We met many sections of Syrian society including the PM Dr. Wael Halaqi and the Deputy Foreign Minister, Mr. Feysal Mekdad, the Minister for Information, Mr. Omran Zoubi and the Minister for Electricity and Power, Mr. Imad Khamis.
Amongst the opposition, we met Mr. Omar Ossy, Kurdish MP, as well as the Chairman of the National Committee for Dialogue and Reconciliation, Mr. Sattam Dandal (a prominent Sunni Tribal Leader), Mr. Fahed Barod, Ali Turkmani and Nabil Fayyad. Amongst the Christians that we met included Mr. Salim al Nassan George, Mother Agnes-Mariam of the Cross, Hassan Arnoq and Heratch Barsikhian (an Armenian Christian).
Amongst them all, we grew very close to Mr. Youssef Alshahab, who is a proud Syrian Christian, a prominent TV personality, but a refugee in his own city as he was unable to return to his flat in a Damascus suburb itself. He was living in a hotel, where many other media channels had also moved for protection from the daily threats of the insurgents, and many journalists have been murdered and kidnapped.
The journalists whom we met were also truly remarkable, even as the women were willing to stay on till late at night so that the media war against their nation be countered, as effectively as possible. Here we do have to mention Ms. Nawaem Salman (whom we preferred to refer as Salman behen), who was the representative of Syrian TV and had organized our visit with a lot of deep thought and truly sincere and dedicated effort.
We also had a wonderful meeting with a group of Syrian youth who were fighting for the unity and sovereignty of their land by waging a struggle by serving in the refugee camps, by collecting donations and by countering the lies of the global media through a sustained campaign over the social media. Here we need to mention Yazan, Reina, Waseem, Maisa, Ghalia, Feras, Bernard amongst all the rest of the wonderful group that we interacted with. Yazan could not meet us again before we departed, since he was kidnapped by the mercenaries, but since then has been released and is now coordinating with many across the world to get the truth out.
They were all of the similar opinion that the sectarian war could lead to a similar deteriorating crisis in Lebanon, Iraq and with ramifications across many other Arab and Muslim nations. They were all very clear on the steps and the process of the national political initiative and the need for the war to come to an immediate halt. This is only possible, once there is an agreement between the US and Russia, after which the Nato-GCC-Turkey-Israel are pressurized to back-off.
Then the Syrian people are left alone in peace to decide their own future. The process entails a dialogue with all opposition forces, as well as civil-society, the formation of a transitional government, negotiations for a new constitution which would be put up for a peoples’ referendum and then a free and fair election, leading to the formation of a new democratic government.
Actually, the Syrian government has undertaken a process of reform and a new constitution was passed in a referendum in 2012, where 56% of the people voted. Here the ‘clause 8’ that referred to the Baath party as the sole leader of the revolution was removed, thus paving the way for a multi-party system. This constitution is again up for discussion and a negotiated agreement. Not a word about the clause was reported in our media. Why?
Earlier in May 2012, general elections had been held and a government constituted, but again, not a word ever appeared in the media. This was very much in contrast to the elections in Yemen, where there was only one candidate for the election and we had headlines stating that Yemen is now a democracy. Such is the manipulation and deceit of the global corporate media, with their legions of embedded journalists.
Thus, even whilst the daily killings continue with reprisals and counters from either side, with unconfirmed estimates quoting up to 60,000 dead and a vast number of refugees. The rebels and mercenaries continue to destroy Syrian infrastructure (with plans to be rebuilt by contracts given to the US companies such as Bechtel & Halliburton, if I may add). From Electric transmission lines to hospitals, schools, colleges and health centres, bakeries, to factories that have been ripped apart and sold across the border in Turkey, where even entire neighbourhoods have been looted and so have cows and sheep.
The entire Syrian welfare state, which has served the people well, is being systematically destroyed, readied for a neo-liberal takeover. Syria is self-sufficient in both food grains and energy. Remarkably it has ‘zero debt’, despite the subsidies in all the key sectors.
Even Syrian missile sites defending all Arab lands against Israeli aggression are being targeted by the mercenaries. Thus, Syrian friends also discussed the infiltration of Israelis (Sephardic-Mizrahi of Semitic origin, as the Ashkenazi majority is non-Semitic), who could blend into the insurgency and attack Syrian strategic-military targets.
Feroze Mithiborwala, is the President of the Bharat Bachao Andolan, General Secretary of the India Palestine Solidarity Forum, General Coordinator of the Asian People's Solidarity for Palestine & the one of the Founders of the Asian People's Convoy to Gaza & the Global March to Jerusalem.
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