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27 April 2011


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Since Tunisia, before even, people have been invoking Abu al-Qasim al-Shabi's "If the People Want Life" - this is As'ad abu Khalil's version in English:

"If the people will to live
Providence is destined to favourably respond
And night is destined to fold
And the chains are certain to be broken

And he who has not embraced the love of life
Will evaporate in its atmosphere and disappear."

Hasn't this always been true?


Any thoughts on these reports of mutiny in the Syrian army:


Would the Kurds in Northern Iraq feel confident enough to send weapons to the Syrian Kurds? Peshmerga?

William R. Cumming

Agree completely that Syria is the biggest factor in what has been referred to as the Arab spring. It has been largely ignored by MSM and analysts over last four decades and has caused problems for many but most of all has failed its own people. What I have never understood is given a grownup state next door like Turkey why has Syria never figured out its future? Perhaps others will be doing that for them perhaps not.


This is going to be interesting to watch. I wonder which way the Sunni's in Lebanon will go if this thing really unravels. Violently. We could see some really odd alliances here. REALLY ODD.

Richard K. Armstrong

Looky looky over there! Nasty people are doing nasty things in the Middle East!


This poor southern boy truly appreciates the opportunity to participate in this committee of correspondence however, he is ashamed to have to point out that the original committees of correspondence concerned themselves about events posing actual threats to themselves and their livelihoods.

Should the entire Middle East somehow fall into the center of the Earth folks in the Central Time Zone really will not be negatively affected. Some may say that the price of a gallon of gasoline will increase and to that I say "Whoopsy Doo." Persons more educated than I can explain how the market price of petroleum isn't truly based on price and demand however, is based on market speculation.

I guess that my point is that when intelligent persons in a position to influence others waste their and others time looking over the horizon instead of turning their eyes to events occurring here in America that they are doing exactly what the plutocracy would have demanded. Looky, looky over there! Nothing to see here, folks. Take a look at those happenings over there!

Recently Vietnam Vet remarked about the ratio needed to protect gated communities. My response would be to ask him why in the heck the powers that be created NorthCom?

Again, I really can't describe how much I appreciate being able to participate in these discussions but, Jimminy Christmas folks! I'm a highschool dropout and even I can recognize the attacks of U.S. Corporations against the American people.

William R. Cumming

RKA! Noting this sentence and also understand that I have used high school dropouts as expert witnesses some of which persuaded judges or juries or both.
Your sentence fragment follows:
"he is ashamed to have to point out that the original committees of correspondence concerned themselves about events posing actual threats to themselves and their livelihoods."
I respectfully disagree that events in the MENA have no implications for the USA and its polity. IN fact it our largely ignorant knowledge of MENA and its languages, peoples, and culture, NOT OIL that has caused many problems for the USA. With 1.8 worshippers of ISLAM world wide [justabout 3 million in USA and not sure if that counts Black MUSLIMs but it should)this is not an insignificant minority in what I believe is largely a Judaeo/Christian state. At least 55 countries are majority worshipers of ISLAM and the 1400 years of confrontation between Islam--in reality a western religion-- NOT ALWAYS A MILITARY CONFRONTATION--reflect ignorance and the "other" as part of WESTERN Civilization history--note I don't call the WEST Christandom because it is not. This is a very complicated that few understand. We are all learning from this blog although clearly many have some knowledge and understanding of the issues and peoples involved well beyond what I can achieve in this lifetime. So read, learn and continue to participate since your intelligence is obvious.

William R. Cumming

Corection: 1.8 billion followers of ISLAM worldwide.

About 25% of the earth's human population.

Nancy K

Col Lang, you state irony alert when mentioning a combined task force of SA, Israel and Iran, but these days are bringing strange bedfellows togather. Who could imagine the coalition between American Christian Fundementalists and the Israeli Orthodox, both groups awaiting their Messiah.
We do live in very strange times.

Patrick Lang


"when intelligent persons in a position to influence others waste their and others time looking over the horizon instead of turning their eyes to events occurring here in America that they are doing exactly what the plutocracy would have demanded. "

That's pretty offensive. Nobody forces you to come here. pl


I note Turkey is preparing for a surge of refugees. My guess is that Turkey;s government knows a lot about the changing situation in Syria

Richard K. Armstrong

COL Lang,

Please accept my regret for having offended you.

My Southern redneck comments tend to rile more than to influence and this tendency frequently prevents me from getting my point across.



If someone invades Syria it will be an Israeli/Saudi alliance not the USA. A fourth front is a bridge too far.

Isolationism has a long history in America for good reason with large oceans on each coast. The focus is naturally inward. Just like all the Tornados sweeping through the South, some sort of neo-revolution is coming to America with the corruption of its collapsing Empire:
1) the ponzi, prison-free, fiscal system,
2) the unwinnable war against Islam,
3) 17 million unemployed,
4) rising energy prices,
5) the coming COIN operations in Mexico, and
6) the stab in the back politics after Afghanistan joins the Pakistan China Alliance.

The Tea Baggers are the spear carriers of the future change. With the collapse of communism and the unions, the oligarchs now have the chance to transform America into a reflection of their own character, “Greed is Good”. America was lucky to transform itself in the 1930s through peaceful elections into a Country that cared for its citizens but now the New Deal finally will be destroyed.

Pride, intelligence and history in the Officer Corps is basic to winning Wars. The dedication and education of the Officer Corps will have a determination in the outcome of the neo-revolution, or will they just be concerned in keeping the revolving door open.

Patrick Lang


I never, not for a moment, thought the US would conduct military operaions in Syria. Let the Israelis take care of this. It's their fight, not ours. as for what role the officer corps will play, i would think that once the revolving door/consulting business goes bye-bye you will see a new birth of intrest in civics. pl

Patrick Lang


Don't hide behind words like "Southern" or "redneck." Bad manners speak for themselves.

This blog is about my interests. I have worked on ME affairs for many years. that will continue to be a major focus on SST. pl


Apropos of nothing perhaps but "Please accept my regret..." and "Southern Redneck", are interesting phrases, if ya think about it a bit. Or, rather, strike me as interesting.



"... once the revolving door/consulting business goes bye-bye you will see a new birth of intrest in civics. pl"

The sooner the better!

Michael Brenner

Today's news is that the United States has moved swiftly to convene the UN Security Council to condemn (and consider action against) the violent crackdown in Syria.

Of course, no such initiative has been taken re. near identical governmental actions in Yemen and Bahrain. There is only so much hypocrisy that American foreign policy can bear without losing the few shreds of credibility it retains. Since we apparently are not even sure that the regime's overthrow would be to our advantage, this strikes me as motivated by three dubious impulses: (1) 'push back' against our mortal enemy Iran who has been Syria's ally and who now stands on the wrong side of the deepening rift in the region; (2) comforting the Israelis for their distress in losing their pal Mubarak and seeing Hamas break out of its cage; and (3) trying to show that America is still the herald of freedom despite its muted trumpet on Egypt, Yemen, Bahrain and its abstention from Libya.

Of such ignoble materials is the Obama mantle of world moral leadership woven.

Ken Hoop

While I don't like mock self-effacing, I must agree with RKA only in the manner that if the US had kept on its organic Monroe Doctrine and geopolitically correct path, it would care now about Islam about as much as Europe should care about Mexico.

Richard K. Armstrong

COL Lang,

That may just be the most gracious acceptance I have ever received for an erstwhile apology.

With a free upbraiding on manners to boot.


Vietnam Vet,

would you be willing to write more about COIN in Mexico....that is an interesting issue that I know nothing about....but an active Special Forces guy I know said recently that Mexico is a "failed state" and the statements you and he are making interest me...where is Mexico heading?

Patrick Lang, is it OK for us to talk about Mexico given this is a blog devoted to ME issues?

Patrick Lang


I suggested a year or so ago that Mexico is a "failed state" and that JSOC be turned loose on the drug lords.

Please do talk about Mexico. pl


Since the subject of Mexico is on the table perhaps we should talk about the richest man on Earth, Carlos Slim. Why should American taxpayers foot the bill for the education and health care of millions of illegal Mexicans while this man is awash in more money than King Midas of legend? Let Mexico tax him to pay for services for all those Mexican's who came to the US in search of that future that 'low taxes' didn't create South of the Rio Grande.

William R. Cumming

Carlos Slim meets the technical definition of being a terrorist! Perhaps Mexico should refer him to the ICC which has as its basis for jurisdiction the inability of a state to prevent criminal activity by any of its citizens that could be considered crimes against humanity as defined by various treaties and conventions.

The problem of course is that many of the policies of Mexico are dictated by policy makers of one kind or another in the US that benefit from those policies. For example immigration from Mexico legal and illegal! Drugs! Etc.

Mexico is OUR problem not their problem. By the way did anyone notice efforts to fence the border have pretty much ended and failed? National Guard withdrawal from border effective end of June now under discussion in Washington. Strong evidence exists of extensive cross border activity of cartels and actually operating in many US cities, perhaps over 200 of 500 largest cities. And US law enforcement capability being reduced daily because of budget cuts. Is this a national security issue? US continues to spiral into 3rd world status for majority of its citizenry.

Jonathan House

I found this a remarkable and moving story of heroism.

In the comments on Mondoweiss, the blog on which I initially read an excerpt and was directed to the full piece - which can be found at http://damascusgaygirl.blogspot.com/2011/04/my-father-hero.html - someone questioned whether the story could be true. I am not sure how much that matters, but I wondered what others make of the piece.

Below is the whole thing.


My father, the hero
We had a visit from the security services:
it was late at night, in the wee small hours. Everyone was fast asleep. I woke when I heard the clamor and immediately guessed what had happened.

Abu Ali, our doorman, had been awakened by someone ringing the gate, and stumbled there to look out; he thought everyone was inside, but it wouldn't be the first time that some family member or other had stayed out far too late at a cafe ... instead, he saw two young guys in their mid twenties, clad in black leather jackets, muscular and both smoking. He knew immediately who they were and rang the alarm to wake everyone up. He was surprised when they stated who they were here for ... me ...

Meanwhile, I had a pretty strong notion when I woke up exactly what had happened. So, I pulled on my clothes as fast as I could -- the ones I have had laid out for such a moment; simple cotton underwear and t-shirt (no underwire or anything like that), jeans, loose fitting pullover ... put on my glasses and stumbled downstairs to the courtyard.

My father was already out there; he hadn't bothered to get dressed at all and was wearing just a nightshirt. He was already in animated discussion with them. When I appeared, one of them nodded, "That's her"

"Yes ... we need to discuss a few things with you." Oily smile that doesn't extend to the eyes.
"Like what?"
He rattles off a long list of things I have posted in English and in Arabic.
"You might have missed a few." I say, my nerves almost getting the worst of me, but, less than fully awake, I clamp down hard on the urge to flee. If I run, I know that they will shoot. I can see weapons, the bulge of pistols and likely knives under their jackets.
"We have enough," the same one says. "Conspiring against the state, urging armed uprising, working with foreign elements."
"Uh huh, which ones?"
"The Salafi plot," the other one says, his accent marks him as straight from a village in the Jebel Ansariya. "Making sectarian plots."
"Really?" my father interrupts. "My daughter is a salafi?" he starts laughing. "Look at her: can't you see that that is ridiculous? She doesn't even cover any more ... and if you have really read even half of what she has written, you know how ridiculous that is. When was the last time you heard a wahhabi, or even someone from the brotherhood say that wearing hijab is the woman's choice only?"
he pauses, they don't say anything.
"I did not think so," he goes on. "When was the last time you saw one of those write that there should be no religion as religion of teh state?"
Again nothing.
"When was the last time you saw them saying that the gays should be allowed the right to marry, a man to a man or a woman to a woman?"
"And when you say nothing, you show," he says, "that you have no reason to take my daughter."
They say nothing. Then one whispers something to the other, he smiles.
"Uh huh," the man says, "so your daughter tells you everything, huh?"
"Of course," my father says.
"Did she tell you that she likes to sleep with women?" he grins, pure poison, feeling like he has made a hit. "That she is one of those faggots who fucks little girls?" (the arabic he used is far cruder ... you get the idea)
My dad glances at me. I nod; we understand each other.
"She is my daughter," he says and I can see the anger growing in his eyes, "and she is who she is and if you want her, you must take me as well."
"Stupid city-fuckers," says the same guy. "All you rich pansies are the same. No wonder she ends up fucking girls and kikes" (again, the Arabic is much rawer ,,,)
He steps twoards me and puts his hand on my breast.
"Maybe if you were with a real man," he lears, "you'd stop this nonsense and lies; maybe we should show you now and let your pansy father watch so he understands how real men are."
I am almost trembling with rage. My dad moves his head slightly to tell me to be silent.
"What are you?" he says. "Did the jackal sleep with the monkey before you were born? What are your names?"
They tell him. He nods
"Your father," he says to the one who threatened to rape me, "does he know this is how you act? He was an officer, yes? And he served in ..." (he mentions exactly and then turns to the other) "and your mother? Wasn't she the daughter of ...?"
They are both wide-eyed, yes, that is right,
"What would they think if they heard how you act? And my daughter? Let me tell you this about her; she has done many things that, if I had been her, I would not have done. But she has never once stopped being my daughter and I will never once let you do any harm to her. You will not take her from here. And, if you try, know that generations of her ancestors are looking down on you. Do you know what is our family name? You do? Then you know where we stood when Muhammad, peace be upon him, went to Medina, you know who it was who liberated al Quds, you know too, maybe, that my father fought to save this country from the foreigners and who he was, know who my uncles and my brothers were ... and if that doesn't shame you enough, you know my cousins and you will leave here.
"You will leave her alone and you will tell the rest of your gang to leave her alone. And I will tell you something now because I think maybe you are too stupid to figure this out on your own. You are alawiyeen; do not deny that, I know you both are. We are Sunni. You know that. And in your offices and in your villages they are telling you that all of you must stand shoulder to shoulder now because we are coming for you as soon as we can and we will serve you as they have served ours in the land of the two rivers. So you are scared. I would be too.
"So you come here to take Amina. Let me tell you something though. She is not the one you should fear; you should be heaping praises on her and on people like her. They are the ones saying alawi, sunni, arabi, kurdi, duruzi, christian, everyone is the same and will be equal in the new Syria; they are the ones who, if the revolution comes, will be saving Your mother and your sisters. They are the ones fighting the wahhabi most seriously. You idiots are, though, serving them by saying 'every sunni is salafi, every protester is salafi, every one of them is an enemy' because when you do that you make it so.
"Your Bashar and your Maher, they will not live forever, they will not rule forever, and you both know that. So, if you want good things for yourselves in the future, you will leave and you will not take Amina with you. You will go back and you will tell the rest of yours that the people like her are the best friends the Alawi could ever have and you will not come for her again.
"And right now, you two will both apologize for waking her and putting her through all this. Do you understand me?"
And time froze when he stopped speaking. Now, they would either smack him down and beat him, rape me, and take us both away ... or ...

the first one nodded, then the second one.
"Go back to sleep," he said, "we are sorry for troubling you."
And they left!
As soon as the gate shut ,,, I heard clapping; everyone in the house was awake now and had been watching from balconies and doorways and windows all around the courtyard ... and everyone was cheering ...
MY DAD had just defeated them! Not with weapons but with words ... and they had left ...
I hugged him and kissed him; I literally owe him my life now.
And everyone came down and hugged and kissed, every member of the family, and the servants and everyone ... we had won ... this time ...

My father is a hero; I always knew that ... but now I am sure ...

and in the night we celebrated this little victory; they may come back but maybe not ...
he made a few calls in the middle of the night; woke up some people (and found some not sleeping) who are in teh regime and told them about the goons' visit. They may have consequences fall on them (which is why I do not give their names) and probably won't be sent out again ... if they haven't quit.

Maybe they will tell others; leave the 'liberals' alone ... maybe not. Only time will tell.

So, when my father says he will not leave until either democracy comes or he is dead, I have no choice but to stay. Not because he is making me, but because he is not making me.

We sent the rest away; any who can, any who will left for Beirut. I cannot go. He's staying so so will I.

Michael Brenner

We are the source of Mexico's violent narco-culture. It is the addictions of millions that create a compelling demand that inevitably is going to be met by someone - whatever the risks, whatever the consequences. Mexico used to be the toll gate through which cocaine and Marijuana passed into the U.S. Decline of the Medellin and Cali clans opened new opportunities for the ertshile middle men to expand operations and increase revenues on a scale only imagineable by Wall Street.

For a long time. the Mexican government's attitude was benign neglect. Remember the scene in the Godfather - "selling it across the border doesn't bother me; they're just gringos over there anyway."

Then the modus vivendi among drug families breaks down. Violence and malevolent types of corruption spread. Greedy families start planting and processing their own stuff in Mexico. Then add custom designed drugs to their inventory. They put on the payroll every sociopath and psycho available. Washington imposes the Merida Accord on the Mexican authorities who find themselves outgunned politically, ethically and literally by the narco gangs. We welcome Mexico as a belligerent in the 'war on drugs' - you're either with us or against us. If you're not fully with us us, we may have "to bomb you back into the stone age."

So now they help; the costs mount; tomorrow they equivocate. The Panetta/Petraeus team send in the drones and Special Ops. Meanwhile, back in FETA and Islamabad.....

Alternative: invite the mexicans to send special teams (Spanish speaking only) schooled in rehabilitation to transform American drug addicts into responsible citizens who are adapted to a slower paced, more family oriented, caring America that the enlightened Mexicans promote.

Don't like those foreignors taking over swaths of American towns and cities? Legalize drugs and use the tax revenue to maintain a hefty defense establishment ready and able to prosecute the next "War on something or other."

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