Sunday, 7 April 2013

Shattered lives

Every day, we die a little
Every hours, our hearts run out of love
and tenderness 
and compassion
Then we're left with an empty shell
that used to be our dreams

One day
A generation will come
and see the remanences of a being
that used to be our soul 
with nothing left
but the scattering of our words,
blown in the wind 
across all times.

One day,
our children's children will stand
over the ashes of our bodies
and say...
Here once was a dream
where now there is none...

Friday, 22 February 2013

A country called Syria

Today I didn't know how the day went, what work I've done and emails I've answered.  The only thing I remember is that I was two people, one talking to colleagues and working as usual and one hiding away trying to stop the tears that refused to stop. you cant stop tears when your mourning  a person, how can stop the tears when your mourning a country?

Throughout the past 23 months I've kept believing in a Syria that will remain standing, hurt and weak but standing none the less and can be tended back to recovery over 5, 10 years. Today, for the first time, my thoughts were will there be a Syria for me to go back to? Like being told that your beloved is terminally ill and all you can do is say your good byes and wait. 

Today I realised that there will never be a winner in this war, we will not win anything, not freedom, not dignity, not prosperity and civility. We've lost security and independence, standing and our footfall for generations to come.

The Economists cover on stands tomorrow depicts the death of a country, murdered at the hands of its children, all of them. 
I know I will get the revolutionaries screaming how it is all the regime's doing for being too violent and too blooded. Well the regime is all you say but you knew that from day one, didn't care, decided to propagate an uprising from behind you PC screens and then being surprised when the beast reacted as a beast does. You've never had an end game from day one so how did you expect any other outcome. 
Played and manipulated by anyone and everyone, you saw Saudi as a saviour and Qatar as defenders of democracy and didn't think that there was something odd and very wrong with that, or you did and decided to ignore any nagging feeling and push it to the back of you mind with statement about necessity and the cruelty of the other side that justifies dealing with the devil itself to reach your end.

The pro regime people are not much better, you've accepted that it was necessary to use a sludge hammer to swat a fly and now you're wondering why the house is starting to fall apart? Whether it was fear or conviction, you as well have silenced the voices nagging at the back of your head with slogans of "national dignity" and "no voice rise above the voice of battle".

And where are the middle people? They're the ones whose lives are wasted, lost, whose blood shed and hopes killed. The people in the middle always pushed to take one side or the other, unheard and unseen except as a victim numbers used to push an agenda. They're the statistic that has no voice and forced to constant silence by both sides. 
Were we weak? Could we have stopped more firmly to face both sides? 
Is our silence and cowardness the sin we're now paying for? Whether inside Syria or outside, the punishment is equally painful and protracted with the only difference is live vs imagined scenery.

Today, going through the motions of work consumed any energy I had. I really envied the people back home, at least you can show your true face, go out, do something to help others. I envied the volunteers of the syrian red crescent, carrying their lives on their hands and sharing the last specs of humanity left in Syria like tiny little tea lights flickering against the gathering darkness. They are the only beautiful thing left in a country once all beautiful.

Will Syria rise from the ashes or will something else grow in its place? This is a question I don't have an answer for and I don't know anyone that does. 

I just hear words and words are air, they mean nothing! Not 23 months ago and definitely not today.

Saturday, 24 December 2011

The curse of the expat

Over the past few days I've come across some of the most beautiful and joyful scenes one can see in a life time. An ancient city dressed up for christmas with lights and street fair, the laughter of children on the rides and the scent of spiced coffee and Christmas sweets. Walking through the Christmas market in Edinburgh I kept thinking that Bab tomah or Kasa'a' in Damascus should be as festive at this time.
The following day I was going through the glens of the Highlands with its snow topped peaks and small streams crossing through the stone all the way to the different lochs and two thoughts came across my mind, this could be Kassab with its majestic mountains and lemon trees; and can all the springs in Scotland wash the blood of the face of my beloved Syria?

Over the past ten months I, like so many Syrians living outside Syria, have, been living in turmoil and peace at the same time. You wake up, go to work, meet friends and live life as normal but at the same time you're wasting away with every drop of blood wasted, you sanity is slowly disappearing with every news round and you're losing friends and family quicker than you can keep up with.
We're cursed if we support and cursed if we oppose, we're damned if we're in the middle or if we try to keep room for logic or reasoning.
We're double cursed because we have to live on when our family and friend back home struggle to hold on. How can I keep warm when my flesh and blood slowly waste away? How can i see beauty when so much ugliness surrounds me?

I've been living outside Syria for so many years, I've never felt I'm exiled as much as I do today. The past ten months have created two types of Syrians, those living in Syria and those living abroad, deny it as much as you want but you cannot say that you're as part of Syria as the people who are living these days there. This was not a price I bargained when I chose to temporarily live abroad, I think that most Syrian expats haven't bargained on this price either.
2011 has cost us all so much, blood, lives, friends and our sense of belonging, as it's coming to its end, the heart trembles when thinking what more can be lost.

A friend told me yesterday while walking the streets of the old city surrounded by joy and morning our dead, this is just the beginning, the stupidity accumulated through the past months and the push for "creative chaos" and "you need to destroy in order to build" is starting to show its results. The question on my mind, how much more will it take for some to realise the price they're asking others to pay? Will 2012 carry the salvation or distraction of all that is beautiful in Syria?

Forgive me all, I can't wish you a merry Christmas nor happily wait for the new year, I can only wish that we end 2012 still having a Syria we can call home and with healing wounds not fresh ones.

Sunday, 24 July 2011

Please Stop

Lazy morning sun, a slow breath and Fairuz’s voice it drifting in the air. A normal summer morning in Syria? No, this is a small Syrian house in the English country side trying to get home.

No matter how hard I try, I cannot be home these days. I travel there, I talk to the people there and I search every day for a trace of news about my homeland that is not talking about killing and destruction but every day I fail miserably and disappointment and sadness just grow more and more in me.

Where are you my homeland, you’ve been drowned at the hands of your children who forgot that they are ripping a country apart and not leaving anything to their children and their children’s children.

Usually, when I think of Syria at summer time, I think of unforgettable summer laughs, family gatherings, and the freedom of summer break with fairuz’s voice starting the day and Um Kulthom’s flowing through to the early hours of the day. A light, simple life that people returned to no matter what the day carried. Trouble melted away at the warmth of a gentle smile on my mother’s face.

Today, that smile, like the gentleness of the night and the warmth of life has gone, covered by screams of hate and a drive for self-destruction sweeping across my Syria.

I’ve tried to be open minded for both sides but how can anyone remain open-minded when all around him/her have decided to shut their ears, heart and minds to all but their own voice? Everyone is shouting louder and louder to get heard and now we can only hear noise and nothing else. There are no thoughts that can be carried across all the chaos and one wonders if this noise will ever stop or will it continue to work itself into a frenzy that consumes it with all those around it, country and people?

These days, I feel like screaming loud enough to make everyone else just shut up and stop arguing for a moment, listen to the silence and to their own thoughts before they talk to others. Unfortunately, my scream isn’t loud enough and everyone else stopped caring about the screams!

Today, I’m just filled with sadness that cannot be shacked away. Listening to Fairuz is a sweet torture reminding me of a sweater, simpler and happier times.

Today, innocence is lost and the cut runs so deep in every Syrian heart and one wonders how will it heal, if ever.

Ramadan is a week away, a time for getting together and visiting family and friends. Already the people that hijacked Friday want to hijack the whole month and irrelevant of the righteousness of the cause they’re fighting for in the eyes of some or the lack of it in the eyes of others, they need to stop.

It is more important to have this time to heal; we’re hurting so much we need to heal before we tear ourselves and each other apart. It is now more than just a possibility that we may end up doing just that, breaking the notion of Syria into a million piece with no way of putting the pieces together again.

I am the silent masses; I am the Syrian which they call coward or complicit for not taking sides; I’m the one that both sides try to win and both sides have been losing; I am the one being torn apart between the two screaming sides and they need to stop.

Please, just stop, give people a chance to breathe again

Please stop in the name of all that you consider holy, the month, the cause the country.

From all of us, please stop!

Thursday, 23 June 2011

Syria, Moving forward

In any nation’s life there are times that define what that nation is and what it’s going to be; the past three months have been such a time for Syria and today was its defining moment.

Like most people, I have kept my opinion of what’s been going on in Syria between me and the circle of family and friends around me. However, today I have to practice what I preach, today silence is not a virtue.

So here are my 2 pence worth of talk, please read to the end then swear, shout, or block me from your friend list. But please read to the end before you do so and try to read with an open mind and remember that if we disagree over everything, we all agree on one thing, we all love Syria.

Over the past three months, 3 different Syria(s) emerged, the Syria which you see in Al Jazeera, the Syria you see on Addunia TV and the real country that I visited earlier this month and spent most of my short time listening to people and what they had to say, the everyday occurrences and what they’ve been through in the past few months.

So which of the 3 Syria(s) is the real one? Who is demanding what and who is shooting at whom? Unfortunately, truth has been one of the early casualties of these events, followed by reason and the ability to talk across differences and because of that the future Syria was a Syria that does not exist in any form.

It will take years after the dust settles for the whole truth to be known, it may take longer but what we (you, I and every Syrian) should think of is that we are here now so what’s next?

The ”what next” is the reason for me writing this note, the what next is not what you and I want today but what kind of Syria do we want to leave for our children and their children.

Here are the facts:

- There are people who started demonstrating in Syria wanting reforms

- There are people who pushed the level of requests to wanting a change of regime

- There have been attempts to restrain these people, heavy handed at times alongside political promises of reforms.

- There are various movements abroad which seem to use the populous movement in Syria to further their causes (Old and new)

- There has been an unprecedented abuse of media outlets to propagate one view or another in any means possible.

- The Syrian economy is under immense pressure and whatever the outcome of the recent events, it will take several years to reverse the damage done to it.

So what options are available? Here is the part where you need to keep an open mind and not think with emotions:

- A regime change: this will happen in 2 cases only, foreign intervention Libya style which a scenario is rejected by All Syrians I’ve talked to from both side of the fence. Or, and this is the option that most are betting on, the army to change sides or to split. The latter option means a prolonged civil war of which the possibility of Syria exiting from as a Syria that we can recognise is almost non-existent.

- The protest continue on, the is no real momentum that would allow for a push to end the stalemate in one direction or the other (the regime wont chose the Ghaddafi choice and the opposition is not strong enough to force a change). The real loser of this scenario is the economy and the Syria people. The strain on the economy from the last 3 months is already leaving a deep mark on development, investment (foreign and local) and employment rates to say the least. The 2011 tourist season is already written off and this has wide reaching effect on the wellbeing of a significant number of people.

- The regime and the opposition try to meet in the middle and draft an exit strategy that will save Syria and put it again on the path of growth and development.

You don’t have to think much to know which my option is, I, like a great deal of people who have remained silence since the beginning, will not remain silent when options 1 and 2 are on the table. There is a significant mass of people who started this journey supporting both sides but have gradually gravitated towards a solution that maintains the integrity and unity of their country. That mass will look at the options available and will go for the third. Not because they’re benefiting from the current regime, not because they’re being paid or pushed by it nor because they are too coward to oppose it. Today, courage is to stand up to both side and chose the middle path to follow.

Yesterday the President has laid out a program for reform and a time table to follow it. Today, the ball is firmly in the court of the opposition and now the opposition will have to answer back.

I was amazed to see that the people I know and respect have decided to close their ears and not hear anything of what was said in that speech. The news channels were quick to relay the opposing protests and failed to relay the support demonstrations. The news channels were filled with analysts dismissing the speech and what was put on offer as too little too late. Even before the speech finished, you could find reports disregarding its contents and almost encouraging people to dismiss it without proper thought.

Well this speech is the one that you cannot allow anyone else to interpret for you. You’re the Syrian you cannot be lazy and not do the thinking yourself, not when what you think and believe, or chose to believe, means what Syria will become over the next stage of its life.

Now the opposition is called upon to talk, not using the street, not hiding behind the people protesting but coming out from behind the facebook and the computer screen and put their thoughts and more importantly themselves forward to start this dialogue.

Claiming that the regime doesn’t want to dialogue is not enough when these people haven’t event tried to put their point across. With all the media attention that is being focused on Syria this opposition can, if they wish, stand up without fear to talk with purpose. The people who have been encouraged to go out to the street have been brave enough to reach Syria to a point where a real and open dialogue can start. It is now the turn of the opposition that has been egging them to the street to put itself forward to do its part for this country.

Now, bravery is in listening not in yelling, it’s in moving the dialogue from the street into the discussion table. To accept the other, to accept that there are genuine people on both sides who will both be living in Syria and be part of it when this whole thing is over. Brave is to admit that there were people killed on both sides by both sides and their lives should pay for a better Syria for all not for some.

Today the stage is set for a new day to dawn on Syria, a dawn of true freedom and democracy. A democracy that has to be taught and extended to include country and home capturing the different shades of the Syrian society.

Our fathers and forefathers have gone through turmoil and instability before us. They have built a country that most of us are proud to belong to, far more than what other nationals feel towards their respective countries.

Our fathers hoped that they have seen the worst of times so that we can see the best of times; my hope is that we have learned from their mistakes and we will not push to pay a heavier price to buy a weaker more fractured country.

Today, Syria is as the tipping point when the masses in the middle should be the masse tipping the scale in the direction they want for Syria. These masses should be all of us, the people at home, abroad, on the street and in the barrack.

A friend who lives on one of the ”hot spots” around Damascus told me that her family have decided to go out to the streets last night to declare their support to the reform program put forward yesterday. They are part of the silent masses that are starting to mobilise, the President has given them a strong case, it’s now up for the opposition to put its case forward for the people to decide. A case that can be presented in 1h 15m with the most frequent words used in It being “People” and “Syria”

God bless and protect Syria

God keep my country safe

Syria, The audacity of hope

you probably know this as the title of Obama's first book. I bought it when he was elected but didn't get around to reading before the hope that Obama represented disappeared with the wind. This blog is not about the book, this blog is about my homeland.

Over the past three months, Syria has been in the grips of a massive turmoil. The country and its people were at the brink of civil war with the first casualties being truth and the ability to listen.

Over the last three months, Syrians in their majority reflected the famous three monkeys, if they hear then they don't speak, if they speak then they don't see and for those who speak, they were only regurgitating what others have seen and heard for them. Over the last three month, the functionality of mind has been suspended for the benefit of everything else. What happened to you my countrymen and women?

You hear one saying this is black only to hear another saying it's actually white? One man's rally is another man's demonstration and between both, ordinary Syrians had to watch in disbelief the unfolding play.

I know that there won't be a shortage of people who will be outraged by the use of the word when so much bloodshed has taken place. Believe me, every drop of blood shed is a scar in my heart and in the hearts of millions for the fact that it is a play. It is more a puppet show where you can see the puppets but you cannot see the puppet master(s).

No I’m not talking about the existence of a conspiracy or not, I'm talking about the fact the people have surrendered their lead not to their minds but to their irrationality. I was shocked when talking to some people on both sides and getting the same response to the same question, what is your end game? I don't have one! Where do you see this end? Don't know! Why are still pushing? Stubbornness?! You destroying the county! If it’s not destroyed, it can’t be rebuilt!

Now I'm not a political analysts but I'm an ordinary Syrian faced with an extraordinary situation, if the people who started this never thought of how they will end it what hope does any one of us have for Syria? Who has given anyone a mandate to destroy Syria in order to reach any goal, noble or not.

On this Friday, I ask all Syrian to stop, listen and think. Please before we all wake up to find ourselves refugees in our own country!

Wednesday, 2 February 2011

I am not Egyptian

Tahrir Square

It is amazing that on January 24th 2011, if you ask anyone where Tahrir Square is, you would probably be faced with a blank look and a wondering stare. Today, February 2nd, Tahrir square is synonymous with Tiananmen square, with all the iconic images that will last a life time. From the young man standing in front of the water cannon to the twitter protestors being attached by camels and on hours back.

Like most people with access to a TV screen, I’ve been glued to the news since #Jan25. What started as a protest organised on a facebook page has turned to an event that will be remembered for decades to come. I’m not Egyptian, but you don’t have to be one to recognise the David and Goliath fight unfolding before you.

The first shock was the internet blackout, if there were any neutral followers of the news, they were totally converted against the current regime. Any government that “flips the switch” in that manner isn’t a government that can be trusted. The move which someone obviously not living in the 21st century took as a way to kill the movement served only to focus the attention of Everyone to what was unfolding in “Um Eldunia” as the Egyptians call their home land.

Normal people in the street in London were reading with disbelief that their favourite holiday destination has just plummeted into the dark ages with a push of a button! the image was relayed across the globe in a speed suiting the gravity of what has happened.

The momentum kept one, the 5 minutes in the evening news turned to 10 then to special coverage at lightning speed. Suddenly Egypt was on every channel and in every page. Egypt was back in every heart and on every tongue. I am not Egyptian, people around me didn’t realise why should what was happening there matter to me on a personal level? I couldn’t explain that for a Syrian, Egypt is a second homeland; that Egyptians are the closest people to us and no matter how much we might disagree, that affiliation can never go away.

Hours and minutes went by, events changed at such a speed no one expected or predicted, people were moving between highs and lows ever 140 characters. I kept smiling that the English speaking media that came with all possible translations for Tahrir square: Freedom, Liberty, and missing its correct name: Liberation square.

Change was coming, it was obvious like daylight and no one was even entertaining a hint of a thought that things in that great country will return to how they were on January 24th, suddenly there was something wonderful that the whole world can learn about the Middle East other than terrorism and disgrace. Then today happened.

Now, on February 2nd, things are more confused than ever, violence has broken out in Liberation square and a standoff there might end that wonderful thing with chaos and tears.

I’m not Egyptian but like all Egyptians I won’t be getting much sleep tonight. Whether you’re with or against #Jan25, no one can look him/herself in the mirror and say they’re with February 2nd.

God bless Egypt and God bless all Egyptians.