living below the poverty line, which is 2$ a day. No punches were spared. Even the country’s exchange and interest rates were deemed too high for both exports and investments.
The tone behind the scathing attack is one that identifies with the suffering of the working class — poor workers and farmers — who have seemingly suffered the brunt of the recent economic reforms that are underway.”

Pictures of garbage overwhelming cities like Aleppo.

“Syria’s big cities are facing an onslaught from the surrounding countryside. Their populations are growing even faster than the national rate as a result. Unless something is done, these amazingly historical cities face further decay if not ruin.”

I published an article on Syria’s low wages following a discussion of the high salaries offered to bankers on October of 2010.

“I am fully aware that my support for the reform process is not shared by a significant number of Syrians. This is not surprising. Change will produce new winners and losers. In this short essay, I will first list the winners and losers of the socialist era. I will then explain how the reform process has caught most Syrians off guard and unprepared for the changes that they must face. The failure of many Syrians to understand what needs to be fixed in order to assure the next generation a better life is causing many to blame the reform process and the private sector for the growing poverty and income disparity in our country. It has also brought growing anger at those leading and benefiting from the change.”

A plea to the leadership and the opposition to think about economics was discussed in July of 2012.

“The Syrian people deserve a vigorous debate over their future economic policy. As Egypt has found out, regime change does not automatically put food on the table, just as it does not magically create jobs or lift standards of living. Both the Syrian leadership and those in the opposition need to articulate a realistic, decisive and effective economic policy that inspires the 23 million Syrians who must dream of a brighter future for their kids. The time for a national dialogue on the economy is now. The leadership must lead the charge and offer the country a progressive, bold and inspiring new path forward.”

Comments (76)


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51. Husam said:

@ 29 SF (Frisco):

Ouuu, go run and cry to Papa Josh Landis. You live in Amereeeca and you feel safe yet you chicken shit in your pants because we figured out your address. No one is threatening you. We are just trying to make you understand how many innocent Syrians feel inside Syria when they are just plucked out, killed or tortured.

I worry for Alawis reprisal after Assads because some are innocent. Why can’t you worry for other innocent people (all Syrians) who are taking a beating and being abused? You are racist when you are indifferent and praise the killings. Who are you really and how can you be so cold?

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September 5th, 2011, 12:26 pm

 

52. ann said:

Assad underscores importance of knowing truth in Syria

2011-09-05

http://news.xinhuanet.com/english2010/world/2011-09/05/c_131100864.htm

DAMASCUS, Sept. 5 (Xinhua) — Syrian President Bashar al-Assad underscored Monday the importance of a “direct access” to what is really happening in Syria in light of the ongoing “media distortion,” according to the official SANA news agency.

Al-Assad made his remarks during a meeting held Monday with Jacob Kellenberger, head of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), who is on a two-day visit to Syria for talks on issues including caring for the sick and wounded in the alleged government’s crackdown on protesters.

Al-Assad welcomed the assessment mission of the ICRC “as long as it is independent and works objectively away from politicization.”

For his side, Kellenberger commended the “huge facilitation” introduced to the ICRC delegation by Syrian government, which has allowed the delegation to have access to several areas and cities in Syria, including detention centers.

Kellenberger, who arrived in the capital of Damascus on Saturday, met also with Syria’s Foreign Minister Walid al-Moallem on Sunday, during which Moallem briefed him on the current situation in Syria and “the armed groups’ practices of destruction, sabotage, killing and intimidation of the citizens,” according to SANA.

He expressed relief over the measures taken by the Syrian leadership to shoulder its responsibilities in defending the lives of citizens.

Kellenberger also voiced his appreciation of the humanitarian activities of the Syrian Arab Red Crescent Organization which has played an effective role in providing the humanitarian needs for the citizens during the crisis, stressing the importance of the volunteers in making the organization’s work successful.

Syria has been in unrest since mid-March when anti-government protests broke out in the southern province of Daraa and spread to other cities.

The Syrian authorities have been blaming the unrest on “armed groups and foreign conspiracy,” and stressed that it would track down gunmen who have intimidated the people and damaged public and private properties.

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September 5th, 2011, 12:26 pm

 

53. Husam said:

OTW, Abu Umar SGID, True, Tara, Revlon, Aboud, and all other Syrian Beings:

Where do you guys read the latest news on Syria other than SC?

It is getting very dry and boring here…

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September 5th, 2011, 12:32 pm

 

54. Revlon said:

44. Dear Haytham Khoury,
Thank you for your reply and the hyperlinks.

The first link was to an Assyrian website.
A quick look at the menu finds entries like: Plight of Christians in Muslim Countries, Bombed Churches, Assyrian customs…. There was not a single positive entry about their living in Iraq!
The places claimed to had been exposed to ethnic cleansing were in certain Kurdish areas.
I must say here that ethnic cleansing happened not because they were Christians but because they were not Kurds. Arabs and Turkmen, whether Christians or Muslems were also the subject of ethnic cleansing in those territories.
There is no neutral and reliable investigation on the issue of bombing of churches.
The whole thing could have been made up, like the famous case of reporting of Bab Toumah Church strafing on SC and /or could have been staged for other, non-religious purposes.
Mubarak staged a bombing of Church in cairo as recently as few month ago!

The second link provides brief testimonies of two witnesses on verbal threats by Mehdi Militias and reported statements by AlQaeda!
The interview took place in a Church in Jordan. There is usually a great incentive to such refugees to either exaggerate or invent such serious threats to life ijnn order to support their quest for immigration to North America or Europe.
It is worth mentioning that those people did not seek the protection of the US forces in their own territories. They just wanted to immigrate!

The third link is a PDF from the Assyrian International News Agency. It is titled: Incipient Genocide
The Ethnic Cleansing of the Assyrians of Iraq.

Some Christian Iraqis, whether Assyrians, Armenians, or Arabs did participate in or benefit from associating with Saddam’s regime.
The death of a dozen or more of Christians in Iraq can hardly be described as genocide or incipient genocide.
The targeted killing of collaborators with past regime, even if they were Church authorities, seems to me a more plausible explanation.

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September 5th, 2011, 12:39 pm

 

55. Haytham Khoury said:

Guys:

When I talk about the ethnic cleansing In Iraq, I talk about a reality that exists. I am not trying to make anybody feel guilty for that. The only one to blame for that is the US, who divided Iraq and dissolved the army. I am trying to say that one of the reasons why some Christians are not very keen about the change. It is the feeling of uncertainty that arose from what happened in Iraq. I am not saying that would happen in Syria. Consequently, I am not saying that they are right. There is big difference between explanation and justification. Further, I say that from the point of an objective observer.

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September 5th, 2011, 12:42 pm

 

56. ann said:

Rai: What’s happening in Syria is not democracy but ‘genocide’

September 5, 2011

http://www.nowlebanon.com/NewsArticleDetails.aspx?ID=308180

Maronite Patriarch Bechara Boutros al-Rai told France 24 television on Monday that what is happening in Syria is not democracy or reform but “genocide.”

“We call on the international community to not rush into making decisions that change regimes. They called for democracy in Iraq, and this democracy harvested [many] souls. Arab countries are all in labor. Where will we get to? Where will Syria get to?”

France and the international community must think where Arab countries are heading toward, Rai added.

“Are [they heading toward] extremist and violent regimes? Or toward breaking up the Arab world? [Both ways,] this does not serve people in general, and does not serve minorities or the Christians.”

Asked if the fall of the Syrian regime will affect Christian minorities, he said: “The church wants political regimes that protect citizens’ rights. We are not saying ‘we support this regime,’ but [we are saying] we support a regime [based on its positive] results.”

“We are not with any regime, but we bless the regime that respects peace, justice and people’s rights and dignity. The church supports any regime that serves its country and citizens well.”

The patriarch also said that it is unacceptable to “play with people’s fates,” and that it is not enough to call for reform and to give people their rights “through war and violence.”

“Countries can lay conditions for democracy not wage war…We must seriously think. Are we heading toward a civil war between Sunnis and Alawites in Syria?”

There is “genocide” in Syria and not democracy or reform, he added.

“Are we heading toward dividing Syria into sectarian states? The international community must follow up with issues until the end. It is not enough to bless wars, but we must realize where we are getting to.”

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September 5th, 2011, 12:55 pm

 
 

58. Revlon said:

56. ann, thank you for the post!
I could not agree more with Father Rai

“What’s happening in Syria is not democracy but ‘genocide’”

A 3alawi lead regime is massacring Sunnis!
– over 3000 documented martyrs, and probably severalfold of unaccounted for yet
– Mass graves
– Death under torture

I can not see it any other way, can you?!

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September 5th, 2011, 1:09 pm

 

59. Husam said:

Thanks so much Revlon, much appreciated. However I read Arabic like a 4th grader (I left young and never got a chance to polish my reading skills…shame on me). Do you have English ones, for faster reading.

Cheers

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September 5th, 2011, 1:14 pm

 

60. Tara said:

Husam

Hi, do you live in North America or in Europe? What about your children, dothey speak and read Arabic?

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September 5th, 2011, 1:17 pm

 

61. Revlon said:

59 Dear Husam, for timely access to news on the ground, arabic news sites are usually better.

I sometimes check on AlJazeera in English.
I notice that other guys provide links to other really good stuff in other languages. I am sure they will share their links once they read your post.
Cheers!

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September 5th, 2011, 1:19 pm

 

62. Revlon said:

Syriatel guide security forces to specific areas experiencing unusual rise in use of cell phones, as potential spots for impending demonstrations.
كيف تشارك سيرياتل بقمع التظاهرات
2011/09/05 نشر فى: أخبار محلية
http://all4syria.info/web/archives/26254
فيس بوك
مصدر إداري من شركة سيرياتل للاتحاد: هناك استراتيجية متبعة من قبل النظام لتتبع ال…مظاهرات في مدينة حلب خاصةً، حيث تم تشكيل مكتب سري في شركة سيرياتل مهمته معرفة أماكن المظاهرات قبل بدئها.
فعلى سبيل المثال: عندما تتوجه إحدى التنسيقيات إلى منطقةٍ ما، وتجتمع حشود في مسجد معين أو مكان معين؛ فتكثر فيه الشرائح الخليوية وتزداد كثافتها عن المعدل الطبيعي؛ يقوم هذا المكتب بالاتصال بأفرع الأمن والإبلاغ عن حركة غير طبيعية في تلك المنطقة، فيقوم فرع الأمن بإرسال قطعان الشبيحة و المخابرات إلى ذلك المكان، وبهذه الطريقة يتم إحباط تحركات حلب.
ملاحظة: تم إحباط أكثر من 110 مظاهرة في أيام رمضان في قلب مدينة حلب وحدها.
( هكذا تُقمع مظاهرات حلب؛ قبل أن تبدأ حتى )

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September 5th, 2011, 1:20 pm

 

63. N.Z. said:

Dear Annie#29, Sheila#49,

Seems that some commentators forgot what “dignity” means!!!!.

After watching the link in your morning post, I felt sick to my stomach. How can I not support Syria’s young men, as well ignore a population that can no longer tolerate to live without dignity under the brutal and watchful eyes of a mafia for over 40 years.

Who in his right mindset can defend a criminal, any criminal, a loyalist?

To Syrians, I’ll say, I will be standing up for “your” dignity – and the dignity of us all. And we won’t give up until all of us …the least we can do, is moral support.

This comment comes from a doctor who lives in the States:
“Every time anybody speaks about the role of poverty and unemployment in the Syrian crisis, the champions of freedom and dignity start getting angry as if poverty and unemployment are not the enemies of freedom and dignity.”

Many filthy rich do not know the meanings of dignity or happiness or freedom.

“How do you think the Saudi regime will respond if protests similar to the ones in Syria take place?” These questions do not concern a freedom seeker!

Yet to have a balance comment he inserts, “This uprising was triggered by oppression and brutality but that was not the only fuel that inflamed the streets .”

It is denying one’s “DIGNITY” what fuelled all the revolutions in the Arab world.

Libyans are well fed, well housed but kept under the surveillance of qaddafi and sons. Another commentator is looking how this freed nation will cope in the future.

I will not say loyalists vs. revolutionists. Change, yes! How? we differ.

Assad’s regime, a cesspool of filth and stagnation have been stirred, with the uttermost dignified of my countrymen.

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September 5th, 2011, 1:27 pm

 

64. SANDRO LOEWE said:

Last week I was in Syria once again. During last 6 months I have been visiting Syria and my parents on a regular basis. I can have
an idea of what is going on through friends and colleagues who explain their experiences and positions.

In Damascus city (bussiness center) many medium to high class people keeps on defending the idea that this regime never will fall and that they are fighting the West and their armed gangs in Syria. But at the same time there is an increasing feeling that bussiness is going to a cathastrophic situation if things do not improve. Anyhow from last 6 months I keep on hearing the same (yet old) story; that last days things are more under control and that in 15 days crisis could be over.

At Damascus suburbs and some in city center medium and low class people I know attack the regime and ask for inmediate change and even death penalty to regime capos.

Outside Damascus, Rif, Homs and Idlib the situation is dramatically going to worse every day. People is absolutely crazy about destroying every single sings and detritus of this regime.
But the feeling is generated by killings more than by political ideas in itself.
Even towns that had never seen problems are beginning to dare to express against the regime. There are many many stories about innocent people who refused to cooperate in any way with Security Services men and were arrested sine die. This are 2 last stories I saw and I can personally confirm:

1- My friend’s brother was asked by security services to drive its van to transport security services to arrest activists.
He denied and told the services that if he was seen cooperating with them he would get killed. Following day he disappeared. Two months later their family received news from the services in Damascus that he was in prison. Notice that this person had no idea nor previous political contacts. He is still in prison.

2- While in a restaurant in Amman a person began shotuing like a possesed in the kitchen. When I asked some one I know in the restaurant he told me he is a syrian guy who received the information that his brother died one month ago in Idlib. He was serving in the army and their family informed him that security services killed him. Last thing I heard was:

WRITE “MEAL FOR THE ASSADS” AT THE GARBAGE BASKET…

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September 5th, 2011, 1:43 pm

 

65. Haytham Khoury said:

Dear Revlon @54:

Please find below some independent references regarding the violence targeting Christian’s in Iraq. I am not saying that because I am Christian, but because it is a real humanitarian crisis. This humanitarian crisis happened, because the American did a big mess.

http://www.spiegel.de/international/world/0,1518,587345,00.html

http://www.time.com/time/world/article/0,8599,2030747,00.html

http://www.unhcr.org/48ff570e4.html

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September 5th, 2011, 2:06 pm

 

66. sf94123 said:

50. ABU UMAR SAID:
“don’t be surprised when you get a taste of your own medicine and as we say in Arabic, kama tudeen, tudaan”

51. Husam said “You are racist when you are indifferent and praise the killings. Who are you really and how can you be so cold?

As usual both of you rush to judgment! When someone disagrees with the way you conduct business, it does not mean that he or she supports the other side , slathers and killings of people. I am a staunch advocate of peace and nonviolence solution to crisis through constructive dialogue and compromise. I feel sick to my stomach about what is happening in Syria and I regret the lost of life. So please spare me the bullshit!
We all need to direct our focus toward a political solution in Syria. We don’t need another war in the middle east.

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September 5th, 2011, 2:16 pm

 

67. norman said:

Sheila,

Malls, restaurants produce service kind jobs which are needed in Syria as Syria is tourist attraction, these service jobs what restarted the American economy and brought it out of the recession in the Eighties,
Anything that brings more jobs to Syria is progress, don’t you think? ,

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September 5th, 2011, 2:34 pm

 

68. sf94123 said:

Events in Syria could lead to genocide: Maronite Patriarch Beshara Rai
(Be careful Patriarch Rai, soon you will be called “Menhebek”)

Reed more:

http://www.dailystar.com.lb/News/Politics/2011/Sep-05/147942-events-in-syria-constitute-genocide-rai.ashx#axzz1X6bq5J9h

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September 5th, 2011, 3:07 pm

 

69. Husam said:

@s-frisco

I am a staunch advocate of peace and nonviolence solution to crisis through constructive dialogue and compromise.

Really? I don’t believe you as every single post of yours demonstrated the contrary. Are you saying you have woken up and looked in the mirror to realize all Syrian blood is the same? Are you saying that you support justice for all the dead no matter who pulled the trigger and tortured people?

The other issue how do you have constructive dialogue when there is a bomb strapped under to your chair? And, why now?

Lots of questions… dare answer just one.

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September 5th, 2011, 4:17 pm

 

70. Husam said:

@ Revlon, thanks bro. I check Aljazeera from time to time, but I agree with you – the Arabic News being more up to the minute.

@ Tara, Canada, Twin Girls. They speak Gerbish now (which is a mixture of Arabic, English, Russian). So far they comprehend Arabic the most. Of course, I will strive that they be better than I in every aspect inshallah (I really suck at writing and reading).

@ Hytham, Re: Christians were targeted, very true. However, was there a race, a creed, or any sect that was not targeted in Iraq?

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September 5th, 2011, 4:26 pm

 

71. ann said:

Syria witnesses new protests amid mounting int’l pressure

2011-09-02

http://news.xinhuanet.com/english2010/world/2011-09/02/c_131094792.htm

DAMASCUS, Sept. 2 (Xinhua) — Hundreds of Syrians took to the streets in a new weekly episode of protests titled “death rather than humiliation” as the European Union approved Friday an embargo on oil imports from Syria as part of sweeping new economic sanctions against the Syrian leadership.

Syria’s state TV said armed groups attacked Friday a law- enforcement checkpoint in the town of Talbiseh near central Homs province, injuring a number of its members. It said around 50 people in al-Hasan mosque in al-Midan neighborhood in the capital of Damascus, tried to ignite protests but dispersed quickly because their attempt wasn’t heeded by the worshipers.

The private Sham FM radio station said limited gatherings were seen in the northern province of Idlib and dispersed peacefully.

Meanwhile, the Doha-based al-Jazeera TV, airing live footage of what it claimed as large protests in several Syrian cities calling for the downfall of the Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, citing activists as saying six people were killed in several areas, including eastern Deir al-Zour province, the Damascus suburb of Arbeen and Hammorieh.

The video picturing large crowds chanting a rhyming phrase ” death rather than humiliation.”

The contents of al-Jazeera videos or the activists’ accounts couldn’t be verified as journalists are banned from heading to the restive areas.

Syria accuses al-Jazeera and other media of ignoring the facts on the ground as well as incitement and fabricating events in their coverage of the protests.

Meanwhile, European Union foreign ministers meeting in Poland on Friday approved an embargo on oil imports from Syria.

Syria’s oil exports are among the main earners of foreign currency for the government as it is a key source of income for the Syrian economy. Europe consumes 95 percent of Syrian exported oil.

On the sidelines of a Paris summit on Libya, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on Thursday urged the world community to target Syrian oil and gas exports and again repeated U.S. calls for Assad to step aside.

“Syria must be allowed to move forward, those who have joined us in this call must now translate our rhetoric into concrete actions to escalate the pressure on Assad and those around him, including strong new sanctions targeting Syria’s energy sector to deny the regime the revenues that fund its campaign of violence,” Clinton said.

The latest remarks came after the Obama administration on Tuesday added three senior Syrian officials to its sanctions list including Foreign Minister Walid al-Moallem, Bouthaina Shaaban, Syria’s presidential political and media advisor and Syrian ambassador to Lebanon Ali Abdul Karim Ali.

The Treasury Department’s action prohibits Americans from doing business with them and freezes any assets the sanctioned officials may have within the U.S. jurisdiction. The U.S. had already slammed sanctions on about 30 Syrian officials, including President Assad, and banned U.S. imports of Syrian oil or petroleum products.

In their ongoing attempts to further isolate the Syrian leadership, EU and the U.S. have drafted a UN resolution condemning Syria, but the draft resolution circulated at UN headquarters in New York faced opposition from veto-powered members such as Russia and China.

Russian ambassador to the UN Vitali Churkin said on Monday that Russia stands against a West-drafted UN resolution on Syria, adding “the draft resolution on Syria is completely non-objective and it envisages pressure on the Syrian authorities only,” Churkin told the Russia Today television channel.

Activists and human rights groups say more than 2,200 civilians have been killed in the alleged government crackdown on the protest movement that broke out in mid-March, while the Amnesty International said it believed that at least 88 people, 10 of them children, have died in detention in Syria during the past five months.

The government disputes the toll, blaming the more than five months of unrest on armed groups backed by foreign conspiracy with the aim of unseating Assad.

In his latest televised appearance, President Assad unveiled that Syria is constantly receiving threats “to the degree that some military maps have been sent to us pinpointing the targets that would be bombarded in Syria.”

Assad said Syria’s relation with the West is “a relation of conflict on sovereignty, whose main target is to rid all countries, including Syria, of their sovereignties, and we are adhering fast to our sovereignty without hesitation.”

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September 5th, 2011, 4:30 pm

 

72. ann said:

Turkish opposition in Syria: We are not here to decry Syrian regime

05 September 2011

http://www.todayszaman.com/news-255887-turkish-opposition-in-syria-we-are-not-here-to-decry-syrian-regime.html

Deputy chairman Faruk Loğoğlu, who is heading a committee of deputies from the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) has said the opposition is not in Syria to decry the Syrian regime but to investigate matters closely.

Stressing the brotherhood between Turkey and Syria, Loğoğlu said they traveled several regions in Syria accompanied by local administrators and officials, and that they will present their findings as a report to CHP leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu.

Loğoğlu also noted that the committee met with Syrian President Bashar Al Assad and Parliament speaker Mahmoud Al Abrash in Damascus.

Before going to Mediterreanian city of Latakia, five CHP deputies visited the Yayladağı district of the southern province of Hatay in Turkey along the Syrian border on Sunday to meet with Syrian refugees who had fled the violence in their country. Hatay deputy governor Akgün Corav and Yayladağı district governor Tolga Polat briefed the investigative team on the situation in the refugee tent camp.

Loğoğlu then told reporters at the camp that they came to Yayladağı to help prepare them for their visit to Syria. “We want to witness events in Syria on the ground,” he said.

In Damascus, Abrash and Loğoğlu reviewed in the meeting the current events in Syria, the foreign interference, incitement campaigns to undermine Syria’s role and destabilize its security, Syria’s state-run Sana news agency, which often distorts facts related to the incidents in the country, reported on Monday.

According to Sana, Abrash stressed that the reform process will continue in order to build a strong Syria, adding that the awareness of the Syrian people will foil all attempts of weakening their national unity.

Loğoğlu said the CHP considers Syria’s stability and security to be important to Turkey and that Syria’s freedom, independence, sovereignty and unity are essential to CHP’s principles.

CHP’s deputy chairman reportedly stressed the CHP’s rejection of any interference in Syria’s internal affairs, adding that the Syrians are able to solve this problem.

The report also said that Loğoğlu visited Homs and Hama and briefed by local officials.

Loğoğlu reportedly stressed his support to Syria and the reform steps taken by the Syrian leadership, Sana alleged.

Homs governor, the report says, pointed out to the relationship between Syria and Turkey, adding that the foreign conspiracy has transformed the situation in Syria from legitimate grievances to acts of violence and sabotage.

Loğoğlu told reporters in Hama that the delegation noticed the security the city and its suburbs enjoy and inspected the casualties caused by what Sana said “saboteurs.”

“He added that the delegation will deliver a message to the Turkish people showing that Syria can solve its problems without any foreign intervention,” the report claimed.

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September 5th, 2011, 4:56 pm

 

73. annie said:

57. REVLON thank you for your list of sites; I also suggest

http://www.onsyria.com/

dealing exclusively with clips

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September 5th, 2011, 5:21 pm

 

74. Revlon said:

65. Dear Haytham Khoury,
Thank you for the additional references.
The realities of mass displacement of and murders of Irqi cistizens of Christian and other faiths is not the subject of debate, but the reported scale, the context and the characterisation.

From the references you kindly provided I have learned the following:
1. PM Maliki was keen, and promised Chancellor Merkle to send forces to the North to further protect Minorities from attacks by illegal militias.
2. Interviewed Muslem Imams were in quandry in trying to explain why such minorities would be targeted. They reasoned that it was probably planned by AlQaeda to instigate the west against Islam in order to create a political polarisation in the region.
Both Imams urged the Christian minorities to stay and offered words of Sympathy.
Father Kana, a member with other 10 Christians in the Iraqi parilament was defiant and urged Christians to stay rooted in their country.
3. Of the 220000 refugees registered UNHCR in Syria, only 15,0000 (15%) were from Nainawa, where Christians reside!

I would like to assume that all of the 220,000 refugees, irrespective of faith, were fleeing for their life and seeking an alternative, peaceful and decent living for themselves and a brighter future for their children.
With that caveat, I leave it up to you Haitham to decide who would be welcomed and helped by charity organisations to become a humanitarian refugee in a Western country, the fleeing 195000 Muslems or the 15000 Christians!

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September 5th, 2011, 10:13 pm

 

75. Revlon said:

73. Thanks annie, this site makes search for video clips much much easier!
Cheers.

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September 5th, 2011, 10:25 pm

 

76. Syria Comment » Archives » New Era for Syria Comment – Ehsani and Camille Otrakji take the Helm said:

[…] a Syrian-American banker, has been writing economic analysis for Syria Comment since 2006. He will compile the “News Roundups”. He can be reached at […]

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September 19th, 2011, 11:23 pm

 

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