Syrian Blogsphere on Pelosi, Liz Cheyney, Parliamentary Elections, and Nargileh

In the last couple of weeks very important developments have taken place on the Syrian political arena. One was the controversial visit of the US speaker of parliament Nancy Pelosi to Damascus.

The visit had sparked hundreds of articles in the world's media, pro and against. And the Syrian blogsphere itself held very different views on the issue. Ammar Abdulhamid of Amarji was very offended by the way Pelosi's handling or lack thereof of the Human Rights conditions in Syria. As it seemed to be her last concern, he writes…

Friendship? Hope? For whom exactly? My dissident colleagues, that is, the few who were granted an audience with her Congressional Highness, felt completely snubbed by her, their entire encounter did not last but for a few icy minutes, I am told. Mrs. Pelosi’s friendship and hope seem reserved to the corrupt and oppressive bunch

George Ajjan, “an American Republican of Syrian extraction” as he describes himself, downplayed the real importance of this visit, and felt that its only another “domestic power play”

I think the high profile of the Speaker of the House conducting such a visit, and the fact that she's the first woman to hold the post, has made this whole visit much larger than what it is. This is Syria, not Iran, not North Korea. Congressional delegations of both parties have been camping out in Damascus for ages, and the US, despite having withdrawn its ambassador Margaret Scobey after the (former Lebanese PM Rafik) Hariri assassination, still operates an Embassy in Damascus. Compare that to Tehran, which has had no formal diplomatic ties with the US in almost 30 years.

Apart from the political impact, Pelosi's visit to the shrine of St. Paul the Baptist inside the Umayyad Mosque of Damascus with a headscarf had also sparked a whole different circle of controversy. Rime Allaf was infuriarated by this

Against my better judgement, I browsed some popular right wing blogs discussing the issue; the comments alone about Pelosi wearing a scarf as she visited Omayyad Mosque would scare the living daylights out of any normal person. When several level-headed and knowledgeable people mentioned that it was only a sign of respect, just as women wear a head cover to meet with the Pope, or as one would wear appropriate attire to enter a church or a synagogue, they would be chastised with the admonition that there is no moral equivalence between those and a mosque! To read these disparaging comments and the sheer ignorance, hatred and aggressiveness about all things Islamic, Arab and female was truly an eye opener, even for someone who follows media as closely as I do.

On a different issue, Liz Cheney [the daughter of the US Vice President Dick Cheney] published earlier this week another controversial article in the Washington Post titled “The Truth About Syria” sparked yet another round of controversy…

The article used very strong language against Syria, Rime Allaf had this reply for it

Two particular sentences cracked me up in this so-called opinion piece which doesn’t burden itself with trivial matters like facts. The first funny sentence is “Arab leaders should stop receiving Bashar al-Assad.” Because …? Because they’re not as “outlaw” as the Syrian regime? Because they themselves don't interfere or have interests in the region? Because they are beacons of democracy and freedom? Because they were actually elected to their positions? Because they are big on feminism, freedom of speech and freedom of worship? Because they apply the Universal Declaration of Human Rights?

The second really hilarious sentence is “The Security Council should also hold Syria accountable for its ongoing violations of existing resolutions.” Can’t argue with that … if only it read “every country” instead. Of course, the country currently in violation of the highest number of resolutions is Israel (which I believe is flouting 68 resolutions at last count).

Syrian Economy also had his reply to Cheney's arguments

What ongoing violations of existing resolutions is she speaking of. And, how about throwing in the violation of long standing resolution by another nation in the neighborhood. Empowering the Syrian opposition: Ms. Cheney should know by now that the current administration empowerment of opposition is a kiss of death. She recommends the Europeans should demonstrate that they value justice over profit; taking her advice, it would seem the Europeans should also place financial and travel sanctions on US leaders, Saudi leaders, Egyptian leaders, Turkish leaders, …

On to local politics, Syria is holding its Parliamentary elections soon, and the campaigns have started on the ground, Abu fares, though, is not that interested

What about the titles that precede their names? Industrialist, Artist, Media Personality, Business Man, Ex-Football Player, Doctor, Lawyer, Engineer, Haj. Isn’t anybody a nobody anymore? They are all dressed in suits and look fat and comfortable. It’s no longer in vogue to be a simple farmer or worker to run for the parliamentary elections. The majority are “appointed’ parrots from the “Front” and most of the rest are a bunch of fat cats. What about me? Of the dozens of ugly faces polluting my vision, who ever asked me what I want or what I need? Who dare say, he or she represents me?

Abu Kareem from Levantine Dreamhouse leaves us with very intense flashbacks of his first hand experience of the Lebanese Civil War

# The endless nights huddled in the stairwell of the apartment building where I lived.
# My blue VW golf turned into a sieve from the shrapnel of a mortar shell.
# The smell of blood, sweat and explosives that permeated the AUH emergency room on a bad day.
# The stunned look of a young girl, not older than six, with a superficial shrapnel wound on her delicate cheek, as I carried her into the emergency room.
# All the different permutations of militias that at one time or another clashed with each other.
# The eerie quiet of a bright spring Beirut morning following a night of horrifying bombardment, when all you could hear was the chirping of birds.

And to rap it off with something less serious, but not that much less controversial. Ihsan, happened to buy tobacco for his Nargileh (hubble bubble) over the internet. But guess what, it was shipped from Israel

A friend of mine told me to throw them away, well that's bullshit, they already got my money and now I should just be throwing my stuff!!! Not so clever I'd day! Another friend told me that since I paid and there is no return policy, I should smoke my ass off to the fullest since what's done is done.

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