Syria: Jürgen Todenhöfer`s reply to Rafik Schami – The Syrian node

Posted: March 22, 2012 in Sideviews
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The German journalist Jürgen Todenhöfer (Juergen Todenhoefer) was over 20 years a manager of a European media group. Previously, Mr. Todenhöfer was a member of the German Bundestag (CDU / CSU) and also the spokesman for the development policy for these parties.

Afterwards, Jürgen Todenhöfer became the spokesman for the topic arms control for these parties. Until now, he has written 3 bestsellers about Iraq and Afghanistan, e.g. the Spiegel bestseller “Share your happiness” and his latest book, called “Demonizing Islam. Ten Theses against the hate.”.

The Syrian exile-writer Rafik Shami (Suhail Fāḍil) has described journalists like Jürgen Todenhöfer as “celebrity journalists” and said that these kinds of journalists defend the Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

Rafik Shami (Rafik Schami) blamed them because in his opinion, these journalists “cover-up the genocide in Syria” and also because of their “contempt of the Syrian women and men who give their lives on the streets to fight for freedom”.


One of the serious allegations by Rafik Shami against Jürgen Todenhöfer and some other journalists is, that the Syrian exile-writer thinks that these journalists “know about the murders, but the journalists deny this, because then, they were no more able to justify their relationship with the murderers”.

Of course, you can assume that Rafik Shami (Rafik Schami) also thinks the same about persons like Lizzie Phelan, Christoph Hörstel and Wesbter Tarpley. Jürgen Todenhöfer was only directly addressed (just like Peter Scholl-Latour) by the questionable claims of Rafik Shami, because Todenhöfer is a known German journalist and publicist and Rafik Shami knows that German media are going to care about this.

We should mention, that the last interviews of the Syrian exile-writer Rafik Shami showed, that he has no idea about the real situation within his former country or that he also supports the sectarian and violent trend of this so-called “uprising”.

Not to mention that somebody like Rafik Shami, whose books we had enjoyed, could know about the real situation, but just doesn`t speak about. He always sought the media attention in German to benefit from his “history” and situation. In particular, Rafik Shami criticized the publication of Juergen Todenhoefer (Todenhöfer) and the other well-known German publicist Peter Scholl-Latour.

The journalist Jürgen Todenhöfer (Todenhofer) replied in an open letter to these strange accusations of Rafik Shami. These accusations really had no true base and are just to put into questions.

The reply by Jürgen Todenhöfer to Rafik Schami (Shami)

If I – like most people – would have to inform myself about the situation in Syria only by using YouTube movies, then I would also say: “This dictator, who kills his people, must be overthrown.” And I would, perhaps, just like the popular case about (Libyan) uprising against Muammar Gaddafi (Qaddafi), support the calls for arms supplies to the rebels. In short, I understand every western citizen and spectator, who say, that Assad has to go. If the daily reports from Syria is the truth.

But many of the video films (YouTube) are misleading or faked. After the known Munchausen-campaign about the alleged weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, we see the same massive disinformation campaign about Syria. Thus, we saw a film report from Iraq at the German television on 17 May 2011, but this move was sold as a horror story from Syria. In the spring, the Australian television showed a film from Lebanon in 2008 as a report about Syria. The supplier, the news agency Reuters, had to apologize.

In the four and a half weeks, which I have spent in the strongholds of the Syrian revolution in June and November, I realized that more than half of the media reports (about Syria), which I had checked, were incorrect. Two harmless and two less harmless examples:

In November, according to Western media reports, the headquarters of the Baath party in Damascus was seriously damaged by the shelling of “brave rebels”. My investigation at this spot, however, revealed that a “sound bomb”, which was thrown from a car on the building, just shattered two panes of glass.

A little later, the world’s press reported, that the Syrian regime has banned all iPhones. A Syrian, whom I have called and asked about the content of truth at this ban, answered my question already annoyed, when this message would be true, he would not have to constantly answer these stupid questions (about that) on his iPhone.

On a day in November, when Al-Jazeera reported the killing of five civilians in the Syrian city of Homs, I was in the rebel stronghold. According to the central hospital, which I have visited immediately after the report of Al-Jazeera, and after extensive researches of my friends in Homs, it turned out that there were no dead or injured on this day, not even a fighting. The following day, there were also no funerals.

Rebels kill Alawites

Shortly thereafter, a minibus with thirteen Alawites was stopped near Homs by rebels. They were executed individually by headshots. Only one survived and was able to describe the attack. You could see the massacre in the evening news on television, because the rebels had carefully filmed their killing of the Alawites – but on television, these murders were not sold as a murder by rebels, but as a murder by Assad troops.

I have never experienced such a deliberate deception in my travels in the Arab world in recent decades. The truth was thoroughly massacred in the Syrian war.

Dr. Ali Haidar is the leader of the Syrian internal opposition party, the Syrian party SSNP. He is an ophthalmologist. This moderate party exists there since 1932. This party wasn`t legitimated officially because of the unofficial monopoly of the Baath Party, many of the actions of this opposition party were illegal, especially in demonstrations.

Some party members were punished with imprisonment; some are still arrested till today. In the recent referendum on the new Syrian constitution, the party of Haidar voted with No (because of some concerns), to the chagrin of Assad, although he is convinced that this Constitution is in core an important step towards democracy.

Haidar told me, that he cannot understand, why Al-Jazeera and rebels could so easily manipulate the Western media. The reality in Syria looks quite different. The disinformation resemble more and more the times before the war of Iraq. His most important conclusions:

  • 1. Many of the massacres of Syrian civilians, broadcasted by Al-Jazeera, were not committed by Syrian government forces, but by armed rebels. These rebels killed more civilians than the security forces. Above all, they kill Alawites and Christians, but also Sunnis like the son of the Syrian Grand Mufti.
  • 2. Because of own interests, the government security forces are not targeting on civilians while their fighting. Assad issued clear orders (not to kill civilians) – after some terrible mistakes were made by commanders in the early stages of insurgency. These commands are not always respected.
  • That was unacceptable. Assad’s clear goal is, however, to establish himself as the guarantor of the safety of the public. More than the halves of Syria are behind him. Attacks on civilians are counterproductive. This is the reason why Syria differs fundamentally from Tunisia, Egypt and Libya, where all the people have supported the insurgents. Those who underestimate the strength of the supporters of Assad, like the West, come to wrong judgments.

  • 3. The state security forces fought merciless battles with the armed rebels. Both sides are brutally. There is nothing to gloss over. However, no country in the world would watch idly, when gunmen kill dozens of soldiers and policemen every day (add. also civilians). The rebels, who were killed in the battles, are presented in Arab and Western television usually as civilian casualties; what is false.

The reality is quite different.

As far as Ali Haidar. What is poetry, what is truth? Considering my experiences, the reality in Syria differs from the stories, what the media gets from the rebels every day. A special role is played by the adventurous “Syrian Observatory for Human Rights” (SOHR) in Coventry, north of London. It consists of a person named Rami Abdulrahman alias Osama Ali Suleiman and a volunteer assistant. Osama runs, just a few meters away from his wife’s clothing store, a tiny, highly effective disinformation center.

Known exile-Syrian human rights organizations, which are also fighting the regime of Assad in Damascus, distance themselves publicly already from this “observatory”. They say Osama is spreading “fictitious numbers” and “false stories”.

In fact, Osama Ali Suleiman is responsible for spectacular hoaxes. For example, Osama was the source for the report of CNN on 7 August 2011 about the information that Syrian security forces had shut down the electricity of incubators of a hospital in Hama. Eight babies had paid for this barbarity with their lives. A cry went through the world. But the report, unchecked by CNN, was wrong.

The evidence, the published photo with the allegedly murdered eight premature infants, was from Egypt. And the supposedly murdered babies were not dead, but happy alive.

Syrian exile-Pinocchio

The UN, the EU and almost the entire Western media world lie at the feet of this Syrian exile-Pinocchio. They also rely heavily on the casualties, which are spread by him, in which he puts civilians, armed rebels and also security forces sometimes mercilessly into the same pot.

Especially before important political events, Osama strikes without any inhibition. On 3 February, the eve of a vote in the UN Security Council, he informed the world press of a massacre in Homs with 217 deaths. The opposition “Syrian National Council” raised the death toll to 260 from its safe location abroad, before the “Local Coordination Committee” (LCC) conceded the next day that the true figure lies at about 55 deaths.

Also 55 deaths are terrible. The number stands for 55 tragic fates. But the exaggeration is cynical. In the Syrian tragedy there is no need to exaggerate.

Rarely a single man was able to manipulate the media as successful as Rami Abdulrahman. Maybe with the exception of that Iraqi exile “Curveball”, who claimed before the war on Iraq, that he could prove, that Saddam Hussein owns biological weapons.

On this fragile basis of information, the West discusses the events in Syria – and always comes logically to false conclusions. Unlike it is sold to us, there is no classical popular uprising in Syria as it was in Tunisia, Egypt and Libya, but a complicated civil war-like confrontation between opponents and supports of Assad, in which the United States, Qatar and Saudi Arabia are strongly involved. This bloody conflict is not harmless, but worse than any classic popular uprising.

Good and evil does not fit

You cannot describe this any longer with black and white-categories and the division into good and evil. Even the final report of the observers of the Arab League has already abandoned crude simplifications. The report does not only reports of misconduct by state security forces, for which Bashar al-Assad, of course, bears the political responsibility.

The report also points to serious acts of violence against civilians by the armed rebels. Exemplary, the Arab League report describes the bombing of a civilian bus by rebels, which had killed eight people, women and children. The report also sharply criticized the exaggeration of the number of victims.

I’ve made my judgment on Syria not easy. Despite the warnings of Western diplomats that they will cut off our noses and ears in Homs and Hama I went to the strongholds of revolution. In Homs, I was shelled by rebels; I was arrested in Damascus and Daraa (Dara`a). I had countless conversations with both parties of the conflict, and I met nice people on both sides. This past weekend I discussed for hours with representatives of the Syrian opposition in exile in a European capital.

Still, I know that I still do not know much about Syria. But I recommend it to anyone who wants to really help this country, to first put his ass in motion, to gain a own picture. Good advices by Western sofa-strategists are the last things, which are needed by Syria and the Syrians now.

The Syrian nodes cannot be solved with one-sided condemnations, sanctions or arms. And certainly not by military intervention like it has happened in Afghanistan, Iraq or Libya. This would lead to the destabilization of the entire Middle East. This would be also extremely dangerous for us. Our politicians are playing a irresponsible gamble in the Syria-Iran crisis, that can quickly endanger our own security.

I believe, that those within the Syrian opposition politicians are right, who demand an immediate cease-fire – and a fair dialogue. They demand that the gruesome killing will end immediately – from both sides. No person shall be excluded from this dialogue. Neither the opposition abroad – even if they do not have to say much in Syria – even the Syrian rebels in the country. Only when no one is excluded, there can be a genuine reconciliation in the divided country.

A hypocritical world

Willy Brandt was himself never too good to negotiate with dictators. People were more important to him than hollow words. You must be willing to negotiate with the powers to help the powerless. The statement of Western politicians, that a dialogue with a “butcher”, who has 8,000 people on his conscience, is a prime example of double standards.

Nobel peace laureate Barack Obama has nearly 9,000 Afghan and Pakistani civilians on his conscience, even women and children, in his short tenure. George W. Bush has to take the responsible for the deaths of hundreds of thousands of innocent people in Iraq. What a hypocritical, pharisaical world.

The goal of a dialogue must be the peaceful transition to constitutional democracy. These demands have the enemies and the supporters of Bashar al-Assad. Even that is overlooked in the West. Negotiations are often arduous and difficult. But they are better than war. Especially better as civil wars, in which friends and brothers fight against each other. Civil wars are a scourge of humanity.

In the American Civil War, 618 000 Americans were killed. More than in the two World Wars together. The Civil War was the greatest tragedy of the United States. For this disaster, in which government troops also “killed their own people,”, President Abraham Lincoln was responsible for.

Wars and civil wars are only good for those who do not know them. For sofa-strategists who are sitting, according to Goethe, in the warm room and sing war songs. The majority of Syrians want to prevent a civil war, which would cost the lives of hundreds of thousands Syrians. They do not want that their country, Syria, descends into chaos as it has happened in Iraq. They puke on the remote diagnostics-guys and the office sitter, who advise them to fight the military conflict to the bitter end.

Democracy with al-Assad

This silent majority in Syria believes that a peaceful introduction of democracy is only possible together with al-Assad – whether the West likes it or not. I was also totally amazed about it first. But even Syrian opposition politicians, who sometimes had to spend over ten years in the dungeons of the father of Bashar al-Assad, argued vehemently for this path. For example, the Marxist opposition leader and internist, Abdul Azeez al-Khayyer. The one, who derided this person, disqualifies himself.

The opinion of the Syrians, the Syrian who experience the tragedy every day on their own bodies, is more important than the opinion of Western war and chaos strategists. They have done already too much harm with their failed war-strategies in Afghanistan and Iraq.

They do not really care about democracy and human rights within Syria. Otherwise, they would also have to support democracy in Saudi Arabia, where one can still find public decapitations, stoning and flogging.

The chaos strategists in the West are primarily interested in the weakening of Iran, which became too powerful because of their foolish war of Iraq. They want to remove a key ally of Iran – al-Assad. That’s the gist of the matter and nothing else. As long as Assad is allied with Iran, the West will operate to his downfall. Even then, if al-Assad would introduce a perfect Westminster democracy in Syria.

This is also the reason why the West has harsh protested against the democratic steps by al-Assad in Syria, which he has prevailed with difficulty against the old squad. The West would rather like to have extremist friends in Syria, than a Democratic opponent.

Grand Delusion of the West

It is the great grand delusion of the West that the West (still) claims, that he is fighting about democracy and human rights in the Middle East. In reality, the West is only fighting for their interests. Because he doesn’t want to admit it, he gets tangled in inextricable contradictions.

Such as when he demonizes autocratic states like Syria, but also heroize autocracies such as Bahrain, Qatar and Saudi Arabia as “stabilizing force”. The West was and is in the Arab world, never really on the side of Democrats. Not even in Syria.

Nevertheless, dictatorships are discontinued models. The democracy will prevail in all Arab states in the medium term. I also hoped for this for decades. Dictators and tyrants have never been my friends. The only question is whether hundreds of thousands have to die on the road to democracy; my answer is that negotiations are better. And possible.

In Sure 5, verse 32 of the Qur’an it says: “If any one saves a life, this is like he has saved the whole human life.” This should be our issue. Whether they are innocent civilians, anti-or pro-Assad demonstrators or rebels or soldiers.

But the West is not really interested in the people of Syria. Just as the West was never interested the people of Iraq. Oil and the power play are more important to the West in the Middle East. The German politics continues marching in lockstep with all this. Since 9/11, it has become difficult to work for peaceful solutions in our country.

Germany, you’ve changed!

Source: ANTWORT AUF RAFIK SCHAMI – Der syrische Knoten

Image: Stuart Miles / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Comments
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