Answering de Mistura’s Call

1 02 2016

A couple of days ago, the United Nations Special Envoy for Syria, Staffan de Mistura recorded a message to the women, men and children of Syria, ahead of the Intra-Syrian Talks at UN Geneva. And I answered his call on Facebook with the following message:

I appreciate your call Mr. Staffan, and being a Syrian citizen myself, I am more than happy to respond with my wishes for the new Syria from my point of view:
1. I want a secular Syria where all citizens are treated equally and fairly by law, where no person will be judged or tried based on their religion or beliefs.
2. I want an independent country that doesn’t become a US puppet or a NATO slave, with a firm foreign policy that works actively on getting the occupied Golan heights back from Israel (something that the UN has failed to resolve since 1967 with the security council resolution 242), and that stands side by side with the Palestinians to establish their own independent country.
3. I want a democracy that is based on merit, not on religion. Democracy that grows from the inside by the Syrians themselves, not the US-enforced model of democracy in Iraq or Libya, nor the KSA-sponsored Lebanese model that splits the government based on the country’s religious sects! So no, a Sunni president is not an acceptable solution just because they represent the major religious sect, nor is any other president chosen solely based on their religion.

And now, I will tell you why these 3 seemingly basic points will never come true, no matter how much we say “khalas” or “kefaya”:
1. How can the so-called “Syrian representatives” in Geneva agree on secularism when the opposition members were basically elected by Saudi Arabia, the notoriously religious kingdom? And where Erdogan, the self-proclaimed Ottoman emperor (in power for 13 years and counting) with a shameful record of tyranny and oppression is also the number one sponsor of some of the extremist rebel group, and actively supports them with the aid of the Turkish army?
2. How can Syria ever be independent and get back its occupied territories when the primary sponsor of the current “representatives” and negotiations is the United States (Israel’s bodyguards)? When did anything good ever come from a US sponsored solution anyway?!
3. How can we ever have a proper democracy when the so-called “revolutionists” and “moderate rebels” are fighting based on a religious agenda supported and armed by countries such as the KSA, Qatar, and Turkey? And they even have “representatives” speaking on their behalf in Geneva!

So, you see sir, we’re not the solution, and we’ll never become the solution as long as Syria is being played by a bunch of hypocrite politicians, warlords, and arm dealers who seek nothing but profit and political gains. So my suggestion for you is to turn to those people instead and tell them to quit their hypocrisy and fix their own countries before trying to fix Syria, and get their filthy hands out of it. They’re the ones fueling the war and they’re the ones with the power to end it, not us.
Best of luck in your impossible mission.
(Hint: Do as Kofi Annan did and save face before it’s too late. The UN is incapacitated beyond repair at this point)





Internet Access In Syria, F.A.Q.

1 07 2008

This post was originally intended as a response to comments on a previous post Broadband, Syria: The Dream. But I found it to contain lots of useful information (especially to foreigners) that I found it better to publish it as a new post instead.

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Q. How much do you pay a month to get ADSL connection at home?
A. It depends on the line speed, starting at 2400 Syrian Pounds per month (conversion rate $1 ~= 48 S.P.) for 256 Kbps. 3700 S.P. for 512 Kbps. Check the following table for more details: ADSL connection – CEC ISP

Q. I’m intending to live in Damascus, are there places there where I wont be able to get a connection?
A. Yes, there are. DSL capable phone centers do not cover all areas in Damascus. I couldn’t find an official list of covered areas in English, so I translated it to you:
Covered areas in Damascus: Mouhajereen, Mezzah, Kafr Souseh, Barzeh, Baghdad street, Alnasr, Aljalaa’, Bab Sharki, Rouken Eldin, Althawrah, Alyarmook, Doummar.

Q. do you have limitations and proxies form your house or are those limitations removed?
A. Some private ISPs don’t use a proxy server, some do. However it doesn’t matter because ALL internet connections from Syria to the outside world go through an invisible government proxy server, and all ISPs here are forced to connect through that server. So, YES there are limitations.
The limitations are mostly used for political reasons (i.e. Israeli websites, and pro-Israeli agencies and corporations). There are also some limitations that WE Syrians cannot understand, the following non-political (in nature) websites are blocked too: Facebook, YouTube, Amazon, EBAY, and the whole .blogspot domain, and many others…
Anyway, you could easily bypass this block, like most Syrians do, you could install a VPN program, or use an online service to get where you want.

Links you may find useful (in English):
The Official Public Syrian ISP
Aloola ISP

I hope I was able to answer your questions. If you have any more questions do not hesitate to ask, you could also email one of the ISPs I listed here for more information.

There is one problem though. New ADSL connections are put on hold for the time being, because (as officially said by the government officials) we ran out of PDN access points, and the U.S. (and other countries) are banning the export of necessary equipments that we need to widen our infrastructure. So, you may face some difficulties trying to get a new ADSL line. Currently, Syrians are trading available lines between themselves for a much higher price because of that.
There are other forms of connections, like Satellite access. And currently, cell phone companies are test-driving their new 3G networks, so you may as well try to get a 3G connection (speeds up to 3.7 Mbps) to access the internet. Check this page for further details: Syriatel 3G Internet Access.

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For other questions about Syria and lots of tourism information, check out the Syrian Ministry of Tourism’s official website: Ministry of Tourism – Syria.





متعة كرة القدم في حلب

30 06 2008

اليوم، متلنا متل كل هالشباب، قررنا نحضر المباراة النهائية بكأس أوروبا 2008، بس…. صار معنا مشكلة صغيرة شوي، اتأخرنا!!!

رحنا عالقهوة المعتادة (جنب مشفى الرازي) ولقيناها معباية طبعاً.. من هون لهون مافي طاولة (أو حتى نص طاولة) لنقعد؟!؟! لا والله ما بقيان محلات..

حملنا حالنا ومشينا، وصوات الناس بالقهوة واصلة لتاني حارة.. ونحنا عم نفكر وين بدنا نروح عالأقل لنلحق الشوط التاني مو أكتر..

رحنا على 3 قهاوي مختلفة بالجميلية ونفس القصة.. بعدين رحنا على منطقة الخالدية (أرض القهاوي والمطاعم) وعينك ما تشوف إلا النور.. نحنا نزلنا من السرفيس حسيت حالي وصلت عالملعب!! أصوات العالم كل ما تضيع فرصة أو يصير فاول.. عنجد كان شعور كتير مميز!! وعالأغلب ما بيلتقى متل هيك أجواء بغير بلد. بس حلب بالذات (بما أني وافد جديد للمدينة) هي فعلاً مدينة عشاق الكرة!

بحياتي ما شفت شعب بيحب كرة القدم متل أهل حلب! لدرجة أنو أصغر واحد فيهون متل الموسوعة الرياضية، بيقلك أسماء اللاعبين كلون والمدرب وحتى الاحتياط، وبيعرفو كمان بأي نادي بيلعب كل واحد منون!!

المهم، بعد ما مشينا شي 3 – 4 كيلومتر وفتنا على شي 15 قهوة أو مطعم (بدون مبالغة)، أخيييييييييراً لقينا طاولة بمطعم.. وكانت المباراة شبه خلصانة (الدقيقة 70).. بس والله كيف ما كان، أنا كتير انبسطت، لأنو عنجد لو تشوفو كيف كان الجو!! يعني لو الشاشة كانت أكبر من هيك كنت مستحيل تحس بالفرق بين المطعم والملعب..

المشكلة ما أخدت صورة اليوم، بس هلق نكشت صورة قديمة من وقت مباريات كأس العالم 2006، وقتها كان في مدرج طلابي مخصص لمباريات كأس العالم. وهي الصورة ممكن تعطيكون فكرة عن الأجواء:

مباراة من كأس العالم 2006 في �لب

شعور مميز فعلاً.. ومبروك لجماهير اسبانيا..





Hats Off To The Syrian Railroads!

21 06 2008

They made it! The train connecting Damascus and Aleppo is now taking a little more than 4 hours! And it’s a great achievment..

I’ve been on trips that took up to 6 hours on the old set of trains. And even when the new train-set came it also took up to 5 hours.. But today they have proven to be right on track to become a real competitor in the passenger transoprtation business here in Syria.

I really appreciate all the work they made to make this possible. And I really hope they could even make that trip shorter.

So, today I made a trip from Damascus to Aleppo, and I enjoyed it. Therefore I had to mention it here as a sign of appreciation and a plea to the government to keep on improving all means of public transportation.

Here’s the link to the Syrian Railways’ official website: http://www.cfssyria.org/





التلطيش من آثار العولمة

30 05 2008

في إحدى الإذاعات المحلية الخاصة التي تناقش مواضيع وقضايا تهم المجتمع، توصل الجميع إلى أن ظاهرة المعاكسة الكلامية “التلطيش” هي من آثار العولمة.

الغريب في الموضوع أن التلطيش كان -وما يزال- موجوداً منذ كان البشر يعيشون في الكهوف! فلا بد أن يتواجد فردٌ ما يطلق لسانه عند رؤية امرأةٍ فائقة الجمال. وهذا الكلام مثبت على الأقل بشكل إحصائي.

لن أخوض في صحة التلطيش أو عدمها، فالموضوع لا يستحق النقاش أصلاً. ولكنني لا أستطيع منع نفسي عن التحسس كلما قرأت عن ربطٍ جديد بين الفشل العربي والعولمة!

حاولت كثيراً أن أفهم أسباب هذا الربط ولكنني لا أجد سبباً مقنعاً، سوى أنها أصبحت “موضة”. وبما أن كل البشر يحبون إلقاء اللوم على الغير فقد أصبحت تلك “الموضة” منتشرةً بشكل واسع، حتى بين الأفراد الذين لا يعلمون حتى معنى كلمة العولمة.
وهنا أحببت أن أنوّه -دون الخوض في التفاصيل والكلام السياسي- أن ظاهرة “لوم العولمة” هي ظاهرةٌ غير صحية ولا بد لنا من معالجتها حتى نستطيع أن نرتقي بطريقة التفكير والنقد الذاتي، وهي الخطوة الأولى في طريق تطوير المجتمع السوري بشكل عام.

ولا بد من الملاحظة أن سورية الآن في مؤخّرة الدول “المُعولمة” -إن صحّ التعبير- نسبةً إلى باقي دول العالم. وإذ بنا نلقي اللوم، في أغلب مشاكلنا الاجتماعية، على العولمة، في حين أنها ما تزال على أبوابنا. فكيف الحال إن كانت جزءاً من أساس المجتمع ذاته؟!

فلماذا إذاً نحبّ أن نلوم غيرنا؟ ولماذا نظنّ أننا شعبٌ لا يخطئ ويرث أخطاءه من الغرب المتوحّش؟!؟ هناك على ما أظنّ سببان:
– أننا وصلنا إلى مرحلة مأساوية من اليأس من المجتمع أو الدولة، فرضت علينا الهروب من واقعنا وتوجيه الاتهام إلى الغرب باعتباره عدواً جاهزاً لتحمل المسؤولية دون نقاش يذكر.
– أو لأننا لا نرى حقيقة حالنا، وهي الحالة الأخطر، فإن كان هناك فعلاً حاجزٌ ما يمنعنا من رؤية مشاكلنا وتحليلها بشكل مسؤول، فنحن في وضعٍ أسوأ مما قد يفرضه علينا أقوى وألدّ أعدائنا.

أما إذاعاتنا الخاصة فأقول لها: دعونا نبتعد عن نشر ثقافة اليأس، ولنكن أكثر موضوعية في النقاش والتحليل. أو، في حال تعارض ذلك مع سياستكم، دعونا نكتفي بسماع الأغاني والإعلانات، ولله الحمد.

وعلى سيرة التلطيش: يحضرني قول السيد “أيمن رضا” في مسلسل “بقعة ضوء”: “شو هالحلو هاد؟ ريتك تطلعي على قبري، تتفركشي وتنزلي محلّي”. ولي على قلبي!!!





Spread The Word

17 05 2008

But what kind of word??

I’m writing this after watching 5 mins. of the Syrian private satellite channel (Cham TV). It’s obviously spreading a word. But not the right word IMHO.

We are living in a world where the single, most important factor in cultural supremacy is SCIENCE. And, because we’re actually well behind the other part of the world in science and technology, I’d say the right word to spread is science, not religion.

If we really want to compete with other countries, we need to encourage every man, woman, and child to learn and love science. This doesn’t mean that we should forget about religion, but I have yet to see any mention of science in our local TV channels, and that’s bad. If we intend to close the technological gap separating us from the rest of the world, we have got to start moving NOW, not tomorrow, not later, but NOW. And TV would be a very good starting point.

So, everybody, spread the word, the word of science. For a better future for all of us.





Broadband, Syria: The Dream!

13 05 2008

I can’t help but wonder everyday about the future of the Internet here in Syria.

Currently, I’m using a monthly flat-rate modem connection to get access to the outside world. And today I stumbled upon this article, which discusses the broadband initiative in the USA. And they are quite angry because they are actually falling BEHIND in the worldwide broadband race!

The very same article is listing France as one of the world’s leaders in broadband spread. Some of the ISPs there are constructing THEIR OWN fiber networks, which led to a DSL price drop all the way down to $20/mo for a 20Mbps ADSL2+ connection!

So, according to my modest calculations (taking the average income rate in Europe into consideration), the DSL subscriber is paying ~2% of his monthly income for broadband access. Which translates to approx. 160 Syrian Pounds for the Syrian subscriber (assuming an income rate of 8000 S.P a month)! Let’s not forget that this is for a 20Mbps connection.

I’m not trying to compare my country to European countries, because I know we don’t have their financial/cultural capabilities. This post is just a reminder for the Syrian people to know how much we are falling behind in the global Internet domain.

This gap is causing lots of losses. As the Internet is growing larger and more important each day, it’s becoming the master mainstream method of communication, competing with telephone lines. And if we don’t speed up the work to close this gap, we’ll be cut out from the world in terms of communication, and we’ll lose a huge amount of productive time only because we can’t get the information we want as fast as other people in Europe or Asia.

I don’t know how to further explain the importance of the Internet in the upcoming years. But I CAN help to raise a voice of concern to those who make the decision, and I hope all of you do the same, and take your part to spread the word and educate other people about the Internet and its capabilities, in the hope of making the Syrian Broadband Dream become a reality..