This article by the dissident writer Yassin Al Haj Saleh was first published in Arabic, then was translated into French (see my last post but one), Spanish and English, appearing successively in several Arab newspapers, Le Monde, El Mundo and the Guardian. In the Guardian, the moderate, balanced article aroused a storm of comments. I myself commented and replied to comments. After posting the article, I am going to post my comments because they are mostly replies to a wide variety of opinions.
Three months ago, I left the city of Damascus, where life had become too oppressive, to go to the “liberated” area of East Ghouta. An area that had 2 million inhabitants before the uprising, East Ghouta is now populated by only around one million. It was a base from which the rebels headed towards the capital, but is now completely besieged by the regime’s forces due to renewed support from Russia and Iran, and the arrival of Iran-sponsored Iraqi and Lebanese militias. During the past three months, I have personally witnessed the staggering lack of arms, ammunition, and even food for the fighters. Many of them would get two meals a day at most, and their situation would have been immeasurably worse had they not been local residents, protecting their own towns and families, and living off their own kin. The cities and towns that I have seen or lived in during these months are subjected to daily and random air strikes and mortar and rocket shelling. Victims, mostly civilians, fall every day. In a centre for civil defence where I lived for a month I used to see all the bodies brought in. Some were indistinguishable remains, others belonged to children, and among the victims was a six-month fetus lost by a terrified mother. Not a single day passed during that month without victims; two or three usually, but nine on one day, 28 on another, and 11 on a third. Besides civilians, several fighters are killed every day by the arms of a superior power, with superior support. The entire area has not had power for eight months. Therefore, people depend on numerous easily broken generators that consume a lot of gasoline at a time when this is becoming increasingly scarce, which in turn forces people to stop using their fridges despite the soaring heat. Land and mobile telephone networks are all cut. In the last week, wheat has become scarce as well. I have only been eating twice a day. It is OK so far. The new diet has helped me lose 10 kilograms. Worst of all, however, is the increasing number of people who are being buried in a hurry and without dignity. People are scared to linger near the cemeteries and be targeted by new missiles. We – myself and a number of friends – are still alive. In Damascus, we faced the constant possibility of arrest and insufferable torture. Here we are safe from that, but not from a missile that could land on our heads at any minute. One of the most remarkable things I noticed during my first few days here was that Friday prayers were called for at 9am in one mosque, half an hour later in another mosque, and then in others with half an hour between each. The purpose was to avoid gathering a large number of people in one place so as not to allow the regime to kill the most people possible. The regime tried before, and in one city, there are five destroyed mosques. More painful is that more than two-thirds of the children are not enrolled in schools, either because their parents are too terrified to let them out of their sight, or because there are very few schools available. Those that are still open are all underground to avoid shelling, and several hospitals are there too. People fight here with absolute defiance because they realise that a big massacre awaits them if the regime succeeds in regaining control over the area. Those who are not killed immediately will be arrested and tortured savagely. The options of the people are to either die resisting the aggression of a fascist regime or to be killed by this same regime in the worst way possible. People shudder with fear, and I myself shudder, at the thought that this regime might rule us again. The current situation is the direct result of the unwillingness of great powers to support the Syrian revolutionaries, while the allies of the regime have not only continued to support it with money, men, and weapons, but increased this support in both qualitative and quantitative terms. Finally, after the world established that the regime used chemical weapons, (something I documented myself and verified with friends who have the necessary personal expertise), and after the regime had secured the world’s approval of its use of air force and long-distance rockets against cities and residential neighbourhoods, after all that western powers have decided to support the revolutionaries with arms for the purpose of re-establishing ‘balance’ whose disruption in favour of the regime they themselves had facilitated. This policy is not only short-sighted, nor is it just going to prolong the conflict, it is deeply inhumane. There are no two equal evils in Syria – as most of the western media claims, contrary to the reports of the United Nations and international organisations. There is a fascist regime that has already killed more than 100,000 of its own people, on one hand, and a diverse umbrella of revolutionaries, of which some had been radicalised due to the longevity of the conflict and the weakening resistance of Syrian society towards radicalism. The longer the Syrians are left alone to die the more likely it is that the radical groups will gain strength and the voice of reason and moderation will grow weak. From my personal experience, this is exactly what is happening. Whenever new victims fell, especially children, people at the civil defence centre would look at me with probing eyes. They wonder what value the “reasonable” language I use has anymore. There is only one right thing today, from a Syrian and a human standpoint: to help the Syrians rid themselves of the Assad dynasty that acts as if Syria is their fief and Syrians their serfs. Everything will be difficult in post-Assad Syria, but removing Assad will set a new more moderate dynamic in Syrian society, and will allow Syrians to stand against those more radical among them. Much worse than this would be to allow this conflict to fester and for its human and material cost to rise; worse is to watch Syrians getting killed by Russian arms, and in the hands of local, Lebanese and Iranian murderers, worse too would be to impose a settlement that does not punish the criminals and does not resolve Syrian problems. US and western politicians often insist that there can’t be a military solution to the Syrian conflict. But where is the political solution? When did Bashar Assad say during the past 28 months and after more than 100,000 deaths that he is willing to enter into serious negotiations with the opposition in order to share power? The truth is that there won’t be a political solution without forcing Assad to step down, now, and with him all the masters of killing in his regime. Our dear friends, I address you today because the Syrian tragedy has become one of the world’s biggest and most dangerous problems today. It has displaced more than a third of the population, internally and externally; there are hundreds of thousands of people injured or disabled, and what amounts to a quarter of million detainees who are being subjected to horrific torture. We implore you as leaders of public opinion in your countries to pressure your governments to assume a clear stance against Assad and in favour of an end to his regime. This is the only human and progressive thing to do; and there is nothing more fascist and reactionary in today’s world than a regime that kills its people, imports killers and mercenaries from abroad, and stirs up a sectarian war that might not stop before it takes the lives of hundreds of thousands of people. Yassin Al Haj Saleh
* For a brief biography of the writer Yassin Al Haj Saleh, please see below.
As I mentioned above, the article stirred a heated discussion in the comments section of the Guardian, more than 400 comments. Below I am posting my comments and replies to comments on the letter , as they appeared in the Guardian, top comment last. If you use the link just below, you do not have to read my copy of the comments.
12 Jul 2013 3:11pm Do you live in this world? Pictures of the annihilation pf Syrian towns, cities, history and land are everywhere on the net, some very well documented and researched. Just use Google and write:ruined cities in Syria or the like and find out what you will get. Under my own name, I have been documenting Syria’s archaeological losses and its devastated urban centers. I have used my art to do the same.This is the age of the Internet. All is there to see and analyze. The problem is that many of the people taking part in this discussion, do not have a clue about the terrible full extent of the tragedy of Syrian people.What about the 5 million uprooted people, many of them starving or dying of injuries and the lack of the basic necessities.
12 Jul 2013 2:59pm Live with your definitions, as if a mass human movement can be defined by counter, genuine, fake and so on. Definitions are bad of us. They prevent us from seeing the human behind the words. What is coming too is not going to be controlled by your words or mine. Too much suffering, devastation and annihilation on an epic scale. Perhaps, if the Syrian Revolution was shown the better side of humanity instead of the ruthless geopolitical dimension and doctrines of self-interest, a country would not be dying, as it is dying now. What is wrong with everybody? In the civilized West it is enough to have one mass demonstration in the streets or a hint of public and civic major unrest to topple the government down.Why are people clinging to a killer president and a ruthless security state to live happily ever after?
12 Jul 2013 1:21pm I have tried to find SimpleIsBest to answer him on the point of my being unable to feel how the Christians and the Alawites feel. I do no how they feel and what you think. I am a veteran of Face book and I have seen all these arguments being answered by revolutionary Christians and Alawites on the side of the Revolution. Some of the best rebels are Alawites and Christians. The writer above handled these very issues in the most rational and balanced fashion in his numerous articles. For your knowledge, I am an atheist. Also as a Syrian, for I am British too, I consider myself a Kurd, Sunni, a Christian, an Alawite, a Druze, an Assyrian and an Ismaiili, etc. All the religions of Syria are part of its history, civilization and culture and are valuable to me and venerated by me.Fear alone should not hold the Christians and the Alawites close to the regime because identifying with the regime will be detrimental to them. I am not blind as you imagine me to be, rather, because I do identify with the apprehensive Christians and all the ethnicities of Syria and its religions I wish for a future where all can be part of one unified and free Syria.
12 Jul 2013 12:29pm The story of Syria will be told in the histories of the future as an example of how the civilized world failed to stop another holocaust, by mishandling the situation to the point of idiocy. Syria is fragmenting to the point of no return and the Qaeda is ready to stab the fallen Syria and claim it. Only today a leader of the FSA was assassinated by Al Qaeda. The open letter of Yassin Al Haj Saleh above is appealing to save Syria from Assad as well as save from Al Qaeda and its affiliates, before it is too late. It was misunderstood completely by many, or many understood it as a weapon to further abuse the Revolution of the Syrians and rubbish it.I just cannot and will not believe that if the world nurtured the will to unanimously solve the the tragedy of Syria by peaceful and political means, it will fail to do so. The will is absent so is the desire to realize the forthcoming doom.
12 Jul 2013 10:48am How Bashar is a dictator, I shall tell you my fellow debater. Please read the definition of democracy provided everywhere on the net, read what Human Rights mean, try to find out what freedom of speech and opinion mean, make an attempt to study the murky history of the security systems and forces in Syria, collect some information about what it means to be held as a political prisoner in Syria, look for statistics about the torture, rape of women and child prisoners and the debasement of human life in the notorious Syrian prisons like that of the legendarily Tadmur prison, not to forget Bashar’s Syria glorious records of human Rights infringements and abuses at the UN; after you have done all that, you will know why we call Bashar a dictator.
Alisar Iram commented on Help Syria now. Tomorrow it may be too late.
11 Jul 2013 6:53pm Can you for a moment remove your leftist blinkers to see what is really happening in Syria. Are the champions of the left now also champions of death, destruction and the rape of children,as well? Where are your humanity and where are your humanitarian ideals?Decaying, imprisoned in an ideology which sees nothing but the paraphernalia of obsolete imperialism in everything is not the answer to all the world’s problems. Not everything that happens on earth is to be interpreted according the holy bible of the Left. The Syrian Revolution is born of the Syrians’ aspirations for freedom and justice not the US dreams of domination.
11 Jul 2013 6:32pm Where did you get the 70% from, may I ask? This is a sheer falsification of the truth. The truth is there are no reliable statistics at the present except the statistics related to the number of the dead and the numbers of the refugees. You think the country will fall into anarchy after Assad. What do you call the present situation when there are 5 million Syrians on the move. What do you call the Shabiha of the Assad operating like jackals, killing and pillaging? What do you call the dungeons full of prisoners and the rape of women and children?What do you call a regular army turned into a killing machine?What do you call the annihilation of cities, towns and farms? What do you call the erratic scud missiles falling on civilians anywhere at any time? What do you call the intervention of Iran,Russia and Hizbolla, or is the definition of foreign reserved to one group of people only? Is this your idea of law and order. There are abuses from the other side too, but were it not that the president has turned into a rogue president and started a deadly chain of actions, Syria would not be on the verge of becoming extinct.No future situation could be worse than the present situation and if it continues to deteriorate, Syria will be no more. The only future is a future without Assad. Syria will founder in the beginning, then it will grope its way to safety.
11 Jul 2013 2:01pm
1I posted the following comment before. I am posting it again: The Assad regime( father and son) have ruled Syria oppressively, ruthlessly and autocratically for the last forty years. During that time Syria had no friends in the West. On the contrary it was regarded as one of the countries of the axes of evil, thus earning the Syrians a bad name and a notorious reputation in the world at large. So why do we find many of the comments attacking the Syrian revolution and casting doubt on it, denigrating it with a load of cynical, callous,or scathingly cruel criticism.? In Syria now there is a mass movement of humanity on the march, therefore a certain break down of law and order is inevitable. Some of the rebels have committed abuses which, it is hoped, one day the revolution will correct, prosecuting all the criminals. Have we forgotten the forty years of Human Rights abuses, lawlessness of the powerful, terrible infringement of all civil rights and all freedoms? Have we forgotten the nightmares of unlawful imprisonment, disappearances and total, unrelenting indoctrination and brainwashing of a whole nation? Let us forget about the past for a moment and concentrate on the notorious savage efforts of the Syrian government to eradicate the Revolution. About one hundred thousand civilians killed or butchered (documented), millions made homeless, maimed, imprisoned, hounded, their villages wiped out, their fields and trees scorched, their livelihoods destroyed. Two and half million buildings in Syria were reduced to rabble courtesy of the Syrian army and its jets, according to the Human Rights Watch. Not to mention the notorious Shabiha and their massacres, not to mention the destruction of Syria’s heritage and the looting of its history so that the cradle of civilizations is turned into the graveyard of civilizations. And yet Assad finds supporters in the West and people willing to stand up for him. Why? Because of speculations, fear, contempt for the opposition, imagined would be wrongs and woes. All revolutions make and have made grave mistakes. Name one that has not. But change is inevitable. The march of civilization would be halted without it. A people seeking freedom has the right to make mistakes in order to learn from them and reach adulthood. We call making mistakes experience and we call the fight for freedom a noble and great thing. Why do we deny them to the Syrian people in their fight for freedom?
11 Jul 2013 12:35pmLaugh your head off with my permission. You live in the virtual Syria of Assad which is immune to tragedy and death, don’t you?.Only, I would like to remind you that the flag of the Revolution is Green and white not black. Were it not for your darling Assad, the black flag would have never desecrated the earth of Syria. look for the arch criminal first, the man who has bombed his country to smithereens. Laugh and dance your dance macabre if you wish. Better let your presidents laugh and dance as well.
11 Jul 2013 12:17pm
“THIS IS NOT ABOUT IS DEMOCRACY or freedom from a tyrant.” For the West it is not. I agree. For the Syrians, it is despite all the odds against them. The problem is that the rationalizations and reasonings usually comes from the point of view of the West. The Syrians are squeezed between the rock and the hard place now: the extremism of a rouge president and the extremism of the rogue Islamists. If the rogue president is removed, the rogue Islamic extremists will be removed as well. Extremism is born of extremism. The Islamists are not going to win. Look at what is happening to the MB in Egypt. Syria is even more diverse than Egypt. The Islamists will have no future in free Syria.
11 Jul 2013 12:03pm
When you get your facts right, I shall give you some of my valuable time. Insults will only lead you to where insults come from. I shall leave it to you guess. Free speech does not mean slander. It means expressing your points without imposing on the freedom of the other. Who told you I wish to get Western opinion on my side? I want to get human values on my side.
11 Jul 2013 11:08am
There is no ethnic cleansing of the Christians. This can be proved. Some Christians die in the clashes as do several thousands of the Muslims.If anything, you might say there is an ethnic cleansing of the majority Sunnis as the bulk of the dead, the injured, the refugees, the uprooted are from them. The Revolution called for the unity of the Syrian people at the start of the Revolution, but now that Assad has turned it sectarian by summoning Hizbollah and the Iranians, there is a great danger that this unity or ideal of unity is suffering and will suffer further . But mind you, the greatest number of casualties among the rebels and the civilians are Sunni Muslims.
11 Jul 2013 10:57am
Did we accept, Solidarnosct, at any time to negotiate with Hitler of the Jewish Holocaust? Why do you expect the rebels to negotiate with Assad of the Syrian Holocaust? Besides, they said they would negotiate on the basis that Assad would be out. Is this so unreasonable? (2) There are 150,000 FSA soldiersin Syria and only (10,000) armed Islamists, mostly infiltrating from Iraq and via Turkey, Jordan and Lebanon. (3) The civil authorities established in the freed areas are resisting the foreign Islamist groups who are copying the regimes’s tactics. They are being imprisoned, robbed and subjected to laws foreign to them. The writer whom you are attacking is one of the staunchest opponents to them. Finally: the Syrians need help in order to get rid of Assad and in order to stand up to the Nusra and the other foreign Islamist groups and defeat them
11 Jul 2013 10:10am
But will our government listen. Of coarse not because selling arms to the Gulf States is in its interest. Why not ask our government to put pressure on Russia to stop sending arsenals of equipment and arms to Assad to slaughter his people with? Is your idea of heavenly peace providing Assad with arms to kill and denying the victims arms to defend themselves. The right path to peace is to starve both sides of arms supplies, thus giving the chance to peaceful demonstrations to decide the fate of Syria once more.
11 Jul 2013 9:47am
1Wisdom, it seems, is reserved exclusively to the use of wise weapons provided by wise Russia, wise Iran and wise Hezbollah to kill the Syrian people with.
11 Jul 2013 8:58am
1But see where France is now. Revolutions are not for the present only. Revolutions are for the future too and for the birth of free countries enjoying justice and implementing the Human Rights. Revolutions grow and mature like people and the best of them correct their mistakes and head for a better word. Is fear, false or not so false expectations and a heap of Delphic prophesies going to be allowed to snuff out the Syrian Revolution before it has even the chance to be fully born. All Revolutions founder in the beginning until they find their way. Give it a chance you civilized heartless world. Why should the Syrian Revolution be better than the French Revolution or the Russian Revolution and so on? Give the Syria people a chance. They have paid for their Revolution more dearly than most. They have earned it.
11 Jul 2013 8:46am
Congratulations. Now all the Syrians except some of the Alawites and the cronies of the regime are 3rd or 5th rate citizens. We have the marvelous inimitable regime of Assad to thank. I must mention too that Syria is now a heap of broken smashed debris. What a brave world !!
10 Jul 2013 7:53pm
There is intensity and passion in all I have written. True. In answer, I say I cannot watch the slaughter of the Syrians and the annihilation of Syria without bleeding to death inwardly. Sentimental rubbish? You be the judge.
10 Jul 2013 7:48pm
2Omar George Ali above and RipVanDingle below him, I accuse you of distorting facts and falsifying evidence. I accuse you of telling lies. I accuse you of blindness and cruelty. I am not answering you. I just would like to caution the readers to the fact that they are being told lies. The facts are all there on the Internet for all to try and find the truth for themselves.
10 Jul 2013 7:04pm
No, it is not called free speech, It is called free abuse. We can argue in a civilized fashion, can’t we. Arguments are not won by slander but by reason and logical discourse. What is clear to me is that what is essentially a quest for freedom is trampled under the feet of mostly biased, grudging, short on the facts arguments. Bigotry is universal. The majority of the rebels lost their homes, livelihoods and many members of their families as a result of the savage ruthless bombardment of villages, town and cities. Do not worry commentators, most of Syria is a graveyard now, its history annihilated and its cities razed to the ground. It has turned into a story told by an idiot, full of sound and fury. Do not let your compassion enter your hearts for the death of children is but a joke.
10 Jul 2013 5:00pm
2Some of the viciousness of the comments stuns me. The rebels of the Syrian Revolution could take some of the commentators on this page to the International court of justice for slander and for maligning them and their cause in the most abusive language possible. Are the rebels the devils incarnate, the bogey Islamists of our nightmares, the Ibn Landens of our worst fears, or are they rebels with a cause? This is the question. The truth is that the Syrian Revolution is being hijacked and will be hijacked even further unless we do some thing about it, not necessarily war.The other truth is that the bogey rebels do want to negotiate but on condition Assad goes, while the Syrian government wants to negotiate on the basis: Assad stays.The third fact is that the rebelling Syrians and the Syrian citizens have to fight now not only Assad and his rogue army alone but the Nusra front and the fanatics of every kind, including the Lebanese Hizbullah. What, in my belief, the open letter of Yassin Al Haj Sale is pleading for is not the armed intervention of the US and the West, but the intervention of the intellectuals, the writers, the poets and the opinion makers in order to create a humanitarian front,armed with reason and bound by a code of ethics, thus mobilizing a sort of a public consensus which will pressurize world governments to stop the war in Syria, not fuel it. I believe that he, as a writer of stance with a career of combating tyranny and oppression and as campaigner for free thought, feels that the ax is falling on his beloved country and people so that out of something akin to desperation he thought of trying to appeal to the better nature of the world. This letter is an act of faith.
10 Jul 2013 4:22pm
2Freedom of religious worship in Syria was not the invention of Assad. This is a tradition embedded in Syria’s history. What is true though is that the efforts of Assad are succeeding in turning the conflict in Syria into a sectarian conflict initiating a civil war. Secondly., Assad inherited the republic of Syria from his father Assad senior.The law had to be changed within a disgraceful short period of time in order to grant him the succession. Thirdly, while I was in Syria, the only people who declared their undying live for him were the brainwashed Baathists, the indoctrinated youngsters, the opportunists and the inner circle of profiteers in addition to the loyal security forces.
10 Jul 2013 3:50pm
2I answer you in the words of W B Yeats” The best lack all conviction, while the worst Are full of passionate intensity Forgive me but it will be a waste of my time to try and remove your convictions.
10 Jul 2013 3:15pm
3What was so awful about Damascus was that you could not open your mouth to criticize or say anything that was not in the holy script of the official Baath and the government thinking, without expecting to be dragged into prison. People looked over their shoulders whenever they talked about the abuses of the security system. I lived in fear of my life, living next door to a high government official whom I criticized for abusing his position and confiscating public property, not to mention breaking every rule in the book. I saw younger members of my family tremble with fear whenever they saw me speak openly about the abuses of power . I saw intellectuals hate themselves and what they have become, not daring to own t their thoughts and the deepest of their aspirations. Throughout the night I slept in fear and in the grip of my nightmares lest they break into my house and take me prisoner. must I go on?
10 Jul 2013 2:36pm
2I quote “Yassin al-Haj Saleh – Thank you for your powerful article, sadly the comment section of this paper will not support you or the Syrian people in your struggle to rid yourself of the tyrant dictator Assad – you will find no demands here that Assad step down – there will be no placard waving cif posters pounding the streets in solidarity with the people of Syria – or their ‘lofty’ ‘ Arab’ aspirations of living as free men and women in their own country, what you will find on here is ridicule and disinterest”
Thank you chickpea1. It is with considerable anguish and despondency that many of the Syrians read what the Western newspapers are writing about the conflict in Syria. It is an example of the absurd, as absurd as it can be. The Assad propagandists have won the media war it seems, with the help of so many exaggerated, often self- invented fears. I am ashamed of some of the comments I have read; I am ashamed that some of my fellow citizens have chosen to be frightened out of their wits, rather than seek the facts in context. Burying our heads in the sands is not going to help our conscience or the judgement of history on us, once it is all over. Do we really want to go down in the annals of time as supporters of one of the worst killers in history? Do we really want him to survive and live happily ever after? Do we want a regime whose crimes are reported and documented by the UN and all the Human Rights organizations all over the world, to continue to rule over the wasteland of corpses that Syria has become? This is a country which witnessed the birth of democracy and the body of thought that eventually led to the birth of the Human rights Charter. Shall I name the philosophers, writers and thinkers who shall live for ever in the history of mankind as some of the great liberators of humanity? Shame on us if we are going to let the likes of the Al-Qieda and the Jihadists stand between us and our principles, between us and helping a country to attain its civil rights and freedom. Why do we think that in Syria itself, the fight to oust the fanatical Islamists is not going on, day and knight, that writers like Yassin Al Haj Saleh have not sacrificed everything in order to bring enlightenment and reason to their people and free them from the darkness of ignorance and fanaticism? In helping the forces of reason, free thinking and the call for liberating religion from oppression and the people from tyranny in countries like Syria, we shall be helping ourselves and perhaps we shall also be helping to put the phantom of fanatical Islam where it belongs, in the graveyard of history.
10 Jul 2013 1:45pm
1Thank you. I respect a gracious debater.
10 Jul 2013 1:33pm
3Where did you get your information from, please. The first phase of the Revolution was peaceful and hundred of thousands of people took to the streets. There are some of us who have lived this Revolution minute by minute and documented it by image, word and thought. The Syrians did rise and did rebel, but even this is being taken away from them. History can be twisted and manipulated but there is something called the truth which I hope will withstand distortion and the attempts at changing it. Do you know what hurts me most as a human being? It is the lack of fair mindedness and compassion. The Syrian Revolution was hijacked by the world powers as well as the converging Islamists with their dreams of divine rule. The best of the Syrians are dead now, or as well as dead in countless dungeons. Gone are the youths who had dreamed of democracy, justice and freedom.
10 Jul 2013 1:13pm
7My fellow debaters, shall I tell you something about small, insignificant, beleaguered, much reviled and abused Syria by its own won government and the world at large; Syria a cradle of civilization whose capital is Damascus which was once the seat of an empire from which the civilization of Arab Spain was born, shall I tell you in a few words about what is happening in a country , half of whose population is children? There is one of the dirtiest wars ever, taking place in Syria, even as we speak. The whole world is fighting a proxy war in Syria: the Americans, the West, the Russians, the Chinese, the Iranians dreaming to become an imperial power once more, dragging Hizbullah into the fray, the Arab countries, Shiism versus the Sunnis, the far Left versus the far Right, the fascist forces versus the democratic, The Islamists of every hue and colour converging on Syria like vultures- all of them , all those I have mentioned are presently warring in Syria ,as if the land which gave birth to civilization has become the land where civilization, at least for its people , is on the verge of extinction. The world should be ashamed to watch such a carnage, such an annihilation of man, stone, history and nature without doing anything. The answer in my opinion is a moral as well as a political one. If people take to the streets pressurizing their governments to act not by war, but by a mustering of endeavors to end the war in Syria, perhaps humanity will write a new chapter in global politics.
10 Jul 2013 12:39pm
3*****The writer Yassin Al Haj Saleh “Yassin al-Haj Saleh (born in Ar-Raqqah in 1961) is a Syrian writer and political dissident. He writes on political, social and cultural subjects relating to Syria and the Arab world. From 1980 until 1996 he spent time in prison in Syria for his membership in what he now calls a “communist pro-democracy group”. He was arrested while he was studying medicine in Aleppo and spent sixteen years in prison, the last in Tadmur Prison. He took his final examination as a general medical practitioner in 2000, but never practiced. He has been granted a Prince Claus Award for 2012 as “actually a tribute to the Syrian people and the Syrian revolution. He was not able to collect the award as he is living hiding in the underground in Syria.” Wikipedia The writer is a secularist and an authority on the Islamic movements in the Arab world, especially the MB.
10 Jul 2013 12:24pm
3Politics and power are not usually defined by their principles of compassion or by their ethicality. Yassin Al Haj Saleh is a writer who believes in the higher human values. I think that when he wrote this letter, he was not appealing for the West to muster military intervention on behalf of Syria; rather he was appealing to writers and intellectuals to arouse in the public their dormant, rather, their tired humanity in order to start a civil movement calling for the end of war in Syria. People do count and theirs is the power to tip the balance in favour of stopping the bloodshed.
10 Jul 2013 11:56am
5I have read the comments on Yassin Al Haj Saleh open letter. They vary in their negativity or to a lesser degree in their confusion about the situation in Syria. Some are downright insulting and abusive like the comment of Maurits which I have reported because it does not conform to community standards. I have dual nationality. One being British, and on the eve of the Syrian Revolution, I was living in Damascus trying to make sense of a country I left behind for a long time. During that time in Damascus I suffered as a free thinking individual, I suffered from the terrible oppression of the regime and the loss of all civil liberties; I suffered to the extent which led to sever deterioration in my mental and physical health. I left Damascus unable to walk properly, half blind and mentally and spiritually broken. I was not imprisoned. I just could not understand how the Syrians accepted to live like mindless cattle. Then the Syrians, against all odds, rose confronting the tyranny of their regime. What the balanced, humane and far from sentimental letter of Yassin Al Haj Saleh is trying to say out of personal experience with the present horror and the past horror of the regime, for he was held as a political prisoner without trial for 16 years, is that the Syrians’ quest for freedom is in grave danger from within and from without unless the world intervenes. He did not ask for military intervention, rather, he asked for the lobbying of opinion on the public and popular level to end the bloodshed in Syria. If enough people throughout the world march for ending the war and the bloodshed in Syria, perhaps humanity this time and not the governments of the world can put an end to the tragic suffering of the Syrian people of which half are children.