The HyperTexts

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 East.

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 people.

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 Israeli racism.

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 and courts?

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 legacy alive.

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 Palestinians.

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 Germany.

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 conflict.

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 all.

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 Jewish presence.

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 Palestine?

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 Jews.

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 Syria.

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 Hariri man).

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 long 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 region.

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 came under 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 own blood.

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 without?

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 for 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 weeks later.

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 Iran.

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 for Iran.

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 fall.

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 practice.

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" in 1970.

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 place.

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 safe.

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 already being 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.
7. Partition of Syria into Sunni, Alawite, and perhaps Druze and Kurdish small, weak and warring states.

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 way.

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 were killed."

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 Phalangists 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 capitalizing on 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 informative.

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 West.

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 them. 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.

The HyperTexts