Category Archives: Syria

Political Advertisement: Syrian Uprising Spills over into Lebanon…………

Gangs of supporters of Syrian President Bashar Assad armed with whips and clubs assaulted a small anti-regime protest in front of the Syrian Embassy in the Lebanese capital of Beirut, leaving several injured. According to accounts of the victims, mostly Lebanese activists and members of civil society organizations, gathered in front of the embassy Tuesday night to show support for those killed by Assad’s gunmen in the Syrian city of Hama when groups of men began striking them and whipping them with belts……. “It was all planned. They came, started chanting for Bashar and then started getting closer to us,” said Saad Kurdi, one of the anti-regime protestors. “We didn’t provoke them. As they chanted ‘We sacrifice ourselves for you, Bashar,’ we chanted over them, ‘We sacrifice for you, Syria,’ and then they attacked us.” Demonstrators blamed the Lebanese Syrian Socialist Nationalist Party, known for being closely aligned with the increasingly isolated Baathist regime in Damascus, for inciting Syrian laborers around the neighborhood to attack them. Lebanon is home to a large community of Syrians who work in construction and many other blue-collar jobs.…………

It was bound to happen. Lebanese unrest has always spilled into Syria in some way, and Syrian unrest has now reached Lebanon. The Lebanese parties are divided between pro-regime (Syrian regime) like Hezbollah and General Michel Aoun and opponents of the regime like the Phalangists and the Hariri allies. There are also some ethnic racist elements: some Lebanese tend to look down on Syrians who work in their country and there have been incidents of mob attacks and abuses. On the other hand the Syrians controlled Lebanon from 1976 until 2005. Oddly, the Syrian forces entered Lebanon during the civil war in order to prevent the defeat of some of the right-wing parties that are now strongly anti-Syrian.
About the chant of “We sacrifice ourselves for you, Bashar,“: this is common in Arab states, where dictators or absolute monarchs have their paid agents march and chant. The late Saddam Hussein used the chant extensively on the streets of Baghdad and Amman. Nobody would sacrifice their lives for any Arab leader: it is all like the advertisements one sees on television, all paid for (like soap or Corona or Pepsi).

Cheers
mhg




m.h.ghuloum@gmail.com

Syria: Revolution or Reform……..

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The Syrian Ba’athist regime of Bashar al-Assad says it wants to reform but the ‘opposition’ says it is not enough and anyway it might be too little too late. Arab regimes are divided: some want the Assad regime to remain because it is their ally (Iran, Hezbollah, possibly Iraq), others want the Assad regime to fall for the same reason the three mentioned earlier want it to remain in power, yet others reluctantly want it to remain because they fear the unknown alternative (Israel, Saudi Arabia, Turkey). Syria is potentially the most explosive case among Arab states facing revolt: it is almost impossible to predict what will replace the Assad regime, and the regional stakes for all concerned are far greater than in Libya or Tunisia. Assad is close to Iran but that does not mean the next regime will be closer to Saudi Arabia or to the West, or necessarily more hostile to Iran. Or less hostile, or more hostile, to Israel. The opposition itself is divided, depending on geography to some extent. They can’t seem to bring out the type of masses seen in Egypt and Tunisia.
Complicated, but the killings have to stop, for the Syrian people deserve to have their say and vote freely for their government. As should ALL Arab peoples have that right.
Cheers
mhg




m.h.ghuloum@gmail.com

Political Nirvana: Hillary Clinton Writes to the Saudi People about Freedom for Syrians…….

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U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton has penned a column for the Saudi daily Asharq Alawsat (owned by Prince Salman Bin Abdulaziz al-Saud). Her topic is the Syrian uprising against the Assad regime and is titled “No return to the Status Quo Ante in Syria”.
She assures the Saudi people, and any other Arabs who might read that daily, that the Bahraini Saudi Syrian people deserve freedom and the right to choose their own government, that they deserve dignity and freedom from fear. She also said that Bahrain Syria deserves a government that respects the people and seeks a unified and democratic nation…..
Like Mr. Obama in his last speech, she neglected to mention Saudi Arabia and the people of the Arabian Peninsula. They both believe in the principle of selective non-interference in the internal affairs of other nations, and hence she did not mention Occupied Bahrain or Saudi Arabia or the UAE where many people are languishing in prison for expressing their opinion. Or maybe they believe that the peoples in these absolute tribal monarchies have already attained political Nirvana or, worse, they don’t believe these people deserve what the peoples of other Arab countries (and Iran) deserve.
It is true, not as many people have been killed in most the Gulf states than in Syria or Libya or Egypt. Except for Bahrain where proportionally as much if not more have been killed than in some of the others, given the small population of native Bahrainis and the 33 killed and dozens still “missing”.
Cheers
mhg




m.h.ghuloum@gmail.com

Is it Syria in Exchange for Bahrain? the Arba’een………….

     
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The West, especially the United States government, have been quite silent over the oppression and the reign of terror going on in Bahrain. The reactions have been mild, calling for a end of violence by “both sides” and dialog. The US even accepted the Saudi invasion of Bahrain, which raises the question of what would the US say if Iranian troops had landed in Damascus at the invitation of Bashar al-Assad. Of course that will not happen.
On the other hand, the US has been almost muted about the protests in Syrian cities. Ironically, it is the Saudis, through their vast controlled media, who have been calling for reforms in Syria. The Saudis would not recognize reform if it kissed every prince on the nose (as we might say in the Gulf). They mean their kind of “reform” which means a regime that is as subservient to the al-Saud dynasty as Mubarak was, as subservient as Hariri in Lebanon or al-Khalifa in Bahrain have been (or even maybe as the al-Nahayan in Abu Dhabi seem to be nowadays).
In any case, shifts in Syria or the Gulf would be game changers in the region, and there seems to be an understanding that real change in these two regions is not acceptable, yet. Hence Syria will most likely suppress its uprising and institute some reforms with international blessing. Hence Bahrain has called in foreign invaders to suppress its uprising, with Western blessing.
I can be wrong about both: the Syrian uprising may gather steam, and the Bahrain uprising may regain its momentum as the forty-day (arba’een) anniversary of the first regime killings arrives.
Cheers
mhg

m.h.ghuloum@gmail.com

Goebbels of Arabia: A Feudal Lesson in Democracy………..

     
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No doubt suppression will buy the regime, any regime, more time, but it will not lead to safety. The simplest examples are those of Saddam’s Iraq and Mu’ammar Qaddafi. They tried all methods of oppression, but the time for change came… Can Damascus continue to try a journalist for weakening national resolve or a teenage blogger for threatening national security? This cannot continue in view of recent changes in our region….. If Egypt becomes truly democratic it may limit presidential terms, and the same may happen in Tunisia and Libya. Can the Syrian regime then remain the only static case in the face of all this change?….. Developments from which Syria cannot be isolated say that Syria has no choice but to do more reforms, It is time for Damascus to start some real reforms in allowing political parties and term limits……There are no magical solutions but real reform…….

You might think this paragraph was written by someone who is a devout republican democrat, someone who believes in power to the people. It was not: on the contrary, it was written by a spokesman for the Saudi regime. It was written by Tareq al-Humaid, the chief editor of Saudi semi-official daily Asharq Alawsat, owned by Prince Salman. I would not call him Goebbels: that would be a flattery.
These people truly believe that everybody around them can reform and democratize (except Bahrain under its apartheid), but that they should maintain a feudal system in the Arabian Peninsula. An anomaly: a most backward system anywhere in the 21st century. To read him agonize about people power and democracy and term limits, you’d think their absolute king is about to announce a new republic, the princes to give up their power. These people truly believe they are entitled to maintain their own system of absolute one-family feudal rule even as they urge others to reform. They never asked Bin Ali or Mubarak or the al-Khalifa to reform, but they are eager for Assad to do so. It is true that Syria is a dictatorship that should open up and allow free elections of its leaders. But the peoples of the Arabian Peninsula and Bahrain and the UAE and Qatar also deserve the same freedoms (so do the Iranians).
Truly a case of a pot calling a kettle black.
Cheers
mhg

m.h.ghuloum@gmail.com