Friday, February 25, 2011

The Syrians' Turn

As the Arab people rise up in one country after another, I can't help but think of Syria every day.  I'm one of the lucky Lebanese who escaped the Syrian snipers, Syrian checkpoints and Syrian bombs.  During Lebanon’s 15-year civil war, thousands of Lebanese were killed and thousands of others just disappeared and were never heard from again.  Where did they go?  The Syrian army and intelligence service rounded them up and we assume tortured and murdered them.  

Their crimes also include the murder of a Lebanese president-elect, a Lebanese prime minister and many other politicians, writers and journalists.  They have devastated Lebanon and the Lebanese in so many ways and continue to do so even though it’s less obvious today.

In case you’re thinking I’m bitter because of what side of that war my family was on, you should know this:  The Syrian regime hasn’t been any kinder to its own people.  Much like Egypt's Mubarak, Libya's Gaddafi and Iraq's Hussein, the Assad family has ruled with an iron fist to keep its people down.  Rivers have turned red from the blood of those massacred by the authorities, and that's not an exaggeration.  The elder Assad used tanks, artillery and air bombardment to level the city of Hama after the Muslim Brotherhood revolted in the early 1980s, killing thousands.  (See Thomas Friedman’s reflection on the Hama massacre from 2005 in the New York Times HERE.)

Then there's the small matter of Syria’s dictators backing and doing the dirty work of the Iranians, Russians, Hamas, Hezbollah and any other government or terrorist group looking for support or an intermediary to do its evil deeds.  

So, what now?  The Syrians are good people who have suffered far too long.  I hope and pray they seize this historical moment and rise up against the lies, greed, crimes and tyranny of their dictator.  It won’t be easy, but life is far too short to suffer quietly for all these decades and all these generations.  I pray they muster the courage to reclaim their dignity and their country. 

Peace, my brothers and sisters, is indeed overrated.    

A Lebanese-American

11 comments:

  1. Nice piece Laura. Just for the record, two presidents elect, Bashir Gemayel and Rene Mouawad were blown to pieces by the Syrian security apparatus in Lebanon, as well as two cabinet heads, Rashid Karami and Rafiq Hariri. Not to mention the assissination of Sunni Mufti Hassan Khalid and Sheikh Subhi Elsaleh,

    As for The Syrians doing the Iranian Regime's dirty work in the region, I do agree with that. The Russians are out of the picture since the USSR collapse in the early 90's. Hammas and Hizbullah on the contrary, carry out the Iranian and Syrian agenda in the region and not the other way around!

    Good piece on Syria. Keep an eye on the Middle East, especially Syria and Iran in 2011.

    Good luck and God bless!


    Joe Elkhoury

    Sacramento, California

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  2. You wrote: "I shudder to think how many Syrian citizens the Assads have killed over the years. Their time is coming and I'm hoping it's sooner rather than later."

    I'm not sure if you can read Arabic. I will presume you do! Here's a book that sheds the light on how the Syrian regime deals with the people.

    http://www.4shared.com/document/8hTBKBPZ/_online.html

    Joe

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  3. March 1, 2011 11:27 PM
    Laura Boustani said...
    Joe - Thanks for your comment. I didn't mean to omit Mouawad, Karami or Hariri, so thanks for pointing those out. Bachir Gemayel was the great hope of my childhood, so he towers over others in my memory. The unfortunate truth is that we can't possibly list everyone. The Syrians have been at it too many years and have killed too many Lebanese--private citizens and those in public life. I shudder to think how many Syrian citizens the Assads have killed over the years. Their time is coming and I'm hoping it's sooner rather than later.

    I agree with you on Hamas and Hezbolla. I wasn't clear on that point. I suspect you're correct about Russia as well, although it's worth pointing out to those who may have been fooled by the Assads for years that they'll go with whatever regime is against democracy and progress, not to mention whatever regime gives them weapons and cash. They have no moral center and no ideals...only self interest.

    Thanks for reading and taking the time to comment. I look forward to more of your thoughts and feedback.

    Laura

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  4. When talking about the Asad family regime every thing will be mystyrious .. every thing will be hiding in a filthy cover which decievd many people !
    In ma opinion : Your article can be used in showing the real face of the syrian regime to people!
    I liked it ! very nice one mashalla !

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  5. Thank you, Wafa. I am convinced that tyranny can only exist in darkness. This might as well be the age of light considering how connected we all are and how easily we are able to share ideas and information. Thanks again and I look forward to more comments and ideas from you.
    Laura

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  6. Great article Laura .. The Syrian regime should be gone , the middle east would be a better place without it .

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  7. Meimuna - Thanks for the comment. I do worry about what's going to replace the Syrian regime and the others that are on their last legs. While I have enormous faith in people (of the Middle East and everywhere else), I have little confidence in any "saviors" or leaders who emerge with lots of promises and great speeches. That prompted me to write the piece titled "A Note to the Arab People" just before this post. I sincerely hope that there's now a healthy skepticism of "leaders" and that the Arab people insist on creating systems of government that require their consent not just at the outset but for years and generations to come. If they do, the world would be a better place.

    Thanks again.

    Laura

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  8. Hi Laura. Click the link at the bottom, it takes you to my facebook page where you'll see two videos at the top of the page. Please find a little time and watch those videos, you will love it. Also browse the pix that I posted on my page, those were taken when I was in Lebanon back in December.

    Best regards.


    Joe

    http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100000922165774

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  9. Joe - I went to that page and I could not see or access the videos.
    Laura

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  10. Dear Laura, I agree with you that the Assad family and the regime they put in place have been cruel. The Assads should go as they have harmed their own people and the Lebanese people in so many ways. However, I want to point out that if they have interfered in the Lebanese affairs it is because the lebanese themselves could not get along with each other. If the lebanese had not been weakened by the civil war, syria would never have been able to enter in Lebanon. And the reason they are weak is that there are very few lebanese who are loyal to the country, most of them are loyal to their particular religious faction first. Which is very unfortunate because lebanese people are educated and they integrate easily in other countries. Why cannot they live peacefully in their own country. In my opinion, each faction is selfish they want to be more powerful than the other one, and this will never work. there will always be mistrust and instability. The younger lebanese generation should try to see the other as an equal, accept more justice in intereligious relationships even if it means making sacrifices and redirect their loyalty to the country first. Strength is in unity
    Ben from Morocco

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  11. Ben - Thanks for reading and for your thoughtful comment. You may find this surprising but I agree with you. I make no apologies for how the Lebanese people have behaved in the past 36 plus years. You must have read my mind because my next post will be about identifying with religious factions as opposed to country...from personal experience. It's been a journey for me and my family in that sense. Stay tuned.
    Laura

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