Dear Syria: From One Refugee to Another – Ramzy Baroud repost from Dissident Voice

Ramzy Baroud often touches a nerve for me, his writing is thoughtful and always shows connectedness to his subject.

I have wanted to post on recent issues relating to the Australian Counter Terrorism Legislation Amendment (Foreign Fighters) Bill 2014 and its capacity for thoughtless personal impact through poor policy interpretation of an overly zealous law initiated under the cloud of ‘Terror Threats’ to Australia trumpeted by our government. The implementation of Policy in Australia means the fact that you are Palestinian, will never be forgotten (even if you become a citizen of this country and carry her passport) by security forces of Customs and Border etc and the various Police entities involved in working under this Act.

Double whammy if you are a Palestinian from Syria.

Triple whammy if your birthplace as a part of the diaspora post 1948 was Libya.

Quadruple whammy if you were once an asylum seeker to these shores.

Quintuple if you had to return to Syria for any valid reason over the past few years.

I am still debating whether it is timely to post my piece or if I should do further research and wait for the right moment to be more in tune with the universe and less fucking angry. (Takfiri outsiders in Al Yarmouk killed by multiple poorly aimed gunshots at least 3 men in recent street ‘court assassinations’ for swearing as I just did- Fuck them and their proxy war trainers, suppliers, financiers and supporters)

I want to THANK you Ramzy for this piece, for the 7 reminders and warnings and particularly for the reminder that some people really do understand why you think of your mother when you hear the word ‘refugee’ and why you say, “Dear Syria”……………….

Dear Syria: From One Refugee to Another

Whenever the word ‘refugee’ is uttered, I think of my mother. When Zionist militias began their systematic onslaught and ‘cleansing’ of the Palestinian Arab population of historic Palestine in 1948, she, along with her family, ran away from the once peaceful village of Beit Daras.

Back then, Zarefah was six. Her father died in a refugee camp in a tent provided by the Quakers soon after he had been separated from his land. She collected scrap metal to survive.

My grandmother Mariam, would venture out to the ‘death zone’ that bordered the separated and newly established state of Israel from Gaza’s refugee camps to collect figs and oranges. She faced death every day. Her children were all refugees, living in shatat – the Diaspora.

My mother lived to be 42. Her life was tremendously difficult. She married a refugee, my dad, and together they brought seven refugees into this world – my brothers, my sister and myself. One died as a toddler, for there was no medicine in the refugee camp’s clinic.

No matter where we are, in time and place, we carry our refugee ID cards, our undefinable nationalities, our precious status, our parents’ burden, our ancestors’ pain.

In fact, we have a name for it. It is called waja’ – ‘aching’ – a character that unifies millions of Palestinian refugees all across the globe. With our refugee population now dominated by second, third or even fourth generation refugees, it seems that our waja’ is what we hold in common most. Our geographies may differ, our languages, our political allegiances, our cultures, but ultimately, we meet around the painful experiences that we have internalized throughout generations.

My mother used to say – ihna yalfalastinieen damitna qaribeh – tears for us Palestinians are always close by. But our readiness to shed tears is not a sign of weakness, far from it. It is because throughout the years we managed to internalize our own exile, and its many ramifications, along with the exiles of everyone else’s. The emotional burden is just too great.

We mask the unbearable aching somehow, but it is always close to the surface. If we hear a single melody by Marcel Khalifeh or Sheikh Imam, or a few verses by Mahmoud Darwish, the wound is as fresh as ever.

Most of us no longer live in tents, but we are reminded of our refugee status every single day, by the Israeli occupation, by the Gaza siege and the internally-displaced Palestinians in Israel, by the Iraq war and the displacement of the already displaced Palestinians there, by the despicable living conditions of Palestinian refugees in Lebanon, and throughout the Middle East.

But for us, Syria has been our greatest waja’ in years. Aside from the fact that most of Syria’s half a million Palestinian refugees are on the run again, living the pain of displacement and loss for the second, third, or even fourth time. Nine million Syrian refugees are now duplicating the Palestinian tragedy, charting the early course of the Palestinian Nakba, the catastrophe of 1948.

Watching the destitution of the Syrian refugees is like rewinding the past, in all of its awful details. And watching Arab states clamor to aid the refugees with ample words and little action feels as if we are living Arab betrayal all over again.

I watched my grandparents die, followed by my parents and many of my peers. All of them died refugees, carrying the same status and the same lost hope of return. The most they ever received from the ‘international community’ was a few sacks of rice and cheap cooking oil. And, of course, numerous tents.

With time our refugee status morphed from being a ‘problem’ to an integral part of our identities. Being a ‘refugee’ at this stage means insisting on the Right of Return for Palestinian refugees as enshrined in international law. That status is no longer just a mere reference to physical displacement but also to a political, even a national identity.

Political division may, at times, dominate Palestinian society, but we will always be united by the fact that we are refugees with a common cause: going home. While for the Palestinians of Yarmouk near Damascus, being a refugee is a matter of life and death – often by starvation – for the larger Palestinian collective, the meaning of the word has become more involved: it has been etched onto our skin forever.

But what can one say by way of advice to the relatively new refugees of Syria, considering that we are yet to liberate ourselves from a status that we never sought?

There can be only reminders and a few warnings:

First, may your displacement end soon. May you never live the waja’ of displacement to the extent that you embrace it as a part of your identity, and pass it on from one generation to another. May it be a kind of fleeting pain or passing nightmare, but never a pervasive every day reality.

Second, you must be prepared for the worst. My grandparents left their new blankets in their village before they fled to the refugee camps because they feared they would have been ruined by the dust of the journey. Alas, the camps became home, and the blankets were confiscated as the rest of Palestine was. Please remain hopeful, but realistic.

Third, don’t believe the ‘international community’ when they make promises. They never deliver, and when they do, it is always for ulterior motives that might bring you more harm than good. In fact, the term itself is illusory, mostly used in reference to western countries which have wronged you as they have us.

Fourth, don’t trust Arab regimes. They lie. They feel not your pain. They hear not your pleas, nor do they care. They have invested so much in destroying your countries, and so little in redeeming their sins. They speak of aid that rarely arrives and political initiatives that constitute mostly press releases. But they will take every opportunity to remind you of their virtues. In fact, your victimhood becomes a platform for their greatness. They thrive at your expense, thus will invest to further your misery.

Fifth, preserve your dignity. I know, it is never easy to maintain your pride when you sleep in a barren street covered in cardboard boxes. A mother would do whatever she can to help her children pass into safety. No matter, you must never allow the wolves awaiting you at every border to exploit your desperation. You must never allow the Emir, or his children or some rich businessman or sympathetic celebrity to use you as a photo-op. Do not ever kneel. Don’t ever kiss a hand. Don’t give anyone the satisfaction to exploit your pain.

Sixth, remain united. There is strength in unity when one is a refugee. Don’t allow political squabbles to distract you from the greater battle at hand: surviving until the day you return home, and you will.

Seventh, love Syria. Yours is an unparalleled civilization. Your history is rife with triumphs that were ultimately of your own making. Even if you must leave to distant lands, keep Syria in your hearts. This too shall pass, and Syria shall redeem its glory, once the brutes vanquish. Only the spirit of the people shall survive. It is not wishful thinking. It is history.

Dear Syrian refugee, it has been 66 years and counting since my people’s dispossession began. We are yet to return, but that is a battle for my children, and their children to fight. I hope yours ends soon. Until then, please remember the tent is just a tent, and the gusts of cold wind are but of a passing storm.

And until you return home to Syria, don’t let the refugee become who you are, as you are so much more.

Ramzy Baroud is an author and a journalist. His latest volume is The Second Palestinian Intifada: A Chronicle of a People’s Struggle (Pluto Press, London). He can be reached at ramzybaroud@hotmail.com. Read other articles by Ramzy.

Snapshot of a Young Palestinian Syrian Refugee Mother’s Life

Since January 2011 the Syrian Arab Republic, a sovereign state with 18 million people, has been under attack. Hundreds of thousands have died; three million have fled the country; half the nation’s population has been displaced..”.  James Ryan (ICC Submission Report Oct 2014 here)

It is January 22nd 2015, four years after Bashar Al Assad was berated by the West for suggesting his country was under ‘terrorist attack’ from foreign fighters intent on bringing Syria to her knees.

This is what I know of one families story. I will call the young mother ‘She’.

She’s family are Palestinians who have been in Damascus since her mother and father fled as children with their parents families when the Israelis took their country by force in 1948 Nakba. The original family home of her father 1948 is believed to now be an Israeli Military Museum or Police Station.

The families home was the Palestinian village of Lubya. The village and its surrounds are now known as South African Park. The whole village, (with history dating well before Saladin who camped nearby during the war against the Crusaders in 1187), was erased by Zionist terrorists in 1948. The park was created as part of the JNF Zionist masterplan to erase Palestine’s Arab history and was created using South African Jewish donations to the JNF (Jewish National Fund). http://www.jalili48.com/pub/xENShowGallery.aspx?sub=What_Remained_of_the_destroyed&sub2=Lubyeh&Cid=259

Many years have passed since that time, 66 to be precise……………. She has never seen Lubya, nor is She allowed to ever return there, to live or to visit.

In January 2014, 5 months pregnant with her 3rd child, She left Damascus with her husband, 5 year old son, 7 month old daughter, brother’s Syrian wife and their 7 month old daughter. The six travelled together from Damascus to Beirut by taxi, lucky to secure someone brave or hungry enough to drive them. I say ‘hungry’ because we all know there are some who will brave these things for a price. Corruption extras always come into consideration when you are desperate particularly in times of war, the rich get out before it gets too bad and Palestinians know all about paying extras because of statelessness and lack of nationhood.  

The family had lived in Al Yarmouk Palestinian area (Al Yarmouk simply translates as ‘The Camp’). She had witnessed more than She will ever tell us.

In March 2012 her younger 24 yo brother died in a military hospital in Damascus, nine days after being shot in the neck. Details of his shooting remain unclear except to say it was a direct result of political ‘tensions’ fomenting  in Syria. He was in the final month of his compulsory military duty as a Palestinian in Syria. Before returning to complete his national service he was awarded a university degree in Journalism and it looked like he had everything in life to look forward to. His funeral was one of the last shaheed street funerals in Yarmouk as they had become too dangerous due to ‘opposition’ sniper attacks. It was a loud Palestinian affair and the street was filled with his friends, stunned and enraged by his death. He was loved in his community and they sent him off in style.

She had a home near her parents house in the centre of Yarmouk. At the time, and for some time afterwards  the family home was considered to be in the safer area of the camp.

Hani Abas Quarter Damascus The image is by a Palestinian from Al Yarmouk Syria, clever and poignant and I had to save it. I sincerely apologise for not having the information to credit the artist who also does not know how much this moved me.

Hani Abas Quarter Damascus
The image is by a Palestinian from Al Yarmouk Syria, clever and poignant and I had to save it. I sincerely apologise for not having the information to credit the artist who also does not know how much this moved me.

Basically the whole street is (or should I say was as so many are now dead or scattered refugees) related to She’s family and they stuck together. Incursions from outside were happening on a regular basis around the edges of the suburb with people coming through Jordan and Dara’a. Suicide car bombings  by ‘opposition’ fighters occurred at the road entrances to Yarmouk and local groups of young men  ‘manned’ the entries and exits in and out of Yarmouk to prevent further incursions from ‘outsiders’ who could not be trusted. Sniper attacks inside the camp area became more common, people disappeared, abductions for ransoms were commonplace, people died or were thrown when dead into the street. One of her cousins was shot dead through the eye, his brothers disappeared. Mortar attacks from surrounding suburbs to the south of Yarmouk and the city of Damascus began, again by an ‘opposition’ seeking to ‘involve the Palestinians’ further in the Syrian turmoil most had tried to avoid. The geographical placement of Yarmouk as closer to Damascus centre made it a worthy target for those seeking to remove Al Assad.

One morning She took her son and baby daughter to her parents home. When She returned to her home, it had been completely flattened by a mortar. Her husband’s father was a ‘person of interest’ to the ‘opposition’ and therefore his son, her husband, was one of their targets. Abductions were ongoing and ransoms and extortion more commonplace. Perhaps they knew where her husband lived and the mortar attack was targeted perhaps it was just another to destabilise a community. On another occasion he was driving a truck for work and stopped by a ‘random road block’, the men of no noticeable affiliation demanded he leave the truck, he managed to bribe them and was allowed to continue. The situation in Yarmouk became more and more dangerous. Her husband’s job was becoming untenable as it was too risky.

The family agreed She and her husband could build another apartment on the top of their home and they began to build. Permits were a thing of the past, the war meant you did what you needed to do, bureaucracy was busy. They rented another apartment while they built but it seemed like no time passed before this too was targeted and hit by a mortar in the downstairs area. She was home at the time, survived the bombing and scrambled with her child, a four year old boy downstairs over the shambles of concrete and dead people to the street below and on to her parents home.

Al Nusra had infiltrated the camp and fighters were targeting more people. These people were initially known to be Chechens, Libyans and others with a long history of fighting across Chechnya, Afghanistan, Libya Iraq and now Syria. The source of their funds was known in the camp to be foreign money channelled through Saudi Arabia, and Qatar. This was not a Civil Syrian War.

What started as outsiders with agendas that targeted Palestinians to further their own cause was clearly a well considered military strategy reliant on foreign interests and logistical support and internal collaboration within Syria and indeed Yarmouk. It only takes a few people to ‘align’ with these outsiders to set the ball rolling.  Early mortar activities demolished bakeries the main food source, the mosque was targeted. Friday prayer was the time the men met outside the Mosque to discuss strategies and resistance to the outsiders. Nusra now held stronger power, and attacked the Mosque, Western reports said it was Assads forces but the people in the Camp knew different. The attackers were careful not to damage the building their attack was designed to scare people away and to target their opposition.

photo of street in Al Yarmouk taken 2014 apologies site and photographer unknown but street identified by reliable source.

photo of street in Al Yarmouk taken 2014 apologies site and photographer unknown but street identified by reliable source.

She moved outside the camp to a safer area of Damascus and rented a home near her Syrian sister-in-law, who’s husband (her brother) had been working in the UAE.

Her mother moved in November 2012 to safety to stay with another daughter, in Sharja, UAE. The family was particularly relieved to have their mother safe for the brief time her papers would allow, as she had maintained a vigil at her martyred son’s grave in Yarmouk. The graveyard had been selectively desecrated and had become a sniper and mortar target where mourners were being picked off one by one. An old woman visiting her dead son’s grave was a target. This old woman did not want to leave.

In May, 2013, She and her Syrian sister in law had their babies in the main hospital in Damascus on the same day, two girls.

Her father left to be with his wife in the Emirates in August 2013 with the clear intention of them returning to their Damascus home when the fighting ceased and Yarmouk was safe once more. He did not want to leave either.

With all  her immediate family in Damascus now gone, She, pregnant again with a third child left for Beirut. Their intention to go by land to Beirut then use their air travel tickets from Beirut to Bangkok via Dubai. In May that year the same border was closed to Palestinians.

Lebanon then introduced further entry restrictions on Palestinians fleeing Syria. Dalia Aranki, an aid worker with the Norwegian Refugee Council, said: “For them, the border has effectively been closed since May 2014.” see here

Few taxi drivers were prepared to undertake the route from Damascus to the Lebanese Border but they found one who would drive for a price. At the Lebanese border corruption was in full sway, people who were used to their money buying the assistance of those in positions of influence were not surprised or offended by this and they paid the extra $500 US requested for them to get through. Beirut airport had the same ‘system’ Palestinians are used to having to pay more than others and despite their tickets being legal and in their hands they were asked to pay more money, another $2500 in order to board the plane to Dubai.

In Dubai, her brother boarded the same flight to Bangkok. They were now seven, two young families. When they arrived in Bangkok there were few problems, passports and visa’s were all legitimate and despite being thoroughly grilled about their intentions were allowed to enter. That was 12 months ago exactly.

Within the first week of arriving in Bangkok in Jan 2014 both families approached the UNHCR. They were clearly refugees, (already as Palestinians they are registered with UNRWA but the lack of coordination and transparency between the two UN agencies meant they were unable to process anything at the time.) additionally, the Syrian sister-in-law and the Syrian Palestinians obviously left because of the dangers of the war and had papers verifying their status.

What I am now going to tell you makes no sense to me whatsoever- the UNHCR gave both families an appointment to register as refugees for July 2015, in 18 months time! Perhaps they were waiting for them to move with smugglers and die at sea, or be locked up in Thai or Cambodian Immigration gaols, or just starve!  

In January 2015 there are believed to be 900 Palestinian Asylum Seekers currently in Thailand. 645400 people are on UNHCR books, 506200 being declared ‘stateless’. see source here UNHCR  None are understood to have returned or left Thailand since arrival (as of July 2014). On the last trip to the Cambodian border to renew a perfectly valid Thai Visa, the families were told if they entered Cambodia they could not get back into Thailand due to their travel documents being Syrian Palestinian. They chose to remain, overstay their visa and live illegally in Thailand with no other reasonable option at their disposal.

LUCKY, they are not sitting freezing in a refugee camp on the Turkish border,

There has been a lot happen in the past year…… her son cannot start school, her third child was born without papers (millions of children across the globe are considered by authorities not to exist as they have no documentation, particularly stateless peoples), her brother has been hospitalised for stomach surgery. Her father is struggling with a recent heart attack in UAE and without finances will not get appropriate treatment. Financial support from a family member who provides this for 10 family members who are unsupported refugees has managed to keep them safe thus far but is becoming an impossible burden. These people are not terrorists, they just want ‘normal lives’, they are not ‘economic refugees’, they are ready to work, ready to contribute, ready to sleep safely.

The narrative presented in my country (Australia) on these issues is void of any reality on the ground. Even worse, nobody gives a shit or it’s all too hard. Charlie Hebdo, Freedom of Speech, Some lunatic fringe caftan in a café and now we’re a terror target?  Muslims don’t share our values. They don’t respect women. they blah blah dumb blah.

What is it with humans?

All this aside, today’s plan is insane.

She has decided to try to travel with her three children to Lebanon then into Idlib in Syria, from where she will travel north to Allepo and then onto the Turkish Border where she expects to be able to get into Turkey. Madness! She expects to then bring her husband.

I am desperately trying to understand why this insane move seems even possible to them.

  • ‘friends’ overseas in Lebanon and in Turkey have said it is possible?

  • She believes she is safer with her children with her?

  • She believes her children will be safe and will have a chance at a future in Europe?

  • She is so severely traumatised she can’t think straight?

  • She has no patience to wait for the UNHCR possibly a further 3 years after their registration interview in July, if that date is not moved back even further?

Maybe tomorrow I will wake up and some wonderful new news will greet me. Aghhhhhhhhh Other links: http://electronicintifada.net/content/lebanon-hostile-refuge-palestinians-fleeing-war-syria/14171 http://www.brighteningglance.org/uploads/3/1/2/4/3124704/address_redacted_icc_criminal_complaint_criminal_carnage_in_syria_and_the_criminal_cabal_for_perpetual_war.pdf

VIDEO: “Israeli Control of Congress”, American intelligence team [FIRST TIME IN HISTORY!] gave a military briefing at ‘Damascus Terror Conference’, to an audience of key military leaders of Lebanon, Syria, Iraq, Iran, Russia

sedwith:

Must see video: Gordon Duff speaks in Damascus on US Policy links to organised crime and Israeli control of policy, John McCain and his Da’ash IS gangs and Chuck Hegals role in preventing US bombing of Syria over ‘gas attacks’.

 

Originally posted on the real SyrianFreePress Network:

Israeli Control of Congress Cited in Terrorism Keynote

Russian and US delegations chiefs with Barakat of Syria reading findings-750

Damascus Terror Conference Gets a Taste of “AIPAC’s” Criminal Ties

By Gordon Duff, Veteran Today Senior Editor

Two days of meetings were brought to a screeching halt when Gordon Duff spoke at the Damascus conference.

Seated on his right, and speaking next, was Colonel James Hanke, US Army Special Forces (ret). On his left, the Syrian Minister of Justice Najm al Ahmad and Mike Harris. Handling the camera on this short video is Jim W. Dean.

.

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This may well have been the first time in history an American intelligence team of “non-activists” gave a military briefing to an audience of this type, including key military leaders of diverse tribal forces throughout Lebanon, Syria and Iraq, a Russian delegation and others from around the world.

VT_s Colonel Jim Hanke, former Attache to Israel VT’s Colonel Jim Hanke…

View original 245 more words

the real Syrian Free Press

Israeli Control of Congress Cited in Terrorism Keynote

Russian and US delegations chiefs with Barakat of Syria reading findings-750Russian and US delegations chiefs with Barakat of Syria reading findings

Damascus Terror Conference Gets a Taste of “AIPAC’s” Criminal Ties

By Gordon Duff, Veteran Today Senior Editor

Two days of meetings were brought to a screeching halt when Gordon Duff spoke at the Damascus conference.

Seated on his right, and speaking next, was Colonel James Hanke, US Army Special Forces (ret). On his left, the Syrian Minister of Justice Najm al Ahmad and Mike Harris. Handling the camera on this short video is Jim W. Dean.

.

.

This may well have been the first time in history an American intelligence team of “non-activists” gave a military briefing to an audience of this type, including key military leaders of diverse tribal forces throughout Lebanon, Syria and Iraq, a Russian delegation and others from around the world.

VT_s Colonel Jim Hanke, former Attache to IsraelVT’s Colonel Jim Hanke, former…

View original post 243 more words

The King, The Entrepreneur, His Wife and Their Son- A never-ending tale of intrigue

This tale is a cautionary ‘Tale of Arabian Nights’. It was pieced together from information garnered from anecdotal Arabic sources and many internet sites of differing views and opinion. No spice was added, ah, maybe a little baharat.

A long time ago, in a land with shifting, hostile borders plagued by foreign intruders, a boy was born into humble surroundings in the port city. The boy’s mother and father were Sunni Muslim and in keeping with their limited wealth and by their neighbours’ standards, they had a modest number of children. Rafiq was their first born.

He remembered his mother’s consistent explanation when asked why she did not have more children, (for his town was filled with women having babies)……
“Yes, only three, two boys and a girl” she would say and would always add, “You know, we just want the best for each of them and if we had more …they would have less.”

Rafiq was sharp witted young man, with a mind not unlike his younger sister, Bahia. Both would benefit from their parents quests for their education. Bahia, however had neither his personal drive, nor his extraordinary craft to befriend people who could most offer him opportunity. Rafiq could, and would seek succour from ‘friends’ in very high places.

As a youth, Rafiq lived a very ‘ordinary’ life but dreamed each night of bigger, better things to come. He attended the university in the capital, where he learned accounting and where he would meet his first wife. A wife would bring the prestige of manhood, essential if Rafiq was to make good in this life. What’s more he thought she was very pretty and would look perfect on his arm. Now with wife and education under his belt so to speak, he felt he had completed his first steps towards building the wealth he always imagined for his family. His would start a dynasty.

Counting other people’s money was never how Rafiq saw his future, if he had money to count it would be his own. Thus, when opportunity came to travel to a nearby Kingdom, he grabbed it with both hands and traveled with his wife and his enthusiasm to the Kingdom. In this new land, Kings and Princes bathed in money. They were Sunni too, which made his quest all that much easier, as his homeland was fraught with religious backbiting.

He was soon to find the truth was as he always suspected – money brings great opportunity to do what you want to do, sometimes it brings things Allah would never approve. But Rafiq was to find this to his advantage, the extravagances of others would fuel his fortune . He left his teaching job and moved to set up a business for himself. The Kingdom was wealthy and the time was right for him to help them build it.

Such were the extravagances of his friend the Prince. It was later said that the Prince fathered more than 100 children from more than 30 women. Did he divorce to marry others once he had four? No matter, his list of extras was longer than his list of legitimate wives. He was also to eventually rule in the Kingdom, where illegitimate children would have exactly the same rights as bastards, which most thought extremely fair, particularly the King, advantaged as he was by wealth and position.

But this was not the business of Rafiq, who was drawn like the bee to the Kingdom’s nectar of wealth– this would be where he would make his honey and be a real businessman. He would work hard, make friends with Princes, build them opulent constructions in no time at all and with perseverance he would make his own wealth in exchange.

His gift of wooing people of influence found fertile ground in this land. He saw the Prince’s and Sheik’s need to create around themselves a landscape of towers and glass that reflected their newly found wealth and to transform what was once desert. The black gold deep under the Kingdom’s sand would transform the lives of few in the Kingdom as much as the Princes.

Rafiq did not bother himself with this other than to put it to use so he could gain their trust. In the true aspect of his entrepreneurial-ship he recognised one important thing. The Kingdom’s workers came as poor from lesser lands, they worked long hours for little pay. Rafiq had no issue with this, and saw in this feudal system as something he too could benefit from. After all, a company who’s workers are cheap and readily replaceable will do well in such a place. His efficiency would build on their backs.

His own country seemed forever at war and much as he said he loved his country, he loved the thrill of making money and powerful contacts more. He remained in the Kingdom to build his business. Rafiq’s first son was born and he felt a good wind blowing in his favour. He was now an entrepreneur, thanks to his hard work, perseverance and some would say ethics. But ethics are in the eye of the beholder and the backs of poor workers supported his projects. There is also a tale in these lands that says “Never ask a man how he made his first million!”

Now it came to be, that Rafiq’s business in building brought him a number of successful projects from rich Princes close to the king. The Prince who would be King had his eye on Rafiq’s capacity to build large and modern buildings in what was said to be ‘no time!’. The Prince also had his eye on Rafiq’s beautiful wife and so it was, in an exchange smooth as the silk underwear she would now wear, that a deal was cut between the two men, details of which would die with them both.

The powerful Prince trusted Rafiq’s discretion and Rafiq’s legendary skills to forge, maintain, and nurture useful connections was put to the ultimate test. The philandering Prince had no such discretion, but his power and finances meant your head would not remain on your shoulders should your lips speak of it.
So Rafiq built beautiful hotels in record time while the Prince played and slept with his wife. The Prince soon became King and his power was formalised. Their relationship forged Rafiq when quized it would only ever repeat,

“The meat on my shoulder is from the King”.

Some say Rafiq achieved the impossible. His name was now etched on the Kingdom’s accounting ledgers. A second son, was born to Rafiq’s wife. They called the boy Saad meaning ‘blessedness’ and ‘happiness’. Saad would carry Rafiq’s name and the blood of a King. The bond with the King and his Kingdom was certainly a blessed one that would make Rafiq’s family all wealthy beyond imagination.

Some say Rafiq was ‘concerned’ about the ongoing strife in his own country and that he never forgot where he came from. They say he was a ‘behind-the-scenes’ mediator, advisor, a promoter of cease-fires and agreements to end the wars in his original home. He was seen by both his birth and adopted country as a strong negotiator. Rafiq was heard to once to say-
“Money is a negotiation tool, I use it as a plumber uses a wrench to stop a leak or a sculptor uses a chisel to fashion a block of wood.”
But when, eighteen years after moving to the Kingdom, his company worked on the removal of destroyed buildings, opening of streets and roads littered with roadblocks and sand bags, in his homeland, this led others say he was just another profiteer of war – It was all business, money and prestige and the Kingdom had much to gain from the support they gave to Rafiq.

Rafiq would later divorce his first wife, take a second wife and father more children, he would lose his third son to a car accident in a far away country of cowboys, dollars and something called Starbucks. He would broker a ‘tentative peace’ in his birthland where many guilty criminals were ‘recycled’ to govern and reconstruct, no community nor religion in his land had been spared the ravages of war. Rafiq was to move back home after 28 years in the Kingdom to become his country’s leader. He was the Kingdom’s man in his original country.

A country that remained influenced and chained on its many sides by foreign control, would be led by a man whose money came from the most wealthy Princes in the region. He would multiply his own wealth as his country’s leader, he would put his land into serious debt and manage a tentative ‘peace’ in a land of trouble. He would make powerful friends and powerful enemies.

Was it bearded enemies that blew up his vehicle while he rode in a cavalcade through the capital? For even as a Sunni his ways were perceived as decadent by the rising tide of Wahabism both in the Kingdom and in his original land. The irony was that his friend the King is said to have sought to appease his people and his soul of his gambling decadence and philandering by gifting obscene amounts of money to build Islamist schools and groups. The same groups that were to engage in violent jihad across the Middle East.

After five terms as leader Rafiq retired from his position.
His money could not save him from a violent death. Some still needed him dead. The 1000 kg equivalent to TNT bomb, made a crater as huge as a small lake in the middle of town. Some say it was his attitude to those others considered, recalcitrant and corrupt ‘friends’ – smiling assassins, who had benefited from his blind eye on corruption and refusal to rid his country of their influence and military support, others say ‘it was a result of conspiracy and intrigue sewn by the hand wringing tribes’ who had earlier invaded, continued to have speculative interests and needed to blame the beards or the ‘friends’ in order to set the world ready for a course of destruction by the recalcitrant.

No matter who did it, Rafiq was blown to dust. I year after Rafiq’s death his family inherited 16 Billion dollars between them. Perhaps his end was karmic given what one man described as his willingness to sacrifice allies to achieve political ends. The strange unanswered thing was that the amount of money he left had grown by four times in that year since his death.

If history is written by the victor it is not written yet.

Saad followed his ‘father’ as head of the company which by now had grown to billions under his fathers entrepreneurial skills- it was huge, involved in banking, real estate, oil, industry, and communications. Saad in true dynastic form also became leader of his father’s country, for Saad was not born there he was born in the Kingdom, he remained as leader for 18 months until his government collapsed. For as it is said “the seed may not match the tree”. He then left the country on self imposed exile for less hostile climes in France and the Kingdom.

His ‘father’ has hard shoes to fit. Maybe Saad is just more like his zygote father. Saad returned to Rafiq’s homeland three years later, again with the Kingdom’s money in his hand. Investigation into his father’s death remained unresolved and it appeared to many Saad wanted to lead his fathers country again (with the Kingdom’s support and a list of incomplete tasks).

CAST:
Rafiq…………………….Rafiq Hariri billionaire Lebanese entrepreneur
Lebanon’s longest serving PM

His first wife…………..Nida Bustani (Iraqi roots from Lebanon)
The Kingdom………….Saudi Arabia
The Prince……………..Now deceased King FAHD bin Abdul Aziz
who would be King

The son Saad…………Saad Hariri dual Saudi/Lebanese citizen
Lebanese PM, 9 November 2009 – 13 June 2011

The STL, Special Tribunal for Lebanon is an International Tribunal formed with headquarters on the outskirts of The Hague, the Netherlands and an office in Beirut, Lebanon. It was formed in March 2009. with the primary mandate to hold trials for the people accused of carrying out the attack of 14 February 2005 which killed 22 people, including the former prime minister of Lebanon, Rafiq Hariri, and injured many others.

IT IS STILL PROCEEDING!

Saad Hariri -Daily Star Lebanon reported on 13/8/2014
Although the return of former Prime Minister Saad Hariri is expected to instigate negotiations aimed at resolving the presidential vacuum, eyes are focused on the nature of the meetings Hariri will hold with political factions.
Hariri, who returned Friday after three years of self-imposed exile, is expected to oversee the spending of a $1 billion grant from Saudi Arabia aimed at deterring terrorism in Lebanon.” see in new window here

 

Former Prime Minister Saad Hariri gestures upon his arrival at the Grand Serail in Beirut, Friday, Aug 8, 2014. (The Daily Star/Dalati Nohra, HO

Former Prime Minister Saad Hariri gestures upon his arrival at the Grand Serail in Beirut, Friday, Aug 8, 2014. (The Daily Star/Dalati Nohra, HO

Abbas 1988 ALGERIA. Algiers. Arab Summit opening. 1988. King FAHD bin ABDUL AZIZ...

Abbas 1988
ALGERIA. Algiers. Arab Summit opening. 1988. King FAHD bin ABDUL AZIZ…

A man walks past a poster depicting Lebanon's assassinated former prime minister Rafik al-Hariri, in downtown Beirut: Reuters

A man walks past a poster depicting Lebanon’s assassinated former prime minister Rafik al-Hariri, in downtown Beirut: Reuters

Linked List of References:

http://www.stl-tsl.org/
http://www.bbc.com/news/world-middle-east-13978635
http://www.h-net.org/reviews/showrev.php?id=24380
http://encyclopedia.jrank.org/articles/pages/5709/Hariri-Rafiq-1944-2005.html
http://www.rhariri.com/general.aspx?pagecontent=biography
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fahd_of_Saudi_Arabia
http://angryarab.blogspot.com.au/
http://hal.inria.fr/docs/00/72/15/67/PDF/The_Hariri_Political_Dynasty_after_the_Arab_Spring_Vloeberghs_2012_HALSHS.pdf
http://www.astrotheme.com/astrology/Rafiq_Hariri
http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/jan/16/lebanese-rafik-hariri-assassination-marked-man-tribunal
http://english.al-akhbar.com/node/11688

http://english.alarabiya.net/en/perspective/profiles/2014/01/16/Rafiq-Hariri-the-Mr-Lebanon-who-dominated-political-scene.html
http://english.al-akhbar.com/node/11688