Sunday, July 30, 2006


Just when things could not get any worse, they did with the horrible news from Qana. Qana is the small town in Southern Lebanon where, according to the Bible, Jesus turned water into wine. The town's more recent history is tragic. In 1996 the Israelis bombed a U.N. compound where villagers had sought shelter from fighting between Hezbollah fighters and the Israeli army that was occupying South Lebanon at the time. One hundred men, women and children died. The tragedy at Qana became a symbol of the brutality of the 18 year Israeli occupation of Southern Lebanon. Today, history repeats itself. Some 56 civilians, including 36 children huddled in what they thought was the safety of the basement of an apartment building perished after the Israeli airforce bombed the building, twice. Then, as now, the Israeli government says it was a mistake and that they do not target civilians. Tell that to the relatives of the some 600 other mistakes they have comitted since July 12th.

Several days ago Condaleeza Rice, standing in Jerusalem next to an Israeli prime minister intent on pulverizing Lebanon to dust to get Hezbollah, declared that "we" will prevail and that a new Middle East is in the making. This arrogant, triumphalist statement by the Secretary of State not only declares unconditional support for Israel but essentially states that Israeli and American Middle East policy are now one and the same. They also share the same modus operandi that goes something like this: in a bad neighborhood restraint is a sign of weakness so hit hard first and then ask questions. Moreover, this brave new Middle East will be of their own making and the natives will have no say in shaping it. So a region with infinite shades of grey is reduced to the monochromatic Bushian view of the world: you are either with us or you belong in Guantanamo.

What a difference a few days make. Today, the Decider in Chief and his Secretary of State are much less bombastic. They are finally asking for an immediate ceasefire -of course I meant "cessation of hostilities". They even "feel the pain" of the Lebanese families that have lost loved ones. No one is buying these crocodile tears. Instead of this fake sympathy, the only superpower, the self-styled indispensable nation, and the provider of 3 billion dollars of aid yearly to Israel could have leaned a little on Olmert and had this insanity stopped. It was evident shortly after Israel started its campaign that it had overreached and was causing wanton destruction in Lebanon. However, the U.S. administration, blinded by its paranoid War on Terrorism and seeing an opportunity to deal Iran an indirect blow, refused to call for a stop to the violence and instead blatantly encouraged its surrogate bully, Israel to finish off Hezbollah.

This bull in a china shop diplomacy does not work in the Middle East; never has. No one, Israeli, Arab or American seems to have learned the lessons of history. No one ever wins in such confrontations, everyone loses, some much more than others. A newly independent Lebanon, reborn after shedding Israeli (2000) then Syrian (2005) influence and its people are the biggest losers. Its population, especially those who have lost their homes and livelihood in the war will be angry and radicalized. A paranoid Israel will be even more so and not any safer. America's stock, in the Middle East will sink -if that's possible- to new lows. Moreover, from Lebanon's experience, the message to Arab reformers is loud and clear. The administration's stated goal of bringing democracy to the Middle East is a fig leaf, a sham easily discarded in favor of what the administration perceives as the United States' strategic interest. For over a year the U.S. egged on and supported the rise of the anti-Syrian reformers in Lebanon only to pull the rug from under them in favor of Israel at the time when they needed them most.

I find the ease with which the U.S. administration simply discarded Lebanon stunning and short sighted. This is after all the most democratic of the Arab countries with a thriving free press and a legendary entrepreneurial spirit. It is also the most Westernized of Arab countries and with a large diaspora living in Europe and the Americas the natural cultural bridge between East and West. A transformed Lebanon would have been critical first step in advancing larger regional reforms.

Instead, the Cedar Revolution is now dead, the country shredded, hundreds dead, hundreds of thousand displaced and now an outrage in, of all places, Qana.

Was Lebanon's Destruction Preordained?

Nearly every major and minor newspaper in the United States has unquestionably supported Israel's reason for going to war: self-defense. But was it really, or was this a planned event waiting for an excuse like Hezbollah's reckless operation on July 12th? Could this be the reason why the Bush administration has been dragging its feet on a ceasfire for the past two weeks.

Saturday, July 29, 2006

Lebanon: Destroying the Coast

(Photo from; posted by finkployd)

About 10,000 tons of oil from the tanks of the Jiyeh power plant bombed by Israeli aircraft now pollute about 40 miles of the Lebanese coast threatening to affect the entire coast extending onto the Syrian coast and beyond. Another report states that the spill now extends 60 miles. Enviromental groups agree that this is the largest enviromental disaster that Lebanon has faced.

The New York Times also reports on the severe air pollution and forest fires caused by Israel's unrelenting bombing campaign.

Yet more convincing evidence that the Israeli government's intention was not the destruction of the whole of Lebanon, just Hezbollah.

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Civilians? What Civilians?

Here is a mind bending rationalization by Alan Dershowitz of Israel's indiscriminate attack on civilians. This is from the same person who suggested that shooting to kill a Palestinian teenager throwing stones at Israeli soldiers is justified and that the village from which a suicide bomber originates should be raised to the ground as a form of collective punishment. I learned of this article from the comment of an Israeli blogger who describes herself as someone working for peace and understanding in the Middle East but who praised the article! And I thought only Arabs suffered from self-delusional thinking.

'Civilian Casualty'? It Depends
Those who support terrorists are not entirely innocent.

(Los Angeles Times, July 22, 2006)

By Alan Dershowitz,

THE NEWS IS filled these days with reports of civilian casualties, comparative civilian body counts and criticism of Israel, along with Hezbollah, for causing the deaths, injuries and "collective punishment" of civilians. But just who is a "civilian" in the age of terrorism, when militants don't wear uniforms, don't belong to regular armies and easily blend into civilian populations?We need a new vocabulary to reflect the realities of modern warfare. A new phrase should be introduced into the reporting and analysis of current events in the Middle East: "the continuum of civilianality." Though cumbersome, this concept aptly captures the reality and nuance of warfare today and provides a more fair way to describe those who are killed, wounded and punished.

There is a vast difference — both moral and legal — between a 2-year-old who is killed by an enemy rocket and a 30-year-old civilian who has allowed his house to be used to store Katyusha rockets. Both are technically civilians, but the former is far more innocent than the latter. There is also a difference between a civilian who merely favors or even votes for a terrorist group and one who provides financial or other material support for terrorism.Finally, there is a difference between civilians who are held hostage against their will by terrorists who use them as involuntary human shields, and civilians who voluntarily place themselves in harm's way in order to protect terrorists from enemy fire.These differences and others are conflated within the increasingly meaningless word "civilian" — a word that carried great significance when uniformed armies fought other uniformed armies on battlefields far from civilian population centers. Today this same word equates the truly innocent with guilty accessories to terrorism.The domestic law of crime, in virtually every nation, reflects this continuum of culpability. For example, in the infamous Fall River rape case (fictionalized in the film "The Accused"), there were several categories of morally and legally complicit individuals: those who actually raped the woman; those who held her down; those who blocked her escape route; those who cheered and encouraged the rapists; and those who could have called the police but did not.No rational person would suggest that any of these people were entirely free of moral guilt, although reasonable people might disagree about the legal guilt of those in the last two categories. Their accountability for rape is surely a matter of degree, as is the accountability for terrorism of those who work with the terrorists.It will, of course, be difficult for international law — and for the media — to draw the lines of subtle distinction routinely drawn by domestic criminal law. This is because domestic law operates on a retail basis — one person and one case at a time. International law and media reporting about terrorism tend to operate on more of a wholesale basis — with body counts, civilian neighborhoods and claims of collective punishment.But the recognition that "civilianality" is often a matter of degree, rather than a bright line, should still inform the assessment of casualty figures in wars involving terrorists, paramilitary groups and others who fight without uniforms — or help those who fight without uniforms.Turning specifically to the current fighting between Israel and Hezbollah and Hamas, the line between Israeli soldiers and civilians is relatively clear. Hezbollah missiles and Hamas rockets target and hit Israeli restaurants, apartment buildings and schools. They are loaded with anti-personnel ball-bearings designed specifically to maximize civilian casualties.Hezbollah and Hamas militants, on the other hand, are difficult to distinguish from those "civilians" who recruit, finance, harbor and facilitate their terrorism. Nor can women and children always be counted as civilians, as some organizations do. Terrorists increasingly use women and teenagers to play important roles in their attacks.The Israeli army has given well-publicized notice to civilians to leave those areas of southern Lebanon that have been turned into war zones. Those who voluntarily remain behind have become complicit. Some — those who cannot leave on their own — should be counted among the innocent victims.If the media were to adopt this "continuum," it would be informative to learn how many of the "civilian casualties" fall closer to the line of complicity and how many fall closer to the line of innocence.Every civilian death is a tragedy, but some are more tragic than others.

Monday, July 24, 2006

Condaleeza, Thanks for Nothing!

For twelve days between July 12th and the 23th Condi and GW stand around and cheer Israel on, making it amply clear that they do not give a damn about Lebanon or Lebanese civilians. In fact just the opposite, members of Congress fell over each other (it's an election year, remember!) to approve emergency appropriations to give Israel extra fuel for its jets and more missiles to unleash on Lebanon.

During this time, as the American government collectively looks the other way, over 380 civilians die, over 1500 are wounded, over 750,000 are displaced, and Lebanon's civilian infrastructure is devastated.

On July 24th, Condi parachutes into Beirut and, without a hint of irony, pledges American support for humanitarian relief. A ceasefire that would reduce the need for humanitarian relief was not even on the table. After all, Israel still has some business to finish. If this is a PR stunt to appease Arab sensitivities, then it failed miserably.

Meanwhile death and destruction continues to rain on Lebanon unabated.

Sunday, July 23, 2006

Lebanon: The Cost of Inaction

Lebanon has paid a terrible short term price for Israel's disproportionate military response in terms of lives and property. The longer the conflict continues unchecked the more disastrous the long term effects will be for Lebanon and the region both in terms of economic loss and political stability.

The Western leaders' deliberate foot dragging in pursuing a ceasefire, as dictated by the the United States, will further damage already tense relations between the West and the Muslim world as outlined in Michael Scheuer's article:
Doing Bin Laden's Work for Him. Michael Scheuer is a former CIA operative who was in charge of operations against Al Qaida between 1996-1999.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Hypocrites, Hypocrites, Hypocrites, Hypocrites!

Israelis, including Netanyahu, celebrate the anniversary of the bombing of the King David Hotel that claimed 92 lives:,,173-2277717,00.html.

Act of resistance or terrorism? Be careful, this is a trick question.

(with thanks to my friend MK)

Senator Hillary Olmert Responds

This is the canned response I got from Hillary Clinton's office in response to the letter I sent (see previous post). My jaw dropped when I read it. You would think it was written by the office of the Israeli PM not a US senator who represents me. The safety and well being of Lebanese civilians does not seem to even register a blip on the Honorable Senator's conscious.


Dear Dr. ------:

Thank you for sharing with me your concerns regarding the current situation between Israel and Lebanon . The unprovoked attacks on innocent Israelis and the killing and abduction of Israeli soldiers by the terrorist groups Hamas and Hezbollah are dramatic escalations of violence against Israel . The United States must stand by Israel as she defends herself. No government can stand idly by when its citizens and soldiers are attacked and abducted and when terrorist groups make incursions into its territory. Recent events demonstrate that Hamas's ascent to power in the Palestinian Authority, and Hezbollah's participation in the Lebanese government, are dangerous for the stability, not only of Israel , but of the entire region. Hamas and Hezbollah must return the Israeli soldiers they abducted and cease their attacks against Israel .

Israel 's right to exist, and exist in safety, must never be put in question. We must also continue to send a very clear message to Syria , Iran and others to join in condemning these attacks and to exercise their influence over Hamas and Hezbollah.

Again, thank you for taking the time to write. Please be assured that I continue to monitor very carefully this profoundly serious situation. For updates on this and other important issues being discussed before the United States Senate, please check my web site at
Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton
My response:
Dear Senator Clinton,

With all due respect, your canned response to my initial email fell very short of my expectations. As an Arab-American and one of your constituents, I am shocked by the unabashedly pro-Israeli tone of your response that did not even attempt an even-handed approach to this international crisis. Your stance is more hawkish than that of republican neocons whose stubborn self-righteousness is the cause of America's foreign policy fiascos.

Senator, I am not asking you to give up you support of Israel. I am simply asking you to help stop the killing. It is clear though that the lives of innocent Lebanese and Palestinians do not concern you. I conclude from this that you will not even consider the grievances of your Arab-American constituents. Because of that, you have lost my confidence and my vote.


Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Dear Hillary, About Lebanon...

Sitting thousands of miles away, angry, hopeless and feeling useless, I can either internalize everything and get an ulcer or try externalize it. So I will talk to whoever listens and write to influence and educate. I have signed petitions, been interviewed by the local newspaper and I continue to post on my blog. Does it make a difference? I don't know but it is the only thing I can do. Changing minds one person at a time is a long term project but so is the Middle East. This is especially true here, this most powerful nation whose behavior determines the destiny of many lesser nations, but whose citizenry is stunningly clueless on matters of foreign policy. Below is my letter to Senator Clinton, an attempt at directly influencing a politician of some standing. I will share her response, if and when I get one.

The Honorable Hillary Rodham Clinton
United States Senate
476 Russell Senate Office Building
Washington, D.C. 20510-3203

Senator Clinton,

I am writing to plead with you to do your utmost to work for an immediate ceasefire between Israel and Hezbollah. This is of utmost urgency to not only spare the lives of civilians, Lebanese and Israeli, but also to spare Lebanon from further destruction.

The United States is the only country that has the clout to ask Israel to stop its cruel and wanton destruction of Lebanon. There is no military, moral or practical justification for Israel's disproportionate actions. The targets have included: civilians (>95% of casualties) , housing, power plants, hospitals, bridges, a civilian airport (in a country without an air force), seaports (in a country without a navy) as well as factories producing milk products and pharmaceuticals. The destruction, even if it were to stop now, will cripple the Lebanese economy for years to come. Any reasonable person would conclude that Israel's aim is not the destruction of Hezbollah but the destruction of Lebanon as a viable country.

I do not condone Hezbollah's action that triggered this conflict, but it is also a myth perpetrated by Israel that Hezbollah represents an existential threat to the state of Israel.

You know very well that this is a war that the Lebanese did not ask for and did not want. Lebanon had been slowly healing for the past 16 years and was emerging as the vibrant, cosmopolitan and diverse place that it once was. The present Lebanese government had until now had the full support of the United States government. It was actively trying to resolve all outstanding national problems through dialogue including the issue of Hizbollah's militia. With the present crisis, the administration has essentially abandoned Lebanon giving Israel the unconditional green light to do whatever it wants. Adding insult to injury, the president has made it clear that he does not wish to intervene until Israel has had enough time to reach its goals.

It has been truly heart wrenching for anyone who knows and loves Lebanon to watch what is going on. Sixteen years of painstaking reconstruction undone in a week of vengeful attacks that serve no one.

Madam Senator, I know that since becoming a senator for the State of New York, you have become a staunch supporter of Israel. But I also remember your courageous position, prior to becoming senator, advocating for an independent Palestinian state.

I am asking you to take an equally courageous stand in support of immediate cessation of hostilities. It is not only the morally right thing to do but also the politically right thing to do. Please do not allow the administration's reckless foreign policies to further damage the United States' reputation. More immediately, Lebanon, a vital country in the Middle East needs to be rescued from complete destruction now.

Monday, July 17, 2006

Robert Fisk's Eyewitness Report

Read it and weep. Of course Israeli actions do not qualify as "shit" in Bush's highly refined diplomatic vocabulary but Hezbullah's actions do.

What I am watching in Lebanon each day is an outrage

By Robert Fisk in Mdeirej, Central Lebanon 07/15/06 " The Independent" -- - -

The beautiful viaduct that soars over the mountainside here has become a "terrorist" target. The Israelis attacked the international highway from Beirut to Damascus just after dawn yesterday and dropped a bomb clean through the central span of the Italian-built bridge a symbol of Lebanon's co-operation with the European Union sending concrete crashing hundreds of feet down into the valley beneath. It was the pride of the murdered ex-prime minister Rafik Hariri, the face of a new, emergent Lebanon. And now it is a "terrorist" target. So I drove gingerly along the old mountain road towards the Bekaa yesterday - the Israeli jets were hissing through the sky above me - turned the corner once I rejoined the highway, and found a 50ft crater with an old woman climbing wearily down the side on her hands and knees, trying to reach her home in the valley that glimmered to the east. This too had become a "terrorist" target. It is now the same all over Lebanon. In the southern suburbs - where the Hizbollah, captors of the two missing Israeli soldiers, have their headquarters - a massive bomb had blasted off the sides of apartment blocks next to a church, splintering windows and crashing balconies down to parked cars. This too had become a "terrorist target. One man was brought out shrieking with pain, covered in blood. Another "terrorist" target. All the way to the airport were broken bridges, holed roads. All these were "terrorist" targets. At theairport, tongues of fire blossomed into the sky from aircraft fuel storage tanks, darkening west Beirut. These too were now "terrorist" targets. At Jiyeh, the Israelis attacked the power station. This too was a "terrorist" target. Yet when I drove to the actual headquarters of Hizbollah, a tall building in Haret Hreik, it was totally undamaged. Only last night did the Israelis manage to hit it. So can the Lebanese be forgiven - can anyone here be forgiven - for believing that the Israelis have a greater interest in destroying Lebanon than they do in their two soldiers? No wonder Middle East Airlines, the national Lebanese airline, put crews into its four stranded Airbuses at Beirut airport early yesterday and sneaked them out of the country for Amman before the Israelis realised they were under power and leaving. European politicians have talked about Israel's "disproportionate" response to Wednesday's capture of its soldiers. They are wrong. What I am now watching in Lebanon is an outrage. How can there be any excuse for the 73 dead Lebanese blown these past three days? The same applies, of course, to the four Israeli civilians killed by Hizbollah rockets. But - please note the exchange rate of Israeli civilian lives to Lebanese civilian lives now stands at 1 to more than 15. This does not include the two children who were atomised in their home in Dweir on Thursday and whose bodies cannot be found. Their six brothers and sisters were buried yesterday, along with their mother and father. Another "terrorist" target. So was a neighbouring family with five children who were also buried yesterday. Another "terrorist" target. Terrorist, terrorist, terrorist. There is something perverse about all this, the slaughter and massive destruction and the self-righteous, constant, cancerous use of the word "terrorist". No, let us not forget that the Hizbollah broke international law, crossed the Israeli border, killed three Israeli soldiers, captured two others and dragged them back through the border fence. It was an act of calculated ruthlessness that should never allow Hizbollah leader, Hassan Nasrallah, to grin so broadly ay his press conference. It has brought unparalleled tragedy to countless innocents in Lebanon. And of course, it has led Hizbollah to fire at least 170 Katyusha rockets into Israel. But what would happen if the powerless Lebanese government had actually unleashed air attacks across Israel the last time Israel's troops crossed into Lebanon? What if the Lebanese air force then killed 73 Israeli civilians in bombing raids in Ashkelon, Tel Aviv and Israeli West Jerusalem? What if a Lebanese fighter aircraft bombed Ben Gurion airport? What if a Lebanese plane destroyed 26 road bridges across Israel? Would it not be called "terrorism"? I rather think it would. But if Israel was the victim, it would also probably be Word War Three. Of course, Lebanon cannot attack Tel Aviv. Its air force comprises three ancient Hawker Hunters and an equally ancient fleet of Vietnam-era Huey helicopters. Syria, however, has missiles that can reach Tel Aviv. So Syria - which Israel rightly believes to be behind Wednesday's Hizbollah attack is not going to be bombed. It is Lebanon which must be punished. The Israeli leadership intends to "break" the Hizbollah and destroy its "terrorist cancer". Really? Do the Israelis really believe they can "break" one of the toughest guerrilla armies in the world? And how? There are real issues here. Under UN Security Council Resolution 1559 - the same resolution that got the Syrian army out of Lebanon - the Shia Muslim Hizbollah should have been disarmed. They were not because, if the Lebanese Prime Minister, Fouad Siniora, had tried to do so, the Lebanese army would have had to fight them and the army would almost certainly broken apart because most Lebanese soldiers are Shia Muslims. We could see the restarting of the civil war in Lebanon - a fact which Nasrallah is cynically aware of - but attempts by Siniora and his cabinet colleagues to find a new role for Hizbollah, which has a minister in the government (he is Minister of Labour) foundered. And the greatest now is that the Lebanese government will collapse and be replaced by a pro-Syrian government which could re-invite the Syrians back into the country. So there's a real conundrum to be solved. But it's not going to succeed with the mass bombing of the country by Israel. Not the obsession with terrorists, terrorists, terrorists.

(c) 2006 Independent News and Media Limited

Saturday, July 15, 2006

Enough Delusions!

For the past two days I have had a gnawing feeling in the pit of my stomach. It is a mix of disgust, anger and hopelessness at the events in Lebanon, a country that I love. My memories of living through many similar events in Lebanon remain vivid so I know what it feels, sounds and smells like... I hate it and I don't wish it on my worst enemy. As I have watched the Lebanese slowly rebuild their shattered country over the last 16 years, I had hoped against all odds, that the youngest generation of Lebanese would be finally spared the horrors of war.

I seethe in anger at the callousness and cruelty with which Israel destroys innocent lives and Lebanon's civilian infrastructure in the name of self-defense with the silent acquiescence of the rest of the world. The Israelis know perfectly well that Lebanon is deeply divided over Hizbullah's militia. Why punish everyone? The only conclusion one can draw from their over reaction is that they are not interested in a stable and prosperous Lebanon but in one that is in perpetual political and economic chaos. From their response in Gaza, they have the same condescending attitude to the Palestinians. To all this, the moronic US president, with his cartoonish, black and white view of the world gives his full, unconditional support. Just imagine the brownie points he would have gained with the "Arab Street" that he is trying so hard to woo, if he would have at least qualified his support of Israel by saying: "OK to self defense ... But civilians and civilian infrastructure are not fair game". Is it not these same civilians, whether in Gaza or Lebanon, to whom he wants to bring democracy? No wonder that the "Arab Street" is cynical of American intentions.

Equal to my anger and disgust at the Israelis is my anger and disgust at Hizbullah and its leaders for the sheer recklessness and stupidity of the act that triggered this whole fiasco. What were they really trying to achieve? Yes, yes, I know, the reason for the continued existence of their militia is they want to liberate every last inch of Lebanese territory because that speck on the map that is Shebaa farms is so critical for Lebanon's future. Even if it is so, is this the right time? The right way? Is it in the end worth it? Is it even logical to go up against one of the most powerful armies in the world backed up, unconditionally, by the only superpower. Rigid ideology has to be tempered by logic and reason if not it becomes delusional and self-destructive.

Some may think my explanations naive as this is surely part of a larger, Machiavellian game played at the regional level. I will let others speculate. What I do know is that these games always serve the narrow interests of the leaders -survival at any cost- who engage in them and comes invariably at the expenses of the people they are sworn to serve.

To their credit, Hizbullah did, as they are like to remind the Lebanese, force Israel to leave in 2000. For that, they were rewarded with real political power to represent their constituency, the Shia, that has long been marginalized in Lebanon. Why then did they not then disband their militia? Is it such a hard concept to understand that a stable independent state cannot function with two armies one answering to the government and one to a leader with no political or legal authority? They are either unable or unwilling to transform from a resistance movement that is capable of blowing things up to a political movement that can help build a country. They justify the continued existence of their militia to the general public by invoking the need to liberate the Shebaa farms but are in reality unwilling to give up the power that comes with having their own private army. Just imagine the intoxicating power that Nasrallah must be feeling acting as if he was simultaneously president, prime minister and commander in chief of Lebanon but without any of the constraints or responsibilities. So he can callously offer up all his citizens and his country for "all out war" because in the end he will not have to fix the bridges or mend the lives that are affected as a consequence of his action.

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Steel & Silk: The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

Sami Moubayed's 623 page opus is subtitled: Men and women who shaped Syria 1900-2000. This book contains short biographies of 341 Syrians whom Moubayed feels have had the largest impact -good or bad- on the history of the nation. He profiles personalities from all facets of public life including politicians, military officers, administrators, educators, and literary figures.

Despite the encyclopedic nature of this undertaking, the book is an easy and interesting read. Moubayed's writing style is clean and his biographies are peppered with interesting anecdotes or quotes that bring to life the personalities of the individuals. In his introduction, Moubayed makes the point that he has tried to be as objective as possible without leaving out inconvenient details that may expose a person's "flaws, foibles, failures and follies". He has largely achieved this objective with one exception. The politicians who have dominated Syria since 1970 seem strangely free of "flaws, failures, foibles and follies". In addition, his historical timeline contains some jarring entries. Consider this one: "1982. February. The Syrian Army went to war in Hama against the Muslim Brotherhood, who were calling for a holy war against the Baathists. The military uprising against the regime was crushed by force, and the armed forces pledged unwavering loyalty to Hafez al-Asad". Was that last part necessary or even factual for that matter? It has the fishy smell of propaganda. And how about the thousands, tens of thousands of civilians who perished? Whether this represents Moubayed's conscious sanitizing of recent Syrian history or just a case of self-preserving, self-censorship, only he can say.

Despite these shortcomings, this is an excellent reference book for anyone interested in Syrian history.