Archive for May, 2012

Pierre Piccinin when he believed Assad had a lot of sunny days ahead of him

Frequently quoted by alternative news sources, a guest on RT where he predicted many sunny days for Assad and falsity in the “narrative” of the opposition and the media attention in the west, Pierre Piccinin had a dramatic change of heart when he finally was able to experience the full-immersion into Syrian reality, the arbitrary arrests on false accusations and physical abuse. He now states

“faced with the horror that I discovered and for each of these men I’ve seen horribly mutilated by barbarians in the service of a dictatorship which I never imagined the daring and the degree of ferocity, I agree with them, I call for military intervention in Syria, which can reverse the abomination of the Baathist regime, even if the country is sinking into civil war if this difficult passage is necessary, it must be attempted, so to put an end to forty-two years of organized terror in proportions which I had no idea.”

His own site was a treasure trove for the anti-imperialist and particularly pro-Assad websites to use as a source. Take for instance this excerpt (a bit of fact checking to find out his nationality would have been a nice touch if we are talking about accuracy, but anyway)

In his latest interview with the known Turkish newspaper Hurriyet, Pierre Piccinin said, that he was able to witness firsthand, how armed men attacked Syrian government authorities in the Syrian cities of Hama, Homs and Damascus. He also mentioned that he saw the weakness of the so-called opposition and that the amount of pro-government demonstrations has never been broadcasted by international media.

The French academic also mentioned in these statements to the Turkish newspaper Hurriyet, that the real image of the situation in Syria was not reflected accurately by Arab and international media and news agencies. He also stated that these media agencies use false information for their reports. This false information is in contrast to the real situation within this country of the Middle East. In line with other known people as e.g. Lizzie Phelan, Webster Tarpley and Thierry Meyssan,

Pierre Piccinin reports about his own experiences in Syria and these reports are really in a huge contrast to the coverage by international and Arab media. This is also in contrast to the false propaganda of some Western governments. Pierre Piccinin visited Syria twice in recent months and wasn`t too afraid to visit also the Syrian cities of Hama and Homs.

On his Facebook page, which has a large number of Assad supporters as “friends”, he issued his first post upon his return to Belgium. In rough translation, this is the content:

Well back to Brussels. A little battered, but alright. I thank all those who, on Face Book or by mail, have supported me in these complicated moments that I now find messages of friendship, after six hard days spent in four different Syrian prisons. I also thank my fellow prisoners who are still there.

What really happened …

Because I read a lot of nonsense about me, since I got home, late afternoon: This article from the newspaper Le Soir, in particular, is a stupidity of wickedness and filth, not only because that it is filled with mistakes and nonsense-the photo to begin with, was taken in Lebanon, along with anti-Assad Sunni militiamen, but also because it is well known for some unhealthy mudslinging, and I said that, contrary to other media who had traveled to greet me at the airport this afternoon, Le Soir published the dispatches of anything without contacting me for checking, I also wonder how many Le Soir journalists had the balls to go on the ground twice in Libya, Yemen, Syria three times, etc.., as I did, I in fact I know the answer: no

I come home exhausted and injured, and I have to read this shit.

The facts: While trying to map the rebellion in Syria (I had already visited the region of Zabadani, Homs, in Tal-Biset, where I had met the rebel military command, and to Rastan Hama), I was arrested May 17 by the Syrian intelligence services, before the rebel city of Tal-Calah, on the border with northern Lebanon, where I was also trying to get into Qouseir before going to Idlib.

After several hours of a dungeon, I was transferred to the center of the intelligence services of Homs, where I was “severely questioned” the Syrian secret services were convinced that I was spying on behalf of the French government and attending the logistics and coordination of the Free Syrian Army. I was then transferred to the center of the intelligence services of Palestine Branch in Damascus (which was the subject of a bomb attack a few days earlier). I was questioned again, but more politely this time.

When the Syrian authorities have understood that I was presenting no danger to them, I was thrown into a basement, to be expelled. With some accomplices, I was able to get a message out, the Belgian Foreign Ministry was notified and immediately made every effort to locate me and get me out of the country and I thank him for his extraordinary effectiveness .

I just got home, in Brussels. The six days of hell I experienced the night during which I was questioned, Homs, and, especially, during which I saw my fellow prisoners being tortured, so much more violently than I have been myself, were moments of intense physical and psychological suffering. Nevertheless, I thank God for bringing me into this place of pain, so now I can testify on behalf of all those I left behind me.

So far, about Syria, I have always defended the Westphalian principles of law and of national sovereignty and noninterference. But, faced with the horror that I discovered and for each of these men I’ve seen horribly mutilated by barbarians in the service of a dictatorship which I never imagined the daring and the degree of ferocity, I agree with them, I call for military intervention in Syria, which can reverse the abomination of the Baathist regime, even if the country is sinking into civil war if this difficult passage is necessary, it must be attempted, so to put an end to forty-two years of organized terror in proportions which I had no idea.

In any case, the system Assad son is not reformed and different from that of the father, contrary to how superficial analysis gave hope. Some will say that my reversal on this point the Syrian dossier shall certainly part of the trauma I experienced, but, beyond that, the fact of an objective reflection based on the reality on the ground that I have apprehended this time than before.

Fuck this bloody bastard regime! (English in original) [end]

You can imagine how his friends reacted. From once being the pinnacle of objectivity when he was stating:

I am saying that several dozens were killed in the armed conflict. But journalists are talking about reprisals by the regime. If the government attacks peaceful protesters, we can call it reprisals, but if the Syrian authorities are dealing with an army based in refugee camps in Lebanon and Turkey, financed from Qatar, and trained by the French army – it’s not repression. The regime is defending its territory from foreign aggression!

Much quoted in the alternative media, but not this blurb from the same interview:

Israel is also very concerned now. Should the Syrian regime collapse, the country could sink into chaos, and then Israel will have significant problems with it, whereas now, despite the prevailing anti-Israeli rhetoric in Damascus, Israel is in fact quite comfortable with the current regime. In reality, they are getting along pretty well.

An interesting figure, and now, a real head-scratcher for his followers. Was he lying then? Is he lying now? Some are accusing him of faking the story, including here where he was previously their darling for his opinions that were considered as expert, as they whitewashed most of what almost all Syrians know to be the truth of the crimes, repression and censure of thought:

He has been detained for two and a half days at the prison in Damascus, but not six, and never in the prison of Homs, nor at the seat of intelligence. It was therefore not able to attend to the horrific scenes he describes. He requested consular assistance, which he was immediately granted. Considered a pathological liar and not a spy, he was immediately expelled. Without comment on what Mr. Piccinin, the Belgian Ministry of Foreign Affairs confirmed the excellent cooperation from the Syrian authorities to resolve this deplorable affaire.

And the Italian media after our tips (thanks to Wassy, Tahar, Suzi, Angelo, Eleonora who had worked to get this story out), has picked up the story, which for the first time is appearing in English in this translation:

Belgian historian mistaken for a spy recounts the inferno of the prison cells of the Syrian regime

He wanted to see for himself the situation in Syria, but was suspected of being an agent for the French Secret Services. Pierre Piccinin was imprisoned and beaten. His is the eyewitness account of the terror established by Bashar Assad.

BRUXELLES – He wanted to see with his own eyes what takes place in Syria and assess how the regime was operating. But a week in a Syrian prison cell was all it took for him to understand that what the Syrians say about Bashar Assad is not fruit of their imagination.

Pierre Piccinin is one of those intellectuals who wants to experience the reality first hand, and like Jonathan Little, he travelled into the hell of Syria, like the author of Benevole, a travel diary that is shocking in its description of the repression. Belgian, History professor at the European School of Bruxelles, Piccinin was able to obtain a visa thanks to which he entered the country from Lebanon last 15 May. In Damascus, he rented a car, which he used to go to Homs, stronghold of the rebels and therefore also prime objective of the military machine of the regime. From there he went to Talbisseh, under the control of the armed opposition. “They are well organised,” he told the newspaper La Libre Belgique “much more than you can imagine”.

The moral point of no return was reached by Piccinin when he reached Tall Kalakh on 17 May, at the Lebanese border: “I wanted to go to the city in a legal way, I asked for authorisation at the checkpoint, they let me go through. Two hours later, wandering through the city I was met by men from the secret services: I could only go around in their car, they told me. Once I boarded, they handcuffed me and brought me to a building.” Piccinin was identified by them as a member of the French secret services.

The Belgian intellectual had then seen hell: his personal effects taken from him, he was transferred to Homs: interrogated, he saw being passed before his eyes prisoners who were now cadavers. In the office where he was interrogated he noted “needles, blood, fingernails everywhere”.

The agents beat him. Then they transferred him to Damascus, during the day there was a terror attack that caused 55 deaths. In the cells of the security headquarters, at Qazzaz, “people wailed and screamed all night long”. The day after, in the prison of Bab al Musalla, thanks to the “wonderful” solidarity of the prisoners, he managed to get enough money to bribe a guard into letting him use a mobile phone. Thus Piccinin called a friend, who had alerted Belgian diplomatic authorities. On 22 May the historian was released from prison. Fascinated by the Arab world, his view on Syria today is this: “Nothing will change there if there is no intervention. A regime of terror is governing”.


Homs per gli Alawiti, “Il Sogno di Homs”

The Syrian Sun

SCRITTO DA: Helen Dayem, Tradotto da Mary Rizzo

Homs, o Hims come è anche chiamata, è la terza città della Siria per grandezza ed è posizionata strategicamente nella fertile Vallata del Fiume Orontes  (Naher al-Aassi, – Assi significa Ribelle, siccome il fiume scorre verso il nord) della Siria centrale, tra Damasco (162 km più a sud) ed Aleppo (193 km più al nord). E’ molto vicina alla costa (Tartous, 96 km più al ovest) e geograficamente si trova nel centro della Siria.

E’ il posto ideale per una capitale per la setta Alawita!

Da quasi vent’anni ormai, Homs è diventata il luogo dove gli Alawiti emigrano a migliaia. Provengono dai loro paesini nelle montagne che circondano la città e costruiscono abusivamente aree gigantesche per le loro comunità. Quando dico “abusivamente”, intendo che  gran parte delle case, dei negozi e persino delle scuole nelle loro aree sono stati costruite senza permessi; non erano necessari naturalmente, perché il loro leader Bashar lascia fare loro ciò che vogliono, mentre il resto della comunità di Homs, composta per il 70%  circa da Musulmani sunniti e per il 10% circa da Cristiani, deve fare le domande per ottenere i permessi, persino per potere dipingere e decorare le proprie case all’interno, e ciò converranno tutti che ha dell’ incredibile!

Il problema più grande a Homs nella fattispecie è che la comunità Alawita non ha mai vissuto insieme ai Musulmani e Cristiani, preferendo restare unita nelle proprie zone, che però si spandevano a macchia d’olio lungo la via principale per  Damasco.

L’anno scorso, in occasione della mia ultima visita nella loro area, ero rimasta sbalordita da come si  fosse ingrandita l’area, con belle strade nuove di zecca, nuove strutture sportive, nuove aree commerciali: era cresciuta e si era sviluppata oltre ogni ragionevole aspettativa!

Naturalmente, erano venuti in città per lavorare, la maggior parte di loro ottenendo impieghi statali, spesso ricoprendo mansioni mai realmente svolte, addirittura senza presenziare nei posti di lavoro, ma arrivando prontamente in città ogni fine mese per riscuotere gli stipendi governativi, attendendo in file che potevano contare varie centinaia di persone fuori all’ufficio del governo.  Li vedevo ogni mese e nel mentre mi chiedevo da dove provenisse tutta questa gente.

Sì, i lavori statali erano riservati principalmente agli Alawiti, specialmente impieghi di alto livello, a prescindere dalla meritocrazia e, nei vent’anni in cui ho vissuto a Homs, ho realizzato che tenevano la città in pugno, in un pugno sempre più stretto: mentre le loro tasche si riempivano di tangenti, noi eravamo costretti a pagare per potere accedere ad un qualsiasi servizio e per svolgere qualsiasi attività, persino per fare le cose di tutti i giorni.

Anche la polizia a Homs, composta per lo più di Alawiti, poteva fermare la tua macchina, o il pulmino della scuola, senza motivo, solo per poter intascare dei soldi e noi …. pagavamo! Era più semplice che aspettare in fila per ore interminabili, ed essere trattati come cittadini di serie B per essere poi comunque costretti a pagare qualcosa di non dovuto!

Stavano cominciando a strangolare la popolazione con la loro corruzione, e stava diventando quasi impossibile per i giovani trovare un lavoro che meritavano.  Dopo aver compiuti gli studi universitari, diventava per loro chiaro che i posti migliori erano riservati ad altri.

I Professori universitari accettavano bustarelle dagli studenti affinché potessero superare gli esami. Non paghi? Allora, non superi l’esame! Il meccanismo era facile e trasparente, e so con assoluta certezza che gli studenti Alawiti durante gli esami erano informati preventivamente delle domande a cui sarebbero stati sottoposti negli esami. Era chiaro anche dal modo in cui loro finivano sempre gli esami a tempo di record, senza aver studiato neppure la notte precedente, e spesso erano proprio loro stessi che ridevano di questa situazione.

Homs sarebbe appartenuta a loro! Questo abbiamo capito quando il Sindaco, Eyad Ghazal, ideò un nuovo progetto: “Il Sogno di Homs”. E che sogno! Le proprietà che appartenevano ai Musulmani e ai Cristiani della Città Vecchia, sarebbe stata acquistata – coattamente – dal governo, e ad un prezzo che era sola una frazione del valore reale, e sarebbero state sostituite dei parcheggi. Sì, le vite delle persone sarebbero state sconvolte, e persino la zona agricola tra Homs e il quartiere Waar era compresa nel piano di esproprio, destinata a diventare giardini pubblici, e naturalmente, a meno del 10% del loro valore sul mercato immobiliare. La gente di Homs cominciava a preoccuparsi e a ragione. Il piano era evidente: la città doveva essere svenduta alla setta Alawita, dopodiché loro si sarebbero insediati lì!

Il piano era già in atto da diversi anni precedenti. Come mi era parso di notare con i miei professori nella mia scuola, molti di quali erano Alawiti, sui loro documenti d’identità  era scritto Homs, Khaldiyie o Bayada, mentre in realtà provenivano da Latakia o Tartous! Esiste una regola di ferro nella Siria: i documenti d’identità DEVONO riportare il luogo d’origine della famiglia, e dunque, il loro piano era già in azione, erano già Homsi, anche se né loro né i loro antenati erano nati lì. Il Sindaco era pronto a distruggere il patrimonio storico della Città Vecchia semplicemente per far sì che la sua gente potesse emigrare lì. Ma il popolo di Homs aveva capito questo trucco sporco e nelle prime manifestazioni aveva chiesto la rimozione del Sindaco e del suo terribile “Sogno”.

Vecchio Homs, destrutto per il Sogno Alawiti

La risposta dell’amministrazione locale furono pallottole vere, come io stessa avevo visto, e quella prima manifestazione aveva peggiorato rapidamente la situazione.

Sconvolti ed indignati dagli attacchi diretti e violenti contro di loro da parte delle forze del governo, gli abitanti di Homs cominciavano a chiedere la caduta del regime e non solo dell’amministrazione locale, e venivano strappate dai muri le foto del Presidente dall’ “Officer’s Club” sulla via Hama in Homs.

Homs aveva messo la parola “fine” al sogno del Sindaco, al sogno del Presidente. E Homs continua a lottare oggi, per fermare il progetto del governo di compiere il loro sogno folle: quello della distruzione della Vecchia Homs e la sua trasformazione in Capitale degli Alawiti. Ora, più del 53% della Città di Homs è stato distrutto, il 70% della comunità Musulmana e Cristiana è stata sfollata. Si potrebbe considerare questo come “Pulizia Etnica”? Assolutamente sì. Non posso pensare a nessun altro modo per descriverlo, ed il silenzio del mondo permette a Bashar di proseguire nell’attuazione del suo sogno Homs: Capitale Alawita della Siria!

Helen Dayem è un’attivista siriana da Homs e madre del coraggioso Danny Abdul Dayem. Tutte le opinioni espresse nell’ articolo sono quelle dell’autore.

Editorial staff of ilmediterraneo  Translated by Mary Rizzo

ROME – The Syrian regime has no intention of enacting the United Nations and Arab League plan. It is instead adopting a strategy of “buying time”. Having been advised by its inner circle, the regime is clearly betting on the future potential modifications that in the end will influence the structure of the events. It goes without saying, the regime has approved the mission of the United Nations due to pressure exerted by the international community. As it stands, the time margin of three months set out by the mission is considered as being opportune to allow the international community to accept the imminent modifications as facts on the ground (while both the French and American administrations are currently preoccupied with their own elections).

At the same time, the local scene within Syria is in a restructuring phase with constant killings, arrests of revolutionary activists and the continual displacement of the civilian population, especially in Homs. A clear signal of the success of the dismantling of the uprising as carried out by the government.

Based on the following facts, it seems like the regime has approved the United Nations mission on the basis of the evaluation of the Russian position on Syria, especially after the constitution of the “Friends of Syria” that has proposed a “group to monitor the follow-up on the crisis”.


It is clear that the Russian strategy has the purpose of softening the position of the international community, limiting it to concentration exclusively on the urgent humanitarian crisis in Syria and shifting the attention away from the strategic plan. Moreover, Moscow is attempting to drag the world in a controversial discussion regarding the presence of organised terrorism in Syria lead by “armed gangs”.

With the Russian strategy and the dilated time frame of the Annan “peace plan” the Syrian regime could try to stop the uprising with more solid arrests and more killings. It is furthermore trying to limit the defections within the armed forces, which are very dangerous for a regime that no longer can predict the defections and the possible consequences. Based on the above elements, it is correct to say that the regime is not willing to enact the Kofi Annan initiative regarding a pacific transfer of power. The Syrian government knows that the international community is considering a similar solution in Yemen, while the Syrian protesters are determined to continue in their struggle without compromising.

It is indeed impossible for the Syrian population, after the massacres and the destruction of the cities, to accept any agreement or conciliation. The choices of the regime are thus narrowing. It has to drastically silence the revolution and it needs to find the way to rebuild the regime in the international and regional scene, or it will push the country towards a civil war where the author remains unpunished, leaving all the parties to bear responsibility.