Monday, May 15, 2006

Michel Kilo the Patriot

Michel Kilo has been arrested - this time for more than the usual several hours. Mr Kilo’s family told news agencies that he was called in for questioning by the security services on Sunday around noon and that he had not returned 24 hours later. He has been questioned regularly in recent months but never for more than a few hours.

Ferry Beiderman of the Financial Times explains that Michel Kilo had been instrumental in a petition drive by Syrian and Lebanese intellectuals, calling for Syria to demarcate its border with Lebanon and establish embassies. The petition appeared on the eve of the introduction last Friday by the US, France and Britain of a draft resolution in the United Nations Security Council calling on Syria to respect Lebanon’s sovereignty.

Kilo was one of the most respected members of Syria's internal opposition and his arrest marks a new low for the regime in its present crackdown on dissidents and reformers. Michel Kilo had always been extremely careful to separate his opposition efforts from US backed plans to destabilize the regime. In fact, he had been so outspoken about keeping the US at arm's length that US based opposition leaders such as Farid Ghadry had gotten used to labeling Kilo a regime spy and apparatchik.

There has never been any doubt about Kilo's bonafides. In the spring of 2005, he was the star of a three part al-Arabiyya series on Syrian reform. His voice emerged out of the various panels of Syrian opposition members and reformers as the clearest and most compelling. When Mahdi Dakhlallah, the information minister, tried to silence Kilo with the charge of being disloyal and anti-Syrian, Kilo trounced him, insisting that the true nationalist is one who wants the best for his country even if it means telling painful truths. Kilo would take none of Dakhlala's nonsense and Dakhlallah had the good sense to know he was in the wrong; he fell silent. Kilo earned every Syrian's gratitude that evening.

I had the honor of appearing on al-Jazeera's "Open Dialogue" show with Michel Kilo last year. We arranged to take a cab over to Beirut and back that same evening, which gave us many hours to chat. Kilo grew up in Latakia on the coast. He studied in West Germany and didn't speak any English, which severely limited his ability to get his message out to a foreign audience. German journalists relied on him extensively, but English-speaking journalists rarely used him, which is a great loss, for he is one of Syria's most articulate and forceful analysts. He makes is living as a journalist. He wrote for as-Safir, the Lebanese independent paper for many years, but left them and began to write for an-Nahar more recently, not only because as-Safir shied away from his more forceful attacks on Syria, but also because an-Nahar paid more and was eager to give prominence to new and outspoken Syrians.

As a Latakian Christian, who came from the secular left, Kilo is particularly well placed to pressure the Asad regime where it hurts. He speaks its language of Arabism and socialism and appeals to the same Syrians who are considered most likely to be regime supporters. He passed my Mother-in-law test with flying colors. An Alawite mother of four, Um Firas has an advanced degree and fears the Moslem Brotherhood, a member of which tried to assassinate her husband in 1982. She is not easily attracted to regime opponents; nevertheless, she admired Michel Kilo and always watched him on those rare occasions when satellite TV did a special on Syria. Each time she heard him, she would praise his reasonableness and wonder why the government didn't listen to him. Unlike Bayanouni of the Muslim right or Riyad al-Turk, the fearless leader of Syria's most important communist movement, Michel Kilo calibrated his attack on the regime to appeal to the Um Firases of Syria. No one could accuse him of being an ideologue or unrealistic. He was practical and had an innate sense of what was doable. He is the kind of opposition-reformer that Syria needs many more of.

The fact that Michel Kilo was a central figure in the Damascus Declaration last year ensured its success. By endorsing the notion that secular Syrians must join up with the Muslim Brotherhood to demand change, he helped give respectability to the alliance. Like all Arabs, Syrians are painfully aware that their divisions and internal fragmentation are the source of their weakness and the foundation of authoritarianism. Not until they can agree on the basic outlines of who should rule and how they should rule will hope for change be kindled. Everyone understands that Syrians have miles to go before reaching the threshold of consensus for peaceful change. Michel Kilo, more than most Syrians, did his part in convincing Syrians that they can produce consensus and peaceful change. So long as all sides cling to civil discourse and religious tollerance, violence can be avoided.

One can only hope that Michel Kilo, a true patriot, will be free soon.


At 5/15/2006 10:03:00 PM, Blogger norman said...

I think he will be out soon.

At 5/15/2006 11:07:00 PM, Blogger yaman said...

Best wishes to Michel Kilo, the dozens of other prisoners of conscience in Syria, and their families.

At 5/16/2006 12:02:00 AM, Blogger Alex said...

Best luck to Michel Kilo. I just read some pathetic comments from "readers" at champress making fun of Kilo ... how silly.

Josh, do you think this will be a one week lecture for Michel, or is it going to end up in another trial?

At 5/16/2006 12:10:00 AM, Blogger Vox Populi - Agent Provocateur said...

My best wishes to him.

At 5/16/2006 04:02:00 AM, Blogger annie said...

Hope you are right very soon, Norman

At 5/16/2006 09:25:00 AM, Blogger sisco-side said...

It sounds and seems that Josh only comes to the defense of Christian dissidents. Otherwise, he defends Assad.

At 5/16/2006 09:45:00 AM, Blogger Innocent_Criminal said...

Sisco- it sounds and seems like you're an idiot.

At 5/16/2006 10:10:00 AM, Blogger t_desco said...

Syrian journalist sent to civil court

DAMASCUS, Syria, May 16 (UPI) -- A Syrian journalist and political activist arrested two days ago will be referred to a civil court for trial although no charges have been disclosed.

The head of the National Organization for Human Rights in Syria, Ammar Kurbi, told United Press International Tuesday that Michel Kilo has been referred to a civil court, not a military tribunal. Kilo was detained by the security service on Sunday.

"Kilo's papers were relayed to the Palace of Justice and he will be interrogated Wednesday," Kurbi said, expecting that Kilo will be moved to a regular prison after being held for two days in the detention center of one of the security agencies.

Kurbi said Kilo was apparently detained for signing a document last week calling for the rectification of Lebanese-Syrian relations. The document was signed by 500 Lebanese and Syrian intellectuals.

London-based Syrian opposition figure Muhieddine Ladiki said Kilo was probably arrested over an article in which he hinted to a simmering sectarian conflict which the regime in Damascus is trying to conceal.

Ladiki, secretary-general of the Syrian Democratic Movement, said "Kilo's latest article disclosed interactions inside the Syrian society in a rare blunt and direct way and sounded the alarm about ignoring this conflict which the Syrian authorities consider a red line which no one should talk about."

He also deplored that the opposition at home is being grouped according to sectarian criteria, with the exception of the Damascus Declaration parties who belong to various sects.

Any idea what this transfer to a civilian court means? Of course I also hope that he will be released soon.

In other news:

(Former Military Intelligence chief Aharon) Ze'evi also warned that Israel should not rule out the possibility of a conventional war against Islamic militants. He said he foresees this war breaking out on Israel's northern frontier, against Syria and Hezbollah.

At 5/16/2006 10:36:00 AM, Blogger Atassi said...

Assad & company keep miscalculating the outcome of their action, they insist on NOT getting anything right; Arresting Mr, Kilo is an appalling and brainless mistake. You keep on telling us that Bashar need's time to reform and push Syrian to the right side. I am sure Assad will disappoint you very soon. The regime has let down so many enthusiastic figures in the past, you are not an exception!!

At 5/16/2006 12:49:00 PM, Blogger syrianb said...

This post has been removed by a blog administrator.

At 5/16/2006 12:52:00 PM, Blogger syrianb said...

Dr Landis,all those disappeared who are still languishing or killed in asadist torture rooms and the more lucky prisoners of conscience with known fate are all patriots,the traitors and the enemies of the syrian people are this"asad" family and its dirty mafia of killers,thieves and rapists that ruined Syria.

At 5/16/2006 01:27:00 PM, Blogger syrianb said...

This post has been removed by a blog administrator.

At 5/16/2006 01:30:00 PM, Blogger syrianb said...

Here is the well written article from Michel Kilo ,mentioned in the article of the UPI posted by desco.

نعوات سورية!

تلفت نظري في اللاذقية، مدينة آبائي وأجدادي، أوراق النعي، التي تنتشر بكثافة علي حيطان البلد ، كما يسميها أبناؤها. وفي حين تكون أوراق النعي المدينية مرتبة ومطبوعة وفق نموذج محدد، تتسم أوراق نعي الريفيين بعدم الترتيب، وبكثير من الفوضي في توزيع مكوناتها وفي نوع حروف الطباعة الخشنة المستعملة فيها، والورق الأقرب إلي الأصفر الذي تطبع عليه.
غير أن ظاهرة مهمة لطالما لفتت نظري وأنا اخترق شوارع مدينتي، هي أن أبناء الريف يكونون في أغلب الأحيان من العسكريين، بينما تربط أبناء المدينة علاقة بعيدة وواهية بالجيش، حتي ليندر أن تلمس وجود عسكري ما في أوراق النعي الخاصة بهم، بينما تكاد أوراق النعي الريفية تخلو، من جانبها، من وجود أي مدني، إلا في ما يتصل في الحالتين بالمسنين، الذين كان عمرهم يوم الثامن من آذار/مارس ثلاثين أو أربعين عاما، فلم ينخرطوا في سلك العسكر!
ومع أن كلتا ورقتي النعي تبدأ بالآية الكريمة، التي تتحدث عن النفس المطمئنة العائدة إلي ربها راضية مرضية، فأنهما تفترقان في كل شيء بعد المقدمة، ليعكس افتراقهما افتراق ظروف واقع وحياة أبناء الريف، الذين يعيش معظمهم علي ريع السلطة وخاصة العسكري منه، وواقع أبناء المدينة، الذين هم غالبا أصحاب حرف أو أعمال حرة أو موظفون متوسطون وصغار، ويظهر، كما لو أنه وثيقة رسمية، طبائع الأمور في بلد تستقطب سلطته أبناء الريف في الجيش والأمن خاصة، وتمنحهم وظائف ومراكز قيادية في دوائرها ومرافقها الرسمية، وتشجعهم علي الانخراط في الجندية وما يتفرع عنها من دوائر وأجهزة، في حين يعتمد أبناء المدينة علي أنفسهم ومواردهم الخاصة غالبا، حتي ليعتقد المرء أنهم يعيشون خارج أية علاقة مع أي شيء رسمي أو سلطوي، ويستغرب كيف تمكنوا من البقاء علي هامش وخارج سلطة تمسك بكل شيء وتقرر كل شيء في بلدهم، وكيف حققوا التقدم المادي الذي بلغوه، مع أنهم يعيشون خارج عالمها الرسمي: الذي هو موزع الأرزاق الرئيسي علي الريفيين.
لوعدنا إلي أوراق النعي، لوجدنا أنها تلقي الضوء علي حقائق التوزيع الطبقي والسياسي لمدينة طالما تعايش فيها بسلام وتفاعل أخوي أبناء الأديان والمذاهب والطوائف المختلفة، وكذلك المنتسبون إلي إثنيات متباينة، يقينا لو أنني وجدت قبل أربعين عاما في نفسي الجرأة للحديث عن طوائف، لرجمني أبناء المدينة والريف. أما اليوم، ومع أن الطوائف ضرب من بنية تحتية للوعي العام في سورية، فإن أحدا لا يجرؤ علي الحديث عنها، ليس لاعتقاد الناس أنها غير موجودة، بل خوفا من سلطة تدعي أنها أقامت وحدة وطنية صهرت الشعب في بوتقة ألغت جميع أنواع الفروق العقائدية والإثنية، وجعلت أي حديث عن طوائف خيانة وطنية مثبتة تستحق العقاب.
تقول ورقة النعي الريفية، بعد الآية الكريمة، إن الفقيد هو العقيد أو العميد أو المقدم فلان الفلاني، وأن أبناءه هم ـ بحسب رتبته ـ المقدم أو الرائد أو النقيب أو الملازم أول نضال أو ثائر أو كفاح أو رفيق أو خليل أو إبراهيم أو إسماعيل أو حسن أو علي... الخ، وأصهاره أزواج بناته ثورة أو ثائرة أو نضال أو رفيقة أو أمل أو شروق هم المقدم المهندس أو الرائد الطبيب أو الملازم الأول الإلكتروني أو المستشار الفني أو المزارع... الخ. بينما ستجد بين اخوته مدرسا أو معلما أو عضو قيادة شعبة في الحزب أو محاميا أو قاضيا أو مهاجرا، دون أن يبطل ذلك الطابع العسكري الغالب علي الأجيال الجديدة من أسرته أو علي من يمتون إليها بصلة. فاتني القول: إن ورقة النعي تخبرنا أن الصلاة علي روح الفقيد ستتم في جامع القرية، وان العزاء فيه سيقبل يوم كذا وكذا في بيته الريفي، مع أنه ربما يكون ولد في المدينة ومات فيها، ولم يمض أو يعمل غير أيام قليلة في الضيعة.
إذا انتقلنا إلي أوراق النعي المدينية، وجدنا كلمات تتكرر في كل منها هي الحاج أو الشيخ أو التاجر أو المهندس أو الطبيب أو الأستاذ... الخ، تعلمنا أن هؤلاء من رجال البر والتقوي والخير والإحسان، في حين تعكس أسماؤهم بدورها نزعة دينية سادت خلال السنوات الأربعين الماضية لدي معظم أبناء المدينة، فالمتوفي هو محمد جمعة أو محمد غالب أو محمد سالم ـ أو أي شيء من هذا القبيل ـ وأبناؤه هم بالتأكيد محمد مصطفي، ومحمد عبد الله، ومحمد نديم، ومحمد رجاء، ومحمد واصل، ومحمد حسيب، ومحمد طه، ومحمد خالد، ومحمد عمر... الخ، بينما يوجد دوما اسم فاطمة وخديجة وزهراء وعائشة ومؤمنة وتقية وسميه وآمنة وآية بين أسماء بناته وقريباته، وعبد الستار وعبد الله وعبد الغفور وعبد الرحمن بين أسماء أصهاره واخوته وأبناء أعمامه وأخواله، مشفوعة علي الغالب بصفة الحاج أو الشيخ أو البار أو التقي.
ما أن تقرأ أوراق النعي، حتي تكتشف أنك لست فقط حيال رجال فارقوا الحياة الدنيا، بل كذلك أمام وضع اجتماعي/ سياسي/ ثقافي وطني، بالأحري لا وطني، تفضح الأوراق حقائقه المؤسفة والخطيرة، التي تكونت خلال السنوات التي قالت السلطة فيها إنها تبني عالما من المساواة والإخاء والحرية والمواطنة، وتمحو الفوارق بين الريف والمدينة. عندئذ، ستهز رأسك بأسي، وستخشي ما تشي الأوراق به من مصير بائس ينتظر وطنك، وستترحم علي نفسك، خاصة حين تبحث عبثا في أوراق النعي عن شيء يشي بوجود زواج أو قرابة بين المدينة وريفها، وبين محمد علي وعلي محمد، فلا تعثر علي أثر لأي منهما، رغم أن صورا وملصقات ويافطات كثيرة تنتشر علي جدران المدينة وفي شوارعها تخبرك أنك تعيش في سورية الحديثة ، وأنك تجسد الوطن، لأن الفروق بينك وبين بقية مواطنيك لم تعد موجودة، تحت أي شكل أو مسمي!
هذا الحال، بدأ يتغير في السنوات الأخيرة، حيث تشكلت في المدينة لجان تعني بالعمل الوطني الديمقراطي، انتسب إليها طوعيا ولأغراض بعيدة كل البعد عن أي غنم شخصي، جامعيون ومحامون وعمال ومدرسون وتجار وفلاحون وطلبة... الخ من جميع الاتجاهات السياسية والأديان، جعلوا همهم وصل من انقطع من لحمة بين المواطنين، علي أرضية المواطنة، التي تكفل لهم المساواة والحرية. وذلك بصيص الضوء الوحيد في عتمة الواقع المقيت، الذي جعل مدينة عرفت 56 صحيفة ومجلة ومنتدي بين عامي 1925 و1958 لا تعرف اليوم غير جريدة فقيرة توزع 500 نسخة بشق الأنفس، وتخلو من أي منتدي للحوار أو أية ساحة للتنفس الفكري والروحي والوطني، صار من الضروري جدا أن يقبل رجالها ونساؤها العزاء بعلي محمد في جامع العجان وسط المدينة، ومحمد علي في جامع القرداحة!

ميشيل كيلو

At 5/16/2006 02:16:00 PM, Blogger Alex said...


I was already disappointed many times in the past, and I expect to be frequently disappointed again in the future just like I was yesterday when they decided to send a signal by detaining Kilo.

I was actually talking to George Ajjan the day before it happened and I told him: "Christian regime critics are lucky, they can criticize a bit harder because the regime trusts they are not trying to take over power" ... then I gave George an example: "look at Michel Kilo! ... he has been allowed to write in Annahar for ever and no one touched him"

So yes, I was disapponted, because there in nothing threatening about Micheal Kilo's role ... only ideas.

To be honest, if they detain him for few days, then that is almost understandable by middle eastern standards of human rights ... Michel knows how to play the game, and this would not bother him much. But if they put him on trial, then sentence him to a few years in jail ... then it is a big mistake.

I have to say that I expected some more political opposition figures to be detained (not Kilo though). The region is moving towards more confrontation and Mubarak and others are doing the same lately. Everybody is in bad mood, everyone is frustrated, uncertainty is high. The whole system is tense ...

In Iraq the Americans are frustrated they can not get them to simply form a "democratic" government,

In Palestine, Fatah is doing its best to make sure Hamas fails. Hamas is wondering what to do about it ... you think hamas will accept to fail and look like losers? what are the chances of major violence there?

In Lebanon they reached a dead end ... a million times already. Most of them are still keeping a polite smile, but once a week threats are issued ...Mr. Seniora decided to use the UN again to scare the Syrians into finalizing the borders. The Syrians know that the next step would be to solve the issue of the farms and next comes the issue of hizbollah's weapons and role in general. Even if you ignore Syria's role there, The Lebanese Shia (backed by Iran) are not giving up their power ... not until the Lebanese Democracy is updated in a way that reflects the real numbers of Lebanese Shia. So that problem is not going away any time soon ... expect more tension, more confrontations, and more nervous leaders on all sides.

Then you have the potentially explosive Sunni/Shia conflict ...Turkey/Iran/Saudi Arabia ... each is playing a strategic role in the whole area that none of you wants to look at, instead you are so busy with only "Syrian regime" related negative news (and there are many, I agree)

I know you wonder why I keep "giving them a chance" ... maybe this is a North American mentality that I fully adopted: Everyone is innocent until proven guilty.

To prove "they" are guilty, I would need to see nothing less than the following: The United States which committed $200 billions and thousands of dead soldiers and tens of thousands of dead Iraqis, should try something much easier to introduce democratic changes to Syria:

Help the country get back its Golan height and live in peace with Israel

Help the country economically with funds that come from Arab Gulf states

Tie the above to strict Democratic reforms steps that the regime MUST take within reasonable time limits.

Anything less .. is not enough to make Syrians change their minds in a dramatic way.

At 5/16/2006 03:09:00 PM, Blogger Atassi said...

Dear Alex,
I am not so sure or even expecting the US or the Europeans will do what you are asking them to do, they are not going to be rewarding the Syrian regime for all the errors and wicked things they have done!! Let's put this way, They just CAN NOT.
Basically, the American are watching the regime self-destructing with its own fatal mistakes and in goals …
Currently, I am unenthusiastic to your idea about helping “the regime” economically, and I don’t expect the Americans or any other party to rewarded it, since we all understand that empowering the regime will make it unmanageable
Alex, I do understand that the Middle East facing many conflicts and unresolved issues, but the failed, uncharted and unproven Syrian strategy is not going to help!!

At 5/16/2006 03:22:00 PM, Blogger EHSANI2 said...


Help the country economically with funds that come from Arab Gulf States?

1- why can't Syria help its own economy herself? Why do you think the economy is in bad shape? Has it occurred to you that the faults lie within?

2- Why should the Gulf countries help? Is this an entitlement program? So you want to the Gulf countries to send money over so that it can get stolen and plundered? Whose checking account should they be transferred to? Who is going to ensure that it is going to go to the people that need it most and not to Geneva?

3- you want the U.S. to bring democracy to Syria? What is your definition of democracy? Bashar would sure love to see the U.S. team at Damascus airport. Reason for entry: Promote democracy in your country because you cannot do? We are here to promote democracy so that we can kick you out?

I am truly amazed to read your comments.

At 5/16/2006 03:56:00 PM, Blogger Atassi said...

It's Amazing, after all this blundering, wickedness, killing and suppressing of the peoples... The US should reward the regime!!!
Your assumptions that most leaders or regimes in the area are doing the same bad thing, why can’t Assad do it!!
Alex, you are a very smart man and full of knowledge. You know that Dr. Assad doesn’t have the leeway other leaders has!

At 5/16/2006 06:02:00 PM, Blogger Alex said...

Atassi and Ehani, and many others

I assure you that if we were in the same place talking instead of typing comments, we will all realize that none of us is making "absurd" statements. I am working on some interesting multi-media discussion forums that hopefully would make things more efficient ... in few months hopefully.

Until then, I will try again, ... I used to believe in shorter comments, but I am having to totally reverse that strategy ... sorry for adding more boring details, but I guess you are asking me for details:

Here are three pages of details .. I hope that clarifies my shorter (one page long) earlier comments which are clearly not to your liking so far:

The major point that many of you are stuck on is: why should this regime be rewarded.

First, let us start by acknowledging that we have infinite possibilities, it is not a black and white case ... for example you can:

-punish by death
-punish by humiliation
-not punish and not reward
-reward conditionally
-reward unconditionally.

I am arguing for the "reward conditionally" option. I'll explain.

Why not "punish"? ... because:

1) Punish who? where do you want to draw the line? ... I had this arguement with Farid Ghadry and others on his blog. The fact is: "the regime" is not as Ammar calls it "the Assads" ... the regime is what you have everywhere in the Middle East, plus some Syria specific issues. In Syria, the regime includes over a Million Baath members? how many of these deserve punishment? Abdullah AlAhmar? Ayman Abdel Noor? My ex-girlfriend? (she had to become "a member" when she was in University), so I assume some of you have a fair and feasible mechanism for picking who deserves to be "punished" from "the regime" members?. After the Baath you have to go after "the Army"? to the other military organizations? who do you want to "punish" there? the ones who did bad things in Lebanon? the ones who did bad things in Hama? the typical corrupt officers? ... next you have to move to all the corrupt civil servants? or only the "top" ones? .. now please don't forget that if you want instead to only "punish" those who stole "a lot of money" then you have to decide again where to draw the line ... Billions? hundreds of millions? millions? ... only "regime men" or any damascene or Aleppo or Latakia businessman who unfairly got government contracts adn practically "stole" money?

Of course after we decide which 500,000 people to punish (or 10,000) we have to do ... what? throw them in jail? ... no, we are now the new democratic Syrians. We will therefore allow all those 500,000 corrupt evil people to have a fair trial. But Syria has no legal System that can handle anything more than ... a few cases at a time? ... so what do we do? we wait until there is a proper legal System? we have an international court to look for those 500,000 (or 10,000) cases for years and years? ... we throw them in jail anyway, or what the heck, no need to be democratic yet!

Alright, so if we are not going to punish "them" that way, then what other way? by overthrowing the regime? ... we now have to go back to looking at history from 1877 until now ... Syria was very often under similar tough international negativity ... there were times when it was much worse than now ... yet no one overthrew the regime. In econometrics (Ehsani) such clear and consistent history should be enough to make some confident assumptions and expectations, no?

So here is one other major point were we disagree: Some of you see a "window of opportunity" to remove the regime. Everything is possible, but in my estimates of probabilities, I don't think it is even close. It is only a window of opportunity if you don't mind risking to destroy the country and the whole region for the purpose of "punishing the regime by removal" ... if you calculate your probabilities differently, then I would love to read a long detailed and convincing article ... even if it is boring like my comments here. Because the devil is in the details. It is not enough to say that Syrian lived happily in the 50s and 60s ...

1) "Syrians" changed. And sadly, they have changed to the worse ... I am not blaming "Syrians", I know many of you prefer to blame the "regime" and only the regime. But that is not the issue here. The issue is that Syrians are now more sectarian.
2) please do not look at your civilized friends and relatives ... most of us here are very secular and well educated. In contrast, a friend of mine traveled to one of the more remote regions of Syria ... he found out that they ALL had weapons at home. And in that particular regions, they knew where and when they will not hesitate to use those weapons. The mentality was not as relaxed as in downtown Damascus.

The above was to answer: why not punish?

Back to ... why reward the regime?

Two answer is: because it is the path of least resistance to change ... when everybody wins, change has less resistance. Those of you who are electrical, mechanical Engineers know it, and those of you who know a thing or two about psychology (or even pop- psychology or applied psychology) would appreciate the logic behind picking the path of least resistance.

Atassi ... if you can honestly say: I really don't need to take revenge from anyone, I just want to reform Syria with no violence, then you will see things the same way. I know the argument that the regime will be the highest resistance to change, and I partially agree, but there are ways around it. Ammar says he looked at those ways for two years he was in Damascus, but that was simply not good enough. Offering the regime under the table discussions in Washington while publicly subjecting them to a fierce P.R. campaign (western/Lebanese/Saudi) is simply not what I call good motivation.

There is no P.R. strategy alone that can solve this problem.

And now to Ehsani’s comments… if you are still reading : )

1) Why is it important for Syria to solve its own problems and not get massive outside help? .. You have all the numbers: please look up how much Egypt and Jordan got in debt reduction and in yearly assistance n exchange for their signing on peace agreements? ... tens of Billions (especially in debt reduction) ... why is it that ONLY SYRIA again and again and again, has to be treated in a less favorable way?

2) Of course the Syrian economy needs to be totally reformed, if you assumed that I do not see that then obviously you seem to think I am a certified idiot. thank you!

Syria can get outside help AND reform its sick economy, no? ... or are these things mutually exclusive?

3) The Gulf states can, and always did, and probably will help when they are asked to, because it is understood that a small part of their oil income is ... not theirs. It is to be used for other things when needed. You know of course how much they spent in the past when they were asked to. Except of course, if again you want to prove that in the case of Syria, everything must be reversed.

4) Potential donors, like the Prince of Qatar, are not stupid. They know by now how to "help" Syria ... don't worry, everything will be invested in actual projects under outside (UN or other) supervision. There will always be some indirect corruption, like in any country. But not like the old days. Except if you tell me that this is impossible?

5) As for bringing democracy to Syria ... if you read my endless discussions with Ammar you would have had the answer to your question: gradually but at an accelerated pace ... in about 5 years, provided there are mini steps that MUST be taken starting immediately after an agreement…. Everything audited and conditional…. Leading to a major reduction (not total overthrow) of the regime’s powers … shifting them to an elected powerful prime minister (probably Sunni) and keeping the secular army under secular+minority officers’ leadership…. Plus a bicameral assembly. And please do not ridicule this idea, because it is also Ammar’s idea.

And did I mention that the United States would also be one of the biggest Beneficiaries of making the above happen? ... any problem with that?

My proposed reward is for Syria … even if the regime benefited partially from it.

Your proposed punishment is sadly … also for Syria. Even if the regime also suffered from it.

At 5/16/2006 06:25:00 PM, Blogger zamzami said...

This post has been removed by a blog administrator.

At 5/16/2006 06:30:00 PM, Blogger zamzami said...

This post has been removed by a blog administrator.

At 5/16/2006 06:33:00 PM, Blogger zamzami said...

The syrian people will not burn to death the baath members,many of our relatives are obliged to be baathists to survive but secretly they curse bashar and his gang,the problem is this family which use baath as cover and those will never push to true reforms ,because it will mean their suicide.

At 5/16/2006 08:24:00 PM, Blogger norman said...

The arrest of MR Kilo is either a stupid mistake as it will direct the attention to his ideas and to the fact that not all the oppposition are from the MB or it is a smart move to elevate his statue in the opposition so he can have influance to decrease the radicalism of the opposition .

At 5/16/2006 08:36:00 PM, Blogger George Ajjan said...

Norman raises an interesting point. If this turns out to be a minor incident, as I and many others hope, Kilo will emerge relatively unscathed, his street creds having increased considerably.

At 5/16/2006 10:55:00 PM, Blogger Down with Assad said...

This is so sad and uncalled for...
I am fed up with this regime that does not let anyone breath or express opinions!!!
what do they expect 18 Million people and several millions abroad to follow the same slogan which is a big lie, the president and government is becoming a puppet for Iran "Allah Yustur". I created a special blog (my first one ever) to free Michel Kilo, please check it out and put your comments in it

At 5/16/2006 11:05:00 PM, Blogger Down with Assad said...

Free Michel Kilo Now

Comments about how the Syrian government is being smart and calculating things are totally ridiculous!!!enough excuses and playing games...

At 5/17/2006 11:17:00 AM, Blogger George Ajjan said...

By the way, Alex, thanks for blowing my cover. ;)

At 5/17/2006 11:47:00 AM, Blogger zamzami said...

Dr Landis has written:As a Latakian Christian, who came from the secular left and had been educated in the Eastern bloc, Kilo is particularly well placed to pressure the Asad regime where it hurts"

In fact,Michel Kilo studied at Munster and Munchen Universities in West Germany.

At 5/17/2006 12:15:00 PM, Blogger sisco-side said...

In fact,Michel Kilo studied at Munster and Munchen Universities in West Germany.

Yes, and in fact these two establishments were known to be anti-semites/anti Alawites.

At 5/17/2006 12:28:00 PM, Blogger Alex said...

Don't worry George, that was part of my 3-page comment. Nobody read it.

sisco-side said...
In fact,Michel Kilo studied at Munster and Munchen Universities in West Germany.
Yes, and in fact these two establishments were known to be anti-semites/anti Alawites.


At 5/17/2006 01:26:00 PM, Blogger Atassi said...

So.. ..No comments...
UPDATE 1-Syria arrests leading lawyer, charges writer
By Khaled Yacoub Oweis
491 words
17 May 2006
Reuters News
(c) 2006 Reuters Limited
(Releads with lawyer's arrest)

DAMASCUS, May 17 (Reuters) - Syrian authorities arrested a prominent lawyer on Wednesday as they launched a wave of detentions of dissidents who have called for mending ties with Lebanon, political activists said.

Anwar al-Bunni, a non-partisan campaigner for political freedom for Syria, was dragged screaming from his home by security forces in the Barzeh district while his family and neighbours watched, they said.

Bunni, from a family of opponents to Syria's Baathist-led government, opened an EU-sponsored human rights centre in Damascus a few months ago that was quickly shut by authorities. Officials said the centre lacked a permit to operate.

Earlier on Wednesday, Bunni issued a statement condemning the authorities for charging Michael Kilo, a political writer, with crimes that could land him in jail for life.

Kilo, who has called for a democratic, secular Syria and criticised its policy in Lebanon, signed a declaration last week -- along with Bunni and scores of activists -- calling on Damascus to mend relations with Beirut.

Despite growing calls for his release, authorities proceeded with formal charges against Kilo similar to those that have resulted in long prison sentences for other dissidents.

He was charged with undermining the state, weakening national sentiment and instigating sectarian and racial divisions, the activists said.

Syrian poet Adonis, a leading Arab literary figure, made an appeal to release Kilo, who was arrested on Sunday.


"I was hoping the Syrian regime will no longer arrest a person for his thinking or political opinion, especially when he is non-violent, and doesn't belong to a terrorist fascist organisation," Adonis told Lebanese newspaper An-Nahar.

Kilo was one of 500 intellectuals, journalists and writers from Syria and Lebanon who signed last week's Damascus-Beirut declaration, calling on Syria to improve its relations with Lebanon by opening embassies and demarcating the common border.

A U.N. resolution passed on Wednesday urged Syria to make similar moves.

Syrian forces left Lebanon last year after a 29-year presence. Relations between the two countries plummeted after the assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik al-Hariri in February 2005.

A U.N. investigation has implicated senior Syrian officials in the Hariri killing. Syria has denied involvement.

Syria has faced intense Western pressure to abandon support for the Shi'ite Muslim Hizbollah group, its main Lebanese ally, and improve observance of human rights. But the government, led by the Baath Party since 1963, has continued to jail dissidents.

On Wednesday security forces arrested human rights lawyer Mamoun Murei in the town of Homs and detained democracy activist Nidal Darwish in the eastern city of Hasakeh, Syrian human rights organisations said.

Both men signed the Damascus-Beirut declaration.

At 5/17/2006 04:12:00 PM, Blogger Alex said...


What do you think I feel about what is happening? This is terrible.

Please understand what I am saying:

1) Put aside the "good and Bad" arguement ... it goes nowhere and it solves nothing.

2) confrontation (force) generates a reciprocal force when the other party feels it is strong enough to reciprocate ... I am not defending anyone, please understand it ... I just hope all will stop talking about revenge and punishment and realizing that everything is connected to everything ... this is the middle east not the middle of Pacific Ocean.

Think solutions, instead of this chicken and egg (who started the conflict, and who is to blame, and who should be punished ... if you want to show me in the future that I am "wrong" you can do that ONLY if you come up with another realistic, non violent, solution.

At 5/17/2006 07:49:00 PM, Blogger Atassi said...

I WILL not play the blame game. I think you are missing the point my good Friend. The regime failed us "Syrians" in a big way, The regime MUST step aside and give other party's the chance to mend what left standing !!. I am not asking for punishments "yet". the situation in Syria is escalating, I have a bad feeling that Harrie investigation is going in the wrong direction, and the regime started preparing for the outcome !!

The blind CAN'T lead the blind !!

At 5/17/2006 10:33:00 PM, Blogger Alex said...


hmmm ... Didn't you just:

1) blame them again (for failing the Syrian people)
2) come up with non realistic solution (suggesting they step aside voluntarily)

Remember how Google few months ago played a joke, where if you search for the word "failure" George Bush's site will come up as the first link? ... This is because the impression in the US is that George Bush failed the American people big time. Many, many Americans would prefer to see him go. will he volunteer to go? no.

Very, very few regimes or politicians volunteer to leave.

All I read so far has been a modified version of one of these two "solutions"

1) the regime should step aside
2) the regime must be removed by force

both of which will not happen any time soon.

Yet, everyone finds my suggestions for a solution to be naive or "rewarding the regime"

Anyway, do you notice how no one is leaving comments today, not on Ammar's and not here ... this is sad ... arresting Michel and Anwar has made many people fear expressing their opinions, and you have every right to be upset at the regime for that.

At 5/18/2006 10:47:00 AM, Blogger Atassi said...

For a long time, I have been advocating the points below, I always said, The regime need to give a chance to others, with the goal of FIXING the country, But, it's seems that all what the regime wanted is to RULE ..

Again, I am reasonably advocating that:

-The dominant role of the Baath party needs to be reduced, to allow the real oppositions groups to participate in a program of transition to a democratic and free society, to facilitate a free and fair election "even to the for presidency itself !!! ".
- Dr. Bashar needs to act and remove any elements opposing the needs for institutional reform's
- Abolishing Decree No. 51 "state of emergency", in which Dr. Assad himself admitted that mistake and abuse were made with Decree No.51. You must reinforce the independence of the judiciary system.
- Enforce a refurbished justice system to fight corruptions and strengthen transparency in the state public entities.

At 5/18/2006 11:02:00 AM, Blogger syrianb said...

Reinforcements to Radical Palestinian Faction Cross Border From Syria
Palestinian militants in Syria sent troops and military vehicles into eastern Lebanon overnight to back up members of their group who clashed with the army a day earlier, police said Thursday.
Fifteen military trucks full of arms, ammunition and guerrillas from the Damascus-based Fatah al-Intifada led by radical militant Abu Moussa, crossed the border in the Halwa-Yanta region, a police source told Agence France Presse.

They took up position in the remote mountainous area overlooking the Wadi Aswad valley near the Syrian border where on Wednesday the group's fighters and Lebanese army troops clashed for several hours. One gunman and a soldier were wounded in the battle.

Also during the night, the Lebanese army sent in more reinforcements to the area, deploying about 100 commando troops backed by 10 armored vehicles, a military source told AFP.

A number of armed pro-Syrian Palestinian groups maintain bases in Lebanon, where an estimated 400,000 Palestinian refugees live.
Syria, which backs several radical factions with bases in Lebanon, withdrew its troops from the country last year after a 29-year military presence and political domination.

Ties between Beirut and Damascus have been strained since the withdrawal, which came in the face of strong international pressure following the murder of ex-premier Rafik Hariri for which Syria was widely blamed.

On Wednesday, the U.N. Security Council approved Resolution 1680, cranking up the pressure on Syria to agree to formal diplomatic ties with Lebanon and to demarcate their common border to allow for Lebanon's full independence.(AFP-Naharnet)

At 5/18/2006 01:50:00 PM, Blogger Alex said...

This post has been removed by a blog administrator.

At 5/18/2006 01:57:00 PM, Blogger Alex said...


That's very good. Let's assume that we disagree for now on how "bad" the regime is, please think next of what is it that all the other factions (inside and outside) can do to make these desired reform outcomes happen, adn happen faster and more easily ...

For example, given what you know about the Syrian regime, and the Arab regimes in general:

1) is it constructive to keep them busy on a daily basis with outside pressure?
2) is it constructive to try to humiliate them?
3) is it constructive to make their job more difficult?

For example, you know that they are trying to buy new planes for the Syrian Airlines. the current ones are 30 years old and they are becoming a safety risk. since the Syrian regime is not going away in the near future and since they absolutely need to buy new safer planes this year. Is it right for the United States to make it impossible for Syria to purchase Airbus or Boeing airplanes? Now they are forced to buy Russian planes instead. So for the next 20 years, the Syrian Airlines will not be competitive when tourism picks up, thanks to the "outside pressure on the regime"

Regardless of your opinions of the regime in general and whatever the regime did in the past to "deserve this", do you as a Syrian find it acceptible for Syria (not the regime) to be punished in this, and many other ways?

Similarly, "punishing teh regime" by humiliation attempts and constant effforts to make their job a failure, is part of the reason we are not moving ahead in the right direction ... the regime is of course to blame for the other past. For reform to take place, both sides should reverse their current confrontational policies ... there is no peaceful way to get out of it otherwise.

Do we still disagree?


At 1/22/2008 02:05:00 AM, Blogger syria said...

Pres. Bashar, change our tarnished image and prove to the world your intention in justice toward your citizens and to the world. I am a Syrian immigrant who looks forward for the day to return to my country and volunteer my wealth and professional experience to improve Syria. In fact, I am one of so many who are welling to shake hands to set the stage for a better start.
Bashar, you may not read this comment, but definitely one of your people will read it. Michel Kilo does not deserve to be prisoned. There is no shame to be criticized for the sake of reforming your country, Syria, and shedding the lights one your representatives’ weaknesses. It is always better to be criticized from your own family rather than from an outsider. I read Michel Kilo books and articles; Mr. Kilo thoughts are full of shine for a better Syria and regime. Syrian immigrants acknowledge and appreciate what you have been doing to improve and protect Syria. However, preventing the freedom of thoughts should not be in your agenda. In fact, giving a room for people to write and criticize are the best ways to turn your enemies to friends. After reading their thoughts, it would be great to invite them for an open discussion so they can contribute in reforming and translating their words or maybe intentions into actions and civil movements. Put yourself in their situation for a second, break your heart for a moment and imagine the family member of Michel Kilo and others feelings. Bash, instead of spending money on Punishing Initiatives, invest this money on people themselves. Prove them wrong by giving them the opportunity to set their actions in a real life situation.

When you placed a woman as a vice president, we were expecting the heart of a women and the passion of a mother toward her children, Syrian citizens. May be Ms. Najat Al- Atar should visit prisoners with Psychiatrists and invite all prisoners for a discussion to build a channel of communication between one another. I hope my comment will reach your hands so you can rethink of your people as diverse not only in religions, and ethnicity but mostly in thoughts, and perspectives. However, we hope that Syria reform will happen at your time.. We look for a better Syria with much more respect to human rights and freedom of thoughts and speech.
Finally, I would like to ask you to free Michel Kilo and Anwar al- Bounni from Syrian prisons. Bashar, you still have the time to rewrite Syria history and future according to the series of actions you take toward your own people or as you once called bigger family.


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