I first entered Syria in August of 1969 as an embedded combat-journalist w/Yasser Arafat’s Al Fat’h, the Palestinian National Liberation Movement. Thru 1969, ’70 and ’71, I spent considerable time in Syria covering their military, Palestinian refugee centers, training camps, the Damascus nightclub scene, and the conflict/war fronts in Lebanon, Jordan and Israel. (Yeah, journalists also party down…)
What few Americans realize is how modern and secular Syria was. A former colony of the French, the native populations successfully resisted Vichy (pro-fascist) French rule at the conclusion of WW-II. (One of their first allies in 1946 was the Soviet Union, and Russia remains so today.)
The Assads came to power in 1970, so I witnessed the transition from a coup-ridden state (at one point embedded with the Syrian military) to a stable federation of disparate peoples and tribes throughout that vast region. The closest parallel I find to Assad is Marshall Tito of “Yugoslavia,” another disparate federation that when broken, dissolved into chaotic and murderous conflict. (This, is unfortunately what the Corp-US strategy–regime change thru constant conflict–has largely adopted over the past 15+yrs.)
When I ran across the following message from Hawaii state rep, Tulsi Gabbard, in my e-mail box, I was touched by this letter from a former citizen of Syria, and Tulsi Gabbard’s foresight and bravery in traveling herself to Syria to witness the situation there first hand. I will be following closely that journey from here on in.
Allow me to let the aunt of this little boy speak for herself…
Letter to Tulsi Gabbard …
I am the aunt of Alan Kurdi, the Syrian boy who tragically drowned September 2, 2015. The devastating image of my 2-year old nephew’s lifeless body, lying face-down on the beach in Turkey, was all over the news across the world.
Two weeks ago, I got home from work [in Canada] and my husband showed me a video of Tulsi Gabbard talking about her visit to my home country of Syria. The things she was saying about the US policy of regime change and how the West and the Gulf countries are funding the rebel groups who wind up with the terrorists are true. I was shocked because it’s something no other U.S. politician has the courage to say.
Regime change policy has destroyed my country and forced my people to flee. Tulsi’s message was exactly what I have been trying to say for years, but no one wants to listen.
I live in Canada now, but I was born and raised in Damascus, Syria. Growing up, our country was peaceful, beautiful and safe. Our neighbors were Christian, Muslim, Sunni, Shia; all kinds of religion and color. We all lived together and respected each other. Syria is a secular country. In 2011, the war started in Syria. Most of my family was still in Damascus. I was always in close contact with them and talked to them on the phone on a daily basis.
For a year, I heard many tragic stories of people, friends, and neighbors who I grew up with having died in this war. Ultimately, my family had to flee to Turkey. I did what everyone would do for their own family to help, I sent them money and I listened to their struggles to survive as refugees in Turkey.
In 2014, I went to Turkey to visit my family and tried to help them. What I saw and experienced is not what we all saw in the news or we heard in the radio. It was worse than I could ever have imagined. I saw people in the streets without homes, without hope. Children were hungry, begging for a piece of bread. I heard many heartbreaking stories from other refugees who were suffering so much and many who had lost loved ones in the war. After I returned to Canada, I decided I wanted to bring my family here as refugees, but I couldn’t get them approved to come in. Eventually, my brother Abdullah and his wife Rehana, like thousands of Syrians, decided they had to take the risk and trust a smuggler they thought would bring them to freedom, safety, and hope.
In September 2, 2015, I heard the tragic news that my sister-in-law Rehana and her two sons drowned crossing from Turkey to Greece. The image of my two year old nephew Alan Kurdi lying face down on a Turkish beach was all over the media across the world. It was the wake up call to the world. Enough suffering. Enough killing. And most importantly, it was my wake up call.
Since that time, I decided to speak up on behalf of all the Syrian refugees and be their voice, to call upon other countries to open their hearts and doors to my people, and also, to end the regime change war that’s causing more people to flee. I do not support one side or the other in the Syrian conflict. But I’m very frustrated by the Western media’s one-sided coverage of this war.
The U.S., the West, and the Gulf countries are funding rebels associated with al-Qaeda and ISIS, giving them weapons to empower them to keep fighting and destroy and divide Syria. I know first-hand. I’ve been trying to tell the world about what is happening in Syria, but the media doesn’t want people to hear the truth.
That’s why I got in touch with Tulsi to tell her that I support her message to stop arming terrorists, to stop supporting regime change. Like me, many Syrians are encouraged that Tulsi met with President Bashar Assad in Syria. Tulsi recognizes that we need to talk to him because a political solution is the only way to restore peace in Syria.
If the West keeps funding the rebels, we will see more people flee, more bloodshed, and more suffering. My people have suffered for at least six years.This is not about supporting Bashar. This is about ending the war in Syria.
My country is being destroyed, my people are displaced and nobody wants them. Regime change war is going to kill more people and cause more people to flee. That’s all I can say.
Thank you Tulsi, and thank you everyone for your action and for reading my message. Please help support those who have been forced to flee their homes and please understand what this regime change policy is doing to the people in my country.
Thank you, Tima Kurdi
(Tulsi Gabbard has served as an elected official since she was 21-yrs-old in 2002. Born in Leloaloa, American Samoa (1981), she moved to Hawaii at 2-yrs-old. She is Hindu. She served two deployments to Iraq as an enlisted medical specialist and later as an officer platoon leader of a Military Police unit w/the Hawaii Army National Guard. Today she’s a major and still in reserve military service.
(From 2012 to the present, she has been an elected Representative in Congress. Becoming vice-chair on the Democratic National Committee, she resigned that post in February 2016 in order to endorse Senator Bernie Sanders for President.
(Referring to Debbie Wasserman Schultz and Hillary Clinton, Tulsi stated in a telephone interview with the NY Times , “It’s very dangerous when we have people in positions of leadership who use their power to try to quiet those who disagree with them. When I signed up to be vice-chair of the DNC, no one told me I would be relinquishing my freedom of speech and checking it at the door.”)
Dr. Publico (Nick Medvecky, PsyD), February 2017.