Saturday, 23 January 2016

Dignity - Dani Qappani from Moadamiyeh

السالب والموجب من قلب المعضمية ... داني قباني .. رسالة صادقة مخلصة تاريخية . أرجو من كل سوري في المغتربات إرسالها إلى أصدقائه الأجانب .
Posted by ‎توفيق الحلاق‎ on Thursday, 21 January 2016

Friday, 22 January 2016

UN Accused Of Allowing Assad Regime To Censor Syria Aid Plan

  'The United Nations altered a key humanitarian aid plan for Syria after consultation with the Assad regime, including deleting references to “besieged” areas such as Madaya where thousands of people are starving. The edits include:

 The removal of all instances of the words “besieged” and “siege” in reference to areas where nearly half a million people in Syria are thought to be trapped.

 The redaction of any mention of a programme to remove landmines, unexploded bombs, and missiles.

 The removal of references to violations of international humanitarian law, such as aerial attacks on medical facilities and the targeting of civilian areas.

“These so-called colleagues of ours that are famed to have everyone’s best interests at heart took it upon themselves to make changes because of what the Syrian government had very obviously directed them to do. There were three or four personalities on the Damascus [UN] end that went to work on it right away. There was a lot of toning down of some of the language, they rewrote entire sections… it was a full filtering system basically and this is what caused the bilateral uproar.

“The document turned from a humanitarian aid document to a political document after the Syrian government changes, rather than centring on what the civilians really need,” said a coordinator from another NGO, who wished to remain anonymous to protect his relationship with the UN. “I totally understand that the UN should not take sides, but at least they should be on the side of the civilians.” '

Thursday, 21 January 2016

Secret Syria Network Saves Lives with Air Raid Warnings


 'In Syria's coastal Latakia province, Abu Mohammad sends a warning from his phone to a secret network of colleagues: "Caution: A Russian plane just took off in your direction." Moments later, activists in a rebel-held area in northwestern Syria sound warning sirens that prompt civilians to take cover before incoming air raids. The message, sent via the mobile application WhatsApp, is part of an effort by a network of civilian and rebel coordinators across Syria who call themselves "the monitors".

 From positions near government-held military airports, they use messaging services or walkie-talkies -- depending on Internet coverage -- to warn activists, medics, and rebels about incoming aerial attacks. "I know when the plane takes off, and as soon as it does, I tell people that a plane is coming towards them. As soon as the news reaches people, they either hide in their bomb shelters, or some people hide in underground tunnels."

 Even before the Russian campaign began, activists had begun trying to find ways to minimize casualties in air strikes. "When the regime began using warplanes and helicopters on cities, people started thinking of ways to warn civilians," activist Hassaan Abu Nuh told AFP via the Internet. "After a lot of attempts at other things, they decided in the end to hook walkie-talkies up to the loudspeakers in the minarets of mosques."

 Russia's role in the Syrian conflict has added a new challenge for the monitors, who say they have been able to decode intercepted messages in Russian. "After a while, the guys on the ground were able to break the Russians' communication code -- as well as monitor the planes by sound and sight," Abu Nuh says. "These warnings have saved the souls of many civilians... this is life or death for people in these areas." '

Doctor Hissam Saad: “We will start building a new, free Syria: a democratic, multi-ethnic, and multi-confessional country”


 'My name is Hissam Saad and I am 60 years old. I am a surgeon who before the revolution ran a medical practice for over 20 years. I am a husband and father of three children; my eldest son, Sarmad, served in the army before the revolution.

 When the Arab Spring broke, I, as a surgeon, could not stay away from it, becoming intensively involved in all areas of the revolutionary movement and participating in all rallies. Bashar Assad is a dictator; you probably know that he started shooting at people who gathered for rallies. Though I am a Christian, I went to the mosque where we all gathered before the rallies. All Syrian rallies come out of mosques: a mosque is not only a place of worship but also a meeting venue, a place where people of various religions can get together at a certain time and day; not only it is a place for Muslims or Christians but for all those who want to get together to stand up against a dictator.

 Soon after the revolution started, the Free Syrian Army was formed. At first, its fight against the despotic regime was met with support; over time, however, all of its supporters turned away from the FSA and now the Army gets no support at all.
 ISIL was created by command of the Syrian and Iraqi regimes to shift the agenda from social and economic issues and onto religious matters.
 Sarmad saw the regime’s troops do terrible things to protesters, shooting and killing them. Two of his army comrades who refused to shoot at protesters were executed at once. Sarmad had always been a free man loathing anger and aggression. When they killed his friends, he and 23 other soldiers left the regime’s army, moving from the southern part of Aleppo to its western part where the Free Syrian Army was stationed.
 After Sarmad left the army, the regime’s security service men came to my clinic to break everything there and threaten me. It happened 5 months after my son’s defection. But even after that I continued to work at the clinic, participating, as a free Syrian, in rallies, shooting and posting videos in social networks to let people know what was going on.
 On November 23, 2012, I was arrested at the clinic and taken to one of the security service departments, department 255, where they kept me for 7 months. Then they transferred me to department 285.
 They beat me. They beat me with a strap, kicked me with their boots, they beat me with everything they could. They broke my fingers. I am a surgeon and they broke all my fingers. They would lift me by my shoulder and leave me hanging like this for 3 hours. But the worst of all the torture I endured was cold (it was wintertime and I had no clothes on) and hunger: we were starving; they would not let us eat. They tortured me mentally threatening to rape my mother and daughter; they humiliated me as a human being and as a doctor. When they questioned me, I was standing before them stark naked, blindfolded, with my hands tied. It all lasted for 7 months.
 All this will end if the whole world continues its pressure and starts using all available means to stop the dictator, the murderer.
 Even if the regime succeeds in making Syria fall apart into several states, this will mean nothing: we will continue to fight no matter what. We’ll fight for a hundred years if we have to. Syria must be one country. After Assad goes, we will start building a new, free Syria: a democratic, multi-ethnic, and multi-confessional country.'

Yassin al-Haj Saleh: “Syria is a unique symbol of injustice, apathy and amnesia”

صوري 1

 'I am impressed by many people from many European countries, mostly individual volunteers. Their generosity, courage and humanity dignify the human race. I was touched by a message from a Norwegian woman who was in Lesbos helping refugees. As for governments, while it is not fair to include all of them in one category – Germany is not like Hungary, Sweden is not Denmark – I think they are unified in building higher walls in the face of the influx of refugees, specifically the poorest and most vulnerable ones.

 The global powers have so far been putting the cart before the horse by targeting Da’esh only, ignoring the root cause of the militarisation, radicalisation, and sectarianisation that has occurred over the past five years, namely the Assad regime. This is a short-sighted and failing policy, not to mention unethical. It is a prescription for an endless war.

 By the way, I think this enchantment with Da’esh that began in the summer of 2013 has deep connections with the sordid chemical deal between the US and Russia, which practically informed the Assad regime that it was okay to kill people with other tools, not with the one we had forbidden. The mainstream media was obedient in highlighting whatever Da’esh did and sidelining the crimes of the regime in order to legitimise that despicable deal between the two big global keepers of the peace (read: war). Da’eshmania is a way of suppressing the shame of that deal. Media and power elites want the masses to remain mesmerised, with their minds fixated on those exotic decapitators, who are absolutely different from us and our dear masses.
 I want to add one additional thing concerning this fascination with Da’esh. I suspect that the mad extent of killing and control that Da’esh is practising in the regions it occupies is the level the power elites in the “civilized world” aspire to imitate. That violence has an essential virtue: it pushes past the limits of what can be done to the population at home, giving the power elites everywhere a sense of mastery and freedom. If this can be done there, it will be possible here someday. Da’esh is the laboratory test the elites like to peep at and hope to imitate someday. It is their utopia and our dystopia. That is why the population in the West should be anxious of what has been happening in Syria for the past five years. Do not defend us, defend yourselves!
 Turkey’s record is mixed: it welcomed around 2.5 million refugees. Our situation here is acceptable and, so far, Tukey has had a consistent position towards the Shabeeha regime in Syria, but it caused a lot of trouble because of it is irrational and unjust concerns about the Kurds on both sides of the border. France’s position was mostly a consistent one, too. Both countries were clear all the time that the culprit is the regime and it should be overthrown and they tried to act accordingly, but were kept back by the United States. Washington has been the worst enemy of the Syrian revolution, worse even than Russia, which was a clear enemy from the first moment, along with Iran and the latter’s satellites in Lebanon and Iraq. I am not an essentialist anti-imperialist who thinks that imperialism is an essence hidden somewhere in the US, maybe at the White House, the Pentagon, or the CIA, but I tried hard to locate any positive elements in the Syrian policy of Obama’s administration in Syria. The world at large has become a worse place, especially after the chemical deal which was a big gift to Da’esh and al-Nusra Front (and, of course, to Assad), than it was before.
 As for internal players: I think one can identify obscurantism as the position of saying that there are no “good guys” in the Syrian conflict; they are all bad. I see this as an essentialist, Da’esh-like way of approaching our cause. I do not imply that there are no bad guys, there are many; neither do I want to say that there are many good guys, which is of course true, unless one is Robert Fisk, Patrick Cockburn, or Vladimir Putin. Rather, I want to make a paradigm shift from that reactionary distribution of labels of good and bad, to the actual dynamics of the struggle. I alluded before to the chemical massacre in which 1,466 Syrians were killed at the hand of the Assad regime, and to the chemical deal between the Americans, Russians and the regime. What was that deal? There were four actors, not three, at the time: the regime, the Americans, the Russians and millions of Syrians who had been resisting the thuggish regime for more than two years and four months, peacefully at the beginning then with arms. The regime gained not only its survival from that sordid deal but also impunity; the Russians managed to save a client regime and won a greater recognised role in the region and the world, while America (and from behind the scenes, Israel) succeeded in disarming the regime of the dangerous weapons that were thought of being deterrent to Israel. The party that was completely sacrificed is the one who had just lost 1,466 people in one hour: the rebellious Syrians. That is why that deal was despicable and its “heroes”, especially the one named Barak Obama, were extremely villainous.
 Due the regime’s brutality and the baseness of the big egos of the globe, a dynamic of radicalisation, Islamisation and militarisation, was triggered and changed everybody in the country, myself included. In September 2015, I was in Oslo for a few days, where I appeared on a TV programme. Before this show, the presenter asked me, if I was “moderate”. No, I am not, I replied. She was alarmed, but she wanted to be sure: “But you are secular, aren’t you?” For the discursive habits in the West, ‘moderate’ implies that siding with us (“We are the centre of the world.”) and “good” are synonyms. You are “extremist” and “bad” whenever you side with your own people.
 Of course, I am bad.'

As Syrian men go missing, women take new leadership roles, and bear new burdens


 'They survive shelling and barrel bombs from the Syrian government and, more recently, airstrikes from Russia. Some have been living under siege with little food and hardly any medicine or electricity for almost four years. With so many men killed or missing, it’s up to the women to run their community, and they’re making a difference in people’s lives, including their own.

 Like 25-year-old Zein, who refuses to leave Aleppo despite the daily shelling. She recalls the time when the peaceful uprising started to turn violent, and a shortage of trained medical staff compelled her and fellow activists to volunteer at their local field hospital.

 A few months ago, the Syrian government carried out an airstrike on the field hospital, and several of Zein’s activist friends were killed. Now she spends most of her time doing humanitarian relief work, and she leads an all-male team of aid workers as they distribute food and medicine to families in the area.

 “I’m usually the one who goes up to the front line despite the snipers and fire fighting in order to deliver a basket of goods to some family stranded there. The guys are too jittery to do it, and they’re amazed when I do,” she said, referring to the team she leads.

 “Before the war, women mainly stayed at home, cooking and caring for the family. But now, men work in a field hospital? Well so do I. Men have started to carry arms? Well, we have here in Aleppo an all-women’s brigade, and they fight on the front line. I’m not necessarily for the idea of carrying arms, but this has really changed perceptions. That a woman can do anything a man can do.”

 Maimona is a 30-year-old activist. She heads a child welfare organization called Herras, Arabic for guardianship, and oversees schools that are struggling to stay open. She describes women in their thirties, forties, even older, enrolling in adult education to earn their high school diploma.

 Many of these women have gone on to work in field hospitals or schools — Maimona estimates that 80 percent of the people working in those places now are women.

 “Perhaps this is a silver lining. When we started the Syrian revolution, it was also a revolution for women. And when the war is over, women’s accomplishments will remain.” '

Why Is It So Difficult for Syrian Refugees to Get Into the U.S.?

 'The al-Haj Ali family comes from Khirbet Ghazaleh, a town of 16,000. It is 15 miles from Daraa, where the revolution against Assad began, in 2011, after his security forces arrested and tortured a group of students for writing antigovernment slogans.

 The al-Haj Ali twins were only 13 at the time. They had nothing to do with the protests. Nor did anyone else in the immediate family. Although they listened to news reports of the Assad government’s ferocious attacks on civilians, they saw little indication, at first, of the violence around them. There was the odd black helicopter in the sky. And once, when Waseem was taking Azizeh to driving school, they watched a group of protesters carrying olive branches stream out of Daraa. Only later did they realize these were people fleeing a massacre by Assad’s forces.

 Then the airstrikes began. Government security forces raided the family’s home dozens of times. Their cousins, who lived next door, were imprisoned and tortured. Still, the al-Haj Alis hung on; they adapted to living in a war zone, spending evenings in the dark. Then, one morning in August 2012, they learned from a television news report that Azizeh’s brother, a high-ranking official in Assad’s military, had defected overnight to Jordan. His family would most likely be punished, with death, in his stead. He hadn’t warned them. He couldn’t: His phone was bugged, and sending a message would only have further endangered them. The al-Haj Alis never slept at home again. Within days, they left Syria for Jordan by car. Azizeh feared they’d be unable to make it across the border and was even more terrified that the names of her family members would be on a blacklist and that they would be arrested. Mahmoud handed their keys to a neighbor whose house had been flattened by airstrikes. ‘‘If we’re not back by sunset,’’ he told her, ‘‘you can have our house.’’

 If Ahmad and Mohamed had stayed in Syria, they might be dead by now — either killed by the Assad government’s barrel bombs or fallen among the young men who have joined up with the Free Syrian Army. When one of their friends or cousins fighting with the F.S.A. is killed, the boys study the photographs of his death, often posted on Facebook in tribute, with a mixture of envy and guilt.'

Wednesday, 20 January 2016



 'Women in the city of Deir Ezzor have supported the Syrian revolution in various ways since its beginning. During the early stages of the revolution, women held active roles, including those that were viewed as exclusively male-dominated, such as carrying weapons in the armed opposition.

 In March 2011, the first demonstrations calling for the Syrian regime’s ouster took place in Deir Ezzor. Women started to join the protests alongside men early on. By the summer, women had a significant presence in the protests.

 “When the armed revolution started in Deir Ezzor and the opposition brigades took over the city’s central neighborhoods, the regime tried to retake the city but failed,” she said. “Without warning, it started brutally bombarding those neighborhoods. The attacks forced the residents to leave their homes and migrate to other cities.
 “Work then became limited to carrying weapons to fight the regime or working in field hospitals,” she continued. “Because of that, women’s presence was limited. However, some women carried weapons briefly during the Republican Guards’ campaign to stop the protests. One well-known woman was a nurse known as Um al-Thuwar [Mother of the Protesters], because the youth of the Free Syrian Army (FSA) considered her their mother.’’
 In January 2013, after the regime siege had lasted several months, the armed opposition freed the al-Huweqa neighborhood’s eastern entrance and used it to transfer supplies in and out of the city. This marked the end of the siege and the beginning of what the city’s residents call the “period of freedom.”
 During this period, women had the freedom to work in other fields as well. For example, the rights organization al-Mar’a wa al-Tifl Hayat was established in June 2013 in Deir Ezzor’s al-Ummal neighborhood.
 In an interview in Urfa, Turkey, Baida’a al-Hassan, the organization’s director, explained, “Our activities focused on raising awareness of women’s rights. We held seminars in our center and visited women in their homes. The organization also started two training centers. At the first we taught sewing and at the second, called Ahla Talla, we taught hairstyling.
 “The purpose behind these centers was to teach uneducated women professions so that they would be able to support themselves,” al-Hassan continued. “Additionally, the organization established the Shaady Rabbah School in al-Hamediya area and the al-Amal Kindergarten in al-Ummal. Through these two schools, we managed to secure jobs for many unmarried women.”
 “On July 14, 2014, ISIS seized a neighborhood in Deir Ezzor city and shut down all the civil society organizations, including ours, and confiscated our organization’s equipment. We stopped operating for two months,” Heba said.
 “However, the extremist group and its horrible treatment of civilians would not stop us from working,” she continued. “We decided to go back to our activities, but with a new approach. We used to hold public seminars, but today we hold them secretly inside homes with a limited number of attendees. We cannot assemble large groups of women because the whole operation might get discovered.”
 Heba emphasized that one of most important issues discussed during these seminars is how women can change their behavior to protect themselves from ISIS. Another topic is how to turn away an ISIS “suitor” if he proposes to a woman. That matter has been, and still is, a danger to women of Deir Ezzor.'

Russia Is Bombing Syria’s Children — These Are Their Stories

 'Abdel Rahman was standing outside his family home in the tiny Syrian village of Marayan on a November afternoon when the Russian rocket hit, knocking him to the ground. He felt fine when he came to moments later, he said, and tried to get up. That’s when he realized both his legs had been blown off. “I looked up and my brother was screaming, but I lost consciousness,” he recalled.
 About a month later, Thaer was gathering firewood when another Russian missile hit. He struggled to get up, but couldn’t. His father, Abdel Jalil al-Zein, first took his son to a local doctor, who stuck needles in his toe. There was no response. He loaded him into his car and drove him to the field hospital along the Turkish border, and when medical personnel there couldn’t help his son either, he obtained the permissions to cross into Turkey. Doctors eventually found a piece of shrapnel lodged in his spine. It has paralyzed him from the waist down, probably for life.
 The two teenagers still hang out, but now they are permanently disfigured. They lie in the sitting room of a rented apartment in the Turkish town of Reyhanli, where they now live. Al-Zein lies on the bed with a catheter running from him, and Rahmoun lies on a mat a few feet away — one a double amputee, the other a paraplegic.
 “I know that God will eventually give us our rights,” said al-Zein.
 Two hours before Ahmed Zaki Assi, a spokesperson for the Islamist rebel group Ahrar al-Sham, spoke to BuzzFeed News, Russian forces strafed his group’s positions in Maraat Numan, near where he was speaking from in Idlib province. The war has gotten tougher, he acknowledged, but it remains better than the situation in 2011, when Assad’s forces could open fire on peaceful protesters without consequence, or in 2013 when Iran and Hezbollah first entered the war in support of Assad.
 “We’ve had harder conditions before,” he said, speaking via Skype. “The revolution is weakened because of this, but it’s not going to be ended by the Russian raids or others. On the ground, the revolutionaries advance. But the weapon that we can’t respond to is airpower. We cannot address airpower with our rockets.”
 Mohammed Katoub was teaching the doctors and nurses about sexual violence against women when the Russian airstrikes began. A missile landed 400 meters away from the clinic, one of more than 100 care points and medical centers operated by the organization inside Syria. “I was explaining the difference between rape and sexual assault,” he remembers. “We ran into the streets because it is much safer than inside a facility.”
 Zakaria Ibrahim, 26, an anesthetist at a gynecology clinic in Azaz, was working when a Russian missile struck within 10 meters of the facility, setting parts of it on fire. “Now the hospital is closed,” he said, as he waits for a lift home near the Turkish border after finishing a rotation.
 “The idea is to weaken the civilians to make those living under the opposition areas feel life is hell,” he said. “By targeting bakeries, schools, and hospitals, you make people lose all hope.” '