Open Letter to President Obama and the reply to the letter from President Obama

7 September, 2013 This open letter to Obama started in January 2009 and I am finishing it today.

We have a dream, Mr President

As I listened to Obama’s inauguration speech yesterday, like millions and millions of people all over the world, a tiny spark of hope invaded my gloom. Do I dare hope? Do we dare hope? Do I dare dream? Do we dare dream? For we all have a dream. We have a dream that there will be more justice and less suffering; that we shall all be made accountable equally; that we shall all walk in peace and raise our children in peace and when we are old have shelters above our heads in peace. But why do we dare now when we could not before, during the murky years of Bush’s administration? Perhaps there is something in the character of the man that has awakened in us visions of: All men are equal and, in addition perhaps, the impossible vision that all nations are equal and no nation is above the law no matter how mighty and great.  Something in the earnest eloquent spirit of the man is saying to us, it might be, it just might be that a great leader of mankind is in the making. The moral bankruptcy of our world is so dire that there is a sad dearth of leaders of vision. Obama, there is something in the fibre of your voice that carries moral authority. Is this the moral authority of the island or of the continent? I know that I speak a as a poet and as an artist.  I know that I lack political schooling and grooming.  I know that I am naive and in the game of power my voice does not count. Never the less, I believe in goodness, wholesomeness, honour, generosity, speaking up for those who cannot speak for themselves, defending the weak, and most of all I believe in love and life. Will this entitle me to be heard, entitle me to send an open letter to you Mr. President? You declared: We reject as false the choice between our safety and ideals. But what is the definition of ideals? As I reiterate, I ask: are they the universal ideals of mankind, or the ideals of the select and the elite? I am like you, I cannot allow myself to forget the great words of the great poets and teachers of humanity:  No man is an island entire of itself, every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main… You have inherited a bitter legacy indeed. A world at war in many of its parts, a world where many poor and torn countries walk in the darkness inflicted upon them and whose wealth was squandered and economy sabotaged by avarice and greed. Yours is the legacy bequeathed by an unrelenting ruthless administration, that was, which wreaked havoc on a global scale and sawed the seeds of devastation and division, preaching the morality of shame. A network of terrible violence and hatred did come into being because a great nation and its fellow big powers failed to address the roots of violence and to acknowledge the old festering wrongs and wounds. When the greatest powers of the world fail to heal, the results are famine, hunger, disease, massacres, wars and blind insane destruction. Mr. President, I quote you: the time has come to…choose our better history…the God-given promise that all are equal; all are free and deserve a chance to pursue their full measure of happiness. These words which are derived from the Bill of Rights are noble in sentiment and spirit. Only they should not apply exclusively to America and the Western world.  There is a whole world outside which is hungry for justice and clamouring for happiness. You went on to say, Know that America is a friend of each nation and every man, woman and child who seeks a future of peace and dignity.  Do we dare hope that all this we can do, and all this we will do. Mr President, the world can no longer afford to avoid the greatest law of all, the law of moral imperatives. The policies of interests, greed, narrow narcissistic national ambitions and welfare, or the geopolitical policies of world domination and dividing the spoils can no longer hold the world together or ensure peace in the world. Humanity is at the crossroads. I believe the Syrian question is going to be much more far reaching than the Russians, Iran, China or the hesitant nations of the world  would like to confine it to. The one million children refugees outside Syria and the estimated at least 2 millions inside Syria are not going to go away, not to mention that a regime bent on annihilating its people and cities by any lethal means available to it is not going to give up, no matter what wishful thinking about peace the world might harbour. Mister president, the Syrians have a dream that one day freedom will ring from one hilltop to another, from their villages, from their earth and from their skies, that freedom will ring from their sacred olive groves, that freedom will ring from the ruins of the great city of Aleppo, from Homs, Al-Ghouta and the squandered heritage of Syria? They have a dream that they will no longer live in ghettos slums and refugee camps, that somehow this situation can and will be changed., that they will not wallow in the valley of despair forever. They have a dream. The Syrians have a dream that the world led by the United States will act out of compassion and morality, not out of the enshrined principles of self-interest, world domination and exploitation of the weaker nations. The Syrians are not their dictators nor are they Al-Qaeda and associates who have no historical roots in Syria but would like to do so.  Will it one day be said of you: a good man walked among us and we and our world are the better for it.

Alisar Iram British Syrian poet, artist, writer


* Most of the quotations in italics are from Obama’s first inauguration speech in January 2009. The rest of the quotations are from Martin Luther King’s famous speech I have a dream and from the English poet John Donne.


I received  the reply below from the President  to my open letter, via the White House:

The White House, Washington

Dear Friend:

Thank you for writing.  I have heard from many Americans about the conflict in Syria and the chemical weapons attack that took place on August 21, and I appreciate your perspective.
Over the past 2 years, what began as a series of peaceful protests against the repressive regime of Bashar al-Assad has turned into a brutal civil war in Syria.  Over 100,000 people have been killed, and millions more have been displaced.
In response to this crisis, we are the largest donor of humanitarian assistance to the Syrian people.  We are working with friends and allies to help the moderate Syrian opposition, and we are leading the international community to shape a political settlement.  But we have resisted calls for United States military action because we cannot resolve someone else’s civil war through force.
The situation profoundly changed in the early hours of August 21, when the Assad regime used chemical weapons in an attack that killed more than 1,000 Syrians—including hundreds of children.
What happened to those people is not only a violation of international law.  It is also a danger to our security.
If we fail to act, the Assad regime will see no reason to stop using chemical weapons.  As the ban against these deadly weapons erodes, other tyrants and authoritarian regimes will have no reason to think twice about acquiring poison gases and using them.  Over time, our troops could face the prospect of chemical warfare on the battlefield.  It could become easier for terrorist organizations to obtain these weapons and use them to attack civilians.  If fighting spills beyond Syria’s borders, these weapons could threaten our allies in the region.
So after careful deliberation, I determined that it is in the national security interests of the United States to respond to the Assad regime’s use of chemical weapons.  The purpose of this response would be to deter Assad from using chemical weapons again, degrade his regime’s ability to use them, and make clear to the world that we will not tolerate their use.
In part because of the credible threat of United States military action, we now have the opportunity to achieve those objectives through diplomacy.  The Russian government has committed to joining the international community in pushing Assad to give up his chemical weapons, and our countries have agreed on a framework for moving Syria’s chemical weapons under international control so they may be destroyed as soon and as safely as possible.  The Assad regime has now admitted for the first time that it possesses chemical weapons, and even began the process to join the Chemical Weapons Convention, which prohibits their use.
While we have made important progress, much more work remains to be done.  The United States will continue working with Russia, the United Kingdom, France, the United Nations, and others to ensure that this process is verifiable, and that there are consequences should the Assad regime not comply with the framework that was agreed to.
Moreover, since this plan emerged only with a credible threat of military action, we will maintain our military posture in the region to keep the pressure on the Assad regime.  If diplomacy fails, the United States and the international community must remain prepared to act.
We have a duty to preserve a world free from the fear of chemical weapons for our children.  But if there is any chance of achieving that goal without resorting to force, then I believe we have a responsibility to pursue that path.
Thank you, again, for writing.  To get the most recent information about the situation in Syria, visit


Barack Obama


Translation into Arabic by Maher Al Junaidy

Barakصديقتي العزيزة

أشكر لك رسالتك. لقد سمعت من العديد من الأمريكيين عن الصراع المحتدم في سوريّة، وعن الهجوم الذي وقع في 21 آب/ أغسطس بالأسلحة الكيميائية، وأنا أقدر وجهة نظرك.

على مدى السنتين الماضيتين، تحوّل ما كان قد بدأ في سوريّة كسلسلة احتجاجات ومظاهرات سلمية ضد نظام بشار الأسد القمعي، إلى حرب أهلية وحشية. قُتل فيها أكثر من 100 ألف شخص، وتشرد ملايين الآخرين.

في استجابة لهذه الأزمة، كنّا أكبر مانحي المساعدات الإنسانية للشعب السوري. ونحن نعمل مع أصدقائنا وحلفائنا لمساعدة المعارضة السورية المعتدلة، ونحن نقود المجتمع الدولي لصياغة تسوية سياسية. ولكننا قاومنا الدعوات المطالبة بعمل عسكري أمريكي، لأننا لا نستطيع فضّ الحروب الأهلية للآخرين عن طريق القوة.

بيد أنّ الوضع تغير تغيراً عميقاً في الساعات الأولى من يوم 21 آب/ أغسطس، عندما استخدم نظام الأسد الأسلحة الكيميائية في هجوم أسفر عن مقتل أكثر من ألف سوري، منهم مئات الأطفال.

ما تعرّض له هؤلاء الناس، ليس مجرّد انتهاك قانون دولي. بل هو أيضاً خطر على أمننا.

إذا فشلنا في اتخاذ إجراء، لن يرى نظام الأسد أي سبب لوقف استخدام الأسلحة الكيميائية. ومع انتهاك حظر استخدام هذه الأسلحة الفتاكة، لن يجد باقي الطغاة والأنظمة المستبدة سبباً للتردد في الحصول على الغازات السامة و استخدامها. عندئذ، ومع مرور الوقت، قد تواجه قواتنا احتمال الحرب الكيميائية في ساحة المعركة. وقد يصبح أمراً أكثر سهولة حصولُ المنظمات الإرهابية على هذه الأسلحة واستخدامها لمهاجمة المدنيين. وإذا تفشّى القتال خارج حدود سوريّة، يمكن لهذه الأسلحة أن تهدد حلفاءنا في المنطقة.

لذا، وبعد دراسة متأنّية، قررت أن من مصلحة الأمن القومي للولايات المتحدة الرد على استخدام نظام الأسد الأسلحة الكيماوية. بحيث يكون الغرض من هذا الرد هو أن نردع الأسد من استخدام الأسلحة الكيميائية مرة أخرى، وأن نخفض قدرة نظامه على استخدامها، وأن نوضح للعالم أننا لن تتسامح مع استخدامها.

لكن، ثمة فرصة سانحة أمامنا الآن لتحقيق تلك الأهداف من خلال الدبلوماسية، أتيحت في جزء منها بفضل التهديد الحقيقي الذي لوّحت فيه الولايات المتحدة باتخاذ إجراء العسكري. وقد التزمت الحكومة الروسية بالانضمام إلى المجتمع الدولي في دفع الأسد إلى التخلي عن أسلحته الكيميائية، واتفقت بلدانا على إطار لنقل الأسلحة الكيماوية السورية إلى ظل رقابة دولية، لتدميرها في أقرب وقت وبأكثر الطرق الممكنة أماناً. وقد اعترف نظام الأسد الآن، للمرة الأولى، أنه يمتلك أسلحة كيميائية، بل إنه باشر عملية الانضمام إلى اتفاقية حظر الأسلحة الكيميائية، التي تحظر استخدامها.

في حين أننا أحرزنا تقدماً مهما، لا يزال هناك الكثير من العمل الذي يتعين فعله. وستواصل الولايات المتحدة العمل مع روسيا، والمملكة المتحدة، وفرنسا، والأمم المتحدة، وغيرها، لضمان التحقق من هذه العملية، وأن هناك عواقب تنتظر نظام الأسد إن لم يمتثل مع الإطار الذي تم الاتفاق عليه.

وعلاوة على ذلك، وعلى اعتبار أن هذه الخطة لم تنبثق إلا مع تهديد حقيقي بالعمل العسكري، فإننا سنحافظ على موقفنا العسكري في المنطقة لمواصلة الضغط على نظام الأسد. فإذا فشلت الجهود الدبلوماسية، يتعين على الولايات المتحدة والمجتمع الدولي أن يظلا مستعدّين للتصرف.

إن من واجبنا الحفاظ على عالم خال من الخوف من الأسلحة الكيميائية من أجل أطفالنا. لكن، إذا كانت هناك أي فرصة لتحقيق هذا الهدف من دون اللجوء إلى القوة، فإنني أعتقد أن علينا مسؤولية متابعة ذلك المسار.

أشكرك مرة أخرى لمراسلتي.

للاطلاع على أحدث المعلومات بشأن الوضع في سوريّة، تفضّلي بزيارة:

مع خالص التقدير،

باراك أوباما

About alisariram

I am an artist, a writer and a researcher. I know Arabic and English . I am interested in music and art of every description. I like to describe myself as the embodiment of a harmonious marriage between two cultures which I value and treasure.
This entry was posted in Alisar's notes and articles, Obama, Open Letter, suffering, Syria, Syrian people, Syrian regime, Syrian Revolution, The suffering of the Syrian people, US and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Open Letter to President Obama and the reply to the letter from President Obama

  1. Pingback: ردّ باراك أوباما، على الرسالة المفتوحة التي أرسلتها له الصديقة أليسار إرم | ماهر الجنيدي

  2. alisariram says:

    Thank you very much for your kind help Maher Al Junaidy

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