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August 15, 2006



Neighbor, please make up your mind: are the Asads too stupid, too cowardly, or too greedy to rule Syria any longer?


Can't they be all of the above? Hell, they are all of the above.


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Ammar, I have always appreciated your take on things and effort in helping Syria. But I have now been reading you lampoon President Assad to an almost absurd degree for some time now. At times though I wonder just how objective you are in your analyses and how much of your conclusions are based on a more personal animosity to the Assad clan that forced you out of Syria.

The fact is that Assad was exactly right in predicting what would happen in Iraq if America invaded. His stubborn defense and protection of Hamas officials was justified by the result of Palestinian elections. And These are very important issues that Assad got right and the Bush administration was wrong about.

And yet you persist with the 'imbecile' and 'village idiot' jargon. As a result I know longer take much of what you say at face value. Can you remind me in a quick few sentences why he is such an idiot in your eyes? I see the cowardly and greed aspects but lately not so much the stupidity argument. (or if you could point us to the post where you most clearly laid out your case)

I believe Assad is learning pretty well on the fly and is prepared to wait out this idiotic and out-of-step with reality Bush administration. (now if anyone is an idiot, Bush certainly fits the bill. He has spectacularly failed in every single foreign policy aspect of his administration. I am afraid me and other ordinary Americans will be paying for his ignorance for many, many years to come.)

And while I did not hear or read his latest speech yet, one friend in Syria told me he loved it. I think the Syrian people now more than ever are behind Bashar, for better or worse. (and for lack of any kind of alternative)


It's time to open your eyes

By Riad Ali

In February 2005, former Lebanese prime minister Rafik Hariri was assassinated. He was among the leading opponents of Syria and its tentacles in Lebanon, including Hezbollah. Hariri was a multimillionaire and served as prime minister for many years. Unlike any other Arab or Muslim leader, Hariri offered his fellow Lebanese a secular alternative. Under his baton, a different Lebanon arose among the ruins that were left behind by the civil war and the war with Israel. A different, colorful, vibrant, ambitious and politically and culturally pluralistic Lebanon was resurrected. A Lebanon whose daughters could paddle in bathing suits at Beirut's beaches. A Lebanon where the media spoke openly about corruption, incest and homosexuality. A Lebanon that encouraged open creativity, self-criticism and freedom of thought and expression.

And then came the assassination, which more than murdering an individual wanted to slay the alternative he had offered to his people. The assassination, to the grief and dismay of the assassins, brought hundreds of thousands of Lebanese hungry for life into the streets, and at the end of the day, they expelled the Syrian army from their country.

I know that many people in the Arab and Muslim world, including Arab citizens of Israel, believe with every fiber of their being in the conspiracy theory. According to them, the hand of Israel and the West is everywhere. Israel is the mother of all evil and the root of all the problems in our region. I am not among those who say that Israel and the West are as pure as the driven snow, but I ask "the blind by choice" in the Muslim world: Who had an interest in destroying Hariri's vision? Who was threatened by the rays of light that came from Lebanon? Who did not want Lebanon to be an oasis in the heart of the dictatorships, most of which had begun to be moldy and malodorous? Israel, the United States, France, Britain? Or rather Syria, Iran and Hezbollah?

It takes intellectual and moral courage to point to the thick line connecting the assassination of Hariri to the war in southern Lebanon. I know that the fact of the word "Israel" is enough to cloud the analytical abilities of many in the Arab and Muslim world. To them, I suggest trying to take the Israeli factor out of the arena and examining the situation in Lebanon on the eve of Hariri's assassination.

A vehement debate was going on at the time in the country between Syria's opponents and supporters. It was clear as day to many Lebanese that after Israel's withdrawal from the south in May 2000 - apart from the Shaba Farms, assuming they do belong to Lebanon - the time had come to eject the Syrian occupier from there. Yes, it is necessary to call a spade a spade: "the Syrian occupier." Hariri's assassination engendered the expulsion of the Syrian army from Lebanon, but not Syrian influence. Within this puzzle, Hezbollah supported Syria and "the covenant of February 14, 2005," and Hariri's supporters demanded the dismissal of President Emile Lahoud, a supporter of Syria, and the disarming of the Hezbollah. They wanted to continue on Hariri's secular path and build a Lebanon free of foreign influence, a Lebanon in which there is freedom of religion but which is free of the cult of religion and parochialism. In short, a democratic, liberal and enlightened Lebanon.

In the eyes of "the blind by choice," Israel is always to blame. If they were to open their eyes for just a moment, they would discover that in the eyes of Iran, Syria and Hezbollah, the democracy that Hariri proposed is the mother of all evil, and not Israel. As far as they are concerned, it is better that Lebanon be bombarded with thousands of smart bombs rather than be bombed by one smart bomb of democracy. It does not take especially sensitive eyes and ears to determine that the first bullet that was fired in this war was fired on February 14, 2005, the day of Hariri's assassination.

The time has come to admit that the mother of all ills in the Arab world is the absence of a secular alternative that has the power to offer people a different way of thinking. An option that is an alternative to the one offered by political Islam. It is not the Israeli occupation that needs to be ended, but rather the fanatic religious occupation of the Arab-Muslim intellect, which is blocking the masses from the pleasure of thinking.

This is an occupation that makes astonishingly effective use of the term "Israel" as a wonder nostrum to neutralize the capacity for critical vision among the many who have frozen the clock of history at the picture of Kfar Kana, and pointed without thinking in the direction of Israel. The cancerous tumor from which the Islamic world is suffering must be initially sought in the bunkers of Al Qaeda and Hezbollah, and not in the maw of the cannon on the Israeli tank. And no - I'm still not saying that Israel is as pure as the driven snow.

In one of his brilliant comments, Ra'am-Ta'al MK Ahmed Tibi said that Israel is a country that is "democratic for its Jews and Jewish for it Arabs." You know what? My life's dream is to see one Arab country that is at least "democratic for its Muslims, and Muslim toward its minorities." Amen.

Free Man

Thank you Mr.Ammar, it's a great article, I think you should translate it to Arabic and republish it in your Zandaqa blog.

ghassan karam

That the performace was hollow and lacked any substance is to be expected but the format, the format. Even North Korea might have been able to put on a more believable show. What were all these people interrupting to read poetry praising Bashar all about?
The show, and it was a show, was reminiscent of the meetings of the Soviet Union in the 1980's. Was this for real or was it a parody?

Red Tulips

I don't think Assad is necessarily a Village Idiot, but he is dangerous and a horrible leader who needs to be toppled.

Thank you, Ammar, for bringing much needed attention to this issue.

And to anon who thinks that Sharia law would be so great...



It seems that "the complex of village idiots" is still growing in your racist mind.
You can never stop thinking about those who took the place of your "urban" ancestors.
Miles behind what people in Syria really think, you’re just making an imbecile of yourself by writing these stupid insults which you call "articles".


Your use of insulting words and pharses is not appropriate. They are signs of personal anger, hatred, and even discrimination.


Is it not possible that this "personal animosity" against the Assad clan is not the cause of subjective analysis, but the result of years of objective observation? It was only recently that Ammar gave up on the idea that the regime was capable, even willing, to reform itself... he has justified numerous times on this blog why it is not possible to deal cleanly with the Assads, and I think that recent events only reaffirm what he has said.


Ammar, great article and very true.
I am going to write something similar on my blog when I have little more time. Our people in Syria and some of Lebanon are unfortunately blind or they prefer the lesser of 2 evils. But animosity toward Israel should not cause Leaders worshipping.


one more thing, we should learn from Israel how they criticise their leaders when things go wrong...instead of dancing on the victims graves and declare victory.

The rabbit should have stayed in hidding...where was he during the war anyway?

Philip I

New post

Syrian Jingoism hits the stratosphere

Call him a jingoistic amateur if you like, instead of a village idiot, but his policies can only be described as mercenary and reckless in the extreme.

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