No Bullet Holes in Bab Touma; Several Accounts of Life in Syria

An intrepid reporter working for the SC community has cleared up a mystery. Over a week ago I published an article in which the author Ammar Shami wrote that “armed men sprayed bullets” at a church front in Bab Touma during the opening weeks of the revolt. The article was entitled “Did Syria Use Tanks and Gun Boats to Shell Hama and Latakia?,” which set off a heated debate. A commentator who goes by the name, “Some Guy in Damascus” immediately disputed the claim that a gunman had shot up the front of a Bab Touma church and set out to prove it. This weekend Some Guy in Damascus went to investigate the churches of Bab Touma and found no evidence of bullet holes on any of the church fronts. He posted this short video on Youtube of himself in front of al Saleeb Church in Damascus by way of proof that he has investigated the churches of Bab Touma and found no evidence of bullet holes.

We have yet to hear back from the author of the original article, explaining his account that contradicts SGID’s findings.

I want to thank SGID for his intrepid reporting. Again this story underlines how difficult it is to rely on reports coming out of Syria, when there are no professional journalist to count on. It is also underlines how important it is for journalists, publishers, and bloggers, such as myself, to publish corrections and counter evidence when we find out that we have made a mistake or published articles based on erroneous accounts. We continue to await a professional treatment of the main contentions of Shami’s article – that the Syrian army did not use gunships to shell Latakia or tanks to shell Hama, as most journalists have reported. Certainly his broader claims are now in doubt too.

I apologize for the false report and thank Some Guy in Damascus for his video, good humor, and reporting in these dark times. Joshua Landis

Here are several accounts and short articles

The foreign media ban and its effect on the Syrian perception of the uprising
By Daniel Paul-Schultz (A Master’s student who recently returned from a year in Damascus)
For Syria Comment, 6/24/2011

The Syrian uprising, while influenced by the unrest in the rest of the Arab world, is set apart by the impact of the foreign media ban. No foreign reporters have been allowed to operate freely inside Syria since the protests began in the middle of March. While Arabic and English foreign media networks such as Aljazeera and BBC have consistently shown footage of the massive protests in Yemen, and have even filmed the rebels in Libya, there have been no independent reports coming out of Syria. Instead, the foreign media has been forced to rely largely on a mixture of YouTube videos and telephone conversations with both pro and anti government Syrians. This lack of firm sourcing has caused many Syrians, who generally have equal access to state and foreign news sources, to discount the foreign media as at best subjective, and at worst actively fomenting discord. As a result, the propaganda effort launched by the Syrian has benefited immensely.

While state Syrian television has always been the propaganda arm of the government, its role has become more crucial as the protests have escalated, and with them the violence of the government’s reaction. On a typical Friday, while shows grainy footage of alleged protests from around the country, the state television attempts to reassure the country that nothing is actually happening by showing videos of calm streets in major cities and interviews with mothers in the parks with their children rejoicing that the country is free of the ‘armed terrorist gangs’ whom the government blames for the deaths during the protests.

I spent the last nine months in Syria, and although many young educated Syrians I spoke to did not believe the government’s story, many more Syrians considered the state news reports to be accurate. This may be due to the propaganda embedded in the curriculum through the education system that strongly discourages any questioning or distrust of the regime. It is also due to the fact that Syrian society is replete with conspiracy theories that accuse Israel, the United States and the Gulf states of plotting against Syria. Accordingly, foreign media organizations, along with other outside groups such as human rights groups and other non-governmental organizations, are viewed with distrust by many Syrians, and with the government’s encouragement, seen as potential agents for foreign interests.

The foreign media ban has been an invaluable instrument for the Syrian government because it forces the foreign media to rely on unreliable eyewitness accounts from protesters rather than on neutral and more informed testimony from journalists. While channels such as BCC Arabic dutifully interview Syrian government spokespeople every day, they are quite aware that they will always receive the same rehearsed line blaming armed terrorist gangs for all deaths and denying even the existence of protests in the country. Therefore, to learn any real information, the networks are forced to rely almost exclusively on phone calls with various protesters who own satellite phones.

While these activists are certainly courageous, their testimony is not unbiased. They have a clear vested interest in portraying the events in a particular way that promotes their perspectives. Though their information is undoubtedly accurate to some extent, it is often relayed by the foreign networks as fact rather than opinion. This reliance on vague and unverifiable information ultimately undermines the credibility of the foreign media with their Syrian audience, to the great benefit of the Syrian government.

There is no easy solution to the dilemma facing the Arabic foreign media. Attempts to openly defy the ban on foreign media put reporters in significant danger, as the case of Dorothy Parvaz illustrates. Moreover, in an age of increased competition for the speedy conveyance of news, simply refusing to report on Syria is not an option for major news outlets.

One option, however, is for the networks to become more transparent in detailing exactly how they arrive at specific information, without revealing the names of any sources. For instance, networks could choose to explain to the viewers the specific procedures they go through in order to verify the death of a protester, the size of a protest, and claims made of human rights violations during the unrest.

The networks might also stress, when possible, that the information they are reporting comes from multiple independent sources. While these sources cannot be identified by name for theirown safety, giving ancillary details about their job or age will give more confidence to the Syrian public that this information is accurate.

Although these options will not necessarily cause a rapid change in the of average Syrians, it may convince some doubters that the protests are in fact real and that the government propaganda is in fact lies. While the Syrian public is not the only target of the foreign media, it is the group for which the foreign media has the potential to have the most significant impact. It is therefore imperative that the networks take stronger measures to convince Syrians that they, and not the Syrian government, are reporting the truth.

A Syrian Friend in Beirut

I’m amazed of how fast the Syrian business community are beginning to dump Bashar and the regime. I have also met very rich and influential Syrian business people here in Beirut who are ready to accept mayhem and chaos in return for the departure of Assad and the regime. Just last year, I swear, they were arguing with me how great the regime and Bashar were. Last year, they insisted that Bashar was moving in the right direction. When I asked them about the sanctions, they now say that sanctions are good because they will force Bashar to leave. Now of course these do not represent the majority, but I’m shocked. Damascus looks normal. But it is simmering from the inside.

Another Syrian friend

I’m meeting more and more people wanting violence as means of “resistance” to the brutal regime.

An Atassi – one of the thousands

In the end, revolutions are so seldom about the people, especially if the people are not what they need to be. I might not be old enough, but I know that the Alawites have paid a high and heavy price to get to where they are today.

More than any other minority in the Levant, Alawites paid with their blood for centuries of abuse by the Sunni majority. And they have nowhere to go.

They were poor and hungry (many still are, unfortunately). They were denied the very basic of human rights and dignity. My grandfather used to tell me that in Homs, the Alawites were not even allowed to walk the sidewalks, they needed to be on the street like the rest of the animals.

No one will sell them anything, and few bought from them. Why?  They are heretics and the enemy of God and His Messenger.

They were so poor, living over land that cannot be properly cultivated, they sold their daughters to homes in Homs, Hama, Lattakia and other major cities so they can survive with the few pennies that we threw at them.

We continuously deny the horrible facts in our history and we continuously pretend that other sects and religions coexisted peacefully in Syria. Baloney. Not true! And our history is written by Sunni historians or historians that were enriched by the Sunnis.

I am a Muslim Sunni and I know; I am ashamed of my sect and my people and my religion for not coming in full force to repent and pay back for the severe injustices they were perpetrated on other sects – all in the name of we are Muslim and we Muslims are good.

The only time I will trust Syrians with democracy is when I see heads of families treating their families with respect. When adult children are free to make choices away from family and tribal pressures. When families tell their children about the value of the Syrian mosaic and how to respect and treasure diversity in Syria. When they tell their children that we have abused minorities and it’s time to talk about it.

I will trust my fellow Syrians when I see them revolt and getting disgusted when a brother slaughters his sister because he thought she harmed the family honor.

I trust Syrians when they start trusting one another because they all belong to the same institutions of law and order.

Until we start a national dialogue, and until the MBs apologize for the killings they committed, and the regime erects monuments for the people they killed, and the Sunni admits their unmistakable prejudices, and until the people break the taboo of not talking about sectarian hatred and cynicism, and until the people are genuinely free as individual people, and until relations between religious sects becomes a national topic that is taught in classrooms, and until the constitution is clearly written to protect the minorities from the oppression of the majority, and to protect the Syrians from their own government, I’m doomed to not trust any outcome.

It’s amusing to me when i hear people talking about Article 8, and how to remove it and by when, at the time when the whole country is boiling with sectarian hatred and terrible class relations. Talk about misaligned priorities.

I am currently a rebel on the loose looking for a revolution that fits my definition.

Muhammad writes:

Yesterday one of my friends reminded me of a conversation a while back when I stated that I would vote for Bashar if he stood in an election. It gave me insight how much my position has shifted during the last 5 months. I’m sure there are millions of stories similar to mine. Bashar has lost his biggest asset and rather than being a strength to the regime he is now a liability.

A little story from my home city (Edleb). Edleb has seen massive demos for a while. The first casualty was over a month ago and it resulted in a significant shift of mood in the city. Before then, there used to be pro-regime demos. After that guy got killed (he was shot while still inside the mosque – they were trying to stop the demos early) none of this happens. A lot of people who used to be pro-regime came to his funeral and stated through speakers their “repentance”. The participation in the strike after his death was easily 95%. Adunnya channel tried to play a really dirty game by blaming his murder on another family in the city. The two families the biggest in Edleb in terms of numbers. It did not work well for Adunnya. The second family set up their own funeral for the martyr and the two locations became permanent anti-regime demos for days. The city became a completely different place following this event.

In terms of demos Edleb is on a par with Deir Alzor & Hama (considering it is smaller city). It has seen relatively very little bloodshed (I think 4 killed so far) although there has been a lot of violence on the streets between the police and the demonstrators. It is the only Governorate Centre currently that sees one large demo daily instead of multiple small once. There are areas the demos don’t go through (mainly by the last standing statue of Hafez). The army surrounds the city but as for now it has not gone in (snipers were deployed at one time though). I’m not sure whether the government has too much on their hands currently or whether they are afraid of a massive refugees movement similar to Jisr (we are about 20 km from the Turkish border) should the army go in.

Comments (114)


1. Haytham Khoury said:

Dear majedkhaldoon@541:

I can write to him whatever you ask for. From now and on, we need leadership that connects with the base. In fact for this reason, I came to this forum. I came to this forum to help the connection between the leadership and the people in this forum.

Thumb up 3 Thumb down 9

August 29th, 2011, 2:25 pm

 

2. Aboud said:

*high fives SGID*

Once again, professor Landis impresses with how humble he is. When all is said and done, he is the one professor I know who doesn’t think he is God’s anointed heir to Newton.

Happy Eid all.

Thumb up 13 Thumb down 12

August 29th, 2011, 2:28 pm

 

3. Manus said:

In order for the Syrian revolution to succeed, they need help to level the “playing field” with Assad’s army. Forget Nato. This time around, it has to be Arab states, like Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Egypt, Qatar, UAE, etc. that provides “the assist.” Arab League, are you listening? It is obvious that the Syrian people are ready and willing…. They just need help.

Thumb up 3 Thumb down 10

August 29th, 2011, 2:43 pm

 

4. MM said:

I’ve taken issue with the “Atassi” that every now and then contributes to SC in the form of these quoted statements posted by Dr. Landis. The above statements made by him on behalf of alleaites are eerily similar to those claimed by the Jews – that history has dealt them a bad hand and we should continue paying the price by being subservient to them. I am aware that Allawites were not treated well, but I sincerely doubt that it was to the extent Atassi claims. Even if it was, why do future generations have to pay for the mistakes of the past? I do not view Allawites as “animals” as Attassi so states but my enmity is growing against them due to the sheer brutality they have exercised against mainly Sunnis. If the Sunnis did indeed treat them in the fashion described by Atassi, I think they have more than exacted their “revenge.” I don’t believe Sunnis ever resorted to outright slaughter. Sunnis dont need to apologize for anything as a class. Stating so is devisive in itself. History is rightfully in the past. Just as Arabs don’t and shouldn’t have to apologize to Jews for moving in on land they left 3,000 years prior and now claim a right to, no Syrian sect has to apologize to the other for what their forefathers did. Times change and we are different people. In todays world, people give greater reverence to the actions now being committed by groups. Whatever angelic activities they may have partaken in the past no longer applies. It is what you are doing now that shapes the outlook. If you are going to join forces drawn on sectarian lines to exact torture and widespread slaughter on a people, then that is what you are going to be judged by.

I find it hard to believe that you, Mr. Atassi, after having seen 3,000 mainly Sunnis die in this conflict say that we have to apologize. For what? Being marginalized for the past 40 years? For what our great grandfathers did a generation ago? I ask Sunnis what they think of the Allawites what they espouse is more fear of them then anything else.

Notwithstanding this, the revolution should take cues from the Libyan revolution. Particularly the NTC’s guidelines which is the apex example of Islamic human rights. They are not denying medical treatment to former Gadhafi supporters. They are not exacting revenge on anyone in the city of Tripoli formerly supporting the government. This revolution should do the same. No one should be targeted post revolution for their stance, however, those who committed crimes should be brought to justice. Those whi served under the former regime should all be held to account. Look how righteous Mustafa Abd Al-Jalil is – head of the NTC – he is going to submit himself to the court for serving under Gafhafi all those years!

This is the example we need to follow and those witihin the regime should take note. Do the patriotic thing and protect the interests of the people and not the interests of the few.

Thumb up 11 Thumb down 14

August 29th, 2011, 2:48 pm

 

5. Ales said:

As I predicted month ago, articles have beginning to mention chemical weapons being unsafe in Syria.

Next prediction: Slowly news will reveal Libya maybe really did not have anything with Lockerbie aircraft bombing. They are on right side of history now, too. Likely culprits were: Palestinians, HA, Iran….and than Syria is not far away. As mentioned in:
http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/44310777/ns/world_news-mideast_n_africa/

“Some relatives, however, believe that al-Megrahi was wrongly convicted and that evidence points to Iranian-backed Palestinian militants as the perpetrators.”

And it might be, that trial was suspicious. Main prosecution expert testifying on trial has been found on Floria vacation years after, allegedly paid by CIA.

Thumb up 4 Thumb down 10

August 29th, 2011, 2:56 pm

 

6. Omar S. Dahi said:

Thanks for publishing the correction Joshua. I did not know of Shami’s claims otherwise I could refute it immediately. I spent all my time in Damascus around Bab Touma and could have confirmed there were no such bullet holes.

Thumb up 11 Thumb down 5

August 29th, 2011, 3:10 pm

 

7. Evan said:

MM, where do you think the Syrian Jewish community went? Hell, where do you think the majority of Israelis come from? If you can figure out the right answer, you might understand why it is so important to ensure Alawis their rights in a new Syria. Not doing so will lead to bloodshed.

Thumb up 12 Thumb down 4

August 29th, 2011, 3:12 pm

 

8. Ales said:

Argument that you don’t need to apologize for past is weak.
Germans do not need to apologize for Hitler’s deeds?
Russians do not need to apologize for Stalin’s deeds, like Kathyn’s forest massacre of Polish officers?
Turkey, same story with Armenians. Even USA apologized for their disease testing on unsuspecting people (forgot which country that happened, think somewhere in middle America).

Not apologizing is a stance of arrogant and overly powerful. In history, each nation has made mistake…Sunnis, Shiite and Alawites included. More power to you all, if you manage to overcome them.

Thumb up 9 Thumb down 5

August 29th, 2011, 3:14 pm

 

9. Haytham Khoury said:

Dear all:

An article of mine was published on the site (كلنا شركاء), I have written that previously in English as a comment on this blog. Then based on inputs by Off the Wall, Aboughassan and True, the last draft was formulated. Thank you for all of them. Please find the link below

http://all4syria.info/web/archives/25241

Thumb up 4 Thumb down 7

August 29th, 2011, 3:24 pm

 

10. beaware said:

Some fear war, foreign intervention in Syria
Phil Sands
Aug 30, 2011
http://www.thenational.ae/news/worldwide/some-fear-war-foreign-intervention-in-syria?pageCount=0

Damascus // With no sign that a political solution will be found to end a six-month-old uprising, Syria is sliding towards a full-blown war involving foreign forces, analysts and political figures in Damascus fear.

Pro-and anti-regime figures and independent analysts once spoke of civil war and international military intervention as remote possibilities. In the past 10 days, however, the already sombre mood in the Syrian capital has turned even darker and now there is a growing consensus that an escalation of armed conflict is likely, if not inevitable.

A turning point came on August 21, with the arrival of Libyan rebels in Tripoli. With the collapse of the Qaddafi regime, Mr Al Assad’s government saw its hope that Nato would be mired in another Afghanistan-style conflict melt away. Meanwhile, opposition activists and analysts took it as a signal that a once-distracted international community will now focus its attention – and perhaps military resources – on Damascus.

The fact that no state, including the Western nations most at odds with the Syrian regime, has proposed military intervention has done nothing to prevent grim speculation.

The gloom has been compounded by increasingly critical positions from the Arab League and from Turkey, whose president, Abdullah Gul, said Sunday that any reforms would now be “too little, too late.”

“Scenarios that lead to foreign military action in Syria grow more likely every day,” said one well-connected political analyst in Damascus, speaking on condition of anonymity.

He brushed aside Western and Arab League assurances that military action was not on the agenda, citing the rapid march to war in Libya as a precedent for how rapidly policies could change.

“The situation could start moving very quickly. If the [Syrian] regime keeps killing people in large numbers, we will enter a civil war, and if that happens Turkey, the West and the Arab states would decide to step in and finish it,” the analyst said. “That is exactly the direction we are now heading in.”

The Syrian regime, citing the deaths of more than 400 security personnel, insists it is facing an armed revolt by foreign-backed Islamist extremists. Syrian activists, human rights monitors and international agencies, including the United Nations, have largely dismissed that claim, saying the Syrian uprising is an overwhelmingly peaceful movement demanding freedoms and greater civil rights.

Activists and analysts in Syria have been quick to add, however, that the government’s brutal security crackdown is coming dangerously close to creating exactly the kind of insurgency it was ostensibly designed to stamp out. One analyst in Damascus described the regime’s actions as a “self-fulfilling prophecy”.

“Any hope for some kind of peaceful outcome to this has vanished. I have no optimism left,” he said. “The worst is yet to come for Syria.”

A leading Syrian dissident said there was evidence to support such fears

“Some opposition people who used to stress the uprising must remain peaceful changed their mind on the day the Libyan rebels took Tripoli,” he said. “They started saying, ‘Why should we go out and get killed or tortured? Let Nato come and finish this like they finished it in Libya.”

The dissident, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said he preferred to have a peaceful home-grown revolution but increasingly, his colleagues were convinced that was no longer possible.

“It is hard to know how long the protests will stay peaceful when the regime has been so brutal,” he said. “I’m proud of my people for behaving that way under such pressure, but eventually they will say, ‘Enough’.”

Even before Tripoli fell, an unofficial coalition of secular and Islamic dissidents in Syria, despite having publicly ruled out talks with the regime, secretly sent a delegation to meet regime officials, according to an opposition activist.

The dissidents, including influential Muslim clerics highly critical of the regime, offered to use their influence to calm street protesters in exchange for the immediate release of thousands of political prisoners as a confidence-building measure, the activist said.

The August 20 gathering “did not go well,” he recalled. “There was no common ground and it seems that the more moderate voices inside the regime are at a loss about what to do now. They are themselves saying they can’t see a way out of this, that there is no solution to the problem.”

Mr Al Assad has said that while ending protests is a matter of national security, far-reaching political reforms are underway. But even some presidential supporters say the regime’s attempts at a national dialogue already have failed, and that the February ballot will never happen.

“There won’t be elections, there will be no reforms, the urgent priority is to prevent a war,” said one leading public figure involved in the national dialogue. “The only way to do that is through reforms, but that message is falling on deaf ears.”

Either sensing the hardening mood or adding to it, Mr Al Assad himself broached the issue of war for the first time on the same day Tripoli fell.

He bluntly warned against a foreign attack, saying he had greater military power than his enemies realised and that any action would have “huge consequences”.

A more recent warning from Iran that Nato would “drown in a quagmire” if it intervened militarily in Syria has only added to the growing alarm that war has found its way onto the agenda.

“Every day we are coming up with political initiatives that we put to the authorities to avert the disaster of war and foreign military intervention but nothing is happening to change course,” said Mohammad Habash, a Syrian MP pushing for reforms. “Without real change, we go deeper and deeper into crisis. We are marching towards more bloodshed.”

psands@thenational.ae

Thumb up 5 Thumb down 1

August 29th, 2011, 3:32 pm

 

11. SYR.EXPAT said:

Dear Dr. KHOURY,

Excellent article. Thank you!

Thumb up 7 Thumb down 8

August 29th, 2011, 3:35 pm

 

12. SYR.EXPAT said:

Dear SGID,

Excellent job! Thank you!

It was clear from the get go. Something like that would have been major news everywhere. Just like opposition condemns the targeting of mosques, they equally condemn the targeting of churches or synagogs for that matter.

Thumb up 7 Thumb down 7

August 29th, 2011, 3:41 pm

 

13. beaware said:

Assad receives a message on the Russian vision towards regional issues
2011-08-30 01:15:13
http://news.xinhuanet.com/english2010/world/2011-08/30/c_131082505.htm
DAMASCUS, Aug. 29 (Xinhua) — Syrian President Bashar al-Assad received Monday a message from his Russian counterpart Dmitry Medvedev
….
SANA said Assad has expressed “appreciation of Russia’s balanced stance towards the developments in Syria.”

Assad said “each step Syria has taken towards issuing laws that lay foundations for a new political era was followed by an escalation of the regional and international campaign towards Syria’s Arab and regional role.”

Bogdanov voiced his country’s support to the process of reforms Syria has commenced in the economic and political fields, underlining the importance of continued coordination between the two countries in all fields.

The Russian envoy’s visit aims likely to feel out Syria’s position on the draft resolution and to what extent Damascus would commit itself to its provisions if Russia and China were able to pass it in the Security Council instead of the Europeans’ proposed one.

The Russian draft stresses that the only solution to the current crisis is “an inclusive and Syrian-led political process,” and urges the opposition to engage in political dialogue with the government.

On Wednesday, Russia’s ambassador to the U.N. Security Council told reporters outside council chambers that instead of punishing Syria, the council should help end the violence with dialogue and diplomacy, hinting he may veto a draft resolution being circulated to impose an arms embargo and other measures on Assad’s regime.

Al-Watan newspaper said Bogdanov is expected to carry with him to Damascus his country’s concerns over the possibility that the West might choose to pass its resolutions and plans through the NATO but not the UN Security Council.

Therefore, the envoy would call for an instant implementation of what the Russian draft resolution calls for in order to ward off any foreign intervention in Syria’s internal affairs, Al-Watan said.

It added that the envoy would make clear appeals to the Syrian opposition to deal positively with the Syrian government’s calls to hold a broad national dialogue conference.

Al-Watan said Moscow is expected to play a positive role in launching national dialogue in Syria.

more…

Thumb up 5 Thumb down 2

August 29th, 2011, 3:41 pm

 

14. abughassan said:

is it true that armed men kidnapped Hama’s Attorney General Judge Adnan Bakour?

Thumb up 7 Thumb down 2

August 29th, 2011, 3:54 pm

 

15. Tara said:

Tara’s “beloved Josh” (as Husam put it) proved how impartial and humble he is by publishing the correction. Thank you JL!

Happy Eid to all of you and to Syria!

Thumb up 4 Thumb down 10

August 29th, 2011, 3:55 pm

 

16. ann said:

“IRHAL AMREEKA” – 8/29/11 09:56 AM ET

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/sharmine-narwani/irhal-amreeka_b_940188.html

Note: The Arabic “Irhal,” which means “Leave” or “Go away,” is the most powerful slogan of the Arab Awakening that has emerged through much of the Middle East and North Africa since January 2011. It has been chanted against dictators in street protests in every Arab nation facing popular discontent.

The Islamic Republic’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei yesterday demanded the immediate departure of Bahrain’s King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa amidst growing international criticism of mass human rights violations in Bahrain.

Iran announced it is taking the lead in pushing through a binding resolution by the 118-member state Non Allied Movement (NAM) to sanction the import of oil products and pearls from the Bahraini island state and has leveraged its web of global relationships to sanction members of the Khalifa family and their closest financial and political allies in order to squeeze the nation’s economy and hasten the demise of the ruling clan.

For his part, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad revealed a joint initiative by the Islamic Republic’s Revolutionary Guard (IRRG) and the country’s armed forces to position Shahab and Fajr missiles in Iraq and Syria, and to train opposition forces in all six Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) states to mount defensive and offensive strategies to undermine the Bahraini regime.

Sounds familiar? Hint: Yee-haw.

Irhal Amreeka
As popular, street-based movements to force domestic reforms sweep through the Arab world, the only fixed criteria in this widespread social “experiment” is the dogged interventions of the United States and its allies.

From Tunisia to Bahrain to Syria to Yemen to Egypt to Libya, US footprints mar the otherwise indigenous Arab political sandstorms hurling through the region.

Noble initiatives to hasten much-needed political reform and economic stimulus would be welcomed with open arms by most Arabs. But the United States has shown little interest in these developmental essentials, instead focusing entirely on a strategic holy trinity:

1) Unfettered access to cheap oil
2) Advancing Israeli hegemony over its Arab neighbors
3) Regime-change in the Islamic Republic of Iran.

Why is this ham-fisted shortlist the only driver of our Mideast foreign policy? The core of our problem is that the halls of policymaking in Washington are filled with ideologues, not area specialists. Our decision makers therefore follow political agendas — usually attached with an umbilical cord to pro-Israel interest groups – and not nuanced diplomatic imperatives that could foster positive relations based on universal values and respect for national sovereignty.

Irhal Amreeka
There is not one thing on this list that seeks to promote a better life for Arabs. In fact, in order to achieve its goals cost-effectively and efficiently, Washington must dig into the bag of old colonial dirty tricks:

1) Nurturing and establishing an elite class/regime to administer US interests. There is no better recent example of this than the creation of the Palestinian Authority, but one could just as well look to the regimes of Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Jordan to understand why we are still stuck repeating the Washington-born narratives that characterizes these nations as the “Moderate Arab States.”

2) Divide-and-rule. The US and its “moderate” allies are frequently caught fanning the flames of what I call the Arab world’s three “Stinkbombs” — Islamism versus secularism, Shia versus Sunni, and Arabs versus Iranians.

3) Weaponizing our loyalists. The US’s regional allies are provided with everything they need to quell domestic discontent and deter the imaginary Iranian “expansionism” without posing any military threat to Israel.

4) Create dependencies. The goal here is to ensure that regional states are never economically self-sufficient and remain active marketplaces for US goods and services. Washington also leverages its global political clout to train local regimes to seek its good favors and not challenge US hegemonic interests.

Washington will vote against the establishment of a Palestinian state shortly, even though its 20-year-old “peace process” distraction promised just that. Washington has over $100 Billion in arms sales pending with the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) monarchies, some of which have used weapons against their own populations. Washington has sought to piggyback Arab revolutions to lessen their impact (Egypt) or force its own regional agenda (Syria). Washington has spearheaded an international tribunal to legally define Hezbollah as a terrorist organization — the only Arab forces to have ever forced an end to an illegal Israeli occupation. Washington has used economic sanctions to force strategic regime change in Iraq, Syria, Gaza and Iran — “collective punishment” sanctions that have and will kill hundreds of thousands of Arabs and Muslims.

How exactly is any Arab progress and democracy expected to emerge from more of the same old shenanigans?

Irhal Amreeka
In order for Arabs to reach the goal of genuine representative government and viable economic reform, the US needs to be drop-kicked out of the Middle East. That means halting all our weapons sales to despots. That means, barring emergency humanitarian aid, ceasing all our military and financial assistance in the region.

And we should shut up too. So much of the Middle East’s political discourse is infested with language created in Washington, that it is hard to separate truth from our fictions sometimes:

Ask yourself why we blindly followed a 20-year peace “process” which by its very nature suggests something that is ongoing, instead of a peace “solution?” Ask why we think it is kosher to financially and militarily support a colonial-settler state like Israel whose very existence is dependent on the elimination of indigenous peoples? Why did we start calling the Libyans “rebels” while they were still only “protesting” in the streets? Why is Iran a “threat?” Why is Saudi Arabia “moderate?” Why do we tacitly accept killing hundreds of thousands of “them” when a mere handful of their outcasts killed 2,750 of “us?”

If the Arab Street is not shouting “Irhal Amreeka” today, I can assure you that this moment looms not far ahead — even in a soon-to-be-liberated Libya. Let us not credit a “Libyan victory” to ourselves — we could not even dare to lead this effort because of who we are and what we do. Doubt not that we will try our level best to pollute their new government – or alter it if it has independent designs.

But Libyans this week had a harsh reminder of our treachery. A recently-released WikiLeaks cable discloses that until protests erupted in the African state earlier this year, we were working overtime to try to sell arms to Ghaddafi and cement that cozy relationship.

Ugh. How do they stomach us?

On February 11, the day that Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak stepped down after 30 years in power, Wael Ghonim, the young Google executive who had been a pivotal youth figure in Egypt’s uprising, sent a telling Tweet: “Dear Western Governments, You’ve been silent for 30 years supporting the regime that was oppressing us. Please don’t get involved now.”

Divide and rule. Sow discord. Reward corruption. Ignore human rights abuses and gender inequalities among our allies. Militarize the region. Defend the vile despots. The list is endless.

Question: Why do we think that peace, progress and prosperity in the Arab world will foster regional contempt for us?

Answer: Because we are worthy of it.

Thumb up 8 Thumb down 3

August 29th, 2011, 3:57 pm

 

17. DIGGING FOR GOLD IN BOSRA said:

MM

“Times change and we are different people”. Sadly I don’t believe that to be the case. Ask your average Sunni in Damascus to describe Alawites and they will ridicule the men for wearing one-brand tracksuits and the women for having blond highlights in their hair. They are often seen as uncouth, country-bumpkins if you like. Think Jersey Shore but transplanted to Syria – that’s the stereotype. Ask an older Sunni and they will tell you that the Alawites were always househelp: cleaners, servants, cooks etc, the Sunnis certainly begrudge them their meteoric rise over the past 40 odd years.

I see the Alawites in Syria as analogous to the Shites (orthodox Shites, don’t want to get into an argument as to whether Alawites are Shites or even Muslims) in Lebanon. Both groups have suffered economic hardship at the hands of their fellow countrymen.

Thumb up 6 Thumb down 7

August 29th, 2011, 3:58 pm

 

18. ann said:

Arab League did not agree to issue statement on Syria: Mansour

August 29, 2011 04:12 PM

http://www.dailystar.com.lb/News/Politics/2011/Aug-29/Arab-League-did-not-agree-to-issue-statement-on-Syria-Mansour.ashx

BEIRUT: The Arab League statement on Syria issued over the weekend had not been agreed upon during the body’s meeting in Cairo, Lebanese Foreign Minister Adnan Mansour said.

“The statement issued by the secretariat was not discussed during the meeting and was not agreed upon,” Mansour said in remarks published by the daily Al-Liwaa Monday.

He said the meeting in Cairo ended in an agreement that no statement would be issued by the Arab League and that no statements would be given to the media, although the league had discussed means to end the unrest in Syria, without intending to “meddle in Syrian internal affairs.”

Mansour said that after his return to Beirut he was “surprised by the secretariat’s statement.”

The minister denied that Lebanon was distancing itself from the statement as a result of Damascus’ position, adding that it was merely an “explanation of what had happened.”

“The Lebanese position is not a question of harming or conforming with the Syrian position,” the minister was quoted as saying, adding that his comments were not intended to “cause a divide in Lebanon, or a dispute with anyone, but were only intended as an explanation.”

Syria rejected Sunday the statement made overnight by the 22-member Arab League, in which it called for an “end to the spilling of blood and [for Syria] to follow the way of reason before it is too late,” and also agreed to send Arab League Secretary-General Nabil al-Arabi.

The league also called for respecting “the right of the Syrian people to live in security and of their legitimate aspirations for political and social reforms.”

Arabi now awaits permission from Syria before he can travel to the country.

Thumb up 4 Thumb down 2

August 29th, 2011, 4:02 pm

 

19. Khalid Tlass said:

The new generation of Sunni Arabs – those who were born after 1980 – can never come to terms with the constant harking back to allaged Sunni intolerance during times gone by. We as young Sunni Arabs, have witnessed us getting marginalised in Syria and Lebanon, thrown out of power and ethnic-cleansed in Iraq, while the situation of Palestinian Sunnis hasn’t improved one bit, the power of Sunni regional powers gradually wane in the face of aggressive Iran-Hezbollah-Iraq-Assad axis, etc. We feel much the same way as young South African Whites born after 1994 feel, or perhaps White Alabamans and Texans and Georgians felt from 1864 till the next 2 decades. We though understand that through our 1,500 years of history, Sunnis – especially Sunni Arabs – have not endeared ourselves to anyone. That being said,m it is the very same Ottoman Sunni elte in Syria, who used to oppress the ‘Alawis and made them into serfs – who are today the Regime’s biggest and most loyal Sunni allies. That is a fact which any Syrian Sunni can attest.

Thumb up 6 Thumb down 11

August 29th, 2011, 4:04 pm

 

20. majedkhaldoon said:

There is the possibility that the demonstrations will get less and less,since the army is increasingly involved in the crackdown,Did the regime use all his potential in suppressing these demonstrations?, the answer is clearly NO.the regime has not used airforce yet,if and when the airforce is used expect the casulaties to multiply,the demonstrations will subside considerably, what do we do next?
Arming syrians is a must to face such situation.

Thumb up 4 Thumb down 12

August 29th, 2011, 4:18 pm

 

21. Khalid Tlass said:

5 undercover Hizbollah terrorists were caught by the people in Rastan, trying to do reconaissance for the Besho brigades.

They won’t be going home.

Thumb up 9 Thumb down 11

August 29th, 2011, 4:24 pm

 

22. Tara said:

Why

I still have the “gift” I have once said on SC I have for you for the Eid, a one of a kind picture of Asma and her husband Besho sent to me by a contact from Damascus.  I asked you then to buy an elegant frame so it matches your perception of Besho being “young, smart, modern, and pragmatic”, qualities I was never able to see .  I still remember the photo you posted of “relaxed” Besho and Asma rolling the Syrian flag that you send me then.  Besho ain’t relaxed anymore.  He looked pretty tense during his last “un” historic interview.  I think he is worried about his future.   I have kept the picture hoping you may come back to SC as you have stated before.  I have no “affection” toward this couple and this picture will be discarded.  Happy Eid to you.   

Thumb up 5 Thumb down 12

August 29th, 2011, 4:25 pm

 

23. Afram said:

واختير برهان غليون رئيسا للمجلس وثلاثة نواب له هم فاروق طيفور ووجدي مصطفى ورياض سيف، ولم يعلم غليون بتعيينه الا بعد الاعلان وتفاجأ بما جرى ههههههههههة، في حين قال الأعضاء الـ 42 المنتخبين من الداخل على حد قول المؤتمرين المعلنين إن ما جرى انتقاص لثورة الشارع.
“إيلاف” تنشر تصريح بعض من كتب عن المجلس من الأعضاء.
المعارض لؤي حسين يقول “كل تحركات وظهورات المعارضة السورية لم تسفر عن تشكل بديل فعلي مقنع وموثوق للشعب السوري أو للخارج الدولي. وهذا ليس بسبب متانة السلطة، بل يعود لعجز ذاتي عند جميع الأطراف المعارضة عن مضاهاة السلطة”هههههههههة.
المعارض ياسين الحاج صالح والذي ذكر أسمه في المجلس المعلن: “لا أتنصل من عمل عام، لكن لا أجد طريقة تشكيل المجلس الوطني الانتقالي جدية أو مقبولة. ليس معقولا أن تختار جهة لا نعرف من هي أسماء، وتضع رؤيا وبرنامجا، وتقول تفضلوا اشتغلوا، وإلا فأنتم تخذلون الثورة، وعليكم أن تبروا أنفسكم أمام الشعب السوري!”
وأضاف: “سيتسبب في توترات ومنازعات من حيث هو يتطلع إلى التوحيد والفاعلية. ليس هكذا ننصر الثورة يا إخوان!”.ههههههههههة
سهير الأتاسي: يا غافل إلك الله..!! ماذا يحدث؟ ومن انتخب؟ وما هي آلية الانتخاب؟هههههههههههههة~افلام هندية
المعارض السوري محمد العبد الله:”هاتفت والدي منذ قليل وسألته عن “المجلس الوطني الانتقالي السوري” وقال إنه لا علاقة له به!! رأيي أن هذه المسخرة التي قام بها بعض الأولاد تسيء كثيراً إلى العمل الوطني! حشر الأسماء بهذه الطريقة ودون سؤال الناس وإحراجها بعبارة “من لا يقبل فهو ضد الثورة” أمر معيب جداَ ولا يمت لأخلاق السوريين بصلة!هههههههههة طز في هيك معارضة
المعارض السوري حكم البابا :”لمن سألني واتصل بي مستفسراً عمن يقف وراء تشكيل ما سمي بالمجلس الانتقالي السوري أجيبهم بأن آل سنقر منظمي مؤتمر أنطاليا هم من يقفون وراءه..”اصابيع البوبو يا خيار
الهيئة العامة للثورة السورية قالت في بيان صادر عنها اليوم:
فوجئنا بما تناقلته وسائل الإعلام العربية والعالمية عن إعلان ما سُمّى بالمجلس الوطني الانتقالي صادراً من جهة غير معلومة في أنقرة، وحيث أنه تمّ ذكر اسم الهيئة العامة للثورة السورية ضمن الجهات التي تمّت مشاورتها والتنسيق معها في هذا المجلس، فإننا نعلن للجميع أنه لا علاقة للهيئة لا من قريب ولا من بعيد بهذا المجلس، ولم يتمّ التنسيق معنا في تشكيلته أو الترتيب له.
وأضافت “إن هذه الطريقة في الإعلان عن المجلس والتي تعتمد تلفيق الأسماء بدون علم أصحابها وبدون التشاور معهم لا يمكن أن تبني عملاً صحيحاً وأساساً متيناً للثورة السورية، وهذه الارتجالية في العمل لا تؤدي إلا لتعقيد الأمور بصورة أكبر”.
وتابعت: “وحيث أن الهيئة تقوم منذ فترة بالعمل على مبادرة لتوحيد الجهود في الداخل والخارج، وبالتشاور مع جميع الثوار، فإننا نرى أن ما أُعلن عنه اليوم هو تشتيت للجهود وزرع الخلاف”.
وختم البيان “إننا في الهيئة العامة للثورة السورية نرفض هذه الطريقة في التعاطي السياسي والوطني، وسوف نعلن اليوم مبادرتنا المتعلقة بتوحيد الجهود من أجل السير بالثورة نحو برّ الانتصار”.
يبقى القول إن ما جرى يلقى سخطا وسخرية كبيرة من كثير من السوريين على صفحات الفيسبوك والتويتر حتى أن أحدهم قال معلقا على جملة يا غافل إلك الله “قد أفيق صباحا وأجد نفسي رئيسا”.
هههههههههههههههههههههههههههههههههههههه
رئيس المعارضة السوري بتاع الفلافل البهلولية جحا ابو لحية ابو سنان صفراء

Thumb up 8 Thumb down 8

August 29th, 2011, 4:26 pm

 

24. Tara said:

Majedkhaldoon

The youth leaders on the ground need to play it smart. When they realize that the crackdown is succeeding in silencing the demonstrators due to the mere fact of it’s policy of killing and imprisoning our finest and bravest, then they have no choice other than declaring changing the course to armed resistance. They are the one who should make that decision and all external opposition should then rally behind them and give them the support they need.

Thumb up 4 Thumb down 13

August 29th, 2011, 4:31 pm

 

25. BEAWARE PLUS said:

JOSHUA LANDIS: SYRIA EXPERT, ASSAD APOLOGIST

By James Kirchick – The New Republic (link by subscription only)

In February, Vogue published a profile that quickly became one of the most notorious magazine pieces in recent memory. The world-famous fashion title devoted six full-color pages to Asma Al Assad, the “glamorous, young, and very chic,” wife of Syrian dictator Bashar Al Assad, who, over the past five months, has killed upwards of 2,000 fellow Syrians protesting his authoritarian rule. Media critics and Vogue readers alike pilloried the magazine, and its editors eventually erased it from their online archives. But if Vogue was too embarrassed to stand by the piece, there was one figure willing to defend it: Professor Joshua Landis, Director of the Center for Middle East Studies at the University of Oklahoma. Writing on his blog, “Syria Comment,” Landis ridiculed The Atlantic’s Max Fisher and Jeffrey Goldberg, both of whom had criticized the profile, labeling them “big supporters of Israel.” “Doubtlessly,” Landis asserted, “they would be gratified to see a positive report of Israel’s first lady even though Israel has killed, wounded, and imprisoned without trial many more of its subjects in the last 10 years than Syria has.” Landis then praised the dictator’s wife, writing, “The fact is that Asma al-Assad is doing good things in Syria.”

Of course, Landis’s thoughts on the Assad regime would be inconsequential were he some obscure figure in the world of Middle East studies. But Landis is perhaps the most oft-cited expert on Syrian politics, who, largely through his blog, has created a perch for himself in the minds of many as a dispassionate observer of events on the ground. Nearly every day since the unrest began, he has been quoted by at least one international news organization; a page on his website, “Landis in the News,” features countless citations by outlets including The New York Times, Voice of America, CNN, Al Jazeera, the Financial Times, and National Public Radio. As the Syrian people courageously challenge the regime that has ruled over them for nearly five decades, it’s worth asking why anyone continues to take Landis seriously.

WHEN PROTESTS BROKE out in Syria this past March, Landis—who has lived in Syria at various points over the years and who is married to the daughter of a retired admiral in Assad’s navy—was quick to predict that they would never reach the scale of those in other Arab countries. “Western accounts of the protest movement in Syria have been exaggerated,” he wrote for Foreign Policy magazine on April 5. As the demonstrations grew in size and intensity across the country, however, Landis shifted the focus of his analysis to a defense of the regime and an attack on its opponents.

As evidence of Syrian atrocities became impossible to deny, for instance, Landis suggested that Assad could not be held responsible for the actions of his military. In an article for Time published on March 25, the day that dozens of people were killed in the Syrian city of Daraa, Landis wrote, “Even President Bashar al-Assad himself seems to have been shocked by the level of violence used by Syria’s security forces to suppress demonstrations that began a week ago,” implying that Assad was unaware of what his security forces, headed by his own brother, were doing.

In addition, Landis has—despite mounting evidence compiled over a series of months—persisted in denying that the Syrian regime has carried out a policy of killing soldiers who refuse to fire on unarmed civilians. These allegations first emerged in early April, when ordinary citizens began telling journalists of the practice. “Security forces were responsible for killing soldiers in Banias because they had refused to attack the city,” Yasser, a shopkeeper in the city, told AFP in a story published April 12. Other witnesses said the same thing to the BBC and Al Jazeera. The Syrian government, for its part, confirmed that nine soldiers were killed, but said that they had been “ambushed” by “armed gangs,” a claim that Landis defended in a lengthy post on his blog.

Then, in early June, when videos emerged on the internet purporting to depict the Syrian military killing soldiers who refused to open fire on unarmed civilians, the official Syrian government news agency SANA claimed that footage of such attacks was actually created by members of “terrorist groups” who had dressed in military uniforms and filmed themselves committing atrocities so as to “manipulate the photos and videos and distort the reputation of the army.” The New York Times paraphrased Landis as saying that “the government’s version of events was possible. All Syrian men, he said, must perform military service, and even those who were no longer in the reserves might still have their old uniforms.”

Finally, in July, a series of defectors from the Syrian military confirmed to international media outlets and independent human rights organizations what others had been saying for months: that they had been ordered to kill fellow soldiers who refused to fire on unarmed protestors. Human Rights Watch interviewed a group of defectors who, rather than carry out illegal orders, fled the country. Abu Hamid, a 23-year veteran of the Syrian military, told a similar story to a Newsweek correspondent in Beirut. Another former conscript told AFP that the regime placed snipers on the roofs of buildings in the city of Homs and that, “when the soldiers do not shoot, they shoot the soldiers down.” Yet Landis continues to deny the overwhelming evidence. “So far, no evidence has surfaced to demonstrate that Syrian military have shot their fellow soldiers for refusing to carry out orders,” he wrote as late as August 3. “Most evidence supports government statements that armed opposition elements have been shooting security personnel.”

And then there’s the case of Hamza al-Khateeb, whose fate, recorded in a grisly video broadcast on the internet, inspired massive outpourings into the streets. The regime is reported to have apprehended the 13-year-old boy, castrated him, burned him alive while torturing him to death, and then dumped his mutilated corpse on his family’s doorstep. But while posting near daily, voluminous defenses of the Syrian regime, Landis saw fit to mention this catalytic incident only twice. The first time was in a “News Round Up,” which cited, among other items, a Syrian state television report that the dead boy’s family, after meeting with Assad, said that the president “engulfed us with his kindness and graciousness” and that “the president considered Hamza his own son and was deeply affected.” The second was a mere paragraph arguing that the Syrian regime will resist calls for an international inquiry into the murder because to do so would bring “the country down the slippery slope of foreign investigative teams for every conflagration.”

As for what the outside world should do about Syria, Landis’s mantra has always been precisely that of the regime: Don’t pressure Damascus, but instead work with it to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian issue. “The one positive [thing] America can do, I think, to promote democracy in Syria and the entire region is to put to bed these borders that are un-established between Lebanon, between Syria, and between the Palestinians,” he said at a Brookings Institution event in 2006
On August 2, after the Syrian army launched its final assault on the city of Hama (in which it reportedly killed over 100 people), and as the United Nations Security Council debated whether to sanction the regime, Landis told the Russian propaganda channel RT, “We’ve tried sanctions in Iraq, in Iran, in Libya. They haven’t worked very much, and when they have worked, they starved the people and not the government.” Landis even looks askance at mere symbolic gestures of support for peaceful demonstrators. In July, after U.S. Ambassador Robert Ford visited Hama and was greeted by cheering crowds bearing olive branches, Landis derided the ambassador’s “antics.”

Of course, Landis is too sophisticated to serve as an uncritical mouthpiece of the regime. He posts messages from the Syrian opposition on his blog, and not all his comments are completely offensive. In March, for instance, he told the Toronto Star, “It’s true that Bashar and his wife (banker Asma Assad) have been working for economic reform,” while also adding, “They present a nice image … but in a regime that is dictatorial.”

However, as the first part of the Toronto Star quote suggests, Landis, though acknowledging the need for “reform,” has faith in the ability of Assad to carry it out himself. Moreover, Landis argues that the country is highly “sectarian” and, thus, many Syrians prefer the “order” provided by Assad to the “democracy” they see in Lebanon and Iraq. “There isn’t self-confidence on the part of the Syrian people, if you will, that they can manage their affairs,” he said recently on France 24. “And this is where the government steps forward and says I’m not going to bring you democracy, but I’m going to bring you order, and there are still many people that cling to that because of the fear.” In this way, Landis portrays Assad as a benevolent dictator, who, however authoritarian, must be so to keep the country’s various confessional groups from killing one another. “In no small part this coexistence is due to the stability that the Assad family has enforced in Syria and to the vision of tolerance and secularism they have promoted,” he has written.

As the Syrian government murders more of its own citizens with each passing day, Landis’s message has gone from analytically inaccurate to morally perverse. In 2006, Landis dismissed the idea that the United States should “tighten the screws on Damascus to the point that the regime collapses or internal rebellion is sparked.” “We have learned,” he argued, “that using violence as a policy tool can backfire.” Maybe he should tell that to the Syrian regime.

James Kirchick is a contributing editor for The New Republic- August 19, 2011

Thumb up 9 Thumb down 9

August 29th, 2011, 4:37 pm

 

26. Khalid Tlass said:

Majed Khaldoon,

The regime cannot and will not use the AIr Force, there are several reasons –

1. Most of the pilots are Sunnis from the urban areas. The regime has always distrusted the flight crews of the Air Force (remember the 1982 attempted coup by some Air Force officers). The loyalty of the Air Force has always been questionable ( the even more embarassing defection of a Mig-23 to Israel in 1987). Because of this the Mukhabarat al Jawwiyah has been made the most powerful and cruel of all the intelligence agencies.

2. Because of this, the regime has terribly neglected the Air Force. 80% of the inventory consists of Mig-21 and Mig-23 alongwith Su-24, which are known as “flying coffins” in the Air Force, i.e, there is a high chance that these planes will crash 5-6 minutes after take-off. Also Papa Assad knew that there was no chance of establishing air superiority over Israel, hence he starved it of funds, equipmemnt and training.

3. Egven if the regime takes recourse to the Air Force (highly unlikely), it will be a disaster and basically like digging its own grave. If the regime starts bombing its own people, the international community and Turkey/KSA will be forced to act and declare a no-fly-zone, which would eventually pave the way for military intervention. UNSC and Russia will lose any excuse it has to block a resolution.

It is becayse of this scenario that the regime is not using the Air Force. However it has been using the helicopter gunships and Attack Helcopters attached with the Republican Guard with some regularity – in Idlib province and in the bordering areas of Lebanon.

Also, if you want to arm the people to defend themsleves against helicopters/aircraft, then simple AK 47 or RPG will not do. They have to be armed with anri-aircraft weapons like DsHk heavy machine guns and shoulder-fired MANPADS and SAMS like Stingers, SA-7(Strela-2), Strela-3 (SA-14 Gremlins), SA-14 and Igla. These weapons are very expensive and difficult to acquire and to smuggle into the country. Plus they require a bit of training to operate perfectly. I’m all for a well-trained well-armed guerilla group like the Hizbullah and the Chechen Mujahideen that can reallu kick Shabbih ass, but your plan is a bit far-fetched.

Thumb up 7 Thumb down 9

August 29th, 2011, 4:44 pm

 

27. Ghat Al Bird said:

James Kirchick might be interested in the following:

Support for Israel has been another strong theme in The New Republic. According to Martin Peretz, owner of TNR, “Support for Israel is deep down an expression of America’s best view of itself.”

According to CUNY journalism professor, Eric Alterman, “Nothing has been as consistent about the past 34 years of TNR as the magazine’s devotion to Peretz’s own understanding of what is good for Israel…It is really not too much to say that almost all of Peretz’s political beliefs are subordinate to his commitment to Israel’s best interests, and these interests as Peretz defines them almost always involve more war.”

Thumb up 4 Thumb down 3

August 29th, 2011, 5:01 pm

 

28. Akbar Palace said:

A few additional thoughts…

- Happy Eid to all

Is this the holiday where goats are slaughtered? On a trip to Turkey, a few years back, we saw animals killed in the streets. I think they called it kurban beyrami?

- Alex/Professor Josh, thanks for getting my post through moderatiom

- Afram: I didn’t quite get the t’fadal xlation. Is it just “welcome”? Or maybe It’s like the hebrew “shum davar (it’s nothing)”. I need another usage example

- Revlon – thanks for the answers. Makes sense to me. I don’t expect a European-style democracy. The important thing is a strong, independant judicial branch of the government. Also, I would expect Arab countries to support the Palis, but I would hope the new Syrian govt would play a more constructive role to bring the parties together in negotiations.

- Mjabali, don’t tell Mr. Aboud, but I think “General Cheese” is kinda funny;). And why do you think Aboud hates Alawis? FYI, I have yet to read anything anti-Jewish or pro-nazi from Aboud.

Thumb up 3 Thumb down 6

August 29th, 2011, 5:02 pm

 

29. hsyrian said:

Peaceful protesters in Syria

An armed group on Monday kidnapped Attorney General Adnan Bakkour in Hama while he was heading to his work on Kfarnbouda-Karnaz road, along with his driver Bahaa al-Yousef and bodyguard Mohammad Sadrawi.

SANA quoted Hama Police Command as saying that Judge Bakkour and his companions were kidnapped upon their arriving to Karnaz village, where they were intercepted by seven gunmen with rifles and machine guns.

The gunmen were in a Toyota pickup with a trunk and a Mazda bus, leading them to an unknown place.

Terrorist al-Yousef confesses to killing and mutilating body of a law-enforcement member

Terrorist Yousef Shaalan al-Yousef, one member of a terrorist armed group, confessed to perpetrating a crime and mutilating a body of a law-enforcement member in Deir Ezzor.

“I work in a supermarket in Zeir Ezzor… we were sitting in the alley when we heard a sound of heavy shootings… we were informed that there was a police member… I went along with a group… we hit the house with dynamite and gun bullet and set the house ablaze,” terrorist al-Yousef told the Syrian TV in his confessions.

He added ” we stormed the house, got on the rooftop, we saw a man hiding there… we threw the man from the rooftop into the street where the other members of the group stabbed him with knifes and cleavers till he was dead.”

Al-Yousef went on to say that when the terrorist group found the man dead, they began chopping his body and mutilating it in a brutal way without mercy.

The Syrian TV earlier this day broadcast scenes of this brutal crime which stresses that the armed terrorist groups carry out acts of killings, mutilating the bodies and sabotaging private and public properties.
http://www.sana.sy/eng/337/2011/08/29/366700.htm

Disclaimers

You did not answer my little academic question :

” How many ( 5000 ? ) INNOCENT victims has been killed by the terrorists of the Muslim Brotherhood between 1976 and 1982 until the Syrian Army terminated the Islamist armed uprising in Hama and the Islamist terrorist actions stopped in Syria.”

Including the slaughter of ( > 83 ) cadets at the Aleppo Artillery School in 16 June 1979.
Including the murder of the rector of Damascus University, Dr. Muhammad al-Fadl, killed in February 1977
Including the murder of the doyen of Syrian dentists, Dr Ibrahim Na’ama, killed in March 1978

Thumb up 13 Thumb down 7

August 29th, 2011, 5:12 pm

 

30. sf94123 said:

It did not take long!

Libya Ex-Islamic terrorist leader heads Tripoli Military Council

http://www.digitaljournal.com/article/310883

Like it or not! Dialogue is the only way to move forward in Syria.

Thumb up 8 Thumb down 3

August 29th, 2011, 5:27 pm

 

31. Abu Umar said:

28. hsyrian said:

How many tens of thousands of Syrians, Lebanese, and Palestinians were slaughtered by your regime so it could maintain it’s grip on power? Hafez didn’t come to power with a bouquet of flowers, but the sword.

Thumb up 5 Thumb down 12

August 29th, 2011, 5:28 pm

 

32. True said:

“Sunnis should offer their apologies” this is bloody absurd!! apology my ….. go get a lollipop CHUCK it IN your month in keep SUCKING on it for looooong

In return you bloody Menhebeks should offer an apology and compensation for all the visual pollution of Hafez, Basel, Besho, Maher …ect portraits. Damn it I hate that big one @ the Damascus airport especially after a long flight!!

Thumb up 5 Thumb down 10

August 29th, 2011, 5:39 pm

 

33. True said:

@ Khalid Tlass, Well done mate you’re on fire today :)

@ Tara, I agree leaders on ground should implement different tactics to keep the buzz on but it’s a bit early to arm the revolution. First of all we need to get the political representation issue sorted, we need one sole interface to represent the new Syria, then carry the guns and kick Assdaians to the airport or back to their mountains

Thumb up 3 Thumb down 9

August 29th, 2011, 5:47 pm

 

34. Tara said:

Dear Josh,

An apology at this time asked by “an Attasi” is a rediculous concept while Syrians, mostly Sunnis are being relentlessly slaughtered by this monstrous regime which is relying mostly on Alawis security, shabbeeha, and army thugs.

An apology ( if due, and I would like to hear the perception of an enlightened Alawi in that regard not a heresy by an Attasi’ grandparent) should only be considered after the revolution achieves victory.  The revolution goal is to achieve freedom and dignity to all regardless of their religion or sect.  There has been no single time where the youth leadership of the Syrisn revolution endorsed a sectarian language despite the regime many attempts to change the tone into sectarian one.

I here quote an Attasi  “My grandfather used to tell me that in Homs, the Alawites were not even allowed to walk the sidewalks, they needed to be on the street like the rest of the animals.”  At this day and age, there is no room for a “heresy” by a grandparent.  While I do not claim being a historian or even a Syrian expert, the statement above is not a known fact at least to me having been born and raised in Syria till I was 21.  My impression from many posts written by Alawis to SC and I quote Habib, that Alawis were not particularly persecuted by Sunnis. He I believe even went to say that it was the occupation whether Ottoman of French that made Alawis suffer and rendered them poor.  It was their poor economic status that forced their daughters into labor at Sunni families not their ” heretic status”.

I do reject other commentators posts in regard to average Sunni views of Alawis as ” country pumpkin” being myself an average Sunni, a friend and a student of dear and sincere Alawi friends and mentors.

I urge Alawis on SC to give us their own family perception of “persecution” by majority Sunnis before “papa Assad” took power so at least we, the average Sunnis,  understand the “others” point of view. 
  
If indeed an apology is due, for subjugation committed by our great great grandparents, I personally have no problem offering one, but only after we are no longer being slaughtered by this regime.

Thumb up 3 Thumb down 14

August 29th, 2011, 5:54 pm

 

35. Afram said:

27.Haver Akbar Palace:
T,fadal
if you are at a bus stop and someone said to you T,fadal,he/she meant to say>go ahead…hebrew i guess B,VAKASHA KADIMA

if you were at my house and i make some coffee,I say T,fadal
,its like saying go ahead have some coffee…B,VAKASHA TISHTEH CAFE

welcome/AHLAN WA SAHLAN…AKOL BISADER HAVER AKBAR
ATA GAR B,ERETZ
ANI MI EER ATIQA/YORSHOLIEM
ANI AYEETI MI-DABER AVREET MITSA-YON,SHAKHAKHTEE HARBEH ADONI AKBAR…SHALOM LITRA,OUGHT….ATA MOUVEEN MA ANI KATAVTI B,AVREET?

Thumb up 3 Thumb down 8

August 29th, 2011, 5:55 pm

 

36. Aboud said:

Hey guys, get a load of this gem of menhebak stupidity. I quote Mjahali from the previous post

“Also, You never answer the question if you are getting paid from the dollars G.W Bush put to fight al-Assad?”

ROFL!!!!!!!! Hahahaha, oh my God these guys do all the work for me :)

Thumb up 6 Thumb down 12

August 29th, 2011, 5:57 pm

 

37. Majhool said:

Unfortunately what Atassi claims to be true is not backed by any substantial historical evidence.

I think some members of this previously prominent family exaggerate the marginalization of Alawites to emphasis that they once were prominent.

Its some personal sickness that only those know the Atassis well can attest to

Thumb up 7 Thumb down 4

August 29th, 2011, 6:00 pm

 

38. Khalid Tlass said:

Akbar Palace – This is Eid al Fitr. Goats and cows are slaughtered in Eid al-Adha after the completion of the Hajj rituals.

Being an Israeli, why don;t you cross the border into West Bank or Gaza and see for yourself the practices of Muslims, instead of having misconceptions, why don;t you guys socialize with the Palestinian Muslims in Gaza ? The border is open.

Thumb up 7 Thumb down 8

August 29th, 2011, 6:01 pm

 

39. Khalid Tlass said:

I know Aboud and SGID support the Atassis, but here is my question –

What do you think of Ba’athists like General Louay al-Atassi and Noureddin al-Atassi ?

Marginalization/dehumanization of Alawis may have been a case among elte rcih Sunnis in Aleppo and Homs, but they by no means constitute the entire Syrian Sunni Arab population.

Also, Dr. Landis and others, what was the sort of discrimination faced by Alawis before 1963, during the reign of Hashim al-Atassi, General al-Shishakli, Fawzi Selu, Shukri Quwwatli, etc ? I want to hear some solid evidence showing State discrimination against the Alawis from 1946 till 1963.

Hilarious, must watch :lol:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y0latXgqJFY

Defection of an anti-regime demonstrator

Thumb up 6 Thumb down 10

August 29th, 2011, 6:03 pm

 

40. Aboud said:

Sho habibi? The Sunnis owe the turds of Qurdaha an apology? In your dreams meti snorter. After all this is over, half of Qurdaha is going to be put on war trials, and the other half is going to run to Spain, where two Athad cousins are going to marry each other in two weeks LOL! Friggin inbreds.

Hehehe, I’m still laughing at this

“Also, You never answer the question if you are getting paid from the dollars G.W Bush put to fight al-Assad?”

LOL! Oh dear God, do the menhebaks even comprehend what they say sometimes?

Thumb up 5 Thumb down 12

August 29th, 2011, 6:05 pm

 

41. Khalid Tlass said:

Aboud, we should use the Air Force to drop cluster bombs on Qurdaha. Or maybe we can use the regime’s own stock of chemcial weapons….mustard gas, anyone ?

And don;t expect me to apologize for this remark….people from Qurdaha have ordered the, levelling of entire cities, shooting upon Mosques, killing upon children. I more than expect the moderators to overlook the innumerable complaint reports likely to emanate from this post.

Thumb up 4 Thumb down 13

August 29th, 2011, 6:16 pm

 

42. Husam said:

Tara:

My mother tells me that maids, 50 years ago, were predominantely (not exlusively) Alawis. Perhaps she is wrong. That in itself doesn’t mean that they deserve an apology or that they were abused. They came from the country side and were less educated and less fortunate than city dwellers.

Thumb up 9 Thumb down 5

August 29th, 2011, 6:17 pm

 

43. mjabali said:

Secularism is the way.

Read Attasi’s post again and again.

We need to stick together if we want to survive this and cause real change.

Secularism is what is going to keep us together, otherwise, with this bloodshed and the fools calling for more of it, Syria is going to break apart.

Secularism is what is going to bring the law and order we all need.

Religions are meant to break Syrians apart.

If you want ONE Syria: form a secular party and cause real change. al-Assad has nothing but force to show for and as we are seeing he is using the religious factor to his ends.

What is the solution when we have a weak, and unorganized opposition: So, why not play the political game and form parties asap and force elections. What is wrong with you people, can’t you see it? Why all from same political views form parties? what is wrong with that? There are tanks on the streets and some people are still calling for more confrontations: enough of this and let us head to the ballot boxes.

This is one fast way, faster than what you think.

But, all of us should agree that religion and state do not mix. They are going to cause fights as you see from this one board. It is religion that is causing the biggest of rifts amongst the people of the same country.

Human rights, freedom of speech, assembly, forming parties, press, ….etc are not going to come unless we have a true secular state.

Equality between all will never be achieved if you do not have a secular state.

This change is not going to happen until WE ALL are in for it, one way or another.

Thumb up 19 Thumb down 2

August 29th, 2011, 6:22 pm

 

44. Aboud said:

And FYI, I don’t give a rat’s ass if I get a reputation as the biggest Alawite hater on the planet.

Do the meti snorters seriously think I give a damn about the opinions of thugs who beat up a cartoonist, beat up a shiekh, go ass up and squat on the ground to kiss the picture of the biggest failure of an eye doctor ever, and call him God?

If the war criminal menhebaks happen to be Alawites, then that’s the problem of the Alawite sect, to be saddled with Angry Ladies who want to nuke the Arab world and who pigs out at the trough of Neocon and Zionist money.

I do not sugar coat my utter contempt for the menhebaks. They deserve no niceties, and have not earned a shred of respect, especially with lines like this;

“Also, You never answer the question if you are getting paid from the dollars G.W Bush put to fight al-Assad?”

LOL! I am never letting Mjahali forget that one. In one line he encapsulates the menhebak propensities for conspiracies, poor debating skills, and complete and utter obliviousness to how ridiculous the things they do and say make them look.

Quuuruuuud walllaQQQ! WaalllaaaQ Qoool la ra’esQQQQQon eQQQQ3ood 3aQQQQQeeeel WallaQ. Understand?

@42 Khaled. Dear Lord, I’m shocked at the suggestion. No, they must be given a free and fair trial…..LOL! *wink wink*

Thumb up 5 Thumb down 13

August 29th, 2011, 6:25 pm

 

45. Aboud said:

@44 “Secularism is the way. ” But according to your Besho, who the menhebaks call God, the secularists can go take a hike. Tsk tsk, will we be seeing any words of condemnation from you against junior?

“What is wrong with you people, can’t you see it? ”

If Syrians aren’t athiest, stop trying to shove atheism down their throats. Or how are you any different from the Saudis with their religious police?

“Also, You never answer the question if you are getting paid from the dollars G.W Bush put to fight al-Assad?”

Uh yeah, Bush paid me to set up a Salafi state in Syria LOL! Lack of religion also, apparently in some people, seems to indicate a lack of common sense as well.

Thumb up 5 Thumb down 12

August 29th, 2011, 6:29 pm

 

46. Real Syrian said:

Prof Landis
Congratulation as you have been announced to be SHABEEH by Subhy Hadedy one of the terrorist writers who spreads his poisons in Alqudes Alararbi news paper in London which is owned by the terrorist Abed Albary Atwan
( كان بريماكوف الوجه العلني لشخصية ‘مكسيم’، الاسم المستعار لرجل الإستخبارات السوفييتية الأبرز في المنطقة، كما اتضح سنة 2000 من كشوفات المجلد الضخم ‘أرشيف متروخين: الـ KGB في أوروبا والغرب’. بيد أنّ مآلات بريماكوف الراهنة، السياسية والفكرية، تؤكد أنّ الرجل يعيش أطوار صيغة جديدة، لم يعد فيها مكترثاً حتى بالحفاظ على ذلك التوازن الخفي بين الظاهر والباطن. وأحدث الأمثلة هي تنظيراته الراهنة للإنتفاضات العربية، حيث يبدو تفكيره مطابقاً لذلك التشبيح الإستشراقي الذي يمارسه رهط الذين يعتبرون أنفسهم ‘خبراء شرق ـ أوسطيين’، من أمثال باتريك سيل وجوشوا لانديس وفلنت ليفريت)
the full article which I think it doesn’t deserves to be read
http://www.alquds.co.uk/index.asp?fname=today28qpt998.htm&arc=data201188-2828qpt998.htm

Thumb up 10 Thumb down 3

August 29th, 2011, 6:31 pm

 

47. mjabali said:

Tara:

Been telling you for ages, the discrimination against the Alawis comes from your belief that the Alawis are infidels/Kuffar.

There is no more evidence than discrimination than this. Most Sunnis in Syria and the Arab World believe in this and say the worst things in the world when it come to Alawis.

Did you read the Fatwa of Ibn Taymiyah and how he considers the Alawis the worst and do not deserve to live.

For around a thousand year and this Fatwa/decree was put into effect killing thousands of Alawis along the way emptying the cities from them and relegating them to mountains and sparse villages here and there. READ your history, and not mine, and see how many times your Sunni Armies went on a campaign against the infidel Alawis.

Until your religious “scholars” refute or at least debate this decree the Alawis are going to be looked upon with disdain by the Sunnis . Until their is an honest dialogue regarding this issue the Alawis are not going to feel safe at all.

The Decree of Ibn Taymiyah is the ultimate form of discrimination. If you can not see this there will always be rift.

Secularism will put all of these questions to rest.

Thumb up 12 Thumb down 8

August 29th, 2011, 6:38 pm

 

48. DIGGING FOR GOLD IN BOSRA said:

HUSAM / TARA

That’s correct Husam. Now ask your mother why she thinks one particular group of people were so poor? Why is it that we observe the same thing in Lebanon?

Why does the average black male in the US earn less than his white counterpart? It’s because they aren’t as well educated I hear you say. Ok, fine. But why is that? Tara, blacks weren’t considered ‘heretics’, but it didn’t stop them from being discriminated against. In Syria, this added religious dimension is of obvious importance. Just go to Hama or parts of Homs and ask people if they consider Alawites to be Muslims. Ask them if it is not the case that this current period of Alawite rule is nothing more than a soon to extinguished aberration.

Thumb up 8 Thumb down 5

August 29th, 2011, 6:38 pm

 

49. DIGGING FOR GOLD IN BOSRA said:

Spot on MJABALI!

Thumb up 8 Thumb down 2

August 29th, 2011, 6:40 pm

 

50. amal said:

Happy eid KHALID TLASS MY BOY! :)

Sa va mon petit CON?! :)

Thumb up 5 Thumb down 4

August 29th, 2011, 6:44 pm

 

51. Aboud said:

“For around a thousand year and this Fatwa/decree was put into effect killing thousands of Alawis along the way emptying the cities from them and relegating them to mountains and sparse villages here and there.”

Mjahali, this Fatwa is a thousand years old? So you think that any sane person is beholden to a fatwa made a thousand years ago? Are you really that paranoid and insecure? There was once a fatwa against going on hajj by airplane, do you think anyone except someone with menhebak-like intelligence would adhere to it?

No, people despise the regime because for over 40 years they have pillaged the country, and murdered their opponents in Syria, Lebanon, Jordan and Iraq.

There is not a single neighboring country that has not been targeted by Baathist terrorism. And if the regime happens to be filled with Alawis, then why didn’t the Alawis cleanse their ranks of these thugs? Maybe because some Alawis were also porking out of the same trough that the regime fed its supporter from.

You aren’t hated because you are beautiful. You are hated because of 40 years of murder and pillaging.

Now go ask Bush how much he pays me.

Thumb up 7 Thumb down 13

August 29th, 2011, 6:44 pm

 

52. True said:

Ohh poor Menhebkes now you’re going back 10000 years in the history to find a fatwa that legitimised killing of Alawis!!

Well take that there’s no need for old fatwas at all, we’ll gain Syria back and you will flee to your mountains. We will get the state back and you’ll go back to your land and finishing boats that’s if you survive Khaled’s cluster bomob!!

Jeez stop playing victims grow some balls and face the reality, your God Besho is taking you to the hell!!

Thumb up 3 Thumb down 16

August 29th, 2011, 6:52 pm

 

53. Aboud said:

Two Athad cousins are getting married in Spain. Of course, no one else would have them, the inbreds :)

Thumb up 8 Thumb down 12

August 29th, 2011, 6:55 pm

 

54. mjabali said:

General:

Blowing a fuse or something? Your friends at the debate club are going to be mad with you for blowing up like this. Take it easy General, we know you hate Alawis.

Bush gave money to the Syrian opposition and that is no conspiracy like your Zionist/Right Wing illusions. This is a fact. Money was given.

I was asking if you are one of those getting those dollar because you attacked Bush and the Republicans and it does not surprise me you could be unaware who is with you and who is against you as your habit? Just wondering?

Can you deny that the Republicans and G.W Bush helped the enemies of al-Assad?

Thumb up 13 Thumb down 2

August 29th, 2011, 6:55 pm

 

55. Real Syrian said:

The article which describes Jushua Landis , Patrick Seale,and other Middle East experts as SHABEEHA by one of the Syrian Terrorist writers
http://www.alquds.co.uk/index.asp?fname=today28qpt998.htm&arc=data201188-2828qpt998.htm

Thumb up 4 Thumb down 2

August 29th, 2011, 6:56 pm

 

56. mjabali said:

General:

The problem is that you still believe in this Fataw/decree?

Why are you afraid of debating this issue?

This Fatwa is the base of the Sunni beliefs towards the Alawis, so why not discuss it?

The Sunni Sheikhs and the Alawi Sheikhs plus the UN should monitor this important matter so we could all reach a Civilized Law to govern the relations you are going to have between the Alawis and the Sunnis?

Thumb up 13 Thumb down 2

August 29th, 2011, 7:00 pm

 

57. mjabali said:

Mr. Tough guy True:

Syria is going to be partitioned if your mode of thinking wins.

The Alawis are going to have their state and probably other minorities will join, like the Christians and Ismailis because of proximity.

The question here is not your tough guy stance, or that of al-Assad, but it is are we capable to live together or not?

If not, Syria is going to be divided.

Thumb up 15 Thumb down 3

August 29th, 2011, 7:04 pm

 

58. True said:

You bloody Menehbakes talking about harassments and discrimination, bloody hell go have a walk in Slaiabi or Ramil neighbourhoods in Lattakia or any Sunni neighbourhood in Syria and see who’s the oppressor here.

40 years of sucking our resources and blood, 40 years of demining everything but Alawi!! Simply your days are gone for good mates and all criminals will be locked up behind bars.

Blowing mosques in Ramadan!! Beating up Sheikhs!! Unleashing thugs and dogs in laylet Alqdar!!
How low can you go?!!

Thumb up 4 Thumb down 12

August 29th, 2011, 7:08 pm

 

59. beaware said:

Arab states seek end to Syria crisis
http://english.aljazeera.net/news/middleeast/2011/08/201182743723676965.html
Arab League’s secretary-general to head to Damascus in bid to mediate an end to months-long crackdown.

Arab League chief Nabil el-Arabi will head to Damascus bearing “an initiative to solve the crisis” in Syria, a statement said after a special meeting of Arab foreign ministers.

The ministers “asked the secretary-general of the Arab League to carry out an urgent mission to Damascus and transmit the Arab initiative to resolve the crisis to the Syrian leadership,” the statement said early on Sunday.

It did not give details of the initiative, but Al Jazeera has learned that some of the suggestions would include the holding of presidential elections, withdrawal of the army from the cities, the release of political prisoners and those rounded up in the protests, and the formation of a national unity government that includes members from the opposition.

The statement also called for an end to the bloodshed in Syria that opposition activists say has left more than 2,200 people dead and urged respect for the Syrian people’s right to see political, social and economic reforms.

The ministers expressed their “concern faced with the grave developments on the Syrian scene” and called in their statement for an “end to the spilling of blood and follow the way of reason before it is too late.”

The Arab League also said Syria’s stability was crucial to the stability of the Arab world and the whole region.

Inside the meeting hall, television screens showed footage of dead victims of the crackdown in the Syrian cities of Hama and Deir ez-Zor.

It was not clear when el-Arabi would visit Syria but sources told Al Jazeera that it was expected to happen as early as Sunday.

…..

New media law

On Sunday, President Assad issued a decree for a new media law, according to the state-run news agency SANA reports.

The law partly liberalises repressive legislation under which journalists faced jail for, among other things, attacking “the prestige and dignity of the state, national unity and the morale of the army.”

“There is an important article in the new law that bans the imprisonment of journalists. The law gives more freedom to have access to information, and officials will be obligated to provide information,” Elias Murad, head of the journalists’ union, told AFP.

Murad said the law did not put restrictions on journalists, “excluding issues related to the nation, enemy and national unity, which is natural.”

“It authorises citizens to open a newspaper or television station and obliges government officials and public institutions to provide information so journalists can ply their trade, while taking national imperatives into account,” Murad said.

However journalists can still face fines of up to $21,000 for defamation.

Thumb up 1 Thumb down 2

August 29th, 2011, 7:08 pm

 

60. Aboud said:

“the Sunnis certainly begrudge them their meteoric rise over the past 40 odd years.”

*facepalm*

Meteoric rise? Is that menhebak-speak for bloody coups, repression and the pillaging of a country for 40 years?

Alawites have as much cause to be “proud” of their rise as Bernie Madoff’s children have any right to be proud of daddy’s billions LOL!

Mjahali, did you know that Bush paid professor Landis to post SGID’s video?

Thumb up 7 Thumb down 8

August 29th, 2011, 7:18 pm

 

61. beaware said:

Is Syria at a tipping point?
Rick Moran August 28, 2011
http://www.americanthinker.com/blog/2011/08/is_syria_at_a_tipping_point.html
Residents of Damascus are telling western reporters that there are clashes going on between President Assad’s loyalist army forces and army defectors in a suburb of the capitol.

This is an entirely plausible scenario. Assad can only truly depend on one or two battalion sized armored units officered by Alawites and commanded by his brother in law. There are also about 5,000 fanatical Alawite militiamen who will stick with the dictator to the last.

But the bulk of the army is made up of Sunni conscripts. Therefore, it is not surprising that they would balk at firing into crowds of unarmed citizens. The potential for the bulk of the army to turn on Assad has always been there, and for the president, there is not greater nightmare he can imagine.

Reuters:

Forces loyal to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad fought gun battles overnight near a northeast Damascus suburb with army defectors who had refused to shoot at a pro-democracy protest, residents said on Sunday.

[...]

Dozens of soldiers defected and fled into al-Ghouta, an area of orchards and farmland, after pro-Assad forces fired at a large crowd of demonstrators near the Damascus suburb of Harasta to prevent them from marching on the capital, residents said.

“The army has been firing heavy machineguns throughout the night at al-Ghouta and they were being met with response from smaller rifles,” a resident of Harasta told Reuters by phone.

It was the first reported defection around the capital, where Assad’s core forces are based.

There have been defections before, but far outside the periphery. The fact these battles are taking place near Damascus could be the spark that causes mass defections and the inevitable end of Assad.

But don’t bet on it. The Alawites, a small minority in Syria, run the economy, have the best jobs, and get the plum military assignments. If Assad loses, they lose everything which is why they will fight fiercely to hang on to power.

Thumb up 2 Thumb down 3

August 29th, 2011, 7:23 pm

 

62. Haytham Khoury said:

The discrimination against Alawites and other minority groups (Isma’ili, Druze and Christians) started with the Mamluk rule and continued during the Ottmans. Of course, both of them Sunni. However, it is very simplistic and naive to say that the discrimination carried out by the Ottman and Mamluk against the minorities was because they are Sunni and the others are not. In order to understand the origin of this discrimination, we should understand that both dynasties were foreigners (both of them of Turkish origin). As usual every foreign invader (or rule), would use the rule of “divide and rule” and also will use selected locals to control the rest of the populace. Thus, the Mamluks invented (and the Ottman followed them) the feudal system through which they were able to control the general population. It was natural that almost all landlord would be of Sunni origin. These landlord not only ruled over the minorities (Alawites, Isma’ilis, Druzes and Christians), but also over the large Sunni population too.

All that was complicated by fact the minorities always tried to make alliances with other foreigners against the Mamluks and the Ottmans. Thus, the Alawites aligned with the Crusaders against the Mamluks and the Maronites (a Christian sect) aligned themselves with the Europeans against the Ottmans. In both examples the results were massacres committed against the Alawites and the Christians, consecutively.

During all this time, the mistake of the Sunni Arabs was not to separate themselves from the Sunni foreigners (Mamuluks and Ottmans). That was only happened after the Arabic Renaissance, which was indeed championed by the Christian Arabs. Then adopted by the Sunni Arab in reaction of the arise of the “Movement of Young Turks). That was culiminated by the liberation from the Ottmans in 1916.

All that created in the mind of the minorities that they were persecuted by the Sunni majority, which is a very simple conclusion to a more complex reality

(More analysis on sectarianism in Syria to follow)

Thumb up 2 Thumb down 10

August 29th, 2011, 7:24 pm

 

63. mjabali said:

General know it all:

Most Alawis are poor. Their areas are underdeveloped. al-Assad relied on certain tribes among them, and overall left them all underdeveloped so the ones working for him connect their destinies together with his.

Also instead of calling me Mjahali, can you make it Mjahili, it will convey your meaning and sound better.

Thumb up 9 Thumb down 7

August 29th, 2011, 7:28 pm

 

64. Aboud said:

Menhebak logic; Because Bush may have given some money to Syrian opposition groups 10 years ago, it is only logical to assume that Bush is giving money to the Syrian Revolution 2011.

As I recall, the USA supplied the Shah of Iran and Saddam with weapons at some point. By the simplistic Qurdaha logic the menhebaks seem to employ, that would mean that the USA is still giving arms to Iran and Saddam LOL!

Heck, we can go back even further than that. Turkey was allied with Germany in WW 1. That would automatically make Turkey an ally of Germany in WW 2. Menhebak “logic” at work

Mjahali, Bush paid Japan, Italy and Switzerland to withdraw their ambassadors :)

Thumb up 5 Thumb down 10

August 29th, 2011, 7:30 pm

 

65. manus said:

The Alawis MUST join this Syrian revolution: it may the “key” to a breakthrough? If they join, Syria will always be “united,” as everyone will have a shared experience in the revolution; everyone will be enfranchised. Take “ownership,” Alawites! Don’t wait any longer. Assad has lost all legitimacy since he has KILLED his own people; ergo, it is time for change.

Thumb up 5 Thumb down 10

August 29th, 2011, 7:35 pm

 

66. Tara said:

Haytham,Can you explain to me what made you enlightened compared to “minorities” on SC?

Mjabali, you have a psychological fixation on Ibn Taymiah that is really helpless. I am sorry but I truly think that nothing can be said or done to cure this fixation that you out of all minorities seem to have so why discuss?

Thumb up 7 Thumb down 9

August 29th, 2011, 7:38 pm

 

67. DIGGING FOR GOLD IN BOSRA said:

ABOUD

“Meteoric rise? Is that menhebak-speak for bloody coups, repression and the pillaging of a country for 40 years?”

No, mate it’s English for saying that they rose to power quickly. The phrase doesn’t carry any value judgements. Anything else?

Thumb up 5 Thumb down 8

August 29th, 2011, 7:48 pm

 

68. majedkhaldoon said:

Mjabali
Why did Sunni consider Alawis Kuffar, can you enlighten us about Alawi religion that Sunni made such claim.
Also why Bouti and Hasson do not follow that idea? arent they Sunni?
please be specific,do not answer in generality,Thanks

Thumb up 4 Thumb down 8

August 29th, 2011, 7:54 pm

 

69. some guy in damascus said:

@ Professor. Landis
it was no problem, im glad you find me a useful contributor to SC, and im more glad i got some facts with PROOF to back me up.
@aboud, syr.expat
thanks for the support guys,
@all,
tomorrow besho must pray in a public mosque, its a 3eed tradition. i think its going to be in a low-profile mosque, since hes scared . Maybe a demonstration will erupt in his face!
3eed mubarak(oops , sorry egyptians) sa3eed to all

Thumb up 7 Thumb down 8

August 29th, 2011, 7:56 pm

 

70. Haytham Khoury said:

I agree with mjabali that the Alawites are still the poorest community among the other religious communities. You can imagine how their situation was during the Mamluk and Ottmans eras. However, it is simplistic to explain that just in sectarian terms. Of course, that social inequality should be corrected without forgetting that some of Alawi “nouveaux rich” are taking everything from the rest of the population.

In Syria, we need to keep our religions and sects to our private practices and beliefs and to deal with each other as equal Syrian citizens.

Thumb up 4 Thumb down 9

August 29th, 2011, 7:56 pm

 

71. Abughassan said:

عيد فطر مبارك للجميع

Thumb up 2 Thumb down 6

August 29th, 2011, 8:04 pm

 

72. Akbar Palace said:

Afram,

Ani mavin. Toda. Ani gam medaber ktzat ivrit. Ata gar b’yerushalyim v’shekhakhta ledaber b’ivrit? Ekh ze? Ata is’raeli aravi?

I am not Israeli. I live in Amreeka. Ana amreeki-yahud. I lived in Israel for two plus years a long time ago. My ex is from Israel. Her mother was from Yemen and her father’s family was Syrian.

Khalid Tlass,

Thanks for explaining the Fitr/Ahda difference. I’ll Google to learn more. Years ago, I used to drive through Aza, Hebron, Ramallah.

Now it is illegal to enter these areas as they are self-governing statelets that are still very much at war with Israel. Also, although I love Israel, I am American and I love the US more. There are plenty of Israeli Arabs to chat with in Israel. They live and work everyday with Jews. They are coming together.

On a recent trip, we met a Druze family in a mountain town in the beautiful Galilee.

Thumb up 3 Thumb down 9

August 29th, 2011, 8:10 pm

 

73. Husam said:

I think Hytham is right.

Aboud, Attasi, True, Majedkhaldoon, Tara and all Sunnis:

I know you are all boiling now, so am I. But let’s face it two wrongs don’t make it right. We can not and should not marginalize Alawites, they are part and parcel of Syria. Not every Alawi is a criminal and I am sure some are scared shitless (as you can see some here SC). Eye for eye but for those that are “directly” responsible. And, I would like to hear from us Sunnis a call to spit in the face of those Sunnis who also have blood on their hands; there are several hundred wouldn’t you say?

Let’s speak the truth. Let’s not repeat mistakes of others. Although I find some of their beliefs strange (ok most of it)…but locals in N.America find Sunni’s rituals to them very strange, prostrating on a carpet (I wish I do daily), starving ourselves…etc.

Manus, I did see some Alawi Expats saying “not in my name” all over. However, it is not in Syria and it certainly has not reach its potential.

Thumb up 6 Thumb down 8

August 29th, 2011, 8:27 pm

 

74. majedkhaldoon said:

Husam said
I would like to hear from us Sunnis a call to spit in the face of those Sunnis who also have blood on their hands; there are several hundred wouldn’t you say?
Absolutely,saddam was one of them.

Thumb up 5 Thumb down 9

August 29th, 2011, 8:41 pm

 

75. Haytham Khoury said:

Dear mjabali:

I like very much the Allawi beliefs. They are a mixture between Christianity and Islam (I will elaborate on that later). When I was young, my father used to have a lot of Allawi friends. We used to celebrate the “Barbara”, “St. George” (al-Khodr) and Christmas with them.

You will find always people who would consider you infidel, but do not worry about that. That will diminish slowly slowly. For long, the Roman Christians considered the Armenians, the Syriac (Assyrian), the Coptic and Ethiopian Christians as infidels. Then Roman Orthodox and Roman Catholics considered each others as infidels. Then the Catholic and Protestants considered each other as infidels. The war between Protestants and Catholics lasted 100 years. As you can see the Europeans came to terms with only recently. I learned in France that nobody that you should not be intrusive about the people’s religious beliefs. Consequently, all religious beliefs should be respected.

Thumb up 5 Thumb down 9

August 29th, 2011, 8:44 pm

 

76. Husam said:

Majedkhaldoon:

Nice try, talk Syrian to me Bro… don’t give me Saddam or Saud shit to me.

Lak shoubak khief :)

Thumb up 7 Thumb down 5

August 29th, 2011, 8:48 pm

 

77. beaware said:

How Will Assad Fall?
Posted on Monday, August 29, 2011
by Elliott Abrams
http://blogs.cfr.org/abrams/2011/08/29/how-will-assad-fall/#more-1669
It is easy to say that with Qaddafi gone, the next vicious regime to fall is that of Bashar al-Assad in Syria. ‘Tis a consummation devoutly to be wished, but realists and pessimists have rightly asked “how exactly does that happen?”

That’s a fair question, because the Assad regime has yet to crack and none of the previous models—Tunisia, Egypt, and Libya—can work the same way in Syria. In my view, there are two possibilities that head the list.

One possibility is that the army will split, largely on sectarian lines. The New York Times reports today as follows:

There were reports that dozens of soldiers, possibly encouraged by the rout in Libya of Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi, had deserted their positions in a village near Homs, the country’s third-largest city, and also on the outskirts of the capital, Damascus, to join the five-month-old popular uprising against Mr. Assad and his Baath Party. Activists said that since the uprising started in mid-March, most such desertions have taken place in the eastern tribal area of Deir al-Zour, bordering Iraq; in the northwestern province of Idlib; and in towns around Homs and Damascus….The Free Officers of Syria, a group of soldiers and officers who left the army last month in protest of the crackdown and say that they now represent defectors, published an online statement saying that “large” defections were reported in Harasta, another suburb of Damascus and that armed troops loyal to the government were chasing those defectors.

There have been numerous other reports about defections in the Army (from Reuters, for example) but it is difficult to assess whether they have yet reached a significant size. If the demonstrations grow, I assume the numbers of defectors will grow as Sunni troops refuse to shoot peaceful and unarmed Sunni demonstrators.

But there is another possibility, that the Alawite “Establishment,” civilian and military, will remove Bashar from power in a kind of “palace coup.” This would only happen, I believe, if the economic and financial sanctions grow stronger and stronger and demonstrations continue. Removing Bashar might then appear to the Alawite generals and “business leaders” (i.e., Assad cronies) as the only way to settle things down and end the rebellion. They could call for some sort of government of national salvation, schedule elections, denounce Bashar, and send a new foreign minister to negotiate an end to the sanctions.

I doubt the demonstrators would accept such a cosmetic change, and we should reject it as well. It would mean the regime is beginning to collapse, and it would be very much in the interest of the United States for it to collapse entirely. We should not rescue it, nor any remnant of it.

There are other possibilities: perhaps the Sunni and Christian business community will turn against Assad if sanctions are tough enough, and will help bring him down. Perhaps over time hundreds of thousands will flee to Turkey, giving the Turks the incentive they need to bring Bashar down. All these possibilities make it clear that the pressure should be increased: more sanctions, more isolation, more denunciations of regime violence. Meanwhile we should be reaching out privately to the business community, Sunni, Christian, and Alawi, and to the generals to say it is time to switch sides and prepare for the post-Assad future. Change in Syria never had a chance of being a “velvet revolution” because of the brutality of the Assad clan, but anything the United States, the EU, and Arab allies can do to shorten the period of violence and bring change faster will be a great favor to the people of Syria.

Thumb up 0 Thumb down 9

August 29th, 2011, 8:52 pm

 

78. Abughassan said:

it is premature to draw conclusions from choosing Dr Galioun to be the president of the transitional council formed by the opposition,I am not even sure if this council will be THE council for the opposition,I certainly see it as a positive step that must be followed by the public release of a roadmap for the change proposed by the opposition.
Contacts with moderate elements in the army and community leaders seem to be a reasonable second step. The council will be DOA if it does not deliver a moderate and inclusive message that is peaceful at its core.
Galioun,as most of you know,is a secular alawi who is a bitter opponent of albaath but his opposition to islamists is at least as fierce,it remains to be seen how he will be received by conservative Muslims and how effective and influential he will be at his position. He is also an expat which will be used against him by both foes and friends.
Naming Galioun was a political move to assure some alawis and deliver a message to islamists but it is obviously too early to say much about his appointment or election by the council.

Thumb up 3 Thumb down 5

August 29th, 2011, 8:55 pm

 

79. Tara said:

Husam

I am with you. I am sure there are many Sunni with blood on their hands. That is why I was surprised with Antalya conference asking for Sharaa. He is as a culprit as anyone else.

Thumb up 8 Thumb down 6

August 29th, 2011, 8:58 pm

 

80. Haytham Khoury said:

@ mjabali #55

There is no secret that the Bush administration wanted the Assad out after the Assad permitted to the Mujahidin to traverse Syria to fight the Americans in Iraq. However, the opposition did not work with American to reverse the Assad regime.

Very part of the money that the American administration allocated to promote democracy in the Middle East went to Anas al-A’abda (to set up the Barada TV) and to Ammar Abdulhammid (which he spent on himself). The American were very disappointed from both (Anas al-A’abda and Ammar Abdulhammid). For this reason, the opposition did not real conspire with Americans against the Assad regime.

Thumb up 5 Thumb down 4

August 29th, 2011, 9:05 pm

 

81. Pas Cool said:

Was it Bab Touma?

I was in Syria during the whole spring and well before. I remember rather well the story of a church supposedly having been attacked. From what I recall it was supposed to have occurred either in Kasaa or in Qusur, not in Bab Touma. Now, I’ve been around quite often in those areas but never really bothered to check up on the truth of the matter. However, if we’re talking of the same event (and I believe so) this happened to a church close to Abasiyeen square, not in Bab Touma. Thumbs up to SGID for checking the churches in Bab Touma, but to really invalidate the claim one would have to check the handful of churches in the vicinity of Abasiyeen. Also, the border between (new) Bab Touma and Kasaa seemed somewhat blurry to me while living in Dimashq, so possibly this can be a reason for having checked the wrong area. I ain’t saying it happened, just that I remember the rumors and that it was in either Kasaa or Qusur.

Thumb up 7 Thumb down 3

August 29th, 2011, 9:05 pm

 

82. Husam said:

Majabli (and your twin SNK):

You said “Dr. Wafa Sultan, first where did you….Dr. Wafa Sultan is an INDEPENDENT WOMAN…Dr. Wafa Sultan made zealots like you re-think all of the cliches” (edited for bad language)

Stop with your freedom of speech bull shit. You want to be inclusive in New Syria then act like a respectful Syrian. You loathes this garbage because she disrespects and spreads hatred about Muslims and their faith. Which means you are anti-Islamic and a Muslim hater yourself. Don’t you think it is time you lick your wounds?

Before you lash out at me, simple question: If I disrespected your wife or sister for whatever reason I believed to be true and called them lunatic b**ches, would that be freedom of speech?

Thumb up 6 Thumb down 4

August 29th, 2011, 9:12 pm

 

83. Abughassan said:

I may be different from many Syrians due to the fact that I have blood ties to both alawis and Sunnis ,this made me less likely to look at this crisis from a sectarian angle.
Discrimination against minorities,especially druz,Kurds and alawis,is not a myth,but it is exaggerated for political or personal reasons. No future government in Syria can survive and thrive if it treats minorities as second class citizens,especially alawis who are not the same community today compared to 50 years ago. The best protection minorities can get is the protection of the law which means a new constitution that clearly criminalize discrimination against any Syrian based on gender,ethnic or religious affiliation. This protection can not be achieved in an environment of violence or foreign intervention in Syrian internal affairs. Mistrust is an enemy that has many friends in Syria today…

Thumb up 5 Thumb down 5

August 29th, 2011, 9:13 pm

 

84. Shami said:

Dear Haytham,
It’s also true that the maronites have known their cultural golden age during the Ottoman era ,when they were be able to come back to Aleppo and build their schools ,libraries and found their monastic institutions that still exist today.(expelled by the byzantine empire)
As for the alevis ,the Bektashi alevi sufis served in the elite force in the Ottoman army and were able to expand to Albania.
Other thing:the shia shrines we can see in Iraq have been built in Ottoman Iraq.
Turks or not,there is a consensus among the scholars of ottoman studies in the world ,that the ottoman empire was one of the most tolerant that history had ever known.(with the Umayyad and Roman empire).
The reason why the nusayris were not as lucky than the other minorities may be explained by the fact that unlike the druzes and the maronites ,they marginalized themselves in their mountains ,refused any compromize with the central authority(unlike the bektashis and druzes who also are heteredox sects),and that these mountains are not productive for farming.

Thumb up 3 Thumb down 12

August 29th, 2011, 9:27 pm

 

85. OFF THE WALL said:

Comment 44 is a political opinion calmly expressed, sincere, and delivered with no hint of provocation. It therefore deserves an honest answer, which is as sincere as the comment (overlooking subsequent exchanges with Aboud).

I am afraid that the solution Mjabali proposes is invalidated by the nature of this regime itself. Like many, I do not trust this regime, and I am confident that as long as its has the security apparatus, its private army, the Baath party, and the callous, narcissistic, and criminal Assad family and their Hyena packs, the regime will regroup and we will be back to square zero where the blood of the innocents is gone in vain.

As long as there are laws, which can easily be overruled, but have not been, and which prohibit holding security thugs responsible for crimes committed on their 24/7 jobs, a politically viable level of human rights under this regime is impossible. And it is now clear that any real opposition party will not be tolerated as the new party law, the requirements for parties, and the nature of the approving committee are merely tools for this band of thugs to maintain their hold on power and to create an increasingly larger band of regime-owned opposition. All the laws passed, under duress, are nothing but delay tactic and we are now at a stage were the regime and Syria, can’t exist on the same plane of existence. The regime continues its murderous campaign and there is no sign whatsoever that dialog with the hyena’s pack will end up in anything but in the blood of innocent Syrians be shed in torture dungeons, assassinations, and on the streets of Syria. Sorry my fellow Syrian, I know you are sincere, and I respect your sincerity, but I can’t have the same level of trust you have in this regime, I do not even suspect it, for the number of the dead, its vicious behavior, its contempt for Syria and Syrians, and the words of its goons have already convicted it, and all we the revolution are doing now is attempting to reach the presidential palace to serve the court order, and to subsequently enforce history’s judgment, with the least possible loss blood and treasure, not because of the regime, but despite of it. We are far beyond talking about this incompetent narcissist X-box never-grown adult’s previous 11 years, his past sins of omission pale in front of his recent sins of commission. It is not revenge, it is a conviction forged by the blood he and his goons shed, a conviction that Syria has no future, united or divided with him as its dictator/farm-owner. We are no longer sheep, and we are not about to be shape-shift into dogs who find in his scraps of reform a nice meal. As for the change not happening until we are all in, I am again sorry to resort back to history, change will happen once a critical mass is reached. The regime wants to change to be in the backward direction, and in that it relies on re-establishing a critical mass of fear through indiscriminate killing. The revolution on the other hand, recognizes that the road may be longer than first thought, and is not going to stop until that critical mass is needed. It does not have to be everyone.

Once Syria is free, then secular parties will form and can then use the political game, advocacy and all the wonderful political tools available to them to work hard to rebuilding Secular Syria, a Syria destroyed over 40 years of Assad’s contemptuous and contemptible rule.

Thumb up 3 Thumb down 10

August 29th, 2011, 9:35 pm

 

86. MM said:

The attack on a Church did not happen. There is no group in Syria, except the government, in which this event would aid more.

I spotted it the second I read Mr. Shami’s post. I didn’t bother contesting it, it was a complete fabrication. You could usually spot these if it is coupled with the statement “this wasnt reported anywhere.” There would be at least some photo of the adtermath somewhere if this if it did indeed occur. No such report was made.

Mr. Shami further went on to proclaim there wasn’t any shelling, etc from tanks and gunboats. We didn’t have “photographic” evidence of it, therefore “it didn’t happen.”. The city of Latakia was smoking at a distance. Plumes of smoke emanating from both latakia, and Hama. It was audible. There are plenty of pockmarked buildings, go visit.

Regardless, whether death resulted from the use of AK-47s or a shell – take your pick. it doesn’t matter. 3,000 people have died so far – the government’s choice of weapon is inconsequential at this point.

Thumb up 5 Thumb down 8

August 29th, 2011, 9:36 pm

 

87. OFF THE WALL said:

In comment 48, we again find a sincere statement that pains me greatly to read. Here, I would like to ask all to calm down, and really read comment 48.

Fatwa are usually of three parts. Like any court case, they first include the question asked of the scholar, followed by the scholars reasoning to reach the answer, and in the end the shcholar’s answer. When I read Ibn Taimyya’s sweeping fatwa about many groups, I am driven to near madness by every single part of the Fatwa. The question is nothing more than a list of vile accusations born out of ignorance and hate, and out of insecurity. The reasoning is even worse in its amplification of these accusations, and the judgment is not only inhumane, but is contrary to basic beliefs of Islam that rightfully deny’s humans the right to read hearts and minds and reserves that right to the deity. It is noteworthy that the Fatwa which accuses many sects, spares the Jafari-Shia from its wrath.

It would be easy to dismiss this fatwa as being an old rusted fatwa, but in reality, it is not. For it still gets propagated, and used, not only for its judgment, but also to perpetuate the hateful language of its accusatory part. And while I agree with Aboud’s assertion a while ago that most Syrians may not have event read it, I am confident that the majority of Syrians if they read it without the aid of an equivocating “scholar”, they will be appalled. And in this may lie a small part of solution to the problem, where every believer should read the fatwa, forms an opinion and challenges their cleric to justify it using our modern world experience and not the myths and presumptions of the 11th century.

What is needed is to put the fatwa, along with its author, like we should all of our history, in their political and historical context, and to completely defang its religious context. But unfortunately, such requires a complete review of Ibn Taimyya in his historical context. A task that is not easy, but rather hard and requires cool headedness I found to exist more in neutral non-muslim scholars than in either secular-minded or deeply religious Muslims. Rejecting this and similar fatwas is not merely done by saying they are 1000 years old, it is done by truly rejecting the principle behind them. The principle that makes one interpretation of metaphysical context superior to another, and that will take time, and can be much better done in a free society.

I have in the past written a post or two about Ibn Taimyya, and Ibn Hanbal. Here is what I wrote in one of these posts

In all idolization of the two pillars of fundamentalist salafism, the defenders ignore to mention that the body of thoughts representing this dogma was developed by “men” over centuries of power struggle. A struggle that was characterized more often than not by resorting to the rulers to suppress and abuse those presenting alternative thinking. Ibn hanbal himself was a victim of that before his fortunes turned and became a winner in that struggle and an oppressor in his own right. Ibn Taymyya’ obituaries of a pious Ghaznawi king congratulated the man for his oppression of sufi’s, shia, and other schools of thought. This was a militant struggle, the nature of which is foreign to Islam, that was carried out primarily to assert the power of so called Ulama over the Khilafa, which was considered largely secular issue during the early Umayad period. Ignoring the historical context of everything serves the fundamentalists rather well as it allows them to freeze human thought in a single instance of time. And more so, to continue to imagine and idealistic, far from reality, era of righteousness that we must return to.

In another, and after citing a book review, I wrote

So it seems that we face with Ibn Taymyya the same dilemma we face with any religious or legal scholars who has strong political opinion. There are two sides, a moral/ethical/jurisprudence side and an advocate side. And in many cases, the two sides at opposite polls of each others. If I may add my two cents worth (or perhaps less than that), I would argue that it is in the nature of each side. The moral/ethical/jurisprudence side requires polish and demands a great deal of sophistication since the target audience is a much larger conceptual (Islam itself, the Law, other scholars and judges). The political side, on the other hand, requires that whatever call issued, or book written, be composed in a blunt populist language of the day so that the public or the ruler heed the warning, and act against this “dangerous” sect or “un-orthodox” practice. There is no excuse in that. It is simply the nature of politics, and the character of the communication media of every day and age.

Note To hard-core Menhebbaks:

I dare you to read the comments I linked to, in fact, go ahead and read the entire debate. It should give a point to pause when you find someone as secular as me and my Christian and Alawite friends, with whom I have very recently spent few hours to reaffirm that we are not only compatriots but soul mates in supporting the rights of Syrians to be free, and their duty to get rid of this regime.

Thumb up 8 Thumb down 5

August 29th, 2011, 9:38 pm

 

88. Husam said:

Tara:

Sharaa another clown, the longest- serving foreign ministers in the world.

What about Khadam…claimed he had no money, so France gave him a free apartment. Lowest estimates are 500 Million that he and his family hoarded from Syria.

Thumb up 7 Thumb down 2

August 29th, 2011, 9:39 pm

 

89. True said:

@ HUSAM

Yeah true there are rubbish Sunnis from Shara’a, Mutsaf Tllas, Mohd Hamsho, Eyad Kuzbari …. and the list goes on, yes Besho’s Sunni cronies are with Sunni blood on their hands and they all should be dragged behind bars.

Now let the Alawis tell me why they are not coming clean by condemning Besho and his thugs?

Aren’t they claiming being peaceful and good Syrian “citizens” then c’mon show me some real actions rather than just sending their boys to join Shbiha gangs.

Tell them please don’t jump on the streets chanting freedom, don’t take bullets in your heads, don’t get beaten and tortured to death and don’t let your kids in prison, not at all leave these agony to Sunnis just one single symbolic action just denounce Besho’s regime and his deeds.

Then and only then they are useful thread of the Syrian society fabric. Alwais have put all their eggs in Besho’s basket, they condone his actions hence the crime.

Thumb up 4 Thumb down 8

August 29th, 2011, 9:46 pm

 

90. Akbar Palace said:

Husam,

I just want to tell you a little bit about freedom of speech. The more freedom of speech you have, the stronger your country will be.

Here in the US, we say that everything is legal as long as you don’t hurt anyone. What Wafa Sultan says does not hurt anyone. What Ahmadinejad says, what Noan Chomsky says, what Louis Farrakhan says, what Dick Cheney says cannot hurt anyone.

But what a person says cam be referenced for further use by an opposing point of view. I doubt Wafa Sultan could ever win an election in Syria due to her views. OTOH, it is illegal to shout fire in a movie theatre.

We need to be confident in our own beliefs in order to keep freedom speech alive. The Assad clan are not confident, so they rely on a government controlled media, informers, harrassmemt, and the state police and bullets to keep everyone quiet.

Which system appeals to you?

Thumb up 5 Thumb down 7

August 29th, 2011, 9:55 pm

 

91. True said:

On another note, Do we need to change our flag after kicking out Besho and his thugs?

Don’t know really, maybe go back to the original independence flag, or putting the Syrian eagle on a white background

Thumb up 5 Thumb down 6

August 29th, 2011, 9:58 pm

 

92. Husam said:

@ True:

You are true! I hear you loud and clear.

@ OTW:

I know you are well read (Ibn Tamayma, etc…) and your intentions are good. But before you ask a 1.5 Billion Muslims to denounce a thousand year old fatwa or the breast-suckling fatwa (remember that one :) ) PLEASE DO ME AND YOURSELF A FAVOR ask your friends SFrisco, Majabali, and SNK (from the modern age not the stone age) to denounce Wafa Sultan – their God!

If you succeed with just those 2-3 birds, maybe, just maybe you will convince the Muslim Ummah.

Thumb up 4 Thumb down 5

August 29th, 2011, 10:03 pm

 

93. Tara said:

Akbar palace

Denying the holocaust is freedom of speech too but it is unacceptable exactly like preaching hatred against a particular religion is freedom of speech yet it is unacceptable. Do you not agree?

Thumb up 6 Thumb down 5

August 29th, 2011, 10:09 pm

 

94. Husam said:

@ True: How about just 1 star! for Syria?

@ AKHRA-Palace: Long time no hear, wasup bro? Plaaaaaese with your freedom of speech in your beloved USA. F*CK, you can’t even get on a freaking bus or a plane with a beard let alone say what you want. The word OBAMA sent by email belonging to one MOHAMMAD will scream a level 10 (RED ALERT) from the CIA to the local Sherif. I will take a shabiha beeting before I sucumb to your freedom of speech B.S.

The American Constituion unfortunately has been raped by American Prostitution. And no, I don’t live in the US.

@ Tara that was a kick-ass-shut-your-mouth type of answer. You go, Girl!

Thumb up 4 Thumb down 4

August 29th, 2011, 10:14 pm

 

95. OFF THE WALL said:

HUSAM
First, they are not my friends, they are my adversaries on this one.

Second, It would be futile to ask them to denounce someone they are convinced is saying something true either because of disposition or conviction. My job is either convince them of the fallacy of the arguments, which I have been trying to do in civilized way, or to just let them be and fight them politically. With Wafa Sultan there are plenty of arguments against her at intellectual and behavioral levels, one of them is the fact that she claims being atheist, and yet makes money fundraising for religious groups that are no less fundamentalist in their belief. So she is either sectarian hate monger, or an opportunist, or most likely both. Also, she lied in her story about the martyrdom of Yousef Al Yousef, in order to sex-up her fake motivating story. As a person who lived those times, I will never forgive her for cheapening his blood, and the blood of everyone who was murdered in the eighties including at least two family friends and the attempted murder of a very close relative. To me it is personal, very much like 9-11 survivors who hate those using the blood of their lost ones to make money. I consider every penny she made an ill-gained money. For believers, it is called 7aram.

Thumb up 2 Thumb down 7

August 29th, 2011, 10:21 pm

 

96. majedkhaldoon said:

When they say (La ilaha ila Bashar) this is Kufr
When they shell Minerets.that is Kufr.
When They shoot live bullets on people while they are praying,this is Kufr.
When they force people to prstrate to Bashar picture,this is Kufr.
When they claim that they are God,this is Kufr.I met two of them while I was in Alawite mountain both claimed they are God.
When they worship sun this is Kufr.
When some worship the moon, this is Kufr.
When they practice sicrificial ritual this is kufr.
when they say women have no soul,this is Kufr.
when they say they are closer to christians than Islam,this is Kufr,
When they consider Ali Divine, and say they have the right to kill anyone who disagree,this is Kufr.

Thumb up 6 Thumb down 11

August 29th, 2011, 10:27 pm

 

97. Norman said:

Thanks , Atassi,
what you expressed is what makes Islam a great religion,
Haytham,

And the the Baath party was born, a nationalistic Arab party with an Islamic soul.

Thumb up 1 Thumb down 7

August 29th, 2011, 10:30 pm

 

98. Husam said:

OTW,

I understand where you are coming from, but you know as well as I do, people that those who have hatred in their blood can’t really be purified. You see you are an Atheist, (ok fine, Kafir to some), but to me: your behavior, your civility and thoughtfullness as well as your love for your Syria are all Islamic traits. I am not calling you to Islam, I am just showing you that you and I can come to common terms because we have no hatred for anyone except those that bring harm intentionally unto others.

So, I suggest your energy at length should be geared to those that are clean from this hatred stew that is boiling here.

You see the 2-3 birds have the avian-flu, they already gave you 3 (oops, now 4) thumbs down within 1 minute for you just reaching out to them, there is no cure bro. There is no cure.

Thumb up 5 Thumb down 4

August 29th, 2011, 10:34 pm

 

99. True said:

We need a drastic change to represent the new Syrian era away from everything related to Bathissts

Not sure about one single star as many countires had this concept for their flags Djibouti, Jordan, Morocco, Mauritania, Somalia

Thumb up 2 Thumb down 5

August 29th, 2011, 10:37 pm

 

100. Maher said:

To “An Atassi, one in a thousand”

I salute you for your insightfull opinion.

Maher

Thumb up 4 Thumb down 3

August 29th, 2011, 10:43 pm

 

101. Akbar Palace said:

Tara,

Denying the holocaust is perfectly legal in the US. Where did you get the idea it is not legal?

To my knowledge, only Germany has laws against denying the holocaust.

There was a case in the US where a holocaust-denier wrote a book and made his denial a statement of fact. A woman sued him and won her case. I’ll try to find it.

Hate is legal, as long as no one gets hurt.q:o)

See http://WWW.hdot.org

Thumb up 2 Thumb down 5

August 29th, 2011, 10:49 pm

 

102. True said:

@ ABUGHASSAN

Eyid Mubarak,
What’s the update on your medical expedition to Syria?

Thumb up 4 Thumb down 2

August 29th, 2011, 10:54 pm

 

103. Tara said:

AP

I am not discussing legality. I am discussing how freedom of speech when preaching hatred is not acceptable. I do not see difference between anti semitism such as perpetuating the “blood libel” and “the protocol of the elder of Zion” and preaching hatred against islam. Both are” legal” but not acceptable. If anything, I always thought Jews should not condone religious hatred as they have already been there and suffered consequences.

Thumb up 5 Thumb down 5

August 29th, 2011, 11:05 pm

 

104. Haytham Khoury said:

@ Norman #97.

That is completely true. The Ba’ath arose as a Nationalistic party with Islamic soul.

Michel Aflak gave a lecture with title “The Arabic Prophet” to praise the Prophet Mohamed character (I think it was 1947).

The atheist (or rather anti religion nature of Ba’ath started to emerge in the 60s, due to Salah Jedid (who adopted communist type ideology) influence. Thereafter, Hafez Assad used that in a selective way (whenever suited him he encouraged religiousness and in the remaining time he was anti religion).

Thumb up 2 Thumb down 2

August 29th, 2011, 11:31 pm

 

105. Akbar Palace said:

I am not discussing legality. I am discussing how freedom of speech when preaching hatred is not acceptable.

Tara,

“Freedom of Speech” is a legal construct. It is GUARANTEED by the US Constitution. If you mean it is unacceptable in the workplace or in social situations, yes, I agree it is not acceptable.

If, however, you are discussing holocaust denial at a KKK meeting or on an Aryan Nation or jihadist website, I suppose it would be perfectly “acceptable”.

Hope that answers your question.

If anything, I always thought Jews should not condone religious hatred as they have already been there and suffered consequences.

Jews counter this by teaching the public as much as they can about the horrors of hate. This includes books, websites, and lectures. Oh, and movies!

Lastly, hate isn’t just a “jew thing”, many other people suffer from hate: christians. muslims, …you name it…

Thumb up 3 Thumb down 4

August 29th, 2011, 11:53 pm

 

106. Husam said:

Tara:

AKHRA-Palace is an old timer parrot and a liar, just like the mnhebaks here:

David Irving, described the Nazi gas chambers as a ‘fairtale’, languishes in jail in Austria, where it is a crime to deny the Holocaust. Source: the London Times.

Holocaust denial is explicitly or implicitly illegal in 16 countries: Austria, Belgium, Canada, Czech Republic, France, Germany, Hungary, Israel, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, and Switzerland.[

Thumb up 3 Thumb down 4

August 30th, 2011, 12:11 am

 

107. NK said:

Eid Mubarak everyone.

Thumb up 1 Thumb down 2

August 30th, 2011, 12:13 am

 

108. Husam said:

Tara FYI,

Various convictions for speaking out on the Holocaust:

Jean-Marie Le Pen

France, Germany

fines[52]

Feb. 27, 1998

Roger Garaudy

France

imprisonment (suspended), ₣240,000 fine[53]

Jul. 21, 1998

Jürgen Graf

Switzerland

15 months imprisonment (fled Switzerland to avoid sentence)[54]

Jul. 21, 1998

Gerhard Förster

Switzerland

12 months imprisonment, disgorgement[55]

May 27, 1999

Jean Plantin

France

6 months imprisonment (suspended), fine, damages[56]

Apr. 11, 2000

Gaston-Armand Amaudruz

Switzerland

1 year imprisonment, damages[57]

Feb. 20, 2006

David Irving

Austria

1 year imprisonment[58]

Mar. 15, 2006

Germar Rudolf

Germany

2½ years imprisonment[59]

Oct. 3, 2006

Robert Faurisson

France

€7,500 fine, 3 months probation[60]

Feb. 15, 2007

Ernst Zündel

Germany

5 years imprisonment[61]

Jan. 14, 2008

Wolfgang Fröhlich

Austria

6½ years imprisonment[62]

Jan. 15, 2008

Sylvia Stolz

Germany

3½ years imprisonment[63]

Mar. 11, 2009

Horst Mahler

Germany

5 years imprisonment[64]

Oct. 23, 2009

Dirk Zimmerman

Germany

9 months imprisonment[65]

Oct. 27, 2009

Richard Williamson

Germany

€12,000 fine[66]

Thumb up 3 Thumb down 1

August 30th, 2011, 12:20 am

 

109. Akbar Palace said:

Husam,

Thanks for the full list. I guess lots of people in the ME like Ahmadinejad are safe. Notice the US is missing too.

http://WWW.memri.org/subject/en/92.htm

Thumb up 2 Thumb down 3

August 30th, 2011, 12:27 am

 

110. Revlon said:

83. Dear Abughassan:
“I may be different from many Syrians due to the fact that I have blood ties to both alawis and Sunnis ,this made me less likely to look at this crisis from a sectarian angle”

That is a bi-sectarian angle! I do not see it as less sectarian!

“No future government in Syria can survive and thrive if it treats minorities as second class citizens,especially alawis who are not the same community today compared to 50 years ago”

- Prior to independence, there were Alawi as well as Sunni Landlords, and understandably more of the latter.
- Peasants of both were abused by their respective landlords..
- Propotionately, but not in absolute numbers, more Alawi ladies worked as house aids because of their permissive religion/tradition, as opposed to similarly deprived, yet more conservative Sunnies!
- Poverty was common in the county side in Syria and in the desert. Such included as many Sunnis as Alawis.
- After the independence, there was some discrimination in public jobs, favouring the rich and religious elites. That affected as many Sunnis as Alawis. However, there was no discrimination in the army on the basis of sect, otherwise, none of the current Alawi military mobsters would have had a chance to commit the crimes they have have been committing for over 4 decades!
- After independence, It was Asad Sr who deliberately and systematically practiced discrimination on the basis of sect across all facets of life, including employment, even in private sector, by the current minority rule.

It is not the minorities who need protection from becoming second class citizens again, but the majority.

Laws should be in place to ensure that, no single minority group, sectarian or otherwise would be allowed to lay its grip on absolute power in Syria.

Thumb up 4 Thumb down 4

August 30th, 2011, 4:45 am

 

111. Revlon said:

Dear SGID, in reference to this post:
“81. Pas Coolsaid:
Was it Bab Touma?
but to really invalidate the claim one would have to check the handful of churches in the vicinity of Abasiyeen. Also, the border between (new) Bab Touma and Kasaa seemed somewhat blurry to me while living in Dimashq, so possibly this can be a reason for having checked the wrong area”

My hunch is that it would be ill-advised to pursue this investigation any further.

Eid Mubarak!

Thumb up 0 Thumb down 2

August 30th, 2011, 5:19 am

 

112. Humanist said:

Hello all,

Was not going to write here again, but as I am very interested in different islamic and pseudo-islamic sects I have a question (preferably to those with “inside” knowledghe).

Is it true what is written here?:

http://syriaexposed.blogspot.com/2005/03/myth-no-7-alawie-is-still-religious.html

As I understand the text, “modern” alawites in Syria are religiously really NO different from moderate sunni muslims. Correct?

So what is the alawi-sunni conflict all about? Is it just tribal?

(It seems to me, in the end most so called religious/sectarian conflicts in middle east is just about TRIBALISM…)

Thumb up 3 Thumb down 4

August 30th, 2011, 5:20 am

 

113. Humanist said:

Also, isn’t Assad and all his family officially SUNNI? (they even converted it seems)

So how can someone (even prof. Landis himself) say Alawites rule Syria, when they aren’t even recognised as a sect and have to behave like Sunnis to become accepted by the “majority”?

Thumb up 2 Thumb down 3

August 30th, 2011, 7:00 am

 

114. Ammar Shami said:

Great, I don’t check up on the blog for a few days and this happens. With all respect to SGID, this video is not exactly investigative reporting. The church is in the frame for 3 seconds max. I appreciate the humor but more time was spent filming the paper notes than the church. As you can all imagine I was upset by seeing this so i went down to the church and i took some pictures. I sent them to Mr. Landis, so it’s up to him to see whether my claims could be supported or not.

To make a long story short, I went to my dentist in late April, early May. I was told by him that a church was shot at earlier that day, I didn’t believe it right away. But when another patient supported the doctors claims and offered to take me to show me herself, i couldn’t say no, especially since it was the church she belonged to. I saw the wall of the church did indeed have holes in it. She even went into detail about the Suzuki loading truck that drove by the church during the shooting and described the sound of the shots. Now i have called many people liars, but not a nice old church lady, nor a doctor.

The fact of the matter is, this part of the article was the part that meant the least to me. Prof. Landis will tell you that I also mentioned Shiaa mosques being demolished during the uprising and the mosque that was raided by U.S. marines in Saudi Arabia. All i was trying to get at, is that an army with the majority of it’s profesional soldiers being Alawite, shooting at a Sunni mosque is somehow much more news worthy that a church or Shiaa mosque. But sadly, my article had to be shorter so i left the church example.

I’m willing to take that part of the article out. But i am not willing to say that this video posted is proof of “no bullet holes in bab touma” nor is it proof that the incident didn’t happen. There is another follower of the blog by the name of Anton who also supported my claim, and i would like to hear what he has to say before the church story is taken out. Unlike Tara, I am actually apologize if I was wrong, and will not blame it on the Mokhabarat instead. If i was duped by a nice old church lady, and a doctor, then i deserve to apologize to all of you.

Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

September 1st, 2011, 4:56 am

 

Post a comment


8 − = three