Human, Again

I am sitting in my office, on the ground – we don’t sit on chairs around here.

I am sitting in my office. My freaking office, that took me months to get. It took me months to get my close circle here take my work and believes on children rights seriously. It took me six months to get where I am today.

I am sitting in this office and feeling down. Very. I’ve been talking to my friends in another city telling them that I am moving in to where they are. I don’t think I can live here any longer.

I am tired. I can’t cry with someone here. I can’t speak my mind at all, with someone here.

I was talking to another female blogger living in the liberated part of her city- what she’s facing is the same as I am here.

My bed in the Summers. We use this net to sleep well from Mosquitoes.

My bed in the Summers. We use this net to sleep well from Mosquitoes.

It’s war and it’s a man’s wold. We women, revolutionary women, are trying our best to exist in such world and it’s exhausting. It’s too much work and battles every now and then and I am tired.

I have lots of work to do and yet I was browsing crochet women wear last night, haha..I mean, I never did that before..well except out of curiosity. But last night I did it with lust.

I want to go shopping, I want to look at the mirror and wear nice stuff. I want to do my hair nicely. I want to wear makeup. I want to go to the movies, I want to spend one month doing nothing but watching anime.

I want to see my family.

My family, on the 6th. of October it would be a whole year since I’ve last seen my family.

I used to nag on my dad, and he used to ignore me. I used to joke with my mom a lot. Go shopping with her. She hates it when I tag along with her on her shopping festivals.

I used to make fun of her diets. She keeps saying she’ll quit smoking and I keep telling her I won’t.

I miss my family. I miss my dad. Who’d let me do whatever – my thoughts here froze upon hearing the sound of MiG flying above of us. The FSA fighters are trying to fire at it but in vain. (Send us real weapons, will you? I’m trying to write a post here without worrying about dying).

I was talking about dad. Now I’ve lost the moment. Damn you, Bashar!

Anyways, I guess I miss normal life. I mean, I am happy here all the time but I guess sometimes I reach the point where I want to explode.

People ask me: “where are you from?” I say I am from Damascus but I am not. My mom is from Homs, but my dad is the son of a Palestinian who lost his home before Syrian independence. Who couldn’t return home due to the foundation of Israel.

Where I am from? Palestine? Syria? Damascus? Homs?

I belong to this revolution that exceeds its national boundaries. I love all revolutions. I love the revolutionaries who understand the meaning of it, its morals, its aspirations and its vision.

I don’t mind living like this, under shelling, no electricity and water, no friends and family. It’s the patriarchal traditions that are preventing my creativity. I have lots of things I want to do and I need to fight harder to make them happen.

I mean it when I said that shelling doesn’t bother me. It scares the hell out of me but I won’t leave because of it.

I won’t leave because of ISIS. I won’t leave because of patriarchy.

But I might leave if I am no longer functioning. So far I think I am.

Not sure why I wrote this post anymore, this airplane made me lose track.

Went to the media center to find out what happened with the airplane: the airplane fired something like cluster bombs but I am waiting for the video or pictures to verify. Lots of people wounded, mostly children. One child lost his arm.

UPDATE Sat 10th. 10:39 AM: one man martyred last night from his injuries.

This morning one man brought the below thing for the media center to take pictures of it. I don’t know what it is, the airplane fired a rocket that’s filled with twenty of these, each one of these carry the bombs that wounded almost 50 people last night.

IMAG2452 IMAG2453 IMAG2450 IMAG2451 IMAG2449

Group of Syrians Respond to Jeremy Bowen’s “Coverage” of #Syria

A group of Syrians inside Syria and abroad have put together a statement questioning Jeremy Bowen’s so-called coverage of Syria in his latest visit there. The statement goes as the following:

We are appalled by BBC’s Middle East Editor Jeremy Bowen’s coverage from Damascus the last few weeks especially his coverage from Maloula, the historical Aramaic village. As the Middle East editor, Mr Bowen is scene as the expert who can provide fair coverage and in depth analysis of the situation wherever he travels. But in this very last trip, right after the chemical attack by government forces on Eastern Ghouta took place, we find Mr Bowen’s coverage showing the regime’s line without pausing the right questions for the audience.

For example, why Mr. Bowen didn’t visit the areas where the chemical attack took place? Why in his coverage of Damascus and the “normality” he didn’t tell the audience of how the situation for civilians was going only across the street from some areas he visited like Abassyeen square? And most importantly, he didn’t explain to us what really happened in Maloula? How was he allowed access there and not to other areas in Damascus where continuous government bombardment is taking place.?

Mr Bowen showed the story as the government wanted it to be portrayed, Islamist Jihadist and Al Qaeda linked attacking Christians in Maloula? Why the expert knowledgeable editor didn’t pause the question of the timing of the attack coinciding with President Obama’s attempt to have a strike against the regime?

There are tens of Christian villages around Homs and Hama and in Northern Syria that never been attacked over the last two years, and only now Maloula, the famous and historic place that the whole world can relate to is attacked?

Do we really know that Jabhat Al Nusra was behind the attack? On what basis Mr Bowen took it as a fact that Alnusra is behind the attack on the village? How can Mr Bowen say “The Americans are supporting the wrong side”?

As independent Syrian intellectuals and citizens, we always had faith and trust in the BBC World’s coverage of Syria, and here we make the distinction by the coverage of World and Arabic service where the latter has lost the credibility line in their coverage of Syria and were more bias to the regime.

The credibility and impartiality that the BBC editorial guidelines have held high in journalism have been absent in BBC Arabic coverage of Syria.

We respect highly the journalistic standards and ethics of the BBC as the leading organization in journalism and we hope the organization would clarify the points raised ahead and that the ME Editor Jeremy Bowen revisit his coverage and show a balanced explanation of the lines he used in his coverage.

The situation in Syria is not Al Qaeda versus Secular Assad regime; it is brutal dictatorship against people who took to the streets calling for dignity and freedom.

Yours Truly,
Group of Syrians inside Syria and abroad

المركز السوري للبحوث السياسات: تحليل في دور الضربة‎

انشر فيما يلي ملخص البحث, وفي الاسفل رابط تحميل البحث كاملا.

بالتعاون مع العديد من الباحثين والمختصين والمهتمين في المجتمع المدني السوري، يستكمل المركز السوري لبحوث السياسات في إطار مشروع استشراف بدائل الحل للأزمة السورية محاولة ربط البحوث والمعارف مع الخيارات السياسية بمنهجية علمية تشاركية، وفي هذه الدراسة يقدم المركز تحليلاً لسيناريوهات الأزمة التي اعتمدت على استقصاء لآراء الخبراء السوريين لتحديد أكثر السيناريوهات احتمالاً وأكثرها تفضيلاً، ورسم خارطة الفاعلين في الأزمة السورية. ويقدم تحليلاً لدور الضربة الامريكية المحتملة في سيناريوهات الأزمة السورية.

وتخلص الدراسة المرفقة إلى الرسائل التالية:

1-    تعتزم الإدارة الأمريكية توجيه ضربة عسكرية “محدودة” للنظام في سورية في وقت قريب بقرار من خارج مجلس الأمن، لاضعاف قدرات النظام العسكري بخاصة فيما يتعلق بالأسلحة الكيميائية حسب المصرح به من قبل الإدارة الأمريكية، وتقوم نتائج هذه الدراسة على هذا النطاق للضربة.

2-    الضربة المحتملة تزيد من احتمال سيناريوهات استمرار النزاع المسلح، والحسم العسكري للمعارضة، وانهيار الدولة، بينما تقلل إلى حد كبير من فرص سيناريوهات الحل السياسي وبطبيعة الحال سيناريو الحسم العسكري للنظام.

3-    بحسب تحليل حجم القوى الفاعلة ودرجة دعمها لكل من سيناريوهات الأزمة، تظهر الدراسة أن الأكثر استفادة من الضربة المحتملة على المستوى الداخلي هي الكتائب الإسلامية وفي السيناريوهات الثلاثة المرجحة نتيجة الضربة. أما على المستوى الخارجي، فإن إسرائيل الأكثر استفادة من الضربة كونها الداعم الأول لسيناريوهي استمرار النزاع المسلح وانهيار الدولة، أما أمريكا فهي داعمة لهذين السيناريوهين ولكن بدرجة أقل. وتعتبر السعودية وقطر مستفيدين من الضربة المحتملة كونهم يدعمون بدرجات متفاوتة السيناريوهات الثلاثة التي تعزز الضربة من احتمال حدوثها.

4-    أظهرت نتائج الدراسة أن أميركا تدعم بالدرجة الأولى سيناريو المفاوضات بثقل خارجي، ولكن مع قيامها بالضربة فهي تقوم بالتقليل بشكل كبير من احتمالية حصول سيناريو المفاوضات على حساب زيادة الدعم لسيناريوهات أخرى مثل استمرار النزاع وانهيار الدولة، الأمر الذي يظهر تناقضاً بين أولويات الضربة وأولويات أمريكا بحسب تحليل السيناريوهات في الأزمة السورية.

5-    ستزيد الضربة بالدرجة الأولى من احتمالية حدوث سيناريو استمرار النزاع المسلح إضافة إلى تعزيز حصول سيناريو انهيار الدولة واللذان يعتبران أكثر السيناريوهات دعماً من قبل إسرائيل والكتائب الإسلامية، وبالتالي يمكن الاستنتاج أن الضربة تدعم خيار هذين الفاعلين بشكل رئيسي. أي أن الضربة الأمريكية تعزز المصالح الاسرائيلية والكتائب الإسلامية إلى حد كبير.

6-    من وجهة نظر المصلحة السورية، التناقض واضح بين أولويات الضربة والأولويات المفضلة وفق رؤيا سورية المستقبل، حيث تعزز الضربة إلى حد كبير احتمالية استمرار النزاع المسلح الذي يعد أسوأ السيناريوهات المحتملة بحسب الرؤيا المستقبلية أي أن الهدف الرئيسي للضربة يسير في عكس اتجاه مصلحة سورية المستقبلية والأمر نفسه ينطبق على ازدياد احتمالية الدولة الفاشلة وأخيراً وبدرجة أقل الحسم العسكري للمعارضة. بالمقابل تقلل الضربة احتمالية أكثر سيناريوهين مفضلين وهما المفاوضات بثقل داخلي وبثقل خارجي حيث تضعف الضربة احتمالات الحل السياسي بشكل ملموس.

7-    ستقود الضربة وفق السيناريوهات المحتملة إلى زيادة الخسائر البشرية والمادية واستمرار تدهور ظروف المعيشة وازدياد معدلات الفقر والهجرة والنزوح، وتشجع داعمي الخيارات المسلحة من مختلف الأطراف.

مع التحية والتقدير

المركز السوري لبحوث السياسات

Strike_and_Syrian_Crisis_Scenarios تحميل بحث المركز السوري للبحوث السياسية

Love, War and Revolution

He sent me a letter just now. Telling me that a rocket fell on a demonstration he was participating in. Few protesters were injured. He wrote that he was scared. That his heart almost fell out of his chest.

“I love you, in case something happened to me, or God forbid, in case something happened to you,” is how he ended his message.

I had told him that I want us to be together. Because life is short now, it’s too short and I don’t want us to fight over the nothingness of normality. New nothingness has emerged, the nothingness of war and we can fight it. We can fight it with us being together, despite our fights and differences.

We couldn’t. We couldn’t coexist as lovers in cities living normal conditions. We couldn’t coexist in cities under regime occupation. Reality and its structure was too loud on our lives. It designs our “civil” priorities. It structures our “in-dependency.”

Our bond coexists wildly in war time, in revolutionary atmosphere.

Who says which reality is the “healthier” to figure out if we’re meant or not for each other? I can’t answer this question.

All I know is that the shelling becomes lighter with him next to me. The MiG sound in the sky is bearable, with him in my life.

It’s true. Love does defeat it all. Emergency changes your priorities up side down.

I want to be human again. And love is the answer.

Abu Qusay: Portrait of a Fighter – Yassin Haj Saleh – The Republic

Abu Qusay: Portrait of a Fighter – Yassin Haj Saleh – The Republic

Abu Qusay used to work as a tailor and a carpenter in his hometown of al-Ghizlaniya before the start of the revolution. When the tailoring business was slow, the heavy-set, burly 33-year-old would occupy himself with carpentry, and vice versa. Abu Qusay earned between 15,000 and 20,000 Syrian pounds on average per month. This was his family’s only source of income and it was barely enough money for a family with 4 young children, but as Abu Qusay would say “God will provide”.

Back

The window is closed so that my female guests wouldn’t show to outsiders while they’re getting dressed. The cat I am keeping home, against the house owner’s will, is trying to find a spot on my lap to sit while I am writing this post.

I have lots of laundry being soaked in water and soap waiting to be washed.

The electricity has been cut since 9 days, it’s the first time this happens ever since I moved to this village four months ago.

Two days ago we brought the generator home to fill the water container.

Ever since the electricity is gone we’ve been spending lots of money on fuel for the generator to charge our laptops.

We use a huge battery to keep the internet going without turning on the generator.

Communication is cut here totally for a year now: no land-phones or mobiles. Hence revolutionaries use satellite internet to connect to the world and to get their job done. It’s very expensive, that’s why it’s not easy to get it when you need it.

I am the only outsider (as in Syrian but not from the village), non-veiled, living- in- a –house- alone female in this village who’s working among male revolutionaries.  This sentence needs a lot of expanding for you to understand it but I am not going to try now, it’s too exhausting to explain.

The cat is happy on my lap. My female guests who came from the US have just left to donate money to the poor in neighboring villages.

It’s hard to be an outsider all the time: an outsider as an active woman occupying man’s spaces. An outsider in my looks, an outsider in my political stances. Even so, I feel I am closer to home here as an outsider than I have felt towards Syria and its people before the revolution.

Here, people ask questions about me in my face and behind my back. They ask how come I am not veiled and Muslim. How come I don’t pray and fast. How come I am with revolutionaries (who are male) all the time?

I am sure that not everybody accept me as I am and what I do. But I think the more people see of me the more I feel they accept and welcome me among them.

I am living in this house for free for the past four months. I go to shops to buy stuff and people sometimes don’t take money from me when they know I am here working with internally-displaced children.

People don’t get me nor do they agree with me at all when they hear my thoughts and political stances, yet they smile when they see me, offer to help me getting by in this village. I don’t feel that I am being judged around here.

It is not a picnic though to live as an outsider, as a person who’s clearly not from around here.

My guests ask me how I can do it. How I can continue to live a month after another without friends, family, or at least a similar mentality. My answer to them is simple and it’s an honest one. I couldn’t do it without the revolutionaries who are my family here. I couldn’t survive one day without them.

I don’t think this new family of mine, really gets the gender battles I am facing everyday, but they get part of it, and for that I am grateful.

For a week now I have been giving voluntary English lessons for almost 50 women here, married and unmarried. They’re very smart and eager to learn and be better.

I don’t get tired of work. Never. I wake up around 9 AM, drink my Turkish coffee that’s hard to get in the village, smoke few cigarettes, play with Raja, the cat, list down few things to do during the day, then go to my English lesson around 1 PM till 2:30 PM everyday except on Fridays.

A revolutionary is here from Syrian Nonviolent Peaceful Movement is giving us a training about Project management. The training is around 3 PM and finishes around 5 PM.

After that we buy stuff for Ramadan breakfast, cook and get ready for it and clean the center a bit.

We get busy for the breakfast for hours to come till 8:30 PM coz sources are scarce. I take an hour to cook on an oven usually, but there’s a one-eyed stove here, so we take around three or four hours to get the meal finished instead.

It’s very expensive to order food from restaurants and you have pretty much three options anyways: 1- grilled meat. 2-grilled chicken. 3-Sfiha.

Everyone fast around here that’s why I don’t smoke or eat or drink in public, I do so indoors and in front of close circles.

The cat is now sleeping on my lab.

After breaking the fast, my team and I meet around 9 PM to review the plan before going to the school of the day, where internally displaced people live in.

Our work target children specifically. We provide psychosocial support for them, play with them and train them how to hide from the shells. We also screen cartoons and songs and some vids for their families on nationality, civil rights, peaceful revolution, peace-building..etc.

I am proud of myself. I’ve never felt satisfied in my life as I do now. This is an amazing feeling, a rare feeling to feel, like love, to feel you’re satisfied with what you’re doing and with your achievements. I am 33 years old, and finally I am proud of myself.

We go to a school everyday except on Thursdays and Fridays. We finish around 11 PM in Ramadan, at 10 PM during the year.

It’s been a while since I wanted to write a post. I couldn’t since there isn’t time to do so nor energy left to sit and focus.

I am satisfied, Assad. I am satisfied to see what kind of woman I have become, due to this revolution and its space, due to revolutionaries who are mostly patriarchal, but willing to work, respect and love me as I am.

Oh, Assad, there are so many things you just can’t bomb.

PS. yesterday we went to a school in a neighboring village to find no kid in school (who are over 100) waiting for us. We learned from the families that a shell fell 5 meters away from it and killed a family of a father, mother and their child whose body parts was rapped in a bag.

The post is not totally finished. But I am happy that I wrote some of it.