August 25, 2004 Special Dispatch No. 771

Syrian Ambassador-Designate to London Calls on Syrian Expatriates to Return to Assist Reform and Warns Against Anarchy in Syria

August 25, 2004
Syria | Special Dispatch No. 771

In an article titled "A Call for [Return to] The Homeland," Syrian Ambassador-Designate to London Dr. Sami Al-Kheimi [1] called for Syrian expatriates to return to their homeland, which is in need of reform, while blaming Zionism and the U.S. for Syria's situation. Al-Kheimi also warned of the possibility of anarchy in Syria. The following are excerpts from the article, which was first published with slight omissions in the London Arabic-language daily Al-Hayat,and later in full in the Damascus online publication Kulna Shurakaa: [2]

The Zionist and American Tyrannies have Paralyzed Damascus

"[When I returned from Beirut to Damascus], I felt the thrill of yearning felt by all those who return to their 'first home.' Along the way, I saw sights of the rebuilding of Lebanon, whose sons knew how to extricate it from its demise and have succeeded in partially restoring it to its tourist and economic leadership in the region.

"After my yearnings quieted, I sensed my exhausted city, its dark colors, its burrowed-out pathways, its uniform buildings, its dark tunnels and squares, and I suddenly felt a sense of loss… I asked myself, 'What has made Damascus, the most beautiful of cities, freeze thus in its place?…'

"[The answer is] the Zionist tyranny, and permit me to add also the American tyranny. [Only] then [comes] the local factor, or [Syria's] political regimes, that followed one another and stood confused and helpless in the face of this tyranny, and [which] since the 1950s have employed rigid economic measures…

"Has Zionism reached such a degree of hegemony over world policy that its political, economic, and military weight is no longer bearable?The answer is clearly yes. It is interesting that it is in the American Republican party that Israel has found … a strong backer to join the Israeli lobby – which in itself has become the strongest in the history of the U.S., both economically and politically, and in effect controls the important sectors of the world economy, press, and media…

"We, as a repressed nation, must continue the dialogue [with the U.S.] and differentiate between black and white – white being the complete liberation of our occupied land, while all other problems are in the gray area, and subject to discussion."

'[Syria] Sees Itself as One of the Region's Major Players that Cannot be Ignored'

"Only dialogue will make the U.S. understand that it is negotiating with a country that is developing, liberated, hostile to terrorism, and truly striving for peace - a country that sees itself as one of the region's major players that cannot be ignored…

"We are a small country that in the early [20th] century was divided, so that less than half of it remained; therefore, in its present form, it must cooperate with its neighbors. We are a people that lags behind economically, and that is lacking many experts: bankers, economists, political, economic, administrative and linguistic analysts, as well as experts in international law, lecturers in the humanities, and so on. We are a country whose experts have deserted it and have spread in every direction, and it is impossible to bring them back…

"Syria has a short time left to choose its position between the world blocs. If the [Syrian] people wants to add thousands more years to its long history, it must play a bigger role in the global economic discussions…"

'To Syrians Wherever You may be: Syria Needs Your Expertise and Your Help'

"Syria is marching toward reform of all kinds – from economic reform, through administrative reform, and including political reform. Those who gamble that its efforts will fail are deluded. They forget the hopes our people are pinning on the reform that is being carried out by our will, and the fear of reform imposed upon it from the outside.

"I am not trying here to justify the mistakes and the flaws, and by the nature of thingsI am trying neither to cover up for unacceptable deeds nor to chastise anyone. Rather, I am calling upon Syrians [to return] to the homeland, a call to all Syrians wherever they may be, of all factions, beliefs, or origin – Syria needs your expertise and your help:

· "To become a homeland of forgiveness and of openness, a homeland of dialogue and of justice.

· "To promote the industries of agriculture, food, textile, medicine, tourism, mechanical technology, drama and television, which open the door to the success of a promising future.

· "To speak a modern language – the language of economics, the language of a moderate and courageous political position that goes together with a true longing for peace.

· "To strengthen the reform process being led wisely and quietly by Syria's president, who knows well the ramifications of the regional and global debates that affect the future of the country."

'What Frightens Me Most … is that Our [Syrian] Arab People will Rise Up … and Drown the Region in an Anarchy that will Destroy Everything in its Path '

"What frightens me most – and perhaps also frightens those who wish the Arabs ill – is [the possibility] of our [Syrian] Arab people rising up against the oppression, racism, discrimination, and hatred, without any connection to a particular political regime, and drowning the region in an anarchy that will destroy everything in its path. We must remember Samson, who destroyed the house upon both his own head and upon the heads of his enemies."

[1] Al-Kheimi, who is close to Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad, is a member of the Syrian Information Association that Al-Assad headed before he became president.

[2] Kulnaa Shurakaa (Syria),July 23, 2004.

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