Monday, February 12, 2007

Proud to be Syrian.. yet another reason..

I feel that I should have written this ages ago.. about four years ago, in fact!!.. (Mind you, at the time, I didn't even know what 'blogging' was!..)

We are just over one month away from the fourth anniversary of the most devastating human catastrophe to befall our Region for centuries.. The invasion of Iraq..

Now, I am not going to talk about the morality or the legality of this war (I know.. I know.. legality?.. morality??.. and war???.. in the SAME sentence????... ). This has been debated to exhaustion on numerous platforms and all over the media.. I do not feel that I can add anything new to that debate...

It is the human catastrophe that I wish to talk about... Today, yet another car bomb devastates yet another location in Iraq.. scores killed.. hundreds maimed... and inevitably, thousands forced to consider leaving their homeland in pursuit of some sense of security...

Over four years ago, when the warmongering was gathering pace, many commentators warned about the devastation that will follow the invasion.. but they were labelled as 'spoilsports'!.. They were simply brushed aside as 'Saddamists', trying to deprive the Iraqis from the promised paradise of democracy, peace, and prosperity..

I remember at the time, my brother-in-law (he holds a high position in the Syrian Red Crescent) describing the plans to accommodate the influx of refugees that would be expected to flood across the border from Iraq, trying to escape the horrors that everyone was foreseeing.. (everyone, except for the invaders and their bandwagon, that is..)..

Sure enough, the refugees did flood in.. More like a rapidly rising tide, rather than a tsunami wave.. And Syria received them with open arms.. homes, schools, hospitals, jobs.. everything that was available to ordinary Syrians, was also available to our Iraqi brothers and sisters...

Now, anybody who have read my blogs and comments would know that I am no fan of the Syrian Regime. However, I also do not subscribe to the practice of attacking the Regime just for the heck of it.. (In fact, I have given up commenting on a number of blogs which encourage that attitude, for exactly that reason..).. The position of Syria as whole (ordinary people, 'civil societies', charitable organizations, and even Regime and Government) regarding the issue of the Iraqi refugees (and that of the Lebanese refugees when they needed our help) continues to be a source of immense pride and amazement for me..

Pride, because Syria has ALWAYS offered all it has, to share with anyone who needs it.. Even in the midst of the worsening Iraqi refugee crisis, Syria and the Syrians were willing to open their homes, and their hearts, to refugees from another neighbour.. The Lebanese were given the same welcome.. the same hospitality, if not more.... Amazement, because most Syrians are struggling to make ends meet in their everyday lives.. never mind sharing what scarce resources they have with others!!.. I have heard endless first-hand accounts from relatives of Iraqi friends about the hospitality of the ordinary Syrian people towards the Iraqis.. I will not bore you with such tales, amazing and incredible as they are... but, hey.. that is the Syrian way.. throughout the ages.. so, perhaps, I shouldn't be amazed!..

The recently announced plans to impose visa restrictions on Iraqi refugees should not detract from the fact that Syria, unlike other neighbouring Arab countries, is still prepared to provide safety and shelter to all those who need safety and shelter.. but no-one can do that indefinitely and without any rules or regulations..

I believe that credit should be given, where credit is due.. However, I also believe that, when the Syrian people opened their Country to fellow Arabs, they did not do that expecting anything in return..

And that makes this Syrian feel proud.. very proud, indeed..

(Photo: Busra Amphitheatre. Courtesy of Syria Looks)


Rime said...

Just as I am proud of having compatriots like you, Syrian Brit, with whom I share the feelings of pride and amazement described in your post about the generosity of our country. Beautifully said! Indeed, you and I had been on the same wavelength this evening, and I find myself agreeing with everything you say.

Fares said...

Excellent SB...I agree on the context of the post.

I do however feel that some Regime elements accept Lebanese and Iraqi refugees out of greed, there are some Syrians who profit from bad situations but that is normal human behaviour.

Anyway I am always very happy to read your blog and I hope you don't consider my attacks on the regime are just for fun. There is anger and frustation behind them. The regime should not be given Carte Blanche to their failed policies and if you see poor Syrians being generous and welcoming, just think it would be even much better if they were allowed to have a better life instead of the f***d up Baath Party as the leader of the Society and Bashar being the God father.

Remembering Hariri

Syria needs a different ruling model to start fulfilling its potential, don't let anything else blind you.

Abu Kareem said...


Thank you for this uplifting post at a time when there is so little to cheer about. Once again the decency of the Syrian people comes shining through. It makes me proud and it makes me hopeful.

Yazan said...

I couldnt have said it better SB.

I think we all share this feeling, the matter of fact, it goes a little bit beyond arab nationalism, it's only a tradition, syria has always been a land of refugees...
Kurds, armenians, assyrians, palestinians...

Golaniya said...

You have pointed on a very essential yet unrecognized element by many Syrian bloggers who label themselves, proudly, as opposition.

To oppose a system, as you exquisitely put it "just for the heck of it" and cooperating with an other destructive powers, NSF, USA and 14th. March Movement, are only a mirrored version of our regime, but the logic of some oppositionists goes like: "it isn't Assad, so it's it's ok."

On thing I would like to say about the Syrian people hospitality, while you are amazed with "it", I am amazed with the lack of it. indeed, the Iraqi refugees in Syria did not protest against the regime, but against the people themselves.

Actually, life in Syria, after the war on Lebanon, is becoming as life in Beirut; expensive as hell. The ordinary Syrian cannot cope up with the consequences of hosting one million Iraqi!

As I stand against many of my friends who discourage hosting Arab refugees, I blame them not, I blame the authority for placing the Iraqi refugees in the capital.

The Syrian people, its habits and usual image is no longer the same when our government is encouraging a capitalist way of living.

Inspiring post.

Philip I said...

Syrian Brit, we know where your daughter Dana gets her musical talent from; you really know how to pull on our hearts' strings!

Generosity and hospitality are the hallmarks of the vast majority of Syrians. We are also a peace- loving nation and detest injustice. Could that be because bedouin Arab blood still flows in our veins (you're the doctor) and have been overrun so many times by so many other nations that we now say: come on have it all, what's mine is yours and what's yours is yours? Westerners will never understand this subtlety :) so they happily take advantage!

On the serious points about Iraq, the rivers of blood are just beyond comprehension. I do not think there are parallels in history to such wanton daily massacres. Every day 50 to 150 people get blown up or abducted and murdered in cold blood. The total is now close to or perhaps exceeds 700,000 dead (not to mention the injured and the maimed) and the refugee numbers are approaching two million. And there is no end in sight.

Indeed, thanks to our country men and women who not only make us proud but also in their generosity of spirit give us and the Iraqis a glimmer of hope for the future. Like you I think that our government (in the abstrat!)has behaved decently in opening our borders to refugees but there comes a time when outside help is needed as an alternative to shutting the door. Too many refugees can begin to cause friction and severe administrative problems for the country. So, again the government has done well to ask for external help.

abufares said...

Indeed that's the Syrian Way... I believe that our inbred hospitality is due the fact that we receive even more pleasure in giving than in taking. While children in different cultures are taught to always defend what is theirs, ours are encouraged to share from the very beginning what is considered of matrial value.
Permit me to quote you here: "(In fact, I have given up commenting on a number of blogs which encourage [the practice of attacking the Regime just for the heck of it..]".
You are so right my friend. It's so sad that some of us only see the weeds in a beautiful field of golden wheat.

Restless in Dubai said...

I swear to Moses, I was just thinking of that when I switched my laptop on this morning..

I feel PROUD PROUD PROUD to be Syrian... everyday this feeling grows.

Yesterday an incident happened...

I was making copy of my driving license and of course as every document here in Dubai, the nationality should be written.

Funny enough, my Polish boss's sister was standing next to me trying to figure out a way to enlarge the copy and she said "How about we change the nationality into Canadian" big laugh followed.. Usually I just laugh back.. but for some reason I said "You know what?, I am proud to be Syrian, and this five-letters word makes my license worth millions" and I smiled.

I feel goog that I let it out.

Sorry for that. Lol.


dancing solo said...

Syrian Brit, very nice blog as usual.
Many points I would like to emphasize, if you do not mind...

Syria as a country was not never appreciated by the neighboring countries for helping them-as people-in their disasters. Although, we never stopped helping our neighbors.

I am not a fan of the Syrian regime, I oppose it, but not chaotically. However, American government and Iraqi government always criticized Syria for not guarding the border with Iraq, and we should open our boarders for Iraqi to come into Syria, and close it the other is funny I think...

I just want to ask every Syrian to be proud as Syrian, I saw many cases before, where some Syrian denied their identity, because of the view to our regimes. We should inform others that regimes does not represent people, and that is our case is Syria....

thanks Syrian Brit, always concise ..


The Syrian Brit said...

Thank you all for your contributions and for your comments..

Your comment is a testimony which I cherish immensely.. Thank you!..

My friend, I am 100% with you when you attack the Regime on issues of prisoners of conscience, human rights, freedom of speech and expression, etc. I was never suggesting that we should forgive the Regime their excesses at all.. In fact, I was arguing just the opposite on Rime's blog only recently.

Abu Kareem,
Thank you for the kind words. Good to 'see' you over here..

I agree entirely.. That is exactly what I meant when I said 'throughout the ages..'..

Sham in Ashrafieh',
Thank you for your input.. I must admit, I have heard that, back home, people's patience and open-arm hospitality were beginning to run thin.. and I am not surprised.. There is only so much individuals can do, and only so much a Country with finite resources can do..

Philip I,
I am 100% with you on what you have stated.. I guess the whole world, and particularly the perpetrators of this unmitigated disaster, should take some responsibility.. Otherwise, I fear that there comes a point when even your own brother becomes a burden!..

Abu Fares,
I am delighted that you share my vision of the beautiful field of golden wheat!..

My friend, no need to apologise.. Say it with ultimate pride.. We do have a lot to be proud about.. it just takes a bit of scratching of the rather dull surface..

Dancing Solo,
Thanks for your comments.. I agree with your points.. I have always been of the view that denying who you are will only belittle you in the eyes of outsiders.. the way we behave as individuals, on personal and professional levels, is the best way to demonstrate how civilized, compassionate, hard-working, and peace-loving us Syrians are..

DUBAI JAZZ said...

A bit late SB, but I am sure that your hospitality can still accommodate one more Syrian commentator…
What a wonderful post, although we live outside Syria, but we are all equally proud to belong to the Syrian mosaic (courtesy to Rime for the expression)….
I think that we all should culminate our Syrian pride over a huge lunch table in the summer, preferably with the food q-checked by you and Abu Fares!
Keep up the good work!

The Syrian Brit said...

What a splendid idea, DJ.. what a splendid idea!!..
Shall we start planning the guest list, time and venue??...

abufares said...

Yes we shall.
How about for instance telling us when will you be available in Syria this summer.

The Syrian Brit said...

My dear Abu Fares, if only I know for sure...
I am hoping to go home for two weeks at the end of August and beginning of September..
Initially, I wanted to go in July, but Dana's graduation ceremony will be around that time.. obviously, I would not want to miss it.. August is a bad month for us, as we have all the new junior medical staff starting (oh, what fun we have in August!.. Definitely the time to avoid hospitals!!..).. So hopefully, Syrian Embassy and 'AlQyadeh AlQawmieh' permitting, I plan to go home in the last week of August, and stay for two weeks.. exact dates, and final decisions, still being considered..

DUBAI JAZZ said...

Dear Syrian Brit and Abu Fares,
If it is of any encouragement, I will be in Syria on September also.... any fixture after the 3rd will do ...
Really looking forward to it....

abufares said...

ok, let's get the ball rolling, I'm all for it and hopefully, I'll be here.

Abu Turath said...

Actually in the UK it's BOTH February and August when NEW doctors start and hosputals should be avoided unless absolutely necessary.

Also from AUG 2007 the 'New Labour' government has 'reformed' doctors' training and is introducing 'Modernising Medical Careers' and there will be massive chaos in AUG 2007.

MMC is a very intelligent way of REDUCING the no. of TRAINING posts for doctors in the UK: cheap in the short-term, but dangerous & expenive in the long-term.

What do you think yaa Syrian Brit? Sorry to digress!

The Syrian Brit said...

Oh, Abu Turath, my firend..
Don't even get me started on MMC and all that nonsense!..
The chaos you are, rightly, predicting for August has already descended upon us.. I have spent ALL my morning doing references for some 23 applicants!!.. I have been up till 4 am on several nights in the run-up to application deadline, reviewing applications for my junior staff, amending and correcting them before they send them off..
While I do not want to defend Labour in any shape, form, or fashion, in the interest of fairness, I think these changes have been hatched during the reign of the last Conservative government..
The amount of paperwork involved is just unbelievable.. The stress these young doctors are put under is criminal.. The time people like me are having to waste on the process is just incredible...
I am not convinced there is ANYTHING intelligent about MMC.. I don't really think it is cheaper, even in the short term..
Mind you, I do believe the appraisals we will have to do for the trainees (a pain the backside, as it may be!..) will actually result in better supervision and, hopefully, better training.. but your point about the numbers is a very valid one, and God only knows how things wil eventually pan put...
On a positive note, the chaos around change-over periods will only happen once a year from now on(August only) .. but some chaos it will be!!...

abufares said...

I've tagged you my friend, and it's a good one.