Syria Regime Change
2005 "ARAB SPRING I"
2011 "ARAB SPRING II"
Part 1: Faking the Case Against Syria
In 2000, he and neocon Daniel Pipes composed the policy paper "Ending Syria's Occupation of Lebanon: the US
Role" and together co-author the Middle East Intelligence Bulletin. The bulletin is a project of the neocon Middle East
Forum and is a frequent resource for American intelligence agencies. On November 2, 2005 Abdel Nour updated me on the Syrian
crisis by phone.
Once Rafiq Hariri was killed,
the gate to Syria swung open.
The CIA and Mossad have also long used Kurds to
target nations in the region. Journalist Jack Anderson wrote in 1972 about Israeli envoys delivering $50,000 a month to Kurdish
leader Mullah Mustafa Barzani to destabilize Iraq. In March 2004, this writer was approached in Damascus by Kurds from Qamishli
and Hasaka (one whose brother was arrested in the riots) wanting to "thank Bush for helping us get rid of Assad".
News accounts later verified that the chaos up north had been orchestrated by the US and Israel, using Turkish and Iraqi Kurds.
'Protesters' at the height of the melee even waved posters of President Bush and American flags. The ringleaders were sponsored
by the Department of Defense and the US State Department. "Let the Damascus spring flower, and let its flowers bloom,"
said Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice. So sprouted another color catastrophe -- Syria's "Jasmine Revolution".
UPDATE: Around 6 months later, the attempted regime change aimed at Syria via Lebanon was waged right on cue via Israel's attack on Syrian ally Hezbollah.
Part 3: The Salvador Option in Beirut
"The only prospect that holds hope for us is the carving up of Syria... It is our task to prepare for that prospect. All else is a purposeless waste of time." -Zionist militant Zeév Jabotinsky, From "We and Turkey" in Di Tribune, November 30, 1915
"We should prepare to go over to the offensive. Our aim is to smash Lebanon, Trans-Jordan, and Syria. The weak point is Lebanon, for the Muslim regime is artificial and easy for us to undermine. We shall establish a Christian state there, and then we will smash the Arab Legion, eliminate Trans-Jordan, and Syria will fall to us." -David Ben-Gurion, From "Ben-Gurion, A Biography" by Michael Ben-Zohar, May 1948
"It is obvious that the above military assumptions, and the whole plan too, depend also on the Arabs continuing to be even more divided than they are now, and on the lack of any truly mass movement among them... Every kind of inter-Arab confrontation will assist us in the short run and will shorten the way to the more important aim of breaking Iraq up into denominations as in Syria and Lebanon... Syria will fall apart." -Oded Yinon, 1982. From "The Zionist Plan for the Middle East"
"Regime change is, of course, our goal both in Lebanon and Syria. We wrote long ago that there are three ways to achieve it- the dictator chooses to change; he falls before his own unhappy people; or if he poses a threat to the outside, the outside takes him out..." -Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs (JINSA), From strategy paper #474 "Priorities in Lebanon & Syria", March 2, 2005
From mission statement to mission accomplished, the slam dunk cakewalks continue. But from Baghdad to Beirut, the forgery looks the same.
Unlike Iraq, there is no "weapons of mass destruction threat" to facilitate toppling the Syrian regime. This time a United Nations Tribunal could provide the means, deploying Lebanese Prime Minister Rafiq Hariri's murder as the weapon. But like the US show trial to convict Saddam Hussein, the show trial to convict Syria for Hariri's murder, built by the United Nation's International Independent Investigation Commission (UNIIIC), has a history of problems.
Several of the UNIIIC's prime witnesses have admitted to perjury, accusing the US-Israeli backed Lebanese government of bribery and foul play. Witness Hussam Taher Hussam claimed Future Movement MP Saad Hariri (son of former Prime Minister Rafiq Hariri) offered him $1.3m USD to incriminate top Syrian officials. Witness Ibrahim Michel Jarjoura said he was assaulted and forced to lie by Lebanese Telecommunications Minister Marwan Hamade. Star witness Zuhir Ibn Mohamed Said Saddik, who had accused Lebanese President Emile Lahoud and Syrian President Bashar Assad of ordering Hariri's murder, bragged of earning millions by falsely testifying to the UN Commission. Though much of their discredited testimony is still included as evidence, both UNIIIC prosecutors Brammertz and Mehlis said that the use of lie detector tests was not an option.
In his country, Mehlis has been rebuked for unethical and unprofessional practices. According to Germany's Junge Welt magazine, former UN investigator Detlev Mehlis received a $10m USD slush fund to rig the UNIIIC outcome against Syria. An inquiry by German public TV Zweites Deutsche Fernsehen found that Mehlis had relied on CIA, MI6 and Mossad intelligence in prior investigations, namely the Berlin Disco bombing of the 1980s where Mehlis knowingly used testimony supplied by Arab Mossad agent Mohammad Al Amayra in his case against Libya. Mehlis also relied on NSA intercepts of fake telephone calls that former Mossad officer Victor Ostrovsky revealed were made by Mossad agents, posing as Arab terrorists. The phone calls proved Libyan guilt and justified America's bombing of Libya.
In the Hariri case, German critics claimed "the choice of Mehlis was done because of his links to the German, American, French and Israeli intelligence agencies." Lebanese news source libnen.com, and Le Figaro confirmed that the British MI6 and Mossad have been supplying much of the UN Commission's intelligence.
When Mehlis resigned in disgrace, the UN hired Belgian prosecutor Serge Brammertz at Mehlis' recommendation. But Brammertz could also be vulnerable to US pressure if he assembles a verdict not to America's liking. Under Belgium's Universal Competence Law, Belgian legislators charged US Centcom General Tommy Franks, President George W Bush, VP Dick Cheney and Secretary of State Colin Powell with war crimes in Iraq. In 2003, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld threatened to pull NATO headquarters out of Belgium if the prosecutions commenced. Shortly after, the Universal Competence Law was dropped.
At the UN, Brammertz told me questions about similar US retaliation against his country regarding an unapproved Hariri outcome were not relevant and were "unhelpful."
But much of the questionable case built by Mehlis has been retained by Brammertz. Though Brammertz's secretive style preempts most outside debunking of questionable evidence, it is clear that fundamental issues remain unresolved. Brammertz's latest UN report estimates that TNT and RDX explosives were used. But military experts and vehicle manufacturers claimed that blast damage to Hariri's heavily armored Mercedes had the distinctive 'melting signature' incurred by high density DU munitions. Israel's recent attack on Lebanon destroyed that evidence, by contaminating the crime scene with American DU-tipped GBU-28 bunker buster bomb residue.
It is also not certain where the explosion that killed Hariri was detonated. French experts assessed it was underground because the blast had cracked the foundations of adjacent buildings, manhole covers on the street had blown off, and asphalt was propelled onto nearby rooftops. After it was found that an underground explosion would not implicate Syria- but rather certain pro-US/Israeli Lebanese government officials who had supervised road work in the days before Hariri died- the focus shifted to an above-ground blast via suicide bomber.
Then in a psyops setup reminiscent of the Pentagon's Al Qaeda cutout Abu Musab Al Zarqawi, (who terrorized the length and breadth of Iraq with a wooden leg), several UN reports feature a 'Zarqawi-inspired' suicide car bomber, Ahmed Abu Adass as the killer. 'Martyr' Adass's video confession debuted on Al Jazeera Bin Laden-style, with all the requisite hoopla. But according to Reuters and ABC News, the "Syrian-coerced" car bomber had never learned how to drive. (3/4/05)
America's United Nations Ambassador at the time, John Bolton, who usually criticized the United Nations as "irrelevent," praised Mehlis, Brammertz and the UNIIIC investigation's "great work" saying "the substantial evidence speaks for itself."
But the irrelevant evidence Brammertz refuses to speak of could prove far more substantial. Last June, the Lebanese Army discovered several networks of Arab mercenaries sponsored by Israel's Mossad conducting terrorist attacks and car bombings connected to the Hariri assassination.
Israel National News "Arutz Sheva" reported that Lebanese Foreign Minister Fawzi Salloukh was ignored when he protested to the UN about the discoveries. (6/25/06) The US Ambassador to Lebanon Jeffrey Feltman, who helped manufacture the Cedar Revolution through the American Embassy in Beirut, then threatened Lebanon with "very grave consequences" and a boycott of foreign aid if Salloukh filed a formal UN complaint about the findings.
Despite Feltman's ultimatums, Lebanese Military Investigating Magistrate Adnan Bolbol was to begin questioning witnesses over the Mossad assassinations in mid-July. On July 11, the Lebanese opposition publicized its demand for a United Nations Security Council Resolution against Israel, as well as a full inquiry into the Mossad's Arab-camouflaged spy killings.
Responding within hours on July 12, Israel hastily retaliated with a full scale attack on Lebanon using the Hezbollah border kidnapping as pretext.
Did the war on Lebanon cover up exposure of a "Salvador-style" slaying of Rafiq Hariri and and the other assassinations blamed on Syria?
Using the Salvador Option against Syria had first been raised by Newsweek and the London Times in January, 2005. After Hariri's death on February 14, Hariri's long-time personal advisor Mustafa Al Naser said: "the assassination of Hariri is the Israeli Mossad's job, aimed at creating political tension in Lebanon." (Asia Times 2/17/05) The Sunday Herald of Scotland hinted at a US role. "With controversial diplomat John Negroponte installed as the all-powerful Director of National Intelligence, is the US about to switch from invasions to covert operations and dirty tricks? The assassination of the former Lebanese PM has aroused suspicions." (Sunday Herald 2/20/05)
Fred Burton, Vice President of counter-terrorism at Stratfor, was also suspicious. Burton, who spent over 20 years as a counter-terrorism expert at the US State Department and the Secret Service, has investigated most terror attacks against US Embassies abroad, as well as the first World Trade Center bombing, and the murder of Israeli PM Yitzhak Rabin. Stratfor's Burton also specialized in Syrian terror operations and methods. He rejected both Syria and Hezbollah as the perpetrators behind the Hariri killing. "Syria lacks the finesse," and the "complex nature" of the remote-control technology needed to implement "the surgical nature of the charge" are beyond their capacity, he insisted. "This is not their style... and Hezbollah would not have this capability." (UPI 6/27/05)
According to United Press International, Stratfor's report on the Hariri crime concluded that the Lebanese assassinations were "so sophisticated that few in the world could have done it." Burton told UPI that only five nations had such advanced resources- Israel, US, Britain, France and Russia. "This type of technology is only available to government agencies." Burton then asked: "Suppose that these bombings were 'merely collateral'? That the true target in the plot is the Syrian regime itself? If Damascus were being framed, who then would be the likely suspect?"
"Israeli intelligence is standing behind this crime," claimed German criminologist Juergen Cain Kuelbel. In his book "Hariri's Assassination: Hiding Evidence in Lebanon" he wrote: "Syria is innocent and has nothing to do with that crime or the other assassinations." Kuelbel discovered that the jamming system used to disable the Hariri convoy's electronic shield was manufactured by Netline Technologies Ltd of Tel Aviv, an Israeli company co-developed with the Israel Defense Forces and Israeli law enforcement agencies, and sold through European outlets. The UNIIIC dismissed Kuelbel's findings as "ridiculous" and irrelevant.
But two months after the Hariri convoy was destroyed, Israeli-manufactured weapons began to appear near the homes and neighborhoods of politicians in Lebanon. On April 14, 2005 UPI reported that Lebanese security forces had discovered six Hebrew-inscribed mortar shells manufactured by Israel on a deserted beach near the the southern Lebanese village of Ghaziyeh.
Similar missiles and dynamite were also found along a road frequented by Hezbollah officials, and on December 10, 2005 four anti-tank rockets attached to wires ready for detonation were found planted on the road leading to MP Walid Jumblatt's Muktara Palace.
In February, 2006 Lebanon's Daily Star and An Nahar reported that Hebrew-marked 55mm, 60mm and 81mm rockets were discovered close to MP Saad Hariri's Qoreitem estate. Similar rockets had also been uncovered near the Majdelyoun home of Saad's aunt, legislator Bahia Hariri near Sidon.
While the pro-US/Israeli 'March 14' government automatically blamed Syria for the findings, one of several Israeli spy rings were captured trying to assassinate Hezbollah Secretary General Hassan Nasrallah. AFP sited nine "well-trained, professional" paramilitaries who were intercepted with an arsenal of B-7 rocket launchers, anti-tank missiles, pump action shotguns, hand grenades, AK 47 rifles, revolvers, silencers, computers and CDs.
Then in June 2006, Mahmoud Rafea a mercenary from the South Lebanon Army, (created by Israel during the civil war with $10,000 bonuses), was caught on camera after car bombing two members of Islamic Jihad, the Majzoub brothers. Israel's ynet.com reported that Rafea confessed to committing the Majzoub slayings for Israel's Mossad, as well as to a number of other high level assassinations.
Israeli website DEBKAfiles said that Rafea had assisted "two Israeli agents [who] flew into Beirut International Airport aboard a commercial flight on false passports three days before the Majzoub brothers were assassinated." They "replaced a door of the brothers' car with a booby-trapped facsimile" and left the country after an Israeli airplane "detonated the planted explosives with an electronic beam." (Daily Star, 6/20/06)
Mahmoud Rafea, who was trained in Israel, also confessed to distributing bombs and ordnance to various locations around Lebanon to destabilize the country. A raid of Rafea's home yielded high tech Israeli surveillance gear, fake passports, IDs, and appliances and baggage with secret compartments, and detailed maps of Lebanon.
But Rafea's network was only one among several. Lebanese Internal Security Forces are still searching for a different spy ring led by another Arab Mossad agent, Hussein Khattab. The Times of London wrote: "In a bizarre twist, Hussein Khattab, a Palestinian member of the spy ring, who is still at large, is the brother of Sheikh Jamal Khattab, an Islamic cleric who allegedly recruited Arab fighters for Al Qaeda in Iraq". (6/15/06)
Equally strange, Hussein Khattab's brother Jamal and his colleague Sheikh Obeida (mentioned in the UNIIIC report as head of Al Qaeda's Jund Al Sham) frequently met with the Zarqawi-inspired Hariri suicide car bomber Ahmed Abu Adass in the Ein Hilweh refugee camp of Lebanon. (Like Israel and the US, Zarqawi and Osama Bin Laden demanded that Hezbollah be disarmed.) Israel National News "Arutz Sheva" (12/10/06) later wrote that "the US has been talking with Al Qaeda-sponsored terrorist groups in Syria in an all-out effort to topple the regime of President Bashar Assad".
In early January 2007, AP and the UK Telegraph reported that the CIA had begun covert operations in Lebanon using Arab proxies. During the riots in Beirut on January 20-22, a US proxy, the Progressive Socialist Party, distributed US weapons to fighters dressed as opposition Hezbollah/Amal supporters. The riots were then blamed on the opposition.
Comparing the Hariri car bombing to the mysterious car bombings in Iraq, Asia Times said: "What remains is the evidence of Baghdad in Beirut... The iron-clad certainty, on both sides [Sunni and Shia resistance in Iraq], is that these have been perpetrated not by "terrorists" as the US claims, but rather by Israeli black ops or CIA-connected American mercenaries, with the intent of fueling tensions and advancing the prospect of civil war. Now if only someone would come up with a Beirut smoking gun."
"The Gun" -as Meir Dagan is nicknamed- could be it.
Israeli website DEBKAfiles wrote that the above-named South Lebanon Army mercenary Mahmoud Rafea, had been assassinating/spying in Lebanon for Israel since 1989 when he was recruited by current Mossad director Meir Dagan.
In 2002, Meir Dagan was reappointed by Ariel Sharon to reprise the Mossad's covert operations in Lebanon, notably targeted killings abroad. Coinciding with Dagan's appointment, official Israeli policy was expanded to allow assassinations in friendly ally nations (including the US) using Kidon death squads from the Metsada Division. It was a job for which Dagan had ample experience. (The Australian 9/24/04 & UPI 1/15/03)
Under Ariel Sharon in 1970, Dagan commanded a secret assassination unit of the Israeli Security Agency called Sayaret Rimon that eliminated over 750 Palestinians in the Gaza Strip. In 1982, he helped command Israel's invasion of Lebanon. His main assignment was to manage undercover infiltrators, and to train Lebanese collaborators for the pro-Israel South Lebanon Army.
Dagan commanded the Lebanon Liasion Unit (Yakal or Yaagal Border Unit) which was notorious for its cross-border raids into Lebanon to kidnap opponents, as well as its secret prison Camp 1391, where detainees were tortured and disappeared. Haaretz alleged Camp 1391 was the prototype for America's Guantanamo facility.
Dagan also operated the IDF Military Intelligence Unit 504, whose expertise was assassination, sabotage and spy running in Lebanon. The Israel Defence Forces call such spy saboteurs "Mista'aravim"- "soldiers disguised as Arabs". Used for clandestine reconnaissance and to frame enemies in false flag operations, these IDF soldiers impersonating Arabs and their proxies are "trained to act and think like Arabs" and to blend in to the target population with appropriate manners and language. (In 2002, this writer encountered such Israeli 'student' at AUB who claimed to be in Beirut "learning to think like 'the enemy'".)
One Mista'aravim specialty is the donning of Arab garb. In 1973, Israel's "Spring of Youth Operation" conducted by the IDF Sayaret Matkal in Beirut included future Prime Minister Ehud Barak dressed as an Arab woman while conducting death squad hits. Mista'aravim provocateurs camouflaged as Palestinians are still used in the West Bank and Iraq. Jane's Foreign Report said Mossad's Dagan had advised US officials in September 2002 on how Israeli special ops could help the US war effort in Iraq. Mista'aravim methods were exemplified in Basra where British SAS troops dressed as Arabs in a vehicle loaded with explosives were seized before detonating a car bomb. According to Israeli intelligence expert Ephraim Kahana, Sayaret Matkal is modeled on Britain's SAS. (Historical Dictionary of Israeli Intelligence)
Mista'aravim also specialize in close quarter urban combat using micro-Uzis, short-barreled M-16s and sniper rifles. Due to fluid street and residential changes, these teams rely on satellite photos and real-time drone imaging- like the complex technique used in the killing of the Majzoub brothers, where overhead drones monitored ground activity via cameras mounted on nearby objects- a level of capability not possessed by Syria.
Concerning the 2006 Lebanon War, DEBKAfiles boasted of other Israeli Mista'aravim successes: "two spy rings of Lebanese agents which the Israeli Mossad" operated had "planted bugs and surveillance equipment at Hizballah command posts before and during the war. They also sprinkled special phosphorus powder outside buildings housing Hizballah's war commands and rocket launchers as markers for air strikes. Well before the war, the Beirut ring had penetrated the inner circles of Hizballah and was reporting on their activities and movements to Israeli controllers... Run by veterans of the South Lebanese Army (the force Israel created during its occupation), its job was to "paint" targets for the Israeli Air Force and artillery." DEBKAfiles claimed that Lebanon was "heavily penetrated by agents working for Israel intelligence."
One Lebanese in particular, General Adnan Daoud, even appeared on Israeli televsion smiling and drinking tea with IDF soldiers while taking them on a four hour tour of his military base in Marjayoun. An hour after the Israeli soldiers' departure, IDF bombed the Marjayoun site. (AP/Jerusalem Post, 8/7/06)
Regarding yet other Mossad agents DEBKAfiles wrote: "Hizballah's security officials detained two non-Lebanese Arabs wandering around the ruined Dahiya district, taking photos and drawing maps. Several forged passports were in their possession."
All factions concerned with the Hariri killing- the UNIIIC, Stratfor, Hezbollah, Syria, the US, Israel and the Lebanese 'March 14' movement, agree on one thing- the Hariri perpetrator also carried out the other 22 assassinations, and possibly more. Lebanon's Daily Star quoted the FBI: "the same explosive was used in Hawi, Kassir and Hamade crimes" as that used against Hariri. On May 27, 2006 the Daily Star revealed that the killers of Hariri and the Majzoub brothers could be the same: "Internal Security Forces, forensics experts, judiciary police and members of Hizbullah's security apparatus inspected the blast site shortly after the bomb detonated. The shrapnel and iron balls found extensively around the explosion indicate the bomb was a specialized mine to assassinate individuals, and it is similiar to Hawi and Kassir's explosives."
Sources in Lebanon and at the UNIIIC in New York concluded that the same party responsible for Hariri's death and the other Lebanese assassinations also committed the Majzoub killings. In June, Mossad agent Mahmoud Rafea admitted killing the Majzoub brothers for Israel.
But such irrelevant evidence has been deliberately ignored by the UN International Independent Investigation Commission. At the United Nations, this writer questioned various officials over a period of months about a possible US-Israeli role in Hariri's murder, and if it was being investigated by the UNIIIC. Prosecutor Serge Brammertz stated that because the issue wasn't raised by the US/Israeli-backed Lebanese government, that line of enquiry would not be pursued. It seems only facts supporting a guilty verdict against Syria will be considered.
"As far as Israel is concerned, it would be difficult to imagine a more convenient scenario. Its stubborn enemies, Iran and Syria, are now being accused by the international community, one for its nuclear program, the other for its behavior in Lebanon... Israel has hoped for this outcome since the 9/11 terror attacks in the United States in 2001. Immediately after the collapse of the Twin Towers, Israeli officials began to speak about the anticipated change, and expressed a hope that the United States would bring order to the region, and would deal with Iran, Syria, Hezbollah, and not only Iraq." -Aluf Benn, Haaretz, October 25, 2005
From Baghdad to Beirut, the democracy dominoes keep falling. After Syria, an Iranian "Shah and Awe" forgery is the next imminent threat.
On February 1, 2013 a UN based TV progam called "Heat in the Middle East" of ICastNews interviewed me on the Syria situation. What in my opinion did I see as the next big development in Syria? According to military sources, UN contacts, Syrians inside Syria and research from the region I assessed that the next big turning point in the crisis would be a coalition campaign to frame Syria for WMDs like they did with Iraq. In fact I projected a date for the 'trigger event' - the 10th Aniversary of the 2003 second Iraq War on March 20.
On March 19, Western jihadis set off the first major sarin attack in an Aleppo area town called Khan Al Assal, killing Syrian troops and civilians. Assad's government immediately demanded the UN investigate. Because the attack could easily have exonerated Syria and implicated Turkey and its western backed "rebels" the international community found every excuse not to investigate the WMD attack. To the present, this opening event of the west's fake WMD saga has remained ignored by press and officials.
I pointed to incoming weapons/jihadis being transported on NATO planes to Incirlik for insertion into Syria. We also discussed CIA's training of a mass Mujahedin Islamic army to overthrow Syria using the 1980's model from the Afghanistan war with USSR. In 2014, ISIS emerged "out of nowhere" like a fully formed monster. The Salvador death squads invasion had begun.
Syria Under Renewed Threat of US Attack
Sept 6, 2013 by Trish Schuh WBAI
UNITED NATIONS Vowing to defy the American public, Congress, the United Nations, the Vatican and international law by illegally attacking a fellow member state, Team Obama says "yes we can."
After the UN Security Council refused to authorize heightened punitive action against Syria in past days, US Ambassador to the UN Samantha Power indicated that America had given up hope of a UN endorsement of its coming military attack, and would not seek UN approval if America bombs Syria over unconfirmed allegations it used chemical WMDs on August 21 outside Damascus.
By ignoring an ongoing UN weapons inspectors' investigation of US claims, Power recreated America's behavior in the run up to the Iraq War when the Bush administration dubbed the United Nations 'irrelevant' for not endorsing its illegal invasion in 2003. The Bush administration attacked Iraq anyway, ignoring the fact that UNSCOM inspectors had found no WMD threats in the country. The UN assessment later proved accurate.
US Ambassador to the UN Samantha Power, who packages herself a 'humanitarian' interventionist ala' Rwanda, speaks for an American system whose conservative Bush-era 'War on Terror' regime-change scheme was refurbished under the liberal Obama administration as the second 'Arab Spring' (a term first deployed, then retired after Bush's failed Ceder Revolution of 2005). Under cover of "democracy", Obama's 'Arab Spring' revival has successfully destabilized Bush's MENA targets and ransacked Islamic countries, continuing Bush's genocide against Muslim people.
While dismissing the international community in her recent UNSC comments to the press, Ambassador Power referenced NATO's 1999 Kosovo intervention model as an alternative to abiding by the UN Charter when taking military action. It was NATO's Supreme Allied Commander during that Kosovo bombing, now-retired 4 Star General Wesley Clark, who revealed the coming Bush/Obama agenda back in 2002. General Clark told of the days immediately following 911 at the Pentagon and of Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld's plan to rearrange the region (in what later emerged was part of the neocon's Greater Middle East Project Initiative GMEPI). Clark quoted a DOD "memo that describes how we’re going to take out seven countries in five years, starting with Iraq, and then Syria, Lebanon, Libya, Somalia, Sudan and, finishing off, Iran.”
Syria is the lone Democracy Domino that just wont topple.
This writer asked Martin Nesirky, spokesperson for UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon if the world was in for a repetition of spurious, politicized double standards to justify another regime change invasion as happened before the Iraq War in 2003? "There was supposedly sarin gas released in Bahrain during the Arab Spring there. There has been white phosphorus used in Fallujah. There's been napalm in Iraq and Depleted Uranium all over... why arent these other transgressors being given equal attention?... Do the standards only apply to Syria?"
Nesirky said it was "a very good point" and one reason why the UN report would be scientifically and forensically safeguarded for accuracy and impartiality. "This is a scientific investigation taking place involving experts in their respective fields, and involving- when it comes to the testing of the samples- laboratories that are specificially designated under the framework of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons. And in addition, the provisions of the Secretary General's mechanism are very specific about how you guarantee the chain of custody."
Such accountability could be at the heart of US Ambassador Power's ire aimed at the UN. Representing the only country to have used atomic bombs on another country, Power blamed the UN for its "2 1/2 year failure" to discipline the next Arab target, Syria: "The system devised in 1945 precisely to deal with threats of this nature did not work as it was supposed to."
Power omitted that a cornerstone of the UN system's 1945 mandate was to prevent any repetition of her own country's nuclear disaster in World War ll when the USA dropped atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Japan, killing several hundred thousand civilians. As spokesman for the "Nobel Peace Prize President", Power's war advocacy also disdains the UN's mission to do away with war in favor of negotiations and international peace.
Ironically, Power's criticism of the UNSC coincided with informal meetings of the UN General Assembly and the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty to mark observance of the International Day against Nuclear Testing and other meetings on nuclear non-proliferation/nuclear-weapons-free zones. The CNTBT is the only treaty banning all nuclear tests, whatever the environment and in all civilian and military applications. Though adopted in 1996 by the UNGA, the United States has not ratified it.
While accusing Syria of WMD use, Power declined to address America's two-decade long poisoning of Iraq with next-generation nuclear WMDs begun during America's 1991 Desert Storm invasion: Depleted Uranium. The UN's IAEA has amassed incontrovertible documentation of the devastation caused by DU. Western experts say the birth defect rates in Iraq are 14 times higher than that of Japan after the WWll nuclear attack, with many defects so unprecedented that they still lack medical terms to describe them.
As for Ambassador Power's Kosovo intervention model? When the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) research group coordinated the UN investigation into the effects of Depleted Uranium in Kosovo, the US and NATO blocked the inquiry.
It is fair to conclude that Syria's DU struggle will be no different and no less dangerous than its predecessors. The current UN inspectors in Syria should be testing for DU as well as sarin gas, since the US and its neo Coalition-of-the-Willing publically admit backing, training and arming the "rebels" and Al Qaeda. Do these include DU tipped rounds?
There is plenty of evidence, including outright admissions by the rebels themselves, that mercs sent in to destabilize Syria were the ones to use WMDs- of whichever sort. The Bush-era Smoking Gun has become Obama's Mushroom Cloud.
Sept 13, 2014 by Trish Schuh WBAI
UNITED NATIONS Syrian President Bashar Al Assad marked his 48th birthday on September 11 by committing
to join the Chemical Weapons Convention supervised by the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons. The decision
came on the heels of a Russian initiative to prevent threatened US/French airstrikes against Syria in retaliation for Syrian
troops' alleged use of WMDs on August 21.
While the world breathed a sigh of relief at a war averted, machinations
inside the UN present a more complex picture.
Despite a UN investigation whose forensic inquiry was unfinished
(and purportedly unviewed by him), UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon told a closed meeting of the Womens International Forum
(press forbidden), that the report's findings were "overwhelming" against Assad. Ban Ki-moon said Assad "carried
out many crimes against humanity" and insisted there had to be "accountability". On UNEZ TV, he spoke of Syria's
use of chemcial weapons adding: "I can't say it publically." Inner City Press, who broke the
story, got inconclusive answers when it asked UNSG spokesman Farhan Haq if Ban Ki-moon had leaked the report to France, since
French media were full of similiar "findings" long before the embargoed report's completion or release.
It may further be asked: If France
had such insider access, did they also have a role in slanting the report's intelligence?
France, who has been among the most vocal proponents for funding,
arming and training foreign extremists and Al Qaeda Jabhat Al Nusra mercenary forces to overthrow the Assad government, has
issued several statements by Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius and French President Francois Hollande and their jihadis. Evoking
the Iraq War, they called for a binding UN resolution allowing force if Syria does not disarm. "It is vital the threat
of force stays on the table. For a (UN Security Council) resolution to be anything other than a get-out-of-jail-free card
for the regime, it must be enforceable under Chapter 7," allowing military action.
On September 13 Secretary of State John Kerry told CNN: "We
may still have to strike Syria" irregardless of its adherence to the chemical weapons treaty, and an unsourced Wall Street
Journal piece emerged claiming Syria's elite Unit 450 — which is in charge of securing, mixing, and deploying chemical
munitions — "has been moving stocks of poison gases and munitions to as many as 50 sites to make them harder for
the U.S. to track". A reprise of charges leveled at Saddam's Elite Republican Guard?
Are preparations for use of force against Syria already under way? Word around the UN is that the Department of Peacekeeping Operations (DPKO) is already engaged in planning for the aftermath of a US Coalition strike on Syria. (This writer has spoken with active duty US servicemen in Kansas and Missouri on standby for deployment to Syria.)
Could the French again have advance information? Herve Ladsous, a career French Foreign Service diplomat who was appointed by Ban Ki-moon at the height of the 'Arab Spring' campaign as UN Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations would be chief coordinator of any such UN post-war operations in Syria. UNSG spokesman Farhan Haq stated that such UN activities are routine contingency preparations.
Flimsy UN Report Supports Western Agenda
Sept 21, 2013 by Trish Schuh WBAI
UNITED NATIONS Syria successfully met the first deadline of the Chemical Weapons Convention today by detailing its arsenal to the UN-backed Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons. Under duress of air strikes by member states France and the US over unproven charges it fired sarin gas against civilians, Syria has agreed to open chemical stockpiles to international inspectors by November, with a mid-2014 target date for final weapons eradication.
France, UK and US will continue to push for a Chapter Vll resolution at the UN General Assembly next week, which would
allow military force if Syria is noncompliant to the OPCW treaty. US President Barack Obama has announced the right to attack
Syria with or without a UN mandate if he so chooses, and NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen reiterated Friday that
all "military options against Syria are still on the table."
Presumed justification for such actions was heightened by the September 16 release of a UN investigation report deemed by UNSG Ban Ki-moon as "overwhelming" proof of Syria's "crimes against humanity" and culpability. At noon briefings, UNSG spokesman Martin Nesirky also repeatedly called the UN team's outcome "overwhelming" and "indisputable."
Using implication, disclaimers and omissions, the UN report's fine
print reveals crucial discrepancies.
Chief among the disclaimers were the "limitations" mentioned
in Appendix 5, of crime scene contamination: "The sites have been well travelled both before and during the investigation.
Fragments and other possible evidence have clearly been handled/removed prior to the arrival of the investigation team."
It also states: "During the time spent at these locations, individuals arrived carrying other suspected munitions indicating
that such potential evidence is being moved and possibly manipulated."
Of equal concern, was the UN's omission of its own earlier results. Echoing the Hariri investigation used to target Assad in 2005, evidence contrary to a 'guilty' verdict against Syria has been ignored. After a March 2013 sarin incident in Khan Al Assal, the UN's Carla del Ponte commission found that western-backed jihadis were behind the detonation of the chemical substances- not the Assad government. Her findings were discredited and then unobtrusively 'disappeared'. The UNSC took no further action and Syria did not threaten air strikes against the Coalition of the Willing.
With UN inspectors on the ground in Syria, I asked the UNSG spokesmen if the UN team would question rebels who confessed and bragged about setting off the chemical attacks in Ghouta to journalists inside Syria? Would the UN interview the families of the gassed children featured so widely in western media? I explained that pro-Assad Alawite families had begun identifying their missing children from the TV coverage, saying many of them had been kidnapped from the Latakia coastal area around August 11 by rebel groups. I also asked UN spokesmen about Turkey's arrest of insurgents with sarin in their homes last May?
"We will have to wait for the report" they said.
But the UN report says nothing
about these testimonies.
In tandem, US Ambassador to the US Samantha Power seized on the
outcome's grey areas to circumstantiate Assad. "Now it is very important to note that the regime possesses sarin, and
we have no evidence that the opposition possesses sarin". Military and intelligence experts have assessed since 2012
that Al Qaeda has WMDs- including sarin. Numerous rebel youtube videos have also portayed it, including experiments using
At the UNSC stakeout Ambassador Power, while speaking of the Ghouta sarin gassing,
unwittingly implicated America by referencing "the largest gas attack since Halabja" Iraq under Saddam Hussein.
She stated that the WMDs used in Damascus were of a higher quality than Iraq's, so they had to come from Syria -which implies
that a third world country has WMD manufacturing capability superior to the top western laboratories in the world. This reporter
inquired of Ambassador Power: "Who supplied Saddam?" No answer.
Have rebel mercenaries
in Turkey and Syria, been supplied with chemical weapons by the west (through a Saudi conduit as some sources allege)? Or
even America itself? In the 1980's, the US Dept of Commerce ok'd the sale of WMDs to Iraq by the American Type Culture Collection
in Rockville, MD. Activists and proliferation experts at the time claimed some of these toxins found their way into use against
the Kurds- as well as against Iranians in the Iran-Iraq War.
At the UN, Syrian Ambassador Bashar Jafa'ari told me it is a scenario they hope to prevent. For over a decade, Syria has publically advocated for a Nuclear-Free/WMD-Free Middle East, stating that its weapons were a deterrant against Israel's nuclear capability. In other moves toward rapprochement, Syria's Deputy Prime Minister Qadri Jamil called for a general ceasefire and for the postponed Geneva ll peace conference to take place.
But western-backed Al Qaeda mercenaries have rejected both the UN-US-Russian chemical weapons deal for Syria and the Geneva conference. Al Qaeda commander Qassim Sa'ad Ed Dine said: "Let the Kerry-Lavrov plan go to hell. We will not protect the inspectors or let them enter Syria."
2013 by Trish Schuh WBAI
A wider Syrian conflict has been contained, for now. The recent signing of a United Nations Security Council resolution
to dismantle Syria's chemical weapons under the OPCW has been hailed as a triumph of diplomacy and international law over
the dogs of war, halting overt French-US military strikes against Syria.
French weekly Le Nouvel
Observateur recently revealed President Francois Hollande's planned September 1 air strikes against Damascus and various chemical
weapons sites across Syria. According to the news outlet, France's 3:00 am attack was scheduled for the middle of the night
while most Syrians slept, to avoid civilian casualties. To hide Turkish involvement, Rafael fighter jets with Scalp cruise
missiles would be directed to navigate Mediterranean international waters, firing on Syrian targets from outside Turkish airspace.
Le Observateur said French government officials had also been supplied with statements and declassified documents
against Bashar Assad's government to face off the world press afterwards.
Then, only hours before launch on August 31, US President Barack Obama called off the Hollande plan by deciding to consult Congress first, as well as the UN Security Council.But as the official UNSC negotiations progressed, covert unofficial diplomatic strikes were lobbed against Syria instead. Led by France and supported by Secretary General Ban Ki-moon and the UN body, the road map for a Syrian coup d'etat was pushed forward during the UN General Assembly in New York.
On Sept 26, the eve of UNSC Resolution 2118's much-touted passage,
member state France hosted a closed, 'tickets only' event at ECOSOC chambers in the UN Secretariat to recognize the arbitrarily
annointed Syrian government-in-exile- the Al Qaeda/FSA/Muslim Brotherhood "Opposition" headlined by Saudi protege'
Ahmed Al Jarba. Despite the "Opposition" being comprised of terrorists from nearly 90 countries, France and other
officials stood on the dais, brazenly declaring them "the only true, legitimate representatives of the Syrian people".
Photos and questions were not allowed.
Imputing faux legality to the gathering, France claimed the "Ministerial Meeting of the Group of Friends of Syria" had almost 100 General Assembly countries' representatives in attendance, imputing its ratification as the new Syrian government. Merely a United Nations rogue contingent supporting a veritable United Nations of Terror?
Since the 'Arab Spring' invasion began in 2011, the UN General Assembly has voted on several occasions to condemn the Syrian government, and for Assad to step down. Most recently was May of 2013, soon after UN expert Carla del Ponte's preliminary findings assessed that western-backed rebel forces used sarin in Khan Al Assal.
Syria's numerous requests to have this particular WMD attack fully investigated by a UN commission have been dismissed, and Del Ponte's work unfairly discredited. In some cases the UN General Assembly even issued praise for the rebels- but never condemnation of the French, American, British or Muslim states who publicly acknowledge funding and training the extremist perpetrators.
Endorsed at the top.
UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon has also shown a markedly partisan
approach to member state Syria. Breaking the most recent WMD inspection commission's neutrality mandate, Ban Ki-moon announced
that Syria was "overwhelmingly" responsible for the Aug 21 sarin attack in Ghouta (it is now confirmed to have been
carried out by Saudi-supplied affiliates). Ki-moon vowed to hold Assad responsible for his "many crimes against humanity".
In May 2013, AFP reported Ki-moon's lobbying of President Vladimir Putin to drop Russia's alliance with Syria so a new transitional
government could be installed at the Geneva talks in June.
In violation of protocol, UNSG
Ban Ki-moon held a private meeting with "Opposition" chief Ahmed Al Jarba instead of the legal Syrian government's
official long time representative to the United Nations, Bashir Ja'afari. Attempting to evade the appearance of impropriety,
Ki-moon hosted Jarba at his private (UN-funded) residence, not the usual venue on the 38th floor. However, the customary readout
of the meeting was issued with Jarba & Co replacing the true leaders of Syria. Syrian Ambassador to the UN, Bashar Ja'afari's
subsequent protests to the UN were ignored, then denied.
It is a pattern seen consistently
at the UN when dealing with the Syrian file; blackouts, evasions and disappearances. When the Syrian Ambassador speaks to
the press or in rebuttal, often technical 'glitches' occur with the broadcast and the camera goes dark. Contrast this to the
red carpet rolled out for rebel boss Jarba and the "Opposition" who have even been hosted at press conferences sponsored
by the UN Correspondent's Association.
Should it be a surprise then to catch rebels on the Golan Heights dressed in UN Peacekeeping uniforms marked "UN Philippines"? In early September, youtube videos surfaced with injured rebels in the blue UN helmets and flak jackets of UNDOF. UNSG spokesman Martin Nesirky said "We are aware of those reports and that seems to be the case."
What does that mean? Is the UN clandestinely supporting the rebels? Will the practice be stopped? Follow up investigations have languished. The issue now forgotten. As per Syria at the UN? Such treatment seems to be de rigueur. Excuse my French.
No Smoking Gun in Syria
DEIR EZ ZOR, Syria- On a bridge over the Euphrates River at sundown, neighborhood mosques weave a chorus calling
Muslims to prayer. This destitute, ramshackle oil town on Iraq's desert frontier is calm, despite Israel's September
6 raid on a military base outside the city to destroy Syria's "nuclear program."
The big hole could be in CNN's story. As far back as 2002, Charles
Duelfer of the United Nations Iraq Survey Group called then Under Secretary for Arms Control and International Security, John
Bolton's nuclear claims against Syria "exaggerated." It was also the assessment of the CIA. In 2004, Chief of the
International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Muhammad El Baradei reiterated that there was no evidence Syria had a nuclear program.
Operations and technical foremen interrupted, putting it this way: "The nuclear claims against Syria are pure bullsh*t."
1. No smoking gun in Syria
from the Middle East:
QUNEITRA, Syrian Golan Heights -- At the border checkpoint on the Beirut-Damascus highway, all industrial vehicles must be searched in compliance with United Nations Resolution 1701 to insure they aren't smuggling missiles or weapons into Lebanon. Israel and the U.S. repeatedly charge Syria with rearming Hezbollah, and if true it could provide a casus belli for the next Lebanon war.
Trucks of every size were queued up for miles and some hadn't budged in days. At the end of the line, drivers resigned to a long, hot ordeal set up camp waiting for inspections.
I discussed the possibility of an attack with a retired Syrian Army general who had served as a captain in the 1967 Six-Day War when the Israelis defeated the Syrians and seized the Golan Heights. "I am afraid there will be more trouble here and in the Middle East," he sighs.
And the fate of the Golan? "There is an Israeli military buildup now on the Golan Heights...and negotiating at the United Nations has never gotten the Arabs anything..."
In the Golan's graveyard city of Quneitra, a town destroyed by Israel during the conflict, an eerie sound whistles through the burnt skeletons of a hospital, a Christian church, and a mosque. The main street feels haunted, with shop facades blown off, baring the insides of what may once have been a pharmacy, a bakery, or a beauty parlor. Home after home is punched flat to the ground, one with trellised front gate still creaking in the wind.
Across a dirt road and a barbed wire fence is a minefield, and beyond that the green farms of Israel. This strategic plateau rises 500 yards above the Sea of Galilee, abutting the Jordan River Valley near the West Bank and the Lebanese Sheba'a Farms.
But the real strategic asset is water. The Golan is the catchment basin for the Sea of Galilee, which provides 30 percent of Israel's supply. In 2006, Israel began building the Quneitra Reservoir just yards from the ruins of the town. "To be without water will be worse than any war," the Syrian general told me. "Millions could die. It is not land but water that will cause wars in the future."
On Israel's Mount Hermon, which overlooks Quneitra and as far as Damascus, the preparations for such a war are well under way. Despite the heat, Israeli Defense Forces soldiers are drilling in full combat gear and restocking military bases with equipment for the first time in over a decade. In the southern Negev desert, IDF commandos recently staged mock raids on a Syrian village.
Israeli intelligence predicts war within the next 24 months, and security officials claim the army is on its highest alert since the Yom Kippur War of 1973. According to Israeli military expert Aaron Klein, the country's top ministers held a "very sensitive" closed-door meeting on August 8 to finalize plans.
The Syrians too are getting ready, building so-called "pitas," a type of flat bunker that blends into the landscape, resembling unleavened bread. The Syrian government is purchasing advanced military hardware and antiaircraft technology from Russia. Israel and the U.S. also accuse China of supplying Syria with C-802 missiles -- the same model used by Hezbollah to puncture an Israeli navy ship during last summer's war.
Learning from history, the Syrians are training their own guerrilla teams to wage Hezbollah-style ambushes, allegedly with the help of up to 15,000 Iranian Revolutionary Guards stationed in Syria.
Ironically, Great Britain, France, and American-allied Arab states -- led by the U.S. -- all urged Israel to attack Syria as an extension of the 2006 war on Hezbollah. Israel wisely refused. While these instigator allies live safely oceans away, Israel could be left vulnerable to constant future retaliation from contiguous nations inflamed by U.S. war-making.
At the Syrian Consulate in New York, I spoke with Syrian Ambassador to the United Nations Dr. Bashar Ja'afari about U.S. policy and Bush's professed "Crusade for Democracy." Ambassador Ja'afari warned that spillover from another war in the region would dangerously impact everyone. "We have to deal with this American elephant in the china shop.... The Middle East is a very fragile area..."
Israelis themselves echo the view. On July 31, the Golan Peace With Syria movement headed by former Foreign Ministry Director General Alon Liel urged a resistant President Bush to allow peace negotiations with Syrian President Bashar Al Assad. "For the past year we have heard voices that we have never heard before from Damascus.... We believe such talks could remove the threat of missiles that are currently flowing from Iran into Syria by the thousands and may soon land on our heads," he told Yedioth Ahronoth.
But will Bush learn from history? At the foot of Mount Hermon overlooking both the Syrian and Israeli sides of the Golan Heights is an Ayyubid fortress, the Nimrod Castle, used to expel the Crusaders from Damascus in 1291. Crusaders who didn't leave were beheaded, and their bones flogged.
Live from the Middle East:
Thousands of years ago, Palmyra was an important cog in the Roman machine
until an overly ambitious ruler fought unnecessary wars.
by Trish Schuh Esquire August 30, 2007 http://www.esquire.com/the-side/blog/mideastblog083007
PALMYRA, Syria -- For a brief, brilliant moment, like a flickering sunset on a distant horizon, Palmyra was a mercantile crown of the fading Roman Empire. Situated near an oasis at the crossroads between East and West, water and caravan tariffs ensured its rising importance. By the 3rd century A.D., Rome had designated the city the capital of the province of Syria.
Palmyra, "the place of palms," has been geared to religious tourism and commerce for thousands of years. Its delicate, colonnaded boulevards connect sacred funerary tombs at one end of the city to a monumental entrance arch at the other.
The Temple of Bel, originally a shrine to the Babylonian version of Zeus, was converted to an Islamic mosque in 1132. Today, it's a well-known attraction and part of Palmyra's effort to use its history to drive tourism.
The temple was named for a Babylonian god imported from what is now Iraq, and still stands in an affluent district on the east end of town. Its architectural design inspired the neoclassical trend that was all the rage in the late 1700s, which in turn spawned the Federal-style of modern Wall Street banks.
At the town's heart is a beautifully intact theater and the ancients' trading floor, the Agora,
where merchants from as far as China peddled silks, spices, and perfume oil. Later, merchandise from around the world sailed
up and down the Tigris and Euphrates, migrating back out again via the Mediterranean or down the Persian Gulf. Today, the
West's thousand-year argument with modern-day Persia (Iran) continues concerning safe passage through the Straits of Hormuz.
I ignore the Russian jab, as most Russian women are thought to be working in Syria as prostitutes. I've adopted a new tactic...
Several days ago at the Damascus airport, I encountered the Iraqi National Soccer Team and congratulated them on their recent Asia Cup championship. They politely gave autographs, while quietly voicing their opinion. "Bush is a criminal," one said. "He stole everything from us," said another. "He even stole the air we breathe."
An Iraqi priest who knew a friend of mine from Baghdad -- Fr. Doug. -- just so happened to be traveling with the team. Before the war, Fr. Doug's Christian church was thriving in a rich Baghdad neighborhood. By the time I visited him again in 2005, the rectory had been bombed and the street was closed off with barbed wire for protection. He kept an AK-47 slung over the doorknob of his living room door and a candy dish full of bullets on the coffee table for backup. The Iraqi priest told me Fr. Doug finally evacuated to Irbil.
Now when asked "which country?" I simply cut to the chase, address anti-American blowback (like the words that came from the Iraqi soccer players), and apologize for the Iraq War and George W. Bush in one sweeping phrase: "Ana shatanea," I say. That's slang for "I am of the Great Satan..." Usually it defuses the situation. "No, no!" the jewelry salesman laughs. He reassures me: "Only your government.""But you promised before that you would buy some jewelry and you didn't. Why? Why did you do that?" He looks upset. "We have so few customers now," he says.
Because of the influx of millions of Iraq War refugees, and America's campaign of increasing economic sanctions against Syria, its already weak economy has suffered further. Modern Palmyra looks pretty empty, thanks in part to the Great Satan. Now I really feel guilty.
"What about those tourist groups in buses?" I suggest hopefully. "Spanish. No money," he explains. Earlier, I had seen an Asian man on a side street handing something out. Maybe Japanese? In this part of the world, Japanese=rich. It turned out to be a Moonie distributing peacenik literature and trying to convert people.
"OK, well what have you got that's new?" I ask. He pulls out stone beads and camel bone necklaces. "Don't you have anything a little more exotic?"
"Well, I have camel teeth chokers," he says pulling out what looks to be a set of dentures on a string. "Or just one tooth alone." Grabbing a cigarette lighter, he flames over the single tooth to prove it won't melt. "Not plastic. Not made in China."
"That's perfect. I'll take the full mouth's worth." My friend rides off into the sunset on his moped, waving. Some kids on camels cross my path next. Their father walks beside them. When they find out I am American, the father notes that the West has been invading them for centuries. He points to the ruins. "This. America's future too..."
He's not alone in his opinion. The U.S. Comptroller General, David Walker, recently issued a warning of "striking similarities between the end of the Roman Empire and the downfall of America," especially regarding possible fiscal collapse from an overextended military. Cullen Murphy, former editor of The Atlantic, raised those same concerns in his book Are We Rome?
As the sun sets over the horizon, I think there could be something to this. After all, Palmyra's demise was also the result of its invasions of Middle Eastern lands, led by an overly ambitious ruler. The city was sacked in retaliation by Rome, and fell in A.D. 271.
Live from the Middle East:
Welcome to Syria, where the Arab women are veiled, the hookers are Russian, and Western women are fair game for handsy locals.
By Trish Schuh August 16, 2007 http://www.esquire.com/the-side/blog/demascus081607
Inside the historic covered Souk Al Hamidiye near the eighth-century Umayyad Mosque, a crush of Iraqi and Iranian shoppers robed in full black abayas and chadors make it nearly impossible to move. The Saudis wear niqab face coverings, which allow heavily mascaraed eyes to just peek out. Others are completely shrouded, their gloved hands clutching thousand-dollar designer handbags or cell phones. (One Syrian advertising campaign runs: "A woman's handbag is a mysterious dungeon...") There are Syrian girls, too, and Westerners dressed in heels, skirts, and tank tops.
This place is a must for the girl who's got everything. A real treasure hunt: stuff like peanut brittle infused with rose petals, precious gems, pearls piled up into sacks, and gold in every possible shape. Famous Damask silk is also woven here on a loom using eight-thousand hand-threaded needles.
If you want a pet, there are cages filled with live animals. For those who don't want the trouble of upkeep, taxidermists roam the old stone walkways hawking stuffed falcons. One store even offers preserved goats' heads for a Goth touch (they're for decor or roasting). Definitely the final shopping frontier for the Paris Hiltons of the world.
And most products feature something American products don't: indigenous manufacturers. The "Made in Syria" label far outnumbers Chinese imports. Shoes, coats, soap... At one cosmetics stall I discover some puzzling soaps for "torso treatment." "What are these for?" I ask a male clerk in Arabic. "One makes big. One makes firm," he says. Then with a serious, determined expression, his fingers head toward my chest with a kneading, scouring motion to demonstrate. I hastily edge out of the booth. "Ah -- maybe I'll come back sometime tomorrow..." I say, adding "with a chaperone" in my head.
Incidents like that make me understand the appeal of full Islamic body armor.
Like many female travelers I've talked to, I've had my share of groping incidents in the Middle East. If you aren't of Arab or Muslim extraction, you're literally up for grabs. And don't call the police to help you. One American student told me how his girlfriend had been pawed by a bunch of Lebanese men in plain view on a busy thoroughfare in Beirut, only to have the policeman join in and then blame her for starting it.
But what's the world's oldest city without the world's oldest profession?
In Syria, men often ask foreign women the question "Intie Russee?" which is Arabic for "Are you Russian?" Russian prostitutes keep the Syrian sex industry afloat. (Excluding "weekend virgins" or the 12-year-old boys who are sought after by rich Saudis.) I can't decide if it's worse to be mistaken for an "American spy" or a "Russian prostitute." When pestered, I decide to go for broke: "I'm a Russian-American."
At my hotel, I discuss the issue with an employee in his mid-twenties. He claims a lot of Arabs know Western women are "prostitutes" from watching American media -- Hollywood films, TV, American "ho" music, and Internet porn. When I remind him that this same media has many Americans believing all Muslim men are terrorists, he laughs uncomfortably.
A French-Lebanese friend stops by for a night on the town. We rule out going to the movies: Die Hard 2, Charlie's Angels, and an Arab sex film featuring a trashy blonde called Al Azhnabee, Arabic for "The Foreigner". They are the only things playing.
Since we've done the karaoke bars and discos in the Christian area of Bab Touma, she wants to go somewhere French. Maybe a place called Moulin Rouge?
The first red flag is right inside the door. A Christmas tree in August, in a Muslim country? The maitre'd doesn't seem to know what to do with us. First he seats us near some old men, then shifts us into a corner, and finally sticks us with the Russians. "I can't see. I want a refund," I protest. A confused bouncer asks, "You buying or selling?" and promptly evicts us.
The next club is more upscale. I order a burqini, a designer Muslim martini I'd heard about in Beirut. Oddly, bartenders never seem to know what it is. (I find out later it's not a cocktail but an Islamic swimsuit combining a burqa and a bikini.) This scene turns out to be a stripper's Lawrence Welk burlesque. The Russians wear far more clothes than an MTV video, and dance to ballads by Perry Como and yodeling from The Sound of Music set to a disco beat. We flee in a hurry.
We resign ourselves to the Internet, where a young kid minding the store blasts Janis Joplin 24/7. "Why don't you ever play Arab singers like Nancy Ajram, Elissa, and Haifa Wehbe?" I ask.
"They just take off their clothes like prostitutes. They're not really musicians," he says. But Janis... nobody is like Janis. That woman can sing!"