Rana Kabbani, a Syrian writer who lives in London wrote the following for the Guardian back in November:
For eight months Bashar has squirmed to justify abominable crimes against peaceful protesters calling for long-overdue reform by obsessively rehashing that he is at war with "armed gangs". These "bugs" were out to punish him for his "steadfast stance", he announced to that zoo of appointees that goes by the brazen misnomer of parliament. His official media then went into overdrive as there was a lot to cover up, since mass graves were being uncovered with women and babies in them.
We Syrians have been witness to everything ghoulish in this year of our revolution, which is set to stand as one of history's rousing exemplars of human courage. The castration of children, and the pulling out of their fingernails; hospitals, schools and football stadiums used to incarcerate more than 60,000 people, as the vast Hades of Assad's prison system – always standing room only – quickly became packed beyond its own elastic limits; the profiteering of Assad's shabiha (armed gangs) from a trail of thievery, torture and mayhem; trade in the organs of prisoners; the besieging and communal punishment of entire towns and cities; scorched-earth tactics in the countryside; bombardment of our coastline towns with naval gunships; the use of military planes to shell our inland cities; armoured tanks that are commanded to raze entire neighbourhoods; brutal house-to-house searches to harvest our young men and women; and the outrageous use of municipality rubbish trucks to collect their dear corpses.
As I watch the city of Homs (where many of my school friends have been bombed in their gracious homes or killed in a Syrian city renowned for its fabulous sense of humour and its delicious cheese kunafa) turned into a latter-day Grozny, I curse Vladimir Putin, the Russian leader, for helping in its wanton destruction, as he uses his veto to protect murderers, and supplies submarines and state-of-the-art weapons to kill yet more innocent Syrians. We Syrians recognise the type only too well. Vainglorious, brooking no dissent, buoyed up by financial mafias and laying on putrid cold war rhetoric, which leaves us even colder.
Yesterday, I saw Rana Kabbani for the first time online as a panelist at the Intelligence Squared debate, alongside Paul Conrad and Michael Weiss. The subject: What to do about Syria.
One of the panelists was Nadim Nassar, a Syrian born Anglican priest. He proposed discussion, conferring with the Assad regime, as the solution. Rana and the other panelists saw this as naive – indeed.
Copyright © 2012 by Frank E. Smitha. All rights reserved.