“The Declining Number of Christians in Aleppo, Syria,” by Ehsani

Fewer Christians Live in Aleppo than is Commonly Thought
By Ehsani for Syria Comment
February 18, 2012
— No more than 100,000 Christians live in Aleppo – 3.3% of the city’s population, not the 12% commonly stated.

The exact number of religious minorities in Syria is difficult to ascertain. It is often reported that Christians make up somewhere between 9% and 12% of the population. Nearly two years ago, I happened to be visiting the city of Aleppo when a young Syrian Priest argued that the actual number of Syrian Christians is lower than the above consensus estimate. The initial purpose of the meeting at the time was to discuss the plight of Syrian youth.

This note will attempt to discuss the plight of  the Christian population in Aleppo. The findings will point to the fact that this particular minority seems to have suffered from a precipitous drop in its numbers measured as a percentage of the population. Low fertility rate, abysmal economic growth, unfavorable laws, regional dynamics and frightening language from some extremists have combined to deal this minority a remarkable blow when it comes to their numbers at least within the ancient city of Aleppo.

The Data:

My initial foray into this topic started over two years ago during one of my visits to the city. During one of my meetings, a noted Christian Priest remarked how Christian youth were leaving in larger numbers than ever before. He proceeded to argue how the lack of job opportunities, low wages and exuberant housing prices had combined to drive the youth in his congregation to move abroad. His attempts to convince his young men to stay in Syria fell on deaf ears. The result has been a migration of alarming proportions. And this has been going on for years. Pressed to back up his assertions with data, the priest promised to provide me with hard statistics about the size of the Aleppine Christian community on my next trip.

Prior to visiting Syria in January 2012, I decided to call another Church leader who seemed to also have a wide following in the Aleppo Christian community. My goal was simple. I wanted him to use the next two months to find out how many Christians live in the city of Aleppo.

As it turns out, Christian priests and bishops keep tally of their parishioners by keeping track of the number of families under their respective churches. The Assyrian Orthodox Church for example has 1300 families. Approximately every 300 families are assigned to each Priest. This gives the church a reasonable ability to calculate the number of people under its roof. This is made easier by the fact that Christian births and marriages are meticulously recorded by the Church; the registration process allows the community to keep close track of the number of its parishioners.

There are elven Christian denominations in the city of Aleppo. Listed below are the approximate number of families that belong to each of the eleven churches:

Roman (Melkite) Catholic 2,500

Roman (Antiochian) Orthodox 1,000

Armenian Catholic 1,300

Armenian Orthodox 10,000

Syriac Catholic 1,300

Syrian Orthodox 1,300

Maronites 400

Chaldean 400

Latin 400

Arab Anglican 100

Armenian Anglican 300

The total number of Christian families in Aleppo is therefore 19,000.  If one assumes that the average family size is 5 (a generous assumption), the number of Christians in Aleppo is below 100,000. It is of course difficult to accurately define the total number of Aleppo’s population. It is often argued that the number is around 3 million people if you exclude the reef (rural area) and as high as 5 million people when one includes areas like Hayyan, Hreitan, Albab and Mumbej.

If accurate, the 19,000 Christian families of Aleppo means that Christians make up only 3.5% of its 3 million residents.

When I shared the data with most Christians in the city of Aleppo, the response was mixed. Some nodded their heads in agreement. Some seemed surprised and demanded that they look at the numbers in more detail. Not one was able to refute them outright.

Many readers of this note are likely to be surprised by these findings. I urge them to correct my numbers if they are false. I would be grateful for anyone who can find holes in the above percentage.

Aleppo and Damascus are supposed to make up half of the population of Syria. However, Aleppo has hardly any Christians in its reef or countryside. This is not the case in other parts of the country like Wadi Al Nasara (The Valley of Christians) around Homs for example. The Priests I spoke with did not have Christian population statistics for the country as a whole, but insisted that the total number of Christians in Syria probably does not surpass one million. These means that they probably make up between 4% to 5% of the total population rather than the 9% to 12% that is usually cited.

Back to Aleppo:

Wikipedia still states that “Aleppo is home to many eastern Christian congregations and that “more than 250,000 Christians live in the city representing about 12% of the total population.”

The results of my own findings are vastly different from such numbers.

The last known census took place in 1944. During that time, Christians were known to number 112,110. This meant that they represented near 38% of the city’s population of just over 300,000. This statistic was confirmed when the political representatives for the city council were assigned. Of the 12 members to the council, 5 were Christians. This was an official confirmation that they made up nearly 40% of the city’s residents.

This number dropped significantly over the ensuing 20 years culminating with the arrival of Abdul Nassar. Following WW II, many Armenians decided to migrate to Armenia. Soon afterwards and during the early 1950’s, a significant percentage of Christians belonging to mostly lower income groups left for Venezuela and other parts of Latin America. Those in the upper income groups were dealt a severe economic blow upon the arrival of Abdul Nasser. The misguided nationalization drive of the period sent many wealthy families packing. Lebanon, Canada and other Western nations were the likely destination.

By the early 1960’s, the Christian population of Aleppo had dropped to as low as 20%. A Church official present at the meeting suggested that by the time Hafez Assad took over power in 1970, Christians in Aleppo were merely 10% of the city’s population.

Over the next four decades, this number has dropped to as low 3.5%. Wikipedia’s number of 12% is widely off the mark.  It is expected that I will encounter significant challenges to the data I presented. I welcome the input of those who do.

While on topic, it is worth remembering that the Christian existence in this land predates Islam. Christianity was born in the Levant. It was the Roman Empire that transported Christianity from the Levant to the Western part of the Empire. Later on during the new roman empire (Byzantine empire), it was a Damascene Christian Monophysite bishop that informed Khalid Ibn al-Walid that it was possible to breach city walls by attacking a position only lightly defended at night by opposing Byzantine soldiers. The Byzantine-Sassanid wars of 602-628 had exhausted the local populace. The negative treatment of the western Byzantine Empire’s rulers turned the local largely Christian population against their rule. As the Arab conquests reached the gates of Damascus, Christian Syrians were hardly opposed to the new  invaders.

Economics:

Perhaps no single issue has done more harm to Syria than its economic performance over the recent decades. The failure of the country’s experiment with socialism has been painful. So has been the state’s allocation of its water resources under the banner of self-sufficiency. Another abject failure has come from the lack of supply of housing as attempts to regulate the process of “Tanzeem” have taken decades. An explosion in Illegal housing was the inevitable consequence as legal housing unit prices rose beyond the economic means of most Syrians. What started as a noble exercise to help the poor afford basic needs decades ago has morphed into one of the most debilitating liabilities for the treasury. Subsidies may have been affordable when Syria had 8 million people and double the oil output. But they have sucked the government’s coffers dry now that the population has tripled and that oil output has fallen by half.  Last but not least is a debilitated public sector that is terribly inefficient and has monopolized vast sectors of the economy, stifling private initiative and weighing on Syria’s potential growth like a stone.

To be sure, the word “Socialism” was finally dropped from the country’s new constitution. However, Article 13 continues to insist that:

“The national economy shall be based on the development of the public and private economic activities”. The same article also states that “ The state shall guarantee the protection of producers and consumers”. Finally, the constitution now dictates that “Taxes are imposed on an equitable and progressive bases which achieve the principles of equality and social justice”.

The combination of the above set of economic principals is a clear indication that the country’s transformation away from socialism will be slow and uneven.

Many of the readers of this forum are aware that I have been warning about the damaging effects of Syria’s anemic economy for years. It was my interest in the subject that triggered the initial meeting when I wanted to understand the plight of the youth and their preference to leave the country seeking better economic opportunities abroad. According to those present, economic issues were by far the most important factor behind the accelerated immigration trends. In one month alone, 400 Christian families migrated from Aleppo to Lebanon following the disastrous Nationalization policies of Abdul Nasser in the 1960’s.

The Syrian Personal Status Law:

Under Syrian law, a Christian can convert to Islam. It is illegal for a Muslim to convert to Christianity of course. Inter-religious marriages seem to have provided Church leaders and the Christian community in general with a major challenge.

Christian women who decide to marry a Muslim man have to make a critical decision due to the country’s inheritance and estate laws. If she stays Christian rather than convert, she will inherit zero from her husband following his death.  The only way she can inherit is if she converts to Islam. Civil weddings do not exist in Syria.

This is why many Syrian Christian families find it extremely hard to accept inter-religious marriages. It is also why they seem to prefer to live in Christian-only buildings where the chances of young adults interacting with those from a different sect are lower. Christians feel that the civil laws are unfavorable to them.

For the record, many Christians were hopeful that article 3 was going to be dropped from the new constitution. Such expectations were not met when they found out that “The President has to be part of the Muslim faith.”

The plight of Iraq’s Christians:

Syrian Christians have been badly affected by the recent experience of Iraqi Christians. Aleppo has been home to many Iraqis who reside in the city as they await their immigration visas. Most attempt to leave the region for good. Stories of Christian persecution in Iraq have had a profound effect on Syria’s Christians. Many Syrian Christians are convinced that their future in the region may be no brighter than that of their Iraqi coreligionists.

The Religious Satellite Channels:

Nothing seems to send greater chills down the spine of most Syrian Christians than watching extremist religious figures rally their listeners and supporters on satellite television. Adnan Ar’ur may well speak for millions of Syrians. His steady appearances, however, seem to convince Syrian Christians to pack up and leave.

Conclusion:

The percentage of Aleppo’s Christians has been in steady decline since the early 1900’s. That the number has dropped from over 40% as recently as the 1940’s to the current 3.5% of the population of this city is remarkable. This phenomenon is not new. Many have known about these trends and have written about them. The consensus however has been that Christians still make up 9%-12% of Syria’s population. This admittedly unscientific study challenges those assumptions. Instead, it argues that Syrian Christians may have dropped to as low as 4%-6% of the total population and as low as 3.5% in Aleppo. Readers can draw their own conclusions about what implications this has for the country going forward. It may suggest that authoritarian support for President Assad and for “secularism” is not as important as sometimes stated.

Syrian Christians in the Diaspora continue to have a profound and strong attachment to the land. The sentiment amongst the Christians inside the country is unmistakable. They seem resigned to the fact that their numbers are heading south. When I presented my 3.5% number to many of them, many simply nodded their heads. The vast majority of them may not know the exact number but many have indicated to me that it does “feel” to them like 3.5%. Aleppo’s overwhelmingly Sunni countryside has been suffering from a deep economic depression for decades. Many of Syria’s poorest towns are those surrounding Aleppo. During the day, men from these areas descend on the city, looking for work and better opportunity. The population of Aleppo has soared. Indeed, most Aleppines feel like they are living in a city of 5 million people.  Seen from this perspective, the 19,000 families of this ancient land feel that they only make up 1.9% of its larger populace.

The Wide Spread Effects of Economics on All Syrians:

While this note listed a number of factors behind the drop in the percentage of Christians that make up the population of this land, it is the opinion of this writer that poor economic policy lies at the heart of this issue. The negative impact of economic mismanagement has hit all religious communities of Syria. Presented with the chance, most Syrian youth chose to migrate out of the country. The lack of economic upward mobility has meant that most young Syrians have found it difficult to carve out a reasonable economic future for themselves. Yes, Syria, like the rest of the Arab world, could do with less corruption and more democracy and freedom. None of this is likely to matter much in the long run unless the country can design a vibrant industrial policy, find sufficient energy and renewable water resources, improve its outmoded education and health care systems and make legal housing affordable for the vast majority of the populace. Let us remember that this region needs to create nearly 80 million jobs over the next twenty years. Syria alone needs to create close to 300,000 jobs a year. On current trends, this is nearly impossible to accomplish and it is the reason why we are at the beginning of our black tunnel.

NEWS ROUNDS UP

Hundreds and hundreds of anti-government protesters braved scattered gunfire from Syrian soldiers to march through a middle-class neighborhood in Damascus on Saturday, the biggest demonstration witnessed close to the heart of the capital since the country’s uprising started 11 months ago.

Frustrated Protestors Fill Streets In Damascus

Seemingly undeterred by an international outcry, Moscow has worked frantically in recent weeks to preserve its relationship with the increasingly isolated government of Mr. Assad

For Syria, Reliant on Russia for Weapons and Food, Old Bonds Run Deep

A “good number” of unmanned US military and intelligence drones are operating in the skies over Syria, monitoring the Syrian military’s attacks against opposition forces and civilians, NBC News reported, citing unnamed US defense sources.

US drones monitoring events in Syria

 

Comments (216)


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51. Mina said:

OTW
You were talking about the issue of the Christians of Syria. I said: address the Salafi lies before it is too late. They have 20 percent of the majlis al shaab in Egypt and have won number 1 (before the new wafd, the wasat and far above the muslim brothers) for the majlis al shura (at least for the 2/3 of the country which had voted first in january, and that includes parts of Cairo, Suez and Alexandria…)
Your only answer about Shahat on the Bahais is: “the guy is a fool”. I say: a fool with a lot of followers, just like Aroor. Populism as expressed by politicians playing with irational fears and relayed by expensive media campaigns or worse, channels, have been a threat to democracy already for a while. You can’t just ignore it.
If your conception of democracy is “according to your other comments, I suspect that you mean this and that”, no wonder why we see no progress in Syria.

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February 19th, 2012, 6:45 am

 

52. Alan said:

‘If Israel bombs Iran, Arab states will support Tehran’
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dUw4ZoskahI

Tension around Iran has spiralled. Tehran is carefully avoiding being provoked so as not to vie the US and Israel an excuse for military action. Though activists believe the extra sanctions and economic blockade of Tehran is already an ‘act of war’. ­RT has talked to Brian Becker, the national coordinator of the A.N.S.W.E.R. anti-war coalition on the reasons behind the instability in the region.

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February 19th, 2012, 7:16 am

 

53. Mina said:

In a short sentence in one article we now read that the Egyptian mukhabaraat had organized the bombings of Taba and Sharm al Sheikh that killed dozens http://weekly.ahram.org.eg/2012/1085/eg11.htm
It does not make headlines, and neither does Mubarak’s trial. Umar Suleiman has disappeared from the screens as “the guy who knew too much”. The corrupters of Mubarak will never be tried, or even named.
What kind of democracy do we want in these conditions?
Syrian problems won’t disappear with the removal of one guy and a few families. Believing in Western honesty and calling for police states in the Gulf to help removing a police state is due to fail.
A revolution means a long process of transformation that implies bringing in some segments of the society to join a common project. As long as you deny the Salafi problem, you won’t progress.

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February 19th, 2012, 7:21 am

 

54. Alan said:

Battle for Mideast: Syria proxy war can make Iran bite

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February 19th, 2012, 7:21 am

 

55. Norman said:

With 5% Christians in Syria, it is surprising that the Muslims need to have article 3 to keep the presidency in thier hands,

I asked if that is part of Islam on SC the answer was that it is not , so it looks that the reason is just quota and set aside,

I want to alert all Syrians that when members of a household are not treated equally , the tend to have thier own homes, so the Muslims of Syria need to be and do what the wights of the US did during the civil rights movement that treated blacks equally and saved the US.

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February 19th, 2012, 9:00 am

 

56. Tara said:

Syria is a re-play of Sarajevo.  Dead babies, severed limbs, body trails, slitted throats, gouged out eyes.  All committed with impunity.  Isn’t time for the world to military interfere? 

Syria intervention drive mirrors Bosnia’s history
By Douglas Hamilton | Reuters – 3 hrs ago

JERUSALEM (Reuters) – Cold-blooded sniper killings, indiscriminate shelling, surgery by flashlight, death, fear and hunger in a darkened city under the ruthless hammer of a superior force.
In its random cruelty, the conflict in Syria starts to resemble the war in Bosnia 20 years ago, when Serb, Muslim and Croat forces tore the Balkan country apart and the besieged people of Sarajevo buried thousands of dead in sports fields.
Bosnia’s carnage was broadcast globally month after month by 24-hour satellite television news then in its early days. The slaughter in the Syrian city of Homs has been playing out to the world almost hourly on mobile phone and amateur video.
Images of dead babies, severed limbs, blood running in the gutters and people driven mad by grief provoke horror, followed by demands for armed foreign intervention.
Intervention did come to Bosnia, but so hesitantly that the agony of its people went on for nearly 4 years, in which tens of thousands were killed and a million lost their homes.
Western powers who finally stopped the slaughter say they have no intention of going into Syria, a move that would have incalculable consequences in a volatile region.
Bosnia was a small republic of Yugoslavia, a European crisis on NATO’s doorstep. Syria is a major Arab republic with powerful friends in Russia and Iran, situated on a strategic crossroads.
The most readily recognizable common denominator between them is the Soviet-era T-72 tank. It has smashed its way into cities to crush lightly-armed rebels and civilians alike in 11 months of suppression by Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

Right now, the prospects of a U.N. peacekeeping force for Syria are seen as slim, since “there is no peace to keep.” But there was no peace to keep in Bosnia either, in 1992.
The Washington Institute’s Cagaptay and Tabler say a mission to Syria could succeed, and avoid escalation, if it heeds the lessons of Bosnia and avoids the pitfalls.
Firstly it must avoid “designating safe havens without a credible military structure to protect them.” Secondly it must not “send in peacekeepers without a strong mandate for them to shoot back.” Thirdly, it must “use airpower to protect the enclaves and maintain humanitarian corridors.”
They speculate that it would be commanded by a Turkish general, operating from NATO headquarters.

http://news.yahoo.com/syria-intervention-drive-mirrors-bosnias-history-105507946.html

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February 19th, 2012, 9:31 am

 

57. Alan said:

أصبح هذا الموقع باهتا ناقص الألوان بدون جاد أليس كذلك؟

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February 19th, 2012, 9:51 am

 

58. DAWOUD said:

Reply to Amir in Occupied/Ethnically-cleansed Palestine http://www.joshualandis.com/blog/?p=13503

Don’t make fun of Arabs that they are “fighting in the streets.” Arabs are trying to forge a future free from Arab dictatorships and Israeli occupation/colonialism. Still, Israelis are fighting in the streets. They are shooting, killing, injuring, and harassing occupied/besieged Palestinians. Do you remember the Israeli white phosphorous over Gaza? Yet, the attack on Hanin Zoabi in the Knesset was not a simple parliamentary debate among “equals.” Jewish members, including recent Rusian colonialists, were talking to her as if she had no right to be in her homeland. Can you imagine a recent U.S. naturalized citizen telling a native American Indian that he/she should go somewhere else?
The Syrian demonstators “fighting on the streets” of Homs, Damascus, Idlib, Doma, Der’a, Hama, Zabadani, Deir al-Zour, etc. possess an exemplary courage that a Zionist would never have had without hiding behind an American-made/supplied F16, Apache, white phosphourous…
Just today, courageous UNARMED Palestinians defended the holy al-Aqsa Mosque from Jewish terrorist infiltrators:
http://aljazeera.net/NR/exeres/D725AF24-5208-45D9-8C22-9C172BA0C715.htm?GoogleStatID=1

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February 19th, 2012, 10:32 am

 

59. DAWOUD said:

As to Ehsani’s post on Aleppo’s Christians, their numbers would decline mainly because of immigration for economic/educational purposes. Last week, I watched Fareed Zakaria’s GPS program on CNN, during which Prof. Fawaz Gergis mentioned that he was in Syria and noticed that most Syrian Christians supported the regime. This, if true, is very sad because when the regime inevitably falls many of its Christian supporters would be fearful and decide to flee even if they are not targeted for persecution. We need to see more courageous Syrian Christians like Michel Kilo. This is the best insurance that Syrian Christians would be partners in building their homeland’s democratic future. They should ignore the advice of sectarian Lebanese figures like Michel Auon and the Maronite Patriarch.

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February 19th, 2012, 10:48 am

 

60. mjabali said:

Mr. Norman:

Inequality will cause people to ask for independence and separation. This will free them from domination and discrimination. Minorities of the Middle East should think and act together.

Salam

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February 19th, 2012, 10:58 am

 

61. Equus said:

Mr. Off the Wall

Wrote: The difference is that, I have a law to protect me and no one to force tutelage on me as “guardian” of my interest, there is only the law and efforts to apply it fairly. Therefore, I can push back without carrying a weapon.

I’m not so sure that is possible when police who is planting the evidence….

http://willyloman.wordpress.com/2012/01/03/utica-police-officers-planting-evidence-caught-on-tape-02-11-2011/

Do you know why O.J. Simpson was not convicted for the killing of his wife, despite all the evidence….The glove didn’t fit. AH!

I hope you’ll never have to test the (perfect) American system because once you are in it, you’ll never come out.

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February 19th, 2012, 10:59 am

 

62. Equus said:

All in all, Syria remains too much like the socialist state the Arab Socialist Ba’ath Party founders envisaged for it, and too little like a platform for increasing the profits of overseas banks, investors and corporations. Accordingly, its regime of self-directed, independent, economic development must be changed. The militant Islamist uprising, helped along by US money, propaganda and diplomatic support, has set the stage for Washington to realize its regime-change ambitions. Washington has framed the conflict as one between peaceful pro-democracy demonstrators and a murderous tyrant whose thirst for power has driven him to the extremes of killing his own people. Assad has, by this reckoning, “lost legitimacy” and must step aside.

GE didn’t get any tenders in Syria…oups bad country let’s destroy it.

http://willyloman.wordpress.com/2012/02/19/syrias-uprising-in-context/
By Steve Gowans

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February 19th, 2012, 11:07 am

 

63. Ghufran said:

تسود حالة من الجدل داخل مصر، وتحديداً في قطاع وزارة الداخلية، بسبب ائتلاف “أنا ضابط ملتحي” الذي أنشأه عدد من ضباط الشرطة علي صفحات الفيسبوك، يطالبون السماح لهم بإطلاق لحاهم تأسياً بسنة الإسلام.
يقول النقيب هاني الشاكري، المتحدث الرسمي باسم الصفحة، والذي نشر صورته بعد أسبوع واحد من إطلاقه للحيته: “أعلم أن كثيراً من المحبين يشتاقون لرؤية ضباط مصر ملتحين بهدي نبيهم”.
http://www.alarabiya.net/articles/2012/02/19/195668.html
الخطوه القادمه هي تغيير اسم الشرطه كي تصبح هيئة الامر بالمعروف و النهي عن المنكر

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February 19th, 2012, 11:10 am

 

64. Syria no kandahar said:

يحيا الفخراني
المجلس الوطني لايمثلني

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February 19th, 2012, 11:21 am

 

65. Ghufran said:

Basma Qadmani 2008

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February 19th, 2012, 11:27 am

 

66. Jerusalem said:

Mr. Dawood,

Wrote: They are fighting Israeli occupation/colonialism.

If this is the case why Lebanese clerks or Cheicks called upon jihad for Syria? Did they loose their compass between Syria and Palestine? Or the four coordinates have changed in google search engine?

Since google has already changed Syria’s map and the VP of google wasn’t available to comment. Once I find this article again with exact link and source I shall post it.

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February 19th, 2012, 11:41 am

 

67. Alan said:

Iraq For Sale – Full Movie
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0Zt9BZD7mlc
A documentary on the privatisation of the Iraq war and the problems such policies have led to not least of all the creation of the militrary industrial complex. Documentary, War, Iraq, US, USA, America, Politics, Private Contracts, Contractors

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February 19th, 2012, 11:48 am

 

68. Alan said:

57. MJABALI
what has be happened with him ?

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February 19th, 2012, 11:52 am

 
 

70. Equus said:

Mr. Dawood,

Wrote: Can you imagine a recent U.S. naturalized citizen telling a native American Indian that he/she should go somewhere else?

Please let’s be realistic, American white man killed most of first nation people and who left of them in Canada, they put them in reserves with “Third World” conditions. They don’t even have drinking water.

http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/story/2007/02/06/fontaine-speech.html

To keep idolizing America where in fact its only business is permanent wars for unchallengeable wealth, power, and dominance, while homeland needs go begging.

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February 19th, 2012, 12:00 pm

 
 
 

73. Revlon said:

Dear Ehsani:
Using the term plight to describe the dwindling number of Syrian Christians in Syria, is unfortunate, especially that it was used in the same post to describe the condition of the Iraqi Christian refugees in Syria.

Your cited reasons for such “Plight” were:
((Low fertility rate, abysmal economic growth, unfavorable laws, regional dynamics and frightening language from some extremists have combined to deal this minority a remarkable blow when it comes to their numbers at least within the ancient city of Aleppo.

Christians feel that the civil laws are unfavorable to them.
Christian women who decide to marry a Muslim man have to make a critical decision due to the country’s inheritance and estate laws. If she stays Christian rather than convert, she will inherit zero from her husband following his death. This is why many Syrian Christian families find it extremely hard to accept inter-religious marriages..))

I just wonder how allowing a Christian lady to inherit her Muslem Husband would reflect positively on Christian’s population trend!
Their kids are going to be in the Muslem community statistics any how! No!

This reason should not even count as an impediment to inter-religious marriage. If the basis of such marriage is love against all odds, as it is naturally the case, the husband would be willing to write up part or all what he owns to his wife while he is living; unless Romeo is counting on his Dad’s fortune!

((Under Syrian law, a Christian can convert to Islam. It is illegal for a Muslim to convert to Christianity of course. ))

How many Muslems in the entire world, where allowed, have converted to Christianity in order to marry a Christian woman?
Extrapolate that figure on Aleppo population to have an approximate count of such event!
Does it really make any impact on the population to warrant even mentioning it, in your logical discourse!

((and frightening language from some extremists))
I want to thank OTW to reply to this argument.

The Syrian Christian community shall be affected by the outcome of this revolution, not because they are Christians but by virtue of being Syrians.

That the president’s religion must be Islam has been in the constitution that was forged by current regime whom the Syrian Christians are largely behind!
Even Norman, on this blog argues for keeping such clause, while myself, who is repeatedly accused of being MB is against it for it is both discriminatory and redundant!

Degree for degree, Christians have been enjoying an advantage over their Moslem neighbours as they have been favoured by the other minority; the Alawis.

Their proportional drop over the years, in my estimation, is due solely to their declining fertility.

In my own personal experience, the main impediment to having more kids is the mental stress incurred by the parents to raise them, including keep them busy doing the right things!
Money and job opportunities matter not; the lower the income, the higher the family head count!

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February 19th, 2012, 12:30 pm

 

74. Aldendeshe said:

@52. Tara said:

Syria is a re-play of Sarajevo. Dead babies, severed limbs, body trails, slitted throats, gouged out eyes. All committed with impunity. Isn’t time for the world to military interfere?
_________________________________________________________________

In Illuminati lingo and strategy for world domination, what you said Tara tops the TODO list. It is called 1- Creating the problem, 2- wait for people to beg for solution, and 3- Offer the solution that is intended in the first place. This also is studied in Marketing 101, you first create the demand, then offer the product.

This beg the Q who are you TARA? Why jump into Military Intervention when International action only can be of help here without resorting to more killing that you are talking about.

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February 19th, 2012, 12:40 pm

 

75. Norman said:

Mjabali,

You got my message, and I am sure others got yours,

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February 19th, 2012, 12:41 pm

 
 

77. majedkhaldoun said:

Ehsani
How many kids you have?

Norman How many kids you have.

Even in France the christian population has decreased

Islam encourage marriage and having kids,in Islam Marriage is half the religion, and there is impression by Muslems that the prophet encouraged having kids, in Christianity, not to marry is not bad,Jesus did not marry , and priests do not marry,and nuns do not marry.
There are some who consider increase in population is a very powerful weapon, certainly in democracy the more the number the more chance to win in democracy,

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February 19th, 2012, 1:05 pm

 

78. majedkhaldoun said:

http://www.newscientist.com/article/dn3464-jojoba-oil-could-fuel-cars-and-trucks.html
This plant grow in desert as well in temperate area, it may be the future to replace gas for cars.

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February 19th, 2012, 1:26 pm

 

79. Alan said:

Game under a table
Escobar: Al-Qaeda agents worm into Syrian rebel army

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February 19th, 2012, 1:30 pm

 

80. norman said:

Majed,

AL Mal wal Baneen Zeenato AL Dounia,

i have 4

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February 19th, 2012, 1:38 pm

 

81. Aldendeshe said:

@76 MAJD

This is worse than using corn for Ethanol production. Commercial and industrial scale growing of this plant have ecological consequence that is disastrous to the ecosystem. While corn production for industrial use raised the price or corn so much that countries using corn based food doubled its starvation ranking, it caused severe land and soil eradication that is not easily replenished.

There are other, more viable technology that can generate power for home and compressed air drive cars, but the power to be that wishes to enslave humans and keep them dependent on oil will not promote it. Rather they promote the one that don’t work, or will cause serious environmental problems so that they can set up solution and corporation that can bilk billions in profit when the solution is presented by them. Welcome to the real world.

Here is a technology that work, next year will launch small scale production:

http://www.wipo.int/patentscope/search/en/WO2001043272

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February 19th, 2012, 2:04 pm

 

82. ghufran said:

Efforts underway to reach a “cease fire” in Homs,judging from what took place in Zabadani and the lack of incentives for the regime to back off,I suspect that there will be a reduction in violence and shooting but a continuation of arrests. It remains to be seen if the new promise of an improved security all over Syria by the end of March will be kept. There is a lot of weapons and thugs in Syria,the army is busy and the opposition to the regime is actually going up.

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February 19th, 2012, 2:40 pm

 

83. Alan said:

@76 MAJD,79. ALDENDESHE
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_nib2-DrteE
The electric power from air and cars without gasoline

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February 19th, 2012, 2:42 pm

 

84. Aldendeshe said:

@MAJD

Here is another one. Although I obtained patent from most industrial countries on the Hybrid, the U.S. Patent examiner told me sarcastically, after waiting more than 3 years for examination, that he will never have time to look at this one. They even removed the drawings from the view, but it looks like a flying saucer. I did not contest it because my interest is in Electric Vehicles mostly and the saucer require huge diameter restricting it from such use. So I let it slip to public domain.

http://www.wipo.int/patentscope/search/en/detail.jsf?docId=WO2001043258&recNum=1&maxRec=1&office=&prevFilter=&sortOption=&queryString=FP%3A%28aldendeshe%29&tab=PCT+Biblio

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February 19th, 2012, 2:46 pm

 

85. Leo Syriacus said:

Ehsani’s article showcases the suffering of EVERYBODY in the Middle East outside Petro-Dollar Sheikhdoms with a particular emphasis on the Christian community of Aleppo.
Most of us in Syria were from the middle class that suffered greatly under the Assads and the economic downturn they are responisble for, so what is unique to the Christian community and to that particular one in Aleppo?
Many young men immigrated and while the Muslims immigrate temporarily for a decade or so to the Gulf states or the West they mainly return to Syria, marry Syrian women, and father several children..their Christian compatriots move mainly to the West and stay there, they marry westren women and gradually lose ties to Syria…even those who stay have fewer children than Muslim families
The Aleppine Christian community has a high number of non-Arabs as well..Armenians, Syriac,and Assyrians so they face the dual factor of being a minority both in ethnicity and creed and are more likely to stand on those line-ups on the doors of European,American, and Canadian embassies

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February 19th, 2012, 2:56 pm

 

86. Leo Syriacus said:

The decline in numbers of all Christian communities in the Middle East is a cultural loss to all of us including Muslims.
It is in Damascus where St Paul became a christian and effectively started the organized Christian faith.
The inter-religious relations in post-independent Syria were largely positive and were some of the best in the world outside Western democracies, this culture of tolerance will remain an important component of the Syrian society

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February 19th, 2012, 3:04 pm

 

87. sheila said:

Dear Norman,
You said: “With 5% Christians in Syria, it is surprising that the Muslims need to have article 3 to keep the presidency in thier hands”.
The “Muslims” did not add article 3 to the constitution, it is the regime who did so. If you are going to say that the regime had no other choice, I would beg to differ. When the regime claims to be secular and in effect has complete control of everything in Syria, they can not claim that this is the only thing that they can not do. They were able to change the constitution in a few minutes to allow Bashar to become president,. To claim that they can not remove article 3 is completely disingenuous.
Article 3 is wrong on so many levels, most important of which is the fact that we are narrowing the choice that people have and excluding some who might be the best candidates for that position. You can imagine if the requirement was for the president to be an Arab, that Salah Aldeen Al Ayoubi would never be able to become the president of Syria. This is a real shame. Since the majority in the country is Muslim and Sunni and we are trying to establish a democracy, let the people vote the person they want and give them the widest range of choices. I would like to bet that most people in Syria will vote for a person that they believe is good regardless of his or her religion, ethnicity or sect.
At the end of the day, are we voting for the head of Al Azhar? What does the religion of the president have to do with his or her ability to rule effectively?

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February 19th, 2012, 3:09 pm

 

88. majedkhaldoun said:

Norman

يربو ب دلالك وعزك

Aldandashi
Burning gas by cars is the worse ecologic harm,the oil from jojobo oil is much cleaner. but I agree electric car is good.

Sheila,
I am proud that Damascus preceded Allepo to join this revolution

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February 19th, 2012, 3:42 pm

 

89. Observer said:

[This post was held up in moderation because of a misspelled name]

The issue as I posted before and is the crux of what Ehsani is saying is that these are fake & failed countries. There is no such thing as a Lebanese nation or a Syrian nation or a Saudi nation or a Jordanian nation. We have countries that are designated as families and they have it in their official name such as Jordan and Saudi Arabia. We have Souria Alassad as another reference to the fact that Assad came to power after the official designation of Syria as an Arab Republic otherwise it would have been called the Assadi Syrian Republic.
Many reasons people flee the system and one has to look at the number and composition of Syrians that have left and what they have done outside of Syria as a testimony to their talent and resilience.

Of my class of 42 persons in high school and graduating in 1971 I have about four or five that are still in Syria.

One of them is the head of a hospital the second is an Armenian and she is a famous talk show host, the third is a dentist, and the fourth of Palestinian origin is a psychiatrist.

As for those who left I will give you an idea of what they did:
One is dentist in France and very successful at it, the other is famous neurologist in Cleveland, the third is a successful GI doctor in Toledo the fourth is a Pediatric neurologist in Ohio the next is a famous physician and nationally known at Columbus the next is the head of liver disease at one of the most famous institutions in the nation, the next one is the head of renal transplant at Harvard, then another went on to become one of the best students and pioneer in Radiology, he is in Kentucky, and last but not least the next one is a very prominent vascular surgeon and researcher in Washington DC, and one of my best friends form that class is an cardiologist in Chicago while another very good friend of mine is a nuclear engineer in France. And the list goes on and on.

My own family is also a microcosm of ” as my uncle would say the benefits of the Baath party” as it forced us to leave as one of my cousins is a hematologist in Paris and her sister is an eye specialist also in Paris, and one is a very successful business man with an multinational company in Europe.

Some of my family married Christians and others married Palestinians and yet others married Lebanese and one married a Jordanian and most of them have gone into exile forced by the dismantling of the Syrian society under the rule of the Baath and its mafia.

Most of you do not remember that at one time the minister of religious affairs in Syria was a Christian and that the entente between the politicians in Lebanon in 1943 gave willingly the lion’s share of power to the Maronites.

Let us think in long historical stretches; Germany for example was
divided until Bismarck united it and the same with Garibaldi in Italy and what we are witnessing now is the crumbling of the artificial entities of the dismantling of the Ottoman empire. The end of the cold war which kept many countries together is coming to a new reality hence the break up of Yougoslavia and the next will be Belgium and the next will be Italy north and south and the next will be Eastern Russia and perhaps some parts of China and then back to the ME where none of these countries are capable of solving not a single problem without the formation of an economic union.

Despotic rule does not discriminate and actually uses the fears and apprehensions of various parts of the society to rule. Hence it instills fear in the business elite, it instills fear in the minorities, it instills fear in the clan, and it promises the illusion of stability.

Here in the US and despite many shortcomings here I am in an institution where I am a division head without anyone asking me what is my religion or origin and my colleague is the head of the American College of Endocrinology and he is with a Muslim name being from Iran elected to the post freely.

This is because there is a higher element than the narrow stupid self serving view of the parochial mentality that is killing the ME.

From the thread and as an “observer” I sense now that there is despair on the part of some for any redemption that the regime may benefit from. Even the supporters of the regime on this blog are exhausted posting news from RT and Xinhua and Al Akhbar and what have you.

Instead of lamenting the end of the regime I invite them to work on what is the next Syria will be. It will have to be rebuilt from scratch with extreme difficulty as the stupid regime is slowly destroying not only Syria but also any institutions that may survive the regime so that there will be no framework to keep the society together.

Let me throw a bomb into the mix:
First article of the constitution of Syria’s ally Iran states that God is sovereign not the people.

The same question is facing the Islamists ( not Islam in my opinion as I believe that Islam insists on people rule not God rule but this is a different debate ): Is God the head of state or are the people the source of legitimacy and rule?

If it is God we are finished for another 200 years in my opinion.
Therefore the challenge is how to help them build a coherent world view where their deep belief is liberating rather than regimented for I truly believe that in true Islam even an atheist can be head of state as he is to be elected by the people. If the people elect him to fulfill their view of an Islamic or religious or faith based society and he is the best person to do it then Islam does not only permit it but encourages it.

This may come as heresy to some but few care to admit that Muhammad ruled Medina with its pagan tribes without enforcing Islam on them and the converse is true. As a matter of fact most of the Muslim rulers abused Islam just as the new constitution in Syria has done so by insisting on the stupid non Islamic clause that the President ought to be Muslim.

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February 19th, 2012, 3:45 pm

 

90. syria no kandahar said:

[NOTE – Please do not paste full-text articles to Syria Comment. ]

http://www.syrianow.sy/

غسان بن جدو : اسطورة عزمي بشارة احترقت حتى النهاية وتفحمت

بقلم:غسان بن جدو
يلومني الكثيرون على تجاهلي لما يسمونه “ثورة الربيع العربي” واصراري على اشاحة نظري عنها بازدراء .. ويسوق لي البعض المقالات والمقابلات وصورا من اليوتيوب .. لكنني لم أستطع ابتلاع هذه الثورات ولاهضمها ولااستساغتها ..

وموقفي ليس عنادا ولاتشبثا بنظام ولابعهد بل هو انحياز نحو عقلي وقلبي أولا وانحياز نحو كل ماتعلمته وقرأته .. وأنا قرأت كل ماقرأت في حياتي كي أتمكن من استعمال عقلي في حدث مفصلي كهذا .. وكي لا أسلّم بالأشياء فقط لأن الجمهور يريد ذلك ولأن بوصلة الشارع لاتخطئ حسب مايزعمون .. انني لاأحب السير مع القطيع الذي تقوده الذئاب ..بل وتسير بينه الذئاب .. ولاأحب الثورات التي لاتعرف نكهة الفلسفة ولا نعمة الفكر..فهذا برأيي ذروة الكفر..

لاتلام الديكتاتوريات اذا لم تكن لها فلسفة ولا فلاسفة يعتد بهم وبفكرهم .. فالثيران لاضروع لها لتنتج الحليب ..ولا أتوقع أن تنتج الديكتاتوريات فلسفة ذات أثر .. لكن لايغفر للثورات فقرها بالفلسفة وغياب الفلاسفة والمفكرين عنها وهم الذين يضيؤون ويتوهجون بالأفكار .. والثورات العظيمة يوقدها عظماء وتضيئها عقول كالشهب وتتكئ على قامات كبيرة ترسم بالنور زمنا قادما بالقرون .. وغياب هؤلاء يسبب تحول أي ثورة الى مجرد تمرد أهوج وانفعال بلا نتيجة سوى الدمار الذاتي..

الثورات الشعبية عادة هي انعكاسات لصراعات اجتماعية عميقة .. وسلوك الثورات انعكاس لفلسفة بعينها تغذيها .. فلكل ثورة صراعها وفلسفتها وقاماتها .. وبالتالي لها أبطالها على الأرض وفلاسفتها .. وغياب الفكر والفلسفة يجعل الثورة تمردا ليس الا ولا تحمل الا صفات الانفعال الشعبي والغوغائي .. فالثورة الفرنسية كانت رغم عنفها وجنونها ثرية بالفلاسفة والمفكرين الذين صنعوا من فعل الثورة حدثا مفصليا في التاريخ عندما تحولت هذه الثورة الى وسيلة صراع اجتماعي مسلحة بالفكر الثرّ وبالمنطق الذي لايزال يجري في عروق قيم الحضارة الانسانية .. كان الدم يسيل في طرقات باريس ومن مقاصلها ومن جدران الباستيل لكن كذلك كانت المصطلحات الثورية والمفاهيم الكبرى الفرنسية الصنع والصياغة عن المساواة والحرية تطل من الشرفات وتضيء مع شموع المقاهي .. وتفوح كالعطر من مكتبات الثورة ومؤلفاتها.. فكدنا نرى مفكرين وفلاسفة وكتبا أكثر من أعداد الغوغاء التي اجتاحت باريس ..فلاسفة الثورة الفرنسية ومفكروها كانوا أكثر عددا من الثوار الذين زحموا الطرقات ..

وكذلك كانت ثورة البلاشفة في روسيا فبرغم أن من قام بها كانوا على درجة كبيرة من الأمّية (الذين أطلق عليهم البروليتاريا) فانها اعتمدت على فلسفة عملاقة هي الماركسية والماركسية اللينينية وكل متخماتها من جدلية هيغل ومادية فيورباخ ..ويروي المؤرخون حادثة تدل على أن من قام بالثورة البلشفية لم يكن يعرف ماتقول فلسفة الثورة لكنه كان منجذبا الى حد الانبهار بفلاسفتها وفلسفتهم دون أن يفقه منها شيئا لكن مفكري الثورة كانوا يعرفون عن البروليتاريا كل شيء .. فقد كان لينين الساحر المفوّه يخطب في حشد من الناس ويبشرهم بأن البروليتارية ستقوم ببناء القاعدة المادية الفولاذية للثورة ..وهنا اندفع احد المتحمسين من المحتشدين وصاح بتأثر وحماس: أيها الرفيق لينين ..انني حدّاد وأنا سأضع كل امكانياتي وخبرتي في صناعة الحديد في بناء هذه القاعدة الفولاذية .. بالطبع ماقصده لينين كان غير “المصطبة الحديدية” التي قصدها الحداد ..

[… EDITED]

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February 19th, 2012, 3:46 pm

 

91. Syria no Kandahar said:

Syrian bloodsuckers terrorists mafia achieve another victory,terminating a baker!

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February 19th, 2012, 3:50 pm

 

92. sheila said:

Dear Observer,
What can I say but brilliant. I agree 100% with everything you wrote. I am thankful that there are people like you around and proud that you are Syrian like me.

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February 19th, 2012, 3:59 pm

 

93. sheila said:

Dear Majed,
I am proud of Damascus too.

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February 19th, 2012, 4:05 pm

 

94. Mina said:

Alan,
I agree, SC without Jad is not SC. If he copied some articles from pro-regime websites once in a while (including some that would claim of readings things in le Figaro that were not there, just like the O. Roy interview on Syrian tv), at least it contributes to the debate and to researching the elements available for the audience.

[NOTE from SC Moderation: please see this link re bans ]

Here is a picture of the “revolutionaries” in Cairo protesting at the Syrian embassy. Note who is demonstrating… Hope OTW has started growing a beard.
http://www.egyptindependent.com/node/668246

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February 19th, 2012, 4:09 pm

 

95. mjabali said:

Alan# 53

I second your call: This site lost a lot by banning Jad.

[NOTE from SC Moderation: please see this link re bans ]

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February 19th, 2012, 4:50 pm

 

96. newfolder said:

Syrian state tv reporter defects, tells of regime lies and propaganda. Big blow to its credibility.

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February 19th, 2012, 5:09 pm

 

97. Tara said:

Moderator, Alex, and Josh

Why was Jad sent a note of apology? Was a note of apology sent to Aboud for being banned? Or apology only offered to pro regime? We are owed an explanation.

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February 19th, 2012, 5:13 pm

 

98. Alan said:

http://www.memritv.org/clip/en/0/0/0/0/0/0/3304.htm
Former Russian Gen.: Russia Is ‘Defending the Entire World From Fascism,’ Is Ready to Use Military Power to Defend Iran, Syria
http://www.theblaze.com

Former member of Russian Joint Chiefs of Staff Colonel-General Leonid Ivashov appeared on Russia Today TV to boldly announce that Russia is “defending the entire world from Fascism” — waged, of course, by the U.S. and Israel — and that his country is ready to use military force to defend Iran and Syria from its aggressors. He added that an attack on Syria or Iran would be an indirect attack on Russia. The retired colonel also compared U.S. presence in Libya to Hitler and his armies’ aggression against Poland and later, Russia.

The Following are excerpts from an interview with Ivashov on RT February 1, 2012. Translations provided by the ever-vigilant staff at MEMRI:

Interviewer: “Dr. Leonid, do you think that these preparations and very large maneuvers, which will soon be conducted by Russia, are meant as preparation for war, or rather, a military strike against Iran?” […]

Leonid Ivashov: “These maneuvers and training will demonstrate Russia’s readiness to use military power to defend its national interests and to bolster its political position. The maneuvers show that Russia does not want any military operations to be waged against Iran or Syria. I assume that the people in the West and in Israel who design the schemes for a large geopolitical operation in the greater Middle East region draw a direct connection between the situation in Syria and in Iran. Indeed, these two countries are allies, and both are considered guaranteed partners of Russia. The only question, therefore, is who they will try to destroy first as a stable country: Syria or Iran. […]

“A strike against Syria or Iran is an indirect strike against Russia and its interests. Russia would lose important positions and allies in the Arab world. Therefore, by defending Syria, Russia is defending its own interests.

“In addition, Russia is thus defending the entire world from Fascism. Everybody should acknowledge that Fascism is making strides on our planet. What they did in Libya is nearly identical to what Hitler and his armies did against Poland and then Russia. Today, therefore, Russia is defending the entire world from Fascism.”

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February 19th, 2012, 5:14 pm

 

99. zoo said:

Children are paying the price of a fractured Yemen
Hugh Naylor
Feb 20, 2012
http://www.thenational.ae/news/world/middle-east/children-are-paying-the-price-of-a-fractured-yemen
Faced with soaring food prices and rampant unemployment, families take their children out of school and put them to work as street hawkers.
Yemen is wracked by rebellions, tribal divisions, graft and the effort to recover from a year-long uprising against its president, and aid agencies say it is the children who are suffering the most in a country overflowing with the young.

SANAA // Like the scores of other children washing windshields or peddling bottled water in these congested streets, Yasmin Hajiri beams with enthusiasm when asked what she wants to be when she grows up.

“A doctor!” the 10-year-old exclaims amid a din of honking car horns and shouting people.

But when the subject turns to the classroom, Yasmin frowns.

Her mother yanked her out of school three months ago to help the family scratch out a living, hawking tissue paper. water and chewing gum on the Safia intersection in Sanaa, the capital of one of the poorest countries in the Arab world.
{…}

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February 19th, 2012, 5:23 pm

 

100. Norman said:

Majed,
Thank you,

Sheila,

I like the talk, ,,,, Now can you walk the walk and push the SNC to object to article 3 in the constitution, !!!!.? I doubt it,

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February 19th, 2012, 5:24 pm

 

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