The Happy Arab News Service

Monday, June 6, 2011

Roses in the Desert

Update: Vogue removed the infamous eulogy of Asma al-Assad from its site. No worry. Use this link.

The Closet Reformer

April 05, 2007 | Zeina Karam, Associated Press

DAMASCUS -- House Speaker Nancy Pelosi challenged the White House on Middle East policy yesterday, meeting with Syria's leader and insisting "the road to Damascus is a road to peace."

Source: The Boston Globe

April 8, 2010

John Kerry: Syria is an essential player in bringing peace and stability to the region... I am very committed to working on a continued effort to achieve progress in our bilateral relationship.

Source: AP via Haaretz

March 27, 2011
Interview With Bob Schieffer of CBS's Face the Nation

Hillary Clinton: There’s a different leader in Syria now. Many of the members of Congress of both parties who have gone to Syria in recent months have said they believe he’s a reformer.

Source: U.S. State Department

The good old days and the good old friends - Secretary Clinton and Mutassim, one of Gaddafi's kids, otherwise Libyan National Security Adviser

By BASSEM MROUE, Associated Press – Tue Apr 26

BEIRUT – Gunfire reverberated Tuesday in the southern Syrian city of Daraa where the dead still lay unclaimed in the streets a day after a brutal government crackdown on the popular revolt against President Bashar Assad, residents said.

. . .

A Daraa resident said on Tuesday that "dead bodies were still in the streets because no one has been able to remove them."

"We are being subjected to a massacre," the man screamed over the telephone as gunfire crackled in the background. "Children are being killed. We have been without electricity for three days. We have no water."

Making the World a Better Place

(AP) – Mar 30, 2011

DAMASCUS, Syria (AP) — Syrian President Bashar Assad blamed "conspirators" Wednesday for an extraordinary wave of dissent against his authoritarian rule, but he failed to lift the country's despised emergency law or offer any concessions in his first speech since the protests began nearly two weeks ago.

Within hours of Assad's speech, residents of the port city of Latakia said troops opened fire during a protest by about 100 people — although it was not immediately clear whether they were firing in the air or at the protesters. The residents asked that their names not be published for fear of reprisals.

Assad said Wednesday that Syria is facing "a major conspiracy" that aims to weaken this country of 23 million.

Pity a dictator who is running short on excuses to keep shooting people. Fortunately, there are always well intentioned folks around who are only happy to oblige. Perfect timing, Assange!

April 18, 2011 | Gary Thomas

Citing leaked cables released by the anti-secrecy group WikiLeaks, The Washington Post newspaper reported Monday that the United States funneled at least $6 million to the Movement for Justice and Development, a London-based umbrella group of Syrian exiles. The report quotes diplomatic cables as saying some of the funds went to TV Barada, a satellite TV channel also based in London that began beaming anti-government programming to Syria in 2009.

. . .

Murhaf Jouejati, a Syrian-born analyst at the Middle East Institute, says just the news of the funding will give Syrian President Bashar Assad ammunition to try to discredit the growing anti-government movement and stem the protests gripping the country.

"I think that it is significant in as far as the Syrian government is probably going to use this in order to show its people that, yes, not only is this unrest foreign-backed, but foreign-sponsored," said Jouejati.

Source: VOANews

Watching Human Rights in the Middle East

They say the IMF missed the Arab revolution with its upbeat reports about the economies of Tunisia and Egypt. But what do they have to say about this?

So What Was Human Rights Watch Up to in 2010?
Alana Goodman 01.12.2011

In 2010, HRW published 51 documents on “Israel and the Occupied Territories,” more than on any other country in the Middle East. Compare that to the organization’s research on some of the most notorious human rights abusers — it published only 44 documents on Iran, 34 on Egypt, and 33 on Saudi Arabia.

The group overlooks some of the worst human rights abuses in closed countries, like Syria and Libya and Algeria. NGO Monitor writes that “One of three major reports on Israel in 2010 consisted of 166 pages, while ten years of research on human rights violations in Syria produced a 35-page report.” (!!!)

Source: Commentary Magazine

Banner from the Human Rights Watch site

The Fool-in-Chief and the Brotherhood of Arabs

Fri Apr 8

CAMP MAREZ, Iraq (AFP) – US military action in Libya did not set a precedent for future American intervention in other Middle Eastern countries facing uprisings or unrest, Pentagon chief Robert Gates said on Friday.

"What has made Libya unique is first of all a request, which is unprecedented in my experience, of the Arab League actually asking for an intervention in the Middle East, to take on an Arab government mistreating its own people," the US defence secretary said.

Source: AFP via Yahoo News

The Arab League - The ultimate source of international legitimacy

Posted By Colum Lynch | Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Last week, ambassadors from the Arab League issued a letter supporting Damascus's bid for a seat on the Human Rights Council (HRC). The U.N.'s Asia Group had already announced in January its endorsement of Syria's candidacy for the rights council, and the group plans to push for a vote in the General Assembly next month....

"Syria's campaign for a seat on the Human Rights Council is a slap in the face to the victims of the current crackdown, and an embarrassment to those who have supported its candidacy," said Philippe Bolopion, the U.N. director for Human Rights Watch. "By supporting Syria's candidacy, the Asian Group and the Arab League risk emboldening Syria's bloody crackdown and making a mockery of the Human Rights Council."

Source: Foreign Policy

Posted By David Bosco | Thursday, April 28, 2011

Is this the same Arab League whose support of a Libya no-fly zone was treated by the Obama administration and the West generally as legitimizing international intervention there? Could it be that this regional organization was in fact not acting on high principle--or motivated by the "responbility to protect"--but was instead simply seizing an opportunity to skewer the hated Gaddafi? It's safe to say that the Arab League's brief moment of being treated as Fount of International Legitimacy and Gateway to a Security Council Resolution has ended. Now it's back to just being the Arab League.

Source: Foreign Policy

A Rose in the Desert


23.04.2011 @ 10:33 CET

. . .

"Given the level of violence, the EU should impose targeted sanctions against key figures in the regime. Visa bans, asset freezes - no more business as usual, no more glossy spreads in Vogue about Louboutin shoes," Houry said.

Source: EUobserver

Asma al-Assad: A Rose in the Desert
by Joan Juliet Buck | photographed by James Nachtwey

Asma al-Assad, Syria’s dynamic first lady, is on a mission to create a beacon of culture and secularism in a powder-keg region—and to put a modern face on her husband’s regime.

. . .

The 35-year-old first lady’s central mission is to change the mind-set of six million Syrians under eighteen, encourage them to engage in what she calls “active citizenship.” “It’s about everyone taking shared responsibility in moving this country forward, about empowerment in a civil society. We all have a stake in this country; it will be what we make it.”

. . .

The presidential family lives surrounded by neighbors in a modern apartment in Malki. On Friday, the Muslim day of rest, Asma al-Assad opens the door herself in jeans and old suede stiletto boots, hair in a ponytail, the word happiness spelled out across the back of her T-shirt. At the bottom of the stairs stands the off-duty president in jeans—tall, long-necked, blue-eyed. A precise man who takes photographs and talks lovingly about his first computer, he says he was attracted to studying eye surgery “because it’s very precise, it’s almost never an emergency, and there is very little blood.”

The Core Issue

JANUARY 31, 2011
Interview With Syrian President Bashar al-Assad

President Assad: I am not talking here on behalf of the Tunisians or the Egyptians. I am talking on behalf of the Syrians. It is something we always adopt. We have more difficult circumstances than most of the Arab countries but in spite of that Syria is stable. Why? Because you have to be very closely linked to the beliefs of the people. This is the core issue.

Source: WSJ

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Proclaimed un monstruooo muy monstruoso at 10:32 PM