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May 7, 2011

A Syrian voice

From one of the readers at Syria Comment

55. Edward said:

Pathetic how the pro-regime apologists are painting this as a Wahabi conspiracy against our glorious steadfast nation who has always stood up for Arab causes against western and Israeli imperialism. Choosing to ignore such inconvenient facts as the mass popular uprisings taking place across the Arab world (no no we’re not like them, we’re Syrians, we love our president!!!my beebol luv me) or the 40 odd years of rampant corruption, theft, abuse of power and systematic destruction of the infrastructure, police, judiciary, education and military of Syria by the Baath, rendering Syria a barely functioning Banana Republic where a substantial proportion of the well-to-do are above the law(due to paying bribes or connections), while the rest of the population languishes in poverty and servitude, and the Mukhabarat can kidnap, disappear or kill anyone, including judges, ministers and mp’s with total impunity. How about we not mention Syria’s occupation of Lebanon and the terrible abuses committed there by the security forces? or how about we forget Hama in 1982, and the chilling tales of people being buried alive by bulldozers with the rubble and debris of their destroyed houses?
or how about we forget that the C.I.A sent rendered terrorism suspects to be tortured in Syria’s mukhabarat dungeons? or how about we pretend we don’t see daily, government officials driving a 9 million lira Benz past destitute children begging at traffic lights (I drive past one every day on my way to work, today I stopped to talk to her, she told me she and her family live in a gas station after her father died).

For God’s sake people, just have the decency to admit that this regime has dragged our country to the ground and destroyed it. The people are fed up, they’ve had enough, they want it to end, they want a new tomorrow, they want their dignity back. They’ve braved tanks and guns and Mukhabarat and Shabeha thugs because they’ve had enough. Hundreds have given their lives for this cause, how dare you desecrate their memory and belittle their noble struggle? We have a phrase to describe how we feel about people like you and it’s “Tfooh 3alek”

Only an idiot would believe your nonsense of a global Zionist- Hariri-Saudi-Salafist-Aljazeera-Western plot to destroy the harmony and utopia that the Syrian people enjoy under their wise, benevolent and “for-ever” supreme ruler and commander, who God surly must have picked for us from amongst a select few saints, as we’re not supposed to ever question his authority or decisions, otherwise God will strike down upon his with furious anger, manifest in khaki wearing Mukhabarat and Amn (not to be confused with other types of Angles).”

How not to be an apartheid state?

By: George S. Hishmeh

The Arab Spring, which has upturned the Arab world like a tsunami, led many in Israel and their allies in the West, especially the United States, to mistakenly believe that it has muffled for good the Palestinian drive to regain their rights in their Israeli-usurped homeland. But the uprisings continued undeterred in some of the key autocratic Arab regimes since last January.

In Tunisia and Egypt, for example,the Western media virtually dropped any mention of the 63-year-old Palestinian-Israeli conflict.

Some Palestinians seemed disheartened. But an unexpected American poll, conducted in Egypt, turned the situation upside down. A majority of Egyptians (54 per cent), according to the American-led poll, conducted by the respected Pew Research Centre and based on face-to-face interviews, wanted to annul the 1979 peace treaty with Israel. Only 36 per cent voted to keep the agreement, which has been described as “a cornerstone of Egyptian foreign policy and the region’s stability” during the ousted regime of Hosni Mubarak, now in jail.

The finding, reported The New York Times, “squares with the overwhelming anecdotal evidence that Egyptians feel Israel has not lived up to its commitments in its treatment of the Palestinians”.

Interestingly, the poll also found that 39 per cent of Egyptians believe the US response to the uprising in their country was negative, compared to only 22 per cent who said it was positive.

The second punch that followed was the unexpected announcement in Cairo of a reconciliation between the two feuding Palestinian factions, Fateh, led by Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, and Hamas, the Islamist group which controls Gaza Strip. The significance of the much-awaited agreement, scheduled to be signed this week, was underlined by a statement from an Abbas aide who said last month that he was prepared to give up hundreds of millions of dollars in US aid if that was what it took to forge a Palestinian unity deal.

Israel and, very likely, a number of Western powers are not expected to praise this feud-ending agreement that, it was hoped, could pave the way for immediate resumption of negotiations between the Palestinians and Israelis.

As expected, Israel is already on record as saying the new accord, which was brokered in secrecy by Egypt, would not secure peace in the Middle East. Israel’s relations with Hamas, which has ruled Gaza Strip since 2007 after ousting Fateh in a civil war, has been bitter and bloody. But all this should not stop the behind-the-scene efforts to bring the two sides together.

The Palestinian side has, regrettably, offered to abandon its efforts to win membership in the UN General Assembly, which endorsed Israel’s admission to the world body, if Israel comes forth with a genuine offer.

Another positive step was the agreement of the Palestinian factions to name leadingindependent figures to the proposed interim government pending new elections within one year, if not earlier. The 22-member Arab League, which already endorsed an Arab peace proposal several years ago, has also been chosen to oversee the implementation of the reconciliation agreement.

If the two sides and their supporters wish to disrupt all these attempts at finding a solution, one does not need more than a troublemaker to undermine these efforts. For example, the US and Israel, as well as some European nations, have refused to deal with Hamas since they consider it a “terrorist” organisation, and any future Palestinian government would have to renounce violence and endorse Israel’s right to exist.

Obviously, the other side can come up with a convincing list. For example, what about Israel identifying its borders or initiating withdrawal from all occupied Palestinian territories?

Turkish President Abdullah Gul said it most succinctly in his recent op-ed in The New York Times: “History has taught us that demographics is the most decisive factor in determining the fate of nations. In the coming 50 years, Arabs will constitute the overwhelming majority of people between the Mediterranean Sea and the Dead Sea. The new generation of Arabs is much more conscious of democracy, freedom and national dignity. In such a context, Israel cannot afford to be perceived as an apartheid island surrounded by an Arab sea of anger and hostility.”

His conclusion: “It will be almost impossible for Israel to deal with the emerging democratic and demographic currents in the absence of a peace agreement with the Palestinians and the rest of the Arab world. Turkey, conscious of its own responsibility, stands ready to help.”

* An Arab American columnist based in Washington. – 

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