Archive | September 2013

My thoughts on Assad’s Interview with CBS’ Charlie Rose

I watched Assad’s 9/9/2013 interview with Charlie Rose and I noticed a few inconsistencies between Assad’s actions and words. I point them out below. The link to the video is below, if you would like to watch the video before you read it, please do so.

1. Assad was remarkably disrespectful to Charlie Rose, Obama, the American government, and the American people. He said Obama did not know what he was talking about and only operating on claims, that US intelligence has no way of collecting the proof they need to make their claims, and that Obama’s red line is something subjective and that what Assad does in Syria is not his business. He insults the American people by thinking that we cannot see through his rhetoric and by insulting our government and using 9/11 as a way to make us fear intervention in Syria. He also insults the Armed Forces by saying that any attack the US does will not be significant and if done, will only support AlQaeda.

I just want to say, Assad, if you think the American people fear anything, you don’t know who we are. And if you think that we do not have the appropriate intelligence to know the consequnces of our actions and who our strikes would support, you are deluded. We do not fear, we do not back down, and we do not take threats or insults.

2. Assad was inconsistent. First, he acknowledges that he did bomb Ghouta with missiles only. But he also said that his government is against WMDs and that all killing is a crime no matter how it is done. So then why did the regime choose to bomb a civilian suburb?

3. Assad also says that there is no evidence that chemical weapons were used in the area at all. So then why are you blaming it on the rebels?

4. The Assad says that the rebels may have had the chemical weapons, and during shelling, the stockpile was bombed and exploded. But he also says that only the Syrian Army knows what happens in the country because they are physically there. Okay, so why is your intel of what is going on in your own country so poor that you did not know they were there? And why are you STILL UNABLE to give a report about what happened?

5. Assad later claims that if he had no public support from Syrians the country would degrade and his presence would no longer be feasible. Well Assad, the country IS degarding and you are only there because of Russian and Iranian support.

6. Then, he says that outside support would not alone be able to keep him in power, BUT then he acknowledges that puppet governments exist, so why isn’t he a puppet government? Assad does acknowledge that he does get political support from Iran and Russia. Assad also fails to acknowledge the terrorist tactics that can be used to force a people into submission, thats what a dictatorship thrives on. He claims that this maintenance of power is due to popular support and that no country has helped him keep his position. However, I would say that political support is a way to keep a ruler in power. I would also say that terrorist tactics DO cause individuals to stay quiet.

7. When asked whether or not the war is sectarian, Assad flat out says no. However, if that is the case, when why has Assad previously discussed protecting the interests of the minorities, meaning, why does he specifically cite them? Why has Assad claimed that it is him who protected the minorities in the country? Why does Assad work with the terrorist group Hezbollah that blatantly uses religion as an excuse to even exist? Based on these facts, it would seem that Assad cites the minorities to scare them into supporting him by making them believe that they will be at risk without him in power. But how can that be the case if he works with groups like Hezbollah whose entire identity is based on religious identity?

8. Assad says that he will not accept or deny any fact about Syria’s possession of chemical weapons. Yet, he has accepted the Russian proposal to give the chemical weapons back to Russia. Also, if he had nothing to hide, why doesn’t he simply refute the claim especially when the international community is getting ready to bomb?

9. When discussing the 1982 Hama massacre, Assad says that external rebel groups should be dealt with brutally and therefore his father’s actions were justified. However, Assad forgets that the group that rose in 1982 was the Syrian brotherhood, meaning, it was a group of Syrian people who wanted government reform.

10. Finally, Assad says that his government is strongly opposed to using weapons of mass destruction and that killing, even one person, is a crime. So then why has Assad used SCUD missiles on multiple accounts? Why has Assad bombed civilian areas? Why have massacres like the Haloua and Banias massacre occurred?

11. Assad says that there is no such thing as a soft war and that government opposition is terrorism, but he never acknwledges that internal opposition exists, and when he does, he does not say how he addresses it.

So there you have it folks. Assad belittled Obama and US government intelligence, was inconsistent, justified his father’s actions in Hama, and made claims that he cannot support given his inability to properly collect information on the ground, as noted by his inability to provide an answer to the question of who committed the chemical weapons attack, even after the UN was able to collect samples that verified that Sarin gas was actually used. All of this, with the claim that he is “defending” his country. But when, just when, is this what defending your country looks like?

a-syrian-man-cries-while-holding-the-body-of-his-son-near-dar-el-shifa-hospital-in-aleppo-syria-oct-3-2012-the-boy-was-killed-by-the-syrian-army

And of course, you can watch it for yourself here:http://www.cbsnews.com/video/watch/?id=50154704n

Freedom, Oppression, and Experiencing both Simultaneously

Most people would consider me an “activst”. So far, I have raised over 150,000 dollars in aid, shipped 1000 pounds of medical supplies to Syria, raise awareness, and other things.

However, I used to be a runner. And while I am registered for a half marathon, training with a group, and even ran today, I no longer consider myself a runner.

I first started running to feel free. I would run and run and run, no matter the pain, weather, or how tired I was. I ran because when I did, I felt free. Running free made me an awesome runner because I did it with passion and love, passion and love for what I called freedom.

Then, the Syrian revolution happened and I became an activist. There are time where I’ve gone with so little sleep that I’ve started hallucinating, I’ve lost four pounds in a week because of worrying, I’ve cried countless times just wanting to give up, I’ve watched a country fall apart as the rest of the world remained silent, I’ve spoken to people who don’t even know what Syria is, I’ve spoken to people who think Syria is Afghanistan, I’ve yelled, I’ve been angry, I’ve hated, but most of all, I’ve lost my freedom.

You see, my ability to run isn’t remarkably dependent on my fitness level, it is more dependent on my ability to free myself and just run. Now, I am a terrible runner, and I can’t do that anymore. I am no longer free.

I am constantly checking my phone, computer, and email. When I’m not doing that, I am thinking about all of my Syria projects. Every possible action I can do in my day has been consumed by Syria. I think about Syria when I wake up, eat, listen to music, drive my car, visit my parents, watch TV, and when I run. I am constantly thinking about the worst humanitarian crisis of our time.

Oppression is defined as, “prolonged cruel or unjust treatment or control”, and as, “mental pressure or distress”. While I am not in a war zone under constant shelling, thankfully, knowing that there are people dying, starving, being raped, tortured, and shot as we speak causes my great distress. To know that no matter what I do, I will never be able to take away the pain and suffering the Syrian people have felt greatly distresses me. To know there are child amputees who will likely never get a prosthetic gives my great distress. These are things I think about constantly, and so does every Syrian Expatriate.

When the city was Qusayr was lost to Hezbollah, I cried. I didn’t just cry, I blamed myself for it. At some points in the revolution, I was so desperate for a solution that I began to fantacize being kidnapped by the Syrian regime knowing that this would result in me being tortured, raped, and many other terrible things. But I didn’t care. I was so desperate for anything that I thought, “If I were kidnapped as an American, maybe they would speak out, maybe they would come and save the Syrian people”. I was willing to make that sacrifice if it meant that the people of Syria would be saved. But I am also 21 years old. Thoughts like these don’t come to 21 year olds. 21 year olds are supposed to enjoy every second of life, I work and worry every second of mine.

The Syrian people, and non-Syrians who also feel strongly about the revolution, live and breathe the fight for freedom. We have internalized the revolution so much so, that a gain for the Syrian people, feels like a gain for us. A loss for the Syrian people feels like a loss for us. We feel it, we think about it, and yet, anything we do to help is only a drop in the bucket.

We live in a free country where we are free to do whatever we want. So, we have freedom. But, we also live a life of constant worry, sadness, anger, frustration, heartache, and, worst of all, helplessness, held hostage by a regime that is given de facto permission to destroy an entire people and country. You can ask any Syrian if they have sacrificed since the revolution has started, and while they can give you varying monetary amounts, they can all tell you they’ve lost their lives as they knew them before. They will also tell you that they will likely never be able to go back. Because they have seen so much that life will just never be the same. You can’t just see 1000 dead children and go about your life like nothing has changed. And after the war, there is rebuilding, and we will all be there to rebuild. Syria will take up the rest of our lives, and we accept. We want to help a people who have made us who we are today, who have empowered us, who have been so patient while the world has silently watch them suffer and die.

Mentally, we are tired, frustrated, alienated, and disillusioned. So while we live in a free country, we are oppressed by a regime and a crisis happening 11,000 miles away. Every Syrian suffers through this. Every Syrian Expatriate experiences freedom and opression at the same time.