Syria

Ahmed, center, mourns his father Abdulaziz Abu Ahmed Khrer, who was killed by a Syrian Army sniper, during his funeral in Idlib, north Syria, Thursday, March 8, 2012. (AP Photo/Rodrigo Abd)

I normally write about Saudi but the situation is getting dire in an area that’s increasingly becoming a blind spot for the rest of the world. In Syria the death toll is 8,000 and growing and the refugee count has reached 34000. Yet instead of at least covering what’s going on, there’s been a trend to sensationalize the Asaads and even question the opposition’s integrity. Yes maybe out of desperation some Syrians have acted or scripted their videos but that does not change the fact that they are desperate and fighting for their lives against a ruthless regime. Long before the Arab Spring, it was common knowledge, even a fact of life, that Syria has a cruel oppressive government. The worst that Saddam’s Iraq did, was inspired by what Asaad’s Syria did years before.

The thing is, this is not only a humanitarian crisis, it’s a world peace cause. There’s a rhetoric within the Middle East that harks back to the same kind of demagoguery that created AlQaeda. There are religious leaders all over the Middle East preaching about how something has to be done for Syria. Sheikh AlBraik here actually cries as he says that “there is a fateful Godly reason why victory has been delayed in Syria; so that our hearts may lose hope in the UN and the Security Council and we turn to God”. Another video by a highly popular Kuwaiti sheikh, Nabeel Al Oudhi, refers to the Prophet’s hadith that at the end of the world it is best to be a soldier in Syria. And here another extremely popular sheikh, Alarefe, recites a poem in support of the Syrian opposition and likens Asaad to the Quranic (and biblical) account of the pharaoh.

If the international community does not act soon, this stalemate will lead to a return to the Bush-era polarization of West vs. East. I know that the polarization has not completely gone away but what happened in Egypt and Libya and the rise of social media had things looking up. More and more young people had started to believe in a humane supportive one world regardless of ethnicity and religion. The world needs to stick to the same action plan of quick thinking, creativity and international cooperation that got us through Tunisia, Egypt, Libya and Yemen.

A whole year has passed of children being tortured and journalists targeted and killed. Cartoonists and poets have been disfigured and murdered. And nothing is done except talk.

Aida, 32, recovers from severe injuries after the Syrian Army shelled her house in Idlib north Syria, where her husband and two children were killed after their home was shelled. Source: AP

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26 responses to “Syria

  1. نورة النفجان

    إيمان ياختئ أرحمينا الحين كيف أتابعك ومدونتك والتويتر كله بالانجليزي

  2. Aziz

    Great Said Eman as always

  3. Ramjan Ali

    What the hell is going on? Immediately it shoul be stopped. We do not want to see any human massacre previously happen.

  4. Pingback: UPDATE: Syria | Saudiwoman's Weblog « Regional Wars!

  5. There is much in Saudiwoman’s weblog on Syria that is laudable, even if self-evident. Here in the West, in the UK in particular there is, among the majority of people, twinned senses of anger & disgust at what is happening in Syria and the reaction of our own government. The abger is palpable whenever yet another bravely taken filmed evidence is played across our wideTV screens, murder and bloodshed in detailed HD. The relentless murderuous policy of the Assad regime will go down in the annals of repression and mass murder as one of the worst ever seen in this so called enlightened age that we live in. The disgust, is at our own, and others here in the West, at their constant hand wringing, and bleating sounds of feigned outrage, only to slink back behind excuses and blame games to disguise their moral cowardice. Nobody has to tell us the ambiguity and self serving motives that have and still are what lies at the heart of this inaction on behalf of the West, so it has always been whenever it comes to the Middle East. Oil, military & strategic interests are the important factors that determine policy towards Syria, and hence mine, and I believe countless millions more, complete disgust with our governments hypocris. This next point may not be favourably received in Saudi Arabia, but the UK government will sell arms and military expertise to the Bahrain regime and mutter little more than mealy mouthed critiques of that regime’s oppressive use of killing and imprisonment on its own people. There is that famous adage that all that evil needs to succeed is that all good people do nothing.Well if the reaction of most decent people is to be horrified at what the Assad regime is doing then its clearly not enough to stop Assad or his evil regime. The ridiculous notion that Russia & China’s stubborn defence of Assad is all that’s stopping anyone else doing anything to stop Assad is sheer nonsense. There are now campaigns starting all over Europe to boycott Russian & Chinese products, there is little else ordinary citizens can do, but it is a start. Those wonderfully brave souls in Syria risking their lives in pursuit of no more than the right of self determination deserve more from our governments. Never before has there been a more deserving cause for limited air strikes against Assad’s military capabilities to pursue his campaign of wholesale murder. If any troops are required then let it be those of the Arab League, who must rise to the heights required of a body that professes to represent the countries and nations of the Middle East.

  6. Syria is truly a tragedy for humanity. Why does America not do anything? I’m afraid the answer is complex. Few of us can look at the situation without crying in our hearts. But, the American people have been harangued for a decade in our media about the evils of the Muslim world, with very little counterbalancing response from responsible Muslims. The result is an American population largely ignorant of the issues facing the Muslim world. What we see is ingratitude for the sacrifices we have made. No one can doubt that the United States has made mistakes in its dealings in the Middle East for generations. Those facts have been largely exposed ad infinitum. But what most of my countrymen see is something like this, “Stay out of our lands! We don’t want you! We will murder and behead you if you come. But save us when our own leaders persecute and murder us.” What are we to do when we receive such mixed messages?

  7. Still, it is true that we in America are being prepared for war. As I write this I’m watching a CNN special called “72 Hours Under Fire” in which Arwa Damon and other CNN reporters risked everything to go into Syria and bring out the story of Homs. Meanwhile, the USS Enterprise was shown in the international press leaving Norfolk this week with a presumed destination of the Arabian Gulf. That would make the third aircraft carrier battle group in the Gulf, which is an unprecedented naval buildup. Some say we are trying to show our resolve to Iran; conspiracy theorists say we’re sending Enterprise into the Gulf as a sacrificial lamb, since this is her last voyage anyway, and it will be cheaper to let her sink with her crew than spend billions on decommissioning. Meanwhile, Prime Minister Cameron has come to the White House for a meeting this week, with no genuine explanation. There are a lot of moving parts in the Middle East right now, as all readers of this will know very well. Will the US and Nato take on both Iran and Syria in one go? Who can say? As the Dalai Lama rightfully says, violent solutions often produce undesired results. We can only hope that our leaders will be judicious in their decision making, and pray for the oppressed peoples of Syria and Iran, among many others of course.

  8. omlujain

    What is happening in killing me. I have tried to ignore it… but I can’t. What is happening is a massacre… the world is turning a blind I and I can not longer ignore it. I have a Syrian Friend who is so ro Assad she ignored everything he does.. and the only answer they have is that it is staged, and fake. The mindless killing of the citizens of Syria, is not staged, The kidnapping of innocent children is not staged. I can go on, and on, I have seen one video, and refuse to watch anymore. I do not understand how this is being ignored.

    May God be with them…

    This is also a video of Al Arafi and what he saw in Refuge camps for the people of Syria…

    • Lori

      Thank you for showing this video omlujain. Thank you for writing this blog entry Eman. I pray everyday for Syria. Why can’t human beings just be safe? Forget the the water, food, shelter, medicine/disease issues that plague us. Why must we die by war and terrorism? Why should a woman be violated or disfigured? Why are there so many questions and no answers, just never ending cycles of horrible tortorous death? All I can feel is sorrow and just Pray. HUMAN BEINGS. We are all the same anatomy and physiology. Being that we are made by our creator (whomever we choose to see as our creator on our own personal journey as a HUMAN BEING) It stands to reason and COMMON SENSE that we all have rights. A very good example of a RIGHT, is a woman should be allowed her virginity, her dignity, and education about her health. If education is not provided and poverty is the reason, that does not give any man the right to just take her virginity and her dignity away by force. If a woman is educated and has money to live with food and water and basic comforts, she as well has the RIGHT to her virginity and her dignity. Woman and Children I pray for you. Men and children who are made to fight in these horrible, senseless wars, I pray for you. Mother earth I pray for you. And let my words not fall on deaf ears.

  9. Once again wee must be reminded that this is no Ordinary Civil War. The Recent Unrest, with regards to the state of Social Inequality in all corners of the World, from Zuccotti Square, to Islamabad, and every Middle Eastern Country in between; Is Nothing less than Global Event Class Warfare of the First Magnitude.Do not be so Naive to Think Bashar Assad is some kind of Totalitarian Dictator in the Classic Fashion. The Fact of the Matter Is, Bashar Assad is nothing more than a Despotic Elitist Bourgeoisie Militant Puppet of Corrupt Privatizationist Russia, and Her Doomed Mediterranean Cruise Ship Dinner Partners ( And I saw Barack Obama Drinking Guinness with David Cameron, AND Angela Merkel, at Saint James Gate in Dublin on St, Patrick’s Day ! ). Assad is only the Tip of the Iceberg. That If Iraq and Afghanistan, are another Vietnam and Cambodia; Then Libya and Syria must comprise another Pinochetist Latin America.

  10. Erika

    Sadly now the russians are coming. Sigh…. :'(

  11. jmumu

    I am a Syrian Christian living in the US and I completly agree that Assad needs to stop the killing. But also these opposition activists made a mistake by internationlizing this conflict outside of Syria’s traditional ally’s (Iran, Russia China). I just hope people here know that the Saudi/Qatari Regimes are just as bad if not worse and that there involvment with some aspects of the syrian opposition is killing the legitimacy of the uprising(not to mention the uncomfortable ass kissing towards western nations). The Syrian People are a great diverse people who have a proud history, getting rid of Bashar will take time, it will not happen in a day. I just wish members of the opposition would find other methods of protesting so that the people can stop dying. Patients is key of the game let us resist Bashar but also resist outsiders from taking advantage of the revolution.

    • Alois Saint-Martin

      The Powers that Be
      Are Postponing the question of the Syrian Holocaust
      until after the American Election ?
      How Convenient
      What Hypocrisy
      How Freedom and Democracy
      are of Human Contrivance
      not Gods

  12. mk

    Another conflict in the un-democratic Arab world. There is not a single country where Arabs enjoy universal suffrage, oh except for the 25% of Israelis of Arab descent.
    An Arab in Israel enjoys all the rights and freedoms of their fellow citizens and this includes the right to criticize their Government and even recently a Christian Arab judge sentenced a former President to 7 years in jail. When an Arab regime is clearly committing crimes against humanity the UN Human Rights Council passed many resolutions against Israel because serial human rights abusers such as Saudi Arabia and Iran unbelievably sit on a ‘Human Rights Council’ but none against Saudi Arabia, Iran, Bahrain, and Sudan. All these ‘Moslem’ countries murder, torture and abuse their citizens they are meant to protect and none allow the complete freedom of religion enjoyed in our Western and decidedly more civilized societies.
    What I see in the Arab world is a complete repudiation of Islam as a means of running a country. How can people living there accept their lot so easily?

  13. Sue Bingham

    Heartbreaking. The situation makes me feel so powerless. What is it about men’s insatiable need for power that blinds them to the suffering they inflict on the innocent?

  14. Glenn Jackson

    The belief that there is a certain level of humanity that we do not sink below is a lie. The truth is, Homo sapiens desire power and once attained will do everything in their power to hold it. The other truth is, democracies do not go to war, even to intervene, unless their own interests are threatened. This is sad. So was Ruwanda and Darfur. We will not prevent this type of disease until we elevate the conscience to a higher level and agree that freedom of thought, belief, worship, dress, association and action are rights we all possess and protect for each other.

  15. Heartbreaking. The situation makes me feel so powerless. What is it about men’s insatiable need for power that blinds them to the suffering they inflict on the innocent?

  16. mk

    Arab Like Me
    By Lee Habeeb
    February 15, 2012 4:00 A.M.
    There are two kinds of Arabs in this world. Those who hate Jews, and those who don’t. And in my life, I have met more of the former than the latter.
    I am not proud to say that. Arabs will not like me for admitting it. But it is true. And it is something I wish the Obama administration understood. It is something Americans should know as the “Arab Spring” enters its second year.
    I didn’t know much about any of this as a Lebanese kid growing up in New Jersey. But I found out about it when I wrote my first pro-Israel column for my college paper as a young student journalist.
    I defended Israel on some point I’ve long forgotten, but what I’ll never forget is the backlash I received from fellow Arabs. Some were Americans, others were students from Arab countries, many of whom I counted as friends.
    First came the letters to the editor, then the personal insults. It was as if I’d broken a secret code I didn’t know existed. Some secret blood oath, which goes something like this: Arabs don’t speak unkindly of Arabs in public, or kindly about Israel.
    The backlash stunned me. I pondered the pounding I had taken, and floundered a bit. I even thought for a short time of writing something negative about Israel the next time I had a chance, just to balance things out and reestablish my Arab bona fides.
    One friend accused me of being a self-hating Arab. He explained to me that I was exploiting my ancestry to ingratiate myself with white America and the Jews who controlled white America.
    I explained to him that I was white. And that I was an American. And that I didn’t believe that Jews controlled America. The Jewish men I knew had a hard enough time controlling their own families! But nothing I said helped relieve the tension, not even my stab at humor.
    I also explained that many of my Jewish friends did not like my column. Most were liberals from New York or northern New Jersey who assumed I was with them on the politics of the Middle East, that I was in agreement with the governing thesis that drives most Arabs and liberal Jews: that it is Israel that is the problem in the region, not the Palestinians, and not the Arab world itself.
    I also explained to him that I was mostly Lebanese, but also part German and part Italian, and that I was raised by parents who didn’t much care for the whole notion of hyphenated America. They taught me to think for myself, and have the courage to challenge authority. Even theirs, if I could make the case.
    The fact is, Arabs don’t all look alike or think alike. But we are often pushed into a kind of groupthink, a kind of self-censorship that hinders our development and our understanding of ourselves and the world around us.
    We are not a universal group. But some of us believe in a simple universal truth: that every Arab deserves to live in freedom, wherever he or she might call home. Some of us want Arab countries to be more like America and Israel, places where the individual can flourish.
    Say those words to many Arabs and they are shocked and angered. Soon, words like imperialist are thrown about, and the subject turns to Israel. Always, it seems, it turns to Israel.
    Why the anger when I hint that America and Israel might have something to teach the Arab world? I thought about it for the longest time, and only recently stumbled upon the answer.
    It is all about Arab self-doubt. It is all tied to a profound lack of cultural self-confidence, and a deep-seated fear that maybe, just maybe, Arabs won’t be very good at the self-governance thing. That Arab nations won’t be capable of building democratic cultures that engender the flourishing of human freedom, and that these nations won’t have the ability to tap the God-given talents of their people the way Americans and Israelis do.
    That maybe, just maybe, the Arab world will never measure up to America or Israel.
    Better, goes the logic, to cling to anger over the plight of the Palestinians. Better to cling to international policy disputes and to a deep-seated hatred of Israel. Better to play the role of victim, and the role of self-righteous critic, than to do the hard work of lifting up the conditions of your people.
    An Arab American friend of mine who works for a large NGO is a case in point. He is Jordanian, he’s well educated, and he speaks five languages. But mention the word Israel, and watch his blood boil immediately. He will go into a lengthy diatribe about the injustices perpetrated against the Palestinians by Israel. When Prime Minister Netanyahu’s name is mentioned, I worry that he will have a seizure on the spot.
    Why is this? Why is all of his passion, all of his anger and rage, directed at this one country, this one people?
    Why is it not directed at Syria, I ask him? By all accounts, the Syrian government orchestrated the assassination of one of the Arab world’s great men of peace, former Lebanese prime minister Rafic Hariri. And President Assad continues to terrorize his own people.
    Why not at Hezbollah, which orchestrated the takeover of Lebanon?
    Why not at Hosni Mubarak when he was in power? Or Saddam Hussein?
    Why not at the ways in which Islam degrades women in the Middle East, trapping them in a life of servitude?
    Why not at the ways some Muslims are persecuting Christians throughout the Middle East, as reports pour in about atrocities upon atrocities?
    Why not a critique of the Koran itself, which regrettably finds little separation between mosque and state, thus relegating the majority of Arabs to life under theocratic regimes?
    Two reasons: fear, and envy.
    To the dismay of Arabs around the world, Jewish people turned an ancient piece of real estate in the Middle East into a thriving oasis of intellectual, political, religious, and commercial activity, where people are free to do as they please. One of the oldest places on earth — a place where Abraham walked — Israel is as thoroughly modern as any place on earth, with a functioning government that respects religious and economic freedom.
    A young person in Israel can choose to work in some of the best high-tech companies in the world, or can pursue a life dedicated to Talmudic studies. A woman has an equal right to pursue any career she likes, and people of different sexual orientations are not driven underground — or worse.
    The fact is, the God-given talents of the people of Israel are allowed to flourish in ways Arabs should want to emulate, and replicate.
    This smart, dynamic Jordanian friend instead focuses on border disputes and the acts of the Israeli government. He performs Houdini-like intellectual twists to dodge my questions, which are always gentle, but cut right through to his very clear — and almost programmed — bigotry.
    I ask him why he is obsessed with the 1967 border dispute, and not some other border grudge, as it would not take long to find other countries unhappy with the ways in which territories were allocated as spoils of various 19th- and 20th-century wars.
    I tell him that using his logic, Mexican terrorists should be blowing themselves up in Houston and El Paso. And they should have his unwavering support to compel America to return Texas to its rightful, original owner.
    I now ask Arabs who show such a knee-jerk reaction to Israel a simple question, one that cuts to the heart of all this nonsense: Why do you hate Jews?
    They first get angry, but then quickly point out that they have no beef with Jews. It’s Israel they hate.
    To which I reply, “If Israel had been handed over to Bolivians or Albanians or Estonians, would you still hate it?”
    It is a none-too-subtle question, but it makes the point: Despising Israel the way Israel is despised in much of the Arab world is all about anti-Semitism. And most anti-Semitism anywhere in the world has its origins in envy.
    Benjamin Netanyahu once gave a speech in which he pointed at a map of the Middle East. He rattled off many of the countries in the region, and the relative size of those nations to Israel. Jordan is four times the size of Israel, Iraq 20, Egypt 46; Saudi Arabia is nearly 90 times the size of Israel.
    “Big countries,” he said. “But small accomplishments.”
    He then went on to describe Israel, which is just slightly bigger than one of America’s smallest states, New Jersey.
    “Little country,” he concluded. “But big accomplishments.”
    And there you have it, in one perfectly formulated binary.
    Today, Arabs are at a crossroads. The “Arab Spring” is an opportunity like none the region has ever seen. The people who live there are no more or less capable than the people of Israel or the United States.
    But it is up to them to build functioning democracies, and a culture that breeds and rewards hard work and success. It is up to Arabs themselves to take advantage of their newfound freedom, and unleash the productive capacities of their people.
    Countries aren’t built on spite and hate, but on love, trust, shared sacrifice, and hard work. Maybe, just maybe, Arabs in the Middle East will be so busy working, yearning, and striving to make their own lives better that they will have little time left to burnish old grievances.
    Maybe, over time, Arabs will build governments worthy of their people, as Israel and America have done.
    Maybe, Arabs will come to see Jews not as their enemies, but as their neighbors, and as their trading partners.
    And maybe, just maybe, as their friends.
    Here is one Arab praying that will happen.

    http://www.nationalreview.com/articles/291094/arab-me-lee-habeeb

    • Therese Rickman-Bull

      Answers may be difficult to find but you posed absolutely fundamental questions that need to be rigourously considered. Excellent post.

  17. Ronda Darby

    Yes maybe out of desperation some Syrians have acted or scripted their videos…

    Regards

    http://www.3tekservices.com

  18. Hello Saudiwoman, I am from a small country town in Australia and I have been following aghast what has been happening in Syria from the moment they discovered the poor boys body, to the courage of his parents, to this… it sickens me, it disgusts me. I cry and I feel helpless because I do not know how I can help other then say: no I am watching. I do see the horrendous crime against my fellow humans, i do.
    Amelia

    • Mark

      Sickening crimes are committed every day across the Arab world. It is just normal in their countries without free press, democracy and kleptomaniac rulers. When they need an explanation they look for guidance in 1,000+ year old book written by people who didn’t have 1% of the knowledge that we have available today and when all else fails they blame Israel, as Assad did yesterday.

      The complete ignorance and lack of modern questioning that goes on in the Arab world is the cause ….. they need an outbreak of democracy and dare I say to loosen up and start enjoying this life for what it is… fun

  19. Mark

    This is a case in point of the rubbish on Arab TV channels. They love to blame Israel and the West for them largely living as illiterate peasants… None of them get off their backsides and seek knowledge and education..

    http://www.memritv.org/embedded_player/index.php?clip_id=3448

  20. Syrians have acted or scripted their videos but that does not change the fact that they are desperate and fighting for their lives against a ruthless regime.

  21. Ross Holloway

    The only thing I query in your blog, is the need for Western powers to sort this out.

    Saudi Arabia is a hugely rich country, with plenty of arms. Why isn’t Saudi Arabia, or Bahrain, or the UAE sending in peace-keeping forces?

    If the USA or Britain, or France, were to intervene, many in Muslim world would blame us for “invading a Muslim country”, notwithstanding that Syria is not a ‘Muslim Country’ insofar as not all Syrians are Muslims.

    However poorly and misjudged, and sometime plain wrong and evil (I’m thinking of Abu Graib), were the Western powers actions in liberating Iraq, the USA and her allies never acted as badly as Saddam Hussein, yet in the Arab world it’s all the West’s fault for invading a ‘Muslim country’.

    And you expect for us to give up our lives of our sons and daughters again?

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