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After Zeus kidnapped Europa, daughter of the king of Phoenician kingdom of Tyra, her father, Agenor ordered her brothers; Cadmus, Phoenix, and Cylix to search for her, instructing them not to return until they had found her. It was a hopeless quest, and all three brothers became exiled in a foreign land.  But each of them contributed in the making of the Greek civilization.

Cadmus came in the course of his wanderings to find Delphi, where he consulted the oracle. He was ordered to give up his quest and follow a distinct cow with a half moon on her flank, then to build a town on the spot where she should lie down exhausted. The cow was given to Cadmus by Pelagon, King of Phocis, guiding him to Boeotia. There he instructed his men to bring water so that he could offer a sacrifice to Athena; however the men encountered a giant serpent which was sacred to Ares, and they were all killed by that serpent. Cadmus came upon the carnage and gave battle, eventually slaying the serpent. A voice then spoke to him, prophesying that he himself would eventually become a serpent. Cadmus was left with a site for a city, but no one to help build it Athena intervened, telling him to sow the serpent's teeth in the earth. He did so, and armed men sprang. up from the teeth. By throwing a stone among them Cadmus caused them to fall upon one another until only five survived, who assisted him to build the Cadmeia or citadel of Thebes, and became the founders of the noblest families of that city. These five men became the ancestors of the noble Thebans, from which there sprang a race of fierce armed men, called Spartes "sown". Cadmus then spent eight years in servitude to Ares, as a penalty for the killing of the serpent. Cadmus founded the Greek city of Thebes, the acropolis of which was originally named Cadmeia in his honor. And he was also credited by the ancient Greeks, like Herodotus with introducing the original Alphabet or Phoenician alphabet "phoinikeia grammata "(Phoenician letters) to the Greeks, who adapted it to form their Greek alphabet.

 H. Mafaalani

Arab Writers Condemn US Threats of War against Syria

DAMASCUS- Arab Writers and intellectuals have condemned the American threats of war against Syria and voiced their solidarity with the Syrian state, stressing that Syria is the most important country resisting the Western and Zionist schemes in the region.

In their "Solidarity with Syria" Forum on Sunday, the Arab writers affirmed that the US aggression aims at fragmenting the state, undermining the Syrian society, destroying the country's economic infrastructure and weakening the Syrian Arab Army who defends the nation's sovereign decisions.

Writer Basem Abdo, member of the Executive Bureau of the Arab Writers Union, said in a statement to SANA that national cohesion between the army and the people has become stronger after the US threats.

He pointed out that National progressive forces announced their rejection of foreign interference in Syria's internal affairs and affirmed their readiness to defend the country.

"Writers, intellectuals and politicians are at the confrontation front fighting against any aggression targeting Syria, Abdo said.

Writer Mohammad Adel, member of the General Secretariat of the Palestinian Writers Union, said the American war targets the entire Arab nation, particularly Syria due to its thousands of years old strategic geographical position and cultural importance.

He hailed support by Russia, Brazil, India, China, Venezuela and some other friendly countries to Syria, starting from their belief that this war is a war on principles and values which struggles for freedom and independence.

Palestinian Critic and journalist Ahmad Ali Hilal urged influential intellectuals to be on high alert and to unify efforts to enhance Syria's steadfastness in the confrontation of the ongoing global war.

Professor of Modern Literature at Damascus University, Ghassan Ghuneim asserted that culture is one of the most important defense lines at the times of the crisis and the critical situations through which countries may pass.

He said Arab intellectuals' solidarity with Syria forms one of the bases of resistance front in Syria which is currently facing an American Zionist aggression that dangerously violates all international laws and conventions and threatens world peace.   

Other participants in the forum asserted that the ongoing events in Syria and the schemes of attacking the country were architected long time ago, so all must realize that Syria's stability and security guarantee the security and stability of the entire region.

They urged influential world countries to work to restore peace to the region instead of aggravating the crisis.

H. Mustafa

It is not strange

The recent visit of singer Asala Nasri to occupied Palestine proved that it is not strange for those who trait their people and homeland to normalize relations with the Zionist entity.

The Palestinians in Bethlehem received Asala’s visit with anger and resentment expressing their categorical rejection of any kind of normalization with Israel. Scores of Palestinians took to the streets adjacent to the concert’s venue raising placards condemning the singer's suspicious visit, considering any Arab visitor as a traitor of the Palestine question as he/she enters Palestine with an Israeli visa and under the protection of Israeli soldiers. The demonstrators raised placards protesting the visit and condemning Asala as a traitor of both Syria and Palestine. One of the placards said:  "It is not strange for those who normalize with the Israeli occupation to betray their homeland”.

Despite the fact that strict security measures were taken at the concert, members of the popular committee for the support of the Syrian people managed to enter the hall and when Nasri started to sing they raised the Syrian flags and shouted slogans that greet Syria, its leader and valiant army. The slogans shouted by some political activists caused  Nasri’s awkwardness and pushed her to ask for the security members of Bethlehem to interfere as a number of men were arrested for several hours because of their shouts against Asala’s treacherous visit.

However, despite the arrest, members of the committee managed to pass a message  to Asala and anyone who seeks normalization with Israel and to any traitor, not only to that singer who sold her homeland and betrayed the central cause of the Arab people.

The committee issued a statement condemning the visit of anyone who seeks normalization with Israel in general and to that singer in particular, because when Israel failed to achieve political normalization, it started to seek cultural and artistic normalization through cheap tools as both kinds can achieve Israel’s sinister objectives in the region.

Member of the committee Jalal Abu Hilal said that when the committee decided to go to the concert to inform Asala with the message of the Palestinians who were angry over this visit, we realized well that the Authority of Ramallah will take measures against us, especially as this authority promised Nasri of tight security measures to protect her.

He added that these measures were clearly manifested through the deployment of large number of Palestinian officers in the hall, pointing out that such intensive military existence was for two reasons: the first was to protect the singer who was moving like a frightened thief and second for filling the large number of vacant seats in the hall which clarified the rejection of Palestinians of this singer who traits her homeland, people and the Palestine question.

Sabrin Diyab, the co-ordinator of the popular committee for the support of the Syrian people said that the Palestinians’ sentiments will always be in support of Syria which has been offering unlimited support for the Palestinian resistance at all levels.


Farewell to the poet of childhood

Syrian people bade farewell today to great Syrian poet Suleiman al-Essa who passed away last Friday aged 92 leaving behind rich literary legacy for forthcoming generations.

Al-Essa’s poetry revolved around three main axes: childhood, national and pan-Arab topics and humanitarian themes. Throughout his great poems for children, the late poet tried to bring up a generation that believes in the sublime values of the Arab nation. He considered childhood as the last refuge for the aspirations of the Arab people. One salient feature of al-Essa’s children’s poetry was simplicity as the poet was keen on avoiding didactic style and passing his themes smoothly and indirectly to children.

The second axis of al-Essa’s poetry was the national and pan-Arab causes. The late poet had dedicated a large part of his work to national and pan-Arab topics. He wrote poems highlighting the importance of martyrdom for the sake of the people and homeland. His nationalist poems contributed to the demonstrations and the national struggle of his fellow citizens of Iskenderun.

Palestine question and the Arab people’s struggle to liberate their occupied lands had the lion’s share of the late al-Essa’s national poetry. Poet Saleh al-Hawari said that al-Essa’s death is a grave loss for the Arab nation, pointing out that he glorified the genuine Arab values and dedicated many of his poems to highlight the importance of the pan-Arab unity. He was arrested many times for his political poems and attitudes against the French occupation. He was also one of the founders of the Ba'ath Arab Socialist Party while still a student.

The third axis of al-Essa’s poetry was the humanitarian content. In this regard, we should refer that his first collection of poetry described the misery and suffering of the peasants in his village as a result of the feudal system that was prevailing in the country at the beginning of the 20th century.

The late poet was born in 1921 in the village of Noayriyeh near the city of Antakya in Liwa Iskenderun. He received his primary education in his village and later in Antakya and continued his education in secondary schools at Hama and Damascus after the annexation of Iskenderun to Turkey following a conspiracy concocted by Turkey and France by the end of the 1930s. He attended a teacher training college in Baghdad on a scholarship, and after his return home, he was appointed a teacher at Damascus schools and later first instructor of Arabic language at the Ministry of Education.

Apart from his great poetic creativity and contribution to the development of Arabic poetry, al-Essa’s mastery of French and English languages enabled him to translate important books and literary masterpieces into Arabic. He cooperated with his wife Dr. Malakeh Abyad in translating of many literary books, mainly Algerian books written in French.

In appreciation of his great literary contributions, al-Essa was granted prestigious literary awards at the local, Arab and international levels including the Afro-Asian Writers' Union Lotus Prize for poetry in 1982, the Babatin Prize for poetic creativity in 2000 and the Syrian Order of Merit-Excellent Degree in 2005.


Sulaiman Alissa, we will never forget you




It is four years since my father died. I thought I would get over it, but I haven’t. This is not a plea for sympathy, you know why I am telling you about my father's death today, because his dear friend and neighbor, died today, Suleiman al-Issa.

Many glad memories are now in my head, when I was in school, I always loved his poems, and when I learned any poem, I used to go to his house, to recite to him, he always told me, to keep reading, studying, and working, he was very tenderhearted, affectionate, hard worker, never stopped working until he died, I have a lot of memories, but it is not the time to speak about now.

Quite simply, he has left a space that will never be filled; therefore he is, paradoxically, still here because the space is still here, all the children will feel it all the time. Death is not a ‘wound’ to be ‘healed’. Once someone privileged, has been in the world, he has always been in the world; and once has gone his absence will be in the world forever, part of the world; in Suleiman al-Issa case, he will remain part of all the Syrian children, this is a good thing.

Sulaiman al Issa was born 1921 in the village of Noayriyeh   Oronte orchards, situated 20 Km to the west of the historical city of Antakya .

He received his first education under the mulberry tree shadowing, the house yard, he learned the Koran, the famous pre-Islamic poems (Mu'allaqat) which were hung in the holy Ka'ba, the famous Mutanabbi collection of poetry, and  many other Arabic poems. The village had no other school; but the traditional Kuttab, which was also the poet's home, his father lived and taught there. 

 He started writing poetry at the age of ten and his first collection described the misery and weariness of the peasants .

  His primary education took place in Antakya. When he started school he was so advanced that he was placed immediately into the fourth class . By that time the district of Al  Liwa , which included Antakya, was in a stage of revolution due to the Arab inhabitants discovering the plan of the French (who had a mandate in Syria at this time) to separate the area from Syria and offer it to Turkey .

During his fifth and sixth grades in Primary school, his poetry contributed to the demonstrations and national fight of his fellow- citizens of Liwa Iskenderun.

 After the separation of his native district he emigrated to other parts of Syria to continue with his friends, the fight against the French Mandate . He continued his education in secondary schools  at Hama ; Lattakia and Damascus . In that period of his life he experienced the bitterness of homelessness, and began to realize the importance for him of fighting for Arab unity, independence and freedom .

After the Arab   Israeli war in 1967 he started writing for children and made it his primary concern .

 His biography for children written in poetry and then in prose, was entitled ‘I am telling you my childhood, O small ones’ His second autobiography was ‘The child Waïl in his search for his homeland’.

With his wife Dr. Malake Abiad, who loved him a lot, he contributed translations of many literary books (from English and French into Arabic) mostly Algerian books originally written in French .

 In October 1982 he received the Afro – Asian Writers’ Union Lotus Prize for poetry.

 In 1984, his poetical works for children received the prize of the Arab League, Educational, cultural, and Scientific Organization.

- In 1990, he was elected as a member of the Arab Language Academy (Damascus).

- In 2000, he received The Babatin Prize for poetical creativity.

Remembering his early childhood, in the village

"My mother:

Daughter of the country;

Who never got tired;

She used to heat the oven,

Cook, and gather wood;

Receive us in the morning and evening

With the ode of hope,

The lessons of hard work;

Saying: « Work hard children, life is work».

Life is work.

Life is work.

She was right… Life is work.

 Her eyes were full of ambition and hope.

All was lost in the whirlpool of poverty.

When she saw us learning,

Her eyes flashed with happiness,

And used to fill the house with pleasure;

And solemnly embrace the paper and inkpot.

She was deprived of the bless of light

Of the grace of learning, she was deprived

When darkness prevailed

She says to us: «to sleep».

Her songs were sad,

Oh! How sad her songs were!

Sleep songs, in winter,

When silence wrapped the evening,

And the tired slept;

Our down trodden people slept

Behind the walls of darkness,

Oh… free pigeon

How happy you are…!

May your memory be fragrant forever;

And forever flourishing in the heart,

Oh… my passionate mother;

Daughter of the village,

Whose image will never be forgotten by years".

At last, I say: I lost my second father today, but I will never and ever forget you.

Butheina Al-Nounou