Middle East · Politics · Syria

Why do Syrians leave Syria?

cousin once removedWith every picture or video clip of the Syrian refugees, there is always one common comment underneath the reported story, “Why do they risk their children’s lives?”

The obvious answer is because it is not safe anymore in Syria. The second reason, because of the war most Syrians are not able to provide for their families anymore.  

In the picture: My 10 years old Syrian cousin once removed plays with her kite somewhere in Germany. She traveled with her mother from Damascus to Germany crossing Turkey, Greece, Bulgaria and Austria. She endured a terrible journey similar to the ones you see and read about on the media.

Here is another reason many people are not aware of, because of war, Syrian men in their twenties have to join the Syrian Armed Forces. Refusing to fight for the regime is punishable by execution. Others chose to fight against the regime by joining other groups. Some of these young men wanted out for different reasons. They maybe got tired, or were injured, or even forced to do things against their well. 

Sadly, some people including some Syrians who live in abundance outside Syria do not find the aforementioned reasons enough to leave Syria. Their excuse is these boats are too dangerous. Yes, they are. However, they have to make this decision not us. 

All my cousins-except three- and my cousins once removed and an uncle lost their homes in Syria. Before leaving Syria, they either moved to their parents’ houses or rented apartments in quasi-safer areas. There are four millions internally displaced and even those who left Syria were as well displaced in their own country before leaving. Most of my cousins are now in Germany, France, Libya, Egypt, UAE and England far away from their beloved ones. In addition, my sister who used to live in Syria before the war had to move to Jordan.

Unless the world puts an end to the Syrian war, the refugees will keep coming. Building walls will deter some but will not stop them. Unfortunately, these walls will make it more difficult on them. When you are in a war zone, you do not plan for tomorrow you plan for now and now for them is to escape war. 

Middle East · Politics · Syria

The mystery of ISIS

The world is in agreement that ISIS is a terrorist group but is still confused about its true nature.  No one yet knows how it started, who founded and still funding it and for what purpose. Even, once, the most vicious terrorist group that executed the 9/11 attack, Al-Qaeda, looks amateur compared to ISIS. Everything about this horrible group is a mystery. Why are they so powerful? Why are they very violent? Who and how they support themselves? How do they attract born and raised Europeans to fight with them? What are their goals? How come such a group has a PR that is like nothing seen before?

When the Nazi Germany started they knew what they wanted to achieve. They had a vision that was known to them and to their enemies. They believed their race is superior to others. They wanted to build their Aryan ruled empire. To achieve their mission the Nazi excelled in all sciences which of course meant they were well prepared in arms industry. The German were so advanced in technology it was with the help of a German scientist that the USA was able to send its first rocket to space, after WWII. Until today, “German Engineered” label is enough advertisement to sell any product. What the Nazis fail to understand is neither omniscience nor omnipotence nor does their make-belief supremacy can build a lasting empire.

So, if the Nazi with all their power and knowledge did not last how does ISIS expect it will survive?

What makes ISIS scarier than other terrorist groups is their delusional state of mind in establishing a Caliphate. How do a group of criminals who don’t have the minimum knowledge in building an average city let alone building an empire expect to achieve their goal? They know that the entire world is against them so how do they expect to continue if their survival depends on importing everything?

What ISIS failed to acknowledge is that during the Islamic Golden Age Muslims welcomed people, regardless of their religion, from all over the world not executing them. There was a period in time that both Baghdad and Andalusia were the center of the world. They were the places were discoveries in all field of sciences were made and new philosophies born. These cities were the focal point for Scientists, Philosophers and Islamic Scholars as well.

Here is an excerpt from Neil DeGrasse Tyson describing how Muslims lived centuries ago: “Among all the stars that have names two-thirds of them have Arabic names… How did this happen? Because the intellectual center of the world was Baghdad. Baghdad was completely open to all visitors, all travelers Jews, Christians, Doubters (which today we might call Atheists). They were all there exchanging ideas. And it was that period we had the advances like Engineering, Biology, Medicine, and Mathematics. Our Numerals are called What? Arabic Numerals. They fully exploit the discovery of the zero. Create a whole field called Algebra, itself is an Arabic word. Algorithm is an Arabic word.”

So, how would ISIS claim ideological supremacy over the world?

ISIS is no more than a group of sadistic individuals who were GIVEN finite resources and TOLD to do what they are doing to spread chaos in the region for whatever reason. Of course, I do not want to sound ignorant and say ISIS is not the Muslims’ problem. There are many factors, caused by both bad Islamic teachings and some political gains, which built the foundation for ISIS ideology. But their ideology would had never seen or known by the rest of the world if they didn’t receive the support from an outsider.

Who is this outsider that is supporting ISIS?

Because ISIS’ goal is so delusional and because its members are so chaotic, there are too many speculations about them. No one knows who founded ISIS and no one knows why. And because of their savages killing history no country or government will ever claim any association with them.

Below, is a list I collected from reading articles and listening to people that is categorized into: Who (is behind establishing ISIS), What (is the religion or affiliation of this supporting group) and Why (they established ISIS):

Who: The Syrian Regime
What: Baath party – Alawite (Shia)
Why: After losing its credibility, the Syrian regime helped establish ISIS. As everybody knows, ISIS indeed slowed the Syrian revolution. Syrian revolution in return has two enemies now; the Regime and ISIS. The advent of ISIS made it difficult for the world to take decisive decision to end the Syrian regime because the regime claims he is fighting terror (i.e., ISIS.)

Who: Former Iraqi Regime
What: Sunni
Why:  Revenge and to regain control. After the USA invaded Iraq they put the Shia in control which according to many sources they killed and prisoned many Iraqi Sunnis. ISIS came to stop Shia’s oppression against the Sunnis. The former Iraqi Baathi in ISIS explains why ISIS succeeded in their military tactics and advancement.

Both Naom Chomsky and Obama administration agree that the USA paved, unknowingly, the way for the existence of ISIS.

Who: Iran
What: Shia
Why: To claim control over the region and to spread its ideology against the Sunni.

Who: Israel/Zionism
What: Judaism
Why: Creating chaos in its enemy neighboring countries will exhaust Arab countries’ resources and become less dangerous to Israel.

Who: USA
What: Christianity
Why: A crusade war to destroy Islam.

Who: Europe
What: Secular/Christianity
Why: The more ISIS kill people the more hatred Europeans will feel toward Muslims in Europe. One way to reduce number of Muslims in Europe.

Who: Turkey
I have not read or heard much about this theory. Nevertheless, not participating or helping in fighting ISIS raises many questions about Turkey’s involvement with ISIS.

Who: Saudi Arabia/Wahabis/Salafis
What: Sunni
Why: Saudi Arabia is the only country that is accused to be behind ISIS by many different groups; Arabs, Sunnis, Shias, Christians, Liberals, Americans and many others.

Many Americans believe that Saudi Arabia is behind ISIS because they claim their ideologies are the same. Some non-Muslims believe that ISIS is only following what is in the Quran and the teaching of Prophet Muhammad.

With the advent of ISIS came a vital change in the region. One that is unprecedented. Most Arab countries now enlisted the Muslim Brotherhood (MB) party as a terrorist group. The MB party is the biggest, wealthiest and most influential party in the Muslim world. They have followers all over the world. Any other political party in the region is a joke compared to them. Why the Arab Gulf countries HATE them I am not sure. But, here is one opinion I heard. Muslim Scholars (Salafis and Wahabis) in the Gulf oppose revolutions and standing up against the ruler NO MATTER WHAT. According to their ideology, the Muslim ruler should never forcefully be removed. Their point is revolutions lead to Muslims being indifferent which leads to killing. The MB party on the other hand believes a bad ruler should be changed, by force if needed. The MB tried to change the regime in Syria and killed the Egyptian president Saddat.

The list above contains theories only and none so far had been proven. Every day, we hear of a new accusation and a new theory. I think no group before had been so vague like ISIS.

I cannot point to one theory as the one I feel strong about but here is what I believe helped create ISIS:

I – External reasons:

  • September 11th attack was a tragedy. Unfortunately, the USA’s magnitude of retaliation was irrational. A quick Google search on Iraq and Afghanistan wars and you will find shocking numbers.
  • The tragedies committed in Iraq by private military companies along with what happened in Abu Gharib caused a lot of rage in the region.

II – Internal reasons:

  • Poverty, oppression, political and social calamities
  • Decades of hatred teaching toward others.
  • Using religion for political gains

What makes ISIS more dangerous is succeeding in making itself unpredictable. When ISIS kidnapped the Jordanian pilot most Jordanians predicted that ISIS has no stake in killing him. During that time some Jordanians were still sympathizing with ISIS. By not killing the pilot ISIS would even gain more support. Therefore, it was a shock when ISIS burnt the pilot alive although the Jordanian government agreed on switching prisoners.

We tried to decipher ISIS but we failed. Believing that they are after a Caliphate doesn’t make any sense. Whether you believe they are doing what they are doing because they are following the teaching of Islam, or how they understand it, is irrelevant.

People in this region reached a point that we don’t care who created ISIS or who is supporting them or why. Like the rest of the world this region deserves to live in peace for once and for all!

Arab · Jordan · Middle East

A glimpse of the situation in MENA

They say a picture is worth a thousand words. But, sometimes you hear one sentence that sums up years or may be decades of miseries. Two days ago, an Arab (I think Lebanese) Circus director was been interviewed on TV. It seems this Circus entertainment company is new and they will start their show in Abu Dhabi soon. Here is what caught my attention:

Host: After Abu Dhabi what other Arab countries you will perform in?
Director: After Abu Dhabi we will go to Dubai then [other UAE city] then Qatar. After that we will go to Malaysia.
Host [persuading]: Okay. But, what other Arab countries you will go to?
Director [speaking sarcastically with a smirk]: Where else would we go?

The director’s response was spot on. It sums up the situation in the Arab world. Out of the 22 Arab countries scattered between the Middle-East and North Africa only few countries, in the Gulf, are living comfortably. The director was classy not to ask the host where you think we should go beside UAE and Qatar. He even included Malaysia although it is not an Arab country so the host can understand there are not other Arab countries to perform in. And you don’t expect to watch a circus in Saudi Arabia.

People in the Arab countries—except the GCC—live in a very poor situation. They are overwhelmed by wars, religion and/or political conflicts and poverty. People outside this region watch the escalation on TV but as they say seeing the fire is not like burning by it.

Here is how bad the situation is. People now are wishing for the time of Asad, Sadam, Mubarak and Qaddafi to come back. Yes, even insane Qadaffi people wish he is still ruling his country. Actually, people hope of any dictator but this group of savages roaming the region killing every hope left for a brighter future in this region. 

I live in a Northern city in Jordan called Irbid. It is 7,000 years old used to be called Arabella. Within only 30 km from the center of the city there are whole Greek cities (Jerash and UmmQais). Romans, Byzantines and Muslims settled in this city. If this city with all its ancient history is in a different region it would be one of the top tourist destinations in the world. In the past five months I have yet to see a single tourist. It is not just because the instability in the region but the city became so crowded you hardly see a car moving in a steady speed. 

Tourists stopped coming to Irbid not just because of the instability. Would you be happy seeing 60- or 70- something old women holding a toddler begging on the street during your vacation? Or how would you feel seeing a six-year-old Syrian or Jordanian boy selling gums at traffic lights.

In the USA, people mostly worry about how to save for their children college education and retirement. In Europe, with their magnificent social system I don’t know what their worries are. But here people fear tomorrow. When your government moves its tanks to the borders you know it is only the beginning of something so big and terrifying you wish you don’t live to see it.