Monday, May 21, 2007

To Those Who Accuse "Syria" - Who Are Fatah Al-Islam?

Far be it from me to defend a regime which, I believe, should go, but the accusations already thrown at "Syria" (meaning the Syrian regime, I suppose) call for a reminder that while fighting for a cause - democracy in Syria, in that case - we should keep in mind that not every accusation can be used in support of that cause. Unfounded finger-pointing is not only counterproductive, it is morally unacceptable.

I re-read Seymour Hersh's "The Redirection", published on 5 March in the New Yorker:
Here's an excerpt from it which should be sobering:

Alastair Crooke, who spent nearly thirty years in MI6, the British intelligence service, and now works for Conflicts Forum, a think tank in Beirut, told me, “The Lebanese government is opening space for these people to come in. It could be very dangerous.” Crooke said that one Sunni extremist group, Fatah al-Islam, had splintered from its pro-Syrian parent group, Fatah al-Intifada, in the Nahr al-Bared refugee camp, in northern Lebanon. Its membership at the time was less than two hundred. “I was told that within twenty-four hours they were being offered weapons and money by people presenting themselves as representatives of the Lebanese government’s interests—presumably to take on Hezbollah,” Crooke said.

The largest of the groups, Asbat al-Ansar, is situated in the Ain al-Hilweh Palestinian refugee camp. Asbat al-Ansar has received arms and supplies from Lebanese internal-security forces and militias associated with the Siniora government.

In 2005, according to a report by the U.S.-based International Crisis Group, Saad Hariri, the Sunni majority leader of the Lebanese parliament and the son of the slain former Prime Minister—Saad inherited more than four billion dollars after his father’s assassination—paid forty-eight thousand dollars in bail for four members of an Islamic militant group from Dinniyeh. The men had been arrested while trying to establish an Islamic mini-state in northern Lebanon. The Crisis Group noted that many of the militants “had trained in al-Qaeda camps in Afghanistan.”

According to the Crisis Group report, Saad Hariri later used his parliamentary majority to obtain amnesty for twenty-two of the Dinniyeh Islamists, as well as for seven militants suspected of plotting to bomb the Italian and Ukrainian embassies in Beirut, the previous year. (He also arranged a pardon for Samir Geagea, a Maronite Christian militia leader, who had been convicted of four political murders, including the assassination, in 1987, of Prime Minister Rashid Karami.) Hariri described his actions to reporters as humanitarian.

In an interview in Beirut, a senior official in the Siniora government acknowledged that there were Sunni jihadists operating inside Lebanon. “We have a liberal attitude that allows Al Qaeda types to have a presence here,” he said. He related this to concerns that Iran or Syria might decide to turn Lebanon into a “theatre of conflict.”

Saturday, May 19, 2007

Should Syrian Women Vote?!!!

I just read this interesting article:

Here is the situation as I understand it:
  • You are a Syrian woman.
  • Your husband is a foreigner.
  • You have children.
As a result:
  • Your children are not considered Syrian by the Powers that be. Some Syrian law says so (but not the Syrian constitution which bans such discrimination.)
  • Your children will need a visa whenever you decide to go back to Syria to see the family.
Isn't that strage? The law considers you a second class citizen, but you will still be encouraged, not to say required, to vote for the only candidate out there. He had seven full years to restore some dignity to you but did not do so.

Should you vote?
No one but you can answer.

Arméniens - Portrait d'un peuple

Hratch Arbach, jeune artiste syrien d'origine arménienne, mélange peinture, photograhie, installations et jeu d'acteur dans un parcours qui raconte l'Arménie sans discours et sans prétention.

De passage à Paris récemment, j'ai pu moi-même me rendre compte comment cette exposition qui défie la catégorisation atteint
nos sentiments tout droit.

Si vous êtes à Paris avant le 26 mai, une simple recommandation: allez-y !

Pour en savoir plus, cliquez sur l'affiche.

Remarque : C'était une publicité gratuite, et j'en ferai d'autres dans l'avenir. Quand une oeuvre ou une manifestation artistique nous touche, pourquoi ne pas en parler ?

Monday, May 14, 2007

The US Military Copies the Syrian Regime

All of us who thought that the Syrian regime was "backwardly" should recognise that it is in fact far ahead of its time. Its qualities and methods are recognised by none other than the US Department of Defense!

Just read this: "Military puts MySpace, other sites off limits".

One day, they will even learn the verb
حجب , i.e. "to veil" or "to screen off". The English language is so poor that it has to struggle with no less than four words - "to put off limits" - to express this ultimate Baathist cyberconcept.

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

What the Hell is That?!!!

Yes, do click on the picture to see the damage more in detail:

- A beautiful, unique house is collapsing.
- Wires all over the place.
- Utter neglect.

While the Municipality of the City of Damascus and the Ministy of Culture were taking a leave from their responsibilities by approving what came to be known as the King Faisal Street Project (or the KFSP), the city itself kept rotting more each day.

The KFSP seems to be halted for the moment. Isn't it time for the Municipality, the Ministry and "Maktab Anbar" to suggest a plan to save the old city instead of building malls in the air for imaginary tourists and investors?

For the record, I took this picture in January 2007. This house is in the "Street Called Straight". I don't know to whom it belonged or belongs and what is going to become of it. What I do know, however, is that it should be renovated.

What can we do? Any suggestions?

More pictures of damage soon. I look forward to being able to post pictures of houses in a better shape..