Most political critics won’t even hold an opinion anymore – they prefer to hold grudges. All the modern Middle Eastern conflicts could bend in the direction of justice today and yet it is almost as if they’d be disappointed – they’d have nothing left to criticize. It is one thing to constructively criticize a political tyrant – it is another thing to criticize whatever you feel like criticizing for your own agenda.
Obama is attacking ISIS. Why is that a bad thing? Because Bush did it? Remember guys – Bush is a conservative. His motive was different. His tactic was different. His execution was different. Stop generalizing.
Saudi Arabia might be a hub for fundamentalism. So is America – Glenn Beck, Sarah Palin, Rush Limbaugh, to name a few (who are politically influential).
Ultimately can we always blame Arab governments (and government in general) for the choice of their constituents to rise in ideologically fanatical insurgency? Is it not individual choice that lead to the rise of groups like ISIS? But what unit of measure do you perceive the world by – the individual, or else?
Insight into Syria.
The following is my written version of the speech delivered by President Bashar al-Assad on January 10th, 2012.
We try to encourage awareness in the country.
Still, there is some ignorance in the country effecting conditions here…
Internal reforms are clear. Progress and advancement should still carry on.
What is happening in Syria is being planned. It is part of a plan that has been hatched for the last 10 years, the Sykes-Picot plan.
Defeating Syria is not necessarily by military means, but by making us look backwards, by making us ignore the palestinian cause.
Their objective is to show Syria interested in regional issues but not showing its Arab responsibilities, to harm Syrian identity and culture.
They will not succeed to destroy our identity.
The battle against terrorism is not a battle of the state, it is a battle of all of us.
Syria will remain steadfast and strong.
A strong country knows when and how to be tolerant.
As long as we can hit the terrorists we can bring the people who have gone astray back to the straight path.
They were pushed towards crime, but a good state will give people the opportunity to come back to the right path.
We amnestied a number of prisoners.
Some people think this led to more crime, but the reality was opposite, there was positive results.
We asked people to help their sons and bring them to the right path.
We dialogue with all forces except criminals whose hands are stained with blood.
Our people who are affected by intellectual blindness – they really think that they are revolutionaries.
What have they done? How can we describe them?
Can you show me a rebel that steals a car, pillages a house?
For me a revolutionary is positive, is right.
These people have killed people.
Can a revolutionary be described as a coward?
They prevented schools from carrying on education!
The level of education in the country has now dropped to half the percentage.
Lecturers are putting their lives in danger to carry on their work.
At the end of 2011, the number of martyred-lecturers was 30; number of schools pillaged 1,000.
On your behalf I would like to salute all the lecturers and administrators.
Is it possible to have a revolution against knowledge, eduation, national unity?
Is it possible to define a revolutionary who deprives people of gas, food?
This is not a revolution!
Is it possible that a revolutionary should work for an enemy?
Is it possible for a revolutionary to be a traitor?
But the main question that I was asked was: When can this and how can this end?
We cannot give answers. This is a difficult question.
The plot will finish when the Syrian people decided to turn into a weak and submissive people, when we forego our nationalist stance, when we submit our nationalist stance on the Palestinian cause, when we give up our Golan Heights, when we ignore the massacres in our country…whether the Arab League will see into this problem, I don’t think so.
We cannot give up Syrian dignity!
This will end when smuggling of arms and funds stops.
This is linked to the first one – when we give in is when we give up.
The conspiracy stops when we defeat it
The question of when the conspiracy will end is when we defeat it internally, politically.
Our awareness will defeat the plot. When we return to wisdom.
Syria is a very strong country, but strength is not unending.
A strong person declines with age.
Debt and collapse is not inevitable.
We cannot fight off terrorism as long as chaos carries on.
Immunity is weakened when national awareness is weakened.
I would like to tell people there is an international conspiracy, there are arms being smuggled. The situation is now clear. This terrorism cannot happen over night.
The kind of arms they use, the geography they operate on.
People know what is happening.
What is important is that we should stand side by side when this is a national issue. But when the country is threatened, states and countries unite and stand side by side.
There is no such thing as I am in the middle or I am sitting on the fence. We should sit side by side. We should put our differences aside.
Can anybody say that the policy on combatting terrorism is wrong.
When we go back to 70s and 80s, when terrorists used Islam to legitimize terrorism…we put an end to them because the people stood with the State. We don’t want to carry on like that.
This is a race between terrorism and reforms.
Terrorists don’t want reforms.
The issue is that of terrorism.
We stress on respecting the law because we stress on protecting the innocent
The majority of the Syrians who are dying are innocent.
They are killing the Syrian people.
We should Unite. We should be decisive.
But how can the citizen stand with the State?
The army entered a city occupied by terrorists.
The citizens of that city helped protect the army.
We have so many means, we should start today, a direct dialogue between officials and security forces in cities, so that we can establish security over all Syrian land.
My position right now is of National Reconciliation.
At the beginning of the crisis people suggested National Reconciliation.
At the end of the crisis everyone will forgive everyone.
Revenge will not bring positive results. Revenge will not help this country.
It is from this feeling that National Reconciliation comes.
National Reconciliation will be done through awareness not through amnesty.
This is a national situation that should be linked to laws.
All these measures, reforms, confrontations and complex situations, for us to succeed, we should warn those who are being psychologically weakened, if they succeed,
The Syrian people will not sell their dignity and honour for money.
I am not just saying this. We supplied Syrian wheat and grain to four Arab countries when they had nothing.
And it is us who developed its industries in the 80s without any reserves.
And we paid our debts
The young generation – do not let fear enter your heart.
Syrian has gone through a more difficult situation than now, and it came out victorious.
Today, we are capable of turning this all into an asset if we think scientifically and collectively.
We should not allow a minority to abuse a situation.
We should focus on immediate and small term industries and small trade.
We should create employment opportunities and we should not divide the kind of crowd we seek.
We should have social justice and not to affect the small businessman and trader.
Traders should be encouraged and protected.
Despite all these difficulties, farming in Syria has achieved a great deal and the farmers and the workers in the field are continuing their work, but I think more attention should be given to these people.
In the psychological war against Syria, they have failed on the Sectarian issue.
They are now embarking on a economic war.
The criteria is the level of production in Syria. We have become a producing country. We can actually increase our production in this crisis.
The debt in Syria is very small. Our relations with other countries have not stopped.
We are fifth in the world in the production of olives. We are small country but to be 5th in the world is a great thing.
We should organize the economic operation and be able to move forward even now.
For us, the West, we cannot deny that it is important. The West today is not the West a few weeks ago. But the West is not the oxygen we use to breath. It is not our safety net. We can swim alone, and with our brothers. That is why since 2005 we turned to the East. The West remains colonialist.
They use different methods but they are the same.
Relations with most countries with Syria are excellent.
Some European countries still maintain good relation with Syria.
The citizen’s consumption is decreasing.
I call on unity and cooperation from all so that we are faithful to the legacy of the citizen.
Despite all this complex situation, my faith and trust in the future is great. It stems from you, dignity, honor.
You promised me, when there is a challenge against Syria, we are all one.
Our people have proved their dignity and heritage.
Attacking Syria did not harm its dignity.
We’ll not allow a small group who sold their soul to the devil to destroy Syria.
My trust in this stems from you, the men in the armed forces, conscience and bravery of the people.
I extend my salutations while they are protecting the honor of this country, the blood of our martyrs, which are the basis of our country will be the basis of the construction of a new Syria.
We are determined to face up to them!
People of this great nation, I salute you, from all walks of life, unity, friendship, against the hatred leveled against this country.
Honor to the pure people who refuse to submit.
As Part II of my segment on the Full Barbara Walters interview with Bashar Al-Assad, which was, to our intellectual misfortune, not aired on national television in its full length, I will provide the highlights of the interview, summarizing key points and, more specifically, those that have been largely overlooked by analysts, the media, and the international community.
When Barbara Walters asked Bashar al-Assad why he believed the United Nations was not a credible institution, he responded with the following:
“They never implemented any of the resolutions that are related to the Arab World, to the Palestinians, the Syrian land. If they talk about human rights, what about the Palestinians suffering in the occupied territory. What about my land and my people that left their land because it is occupied by Israel?”
Barbara Walters then asked Assad about Turkey and the Arab League’s more aggressive approach to Syria, more specifically, the recent sanctions they slapped against Syria.
“Turkey and the Arab League have a hidden agenda. They don’t care about the demonstrations, the Syrian people, democracy,” Bashar responded.
“We still have good relations with neighboring countries.”
“Does the Arab League want to destroy you?” Walters replied.
“You have to ask them. I don’t know their will to be frank.”
“Will you allow outside monitors to come into your country, and to allow them to go to cities like Homs?”
“Under what circumstances?”
“To be in line with our sovereignty.”
“What does that mean?”
“To do everything in cooperation with the Syrian government: how to move, how to prepare, how to protect them. We asked for monitors before they (the Arab League) did. They didn’t want to discuss with us. If they don’t want to discuss, then no.”
“Can outside foreign reporters come? They have not been allowed.”
“No – they were allowed, and you are here.”
“I am here and I have a correspondent here with me.”
“But you’ve been here for two days now. Did anybody tell you where to go and where not to go? Nobody. You are free to go wherever you want.”
Author’s Note: This is the end of Part II. Part III will be coming shortly and will be comprised mainly of the segment of the interview during which Bashar speaks about his wife, his father, his brother, and his children.
Syrian President Bashar al-Assad was recently interviewed by American journalist Barbara Walters in the first official interview by a western journalist since Syria became the center of international attention last February.
Walters asked Assad if he believed he still had the support of his people after having commanded what the international community has referred to as a brutal crackdown on “peaceful protesters”.
“I believe the majority of the people are in the middle,” he responded.
Walters then referred to specific incidents within Syria. She mentioned pictures and videos released on the internet showing people being shot and killed, and rumors of children being kidnapped and mutilated.
“How do you know this is true?” he responded. “Have you verified these pictures? I visited the family of the boy [who you said was kidnapped and tortured] and his father told me his child was not tortured.”
Walters told Assad that the United Nations had evidence of the Syrian government committing crimes against humanity.
“Who said the United Nations is a credible institution?” he responded defiantly.
Al-Assad suggested that outside forces were responsible for inciting the uprising in Syria.
Even ordinary people inside and outside of Syria have questioned the validity of the videos and pictures on the internet.
They often ask questions like:
“Why aren’t we seeing videos of pro-Assad demonstrations? Why don’t we hear about the number of pro-Assad Syrians being killed? How do we know these uprisings are not incited by extremists and neighboring interest groups?”
Later on in the interview, Walters asked the president why Syria had an ambassador to the United Nations if it were indeed an illegitimate institution.
“It is a game we have to play,” he replied.
When the interview concluded, Walters described her overall outlook on the president.
“He is soft spoken. He is calm. He answered every question…”
“He is not as grim as Mubarak, and he is not crazy like Gaddafi.”
Before going to Damascus, Walters was told not to leave her residence. She was cautioned that it was a very dangerous atmosphere and that her life could be threatened.
But based on her direct personal experience, Walters said that she faced no such danger. Things seemed to be carrying on as usual in Damascus.
Author’s Note: The original interview between Barbara Walters and Bashar al-Assad was much longer than what was made available to viewers. I found to this be unfair, biased, and completely unprofessional on the side of ABC and Walters herself. Although I believe she did a great job, I do think that the entire interview should be made available for viewers in order for them to form their own perspectives and opinions.
A League of despots, clerics, and Kings has taken it upon itself to be the harbinger of justice in the Middle East.
According to a New York Times article by Neil MacFarquhar and Nada Bakri, the Arab League made the claim that it does not intend to depose the Assad Regime.
Instead, the Arab League hopes that by implementing economic sanctions against Syria, the Assad Regime will falter, more soldiers will defect, and the elite business class will distance itself further from the government.
The article also suggests that the Arab League does not support foreign intervention in Syria.
In a quote taken from the NY Times article, a Lebanese analyst stated:
“In the war against Syria, the economic will take the place of the limited possibility of military intervention.”
In direct contradiction of that proposition, however, Qatari minister Sheik Hamad said that if the international community does not take the Arab League’s initiative seriously, he cannot promise that there will be no foreign interference.
Keep in mind that the Arab League endorsed a full fledged invasion of Libya by NATO forces.
Furthermore, the Arab League believes that economic sanctions are in the interests of the Syrian people, for whom it suddenly cares, as opposed the Bahrainis who are apparently a few degrees below human.
But the following line from the New York Times article suggests otherwise:
“I think it is time the world realized that economic sanctions are not affecting anyone but the Syrian people,” said a 23-year old Damascus resident who did not want to be identified for fear of reprisal. “Those who couldn’t afford buying bread, now can’t afford even smelling bread.”
The questions posing us now are, what are the interests of the Arab League? Why do they suddenly want to be directly involved in altruistic endeavors? Furthermore, why have we not heard more on the brutal massacre of Bahraini protesters by the Saudi-backed Bahraini royal family?
Contradictions, hypocrisy, religion, and money – sounds like a perfect recipe for Middle Eastern chaos to me.
In every country and in every age, the priest has been hostile to liberty. He is always in alliance with the despot, abetting his abuses in return for protection to his own.
-Thomas Jefferson, letter to Horatio G. Spafford, March 17, 1814