Wednesday, December 21, 2011

A gun kills people, a camera kills a nation

I am happy to publish the first guest post on this blog. @Amani_Lebanon, my dear friend from Twitter, has exclusively written the following article.

Syria. It's been nine months. Nine months of sanctions, nine months of deaths in vain, nine months of propaganda, nine months of eye witnesses, of riots and rallies, of ''peaceful'' and ''armed'' protestors. Still, we question ourselves, who is speaking the truth? Who spits out the lies? What is really happening in Syria?

Ignore what you have heard so far and take a look at this picture. This is the support of the ''torture machine'', the ''child killer'', ''the evil dictator'', this is the support of a tyrant. It comes as no surprise to me that this support is coming from just ONE Syrian province. 

the masses are us: Bashar al-Assad

We have brains, we can think for ourselves, why should we let the Arab League think for us? Why should we let the media think for us? Al Jazeera specifically, this channel didn't hesitate to air pro-NATO propaganda regarding Libya, it didn't hesitate to air a video of the violence in Lebanon (2005), claiming it was ''Syria’s violent army''. I cannot find a reason why it should be a credible source of information for Syria. The media's intentions are clear. Bahrain is only kilometers away from Al Jazeera's office in Doha, but AJ's covering of the ongoing protests in Bahrain is weak, IF there is and was any. And although Al Jazeera is not allowed in Syria, Syria is always on its headlines. 

Every single day, hundreds of people are dying, we are told, but there is no proof whatsoever. The media has been airing protests in Syria non stop, everyday, blurry, unclear and the camera will not stop shaking, filmed from afar. How do we know these are really Syrians? How do we know this is actually in Syria? Have you never wondered how they show you videos of people being cut up and sliced mercilessly by the Syrian army, yet the camera is less than three meters away? Why doesn't the army attack the camera man? Why would the army be comfortable with showing the world what they were doing if they really were doing that? Common sense plays a large role in challenging the narrative of the media. Why won't any of the foreign media air a pro-Assad rally? MASS rallies these are, but they refuse to show them; you can see the people's faces, clearly, you see the flags, you see the area, and you know that this...This is Syria. Al Jazeera kept reporting that 900'000 people were attending a protest rally; yet experts know that the population in this particular province doesn't exceed 2 millions. 

The intentions of the opposition is clear, according to Burhan Ghalioun's (head of SNC) statement about cutting ties with Iran, Hezbollah AND Hamas in case he gets into power; note that Hamas has not taken a stance with president Bashar al-Assad or the regime, so why vow to cut ties with it? To secure Israel's safety? To weaken the axis of resistance? For what, precisely? If Assad would wake up tomorrow and cut his ties with Hezbollah, Hamas and Iran: Syria's problems would be resolved immediately. The regime is undoubtedly a headache to the Western backed regimes of the Middle East and the West itself. The Arab League preaches human rights for Syria, but fails to see the deaths in Bahrain or Yemen, it fails to meet for Gaza and the West Bank, it fails to condemn Israel over Palestinian deaths, but it is able to meet for Syria every week to discuss how to put a seige on it. But when will they meet to discuss how to pull the siege off Gaza strip? Well, they have no interests there. 

Are the protesters' intentions still 'democracy' and 'freedom of speech'? The Syrian president vowed for reforms, he also held elections; they still opposed and condemned it. The president started his reforms by dismissing his old government and forming a new one. Killing security forces and chopping them up, then claiming the army did it (with no evidence) doesn't serve 'democracy'. Neither does ''el 3alawiyye 3ala el taboot wel masi7iyye 3ala Beirut'' (Alawis to their coffins and Christians to Beirut) serve democracy. Those were chants in anti-government protests, coming from the same people who ask and plead for democracy. Democracy? Yes, as long as you agree with them. There are opposition members preaching for a 'no-fly zone over Syria' when there never was an air force being used in the first place. What and who is exactly flying over Syria then? Or do they mean a ''we-fly zone''?

We keep hearing that the protests are 'peaceful', yet we have children like Sari who are brutally tortured and killed by the same 'peaceful' protestors; Sari's mother and uncle were witnessing his murder. Unless the protestors are unarmed and protesting without being violent, you cannot call their protest 'peaceful'. When they start using weapons, you have to rightfully call them 'armed gangs'. Compare the protests in Tunisia - calling for the fall of the regime, calling for freedom - to a protest calling for the hanging of the president, death to Alawis (an sect of which the president belongs to) and the departure of Christians. This is being provocative, not 'peaceful'.

Does it hit us as a surprise that Israel, the US government, the Arab League and Saudi Arabia support the SNC? The same country that massacres Palestinians on a daily basis. The same government that invaded Iraq, displacing 4 million, leaving 4.5 million orphans, torturing and sucking every last bit out of Iraq’s freedom, God bless America..... The very same league that left Lebanese to die in July 2006, blaming Hezbollah for the relentless assault on Lebanon and basically siding with Israel. The same league that neglected the Gaza strip and again blamed Hamas in 2008 for being bombarded to rubble by Israel. The same Saudi Arabia that oppresses women and has zero freedom of speech, tortures dissidents and is backed by all of the above. All these groups and communities are opposing the same regime that supported Hamas in 2008, that was was one of the few to strongly oppose Israel regardless of how much it would cost them; the same regime that took Lebanese in and gave them homes with no costs, supporting Lebanon with weapons, morally, and socially against Israel. These countries are opposing the same government that sheltered more than 1 million refugees from Iraq by 2008. 

I ask again, why won’t these same people that oppose the Assad regime so strongly, why won't they oppose the al-Khalifas of Bahrain? Are their intentions meant for the love of the Syrian people or do they intend to replace a resistance government with a puppet government by Western mercy? Their mission failed in Iraq, now they have come to Syria to impose their plans. They own the media, but is this news? The Syrians will foil this conspiracy if they raise awareness. 

As George Orwell once said: ''During times of universal deceit, telling the truth becomes a revolutionary act''.

For the true story of Sari Saoud, please follow this link to

Sunday, December 18, 2011

50 Words for Dignity

This week, Time magazine announced its 2011 person of the year: the protester. Protests were this year's defining motion in North Africa, the Middle East, Europe and even in the United States with the Occupy movement. Like waking up from a long sleep, disenchanted persons all over the world started to express their anger toward corrupt and ineffectual governments. The protesters are hungry for fair societies that have the people's needs on top of their agendas and they are fed up with governments and structures of power that cater only to the members of these exclusive clubs.

Two regimes down - Tunisia and Libya - and still counting: the Time magazine's editors correctly challenged the idea swirling around in springtime that Egypt had actually seen a revolution and was on its way to a full democratic recovery. As of now, we are far from this condition. Egypt is still in a pre-revolutionary phase, having seen President Mubarak ousted as a result of a military coup, masked by 300'000 protesters on Tahrir square, and being replaced by General Tantawi who calls the shots in Egypt since February 12. 

I was shocked to see the pictures coming from Tahrir square yesterday, December 17. What a humiliation to the person of the year 2011! Protesters, male and female, beaten, dragged, assaulted, even when they were already knocked down to the ground. A female protester lying on the asphalt, almost stripped naked, with a soldier kicking her breasts, adding injury to insult. Who are these men, these soldiers, these policemen? Who are their mothers, how were they brought up? Who and what fired up their rage? How much must be at stake for them, for their bosses, so they crush any idea of regime change so brutally. How distorted their minds must be to act so savagely on a very personal level - against their fellow Egyptians (although they don't recognize the protesters as such, I presume). In an army, in a police force, one is taught to obey. Blind obedience is what holds these organizations together. But obedience also kills your brain cells and this was never more obvious to me than yesterday, in Cairo, on Tahrir. As Thucydides put it so well in his telling of the ancient Athenians' subjugation of the island of Melos, "The strong do what they can and the weak suffer what they must." This Saturday in Egypt will hopefully be another beginning of the reversal of roles: the weak are getting stronger, the strong are getting weaker. 

humiliating the person of the year: Cairo, Dec 17, 2011

Change of scenery: on this same December 17, I was listening to Kate Bush's new album all day. Kate Bush holds a special place in my heart since one of her songs once helped me to ease my fear when facing time in a hospital. Her new record is called "50 Words for Snow", and I recommend it to everybody for a time of contemplation. The title track refers to the idea that Eskimos have 50 words for snow because snow is such an important factor in their lives. If I had one wish for Christmas, it would be the following: that we develop - each one, in his or her language - 50 words for freedom, peace, humanity and dignity. Because we perceive them as integral parts of our lives. It's difficult, I know. But it's possible.

Kate Bush is a very reclusive "pop star" and she will never be the Time's person of the year. She hasn't performed on stage in 30 years and she rarely gives interviews. But here is one, given to Marco Werman from Los Angeles' KCRW radio station in November of 2011. Lend her your ear.