فتى آذار… الثائر الأول

ناصر قنديل

ليس في تاريخ الأحزاب التي نعرفها عبر التاريخ، مسيرة دراميّة مليئة بالأحداث الأسطوريّة، سواء لجهة طابعها الملحميّ، أو لجهة تزاحم أحداثها الكبيرة، ودرجة العبقريّة التي تخفيها شخصية بطلها الأول، ما يشبه ثنائية الزعيم أنطون سعاده والحزب السوري القومي الاجتماعي. فالحزب الذي تأسس عام 1932 ولد مؤسسه وواضع عقيدته ومنشئ تشكيله النظامي الأول في أول آذار عام 1904، أي أن الزعيم الذي وضع العقيدة بما فيها من معالجات نظرية معقدة وتحليلات تتداخل مع شتى العلوم، من الجغرافيا والتاريخ إلى النظريات السياسية الوضعية والعقائد المنتشرة، والاقتصاد وعلم الاجتماع وعلوم السياسة والاستراتيجيات وفنون وأصول الإدارة، كان في الثامنة والعشرين من العمر فقط، وخلال السنوات التي تلت التأسيس قبل استشهاد الزعيم، والتي تشكل بمجموعها سبع عشرة سنة، تحوّل الحزب وزعيمه قضية أولى على جداول أعمال أنظمة المنطقة وفي طليعتها الكيان الغاصب لفلسطين والاستعمار الفرنسي والبريطاني، بسبب التهديد الجدّي الذي مثله انتشار وتوسّع وتجذر بنائه التنظيمي وأدائه النضالي، حتى توافق الجميع على التخلص من سعاده وإعدامه الذي شكل بذاته ملحمة بطولة نادرة في حياة رجال الفكر والسياسة، جعلت الكثيرين يقارنون بين اعتقال وإعدام سعاده الثائر، واعتقال وإعدام الثائر الأمميّ أرنستوتشي غيفارا، وربما ترجح كفة سعاده لدى الكثيرين منهم.

خلال أكثر من ثمانية وثمانين عاماً عاصرت عقيدة سعاده وحزبه عقائد وأحزاب كثيرة أخرى، لكن الأحداث لم تمنح المصداقية لعقيدة بمثل ما منحتها لعقيدة سعاده، سواء لجهة ما يجمع بين الكيانات السوريّة، وحتمية فشل تقسيمات سايكس بيكو في إخفاء مصيرها الواحد ووحدة نسيجها الاجتماعي، أو لجهة الخطر المحدق الذي يمثله كيان الاحتلال الصهيونيّ لفلسطين على سائر كيانات الأمة، والحاجة لمواجهته بالسلاح المنظّم والمقاومة الرادعة، واستحالة الرهان على التسويات السياسية لاستعادة أيٍّ من حقوق الشعب الفلسطينيّ. فالصراع مع هذا الكيان هو صراع وجود لا صراع حدود، أو لجهة فشل الأنظمة المؤسسة على الصيغ الطائفيّة وحيوية الحاجة لتأكيد وحدة النسيج الاجتماعي عبر دولة مدنية علمانية، لا تتداخل فيها الهويات الاجتماعية المستحقة للاحترام على مستوى الاعتقاد الشخصي، مع الهوية الجامعة على مستوى الوطن والأمة، التي تبنى عليها الدولة.

فتى آذار لبناني المولد، عالمي المكانة العلميّة بين علماء السياسة والاجتماع، نهضويّ تغييريّ، مقاوم وثائر من طراز خاص، يمكن لكل لبناني مجرد عن عصبية أو حقد موروث أو تلاعب سياسي بالذاكرة، أن يفتخر بأنه إبن بلد، لكن على كل مَن يصف نفسه بالثائر اليوم من بين اللبنانيين، أن يتذكّر أن الثائر الأول الذي هزّ ركائز هذا النظام واستحق شهادته بامتياز، هو أنطون سعاده، الذي أخاف أركان النظام لأنه وضع يده على الجرح، وضغط فيه فأوجع حماة الطائفية وزبائن الأجنبي، ووكلاء منظومة النهب، فجعلوه هدفاً حتى أعدموه، فهل يعني هذا ما يجب أن يعنيه حول من يتسبّب بالوجع ويكون ثائراً بالمعنى العميق للكلمة، وبين مَن يكون لاعباً على القشرة يستمتع ويترف بالتلاعب به أهل النظام وينجحون باحتوائه وتقاسمه في ما بينهم، كما يتقاسمون المال والنفوذ وأدوات السيطرة، وهل يكون لذكرى سعاده فعلها في طرح الأسئلة الصحيحة لنيل الأجوبة الصحيحة، حول أصل الداء في لبنان، وفي ما حول لبنان، وبالتالي حول خطة عمل جريئة وجدّية من دونها يبقى كل جهد وتعب ووقت هباء، لأنه يلاعب القشرة ولا يصل إلى عمق الوجع.

المهم وربما الأهم في عقيدة سعاده، أنها أدركت جاذبية أفكارها الجريئة والجديدة والجامعة، فخشيت عليها من التحوّل إلى ترف الصالونات، فكان نصف العقيدة أو أكثر مركزاً على مكانة النظام والانتظام. فالحزب هو الذي يمنح العقيدة بعداً اجتماعياً، ومكانة فاعلة في حياة المجتمع، ويشقّ لها الطريق كمنبع لحلول جدية لمشكلات تعانيها الأمة ويرزح تحت وطأتها الشعب، ومن دون الحزب والنضال والتضحيات لا يعترف سعاده بمريدين ومؤيدين لعقيدته. فالقضية ليست قضية مَن يصفق ولا من يؤيد ولا من يعجب، بل من يجد في العقيدة وصفة خلاص شخصيّ وجماعيّ، ويتخذها نمط حياة وأسلوب عمل وإيماناً شخصياً يعيد تنظيم شخصيته وأولوياته ونمط حياته على أساسها، والبداية بالانتقال من الفرد كمحور للحياة، إلى الأمة كهوية وقضية يعرف ذاته من خلالها، ونواتها الحزب الذي يعيش شخصيتها ومبادئها وأخلاقياتها، ويجعلها هدفاً نضالياً يتحقق بالتضحيات.

في مسيرة مليئة بالتعرجات والإنجازات والخيبات، نجح القوميون في صيانة شعلة العقيدة واستمرار وملاءمة الحزب مع المتغيرات الكثيرة، لكنها المتغيرات التي أكدت صواب العقيدة وحاجة الحزب للارتقاء بنضاله إلى ما تستحقّ، ولم يغب الحزب عن استحقاقات الأمة التي تشهد عليها دماء الشهداء من مقاومة الاحتلال إلى مواجهة خطر الإرهاب التكفيري والتفتيتي، وإسقاط مشاريع التقسيم، ويبقى الحزب السوري القومي الاجتماعي، كلما نظرنا حولنا إلى الحاجة لحزب عابر للطوائف مترفّع عن الطائفية بصدق، وكلما نظرنا إلى ما حولنا من حاجة للتكامل بين كيانات لبنان وسورية والعراق والأردن وما حولها، وكلما نظرنا إلى فلسطين ودرجة وضوح الصورة لجهة سقوط التسويات وأوهامها وتظهير درجة العدوانيّة الدمويّة وآلامها، الحزب الذي يمتلك الأجوبة الحاضرة على الأسئلة الملحّة، بسهولة ما كتبه سعاده قبل ثمانية وثمانين عاماً وأكثر.

The Road to Damascus: How the Syria War was Won

The Road to Damascus: How the Syria War was Won

October 18, 2019

by Pepe Escobar : posted with permission and crossposted with Consortium News

What is happening in Syria, following yet another Russia-brokered deal, is a massive geopolitical game-changer. I’ve tried to summarize it in a single paragraph this way:

“It’s a quadruple win. The U.S. performs a face saving withdrawal, which Trump can sell as avoiding a conflict with NATO ally Turkey. Turkey has the guarantee – by the Russians – that the Syrian Army will be in control of the Turkish-Syrian border. Russia prevents a war escalation and keeps the Russia-Iran-Turkey peace process alive.  And Syria will eventually regain control of the entire northeast.”

Syria may be the biggest defeat for the CIA since Vietnam.

Yet that hardly begins to tell the whole story.

Allow me to briefly sketch in broad historical strokes how we got here.

It began with an intuition I felt last month at the tri-border point of Lebanon, Syria and Occupied Palestine; followed by a subsequent series of conversations in Beirut with first-class Lebanese, Syrian, Iranian, Russian, French and Italian analysts; all resting on my travels in Syria since the 1990s; with a mix of selected bibliography in French available at Antoine’s in Beirut thrown in.

The Vilayets

Let’s start in the 19thcentury when Syria consisted of six vilayets — Ottoman provinces — without counting Mount Lebanon, which had a special status since 1861 to the benefit of Maronite Christians and Jerusalem, which was a sanjak (administrative division) of Istanbul.

The vilayets did not define the extremely complex Syrian identity: for instance, Armenians were the majority in the vilayet of Maras, Kurds in Diyarbakir – both now part of Turkey in southern Anatolia – and the vilayets of Aleppo and Damascus were both Sunni Arab.

Nineteenth century Ottoman Syria was the epitome of cosmopolitanism. There were no interior borders or walls. Everything was inter-dependent.

Ethnic groups in the Balkans and Asia Minor, early 20th Century, Historical Atlas, 1911.

Then the Europeans, profiting from World War I, intervened. France got the Syrian-Lebanese littoral, and later the vilayets of Maras and Mosul (today in Iraq). Palestine was separated from Cham (the “Levant”), to be internationalized. The vilayet of Damascus was cut in half: France got the north, the Brits got the south. Separation between Syria and the mostly Christian Lebanese lands came later.

There was always the complex question of the Syria-Iraq border. Since antiquity, the Euphrates acted as a barrier, for instance between the Cham of the Umayyads and their fierce competitors on the other side of the river, the Mesopotamian Abbasids.

James Barr, in his splendid “A Line in the Sand,” notes, correctly, that the Sykes-Picot agreement imposed on the Middle East the European conception of territory: their “line in the sand” codified a delimited separation between nation-states. The problem is, there were no nation-states in region in the early 20thcentury.

The birth of Syria as we know it was a work in progress, involving the Europeans, the Hashemite dynasty, nationalist Syrians invested in building a Greater Syria including Lebanon, and the Maronites of Mount Lebanon. An important factor is that few in the region lamented losing dependence on Hashemite Medina, and except the Turks, the loss of the vilayet of Mosul in what became Iraq after World War I.

In 1925, Sunnis became the de facto prominent power in Syria, as the French unified Aleppo and Damascus. During the 1920s France also established the borders of eastern Syria. And the Treaty of Lausanne, in 1923, forced the Turks to give up all Ottoman holdings but didn’t keep them out of the game.

Turkish borders according to the Treaty of Lausanne, 1923.

The Turks soon started to encroach on the French mandate, and began blocking the dream of Kurdish autonomy. France in the end gave in: the Turkish-Syrian border would parallel the route of the fabled Bagdadbahn — the Berlin-Baghdad railway.

In the 1930s France gave in even more: the sanjak of Alexandretta (today’s Iskenderun, in Hatay province, Turkey), was finally annexed by Turkey in 1939 when only 40 percent of the population was Turkish.

The annexation led to the exile of tens of thousands of Armenians. It was a tremendous blow for Syrian nationalists. And it was a disaster for Aleppo, which lost its corridor to the Eastern Mediterranean.

Turkish forces under entered Alexandretta on July 5, 1938.

To the eastern steppes, Syria was all about Bedouin tribes. To the north, it was all about the Turkish-Kurdish clash. And to the south, the border was a mirage in the desert, only drawn with the advent of Transjordan. Only the western front, with Lebanon, was established, and consolidated after WWII.

This emergent Syria — out of conflicting Turkish, French, British and myriad local interests —obviously could not, and did not, please any community. Still, the heart of the nation configured what was described as “useful Syria.” No less than 60 percent of the nation was — and remains — practically void. Yet, geopolitically, that translates into “strategic depth” — the heart of the matter in the current war.

From Hafez to Bashar

Starting in 1963, the Baath party, secular and nationalist, took over Syria, finally consolidating its power in 1970 with Hafez al-Assad, who instead of just relying on his Alawite minority, built a humongous, hyper-centralized state machinery mixed with a police state. The key actors who refused to play the game were the Muslim Brotherhood, all the way to being massacred during the hardcore 1982 Hama repression.

Secularism and a police state: that’s how the fragile Syrian mosaic was preserved. But already in the 1970s major fractures were emerging: between major cities and a very poor periphery; between the “useful” west and the Bedouin east; between Arabs and Kurds. But the urban elites never repudiated the iron will of Damascus: cronyism, after all, was quite profitable.

Damascus interfered heavily with the Lebanese civil war since 1976 at the invitation of the Arab League as a “peacekeeping force.” In Hafez al-Assad’s logic, stressing the Arab identity of Lebanon was essential to recover Greater Syria. But Syrian control over Lebanon started to unravel in 2005, after the murder of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafiq Hariri, very close to Saudi Arabia, the Syrian Arab Army (SAA) eventually left.

Bashar al-Assad had taken power in 2000. Unlike his father, he bet on the Alawites to run the state machinery, preventing the possibility of a coup but completely alienating himself from the poor, Syrian on the street.

What the West defined as the Arab Spring, began in Syria in March 2011; it was a revolt against the Alawites as much  as a revolt against Damascus. Totally instrumentalized by the foreign interests, the revolt sprang up in extremely poor, dejected Sunni peripheries: Deraa in the south, the deserted east, and the suburbs of Damascus and Aleppo.

Protest in Damascus, April 24, 2011. (syriana2011/Flickr)

What was not understood in the West is that this “beggars banquet” was not against the Syrian nation, but against a “regime.” Jabhat al-Nusra, in a P.R. exercise, even broke its official link with al-Qaeda and changed its denomination to Fatah al-Cham and then Hayat Tahrir al-Cham (“Organization for the Liberation of the Levant”). Only ISIS/Daesh said they were fighting for the end of Sykes-Picot.

By 2014, the perpetually moving battlefield was more or less established: Damascus against both Jabhat al-Nusra and ISIS/Daesh, with a wobbly role for the Kurds in the northeast, obsessed in preserving the cantons of Afrin, Kobane and Qamichli.

But the key point is that each katiba (“combat group”), each neighborhood, each village, and in fact each combatant was in-and-out of allegiances non-stop. That yielded a dizzying nebulae of jihadis, criminals, mercenaries, some linked to al-Qaeda, some to Daesh, some trained by the Americans, some just making a quick buck.

For instance Salafis — lavishly financed by Saudi Arabia and Kuwait — especially Jaish al-Islam, even struck alliances with the PYD Kurds in Syria and the jihadis of Hayat Tahrir al-Cham (the remixed, 30,000-strong  al-Qaeda in Syria). Meanwhile, the PYD Kurds (an emanation of the Turkish Kurds’ PKK, which Ankara consider “terrorists”) profited from this unholy mess — plus a deliberate ambiguity by Damascus – to try to create their autonomous Rojava.

A demonstration in the city of Afrin in support of the YPG against the Turkish invasion of Afrin, Jan. 19, 2018. (Voice of America Kurdish, Wikimedia Commons)

That Turkish Strategic Depth

Turkey was all in. Turbo-charged by the neo-Ottoman politics of former Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu, the logic was to reconquer parts of the Ottoman empire, and get rid of Assad because he had helped PKK Kurdish rebels in Turkey.

Davutoglu’s Strategik Derinlik (“Strategic Depth’), published in 2001, had been a smash hit in Turkey, reclaiming the glory of eight centuries of an sprawling empire, compared to puny 911 kilometers of borders fixed by the French and the Kemalists. Bilad al Cham, the Ottoman province congregating Lebanon, historical Palestine, Jordan and Syria, remained a powerful magnet in both the Syrian and Turkish unconscious.

No wonder Turkey’s Recep Erdogan was fired up: in 2012 he even boasted he was getting ready to pray in the Umayyad mosque in Damascus, post-regime change, of course. He has been gunning for a safe zone inside the Syrian border — actually a Turkish enclave — since 2014. To get it, he has used a whole bag of nasty players — from militias close to the Muslim Brotherhood to hardcore Turkmen gangs.

With the establishment of the Free Syrian Army (FSA), for the first time Turkey allowed foreign weaponized groups to operate on its own territory. A training camp was set up in 2011 in the sanjakof Alexandretta. The Syrian National Council was also created in Istanbul – a bunch of non-entities from the diaspora who had not been in Syria for decades.

Ankara enabled a de facto Jihad Highway — with people from Central Asia, Caucasus, Maghreb, Pakistan, Xinjiang, all points north in Europe being smuggled back and forth at will. In 2015, Ankara, Riyadh and Doha set up the dreaded Jaish al-Fath (“Army of Conquest”), which included Jabhat al-Nusra (al-Qaeda).

At the same time, Ankara maintained an extremely ambiguous relationship with ISIS/Daesh, buying its smuggled oil, treating jihadis in Turkish hospitals, and paying zero attention to jihad intel collected and developed on Turkish territory. For at least five years, the MIT — Turkish intelligence – provided political and logistic background to the Syrian opposition while weaponizing a galaxy of Salafis. After all, Ankara believed that ISIS/Daesh only existed because of the “evil” deployed by the Assad regime.

The Russian Factor

Russian President Vladiimir Putin meeting with President of Turkey Recep Erdogan; Russian Minister of Foreign Affairs Sergei Lavrov standing in background, Ankara, Dec. 1, 2014 Ankara. (Kremlin)

The first major game-changer was the spectacular Russian entrance in the summer of 2015. Vladimir Putin had asked the U.S. to join in the fight against the Islamic State as the Soviet Union allied against Hitler, negating the American idea that this was Russia’s bid to restore its imperial glory. But the American plan instead, under Barack Obama, was single-minded: betting on a rag-tag Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), a mix of Kurds and Sunni Arabs, supported by air power and U.S. Special Forces, north of the Euphrates, to smash ISIS/Daesh all the way to Raqqa and Deir ez-Zor.

Raqqa, bombed to rubble by the Pentagon, may have been taken by the SDF, but Deir ez-Zor was taken by Damascus’s Syrian Arab Army. The ultimate American aim was to consistently keep the north of the Euphrates under U.S. power, via their proxies, the SDF and the Kurdish PYD/YPG. That American dream is now over, lamented by imperial Democrats and Republicans alike.

The CIA will be after Trump’s scalp till Kingdom Come.

Kurdish Dream Over

Talk about a cultural misunderstanding. As much as the Syrian Kurds believed U.S. protection amounted to an endorsement of their independence dreams, Americans never seemed to understand that throughout the “Greater Middle East” you cannot buy a tribe. At best, you can rent them. And they use you according to their interests. I’ve seen it from Afghanistan to Iraq’s Anbar province.

The Kurdish dream of a contiguous, autonomous territory from Qamichli to Manbij is over. Sunni Arabs living in this perimeter will resist any Kurdish attempt at dominance.

The Syrian PYD was founded in 2005 by PKK militants. In 2011, Syrians from the PKK came from Qandil – the PKK base in northern Iraq – to build the YPG militia for the PYD. In predominantly Arab zones, Syrian Kurds are in charge of governing because for them Arabs are seen as a bunch of barbarians, incapable of building their “democratic, socialist, ecological and multi-communitarian” society.

Kurdish PKK guerillas In Kirkuk, Iraq. (Kurdishstruggle via Flickr)

One can imagine how conservative Sunni Arab tribal leaders hate their guts. There’s no way these tribal leaders will ever support the Kurds against the SAA or the Turkish army; after all these Arab tribal leaders spent a lot of time in Damascus seeking support from Bashar al-Assad.  And now the Kurds themselves have accepted that support in the face of the Trukish incursion, greenlighted by Trump.

East of Deir ez-Zor, the PYD/YPG already had to say goodbye to the region that is responsible for 50 percent of Syria’s oil production. Damascus and the SAA now have the upper hand. What’s left for the PYD/YPG is to resign themselves to Damascus’s and Russian protection against Turkey, and the chance of exercising sovereignty in exclusively Kurdish territories.

Ignorance of the West

The West, with typical Orientalist haughtiness, never understood that Alawites, Christians, Ismailis and Druze in Syria would always privilege Damascus for protection compared to an “opposition” monopolized by hardcore Islamists, if not jihadis.  The West also did not understand that the government in Damascus, for survival, could always count on formidable Baath party networks plus the dreaded mukhabarat — the intel services.

Rebuilding Syria

The reconstruction of Syria may cost as much as $200 billion. Damascus has already made it very clear that the U.S. and the EU are not welcome. China will be in the forefront, along with Russia and Iran; this will be a project strictly following the Eurasia integration playbook — with the Chinese aiming to revive Syria’s strategic positioning in the Ancient Silk Road.

As for Erdogan, distrusted by virtually everyone, and a tad less neo-Ottoman than in the recent past, he now seems to have finally understood that Bashar al-Assad “won’t go,” and he must live with it. Ankara is bound to remain imvolved with Tehran and Moscow, in finding a comprehensive, constitutional solution for the Syrian tragedy through the former “Astana process”, later developed in Ankara.

The war may not have been totally won, of course. But against all odds, it’s clear a unified, sovereign Syrian nation is bound to prevail over every perverted strand of geopolitical molotov cocktails concocted in sinister NATO/GCC labs. History will eventually tell us that, as an example to the whole Global South, this will remain the ultimate game-changer.

 

14 آب ليس يوماً مضى بل صيرورة مستمرة… والمطلوب؟

أغسطس 14, 2019

ناصر قنديل

– في الرابع عشر من آب 2006 تحقق عظيم الإنجاز بما يقارب الإعجاز في نصر تاريخي هزم أعتى قوة يعتمد عليها الغرب في فرض سياساته على الشرق، وبزغ فجر حركات المقاومة لتعيد كتابة التاريخ وترسم حدود الجغرافيا باسم الشعوب التي غيّبت طويلاً عن قضاياها المركزية، حيث ترجمت المقاومة التي احتفلت بانتصارها كل شعوب المنطقة إرادة هذه الشعوب في تعبير نوعي عن مفهوم الديمقراطية والإرادة الشعبية. بالتوازي سقطت أحلام وتهاوت أبراج من الأوهام، حيث كل ما سيهدد به الغرب لاحقاً هو ما سبق وما فعله سابقاً، وكانت حرب تموز البديل الذي راهن عليه لاستعادة ماء وجهه بعد حربين فاشلتين في أفغانستان والعراق، لتشكيل شرقه الأوسط الجديد كما بات ما لا يحتاج دليلاً ولا برهاناً، وأصيبت «إسرائيل» في روحها، حيث لن تنفعها بعد ذلك لا قبب حديدية وفولاذية ولا خطط ترميم لقوة الردع ولا استعادة العافية لجبهة داخلية أصيبت بمرض عضال لا شفاء منه، وخرج الشعب في مسيراته المهيبة فجر الرابع عشر من آب يكلل النصر بالمزيد من التضحيات حاضناً مقاومته وفارضاً تفسيره للقرار الأممي 1701، وخرج الجيش اللبناني المتوّج بالثلاثية الذهبية مع شعب ومقاومة لا ينازعانه الحضور العلني لعروض القوة، كأقوى جيوش المنطقة بهذين الرديفين، لا تعوزه المساعدات ولا الرعاية الأميركية الهادفة لتجريده من أقوى ما عنده، وهو الثلاثية المقدسة التي أكدها النصر.

– الصيرورة المستمرة لمعادلات 14 آب ظهرت مع تعميم نموذج المقاومة من لبنان وفلسطين إلى العراق واليمن، وظهرت في النموذج السوري لمقاومة الغزوة الدولية الكبرى، وفي صمود إيران، وفي نهوض روسيا لدورها كدولة عظمى، وفي استفاقة التنين الصيني للمنازلة في ساحات الاقتصاد تمهيداً لمنازلات مقبلة في سواها. وفي هذه الصيرورة تأكدت معادلات نصر آب، وترسخت وتعملقت، وخلال الأعوام التي مضت حاول الأميركي والإسرائيلي وما بينهما من حكام الخليج والغرب، وبعض الداخل اللبناني والعربي والإسلامي تعويض نواقص الحرب ومعالجة أسباب الهزيمة، فكانت كل حرب لإضعاف المقاومة تزيدها قوة.

– قرأ المعنيون بالهزيمة على تنوّع مشاربهم وهوياتهم أن نصر آب هو نتيجة الطبيعة الخارجية للحرب، وأن تفوق المقاومة على جيش الاحتلال تقنياً جاء بفعل أسلحة لا قيمة لها في مواجهات داخلية، فكانت تجربة الفتنة الداخلية، من محاولة كسر الاعتصام الذي دعت إليه المقاومة وحلفاؤها في مطلع العام 2007، وصولاً لقرار تفكيك شبكة اتصالات المقاومة، تمهيداً لتوريطها في فخ التصادم مع الجيش وتفتيت الشعب إلى قبائل متحاربة، فكانت عملية 7 أيار، التي يقدمها البعض دليلاً على استخدام المقاومة لسلاحها نحو الداخل اللبناني، تأكيداً لمعادلة العجز الشامل عن كسر مصادر قوة المقاومة. ومثلها جاءت الحرب على سورية وما رافقها من استقدام كل منتجات الفكر الوهابي أملاً بتعويض عجز جيش الاحتلال عن بذل الدماء باستحضار من لا يقيم لها حساباً، فجاءت نتائج الحرب تقول إن مصادر قوة المقاومة لم تمسها لا محاولات الفتن الداخلية، ولا المواجهة مع تشكيلات الإرهاب التكفيري.

– اليوم ومع تسيّد معادلات المقاومة على مساحة المنطقة من مضيق هرمز إلى مضيق باب المندب ومضيق جبل طارق، ومضيق البوسفور، وما بينها من بحار ويابسة، تبقى المعضلة في قدرة مشروع المقاومة على بلورة نموذج للحكم يُحاكي نجاحاتها في مواجهة العدوان والاحتلال والإرهاب، فيما السلاح الاقتصادي الهادف لتفجير معادلات الدول من داخلها يشكل أهم استثمارات المشروع الأميركي، ويبدو أن إعادة تنظيم الدولة الوطنية ومؤسساتها يسبق في الأهمية الحلول الاقتصادية والمالية التقنية في خطة المواجهة. وهنا لا بد من التأكيد أن بناء الدولة القوية كهدف يبقى هو العنوان، والمقاومة محور تحالفات عن يمينها وعن يسارها ما يكفي لموازين القوى اللازمة لمفهوم الدولة المرتجاة مع مراعاة ضرورات الواقعية والمرونة، وحيث يتحدث الجميع عن الدولة المدنية كإطار للحل، يتباين المفهوم حول طبيعتها، وتبدو المقاومة معنية ببدء الحوار الجاد حول هذا المفهوم خصوصاً مع حليفيها الاستراتيجيين في حركة أمل والتيار الوطني الحر ومعهما حلفاء أصيلون بالمناداة بالدولة المدنية ويحملون نموذجهم اللاطائفي إثباتاً على إمكان تخطي الطائفية، كما حمل مشروع المقاومة الإثبات على إمكانية هزيمة الاحتلال، وهؤلاء الذين يتقدمهم الحزب السوري القومي الإجتماعي متطلعون لهذا الحوار الجاد من موقعهم الشريك في مشروع المقاومة ومعاركها، والهدف هو البدء ببلورة مفهوم موحد، سيكون وحده الجواب على التحديات، خصوصاً ان الهواجس التي يثيرها طرح التيار الوطني الحر بالدعوة لتطبيق عنوان الدولة المدنية بما يتخطى إلغاء الطائفية كشرط للسير بها، ليست هواجس العلمانيين بل هي هواجس تمسّ ما يهتم به حزب الله من شؤون تتصل بدور الدين في الدولة وكيفية الفصل والوصل بينهما وضمن أي حدود. وما يثيره حلفاء حزب الله الذين يثير هواجسهم خطاب الحقوق المسيحية التي ينادي بها التيار الوطني الحر كتعبير عن تصعيد للعصبيات الطائفية، لا يخشونها من موقع طائفي وهم عابرون للطوائف، بل من موقع الحرص على عدم إثارة العصبيات، بينما في هذه اللغة ما يثير مباشرة هواجس قواعد وجمهور المقاومة وبيئتها الحاضنة.

– المهمة ليست سهلة، لكنها ليست أصعب من مقتضيات النصر في آب 2006، وأهميتها في كونها تكمل حلقات النصر، وتجعله مشروعاً وصيرورة، لا مجرد لحظة تاريخية مجيدة.

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France’s ‘Holy Secular Empire’ slurs Yellow Vests as anti-Semitic, bans anti-Zionism

Source

February 20, 2019

France’s ‘Holy Secular Empire’ slurs Yellow Vests as anti-Semitic, bans anti-Zionism

by Ramin Mazaheri for The Saker Blog

Back in November 2008, Rahm Emmanuel, then president-elect Barack Obama’s chief of staff and later the detested mayor of Chicago, famously told The Wall Street Journal, “You never want a serious crisis to go to waste. … This crisis provides the opportunity for us to do things that you could not before.” A wave of “socialise the losses” right-wing capitalism followed; millions lost their homes, pensions, jobs, sanity, neighbourhood cohesion, etc.

France is using the anti-establishment crisis of the Yellow Vests in a way that Zionist-supporter Emmanuel certainly approves of: they are using it to criminalise anti-Zionism.

Backtracking from just a day earlier, President Emmanuel Macron threw French liberty under the bus and said that France will now define “anti-Zionism as a modern-day form of anti-Semitism”.

Well I guess I better totally rewrite this article! LOL, not a chance.

France had an atrocious 74% leap in anti-Jewish acts in 2018, which caused nationwide demonstrations against anti-Semitism on February 19.

More against anti-Jew acts… I could not be.

But the demonstrations were a clear manipulation of righteous anti-racism sentiment, because they were orchestrated right alongside an effort to slander the anti-government Yellow Vest movement as a basket of racist, anti-Jewish, hillbilly, intolerant, uncultured deplorables. Now we see they had a second goal, just as I had openly suggested.

Domestic things first: France’s Holy Secular Empire rallies to attack tolerance & democracy

Given that they are calling for the resignation of the president and his cadres, from the very beginning of the Yellow Vest movement the government has obviously done everything they could to portray the Yellow Vests as such… and also as radicals, rioters and rejects of society – anything but legitimate.

But the marches show that (what I refer to as) France’s “Holy Secular Empire” has sprung back into action. The Holy Secular Empire is characterised by pro-French jingoism, intolerance for those who are deemed not tolerant enough of the “correct” things (no matter how morally repugnant and intellectually incorrect said things may be), and a hypocritical subversion of France’s constitutionally mandated and culturally revered laïcité (political secularism) towards all things regarding race and religion only when certain cultural groups are targeted.

The apex of the Holy Secular Empire was the Je Suis Charlie marches in 2015, when fake-leftists worldwide wept for the right to draw a picture of Prophet Mohammad with his butt cheeks spread open and star covering his anus and also Mohammad directing a pornography movie. (Yes, those are among the cartoons they published.)

The arrival of the anti-austerity, anti-neoliberal, anti-EU, anti-Eurozone, anti-1% Yellow Vest movement has forced the HSE’s fake-leftist ideals back to the fore. The last week has seen a massive media and political blitz which aims to instrumentalise the fight against racism as a way to turn public opinion against the Yellow Vests, and eventually put a stop to their marches.

The slur campaign went into overdrive when the atrociously right-wing and pro-Zionist writer Alain Finkielkraut was filmed at the Yellow Vest demonstration on February 16th being insulted (being correctly labelled) with the phrase “dirty Zionist”. Finkielkraut is a former leftist who renounced his leftist ideals for reactionary ones, and such sellouts – those who can perhaps best critique the left because they understood it at one time – are always adored by the 1% and the Mainstream Media.

Firstly, what is Alain Finkielkraut doing at a Yellow Vest march? Of course they hate him – he was similarly booed and shooed away at the leftist, Occupy-inspired Nuit Debout protests in 2016. The French say “once does not make a custom”, but it seems as if every leftist movement can now count on Finkielkraut getting back in the spotlight by annoying them with his presence. Of course, just like in 2016, Finkielkraut wants people to believe in 2019 it’s just anti-Jew hatred, but he clearly refuses to accept that people legitimately resent and detest him for being one of the French’s 1%’s leading intellectual toadies.

I saw Finkielkraut being interviewed on right-wing BFM TV just after the incident: he was doing his usual rear end-kissing of the average Frenchman’s bygone culture. He was going on and on about how the Roman Catholic French Church is a natural ally with the Jews, begging for their support and fraternity… and never mentioning Islam as their third Abrahamic brother. That’s odd, considering that much of the Koran’s very first chapter calls for unity with Jews and Christians, declares that Islam does not discriminate against their apostles and embraces them, how the children of Israel are exalted above other nations, and on and on and on. I asked a Middle Eastern Christian colleague why Finkielkraut didn’t include Islam, considering these obvious facts?

“Ramin,” he said, “why do you think Alain Finkielkraut would commit career suicide?”

LOL, good point. But this is why people on the left hate Finkielkraut – he makes bad things worse by insisting that la belle France réactionnaire doesn’t have to change.

The Finkielkraut episode, combined with a couple recent typical pro-Nazi graffiti taggings, allowed the Mainstream Media to point the finger at the Yellow Vests. Ever obliging, and you cannot make this up: French Parliamentarians rushed to try and ban anti-Zionist speech!

Surprised – why? In 2014, during Israel’s latest war on Gaza, France became the first country to ban pro-Palestinian demonstrations.

Foreign things second: Since when do French politicians care about the French?

Banning anti-Zionism is – without a doubt – truly dangerous for the safety of the French, ruinous for France’s international image, ruinous to France’s cultural values…but since when do French politicians care about France?

The Parliamentarians said the ban debate was on the grounds that “anti-Zionism” is the same as “anti-Semitism”.” For several days this falsity was relayed by every major news organisation with zero comment or a question. Cleary, the Holy Secular Empire is a mighty force, but not an enlightened one.

I am an anti-Zionist Jew

Such a conflation staggers the mind! “Zionism” is an imperialist project based on earthly political ideas – (the inherently racist idea that Jews need to be segregated into their own country); “Judaism” is a religion, based on faith. It has been truly sad to see what a poor job the average journalist, commentator, politician, editor and publisher did by conflating the two over the past week. This is why Yellow Vests hate us journalists, guys and gals.

One can be 100% anti-Zionist and 100% pro-Jew. Indeed, we all must be.

However, the reality is that – for fake-leftists and the Holy Secular Empire – one cannot be both pro-Jew and anti-Zionist… not even if you are a Jew.

Paris-based journalist George Kazolias emailed me this photo from the huge “Hipsters Against Anti-Jews” march at Place de la République in Paris on February 19. His sign reads, “I am Jewish and anti-Zionist”. Kazolias, who has decades of experience and whose integrity is unquestionable, told me that this intelligent young man was roughed up and forced to take his sign down.

That is the Holy Secular Empire at its finest: they claim to be anti-racist, but only when certain races are involved. “The Palestinians – not today, pal: you need to take a backseat to the Zionists right now. Frankly, let’s just ban anti-Zionism altogether.” They claim to be politically modern, and yet they support an imperialist project for which there is no doubt about who is in the wrong and who is in the right. They claim to be tolerant and demand that you be tolerant for their preferred groups, but they are willing to rough up a brave dissenter who dares to express a contrarian opinion (even when that dissenter is a member of the group being affected).

Surprised that France’s Holy Secular Empire is neither Holy (it is anti-Holy), nor Secular (it is incredibly partisan), but, like all Empires, based on illegitimate, anti-democratic force?

The surprise comes from the false, mainstream idea that France is what they say they are: a beacon of free speech, the world’s greatest adherents of the right to open debate on political issues, a fighter for truth, tolerance and other human rights… but it’s mostly for human rights which do very little to advance socioeconomic & political equality but which certainly allow the rich to express themselves unfettered in West European / Liberal Democratic / bourgeois systems.

Why the backtracking by Macron? I thought he was pro-Nazi? Let’s not forget that last November Macron was forced to call off his planned tribute to Vichy France leader and Nazi collaborator Marshall Petain – that makes him more responsible for the recent spike in anti-Jewish acts than anyone, no? People follow the lead of the leader, and he praised Nazi-era France.

From the beginning I openly said on social media that the timing of the marches made their legitimacy even more suspect: they were the night before the French President’s annual genuflecting before CRIF, the umbrella of Jewish groups which serves as France’s influential Jewish lobby. I felt bad for France’s Jews – the timing of these marches already seemed more like political manipulations which aimed to culminate in the criminalisation of anti-Zionism, but the timing helped perpetuate the idea that Jews are overly powerful among the French elite.

The annual genuflecting also shows that, while individual and anecdotal violence against Jews needs far steeper penalties in France, on the institutional level France’s Jews are not just well-represented but punching above their weight: there is no similar annual genuflecting by the French president at an French Muslim organisation, even though Muslims are 10 times the number of Jews in France. Each new French president even has the gall to create their own, preferred “new, improved, Franco-Muslim group”, which no Muslim takes remotely seriously but which the Mainstream Media takes as, LOL, legitimate.

Macron made his backtracking at the CRIF dinner. Ugh…bad for Jews, bad for France, bad for Palestinians, bad for those who oppose terrorism in France (i.e everyone) and on and on.

Global things third: we still have the Yellow Vests, at least. Also: I hate Zionism

Call the cops on me….

The reality is that mainstream journalists simply won’t stand up for the difference between Zionism and anti-Semitism – even if brave Jews like that one in the photo do – and even if such inaccuracies hurt the image of the everyday Jew.

But such is the effectiveness of Israeli hasbara, counter-information propaganda aimed at Western audiences, that even the word “Jew” cannot be broached. The Western concept that the word “Jew” is somehow a racial slur was hilariously lampooned by the US TV show It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia.

And it affected this article, too: I thought the title should be, “France’s ‘Holy Secular Empire’ slurs Yellow Vests as anti-Jew, bans anti-Zionism” – and why not? It’s shorter, and I like to pretend that column inches still matter in digital media. It’s also more accurate: “Semitic” is a language – meaning the branch which includes Arabic, Hebrew and Aramaic – yet it has been appropriated/given to the adherents of Judaism, regardless of national origin, for so long that the average person now associates “Semite” solely with Jews.

For example, I just had a fine English colleague proofread my upcoming book, Socialism’s Ignored Success Story: Iranian Islamic Socialism, and in one part I discussed out how the “non-Semitic Iranians” might have been predisposed to disagree with certain early Islamic leaders who pushed pro-Arab, and thus ethnically sectarian, policies. This intelligent journalist noted in red next to “the non-Semitic Iranians” the following: “?”. LOL, I changed it, because this is even more of a lost cause than my effort to use “Southwest Asian” instead of the Eurocentric “Middle East”. And I changed the headline because I thought that many half-hearted anti-racists would see “anti-Jew” and hysterically think, “I am too turned off to click on this link – the language is too harsh. The writer must be a nut.”

The mistake made by that young anti-Zionist Jew – who is my brother from another mother – is that he went to the wrong demonstration that night: he went to the fake-leftist / hipster / bobo (bourgeois bohémien) / politician photo-op / pro-Zionist / anti-Yellow Vest demonstration at Place de la République, when he should have been with me at Ménilmontant in the Arab part of town.

I covered that demonstration for PressTV. It was organised by the Union of French Jews for Peace, a wonderful group I have interviewed for years. Heck, some of the very best pro-Palestinian activists in France are Jewish! That is where this young man belonged. The protest was expressly against all racism and expressly against the attempt to slur the Yellow Vests as anti-Semitic.

We numbered about 700 people, with plenty of Yellow Vests, and we garnered far less media coverage (in FrenchAt Ménilmontant, a demonstration of real anti-racists’ against anti-Semitism), but plenty of Israeli hasbara. The Times of Israel headline read, “At Ménilmontant a man yelled ‘Netanyahu licks the (rear end) of Hitler”. If this is how they treat those who are protesting against anti-Semitism, imagine how they treat Palestinians, LOL….

As usual, the people I interviewed there put it better than I could, even though that’s my job:

The Yellow Vests are not ethnic nor religious – they are social, political and fiscal. These are workers who work yet still can’t pay their bills at the end of the month, even though France is such a rich country. If there are anti-Jews in the Yellow Vests, well, 58% of the country supports the Yellow Vests, which equates to 39 million people: out of 39 million people you will find some jerks, and also some racists, but the slurring of the Yellow Vests as anti-Jew is only because the establishment and their toadies will do anything to stop the Yellow Vest movement… which will absolutely not stop.

It won’t stop because, as I wrote at the very beginning of the movement: there is simply no political pathway for the Yellow Vests’ political ideas to be implemented. Therefore, they have no choice but to continue because political demands aren’t whims, but are almost implacably formed over time – in this case, eight years of far-right economic austerity. Yellow Vests can only turn to other Yellow Vests.

At the big demonstration at Place de la République there were 20,000 people – this is a very rare instance of a demonstration in France not being obviously undercounted by authorities; many put the official numbers of the Saturday Yellow Vests at 1/3rd the official total.

But I wasn’t going to to République to celebrate the fake-leftist idea of anti-racism, even though most everyone else did. You had Catholic bishops there, even though they are supposed to not get involved in political demonstrations; you had Francois Hollande and Nicolas Sarkozy; you had plenty of attractive, young, hip people in the very heart of hipster Paris. What’s certain is that everyone was breaking their arms patting each other (and themselves) on the back for being so very progressive, tolerant, modern and leftist.

That made it really quite similar to the largest ever gatherings of the Holy Secular Empire: the 4-million person marches after the Charlie Hebdo attacks, which was at Place de la République too. I was there doing my usual dissident thing in very unwelcoming environment, LOL, and back then what all those fake-leftists hemmed and hawed about was the answer to this simple question: “How is drawing a cartoon of Prophet Mohammad bent over, with his butt cheeks spread, and a star over his anus, or a cartoon of Mohammad filming a porn movie not inflammatory / impolite/ dangerous / racist / Islamophobic / yelling “fire “in a crowded theater?” Fake-leftists still have no answer for that, of course, but they marched just the same and got teary over the sacred glories of French “liberty”.

Real leftists said, “Well, political science ain’t science, so like can attract like here: that stuff is dangerous and reactionary so I’m not surprised who they ran into….”

Another iteration of the media wing of the HSE was on the very day of the 2017 presidential election: French fake-leftist newspaper nonpareil Libération knowingly broke a law insisting on media neutrality just prior to elections by printing a cover which read, “Do what you want but vote Macron”.

This is way I imagined the paper’s budget meeting that day: the hysterical female journalists and the namby-pamby male journalist at Libé (or the namby-pamby female journalists and the hysterical male journalists – that’s fine by me) were sitting around their meeting room table and swearing before their atheistic god that they simply could not risk democracy taking place without fetters; their technocratic creed and noblesse oblige forced them – Gandhi-like – to flout the law in order to save the establishment from the far-right Marine Le Pen… even if that meant putting in the far-right (economically) Macron (who is also now a far-right imperialist, too). If history judged their efforts not the equal of Gandhi’s, Libération had but one choice: to formalise and protect a caste system, also like Gandhi.

The Yellow Vests do not believe that “Jews are secretly in charge” – what they oppose is the continuation of this caste culture, which allows high finance, careerist politicians and hipster Parisians to be the only ones writing public policy.

The Yellow Vests, I’m sure, are majority pro-Palestinian, but I’m even more sure that they view this banning of Zionism as a truly dangerous distraction which will not keep them from relying on food banks at the end of the month.

Those slurs won’t stick, but the Yellow Vests will – more marches are certain. Jews welcome… but only if they are Yellow Vest sympathisers – this is a class-based political movement, of course! Practitioners of identity politics will never be welcome.

As far as Macron… ugh. You have not failed to disappoint, and I openly expected you to be worse than Marine Le Pen, who is terrible. Macron proves, once again, that capitalism-imperialism is far worse than (and is the cause of) racism, anti-Semitism, Islamophobia, sectarianism, etc.

Ramin Mazaheri is the chief correspondent in Paris for PressTV and has lived in France since 2009. He has been a daily newspaper reporter in the US, and has reported from Iran, Cuba, Egypt, Tunisia, South Korea and elsewhere. His work has appeared in various journals, magazines and websites, as well as on radio and television. He can be reached on Facebook.

let’s cooperate to build a humane world

Sunday, 09 December

South Front

By  Eva Bartlet

DAMASCUS, SYRIA — On October 2, 2018, I met with the Grand Mufti of Syria, Dr. Ahmad Badr Al-Din Hassoun, a scholar and the highest official of Islamic law in Syria, who assumed the position of grand mufti in 2005.

Dr. Hassoun’s (archived) website notes that in addition to his title of grand mufti, his other positions include, “Chairman of the Media Committee of the Higher Consultative Council for the Rapprochement between the Islamic Schools of Thought, Islamic Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization.” Essentially meaning that the mufti focuses on interfaith, and inter-sect, dialogue.

His speeches routinely focus on the theme of rapprochement or, more generally, coexistence and love. He takes a firmly anti-sectarian stance, and supports the removal of barriers between sects, in order to achieve national unity.

Yet Dr. Hassoun’s detractors — most often aligned with NATO, Gulf, Turkish, or Israeli interests — accuse him of supporting terrorism. These claims emanate from a mistranslated version of a speech Hassoun gave in 2011 following the assassination of his son Saria just days before. The translation was provided by MEMRI, an organization founded by former Israeli intelligence officials that translates political speeches from Arabic into English.

Dr. Hassoun has long since addressed the accusation, including in a November 2011 interview with Der Spiegel, in which he clarified:

I didn’t threaten to send suicide bombers. I merely described a scenario in which it could easily emerge from the situation, and I warned against what could happen. Sentences were taken out of context and given a different coloring. Besides, the context to which my remark applied was a self-defense situation: a possible NATO attack on Syria.”

As I wrote previously, Dr. Hassoun spoke of the murder of his son Saria, “’…who had never carried a weapon in his life” and was gunned-down as he was leaving his university:

In a public address at the funeral the next day, Mufti Hassoun, while weeping, forgave the gunmen and called on them to lay down their weapons and re-join Syria. The following day, he received a text message saying the assassins would kill him as they had killed his son.

A year later, when two of the gunmen were caught, the Mufti went to speak with them. Again bestowing his forgiveness and asking only to know why they had murdered Saria, Mufti Hassoun learned that the assassins were simply following orders from Turkey and Saudi Arabia, and were paid for their dirty work, one thousand dollars per person. Embodying the forgiveness he preaches, the Mufti asks for their pardon and release.”

My conversation with Dr. Hassoun touched on Syria’s rich mosaic of cultures and faiths; Syria’s history of plurality and coexistence; the role of the media in shaping narratives on Syria, and the issue of Western sanctions on Syria, sanctions that specifically hurt the Syrian people — depriving Syrians of access to medicines, cancer treatments, medical equipment, even ambulances.

Mufti Hassoun is described in Western media as one of the most powerful figures in Syria. In my experiences, he is one of the most humble, approachable and compassionate figures, beloved by Syrians of all faiths.

Below is a translated transcript of my interview with Mufti Hassoun.

Eva Bartlett (EB): First of all, I’d like to thank you, Mufti Hassoun for your time today and for meeting with me.

Mufti Hassoun (MH): I would like to thank you because you were able to penetrate through the lies of the media, and come to Syria several times to report an authentic image of what has been happening in Syria.

Because the media, as President Trump put it, can be bought nowadays. The media write what they are told, not the truth.

Whereas you, Eva, you insisted on coming to Syria to see the truth and to report what is happening in Syria, and in Gaza, and in places where the fire of wars is raging.

You refused to lease your mind. You wanted to see the truth, and that is what I wish from all journalists in the world. [I wish] that journalists were never traders of values and principles, whose dignity and values can be bought. So they write what they are told, and report what they are told, not the truth.

The truth will be known to people through history. And God will hold us accountable for it [the truth] if we believe in God. And history will also hold us accountable.

So Eva, I have highly respected you since the first day you came. It wasn’t enough for you to listen to what I said and my words. You went on the streets, mixed with the people, went to Aleppo, went to Latakia, visited people in their homes.

You took the words from the supporters and the opposition listened to both parties and wrote the truth, that Syria is oppressed and that Syria has wonderful people. And that in Syria, there is no conflict between the people and the government.

The conflict is between the values and civilization that Syria enjoys [on the one hand], and those who want to drive people backwards [on the other hand] to a version of Islam that is not Islam, and to values that are not values. They want to enslave the people.

Thank you, Eva. I hope you will become a role model for free journalism, and for a noble, impartial, media, to report people’s pain and their hopes. Thanks to you, and to a father and a mother who raised you to become a truth seeker, and not one to follow others.

EB: How can Syria combat the sectarianism that is being thrust upon it by Saudi and Gulf television channels, and by their sheikhs (religious leaders), and by their muftis.

MH: Syria is a civilized country — it embraces all the civilizations of the world because it is the gate to the Orient. So [historically] those who wanted to go to China from Europe passed through Syria. And those who want to go back to Europe pass through Syria. Syria a hundred years ago was far bigger than Syria today. In Syria in 1900, 118 years ago, Palestine, Lebanon, Jordan and Syria were one country. One bank, one currency, one president, and one nation. There were no religious minorities in it. The reason is that it is the land of Abraham, and Abraham was the forefather of all prophets. He was the forefather of Moses, and of Jesus, and the forefather of Muhammad, may prayers and peace be upon them.

Therefore, Syria embraced those divine messages. So, in one family, you can find a Christian, you can find a Muslim, you can find a secularist, you can find a capitalist and you can find a socialist.

Syria embraced everyone. And it also embraced ethnicities like the Arabs, the Kurds, the Syriacs, the Assyrians, and the Arameans. One could hear many languages: Arabic, Armenian, Chaldean, and Aramaic. One could find people from all over the world. If you went to its churches in Palestine, which was part of Syria at the time, you could find in these churches a Greek monk, a French bishop, an Aramean bishop, a Chaldean, an Arab, all of them in the churches praying together.

And if you went to the Aqsa mosque, you would see the Arabs, the Kurds, others from all ethnicities or regions, such as Egyptians and Libyans, inside the Aqsa Mosque. There were no ‘minorities’ in Syria. Syria is a nation in which all ethnicities are gathered. Therefore, when they [imperialist nations] divided it in 1900 into four countries, they wanted to create conditions for establishing countries on an ethnic, religious, and racist basis, which fight one another.

After the division, we did not fight with Lebanon, nor did we fight with Iraq, nor did we fight with Jordan, nor did we fight with Palestine.

They went to the world and told them that Solomon’s Temple was in Palestine. Come to Solomon’s Temple… I am very surprised by these words, that Solomon’s Temple, or the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, or the Aqsa Mosque, or the Kaaba, gather all the people of this religion in this country!

That means every Jew should be in Palestine, every Christian should be in Bethlehem, and every Muslim should be in al-Aqsa. This is untrue! Exalted God is in my heart, and in the heart of that Jew and that Christian. God is in our hearts. He is not in the church, nor in the temple, nor in the Kaaba. Thus began this religious, extremist ideology, by making countries fight one another for hundreds of years, and kill one another in the name of God.

The difference between war in the name of religion and war for money or oil is that with war for oil, when you put your hand on oil wells, the war ends. When you control politics, the war is over. But when it comes to religion, here is the problem: the fight will go on for hundreds of years.

The reason is that wars become “holy.” This is what happened 500 years ago when Europe came to wage war in Syria and in Palestine. If you asked those fighters who came from Norway, Italy, France and Britain, “Why did you come to Syria?” they would say: “We came to save the tomb of the Messiah.” To save the tomb of the Messiah. And we could ask them: “Is Jesus buried in the ground? Jesus is in Heaven. So why are you fighting for a tomb that is empty?”

But the clergies used to fuel these wars to profit from them, and politicians used to work with them, so they could be leaders and kings.

The war in Syria, which has been going on for the last eight years, started for similar reasons. It is a war to divide Syria into ethnicities and sects, and to weaken it.

Like what they did in Lebanon. In Lebanon in 1960, and before 1960, the president was Maronite, and the prime minister was Sunni, and the president of the parliament was Shia, and they did not fight.  They were one family.

But, after the Lebanese war, Lebanon was divided into four divisions: There was a Sunni state, a Durzi state, a Shia state, and a Maronite state. It was a big lie. Syria entered into Lebanon, eliminated the borders, and withdrew.

We were surprised by the war on Iraq. From long ago, Iraq has had Sunnis, Shias, Kurds, Assyrians, Chaldeans and Syriacs. They are there in Iraq. Iraq is a country that houses nations. They have always integrated and coexisted.

[Paul] Bremer came and established their constitution. That constitution is a sectarian and racist constitution. That constitution states that the president of the republic should be a Kurd, the prime minister should be a Shia, and the president of the parliament should be a Sunni.

Am I electing a bishop for a church or an Imam for a mosque depending on his being a Kurd, a Sunni, or a Shia? I am electing a person to govern the state and serve the people. So when I say that the president of the parliament must be a Shia, and the prime minister be a Sunni… Why Sunni or Shia?

He must be an Iraqi citizen. He must be a Syrian citizen, whether Christian or Muslim.

Today, the president of the parliament in Syria is a Christian. Where is the problem? Eighty years ago, the prime minister was a Christian, Faris Al-Khouri. Where is the problem?

Syria has held on to this humanitarian notion that the children of this country are not minorities. There are tens of Yazidi villages, they are originally Zoroastrian. There are Christians of all sects. There are Sunnis of all doctrines. There are Shias of all doctrines. There are sects from all ethnicities.

They are all a population of 23 million citizens. They have the right to vote. They have the right to occupy any rank in the government, like the Ministry of Defense. One is never asked whether he is a Muslim, a Christian, or a Jew, Sunni, Shia, or an Arab, or a Kurd, or an Assyrian. As long as he is a Syrian citizen.

For this reason, the war was started in Syria. Because it is a civil and secular state, but not non-religious. Syria respects religions and acknowledges everyone’s religion, and has a law that protects everyone’s religious and ethnic rights.

The Armenians, who came from Armenia after the wars that were waged there, we didn’t say to any of them: ‘abandon your language.’ There are Armenian schools. There are Syriac schools. Along with Arabic, they study Armenian and Syriac. They did not lose their identity.

All this hatred to Syria is because it did not submit to the European or American division that was imposed on Iraq and Lebanon. France imposed this ethnic and religious division in Lebanon.

Regarding Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Bahrain, and Kuwait, they do not have the same diversity that exists in Syria. They are states based on clans. Let’s take al-Hijaz, the state of Hijaz.  Al-Hijaz, since the time of prophet Muhammad (prayers and peace be upon him) until one hundred years ago, was the home for all Arab tribes, from Najran to Dammam, to Abha, to Khamis Mishait, to Ma’an. All Arab tribes lived there, and all those tribes were Muslims.

When the Saudis came into power, they replaced the name of the country al-Hijaz with the name of the family. The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. Therefore, the country was no longer for the nation but for a family.

Syria is a nation, and does not belong to the Assad family. Syria is for the nation, and does not belong to al-Quwatli family. Syria is for the nation, and does not belong to Amin al-Hafiz. (Al-Quwatli and al-Hafiz were presidents of Syria). Syria is a nation.

Saudi Arabia — a part of which was called Hijaz — was a country for all Arab tribes, before a single tribal name was imposed on them.

That is why these countries do not know the meaning of the sectarian and ethnic diversity that we know in Syria. Diversity gives you power, it gives you richness. When there are Kurds, Armenians, Christians, Muslims, Jews and the secular, they all each think in their own way.

So, when they sit together they produce a wealth of ideas and culture. There, they don’t accept a different opinion. For example, I used to go to al-Hijaz to perform Hajj [pilgrimage] with a group of Syrians. I wanted to deliver a speech to them; it’s forbidden: ‘You should not speak. The speaker must be a Saudi.’

Whereas, in Syria, we welcomed the Saudi, the Egyptian, the British, and the American, in our cultural centers and we would listen to them, and listen to their speeches.

I myself received in my mosque, al-Rawda mosque in Aleppo, members of parliament from all over the world. Even one of the Philippines’ presidents visited us. Austria’s minister of foreign affairs visited me in the mosque and listened to the sermon, and we listened to their words.

We have no objection to listening to the other. Whereas, those countries are racist and religious countries. [They] don’t accept other religions, and not only other religions, but also other doctrines.

For example, the Wahhabi doctrine — they don’t accept other doctrines. In Syria, we have a mufti for the Shafie school, a mufti for the Jafari school, a mufti for Hanbali school, and a mufti for the Maliki school. As long as there is a group, it has its own religious doctrine.

There is a patriarch for the Orthodox, a patriarch for the Syriacs, and a patriarch for the Catholics. This is their natural right.

In Saudi Arabia, such a thing is prohibited, unless [the mufti is] a Sunni Salafist. These days, you [Saudi Arabia] receive around 3 or 4 million Muslim pilgrims from all over the world. There are Sunni pilgrims, Shia pilgrims, Sufi pilgrims. As long as he [the pilgrim] is speaking to his group, it is his right. So why do you prevent him [from doing so]?

In Syria, this is the intellectual freedom they wanted to get rid of with this sectarian war, where they said: ‘This is Alawite, this is Sunni’ … and that the government in Syria is Alawite.

Who says that Alawites are not Syrians, and not Muslims, or not sons of this country? If they had studied only the word ‘Alawite,’ [they would have found] that it means a spiritual Sufi Muslim who loves [Imam] Ali and does not hate others. This is the meaning of the word ‘Alawite.’

And the Druze, they are the Unitarians; [they are] a Muslim nation called the Unitarians, whose forefathers build al-Azhar [mosque].

The Jafari Shias are the followers of Imam Jafar al-Sadiq whose forefather is the Messenger of God [Muhammad].

The Sunnis, their sheikhs were the students of Jafar al-Sadiq. All of them. Imam Malik, Imam Abu Hanifa, were students of Jafar al-Sadiq.

What you see today of religious division is not religious; it is political division hiding under a religious cloak to control people by coercion, not by thoughts, nor by mind, nor by culture. ‘There shall be no compulsion in the religion’ (The Qur’an 2:256).

This is the main difference between us [Syria] and other countries.

EB: My next question dovetails with your response, because I had wanted to note how the Saudi mufti is sectarian, and has called for the churches on the Arabian peninsula to be destroyed, whereas I recall that Reverend Ibrahim Nseir told me that when his church was destroyed by terrorists in Aleppo, the first person to call him was Mufti Hassoun, who said: ‘Don’t worry, Reverend, we will rebuild your church.’ So, there is a stark difference between the ideology and mentality of this Wahhabi, Saudi, mufti, and Mufti Hassoun – who, I believe – is it correct to say you consider yourself Mufti of all Syrians?

MH: First of all, what is happening in Syria, the demolition of churches and mosques … they destroyed both churches and mosques. They are not defending a religion; they are fighting to destroy the Syrian state, and to destroy this humanitarian fabric that is present in Syria.

Therefore, they tried to demolish Tadmur [Palmyra]. Palmyra has nothing to do with Muslims or Christians. They tried to loot Syrian artifacts that go back five thousand, ten thousand years, including the ruins of Afamia and other ruins in Syria. So, they are trying to wipe out history in attempts to build a future. This future that they are trying to create is built on ethnic, sectarian, doctrinal and racist bases, where people kill one another.

And this is what you can see today in Israeli society. Israeli society has extremist and non-extremist components. There are neighbourhoods in al-Quds [Jerusalem] and neighbourhoods in Tel Aviv where one can walk and not feel they are in a civilized country, but a regressive one that goes back a thousand years. Long hair, beards. At 6 p.m. every Friday, no one is seen in the streets. It is prohibited to walk in the streets because God rests on Saturday, therefore people have to rest, too.

Why do you impose your opinion compulsorily on people when God says: ‘There shall be no compulsion in religion’?

The extremist Jew is like the extremist Muslim, whether this Muslim is a Sufi, Salafi or Wahhabi. The extremist is the one who wants to impose their beliefs on others and say, ‘You are all kuffar [disbelievers] except me. I’m the believer.’  Whether they are Christians, Muslims, or Jews, the extremists consider others as ‘kuffar.’

The extremist Jew considers the Israeli prime minister a disbeliever. And the extremist Christian considers Christians who don’t regularly go to church as disbelievers. And the extremist Muslim considers ones who belong to a different Islamic doctrine as disbelievers, not only the ones who belong to a different religion.

The Protestant does not see the Orthodox as a believer, and the Orthodox believes that the Protestant has renounced Christianity.

We consider everyone as believers, and God is the one who will judge me for my faith, because the place of faith is in the heart, not the church, nor the mosque. How many a person goes to the church or the mosque, but with no faith?!  And how many a person has faith but has never been to a church or a mosque, and he is reconciled with exalted God?

How many a person has never been to Bethlehem, nor to the Wailing Wall, or to the Kabba, but to God, he is a believer?

Therefore, this extremism in the world is due to the political and economic dominance over the religious sphere. Politicians and economists want to dominate the religious and human sphere to govern people in the name of the divine, to the extent that people will start kissing the hand of the president or king because he is the son [descendent] of Muhammad (peace be upon him). Or because he represents Jesus, or because he represents Israel. People will submissively kiss the hands of this rabbi, that sheikh or mufti, or that priest. They love this.

Whereas for me, I believe that all people of the world, seven billion people, are my brothers. They fall into two groups. Those who believe and walk with me on the same path, these are my healthy brothers [who are in the right]. The other group do not walk with me on the same path, those are my ill brothers [who are in the wrong]. My duty is to offer them medicine and love, not to call them criminals or disbelievers. I have to show them the path. Those who walk beside me and take the medicine, it is their decision. Those who refuse to take the medicine, it is also their decision. It is you who are in pain.

This is what makes me, in Syria, not represent any sect or religion or ethnicity. I am a son of Syria. My forefather, 500 years ago, might have been a Kurd, or my other forefather or foremother a Turk. My forefather might have been from the tribe of Tai, and my mother’s lineage might have descended from the tribe of Thubian, and my other forefather might have been from the tribe of Hashim. This is not important to me today. What matters is how to save Syria.

Fourteen hundred years ago, Syria as a whole was Christian. Before Islam came here, all Syrians from Gaza to Antioch were Christians. [Before that] the Byzantines came to them from Greece; they were pagans 2,000 years ago.

When Jesus came with his message, Syria was divided into two groups: the indigenous Christians, and the pagan invaders. Islam arrived and some Christians, like al-Ghasasinah and other big tribes, remained Christian, and the rest embraced Islam. They were of one big tribe, some of them remained Christian and others became Muslims. They coexisted.

When the Commander of the believers, Othman bin Affan, was martyred, his wife, Naila bint Qerfais, was a Christian from Kufa [Iraq], and her father was a Christian cleric.

In Syria, we have this broad vision of thought, and that is why they are waging war on us. They want our thoughts to be narrow and closed. No. We will keep calling out: ‘Praise be to the Lord of the worlds,’ not the Lord of the Muslims, nor the Lord of Christians, but the Lord of the Worlds. For God is the Lord of us all.

Those who agree, they are welcome. And for those who do not: ‘For you is your religion, and for me is my religion’ (The Qur’an, 109:6). I will not force my religion on you, and you [also] don’t force yours on me. However, I swear I do love you and have mercy for you.

EB: At the beginning [of the interview], you mentioned how the corporate media has lied about Syria. So I’d like to bring up something from a few years ago. And that was that you warned the Western world that if terrorism didn’t stop in Syria, it would spread to Europe and beyond. And some media — I think it was Gulf media — took your words and distorted them, and lied about your message. So, I would just ask you if you could please clarify what it was you said and how they lied, I’m sure you remember which incident I’m referring to.

MH: This question comes on a special day. Today is the anniversary of the martyrdom of [my son] Saria. I said those words five days after the martyrdom of Saria.

A delegation from Lebanon was visiting me. The delegation was named ‘the Caravan of Mary.’ They came to visit me in Aleppo to express their condolences for my son’s martyrdom. They were Lebanese and Syrians, Christians and Muslims. I met them in a mosque called the Omayyad mosque in Aleppo, at the shrine of Zakaria.

On that day, I said: ‘This fire that you are starting in Syria by the extremists. This fire … you have sleeper cells in Europe, these cells send extremists to Syria. Someday, these sleeper cells will be active and burn up in Europe as they did in Syria.’ So they reported that I said: ‘we have sleeper cells that we will send to you.’

How could we send them to you, when they are burning us, and while they came from your countries?!

Some of those so-called opposition members mistranslated my speech to some European governments, and claimed that the Syrian Mufti is threatening that he would send sleeper cells to bomb Europe. When my son Saria was martyred, five days before this speech, I said I had forgiven those who killed my son. How would I accept to send someone to kill your children? How could I accept this?

For three years, corporate media and Syrian opposition members residing over there [in Europe] complained to the United Nations that the mufti of Syria should be held accountable, the mufti of Syria is a terrorist, the mufti of Syria…

It is indeed extremely surprising that Europeans listened to my speech in front of the European Council in 2009. I told them then: ‘I call you my brothers, not Europeans. I told them ‘you are my brothers, and our civilization is one.’ European, Syrian, and Arabic civilizations are one civilization which is neither a Muslim civilization, nor a Christian one. It is produced by humanity.

They entirely forgot this speech, as well as the martyrdom of my son, Saria. They also forgot my forgiveness. Instead, they would say: ‘He threatened us and is forbidden from entering Europe.’

I received several invitations from universities in Britain, France, and the United States to lecture there. The governments refuse to grant me entry. Why? Because they do not want the truth to reach their people.

For me, I disapprove of killing any human being in the universe. Even Israelis, I disapprove of killing them. However, I approve of their return to the countries they originally came from, and the return of Palestinians [to their land and homes]. The Jews, Christians, and Muslims who stay in Palestine are the ones who decide what type of government to have, and also welcome visitors from all over the world to Palestine.

The Jews, the Christians, and the Muslims should have the right to come and pray freely [in Palestine] under the protection of law.

But, this banning and this war that’s ongoing in the world, it’s all a political, economic and racist war, wearing the cloak of religion to claim: ‘We are Muslims. We are Christians. We are Jews.’

No, you are not Muslims, nor Jews, nor Christians when you kill humans. You are God’s enemies.

God says in the Psalms of David: ‘Man is my creation, man is the creation of God. Cursed is he who destroys God’s creation.’

Cursed is the one who manufactures weapons of mass destruction. Cursed is the one who plants landmines in the roads to kill people. Cursed is the one who manufactures nuclear weapons. Cursed is the one who manufactures hydrogen weapons [bombs]. Cursed is the one who launches long-range missiles at people, to kill people. Cursed are the ones who manufacture such weapons and use them to kill people, even if they are in the mosque, church, or synagogue.

God has not put us is this universe to kill one another. All prophets — Abraham, Moses, Jesus, Muhammad, Noah — they are all our prophets. Who did they kill? They did not kill anyone, but rather, they invited people to life, they encouraged the culture of life. So, those who kill nowadays in their names [in the names of the prophets] …

The massacre of Deir Yassin in Palestine, the displacement of 4 million Palestinians, the demolition of 3,000 Palestinian villages. By God, Moses is innocent in all of this. Moses was not sent to kill people, because he was oppressed by the Pharaoh.

Our master, Jesus, peace be upon him … when we look at those wars, the Crusades — I prefer to say ‘foreign’ wars, not Crusades … In the name of Jesus’ grave, more than 75,000 Palestinians were killed inside the Aqsa mosque, killed by the British and French armies that came to Palestine to liberate the tomb of Jesus.

Jesus came to promote life. When he touched the dead, he resurrected them. So, you kill in the name of Jesus, while Jesus would give life to the dead. So how false you are! This has nothing to do with Jesus. Jesus said: ‘God is love.’

Those who do not love are not Christians, neither are those who want [accept] other people to starve. Today, Europe consumes all types of food, while in Africa there are children dying of famine[ in Gaza there are children dying of illness; and the Rohingya, the Muslims who were forcibly displaced from Myanmar, are dying of hunger and illness. Are we truly Christians or Muslims when we see these scenes? No. No, not at all.

Therefore, we have to reconsider what is being said in the media, because the media … I can pay it [pay the media] now to make me the Gandhi of the world, and to make me the Trustworthy Joseph, and to make me the messenger of love. I can buy the media. But I do not want to lie, nor do I want them [the media] to lie; this is what I am.

There are some who buy the media to make the mufti of Syria look like a ‘terrorist,’ although I have never shown anything but love to seven billion human beings — they are my brothers and sisters from the same ancestors. My soul is, as their souls, from Heaven, and my body is, as their bodies, from clay.

EB: I want to convey my condolences to you for the anniversary of his your son’s martyrdom.

MH: This is Saria, with me and with my father [the Mufti showed me images on a cell phone of his deceased son]. They have sent me these messages through Facebook today, as it is the anniversary of Saria’s martyrdom.

EB: Thank you very much, Mufti Hassoun.

MH: You are welcome. Thank you. Thank you. I hope you convey this message to the whole world. We love the people of the world. In Syria, we do not hate anyone. Yes, we hate the oppression of the aggressors, and if the aggressor refrains from their aggression, we will love them, too.

We hate the wrong deed, not the person. Jesus, peace be upon him, said to the ones who were stoning a woman because she was an adultress, he said: ‘Who is without sin amongst you that can cast a stone at her.’

We are all sinners, but our duty is to guide people to repentance, not to sin. We have to promote life among human beings.

Please, convey our regards to the nations of the world; we love them, and we want peace.

Tell the ones who are manufacturing weapons in the world that it is enough! Come, let’s cooperate to build a humane world free of wars and weapons of mass destruction, where all of us cooperate with one another.

Eva Bartlett is a Canadian independent journalist and activist. She has spent years on the ground covering conflict zones in the Middle East, especially in Syria and Palestine. She is a recipient of the International Journalism Award for International Reporting. Visit her personal blog, In Gaza, and support her work on Patreon.

https://www.mintpressnews.com/interview-grand-mufti-ahmad-badr-al-din-hassoun-syria/252590/

Editor-in-Chief

Dr. Mohamad Abdo Al-Ibrahim

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The ship Is But to The Shore

 Journey into the Heart of Reality

The difference between how Christians are treated in Assad’s Syria compared to areas under US backed terrorist control

Treatment of Christians in Assad’s Syria vs in US-backed ‘Rebel’ Areas

We want to thank Janice Kortkamp who has traveled around Syria for several months during the past two years for this inspiring post. Her report paints a totally different picture from what the United States government and our mainstream media tells us about what is happening to Christians in Syria.

Janice began researching Syria and the war in 2012 and has put in well over 6,000 hours in research. She has made hundreds of contacts in Syria also ex-pat Syrians in several other countries. Also, she has made four trips in 2016-2017, each almost one month long that included: Traveled to Damascus (inc. Ma’aloula and Saidnaya), Homs (inc. Valley of the Christians and villages in the countryside near Masyaf), Lattakia (inc. Ugarit, Slonfeh, Kessab), Tartous (inc. Amrit, Arwad) Aleppo, Palmyra, and Deir Ezzor (inc. Al Mayadeen).

During her travels, she met with: Soldiers, doctors, lawyers, scientists, artists, musicians, community and government leaders, professors, teachers, students, displaced persons, religious leaders, businessmen, housewives, children – from all major religious groups. She met with refugees and immigrants from Syria in Germany, Lebanon, Kuwait and America; as well as internally displaced persons in Syria from Aleppo, Idlib, Deir Ezzor, Raqqa, Al Mayadeen and other areas of Syria.

Janice describes herself as “100% independent and self-funded thru my husband and some donations from friends and family.” [Ed.-TEC]


Christianity in Syria vs Christianity in “Rebel” Held Areas of Syria – Syria Resources Archive

On this Palm Sunday for western churches, allow me to compare and contrast Christianity in Syria vs Christianity in US-backed “rebel” held areas of Syria.

Some of these pics are from my own travels around Syria the past two years.

In government held areas of Syria (about 85% of the population is in these areas):

– The government of Syria is secular; its constitution protects all religions. The population of Syria is 90% Muslim. Sunnis are the majority, over 70%. The rest are various sects like Alawites, traditional Shiite, Druze, Ismailis, Sufis etc. Before the war, Christians made up about 10%. Now it’s possible half are gone. The president is mandated to be Muslim in the constitution and there are many who would like that changed, but that is a matter only for the Syrian people to decide.

– There are hundreds if not over a thousand churches in Syria. Eastern Orthodox and Catholic primarily but also all major Protestant denominations. Churches and mosques sit comfortably side by side.

– Easter is a national holiday in Syria. The government and businesses are closed.

– Many Muslims attend Easter services and celebrations with their Christian friends. Everywhere around government controlled Syria you will see Easter parades and events.

– The Syrian Arab Army is also secular. Muslims and Christians fight side by side against the US supported terrorist groups. Many thousands of Muslim soldiers, including some Hezbollah and Iranian fighters, have died protecting Christian areas and populations. Christians have died protecting their Muslim brothers.

– Christians are in every level of leadership and society in Syria. The current head of Parliament is Christian.

– The Christians of Syria, virtually all, stand with their president and army against the “rebel” terrorists who have targeted them for expulsion and often execution. I have met with many Christians there, leaders and just regular folks. They’ve all said the same. One young Christian lady asked me, on a Palm Sunday when I was there, “Why do Americans want us all dead?” The great majority of Muslims also stand with their president and army including the majority of Sunnis.

– President Assad recently spoke with a group of Christian youth. He said, “Christians are not guests or migrating birds. They are from the origins of the nation and without them, there is no Syria.” He and his wife visit Christian towns, villages, orphanages, churches etc often.

– Christian and Muslim leaders meet regularly together.

– In areas that have been liberated by the Syrian Army from US supported terrorist “rebels”, churches are being rebuilt and reopened.

In areas where US supported “rebels” are still in control:

– Christians have been executed, often by beheading, or driven out of their homes. “Rebels” have kidnapped, tortured, and killed priests and nuns. They’ve massacred whole Christian villages. Any Christians who’ve tried to stay in their homes under the terrorists’ rule are required to pay a special tax and are the victims of abuse and persecution.

– There is no religious tolerance in “rebel” held areas of Syria. No operating churches, in fact they are often burned and destroyed by the “rebels”.

Gathering of religious and government leaders
Meeting with Pastor Ibrahim in Aleppo, April 2017
President and Mrs. Assad visiting the orphanage in Ma’aloula, an ancient Christian village, on Easter before the war
Ma’aloula is rebuilding after being liberated from US backed “rebels” fighting alongside al Qaeda. The “rebels” killed many townspeople but most were able to escape. The “rebels” looted and burned the churches there.
Easter week in Ma’aloula in April of 2017 as the town was preparing for an Easter parade.
This wonderful man sang The Lord’s Prayer for us in Aramaic in Ma’aloula.
A man of Ma’aloula who joined the town’s militia to protect it.
Christian soldier in the Syrian Arab Army.
This mortar fell on a small Christian school. The “rebels” often fired mortars into civilian areas of Damascus. Each one is filled with shrapnel and kill many people.
An ancient Christian manuscript preserved in the Al Assad Library, Damascus
Orphanage in Damascus
This gate commemorates where the Apostle Paul was lowered over the Damascus wall.
An orphanage and elderly/special needs care facility in Damascus
Orphanage in Damascus
President and Mrs. Assad visited Saidnaya Convent recently.
President and Mrs. Assad in a church during the Christmas season about 2 years ago.
Syrian soldiers
During the renovation of a church in Old Homs, May 2016
Inside a church in Old Homs
Father Frans van der Lugt was murdered by al Qaeda “rebels” in Old Homs shortly before the city was liberated by the Syrian Army.
In Ma’aloula in May 2016 surveying damage done by “rebels” to a church there.

Source: Whtt

نقاط على الحروف شجاعة الاعتذار أم شجاعة العناد؟

ناصر قنديل

يناير 30, 2018

– ليست القضية الآن مناقشة مواضيع خلافية حول قانون الانتخابات أو حول مرسوم الأقدمية أو حول نظرة التيار الوطني الحرّ وحركة أمل لبعضهما البعض واتهام التيار للحركة بالسعي لبناء دولة محاصصة على حساب تطلعات التيار الإصلاحية، واتهامات الحركة للتيار بالسعي لتعميم أوسع نطاق للمحاصصة باسم مناهضتها، أو اتهام التيار للحركة بالحنين إلى العودة لزمن الغياب المسيحي عن دولة ما بعد الطائف، أو اتهام الحركة للتيار بالحنين لدولة ما قبل الطائف كلياً، فكلّ هذا يصبح صغيراً أمام أن يذهب البلد إلى حيث تنفلت الغرائز وتغيب السياسة، وتذبل القيم، ويصير الحلال حراماً والحرام حلالاً، ويغيب الأوادم وينتشر الزعران، في المنابر والشوارع والأحزاب.

– ليست القضية فيديو مسرّباً ولا كلاماً منسوباً، ولا قضية متربّصين ولا مصطادين بالماء العكر، بل كلام معيب ومرفوض ولا يتصل بقواعد وأدبيات وقيم العمل السياسي ارتكبَ فيه فعلَ القول وزيرُ خارجية لبنان ورئيس التيار الوطني الحر جبران باسيل، بحق مقام وطني كبير هو رئيس مجلس النواب نبيه بري. والوزير باسيل شخص يشقّ طريق الصعود والتقدّم في الحياة السياسية ويبني حضوراً في الداخل والخارج ويتأهّل للعب أدوار، وينجح بجمع النقاط وتحقيق المكاسب ويحظى بثقة مواقع هامة وفاعلة تتيح له تحويل الطموحات واقعاً. وفجأة يرتكب الخطأ القاتل فيحوّل الخلاف والسجال من حيث هو تباين وصراع وتجاذب، إلى حيث هو شتيمة ولغة هابطة. والشتيمة هنا لا ينفع في تبريرها أيّ كلام عن تسريب أو كلام منسوب، فهي فعل وله فاعل ونقطة على السطر.

– ليست القضية أن يختلف البعض بحق أو بغير حق مع رئيس مجلس النواب نبيه بري، ولا أن يتوسّل البعض الخلاف معه لكسب سياسي أو سلطوي أو طائفي، ولا أن يكون الرئيس بري كلاعب سياسي حاسم وفاعل في المعادلة اللبنانية القائمة منذ عقود، كركن من أركان نظام يمكن أن يُقال فيه وله وعليه الكثير، وأن يناله من هذا الكثير بسلبه وإيجابه الكثير أيضاً، موضوعاً لتقييم أو طرفاً في خلاف، بل القضية أنّ الرئيس بري يختزل في شخصه قامة ترمز لجيل وطموحات أجيال، ورجل دولة قلّ نظيره في برلمانات العرب والعالم كرمز للقدرة على حماية لغة الحوار والحلول وصناعة المبادرات، قامة كتبت تاريخ صعود المقاومة وانتصاراتها، وسجل لها ريادة النضال لإسقاط مشروع الاحتلال «الإسرائيلي» لبيروت الذي توّج باتفاق السابع عشر من أيار، وإسقاط مشروع العنصرية الطائفية واستبداله بحكومات الشراكة الوطنية وصولاً إلى اتفاق الطائف، وإسقاط مشروع الاستتباع الأميركي ومشروع فيليب حبيب، واستبداله بلبنان العربي الهوية والانتماء بعلاقته المميّزة مع سورية الذي كرّسه اتفاق الطائف. والرئيس بري رمز جامع لطائفة لبنانية مؤسسة أنصفها النظام اللبناني واعترف بحقوقها مكوناً كامل الأوصاف متأخراً، تتويجاً لنضال وعذابات لأجيال توّجت مكانتها مع رمزية قيادية مرجعية مثلها موقع الرئيس نبيه بري، والنيل بلغة مسيئة ونابية من الرئيس نبيه بري هو استنفار عصبي لكلّ من تعنيهم هذه الأبعاد وتلك المعاني.

– ليست القضية أنّ عابر سبيل أو كاتباً نكرة قال كلاماً مسيئاً بحق الرئيس نبيه بري، بل القائل هو رئيس التيار الوطني الحر، التيار الذي صار زعيمه ومؤسّسه رئيس الجمهورية القوي العماد ميشال عون، الزعيم المسيحي الآتي من خلفية تاريخ مليء بالمواقف الجدلية والسجالية، لكن المشهود له بالشجاعة والصدق والوفاء والثبات والصمود وشرف الاتفاق والخلاف، وقد رفض البيع والشراء في طلب الرئاسة، وصار رئيساً، في انتصار لخيار تاريخي راهن عليه جمهور المقاومة التي يتشارك جمهور الرئيس بري في تكوينه، بغضّ النظر عن ملابسات الموقف الانتخابي وتفاصيله، والكلام المقال يأتي على خلفية انقسام بين تيارين وجمهورين وشارعين شريكين في الخيارات الكبرى، لكنه يُقال على خلفية الإقرار بسهولة اشتعال الحرب الكلامية وغير الكلامية بينهما بمقدار سهولة سيولة الشوارع الطائفية في لبنان.

– ليست اللحظة للتأمّل ولا للعتاب، ولا لمناقشة الصحّ والخطأ في قضايا الخلاف، بل اللحظة للقرار والإقدام. وكلّ إسراع توفير لمزيد من الخسائر، والقرار بيد رئيس الجمهورية ورئيس التيار الوزير جبران باسيل، ثمة خطأ، وثمة عناد يبني شخصية الرجل القوي رئيساً للجمهورية أو رئيساً للتيار، والمفاضلة بينهما اليوم هي مفاضلة لصالح الوطن، والاعتذار الذي يشكل أقلّ الواجب عما قيل، قد يبدو انكساراً لشخصية العناد التي تبحث عن صورة القوة، لكن ليس هذا هو الحساب الذي نتوقع أن يقيمه من يتولى المسؤولية الأولى في الدولة، أو مَن يتصدّر لتوليها في يوم من الأيام ويجمع النقاط بنجاح نحوها، بل الحساب هو أن ثقافة الاعتذار حرص ومسؤولية عندما تكون واجباً عن خطأ تمّ ارتكابه فعلاً، هي الشجاعة التي تكتمل بها معايير صناعة الشخصيات القيادية للشعوب والدول، «ومَن كان منكم بلا خطيئة فليرجمها بحجر»، و«التراجع عن الخطأ فضيلة»، بل هو الفضيلة. الشجاعة هنا تفوق شجاعة موهومة يرسمها العناد، قيل في الماضي «كلمة بتحنّن وكلمة بتجنّن»، واللبنانيون اليوم يحتاجون وينتظرون «الكلمة اللي بتحنّن» ومن حقهم أن يضعوا أيديهم على قلوبهم من «الكلمة اللي بتجنّن»، والفاصل بينهما هو حق وحقيقة، وليس منّة ولا جميلاً.

Nasser Kandil: On Syrian and Lebano’s Army Day

 

Interview with Flemish priest in Syria: “Putin and Assad saved my life” ~ The Western media coverage of Syria is [according to Father Daniël Maes] the greatest media lie of our time

Source

The Flemish Father Daniël Maes (78) lives in Syria in the sixth-century-old Mar Yakub monastery in the city of Qara, 90 kilometers north of the capital Damascus. Father Daniel has been a witness to the “civil war” and according to him, Western reports on the conflict in Syria are very misleading. In short: “the Americans and their allies want to completely ruin the country”. 


Interviewer: You are very critical of the media coverage on Syria. What is bothering you?

Father Daniel: “The idea that a popular uprising took place against President Assad is completely false. I’ve been in Qara since 2010 and I have seen with my own eyes how agitators from outside Syria organized protests against the government and recruited young people. That was filmed and aired by Al Jazeera to give the impression that a rebellion was taking place. Murders were committed by foreign terrorists, against the Sunni and Christian communities, in an effort to sow religious and ethnic discord among the Syrian people. While in my experience, the Syrian people were actually very united”.


Comment: Notice that Al Jazeera did the exact same thing in Libya:

Behind the Headlines: NATO Slaughter – James and Joanne Moriarty expose the truth about what happened in Libya

If you were a journalist in Libya during this time you were relatively safe; not because these animals respected journalists as neutral observers, but because the journalists were on their side. The Moriartys have evidence of embedded journalists, not least from Qatar-owned Al Jazeera, whose staff were among the terrorists from day one, personally calling in airstrikes and working side-by-side with the terrorists.


Father Daniel: Before the war, this was a harmonious country: a secular state in which different religious communities lived side by side peacefully. There was hardly any poverty, education was free, and health care was goodIt was only not possible to freely express your political views. But most people did not care about that.”

Interviewer: Sister Agnès-Mariam, the Lebanese-French prioress of your Mar Yakub (“Saint Jacob”) monastery, is accused of siding with the regime. She has friends at the highest level. 

Father Daniel: “Sister Agnès-Mariam helps the population: she has recently opened a soup kitchen in Aleppo, where 25,000 meals are prepared five times a week. Look, it is miraculous that we are still alive. We owe that to the army of Assad’s government and to Vladimir Putin, because he decided to intervene when the rebels threatened to take power.


Comment: See also: John Kerry admits that Russia entered Syrian war to stop ISIS, U.S. used ISIS to pressure Assad


Father Daniel: When thousands of terrorists settled in Qara, we became afraid for our lives. They came from the Gulf States, Saudi Arabia, Europe, Turkey, Libya, there were many Chechens. They formed a foreign occupation force, all allied to al-Qaeda and other terrorists. Armed to the teeth by the West and their allies with the intention to act against us, they literally said: “This country belongs to us now.” Often, they were drugged, they fought each other, in the evening they fired randomly. We had to hide in the crypts of the monastery for a long time. When the Syrian army chased them away, everybody was happy: the Syrian citizens because they hate the foreign rebels, and we because peace had returned.”

Interviewer: You say that the Syrian Army protects civilians, yet there are all sorts of reports about war crimes committed by Assad’s forces, such as the bombardments with barrel bombs.

Father Daniel: “Do you not know that the media coverage on Syria is the biggest media lie of our time? They have sold pure nonsense about Assad: It was actually the rebels who plundered and killedDo you think that the Syrian people are stupid? Do you think those people were forced to cheer for Assad and Putin? It is the Americans who have a hand in all of this, for pipelines and natural resources in this region and to thwart Putin.”

Saudi Arabia and Qatar want to establish a Sunni state in Syria, without religious freedom. Therefore, Assad must go. You know, when the Syrian army was preparing for the battle in Aleppo, Muslim soldiers came to me to be blessed. Between ordinary Muslims and Christians, there is no problem. It is those radical Islamic, Western-backed rebels who want to massacre us. They are all al Qaeda and IS. There are not any moderate fighters anymore.

Interviewer: You once mentioned Hillary Clinton to be a ‘devil in holy water’, because as foreign minister, she deliberately worsened the conflict.

Father Daniel: “I am happy with Trump. He sees what every normal person understands: That the United States should stop undermining countries which possess natural resources. The Americans’ attempt to impose a unipolar world is the biggest problem. Trump understands that radical Islam is a bigger threat than Russia.

What do I care whether he occasionally takes off his pants? If Trump practices geopolitics the way he has promised to do so, then the future looks bright. Then it will become similar to Putin’s approach. And hopefully then, there will be a solution for Syria, and peace will return.

Interviewer: You understand that your analysis is controversial and will encounter much criticism?

Father Daniel: “I speak from personal observation. And no one has to believe me, right? But I know one thing: The media can either contribute to the massacre of the Syrian people or help the Syrian people, with their media coverage. Unfortunately, there are too many followers and cowards among journalists”.


RELATED:

Father Daniël Maes (78):
“Western media spreading lies on Syria and Western governments are in alliance with radical Islamists who completely ruining the country”


http://wikimapia.org/#lang=en&lat=35.003003&lon=38.430176&z=7&m=bs

click on map to enlarge ~ here for the original link


SOURCES:
Sott.net for the English translation
Original version here 
Submitted by Flyingcuttlefish and SyrianPatriots
War Press Info Network at:
https://syrianfreepress.wordpress.com/2017/07/24/putin-assad-saved-life/
~
Re-publications are welcome, but we kindly ask you,
to facilitate the correct information's diffusion,
to cite all these original links and sources.

PeakProsperity interviews The Saker (podcast)

July 11, 2017

The Real Reasons the West Cannot Topple Bashar Assad

The Real Reasons the West Cannot Topple Bashar Assad

Posted on June 13, 2017

Sarah Abed has posted a fascinating article at her blog, The Rabbit Hole, providing an analysis of how, and why, Syrian President Bashar Assad–despite nearly eight years of sweat poured by scheming Western regime changers into the goal of toppling his government–has managed to hang on.

What the heck is it about this guy? How has he piloted his way through every single Zionist effort to rip his country apart and install a puppet government favorable to the West? What’s his secret? For after all, hordes of Western-trained terrorist head-choppers have been poured into Syria equipped with shiny fleets of Toyotas and advanced-grade military weaponry, yet Assad, almost miraculously, has remained at the head of the government, and for the most part has kept the country together. How has he been able to do this? Abed supplies four main reasons.

Reason # 1 she gives is the president’s strong spiritual faith, and in discussing that faith she furnishes some interesting information about the Alawite religion. Here is an excerpt from her article:

First and foremost there is Bashar al-Assad’s unwavering dedication to his family’s spiritual traditions and religious faith.  Being an ardent practitioner of the Alawite religion like his father and forefathers before him, Assad has drawn great strength from this mystical and tolerant branch of Shia Islam. He went into the medical profession and trained as an ophthalmologist because of his desire to serve the Syrian people.

Also known as Alawis, Alawites “are a prominent religious group, centered in Syria, who follow a branch of the Twelver school of Shia Islam but with syncretistic elements.“[1]  Because his religious community had suffered religious persecution and many other indignities over generations prior to his father’s presidency, he is quite sensitive to the need for religious tolerance.  Particularly within the context of Syria’s historical religious diversity, did the Alawites rise to provide the cohesive leadership necessary to maintain the peace and mutual acceptance?  This remarkable achievement occurred over decades when many neighboring nations suffered the fate of one failed government after another.

For those who are cognizant of the well-known Hindu religious tolerance in India, Alawites are quite similar.  They not only believe in reincarnation as in the East, they have also absorbed many other aspects of the predominant religions in Syria especially those found in Islam and Christianity.  Because of their syncretic approach in both philosophy and practice, Alawis have evolved into a genuinely tolerant spiritual community who actively cultivate a climate of mutual respect.  However, it is the mystical aspects of their spiritual practice which has earned them the respect of the Syrian people.  Because they are known to walk their talk, they have been trusted to lead as they have done for almost 5 decades.

Alawites consider themselves to be Muslims, although some Sunnis dispute that they are. Alawite doctrine incorporates Gnostic, neo-Platonic, Islamic, Christian and other elements and has, therefore, been described as syncretistic.

Alawite beliefs have never been confirmed by their modern religious authorities. Alawites tend to conceal their beliefs (taqiyya) due to historical persecution. Some tenets of the faith are secret, known only to a select few; therefore, they have been described as a mystical sect.

All religions, of course, are syncretic to one degree or another, so perhaps the Alawites are not unique in that regard. But they certainly are a religious minority in Syria, representing just 11 percent of the population. For the Syrian people to support Assad to the extent that they do (he won the 2014 election with 88.7 percent of the vote) would suggest not only a remarkable degree of trust in the man, but also respect for his religious faith.

As I said, Abed gives a total of four reasons, in the main, why Assad remains standing despite everything the West has thrown at him. Reason # 2?  The strength of his wife, Asma. As Abed puts it, “the Assad marriage reveals how a strong woman often exists behind every great leader.” Reason # 3–the guidance and training he received from his father, Hafez Assad. Reason #4 — no surprise — the alliance with Russia.

All in all, as I say, it’s a fascinating article. Click here to access it in full.

Syria of Assad سورية الأسد Updated

 

“Syria of Al-Assad”

يونيو 14, 2017

Written by Nasser Kandil,

Maybe the linkage between the name of Syria and the name of the President Hafez Al-Assad and then the President Bashar Al-Assad can grant the right to some people to say that it is a diminution of homeland as Syria by linking it with the name of a person whatever his name is great and his status is high. It seemed before as a kind of sanctification of a symbol that gave his country a privacy that is related to his name, and a status that is difficult to obtain by any other person. The opponents would have also the right to link the dispute with the linkage between Syria and Al-Assad in order to show their Syria which can liberate from this linking to be more beautiful, greater, and bigger.

After the war on Syria, the matter is no longer how to conduct those who were recording their protest on this linking, since we saw their Syria which they foreshadowed that this linkage diminishes and devitalizes it, the reality has summarized their actual project of Syria through what the seculars, the clerks, and those who calls for Arabism offered, what is intended here are examples that have symbols in the formations, and figures that were at the top of the Syrian oppositions that were gathered under what they called the Syrian revolution and which led to the formation of emirates of killing and slaughter over the Syrian land, threatening its unity, selling its national independence, the abandonment of its Golan, turning it into a free land for the invaders and the ambushers, appointing the oil sheikhs through their ignorance and their remoteness from every freedom, democracy, and estimation of the rights of people as references in the jurisprudence of the revolutions in Syria  and the Syrians, and improving the image of Janissaries with a new Ottoman dress and the nostalgia of the French colonialism  with a democratic desire, so the example of “Syria of Al-Assad” has surpassed in the eyes of the simple people of Syria especially those who were believed in the lie of the revolution and now they mourn over  those days.

“Syria of Al-Assad” which we mean was built by the President Hafez Al-Assad and was under the auspices of the President Bashar Al-Assad, it is Syria which gave the priority for the building of the strong country supported with freedom and democracy, it expanded the contribution of the country in bearing the burdens of the livelihood of its poor, it built their villages, took care of their agriculture, helped in strengthen their health and in the way of getting their sciences, and supplied every village in the Syrian geography with all the services, this has not been a subject of controversy in the life of the President Hafez Al-Assad and what preceded the war on Syria through the responsibilities of the President Bashar Al-Assad, because Syria can be described as the abbreviation of “Syria of Al-Assad” as an indication to this special mixture of the social aspect of the country, freedom and democracy, the secularism of the country and its modernism. Its constitution based so much on the Islamic law as a main source for legislation, but it is a country that prevents the clerks from dealing with politics,  it restricts the limits of religion between the places of worship and homes, it chases the extremists and prevents any sense of sectarianism, in return, it opens up to a common livelihood lived by the Syrians through sharing the joy of living, they made what was described by the Pope John II as a dialogue of life that is rare, although it is an example that did not satisfy many seculars and clerks, as the equation between the belonging to Syria and the Arabism for an identity that it difficult to imagine a substitute of it, but through dividing between the religious and the tribal fanaticism.

The concept of the national security of “Syria of Al-Assad” based on the equation of the hostility to Israel as a compass, so according to this compass, it supported the Iranian revolution, it  opposed the Iraqi war on Iran,  it made the widest possible range of the Arab solidarity to secure it, so every resistance based on it wins, it grants the country a diplomatic concept that links it with the widest alliances on the basis of applying the international law and the UN resolutions, it is certain that Israel is incapable country to go on in peace in way that concords in form and essence with the texts of the international law and its essence, furthermore, it formed its strategy on the basis of the bilateral of the openness to all the international initiatives for a political solution according to the international law and forming the force under the slogan of the strategic balance which paralyzes the aggression and creates the ability to liberate. All of that is a special diligence in respect of “Syria of Al-Assad”, but this neither satisfies the advocates of peace nor those who suggested that the announced war is the solution.

In the experience witnessed by Syria during the years of war on it, there was a golden opportunity for judging scientifically on this example in building a state in the third world under the open US hegemony on the oil stored in our lands and the defense of Israel’s. Although it is early to have a final judgement on the equations which were embodied in the example of the state of “Syria of Al-Assad”, but the indicators show that the freedom and the democracy as well as the complicated relation with religion and the interrelated relation with the concept of the national security between sticking to the international law and the resistance and reluctance are the genius mixture which made the status of Syria, its strength and its stability and which it is difficult to imagine its formation on other one , so tampering in it in order to have more of its features will be a source of dangerous imbalance.

In the remembrance of his departure, God’s mercy be upon the soul of the President Hafez Al-Assad and protect the President Bashar Al-Assad the national, the loyal, and the well born man. God bless “Syria of Al-Assad” and make it more beautiful, powerful, securer, and more sublime

Translated by Lina Shehadeh,

 

سورية الأسد

ناصر قنديل

– ربما كان في ربط اسم سورية باسم الرئيس حافظ الأسد، ومن بعده الرئيس بشار الأسد، ما يمنح الحق للبعض بقولهم إنه تحجيم لوطن بحجم سورية بربطه باسم شخص، مهما عظم اسمه وعلت مكانته، إذ كان الأمر يبدو من قبل كمجرد نوع من التقديس لرمز منح بلده خصوصية ارتبطت باسمه، ومكانة صعب أن تنالها مع سواه، وكان يحق للمناوئين أن يربطوا النزاع على الصلة بين سورية والأسد، حتى يظهروا سورياهم التي تستطيع أن تتحرّر من هذا الالتصاق، لتشرق أجمل وأعظم وأكبر.

– بعد الحرب على سورية لم تعُد المسألة كيف نجري كشف حساب مع الذين كانوا يسجلون اعتراضهم على هذا الربط. وقد رأينا سورياهم التي بشروا بأن الربط يقزّمها ويختزلها، وقد اختصر الواقع مشروعهم الفعلي لسورية بما قدّموه في الواقع علمانيين ودينيين وعروبيين. والقصد هنا نماذج لها رموزها في تشكيلات وشخصيات تصدّرت واجهة المعارضات السورية، اجتمعت تحت ما أسمته بالثورة السورية والذي أفضى إلى إقامة إمارات قتل وذبح فوق الأرض السورية وتهديد وحدتها واستجلاب كل أفاعي الأرض إليها، وبيع استقلالها الوطني والتنازل عن جولانها، وتحويلها مشاعاً أمام الغزاة والمتربّصين وتسييد شيوخ النفط بجهلهم وبعدهم عن كل حرية وديمقراطية وتقدير لحقوق الإنسان كمراجع في فقه الثورات على سورية والسوريين، وتلميع الإنكشارية بثوب عثمانية جديدة والحنين الاستعماري الفرنسي بثوب ديمقراطية حنونة، فتفوق نموذج سورية الأسد بعيون بسطاء السوريين، خصوصاً من أخذ منهم على حين غرة بأكذوبة الثورة، يترحمون على تلك الأيام.

– سورية الأسد التي نقصدها هي سورية التي بناها الرئيس حافظ الأسد ورعاها الرئيس بشار الأسد. وهي سورية التي منحت الأولوية لبناء الدولة القوية على مساحات الحرية والديمقراطية، ووسعت مساحات مساهمة الدولة في حمل أعباء حياة فقرائها، وعمّرت قراهم ورعت زراعتهم وساعدت في تحصين صحتهم وتحصيل علومهم، وأوصلت كل الخدمات إلى آخر قرية في أقاصي الجغرافيا السورية. وهذا ما كان موضع جدل في حياة الرئيس حافظ الأسد وما سبق الحرب على سورية من مسؤوليات الرئيس بشار الأسد، لأن سورية هذه يمكن وصفها اختصاراً بسورية الأسد كتدليل على هذه الخلطة الخاصة من عيارات الطابع الاجتماعي للدولة ومقادير الحرية والديمقراطية فيها، ومثلها عيارات علمانية الدولة ومدنيتها، فهي دولة تستقي كما يقول دستورها كثيراً من الشريعة الإسلامية كمصدر أساسي للتشريع، لكنها دولة تمنع رجال الدين من التعاطي في السياسة وتحصر حدود الدين بين أماكن العبادة والبيوت، وتلاحق المتطرفين وتكتم كل حسّ طائفي حتى لا يجرؤ أحد في سرّه أن يفكّر في طائفته وطائفة سواه، وتنفتح بالمقابل على عيش مشترك يعيشه السوريون بتنوّعهم بفرح التشارك في العيش ويقيمون ما وصفه البابا يوحنا الثاني بحوار حياة قلّ نظيره. وهو نموذج لم يرضِ العلمانيين ولا الدينيين، وكذلك كانت المعادلة بين السورية والعروبة لهوية يصعب اليوم تخيّل بديل منها إلا بالتشظي بين العصبيات الدينية والقبلية.

– سورية الأسد هي التي قام مفهومها للأمن القومي على معادلة العداء لـ«إسرائيل» كبوصلة لا تحيد عنها، فتنتصر للثورة الإيرانية وفقها، وتخالف الحرب العراقية على إيران بسببها، وتقيم أوسع مدى ممكن من التضامن العربي منعاً للتفريط بها، وتنصر كل مقاومة على أساسها، وتقدّم للدولة مفهوماً دبلوماسياً يربطها بأوسع تحالفات على أساس تطبيق القانون الدولي والقرارات الأممية، ولا يزعجها وجود مفردة السلام هنا ويقينها أن إسرائيل دولة عاجزة عن السير بسلام ينسجم بالشكل والجوهر مع نصوص القانون الدولي وروحه، فتنشئ استراتجيتها على ثنائية الانفتاح على كل مبادرات دولية لحلّ سياسي وفق القانون الدولي، وبناء القوة والقدرة تحت شعار التوازن الاستراتيجي الذي يشلّ يد العدوان ويهيئ القدرة للتحرير. وهذا كله اجتهاد خاص يختص بسورية الأسد ولم يكن يرضي دعاة السلام ولا الذي يقولون بأن إشهار سيف الحرب المعلن هو الحل.

– في الاختبار الذي عاشته سورية خلال سنوات الحرب عليها، كانت فرصة ذهبية بالمعنى العلمي للحكم على هذا النموذج في بناء دولة في العالم الثالث وسط بحيرات الهيمنة الأميركية المفتوحة على شهية النفط المخزون تحت ترابنا، والدفاع عن وجود «إسرائيل» المتشبث بما فوق التراب وتحته، ليسهل الحكم لهذا النموذج بما له وما عليه، وإذا كان مبكراً الحديث بحكم نهائي للمعادلات التي تجسّدت في نموذج دولة سورية الأسد، فإن كل المؤشرات تقول إن مقدار الحرية والديمقراطية ومثلهما مقادير العلاقة المركبة بالدين، وكذلك العلاقة المتشابكة في مفهوم الأمن القومي بين التمسك بالقانون الدولي والمقاومة والممانعة، كان المقدار العبقري الذي صنع مكانة سورية وقوتها وثباتها والذي يصعب تخيّل قيامتها مجدداً على سواه، والذي يشكّل العبث به بداعي طلب المزيد من أي شيء من ميزاتها مصدراً لاختلال خطير لميزانها.

– رحم الله الرئيس حافظ الأسد في ذكرى الرحيل، وحمى الرئيس بشار الأسد الوفي القومي الأبي الأصيل، ونصر الله سورية الأسد وأعادها أجمل وأقوى وأشدّ منعة وأرفع مكانة.

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The Dirty War on Syria: Professor Anderson Reveals the “Unspoken Truth”

Global Research, June 13, 2017

The following texts are excerpts from the Preface of  Professor Tim Anderson’s timely and important book entitled The Dirty War on Syria. The book is available for order from Global Research, place your order here now!

Although every war makes ample use of lies and deception, the dirty war on Syria has relied on a level of mass disinformation not seen in living memory. The British-Australian journalist Philip Knightley pointed out that war propaganda typically involves ‘a depressingly predictable pattern’ of demonising the enemy leader, then demonising the enemy people through atrocity stories, real or imagined (Knightley 2001). Accordingly, a mild-mannered eye doctor called Bashar al Assad became the new evil in the world and, according to consistent western media reports, the Syrian Army did nothing but kill civilians for more than four years. To this day, many imagine the Syrian conflict is a ‘civil war’, a ‘popular revolt’ or some sort of internal sectarian conflict. These myths are, in many respects, a substantial achievement for the big powers which have driven a series of ‘regime change’ operations in the Middle East region, all on false pretexts, over the past 15 years.

Dr. Tim Anderson

This book is a careful academic work, but also a strong defence of the right of the Syrian people to determine their own society and political system. That position is consistent with international law and human rights principles, but may irritate western sensibilities, accustomed as we are to an assumed prerogative to intervene. At times I have to be blunt, to cut through the double-speak. In Syria the big powers have sought to hide their hand, using proxy armies while demonising the Syrian Government and Army, accusing them of constant atrocities; then pretending to rescue the Syrian people from their own government. Far fewer western people opposed the war on Syria than opposed the invasion of Iraq, because they were deceived about its true nature.

Dirty wars are not new. Cuban national hero Jose Martí predicted to a friend that Washington would try to intervene in Cuba’s independence struggle against the Spanish. ‘They want to provoke a war’, he wrote in 1889 ‘to have a pretext to intervene and, with the authority of being mediator and guarantor, to seize the country … There is no more cowardly thing in the annals of free people; nor such cold blooded evil’ (Martí 1975: 53). Nine years later, during the third independence war, an explosion in Havana Harbour destroyed the USS Maine, killing 258 US sailors and serving as a pretext for a US invasion.

The US launched dozens of interventions in Latin America over the subsequent century. A notable dirty war was led by CIA-backed, ‘freedom fighter’ mercenaries based in Honduras, who attacked the Sandinista Government and the people of Nicaragua in the 1980s. That conflict, in its modus operandi, was not so different to the war on Syria. In Nicaragua more than 30,000 people were killed. The International Court of Justice found the US guilty of a range of terrorist-style attacks on the little Central American country, and found that the US owed Nicaragua compensation (ICJ 1986). Washington ignored these rulings.

With the ‘Arab Spring’ of 2011 the big powers took advantage of a political foment by seizing the initiative to impose an ‘Islamist winter’, attacking the few remaining independent states of the region. Very quickly we saw the destruction of Libya, a small country with the highest standard of living in Africa. NATO bombing and a Special Forces campaign helped the al Qaeda groups on the ground. The basis for NATO’s intervention was lies told about actual and impending massacres, supposedly carried out or planned by the government of President Muammar Gaddafi. These claims led rapidly to a UN Security Council resolution said to protect civilians through a ‘no fly zone’. We know now that trust was betrayed, and that the NATO powers abused the limited UN authorisation to overthrow the Libyan Government (McKinney 2012).

Subsequently, no evidence emerged to prove that Gaddafi intended, carried out or threatened wholesale massacres, as was widely suggested (Forte 2012). Genevieve Garrigos of Amnesty International (France) admitted there was ‘no evidence’ to back her group’s earlier claims that Gaddafi had used ‘black mercenaries’ to commit massacres (Forte 2012; Edwards 2013).

… Two days before NATO bombed Libya another armed Islamist insurrection broke out in Daraa, Syria’s southernmost city. Yet because this insurrection was linked to the demonstrations of a political reform movement, its nature was disguised. Many did not see that those who were providing the guns – Qatar and Saudi Arabia – were also running fake news stories in their respective media channels, Al Jazeera and Al Arabiya. There were other reasons for the durable myths of this war. Many western audiences, liberals and leftists as well as the more conservative, seemed to like the idea of their own role as the saviours of a foreign people, speaking out strongly about a country of which they knew little, but joining what seemed to be a ‘good fight’ against this new ‘dictator’. With a mission and their proud self-image western audiences apparently forgot the lies of previous wars, and of their own colonial legacies.

I would go so far as to say that, in the Dirty War on Syria, western culture in general abandoned its better traditions: of reason, the maintenance of ethical principle and the search for independent evidence at times of conflict; in favour of its worst traditions: the ‘imperial prerogative’ for intervention, backed by deep racial prejudice and poor reflection on the histories of their own cultures. That weakness was reinforced by a ferocious campaign of war propaganda. After the demonisation of Syrian leader Bashar al Assad began, a virtual information blockade was constructed against anything which might undermine the wartime storyline. Very few sensible western perspectives on Syria emerged after 2011, as critical voices were effectively blacklisted.

The Dirty War on Syria

by Professor Tim Anderson

click to purchase, directly from Global Research Publishers

In that context I came to write this book. It is a defence of Syria, not primarily addressed to those who are immersed the western myths but to others who engage with them. This is therefore a resource book and a contribution to the history of the Syrian conflict. The western stories have become self-indulgent and I believe it is wasteful to indulge them too much. Best, I think, to speak of current events as they are, then address the smokescreens later. I do not ignore the western myths, in fact this book documents many of them. But I lead with the reality of the war.

Western mythology relies on the idea of imperial prerogatives, asking what must ‘we’ do about the problems of another people; an approach which has no basis in international law or human rights. The next steps involve a series of fabrications about the pretexts, character and events of the war. The first pretext over Syria was that the NATO states and the Gulf monarchies were supporting a secular and democratic revolution. When that seemed implausible the second story was that they were saving the oppressed majority ‘Sunni Muslim’ population from a sectarian ‘Alawite regime’. Then, when sectarian atrocities by anti-government forces attracted greater public attention, the pretext became a claim that there was a shadow war: ‘moderate rebels’ were said to be actually fighting the extremist groups. Western intervention was therefore needed to bolster these ‘moderate rebels’ against the ‘new’ extremist group that had mysteriously arisen and posed a threat to the world.

That was the ‘B’ story. No doubt Hollywood will make movies based on this meta-script, for years to come. However this book leads with the ‘A’ story. Proxy armies of Islamists, armed by US regional allies (mainly Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Turkey), infiltrate a political reform movement and snipe at police and civilians. They blame this on the government and spark an insurrection, seeking the overthrow of the Syrian government and its secular-pluralist state. This follows the openly declared ambition of the US to create a ‘New Middle East’, subordinating every country of the region, by reform, unilateral disarmament or direct overthrow. Syria was next in line, after Afghanistan, Iraq and Libya. In Syria, the proxy armies would come from the combined forces of the Muslim Brotherhood and Saudi Arabia’s Wahhabi fanatics. Despite occasional power struggles between these groups and their sponsors, they share much the same Salafist ideology, opposing secular or nationalist regimes and seeking the establishment of a religious state.

However in Syria Washington’s Islamists confronted a disciplined national army which did not disintegrate along religious lines, despite many provocations. The Syrian state also had strong allies in Russia and Iran. Syria was not to be Libya Take Two. In this prolonged war the violence, from the western side, was said to consist of the Syrian Army targeting and killing civilians. From the Syrian side people saw daily terrorist attacks on towns and cities, schools and hospitals and massacres of ordinary people by NATO’s ‘freedom fighters’, then the counter attacks by the Army. Foreign terrorists were recruited in dozens of countries by the Saudis and Qatar, bolstering the local mercenaries.

Though the terrorist groups were often called ‘opposition, ‘militants’ and ‘Sunni groups’ outside Syria, inside the country the actual political opposition abandoned the Islamists back in early 2011. Protest was driven off the streets by the violence, and most of the opposition (minus the Muslim Brotherhood and some exiles) sided with the state and the Army, if not with the ruling Ba’ath Party. The Syrian Army has been brutal with terrorists but, contrary to western propaganda, protective of civilians. The Islamists have been brutal with all, and openly so. Millions of internally displaced people have sought refuge with the Government and Army, while others fled the country.

In a hoped-for ‘end game’ the big powers sought overthrow of the Syrian state or, failing that, the creation of a dysfunctional state or dismembering into sectarian statelets, thus breaking the axis of independent regional states. That axis comprises Hezbollah in south Lebanon and the Palestinian resistance, alongside Syria and Iran, the only states in the region without US military bases. More recently Iraq – still traumatised from western invasion, massacres and occupation – has begun to align itself with this axis. Russia too has begun to play an important counter-weight role. Recent history and conduct demonstrate that neither Russia nor Iran harbour any imperial ambitions remotely approaching those of Washington and its allies, several of which (Britain, France and Turkey) were former colonial warlords in the region. From the point of view of the ‘Axis of Resistance’, defeat of the dirty war on Syria means that the region can begin closing ranks against the big powers. Syria’s successful resistance would mean the beginning of the end for Washington’s ‘New Middle East’.

That is basically the big picture. This book sets out to document the A story and expose the B story. It does so by rescuing some of the better western traditions: the use of reason, the maintenance of ethical principle and the search for independent evidence in case of conflict. I hope it might prove a useful resource. Here is a brief overview of the chapters.

ISBN Number: 978-0-9737147-8-4

Year: 2016

Pages: 240

Author: Tim Anderson

List Price: $23.95

Special Price: $15.00

The Dirty War on Syria 

by Professor Tim Anderson

click to purchase, directly from Global Research Publishers

Chapter Overview:

Chapter 1, ‘Syria and Washington’s ‘New Middle East’’ puts Syria in context of the US plans for a ‘New Middle East’, the latest chapter in a longer history of US attempts to dominate the region.

Chapter 2, ‘Barrel Bombs, Partisan Sources and War Propaganda’ addresses the problem of reporting and reading the Syrian crisis. Media channels have shown a hyper-reliance on partisan sources, committed to the war and denigrating the Syrian Army. This is the key barrier to understanding the controversies around chemical weapons, civilian massacres and the levels of support for or opposition to President Assad.

Chapter 3, ‘Daraa 2011: Another Islamist Insurrection’ reconstructs, from a range of sources, the Saudi-backed Islamist insurrection in Daraa in March 2011. Those armed attacks were quite distinct from the political reform rallies, which the Islamists soon drove off the streets.

Chapter 4, ‘Bashar al Assad and Political Reform’ explains the political reform movement from the time Bashar assumed the presidency in the year 2000 to the beginning of the crisis in 2011. From this we can see that most opposition groups were committed to reform within a Syrian context, with virtually all opposing attacks on the Syrian state. The chapter then reviews the role of Bashar as a reformer, and the evidence on his popularity.

Chapter 5, ‘The Empire’s Jihadis’ looks at the collaboration between Salafist political Islam and the imperial powers in the Middle East. Distinct from the anti-imperial Islamic currents in Iran and south Lebanon, Salafist political Islam has become a sectarian force competing with Arab nationalism across Egypt, Palestine and Syria, and drawing on long standing collaborative relations with the big powers. This history provides important background to the character of Syria’s Islamist ‘revolution’, and its various slogans.

Chapter 6, ‘Embedded Media, Embedded Watchdogs’ identifies the propaganda techniques of media channels and the network of ‘human rights’ bodies (Human Rights Watch, Avaaz, etc) which function as megaphones and ‘moderators’ for the Washington agenda. Many have become fierce advocates for ‘humanitarian war’. A number of newer western NGOs (e.g. The Syria Campaign, The White Helmets) have been created by Wall Street agencies specifically for the dirty war on Syria. A number of their fabrications are documented here.

Chapter 7, ‘The Houla Massacre Revisited’ considers in detail the evidence from the first major massacre designed (following success of the technique over Libya) to influence UN Security Council consideration of military intervention. While the first UN inquiry group, actually in Syria, found contradictory evidence on this massacre, a second UN group outside Syria and co-chaired by a US diplomat, tried to blame the Syrian Government. Yet more than a dozen witnesses blamed Farouq FSA Islamists, who killed pro-government villagers and took over the area, holding it for some months. Several other ‘false flag’ massacres are noted.

Chapter 8, ‘Chemical Fabrications: the East Ghouta Incident’ details the second major ‘false flag’ incident of international significance. This incident in August 2013, which nearly sparked a major escalation involving US missile attacks on Syria, was used to accuse the Syrian Government of killing hundreds of civilians, including children, with chemical weapons. Within a fairly short time multiple sources of independent evidence (including North American evidence) disproved these accusations. Nevertheless, Syria’s opponents have repeated the false accusations, to this day, as though they were fact.

Chapter 9, ‘The Responsibility to Protect (R2P) and the Double Game’ addresses a recent political doctrine, a subset of ‘humanitarian intervention’ popularised to add to the imperial toolkit. The application of this doctrine in Libya was disastrous for that little country. Fortunately the attempts to use it in Syria failed.

Chapter 10, ‘Health and Sanctions’ documents the NATO-backed Islamist attacks on Syria’s health system, linked to the impact of western economic sanctions. These twin currents have caused great damage to Syrian public health. Such attacks carry no plausible motive of seeking local popular support, so we must interpret them as part of an overall strategy to degrade the Syrian state, rendering it more vulnerable to outside intervention.

Chapter 11 ‘Washington, Terrorism and the Islamic State (ISIS)’, documents the links between the big powers and the latest peak terrorist group they claim to be fighting. Only evidence can help develop informed opinion on this contentious matter, but the evidence is overwhelming. There is little ideological difference between the various Salafi-Islamist groups, and Washington and its allies have financed and armed every one of them.

Chapter 12, ‘Western Intervention and the Colonial Mind’ discusses the western cultural mindset that underlies persistent violations of the rights of other peoples.

Chapter 13 ‘Towards an Independent Middle East’, considers the end-game in the Syrian crisis, and its implications for the Middle East region. At tremendous cost the Syrian Arab Republic, its army and its people, have successfully resisted aggression from a variety of powerful enemies. Syria’s survival is due to its resilience and internal unity, bolstered by support from some strong allies. The introduction of Russian air power in late September 2015 was important. So too were the coordinated ground forces from Iran, Iraq and Lebanon, in support of an independent Syria.

When the attacks on Syria abate the Middle East seems set to be transformed, with greater political will and military preparedness on the part of an expanded Axis of Resistance. That will signal the beginning of the end for Washington’s 15 year spree of bloodshed and ‘regime change’ across the entire region.

Also available in PDF version, click here to purchase

Reviews:

Tim Anderson  has written the best systematic critique of western fabrications justifying the war against the Assad government. 

No other text brings together all the major accusations and their effective refutation.

This text is essential reading for all peace and justice activists.  -James Petras, Author and Bartle Professor (Emeritus) of Sociology at Binghamton University, New York, Research Associate of the Centre for Research on Globalization.

Tim Anderson’s important new book, titled “The Dirty War on Syria” discusses US naked aggression – “rely(ing) on a level of mass disinformation not seen in living memory,” he explains.

ISIS is the pretext for endless war without mercy, Assad the target, regime change the objective, wanting pro-Western puppet governance replacing Syrian sovereign independence.

There’s nothing civil about war in Syria, raped by US imperialism, partnered with rogue allies. Anderson’s book is essential reading to understand what’s going on. Stephen Lendman, Distinguished Author and Research Associate of the Centre for Research on Globalization (CRG), Host of the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network.

Professor Anderson demonstrates unequivocally through carefully documented research that America’s “Moderate Opposition” are bona fide Al Qaeda affiliated terrorists created and protected by the US and its allies, recruited  and trained by Saudi Arabia, Turkey, in liaison with Washington and Brussels.

Through careful analysis, professor Anderson reveals the “unspoken truth”: the “war on terrorism” is fake, the United States is a “State sponsor of terrorism” involved in a criminal undertaking. Michel Chossudovsky, Director of the Centre for Research on Globalization, Professor of Economics (Emeritus), University of Ottawa.

Click here to order Tim Anderson’s Book

Dr Tim Anderson is a Senior Lecturer in Political Economy at the University of Sydney. He researches and writes on development, rights and self-determination in Latin America, the Asia-Pacific and the Middle East. He has published many dozens of chapters and articles in a range of academic books and journals. His last book was Land and Livelihoods in Papua New Guinea (Australian Scholarly Publishing, Melbourne, 2015).


Special: Dirty War on Syria + Globalization of War (Buy 2 books for 1 price!) 

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Special: Dirty War on Syria + America’s “War on Terrorism” (Buy 2 books for 1 price!) 

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Bulk Order: Click here to order multiple copies at a discounted price (North America only)


Notes:

Edwards, Dave (2013) ‘Limited But Persuasive’ Evidence – Syria, Sarin, Libya, Lies’, Media Lens, 13 June, online: http://www.medialens.org/index.php/alerts/alert-archive/alerts-2013/735-limited-but-persuasive-evidence-syria-sarin-libya-lies.html

Forte, Maximilian (2012) Slouching Towards Sirte: NATO’s War on Libya and Africa, Baraka Books, Quebec

ICJ (1986) Case concerning the military and paramilitary activities in and against Nicaragua (Nicaragua v. United States of America) Merits’, International Court of Justice, Judgement of 27 June 1986, online: http://www.icj-cij.org/docket/?sum=367&p1=3&p2=3&case=70&p3=5

Knightley, Phillip (2001) ‘The disinformation campaign’, The Guardian, 4 October, online: http://www.theguardian.com/education/2001/oct/04/socialsciences.highereducation

Kuperman, Alan J. (2015) Obama’s Libya Debacle’, Foreign Affairs, 16 April, online: https://www.foreignaffairs.com/articles/libya/2015-02-16/obamas-libya-debacle

Martí, Jose (1975) Obras Completas, Vol. 6, Editorial de Ciencias Sociales, La Habana

McKinney, Cynthia (Ed) (2012) The Illegal War on Libya, Clarity Press, Atlanta

Putin, Vladimir (2015) ‘Violence instead of democracy: Putin slams ‘policies of exceptionalism and impunity’ in UN speech’, RT, 28 September, online: https://www.rt.com/news/316804-putin-russia-unga-speech/

Richter, Larry (1998) ‘Havana Journal; Remember the Maine? Cubans See an American Plot Continuing to This Day’, New York Times, 14 February, online: http://www.nytimes.com/1998/02/14/world/havana-journal-remember-maine-cubans-see-american-plot-continuing-this-day.html

Trump Meets the New Leader of the Secular World, Pope Francis

Photo by thierry ehrmann | CC BY 2.0

After two days lecturing a collection of head-choppers, dictators, torturers and land thieves, Donald Trump at last met a good guy on Wednesday. Pope Francis didn’t ask for a $100bn (£77.2bn) arms deal for the Vatican. He wouldn’t go to war with Iran. He didn’t take the Sunni Muslim side against the Shia Muslim side in the next Middle East conflict. He didn’t talk about Palestinian “terror”. And he looked, most of the time, grim, unsmiling, even suspicious.

So he should have been. Trump’s broad, inane smile on confronting the Holy Father might have been more appropriate for the first of the Borgias, Alexander VI, whose 15th century womanising, corruption and enthusiasm for war would match Trump’s curriculum vitae rather well. But the poor man’s pope, who last year suggested that Trump wasn’t much of a Christian because he wanted to build walls, didn’t seem to be very happy to see the man who called him “disgraceful” for questioning his faith. “One offers peace through dialogue, the other security of arms,” one of Francis’ advisers said of the visit. Which pretty much sums it up.

It was indeed an odd sight to see the head of the Catholic church – whose anti-war, anti-corruption, anti-violence and pro-environment beliefs must surely now represent the secular world – greeting the present if very temporary leader of the secular world, whose policies are most surely not those of the Western people he would claim to represent. For more and more, the Good Old Pope is coming to represent what the Trumps and Mays will not say: that the West has a moral duty to end its wars in the Middle East, to stop selling weapons to the killers of the Middle East and to treat the people of the Middle East with justice and dignity.

No wonder the 29 minutes which the insane president and the sane pope spent together – Francis himself suggesting that they both keep away from the microphones – remain secret. Until, I suppose, Trump starts twittering again. They supposedly chatted about climate change, immigration, even arms sales. O fly upon the wall, speak up. And they talked, we are told, about “interreligious dialogue” and the need to protect Christians in the Middle East. They shared, we were finally informed, “a commitment to life, and freedom of speech and conscience” – which is more than most of Trump’s other hosts would have approved of these past two days.

Trump duly handed over a bunch of books by Martin Luther King which he hoped Pope Francis would enjoy – whether he had read them himself remains a mystery – and the Pope gave Trump some of his own writings on the environment. “Well, I’ll be reading them,” said the US President. A likely story.

When the Pope emerged from his private meeting with Trump, he was smiling in a relieved, almost charming way – like a man who had just left the dentist’s chair – and his joke with the veiled Melania about Croatian cookies, if not quite understood, showed that even a distressed pontiff can retain a sense of humor amid spiritual darkness. Trump thought it all “a great honor”. Not for the Pope, one imagines.

And there was the inevitable send-off from Trump, the kind he probably gave to all the greedy kings and criminals of the Middle East. “I won’t forget what you said,” he told Pope Francis as he left. O but he will, reader, he will.

Robert Fisk writes for the Independent, where this column originally appeared. 

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Being In Time: Gilad Atzmon’s journey through post-modern crises

May 22, 2017  /  Gilad Atzmon

By Adam Garrie, theduran.com/

In Being In Time, author and musician Gilad Atzmon explores the historical and psychological basis for the many crises gripping the western world.

Many of the same people lament the state of a broad, however amorphous western society that has succumbed to the trends of hyper-identity politics, political and economic sectarianism, brutal financial capitalism and the death of industry and censorship in societies that still preach the self-righteous yet vague cause of ‘freedom’.

In Being In Time, author Gilad Atzmon offers a philosophical explanation for how these divergent trends are actually systematic outgrowths of societies simultaneously bewitched and confused by the abject failures of the three domineering ideologies of the 20th century: communism, fascism and liberalism.

Atzmon approaches how an uneasy calm in mid-20th century western states has given way to a world where the dams of free speech, prosperity and political predictability have been burst open leading to a flood of insecurity, third world style poverty and perhaps most importantly for Atzmon, the poverty of ideas.

Atzmon who has previously written about his personal struggles with and opposition to Jewish identity politics in The Wandering Who, takes his dialectical approach further, subjecting many contemporary and post-modern trends to the same scrutiny.

Such trends include, post-modernism, Cultural Marxism, post-Freudian social theory, the sexual identity agenda, post-modern attitudes to race and religion and the so-called populist political phenomena of Brexit and Donald Trump.

Atzmon calls his book a post-political manifesto, but it could equally be called a post-dogma manifesto. Atzmon laments a western world that has forsaken the Socratic method of embracing wisdom based on a combination of logic and ethics. Instead, Atzmon sees a western society obsessed with legal minutiae that he traces to strict Talmudic jurisprudence.

The book is very much in the tradition of the great secular conservative leaning sceptics and metaphysicists of the 19th and early 20th centuries. Those who have read Nietzsche or Spengler will recognise familiar diagnosis to modern problems combined with Atzmon’s unique world view shaped by the rejection of the Zionist creeds of his Israeli place of birth.

One might be so bold as to say that a great deal of geo-political philosophical commentary in the 21st century is largely shaped by people trying to either debunk or revise the manifestly ludicrous hypothesis of Francis Fukuyama.

At the dawn of the 1990s, Fukuyama in The End of History and the Last Man stated that history had ceased to move forward and was comfortably numbed to the neo-liberal realities that everyone had accepted.

The problem is that not everyone accepted them and even those who did, have largely been failed by them both materially and spiritually.

Atzmon doesn’t merely lacerate the post-Fukuyama developments in the metaphysical crisis currently gripping an increasingly hysterical liberal western establishment, but instead explains the root of these problems from the perspective of an historic prism illuminated through a combination of late-modern cultural analysis and Atzmon’s own unique trials and tribulations with the crises inherent in intra-Zionist Jewish identity.

I personally rarely recommend such books. I highly recommend this one.

The book can be ordered on Amazon.co.uk  & Amazon.com

The book is now available here

 

«النكبة»… وذكرى مختلفة بمفهوم مختلف

«النكبة»… وذكرى مختلفة بمفهوم مختلف

مايو 15, 2017 أولى تكبير الخط + | تصغير الخط –

صابرين دياب

فلسطين المحتلة

مرة أخرى، وعام آخر تحت الاستعمار. وهذه مرة مختلفة بمستويين على الأقلّ: مستوى الانكشاف ومستوى المقاومة والتجذير.. بل تموز 2006، كنا نستذكر يوم اغتصاب وطننا بلعن حكام الخزي والعار في محميّات أشباه الرجال الخليجية، وحكام عرب آخرين ساهموا بالتواطؤ مع هؤلاء في محاولات دفن القضية الفلسطينية والتخلّص منها، بعد أن باعها السعودي والأردني للحركة الصهيونية، على فترات زمنية مختلفة قبل إعلان اغتصاب فلسطين رسميا عام 1948 وبعده. أما بعد حرب 2006 فصار استذكار الغدر بفلسطين بأمل أكبر وأقرب الى دماء الشهداء السابقين واللاحقين، لا يتلوّث بذكر الأذلاء والحكام التابعين الأتباع، ذلك أنّ سيد المرحلة، قلب الموازين وعرّى العدو ومطاياه، فاتسع الأمل ولم يعُد إلا قابلاً للتجدّد والاتساع، من دون نأمة إحباط مهما صغرت او تفهت رغم نار الألم والجراح!

لا غضاضة هنا في الإشارة الى حديث مسجل دار مع نائب رئيس الحركة الإسلامية في الداخل المحتلّ عام 2010 لجريدة «العربي الناصري» القومية المصرية، أول صحيفة عربية انتصرت للمسجد الأقصى، وقد تولّى رئاسة تحريرها آنذاك عبد الله السناوي، الذي احتضن قادة الحركة الإسلامية في صفحة «العربي» الأولى، وقد تحدّثوا كثيراً لها منذ 2004 حتى نهاية 2010 عن مأساة المسجد الأقصى، رغم إمكانياتها المتواضعة، بسبب معارك مع نظام مبارك آنذاك، ووضعية الحزب العربي الناصري الاشتراكي، بل إنني أرى ضرورة لهذه الإشارة، لتوضيح نقاط لاحقة، فقد قال رداً على سؤالنا حول النظام الرسمي العربي وتعاطيه مع استهداف المحتلّ وتدنيسه للمسجد الأقصى، «إنّ الأمة العربية والإسلامية لم تخُض حرباً بعد وفاة الرسول الأكرم وصلاح الدين، إلا حرب 2006»!

كما قال رئيس الحركة الإسلامية الشيخ رائد صلاح، في حديث آخر، مسجل ومؤرشف بالصوت لصحيفة «العربي الناصري»، في مؤسسة الأقصى في أمّ الفحم عام 2009، في اثناء ردّه على سؤال لنا حول المأمول من النظام الرسمي العربي، قال: «ليت هناك نظامان آخران كالنظام السوري في حاضرنا العربي والإسلامي». ومثل هذه التصريحات وأقوى منها، صرّح بها ساسة حركة المقاومة الإسلامية حماس في كلّ مكان.

هذه الإشارات العابرة لممثلي جمهور محدّد من بين جماهير أبناء شعبنا الواسعة، تشير الى أنّ الوجدان العام لجميع ألوان الطيف الفلسطيني اجتمع على حقيقة واحدة، مدركاً انّ َمن باع فلسطين ومَن تسبّب بضياعها وتآمر عليها، لا يمكن ان يكون مؤتمناً على قضيتنا، ولا يمكن أن يكون بديلاً لنصير حقيقي وجدي، لأرضنا ولجرحنا ولمشروع تحرّرنا، حتى لو انتقل هؤلاء الآن الى الحضن الرجعي المتآمر على القضية. فذلك لن يؤثر على الوجدان العام، فهم جزء من غالبية لم تفقد بوصلتها، اختارت الانتصار للوطن فقط، وحين نستخدم مصطلح «النكبة» لا بدّ لنا أيضاً أن نتذكّر، من اختاروا امتدادهم الخارجي على انتمائهم الوطني، من دون ان يشعرونا بالإحباط طبعاً، ليس لأنهم قطاع محدود بين جماهير شعبنا العريضة، إنما لأنّ ثقتنا بالجيل الثائر الذي ورث الانتماء وأصوله عن دماء شهدائنا الأبرار لن يفقد البوصلة، وهم الأهمّ، كما انّ ثقتنا بأنصار فلسطين لا تهزها نكباتنا الداخلية على الصعد كافة، ولا تهزّها مخططات العدو في تفتيتنا واقتتالنا واستنزافنا في معارك داخلية مذهبية واثنية وطائفية مريضة وحقيرة لا تليق بوعي شعبنا الجمعي والفردي وإدراكه!

في لحظة الانكشاف يتقاطر التوابع إلى الأرض المحتلة عُراة تماماً، بلا خجل، لأنّ الذليل والتابع لا يردعه غير الخوف، في لحظة الانكشاف، تمّ تنبيه الغرائز الوضيعة كافة، وخاصة الطائفية، لتحلّ محلّ الوطن والقومية. والطائفية ليست سوى هوية وضيعة لا علاقة لها بالكرامة والشهامة والانتماء الوطني، بل هي تابعة بالضرورة وحتماً.

بعد قرن على وعد بلفور، وسبعة عقود على استعمار فلسطين، يبان المرج بعد ذوبان الثلج ويصبح أكثر وضوحاً عن وعود بلفور، من الصهيونية العربية للصهيونية اليهودية، ينكشف ما حصل إلى جانب الوعد المشؤوم مما ظلّ تحت ستار! نفد صبر الصهيوني والأميركي، فصار لا بدّ من ذبح ضحية العيد، ممثلة في حكام تمّ تفريخهم لهذه اللحظة، لحظة انفجار ما يسمّونه «الربيع العربي»، الذي هيأ للصهيونية فرصتها التاريخية للإجهاز على الأمة، وليس على قطر واحد هو فلسطين.. مختلفة هذه الذكرى بعزيمة المقاومة، التي أكدت الشرخ بين الشعبي والرسمي، وبين السياسي والمقاوم على الأرض وتحتها، وكشفت الغطاء عن حالة من الهوان والاستجداء و»الاستحذاء» الرسمي العربي،، من دون المقاومة كان يبدو كلّ شيء عادياً ساكناً وبلا أيّ تناقض، وبالمقاومة صار لا بدّ من التخندق: إما للوطن أو ضدّ الوطن، ولذا كانت الهجمة على مختلف المواقع القومية، وخاصة الجمهوريات، وكانت في المقابل المقاومة التي بدأت بهزيمة العدو أعوام 2000 و2006 و2014. وكانت مقاومة سورية واليمن والعراق.

لم يعد الأمر أنّ الإمبريالية تأمر فتُطاع، بل صارت تُضرب وتحسب ألف حساب للإمساك بالأرض، فلجأت للعدوان من السماء، ولجأت لزجّ خراف الوهابية للمذبح، ولم تعد للكيان الصهيوني فرصة حروب النزهة، كما كان يزعم قبل صعود المقاومة، ولم يعد قادراً على تحديد وقت العدوان ولا جغرافيته، وبدأ العدو يلغي الساعة الصفر لتحلّ بعدها ساعة أخرى تحلّ أيضاً. تغيّرت الساعات الصفر، وتغيّرت لهجة الأعداء من أنقرة إلى باريس فتل أبيب، وسقطت تخمينات سقوط دمشق وسقط معها مَن خان مرتكزاً على حتمية السقوط.

بقي العدو هو العدو، ولكن بقيت المقاومة. ونحن على موعد مع جولات أخرى، هذه هي الحتمية والصدّ والردّ، الذي لم يعتده العدو، وسيعتاد عليه إلى أن يكون النصر ويتحقق.

كاتبة وناشطة فلسطينية

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Erdogan: The Sultan Of An Illusionary Ottoman Empire

Global Research, March 09, 2017
Erdogan-turquie

This is the fourth and last in a series of articles based in part on eyewitness accounts about the rapidly deteriorating socio-political conditions in Turkey and what the future may hold for the country. The first, second and third articles are available here: First, Second, Third.

In many conversations and encounters I had over the years with former Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu, he emphatically echoed his boss President Erdogan’s grandiose vision that by 2023 (the 100th anniversary of the Turkish Republic), Turkey will become as powerful and influential as the Ottoman Empire was during its heyday. Under the best of circumstances, Turkey cannot realize Erdogan’s far-fetched dream. Had he stayed the course, however, with his socio-political and judiciary reforms and economic developments, as he had during his first nine years in power, Turkey could have become a major player on the global stage and a regional powerhouse.

Sadly, Erdogan abandoned much of the impressive democratic reforms he championed, and embarked upon a systematic Islamization of the country while dismantling the pillars of democracy. He amassed unprecedented powers and transformed Turkey from a democratic to an autocratic country, ensuring that he has the last word on all matters of state.

In retrospect, it appears that Erdogan had never committed himself to a democratic form of government. The reforms he undertook during his first nine years in power were largely induced by the European Union’s requirements from any country seeking membership, which he exploited as a means by which to propel himself toward his ultimate goal. A quote attributed to him in 1999 describes precisely what his real intentions were from the day he rose to power. “Democracy” he said, “is like a bus, when you arrive at your destination, you step off.”

His role model is Mustafa Kemal Atatürk (meaning “Father of the Turks”), who founded the Turkish Republic in 1923.  Both share similar personal attributes as they sought to lead the nation with an iron fist while disregarding any separation of power. However, Atatürk was determined to establish a Westernized secular democratic state while Erdogan went in the opposite direction.

Erdogan steadily moved to create a theocracy where Islamic tradition and values reign supreme while assuming Atatürk’s image, which is revered by most Turks. Erdogan presents himself as one who leads with determination and purpose, generating power from his popular support, ultimately seeking to replace Atatürk; with the new amendments to the constitution, he will be endowed with powers even greater than Atatürk ever held.

With his growing popularity and most impressive economic growth, Erdogan successfully created the status of a strong and resolute leader—the “father” of a new Turkish Republic—and artfully penetrated the consciousness of the Turkish public while using Islam as the undisputed pathway that will lead Turkey to greatness. He is determined to preside at the 100th anniversary of the Turkish Republic over a powerful nation among the top ten largest global economies and that extends its influence East and West, akin to the prodigious influence that the Ottoman Empire enjoyed.

To realize his grand vision, Erdogan took several measures to consolidate his absolute power.

First, clearing the way: Erdogan embarked on the complete marginalization or elimination of anyone, in and outside the ruling AK Party, that challenged his authority or advanced new ideas for solving the country’s problems. Those who did not support his policies and dared to question his judgment were not spared. He resorted to conspiracy theories, accusing his political opponents of being enemies of the state aiming to topple his government, in order to continue unopposed to realize his vision for the country, analogous to the influence and outreach of the Ottoman Empire. He even fired his long-time friend and confidant Davutoglu because Davutoglu differed from him in connection with the Kurdish problem, and especially because of Davutoglu’s reluctance to support the constitutional amendments that will grant the president sweeping and unprecedented powers.

Second, the need for a culprit: Erdogan needed a scapegoat to blame for any of his shortcomings, and found the Gulen movement to be the perfect culprit that would provide him with the cover to overshadow the massive corruption that has swept his government. This also provided him with the “justification” to crack down on many social, political, and institutional entities, silencing the media, controlling the judiciary, and subordinating the military.

The aftermath of the attempted military coup in July 2016 gave him the ammunition to conduct a society-wide witch-hunt, providing him with the excuse to purge tens of thousands of people from academia, civil society, judiciary, military, and internal security. This has allowed him to assume total control of all departments in the government and private sector. He described his purge as a necessary evil to cleanse the public of the ‘cancer’ that has gripped the country. In so doing, he ensured that the political system revolves around the presidency, leaving him completely unchallenged to pursue his imperial dream to resurrect the stature of the Ottoman Empire as the country prepares to vote in the constitutional referendum on April 16.

Third, the creation of Ottoman symbolism: To project his grandiose vision, Erdogan needed to instill Ottoman images into the public consciousness, including the building of a 1,100-room ‘White Palace’ as his residence at a prohibitive cost to taxpayers. His most recent project was the Çamlica Mosque, the now-largest mosque in Istanbul, standing on the eponymous hill that overlooks the entire city.

Recently, Erdogan started the construction of another mosque in Taksim Square—once the site of the fiercest protests against Erdogan in his career—with all the style of the Ottoman era. Erdogan has even instructed that the national anthem be played on modified drums and brass instruments to make the music sound as if it were being played by bands of the Ottoman period. His purpose is to indoctrinate the public in a subliminal way to his perspective of the glorious Ottoman period.

Fourth, foreign policy assertiveness: Under Erdogan, Turkey has become increasingly assertive and forceful in the region. In Cyprus, he is determined to strike a deal largely on his terms. In Iraq, he placed Turkish troops over the objections of the Iraqi government to maintain his ruthless war against the Kurds. In Syria, he allowed thousands of foreign fighters, including many who have joined ISIS, to cross the border to strengthen the anti-Assad fight, while fighting the Syrian Kurds to prevent them from establishing their own autonomous rule, fearing that the Turkish Kurds would also demand autonomous rule of their own.

Erdogan further promoted the policy of “zero problem with neighbors,” and although presently Turkey has problems with just about every neighbor (and its prospective EU membership has completely diminished), he continues to claim that Turkey enjoys good relations internationally. Erdogan still uses Turkey’s membership in NATO as a sign of greatness; the fact that Turkey has the second-largest number of ground troops in  NATO reinforces his illusion that Ankara enjoys unrivaled military prowess in the region and commands the respect and attention of the international community that the Ottoman Empire was accorded.

Fifth, promoting Islam as a powerful tool: Erdogan is also using Sunni Islam to promote the country as a republic with Islamic ideals supported by a loyal state apparatus. He portrays himself as the leader of the Sunni world that would restore the Ottoman era of influence while cementing his authoritarian rule in the form of a neo-Sultan. To be sure, Erdogan is vigorously promoting – with the support of his party – Islamic nationalism systematically and meticulously. Mustafa Akyol, a Turkish analyst of politics and culture and author of the new book The Islamic Jesus says that “political propaganda is in your face every day, every single moment. If you turn on TV, if you open newspapers…”

Former Prime Minister Davutoglu said in 2015 that Turkey “will re-found the Ottoman state.” Although Davutoglu was fired, he—like most Turkish officials—depicts the government as the rightful heir of the Ottoman legacy. To that end, Erdogan uses Islam as the unifying theme that would propel Turkey to the greatness that the Ottoman Empire enjoyed. In fact, Turkish religious leaders have always thought of themselves as the standard-bearer of Islamic civilization, and though this failed with the collapse of the Ottoman Empire, to them it must now be corrected. As they would have it, “Turks once again should lead the ummah [Islamic community] as the new Ottomans.”

Sadly, Erdogan, who is still seen as a hero by nearly half of the Turkish population, is leading the country on a treacherous path. Turkey and its people have the resources, creativity, and institutions to make Turkey a significant power. Erdogan, who demonstrated an uncanny ability to harness his country’s natural and human resources, could have made Turkey such a power on the global stage. Indeed, he would have been the Atatürk of the new era had he simply continued with his historic reforms while protecting the rights of every individual and creating a real model of Islamic democracy.

The collapse of the Ottoman Empire was largely precipitated, among other things, by its internal political decadence, the arbitrary exercising of power, and gross violations of human rights that dramatically eroded the foundation on which the empire was built.

In whichever form Erdogan wants to resurrect the Ottoman Empire, he will fail because no country can survive, let alone become great, as long as the government walks on the backs of the people and stifles their freedom to act, speak, and dream.

There is where the greatness of any nation rests and endures—the Ottoman Empire never provided a model worthy of such emulation.

 

A Look at Syria Following Nearly Six Years of Crisis

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(photo by Omar Sanadiki – © REUTERS)

As the Syrian crisis approaches its 6th anniversary, we take a look at some of the Syrian government’s social, political and economic policies. This will not only give an insight into what life has been like in Syria, but it also provides an indication of what values and principles are important to the Syrian government.

Generally speaking, President Bashar al-Assad, and his late father, Hafez al-Assad operated a secular state, allowing all religions to be practised across Syria. The government itself is made up of a range of different religions, although Islam is the state religion.

A government soldier with the Syrian flag

Access to education has been a championed value in Syria for several decades, with free education being provided by the government, even at universities (although there are some private alternatives available.)

Despite the raging conflict, most schools and academic institutions continue to function in government-held areas. However, the war has displaced millions internally, and in the vast majority of cases, they have moved from areas held by Daesh or other militant groups, to areas under the sanctuary of the Syrian Arab Army (SAA) and its allied forces.

This has put a strain on facilities, including schools and universities, and many of them are now operating well-above their standard capacity. For example, more than 200,000 students currently study at Damascus University, as it has accepted displaced students from across Syria.

Damascus University, which was founded in 1923, is Syria’s largest and oldest university, and until now, it offers a variety of courses, ranging from Medicine to Engineering.

The war and economic sanctions on Syria’s economy have resulted in a sharp decrease in national GDP, whilst also triggering high levels of price inflation. This has dragged many Syrians into poverty, making basic goods unaffordable. To reduce the financial strain on many Syrians, some schools no longer require students to wear uniforms, as this would be an unnecessary additional cost.

In mid-2010, Syria became the first Muslim country ban the burka and niqab. Specifically, they were banned at public and private universities. The ban was implemented to counter oppression against women, and combat radical Islam. The Daily Mail interviewed a 32-year-old Syrian engineer, named Ahmed, who said: “Hijabs and niqabs have been a symbol of oppression and religious extremism over the past hundreds of years. They have been a tool used by fundamentalist men to repress women.”

The Syrian government, especially when it was led by Hafez al-Assad, decided to preserve Syria’s natural resources for future generations, as opposed to exploiting it for financial gain. This policy may no longer be followed in a post-war context, as Syria looks to rebuild itself, and bolster the economy.

In terms of immigration policy, Syria allowed millions of Palestinians and Iraqis to settle in the country over the past few decades. Very few Syrians permanently left the country, and in most cases, they would travel to Europe for educational purposes, typically funded by the government.

Defending and liberating Palestine is a core Baathist policy, and Syria went to war with Israel on several occasions, eventually leading to the Israeli occupation of the Golan Heights, located in Southern Syria.

However, Syria adopted a pragmatic approach, militarily intervening in Lebanon against the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) in the early 1980s, because PLO forces were massacring Lebanese Maronite Christians. Once again, this further reinforces their commitment to secularism.

Access to healthcare was another core value and policy. According to an article published in the Independent, Syria’s pre-war healthcare system was “the envy of the Middle East,” and the country had a life-expectancy of 75, similar to the UK.

Russian doctors provide consultations to residents of Kaukab, Syria during the distribution of Russian humanitarian aid. (File)

Syria’s pharmaceutical industry was drastically improved and developed over the past few decades, with the successful implementation of Good Manufacturing Practise (GMP), allowing Syria to export its pharmaceuticals to more than 50 countries, while also meeting around 90% of domestic demand for medicaments.

When you look at some the Syrian government’s policies, it is easy to see why President Assad still enjoys support from millions of Syrians.

It is impossible to tell exactly how things will develop once the conflict reaches its conclusion, but we can expect secularism, and access to education and healthcare to continue being the cornerstones of the current government’s policies.


SOURCES:
Sputnik News, by Suliman Mulhem
Submitted by SyrianPatriot
War Press Info Network at :
https://syrianfreepress.wordpress.com/2017/02/26/6-years-crisis/
~

“The Media Coverage on Syria is the Biggest Media Lie of our Time”: Interview with Flemish Priest in Syria

Global Research, January 28, 2017
Signs of the Times 24 January 2017
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“Do you not know that the media coverage on Syria is the biggest media lie of our time?

Flemish Father Daniël Maes (78) lives in Syria in the sixth-century-old Mar Yakub monastery in the city of Qara, 90 kilometers north of the capital Damascus. Father Daniel has been a witness to the “civil war” and according to him, Western reports on the conflict in Syria are very misleading. In short: “the Americans and their allies want to completely ruin the country.”

Interviewer: You are very critical of the media coverage on Syria. What is bothering you?

Father Daniel: “The idea that a popular uprising took place against President Assad is completely false. I’ve been in Qara since 2010 and I have seen with my own eyes how agitators from outside Syria organized protests against the government and recruited young people. That was filmed and aired by Al Jazeera to give the impression that a rebellion was taking place. Murders were committed by foreign terrorists, against the Sunni and Christian communities, in an effort to sow religious and ethnic discord among the Syrian people. While in my experience, the Syrian people were actually very united.

Before the war, this was a harmonious country: a secular state in which different religious communities lived side by side peacefully. There was hardly any poverty, education was free, and health care was good. It was only not possible to freely express your political views. But most people did not care about that.”

Interviewer: Mother Agnès-Mariam, of your Mar Yakub (“Saint Jacob”) monastery, is accused of siding with the regime. She has friends at the highest level.

Father Daniel: “mother Agnès-Mariam helps the population: she has recently opened a soup kitchen in Aleppo, where 25,000 meals are prepared five times a week. Look, it is miraculous that we are still alive. We owe that to the army of Assad’s government and to Vladimir Putin, because he decided to intervene when the rebels threatened to take power.

When thousands of terrorists settled in Qara, we became afraid for our lives. They came from the Gulf States, Saudi Arabia, Europe, Turkey, Libya, there were many Chechens. They formed a foreign occupation force, all allied to al-Qaeda and other terrorists. Armed to the teeth by the West and their allies with the intention to act against us, they literally said: “This country belongs to us now.” Often, they were drugged, they fought each other, in the evening they fired randomly. We had to hide in the crypts of the monastery for a long time. When the Syrian army chased them away, everybody was happy: the Syrian citizens because they hate the foreign rebels, and we because peace had returned.”

Interviewer: You say that the Syrian Army protects civilians, yet there are all sorts of reports about war crimes committed by Assad’s forces, such as the bombardments with barrel bombs.

Father Daniel: “Do you not know that the media coverage on Syria is the biggest media lie of our time? They have sold pure nonsense about Assad: It was actually the rebels who plundered and killed. Do you think that the Syrian people are stupid?Do you think those people were forced to cheer for Assad and Putin? It is the Americans who have a hand in all of this, for pipelines and natural resources in this region and to thwart Putin.”

Saudi Arabia and Qatar want to establish a Sunni state in Syria, without religious freedom. Therefore, Assad must go. You know, when the Syrian army was preparing for the battle in Aleppo, Muslim soldiers came to me to be blessed. Between ordinary Muslims and Christians, there is no problem. It is those radical Islamic, Western-backed rebels who want to massacre us. They are all al Qaeda and IS. There are not any moderate fighters anymore.”

Interviewer: You once mentioned Hillary Clinton to be a ‘devil in holy water’, because as foreign minister, she deliberately worsened the conflict.

Father Daniel: “I am happy with Trump. He sees what every normal person understands: That the United States should stop undermining countries which possess natural resources. The Americans’ attempt to impose a unipolar world is the biggest problem. Trump understands that radical Islam is a bigger threat than Russia.

What do I care whether he occasionally takes off his pants? If Trump practices geopolitics the way he has promised to do so, then the future looks bright. Then it will become similar to Putin’s approach. And hopefully then, there will be a solution for Syria, and peace will return.”

Interviewer: You understand that your analysis is controversial and will encounter much criticism?

Father Daniel: “I speak from personal observation. And no one has to believe me, right? But I know one thing: The media can either contribute to the massacre of the Syrian people or help the Syrian people, with their media coverage. Unfortunately, there are too many followers and cowards among journalists.”

Maria Finoshina: Merry Christmas from Damascus!

Published on Dec 26, 2016

Maria: Merry Christmas from Damascus!
Santa told us he brought Peace for Syria this year.
Let’s all pray for this Christmas to be the last one in war.

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