Tuesday, May 24, 2005

Syria Arrests Many and Stops Cooperating with US

The Syrian government has begun what seems a sweeping crack down on civil society leaders and opposition members. This is coordinated with cutting off CIA and intelligence cooperation with the United States.

It comes at the time of the UN announcement that the United Nations team has verified the pullout of all Syrian troops and (as far as anyone can tell) intelligence officials from Lebanon. Secretary General Kofi Annan announced Monday, "We have verified all the withdrawal, including the border area," he told reporters.

At dawn this morning, the Syrian authorities, represented by the Political Security Apparatus headed by Mohammad Mansoora, arrested the Board of Directors of the Jamal Atassi Muntada (Forum). Early reports are that the people arrested were: Mrs. Souhair al-Atassi, Dr. Hazem Nahar, Mrs. Nahed Badouiah, Mr. Hussein Al-Oueidat, Mr. Youssef al-Jahmani, Mr. Jihad Masooti, Mr. Abdul Nasir Kahlous, and Mr. Mohammad Mahfoud.

On May 22, Mohammad Mansoora's security people raided the office the Arab Human Rights Organization and arrested its leader Mr. Mohammad Ra'adoun.

DOUGLAS JEHL and THOM SHANKER of the NYTimes report that "Syria Has Stopped Cooperating With U.S. Forces and C.I.A. Published: May 24, 2005

WASHINGTON, May 23 - Syria has halted military and intelligence cooperation with the United States, its ambassador to Washington said in an interview, in a sign of growing strains between the two nations over the insurgency in Iraq.

The ambassador, Imad Moustapha, said in the interview on Friday at the Syrian Embassy here that his country had, in the last 10 days, "severed all links" with the United States military and Central Intelligence Agency because of what he called unjust American allegations. The Bush administration has complained bitterly that Syria is not doing enough to halt the flow of men and money to the insurgency in Iraq.

Mr. Moustapha said he believed that the Bush administration had decided "to escalate the situation with Syria" despite steps the Syrians have taken against the insurgents in Iraq, and despite the withdrawal in recent weeks of Syrian troops from Lebanon, in response to international demands.

He said American complaints had been renewed since February, when a half-brother of Saddam Hussein, who was once the widely feared head of Iraq's two most powerful security agencies, was handed over to the Iraqi authorities after being captured in Syria along with several lieutenants. The renewal of complaints caused Syria to abandon the idea of providing further help, he said.

"We thought, why should we continue to cooperate?" he said.

Bush administration officials said Syria's stance has prompted intense debate at high levels in the administration about new steps that might be taken against the Syrian government. The officials said the options included possible military, diplomatic or economic action. But senior Pentagon and military officials cautioned Monday that if any military action was eventually ordered, it was likely to be limited to insurgent movements along the border.

"There's a lot of discussion about what to do about Syria and what a problem it is," said the administration official, who works for a government agency that has been involved in the debate.

Relations between Syria and the United States have been souring for months, and some Bush administration officials said Syria's level of cooperation had been dwindling even before the latest move.

Lawrence Di Rita, the Pentagon spokesman, said there have been occasional low-level military-to-military communications along the border. He said the Defense Department had received no official notification of a change in that status, nor that the status of American military attachés in Damascus had been altered.

The American officials declined to provide an on-the-record response to Mr. Moustapha's statements on halting intelligence cooperation, citing the delicacy of the issue.

American intelligence officials have said Syria has provided important assistance in the campaign against Al Qaeda since the Sept. 11 attacks. In recent months, senior Pentagon officials and military officers say, cooperation between the two nations has included low-level communications across the border between captains and field-grade officers of the American-led alliance and their Syrian counterparts.

One senior military officer said those communications had been helpful in mitigating a number of "cross-border firings" of artillery that have occurred between Syrian forces and the American-led military in Iraq. Any further scaling back of cooperation there or between Syria and the C.I.A. could have a tangible impact, officials said.

American military officers in Baghdad and intelligence analysts in Washington say militant cells inside Iraq draw on "unlimited money" from an underground financial network run by former Baath Party leaders and relatives of Mr. Hussein, many of whom they say found safe haven to live and operate in Syria.

Those officials say Damascus has done very little in its banking system to stop the financing, nor has it seized former Iraqi Baathists identified by the United States as organizing and financing the insurgency.

In presenting Syria's case, Mr. Moustapha said his government had done all it could to respond to American complaints, including taking steps to build barriers and add to border patrols.

He declined to comment on any role Syria might have played in the capture of Mr. Hussein's half-brother, Sabawi Ibrahim al-Hassan al-Tikriti, No. 36 on the American list of 55 most-wanted Iraqis. But the ambassador said Syria had jailed some 1,200 foreign fighters who sought to enter Iraq from Syria, and had returned scores of others to their home countries.

On the day of the interview with Mr. Moustapha, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said Syria was "allowing its territory to be used to organize terrorist attacks against innocent Iraqis."

A senior American military officer acknowledged that "the Syrian government has in some cases been helpful" in building border berms and otherwise taking action against people involved in providing support to the insurgency. But the officer added: "Our sense is that they protest a bit too much and that they are capable of doing more. We expect them to do more."
----

Comment: Embassy officials in Damascus have been repeating for some time their key phrase: "Pressure works."

Clearly Bashar has taken the decision that he must attempt to stop that montra which has become dangerous. He may believe that with the withdrawal from Lebanon, Europe will no longer side with Washington on ratcheting up the pressure. America has few good options now for raising the heat.

The Baath Party Congress will probably be a let down. Bashar has been telling people for some time "not to expect too much" from it and that people should lower their expectations. The crack-down would seem to suggest that he is neither planning surprises nor expecting that anything done at the conference will relieve US pressure.

He may believe that the reduction of car import tariffs has "drugged" the people, as some are saying.

Opposition members were trying to organize. The Atassi group recently held a meeting at which different parties read out their agendas. Someone even read the program and demands of the Muslim Brotherhood, based in London, and was promptly arrested, causing the group to become scared. A week ago, Sabine Lubbe Bakker, a Dutch graduate student, wrote a report on the meeting, which she had attended. Initially she wanted me to publish it, but quickly changed her mind and asked me not to because members of the Atassi group were frightened and wanted to keep a low profile.

Many opposition members and reformers have been calling for a broad front to be created, which would include the Muslim Brotherhood. This is clearly not permissible and has spooked the government. So long as individuals complain, there is no threat. If they begin to organize, as they have been tentatively doing, there is a threat.

See the article By Azme Bashara in al-Ahram, which suggested that relations between the US and Syria were headed down hill. It is an interesting read and may well have had an influence on decision making here, although, the present crackdown would seem to have already been in the works.

24 Comments:

At 5/24/2005 12:16:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

For once the syrian government has made the right decision. After endless double standard application and accusation by the US toward the syrian regime it was time to take such a drastic measure. If the US thinks military actions can change anything they have another thing coming...unless they bring in forces from elsewhere they cannot possibly imagine to create any damage. Nevermind the American public already sick from the Iraq War and the Europeans not willing to co-operate I think this is a good move which is a lesson to the Americans. Stop whining and accept the help you're getting. Anything is better than nothing...and it defenitely was more than just "anything."

 
At 5/24/2005 12:47:00 PM, Anonymous kingcrane said...

The neo-cons in power were dealing with Syria the way Israel is dealing with Palestinians: the Palestinians concede their rights one after the other and the Israelis keep making empty promises. Syria is doing the right thing. Reform in Syria will only happen at the pace the besieged authorities will deem acceptable, and this is a shame.
PS: The Azmi Beshara article is excellent.

 
At 5/24/2005 02:08:00 PM, Blogger Catherine said...

So incredibly stupid!
They are so afraid, so they are keeping iron fist..Not letting anyone independent even exist..And they expect people to be glad and thankful(!!) when lowering taxes (lowering money stolen to privare pockets), and since they DARED to say no to Usa now..They will be more loved and people are more thankful than usual and no one will think about who got arrested for thinking about oppressed rights..and the best of this place. Well Saddam said no to usa too, and cracked down on people like those in muntada al atassi too..
U see how prepared Iraq was for what happend? see the moral of people now after ages of no moral in the country? ahh!! Even if the exact same scenario won't happen here..It is still a road down down hill!! A country where all want to leave for Europe, or they live in absolut poverty, "takhalof" and darkness very easy to brainwash and become fanatic sectarian monsters or horrible mukhabarat or both..
But hey..at least they said no to usa, how proud we are!

 
At 5/24/2005 03:31:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Catherine, you speak for yourself when you say "How proud we are." I believe your route would be to kiss more US ass considering the current situation doesnt allow for regime change (at least not immediate) so your proposal yields absolute zero.

I dont see what you expect nor how you expect it to come about. Extreme events will not occur withoug big costs...and then you can be PROUD. Another American/Zionist tool :D.

 
At 5/24/2005 03:31:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Catherine, you speak for yourself when you say "How proud we are." I believe your route would be to kiss more US ass considering the current situation doesnt allow for regime change (at least not immediate) so your proposal yields absolute zero.

I dont see what you expect nor how you expect it to come about. Extreme events will not occur withoug big costs...and then you can be PROUD. Another American/Zionist tool :D.

 
At 5/24/2005 05:33:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

This regime has not the right to give to the syrian people lessons of patriotism.Without an american good will this regime was not able to survive for so long.

 
At 5/24/2005 05:39:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Is this how the regime is planning to improve the economy and replace the billions they tend to lose from Lebanon? So much for reforms. The US pressure will escalate soon with additional economic sanctions which unfortunately will hurt the average and poor people in the country. Although it might be noble to say no the US but not for a country with so few economic options. The regime better hope that the EU will not be pressured by the US to join in with sanctions or it will be another miscalculation on this regime's part.

 
At 5/25/2005 12:25:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

would anonymous 3:31 pm pleaseexplain how the american/zionists are responsible for syrian securty forces arrests of forum members and human rights group? I need help understanding why this isnot spoken about... were these people wroking for the CIA neo-cons or israelis?
or working on behalf of a better future for syria

 
At 5/25/2005 12:25:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

would anonymous 3:31 pm pleaseexplain how the american/zionists are responsible for syrian securty forces arrests of forum members and human rights group? I need help understanding why this isnot spoken about... were these people wroking for the CIA neo-cons or israelis?
or working on behalf of a better future for syria

 
At 5/25/2005 09:48:00 AM, Anonymous kingcrane said...

Josh,
This is siege mentality from the Syrian authorities again... But who can blame Bashar Assad when MANY concessions to the neo-cons earned him nothing while, in contrast, some BS elections by the House of Saud earn rave compliments from Dubya. My feeling is that there is a bigger enemy to democracy in Syria than the Ba'ath Party: the foreign policies of the neo-con dominated US administration; they make the simple citizen in Syria look like "in bed" with Western interests.
PS: Dubya is showing that Jean de La Fontaine's "selon que vous soyez petit ou grand, jugement de cour vous rendra noir ou blanc" is indeed the (non)moral conclusion.

 
At 5/25/2005 12:39:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

To double-poster at 12:25am, the post was not intended to defend the action of rounding up the "reformists."

What it was meant to do was merely imply that kissing up to the US is not a desirable solution -Syria does not need to import democracy with the help of the Americans (we've seen how that works out in vietnam, iran, iraq, etc...)

Hence your post is irrelevant...just as your existence.

 
At 5/27/2005 06:56:00 AM, Anonymous Aussama said...

Stopping military and intelligence cooperation with the US! is an Excellent right step by Syria.. The US and it's cronies are acting as a gready nieghbourhood hudlum who understands nothing but a bit of his own medicin.Apart from all the propaganda it disperses, the US realises -or should realise- that Syria is definitly not Iraq or Afghanistan.It also knows well-and its cronies should know- that Syrians have lived under US, Israeli, and at times European and "brotherly" Arab pressure for years and have stoodfast.Not because the regiem is supressive (it is definitly not as supressive as other Arab regimes such as in Tunisia, Saudi, Qatar, Jordan or the Greater Jamaherya!), but because the Syrian regiem and the Syrian people love thier country; know and accept thier pan-arab national responsibility; and do not accept to lower thier heads as others are doing now. Israel has not seriously attacked -and whipped out- Syria in 30 years not out of kindness but because it knows the price it has to pay. Maybe it should pass on such usefull information to the US. Moreover, if the the US after 2 years and $250 Billion and thousands of lives lost is still incapable of supressing Iraqi resistance (which hated the crazy regime of Saddam) does it expect to fare better against Syria where we do not hate Assad.Maybe Syria -as a reminder- should consider shooting down another 2 US fighters as it did years ago over Lebanon to remind the US of what Syria is capable of doing when pushed too far (just a joke and a reminder to some). Maybe it also should challange the US to put up or shut up, as Hassan Nassrlah yesterday invited anyone who wants to disarm Hizbullah to come over and make an attempt. Syria is a hard nut to crack, and whatever mighty power thinks it can really break Syria, it would have done it long ago. Sorry for this angry talk, but it seems that the US takes "compromise" for "submission" forgetting that Syrians are not really famous for being submissive in the face of pressure.Anyway, I believe we should wait untill the US succeeds in finishing up the made up "Zarqawi" problem, catch Osama Bin Laden, before we can expect to see the USS New Jersy looming back -after an abscence of twenty years-on the Lebanese or Syrian shorline. Come on gentelmen; the US is not really the all powerfull God as some of our "enlightened eliets" are suggesting, nor is Syria (regiem, people, army and influence) as week and helpless as they keep trying to remind us. If this was the case, the US or Israel would have eaten Syria alive years ago; september 11 or not.Finally, I belive that the US should spend more time trying to democratise Saudi Arabia -at least allow women to drive let alone vote-, or try to find a face saving way of rescuing Israel out of Gaza and eventually the West Bank, free some of the forgotten political prisoners in Saudi, Qatar and Tunisia and Morroco, before tackling a seriously loosing case of "attacking and breaking" Syria and Hizbullah. sometimes I wounder how Israel would really react if its US friends start seriously thinking about attacking Syria, especiall with the prospect of the unleashing of the Syrian fire power aimed at Israel if the US makes such a military all out plunder? It would be a fantastic senario to examine by those of us who are so afraid of the US. A scenario which is studied by the Israelies times over and that is why they keep the utelization of thier superior military power limited to Publicity moves such as over flights over here and there similar to Hizbullah's Mirsad-1 over the all almigthy Israel. Guy's, the US rethoric is a mere B.S. i believe. the US is as cornered by its failing policy as it can be. The best would be to for the US to find softer targets and make amends. It can after all claim some success by saying it's pressure has forced the regiem in Syria to open up a little, which I seriously believe is the intention of President Bashar and the direction in which the country is heading, maybe slowly but steadly. Again Syria is Syria, not Iraq or Afghanistan, so US planners -if the term applies to those neocons- and thier local cheerleaders should be realistic and carefull.The US does not always get what the US things it likes to achieve..the fall of the Soviet Union and September 11, and the so called global war-on-terror, not withstanding !

 
At 5/27/2005 12:35:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Aussama,

What the hell are you talking about? Syria's firepower, an ill equipped and poorly trained military. Have you forgetten the 50 or so planes downed by the Isralies over Lebanon in a couple of days of battle. What happened to Syria in 1967 and again in 1973 with Egypt on the other front. The only reason the Isralies will not wipe out Syria is because the US won't let them. Buddy Hafez was a shrewed politician that knew how to play the game i.e supported the US in the gulf war in exchange for Lebanon. Bashar and his thugs have made so many mistakes and this will be one of them. If he is not afraid of the US Why did he then leave Lebanon with all the money that his regime was making there. Remember his statement " I am not Saddam and I am willing to cooperate". It is one thing to be patriotic about your country but it is another to be realistic.

 
At 5/27/2005 08:00:00 PM, Anonymous Aussama said...

To Anonymous at 12:35

That is exactly why you will never understand what the Syria "thing" is all about my friend. Syria is realistic and patriotic at the same time but not to the extent that such realisim generats the degree of fear that leads it to underestimate its strength and bow to it's enemies. What is getting the Israelies out of Gaza and the west bank are the stuborness, sacrificies and patriorism, being the compononts of the ability of the Palestinians to be "unrealistic" in the sense you imply. And to set the record straight, Israel downed 80 Syrian plans over Lebanon in less than 24 hours (not 50 plans in two days). What matters is that Syria did send those plans in, and continued sending them up in the air despite the fact that they were being shot down. It is called "will", "determination" and "national pride" my friend.And it is something the Vietnamese, the Palestinians,Hizballah, and the Frensh resistance in the second world war, and Bishara Al Khouri -to name a few- understood only too well. And it does pay as history shows. Kissing Ass to the US under the pretext of being realistic, or really believing that the US is protecting Syria from Israel nowadays is misleading thought. The US knows that the only thing standing in its way in the middle east now is Syria and what Syria represent and who Syria is associated with. It is the will of the Syrians that they are hysterically trying to break. Not the " ill equipped and poorly trained military" of the Syrian Army or Air Force. Do not make the mistake Israel made in 1973 thinking the Arabs would never dare to attack with thier " ill equipped and poorly trained military" only to wake finding the Syrian soldiers near the shores of Tibris and with the Egyptians over the Suez canal shattering forever the myth of Israel superiority.Yes, both lost that battle ( remembering that loosing battles is not shameful, but runing away from them when they are upon you is, as with siding with the enemy against your brother!!!). But did you ask yourself why did the Syrians go on?.... why did they not act "realistically" and surrender to the "facts of life"? Hell, they would have gotten a far more warm and juicy welcome from the Americans and Israelies than good ol' Sadat recieved. Why had they stuck to their guns, stubborness and slogans? Why have they -for example- not sat down under the barrels of Israeli guns, convened their parliment, signed a truce, and elected the realistic one who signed it President of the "realistic" Syria (rings a bell buddy?).Not to say that Syria's actions are faultless but ,come on guys, nations are built at a cost. The cost is usually measured in sacrefices not in terms of how realistic or opportunistic they act be it by selling themselves as whores to the highest bidder or be it by riding the most recent seemingly benificial wave.Look around my friend and learn. Realisem is a nice word when used in the proper context. But when used to justify dodging paying the cost of a nation's dignity, it becoms synomymous with the justification of the actions of thieves, pimps and weaklings who think they are smart enough to have an easy life by cheating others.Anyway, some Nations -same as some people- have a price, others do not.
As to the over simplistic explanation that Syria joined the first war against Iraq because the reward for such a participation was Lebanon, I really think this line of thought leads to the usual overstatement of the place and value of Lebanon. My God, it seems every one wants this Lebanon as you see it. The Syrians, the Palestinians, the God-knows-who,(but definitly not the Israelies in your book!. No my friend! Lebanon is yours and no body wants it, at least not Syria nor the Palestinians).FYI, Syria joined that war for many other reasons, the most prominant of which is that Saddam pushed everyone into joining that war against him by invading Kuwait, and maybe because Saddam's (who was General Aoun's provider at the time)was historically a menance to Syria for many years; but definitly, Syria did not join that war to reap the reward of "aquiring the gem of the middle east". If we sum up the reasons of Syria's joining the coalition to liberate Kuwait can be summed up in an exchange made between Syria and the US regarding Lebanon, then I well advise our Lebanese brothers to be carefull of the next time the US decides to exchange Lebanon with someone else for something else it wants. Meanwhile, sleep peacefully, believe in the so-called Beirut Spring with its new American dawn rising from Oukar my friend, and keep thinking about "all the money that the Syrian regime was making out of Lebanon", and raise your hat to the poor, inocent and honest Lebanese politicians who "perfected" the art of real stealing. Sleep well and do not let the question of why everyone loves Lebanon now all of a sudden trouble you (of course it is Syria they are after not the beautifull eyes of the Lebanese people. Do not let the fact that to them Lebanon is the means to something else beyound your current apprehention. Do not let the newly dug up confessional statistics trouble you. And do not let the ugly thoughts of being a pawn in a bigger game dent your sweet dreams of returning to the " good old days" at whatever cost, even at the cost of sleeping with the enemy. But,ooh, talking about all this money the Syrians milked out of puritanical lebanon, I forgot; was not Hariri "the martyre" accused of stealing all of Lebanon by those who call themselves the "patriotic opposition"??? You are getting us all confused. Nevermind; do not worry, that file will be brought up soon by those well-intentioned freedom fighters who shedd tears at his grave and led the demonstrations in celebration of Syria's withdrawl from Lebanon, but who forget yesterday to celebrate the
occasion of the Israeli withdrawl from Lebanon.
Oh my Lebanese friends; what a pitty. Have you really believed the B.S. you tell yourself or who are you trying to fool. "The Enemy From Within" ? is that a movie or a book title or what? In any case, find out and read it. It may do you some good although I doubt it.. not to say that we can wait for some to change thier shirts again.. As they say, it's a small nieghbourhood and we know each other only too well.... And just remeber that there are some geographic facts, political facts, social facts, economic facts, moral facts and historical facts (and needs) that no one in Lebanon can jump over in his search for reversing history "despite" the current mirage of the pax-americana that blures some eyes in Lebanon nowadays. Some never learn, I regret to say......

 
At 5/28/2005 08:49:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Some never learn, I regret to say......

How true! And you Aussama are at the very top of that list.

BTW how may generations and (other people's) lives are you willing to sacrifice to show your iron will?

 
At 5/28/2005 11:34:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Aussama,

I hate to admit it and I don't WANT to admit it, but there is some truth to the points you are making here, though I disagree with some fo the details. Having said that, I do have some points to make:

Unfortunately, we do not live in an ideal world where principles and morals reign supreme. Rather, we live in a world where the rules of the jungle reign, with competing interests and a lop-sided logic of truth. In this world, we are small fish, and this is where realism must come in. It's a matter of balancing the principles with the reality. In addition, you are preaching at such a high level and with so much theory that you lose sight of the reality of the lives of millions of people.

It's easy and, perhaps, true that there is a cost to building a nation and maintaining national dignity. I would agree with that to a great extent. And, I would agree with you that the Syrian people, for the most part, are (or more accurately: would have been) willing to pay that price. However, the truth has been that the government and the Syrian regime over the past 30 years has killed that "patriotic" sense in Syrians, has sewn the seeds of internal conflict and, themselves (not outsiders), broken the will and immunity of Syrians. Further, with their failed strategies and bankrupt policies, our government has gone about freedom, independence and steadfastness completely the wrong way. Rather than invest in the Syrian people, in their education, in their development, in their prosperity, they have deprived them of their dignity, wiped out their middle class, and reduced them to poor, uneducated, apathetic, cynical, broken masses competing for only one thing: for visas to emigrate anywhere oustide of Syria. Unfortunately, most of our inherently-political and innately-patriotic population today, cares less about Syria, its politics and economy and more about improving their lots, at whatever cost. This is not the profile of a resilient people who are willing to pay the price of digntiy and nation-building. Quite the opposite, instead of 'nation-building', the government we've been cursed with (not our enemies) has been the one to destroy our nation. It is our government, not our enemies, who took a vibrant, energetic, industrious population of traders and business people, and nationalized their businesses and restricted their activity and stopped what was in the 50's a great march toward development in its tracks. It was our 'patriotic' government, not our enemies who took a proud and whirling people active and interested in their country and their politics and jailed, tortured, exited and killed them into apathy, indifference and submission.

If we are to arrive at the right solution, we'd best be honest and identify our problem. Yes, we have external threats that we should all confront. But, the way to do that is by building a strong society that can live in dignity within Syria first.

I don't disagree with what you're saying that a society must fight for its freedom, indpendence and digntiy. But, before I fight the outisders for that, I have to turn inward, unfortunately. Of course, I'm using the word 'fight' figuratively here....

 
At 5/28/2005 02:25:00 PM, Anonymous Aussama said...

To anonymous 11:34 PM

I honesty appreciate your balanced and reasoning tone. I really do. At other times I may find it easy to agree -or disagree- with many of your remarks. But this is exactly the whole point; "at other times". But now, when a lot of people are shharpening thier knives to cut out counry into pieces. At times like this when the enemy and his agents - and those who volanteer to be his agents- are jealously, vehemently and murderously disecting my country day in and day out, the road is clear to me: I stand with my country, I stand with Bashar, I stand with the Baath although I am not a Baathiest. I do not accept to allow them to use me as a cat's bow against my people.Even if I could muster the naievity/studity of believing that the US is really coming to offer us freedom and democracy and transparency and what have you at the price of sepearating us from our "regiem", I still would not take it. So how should I act when I know that the intentions of the US is not our "freedom", but something else?? Something very very evil. In this case I stand by my country (fully aware that injustices exist there as every where else) and recall the verse we seem to have forgotten:
بلادي و أن جارت علي عزيزة
و أهلي و إن ضنوا علي كرام

Not only this, but when I open your eyes every morning to see another new campagin directed at the so called "Syrian regiem", knowing deep inside your head that the intended target is not really the Syrian "regiem" but the "Syrian People" and "Syria", how should we feel or react other than to say NO.
Since when did all those people ever give a damn about Syria.Have they ever given a damn about the Palestinans. Or the Iraqies, or the people of southern Lebanon who were for years left at the mercy of the Israelies and the Lahd pimps while thier "brothers" and countrymen and women went bar-hopping in Jounieh and al Kasleek, or at "the worst" immigrated overseas to "escape the unbearable situation" at the Lebanese promissed land. Funny enough, we do not hear them thinking about going back to thier newly-liberated country yet( Maybe the search for money, or the fear of the spirits of the brothers they murdered drove them there, not the Syrian occupation).
To me it is very simple: some things are important, and some thing are an immediate priority. It is important to have a democratic, economically prosperous and politically free Syria. And let us not deny it. President Bashar is heading in that direction, even the Americans acknowledge that fact. But it is more important now to preserve the country in the face of those who want to destroy it. This is our Priority now.Look at how they gloat in thier editorials about how soon the "regiem" in Syria will fall. Look at their fear, prediction, or wish, as how Syria will slide into some thing like the current Iraqi abyss. No my friend! I agree with a lot of your thoughts, but this is not the time for it. Change is coming. We have an educated, humanetarian, enlightened president, I really believe so. Let us also not forget that with the internet, with the space channels, with the many new changes affecting peoples lives everywhere in the world; change is inescapable. I also believe the process would be long and difficult. But i refuse to change with an American/Israeli gun pointed at my head with a brotherly digger in my back.Because it is not the change we may want. It is rather the "submission" that they want to enforce upon us. What else would a change coming atop an American tank be ??? Or do you really have faith in intentions or the "vision" of Dubbiya'??? Any way, I am hopefull! The signs of change are already there ,but, and it will be through Syrian hands: Baathiest, Liberals, the sillent majority and the "regiem" as well.We do not have a Sadam regiem in Damascus, niether do we have officials kneeling and kissing the hand of the king on TV as in some other countries, nor do we have a country where women can not -in this day and age- drive, nor a country where a self destroying minority has to have an "equal!" 64 seats in the parliment while it constitutes less than half the population, nor a country whose head shamelessly admits to being on the payroll of the CIA. Syria, my friend is on the road forward. Pumby road; yes! but one we would travel on our own -still carying our national identity and responsibility- out of our free will.

 
At 5/28/2005 03:24:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Here is something from the article by Azme Bashara that Josh has such a high opinion of:

"The Syrian-Lebanese relationship that Al-Assad sought to alter since 2000, and which sunk into the mire of its own corruption, was more of a burden for Syria than many would like to admit. The Syrian withdrawal from Lebanon can be used to reshape Syria's understanding of its own sources of strength, both at home and abroad. If it is to happen, Syria, through a rapid withdrawal from Lebanon, will have to rid itself of a weakness not a strength, as long as, of course, it ensures that Lebanon is not transformed into a launching pad for attacks against Damascus."

Syria's "sources of strength?" The writer is obviously one of those pan-arabist idiots who think everything wrong in the Middle East is the fault of Israel and the US

 
At 5/28/2005 03:41:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Aussama said,

"my friend is on the road forward. Pumby road; yes!"

Please see Josh's posting from Wednesday. Real GDP in Syria has declined by 60% since 1975. What do you think you can do to change that? There is nothing you or the rest of the people in Syria can do to change that my friend as long as this regime is in power. The population is uneducated, unskilled and lacks the resources to compete in this global economy. And you call this forward progress.........

 
At 5/28/2005 03:42:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

It just occured to me that Bashar has the same foreign policy as his father. He has Syria do something that is contrary to US interests, like host terrorists, support Hezbollah, or make a home for the Iraqi insurgency, and then he says to the US, "If you pay me, I will stop doing it."

In other words, he is running an extortion racket. Bush has decided to not be his patsy, and Bashar is all surprised and upset. Maybe Bashar would get farther if he did the right thing in the first place.

 
At 5/28/2005 07:29:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

To the New-Con idiot who posted under Anonymous 3:42,

Though I appreciate your efforts to log on to the blog of a country whose name you can't pronounce and whose existence you weren't aware of were it not shoved down your face every 30 minutes on your national dumb-ass tabloid newscast (CNN)...judging by your comment, you clearly don't know your ass from a hole in the ground.

So, having said that, I suggest that you keep your sharp minds and deep intellect immersed in more important issues such as the Brad Pitt-Angeline Jolie affair or Britney Spears' underwear that seems to captivate your minds, and spare us your stupid-ass revelations and epiphanies...and while you're at it, shove your thoughts and opinions up your ass!

A friend in Damascus

 
At 5/29/2005 02:32:00 PM, Anonymous Friend in America said...

Several curious but interesting claims in this thread that need a replys.

First is the claim of a unified national spirit of patriotism. Is there one? Or is it just repression of political views other than those in power in the government? It just is not plausible that opposition party leaders would be arrested if everyone in Syria shared the same nationalist view that some claim in this thread.

More interesting is why is this propagandaist discourse being promoted now? It certainly helps the Iraqi baaathists in Syria that are financing the violence in Iraq, but does it help anyone else?

Next, what are America's interests in the middle east and are the claims in the current propaganda, such as in Asama's comments, accurate or just paranoia? The US has two concerns about Syria - and only two. First is not being a danger to its neighbors. The harboring of Iraqi baaathists who are directing and financing the unrest in Iraq, the harboring of cross border insurgents, the firing artillery rounds into Iraqi territory are just a few reasons for concern. There is no threat to Syria as long as Syria is not a threat to its neighbors.
The other interest is advocating the conculsions of scholars and political scientists that governments that are kinder to their own people usually are kinder to their neighbors. You would hear Syrian scholars publishing studies of this view if they were not represssed. Bickering and name calling, friends, has no place in a world that wishes for a better future.

Name calling - labeling - simply blocks intellegent understanding of public issues. It locks into place old hatreds and prejudices. Who stands to gain by furthering hatred?

Are these recent political moves by the government in Damascus an indication that the old establishment has the upper hand again? If so, it is the neo cons in Damascus that should be giving readers concern, not the"neo cons" in the US. My friends, the political events in Damascus are not even on their radar screen.

If anyone looks around, he will find many fine Syrians who wish only for the best for their country, and more important for the welfare of the peoples who live in Syria. Most do not believe the interests of the people are furthered by hatred and prejudice. But, there are some who believe people can be manupilauted with these tactics to their own benefit. Interpeting recent events with this in mind gives a clearer understanding.

 
At 5/30/2005 09:16:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Friend in America,

1. Do you KNOW that there are Iraqi Baathists IN SYRIA financing the violence in Iraq? Do you know that the financing is not coming from Saudi Arabia, Jordan or elsewhere, or are you just parroting and recycling the same, old CNN claims?

2. Who says that Syria is a "threat" to its neighbors...and since when? I am opposed to the Syrian regime and its policies so I'm not defending them necessarily. I'm just taking issue with your moralizing and judgements. Is it not true that it is the US that is a threat to Syria and others?

3. I don't take any advice or lectures from US or Europeans about hatred and prejudice. So, please, when you speak to us, keep your own historical record (and ours) in perspective. The West has written the textbook about hatred and prejudice, and I don't accept your moralizing to us when barely 40 years ago, you had blacks and whites children drinking out of different water fountains.

In the Middle East, we have serious problems that need to be addressed urgently. I appreciate your attempts at contribution, but try to shake your own stereotype and have some depth for a change. And, while you're at it, keep your record and "history" in mind; that alone should humble you.

 
At 5/31/2005 12:42:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

to a friend in Damascus 7:42, I am anonymous 3:42

Actually, I am an NPR listener.

I made a claim that Bashar is running an extortion racket. You didn't deny it, so I guess you are admitting I was right.

 

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