Thursday, December 29, 2005

Dear All,

I have been busy helping my sister who has recently returned from Iraq. It was hectic trying to settle her and the kids again after she and her Iraqi husband H left everything behind them in Baghdad. Now they need to start a fresh life. Her husband who survived the Iran-Iraq war ran away during the invasion of Kuwait in 1991. Following years of hardship in foreign lands he decided about 10 years later to take his chance and return voluntarily home because he was fed up of being constantly on the run. H was hoping for a presidential pardon but instead he was court marshaled as a deserter and sentenced to seven years of prison by Saddam’s men . Once in prison, a similarity in names between a wanted political dissident served to send him -a soft spoken professor of music- to the torture chamber and places which make Abu Ghraib seem benign in comparison

My sister spent a harrowing time trying to find him and prove to the authorities that he was only an army deserter not a political dissident plotting Saddam’s downfall. Her tales of journeying from one government official to another and from building to another and from one known prison to another would break your heart. She did not disappear simply because she was not Iraqi and had made her presence known at the Syrian embassy in Baghdad. My sister tasted hunger, fear and humiliation. She felt the bitter cold and the searing heat, She gave birth in unhygienic circumstances and her baby boy is a living testament to God’s will. When she recounted those episodes to me, I felt like I had stepped into a movie scene or a novel. Those things could not happen in this day and age. Or could they ?

She has aged beyond her years and her one time red hair is now mostly grey. Her sparkling eyes seem whitewashed to me from crying and I am left wondering how long she would need to recover. I will not recount how she got her husband out of that tight spot because that would jeopardize many people’s lives and anonymity especially with occupied Iraq and despite Saddam no longer being boss. But I will say one thing that she managed to clear his name and he was brought to prison where he could be visited at least, and serve his desertion sentence. In October 2002 , he was set free along with about 10 000 others through a Presidential amnesty.

By then it was the countdown to the invasion of Iraq, the tales of the UN inspectors and the famous WMD ( which incidentally have not materialized).

Still the family struggled to make a life in these circumstances, what can a music composer, or teacher do ? He took to singing at weddings. Better than starve right ? It was kind of ok. But this respite was short lived the day a US bomb was dropped on their home and the roof collapsed missing the baby’s crib by a fraction. There was no home left, no belonging and no weddings to sing at , who wanted to hire a band under the B52 sorties ?

Under those circumstances my sister could not stand the constant nerve wracking especially after the fall of Baghdad and she asked him to return to Syria . Their journey to Damascus is an epic. Suffice it to say that leaving Iraq has left them penniless, and with an elder son who walks on crutches, while the youngest son thinks that tea is milk. I felt that blogging throughout the past six months was silly and petty compared to what they have been through. However, I owed an apology to whoever is still reading this blog and hence the explanation.

On another note, the current situation with the fingers increasingly being pointed at Syria leaves me in an unenviable space. Both Lebanon and Syria are mine and I can’t think of one without the other. I will attempt to be balanced and fair but I’m not sure Lebanon remembers all those Syrian young men who died to let it keep its democracy.

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Syrian-Lebanese border woes

Mr. Abdul Rahman al-Rashed of Ashaq-al -Awsat newspaper and also General Manager of Al-Arabiya TV , has spearheaded some 'anti-Syria' rhetoric. So when Syria - which has left Lebanon after popular demonstration in Beirut and International pressure ( and rightly so anyway as I said in an earlier post it is about bloody time they did) - has started to implement tougher stances on its borders and sovereign waters, since Lebanon is a 'liberated' country now, Al-Rashed has suddenly changed his tune, and states 'Syrian behaviour is appropriate' .

In this article full of hardly hidden venom, he can only agree that Syria has the right to regulate its borders and to request from Lebanese fishermen not to fish without permission from its waters. Well why not would I ask ? The special relationship is over, let Lebanon solve its own problems especially that now it is within the range of interest of US, Israel and the West again. I expect they will give it more loans to do something about that huge deficit run by none-other than dear 'martyr' Hariri. As much as I deplore this guy's death we Lebanese know who and what he was exactly. Being half Lebanese myself gives me full right to criticize both my countries . Message to my Lebanese brothers , sovereignty runs on both sides !

Al-Rashed in his own words says :
"It may even benefit both parties to go through a period of a freeze in relations so the governments in Beirut and Damascus can analyze the leverage they possess and understand the importance of their neighbor. Bad neighborly relations can therefore be helpful in the sense that each party could reform itself without pressure from the other. The question remains as to who will pay the price in the upcoming weeks and months?
The Lebanese will need to swallow their pride and their fruits whilst patiently awaiting a resolution to the current crisis. Until relations are normalized, I advise Arab tourist and Lebanese visitors to avoid traveling to Lebanon by car, given that Damascus might shut its borders on their way back and they might have to sell the car for scrap by the end of the summer. "

Al-Rashed 's tone both in the Arabic version here and the badly edited/translated English version ( note to Asharq -al Awsat please do something about bad English as foreigners do read our media) above mentioned seems to suggest though that he is coming to this conclusion reluctantly.

Saturday, June 04, 2005


That is not the most brilliant idea, but somehow I wish it landed somewhere else....

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

Syria severs military cooperation with U.S. ( courtesy of Yahoo news)

Could not resist posting this article (not just the link ):

[Syria has severed military and intelligence cooperation with the United States, its ambassador to Washington told The New York Times in an interview published on its Web site on Monday.
The ambassador, Imad Moustapha, told the newspaper in an interview given last Friday at the Syrian Embassy in Washington, that his country had, in the last 10 days, "severed all links" with the U.S. military and Central Intelligence Agency because of what he called unjust American allegations.
Moustapha said he believed the Bush administration had decided "to escalate the situation with Syria" despite steps the Syrians have taken against insurgents in Iraq, and despite the recent withdrawal of Syrian troops from Lebanon, in response to international demands.
"We thought, why should we continue to cooperate?" he said.
The comments were in response to Bush administration complaints that Syria was not doing enough to halt the flow of men and money to the insurgency in Iraq.]

What do you mean not doing enough habibi ? has the US been able to do enough to stop drug smuggling on it own borders with Mexico ? and what are the US servicemen doing on the Iraq-Syria border? come on you occupy a country so please protect its borders man! I'm sure there is a complicity here or they are turning a blind eye ..can't be all the fault of Syria.

[Moustapha said his government had done all it could to respond to American complaints, including taking steps to build barriers and add to border patrols.
Relations between Syria and the United States have been strained for months, and some Bush administration officials said Syria's level of cooperation had been dwindling even before the latest move to halt cooperation.
Bush administration officials said Syria's stance has prompted intense debate at high levels in the administration about new steps that might be taken against the Syrian government, The Times reported.]

Of course they won't get their tips on 'alleged ' terrorists anymore.

[The officials said options included possible military, diplomatic or economic action. But senior Pentagon and military officials cautioned Monday that if any military action was ordered, it was likely to be limited, the report said.]

What else is new ? you keep proving that all you want is to kill Arabs

["There's a lot of discussion about what to do about Syria and what a problem it is," the administration official, who works for an agency involved in the debate, told The Times. ]

Looking for an excuse to invade I guess? they could not get at Iran and North Korea because both have some kind of nuclear deterrent at least !

Did not think they would stoop so low , but that's politics I guess. Regardless of how the Syrian regime is treating its people, no one wishes to be 'punished' by America.

Wednesday, May 11, 2005

The power of news titles

Don't know how these journalists come up with such powerful titles evoking all this imagery
for example just read this : Marines Push Toward Iraq's Syrian Border

very interesting read the whole article , I found this sentence particularly telling

"Gunmen kidnapped Anbar's governor Tuesday morning and told his family he would be released only when U.S. forces withdrew from Qaim [...] Lt. Col. Steven Boylan, a spokesman for U.S. forces in Iraq, said: "We don't respond to insurgent or terrorist demands"

My comment : of course they don't ( stupid) the hostage is not American his life does not count ..collateral damage .

Sunday, May 08, 2005

Syria is a threat to the US says Bush

'Bush extended a ban on Thursday on certain U.S. imports to Syria and other sanctions imposed last May. He said the Arab country was a threat to the United States.' I still can't figure how what kind of threat we are to the US. I thought North Korea was more of threat ..Well we don't have the economy, the arms or the power to be a threat ..come on Bush ...this is tooooooo much, You're giving people like me a superpower status all of a sudden !

Monday, April 04, 2005

The New World Order & The National Security Strategy marching on

It looks like President Bush and the group holding the US reigns of power will be getting their wish of yet another card falling in the Middle East and yet another 'liberation' success story.

After the 'Purple Revolution' and the 'Cedar Revolution' , we will have the " Syrian Spring PART II" keep watching it promises to be interesting. Look at who has been enouraged to rear its head, none other that our dear Islamists . Whenever dear freedom- loving America meddles these people get in power or am making the wrong conclusions ?

I am going to copy paste a comment for Karfan & friend blog on his most recent post Myth no. 7. Sorry if I'm unwittingly breaking any copyright laws , but I thought this piece of writing was pure genius.

"The biggest danger in the world today is the unchecked power of the US. The extent of this danger will appear when the US economy will start lagging behind (and it will as all economies have ups & downs). President Bush has started an inevitable trend that will only get worse as long as the US power is unchallanged. So expect more redness of neck in the next few decades as America's self interest will show its ugly head.The second biggest danger to the world is the vulnarability of prosperous liberal democracies to terrorism. Bin Laden is again the begining of a trend that will be more sophisticated with time and will not be limited to Islamic radicals.What adds water to the mud is the merging of interest between the terrorists and the rednecks, both using each other as an excuse to escalate of conflict.So what does this have to with Syria? Well, we live a similar situation where the regime is too powerful to be challanged and the only contender being a radical muslim revolution. As the regime discovers that really can do what it wants it gets more and more corrupt. While at the same time it justifies its actions as a protector of society against the Islamic invasion. Radical muslims on the other hand use regime actions as their recruitement platform.In order to break this pattern we need to deal with these dangers as 2 enemies of freedom and democracy rather than deciding which side we lie on. We have to define a 3rd way. We dont want Coke, we dont want Pepsi, we want 7UP.Sounds like we are doomed :) "

I believe it echos what Big Pharaoh ( see post Bye America Hello Israel dated April 3rd &Muslim Brotherhood flexes muscles 27th March) in which he basically says that he doesn't want Mubarak removed because that will destabilise the country , Egyptiansandmonkey also thinks the same here. Also Liminal from Shlonkom Bakazay has blogged along the same idea more or less in his aptly named 'Enough of the Axis of Hypocrisy!'

So my question is why the White House is trying to prevent Arabs from keeping or getting rid of their presidents or whatever under such a time as is favourable? Is it because some 'leaders' are more stooges and puppets that others ? or is the puppeteer fed up with them and wants another more suitable puppet and to hell with the safety of our countries (viz. Iraq ). We demand to make our own choices !

Friday, March 18, 2005

A big welcome back to our troops

Never followed up from the earlier post you're thinking she's not serious ? No I've been pretty busy and life has been 'slightly' hectic in Syria lately. So much is happening too quickly. The most important is that finally our troops are returning from Lebanon. Most of us here are elated about this, because serving in Lebanon was like a punishment, our men could not get days off to go home and the circumstances were not that fantastic really it was not cakewalk being there ( I should know I'm half Lebanese) .These last few days you cannot imagine the joy of Syrian families not having to worry about their 18 year kids anymore, many are celebrating. The military service here is compulsory so no getting away from it unless you are still studying or have some kind of illness or handicap.

Here are a couple of photos of our returning men, they've done a great job and thousands died for Lebanon. I'd like to propose a toast : here's to the hope that no more of our kids would get killed instead of Lebanese men. I hope that now Lebanon can take care of itself on its own!
.....:)) enjoy while I go and have sweets and great my dear cousin !

nice crowd

Roses for the heroes

Welcome back boys

yes we're home:)

Friday, March 11, 2005

First post

Lurking for years on other blogs, becoming addicted, I've decided to have my own now. I would like to add my voice to the world. You want to hear about Syria? Well get the news from it's residents and not foreigners who have never set a foot here.
Enjoy your visit.