Congress Of The United States, American People.

Posted on September 20, 2014

by Jerry Alatalo

cumberland 1-1Why would President of the United States Barack Obama ask the United States Congress for $500,000,000 to train and arm men to overthrow Syria’s Bashar al-Assad, who was re-elected for a third term by Syrians in July with 88.7% of the vote? Perhaps others reading this who’ve wondered the same thing are interested in hearing President Assad’s 40-minute swearing-in speech for a possible answer. It would be interesting to know which elected representatives in the US Congress and Senate made the effort to listen to Assad’s speech before voting on the $half-billion package for anti-Syrian “moderate” rebels.

The purpose of posting this information is in hopes of developing increased understanding of the causes for conflict and disagreement in Syria, Iraq, Israel-Palestine, and the volatile, energy-rich Middle East region. Perhaps a greater understanding will be beneficial in that dialogue and political agreement become seen as the preferable option over military operations. This post is neutral, meaning it is not concerned with convincing any man or woman that one “side” is right while the other “side” is wrong. Humanity is one family – there is only one “side” – and any act of violence directed toward others is in actuality an attack on the family of man.

This effort has set goals on first, minimizing to the greatest extent the potential for violence. Second, clearing up to the greatest extent any existing misinterpretations, misunderstandings, intentional or unintentional omissions and/or deceptions, while concentrating on building as solid as possible basis/foundation of truth of circumstances in the Middle East at this time. And third, maximizing the understanding or philosophical recognition/awareness that choosing the war/killing option is unwise, destructive, and too often chosen without the fullest, most complete range of factual information.

Finally, the major intent here is to advocate strongly – to the American people and the United States Congress – for the idea that choosing the military option only becomes justifiably exercised in situations of genuine self-defense, after:

Inviting all concerned, affected persons

Examining all facts and viewpoints, and

Engagement in extensive discussion and debate of the highest moral and ethical nature

A large segment of Bashar al-Assad’s speech can be read here, then the video of the entire address.

“…after the true face was uncovered, the killing, the destruction, the eating of hearts and livers, and the beheadings. They tried all ugly means, they tried all ugly ways, they pursued all different ways, but they failed. They failed… All previous battles were for the sake of winning this confrontation. Regarding the enmity toward the nation, they were waiting for this stage in order to take away the legitimacy. To show the Syrian people as a weak people who were not able to rule themselves, in order to create justifications for foreign interventions under false pretexts”.

“From our perspective as citizens, the elections were a declaration of real affiliation with the state, which is above affiliation with identity or affiliation with a passport. The election was our battle to defend sovereignty, legitimacy, and national decision-making and the dignity of the people. And the huge participation was a referendum in favor of sovereignty against terrorism in all its forms. It wasn’t important for many people who would win. What was important was the elections, and you with your votes, you defeated the terrorists”.

“And you also defeated the Syrian spies who provided a cover, a political cover for the terrorists. And you also defeated those people who are behind this plot, superpowers and others who work with those superpowers, officials and decision-makers who dictate. Syrian refugees, who also had their say, and who surprised the whole world, and showed the real Syrian picture of Syrians holding on to their decision-making, and holding on to their sovereignty. The situation, the difficult situation, did not prevent them from participating in this election”.

“They went out in the streets, participated in these elections. Some of them went out although they were suffering physically and mentally. Others also risked their future, despite the fact that they need, and others confronted threats, threats which were timed to prevent them from participating. The Syrians chose their candidate and put their papers in the box. This simple step showed that the Syrians realize that it was not just elections; it was defense of the unity of the state and its sovereignty and its dignity”.

“And this is what made them prevent elections being held in some of the countries, some Arab countries and other countries. This was the stance of the West. How can they say they are defending people who they prevent from electing (voting), when they believe such steps are against their interests. But we thank them, for by their ignorance they have increased the enthusiasm of the Syrians, instead of decreasing this enthusiasm”.

“The Syrians declared by these elections that they are Syrians from the bottom of their hearts. And they also proved what we said at the beginning. The main reason behind the Syrians leaving the country is the terrorism of the armed groups and their brutality. So how can any sane person believe that someone whose state has assaulted them and who left the oppression of the state, how can you believe such a person would stand with the state with this enthusiasm as we saw from the refugees and the displaced in the elections?”

“How can a citizen who hates his state, as some people assume, how can such a person be capable of being such a difference? The elections, the presidential elections for many Syrians, was like a bullet – a bullet where they were firing on the chests of the terrorists and those who support them. Thousands of bullets were fired and hit their targets, and stood in the ballot box”.

“A lot of invasions, ever since the beginning of history, thousands of years – after the French colonialists left less than seven decades ago, Syria is still alive and capable, and no more do we want to be a people who surrender. This leads only to the verge of collapse, the abyss. And many of those people put down their arms with the framework of teachings in their religious institutions”.

“… On the other hand, what about the millions of honorable people, those who work in the public sector and also outside the public sector; hundreds of thousands of young men and women who decided to take up arms and be martyred in defense of the state? What about those civilians who decided to continue with their national duty despite the threats, and the families who stood with steadfastness and stayed in the country despite the very harsh circumstances? What about all of those people; all those people did not do this because they received orders, or because of directives from above”.

“They did this because they were raised well, and this led to such honorable people in society. This fundamental part of raising the children, this is what makes the civilian abide by the law by conviction – not because he’s afraid of punishment. And those who work in the public service are serving the citizen because they want to – not because they want to gain personal benefits. And this makes people realize that he who is stealing is stealing from one person or a few people but, when he doesn’t pay taxes, he’s stealing from millions of people”.

“This is what leads people to help their fellow citizens, and it prevents others also from being transformed into mercenaries who are used against the nation when any conspiring side wants to use them. And this is what makes all of the steps which the state will take much more deeply effective. So, let the fight against corruption be our priority in the upcoming era in the state institutions and the society as a whole. Let us put it out as a priority – not just in front of the officials – but a priority for all of us as individuals, so that every one of us, when we even mention fighting corruption, let him then go and work truly to fight corruption in order to uproot it”.

“Ladies and gentlemen, the countries who stand behind terrorism in Syria tried to destroy all forms of life in the country. So, at the same time where we had the killings which targeted all different Syrians from all walks of life, without any differences, we saw the destruction of infrastructure which was built for decades with the blood and sweat of generations of Syria. This targeting of infrastructure was continuing systematically. There is no doubt that this destruction against the state, it targeted every individual, especially when it comes to their life”.

“And this increased the challenges and concerns; and it also led to the issue of the problem of the people. The property of the people. The life of the people, the ongoing attacks on the oil fields. The oil fields are one of the most important sources of finance for the state. Also, the attacks on the gas fields, which provide electricity. The attacks which took place against the electric power stations; the attacks against the electric networks which provide electricity for the provinces. This led to electricity being cut off and led to only a few hours of electricity being provided on a daily basis”.

“Tourism, which flourished in Syria, and which was also an important source of income for the state and the citizens, whether it be inside or outside; we can say that now tourism income is just about zero. The circumstances which we witnessed in the state, the change of priorities of the state, this showed a lot of people who don’t have conscience and this led them, led such people to abandon, to not pay their bills, to pay their taxes. All of the problems have piled up to lead to a very difficult economic situation which is being felt by every single Syrian”.

“And because the biggest destruction against the economy was the financial economy, in order to heal this problem we must begin by focusing on retrieving the structure, the buildings, the factories, the roads, the infrastructure and also other places which were destroyed. This sector is the very widespread sector which includes, its benefits include, all people, all walks of life in Syria and has a positive impact on the other economic sectors, which will not be healthy, once again, without reconstruction”.

“Let us all begin, hand with hand, to rebuild Syria; to be in favor of reconstruction, not destruction. And, as we have proven for the past three years, let us prove that the will of the Syrians is many times stronger than the will of the terrorists. Brothers and sisters, on this day, we are heading towards a new phase. What distinguishes this phase, what distinguishes this phase is consensus on protecting the country and reconstruction, rebuilding the country technically and financially as well. What distinguishes this period is that there is consensus on eliminating terrorism and also bringing people back to the right path”.

“At the time when we look towards the future, we are in need of addressing the problems, the bigger problems of the state. And this requires our joint efforts standing shoulder to shoulder in the upcoming period; this means a relationship between the leadership and the people. Leadership doesn’t mean the people are cancelled out, and their opinions aren’t taken into consideration. And it also doesn’t mean relying only on the leadership, drawing fully on the individuals of the leadership. There must be a reactionary relationship, meaning we go together towards a future – if we really want to succeed”.

“So, from here we hold the term responsibility, for all of us as individuals; together we will build Syria and rebuild what was destroyed, and that we will continue striking terrorism and going ahead with local reconciliations in all areas, in order for no Syrian to remain outside or in refugee camps”.

“Our perseverance prevented the so-called Arab Spring from succeeding. It led to the death of this, but there is no need to extend our condolences. If this spring was real spring, then it would have begun in the backward countries; the backward Arab countries. If the revolutions of the people aimed to get democracy and justice, then it would have begun with the most backward countries; the most oppressive countries. Those countries who were behind all of the hardships, all of the difficulties; behind all of the wars; behind the inappropriate thinking; behind the problems which we witnessed”.

“These countries were the main reason behind Israel’s success and its continued presence. What proves this is their current stance towards the Israeli assault on Gaza. Where is their sympathy which they show towards Syria or the Syrian people, as they alleged? Why don’t they support Gaza with money and weapons, where are their mujahideen? Why didn’t they send the mujahideen to defend our people in Palestine? In order to know the answer, we must realize that what is taking place in Gaza today, brothers and sisters, is not separate – is not isolated”.

“Ever since the occupation of Palestine, up until the invasion of Iraq and dividing Sudan, and the attempts to divide Iraq which are taking place today – all this represents one complete chain which is planned by Israel and the West. This is something basic, but the implementation is being carried out by the oppressive, backward countries in the Arab world. …These countries, aren’t they the ones who incited the West and Israel in order to wage the 1967 war which we are still paying the price for, in order to eliminate the Gamal Nasser trend that was posing a threat to their thrones at that time?”

“These countries, weren’t they the countries who supported Iran during the reign of the Shah, and when the Iranian government decided to become, after the revolution, in support of the Palestinian cause, in support of the Palestinian people, and change the Israeli Embassy to the Palestinian Embassy – weren’t these countries, weren’t they the ones who turned against Iran because Iran took these steps? Didn’t those countries support the crimes of the Muslim Brotherhood or the Devil Brotherhood in Syria in the 70’s and 80’s, against Syria, against the people and the state, the state which didn’t do anything to the countries?”

“These countries are the ones who gave a peace initiative in 1981 and there was a threat: ‘If you don’t accept there will be bloodshed; a lot of blood will be spilled’. And when the Palestinians refused, after one year, we saw the Israeli invasion of Lebanon. And after that we saw the PLO leaving Lebanon. Not because they care for the civility of Lebanon, but because they care for Israel. These countries, they themselves, they surprised us in 2002 with an initiative which includes three words: ‘Normalization In Exchange For Peace’. It was announced a peace initiative in Beirut 2002. It was amended and Sharon responded, the Israeli Sharon responded, ‘It’s not worth the paper which it was written on’. And he then waged a war and hundreds of Palestinian martyrs fell…”

“And when Israel assaulted Lebanon, or when Israel waged its aggression against Lebanon in July of 2006, those countries said that those people were adventurers, and they began to put pressure on the West and Israel in order for there not to be a ceasefire  before the Lebanese resistance is destroyed. Because these countries succeeded in their missions, they were assigned with the mission of spreading tales under the title of the Arab Spring, and the Arab League leadership, after it gave its role to other Arab countries, the role of the Arab League began to be calling on NATO and imposing a siege on the Arab countries who do not obey dictations”.

“All of these events, and the other events, which might be less or more important – I’m giving you only examples, of course – all of these events are connected to one another. For the sake of achieving one goal. In order to eliminate the Palestinian cause. And all the money paid by those countries since their founding was to achieve this goal. And here they are in today in Gaza; they are playing the same role which they played in Syria. In Gaza via the Israeli terrorism, and here in Syria via the terrorism which comes from 83 citizenships”.

“The means differ, but the goal is one, and the master of the plan is one. And this leads us to another important issue, which is that some express or say that they don’t care, I mean some in Syria, some say they don’t care for what happens in Gaza, because they believe we have enough problems. And others say they are glad with what is happening to the Palestinians, because some of the Palestinians were not loyal to what Syria gave them for decades. In both cases, this is naïve behavior. Because what is taking place in Syria and the region is related directly to Palestine and to what is taking place in the occupied territories”.

“And dissociating ourselves here is like someone who is looking at a fire burning the home of his neighbor and doesn’t help extinguishing the fire, believing that it won’t come to his house. So, he who believes we can live in security and disassociate ourselves from the Palestinian cause is mistaken. It will remain the central cause… Connecting what is taking place in Syria and in Palestine, especially as we all know that the global and regional policies regarding this region, especially the Arab countries – they are related first and foremost to what is taking place in Palestine”.

“And this requires from us to differentiate, clearly, between the Palestinian resistive people who we must stand behind and, some of those who neglect the favors; the real resistance fighters who we must support, and others who wear the mask of resistance in accordance with their interests. When we believe that our crises are not related to what is taking place in Palestine – and our local vendors know that we will take the wrong decisions, and the solutions will not be complete, and the result will be failure, in addressing any problem which we are witnessing in our country”.

“Ladies and gentlemen, people like you who fought and showed steadfastness and stayed in their country which was subject to an aggression which we have not seen, are a people who deserve appreciation. People who brought back the real meaning of revolution; people who proved that the Syrians live with honor and are martyred with honor; and that their honor and dignity is more valuable to them than life itself; and that their belief in God along with their belief in land and the people and the nation. And although we have made a big achievements lately in our fight against terrorism, irrespective of this we will not forget the people also who were beheaded. And we will succeed”.

 “Honorable Syrian people, the challenges are big and the missions are also huge. Our confidence in ourselves also doesn’t mean that we should take issues lightly. We have a strong will, and with our will we can transform this into a chance, and if the price we paid was a high price, let our achievements be at the same level of this high price – as long as we have the will”.

“The upcoming phase has begun, the new phase has begun, and we are ready. Syria deserves from us all efforts, and we will spare no efforts, as I said, as our heroes didn’t spare anything from their blood and their souls. I will be the individual who belongs to you, lives with you, and takes your opinion to account, and also draws inspiration from your vigilance”.

“Together with you, Syria will stand high, will remain steadfast, will not be defeated by the foreigners, and we shall remain an impossible target to be defeated”.

****

(Thank you to Le Journal de la Syrie at YouTube)

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Syria: Peace At The End Of The Tunnel?

Posted on June 5, 2014

by Jerry Alatalo

“Our hopes for the future condition of the human race can be subsumed under three important heads: the abolition of inequality between nations, the progress of equality within each nation, and the true perfection of mankind.”

– MARQUIS DE CONDORCET (1743-1794) French philosopher

aaa-8While starting to type on the keyboard here, National Public Radio is doing a piece about “Catch 22” by Joseph Heller. Catch 22 is a book portraying a chaotic, bureaucratic world that is war and, considering how real war occurs, Syria could be seen as a Catch 22 situation in some aspects. How does Egyptian legendary and iconic leader Gamal Abdel Nasser (1918-1970) fit into the current Syrian warring and humanitarian catastrophe?

Western/United States Middle East policy focuses on the prevention of the rise of another Arab leader like Nasser.

While in the past there was always a hunch that Egypt’s Nasser – his profound legacy – was a very big deal when looking at Middle East issues, until today I had never looked into Nasser’s life history. It turns out that one’s hunches/intuitions are many times in line with whatever led to those suspicions.  A glance at Wikipedia’s Gamal Abdel Nasser page points to the importance of Nasser to the Middle Eastern people, and helps explain United States’ and other western nations’ foreign policy for the region.

The first relevant fact about Nasser is that he helped plan the 1952 overthrow of Egypt’s monarchy. In 2014, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Bahrain and other small nations of the Middle East are in fact monarchies, which may explain Saudi and Qatari financing of mercenaries in the Syrian tragedy that has now passed the three-year mark. Nasser overthrew Egypt’s monarchical system in 1952, his leadership in the Arab world threatened other monarchies including Saudi Arabia’s, and, since his death from a heart attack in 1970, Nasser’s memory has fuelled anti-monarchy movements in the region.

Does Bashar Al-Assad represent the same type of leader that Nasser was, and does this explain Saudi Arabia’s, Qatar’s, and the USA’s efforts to remove him? To be honest, my hunch/intuition is that Assad is seen as another Nasser and threatens the business interests of western powers and continued reign of monarchs, but more research will be required to allow a more accurate opinion.

It is worthy to note that Libya’s Gaddafi, like Nasser’s actions in Egypt, overthrew the monarchy of Libya in 1969, fainted twice from emotional distress during Nasser’s 1970 Cairo funeral, and wanted to become the region’s next Nasser-like leader.

Nasser became Egypt’s second president in 1956 and remained leader until his death in 1970. He made far-reaching reforms during his presidency, including the nationalization of the Suez Canal, significant land reforms, and carried out other major actions which took power and wealth away from outside imperialist nations. Nasser’s neutrality policy during the Cold War led to uneasy relations with western powers and his action to take the Suez Canal was cheered by the Arab world.

After that, Nasser’s popularity would only grow as he became a beloved leader in the Middle East and Northern Africa while calling for pan-Arab unity. He became a historic figure because of his battle against imperialism, promotion of world peace, calls for the end of colonialism, and efforts to increase cooperation with all developing countries around the world. He joined with Indonesian President Sukarno, Yugoslavian President Tito, and Indian President Nehru in 1961 and the founding of the Non-Aligned Movement.

In 1954, while delivering a speech, Nasser survived an assassination attempt by a member of the Muslim Brotherhood who shot eight times and missed from 25 feet away. The crowd who came to hear Nasser’s speech went into a panic, then Nasser told them, “My countrymen, my blood spills for you and for Egypt. I will live for your sake and die for the sake of your freedom and honor. Let them kill me; it does not concern me so long as I have instilled pride, honor, and freedom in you. If Gamal Abdel Nasser should die, each of you shall be Gamal Abdel Nasser. Gamal Abdel Nasser is of you and from you and he is willing to sacrifice his life for the nation.”

The Arab world was electrified.

Nasser fought against “perpetuation of Arab subservience to Zionism and western imperialism.” He alienated the United States, condemned British imperialism and, after nationalizing the Suez Canal, found near-100% approval ratings in the Arab world. Nasser was the spokesman for the masses not only in Egypt, but all across the third world. His popularity threatened the survival of the Saudi Arabian royal family. In 1961 he initiated a major nationalization program, believing public ownership of businesses were the answer for Egypt’s problems.

In 1961-62 he brought universal free healthcare, affordable housing, a minimum wage, profit sharing, free education, reduced work hours, and previously mentioned land reforms that promoted agriculture and reduced rural poverty. In 1962, government ownership of Egypt’s businesses was 51%.

In his fourteen year presidency of Egypt, Nasser became a monumental, historic figure in the Middle East and the world. Nasser’s image was very visible during Egypt’s Arab Spring which resulted in the removal of Hosni Mubarek.

So, there are reasons for believing that western motives for the Middle East and North Africa have everything to do with preventing the growth of pan-Arabic movements – preventing the rise of one or more Gamal Abdel Nassers. This would mean that the people who live in Middle Eastern and North African nations would control their natural resources, their financial/monetary systems, and their forms of government. That means more wealth from those regions would go toward the people who live there, and not to people who live outside the regions.

Then the question surfaces on how to resolve the differences between people outside the region who want to acquire wealth and the people who actually live in the Middle East and Northern Africa – without war. Those who have decided that war is an acceptable option for resolving differences includes actual monarchies – the British Royal family,  Saudi Arabian royal family, Qatar monarchy, among others. Although not “official”, actual “royalty”, very wealthy banking families and corporation owners can be described as “business royalty”, and those desiring acquisition of wealth in the Middle East and Northern Africa are inclined to choose, and advocate for, military actions to satisfy their desires.

Many have observed the different views held by the United States government regarding presidential elections in Ukraine and Syria. In Ukraine, after a democratically elected president was overthrown in a violent coup d’état, a presidential election was held while Ukrainians were killing Ukrainians: acceptable. In Syria, while the nation’s people enter the fourth year of what many describe as the world’s most urgent humanitarian disaster – fueled by a war where the majority of forces killing Syrians and fighting against the government are hired mercenaries from outside of Syria – a presidential election was held: unacceptable.

The US government recently has pledged another billion dollars of military spending on the situation in Ukraine, and two billion dollars effectively to ramp up violence in already war-torn Syria. Could the American people perhaps find better uses for those billions of dollars than for more killing, violence, and human misery? How about, instead of choosing the military option, engaging in debate – wars of ideas, words, back-and-forth, increased understanding, and genuine efforts at reaching agreement and consensus?

It is now widely known that the people who “pull the trigger” on military actions are the wealthiest people on Earth. Perhaps the time has arrived for those making the decisions about war and peace to come forward and speak to the world’s people about their spiritual basis, philosophical logic, and rationale for taking actions which result in human beings’ getting killed, injured and otherwise horrifically harmed – physically, mentally, and economically.

To those who are accountable for war’s devastating and harming consequences, come forward and tell us how you are “OK” with those results of your actions. Because there are lots of people from every nation and region on this Earth who have grown weary of those war consequences, and are demanding explanations. So, you warmongers and war-makers, what are your explanations? How are you “OK” with war and killing?

****

One humanity has run out of patience while waiting for good explanations.

To the “Masters of War”:

The entire human race – every man, woman, and child on Earth – is staring at you.

Waiting and listening intently…

Start talking.

****

(The following video is in the Syrian language. A record of the Syrian people’s reaction after the election.)

Syrian Presidential Race Draws Worldwide Interest.

Posted May 2, 2014

by Jerry Alatalo

“When the people is master of the vote it becomes the master of the government.”

– ARISTOTLE  Greek philosopher

gaswellAssuming Bashar Al-Assad runs for re-election as Syria’s president there will be three candidates for the 7-year term highest position. Little is known thus far on Assad’s opponents – current member of Parliament, 43 year-old Maher Abdul-Hafiz Haijar, and ex-member Hassan Abdullah al-Nouri.  Whether western governments like the United States and European Union nations, or regional states like Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Turkey or Israel have endorsed any of these candidates is also unknown.

After the Syrian Parliament announced the presidential election slated for early June the United Nations, European Union and United States have criticized holding elections during the present situation where millions of Syrians are refugees who’ve left Syrian soil, with the view that such an event would lessen chances for dialogue and a potential peace agreement. The U.S. State Department through spokespersons have called a Syrian presidential election at this time a “parody of democracy.”

There are a few aspects to consider. Now that Syria has entered into a fourth year of what can only be described – and has been accurately described – as the world’s largest humanitarian crisis, what rationale is there to oppose a presidential election in Syria? The death toll of men, women, and children has passed 150,000, and surrounding countries are unable to cope with millions of people who’ve fled Syria because of the overwhelming violence.

Maher Abdul-Hafiz Haijar and Hassan Abdullah al-Nouri are running for president of Syria against Bashar Al-Assad. Rational people have to believe that these men didn’t make such a major life choice for insignificant reasons. In every nation on Earth candidates for that nation’s highest leadership position have a belief in themselves that their ideas are the best ones for their citizens, which ideally, when understood and compared by voters, will result in the person with the most persuasive arguments becoming leader.

Another aspect to consider are the possible reasons for non-Syrians’ critical views toward an election. Perhaps the Syrian people will find the ideas of either Maher Abdul-Hafiz Haijar or Hassan Abdullah al-Nouri preferable to Assad, cast more votes for one of them than Assad, and then Syria will have a new president – in effect the “regime change, Assad has to go” wish of some governments outside Syria. Instead of highly criticizing an election in Syria, one would think that politicians outside Syria who find Assad undesirable would welcome a democratic removal of him from office, seeing they “know” the Syrian people want Assad out of office as well.

Surely those politicians outside Syria played a part in convincing Maher Abdul-Hafir Haijar and/or Hassan Abdullah al-Nouri to stand up and oppose Assad, certain that either would be better leaders for the people of Syria. Now, the essential question is whether those powers outside Syria who’ve been calling for the ouster of Assad back either of the men running against him. If so, then this should offer hope for the anti-Assad groups. If not, then people are left to ask: “where is your preferred candidate, and why haven’t they come forward and thrown their hat in the ring?”

Syria’s United Nations representative has said Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Turkey, Israel and certain western nations are arming, training and paying mercenaries from 83 nations, and that these mercenaries are the so-called “Syrian opposition.” To run for president in Syria, a candidate must provide proof they are a ten-year citizen. Perhaps non-Syrians financing and arming the opposition – for those who have no problem carrying out violent overthrows of nations – there are other agendas than bringing true democracy, which is what an election is all about.

As mentioned earlier, the situation in Syria is the most significant humanitarian crisis on Earth. With over 150 thousand lost lives, with millions of Syrians displaced after fleeing from their homes – a humanitarian crisis of epic proportions – how non-Syrian groups can look upon the potential of a better Syrian leader coming to power as a “parody of democracy” is beyond understanding. In other words, how is a presidential election going to make matters any worse?

Perhaps Senators John McCain and Lindsay Graham have already endorsed one of the two men who’ve challenged Assad, and will soon be found on the front pages in photographs shaking hands or videos sharing visions of a better future for Syria and her people. Both McCain and Graham, and Barack Obama and John Kerry, surely must have identified a more qualified person to lead Syria than Bashar Al-Assad. Is that person either Maher Abdul-Hafiz Haijar or Hassan Abdulah al-Nouri? If so, then your man is certainly better qualified and able to receive more votes.

If Barack Obama, John Kerry, John McCain and Lindsay Graham believe they’ve found a Syrian who would do a better job leading that nation than Bashar Al-Assad – but that person hasn’t entered the presidential race – then what has all this war, killing, violence, and deeply saddening last four years in Syria been all about?

****

Father Dave Smith On Syria.

Posted September 21, 2013

by Jerry Alatalo

I first became aware of Father Dave Smith while reading Syria articles from various websites today. His article “How Obama Lost The First Round On Damascus” was posted at counterpunch.org, I thought it was an important message, so it appeared previously here as “Hold Your Ground In Second Battle For Damascus”.

After visiting his website fatherdave.org I found some of his recent writings on his blog, and feel that what he has to say is important for people to know. I was somewhat surprised to learn that he knows, and has worked with, Mother Agnes Mariam and other Syrian peace activists. So, he is a powerful voice and source of truth about the situation in Syria.

The rest of this post consists of words written by Father Dave Smith on his blog at fatherdave.org.

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Weekly Missive – August 28th, 2013

Hi Fighter,

Are we on the eve of Armageddon?

Love Syria

It’s Father Dave, and I confess that as I write to you today I’m feeling sick in my stomach.

It’s not something that I ate or drank (though I have had a second glass of red tonight to steel my nerves). It’s Syria, and it’s what I’m seeing on the news!

I’ve been watching and listening to European leaders and US and Israeli officials all talking about how urgent it is that we start bombing Bashar Al-Assad into submission, and all this before the UN inspectors have produced a single finding!

I remember having the same sick and sinking feeling on the eve of the Iraq invasion. I remember thinking then, “No. Surely they won’t do it. They’re not that stupid. They know there are no ‘weapons of mass destruction’. It’s all just saber rattling!” And now … 1,000,000 dead Iraqi’s later … history seems to be repeating itself!

Here’s how the scenario plays out in my mind:

  1. The US and NATO attack Syrian government forces on the pretext of the chemical weapon attacks.
  2. The government falls and the country crumbles into uncontrollable sectarian violence with jihadists gaining control of major areas (as in Iraq)
  3. Lebanon’s infrastructure cannot withstand the further influx of refugees (already almost 50% of the size of its citizenry) and so it falls into anarchy as well
  4. Iran is now left without allies (which I believe is one of the main aims of the game) and so Israel attacks Iran’s nuclear facilities, confident that Iran will not retaliate.
  5. Iran declares war on Israel and the regional war against the Shi’a goes into overdrive.
  6. Shi’a majorities in Bahrain and Iraq and elsewhere rise up and turn the entire Middle East into a cauldron of bloody violence.
  7. Israel eventually becomes the focus of the wrath of all its neighbours.
  8. The reverberations are felt throughout the world. Terrorist acts take place in every major city. There is widespread religious and ethnic violence, reprisals, etc.
  9. It all climaxes with some massive nuclear detonations.
  10. Everyone looks back and realises that there never were any chemical weapons attacks carried out by the Syrian government.

You might think this is all very fanciful, but I have military friends in the US that were put on ‘Class 1 Alert’ on the weekend, indicating possible immediate deployment to Syria! Meanwhile, my sources in Damascus are expecting the bombing to start on Tuesday!

A Voice Crying in the Wilderness

with Mairead Maguire - my hero!

with Mairead Maguire – my hero!

Amidst all the beating of war-drums, I was greatly encouraged to hear the lone voice of my friend (and Nobel Peace Prize winner) Mairead Maguire, calling upon her Foreign Minister to stop agitating for war! Says Mairead:

“Arming rebels and authorizing military action by USA/NATO forces will not solve the problem facing Syria, but indeed could lead to the death of thousands of Syrians, the breaking-up of Syria, and it falling under the control of violent fundamentalist jihadist forces. It will mean the further fleeing of Syrians into surrounding countries which will themselves  become destabilised. The entire Middle East will become unstable and violence will spiral out of control.”

You can read Mairead’s complete press release here.

And while Mairead Fights the Good Fight in Britain, my dear friend Ghinwa (who you met last week) is just fighting to stay alive in Damascus!

Ghinwa visting the Ummayyad Mosque in Damascus

Ghinwa visiting the Ummayyad Mosque (Damascus)

Ghinwa and her family are on the move, looking for somewhere safe to shelter. They have lost many friends and family members. As an Alawite, Ghinwa knows she is a target to Jabhat Al-Nusra and the armies of foreign mercenaries that besiege her city.

We haven’t been able to secure a time yet when Ghinwa can join us for a conference call and it will have to wait until she finds somewhere safe to stay. In the meantime, let me share with you our latest text exchanges:

 Ghinwa: I was supposed to contact with you on Sunday but I was caught in Damascus because of clashes on the way back home. I was lucky on Monday to avoid mortar shells. Anyhow, we are all OK. Trying to find a safe place to move on to in Damascus …

Dave: You are in my constant prayers, my friend – you and your dear sister. I hope we can speak again soon. … Just let me know if you want to do that phone conference.

Ghinwa: I wanted to do that but every day something new happens. I was unable to leave home in the past two days, and until now … there are clashes in the area around the place I live in. There are military operations now around Damascus, heavy clashes around us, I have information that there are around 4,000 Al-Nusra fighters in Muadamia. This morning those fighters used chemical weapons against the Syrian Army…

After the massacres against Alawites that killed some 350-400 people (we have the names of 256 persons of them) two massacres took place – one against Christians in Wadi-Alnasara area. 20 Christian people were killed there in what Islamist fighters called the Islamist battle to control Wadi Al-Nasara, meaning “Christans’ Vallley”, and a massacre against Kurds that killed more than 200 Kurds.

… I don’t know what to say!

Dave: God bless you, my sister. It tears at my heart to hear these things. Out here we are being told of various accusations against the government for the use of chemical weapons. I have no idea whether there is any truth to these but certainly things are terrible.

Ghinwa: Yes, I know these stories, but I know the accusations to the government are not true. When I checked videos on the Internet, telling the story that the government used chemicals against people in Ghota, I noticed those videos were uploaded to YouTube before the time the alleged massacre took place…

We see the same people in three different videos. Each video claims that those were killed in a different place. The only difference is that they changed the places of the bodies and arranged the scene in a different way. They put once that those people were killed in Kafr – batna, and the other video tells those where killed in Irbeen area.

I’ll check the videos and send them by email if you wish, Father.

Dave: I will publish what you send me, sister, and try to get the word out. My only concern is whether it’s putting you at any greater risk by having your name and face associated with this information.

Ghinwa: I am already on their death lists. Belonging to Alawites is a justification to kill me. It is something I was born with, not something I chose. So no problems of putting my name and pictures there.

Ghinwa with our delegation in Damascus

Ghinwa with our delegation in Damascus

In case you think Ghinwa’s claims about the videos are outrageous, I note that Veterans News Now are reporting that Al Jazeera and Reuters published news of the latest Syrian massacre one day before it happened (see here)!

Faith without Love = Fundamentalism

As we all know, the looming war on Syria is not just a political issue. It’s also a faith issue.

In the New Testament “Letter to the Hebrews” (chapter 11) the author eulogises over all the wonderful things that people have accomplished throughout history through their faith. When I read this though the first thing that occurred to me was that Al Qaeda and Jabhat Al-Nusra also claim to be ’faith organisations’ , though it seems to be a very different sort of faith to anything I’m familiar with.

How do we distinguish between good faith and bad faith? As a child I once believed that anybody who espoused the Christian faith must be a person of good faith whereas all members of other faiths are the bad guys. Then I studied the history of the church and realised (to use Desmond Tutu’s phrase) that “God is not a Christian”.

I believe the New Testament itself gives us a straightforward way of distinguishing between the faith that kills and the faith that gives life, and I it’s something that I think all Christian people need to take to heart.