Tuesday, November 24, 2015

The Rabid Dogs of Syria reporting for the Registry, Mr. President!

The Turkish military says it shot down the unidentified warplane, contending it repeatedly violated Turkish
DDGD November 24, 2015

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Today’s Post is brought to you by… The Dehumanized Peoples Federation: To us, Time has lost its relevance. We stand for Being.

The Delirica  

Who Are those Syrian Refugees Really?

Limar Story - Putin's Statement
By land, by sea and, occasionally, by air, they come carrying with them all what they have left in this bedlam world, which is often nothing more than the clothes on their back. They come seeking shelter and the promise of a better future for themselves, their children and their siblings. Many of them have probably lost a family member or more, many more, to Syria's five-year old conflict, and they have seen many horrors on their way. They arrive weary, injured and in some ways even broken and in need of healing, in need of compassion. Instead, they receive hate, suspicion, fearmongering and rejection.

In the last few days, leading American politicians have compared Syrian refugees to rabid dogs and E. Coli;  called for favoring Christian refugees over Muslim ones, thus transforming the current situation into a kind of imaginary Muslim-Christian showdown and effectively playing by ISIS’s rules; and called for a registry of all Muslims.

As a Syrian asylee who found a safe haven in this country long before the revolutionary upheavals, and as a person whose life experiences took him from being a young radical Imam to an agnostic author and prodemocracy activist who strongly embraces secular values and advocates the right to heresy, I thought it incumbent upon me at this stage to contribute to the ongoing debating regarding Syrian refugees: who they are, what they want, and what can they bring with them by way of contributions.

Syria’s refugees are ordinary people who would have preferred to stay at home, or at least stay in any of the neighboring countries where the challenges of integration might have been less, shall we say, challenging. Instead, they “chose” to embark on a long life-threatening exodus to foreign land in search of security and hope.

Many people wonder what sort of parents risk taking their children with them on such risky journeys? The answer should obvious to everyone. Only those who have little choice in the matter would make this so-called choice. Even in the Middle East, children are not considered to be decorative pieces. Parents really do love their kids and worry about their future, and people don’t choose to risk the lives of their children unless choice in the matter is a mere illusion.

Injured women arrive at a field hospital after an air strike hit their homes in the town of Azaz on the outskirts of Aleppo, Syria. [AP Photo/ Khalil Hamra, File, Aug. 15, 2012]
Whom are we dealing with here? Doctors, engineers, professors, farmers, craftsmen, laborers, artists, writers, filmmakers, journalists and students. We’re dealing with families and survivors of all stripes—with traditional practicing Muslims, mostly Sunnis, and with secular-minded professionals and intellectuals from all different backgrounds, including Christians, Druze and Alawites. And we’re dealing ethnically with Arabs, Kurds and Turcomen. And we’re dealing with millions of them.

Here’s a good rule of thumb: No people this large and diverse can be painted with one stroke unless prejudice is involved.

For many of the Syrian refugees, the plight began shortly after nonviolent protests broke out throughout Syria back in 2011. The protests sought punishment for corrupt, high-ranking officials and an end to cronyism, sham elections and continued intervention by security apparatuses in all aspects of life. President Bashar Al-Assad responded by resorting to overwhelming force in the hope of preserving his family’s rule. In the process, and in light of the international community’s befuddlement and indifference at a time when Russia and Iran showed no hesitation when it came to providing diplomatic, financial and logistical support to their ally, Mr. Assad managed to plunge the country into a civil war that tested the provincial and communal loyalties of the country’s main ethnic groups, effectively tearing the country apart. By mid-2012, Syria’s war had metastasized into a proxy war pitting an array of international and regional powers against each other. It also served to revive a monstrous creation—ISIS or Daesh—from its near-death state. Through indulgence, indifference, inaction, and external support (both direct and indirect), each side played its role in this modern-day, real-world Frankenstein experiment. 

The result is one of the worst humanitarian disasters that the world has witnessed in decades; and now, just when we thought things couldn’t get any worse, Western ignorance, xenophobia and fearmongering have stepped up to the podium, targeting the most vulnerable demographic of all: migrants and refugees.
Let me stipulate that we cannot discount the possibility of terrorist infiltrators among the refugees. But let’s also ask ourselves what the real risks involved in the current situation look like?

For the United States, the rigorous vetting process—which will take up to two years in each case—minimizes the risk involved considerably. In my and my family’s case, it took two and a half years before we were granted asylee status, even though we were already in the U.S., our case was well-documented, and my contacts with the U.S. government were quite high. In fact, I testified in front the U.S. Congress on a couple of occasions, and met the President of the United States at the time, George W. Bush, twice, one of them in the Oval Office, while our application was still being processes, and background checks were still being conducted. It took two more years after that before we were granted the Green Card, and only my son has so far received the American citizenship. His sister, my wife and I are still waiting, but hopefully, we will be able to vote in the 2016 elections.

More importantly though, the current debate in America is focusing on a small number of refugees: 10,000 to be precise; this is much less than 0.1% of the problem. As many commentators have noted, this doesn’t compare in any reasonable way to the number of people who come here through the visa waiver program or under tourist visas without having to go through a comparable process of evaluation.

This process stands in sharp contrast to the situation in Europe, where the risk is greater because authorities have no time to scrutinize anyone before the migrants have already arrived. And only one or two young men seem to have returned under the cover of being Syrian refugees to take part in the Paris Attacks. So yes, there’s a legitimate cause for concern here for Europe. But let’s keep things in perspective: over the preceding year Europe received more than 800,000 refugees, mostly from Syria, but also from Afghanistan, Iraq, Somalia, and other conflict-ridden states.

The White House wants theAmerican to help Syrian refugees, and has launched a web page dedicated toproviding information on why and how.  
More importantly, and I cannot emphasize this point enough, Europe is a net exporter of terrorists to Syria, not the other way around. Most Jihadi suspects and elements, including some of those who took part in the Paris Attack, are known to have been first radicalized while still in their home countries: France, Belgium, the United Kingdom and Germany, among other countries. Some of them then chose to go to Syria to get training, before returning home, often by using their regular passports. This problem is not one of refugees. It is a problem with these countries’ citizens—and it is far, far bigger than any problem of infiltration of refugee populations.

The same observation could also apply to the United States where, according to U.S. intelligence reports, over 150 American citizens, including recent converts to Islam, are known to have travelled to Syria to join the ranks of various militias there, with some confirmed to have joined the Syrian branch of Al-Qaeda.

To be sure, there could be more infiltrators among the refugees. Indeed, there probably are. But we’re talking about a handful, or a few dozen, potential terrorists. Is that really enough to exclude close to a million genuinely hurt people looking for shelter? If we are that risk averse there will be no reason for us to get up in the morning. We shouldn’t become desensitized to terrorism, but neither should we let the fear of it override our better judgement or our sense of decency and humanity.

At a time when the name Syria has come to be synonymous with the most bestial of killing, I want to say a word here in defense of my country on this very point: Syria is a country that has always been hospitable to refugees of all stripes. Syrians have welcomed refugees with open arms for centuries. Indeed, modern Syria is a place where Armenians, mostly Orthodox Christians, found shelter from the genocidal venture of the Ottomans. Over the last few decades, Palestinians, Iraqis and Lebanese—Sunnis, Shia and Christians—all have found haven there too. This only adds a somber, even macabre, quality to the rejection and fear that Syrian refugees are facing today.

A Syrian woman embraces her children after they arrived from Turkey. Aid agencies estimate that, over the past month, about 2,000 people a day have been making the short crossing to Greece’s eastern islands on rubber dinghies. (Source: AP)
Yes, it is shameful that not enough Muslim countries are opening their doors to Syrian refugees. But does this hypocritical attitude justify a similar one by Western countries? Saudi Arabia should certainly host more Syrian refugees. But who can blame a Syrian refugee who does not want to live under Sharia rule? When I left Syria in 2005 with my family, I confess that the thought of moving my wife and daughter to the Kingdom never cross my mind. Sure, many of the refugees are traditionalists, religiously speaking, but that doesn’t mean they are Wahhabis. And most traditionalist Syrians I know have no desire whatsoever to have a group of the sort of ignorant scholars produced by the Wahhabi establishment take charge of regulating their lives. That attitude by itself should alleviate many of the fears and doubts surrounding the basic beliefs of the Syrian refugees as a group.

To be sure, many traditional Muslims have problems with issues like women’s rights, homosexuality and perception of members of other faiths, not to mention those of their own faith who no longer follow the traditional teachings. But isn’t this a global phenomenon that affect Christians, Jews, Hindus and even Buddhists? And although there are Muslims who have problems with these issues, there are many others who do not. The percentages may not be the same as in Western non-Muslim circles, but the processes of modernization had a late start in Muslim communities, and many people simply need more time to pick up the necessary momentum. In any event, the influx of refugees is unlikely to change how these issues are being tackled in any of the Western countries involved. [On the contrary, immersion in Western culture is bound to have a positive life-changing impact on the lives of the overwhelming majority of these refugees on some of these very issues, among others, as happened with me and my family.

Nor is it likely to negatively affect the economics of the host countries. Most refugees have enough skills and talents to become contributing members of society shortly after their arrival, and most want nothing but to prove that.

People hold up placards during a demonstration as part of apan-european movement to welcome refugees and call on European governments toshow solidarity with refugees and migrants, in Athens, Greece. (Source:Reuters)
As for why second and third generation Muslim youths in Europe, and to a much lesser extent, the U.S. and Canada, are getting radicalized, the issue is more related to the socioeconomic conditions they experience in Europe and to a host of individual psychological conditions that young people from different faiths may experience and which propel people to join gangs and cults and commit heinous crimes on their own. People choose the elements of their faiths and their holy books that best suit the quirks and whims of their own minds and souls. So unless they are already prepared for radicalization, no one can radicalize them. This is where most of the fight against extremism ought to take place, and if there is any connection to refugees in this matter, it lies here: a better reception is in and of itself part of the fight against any potential radicalization down the road. People remember how the countries in which they end up received them—whether graciously or hostilely.

A better reception is also good for strategic reasons, especially in Europe’s case. After all, while the development of the refugee flow might have begun haphazardly, it couldn’t have continued without the tacit knowledge and approval of Turkish authorities. The growing fissures and divisions between European states as to what Europe can do, which states should do it, and who should finance it all has revealed to everyone the continued weakness of the fledgling entity that is the EU. And Turkey has an ax to grind on this point. Now Russia too is jumping into the game by opening its border checkpoints with Norway and allowing itself to serve as a most unlikely route for Syrians to reach Europe. The numbers are in the hundreds so far, but the message is clear.

Europe is, indeed, under attack, but it’s not under attack from refugees. And the reason she is under attack at this stage is related to Europe’s continuing inability to make sense of its new identity as a united entity. Europe may not have to speak with one voice on each and every issue, but she has to find ways for managing disagreements without turning them into existential threats. Agreeing on a clear policy towards the Syrian refugees and the Syrian conflict, one that is commensurate with European interests and values alike would constitute a significant step in this regard.

In moments of crises, we all tend to show our true colors.

The Daily Delirynth

UmReeka: Obama, Hollande Ponder What to Do About Syria’s Assad. They met, they talked, and the only thing they could agree on is more bombing. And people were afraid that the Paris Attacks will make Western governments overreact! Our fear of the little battle will bring upon us the big war. Meanwhile, more experts blast Obama’s Syria policy. This is becoming a ritual by now, and like so many ritual, completely devoid of meaning.   

North of Holy: Petraeus warns against sending ground troops to Syria. By now we really do know that no one wants to put boots on the ground, except for the Iranians and the Russians, and their mercenaries, as well as members of the Jihadi international. What we don’t know is how can IS/Daesh be defeated without them. The Kurds and Sunni Arab tribes currently doing the fighting are too few to get the job done, and other rebel groups cannot shift their attention from the fight against Assad at this stage, because no one will protect their backs. Who will take Daesh on the ground? That is the question no wants to answer.

But developments like the shooting down of a Russian jet along the Syrian-Turkish border show clearly that none of the parties involved in Syria’s increasingly complicated conflict has the luxury of time. Such developments could indeed transform the “limited” proxy war into a full-fledged regional confrontation.

It’s interesting to note that some Russian media outlets have already invoked history between the Russians and Ottomans at the beginning of the Russian intervention in Syria. Ishan Tharoor of the Washington Post does a good job reviewing the recent history of the two defunct empires now chasing after some of that old glory.

Police officers escort Bilal Mohammad (center front) and Mieraili Yusufu, the two suspects in the Aug. 17 blast at Bangkok's Erawan Shrine, after they arrived at a military court in Bangkok on Tuesday. | AP
And the picture is set to get more complicated should China feel obligated to intervene in a more direct manner in the situation following the execution of one of its citizens by Daesh. China is already quietly conducting an “anti-terror” campaign against Uighur separatists operating in the province of Xinjiang, and the campaign is turning out to be far more massive and militaristic than previously thought

The Daily Mail
Of course, the Uighur Question in China cannot be reduced to terrorism; the Uighur people do have legitimate aspirations and concerns that needs to be addressed and which the Chinese government continues to ignore, using violence to suppress any pubic manifestation of discontent. But Uighur separatists have been behind some well-documented terrorist attacks, and religious motivations have been increasingly involved in their struggle, with many fighters opting to join Al-Qaeda operations in Afghanistan and elsewhere. Some have reportedly joined the ranks of Daesh in Syria. According to authorities in Thailand, Uighurs have also been involved in organizing the terrorist attack on a Bangkok shrine that took place back on August 17. In fact, just today, a Thai military court indicted two Uighur nationals on charges related to the bombing. But while such cases might suggest that China should become a legitimate partner in the fight against terrorism, China’s domestic policies in places such as Xinjian and Tibet makes the issue far more complicated, with Chinese authorities pushing for a broad definition of terrorism that would deny the legitimacy of  some of the demands of its discontented ethnic groups.

The Pumaga (The Bloody Misadventures of Vladdie the Pu): Russia’s complex anti-ISIS campaign in Syria would be impossible without Iran – Putin. Never one to miss an opportunity to embarrass the United States, in the press conference that followed his meeting with Khamenei, Putin noted that he sees Iran as a “reliable ally in the region and the world,” before adding the following gem:

“Unlike certain parties, we are committed to never stab our partners in the back or take any behind-the-stage move against our friends and to resolve any differences that may arise through dialogue.” 

The meeting between the leaders took place on the sidelines of the Gas Exporting Countries Forum summit. Start playing the Twilight theme song.

The Puman will soon have another occasion to use the term “stab in the back” again when he commented on the downing of the Russian jet over Turkish airspace: “the loss today is a stab in the back, carried out by the accomplices of terrorists.” The incident will have “serious consequences” on Moscow’s relations with Ankara, he vowed. 

As for the “accomplices of terrorists” reference, well, the links between IS/Daesh have been an open secret for years, but a country who have been backing the greatest terrorist of all in Syria, the Assad regime, and who has just celebrated her ties to another terrorist-funding country in the region, namely Iran, has little credibility when it comes to condemning terrorism.

Be that as it may, Vladdie had nothing to say about the downing of a Russian helicopter involved in the search for the two jet pilots, and the death of its Russian pilot by rebels in northern Syria. His eye is always on the bigger picture. 

The Faqihnameh (The Sordid Tales of the Little Black-Turbaned Mullahs): Naturally, Vladdie was not the only one to take potshots at the United States during the encounter in Tehran. The Ayatollah was more than ready with a few of his own:

… “The Americans have a long-term plot and are trying to dominate Syria and then the whole region ... This is a threat to all countries, especially Russia and Iran.”…

Yet, strangely enough, Americans have pulled out of Iraq, and have no boots on the ground in Syria. Iran and Russia on the other hand… Now if the leader of Iran is willing to commit himself to such big and obvious lies, what does that tell us about his commitment to the Nuclear Deal, especially now that the Russian ban on cooperation between the two countries has been lifted. Can we really trust the stated reasons for that: redesigning plants in order to comply with the nuclear agreement?

… “The United States is now trying to achieve its failed military objectives in Syria by political means.” …

If this is Iran’s leaders see the ongoing negotiation over Syria’s future, how constructive will Iran’s participation prove in the process? The Ayatollah leaves little room for doubt in this regard when he follows up by saying: “This must be prevented through wisdom and active interaction.

… “Apart from the nuclear problem, we are not going to hold bilateral negotiations with the Americans on any issues, including the Syrian crisis”…

So much for all those “experts” who claimed that the deal will pave way to a thawing in relations between the two countries.

… “Unwillingness [by Washington] to accept Russia’s growing influence in the region and in the international arena affects all the US decisions and actions concerning Syrian question.”…

So, Russia does have long term plans for the region, and her venture into Syria is not meant as a short-term commitment.

… “Any decision on Syria should be implemented with the consent of the Syrian people and rulers… The United States has no right to ignore the voice of the Syrian people.”…

And Iran and Russia’s leaders are so committed to the obtaining the consent of the Syrian people, they are busy helping Assad decimate all those who would disagree with them. Only Iran and Russia and their useful idiot have the right the “divine” right of course, to ignore the voice of the Syrian people, as per the Zarif Plan.

The hypocrisy involved here is sickening.

Quote of the Day

“there's very good evidence indeed that one of the major reasons for this horror in Syria, funnily enough, was a drought that lasted for about five or six years, which meant that huge numbers of people in the end had to leave the land." --Prince Charles

Tweets of the Day
Video(s) of the Day

John Oliver takes on the issue of the vetting process of Syrian refugees during a segment on Last Week Tonight: 


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