Adonis Diaries

Posts Tagged ‘Damascus

Syria: Fundamentals of this Land. Part 1

Posted on September 30, 2012

The first part focuses on the fundamental social and geopolitical conditions of Syria and the Syrian people.

The next article will approach pragmatically how the problems in Syria could be resolved, during and after the Assad regime…

1. Syria is Not determined by mountain chains and desert borders.  Syria is its rivers: The Euphrates, Tigre, Al Assay, Litany, and the Jordan rivers.  It is on the shores of these rivers and the Mediterranean Sea that the earliest known urban City-States (dozens of them) conglomerated and traded with one another and the outside world.

2. Syria is also “Arabic”, aside from the half dozen of other “ethnics”. Hundreds of tribes from the Arabian Peninsula settled Syria, many centuries before Islam was disseminated by prophet Muhammad.  These tribes were mostly Christians, the kind of sects labelled “heretics” by the Orthodox Church of Byzantium.  

Many of these tribes were persecuted and they fled to high mountain chains, or retreated temporarily to the desert borders, and fled to the Persian empire (beyond the eastern shores of the Euphrates) in order to sustain their customs and traditions.

3. Those “Arabic/Syrian” tribes converted to Islam, an almost identical religion as theirs, and were the backbone of the “Arabic/Muslim” armies that vanquished Byzantium and swiftly expanded eastward to crush the Iranian Empire and then toward Egypt and northern Africa…

4. The two Islamic Empires of the Umayyad dynasty in Damascus and the western Morocco/Islamic empire located in Andalusia (Spain) confirmed the Arabic nature of Syria and spread the knowledge of sciences, medicine, cosmology and philosophy for over one thousand years, as the dominant civilization in the Mediterranean Sea basin and in Central Asia…

5. Arabic is not just the latest add-on to the Syrian civilization and identity: Arabic is what gave Syria its lasting and defining identity and sovereignty, and the Arabic language was “modernized”, made legible, and acquired its universal appeal thanks to the educated Syrian people. The current Arabic language is fundamentally Syrian, and its ancestor language is the Aramaic and later called Syriac…

6. Syria, including Lebanon and Palestine, is the hotbed of interactions among the three “monolithic” religions (Judaism, Christian and Islam). Without the presence of these 3 religions in Syria, Syria will be lost as a special entity in the Middle-East, an entity of the convergence of their very similar customs and traditions for thousands of years…

7. Most of the ancient myths, mentioned in the Bibles and archaeological documents, originated from Syria, in this rich land of the earliest urban civilization

8. Syria is the land where most of the persecuted religious sects, fleeing the oppression of the dominant religions of the periods, settled on the mountain chains and eked out a harsh living, raising goats and occasionally looting nearby urban centers…

These minorities were ever ready to side with revolts against the pseudo central powers in Damascus, Baghdad, and occasionally Aleppo…Time to deal with minorities as essential in the fabric of the Syrian community

9. Almost all “Warrior Empires” originating in Central Asia, northern Iran, and northern Turkey…loosely occupied Syria, appointing military governors in the conquered provinces, just to collect the tax…

The majority of the urban dwellers accommodated with the invaders, traded economically and culturally, and eventually transferred their culture to the warrior empires.  

It is the Syrian people, craftsmen, architects, artisans, and skilled workers who built the temples, palaces, schools, the infrastructure…in the lands of the invaders.  

The archaeological findings in the warrior empires are the jobs of the Syrian people

Damascus under canon and airplane bombs in 1925: During French mandated power

Note: Re-edit of “In Damascus under the bombs, Year 1925 by Alice Poulleau”  May 19, 2013

In 1925, the French journalist and painter Alice Poulleau finished writing her book “In Damascus under the bombs”, a collection of 3 years of diaries,  and was published in 1926. The book was banned by the French authority in every colony and territories occupied by the French troops. The book was re-published only in 2012.

The Syrians revolted against the French mandated power in 1924-26 and the troops pounded Damascus for 48 hours with heavy artillery shells and air raids. Entire blocks in Damascus were devastated and over 1,500 civilians were killed within 48 hours of insane hatred and arrogance of the occupying troops.

Alice dedicated the book to the mothers in France and Syria who suffer the same afflictions. She blamed the French writers and journalists who never set foot in Syria and never witnessed the calamities and horrible massacres and yet, insisted on diabolizing (devils) the Syrian people, relying solely on the High-Commissariat reports.

The devastation hit the antique and ancient souks of Hamidiyeh, the block of the street of Midhat Pasha, the Via Recta, which was later called “Harika” to being burned to the ground…

It was the French mandated power that incited sectarian passions among the various religious entities in order to divide and rule. The occupation power favored the minorities such as the Christians, the Alawites… in the administrative positions…

Alice worked in the Nile Delta and occasionally pushed forward to discover parts of Palestine, such as Rafah, Gaza, Ludds… and further on into Haifa, Mount carmel…

In 1923, Alice had this revelation to investigate Syria and Lebanon. She visited the Houran province, Damascus, Baalbek, Beirut, Sidon, Tyr, Bissan (south of the Sea of galilee), Samak…

Poulleau was under the spell of so much beauty and mythical environment until she got in contact with her French countrymen, officers and soldiers in Syria.

Her wrath grew by the days against the arrogance and ignorance of her French citizens in Syria.

Her encounters opened her eyes to the calamities that the French brought in into Syria…

As Alice returned to Egypt in 1923, she wrote:

“I had this persistent and strong impression that France never attempted to investigate the level of acceptance of the Syrian people to the mandated power, and simply relied on the reports of the High-Commissariat.

I felt this growing disenchantment and the growling of discontent among the Syrians relevant to the one-sided decisions, mismanagement and high-handed reactions due to their baffling of human rights of the Syrians and their dignity…

This was the reason for me to return the next year 1924 to Damascus and witnessing the slaughter hood two years later…”

Note: More summaries and translation of these diaries will be forthcoming. 1,500 Syrian civilians died within 48 hours of bombing and air raids of the Capital Damascus by the French troops.

For once, burning extremist religious hate books makes sense: Damascus

The religious clerics in Syria ordered the burning of the books and manuals of ISIS and Al Nusra found in re-conquered regions, and the countless fatwa that their clerics have been issuing since 2011, particularly the books of Ibn Taymiya, and Al Jawziyat and Wahhab.

Since 1980, Saudi Wahhabi Kingdom has been printing faked Koran and Hadith and distributing them for free in Islamic countries.

In 1979, over 300 extremist Wahhabis have taken over the Kaaba in Mecca for 15 days and proclaimed their leader a Caliph. The Kingdom was teetering on the verge of collapse. A French special team came to tame this revolt.

And Saudi Kingdom that was opening up its society to modern culture was pressured to revert to its former desert-tribal type of customs and traditions and allowed the Wahhabi clerics to guide the values of its messages and teaching to society.

This revolt is very suspicious since the USA demanded that Saudi Kingdom open up its purse to dispatch extremist Muslims to Afghanistan in order to liberate it from the Soviet troops.

Consequently, for 5 decades now, Saudi Kingdom has been creating religious schools (Madrassat) and mosques all over Islamic countries, by the thousands, and appointing its own kinds of preachers.

الأوقاف السورية تحرق كتب ابن تيمية وابن عبد الوهاب

أعلنت وزارة الأوقاف السورية أن دمشق والغوطة الشرقية أصبحت خالية من كافة الكتب الوهابية والفتاوى التي صدرت عن تنظيمي “داعش” و”جبهة النصرة” الإرهابيين.

العالم – سوريا

أعلن مدير مكتب وزير الأوقاف السوري، الدكتور نبيل سليمان، أن دمشق والغوطة الشرقية أصبحت خالية من كافة الكتب الوهابية والفتاوى التي صدرت عن تنظيمي “داعش” و”النصرة” الإرهابيين، وذلك بعد تنفيذ الجولات الميدانية في كل الأماكن والمناطق التي تم تحريرها من قبل وحدات الجيش السوري.

مشيرا إلى أنه تم البحث في كافة المساجد في الغوطة الشرقية التي كان تنظيما “داعش” و”النصرة” الإرهابيان يقومان باستخدامها كمقرات لنشر الفكر الوهابي من خلال نشر فكر ابن تيمية الوهابي، وسواه ممن يدعون للفكر التكفيري.

ولفت الدكتور سليمان إلى العثور في مناطق الغوطة الشرقية التي حررها الجيش السوري منذ أشهر على العديد من المكاتب والمكتبات والمساجد التي تحوي عددا كبيرا من كتب ابن تيمية، حيث قامت وزارة الأوقاف بمصادرتها وحرقها، خوفا من تسرب هذه الكتب وما تحمله من فكر تكفيري وظلامي، إلى المناطق الآمنة في دمشق وغيرها، مؤكدا بأنه منذ عام 2012 تمت مصادرة كافة الكتب التكفيرية لابن تيمية وكتب ابن القيم الجوزية، وكتب قطب، ومنع تداولها في كافة الأراضي السورية.

وكان وزير الأوقاف السوري قد أصدر تعميما يؤكد فيه على تعميم سابق صدر في عام 2012 تم توجيهه إلى مديري وزارة الأوقاف والمفتين والخطباء وأئمة المساجد ومديري المعاهد والثانويات الشرعية ومدراء المعاهد بالطلب منهم التدقيق والتشديد في كافة مكتبات المساجد والمعاهد والمدارس الشرعية، بحثا عن وجود كتب أو كتيبات وهابية أو فتاوى ابن تيمية ومؤلفاته، ومصادرتها فورا، ومنع تداولها في أي مؤسسة دينية،

والتأكيد على خطباء المساجد والمفتين بعدم طرح أي أفكار، أو إصدار أية فتاوى تستند إلى الوهابية، أو إلى فتاوى ابن تيمية الضالة التكفيرية، وأكد التعميم على رفع الصفة الدينية على كل من يخالف هذا القرار وإحالته إلى القضاء.

وتتعرض سوريا منذ نحو 8 سنوات لحرب ضد “جماعات العنف التكفيري” التي تمارس القتل، وتنشر التكفير في آن معا، حيث شكلت “القاعدة” مجموعات إرهابية مسلحة تحت مسميات عدة، تحمل في طياتها أهدافا مختلفة، أهمها الوصول إلى السلطة لبناء الدولة وفق رؤيتها التكفيرية.

وعمد تنظيما “داعش” و”النصرة” الإرهابيان اللذان سيطرا خلال السنوات الماضية على أكثر من نصف مساحة سوريا، إلى إلغاء مناهج التعليم والتربية، واستبدالها بمناهج وهابية ضمن سياسة واستراتيجية مدروسة تركز على الأطفال لتنشئتهم على الفكر التكفيري، وبالتالي خلق أجيال بأكملها تعتقد بمعتقداتهم وتدين بتعاليمهم، ويستند معظم هذه المناهج على أفكار وفتاوى ابن تيمية وأفكار وتعاليم محمد بن عبد الوهاب.

ويعد ابن تيمية الذي عاش في القرن الثالث عشر الميلادي من أخطر أئمة الفتنة الذين نشروا الفكر المتطرف والإرهابي في الأمة الإسلامية من تكفير المسلمين وغير المسلمين، واستحلال دمائهم وحرماتهم لمجرد الاختلاف على أبسط المسائل في أداء العبادات.

وتتناقل الجماعات الإرهابية والمتطرفة مؤلفاته وفتاويه، وصولا إلى تنظيمي “داعش” و”النصرة” الإرهابيين، اللذين سفكا باسم هذا الفكر وبالاعتماد على فتاويه دماء مئات الآلاف من الأبرياء، مستخدمين أبشع طرق التعذيب والقتل وقطع الرؤوس وحرق الأحياء.

Part 7. How Israel in 1948 committed Ethnic Cleansing of Palestinians, about 400,000 within days in first stage

The Rejection of Palestinian Self-Determination


CIA carried out terrorist bombing in Syria’s capital

The news that the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency carried out a meticulously planned terrorist car bombing in Damascus, Syria, appeared on the front page of the Jan, Washington Post.

It was an outrageous action in the capital of a sovereign state. By all definitions, a state-sponsored car bombing in the capital city of another nation is defined as terrorism.

It doesn’t take much imagination to picture what the U.S. response would be if the scenario were reversed and such an attack took place in Washington, D.C. At the very least, bombs and missiles would fall like rain on Syria.

That the CIA would carry out such an act is hardly a surprise.

In its 7 decades’ existence, the CIA has been responsible for the murder of millions and the destruction of scores of progressive movements and governments in Asia, Africa, Latin America and Europe.

Virtually every progressive leader in the countries liberated from colonialism or neo-colonialism in the post-World War II era has been targeted for assassination by the CIA at one time or another.

From Vietnam to Haiti to Afghanistan and beyond, U.S. clients who had outlived their usefulness in the eyes of Washington were set up for elimination.

CIA engineered or assisted coups in Iran, Guatemala, Congo, Iraq, Indonesia, Greece, Brazil, Bolivia, Chile, Argentina, Uruguay and more, and brought to power regimes that used extreme brutality in the interests of U.S. corporations and local elites.

Organized in 1947, the agency’s first coup was in newly independent Syria just two years later. Its bloody trail confirms that the CIA is the deadliest terrorist organization in the world, bar none.

What was unusual about the 2008 assassination of a top Hezbollah commander, Imad Mughniyah, was the public revelation that the CIA, in partnership with Israel’s Mossad secret service, had carried it out.

While the CIA formally declined comment on the story, the sources for the article were past and present CIA officials, something unthinkable unless approved from inside the agency.

Standard CIA practice has long been to refuse to comment on its coups and murders—and for good reason.

Regardless of whether they are “signed off on” by the president or any other U.S. official, all are blatant violations of international and U.S. domestic laws.

Agency officials seek to maintain a “window of deniability” to protect themselves from possible future legal consequences.

Democratic councils in Syria: In the hands of No belligerent forces?

Have you heard of this cities of Daraya,  Zabadani,  Douma and Barzeha, all suburbs of Damascus? How about Selemmiyeh, Taftanaz, Menbij, Korin, Deraa, Rojava… ?

(I doubt that currently any region or town is Not under the direct or implicit control of a warring faction. Almost all these cities have been under the control of ISIS or Nusra-type factions)

The choices being fought out by Syrians isn’t between the dictator and the jihadists (the two feed each other), but between various forms of violent authoritarianism on the one hand, and grassroots democracy on the other. The democrats deserve our support.

Interviewing activists, fighters and refugees for our book “Burning Country: Syrians in Revolution and War”, we discovered the democratic option is very real, if terribly beleaguered. To the extent that life continues in the ‘liberated’ but brutally bombed areas – areas independent of both Assad and ISIS – it continues because self-organised local councils are supplying services and aid.

Andrew Bossone shared this link

A side to Syria you rarely see, the widespread local councils amid repression and bombing, as explained by Robin Yassin-Kassab

For example, Daraya, a suburb west of Damascus now suffering its fourth year under starvation siege, is run by a council. Its 120 members select executives by vote every six months. The council head is chosen by public election. The council runs primary schools, a field hospital, a public kitchen, and manages urban agricultural production. Its military office supervises the Free Syrian Army militias defending the town.

Amid constant bombardment, Daraya’s citizen journalists produce a newspaper, Enab Baladi, which promotes non-violent resistance. In a country once known as a ‘kingdom of silence’, today there are more than 60 independent newspapers and tens of free radio stations.

And as soon as the bombing eases, people return to the streets with their banners. Recent demonstrations against Jabhat al-Nusra (al-Qaida’s Syrian franchise) across Idlib province indicate that the Syrian desire for democracy burns as fiercely as ever.

After five years of horror, protestors repeat the original revolutionary slogans of freedom and unity. Assad, having no answer to this, bombs the province’s marketplaces in reply.

Where possible (in about 45% of cases), the local councils are democratically elected – the first free elections in half a century. For the poor, these are the first meaningful elections in Syrian history.

A Syrian economist and anarchist called Omar Aziz provided the germ. In the revolution’s eighth month he published a paper advocating the formation of councils in which citizens could arrange their affairs free of the tyrannical state. Aziz helped set up the first bodies, in Zabadani, Daraya, Douma and Barzeh, all suburbs of Damascus.

He died in regime detention in 2013, a month before his 64th birthday. But by then, as the Assadist state and its services collapsed, councils had sprouted all over the country.

Some council members were previously involved in the ‘tanseeqiyat’ committees, the revolution’s original grassroots formations. They were activists, responsible first for coordinating protests and media work, then for delivering aid and medicine. Other members represented prominent families or tribes or, more often, were professionals selected for specific practical skills.

In regime-controlled areas, councils operate in secret. In Selemmiyeh, activist Aziz al-Asaad told us, security constraints meant that the council practised “the democracy of the revolutionary elite” – only activists voted.

But in liberated territory people can organise publically.

Anand Gopal reported in August 2012 that the citizens of Taftanaz had elected professional councils – of farmers, merchants, teachers, students, judges, engineers, the unemployed – which “in turn chose delegates to sit on a citywide council …  the only form of government the citizenry recognized.”

These are tenacious but fragile experiments. Some are hampered by factionalism. Some are bullied out of existence by jihadists.

Menbij, a northern city, once boasted its own 600-member legislature and 20-member executive, a police force, and Syria’s first independent trade union. Then ISIS seized the grain silos and the democrats were driven out. Today Menbij is called ‘Little London’ for its preponderance of English-accented jihadists.

In some areas the councils appear to signal Syria’s atomisation rather than a new beginning, the utter impossibility of reconstitution.

Christophe Reuter calls it a “revolution of locals” when he describes ‘village republics’ such as Korin, in Idlib province, with its own court and a 10-person council, “WiFi on the main square and hushed fear of everything beyond the nearby hills.”

But Omar Aziz envisaged councils connecting the people regionally and nationally, and democratic provincial councils now operate in the liberated swathes of Aleppo, Idlib and Deraa. In the Ghouta region near Damascus, militia commanders were not permitted to stand as candidates. Fighters were, but only civilians won seats.

In Syria’s three Kurdish-majority areas, collectively known as Rojava, a similar system prevails, though the councils there are known as communes. In one respect they are more progressive than their counterparts elsewhere  – 40% of seats are reserved for women. In another, they are more constrained – they work within the larger framework of the PYD, or Democratic Union Party, which monopolises control of finances, arms and media.

The elected council members are the only representative Syrians we have. They, and strengthened local democracy, should be key components in any serious settlement.

In a post-Assad future, local democracy could allow ideologically polarised communities to coexist under the Syrian umbrella. Towns could legislate locally according to their demographic and cultural composition and mood. The alternative to enhanced local control is new borders, new ethnic cleansings, new wars.

At very least, the councils deserve political recognition by the United States and others. Council members should be a key presence on the opposition’s negotiating team at any international talks.

If the bombardment were stopped the councils would no longer be limited to the business of survival. They could focus instead on rebuilding Syrian nationhood and further developing popular institutions.

In the previous decade, ‘democracy promotion’ was sometimes used as rhetorical justification for the Anglo-American invasion and occupation of Iraq.

Of course that didn’t work out very well – ‘demos’ means ‘people’. Only the people themselves can build their democratic structures.

And today Syrians are practising democracy, building their own institutions, in the most difficult of circumstances. Their efforts don’t fit in with the easy Assad-or-ISIS narrative, however, and so we rarely deign to notice.

And Summer is back to Damascus

Mayssaloun N. published a note. April 19, 2010 ·

شكراً فيروز …
وللشام في قلب كل عربي … صيف
في طريقي إليها … لم تكن لي أحكام مسبقة … كانت اللهفة وكان الانتماء …
بادلتني بالحياة وبعطر الياسمين الدمشقي …
أنا لبنانية الهوى … في فضاء رسمته شآم …

“فأنا هُنَا جُرحُ الهَوَى، وَهُنَاكَ في وَطَني جراحُ
وعليكِ عَينِي يا دِمَشـقُ، فمِنكِ ينهَمِرُ الصّبَاحُ”

لم أكن أعلم أن كل طيور الفينيق في لبنان(ي) … صمّ
لم أكن أريد أن أعلم أن كلما صغرت حدودهم … ماتوا
واليوم على بوابتك، دمشق، عرفت جمال عبد الناصر وأنطون سعادة وميشال عفلق وجيفارا والامام عليّ ومحمد الدرّة …
اليوم فتحت الباب … وجدت توما وبولس وحافظ …
اليوم مشيت من ساحة يوسف العظمة نحو ميسلون …
اليوم نظرت من التكية فرأيت يافا … ومن الحميدية رأيت نابلس … ومن أوتيل سميراميس رأيت صفد …
وعدت من الشآم … وفي طريق العودة يافطات كتب عليها: من هنا لبنان … ومن هنا … فلسطين …

“في الشَّامِ أنتَ هَوَىً وفي بَيْرُوتَ أغنيةٌ و رَاحُ
أهـلي وأهلُكَ وَالحَضَارَةُ وَحَّـدَتْنا وَالسَّـمَاحُ
وَصُمُودُنَا وَقَوَافِلُ الأبطَالِ، مَنْ ضَحّوا وَرَاحوا”

أغني معك فيروز … في طريقي من دمشق إلى بيروت
وأقول لكل من لم يعرف … أنظر بعينيك …


Note: Mayssaloun is the town in Syria where a military battle took place between the mandated French troops and the nascent Syrian army that was Not equipp.

Since then, France hated the Syrian people for opposing its occupation for 30 years. France even bombed Damascus for 6 months, with artillery and airplane

And Damascus offers fashion shows













Warring Syria Goes Hungry: Stick Figures, Stunted Growth…

Rana Obaid began her life less than two years ago in a comfortable house draped with roses, the daughter of a grocer locally famous for his rich homemade yogurt.

War and siege brought hunger so quickly to their town near Damascus that when she died in September, at 19 months, her arms and legs were as thin as broomsticks.

 Published this November 2, 2013 on nyt

The New York Times

BEIRUT, Lebanon —

Signs in Moadhamiya (Mo3zamieh?) read, “Kneel or starve.” Suspected cases of malnutrition are surfacing from areas held by the rebels and the government.

In a nearby town, a woman with a son suffering from kidney failure makes her children take turns eating on alternate days.

In a village outside Aleppo in northern Syria, people say they are living mainly on wild greens.

Aid workers say that Syrian refugee children are arriving in northern Lebanon thin and stunted, and that suspected malnutrition cases are surfacing from rebel-held areas in northern Syria to government-held suburbs south of Damascus.

A boy, at a Syrian refugee camp near the border with Turkey, waiting in line for a hot meal, looked inside a tent at stacks of bread. Millions in the war-torn nation are suffering from hunger. Lynsey Addario for The New York Times

Across Syria, a country that long prided itself on providing affordable food to its people, international and domestic efforts to ensure basic sustenance amid the chaos of war appear to be failing.

Millions are going hungry to varying degrees, and there is growing evidence that acute malnutrition is contributing to relatively small but increasing numbers of deaths, especially among small children, the wounded and the sick, aid workers and nutrition experts say.

The experts warn that if the crisis continues into the winter, deaths from hunger and illness could begin to dwarf deaths from violence, which has already killed well over 100,000 people, and if the deprivation lasts longer, a generation of Syrians risks stunted development.

“I didn’t expect to see that in Syria,” said Dr. Annie Sparrow, an assistant professor and pediatrician at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York, who examined Syrian refugee children in Lebanon and was shocked to find many underweight for their height and age.

“It’s not accurate to say this is Somalia, but this is a critical situation,” she said. “We have a middle-income country that is transforming itself into something a lot more like Somalia.”

While the war has prevented a precise accounting of the number of people affected, evidence of hunger abounds.

The government is using siege and starvation as a tactic of war in many areas, according to numerous aid workers and residents, who say that soldiers at checkpoints confiscate food supplies as small as grocery bags, treating the feeding of people in strategic rebel-held areas as a crime. Rebel groups, too, are blockading some government-held areas and harassing food convoys.

But even for those living in more accessible areas, what aid workers call “food insecurity” is part of Syrians’ new baseline.

Inflation has made food unaffordable for many; fuel and flour shortages close some bakeries, while government airstrikes target others; agricultural production has been gutted.

Though the World Food Program says it is providing enough food for 3 million Syrians each month, its officials say they can track only what is delivered to central depots in various cities, not how widely or fairly it is distributed from there.

One aid worker — who, in a sign of the political challenges of delivering aid in Syria, asked that his organization not be identified — said he recently met Syrian health workers who reported a dozen cases of apparent malnutrition in a government-held Damascus suburb. He suspected that the situation could be far worse in rebel-held areas.

Lack of medical care and clean water exacerbates the problem.

So does the fact that Syrians have little experience diagnosing or treating malnutrition. Particularly troubling, aid workers say, are reports of mothers who stop breast feeding, unaware that it is the best way for even a malnourished mother to keep her child alive.

Some aid groups are trying to train Syrian doctors to use simple tools that measure upper arm circumference to assess malnutrition, as convincing data on its prevalence could help spur a stronger international response.

Aid workers caution against overblown claims that could discredit such efforts. Some government supporters even dismissed the images of bone-thin children from blockaded areas as propaganda after several thousand civilians were evacuated from the encircled Damascus suburb of Moadhamiya in recent weeks, looking exhausted, shellshocked and thin, but not on the verge of starving to death.

Mohammad Ghannam contributed reporting from Beirut, and an employee of The New York Times from Qudsaya, Syria.

A version of this article appears in print on November 3, 2013, on page A6 of the New York edition with the headline: Stick Figures and Stunted Growth As Warring Syria Goes Hungry.

Lord Balfour chased out of Damascus

Have you heard of this British foreign minister Lord Balfour? He is the one who promised, in 1917, the Zionist movement to arrange for a parcel of land in Palestine in order for the Jews to emigrate and settle there.

April 9, 1925

Lord Balfour is visiting with the Zionists in Palestinians and is planning to visit Damascus by boarding a well-secure train from Haifa to Damascus, the capital of Syria, that was under French colonial mandated power.

As the train reached Deraa in the Houran province, close to current State of Jordan, the inhabitants converged to have a hostile curious look at this infamous character.

In Damascus, the British consul Smart waited for the train at the town of Kadem and whisked Balfour in a ready closed car so that Balfour is saved from the cursing of the people on his arrival and along the route.

A mass of students were waiting at the hotel Victoria and shouting: “Down with Balfour” and other similar “Enemy of the Arab people”, “lackey to the Zionist capitalists”… The crowd was dispersed.

The masses converged again with increasing violence and the owner of the hotel closed all the windows in order to save the glasses of being broken by the showers of stones.

Orators harangued the demonstrators and were applauded. The Moroccan Spahis (soldiers on horses at the pay of France) dispersed the crowed with their swords  and wounded about twenty.

The people closed the Omayyad Mosque to this intruder. The shops in the souks were closed. A large demonstration was being planned for the next morning.

The gracious Lord was begged by a delegation of wise people for not honoring his presence any longer.

Lord Balfour was packed in a hurry and taken to Beirut, and immediately bordered the waiting ship.  On in the ship did balfour felt in security.

All conquerors of Syria remember Damascus, and balfour was not to forget the sentiment of this welcoming Syrians.

Alice Poulleau recalls in her diary that she was lost in the hills surrounding Damascus on the day Balfour arrived. Her adventure had a very happy ending.

Fellahs (peasants) of Doummar redirected her trip and even hired a donkey cart driver (Arbaji) to take her to Damascus. The Syrian are very hospitable and confident with “good foreigners”

Note: This is one of the diaries of Alice Poulleau in her published book “A Damas sous les bombs” (In Damascus under the bombs) that she finished writing in 1925 and published it in 1926.

The book was banned from all the countries under the French occupation troops, and was only republished in 2012.




November 2022

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