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December 10, 2007



So basically you are happy that you got to meet POTUS and want everyone to know that you're a big man now. Well done.

So he let's you stand next to him for a photo and listens to you, impressing you with his "in depth" knowledge of developments in Syria. Presumably this included the new shanklish factory in Dareyah and Abu walid al humsani's newest recipe.

No Wassim, this is not about being happy or getting big, this is about doing my job and drawing attention to the worsening situation back home in Syria, where the prices of shanklish and hummous are sky-rocketing by the standards of so many people on account of regime's ineptness, if not intentional policies. And then there are the arrests and continuous crackdowns, but you already know about that.

If you think I can be happy in times like these then you must think so low of me, I wouldn’t understand why you would even bother to comment on anything I say or do. And if you think that I define bigness by meeting with presidents, then I could have been really “big” back in Syria and without to having to risk anything or be separated from my friends and family.

I’ll happy enough when Syria is free – yes, I actually believe that. And I’ll big enough, in my own eyes at least, when I know that I have done something to contribute to that.

And yes I actually do know that achieving this “little” dream requires far more than meeting presidents, any president, it is actually about meeting people, isn’t it? Meeting them halfway that is, if not three quarters of the way. And perhaps I am already, more than you think or would like to give me credit…

Thanks for the comment, and good luck with your studies.


I've heard that the polarized relationship Syria has with the rest of the world only validates the regime's claim to being besieged by enemies on all sides, which is used as a pretext to crack down on dissent within the country. Are you of the opinion that this is false?


ويل لأمة تحسب المستبد بطلاً, وترى الفاتح المذل رحيماً"


Oh Ammar !
You went to the boss of the Abu Ghraib torturers and waterboarders to advance democracy (?) in Syria ?
I am SO sad.


Oh Ammar !
You went to the boss of the Abu Ghraib torturers and waterboarders to advance democracy (?) in Syria ?
I am SO sad.


Oh Ammar !
You went to the boss of the Abu Ghraib torturers and waterboarders to advance democracy (?) in Syria ?
I am SO sad.

Ammar Abdulhamid

Crackdowns took place even when Syria's relationship with the world was at its best, even when the new president was seeking and getting world's approval when he first ascended to power back in 2000-01.

As such, we are not advocating isolating the regime, because this will prevent crackdowns, but as an attempt to stop rewarding and reinforcing its behavior by ignoring this issue or dealing with it as an after-thought, as pro-engagement people are want to do.

We cannot afford to be blasé about human rights abuses, not solely for idealist reasons, mind you, but for strategic and tactical ones as well. You see, a lot of people say you cannot just expect the Syrian regime to give you anything before you start talking to it, well, by the same token, the US should not ignore any issue that can be sought to discredit this regime and put pressure on it.

If you want to engage this regime, you need every card you have. Human rights is one important card, and is probably the only one, besides promises of potential economic support, that can earn the US some sympathy from the Syrian people, if played right. From where I stand, playing it right means making it front and center and being consistent about it.

Pro-engagement people need to be the biggest supporters of dissidents and human rights groups, even more than their ideological opponents. Remember Assad Sr. used to support the actions of Hezbollah against the Israelis, even as his officials were talking to the Israelis and the Americans. You should do the same, support the pro-change people, the opposition movements, the independent dissidents, the democracy and rights activists, even as you talk to the regime. And just Assad was both Machiavellian and genuine in his support for Hezbollah (that is he wanted to use the group, but he was also genuinely sympathetic to it for ideological, nationalist and sectarian reasons), so you should be in your support for the pro-democracy forces.

This is how I always understood engagement, and I have always advocated this approach. But the problem is in the way political is carried out in the US, we found ourselves between people who don’t want to talk at all, and that’s the extant of their vision, or people who want to talk as if the Assads were genuine national leaders and statesmen and really represented the interests of the country, and really meant what they said, and as if this whole pesky subject of human rights, is a nuisance at best that should be shoved aside and ignored, and left to some distant point in time, because there are other more pressing issues at hand. There is a complete lack of imagination here.

عزيزي الأردني، معك حق، من أجل هذا نحن بحاجة إلى إيجاد حلولنا الداخلية لمشاكلنا، نحن لم ندع بوش ليأتي إلينا محرراً، بالعكس، لقد طلبنا منه فقط أن لا يدعم مستبدنا.

Annie, don’t be sad my dear. Bush is leaving office in a year and will be judged by history and his people in due course of time for all that he did, bad and good. Meanwhile, he is the elected of the United States and we met with him as such. As for Syria and its current rulers, well, as we have seen from the circus that took place in the country a few months ago, we have a president that has no intention of ever leaving or being held accountable for anything. If we wanted to wait for history to render his judgment in his behalf, our wait could be too long, and our countries could be in ruins by that time.

Ours is a very arduous task and we have to deal with the realities with which we are presented, I cannot forgo the political dimension of this struggle, and sink in sentimentalities, we have to work here just we are working o the grounds in Syria to gather support for our cause. This meeting with the US President will facilitate many similar meetings with US officials, Democrat and Republic alike, it will also help us establish connections with many important foundations and individuals in this country, and abroad. We need that. We can benefit from that. We need to learn how to communicate our message on all different levels and to all different audiences. I am trying to build an institution here. I am trying to do something a little differently. I am not a hit-and-run dissident. I am not an adventurist. I don’t want to continue to improvise as I go along. I have to know the rules. I won’t always by them, if ever, that’s for sure, but I have to learn them. I have to learn how to navigate the maze of Washingtonian politics, if I am ever to navigate my way around the streets of Old Damascus again.

So, don’t rush to judgment Annie. There are enough people doing that already. We are still at the beginning of something, although the end may not so far.


بالعكس، لقد طلبنا منه فقط أن لا يدعم مستبدنا.
unfortunately he[George Bush] will support him and there is a deal going on right now behind the scene.


You sell out piece of shit Uncle Tamim mother fucking bitch.

How dare you go prostrate yourself before that chimpanzee on behalf of all Syrians.

You're just a stupid A-rab, and your only place in this world is as a toilet scrubber for Israelis. The sooner you realize this, the sooner you will understand what Bush was really trying to tell you.

Feel free to sell-out yourself or your family, but leave the rest of Syria out of it, sharrmoota.

Tom Lantos needs a blowjob. Hurry on up, now. Don't leave the old bastard waiting too long or he might send another cluster bomb to Israel with your mother's name on it.


I'll take your word on your intentions, but I don't think meeting Bush was the answer. I don't have a lot of respect for Bono or Geldoff when I see them line up to talk to Bush about Africa and I think you wasted your time. As they say, the road to hell is covered with good intentions and talking to this man or any other ruler of a Western country about human rights is like asking the fox to guard the hen house.


How do you think the Syrian people (presuming they know what you’re doing) will judge you for your meeting with Bush?
You asked Bush not to support our tyrant. That’s fine. But suppose a Saudi dissident went to him with the same demand, do you think he will be as hospitable as he was with you?
Don’t get me wrong, I am not making the ‘two wrongs make a right’ argument, I am just pointing out the flaw in his purported policy. I think you were aware of that already, but you went to meet him anyway.
It is all a power game my friend; you are dead wrong is you think he’s a principled man.


You are risking many things, many things, not the least any credibility the democracy movement has with Syrians inside.

I still can't and will not suspect that we do have the same goal. But this is a much larger mistake than what you did allying with the NSF.

I can't find a single reason why I would want to talk to Bush or Hadley about Human Rights abuses.


بعض المعلقين اغبياء لدرجة كبيرة لعدةاسباب
اولا اذا وجد سوري شريف مثقف استطان لقاء الرئيس الاميركي وشرح له ما يجري في داخل سورية فما دخل السعودية بالامر نتمنى اناه يوما من الايام ان يوجد سعودشريف يلتقي بوش ويشرح له ما يعانيه شعبه النقطة هنا ان السوريين لا يتدخلوا بالشؤون السعودية كل شعب له الحق في شرح ما يعاني هثانيا ان ابوغريب ارحم بكثير الكثير من السجون السورية على الاقل علم العالم كله ما جرى فيه فالذكي الذي كتب عن قضية بو غريب يالته يعمل ويسال ويدافع عن
عما يجري في السجون السورية التي لا احد يعلم ماييجري بداخله ثالثا انا سوري واحترم جدا السيد عمار ومبادئه الشريفة والصادقة ويا ريت في شي 10 مثله لكنا في خيرفهو لا يمسح جوخ للظالمين كما يفعل بعض امثاله الجبناء
رابعا ان ما يجري في لعراق الان اسبابه واضحة فالنظام الايراني والسوري يريدون صفقة من وراء استتباب الامن في العراق
ان الشعب السوري لم يعد يحتمل الفقر والاهانةة والسلب والظلم الذي يسببه هذا النظام


تدافعون عن بشار الاسد الذي يترجى بوش واسرائيل كل يوم لبقائه في الحكم.

Ammar Abdulhamid

Whether we like Bush or not, he is the President of the United States. When you meet with him, you meet with the legitimate elected representative of the American people, there are millions of Americans out there who like him and think him suitable to represent their interests and values. Whether they are right or wrong, meeting their president is a good step towards reaching out to them for understanding and support of our cause.

I have not spoken to Bush on behalf of the Syrian people, and I never claimed to represent them. I spoke to him in the capacity in which I was invited, that is, in my personal capacity. You also have to realize, whether you like it or not, I am not the one who requested the meeting, I was invited, and I saw it as an opportunity to reach out to many. This is what a meeting with elected officials means.

As for the message I am sending to the Syrian people, I have not yet begun addressing the Syrian people, there will be a time for that in the future. Until then, if someone wants to think the worst of me they can do so. I am afraid, I have long reconciled myself to the fact that every action I make in this traitorous course is going to earn me both, criticism and applause on all sides.


"I have long reconciled myself to the fact that every action I make in this traitorous course is going to earn me both, criticism and applause on all sides."

I think you meant to say "treacherous," but had a "slip"

Ammar Abdulhamid

Haha, indeed, but something tells me that a lot of people would like to think of this as a Freudian slip of sorts. Oh well :)



I can not blame you for meeting President Bush... everyone, even Syrian officials would love to meet President Bush.

And I have no problem with your asking the president to raise human rights issues with the Syrian officials that the American administration officials will be meeting with in the future. I even talked to you about exactly the same thing last year.

But ... your visit was promoted by the National Security Advisor Steven Hadley, and Deputy National Security Advisor Elliott Abrams

Nothing good can come out of the efforts promoted by these two ... These are the two of the main reasons why we have chaos in the Middle East and hundreds of thousands of dead Iraqis ... these are the two who keep advising the president not to support the return of the Golan to Syria... because Syria is not a democracy supposedly.

And nothing good will come out of your Neocon-backed activities Ammar. And you are now hinting to good things to come ... how wonderful to know that you got more financial support from those wonderful backers ...directly or indirectly, through the many "Freedom funds".

Maybe you think your efforts will overthrow the Syrian regime? ... no? .. then how do you think Syria will benefit from your re-energized role? ... you will work with Kurdish opposition trained by Mossad agents in northern Iraq to create unrest in Qamishly and Hassakeh? ... You will work with Islamists paid by some Saudi Prince to go out of hte mosque on Friday an call for the fall of the Alawite regime?

And I noticed that your fellow democracy fighter Mamoun Homsy, is now representing the good guys in the democratic Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. He phoned a live LBC show few weeks ago to complain about the shameful acts of the Syrian regime and to apologize to "the kingdom of Saudi Arabia" ... he sounded soooo pathetic that even the Lebanese guests on that program were making faces to the producer to ask him to cut Mamoun off.

And Farid Ghadry who met him earlier this year went to Israel the week after and in off-the-record remarks to some Israeli journalist he was more excited that Mamoun Homsy is supporting him than he was about visitng Israel.

I am sure Syria is proud of the three of you!

Ammar ... the comments you are getting here are the polite version of how most of these people feel ... it is much worse than what you think. By now you only a champion of the angry and negative and revengful ones.

When there is no decent or constructive role to play ... don't play any role. Really, thanks for your intentions but no thanks for the results of your smart Washington alliances.

I expressed the same opinion to you when you joined the NSF at the time.

You still think that it is ok to be alligned with and to work with the devil as long as you both share the same goal... you worked with the brotherhood and Khaddam and now with Hadley and Abrams .. and homsy (and Ghadry indirectly)

Who will you partner with next?


Assuming, like Wassim, the best of intentions, I have to wonder if you must be in denial yourself to have an audience with the President, to present him with this information, and to exhort him to focus on human rights in Syria, as if all these statements and recommendations took place in either a political or historical vacuum. Do you go to the ally of the Jordanian, Egyptian, and Saudi governments for human rights? Perhaps this meeting was out of expediency ("a chance to reach out")--but in the end, I'm afraid, and as the Bush administration and American 20th century history has shown us, in the end, you will be their tool, not the other way around.


I might add, politically, you have become untouchable, and for no good reason either.


it's time for usa and israel to remove the cover from this regime that they have created and protected ,it's enough syria has been exhausted till the core and israel is still lobbying for the asads .

Ammar Abdulhamid

You are becoming extremely good at connecting nonexistent dots and making ludicrous claims Alex. Bravo, and chapeau bas. But for your information, Mossad agents have more recently been busier trying to engage the Assad regime than undermine it in anyway. For they can have no better friends than the Assads. I am also not sure what the Kurds of Syria will have to say about your attitude in their regard. All in all, I am very sure your audiences will appreciate your comments and your style. Kudos.

Yaman, I understand your sentiments, I really do. But, I have to say, political “touchability” is a much more complicated affair. I mean, our network of volunteers, and I repeat, volunteers, is mushrooming in Syria, explain that to me please, anyone.

Also, I am not really expecting support from the President, nor do I really need it. I just argued my case in a manner and at a time that means something to certain audiences. And I think my message has been delivered.

I am not a candidate for anything, Yaman, and popular approval is not something I seek, expect or aspire to. I am just trying to create a certain fact on the grounds, a fact with which everyone will have to contend at one point in the not-so-distant future, whether they like it or not. Why? Because I believe it is necessary. How? Let me just say that when violence takes place, which is very likely unfortunately, we will not be the perpetrators, facilitators, or the planners thereof, Alex’s cheap innuendoes notwithstanding.


It seems to me, though, Ammar, that if you are speaking in the name of democracy, unilaterally creating facts on the ground--from DC--is not so democratic. What I mean by your untouchability is not that you are unpopular by your actions, but that, these volunteers you speak of (who knows what they believe or why they act) will be in great danger precisely because of their connection to you and your connection to the Bush administration. True, they are in a dangerous spot as it is being dissidents in Syria, but by your actions you are taking the only thing they have going for them, which is that they are acting for themselves and for the Syrian people. Your meeting with the President will make it appear that they are doing their work for DC.

I think it is incredibly naive to think that your meeting came about because the President was curious about the Syrian opposition, and not because some other interested party pulled some strings to have the meeting scheduled--in their interests, not yours, or Syria's. I don't see President Bush scheduling meetings with Jordanian or Saudi opposition. I wonder why?

I don't think the 'facts' you are creating on the ground are going to work in favor of democracy activists in Syria. I think they will work against them. The recent series of arrests is a sign of the regime's confidence, not its insecurity.

Ammar Abdulhamid

I understand your point, Yaman, believe me, but we have to think several moves ahead, and I am trying to do that to the best of my ability. I know that the timing of the meeting was meant to serve certain interests, but this will always be the case. There is nothing we can do about that, for now.

Our network will be tested in due course of time I am sure, and perhaps soon. As for working for democracy in Syria from DC, I believe that coordination between the inside and outside is important and will always be. Most of our work is being done in Syria not here.

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