This is the first part of an interview with a Bulgarian of Syrian origin about the conflict in Syria.
The original material is from the Bulgarian website PodMosta(Under the Brigde) - http://podmosta.bg/
author: Dimitar Panayotov
Two years ago I made an interview with the Bulgarian citizen of Syrian origin Daher Daher – a famous book-blogger, scientist and a man with huge knowledge on the Middle East, especially Syria, where a big part of his family lives. That interview was read by 100 000 people. The number came as a big surprise, but I think this success came due to the interview’s honesty and personal point of view. Short, clear and on point – it explained simple and basic questions in an uncomplicated and comprehensive way. It gave context and answers to fundamental things, that we needed to know for understanding the essence of the problem. It had the bombastic headline “The truth about the conflict in Syria” not because it claimed absolute objectivity, truthfulness and one-sidedness, but because that’s the name of one of Daher’s blogs - https://trueaboutsyria.wordpress.com. Few days ago the interview again started circling the Internet. That’s great, but both me and Daher think that today there are completely new factors, many things have happened and a lot of time has passed since then. That’s why, because of your big interest and your wish to learn more, we conducted the second part of our interview. Once again –it’s honest and clarifies supposedly basic questions, the answers to which, never the less, you will hardly find anywhere else.
Hello again, Daher. Two years ago we made an interview about the conflict in Syria at that time. What has changed in the country since then?
You know a lot of my colleagues have been talking to me, also friends, relatives, Syrians living in Bulgaria, all of them tell me: “Hey I read that interview with you and I agree with the things you say in it”. I was wandering what interview they were talking about and it turned out to be the one you took 2 years ago. In the midst of the refugee crisis it emerged again and it was being shared through the web, and I think mostly Syrians in Bulgaria were posting it on Facebook. Nobody noticed that it was taken 2 years ago. Everybody thought it was new. This not only shows that nothing has changed since then, but it also means that the fog the media was intentionally spreading over Syria is finally dispersing. The correlation is the same. The Syrian opposition in Bulgaria at that time was still nagging how in Syria there were no terrorist and Islamists and a little bit later it was awkwardly admitting “alright, there are, but they’re just a few and the Free Syrian Army is fighting them”. Later they themselves were wondering what to invent when the facts started coming out. Even a spokesman from the Pentagon said that merely 1% of the territory was controlled by the “moderate” rebels and the rest was under the control of ISIS and such. I always wanted to take out a map of Syria and have some Mr. Know It All from the opposition answer the following question: “Show me one Christian town or village that survived in the areas where the Free army or the Islamists (notice how these two always go together) took control. They will not give you an honest answer, so I will: ZERO – over 40 Christian settlements were destroyed. I don’t even want to mention Kurds, Druzes, Allevis and others. That’s it about the tolerance of the “rebels”. Whoever thinks I’m talking nonsense I care to place a wager with them. This concerns mainly the large media, American, French and German embassies and their ambassadors. Let’s gather a team that will go to Syria and stream online, directly, without any censorship all the action, and let’s go around all the Christian towns (that are left) and ask the people there what is really happening, one by one if we must. Let’s see who supplies them with food, water and electricity and who’s destroying their churches, murders, rapes and pillages. Let’s see if any of these institutions have the guts to take this wager, to put their property on the line and organize something like this. What are they afraid of? The truth?
What are people really running from?
What I notice is that a big part of the Syrian refugees come from areas that are ruled by the rebels, and a smaller part – from the areas where state still has control. It’s not a coincidence that most of the refugees are from North and East Syria, from towns like Alepo, Idleb, Kobane, Der Ezor. The people are running mainly from the Islamists, from the mercenaries that were brought into Syria.
What do you think is the solution to this crisis and is it possible at all?
Syria is more than complicated. It’s more likely that there is not an answer. Until they stop arming the so called “rebels” and importing jihadists, the situation will not get better. Would somebody for example sanction Qatar? No. Then there is no away that the situation would improve.
Some people are talking about the coming of the refugees as a conspiracy for an islamisation of Europe, for spreading chaos and so forth. Do the citizens of the EU have a reason to be afraid?
Fears are completely understandable. Let’s not delude ourselves. It’s not that easy, and you also shouldn’t act so lightly and let in all kinds of refugees without control. The people that go on television and like brainless models that won Miss World, blink sweetly and claim that they want to save the world and bring peace – these are people with political ambitions. They want to take advantage and gather moral points in the face of society, on which they will later build their lousy carrier.
I give as an example the refugee camp next to the NBU (New Bulgarian University in Sofia). I had a friend there from my father’s town – Maharde, later we managed to find him a place in Ruse (a town in north Bulgaria). The guy was in the camp in Sofia for about a month and the conditions there are terrible. Anyway, he told me that from 700 refugees only 10-15 were actually Syrian. But why do all the others present themselves to be Syrian. Why is the media constantly instilling that those are Syrians, when only a bunch of them really are. A Syrian that spent almost his entire life in Syria would right away recognize through somebody’s accent from which area that person comes from or if he’s Syrian at all.
That ratio is not different in Europe. All kinds of people come in, introduce themselves to be Syrian – but they’re not. Already we have pictures of famous butchers and terrorists coming out. Like Ahmad Abd Alkarim – leader of Ahrar Al-Forat, a group famous for it’s killing and slaughtering, mainly of Christians. He is at the moment a refugee in Germany and is posting pictures of himself there. The same goes for Ibrahim Al-Abd from Al-Nusra, who is in Denmark. Their pictures have gone allover Facebook. Those are people trained to kill. Let’s not delude are selves with some heartbreaking photos and such. People’s fears are justified.
Another question comes up to the Europeans. How many are the refugee camps in the richest Arab countries like Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Kuwait, Bahrein and UAE? ZERO! The countries that are together financing the same radical groups, from which the people are running in panic, in the most hypocritical way accuse Europe of being racist!
We must also emphasize on another thing. The attack on Charlie Hebbdo was very indicative. Not because of the act itself, but because of the ones who did it. Those were people born and raised in France – they are second or third generation French citizens. The parents of those boys are not radical at all. That kind of problem could emerge among the refugees now. Yes, the parents may be grateful to the welcoming country. But without knowing the language, without being educated, they will automatically and naturally go to the lower part of society and the working class, they will isolate themselves in ghettoes and eventually their kids that would have grown up in a free environment will rebel against their social status, they will find a relief in being different, in religion, and countries like the already mentioned pack from the Persian Gulf are waiting exactly for that. Far right movements will also appear, which will further escalate the tension and both sides will continue to grow.
Never the less, there are a lot of people who just don’t deserve their fate. There are families that lost everything they had achieved and are trying to survive, to live through it all. Honorable, good people, in great distress. I’m sure they will integrate. I know many like that. The lay Syrian people would easily integrate, most of them have jobs and are educated. The Christians would instantly integrate. Even more – they will be forever grateful. The Kurds are not very religious. There is a large mass of worldly Sunnis, Alevi and Druze. They don’t deserve this. Those who still think that the women have to wear veils and burkas and want sharia – to them I can point to Saudi Arabia. They should go there. This kind of thinking is not compatible to European standards. They have to understand that this is the exact kind of thinking that got them running from their own country in the first place.
If the war is over will these refugees go back to their home countries?
Some of them yes, others – no. In this situation most likely no. Even if the war is over, the problems will not have been solved. A torn down country will have to recover for a long time. But I want to say that the Syrians are really attached to their country. A lot of people work abroad, but during their vacations they always comeback.
You have a lot of friends and relatives from Syria – how do you think they would react if the roles were switched and if Syria was flooded with refugees from Europe.
Syria took the Circassian refugees in 1839, Syria gave shelter to a lot of Armenians, Greeks and Sirianees, from the ottoman genocide in 1915. The Syrians took Palestinian refugees in 1948 and 1967. They welcomed Kuwaiti refugees in 1990, the Lebanese refugees in 1996 and 2006, we welcomed also 2 million – note this – 2 million Iraqi refugees, and thus saved half a million Iraqi Christians from certain death. Syria was an example of tolerance. It was the only worldly Arab country. The Christina holidays happened along with the Muslim ones. It is for that reason almost half of the population in Syria is composed of religious minorities (Christian Arabs, sirians/aramenians, Armenians, Druze, Alevi. Circassian, Turkmens, Bedouin, Ismaili, Kurds, Jazidi, etc. ) Look what they turned the country into.
People should not forget this. Syrians don’t deserve this. That’s why it makes my heart ache to see crowds from Africa and Asia present themselves to be Syrian and then get aid at the expense of the real Syrians. Yeah, maybe they’re also having a hard time .
And what are the positive things (if there are any) from all this refugee crisis – can the refugees be successfully integrated in the western world and instead of driving it backwards – do the opposite and stimulate the economy.
Something positive can happen only if the Arab countries learn their lesson and really change their mindset. Because for a long time these countries have been ruled in the wrong way. Where are the achievements in science and technology? The way of thinking was wrong. Arab culture had its peek with the Abisines, when Bagdad was a world cultural and science center, everything was invested in research, all the available knowledge was gathered. The Arabs were at the top. And today there is nothing or as an Arabian comedian used to joke - after the zero the Arabs invented a bunch of complete zeros. There was a huge growth of the population at a very low level of education. It’s natural for unemployment and social tension to appear and for all this to find release in religious, ethnic and political clashes. The fact that people are running to the European countries and not to the rich Arab kingdoms, should show the Arabs that democracy, worldly leadership, investments in culture and science and innovation is the right direction. And not enforcing religious fascism and political control.
What do you think is the reason for the huge skepticism, sometimes even hate of the ordinary citizens towards the refugees? If you could make statement and appeal to all Bulgarians, what would be your message?
The reason is political demagogy and thoughts of money. Sometime before TV channels were spreading the information that every refugee costs the state 1100 leva (550 euro) a month. It’s understandable for a pensioner, who lives like a hobo with a 150 lv. (75 euro) pension, to wave his finger and be angry.
But how the hell 1100 lv? That means if we have a 4 member family – they would get 4400 lv. They could rent an apartment in a 5 star hotel on the sea and live like bohemians. The reality is that refugees get (at least that’s what it know) 60 leva (30 euro) a month and they live in a dump along with the cockroaches. From this mismatch of real and virtual info we can make only one conclusion. Someone is ether taking the rest of the money into their own pocket, or is trying to redraw attention to some other victim. The politicians are the ones who would claim for themselves all the European welfare, they’re the ones who would win from all the escalation of tension.
You know, actually not a single refugee wants to stay in Bulgaria even a month longer, our country is seen as an intermediate station on the way to Europe, mostly to well settled countries like Sweden, Germany and Denmark.
I’m not a politician to call on the people for anything. Let them decide for themselves who they should help or – if they should help anybody at all after all that’s been said. Different people – different perception of the world. I think people in general have enough problems of their own to occupy themselves with Syria.
I would appeal to BNT (Bulgarian National Television) and the ambassador to take the wager that I mentioned in the beginning of the interview, but what’s the point? That’s why the media was created in the first place – to control and commercialize information, and the politicians – to present their own economic interests as interests for the common good. I would appeal to the weapon manufacturers not to trade with Saudi Arabia, because all the guns would go to the radicals in Syria and they are killing innocent people. A single bullet is worth a few cents but it can take a life. But what’s the difference anyway– the weapon factories are built to sell death.
Expect the second part, where I and Daher talk about the present situation in Syria, the role of the World superpowers, ISIS, the interests of the Arab Kingdoms and others!(...more)