Last week, I was sent a 260-page pdf file for an upcoming auction in Paris. It was filled with exquisite 16th-century Isfahan rugs, 18th-century original French art pieces, magnificent chandeliers with a starting bid of 50,000 euros, a gilded chest of drawers, and more than 500 opulent pieces for sale starting today, Thursday, January 12th. I was surprised to hear my contact inform me that it all once belonged to the former Syrian Regime Vice-President-in-Exile Rifaat Al-Assad. This news led me down a rabbit hole of illicit wealth and luxurious art owned by the robber barons of Syria.Read more
Op-Ed by SAC's Policy and Advocacy Officer, Shlomo Bolts and Suhayla Sibaai - 08/09/17
President Trump’s Plan for a Syrian ceasefire is in trouble.
Last month, after agreeing with Russia on a ceasefire plan for southwest Syria, Trump was optimistic: “We are working on a second ceasefire in a very rough part of Syria...if we get that and a few more, all of the sudden you are going to have no bullets being fired in Syria.” Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad had other plans.Read more
Op-Ed by SAC's Director of Government Relations and Senior Political Adviser, Mohammed Alaa Ghanem - 08/10/17
President Trump is making a dangerous mistake if he is ending a CIA program to arm moderate Syrian rebels, as was asserted by the Washington Post last month. His decision will mostly serve to empower Al Qaeda and Iran. The president should reconsider.
Op-Ed by SAC's Policy and Advocacy Officer, Shlomo Bolts - 07/25/17
The Jerusalem Post
Iran could soon attain a land bridge to the Mediterranean Sea for the first time in 1,400 years. The Sassanid Empire, with its capital in southern Iran, had direct access to the sea in the early 600s. No Iran-based government has had access since then.
But an Iranian route to the sea might reappear in the coming months, presenting Israel with its greatest strategic threat since the Yom Kippur War.
Iranian proxy militias have multiplied in Syria since Hezbollah first intervened to help the Assad regime defeat a popular uprising in 2013.
These militias include the Iraqi Nujaba Movement, whose leadership pledged allegiance to Iran’s supreme leader; the Afgani Fatimiyoun and Pakistani Zaynebiyoun, both under direct Iranian Revolutionary Guards command; and numerous militias from the Iraqi Popular Mobilization Forces.Read more
Op-Ed by SAC's Director of Government Relations and a Senior Political Adviser, Mohammed Ghanem - 07/02/17
The Washington Examiner
President Trump ordered a Tomahawk missile barrage against Bashar Assad's forces in retaliation for the Syrian nerve gas massacre of April 2017. The White House threatened to repeat this action just last week based on intelligence of an imminent chemical attack. Trump's attacks against Assad have left in smoldering ruins years of Obama administration talking points about action against Assad triggering "World War III."
Op-Ed by SAC'S Policy and Advocacy Officer, Shlomo Bolts - 06/12/17
For the first time since the Islamic Revolution of 1979, Iran is on the verge of acquiring a direct land link to the Mediterranean Sea and southern Lebanon. Iranian proxies and Assad regime forces advanced south in the Syrian desert on Friday to reach the Syrian-Iraqi border, cutting off Free Syrian Army rebels who had hoped to traverse that same territory to fight ISIS in the east.Read more
Last week, during a markup of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, Congressman Dana Rohrabacher asserted that the Assad regime was “the protector of the Christians” in Syria.
As Syrian Christians who grew up in Syria, we would beg to differ. Hundreds of innocent Christians seeking freedom have been tortured to death in Assad’s jails or shot to death by his brutal thugs – including the activist Bassel Shehadeh, who was killed at a protest, then killed in spirit because Assad forces prevented his friends from going to church to pray for his soul. Human rights lawyer Khalil Maatouk has been detained in Assad’s jails in Damascus for over four years for the “crime” of defending detainees in Assad’s jails.
Latest op-ed by SAC's Director of Government Relations, Mohammed Ghanem-
The Washington Examiner
In 2007, when I was a professor at Damascus University, one of my closest friends was a janitor at a nearby school. This man, whom I will call Azad, was quite intelligent and had ambitious dreams for himself and his family. But we both knew that all doors were closed to him save for menial jobs such as janitor, waiter, or shoe-shiner for a simple reason: he was Kurdish.
Latest op-ed by our Director of Government Relations Mohammed Ghanem-
"Greetings gentler than the zephyr of Barada; unstinting tears for you, O Damascus!"
These words were penned by Ahmed Shawqi, the famed Egyptian poet-laureate, after French Mandate authorities bombed Syria's capital Damascus in 1925. Shawqi recalled the calmness of the Barada spring northwest of Damascus, especially in contrast to the violence then roiling the capital as France cracked down on the Syrian independence movement. His words were later set to haunting melody by the famed singer-songwriter Mohammed Abdul Wahab. Today, over 90 years later, his words again ring true.
Wadi Barada was once an area known for summer picnics, cool breezes and popular cafes. As a born Damascene, I went there regularly during the summer to attain relief from the scorching heat.
But last week, as the bombs started falling, Wadi Barada turned into hell on earth leading many to believe that we may be witnessing the worst environmental disaster of entire the Syrian war. What spawned this disaster? And what should be done to stop it? Read my latest op-ed to find out.
سَلامٌ مِن صَبا بَرَدى أَرَقُّ ......... وَدَمعٌ لا يُكَفكَفُ يا دِمَشقُ
تلك الكلماتُ التي يحفظها الدّمشقيّون كانتِ التّحيةَ التي أرسلها أمير الشّعراء أحمد شوقيّ لأهل الشّام إبّان "نكبة دمشق" عام 1925 لمّا صبّت مدافع الاحتلال الفرنسيّ حممها على أحياء دمشق القديمة ليومين و ليلتين كاملتين لتدكّ أعرق الأحياء و الأسواق الدّمشقيّة و تلحق بها الدّمار و الخراب. عامها انهار سقف سوق الحميديّة و احترقت أحياء كاملة و أسواق نفيسة مثل سوق مدحت باشا والبزورية.
فتّش شوقي في مخيّلته التي فاق إبداعها فلم يجد أرقّ من نسيم بردى ليرسله تحيّة يواسي بها أهل دمشق مكلومي الفؤاد، فقد كان وادي بردى و ربوة دمشق ملجأ الدّمشقيّين كلّما اشتدّ بهم القَيْظ، و أمّا نبع الفيجة الذي ما زال يتدفّق منذ آلاف السّنين فما من دمشقيّ أصابه العطش فروى من مائه الزّلال إلّا و انتشت أوصاله طرباً. حينها انطلقت أوتار عود الموسيقار محمد عبد الوهاب لتصوغ شعر شوقي أغنيةً خالدة ما ترنّمت بصوته الأجيال.
و اليوم، تسعون عاماً خلت، و ما خلت شجون دمشق و لا خلت شجون بردى.
يسلّط مقالي الأخير الضّوء في الإعلام الأميريكيّ على نكبة دمشق الجديدة و ينقل معاناة أهلنا في قرى وادي بردى للأميريكيّين مقارناً بين القَحْطِ الذي نزل بولاية كاليفورنيا و أزمة شحّ المياه الخانقة في دمشق.
و كما شوقي، جهدي هذا هو تحيّتي لأهلي في قرى وادي بردى عامّة و مدينة دمشق خاصّة، و كما شوقي أيضاً، أعتذر لأنّ البيان أعجز من أن يقوى على وصف المصائب الذي نزلت بهم، و لكنّهُ جُهْدُ المُقِلِّ،
و عَبَرَاتُ المُقَلْ وَمَعذِرَةُ اليَراعَةِ وَالقَوافي ........... جَلالُ الرُزءِ عَن وَصفٍ يَدِقُّ
محمّد علاء غانم واشنطن 6 كانون الثّاني 2017
Latest Op-Ed from SAC's Director of Government Relations, Mohammad Ghanem:
"While Donald Trump has vowed to defeat ISIS "decisively and quickly" without fighting Assad, I argue that Trump cannot fulfill his campaign promise without protecting ٍSyrian civilians. Why and what steps does Trump need to take to inflict a lasting defeat on ISIS? My op-ed in the Washington Examiner provides the answers.
This is my first editorial in the Washington Examiner, one of the publications where Trump gets his news according to a recent analysis by Buzzfeed News
Please tweet at Trump! @realDonaldTrump You promised lasting #ISIS defeat. To get there you must do these two things http://www.washingtonexaminer.com/trump-must-spea…/…/2609113 "