Category Archives: Syria


I have devoted a good part of my life to the study of the Holocaust and was among those who founded the St. Louis Holocaust Center in an effort to provide remembrance, but also education, so that such horror would never again occur in the world. Alas, this effort at remembrance is no longer viable in the modern world. One can not employ expressions such as “holocaust” or “genocide” since these words more aptly fit what occurred in the Nazi era of hate and violence. Frankly, I am a loss of words in discussing what has happened in the nation of Syria during the past three years of horror. Children having legs amputated because hospitals lack proper equipment to save them or babies in incubators dying when the power goes off or a wounded person knocked out since there is no anesthesia. Just think, in the 21st century we are unable to vaccinate children!

An organization, Save the Children seeks to prevent more Syrian children from dying. In the city of Aleppo which has more people than Paris only 36 doctors remain to serve the population of 2.3 million. Half the doctors in Syria have fled for their lives.

My question: Where are religious leaders in the Middle East and what are they doing to save lives of Muslim children?? Obviously,the answer is silence. We wonder at the silence of the 1940s as we live in the silence of the early years of the 21st century.

A Mother’s Anguish In Syria

The civil war has been going on for years and for years thousands of people have been killed, latest figures estimate it has now risen over 120,000 dead people. Death has become a statistic–“today three people were shot to death” and our minds read the figures, shrug our shoulders and pass on to the next story about Dennis Rodman’s behavior in North Korea. We have become numb to death, our ears no longer hear sounds of torture and our eyes see but do not see. Negotiations are currently taking place in Geneva between the Assad government and opposition leaders. Fatima Khan, mother of a doctor who was murdered in a Syrian prison, pushed her way through a crowd and shouted at Assad aide, Buthaina Shaaban that her doctor son was murdered and she wanted his body. She asked a guard about the woman and was told, “the mother of the doctor.” She then sharply said, “let’s get away from here.”

When confronted by ONE person, those who murder become frightened. They can handle a thousand, but a single crying grieving mother is not the person they want to see or hear. Who is this woman: “I’m representing half a million mothers.”

No Home For Syrians Except Homs

Eventually in every civil conflict there arrives a moment in which both sides make perfectly clear that this fight has no end unless one side just admits it can no longer continue in the parade of death. The city of Homs is surrounded by troops of the Syrian army who are pursuing a war tactic that entails surrounding a town, preventing food or water to enter, and compel its inhabitants to surrender to leave the nation. The United Nations brokered an agreement with the Syrian government which would allow food to enter Homs and prevent mass starvation. Syrian officials now say they will permit women and children to leave which is simply proof that President Bashar al-Assad is a man of peace and love for all–at least, all those who regard him as a man of peace and love. In other words, women and children can depart, and men remain who can be starved into surrendering their weapons.

As this is taking place in Syria, back in Geneva, Switzerland, representatives of the government are meeting with representatives of those fighting the government. There is absolutely NO evidence that either side will budge one inch. I assume at these meetings there is plenty of food and water for both sides in the conflict. I wonder if they could spare some of this largesse for those who are left largely alone to starve to death!

Step Down Or Step Up?

Among the ongoing myths of the Republican party is that President Obama is not behaving in the same manner as prior presidents who stood tall for America and refused to back down in the face of tyranny. The assumption is that if a president goes to war, they are standing “tall for democracy.” Secretary of State John Kerry made clear to the Davos World Economic Forum that his role is to further the goal of democracy without employing force. He is upset at claims “that somehow America is disengaging from the world, the myth that America is pulling back or giving up or standing down.” Those assumptions are based on a theory the only was to stand up is to employ military force. Kerry noted that to many,the absence of military forces means the US is “somehow absent from the arena.”

Let’s look at the record:

1. The attack on South Korea was met with troops, not only from America, but from dozens of nations of the world. The independence of South Korea was preserved.

2. We all know how use of the military failed in Vietnam at a cost of over 50,000 American lives.

3. The Gulf War was fought, not only by American soldiers, but those from over twenty nations. It concluded successfully.

4. We all know what happened and continues to happen in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Use of military force in Syria would only lead to another civil war and emergence of more and more Muslim terrorists.

Who Is The Terrorist?

Syria and Turkey are engaged in a conflict as to which nation is really the terrorist one. Syrian Foreign Minister Muallam argues that Turkish attacks on Kurds within its boundary constitute acts of terrorism along with its support of militants who are engaged in a war to overthrow the Syrian government. Turkish Foreign Minister Davutoglu responded with “we all know who the terrorists in Syria are.” In reality, there are numerous nations engaged in acts of terrorism. Of course, “terrorism” comes in various degrees of death and destruction. There is no question the horror of the Syrian civil war is not yet matched by other horrible actions on the part of Turkey. The thousands who have been brutalized, murdered by the Syrian government are not matched by Turkish attacks on Kurds or the governments brutalizing of its own population, including leading the world in arresting journalists.

Perhaps, the world needs a new Reality TV program in which contestants vie to prove they represent the most terrorist nation in the world. I wonder if there might be category about how nations brutalize the poor. I assume the US might enter that category.

Invite Iran To Syria Talks

The conference which includes nations from Europe, Russia and China will shortly be meeting to discuss the possibility of a transition government in Syria that would prepare a process of ending the conflict. UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon invited Iran to participate in the conference. This has aroused fury in the United States and among many in Europe, and thus the invitation was withdrawn. Let us examine the record:

1. Iran is a major supplier of President Assad and has aided his ability to survive this civil war.

2. Iran is also supplying aid to Hezbollah in Lebanon.

3. Iran is desperately seeking to end sanctions and once again become part of normal international economic activities.

4. It is in the national interests of Iran to see the end of conflict and war which drain their economic resources.

An invitation to Iran allows President Rouhani an opportunity to display that his goals entail ending conflict and restoring peace to the region. First, allow Iran an opportunity to work for peace in Syria, then, it opens possibilities for Iran to take the next step of working with Israel to resolve its differences.

As the great British leader, Winston Churchill, once said: “Jaw, jaw, not war, war!”

Assad Survives While Rebels Founder!

Once upon a time in a land that is known as “Syria” there lived a cruel dictator who made life miserable for anyone who opposed his rule. So, many good people in the land of Syria rose in rebellion. They demonstrated, but there was no change. They shouted but there was no change and the cruel dictator continued to oppress his people. Finally, many people secured guns and other weapons of war and challenged the armed forces of the dictator. Battles raged, thousands were killed and into the land of Syria came hordes of men and women who also hated the tyrant that ruled the land. Cities were bombed by airplanes so rebels began to bomb areas of Syria that were under control of the government. A year passed and thousands died. A year passed and thousands fled the land. Another year passed with death and death and destruction and millions had fled their homes.

As in all rebellions against tyrants, rebels eventually turn on one another. Now, in Syria there are groups connected with al-Qaeda, there are groups connected with Islamist fundamentalists there are groups which seek to create a secular democratic society and there are groups led by some local rebel. President Assad is a “survivor.” He now claims to seek a “ceasefire” in order to create peace. He proposed to end fighting in Aleppo and urged everyone to end fighting. Naturally, rebels are do divided they can not agree on anything other than to continue fighting and fighting.

So, in the end of this tale, the bad, bad, dictator is now urging peace and prosperity. Such is usually NOT the way a fairy tale concludes!

Assad One Talks With Assad Two

The mystery of what has been going on in Syria for the past three years has finally been clarified for this writer. It is now clear that in Syria there are two Bashar al-Assad characters and they vie with one another to be present on the stage of life. Assad I is a cruel, hateful person who is absorbed with the desire for power and will murder and kill with impunity even the people he governs in order to retain power. Assad I has only one thought in his mind and that is retention of power forever. However, there is an Assad II, who actually thinks about the meaning of his religion and seeks to govern according to the doctrine of the Koran in a desire for peace and friendship with all nations. Assad II met with Iran’s Foreign Minister Javad Zarif and made clear the threat to peace in the Middle East is not the actions of Assad I but those who ruled Saudi Arabia.

He described the role of Saudi Arabia and its Wahhabi religion as the main source of violence in the region. “The Syrian people and some peoples in the region know how serious is the threat of Wahhabism.” The Saudis who fiercely spread this form of the Muslim religion have caused terrorism in Afghanistan and been the model for al-Qaeda. Terrorism has been the goal of Saudi Arabia for years and until its form of extremism is ended, there can be no peace in the Middle East.

Just think about it, Assad II is not that bad a guy!!

Syria Solution?

During the past two years the only word that describes the situation in Syria is “chaos.” The horror of President Bashar al-Assad is, all too often, matched by the horror and evil of those opposing his tyrannical rule. Various Islamist groups have emerged along with al-Qaeda, in order to vie for which can outdo the other in murdering innocent people and leaving cities devastated with the end of normal life activities. US Secretary of State John Kerry has met with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov in order to work out a solution, or to be more accurate, any solution to the current chaos which reigns throughout the land. Kerry said it may now “may be possible for convoys to access local cease fire areas.” In other words, this means if local opposition groups will hold off from attacking government positions then it might just be possible to get food and water and medical care to people in these areas. There is even talk of a cease fire in Aleppo.

The problem in January, 2014 is that those opposing Assad really do not care for any solution that does not entail their continued control of certain areas. The 2.5 million people who have fled or who live in areas in which daily bombing is common are no longer on the minds of opposition groups. Power is the only thing they consider and that means, continue their control of a specific area of Syria. The reason why violence initially arose is no longer the agenda. The problem is that no group any longer which opposes Assad has any other agenda but their continued existence.

Broken Iraq Still Broken

We just concluded the tenth anniversary of our invasion of Iraq by the gold dust trio of Bush/Cheney/Rumsfeld who promised the American people the end of Saddam Hussein, the end of his threats to blast the American nation to pieces, and the arrival of peace, prosperity and democracy to the people of Iraq. Enough has been written concerning how the dynamic trio lied through their teeth about Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD) so there is no need to repeat what others already have made clear, no such things existed except in the minds of our Republican masters in Washington. Today, Republicans in Congress argue that wars in the Middle East were caused by the black dude from Kenya, one Barack Obama. At this moment, al-Qaida, the organization initially destroyed by General Petraeus and then by President Obama are in control of the Iraq city of Fallujah. Check with veterans of the Iraq war who fought or were wounded, to capture that city from al-Qaida. Sorry, you can not check with the four thousand Americans who died fighting in Iraq.

Saddam Hussein is dead. Half of the 900,000 Christians in Iraq have fled for their lives after Christian American leaders installed a fundamentalist Muslim government in power and drove out the secular forces of Saddam Hussein. Shiite Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki refused to work with Sunni Muslims which allowed al-Qaida to return. Now Maliki asks Sunni Muslims to drive out al-Qaida. I trust Americans understand what I have just written. The leader who destroyed cooperation with Sunni Muslims is asking the people he hates to do his job of bringing stability to Iraq!!