Sanctions on Syria

Volunteerism in Syria: a journalist’s journey to the heart of Syria

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*Volunteers from the Saaed Association after Eid activities for children in Damascus.

Jul 24, 2016, American Herald Tribune

-Eva Bartlett

Syria has long been celebrated not only for its rich historical and cultural mosaic but also for its modern culture, secularism, sheltering refugees from neighbouring countries—including Palestinian refugees who are treated as well as Syrians and with the same rights, and its socialist provisions for the Syrian people, among which are free education and health care.

Yet, since 2011, in the minds of many outside of Syria, the country has largely been equated with the death and destruction of the NATO-GCC-Zionist-Turkish alliance’s pre-meditated war on Syria.

Unless one is actively-seeking information on positive aspects of life in the Syrian Arab Republic—which, perhaps to the surprise, many do abound—it is images of war which overwhelm.

One of many positive aspects that prevails in Syria is the spirit of volunteerism, throughout the country. Syrians of varying ages and faiths, in ad hoc groups or established non-profit charities, have been quietly working to help and support those rendered less-fortunate by war and the immoral western sanctions on Syria.

During the month of Ramadan, many volunteer associations (Christian and Muslim) provided hot meals to Syria’s poorest. One of these is was the Saaed Association‘s “No to Hunger” initiative, in which volunteers prepared Iftar (the fast-breaking meal) for some of Damascus’ most impoverished residents.

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Essam Habbl, Director of Saaed, said while at the start of Ramadan volunteers in Damascus were cooking 3,000 Iftar meals daily, by the end of the holy month, the number had more than tripled to 10,000 meals a day. This was the fourth year of this program in Damascus. In Hama and Homs, for the first year, volunteers provided another 7,000 meals per day.  CONTINUE READING

Damascus, Life Returns 5 Years After NATO Destabilization Efforts: A snapshot of life in Damascus, June and July 2016

The croissant stand in Aamarie district of Thomas Gate is known not only to Damascenes but visitors from other areas of Syria. While prices for most goods have risen all across Syria, the stand keeps its prices low: 125 Syrian pounds per sumptuous croissant. On the first day of 'Eid celebrations the stand is packed.

The croissant stand in Aamariya district of Thomas Gate is known not only to Damascenes but visitors from other areas of Syria. While prices for most goods have risen all across Syria, the stand keeps its prices low: 125 Syrian pounds per sumptuous croissant. On the first day of ‘Eid celebrations the stand is packed.

Life for many in Damascus, Syria, is beginning to regain a sense of normalcy. Once besieged by foreign fighters, the ancient city and its residents struggle to rebuild their lives, land and livelihood, rejoicing in the simple mundanity of day-to-day life.

July 20, 2016, MintPress News (Global Research, Uprooted Palestinians)

Damascus, Eva Bartlett — On prior visits to Damascus, staying in the Old City, the sound of mortars being fired from terrorist-held districts outside of the city was a constant. In recent months, the mortars on Damascus have stopped. Previously, Jebhat al-Nusra (Al Qaeda in Syria), Jaysh al-Islam and the Free Syrian Army, among other terrorist factions, rained mortars daily on residential areas of Damascus, hitting schools, homes, vehicles and pedestrians, killing and maiming indiscriminately, leaving civilians, including children, with critical injuries and amputations.

With the recent absence of mortars, Damascenes have opened outdoor establishments where before it was formerly too dangerous. Sidewalks cafes and outdoor eateries open at night were unthinkable less than half a year ago, let alone rooftop cafes and lounges. Although Syrians nation-wide suffer immensely from an economy devastated by war and western sanctions, in Damascus there is a renewed sense of defiance, a refusal to give in, or as a young man in his twenties visiting from Aleppo said: “They have their own war against death by living.”

A snapshot of life in Damascus, June and July 2016:

Wedding procession in the Old City of Damascus. Love and life continue. A newcomer to Syria might be surprised by the vibrancy of life among Damascus residents, who have lived under al-Nusra and Jaysh al-Islam mortars for years, as well as cruel sanctions. “Tawadna” is a phrase that is heard often in Syria: “We got used to it.” Even when mortars rained down, Syrians celebrated their weddings and festivals. Now, in Damascus at least, it is safer to do so outside.

Wedding procession in the Old City of Damascus. Love and life continue. A newcomer to Syria might be surprised by the vibrancy of life among Damascus residents, who have lived under al-Nusra and Jaysh al-Islam mortars for years, as well as cruel sanctions. “Tawadna” is a phrase that is heard often in Syria: “We got used to it.” Even when mortars rained down, Syrians celebrated their weddings and festivals. Now, at least, it is safer to do so outside.

 

The book market near the President's Bridge and Damascus Univeristy is an institution in Damascus, known to book lovers who can't afford bookstores. It is one Damascus venue which refused to shut down over the years, mortars or not. In addition to its Arabic books, one can find English language books and cookbooks, English literature, popular English-language thrillers and taudry romance novels.

The book market near the President’s Bridge and Damascus University is an institution in Damascus, known to book lovers who can’t afford regular bookstores. It is one Damascus venue which refused to shut down over the years, mortars or not. In addition to Arabic books, one can find English language books and cookbooks, English literature, popular English-language thrillers and taudry romance novels.

 

In the narrow lanes of Old Damascus, a wooden mosaic artisan explains the techniques of his trade. The tediously-crafted and beautiful woodwork is a favourite for tourists. In spite of the dearth of customers in the past five and a half years, craftsmen and women continue to practise their skills in hopes that when peace returns to Syria, so too will tourists.

In the narrow lanes of Old Damascus, a wooden mosaic artisan explains the techniques of his trade. The tediously-crafted and beautiful woodwork is a favourite for tourists. In spite of the dearth of customers in the past five and a half years, craftsmen and women continue to practise their skills in hopes that when peace returns to Syria, so too will tourists.  POST CONTINUES

Please Support My Syrian Voices Book Project


*photo: Resilience of Syrians, Old City of Homs, December 2015.

As many readers will know, I have visited Syria four times, between April 2014 and December 2015—independently on a journalist’s visa and as part of two peace delegations. When in Syria as a writer, I visited key places—including liberated Homs and Ma’loula, terror-bombed regions of Homs, and the Yarmouk district, which has been focus of slick propaganda by anti-Syria corporate media and so-called human rights groups—and have conducted numerous interviews, with Syrian political and religious leaders, as well as Syrian civilians.

I have taken many photographs and videos, collected numerous personal testimonies, undertaken my own research and investigations, visited hospitals and refugee centres, and—in every area that I visited—have conversed with Syrians about what they feel is the cause of the problems in Syria, the solution, and on their insistence for Syria’s sovereignty, and on their support for the Syrian Arab Army and their president.

In the months since my last trip, I have been transcribing interviews and testimonies and writing articles based on them, writing about my personal impressions based on my visits to Syria, and challenging the latest corporate media lies and propaganda campaigns.

I will be returning to Syria, as soon as possible, and for that I must ask for financial assistance to make this trip possible. [see:  Syrian Voices Book Project on GoFundMe ]

Why am I compelled to go to Syria?

In order to write a book that prioritizes Syrian voices from Syria: truths from some of the most highly-misrepresented, lied about or plainly ignored areas of Syria.

To do justice to the full spectrum of the stories of Syrians as told by them, it is essential that I visit areas I not previously been to, areas that have been liberated since I was last there and areas that are enduring especially egregious suffering—such as in Aleppo under terrorist bombs.

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Sara Flounders Speech on Syria at Left Forum 2016

In this forum, particularly interesting is the speech given by Sara Flounders, of the International Action Center, on her visits to Syria, on the reasons behind the global war on Syria and the documentation of US planning the destabilization of Syria since at least 2005. Flounders also gives historical context to the lead-up to the 2011-begun war on Syria, as well as the many reasons why the NATO-GCC-Zionist alliance want to destabilize and break apart Syria.

 

Related:

Excerpts from US delegation visit to Syria, Feb 2015, In Gaza

-The Real Syrian Moderates: Voices of Reason (Mufti Hassoun & Dr Bouthaina Shaaban), Mar 15, 2015, Russia Today, in Arabic at Dr. Shaaban’s FB page, Dissident Voice, Uprooted Palestinians, In Gaza

-University Hospital, Damascus: Meeting Victims of Western-backed Mortar and Rocket Terrorism, Mar 3, 2015, In Gaza

-The Terrorism We Support in Syria: A First-hand Account of the Use of Mortars against Civilians, Sep 11, 2014, Zero Anthropology, Global Research, Rabble, Dissident Voice, In Gaza

Deconstructing the NATO Narrative on Syria, Oct 10, 2015, Dissident Voice, Syrian Free Press, Sott.net, World News, Uprooted Palestinians, prominent Norwegian blog, Steigan blogger, prominent Swedish blog, Anders Romelsjö Jinge.se *in Polish: Medium Publiczne and Wirtualna Polonia, In Gaza

-Syria Dispatch: Most Syrians Support Assad, Reject Phony Foreign ‘Revolution’, Mar 7, 2016, SOTT.net (in Spanish; in Turkish; republished at: Off Guardian, Dissident VoiceStrategic Culture, Global Research, In Gaza) (cited in: “Western Reporter in Syria Finds U.S.-Backed Fighters Are Jihadists”, Washington’s Blog; “Contrary to West’s Humpty-Dumpty Allusion Syria is ‘Coming Together Again’”, Sputnik News)

-Western media ignoring reality on the ground in Syria: terrorism and anti-Syria sanctions which help terrorists, Mar 3, 2016, Russia Today, (republished at: SOTT.netDissident Voice, 21st Century Wire, Global Research, The Vineyard Saker In Oceania, In Gaza)

-Where is the West’s compassion & condemnation following terror attacks in Middle East?, Jan 30, 2016, Russia Today ( Global Research, 21st Century Wire, Sott.net, In Gaza)

Concerts at Palmyra represent liberation, resilience, revival

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May 8, 2016, American Herald Tribune

-Eva Bartlett

The momentous Syrian-Russian liberation of world heritage site Palmyra on March 27, 2016, came and went with zero congratulations from world leaders who are supposedly fighting terrorism. Palmyra is an area that was subject to ten months of Da’esh (ISIS) occupation, slaughters, and destruction.

When a delegation of foreign journalists went to Palmyra post-liberation, although scheduled to join the delegation, the four US media outlets are reported to have cancelled the night before. When a delegation of independent visitors went to Palmyra still not long after, the information in accounts they shared until now remain glaringly-absent from corporate newspapers and channels.

On May 5, the ancient site was newsworthy once again. Just over a month after its liberation by the Syrian Arab Army (SAA) backed by the Russian Air Force, Palmyra’s Roman Amphitheatre was host to a concert of exceptional musicality and tremendous significance for both Syria and Russia.

Sputnik News reported:

“According to Syrian Culture Minister Issam Khalil, the concert of the Russian world-renowned Mariinsky Theatre Symphony Orchestra in the Syrian city of Palmyra is dedicated to the upcoming Victory Day.”

Sputnik cited Russia’s President Vladimir Putin, who addressed the audience and musicians by video link, saying of the concert:

“I consider it as an expression of gratitude, memory and hope. The gratitude to everyone, who fights against terrorism without sparing their own lives. The memory of all the victims of terror regardless of the place and time when crimes against humanity have been committed.”

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An introduction by acclaimed conductor Valery Gergiev, included:

“The music you will hear today, you hear our pain and our memory. But there’s also great hope in this music.  It’s very difficult to speak about emotions we feel, we musicians. We protest against barbarians who destroyed wonderful monuments of world’s culture. We protest against the executions of people, here on this great, great stage. Our concert in Palmyra is our appeal for everyone to come to peace and unity, and all people in the world to unite and work against this evil, against the terrorism.”
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Syria Bloody but Unbowed by Western-backed Terror campaign

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Historic Palmyra, attacked by Western-backed terrorists

Apr 1, 2016, SOTT.net, (re-published at Global Research , Dissident Voice, in Spanish)

-Eva Bartlett

The recent liberation of Syria’s Palmyra (a UNESCO world Heritage site) by the Syrian Arab Army (SAA) and allies is an important victory for numerous reasons. Not only does it send yet another message to the different Western-backed terrorist factions (which Syria has been fighting for the past five years) that they will eventually fall, but it also sends a message to the West and their gang of anti-Syrian states and actors – who have been fueling this savage war on a sovereign Syria – that Syria and Syrians remain resilient, the SAA and allies remain relentless in their fight against terrorism, and that Syria’s political allies continue to support her.

Further, the victory once again dispels the myth of “Assad’s army brutalizing the people”: footage from inside the liberated city of Palmyra shows residents praising President al-Assad and praising the Syrian Arab Army (a reported 200 of whom were killed in the battle to liberate Palmyra), much like footage from the liberated villages of Nubl and al-Zahra’a earlier this year, and every area, in fact, which the army has secured.

During Da’esh (ISIS) terrorists’ occupation of Palmyra, they blew up and destroyed numerous historic sites and brutally decapitated 82-year-old archaeologist Khaled al-Asaad. Ironically, while corporate media now twists the facts and alleges Syrian responsibility for the entry of Da’esh into Palmyra, they turn permanently-blinded eyes to the fact that the US-led coalition supposedly fighting Da’esh somehow, with all of their state-of-the-art technology, missed the convoy of Da’esh terrorists moving through vast stretches of open desert to reach Palmyra.

Now that the area is secured, Syrians can begin an assessment of the extent of damage to Palmyra. The Director General of Antiquities and Museums Directorate (DGAM) on March 27 issued a statement, which including the following:

“…we promise to restore the city as it used to be, in a cultural and intellectual message opposite to the destruction and terror, so the city will again represent the tolerance and multicultural richness that Palmyra has had through history…”

Restoration will need time and peace, but it is praiseworthy that some restoration in other liberated sites (Ma’aloua, old Homs, Krak des Chevaliers) has occurred while Syria is fighting the disease of Western-Gulf-Zionist-Turkish-inflicted terror.

Concerns over the fate of Palmyra were not exclusive to Syria’s DGAM, but also to the Ministry of Tourism (MOT), the work of which includes far more than merely promoting Syria’s touristic sites.
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Elizabeth May’s distorted understanding of crisis in Syria

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Mar 11, 2016, American Herald Tribune

-Eva Bartlett

Canadian Green Party Leader, Elizabeth May, puts forth such a distorted understanding of Syria that she has either fallen prey to the corporate media’s false rendition of Syria, or she is towing the line for political gain. In either case, the rhetoric she has employed over the past five years has gone from dismaying to appalling, considering that we are not in the early “confusing” months of the war on Syria, we are five years in, and the anti-Syria lexicon she repeats has long been discredited.

In June 2011, May’s Green Party described the situation in Syria as a “pro-democracy uprising,” and called for “more robust sanctions to include an international trade and energy embargo and not just sanctions against specific individuals and Syrian security organizations.”

Apparently the Iraq lesson—wherein 1.7 million Iraqis died as a “direct result of the genocidal sanctions” (source)—is not relevant to May. She would do well to read the Lancet’s report, “Syria: end sanctions and find a political solution to peace,” as of May 2015:

“The cost of basic food items has risen six-fold since 2010, although it varies regionally. With the exception of drugs for cancer and diabetes, Syria was 95 percent self-sufficient in terms of drug production before the war. This has virtually collapsed as have many hospitals and primary health-care centres.

Economic sanctions have not removed the President: …only civilians are in the line of fire, attested to by the dire state of household and macro-economies. Sanctions are among the biggest causes of suffering for the people of Syria.”

Perhaps May doesn’t care about the effects of sanctions on the Syrian people, but instead supports the US plan to destabilize Syria through various means, including sanctions, as noted even in 2005:

“As an alternative to direct military intervention to topple the Syrian government, the United States chose to pressure Damascus through sanctions and support for the internal Syrian opposition.”

As for the “pro-democracy uprising,” it has thoroughly been revealed to have been an armed insurrection from the very earliest protests, with sectarian chants and killings occurring by the so-called “democracy-loving” “unarmed” protesters from the very first months. The CIA has a long history of supporting such violence in Syria.  For more on this, and the mythology on Syria in general, see my extensively-linked earlier article, “Deconstructing the NATO Narrative on Syria.”
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