This post is about an engrossing film produced in 2015 by a Syrian-Lebanese film-maker, Olga Naccache*, of the war on Syria, now in its 7th year. I just came across it thanks to a post on Facebook by Intibah Kadi. It is over one hour long, with English subtitles. It is gripping and many times elegiac. The music is vibrant.
Ms Naccache states; “When I started to shoot this film in Beirut in June 2011, the intellectuals, leftists and artists, etc., told me that I was wasting my time and that the ‘revolution’ would win in Syria. Although I know that the Syrian people want reforms and more freedom, the events in Syria proved to me to be another Islamist insurgency for ‘regime change’, sponsored by Western actors and Arab allies.”
She explained that the characters of this film are ordinary workers, their ages ranging from 22 to 36 years old. She says “…they all fled the chaos of their countries, sorry the “Arab spring!’”
Ahmed from Aleppo, Hussein from Deir El Zor, Bilal from Homs and Magid from Iraq appear progressively and, as the film unfolds, from 2011 to late 2015, they are the witnesses of dramatic events in Syria. They comment on its nature of being a fake revolution to a fake civil war and real international-sponsored terrorism for a “New Middle East”, part of the U.S. and Zionist imperialist project.
“In short, the film is a meditation about our troubled times, lost Arabism and new Ottomanism and Wahabbism…treason…patriotism…the role of Israel…the heroic Syrian Army… and the muscle diplomacy of Russia to hamper these evil plans,” Ms Naccache reflects. It is an intimate portrait of young men who helplessly watch the barbaric destruction of an ancient and cultured land.
In the light of time, one can see the terrible criminality of the patented disinformation of the US, Canada and the NATO bloc, and the tragic consequences suffered by a heroic people.
The liberal imperialist doctrine of “responsibility to protect” justifies intervention in the sovereign and internal affairs of any country pursuing a course not to the liking of Washington. It prettified the foreign-sponsored proxy forces, terrorists (the majority non-Syrian), unleashed to bring about regime change in the name of “democracy” as “rebels” and “moderates.” The pretence was that the conflict was an internal “civil war” with a religious and sectarian colour; a “moderate Syrian (sic) opposition” took on a demonic “Assad regime” of the “minority” Shia Alawites – the “Arab spring.” Nay more: the “moderate” head choppers were allegedly peaceful, non-violent and only forced to take up arms due to the “repression” of President Bashar al-Assad.
This documentary has not yet received the recognition it deserves, especially since it is the work of an indigenous patriot and creator who understands the region intimately. This is not exceptional. As part of the U.S. and NATO-GCC bloc intervention, a cordon sanitaire was erected to stifle the voices of the Syrian people in that country and abroad. The aim was to create a climate where only the voices of an official opposition and an official “left” of the liberal “white mans burden” type are permitted to be heard. Even Hollywood awarded an Oscar to a Netflix film about the “humanitarian” wing of the al-Nusra terrorists, the White Helmets. This climate permits the U.S.-NATO-GCC bloc and their agents to impose their dictate by depriving the Syrians of their right-to-be and their voices based on the issues they have identified and the action to be taken to achieve this. The Syrians have thus had to fight not only with arms but also to break through a wall of silence, slander and state-organized disinformation.
This is not a question of the Syrian people alone. The aim is to make sure the people of Canada and other lands do not look into, analyze and discuss the actual forces involved, above all their connection to our country and its reality, and work out what is the way forward to defend the rights of all and contribute to the cause of peace on the world scale. Humanity is one.
It is a truism to point out years later that all those “democrats” who hysterically called for the overthrow of the Syrian president have themselves disappeared from the stage, while Mr Assad alone is still in office and against all odds slowly winning the war. In one clip, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton arrogantly declares “The transition to democracy has begun and it is time for Assad to get out of the way.” Those responsible for a grave crime against humanity escaped with impunity.
By 2015 foreign affairs minister John Baird, who regularly welcomed the terrorists (then organized as the “Syrian National Council”) into his office in Ottawa, was to be found sequestered in the plush Bay Street offices of a U.S. multinational law firm and on the board of Barrick Gold. Peter MacKay and Stephen Harper were similarly secunded by multinational law firms, Baker Mackenzie and Dentons respectively. Perhaps the Bronfmans have a suite in Montreal ready for Justin Trudeau, whose shady government has taken up where Harper left off. (For the most recent example, see here.)
A reflection: a night in Damascus
There is one scene in the film (at 1:22) that touched me personally and which I can verify: the mass celebrations on the streets of Damascus that spontaneously broke out when Bashar al-Assad won the 3 June 2014 presidential election over two other candidates.
Along with two other independent Canadian journalists, I had been invited by the National Assembly as international observers. These two both had previous experience with Elections Canada and spoke Arabic, and I had been a candidate numerous times.
During the election, terrorists had repeatedly fired mortars targeting polling stations in Damascus, Homs and other locales; undeterred, electors courageously continued to vote. For its part, the central elections body had organized smaller polling districts, increased their number, and situated the polls in strong buildings to ensure the safety of the electors. (In Canada the Harper government simply prohibited Canadians of Syrian origin from voting.) We were unanimous in our conclusion that the norms of the election were democratic and fair, and that the Syrians did not have to justify themselves to anyone, let alone the “West.” It was in many respects a festival in which the polity affirmed their sovereign right-to-be as a people and a nation. (See “Eyewitness Report: The 2014 Syrian Presidential Elections” by Mahdi Darius Nazemroaya for a vivid and short documentary of our first-hand experience at <https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DqNrsGRHI_U > )
I had left the hotel where all the observers and journalists were quartered that night accompanied by Hisham Youness, head of protocol for the Syrian National Assembly and my new friend. Hisham tried to argue me into staying, concerned about my safety. To no avail. I wanted to be on the street, amongst the masses. Off we went.
The street that night in Damascus was a memorable and unforgettable sight. The joy expressed by the people was genuine and ardent, the composition of the thousands packed in cars, taxis and on top of trucks was of all faiths and backgrounds. Soldiers from a small barrack near our hotel were on the side of the street cheering and applauding the people in the cars as they passed by. One could hear guns being fired into the air afar from time to time. The night was ablaze with light. It was as unlike the nightmarish elections of the rich and their parties in Canada, where the workers wake up the next morning with a foreboding about the results, as day and night.
Later on that night, I happened to be interviewed on TV about my observations about the election. I recounted my experiences from visiting nine polling stations on June 3 in the Latakia region on the Mediterranean coast; urban and rural, in the port, at Tishreen University and in the nearby mountains. I pointed out that the disinformation and ignorance in my country about the Syrian reality is such that we Canadians, myself included, simply do not know what we do not know.
In the election, in my view, the Syrians saw they had one and only one choice; it was not between candidates per se. They had a “democratic” choice between enslavement through capitulation to the U.S.-NATO-GCC bloc which had put a gun to their head and to fight for sovereignty and independence of their homeland, a fundamental democratic right of all peoples. They voted to defend their patrimony with al-Assad at the head, who should continue to implement measures to empower the people in various ways.
In closing, the cameraman asked me if I had any final words.
I repeated the poignant story of an older baker. He informed me he was a Christian who fully supported the government, which was secular and had given all his children a free university education. In fact, he was the sole Syrian I met who even discussed his religion. He had tried to enlist in the army yet was rejected due to his age, but told to keep his rifle ready. Such is a “dictatorship” which allows the citizens to have their own arms.
“Tell Obama beware. Five million Syrians have guns under their beds. They are primed for you.”
It was following this election that the imperialists unleashed ISIS as its new “agent of chaos” against Syria. Despite all the mumbo jumbo about “degrading the assets of ISIL/ISIS” – a pretext to bomb Syria and its infrastructure – it is the courageous Syrian people and their army who have been the decisive force that had put paid to the headchoppers, with important support from their allies, Hezbollah, Iran and Russia. **
Belated but ever-fresh congratulations to #OlgaNaccache
The film can be viewed at this link:
An article about the film is here:
Ekaterina Blinova, “‘Traitors’: Why Armed Opposition Fails to Win Hearts and Minds of Syrians”
*Information on author, director and producer Olga Naccache
Born in 1953, Olga Naccache in her youth worked in Lebanon as a journalist for different news agencies after having studied journalism and languages in France. Her first documentary was “Ashoura”. She continued to produce various documentaries on Lebanon, also teaching Cinema at the BUC in 1984. She produced several documentaries during the war in Lebanon and later in Paris with her company Les Films de L’Odyssée. In 1994 she directed and produced “Lebanon; Bits and Pieces” for France 3 and the EU, in 1997, “Turkish Woman Behind the Veil,” and in 1999 she directed “Halima for la Francophonie.” From 2002 to 2004 she was an executive producer at Article Z, a documentary film company in Paris. In 2005 Ms Naccache, after a period in France, moved back to Beirut and produced “Mother, Lebanon and Me” in 2010, “Istanbul Taxi,” among other works.
In 2015 Naccache authored, directed and produced the film “Syria The Challenge.”
** An attempt has been made for seven years to demolish the Syrian state, pulling it apart from within with armed terrorist groups and infiltrating it from abroad and causing more than 300,000 deaths. Now that the military operation is failing, a psychological operation to make the government, any Syrian and its allies resisting aggression look like the aggressors while the anti-war movement in our country is to be criminalized.
Mahdi Darius Nazemroaya writes: “The name changes of the groups fighting in Syria and Iraq should not fool anyone. In essence they are the same forces; they are ‘agents of chaos’ being using to create insecurity against U.S. rivals and any governments or entities that are resisting U.S. edicts. With the erosion of Al-Qaeda and the fading of Osama bin Laden from the limelight, Washington created new legends or myths to replace them in the eyes of the public and the world as a means to sustain its foreign policy. Soon Jubhat Al-Nusra, ISIL/ISIS, and Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi were all conjured up and fostered as new bogeymen and monsters to sustain Washington’s ‘long war’ and to justify the militarism of the United States. These bogymen also have been used to fan the flames of sedition, drive out Christians and other minorities, and fuel sectarianism among Muslims with the objective of dividing the region and pushing Sunni Muslims and Shiite Muslims to kill one another.” (What is ISIS?, November 3, 2015)
My thanks to Intibah Kadi. Visit the blog of Intibah and Ghassan Kadi.