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Saturday, March 12, 2005 

Life on Death Row

2004, the year of US Envoys, the year of a trade deal with the EU, the year of Israel's continuing satisfaction with a Syrian presence in Lebanon (it keeps Hezbollah quiet), the year of a US Ambassador in Damascus, the year of the hawks looking in Iran's direction.

What a difference a day makes. The Valentine's Day rose that was sent to Lebanon and Syria had a sharp thorn. And we still trying to guess who sent it.

The man who rebuilt Lebanon might just destroy Syria.

The man who's life brought stability and peace to Lebanon, and who's death brings uncertainty and maybe war to Syria.

I'm counting down the days till the regime change. In Washington.

Dude, this blog is so hot man! Love it yah. I try to cover these same issues but, hey, you actually live in that society and you got your nose to the ground. ;)

Why thank you my Canadian friend! I've just leapt over to your blog and oh my god!!! There isn't a way of saying I love it enough. You are the 'Angry Arab' of Canada. I'm calling you the Angry Canadian. It's fantastic. Where are all the revolutionaries hiding? It made me so angry, happy, mad, sad, all at the same time. Isn't it illegal to live on the left in North America?

I don't know of any Canadians living here (someone disagree with me??...) But I do know you'd be welcomed like a king. Tell me, have you been to the Arab World before? Yallah ta'aal...

Hahaha. You actually like it? LOL. I think I found you over at Josh Landis' site. Alas, I am not from Canada. I am an American, believe it or not. California is a state in the USA. ;) You will have to call me the Angry American. LOL. I am quite pleased that you like it, though. Basically, one of my idenities is hardline Arab nationalism. I am not Arab, but I do support that line. I knew a bunch of people associated with the PLO (mostly the PFLP) and they really influenced my views.

So, anyway, I am a strong supporter of the Arab cause, and it always pleases me to hear that the people I support actually appreciate it.

Oh there are revolutionaries here and there, but not very many. And no it is not illegal to be on the Left in the USA. It's just really unpopular, that's all.

Hmm, well, I am an American, you still sure they would welcome me? LOL. I am a bit afraid, I think. And no, I have never been to the Arab World before, ever. Esp now, I think I may be scared to go there.

I have always loved the Arabs though, for some weird reason. They are just the friendliest ppl around. As a Christian, I have a special affinity for the Arab Christians. Esp. Michael Aflaq, Nayef Hawatmeh, George Habash, Edward Said, Hanan Ashrawi, Naji Alloush, Kamal Nasser and Wadi Haddad. Hehe. Now, let's see if you know all those people. Do you? George Habash is my all time Arab hero, him and Leila Khaled. Heard of Leila?

Yes Josh Landis's site is amazing isn't it. So you are really a true scholar of the Arab Left! The PFLP, wow! They had quite a falling out with the PLO though. But they're still surviving in the depths of the camps in South Lebanon!

California is a state of the USA, yes but I thought I'd give you honourary Canadian status!! Oops.

Yes the Arab Christians, in my view, have been the most ardent protectors of Arab nationalism. All the names you mentioned...ah Leila Khaled! She's a bit before my time, but I saw her on Al-Jazeera recently, still flying the pan-Arab banner (she was the first female hijacker).

There's a large Christian population in Damascus (about 10%), mainly in the part of the old city called Bab Touma. And then there's Maalula, a Jesus-era village north of the capital.

Must point out a small difference - I'm a pan-Arabist, not a nationalist. Nationalism anywhere is destructive and narrow-minded because it seeks purity and homogenity. Pan-Arabism is different because it seeks to untie and strengthen the Arab World while still leaving room for non-Arabs like the Kurds, the Assyrians, the Berber.

No no no no no Robert!!! You would be welcomed in Damascus, I can almost guarantee that, and I never say that!! I have some American friends here teaching at the ALC. But be prepared to have the anti-Bush conversation with every taxi driver! You'll find the American population in Sha'alan, sitting in the Starbucks-a-like and the McNotDonalds, along with the wannabe-American population from the American schools nearby! Any more excuses for not coming?

PFLP, yep, look here: PFLP website. It's in Arabic, so you can get something out of it, me, I just look at the pictures. They are not just in the camps of S. Lebanon, but they are also in Syria I believe. Wink, wink. Also they have a significant presence in Jordan. The Arabs I knew were mostly PFLP supporters, so I kind of picked up their line. I liked em. Some of the female PFLP supporters were hardline feminists, and they used to chew those Arab guys out something awful man.

And some of them were a bit hostile to religion (esp hijab). I loved those Arab feminists! Pretty weird sight, these furious Arab women who support every resistance, even suicide bombers, and then they are these Western-like ferocious feminists too. Oh yah! Not exactly your typical "Arab fundamentalist Muslim terrorist crazy" eh? Plus, the PFLP people even supported gay rights (Can you believe?) and they used to just rip on the Arabs all the time, usually saying they were "backwards". But the criticism was in a spirit of liberation, not hate.

I estimate PFLP support in Territories at 80-100,000. They have quite a following and they were carrying out armed attacks regularly til recently, especially in Gaza, where they fight right alongside fundamentalists from Hamas! Weird or what?

Anyway, yeh, Leila Khaled was a big hero with Western feminists, you know? A lot had her poster on the wall. She's the ultimate badass feminist revolutionary chick with a gun. Love her. She's a member of PFLP Political Committee.

Well hey, I am a Pan-Arabist too then! Hehe. Never knew the difference and have always been bothered by the racism of many Arab nationalists. I even thought up my own new movement: Middle-Easternism. This would be a movement of all the anti-imperialist peoples native to the ME, except the recent colonizers in Palestine. That way you don't have to be Arab to feel part of it. And yeh, nationalism is often racist.

Haha. I would just agree with the taxi drivers then. Um, yeh, excuse? I am broke? Sorry.

I really didn't know that Leila Khaled meant so much in the West. And to feminists? Wow.

From what I've heard the PFLP and DFLP were quite anti-religious: secular fundamentalists!

Sorry to shatter the illusion (and no, I didn't meet any in Syria) but as far as i understand the PFLP are a spent political force.

They were led by George Habash (a Christian) weren't they. They hijacked that American cruise ship where the American in the wheelchair died. Then PFLP leader Abu Abbas was killed by American forces in Iraq.

Completely understand what they mean about being backwards! Its my big criticism too.

I have big issues with the phrase 'Middle East'. It's so Orientalist - it refers to the region from America/Europe's georgraphy. So it's disheartening to hear Arabs say 'Ash-Sharq Al-Awsat' (Middle East).

But more worryingly, by defining the region as 'Arab' it doesn't leave any room for the Israeli colonialists. It also removes their historic claims to the land.

There's also a huge debate about what constitutes this nebular 'Middle East'. It's either the Levant (Palestine to Syria) or the Arabian Peninsular. But that completely chops off North Africa. Which is absurd. There is an identifiable culture, history and language from Iraq to Morrocco.

So yes to Arab World, no to Middle East. Or I'll start lumping together Canada, the US and Mexico and calling it West-Northland.

Yes it is true, Leila Khaled was quite popular with the angry young feminist crowd for a time back in the day. It's just not true at all that PFLP and DFLP are spent forces. The PFLP has a lot more support than the DFLP. You will recall that PFLP killed the Israeli tourism minister back in 2001? PFLP carries out attacks on a regular basis, but it's true they are dwarfed by Hamas and PLO. Islamic Jihad is about as big as the PFLP but they have a lot more money. PFLP got like $150 million from Saddam from from 2001-2003, pretty good for a spent force. PFLP and DFLP are neither radical secularists anymore, as society gets more religious. Go to a PFLP rally in West Bank and 90% of the women there are wearing hijab. Also the PFLP supporters are pretty much pro-Islam. PFLP and DFLP both carry out missions alongside Islamic Jihad and Hamas and Al Aqsa. The issue is money.

IJ gets money from Iran and Hamas from the Saudis. The money goes to fundamentalists. Yes it was founded by George Habash, who now lives in Canada. Check out "Palestine Between Dreams and Reality" on the web. PFLP has long had strong support in the Christian community, and DFLP too, which is also led by a Christian. PFLP is the most popular group with Pallie Christians. Abu Abbas was not PFLP, he was PLF I think. Main PFLP leader is very famous and is in prison in Palestine right now. Well to me the ME is the Arab World. I am trying to think of a nationalism for that part of the world that does not have "Arab" in it. Calling it Arab nationalism pissed off the Maronites, the Assyrians, the Kurds and the Berbers, and Arab nationalists treated them all like s-t. Those ppl were potential allies. I would not get too hung up on a word, you know?

As far as the Zionist invaders and their "historical claim", F-K them! Yep, Arab nationalism leaves the Israelis out of the picture, that was the general idea! The Israelis are not part of any patriotic anti-imperialist regional alliance in that area, and won't be for some time, if ever.

PFLP gets about 4-5% support in elections in Gaza. Translates to 20-25,000 supporters in Gaza. You can go to some West Bank cities and you will see PFLP flags flying in front of a lot of the houses.

Waiting for regime change in Washington is foolish.
May is almost here. The Marines are almost there, in your backyard.
It would have been nice for change to take place without war but that option ended on the morning of September 11, 2001.
While you wait for 2008, you will be busy rebuilding your country, enacting a new Constitution, electing new officials and having a feeling of well being now that the fighting is long over.
Enjoy the summer and hope it's not your last.
May the God of your choice keep you safe and out of harms way.
That is your only option left.

Hi Guys... I'm not laughing but I do find it funny sometimes when I find a bunch of blokes discussing feminism, and sometimes disturbing when they have such a thing for 'chicks with guns.' Anyway, a couple of things... firstly on the subject of Leila Khaled and western feminists, you might like to take a look at: http://www.uga.edu/~womanist/khan2.1.htm which is quite interesting if you can get through the academic jargon. Here in the Uk she still certainly has a lot of interest from the left and women, as shown by the big turnouts at the speaker meetings she did here in 2002. The government denied her a visa last year though. Secondly, I'm writing a book on her at the moment and was wondering if anyone might have any good references to Islamic responses to Leila, in terms of how she is seen from a religious perspective, given that she doesn't wear hijab and her arguments have always been quite secular left-wing ones, although she's also stressed that she comes from an Islamic culture. I know there have been female resistance fighters in more religious movements in the Arab world but I'm just wondering how she is viewed from that kind of perspective. If anyone wants to send comments directly to me you can via www.freelancefusion.com/uk/sarahirving

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  • Written by sasa
  • From Damascus, Syria
  • From Damascus to London via Beirut. Based in and out of the central Damascene hamlet of Saroujah. News and feelings from the streets every day. I'm talking rubbish? Leave a comment. Welcome to the information democracy. See below for info about this site.
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