Interviews, Israel, Lebanon, Syria

Talking about a Revolution: An Interview with Camille Otrakji

And now for something completely different.

If you’ve been following events in Syria, you’d know that the English-language press is mostly deeply critical of the Assad regime (while the Arabic press displays a slightly wider range of views). I thought it would be worth trying to present a minority report on the situation from a Syrian friend of mine, although, as you will see, he argues precisely that his position is actually held by a very significant majority (albeit a rather quiet and frustrated majority) of Syrians.

Camille Otrakji is a Syrian political blogger based in Montreal. Although he tends to keep a low profile, Otrakji has been, for the past several years, at the forefront of many of the most interesting and influential online initiatives relating to Syrian politics. He is one of the authors and moderators at Joshua Landis’s Syria Comment, and the founder of Creative Syria, a constellation of websites including Mideast Image (a vast collection of original old photographs of Middle Eastern subjects) and Syrian Think Tank (an online debate site hosting many of Syria’s top analysts). Last year, Otrakji courted controversy with a new initiative devoted to the subject of Syrian-Israeli peace, entitled He agreed to speak with me about the latest events in Syria, and I’m sure that his views will generate plenty of discussion.


QN: You were recently quoted in The New York Times, arguing that the current situation in Syria is “all being manipulated,” and that the activists are deceiving the Syrian public and the world. Could you elaborate on this?

Otrakji: I believe that a clear majority of Syrians support many of the demands of the peaceful protesters. On the other hand, only a minority of Syrians are willing to risk destabilizing their country in order to try to achieve full regime change after a painful drawn-out conflict.

You might disagree with me if your impression of the state of the protests movement is the product of Aljazeera and BBC Arabic endlessly looping some bloody clip of the day and creating an impression that victory is near for “the Syrian people” who are demonstrating against their despised tyrant. In the early days of the Libyan revolt, Aljazeera created the same “victory-is-easy” impression for the Libyan people and they believed it, and until today they are killing each other and destroying their country.

Despite weekly calls from opposition figures for millions to demonstrate, based on the numbers of people we have seen in the streets of Syria thus far, it is clear that less than 1.0% of the country (about 150,000 Syrians) has joined the protests. This is not Egypt or Yemen, where you had hundreds of thousands or even millions of people protesting every day. In Syria we’ve seen a few thousands here, a few hundred there, mostly on Fridays. And yet western governments, the Syrian opposition, and the media covering Syria are all enthusiastically and casually using the term “the Syrian people” from the first day a few young men demonstrated in the Ummayad mosque. This implies they have the support of the entire Syrian population, which is a very serious distortion of the facts. How do you think the pro-stability Syrians feel when everyone, from Western officials to journalists imply that they are automatically on the side of regime change? No one reported that for weeks Syrians were demonstrating each night in many cities supporting their President. These daily demonstrations, festive and loud, stopped only when interior ministry told the supporters to stop showing their support because they were too noisy. The only time millions demonstrated in Syria was the day Assad’s supporters went to the street in most of Syria’s large cities. It was bizarre that most of the media decided that all these Syrians were chanting and dancing in the streets because they were afraid of the regime, simply because schools and some government offices were given the day off on that day. Ironically, some of the same journalists were also making the point the revolution is bound to succeed because “the barrier of fear has been shattered”.

In addition to distorting the true size of the protests movements, everyone seems to overlook the fact that unlike Egypt’s Tahrir Square, Syria’s protestors have mostly been men. “The Syrian people” include women too, as you can see from the pro-Assad demonstrations. Why didn’t any of those Western financed women rights organizations express any concern after seeing tens of all-male demonstrations so far?

While most protests were genuinely peaceful, many were confrontational and violent. Syria’s police and security personnel are not used to such challenges and sadly in some cases some of them probably reacted with unnecessary violence. But out of an estimated 150,000 protesters so far up to 500 died according to opposition figures. Government claims 78 died, and I believe the real figure is in between, closer to opposition figures. The government claims that many died in armed confrontations. Given that 80 soldiers and policemen also died, it is only logical that non-peaceful armed men were among the hundreds of “civilian” casualties. In other words, not all civilian casualties were peaceful protestors.

Many others probably died through excessive security personnel violence. We need to keep in mind that despite the bitter feeling all of us today have after hundreds died, an investigation of what happened should be conducted.

None of us has access to the truth, but I think it is fair to conclude for now that the numbers imply that it is not true that there is an official  policy of shooting randomly at any demonstrator. Many fatal mistakes took place, but many others died while they were taking part in non peaceful confrontations with the army or police. Those who compare Syria’s casualties figures to Egypt’s need to keep in mind that in Egypt protesters were not engaging the army in battles. The 850 who died there were all non armed.

QN: But surely there is public discontent with Bashar al-Assad, or else people would not be risking their lives to demonstrate against the regime.

Otrakji: The revolt started out as a legitimate one, when it was based in Dar’aa. The people there were genuinely fed up with the local head of security, who was a relative of the president, and so at first they protested against his abuse of power and his corruption. But this took place against the backdrop of the events in Egypt and Tunisia, so certain groups decided to try and capitalize on this act of protest in Dar’aa and turn it into a nationwide revolt.

QN: Which groups?

Otrakji: There are many groups who are trying to destabilize the regime. You have the regime change activists overseas, who are financed by various American programs that the Obama administration continued to finance despite seeking better relations with Syria. And you have American technologies that allow you to manipulate anything online. For example, you can help generate virtual members among some of the 150,000 that the Syrian revolution 2011 page on Facebook is proud of.

Then there are many Salafists around the country, guided by Syrian, Saudi, or Egyptian religious leaders. And it is possible that some of the four anti-regime billionaires might be trying to stir the pot for their own, different, reasons; Abdul-Halim Khaddam [former vice president of Syria, currently in exile in Paris], Ribal al-Assad [Bashar’s cousin, and son of Rifaat al-Assad], Saad al-Hariri [current caretaker Prime Minister of Lebanon and son of the slain Rafiq], and Bandar bin Sultan al-Saud [former Saudi ambassador to the US, among other things].

QN: So this is all the work of these outside groups?

Otrakji: No, of course not. As I said, the revolt had a legitimate spark. And there is no doubt that many Syrians are dissatisfied with many aspects of the current regime. But most Syrians would much rather see some meaningful reforms undertaken in a peaceful fashion over the next five years under the current regime, instead of trying to sweep the regime away and dealing with the prospect of sectarian civil war. If Bashar were to sign several laws: (1) permitting the formation of political parties; (2) lifting the tight censorship in the press; (3) and modernizing and limiting the role of the mukhabarat (intelligence services), I believe that 80% of the Syrian people would be fully on board with that. They would say to the opposition: “Thank you very much for your courage. You did a valuable service by giving the regime a ‘cold shower’. But now we’ve had enough of the protests and we want to go back to work. We will give Bashar the benefit of the doubt, until the next presidential election.”

QN: What do you say to those who argue, like Joshua Landis, that the regime’s days are numbered? Landis recently suggested that even if Bashar can weather this storm, the country’s economic woes are a ticking time bomb and eventually the country’s middle class will abandon him.

Otrakji: Dr. Landis might be right, it will be difficult. But I also want to point out that this is not exactly the first time Syria’s economy was predicted to be near collapsing. President Reagan was not the first to wait for his adversaries (the Soviet Union) to surrender after they go broke.

In 1977, when the United States and Israel decided to make peace with Egypt instead of going for a comprehensive peace treaty that included the full return of Syria’s Golan Heights and the occupied Palestinian territories, a key demand of Hafez Assad, National Security Advisor Zbigniew Brzezinski offered this analysis: “The Syrian economy is in grave difficulty, with inflation running at 25%. If the Saudis were to offer major financial backing in return for a Syrian-Egyptian reconciliation, President Hafez Assad might have to assent, no matter how much he dislikes the idea of being forced to negotiate with Israel.”

Thirty four years later, we are facing a similar situation. The west is sending Syria messages through their Gulf Arab allies that say “You are in real trouble, if you play by our rules … if you  terminate relations with Iran and disarm Hezbollah … if you cooperate with us when we need you to, then we can help you stay in power and turn a blind eye like we do in Bahrain or Saudi Arabia”.

This is not the most difficult challenge that the regime had to face. In 1977 it lost its Egyptian peace partner after Sadat signed a separate peace treaty with Israel. At the same time the Syrian regime was in Lebanon busy fighting a coalition of Muslim forces as it tried to protect the much weaker Christians. This led to a coalition of neighboring Arab states aligned with the Untied States and determined to overthrow the Syrian regime by supporting (financially and with arms) the Muslism brotherhood that tried to use force to overthrow the regime. Then Israel invaded Lebanon and defeated the Syrian army stationed there. The Syrian economy was suffering from years of grave and multiple challenges. Yet by 1983, a top U.S. State Department official had to admit: “Hafez Assad is as strong, perhaps stronger, than ever.”

In 2005, after the Hariri assassination, the entire world was out for Syrian blood. The Syrian army left Lebanon, and the Americans, Europeans, and the Arabs all thought that Bashar was finished. They said he was stupid, he had no vision, he was not even half the man that his father was. It is instructive to consider the fact that Bashar did not feel pressured to properly comment on the Hariri assassination and Syria’s withdrawal from Lebanon. Rafiq al-Hariri was killed on February 14, 2005. Do you know when Bashar gave his first full address about the issue? November. When pressured, the Syrian regime takes the long view. It is a mistake to assume they have no cards to play.

QN: Can they afford to not communicate for that long?

Otrakji: It seems they believe they can. But this total lack of communication is making them lose popularity among those who used to be independents, and it is making many regime supporters furious. They would like to hear a convincing account of what is happening, but the regime hates to communicate. As a result, many supporters are by now on the fence. They prefer to suspend the revolution and give the regime enough time to reform as promised. But every Friday is forcing them to go through the painful exercise of waiting until the end of the day to hear the bad news. Last Friday, tens died. The regime’s opponents imply they were all peaceful protesters. The regime implies they were all armed men who attacked or were attacked by the army or police. Most Syrians believe the truth is somewhere in between.

On the other hand, I realize that communicating might be near useless anyway. Both the regime supporters and the opposition are engaged in serious propaganda and the result is that the more technology tools we have today, the more confused and suspicious we are. On Twitter you have a massive amount of fabricated opposition claims of regime brutality (in addition to the true ones). On facebook you get to see video clips that every group shares (if they support their arguments) or rejects (if it is embarrassing). This report from Syrian television claims that tens of demonstrators were actually only celebrating rainfall. This clip of a funeral of those who died at the hands of security shows a flying coffin that seems to be empty. I like this clip. It is funny, and it demonstrates how anyone with a bit of technical background, can manipulate digital media with ease.

QN: Why did Egypt go more smoothly?

Otrakji: There is a major difference with Syria. Egypt does not have the complex sectarian and ethnic makeup that Syria does. We have Sunnis, Alawites, Christians, Druzes, Kurds, Armenians, and various other ethnic and confessional groups. We have tribalism. We share borders and complex political ties ad history with Lebanon and Iraq, two of the most volatile countries in the region. We are in a state of war with Israel, and we are a central member of the Iranian-Hizbullah-Hamas axis that puts us in the crosshairs of Saudi Arabia and other Arab states. All Syrians are aware of their country’s vulnerability to instability, which is why the vast majority are genuinely supportive, or tolerant, of the current regime, even if they are restless waiting for more reforms. Syrians are risk averse; they’re just not willing to take the risk that Egypt took, because Egypt has much less potential for internal fragmentation. It is 90% Sunni Muslim, 100% Arab, no tribes, no Kurdish issue, has endless empty deserts separating it from its neighbors, and opted to sign a peace treaty with Israel ending its state of war.

QN: So what’s going to happen?

Otrakji: There is no way to know. Ultimately, it’s in the hands of the mostly non-sectarian risk-averse Syrian people, but it could still spin out of control if the current events are manipulated by groups that are trying to stir up sectarian conflict. If you read the older posts on the Syrian Revolution Facebook page (before they got a facelift and professional PR help), you wouldn’t believe how much religious language you find, and also how much deception there is. They were trying to whip up sectarian hysteria, to radicalize Syria’s Sunnis so as to bring down the regime. This is not what most Syrians want, but they have enough Syrians they can potentially influence.

QN: What is the likelihood, in your opinion, that the regime can be toppled by the current opposition, assuming that they can garner more support in the main cities?

Otrakji: The problem with this question – which everybody is asking – is that it fundamentally misunderstands the whole idea of “the Syrian regime”. What does this mean? What are you talking about when you say “the Syrian regime”?

QN: The Assad family, for starters. The major power-brokers and security chiefs. The corrupt oligarchs like Rami Makhlouf. Those are the opposition’s targets.

Otrakji: Corruption is indeed part of the reason many in “the regime” will resist those trying to force them out and I don’t think the Syrian people will rest anymore unless they are convinced that corruption will be curtailed.

But I think we need to look at Lebanon to understand what is really happening in Syria. After decades of Lebanon’s experience with democracy (flawed democracy) you still had  Amin and Bashir Gemayel inheriting the leadership of their party and people from their father Pierre. Walid from Kamal Jumblatt, Saad from Rafiq Hariri… and the same applies to the Frangiehs, Chamouns or the Karamis.

You also have an understandings where a 5% segment of the population (the Druze minority) can sometimes have a veto power over potential decisions that the nation’s elected leaders might be contemplating.

When Druze leader Walid jumblatt switched to the March 8 side, providing them with a new majority and the right to name Lebanon’s next prime minister, Saad Hariri was furious. He warned that only the Sunnis can name the country’s (Sunni) prime minister, regardless of who has a parliamentarian majority.

Although there is no strong regime in power like the one in Syria, Lebanon still did not yet feel ready to take the risk to try to adopt one-man-one-vote democracy. And the same families that collectively held power over the different segments of society are still there decades later. Even Sayyed Hasan Nasrallah has been there for decades. Messing up with this imperfect system can open a can of worms.

Iraq’s current government coalition was mostly made in Damascus. Every candidate and major political or religious figure visited Damascus before an agreement was reached. No other capital in the region or outside received that many Iraqi VIP visitors. How did Syria get to be that influential in Iraq?

When Saddam Hussein oppressed Iraq’s Shia and Kurds, Syria protected their leaders in Damascus. Iraqi Prime ministers Maliki and Allawi, President Talibani, and many other Iraqis opposed to Saddam Hussein were living safely in Damascus for years before they went back to the new Iraq to lead it. At that time, all the other Arabs, not to mention the United States and Europe, were trying to be Saddam’s best friends.

Similarly, when Iran’s weight in post-Saddam Iraq tilted the country’s political balance in a way that marginalized Iraq’s Sunnis, Syria opposed its Iranian allies and decided to protect Iraq’s Sunnis, including the Baathist and Sunni tribal leaders in Iraq.

Lebanon’s majority coalition is made of Christians, Shia, Druze and Sunnis … all of them have one thing in common; They are Syria’s allies. Similarly, Lebanon’s opposition is made of a similarly colorful group that also has one thing in common … all are opponents of Syria. When Druze leader switched from being an opponent of Syria to a friend of Syria, the majority and opposition in Lebanon exchanged hats.

The Syrian regime, and only the Syrian regime, REALLY know how the Levant and Mesopotamia work. Try to let the Saudis decide and you will end up with one disaster after the other. Remember Saud Al-faisal‘s brilliant plan to send an Arab army to fight Hezbollah in Lebanon?

The Alawites, and to a lesser degree the other minorities in Syria, will not accept the current system to be swept away overnight and without reforms that guarantee minority safety and rights. You have to understand that most Alawites view Syria in much the same way that the Jews view Israel, the Kurds view Kurdistan, the Maronites in Lebanon, etc. This is the one country in the world where they can dictate their own affairs and don’t have to worry about being repressed as a minority. They are not going to accept that this reality changes overnight. If democracy is to come to Syria, it needs to happen gradually and in a region that is not boiling in sectarian anger. Most Syrians understand this. But many, understandably, do not.

QN: What is your opinion of Turkey’s alleged concerns over the Syrian government’s crackdown? Do you think that this valuable alliance could be in jeopardy if the violence continues and refugees start fleeing to Turkey?

Otrakji: If Syria collapses, this could lead to a potential disaster for everyone in its vicinity: Lebanon, Israel, Palestine, Jordan, Iraq, and yes, even Turkey. The Turks have no desire to see Syria’s Kurds beginning to demand their own statelet, as this will impact Turkey’s Kurdish question in a major way. And Turkey surely would not want to see Sunnis and Alawites fighting each other just south of its border. These things can be contagious to Turkey’s own Sunni/Alawite population.

The main players in the region have no interest, at the end of the day, in trying to destabilize Assad. Even if they hate to admit it, they know that Syria’s regime plays a stabilizing role across the region. Rami Khouri agrees that  we can expect major problems across the region if Syria is shaken. I think Syria has influence as far as Yemen, Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Lebanon, Jordan, Turkey, Iran, Bahrain and … everywhere. In that sense, Syria is really not Egypt or Tunis.

QN: What’s the best case scenario for Syria, in your opinion?

Otrakji: I can’t discuss Syria without also discussing the Middle East. Here is the only thing that will work:

For now, demonstrations must stop, the President must speak to the nation to reassure everyone that he is indeed committed to serious and accelerated reforms that will please most Syrians. Press freedom law, political parties law, decentralization law (more power to the provinces) and gradually (within a year?) undoing the Ba’ath party’s monopoly on power.

The minorities in power in Syria need to start thinking of a five year plan to move to a democratic system. A Senate can help protect minority rights. Maintaining control of the army, like the case in Turkey, can provide another way to reassure the minorities. But otherwise, free elections that might bring anyone to power should be expected… after peace with Israel (please bear with me, I’ll explain)

“The International community” must help Israel and the Arabs reach comprehensive peace in the Middle East. The status quo is not sustainable. A majority of Egyptians want to scrap the peace treaty with Israel. Saudi Arabia and the other Gulf states are not going to remain stable forever. Iran and Saudi Arabia are probably going to consider different ways to escalate their cold war. Soon, a third intifada might start in the Palestinian territories. There is one way to start undoing all the pressure, a comprehensive peace treaty that is based on the return to the 1967 borders.

Since 1977 the US and Europe have been trying to weaken or destabilize Syria. This will destabilize the whole Middle East like it did each time they tried in the past. In Washington DC there is a group of legacy Middle East experts who tried, unsuccessfully, over the past years or decades, to weaken and isolate Syria. Dennis Ross, Elliott Abrams, Lee Smith, Jeff Feltman, and many others who passed away. For them, it is a personal battle that they never won. But they succeeded at least in ensuring that Syria never received a visit from an American secretary of State since 2003. No matter who is the President of the Untied States, one of the long term enemies of Syria makes it inside the new administration to help ensure nothing constructive comes out.

If President Obama is serious about progress in the Middle East, he has to personally take charge of relations with Syria. Leave the Syria “experts” out of it. You cannot be a democracy within the borders of the United States but a bully in the way you deal with smaller states. You know that when Syria was considered an ally of the Soviet Union, the Russians allowed Hafez Assad the liberty to meet with American Presidents. They did not punish him for that. The same applies to Iranian allies of Syria. They never complained when President Bashar Assad met with American officials or when Syrian experts were discussing peace with Israelis in Turkey. The US should learn from Iran and the former Soviet Union how is it possible to be a friend of Syria without dictating your terms on your weaker friend.

Religion and politics make an explosive mix. Most of the region’s problems come from Saudi Arabia (Sunni Islam’s Kingdom), Iran (Shia Islam’s kingdom) Israel (the Jewish state) and soon from America’s Zionist Christians. If you want Syrian minorities to be less fearful of full democracy get the Salafists off their back first. This one is calling for sacrificing one third of Syria’s population to get rid of the infidels, while the other one is about to explode if he does not see the minorities out of power in Syria immediately. In Egypt, top leaders of the Muslim Brotherhood are saying their real goal is “to rule the world!”. Salafists in Egypt are already threatening to enter Christian monasteries and to take over Sufi mosques. Even in Tunisia, Jordan and Northern Lebanon, Salafists are increasingly trying to play a big role.

In five years, everything can be resolved. But we have to retire the “moral clarity” mentality that used to consider Hosni Mubarak a part of the “International community” simply because he was a US puppet. Many of the heroes and prophets of moral clarity worked for Qaddafi when he paid the right price. Some of them worked for the Bush Sr. administration when a decision was made to kill tens of thousands of young Iraqi soldiers after they surrendered. That same 1991 war was made possible after many, including the President, lied to the American people to help them support that initially unpopular war. Don’t try again to spend 500 million dollars to manipulate the Lebanese people against Hezbollah before they go to vote. When you do that, the Syrian regime will be more assured that opening up its political system will lead to American (and Saudi) manipulation… until both countries accept to become genuine friends of Syria. It is really wrong for the Obama administration to send an ambassador to Damascus while trying to finance those who are trying to overthrow the regime then to complain that engagement with Damascus is not working too well.

The United States must decide between solving the problems of the region, or letting it explode. Forget what your Syria experts say; Syria is where you need to start. This regime has 40 years of intensive and extensive experience in this region. Make use of it, THEN talk to the regime about what it takes to retire from power while the region is at peace.

Am I confident any of that will take place? … The regime’s reforms yes, the rest no. It is hard not to be pessimistic about what the region will go through this year.
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727 thoughts on “Talking about a Revolution: An Interview with Camille Otrakji

  1. BV

    Just to be clear, there is really only one issue that I disagree with Alex on, and that”s the 3 year, 5 year, whatever assumption on reform in Syria. To me its a basic point that you cannot reform without democracy (and hence accountability). I don’t think Bashar can bring about the reforms even if one were to assume he had the best of intentions. (And I am not a subscriber to the he has the best of intentions theory)

    On his other points, I actually agree with him. I don’t think removing this oppressive system will bring some utopic reformist, non-oppressive system. Only the hope that such a system is possible in the not so distant future. But I am under no illusion that things will be quite awful for some time to come.

    Maverick/AIG: Ethnic cleansing is a rather extreme way of expressing the “fear”.

    I don’t think that most minorities fear that the ‘salafis’ would hack them down with Machetes.

    But the curtailment of rights is certainly a possibility. And a larger scale emigration would likely follow suit. This is not some implausible scenario, nor is it a sectarian one. Just look at Tunis, people (Muslims) there are itching to leave becuase of the situation to join family in Europe.

    In all likelihood a similar situation will develop in Syria, and the bottom line is that such emigration patterns would probably be tilted more heavily towards minorities. Many of whom as has been brought up here, have businesses, are relatively well-to-do, etc.

    Anyways. Those are my 2-cents.

    Posted by Gabriel | May 3, 2011, 7:28 pm
  2. He told NPR that the Christians in Syria are convinced they will be ethnically cleansed if Assad falls.


    That’s the “card” or excuse Professor Josh has been selling his audience for the past several years. It’s rather stale these days.

    Hama (c. 1982) and today’s “troubles” may prove to be the REAL “ethnic cleansing”.

    Like Maverick, I don’t buy it. Take the chance on some ethnic strife but GAIN FREEDOM. As they say, no guts, no glory. that’s what our founding fathers believed in.

    Posted by Akbar Palace | May 3, 2011, 7:58 pm
  3. On ethnic cleaning, minority oppression and managing the violence, two points should be reviewed, discussed and taken into consideration:

    1) In recent history, we should look in more detail to the situation of religious minorities such as the Christians in Iraq. I believe that a portion of them have had paid a large price for being born into their faith by having to flee their residences and having to re-settle in Syria, Lebanon and Iraqi Kurdistan (notwithstanding the targeted killing in Christian regions / churches).

    2) With all due respect to those who are debating what might happen in the case of the potential breakdown of the state, I fail to see many of us (of any faith)acting to stop the potential bloodshed on the streets as:
    a) we are not there (!) and
    b) none of us are the leaders of significant groups or can influence the rioters if things get out of hand.

    I am not trying to be an alarmist as no one really knows what would happen (thus we are seeing lots of debate and hypotheses). However, I’m quite sure people participating in this discussion can come up with different possible scenarios based on recent (and not so recent history). However, I would caution against taking a full western centric view or projecting your personal views (and values) on the people there and the situation unfolding.

    I trust that many stand strongly against segregation, racism, violence and ta’ifya. Unfortunately, it only takes a few on the extremist (or opportunistic) side to change the equation (just look at some riots in the western world).

    Posted by Nabil | May 3, 2011, 9:54 pm
  4. Alex

    Your interview is calm, thorough and well documented. I sent it to many friends who are trying to understand why I still have hope for Syria to come out better from this crisis.
    Yet the reactions you are getting are so narrow-minded, heinous and close to hysteria that I am speechless and wonder if there is any point in discussing!

    Posted by why-discuss | May 3, 2011, 10:41 pm
  5. These videos were uploaded today within the last hour or so.

    The first one is relatively long. The ‘cameraman’ is trying to capture the passage of military convoy through the town of Saida, 7hawran. It is poor quality and you can the feel terror in the background. It succeeds in capturing the convoy of around 10 to 15 vehicles apparently on their way to the main city of Dera’a.

    The second video is short showing young men courageously trying and succeeding in retrieving a wounded body under a hail of bullets. It is presumably from Dera’a

    The third video presumably from 7ham showing demonstrators denouncing Bashar and expressing anger at the siege of Dera’a,

    Posted by iceman | May 3, 2011, 11:32 pm
  6. thanks Iceman.

    That first video is F-ing scary. Nothing barely happens in it – just those ominous military trucks… (really can’t imagine anyone could contrive this video and why would it be worth it? such an non-action film) – but…. the tension is fierce. And it is Terror, pure and simple. Armed vehicles passing through the middle of a town… just periodically random firing here and there to scare the shit out of everybody and make sure they stay away or else… obviously don’t give a damn if they actually hit someone. And as soon as they pass…. out of the wood work floods all the boys onto the street to pick up the shells left. One throws some shells and shouts “kuS ukhtak, ya Bashar!”…
    well, Luckily not Aurelius, I am proud to say that I understand enough of the language to get the full “nuance” of this Arabic… 🙂

    Posted by Zenobia | May 4, 2011, 12:34 am
  7. Nabil 203 is right on the mark and the risk is there, no question about it. The problem is that Assad’s Mafia thuggocracy is not Reformable, not now, not ever. The only solution is for minorities to internalize the lessons of Iraq’s GWB and act accordingly. They have no choice but to attempt to defend themselves, the best way they know how, politically within Syria’s Byzantine politics and on the international scene, and in any “other” way. They will have to move fast because history is moving at the speed of light, otherwise they will be toast and fodder when the Salafists take over Syria. Then it will be too late to mourn, complain and cry foul.

    Posted by HK | May 4, 2011, 1:09 am
  8. This is an interesting video. It is not just individual soldiers joining the revolutionaries on foot, but apparently they are doing it with an armoured carrier in a town near 7hims 4 days ago,

    Zenobia, you would be fluent in Arabic by the time Bashar and goons are out.

    Posted by iceman | May 4, 2011, 1:42 am
  9. icman you are so desperate to the fact that the army has joined the protesters ,we understand your wishes but the fact that the people are welcoming the army dose not make them protestors and dose not make the army with the rebels ,we did exactly the same in Homs when the army entered to finish the terror of your peaceful demonstrators ,shame on you all ,shame on you

    Posted by Louai | May 4, 2011, 2:47 am
  10. Louai,

    I have the perfect solution for you and for the Syrian people.

    I want Bashar Assad, Maher Assad, Asef Shawkat, Ghazi Kanaan’s body exhumed to be sent to Hazmieh also for desecration purposes…, Rustom Ghazali, and Bushra Assad to be handcuffed and shipped over to Lebanon for execution by a firing squad in Hazmieh, together with Jamil Al-Sayyed, Raymond Azar, Ali Jaber, Michel Suleiman, Emile Lahood, Amine Gemayel, Fouad Siniora, Ziad Abdel-Nour, Naji N. Najjar, and Elias Murr…
    The rest of the Ziocon crew belonging to the Infamous White House Murder INC, remain at large in USA, Israhell, France, and will remain Wanted for ever. Justice for the fallen Lebanese will only be served when ALL of those assassins meet their fate.

    After you deliver the Syrian murderers to Lebanon, you can keep Asma Al-Akhrass, make her President of Syria for a transitional period of 5 years, [ Alex loves that magic number ] with a new modern constitution that guarantees equal rights for all Syrians, the rule of law, democracy, transparent elections and civilized relations with your neighbors.

    Posted by HK | May 4, 2011, 3:15 am
  11. “Zenobia, you would be fluent in Arabic by the time Bashar and goons are out.”

    I am afraid that most persons on the face of the earth could be so by that time, if they start learning now.

    Posted by Badr | May 4, 2011, 3:33 am
  12. HK or( House Keeping?? )

    i will leave you with your dreams and keyboard and monitor and go to do some real work ,its good to write to me i used to feel ashamed of what some Syrian did in Lebanon but now i know why ! you see i didnt have to deal with them before , now i know why they used to mistread people like you , i dont blame them any more my civilized neighbor …the good news is that not all Lebanies people are like you ,actually you may not be a Lebanies neither a people .

    Posted by Louai | May 4, 2011, 3:36 am
  13. Bashar Assad’s Syria never had anything more to offer Washington & Israhell than blood — the blood of Lebanese, assassinated through the intricate machinations of the infamous White House Murder INC, in the Levant, via its close liaison with Asef Shawkat since 2000. Now that the regime is letting its own blood, the blood of Syrians, will the leader of the “free world” finally stop negotiating in blood? A nation that has reckoned honestly with its own failings throughout its history has not only the prerogative but the duty for the American people to lead with the truth, throwing the rascals on the Potomac out in jail. The danger of leading from behind the barbaric machinations of the odious White House Murder INC, is that history will pass you by….

    With tensions in MENA & the Persian Gulf building in the lead-up to the withdrawal of U.S. forces from Iraq, ending the war in Afghanistan, after the theatrical assassination of OBL, critically releases U.S. forces for operations elsewhere….
    So where is the Ziocon’s next target?

    Posted by HK | May 4, 2011, 3:47 am
  14. Unfortunately I see no way out for Syria, because Syria is inside the borders of american interest-zone to implement the “Greater Middel East” project.

    Posted by hortladi | May 4, 2011, 4:37 am
  15. I think Bassam Haddad’s recent piece for Jazeera is relevant to this discussion:

    When Syrian authorities or their supporters get fixated exclusively on micro-level events on the ground (eg, who shot whom first in this or that instance, and how some officers were injured or killed), they replicate the mantra of US or Israeli officials towards similar micro-level events in the region while ignoring the deplorable structural violence they unleashed on populations of the region over a period of several decades, directly or by proxy.

    It is the same with dictatorships, except it is even worse in these latter cases – because foreign states are not expected to prioritise the welfare of other populations, while rulers are obligated to protect their own people.

    The mantras of foreign infiltrators, foreign hands, foreign money/arms, and foreign plots may work if nothing in the prior decades might cause an organic uprising.

    But there is ample evidence that the majority of the population in countries such as Syria would like an end to arbitrary rule, one party rule, and heavy-handed violence/silencing as means to conflict management and governing (I’m allergic to the word “governance”, for now).

    Any observer of Syria (or Egypt, Tunisia, Libya, Bahrain, or Yemen for that matter) during the past few decades can point to numerous instances and institutions that symbolise suppression, exclusion, and silencing.

    The fact that there have been problematic designs by the United States and Israel against the Syrian regime’s confrontational stance in the region does not absolve the Syrian regime from protecting its citizens nor from ending exclusionary practises.

    Posted by sean | May 4, 2011, 4:53 am
  16. 1.Is it my impression or has AlJazeera toned down on Syria suddenly??

    2.I read on SC one commentator argue that the opposition does not want to talk to the people…

    I wonder how could someone believe this? Is it hypocrisy?

    First it is weird to claim the opposition is not part and parcel of the Syrian people and fabric and second everything indicates it is those in power who are not interested in talking to the people.

    How can alleged rational human beings disagree so much? Or hold exactly the opposite argument?

    It has been my point on the forum. As a general rule we cannot engage in constructive discussion when one side is only interested in convincing and not learning.

    Alex here did not want to engage in a genuine discussion defined as one where you are open to change your beliefs. He came to suggest a different perspective or take on the matter and leave. Which is fine.

    But then the discussion will stop after a while as we hit a stumbling block.

    I thought on the internet we could produce ideal debating conditions and some glimpse on the truth could be obtained since there is no coercion or pressure.

    Posted by rm | May 4, 2011, 6:10 am
  17. Here is a glimpse on the Truth about the infamous White House Murder INC, in action:

    ” They made sure not to distract from the royal wedding in London…” And they piously waited for Karol Józef Wojtyła’s, John Paul II beatification festivities to finish in Rome…. On the other hand, the man who has basically run the country since 2006, Robert Gates, got his big “win” just as he is about to exit the Pentagon in June, shuffling the whole deck of strategic cards in DC, with those who will guide policy for the next decade, no matter who is President in 2012…
    US of A land of miracles, LOL

    “One of the points about distractions is that everything that they do is destabilizing. ”

    The main point about the current distractions and utter Psy-ops, is that as the sheeple are caught up in them there are dozens of other things going on that they are missing. I think that’s by design and even when it’s not, opportunists are quick to pounce…

    When Obama visits ‘ground zero’ in New York this Thursday, the theatre of the absurd will go from bad to worse. He couldn’t get Bush to join him in this perverted orgy of the success of death and lies but possibly the creep Giuliani will be there to silently smile about his role in mass murder and cover up…

    Maybe Obama will finally explain to the 9/11 families just how Bin Laden blew up the 3 towers in NYC, and where are the planes that “supposedly crashed” on the Pentagon & Pennsylvania…without any real debris to be found, but a couple of gaping holes with high explosives.

    Nah … now I’m being absurd.

    Posted by HK | May 4, 2011, 6:36 am
  18. HK’s Brain: Exposed


    Did you get our Qifa Nakbi condolence card? I know the untimely demise of Usama bin Laden is difficult pill to swallow. I’ll understand if you need more time to grieve.

    After you deliver the Syrian murderers to Lebanon, you can keep Asma Al-Akhrass, make her President of Syria for a transitional period of 5 years, [ Alex loves that magic number ] with a new modern constitution that guarantees equal rights for all Syrians, the rule of law, democracy, transparent elections and civilized relations with your neighbors.

    BTW – Since you are so enamoured with Hezbollah, can you tell the forum is Hezbollah stands for the same things you do? Namely: “guarantees equal rights for all Lebanese, the rule of law, democracy, transparent elections and civilized relations with your neighbors”?

    Posted by Akbar Palace | May 4, 2011, 7:13 am
  19. HK,

    You’re not being absurd, 9-11 never happened.

    Maybe Obama will finally explain to the 9/11 families just how Bin Laden blew up the 3 towers in NYC, and where are the planes that “supposedly crashed” on the Pentagon & Pennsylvania…without any real debris to be found, but a couple of gaping holes with high explosives.

    Nah … now I’m being absurd.

    Click to access fullreport.pdf

    Posted by Akbar Palace | May 4, 2011, 7:25 am
  20. AP, 218:

    Do me a favor Please: Go to Yerushalayim where the Butcher/vegetable Ariel Sharon is lying motionless for 6 years and counting…
    Come up close and personal and whisper in his ear that I have been praying for his demise, incapacitation, agony and suffering for him and his family, friends and beyond since July 2001, when he ordered MOSSAD/AMAN to initiate the final phases for the brutal assassination of Mr. Elie Hobeika, using the services of the Infamous White House Murder INC, and Asef Shawkat’s coterie of Goons in Langley and in Lebanon…
    Whisper clearly in Ariel Sharon’s despicable ugly ears, that he will not quit this World to meet Satan in Hell for Ever until I say so, because with my prayers alone to God, Jesus Christ and Holy Mary, I was granted my wish in avenging the blood of Elie Hobeika, Fares Sweidan, Dimitri Ajram and Walid El-Zein, murdered in cold blood on January 24th 2002 in Hazmieh, by Ariel Sharon, GWB and Asef Shawkat, via the odious White House Murder INC, and its local Lebanese thugs in Yarze.

    Tell Ariel Sharon that I did not need to send into Israel Navy Seals, Sayaret Metkal, Caesarea, Kidon, JSOC, USSOCOM or any other covert teams. It was only through daily intense prayers that I was granted my wish, and Ariel Sharon will remain a vegetable and will go to Hell for Eternity, only when I say so. The same fate awaits ALL those who participated in this ugly machination against Elie Hobeika since 82, 86,97-2001… That is God’s wish and his generous blessings to me, to Elie’s numerous faithful friends and his family at large.

    Thanks. HK

    Posted by HK | May 4, 2011, 8:21 am
  21. HK’s Utopian Islamic Paradise Inc.


    Can you prove “Ariel Sharon” really existed? I believe he is just a construct intended to boost Murder Inc. and ZioCon PsyOps.

    Where are the pictures of this “Ariel Sharon” dying in the hospital?

    As far as doing “favors”, I’ll consider it once you conduct a dialogue instead of spreading Islamic Conspiracies on this website. This isn’t a bin Landen madrassah here. We think, analyze and dialogue.

    Regarding your Hezbo friends, why don’t you expect the same from them that expect from everyone else?

    Posted by Akbar Palace | May 4, 2011, 9:26 am
  22. The Butcher Bashar Assad is dangling a peace carrot in front of Obushma and Israeli Ziocon Benjamin Netanyahu. On Sunday, news broke out that the Syrian regime had invited a prominent Israeli rabbi ”to visit the country where many of his forefathers are buried, and to pray at their Damascus gravesites.” According to the same report, ”not only was [the small Jewish community in Syria] doing well, but it backs Bashar Assad, and believes that he is the best possible leader for them…”

    Posted by HK | May 4, 2011, 9:50 am
  23. Dear Alex
    As a person living in Syria all my life I completely agree with your analysis of the current crisis in Syrian . It is a realistic and unbiased approach that reflects the views of majority of Syrians that I know . As for those cynics ; had they been in Homs those nights -a week ago- and experienced the howling of “packs of Takfiri wolves ” attacking their houses with the accompaniment of calls from mosques for Jihad sending shivering panic to their bones, a scene reminiscent of nightmarish horror films , they might have had second thought about their comments .
    Thanks a lot

    Posted by Nizar | May 4, 2011, 9:54 am
  24. HK,

    Why is your friend Hassan Nasrallah such good friends with the “butcher” Bashar Assad?

    BTW – no schtoopid rabbi speaks for the Israeli government unless they’re an MK (Minister of Knesset). No “butcher” like Assad can “dangle a peace carrot” IMHO.

    Posted by Akbar Palace | May 4, 2011, 10:27 am
  25. QN,

    Please bear with me, I know that you are generous enough to indulge with this communication, because I received an avalanche of emails the last few weeks, months, and I will say this ounce, in response to all the wonderful people who obviously were moved by the issue of Elie being raised here:


    In response to an outpouring of messages praising Mr. Elie HOBEIKA, his life, his legacy and actions in the service of Lebanon.

    You have written so many messages of condolences etc, since Elie Hobeika was assassinated, that I’ve been overwhelmed at the task of answering them all. But know this, all of them meant something, all of them moved me deeply, all were appreciated, and all were read. Elie Hobeika was larger than life and there was never a room he entered that he left without making his mark. At some point in his life, he passed from being merely memorable to being legendary.

    In the twenty-eight years he was in the service of Lebanon, Elie Hobeika concentrated on the task of defending his country and he did so, exceedingly well. In the next few years left to him, he put all his efforts into the art of being a terrific son, a loving father, a unique politician, a brother of great substance, a beloved Leader, and a friend to tens of thousands. Out of politics, the hero let his genius for humor flourish. Always in motion he made his rounds in Beirut each day and no one besides himself knew how many stops he put in during a given day. He was like a bee going from flower to flower, pollinating his world with his generous gift for friendships, wit, flexibility and acumen.

    Elie Hobeika was a man’s man, a soldier’s soldier, a heroes’ hero, a natural Leader. There was nothing soft or teddy-bearish about him. His simplicity was extraordinary. He died without ever complaining about anything. I think he loved ALL his extended family and friends with his body and soul, yet no one ever lived who was less articulate in expressing that love. On the day that I told him that there was nothing more to be done for him, ” They want you out, I said, “. He simply said “Don’t worry about it”. I’ve had a great life. No one’s had a life like me. Everyone should be so lucky.”

    Elie Hobeika died with exemplary courage, as one would expect.
    He never complained about pain or whimpered or cried out. His death was HEROIC . He never quit fighting, never surrendered, and never gave up. He died like a king.

    He died like The Great Phoenix, . . . for the world, which seems To lie before us like a land of dreams, So various, so beautiful, so new, Hath really neither joy, nor love, nor light, Nor certitude, nor peace, nor help from pain; And we are here as on a darkling plain Swept with confused alarms of struggle and flight, Where ignorant armies clash by night….

    Elie, RIP for EVER, and God willing, Hell and infamy to all those associated with the Infamous White House Murder INC, soonest.

    Posted by HK | May 4, 2011, 10:34 am
  26. Qifa Nakbi is now offering one-of-a-kind Sickness Bags with the QN “Smoking Cow” Logo at reduced prices:

    $1 ea


    $25 for a box of 50

    Posted by Akbar Palace | May 4, 2011, 10:51 am
  27. The origin of AP’s blathering:

    The Ziocon Bibi schooled by Jabotinsky, “reflects the emotions and thoughts of the general public in Israhell.” My understanding, from Haggai Ram (“Iranophobia”), Eyal Weizman (“Hollow Lands”), Avigail Abarbanel (“Israel’s Growing Insanity”), and Karin Friedemann (“The Emotional Violence of Jewish Advocacy”) is that the psychosis– Abarbanel’s term– that supports Netanyahu is taught, even indoctrinated into Israelis at every level and crevice of their lives…?
    Taking it one frightening step further, Robert Aumann’s Rational Institute at Hebrew University manages the system of indoctrination with Skinnerian efficiency raised to Nobel laureate degree. Pathetic!

    Posted by HK | May 4, 2011, 11:46 am
  28. Really???? Elie Hobeika a hero???? With all the blood on his hands?? Or maybe if it is not your blood, it is OK?
    Can we be a little more objective and humane and get out of our “tribal” alliances?
    I think each and every “zaiim” from the Lebanese civil war can not be called human let alone hero.
    This is my last post, so do not bother respond. It is just vey sad for me to see how backwords we are as a society.

    Posted by Sheila | May 4, 2011, 11:54 am
  29. rm,

    Why do you think al-jazeera toned down on Syria recently? This is shown currently on its main page

    Also regarding your observation abut SC commentators:
    According to the regime’s internet security regiment, currently assigned the task of putting down the cyber-space revolt on SC and similar sites, there is no such thing as opposition. According to them this whole thing is a figment of the imagination made possible by the new technology. The ‘trouble makers’ are INTRUDERS and according to the interviewee of the main post here they do not qualify to be called ‘SYRIAN PEOPLE’, and lastly but not least Bashar’s popularity rating has risen as of late to 99%.


    There were also demonstrations in Aleppo as of last night,

    Posted by iceman | May 4, 2011, 11:59 am
  30. Sheila,

    I hope this is not your last post because of this comment. The place is a zoo, and you should simply take things in stride. Find the one or two people worth bringing up issues with, and ignore the rest.

    Posted by Gabriel | May 4, 2011, 12:06 pm
  31. Hezbollah begun making contingency plans for the possible overthrow of Bashar Assad and his goons since February 12th 2008, following the HIT on Imad F. Moughnieh by the infamous White House Murder INC, with Asef Shawkat… ” if Hezbollah behaves true to form, contingency planning must be well underway for years.”

    Posted by HK | May 4, 2011, 12:09 pm
  32. People of Syria and the Middle East at large have acquired a new level of political sophistication and are wary of hidden motives behind empty rhetoric and inconsistencies that speak volumes about what is wrong with the Western approach toward the Middle East for decades. Therefore, it is appropriate to speak of a new “Assad Free” Middle East that is relying on its dynamic population and their religions, culture and history to address the various obstacles that are partly imposed by outside forces and that hinder the region’s progress and dilute its identity. There are of course serious challenges ahead that can only be resolved by unity, independence, resistance and regional cooperation as a hallmark of the region’s identity.

    Posted by HK | May 4, 2011, 12:43 pm
  33. ضغط دولي
    في هذه الأثناء، تواصل الضغط الدولي على النظام السوري حيث نصحت فرنسا المقيمين في سوريا بمغادرتها إلى حين عودة الوضع إلى طبيعته، كما حثت الأشخاص الذين كانوا يعتزمون زيارة سوريا على تأجيل رحلاتهم، مع إقرارها بأن الرعايا الأجانب لم يتعرضوا حتى الآن إلى تهديد مباشر.

    في الوقت نفسه، قال وزير الخارجية الفرنسي آلن جوبيه اليوم إن بلاده تريد أن يتخذ الاتحاد الأوروبي عقوبات بحق الرئيس السوري بشار الأسد معتبرا أنه سيتم إسقاطه إذا استمر قمع المظاهرات.

    وأضاف جوبيه “نحن مع شركائنا في الاتحاد الأوروبي بصدد إعداد عقوبات تستهدف عددا من الشخصيات ونريد نحن الفرنسيين أن يدرج بشار الأسد على هذه اللائحة” مؤكدا أن “عليه أن يكف عن قمع شعبه وأن يتوقف فورا عن استعمال العنف وإلا فان العملية التي ستؤدي إلى الإطاحة به سيكون لا مفر منها”.

    ويضاف الموقف الفرنسي إلى تصريحات أميركية شديدة اللهجة عبرت عن الانزعاج من العملية العسكرية السورية في درعا التي تشمل استخدام الدبابات والاعتقالات التعسفية ووصفت هذه الأعمال بأنها “إجراءات همجية”.

    I do not think it is a good idea for the French or the Europeans to be directly involved in bringing down the Assad regime as implied above. Sanctions against the regime should be welcomed however.

    The Syrian people should be able to do it on their own, and they can definitely do it. That is the only way they can achieve real independence and with honor and pride.

    Posted by iceman | May 4, 2011, 1:44 pm
  34. Sean @215. That is an excellent article and excellent quote you quoted. The focus on micro-events is always something that bugged me. And the “foreign hands, conspiracy” narratives that all these Arab dictators have in common…

    Sheila @228. You must be new here 🙂 HK is a rabid Elie Hobeika fanboy who suffers of many interesting delusions and often post bizarre rants. You’ll learn to just skip over his comments in time…

    Posted by Bad Vilbel | May 4, 2011, 2:04 pm
  35. HK

    Can I ask you something? Are you related to Elie Hobeika?

    Posted by Qifa Nabki | May 4, 2011, 2:14 pm
  36. ….معلومات عن لقاء اميريكي ايراني لاستكمال مناقشة النقاط العالقة بين البلدين

    Now that some Nato troops can be released from the Afghan theater of operations, Syria and the Assad thuggocracy will be next in the line of fire.

    “…an estimated 30000 Pakistani personnel provide security for Bahrain’s Dictators, where the US’ Fifth Fleet, which is the anchor sheet of US regional strategies in the region, is based. US would factor in the unique status of Pakistan as the Praetorian guards of the Saudi Wahhabi regime if a major crisis arises in the Persian Gulf region.”
    US pressure on Pakistan is needed to make itself readily available to the ongoing concert of shady powers working diligently on manufactured and contrived events, in order to limit expanding Persian influence in the new Middle East. Its another risky game Pakistan must play with the Ziocons & Obushma’s White House Murder INC, given that it will exacerbate the Sunni-Shi’a friction within and throughout the whole area.
    Meantime in Washington DC, the HQ of the infamous White House Murder INC, nurtured, used and amplified by the Arch-criminal Dick Cheney since 2000, former Deputy Assistant Secretary of State under three different administrations Steve R. Pieczenik says he is prepared to tell a federal grand jury the name of a top US general who told him directly 9/11 was a false flag attack wall to wall.

    Posted by HK | May 4, 2011, 2:17 pm
  37. QN,

    I am against shutting people up. On the other hand, HK does make reading this blog more difficult and most of his posts are only very slightly related. How about giving him a thread of his own?

    Posted by AIG | May 4, 2011, 2:31 pm
  38. Who are the ‘shabi7ha’ (or the ghostly thugs) roaming all over Syria? Their history goes way back to the time Bashar took over power. The Shaba7h(or ghost) label has been earned, I just discovered, because it seems the Shabbi7ha have preference to driving the Mercedes Model which is referred to in Lebanon and Syria as the Shaba7h (ghost). These are thugs in style with very close blood ties to Bashar himself.

    فساد آل الحاكم “مافيا سوريا نمير الأسد

    *** نمير الأسد ***

    بطل الحلقة الثامنة من مسلسل فساد آل الحاكم .. مافيا سورية الحديثة.

    هو ابن بديع الأسد أحد ابناء عموم الرئيس السوري بشار الأسد.

    من مواليد القرداحة ويعد من الجيل الثالث من أسر عصابات مافيا الأسد المالكة لسوريا.

    موبقات هذا الغلام هي توجيه رسالة مفادها أنه أكبر من أي قانون، وأنه قادر على الوصول إلى مايريد دون عوائق … تحت حماية عناصر الأمن وتسهيلات من الحاكم نفسه !!
    استطاع نمير الأسد منذ ان ورث ابن عمه بشار الأسد رئاسة الجمهورية أن يتزعم عصابة للسطو المسلح كان نشاطها يتركز في الساحل السوري ولبنان وهو الرجل الثاني في عصابة “الشبيحة” بعد قريبه صاحب اللقب “شيخ الجبل” !!!

    شهد السوريون في آخر سنتين اقتراب نشاطات هذه العصابة من العاصمة دمشق. ويقول البعض أن أحد أسباب الاقتراب من دمشق هو عدم وجود التسهيلات لعصابة نمير الأسد على الأراضي اللبنانية كما كانت في السابق قبل انسحاب الجيش السوري.

    يُشار إلى أن الرئيس بشار الأسد شنّ منذ ما قبل توليه رئاسة الجمهورية حملة على بعض أبناء العمومة المتهمين بتشكيل عصابات “مافيا” في الساحل السوري بالذات خوفاً من استيلائهم على الحكم (الورثة)، بتكليف من الرئيس السوري الراحل حافظ الأسد، الذي رآى في نشاطهم تشويهاً لسمعة الأسرة. ويخشى المواطنون سطوة هؤلاء المتنفذين، الذين يُلقبون ألقاباً مختلفة، وأحدهم معروف بلقب “شيخ الجبل” في جبال سورية الغربية.

    منجزات نمير الأسد:

    لم يسمع السوريون بهذا الاسم إلا منذ سنوات قليلة نظراً لسنه الذي لايتجاوز الثلاثينات من عمره.
    في أيار (مايو) 2005 هاجمت عصابة نمير الأسد سيارة شرطة عسكرية و”حررت” سجيناً هو من أفراد العصابة.

    وعلى طريقة أفلام “الأكشن” الأمريكية اعترضت ثلاث سيارات مرسيدس (شبح) تعود أرقام السيارت إلى القصر الجمهوري ولكنها في الواقع تحت تصرف عصابات يُعرفون بـ “الشبيحة” القادمين من محافظة اللاذقية سيارة سجن تابعة للشرطة العسكرية عند جسر حرستا على طريق دمشق – حلب، وقامت “بتحرير” مطلوب كانت سيارة الشرطة العسكرية تنقله إلى المحكمة للاستماع على أقواله.

    والسيارات الثلاثة تعود لعصابة نُمير الأسد التي علمت بموضوع نقل أحد أعضائها المعتقلين إلى المحكمة العسكرية فقامت بمتابعة السيارة العسكرية وأوقفتها عند جسر حرستا وأحاط المسلحون بها من كل جانب ثم أطلقوا سراح زميلهم الذي انضم إليهم.

    وعمدت السلطات السورية فوراً إلى معاقبة قائد موقع دمشق في الشرطة العسكرية العميد ناظم درويش وحولته إلى المقر العام دون مهمة بانتظار قرار تسريحه الذي سيصدر في شهر تموز/ يوليو، كما هو متوقع. لكن السلطات الأمنية استطاعت لاحقا القبض على السجين الهارب.

    وكان المدعو نمير الأسد هرب من السجن وعاد لممارسة نشاطه بالسطو المسلح على الأماكن العامة وممتلكات المواطنين. وكان قد استخدم اسم عائلته لإطلاق سراحه مدعمة بمبلغ نصف مليون دولار رشوة لضباط الأمن مقابل تركه “يهرب” من السجن علماً بأن الرئيس بشار على علم بهذا الأمر ولم يمانع هرب نمير كونه من أولاد العم!!

    يجدر القول أن نمير الاسد هو رئيس العصابة التي سطت على المال في فندق السمير اميس في صيف عام 2004 بدمشق..

    وفي شباط (فبراير) 2005 وفي حادثة هي الأولى من نوعها في مدينة دمشق استغل أربعة لصوص حالة الأمن والاستقرار التي تعيشها سورية وقاموا باقتحام شركة الهرم للحوالات قرب مؤسسة البريد بدمشق, وسرقوا نحو 43 مليون ليرة سورية تحت التهديد بالسلاح الذي كان اللصوص يحملونه.‏‏ وحرصت سوريا الحرة على تقديم عرض كامل للفيديو كليب لعملية السطو والذي تم تسجيله من قبل كاميرة المصرف في وضح النهار.

    وأكد السيد وزير الداخلية غازي كنعان آنذاك على الحرص الكامل لدى الوزارة لمعرفة أولئك المجرمين, فكانت الاجتماعات المكثفة في مكتب الأمن القومي لما لهذا الموضوع من تأثير على أمن واستقرار البلد والاستثمار أيضاً وقد تمكنت من التوصل إلى معرفة الأشخاص الذين قاموا بتلك العملية وإلقاء القبض عليهم بعد عملية اشتباك مع العصابة في الجرجانية منطقة الزبداني المكان الذي استقرت فيه العصابة.‏ ‏‏

    وعندما علم ان عملية السطو كانت تابعة لعصابة الأسد, أبلغ وزير الداخلية غازي كنعان الرئيس بشار الأسد بتطورات ونتائج التحقيق والذي كان في زيارة رسمية للأردن في ذلك الوقت.

    وأخبر الرئيس بشار الوزير بأنه لابد من اتخاذ الإجراءات اللازمة تجاه أي كان بغض النظر. كلام مشجع وجميل من رئيسنا المفدى لوكان صحيحاً وصادقاً. نقول هذا الكلام لأنه بعد القبض على نمير الأسد تم تهريبه من السجن بمعرفة بشار الأسد شخصياً … وهو اليوم طليق يرزق ومايزال يمارس هواية السطو المسلح مابين الساحل السوري والعاصمة دمشق.

    الجريمة التي حصلت أخذت اهتماماً كبيراً من وزارة الداخلية وبدأت متابعتها من كافة الوحدات الشرطية حتى وصلت معلومة مفادها أن هذه المجموعة تتواجد في الجرجانية بمنطقة الزبداني وفي مكان غير معروف تمت متابعة هذه المعلومة إلى أن تم الامكان من التأكد من معلومة موثقة أن هذه المجموعة سترسل أحد الأشخاص إلى مدينة حمص لإحضار بعض الحاجيات,‏ ‏‏وستلتقي بشخص على مفرق القصير في الساعة السابعة والنصف صباحا.ً

    اتصلت عناصر وزارة الداخلية برئيس فرع الأمن الجنائي بحمص وطلبت منه التواجد في المكان المذكور وبشكل غير معروف ومعرفة هذا الشخص أو على الأقل معرفة نوع السيارة التي سوف تحضر من حيث اللون والرقم والنوع ومتابعتها من القصير إلى دمشق أثناء العودة دون التعرض لسائقها.‏ ‏‏

    وفي الساعة الثامنة صباحاً علم العميد محمد علي الصالح مدير إدارة الأمن الجنائي رئيس فرع الأمن الجنائي بحمص أن السيارة قد وصلت والتقت بشخص لمدة حوالي نصف ساعة ثم توجهت إلى مدينة دمشق, وتم إعطائه نوع السيارة ورقمها ولونها وهي تكسي لون ذهبي أوعز بعد ذلك بتحريك الدوريات بسيارات مختلفة على طريق حمص – دمشق وعلى كافة المفارق المؤدية إلى الجرجانية بمنطقة الزبداني, وبقيت السيارة تحت أبصار رئيس فرع الأمن الجنائي بحمص وكان برفقته ضابط آخر بسيارة أخرى حتى وصلت السيارة المذكورة إلى منطقة عدرا حينها تولت الدوريات من إدارة الأمن الجنائي متابعة هذه السيارة ومن ثم فرع الأمن الجنائي بدمشق وبشكل منسق جداً, اجتازت السيارة مدينة دمشق متوجهة نحو الزبداني إلى ان وصلت إلى بلدة الجرجانية, وكان العميد على اتصال دائم مع كافة هذه الدوريات.

    وطلب العميد منه عدم التعرض إلى هذا الشخص على الإطلاق ولا يجوز بأي شكل من الأشكال أن يلاحظ أن أحداً يلاحقه ويراقبه, توقفت السيارة بعد ذلك أمام أحد الأبنية ونزل منها السائق إلى إحدى الشقق ثم خرج بعد عشر دقائق وتوجه إلى مكان آخر وأحضر معه أحد العمال لاصلاح شوفاج في الشقة وقبل أن ينتهي من إصلاح الشوفاج ذهب بمفرده إلى مطعم وأحضر مواد غذائية تقدر لستة أشخاص, ثم دخل نفس الشقة وخرج برفقة العاملين اللذين كانا بالشقة وبقي الطعام بنفس الشقة, طلبت من الدورية مراقبة هذه السيارة دون التعرض لسائقها على الإطلاق لعل هناك مكان آخر يمكن أن يتوجه إليه, توجهت السيارة إلى مدينة دمشق وتوقفت عند عدة محلات ثم استقرت في ركن الدين.

    وطلب العميد بعد ذلك إحضار تلك السيارة والسائق إلى إدارة الأمن الجنائي لتدقيق وضع هذا الشخص وعلاقته بهذه العصابة وعلى الفور تبين أن هذه العصابة تقيم في نفس الشقة التي ذهب إليها هذا السائق وأنه كان بمدينة حمص بتكليف منهم.‏ ‏‏

    أعلم العميد وزارة الداخلية بهذا الموضوع ونسق مع كافة الوحدات الشرطية المعنية منها وحدة المهام الخاصة, قيادة شرطة دمشق وريفها وفرع الأمن الجنائي بدمشق وريفها ومنطقة الزبداني.‏ ‏‏

    وبعد ان تم إجراء دراسة كاملة عن البناء والشقة والشارع توجهت عناصر الأمن الجنائي جميعاً إلى البلدة المذكورة مساءً وانتظرت وبعد أن وضعت خطة محكمة للتعامل مع هذه العصابة الخطرة, بدأت عملية اقتحام الشقة بعد أن تم تطويق المنطقة بشكل دقيق وكامل بحيث لا يمكن أن يفر أي فرد من أفراد العصابة ولا بأي شكل من الأشكال وقد تولى قائد وحدة المهام الخاصة وعناصره عملية الاقتحام وبدأت عملية الاقتحام والاشتباك مع أفراد العصابة بعد أن طلب منهم تسليم أنفسهم وحين رفضوا وباشروا بإطلاق النار ورمي القنابل على أفراد عناصر الأمن الجنائي, قامت بتوجيه النار واستمرت العملية ساعة ونصف متصلة وبعد الانتهاء من العملية تبين مقتل اثنين من أفراد العصابة هما باسل محمد زاهد من دمشق وعمار صبرا أيضاً.‏ ‏‏

    وتم القاء القبض على سائر سليمان وحسان الآغا ونمير بديع لأسد. وجميعهم لهم سوابق, وكان من نتيجة العملية جرح سبعة من عناصر الأمن واستشهاد الشرطي وسيم وردة .‏ ‏‏

    بتوجيه من السيد وزير الداخلية تم تكليف وحدة المهام الخاصة لمتابعة هؤلاء المجرمين المطلوبين للعدالة وقاموا بالتنسيق مع إدارة الأمن الجنائي بوضع خطة ودراسة للمكان المتواجدين فيه وقسموا العمل إلى مجموعات اقتحام ومداهمة ومجموعة تغطية وعزل وتطويق.‏ ‏‏

    وفي مساء يوم الثلاثاء وحتى صباح اليوم التالي قاموا بمراقبة مكثفة واستطلاع مستمر لتنفيذ المهمة على احسن وجه وتم تحديد الساعة السادسة صباحا من يوم الأربعاء للمواجهة وبإشرافهم مباشرة, ومن خلال مكبرات الصوت طلبوا من أفراد العصابة تسليم أنفسهم حتى يتم الابتعاد عن عمليات إطلاق النار وإزهاق بعض الأرواح الموجودة هناك, فرفضوا الانصياع لهذا الأمر, فقامت حينها مجموعة الاقتحام باقتحام الشقة حتى وصلت إلى الغرفة الموجودة فيها عناصر العصابة وتم إطلاق النار المتبادل وكانت العصابة قد ألقت بعدد من القنابل اليدوية الموجودة بين أيديهم, وأصبت ببعض الجروح بعدها تم الاشتباك المباشر وقتل اثنين من عناصر العصابة وجرح سبعة من عناصرنا واستشهد الشرطي وسيم وردة الذي أبلى بلاء حسنا مع رفاقه.‏ ‏‏

    وقامت عناصر الداخلية بعدها بإلقاء القبض على الباقين وصادرت الأسلحة الموجودة لديهم, كانت عبارة عن ثلاث بنادق روسية و ورشاشين وأحزمة ناسفة عدد اثنين وجهاز مراقبة لاسلكي وعصا كهربائية وصناديق فيها قنابل يدوية وأجهزة خلوية متعددة, بالإضافة إلى مبلغ يقدر ب¯ 32 مليون و 135 ألف و 425 ليرة سورية ونجري حالياً التحقيقات مع باقي أفراد العصابة.‏ ‏‏

    لم يتم الاكتفاء بتلك المعلومات بل تابعت ذلك من خلال لقاء أفراد العصابة الموقوفين لدى إدارة الأمن الجنائي وبرفقة العميد محمد علي صالح مدير الإدارة واللواء عبد الكريم صالح مدير إدارة التوجيه المعنوي في وزارة الداخلية وبموافقة شخصية من السيد وزير الداخلية تم القيام بإجراء اللقاءات التالية مع كل من:‏ ‏‏

    1 – نمير بديع الأسد: قال لقد خطط لنا من قبل أشخاص في موقع المسؤولية بوزارة الداخلية, وقمنا بالتحضير قبل أيام لتلك العملية.‏ ‏‏

    2 – محمد حسان الآغا: نفى معرفته بتلك العملية وقال انه لم يكن له أي دور في تلك العملية ومهمتي الوحيدة هي جلب أغراض خاصة لهم من طعام وسواه وقد تعرفت عليهم من قبل باسل محمد زاهد.‏ ‏‏

    3 – سائر سليمان قال:خططنا لتلك العملية كأي عمل يخطط له بهدف الحصول على مكاسب مادية.‏ ‏‏

    وقد ساعد تتبع مكالمات هاتفية لنمير في القبض عليه وعلى أفراد عصابته قرب الزبداني. ووالد نمير هو ابن عم الرئيس بشار الأسد، وتقول المصادر إنه توفي قبل عامين.

    من جانب آخر ذكرت مصادر في وزارة الداخلية أن وزير الداخلية اللواء غازي كنعان تلقى تهديدات جدية تتعلق بأولاده بعد اعتقال مجموعة نمير؛ وأن وزير الداخلية أخذ هذه التهديدات على محمل من الجد.

    ولكن…بعد كل الجهود والتضحيات من عناصر وزارة الداخلية والأمن الجنائي في القبض على أفراد عصابة نمير الأسد تم إطلاق سراح نمير “الأسد” فقط بعد سجنه لمدة أقل من شهر واحد وذلك بعلم وموافقة الرئيس السوري بشار الأسد !!!

    ما يصوره الشريط المرفق هو عملية من عمليات المافيا في الاستيلاء على أحد مكاتب تحويل الأموال، في بلد عربي يتمتع بالأمن والأمان، كما يصر مسؤولوه على تأكيد ذلك لشعبهم ولشعوب الأرض صباح مساء، وفيه أكثر من ستة عشر فرعاً أمنياً تحصي على المواطن أنفاسه، وتسمع دبيب النملة. ففي سورية الشقيقة، العام الماضي، جرت حادثة سرقة “مكتب الهرم” لتحويل الأموال الذي يقع في سنتر العاصمة دمشق. والشريط المرفق صّور أوتوماتيكياً بكاميرا المكتب، ويظهر فيه “نمير الأسد” (بـ”الكاسكيت”) الذي يقود عناصر المافيا التي سرقت مكتب الهرم لتحويل الأموال.

    بقي أن نذكر مشاهدي الشريط بأن السيد نمير (الأسد) حر طليق اليوم بعد أن قبض عليه وجرى تهريبه من السجن”.

    هذه هي سوريا بشار الأسد ، امتداداً لعائلة الأسد، أولاد العم وأولاد الخال…عصابات المافيا تنتهك ممتلكات الشعب السوري وتجني من المال الحرام مليارات الدولارات وأموالاً لاتأكلها النيران من سرقات غير شرعية كما هو حال بطل قصتنا هذا الأسبوع نمير الأسد الذي بلغت فيه الوقاحة للسطو على حرمات أهل الشام في وضح النهار على طريقة “التشليح” ومعه رشاش اوتوماتيك مستعد لتفريغه في جسد من يقف في وجهه..
    والحكومة والأمن السوري يحميهم ويساعدهم …

    هذا النظام ( نظام المافيا ) … لايصلح له إلا التغيير الجذري، ومن ثم، مصادرة الأموال الغير شرعية التي نهبوها من الشعبين السوري واللبناني …وإعادتها إلى خزينة الدولة، ليستفيد منها الشعب المنهوب والمغلوب على أمره …

    كليب نمير الأسد: السطو المسلح على مكتب الأهرام للحوالات المصرفية

    Posted by iceman | May 4, 2011, 3:12 pm
  39. BV#234, Sean#215, Israeli-posters

    Taking this back to Alex’s original point when he was discussing “reform”, and his dismay that there was no reform in 2009-2011 but could completely understand why there was none in 2003 and again in 2005, etc….

    Bassam makes reference to “Structural Violence”. Creates and analogy between the Syrian case and the Israeli/American one.

    Some questions emerge:

    > It is obvious that many in the region have been willing to tolerate the “structural violence” imposed by their dictators so long as they saw (rightly or wrongly) a greater “structural violence” imposed on them from external “agents” as the US/Israel/fill in blank.

    It is obvious from Alex’s comment that despite his stated commitment to reform/democratization, that he was willing to forgo those while there were perceived threats against the “Syrian Nation”.

    The second aspect of this article is how (though it says it’s not as bad as the Syrian example), a strong analogy is drawn between this and the structural violence of the Israelis. How is this analogy received?

    Posted by Gabriel | May 4, 2011, 3:14 pm
  40. Structural violence analogies between the Assad Mafia, the US & Israhell aplenty…,

    Well for starters, the Ziocons did not really succeed in anything other than
    to help provide the nails for a coffin of a dying empire.
    Over the land of sports fans and nonstop mall-shopping, it all ends in mega-death. All that one can do is clutch one’s stomach and feel sick. Or go after the bastards and hope for miracles.

    Posted by HK | May 4, 2011, 3:19 pm
  41. Gabriel,

    Where is the analogy, I fail to see it. Israeli violence is a confrontation with an external enemy. Bashar is killing and suffocating his own people.

    How is Alex position even reasonable? Would any Israeli accept external threats as a reason to forgo individual rights to the extent of Syria? Of course not. Nations should be able to chew gum and walk at the same time. External threats can be countered while leaving citizens with most of their individual liberties, for example freedom of speech.

    Posted by AIG | May 4, 2011, 3:57 pm
  42. AIG:

    I was making reference to the article posted by Sean in Al-Jazeera, written by a chap called Bassam that discusses the question of “structural violence”, and the focus of those who practice it of diverting attention by focusing on micro-events.

    I find it interesting that there is a fair amount of common cause between “Arabs” critical of Alex’s position and “Israelis” on this forum who are equally critical of his position.

    Just wondering how you feel about the analogy drawn by Bassam, and the analogy that likely many here would actually agree with?

    Posted by Gabriel | May 4, 2011, 4:03 pm
  43. Where’s dontgetit ?

    Posted by R2D2 | May 4, 2011, 4:09 pm
  44. Addendum to point #242

    How is Alex position even reasonable?

    Given the question raised, the next question is how is the typical Israeli’s position reasonable (by the same logic).

    Posted by Gabriel | May 4, 2011, 4:10 pm
  45. Thanks AIG for echoing my comment @176.

    The SC ideologues cannot comprehend such reasoning. They also cannot explain why the demonstrators cannot be referred to as ‘SYRIAN PEOPLE’. Hence the total muteness on their part becomes understandable

    But we know why:
    They are not ‘SYRIAN PEOPLE’ = they are traitors.

    As it has been explicitly expressed by the interviewee on a site under his control on two occasions and conveniently deleted to avoid the embarrassment under the pretext of a fake ‘Alex’ impersonating the moderator!!!

    Posted by iceman | May 4, 2011, 4:11 pm
  46. “Where’s dontgetit ?”

    He’s busy putting together a ‘muqawama’ government.

    Posted by iceman | May 4, 2011, 4:14 pm
  47. Gabriel,

    Every person that wants a video camera in the West Bank can get one. There is internet service that is not cut, there are NGOs working on the ground. Israel is not hiding its “structural violence” nor denying it. We are just saying it is necessary for our security. Furthermore we do not see ourselves as the “father” of the Palestinians, they are in fact our enemies until a peace agreement is signed.

    So where is the analogy? When Assad says that the people of Dera’a and Homs are enemies of the Syrian people, I will see the analogy.

    If you read what Bassam writes, he admits that the analogy is far from perfect:
    “It is the same with dictatorships, except it is even worse in these latter cases – because foreign states are not expected to prioritise the welfare of other populations, while rulers are obligated to protect their own people.”

    I suspect he used this incorrect analogy to make Assad look even worse than the US and Israel.

    Posted by AIG | May 4, 2011, 4:19 pm
  48. Gabriel,

    You write:
    “Given the question raised, the next question is how is the typical Israeli’s position reasonable (by the same logic).”

    I don’t understand your question. When was the last time an Israeli government besieged an Israeli city with tanks and cut off its electricity and communications? It has never happened.

    It is quite simple. If the people of Dera’a or Homs or Banias are Syrian citizens, don’t treat them like the enemy. What is wrong with this position?

    Posted by AIG | May 4, 2011, 4:24 pm
  49. AIG:

    As per my original question in #239, I stated that the article thinks the Syrian example is worse than the Israeli “structural violence”.

    Every person that wants a video camera in the West Bank can get one. There is internet service that is not cut, there are NGOs working on the ground. Israel is not hiding its “structural violence” nor denying it.

    Judging by the amount of amateur videos coming out of Syria, the case seems no less true there.

    We’ve seen clips of the demonstrations. Clips of the tanks. And clips of the “structural violence”.

    And Alex doesn’t seem to have denied this violence. He simply attributed it to violent mobs in those towns.

    When Assad says that the people of Dera’a and Homs are enemies of the Syrian people, I will see the analogy.

    My question is academic. Let’s say he said it… how do you feel about this analogy?

    PS. In my view, “Assad” has said it in his actions, even if he hasn’t said it in words.

    Point #248.

    Bassam draws the analogy to Israeli treatment of the Palestinians. He is not suggesting Israelis are besieging Israeli towns.

    And if you say that you accept that analogy in principle (if the people of Der’aa are indeed “traitors” or “enemies of the Syrian people/nation”), and still hold that Alex’s position is “unreasonable”… then does that not make Israeli action against the Palestinians “unreasonable”?

    Posted by Gabriel | May 4, 2011, 4:45 pm
  50. Canadian media is finally becoming aware, almost one week late, of the disappearance of journalist Dorothy Parvaz upon arrival in Damascus,

    Will the Canadian government do anything about it?

    Posted by iceman | May 4, 2011, 4:49 pm
  51. Gabriel,

    The point is simple, things that are reasonable to do to enemies of a state by the state are not reasonable to do by the state against its own people. The state has responsibilities towards its citizens, much less towards its enemies.

    What is Israel is doing to Palestinians is reasonable because they are not Israeli citizens. If they were, it would not be reasonable.

    Posted by AIG | May 4, 2011, 4:53 pm
  52. I think we have a red herring argument going on here.

    Anyway here are some clips that are beginning to appear in western media. This is what is going on in Dera’a today, a real carnage,

    Posted by iceman | May 4, 2011, 4:56 pm
  53. Angry Arab, go figure, is now critcising Al Manar for focusing exclusively on Bahrain (as if it was the only revoluton)!

    He also quotes the following letter a friend who just left Damascus sent him (sorry for the long quote but I thought it quite relevant to is being said here):

    A reader sent me this: ” I’ve been waiting to leave Syria to write you. I’m an American who has been living in Damascus for the past year. It’s been incredibly frustrating to be over there and reading blogs like…which have become hugely focused, obsessive even, about the prospect of a fitna in Syria. I remember one article..which basically said if you are a well-off Christian or Alawi Syrian, you aren’t against the regime. While I think there was a more basic truth to that before, a problem with these analysts is they are not living in Syria and can’t see the events changing on the ground. I have seen so many of my Christian and even some Alawi friends change camp so fast it made my head spin. While the events in Egypt were happening I asked many of them “Do you think something like that could ever happen here?” and they all tutted their tongues and said “Never, we love our president, the only ones who don’t are the Muslim Brotherhood.” Those same people, literally just 2 months later, were subscribing to opposition newspapers (communist mostly), organizing meetings, and cursing Assad. It’s strange, and it’s unpredictable, but I doubt that it’s a phenomenon restricted to my group of contacts. I’d also like to point out, that of this group of friends, only the ones living in Latakia have gone out to protest. My friends in Damascus, especially the ones who changed camp complain “We want to do something but we don’t know how yet!” They don’t have the contacts to know where the protests will begin or how to get in touch with the larger opposition. If they are at all representative of the larger population, there are still tons and tons of people ready to take to the streets in Damascus that haven’t found the opportune moment yet. I would guess that once Damascus gets to that tipping point of chaos like Homs, Daraa or Latakia, you will see that the opposition is much bigger than a lot of these analysts imagined. At the same time, I have to admit there have been several events which point to the great tension and possibilty for violent conflict laying beneath the surface, which haven’t been reported on. 2 weeks ago I was sitting with friends in Souk Sarooja (which usually has about 400 people sitting in it), smoking argeela, when we heard yells coming from the side of the square. All we could see from behind a car was a mans arm, holding a giant dagger, going up and down as if he was stabbing or trying to stab something. Everyone rose from their seats. Some men ran to the scene, and there was a huge melee, at least 100 young men, attacking each other with brooms, chairs, whatever was around. We saw men running away with blood gushing from their heads. The whole fight suddenly dissapeared to a side street, and people were trying to flee in the other direction. The entire place was cleared out in under 3 minutes. I saw nothing about this incident written in the news.”

    Posted by rm | May 4, 2011, 4:57 pm
  54. The particular comment that was refered to in #245, is so far still there. Click here to check!

    Posted by Badr | May 4, 2011, 5:06 pm
  55. AIG:

    These are semantics. Talk of treachery is rampant in the Middle East (- Israel). We see it on an almost daily basis in Lebanon.

    The state clearly is differentiating between its “citizens” and those people it paints with a broad brush “the traitors” for whom it has no “moral responsibility”.

    Whether or not people have been explicit about this, there is an underlying truth that some people actually feel this way (See Badr’s comment #254).

    This charge of “treachery” then “justifies” the structural violence, and makes, in your own words, the position quite “reasonable”.

    Posted by Gabriel | May 4, 2011, 5:19 pm
  56. AIG,

    You’re an oxymoron on this blog.

    You’re tribal in your Jewishness, yet an Atheist …. and justify your existence on this land you call Israel because you hold a piece of paper that states you have a right to it and a “national” identity based on … what?

    Posted by R2D2 | May 4, 2011, 5:43 pm
  57. HK,

    Allah Yirhamo … He was a true Phoenician.

    Posted by R2D2 | May 4, 2011, 5:58 pm
  58. QN,

    Do you have any inside info if the Junior Assads prefer wearing “Ray Bans” ?

    I’m just trying to deduce their taste from the visual you posted on this post.

    Posted by R2D2 | May 4, 2011, 6:07 pm
  59. Note: Bashar drives German (BMW).

    Posted by R2D2 | May 4, 2011, 6:10 pm
  60. Thanks Badr for pointing that out. It seems to have been pushed down by other comments.

    But the complaint by the moderator about the ‘impersonator’ is still there. It is comment 50 in the same link you provided.

    And this was not the only comment with the same ‘message’.

    Posted by iceman | May 4, 2011, 6:24 pm
  61. Gentlemen,
    Thanks for the moral support and good advice on how to handle this blog. you are right, I am new, not only to this blog but to blogging period.

    Posted by Sheila | May 4, 2011, 6:45 pm
  62. # 245 and #254

    That cannot be the same Alex!

    Well the Al Jazeera article summed it up sweetly when it referred to micro events. It is an exercise in futility if we fret over the small stuff to provide evidence for a larger dynamic. But, if the apologists want to provide us with excuses filled with disinformation than I have a point to make:

    I may be wrong, but what I have seen is crowds of ordinary citizens protesting peacefully, although vociferously, holding up banners that express their battered feelings after decades of brutal suppression, some holding up loaves of bread. If we look at numbers, something that regime apologists scrutinize, per area or town, these numbers make up quite a considerable amount per town. Example, anything over 10,000 men in a town of half a million is a huge number. We need to look at the numbers in relation to each town, not Syria as a whole.
    In addition, there are many, many, who have not gone to the streets waiting for an opportune moment or are too scared to. There are Alawites who are strongly opposed to the Regime, along with other minorities.
    If the Damascenes organize and join the protests en masse, then it will be the end for the regime. Reluctance to do so does not read strong support for the regime, but fear of repercussions, not just from so called Takfiri groups, but the huge over hanging Moukhabarat goons that are proliferated across Damascus.

    Posted by Maverick | May 4, 2011, 6:55 pm
  63. Without resorting to ad hominem, what Camille said in the interview is so outrageous and out of touch with reality.

    Let’s start with obvious fabrications/wishful thinking/logical fallacies/contradictions:

    “But most Syrians would much rather see some meaningful reforms undertaken in a peaceful fashion over the next five years under the current regime, instead of trying to sweep the regime away and dealing with the prospect of sectarian civil war.”

    “For now, demonstrations must stop”

    If Bashar was really to undertake serious and genuine reforms, why should protests stop? In every civilized country in the world, there are protests and rallies and evolving political life. There is absolutely no evidence that reforms would be faster when there are no protests.

    But I can only guess as to why Camille demands a stop to protests: the regime’s only response to protesters demanding its downfall is brutality and barbaric repression (I believe we have overwhelming evidence for the existence of such brutality, if Camille is doubtful), and the regime knows full well that if protesters were left to their own devices they’d only grow and grow to numbers that will only embarrass Assad and show how unpopular and un-trustworthy to conduct reforms he is as far as the Syrian people are concerned….. Which brings me to the second point:

    If Bashar is truly popular and beloved by the silent majority, then why should protests stop and why should he worry about them? in fact, if he’s really popular, then why not conduct presidential elections under international supervision sooner than later?

    Camille says that at the outset the protesters’ demands were legitimate but then, after Bashar announced his plans for reforms, the only reason anyone would still protest is either him/her being a salafi or sectarian. This is completely untrue and hypocritical thing to claim: it must not be forgotten that there are people who do not trust the regime (and for very good reasons, for god sake, chief among them is the brutality it is putting on display now), WHAT ARE THE GUARANTEES THERE WOULD BE MEANINGFUL REFORMS?

    There are absolutely NONE. NADA. Zilch.

    You know, people still have legitimate reasons for not trusting the regime and its reforms. Take a look at this assortment of CVs and resumes and tell me, for the sake of everything sacred, are these lovely individuals capable of reform?

    Posted by democracynow | May 4, 2011, 7:32 pm
  64. Maverick:

    That cannot be the same Alex!

    Dakheel Rabak ya Maverick! Please don’t contest any truth given by Iceman. If he says it is so… it is so!

    Otherwise, you may inadvertently hurt his feelings :D.

    On that note, this is now the 2nd or 3rd time he brings it up in this forum. I’m surprised he’s the only one who caught it on SC.

    It makes me wonder…. any chance he may have written that comment and signed it Alex? What’s that expression again? “He who smelt it, dealt it”… or something like that.

    Posted by Gabriel | May 4, 2011, 7:42 pm
  65. I am skeptical about your assertion Maverick regarding those comments in light of points raised in this interview. But, I am not going to argue about it.

    But thanks for putting sanity back into a ‘red herring’ argument viz-a-viz events in Syria.


    Also there is no need to use foul language such as ‘oxymoron’ in order to disagree with someone. Let’s stick to reason because the guy still seems to have that faculty.

    My question to the same guy would be as follows: Can he reconcile to us the claim to being a Jew and atheist at the same time bearing in mind the following?

    1) A Jew is understood to be a monotheist. To my knowledge the claim to being monotheistic by the Jewish faith has not been renounced yet.

    2) Monotheism and atheism are diametrically opposite, or as HP would like to say antipodal.

    3) The only possible conclusion in order to be atheist in his case is to deny his Jewishness.

    4) Can he be courageous enough and deny either his Jewishness or his atheism?

    And please leave the so-called Jewish ‘nation’ out of this. You could argue on the basis of Hebraism but you still cannot escape the monotheistic ‘shackles’ as monotheism predates Judaism by millennia and the Hebrew tribes could still be classified within its bounds.

    Posted by iceman | May 4, 2011, 7:47 pm
  66. #263,

    BUZZ OFF if you cannot produce anything sensible.

    Posted by iceman | May 4, 2011, 8:14 pm
  67. Iceman,

    Who cares? You can be Jewish and atheist at the same time as much as you can be a Lebanese Shiaa who drinks alcohol and eats pork. Dont you know it is all cultural these days, sorta like a mafia hitman wearing a cross.


    you never know….SC has become a dungeon. You gotta check out some comments, insane!

    Posted by Maverick | May 4, 2011, 8:22 pm
  68. Maverick,

    “You can be Jewish and atheist at the same time “

    I would only accept this statement, if Judaism becomes somehow declared non-monotheistic. And in fact it has to deny any sort of belief in a ‘Divinity’ in order to admit it into the argument. And the reason I am saying that is to exclude paganism from the argument.

    You cannot be both.

    But you can still be Jew and eat pork or a Shia and drink alcohol. These are completely different issues.

    Posted by iceman | May 4, 2011, 8:41 pm
  69. Maverick is correct.

    Being Jewish is both a religion and a nation.

    R2D2 said:

    …justify your existence on this land you call Israel because you hold a piece of paper that states you have a right to it and a “national” identity based on … what

    Based on our own identification.

    You don’t have to recognize Israel, and we don’t have to recognize Palestine.

    Either way, they both exist due to the number of people who recognize themselves as such.

    And please leave the so-called Jewish ‘nation’ out of this.

    This would be akin to leaving the “so-called Palestinian ‘nation’ out of this”.

    In short, we have just shown that lots of people have “issues” with recognition of Israel and the Jewish People.


    Posted by Akbar Palace | May 4, 2011, 9:51 pm
  70. Iceman,
    I have a few friends who are jewish and athiests at the same time. They consider being a jew as an identity and a culture rather than a religion. For us, it is a little harder to understand.
    My question to AIG is: Are you an Arab Jew? Do you speak and read Arabic? Just wondering if you are able to read the parts of this blog that are in Arabic. I think it is great to have AIG’s voice. Even though we do not see eye to eye on many things, it is good to hear his take on things.

    Posted by Sheila | May 4, 2011, 9:58 pm
  71. heres an observation for ya:

    I have noticed that a lot of posts on QN, which has nothing to do with the Israeli/Palestinian issue end up being about exactly that, when, right at the end, the topic is exhausted and no one has any fresh opinions.
    It is like something to fall back on if there is nothing left to keep the flames of debate alive. It is also a reflection of the Arab citizen mentality, and as we all know taken advantage of by autocratic dictators who use it tirelessly to justify their rule.
    It is probably why Bashar and his clique have survived for so long. There is nothing evident to suggest the causal relation between the two, so i wont go about dressing it up in intellectual radadada, but just food for thought….and an attempt to curb the endless and boring Israel/Palestinian kiddy fight as shown above. This blog deserves better.

    Posted by Maverick | May 4, 2011, 10:10 pm
  72. The real question you should be asking yourself Iceman, is if you had two samples of Hummus, one from Israel and one from Lebanon, and you found the Israeli Hummus to be a lot more tastier and of better quality. Which will you buy?

    Posted by Maverick | May 4, 2011, 10:19 pm
  73. Holy Sh…. you guys are STILL at it…. i’m impressed at 270 comments, and i thought i was crazed but… …it really is a ‘zoo’….

    Posted by Zenobia | May 4, 2011, 10:21 pm
  74. although… a lot of it seems to be filled up with HK talking about Elie Hobeika….i really don’t understand WHY?…. strange

    Posted by Zenobia | May 4, 2011, 10:23 pm
  75. Maverick#266.

    I don’t go much to SC… I find QN smaller and cozier :D. But I agree, the comment section there is not very agreeable at all.

    Zenobia. Welcome to Little Lebanon- aka QN. Here we have extremist Maronites, extremist Sunnis, extremist Shia… You name it, we have it.

    You don’t need to understand the WHYs. Just accept :D.

    There’s a little for everyone’s tastes.

    Posted by Gabriel | May 4, 2011, 10:30 pm
  76. Sheila,

    Just an anecdote, but my first wife is Israeli. Her father was born in Israel (pre-state) to Syrian-born parents and her mother was born in Yemen. And, FYI, they never felt discrimination in Israel due to their brown skin;)

    They don’t consider themselves “arab jews”, but I understand your terminology.

    The father enjoys speaking arabic, but I don’t think he can read it.

    When we visited Turkey, my ex-father-in-law enjoyed speaking arabic to arab-turks he would meet.

    I agree, AIG’s voice is important since we don’t hear from many pro-Zionists here, especially on SC. I also think he is very articulate.

    Posted by Akbar Palace | May 4, 2011, 10:36 pm
  77. Sheilla, AP, Maverick,

    I understand what you guys are saying.

    But it still doesn’t add up.

    You’re saying here we have a group let’s say ‘X’ that wants to create an identity for itself on whatever basis and be recognized as such.

    The name chosen for ‘X’ by the group happens to designate a well known and well defined historical identity of a differnt kind than the one ‘X’ would like to define which admits atheism into its ranks.

    Judaism in this case needs to be redefined to admit such members. So far no scholar has declared Judaism as non-monotheistic.

    You cannot reconcile.

    Maverick we’re not talking hummus.

    Posted by iceman | May 4, 2011, 10:40 pm
  78. Guys! And Gals!

    It’s no time to fight now. We have bigger fish to fry. The Arabs and the Jews can get back to fighting after Bashar is deposed.

    To bring back the focus… here’s yet another video


    Maybe at some point after the successful banishment of Bashar from power, you can give us all a lesson on these new terms that Iceman has introduced us to:

    Hebraic, Hebrew, Jew, Judaism.

    He can’t work out the arithmetic in his head, and is having a hard time adding it all up.

    Posted by Gabriel | May 4, 2011, 11:07 pm
  79. ok. just cause you happen to be talking about this subject – I will bite and offer another two cents.
    I think being Jewish is an identity. And you get born with it – but then from that point on you get to chose what that means to you in terms of how you want to identify with this ‘jewishness’. So some people identify with this on several levels of historical association, culture, religion, or even ethnicity (even though i think that is not right), but the point is you can chose what you want to be.
    So I don’t think there is any contradiction because in America you don’t need an authority to define it for you. And I grew up with Jewish Americans and most of my best friends are Jewish, but that doesn’t necessarily make them religious. In fact I remember hearing a radio show with lots of Jewish Americans debating this question and there was even some new group that had formed that goes to Synagogue even though they didn’t believe in God so far in their life… because they wanted the religion and the culture without the god part. Seemed strange, but I completely got it.

    ok, now that that’s done…. i have to say Yes, SC IS a dungeon from which i had to escape long ago – because it was clear it getting scarier and scarier and like a bad tape loop too at many moments. But right now – there is an increase in the torture going on.

    re the debate of the analogy Camille made about Israel. Some were discussing this way back in the approx 250 comments and before. I think people turned the analogy around the wrong way from what I have heard him say. Which had not to do with comparing how Assad and company are treating the uprising traitor/citizens with how Israel treats Pals. NO. The comparison I heard him make previously and i think it is the same one in the interview – although I am not here going back to check… Is about how the people should treat their anger at the government. It is a weird comparison to make because his audience is mostly Syrian and arabic and many in the region – and those people are generally in favor of supporting the “resistance” and fighting the Israelis with force to the bitter end. So they would not get the comparison at all. But C was saying that in the way he tries to tell people that this fight with Israel is not going to work and the Israelis are too threatened and paranoid about being attacked – therefore they need to be approached delicately and slowly and with consideration focused on negotiation and compromise… SO AS… should the citizens of Syria recognize that they can’t win this battle through force and confrontation but instead should realize the poor feelings of the Alawite leaders and affiliates and be understanding of their fear and sensitivities and not threaten them but rather settle for negotiation and compromise.
    Of course – I could agree with the view when we are talking about Israel (in terms of the surrounding countries) because indeed it is another country/nation. Verses… as Bassem Haddad said – this is involving one’s own government and leaders and oppressors and the powerless should appease them, i can’t imagine… but that is what Camille is arguing… and why he made the comparison… (at least the one I originally heard)… Most people in the Middle East would not understand the analogy, – because that isn’t how they think in terms of approaching Israel either.

    Posted by Zenobia | May 4, 2011, 11:13 pm
  80. Iceman is being honest, and I recognize the difficulty some may have with understanding that being a Jew is something different than a religion.

    If you ask a Jew if they are a “people” or a religion or both, you may get various answers. I think most Jews would say they are part of the “jewish people”, hence the nationality.

    Good night. Dreaming of a peaceful and tolerant Syria…

    Posted by Akbar Palace | May 4, 2011, 11:21 pm
  81. Hey everybody– let’s not let allow the zionists to distract us from their plan to invade Lebanon and create Greater “israel”. Fortunately, the heroes of The Resistance have both their weapons and the good sense not to be so easily fooled. I know they will not shirk their responsibilities and let the weak minded “democrats” give up Lebanon so easily.

    Posted by dontgetit | May 4, 2011, 11:33 pm
  82. Zenobia,

    The first time Alex the used analogy you’re talking about with regards to Bashar’s treatment of Syrian vs. Israeli treatment of Pals here was in comment 172 which he addressed to me, and I replied to him in 176. My reply was pretty much in line with Bassam Haddad’s article.

    You also seem to be able to distinguish between the different messages that can be used to appeal to different audiences despite you apparent lack of Arabic fluency. Well, Alex brought up the issue of the Alawites in the main interview as follows:

    “You have to understand that most Alawites view Syria in much the same way that the Jews view Israel,

    I replied to that in my comment 95. In my opinion, this statement of his besides its being insensitive to most Syrians including Alawites is from any Syrian perspective treasonous. If you visit Mayasalon’s website who is a very knowledgeable Syrian he wrote next day almost the same reply I made above.

    We understand why he made that statement because he thinks he is savvy enough to address a local audience that would love to hear such analogies. But that doesn’t make him authentic or by any means convincing. It only adds to charges of him being apologist to most absurd limits.

    The debate that you seem to be familiar with from Synagogues only reinforces the fact that these are irreconcilable tenets.

    And our record per post is over 500 comments by the way.

    There are also some idiots here who continue to stir so much parasitic noise for the sole purpose of attracting attention. Usually we ignore them as being in a kinder garden level and are in the process of growing up. Once in a while we resort to verbal whipping to make them able to walk on their own.

    Posted by iceman | May 4, 2011, 11:55 pm
  83. Right on Dontgetit,

    The weak “democrats” are a bunch of spineless traitors who are fooled into thinking the “Say hewnies” will not annex Lebanon and steal our Hummus recipes.

    Posted by Maverick | May 5, 2011, 12:01 am
  84. I am an atheist Jew and that is not a contradiction. There are tons of atheist Jews. In fact, many of the initial pioneers that came to Israel in the early nineteen hundreds were communists and socialists, deeply non-religious. The kibbutz is a communist commune for heaven’s sake. Zionism is a SECULAR movement founded by non-religious Jews. Herzl was a secular Jew and perhaps an atheist. So was Ben-Gurion. Zionism is inspired by 19th century European nationalism. The Jews are a nation with the religion its peculiar customs.

    History aside, it is sheer arrogance to tell Jews what they are. We are what we tell you we are, and we are a nation.

    Posted by AIG | May 5, 2011, 12:14 am
  85. At least Dontgetit is back, and with the same exact message, lol. I guess, once one has a successful label, why let go of it.

    Plus it’s a much shorter message/label and less exhausting to read/follow than HK’s.

    Posted by Ras Beirut | May 5, 2011, 12:21 am
  86. Last night, Aleppo demos were confined to within University campus. Tonight, they moved out to business areas. Aleppo region is the most populous in Syria, and the city is 45 Km away from the Turkish border,

    Posted by iceman | May 5, 2011, 12:57 am
  87. WOW we should at least thank Alex for bringing in all the lady commentators with him!
    Anyone heard from GK lately? It’s unlike him to disappear like this.

    AIG and AP,

    You don’t have to convince anyone what being a Jew means, the future belong to open minded and tolerant people everywhere and sure enough one day we the Arab Muslims, Christians and Atheists will welcome and live in peace with the Jewish people of Israel.

    The dictators, racist wahhabi and other extremist scum who hate anything that doesn’t conform to their dark ages view of what the Middle East should be like belong in the trash heap or the bottom of the sea.

    Posted by V | May 5, 2011, 3:37 am
  88. iceman 281

    I will let you twist the meaning of anything I say to any shape that pleases you, but I will explain that particular statement that I made because it sounds vague.

    I was trying to say that there are a number of minorities in the Middle East today that feel secure because they have enough power where they live to ensure no one can easily subject them to danger like their predecessors were subjected to.

    1) The Alawites were persecuted for centuries
    2) Iraqi Kurds (used to live under Saddam’s brutal rule)
    3) Maronites in Lebanon suffered in the 1860’s
    4) Jews suffered (elsewhere) in Europe

    I am not saying it is right for the Maronites to continue to expect that the President of Lebanon and the head of its army will be a Maronite forever, and I am not saying that it is right for Alawites to expect that they will continue to rule Syria for ever, and I am not saying that Jews should remain locked within the secure and isolated “Jewish State” forever …

    All I am saying is that all of these minorities that suffered in the past will resist any attempt by anyone who tries to change the status quo overnight, by force.

    I was saying that this is understandable, there might be some abuse of power, but there is also legitimate fears.

    However, in a few years … 3, 5, or 10 … they all need to plan for a way to integrate through the wider Middle East even if they are not necessarily ruled by one of heir own.

    That is the extent of the analogy I used… they would all fear sudden loss of power and they would fight it.

    Posted by Alex | May 5, 2011, 3:38 am
  89. And while I’m here, I think I found one clip that proves that army and police officers are killed by the “peaceful” demonstrators.

    One of their honest leaders admitted ti on AlArabyia (not a pro Syria station as you know)

    2 officers dead, 6 injured in this case:

    Listen to him at 1:00

    Posted by Alex | May 5, 2011, 3:42 am
  90. Alex…

    Don’t concern yourself with Iceman or feel you have to justify your opinion to him.

    On this forum he has come out quite openly and dismissed “demonstrators” in Bahrain as being the work of Iranian agents. Is not quite as humanistic towards the loss of life there.

    Also, not too long ago, he was debating with some other fellow about public adhaans and how it was the Law of the Soul and Land for Muslims. Concluding his defense with the following curious statement: “If Democracy is against this LAW, then to hell with democracy”. (My apologies… I’m paraphrasing)

    Now he’s here telling Jews how they should self-identify.

    So needless to say, I’m not sure that “democracy”, “human-rights”, “dignity”, “respect” are high on his priority list of why he comes and argues here.

    And since I, from time to time, have a little fun and call him out on his BS… it raises his blood pressure a little and he tries to get me censored :D.

    I don’t know what’s coming out in Syria post-Assad. Is it someone like Zenobia. Or is it someone like Iceman.

    If it’s the former, there’s a hope for the future. If it’s the latter, well then…

    … my condolences.

    Posted by Gabriel | May 5, 2011, 4:32 am
  91. See the new comment, just released from moderation, by “democracynow” at #263

    Posted by Qifa Nabki | May 5, 2011, 5:56 am
  92. AIG:
    “The Jews are a nation with the religion its peculiar customs.

    History aside, it is sheer arrogance to tell Jews what they are. We are what we tell you we are, and we are a nation.”

    Not to get in to the old Israeli-palestinian debate. But how come the same secular jews allways have been telling the palestinians that they are not a nation? I have never understod how these two opinions can comply…

    Posted by Viktor | May 5, 2011, 7:25 am
  93. The Assad Mafia in Damascus is still afforded full protection by the Odious White House Murder Machinations INC,!

    Fake death photos, fake birth certificates, Iran-Contra Gate, BCCI, the S&L crisis, Ponzi Schemes, the infamous White House Murder INC, and Dick Cheney’s assassination Matrix in the Levant since January 24th 2002, meant to foster PNAC’s Ziocon criminal designs in Eurasia, fake stories about WMDs, the Niger Yellow cake, outing Valerie Plame Wilson, Anthrax, incubator babies 1991, the Gulf of Tonkin, the deaths of Barry Jennings, Vince Foster, Dr. Kay, Sgt. Terrance Yeakey, the D.C. madam. and many, many more in USA and around the world…

    These are some of the reasons I no longer trust any governments, any leaders or the corporate owned media, who function only as “stenographers”, ….

    911 Was “Another” Inside Job wall to wall.

    Remember, there are Jewish religious leaders who practice the Golden Rule:

    Tikkun’s Spiritual Response to the Assassination of Osama bin Laden
    by Peter Gabel and Michael Lerner
    May 2, 2011

    Never should the killing of a human being be an occasion for such celebration — even in circumstances that involve actual self-defense against mortal danger. Not only does such a raucous display of pleasure in response to the killing of another disrespect the sacredness of every human life; it also inherently undermines the moral character and worthiness of those responsible for the death itself. If the United States seeks to place itself on a higher moral ground than those who commit immoral acts against our people, we must all conduct ourselves in a way that manifests our empathy and compassion for all of humanity, for every human person, and also manifest our awareness of the tragic distortions in human relations across the globe that still hurl human beings into the horrors of ongoing violence and war.

    There is also the traditional ZIOCON Global Mafia:

    Also, for those interested in Benjamin Freedman (IMO, a real American hero), videos w/his speech from 1961 (this is the speech where he was warning about the Zionists controlling America “as if they were absolute monarchs”)…And Freedman knew what he was talking about, worked w/high level Zionists (Bernard Baruch, Samuel Untermeyer), attended Paris Peace conference w/these people and sat in on meetings w/President Wilson when the Zionists were “schooling” him…

    Posted by HK | May 5, 2011, 8:33 am
  94. Akbar Palace,
    Just out of curiosity, why do they not consider themselves Arab Jews? is it because of the discrimination and anger that the Arab Jews had to endure in the Arab countries after the establishment of the state of Israel?. I come from a city in Syria that had a substantial Jewish minority and housed the famous Codex (now you know where I am from). Our society was always a very good mixture of the three religions. The Jews were an important part of the social fabric. The muslim and christian merchants in the old city always say good things about their jewish counterparts to this day. When I was growing up, the three Jewish doctors in the city were always very busy and had a stellar reputation. I think the taragedy of the establishment of the state of Israel (obviously for the Arabs not for you) and the influx of Palestinians into Syria with all the horror stories, created this tense environment for the Syrian Jews. It is too bad. I feel it was so unfair to them. They had nothing to do with it. It is really exactly the same to what happened to the Japanese Americans during the second World War, or the Arab Americans after 9/11.

    Posted by Sheila | May 5, 2011, 8:45 am
  95. Alex, Zenobia, Iceman and Gabriel,
    I think that we should acknowledge the subtle tensions between the Muslims and Christians in Syria. We can talk about the historical context with the Ottomans falling into the dark ages and treating the Christians poorly and the French using “divide and conquer” by attracting the christians and giving them all the privileges. However, we have to know that it takes two. It does not fall on one single side’s lap. There is no doubt that our region is going through its dark ages. There is also no doubt that Islam is going through its dark ages. Our complete and utter misunderstanding of the message of Mohammad is amazing. I hear the calls for going back to the time of Mohammad and all I see them doing is going back to the time of Aljahilieh. Mohammad preached tolerance, ethics, morals, work and education. If you look at the Arab world, it lacks all of the above. Even the “hijab”. The women at the time of Mohammad did not wear it, nor is it a part of Islam, however, all the consentration today is on “hijab”. For god’s sake, can we emphasise things that are important for the society, like morals and education instead of such an unimportant thing?. I think Islam needs major reform. It needs enlightened people to really go back to the time of Mohammad and emphasis the important things.

    Posted by Sheila | May 5, 2011, 8:59 am
  96. Viktor,

    The Palestinians were not a nation in 1900 but are certainly a nation now. That is the view of most Israelis. Initially they viewed themselves as part of the Arab world and then Greater Syria, but over decades a specific Palestinian identity was formed.

    Posted by AIG | May 5, 2011, 9:39 am
  97. I think the taragedy of the establishment of the state of Israel (obviously for the Arabs not for you) and the influx of Palestinians into Syria with all the horror stories, created this tense environment for the Syrian Jews. It is too bad. I feel it was so unfair to them. They had nothing to do with it. It is really exactly the same to what happened to the Japanese Americans during the second World War, or the Arab Americans after 9/11.


    I am by no means a historian, but it seems Jews living in Arab countries did OK until Israel’s independence. It certainly didn’t compare to our history in Europe.

    My ex-father-in-law’s father was born in Syria and he was a very poor shoe repair man (“sandlar”). I suppose he felt it was time to cross the border into the Promised Land. I think he was from “Halab”? It that a Syrian city?

    Likewise, Yemenite Jews were being hounded and so they crossed the desert too. Stories of being robbed on their journey are pretty common.

    I suppose since Israel has been fighting arabdom since their creation in 1948, perhaps calling a mizrachi jew (“eastern” jew) an “arab jew” has negative connotations.

    Of course I’m hoping everyone agrees to a permanent border to we can start creating a powerhouse economy and work together in peace.

    As an american jew with a european ancestry, I prefer to look forward to Israel as the center of our culture, and not backward to the “yiddishkeit” that pretty much died with a third of my people.

    Posted by Akbar Palace | May 5, 2011, 12:00 pm
  98. AP

    Halab = Allepo

    Posted by Gabriel | May 5, 2011, 12:04 pm
  99. Sheila:

    I think this is one of the core issues, and it is not limited to Syria, but is becoming increasingly a global problem.

    We’ve just started scratching the surface, and we are already seeing radicalization from all faith groups.

    I bring it back to my core issue with Alex’s position and that is the 3, 5 , 10 year assertion of “change will be coming”.

    I think it will take a lot more than that. And whatever concerns minorities have (based on imagined, or historical/contemporary fears) simply have to be shelved to the side. If, as a result of ensuing regional turmoil, they need to move to places like Canada and Australia, so be it.

    It’s a pity really. But there are no real alternatives.

    Posted by Gabriel | May 5, 2011, 12:15 pm
  100. I am originally from Halab and we lived in great harmony with Syrian jews back in the 60’s
    6 of my classmates were jews from HALAB(Aleppo) , we spoke the same local slang, we ate the same food , we joked the same way , we never looked at them as jews we just looked at them as schoolmates except their holiday was on Saturday ours was on Sunday. We are all the same under one God and I hope one day we can just live within one open space with no artificial borders , in that lovely region where the future generations can florish. The potential is huge .

    Posted by Riad | May 5, 2011, 12:16 pm
  101. Sheila, kudos and 100% agreement.
    Time for Islam 2.0

    Posted by Honest Patriot | May 5, 2011, 12:49 pm
  102. Also time for universal separation of religion and state.

    Posted by Honest Patriot | May 5, 2011, 12:49 pm
  103. Shelia,

    You are correct and it is not as hard as some would suggest. It starts with allowing people to live in a free society and make their own choice of governance without coercion or intimidation.

    Those who suggest otherwise are sectarian bigots or those who are clinging to power irrespective of the warped rationale.


    Posted by danny | May 5, 2011, 1:10 pm
  104. To add to the thread on polarization, it seems that we are going down that path (on a global basis) and the reasons for that are not clear. Is it a trend or a fad? is it temporary or a longer term issue? For me, these are still questions without clear answers right now.

    To stretch your minds a bit. I was sent an article “Christians Under Attack From Anti-Government Protesters in Syria” Like all articles on the topic, it is hard to tell what is real and what is not. However, it reflects what is going around (real or imagined or interpretation). Additionally, I heard from several sources that there were leaflets left in some churches in Damascus warning Christians that they were next. When I asked to see a picture of one of those leaflets, nothing came back.

    In defense of muslim-christian relationships, there has been a big push back from seculars and strong believers from both sides to remove faith driven slogans from the equation. There also has been on the ground initiatives such as “Muslims as human shields for Christian churches” (hope I got the translation right) and groups of muslims participating in Church services (I have eye witness accounts of it happening in Aleppo on top of an article). Many believe that creating divisions between the different faiths is a plot that will lead to the weakening of the country.

    Education Education and more Education is required to have people realize that we are all the same and it takes all types to make the world go round. What you believe is your own.

    Posted by Nabil | May 5, 2011, 1:20 pm
  105. The Islamists in Syria have great organizational skills and a lot of expertise, given the last few years in the Iraqi theater. They’re in no hurry. They’ve bided their time for decades, and they’re very patient.
    The Arab spring is unquestionably bringing the destruction of Israel’s physical security, which has long depended on the maintenance of border-controlling tyrannies in Egypt, Syria, and Jordan. The end of Mubarak’s regime has made the Egypt-Gaza border more porous, and the elimination of Assad’s Baathist Mafiosi regime would weaken Syria’s willingness—and perhaps ability—to control its border with Israel. This would leave only Jordan, which is a far weaker regime than those in Egypt or Syria, and Lebanon hanging in the balance with a good deterrent for now, with Hezbollah stronger than ever.

    Posted by HK | May 5, 2011, 1:23 pm
  106. There’s been an absence of the pro-Muqawama crowd here at QN. And no insight into how they see things play out in the Lebanese arena.

    Posted by Gabriel | May 5, 2011, 1:32 pm
  107. The situation in Syria is quickly going beyond the point of no return. By denouncing all forms of protest as sedition, and dealing with them through escalating violence, the regime is closing the door on any possible honourable exit to a deepening national crisis. With little the international community can do, the optimal outcome is one whose chances are dwindling by the day: an immediate end to the violence and a genuine national dialogue to pave the way for a transition to a representative, democratic political order….

    More here,

    There are also conflicting reports about Syrian army movement. May be the Syrian regime took seriously recent warnings from world government and is adopting deception maneuvres,


    Those words are yours and not mine and many, including Syrians, happen to agree with my interpretation. Also, if you owe someone mortgage on your house and it is time for payment and you fail to pay, that someone has the ultimate decision to deny you the use of the house and get you evicted immediately. I see no reason why the Syrians should extend even one year of grace to such regime.

    There are no such things as Islam 1.0 or 2.0 etc… There is only Islam and Islam and Islam…
    Refrain if you don’t mind.

    Also if Muslims in Muslim countries choose to apply their LAW it is their prerogative first and foremost and the State must comply. That Law contains provisions for respecting minorities and as Sheila said they were often abused by authorities and is not the fault of Islam itself. Also, religion and state have long been separated in Islam when the rest of the world had no clue. Thanks for a ‘patronizing’ attitude that we can do much better without.

    Posted by iceman | May 5, 2011, 1:37 pm
  108. Unfortunately, Syrians are never taught about the Aleppo Pogrom of 1947 and even people living in the city do not know about it.

    There was never an apology from the people of Aleppo for this cowardly attack against the Jews in 1947.

    Posted by AIG | May 5, 2011, 1:39 pm
  109. I never heard an apology from an Israeli official about the plight of the of the Palestinians in 1947.

    If the Aleppo incident is called a pogrom, then the events in 1947 in Palestine are nothing short of crime against humanity and systematic uprooting of a whole people accompanied by total obliteration of whole towns and cities.

    I chose the same date of 1947 on purpose in order not to open a debate back into the past on an endless series of acts and counter-acts of vengeance.

    But if we jump back to the present, we do not see much has changed in the Israeli behaviour judging from policies in the West Bank. So would an apology be enough in this case if not coupled by a change in behaviour?

    Posted by iceman | May 5, 2011, 2:03 pm
  110. AIG,

    Do you support a one state solution in Israel?

    Posted by R2D2 | May 5, 2011, 2:21 pm
  111. Iceman,

    I couldn’t care less if the Syrians do not apologize for killing their fellow Syrian citizens who happened to be Jewish and had nothing to do with what was happening in Palestine in 1947. The hypocrisy is the claim that Jews were always treated well in Aleppo or that Syrian Jews in Aleppo deserve to suffer because of a UN resolution.

    Posted by AIG | May 5, 2011, 2:21 pm
  112. For those who understand French from AFP on the Greek Catholic community – sorry too rushed to translate the key messages – feel free
    to interpret

    Posted by Nabil | May 5, 2011, 2:24 pm
  113. Remarkable.

    Just Remarkable.

    If there is any doubt as to why there will be problems in the Middle East for quite some time to come, one need look no further than Comment #309.

    This mentality is alive and kicking. In Iraq, churches and Christians are expendable- after all the “Crusaders” are bombing them.

    And we can’t even apologize to Syrian Jews without dangling what wrongs were done to the Palestinians in 1947.

    Morality is a quid-pro-quo exchange. If the Israelis uprooted Palestinians, then why not pick on Syrian Jews in Aleppo who had nothing to do with this uprooting. It appears some can’t even apologize for a wrong that is mutually exclusive of another wrong.


    I think you may need to rework the mechanics of that submarine you’re riding.

    Posted by Gabriel | May 5, 2011, 2:28 pm
  114. AIG

    I think Iceman you need to educate yourself a little bit more about the history of jews in Aleppo , you can start by reading a very nice book widely known in Israel it is called
    “Michel Ezra Safra”

    Posted by Riad | May 5, 2011, 2:32 pm
  115. Sorry I meant AIG not Iceman my apologies

    Posted by Riad | May 5, 2011, 2:33 pm
  116. “The hypocrisy is the claim that Jews were always treated well in Aleppo or that Syrian Jews in Aleppo deserve to suffer because of a UN resolution.”

    No one said Syrian Jews in Aleppo must suffer for a UN resolution.

    The hypocricy lies in raising the issue of single-sided apologies, even if no demand for it is implied, while ignoring one’s own behaviour. Neither did I imply that the Palestinian would demannd such apology or even would be satisfied if it is given.

    Does the Israeli government teach its people about the 1947 Palestinian plight (or Nakba)?

    Hasn’t the word nakba become a taboo in Israeli society except for the select few?

    Isn’t the Israeli government deliberately seeking to erase that event from its history textbooks taught in schools?

    Why do the Israelis want to force the teaching of the holocaust on the Palestinians while deliberately ignoring what they brought upon them?

    Perhaps you should have avoided raising such issues until Israel becomes able to stand on better grounds.

    Posted by iceman | May 5, 2011, 2:44 pm
  117. Riad,

    Thanks for the advice. But you may be surprised to know that I’m originally from Aleppo (200 years or so ago). I have been to the city on more than one occasion. My family still have association with an extended well-known family in that city and I happened to know the history of the Alepine Jews all the way back to at least the year 1000.

    But thanks again.

    Posted by iceman | May 5, 2011, 2:49 pm
  118. Oh, how convenient. It’s the Muslim American Anwar al Awlaki from Yemen, not the Jewish Adam Pearlman from California, who will succeed Bin Laden as head of “al CIAda.” This bulletin must be datelined Tel Aviv.
    Honorary degree pulled for critic of Israel. CUNY John Jay College says no honor to be awarded to Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Tony Kushner. Nasty little Israel and its whiny supporters in America just hate free speech. They, not the Muslims, hate our freedoms. Helen Thomas comes to mind more and more as a true American Hero.

    Some years back, a journalist asked Ehud Barak what he would do if he had been born a Palestinian. He said “well, I would probably have become a terrorist”. He has a lot of flaws but on overall character he is a better indicator than any other major Ziocon. He may not have Livni’s Mossad past or Netanyahu’s sheer genius at bullshitting but he is more suited for “show” today than either of them. It’s very possible Israel will only have one more PM if it has the wrong one…

    Posted by HK | May 5, 2011, 2:58 pm
  119. “Also if Muslims in Muslim countries choose to apply their LAW it is their prerogative first and foremost and the State must comply. That Law contains provisions for respecting minorities” do the minorities have to pay extra taxes for that protection or wear special tags identifying them as “Ahl al Thema”?
    “religion and state have long been separated in Islam when the rest of the world had no clue.” perfect example Saudi Arabia or Iran ?

    Please stop these idiotic statements, flintstones like you give Islam and Muslims a bad name Iceman or shall we change your name to Ayman Al Zawahri ?

    Posted by V | May 5, 2011, 2:58 pm
  120. Iceman,

    I am delighted to know this , unfortunately there is no way for me to trace back my family origins in Aleppo that far but I can guess it goes back 400-500 yrs. Actually I was recommending the book to AIG not to you , I corrected this on #315.

    Posted by Riad | May 5, 2011, 3:02 pm
  121. Iceman,

    It is Israel historians that uncovered in detail what happened in 1947-1848, historians like Benny Morris. Those books are widely available in Israel.

    It is the Arabs that did not accept the UN partition resolution of 29 November 1947. They choose war. When you choose war, you better be sure you can win it, otherwise you may not be happy with the results.

    On the other hand, the Jewish residents of Aleppo did nothing to their neighbors. Why were some of them murdered and their houses burned?

    Posted by AIG | May 5, 2011, 3:03 pm
  122. Riad,

    Are you denying the Aleppo Pogrom happened?

    Posted by AIG | May 5, 2011, 3:04 pm
  123. What do you folks over the fence think of the Hamas/Fatah reconciliation?

    Posted by R2D2 | May 5, 2011, 3:18 pm
  124. “It is Israel historians that uncovered in detail what happened in 1947-1848, historians like Benny Morris. Those books are widely available in Israel.”


    I did say Except the select few. But can you deny erasing the nakba from memomry is indeed a deliberate official Israeli policy up till the present?

    Also, I am not arguing about the merits or lack thereof of the UN partition resolution. Neither am I absolving the Arab states at that time of their guilt and perhaps also shortsightedness.

    Also, I repeat again I did not say the Aleppine Jews should pay for the UN resolution.


    #319 BUG OFF.

    Posted by iceman | May 5, 2011, 3:20 pm
  125. AIG,

    It is not a matter of denying or admitting , the idea is that the nerrowmindedness should stop at one point .
    How far back in history we should go , shall we start when the jews killed the very symbol of christianity or when Christian killed muslims, jews and Arabs(Crusaders, inquisitions, etc…)or when muslims killed christians and jews during the invasions or when the Turcs killed armenians , all the way until jews started killing Arabs again , when should we pose for a moment and put an end to the cycle of violence without refering back to history? History is good to know but should not be a reference for the way forward since it is filled with Pogroms and massacres and and and….

    Posted by Riad | May 5, 2011, 3:26 pm
  126. “But can you deny erasing the nakba from memomry is indeed a deliberate official Israeli policy up till the present?”

    Of course I can deny that. There is no official policy to do so. If there were, why did Israeli researchers in universities funded by the Israeli government do most of the historical work on this?

    Posted by AIG | May 5, 2011, 3:34 pm
  127. Riad,

    You miss the point. Nobody is saying future policy should be dictated by history. So the question remains, do you deny the Aleppo Pogrom happened?

    Posted by AIG | May 5, 2011, 3:36 pm
  128. AIG
    You are right. Born and raised in Aleppo and never heard of the Aleppo Pogrom. May I take this opportunity to apologies to the Aleppo Jews for what happened in 1947?. As much as I understand the raw emotions and the ignorance and disintegration of culture that the Arab World was suffering from then and is still suffering from now, I can not excuse brother killing brother. The Aleppo Jews were and still are part of our community. As I said before, they really had nothing to do with what was happening in Palestine. I think with the Israeli/ Palestinian/ Arab problem there is enough blame to go around. I think there should come a time when we all man up and admit our mistakes.

    Posted by Sheila | May 5, 2011, 3:37 pm
  129. “Of course I can deny that. There is no official policy to do so.

    Then please deny the following, AIG,

    Posted by iceman | May 5, 2011, 3:41 pm
  130. Akbar Palace,
    Thanks for the explanation. Halab (Aleppo) is my hometown. It is the second largest city in Syria. (Maybe we are related somehow).
    Unlike you, I am hoping that everyone will agree to remove borders in that part of the world and by that create a powerhouse economy. I agree. There is so much potential

    Posted by Sheila | May 5, 2011, 3:42 pm
  131. After you deny that, AIG, let’s go back to Syria.

    Posted by iceman | May 5, 2011, 3:43 pm
  132. Iceman,

    The law is a recent one and it basically says that you cannot use Israel government funds for events that decry the creation of Israel. How is that a policy of not remembering the Nakba?

    Posted by AIG | May 5, 2011, 3:50 pm
  133. This report which just appeared on SC needs to be confirmed. It says , Syrian ambassador in Turkey has just been axpelled following an assassination attempt on Erdogan. It also relates the expulsion to Turkish displeasure at Syrian regime due to the continued crackdown and rising casualties,


    سيدار التركية: طرد السفير السوري من انقرة بعد محالة اغتيال اردوغان واحتجاجا على قمع دمشق للمحتجين كشفت صحيفة “سيدار” التركية إن السلطات التركية قامت بطرد السفير السوري في أنقرة وذلك بعد ساعات من محاولة فاشلة من مجهولين لاغتيال رئيس الوزراء التركي زعيم حزب العدالة والتنمية الحاكم رجب طيب أردوغان.

    وأضاف الصحيفة التركية أن السلطات اتخذت هذا القرار أيضا اعتراضا على ما يلاقيه الشعب السورى من قمع وقتل على أيدى قوات الجيش السوري منذ منتصف آذار الماضي في موجة احتجاجات شعبية غير مسبوقة ضد نظام بشار الأسد.

    ويأتي قرار الطرد بعد ساعات من محاولة فاشلة لاغتيال أردوغان، حيث ألقى مجهولون عبوة ناسفة وفتحوا النار على حافلة تقل رجال شرطة أتراكا مما أسفر عن مقتل ضابط في شمال تركيا قرب مكان تجمع انتخابي حضره رئيس الوزراء التركي.

    وذكرت قناة تلفزيون “ان.تي.في.” الإخبارية أن أردوغان غادر مدينة كاستامونو بشمال تركيا بطائرة هليكوبتر لحظة وقوع الهجوم. وقالت إن مركبة الشرطة كانت ترافق حافلة لحزب العدالة والتنمية الحاكم.

    وأضافت أن قنبلة ألقيت على مركبة الشرطة وفتح مسلحون النار لدى انفجارها واشتعال النار بها.

    وذكرت مصادر تركية أن سوريا قد تكون خلف محاولة اغتيال أردوغان خصوصا بعد تصريحاته قبل يومين والتي هاجم فيها بشار الأسد.

    يذكر ان أردوغان ذكر في مقابلة تلفزيونيّة الإثنين إنه لا يريد أن يرى مذبحة حماة تحدث مرة أخرى في سوريا، وحذر من أن حدوث مثل هذه الأمور سيجبر المجتمع الدولي على اتخاذ موقف من سوريا، مؤكداً أن بلاده ستتخذ الموقف نفسه في هذه الحالة.

    ونبّه أردوغان الرئيس السوري إلى عواقب الاستمرار في قتل المدنيين. كذلك حذر من أن سوريا لن تنهض مرة أخرى إن وقعت فيها مثل هذه المذابح.

    Posted by iceman | May 5, 2011, 3:52 pm
  134. AIG,

    Your question is not pertinent to the discussion and redundant , this is exactly the nerrowmindedness(Esprit borne) I am talking about.

    Posted by Riad | May 5, 2011, 3:53 pm
  135. Sheila,

    You have nothing to apologize for. You were not there in 1947 and have no responsibility for what happened.

    Posted by AIG | May 5, 2011, 3:54 pm
  136. Riad,

    Why is it that I can read what Benny Morris writes and acknowledge that indeed some Palestinians were ethnically cleansed while you cannot admit a basic historical fact about Aleppo? If there is any narrow mindedness involved, it is yours.

    Posted by AIG | May 5, 2011, 3:56 pm
  137. AIG @332

    You say “The law is a recent one and it basically says that you cannot use Israel government funds for events that decry the creation of Israel. How is that a policy of not remembering the Nakba?”


    “The Nakba law, once implemented, will make it illegal for public bodies, or agencies that receive funding from the State of Israel, to claim that Israel should not be a Jewish state, and that the practices of the government are not democratic. Furthermore the commemoration of ‘Nakba Day,’ the anniversary of the founding of the State of Israel, following the Yishuv’s ethnic cleansing of the majority of indigenous Palestinians from what became Israel, has also been made illegal.“ The bill also allows small communities in Israel to set up admission committees to decide who may or may not move into the community.

    So, let’s go back to Syria. Need to find out what happened to the Syrian ambassador in Turkey.

    Posted by iceman | May 5, 2011, 4:07 pm
  138. Iceman,

    You claim:
    “erasing the nakba from memomry is indeed a deliberate official Israeli policy up till the present”

    That is just false. Where is your proof? The law allows commemorating the Nakba but not on the same day as Israeli independence day and not with government funds. How does that come even close to what you claim?

    Posted by AIG | May 5, 2011, 4:12 pm
  139. AIG and others,
    Apologies at this point seem kind of cheap all around. We have gone so far in our offenses… that a total re-haul in human social behavior is necessary.
    Not to deny any atrocities or pogroms or killing of the past… they should of course be remembered and recognized and properly examined… so everyone can understand why the things happened. Although I wrote a dissertation more on the subject of killing by soldiers – in the course of doing so… i spent a lot of time looking into human violence in general and inter-group violence and dehumanization, genocide and less than genocide but on the same spectrum. The element of human cognition in all the situations are very similar.
    We should remember historical events – sure, but it is really not enough. We need to build a social recognition of the dynamics of all inter-group violence and start building a plan as to how to address these failures in our evolution as a species. We need to move forward way way way beyond apologies.
    Violence has been committed with all kinds of superficial covering including religion and false ethnic-religious divisions. I think also- every religion has gone through different cycles of regression and progression in terms of levels of humanistic values.

    Iceman, don’t you think actually Islam is Islam is Islam is too simplistic? (saying 2.0 is trite) but without pointing at Islam particularly…. are not all religions in your opinion more fluid than that. Cannot they evolve… even if you believe that the word of god was the word of God? Because after all – the word of God is just the beginning of the religion. And then after that we have centuries of interpretation…after interpretation after interpretation… that is not all linear but rather shift meaning here and there. Don’t you think – the prophet – would understand that the world he lived in would not stay fixed? that the interpretation of the meaning of principles he put down would have to be reinterpreted to fit the times we live in? And thus… LAW itself must also evolve and change with our life on earth and as a species? I think even God would understand that – and know that his word is nothing without human interpretation of it. We are thus given freedom and choices. That is our burden… to choice humane understandings and compassionate laws and measures that are derived from these understandings.
    To me, a static religion becomes old and brittle and loses its ability to be any guidance at all… and that is its purpose after all to guide people.

    Two amens/amins to Sheila at #295 for opening the subject as well.

    Posted by Zenobia | May 5, 2011, 4:14 pm
  140. AIG,

    What do you think of the Fatah/Hamas reconciliation and as an Atheist Jew, where do you stand on a one state solution for Israel?

    Posted by R2D2 | May 5, 2011, 4:19 pm
  141. AIG 338,

    Let’s go back to Syria. In the meantime we would refresh our English 101 and then come back and decipher the NEW LAW.

    Posted by iceman | May 5, 2011, 4:20 pm

    Here’s a more informative, comprehensive interlocution with three Syrian intellectuals living in Paris. WAY closer to reality, in my opinion, than this post:

    1- (Arabic)
    2- (French)

    Posted by issam | May 5, 2011, 4:29 pm
  143. Zenobia @339,

    Who said Islam is static? Who said Islam was not or is not still subject to interpretation? Who said that Muslims are not in fact engaged in such efforts as we speak?

    I object to using this forum to level stereotypes and insults on Muslims or Islam in general. Saying Islam 1.0 or 2.0 may not only be insensitive and inappropriate but an outright degradation of a faith which since inception up till now has maintained its origin as outside the constraints of historicity.

    I also happen to believe that the LAW is an expression of the values of a particular community where it is applied, not denying of course certain universal principles that all humans are ingrained with and agree upon, and which no one can argue are already enshrined in the faith. But for someone who has yearned recently for the return of ‘mother’ France to the fertile crescent denying at the same time that that era was full fledged colonialism, while maintaining it was forced out of the Levant by some kind of fiat deal between Muslim and Christians, then comes back again calling upon Muslims from the far corners of the earth to adopt his vision of so-called Universality is something very preposterous to which I think cannot be left unanswered.

    Posted by iceman | May 5, 2011, 4:46 pm
  144. The attempt on Erdogan seems real. No word on the Syrian ambassador yet,

    Posted by iceman | May 5, 2011, 4:55 pm
  145. iceman @307, sorry, no offence was meant. Zenobia is right, 2.0 is trite, especially if it offends certain sensibilities. I obviously meant what both Sheila and Zenobia articulated, the emergence of the true Islam and the rejection of the false forms such as the ones advocated by Osama Bin Laden, for example.

    I’m sorry but my opinion is not swayed by the argument that if a majority of religious folks want to establish a country ruled by religious laws then we can trust them to protect minorities and women. I don’t accept the treatment of women by the Taliban just as the abuse of power by the bad Christian popes and the bad Christian Cardinals is condemned by history. People may chose to live their individual lives according to the edicts of their religion but a civil society and a political system, if it is to survive and be fair and avoid abuses, has to shed religious overtones and be flexible and changeable to adapt to circumstances.

    Posted by Honest Patriot | May 5, 2011, 4:56 pm
  146. … and the use of 1.0 and 2.0, while obviously has offended some, is only meant as evolution of interpretation. For example one may argue that Christianity nowadays, for most folks, is at the 2.1 or 3.0 stage, and far from the barbaric days of the crusades and of the Spanish inquisition. It is a manner of speaking and was not intended to single out Islam.

    Posted by Honest Patriot | May 5, 2011, 5:01 pm
  147. It was a mistake to “elect” Bashar to the Presidency.

    He should have been “crowned” the Monarch of Syria.

    That would have made his reign indisputable.

    **If only he listened to the Wahhabis**

    Posted by R2D2 | May 5, 2011, 5:03 pm
  148. .. and I do stand by my opinion that separation of religion and state is an essential ingredient of a successful and stable society. I am NOT saying that states need to be a-religious! Quite the contrary; when government is separated from religion, religion thrives. Religion fulfills its most honorable goal of guiding people to serene lives in which they help each other and take care of the weak and poor in society.

    How about this: name a single successful and modern country where all individuals are respected (men and women), minorities protected, and which has a government system that follows religious laws.
    Hmm, let me guess, Iran? Saudi Arabia?

    Posted by Honest Patriot | May 5, 2011, 5:08 pm
  149. HP

    I’m sorry but my opinion is not swayed by the argument that if a majority of religious folks want to establish a country ruled by religious laws then we can trust them to protect minorities and women.

    I’m not so sure a majority is a necessary condition in Iceman’s mind.

    Since you had previously found his argument compelling, you may recall that his statement was that if Democracy is at odds with the “Law”, then to hell with democracy.

    Also, I’m not sure you’re in a position to label Bin Laden’s Islam as a “false Islam”. Bin Laden was hailed by the democratically elected Hamas as a fallen Muslim Arab hero.

    Whether those views are shared by the Syrian Brotherhood or other brotherhoods is not immediately clear, as I have yet to see any official repudiation of Bin Laden by any of these groups.

    On your last point, Iceman has formally endorsed the “Law” as it is interpretted in Saudi Arabia. While it appears he is open to re-interpretation of this “Law” over time, he has yet to provide a list of what he finds objectionable in that “Law”.

    Posted by Gabriel | May 5, 2011, 5:11 pm
  150. Honest Patriot,

    Your apology is accepted.

    You may not accept whatever you may not accept.

    By the same argument that community has the right to reject your vision of universality.

    Also you cannot keep using so-called as a yardstick. They are the aberration and not the norm.

    Your conception of separation of State and Church does not apply to the Muslim religion, at least to the Sunni branch of it. There has never been and there will never be such a church.

    The concept of the validity and applicability of the LAW to Muslim communities is universal to Muslims, in all the major branches, and is in no need for approval from anyone outside the faith.

    Posted by iceman | May 5, 2011, 5:17 pm
  151. ….correction @350,

    Also you cannot keep using so-called Taliban as a yardstick. They are the aberration and not the norm.

    Posted by iceman | May 5, 2011, 5:19 pm
  152. Actually, iceman, your characterization of Islam, in particular Sunni Islam, is very instructive. Is it correct to assume that this understanding is universally accepted by all Sunni Muslims??

    Posted by Honest Patriot | May 5, 2011, 5:36 pm
  153. While all this fun and games is going on next door, the Lebanese are still unable to form a government, even a “one color” government.

    How truly pathetic.

    I’ve said this before, much to some ppl’s chagrin: “Lebanon does not deserve to be a state. It is a failed state by any and all known and accepted standards.”

    There is absolutely no excuse for M8 to be unable to form a government. There is absolutely no excuse for Mikati not to tender his resignation after 3-4 months of deadlock.
    And there is even less of an excuse for Lebanon to have such a shit constitution that allows and even encourages such vaccums with no time limits. Any self-respecting state would have called for early elections after such a deadlock. Any self-respecting statesman would have withdrawn their candidacy after 3-4 months of deadlock. Any self-respecting nation would not accept anything less.

    Yet the Lebanese sit there, without a word of protest. We are truly the most sad and pathetic creatures on this Earth. I’ve said it before: Us Lebanese like to brag around like the good racists we are about how smart and advanced we are, compared to the savages from the gulf or northern Africa, but truly, every other Arab country bar none, has put us to shame.

    Posted by Bad Vilbel | May 5, 2011, 5:50 pm
  154. Iceman and Zenobia,
    I like Zenobia’s analysis. I think Iceman’s point that Islam is not static needs to be examined through two facts:
    1- “Bab alijtihaad” was shut in Sunni Islam in the year 1,000 AD. Today, no Sunni muslim or otherwise dares interpret the Quran.
    2- Those who are issuing “fatwas” in the Sunni muslim world (not all but most) are so backwords non of us would hire them to clean their house let alone create new guidlines for the “umma”.
    This is not a reflection on Islam, rather a reflection on muslims and their current state of affairs. It is sad at best. When Mohammad Abdo (the Egyptian thinker) went to Paris in the first part of the 1900s, his students asked him upon his return:”what did you see in Paris?” His response was:”I saw muslims without Islam and here we have Islam without Muslims”. If we looked closely at the history of Islam, we will find things that were never pointed out to us in school. Those of us who went to school in the Arab world know the story of Omar Ibn Alkhataab, when he called Amr Ibn Alaas (the ruler of Egypt at the time) and asked him:”What would you do if you caught a thief?” He answered:” I will cut his hand off”. Omar’s answer was:”If he were hungry, I would cut your hand off”. Being, he as the ruler has the responsibility to make sure that no one under his rule would go hungry. Don’t you think that this act is bending the Quran’s rules?. Doesn’t it say clearly in the Quran that the thief shall have his hand cut off?. Just something for all of us to ponder. Omar could do this only a few years after Mohammad’s death and we in the 21st century don’t even dare discuss issues related to the Quran without being called “Kuffar”.

    Posted by Sheila | May 5, 2011, 5:52 pm
  155. Honest Patriot,
    No, this is not the interpretation of all Sunni Muslims. I think you are right. The only way to have fairness for all is to separate government from religion. In my personal opinion, the only reason why Mohammad had people follow Islamic law, was because it was the only way to control the chaos. He was a reformer. At that point in history, people were out of control. He managed to instill discipline and morality. Back then, this was the only way to make sure people would obey the “law” when it is God’s law and frying in Hell is the punishment. Times have changed. We have to understand that when we say that Islam is the answer, we have to understand that the core of Islam values is the answer and not the reincarnation of a time bygone.

    Posted by Sheila | May 5, 2011, 6:05 pm
  156. Speaking of which,

    I believe the emergency laws and the draconian policies of the Syrian regime cultivated political Islam in Syria. For one, citizens were not allowed to gather in public except in the mosques. Even if you were not devout, a citizen would be compelled to join a wider community with fellow countrymen. The mosque became synonymous with social networking.
    Two, direct discrimination against Sunni majority reflected in institutions especially the military.
    Three, Hama 82.
    Directly or indirectly, the regime should be held accountable for fermenting elements of religious extremists. In addition, those who provide two options only, either regime or religious bloodshed are falling into the catch-22,that vicious circle the Assads created.
    Having said that, We should not generalize and paint a picture of Islamists with one colour. Not all politically motivated Islamists are Salafi/wahhabi and there is evidence abound of the gulf between the MB and the Salafis. The MB , also differs from country to country taking in local realities.
    Not all Muslim men are part of a political Islam group, one can be devout and have no affiliations.
    There is a lot of blurry lines, and this is why some points are getting lost in translation and why pro-regime supporters are waving this card around to incite fear in a very predictive Orwellian style.
    There are cases of individual atrocities that reek of sectarianism but there are also an abundance of stories of harmonious co-operation and acts of altruism between communities.
    Just from the amateur videos alone, I have yet to see any elements of rabid salafis wielding axes running amok. There is however quite a constant pattern in the “Security Forces” to use Orwellian Newsspeak spraying bullets on a “normal” crowd of citizens taking cover.
    It is just futile to prescribe to the opinion that “if Assad falls, Syria will be run by Islamic extremists” toed by many regime apologists.

    Posted by Maverick | May 5, 2011, 6:12 pm
  157. HP,

    Does your question in 352 relate to this statement?

    “….at least to the Sunni branch of it. There has never been and there will never be such a church.”

    If so, then my answer is YES. Otherwise, please clarify.


    Your historical information regarding ‘bab alijtihad’ is not accurate. You’re way off by about 600 years. In fact, the most productive philosophical discourses in Islam happened after and not before the year 1000 AD. Needless to say the subject of jurisprudence was very much alive until a couple centuries or so after the Ottoman’s came on the scene.

    Yes there was a period of stagnation, but by the nineteenth century things began to change.

    Your somewhat sweeping generalization about today’s so-called Muftis is also inaccurate even though it may be applicable to some. If you’re not aware of the presence of dedicated scholars, please tone down such generalizations. In addition, you may want to become aware that Muslims (Sunnis) do not look at any fatwa from any Mufti to be more than a ‘learned’ opinion that can be equally rejected or accepted.

    Would you like to hire the current Syrian Mufti as a house cleaner? He ceratinly fits that category when he bans social networking tools and repeats the official narrative of the state about demonstartors. He is also from Aleppo unfortunately.

    Posted by iceman | May 5, 2011, 6:19 pm
  158. “No, this is not the interpretation of all Sunni Muslims.”

    How do you know Sheila?

    This is the second time you provide misinformation!!!

    Please cite one example of a Sunni polity in history where the Church and State were one.

    As for the LAW, please say not about Mu7hammad what you do not know.

    The LAW is something that has been resolved once and for all and no two Muslims would argue about the its validity and applicability. The Qura’n is clear on this. Hence, my assertion that both major branches agree to it and is not in dsipute. In fact it explicitly classifies those who do not rule by its precepts are outside THE FOLD (Unbelievers).

    Please read and understand the Qura’n and then come back and enlighten us.

    You’re providing too much misinformation in the name of open-mindedness. We are open minded to accurate information but not to misrepresentations.

    Posted by iceman | May 5, 2011, 6:29 pm
  159. iceman, yes, you answered my question, I think. If I understand correctly, your premise is that Islam is intrinsically both a religion and a form of government. In consequence, considering that Islam can be a “church” within a society that is governed by a constitution and by laws that are not an integral part or at least derived from Islam is a non-starter. “There has never been and there will never be such a church,” in your own words.

    If I understood correctly, then you have answered my question. Sheila has clarified the potential other answers to my question by offering a different point of view from yours, I think. I can respectfully disagree with you and side with Sheila but I will concede to you that it is just an opinion I have formed and I make not pretenses to speak of what a true Muslim does or should believe.

    Having said all that, I do want to point out that it is indeed this assumption by many that true Muslims will never accept an independent rule or a rule by non-Muslims and all they will do is lay dormant until such time that they can overtake the existing rule and establish an Islamic state, it is this assumption that creates, on behalf of those “many,” a deep mistrust of Islam and, very regrettably, in a minority of them, a hatred of Islam.

    To the extent that your premise about an Islam which is a “church” devoted only to religion and apolitical cannot and “will never” exist, then I’m afraid this does feed into certain assumptions and stereotypes that cause an abject bigotry against Muslims. I reject such bigotry but then I (respectfully) disagree with your premise which would give rise to and justification for those who perhaps for other hidden reasons want to exercise such bigotry.

    Maybe I’m being too diplomatic here (?).

    Perhaps, iceman, if you clarify further your statement about whether Islam can coexist with other religions simply as a religion and without involvement in politics, maybe things will become a bit more understandable.

    Posted by Honest Patriot | May 5, 2011, 6:36 pm
  160. Notice HP (35) that I keep bringing up the issue of the LAW. This is the central point which all Muslims agree upon. Sheila cannot prove what she is saying. You could agree with her because that is your preference. But I can refute her assertions in one or two verses that require no interpretation whatsoever which I am sure she can look up. They are as clear as the sun in midday.
    All that is required from a government ruling a Muslim community is to observe that LAW and applies it. There is no requirement that the government should be run by Muftis or Mullahs (at least from the Sunni point of view).
    You may compare this state of affairs to the early establishment and development of Roman Law. Muslims enforced their laws on lands they controlled because there was an element of universality already enshrined in those laws and were incomparable any where in the world for almost a millennia.
    That is where Sheila and I may agree but aside from that there are way too many misrepresentations in her presentation.

    Again your question of trust or lack thereof from others is neither needed nor sought after. This is a question of self determination. It is as simple as that. People want to be governed in a way reflecting their will. That is all there is to it. The West would do itself a BIG service if it gives up on its patronizing attitude.

    Now back to Syria and Dera’a in particular, it is beginning to emerge that in fact real massacres were committed during the crackdown in the last 10 days. According to this BBC report (sorry again only Arabic) and quoting eyewitnesses who reported to the Syrian Center for Human Rights over 240 bodies (civilians)were recovered in the last two days only from Dera’a. There were also over 70 security and army bodies that were also recovered and all shot in the back,

    Posted by iceman | May 5, 2011, 7:03 pm
  161. “People want to be governed in a way reflecting their will. That is all there is to it. The West would do itself a BIG service if it gives up on its patronizing attitude.”

    Iceman would be saying that if the people of Saudi Arabia decided with their own free will not to be governed by the LAW??

    Posted by danny | May 5, 2011, 7:30 pm
  162. iceman, thanks for engaging and, perhaps you can tell, my interest is genuine although my knowledge may be lacking.
    If I may ask now about semantics. As you probably know there has been recently a whole bunch of hoopla in the U.S. in communities where certain (admittedly ignorant) activists where lobbying and some were taking legal action to institute a ban on “Shari3a” law. So here’s my question to you: when you say LAW, is that the same of what one would refer to as “Shari3a” law? Second, I am going to assume, based on my reasonable expectation from the numerous posts of yours that I’ve read, that, given your faith in the LAW, said LAW is probably one that (a) is Divinely inspired (or perhaps even Divinely dictated) and (b) one that is intrinsically humane and fair and so would not include such things as stoning of women for adultery and chopping the hands of thieves. Am I making correct assumptions?

    Finally, is the LAW explicitly written in the Holy Qur’an or is it derived from it through interpretations of early religious scholars?

    Thanks and I promise this will be the last set of questions as I do understand it is perhaps off topic of this thread and, more importantly, I detect perhaps that you really want to get back to the topic of Syria – clearly the main item here.

    Posted by Honest Patriot | May 5, 2011, 7:39 pm
  163. Maverick.

    I think the notion of “Takfir” in the Middle East… is not only limited to “religious” takfir, as one would understand it typically.

    The “Baath” represents a political and ostensibly secular “takfir” party. Whether political or religious, the culture and discourse of Takfir is rampant in the Middle East.

    Hence the accusations of treachery and deviancy that are thrown around willy nilly.

    And as you said before, whether it’s a bunch of crazed Salafis, or a bunch of Assad thugs, the end result is, well, the same.

    Qifa Nabki for Syria too, it seems. 😀

    Posted by Gabriel | May 5, 2011, 8:01 pm
  164. HP,
    Shar3a in Arabic means Law. Does that answer your semantic question?

    Your second question: the Law is a Revealed Law. It was relayed and interpreted by the Prophet Himself through his words and conduct and later on by followers with undisputed corroborating authenticity.

    The subject of Jurisprudence is very immense. You may want to visit Cairo and reside for couple years or even perhaps Medina to explore it fully.

    Its humane nature has been attested to through the centuries and up till the present. Calls for its implementation by HUMANS have never ceased up to our present day. For some reason perhaps incomprehensible to many Mulsims seem to have the opinion that the totality of Muslim LAW is humane and relevant to their lives.

    Hope that satisfies your curiosity.

    Posted by iceman | May 5, 2011, 8:13 pm
  165. Iceman,
    You are correct. ‘bab alijtihad’ was closed around 1,500. The last major publication was that of Al Suyuti around 1,500. But that is really beside the point. Why is it closed? And where is the productive philosophical discourses in Islam Today?. Does anyone dare contradict the basics or question them? When it is metioned 19 times in the Quran “tafakaro ya ouli al albab” why is thinking today considered “kufur”.

    About today’s so-called Muftis, to my credit, I did say “not all”. I am yet to hear or read one of those so called “dedicated scholars” say anything that makes any sense to me. Emphasis on ME. Apparantly, they do make sense to you. I do agree with you that Muslims (Sunnis) are not supposed to look at any fatwa from any Mufti to be more than a ‘learned’ opinion that can be equally rejected or accepted however, the reality is not so.
    I would also like to point out a historical fact that in Syria and until the Sheshakli made it mandatory for the Sheikhs to be elementary school graduates, most Sheikhs were illiterate.

    By the way, I know the current Syrian Mufti personally. Before he joined the “wonderful” regime, he was a different man. One that I nam sure all of us would have liked.
    And Iceman, why “from Aleppo unfortunately”, I thought we are here to voice our opinions and discuss the issues, not to attack each other. I hope you have as much respect for me as I have for you.

    “No, this is not the interpretation of all Sunni Muslims.”

    How do you know Sheila?” I know because I am a sunni muslim and I was expressing my opinion about my interpretation. I also do know personally, quite a few people who agree with my interpretation and hope there are a lot more.
    As for you asking me not to say about Mu7hammad what I do not know I am truly surprised. How do you know how much I know about Muhammad?. I guarantee you, a lot more than many out there.
    As for the Quran, I have read it many times over. And as a good Sunni Muslim, I do understand it according to my observations and research, not following what others think.
    As for this statement that you made:
    “The LAW has been resolved once and for all and no two Muslims would argue about the its validity and applicability. The Qura’n is clear on this. Hence, my assertion that both major branches agree to it and is not in dsipute. In fact it explicitly classifies those who do not rule by its precepts are outside THE FOLD (Unbelievers).” In my view is the major problem with muslims today. We are being turned into sheep, because everything has been resolved and we can not argue. I refuse to be a sheep. I also refuse to believe that these people who resolved all the issue are somehow smarter than you and me and that they will be standing infront of God taking responsibilty for you and me having followed them blindly. I thought we bothe believe that this is the core of Sunni Islam?

    Posted by Sheila | May 5, 2011, 8:24 pm
  166. yes, what do YOU mean by “the LAW”? and what are you saying is the point that all muslims agree upon?

    Posted by Zenobia | May 5, 2011, 8:25 pm
  167. sorry you already replied i see – just meaning Sharia. But, if i understood you, i don’t really how anyone can say all muslims agree on something like that, all you need is one person to disagree with you (like the one here) and you statement would be incorrect.
    Also, how can we talk about “muslim countries” – usually this just means countries where most of the people are muslim or where there is not secularism and the state religion is Islam. However, one has to admit at this point that there are almost no countries on this earth now where everybody living there is of the same religion…. even of so called “mulsim countries”… and it is not clear to me how we can imagine that secularism is important in this world because of this fact. This is not to say that religion cannot impact the legal system -or any other system – but i don’t think it can be derived from religion or the religion jurisprudence be one and the same with the State’s legal basis or law. How will all those whose religion is not of the majority (in this case say Islamic)be treated under such a law or protected with equality or due process protection? To make a State’s law the same as a particular religious law would be inherently discriminatory to all those of the minority religion or who are not of the State’s religion. In this case it would be inherently oppressive.
    So, in the world we live in NOW – it seems that the only possibility for humaneness is to have this separation/secular understanding.
    The job of a state is not to take away rights but to protect rights. So if someone wants to practice a religion – that takes a way some personal freedoms from themselves, that is their prerogative. But under the law of a state – this cannot and should not take away the liberties of others not ascribing to such religious laws. Most of the Muslims I know who have experienced living in such systems – appreciate it, and they don’t think of themselves as not true Muslims just because they are not living under Sharia law. There are plenty of right wing Christian American who would be happy to inflict their personal (supposedly) Christian ethics into the legal system and have everyone live by these laws, but this would be unacceptable to most people.

    Posted by Zenobia | May 5, 2011, 8:44 pm
  168. HP:

    recently a whole bunch of hoopla in the U.S. in communities where certain (admittedly ignorant) activists where lobbying and some were taking legal action to institute a ban on “Shari3a” law.

    I am not sure if you have these conversations (in between being pardoned by the Sultan himself!) out of true intellectual curiosity.

    A little word of advice. Don’t learn your Islam from Iceman. And whatever you do, don’t go to Medina to learn about the Law. You may end up in Iraq or Afghanistan :D.

    Anyways, you don’t really need to go to Medina to learn their “Law”. Thankfully, with all their oil wealth, they teach their curricula right here in the US and West.

    Regarding this quote I made above. I don’t know about the US. But in Canada, the movement opposing Sharia is spearheaded by recent self-identified but secularized Muslim immigrants to Canada, who couldn’t believe the Mullahs followed them from their mother countries all the way to the West.

    “Sharia” is a complex set of laws governing a whole bunch of things. Many parts of it are in line with Western law or interpretations of it. Western law itself is evolved from Judeo-Christian-Muslim principles and is constantly evolving. “Muslim Law” influenced British common law, and Acquinas’s Summa Theologia.

    Parts of it are of course stuck in the Dark Ages. It’s not very different from the Western world, where within your own lifetime, the French were using the Guillotine, and where the Americans still inject poison cocktails. If you are opposed to the death penalty, as I am, you will find those things reprehensible.

    For people like Iceman, those things are humane. And he doesn’t see any issue it.

    The real issue with making reference to the “Law” isn’t really any of that. The real issue is that when people are so assured of “Divine Authority”… you always need to worry. What is their interpretation of “Divine Law”.

    Posted by Gabriel | May 5, 2011, 8:56 pm
  169. HP.

    PS…. I don’t know why the Iceman suggested that you go to Madina to learn about the Law.

    According to the religiously inclusive “Law” in Saudi Arabia, as a non-Muslim, you are not allowed to go into Madina.

    Posted by Gabriel | May 5, 2011, 9:03 pm
  170. Sometimes pragmatism is the right way to go. Ben-Gurion decided not to get into this impossible discussion and therefore Israel does not have a constitution. Remember also that Britain does not have a “constitution” like the US either. Furthermore, they have no separation of church and state. The Queen is the head of the Church of England and clearly the state religion is Christianity. Are personal liberties compromised because of this in the UK?

    Some battles are just not worth fighting. I resent the fact that in order have a secular wedding an Israeli needs to get married abroad. But is flying 20 minutes to Cyprus to get married really such a big deal and worth a religious war? I resent the fact that Rabbinical courts can handle divorces, but can live with the compromise that if initially a civil court is petitioned, it handles the divorce.

    Why is there public transportation in Haifa on Saturday but not in Tel-Aviv? Because the compromise between Ben-Gurion and the religious parties was that whatever the situation that existed when Israel was founded would continue. Do I resent the fact that there are no buses in Tel-Aviv on Saturday? Yes, but I understand why Ben-Gurion made this deal.

    Posted by AIG | May 5, 2011, 9:05 pm
  171. Zenobia and Gabriel,
    Well said.

    Posted by Sheila | May 5, 2011, 9:27 pm
  172. Sheila,

    I was only trying to point out your misrepresentations. No personal offence.

    You can interpret the faith according to your understanding or the understandings of few others, but that interpretation doesn’t make it representative or even acceptable in general. You may try to publish your interpretations and then we can gauge the level of acceptance. But we do have a corpus of tradition which is recognized almost universally. And by the way it is not all irrelevant or needs a complete revision of a faith as in proposing a so-called Islam 2.0.

    Egypt after the revolution voted overwhelmingly in favor of making the Shari3a as the source for legislation. It is the same in many other countries including Syria in its present form.

    I am not disputing your assertion about the period of stagnation and the closure of bab alijtihad at one point in time. Some argue it was because of linguistic considerations on the part of the Turkish authorities who may have felt rightly or wrongly that nothing needs to be further interpreted and perhaps fearing a challenge to their authority. Others argue it was illegal in the first place to close it.

    But that is beside the point. We agree on this.

    As for the remark about the Sheikh being from Aleppo it is because I love Aleppo and would like it to be represented by someone of a different stature. And I know he was a wonderful person until he became a regime ‘spokesman’.

    I do not want to turn the debate into a discussion about religion and shari3a, but I do appreciate your observation about the number of times (19) the Qura’n calls for reflection. I would like you, in this case, to exercise such reflection on the following verses: Ch 5 numbers 44, 45, 47, 49, and 50. And there are many bothers that are similar and I am sure you can find on your own.

    I would be very interested in your thoughts on these but I would like to close the subject on this forum. If you feel you have something to enlighten me with on these please feel free to ask QN for may e-mail address.


    Muslims do not enforce their laws on communities of other faiths. This is how sectarianism originated and as Sheila accurately observed was often abused by the authorities.

    If you were following the thread on sectarianism not long ago you would find a heated debate on this subject.

    Posted by iceman | May 5, 2011, 9:30 pm
  173. Iceman,
    Thank you for the post. I will look into the verses you mentioned. I will also drop the subject as you have requested.

    On another note, I talked to my family in Halab today. As usual, they are unable to tell me anything over the phone. My cousin was arrested about a week before the demonstrations began from his home, because he said something on the phone against the regime. My understanding from a friend who came back from Halab 3 weeks ago, is that the security presence in the city is beyond comprehension. He said, it felt like every person in the city had two Mukhabarat watching over him. My assessment is that the regime is very worried about the two big cities, Damascus and Aleppo. However, more so Aleppo. Damascus is where all their troops are. No one can breathe in the city, Aleppo is far away and so close to the Turkish border with lots of ties to Turkey. If Aleppo starts, it will become so much harder for the regime to contain the situation. There has been some movement there. The security forces are concentrating on the mosques. Let’s see what happens tomorrow.

    Posted by Sheila | May 5, 2011, 9:49 pm
  174. Sheila…

    I hope all will be well for your cousin, and the rest of your family.

    Posted by Gabriel | May 5, 2011, 10:03 pm
  175. # 373

    thanks for that. If your family’s concern reflects the silent majority in Damascus and Aleppo then it proves what I, and others on this blog have said all along. The calm of the two cities is related to reluctance to protest because of external threat in the form of Moukhabarat and “security” forces, given their past atrocities.
    They have a stranglehold over these two big cities choking any form of organizing.
    God be with your family and the people of Syria.

    Posted by Maverick | May 5, 2011, 10:15 pm
  176. Sheila,

    I am sorry for your cousin and hope he’ll be well and all members of your family. I also hope Syria and its people will succeed in overcoming these difficult times and achieve the status they rightfully deserve.

    Posted by iceman | May 5, 2011, 10:20 pm
  177. Iceman said:

    The LAW is something that has been resolved once and for all and no two Muslims would argue about the its validity and applicability. The Qura’n is clear on this. Hence, my assertion that both major branches agree to it and is not in dsipute. In fact it explicitly classifies those who do not rule by its precepts are outside THE FOLD (Unbelievers).

    You speak as if “the LAW” were some kind of monolith. Muslims have disagreed on legal matters since the emergence of Islamic jurisprudence. The fiqh books are full of hair-splitting discussions about the differences between the madhahib on everything from dietary codes to inheritance. You are trying to impose a uniformity on the tradition that regulates away any discrepancies and inconsistencies, and this strikes me as a little bit reactionary.

    The Hanbalite resurgence in the 14th c. (with Ibn Taymiyya and his disciples) was based on calling into question many of the well-established principles that were considered canonical at that point. A couple centuries earlier, al-Ghazali and Ibn Rushd’s battles redefined the intellectual terrain of “the LAW”. Similarly, it is not hard to imagine that certain modern “reform” initiatives spearheaded by Muslim authorities (such as this one, in Turkey) will eventually be welcomed by many Muslims.

    Posted by Qifa Nabki | May 5, 2011, 10:29 pm
  178. Now that AIG has admitted zionist plans for Greater “israel” include not just Lebanon but also a return to Halab, it is no wonder that Assad has asked the Heroes of the Resistance to protect Syria from the Zionist incitement. Obviously, I am happy to have the Resistance use its arms to defend against “israel” wherever they may be attacking, and I trust that Hizbollah will be wise enough to hold enough of its fighter in reserve to protect the Lebanese border as well.

    Posted by dontgetit | May 5, 2011, 10:45 pm
  179. Thank you for your concern and well wishes. I truly appreciate it. My husband and I both come from very big families. We have a lot of people to be concerned about.
    By the way, my cousin was released after a few days through the interference of some influential family members(the only way things get resolved in Syria other than paying a bribe).
    I also wanted to point out that Halab was the epicenter of the MB movement. The leadership was from Halab and the first spark started in Halab with the “madraset al madfayieh” incedent. For those of you who do not know this dark history, this was a military school in Aleppo, where one of the high ranking officers was a member of the MB (who happened to be a Sunni muslim), called the students to a meeting at the gym (who happened to be all Alowites) and opened fire killing I believe, at least 34. How horrible. To be killed for no other reason than your religion. Reminds me of the Lebanese civil war.
    What I am trying to point out is that there is no family in Halab that did not loose someone in the MB uprising. The memory is still fresh. There is a good reason why people in Aleppo are more afraid than your average citizen. I can tell you horror stories from that period.

    Posted by Sheila | May 5, 2011, 10:50 pm
  180. Thanks for the explanation. Halab (Aleppo) is my hometown. It is the second largest city in Syria. (Maybe we are related somehow).


    Thank you. Yes, we’re all from Adam & Eve;)

    I am enjoying this thread very much. It is nice to have some opened-minded participants, and it makes it easier for me to skip HK.

    As far as the PA-Hamas agreement. The key word is “skepticism”. There have been MANY such agreements before. Also, it seems everything is pointing to a UN vote in the Fall. Not sure how this will play out. It would be nice if Israel could, one day, find itself on the UNSC, but, unfortuntely, they never will be allowed to.

    Only peace-loving countries like Libya and Syria are allowed to be on this very importantm 15 member council.

    Posted by Akbar Palace | May 5, 2011, 11:21 pm
  181. I was wondering when QN might pipe in to offer a little refutation!… :))

    Sheila, indeed, Aleppo is the place to watch – and i hope everybody will be safe. So many I know are trying to talk to their families inside – to get more information but find nobody wants to say very much over the phone. thanks for your disclosures… while we are all holding our breath…

    Posted by Zenobia | May 5, 2011, 11:28 pm
  182. QN 377,

    That quote of mine was a reply to Sheila 355 in which she made a personal opinion implying that the LAW was meant for a specific period. So the quote should be read in that context.

    I am not disputing the existence of different madhahib or even the differences that exit in the different schools. Those differences that resulted from a long period of debate only reinforce the argument that the LAW was not meant only for that period of time Sheila had in mind. However, if you ask al-azhar or other schools in the Islamic world they would tell you such differences are superficial and do not affect the core precepts of a Muslim. They may even tell you, one could move from one school to another without gaining or losing anything. On the other hand one may also argue that the Shafei of Iraq is different than the same Shafei of Egypt (he resided in both countries and produced different texts). But interestingly, you could read Shafei himself and he would explain to you what those differences are and how they came about.

    By no means had I meant shari3a to be monolithic. And you’re right about the Ghazali/Ibn Rushd debate. That also proves the point that free inquiry and thought were very much alive in that period. Ibn Taymiyyah revived and articulated the Hanbali Madhhab at a time in history when it was perhaps very much needed due to historical events when Muslims faced onslaughts from both East and West, and he paid dearly for his stands in terms of persecution and recurrent imprisonments. In fact he died in prison.

    The BBC article you linked was floated not long ago as a reformation movement within Islam similar to the Lutheran/Calvin movement of the Middle Ages. Turkey immediately denied it, insisting instead it is a mere re-examination of certain texts with the sole purpose of sifting through some that may be of dubious origin or may be in need of a second reading for the purpose of re-interpretation. They also made it clear that the number of such affected material is very limited.

    Posted by iceman | May 6, 2011, 12:04 am
  183. We’ll have to have more discussions about Islam, Iceman. I’m not sure I understand your position, now that you’ve clarified it to sound almost the same as mine. 🙂

    New post coming up soon. This one is getting a little unwieldy.

    Posted by Qifa Nabki | May 6, 2011, 6:06 am
  184. A similar view from Canada:

    “Michel Chossudovsky is an award-winning author, Professor of Economics (Emeritus) at the University of Ottawa, Director of the Centre for Research on Globalization (CRG) and Editor of He is the author of The Globalization of Poverty and The New World Order (2003) and America’s “War on Terrorism” (2005). He is also a contributor to the Encyclopaedia Britannica. His writings have been published in more than twenty languages. He spent a month in Syria in early 2011.”

    Posted by Alex | May 6, 2011, 6:29 am
  185. We used to half-joke that Iceman’s a Salafi.

    It turns out he really is a Salafi :D. That was quite the sympathetic account of Ibn Taymiyah!

    V, you may be right, maybe he is secretly Ayman Zawahiri.

    Iceman. You’re quite the “intellectual”, but it seems noone really understands your position. I doubt very much you understand your position.

    Friendly suggestion: why don’t you sort out all that mess that’s in your head before splashing it all over these pages.

    Posted by Gabriel | May 6, 2011, 7:33 am
  186. Alex,

    You really did it this time. You think that a SIMILAR VIEW FROM CANADA is the correct write up? I think you and HK have more in common. Canada do not subscribe to your extremist and fringe view.

    You have exposed yourself to be more on the fringe than anyone else even the infamous HK!!

    Mr.Michel Chossudovsky is nothing but a quack. His book on America’s War on Terrorism and his assertions reflect the mental state of someone who needs further medical treatment.

    Yup the CIA/Mossad blew up the twin towers! Kudos for bringing this up. I am certain QN can find better informed people than you. I being forthright and candid.

    Posted by danny | May 6, 2011, 8:11 am
  187. QN,

    I never modifed any position to make it look like yours. You are claiming that but you never proved it. What was brought up here in this little thread is common knowledge among Muslims with minimal understanding of Islamic history.

    I do not think that you can have a meaningful debate of Islam in this forum with few such participants who have obvious bigotries and would immediately resort to attacks that are unrelated to any thing called called, not to mention them being incapable and not informed.

    I am not challenging you to prove your statement. So we can leave it at that.

    Posted by iceman | May 6, 2011, 10:21 am
  188. As in last 387 comment read…

    …any thing called debate…

    Posted by iceman | May 6, 2011, 10:54 am
  189. iceman, I am quite interested in the debate particularly when it involves someone as erudite as you are and at the same time what I conclude someone who is a believer.

    My interest stems from what I perceive is an extremely widespread perception about Islam, negative in some cases, and which I don’t see refuted by reasonable folks like you. In answer to some of my questions you left the door open for such misinterpretations and negative conclusions, either by the answers not being clear enough or by not addressing certain specifics.

    For example:
    I see a contradiction in your statement that Muslims will not try to impose their LAW on non-muslims while at the same time rejecting the principle of separation of church/mosque/temple and state.

    I look forward to any debate/blog that QN sets up in this area. Without an equivocal understanding of where non-muslims stand in societies that have either majorities or minorities of Muslims, understanding which I hope declares full protection of everyone’s civil rights, I’m afraid what many consider bigotry against Islam will have field days in growing its members. This is a case where I do think Muslims have an obligation to participate in preventing this from happening, not just complaining about it. I expect similar responsibilities from Christians speaking out and taking positions against Christian extremists, and same for Jews.

    In the case of Islam, examples of unequivocal statements would include, for example, rejection of stoning of women accused of adultery, rejection of severing of hands of thieves, rejection of revenge exacted on innocents (such as in 9/11), etc.

    Posted by Honest Patriot | May 6, 2011, 11:12 am
  190. HP.

    You’re still going at it? :D.

    Don’t you understand that by dwelling on your “value system”, you negate your sincere attempts at a “debate”.

    As Iceman said previously, “The Law” has withstood the test of time for 1400 years, and was supported by “Humans”. And you think your verbal linguistics is going to change this?

    Are you waiting for him to say explicitly that he “supports amputating thieves”, and lashing “adulterers”. He said it already some posts ago, when he approved of the Saudi ruling on that Saudi chap who came on LBC.

    So what?

    You are, in Bassam Haddad’s words, focusing on the micro-problems and ignoring the structural ones.

    Iceman supports “the Law”. This support overrides support for democracy (early on in the Islamic empire, “the Law” of the minority ruled over majority non-Muslim populations).

    Egypt now, under Democratic Will, wants to live under “the Law”.

    We will have to wait some time to see what impact this will have on stories like this:

    We will see if those “Turkish Reforms” that QN referenced will include changes to the “Law” to recognize minority groups like the Bahaii or atheists.

    It is shameful that in the 21st century, people think there is a debate worth having on “The Law”.

    The Western world has paved a way. There is no need to re-invent the wheel.

    If Iceman likes the “Law”, he should live by the “Law”, and not impose it on others. Most of the others he will end up imposing it on are other Muslims, some of whom have different interpretations of the “Law”.

    The biggest group that suffers from the proponents of “the Law” are other Muslims.

    Iceman tries to use a strategy quite familiar in the Middle East when debates of this nature arise. It is a tried and tested strategy of people like Saddam and Qaddafi, who when called out on their attrocities, frame this criticism as one on “Islam” and “Muslims”. The intent of this strategy is to create diversions and frame the debate on their terms.

    My political philosophy is quite simple. If Iceman loves the “Law” so much, he should apply it to himself, and not project it on to his neighbours, his friends, his countrymen.

    If he commits adultery. By all means, he can dig himself into a hole, and ask fellow “Law” supporters to pelt him with stones. Or if he finds that portion of the “Law” objectionable, then he can implement whatever punishment is more suitable on himself. Just as long as he doesn’t project his value systems on others, Muslims or Non-Muslims.

    With all due respect to the example used by QN on recent Turkish attempts at overhauling the “Law”. It misses the point.

    Here in the Western world, we don’t care if Pope Benedict overhauls Catholic Law, or if the Anglicans overhaul their Laws to allow women or gay bishops. It’s “their” issue. It is relevant only to people who choose to put faith in their organisations. We don’t assume that if you are a Catholic, you are beholden to Pope Benedict.

    The model is simple and effective. And yet, it seems, people are still scratching their heads over this.

    The Middle East and the broader Islamic world will continue living in their Dark Ages, until such time that this simple principle is properly understood.

    Posted by Gabriel | May 6, 2011, 12:02 pm
  191. Correction: … Without an UNequivocal…

    Posted by Honest Patriot | May 6, 2011, 12:12 pm
  192. Gaby, what you’re describing is separation of church/mosque/temple and state. I advocate this and called it earlier a universal principle. Iceman objected to my imposing this view of a universal principle, implying it is not universal, but (in my own words) simply another “religion,” (at least that’s one way I would put it).

    The problem I have — and hence my persistence — is that if indeed iceman believes along the lines that you outline (and yes, I would like him to come out and say it, if indeed he does believe all this), then very regrettably this gives justification and excuses to all the Islam-bashers. As you can tell I am no scholar on Islam but I would like to believe — as Sheila and Zenobia articulate so well — that there is much more to Islam, through its continuing evolution — than the rigid boundaries that some like to hold on to.

    Posted by Honest Patriot | May 6, 2011, 12:18 pm
  193. HP:

    There is MUCH more to (Sunni) Islam

    But you won’t get it from Iceman. I say Sunni here because he happens to be Sunni. He subscribes to one of the most reactionary theologians in Islam.

    I’ll tell you a little story. I was in the Emirates over Christmas and found myself at a Majlis of some important fellow, with a lot of men around nodding. There were a few Imams in this gathering.

    It was 4 hours of men going on about all sorts of topics. Sunni/Shia relations, the sources of the schism. And then the conversation veered into a topic that last month or so, was touched upon by Iceman and GK… The public Adhaan (call to prayer).

    You had these guys talking about whether it was necessary or not. How annonying it was that 20 mosques in a block were competing on who can project loudest, etc.

    And yet, here on the QN forum, Iceman “advised” GK to essentially put a sock in it, because this was the “LAW” and it shouldn’t be challenged.

    As a non-Muslim, you will find that it will be hard to bring these issues up with Iceman, for a couple of reasons:

    (1) Your value systems are fundamentally different. The micro-issues you point out are not issues in his mind, and part and parcel of a legislated morality. There is no distinction in his mind between “the Law”, which, in his own words “defy historicity” and “value systems”.

    (2) There will always be some level of distrust as to the “intent” of the prodding.

    When challenged by other Sunnis and QN, he has somewhat backtracked and stated that he believes that since much of those laws were contextual and you can always dote over even more religious texts and historical accounts, that of course “reformation” was possible.

    But that is neither here nor there…. or as he responded to QN on the Turkish story:

    Turkey immediately denied it, insisting instead it is a mere re-examination of certain texts with the sole purpose of sifting through some that may be of dubious origin or may be in need of a second reading for the purpose of re-interpretation. They also made it clear that the number of such affected material is very limited.

    Posted by Gabriel | May 6, 2011, 12:41 pm
  194. Let’s see how Islamist Parties will lead the ME

    MB urges review of Israel ties

    “We should now raise our voice to ask for: an end to normalisation [with Israel] which has given our enemy stability; an end to [Egyptian] efforts to secure from infiltrators the borders of the Zionists; the abolition of all [joint] economic interests such as the Qualified Industrial Zones agreement and the export of Egyptian gas to Israel,” said Mohamed Badie, the Brotherhood’s leader.

    Posted by Akbar Palace | May 6, 2011, 12:52 pm
  195. HP,

    Thanks for your kind words.

    Perhaps I didn’t explain well or you may have overlooked its implications.

    I said previously there never was and there will never be a ‘church’ in Islam, at least in its Sunni branch. So your so-called ‘universal’ vision of separation of state and ‘church’ in Islam is not applicable to begin with. The issue does not arise, period. This is where the rejection of your ‘vision’ ends.

    I gave the example of the development of Roman Law as a historical analogy. Was there a church during the early period of the Romans? No. The church came in later and was superimposed on an existing edifice of Laws. In fact the church didn’t have any such Shari3a (to use the Arabic term) to begin with. The emperor of Rome had the obligation to uphold the Law. Europe’s dark ages ensued because the church did not know exactly what to do with these Laws that were in fact the raison d’etre for the existing order. In fact, the church may have even looked at the existing legislations as a potential challenge to its authority – moral, political or both.

    Islam is both a Religion and a set of Laws promulgated from the early days of its inception and through the ages. It regulates the conduct of individuals (Muslims) and community regarding aspects of worship, personal matters, business, peace and war as well as inter-communal relations.

    There are many outlets from which you could learn about all these intricacies but this forum is definitely not one of them.

    Thanks again.

    Posted by iceman | May 6, 2011, 12:53 pm
  196. AP,

    I think the new Egyptian government whichever form it takes may have a very strong case against Israel that may lead to a re-examination of the Camp David Accords. How far the process may go is any body’s guess and it also depends on Israel’s behaviour.

    If you read the Accords carefully, you would discover that there are provisions for the establishment of a Palestinian State and a return to the 1967 borders.

    Thirty years later none of these provisions have yet been honored by the Israelis.

    Before you try to guess how the so-called Islamists would re-order the Middle East, may be you should ask yourself what Israel could do to honor its obligations.

    Posted by iceman | May 6, 2011, 1:11 pm
  197. How can you people debate with someone who openly said on this forum that the king of Bahrain was justified in ordering the attacks on the protesters killing many innocent people.
    In Iceman’s bigoted mind these were Shia who deserved what they got because they were working on behalf of Iran to destabilize Bahrain. Notice only for being Shia they were immediately branded by him as Iranian Agents no mention that these are people protesting their lack of freedom in one of the most repressive regimes.
    He, the one eyed Mullah Iceman also openly defends the Saudi regime with a straight face he declares that the King of Saudi Arabia is not a dictator and the Saudi regime is not a repressive regime.
    This is the same guy who is calling on the fall of the Assad regime because in his mind the Assad regime represents the Alawites and is repressive to the rest of the Sunni majority. If this is not hypocrisy and bigotry i don’t know what is. Either you are for democracy or you are not.
    The guy is a staunch salafi Wahhabi and inside him it boils down to absolute hate for the Shia and other religious minorities in the Middle East. He is supportive of these medieval rules of cutting hands and stoning people, he probably even at times supported the Taliban regime in Afghanistan since his beloved KSA at one time was the only country that recognized this regime.

    Come out from behind your pretty linguistic gymnastics Mullah Iceman you are exposed from day one. You are nothing but an extremist hypocrite living in the west yet you stand against everything the west represents, a coward who thrives on hate in the name of a set of rules written by men 1500 years ago.
    Thankfully you and your likes will never get the chance to rule others.

    Posted by V | May 6, 2011, 1:31 pm
  198. This is one of Mullah Iceman’s friends with a bizar Fatwa 🙂

    Notice the comment section !! hillarious however and to his credit Anon saves the day 🙂

    Posted by V | May 6, 2011, 2:09 pm
  199. Is that true? Was Iceman really raining on the Bahraini parade?

    Posted by Qifa Nabki | May 6, 2011, 2:37 pm
  200. his words were something like “the Bahrain King was justified in ordering the crackdown”

    i have a slow connection in Kabul to look for the thread and his exact words.

    Let him deny this

    Posted by V | May 6, 2011, 3:00 pm

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