“Syria in Fragments: Divided Minds, Divided Lives,” by an American in Syria

This is the best piece of writing on Syria since the uprising began. Read it.

Hello Dr. Landis,

Thanks for taking my call today, and sorry for interrupting your meal with your kids. I hope the hot dogs were good. …. I can tell you more about myself later, but I’d prefer that you not mention me or my name to anyone (hope I don’t sound too paranoid… feeling especially vulnerable these days). If you want to post this piece as a blog entry, please just post it as “From Damascus”.

I’m pasting below the text of what I’ve written. I don’t have the background in political analysis that seems to be the forte of many who post on your site. Instead, I focus on the face-to-face encounters that I have in Syria now, that is, the words and experiences coming from the Syrians I connect with. I have found these last few months that one can expend all his time and energy just trying to find out “what is really going on,” and at the end of the day there is so much conflicting information and perspective, not to mention a war of information and reports, that you can still wind up scratching your head in confusion, even if you’re right here in Syria. Because of this, I find it better to just offer a personal glimpse of interactions with people on the ground here.

Protest in Deraa as shown on Syrian TV

Themes in this article:

  • — the new phenomenon of Dera’an separateness
  • — the challenging experience of Shia minority in the Dera’a muhafiza
  • — effects of the suppression on the entire muhafiza, not just the city
  • — identity as geographical, not only tribal/sectarian
  • — new Damascene attitudes toward Dera’ans
  • — Christian passivity and approval for the suppression
  • — conservative trends in Sunni society vs. denial of Salafist presence
  • — Alawi movement from prior measured criticism of the regime to a new, fanatical patriotism
  • — reaction of Lebanese Shia, effect on large, extended family groups that span the Lebanon-Syria border
  • — Hizbullah’s rapidly declining popularity among opposition Syrians
  • — experience of opposition-oriented Syrian AUB students in Lebanon, threats

Syria in Fragments: Divided Minds, Divided Lives
By an American in Syria
for Syria Comment
May 29, 2011

About a week ago I sat with a good friend from the muhafiza (governorate or county) of Dera’a. The raw account of events in Dera’a that he presented to me bore striking contrast to the opinions of people outside that area, people of Damascus, confused people trying to weigh the injustices vs. necessity of the military action in Dera’a.

Details of our conversation that might have been news at the time I spoke with him are now known by most readers at this late date: electricity, water, mobile phone service, land line telephone service, all cut off; rooftop water tanks, common in this area, are shot by military personnel; anyone who moves in the streets is shot. Furthermore, people who have used their own generators to provide power to their homes are visited by the military and the generators are promptly confiscated.

This friend (let’s call him Adham) has a sister and brother who both live in the city of Dera’a with their families. For weeks, they have had no word from them. They don’t even know if they or their children are alive. Adham’s brother was working in Damascus when the occupation of Dera’a began. He was unable to return home to his family. He cannot communicate with or receive any news from his wife or children. He has traveled recently to the city, hoping that after these weeks he would finally be allowed to reunite with his family, but has been prevented from doing so by the military that is keeping the city sealed off.

News that does trickle out of Dera’a seems to be coming from people who have Jordanian cell phones that sometimes find coverage in the area. People are using their car batteries to charge their cell phones, among other devices.

Many Damascenes continue to look me in the eye and tell me that “There’s nothing happening in Syria! Everything is fine!” Consider that Adham’s village in the muhafiza of Dera’a is closer to Damascus than it is to the city of Dera’a, and yet his family is without cell phone service, or even land-line service. Phone service of all types has been cut off from the entire muhafiza. When he comes to work in Damascus, he and his family have no way of checking on each other. This treatment is having the effect of galvanizing oppositional sentiment in the muhafiza and the growing sense of Dera’an separateness.

*See Alex’s correction to this simplistic map of Syrian religions copied below

Adham is an atheist whose family is of Shia background. Being an atheist and coming from a Shia family, he is in no way sympathetic to Sunni Islamism. Therefore, it’s telling when he affirms that “there are no Salafiin in Dera’a. I can say for sure that any group of such people that exists is very, very small.”

Rather, he explains that the government’s siege has been effective in unifying the muhafiza of Dera’a against it. By treating the entire muhafiza as criminal, the sentiments of most of its inhabitants (not just those inside the city of Dera’a) have turned against the regime. It’s interesting that identity runs not only along religious, ethnic, and tribal lines, but also along geographical lines, in that the people of Dera’a—not only the city, but the entire muhafiza—are viewing themselves as a unit, separate from those who comprise the leadership of Syria. “I can say that 90% of people in the entire muhafiza are against the government,” Adham says. Rather than viewing the uprising as one of sectarian character, he explains that “my brother’s family in the city of Dera’a has Christian neighbors. There are many Christians in the city of Dera’a and in other villages who have joined in the protests.”

Dera’a is becoming a unit—I hesitate to say almost separate from Syria—not only in how people there are beginning to view themselves as separate from the state (an understandable effect after feeling attacked by the state), but in the way many other Syrians are reacting to Dera’ans. Adham tells me that in the hospital where he works in Damascus, he is experiencing a new, unmistakable resentment and coldness from his coworkers. “They say nothing, but I can see in their faces that they blame us for the current situation in Syria.” He says that he doesn’t feel safe responding to the opinions voiced by people in his workplace. He believes that people’s opinions are misled and mistaken, but if he defends “his own” Dera’ans, he fears reprisal.

“One Alawi girl who works in the hospital was very happy about the army entering the city. She said, ‘They must destroy the entire city and should kill everyone demonstrating.’” Her comments reflect the result of the government’s successful campaign to demonize the protesters; many people simply believe that there is an insidious cancer of extremism growing inside Syria, that threatens all life, security, and humane values, and that drastic measures are needed to thoroughly wipe it out.

In stark contrast to Adham’s understanding of the situation, I witnessed unreserved approval for the government crack down on a Thursday a week after the siege on Dera’a began. I visited some close Christian friends in Damascus who we can call Samer and Najwah. It was impossible not to broach the subject of the situation in Dera’a, knowing that the next day, Friday, would likely produce significant casualties. This household however, grimly viewed the army’s cordoning off and occupation of the city as necessity. I couldn’t help but begin to argue with them that even if there was a poisonous “Salafi” threat in the town, the siege and suppression would mean the suffering, trauma, and even killing of many innocent people as well. If some people from that area had indeed called for the establishment of an Islamic emirate (and it’s no surprise that some there would be oriented this way), I was just not convinced that the entire city, the many thousands protesting there, were all seeking such a goal.

For Najwah, however, the city of Dera’a has become a single entity containing one kind of people: bad. For her, the terrorist persuasion of the people in that community now justifies virtually any action against them. From her attitude, I felt that if the city was to be wiped off the map, she wouldn’t mind. I began to mention reports of the more grisly examples of violent killings there. “Good!” was her angry response.

I tried to think back and remember if I’d ever been in a country where serious atrocities were taking place and had looked in the eye of someone who rejoiced in them. I couldn’t, and I realized that I was witnessing the kind of passive approval for massacre that one reads about in history books, when individuals or groups become convinced of the evil of another and of the necessity of wiping them out. Najwah is not an evil woman, but the people of Dera’a have become completely vilified in her mind, and she fears them.

The son of Samer and Najwah is soon going to go and study in Europe. Samer has a Syrian friend there who will help their son get established when he arrives. A detail that Najwah seemed to have misplaced is that this man is from Dera’a! Samer told me, “He called me from Germany and asked me if I would try and obtain permission to give a generator to his family in Dera’a. So I called someone in the military and asked if I could take a generator to them. They told me ‘No, it is not allowed.’” After having heard the anti-Dera’a emotion in the house, I was surprised. “Wait, you called someone in the military and asked if you could help someone in Dera’a?” I asked. “I’m really impressed!”

“Hey man,” Samer responded, “I’m not without feeling.” Najwah entered the room and caught my last sentence about helping someone in Dera’a. She looked at her husband with a shocked expression and demanded an explanation which he rapidly unwound while I contemplated the fact that she wasn’t already aware of his attempt to intervene on behalf of this family. She seemed angry, so I asked her “What do you think about the fact that when your son goes to Europe, the man who will be helping your family is from Dera’a?” She looked bewildered and stuttered confusedly, “He is…not from Dera’a…he is in Europe…” Najwah didn’t want me to shatter the delicately constructed reality she was clinging to; dismantling it would mean surrendering to confusion and losing anything solid to hold on to, anything that makes sense. As I left, I told Samer, “I would never say that you are without feeling.”

I departed from this home and Damascus and set off to spend the weekend in an almost exclusively Sunni town where people are unabashedly expressing anti-regime sentiment. Upon arriving, I sat in the living room of a family no less close to me than Samer and Najwah. I was met by a barrage of emotion, words laced with livid rage toward the regime and those supporting its campaign in Dera’a. “What’s wrong with those Christians in Damascus?! Who are they?! Don’t they care about human rights?!” I tried to reason with this family, hoping to elicit some empathy regarding the fear that minorities often have, but to little avail. Interestingly, this is a liberal family, full of agnostics who regularly mock Islamist figures and thinking. Their commitment to the protesters, like Adham’s, is based on their belief in freedom, equity, and rights for people. They do not see a Salafist element in Syrian society or in the protests. Furthermore, they are unable to understand why the Christian community is so pro-regime at this time. Being of Sunni background has insulated them from the pressures felt by other groups.

I had a violent argument with one of the daughters in the family, who I’ll call Na’ima. “Have you ever thought of what it feels like to belong to a minority group in a region where ‘otherness’ is often not valued, and where historically, belonging to ‘the other’ often involved the threat of violence?” I reminded Na’ima of the origins of the Druze, when they fled the massacres of their native Egypt for the protection of the mountains of the Levant. I posited that Alawis operate with the same “never again” persecution complex that underpins Jewish Israeli injustices against Palestinian natives. I brought up the obvious example of Iraq and mentioned that the near annihilation of Christians there is still more than a “recent memory” for Syrian Christians who fear that the similar removal of their own dictator will leave them as vulnerable as were the Iraqi Christians after Saddam was vacated. And I even mentioned that life is looking troubled and uneasy for Christians in post-Mubarak Egypt, where there is supposedly less sectarianism than Syria and where Christians comprise a greater percentage of the total population.

(For some examples of this, these are links to articles sent to me by Egyptian Christian friends in Egypt:

Many of the Egyptian Christians I’m in touch with took part in the revolution and were very happy to see Mubarak go, but are now increasingly worried about their security and sectarian relations.)

Finally, I said to Na’ima,

“Don’t you remember about a year ago when I came to a wedding for someone in your family, here in your village? I was surprised to see an all-Muslim wedding with men and women dancing together. I told you that I knew that male-female dancing was common at Christian weddings, but that at all the Muslim weddings I’d ever attended, I had only ever seen men dancing together. You told me that in the past, this kind of dancing was very common in your village, but that through recent decades, rural culture has moved in an ever more conservative direction, and that now, the only weddings in your village in which one can see men and women dancing together are the weddings of your family. You told me a year ago that it was clear that fundamentalism was growing. No one used to wear the niqab, but now many women in your village are wearing it. In fact, you complained about these trends in society and expressed worry about future prospects of losing certain freedoms. If you, a liberal family of Sunni background, observe these trends and experience a certain amount of discomfort regarding them, can you not understand how much more troubling these times are to minorities, a time when Christians are rampantly killed next door in Iraq, and when Gulf-based sheikhs regularly disseminate hateful anti-Alawi rhetoric? Even if you’re right in asserting that the Syrian protest movement is secular and purely about securing rights, since you have noted the rise of fundamentalism in your own society and village, is it absurd to consider the possible emergence of so-called ‘Salafi’—in other words, violence-sanctioning—groups?”

But empathy was on short supply. In fact, the animosity I was hearing expressed toward Christians, even on the part of such non-religious Sunnis, was surprising, and almost resembled the kind of prejudice that the Syrian minority community is fearing. What surprised me most was the way that Na’ima referred to many Christians who are close friends of hers, both in Damascus and in her village. It was as though these people had become her enemies overnight, and I felt that my status as a foreigner only tenuously separated me from similar designation.

Back in Damascus, I wanted to visit one of my friends, an Alawi woman from Homs. I’ll call her Nisreen. Nisreen couldn’t represent a stronger antithesis to Na’ima. I’m finding that Alawi people who used to criticize the government six months ago now defend it at every turn. Whenever I call Nisreen, my ear is assaulted by a track she has selected to play (the waiting music before the recipient of the call answers), a clip of a speech of Hafez al-Assad about all the virtues and glory of the “watan.” Even most people who stand by Bashar acknowledge the uncontested brutality of Hafez, so it’s very strange that at a moment when statues of the father are falling around Syria, young, educated Alawis would display his words as an emblem of what they stand for today.

I sat with Nisreen at the restaurant table, anticipating that our views would differ, but also expecting that we would be able to understand each other and find some area of common agreement. It soon became apparent to me, however, that the chasm that separated our respective understandings of current events was too great to be bridged. Nisreen views the outside media as players in a malevolent scheme to destroy her country. She believes that they hate Syria.

There is a large billboard being displayed right now next to the Rotana café on Shariya Abu Roumaneh just above the Jesr Rais that is divided into two halves: the first half is dark, red, and blood splattered with a message saying “No to Fitna;” the second contains images of beauty and a mosque and church side by side with positive messages including “Yes to a Shared Life.” The item of interest here is that on the “Fitna” side there’s an image of the Al Jazeera logo inside a circle with a line through it.

Thanks to Casey Hogle for this photo

I would share some of Nisreen’s critical view of the media; Al Jazeera has disappointed me during the unrest in Syria with exaggerations, strong bias, unprofessional content, and just plain bad writing. But I’m also aware that despite their exaggeration of certain events (in favor of the protesters) there are a lot of abuses perpetrated by the government here that do not make it to the news. When I mention this to Nisreen, as well as the fact that the Syrian news that she digests is even less objective, she becomes hostile. In her view, the whole world is conspiring to destroy her revered nation state.

She begins by showing that there really aren’t many protests; it’s all a fictional campaign by outside media. Next, what people are calling protests are just mobs of vandals who have been paid to destroy property and create chaos. After that, any protests that are real are made up of violent people who want to create an Islamic state. Most of the deaths are Syrian security forces killed by terrorists while trying to peacefully protect neighborhoods from thugs. I tried to talk with Nisreen about the discontent experienced by many Syrians due to the mafia structure of the state’s economic system, decades of mukhabaraat brutality and antagonism, the lack of education and work opportunity, and in general, hunger. She shot each one of these down, offering strange explanations and justifications for every conceivable example I could provide of mistakes of the government. It was maddening to hear her defend 100% of the regime’s actions, values, and leadership, and after an hour of arguing, I wanted to pull my hair out.

What I learned from this encounter is that when pressure of the kind we’re facing now begins to build, people turn to their “imagined communities,” to the groups based around their smallest circle of identity. Most of the Alawi I know have entirely stopped criticizing the government and now stand fully behind the regime.

I am also learning that such conflicts can divide even the closest friends. Nisreen is one of my closer friends here, but as close as we have been, and as much faith as I put in the human commitment to friendship and the ability to reach across boundaries, I have experienced a rude awakening regarding the strain that times of conflict and conspiracy can create between people. On the one hand, only 5 minutes of conversation with Nisreen can now drive me almost insane as she presents the regime as an angelic victim of every manner of conspiracies and lies.

On the other hand, I become incensed at Na’ima’s inability to sympathize with the minorities and understand their fears. Her zealous anti-regime sentiments seem to drown out her ability to see the nuance of complexity in the situation or to listen to the variety of perspectives along the spectrum of opinion. Spending time with either Nisreen or Na’ima has become unpleasant, as I can’t bear to listen to their comments of judgment and lack of understanding for the other. When I open my mouth in defense of those they blame, I can almost feel a rift growing between us, because in their minds, so much is at stake. I am still somewhat neutral; this dynamic has greater effects on the relationships between Syrians.

Amidst the new voicing of patriotism and all this rhetoric about unity, Syrians are terribly divided. People like Nisreen are not trying to empathize with those who are protesting, to understand their difficulties and motivations, but instead cling to easy explanations that vilify them. And people like Na’ima are writing off the sectarian fears being experienced by many, without trying to understand their experience. These fears may or may not be justified, but they are certainly not absurd. The real tragedy that I observe is that different groups are not working to understand each other. This is the main problem of Syria today: Syrians do not understand each other. If only they could reach across the divide a little and consider the fears and concerns of the other side.

Even those who deny Islamist motivations for the protests can see that relations between groups can be strained, if not before now, then particularly during these politically volatile circumstances. Though Adham doesn’t believe that there is any Salafi element propelling the uprising in Dera’a, he acknowledges that an anti-Alawi sentiment is growing among the Sunni community, as would understandably be the case when the people watch an Alawi-controlled military roll tanks into their communities. “There are already 3 armies based near the city of Dera’a. But the government didn’t use them to attack the city. Why not? Because they contain many young men from around the country, including many young Sunni men, who wouldn’t want to attack the people.Instead they brought Maher’s special army all the way from Qatana. It is the special army that is loyal to him.” (Qatana is located a short distance west of Damascus.)

Adham doesn’t believe in God, so religion plays no role in his siding with the protesters of Dera’a. But because current events are fueling an increasing anti-Alawi attitude, complications have arisen for his family, which is Shia. Alawi beliefs do not closely resemble those of the Shia, and it is easy to see that Alawism is outside the fold of any commonly understood Islamic orthodoxy (though it’s sad that this matters so much to so many, and that belonging to such a sect means being a recipient of prejudice and bigotry). But among the poorly-educated Sunni majority of the muhafiza of Dera’a, many are not aware of the distinction between Shi’ism and Alawism, and do not draw lines between the Shia and the Alawi. The fact that Alawi are quickly becoming vilified for the people of Dera’a has placed Adham’s family in hot water recently, and the heads of the family are working overtime on local public relations and image management.

The complexities don’t stop there. While Dera’an Shia are trying to convince their neighbors that they are not Alawi, members of Adham’s family are experiencing another animosity on the international front. Adham has a cousin who lives in Belgium. He works there with Lebanese members of their same extended family. (It’s a large family group or clan that spans both sides of the Syrian-Lebanese border.) The Lebanese relative recently came to Adham’s cousin in Belgium and told him, “There’s no more business between you and me. We hate all you from Dera’a who are trying to ruin everything.” What is this Lebanese relative so upset about? Consider for a moment: The family is Shia. It makes sense that the Lebanese side, being Shia, would therefore be very supportive and loyal to Hizbullah. The protest movement in Syria is generally against the al-Assad government, which is the biggest sponsor of Hizbullah, its link to Iran, and without which Hizbullah would become near-powerless. Lebanese who love Hizbullah, therefore, are likely to view the Syrian protest movement as a direct attack, and this feeling is strong enough to divide families.

Another outcome of this situation is that Hizbullah has inadvertently been drying up its support among mainstream Syrian society. About a year ago I remember a young Sunni man telling me that he hated Hizbullah. “Because they are Shia?” I asked him. “Not at all,” he responded, “it’s because they are so close to our government here in Syria, and our government is so evil.” Hizbullah generally enjoys the affections of most Syrian people, but what I have come to realize is that loving Hizbullah is part of demonstrating one’s patriotism as a Syrian. Syrian national identity is intertwined with resistance to Zionism—the threat that justified the emergency laws all these years, right? And Hizbullah is the most thriving aspect of resistance that can be showcased today. So, supporting Hizbullah is less about a direct connection to Palestinian suffering and more about accepting the entire parcel of pre-packaged Syrian nationalist identity. Expressing affection for Nasrallah is just one of the many ingredients in the complicated recipe of proving that Syrian blood runs in one’s veins. This explains the tremendous irony that the most fervent support for Hizbullah that I have encountered comes from Christians, ever close to the regime these days.

All of this makes it understandable that revolutionary Syrians, desiring to cast off all the trappings of the cult-like Ba’ath system, would consequentially reject Hizbullah.

This becomes even easier when we add the fact that the majority of protesters are Sunni. Hence, some of the chants we heard early-on from Dera’an protesters: “No Iran, no Hizbullah, we want a Muslim ruler who fears God.” But Hizbullah has accelerated the expending of its popularity by coming out and denouncing the Syrian protest movement with verbal condemnation for the protesters. This was a move designed to demonstrate their allegiance to the Syrian regime, their primary support, but perhaps another layer to it is that Hizbullah doesn’t have anything to gain by seeing the growth or development of Sunni Islamism in the area—if the protests do in fact portend a new wave of Islamist energy.

My friend Samer is always liberal with the praise he sings for Nasrallah and Hizbullah. I confronted Samer recently, saying

“Don’t you find it at all ironic that you decry Islamism in Syria and support the regime’s campaign of suppression against the protesters because you believe them to be Islamists that will ultimately assault Christian communities with violence, while you simultaneously support an Islamist movement next door in Lebanon?”

He went on for a minute about Israel…

“But you must recognize that all Islamist movements on some level hold as a long term objective the establishment of an Islamic state, akin to the ‘Islamic emirate’ you were distressed to hear a few voices in Baniyas and Dera’a calling for. How do you as a Christian feel about a Hizbullah that in the future could become the major ruling power in Lebanon, displacing the only Christian-dominated Arab government?”

Samer replied simply,

“Look, I am Hizbullah’s number-one supporter as long as they oppose the injustices committed by Israel, but as soon as they try to take over Lebanon, I will be the first one against them.”

I described above a Lebanese reaction to Adham’s cousin working in Europe. The Lebanese response to the Syrian movement has further ramifications for Syrians living in Lebanon. Some Syrian students I know who study at the American University of Beirut explained to me how they are being threatened at the university. Discussions dealing with current events in the region have taken place in some of their classes, and some students have wanted to write papers expressing opinions and proposals for changes in Syria. Syrian students who side with the protesters have come under fire in Lebanon, by other Syrians as well as by some Lebanese. One student told me that a young Lebanese woman in his class who belongs to the Syrian Social Nationalist Party (Hizb al-Suri al-Qawmi al-Ijtima’i—a party that operates in Syria and Lebanon that holds that Lebanon should not be an independent country, but part of Greater Syria) threatened him that if he submitted a paper critical of the current Syrian regime, she would write a report on him and turn it in to the Syrian embassy in Lebanon.

This Syrian embassy is known as a doorway for a resurgence of Syrian mukhabaraat activity in Lebanon that had previously diminished after Syria pulled out of Lebanon following Rafik Hariri’s assassination in 2005. Many of the vendors selling flowers and trinkets in strategic locations of Beirut are believed by many Lebanese and Syrians to be planted by the mukhabaraat, and many Syrians in Lebanon still look over their shoulders when speaking. It’s sad that opinion would be censored (self-censored or peer-censored) on an American university campus. Another Syrian student at AUB was recently arrested as he tried to reenter his country from Lebanon.

It is interesting to see, as with Adham’s cousin, how people caught in regional conflicts can carry their respective sides abroad, perpetuating tension, and on a more sinister level, as with the Syrian AUB students, how power structures can continue to meddle with lives removed from the motherland. Toward the beginning of the recent uprising in Libya, one might remember the news stories about Libyan students in the U.S. who were threatened that if they didn’t turn out for the pro-regime demonstrations in Washington, they would lose their scholarships. The Syrian mukhabaraat has an even longer arm. Syrian Americans in the U.S. are sometimes visited and informed that if they don’t make a show of support for President Assad, bad things will happen to their families back in Syria. “You can check out any time you like, but you can never leave”: when a nation’s process of coercion-maintained corruption is so endemic from the top to the bottom of the system, even living on the other side of the world is sometimes not enough to allow one to escape the mafia-cult, not as long as one has something of value or someone vulnerable still within their reach.

This speaks to the ongoing controversy over the freshly gushing patriotism and the question of the real level of support still enjoyed by the Syrian regime. The lesson is: whether a mafia or cult, outpourings of support for the leader cannot be considered entirely authentic or credible, since, just as with affirmations of conviction in a religion that proscribes death for apostasy, “a ‘yes’ is never truly a ‘yes’ unless ‘no’ is truly an option.”

I recently happened to encounter a busload of French tourists, still traversing the landscape of ancient ruins, oblivious to the newborn, infant landscape of rapid social change, and the seriousness of danger and abuse arising from its afterbirth. “There doesn’t seem to be much happening here, everything looks safe,” seems to be the conclusion of a number of outsiders.

But Adham, after meeting with me in my home and unloading on me the tension and grief surrounding his family’s situation in Dera’a, became nervous when preparing to walk out the door. “There are a lot of mukhabaraat in the street near your house. Because you are a foreigner, I am afraid of being arrested and questioned about my visit to you, because you are probably under surveillance.”

Correction to Maps by Alex

Interesting post but the maps are a bit too far from reality. A few examples:

1) religion: Christians in Deir Ezzore?

No, they are found almost everywhere in Syria, both in cities and villages. They represent all segments of Syrian society. But not in Deir Ezzore as the map shows. On the other hand, the area between Damascus and Homs (and villages east and south of Homs such as Fayrouzeh, Sadad, Zaydal …), near Hama (such as city of Mehardeh), in Horan, mount Hermon, Hassake … Damascus, Latattakia …

2) Languages: Armenian is in Kassab, near lattakia, Aleppo, and north eastern Syria … not in Deir Ezzore as the map shows. The only thing Armenian in Deir Ezzore is the Armenian monument for the Armenian victims of the 1915 genocide …. 1.5 million of them.

Assyrian (not Aramaic) is near Hassakeh and Qamishli and Malkieh. There are also present in Sadad, Maaloula …etc. Then you have Ashouri in Wadi el-khabour (near Hassakeh)

3) Arabic dialects: Northern Mesopotamian Arabic (jezrawi) is only confined to Hassakeh, Qamishli, Derbasieh, amouda, and other towns in north eastern Syria. The countryside is bedouin Arab and they have their own dialect. More over, Aleppo and Edlib to the west has nothing to do with that dialect.

Iraqi Arabic is mainly in the cities along eastern part of the valley of the Euphrates … Abu Kamal … Deir Ezzore and vicinity … Raqqa (though it has bedouin too)

Comments (610)

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301. why-discuss said:

“And no Jew would want Israel to be like any Arab country. Obviously;)”

Of course! Israel is so “strong” and “economically successful” and Arab countries are so weak and underdeveloped!
Yet no Arab would exchange his place with an Israeli.

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May 30th, 2011, 10:14 pm


302. syau said:


Armed gangs did infiltrate any legitimate demonstrators, where do you think the violence began?

I support Assad for as long as he has the interest of Syria and it’s people. That I think will be forever. That is also my right. I will never support an Islamist state or a revolution filled with murder, lies and fabrication. That does not hold the interest of the Syrian people. I am interested, do you have the welfare of Syrians at heart, if you did, you would want an end to this violent revolution and peace that was a fact prior to this revolution to return.

The voices of legitimate protesters were heard by the president and reforms are in the process of being implemented. Everything after that is sinister and definately not legitimate.

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May 30th, 2011, 10:15 pm


303. Norman said:

And that is why they should stop the demonstrations and let the army clean the streets , Then ask for permit and demonstrate, now people are being killed and armed groups are in the streets,

There should not be term limit in Syria as the people should have the right to elect president Assad if they want as long as it is done freely and under judicial supervision,

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May 30th, 2011, 10:16 pm


304. TARA said:

Syau, 2 questions:

How many total death (demonstrators+ army+ security forces + innocent bystanders) are you willing to accept before you lable the regime as failure?

What if everything goes back to a pre-revolution status and Bashar dies from natural causes say in 15 years, what is then? his son Hafez?

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May 30th, 2011, 10:26 pm


305. Averroes said:


Who is that guy? My challenge is for you to find a Syrian official that has said something anti Jewish. I don’t use the battered term anti-Semitic because we are Semites way more than 90% of Israelis.

Find me a president, a PM, an ambassador that has ever said anything anti-Jewish. You won’t be able to because in all honesty, we have nothing against Jews per se. The grand Mufti is well known for his openness has allowed a US Rabbi to give a Friday sermon in Syria. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JfziGnhDukE

Our problem is with Israelis who have stolen our land and who think they can get away with it for good.

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May 30th, 2011, 10:36 pm


306. Averroes said:

And to the Israelis who are acting like they’re immune to domestic unrest:

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May 30th, 2011, 10:40 pm


307. WhatIsThis? said:

This whole post sounds completely fake. Who is this magical man that manages to know a perfect stereotype for every sect?

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May 30th, 2011, 11:15 pm


308. ss said:

Tara comment 287

“Janood killing could be very much the work of armed gangs but I can not be certain. If they have nothing to hide, why are they not allowing international press?”

Tara, I am shocked again how the opposition like yourself who appears to be intelligent gives me a very STUPID answer. Again Tara, you fell in the trap of supporting awful thugs and killers. How can you do that Tara? How can you support these people? By ignoring the fact that they are real, you are indeed supporting them and perhaps feel sympathy for them. For god sakes are you human, have you seen how they cut the man pieces.
Why are they not allowing international press? That is laughable. Who do you want? Aljazeera? Alarabia?….These channels are worse than a foreign invasion. Actually I would take a foreign invasion which is easier to deal with than having some dishonest biased people making designing stories for money. I disagree with you on that. I agree with you that the Syrian TV has always been the last channel one ever wants to watch but during this crisis, the Syrian TV proved to be the best honest and reliable source

“I believe what Syria needs is more Alawites intellectual to come out and ask for real substantial measures of reform to end the bloodshed. We heard some but any others?”

Well why you are asking for more Alawites intellectual to come out. We Alawite have one who represents most of us, meaning 99% of us. The Alawite have never ever been behind Assad as they are now in this Crisis. Many Alawite disapprove corruption, lake of jobs, ……but this crisis, with intellect people like yourself defending ruthless killers; cutting the body of an Alawite man, had brought the Alawite community tight, very tight. We are all behind Assad; one word Tara, one word. You talk about Shabiha. Shabiha was a big culture in Lattakia in the 80s till late 90s, but they were destroyed. I tell you what, if you were driving the streets in Lattakia and a Shabiha car was behind you, you should pray for the rd light to turn green so you give that car a pass. I agree, it was awful even for us Alawite. We suffered the most from them, but the shabiha phenomenon has been dead for more than 10 years. I do not know why you guys blame everything on Shabiha. Where are the Shabih?????. I advise you not to mistake Shabiha with young Alawite people who are holding arms and defending their villages, people, and their homes from the ghosts shooting randomly.

“Also, Syria can not just wake up and find itself democratic and free. We have no infra-structure. We have no civil society. We have no institutions.”

I assure you with your acts of killing and mass destruction there will be no infrastructures left to have your dream democracy.

Tara, although I find many flaws in the current regime, but I am totally against the way this opposition is behaving; killing kids, mutilating them for an evil cause. This is your new recipe, your new menu; killing innocent kids. For that reason I hope the army works hard to restore order. Order and logic is the best infrastructure for all of us

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May 30th, 2011, 11:19 pm


309. Ollie said:

Syria’s a scary place right now, with a lot of people in pain. I feel the American needs to open up her heart more deeply to this fact.
When we don’t hear people’s pain, it keeps coming out in ways that make empathy even harder.
Certain kinds of negotiations, which have never been attempted, would be more protective than any use of force. Our only option is communication of a radically different sort. We are getting to a point where our best protection is to communicate with the people we’re most afraid of. Nothing else will work.

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May 30th, 2011, 11:23 pm


310. AIG said:


The guy is a Syrian official, the deputy religious minister. Your government is antisemitic but you keep deluding yourself. They allow antisemitic books, television series etc.

As for domestic unrest in Israel, of course we have demonstrations. It is a free country, you have demonstrations in most countries. But we resolve our differences in the ballot box and do not have presidents for life that strangle the potential of the country.
Why are you so afraid of freedom of speech and free elections? Where does your fear come from? Do you have so little trust in your fellow countrymen? Or do you think you know best what is best for all Syrians? If you accept them as countrymen then trust their choice at the ballot. If not, Syria is not a country and you should break it up.

Here are some more antisemitism links for you:

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May 30th, 2011, 11:27 pm


311. AIG said:

Let’s not forget who is lying here and not letting the free press in to cover the events and see the truth. The regime should let in the Russian, Chinese, American, all the press in the world if it thinks it is doing the right thing. But the Assad regime is lying through its teeth without any shame. That is why they will not allow free press. That is why they will not allow UN observers. The actions clearly point out who the criminals are.

Why are you afraid of the free press??? Everybody is a liar except Assad?

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May 30th, 2011, 11:35 pm


312. ss said:


I posted these two links for your attention. I know you have seen them, but to refresh your memory. Do you really need an international press to confirm this crime. The photos were taken at the time of the crime is the same during the interview. This is called evidence


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May 30th, 2011, 11:36 pm


313. Syria: The strong risk of fitna, and how to prevent it | A New Worlds in Birth said:

[…] Landis has a truly excellent piece on his blog today. It is a lengthy account that he’s publishing there, that was written by […]

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May 30th, 2011, 11:37 pm


314. Averroes said:


Antisemitic blah blah blah antisemitic blah blah blah blah. Antisemitic blah blah antisemitic blah antisemitic blah blah Antisemitic blah blah blah blah blah.

That’s the essence of your argument.

Syrians are Semites, and we are not anti-Jewish.

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May 30th, 2011, 11:38 pm


315. ss said:


This is for your attention.
We may not allow journalist in. You allow them in but it looks like you beat them and arrest them. This link if FYI only

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May 30th, 2011, 11:43 pm


316. AIG said:


Yes, we beat every journalist that comes into Israel. Yeah, right. Israel has free press. Journalists from all over the world can report from Israel. They can go talk to anybody in Israel. They can talk to Arabs, to Jews to whomever they want. What are you afraid off? Why won’t you allow free press unless you are murdering liars that want to hide what is being done to the Syrian people? Let the free press in, or accept the fact that you are liars. There is no middle ground. You are afraid of the truth. Why?

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May 30th, 2011, 11:53 pm


317. AIG said:


If you want to disregard the conclusive evidence that the Assad regime is anti-Jewish, be my guest. As for the Syrian public, after being fed for years a diet of anti-Jewish propaganda, it is also largely anti-Jewish. Hopefully with free press this will change.

Antisemitism means racism against Jews. It is a euphemism coined in Germany and has nothing to do with semitic people, just as the word “dogma” has nothing to do with dog or with ma.

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May 31st, 2011, 12:02 am


318. jad said:

Is Mr. Ziade the smartest of the revolution leaders and the star of american academia? Good luck!
Try not to sleep reading the ‘important’ article or you can go directly to the last 2 paragraphs to learn NOTHING:

هل يوقف الجيش آلة القتل بسوريا؟

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May 31st, 2011, 12:05 am


319. Jihad said:

To the rabid Zionist liar on this site:


Such a coward and colonizer should be ignored.

With or without Bushama, your day will come.

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May 31st, 2011, 12:21 am


320. jad said:

To those who miss Damascus as much as I do, this is a car drive in Damascus street this morning.

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May 31st, 2011, 12:23 am


321. Jihad said:

It appears that rabid Zionists are also dog-ma-tics.

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May 31st, 2011, 12:25 am


322. Tara said:

SS, and all

“By ignoring the fact that they are real, you are indeed supporting them and perhaps feel sympathy for them”

The problem of the regime supporters on this site is that they lump sum any one who dares to dissent as evil. I DO NOT support Janood’ Killers. I DO NOT feel sympathy for them in any way, shape, or form. You are accusing me of some things I never said. I do not watch the Syrian media because I do not have any respect for it. The same media lied about Bayda and said the clip happened in Iraq by the Bashmirga (sp?). I am sorry but in my mind (you lie once, you lie always). I have been told about fabricated clips and fabricated pictures over the last 2 month. That is why I said I can not be certain.

Let me be clear here. I am very disturbed in regard to Janoood killing. It incites the same anger and sadness in my mind as the killing of any peaceful demonstrator in this crisis. It does desecrate the revolution I support and I can understand your pain when a killing like that is not acknowledged and I agree it needs to be acknowledged.

On the other hand, the regime supporters on this site (at least in my opinion) have completely failed to see the aspirations of the others. And again I am not obviously including the “armed gangs” here. All what was heard from you guys is: Yes, the regime committed some mistakes. We need better jobs, housing, less corruption etc. Some legit demonstrators in this revolution may be looking for measure to enhance their socioeconomic status. A lot in this revolution are looking for serious reform that build our infra structure. Can anyone tell me what Bashar accomplishments over the last 11 years are? All what I see is that he opens the country financially by turning a bind eye on his cousin illegal dealings. The resistance is not Bashar-made. It is genetically incorporated in the Syrian soul.

I am very surprised that all of you support him so blindly in this crisis.

Finally I want to say that not all mistakes are created equal. The regime committed murders and until I hear about Maher and Rami being exiled to Marbella, I would not believe in any serious reform.

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May 31st, 2011, 12:30 am


323. AIG said:


The facts are so simple. Does Syria allow a representative from Al-Jazeera, NY Times, European newspapers, AP, AFP etc. into Syria? No. Israel does. Do the Israeli security organizations follow journalists around like in Syria? No. Do you get thrown into prison for writing your opinion in an Israeli newspaper? No.

The liars are the people who are afraid of the free press. It is the Syrian regime that does not want the world to see how it tortures its people. Why are you so afraid of the free press? Because the regime is a regime of murdering thugs.

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May 31st, 2011, 12:33 am


324. Syria no kandahar said:

Some Examples of failed democracy in Islamic nations:
1-Iraq:After trillions of dollars of US money,5000 American soldiers lost,hundreds of thousands of Iraqis killed,the largest displacement and refugee situation in the recent human history,the country democracy status and the quality of living SUCKS.
2-Afghanstan:As above.
3-Gaza:Hamas hijacked the elections using the cheep religion card,transformed Gaza into sem-Kandahar.
4-Egypt:Nice revolution over all by good hearted Egyptian youth,stolen by MB (Islamic Democracy Merchants Incorporated).Egypt is 20 years backward ,the mummies are laughing at there ancestor for this virgin revolution raped publically in the middle of the day,by MB,with the world clapping and having fun watching
And waiting for the red virginity blood evidence.
5-Tunisia:All signs are that this was for the birds,Boazizi burned bones are chilling from the impotence of this revolution.Tunis had the best quality of living indicators between all Arab countries befor the revolution.
6-Libya:Democracy is being born,you need to be able to turn stool to cake for this to turn into any meaningful product.
7-Yemen :you need the same machine above(which can convert stool to cake)
8-Iran:Mollah rule disliked by most Iranians ,police arresting girls if pants don’t touch the ground,you get stoned if you have intercourse the mollah don’t like.
9-Turkey:pseudo-democracy,you can disappear the mokabarat way,you get jailed if you admit the genocide,As a Kurd you are a Turk or else Kurk,you will get spit at if you walk in most of the cities of turkey with a cross in your neck(except Istanbul ).trying hard to show of but ذنب الكلب اعوج
10-SYRIA:???????????????????????????????????????يارب استر

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May 31st, 2011, 12:54 am


325. abughassan said:

Bashar was appointed president in 2000 because top Generals and key people in the regime did not want a non Asad to be president,that was a signal the regime was not ready for any real political change,however, many Syrians supported Asad because he was seen as an educated open-minded man with no history of being involved in the dirty business of politics,corruption and oppression,and to be fair,many Syrians still support him,some do so out of fear of the alternative,namely an Islamist regime that will take the country backward and oppress minorities.
Syria is supposed to be a republic but the late Asad ruled it for 30 years and Bashar has been in power for 11 years. Albaath captured power in 1963 and prevented any real opposition to its domination of political life. Those who want Syria to be a kingdom and keep albaath monopoly must say so in plain English,or Arabic and tell us if they are ready for a national referendum, not like the ones with a guaranteed 99% approval.
I do not want Bashar to be removed now by force or by any other mean,this will lead to a civil war,but I want him to try to correct the mistakes of the past,open a new page,enact those darn reforms and pave the way for a new president.I will never support using violence against peaceful demonstration and I am even more opposed to using violence against the army.
Syrians deserve a better government but they also should not committ violent acts to make their voice heard,by doing so,they are giving more credibility to the regime and losing valuable support,this is why I believe what may have started as a civilized protest for dignity,freedom and democracy is becoming an uprising by thugs and militant people who deserve the title of third world residents for their behavior not because of where they live or how much money they make.as for sectarianism,it can only be treated by a strong judicial system and a healthy dose of freedom and equal opportunity. The road is long and tiresome but Syrians do not have a choice.

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May 31st, 2011, 12:59 am


326. Maryam said:

#314 AIG,

I’m curious, did Israel let reporters in Gaza when they bombed the hell out of it in 2008?

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May 31st, 2011, 1:05 am


327. Amir in Tel Aviv said:

The best of luck Antalya.

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May 31st, 2011, 1:42 am


328. syau said:

Tara #305,

I’ll answer your question with a question, how many deaths are you willing to see before you label this revolution nothing but a violent failure which is shamefully using the name of a revolution?

Question 2 – nothing can ever go back to the pre revolution status. No one lives forever and that bridge will be crossed when we come to it.

#320, the difference between Assad supporters and the revolution supporters is that we do not “lump sum” everything, mistakes are acknowledged, corruption is acknowledged and we look for positives, whereas revolutionists do not acknowledge the facts or anything accomplished by the Bashar, they deny what is starring them right in the face, they do not look to any positive scenario, their sectarianism and hatred is evident in the comments and they don’t have any plans other than to commit as many crimes, destroy as much infrastructure and terrorise as many people as possible to make their point. Nothing is sacred to them, they have even moved on to burning graves.

Assad supporters will stand beside all different sects and religions and live peacefully. I attended a rally in support of President Assad, I stood beside my Sunni, Christian and Alawi friends, chanted beside those I do not know, some wearing traditional headscarfs and some wearing crosses. It was positive, a concept I don’t think supporters of this hate filled revolution are familiar with.

Assad supports embrace the measures for reforms; remember that was the initial demand. Immediately after reforms were announced, there were calls for toppling the regime. Normal people would call for the end of demonstrations, especially as they are violent in nature and allow the reforms to be implemented. They can see the conspiracy against their country and have the welfare of Syrians at heart when they express themselves. There seems to never be a light at the end of the tunnel for you people, as no matter what is put forward, it’s not enough.

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May 31st, 2011, 2:03 am


329. Jad said:

Be ready to hear a story about rape crimes conmitted by Syrian army officers against young girl in the coming days, my guess is Thursday.

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May 31st, 2011, 2:17 am


330. Usama said:

SS, #308

I remember those things you’re talking about and I agree with you. Basil used to keep Fawwaz and his gang in check. He knocked their heads together and put them in jail several times before “the mother” would step in. Although I was very young, I still remember when Basil died, Fawwaz and his gangs were celebrating publicly. But Bashar continued Basil’s work and things in Lattakia became much better after Bashar’s influence within the country increased.

Tara, #320

You’re still ignoring the numbers. The regime has the clear support of the people.
And what did Maher do? Some “eyewitness” says he saw Maher in Dar`a from 300 meters away with his binoculars, then in the next sentence he says he can hear Maher talking about “strategy”… from 300 meters. Binoculars also let you do that? From that moment on, all the news started saying that Maher was in Dar`a like it was fact, even the US and EU!!! But funny part is, he wasn’t there.

There are a few articles posted in the comments sections of this blog that discussed how the media has targeted specific individuals for destroying their image. Hafez’s kids have been nothing but respectful to the people of Syria. Hafez’s brothers, and their sons, are another story, but you don’t see them being attacked by the media… why not? Because they know people already hate them (and Rif`at is living in luxury with his kids in Europe), so it’s more convenient to attack the image of people who are not widely hated, and make them symbols of everything that is wrong with the country.

About Rami Makhluf, I’m sure he benefitted from being Bashar’s cousin, but here is how corruption was usually done: a “manager” would approve SYP 100 million for a project that actually needed only SYP 50 million. Then he’d take the 50 million, and split with others to keep quiet. Then you had people on the ground who would use less material (ie. weaker concrete mix) to keep another chunk out of the 50 million used. Then all their money would go to some foreign bank and sit there. Rami Makhluf actually invested money inside Syria, and whatever profit came out he would invest back in Syria and Syrians. The story you don’t hear about Rami Makhluf is that he has provided many poor families with expensive surgeries they required, for free. When the Syrian University was clearly mismanaged, he bought it out and set it back on track. The thing that most media like to concentrate on is his “monopoly” of SyriaTel. They don’t mention that SyriaTel provided thousands of unemployed youths with good, respectable, high-paying jobs. They don’t mention that Bashar addressed the “monopoly” concerns by allowing a second company for competition (MTN, from South Africa). They don’t mention that because people are still not happy, there is a current bidding process for a third company to enter the market and allow for more competition.

All I’m saying is I don’t doubt that Rami Makhluf is corrupt in some ways, but fact is he gives a lot back to Syria in one way or another while others before him, like Rif`at and Khaddam, had all the money in Europe where they both live in luxury villas today. Besides, did the US impose sanctions on Rami because he’s bad? The US never puts sanctions on bad people; it only puts sanctions on people who don’t do what it wants.

Tara, Syria can’t afford to have free media like others. I don’t think you realize how the west has done so much with media to destroy the image of presidents they don’t like. That goes for NGOs too. Syria has always been targeted and it’s nothing new. If we had Mubarak in Syria, the middle east would have been a very different Greater Israel and the west’s problems would be solved. Is it in the nature of Egyptians to be Israeli collaborators? No, but Mubarak took them that way and even helped a siege on Gaza for 4 years!!!!!!! It would be still on today if he hadn’t been ousted.

When al-Jazeera and BBC were in Damascus at the start, they ignored all the pro-Asad demonstrations, and especially the big one on March 29. They kept reporting about Dar`a, Lattakia, and Douma, making people think they were burning with anger. I kept asking myself, why don’t they report what they see instead of saying “activist said this” and “witness said that” and “lawyer from London with contacts in city x said this”? The answer is they’re not honest. Look at this refute of Cal Perry’s articles on Kana’an Online: http://kanaanonline.org/ebulletin-en/?p=337 . It has reached a point where a gunman on roof top is a “pro-regime sniper” and a terrorist thugs shooting their kalashnikovs randomly are “shabbiha”. Soldier died? Security killed him. Security officer died? Shabbiha killed him. Enough is enough, and media being allowed access won’t fix this. Just remember who is funding them! France24, BBC, al-Jazeera, al-Arabiya, Orient, Reuters, AP, AFP, etc etc etc you always need to follow the money trail. There is no such thing as “free and independent media”.

Also if you’re interested in what I was saying about covert ways in which western governments manipulated international leaders and citizens for their own interests, you can look at this: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H7t_103lkdA This will make you appreciate the fact we don’t have a national debt, while you see Egypt and Jordan with huge national debt without much development to show for it (especially Jordan!).

There is no doubt Syria isn’t perfect, but we have a president who agrees about the need for reform. Bashar is not an expert at everything, so committees must be formed and allowed time to arrive at the best possible solutions given certain criteria. It is the right way to go about change and reform. If the peaceful demonstrations law is implemented right, then people will be able to peacefully demand any other reforms they may want, and if they have the numbers to back up their demands, it is clear that the president will attempt to respond positively. But as long as armed terrorists are on the streets, and sneaking into protests (ie mundasseen), this just can’t happen right now.

To the Zionist guy,

Stop equating anti-Zionist and anti-Israel with anti-Jewish. Otherwise, you’d just be talking to anti-semetic semites.

Jad, #327

It already happened on youtube and on the facebook page from before. I’m surprised it didn’t go mainstream yet. It really feels like they’re saving stories for future use. I think their strategy is to keep protests going for as long as possible in the hopes of breaking down the economy because they care so much for Syrians.

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May 31st, 2011, 2:26 am


331. syau said:


I expected as much, especially after the child that they tried to accuse security forces of killing and mutilating. There have been previous attempts of attempted rapes, both of soldiers wifes and children and others I have heard about in Tal Kalakh by the gangs of the revolution. Thank God they didn’t materialise.

I assumed they would try to fabricate a story like that. I think people will be smart enough to know it is yet another fabrication in the revolutions never ending web of deceit. Thanks for the heads up.

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May 31st, 2011, 2:33 am


332. democracynow said:

May 31st, 2011, 2:47 am


333. Sophia said:

# 309 AIG,

Your country is not a democractic country.

1. You don’t try your religious men for abusing their wives and children
2. You have discriminatory laws
3. You don’t respect international law
4. Your multiparty democracy is not functional. Since 2000, your governments are coalition governments acting like emergency governments in order not to yield to international pressure toward peace with Palestinians and Arabs, agressively invade neighbouring countries trying to influence their internal politics, and maintain the state of Apartheid inside Israel and the territories it occupies, not to mention continual land theft.

You are a sham democracy.

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May 31st, 2011, 4:57 am


334. Sophia said:

“A surge of sectarian violence in Cairo has turned Christian-Muslim tensions into one of the gravest threats to the revolution’s stability”

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May 31st, 2011, 5:12 am


335. Usama said:

I accidentally came across a picture of a memorial for “7alba massacre” victims, and I haven’t heard about this before so I did some research and I found out it was a massacre that Future Movement members committed against SSNP members in 2008. The one site I came across (http://forum.tayyar.org/f8/halba-massacre-survivors-story-34085/) had a video that is VERY GRAPHIC… SERIOUSLY (http://www.ssnp.info/media/Halba023L.wmv). The facial “wound” on one of those victims is reminiscent of Jannood’s. Here we’re blaming “extremists” or “Islamists” for carving up Jannood, when just kilometers past the border with northern Lebanon, Hariri’s men have been doing similar things. Shooting someone is one thing, but using instruments like knives and axes is just so intimate and a sure sign of psychotic killers.

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May 31st, 2011, 5:15 am


336. Sophia said:

# 333, Usama,

All these psychotic killers roam now with impunity in Lebanon.

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May 31st, 2011, 5:28 am


337. Jonathan Levy said:

331. Sophia

I found your post very interesting. You say “[Israel] is not a democracy”. Then to try to prove this, you list Israeli policies with which you disagree, and describe them in pejorative terms.

Let me give you an example to explain what a democracy is.

After the second lebanon war, many people in Israel were displeased with the performance of the Olmert government, and organized protests against it. I went to some of these. We stood and shouted slogans, held signs, gave speeches, and applauded.

The policement stood next to us and did nothing. They did not shoot us. They did not hit us. They did not curse us. They did not bring plain-clothes thugs to do any of that. Our cellphones were not disconnected. No Mukhabarat broke into our homes in the middle of the night.

We did not throw stones. We did not loot shops. We did not have to worry that other people were raiding our homes when we couldn’t defend them. We did not molest foreign female journalists.

What we did do was stand and shout ‘Down with Olmert!’ and ‘Down with Peretz!’. And unlike Egypt, Syria, and Libya, when election day came, Olmert was voted out of office. And then he left. He did not extend his own term. He did not arrange for his son to inherit him. He did not outlaw the parties of his rivals. He did not have his own private army to keep him in power. He passed his job to his successor, and retired into the shame which he earned himself.

That is what “democracy” means. Now Sophia from (presumably) Syria says that because Olmert is an aggresive colonialist, (or maybe because Netanyahu defies international law?) Israel is not a democracy. That has nothing to do with it. The point is that Israeli citizens (including Arab citizens) don’t have to burn themselves alive in order to change their government.

“Sham” democracy?

I’ll take my “sham” democracy over your genuine tyranny any day.

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May 31st, 2011, 6:03 am


338. syau said:


Take a look at this, apparently Al Jazeera officials advised Fida Alsayed to work on pictures of women and children being tortured if he wantd to have an effect in Syria. This also ties into what you mentioned before.


Usama #333,

The animals who committed these crimes have the same deranged psychotic mind that Hariri has. Being connected to him, it doesn’t surprise me they would commit such atrocious acts.

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May 31st, 2011, 6:10 am


339. Akbar Palace said:

When Arab Governments kill their own, there’s only one thing to do NewZ

In Post 235, Averroes made a challenge:

I challenge you to find any clip where any Syrian official says anything that is anti-Jewish. I challenge you.

After posting several quotes from Syrian officials up to and including President Bashar Assad, Averroes responded in Post 312:

Antisemitic blah blah blah antisemitic blah blah blah blah. Antisemitic blah blah antisemitic blah antisemitic blah blah Antisemitic blah blah blah blah blah.

That’s the essence of your argument.

Syrians are Semites, and we are not anti-Jewish.

Need we say more?

Actually, Algerian Author Anwar Malek has:

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May 31st, 2011, 6:42 am


340. haz said:

Bashar should be allowed to remain president for as long as he has the interests of the nation at heart. If at any time he does not have the interests of the nation at heart, we are permitted to ask quietly and politely for him please to not be president any more. When the mukhabarat torture our children for speaking against the president in this way we should thank them for showing us the error of our ways and for helping us to understand that he really DOES have the interests of the nation at heart.
When he has earned his repose and is sleeping in Qardaha, we will learn that, hamdillah!, Hafez jr also has the best interests of the nation at heart! Insha’allah, Hafez jr will have a son and call him Bashar. Insha’allah. Insha’allah! But remember to tell your grandchildren about the events of today – they should never ask for anything, but if they do, always say please, and thank you for the kick in the balls.

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May 31st, 2011, 6:59 am


341. syau said:


It’s a deal, on the condition you promise to tell your grandchildren about the wonders of a violent revolution, where murders, destruction and division are a norm.

Be sure to tell them that Bashar stood up against outside influences when the revolutionists were in bed with them, and, make sure you tell your grandchildren that if they want protest for something and their wishes are adhered to, not to be satisfied, just to take up armes and commit the most horrific crimes under the banner of a revolution.

And by the way, let them know to add in the spice of sectarianism to attempt division because that will always create hate. You can also throw in that fabrications is a great way to get media attention.

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May 31st, 2011, 7:12 am


342. haz said:

Why would I do that?
I will of course tell them that they live in a country where the president has their best interests at heart and that everyone else in the world hates them, has always hated them and always will hate them, and spends every waking minute hatching ingenious plots to destroy them.
I will tell them they must not question the president as long as Israel, the US, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, the EU, the Hariri family, wahabieen, Muslim Brotherhood, Jews, Free Masons exist anywhere in the world.
They must remember that even when they are being starved and punched repeatedly in the face, they cannot ask for freedom, bread or justice if anyone anywhere in the country is raising their voice, saying something mean, telling a lie, or if anyone gets hurt.
My grand children will ask nicely, say thank you for the punch in the face, and then wait patiently for Hafez jr, jr to begin his next ten year plan of reforms. Maybe he will ban cars from the Old City! And really, really mean it this time!

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May 31st, 2011, 7:40 am


343. Revlon said:

The autorities in HOMS have replaced Jr’s burnt poster at a large turnabout, with The Syrian National Flag.

The revolution has prevailed!
Homs has been liberated from all symbols of tyranny!
Another battle of will has been won!

http://www.facebook.com/Syrian.Revolution#!/photo.php?fbid=10150657332470727&set=a.10150397575815727.619133.420796315726&type=1&theaterThe Syrian Revolution 2011 الثورة السورية ضد بشار الاسد

الثورة السورية ..بعد المحاولات اليائسة للنظام البائد (بإذن الله) بقمع المظاهرات وإعادة هيبة النظام الفاسد … بدء النظام باستبدال صور بشار المحروقة بصور أعلام سوريا
اليوم وبحمد الله قام النظام باستبدال أكبر صورة لبشار الفاسد بصورة لعلم سوريا … وذلك بعد أن تم حرق صورة الطاغية من قبل ثوار حمص الأحرار عند دوار طرابلس في حمص
نرفق لكم الصورة … وهي تبين سيارة تقوم بتركيب صورة علم سوريا بعد إزالة صورة الطاغية المحروقة تاريخ 31/5/2011.
ولمن لا يريد أن يصدق فليذهب إلى دوار طرابلس ليرى صورة علم سوريا الحرة …. التي بدأت تحيا من جديد
الله أكبر الله أكبر الله أكبر
عاشت سورية

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May 31st, 2011, 7:48 am


344. FinalCountdown said:

Ali and Wassim Sanqar amongst businessmen joining the oppossition, apparently, attending the meetings in Turkey.

For those that don’t know, they are the exclusive distributors for Mercedes in Damascus. More on them in the report.


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May 31st, 2011, 7:54 am


345. 873 said:

310. AIG said:

“Let’s not forget who is lying here and not letting the free press in to cover the events and see the truth. The regime should let in the Russian, Chinese, American, all the press in the world if it thinks it is doing the right thing.”

Sure, like you hypocrites did during Cast Lead. An IDF sadist’s opinion on freedom and humanitarianism is fit for dogs only.

MK Kara: Syrian opposition asked for Israel’s help
By Jerusalem POST.COM STAFF 05/28/2011

Likud deputy minister says anti-regime figures in Syria wanted Netanyahu to use influence to convince int’l community to pressure Assad.

Deputy Minister for Galilee and Negev Development Ayoub Kara (Likud) on Saturday said that members of the Syrian opposition had turned to him to ask for Israel’s help in stopping the violence of Syrian President Bashar Assad’s regime against them. Kara made the statements at a cultural event in Beersheba.

“The Syrian opposition asked for my help because of my connections. They wanted me to go to the government for help, that we would ask the UN, the US and the EU to go against Assad.

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May 31st, 2011, 7:56 am


346. syau said:


Ok, if that’s what you really want, they are after all your grandchildren. I will give mine a lesson on how not to get involved in sectarianism, with anyone that resembles Hariri and his co conspirators.

I will also teach them how to respect all sects and advise them not to hate a president because of his religion, just to see that person as the leader of their country.

Most of all I will teach them to open their eyes and to know right from wrong, if a sheikh condones violence even though it goes against the core of all religions, and in his khitab’s gives fatwa’s to murders and mutilations, rape of selective sects, to know that they were raised to follow their own mind and know right from wrong.

Violent protests are wrong. Initially reforms were demanded, the president heard these demands, they are now in the process of being implemented, but somehow that wasn’t enough, it never is for violent people who care not for the people in harms way, just themselves.

If these activists have a shred of humanity in them, they would call for an end to the violent demonstrations instead of giving a different name to every Friday and asking gangs to mask themselves in order not to be recognised, codoning the violence happening while sitting behind their computers in safety not caring who is harmed. “Wa Malo, 40 or 50 thousand can die, wa malo” as long as they meet their agenda.

My children and grandchildren will be raised not to be traitors of their country for any amount of money. Basically, they will be raised well.

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May 31st, 2011, 8:07 am


347. Revlon said:

Hamza El Khatib and Syrian Revolution in the eyes of American media
CNN: AC360 5/30/2011

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May 31st, 2011, 8:08 am


348. USS Liberty said:

Israeli Minister says a military strike on Iran may be necessary
Posted on May 31, 2011 by Fox News

JERUSALEM – An Israeli Cabinet minister said the civilized world must take joint action to avert the Iranian nuclear threat, including a pre-emptive strike if necessary.

-Now that the West, working through mista’aravim and covert ops via Lebanon Mar 14 & Co have destabilized and ‘softened up’ Iran’s closest ally Syria? Attack Iran.

A nuclear false flag as casus belli for the west and NATO to assist in WW3 attack on Iran has been threatened repeatedly by Israeli sayanim and certain AIPAC traitors in US gov. Nuke NYC, Chicago, LA etc and blame it on Iran?

One treasonous dual-national quoted scripture to justify it as “Gods Wrath” due to Obama’s demand that Iz return to its legal 1967 borders. Funny how the atheists wield that religion card when handy.
Even weirder is how the FBI NEVER shows up at their doors for making such terrorist threats.

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May 31st, 2011, 8:11 am


349. Sophia said:

#336 Allahu Akbar Palace,

If the quotes you unearthed are anti-semites than what do you say of zionists quotes about Arabs?



Anti-semitism is a european concept. It does not have its place in the ME conflict because both people are of semitic origin, even better than that:


At the same time, Israel’s unashamedly best friends are real anti-semites:

Apartheid south Africa
American Christian zionists

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May 31st, 2011, 8:13 am


350. NearEnd said:

Reportedly, 4 Alawite clans (Nuwaliya, Kalbiya, Haddadiya, Khayyatiya) disassociate themselves from the Assad clan.


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May 31st, 2011, 8:14 am


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