Thursday, December 22, 2005

"Stand Up, Sit Down, Shut Up," Reviewed by Biedermann

Ferry Biedermann of the FT has an interesting review of the new nationalist play now on in Damascus. I will be posting again soon. I am now in NYC visiting friends and will be back in DC soon to spend the holidays with my brothers and parents and Manar's aunt and cousins who will all be there.

I spoke at the Stimpson Foundation with David Ignatius about Syria the other day and a good cross-section of the floura and fauna of interested DC turned up. Emile el-Hokayem organized it and Ellen Laipson, the director moderated. It was fun. I spoke about the Lebanon-Syria relationship and the personal contest between the Hariri-Junblat-Khaddam-Kanaan group and President Asad's family and allies since 2000.

David Ignatius of the Post spoke about how Syria is not "ripe" for dramatic change and how the US will have to develop a more nuanced strategy over the next years in order to encourage reform. (Here is the article by Biedermann.)


Syrian play fires nationalist passions
By Ferry Biedermann in Damascus
Published: December 22 2005 02:00 | Last updated: December 22 2005 02:00

But is it art? Stand Up, Sit Down, Shut Up, a play now on a triumphant run in downtown Damascus, is all about stoking the fires of Syrian nationalism.


For a finale the actors trot on to the stage carrying the country's flag and, with hands on their hearts, burst into the national anthem, topping off a two-hour tirade against Syria's perceived enemies.

"We are trying to deploy art for national unity," explains Zuheir Abdul Karim, the play's director and main actor, from the stage of the rickety Ramita theatre, where he has counted President Bashar al-Assad and his wife Asma among the audience.

The director says he mounted the play to help counter what he calls "external conspiracies and pressures" against his country. Syrians are keenly aware of such external pressures these days.

The United Nations investigation into the murder of Rafiq Hariri, former Lebanese prime minister, was last week extended for at least another six months. The outgoing chief investigator, Detlev Mehlis, has for the first time openly said he thinks Syrian authorities are behind the killing and the Security Council is demanding full Syrian co-operation in the probe.

In the tradition of the ruling Ba'ath party, the government has reacted by closing ranks and mobilising the people with a mix of nationalist slogans, pan-Arab clichés and broadsides against designated external enemies - among whom they count their Lebanese neighbours and, of course, Mr Mehlis.

For good measure, internal dissent is also being stifled. In recent months dissidents have met increasing intimidation and, in at least one case, have been arrested. Portraits of the president have reappeared along highways and on buildings, an echo of the days of his father, Hafez al-Assad, who was omnipresent.

Posters parrot a defiant excerpt from a recent speech: "Syria will not bend. We only bend for God."

"Your report does not amount to one penny, oh Mehlis," goes a line in a song in the play.

And in the performance Mr Abdul Karim's character claims that the Mehlis report to the UN is "politicised and written a year ago" as part of a campaign against Syria, driven by the US and its ally, Israel. Some Syrian intellectuals say they abhor the play and what it stands for. "First of all, it is a bad play. It is propaganda that uses the lowest forms of popular entertainment," says dissident writer Yassin Haj Saleh, who describes it as part of a campaign to rally the people behind the government.

The real vitriol in this campaign is often reserved for the Lebanese, who are variously portrayed as ungrateful, traitorous, craven and licentious.

After Hariri's murder in February the Lebanese took to the streets to demand an end to Syrian control over their country. In May the Syrians withdrew their troops, after a military presence of nearly 30 years.

"It came as a complete surprise to us," says Mr Abdul Karim, who maintains the play reflects popular sentiment in Syria that the Lebanese are attacking his country. "We name the people who are insulting us."

The names include Fouad Siniora, Lebanon's prime minister who has already been called a "slave of a slave" by President Assad, and Druze leader Walid Jumblatt.

One politician no longer named is Gebran Tueni, a member of parliament and prominent journalist, who was killed this month together with three others when his car was blown up by a roadside bomb in a suburb of Beirut. He was the fifth anti-Syrian figure to be assassinated since the murder of Hariri and the third to die in such an attack.

"Gebran Tueni, oh no, [he is not named] any more because he is dead," says Mr Abdul Karim.

Mr Haj Saleh, the dissident writer, says the play is "not innocent" even though Mr Abdul Karim denies it amounts to incitement.

"It is comedy, the people laugh. The president really enjoyed it," the director asserts.

One of the theatregoers, a young pharmacist, said he was aware of all the trouble the country was in. "It is good to be able to laugh at it, for once." But an older woman said she knew very little about politics. "I just came because I heard the president and his wife also saw it."

Mr Abdul Karim echoes her view.

"We are theatre people, we don't engage in politics. We just believe what [President] al-Assad tells us."

130 Comments:

At 12/22/2005 07:37:00 PM, Blogger Leila said...

I'm sorry to see you leave Syria, actually. It's been a cool year with you reporting from front row seats. And what a difference a year makes - last year you were some obscure history professor from Oklahoma, and this year you're well-known on the internet. Congrats.

 
At 12/23/2005 12:26:00 AM, Blogger Ghassan said...

Welcome back Josh! Look forward to your posts under no pressure from the Syrian regime.

 
At 12/23/2005 12:32:00 AM, Blogger ThePolemicist said...

Welcome back to the US. FYI, it's the Stimson Center, not the "Stimpson Foundation." We'll just blame it on the jetlag.

 
At 12/23/2005 03:18:00 AM, Blogger Ausamaa said...

Nice to see you back Josh, and we will be looking forward to your "unbiased" and "free" opinion now that you are away and safe and "under no pressure" from the Syrian "regime" as one post wished !!!

As to FT article, my only comment is : did anyone expect Syria to roll over and play dead?? Of course the government will utelise all the tools to have the people behind it in this confrontation.

An interesting message from the Syrian media came on Thursday: "Syria will NOT stand by silent in the face of the attacks by certain voices", meaning the Lebanese politicians and the associated media channels.It looks as if Syria has regained balance and decided to actively promote its case and discridit local oppononts.

Wonder what that means in this new chapter where the tide seems to have changed for the opportunistic, naive and amateure Harriri-Junblat group?

Anyway, it seems that a new era is downing on the whole "confront Syria" issue. We will see.

 
At 12/23/2005 03:58:00 AM, Blogger Innocent_Criminal said...

So many here love conspiracy theories. and think that josh was under pressure to write in a certain tone. i on the other hand, believe they were his own words and were unbiased and free. but i guess time will prove one of us right. except if we start hearing the "you are getting paid" crap that we hear on some lebanese blogs.

 
At 12/23/2005 05:27:00 AM, Blogger raf* said...

dear josh,

the article by ferry biederman is sadly rather bad on a number of accounts:

1 - there is much more to the play than mere "foreigner bashing". it is based on the original script of a play very critical of the internal syrian/arab situation, one that doesn't pull no punches in laying the responsibility (& thus blame) squarely on the steps of the syrian intellectuals. the whole anti-mehlis/lebanon/etc. part was added. i kind of wonder if ms. biedermann has actually seen it herself.

2 - her "local color sources" give off the impression that ms. biedermann doesn't know too many people in damascus. given how many damascenes have seen the play & how much it is the talk of the town, i would've expected a deeper discussion of the play's reception and how it mirrors the current mood - staunch defense against any & all (perceived) threats from the outside, yet scathing criticism of the regime & its zu'amaa on the inside.

3 - ms. biedermann seems to not have been to syria in the 80s, 90s, or even the early 21st century: one of the first, obvious impressions the visitor of today gets is that (compared to the situation a few years, or even months ago) there are next to no pictures of the president around, but the city (and, YES, the highways & bridges as well) are plastered with FLAGS, and posters of the syrian flag with such non-ba'thii and non-assadi slogans like "may god protect you, oh damascus" (hamiik allah ya al-sham).

what the syrian regime's p.r. machine has managed to pull off is no less than the shift from personality cult to patriotism. and it works. even my most critical friends in damascus are happy to sign on to the flag, saying "finally, the country is no longer represented by a person, but by its rightful symbol, the national flag."

ferry biedermann has written much, much better pieces in/from/about iraq (in www.salon.com, for example). this one looks as if in syria she'd just stepped off the boat.

dear josh - what did YOU think of the play? i assume you've seen it, no?

cheers,

--raf*

www.aqoul.com

 
At 12/23/2005 09:19:00 AM, Blogger O.D.M said...

Welcome back to the States Proff. Landis.

I hope we can sit down and have coffee when you are in Washington D.C, where I live.

I have a question to you and other readers, how can I find out what is happening in D.C that involves Syria? Like public engagements, seminars and events (like think tank ones). If you know any happening during the coming months, please let me know.

 
At 12/23/2005 11:03:00 AM, Blogger Ausamaa said...

This post has been removed by a blog administrator.

 
At 12/23/2005 11:19:00 AM, Blogger Ausamaa said...

to O.D.M. regarding events in DC...

What the heck you want to attend those for? You will have fits no matter what your political leanings are..

You are better off sticking to the internet sites; SCIS, counterpunch, tompaine,earlywarning, the truthseeker AND espicially the Washington Instite and Across the Bay if you have stomach for royally biased crap.

Incidently, has anyone noticed how silent, or rather mute,the Israeli press has been over the whole course of events in Lebanon since just before the assasination of the late Harriri??? Both about the assisinations and about the events that followed. None of the serious "usual" intelligence leaks, no analysis, virtyually no nothing. Not habitual of someone who takes anything happening in the area as a "personal matter". And I do not believe this is out of respect to a previously stated US wish that Israel stays away from this. Because there is always ISRAEL and then there is the Israeli PRESS who never see eye to eye except when it gets down to serious military and security issues. Just a thought!

On a final note, and to be frank with you, stick with Josh's site and let him do the sorting for you. He has shown himself to informed, balanced and most important of all, he has both a "feel" and "feelings" for the subject he deals with....

 
At 12/23/2005 12:04:00 PM, Blogger hummbumm said...

How nice that Tueni is no longer named now that he is dead. I guess if Jumblatt is killed or Saniora, then those names will be omitted. Funny how I don't see the humour, but i guess if you are safe in damascus rather than being picked off in Beirut, it's a lot funnier...

 
At 12/24/2005 11:27:00 AM, Blogger Joseph ALi Mohammed said...

((((((((((((((((( ." But an older woman said she knew very little about politics. "I just came because I heard the president and his wife also saw it."

Mr Abdul Karim echoes her view.

"We are theatre people, we don't engage in politics. We just believe what [President] al-Assad tells us."
))))))))))))))))


I find it terribly incomprehensible that a History professor, some one who should have known the characteristics of all societies that lived under dictatorships at one time or another, and how the praise of the dictator is something any one would precede his/her talks with if at any time a political subject is open, tries to ignore this simple fact and present to th eworld a society in Syria in "love" with the "young" dictator that he calls president. I find it awsome that Dr. Joshua continues to search all articles printed anywhere to stress to the world how the Syrian people "love" this dictator he calls President Bashar Assad as if he does not really know that the vast majority of people really and deeply hate him and his father, and his regime!

Yet, that is what Mr. Joshua wants tthe world to see about Syria; a people in love with Bashar Assad.

Shame!


JAM

 
At 12/24/2005 12:10:00 PM, Blogger EngineeringChange said...

JAM I think you don't know what you are talking about. When was the last time you were in the country anyway?

When I was there in the summer, from what I could tell most people truly trust Bashar. I was even talking to a outspoken Kurdish man talking about change and kurdish rights, yet he said Bashar was still his salvagtion and only hope. Its a bit disconcerting how much people trust in one man.

Even when Hafez died I remember people genuinely sad.

And this kind of attitude is not limited to dictatorships. Here in the US, ask people not on the east or west coasts and they will probaly say they just love and trust President Bush. Britney Spears had this famous quote in 2003 that shows the attitude of many people:

SPEARS: Honestly, I think we should just trust our president in every decision he makes and should just support that, you know, and be faithful in what happens.

CARLSON: Do you trust this president?

SPEARS: Yes, I do.

 
At 12/24/2005 12:31:00 PM, Blogger Joseph ALi Mohammed said...

""" Even when Hafez died I remember people genuinely sad.
"""


Hahahaha

You just answered yourself. I have no need to dispute your stupid claims.

JAM

 
At 12/24/2005 12:39:00 PM, Blogger Joseph ALi Mohammed said...

Do we all not remember this incidence that took place at the deat of the criminal Hafez Assad in 2000?

"""A military court has sentenced a Lebanese man to one year in prison for saying the late Syrian dictator Hafez Assad's death was a cause for celebration. Salah Noureddine was arrested shortly after Assad's June 10 death for comments he made to friends and relatives. Lebanese laws, dictated by a more powerful neighbor, forbid defamation of Arab leaders or attempts to harm Lebanon's relations "with brotherly and friendly countries," the court found. "



Do we not remember young Syrians taken in Sahnaya to prison for insulting the Statue of Hafez Assad? 3 years in jails before they were released.

You must be "genuinely" crazy, EC. tell us about your so called Engineering Change!


JAM

 
At 12/24/2005 12:53:00 PM, Blogger EngineeringChange said...

I do not dispute that there are people that didn't like Hafez and there are isolated incidents of people being outspoken about it. The guy was a dctator wha do you expect?

But I do remember most (key word is most) people being sad at the time of his death. He was all some people had known for so many years.

And I see you didn't answer about the last time you were in the country. Correct me if I'm wrong, but I will guess its been many years and that does hurt your credibility when talking about the pulse of the people.

 
At 12/24/2005 12:53:00 PM, Blogger Innocent_Criminal said...

JAM,

Your state of denial is quiet impressive. what are the incidents that you mentioned have to do with all the tea in china or how to make butter chicken? note that i am not even contesting these incident even though i never heard of it, they might have very well happened!!! but the fact of the matter is that people were genuinely sad by Hafez's death. I know because i was there, i was studying in Beirut at the time and went to photograph the funeral in B&W. And though there were organized crowds, there were tons and tons of regular people in grieve so lie to yourself all you like but this is reality. and if you don’t accept that people might have other opinions then you don’t really deserve democracy.

 
At 12/24/2005 12:58:00 PM, Blogger Joseph ALi Mohammed said...

I am inside the country.

2nd- one year in prison for a Lebanese saying something about the death of the dictator, and in Lebanon. What do you expect people to behave when they are faced with such awful laws? People were genuinely happy at his death. People were angry at the comedy of the inheritance of Syria and its people by a so called "parliament". People hated, and still hate his guts. You must be an Alawi close to him to be saying that people were "genunely" sad. No one was sad except those beneficiaries of the regime who are no "most" Syrians, but the few corrupts.


One year in Jail for a Lebanese because he expressed happiness of the death of the dictator, and you think people were "genuinely" sad? You are a disgarce to human logic and human feelings!


JAM

 
At 12/24/2005 01:09:00 PM, Blogger Joseph ALi Mohammed said...

((( and if you don’t accept that people might have other opinions then you don’t really deserve democracy.

)))


Who is denying what?

Syrian prisons testify to the state of affairs in Syria. The thousands upon thousands of Syrian deaths at the hands of the regime testify to the criminality of the regime, and your "democratic" speach.. We don't deserve democracy, and you deserve to stay in power? Tell me why you deserve to stay in power? What devine right did you inherit to decide who "deserve" democracy, and who does not?


JAM

 
At 12/24/2005 01:23:00 PM, Blogger Joseph ALi Mohammed said...

Democracy is not to be deserved. It is a right to all mankind.

Before your hero, the late dictator of Syria came to power through the military, did you have the same logic back then, asking him to accept the old status quo, and wait until Syrians "deserved" democracy? Or tell us, for God's sake, what kind of slogans and logic did your hero use to change that previous political regime by force, not accepting to await the deserving of democracy before he implemented his coup d'etat and appointed himself and his cronies the rulers of Syria, and now they say that they are the only choice because "people do not deserve democracy"? Why didn't they accept to wait back then then?


You are ridiculous when you think that you alone deserve power, and the people have to wait while they develop into "deserving" democracy, for such logic means only that who ever succeeds by force is the one who "deserves" to rule, but remember that things might change for you, and you might become tomorrow the underclass and others might tell you that you do not "deserve" democracy.

JAM

 
At 12/24/2005 01:27:00 PM, Blogger Joseph ALi Mohammed said...

Not to forget that Baath overthrew a democratic regime in Syria in March 8th, 1963.

JAM

 
At 12/24/2005 01:44:00 PM, Blogger adonis syria said...

This post has been removed by a blog administrator.

 
At 12/24/2005 02:08:00 PM, Blogger adonis syria said...

This post has been removed by a blog administrator.

 
At 12/24/2005 02:15:00 PM, Blogger adonis syria said...

Why does bashar fear the law of the ballot box knowing the potential support of 2 or 3 millions "baathists" (=9 millions syrians if we include their children=50 % of the syrian population).
The syrians are fickle and the dictators are aware of this fact.This dual personality that damaged the syrian people in his dignity is the result of 40 years of state terrorism.

 
At 12/24/2005 02:50:00 PM, Blogger patriot2sy said...

I would like to add 2 comments about this discussion:
1. It is true that after the death of president Hafez Assad, a proportion of Syrians were sad. We don’t know this exact proportion, but most likely, it was small, BUT greatly inflated in media, and that gave the impression that people were generally sad.
2. Now, more important, I think, is that the general impression most Syrians had, and which was wrongly interpreted as sadness, was anxiety, and fear from the unknown coming future. Some people talked about civil war, about Riffat coming back, and taking control. Others talked about Israel attacking Syria, etc…
So when Bashar took over in a smoothly peaceful way. This feeling of anxiety was relieved somehow. And, again this may have been interpreted as happiness and support to the young president, and indeed, this was the general impression people got at that time.

 
At 12/24/2005 03:14:00 PM, Blogger ActiveListener said...

I am sure a lot of people did feel a genuine surge of sadness when Hafez died. Just as millions of Chinese sobbed at the death of Mao and even Russians when Stalin died. And the same emotions will no doubt well up in North Koreans when their "beloved leader" passes on.

What else can they think and feel when they are told the "father" of their beloved nation has died. Someone who has used state terrorism and personality cult lies to create the sense that everything around them - from jobs, infrastrucure and law and order to even a sense of national dignity and worth vis-a-vis "the enemy" - is given to them by courtesy of one person.

If you want to witness the power and scale of this syndrome ask ANY mainland Chinese person about the horrible things that happened to members of their family under the cultural revolution or look at the clear and stomach-churning story of Mao revealed in his new biography (banned in China).

Then look at how the Chinese still accept Mao as a Godlike figure, his face large on every banknote and millions of other offical daily reminders, because ....well, think it through for yourself, EngineeringChange and Innocent Criminal.

Patriot2sy has also made a good and relevant comment.

 
At 12/24/2005 03:25:00 PM, Blogger Joseph ALi Mohammed said...

I really do get mad when Assad is compared with Stalin, Mao, Hitler, or any other such dictator. Assad can not be compared to such men who, despite their evil deeds, were able to raise their nations to grand status! Assad can only be compared to Mobouto of Zair, Duvalier, and not even to Saddam Hussein.

Despite 40 years of total "stability" in Syria since his so called "correctionist" movement, and despite the many billions in aids from Saudi Arabia and the Gulf Region to maintain this evil dictator, Syria became at the bottom of nations, and I defy anyone to name one single accomplishment of this evil dictator.

And no... The Syrian people, when they trust you, tell you how much they hate this dictator. Despite it all, the Syrian spirit has not died. Syrians know that they are governed by thugs, and they hate them as much as you could imagine!


JAM

 
At 12/24/2005 03:31:00 PM, Blogger ActiveListener said...

Yes, JAM, you're right.

 
At 12/24/2005 05:21:00 PM, Blogger DamasceneBlood said...

JAM

"I am inside the country"

LOL, and I'm the king of England...

JAM, you are either a lame liar or just crazy, or as you accuse others, low-level Mukhabarat.

Why? If you are inside Syria, and you claim that Syria is oppressive and you cannot say whatever you can, then you should've been arrested by now, no?

Yes, we are ruled by a minority of thugs, mostly. But what about Lebanon? they are ruled by multiple families of thugs. All other Arab countries are ruled a single powerful 'clan'. So why is Syria the worst now all of the sudden?

Also, I would be surprised if Josh changes his views all of the sudden. The article by Ms. Biedermann is appalling in its superficiality, and as someone already said, she usually writes much better articles.

 
At 12/24/2005 05:30:00 PM, Blogger Joseph ALi Mohammed said...

lol

you know how stupid their technical expertise is, mr. blood.

So, don't be surprised when I beat their system.

JAM

 
At 12/24/2005 05:39:00 PM, Blogger Joseph ALi Mohammed said...

"""Yes, we are ruled by a minority of thugs, mostly. But what about Lebanon? they are ruled by multiple families of thugs. All other Arab countries are ruled a single powerful 'clan'."""



Right right!, but the difference is great!

While 17 millions are deprived of their basic rights in Syria, Lebanese compete and there is no one supreme dictator among them. Competition is what makes their system far superior to the Syrian's one. They observe each other. They monitor each other, and unlike Syria, the air in Lebanon is that of Freedom and dignity for the individual. There is no human being considered as God himself there, and it is enough to have one little aspect of being civilized and advanced by having this great Newspaper called Annahar.


Would you rather read Annahar or what your shitty Syrian papers?

Be honest.


JAM.

 
At 12/24/2005 05:42:00 PM, Blogger Joseph ALi Mohammed said...

Late Prime Minister Hariri defended himself and his policies on a daily basis in the Lebanese Parliament. He never was God in Lebanon. Is that what Syria and its Assadist System is?

You are likely to be satisfied with man worship, and you must have accepted to have Assad as your God. I refuse to worship another man. I refuse to worship statues, but people like see nothing wrong in having multiple statues of a living dictator in every corner of the country.

JAM

 
At 12/24/2005 05:54:00 PM, Blogger Joseph ALi Mohammed said...

"""" "Stand Up, Sit Down, Shut Up,"""""


The whole country of Syria is under the above order, and 17 millions obey every day!


JAM

 
At 12/24/2005 06:06:00 PM, Blogger Innocent_Criminal said...

JAM are you oppsessed with your own name? why dont u make your point in one or a couple of messeges or start your own blog. seeing 5 messeges in a row everytime you want to say something is annoying.

 
At 12/24/2005 06:07:00 PM, Blogger Joseph ALi Mohammed said...

Just explain to us how a criminal is innocent, mr.

 
At 12/24/2005 10:18:00 PM, Blogger Landis Illegitimate Child said...

أكدت أن دمشق شريك في قضية المعتقلات الأميركية السرية

السياسة – 24/12/2005 :

في إطار مساعيها لوقف الانتهاكات التي تتعرض لها حقوق الإنسان في العالم في إطار ما يسمى "الحرب على الإرهاب", أطلقت منظمة العفو الدولية حملة لوقف التعذيب وسوء المعاملة في سورية اللذين يمارسان تحت هذا الشعار. وبينما وثقت المنظمة حالات كثيرة تعرض أصحابها للتعذيب لانتزاع اعترافاتهم, أوضحت أن سورية هي من الدول التي توفر مراكز اعتقال للولايات المتحدة التي ترسل معتقلين لاستجوابهم تحت التعذيب.

وأشارت المنظمة في مطلع تقرير حديث لها إلى أن "التعذيب وسوء المعاملة منتشران على نطاق واسع في مراكز الاعتقال والتحقيق السورية, ولا سيما في مرحلة الاحتجاز السابق على المحاكمة. وتتزايد مخاطر التعذيب وسوء المعاملة أثناء فترات الاعتقال بمعزل عن العالم الخارجي".

وأوضحت المنظمة أن "التعذيب وسوء المعاملة (يُستخدمان) ضد المشبوهين السياسيين والمشبوهين الجنائيين العاديين, النساء منهم والرجال, وكبار السن والأطفال".

وقد وثقت المنظمة نحو 40 طريقة مختلفة للتعذيب وإساءة المعاملة استخدمت ضد المعتقلين في سورية, من بينها الصعق بالكهرباء. هذا عدا عن الاحتجاز "في ظروف في غاية السوء تفتقر إلى الشروط الصحية في زنازين ضيقة وقذرة موبوءة بالحشرات وأشبه بالقبور".

ونبهت المنظمة إلى أن "الاعترافات التي تنتزع بالإكراه وتحت الضغوط (تستخدم) بصورة منهجية كأدلة في المحاكم السورية, بينما لا تكاد ادعاءات المتهمين بالتعرض للتعذيب وسوء المعاملة تخضع للتحقيق أبداً. وفي 2004 وحده, توفي ما لا يقل عن 9 أشخاص, نتيجة للتعذيب وسوء المعاملة في الحجز".

ووثَّقت منظمة العفو الدولية حالات ما يربو على 20 فتى كردياً سورياً تتراوح أعمارهم بين 14 و17 سنة ممن تعرضوا للتعذيب أو سوء المعاملة أثناء احتجازهم لأكثر من ثلاثة أشهر في 2004 "وضُرب هؤلاء الأطفال, بحسب ما زُعم, بالكابلات الكهربائية, بينما ضُربت رؤوسهم بعنف بعضهاً ببعض, وأُمروا بخلع ملابسهم كاملة تقريباً تحت التهديد بالضرب. كما تعرضوا للصعق بالصدمات الكهربائية على أيديهم وأقدامهم وأجزاء حساسة من أجسامهم, ونُزعت أظافر أصابع أقدامهم; وضربوا بأعقاب البنادق".

وركزت المنظمة على المعتقلين المتهمين بالانتماء إلى تيارات إسلامية أو متهمين ب¯"الإرهاب". وأشارت المنظمة إلى حالة سراج خلبوص الذي "أصبح بوضوح في حالة صحية حرجة نتيجة للتعذيب الذي تعرض له أثناء احتجازه بمعزل عن العالم الخارجي (ابتداء) من 12 سبتمبر 2005 في شعبتي المزة والفيحاء للأمن السياسي في دمشق".

وأكدت المنظمة أن المواطن خلبوص "تعرض للضرب وللدعس بالأحذية, فضُرب بعصي كبيرة وهُدد بالاغتصاب, وأُخضع لدرجات شديدة البرودة والحرارة بالتناوب, وحُرم من النوم, وأُجبر على مشاهدة آخرين وهم يعذبون, بما في ذلك بالصعقات الكهربائية". وقد سلم خلبوص بعد نقله إلى المشفى في حالة حرجة.

وكانت منظمات حقوق الإنسان في سورية قد ذكرت أن خلبوص اعتقل ضمن مجموعة من الشبان "على خلفية دينية" في دمشق.

كما أشارت منظمة العفو الدولية إلى "تعاون واضح من جانب وكالات استخبارية غربية" لإرسال معتقلين "ممن يشتُبه بقيامهم بأنشطة إرهابية" إلى سورية حيث تعرضوا للتعذيب. وأكدت المنظمة أن "سورية هي إحدى الدول التي توفر مراكز اعتقال تقوم الولايات المتحدة الأميركية بنقل مشبوهين مزعومين بممارسة الإرهاب إليها, دونما تقيد بأية إجراءات قانونية (ممارسة تعرف باسم "تسليم المطلوبين") وذلك لاستجوابهم, وغالباً ما يتم ذلك تحت التعذيب وسوء المعاملة" وفق تأكيد المنظمة.

وتحدثت المنظمة عن أربع حالات اعتقل أصحابها بزعم تورطهم بأعمال "إرهابية" أو تم ترحيلهم إلى سورية بالقوة. وقد "احتُجزوا جميعاً لفترات طويلة في زنازين قسم فلسطين للاستخبارات العسكرية في دمشق, المعروفة بظروفها اللاإنسانية والضيقة والقذرة والأشبه ب¯"قبور" تحت الأرض", حيث تعرضوا للتعذيب وسوء المعاملة.

 
At 12/24/2005 10:48:00 PM, Blogger Landis Illegitimate Child said...

أكبر شبكة دعارة وخطف أطفال في سورية

ايلاف 23/12/2005 :

كشفت ضحية مغتصبة لـ "ايلاف" اكبر شبكة للدعارة وخطف اطفال في بلدة جرمانا بريف دمشق ، واكدت انها استدرجت واغتصبت وعذبت بالضرب والحرق والربط بالسلاسل لأنها كانت ترفض ان تعمل ضمن افراد الشبكة ، واشارت الى تورط أسماء امنية وقضائية وقانونية، اضافة الى اطباء اختصاصيين في الأمراض النسائية . والغريب أن لمحامية الضحية برنامجاً أسبوعياً على التلفزيون السوري عرضت خلاله قضية الضحية المغتصبة ناريمان حجازي لكن أحدا لم يحرك ساكنا، رغم ان ناريمان أكدت على القناتين الرسميتين في سورية الفضائية والارضية تورط عناصر من الأمن الجنائي في القضية ، وانهم كانوا يمدون أعضاء الشبكة وقواديها بمعلومات عن عمليات الدهم ومواعيدها .

وأجرت المحامية ميساء حليوة محامية ناريمان اتصالا هاتفيا بالمحامي العام في الحلقة التلفزيونية نفسها وسألته عن سبل تأهيل عناصر الأمن الجنائي وعناصر الضابطة العدلية للتعامل مع ضحايا الدعارة ولا سيما القصّر منهن ، فأجاب "ان الدعارة ليست ظاهرة في سورية ، لكنها موجودة وليست كل اصابعك متشابهة، وان هناك بعض الفاسدين ". ولدى سؤالها "ما دوركم وماذا فعلتم للاقتصاص من عناصر الأمن الجنائي الفاسدين ؟"، قال "ان ناريمان لم تقدم لنا اسماء المتورطين "، فقالت له المحامية "وهل تحل المشكلة بتقديم اسماء؟ "، أجاب " نعم" ، فردت: "الاسماء تكون لديك غدا " . على الأثر قال المحامي العام: "عندما نعلم بأن ثمة عناصر من الامن الجنائي متورطين فسيكون عقابهم عسيرا ."

وذهبت ناريمان في اليوم التالي وقدمت قائمة من الاسماء التي تضم قضاة وعناصر في الأمن الجنائي ومستشارين قانونيين ومحامين متورطين واطباء اختصاصيين في الأمراض النسائية كانوا يعالجون الضحايا لدى اصابتهن بامراض تناسلية او يسقطون أجنتهن في حال حملن سفاحا ، اضافة الى اطباء اسنان وعاملين في صالونات حلاقة للسيدات ، ولكن للاسف لم يحدث شيء حتى هذه اللحظة ولم يتحرك احد.

وقالت ناريمان حجازي (22 عاما) لـ"ايلاف" انها استدرجت في مطلع أيار/ مايو 2004 من حديقة تشرين وسط العاصمة دمشق ، واوضحت انها كانت جالسة تبكي على أحد كراسي الحديقة بعدما مرت بظروف نفسية صعبة اثر فسخ خطوبتها .

فرأتها احدى النساء وشدت من ازرها ثم سألتها ماذا تعملين؟ فقالت لها اعمل اعمالا مختلفة على تقطع ، مرة سكرتيرة في معمل ومرة مدرسة لاطفال صغار ، فقالت لها السيدة : انت ابنة حلال لا يجب ان تتوقفي عن العمل ، اليوم رأيت اعلانا لاحدى الشركات تطلب سكرتيرات ومدرسات ، وقادتها الى احد المكاتب وتم الاتفاق ان تعمل ناريمان مدرسة اطفال خاصة لدى عائلة ، وذهبت معها السيدة ثم دفعتها عندما وصلت الى احد المنازل وقام باغتصابها رجل ثم عبر لها عن رغبته في ان يرسلها للزبائن، فرفضت مما عرضها للتعذيب والضرب وقام بحرقها مرارا وربطها بالجنازير من معصميها ولا تزال آثار التعذيب على جسدها.

واكدت ناريمان ان احد الزبائن الذي يحمل جنسية عربية قام بتهريبها فاشتكت لدى الأمن الجنائي ولدى اقتيادها الى المنزل للتعرف إليه قامت الشرطة باستدراجها، ونتيجة تواطؤ الامن الجنائي مع العصابة تم اقتيادها ايضا وسجنت ثلاثة شهور في سجن النساء .

واعتبرت ناريمان "المحجبة " ان لرجال الشبكة نفوذا كبيراً لدى الامن وإلا لما سجنت، واشارت الى انها عندما سألت القاضي لماذا تسجنوني وانا الضحية ؟ قال لها "حتى نحميك".

كلام ناريمان مدعوم بوثائق تحتفظ بها المحامية حليوة. وقد أصيب أخو ناريمان بانهيار عصبي وساءت نفسية والدها الذي يعمل سائقا وهو يرى انهيار مستقبل ابنته بينما يحاول تبرئتها امام مجتمع لا يرحم يحرضه على قتلها.

ناريمان تقول ان شبكة الدعارة مؤلفة من عشرات النساء واكثر من 30 رجلا وهناك اكثر من مئتي فتاة بعضهن قصر يتعرضن للاغتصاب يوميا وبعضهن يتم تزوجيهن رغم اعمارهن الصغيرة ليقوم ازواجهن "بالاشراف على عملهن " باستمرار، وهناك طفلة رأتها ناريمان عمرها سبع سنوات اختطفتها الشبكة وهي في ملابس المدرسة ورحلتها الى اللاذقية دون ان تعلم مصيرها.

الغريب في الامر ان الرجل الذي اغتصب ناريمان يحاكم امام القضاء وهناك ستة رجال وعدد من النسوة تم القبض عليهم وهناك رجال يعملون في شبكة الدعارة قبض عليهم ايضا ثم افلتتهم قبضة العدالة ولا احد يعلم السبب ؟ واشارت ناريمان إلى ان الفساد استشرى والا لما جرى تهديدها ومضايقتها في كل الاماكن التي تكون فيها حتى في قصر العدل وامام محاميتها وعلى الملأ . وأشارت الى ان قضيتها باتت قضية مئات الفتيات وانها ليس لديها ما تخسره فقد خسرت كل شيء ، لذلك ستحاول ان تقف بوجه هؤلاء رغم كثرة عددهم ونفوذهم ورغم كونها وحيدة من غير سند .

واكدت المحامية ميساء حليوة لـ"ايلاف" صحة ما قالته ناريمان، وانطلقت من الخاص للعام ، فتحدثت عن الدعارة كظاهرة يجب الا ندفن رؤوسنا في الرمال ازاءها ، وأضافت:"لا احصائيات لدينا لا في سورية ولا في العالم العربي عن حجم شبكات الدعارة المتنامي يوما بعد يوم، لذلك اضطررت إلى ان أقدم احصائيات منشورة وصادرة عن الامم المتحدة والانتربول الدولي ومنظمة العمل الدولية ومكتب العمل الدولي واليونيسيف". واشارت الى احصائية لليونيسيف مفادها أن ما لايقل عن 20 مليون طفل ذكورا واناثا قد بيعوا خلال العشر سنوات الماضية من اجل الاتجار بأعضائهم وأجسادهم .

ونددت محامية ناريمان بمعاقبة الجلاد والجاني بحكم الدعارة نفسه وهو ثلاث سنوات سجناً تُنزل بالمرأة المسوقة عنوة الى بيوتات الدعارة ، مثلها مثل القواد مدير شبكات الدعارة ورئيسها.

 
At 12/26/2005 09:52:00 AM, Blogger norman said...

Merry christmas and happy new year to all of you.

 
At 12/28/2005 08:20:00 PM, Blogger Joseph ALi Mohammed said...

This post has been removed by a blog administrator.

 
At 12/28/2005 08:27:00 PM, Blogger Joseph ALi Mohammed said...

Here is an article by a Westerner who was able to feel the real people's opinion regarding the Assad Regime, exactly as I have been telling mr. Joshua Landis for so long. Mr. Landis spent one year in Syria, and insisted in telling us that Syrians are in love with Queen Mary Antinette and her husband , his majesty, King Bashar Assad "the heriditary President".

_____________________________________________________________________________


PRESSURE ON SYRIA
The next shove into democracy?

By Scott MacMillan
a freelance writer who lives in Cairo
Published December 18, 2005


As the United Nations puts Syria back in the hot seat, pay close attention to what American leaders say on the subject of democracy in Syria. The administration has made far-reaching demands of Damascus, but until recently, it had stopped short of suggesting Syria become the Arab world's latest experiment in democracy.

Last month, President Bush demanded for the first time that Syria "stop exporting violence and start importing democracy." Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice then spoke of "the Syrian people's aspirations for liberty, democracy and justice under the rule of law." These are subtle but significant shifts in the way Washington talks about Damascus: It seems we might want a democratic Syria after all.

Last week, UN special investigator Detlev Mehlis delivered his final report implicating high-level Damascus officials in the February assassination of former Lebanese leader Rafik Hariri. The same day, another anti-Syria voice in Lebanon, writer and editor Gibran Tueni, was killed by a car bomb.

The nuances of American rhetoric resonate powerfully on Syria's streets. I spent two weeks there in October, after the release of Mehlis' interim report. In conversations, it was clear that few Syrians, including those who opposed the regime and looked up to America, saw Bush as their liberator.

Make no mistake: Syrians are in denial about their government's likely role in the Hariri assassination. When the subject comes up, they respond almost reflexively: "The UN report is politically motivated. It is only an excuse to interfere in Syria's internal affairs."



Scratch beneath the surface and people will start to tell you what they really think. Many will speak disdainfully of Bashar Assad's dictatorship, and some will freely admit that government officials are probably guilty of the Hariri assassination. Eager for a sound bite, Western reporters often fail to get past the standard response.


I met a local business executive who initially gushed about the Syrian president. He spoke of Assad as reformer of a system mired in corrupt socialism and railed against American neoconservatives. After the better part of an hour, I pressed him on whether Assad's reforms would lead to free elections. He conceded that only outside pressure would push the government toward democracy.

`No loyalties, just Syria'

Later, I received an unexpected invitation to a demonstration by students at Damascus University. I had read many reports of angry demonstrations of Syrians defending their government against a perceived American smear campaign. Yet what I found surprised me: This was a pro-Syria demonstration, yet explicitly not a pro-regime one.

Nobody waved pictures of Assad, itself notable in a country where the president's portrait is ubiquitous. The national flag was the only emblem on display. "No loyalties, no slogans," one student told me. "Just Syria."

After much small talk, people began to speak openly.

"I think people in the government are probably guilty of the Hariri murder," said one young protester. "The biggest crimes of our government have been committed against the Syrian people. So why does America want to punish the people of Syria, rather than the government?"

The Assad gang has succeeded in making U.S. "interference" the main topic of conversation. The twist, of course, is that it was Syria's meddling in Lebanon that set off the current crisis. In coming months, U.S. leaders must refocus Syrians' attention on the Assad regime's thuggish rule.

The "realists" will point out that our beef with Damascus has nothing to do with democracy: The U.S. wants the Syrian government to stop allowing insurgents to cross the eastern border into Iraq, to end its support for Hezbollah and Palestinian militant groups and to quit interfering in Lebanese affairs.

In fact, these demands are unlikely to be met until democratic change comes to Damascus. Assad will not "do a Qaddafi"--the words of Syria expert Joshua Landis, who blogs at SyriaComment.com--and suddenly become the kind of dictator America likes, namely, Libya's Moammar Gadhafi.

Political opposition weak

Many will argue that the reluctance to push for a democratic revolution in Syria is an exercise in pragmatism. Right now there appears to be no viable alternative to Assad's dictatorship: Even opposition figures, such as the former political prisoner Riad al-Turk, admit that Syria's weakened and fragmented opposition is in no place to topple the regime via Kiev- and Beirut-style mass demonstrations.

It would be wise to read the words of another former political prisoner: In his 1978 essay, "The Power of the Powerless," Vaclav Havel, then a dissident Czech playwright, wrote of the totalitarian regime in which "all genuine problems and matters of critical importance are hidden beneath a thick crust of lies."

When that crust is broken in a single place, "the whole crust seems then to be made of a tissue on the point of tearing and disintegrating uncontrollably."

Right now, the weakest point in the Assad gang's crust of lies is its involvement in the Hariri assassination. If the worst of the accusations is shown to be true, Assad will appear as a liar before his own people.

If this happens, the crust will start to break and anger in Syria will turn away from the U.S. and toward the regime itself.

 
At 12/28/2005 10:15:00 PM, Blogger Joseph ALi Mohammed said...

I just watched a documentary from North Korea. The secret film whcih came out of NK showed executions of dissidents where some people young and old were invited to watch. I couldn't but remember Syria, and the Hafez Assad regime. The things that this regime did resembled so much what NK did. I remember in 1971 when my uncle, a military officer at the time was invited to watch an execution party back then. He wondered then why he was among the invitees, and was very concerned that they might have invited him to watch the executions of people he might have known. That wasn;t the case, but the execution acts took place. Mustafa Tlas, the Minister of Arabic Cuisine (Defense) also admitted in his interview to a German Newspaper that he was signing 150 execution orders a week, in Damascus alone. The world speaks about North Korea, but never about the friend of the NKorean leader, Hafez Assad, and when Assad died, he was given the honour he never deserved and the world, especially the Western World did not care about how bad this dictator was to the Syrian people, and that is something I can not accept nor understand.

The State of North Korea is built on a culture of personality cult, and so was and is Syria.

JAM

 
At 12/29/2005 11:43:00 AM, Blogger patriot2sy said...

Very good article, but I have a question JAM
Do you think that the current US administration is genuine about democracy in Syria, or is it just a political act to put more pressures on the Syrian regime.
Do you thinks that US admin cares about Syrians???

 
At 12/29/2005 12:28:00 PM, Blogger Joseph ALi Mohammed said...

""" Do you thinks that US admin cares about Syrians???
"""

Only God can tell what is the real intention inside a man's heart.

But, the US looks for its interests, and so should the Syrians do.

The Interests of the Syrian people should be to seek freedom, democracy, creating economic opportunities, and stop the theivery of their country.

When the regime denies Syrians all of the above for 40 years, and at the same time concentrates the country's wealth in the hands of the few while filling its prisons with Syrians who dared to breath, doing so I am sure, with help and support from Russia and America at the same time and for that long to serve some foreign interests, do we say: let this game continue for ever, and let us stay at the bottom "not serving the foreign interests" while the regime is doing so, and prospering at the people's expense?

If America or Israel are getting what they ant from Syria by supporting and having this regime thrive for that long, and now America thinks that it can change its policies and support the people of Syria, provided that the peoples of Syria do not act as its enemies, do we say NO, and let this regime survive and continue its oppression for more years?

The Syrian opposition groups served the regime so much by keeping their old rhetorics of the cold war, and declaring themselves anti Americans to the depth of their hearts. That surely makes any one trying to support the reversal of fortunes in Syria think twice. The Syrian oppositions groups decided that they wanted the Regime to continue serving the foreign powers/forces/etc... the old secret ways it has been doing for 40 years, and declared openly that they are anti US, anti West, etc... a language that makes me sick.

JAM

 
At 12/29/2005 03:28:00 PM, Blogger patriot2sy said...

JAM, Thanks a lot for your comment.
You made very good points.
But, don't you think that in order to work with the amercians, you have to be ass licker. Take gulf states, jordan, ....
Do you think that it is possible to serve your owen interests while working with people whose final goals are way far from yours?

 
At 12/29/2005 05:06:00 PM, Blogger Joseph ALi Mohammed said...

This post has been removed by a blog administrator.

 
At 12/29/2005 05:09:00 PM, Blogger Joseph ALi Mohammed said...

Patriot2Sy:

Thanks, and in response to your latest question, this is my views:

I worked with Americans most of my life. I love Americans. They are the most practical people on Earth. They like to find efficient and fast solutions to any problem. I understand their frustrations when they have to deal with backward people, but let me say this:

It is either you be the ass licker if that is true, or let the regime be that, and stay under the control of the regime for ever.

Which is better?

Thanks

 
At 12/29/2005 11:01:00 PM, Blogger EngineeringChange said...

Nice article JAM and comments,

I would like to point out that Americans and American politicians are not monolithic. In particular, there is a large distinction between the current people in charge of American foreign policy and the rest of Americans.

In other words I think there is a happy medium in between 'ass licking' and staying under the regime's control forever. I think it is important to wait out Bush's last term because most of his foreign policy team is more concerned with Israel's well being than America's. A different administration might have more guts to demand Israel also comply with Security Council resolutions and give back the occupied Golan Heights to Syria. Then the Syrian regime will have no excuse for lack of change and the excuse for the state of emergency laws will disapear.

 
At 12/30/2005 02:33:00 AM, Blogger shamee27 said...

Thank you for your comment engineer,
Let's differentiate between Americans and American government, I lived among Americans and generally speaking they are nice people, ignorant but no one is perfect.
JAM America killed thousands of our brothers and sisters in Iraq how do you want us to ignore this fact and work with them.
I agree with patriot that its almost impossible to find common ground with America they are after their own interests in the region they couldn't care less about the Syrians , Iraqis and the rest of the Arab world..
I don’t think as licking is one of our attributes as Arabs , i am sure you will say many Syrians are licking the regime’s ass which might be true but I can assure you many more refused and still refusing to be ass lickers to anyone.

 
At 12/30/2005 03:53:00 AM, Blogger patriot2sy said...

“It is either you be the ass licker if that is true, or let the regime be that, and stay under the control of the regime for ever.”
I think JAM brought very controversial comment.
Would the cause you believe in justify your acts.
Is it justifiable for Syrians to lick the ass of the west in order to get the Syrian regime out(which is also an ass licker but secretly).
You accuse the regime of being an ass licker, and yet, you may accept the same act, if done by other people.
Would you steel from the rich to feed the poor, without being a thief??

 
At 12/30/2005 04:17:00 AM, Blogger Innocent_Criminal said...

Just noticed below, it includes comments from Josh.

http://www.pbs.org/newshour/bb/middle_east/july-dec05/syria_12-29.html

 
At 12/30/2005 05:05:00 AM, Blogger ActiveListener said...

I've just read the PBS piece and thankyou for posting it Mr Innocent C.

When I read it I think Dr Josh needs rescuing, maybe by his parents.

Did he realise he was going to be singing a role in the latest rubbish propaganda musical written by and starring Bouthaina Shabaan?

His comments are probably sincere and reasonable on their own, but here it is made to look like he and the wicked witch BS have the same scriptwriter.

 
At 12/30/2005 08:10:00 AM, Blogger Joseph ALi Mohammed said...

This post has been removed by a blog administrator.

 
At 12/30/2005 08:12:00 AM, Blogger Joseph ALi Mohammed said...

You probably found it!

Is Mr. Landis, the scriptwriter for Butheina Shaaban, or is it vice versa?


There is no person I ever despised more than this whore, Butheina Shaaban. (There was Shuebi who had the rank before her until she showed up).

Both Shaaban and Landis are lying when they tell the world that the people of Syria are rallying behind the regime against the US. No Syrian dares to speak their mind to regime spies anyway.

 
At 12/30/2005 12:30:00 PM, Blogger Vox Populi - Agent Provocateur said...

Elaph has published pictures of a man present at the crime scene of George Hawi, who was killed on 21 June. Elaph pretends it's Husam Husam. Husam is the witness who recanted his testimony to the UN probe, claiming he was tortured and bribed by Saad Hariri. Here he is on the day of car bomb that killed Hawi, wearing a red shirt and standing very close to Hawi's family. Husam approached the UN commission in June and signed his testimony in September. He claimed he was held in captivity, drugged and threatened. You judge.

http://beirutbeltway...husam-exposed-in-pictures.html

 
At 12/30/2005 01:16:00 PM, Blogger EngineeringChange said...

Nice find Innocent_criminal!

I don't see what is the bid deal with his comments? I don't know about his comparison with the 1980s, but he said the people regard the regime the lesser of two devils when compared to current american foreign policy. I think thats a very accuarate statement. Its something a lot of us either agree with or believe is a hindrince to progress in Syria.

Shaaban is overly inflating Bashar's credentials and is being overly optimistic and simplistic. She could be more honest, but her statements are short of criminal for me--in fact the way she talks is basically the same style that Rumsfeld or Cheney talk. She is simply doing her job playing the propaganda game. I would rather all sides really be honest, but thats not the way it works right now.

Here's a link from a David Ignatius Brooking Institute hearing from a last june, I had missed it and it is interesting read after all this time has passed.

 
At 12/30/2005 01:17:00 PM, Blogger Joseph ALi Mohammed said...

http://elaph.com/ElaphWeb/Politics/2005/12/116823.htm


The above link speaks of a Syrian citizen, married and has 8 children, working as a Gas Station Attendant in Lebanon was killed today.

I persoanlly think that the responsible party which killed him is the Syrian Mukhabarat in Lebanon, and that is to rally Syrians behind the Assad Regime, and present the Freedom Fighters in lebanon as killers and Syrians haters.


JAM

 
At 12/30/2005 01:45:00 PM, Blogger EngineeringChange said...

in response to Vox's post:

"The Boudreaux story illustrates, once again, the emerging weakness of photography in a digital age. There was a time when photographs were synonymous with truth -- when you could be sure that what you saw in a picture actually occurred. In today's Photoshop world, all that has changed. Pictures are endlessly pliable. Photographs (and even videos) are now merely as good as words -- approximations of reality at best, subtle (or outright) distortions of truth at worst. Is that Jane Fonda next to John Kerry at an antiwar rally? No, it isn't; if you thought so, you're a fool for trusting your own eyes."

We need to be very careful with photographs that are released after the fact to serve a political purpose. Jane Fonda/John Kerry famously taught us this lesson.

Bloggers can serve a great service to society by either debunking or verifying such photographs. We should dig deeper and not accept things at face value even if it serves your own political agenda.

The fact is these photos could have been easily doctored by competent engineer that does his or her work in the digital arts. So questions to ask are what is the source of these photos? Why are they released only after 6 months? You can see what looks like a reflection of a white shirt in his glasses. Is that a real reflection or something the doctors of this phot tried to insert to show authenticity? Why is Hussam looking seemingly disinterested in the proceedings and not interacting with anyone? Rather he almost appears as a pasted 'layer'?

I can not tell whether these photos are real or not from my naked eye. I hope bloggers will answer some of these and other questions to shed more light on these photographs.

 
At 12/30/2005 02:12:00 PM, Blogger Vox Populi - Agent Provocateur said...

Guys, watch Khaddam on Arabiyya, it's an atomic bomb! He sold everybody!

 
At 12/30/2005 02:51:00 PM, Blogger EHSANI2 said...

Khaddam delivered a devastating blow. It was long overdue. This is the start of the endgame. There is no question that he tried to paint himself as a saint. Having said this, he sounded credible.
Bashar will regret not having him assasinated earlier.

 
At 12/30/2005 03:06:00 PM, Blogger Joseph ALi Mohammed said...

Laughable!

Khadam speaking about the poor? About the rich?

but never mind, let them uncover each other!

I only read few lines about what he said. I have not seen his interview, and am searching to find it. However, what he has uncovered about himself is the real SYRIAN PERSONALITY..., a personality that lives multiple lives, a personality of lies, and of hypocracy. Next we will hear of people like Shiekh Bouti who put Assad in the company of God, who will reverse his words and deny that he ever said so, and will present himself as the one who "protected" ISlam from those Alawi infidels, and since he is a Sunni, the Sunni population will protect him, and deny all of his past. Such is the Syrian personality, and such people deserve the Assad Regime..

Even if Assad is ousted, with such mentality, there is no hope for Syria, for we will only be changing dictators, and people will always welcome the Powerful new comer!!

JAM

 
At 12/30/2005 03:31:00 PM, Blogger EngineeringChange said...

Some overlapping stories about the Khaddam development for those without Arabbiye tv:

Is the video feed available anywhere?

By the way, I think this is an excellent development. Let us hope internal change and reform is on the way.


AP Story

Haaretz via AP

AP

 
At 12/30/2005 03:31:00 PM, Blogger ActiveListener said...

Thanks for those postings EngineeringChange. You raise some good points. I hope somebody in Lebanon is trying to get those photos verified by people who were at the scene.

It was interesting to read the Brooking piece – what a difference 6 months makes.

I don’t agree that Dr BS is harmless as you suggest. She is a ruthless part of the mechanism for creating confusion and intimidation for Syrians, who to survive have adopted the personality JAM just described. The best comparison would be her counterparts in Iraq in Saddam’s regime, not in America.

Here is what Dr BS says on PBS about Bashar, a man who has power only because his first and last recourse is to kill and keep killing, like his father before him. Leave that out of a description of him and you are left with 5% of the story.

“He is the first democratic, humble, young, hopeful leader for his country. I think the West doesn't know him, doesn't know what kind of man he is. If they know him, and they know what kind of person he is, and if they truly want democracy and freedom in our region, this is also a very important question. If they truly want peace in our region, they couldn't have a better partner than President Bashar.”

Then read David Ignatius in the Washington Post this month after the death of Tueni:

"Amid the Bush administration's mistakes and lies about Iraq over the past three years, it's easy to lose sight of what is at stake in this battle. But this week brings it back to square one: It's about breaking the power of the assassins.
The Baath Party in Iraq ruled by its sheer brutality. I gathered reports from Iraqi dissidents and human rights workers in the early 1990s, when I was researching my novel about Iraq, "The Bank of Fear." These stories are sickening to recount, even now: The children of Shiite rebels in southern Iraq, dropped from helicopters to terrify the parents; dissidents who had nails driven into their heads; and prisoners beaten with metal cables until they collapsed or died. At Saddam Hussein's trial last week, a woman was speaking about how she had been beaten with those cables. Watching his arrogant scorn for the testimony of his victims, I remembered what the war is about.
THE BAATH PARTY IN SYRIA HAS GOVERNED MUCH THE SAME WAY, THOUGH IT SAVED ITS WORST BRUTALITY FOR NEIGHBORING LEBANON. The Syrians maintained their mandate by demonstrating that they were prepared to kill anyone who got in their way: a president, a prime minister, a religious leader, a journalist. The price of speaking out was death. That was the message: This is the land of death. Enter into this theater of violence and we will swallow you up."

Sure, Dr BS, to know Bashar is to love him.

 
At 12/30/2005 03:32:00 PM, Blogger Vox Populi - Agent Provocateur said...

Yes it made me laugh to see Khaddam portray himself as a good man. But whatever. The important thing is that he sold Bashar against a guarantee that he will not be turned to the future MB government (it's only an assumption of course).

 
At 12/30/2005 03:41:00 PM, Blogger EngineeringChange said...

well put activelistener, very powerful contrast.

 
At 12/30/2005 04:01:00 PM, Blogger Joseph ALi Mohammed said...

http://www.alarabiya.net/Articles/2005/12/31/19936.htm#2



Anyway, what I laughed about most is when he described Ghazali as "corrupt"!

We shall not forget your love for the Syrian land by bringing Nuclear and Chemical wastes to be burried in the land of Syria for few millions dollars...

By the way, Khadam was referred to the corruption court when he was the governor Of Latakia before Assad saved him back then with the so called correctional movement!


JAM

 
At 12/30/2005 04:09:00 PM, Blogger EHSANI2 said...

Regardless of what people think about Khaddam's past, the interview was an incredible blow to Bashar. The man is his father’s close comrade. He completely decimated Sharaa’s foreign policy (or lack thereof). He took one stab after another at the President’s relatives (i.e.: Makhlouf) mentioning a net worth in the Billions of Dollars (his is not too shabby admittedly). Bashar was implicitly accused of the Harriri murder even though he urged everyone to wait for the completion of the investigation. Mehlis was described as a professional who has done a very good job. In sum, the interview will have far reaching implications. Khaddam has made his first attempt to present himself as a credible alternative to Bashar. He went to great lengths to present himself as an economic reformer to his Syrian listeners. He also positioned himself as a friend of all the Lebanese factions but for LaHood and his security apparatus.

 
At 12/30/2005 04:23:00 PM, Blogger ActiveListener said...

I agree, there's a stench of endgame about Khaddam's tactics.

Dog eat dog eat dog.

Bashar's regime are so stupid and inept they couldn't even let this guy suicide.

How many others have quite the dog pack to spring out and start menacing the others.

 
At 12/30/2005 04:34:00 PM, Blogger Joseph ALi Mohammed said...

This post has been removed by a blog administrator.

 
At 12/30/2005 04:37:00 PM, Blogger Joseph ALi Mohammed said...

Wait until Shehabi speaks also. He kept his silence to protect the billions he also stole, but now he may speak up.

The regime couldn't kill either one of them because they are Sunnis, and it did not want to take a chance similar to the one it took with Mahmoud Al Zo'ubi. Syrians are eaten up with sectarian divisions. The Syrian personality is born with the complex of sectarianism, and Assad had the chance to transform Syria into a modern state not unlike Switzerland or the Singapore with 35 years of total stability and billions of foreign aid, yet, he chose to enhance the Syrian sickness of sectarian divisions, and instead of making institutions, he created his personality cult, and man worship!


JAM

 
At 12/30/2005 04:43:00 PM, Blogger ActiveListener said...

And voila - note it's the French who are giving this flea-ridden dog a safe kennel to bark from.

They should be more careful, they might find they have imported rabies to Paris, the type of rabies that sets off car bombs.

 
At 12/30/2005 04:49:00 PM, Blogger EngineeringChange said...

"Democracy is rooted in the impertinent belief that our rulers are no better than we are and that they are answerable always. We're occasionally amazed to discover that people who are used to power forget that. That's why, every now and again, we have to remind them."

This quote is from an excellent opinion piece from Time on accountability of leaders people today--its is a very good read that shows the absolute beauty of accountability in action:
The Year We Questioned Authority

The author could have easily added that this was the year the Assad dynasty realized its hold on power in Syria is not automatic. That laws cannot be flaunted by people in power and corruption and bullying cannot be accepted.

I agree that Khaddam may be building himself as a credible alternative to Bashar, and Bashar's own "accountability moment" has arrived. If you do not perform, you may very well be ousted. Without any democratic mechanisms in place in Syria, Khaddam's interview is the best way to get this message accross.

 
At 12/30/2005 05:11:00 PM, Blogger EHSANI2 said...

Khaddam would not take this risk if he has not already received the backing of a number of key players. Saudi Arabia is an obvious first candidate judging by the historical relationship. Saad Harriri must have already presented his viability to France and the U.S.
Jumblat’s recent attacks now also make more sense. In sum, this interview must be seen as an opening salvo to a well-coordinated and organized move. It has just become more interesting.

 
At 12/30/2005 05:29:00 PM, Blogger EngineeringChange said...

"Rustom Ghazaleh behaved as if he had absolute power"

Here's one thought that just occurred to me:
Could this Khaddam interview be merely a setup to Ghazaleh being blamed for the Harirri assassignation? Maybe Khaddam is in cahoots with Bashar and Bashar will claim that Ghazaleh conceived and carried out the Harirri murder all by himself.

I think this scenerio is unlikeley be must be considered to be a possibility.

(I realize Khaddam also said in contriction that
"We must await the results of the investigation, but no Syrian security service could take such a decision unilaterally,")

 
At 12/30/2005 05:42:00 PM, Blogger DamasceneBlood said...

Interesting developments indeed. Khaddam has been hiding in France and conspiring with Shihabi and Rifaat for months now. I guess he worked out a deal to become the next prez? ot maybe it's gonna be Rifaat?

Either way, this is a deadly blow to Bashar and his minions.

But you know what's sad about all of this? it's that we will no longer be able to eat at La Noisette or Opaline :)

 
At 12/30/2005 05:49:00 PM, Blogger ActiveListener said...

Interesting, very interesting indeed, Ehsani2, Engineeringchange and Damasceneblood.

But could you imagine such players pulling Syrians out of their current unstable, corrupt, underprivileged dungeon into the daylight of freedom, justice, hope and vision?

Khaddam's past will always be the main part of his body. His reinvented future no bigger than his dirty little toes.

If it's the endgame,it's slower and less revolutionary than it looks. Read this from the Middle East Intelligence Bulletin in 2000:

"With the Syrian occupation of Beirut in 1990, Khaddam worked assiduously to solidify Syrian control over successive Lebanese governments. In particular, his relationship with former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafiq Hariri was very close. Several years ago Khaddam told Lebanese officials that Hariri was "here to stay until 2010," adding that "we in Syria have had no change (in regime) since 1970. Continuity leads to stability."

Ironically, Khaddam's close association with Hariri marked the beginning of his political demise. Bashar Assad, the son and heir apparent of Syrian President Hafez Assad, took control over Syrian policy in Lebanon in 1998, fearing that Khaddam might use Hariri, his money and his Saudi connections to challenge his ascension to the presidency. Syrian policy in Lebanon under Bashar took advantage of widespread disaffection with Hariri and his failed economic policies to bring the Lahoud-Hoss government to power. Hariri has spent his days since then trying to rub shoulders with Bashar Assad and distancing himself as much as he can from Khaddam and former Syrian army Chief of Staff Hikmat Shihabi, another loser as a result of Bashar's ascendency. Hariri is no longer offering his private plane, his mansions in Europe or his boat to accommodate and entertain the Khaddam and the Shihabi families.

Perhaps the best indication of Khaddam's political eclipse was the reaction in Lebanon to the death of his grand-daughter last month. In Lebanon, when the relative of an important Syrian official passes away, it is front page news and Lebanese politicians line up to attend the funeral or issue scores of statements and poems for the occasion. The only coverage given to Khaddam on this occasion was a brief paragraph in Hariri's newspaper, al-Mustaqbal, and Hariri was virtually the only political figure to pay his condolences to the Syrian Vice-President.

Khaddam's role within the Syrian regime has become largely ceremonial: paying condolences and carrying messages to the leaders of Sunni regimes in the Arab world. He is unlikely to contest this demotion, knowing that any overt signs of dissatisfaction will encourage the ostensibly reform-minded Bashar to expose details of the well-known indulgences of Khaddam and his sons in corrupt activities inside and outside Syria (e.g. Khaddam and his sons, along with the Shihabi family, used their political influence to involve themselves heavily in the cellular telephone business in Lebanon, which has earned them tens of millions of dollars in the last few years). Although officially Khaddam is still a vice-president, his political wings have been clipped and he will most likely slip graciously into a comfortable retirement."


(Full article - http://www.meib.org/articles/0002_med.htm)

 
At 12/30/2005 06:09:00 PM, Blogger EHSANI2 said...

People should not underestimate a long time Sunni survivor widely known as a “fox” in the inner circles of Syrian politics over a period spanning close to 40 years. Being Saudi’s man is a perfect place to start. He made a number of very interesting remarks about Sunnis and Shias. At one point, he said Harriri was accused of having all of the Lebanese Sunnis behind him. He reportedly countered with the suggestion that Nasarallah enjoys the same status with the Shias, so what is the problem. In effect, he is presenting himself as a Sunni candidate, which should go well in the White House. The Middle East is slowly but surely in the direction of majority rule. Iraq was first. Syria is likely to be second. The U.S. has already concluded that the region is better served with this future framework.

 
At 12/30/2005 06:57:00 PM, Blogger Joseph ALi Mohammed said...

It is Saudi Arabia after all. Not the US that decides..

The bastard Khadam is going to perform his pilgimage for the second time, indicating that he wants to use religion in his planned conquest.

The Assad dynasty enforced religious backward thoughts in the people of Syria througout its existence.

 
At 12/30/2005 07:26:00 PM, Blogger EHSANI2 said...

Khaddam is no religious zealot. He will use his Sunni credentials to his advantage, which is understandable. Given no strong connections to the military establishment, it is likely that Hikmat Shhabi will surface alongside him soon. Were this ticket to come to fruition, Bashar ought to start booking his one-way ticket to London soon.

 
At 12/30/2005 07:28:00 PM, Blogger Joseph ALi Mohammed said...

I just opened the Tarrots checking Khadam's future.

Unfortrunately, he will die in a matter of 90 days in an airplane accident.

No escape even if he tries not to use planes for travel. He will travel by air and die.

 
At 12/30/2005 07:34:00 PM, Blogger Joseph ALi Mohammed said...

Remember, I was the first one here on this blog to predict that Bashar Assad would not travel to the UN sessions in New York.

 
At 12/30/2005 07:43:00 PM, Blogger EHSANI2 said...

Active Listener asks whether it is possible for such players to pull the country into the daylight of freedom, justice, hope and vision.

My reply would be a cautious yes. Khaddam admitted that the global environment changed dramatically after the fall of the Soviet Union. We all must have reasonable expectations here. A Syrian Thomas Jefferson is an unlikely option at the present time. A U.S. puppet figurehead is equally untenable. In spite of all the baggage that comes with this man, he is certainly better than the current status quo. The relationship with Lebanon will improve instantly. Internal economic reforms will surely follow soon. There will be a lot of people attacking him. As I said earlier, saint this man is not. But, he is better than either the status quo or a nightmarish Fundamentalist zealot.

 
At 12/30/2005 07:47:00 PM, Blogger Vox Populi - Agent Provocateur said...

Technically, there's nothing new in this interview. But it's the first time that a top-Syrian official (Khaddam was Syria's president for a short time in 2000, at least nominally) incriminates his own country. Khaddam may be criminal, but you can't say that he's not credible. After all, he was the acting president of Syria for a short period.

Khaddam said that Ghazale was responsible for plundering the al-madina bank and said that Mehlis report was professional. This is a severe blow for Bashar and his clique. Another important point is that Khaddam said that he's planning to return to Syria and it's unclear what he meant by that (was he talking about a coup? Bashar's cousin has just been arrested in Beirut). More information here:Beirut to Beltway, Beirut Spring, the Lebanese political Journal, the Lebanese bloggers (a must read) and Letters apart (a very good summary of the interview). And don't miss Anton's masterpiece.

Khaddam's relationship with Rafic el Hariri is well-known. I can't be certain that the Hariri family is behind all this, but the fact that Khaddam's interview and the disclosure of Husam Husam's photos occured on the same day can't be a coincidence. Somebody is synchronizing this (the international commission, the Hariris, the US or France).

Moreover, you have to consider that all of this is happening amid a governmental crisis in Lebanon because Hezbollah is trying to block the formation of an international tribunal to try Syrian leaders. Hezbollah is in a really bad position now. Another coincidence

 
At 12/30/2005 07:55:00 PM, Blogger Vox Populi - Agent Provocateur said...

"Interesting developments indeed. Khaddam has been hiding in France and conspiring with Shihabi and Rifaat for months now. I guess he worked out a deal to become the next prez? ot maybe it's gonna be Rifaat?

Either way, this is a deadly blow to Bashar and his minions.

But you know what's sad about all of this? it's that we will no longer be able to eat at La Noisette or Opaline :) "

I agree with you DB (for once). Khaddam, Shihabi, Rifaat and maybe the late Kanaan havebeen plotting against Bashar for months (who knows where this list ends).

The strangest part of the interview is when Khaddam said that he's coming back to Syria soon. What did he mean by this?

 
At 12/30/2005 08:50:00 PM, Blogger EngineeringChange said...

JAM I believe you predicted the Assad regime will fall Feb 9 2006. Even after all these new developments, I think you still will be proven wrong....but only time can tell.

You know the problem with this new possible Khaddam-Shhabi alliance that you forget to mention Ehsani is the great liklihood if this alliance tries to take power that the status quo will not give up without a fight. I just don't see Bashar and Assef rolling over for anyone. A prolonged power struggle may be the worst case scenerio and unlikely to bring hope or vision. Best case scenerio is this shock brings about real great internal change quickly or a quick bloodless coup. So Activelistener, if and only if a quick coup would take place, then yes I would agree with Ehsani that hope and freedom could be found. Because this new group understands how the new world works. They would owe their power to American pressure and thus would play by America's rules. I doubt (and hope not) it would be a swap of Assad family for Khaddam and Shihabi family.

Vox I think you reading too much into the coming back to Syria soon comment. Granted I have not yet watched the interview, but I initially assumed he just meant to imply that he is not banished from the country because of his comments. ie I will return, I am no exile. Which fits with him saying he left with good terms with Bashar.

 
At 12/30/2005 09:21:00 PM, Blogger EHSANI2 said...

The first blistering attack on Khaddam is on: www.journaladdiyar.com
It is also on champress.net

 
At 12/30/2005 09:38:00 PM, Blogger Joseph ALi Mohammed said...

This post has been removed by a blog administrator.

 
At 12/30/2005 09:42:00 PM, Blogger Joseph ALi Mohammed said...

Here is a new stand by me from now on!

180 degrees shift, may be!


Hafez Assad brought around him all corrupt individuals who were accused at one time or another of corruption, and were being referred to a special court. Hafez Assad succeeded in his coup by bringing around him the "yes" men who had absolutely no personality of their own, and who wanted nothing else at the time but the opportunity to be in positions to get money and become wealthy. If I hated Hafez Assad for anything, I hated him first of all because of the people he brought around him, and the first one of those people was Abdel Halim Khadam.

Khadam accepted to be the servant of the regime, and he was silent on all that happened to Syrians during the Hafez Assad regime, by people Hafez Assad chose as his Yes men. This thief number one, and his children were criminals of the first degree in Syria, and when I see now that Bashar Assad has come into a fight with them, and reversed his father's policies and finally discovered who these despicable people are, I can not but stand on the side of Bashar Assad against them. For the first time, I call Bashar the President of Syria since he assumed the office.


Khadam speaks about the poor? Isn't this the latest joke? This man will go down into the trash, and soon.


JAM

 
At 12/30/2005 10:08:00 PM, Blogger EHSANI2 said...

As Khaddam stole, where was the President to punish him? Was it not the job of the President to enforce a society free of corruption? Assad senior obviously used his Sunni credentials to bolster his own regime. To be fair, Khaddam was a critical link to the Kingdom of S.Arabia. He was in charge of the Iran file in the 1980’s and by all accounts did an outstanding job. Will the Syrian machine attack his reputation? You bet. This man would not have taken this step if it were to constitute a mere TV interview. Undoubtedly, this is the start of significant events to follow.

 
At 12/30/2005 10:19:00 PM, Blogger ActiveListener said...

This post has been removed by a blog administrator.

 
At 12/30/2005 10:20:00 PM, Blogger Joseph ALi Mohammed said...

Sure, I said above, few times that Assad surrounded himself with corrupt people, a 100% corrupt, all of them without exception.

These Sunni so called "figure heads" had the role of giving Assad the legitmacy he needed, in exchange, he allwoed them to be thieves.

Do we reward them now, and think of them as heroes because , finally, they are reversing their stance?

This is what the Sunni so called Figureheads thieves thought: While they are in these high positions, the people do not blame them for whatever happens there, and the only ones to be blamed are the Alawis, whether corrupt or among the poorest, and even Alawis who were jailed opposing Assad, and who refused to accept any position in his regime, all while these Sunis enriched themselves, and are spared the blame because they are Sunnis.


What a better position one might ask? Thievery without being pointed fingure at, and the blame goes to all Alawis, whether they were pro, or anti Assad.

The Alawis who particpated in the Assad Regime were nothing but servants to those thieves in high positions, and yes, the Assad ruled, and did what they desired, but the people will hold them responsble one day, and that will not be the case for the genius Sunnis such as Khadam, the chief thief among them all.

 
At 12/30/2005 10:29:00 PM, Blogger ActiveListener said...

Stop spinning JAM. No need to take sides - you need to blast mega turbocharged water jets at both sides if you want to clean up Syria. Vicious dog eating dog eating dog, with younger pups peeing on lamp posts, snarling and biting the old dogs. Animal kingdom stuff, just like any mafia crime family brawling for territory and loot.

They are all damaged goods that can't be repaired or repackaged. Brain scans would reveal that.

Above all they have fixed tendencies for violence, lies and cold contempt for human beings.

 
At 12/30/2005 10:44:00 PM, Blogger EHSANI2 said...

Rustom Ghazale is a Sunni. I don't think this qualifies him to be above the fray. Khaddam had never assumed internal security positions. This makes it less likely to for him to be accused as having blood on his hands. His only problem is that he is too wealthy having profited from his position in this disastrous Baath party rule. Please name me one who has not. Let us get real. There is no Jefferson in the offing. Anyone who stands up to Bashar needs to be recognized, tough, nationalistic, experianced, has international contacts and appear to represent a large majority of the population.
The fact is that there is only one person out there. Bashar must be regretting not seeing him commit suicide earlier.

 
At 12/30/2005 10:47:00 PM, Blogger Joseph ALi Mohammed said...

Well, Active listener; This is the first time some one describes Bashar Assad from the inside, and what Khadam said about Bashar Assad made me change my opinion about him. I think I can give him now the benefit of the doubt after what I heard from Khadam. Bashar Assad according to Khadam is a man who is trying to take decisions out of emotions, unlike his father who was unemotional, cold blooded, and that is to me a big difference and may be the guy is good.

 
At 12/30/2005 10:51:00 PM, Blogger EHSANI2 said...

JAM,

If making hasty and emotional decisions qualifies a man in his thirties to rule a country of 20 million people, I have a long list of other candidates. Men should be judged by their records. Even if one tries his best, I think it is very hard to accumulate a worse list of accomplishments in five years.

 
At 12/30/2005 10:54:00 PM, Blogger Joseph ALi Mohammed said...

Not at all, but, listen to every thing he spoke about Bashar, and about the fact that the decisions he is taking are not coming from the outside, imposed on him...the man is at least trying to rid Syria from old timers such as Khadam, and he succeeded. That is a great plus!

 
At 12/30/2005 11:04:00 PM, Blogger EHSANI2 said...

I think that you are giving him way too much credit. Taking five years to get rid of a man with zero military power base over five years is an presidential accomplishment? This myth of old guard verus the new reformers is the biggest sham of all.

 
At 12/30/2005 11:16:00 PM, Blogger Joseph ALi Mohammed said...

This post has been removed by a blog administrator.

 
At 12/30/2005 11:18:00 PM, Blogger Joseph ALi Mohammed said...

Well, I refuse to recognize Khadam as anything but an opportunist thief, and I have absolutely no respect for him, and no desire to take advantage of his move to change the regime. He is much worse than Bashar.

A man who is unashamed to speak about Syria's poor compared to the few rich, and citing two examples of two small employees who got from $4 million to $8 millions while speaking from his $50 million palace, and we all know how much money he was making..you may say that Harir gave him that palace, though he has a lot more than that palace, but one may wonder why Hariri gave him that palace? Hariri must be more corrupt than this gang for sure to offer bribes like that!


Any way, the following is a great article:

http://elaph.com/ElaphWeb/Politics/2005/12/116890.htm

Saturday, December 31, 2005

 
At 12/30/2005 11:41:00 PM, Blogger Vox Populi - Agent Provocateur said...

I think that the Syrians will learn tomorrow that Khaddam has been a zionist agent for 40 years, like Elie Cohn.

Some laughs in perspectice.

 
At 12/30/2005 11:45:00 PM, Blogger Vox Populi - Agent Provocateur said...

JAM, you seem to think that Bashar is a good man now. Bashar only removed Khaddam to replace him by his own corrupt men. No need to exult about that. It's only gang fighting each other.

 
At 12/30/2005 11:47:00 PM, Blogger ActiveListener said...

Guys, you cannot dress up a donkey and have it streak in to win the grand derby.

These men cannot seriously be considered candidates to build and lead a modern economy with inclusive democracy and rule of law. They just can't, and won't GET IT. No matter how much they try to act the part.

There are some good examples in Africa of former military types being reborn and winning elections to become heads of state with lots of applause, assistance and encouragement from the west. But when the pressure is on, whoops, they they go, calling out the troops to massacre their own citizens, appointing semi-literate, corrupt cronies to key postions and so on.

As I said, a brain scan would show up the difference.

 
At 12/31/2005 01:53:00 AM, Blogger shamee27 said...

You guys are giving Khadam the benefit of doubt?!!!
Lets not forget who he is, he served his masters for many years, he watched thousands of Syrians being slaughtered on the hand of his master and did not do anything about it.
To him this is an opportunity to gain power if he was genuine he should have done that many years ago.
I am Sunni and I despise those Sunni who served the Asad family more than i hate the Asad family itself.

 
At 12/31/2005 05:35:00 AM, Blogger Innocent_Criminal said...

This post has been removed by a blog administrator.

 
At 12/31/2005 05:38:00 AM, Blogger Innocent_Criminal said...

Well people in Damascus have known about Khaddam's defection for weeks it seems. Thats why i asked about the subject 11 days ago in the previous post on Dec 18. http://faculty-staff.ou.edu/L/Joshua.M.Landis-1/syriablog/2005/12/ali-abdullah-interviewed-by-hugh.htm#comments

Khadam is serving his own intrests. he is switching masters now, while Riyadh has always been his 2nd home starting yesterday it has become his 1st. But since it does not seem to be too safe or polite to live there he, Shehabi and his Lebanese counterparts are plotting in Paris. If (and i doubt that it will) the Ba'ath government falls, Khaddam will not be allowed to make a return. He is too close to the party and the people know him very well. And thats why his interview will be discredited ASAP. His granddaughter drives a porsche in damascus for god's sakes. If he was slightly brighter he would have kept his mouth shut regarding corruption. Oh well maybe it was a gift from King Fahed

 
At 12/31/2005 06:28:00 AM, Blogger Joseph ALi Mohammed said...

ActiveListener summarized the situation as follows, and that is really all:

""Guys, you cannot dress up a donkey and have it streak in to win the grand derby.

These men cannot seriously be considered candidates to build and lead a modern economy with inclusive democracy and rule of law. They just can't, and won't GET IT. No matter how much they try to act the part.

There are some good examples in Africa of former military types being reborn and winning elections to become heads of state with lots of applause, assistance and encouragement from the west. But when the pressure is on, whoops, they they go, calling out the troops to massacre their own citizens, appointing semi-literate, corrupt cronies to key postions and so on.

As I said, a brain scan would show up the difference."""

 
At 12/31/2005 10:25:00 AM, Blogger Innocent_Criminal said...

Just heard on BBC that the Syrian parliament just unanimously requested Khaddam to be prosecuted for high treason. the stakes have been raised, my crystal balls says that khaddam will be conducting another interview to spill some more beans. probably with another Saudi media outlet...hmmmmm al hayat? maybe I should start a betting pool

 
At 12/31/2005 10:52:00 AM, Blogger shamee27 said...

Syrian parliament?!!! what a joke. I was not aware that syria has got a parliament. Maybe you ment (majles al shaeb)or maybe majles al 7aramya more like

 
At 12/31/2005 11:51:00 AM, Blogger EHSANI2 said...

Bashar makes another rash decision. By “ordering” his parliament to prosecute Khaddam for high treason in less than 24 hours since the interview only goes to show the panic that surrounds this regime at present. Rather than ignoring Khaddam and branding him a liar in exile and hence not worth responding to, they do the opposite. They want to try him on the grounds that he directly implicated the President in the Harriri murder. Another massive mistake by this confused President and his inept advisor.

 
At 12/31/2005 12:28:00 PM, Blogger KarimHalab said...

In the meantime, I found a comment posted earlier by Ehsani very interesting: a Khadam-Shihabi ticket to take over from the Assad-Shawkat ticket. This would be a favourable outcome to the current status quo due to many reasons:
-Khadam-Shihabi are far from being un-corrupt, but again who in the Syrian government is not? So branding them as “thiefs” is simply ideaological and not practical. Politics is about pragmatism!!
-Khadam was the architect of Syria’s relations with the Arab world and with Iran as well. Having him in power would help improve these relations. Even though I think Iran would have its reservations (given his comment on the Nasrallah during the interview and probably his playing on the Sunni factor). The fact that he is now in Paris and is close to the French corridors of power would also be helpful to restore the relations between Syria and Europe in general. If he is to return to power, that would be in large part due to the French. As a result of this, the EU Association agreement could become news again and hopefully signed asap.
-Shihabi on the other hand has always been known to be the US’s man in Damascus. He would help repair some of the damage made over the last years. In addition, he is the man would directly negotiated with the Israelis, and has left good impressions and relations with them (refer to the book of Dennis Ross, The Missing Peace). His return to a power position would have a positive effect on this front and probably push the peace negotiations back to the table. The man can play the role of a Musharraf-like figure in the country, backing the “political” establishment led by Khadam.
-On the domestic front, let’s see what Khadam has to present, Bashar Assad was given an opportunity and he blew it, why not try something else? Bashar Assad and company aren’t any more honest than Khadam and company! So if all are equally corrupt, let’s at least have an efficient corrupt lot rather than a corrupt lot that keeps dragging the country further and further down! In addition, once given his chance to present his “reforms”, the Syrians need to follow up on this and keep some sort of pressure. The French would be watching closely and it would be helpful to use this leverage to push internally for reforms.
The real point of concern in this scenario is what would Rifaat Assad’s role be? If he is part of the ticket then this scenario would be not accepted by the Syrian people. Let’s see what happens!

But in an election with three tickets:
1-B. Assad-Shawkat
2-Khadam-Shihabi
3-Muslim Brothers

My vote would go to number 2!!

 
At 12/31/2005 12:59:00 PM, Blogger Yabroud said...

Dream on!!


Khadam's fate is sealed. It is not a good fate.

If Assad is getting rid of people like Khadam, it means that he is finally in the right path!

 
At 12/31/2005 01:03:00 PM, Blogger Vox Populi - Agent Provocateur said...

I fully agree with Karim Halab. An internal coup is the best option for Syria.

 
At 12/31/2005 01:06:00 PM, Blogger EHSANI2 said...

Karimhalab,

Your point on Iran is well taken given his comment on Shias. One should not forget, however, that it was Khaddam who handled the Iran file in 1980, and did so very well.
Given his lack of a military base, there are two scenarios:
1- It is indeed Shihabi that will assume that responsibility.
2- A group of Alawi officers are ready to join from the inside.
Either way, having few Alwais join is critical to avoid Sunni- Alawi strife.
You make very good points by emphasizing the fact that we all have to think in practical terms. This option for Syria is the best available choice. It is not Nirvana by any means but let us stop the utopian idea that a saint is going to drop from the sky and rescue this country. Were this man to make it through, he will have an enormous opportunity to limit the downside risks while he turns the country from its current collapse into the abyss. For the record, the economy will stand to benefit significantly. With Lebanese and Syrian relations on better footing coupled with French and Saudi blessing, the country stands ready to benefit tremendously. Given the panic in Damascus, I think the regime knows how serious this development is. On a final note, the attention has now moved all the way to the President himself when it comes to the Harriri murder. It is no longer about Maher and Asef while Bashar was taking an afternoon nap. The interview, as well as the parliament itself is now talking about an accusation of the president himself. This is very noteworthy indeed.

 
At 12/31/2005 01:41:00 PM, Blogger Syrian Republican Party said...

"الدخل الصافي السنوي للتركتين يعادل 700 مليون دولار،"

Anyone please can tell us what this Arabic word للتركتين in English.

 
At 12/31/2005 01:45:00 PM, Blogger Yabroud said...

"""I fully agree with Karim Halab. An internal coup is the best option for Syria."""


Vox, you made me laugh!

You think you are some genius, huh? So, you decided to have an internal coup, and it is the best for Syria? Ok, fine, move your forces or your agents today..

hahahhaha

 
At 12/31/2005 01:46:00 PM, Blogger EHSANI2 said...

I believe the word refer to "Estates"

 
At 12/31/2005 01:47:00 PM, Blogger Yabroud said...

"""I fully agree with Karim Halab. An internal coup is the best option for Syria."""


Vox, you made me laugh!

You think you are some genius, huh? So, you decided to have an internal coup, and it is the best for Syria? Ok, fine, move your forces or your agents today..

hahahhaha

 
At 12/31/2005 01:52:00 PM, Blogger EHSANI2 said...

SRP. I belive the word means "estates" or your networth at the time of death to be precise

 
At 12/31/2005 01:55:00 PM, Blogger Vox Populi - Agent Provocateur said...

Dr Landis where are you???

Yabroud, I am happy for you if you laugh. You don't have a lot of opportunities to laugh in Syria so enjoy the moment. But you should know that I don't have any secret agent in Syria (sorry to disappoint you, but I am just an ordinary citizen).

An internal coup in Syria is the best thing that can happen to Lebanon (and that's all what matters, isn't it?).

 
At 12/31/2005 02:01:00 PM, Blogger ActiveListener said...

That's one scenario, saddle up donkeys and hope they can stay calm and on track. That they won't resist the heavy lifting required to govern without corruption and inertia propped up by a police state/personality cult and bolt back to their instinctive ways.

The other scenario - which probably requires some radical upheaval or lightning change of pace - is that Syrians are invited to vote like Iraqis. And that they find all sorts of interesting options and people emerge that would swiftly eclipse Karimhalab's 1, 2 and 3 ticket.

Maybe there are some Syrian racehorses out there who don't even realise their own capabilities and potential until they have the chance to race. And maybe they will find they attract unexpected trainers and patrons and others to cheer them on and join them on the track.

Or maybe not. But elections can bring out some interesting and unexpected things in a country and its people.

 
At 12/31/2005 02:01:00 PM, Blogger Syrian Republican Party said...

TY

 
At 12/31/2005 02:07:00 PM, Blogger shamee27 said...

Yabroud, how many more the Asada family needs to kill ?
Do you remember the joke about Sadam and Tariq aziz? The V SIGN JOKE
I think this joke will suite Bashar and Asaf shwket situation( NO MR ASAD YOU DID NOT WIN ONLY YOU I LEFT ALONE...)

 
At 12/31/2005 02:49:00 PM, Blogger Joseph ALi Mohammed said...

The big joke is for poor Syrians to rally around the chief thief when he speaks about their misery, and the enrichment of the few. Any one with such an attitude like him deserves nothing less than being despised to say the least.

I have witnessed throughout the years the "coming out" of old thieves from this regime to become agggressive in their hatred of it, more than the real victims of the regime, and more than these poor they speak about. Why? I think it is the psychology of man, when he is used to be fed and his hands left free to steal and eat out of what he can steal, stopping this will make him furious and very hateful. This is so in politics, but even in simple life, if you keep giving a man food and money all of the time, and suddenly, you withhold it from him, he becomes your number one enemy, forgetting how good you were with him. Human beings such as Khadam deserve spitting in their faces, and not allow them to become "heroes" to the poor they have so much victimized, themsleves. A man who hated his country to the extent he brought poisonous materials to be burried in its soil, causing cancer even to his relatives in Banias, must really be hating his own country more than we can imagine. This man is despicable, and deserves no honour.


JAM

 
At 12/31/2005 03:14:00 PM, Blogger ActiveListener said...

Very well put JAM. Another dimension to my theory on brain scans for people who have been part of regimes like the Asads - you would find sinister formations that cannot be changed or concealed for long.

 
At 12/31/2005 03:24:00 PM, Blogger EHSANI2 said...

So we all prefer to have a man with a squeaky clean and unblemished record. We want to him to be a champion pf civil rights, promote democracy, have a vision, protect and care for the poor, have no ties to the current corrupt regime, have the power to hold the country together, have him to be a strong nationalist and not a puppet of the west. Once we find this man, we want him to be capable of going over to the Presidential Palace and asking Bashar to call it a day. Can we try to get real?

 
At 12/31/2005 03:36:00 PM, Blogger Joseph ALi Mohammed said...

Get real?

Are you kidding?

So, you think Khadam will liberate Syrians?

Dream on then. This man was chosen by Hafez Assad because he was an ass licker, weak, only wanted to get rich, and had no personality to stand on his own. Such were the so called men of the regime, except perhaps, Rifaat Assad who was more a man than all of them, but he was the brother of Hafez, and Hafez would trust him of course.., but Hafez never trusted a real man. Real men were jailed until they died, and this is no secret. You want a pimp to be Syria's liberator? I don't.

Thank you.

JAM

 
At 12/31/2005 03:51:00 PM, Blogger ActiveListener said...

ehsani2, yes of course. But I believe we cannot always know what is going to turn out to be real and future reality.

That was my thoughts in April when I saw with my own eyes the endless truckloads of Syrian troops coming out of Lebanon.

And even if all Syrians end up at the polling booths they might bring on someone no better than in Iran, a man who the opposition leader there describes as sleepwalking his country towards war.

All I say is I hope Syrians will not slip into humming variations of the song "If you can't be with the one you love, love the one you're with"

 
At 12/31/2005 04:04:00 PM, Blogger EHSANI2 said...

JAM,

Please describe to us who precisely you prefer and how you exactly see that person take over? Let us keep practicality in and dreams of Nirvana out for the time being. Without an army to back you up and/or support from outside (KSA/Egypt/France/USa), talk of change is simply a dream. I would still be interested in hearing who your candidate would be.

 
At 12/31/2005 04:31:00 PM, Blogger KarimHalab said...

JAM,

Nonone on this forum is suggesting that Khadam is "Da Man" or the reincarnation of the Prophet!! Far from this, but with all his traits (bad or good), he does provide an alternative (a credible one) to the status quo (that you do not support if I understand you correctly). The question the Ehsani is asking (and all the other Syrians too)is the folowing: according to you (or your vision of things), and given the current constraints (internal power balances, international and regional condiserations, and all other realistic ingredients that create or destroy a political administration) who/what do you propose?
-Assads? (the point is getting rid of them)
-Khadam (not "man" enough)
-MBs (you seem more supportive of a secular administration)
-the pre-Assad people? (either dead or in jail or out of hte game)
-Ghadry? (I can't recall your stand on him)

Who exactly (and more importantly realistically) do you suggest/support?

One the traits of the Syrian personality (or malformation as you presented it), is the
automatic rejection of propositions without offering any alternative. Why not try being a little pragmatic vs idealistic and going nowhere? I'd love to hear your program or vision of things, and not the idealistic one, we all have these and they do not differ too much, but how do you think we should get there - bearing in mind the realities of this world? This is not only a question to JAM, but to all.

 
At 12/31/2005 04:35:00 PM, Blogger ActiveListener said...

I have discovered that national events and history are not different from what happens in our own personal lives - we never really see ahead people and circumstances that come and change things for us, for the better or worse.

Who knows, maybe even some future political Syrian racehorses or their associates could be reading Syriacomment this moment without even knowing their own future.

I just read a commentary in the UK Financial Times (December 26) “The rise, fall and rise of political Islam” that’s a reminder of unexpected outcomes in politics and unknowns ahead.

Here is the link, http://news.ft.com/cms/s/3fef07a8-7746-11da-a7d1-0000779e2340.html

If it does not work I can post the article.

 
At 12/31/2005 04:50:00 PM, Blogger Joseph ALi Mohammed said...

Yes, you needed subscription to the FT to be able to read it. Here it is anyway. Thanks.

_________________________________

The rise, fall and rise of political Islam
http://news.ft.com/cms/s/3fef07a8-7...00779e2340.html

When the US proclaimed a new dedication to promoting democracy in the Middle East, Arab liberal activists were the first to cheer. But as regimes took note of their American ally's determination and grudgingly adopted limited political reforms, the pro-western liberals were left in tears. For every little opening has confirmed what the liberals should have known all along: that Islamist movements remain the only potent opposition to existing rulers.


Several years after politicians and pundits declared the failure of political Islam to change the Middle East political order, Islamist parties are again asserting their influence. The Muslim Brotherhood's impressive performance in this month's Egyptian legislative elections was only the latest indication of an Islamist resurgence seen this year from the Gulf to the Levant. Their success is the inevitable outcome of the failure of bankrupt regimes to adopt genuine liberalisation and their attempts to prevent the emergence of secular alternatives to their rule.

It was only 15 years ago that an Islamist party swept the first round of Algeria's parliamentary elections in a powerful protest against decades of corruption and squandering of oil and gas resources. Dismayed by the rise of the Islamic Salvation Front (Fis), world leaders applauded the army's decision to cancel the second round of voting.

As Algeria descended into civil war, the Fis was eventually defeated. Islamist parties elsewhere in the Arab world scaled down their ambitions and, by the end of the 1990s, political Islam appeared to have tried and failed to shake up the Arab political order.

The perception of an Islamist decline was reinforced in the aftermath of the September 11 terrorist attacks. A minority of religious fanatics declared war on the western world and the mainstream groups such as the Muslim Brotherhood were forced on the defensive. In the name of the "war on terror", Arab rulers found a new excuse to repress Islamist dissidents.

But September 11 also introduced another vital change in US policy: a belated recognition that authoritarianism was a cause of religious extremism. As the US pressed its allies to democratise, Islamists have emerged again as the only organised opposition force.

In Egypt's recent parliamentary elections, Muslim Brotherhood candidates won 88 out of 444 contested seats (compared with only 15 seats in the previous parliament). In Saudi Arabia early this year, a very limited democratic experiment saw Islamist candidates win a sweeping majority.

Over the summer, Hizbollah, Lebanon's militant movement, used parliamentary elections to consolidate its position as the leading representative of the Shia community. Then, for the first time, it joined the government. Hamas, meanwhile, is expected to do well in next year's elections to the Palestinian legislative council, challenging the mainstream Fatah movement.

Iraqi elections are a special case, following a US invasion that removed a dictatorship. But, there too, Islamists have filled the political vacuum. Shia Islamists won a parliamentary majority and the same coalition is poised to emerge after the December 15 vote as the most powerful force in parliament.

Outside Iraq and to a certain extent Palestine, elections remain a well-controlled exercise in democracy. For now, a strong showing at the polls translates into increased Islamist influence but not yet into political control. But some liberal intellectuals are already quietly joining governments in calling on the US to tone down its enthusiasm for democracy.

Yet this would be a grave mistake. The Islamists are part of the future of the region and their participation in the political process remains the best hope of moderating their often radical views. The challenge they pose should be addressed through deeper, though gradual, political reforms that lift restrictions on all political parties, secular and Islamist, and encourage higher participation in elections.

International pressure should also be applied on regimes to reform themselves into more honest and responsible governments. When the only choice is between a corrupt regime and an untested Islamist party promising social justice, many voters will inevitably be swayed by the utopia of a religious message.

____________________________

 
At 1/09/2006 02:16:00 PM, Blogger Yabroud said...

..

 

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