Misinformation Even When it Comes to Drama

 It is not   often that a normal dramatic detective police series is subjected to the politicization and fury that the Syrian drama series "Interview with Mr. Adam" was subjected to.  Various TV channels went to great lengths showing different parts of episodes and emphasizing a particular scene and then rerunning that scene more than once. British newspaper "the Guardian " devoted a whole article to that particular detective series. Why were there many attempts to transform this series from an exciting thriller to a sinister on?

Corona at a Time of War

In late January China sealed off Wuhan an industrial centre of about 11 million people . Though the Chinese government's actions have been described as "Draconian" by some, with the passage of time they have also proven to be right.

As corona virus spread may countries tried to follow in China's footsteps but were unable to and so the virus raged that the world might witness an immense corona virus explosion as reports indicate that in some poorer countries corona virus remains undetected or if detected has not been treated with the seriousness that it deserves.

The effects of the pandemic have not been limited to the health sector only but have had a volcanic effect on the world as we know it.

It revealed weaknesses in both countries and individuals  where so many countries hid behind the glamour of their state of the art technologies and their capitalist systems, corona came forcing them into the nude and depriving them of what they had thought of as "inalienable rights". Maybe corona will change world order and countries that consider themselves in the lead will reconsider that claim. For to be in the lead is not only to have an abundance of guns and bombs, neither is it the ability to bully other countries into submissiveness but it is to have the backbone to stand straight in times of duress. It is never to forget our human compass, but foremost it is the ability to hold on to our principles, our ethics and our morals.

Aleppo Returns to the Fold

And so Aleppo second largest city in Syria, renown industrial capital and glorious throughout history (UNESCO world heritage site) has returned to the fold.

In 2012, large parts of  Aleppo fell into the hands of terrorist. For four years battles raged in Aleppo is one example resulting in almost irreparable damage. (The old mosque of Aleppo - 12th Century) Building were destroyed, lives were lost and antiquities were looted. Horror spread in Aleppo and martyrs fell in great numbers.

The story of the siege of Al Kindi Hospital still stills hearts in many aspects in the cruelty of the terrorists and in the bravery of the Syrian soldiers.

Al Kindi Hospital was not Aleppo’s only nightmare. Many followed and to mention but a few: the terrorist attempt to capture Aleppo Central Prison or the bloody skirmish between two terrorist groups (Islamist rebels and ISIS) over ISIS headquarters which was a hospital in Qadi Askar district of Aleppo, where a lot of lives were lost. Queres Airport to the east of the Aleppo was ground for bloody battles and many lives too were lost. The siege on Queres airport continued for three and a half years. For the terrorists, Queres airport, had they been able to gain access to it, would have formed a turning point and would have gained them additional strength and strategic importance. Forty eight Pilots out of fifty lost their lives, but Queres airport never fell to the hands of terrorists and was finally liberated in 2015.

2016 saw the liberation of Aleppo city and in February 2020, Aleppo southern and south western countryside was liberated thus sealing a victory for the governorate of Aleppo. Most importantly was the liberation of international roads. Roads that had been closed for years and by their closure had cost the government a great deal of money. These roads are the M4 and M5 highways.

 

The M5 route starts from southern Syria and runs all the way up to Aleppo. It is a 280 mile road and it links four governorates, Damascus, Homs, Hama and Aleppo passing through Idlib and hence it is a major economic pathway facilitating trade and movement.

The M4 links the seaport of Lattakia to Aleppo, thus facilitating movement of goods imported from abroad. The alternative route to M4 would be a route that would start from Lattakia passing through Hama, Salamieh, Kharaser to Aleppo city. This route increase the distance greatly and hence the cost of transportation.

…. And so die heroes

In the bewilderment of what happened (the assassination of general Suleimani) it is easy to forget that this is not the first time neither will it be the last time that America gets rid of its enemies through assassination.

A quick glance at back, to the 1960's will give a clear example of this, when the whole world shook with the assassination of Che Guevara. There were attempts to pass his assassination off as death due to fire exchange during battle.

Soon the information of how he died leaked out. Afraid of the spread of revolution that had started in Latin America- a revolution instigated by Guevara and Castro the USA decided that this revolution should be suffocated before it reached their backdoor.

It was the covert work of the CIA and their agents in Bolivia that led to the assassination of Che Guevara. De classified records show the high level of US interest in hunting down Che Guevara and his comrades. A Memorandum of understanding was signed between the American side and the Bolivian side in which it was agreed that Guevara and his group of fighters be kept under surveillance. When Guevara died the Americans viewed it as a victory. They had  managed to assassinate Guevara by proxy and had stifled his "hated revolution".

In the official wake (1967) held for him in Cuba by President Castro he said that through they have killed Che but they can never kill his ideas "The artist may die – but what will surely never die is the art to which he dedicated his life, the art to which he dedicated his intelligence,".

In an irony to top all ironies the man who volunteered to kill Guevara sergeant "Mario Teran" and who had to live in the dark the rest of his life in Bolivia penned a letter of gratitude to Castro which was later published by El Deber thanking Castro because Cuban doctors had operated on his eyes free of charge and thus proving that though he shot Guevara and ended his life the ideas of the revolution of equality and supporting the poor never died and in the end "Mario Teran" their killer and Guevara's benefitted from the moral and ethical beliefs of Guevara and the revolution he believed in.

British politician George Gallaway says "one of the greatest mistakes the US state ever made was to create those pictures of Che's corpse. Its Christ like poise in death ensured that has appeal would spread way beyond the turbulent university campus and into the hearts of the faithful, flocking to the worldly, fiery sermons of the liberation thoelogists." The Economist magazine pointed out how Che's post death photos resemble Andrea Mantegna's "The Lamentation over the Dead Christ".

Rawa Remains Resilient

Petite and demure Rawa’ wears a strict hijab (headscarf). She looks like a typical Syrian woman – but she isn’t. Hiding behind the calm exterior there are nightmarish memories that almost bring her heart to a stop-particularly around this time of year, for this is when it happened - 6 years ago!

Rawa’ with her husband and two children were residents of Adra Industrial Complex. It was a new house in a high rise building and Rawa and her husband had saved to buy it. The events that occurred from 11/12/2013 until 29/12/2013 would turns this safe and comfortable home into a place directly from hell – a house of horror.

In 2013 the war on Syria was intense-across the borders terrorists infiltrated urged by Turkey and paid by Saudi and Qatar. The west turned a blind eye and followed a foolish policy that brooked no change despite evidence that proved this policy false.

The Syrian army was fighting on its own and its sacrifices were steep. All this Rawa knew but she just never guessed how fatal and deadly was the combination of money and ignorance.

On that Wednesday 11th of December 2013 Rawa woke to the chanting of “Allah Akbar”- she checked her watch. It wasn’t the time for morning prayer. It was five thirty in the morning! The chant grew nearer and nearer and looking out of her window she saw them with their black hoods and black flags.

They had replaced the Syrian flag that used to fly off the police station with their own version of a flag. In minutes the whole house was awake and Rawa had to deal with a pressing problem.

Rawa herself was Damascene but her husband wasn’t. He came from the village of Ain Al Laban (North East Lattakia countryside) and belonged to the Alawite sect- though both she and her husband were Moslem his different sect could be a deadly problem. Quick witted she was just in time to hide the family identity cards behind a painting on the wall. Then came the dreaded Knock on the door! The first time they knocked on that first day the family took the decision not to open the door.

Other families followed suit and doors were not opened. Building residents attempted to barricade the building and they were successful for one day-one day only. The next day the terrorists threw a mortar on the first floor, completely wrecking the entrance of the building and so gaining access.

That was when the second knock came. This time Rawa had to open the door! And so they entered! Hooded, she recognized none of them although some were locals. When asked about their identity cards Rawa said this wasn’t her house, that it was only a temporary abode as her family were displaced and lost all their identification papers when a mortar fell on their house and burned it. Not really believing her tale the men ushered Rawa’ and her family into the basement of the building. There she met the other residents of the building. And so the interrogation began. They were looking for a man called Wasim Salhab because they had been told that he was Alawite. They called out his name but he was too scared to come forward-they suspected one of the men as they also had an idea of what he looked like. Disastrously the phone of Wasim rang and they forced him to answer on loudspeaker- it was his brother calling and they knew immediately that this was their man. A hard beating followed and Wasim lay on the floor. That was when Rawa realized that there was an alien presence in the basement-that of a Saudi Sheikh (Rawa could tell his nationality by his accent) and he spoke one sentence only and that sentence was enough to chill her to the bone!! “We agreed not to beat them. We said we would slaughter them.”

Wasim Salhab was never slaughtered not because they were good and decent men but because they discovered that he was an assistant anesthetist and so could be put to use by them.

Chaos and confusion reigned and was to Rawa’s benefit for she was able to smuggle her husband whom she had disguised as a woman into the women’s room where he remained safe but only for a short time. In the women’s room in the basement was the third floor neighbor who had been shot in her waist. After an unsuccessful operation she died, yet neither would they bury her nor would they allow for her burial. She remained a corpse ever present with the women and children until the smell became unbearable and the men at four in the morning two days after her death risked their lives to take her out and bury her-not in a proper cemetery of course-but in the back garden of the building where her grave remains until today. A grave that is witness to the horror and terror that Syria suffered from.

 Food was becoming scarce and the only way that it could be obtained was in the early hours of the morning when all the women would gather at the bottom of the stairs and by flash light creep to the house of one of them only-there they would take all the food available. Pantries were soon emptied from houses, house by house and children began to cry due to hunger pangs. No electricity and no running water (phones were charged in secret using car or motorcycle batteries) added to their despair and deprivation and the ill grew more ill and hope was absent from the horizon.

On the 28th of December. the residents of the building were given an ultimatum- they could choose to go either to Douma or the Mleha. The women would have to face “Majles Al Tobah” (the council of penance) in both places. That was when Rawa and her family had to take the hardest decision of their lives - to flee and possibly get caught and die – or to remain, face more interrogation, humiliation, abuse and possible death too.

In the end they decided to escape. Gathering their few, few belongings they readied their souls for the onslaught that awaited them. In the very early hours of the morning of the 29th of December 2013 Rawa, her family and other residents who had taken a similar decision crept out of the basement that had been their prison for more them forty four days. They formed a sorry line as they trudged through the snow. In a scene reminiscent of the “Hunger Games” hanging posts had been erected at the exists of the city and bodies hung from these posts. Only one exit remained that could still be usable-the one behind the bakery and that was the one they used.

Trudging through snow for six and a half hours with mortars and bullets falling around them it was so easy to surrender and return, but it was the women who were resilient and who urged their men to continue the march.

Rawa’s children Khaled (12 years) and Yara (9 years) were part of that line and it was then that Rawa made an observation that almost stilled her heart.

Her daughter’s beautiful corn colored hair had a white streak running through its middle. Fear had taken its toll on the little girl – a fear that would remain with her for years yet to come. Even today six years later the sound of thunder in the beautiful village of “Ain Laban” jolts Yara and she is taken back to the days of Industrial  Adra’ and the fear and horror there.

Rawa recovered from her ordeal and hardship and today she has returned to her original work as a journalist.

On most days she thinks of what happened and why it happened but trying to make sense of the senseless is futile – and so she spends her time teaching the orphaned children of the martyred in the village of Ain Al Laban. The village is her home now for although Adra Industrial complex was liberated by the Syrian Arab Army in 2014, in Rawa’s mind that area will not be cleansed from all the innocent blood that was shed there anytime soon.    

Editor in Chief

Reem Haddad