The Little Children Terrorists of Syria

Caution. These pictures of the Houla Massacre are extremely graphic. You can also see more pictures (some that verify the place) here.

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Because these children are part of the international conspiracies against the Syrian regime…

Because these children were fighting firsthand against the regime…

Because these children represented an undeniable threat to the regime’s hold…

Because each breath these children took represented less air to the free Syrians…

Because these children are so useless no one would care about them…

Because these children are so terrifying, they need to be eradicated….

Because these children’s lives are a burden to Syria…

Because these children’s lives are already spent trying to fight the Syrian regime….

Because these children threw stones instead of going to school…

Because these children don’t know the importance of Syria…

Because these children are expendable…

Because these children are useless…

Because these children are little terrorists….

Because these children don’t deserve to live…

Kill them all.

 

Yours Sincerely,

The honorable Bashar Assad

For more pictures, click here.

The Story of a Syrian Boy

This may be fake. His story may not check out. But you know something like this has definitely happened to people at the hands of the tyrant Syrian regime.

Bashar Assad and his father have done similar things to families in Lebanon. Bashar Assad is known to be a tyrant. He’s known to kill defenseless children, such as Hamza el Khatib and many others. So for all matters and purposes, regardless of whether this particular person may be fabricating this story, this is happening to many people like him around Syria, today.

The iPhone is Banned in Syria

It looks like one of the new threats to burden the “lovely” Syrian regime is Apple’s iPhone. As if killing 4000 people, torturing countless more and terrorizing their whole country (and a neighboring country too) wasn’t enough.

But yes, according to this memo from the Syrian General Directorate of Customs, the iPhone has been banned because of its many features. I fail to see how a phone can threaten a political regime but I guess when you’re that insecure, anything goes. Or perhaps the iPhone has some hidden: Topple Regime app.

Check out the memo for yourself.

Myriam Achkar’s Murder: What It is, What It Isn’t And The Need for Foreign Workers Regulation in Lebanon

R.I.P Myriam

Myriam Achkar’s murder earlier this week was truly a horrific crime, the tragedy of which can only be grasped by her family and those who knew her. Earlier in the week, she was a regular 27 year old woman, going about her life normally. She prayed, she partied, she lived her life abundantly.

And then her life was taken away from her by a racist psychopath who happened to be working at the Convent she went to pray at. Very few people can understand losing someone so young so suddenly. But perhaps I can shed a light on that. After losing my uncle to a murder as horrific as this back in 1999, I’ve seen how hard it is for your family to come to grasp with the reality of their loved ones finding this horrible untimely ending, for them to see their body maimed and mutilated almost beyond recognition. Sometimes with death, you find closure in seeing a person’s body be serene and somehow smiling as they pass on. But to know that your daughter’s body has been violated and that her death was not peaceful is something that will haunt Myriam Achkar’s mother and family until the day they join her. And at the end of the day, no condolences can ever be enough.

No, this is not a post to only mourn a person we didn’t know. This is a post by a Christian, who was at times called an angry Christian blogger, to say that Myriam Achkar’s murder was not an act by an anti-Christian Syrian against a Lebanese Christian. Myriam was not killed because she was carrying a rosary and a bible and going to pray. She was murdered because she happened to be at the wrong place at the wrong time, falling to the hands of a sick predator.

I’ve seen Lebanese media go on and on again about how Myriam Achkar is a new martyr on the altars of Christianity. And while the idea does seem pleasing for many, it will only spring up hate and more sectarian divisions in the lines of a country that has as fragile a unity as it can be. Myriam’s death was that of a woman who fell to the pangs of a rapist. Our media tends to overblow things out of proportion by looking at the background baggage that everyone has.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not trying to lessen her murder. If there’s anything we can take out of this death, it’s not that of a Christian martyr, it’s that of a girl whose life must be a lesson to everyone that our borders, our regulations, our laws cannot be as “open” as they are.

First, why is it that this particular convent in Sahel Alma chose to hire a Syrian to be its keeper of the grounds. Couldn’t they have found a needy Lebanese family that would have gladly taken the job? To say that many Lebanese find it beneath them is, based on many observations, a myth. I’m from small-town Lebanon. I’ve seen small-town Lebanon and it is not as high-class as people think all of the Lebanese are. There are Lebanese women who want to work in houses to clean. There are Lebanese men whom you can hire to work in your land. The difference between those Lebanese and the Syrians? We tend to overlook the Lebanese because they are ask for more expensive fees and because the Syrians are more numerous. But should a Maronite convent even care about finances? I, as a Maronite, would be appalled by my Church if it didn’t help out needy Lebanese families, at the very least, to get a job. Couldn’t they have found someone in the neighboring villages of Keserwein to work as the janitor in the Monastery?

Second, why is it that Syrian workers can come to the country as they please, do what they please and then leave? Why is it that many working visas are rejected for so many applicants from so many different countries and yet Syrians can come to Lebanon, unchecked and start working? Why is it that many foreign friends of mine have to struggle to get their work papers in order while Syrians have to do nothing while Lebanese workers who go to Syria have to go through as much red tape as other foreign workers?

Third, why is it that parts of our government are more readily willing to kill off CIA members than to seek out Syrian intelligence filth that are spread all around our nation, causing us more harm by killing our women and men that the CIA has ever caused?
Why is it that the value of Lebanese youth’s life is so lessend by certain political parties in Lebanon that they’d rather smuggle the Syrian who killed Myriam out of Lebanon than to get him to face his crime?

I do not approve of what the people in Ketermaya did to the Egyptian who killed off a whole family last year, by killing him in front of the whole town to see. I do not approve of civilians taking justice in their own hands, as many are asking regarding Myriam Achkar’s murder. But it’s so hard not to ask for that and say they do have a point when the Syrian Intelligence killer was attempted to be smuggled out of the country. It is very difficult to think that this murderer will get preferential treatment, that the life of Myriam Achkar is useless, that her murderer will never face justice – just because you have people INSIDE Lebanon who care more about the feelings of Bashar Assad’s men than about the lives of their fellow countrymen.

Myriam Achkar is a martyr for Lebanon. She is not just a martyr for women around the region. She is a martyr for every Lebanese and a cautionary tale that we really need to stop giving preferential treatment for certain nationalities just because we are neighboring countries while nationals of that country have caused us so much harm. No, it’s not racism. I’m not calling to ban all foreign workers from coming to the country and taking them out of their houses like the municipalities of Burj Hammoud did. I’m calling for limitations, for reservations and for regulations.

Until then, rest in peace Myriam Achkar. That is all we can say to her. As for everyone else, hopefully some new dawn for Lebanon will be one where the struggles of everyone are seen equally. 

Lebanon’s Independence Day

Most countries around the world celebrate their “Independence Day” with ecstatic joy. To all of those countries, it is a reminder of their struggle to break free from superpowers that were using their land, their people, their resources…

In Lebanon, November 22nd has become a national mourning day of some sorts. What are the people mourning? The French citizenship that could have been.

What is the notion of Independence and why do many Lebanese find it easy to ridicule the independence of their country? Contrary to popular belief, I feel proud on November 22nd, just as I feel proud about Lebanon any day. My country has grave flaws but regardless of those flaws, it exists.

The reason it’s so hard for many Lebanese to see their country as independent is because the notion of independence is grossly overestimated. No country in the whole world is truly independent from other countries. Example? The USA has a national debt of over $14 trillion, a big chunk of which is to China. Why do you think the US is struggling to fix its national budget nowadays? To fix the economy? Partly yes. But mostly to lessen this national debt and its dependence on other countries, such as China.

The difference between people in the US and Lebanon is that they have national pride that does not waver while we have a national pride as firm as water. The difference between us and them is that, even though they do have poverty and even though some of their States have horrible internet and even though the 3G provided by many of their carriers is not good, they feel proud to call themselves American. How many of us feel proud to call ourselves Lebanese?

You do know that the problems in countries such as the US, France, Switzerland, etc… are very similar to our problems? You have villages in the United States whose only source of livelihood is the production of crystal meth. You have places in France, like Lebanon, where it’s so corrupt that the police doesn’t dare enter. And then you have Switzerland, a country that, despite the great diversity of its people, managed to find a way to get them to coexist.

The problem in Lebanon? Our problems are magnified because of our country’s small size.

Some of us blame our politicians. We say they got us into this predicament. But simply put, our politicians arise from our society – they are inherently part of us. We voted for them and got them where they are today. But our “Independence” day is not our politicians’ to take. It is for all of us as a nation to celebrate: the sacrifices of our forefathers against the French Mandate to establish the Republic of Lebanon.

Others still call for a French (or any other “decent” country) mandate, wishing we were still under one. You know, if our forefathers found the situation under the French to be absolutely peachy and happy, I’m pretty sure they wouldn’t have fought to get Lebanon out of the mandate. Perhaps you should contemplate what all these superpowers are secretly doing in African countries where their influence is much more penetrating, where they still control national resources and lead the people of those countries to kill each other?

At the end of the day, it is hard for many to see Lebanon as independent because we live in a very, very difficult region. I look around and see Syria where Bashar Assad is killing his people left and right. I look to the South and see Israel/Palestine, both of which want a piece of my land as well and both of whom tried to get it as some point. And then I consider all those Arab countries and see that for a small country like mine, I’m sure of utter importance to them. Why is that? Why is it that many countries around the world can’t wait to get their hands on something related to my country? No, it’s not overwhelming pride. It’s an observation. Perhaps because they know that, as divided as we are, it makes it much easier for them to put their hands on our resources, our people and our land?

Our Independence is wasted by none-other than us: the people who let other countries wage their wars on our land. And amid everything that’s happening in the region around us today, perhaps we should be less critical and more vigilant against all of these countries with messed up systems that are ready to move their fights inside our borders.

You don’t want to call it independence, fine. Call it Lebanon’s National Day. But regardless of terminology, you should at least feel a stinge of pride that you have a country and, despite all its problems and the problems thrust upon it, it exists.

Lebanon’s Syrian Occupation – A Persistent Matter That Should Never Be Forgotten

April 26th, 2005. As those last trucks carrying those Syrian soldiers left our land, many Lebanese drew a sigh of relief. Many thought that chapter of their present was finally going down to the history pages of the books in which it was going to be written. They also wished it would stay there, indefinitely.

What those people didn’t think of, however, was that their struggle with those Syrian soldiers and regime that occupied their land for over thirty years would be forgotten a few months after those soldiers physically left their land. Those people never thought that whenever they spoke about a Syrian occupation of the country, they’d be ridiculed by people. “There’s no such thing as a Syrian occupation. They’re a fellow Arab nation,” is many of the things you’d hear being said. As if them Arabs can never do wrong to Lebanon.

Those who say the Syrians never occupied Lebanon refer to the Israeli occupation of the Lebanese South and suggest that as a model of occupation. So let’s dissect the Israeli occupation of the South, based on what a Shiite Southern friend of mine told me on numerous occasions of what went on with the lives of the people.

Once upon a time, there lived a certain part of the Lebanese populace under the tyranny of a Zionist Israeli regime. They were afraid to go out of their houses after 6 pm because of patrol vehicles that the Israeli army would deploy. The vehicles didn’t usually do anything to them but the idea of them hovering there was unnerving and frightening. Many were forced to work for Israeli companies and, eventually, using the products made by those companies as their source for food, water, etc…

Their cars had special license plates that they removed as they got to Lebanese-Israeli checkpoints and replaced with Lebanese ones to avoid any reactions on the Lebanese side. Those license plates were reversed as they came back through the three hour checkpoint to avoid any repercussions on the Israeli-occupied side. Men, upon turning eighteen, were forced into joining the Israeli army, causing their families to get them to flee to Beirut or other non-occupied areas of the land mostly out of fear of how their sons would be seen after the South was liberated and because they didn’t want their sons serving the enemy’s army.

Their biggest fear was not of the Israeli army per se, but the idea of occupation and having those foreigners be your boss on your land. They were afraid, however, of the Lebanese people who joined the Israeli army and, to signal their power, treated the sons and daughters of their country badly. Israel ran the hospitals, school, etc… that existed in the South, simply because there was no Lebanese State down there. In a way, the occupiers were the people’s providers. The Southerners naturally and justifiably hated that.

The main fear of those Southerners after the Israeli withdrawal from their land was how other Lebanese would perceive them: would they be seen as traitors or would they be welcomed with open arms? Would those Lebanese know that it was really out of their hands or would they think that they were happy with the status-quo of the occupation?

Even after withdrawal the Israeli army kept breaching Lebanese sovereignty via their airplanes, army men, etc…  The Israeli withdrawal was not left as is after 2000 but was tarnished by many displays of force by parties on both sides: Hezbollah on the Lebanese side and the Israeli army on the other one, culminating in the 2006 Lebanon war, of which a friend tells her story here.

And as any occupier does, the borders of “their” territory were planted with landmines and other explosive weapons to deter “outsiders” from approaching.

As you can see from the little anecdote I wrote, the info in which are almost verbatim what my Southerner friend told me, the Israeli occupation can be described as follows: it was a psychologically exhausting experience where you had outsiders ruling your land, taking your men and women to enroll in their army and work in their factories. They took over the hospitals, threatened you via their Lebanese proxies and the combination of every aspect of the situation put the Southern Lebanese into a dilemma of whether they would be welcomed or not.

Now let me tell you what I lived through over fifteen years of the Syrian army occupying my hometown, district and every other part of the country except the Lebanese South.

Once upon a time, as the Southern Lebanese populace struggled with their occupation, another part of the population had a struggle of its own. And I was part of that population. We were afraid to speak out against that army. I remember finding their presence around very peculiar, especially that I rarely saw Lebanese army personnel at the time. But I was repeatedly told not to express my opinion regarding the issue by my parents and every family member who had heard my instinctive self speak out. We also couldn’t formulate honest political opinions, first and foremost because politics was rarely discussed in households mostly out of fear and second because those political opinions were mostly against the army present in your land. Syrian workers, present in a substantial majority all around you, held a power that no foreign worker should have. They walked around as if they owned the place, fueled by the protection they got from having a member of their country’s army present almost everywhere.

We were allowed to roam more or less freely  but we had to go many Syrian army checkpoints along the way to our destination. Now how is that normal? I find Lebanese army checkpoints to be out of place today. How about checkpoints made at more frequent intervals by an army that doesn’t belong there? My grandfather’s ambulance was stopped at a Syrian army checkpoint back in 1987 and didn’t let it pass. My grandfather ended up not arriving to the hospital alive. He was 45.

Many of the Lebanese who lived where Syrian influence was god found it better to leave Lebanon to countries where freedom ruled. This immigration is key to understanding the demographic differences many speak about in the country today: the big Christian minority and the dismal Muslim majority. Christian numbers were decreased through the influence of Syrian occupation over the course of its existence until their say in the country’s affairs was rendered minimal, something we’re still paying the price of today.

Whenever a leader emerged as counter-Syrian, he/she was either thrown in jail, exiled or eradicated. The oppression was so high that most newspapers ran formulated news about how peachy things were. TV networks were not allowed to speak up. Elections were rigged up to points where a dismal 10% Christian participation in the 1992 parliamentary elections was considered by the Syrians to give unearned jurisdiction for their appointed parliament. The political scene of Lebanon was stripped down from any politician who dared speak up. Those who went with the status-quo were given power. Those who did not were silenced. One way or another.

Whenever someone spoke up, they found security personnel knocking their doors down, taking them inside army trucks and taken to Anjar where the Syrian-Lebanese proxies did their work. Till this day, many Lebanese men and women are still missing after being kidnapped by Syrian forces and unlike the Lebanese-Israeli prisoner situation where all the prisoners have been liberated, no one knows where these prisoners are or if they’re even still alive. Many activists were killed for speaking up.

The only breach of Lebanese sovereignty that people speak about is the Israeli one. When Syrian army members cross the border to kidnap Syrians from inside your borders and take them to Syria, no one thinks of that as a breach of jurisdiction. But when an Israeli warplane crosses the Lebanese atmosphere some ten thousand feet up in the air, we throw fists about how that is a breach of our land. Call me old fashioned but I don’t care about an airplane hovering over my land when you have a foreign army crossing into your land on very frequent basis to do military operations and kidnap members of their country’s opposition, which came to Lebanon’s democratic atmosphere seeking refuge. This Monday, November 14th, the Syrian army entered our land and kidnapped a Lebanese citizen. The government said nothing.

As we speak, the Syrian army is putting landmines on its border with Lebanon, especially in the North, to secure those borders. This is happening without approval from the Lebanese authorities and these landmines are being placed inside the neutral region of the border. Lebanese authorities can’t do anything about it.

While Southerners were worried more about Lebanese proxies for the Israeli occupation forces, the same applied for people who lived under the atrocity of  the Syrian authorities in Lebanon. In North Lebanon, Sleiman Frangieh’s Marada ruled supreme. They complemented the Syrian army’s ruling of the land by making up the rules as they want. Their members carried out personal vendettas against people and made it all seem “legal.” My mother almost had a miscarriage when she was pregnant with me when a Marada member entered my dad’s shop and held the gun to his head. No one could have done anything had he pulled the trigger.

As you can see from that little companion to the first anecdote, the other side of the occupation of Lebanon in the later part of the 20th century (and beginnings of the 21st) was very similar to what the Israelis did in the South. The only difference between story A and story B is what my friend Elia eloquently described in a note she wrote as part of a dysfunctional family.

She comes up to her mom, in tears, more afraid of her reaction than she is of the devil that just tormented her. With her choked up voice, she said she was hurt, really hurt. Her mom was concerned, genuinely protective of that teenage spirit. Once mom knew that someone so close, her own brother, had raped her daughter, her mind went blank. Instantly, her motherly instinct was tearing her insides apart. She crumbled in a way she never thought possible, with her mouth open, and her looks hollowed out.

How can someone so close hurt this way?

Furious anger waves soon came over her crashing. She was shouting, boiling. Hot and cold emotions invaded her being so violently that she barely made sense of them. She wanted to voice out her pain, free her weeping daughter from this misery, find the culprit and strangle him with her bare hands…

But her hands were somewhere else. One was holding the poor creature so tight her shoulder went numb. The other was covering the once opened mouth. She wanted her to stop, stop crying, stop telling, stop hurting. She wanted her to be quiet, quiet about her story, her agony, her fault.

You see, the Lebanese population that was under the Syrian occupation is that little girl, the helpless person whose struggle is rarely understood and often ridiculed. After all, how can those Arabs who speak Arabic and eat tabboule hurt a people similarly to those Zionists who speak Hebrew and eat sabich. But what people don’t get is that those Arabs with whom many like to identify as brethren in a cause that knows no identity have done as much. They have killed, tortured, imprisoned, assassinated, terrorized, controlled the way of life and worked at the economic decimation of the region they were occupying – All of Lebanon, minus the South.

For many, the Syrian occupation of Lebanon is not seen as an occupation because many of our politicians (many of which are still active today) were accomplices to their agendas. After all, the president was assigned by an order from Damascus, executed via Anjar, and relayed to the parliament. Parliament members had imaginary ballots cast for them in order for them to hail a previously known victory a few minutes after the polls close.

For many also, the Hariri dynasty is to be blamed for our economic woes. What is not known, however, is that our economic woes start with the political instability that was residual from our civil war and kept floating by the Syrian regime who tore at our every foundation as a nation, taking whatever income the country generated and using it to make their country one of the few on Earth with no debt to any foreign entity.

There are some who said – to my face that is – that “Christians deserved what the Syrians did to them for their betrayals. We need to ally ourselves with the Assad regime like Michel Aoun is suggesting, against the sunni extremists of the region” This post is to that person and everyone who thinks like him. This is to tell him that the Syrians were the one who forced Aoun to stay in France for over fifteen years. But yet again, our working memory as a nation is shorter than that of a fish. How can you ask for an alliance with a leader who’d kill a thirteen year old and send his mutilated body to his parents? How can you hope for the protection of a president who turned one of his country’s major cities, Homs, into a near dead zone and is still wreaking havoc to it? How can you ask to be under the moral auspices of someone whose morality does not stop him from killing over 3500 of his people just because they opposed him? How can you ask for the protection of a ruler whose regime was thrown out of the Arab League by countries whose legacy of political dormancy is their tell-tale?

You see, I’m not saying we suffered more than the Southerners. That is not the point I’m trying to make – not even close. I’m hoping that somehow those who think we had it easy know that it wasn’t the case. They need to know that the Lebanese who suffered under the Syrian rule were as badly hurt as those who suffered under Israeli occupation. There are no superlatives to be used. It is a matter of equality in suffering.

Here’s hoping for a day where, upon writing the history of Lebanon in hope of reaching a state of national conscience, we can look in an objective eye at what everyone suffered and say: we’ve been to hell and back – all of us as a nation, that is. It is only then that we can attempt to consider a solution to our political system. What’s the solution to our political system? Federalism. But that’s for another post altogether.

Lebanon’s New Government

Congrats fellow Lebanese who might read this, we now have a government.
Regardless of its unipolitical color and the 5 month labor it went through to get here, we can now say that we are no longer governmentless.

And since 5 months without government render you immune to the overall uselessness of the whole process, let’s all deem the government formation a big fat fail.

1) It is a one-sided government, meaning the political struggle between both sides in the country was irrelevant to its formation.

2) It took 5 months for people among the same “team” to agree on forming the cabinet. 5 months for them to agree on 30 names. It took less to form the government with both sides included after the 2009 parliamentary elections.

3) The former opposition calls upon itself reform and change. Change is there: I’ve never heard some of those names before. And congrats to those new ministers. They will have a constant monthly paycheck till the day they die. Also, congrats to those people that made the governmental selection yet again. I mean, could you imagine a government without Ghazi Aridi as the minister of public works? Hello no! Reform, indeed.

4) There are more pro-Syria ministers in the new Lebanese cabinet than there will be in the theoretical Syrian government to be formed by Bashar Assad in Syria.

5) A few hours after the announcement of this glorious formation, two ministers have already submitted their resignations. Were they not aware they were going to be assigned? Apparently not. What’s the word (or acronym) to say here? Yes, LOL! Quoting my friend Boulos, “civil war cabinets have lasted more than this!”

It’s getting bigger. The fail is getting bigger.

So yeah, let us be happy today that the orange, yellow, green and other irrelevant people found it in them to stop the cockfight and form a government. Useless as it is and contradictory as it may be to the will of the people, we now have one. Insert fireworks show.