Syrians Donating to Opposition; News Round Up (Nov. 23, 2011)

A friend Writes:

A friend of mine attended the conference in Paris. Bourhan Ghalioun was not there because he was meeting the British officials. Basma kadmani was supposedly impressive. She spoke about them having refused to get any money from non Syrians even though they have been approached repeatedly. Having said, many wealthy Syrians are helping and are prepared to give more according to what my friend heard from there.

Another Friend:

That is the truth and I know it for a fact. Many many many wealthy Syrians, inside and outside, are giving money. There is so much investment in anti-Bashar that it’s impossible to roll back.

Another writer:

I appreciate your insights and the unbiased approach with regards to the Alawite questions. As an Alawite myself, I was born in the mountains of Antioch,I am extremely worried about what is going on in the Middle East and the repercussions on my people in Turkey and Syria. My village is within miles of the Syrian refugees who are being “hosted” on the Turkish side of the border. Even though I have deep reservations about the Baath and their ideology and am in favor of open, transparent, pluralistic democracy based on human rights and the rule of law, it does not keep me from worrying about a disorderly unraveling of political order in Syria and what it represents for my people….

Syria, Iran and the Balance of Power in the Middle East
By George Friedman

Thus far al Assad has resisted his enemies. Though some mid- to low-ranking Sunnis have defected, his military remains largely intact; this is because the Alawites control key units. Events in Libya drove home to an embattled Syrian leadership – and even to some of its adversaries within the military – the consequences of losing. The military has held together, and an unarmed or poorly armed populace, no matter how large, cannot defeat an intact military force. The key for those who would see al Assad fall is to divide the military.

If al Assad survives – and at the moment, wishful thinking by outsiders aside, he is surviving – Iran will be the big winner

CBS News: U.S. urges Americans to leave Syria “immediately”, 2011-11-23

 (CBS/AP) BEIRUT – The U.S. Embassy in Damascus urged its citizens in Syria to depart “immediately,” and Turkey’s foreign ministry urged Turkish pilgrims to opt for flights to return home from Saudi Arabia to avoid traveling through Syria. “The …

Nikolaus van Dam on Syria’s three possible main scenarios for transition

“Just because you are on the throne does not mean you are actually in power,” Nikolaos van Dam, Dutch scholar, author of several books on Syria, and former ambassador to Egypt, Iraq, and Turkey, among other places, told The Epoch Times.

“It is similar to the situation under his father [Hafez al-Assad]. [In charge] is a group of officers and security personnel who have very close ties and the same background,” he said.

Bashar al-Assad came to power as the anointed successor to his father, but his background in the West and manners misled many people into believing that he was more liberal than he turned out to be, or that he had more space to make changes than he did, van Dam says.

“The officers needed him and he needed them. But he did not earn his seat like his father, by winning it in a struggle. So it is a different situation.”

Nevertheless, says van Dam, as president, if he disagreed, he could have stepped down. “It would be rather strange to be president and not be responsible for your own deeds.”

Bruce Jentleson, professor of Public Policy and Political Science, and former senior adviser to the State Department, is of a similar opinion. “Power in Syria is more opaque than it was in Egypt, Tunisia, or Libya. While more than a figurehead, Bashar al-Assad doesn’t sit as much at the apex of power as Mubarak, Ben Ali, or Gadhafi did,” he said. “Syria could be left with Assadism without Assad.”

Thus, removing al-Assad from power may not automatically open up the process of change, he argues.

It may also prove desperately hard to do for anyone outside of the strong and well-armed Alawite minority elite that rule Syria, according to van Dam. He sees three possible main scenarios for transition in Syria.

One is a coup from within, by someone reform-minded who is far enough removed from power not to fear going down with al-Assad, but still close enough to have the muscle to do it.

Only people with power and arms could perform a successful coup in Syria. But it’s easier said than done.

— Nikolaos van Dam, Syria scholar

“Only people with power and arms could perform a successful coup in Syria. But it’s easier said than done. If you start contemplating it and taking people into confidence, you may be executed the next day,” he said.

The second scenario is that al-Assad agrees to step down and leaves the country, which would require guarantees that he will not be prosecuted.

The third is civil war, and this is by far the worst scenario, says van Dam. “The outcome is unknown, and it will be damaging for society for generations to come. You will have only losers in the end. Nobody wants this, especially not the mostly peaceful demonstrators,” he said.

A civil war also runs a high risk of destabilizing the entire region, according to observers. Lebanon in particular is often mentioned, but also Iraq and even Turkey may get drawn into it, van Dam said.

Another group that has been mentioned as influential is what Jentleson calls al-Assad’s “business cronies;” businessmen, many of them members of the al-Assad family, who have made a lot of money by colluding with the government. Despite their economic power, they may not have much political influence, however, according to van Dam. And it’s hard to know which way they would swing if the regime showed signs of going down.

“They want to be safe. They cooperated with the regime out of self-interest. The regime has many supporters, but how many of them support it out of conviction? The businessmen are probably afraid of the alternatives. What if a Sunni regime that discriminates against Alawites would come to power?” asks van Dam.

Regardless of what happens within the regime, van Dam thinks that the rest of the world has locked itself in a dangerous position by simply declaring the Assad regime illegitimate and proposing sanctions, for lack of other means of exerting pressure.

“The EU has not even tried to negotiate with al-Assad. Having only sanctions cuts off your ability to influence. Sanctions killed 300,000 people in Iraq, and it didn’t help. Imagine that the regime stays in power for several years, then what? It is better to be pragmatic and avoid bloodshed,” he says.

In his view, the Arab League is probably the best chance for a peaceful resolution at this point. Although they have not been successful so far, he thinks they have a greater chance at convincing their Arab brothers than the West does.

Overall, the situation doesn’t look good for Syria. “It is hard to be optimistic,” said the former ambassador.

Hezbollah ‘cripples’ CIA — or so it seems

BEIRUT, Lebanon, Nov. 22 (UPI) — Hezbollah’s roll-up ofan alleged CIA operation in Beirut has given the Iranian-backed movement an immense boost at a time when its ally, the Syrian regime in Damascus, is fighting for survival…. The U.S. reports over the last several days about how Hezbollah’s formidable counterintelligence arm was able to uncover CIA recruitment of its personnel and expose an entire CIA network to infiltrate the movement’s security apparatus indicate that Hezbollah crippled the U.S. operation.

“Beirut station is out of business,” one CIA source was quoted as saying by the Los Angeles Times Sunday….

Hezbollah and Lebanese authorities have also arrested more than 150 people, including senior army officers and prominent political figures, on charges of spying for Israel, with Hezbollah the primary target. By any standards that’s a massive network — and it must be presumed others remain at large.

Since qhadaffi fell, i hear libyan real estate is up 3 times

Cameron: War looms in Syria 

David Cameron urged world leaders to “engage” with Syrian opposition groups yesterday as he warned the country was on the brink of a full-scale civil war.

The Prime Minister praised interventions by Turkey and the Arab League against Bashar al-Assad’s brutal suppression of protests. Speaking alongside Turkish President Abdullah Gul in Downing Street, he said: “Today we had important discussions on Syria, where now a full-scale civil war is a real possibility.

“The world now needs to get behind with concerted pressure on the regime and positive engagement with the opposition, who can represent Syria in an inclusive transition,” he added.

“Syria is now at a dead end so change is inevitable,” Mr Gul had earlier said.

CNN: Cyberwar explodes in Syria

Istanbul (CNN) — A familiar digital chime rang on the computer. Someone was calling via Skype from Syria. It was a law student and opposition activist from the city of Homs who uses the pseudonym Musaab al Hussaini to protect himself from arrest. …

“It Will Not Be Syria, It Will Be Libya”: 20,000 marchers in Tahrir Square, November 21, 2011

“This is the breaking point we were all waiting for. Getting rid of Mubarak was just the warm-up. This is the real showdown.”

In a challenge to the ruling military council, Egypt’s interim cabinet has offered to resign. 20,000 people have occupied Tahrir Square since the weekend and many have clashed with security forces in some of the worse violence since the uprising earlier this year that overthrew Hosni Mubarak. At least 33 people have been killed and over 1,500 injured so far. Thousands are reportedly chanting “The people want the end of the field marshal,” a reference to Field Marshal Mohamed Hussein Tantawi, the leader of the military council, the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF). They are also chanting “it will not be Syria, it will be Libya.”….

“”The Muslim Brotherhood and other political parties met on Monday after which the Brotherhood issued a “collective apology” for not joining the protesters’ calls for the SCAF to loosen its hold on power earlier. But the Brotherhood, which is the best organized of Egypt’s political organizations and stands to win a majority in the upcoming elections, also said that it would not participate in the “million man march.”””

الرئيس ينهي تكليف عماد مصطفى واشاعات عن رغبة بثينة بالحلول محله

Syrian government, Russia criticize Britain’s calls against Assad

DAMASCUS, Nov. 21 (Xinhua) — British Foreign Secretary William Hague on Monday called on Syrian opposition to “unite” against President Bashar al-Assad, while Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov chided such calls from Western countries as provocation.

“It is important for opposition groups to be able to put aside their own differences and come to a united view of the way forward, ” Hague made the remarks after meeting with Syrian opposition representatives in London on Monday.

However, he said Britain was not ready to recognize the Syrian opposition as the country’s legitimate government.

“We are not at the point of a formal recognition, partly because there is not a single council as there was in Libya. They are not in control of territory in Syria as the council was in Libya and the international community has not reached that point,” Hague said.

Meanwhile, Lavrov said that “so far, when the Arab League (AL) urges to stop the violence and start dialogues, Western countries and some countries in the region call for the opposition to avoid such dialogues with Bashar al-Assad’s regime.”

Abuses over international law and the UN authority cannot be allowed, Lavrov added.

The remarks of Hague and Lavrov came after Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s confirmation that he would press on with a crackdown against what he called armed groups targeting civilians, policemen, army personnel in his country despite increased pressure from the AL.

“The conflict will continue and the pressure to subjugate Syria will continue,” Assad told the Britain’s Sunday Times newspaper. ” However, I assure you that Syria will not bow down and that it will continue to resist the pressure being imposed on it,” he said….

In yet another move to place pressure on Damascus, the AL has said that it will sponsor a meeting combining different opposition figures to help them form a united front….

U.N. draft is a “declaration of war” on Syria: envoy

Louis Charbonneau, Reuters, November 21, 2011

UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) – Syria’s U.N. envoy on Monday slammed a draft U.N. resolution condemning the Syrian government’s eight-month crackdown on pro-democracy protesters, calling it a “declaration of war” on Damascus.

Syrian Ambassador Bashar Ja’afari was referring to a draft resolution on Syria which Germany submitted to the U.N. General Assembly’s human rights committee. The draft, which was crafted by Germany, Britain and France, has five Arab states among its 61 co-sponsors.

“This was tabled in the context of declaring a political and media and diplomatic war on my country,” Ja’afari told the committee, which is comprised of the 193 U.N. member states.

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“It is a declaration of war that aims to affect the independence of our political decision-making and stop us from moving ahead in our national political agendas,” he said.

Syria has promised the United Nations that it would halt military operations against civilians and implement political reforms. But U.N. officials say Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has failed to keep any of his promises.

The draft resolution says the committee “strongly condemns the continued grave and systematic human rights violations by the Syrian authorities, such as arbitrary executions, excessive use of force and the persecution and killing of protesters and human rights defenders.”….

Syrian cameraman killed his eyes gouged out, Mr. Ferzat Jarban, in the town of al-Qasir.

Hezbollah reaffirms support to Syrian regime – 2011-11-22

BEIRUT, Nov. 21 (Xinhua) — Lebanese Shiite armed group Hezbollah confirmed Monday its support to Syria and Iran against ” international conspiracies” and said it opposed that Lebanon be used as a launch pad for plots against its biggest neighbor.

“What is taking place in Syria is an international conspiracy that targets Syria due to its position as a rejectionist state as well as its supportive policies to Arab and Islamic resistance movements, especially in Palestine,” Hezbollah and its ally Lebanese Shiite group the Amal Movement said in a joint statement.

“We affirm our support to Syria, its people, army and institutions, and oppose the use of Lebanon as a launch pad to conspire against sisterly Syria,” the statement added.

“In a significant failure for the United States in the Mideast, more than a dozen spies working for the CIA in Iran and Lebanon have been caught and the U.S. government fears they will be or have been executed, according to four current and former U.S. officials with connections to the intelligence community.

The spies were paid informants recruited by the CIA for two distinct espionage rings targeting Iran and the Beirut-based Hezbollah organization, considered by the U.S. to be a terror group backed by Iran.”

Some Damascene businessmen still supporting the regime:

دعا إلى فرض حالة الطوارئ وتشكيل مجلس استشاري
الدكتور العطار : كل من ترك البلد وعاش مترقبا ليس وفيا

دمشق- سيرياستيبس:

في بداية الأحداث…حدد الدكتور عبد الرحمن العطار موقفه بالإعلان عن أنه ( ولعله كان يتحدث باسم كل تجار دمشق الشرفاء ) ضد المجهول الذي يحرض ويحمل السلاح…وأنه مع المعلوم – الذي هو الدولة والوطن –.

مرّة ثانية نلتقي العطار ..و مازال ثابتاً على موقفهِ, فمن لا يكون وفياً لوطنه – في هذه الظروف التي وصفها بأنها الأقسى التي تتعرض لها سورية. – ..لا يستحق العيش فيه بل إنه يرى أن كل رجل أعمال وكل تاجر و صناعي وثري اختار ترك البلاد والعيش في بلد آخر مع أسرته خلال هذه الظروف بأنه غير وفي وبأنهم يرتكبون خطأً جسيماً بهذا التصرف..

واصفاً المعارضة بالكرتونية – ومتسائلاً- كيف يمكن لأولئك أن يجلسوا في الصالونات – صالونات الدول التي تتآمر على وطنهم- ويتحدثوا عن الناس الذين يموتون في الشوارع فكيف يمكن أن يشعروا بهم…!؟

العطار وفي رده على سؤال ” لسيرياستيبس” قال : النظام لن يسقط وستخرج سورية أقوى, ولكن لابد من تحويل مؤسسات الدولة كلها إلى ورشة عمل حقيقية لتصحيح الأخطاء ووضع سياسات جديدة أكثر انعكاساً على الأرض خاصة لجهة تعيين المسؤولين, وهنا تساءل العطار ( متألماً) ..أين هو التمثيل الدمشقي في مختلف المؤسسات بدءاً من المؤسسة الحزبية إلى مجلس مدينة دمشق..إلى …

Webster Tarpley : Western powers are behind the violence in Syria RT

Turkish Leader Calls for Assad to Resign in Syria
By SEBNEM ARSU, November 22, 2011

ISTANBUL, Turkey — In his most blatant criticism yet of Syria’s political repression, the prime minister of Turkey said for the first time on Tuesday that the Syrian president should resign, raising the pressure on him from a country that Syria had once counted as its friendliest neighbor and economic partner.

The criticism by the Turkish prime minister, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, of the Syrian president, Bashar al-Assad, was not totally unexpected, given Mr. Erdogan’s increasing exasperation with Mr. Assad’s intransigence over the political uprising against him, now in its eighth month. But Mr. Erdogan’s comments were notable nonetheless for his explicit language, in which he also likened Mr. Assad to the self-delusional dictators of history who have met violent and messy ends, most recently Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi of Libya.

“Just remove yourself from that seat before shedding more blood, before torturing more and for the welfare of your country as well as the region,” Mr. Erdogan said of Mr. Assad in a televised statement at his party meeting in Ankara.

Rifaat al-Assad’s version of what happened in Hama

If you are interested in what Salafi and Wahabi shaykhs are saying about Syria and the Alawis, watch this Fundamentalist Christian network with clips of a number of shaykhs. It is revealing.

لدليل 40 شيوخ الفتاوى تجار الدماء

Independent: Robert Fisk: Egyptian crisis gives Syria time to talk about democracy, 2011-11-23
Robert Fisk

Egypt is the best thing to happen to Syria for a long time. Just when Western leaders – and Qatar – were hounding President Bashar al-Assad for his brutal suppression of opposition demonstrations, along comes the latest crisis in Egyptian cities …

U.S.’s Rice Will Say UN Mandate Stopped Rwanda Repeat in Libya, 2011-11-23
By Flavia Krause-Jackson

Nov. 23 (Bloomberg) — U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice will say the use of military firepower against Libyan dictator Muammar Qaddafi prevented a catastrophe akin to the 1994 Rwanda genocide, in the capital Kigali today. “Every situation is different, of course, and calls for a different policy response,” Rice will say in a speech today, according to a draft obtained by Bloomberg News. “Yet many of us heard strong echoes of 1994 when Muammar Qaddafi promised that he would root out the people of Benghazi and go house to house killing innocents like ‘rats.’” Visiting Rwanda after a surprise trip to Libya, Rice’s comments come as the international community pursues alternatives to military intervention to stop bloodshed in Syria, where a government crackdown on protesters has killed more than 3,500 people, according to UN estimates.

‘The tide turns against Bashar Assad’ (The Economist)

“Turkey, the neighbour with the biggest punch, has been fiercest in calling for Syria’s regime to reform or die. Its government hosts the main political opposition, the Syrian National Council (SNC), and harbours the leaders of the Free Syrian Army, a burgeoning group of defecting soldiers. More recently Turkey has threatened to cut off electricity to northern Syria. Tensions between Syria’s internal and external opposition inevitably persist, though the SNC is doing quite well in maintaining a broad front that includes a strong component of Muslim Brothers as well as secular liberals. Some council members may be drawing premature hope from Libya’s experience, in the unwise expectation that the West and the UN may impose a no-fly zone over Syria and invoke a “responsibility to protect” civilians. Despite the Arab League’s increasingly robust demands that Mr Assad should engage in a proper dialogue, he still seems unlikely to do so. But his room for manoeuvre is a lot more limited than it was even a month ago.”

Comments (229)

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201. irritated said:

The Terminator Erdogan compares Bashar al Assad to Adolph Hitler.

The only problem is that Turkey is responsible for the second largest known holocaust in history: the massacre of millions of armenians and hundred of thousands of Kurds, still denied by the self-righteous modern Turkey.

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November 25th, 2011, 9:26 am


202. N.Z. said:


You seem to be genuinely concerned. You eluded in your response that you want to be optimistic, but no signs to lead you in that direction, you believe that all foreign powers are not to be trusted, I cannot agree with you more on this one.

FSA, were not airborne, neither Hamas nor Hizbullah.

FSA, are uneducated and do not understand what democracy means.

Now, I am not more concerned for one group of Syrian, more than the other. We are all Syrians. But the silence and the lack of condemnation towards Assad’s atrocities from the Alawites, is a complacent one.

All groups, including SNC, on many occasions went out and stated the unity of our people, the oneness of Syrian. All protesers chanted, ONE ONE ONE, SYRIAN PEOPLE ARE ONE!

SC, a sample of Syrian society, not once, have I read a comment, that states, in a positive light, Muslims. They are always painted as wahabis, salafis, MBs, KSA and all the stupidity that comes with resentment.

Accusing any person, educated or not, that he does not know what freedom means is unacceptable.

Assad does not own Syria nor Syrians. This family treated all Syrians equally, with disdain, they are traitors.

We kicked the thousands of French only to discover that an agent, a Syrian traitor was to replace them, fulfilling the interest of the west, by hindering the advancement of our people. Education was their first prey.

I think this quote speaks volume, remember, we are equally human.

متى اسعبدتم الناس وقد خلقهم امهاتهم احرارا

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November 25th, 2011, 9:40 am


203. zoo said:

As the Qatar sponsored AL initiative appears shaky and unproductive, Saudi Arabia is ready to sponsor another GCC initiative based on its ‘success’ in Yemen.

GCC prepared to put forward Gulf initiative for Syria – Saudi FM
As for the Syrian crisis, Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Saud al-Faisal said that the GCC is prepared to put forward an accord similar to the Yemeni initiative. Prince Saud al-Faisal said “The GCC Secretary General is present and the accord is available. If they [Syria] ask for a similar accord [to the Yemeni initiative], we are ready to put it forward. We hope such a development would happen, but you cannot impose anything.”

He added that this is what the Arab League had tried to do, putting forward a “framework” to solve the crisis and calling for a dialogue to discuss this resolution, with Syria initially accepting this, only to later “change” the entire framework of the accord. The Saudi Foreign Minister stressed that this is what led the Arab League Secretary General to ask the ministerial council to convene.

“Prince Saud al-Faisal also stressed that “we don’t want to internationalize the issue. We want an Arab solution. We put forward views that we believe are in the interest of Syria and which will put an end to the bloodshed. These ideas include meeting with different parties to reach a political solution that will ensure that the losses that have been made as a result of this fighting never occurs again.” He added “we put forward a solution that we believe will save the country from foreign intervention, and will also save it from the threat of fragmentation and economic collapse, but regrettably there has been no response [from Syria].”

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November 25th, 2011, 9:44 am


204. Ya Mara Ghalba said:

@ Juergen #193. Read this year’s new legislation on (1) Political Parties Law, and (2) Elections Law. Supplementarily see the new law on information media. Some introductory info about those laws is in English at

Syria has always had a multiplicity of political parties. But under Article 8 of the Constitution the Baath Party has automatic control of Parliament. Article 8 is being deleted in the forthcoming revised Constitution.

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November 25th, 2011, 9:44 am


205. Juergen said:

@ irritated
Nationalism is never really a product of our rational mind.
I can tell you a nice story by a german friend who went on umra. Most turkish pilgrims wear the ihram with a turkish flag stiched to. he was waiting to kiss the black stone. the turk was waiting in front of him but left gaps between him and the line. My friend gestured to him to move on, the turk took his hand and touched his flag saying in turkish i am turkish. My friend was astranged by this in front of the kaabah and answered that he is german.

nationalism like is said is for me a desease and surely Turkey is a stronghold of nationalism,and it has cost many nonturkish lives.
Who to blame? Mostly nationalism was introduced by the european powers as a substitute for religion, a common base for otherwise indifferent people.

When Erdogan referred to Hitler it was not helpful but the speech had the meaning that Assad should look into history and make a move instead of dying like Mussolini, Hitler,Ceaucescu and Ghadaffi.

To blame Turkey for the genocide against the Armenians is is like blaming the german government for the genocide of the jewish, you can blame morally since such a crime was never acknowledged officially by the turks. The Nazis by the way learned how to build concentration camps from reading books on the first concentration camps for massive killings build by the Turks in Deir az Zohr.

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November 25th, 2011, 9:54 am


206. mjabali said:

Irritated comment # 197

Turkey is a state build on blood and the killing of others (This is a FACT).

The name Turkey is foreign to the area and was forced by the sword. Turks came from Central Asia and Turkey should be the name of a state over there not over the ruins of one of the most ancient people and civilizations in the Middle East.

It is one of the biggest ethnic cleansing ventures in history that no one seem to notice and study what happened to the REAL people of that land?

Just one or two days ago Erdugan issued a half ass apology about the massacre of the Alawi Kurds in the famous incident at Dersim in the years 1934-1937 where thousand of Alawi Kurds were massacred. The timing of this apology is interesting. But, of course, Erdugan’s apology did not resonate well with the nationalist Turks who denied it of course as usual. By the way the Alawi Kurds were bombed from the air also in this incident.

The Turks massacred many and as for apologies they need to apologize a lot for lots of people…

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November 25th, 2011, 10:00 am


207. Juergen said:


forget to answer about Atatürk idoltry

this same german friend refers to Atatürk always as Shaitanotürk- he finds there is almost no nice picture of him where he does not have this weired looking

But really, the Assadmania is no better, i always wondered if some artists are still alive, after seeing some handmade paintings at monuments throughout Syria.

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November 25th, 2011, 10:01 am


208. norman said:

((186. Juergen said:

@ mjabali

Who cares still about the baath ideology?

Nationalism is for me a disease, and its certain that some countries are very ill while others just have a fever from time to time. Nationalism at the most will always produce hate if not more.))

I do care about the Baath ideology as the Baath party is the only party that is not associated with individuals and personalities but with a platform of unity, freedom and social justice , and one Arab nation with great mission to improve the world,

Nationalism is bad if it is to hate others but good when it is to inspire the people of the nation to love each other and work together for the overall good of the nation , supporting an Arab nation was and is still never against any other nation.

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November 25th, 2011, 10:17 am


209. Juergen said:

@Ya Mara Ghalba

Please, even a german like me, felt always the tension syrians have when the subject politics come up. A friend of mine studied in Damascus, and he asked sometimes shopowners or his landlord in fusah arabic, they immediatly were afraid he would adress them about politics, as fusah is widely used just for official purposes.

Can you at least say that elections in Syria have a record of frauds and manipulation?

How much power lies in the parliament of Syria? I dont see there is a opposition worthwile noting in damascus under the variety of political parties you suggest exist in Syria.

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November 25th, 2011, 10:27 am


210. Juergen said:


I can understand that personaly people have different opinions about the concept of nationalism, may be i am too german in this, after the nazi regime we tend to have difficulties of being nationalistic.

In my opinion there is no good in it, you will always end up leaving those who are not of your kind, your ideology, your language,your culture.

Baathism is just an overcome ideology, it may get some revival if ever we will have a process started which would end up into the foundation of a unified arab union, but now at this moment,its as dead as communism in the region. In Syria it does not even give the basic ground of politics anymore, it seems more or less even there an abondoned ideology, Assadism has taken control of the hearts and souls of a lot of Syrians.

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November 25th, 2011, 10:39 am


211. jad said:

العلمانيّة المغدورة في سوريا
(تقرير من إعداد: محمد ديبو)
مَن يراقب البيانات التي تصْدر عن مؤتمرات المعارضة السوريّة يَلْمح دخولَ مصطلح “الدولة المدنيّة” وغياب مصطلح “الدولة العلمانيّة،” مع أنّ المعارضة المذكورة تتكوّن من تيّارات وأحزاب وشخصيّات كانت منذ عقود (وما زالت في جزء منها) تعتبر نفسَها علمانيّة!
فلصالحِ مَن إحلالُ “الدولة المدنيّة” مكانَ “العلمانيّة”؟ وإنْ كان مفهومًا أن يُقْدم السياسيُّ على مبازرةٍ طالما امتهنها، فإنّ المستغرب أن يجاريه المثقفُ، فيقرأ بعينَي السياسيّ لا بعينيه هو. بل وصل الأمرُ بالمفكّر السوريّ برهان غليون، حين سأله مارسيل غانم كيف يتفق مع الإسلاميين وهو علمانيّ، أنْ ردّ مستنكرًا: “من قال إنني علمانيّ؟!” (ورد في مقال نزار العاني، “غليون والعقل السياسيّ العربيّ”). كذلك يفاجئنا المُنْصف المرزوقي بتصريحه الآتي: “لو كنتُ فرنسيًّا لكنتُ لائكيًّا [علمانيًّا]. لكنْ بما أنّني مسلم تونسيّ فلن أرضى باللائكيّة في بلدي.”(تقرير نشرته ا ف ب بعنوان “تونس تقطع علاقتها مع الماضي،” جريدة الرأي الأردنيّة
أثمّة ردّة في ما يحصل؟ هلّا توقّفنا عند تحذير شيرين عبادي، القاضية والناشطة الحقوقيّة الإيرانيّة الحائزة جائزةَ نوبل للسلام، حين خاطبتْ نساء اليقظة العربيّة أثناء مؤتمر “منبر النساء” في دوفيل بفرنسا قائلة: “لا ترتكبْن خطأنا. إنّ فصلَ الدين عن الدولة هو الضمانة الوحيدة للديموقراطيّة، لا لأنّ الخلل من الشريعة وإنّما لأنّ هذه قابلةٌ للتفسير من قِبَل الرجال الذين يريدون المزيدَ من التسلط ويروْن في الديموقراطيّة عدوًّا لتفرّدهم وخطفًا لصلاحيّاتٍ صادروها وأبعدوا النساءَ عنها عمدًا”؟ (راغدة درغام، “الغرب يصادر الثورات العربيّة لمصلحة الإسلاميين،” الحياة، 28/10/2011).
الهواجس السابقة وجّهناها إلى عددٍ من الفاعلين في الشأن السوريّ، علّنا نفهم ما يجري.

جاد الكريم الجباعي (باحث سوريّ): مكْر العلمانيين أدهى وأمرّ .
لا أعرف مَن يراقب بياناتِ المعارضة سوى لجان الصياغة، التي تعبِّر غالبًا عن نسبة القوى في المؤتمرات. وأدّعي أنّ هذه اللجان لا تهتمّ بالحقائق أو بالجهة التي توجِّه إليها بياناتِها، بقدر اهتمامها بالتعبير عن “ثوابتها ومبادئها،” وبقدر حرص كلّ واحدٍ من أعضائها على وضع بصمتِه أو سمةِ الاتجاه الذي يمثّله على تلك البيانات. وهذا أمرٌ مطّردٌ في أعمال لجان الصياغة في المؤتمرات، ولا سيّما مؤتمرات المعارضة التقليديّة. لذلك لا يُنظر إلى أيّ من هذه البيانات إلا بصفته “خطابًا مثقَّبًا” تقول فجواتُه أكثرَ مما تقوله كلماتُه.

أدّعي أيضًا أنّ أحزاب المعارضة التقليديّة الشائخة لم تتخلّ عن “الدولة العلمانية.” إذ ليس من المنطقيّ أن يتخلّى أحدٌ عن شيء لا يملكه أصلاً ــ فليس في فكر الأحزاب التقليديّة الموصوفة بالعلمانيّة وبرامجِها لا فكرةُ الدولة ولا فكرةُ الدولة العلمانيّة، بل لدى كلٍّ منها مشروعُ دولة “قوميّة” أو “اشتراكيّة” أو “إسلاميّة”، شموليّة لا تمتّ إلى الدولة العلمانيّة بصلة. لقد غابت فكرةُ الدولة الوطنيّة، أي العلمانيّة بالتمام والكمال، عن الثقافة السياسيّة منذ أكثر من نصف قرن، أيْ منذ اغتيال جنين الدولة الوطنيّة الذي كان آخذًا في النموّ بعيْد الاستقلال وبداية ما يسمّيه بعضُ الباحثين “العهد الليبراليّ.”

إنّ مصطلح “الدولة المدنيّة” الشائع اليوم في خطاب المعارضة السياسيّة هنا وهناك، وفي خطاب بعض المثقفين، هو مصطلحٌ محليّ لا أساسَ له في العلوم السياسيّة والقانونيّة. وقد ابتكره منظّرو الإخوان المسلمين في خمسينيّات القرن الماضي على أنه تعبيرٌ عن “حقيقة الدولة الإسلاميّة،” ويرْجعه بعضُهم إلى “الدولة” التي أقامها النبيّ محمّد في المدينة المنوّرة ووَضع لها “صحيفةً” يشبِّهها بعضُهم بالدستور. لكنّ أهمّ ما يدحض هذا المصطلح اليوم أنه من قبيل الأضداد (التي تحمل المعنى ونقيضه)، إذ يعني به الإسلاميون الدولة الإسلاميّة صراحةً، ويعني به “العلمانيون” الدولة العلمانيّة مواربةً. وفي اعتقادي أنّ شيوعه ناتجٌ عن جهل أو مكر، فكيف يأمن الناس على مستقبلهم بين الجهل والمكر؟ والمكْر هنا قسمة بين الإسلاميين والعلمانيين، ولعلّ مكر “العلمانيين” أدهى وأمرّ.

جورج طرابيشي (مفكّر سوريّ): ارتداد علمانيّ
من المؤسف أنّ الإسلاميين ـ المموَّلين بالبترودولارات، والمروَّجَ لهم بالصحافة والمحطّات الفضائيّة المموَّلة بدورها بالدولارات النفطيّة، والمتفوّقةِ بالتالي تفوقا تقنيًّا ساحقًا ـ استطاعوا أن يؤبلسوا كلمة “العلمانيّة” التي كانت الأحزابُ التقدميّة (القوميّة والشيوعيّة معًا) قد تحاشت اعتمادَها في مسعًى انتهازيٍّ منها لكسب أصوات الجماهير المتديّنة التي لم تخرجْ مجتمعيًّا من القدامة إلى الحداثة. وهذه الانتهازيّة هي عينها التي جعلت المعارضةَ العلمانيّةَ باطنًا تقْبل اليوم باستبدال كلمة “العلمانيّة” المؤبلسة بكلمة “المدنيّة” الملتبسة، والتي يزيد في التباسها وذيوعها جماهيريًّا أنها قد تُفهم وكأنها النقيضُ للدولة الدكتاتوريّة المتعسكرة في مصر وسورية والعراق وليبيا. وهذا ما جعل كلمة “المدنيّة” مقبولةً جماهيريًّا ما دامت توحي بأنها ضدّ عسكرة الدولة من دون أن يكون لها إطلاقًا معنى العلمانيّة.

والحال أنّ الضعف الجماهيريّ لأحزاب المعارضة العلمانيّة باطنيًّا لم يتركْ لها من خيار آخر، في سياق تنافسها غير المتكافئ مع الإسلاميين الذين قطفوا الثمارَ ناضجةً بعد نجاحهم في أسلمة المجتمع تمهيدًا لأسلمة الدولة وفق النموذج التركيّ (بعد أن كان إسلاميّو الستينيّات يعملون على أسلمة الدولة أولاً عن طريق الانقلاب أو التمرّد المسلّح)، غير أن تَسْحب الكلمة المؤبلسة من برامجها المعلنة. وعلى هذا النحو بات الإسلاميون اليوم هم المطالبين بالديمقراطيّة، وذلك بعد أن باتت نتائجُ صناديق الاقتراع معروفةً سلفًا بفضل أسلمة المجتمع. الجدير ذكرُه أنّ الأنظمة الدكتاتوريّة تتحمّل نصيبًا كبيرًا من المسؤوليّة عن هذه الأسلمة بعد أن قمعتْ على مدى أربعين عامًا كلَّ شكل من أشكال المعارضة السياسيّة، وغضّت النظر (بل شجّعتْ) تلك الأسلمة في سعيها إلى شرعنة نفسها جماهيريًّا.

حازم نهار (كاتب سوري معارض): سرّ نجاح أيّ ثورة هو منطقها العلمانيّ
يمكن في هذه اللحظة السياسية تفهّمُ وجود حالة من التنافس المحموم لكسب الشارع السوريّ المنتفض من قبل الأحزاب السياسيّة والنشطاء السياسيين ـ وهذا أمرٌ طبيعيّ بعد حالة الكمون والبلادة السياسية واقتصار العمل السياسيّ على الغرف المغلقة. وبالتالي يعتقد بعضُ الأحزاب السياسيّة بضرورة تفادي استخدام كلمات مرفوضة من الشارع السوريّ كمفردة “العلمانيّة.”

في اعتقادي أنّ هذا الموقف خاطئ من جهتين. فمن جهة أولى، أرى أنّ الأحزاب، تحت هاجس كسب الشارع مؤقتًا، تتخلّى عن أهمّ وظائفها المتمثّلة في الارتقاء بالوعي العامّ. والحقّ أنّ الأحزاب التي تتخلّى عن هذا الدور، وترتكز فقط إلى المزاج العامّ المؤقّت وإلى الحدس والمباشر والآنيّ، تصبح غير ضروريّة مع الزمن؛ ذلك لأنّ الشارع في المآل الأخير لا يحتاج إلى مَن يعبِّر عنه وحسب، بل يحتاج بالقدر ذاته إلى من يرتقي به ويقوده.

وهو خاطئ، من جهة ثانية، لأنّ هذا التشخيص لِما “يريده” الشارعُ المنتفض غير دقيق. هنا أستطيع القول إنّ الشارع السوريّ المنتفض كان علمانيًّا على مستوى السلوك أكثرَ من أصحاب العَلمانيّات المبتذلة أو العَلمانيّات التي تتكشّف عن طائفيّةٍ مقيتةٍ في داخلها. فالشارع لم يخرجْ من أجل إقامة حكم إسلاميّ، ولا تحرّك بإرادة رجال الدين أو الأحزاب الدينيّة، وإنما خرج ثائرًا من أجل الحريّة والكرامة في وجه نظام استبداديّ وفاسد. وقد حدَّد الشارعُ موقفه من الجميع استنادًا إلى اعتبارات المواطنة والوطنيّة ومصالح الشعب: فهو، على سبيل المثال، لم ينظرْ بعين الاحترام إلى عدد من رجال الدين الإسلامي كالبوطي وحسّون، ورفع في كلّ المناطق السوريّة شعاراتٍ وطنيّةً ترى الشعبَ السوريّ كلاً واحدًا موحّدًا. وإذا كانت هناك ملامةٌ من قِبل مدّعي العلمانيّة للمتظاهرين على خروجهم من الجوامع أو على ترديدهم صيحات “الله أكبر،” فإنّ هذا يحدث بسبب نظام القمع والقتل والاستبداد الذي يقوم بكلّ ما هو إجراميٌّ لمنعهم من الوجود في الساحات العامّة. ثم إنه ليس المطلوب بالتأكيد أن يردِّد المتظاهرون أثناء تشييع شهدائهم سمفونيّات بيتهوفن وموزارت!
وإذا كان الشارع يمتلك حساسيّةً خاصّةً تجاه مفردة “العلمانيّة،” فإنما يعود ذلك إلى ارتباط هذه الكلمة بسياسات النظام الاستبداديّ الذي حاول تقديمَ نفسه على أنه نظامٌ علمانيّ، وهو في الحقيقة أبعدُ ما يكون عن العلمانيّة. كما يعود إلى ارتباط المفردة (كما حاول العلمانيون المبتذلون إيصالها) بالموقف السلبيّ والعدائيّ من الدين ــ وهذا الفهم لا علاقة له بالفهم الفلسفيّ والفكريّ للعلمانيّة، وبتجسيداتها السياسيّة.

قد نتفهّم هذا السحبَ لكلمة “العلمانيّة” من التداول في حالةٍ واحدةٍ فقط، هي الحفاظ على مدلولاتها وتعبيراتها ومعانيها في الأهداف والبرامج السياسيّة والتطبيقات العمليّة، وألاّ تكون المفرداتُ البديلة (كالمدنيّة أو غيرها) غائمةً وتنتقص من المدلولات الفكريّة والسياسيّة للعلمانيّة. ذلك أنّ سرّ نجاح أيّ ثورة هو منطقُها العلمانيّ، أيْ عندما يكون الانتماءُ إلى الوطن فوق كلّ انتماء. فهذا الانتماء هو الأساس لبناء الدستور الديمقراطيّ الذي يساوي بين جميع المواطنين في الحقوق والواجبات.

بقي أن أضيف فكرةً حول ما أسمّيه “العلمانيّة الطائفيّة” التي هي توصيفٌ لتفكير سطحيّ ومختزل لدى قطاعٍ واسع، وبخاصّةٍ أدعياء الثقافة والتحضّر. إذ تُختزل العلمانيّة لديهم إلى “فصل الدين عن الدولة،” ثم تُختزل بعد جولة نقاشٍ بسيطة معهم إلى موقف ضدّ حجاب المرأة ومع حريّة تناول الكحول، وإلى التخوّف على فقدان هذه النِّعَم التي يتيحها نظامُ الحكم في سورية. وهذا الفهم المبتسر والسطحيّ يتكشّف في المآل الأخير عن قاعٍ طائفيّ لدى هذه العلمانيّات المدّعية، وعن موقف متعالٍ ومتعجرفٍ إزاء الآخر المختلف. العلمانيّة مفهوم أوسع من هذا الذي تقدّمه هذه العلمانيّاتُ الطائفيّة (أو بالأحرى الطائفيّون الذين يتستّرون بقشرة علمانيّة شكليّة). إنها رفضٌ لهيمنة أيّ فكر أو دين أو إيديولوجيّة أو حزب أو فردٍ على الدولة وأجهزتها ومدارسها ونقاباتها وشوارعها. بهذا المعنى كان حزبُ البعث منذ استلامه السلطة الأكثرَ سلفيّةً، وكان شأنه في ذلك شأن الحكومات الإسلاميّة السلفيّة. الدولة في النظام العلمانيّ قطاعٌ حياديّ مستقلّ فكريًّا وسياسيًّا عن الحزب الموجود في السلطة، لتكون الدولةُ دولةَ كلّ المجتمع، لا دولةَ البعثيين أو الإسلاميين أو دولة الحاكمين. العلمانيّة لا تتجسَّد إلا في بيئة الحريّة واحترام حقوق الإنسان. والدولة التي تفتقر إلى نظام ديمقراطيّ تفتقر بالضرورة إلى نظام علمانيّ، والعكس صحيح. فاحترامُ الآخر والقبولُ بوجوده وبحريّته هما أساس كلّ رؤية علمانيّة حقيقيّة، وبالتالي ليس ما يحدِّد علمانيّةَ فردٍ أو طرفٍ ما هو الفكر الذي يحمله أو الإيديولوجيّة التي يتبنّاها أو الدين الذي يعتنقه أو الطائفة التي ينتمي إليها؛ وإنما هو ذلك الإيمان الراسخ بحريّة الآخر المختلف. من هنا، فإنّ المتديِّن الذي يؤْمن بحريّة الآخر المختلف عنه ويقبل بوجوده وينظر إليه نظرةَ الشريك في الوطن هو ما يمكن توصيفُ موقفه وسلوكه بالعلمانيّ. أما ذلك الذي يختزل الحريّة (التي هي جذر العلمانيّة وأساسها) بالموقف من لباس المرأة أو بحريّة تناول الكحول، بمعزل عن جملة الحريّات الأساسيّة الأخرى، فلا يمكن تسميته إلا بالعلمانيّ المبتذل. وليس من قبيل المصادفة أن يكون هذا الابتذالُ مستلهمًا لروحٍ طائفيّةٍ في العمق.

العلمانيّة في المحصّلة ليست موقفًا ضدّ الدين أو ضدّ أيّ فكر أو إيديولوجيّة. إنها موقفٌ راسخٌ مع الحريّة وضدّ الهيمنة والاستبداد من أيّ نوع كان.

روزا حسن (روائيّة وناشطة سوريّة): رحلة الألف ميل تبدأ بمئة خطوة.
إنْ تذكّرنا سلسلة الخيبات التي مُنيتْ بها الأحزابُ والقوى والتيّارات العلمانيّة في العالم العربيّ عمومًا، فلربّما برّرْنا قليلاً عمليّةَ التلاعب بالمصطلحات، ومحاولاتِ عدم الخوض (الآن) في سجالاتٍ إيديولوجيّةٍ تلْهي المعارضين عن حربهم الأهمّ ضدّ الطغاة، خصوصًا أنّ التقاطعات بين المصطلحين (العلمانيّة والمدنيّة) كثيرة والتفارقات قليلة.
يعود غيابُ مصطلح “الدولة العلمانيّة” إلى أسباب شتّى. من هذه الأسباب حملاتُ التشويه الممنهج، على مدى عقود، من قِبل رجالات الدين الإسلاميّ، الذين نعتوا العلمانيّة مرةَ بأنها صنيعةُ الغرب، ومرةً أخرى بأنها كفرٌ وإلحاد. سببٌ آخر يجعل العلمانيّة تغيب من الخطاب الإعلاميّ لصالح مصطلح “الدولة المدنية” هو أنّ الأخير مصطلحٌ فضفاض ومشوّش، وليست لدى الشارع العربيّ ذاكرة “سيّئة” عنه كما هو الحال مع العلمانيّة. بل إنّ قسمًا كبيرًا من التيّارات الدينيّة “المعتدلة” ترى اليوم ألاّ غضاضة في تطبيق الدولة المدنيّة لأنّ الإسلام قال بها؛ وسيُلْقون عليك أكثرَ من شاهد على ذلك كقولهم إنّ الشورى ممارسة ديمقراطيّة، وإنّ أهل الذمّة أو أهل الكتاب عاشوا سالمين في الدولة الإسلاميّة… وهكذا.

ثمة ركيزةٌ أساسيّةٌ تشترك فيها الدولة المدنيّة والعلمانيّة، وركيزةٌ أخرى تختلفان فيها. الركيزة الأولى المشتركة تفيد، بالإضافة إلى ترسيخ الفعل الديمقراطيّ، بأنّ وظيفة الدولة هي رعايةُ مصالح المواطنين الدنيويّة، وتفيد بضرورة التمييز بين مجالين في حياة المواطنين: 1) مجال عامّ هو من حقّ جميع المواطنين التمتّعُ به، بغضّ النظر عن أصولهم ومعتقداتهم، ولا مرجعيّة فيه لأيّة سلطة دينيّة. 2) مجال خاصّ يكون المرءُ فيه حرًّا بما يعتنق ويرى. أيْ إنّ القانون الوضعيّ العقلانيّ، لا أيّة شريعة سماويّة، هو الذي يحكم الدولة وأفرادَها في الدولتين من دون التمييز بين المواطنين.

لكنّ الركيزة الثانية التي تقوم عليها الدولةُ العلمانيّة، وتتفارق فيها مع الدولة المدنيّة، إنما هي المساواة الكاملة بين معتنقي أيّ دينٍ بمختلف مذاهبهم، ومساواةُ هؤلاء بغير المتديّنين، والملحدين أيضًا، وضمانُ الدفاع عن حريّتهم المطلقة في إيمانهم أو عدم إيمانهم (وهذا ما يسمّى في العديد من البلدان الأوروبيّة: “حريّة الضمير”).
ولنا أن نتذكّر أنّ قوانين الدول العلمانيّة استطاعت أن تحقّق إنجازاتٍ حضاريّة مهمّة على صعيد إنهاء الصراعات الطائفيّة والحروب الدينيّة في الدول التي اعتنقتها، كالحروب الشهيرة بين البروتستانت والكاثوليك. وربما نجمتْ عن عدم اعتناق الدولة المدنيّة لهذه الركيزة صعوبةٌ في إيجاد تساوٍ حقيقيّ بين مختلف الفئات الدينيّة أو العرقيّة، وخصوصًا في البلدان المتنوّعة طائفيًّا وإثنيًّا وفكريًّا واجتماعيًّا كسوريا: فتفاصيلُ ما يسمى “الدولة المدنيّة” لا تضمن الاعترافَ بحقِّ عدم الإيمان (أو شكله) أو الإلحاد، وبالتالي يُخشى من أن تفتح البابَ على ما كان يمارَس باسم الدين لعقود طويلة!

في النهاية، وعلى الرغم من ذلك، فربما كان استخدامُ العلمانيين مصطلحَ “الدولة المدنيّة” بدلاً من “الدولة العلمانيّة” خطّة براغماتيّة في ظلّ الثورات العربيّة، لستُ متشنّجةً في الحقيقة تجاهها، بل ربما كانت لها ضرورة؛ ذلك أنّ تطوّر الشعوب والقوانين والبلاد العربيّة المتخلّفة أمرٌ يحتاج إلى انتقال تدريجيّ، وليس بالضرورة إلى الانتقال الأوروبيّ المباشر نحو الدولة العلمانيّة. فأن أستطيع اليوم أن أطبّق قوانينَ “غير دينيّة” في بلادٍ كانت إسلاميّة منذ قرون، ويزداد المدُّ الدينيُّ فيها، أمرٌ ليس بالسهل ولا بالقليل. وربما أقتنع بأنّ رحلة الألف ميل تبدأ بخطوة، فما بالكم إنْ كانت خطوةً بمئة خطوة؟!

لؤيْ حسين (كاتب ومؤسِّس تيّار بناء الدولة السورية): استخدام مقصود
صحيح ما تقوله عن غياب مصطلح “الدولة العلمانيّة” وبروز مصطلح “الدولة المدنيّة.” ولا أنكر أننا استخدمنا كلمة “المدنيّة” بديلاً من “العلمانيّة” بشكل مقصود. وربما كنّا نحن مَن بدأ بترويج مصطلح “الدولة المدنيّة” على نطاق واسع في مؤتمر السميرأميس، وحاولنا قاصدين تكريسَه لاحقًا في جميع الأدبيّات والخطاب السياسيّ [مؤتمر سميراميس هو أول مؤتمر علنيّ للمعارضة في الداخل السوريّ، دعا إليه المعارض لؤيْ حسين، ليجتمع فيه حوالي 300 شخصيّة معارضة ومستقلّة للتشاور في شأن الانتفاضة السوريّة، وأصدر بيانًا في ختام أعماله، من أهمّ بنوده الانتقالُ الآمن والسلميّ إلى دولة مدنيّة ديمقراطيّة ودعم الانتفاضة والتأكيد على التظاهر ودون إذن مسبّق ـ م. د].

إنّ مصطلح “الدولة المدنيّة” لم يكن يدلّ سابقًا على شيء، أيْ لم يكن معتمَدًا، أو لا دلالة سياسيّة له. لكننا آثرنا استخدامَه بديلاً من “العلمانيّة” في الاصطلاح، لا في المضمون والمعنى. فمن يراجع وثائقنا وأدبيّاتنا يجد بسهولة أننا نريد دولة علمانيّة محايدة تجاه العقائد والأديان، وتقوم على المواطن الفرد، ومصدرُ التشريع فيها هو الإرادة الحرة للسوريين لا أيُّ نصٍّ أو مرجعٍ سابق.

ومع علمنا بعدم الدلالة السياسيّة لمصطلح “الدولة المدنيّة،” فإننا ننوي أن نعطيه نحن تلك الدلالةَ التي تتطابق تمامًا مع العلمانيّة وتنوب منابها. واستخدامُنا لذلك المصطلح نابعٌ من أنّ مصطلح “العلمانيّة” ملتبسٌ في الثقافة السوريّة ويشير دومًا إلى الإلحاد ومناهضة الدين ـ وهذا غير صحيح. وكنّا قد سعينا في الزمن الميّت سياسيًّا، قبل الانتفاضة، أن نروّج لمصطلح العلمانيّة في الثقافة السياسيّة السوريّة. لكنّ استخدامَه في هذا الزمن الحيّ سياسيًّا، الذي انتعش بعد انطلاق الانتفاضة السوريّة، سيسبّب الكثير من الإرباك للمتظاهرين والمحتجّين. لهذا حاولنا أن نقلّل الإرباكات الآن باستخدام مصطلح “الدولة المدنيّة” الذي بات معروفًا لدى المهتمّين بالشأن العامّ السوريّ أنه بديلٌ للعلمانيّة. وهذا ليس تنازلاً أمام الأحزاب الدينيّة على الإطلاق، بل على العكس: فالقوى الدينيّة الآن بدأت تعتمد هذا المصطلح.

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November 25th, 2011, 11:11 am


212. ann said:


Foreign Minister Davutoğlu: Turkey can no longer tolerate Syrian bloodshed – 25 November 2011, Friday

The Turkish foreign minister said on Friday that Turkey can tolerate no more bloodshed in Syria and is ready to take action along with Arab powers if Syrian President Bashar al-Assad fails to take steps towards ending his crackdown on pro-democracy demonstrators.

At a joint press conference Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu held with his Italian counterpart, Giulio Terzi, after a tête-à-tête meeting in İstanbul on Friday, Davutoğlu said he hoped the Syrian government would respond in a positive way to a plan by the Arab League to resolve the conflict. “Today is an historic decision day for Syria. It must open its doors to observers,” he added.

“If it doesn’t, there are steps we can take in consultation with the Arab league” he declared, adding: “I want to say clearly we have no more tolerance for the bloodshed in Syria. The attitude of friendly and fraternal countries on this subject is clear.”

Meanwhile, Syria missed an Arab League deadline Friday to allow hundreds of observers into the country, prompting the bloc to consider economic sanctions against Damascus for its eight-month crackdown on dissents, a senior diplomat said. The Arab League had given Syria 24 hours to agree to the observer mission, a humiliating blow to a nation that was a founding member of the Arab coalition.

The Friday afternoon deadline passed with no word from Damascus, said Arab League Deputy Secretary-General Ahmed Ben Heli. Another official said the League would still consider an answer from Damascus presented by the end of Friday; However, it was not clear if Syria would offer such an answer by the time Today’s Zaman went to print. Now, the bloc will meet Saturday to decide on sanctions that could include a freeze on financial dealings and assets. Syria is the scene of the deadliest crackdown against the Arab Spring’s eruption of protests, with the UN reporting more than 3,500 people killed in eight months. International pressure has been mounting on Assad to stop the bloodshed.

Also Friday, a UN human rights panel expressed alarm at reports it received of security forces in Syria torturing children. The Geneva-based Committee against Torture says it has received “numerous, consistent and substantiated reports” of widespread abuse in the country.

Davutoğlu also expressed his readiness to attend a meeting of foreign ministers of Arab League nations that may take place on Sunday, depending on Syria’s response, and that he is also consulting with the European Union, NATO and UN Security Council members.

Italian Foreign Minister Giulio Terzi has stressed that the situation in Syria is alarming and added, “What’s going on [in Syria] could potentially upset the balances in the region.”

Earlier on Friday morning, Davutoğlu also held talks with Jordanian Foreign Minister Nasser Judeh, who had attended a meeting of foreign ministers of Arab League nations in Cairo on Thursday. “Today is the last chance for Syria and that involves signing the protocol proposed by the Arab League,” Davutoğlu said. The Jordanian foreign minister hopes Syria will sign the protocol proposed by the Arab League and said, “This is the collective wish of the Arab world and if they don’t, God forbid, we [will] have to meet again.”

Turkey also underlined that an uprising in Syria is its neighbor’s internal affair and that it will not allow any state to militarily intervene in Syria, ruling out any possibility that Turkey will become militarily involved. “We won’t send soldiers [to Syria], won’t intervene and won’t allow or create conditions for others to intervene,” Bülent Arınç, Turkey’s deputy prime minister told a local TV station in Bursa. Arınç, who is also the government’s spokesman, said any foreign intervention will create divisions not only in Syria but across the region as well. He added that incidents in Syria are developing along ethnic lines and that sectarianism is also playing a role.

Arınç’s remarks came at a time when Syria’s armed opposition groups asked Turkey to create a buffer zone to shelter anti-regime fighters. Lt. Salem Odeh, a defector from Latakia, told Reuters this week that historic and religious ties with Turkey that go back to the Ottoman Empire mean Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s opponents — generally wary of outside interference — would accept a Turkish military role.

“I just hope there will be a Turkish military intervention. It’s better, and they have longstanding blood ties from old times, and they are closer to the East than the West,” he added. Citing Israeli security officials, Israeli daily Haaretz reported on Thursday that they believe Turkey is moving toward a military intervention in Syria, in order to create a secure buffer zone for opposition activists. Accordingly, Turkey is expected to set up secure buffer zones on its border with Syria that would allow armed opposition groups to organize against the Syrian regime from bases protected by the Turkish military, according to Haaretz.

However, Arınç categorically ruled out any discussion among government circles that Turkey is considering military intervention. “There is absolutely no such thing,” he underlined. “Some Turkish politicians and some countries are saying Turkey will intervene in Syria. This is totally wrong. This is impossible, we don’t think of it.”

Turkish President Abdullah Gül, on an official visit to Britain, said this week that change is inevitable in Syria, but said this should come from within Syria, not through external intervention. Earlier, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan spoke of the fate of defeated dictators from Adolf Hitler and Benito Mussolini to Muammar Gaddafi and bluntly told Assad to step down. Non-Arab Turkey, Syria’s largest trading partner and formerly a close friend, has strongly backed the stance taken by the Arab League towards Syria. Turkey and Jordan both border Syria and will potentially have an important role to play if French proposals for a humanitarian zone in Syria garner support.

Some countries are exploring the possibility of stronger steps to force Assad’s hand, with French Foreign Minister Alain Juppe calling for EU-backed humanitarian corridors to allow aid groups a way in. Juppe labeled the situation in Syria “no longer tenable” and accused Assad’s regime of “repression of a savagery we have not seen in a long time.” He told France-Inter radio he was in contact with partners in the UN, US Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton and the Arab League about the possibility of setting up these humanitarian corridors.

Juppe suggested that aid groups like the Red Cross could use the corridors to bring medical supplies to cities such as Homs.

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November 25th, 2011, 11:20 am


213. jad said:

وقائع من اجتماعات المعارضات السورية في القاهرة والدوحة ولندن وباريس…

يروي معارضون سوريون من الذين حضروا ويحضرون اجتماعات أطياف المعارضات السورية في القاهرة والتي تجري صوريا تحت رعاية الجامعة العربية وفي الحقيقة هي تحت الوصاية والرعاية القطريتين، يروون قصصا عن ما يطلقون عليه “عنجهية” القطريين هذه الأيام والتي على كل حال لا تتناسب مع حجم قطر ولا مع واقعها.

ومن القصص التي يتندر بها الجمع السوري المعارض كلام ينسبونه للشيخ خالد بن جاسم آل ثاني رئيس قسم حقوق الإنسان في وزارة الخارجية القطرية والذي يتولى الإشراف على اجتماعات المعارضات السورية في القاهرة في جوابه لمعارض سوري. آل ثاني تحدث في بداية أحد الاجتماعات عن الدعم الروسي لنظام الرئيس بشار الأسد حيث قال إن “روسيا في جيبنا”. وتقول المصادر إن خالد آل ثاني لوح بيده للأسفل عند كلامه هذا، واستكمل آل ثاني قائلا “نحن نؤيد المجلس الوطني السوري ونريد منكم جميعا الانضواء تحت عباءته.

تفاصيل الاجتماعات..


توتر الوضع أمس الخميس في اجتماعات المعارضات السورية التي تجري في القاهرة بعد ورود أنباء من العاصمة الفرنسية باريس تفيد بأن برهان غليون رئيس المجلس الوطني السوري رفض حضور ميشال كيلو وممثلين عن هيئة التنسيق المعارضة في اللقاء الذي جمعه مع وزير الخارجية الفرنسي آلان جوبيه. وبحسب مصادر سورية في القاهرة، كانت الأمور تسير ببطء نحو الاتفاق على تشكيل هيئة جامعة لأطياف المعارضة السورية بعيدا عن الاستئثار الذي يسعى إليه المجلس الوطني أو ما يطلقون عليه “مجلس اسطنبول”.

وتقول المصادر “كان الأسبوع الماضي قد أفضى إلى اتفاق على وقف الحملات الإعلامية على الهيئة والشخصيات التي تمثلها والتي باشرتها قناة الجزيرة القطرية منذ أسبوعين”، وفعلا توقفت هذه الحملات، كما انه تم التوافق على استمرار الاجتماعات بعد أن اتفق الجميع على رفض التدخل العسكري الخارجي وكانت الأمور تسير وإن ببطيء للاتفاق على تشكيل هيئة تجمع كافة الأطياف المعارضة مع احتفاظ كل طرف بخصوصيته، غير أن الاستعجال القطري والغربي في تدويل الوضع السوري ظهر في مباحثات باريس بعد ظهر يوم الخميس ما أثر على اجتماعات القاهرة.

وقد أسر لنا معارضون سوريون من أكثر من طيف ولون أنه “إذا وجدتنا في الأيام القليلة القادمة في موسكو أو طهران أو بكين أو بيروت فلا تستغرب لأن الوضع في القاهرة يستعجل التدويل وهو ضاغط على كل من يرفضه”.


بعيدا عن الكلام الذي يتناقله الوسط السوري المعارض حول أسباب غياب أمير قطر عن المشهد السياسي بسبب تعرضه لمحاولة اغتيال من فلسطينيين مؤيدين للقذافي يبدو أنها بعيدة عن الواقع. فلا تزال قطر تتبنى المجلس الوطني السوري الذي ساهمت في تشكيله مع كل من فرنسا وتركيا وبأشراف أميركي كامل، ولا تبدو الدعوات القطرية التي وجهت لأطياف سورية معارضة من خارج المجلس إلا من باب الدعاية الإعلامية التي تجيدها قطر. فحديث الذين زاروا الدوحة لا يعطي جوابا شافيا عن أهمية تلك الزيارات اللهمّ إن أوقفت الجزيرة حملاتها على هيئة التنسيق المعارضة، وهذا كان قد اتفق عليه في القاهرة، بينما كانت الاجتماعات مع ولي العهد تميم بن حمد بن خليفة فرصة للبعض لاستنتاج أن بن حمد يخشى من نفوذ حمد بن جاسم في حال غياب والده حمد بن خليفة المصاب بفشل كلوي.


في لندن بدا المشهد الخلافي واضح، ولولا الهدوء البريطاني الذي استوعب الجمع لما حصل اللقاء مع وزير الخارجية البريطاني وليام هيغ. فالمصافحة الفاترة بين وفدي المجلس الوطني ووفد هيئة التنسيق كان واضحا وعلى كل حال انفجر الوضع بعد يومين في باريس. مصادر المجتمعين مع هيغ قالت إن الوزير البريطاني أبلغهم بأنه لا تدخل عسكرياً أطلسياً في سورية على غرار ما حصل في ليبيا، كما وأصر عليهم على التوحد في هيئة واحدة تسهيلا للاعتراف الغربي والدولي بهم.

وتنقل المصادر أن العضو الكردي في هيئة التنسيق قال لهيغ أن أكراد سورية سيقاتلون تركيا في حال تدخلت عسكريا في سورية، بينما نفت المصادر ما نقلته أحدى الصحف عن كلام حصل مع هيغ ومفاده أن إيران طلبت لقاء معارضين سوريين ثلاث مرات وتم رفض الطلب الإيراني. وبحسب تلك المصادر فإن شخصية من الموجودين كانت قد اجتمعت مع دبلوماسيين إيرانيين قالت لهيغ عندما طرح السوآل عن العلاقة مع الإيرانيين إنها لم تلتق بهم منذ ثلاثة أشهر.

انفجر الوضع بين هيئة التنسيق وبين المجلس الوطني بعد ظهر الخميس
24الشهر الحالي على خلفية رفض برهان غليون رئيس المجلس الوطني حضور ميشال كيلو وممثلين عن هيئة التنسيق اللقاء في وزارة الخارجية الفرنسية مع الوزير آلان جوبيه، وقد صبت هيئة التنسيق غضبها على الوزير الفرنسي الذي لم يتحلى بأدنى مواصفات الدبلوماسية عندما سمح لغليون بهذا التصرف، بينما تصرف البريطاني هيغ بمسؤولية أكثر واجتمع بالطرفين. وبحسب مصادر الهيئة فإن إعلان جوبيه عن سعي فرنسي لدى الأوروبيين لفتح ممرات إنسانية هو في الحقيقة طلب تقدم به غليون وتبناه جوبيه، وهذا المشروع ليس سوى دعوة لتدخل عسكري دولي بتلبيسة “ممرات إنسانية”.

وفيما استعجل جوبيه الاعتراف بالمجلس في القريب العاجل، يبدو أن الأمور تسير نحو الأسوأ حسب مصادر سورية معارضة، فالمسار الحقيقي الخطير يمكن رؤيته في باريس بينما يتم الإخراج والديكور في القاهرة.

كوفية لورنس العرب وعقاله تعود هذه الأيام لتشريع التدخل العسكري ضد سوريه.
كان الله في العون…

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November 25th, 2011, 11:29 am


214. irritated said:


“The Assadmania is not better”

This was true at the time of Hafez al Assad, but under Bashar there has been a gradual decrease of the presence of portraits in public places or in homes.

The Turks hang on their identity of Ataturk as if they are unease with the controversial Ottoman empire’s achievements and humiliating end.
I think German have a similar issue, but they hang on their identity by the pride of being a successful economy and a leader of Europe.

Syria has nothing to be ashamed of their past, in the contrary. Most of the time they were on the side of the oppressed people of the region, receiving the hundred of thousands of armenians refugees fleeing the killing by the Turks, hundred of thousands of palestinians, millions of Iraqis. They never claimed to be a special race. Whatever you may think about the Assad ruling, you cannot deny that this is very unusual attitude, especially when you see now how Europe keep pushing away refugees from areas that they exploited and colonized shamelessly for centuries.

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November 25th, 2011, 11:40 am


215. N.Z. said:


You can be as bias as you want, ideological as you believe, but neither you nor your idols, father and son can change historical facts of the Syrian fabrics. The Syrian opened their homes and hearts before your despicable idols and after, and will remain so. From Armenians, to the Lebanese.

Only under your two idols, Syrians have been turned to refugees in their homeland and abroad, massacred and turned to strangers, intruders and infiltrators.

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November 25th, 2011, 12:09 pm


216. mjabali said:

Mr NZ comment # 202:

You and I and millions of Syrians want freedom and dream about it. There is no doubt about that Alawis are included in this dream about FREEDOM.

But; what have the Sunnis done so far to ease the historical Alawis’ fear of the sectarian violence that is looming?

Can’t you see the Sunnis of the other Arab countries pouring gas into this fire that is eating Syria?

Can’t you see how sectarian they are? Do you expect a man from Saudia Arabia or Qatar or Kuwait is going to teach a Syrian about co-existence? These people as we see belong to the Middle Ages and can do nothing good for Syria or the Syrian people as a whole.

Why no one shut these idiots out of this Syrian issue? Can’t you see the Sunni/Shia fight and how this is reflecting on events in Syria? How can we fix a situation like this with illiterate Kings and princes from the Middle Ages who have money and channels spewing hatred toward all minorities with these Sheikhs of doom ?

The Sunni leaders and religious figures, so far, did not utter ONE WORTHY word so far to walk in the direction of religious reconciliation and total equality between us Syrians. I do not think they are capable of doing this. They are afraid of critiquing the “sacred.”

All of what we heard so far are cliches that in reality worth nothing.

The slogans you brought about the Syrian people and how they are ONE people do not really come from the heart as I have seen so far. It is for the cameras. Saying that we are equal and belong to One nationone where at the same time the Sunni propaganda machine is spewing the worst hatred toward the Alawis is not going to win supporters for the anti-Assad movement.

All of these elements are gathered to make the Alawis not to trust what is going on or take things cautiously. al-Assad takes advantage of this of course as you know.

AS for the Alawis against al-Assad, I see their numbers rising and everyday you hear new criticism for al-Assad from new Alawi dissidents.

The ball is in the court of the Sunnis to ease the fears of the Alawis and other minorities.

One thing to note here mr. NZ: discussions like this that you raised is what gonna progress Syria.


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November 25th, 2011, 12:32 pm


217. ann said:


Syria: 6 elite military pilots killed in ambush – 3 hrs ago

BEIRUT (AP) — The Syrian armed forces say in a rare televised statement that six elite military pilots have been killed in an ambush.

Friday’s statement said the attack happened the day before in Homs province and it marked a dangerous escalation in the conflict.

Syria is the scene of the deadliest crackdown against the Arab Spring’s eruption of protests and international pressure has been mounting on President Bashar Assad to stop the bloodshed.

The statement warns Syria will “hit back” at any attempt to cause chaos.

THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. Check back soon for further information. AP’s earlier story is below.

BEIRUT (AP) — Syria missed an Arab League deadline Friday to allow hundreds of observers into the country, prompting the bloc to consider economic sanctions against Damascus for its eight-month crackdown on dissent, a senior diplomat said.

The Arab League had given Syria 24 hours to agree to the observer mission, a humiliating blow to a nation that was a founding member of the Arab coalition.

But the Friday afternoon deadline passed with no word from Damascus, said Arab League Deputy Secretary-General Ahmed Ben Heli. Now, the bloc will meet Saturday to decide on sanctions that could include a freeze on financial dealings and assets.

Syria is the scene of the deadliest crackdown against the Arab Spring’s eruption of protests, with the U.N. reporting more than 3,500 people killed in eight months. International pressure has been mounting on President Bashar Assad to stop the bloodshed.

Also Friday, a U.N. human rights panel expressed alarm at reports it received of security forces in Syria torturing children. The Geneva-based Committee against Torture says it has received “numerous, consistent and substantiated reports” of widespread abuse in the country.

Former ally Turkey — now a leading critic of Assad’s regime — said allowing the observers would be a “test of goodwill” for Syria.

“Today is a historic decision day for Syria,” Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu told a joint news conference with Italy’s new Foreign Minister Giulio Terzi Friday in Istanbul. “It must open its doors to observers.”

Syria’s state-run SANA news agency, however, dismissed the ultimatum, declaring Friday that the Arab League had become a “tool for foreign interference” and that it was serving a Western agenda to stir up trouble in the region.

Violence continued Friday, as activists urged protesters to flood the streets to support army defectors who have sided with the opposition.

Syrian security forces fired outside mosques in Daraa province — apparently to prevent demonstrations by people leaving mosques after Friday afternoon prayers, activists said. Demonstrations were reported in Idlib province, which borders Turkey.

Some countries are exploring the possibility of stronger steps to force Assad’s hand, with French Foreign Minister Alain Juppe calling for EU-backed humanitarian corridors to allow aid groups a way in.

Juppe called the situation in Syria “no longer tenable” and accused Assad’s regime of “repression of a savagery we have not seen in a long time.”

He told France-Inter radio he was in contact with partners in the United Nations, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton and the Arab League about the possibility of setting up the humanitarian corridors.

Juppe suggested that aid groups like the Red Cross could use the corridors to bring medical supplies to cities like Homs.

France, Syria’s one-time colonial ruler, was the first country to formally recognize Libya’s opposition in an early stage of Moammar Gadhafi’s crackdown on protests. France played a prominent role in the NATO-led campaign of airstrikes against Gadhafi’s forces.

But while the European Union said protecting civilians caught up in Syria’s crackdown on anti-government protests “is an increasingly urgent and important aspect” of responding to the bloodshed there, it fell short of endorsing Julle’s corridor.

Other countries have taken an unambiguous stance against intervention.

Last month, Russia and China vetoed a Western-backed U.N. Security Council resolution condemning the bloodshed in Syria. They have argued that NATO misused a previous U.N. measure authorizing the use of force to protect civilians in Libya to justify months of air strikes and to promote regime change.

They expressed fears that any new resolution against Syria might be used as a pretext for a similar armed intervention.

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November 25th, 2011, 12:54 pm


218. jad said:

They already did:

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November 25th, 2011, 1:29 pm


219. ann said:

Q & A: Mohammed Nidal Al-Cha’ar Minister Of Economy and Trade

Syria Today spoke to the Minister of Economy and Trade about recent decisions and the ways the government is managing the crisis.

You mentioned that banning certain imports aimed at limiting the use of foreign currency in Syria. After rescinding the ban, what alternative measures have you taken instead?

The earlier ban has been replaced by a scheme to reduce imports that are directly financed by the Central Bank. Other imports, including those that are financed through the private sector banks, are not affected. As the EU sanctions only target certain state-owned banks, private sector banks can still continue to deal in foreign exchange and support financing of imports at stable prices. The ultimate aim of this scheme is not so much to limit the use of foreign currency, but to maintain price stability of goods and services in Syria.

We are also working to increase the government’s income, especially through measures to boost revenue through increased productivity and competitiveness, from state-owned industrial entities. Other options being explored include raising customs rates for certain luxury items. In addition to increasing the government’s income, we are also looking at ways to push higher level of exports that can lead to higher foreign currency earnings.

We do not feel any need at this stage to reintroduce the ban on imports for the foreseeable future. It is very important for us to maintain the flow of goods into Syria especially those that are covered under trade agreements that we have entered into with other trading partner countries.

Many have voiced their concerns over the earlier imports ban and its subsequent rapid cancellation, describing the whole episode as an experimental decision. However, you have insisted that it has instead enhanced trust between the people and the government. Whose trust has the government earned?

I have always said that the government’s quick decisions should be viewed in a very positive light because they have created enhanced trust between the people and the government. In the past, there might have been some perceived barriers between the people’s needs and the government’s responses to those needs. And I definitely would not describe the government’s decisions as experimental. In economics, there are no lab rats; rather, there are a series of alternatives and options from which to choose. There is no certainty in terms of results, but there is certainly no experimenting. As you know, the EU has changed tack several times over its response to the eurozone crisis, as has the US to its economic predicament. Syria has to be nimble in dealing with our situation too.

During the debate over the import ban decision, we noticed differences in numbers given by officials. Which numbers should people trust?

As far as historical statistics and figures are concerned, the Central Bureau for Statistics is the official body for publishing them. As for future forecasts and estimates about the Syrian economy, I would want to abstain from issuing any at the moment. As we are currently going through an uncertain economic patch, any forecasts or estimates at this stage would not be meaningful. Having said that, I am not expecting growth over the short term. All of us also need to understand that the current crisis could have a major long-term impact on the economy.

The emphasis now is on managing the crisis and protecting the people, continuing to provide for their basic needs, and protecting the country’s economic well-being.

What measures did you take to cope with the EU sanctions?

Our main concern is securing people’s basic needs; this is crucial for us. And this is something we have managed to achieve so far. We have taken many precautionary measures in the past four or five months, including securing staples by stockpiling them. Trade activity has decreased, but nothing has stopped.

Did the government sign contracts to export oil?

I have been informed by the Minister of Oil that they have very recently been able to secure outlets for petroleum and its by-products in many different countries. The statements were clear: they have signed contracts to keep trading oil.

What about potential sanctions from Turkey? And why are you reconsidering the Turkish agreement now, although some of its negative consequences appeared years ago?
We have yet to receive full clear information about possible Turkish sanctions. There is no intention to cancel trade agreements with Turkey, but rather to reconsider agreements that have been signed with various countries, including Turkey. Syria’s trade balance with some countries is declining, and such a situation does not support the fundamental goal of having economic relations based on equality and balance.

I want to refrain from talking about the past as I have a duty to consider the current economic situation. It is now very clear that the current situation has necessitated that some things be re-addressed and reconsidered.

What are the sectors most affected by the protests?

I feel the term “protests” can be very misleading. I prefer “adverse events in the country”. Economic activities in general, including foreign trade, have slowed down. In particular, the tourism sector has undoubtedly been badly affected. But if we measure the pressure resulting from the crisis against the level of activity in the Syrian economy, I think the result would indicate a rare case. There is no other country that could be subjected to such pressures and still withstand them in such a way. Until now, the overall situation is still relatively good: the exchange rate of the Syrian currency, the availability of commodities and the overall price levels – especially if we take into account fluctuations in global prices of some commodities such as wheat and sugar – are still very manageable.

The diversity of economic sectors and activities, along with the capacity of Syrian industries to enter the marketplace and continue trading, have all helped the overall Syrian economy as a whole to withstand this crisis.

To what extent did economic policies play a role in triggering current protests?
We need to admit that some economic programmes and initiatives had not achieved the desired objectives regarding wealth and income distribution. Hence, unemployment and poverty have continued to exist and taken their toll on the people.

Therefore, it is the duty of the country’s economic administration to put in place appropriate economic policies to address the situation. And that is precisely what we are currently doing.

But won’t the “emergency measures” in managing the crisis affect the future of the Syrian economy?
Although we are managing the crisis, and that is our top priority, we are not doing it through “emergency measures”. Over the past few months, the ministry has worked on a considerable number of programmes and initiatives to manage the overall economic environment, and only a handful of these were in direct response to the crisis. The overwhelming majority are actually based on policies and strategies to facilitate corporate economic activities, encourage foreign trade and protect consumers.

What new laws should we expect?
The ministry has continued to carry out proactive measures aimed at creating a conducive economic and business environment. Among others, we are working on new legislations to support small- and medium-sized industries and investment funds to support the Damascus Stock Exchange. We have also implemented the introduction of a consumer protection law. All these measures will have a positive impact on the country.

Are you calling for austerity measures?

I would never ask people to resort to austerity. Even when the imports ban was in place, I only called for people to possibly postpone consumption of items covered by the ban. And as long as basic needs are met, I call for everyone to continue their lives as before. After all, overall income and salaries are generally still at the same levels as before. It is important to note that when dealing with economic uncertainty, one way to boost economic activities is to continue and possibly even increase consumption.

How could the Syrian economy be defined nowadays? Is it still a socialist or social market economy?

Although it is not easy to define the current economy, it has been called by some “a crisis economy”, for obvious reasons. But we are working on building a new economic future – a different economy that is more liberal but retains progressive social market characteristics.

The private sector, whose contribution to the economy is now increasing to almost 70 percent, can play a very big role in driving future economic growth. Therefore, we will continue to support the private sector, including nurturing its ability to compete in regional and global markets.

It is most important for us to empower the internal components of our economy so that we can then compete effectively in international markets.

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November 25th, 2011, 1:29 pm


220. ann said:

“”218. jad said:
They already did: “”

Do you have it in English please

Thank you

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November 25th, 2011, 1:32 pm


221. ann said:

FEATURE-Arms smugglers thrive on Syrian uprising – Fri Nov 25, 2011

BAALBEK, Lebanon Nov 25 (Reuters) – Weapons dealer Abu Wael has traded guns in Lebanon’s Bekaa valley since the last days of his country’s civil war, nearly a quarter of a century ago.

This has been his busiest year ever.

Unrest in neighbouring Syria has sent demand for weapons soaring, doubling prices for Kalashnikov assault rifles and other weapons and helping supply the increasingly well armed insurrection challenging President Bashar al-Assad.

In the first six months of the protests, Abu Wael sold 2,000 Kalashnikovs and M16 rifles, the highest turnover of his long years in an underground arms business that has operated for decades across porous Middle East borders.

Prices for Kalashnikovs have risen 75 percent to as much as $2,000 each, while M16s doubled to $2,500, reflecting the surge in demand for arms. The biggest jump was in the price of rocket-propelled grenades, which together with a launcher now cost $2,500 compared with $400 before, when demand was minimal.

“I buy weapons from Lebanese people and sell them to traders who in turn pass them on to Syrian merchants,” said 63-year-old Abu Wael, who declined to give his full name.

He spoke to Reuters with his face covered by an Arab keffiyeh headdress, clutching one of his rifles. He said he deliberately dressed in the scruffy clothes of a Bekaa farmer to avoid attracting attention, never spoke by telephone, and declined to be identified by his full name.

“There is an organized network between Lebanon and Syria dealing with the purchase and sale of weapons of various kinds, especially rifles,” he said.

The emergence of anti-Assad fighters calling themselves the Free Syrian Army, attacking Syrian troops, tanks, and even an intelligence building on the outskirts of Damascus, has led Syria to revive accusations of foreign arms trafficking.

Damascus says it has thwarted many attempts to smuggle in weapons. Shortly after protests broke out in March, authorities accused an anti-Syrian Lebanese politician of funding arms traffickers to supply Assad’s opponents, and earlier this month Foreign Minister Walid al-Moualem accused northern neighbour Turkey of failing to cut the flow of guns.

But dealers, diplomats and analysts say that weapons coming across Syria’s borders with Lebanon, Turkey, Jordan and Iraq may form only a small part of a rebel arsenal that is also supplied by army deserters who bring weapons when they defect, and by raids on, or even purchases from, army depots.

Activists play down the role of arms trafficking, possibly to emphasise the peaceful side of the Syrian uprising.


Syrian army deserters on the Turkish side of the border insist arms smuggling into the country is negligible, but they say expatriate Syrians who support the uprising have sent electronic equipment to help communications as well as cash used to bribe security officers to hand over weapons.

“Turkey is not allowing us the opportunity to send weapons inside,” Captain Ayham al-Kurdi, who heads the Abu Fida brigade of the Syrian Free Army, told Reuters.

Another defector who declined to reveal his identity said $2 million was recently sent across the border “to help our brothers set up better communication links”.

Several defectors involved in what they insist is a small-scale arms trail say most weapons that do reach Syria are brought across from northern Lebanon, where the remote, undemarcated frontier has for decades been a haven for smugglers ferrying subsidised goods from Syria and weapons from Lebanon.

They say there has also been an increasing flow of guns and RPGs into Syria from the Sunni Muslim tribes of Iraq’s Western Anbar province, who have close ties with their brethren in eastern Syria, hundreds of miles (kilometres) from Damascus.

“Due to the inter-tribal ties across the border, Iraqi tribes are helping defecting groups in the Deir al-Zor area. But the quantities remain small and the long distances make it difficult to transport many arms,” Kurdi added.

A tribal figure from the eastern Syrian province of Deir al-Zor, who identified himself as Sheikh Abu Ismail, said more weapons might be supplied in future “depending on developments on the ground and what turn the revolution takes.”

“The borders are not sealed… so arms flows would accelerate in the future if the regime continues its repression and killings,” he told Reuters by telephone.

The United Nations says more than 3,500 people have been killed in Assad’s crackdown on protests. Authorities have since the start of the unrest blamed armed groups for the bloodshed, saying they have killed 1,100 soldiers and police.

Sheikh Abu Ismail said money to finance the trafficking was coming from Sunni Muslim Gulf countries, particularly Saudi Arabia, which sees Assad’s alliance with Shi’ite Iran as a challenge to its regional clout.


Western diplomats say there is no proof of any state role in directly financing or arming the rebels, suggesting they have so far been able to rely primarily on guns already in the country.

“It’s not unreasonable to assume that a lot of the stuff they get is from inside,” a Damascus-based diplomat said.

“I don’t think there has been mass, coordinated gun-running. But I suspect that if there are tribal members across the border asking for help, they will get it,” he said, citing the Jordanian and Iraqi frontiers with southern Syria.

“There’s no sense yet that governments have been (involved). There’s been sabre-rattling – saying this is what we could do – but we haven’t seen that yet”.

Jordan says smuggling across its border took place before the uprising and has continued, but only in very limited cases. “Authorities have always had an iron grip on the borders,” Information Minister Rakan al-Majali told Reuters.

A Syrian man involved in arming the deserters said the main source for weapons “is the Syrian army itself”.

“With the corruption that has infested the country, you can buy a lot from the army,” he said. “I heard of one case where a whole arms depot was being offered to be cleared but there were no takers because it was feared it could be a trap.”

Efforts to play down the role of arms trafficking may be a deliberate policy by activists who have relentlessly sought to accentuate the peaceful side of the Syrian uprising.

“I think there is an effort by activists helping the defectors to cover up the fact they are smuggling weapons,” said one Assad opponent from the central city of Homs.

“They want to keep the media focused on the peaceful revolution happening, not on the armed rebels fighting the army. They are definitely smuggling weapons, I’m sure of it.”

In Baalbek, Abu Wael complains that business has dried up in the last two months, as Lebanese authorities clamped down on the trade and Syria started planting mines on the border.

“The arms market in Lebanon today is frozen. Buying and selling has almost stopped.”

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November 25th, 2011, 2:09 pm


223. Khalid Tlass said:

SpANN, so you can’t even read or understand Arabic, you are not even Syrian, yet you patently consider yourslref an authority on Syrian affairs ?

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November 25th, 2011, 2:47 pm


224. ann said:

I despise blood thirsty islamist terrorists, their defenders and their friends

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November 25th, 2011, 3:05 pm


225. ann said:


Syrian military shows solidarity with Assad regime as Damascus faces more sanctions

Syria faces sanctions but army stands by regime – 9 minutes ago

The Syrian military vowed Friday to “cut every evil hand” that targets the country’s security, a defiant stance by the regime as it faces the possibility of sweeping economic sanctions from the Arab League.

The military statement could signal darker days to come in an eight-month revolt against President Bashar Assad that is turning more violent by the day.

Until recently in the uprising, most of the bloodshed came as security forces fired on mainly peaceful protests. But there have been growing reports of army defectors and armed civilians fighting Assad’s forces _ a development that some say plays into the regime’s hands by giving government troops a pretext to crack down with overwhelming force.

“The choice offered by the regime appears clear-cut: preservation of Assad’s rule or collective destruction,” the International Crisis Group said in a report this week.

Assad blames the unrest on a foreign plot to destabilize Syria, saying extremists and terrorists _ not true reformers _ are driving the calls to oust him. On Friday, the military blamed terrorists for an attack a day earlier in Homs, saying six elite pilots and four technical officers were killed in an ambush.

“The general command of the armed forces sees that enemies of the country are behind this terrorist act,” the military said. “The armed forces will continue to carry out its mission … and will cut every evil hand that targets Syrian blood.”

Although many Syrians resent police and intelligence agencies that they blame for oppressing the uprising, they respect the armed forces, which is seen as a bulwark against Israel.

Unlike the armies of Tunisia and Egypt, Syria’s military has stood fiercely by the country’s leader as Assad faces down an extraordinary protest movement.

In the past 40 years, Assad and his father before him stacked key military posts with members of their minority Alawite sect _ an offshoot of Shiite Islam _ ensuring the loyalty of the armed forces by melding the fate of the army and the regime. Syria is overwhelmingly Sunni Muslim.

“Many regime supporters are terrified about their future and thus liable to resist till the bitter end,” the Brussels-based ICG said in its report. “A majority of Alawite officials, security officers and ordinary citizens, along with segments of the Christian community and some secularists, have become convinced that their fate is either to kill or be killed.”

It is not clear who was behind Thursday’s attacks. It’s impossible to verify events on the ground because Syria has banned foreign journalists and prevented independent reporting.

Syria is the scene of the deadliest crackdown against the Arab Spring’s eruption of protests, with the U.N. reporting more than 3,500 people killed in eight months. International pressure has been mounting on Assad to stop the killing.

Also Friday, a U.N. human rights panel expressed alarm at reports it received of security forces in Syria torturing children. The Geneva-based Committee against Torture says it has received “numerous, consistent and substantiated reports” of widespread abuse in the country.

The panel’s chairman, Claudio Grossman, cited reports of “extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions; arbitrary detention by police forces and the military; and enforced and involuntary disappearances.”

The Arab League gave Syria a 24-hour deadline to agree to an observer mission or face sanctions, a humiliating blow to a nation that was a founding member of the Arab coalition.

But the Friday afternoon deadline passed with no agreement. Instead, Arab League Secretary-General Nabil Elaraby received a letter from Syria seeking more details about the proposed observer mission and its legal status.

The league will meet Saturday to decide on sanctions, according to Arab League deputy Secretary-General Ahmed Ben Heli. The punishments could include halting flights and imposing a freeze on financial dealings and assets.

Syria’s state-run SANA news agency dismissed the ultimatum, declaring Friday that the Arab League had become a “tool for foreign interference.”

SANA also said thousands of people were demonstrating in support of the regime.

But violence continued Friday, after activists urged protesters to flood the streets to support army defectors who have sided with the opposition.

Security forces fired on protesters, killing at least 11 people _ and possibly as many as 26, activists said. The differing death tolls are common in Syria, and they point to the confusion tallying information in a country that remains largely sealed off.

Syrian security forces fired outside mosques in Daraa province _ apparently to prevent demonstrations by people leaving Friday afternoon prayers, activists said. Demonstrations were reported in Idlib province, which borders Turkey.

The death tolls were compiled by the British-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights and the Local Coordination Committees.

Despite the violence, Assad still has a firm grip on power, in part because the opposition remains fragmented and he retains the support of the business classes and minority groups who feel vulnerable in an overwhelmingly Sunni nation.

International intervention, such as the NATO action in Libya that helped topple Moammar Gadhafi, is all but out of the question in Syria, in part due to concerns that it could spread chaos around the region.

Sanctions, however, could chip away at the regime in the long-term, although Syria’s staunch allies of Russia, China and Iran will help cushion the economic blow for a while.

But it is clear the unrest is eviscerating the economy, threatening the business community and prosperous merchant classes that are key to propping up the regime. An influential bloc, the business leaders have long traded political freedoms for economic privileges.

The opposition has tried to rally these largely silent but hugely important sectors of society. But Assad’s opponents have failed so far to galvanize support in Damascus and Aleppo _ the two economic centers in Syria.

With the military’s iron loyalty on his side, Assad likely sees the use of force as the only way he can survive because if the crackdown ends, the people would come out in force.

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November 25th, 2011, 3:12 pm


226. Khalid Tlass said:

What the FSA needs at this moment are more heavy arms, like some Grad-21 rockets and launchers, ATGMs, Igla SA-7 and SA-13 surface-to-air shoulder-fired missiles ( MANPADS ) to take out helicopters; CASSPIR armoured vehicles, some BTR-60s and BMP-2 armoured fighting vehicles, and maybe a few T-55 tanks thrown in the bargain.

At this moment they are desperately outgunned, they are fighting with basic, light infantry weapons like AKS, RPK light machineguns, RPG-7s, a few PKM s here and there, there is a lack of enough vehicles , if they have 70-80 technicals mountd with DsHk heavy machine guns and the weaponry cited above, we assure you the regime forces will be defeated WITHIN 1 WEEK.

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November 25th, 2011, 3:42 pm


227. ann said:

Some 20 killed in 24 hours across Syria: report – 2011-11-26

DAMASCUS, Nov. 25 (Xinhua) — Some 20 people were killed in the past 24 hours across Syria, including law-enforcement members, gunmen and a civilian, the official SANA news agency reported Friday.

Two law-enforcement members were killed Friday when a mine planted by armed groups blasted in central Hama province, SANA reported, adding that another sergeant was killed in southern Daraa province when a group of gunmen opened fire at a vehicle that was ferrying food to the law members.

In central Homs province, specialized forces conducted a qualitative operation on Thursday in the al-Rastan area, during which 16 gunmen were killed and dozens arrested, SANA said. The operation also led to the confiscation of large quantities of arms and ammunition, including diverse Israeli-made weapons, mines and mortar shells, the report said.

Meanwhile, SANA said that three explosive devices went off on Friday in several neighborhoods in Hama, but no injuries were reported. It reported that explosives experts managed to dismantle four devices that were set to go off in several crowded areas in Daraa.

In northern Idlib province, a roadside bomb exploded at Taftanas town on Thursday, killing a 13-year-old boy who was herding sheep, according to SANA.

On the opposition side, the Local Coordination Committees, an activists’ network, said that as many as 26 people, including two kids, were killed Friday across Syria, as anti-government protesters rallied under the title “the Free Syrian Army Protects Us.”

The so-called Syrian Free Army, which is composed of army defectors, has attacked many army bases over the past weeks. Their recent assault targeted a bus carrying elite army pilots on Thursday, which led to the killing of 10 officers.

The Syrian Army said in a statement on Friday that the attack on the pilots was considered a dangerous terrorist escalation, ” which unveiled the scheme that aims to weaken and target our army forces.”

“We affirm the involvement of foreign parties with the aim of weakening the fighting ability of the army,” said the statement.

The beneficiaries are the enemies of Syria such as Israel, it said, stressing the army’s full readiness to carry on with its mission to protect the citizens’ lives.

Currently, there are mounting cries among Syrians, even from anti-government activists, to halt all kinds of violent acts whether they are against government’s targets or not, as armed resistance, which the Syrian government has claimed to be fighting to justify its crackdown on protesters and which has been dismissed by many other countries, has practically become true.

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November 25th, 2011, 3:46 pm


228. irritated said:

#223 Khaled Tlass

” you consider yourslref an authority on Syrian affairs ?”

The only authority on Syrian affairs are you and Radu the cockroach, noone will dispute that

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November 25th, 2011, 4:47 pm


229. zoo said:

Saudi dynasty should leave power: top Iran cleric

Saudi Arabia’s ruling Al-Saud dynasty should give up power, a hardline senior Iranian cleric said Friday, warning that the fate of Egypt’s toppled president Hosni Mubarak awaits Saudi King Abdullah.

“You should give up power and leave it to the people. They will establish a people’s government,” Ayatollah Ahmad Jannati said in the weekly Muslim prayers at Tehran University.

“It is better for the Al-Saud to awaken. The fate of the Egyptian pharaoh (Hosni Mubarak) and that of the (fallen) strongmen in Libya and Tunisia, ultimately, awaits the Saudi pharaoh (King Abdullah)… You should be careful,” he said, as worshippers chanted “Death to Al-Saud.”

His remarks, broadcast on state radio, follow protests this week among the Shiite minority in Saudi Arabia’s oil-rich east, resulting in four deaths since Sunday.

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November 25th, 2011, 5:16 pm


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