Archive for the ‘Syria’ Category
This article (shared below in full) talks about a Saudi man who takes holidays to go fight the Shiites in Syria. It is a compelling read.
I initially pondered if a silver lining of the Syrian war was that the extremists on both sides would deplete each other – with Iranian proxies like Hezbollah and Assad’s army fighting off Al Qaeda surrogates and affiliates and neutralizing and weakening each other.
But the inescapable lesson from this horrible conflict is that hatred and inhumanity breed more hatred and inhumanity, which can come back to haunt humanity in unpredictable ways. In the end it makes all of us worse off.
Just like a whole generation of jihadists was groomed in the Afghanistan war to incite terrorist attacks across the West and also all over the Middle East, thousands of Muslims are being attracted towards a glamorized battle to defend their brethren in this war in Syria. It is hardening so many souls to the path of intolerance and violence towards those different from them. It cannot end well.
I wish the international community, including the US, had been much more forceful in preventing Assad’s atrocities early on, when a large majority of Syrians were standing up against his dictatorial abuses in a non-violent, moderate, and mostly non-sectarian way. That was the time for an international coalition to take surgical military steps to dethrone Assad and swiftly enable a process for new elections. This was such a tragic missed opportunity which will haunt our world for decades to come.
The Saudis, who are determined to oust President Bashar al-Assad and his patron, Iran, fear the rise of Al Qaeda’s affiliates in Syria but face fighting a proxy war using zealot militia fighters over whom they have almost no control.
Amidst all the winds of change in the Middle East, this week I read these 3 pieces that are worth perusing for any student of the region:
- John Kerry’s vision for economic and socio-political development in Palestine, and for rekindling negotiations between Israelis and Palestinians: http://www.state.gov/secretary/remarks/2013/05/209969.htm
- Ben Caspit’s warning about the possible repercussions of the Syrian conflict and the country’s disintegration: http://www.al-monitor.com/pulse/originals/2013/05/israel-versus-the-russian-syrian-alliance.html
- Dore Gold’s historical perspective on how the borders in the Levant settled by the British and the French in 1916 may be about to change: http://www.israelhayom.com/site/newsletter_opinion.php?id=4441
A Syrian military document was leaked that exposes Assad’s efforts to suppress democracy activists with lethal force and hide behind from it by using hidden snipers – basically planning to do what has been reported by activists all week – killing peaceful protesters but doing so from undeclared sources, and then pointing the blame to “Americans,” “Zionists” and “Saudis and Lebanese.”
I just read a New York Times article that reminded me think that it is astonishing how deep is the cult of ‘resistance’ in the Arab world that thugs like Nassrallah are seen as heroes. He is among the most popular figures in Egypt and Palestine (and all across the Mideast) and seen as an upright honest leader. It is fascinating how human beings can rationalize facts away when they interfere with their romantic notions. The way Hezbollah has been bullying Saad Hariri and the Lebanese people to stop seeking answers for who was behind the assassination of the former Lebanese PM Rafik Hariri should disgust any human being who cares about justice. Nassrallah is to Lebanon what an organized Mafia family head would be to a jury investigating their crimes if he publicly threatened the jury in court.
Too bad the Saudis, the Sunnis and the Americans among many others who should compose civil society and the police have done so little to protect them.
by Adeena Schlussel on behalf of Daniel Lubetzky
Security sources report that Syria has been delivering arms from clandestine depots in Syria to bases in Lebanon. This accusation heightens fears that Syria’s President Bashar Assad is becoming close with Hizbollah, and by extension, its friend, Iran. As part of this concern, some worry that should a clash erupt between Lebanon and Israel, Syria would be entered into the fighting. The UN Security Council Resolution 1701 bans providing arms to Hizbollah and many Western leaders are pressing President Assad to stop undermining this provision.
In a prior blog entry here, I shared an insight from Linda Gallanter, that your goal when raising children should be to give them purpose, rather than for them to be "happy." If they find purpose, they will find happiness. If you obsess with their immediate happiness as a goal, they may just end up spoiled or feeling self-entitled.
But in reading an excellent article from Andrea Elliot, The Jihadist Next Door, and in remembering some concepts from a novel (OD&H) I started trying to write a decade ago but never finished, one should remember that "purpose" is a double-edged sword. A lot of the most dangerous people find purpose alright – to destroy or vanquish or eliminate.
So the caveat should be that Purpose needs to be Positive. And since Positive is a normative word whose definition may be in the eye of the beholder (ie, for Omar Hammami, killing infidels in Somalia is a Positive act), I would define Positive as rooted in TOLERANCE AND RESPECT TOWARDS OTHER HUMAN BEINGS – or the golden rule of doing onto others as you would want to be done on to you.
Elliot’s article also highlights that the same attributes of leaders in society – being smart, curious, introspective, analytical, charismatic, determined – can be dangerous if not rooted in tolerance.
Ironically, Omar Hammami was brought up by a Muslim Dad and Christian Mom. So you would think that environment can foster diversity and respect (as it has in countless of PeaceWorks and OneVoice team members I have met over the years whose parents come from different backgrounds. Alas, in this case, the teachings that Hammami got from Islam and from Christianity were exclusionary and rooted in intolerance. He would be warned by his Mom’s family and church in Alabama that he would go to hell unless he accepted Christianity. And he would be warned by his Father’s family in Syria that he would be cursed if he didn’t accept Islam. Repressive religious upbringings can boomerang and catch up with your offspring.
Elliot’s article also points how "a constant in Hammami’s life [is] his striving for another place and purpose."
The zeal to transcend one’s life in this world – the search for purpose and posterity – can be the greatest inspiration for good or evil.
In a remarkable sermon, Syria’s highest Sunni religious authority spoke courageously and powerfully about religions requiring humanity and respect, including these statements:
“If the Prophet Mohammed had asked me to deem Christians or Jews heretics, I would have deemed Mohammed himself a heretic."
Sheikh Ahmed Hassoun also “said Islam was a religion of peace, adding: ‘If Mohammed had commanded us to kill people, I would have told him he was not a prophet.’”