Arab Politics, My articles, Syria

Syria’s Defecting Bloggers

I’ve been a little obsessed with the changes in the Arab blogosphere over the past year, and the Syrian blogs are among the most interesting to me, perhaps because I’ve been reading several of these bloggers for years. The shift in perspective as a result of the uprising is remarkable. People like Robin Yassin-Kassab and Off the Wall (and their readers) are elaborating, dialectically, a new meaning of Arab liberalism.

Here are the first few paragraphs from my weekly piece for the New York Times global opinion page, which deals with this subject.

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The images out of Syria this month are gut-wrenching. Two suicide bombers killed dozens of people in Damascus on Friday, an alarming ratcheting-up of the violence in a conflict that some fear is starting to look more like a civil war by the day.

Within hours of the attacks, TwitterFacebook and the Arab blogosphere were boiling over with claims and counterclaims. Some accepted the Syrian government’s statement that Friday’s bombers were affiliated with Al Qaeda; others, who are sympathetic to the opposition, want to see President Bashar al-Assad fall (see herehere and here).

This highly polarized response is symptomatic of a broader culture war that has recently emerged among Syria watchers. For the first decade of Assad’s presidency, most Syrian blogs I read were fairly supportive of the regime because of its commitment to the Palestinian cause and its opposition to the United States and Israel. But this year has changed everything. (keep reading)
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Discussion

241 thoughts on “Syria’s Defecting Bloggers

  1. The Syrian Baath has been illegitimate right from the start. The fact that it took more than forty years for the Syrian people to rise is a testament to the fear and brutality that the regime has employed over the decades in order to keep the people enslaved. Finally the hard working, decent citizens cannot take it anymore. They want to be free and to be treated with respect. They no longer believe in the empty cliches and false promises of their masters.
    What is surprising is that there are a few bloggers who still support the regime on the very shaky grounds that the alternative will not be any better. Such logic deserves to be called what it is, “dictatorial apologetics”. Did I just invent a new phrase?

    Posted by Ghassan Karam | December 28, 2011, 11:36 am
  2. Hey QN, thanks for writing this! lovely… mind-bending is the right word!

    Posted by Zenobia | December 28, 2011, 11:45 am
  3. I really get the impression that most blogs are anti-regime, but keep in mind the great bravey bloggers show when they show their position using their real names and they are inside Syria (and there are a lot of examples) and a common factor between those is being arrested by regime feared secret police (like Anas Merawii, Ghreir, Razan Zeitoune) and many more..I have to say that I also get the impression that it is the blogs that have really been concerned with and talked about real problems in the nation (social, economic, showing compassion for the poor, unpreveilged and opressed ) that are anti-regime now, while it rarely is the type of blogs that are pro-regime..

    Posted by najwa | December 28, 2011, 12:07 pm
  4. QN
    Excellent article. Thanks for bringing attention to Syrian bloggers.
    Maysaloon and Robin are inspirational.

    G.K.
    Did you see the recent economic news from Syria, Your input would be very appreciated. Here is an article from a regime-friendly (apologetic) publication:

    http://www.syriasteps.com/?d=126&id=80294&in_main_page=1

    To me it sounds like pay-up time for the Neo-rich

    .

    Posted by OFF THE WALL | December 28, 2011, 12:18 pm
  5. Thank you Najwa, these are the real heroes. Imagine what someone like Yassin Haj Salih and Razan Zeytouneh have to go through. As a journalist, Yassin participates in demonstrations and still writes articles that are perhaps among the most clear in their identification with the real people, while on the run. These women and men are making history along with the Syrian People,

    Posted by OFF THE WALL | December 28, 2011, 12:24 pm
  6. A few dissident blogging chatterers (and most of them not Syria-based either, I’d bet) are inconsequential, impotent and meaningless. You can’t point me to a widely circulating non-foreigner information media outlet taking an opposition political line. The records of the last 15 years show that barriers to new entrants are not high in Arabic media markets. If a biggish market window for opposition media hypothetically existed for Syria, we would’ve seen it being filled by now. Qifa Nabki can’t point to any such. This is a concrete sign that the regime is strong. In October I gave a list of 22 other concrete items that show the political strength of the Syrian Establishment at http://www.joshualandis.com/blog/?p=12509&cp=all#comment-281318

    The following is a bunch of summary points made by a pro-regime commenter (not me) at http://en.moqawama.org/essaydetails.php?eid=15987&cid=269 . We on the pro-regime side see: (1) extensive and intensive public support for the government and for the spirit of national togetherness, (2) no localities fallen under control of dissidents in any way that’s socially sustainable, much less militarily sustainable, (3) security forces are conducting their operations with good discipline, (4) sectarianism is not raising its ugly head, with an exception for some neighborhoods in Homs City, (5) the details of the government’s comprehensive reform program are well-supported and uncontroversial nationwide, (6) the various negative side-effects on the economy are being received by the generality of public opinion stoically, with understanding, with resolve to tough it out, (7) the ongoing barbarous violence on the behalf of the ouster of the regime has weakened the democratic electability of every anti-regime faction, (8) the Russian foreign ministry shows it sees almost all of the main aspects of the reality correctly and properly, (9) most foreign governments, although they perceive the reality incorrectly and improperly, do not intend to interfere militarily, which means the dissidents are forced to try to win hearts and minds among the people of Syria, whereas any and all democratic opposition parties you can name in Syria right now exhibit very little popular base on the ground.

    Once again I recommend my very own list of 22 concrete facts showing that the Assad regime and the broader Syrian Establishment are totally invincible
    at http://www.joshualandis.com/blog/?p=12509&cp=all#comment-281318

    Posted by Parviziyi | December 28, 2011, 6:45 pm
  7. Good comment. I’ll respond in a few hours when I have a moment.

    In the meantime, let me make the simple point that my article did not address the question of Assad’s popular support, but simply the existence of dissent from quarters that had previously expressed support. Assad’s invincibility is beyond my capacity to assess, and I admit that freely.

    Posted by Qifa Nabki | December 28, 2011, 7:25 pm
  8. Let me also say this, before dashing off:

    You can’t point me to a widely circulating non-foreigner information media outlet taking an opposition political line. The records of the last 15 years show that barriers to new entrants are not high in Arabic media markets. If a biggish market window for opposition media hypothetically existed for Syria, we would’ve seen it being filled by now.

    Are you seriously suggesting that the Assad regime would have happily allowed an opposition group to establish a media outlet in Syria at some point in the last 15 years? Really? That’s news to me. I suppose the censorship and banned distribution of even the pro-resistance, pro-Hizbullah Al-Akhbar newspaper in Syria after it published a couple critical articles was just an innocent mistake by some hapless Ministry of Information secretary?

    Yes, this may be an indication that the regime is strong, but one could point to 22 other concrete items (like the abandonment of the regime by some of its most crucial foreign patrons; the shattering of the barrier of fear; the precedents of successful revolts in the past few months; yada yada yada) that make the future much cloudier. Here again, I will defer to your expertise.

    And maybe some others can join in, and we can have an informed discussion.

    (No insults please).

    Posted by Qifa Nabki | December 28, 2011, 7:35 pm
  9. Parviziyi,
    If the regime is so strong then why has it agreed to “reforms” that would in essence at a minimum dilute its power if not outright abolish it? You may spin the events any way you choose but thr fact of the matter is that the regime has already lost and lost big.
    They have agreed to a new constitution that would allow multiple political parties, free elections for the parliament and the presidency. If that is a sign of strength then I wonder what would weakness look right? Outright abdication a la Mubarak? Yes that is coming also.

    Posted by Ghassan Karam | December 28, 2011, 7:42 pm
  10. Off The Wall,
    The article that you refer to about the anticipated deficit that Syria faces reminds me of the Environmental work by the UN over the past 40 years; excellent diagnosis but wrong prescription.
    Given the figures used by the article in question the 2012 Syrian budget is around $20.4 billion and the expected deficit is close to $9.6 billion. That is a deficit of almost 42%of the budget.
    This might turn out to be worse since Syria will sell much less oil on the international markets and since it has become a major importer of agricultural commodities.
    Deficits whether during war or peace can be financed through only the following options:
    (1) Increase taxes and or decrease spending
    (2) Internal borrowing
    (3)External borrowing and
    (4) Printing

    It should be clear that (1) is out of the question and that (3) is very highly unlikely. I would also suggest that (2) is very challenging since Syria does not have well developed internal financial markets . The good professor is suggesting that the government should force institutions to lend it the required funds. That is nothing short of confiscation which will drive whatever capital is available to flee the country.
    As a result the Syrian government has only one viable option: print. That as you have already guessed will create a major inflationary spiral which will increase the pressure on the Syrian economy to unravel.
    The longer the uprising lasts then the greater is the probability that the Syrian economy will collapse.

    Posted by Ghassan Karam | December 28, 2011, 7:57 pm
  11. Maybe there are no Syria-based, non-foreign, opposition voices because they’re all rotting in jail…

    Posted by Bad Vilbel | December 28, 2011, 8:17 pm
  12. On a sidenote, I recall ranting last week about the whole Arsal issue, and accusing a minister of not doing his job (big surprise there).
    Turns out it wasn’t simply a minister spewing out hot-air (as is often the case) but possibly a more insidious and cynical laying of the groundwork for the accusations that came from Damascus after the bombings there over the weekend. (Note the affiliation of said minister with SSNP).

    I don’t recall who it was that attempted to argue the issue with me (Danny?) when discussing the issue of possible “infiltrators” in Arsal or whatever. That whole story never really passed the smell test, specially when one sees the big hubbub that conveniently ensued. With every one and their sister in the government weighing in on the matter of possible militants in Arsal…(Funny. These same people seem to have no issue with militants in Tripoli, the South, Saida, or anywhere else).

    The whole thing reeks, specially when one puts it in context of the Damascus bombings of this past weekend.

    Posted by Bad Vilbel | December 28, 2011, 8:36 pm
  13. In Syria this year, the Minister for Information, the Prime Minister, the Vice President and other top officials of the regime are on record repeatedly and whole-heartedly supporting the principle of politically independent information media (which must legally abide by standards of journalistic quality with regard to verifying the authenticity of a news story before publishing it, thank you). The regime says it wants a democratic, pluralistic political system which, it says, necessarily includes a pluralistic media system. The new Information Media Law in force since the end of August is now the framework in which mass media is regulated in Syria today. The text of the law in Arabic is at http://www.moi.gov.sy/ar/aid19879.html .

    As you may know, under this year’s new Political Parties Law about a half a dozen new parties have been registered so far (registration requires 2000 signatories or something like that) and the bulk of the Syrian population, including the better educated population, doesn’t even know the mere names of any of those parties. The population is exhibiting very little interest in alternative parties. Likewise there are new opposition media outlets in Syria but they aren’t attracting much interest from Syrians.

    In addition there exist some specifically Syrian information media outlets which are not based in the jurisdiction of Syria but are viewable or readable in Syria (including at least one satellite TV station) but they haven’t been attracting much audience either.

    Ghassan Karam above says:

    “If the regime is so strong then why has it agreed to “reforms” that would in essence at a minimum dilute its power if not outright abolish it? They have agreed to a new constitution that would allow multiple political parties, free elections for the parliament and the presidency. If that is a sign of strength then I wonder what would weakness look?”

    First of all, the regime believes — with well justified confidence — that it will win all free and fair elections in Syria for the foreseeable future. Secondly, the regime sincerely believes in the long-term value of modernization of Syria’s political institutions, on its own merits. Thirdly, the people of Syria clearly want these reforms and the regime is very responsive to public opinion. The bulk of the people of Syria and especially the better educated people want a pluralistic political system but at the same time almost all of them will vote for the Assad’s party in the democratic elections.

    Here’s two examples of the regime’s thinking. Bashar Assad said on 16 Apr 2011: “The most dangerous thing is the existence of contradiction between the direction we [the government] are moving in and the direction the people are moving in…. What’s important at this stage is for us to reach a state of unity, unity between the government, state institutions and the people…. From my meetings with sections of the population last week, I found that there is a gap which started to appear between state institutions and the Syrian citizens. This gap must be closed. http://www.sana.sy/eng/337/2011/04/18/pr-341923.htm . Here’s Foreign Affairs Minister Walid al-Moallem in a press conference on 28 Nov 2011: “I take pride in the Syrian people…. I assure you that the Syrian people’s word is the Syrian leadership’s decision.” http://www.youtube.com/user/alikhbariasyria . Under this thinking, government actions that deliver unity between the government and the people are the government’s goal and not at all the government’s weakness.

    Posted by Parviziyi | December 28, 2011, 10:51 pm
  14. Parviziyi,
    What you are conveniently neglecting to mention in your above post is the fact that Bash Assad as recently as last February was so confident that Syria will not be affected by the “Arab Spring” because “my people love me”. Then we move forward a couple of months and we start the string of radical reforms including multiple political parties and free contested presidential elections. Did this radical change in thinking happen in a vacuum or was it forced by the strength of the opposition? Why did it take over 40 years to discover the merits of democracy? If the regime is so confident then why shell cities and neighbourhoods, why use the armed forces to invade civilian protesters and why, if the figures are legitimate, thousands have split from the armed forces? In my book all the above are signs of an administration that is willing to do whatever it takes to preserve its hold on power even if that means implementing reforms that are the antithesis of its beliefs. That is not a strong administration but exactly the opposite it is so weak that it will promise anything in an effort to buy time.

    Posted by Ghassan Karam | December 29, 2011, 1:26 am
  15. Seriously, defending the regime with intellectual yadda yadda reminds me of George Dubya voters defending his actions. To even admit that the regime MAINTAINS a system and implements laws is self delluding. Where does one even begin to reform??? The Airport official who licks 7 postage stamps before placing them on your passport, or the mid level manager that whipes his staff with his belt for not getting his coffee right. How bout getting kidnapped in daylight and disappearing indefinately. How can one even discuss political/economic/social issues when it is strikingly apparent that the dominant culture of daily oppression and backwardness is omnipresent.

    Posted by Maverick | December 29, 2011, 2:55 am
  16. Ghassan
    Thank you very much for the concise response. I agree fully with your comment regarding the excellent diagnosis and wrong prescription (both for the UN and the Syrian Regime).

    While I also agree with you that the internal borrowing as prescribed the in the article amounts to mere confiscation, the internal structure of the regime allows it to implement such solution, even for the short term. The Syrian economy, having been converted during Bashar Al-Asad years into a full fledged rent-based economy, has created, as you well know, an elite group of people and entities whose wealth and power depend on the regimes ability to survive with minimal real reforms that could threaten their privileged position. These entities are not likely to survive and a competitive economy and will be bound, at least in the beginning to extend a hand to the regime, whether they expect to receive returns or to lose their money completely (which i think what will happen). I think the regime will opt for a solution based on combining internal borrowing from this group with increased printing ins successive steps as it tries to meet urgent needs first with the first batch of confiscation, print afterward, and then go for a second tier hoping that it will get the situation on the ground under control and that the people on the street would become tired by then. The regime can do so because it knows that it owns this “Nouveau riche” group.

    Any conversation about fundamental reforms by the regime is useless. Reforms that were promised under pressure are designed not to yield an inch of real power, or to challenge the most significant burden, which is the “security state”. No real transition towards viable political plurality in Syria will be allowed, or is possible. Even at the more basic level, First of all, the theatrics of writing a new constitution is both laughable and tragic. The committee has no legitimacy, and it even further erodes that legitimacy by its confused attempts to customize a constitution that will really rid the country of the single-party control, and would ensure that Bashar AL-Assad, the biggest failure in the modern history of Syria, to keep coming back for a time commensurate with his expected natural life-span. To make it worst, the party law only allows for parties that have too much in common with the Baath party and its affiliates than to be called real opposition as if the regime wants to create mini-me parties and “progressive national fronts”.

    The regime, finding that it is now forced to do something, at least so that the president can tell Barbara Walters and other foreign press personalities that he is the reformers they have been marketing him, and provide the loyalists, as well as the counter-revolutionary domesticated opposition with excuses to argue that the opposition is not sincere as it has not accepted Assad’s reform. This is an irredeemable regime, no matter how some may attempt to presented as a strong regime. The regime is powerful, yes, it has ideological (even semi-religious) attachment to the Assad dynasty, its tentacle of control are spread very ubiquitously both vertically and horizontally in Syrian society, but it is not a strong regime. Its demise is inevitable and it is only getting closer every day. I will not put a time limit, but history says that it is a dead-man walking.

    Posted by OFF THE WALL | December 29, 2011, 9:36 am
  17. Ghassan Karam says above:

    “Bash Assad as recently as last February was so confident that Syria will not be affected by the “Arab Spring” because “my people love me”. Then we move forward a couple of months and we start the string of radical reforms including multiple political parties and free contested presidential elections. Did this radical change in thinking happen in a vacuum or was it forced by the strength of the opposition? Why did it take over 40 years to discover the merits of democracy?…. The above are signs of an administration that is willing to do whatever it takes to preserve its hold on power even if that means implementing reforms that are the antithesis of its beliefs.”

    The “Arab Spring” in other countries caused public opinion in Syria to suddenly galvanize in support of the repeal of the Emergency Law and introduction of democratic pluralism for Syria’s political institutions. Before this year, there was very little public pressure for reform in that department. The regime was focused on other departments (namely economic development foreign policy) because there was very little public pressure. This past summer the Vice President Farouq Sharaa (who will replace Bashar if Bashar suddenly dies) and top presidental Adviser Bouthiana Shaaban each said that the regime would not have repealed the Emergency Law, and would not have introduced the reforms of this year, if it hadn’t been for protesters on the streets. I agree with that, but I add that it was not the protesters or the opposition as such that made the regime act; rather it was the great masses of the Syrian people at home (and throughout the regime itself) who judged that the street protesters were unassailably right about the specific things that the regime has now agreed to change.

    While the regime is responsive to public opinion like any other political party it does also have some core values that are ultimately independent of public opinion. This year’s reforms are by no means in conflict with the core values. The regime as no doctrinal objections to democracy and — repeating myself from earlier — the regime has nothing to fear from democracy in practice because the reigme wins and will win the elections by a very comforable margin. Here’s one illustration. Two weeks ago, on 12 Dec 2011, Syria had Local Council (aka Municipal) Elections nationwide. Article 8 of the Constitution – the article guaranteeing the supremacy of the Baath Party in society and politics – doesn’t affect the Local Councils. That has been true since the year 2005 Local Administration Law. Under the 2005 law, the members of the Local Councils are elected in fully competitive fully free elections (except that sectarian and tribal parties are banned), and the executive officers of the Local Councils are simply elected by the council members without any restrictions. Under the law since 2005, the opposition forces had the legal power to win the majority of the seats in Homs City Council and elect an oppositionist councillor as the chairman of the council. Under the political reality, however, they would’ve gotten trounced in the elections which is the true reason why they sulked and called for a boycott of the Local Council Elections nationwide in 2007 and again in 2011. The official voter turnout percentage in the Local Council elections in 2011 was 41%. In 2007 it was 50%. In 2003 it was 38%. In the 2011 elections 42889 candidates competed for 17629 seats nationwide. The great majority of the winning contestants are pro-Establishment and pro-regime.

    As a second illustration, the new Information Media Law had been under earnest discussion for years before they at last decreed it into law this year.

    One of the regime’s core values is that religious sectarianism is dysfunctional in politics. Anything even remotely resembling Lebanon’s political system is to be avoided like the plague. Here’s Bashar Assad on 13 Dec 2011 ( http://english.pravda.ru/hotspots/conflicts/13-12-2011/119945-bashar_assad-0/ ): “In accordance with acting Constitution [and forthcoming new Constitution too, says Parviziyi], Syria is a secular state. Therefore, no movement that acts under religious slogans and aims to split the Syrian society can hope for legalization. This goes for the Muslim Brotherhood too. This organization can not be legalized judging upon their ideology. It does not mean, though, that we cut those people from the opportunity to participate in the peaceful life of the country. We offer them to establish their own political party which would be based on secular principles so that the party could compete for seats in parliament.” Happily for Syria, most Syrians agree with that.

    Posted by Parviziyi | December 29, 2011, 10:00 am
  18. The “Arab Spring” in other countries caused public opinion in Syria to suddenly galvanize in support of the repeal of the Emergency Law and introduction of democratic pluralism for Syria’s political institutions. Before this year, there was very little public pressure for reform in that department

    Not true and misleading at best. There was major pressure, just recall The Damascus spring and the brutal suppression of activists. Every single voice that attempted to bring up political reforms was either chased out of the country, jailed, or intimidated. Even lawyers who attempted to merely monitor the laughable trial proceedings were intimidated by their own corrupt, regime controlled guild.

    core values is that religious sectarianism is dysfunctional in politics

    But not in controlling the real power structure, the cancerous security apparatus and army, including praetorian units. Even the most die-hard regime supporters acknowledge that. A combination of sectarian-tribal-familial alliances have been the hallmark of this regime ever since 1971. Attempts to hide it behind Baath ideology has been exposed to secular Syrians before sectarians.

    That has been true since the year 2005 Local Administration Law. Under the 2005 law, the members of the Local Councils are elected in fully competitive fully free elections (except that sectarian and tribal parties are banned)

    Again not true, and in practice, everyone knew the results of the elections before the election. Aleppo is but one example, both at the local level and in national representation, only regime loyalists win. The structure of preserving seats for various sectors, which is a legacy of the socialist era, was co-opted by the regime to ensure control and co-option of tribal allegiances through the “peasant union” reserved seats and in the rural areas, and through the workers union reserved seats in cities and larger municipalities. Both are among the most corrupt and regime controlled unions. The funny thing also that even independent candidates in the country side, are members in the Baath-security controlled unions and by extension, in the highly deformed Baath-Security party system.

    Without the demise of the security-based infrastructure of the Syrian regime, no real reform is possible. Election lists are made in shadowy offices sitting atop torture dungeons that are connected with tentacles of informants, money connections, and tribal-criminal alliances of illicit trades and oligarchic elites. All the nice talk in Pravda or other papers will not whitewash the rotten foundation and structure. Even legitimate state institutions can not function properly due to the pervasiveness of these corrupt unholy alliances.

    Posted by OFF THE WALL | December 29, 2011, 10:29 am
  19. Sorry for double posting. The formatting of the above comment went bad, which may give misleading impression about what is being quoted and what is being said.

    The “Arab Spring” in other countries caused public opinion in Syria to suddenly galvanize in support of the repeal of the Emergency Law and introduction of democratic pluralism for Syria’s political institutions. Before this year, there was very little public pressure for reform in that department

    Not true and misleading at best. There was major pressure, just recall The Damascus spring and the brutal suppression of activists. Every single voice that attempted to bring up political reforms was either chased out of the country, jailed, or intimidated. Even lawyers who attempted to merely monitor the laughable trial proceedings were intimidated by their own corrupt, regime controlled guild.

    core values is that religious sectarianism is dysfunctional in politics

    But not in controlling the real power structure, the cancerous security apparatus and army, including praetorian units. Even the most die-hard regime supporters acknowledge that. A combination of sectarian-tribal-familial alliances have been the hallmark of this regime ever since 1971. Attempts to hide it behind Baath ideology has been exposed to secular Syrians before sectarians.

    That has been true since the year 2005 Local Administration Law. Under the 2005 law, the members of the Local Councils are elected in fully competitive fully free elections (except that sectarian and tribal parties are banned)

    Again true only in press articles glorifying Assad as a reformer, but in practice, everyone knew the results of the elections before the election. Aleppo is but one example, both at the local level and in national representation, only regime loyalists win. The structure of preserving seats for various sectors, which is a legacy of the socialist era, was co-opted by the regime to ensure control and co-option of tribal allegiances through the “peasant union” reserved seats and in the rural areas, and through the workers union reserved seats in cities and larger municipalities. Both are among the most corrupt and regime controlled unions. The funny thing also that even independent candidates in the country side, are members in the Baath-security controlled unions and by extension, in the highly deformed Baath-Security party system.

    Without the demise of the security-based infrastructure of the Syrian regime, no real reform is possible. Election lists are made in shadowy offices sitting atop torture dungeons that are connected with tentacles of informants, money connections, and tribal-criminal alliances of illicit trades and oligarchic elites. All the nice talk in Pravda or other papers will not whitewash the rotten foundation and structure. Even legitimate state institutions can not function properly due to the pervasiveness of these corrupt unholy alliances.

    No offence intended in any of the responses above.

    Posted by OFF THE WALL | December 29, 2011, 10:37 am
  20. I said “before this year, there was very little public pressure for reform in the area of greater democracy” but commenter Off The Wall says in reply “there was major pressure, just recall The Damascus Spring and the brutal suppression of activists.” My reading of that history is that the activists, or dissidents as I call them, never had widespread public backing nor even widespread public interest at the time. Most Syrians either weren’t paying attention or were neutrally watching a conversation among a variety of critics and dissidents having a variety of opinions. It was not a movement with a broad base. Not a movement with a well-defined agenda. Not even a movement fullstop; rather, a conversation among dissidents, including radicals who disagreed with each other. And some dissidents had a political agenda or mantra along the lines: “Activists are trying to dismantle a corrupt, tyranical regime”. That is Off The Wall’s own mantra today (I’ve come across him before at SyriaComment.com). If you make corruption accusations without good evidence, without bringing the evidence to the State prosecutors as you should, then you’ll get yourself into trouble under Syrian law, you know. I must add, I wasn’t paying any attention myself during the “Damascus Spring” when it was happening. I have my information about it second or third hand, and I’m ill-equipped to get into an argument about it. I’ve been paying a lot of attention this year. I’m equipped to argue at length that Syria’s educated classes overwhelmingly support the regime, which is the thing that Qifa Nabki’s original post was misleading about. To understand what Syria’s educated classes are thinking today you must consume the information sources that they’re consuming, which is Syrian State TV, Addounia TV, AlWatan.sy, or the very good proxy in English http://www.sana.sy/index_eng.html . One very important aspect of this year’s political landscape is that regime won the media war inside Syria by a wide wide margin and lost it by a wide wide margin almost everywhere outside Syria.

    Posted by Parviziyi | December 29, 2011, 12:12 pm
  21. Rather than take the time and effort to attack the rest of Off The Wall’s comments, here’s a repeat of something I posted concerning similar comments by Off the Wall at SyriaComment.com a while back.

    In every Western country you can find alienated dissidents who think that most large-scale private enterprises are riddled with corruption, that the whole capitalist system is corrupt, as well as immoral, and that the Establishment ought to be radically dismantled. The educated dissidents in Syria are another flavour of the same kettle of fish, with an equally small constituency of support. The Syrian Establishment is fundamentally honest and virtuous on the whole. Those people in Syria who think they see the contrary are dissident cranks, and the outsiders who believe them are bigots.

    Here’s a dissident crank who’s a qualified lawyer in the USA, talking about the USA, dated 22 July 2011: “Never in the history of this country [USA] has there existed such widespread corruption, incompetence and weakness…. Our political leaders are spineless; petty; self-serving; and corrupted puppets of the moneyed interests that own them. The divisive bickering that passes for political dialogue is pathetically shallow…. In short, there is such widespread graft and immorality amongst those who run and control our society as to prevent any meaningful change in the self-destructive course the nation is taking.” http://dissidentvoice.org/2011/07/beyond-repair/

    Here’s the dissident crank Off The Wall at Qifa Nabki today talking about Syria: “Election lists are made in shadowy offices sitting atop torture dungeons that are connected with tentacles of informants, money connections, and tribal-criminal alliances of illicit trades and oligarchic elites. All the nice talk in Pravda or other papers will not whitewash the rotten foundation and structure. Even legitimate state institutions can not function properly due to the pervasiveness of these corrupt unholy alliances.”

    Posted by Parviziyi | December 29, 2011, 12:25 pm
  22. Conveniently discounting the role of regime brutality in preventing public pressure from materializing. Throwing intellectuals and human right advocates in jail does not seem to register for the apologists as a major reason for lack of “broad public base”. wow, … But I am not impressed.

    For 40 years, the whole regime security machinery has been dedicated to eradicating the potential for establishing any broad base movement that can threaten the mafia regime, being defended above, and he apologist now say, well you failed to establish viable opposition, therefore your opposition is cranky and illegitimate, Again, I am not not the least impressed or moved or intimidated

    Another pathetic argument is the attempt to equate the Syrian opposition. which is confronting a mafia-like regime with fringe dissident groups in western democracies. More pathetic is bringing the Syrian regime and western democracies in the same sentence, even if well written.

    Educated Syrians are far more complex to only consume SANA propaganda. If they have not sided with the uprising forces, it is only partially related to SANA or its sisters, and Syria is not taking a self destructive course by choice, it is forced into such course by the brutal regime being defended above. The regime is not strong, it is scared, bumbling and will fall to the chagrin of its defenders and apologists, even smart ones who try to present it as a normal government. The reflexive (we love you) core has significantly shrunk and those willing to trust the president is at all time low. That is not to say that the opposition has gained those who lost any trust in the bumbling fool running Syria.

    If you make corruption accusations without good evidence, without bringing the evidence to the State prosecutors as you should, then you’ll get yourself into trouble under Syrian law

    because the Syrian law protect the primary peddlers of corruption through exempting security agents from being questioned in a court of law. Off course, while Off the Wall and many others were ranting about these excesses, someone was not paying attention. Well, it is not my problem if knowledge starts from the moment the regime was threaten, because, it does noted.

    Posted by OFF THE WALL | December 29, 2011, 1:12 pm
  23. It’s kind of easy to spot regime apologists. Their (long-winded) diatribes often seem completely disconnected from reality.

    Claiming that “the minister and PM are on record” as your defense is pretty freaking hilarious. Muammar Ghaddafi was also “on record” with regards to his people taking drugs administered to them in their milk by Al Qaeda. That doesn’t make it truth.

    Posted by Bad Vilbel | December 29, 2011, 1:40 pm
  24. BV
    LOL, I got rid of regime-apologetic content a couple of years ago (largely), still haven’t managed to get rid (long-winded) answers….

    Posted by OFF THE WALL | December 29, 2011, 2:13 pm
  25. I will leave you with a quote from Bashar Assad in a videotaped interview in English with the London Times on 19 Nov 2011.

    Question: A sector of the community is opposed to the regime. Even if it’s a minority, it exists. Do they not have the right to their say?
    Bashar Assad: “They have the right, but through the elections. We are going to have elections…. We will have a new parliament….. We’re going to have a new Constitution. That Constitution will set the basis for electing a President. The ballot boxes will decide who should be the President.”

    The new Constitution is scheduled to be published in two to three weeks from now — formally a draft but likely in practice the final thing, which will be finalized by the approval by Parliament and then by a National Referendum. From what I’ve heard unofficially (reported by alwatan.sy) the new Constitution says a candidate for President must have the endorsements of somewhere between 5 percent and 20 percent of the Members of Parliament to qualify as a candidate for the Presidential contest, and this’ll be the only requirement. This is another reason why the opposition parties have to compete and win seats in Parliament if they want to have any political power in Syria. Honestly, I really don’t care whether they choose to boycott next year’s parliamentary elections or not. It’s up to them. But boycotting and sulking isn’t going to get them anywhere.

    Posted by Parviziyi | December 29, 2011, 2:22 pm
  26. I’ll be brief
    lost legitimacy, therefore can not bestow legitimacy

    Posted by OFF THE WALL | December 29, 2011, 2:44 pm
  27. Parvizyi,
    Are you serious when you make comparisons between Western dissidents and Syrian ones LOL The prior are free to say and write whatever they want and publicize it anywhich way they chose and the latter fear not only for their lives but also for retaliation by the authorities who are expected to guard their rights, against their families. Are you just throwing around grenades or do you wish to have a serious discussion based ion facts.

    Posted by Ghassan Karam | December 29, 2011, 3:10 pm
  28. Bashar Assad: “They have the right, but through the elections. We are going to have elections…. We will have a new parliament….. We’re going to have a new Constitution. That Constitution will set the basis for electing a President. The ballot boxes will decide who should be the President.”

    Should have read:
    They have the right, but if they do, they’ll be abducted and tortured and beaten and intimidated. We’ll have a new constitution when I say so. We’ll have elections when I say so. And y’all better vote for me. You have the right not to, of course, but you’ll be abducted and beaten if you don’t.”

    Otherwise yes. It’s all hunky-dory…

    Posted by Bad Vilbel | December 29, 2011, 3:35 pm
  29. Happy New Year

    Salam, Shalom and Peace to all
    Shalom, Peace and Salam to all
    Peace, Salam and Shalom to all

    Just in case

    Posted by Vulcan | December 29, 2011, 5:53 pm
  30. Parvizyi,

    There are no words to explain the self delusional essay written by you. Every sentence can be refuted in 22 ways. However; even alex can’t be so deep into denial.

    Nothing to add to the commentators rebuttal above.

    BV@12 lol….It wasn’t me. The modus operandi of the Mukhabarat and their dumb-ass Lebanese counterparts are a retarded version of old Soviet KGB tactics…

    Posted by danny | December 29, 2011, 6:00 pm
  31. I’m psychologically intrigued by staunch defenders of dictatorships. But, in the end,one shouldn’t be. Intelligence is just a mere tool, and can be used many ways. Racial biology was forwarded by professors back in the days.

    Posted by Pas Cool | December 29, 2011, 7:07 pm
  32. Qifa Nabka said above:

    “I suppose the censorship and banned distribution of even the pro-resistance, pro-Hizbullah Al-Akhbar newspaper in Syria after it published a couple critical articles was just an innocent mistake by some hapless Ministry of Information secretary?”

    Here’s an example of where Al-Akhbar runs into trouble under Syrian law. The editor-in-chief of Al-Akhbar newspaper wrote on 22 Dec 2011 that “years of arbitrary rule” by the Assad regime has resulted in “pervasive and widespread corruption” and “incomprehensible and senseless repression” and he goes on to allege that regime officials are “responsible for torturing children in Deraa… unleashing blind repression in Homs… and carrying out arbitrary arrests in Hama”. http://english.al-akhbar.com/content/time-rethink-syria

    Those remarks by the editor-in-chief of Al-Akhbar are unsubstantiated scurrilous falsehoods in my judgment. I assert the Assad regime is rational and virtuous. Arrests are not arbitrary, repressions are not blind or senseless, children are not tortured, corruption is not pervasive. Let us pretend to agree, just for a moment, that I’m right that Al-Akhbar’s allegations are unsubstantiated and scurrilous falsehoods. For the sake of understanding just for a moment let’s agree that the above remarks are slander which Al-Akhbar is rehashing from the testimonies of a few devious brats who have ulterior motives to defame the regime. If any of the allegations were true they’d be in violation of government polices and probably in violation of criminal law, and the proper place to air them would be in the courts, or bring them to the ombudsman of the police. Airing them in the newsapers is slander because they’re falsehoods or at the least they’re unsubstantiated — we’ve agreed temporarily about that. Now the question is whether such scurrilities in the newspapers should be ignored and tolerated, or should they be outlawed. In Syria the answer is they’re outlawed. Other countries tolerate them to some greater degree, though every country has its limits. Syrian society is beset with a minority of stupid alienated agitators who have no loyalty to truth and honesty, and who believe and disseminate whacko fabrications without having seen decent evidence for them. The Syrian Ministry of Information policymakers have to decide whether or not to tolerate them. The government has the policy to suppress them because potentially enough fools could believe them that they could be destructive to good society on a scale that’s not small. Of course, it is destructive to good society to disseminate falsehoods that undermine the public’s confidence in the government and the police. On the other hand, most Syrians, at least nowadays, are smart enough that they don’t believe these scurrilous stories. I’ve seen this year that most Syrians do not believe the scurrilities about the regime that have been printed worldwide by Al-Jazeera, Al-Arabiya, Reuters, AFP, the editor-in-chief of Al-Akhbar, etc. So maybe in the future the Ministry of Information can ease up on repressing the scurrilities because the Syrians as a whole have proven themselves to be smart enough that the stories can’t do a lot of damage to society.

    I’m well aware that lots of people (predominantly non-Syrians) think the statement above by the editor-in-chief of Al-Akhbar is not a falsehood. But if it is indeed unsubstantiated and scurrilous, it’s illegal in Syria. Opposition information media have to work within that legal reality. It ought not be a big deal for them. It doesn’t hinder them from talking about their political vision or criticizing government policies. It doesn’t hinder them from running defamatory stories when the stories are well substantiated. They are free to criticize any and all government actions, provided that allegations of immorality and depravity like the ones above by Al-Akhbar must be supported by very high quality evidence.

    PS:
    Silly old joke, and outdated, but you may like it if you’re old enough. A dog in Lebanon was so hungry, mangy and tired of civil war that he escaped to Syria. To the surprise of the other dogs, he returned a few months later. Seeing him better groomed and fatter than before, they asked whether the Syrians had been good to him. “Very good.” “Did they feed and wash you?” “Yes.” “Then why did you come back?” “I want to bark.”

    PS:
    Off The Wall said: “lost legitimacy, therefore can not bestow legitimacy”
    I reply: “Never lost legitmacy, is virtuous, is popular, therefore will win election.” Minhebak Ya Assadna.

    Posted by Parviziyi | December 29, 2011, 9:44 pm
  33. The problem with some people that they think that the people who support the Syrian government and the president are against reform, that could not be further from the truth , we all want reform that will allow multiparty system and election without set aside and qoutas, We want the rule of law to fight corruption, we just do not want anarchy and a violent capture of power as that will lead to another dictatorship for another forty years, the opposition should stop beating a dead horse that called the Syrian regime, that regime is dead and killing it more will not lead to a better horse, they need to bury the old regime and sit at the funeral to buy a new horse that every Syrian has the chance of ridding ,what i mean is to design a system that is fair and transparent, the sad thing is their greed is going to deny the Syrian people the chance for a better system as with time the Syrian army and Baath party are comming to recognise that the end of the Iraqi Baath party and army is going to be their end and with that i expect them to fight tooth and nail for their lives, so Syria is heading toward a civil war, the only way out that i see is for the Syrian government to get free hand to restore security, and for a call for people to stay at home until the status under control, in return the Syrian government will be obliged withe guarantees from Russia and China for a time table for election under international observers.

    Posted by Norman | December 29, 2011, 10:14 pm
  34. Parviziyi, said,

    PS:
    Silly old joke, and outdated, but you may like it if you’re old enough. A dog in Lebanon was so hungry, mangy and tired of civil war that he escaped to Syria. To the surprise of the other dogs, he returned a few months later. Seeing him better groomed and fatter than before, they asked whether the Syrians had been good to him. “Very good.” “Did they feed and wash you?” “Yes.” “Then why did you come back?” “I want to bark.”

    Parviziyi ,

    The dog did not go back to Lebanon because he could not bark in Syria, he went back to lebanon because he was not allowed to bite others.

    Posted by Norman | December 29, 2011, 10:20 pm
  35. So in the name of stability (Norman) and of allegiance to a particular form of charismatic government (Parviziyi) a number of Syrian citizens (whether a minority or a majority) should not express their aspirations for change in the forms of government under which they live? Change is the foundation of any freedom and autonomy, not just the democratic kind, and those who aspire for justice as an autonomous way of living–instead of a peaceful and egalitarian way of obeying communal customs–should and could contest dominant norms that oppress them, no matter the cost and by any means necessary.

    Even if the status quo is the choice of the majority of Syrians, no majority has the right to control the destiny of a minority. If that minority cannot achieve reforms through negotiations that may allow it to live the way it imagines its own destiny, it can either secede or rebel/fight for its political future. Norman and Parviziyi, welcome to the civil war that you do not want to acknowledge. Outsiders may side with one or another faction, for strategic or ideological reasons, but the Syrians themselves need to resolve this political impasse. I do not believe that the Assad regime and its supporters want to realize that change is inevitable when people want that change! Happy new year to revolutionaries everywhere!

    Posted by Parrhesia | December 29, 2011, 11:34 pm
  36. Parrhesia ,

    Everybody wants change and everybody has the right to express their feeling but nobody has the right to riot, destroy property and cause anarchy ,

    By now, even the Syrians who want change are worry about the civil war and feel that the external opposition is complicit and the internal opposition is fearful of reaching a new system of democratic reform with the government and the president,

    Posted by Norman | December 30, 2011, 12:01 am
  37. If I was Syrian,I would not bring up jokes about Lebanon at this point of time, only because you risk opening a pandoras box. In this regard, it is no longer fashion to make HOMSI jokes, for they hold our highest esteem.
    It is the idiocy, the lies, the kidnappings, the murders, the oppression, that the regime is synonymous for that should be at the butt end of the jokes. However, I dont see the humour in what is happening in Syria and thats what makes you Devil Advocates so sadistic, that you even label the dissidents sub human for voicing their opinion, a legitimate one, a brave one, one that is way overdue.
    This popular and honourable movement is not about class, or sect or any labels of spopular revolutions, this is about rejecting the culture of fear and oppression, the very system that Goerge Orwell based his novel 1984 on.
    May the Syrian People acheive what they set out to strive for in the coming year. Safe journey home.

    Posted by Maverick | December 30, 2011, 2:23 am
  38. Norman I have interacted with you for over six years and have always thought your folksy interpretations and humour and regime apologies getting more ridiculous . However I concur with Maverick dont step over the line here, if you and Parvi want to show your Syrian chauvism, please take it to SC . I am told it is a haven for the kooks these days. Apologies all i have broken my “just observe” principle for the last two and a half years.

    Posted by Enlightened | December 30, 2011, 4:18 am
  39. Parviziyi,

    “One very important aspect of this year’s political landscape is that regime won the media war inside Syria by a wide wide margin and lost it by a wide wide margin almost everywhere outside Syria.”

    There are countless ways to dismantle your 22 points and the sentence above. I fear that in the end it will be to no avail. It’s reminiscent of discussing religion with a religious individual. In the end logic and reasoning fails as the individual will always find a sentence in that holy book that supports his/her stance. Each totalitarian system has its staunch defenders. Some are willing to die supporting it. History has proven this many times over. In the end individual liberty will win the day, as it is a force that can not be stopped but temporarily.

    Syria is a country that has not allowed open criticism of the regime. This is manifested in the political landscape, the media, liberties granted to citizens and on and on. How can one “win” a media war inside Syria under those premises? Outside Syria the picture is different. Yes, you might argue that media outside Syria is in the hands of political or other actors with a thorn in the side against Syria, thus not allowing for a just “media war” there either. Not to dwell on this specific topic, but you would then claim that media in Syria is free, as opposed to the media outside Syria?

    As for your point #6, again, no organized opposition has been allowed, thus making it very difficult for them to gather supporters.

    Jeez, I could go on and on, but I seem to tire quickly. I’ve been here before and it would take too much to argue eloquently and in substance.

    As for Norman, I can see the point where people might prefer the current regime instead of something uncertain. What I can’t understand is the defending of various dear points, like Assad’s popular support as manifested in elections. It goes beyond me how seemingly rational people lose all rationality when it comes to these various sensitive issues. Assad was the intended heir. There was no other candidate. Torture exists in Syria, performed by the intelligence services. Corruption is widespread and a hinderance to development. The reforms of Assad are mostly but a ploy to secure their position on the top of the pyramid. They have no interest in reforming themselves away.

    Posted by Pas Cool | December 30, 2011, 5:18 am
  40. Pas Cool said

    It’s reminiscent of discussing religion with a religious individual

    Agree, I think it is high time for psychologists and sociologists to seriously study Assadism as a cult.

    Posted by OFF THE WALL | December 30, 2011, 5:51 am
  41. Enlightened one ,

    Instead of calling names and insults, which part of what i said you think is demeaning to Lebanon ,t that you are better than that.

    Posted by Norman | December 30, 2011, 8:59 am
  42. Norman

    There are no insults – let me make that perfectly clear on my behalf at all. As a friend, I personally believe that you have over stepped the mark here. Parvis attempt at humour was best left alone- and if I have to to explain to you the reference to dogs in ARAB culture is not one that is well received ( and I am as westernised as they come I havent visited my homeland in 35 years )and Norman you hold on to your arab roots far more than I do- I need not explain this

    if I were to reciprocate and say that at least In Lebanon we treat our dogs better than your government and security services treat your people- who are our bretheren, would that be more factual than the story of the Lebanese dog?

    You Assadists are getting more disgusting by the day- Freedom , Liberty- Death or the Life of a dog I would prefer than support someone who supports a President who murders his own people!

    Posted by Enlightened | December 30, 2011, 9:26 am
  43. Pas Cool said,
    As for Norman, I can see the point where people might prefer the current regime instead of something uncertain. What I can’t understand is the defending of various dear points, like Assad’s popular support as manifested in elections. It goes beyond me how seemingly rational people lose all rationality when it comes to these various sensitive issues. Assad was the intended heir. There was no other candidate. Torture exists in Syria, performed by the intelligence services. Corruption is widespread and a hinderance to development. The reforms of Assad are mostly but a ploy to secure their position on the top of the pyramid. They have no interest in reforming themselves away.

    Not even the strongest supporters of the Syrian president want the regime the way it was, 99%, one candidate for the president , more than 50% for the Baath party, only probably the security services believe that the regime as it was can survive , we all just want peaceful system of transfer power back and forth..

    Posted by norman | December 30, 2011, 9:54 am
  44. Norman,

    When will you admit the simple truth that for 10 years you have been wrong on everything? Wrong on Assad, wrong on reforms in Syria, wrong on Assad’s intentions, wrong on your predictions of the future, wrong in your support of terrorist organizations, wrong on how to deal with Israel (are you still preaching for a “long” war given what a “long” war is doing to Syria?).

    This is the beauty of the internet. We can revisit what you have written in the last decade and see how wrong you and Alex were and how the strategy you supported has led Syria to where it is. So isn’t it time you came to the conclusion OTW did?

    Posted by AIG | December 30, 2011, 11:45 am
  45. Norman,

    “Not even the strongest supporters of the Syrian president want the regime the way it was, 99%, one candidate for the president , more than 50% for the Baath party, only probably the security services believe that the regime as it was can survive , we all just want peaceful system of transfer power back and forth..”

    I respect that you might think so, but I beg to differ. I’ve spoken to enough people to know that there are those who support the Syria of 1990, 2000 and/or 2010, i.e. supporting the system, the regime, or whatever you wanna call it. And they do so eloquently. But, like I stated above, it shouldn’t come as a surprise. People can argue well in support for things that are anathema to liberal values and in accordance with universal human rights. Nazism, Communism, Fascism, North Korea..you name it, it has its supporters. From what I’ve read above, I’d put Parviziyi in that same category, people who just can’t grasp the fact that there are so many things wrong with Assad and his cronies, are willing to defend his every step, and just plain delusional (in my eyes).

    Anyway, Norman, for it to have been a peaceful transition they should have started some decades ago. The system is just too rotten. Too much vested interests, too much fast pace globalization (maybe 100 years ago this would’ve worked), too much radicalism in society, too little willingness from the regime too implement the ideas that were more or less sound…

    Posted by Pas Cool | December 30, 2011, 12:00 pm
  46. Pas Cool says above:

    “Syria is a country that has not allowed open criticism of the regime. This is manifested in the political landscape, the media, liberties granted to citizens and on and on. How can one “win” a media war inside Syria under those premises?”

    I’ve two replies. The first is just a repeat of what I said earlier, namely open criticism is fully legal but allegations of immorality and depravity like the ones above by Al-Akhbar must be supported by very high quality evidence. The other reply begins with that fact that the Syrians in Syria have access to Al-Akhbar, Al-Jazeera, Al-Arabiya, Al-Ahram, etc. etc. In case you didn’t know, coverage of Syria this year by the likes of Al-Ahram (most widely circulating newspaper in Egypt) has consisted almost entirely of reproductions of reports of AFP and Reuters. I’m sure you know what AFP and Reuters have been saying. And I’m sure the majority of Syrians know what AFP and Reuters have been saying. And most households in Syria have access to Al-Jazeera and Al-Arabiya with the press of a button. The Syrian government denies all the atrocities being reported week after week in all those media outlets. The alleged atrocities are contrary to government policy and also contrary to actual government practice. Descending into repetition one more time, the security forces are conducting their operations with good discipline. They are not losing their cool despite killings of about a half a dozen of their men every day for the last six months. Now, to get to the point, Syrians in Syria have had to make a decision all year, and every week, about who’s telling the truth. And they’ve decided overwhelmingly that the government is telling the truth. Thus the government has won the media war in Syria.

    Posted by Parviziyi | December 30, 2011, 12:19 pm
  47. Parvizyi,

    “No one could be called happy without his share of public happiness, that no one could be called free without his experience in public freedom, and that no one could be called happy or free without participating, and having a share, in public power.” from On Revolution by Hanna Arendt.

    The problem of all dictatorships is that they do not understand the importance of giving individuals a “share in public power”. They do not do that because they do not have any respect for the rights of individuals, they view individuals as incapable of making decisions that affect their lives.

    I do hope that Parvizyi is not going to come back by claiming that Syria has elections , freedom of press and freedom of expression because if he/she does that then he/she will be considered dellusional? Nah just apologists? Nah misguided….

    Happy New Year to the brave and courageous Syrian revolutionaries. Victory is yours especially if you avoid violence and stick to massive civil disobedience.

    Posted by Ghassan Karam | December 30, 2011, 2:26 pm
  48. per Off the Wall comment @ #40

    there is a great book/ analysis on this :

    Lisa Wedeen’s “Ambiguities of Domination: Politics, Rhetoric, and Symbols in Contemporary Syria”

    not by psychologist, but better yet, ethnographer.

    from Amazon description:
    “Wedeen concludes that Asad’s cult acts as a disciplinary device, generating a politics of public dissimulation in which citizens act as if they revered their leader. By inundating daily life with tired symbolism, the regime exercises a subtle, yet effective form of power. The cult works to enforce obedience, induce complicity, isolate Syrians from one another, and set guidelines for public speech and behavior. Wedeen’s ethnographic research demonstrates how Syrians recognize the disciplinary aspects of the cult and seek to undermine them.”

    I can attest that it is an excellent and fascinating analysis.

    Posted by Zenobia | December 30, 2011, 3:05 pm
  49. The alleged atrocities are contrary to government policy and also contrary to actual government practice.

    This thread discusses Souria (Syria), seems you have wondered into the wrong blog.

    Posted by SYRIAN HAMSTER | December 30, 2011, 3:37 pm
  50. Pass Cool,

    I have been calling for free elections since 1979 during the last uprising, the single part system is evil it attracts opportunists and profiteers, multi party system and rule of law is what Syria need to rid itself of corruption, the new system has to be implemented peacefully, otherwise it will lead to anarchy and civil war.

    AIG,

    No, I have not change my views, i still think that along , long war is going to destroy Israel, and that is comming with or without Assad.

    Posted by Norman | December 30, 2011, 4:07 pm
  51. Parviziyi,

    “open criticism is fully legal but allegations of immorality and depravity like the ones above by Al-Akhbar must be supported by very high quality evidence.”

    Right. All reports documenting human rights abuses written by NGO:s, Governments and various international bodies are all incorrect? If this were 2010 I would dare you to walk up and down Abu Roummaneh street holding a sign that calls for the presidential elections due to imcompetence at the presidential level. After that, to spice it up, you could continue by holding a meeting with likeminded at, say, Rawda café, where you found a new political party with the aim to dethrone the Baath party. If you could’ve gone through this without government interference I just might have admitted to misreading the political situation in Syria. But see, you wouldn’t be able to do this, as political activity that goes against the regimes wishes is not allowed. Where you are right is that criticism of mundane issues, like garbage collection and environmental planning, is allowed.

    “Syrians in Syria have access to Al-Akhbar, Al-Jazeera, Al-Arabiya, Al-Ahram, etc. etc.”

    Indeed. Why forbid something that would be impossible to enforce? Enter exhibit A, internet freedom. Still not perfect, they lifted the censorship of various internet sites. Good political goodwill for lifting a law that they couldn’t enforce anyway (people were using skype and facebook and youtube anyway). In former East Germany they could access channels from West Germany. Government propaganda was well rooted in society, but the images from West Germany made it possible for an ever increasing number to understand that something was not right in East Germany. It facilitated the downfall of the East German regime. In Syria, it has advanced the political dialogue. Even if you’re right, the ever increasing number of smarter questions being posed is leading to the gradual erodement of trust in the “Syrian way”, if that phrase alludes to political freedom. The Syrian regime’s days are numbered, and there is nothing they can do about it but try to go down gracefully. I doubt they will.

    “Now, to get to the point, Syrians in Syria have had to make a decision all year, and every week, about who’s telling the truth. And they’ve decided overwhelmingly that the government is telling the truth.”

    Even if you’re wright in that a majority still support the government, the number has steadily declined. Compare 2011 to 2010. Who would’ve thought that Syrians en masse take to the streets and actually demand political freedom? This is of course what QN is alluding to, albeit from a different angle. Syrians are more or less brainwashed from the cradle to the grave. But their monopoly on information is slowly slipping away from underneath them. The Syrian educational system produces young adults that ten years after graduation still can remember on what line on what page in which book they read something while cramming for a test. There is no creative approach to learning, no questioning the party line. It’s about stuffing people’s throats with Baath ideology. There are no debates about these serious things on Syrian TV. There is no space in newspapers for those who don’t agree with yesterdays editorial. If the Arab spring has achieved anything it is in opening up information space, through the blogs that QN mentioned, the tv-channels you mentioned. The mind of the Arab is waking up, and in more and more instances it does not like what it sees. Assad, some month before the Arab spring hit Syria, says his country is immune to the uprisings. The only defensive posture that the regime can hold is that of armed gangs, international conspiracies and terrorists. People ever more than before are watching, and disagreeing, and acting.

    For almost 50 years the Baath party has undermined political freedom in Syria. It has ensured that loyalists are in critical positions. It has ensured that media is regime friendly. It has sold the story of freedom in Syria. The walls are coming down. People want more than just stability, and the regime has failed to deliver. Maslow 1, Assad 0.

    Posted by Pas Cool | December 30, 2011, 5:33 pm
  52. If anyone is interested in anti-regime Bloggers in Arabic Language, i mean those that do not exist, here is a good one.

    Bloggers4Syria (مدونون لاجل سوريا)

    Posted by OFF THE WALL | December 30, 2011, 9:43 pm
  53. Syria Comment’s Tembelim on Display

    Norman Says:

    December 30, 2011 at 12:01 am

    Parrhesia ,

    Everybody wants change and everybody has the right to express their feeling but nobody has the right to riot, destroy property and cause anarchy…

    No Norman,

    In Syria (unlike the United States where you write your posts), “everyone” does NOT have “the right ot express their feeling”.

    It is against the law in Syria because Syria still does not have freedom of speech.

    Please don’t talk about rights to the intelligent people on this blog unless you want to look foolish.

    When will you admit the simple truth that for 10 years you have been wrong on everything?

    AIG,

    Here are some “gems” from that little retarded corner of the internet known as “Syria Comment”:

    “US-Syrian relations have been deteriorating for some months now, and Syria is losing hope in any peace deal, and that means that there’s gong to be conflict between Syria and Israel,” says Joshua Landis, a professor at the University of Oklahoma. “Syria’s strategy is going to be to try to isolate the US in the Middle East, and to hang Israel around America’s neck.”

    (May 2010, by the “Professor”)

    9. Alex said:

    “The heart of the matter” Chris, is that the United States has many of the so called “friends of Israel” …

    “friends of Israel” are the most experienced and successful lobbyists for “Israel”.

    “Israel” is … all the way to the right. There is no Labor or Likud politician, there is a nation that is still quite confident that it can convince its big American friend to see almost everything in the Middle East the way Israel wants America to see it.

    This will change … because the United States will not be able to continue to pay the steep price. The trillion dollar Iraq war is only one example.

    Syria will wait patiently until that change takes place, during the Obama administration’s term hopefully, but there is no rush.

    May 11th, 2009, 6:02 pm

    Happy New Year to all; Wishes for a FREE and safe New Year.

    Posted by Akbar Palace | December 30, 2011, 11:22 pm
  54. According to Elias Muhanna, at the New York Times blog he linked to above, a “dramatic shift in opinion is unmistakable” against the Assad regime in Syria among at least some of the better educated people and “many opinion makers”. His sole evidence was a small handful of dissident bloggers like Qunfuz and Off The Wall who are not in Syria (and who if I’m not mistaken weren’t previously much pro-regime with regard to the domestic affairs of Syria and weren’t well informed or interested much in the Syrian economy and society in general, nor were they part of Syria’s societal Establishment, and instead they were supporters of the regime mainly by virtue of their approval of the regime’s foreign policies and they still approve of those foreign policies — yet I could be mistaken since I haven’t and don’t read their stuff). Last night I was listening to an Asala Nasri album from 1996 and I couldn’t help thinking “such a terrific singer, it’s such a terrible shame that she’s not pro-regime anymore.” But she by choice hasn’t lived in Syria for over a decade and she’s not representative of anything other than herself. The same goes for Qunfuz and Off The Wall. I challenge Elias Muhanna to give us more convincing evidence for his claim that “a dramatic shift in opinion is unmistakable”. If the shift is “dramatic” he couldn’t have difficulty supporting it with better real-world evidence; if the shift is “unmistakeable” he couldn’t be making a mistake, could he? I hope he can concede that in principle anyone would be quite mistaken to think “a dramatic shift” is “unmistakeable” without dramatic and unmistakeable evidence from real Syrians in Syria.

    Another blogger on the Internet said on 2 nov 2011 that in Syria “the military, security, and political ruling establishment stands coherent, unified and potent”. I agree and I’d like to highlight the bit that the “ruling establishment stands coherent” — logically, intellectually and rationally coherent. Not just coherent but correct, virtuous and wise. Their unity and wisdom comes down to the fact that they are all intellectually and rationally convinced of the correctness of the bit that’s bolded in the following paragraph:

    “Tribal Leaders in Eastern Syria (Deir Ezzor, Hasaka and Raqqa provinces) gathered at a large meeting hall in Deir Ezzor on 15 Dec 2011. In a statement issued at the conclusion of the meeting, the tribal leaders condemned the Arab League’s actions against Syria. They said the comprehensive reform program led by President Bashar al-Assad is the sole exit pathway from the current political unrest in Syria. They underlined the importance of putting into effect the reform decrees and decisions. They called for comprehensive national engagement in the responsibility to build the country. The Syrian people look forward to an expansion of democracy that genuinely reflects the Syrian values and ethics, and not an imported European model, they said. They proclaimed their adherence to the spirit of national unity.” http://www.sana.sy/eng/21/2011/12/16/388593.htm

    Posted by Parviziyi | December 31, 2011, 1:23 pm
  55. 5000 is not enough NewZ

    Parviziyi,

    How many Syrians have to die before you will “write off” (ya’ani call for regime change against) the Assad regime?

    Posted by Akbar Palace | December 31, 2011, 1:42 pm
  56. Parviziyi,

    Yes we know, most Iraqis also supported Saddam and most Libyans supported Qaddafi. Oh, and most Egyptians supported Mubarak.

    Enough with the BS. Syrians are not stupid. They see what other governments were able to do for their people and what Assad was able to achieve. Yes, there are a about 2 million people for which the Assad regime was good, but there are 20 million people for which the Assad regime was terrible.

    If most people support Assad why is he afraid of open and fair elections? Why is he afraid of letting the foreign press cover what happens in Syria? What counts are actions not words, and by not allowing free and open elections, Assad has shown he knows he is not popular.

    Posted by AIG | December 31, 2011, 1:43 pm
  57. There is so much to comment upon in Parviziyi’s contributions. I don’t have much time this weekend, but I’ll attempt to respond to a few things.

    @21

    Parviziyi said:

    Those remarks by the editor-in-chief of Al-Akhbar are unsubstantiated scurrilous falsehoods in my judgment. I assert the Assad regime is rational and virtuous… Let us pretend to agree, just for a moment, that I’m right that Al-Akhbar’s allegations are unsubstantiated and scurrilous falsehoods… Airing them in the newspapers is slander because they’re falsehoods or at the least they’re unsubstantiated — we’ve agreed temporarily about that. Now the question is whether such scurrilities in the newspapers should be ignored and tolerated, or should they be outlawed.

    Al-Akhbar has been banned in Syria on many occasions. I’m sure that on each one of those occasions, the Ministry of Information was able to point to a specific instance of an “unsubstantiated and scurrilous falsehood” to justify its censorship of the journal. Why are we obligated to believe them? What makes this regime more “virtuous” (a ludicrous adjective to be applied to any government, let alone a single-party dictatorship that has ruled Syria for over 40 years) than those who claim that it is corrupt and murderous?

    I’m well aware that lots of people (predominantly non-Syrians) think the statement above by the editor-in-chief of Al-Akhbar is not a falsehood. But if it is indeed unsubstantiated and scurrilous, it’s illegal in Syria. Opposition information media have to work within that legal reality.

    That anyone would find this argument convincing is just breathtaking to me. Who is the arbiter of what is unsubstantiated and scurrilous, and therefore illegal? The government. Convenient…

    I’m sorry Parviziyi, but I think that we have a fundamentally different definition of what constitutes a “virtuous” government. In my view, a system in which one is free to be a “dissident crank” as you put it, is infinitely more virtuous than a system that bans, imprisons, censors, and disappears those who say, write, and think things that it deems to be unsubstantiated and scurrilous. The notion that Syria would have a lot to teach the rest of the world, in this respect, is very silly indeed.

    Posted by Qifa Nabki | December 31, 2011, 4:25 pm
  58. @ Parviziyi #46

    The Syrian government denies all the atrocities being reported week after week in all those media outlets. The alleged atrocities are contrary to government policy and also contrary to actual government practice. Descending into repetition one more time, the security forces are conducting their operations with good discipline. They are not losing their cool despite killings of about a half a dozen of their men every day for the last six months. Now, to get to the point, Syrians in Syria have had to make a decision all year, and every week, about who’s telling the truth. And they’ve decided overwhelmingly that the government is telling the truth. Thus the government has won the media war in Syria.

    Can you explain to us all how you have access to such information? How do you know that:

    (1) Security forces are conducting their operations with good discipline

    (2) Syrians have decided overwhelmingly that the government is telling the truth?

    Are you on the front lines in Syria? (Your IP address suggests otherwise). Are you taking polls of ordinary Syrians to determine what they think? If so, what methodology are you using to filter out those responses driven by fear and paranoia?

    Or are most Syrians not afraid of their government, since it is so virtuous? If that’s the case, then why the need for the mukhabarocracy? Are they devoted to rooting out the handful of “dissident cranks”?

    Posted by Qifa Nabki | December 31, 2011, 4:34 pm
  59. Happy new year everybody. Fast your seat belt for 2012.

    Posted by 3issa | December 31, 2011, 5:02 pm
  60. @ Parviziyi #54:

    I challenge Elias Muhanna to give us more convincing evidence for his claim that “a dramatic shift in opinion is unmistakable”. If the shift is “dramatic” he couldn’t have difficulty supporting it with better real-world evidence; if the shift is “unmistakeable” he couldn’t be making a mistake, could he? I hope he can concede that in principle anyone would be quite mistaken to think “a dramatic shift” is “unmistakeable” without dramatic and unmistakeable evidence from real Syrians in Syria.

    Let me quote the relevant passages in their entirety so that your paraphrases have proper context. What I wrote was:

    “Absent any kind of reliable polling, there is no way to assess how much popular support the Syrian opposition really enjoys. But as the blogosphere’s reaction to last week’s violence demonstrates, Assad has lost his legitimacy among many opinion makers and liberals, and surprisingly quickly… Though still-conflicting testimonies and partisan loyalties remain, a dramatic shift in opinion is unmistakable.”

    As I say above, I have no way of assessing how much popular support the opposition enjoys. The piece I wrote was intended to shine a light on the Syrian bloggers I’ve followed for the past several years, and how they have pretty much all become ardent regime critics. It’s true, none of them was an out-and-out regime lover like yourself, but the level of antipathy that people like Qunfuz, Maysaloon, and Rime Allaf now display toward Assad is striking to me.

    So too is the coverage of Al-Akhbar, As-Safir, and Al-Jazeera: three media outlets that had been reliably pro-Assad for at least the past five years and are now very critical.

    I have no doubt that there are plenty of pro-regime bloggers out there (and some of them, like Camille Otrakji, are good friends of mine). The people I mention could be, as you suggest, disconnected elites observing from afar who are totally out of sync with what’s actually going on.

    But then we turn to the daily reports of all those media outlets you mention (AP, Reuters, etc.), and the scenario you are painting begins to look less and less likely. Call me crazy, but I’m willing to give much more credibility to the AP and Reuters (and yes Al-Jazeera) than I am to SANA. That I even need to argue this point strikes me as utterly bizarre. SANA is the media wing of a totalitarian political party. AP, Reuters, and Al-Jazeera covered Israel’s wars on Lebanon and Gaza in 2006 and 2009, in all of their brutality; they covered the uprisings against Mubarak and Ben Ali even though these were Western (and Saudi) allies; they covered the NATO bombardment of Libya and the crass political machinations behind it.

    And today, they are covering Assad’s bloody campaign against his own people. And when they provide mounting evidence that there has been a dramatic shift of opinion against Assad in many circles — even if plenty of Syrians remain pro-regime — I’m going to give their narratives greater weight than those of a government that has banned foreign journalists from entering its country and routinely bans publications that publish “unsubstantiated and scurrilous” critiques of its “virtuous” practices.

    Happy New Year.

    Posted by Qifa Nabki | December 31, 2011, 6:03 pm
  61. Qifa Nabki says: “The Ministry of Information was able to point to a specific instance of an “unsubstantiated and scurrilous falsehood” to justify its censorship of the journal. Why are we obligated to believe them?” I reply that you’re not at all obligated to believe the allegations are falsehoods, but you must accept that the evidence supporting the allegations is insufficient to permit publication under Syrian law. To help you relate better to the Syrian law, suppose somebody comes onto your blog and energetically criticizes what you say about Proportional Representation in Lebanon, and you find what they’re saying is entirely unpersuasive. You’ve got no desire to block them from posting, right? Neither does the government of Syria in the comparable case. Now suppose they come on your blog and say you’re a child molester and you’ve taken bribes from a crony of Walid Jumblatt, and they don’t support these allegations with high quality evidence. If they come back month after month with the same stuff, still unsupported with high quality evidence, what do you do? You block them. So does the government of Syria in the comparable case. Qifa Nabki says: “Who is the arbiter of what is unsubstantiated and scurrilous, and therefore illegal? The government.” As I said before, when you’ve got high quality evidence you should bring it to the government’s criminal prosecutors or the police ombudsman. If you don’t think you can get justice done from those quarters, then that’s the difference between me and you on this question. Perhaps another difference between me and you is that you don’t agree with me that “Syrian society is beset with a minority of stupid alienated agitators who have no loyalty to truth and honesty, who believe and disseminate whacko fabrications without having seen decent evidence for them.”

    Posted by Parviziyi | December 31, 2011, 6:10 pm
  62. Evidence the better-educated classes support the Assad regime:
    (1) There has been almost no anti-regime agitation on university campuses in Syria this year. As one concrete instance, the dissidents called for a nationwide General Strike, universities included, to happen on 11 Dec 2011. On that day at the main university in Homs City virtually all teachers and students showed up as usual and the university operated as usual.
    (2) The people in the anti-regime demonstrations nationwide this year were overwhelmingly from the poorly educated working classes.
    (3) The better-educated people are mostly concentrated in the two largest cities and those two cities had only very very small, and only few, anti-regime demonstrations during year 2011. The two largest cities had huge pro-regime demonstrations several times during the year and some large fraction of the people who attended were from the better-educated classes.
    (4) The great majority of Syrians get the great majority of the political news and information about their country from information outlets that are based in their country. All of the widely circulating information outlets based in Syria are pro-regime. There isn’t a single not-pro-regime information outlet based in Syria that gets even moderately wide circulation. Not-pro-regime and anti-regime information outlets are not illegal in Syria, though they have to comply with certain rules which they dislike. The fact that rules-compliant not-pro-regime or anti-regime media outlets don’t have significant market share in Syria implies that better-educated people prefer to consume from pro-regime media outlets.

    Posted by Parviziyi | December 31, 2011, 6:14 pm
  63. Qifa Nabki asks “How do you know that security forces are conducting their operations with good discipline?” That’s a good question. It’d take me a lot of time and space to answer it convincingly for you. The short answer, which is just telling you how I know myself but not telling why anyone should agree, is that on and off during the year I’ve spent many hours and sometimes whole days at Youtube watching videos from Syria, including lots of videos posted by the anti-regime crowd. There’s an enormous number of videos at Youtube from Syria this year. I am firmly pro-Assad alright but much more fundamentally I am pro-truth no matter what the truth may be. If the regime were not conducting its security operations with good discipline I would’ve seen it at Youtube. I didn’t see it.

    Posted by Parviziyi | December 31, 2011, 6:35 pm
  64. @Parviziyi #61

    There has been a great deal of scholarship and journalism on Syria that has amply documented evidence of corruption and human rights abuses in Bashar’s Syria. I don’t know anyone (except yourself) who disputes that there have been flagrant transgressions along these lines by the regime, even friends who believe that Bashar is the best of all possible options.

    So the blogging analogy you draw is incorrect. The Gay Girl in Damascus is a more appropriate analogy. In that case, an investigation was launched by National Public Radio (and others) and evidence was produced showing that the author of those posts was not a gay girl in Damascus but rather a straight man somewhere else. Were he then to block those people, claiming that they didn’t have “high-quality evidence”, I don’t imagine you’d defend him.

    Posted by Qifa Nabki | December 31, 2011, 6:47 pm
  65. @ #62

    (1) There has been almost no anti-regime agitation on university campuses in Syria this year. As one concrete instance, the dissidents called for a nationwide General Strike, universities included, to happen on 11 Dec 2011. On that day at the main university in Homs City virtually all teachers and students showed up as usual and the university operated as usual.

    Which has nothing to do with a 40+ year history of state censorship and surveillance, intimidation, liquidation of political opponents, and totalitarianism…

    (2) The people in the anti-regime demonstrations nationwide this year were overwhelmingly from the poorly educated working classes.

    Who have nothing to lose…

    (3) The better-educated people are mostly concentrated in the two largest cities and those two cities had only very very small, and only few, anti-regime demonstrations during year 2011. The two largest cities had huge pro-regime demonstrations several times during the year and some large fraction of the people who attended were from the better-educated classes.

    I have no doubt that there are many people who share your views in Syria. I also have no doubt that there are many who deplore this regime but are not willing to be made examples of.

    (4) The great majority of Syrians get the great majority of the political news and information about their country from information outlets that are based in their country. All of the widely circulating information outlets based in Syria are pro-regime. There isn’t a single not-pro-regime information outlet based in Syria that gets even moderately wide circulation. Not-pro-regime and anti-regime information outlets are not illegal in Syria, though they have to comply with certain rules which they dislike.

    Again, I will repeat that if AL-AKHBAR and AS-SAFIR are running afoul of regime censors on a routine basis, it is very easy to see why there are no widely-circulating anti-regime outlets based in Syria. Who would dare to buy a Syrian Al-Akhbar newspaper that was openly critical of the regime on a daily basis? Who would dare to take the chance that the guy selling him the newspaper wasn’t a mukhabarat agent who put his name on a list?

    For that matter, how many anti-regime media outlets existed in Tunisia prior to Ben Ali’s fall? How motivated was the vast majority of Egypt’s population to stand up and topple Mubarak?

    Posted by Qifa Nabki | December 31, 2011, 6:57 pm
  66. The “Evidence the better-educated classes support the Assad regime” NewZ

    There has been a great deal of scholarship and journalism on Syria that has amply documented evidence of corruption and human rights abuses in Bashar’s Syria.

    QN,

    I’m sure not the “scholarship and journalism” you are referring to was never created at Syrian colleges and universities. I mean you DO want to pass your courses? No?;)

    Posted by Akbar Palace | December 31, 2011, 6:59 pm
  67. @ #63

    Parviziyi said: I am firmly pro-Assad alright but much more fundamentally I am pro-truth no matter what the truth may be. If the regime were not conducting its security operations with good discipline I would’ve seen it at Youtube. I didn’t see it.

    Good discipline = ruthless effectiveness?

    Good discipline = 5000 dead, including 300 children?

    Good discipline = dealing with protesters in a way that led Assad himself to say that “mistakes have been made” by an army that he “does not own”?

    Posted by Qifa Nabki | December 31, 2011, 7:06 pm
  68. Parviziyi,

    “Now suppose they come on your blog and say you’re a child molester and you’ve taken bribes from a crony of Walid Jumblatt, and they don’t support these allegations with high quality evidence.”

    I’d like for you to differentiate between slander and criticism. Slander is a criminal felony as far as I know.

    Also, when discussing slander, one should differentiate between targeting an individual or a politician/political party.

    In any case, it’s not solemnly instances like the one you mention that are edited out of Syrian media and society. It is much more than that. You think you would be up for that walk down Abu Roummaneh street (in the Syria of 2010)?

    Lastly, gauging public opinion is not easy in a country like Syria where polls are not allowed (unless approved by the regime of course, but that’s rather silly to say, as anything approved by the regime is, well, approved).

    Posted by Pas Cool | December 31, 2011, 7:15 pm
  69. Year after year Bashar Assad emphasizes over and over the importance of purging Syrian society of the scourge of corruption. Bashar is, by far, the number one anti-corruption campaigner in Syria. In almost every major speech Bashar makes — including absolutely every single major speech he’s made this year — he re-iterates that corruption must not be tolerated. Here he is on 16 Apr 2011: “The most important problem, which we hear about on a daily basis, is corruption. It is definitely the biggest problem that can plague any society because it leads to a waste in money, morals and the whole potential of the country. It is the exact opposite of development.” http://www.sana.sy/eng/337/2011/04/18/pr-341923.htm

    The reason he talks about corruption again and again is that he wants to use his position to help educate and inculculate the whole society against it. At this stage the society as a whole has definitely got the message and agrees but repetition still helps to discourage some people who’d still be tempted. Qifa Nabki says “there have been flagrant transgressions along these lines by the regime.” Corruption is very criminal under Syrian law. When an individual regime offical comits such a crime, it is ultimately not a transgression by the regime, only by the individual, though it is a shame or embarrassment on the whole organization by association.

    Torture is illegal under Syrian law. I’ve come across “scholarship and journalism on Syria that has amply documented evidence of torture”. I regard it as a crock of shit. Perhaps a rogue security official commits the crime of torture on occasion. But the “scholarship and journalism” claims to document authorized, legal torture. I regard it as a crock of shit for the simple reason that I know torture is against the law.

    Posted by Parviziyi | December 31, 2011, 7:28 pm
  70. Bashar Assad has said that mistakes were made in Deraa city in March. For those alleged mistakes, he fired the governor of Deraa province and the person who was overseeing security in Deraa city at the time, and then set up a commission of enquiry into the matter. He hasn’t said mistakes have been made anywhere since March. He has acknowledged that “mistakes” — meaning undisciplined behaviour contrary to policy — can be made by individual army or police men. But he doesn’t cite any concrete examples. He just says he can’t completely and totally prevent it from happening. But he has definitely been involved in setting the policies about how security forces go about their operations. Bashar Assad himself has ultimate control of the security forces operations policies, for sure. (I’ve independently come across several different critics in pro-regime quarters who say the security operations policies are not aggressive enough; and I’ve never come across a pro-regime critic who says the policies are too aggressive).

    Posted by Parviziyi | December 31, 2011, 7:45 pm
  71. Weird but True Baathist Apologies

    Year after year Bashar Assad emphasizes over and over the importance of purging Syrian society of the scourge of corruption.

    Now that’s the pot calling the kettle black.

    QN –

    You may want to give participants an IQ test before they’re allowed to comment here…

    Posted by Akbar Palace | December 31, 2011, 9:34 pm
  72. Lol , Pas Cool & QN…..devastating counter arguments. But who are you kidding you crony dissidents you.

    Posted by maverick | December 31, 2011, 9:47 pm
  73. The following is a photo of a section of the crowd at a pro-regime rally in Damascus this past Friday, 30 Dec 2011. If you study the faces in the crowd you can see unmistakeable evidence — dare I say “dramatic” evidence — that the average education level is way above the Syrian average. http://www.sana.sy/servers/gallery/201112/20111230-165026.jpg

    At Youtube you can find a great many videos of pro-regime rallies in Syria this past year. In all those videos there is unmistakeable pride on the people’s faces, the pride of people who know their government better than the foreigers know it, and know that their government is telling the truth.

    By the way, of the countless videos of pro-regime rallies I’ve seen at Youtube, the following is my number one favourite. It’s somewhat edited and synthetical, but I experience the singing as electrifying. I have enjoyed it about two dozen times so far. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4J4nJUAMTjQ

    Posted by Parviziyi | December 31, 2011, 9:52 pm
  74. Let me recap some of Parviziyi’s interesting revelations:

    1. Open criticism of the Syrian regime is perfectly acceptable.

    2. The fact that there are no widely-circulated opposition media outlets has nothing to do with the lack of press freedom and everything to do with popular support of this regime.

    3. Those Lebanese outlets that have been banned from time to time were guilty of perpetuating “unsubstantiated and scurrilous” reports about the “virtuous” Syrian government.

    4. Bashar al-Asad is Syria’s top anti-corruption crusader, who issues friendly reminders to his flock to be less corrupt and more transparent in their dealings with one another. Meanwhile, his cousin Ramy Makhlouf is one of the most powerful and corrupt individuals in Syria.

    5. Torture is illegal in Syria. Therefore, any evidence of torture by the security services is a “crock of shit”. Why? Because torture is illegal in Syria.

    6. The security forces have been disciplined in their dealings with the protesters, and have not been overly aggressive. How do we know? Parviziyi has watched lots of YouTube videos, and has listened to pro-regime critics saying that the security forces have been too soft.

    7. The exhilaration evident on the faces of pro-regime demonstrators is clear evidence that the government is telling the truth.

    Thank you and good night.

    Posted by Qifa Nabki | December 31, 2011, 10:46 pm
  75. Parviziyi,

    I’d like for you to argue against some of the points I made above, perhaps specifically the human rights reports that document human rights breaches in Syria (and not just torture). Are they all just a ‘crock of shit’? And also, if you you’d like, arguing for the Syrian educational system and how it, according to you, promotes free thinking individuals, as well as examples of debates within Syria/Syrian media on various senisitive topics, for instance allowing criticism of the regime, and the possibility of starting up new political parties that go against what the Baath stands for.

    Discussing with you truly reminds me of the discussions I had or witnessed when in Syria. Scholared people, educated (albeit in the Syrian system) do not hesitate to use sentences like “there is no torture in Syria” or “the president was elected fair and square”. It’s rather baffling. I believe for some there is just too much to lose, so they keep the party line, and view all information to their favor or as just lies (‘crock of shit’ as you put it). I’m no psychologist, but a reason for this, as I’ve seen it, is partly due to confusion regarding nationalism/patriotism and loyalty to your regime. Loving your country does not have to imply loving your regime. All the same, those same people can easily point to the systems of the West (usually the US but also some European countries) and find points of criticism against the conduct of and in those countries. Mostly valid points, but in the bigger scheme they fail to see the shortcomings of their own, the Syrian, regime. They exaggerate the problems elsewhere and minimize or opt not to see the problems at home. This is the experience I have from many years in Syria. When trying to find the reasons for this, I usually end up in what I would call the “information space”. It has to do with the educational system. It has to do with (not) being able to have any space in tv or other media to, within the boundaries of Syrian law, have deeper discussions on various aspects of Syrian society. True, there have been the programs now and then regarding for instance the role of religion in society, but as long as the topic is in line with the party line, it is ok. More serious program do not exist. There is no true debate within Syria. I can see how people, growing up in this environment, have difficulties accepting criticism of various dear points, like torture (but not exclusively torture).

    I will try to keep it short. You write:

    “(3) The better-educated people are mostly concentrated in the two largest cities and those two cities had only very very small, and only few, anti-regime demonstrations during year 2011. The two largest cities had huge pro-regime demonstrations several times during the year and some large fraction of the people who attended were from the better-educated classes.”

    This observation might ring quite true to many people. First of all, the opposition to the regime, the open one (as open as it can be) since 2000 is driven by well educated people. This more open opposition has been hammered since, and more in the last couple of years. It has become increasingly difficult for them to meet, to speak on their mobiles etc. In short, they have the regimes eyes on them, making any move on their part fraught with severe repurcussions. This is the backdrop. Secondly, to a disproportionate level, the well educated and well connected belong to minorities that have more to lose, indivudually and collectively, if they were to oppose the regime. Thirdly, the effects of the reforms of the last few years are of course mostly visible in Dimashq and Aleppo. New shops, cafés, hotels and various projects have given the feeling that society was actually moving forward. Not politically perhaps, but economically. The losers were the ones in the suburbs, on the countryside. They were left out. They could see new cars buzzing by, but they could hardly put food on the table for their families. Anyone that compares the Damascus of 2000 with the Damascus of 2010 would have to agree on that point. If you’re gonna come with that observation of yours, add these points above to it. There is more to say on this, I’m sure.

    “Bashar is, by far, the number one anti-corruption campaigner in Syria. In almost every major speech Bashar makes — including absolutely every single major speech he’s made this year — he re-iterates that corruption must not be tolerated.”

    Sorry for the pun, but he might be the only anti-corruption campaigner. And not an efficient one at that. Why is corruption just getting worse? Why are the connected ones the ones well off? Have you any inside info on the business dealings of Syria? I have, and it’s not a pretty picture. Unless you pay the right guy the right amount of money, you don’t get what you need. Have you seen the scores of unfinished projects inside and outside Damascus? Relics of a corrupt recent past. Have you crossed the border (not at the airport)? You’re not supposed to pay money to any official, but that’s exactly what everyone does. It would be so easy to do something against corruption, but the President would be taking away people right next to him, so even if he wants to, he can’t. I’m very skeptical about his intentions though. I believe it is more about saying the right things, but not doing the right things. How else do you explain Makhlouf? A business genius? No, well connected. And Makhlouf is but an example. There are so many more. Sorry, but you’re living in lala-land.

    “But the “scholarship and journalism” claims to document authorized, legal torture. I regard it as a crock of shit for the simple reason that I know torture is against the law.”

    Many things occurring in Syria are against the law. Take away the emergency law and the constitution of Syria is actually rather decent, to some extent, but of course not modern. That does not help if you don’t enforce the laws, or do not abide by them yourself. Your argumentation is very weak. It’s actually the exact sentence used by a person I know in Syria when confronted with the various examples of torture. As it is against the law it does not happen. The president said so himself. So it must be true. Conveniently you see all evidence to the contrary as a load of crap. That’s not arguing, that’s blindfully wishing.

    Posted by Pas Cool | January 1, 2012, 4:28 am
  76. LOOOLL @ Pazvizizizi…..please stop, I ve never laughed so hard.

    Posted by maverick | January 1, 2012, 4:53 am
  77. I wonder, and I really fail to grasp this , but I am also perplexed so Pas Cool forgive me for being so blunt and I really appreciate your your insightfull analysis and decorum when dealing with Parsitsi ( a flaky pastry if I have ever had the pleasure of reading ) , I have not heard such a indoctrinated crock of shit in all my life.

    I am reminded by Orwells 1984 when i read it for the first time as a 15 year old, 26 years later and maybe having gone through the wonderful education system in Australia which TRIES to promote free thinking I can see and spot indoctrination when I see it. Parvizi please stop insulting our intelligence blind obedience which you exhibit is far different from free thought,

    Commonly in Leftist circlessome refer to the Hasbara brigade, looks like ASSAD has his own Baathist Hasbara brigade I wonder how much he is paid- the only difference is we can spot the amateurs!

    Posted by Enlightened | January 1, 2012, 11:04 am
  78. Pas Cool raises questions that I view as discontinuous from what the thread was supposed to be about. The thread can’t talk about everything, or it’d be about nothing. I don’t know what we’re talking about anymore. If someone wants to take the thread back to focus on the matter of the evidence of the legimacy of the Assad regime among the opinion makers and liberals in Syria, I’d participate. But I’m not going to accept Pas Cool’s invitation to go into matters such the spirit of the Syrian education system, because too off-topic.

    One off-topic thing I can’t resist a quick comment on, however, is that I object to Pas Cool and Qifa Nabki saying that Ramy Makhlouf is “corrupt”. Rami Makhlouf is a mobile phones billionaire, who had the good luck to be in the right place at the right time, and applied skill and industry to his good luck, just like the mobile phones billionaires Naguib Sawiris (in Egypt), Mo Ibrahim (central Africa), Sunil Mittal (India), Thaksin Shinawatra (Thailand), Carlos Slim (Mexico), Denis O’Brien (Ireland) and many others in other countries. I know nothing at all about any of Rami’s financial transactions. But I hold it as a fair and wise assumption that the allegations that one or more of Rami’s transactions were illegal are unsubstantiated allegations propagated by dissident fools who know as little as I do about the transactions details, who are motivated by a desire to undermine the reputation of the Establishment and the legitmacy of the regime. We should not debate this matter because (a) we don’t have the all the facts of Rami’s many transactions and (b) we don’t want to spend our time reliably acquiring the facts reliably, even if it were possible to get the facts reliably in theory, and it probably isn’t possible in practice.

    The major problem I have with the dissidents and their supporters is that they spend very little of their time presenting positive political vision, constructive policy criticism or clear presentation of alternative policy, on the economy, on the governing institutions of State, on the education system, on the positive ideas for making illegal financial transactions harder to do, etc. Instead, their major theme is to pick behaviors that everybody including all regime supporters disapprove of (e.g. torture) and allege that the regime practices those behaviours. As I said at point #21 of my list of 22 points linked to above, this “negative campaigning” is a strategy that will keep on being a failure for the opposition. The way to gain a majority (especially among the educated classes) is to exclusively talk policies and progress; and maintain the stance that corruption allegations are matters for the courts, not matters for electioneering.

    PS
    The reason torture is illegal under this regime is that the people of Syria and the top officers of their government want it to be illegal. Which part of the following sentence do you not understand: Torture is illegal in Syria.

    Posted by Parviziyi | January 1, 2012, 3:42 pm
  79. Torture is illegal in Syria. So writes the indoctrinated trumpet. It was also illegal for someone younger than 40 to become president. Off course, the indoctrinated trumpet would tell us that It was the will of the people to elect Bashar, and that the change was done by the representatives of the people.

    Torture is illegal, so is bribery and corruption. So why does the president feel obliged to be the “Eliot Ness” of Syria and to talk in every speech about the rampant corruption, Doesn’t your logic demand that if something is illegal, then it does not happen in Syria Al-Assad (excuse me, Syria Al-Fassad). Do you ever read the comics you write?

    Now if you are the sample of educated Syrians, and this is the type of logic you are capable of, then I’d rather be one of those ignorant Syrians than have this shit you call education crammed in my brain.

    What you have been “mentally dumping” here is not only far from free thoughts, but far from thought itself. It are merely reflexive, pre-packaged crock of shit-full sophistry. Come to think of it, the only other person I heard talking like that was Bashar Al-Assad himself.

    Posted by OFF THE WALL | January 1, 2012, 7:20 pm
  80. Pure sophistry again. If people weren’t dying at the hand of the jerk with identical sophistry as yours, i would have laughed.

    Posted by OFF THE WALL | January 1, 2012, 8:18 pm
  81. Parviziyi
    I have read all of the exchanges in this thread ; and I can honestly and objectively say the following: I believe that all your long winded posts failed to land a single body hit on any of your interlocutors while each one managed to at least score and many have delivered severe punishing combinations. Please have pity on the readers and on yourself by admitting that you have had a walloping 🙂
    Unfortunately there are some in the world who persist in denying evolution, in sticking to the belief that the earth is flat and that Syria does not torture. lol

    Posted by Ghassan Karam | January 2, 2012, 1:20 am
  82. Fair enough. I know QN has previously had the wish the discussions remain on-topic. Personally I think my questions and argumentation came about naturally in the course of the above thread, i.e. I did not invent a new topic to intentionally distract from a previous topic. It went hand in hand, so to say.

    If you wish to comment on any other remarks I made, I’m all ears. As you yourself continuously mention torture, I could follow up on that by asking what in the various human rights reports that I referred to (that mention torture in Syria) leads them to be viewed by you as worthless paper? I know torture is illegal, of course depending on your definition of torture. But that was not the point of contention. Rather, I claim it happens systematically and that those who committ torture have little or no risk of being punished by the judiciary and I refer to said reports as evidence.

    Just quickly to follow up on Rami Makhlouf. We will not agree on this one. Rami Makhlouf is not just another Bill Gates or any other of the persons that you mentioned. He is Steve Jobs, Bill Gates, Warren Buffet and a doze of other top businessmen rolled into one. He has his hands in many cookie jars, which for a small economy like Syria is quite unlikely to happen unless you are awarded contracts not solemnly by merit, but also by way of kinship. I’m sure so many others can give better detailed accounts on this. In any case, he is but one figure to mention when it comes to corruption.

    One last thing.
    “The way to gain a majority (especially among the educated classes) is to exclusively talk policies and progress; and maintain the stance that corruption allegations are matters for the courts, not matters for electioneering.”

    One main area of reform in Syria is the judiciary. As it is today it is not prepared to handle cases of corruption impartially. The judiciary is corrupt itself. One large reason for the very low FDI flowing into Syria is precisely this, the low standard of the judiciary. A foreign company wanting to make a multi-million dollar investment will sign a number of contracts with different agents. Many times disputes happen in the business world. This is normal. However, if the investing company can not rely on the judiciary to settle inevitable disputes according to the law they will think not only once, but twice, before investing in that market. Syria has this problem, that its judiciary is viewed as flawed and corrupt. The result is very low FDI into Syria. Again, here is an example of disastrous implementation of policy. The government, with Dardari the one professing the loudest, was talking of attracting foreign investments in the magnitude of, in total, 50 billion USD over the next 5 years. For a country that attracts about 2 billion USD a year this was a huge ambition. Conferences were held, business leaders invited, tenders released. What happened? The figures I saw for 2010 saw a DECREASE in FDI compared to 2009, to slightly more than 1 billion. This can not be attributed to the political environment, which in 2010 was quite good. It very much had to do with the perceived corruption in Syria, and I would have many examples to spare, but evidently I will not. My point in all this: Cases of corruption can not be taken to court to be resolved. There has to be a significant shake up, from the top preferably. And this is where I say that perhaps the intention of the President is there, but the will to see it through is not. There were many talking up the economy, chief amongst them Dardari. In the end, he did not have the support to see through the changes necessary. Of course, changes in the judiciary was a part of that, a part that is, I assume, not being implemented. And where is Dardari now? Who had the upper hand? What is this revolution about, from the beginning? What has it exposed? Ultimately, in part, it has lead to people like the ones QN referred to changing their view on Syria. Maybe they saw what I speak of above, maybe they saw other things. You, Parviziyi, hold on to your dear leader for reasons very blurry to me and others.

    Can I ask you one thing, Parviziyi? Do you consider Syria being a dictatorship? I define it quickly according to the encyclopedia I have at home: “A political system where power is wielded without constraints and without formal influence for people, where power is concentrated to one person, a small group of people or one party.” It’s not off-topic in the sense that, in the title, the bloggers are defecting from not only Syria, but a certain type of Syria, and I would contend they are defecting from the dictatorial regime that rules Syria at the moment, with the above definition of a dictatorship being appropriate in this case, according to me.

    Posted by Pas Cool | January 2, 2012, 6:06 am
  83. Pas Cool, most of the Foreign Direct Investment in Syria was merely going into the real estate sector. Real estate prices got very high in Syria in recent years, which probably discouraged foreign investors from more buying in 2010. I don’t accept your idea that the foreigner’s perceptions of corruption changed dramatically between 2009 and 2010.

    Pas Cool, the definition of “dictatorship” you gave is appropriate enough for Syria, but the definition is pretty much saying only that a dictatorship is whatever is not a formal democracy. Bashar Assad said on 7 Dec 2011: “”We never said we are a democratic country…. We are moving forward in reforms, especially in the last nine months….” Here are four other definitions of “dictatorship” which I’ve just pulled from four online dictionaries. In these dictionaries the word “dictatorship” has meaning or connotation that go beyond “not a full fledged democracy” and makes it inappropriate.

    Dictatorship = “Government by a dictator…. A dictator = a ruler with total power over a country, typically one who has obtained control by force; a person who behaves in an autocratic way…. Autocratic = relating to a ruler who has absolute power, taking no account of other people’s wishes or opinions; domineering.”
    Dictatorship = “Government by a single person or by a junta or other group that is not responsible to the people or their elected representatives. ”
    Dictatorship = “Absolute or despotic control or power…. Despotic describes something associated with or typically attributed to a despot, or a cruel and oppressive ruler.”
    Dictatorship = “Form of government in which absolute power is exercised by a dictator; absolute, imperious, or overbearing power or control.”

    The framework in which I look at Syrian politics is “Establishment versus Dissidents”.

    The Assad government acts on behalf of a broader social Establishment. I am a friend and supporter of this Establishment as well as of the government. As I said at point #18 of my 22 points, Syria is dominated by a sociologically broad Establishment that covers all geographic parts of the country, nearly all religious groups, all age groups, all professional occupations, all big private enterprises, and all components of the State. This Establishment has had only one political party for decades. Today it shows no inclination towards internal divisiveness such as would create two parties within one Establishment (such as many Western countries have, or what seems to be forming in Egyptian politics between the more Islamic and the more secular).

    We’ve seen this past year that Syrian society contains a smallish anti-Establishment, most of it composed of economically disadvantaged, poorly-educated people with quasi-Wahabi type political ideas. The anti-Establishment as a whole group also contains a small number of other types of dissidents with miscellaneous different political ideas. During the past year across the entirety of the society there was a wave of popular and reasonable demands for more democracy. The anti-Establishment as a whole group was “riding the wave” of these demands to try to overthrow the Establishment. An anti-Establishment of size 2% of whole population can create a lot of Events if they put their hearts into it. But the Establishment is big and broad enough to weather the storm.

    The stated goals of the anti-Establishment Syrian National Council (the “SNC”) are: “First, the ouster of the regime and its figures, along with all of its symbols and pillars. Second, the establishment of a new Syria as a democratic, pluralistic, civil state, where all citizens – men and women – are treated equally under the rule of law.” The SNC’s second goal is soon going to be fully realized under the auspices of the Assad regime. The SNC’s first goal is a pipe dream. The various components of Syria’s Establishment mutually support each other as a single nationwide societal Establishment unified in opposition to the anti-Establishment. The anti-Establishment will get trounced in the elections; much of the anti-Establishment won’t even try to compete in the elections. (I just looked up “pipe dream” in a dictionary: “An unrealistic hope or fantasy. The allusion is to the dreams experienced by smokers of opium pipes.”)

    Posted by Parviziyi | January 2, 2012, 12:30 pm
  84. Pas Cool, I haven’t read the torture allegations by foreign organizations and won’t read them. If they contain contain evidence that’s high quality enough to make the cases prosecutable in Syrian courts, then I trust they’d be prosecuted in Syrian courts. And if they’re not prosecuted in Syrian courts I confidently presume the quality of the evidence is shitty. I need hardly remind you that none of those foreign organizations is allowed set foot in Syria; their evidence is testimonies of inherently unreliable dissidents.

    I have it from reliable sources that UN Human Rights Commissioner Navi Pillay’s report in December about Syria is atrociously wrong. (Qifa Nabki quoted Pillay above when he said there were “5000 dead”. The figure is unsubstantiated). On 25 Jun 2011 Amnesty International’s Secretary General Salil Shetty said “The people of Syria are suffering and they are not seeing the same support that the people of Libya got and that is causing a lot of harm and a lot of unnecessary deaths.”

    I totally support the regime’s policy of not letting that crowd into the country.

    Posted by Parviziyi | January 2, 2012, 1:11 pm
  85. First, thanks for taking the time to reply.

    Allow me to retort.
    “Pas Cool, most of the Foreign Direct Investment in Syria was merely going into the real estate sector. Real estate prices got very high in Syria in recent years, which probably discouraged foreign investors from more buying in 2010. I don’t accept your idea that the foreigner’s perceptions of corruption changed dramatically between 2009 and 2010.”

    My main point was not to say that perception of curruption increased between 2009 and 2010. The main point was to show that Syria is widely perceived to be corrupt, and that the regime has not been able to do anything against it. You agree to the first part of that sentence, but what about the second part? Has the regime in Syria been able to do anything meaningful to combat corruption? And here the FDI for 2010 becomes interesting, as, at least in business circles, no such perception of successfully combating corruption seems to exist. In this all encompassing establishment of your Syria, there is just too much vested interests for there to be any successful attempt at seriously combating corruption in society. And if there were, Assad would probably alienate a substantial part of his following in the upper circles. Especially in this moment, he will not be able to do this. Hence, Assad, as the leader of the country, can rightfully be perceived to be corrupt as he refuses to do anything to seriously combat corruption, rather holds corrupted officials under his wings. In many countries you are forced to resign for less. In Syria this is of course not an option, which like much else shows the poor state that Syria is in thanks to Assadism and the Baath.

    Just to better understand your perception of Syria, when you state:
    “The SNC’s second goal is soon going to be fully realized under the auspices of the Assad regime” are you also saying that this has been Assad Jr’s goal all along? Was this also the goal of Assad Sr? And how will dissidents be treated? So far, excluding 2011, they have been treated badly. Many human rights activists are excluded from their profession, constantly summoned to various mukhabarat, are in many cases banned from travelling abroad, are jailed, often subject to torture etc. And, again, here I am talking 2010 and prior to that.

    Parviziyi, you and I will not see eye to eye, but only through dialogue can one understand each other. I disagree with others above when they have commented in a degrading way or written that you should emigrate to SyriaComment. Your view of the world seems to be different than mine. In words that’s all fine, the trouble is of course when this in reality is translated to less freedom and other breaches of universal human rights. I take for example an interest in political shia islam. Interesting to read about and discuss, but in practice it leads to a society like Iran which I find horrible (but not as bad as Saudi Arabia or some other illiberal states).

    I do sincerely like the background of the expression pipe dream 😉 I did not know that from before.

    Posted by Pas Cool | January 2, 2012, 1:39 pm
  86. Bashar speech 30 Mar 2011:

    “Tunisia’s experience was useful for us more than that of Egypt. When the revolution started [in Tunisia], we realized that the causes lay in the way wealth was distributed, not only in terms of corruption but also in terms of geographical distribution. This is something that we have tried to avoid in Syria, and we are calling for a fair distribution of development in Syria…. We are right now working on measures related to strengthening national unity and others related to fighting corruption, developing the mass media and creating jobs.” http://www.sana.sy/eng/21/2011/03/30/pr-339334.htm

    Bashar speech 20 Jun 2011:

    “I started a long series of meetings which have included all sections of society from all regions in order to understand reality or to have as close an idea as possible about reality from the different perspectives of the Syrian people and in a manner which helps us arrange the priorities of state institutions in line with the priorities of our citizens…. In these meetings I felt that there is a strong desire to eradicate corruption as a major cause for the lack of justice and equal opportunities and for feelings of unfairness, injustice, and oppression, in addition to its dangerous moral consequences on society…. I told many delegations that the state can address, fight or reduce corruption at the higher levels, while we need to find channels for addressing the problem at lower levels. This is the task of the Anti-Corruption Commission whose mechanisms have been studied by the committee set up for the purpose. These are nice words, but how can they be achieved; for it is easy to say what needs to be one, but putting these words into action is the decisive factor…. The Anti-Corruption Commission has been set up in order to reduce it [corruption] and turn it into an unwanted exception rather than a widespread phenomenon or an inevitable reality. Citizens will play a wide role in oversight and participation in this process. No success can be achieved in eradicating this epidemic without the full participation of all citizens.” http://www.sana.sy/eng/337/2011/06/21/353686.htm

    Bashar speech 16 Apr 2011:

    “We need to look for practical measures to fight corruption. I think the worst thing is for a government official to be accused of corruption. That’s why I think that Syrian officials, and let us start with government, should present a statement of their property and other assets. When a certain official is accused of corruption, we can check this statement and compare between the officials’ assets before the accusation and after. In some countries, this statement is presented on an annual basis and in others it is presented only once. What’s important is to have a frame of reference. We started this process about three years ago, but it wasn’t at ministers’ level and it was a pilot and the data wasn’t really used.

    There were also proposals about creating a corruption-fighting agency which is staffed by trustworthy people who carry out two tasks: investigating corruption charges on the one hand and checking certain cases where there might be suspicion about the integrity and soundness of transactions in order to ensure that things are done according to procedure, when there are important bids or calls for tender with big amounts of money. In this case, the agency can monitor and audit the process.

    The third point is about bribery which usually changes hands on a daily basis in small figures, but ultimately it creates new burdens for people and leads to a lot of anger. This is natural. Bribery cannot be addressed except through administrative reform, first through reducing unnecessary procedures; and second through computerizing administrative work. Administration needs full restructuring of procedures and transactions and at the same time monitoring the behavior of the personnel. But if we do not computerize and organize transactions, it will be difficult to control this process.

    More than one official from different countries have raised questions about big calls for tender, and sometimes these raise a lot of talk in society. There is no reason why we shouldn’t be transparent with people and make these bids public. In some countries, they are usually broadcast on television; I mean the process of examining the tenders and awarding the bids and so on. The more transparent we are, the more we protect ourselves against unfounded allegations and charges. In the same context we need to have a tax reform, because it is one of the big corruption areas in Syria. It is true that tax returns have risen during the past few years, but still there is a lot of waste. Tax reform is an important area if we want to fight corruption properly….. http://www.sana.sy/eng/21/2011/04/16/341923.htm

    Pas Cool asks “Has the regime in Syria been able to do anything meaningful to combat corruption?” I ask: “What ideas do the dissidents have for combatting corruption beyond what Bashar is saying above?” But mine is a rhetorical question. If the dissidents did have a good new idea, the regime would appropriate the idea in a heartbeat.

    PS I think Bashar overstates the reality when he says corruption is “widespread” and “epidemic”. I so think because I see a lot of strongly felt anti-corruption sentiment among Syrians and I don’t see anyone defending corrupt practices. Community values are driving corruption deeper underground, and the more it’s driven underground the less widespread it becomes.

    Posted by Parviziyi | January 2, 2012, 3:40 pm
  87. Parviziyisays:

    “Community values are driving corruption deeper underground, and the more it’s driven underground the less widespread it becomes.”

    Would you care to explain the above ? I always thought that when something is driven underground then it becomes more established and much more difficult to uproot, and not the reverse as you seem to suggest. So you do not agree with the judgment of outside observors that corruption is endemic neither do you agree with the judgment of those on top of the pyramid that corruption is widespread and epidemic. Is that what is meant by dismissing the facts when they do not agree with your hypothesis 🙂 Get serious.

    Posted by Ghassan Karam | January 2, 2012, 5:01 pm
  88. Parviziyi,

    What evidence do you have that “Syria is dominated by a sociologically broad Establishment”? And how “big and broad” would you say it is? Since you have proposed 2% as the size of the anti-Establishment, you must have some figure in mind for the Establishment.

    Economic data on Syria suggests that what we actually have in play is an oligarchic situation: GDP is very low, even by Middle Eastern standards (14th out of 18), and the major industries are nationalized, and thus monopolized by Assad’s Baath. A study jointly conducted by the Syrian government and the [purveyor of unsubstantiated “crock of shit” narratives on Syria] UNDP in 2007 determined that the proportion of Syrians living in poverty or extreme poverty was around 45% (and this was before the increase in prices for heating oil and food).

    Are the 45% part of the big and broad establishment, or the crackpot Wahhabi anti-establishment, in your view?

    Posted by Qifa Nabki | January 2, 2012, 6:20 pm
  89. QN,
    If my conversations with many many Syrians in my general employment, you would be shocked as to how much the working class (or the 45%) hold the Assads in high esteem.

    Perhaps thats the dichotomy that is causing the confusion in the way people view the Syrian uprising or at least it is contributing to that confusion. It is very hard for people living in a free, democratic state of being to put themselves in a position were they will happily live under an oligharchy even if it is one they know is corrupt – One may put it down to lack of education or the effects of poverty but that may be condescending to this group.

    Im not sure where Parviziyi is going with his discourse and there is no doubt it is as blinkered as the likes of many on here when it comes to Lebanese subjects. But the fact remains that every working class Syrian I have ever talked to has always been staunchly pro-Assad – Furthermore, combined with the non-working calss Syrians I know that are pro-Assad I would say from a straw poll they are at least 70%-30% in the majority.

    Posted by mo | January 2, 2012, 7:53 pm
  90. Denial isn’t just a river in Egypt NewZ

    But the fact remains that every working class Syrian I have ever talked to has always been staunchly pro-Assad…

    Mo,

    Then who are the demonstrators? Let me guess…the unemployed?

    Posted by Akbar Palace | January 2, 2012, 8:00 pm
  91. mo,
    The real problem that I have with the discussion with Paravizyi is not primarily that he supports the Assad regime. Many Syrians do. The problem is the disingenuiness in attributing to the regime criteria that are obviously false. Ultimately we each have to make a choice in politics, economics, social life … and we do not have to make the same choice. Actually I am glad that we don’t.
    I had once a cup of coffee with a very street smart Beiruti at Elissar on Bliss Street around 42 years ago. I was trying to justify my position in favour of one thing or another and the guy stopped me and said: “There is no need for you to tell me that you love that girl because of her blonde hair and blue eyes when in fact she has black hair and brown eyes.” I have no idea why I have always remembered that encounter. Thanks Abu Ali.

    Posted by Ghassan Karam | January 2, 2012, 8:49 pm
  92. Mo

    I understand what you’re saying. But I find it disingenuous of people who stood up and cheered for the Tunisians and Egyptians (who also live in oligarchic security states) to start splitting hairs over Syria. If people support their regime, then sa7tein 3a albon. What we’ve seen this year, however, is that increasing numbers of Arabs in various countries have decided that they are dissatisfied. Is that the case in Syria? I don’t know. But, as Ghassan said, there’s no need to argue the case for Bashar’s legitimacy by pretending that he presides over a regime that tolerates opposition and does not torture its citizens.

    Posted by Qifa Nabki | January 2, 2012, 9:22 pm
  93. GK,
    My political position is well known on this board and even I see his argument to be quite confounding. I’m not sure if hes going for a hail mary in support of the regime or whether he believes it all or not but well anyone who has lived in Lebanon or Syria knows most of that is false.

    Don’t get me wrong; I’m a long way from the balck and white positions taken by many on here and while there is many an argument to be made about Bashars strength of position, his attempts at introducing reform, and how much of his words he wants to or is able to turn into actions, but to argue that there is not an endemic corruption in, well nearly any Arab country actually, is ridiculous.

    Posted by mo | January 2, 2012, 9:25 pm
  94. Qifa,

    Liek i said to GK, I agree, his argument is bordering on the ridiculous but…

    I have to disagree about the disingenuous bit.

    Firstly, it all depends as to why someone may split hairs over Syria after having supported the Tunisians, Egyptians, Lybians and Bahrainis but if my straw poll is any reflection of the reality on the ground, in fact even if you reduce it to 50-50, that makes it massively different – All the above countries had a clear and uncontested majority in the country in favor of the uprisings. Are we here to force our preffered method of leadership on a people even if they dont want it?

    Now the really contentious argument:

    To some, Israel is the zero sum game. If an uprising hinders them its good; If its likely to help them its bad. Sorry, yes its selfish but if the allies hadn’t teamed up with Stalin its unlikely they would have defeated Hitler – If in 1941 a popular uprising that was likely to sign a peace treaty with Germany was looming in Russia who would the West have sided with?

    Sometimes you have to deal with one evil at a time.

    Posted by mo | January 2, 2012, 9:37 pm
  95. Here’s a reply to the question at Qifa Nabki #88. It’s lengthy, and it’s mostly recyled text from elsewhere. It’s an incomplete answer.

    The poorly educated classes draw moral and political ideas from Islamic teachings, which they’ve gotten some education on. I said they’re “quasi-Wahhabi type” ideas and I might better have just said “Islamic” — just like the poorly educated classes in Egypt and Tunisia that voted for an Islamic party in the recent elections. But an important political difference beween Syria and those countries is that the better educated Syrian classes want to keep the political system non-sectarian. That is not true of an important large fraction of the better educated in Egypt and Tunisia.

    The poorly educated classes in Syria also get their political ideas from Syrian State TV. Bashar Assad said on Syrian State TV on 21 Aug 2011: “Syrian State TV is very dear to every Syrian citizen.” His word “every” is only a slight exaggeration in my humble opinion. Pro-regime organs this past year speak very often about a spirit of national unity. E.g. you can read the following sort of sentence at SANA every day of the week: “Relatives of the martyrs expressed confidence that the Syrian people are able to overcome the current crisis through their adherence to the national unity.” As far as I am able to see, this spirit of national unity is real. It is not a fiction of State propaganda. (The foundation for it is old-fashioned nationalism and patriotism; see #11 of my 22 points).

    In my notion of what the “Syrian Establishment” is, the poorly educated are not part of the Establishment. But they support the Establishment and will follow the Establishment. If a split up emerged within the Establishment, the poorly educated might go overwhelmingly for one side of the split or the other, or they might split up themselves. But they are not going to be doing anything politically without Establishment leadership, and I do not mean a few individual leaders, rather I mean a big chunk of the societal Establishment. That’s fundamental to the way I see things. They are not going to be going with any of the various anti-Establishment dissidents, except that a minority in the poorly educated classes are defying Syrian State TV and taking to a quasi-Wahabi type political vision.

    The great majority of the better educated people — including importantly the better educated who are conservative in their religion — are part of my notion of who the “Establishment” is. I reject the idea, which quite a few foreign commentators believe in, that there’s a silent majority who are uncommitted to the regime and who are waiting for some viable alternative to emerge that they can commit themselves to. As I said before, the Syrian Establishment wants democracy in Syria because they think democracy is virtuous, and they don’t intend to vote against Bashar and the regime as far as I can see. What I can see very clearly that people in Syria are not looking around in search of other alternatives. I see a void of politically viable alternative policies as well as a void of politically viable alternative parties. Relatedly see #4 of my 22 points.

    Here’s an anecdote about what the anti-Establishment is:

    An Australian journalist went to Syria in October along with a camera-man. A crowd of passers-by gathered around them in a shopping mall in Damascus. He asks the crowd: does anybody here support the opposition? Answer: none, nobody. He asks them: why is that? is there a problem with free speech if nobody can say they support the opposition? One man in the crowd in reply says: “They want to destroy everything we’ve built, and take away our security and our love for one another. Their intention is to ruin it all.” That illustrates the general conclusion of the Australian journalist namely that “fear and suspicion of the opposition is extremely high” in Damascus. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Zh7ksVJuseg

    Here’s another anecdote about what the anti-Establishment is:

    A reporter for BBC English-language World News went to Damascus in September along with a camera-man. On the streets of Damascus every person who was willing to talk to her and her cameras was positively pro-regime. One man on the street angrily said to her in English: “You’re from the BBC?! Why do you keep lying about Syria?!…. Everybody here in Syria loves Bashar Al-Assad…. Maybe there are ten thousand dissenters…. And everybody can hear on BBC Arabic the lies. You are telling lies about Bashar Al-Assad. Everybody in Syria, the whole population of Syria, they know that you are lying. This is the most important thing.” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rvMP842c0BE

    Posted by Parviziyi | January 2, 2012, 9:38 pm
  96. I see one of the links I gave in the prev post is now dead. Here’s another link to the same thing. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-Z4TyH0da3Y

    Posted by Parviziyi | January 2, 2012, 9:46 pm
  97. I didn’t finish the hard job of defining and quantifying with good quality evidence what the broad pro-regime Establishment is. In the meantime, I just read the following at Al-Akhbar and have an easy comment.

    Dissident Haytham Al-Manna in an interview with Al-Akhbar 2 Jan 2011: “For the Syrian revolution to succeed we need three things. First, we need the massive popular mobilization. Secondly, we need people with historical legitimacy to be involved…. Thirdly, we need leadership on the streets. Without leadership, we face the danger of having the revolution hijacked by street thugs. http://english.al-akhbar.com/content/haytham-al-manna-politics-behind-pact-ghalioun

    He still has the pipe dream that he can get “massive” popular mobilization on the streets.

    That was a pipe dream from the beginning, and it was more unrealistic after street protest turnout-size stopped growing in late Spring. Overall growth stopped on Friday 29 Apr 2011 and overall growth has never resumed since, although some localities did have growth after that date. It was even more unrealistic after the escalation in violence by dissidents in the later part of year. “The resort to arms by a minority of Islamists, allegedly to defend the protesters, backfired on the protest movement as a whole. It moved the daily news cycles inside the country away from the peaceful demands for change and onto the fatalities and injuries of the State’s security personnel, and it estranged mainstream Syrian public opinion from the protest movement.” That’s right. Furthermore, throughout the year whenever violence by anti-regime young men broke out on a serious scale in any locality, it was followed by a major reduction in the turnout size at subsequent peaceful protests in and near that locality. (For the last two months of the year the largest anti-regime gatherings were in Idlib City, which had been very largely free of dissident violence during the year). I hold it as a certainty that the anti-regime organizers’ pretense of ignoring the serious violence exercised by some of their supporters was a big factor in dampening turnout size. The organizers weren’t vigourous enough in their call for “peaceful, peaceful”. The organizers of the uprising in Egypt were always far more conscious of the importance of that factor, and they did a much better job in that regard, including frisking their own people coming into Tahrir Square. Haytham Manna says in year 2012 and speaks in the present tense: “Without leadership, we face the danger of having the revolution hijacked by street thugs.” The horse has already bolted.

    The Syrian people want the political reforms that the opposition originally advocated for, but the people don’t want the opposition. The regime is the champion of the reforms in the eyes of the people. “Most of the Syrians are unified [in support of the government], and what’s happening now is a minority of militants are killing Syrians on a daily basis,” said Bashar Assad on 19 Nov 2011. That’s how I see it too. Bashar could also have added that there’s still also a minority of peaceful opponents of the regime, such as Haytham Al-Manna, but these are politically impotent because their numbers are too small and they don’t have a way to get their numbers to grow.

    Posted by Parviziyi | January 2, 2012, 11:53 pm
  98. To some, Israel is the zero sum game.

    Cutting off your nose to spite your face is painful and unnecessary.

    Posted by Akbar Palace | January 3, 2012, 12:45 am
  99. First, congratulations to Pariviziyi for taking on single-handedly the defence of the current Syrian regime. Second, I have stated earlier that the current schism is an internal matter to Syrians that should be able to determine their future–whether with or without Bashar. My main question or point is about external support for what is construed as resistance to the current regime. Lebanese people have experienced external attempts to control their destinies for so long (particulalry and most directly by Syrian politicians) that they have accepted that their internal politics cannot function without the interplay between external forces, and local politicians rely on these externalities in their day to day functioning. Questions of “national unity” cannot be imagined in Lebanon without involving externalities (alliance, support, client relations, etc.)
    Now, Syria, with its one party structure and a strong centre government supported by a large and cohesive army, never experienced the same external manipulation or control of its internal politics, until now. Interestingly, and as a revealing side point, this all happened after the “assassinations” in Lebanon, and after the attempts to sideline the “international community” and the STL. While some may claim that there is an external conspiracy to create a civil war in Syria, by external agents (whether Lebanese, Saudi, French, and/or American actors) creating a “reality” on the ground, many others may describe what is happening as a mere incorporation of Syria in the local geopolitical of the 21st century. While one side may see the current crisis as a direct result of the “hubris” of the Assad regime another side may see the crisis as an inevitable result of the historical conditions changing after the Cold War and the militaristic power play in the ME. What do Syrians who support the regime think of this wake up call? Do they idealistically believe that the Assad regime will withstand this change and reject its inevitability, or do they acknowledge the new poltical reality that Syria cannot “de-link” itself any longer (now that neither ideological allies, nor fearful rich neighbors, will sustain its “autonomy”)? I am just curious!

    Posted by Parrhesia | January 3, 2012, 4:27 am
  100. Parviziyi, you state:
    “The Syrian people want the political reforms that the opposition originally advocated for, but the people don’t want the opposition. The regime is the champion of the reforms in the eyes of the people.”

    What you fail to grasp is that the regime has ensured this by not ever allowing a viable opposition in Syria. If some dissident group in North Korea were to work for reforms they would face the same difficulties. How can anyone not part of the so called establishment in either North Korea or Syria take the leadership of a country that is so deeply engulfed by that said establishment. The Baath and its cronies IS Syria. Decades of corruption, propaganda and not allowing anybody in opposition to them has ensured them this position of power where people have difficulties seeing any viable alternative to the current one. Take away the Baath and its cronies and I fear that Syria would have a meltdown, possibly a civil war. This is the main working point of the so called opposition, to make sure to remedy this, to be seen as a viable alternative. But how?? Your all loving and caring regime has made sure that the threshhold to gain trust in the eyes of the Syrian people is ever so high.

    The above is of course not an argument to let the regime stay in power and work out its reforms. I’m not saying either or, but as you can tell I am strongly opposed to illiberal ideology. It just takes my breath away when people say, “Oh, but there is no opposition that has put forth any reasonable alternative policies.” The illiberal regime of Assad and his cronies have ensured this, and then use it to their advantage and their daily discourse, and people like you fail to see this.

    Or perhaps you don’t fail to see this, but think it is perfectly allright that no opposition has been able to form over the last few decades. And I’m not talking of any kind of militant opposition. I’m talking of a peaceful political opposition.

    Posted by Pas Cool | January 3, 2012, 4:51 am
  101. One more:

    “But an important political difference beween Syria and those countries is that the better educated Syrian classes want to keep the political system non-sectarian.”

    In my view the Syrian regime has failed in its mission to keep radicalism outside it’s country. Many Syrians today are really taken by surprise to see so many religiously motivated people on the streets in various towns and suburbs. Not to mention the incresed use of the hijab and the chador. Well, I retort, what do you expect when the Assad and the Baath fail to develop the country, when the only place that you can gather five times a day with likeminded and discuss somewhat more freely is the mosque? Poverty and a non-existing political landscape has ensured a more devout Syria. Better education and a stronger growth in GDP and better welfare for all together with a more open political climate could have ensured this not happening, or at least reduced it. The regime is reaping what it sowed.

    Posted by Pas Cool | January 3, 2012, 5:00 am
  102. Parrhesia,
    You are asking for a simple answer when there is none. The support for the regime is from a wide spectrum and ranges from those who rely on it to continue in their positions of power and influence and wealth and simply want it to continue no matter what to those that see the need for change but believe that the current uprising does not have Syrias best intentions at heart or believe that the change needs to be more gradual. You cannot simply say that the supporters of Assad are all x anymore than you can say all those involved in the uprising are all y.

    Posted by mo | January 3, 2012, 5:14 am
  103. Parviziyi said

    That was a pipe dream from the beginning, and it was more unrealistic after street protest turnout-size stopped growing in late Spring. Overall growth stopped on Friday 29 Apr 2011 and overall growth has never resumed since, although some localities did have growth after that date. It was even more unrealistic after the escalation in violence by dissidents in the later part of year

    Rarely on encounters such loads of non sense put together. The only example I can see for such vulgarity of intent would be a rapist gagging the mouth of his victim and telling bystanders, “get lost, see she is not objecting to this. It is merely consensual sex” . Everyone knows that the Assad regime’s strategy has been to prevent the public from occupying public space safely. The regime of thugs, including yourself, (practicing thuggish insults to our intelligence), are intolerant to the uncertainties associated with true freedom of expression, especially in its collective manifestations ( a gathering of more than one person). How convenient and rather dishonest to ignore snipers on rooftops, tanks on the streets, bullies and thugs shooting at funerals, and at demonstration, surrounding mosques on Fridays with busloads of goons, chopping cities into disconnected pieces with checkpoints and their accompaniments of Assadist paramilitary gangs of criminals, and beating and killing people as they try to gather for a demonstration in manners never before seen in history. In fact, if anything is shrinking, it is the number of attendees of your regime’s rallies of vulgar Assad-cult worship rituals.

    I am astonished by the level of restraint the cultured people on this blog have shown you as they shredded your ill constructed logic to pieces. The funny thing, a majority of your defense of Thug one relied on paragraphs from his tiresome lecturing speeches, yet, your list of his defensible concrete reformist actions is not only anemic, but painfully non-existent.

    Naturally, Parviziyi is not addressing the regular commentator on this blog. What is being done is an attempt to use the language one would rely on to discuss normal governments and normal political discourse in describing a most abnormal regime, in hope to influence the international readership of this prestigious blog and to give the faulty impression that It is a normal government fighting the ignorant illiterate people. And that “educated” (read that civilized) Syrians do support this “western educated” “popular” president. A bull shit argument at best, given that there is no accountability, to hold Bashar Al-Assad to task for the load of promises unfulfilled, for abuses of human rights, and for his persistent pointing the finger at everyone else but himself. In a normal country, a president saying that he is not responsible for the abuses of his army, and that nearly 5000 (by the time of his infamous interview with Barbara Walters) death are individual errors and mistakes, but fails to demonstrate one evidence of holding those committing the mistake responsible, would have been a scandalous event leading to multiple attempts at impeachment if not wide scale demonstration showing disgust with such a contemptuous person.

    Posted by OFF THE WALL | January 3, 2012, 9:32 am
  104. Pas Cool writes

    In my view the Syrian regime has failed in its mission to keep radicalism outside it’s country. Many Syrians today are really taken by surprise to see so many religiously motivated people on the streets in various towns and suburbs. Not to mention the incresed use of the hijab and the chador.

    Spot on, but if I may shed some further light on the picture. The regime has been an accomplice if not a major player in radicalizing the masses. Thug one, in a recent speech boasted about the number of mosques built during the Assadist dark era in Syrian history. The regime, after the 1980s events could no longer tolerate the presence of independent religious establishment. The resources and efforts to co-opt the easily corruptible among hereditary nobility of “scholars”, especially in Aleppo, and to infuse mosques with controlled domesticated Imams (Baathist Imams) who have backdoor connections to security agencies, and whose sermons rarely, if ever, deviated from the instructions of the Ministry of Religious Endowments. Some of these Imams gathered huge lists of followers, not to mention the promotion of the Qubaisyyat cult (which follows Bouti) have all played a key role in forming the regime-friendly religious background of the neo-rich elites in Damascus and Aleppo. The regime was off course happy with that, for it did not matter to them if people become more religious as long as such religiosity is part and parcel of the machination of control.

    In parallel, the severe restrictions on the intelligentsia attempted to prevent alternative thoughts from being discussed beyond academic discussions that are unrelated to the daily life of Syrians. And when intelligentsia was allowed, due to business deals, to demonstrate some creativity, it was mostly in presenting a mythical, religiously based reconstruction of recent history (check highly successful Syrian TV drama). A huge schism emerged between an isolated intelligentsia, who lives a middle class life, and the people and with that art and literature, despite of increasing skills, became largely disconnected from reality. The appearance of the Lebanese psychic (Mike Faghali) on the regime channel (Al-Dunya) a couple of days a go is but a clear indication of the Abyss this regime has led the intellectual life in Syria to. Parviziyi’s own writings above would be another indication of the demolition of critical thinking among the self proclaimed elite.

    Yet, and despite all of this, critical thinking is reemerging, I must say that many Syrians on the opposition side, including myself, continue to demonstrate a lack of the ability to conduct a well structured discussion as we lapse into emotional responses. It will take some-time to form the habits of dialogue. Part of it is due to the absurdity of the arguments made by the loyalists such as those we have been bombarded with, to which the first natural reaction would be contempt for its purposeful deception. The good news is yesterday a group of real intellectuals, many of whom spent years in Assad’s dungeons, and in defiance of the semi-educated dictator and his illiterate henchmen formed the first independent professional Association in Syria. The Syrian Association of Writers will hopefully be followed by forming independent associations of engineers, doctors, teachers, lawyers, and in defiance of the Mukhabarat outfits called “popular organizations” and of the illiterates ruling Syria. I expect a screed from Parviziyi about these people defying the laws of the land by not seeking a license. Well, soak your fraudulent licenses in whatever you want, and drink the solution. This is what true “educated” people in Syria are telling Bashar Al-Assad and his mafia.

    Posted by OFF THE WALL | January 3, 2012, 9:42 am
  105. OTW @103/104

    You are correct in every aspect. Parviziyi reminds us of the rapist and psychopath in wolf’s clothing. Talking in steady but calm ‘voice” reminds me of the HA ‘leaders” of the years past until Nassrallah blew a fuse in December 2007 and started screaming at the TV monitor with sweaty demeanor.

    Parviziyi is just a regurgitation of their mukhabarati playbook on how to put people to sleep with loads of crap. It is so funny that even people like Mo insist on saying maybe the population’s support to Bashar is 70-30 or whatever! They always (as was/is in Lebanon’s case) ignore the elephant in the room. That people are being intimidated, killed, maimed and tortured to voice those “support” or belief. If Mo’s or the mouth of the Thug’s assertions bore any fruit; Assad would have dropped the gun and opened to civil discussion long ago. However; murderers like him (Google tyrants anywhere….If they ever willingly gave up power) know one thing only! Blood. They kill and kill and kill. I support the courageous people of Syria who have not relented. FYI Parviziyi; just because you write well; it does not make you smart. I would bet any one of those “uneducated” Syrians would kick your ass in intellect any day!

    Posted by danny | January 3, 2012, 10:40 am
  106. The BS Meter goes off the Scale NewZ

    Danny,

    The menhebaks always say Assad is so popular.

    So when you suggest that the regime hold an election to prove this, suddenly everything goes quiet.

    Posted by Akbar Palace | January 3, 2012, 10:59 am
  107. … just because you write well; it does not make you smart. I would bet any one of those “uneducated” Syrians would kick your ass in intellect any day!

    Danny,

    My thoughts exactly for the dear “Professor” that runs SC….

    Posted by Akbar Palace | January 3, 2012, 11:01 am
  108. Danny,

    In the many years on this blog you still are not able to read or reply without being offensive. I did not make any assertion as to “the populations” support of Assad. I reflected the opinions of people I had met (and i was not intimidating, killing, maiming or torturing them at the time) – But then as you’ve shown before, you are incapable of believing that anyone could be thinking\voting\acting contrary to your beliefs without being intimidated or brainwashed into doing so.

    Posted by mo | January 3, 2012, 11:20 am
  109. Mo,

    Where did you see the insult. So stop playing the whiner asking for help. It seems you need as much help…

    here’s what I said:”It is so funny that even people like Mo insist on saying maybe the population’s support to Bashar is 70-30 or whatever! They always (as was/is in Lebanon’s case) ignore the elephant in the room. That people are being intimidated, killed, maimed and tortured to voice those “support” or belief
    “and i was not intimidating, killing, maiming or torturing them at the time”

    Do you feel insulted when someone points out your frail arguments? 😀

    Well if you spent any time and used your thought process…you’d know that almost most of those people would have relatives in Syria and are programmed to fear the mukhabarat even here! I guess you had not heard of the threatening calls to people in USA or the States from “ghosts” threatening Syrian emigres and their families(back home) if they expressed any opinions against that blood thirsty regime. But I guess those ‘minute” details are irrelevant to you!

    Posted by danny | January 3, 2012, 11:31 am
  110. OTW, nr 104

    Well put. The first three sentences in your last paragraph is a nice mix of self-criticism as well as a fresh breath of optimism of what the Arab Spring has brought forth.

    I didn’t quite understand the part about the Lebanese psychic. I haven’t seen what you refer to. Why is that an example of the intellectual abyss?

    Your sentence:
    “A huge schism emerged between an isolated intelligentsia, who lives a middle class life, and the people and with that art and literature, despite of increasing skills, became largely disconnected from reality.”
    is interesting. One of my points of arguments with strong supporters of the regime has been that they (and ‘they’ would refer to educated urban middle class) don’t properly seem to understand their own country. Not being a Syrian, this hits a nerve, as one might accuse me of saying that I, as a foreigner, understand Syria better than them. This is not what I say, rather, I believe, I have come to the conclusion that its partly not understanding well enough the country you live in and partly not being able to, due to lack of quality education, to put the pieces together, i.e. how poverty and lack of jobs and high birth rates etc make for an explosive cocktail.

    I should add that I’m thinking of some discussions I had, not all. Those most well informed, according to my subjective judgement, to a larger degree also tended to be against the regime, or at least more critical of its policies.

    Posted by Pas Cool | January 3, 2012, 12:15 pm
  111. Would almost all Syrians support an orderly transition to democracy? Of course. But Assad had 11 years to do that and he didn’t deliver. If the options are a disorderly transition into some state that may be democracy or keeping the regime in place, it is natural that the well to do classes that are also risk averse would support the current regime. But the 20 million others who have nothing to lose, will take their chances with regime change.

    Posted by AIG | January 3, 2012, 1:09 pm
  112. Pas Cool
    When I grew up, Syrian TV had programs about classical music, poetry, wonderful series, TV plays from the giants of the global literary community. After 41 years of Assads, the Semi-Official Al-Dunya channel now airs a regular astrological segment, has hosted psychics to foretell the great victories of the great leaders including an appearance of one seemingly well known “Mike Feghali” who is always introduced as the Lebanese Psychic, on January first proving (beyond the shadow of reason and doubt) that Assad will remain forever or something like that. I did not mean to be specific about Lebanese here as much as I wanted to show that when National TV relies on Psychics to give political forecasts, it should tell about the state of affairs of the intellectual life of of the elites in Syria.

    I can not really claim to understand Syria. To be honest, I am learning. Bear in mind that the modern pre-Baath history of Syria has been de-emphasized in our curricula and infused with the traditional dose of Baathist propaganda. As I watch the you-tube videos and read some of the witty, self conscious, self deprecating and Assad-image shredding humorous signs, which designed and painted by those living in the poor cities and villages of Syria, I can only smile and say, so-long elites of Damascus, so-long elites of Aleppo, your monopoly on the cultural life of Syria is now gone. I like that feeling even though I am from Aleppo.

    Posted by OFF THE WALL | January 3, 2012, 1:11 pm
  113. We’re still arguing about “orderly transition” and giving the regime a chance to reform? Really?

    Posted by Bad Vilbel | January 3, 2012, 2:56 pm
  114. Given what Off The Wall said at #103, I challenge Off The Wall to give us links to Youtube videos showing security forces using deadly or disproportionate force against protesters. Since I know that a lot of fakes exist (itself a sign that the real thing doesn’t exist in quantity, btw), I demand unmistakeable footage of the actual security forces actually firing (and not merely firing into the air — security forces sometimes fire guns into the air to put protesters on notice that a protest is to be dispersed). I also want to see context that the targets being fired on were not firing on the security forces.

    I put the above challenge everybody who thinks the regime’s security forces are undisciplined and commit atrocities.

    Here are two examples of what I won’t accept, i.e. fakes. But if these two were not fakes, they’d be good examples of the sort of thing I’m asking for.


    The above video was recorded in Homs on 22 Apr 2011, it shows peaceful protesters very clearly, and it purports to show security forces shooting at them. Gunfire goes off, and two or three protesters pretend to be shot, and are carried away by other protesters. From the video we’ve no indication of where the gunfire is coming from but I believe the gunfire came from dissidents firing guns in the air. I believe I see a line of security forces in the distance, from time 5:07 to 5:10, who are blocking the progress of the marchers beyond the point they’re standing at, if it’s a correct interpretation that they’re security forces. The video reproduction quality is poor. To appreciate one aspect of the fakery, after the gunfire starts watch out for the actor wearing light-grey-blue jeans, dark blue jacket and white shirt, who at time 5:45 rolls across the street surface, then walks back across the street at time 5:55, then stands fully errect in the middle of the street at time 6:04 and waves his arm to call for the pick-up truck to come down to take away the supposed body supposedly shot beside him. At 6:16 he is again seen errect and unpaniced hailing for the pick-up truck just after more gunfire. Again at time 6:45 to 6:48 this guy is standing fully errect and unperturbed with his hands in the air as more gunfire goes off. He can also be recognized at time 5:34 to 5:39 as the crowd is rushing away in panic due to gunfire noises.


    The above video was recorded in Damascus in early November. It contains footage of security forces firing on protesters but (1) they’re merely firing into the air (freeze the frame at times 0:09, 0:10 and 0:14 and you’ll see that), and (2) the context of the first eight seconds is fake context, discontinuous with the 9th second. As pointed out in English in a comment under the video at Youtube, the crowd before time 0:08 clearly exhibits unawareness of the crowd after time 0:08, and the crowd after time 0:08 clearly exhibits unawareness of the crowd before time 0:08, and once you accept that’s the truth the video as a whole is an attempted fraud. Syrians have a legal right to protest in public and there are countless videos of peaceful and undisturbed anti-regime protests at Youtube. But protests must be regulated because otherwise the protesters would sometimes use their protests as a cover for malicious obstruction of civil life, such as in the videos at Youtube where an unlicensed smallish band of dissidents is doing nothing more than deliberately and maliciously blocking movement of traffic on a major traffic street on a non-Friday.

    Posted by Parviziyi | January 3, 2012, 6:38 pm
  115. Geeze, even the Nazis were a lot more subtle in their purge of dissidents than this disaster of a regime. In a way this Baath entity is the ” idiot” little brother of the Nazi regime.

    #103, Off the F*#’n dial, your’e a pleasure to read. Somehow , we gotta transmit your wonderful insights and pure logic to the ” 70%” of the masses…or is it ” 50%”…..

    Posted by Maverick | January 3, 2012, 7:27 pm
  116. Well. That’s one hell of a challenge. Considering the stringent (and very subjective rules) you put on the matter. Who are you (or who am I for that matter) to judge what is or isn’t fake or real? Trying to prove a point based on the existence or lack of videos is a bit ridiculous, if you ask me.

    How about you ask the families of the people who have disappeared, or who have found their loved one’s bodies returned to them showing signs of torture and abuse? Oh wait. That won’t prove anything either. Because really, unless YOU are present and able to see with your own eyes who’s torturing or killing who, you will always be able to say that there is no proof, and that really, anyone could’ve committed those murders. Right?

    Sometimes, when things get this ridiculous, it’s time to realize that such arguments have no merit left to stand on. When one has to rely on overly ridiculous metrics to attempt to prove a point, that usually means said point is rather weak (if not to say utterly un-proveable).

    By your standards, we can’t really prove that Israel’s air force killed a bunch of people in Qana. Cause well, I wasn’t there to see it personally. And the video of an ambulance loading up bodies could very easily be a fake. Right? I’m just using your own logic here.
    For that matter, we can’t prove anything really. You can just pick what side you wanna be on, and make ridiculous claims that can’t be proven:

    – The videos of Qaddafi being executed can be fake. He’s probably alive and well in a hideout near Tel Aviv right now (Cause it wouldn’t be a good conspiracy without the “jews” being involved…)
    – Videos of abusive regimes (be it in China, Iran, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Afghanistan or anywhere else) can be easily fabricated.
    – No one can prove that anyone gave the order to do anything really. That invasion of Iraq? Never happened. Abu Ghraib? Nah. It was a fake. World War 2? I wasn’t there. Probably fake…
    – And what about before the advent of video recording? The massacres throughout history of which we have absolutely NO PROOF? Did Karbala really happen?

    Where does the silliness end?

    Posted by Bad Vilbel | January 3, 2012, 7:30 pm
  117. Mr Bad Vibel, the following video purports to show armed anti-regime dissidents firing on unarmed Syrian civilians. It is conceivable that it’s been faked to defame the anti-regime dissidents, but I think it’s very likely to be real, not fake. I challenge you to show us something where the Syrian security forces are firing on unarmed civilians, where you personally judge the video is very likely to be real and not fake.

    Posted by Parviziyi | January 3, 2012, 8:05 pm
  118. http://ncfsyria.blogspot.com/2011/09/addounia-tv-unrest-happening-in-fake.html

    I guess it’s all fake!! The Truman show right?

    Posted by danny | January 3, 2012, 8:50 pm
  119. How do I know that video you just posted is not something that was filmed in Hollywood? 🙂

    Really. I’m not going to bother with this game because we’ll just go around in circles. I think you can choose to believe whatever you want, and make the videos fit your worldview.
    Or you can choose to believe what is pretty obvious to all with some common sense.
    Is it so far fetched to believe, considering the circumstances:
    – We have a regime that we’ve all known to be undemocratic and repressive for decades. Here, I can speak from PERSONAL experience (no video needed). I lived in Beirut in the 70s and 80s and have seen firsthand how the Syrian regime operates.
    – Add to that I’m not the only one who has had these experiences.
    – Add to that the accounts coming from hundreds, if not thousands of people (versus the a singular voice: that of the regime) all in different cities and locations (Daraa, Homs, etc.). What did all these people coordinate to tell a story of repression, disappearances, torture, etc?
    – Add to that the fact that the regime has refused to allow independent press and even observers (until recently). (Why? If they had nothing to hide!)
    – Add to that the indisputable fact of people dying (I think we can all agree that people have indeed been killed, right?)
    – Add to that that until last year, there was no sign of terrorists in Syria (presumbaly, the regime had them under control, or everyone in Syria loved the regime and so there was no need for terror)
    – Add to that the fact that I’m not sure how a regime that’s so beloved and so in control of its populace for 40 years is suddenly overrun with terrrorists in various cities all at the same time (does this explanation seem plausible to anyone but a completely delluded individual?)

    Well, I don’t know. I can’t PROVE anything, cause I’m sitting comfortably in an office seat far away from all this. But I can kinda add 2 and 2. What seems plausible, when taking into account things I DO know from past experience, things I DO know about human nature, and about basic common sense, seems pretty clear.
    Choosing to go against all this common sense on the grounds of there not being any video proof is rather ridiculous. Sorry.

    The worldview and narrative one would have to put together to make your version of the story stick requires some pretty far fetched stretches. Even if there’s no proof to the contrary.

    Whenever a certain narrative requires pretty far-fetched ideas, I tend to be rather skeptical.

    You want me to believe that a regime that many of us have personally seen in action in Lebanon, is NOT doing what it has done time and again (abduct, disappear, assassinate, intimidate) and that instead, the good people of Syria, who absolutely LOVE the regime, but want to protest anyway (i wonder why, if they love the regime so much) are getting shot at by sudden wave of terrorists that magically appeared in Syria, only this year, without having been noticed or arrested by a regime that’s quite known for having eyes and ears everywhere. These terrorists managed to spring undetected in not one, or two, but a good few dozen cities, and cause trouble….for over 10 months without the loving populace and regime, hand in hand, being able to stop them or arrest them…..and that after all this time, no one has been able to find these guys…
    Yes. I am sure that story sounds quite believable to some.
    Also…Pigs fly (there just isn’t any video available at the moment to prove it)…

    Posted by Bad Vilbel | January 3, 2012, 9:11 pm
  120. Parviziyi,

    Has the Syrian regime ever allowed a viable opposition in the country?

    And regarding the videos, even your beloved president has admitted to mistakes having been made. Of course, most on this blog believe he’s severely sugarcoating it, but why challenge to something that already has been admitted to, from your side nonetheless? In any case, like BV is pointing out, there are other forms of evidences as well (you can’t assume every atrocity has been filmed!) but as you conveniently disregard those evidences, just like you disregard reports on human rights violations in Syria, there’s just no prooving anything, is there?

    Posted by Pas Cool | January 3, 2012, 10:23 pm
  121. BV,

    You’re just giving the Syrian version of Dr Joseph Goebbels more fodder. I think he is gearing up to take Walid Muallem’s place.

    It would be so much more productive and beneficial for debate if these broboganda types just admitted to what the world is seeing in front of their very eyes [ try faking hundreds of amateur videos shot]. Just admit that there is a problem with the regime,no matter how humbly and then can you start meeting on common ground.

    Posted by Maverick | January 3, 2012, 10:32 pm
  122. Maverick, BV

    I have personal encounters with those that have suffered at The hands of the regime, I have witnessed the conversations and recoiled with horror at some of the statements- yes they are all true: These are some of my fav quotes from Steinbeck and Allan White. They ring true for a 14 year old who lost his uncles to this regimes brutality,and also to friends that have survived it. But Parvizi wouldnt believe it unless he witnessed it with his own eyes!

    Equality of opprtunity is freedom, but equality of outcome is repression

    “And the little screaming fact that sounds through all history: repression works only to strengthen and knit the repressed.

    “So, dear friend, put fear out of your heart. This nation will survive, this state will prosper, the orderly business of life will go forward if only men can speak in whatever way given them to utter what their hearts hold — by voice, by posted card, by letter or by press. Reason never has failed men. Only force and repression have made the wrecks in the world.”

    Posted by Enlightened | January 3, 2012, 11:08 pm
  123. BV,

    Pigs to fly! Have you not seen the cover photo of Pink Floyd’s ANIMALS??? What more objective proof do you need????

    Posted by Parrhesia | January 4, 2012, 12:52 am
  124. QN,

    With so much turmoil and uncertainty common in the ME, I am sorry to say that the situation has taken a turn for the worse. Now we’re dealing with Israeli-made clothing in Algeria. I hope the Arab League will do something about this after they complete their mission in Syria…

    http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-4171128,00.html

    Posted by Akbar Palace | January 4, 2012, 7:43 am
  125. Anti regime Syrians conned the term “غباؤكم ينصرنا” “your stupidity will give us victory”. The propagandist picked the wrong day to demonstrate the innocence of his beloved regime. To begin with, April 22, which was termed “the Great Friday” by revolutionary facebook activists (and adopted by the demonstrators). That day was a vicious day in terms of the number of deaths at the hand of the Assad-Mafia. In Al-houleh, which comprises four small townships (تلدو وكفرلاها وتلذهب والطيبة), (Taldo, Kafarlaha, Tal-thahab, Alteybeh) had five confirmed fatalities out of the 154 (One Hundred and Fifty Four) confirmed deaths that have occurred mostly at the hands of the “disciplined” regime forces on April 22. So some of those “supposedly wounded” ended up really dead. There were two from (not in) Kafar Laha, two from (Taldo) and one being cited as having hailed from Houleh.

    On November 6, 2011, there were 22 (Twenty Two) recorded fatalities , non of them occurred in Qaboun the place where his second clip was shot. Recall that Nov. 6, was the first day of the Eid Al-Adha, and a larger number of victims on the first day of Eid would have been an undesired publicity for the regime as the AL was starting to take the issue seriously (or so we thought). However, the total number of regime victims in that area is by now 21 (Twenty One) victims few of them were also murdered on April, 22.

    With nearly 6000 murdered, assertion that the regime forces are disciplined is as bad as claiming that they are not. If they are disciplined and managed to murder nearly 6000 Syrians in the span of 9 month, then it only shows that it is a regime policy to shoot on and not to tolerate public display of dissent and to punish it in murderous way (a crime against humanity). If Parviziyi or anyone else now try’s to backtrack and say the regime forces are not disciplined or untrained, as the semi-educated president tried in one of his sophistry marathons), then policy and decision makers, starting from the president should immediately by tried for dereliction of duty.

    This will be the last of my responses to comments by said character. Reading his comments has been noxious and disgusting, at best. His challenge of converting the blog into a competition of youtube clips is rejected. A simple search on google and youtube will yield numerous clips demolishing his two unique instances where he thought he could play a forensic lawyer for a most despicable regimes.

    BTW, check the Rambo guy between 0:30 and 0:33, on the Nov, 6 clip, and see if this bastard was not aiming as he trans-versed the street, but had seemingly lost his prey and did not shoot.

    Posted by OFF THE WALL | January 4, 2012, 10:35 am
  126. My apologies, if the links did not work, then you may want to visit the VDC search page

    http://www.vdc-sy.org/?page=Martyr&lang=ar

    And enter
    April 22, 2011 in the date of death field for the first link
    Nov 6, 2011 in the date of death for the second link
    and قابون in the منطقة field for the third.

    I tested the links, they worked earlier on. If you press the shift key while clicking on the link, it may work.

    Posted by OFF THE WALL | January 4, 2012, 10:50 am
  127. Parrhesia, RE: Pink Floyd cover. LOL! Good one!

    Of course, you guys are right. No point arguing with Mr. Goebbels there (another good one, that!).

    Posted by Bad Vilbel | January 4, 2012, 1:29 pm
  128. Here comes a video that vividly backs up parviziyi’s assertion of Fake footage. He/she must have learned from the master teacher Mouallem.

    Here’s an analysis of the “teacher’s” “FACTUAL” exposing of the armed terrorists that are massacring people in Syria.

    Posted by danny | January 4, 2012, 5:15 pm
  129. Usually I like to have a very credible source before I post a story but I am going to make an exception this time.
    I have no clue how trustworthy is the Akhbaralarabnet but this story was covered in detail and was accompanied by a picture of the accuser.
    It simply states that a high ranking inspector at the Syrian prime Mintry’s afinancial audit has joined the opposition and he claims that large sums of money have been paid to Hezbollah media, an Amal official andmong others. If this story turns out to be true then it would be a further evidence that the days of the Syrian dictatorship are numbered.

    http://www.akhbaralarab.net/index.php/regional/45894-2012-01-04-19-06-15

    Posted by Ghassan Karam | January 4, 2012, 5:28 pm
  130. ghassan

    Be careful of these top ranking “defectors”…usually they turn out to be a limp attempt by the mukhabarat to derail the public’s focus…Remember hussam hussam?

    Posted by danny | January 4, 2012, 5:42 pm
  131. “large sums of money have been paid to Hezbollah media”?

    For what?

    Posted by mo | January 4, 2012, 8:28 pm
  132. BV/Danny/mo/Maverick…
    I hope that our host does not mind using this space for one personal question. I am betting that since we know each other only through cyberspace that I can get from you an unabashed honest answer.
    I would like to experiment with ebooks , specifically a Kindle book. I figured that the easiest thing for me would be to compile 150 various posts ( most about Lebanon) and call the e book forexample RAMBLINGS. I have two questions:(1) Would such a collection be of interest to anyone? and (2) If I am to do this should I give it away for free or should I charge for it?
    I would honestly appreciate your input.

    QN: Please feel free to delete this post if it does present a conflict . Believe me when I say that I can understand that need to delete this post.

    Posted by Ghassan Karam | January 5, 2012, 12:04 am
  133. Ghassan

    I have always read your writings I would be interested in the e book. It would be great – with the primary purpose of fostering and generating ideas.

    Dont know about the costing idea etc? What is your purpose and intentio here though?

    Posted by Enlightened | January 5, 2012, 1:15 am
  134. Enlightened,
    To be honest I do not have a clear answer to your question. Obviously I have no interest whatsoever in the money aspect. I like to become familiar and comfortable with new technologies. I do believe that ebooks are going to dominate the future of publishing. 3-4 years ago it was podcasting that I found attractive and so I did 250-300 podcasts. Unfortunately the company went bust last month and so I lost all of them. I have been trying online teaching by combining podcasts, youtube and maybe e books.
    Why a collection of blog posts? Well, I have them , some are interesting and even creative 🙂 and so I figure why not use them to learn a new medium and maybe share some thoughts with others.

    Posted by Ghassan Karam | January 5, 2012, 1:54 am
  135. Ghassan,

    I appreciate the insight and knowledge that I have attained through our cyber debates these past few years. I would be interested as far as you promise to beef it up periodically with more additions.

    Monetary or not I do think it is a great idea. Hopefully we all meet at Elias’s place once he completes his PHD… 😛
    I still owe a case of beer lol… 😀

    Posted by danny | January 5, 2012, 8:37 am
  136. Greetings from Beirut,

    ejet el kahrabah ? hayda el motair, tafee el azan ..dawer el defeyee taket el sa3a.. n2ata3 el ersel.. kasser.. ejo layna .. kol sfoof.. soff 3al yamine..kes ekht hal balad.. awlak fee 7areb ? ma fi shi.. lan narka3 abadan lan narka3.. ejet el may.. kelllo el 7a2 3al Amerkain..

    Oh my God

    Posted by Vulcan | January 5, 2012, 6:16 pm
  137. Vulcan 🙂

    Love it.

    Al 7amdilla 3a salameh

    Posted by Qifa Nabki | January 5, 2012, 7:19 pm
  138. GK#132.

    If you’re planning on charging, perhaps a more scholarly title than ramblings would be fitting.

    I think your audience would be limited to people interested in the area if the topic is Lebanon, but it’s been done before (Collections of blog posts commercialized- what was the name of that Iraqi blogger chap?).

    Happy New Year All.

    Posted by Gabriel | January 5, 2012, 7:56 pm
  139. QN says: For the first decade of Assad’s presidency, most Syrian blogs I read were fairly supportive of the regime because of its commitment to the Palestinian cause and its opposition to the United States and Israel. But this year has changed everything.

    There you have it, the reason and symptom that the Arab intellectuals (as a class) were and still are bankrupt and clueless.

    a) They believed Assad stood up to Israel?Us etc. Stupid.

    b) They justified murder, invasion, torture… in Leb and Syr because of a). Thanks, and wasn’t that Mubarak/Qadafi/Hezballah position?

    c) This year things have changed? Why? Cuz the murderer has weakened?

    We can analyze shift and nuances of bloggers but to me these positions are as usual grounbed in nothing other than expediency and knee-jerk enmity to Israel/US with no alternative of their own (there’s the occasional lone exception I suppose). The Arab world and its intellectuals are still lost and we are in for another lost century.

    Cheers

    Posted by OldHand | January 6, 2012, 3:50 am
  140. Without the demise of the security-based infrastructure of the Syrian regime, no real reform is possible. Election lists are made in shadowy offices sitting atop torture dungeons that are connected with tentacles of informants, money connections, and tribal-criminal alliances of illicit trades and oligarchic elites. All the nice talk in Pravda or other papers will not whitewash the rotten foundation and structure.

    Posted by Cynthia | January 6, 2012, 5:21 am
  141. Old Hand:

    I’m not at all clear on why you are conflating “bloggers” with “Intellectuals”. The former is the topic of the post.

    While QN may be good testament to the fact that some bloggers may be intellectual, it is not necessarily true that bloggers are intellectuals.

    Facetiousness aside. Your comment, and the original post is something of a head scratcher.

    – The “Arabs”, en masse, excused dictatorial and brutal regimes when such regimes were seen as supportive of the “Palestinian” cause, or were “anti-colonial” in color.

    – This position has been consistent across various and broad political umbrellas: Arab nationalists, Arab Leftists, and various Muslim political groups.

    – This year spells a shift in what appears to be “Position”, but is more likely simply “Priority”. The anti-colonial argument, the Israel argument seems not to stick very well.

    It’s an interesting phenomenon. What brought about this shift?

    Posted by Gabriel | January 6, 2012, 8:05 am
  142. Parviziyi#117

    I watched the video. It shows some men on a roof top firing at a convoy of what appears to be buses.

    Are those men pro- or anti- regime?
    Are the buses they are firing at civilians/noncivilians/empty?
    Are the people in the buses, if any, armed or unarmed?

    Posted by Gabriel | January 6, 2012, 8:12 am
  143. Danny #128.

    Not sure what the moral of the video is. Is it that Moallem is a liar? Or that the Lebanese are uncivilised animals? [The end of the clip, it appears the Lebanese talking were rather proud the scene happened in their backyards!]

    What a horrid video that was.

    Posted by Gabriel | January 6, 2012, 8:21 am
  144. Off-the-Wall #112.

    You start the post reminiscing about days when Syrian TV played “classical music” etc.

    You ended the post by saying you’re happy the days of Damascene elitism are over. Why? Because of some witty zingers on banners?!

    No offense to the witty villagers, but I suspect they won’t be the ones putting classical music back on your TV channels (at least not any time soon).

    Posted by Gabriel | January 6, 2012, 8:31 am
  145. Gabriel,

    …That Muallem & Mukhabarat are liars. They constantly reproduce awkward soviet era “misdirections” (car bombs at the mukhabarat HQs…) whereas they kill their own people to blame on others.
    …That those who lynched the Egyptian man and the others in Tripoli are savages as well!!
    Thank God it’s six degrees here and safe!

    Posted by danny | January 6, 2012, 10:12 am
  146. Danny.. When I was shivering a couple of days ago, I would have been inclined to disagree, but when you put it this way 🙂 , I spouse you are right !

    Posted by Gabriel | January 6, 2012, 3:02 pm
  147. Gabriel
    Very sharp observation. I agree they may not put classical music back on my TV or radio station (and that is not assured), but let us not overlook that along with these witty villagers and their zinger, an inspired group of intellectuals, musicians, and artists is emerging from the ashes of the regime’s cheep personality cult-based and highly corrupt and docile art and literary scene. Some of those are also defectors from the elites, but a sizable number are rooted in these villages, and they are managing to take the issues ad present them with creativity that far exceeds what regime intellectuals are capable of. And I like creativity, in any shape or form, be it in a good folks song, a nice percussion solo on derbakke, or in the Ring of Vagner.

    However, that is not to say that the art and literary scene in Syira has been dead. It never died. It was only the taste of the neo-rich and the regime’s powerful, yet semi-literates that dominated what was allowed to flourish. I am, however, not willing to dismiss works of great value and quality that were produced, despite of the regime’s destructive effect and talents that shined professionally. Sadly, some of these talents have fallen ethically, while others have now risen sky high as they took the ethical stand with the Syrian people.

    Posted by OFF THE WALL | January 6, 2012, 3:16 pm
  148. The case against dictatorships and absolute monarchs is very simple and straight forward: “‘If the freedom of speech is taken away then dumb and silent we may be led, like sheep to the slaughter.” As long as that freedom is guaranteed then everything else is peripheral.

    Posted by Ghassan Karam | January 6, 2012, 5:39 pm
  149. OtW:

    I don’t know much about Syria, or Damascus. Only that I was in the latter a couple of years ago, and I absolutely loved the city. Elitism and all ;). I think there was something refreshing to walk around the city and seeing random shop owners converse with travelling Europeans in German and Spanish and other such tongues. I don’t know if those people are considered elites, or simply enterprising merchants. But either way, I quite enjoyed the sight.

    I must say though that I was standing and waiting for a taxi, and a big burly man, who looked like 3antar (was that his name?) from the Ghawar TV series of the 80’s stood ahead of me.

    I decided to confront him and tell him to wait in line, snuck into the taxi, and had to quickly rush in at the risk of him pulling me out and giving me a good Syria style beating. :).

    Posted by Gabriel | January 6, 2012, 6:35 pm
  150. On the topic of Ghawar… any word on where he stands on the current fiasco in Syria?

    Posted by Gabriel | January 6, 2012, 6:41 pm
  151. Gabriel
    Duriad Lahham is a big pro-regime ammunition. He is only revolutionary on the stage, along with many artists and some used to be luminary poets and writers who are so used to writing, acting, and painting in controlled symbolism to a point where the freedom of speech G.K described so eloquently scares them and threatens their privileged position as icons.

    Posted by OFF THE WALL | January 6, 2012, 9:40 pm
  152. Gaby!……… mischief maker.)

    Posted by lally | January 7, 2012, 1:21 am
  153. 2 jan 2012. Footage of street scenes in Homs City recorded on 2 Jan 2012 showing normal life, busy streets, no tension. This video depicts what’s dominant in Homs. You should watch it carefully and to completion if you’re not sure what’s dominant in Homs.

    Posted by Parviziyi | January 7, 2012, 5:58 am
  154. A woman at a pro-regime rally in Aleppo on 6 Jan 2012 says: “Shaab Al-Souri Kilna Wahid…. Wahida Wataniya”. She means it as a summary of what the reality on the ground is throughout the country, and I agree with her.
    youtube.com/watch?v=e-9J7t7a5vA&feature=player_detailpage#t=1016s

    And here’s a video of woman saying much the same thing at a pro-regime rally in Aleppo in year 1998 (or 1999) where you can see a big sign over the stage that says: “God Bless You O Assad. Protect the One Unity.” The unity theme runs deep and broad in Syrian mindsets.
    youtube.com/watch?v=aTgNJu66yx8

    Since I’m on a Lebanon blog, it reminds me, even though it’s rather off-topic, Hafez Assad said on 29 Dec 1985: “The Baathist regime was the first to recognize Lebanon’s sovereignty, independence and unity. It is true that we are one people, but we are two States.” (source: Patrick Seale’s 1988 book about Syria). My comment: Syria and Lebanon are two totally different peoples in the sphere of political mindsets. One big difference is that, as Syria’s Vice President Farouq al-Sharaa put it in July 2011, Syria is “immune to sectarianism”. And the key reason that Syria is immune to sectarianism is that the Syrian Establishment is predominantly Sunni and the Establishment Sunnis do not want to support sectarian politics or Sunni chauvinism — to their great credit. Nothing important can happen and be sustained in Syria if most Sunnis object to it. The Establishment happily encompasses all religions, with none of that yucky yucky crapola poo-poo’ed out in Lebanon, and a necessary condition for the reality is that the Sunni majority wants it to be that way — to their great credit.

    Posted by Parviziyi | January 7, 2012, 6:00 am
  155. 6 jan 2011. Ordinary Syrians surround the Arab League observers in Damascus in order to impress upon them the necessity for objectivity and factual correctness. http://www.presstv.ir/detail/219044.html

    29 dec 2011. Footage of the Arab League observers in Homs: The good working class people of Homs have come out in numbers onto the streets to impress upon the Arab League observers that the Syrian Army is the force of civilization and virtue. youtube.com/watch?v=hMqE0sei5w8

    Posted by Parviziyi | January 7, 2012, 6:04 am
  156. The UN Commissioner for Human Rights and the non-Syrian news media have stated that 5,000 people were killed by the Syrian security forces during year 2011. The following video presents one piece the evidence that the true figure is greatly lower. Most of the video’s content is taken from Syrian State TV. English subtitles have been added. It’s a 10-minute compilation of some of Syrian State TV’s refutations of news reports by Al-Jazeera and Al-Arabiya. Somebody at Youtube commented that the video is regime propaganda, and the person who uploaded the video made the fine reply: “Assad propaganda? Dude, did you even watch the video AT ALL? People who were DEAD are ALIVE. I can’t dumb it down any more for you.” I recommend the video for the reason that many like it have been watched on Syrian State TV by a wide audience and the bulk of the audience has been convinced it’s the truth. It’s part of the good stuff by which the regime won the media war in Syria. The question of whether you youself disbelieve Syrian State TV is a different consideration — which you should not mix up with the consideration of what the people of Syria are thinking.

    Posted by Parviziyi | January 7, 2012, 6:08 am
  157. OtW:

    Thanks for the tidbit. Pity.

    Lally: 🙂

    Posted by Gabriel | January 7, 2012, 10:20 am
  158. Where is the outrage by the Lebanese press when Bkirki issues through Al Rai a position saying that equal partnership is the basis of the Lebanese structure irrespective of demography. Isn’t there anyone in Bkirki who understands that the best guarantee for all citizens is not an unrepresentative allocation of MP seats ? All what is needed for all citizens to feel at ease and productive is a strong individual bill of rights. Isn’t it time that someone tells Bkirki that its clergy are NOT to act as a Parliament?

    Posted by Ghassan Karam | January 7, 2012, 1:09 pm
  159. I am at times dumbfounded by statements issued by Lebanese politicians. Note the following from last week by PM Mikati which ought to be filed under the rubric: What Took So Long?

    ١١:١١ ميقاتي: الحكومة لا يمكن ان تكون فاعلة ومسؤولة الا اذا كانت متعاونة ومتجانسة
    1/3/2012

    The above is the first time that the PM seems to acknowledge, what has been regarded by many, to be an unworkable cabinet construct. That in itself is bewildering as the following quotes illustrate:

    ” Its major problem [the Lebanese Cabinet] is the lack of harmony between its members and in particular between the FPM and everybody else. The Premiere has the duty to form a cabinet in his image and not to conform to the whimsical wants of a group of ministers that are focused on histrionics and grabbing headlines.” 11/27/2011

    “it is time that we put an end to this unworkable cabinet composition. It is high time that we shout from the hill tops that Lebanon has become a parliamentary system and it is also time that we allow the PM to lead and govern if the premiership is to be held accountable for the successes or failures. To allow the cabinet to substitute for the parliament and to encourage individual ministers to subvert the role of the PM is eventually ineffective, unworkable and even undemocratic. The PM must head the cabinet and choose those that are willing to enact the plays that he calls.” 9/11/2011

    “this cabinet is just another tower of Babel. It is ineffective, opaque and cannot govern. Lebanon deserves better. Mr. Mikati ought to resign and go back to his roots by forming a truly independent cabinet of technocrats.” 8/14/2011

    Posted by Ghassan Karam | January 7, 2012, 3:40 pm
  160. Lacking another convenient and believable venue, permit me to post the following clip that was forwarded to me and seek comments/distillation/acquiescence/rebuttal, hopefully all done with good arguments as objectively as possible. Thanks!

    Posted by Honest Patriot | January 9, 2012, 7:56 am
  161. On 9 Jan 2012 Damascus-based Greek Orthodox Bishop Luca Al-Khouri said that the reporting about Syria by foreign-based news media is “venomous” and “spouts nothing but lies and deceit”; and he went on to decry the United Nations Human Rights Council for “refusing to side with the truth”. Multiple-choice quiz question for you: when the archbishop makes that statement, is he (a) leading public opinion among Christians, (b) following public opinion among Christians, (c) following overwhelmingly popular public opinion among all religious sects, or (d) declaring an idiosyncratic personal opinion. The correct answer is (c). If you didn’t pick (c), you simply have not been observing public opinion in Syria, not from Syrian sources anyway. “Overwhelmingly popular” is quite impossible to miss. Syria’s Grand Mufti, the great Ahmad Hassoun, speaking in the same venue on the same day, stressed the strength of the national unity among the Syrian people. And he called on the Arab League and the United Nations to change their stances. http://www.sana.sy/eng/21/2012/01/09/393257.htm .

    Ahmad Hassoun has been an influential public opinion leader over the past nine months. Way back on 26 Mar 2011 he said on Al-Jazeera TV “there are no army officials who opened fire at protesters, they only retaliated out of self-defense”; and he also said “any citizen has the right to protest and call for freedom”. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TbXu-Yh2Qc8 . He’s been saying those two things for nine months. So has the government.

    Posted by Parviziyi | January 9, 2012, 4:29 pm
  162. Parviziyi – you are delusional if you think these sterilized tidbits you provide will make anyone with common sense change their view of what is really happening in Syria. You talk as if the Syrian regime, media, and society are democratic, open and transparent and have been so for decades.
    The Mufti and the Bishop both worth a “sa7soo7, or 10 Syrian liras” from the mukhabarat and they will tell any story the regime wants them to tell.
    You are bordering on silly, it’s a shame that good English grammar going to waste!

    QN- Gracias Compadre ! Are you still in Beirut? If so, how do you keep sane? Am in am in ! 🙂

    Posted by Vulcan | January 9, 2012, 8:37 pm
  163. @ Vulcan: sheurly ur fukn jokn. If you’re not then you’re only fooling yourself by your sourly refusal to observe public opinion in Syria from good Syrian sources. I couldn’t care less if you sincerely think I’m silly. My confidence comes from viewing the sources. Which you haven’t done, I assert.

    Some of you other Lebanese anti-Assadists might appreciate the following anti-regime protest video from Friday 6 Jan 2012 in Bab Tadmor neighbourhood in Homs City because the brats sings a well-known Lebanese folksong, Zeyino Saha. youtube.com/watch?v=LI25vsf-U8s . What I appreciate about it, however, is that I remember when crowd sizes at Friday protests in Bab Tadmor were much bigger, but it was many months ago now (as verifiable by searching for حمص باب تدمر at Youtube). And yes I said they’re brats.

    Posted by Parviziyi | January 9, 2012, 10:35 pm
  164. Parviziyi.

    Why are you getting so worked up.

    Bashar has pretty much gotten a free pass to, well, remove those unsightly radicals from Syria. Why are you getting all worked up about monks and sheikhs and what have you.

    Go grab a machete and help Bashar mow down a couple of more non-peaceful terrorists.

    Posted by Gabriel | January 10, 2012, 10:34 am
  165. Parviziyi,

    You still haven’t answered a question of mine: Has the Syrian regime prior to 2011 allowed for a viable opposition to take root? I state the answer is no, and I would like to see you argue otherwise. If you agree that it is indeed no, then you surely you must see the ridicule in stating remarks about the opposition in Syria and Bashar’s popularity, both if which are affected whether or not there actually is a viable opposition or not.

    Anyway, you argue from a point of inferiority. There is nothing to back your claim other than various video clips, statements made by various people and other weak arguments. There is massive evidence to the contrary of what you are saying, but it must feel good to just be able to dismiss most of it as a foreign conspiracy. I see in you one that would defend the leader of, say, North Korea. The North Korean media, too, is winning the media war and there are plenty of arguments, similar to the ones you make, that point to Kim Jong Un’s popularity. I am sure that you would, had you been living in North Korea, defend the stories of Kim Jong Un’s genius, his semi-divine origin and so on and so on.

    Don’t get me wrong, I don’t say the above as soon as one is pro-regime. In fact, I have had several discussions with people who weigh the pros and cons of the current regime and end up being on the pro side. These people don’t, however, live in some kind of lala-land where they believe everything the regime says and refute anything others put forward that shows the brutality of the regime. By the way, you seem to like Patrick Seale as I recall from above. He stated that the popularity seems to be 20-20-60 (pro-con-silent majority). In any case, this is of course nothing but a qualified guess, as opinion polls are not allowed and elections are irrelevant when gauging public opinion.

    Posted by Pas Cool | January 10, 2012, 3:17 pm
  166. I can just hear the sound of machetes being sharpened after that glorious speech by the Champion of Arabs, the great nation builder and the peace maker, the benevolent and wise, Dr. Bashar Al Assad.
    This speech is up there with one of Castro’s.

    Posted by Maverick | January 10, 2012, 5:45 pm
  167. Why is IDF CoS Benny Gantz gearing up to harbor Alawites fleeing the flashing machetes ? He specifically mentions THEM. Some incredulous Levant watchers think he could be taunting EL Gigante Loco. But, given the historical record, I suspect attempts to incite sectarian violence.

    http://www.imra.org.il/story.php3?id=55264

    Posted by lally | January 10, 2012, 8:38 pm
  168. @ Pas Cool: I think Patrick Seale is a schmuck. I don’t read any of his output about Syria although I did browse through that history book of his and I got some worthwhile bits of history out of it. I’ll repeat myself for the umpteenth time because you appear to be not paying attention: I believe the notion of an “uncommited silent majority” is false and baseless; and instead I believe that huge support and commitment to the Assad regime is real, including most valuably among the better-educated. I have given you some of my basis for that. There’ll be in March a nationwide referendum on the new Constitution, then in June nationwide parliamentary elections, then in 2014 a Presidential election. Those events will be tests of my belief against Patrick Seale’s belief that the majority of voters don’t know what they want.

    @ Pas Cool: I already said earlier, quoting Bashar, “we never said we are a democratic country…. We are moving forward in reforms, especially in the last nine months….” I thought that answered your question. At least in part it does. Another thing I already said, which is another part of the answer, is that the regime has been popular and Bashar himself has been very popular, whereas the various opposition factions have proven to be unpopular over the years — e.g. the Syrian Parliament contains a variety of independents and government critics, and also has some organized opposition parties, yet year after year they’ve failed to win much popular following. Assuming you can accept those popularity facts are historically true, it goes much of the way towards explaining why, as you correctly say, a viable opposition has failed to take root in Syrian politics. Another thing I have already said above is that (a) the Syrian societal Establishment shows no inclination towards internal divisiveness such as would create two parties within one Establishment, and (b) the Syrian society is not going to vote in numbers for an anti-Establishment agenda. If both (a) and (b) are correct, it follows that a viable opposition is not going to take root any time soon despite full-fledged democracy. Despite full-fledged democracy, it will take well more than a decade, perhaps more than 25 years, before anyone will see a viable opposition party in Syria.

    @ Pas Cool: Bashar’s speech on 10 jan 2012 took him one hour and forty minutes to read aloud. I’m able to silently read general text at roughly twice the speed that someone can speak the text aloud (most other practiced readers can do that too). But it took me about two hours and forty minutes to read Bashar’s speech. It was hard work in places, even though I came to it with strong background knowledge. I am pretty certain you haven’t read it. If you want to understand Syria you must do the work. If you trust yourself to the goddamn newspapers you’re a goddamned fool. http://www.sana.sy/eng/21/2012/01/11/393338.htm

    Posted by Parviziyi | January 11, 2012, 8:52 am
  169. Why is IDF CoS Benny Gantz gearing up to harbor Alawites fleeing the flashing machetes ?

    Lally,

    Israeli leaders say things all the time, mostly BS. You may as well read Debkafile.

    It’s another trial balloon; no one is opening the gates to allow an influx of arab refugees. I don’t know why he made this statement and I think it was irresponsible.

    http://www.israelnationalnews.com/News/News.aspx/151609

    Posted by Akbar Palace | January 11, 2012, 9:12 am
  170. The main goal of the presence of Arab League observers on Syrian territory is to observe, to learn what is reality in Syria, to obtain a truthful and objective picture. Yesterday the Arab League Secretary-General Nabil Al-Arabi said “The main goal of the presence of observers on Syrian territory is to find a political solution to the Syrian crisis.” That is wrong! The sole political solution is the comprehesive reform program championed by the government. The fact that Nabil Al-Arabi takes a different and wrong stance on what the Arab League observers are doing suggests that we pro-Syrians can potentially have more trouble with the Arab League in the upcoming months.

    But as Walid Al-Moalem said way back on 27 Jun 2011: “The caravan of Syria is moving on, no matter how much the dogs bark.” youtube.com/watch?v=9LrjMeEO71o

    PS:
    Bashar Assad said on 10 Jan 2012: “We have two policies: the first is to proceed with the reform process and the second is to fight terrorism. The greatest part of the Syrian people supports these policies. What this means is that the people stand united with State institutions…. In the reform process, there are those who believe that what we are doing now is the way to get out of the crisis or is the whole solution to the crisis. This is not true. We are not doing it for that reason. The relationship between the reform and the crisis is limited. My vision from the very beginning was that there is no relation between the two, but it wasn’t easy to talk about it then because things were not clear for many Syrians as they have become clear now [w.r.t. external news media’s bigoted falsehoods and internal violent rebellion]…. Will the outside plots against Syria stop if we introduce the reforms today? [No.] What is the relationship between reform and terrorism? If we carry out the reforms, will the terrorists stop? [No.] …. The greatest part of the Syrian people want reform, and they have not come out [to protest on the streets], they haven’t broken the law, haven’t killed…. We cannot develop Syria without reform…. We were late with the reform. But reform remained a natural need. In our discussion of reform, let us separate natural need from the crisis. There are some impacts of the crisis; but we do not base our reform on the crisis.”

    Posted by Parviziyi | January 11, 2012, 12:27 pm
  171. Gabriel @ 164
    How different what Parviziyi has been doing from grabbing a machete? Killing the truth is as harmful as killing people, no?

    Posted by OFF THE WALL | January 11, 2012, 1:30 pm
  172. Anwar Malek, an Algerian national and a true official member of the Arab League observer mission in Syria, told Al-Jazeera TV yesterday that he quit has the mission in disgust at the Assad regime’s depraved behaviour. He said: “What I saw was a humanitarian disaster. The regime isn’t committing one war crime but a series of crimes against its people. Children are killed and they are starved and terrorized…. I saw charred and skinned bodies that had been tortured.” He said he spent 15 days in Homs city and visited the hotspot neighborhoods of Bab Amr, Bab Sabaa and Al-Khalidiya, which he said must be declared a “disaster” zone. He said soldiers “attempting to flee or defect were executed. I saw three bodies of executed soldiers. They were shot from the back.” He also said about his time in Homs: “From time to time we would see a person killed by a sniper. I have seen it with my own eyes. I could not shed my humanity in such situations and claim independence and objectivity.” Malek said he had visited a political security prison as part of the Arab League observer mission and found people “in tragic conditions subjected to torture and starvation where they only eat a light meal a day”.

    Anwar Malek’s appearance on Al-Jazeera TV on 10 Jan 2012 is at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oH9bXLmZwEs
    What he told Al-Jazzeera has been picked up by
    The Guardian (UK): guardian.co.uk/world/2012/jan/11/arab-league-official-syria-mission-farce?newsfeed=true
    Agence France-Presse: naharnet.com/stories/en/26240-arab-league-observer-quits-slams-syria-war-crimes
    Reuters: af.reuters.com/article/egyptNews/idAFL6E8CB1FI20120111?pageNumber=1&virtualBrandChannel=0&sp=true
    Financial Times: ft.com/intl/cms/s/0/6d849bb6-3c56-11e1-8d38-00144feabdc0.html#axzz1jAzZDDrc
    and many other news media outlets.

    Anwar Malek is a flakey dissident or “activist”, not an observer with professional qualifications. He appeared on Al-Jazeera in 2008 and 2009 calling for the ouster of Arab dictators, as you can see here:
    youtube.com/watch?v=RBrlsG-_DWk
    youtube.com/watch?v=bYgrziadQIo

    Today 11 Jan 2012 an official at Arab League said Anwar Malek’s accusations were all unfounded because he was bedridden and was never in the field. “He was ill and bedridden at his Syria hotel. So how could he make those claims?” said the unnamed AL official. I gather that Nabil Al-Arabi says the same about him: http://www.naharnet.com/stories/en/26280-arab-league-puts-off-sending-more-syria-monitors

    It was quite unfortunate for Anwar Malek that he got sick at the wrong time.

    Meanwhile the Arab League has requested Algeria to send more observers: news.xinhuanet.com/english/world/2012-01/11/c_131353275.htm

    Posted by Parviziyi | January 11, 2012, 2:58 pm
  173. A Palace.

    Given that Israel’s military censor is ubiquitous, one must assume that the info from Gantz was cleared for publication. He said some other controversial stuff:

    “Speaking at a Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee meeting, Gantz warned that “2012 will be a critical year in the connection between Iran gaining nuclear power, changes in leadership, continuing pressure from the international community and events that happen unnaturally.”

    The phrase “changes in leadership” vis a vis Iran is of interest in lieu of today’s mini WaPost scandal involving an article in which a “senior intelligence official” claimed that regime change was one of our goals. Mucho denials issued.

    Posted by lally | January 11, 2012, 4:37 pm
  174. Given that Israel’s military censor is ubiquitous, one must assume that the info from Gantz was cleared for publication.

    lally,

    BS and misinformation are always “cleared for publication”. I’ve been reading statements from the IDF and the GOI for years. Misinformation is encouraged and planned. It’s a form of psychological “warfare”, perhaps, and the people aware of what’s going on in Israel, even at a general level, know what is BS and what isn’t.

    Israel will not be opening her borders to Syrian Alawites. I’ll put a wager on that.

    Posted by Akbar Palace | January 11, 2012, 4:51 pm
  175. Out of respect for the dead innocent men women and children, it is better to refrain from commenting on or engaging with soulless “intellectuals” who condone and justify murder committed by a vile regime with a history in human rights violations. All based on the existence of popular “numerical” support, never mind if this so called popular support is the direct result of decades of murder, oppression, fear and corruption.

    Posted by Vulcan | January 11, 2012, 5:43 pm
  176. OtW:

    You don’t need to get any more worked up than Parviziyi. I mean what has he/she done to date?

    Post some videos with heresay commentary.

    Is that tantamount to “killing the truth”? I suppose they are trying rather desperately to do so, but the figures of the dead should be truth enough.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2011%E2%80%932012_Syrian_uprising#Deaths

    According to Wiki, according to Syria, 3416 people have been killed to date.

    3416 crazy terrorists or their innocent victims… and counting.

    Parviziyi really should take up arms instead of wasting precious time at QN. The matter of ridding the country of “terrorists” shouldn’t take much longer. After all, Syria is a land full of non-sectarian, loving people where Sunnis and Christians and Alawis and all the other godly creatures co-exist wonderfully, and who stand united behind their leader, and his wonderful rose in the desert.

    The quicker we kill off the last 1? 10? 100? 1×10^x, where x is a number yet to be specified by Parviziyi, the quicker we will attain peace.

    Posted by Gabriel | January 11, 2012, 6:02 pm
  177. Lally,

    Some years back, I chanced upon a book at one of Toronto’s fine used bookstores. It was a history of the War in Lebanon:

    http://www.amazon.com/War-Lebanon-1970-1985-Cornell-Paperbacks/dp/0801493137/ref=sr_1_3?ie=UTF8&qid=1326319534&sr=8-3

    It is quite the gem of a book. Attached at the end of the book is the speech of Assad Snr, given before his tanks rolled into Lebanon to aid the Maronites of Lebanon.

    To protect communal co-existence, it was to come at the heel of Syria’s boot.

    Fast forward 20-30 years. It seems (per your link) that the Zionist project is hell-bent on demonstrating that Peoples cannot live under one roof.

    I’m not sure if this or that general meant to extend the offer rather sincerely. It would be rather ironic if a year hence, the Alawis of Syria find safety in the loving bosoms of the Zionist state.

    If indeed that would be the outcome, wouldn’t that be something?

    Posted by Gabriel | January 11, 2012, 6:12 pm
  178. Perhaps the Arab Beleaguered should ask how was it that Malek became ill and ” bedridden” instead of denying what he said. His comments seemed rogue-ish and extreme for the prestigious AL mission hence their reaction.
    You mention so many links that are testaments to this extraordinary gentleman, yet you defile him by quoting one online An-Nahar article. The Irony.

    Posted by Maverick | January 11, 2012, 7:04 pm
  179. A Palace. I also have many many moons into observing the MO of the actors involved and agree that psyops could be part of the agenda. The author of this NYT piece, being married to an Israeli, ably fills in some blanks that the Israeli media simply can’t:

    “Addressing a closed meeting of the Israeli Parliament’s Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee, the chief, Lt. Gen. Benny Gantz, said that Israel was preparing to absorb the refugees in a buffer zone between Syria and the Golan, a strategic area that Israel seized from Syria in the 1967 war, and which remains an area of disputed sovereignty. The plans included defensive measures and humanitarian assistance for those in flight, including thousands from the ruling Alawite sect, the small minority to which Mr. Assad belongs.”
    http://www.nytimes.com/2012/01/11/world/middleeast/israel-braces-for-refugees-in-event-of-syria-collapse.html

    Where’s the “buffer zone between “Syria and the Golan”?. How many hectares does the IDF need for the Alawite camp? Imagine the intensely layered security required for such a complex scenario; “defensive measures” indeed. I would assume the the non-Al_Qaeda opposition would be involved in the “buffer zone” business.

    Plus, it sure would be nice to have a F[orward] O[perating] B[ase] in that “buffer zone”.
    Ready or not, here we come, SHN.

    Posted by lally | January 12, 2012, 12:34 am
  180. Gaby. Thanks for pointing me toward Itamar Rabinovich. His perspective on the unlikely Alwawite situation would be most instructive. Israel is not a refugee-friendly State; making me suspect a head-fake by military planners.)

    Posted by lally | January 12, 2012, 1:31 am
  181. Qifa Nabki at #58 above asked: “How do you know that Syrians have decided overwhelmingly that the government is telling the truth?” I posted one part of the multi multi-part answer on 7 January but my post is still awaiting moderation here. (The website software thinks it needs review by a moderator because it has many external links). SANA today 12 January has a good concrete illustration of how Syria won the media war in Syria. Al-Jazeera TV broadcast photos of the dead body of a small child. Al-Jazeera reported that the child had been killed in a Syrian prison, and the child’s father is in the prison, and the child’s killers were Syrian intelligence-gathering men. In response Syrian State TV aired footage of the child’s mother saying that the child had died from a natural cause after an illness, and that the child’s father is living outside Syria. She said her husband’s parents took the child’s dead body to their home in Homs and apparently the photo was taken after that point. The mother is from Homs but has been living in Tartous. The child died in a hospital in Tartous. SANA has a copy of the coroner’s report. A photo of the mother at home is strongly suggestive of the idea that the overall family is poorly educated and dirt poor. SANA commented: “Al-Jazeera has grown accustomed to weaving false stories and fabrications revolving around children, exploiting their innocence to misguide, instigate and rally public opinion. These stories end up being proven to be lies by the families of the deceased children who include Oula Jablawi, Sari Saoud, and Hala al-Mnajjed, as well as Afaaf Saraqbi.” http://www.sana.sy/eng/337/2012/01/11/393686.htm

    Posted by Parviziyi | January 12, 2012, 3:23 am
  182. Where’s the “buffer zone between “Syria and the Golan”?. How many hectares does the IDF need for the Alawite camp?

    Lally,

    Go to Google Maps and zoom in on the area between Syria and Israel. You’ll see 2 dotted lines. This is where the UN supposedly patrols. It is a “no man’s land” and consists of several square kilometers.

    I suppose the Alawites could move into this area (aka Kunietra), but I still think this is just a trial balloon.

    Posted by Akbar Palace | January 12, 2012, 9:30 am
  183. Since the Golan belongs to Syria, the Alawites would not be refugees. They would simply be returning to their own land.
    In any event, none of this will happen. If you watched Assad’s speech, you know that he has the proper perspective on the current interruptions. What we are seeing is foreign incitement, attempting to distract from the steadfast resistance on behalf of the murderous zionists, who every day are responsible for more deaths than even the imagined fantasies of anti-Assad traitors and agitators.

    Posted by dontgetit | January 12, 2012, 9:39 am
  184. dontgetit,

    How many of the 6000 or so deaths this past year in Syria have been caused by “murderous Zionists”, and how many of the thousands languishing in Syrian detension of the Jewish faith?

    Posted by Akbar Palace | January 12, 2012, 12:50 pm
  185. A Palace.

    dgi is a juvenile zionist who thinks he is being clever.

    Posted by lally | January 12, 2012, 12:53 pm
  186. dgi is a juvenile zionist who thinks he is being clever.

    lally,

    Usally zionists don’t refer to other zionists as “murderous Zionists”, but I’ll definately keep a look-out for him at the next Elders meeting tomorrow at shul.

    Shalom.

    Posted by Akbar Palace | January 12, 2012, 1:24 pm
  187. A. Palace

    Usually zionists don’t refer to themselves as “Akbar” anything, either.

    Have a nice day.

    Posted by lally | January 12, 2012, 7:31 pm
  188. LooooooooooL

    Posted by Gabriel | January 12, 2012, 8:56 pm
  189. One obvious exodus which has been neglected in the above discussion is not into Israel but into Lebanon.
    I believe that the Syrian regime has already lost. What is not clear is whether some Sunnis will try to exact revenge. If they do then many (100’s of thousands) of Alawaites will seek refuge in Lebanon . That will again upset the sectarian balance. The solution would then call for nationalizing the Palestinians and the Maronites will pack up and move to France.
    That is an interesting scenario. Unanticipated consequences of the creation of Greater Lebanon would become so paradoxical: Greatest damage is done to those that it was designed to help.:-)

    Posted by Ghassan Karam | January 13, 2012, 4:52 pm
  190. Why not invite the Syrian Christians to Lebanon and we can rebalance the secterian scale and live happily ever after 🙂

    Posted by Vulcan | January 13, 2012, 5:53 pm
  191. GK,

    It would also be an irony if it refused refuge to those seeking it, having hitherto been such a refuge for so many.
    …and what sectarian balance are we talking about? the only way to keep it balanced is to decapitate the ugly head of sectarianism itself. Imagine that, only Lebanese and foreigners, with the latter given an option to naturalize after a while…not in this century eh?

    Posted by Maverick | January 13, 2012, 5:58 pm
  192. Vulacn,
    I wish that you could see my face when I read your response. I was rolling over the floor with laughter. That is a great response. That is why, as Maverick alluded it there is no alternative to secularism.

    Posted by Ghassan Karam | January 13, 2012, 7:19 pm
  193. GK –

    We can at least dream of what Maverick said, but from the way everything looks in here, i am affraid the dream of a stable, non-secterian, democratic, secure Lebanon is just that… a dream… Lebanon is sadly FUBAR

    meantime i will enjoy the few more days of utter chaos before heading back HOME

    Posted by Vulcan | January 13, 2012, 7:42 pm
  194. Yesterday 13 jan 2012 Russia’s Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin said that in his opinion any external interference in Syria’s internal political situation would lead unavoidably to a disaster. I agree. I have a somewhat related comment.

    Until 1945 Syria did not exist as an independent sovereign jurisdiction and the local people in the territory had poor organization among themselves, and only small-scale organization. The State institutions begun in 1945 were subverted in a coup d’etat in 1949, which was the beginning of a series over 15 years of coups, rapidly changing government cabinets, political violence, military dictators, conservative religious traditions clashing with secular modernizing, and political debates confounded by rivalries along ethnic, tribal and provincial lines. Even after the Ba’ath Party took power in 1963 there were unruly and dangerous internal divisions and struggles, up until Hafez Assad gained power in 1970. The Assad regime has been building a nation and a society for the last forty years. We who support the regime want above all that the ongoing building project should be based on the specific foundation that the Assads have created.

    Bashar Assad said on 10 Jan 2012: “We are building a modern state while maintaining our own authenticity and uniqueness…. Syria’s foreign enemies aim to dismantle the cultural identity and character of our people.” The cultural character he’s referring to is the one that’s been developed and nurtured by the regime for forty years.

    As I said once before, the regime acts in tandem with a broader social Establishment. The regime has partly created the Establishment and the Establishment has partly created the regime. The Establishment supports Assad 100% today. Hypothetically if the Assad regime were overthrown, or came under major internal attack, the result would likely be — as we who support the regime imagine it — retrogression to fractiousness, semi-collapse or collapse of the Establishment, weakening of the economy, destruction of valuable parts of the good and great culture that has grown up during the last forty years, and overall disimprovement for almost everybody. Such a hypothetical “if” doesn’t appear to have a realistic chance of happening; and it is very hard to imagine what any society would realistically be like when you begin with an unrealistic hypothetical. Nevertheless, the criteria by which the anti-regime dissidents must be evaluated must be taken from what would follow the regime in the reality if the regime were to be overthrown.

    We who support the regime confidently believe and trust that the regime practically always tells the truth, always acts with conscientiousness for getting verification for the truth, and never deliberately tells lies. The regime does not pretend to tell the whole truth; it tells a more-or-less partisan truth, but truthfully. Meanwhile the dissidents are riddled throughout with gross falsehoods and lies. The honest dissidents can’t get their facts right because they don’t have access to reliable anti-regime information sources. The generality of their sources have no loyalty to verifiability and hence in effect no loyalty to truth. That is a major symptom of the general intellectual weakness of the dissidents. The following is another. Once the legislative and Constitutional changes announced by regime are completed, there will be no major disagreement between regime and the dissidents on the structure of the institutions of the State. On social and economic policies the major disagreements between regime and the dissidents are restricted to sundry wings of the dissidents, not the dissidents as a whole, nor even any bare majority of the dissidents. These sundry wings are known to have only small and slim political support in Syria. The dissidents as a whole, or even any bare majority of the dissidents, do not have a positive alternative policy agenda or forward vision for change, beyond what the Assad regime itself has declared itself in favour of implementing.

    Posted by Parviziyi | January 14, 2012, 6:55 am
  195. Within the past few days a certain advocate against the Syrian regime was formally interviewed on Al-Jazeera TV. This advocate gave as his credentials that he used to work as the director of the media department of the Syrian House of Fatwa, which is the organisation headed by the Syrian Grand Mufti. The Grand Mufti in response on 13 Jan 2012 issued a statement that the man was never employed in any capacity in the House of Fatwa, nor in the Ministry of Religious Endowments, and furthermore the House of Fatwa has no such post as media department director. http://www.sana.sy/eng/337/2012/01/13/394030.htm

    Of course, that liar knew that he’d be quickly and easily outed as a liar. But he also knew that Al-Jazeera very likely wouldn’t be issuing an apology and correction. So he has managed to fool some viewers among Al-Jazeera’s non-Syrian audiences. But he hasn’t fooled the Syrians! Why not? Because the Syrians mostly get their news about Syria from pro-regime news outlets based in Syria. As SANA said on 30 Sep 2011: “Al-Jazeera since the begining of the events has persisted in broastcasting untruths and still does today. But the Syrian people are aware of their lies.” http://www.sana.sy/eng/337/2011/09/30/372492.htm

    PS: Remember the flakey dissident from Algeria, Anwar Malek, who was a member of the Arab League observer mission in Syria, and resigned from it, and then went on Al-Jazeera TV to say he’d seen the regime’s security forces committing “crimes against its people” including torture. The head of the Arab League Observer Mission, Mohammad Al-Dabi, says Anwar Malek is a liar: http://www.sana.sy/eng/337/2012/01/12/393844.htm . The story of his lies has been covered in the news outlets in Syria including on Addounia TV: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mAQB0736O10 . I haven’t taken the time to find out if Al-Jazeera has opted to issue a correction and apology. I wouldn’t be too surprised if Al-Jazeera reports, citing “activists” as its source, that Al-Dabi is the liar. In any case the real people living in Syria know their country and their government better than the likes of Al-Jazeera do, and they who the liars are.

    Posted by Parviziyi | January 14, 2012, 7:27 am
  196. Syria State TV has been regularly airing confessions of armed dissidents. New confessions have been on the TV almost every week for the last six months. Here are some I noted from the last six weeks. The links I give are to the SANA website, which is summarizing the confession that was broadcasted on the television. You can find the videos at Youtube. Some of these confessions are incoherent and hard to believe in some one part or another. That is the nature of the beast. Qifa Nabki at #58 asked: “How do you know that Syrians have decided overwhelmingly that the government is telling the truth?” These confessions are one part of the multi-part answer.

    23 Nov 2011. On Syrian State TV a leader of a group of armed dissidents in Homs confesses to killing security forces. He also confessed that he and his group put on army uniforms and gathered some civilians around them and marched to Kaferlaha’s town square where they made a pronouncement on behalf of the “Free Syrian Army”, which they declared themselves to be part of. He confessed that there were actually no army defectors in the group, only armed civilians. He said that their pronouncement was recorded using cellphones, and the memory cards were given to a man named Munzer Harfoush, and Munzer Harfoush sent the clip to al-Jazeera and al-Arabiya, which then broadcast it as urgent news and replayed it for several days, presenting him and his group as army defectors. “All of that was a lie… we were armed, hooded civilians wearing army uniforms.” sana.sy/eng/337/2011/11/24/383769.htm

    24 Nov 2011. A captured armed dissident in Homs confesses on Syrian State TV to taking part with a terrorist group in attacking law-enforcement members, kidnapping, and killing citizens, and involvement in thefts and blackmail. He also said that he received small payments from an organizer. sana.sy/eng/337/2011/11/25/383907.htm

    30 Nov 2011. A dissident in Homs, in his confessions broadcast on the Syrian State TV, said that he and a group of men went on anti-regime protests carrying military rifles, grenades and RPG launchers. “We were asked to go out to the streets with the pretext of protecting the protesters. Then we would open fire at the security and army checkpoints,” he said, citing by name the checkpoints which they attacked. sana.sy/eng/337/2011/12/01/385323.htm

    2 dec 2011. Dissident confesses on Syrian State TV to fabricating news and contacting foreign media chanels. He said his video equipment was donated by foreigners. sana.sy/eng/337/2011/12/02/385541.htm

    4 dec 2011. Dissident Confesses on Syrian State TV to Fabricating False Events to Defame Army and Security Forces. sana.sy/eng/337/2011/12/04/385842.htm

    8 dec 2011. Four terrorists in Daraa countryside confess on Syrian State TV. sana.sy/eng/337/2011/12/09/387107.htm

    10 dec 2011. In confessions broadcast by Syrian State TV, an armed dissident confesses to opening fire on anti-government protests in Homs city with the aim of accusing the army of doing so. He said that on a Friday in Homs “we opened fire on the protesters, then we hid our weapons and ran into the street shouting that the army is firing at the protest…. The next Friday, we repeated the same scenario again.” sana.sy/eng/337/2011/12/11/387439.htm

    14 dec 2011. In confession on Syrian State TV, a dissident says he was one of a band of men that used AK-47 rifles to shoot at a police checkpoint in Homs city and he received a small amount of money from an organizer for doing so. He also says that he and his associates abducted four women who were on a minibus on the street in Homs city, then drove the minibus to a rural area, then raped the women, then murdered the women, and buried their bodies on the farm where they were murdered. sana.sy/eng/337/2011/12/14/388318.htm

    15 dec 2011. Armed dissident confesses on Syrian State TV. sana.sy/eng/337/2011/12/16/388626.htm

    21 dec 2011. Armed dissident confesses on Syrian State TV. sana.sy/eng/337/2011/12/22/389850.htm

    30 dec 2011. Armed dissident confesses on Syrian State TV. Says he and his group fired shots against demonstrations at al-Zabadani City in Damascus Governorate as to frame accusation on the Army and Security Forces. He said his group fired at a demonstration near al-Jiser Mosque, killing “scores of citizens”. sana.sy/eng/337/2011/12/30/391392.htm

    1 jan 2012. Two dissidents living in Bab Tadmor neighborhood of Homs city confess to carrying weapons and setting up street barricades. sana.sy/eng/337/2012/01/01/391717.htm

    Also:

    30 nov 2011. Citizen from Talkalakh in Homs province, who works as a taxi driver, recounted on Syrian State TV the details of a 14-hour abduction by an armed terrorist group who forced him say before a camera that he participated with ten other persons in dispersing peaceful protesters through the use of weapons handed to them by army personnel. “Among the things I was forced to say in the footage that we had destroyed shops and stolen their contents together with members from Hezbollah,” he added. sana.sy/eng/337/2011/12/01/385323.htm

    4 dec 2011. A husband and wife were walking down the street when they were shot at by three armed dissidents. The wife was killed. The husband testified on Syrian State TV that the dissidents filmed the event, including the body of his wife lying on the street, and that after they had shot her they took out her ID card from her and filmed it. sana.sy/eng/337/2011/12/04/385872.htm

    By the way, here are two I kept from back in September:

    15 Sep 2011: Two captured dissidents confess on Syrian State TV to using shotguns to fire on peacefully protesting dissidents in Rif Damascus to create the illusion that the security forces were firing on the peaceful protesters. http://www.sana.sy/eng/337/2011/09/15/369461.htm
    30 Sep 2011: Two armed dissidents confess on Syrian State TV to opening fire on dissidents in Homs to frame the security forces for it. They also brought a camera to record the scene. http://www.sana.sy/eng/337/2011/09/30/372527.htm

    Posted by Parviziyi | January 14, 2012, 10:26 am
  197. Parviziyi,

    “Syrian State TV” cannot be objective. Until Syria allows outside news services to operate in Syria, I’m afraid only simpletons will believe their news reports.

    Posted by Akbar Palace | January 14, 2012, 4:34 pm
  198. Two questions for you, Parviziyi, in relation to those confessions that you have detailed:

    1. Is torture used by security forces in Syria?
    2. Is Syrian media a public forum in which events, narratives and contending viewpoints can be freely and openly investigated and debated?

    Let me know your answers.

    Posted by Jonathan | January 14, 2012, 5:27 pm
  199. Am I losing my objectivity if I suggest that the future months will see strained FPM-HA relations especially if the Syrian regime falls. HA has its religious roots and its finances that will keep it anchored to Iran but can the FPM survive all of these bets on losing horses? I doubt it. It will be difficult in a political system as highly charged as that in Lebanon to forgive a long series of losing bets. It is true that Iran and Syria have not cracked yet but Syria is close to a meltdown, Iran is practically under seige and Hezbollah is in a quandary. The general has no choice but toi eat crow by spring if not earlier.

    Posted by Ghassan Karam | January 15, 2012, 2:27 am
  200. @ Jonathan: You should read the whole thread above, which you obviously didn’t do. But I’ll repeat from earlier:
    1. Is torture used by security forces in Syria?
    Answer: Torture is totally illegal in Syria. The reason it’s illegal is that the government of Syria and the people of Syria want it to be illegal. The security forces in Syria are the forces of the people, by the people, for the people, and my information is that the security forces conduct their operations with good discipline.

    2. Is Syrian media a public forum in which events, narratives and contending viewpoints can be freely and openly investigated and debated?
    Answer: (A) Allegations of depraved and immoral behaviour cannot be aired in the news media unless supported by very high quality evidence. Instead, such allegations must be brought to the public prosecutors. (B) Advocacy of violent rebellion is illegal. Advocacy of peaceful protest is legal. (C) All matters of public policy can be freely and openly debated in all forums, by law. (D) All Syria-based information media with wide circulation are pro-Establishment and pro-regime and they give very little space to anti-regime dissident viewpoints. The same is true in the Anglophone countries, with the difference that the Anglophone countries have two or more political parties viably competing within one Establishment framework. The Syria media situation is better compared to what’s in many of the republics of the former USSR (also Singapore). There, the framework consists of one Establishment party, the ruling party, whose point of view strongly dominates the country’s mass information media outlets (and the ruling party wins elections by a wide margin), plus the country has sundry anti-Establishment or dissident parties (who don’t agree at all among themselves) who are left relegated to the fringes of the country’s mass information outlets for disseminating their viewpoints. (E) Supplementarily, the people in Syria get political news and information about Syria from outlets that are based in foreign countries. Syrians have uncensored access to the entire Internet. (A small number of websites are nominally banned but it’s easy for anyone to get around the ban if they want to). The percentage of households with an Internet connection is still rather low, but the majority of households have satellite TV access to innumerable Arabic-language TV stations based outside Syria. Until the foreign news media will decide to commit themselves to objectivity and totally cut out their bigotry, anyone who believes their reports is a fool. (E.g., Ghassan Karam is a fool). The people of Syria have proved themselves to be not fools — hooray! (F) The Syrian law and the basic legal principles for regulating the mass information outlets were modified this past year as part of the comprehensive reform program. I gave a link to the new law earlier.

    Posted by Parviziyi | January 15, 2012, 4:27 am

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