Archive for the ‘Syrian Politics’ Category

A Response to a Syrian Regime Loyalist

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Image by: الشعب السوري عارف طريقه on Facebook

Often I find myself debating with Syrians who are pro the regime on Facebook, twitter, and Google Plus. Below is my response to comments by a fellow Syrian who supports the regime  on a public G+ post. Feel free to click through to the post to see all the comments. Below are his(her?) comments and my response. They said:

 It is very shallow to paint the situation as angels versus demons in Syria. Both factions have criminals among their ranks. But as a supporter of the regime I can’t overlook the fact that a significant portion of the opposition is based on a sectarian ideology and bonds upon the hatred of the other rather than through any civil dogma.

it is a stand against chaos and lawlessness. It is supporting the idea of the state not the imprisonment of your friends. Though the experiences of your friends might have been tragic, which I am awfully sorry for, but still the tragedies that the community as a whole will face in case Syria slips into chaos is much more greater than any personal suffering.

My response: I’m interested in seeing where you got your stats when you said “significant portion of the opposition is based on a sectarian ideology and bonds upon the hatred of the other rather than through any civil dogma.” Please don’t try to pass your opinions as fact. The regime is trying desperately to paint the protesters in a bad light. Heck, if we want to talk about percentages, I can easily prove to you that a larger portion of regime loyalists have committed far more atrocities, crimes, and human rights abuses that any abuses committed by the protesters are a mere fraction of that.

Also, care to explain why the regime is targeting peaceful activists if the claim is that the regime is fighting armed gangs? Why did +Anas Maarawi spend two months in jail? Why did Ghayath Matar, the renowned peaceful activist, get arrested by security forces, tortured and brutally murdered? Why was Ali Ferzat assaulted? Why did the parents of the Internationally renowned musician Jandali get viciously beaten up because he composed a song calling for freedom? Why is Syrian media publishing statements by groups promoting violence against Syrian protesters AND their parents? Why am I (and my parents) along with countless others, such as Hakam AlBaba being threatened by the dirt-bag Ammar Ismail from Damascus News Network who’s heavily supported by the regime and is constantly appearing on Syrian TV channels? Why were peaceful artists and intellectuals arrested for days and threatened and almost assaulted when the court finally freed them? Why are pro-Assad thugs assaulting people in Europe and even Washington DC?

I can keep going for days. In brief, the current regime is the antithesis of the “idea of state” that you claim to support. The Assad regime is a ruthless clan clinging tooth and nail to power at any cost.

What kind of state keeps hundreds of thousands of its people stateless and without any rights for decades? Why all the repression of the Kurds?

Syria has been in masked chaos since the sixties. “Stability” enforced by human rights abuses and fear is not something to be proud of or defend. The Assad regime is a sectarian regime if I’ve ever seen one. They claim to be secular but they do everything in their powers to scare the minorities from what would happen if the regime falls.

If your idea of state is North Korea, then congratulations, the Assad regime is bringing us ever so closer to it.


Fragment: The Audacity of.. Reform

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Note: the article below is an incomplete fragment. It was written on April 16th; the day President Assad gave his second speech. I was interrupted before finishing it and it has remained a draft ever since. It lacks links, sources, fact/grammar checking. I publish it as is. Please do NOT quote elsewhere.

au·dac·i·ty/ôˈdasitē/Noun

1. The willingness to take bold risks: “her audacity came in handy during our most recent emergency”.
2. Rude or disrespectful behavior; impudence: “she had the audacity to pick up the receiver and ask me to hang up”.

I watched Al Assad’s second speech today, to the newly formed cabinet. The main change: he did not laugh. It’s hard to laugh when people are tearing your pictures apart and destroying statues of your late father and setting them on fire.

He opened by talking of conspiracy theories and infiltrators. Not too promising. There was definitely a change of tone from the previous speech and not interruptions with poetry or parroting chants like what happened at the parliament. However, removing status law is still going to take another couple of weeks. I expect it to be announced on a Thursday.

Algeria(?) lifted their emergency laws promptly after some protests. But in Syria we still need sometime. Time we can’t afford. We have a constitution, be it faulty as it is, so why does it need weeks just to be reinstated?

Giving hundreds of thousands of Kurds citizenship, and even the thought of  establishing a Parliamentary committee to study removing the emergency law were red lines. It was unthinkable that anyone would dare discuss them openly in the public sphere.

It took a few weeks of protests by– if you were to believe the Syrian official line– “infiltrators;” “conspirators;” “agents of Bandar, Hariri, Israel, and the US,” and trained foreign nationals to push the regime to announce that they’re going to give Syrians some of their basic rights back.

Assad talked audaciously for an hour about reform. I’ll leave it to you dear reader to choose which meaning of the word applies here. Meanwhile thousands of people are rotting in jails for committing though crimes against the “beloved leader”  and motherland. Convicted felons, thieves, frauds, and the average thug are released in hours with a .frequent presidential pardon. Bigmouths aren’t so lucky.

Adding insult to injury, Assad talked about ensuring citizens’ dignity, on day after his security forces tied down every man in Al Baida village in Baniyas for daring to protest. Heavily armed thugs gleefully walked all over the men tied down like cattle, frequently kicking them in the head and face and beating them with sticks.

Of course, the speech did not leave out political reform. Assad talked about improving life standards, supporting the drought impoverished  Eastern provinces, improving transparency in the public sector and economic processes as a whole. There was no mention of the economic titans–or Economic Bulldozers as they prefer– of Assad’s close circle, Makhlouf and Shalash, who have been treating the Syrian Economy as their personal trust fund for decades. A promising start indeed.

After the speech, some of my fellow Syrians were optimistic, hopeful, excited even with all the seemingly serious promises and apparent change in tone. I wonder how those promises are in anyway more serious than similar promises from Assad in 2000, or his promises two weeks ago that had a fair share of blood chilling jokes and chuckles as blood of Syrians were coloring the streets red.

For the time being, I’m going to hold on to my skepticism and cynicism. Studies show that cynics are more bitter than the average person, but also have a firmer grasp of reality. To my fellow Syrians that took the redpill and set themselves free I say: I’m forever humbled by your bravery and persistence. I’m honored to be your compatriot and had the pleasure of knowing some of you whether in person or online.

 


Spam Bots Flooding Twitter to Drown Info About #Syria Protests [Updated]

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Defining The Issues

People following the #Syria hash tag on Twitter in the recent weeks to track the developments of the Syrian protests and the deadly governmental crackdown on peaceful protesters must have noticed two major annoyances:

First was the proliferation of what tweeps dubbed as the “twitter eggs,” a group of newly created and mostly image-less twitter accounts that cussed out, verbally assaulted, and threatened anyone tweeting favorably about the ongoing protests, or criticizing the regime. Those accounts were believed to be manned by Syrian Mokhabarat[intelligence] agents with poor command of both written Arabic and English, and an endless arsenal of bile and insults. Several twitter users created lists to make it easier for the rest to track and report those accounts for spam. Here are a couple of examples.

Second, which is more damaging, is the creation of various spam accounts that mainly target #Syria hash tag; flooding it with predetermined set of tweets– every few minutes–about varied topics such as photography, old Syrian sport scores, links to Syrian comedy shows, pro-regime news, and threats against a long list of tweeps who expressed their support of the protests.

Identifying The Cause

At first I thought this was a badly timed annoyance, and several users were already reporting those abusive accounts. However, a couple of users apparently discovered some foul play. The parody account @SyrianPresident tweeted:

Stop it mukhabarat Twitter is not #Bashar’s spam machine! > @TheLovelySyria #Syria #Homs #Aleppo #Damascus #Lebanon http://is.gd/Plii1Z

and @syrianrebels responded:

@SyrianPresident it’s a company in Syria that send automated msgs, a dedicated owner they use server of @eghna check website #Syria branch

I went to investigate the Bahrain based Eghna Developement and Support*, which among other things provides “political campaign solutions.” I searched for any affiliation with Syria, and sure enough, one of the main suspected #Syria spam accounts was featured in their success stories page.

Eghna claims that “LovelySyria is using EGHNA Media Server to promote intersting photography about Syria using their twitter accounts. EGHNA Media Server helped Lovely Syria get attention to the beauty of Syria, and build a community of people who love the country and admire its beauty.” The only problem with that claim is that the lovelysyria.com website is only a Drupal login page void of content. There’s no way of creating a new user account, and therefore any claims of fostering a community are false.

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#NetFreedom in Syria, Between Sanctions and Censorship

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Free Syrian Internet - Image by Flickr user azraiman

A delegation of US tech companies and policymakers are visiting Syria today and holding a meeting with President Bashar Al Assad and high-ranking officials. The tech delegation (#techdel on Twitter, and “techdel” hereafter) came after coordination on high diplomatic levels and as a part of the Obama administration’s policy of engaging with Syria, according to William Burns, U.S. Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs.

A tweet by Alec Ross, the techdel’s leader, summed up the United States’ attitude towards the visit:

This trip to #Syria will test Syria’s willingness to engage more responsibly on issues of #netfreedom

Of course Net freedom is craved by Syrian users; Censorship is strict and many popular websites are blocked by the Syrian government (Facebook and YouTube to name a couple), and perceived cyber-dissidents have many a time received prison sentences ranging between 3-5 years in most cases. What the techdel seems oblivious to is how much the U.S. sanctions on Syria are complicit in further limiting internet freedoms for Syrian users. Jared Cohen, Member of Secretary Clinton’s Policy Planning Staff and a member of the delegation, tweeted:

Big gap between older & younger Syrians on challenges to business. Youth blame lack of education, not sanctions

Just to show how misguided that statement is, I’ll draw up a few comparisons between Syrian governmental censorship and U.S. imposed IT sanctions: Read the rest of this entry »


Hamas, Hezbollah: A Change of Tone

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Thanks to a Syrian tweet bot, I keep on top of everything that’s said about the country in the Twittersphere. And Today I came across a rather interesting AP article: Netanyahu: Israel open to peace talks with Syria. What caught my attention was not the doublespeak of an Israeli official about peace with Syria. Israelis have expressed no interested in returning the occupied Golan to Syria; To them, Syria has nothing to offer in return. Peace in their logic, is overrated. A simple search in prominent Israeli media shows how prevalent that opinion is.

I was especially interested in the particular use of words in the article. I quote:

It has been a quarter-century since Israel and Syria fought directly, but Syria backs anti-Israel forces like the Lebanese guerrilla group Hezbollah and the Palestinian Islamic organization Hamas. Israel’s sworn enemy Iran backs Hamas and Hezbollah.

In this article, Hamas and Hezbollah were not referred to as.. *gasp* “terrorist organizations.” Now I was not able to determine if this was an AP policy not to refer to them as such outside of a direct quote, or whether there’s more to the matter. I’m going to layout a few happenings, and let the readers come out with their own conspiracy theories.

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For Fuckin' Fuck's Sake! Cut it Out!

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Karim Arbaji has just been sentenced to three years in prison for defending human rights in Syria. Meanwhile, the Syrian blogosphere is bustling with posts advocating admirable and worthy campaigns. There’s the astounding campaign against masturbation, the noble Blogging Week for Moral Decay, and the enlightening campaign for Blogging Against Fossilized Thinking.

The background of this story is this post by Abu Fares, a response ridiculing the infamous call for a campaign against masturbation. The commentators on that post eventually came up with their own ideas for  random blogging campaigns. In essence to further mock that blogger, and the perceived religious bloggers he’s associated with.

I have to say that upon reading about the anti-masturbation campaign I cracked up. Also, I posted about it on Global Voices, sans-sarcasm. Some people were amused by the idea and tweeted the link of the article and a friend of mine wrote to me saying that the campaigner is likely to have a crowd supporting his campaign that you could fit in a phone booth. So, many people find – me included – that idea outrageous, But does that warrant the ridicule of the blogger? Does that make it ok to put aside all the great words and thoughts I’ve seen many Syrian bloggers write on each of their blogs to combine forces to fight this supposed “common enemy” called religiousness?

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فجر جديد؟

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من جريدة الوطن

بدون تعليق

من جريدة الوطن الصادرة صباح اليوم

The text reads: “A New Dawn For Humanity, 70 Days Till Bush Leaves the White House”

This was taken from the top of the front page of Al Watan Daily Newspaper.


من يدافع عن مجرمي “الشرف”؟

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هؤلاء

عمر محمود العلي
جرائم انعدام الشرف
ليقرأ المتآمرون على الشرف الكلمات الأولى للمادة ويفهموا اللغة العربية والأخلاق العربيةقبل أن يتفضلوا بالنقاش والبحق وفق رغبات أمريكا ، ليس هناك تعدي على حقوق المرأة ولا استخفافا بوجودها وإنما هناك صيانة ولو بالتهديد لمن تسول لها نفسها بالانحطاط الأخلاقي
شب عتيق
لازم براءة
لازم الي بدافع عن شرفه مابينحكم ابدن لأنو البنت وقت تزني فهي ارتكبت جريمة قتل ل 100 شخص ع الاقل لأنواهلها وقرايبها كلهم رح يلحقهم عار منها ورح يكونو ضحية لنفسها الدنية الي خلتها تزني لذلك لازم تموت هي وكل شخص يزني ويلطخ اسم اهله بالعار
المهندس ابراهيم
سؤال لرجال الدين؟
لو فيكم ذرة دين كنتوا طالبتو برجم الزانية والزاني حتى الموت بدل من تغيير القانون
براهيم
شي متل الكزب
لك عم يقتلو البنات والدعارة منتشرة متل الرز كيف لو مابقا فيه قتل؟؟؟ يعني حتى الي بدافع عن شرفه وعرضه لازم يحكموه 15 سنة ؟؟والله عيب
منتوف
الله يهدي الجميع ويهديني اولهم
يا سيدي لازم اصلا ما يتحاكم منوب لأنو ماحد بحط حاله محل هل الرجال يلي عم يشوف هل الشوفة ئدامه الكل يحط حاله محله لا سمح الله شو ح يكون تصرفو اذا دخل على البيت لا سمح الله وشاف هل الشوفة هي رح يتفرج ؟؟ ولا رح يروح يخبر الشرطة ؟؟؟ اصلا اذا بدو يعمل هيك بكون مافيه شرف واذا كان مافيه شرف اصلا مارح يقتل حد والسلام عليكم

[جميع التعليقات مأخوذة من سيريا نيوز.]


“شرف المجرمين أم مجرمو الشرف؟”

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ملتقى وطني حول جرائم الشرف
دمشق – رنا داود

بالتعاون ما بين وزارتي العدل والأوقاف تقيم الهيئة السورية لشؤون الأسرة ملتقى وطنياً حول جرائم الشرف وذلك في الفترة ما بين 14-16\10\2008 في قاعة الأمويين بفندق الشام. وذكر تقرير صادر عن الهيئة بأن سورية وضعت في مقدمة الدول التي تنتشر فيها هذه الجرائم وهي الخامسة عالمياً والرابعة عربياً في الوقت الذي تتبوأ فيه المرأة في سورية مكانة متقدمة في مختلف مواقع القرار سياسياً و اقتصادياً واجتماعياً، لذلك سارعت العديد من الجهات المعنية الفاعلة في الحقل الاجتماعي لتحديد نقاط الضعف في العديد من القوانين الوطنية وآخرها كان تشكيل الفريق النوعي لدراسة واقع الجرائم التي ترتكب باسم الشرف، كون المشكلة لا تكمن بعدد الجرائم التي ترتكب ولكن تكمن بألية ومنهجية التفكير وفي نمطيته وفي أعماق وأبعاد رؤيتنا لهذه المشكلة

ما دام القانون يجرم الضحية ويكافئ المجرم فليس هناك أمل في تغيير العقلية الجاهلية التي يفاخر بها مجتمعنا العربي العتيد، وطالما تتم ملاقاة المجرم بالزغاريد والأفراح كأنه فتح الأندلس فلا فائدة ترجى من أي ملتقى أو تجمع أو دراسة، وبما أن جميع “الجهات الفاعلة في الحقل الإجتماعي” بعيدة كل البعد عن صناع القرار و المشرعين فلن نرى أي تغيير في القانون نحو عقاب حقيقي للقتلة الذين في ظروف أخرى يحلمون بالحصول على الحد الأدني من العقوبة وهو عشر سنوات بينما قاتلو الشرف يستضافون لمدة ثلاثة إلى ستة أشهر ثم يعودون سالمين غانمين ليعيشوا في ثبات وبنين

ولكن أنا دائماً أحاول النظر إلى الجانب الإيجابي من الأمور، على الأقل يمكننا القول بأن سوريا احتلت مركزاً متقدماً عالمياً في شيءٍ ما، المركز الخامس في قلة الشرف


They had it Coming

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“So is it you [the Syrians] or the Iranians next on the American list?” Asked a friend of mine in a recent IM conversation, and continued with the following statement “well since both Syria and Iran are democracies and the people elected their governments and can hold them accountable for their actions, they deserve to face the American Wrath.”

I won’t comment on the fact that both regimes are democracies and people can hold their governments accountable. You can’t argue with that since both “repeatedly introduced themselves to the world as being democratic.”

The last outburst of American Wrath has cost the Iraqis 2 million lives and turned about 4 million of them into refugees scattered around the world. Iraqi young women – even minors – resorting/forced into prostitution just to keep there families from starving to death (I’ve personally came across families that can’t afford a daily meal of more than a couple of loaves of bread a day for the entire lot of 6-8 people!) Iraq’s infrastructure is devastated beyond repair, and new explosions are shedding Iraqi blood into the Euphrates so often that even news agencies lost interest in covering the daily hell on earth Iraqis are forced to live through as a consequence of American Wrath. But hey, they had it coming.

Saying that is worse than saying that rape victims brought it upon themselves by wearing revealing clothes, might as well advise them to lay back and try to enjoy it! Despite the “NO it’s not” answer I got when I asked, I still hope the whole idea was nothing more than a sick joke.