Keep Your Dreams Alive, Keep the Fire Burning
Anton Efendi reports on the aftermath of Pelosi's visit to Damascus, eerily reminiscent of the history of the constructive engagement that was practiced occasionally by liberal western governments towards the Soviet regime. Muhammad Ma'moun Homsi, a former Syrian MP who was imprisoned for five years and fled Syria, wrote a letter to Pelosi warning her that
the idea of engaging such regimes is "a very dangerous proposition cause next will be a call to engage terrorist organizations"
The visit has produced an ecstatic reaction in the peace camp, bordering on orgasm, while sinking many Lebanese blogs in the utter dismay. Shortly afterwards the Economist expressed a view that the regime in Damascus has got a new lease of life and is getting away, breaking its diplomatic isolation. The emboldened regime moved quickly to consolidate the gains.
Since that article came out, the regime seized Homsi's assets, stripping his family of its home ownership, in order to pressure him and his family. That happened the same day Rice met with Syria's FM at the Iraq conference in Egypt.
The latest news came today, when dissident Kamal Labwani, who was arrested in 2005 for meeting with State Department and White House officials to call for democratic and human rights reforms in Syria, was sentenced to life in prison, commuted to 12 years with labor. (And the NYT never questioned the Syrians' bull when they said they sentenced a suspected al-Qaeda member for 3 years!)
This is what you get when you engage Syria: intransigence in foreign policy (a euphemism for the regime's policy of sponsoring terror and destabilizing its neighbors), and wanton brutality domestically, against brave civic and human rights activists.
After Pelosi's visit, the Game is OVER for Syrian dissidents...
A Syrian court on Sunday sentenced two pro-democracy campaigners, Michel Kilo and Mahmoud Issa, to three years in prison each for spreading false news, weakening national feeling and inciting sectarian sentiments.
The ruling brings to four the number of government critics and human rights campaigners to be convicted and sentenced in the last month as Syrian President Bashar Assad continues to crack down on dissent.
The United States has condemned the detentions and trials and has called for the release of Kilo and Issa.
Kilo, 66, is one of Syria's most prominent writers and democracy campaigners. He was detained along with several other activists in May last year, days after he signed a petition calling for steps to improve Lebanese-Syrian relations, a sensitive issue for the government after the Syrian army was forced to withdraw from Lebanon in the wake of the assassination of former Lebanese Premier Rafik Hariri in 2005.
Kilo has long been an outspoken critic of the Syrian government, which tightly controls national politics and often arrests its critics. He has long called for reform in Syria and has criticized the government's involvement in the political affairs of its smaller neighbor, Lebanon.
Well-known for his political analysis, Kilo's writings were frequently published by Lebanese newspapers, including the leading anti-Syrian paper An-Nahar.
Issa is a translator and former political prisoner who previously spent eight years in jail.
More of the same ... Jeha asks Western leaders to spare the monkey ... His call is unlikely to be heard. George Bush's term in office is coming to the end. He is a mere shadow of himself. The neocons' days are over. Pelosis rule the world now.
... And the "Free World" can then learn to accept its sorry fate, as more 9/11’s are visited upon them; the more you give in to authoritarian fanatics, the more they want. Those who need to be convinced of this truth will never understand it.
For them, an Ostrich might as well replace that American bald eagle.
For Arab bloggers who try to remain anonymous, it is getting harder to do so by the day. In Lebanon, some subtle changes appeared lately; it may be that the leash is getting ever tighter, and would have been more so were it not for the diverging agendas of the country's rival services.
The “New Middle East” looks eerily familiar, far too much like the old; Condy Rice's “birth pangs” may actually prove to be the pains that herald the agony of a dream as history's second chance fades away...
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