Marhaba all (Hello Crossers)
It’s good to have music in this mad mad world. It makes us happy or sad or cry or lifts our spirits. It can make us relax. And in this mad world it’s good to relax. So click on this one, and come back to MB.
Read a few blogs on the Syrian crisis of late and decided to write about some conversations MB has had with Syrian friends & colleagues in recent days & weeks.
If you are interested in the Syrian conflict, these are two blogs that might interest you:
First one is from Gypsy and she writes from the practical point of view as a mother to her family, and how to prepare (maybe) for coming doom, that might follow an American attack on Syria:
Second one is interesting letter to Westies:
This week’s pics are flowers & plants from Sri Lanka. It’s good to have flowers & plants.
The world is gone stark crazy. Out this neck of the woods anyway. MB very pleased about the Russian idea to neutralise the chemical weapons. Great idea and let’s hope it comes to pass. There are many versions of the story about the gassing of the districts outside Damascus, but it happened for sure and many were killed, including hundreds of young children. Obama is correct on this issue – it’s a red line. And all parties seem to agree on that. But it all gets a bit blurry after that. Who did what/when/proof/area under control of……./blah/blah/blah. On balance it looks like Syrian army are guilty.
You will hear the figure of 100,000 killed to date in the Syrian conflict. Forget it. It’s closer to 200,000. When all the disappeared and the unidentified are added in it will take you to 200,000, or more. 6 to 7 Million homeless & displaced within Syria, 3M refugees outside Syria including 1M children. So everyone agrees this is bad, but who has a solution? Sadly nobody.
Syrian friend of friend wrote a report recently for the Canadian Government on the eligibility of Syrians in the camps in various countries to apply for Canadian visas. He was distressed in the camps and even more distressed when he was writing the Report as under Canadian law these desperate displaced people do not qualify to get Canadian visas. During his visits to the camps he was regularly offered sexual services by Syrian girls as young as 9 years old. And they weren’t just shooting off. They could describe in graphic detail the services available. And obviously doing so in full knowledge of parents who are in such dire poverty stricken straits that they can countenance their 9 year old daughters earning some money for the family in such a manner. Many of us have kids. Just try to imagine it.
As most of you know MB has been writing about Syria since the whole thing started about two years back. Probably a lot to do with the fact that MB worked with many Syrians in that time and considers many of them friends. Many, if not most, have lost family members or friends during the conflict. Recently one of them lost his elderly father. He was abducted on a street in some Godless Syrian town and was never seen again.
Can you try to get into the minds of the men who saw that innocent harmless elderly man walking down a street and then decide they will kill him. Can any of us living outside the hell that is Syria understand the depravity that a human being can sink to, that he is almost no longer human, and his mentality allows him to make a conscious decision to kill that innocent man. It is beyond understanding.
A number of Syrians have told MB that many of the day to day killings are now being carried out by unknowns. It doesn’t really matter which side you support or don’t support, you can vanish or get killed completely anonymously. And nobody has a clue who took you or killed you.
Spoke to a Syrian friend from Aleppo a few days back who gave MB some new insights into the hell which gets worse by the day.
In the early days of the conflict it was relatively simple, with the anti-Assad Syrians against the pro-Assad Syrians. But now its all very different. Assad’s army with Iranians and Hezbollah fighters from South Lebanon and militia from Alawite areas of Syria & Turkey are now pitted against the anti-Assad forces who are bolstered by thousands of foreign Jihadis who are anti-Assad, and anti-Christian and anti anything that isn’t 100% in compliance with Islamic Sharia law. They have even killed many on their own side for being kafirs (non-believers).
An attack in recent days on the Christian village of Maaloula has enraged the Christian population as reports were publicised that the Jihadis slit the throats of over 30 Christians in the village. This is a village that still speaks the biblical Aramaic language – one of the only places remaining on the planet that does so. Nothing to do with politics or Assad it seems. Just religious bigotry. Or maybe the attack came because Assad & family used to visit the village in days past. Other reports from Maalula give conflicting stories. The BBC is reporting today that fighting continues and the villagers have now all fled to Damascus.
In Aleppo at present it is said that approx 50% of the anti-Assad forces are from Al Nusra Front (the Al Qaeda supported group). It is obviously causing many to despair.
We know that the Christian population in Iraq was halved due to the conflict there. The same no doubt will happen in Syria. My friend told me that the Christian population is now down to 5% of the population when it was approximately 15% only 15 years ago. Many gone to Canada or the Nordic countries who offered asylum.
There is total confusion about the desirability or otherwise of American involvement. Some say it will solve nothing. Others say it might force all parties to the table to make agreement (no hope of that I think), and others say it will make matters much worse. Even those Syrians who are in favour feel guilty about wanting outsiders to bomb their own country, which will certainly result in civilian casualties. And of course many many Syrians can not understand why the West has not intervened long before now. Another Syrian friend said to MB yesterday – “How long must we wait? Until 1M of us are dead?”
So now in Syria there is no good solution, or even no solution. You have the devil on one side and the devil on the other side. That’s the choice. And it’s not that many will sit back and think logically about what might be the best solution or who best to support. The battle lines are already drawn. You will side with your tribe or your ethnic group or coreligionists. And those on the other side have already done the same.
There isn’t even a sliver of light entering the tunnel. It’s a vast sea of blood and gore and death and darkness. And hell. Total and utter hell.
God help Syria.
Great post Mike. Hard to get a full grasp of what’s going on over here. Deplore the likes of Bill Maher who had a full 5 minutes on his show about why America shouldn’t get involved. Never once was Syria or the effects of the torture mentioned. A red line was crossed but still they wait. It’s clear this conflict will not solve itself.
I have many Syrian friends who ask me why the deaths of 100,000 or 200,000 by conventional weapons is not a red line, but killing Syrians by chemical weapons somehow is. I have no answer to that one Sean. Seems many Chechyns, Afghanis, Libyans and other Jihadis fighting on the opposition side which is terrifying the more moderates in the country. Imagine you are a Christian and you are anti Assad, but now you see the opposition will want Sharia law in the country if they win the war. Horrendous situation.
But militarily its not winnable from either side it would seem. Too many numbers on each side and both have outside support which can keep replenishing supplies of cash & weapons & fighters. So the killing will continue ad infinitum. With no end in sight. Hell on earth.
“There isn’t even a sliver of light entering the tunnel. It’s a vast sea of blood and gore and death and darkness. And hell. Total and utter hell.”
How did you manage to squeeze than in between two pretty flowers??
The idea was the flowers would be an ‘opposite’ to the content of today’s very black post. What else to do man!
What an enlightening and sad post. Last year, one of my Palestinian coworkers, a dad to nine, took his month of annual leave to go search for his brother who’d been nabbed off the streets in Syria. Last summer, an employee’s dad flew from doha to check on his house, which had apparently been taken over by rebels. No sooner did he step across the threshold than he was kidnapped and held for ransom for the next two months. He never got the house back, but he did make it out.
The suffering just extends throughout this part of the world and beyond … And as you said, none of the solutions proposed seem like they could actually solve anything.
Your recounting of the young girls offering themselves is so sad, more devastating is that the parents are in the know.
It is just all so, so, so horribly sad.
Thanks for comment Gypsy. Its heart breaking. And to think that only 3 years ago Syria was possibly the most religiously tolerant country in the Middle East. One of my friends grew up in Damascus. He was friendly with a neighbouring family who had a daughter who was a nun in France and son who was a Muslim. The same family! Now its hell on earth. So so sad.
I keep on coming back to re-read. This post is so well-written, and captures the hopelessness that prevails. Can’t shake this one. The devastation is so complete; no one is left untouched.
I nearly did not post it to be honest. Actually thought about deleting it. Very black, and wondered if it was too depressing for people who are reading about Syria daily. Glad in the end I didn’t. But did effect me. So much so that I felt urgent need to write something brighter & lighter – that I sent out 5 mins ago! Thanks for comment Gypsy. Really appreciate it. We can only do our bit to shine a light on what’s happening. So feel free to spread it around/send a link/whatever. Thanks again.