Palestine: the State of Two States
and articles about the Syrian Uprising
by Ghassan Kadi
Palestine: the State of Two States
by Ghassan Kadi
It is expected that the Palestinians will ask for recognition of statehood in
September 2011. Whether or not they make this demand, and whether or not it
materializes remains to be seen. It is both the need for and the viability of
the two-state resolution that I intend to examine herein.
Ever since its inception, Israel has been trying to rally western support by
creating lies; many of these lies are about the history of Jews in the Middle
The pro-Israel lobby wants to portray Arabs and Moslems in the same light as
the Nazis. It wants the world to believe that Jews have always been persecuted
throughout the centuries and in every corner of the globe. But as leading Jewish
intellectuals like Avraham Burg, Noam Chomsky and Norman Finkelstein have
pointed out, there seems to be a victim mentality among Zionist Jews. They love
to look like victims to such an extent they start believing their own mythology.
With the West deeply mired in guilt about the Holocaust (when in reality the
Holocaust was a Nazi phenomenon that took place deep behind enemy lines during a
World War), Jewish settlers in Palestine were allowed to get away with murder,
literally, as if this could somehow secure a long-lasting peace for the Jewish
Thus, Israel was given carte blanche to commit ethnic cleansing by the West, and
any attempt to criticise the state of Israel for its racist atrocities resulted
in the critic being branded an "anti-Semite" (when in reality Israel is the most
anti-Semitic nation on earth because Palestinian are Semites like the Jews).
Critics of Israel often sacrificed political and business careers, while
suffering social banishment, for the terrible "crime" of opposing
The Israel lobby thrived on the primitive tribal idea of "us versus them" in
a modern world that is striving mightily to end racism. Ironically the "them" (the
Palestinians) did not exist in the beginning, in the eyes of the West. Until the
Palestinians resorted to armed resistance and started to gain global notoriety
as hijackers and "terrorists," the non-Arab world did not even know they existed. In
reality, the racial injustices of Israel created the PLO, Hezbollah and Hamas,
just as the racial injustices of the United States once created the Black
Panthers. The Black Panthers were not the disease, but merely a symptom of the
terrible disease of racism. One the United States finally established much
fairer, nonracist laws and courts, the Black Panthers lost their ability to
raise funds and recruit. Is there any reason not to believe the same things
would happen to Hezbollah and Hamas, if Israel were only to establish fair laws
It wasnít until Arafat publicly renounced "terrorism" to appease the USA that
Palestinians began to gain international recognition. But Israel never renounced
its right to engage in large-scale, systematic terrorism against
completely innocent Palestinian women and children.
Ever since, and despite many attempts to establish a lasting peace with
Israel, the Palestinians have failed (or should we say that Israel has refused)
to ratify existing agreements and/or make concessions acceptable to human
decency. Despite international treaties and pressure, Israel is not yet
convinced that Palestinians are human beings with equal rights. Thus Jewish
babies are born with near-infinitely superior rights to Palestinian babies. Is this
in any way "just"?
Israel does not want the West to know or remember that Moslems, Christians and
Jews have lived peacefully side-by-side for centuries in the Middle East.
Historically, there has never been any systemic discrimination against the Jews
of the Middle East as there was in Europe. No less an authority than the great
Jewish scientist, intellectual and humanitarian Albert Einstein pointed this
out. Anti-Judaism (I wonít use the word anti-Semitism) was prevalent in Europe
centuries before Nazism ever existed.
My hometown Beirut had a Jewish quarter (Wadi Abou Jmeel). Thousands of Jews
lived there for centuries. Beirut also has a Jewish cemetery on the Damascus
Road. The tombs bear the Star of David for all to see. While most Lebanese Jews
left Lebanon VOLUNTARILY, the cemetery is still there. Most Arab cities had
significant Jewish populations. It was not till the creation of Israel that they
were either tempted to leave or felt under pressure to leave. Few were
forcefully made to leave. Israel makes it appear as if all Arab Jews were kicked
out as soon as Israel was created. This is a lie and far from the truth.
I was quite surprised during a recent trip to Syria when I found a copper
tray in Aleppo, of all places, with detailed artwork that depicted the Star of
David. When I asked the shopkeeper (the craftsman who created this wonderful
piece of art) about the reason behind the star, his reply was spontaneous and
simple. He said that historically Jewish craftsmen in Aleppo had tremendous
influence on artistic designs and that todayís craftsmen like to keep this
Palestine has always had a considerable Jewish population. My grandmother had
a proverb for every occasion. To illustrate abundance, she used to say "more
than the Jews of Palestine". The Palestinian currency that was circulated before
Israel was established was trilingual: English, Arabic and Hebrew.
If anything, Moslems feel closer to Jews than they do to Christians. As a
child, I often heard the elderly say that our traditions are much closer to
Judaism than they are to Christianity. The Moslem Halal concept of food is not
so different from its Jewish counterpart (Kosher), and includes a major
commonality; refraining from eating pork. This is not to mention circumcision
and the Abrahamic ancestry.
The Israel lobby is making it seem impossible for Jews to live with Arabs and
Moslems, and is also creating the false pretence that this never happened in the
past, and cannot happen in the future. But their real fear is assimilation.
They simply refuse to see their Jewish identity becoming diluted. They prefer
racism to equality, because the Palestinians have the numbers.
But reality dictates otherwise. The percentage of Jews in Israel is on the
decrease and Israel has no solution to reverse this trend. The long-term
security of Jews in Israel cannot come as a result of more separation, more
Jewish immigration or more Palestinian expulsion. This racist modus operandi
has been stretched to the limit and has reached its breaking point. The security
of Jews in Israel can only come as the result of a just peace with the
The political leaders and policy makers of Israel are not wise enough to
realize that time is not on Israelís side. This is why they have not yet
displayed any serious attempt to establish a final solution. They are still
bogged down in the belief that what force cannot solve, more force can. This is
resulting in a racist, fascist state with policies similar to those of Nazi
If and when a two-state solution is reached, neither party will be satisfied.
Each party will feel that it had to give up land to buy peace. Neither party
will feel that it ended up winning. Both parties will feel like losers, with
losersí vendettas. They will each feel that this resolution is only for the
short-term, hoping time changes things to their favour and results in more
gains. The two states will have a very uneasy peace and probably continue to
squabble over many matters, including water resources and the new-found natural
gas off the coast.
It wonít be long before the two states find new reasons for an expanded
There is no long-term solution for the problem other than one state for
all. In agreeing to live together under one state, both Israelis and
Palestinians will be winners. Instead of splitting up Jerusalem and spilling
more blood on deciding who the city belongs to, then can both have it all, undivided,
as they did in the past.
Under a one-state solution, neither party will feel under any threat and/or
have a need to take vengeance or recapture lost territory.
Under the one-state solution, Palestinians should have the right of return.
If Jews claim ownership of this land and have the right of return thousands of
years later, then so should the Palestinians. This prospect sends shivers down
the spine of Israel and is seen as something that will end Jewish majority in an
instant. They do not see that it wonít be easy for Palestinians to return even
if they wished to do so. Many will probably go back to see their country and to
have a holiday, but one would imagine that only a small percentage will be able
to stay there and have a prosperous future. After all, the establishment of the
state of Israel did not result in a repatriation of the entire Jewish diaspora.
With good intentions on both sides, the ensuing insecurity of the Jewish
population can be resolved. Legislation can be put in place to ensure it. With
good intentions and mutual trust, the one state can even be called Israel; and
why not? Or perhaps more fairly every city, town, village and street could have
a Hebrew name and an Arabic name.
The Lebanese model, with its faults, is not far from this scenario.
Christians, who are in reality a shrinking minority in Lebanon, are protected by
the constitution, and so they should be.
The bottom line is that neither the Israelis nor the Palestinians can
claim that there is no solution. With good intentions and enough
wisdom and maturity on both sides, the problem can be put to rest once and for
What is more pertinent perhaps than anything else, is that Israel cannot
prevent change from taking place. When Israel reached its peak just after the
1967 war, in which it scored an amazing and unprecedented military victory
against Egypt, Syria and Jordan, it felt that it was unstoppable and that it was
able to model the Levant according to its wishes. Time has
changed many things since then, and events are not moving in Israelís favour.
If Israel remains stubborn and defiant, it will end up as the biggest loser.
If Israel keeps insisting on a military approach, a time will come when it
loses this upper hand. This would be to invite a new Holocaust.
No Arab in his/her right mind wants to "throw the Jews back into the sea".
That slogan is dead and buried. But if the state of war continues, no one can
guarantee the future.
Syria Is Not For Moslems
by Ghassan Kadi
To better understand the nature of the unrest in Syria, we can find a good
example looking at Palestine.
Arabs and Israelis have perfected the art of each claiming to be the rightful
and exclusive owner of the Holy Land. But when one adds a religious spin to a
national cause, things can get complicated and confusing.
The world has heard the Zionist rhetoric and claims too many times and there is
no point in repeating it them herein. That said, some argue that God’s promise
to Abraham was taken literally and out of context.
With or without the so-called promise to Abraham, Jewish presence in Palestine
is more ancient than that of Moslems, but that alone does not win the Zionist
argument and does not justify the displacement of Palestinians even if they have
“only” lived there for thirteen centuries in comparison to thirty centuries of
But let us briefly examine the Moslem claim of the ownership of Palestine from a
realistic non-Zionist vantagepoint. Are Moslems the rightful owners of
The Quran is a Holy Book and not a real estate title deed. There is no mention
of any land rights in the Quran. The city of Jerusalem (Al-Quds in Arabic) is
not even mentioned in the Quran. There is however a mention of “Al-Masjed Al-Aksa”
which Moslems believe to be in Jerusalem/Al-Quds.
This does not make Al-Quds inherently a Moslem city, and even if it did, there
is absolutely no reference to any Moslem exclusivity either.
Furthermore, there has never been a time in history in which there was an
Islamic state called Palestine with Al-Quds as its capital. If anything, Al-Quds
perhaps rose to prominence in the Moslem psyche following the Crusaders wars and
its fall under their reign which was followed by its triumphant recapture by
Salladin. If anything, in real terms, Al-Quds is perhaps a city where Moslem
religious romance flourishes.
Moslems need to admit this fact and stop making unfounded claims.
When Zionism established the state of Israel, the Zionist aggression was (and
continues to be) practised equally against both Arab Moslems and Christians. The
anti-Zionist resistance was the Arab Resistance, and it was comprised of both
Christians and Moslems. When Fateh was established, it was meant to be an armed
struggle for the liberation of Palestine. George Habash, the founder of the
Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) was a Christian.
Zionists regarded all Arabs as equally unequal to them, and when they were
pillaging the Church of Nativity recently, the West stood back and watched. It
would be easy to imagine the Western outcry had Al-Qaeda or the Talibans
committed a fraction of the Israeli atrocities at any Church.
As Israel treated both Christian and Moslem Palestinians as second grade
citizens, it was only natural for the anti-Israeli resistance to be
nationally-based and driven. The slogan of those days was “Al-Quds lil Arab” ie
Al-Quds belongs to Arabs. There was even a song with that title. The term Arabs
back then meant the inhabitants of the land; ie Moslems, Christians, as well as
Jews who refute Zionism.
Suddenly, sometime in the 1980’s, a huge turn of events took place in Lebanon
and Palestine almost at the same time.
The 1982 Israeli invasion of Lebanon was soon followed by a resistance then
named the “Lebanese Resistance”. Soon after Hezbollah rose to prominence the
name changed to “Islamic Resistance”. In Palestine, Hamas rebunked the
anti-Israeli resistance and turned into an Islamic resistance as well. All of a
sudden, the struggle against Zionism changed course from a national secular Arab
struggle against the theocratic state of Israel into a Moslem struggle against
Instead of rising above the narrow-minded bigoted Zionist views of land
ownership, fundamental Moslems unfortunately stooped to those levels and became
equal partners in bigotry and exclusionism.
The biggest losers here are the Palestinian Christians as they are well and
truly excluded by both. A Christian Palestinian friend once told me that Zionism
took Palestine away from him first, and then Hamas took it away again. That man
is a former Palestinian activist who decided to quit after Hamas hijacked the
nature of the struggle.
The truth must be said and heard. It will neither please the Zionist Jews nor
the fundamentalist Moslems. Even though Israel is the aggressor and instigator
of this whole needless tragic calamity, and even though Hamas and Hezbollah are
indeed freedom-fighting organizations and duly deserve the accolade and support,
ideologically speaking, and when it comes to the exclusion of Christians,
Zionism, Hamas and Hezbollah are equal partners in crime. It is true that
Hezbollah has a strategic alliance with General Aoun (a Christian) on internal
Lebanese politics, and this is a good thing, but Hezbollah will always call the
resistance against Israel the Islamic Resistance.
When Islamists make claims of ownership of Palestine in general and of Jerusalem
to be specific, they would be using the same false argument of Zionist Jews;
only in reverse. Two wrongs do not make it right.
Fair and open-minded people need to realise that they have to make loud and
clear statements to their policy makers that they refuse fanaticism and bigotry
irrespective who the culprit is.
This is neither about vindicating Zionists nor about vilifying Moslems and/or
defending Christians. This is about justice and common sense. Justice cannot be
selective and wrong cannot be undone by another wrong.
Palestine is not for Moslems, nor is it for Jews or Christians; not exclusively.
It is for all of them combined, and for all who want to live there in peace and
harmony with the rest of its inhabitants under laws that give equal rights and
equal responsibilities without any favouritism and exclusion.
Palestine, that Southern province of Greater Syria is not different from the
entire nation. Syria is not for Moslems any more than Palestine is.
Syria is the cradle of Christianity and houses the oldest churches in the world.
The tomb of John the Baptist (Known in Arabic as the Prophet Yahya peace be upon
him) is within the walls of the Grand Omayyad Mosque of Damascus.
Syria has always been, and will always be a religious mosaic, and none is above
the others, none an underdog.
The real Moslems of Syria do not want to establish a Sharia-based fundamentalist
Molsem regime in Syria, one that is akin to the Taliban regime.
In the true sense, if we push aside the superficial differences, it becomes easy
to realize that members of different groups that call for the establishment of
religious states have identical mental processes.
In as much as they hate each others, and in as much as they will eventually
fight one another, it was quite natural for them then to unite in their fight
against non-fundamentalism. It is this very freak situation that has put the
Salafists in the same trench as the so-called Labanese Forces (the ultra right
wing Lebanese Christian militia) in this so-called Syrian revolution. On a
slightly larger scale, this is also why the regimes in Saudi Arabia and Qatar
find in Israel a more logical ally than the national secular government of
The un-founded Moslem outcry in Palestine feeds and justifies the Jewish one
within Palestine. And nothing will bolster the victim-based Zionist claim and
continued request for further and more vicious Western/American support and a
more sophisticated arsenal of weaponry than the establishment of a
fundamentalist Sunni state in Syria.
This is what the battle for the freedom and independence of Syria is all about.
The Anti-Syrian Cocktail
by Ghassan Kadi
June 9, 2011
Prince Bandar Bin Sultan is the son of the Saudi crown prince, but he seems
to run his political life on the basis of having a state within a state. He is a
rogue prince, but with a flavor that suits the American agenda.
Just as America supported the rise of Bin Laden back in the eighties
because his rogue nature had an anti-Soviet flavor, the USA is now supporting
Prince Bandar because of his anti-Iranian flavor.
Bandar is in essence a Sunni fundamentalist from the Wahhabi sub-sect. His
sworn enemies are the Shiites for no reason other than sectarian prejudice.
He is terrified by the regional rise of Iran (a Shiite state). Many moderates
share those views, but Bandar is prepared to go to extremes in fighting the
rise of Iran. He found a good ally in Saad Hariri of Lebanon. Saad Hariri
accuses Syria of killing his father, Rafik Hariri, and is a sworn enemy of the
Shiite Lebanese Hezbollah.
Bandar and his ally Saad see more danger in Hezbollah and Iran than they see
in Israel. Syria, being an ally of Iran, thus becomes the natural enemy of Bandar
and is already the personal enemy of Saad.
It is important to note that the stands of Bandar and Saad are not based on
strategic political alliances and/or on principles. Rather, they are based on
mere sectarian bias and fanaticism.
Saad turns to home-grown fanatics to do his dirty work. He
has been personally responsible for funding and training two ultra-fundamentalist
Sunni groups in Lebanon: Fateh Al-Islam and the Salafists.
The former group (Fateh Al Islam) had to be quelled violently by the Lebanese
Army in the Palestinian Al-Bared camp north of Tripoli (Lebanon’s second largest
city). The battle was bitter and left the camp in total ruin. Thousands of
Palestinian refugees had to be relocated. Ironically, that battle took place in
2007, at a time when the Lebanese government was headed by Fouad Seniora (a Saad
What is more ironic is that the USA supported the Lebanese Army fighting the
very group it had helped establish. The Lebanese Army appealed to the USA for
assistance and America could not be seen to refuse this in the international arena, but at the same time it was under the blessing of the USA that the Sunni
fundamentalist alliance between Bandar Saad and Fateh Al Islam was forged.
Little is known about the fate of the Palestinian Shaker Al Absi, the leader
of that group. All that is known about him is that he is on the "wanted" list
and at large. However, Dai’i Al Islam Shahhal, the Tripoli-based leader of the
Salafists is Lebanese and he gets full support and cover from Saad Hariri.
The Salafists' main agenda is the destruction of Shiite Islam, but they
are an Al-Qaeda type organization in every respect. Yet they get the
blessing of the USA via the tiered Saad Hariri prince Bandar alliance.
As hard as it is to believe, but the USA is in fact supporting a Sunni
fundamentalist Al-Qaeda type organization in Lebanon.
Why would the USA do this? one may ask. The answer is very simple.
The USA ranks its enemies in reference to their threat to Israel; not to the
USA itself. So while America’s biggest current enemy is Al-Qaeda, Israel’s
biggest current enemy is Hezbollah.
Hezbollah gets its arms from Iran via Syria. Syria and Hezbollah are the
natural enemies of Sunni fundamentalists. If weakening Syria and Hezbollah means
having to forge an alliance with Al-Qaeda, then the USA will comply
as this serves Israel.
Whilst the USA is fighting against Taliban and Al-Qaeda in Afghanistan, and
NATO nations are losing young men and women in this war, the USA is in fact
engaged in supporting a subsidiary of Al-Qaeda in Lebanon.
The Prince of Qatar is playing a big role in the anti-Syria alliance.
Al-Jazeera (the prince’s pet news agency) is fuelling the uprising in Syria.
Syria needs reform, and President Basshar embarked on the journey of reform
soon after he took office. Admittedly, he did not manage to control the corrupt
old guards. That said, Syria has flourished and become a haven of peace,
security, and secularism.
Syria however has three groups of enemies. The Israeli-American alliance is
the natural enemy.
Within Syria, the fundamentalist Sunnis want to see an overthrow of the
secular regime. Their slogans are to kill the Alawites (the Shiite sub-sect to which
president Assad belongs) and to evict the Christians to Lebanon. Those groups
found allies in the Arab uprising. Under the guise of a democratic
movement, they are stirring up sectarian divisions and targeting Alawites.
Just outside the Syrian borders in Lebanon, there are many anti-Syrian
Lebanese groups. As if the freaky USA/Al-Qaeda alliance is not weird
enough, in Lebanon the fundamentalist Sunnis (Salafists) found a good ally in
the ultra rightwing Christian Lebanese fundamentalists (Lebanese Forces). What
unites them is their hatred for Syria.
If Assad falls, the USA/Israel alliance hopes to have him replaced by a
fragmented and weakened Syria. This is a possibility, but that alliance fails to
realize that some Syrians are now perhaps perplexed by what is happening, but
once they realize the enormity of the conspiracy, they will unite under Basshar
Assad or after his demise. They will not allow fragmentation.
The worst scenario for all involved, including the enemies of Syria, would be
if the country falls under the rule of Sunni fundamentalists. If this
happens, Syria will suffer greatly in the short term. But the biggest loser in
the short and long term will be Israel.
Anyone who finds it hard to believe that such strange alliances can exist
may go to
Lebanon or Syria to find out the hard way. Any person or organization supporting
the so-called Syrian revolution, believing that this is tantamount to
supporting freedom and democracy, should stop to have a second look. There is
much more to this than meets the eye.
The Anti-Syrian Vendetta
by Ghassan Kadi
Western backing of the so-called "Syrian revolution" is
hard to figure without a proper understanding of the recent history of the
Luckily, we only need to go back to 1982, the year Israel invaded Lebanon and
ousted the PLO from Lebanon.
Just prior to the 1982 invasion, Israel had secured its borders with both
Egypt and Jordan via peace treaties. The uneasy quiet on the Syrian front was
likely to stay that way because Syria is not capable
of launching a major conventional
attack on Israel. That status quo gave considerable security to Israel. But the thorn
in Israel’s backside was the presence of the PLO in Lebanon, and in South
Lebanon to be more specific.
By ousting the PLO, Israel believed that Lebanon could be made a subservient
country. Why not install a puppet regime? So the PLO was driven out, the Lebanese capital
Israeli control, and the pro-Israeli leader of the Lebanese Forces (Bashir Gemayel)
was elected to be president of Lebanon.
When Gemayel was assassinated by a member of the Syrian National Social Party
(a Lebanese political party that promotes the idea of Greater Syria), Israel
lost a powerful ally and a power broker. Under the presidency of his brother
Amin (who was elected a few days after the assassination of Bashir), the
Lebanese government was coerced to enter peace talks with Israel. A peace
agreement was reached on the 17th of May 1983, but Amin Gemayel did not ratify
it. He was undoubtedly worried that he would pay for it with his
It seemed however that it was only a question of time before Lebanon and Israel
signed a peace agreement.
During that period of time, the Syrian influence on Lebanese politics was reduced to
almost nothing despite the continued presence of Syrian forces in the part of
Lebanon that remained outside Israel’s control. The presence of Israeli forces
in virtually half of Lebanon together with the later presence of
American/French/Italian peace-keeping forces in Beirut, not to mention the
muscle power of the US Sixth Fleet and its pride and joy, the USS New Jersey, was more than
overwhelming. The very thought of resistance was unfathomable.
The situation was very desperate and virtually hopeless. How could Lebanon,
a small fragmented country, rise up and defeat the many enemies within and
And then from the ashes rose the Lebanese Resistance. With the support and
strategic genius and tenacity of Hafez Al-Assad, the Lebanese Resistance was
able to score a multitude of painful blows to the Western alliance.
To make a long story short, this culminated in an unprecedented defeat of
Israel. For the first time since its infamous inception, Israel had to retreat
from Lebanon. Never before had Israel given up Arab land without trading it for
something of value. Israel called its retreat a strategic withdrawal. It was in
fact a very humiliating defeat. This defeat of Israel was the biggest victory
Syria and Lebanon and the crown jewel of Hafez Al-Assad’s political career and
greatest achievement. He lived enough to see this victory, then passed away a few
Israel’s gamble in Lebanon failed abysmally. The PLO was replaced by a much
more potent and much better organized Hezbollah, and Syria was back in Lebanon
in greater force.
It was probably at this time that Israel and the USA decided to escalate
their plots against Syria. The young and inexperienced Basshar Al-Assad was
seen as an easier target than his seasoned father. Basshar was however not
scared of reform like his father was. He opened up Syria to the world and made
huge steps towards political and economic reform. No doubt, more needed to be
done. Basshar needed to clean up his camp and get rid of some "old-school" cronies.
This however is not the topic of this article. That said, the West needs to
realize that what it perceives as a perfect political system in democracy, does
not work everywhere; and needless to say America’s biggest allies and friends
in the Middle East are dictators.
When Bush was elected, he had around him an infamous circle of
neo-conservatives. These were a group of pro-Zionist fanatics. Perle, Wolfewitz and
Co. had one thing and one thing only in mind; to use the tenure of Bush to buy an
everlasting peace for Israel.
They had their eye on their strategic enemy: Syria. Attacking Syria however
was a difficult concept to sell to the world. They had to come up with a smarter
plan. They had to find an enemy that the world loves to hate. They found the
perfect one and the perfect excuse.
September 11 gave the infamous Bush alliance a good excuse to justify
escalating the rhetoric against Saddam. Furthermore, in Iraq, the alliance found
a good lure for oil-thirsty hyenas. The neo-cons rounded up the fanatics and
Cheney rounded up the scavengers. The war against Iraq became history.
Unlike what many people think, the invasion of Iraq was not about oil.
Oil was only the lubricant. America invaded Iraq to protect Israel.
But how does invading Iraq protect Israel even though Iraq and Israel do not
share any borders?
Destabilizing Iraq and removing the threat of Saddam’s scuds was seen as good
enough, but there was much more on America’s mind.
America was planning to use Iraq as a stepping stone to attack Syria and
In fact, soon after Bush’s arrogant declaration that his mission in Iraq has
been accomplished, America started to accuse Syria of trouble in the border
region of Iraq; just as planned. America was trying to show the world that it
could not control Iraq properly unless it controlled Syria. The same was planned
In its arrogance, the USA believed that it was mighty enough to attack and
occupy Iraq, Syria and Iran.
But just like Israel got bogged down in Lebanon a decade earlier, the USA
soon realized that controlling Iraq was not a possibility. Instead of turning
against Syria, the USA realized that it was already in a very deep mess that it
is still trying to get out of.
Syria took over one million Iraqi refugees and in doing so, it inadvertently
helped the resilience of Iraq. But even without this help, the USA and Israel
became increasingly uneasy with Syria and its growing strength in the area,
especially because it signed a strategic alliance with Iran.
The Assad legacy had outsmarted the American Israeli alliance twice by then.
Hezbollah has grown much stronger and its missiles reached deep into Israeli
territory in 2006. Never more before did Israel and the USA want to see Assad
Israel and the US are both aware that if Bashar Assad gets toppled he will
most likely be replaced by Sunni fundamentalists. As a matter of fact, the USA
has been sponsoring the Lebanese-based Sunni fundamentalists (Salafists) for
some years. The USA and Israel are prepared to take this risk and much prefer an
Al-Qaeda type regime in Syria to that of Assad.
At the end of the day, America will fight the Arab and Moslem worlds, create
enemies for itself, spend itself broke, and bend over and backwards, just to support
that illegitimate state of piracy that calls itself Israel.
The Western backing of the uprising in Syria is not one that is aimed for
reform as it alleges. America does not give a hoot about political freedom in
Syria. America and Israel have a score to settle with the Assad legacy and they
are capitalizing on the Arab revolt. Helped by their Saudi cronies, they are
finding new recruits, such as the Prince of Qatar.
The Prince of Qatar is another regional dictator who is a good friend of both
the USA and Israel. He hosted on Qatari soil the headquarters for the alliance
of the infamous invasion of Iraq.
Al-Jazeera, his pet news agency, is using all its influence to fuel violence in
Syria. For the Qatari Prince to think that his country is immune to an uprising
similar to that in Bahrain is laughable to say the least.
To America and Israel, this is the time to even up the scores with Basshar Al
Assad. To Basshar, it is a great moment of reckoning.
The Anti-Syrian Politics
by Ghassan Kadi
In this closing chapter of my series of articles, it must be emphasized that
the objective is not to defend Assad, but rather to explain some truths that are
related to the recent history that led to this moment in time.
Some comments focus on the future, but
we must study the past in order to put the benefit of hindsight into
In the not-too-distant past, Lebanon and Syria were fairly similar in most
respects. Lebanon is the mountain region of the Syrian coast. Its state borders
moved back and forth just like the borders of any other countries including
superpowers like France.
Historically, Lebanon housed a higher percentage of Christians than
Syria. Its mountainous terrain turned it into a refuge for Christians who feared
religious persecution. Christianity however is not alien to Syria. In Maaloola
and Sidnaya near Damascus, ancient Churches continue to make their prayers in
Aramaic; the spoken language of Christ. Damascus itself houses the grave of John
the Baptist inside its Grand Omayyad Mosque.
When the young Syrian and Lebanese states received their independence from
France in the 40s, there was little difference between the countries. When the
census was done earlier in 1932, some citizens were caught on the "wrong" side
of the borders and families were split as half Lebanese and half Syrians. This
included my family. Back then, no one seemed to care much.
The central bank for both states was the "Bank of Syria and Lebanon" and
Lebanese currency had that name on its notes until the mid 60’s.
The 50’s were a tumultuous time for Syria. It was a period of political
unrest and political assassinations. In 1958, Syria became a part of the United
Arab Republic when it united with Egypt under Nasser as president. On the 28th
of September 1960, a military coup ended the union with Egypt. That coup was
followed by a series of coups and it became almost impossible to keep track of
such developments until the Baath party finally took over by a military coup on
the 8th of March 1963.
The Baathist coup was followed by more turmoil and inter-party rivalry which
did not end until Hafez Al-Assad assumed power after the "Corrective Movement"
The turbulent 50’s continued into the 60’s where Syria experienced a very
tough time. The political unrest resulted in an exodus of wealth and
entrepreneurs. The natural recipient of that exodus was Lebanon. Even without
the Syrian influx, Lebanon was having its golden age. The Lebanese civil unrest
of the summer of 1958 was soon forgotten and Lebanon became known as Switzerland
of the East.
The Syria that Hafez Al-Assad inherited was poor and corrupt. It had little
infrastructure, under developed agriculture and industries, and to top it off,
it was in a state of war with Israel.
What contributed more to the Syrian/Lebanese schism was that Syria had an
autocratic political regime, and Lebanon was a tax haven with a political
system very close to a Western-style democracy.
As Lebanon was getting richer and more open to the world, Syria was getting
poorer and more closed up. Crossing the borders from Lebanon into Syria became
similar to crossing the borders from San Diego USA to Tijuana Mexico.
Nation-building was paramount on Assad’s agenda. For this to happen, very
strict austerity measures had to be put in place. And here is something that the
West cannot understand. To put such austerity measures into action, a leader
cannot be democratically elected. Democratically-elected leaders are not able to
implement severe measures without losing the next elections. The continuity of
strict nation-building projects demands either dictatorship or bipartisanism
which is virtually impossible to find in a place where party politics dictate
that anything can be used as a political weapon.
By the mid 70’s, Lebanon’s golden age was coming to an end. The Western-style
democracy soon turned into anarchy, and the country succumbed into a long and
bitter civil war that had a strong sectarian foundation.
In the 70’s, as Lebanon was breaking loose and as its people were adopting
the law of militia groups, the Syrians were ruled by an iron fist that did not
tolerate any sectarian divisions or any form of political freedom that would
mimic the neighboring chaotic Lebanon.
The wheel of fate started to turn the other way, and this time, it was in the
favour of Syria.
All the while Lebanese youths were going to get military training in
sectarian militia camps and were fed with sectarian prejudice, Syrian youths
were conscripted in the national secular army and given lessons in patriotism.
Whilst Lebanese militia groups were kidnapping, maiming, torturing and
killing other Lebanese on sectarian grounds, it became illegal in Syria to even
ask another citizen about his/her religion with a mandatory jail sentence in
The Lebanese citizen grew up believing that he/she can live his/her own way
under his/her own law. The Syrian citizen grew up knowing that there is law and
order and severe punishments would ensue if those laws are broken.
The Syrian regime gained its dictatorial notoriety by implementing very
strict rules of law and order, and while the one-party rule meant a continued
grab of power by the Baath Party, it also meant that Syria would not slump into
a Lebanese-style multi-party anarchy.
The Syrian Intelligence (Moukhabarat) became a very powerful organization.
Styled after the KGB, it did not leave any room for dissent.
In the late 70’s and early 80’s, the Syrian Moslem Brotherhood began to stir
anti-Assad passion among the Sunnis. They regarded Assad (an Alawite) as an
infidel. They ambushed and killed several top ranking Alawite military personnel
and Syria was about to follow the foot steps of Lebanon in its civil war.
Assad crushed the revolt ruthlessly. In an unprecedented move, the Syrian
army attacked the brotherhood in a mosque where the rebels thought they would be
Those rebels were not peaceful democracy campaigners. They were an armed
bunch of murderers with a fundamentalist Sunni agenda; similar to what is now
known as Al-Qaeda.
One of the biggest challenges that Hafez Al-Assad had to confront was his
homegrown corruption. His own brother, Rafaat Al-Assad, established a state
within a state. He was a corrupt officer surrounded by a bunch of thugs and
looters. Rafaat was eventually exiled to France where he could not cause any trouble.
Assad managed to rid himself of many of the corrupt officers and officials,
but he never was able to do this fully. Corruption is a universal "disease’ and
Syria is not immune.
Needless to say that the brutality of the Moukhabarat was invariably unjust
and many innocent people were incarcerated; some were allegedly never seen again.
Nevertheless, when Hafez Al-Assad died in 2000, Syria had been transformed.
The country became a safe haven, a secular model, and a politically stable
country with a growing economy and a good foundation in
terms of infrastructure.
When Basshar Al-Assad took over the presidency, he fast-tracked the process
of reform. The tough austerity measures of his father’s era had already paid
dividends and were eased. Imports were allowed to flow in as the economy was able
to afford them. The Internet and mobile phones became part of Syrian life. The
country prospered as private enterprise regained its position in the thriving
economy. And last but not least, some political freedom was allowed. Parties
such as the Lebanese-rooted Syrian National Socialist Party and the Communist
Party, to name two, were given the freedom to operate. The political freedom
that Basshar was not to tolerate was the one that had sectarian agendas and/or
would call for armed revolt.
Any person who denies that Basshar Al-Assad had embarked on the journey of
reform from the day he took office is either ill-informed, or deliberately
twisting the truth.
Ironically, the reforms that the West demands of Assad were
introduced, one at a time. They cannot be rushed in simply because this is what
the USA and France demand today.
If anything, France’s biggest promise to the peoples of Lebanon and Syria was
to keep them segregated. General Gouraud made this very clear after his troops
savagely massacred the outnumbered and ill-equipped Syrian army led by the
gallant Youself Al Azmeh in Maysaloun in 1920. This same French general is notoriously
renowned for stepping his foot on the tomb of Salladin in Damascus, saying "we
have returned". It was France that bombed Damascus and its famous Hamidiyye
Souk. For the French FM Alain Juppe to make claims today that France cares about
Syria and Syrian people is quite laughable.
Basshar’s biggest failing is that he did not do a housecleaning as his
father did. Basshar is surrounded by a large number of very good men and women
working with him to serve Syria. However, there are a handful of bad apples
around him that need to be plucked out. He knows well who they are and they
should be on his priority list after restoring peace and order in Syria.
Despite his failings and shortcomings, Basshar Al-Assad and the Assad legacy
have created a prosperous and stable Syria, introduced many political and
economic reforms, stood up domestically against sectarianism and
fundamentalism, and in the regional arena have stood up singlehandedly against
American/Israeli plots. Last but not least, the legacy secured the defeat of
Israel in Lebanon.
Basshar Al-Assad does not display any of the traits of a unpatriotic ruler
who accumulates wealth and lives an opulent life like Mubarak or Bin Ali of
Tunisia. Reports from people who know Assad consistently maintain that he is a
humble man. This is also evident in any of his official appearances. He has been
able to holiday and move freely around Syria with his family without the need of
protection and indeed live a very normal life. It is hard to believe that he is
not distressed at what is happening to his country.
Even if one would stretch a very long bow and assume that Assad is indeed
personally responsible for all of the recent bloodshed in Syria, any person with
good knowledge of Syria would reiterate that any replacement of Assad will very
likely lead to much more bloodshed. When this argument was put forward
by Mubarak it was indeed an act of scaremongering. The Muslim Brotherhood in
Egypt did not have a violent past like its Syrian counterpart.
If Assad goes down, Sunni fundamentalism is likely to replace a balanced
secular system, anarchy will replace stability, economic uncertainty will
replace growth, and there is no guarantee at all that democracy will ensue.
There is no valid argument for replacing Assad. Those who are making this
call are not offering any better alternatives. They are simply letting off steam
and seeking vengeance. How can this be better for Syria or the rest of the
world? Do the Arabs need a new Iraq? Does America need a new Afghanistan?
Letter to THT editor Mike Burch
by Ghassan Kadi
Hi Mike, In
the case of Egypt, there was no direct outside threat after having established
peace with Israel. The threat of the homegrown Moslem Brotherhood was rather
credible, and it probably still is. We don’t know yet how Egypt will pan out.
But if the Brotherhood tried to hijack the revolution, and they seem to be going
in that direction, it would then become very possible that the secular youths
who started the revolution will go down to the streets again demanding democracy.
In fact, they never left. There is a rolling revolution in Egypt. The youths are
very aware of the threats to their victory. They are always on guard reminding
the interim military government that they are still there.
Having said that, I
fully agree with you. Mubarak played the Brotherhood card to his advantage in
order to ensure the continuity of US support. Syria is quite different in many
ways. Historically, Syria is the region that encompasses what is now Syria,
Lebanon, Jordan and Palestine. It is the name of a region. A particular
political party (The Social Syrian National Party) has on its primary agenda the
unification of Greater Syria under Syrian nationhood. There is a lot to support
this theory, but irrespective of whether one wants to adopt it or not, when the
Ottoman Turks were replaced by French and British, the independent states that
eventually came out of this; i.e. Syria, Lebanon, and Jordan were soon taken by
the amazing tsunami generated by the creation of Israel. Not only were those
very young and vulnerable states almost defenseless and in a total state of
loss, total lack of infra structure, but they suddenly realized that they have
the whole UN plotting against them and condoning theft of their land, and that
they have a long protracted war ahead.
In a nutshell, Syria had been colonized
for nearly five centuries and then found itself independent after it had lost so
much territory and found a very hostile neighbor at its back door that was being
sponsored by the West under the blessing of the UN. Egypt did not have the same
experience. Palestine was not ripped out of Egypt and Egypt was neither
partitioned nor was it colonized for many centuries. So to answer your question
about what the rulers of Syria did to their citizens when there was no
external threat, in reality, there was no such time ever.
What added insult to
injury is the fact that in between Syrian independence in 1946 and 1963, there
has been at least ten military coups d’etat. When Hafez Assad took over in 1970
(with a coup d'ťtat known as the “corrective movement”), political stability in
Syria was at the lowest level possible. Mike, I never condone violence and
suppression, but when you have a state of total anarchy, you need a firm hand to
establish respect of the law. That same firmness did not exist in Lebanon and
Lebanon collapsed into civil war. Did the rulers of Syria go too far in
establishing peace and order? Yes, but Bashar has been easing off those
restrictions, one at a time. He was fearful that if he eased off to a level akin
to Western civil liberties in one hit, anarchy would ensue. People who are close
to Bashar and know him well have often said that his agenda of reform includes free
speech, political freedom, etc… As a matter of fact, many of those reforms
started to take effect long before the recent uprising. However, the old
Stalinist guards around him are blaming the uprising on the reforms done
already. They are telling Bashar that had he stuck to his father’s iron fist,
none of this would have happened. Bashar is at odds with his old guards as much
as he is at odds with his inner and close cronies. He wants to get rid of both,
but he cannot, not before he is able to establish the free political system he
wants to replace the current one with.
Those who know Syria well believe that he
needs another five years perhaps. His father Hafez had similar challenges, but
they were the challenges of his times. Hafez exiled his own brother Refaat who
was a big crony. Having seen how Syria had gone through this highly critical
intensive labour, and having seen how it progressed from a very underdeveloped,
impoverished and segregated society into one that is united, secular, developing
and prosperous in a matter of just forty years or so under the Assad legacy, and
knowing that Bashar is in essence a very good man and a visionary who only
needed some more time to get it right, I feel very devastated to see that the
Islamists are capitalizing on what happened in Egypt to take the revolution to
Syria under the guise of democracy when all they want is a Sunni Moslem state
under Sharia law.
It is ironic Mike how we bag Murdoch-type media and then
believe it. I have seen clear evidence that in the early days, scenes of killing
and mayhem were taken from Lebanon and Iraq and played on Al-Jazeera and other
TV stations under the claim that this was happening in Syria. Salafist snipers
on rooftops were killing protestors and blaming the army. The idea was to stir
up the Syrian public against Bashar, get more people on the street, cause more
killing, until the whole world rises against Bashar. I cannot see this
as anything other than crushing fanatics. It happened in America in Waco a bit more than a decade
ago. You cannot reason with such people. But the world is not allowing Bashar
to do the necessary cleanup. Instead, the world is using the same rhetoric and
short-sighted approach it used against Saddam.
Let me say it more bluntly. I am
not a fortune teller, but with my knowledge of the area and its politics, I can
make this statement with a high degree of confidence. There is absolutely no
chance at all that the current uprising in Syria will replace Bashar with a
better regime. If this uprising is victorious, it will lead to one or
more of the following:
1. Targeting those who supported Assad, which could mean
home invasions and massacres of whole families.
2. Sunni/Alawite civil war
3. Exodus of Syrian Christians to either Lebanon or the West.
4. Kurdish fears and
uprisings which may spread into Turkey, Iraq and Iran.
5. The ripple effect
reaching Lebanon, resulting in the resumption of civil war.
6. The establishment of a
fundamentalist Sunni state modeled on the Taliban in Afghanistan.
of Syria into Sunni, Alawite, and perhaps Druze and Kurdish small, weak and
I am not one of those who blame every wrong in the Arab world on
the West. Arabs need to accept responsibility and face up to the fact that
by and large, they gauge their political aspirations by tribal and sectarian
passions. Their current state of affair is not far different from that of
religious wartime Europe. I dare even say that most of the Arab world has not
earned democracy yet. Every nation needs to have its own French Revolution, one
way or the other. Tunisia and Egypt are on the way. Lebanon has its own peculiar
form of democracy, but sectarianism still thrives deep. Syria under Bashar was
moving in the right direction and was only a few steps away. If this revolution
succeeds, Syria will be blown right back into the doldrums of the middle ages.
Letter to THT editor Mike Burch
by Ghassan Kadi's wife
There is something very important for people to know: yes, each
country is different, but when we are talking about Lebanon and Syria they have
almost identical conditions on a socio-political level, etc
My husband told me about the critical periods he lived
through from 1975 onwards (i.e., sectarian warfare with outside
interferences, etc.) and what is in store for Syria if Israel and America have their
The Syrian regime has so much corruption. But the "rules" of the West in terms
of government do not apply in the Middle East, and to this date, no one but
Assad seems to have the ability to manage Syria and keep it stable. None of the
dissenters would have the ability to do this according to my husband's knowledge.
There are many different views amongst them and the strongest ones are the Sunni
fundamentalists who suddenly are armed.
The only way that America could gain by toppling Assad is
to create chaos (just as in Lebanon). A chaos of this sort wouldl weaken Syria's
resolve against Israel. However, this is very unlikely to happen.
America thinks it will benefit from the chaos, America and Israel have
always been shortsighted and all they can see now are big enemies called
Hizbollah and Iran, so all they want to do is to weaken the enemy. By toppling
Assad they think they can reach this objective. But if that happens the most
probable group to control Syria after Assad will be the Muslim Brotherhood. If
America wishes to see Syria governed by a Taliban-like group, then they will only
have to blame themselves for the consequences.
Syria is not Egypt, and the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt is not akin to the
Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt. The Egyptian MB is more of an ideological group.
The Syrian MB is a militarized fundamentalist group with a long history of
assassinations and brutality. They have a vendetta against those who promote a
secular Syria. They are akin to the Taliban and will make Assad look like Mother
Theresa. Whoever does not know this does not know the region.
Also, my husband did recall the US navy shelling of Lebanon in 1984. He became rather emotional
recalling it all, as his two toddlers (from his first marriage) had to be entertained
that night and he
was pretending it was thunder and lightning, but as the night went on the
children became alarmed because other people were screaming and hysterical. I will just
write his account below ...
My husband was living in West Beirut and was working nearby at the American
University of Beirut. He recollects that..."the US ships never got very close to
the area there because the area was considered anti-American. In the Phalangist
areas you could see them occasionally off the coast. There were a number of
ships but the USS New Jersey was the main one.
My husband, like everyone else
heard/felt/saw the shells coming from all over the place. Although they didn't see
the New Jersey they could hear the thundering of the shells coming from the ocean.
He said "...the USS New Jersey is a veteran warship and it has those
huge guns [the biggest naval guns afloat, capable of hurling 45-pound explosive
shells ten miles],
hence with a great capacity to do damage.
Camille Shamoun (at the time a
member of the Lebanese Front, the political wing of the Lebanese Forces, was complaining that the New Jersey wasn't
shelling enough and should be bombing the left-wing parties more seriously.
He said "...people weren't very concerned about the US doing this as they
knew that the US wouldn't dare land a foot in Beirut after their headquarters
('the Beirut Hilton') was destroyed by a suicide bomber and about 240 US marines
The biggest role that the New Jersey played was on 26 February
1984, when West Beirut was still considered to be under the government of Gemayel. On that day there was an uprising in West Beirut against Amin Gemayel.
On that day both Israel and the US realized they no longer could sustain a
puppet regime in Lebanon. The government army was pushed out and New Jersey was
basically supporting the Lebanense army by bombing several locations around
Beirut and the mountains. But their efforts were to no avail as the left- wing
militia was quickly able to take control of West Beirut.
My husband then became very emotional and continued "...the night of 26 February
was an awful night and families stayed in shelters...in the staircase of
basements, etc. There were shells falling all over the place from the
in East Beirut, the regular army in East Beirut and the US navy from the sea.
Children became terrified because as the long night went on it was impossible to
keep up the pretence that it was thunder and lightening and others who were
sheltering were screaming hysterically every time shrapnel hit the building."
I got a sense of this night when at the beginning of 2009 we had breakfast in
a very famous restaurant in West Beirut, a restaurant considered a hub and part
of everyone's memories and identity, the "Marrouche." It got bombed on that
night. An elderly waiter was there and my husband had a sense that he might have
been there on that night. My husband asked him and this was the answer" "...how
could I ever forget forget that night the New Jersey bombed us?" If my memory
serves me correctly, I think he mentioned a lot of casualties in the restaurant. as
often during bombings workers would stay overnight in their work place.
So, the revolt was successful and West Beirut was once again under the
control of the left-wing militia, but this time it was just Lebanese left-wing
militia and Amal, but not the PLO as they had already pulled out.
Sometime in September 1982, with the PLO kicked out, the Syrian military weak,
and Lebanese parties busy lining up to collaborate with Israel, Rashid Karame,
Suleiman Frangiye and Walid Jumblat formed a coalition to basically oppose the
US/Israel in Lebanon. Their efforts were considered by most to be totally
futile. But within a period of about a year there was a sudden reversal of
events which rendered Israel's plans useless.
To explain a little about the role of Syria in this time ..."Between the
years of 1980 and 1984, Hafiz Assad was able through his personal political
prowess and strategic abilities to bolster his position in Syria by eradicating
the Muslim Brotherhood in Syria, and when he had steadied his position in his
county, he was able to concentrate on putting an end to the American-sponsored
Israeli schemes for Lebanon. To this day, Syria plays a similar role. Now when America and
Israel look at Syria and what is happening to Bashar, they are
considering it "payback time" because they know they can not continue with
their plans as long as the "Assad Legacy" exists. They are
the "Arab Awakening" and the dissent in Syria against corruption"
something very unexpected and most opportune for them.
My husband looked up the Wikipedia article about the USS New Jersey and got very
cross. There was a photo of the ship shelling and the caption says that the New
Jersey "...opens fire on an enemy position off the coast of Beirut" (9/1/84). He
commented that the supposed role of the Americans was to protect Beirut and make
sure the Israelis didn't occupy Beirut again (Beirut was virtually defenseless
at the time) and to ensure the civilians were protected. So this comment about
an "enemy position" is a very curious one.
A Wake-Up Call to Supporters of the Syrian Uprising
by Ghassan Kadi
The Syrian uprising is taking a turn, one that is highly predictable and
foreseeable by those who know the history and politics of the area.
I have written a number of articles about this subject and they can all be
seen above. They are titled:
The Anti-Syrian Cocktail
The Anti-Syrian Vendetta
The Anti-Syrian Politics
I have received a number of comments about those articles. Some readers
discarded them completely and regarded them as pro-Assad propaganda, others have
endorsed them fully, and a third group of people considered them as being
It is information that is the objective here. People outside that part of the
world have a very little understanding of it. And invariably, this little
understanding can result in making uninformed views.
The main concern is that the genuine demands in Syria for liberalization and
democracy are getting hijacked by fundamentalists and their agenda. The other
concern is the uprising changing course and turning into a sectarian bloodbath.
In the above-mentioned articles, the concerns and the reasons
behind them are clearly elaborated.
Sadly, there has been a recent development in Lebanon which does not even
make it to the news. It is a development that clearly demonstrates that the
issues raised in those articles are not a figment of the writer's imagination.
There has been a military clash in Tripoli (the second largest city in
Lebanon) between the Salafists and the Alawites.
So once again, let us look at recent history and local politics to
understand how significant this escalation is.
Tripoli has been a secular city for centuries despite its Sunni majority.
Apart from Sunnis, it is home for Orthodox Christians, Maronite Christians, and
Alawites. Up till recently, it also had some Jewish population.
In the 1980's and during the Civil War, Tripoli fell under the control of
Sunni fundamentalists (Tawhid ). As a result, Tripoli turned into a city like
Kandahar under the Taliban and most of its Christian population fled. Even
though many fundamentalists were driven out of the city in 1984 by the Syrian
army, the city remained under the control of fundamentalism.
The Salafists do not regard Lebanese Alawites as Lebanese citiziens; they see
them as an extension of Basshar Assad (an Alawite himself) and are therefore
classified as enemy number one. They did not rise to prominence in Lebanon until
the Syrian army left in 2005. They needed a home base and headquarters. Tripoli
has a Sunni majority and its population has been accustomed to fundamentalist
control. With its location in North Lebanon, it is far from the
Hezbollah-controlled areas (which are in the south and south-west), and most of
all, it has been virtually the only city in Lebanon with an Alawite enclave that
can taunt and threaten Syria.
Since then, and despite the relative peace and quiet in the rest of Lebanon,
every time Hariri wanted to send a message to Assad, he asked his Salafist
henchmen to intimidate the Alawites in Tripoli. That highly impoverished section
of Tripoli became the pilot light that never goes out. Up till last week, the
last clash was in mid-2008 in response to the Hezbollah-Hariri stand-off and was
about internal Lebanese politics.
It goes without saying that the Salafists make themselves appear like the
victims. All they want to show the world (if the world is interested in
listening to them) is the devastation that the random shelling of the Alawites
is causing to the city. It does not take a genius to see that the Alwaite are a
tiny minority group that is virtually besieged from all corners and highly
outnumbered and outgunned. They cannot afford to intimidate, even if they wanted
to. Any intimidation would cost them very dearly.
Just a few days ago, there was an anti-Assad protest in Tripoli. The protest
took place in Bab Al-Tebbaneh, the Sunni area adjacent to Jabal Mohsen, which is
the Alawites area. The only possible reason for choosing this location is
intimidation. Tripoli is a fairly large city and the protesters could have
chosen another location that would not lead to such severe consequences.
In brief, the protest turned into a military escalation. The usual scenario
is that the Sunnis intimidate the Alawites, the intimidation escalates, it turns
into shelling, and eventually the Alawites defend themselves by randomly shelling
Sunni areas to force the fundamentalists into a ceasefire. This is exactly what
happened a few days ago. The clash left seven dead, including a child, and tens
wounded. "Future TV", owned and financed by Hariri, the Salafists' benefactor,
blamed the Alawites for starting the clash.
This incident is not only the result of the Syrian uprising, but also a
pretext of what fundamentalists are planning for Syria. It is not at all
surprising. It is further evidence that there is an element within the so-called
Syrian revolution with one agenda only: a sectarian agenda that is manned by
Sunni fundamentalists with an anti-Alawite program.
This agenda has nothing at all do with reform in Syria, nor does it have
anything to do with installing democracy, a multi-party system, freedom of
speech, and any of the other slogans that so easily buy the attention and support of the
A Message to Supporters of the Syrian Uprising
by Ghassan Kadi
In making this address, I am speaking to those people who are genuinely devoted to
supporting freedom movements, equality, and justice in every corner of the
world. I have little doubt that most people who are supporting
the Syrian uprising are fully and genuinely convinced that they are
serving a good cause.
When the little-known president of Tunisia (Bin Ali) was overthrown
in January 2011, the world looked with utter amazement at the quick and enormous
ripple effect that followed in Egypt. President Obama was speechless for quite
some time. He did not know what to do and whether or not he should support an
old friend or the revolution.
To Obama, Mubarak was a political ally, and hence an asset, but also a
dictator, and hence a liability, should the USA decide to walk the talk and
support the rise of democracy in the Arab/Moslem world.
For once, the West found itself in a huge conundrum because this sudden and
powerful revolt in Egypt was unprecedented and unplanned.
The quick demise of Mubarak was in America's favor. As soon as the US
realized that it was inevitable, it intensified its anti-Mubarak stand and the
rest is now history.
With the revolt in Libya, the USA had already found a precedent in Egypt and
decided to go with the flow straight away and without much delay; not out of
love and/or care for Libyans, but rather in an attempt to avoid embarrassment.
The uprising in Syria has all the obvious makings of a big revolt against
tyranny. Looked at simplistically from a distance, it has all the hallmarks of a
revolution that has been inspired by the earlier events in the Arab street. For
this reason, it is only normal and natural for the regular supporters of freedom
and justice to support the Syrian uprising.
The situation in Syria however has many if and buts and many twists and
turns. As a person who knows the history and politics of the area quite well, I
have genuine and serious concerns about what is happening in Syria, and I firmly
believe that most people outside do not have a proper understanding of the
complexity of the situation.
I genuinely fear that those who are supporting the Syrian uprising with
goodwill and good intentions are in fact supporting a movement that is totally
against their views of a better world.
Unfortunately, some people seem to make up their minds before they find out
what the full story is about. Some of them are prepared to learn and have the capacity to revisit their points of view and revise
Some, however, have fixed views and will never change them.
In an attempt to explain this situation and explain some truths that lie
beneath, I have written a number of articles explaining the situation to those
who genuinely want to discover the truth. There is no point repeating myself
herein. I invite those individuals to read my articles, and I would be more
than happy to provide further input and engage in discussions, if and when required.