Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Readers' Comments

Here are a few notes from readers:

Dear mr. Landis

I came to your site by chance when I was searching the web on issues concerning my country, Syria.

I would like to say that I became a permanent reader of the articles and analysis you and your fellow researchers on the Syrian matter are producing, and i am learning a lot from these discussions.

i read the interview of razan zeitouneh with joe pace and i can agree with most of it.

We ,as normal citizens, even the educated ones, are afraid of discussing openly our internal crisis, afraid of sending our views to the few sites that discuss syrian problems. I myself thought twice before sending this note as it might looked at as correspondence with foreign forces that wants to harm our country.

We do not have any possible way to get in touch with what you called opposition parties, we only see some of them on some Arab satalite stations such as "the democracy" and sometime al-Jazeera, and we, who use internet, are able to read some of their written articles from time to time.

The syrian people in its majority dream of a democratic country where human right is respected, where free and true elections are made, we do not see the opportunity to materialize such dream due to the refusal of the authority to change and the international political atmosphere where the interests of the large powers are more important that human rights and freedom ,we are not looking for that kind of freedom and democracy provided to iraq so far, but at least we will continue to dream , it`s our "syrian dream ".
sorry for my english, regards.
Dear Mr. landis

Events and probably personal circumstances have prevented us from meeting. You will however allow me to share with you some subjective and objective thoughts about our present and future based on my deep attachment to our levantine culture which is by nature alien to any form of fanaticism.

Let us go beyond the main subject of the day, i.e. the assassination of PM Hariri and all that ensued so far and all that may come, and ask ourselves three questions: what are we, people of the Near-East (mainly Lebanon, Syria and Irak), what do we want in terms of political status and what can we reasonably hope to achieve? In other words, supposing it were at all possible to conduct a global survey of all inhabitants (classified by country, ethny, religion and sect) of these countries about these issues putting to them the first two questions only, what results might we obtain?

Let us first analyse the populations of these three countries: we have sunnis, chiites, druzes, alawites, ismailis, yazidis and other islamic sects, maronites and various catholic sects and greek orthodox along with other independant syriac churches not forgetting a few remaining jews. Parallel to this there are arabs, kurds, turcomans, armenians, and other minor groups. You also have a non-negligible entity who define themselves more by their national identity (lebanese, syrian, palestinian, arab) than by the other parameters, some by their tribe while the few internationalists (communists, syrian nationalists) have now become museum material.

Let us suppose that one and only one answer was allowed to the identity question: what are you? (The answer : muslim+arabi+sunni for example being forbidden), can we try to imagine these answers?

I do not think it would be very difficult: the vast majority of muslims, christians and their scions would choose to be classified as such, the kurds, the turcomans and the armenians by their ethnic identity and a few romantic laymen by their nationality (Lebanese, Syrian, Iraki or even Arab). The jews have put this question to themselves for centuries and they finally got Israel, albeit a bitterly contested achievement!

To the question: what do you want, you will have to propose a series of answers such as:
To live within the boundaries of your present country?
If yes under what political system?
If no what is your vision of a country?
How do you see your relationship with your co-nationals of different religion or ethnicity?
You can tell from the very wide array of mostly incompatible answers to these apparently simple questions that a stable, permanent and democratic solution is practically impossible to achieve in our region for the time being and in the foreseeable future (at least in the present configuration of nation-states) and the best living example of this unfortunate conclusion is Irak. What then? With Syria threatening to follow suit to its eastern neighbour and Lebanon painfully and unconvincingly striving to repeat its failed democratic experience people like me are at a loss about their fate.

As a metaphor I would say that we can very well and very scholarly diagnose our diseases but, short of temporary and painful remedies worse than the disease such as grossly corrupt (sometime mad) tyranny, civil strife or war, there is alas no lasting cure: Israel is proposing its example of a supposedly successful mono-ethnic entity in the Middle-East but at what price! And who can tell that internecine struggle deeply rooted in jewish history does not expect the israelis about the many issues of contention their society have to face? The murder of PM Rabin and the outrage at the democratically decided Gaza pull-out were but some of the undeniable signs of ideological divisions within this so-called model of unity. Will Israel withstand the test of peace?

Where do we go from there? I frankly do not know except that my only two sons live one in France and the other in the USA ( many of my friends suffer similar situations) and that I have no real say in the sort of environment I would like to live in (this is practically everyone's condition in our dear Near-East with the notable exception of Israel ). We (I include Syria) might have missed opportunities in the past (i.e. during the French Mandate to build a viable federation with Syria, another one through a union engineered by a syrian leader less ideologic, more pragmatic and communicative than Hafiz el Assad) . Is it too late and are we inexorably heading towards the sectarian fragmentations wished by the promoters of the "constructive instability"?

Presently my republican education is being daily aggressed while the humanist culture I am grateful and proud to have received is being subjected to a war of attrition by the fanatics of this world who, basing themselves on the allegation that a three-faced god revealed himself here and only here out of the whole universe, chose this part of the planet as their battlefield.

Meanwhile I continue to love this part of the planet despite its shortcomings and I know you do too. I hope I did not bore you with my divergations.
Best regards.

Turkey has dropped Asad:

According to news and rumors in Ankara, Mr. Bashar ASSAD has tried to have an appointment from Turkish PM while planning to go to UN Conference in NY. And Turkish diplomatic sources say, Turkey has received strong signals from Washington not to give a chance Syrian leader to get a head-to-head talk with Turkish PM. If all these rumors could be accepted reliable, all we can see in the near future is “a dramatic shift in Turkish policy toward Syrian leader”. As you well recall that Turkish PM has supported Mr.ASSAD personaly and has invited the Syrian leader and his wife to Turkey for holiday last summer. But suddenly the visit of Syrian couple to Turkish Rivieara had called off. And again there was rumor in Ankara that Washington urged Turkey to cancel this invitation. Last note for Turkish PM’s rendezvous in NY last week: PM ERDOGAN met only Refiq HARIRI’s son Saad HARIRI instead of these country’s President LAHOUD.

Given all these developments, we can surely say that Turkey has shifted its policy toward Damascus and has sided its policy through Washington. And it is undoubtley clear that the National Security Advisor Stephen HADLEY must have urged Turkey about Syria. It should be keep in mind that Mr.HADLEY’s fisrt overseas trip was Turkey.

Damascus is probably loosening one of its strongest supporters in the region and it seems that Syria has only Iran left as an ally.

Hacettepe Univ, Turkey

Fed Up: Bring them to Account
Dear Mr landis,
As an avid reader of your website, I must first say that i find it balanced and insightfull even if i disagree with you on a lot of issues. Firstly im curious , do you not face any sort of pressure from the syrian government? is the fact that you publish in english mean that your limited reach in syria spares you the government's wrath?

Anyway, I must say you seem to take a lavishly positive view on the regime's
so-called reform program. I think it is time to face the fact that their is no such a thing, for this would require the regime to accept that syria is in a mess economicaly politically socially etc.. (Bashar al assad prefers to call it a renewal rather than reform process).

Let us take the mobile network for example, licensing both networks to Rami Makhlouf with no competing bids and then jailing Riad al-Seif for bringing it up seems like governemnt encouraged and protected corruption more than anything else.

the same with the first private school (choeifat owned by makhlouf) or the duty free (same thing) or the embarrassing banning of mercedez simply because he coudnt get his hands on the dealership....

Which leaves us with one of two things , either bashar is a very weak leader in which case he shoudnt be in power , or more likely that he actually doesnt mind these things.

The syrian people are sick and tired of 30 years of this regime , i come from a minority that abhors the muslim brotherhood, and i would propably live with a quasi democracy like in Jordan or Morrocco over them winning power democraticely, but for the situation to continue as it is is not an option.

Enough torture enough corruption enough holding back and destroying the enormous potential that is syria and enough rule by the assad family ...

p.s. aref dalila is entering his 4th year in jail , if you believe a regime which would leave a 67 year old renowned economist to die in prison for speaking out on corruption as a regime looking to reform then trully you are blind...

and i must say that i cant wait till the syrian regime is implicated in the death of harriri finally they will be brought to account for something...


At 10/04/2005 09:46:00 AM, Blogger adonis syria said...

This post has been removed by a blog administrator.

At 10/04/2005 09:49:00 AM, Blogger adonis syria said...

This post has been removed by a blog administrator.

At 10/04/2005 10:02:00 AM, Blogger BP said...

Mofaz: U.S. pressure on Syria could topple Assad regime

By Haaretz Service

Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz said on Tuesday that U.S pressure on Damascus may bring about a dramatic change in Syrian government.

In an interview to Israel Radio, Mofaz said that Syria's involvement in the assassination of former Lebanon president, Rafik Hariri, and its support of Iraqi insurgents operating from within its territory, will bring about U.S actions that may overthrow Bashar Assad's regime.

"I won't be surprised if Syria gets a red-card [by the U.S.]," Mofaz said, using a metaphor taken from soccer terminology. "[The U.S.] will take actions against Syria, beginning with economic sanctions and moving on to others, that will make it clear to the Syrians that their policies do not comply with U.N decisions, the U.S.'s new world order or the prohibition of sovereign state's to support terrorism."

At 10/04/2005 10:02:00 AM, Blogger Syrian Republican Party said...

Oh thanks Josh for throwing some Chow Bones our way. Or do you know something we don't that made you make this U turn?

Metaz K.M. Aldendeshe

At 10/04/2005 10:35:00 AM, Blogger Anton Efendi said...

The gentleman who wrote about identities and such, has a lot of serious problems and cliches in his assessment that conveniently amount to the ostrich attitude that I've talked about and that Lee Smith criticized in his WS piece.

As for identities, here's an example from Lebanon. It's important not to be stuck with cliches.


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