Sunday, October 30, 2005

Al-Jazeera's Hiwar Maftuh on Syria. Ghassan bin Jiddu is one of the best interviewers and presenters of political programs. I never met him, but spoke on the phone with him couple of time when I appeared on his program a few months ago. According to surveys, Hiwar Maftuh is one of the most widely watched programs in the Arab world (along with Bi-`Arabi with, I can't even get to mention her name. She annoys me that much. I have recently found myself yelling obscenities (in Arabic) at the TV when I see her. In her personality, she is able to encapsulates everything that I have detested about Lebanonese "culture"). This program of Hiwar Maftuh last Saturday featured Syria's ambassador in UAE, Riyad Na`san Agha, Syrian dissident Michel Kilu, and a US professor, Joshua Landis. Ghassan was not fair to Landis, I have to say. Landis insisted on speaking in Arabic, and I was able to understand him although he has difficulty with the letter `ayn and kept saying Iraq instead of `Iraq, but Bin Jiddu would constantly interrupt him, and he did not have a chance to finish one thought. Riyad Agha wants to have it both ways: to speak for the regime, and yet to praise the "patriotic opposition" in Syria. I never understood why Agha has more leeway and more freedom than most Syrian diplomats or even officials. Michel Kilu bothers me: he says the regime is guilty of crimes and human rights violations, but yet does not call for the overthrow of the regime. Why? Explain that to me, Mr. Kilogram? And this vapid liberal talk about "democracy" has lost any meaning for me especially in the age of Bush doctrine. I also have my criteria about Syrian dissidents: I of course can not support the Muslim Brothers or any religious-oriented ideology. Secondly, the movement has to be consistent, unlike Kilo above. Thirdly, those Syrian dissidents who write in An-Nahar (which has a long record of hostility and racism to Syrians in general, and Syrian workers in particular) should be ashamed of themselves. They are, wittingly or unwittingly, mere tools in the service of right-wing anti-Arab militia leftovers in Lebanon. Of course, there are many decent and courageous Syrian dissidents are are consistent and oppose the rigime on firm grouds (and do not write in AnNahar).