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In this edition of our AT ISSUE debate we asked Rafif Jouejati and Ali Muhammad to debate whether they support or oppose the leadership of Syria’s Bashar al-Assad.

Jouejati is a Syrian-American activist who is working to expose the human rights violations taking place in Syria. She works with activists both in Syria and in the opposition abroad. She serves as the English-language spokesperson for the Local Coordination Committees (LCC) of Syria and is a co-founder of the National Consensus Movement (NCM), an organization dedicated to a free, democratic, and secular Syria. She does not support the presidency of Bashar al-Assad.

Muhammad is editor of Syrian Tribune, an online publication based in Abu Dhabi that supports the Assad regime as the only viable means of maintaining and eventually restoring stability in an already volatile country. He also writes about political Islamic movements in Africa and the Middle East.

The debate was moderated by Cecily Hilleary and Davin Hutchins.

At Issue Rules and Voting

Debaters must make their case with reasoned arguments and be respectful. No soapboxing. There are two sides to any issue and we want to lay the case out with audience participation. Please listen to the entire debate and vote. Then add your comments.

 AT ISSUE DEBATE: Do You Support or Oppose Syrias Bashar Al Assad?

Davin Hutchins

Davin Hutchins is Consulting Editor of Middle East Voices. Hutchins brings 17 years of journalism experience to VOA after working with media organizations such as CNN, Tech TV, Huffington Post and PBS. He specializes in news, documentaries and new media with an emphasis on international social issues, media training and online delivery platforms. Hutchins lived five years in the Middle East and covers the dynamic changes that have been triggered by the Arab Spring.

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  • Sam

    After listening to the debate and reading all the comments below, and especially those of Dr. Ali Muhammad, I cannot believe such a person could be a doctor of anything. He is clearly defending a vicious murderer and a liar and he is clearly at lost for words to justify his crimes and there is no doubt he is liar like him. He is a disgrace for his family and country.

  • Sam

    After listening to the debate and reading all the comments below, and especially those of Dr. Ali Muhammad, I cannot believe such a person could be a doctor of anything. He is clearly defending a vicious murderer and a liar and he is clearly at lost for words to justify his crimes and there is no doubt he is liar like him. He is a disgrace for his family and country.

  • Sam

    After listening to the debate and reading all the comments below, and especially those of Dr. Ali Muhammad, I cannot believe such a person could be a doctor of anything. He is clearly defending a vicious murderer and a liar and he is clearly at lost for words to justify his crimes and there is no doubt he is liar like him. He is a disgrace for his family and country.

  • Sam

    After listening to the debate and reading all the comments below, and especially those of Dr. Ali Muhammad, I cannot believe such a person could be a doctor of anything. He is clearly defending a vicious murderer and a liar and he is clearly at lost for words to justify his crimes and there is no doubt he is liar like him. He is a disgrace for his family and country.

  • Anonymous

    Who in hell appointed Barbara Walters or elected her to represent Americans before the Syrian president?  Why doesn’t she confine her activities to her daily girlie talk show where her type rightfully belongs?
    When she whined that Assad was president and therefore should be aware of the allegations against his country, he should have retorted, Yes, I am president, and exactly what are you? Her arrogance is always in plain view as is her ‘holier than thou’ attitude.  She has no business speaking for the American people and should simply STFU. We have enough problems of our own without her stirring the pot in the Middle East or anywhere else.

  • Anonymous

    Who in hell appointed Barbara Walters or elected her to represent Americans before the Syrian president?  Why doesn’t she confine her activities to her daily girlie talk show where her type rightfully belongs?
    When she whined that Assad was president and therefore should be aware of the allegations against his country, he should have retorted, Yes, I am president, and exactly what are you? Her arrogance is always in plain view as is her ‘holier than thou’ attitude.  She has no business speaking for the American people and should simply STFU. We have enough problems of our own without her stirring the pot in the Middle East or anywhere else.

  • Anonymous

    Who in hell appointed Barbara Walters or elected her to represent Americans before the Syrian president?  Why doesn’t she confine her activities to her daily girlie talk show where her type rightfully belongs?
    When she whined that Assad was president and therefore should be aware of the allegations against his country, he should have retorted, Yes, I am president, and exactly what are you? Her arrogance is always in plain view as is her ‘holier than thou’ attitude.  She has no business speaking for the American people and should simply STFU. We have enough problems of our own without her stirring the pot in the Middle East or anywhere else.

  • Anonymous

    Who in hell appointed Barbara Walters or elected her to represent Americans before the Syrian president?  Why doesn’t she confine her activities to her daily girlie talk show where her type rightfully belongs?
    When she whined that Assad was president and therefore should be aware of the allegations against his country, he should have retorted, Yes, I am president, and exactly what are you? Her arrogance is always in plain view as is her ‘holier than thou’ attitude.  She has no business speaking for the American people and should simply STFU. We have enough problems of our own without her stirring the pot in the Middle East or anywhere else.

  • http://twitter.com/Barazi_7urr عبدالسلام البرازي

    Ali Muhammad is a perfect example of a blind Assad Thugs supporter who is concentrating on individual case and generalize it on the whole revolution. To Ali Muhammad: Go and ask any resident of Banyas about how many people RANDOMLY killed (sniped) by your hero Nidal Jannoud just because they were trying to get food and water to their besieged families by your president thugs “Shabiha”.

    Ali Muhammad is also a perfect example of Assad cruelty in answering the questions avoiding firm, direct and clear answers.

    I believe that the majority of Syrians and Arabs are fed up with this dirty iranian-style cruel diplomacy, that has only brought to us isolation, instability  and unnecessary wars.

    Syria will turn -in spite of all obstacles- into a democratic country for every human being who lives on its soil, and Assad, his thugs and his supporters will go once and for good into the history bin of dust.

  • Dr. Sam

    It looks like they have deleted my comment in Arabic: The point I want to explain is that since Mr. Ali Mohammed has accepted the fact that the Syrian Army and the Security forces are in fact killing civilians. Then, this is enough reason to throw the Assad regime. Because he fail to protect civilian protesters and because he cannot control the security forces if he was not the one who sends the orders  

    • http://www.syria-tribune.com Dr. Ali Muhammad

      The only enough reason to topple a regime is finding a better way for the country, Sam. Unfortunate events happen in the history of each nation, but the future of this nation should not be determined solely by these events. When I see a solution that is capable of building a better new country, I will happily work for it. Right now, I think reforms is this solution.

      • Souri Maqhoor

        solution just in case if you did not hear of it yet; democracy, free elections, put to trial all those criminals. Rebuild the nation that Assad rule destroyed for the past 40 years

      • Souri Maqhoor

        solution just in case if you did not hear of it yet; democracy, free elections, put to trial all those criminals. Rebuild the nation that Assad rule destroyed for the past 40 years

        • http://www.syria-tribune.com Dr. Ali Muhammad

          Again, Souri, you say your opinion as if it was the ultimate truth. Democracy comes through reforms and a building a new era based on the will decided by voting, not by confiscating. Democracy, ask Iraq and Libya, cannot come carried on a NATO tank.

          • Sam

            Ali, your attempts at twisting the truth are not fooling anyone. Iraq is already enjoying democracy thanks to the US intervention, and Libya finally has peace and will have a democratically government in the near future, again thanks to the NATO intervention.
            Assad (the father) is the one who “confiscated” power from the people and ruled them with an iron fist and Assad (the son) inherited the presidency from his daddy to continue his dictatorial rule. But everyone knows that already..

        • Marwan

          Democracy is easier said than done. I would not want to live in a democracy funded by Saudi dictatorship any more than I would like to live under Assad dictatorship. UK has proven long term the only stable way to a strong democracy is reform. Revolution from outside will never provide betterment.

          Even Egypt right now has no democracy. Real power is in the hands of the generals (unelected).

  • Dr. Sam

    شكرا مدام جوجاتلي..يعني الدكتور علي محمد عم يعترف انوالجيش والشبيحة قاموا بالاقدام على قتل المتظاهريين السلميين…لو فرضنا جدلا انو في متظاهريين  حملوا سلاح ليدافعوا عن المتظاهريين السلمينن- طيب قتل الالوف من المتظاهريين السلميين ماهو سبب لحالو مشان تقوم ثورة كاملة …ماهو سبب يخلينا نقلوا لبشار الكلب بيكفي حاج…هل الاقد دام الانسان السوري رخيص عندك…

  • Davis Han

    I have ONLY two questions for Dr. Ali. I could not find any one of pro-Asaad people who was able to give me a convincing answer for.

    1- Why Asaad is BLOCKING media from entering the country to document what is happening? While Mrs. Jouejati and others representatives of the Syrian activists ask for media to enter the country? The only (logic) answer I have for this question is that Asaad is afraid of what he is doing to his people and wants to hide it. This is the only way to find out who is telling the truth (Jouejati vs Ali) and your Asaad is not allowing this2- Even if we assumed there are armed groups in Syria who killed the 4000 people as your president claims, What about all the civilians who are in jails now? Who put them in jail? and have been torturing them? Do the armed gang control the jails in Syria or it is you president (Asaad) who controls the jail system in your country

    • http://www.syria-tribune.com Dr. Ali Muhammad

      Dear Davis,

      Thanks for taking the time to send these important questions.

      1- Regarding the media presence in Syria. I am sure you have been following the to and fro debate regarding the president’s interview with Barbra Walters. Yesterday, Dr. Jihad Makdessi, spokesperson for the Syrian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, discussed this matter thoroughly, and showed the full version of what the President said. The manipulation was very clear. Aljazeera stopped broadcasting the press conference when he started showing the full footage. this was not the first time of course. A few weeks ago, Aljazeera also stopped broadcasting Waleed Almuallim’s press conference when he started playing videos that show victims of the armed groups. There is a lot of evidence that certain media networks have not been impartial in covering the events in Syria, and you may read more about that on my website: http://www.syria-tribune-com. So these certain media channels are not allowed to operate freely in Syria. This does not mean there is NO media in Syria. Many other international networks do report from Syria, some regularly and some at occasions.

      2- The president never claimed that armed gangs are responsible for all the casualties in Syria. he was clear in admitting that mistakes did happen and that no one is immune to accountability in this matter. As for people in jail, there have been three presidential pardons since the beginning of the events. Many people were arrested for participating in armed attacks, many others for participating in riots, and some for breaking the peaceful protesting law. The three pardons resulted in releasing large numbers of the last two categories, but when people participated in riots in London, Paris, or other places, they were also arrested and taken to court. I join my voice to yours demanding a fair and public trial for those. Yet, you should ask yourself why is everybody demanding the release of EVERYONE, including armed gangsters. 

      • Rafif Jouejati

        Can we get foreign media in Syria? Without government minders? How about international observers? These are questions that beg for “yes” or “no” answers. It’s very interesting that the regime accuses everyone of a conspiracy yet will not allow in anyone to corroborate their “facts.” The alleged Western conspiracy includes, according to the regime’s state-run media, Salafits, Zionists, Palestinians, Al-Jazeera, the New York Times, The Guardian, The Economist, Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, the UN Human Rights Commission, the European Union, the United States, and now Barbara Walters. This is not even the tip of the iceberg of the list of those the regime has accused of being part of the conspiracy.

        • http://www.syria-tribune.com Dr. Ali Muhammad

          Yes. There are foreign media channels in Syria. Some report regularly, and some do so from time to time.
          As a Syrian citizen, I still have in mind the allegations that Iraq had WMDs. There were foreign observers in Iraq no? And yet, they let this fabrication slide, a fabrication that later cost the Iraqi nation half a million martyrs. So no, I personally do not accept foreign observers in my country. But this does not mean we cannot find a way to substitute for this. The problem is that you want observers sent by your allies. This is not logical in politics. The logical thing is for both sides to sit and agree on means to reveal facts. Means that acceptable to both sides, not forced in by one side only.
          You go on and on naming sides that the Syrian government accuse of conspiracy, but you do not discuss the accusations. For instance, the Barbra Walters interview was a clear example of media manipulation. Comparing the full version of what the president said with what they chose to broadcast shows this clearly. Aljazeera is an example that I am not sure you want to defend. The Guardian, as I explained in one article on Syria Tribune, is clearly taking sides. The list goes endlessly. You judge by the number of channels accused of conspiracy, but what you should do is actually judge by what these channels did and did not do.

          • Souri Maqhoor

            who facilitated that war for them? Saddam Hussien who REFUSED to resign just like Assad. Great, so how should we avoid this disasterous way? Can you ask Assad to resign so Syria can avoid this doomed future?

      • Souri Maqhoor

        You started to amuse me Dr. Ali. I watched this “edited” part that Makddessi aird and I wish he did not; it even condemned him further. As for Waleed Almualim and his video ironically that video was in Lebanon shot back in 2008. This is your regime; even when they lie they fail!
        As for your second point; why Atif Najib still loose and heading a platoon in the north? As for the 3 presidential pardons most of the released were drug dealers and criminals as for political prisoners they still in prison… great keep going with the pardons mr. president poor criminals are suffering!!!! Armed gangs where are you? 10 month couldn’t control armed gangs? where do we live? Please don’t insult us with this ridiculous claims… armed gangs… sitting on the roof tops of buildings shooting at civilians, on top of city hall water towers shooting at people and ironically they were army cloths and lead by officers from Assad army!

  • Mais soulaiman

    We know that the West against our country and our president ….
    We know also they will delete the ideas that conflict with their Zionism policy  against Syria …
    But on the other hand we live in this country and see how the terrorists  massacred members of our military … our women and our children … .. We do not want an  opinion from anyone who lives in the lap of the country that Destroyed and abandoned Million of people around the world to teach us freedom and democracy …so it is Not new to the West to conceal the truth or even delete your thoughts ….  because they did that in the interview of  Mr. President on the ABC channel …. with Barbara Walters Do not worry my friend, Ali,  we are proud of you and your thoughts ….Mais

    • Guest

      sham on you and him you are supporting killers and murderous, sham on you

  • http://www.facebook.com/thayr.alflah ثائر الفلاح

    Bashar Al Asad is just a man who inherited the presidency from his father, He does not represent Syria or the Syrian national unity. He need to act wisely and step down. Give the Syrian people the chance to build the new Syria.

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  • Nana_ms842011

    We know that they will delete the ideas that  opposed to their Zionism policy  against our country and our president …
    On the other hand we do not want opinion from  anyone living in the lap of the country that destroyed and displaced millions  and they are now trying to destroy the security of our country and our people ….  by claiming the revolution and Change ….
    We live in Syria and see what happens and how the gunmen  Slaughtered members of our military … our children … and young people without any mercy …. So my friend do not worry we all know  the policy of the West is against us …. We are so  proud of you Ali ….MaIs

  • Daoud1214

    Ali you did a great job you are a great supporter of Syria, what i can see is that these days the majority of Syrians are supporting the COUNTRY SYRIA, the fate of the country they dont really care about bashar as much as the opposition, the opposition are dreaming everyday of bashars body, they are forgetting Syria and whats gonna happen in Syria, GOD BLESS SYRIA, god bless you ALI and all the guys like you, GOD bless Bashar Al Assad,,, and SYRIA is victorious  my friend.

    • http://www.syria-tribune.com Dr. Ali Muhammad

      Thanks, Daoud. Yes, I do agree with you. The opposition accuses those who do not agree with them of being personality worshipers. But the fact is, the opposition are the ones focusing on the person, not us.

      • Rafif Jouejati

        Ali and Daoud, surely you can admit that there are a few personality worshipers. I know you must be aware of the photos of people using a picture of Assad as a prayer rug. What about all the pro-regime demonstrations that specifically support him by name? They aired on Syrian TV. 

        I don’t believe the Opposition is “focusing” on the person, except to the extent that this particular person is technically the commander-in-chief, and by his own admission, not in control of his security forces. In fact, the Opposition is focusing on having the regime’s leadership and its security apparatus step down.

        • http://www.syria-tribune.com Dr. Ali Muhammad

          Rafif, we are also aware of personality worshipers on the other side. You know that for some people the name Arour means more than the name Syria. These are common people, and this type of behavior is something that a long course of political practice should solve. But when it comes to people who work in politics, like many opposition figures, this fixation on the president’s personality is not healthy for Syria. Opp figures insist that no dialogue should take place until the president resigns, protesters in the streets curse the president’s soul, and media manipulates what he says and campaign against him. Isn’t this worse than pro-regime demos saying they support him for what he is? And since you accept the fact that there are people who support him, why don’t you show a democratic example and recognize that you, as opposition, cannot monopolize the future of the country?

          • Souri Maqhoor

            I can’t even believe you saying that; if we call for election we will be monopolize the future? are you serious? I don’t think anyone in the opposition will deny that he has supporters so did Hitler had supporters does that nullify the fact he was a murderer? same goes for Assad, he is a murderer no matter how many supporters he has to start with. But let me for a moment go with your logic, since he is the president and we are about to be in the 10th month of the “unrest” and he did not issue orders to kill nor he controls the army as commander in chief I think in any democratic country this type of president will be impeached and put to trial for negligance to say the least and if he was found guilty in lying and issuing the orders to torture or kill peaceful protesters even one should be sentenced to jail or death

          • http://www.syria-tribune.com Dr. Ali Muhammad

            Call for elections? I did not hear the opp calling for elections. They are calling for a regime handover to them. In fact, the regime invited them to talk about a new constitution and elections act preparing for a modern and fair practice of voting, but they refused.
            YOU believe that Assad should be brought to justice. This is your right. Many other people think he shouldn’t. Who is to decide? Only a new constitution and a new modern set of legislation can do this. The problem with the opposition is that they speak, then they claim what they speak of is the ultimate reality, based only on the fact they they believe so. If you truly want a modern and democratic state, you should be the first to reject this kind of political behavior. You have, so far, failed to show you have the support of the majority in Syria, and until you do so, bu elections, not by calling upon NATO to destroy Syria, you have no right to claim what you say has the precedence over the other side.

            I would really like to see a single opp figure try to figure out who is killing the people from the other side. It is either that you distribute your humanitarian work equally on all causalities, or you stop claiming you are doing the country a humanitarian favor and start talking politics.

  • Abo Basel

    Dr ِAli

    Thank you for speaking on the behalf of millions of us in Syria!! We’re very grateful to you for making our voice..reach to others .

    • Dr. Ali Muhammad

      Thanks, Abu basel!

      • Amoral1975

        he is speaking for the shabe7ha and the killers, sham on you and on him

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Hiba-Kelanee/100002015930806 Hiba Kelanee

    Dr Muhammad,

    Thank you for speaking on the behalf of millions of us in Syria!! We’re very grateful to you for making our voice heard!!

    Thank you VoA, too, for your balanced interview..

    Peace to Syria

    • http://www.syria-tribune.com Dr. Ali Muhammad

      Thank you, Hiba!

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Hiba-Kelanee/100002015930806 Hiba Kelanee

    I’d like first to thank Voice of America for allowing us to hear Dr Muhammad representing how millions of Syrians feel!**Of course, Ms Jouejati chose her words carefully; the protests were largely peaceful! If that is so, how come hundreds of army and security personnel have been killed (I think the figure was 1100 last time I checked)? It’s also a common knowledge that most of them were killed in COLD blood- hardly a case of “self defence” state!!
     
    **Who is killing protesters? In most videos (the genuine ones anyway..), we see injured or dead people; we never see who shot at them!! There is no hard evidence that the killings were all committed by army and security forces. Snipers have been behind many reported cases and many believe they belong to a third party that wants to inflame the situation. It should be highlighted that he main force behind the “revolution” has been the loss of Syrian lives and the call to take revenge for them. To the contrary, the killings only brought trouble to the Government!! Another point; recently and since the so called “Syria Free Army” was formed, reports from the opposition claimed its members to be behind the attacks against the army and security forces, when the army would retaliate in an attempt to restore law and order, the opposition then tends to report “civilian” casualties!! So, the figure of 4000 includes opposition armed militants (SFA) who are killed in clashes with the army.
    As for the defectors’ witness statements, most of them are supporters of the “revolution” and so cannot be considered as an independent party, and their statements need to be independently verified!
     
    Also, it is unreasonable to publish figures announced by one source that lacks credibility and cannot be described as independent; it is the “Syrian Observatory of Human Rights”! The figures provided by this centre (led by Rami Abdul Rahman from the opposition) are not verified by any a third independent party.
     
    **The revolution/ opposition in not viewed favourably by millions of Syrians. The main reason behind that is its lack of credibility, while fiercely, attacking the credibility of the regime!!! The opposition failed to acknowledge and denounce the killings committed by armed “revolutionaries” since early April, when Nidal Jannoud (who was mentioned by Dr Muhammed) as well as Colonel Qashour with a group of his soldiers were all ambushed and killed in cold blood.

    -Syrians were told that soldiers and security died when they attempted to “defect” (in Jisr al Shogour for instance when 120 members of security forces were attacked and killed).
    -Also when armed extremists were filmed throwing the bodies of five dead security personnel in the Orontes River, the opposition claimed it was “staged” and the bodies of “peaceful protesters” were thrown by the security men into the Orontes River!!
    -The Syrian opposition assured us that the Guy Girl from Damascus was a real person and her stories that were followed by many thousands including journalists, were all real including her “arrest” by the Syrian security.
    -There was also the shocking story of Zeinab al Hosni where her mother “identified” her in the hospital and details of her mutilated body were sent to Amnesty International and other Human Rights organisations to show the “crimes” committed by the regime.. However, when Zeinab was found and interviewed by the Syrian TV, the opposition blamed her identification on the security when it was clear in the statement of AI on her case that it was the mother who “found” her in the mortuary of the hospital while identifying the body of her brother!!**The American Bush family ruled the democratic United States for 20 years! George Bush the father and George Bush the son launched three wars between them and killed hundreds of thousands of people (the Iraq war in 2003 was regarded as illegal by many in the West for being all based on the lie of WMD)!! Torture of Iraqi “insurgents” was widely reported. Yet, in a country that embraces democracy, George W Bush was never asked to step down for the killing and torture committed under his watch- even though many Iraqis and Afghanis would have wanted him to!!
     
    **Finally, the majority of Syrians want to avoid the destruction of their country and the loss of hundreds of thousands of lives that will be triggered by foreign intervention in an attempt to overthrow the regime. Unlike what Navi Pillay of the UN Human Rights Council suggested, the civil war will be, in fact, the certain outcome of a regime change imposed on Syrians by outside power.
     
    Regime change should be introduced through peaceful reforms and a transition period that would allow the opposition to establish itself within Syria and win the support of Syrians in order to get into power, rather than establishing itself outside Syria and asking for the support of the Arab and Western rulers- all in the name of “democracy”!!
     
    **Because the majority know the reality in Syria is very different from what is portrayed in the International media, Bashar al Assad still has the confidence of many millions of Syrians to lead this transition period and apply the political reforms he has committed himself to in his latest speeches. The alternative that can lead to Islamists coming in power will take Syria back in the dark ages and will take away social freedom that minorites and seculars highly appreciate in Syria!!
     
     

    • Rafif Jouejati

      Hiba, thank you for your contribution. I would like to point out a couple of things. First, the Opposition has always lamented any loss of life, including that of Syria’s security forces. After all, they are Syrian citizens and most are conscripts. Second, the actual figures of security forces’ deaths tend to fluctuate – not by my own invention, but by regime supporters and spokespersons. Please note:

      The death toll
      was 800 on September 29, according
      to Dr. Buthaina Sha’aban, the President’s Political and Information Advisor,
      during an interview with BBC radio. One day later, the number had jumped to
      1600, according to Talib
      Ibrahim, a political analyst and a regime supporter, during a televised debate on Aljazeera’s “The
      Opposite Direction.” He mentioned the number twice. The number dropped to 700 one day later,
      according to the “Syria News” website in an article published that day http://syria-news.com/readnews.php?sy_seq=137875.

      On October 11 the
      number dropped to 511,
      according to Dr. Basam Abou Abdullah, International Relations Professor at
      the University of Damascus.Of course, it is impossible to verify many “facts” on the ground in the absence of impartial international monitors or members of the press. We have to go with what we believe and what we are able to document in a state that has a 40+ year history of being repressive in all matters related to the media, political opinion, and free expression.

  • Rafif Jouejati

    To those who claim I am making up the information I have: I do not rely on “my brother” or “my uncle” for information on Syria, as does Mr. Muhammad. In fact, I interact with literally hundreds of activsts every day, some abroad but most in Syria, across the country, in every governorate.

    The ridiculousness of the pro-Assad concept of “apres moi, le deluge” was exposed by Bashar Al-Assad himself: he is not in control of his own armed forces. If the Commander-in-Chief is not in control, who is? Unless Barbara Walters is an armed Islamist gang who forced Assad to talk, the words “I do not control the forces” came out of HIS mouth. Post-Assad chaos? I maintain that he and his regime are what’s causing the chaos today.

    40+ years is long enough for single-family rule. Let’s give democracy a try. After all, the Syrian people are demanding it.

    • http://www.facebook.com/people/Hiba-Kelanee/100002015930806 Hiba Kelanee

      Rafif, Those you interact with on daily basis.. Do they work in the “Syrian Observatory for Human Rights” or are they the ones who supply it with unverified information?Frankly, we heard many incredible reports and saw many fabricated videos that we find it hard to trust those “activists” you’re talking about!!! Without a doubt, I would choose to believe what Dr Muhammad’s brother would say over claims made by “Syrian activists” for a simple reason; what he says is very CONSISTENT with many stories I have heard from hundreds of Syrians across Syria and across the World.

      What the Syrian activists have done over the last 9 months is they provided biased, incomplete and inaccurate information about what is truly taking place in Syria. This explains the huge unpopularity of the “Syrian Revolution”! In fact, as a result, many people who opposed Bashar al Assad in the past, chose to side with the him now- since the alternative is much more risky to Syria!!

      Thank you

    • Dr. Ali Muhammad

      Rafif, If VOA did not edit out most of what I said, readers would know that I did not rely only on my brother or uncle. Yet, having a brother as an eye witness to such critical events still counts, no?
      You mentioned that you interact with hundreds of activists everyday. Can I ask you about those? Aren’t they all opp activists? How can you claim you have the best grasp if you do not interact with the other side? You are calling the other side “ridiculous”, is this a good descriptive term to use for such a large portion of the Syrian people?
      As for what the President said or did not say in Barbra’s interview, Jihad Makdessi has just held a press conference showing everyone what the president really said.

      I would happily give democracy a chance. I just don’t think that what is happening now can lead to one. Asking for a NATO invasion under the pretext of protecting civilians is not what I consider the way to democracy. You can take Libya, Iraq, Lebanon, or Afghanistan as examples for what would happen when armed groups supported by NATO take power. NATO has never intervened in a country and left it in a good shape my friend.

      • Souri Maqhoor

        I don’t think she has too; AlDunia TV, or AlEkhbaria or Syrian TV or Aljadid TV.. etc are more than enough to get YOUR side of the story I guess; unless these also are unreliable and it is only YOUR brother is the credible resource… We’ve seen it in their “professional” reports about the fake cities and towns in Doha, in the orders that been given to the “armed” gangs through a weather forcast on Alarabiya!

        We want Democracy; we DON”T want Assad anymore. Ask him to step down if you dare and let us hold a FREE election under the watch of our brethern the ARABS. International intervention will occur if Assad keep killing his own people and then goes on media saying huh? I don’t know; I didn’t do it! I didn’t issue orders! It is like a child caught red handed.. please give me a break with the NATO thing… we have a solution; let him step down give his authorities to somebody else and let this army to go back to their bases protecting the country not a family. As for  your example let me see… Hizbullah in Lebanon who is supporting Assad; Moqtada Alsader who is supporting Assad that’s for our neighbohers whom you gave as examples of unrest and they were the cause of this unrest! As for Syria if NATO started bombing that is if they were willing; what’s there to destroy? Assad destroyed and robbed the entire country! Ask Assad about the oil money; where did it go? Ask Assad who bombed the pipe lines and if you say the armed gangs then I’ll ask you to put Assad and these armed gangs into trial under a neutral court and let it judge whether Assad or those so called armed gangs… Enough is enough Ali. We’ve seen it all, we’ve seen the humiliation with our own eyes in the past and now; nothing changed…

  • Majed Al Domari

    To ArabiSouri

    I disagree with you. It all boils down to the simple question of “pro” or “anti”.

    Yes the topic bears much more complexities including potential alternatives and so on, but the bottom line of the entire problem goes back to seeing Assad as a read patriot whose aims at political reformation or not.

    It is a absolutely clear that the vast majority in Syria know that he is just a gangster who believes he was born with a golden spoon in his mouth inherited from the bigger dictator, his father; and he is no way ready to compromise on this free gift even if half his people are the scapegoats.

    And if you want another dimension of  the problem, it’s the sectarian one. I have no doublet you’re either Alawit or Shia. And your motive in defending Assad regime is pure hatred toward other sects. Perhaps your fear is mixed with some legitimate concerns related to potential terrorism, but nothing justifies such blind support to this dictator and nothing substantiates this stupid denial of the clearly evidenced claims of the UN and international committee against Assad regime.

    One side of the problem is that pro-Assad sectarian minority loses it when it comes to logic. You want what you call “proves” of regime crimes in Syria while your regime is blocking international media and refusing unarmed observatories by Arab League and United Nations. Not just that, when your criminal regime plays its maneuvers claiming to accept auditing just to gain more time for killing more people, you do not hesitate to accusse chosen personalities to enter Syria of spying, connection with Israel, working with CIA and such crap!

    It adds to the stupidity of your argument is that you confess that nothing can substitute Assad regime but Nato attacks. Meaning “I am here and no one will take this golden spoon from my mouth but power.” This really makes sense because it was taken by power first place and all elections and voting games were hollow scams that could food no one even in its earliest days.

    I don’t understand why it never occurs in your mind of in your Assad mind that a peaceful resignation from his illegally inherited position along with supervising elections of new regime can solve the issue all tighter and help the country escaping a sectarian war and Nato intervention.

    My advice to you and everyone who thinks like you is to prepare an escape plan. You guys are going to be all caught and charged in international courts, nothing different than what happened to Ghaddafi and his sons.

  • Ayman Jahjah

    I surely don’t need to hear any of Rafif’s crap coz she lives in US and she relays on fake information received from non-nuetral resources. I’ve been to Syria twice this year (May & November) and i’ve seen those armed gangs. Rafif desperately tried to convince us with the myth of “Shabbeeha”. I guess she can give a try to convince us with existance of “big foot” too!!!
    I don’t need reports from someone who lives in USA like Rafif to let me believe things i saw them in the other way she claims. I went to Homs and passed by hot zones in the province of Idleb and saw how the army checkpoints were treating the citizens politely. Those soldiers are there to secure our safety & peace unlike what Rafif is trying to picture them as heartless monsters. I also witnessed gunshots when is passed by the town of Talkalakh 10 days ago with my sister. Those snipers were targetting buses, trucks & cars on the highway from Tartous to Damascus. Don’t tell me this is “Shabbiha” crap because we know they do not exist. In your dreams Rafif. You should wake up lady. You wanna destroy the country for the sake of killing one person who is the president we chose. If you can’t find a job in USA.

  • Aline Alkhoury

    I am sorry but Ms. Jouejati is merely repeating the
    same old stories over and over again. I did not hear her say anything
    about the Syrian future but the cliché at the end, it is all about
    emotional blackmail and repeating media fabrications.

    • Rafif Jouejati

      Ms. Alkhoury, thank you for your comment. I was responding directly to the questions asked. If VOA had asked me to discuss Syria’s future, I would have happily done so. I suppose I could have gone off-topic, but that’s generally considered bad form.

      • http://twitter.com/Barazi_7urr عبدالسلام البرازي

        Assad supporters don’t like firm and direct answers, they just love cruel and iranian-style answers, and they think that this is diplomatic genius

  • Dr. Ali Muhammad

    Here is a summary of what I said in the interview but VOA felt was not important enough to include in the recording:
    1- The answer regarding the president taking responsibility, and the comparison with Kent State Shooting and Iran-Contra.
    2- The answer about Hamza Al Khateeb.
    3- Daraa Children.
    4- Banias Ambush April 11th.
    5- WHY I don’t trust the observatory. VOA conveniently let me say I don’t trust it, but they deleted the part when I explain WHY! They completely edited out the part about documented cases that proved to be fabricated, and the part about being documented does not necessarily make it true.

    6- When I mentioned casualties from the other side in my answer regarding responsibilities, and I why is no one interested in who is
    responsible for those? Also another mention of these casulaties has been deleted.

    I guess more than half of what I said did not sound important enough to Davin to be included. I wonder why I was invited in the first place if that’s the case. This also gives me a good idea about how Barbra Walters handled President Assad’s interview. So this is how you run recorded interviews Davin? I am a bit disappointed.

    • JaNo Souria

      Don’t be disappointed Ali, we all know how this is going to be published… the point is, yet they tend to support the other side of Syria in the west.. we should continue debating, arguing, fighting back and supporting our leadership with those so called “credible media”…. Well done my friend… you made us proud…. JaNo

    • http://www.linkedin.com/in/davinhutchins Davin Hutchins

      Ali, we edited this interview for time and cut answers from both you and Rafif. YouTube, our chosen delivery method, has a time limit for videos. You were informed of this before the debate began. That being said we encourage you to continue making your case in this comment stream. It has no technical time limites and as long as you follow our commenting policy, it will not be edited. Keep it respectful and again thank you for participating.

      • Dr. Ali Muhammad

        Well, Dave, I would like Ms. joejati to mention the parts cut out of what she said so readers can compare. Time limitations do not explain why, for example, you left the part when I say I don’t trust the observatory, but cut out the part when i explain why. This way listeners will hear Rafif talking about 4000 documented cases, but they will not hear why this cannot be concrete proof. I am sorry Dave, but I feel that you left the parts when i expressed opinions, and cut out the parts when i stated facts.

        • http://www.linkedin.com/in/davinhutchins Davin Hutchins

          Ali, please state these facts with links if you desire here in this comment thread. You have an audience here. The page is getting a lot of traffic. Regarding the deaths, I think you said it best in that even if one drop of Syrian blood is spilled it is a tragedy. 

          • Dr. Ali Muhammad

            Davin, I could do this and post facts here, yet, I still need an explanation as for why you edited the episode this way. People are still voting based on what they are hearing. A comment below accused me of not having a good grasp on facts. This was only because you edited my facts out. I really need an explanation here.

    • Cecily Hilleary

      Ali, the good news is that even if we have to edit for time, we provide a free forum here for full-transparent dialogue.  I think you’ve hit on most of the points here you feel were cut out for time constraints etc.  But you haven’t explained your issue about the Syrian Observatory–why do you mistrust them? 

      • Dr. Ali Muhammad

        No Cecily, this is not enough. I could go ahead and post facts and arguments here, but this will not make it up for having my point of view under-represented in the recording.

    • http://twitter.com/Barazi_7urr عبدالسلام البرازي

      Pathetic!!
      The zionist VOC did to you exactly as the zionist ABC did to your president interview!!

  • Sbayi

    Mr Ali Mohammad attempts to claim that there is no association between Assad’s fate and Syria’s fate stating the exact opposite of what every single pro-Assad rally goes out to portray. If it were more important that Syria’s future be put on the spotlight than to have to focus on the accountability of the president, then why does EVERY proAssad rally raise as many Assad posters as Syrian flags???? It seems to be just as important to keep Assad in power (which by the way Assad admitted not having when he stated that he has no power over ‘the government’s’ forces) as it is to try to show that they care for the stability of Syria and it’s future.

  • Anonymous

    Syria’s issue cannot be a single answer: You are with Assad or Not?!

    If you are not with Assad, what do you think the way is taking him out? Libya style? 4,000 civilians dead as claimed, highly doubted esp knowing that over 1,200 of these are soldiers! Libya style to protect civilians led to the slaughtering of over 120,000 civilians and a devastated country.

    Who supports Assad, supports his presidency line as to preserve the country, all claims of ‘Shabeeha’ or tanks shelling cities, or whatever nonsense distributed in NATO allied media, warmongering, is totally un-evidenced. Not a single video out of thousands of videos posted (over 65,000 by only one channel) not a single one shows a tank shelling anything, and not a single video out of all of those show a single soldier firing at a protest!!!! Does this tell anything?

    We support Assad because we don’t want a devastated country with millions dead, wounded, displaced, then we receive facts after a couple of weeks of such crime saying, well, it was worth lying to get Assad out.

    If you don’t support Assad, what’s your program post-Assad if he’s out? What’s your plan to oust him? By NATO Aid? Then you preach an occupation by an enemy to your own land, supposedly you are Syrian to start with, then you don’t have another passport of another country, keeping in mind that when you become a citizen of another country you pledge allegiance and swear to protect the interests of your new country, France, USA, UK and other NATO member countries are not friendly countries to Syria, they are enemies to the Syrian people, becoming a citizen of such a country even if you hold a Syrian passport doesn’t give you any right to contribute in the political life of Syria, you swore to serve that new country’s interest. PERIOD.

    Prove to us that there are crimes against civilians by the army or security forces, not by Youtube videos or edited films on TVs, I’ve seen Godzilla ripping major cities in USA, seen also a Tsunami taking out New York on Videos. Testimonies of dissidents are not credible because there’s a conflict of interest. Testimonies of UN Organizations are not credible, we’ve seen Amnesty International apologizing for Zainab Hosny’s story, the lady who was kidnapped by security, killed, chopped, body burnt, handed back over to her family, buried, then after a week appearing on Syria State TV saying she fled her family house because her brothers were mistreating her and she was at her aunt’s house! We’ve also seen the Prosecutor of the international court Okambo claiming that he had Saif Gaddafi in the early days in custody and then appeared to be a big lie, we also didn’t forget Iraq’s WMDs reported by another UN org then. examples are endless.. 

    You want the truth, go there and seek the truth, and don’t lie that foreign media is not allowed by Syrian govt, it’s allowed to enter as we’ve seen Barbra of ABC there, we’ve seen RT, BBC Arabic, Sky News, The Sunday Telegraph.. endless. But all of these are not allowed to publish the truth as they see it, they have to edit their reports in order to serve the main goal of their bosses: Demonize the govt and its leaders, then ask international community to interfere, to ‘Protect Civilians’.

    • Souri Maqhoor

      So according to you either the murderer should stay in power or an occupation great… which is the least evil? As for Zainab Hosny I’m just so appauled you mention her! So Zainab is alive hallalouia…. who is that lady that been maimed and butchered like an animal and given to the family as being Zainab by your own government? Are you serious to bring Zainab issue for the opposition for not being credible? if the name is bothering you then sorry for that HUGE mistake.. but tell me then mr. credible who is that lady? there should be a police report documenting the issue right? an investigation, right? What about Atef Najib who started the whole thing in syria piled with the stupiditiy of the government and its head that ignited the entire revolution; why he is not in jail? I’ve seen the truth through my arrested friend, through Dr. Ibrahim Othman that been killed by Assad forces, by Hamza Al-khateeb the 13 year old boy, by Hager the 10 year old girl…. in they eyes of those infants…..

      I’ve seen it in the Baida incident that your official TV claimed it to be in Iraq, oh and the fake cities in Doha Qatar as you claim… shame on you… you think we rely on Aljazeera or BBC or RT or even your favorite TV Al Dunia? we went in and out we saw with our own eyes the crimes Assad forces did. We rely on the countless phone conversations with families and friends and the bullets irrupts then later on we see it on videos… The only criminal loose on the streets are those of Assad forces and THAT’s the fact

    • Souri Maqhoor

      So according to you either the murderer should stay in power or an occupation great… which is the least evil? As for Zainab Hosny I’m just so appauled you mention her! So Zainab is alive hallalouia…. who is that lady that been maimed and butchered like an animal and given to the family as being Zainab by your own government? Are you serious to bring Zainab issue for the opposition for not being credible? if the name is bothering you then sorry for that HUGE mistake.. but tell me then mr. credible who is that lady? there should be a police report documenting the issue right? an investigation, right? What about Atef Najib who started the whole thing in syria piled with the stupiditiy of the government and its head that ignited the entire revolution; why he is not in jail? I’ve seen the truth through my arrested friend, through Dr. Ibrahim Othman that been killed by Assad forces, by Hamza Al-khateeb the 13 year old boy, by Hager the 10 year old girl…. in they eyes of those infants…..

      I’ve seen it in the Baida incident that your official TV claimed it to be in Iraq, oh and the fake cities in Doha Qatar as you claim… shame on you… you think we rely on Aljazeera or BBC or RT or even your favorite TV Al Dunia? we went in and out we saw with our own eyes the crimes Assad forces did. We rely on the countless phone conversations with families and friends and the bullets irrupts then later on we see it on videos… The only criminal loose on the streets are those of Assad forces and THAT’s the fact

      • Anonymous

        I’m seriously not responsible for your misinformation, brainwashing or 

  • Dr. Ali Muhammad

    VOA also edited the part about Daraa Children, and the part about the events in Banias on April 11th. Thinking about it, half of what I said is not in the recording!

  • Rachelle

    ((Al Assad is killing unarmed protestors)) this is a fake image of what’s happening is Syria , most of
    people were mislead by media that the uprising included
    millions of Syrians eager to win their freedom . as a Syrian , when the
     so-called revolution started ,I strongly supported the regime of Bashar Al Assad
    because we found out that these fake freedom seekers all they want is a
     decent place in government , all they care about is promises of fortunes and decent offices
    if they make Al Assad step down , or they have the dream of an islamic leadership on which 70% of the uprising insisted , as a main
    demand . And of course , Ms. Jouejati is repeating
     what Media is saying about the recent events in Syria , exaggerating and making
    the regime look like a bunch of  merciless killers while the (unarmed protestors)
    were actually  in the most cases armed and we witnessed it in all parts of syria , and anyone who
    is in syria and says they are peacful and unarmed , is definitely lying or has a personal issue with the government
    or follows the Islamic Brotherhood which is forbidden to form a party in Syria

    The government of Al Assad protects Syria from falling apart and becoming 5 or 6 independant provinces of different religious sects
    and believe it or not , who you call a killer has the 2nd largest popularity in the world after Chaves who took the 1st , with more than 80% of syrians
    supporting and trusting him.

  • Dr. Ali Muhammad

    Also, VOA chose to edit out ALL my response about Hamza Al Khateeb. I mentioned the forensic doctor who appeared on the Syrian TV with photos of Hamza’s dead body the time it was brought to the hospital. The photos were clear, and there were no signs of torture. I also mentioned that anyone who would like to judge this case should read just ANY book in forensic medicine and compare the signs of decay to those found in the footage showing the little kid’s body. I also said that this does not make any less regrettable that a kid was killed, but the bigger crime was abusing his story in that ugly manner.

    VOA also chose to edit this part out.

    • http://www.facebook.com/thayr.alflah ثائر الفلاح

      At least let us not debate the facts that everyone agree on and that Hamza Alkhatib:

      1- Was just a 13 Y.O child2- Was not armed when he was arrested3- He didn’t belong to an armed militia or armed gang4- Was arrested ALIVE by the Syrian Security Forces5- Was held captive for over 25 days at a security detention branch6- Was returned dead to his familyAlso is a fact that Syrian government track records testify to the fact that it does not have the ethical standards of not to arrest and torture children. Let us not forget that the Syrian revolution was sparked by the arrest and the torture of 15 boys between the ages of 10 and 15 

      • Dr. Ali Muhammad

        Saer, Thanks for your input.
        Could you please tell me how you are so sure that these are the facts? I for instance know for sure he was not arrested alive. He was, regrettably, shot during the events in a small town new Daraa. He was brought to the hospital dead, and a report was issued the same day he was received at the hospital in Damascus with pictures of his dead body.
        He was not tortured or mutilated. In my answer that VOA chose to edit out, I explained that the fact he was not tortured does not make his case any less tragic. It is still a crime, and the one who committed it should be brought to justice. But the even bigger crime was the way his story was exploited in the media and by the Syrian opposition.

        • http://www.facebook.com/thayr.alflah ثائر الفلاح

          Yesterday, Friday  December 9th,  in my home town Alsanamain in Horan-Daraa Eman Alloush إيمان علوش, a 12 years old girl died with a bullet that was fired by a Syrian Army’s soldier who is serving in the 9th Division. He got his orders to fire on the unarmed protesters by his division’s commander, who in turn, got his order from the Commander in Chief, the President Bashar Al Asad.

          I hold no one responsible to this crime other than Bashar Al Asad, the criminal and the children killer!

          Dr. Ali, you are defending nothing but a criminal and a butcher who killed and willing to kill many Syrians just to stay in power!

          • http://www.syria-tribune.com Dr. Ali Muhammad

            Dear Saer,
            As concerned citizen, you are of course at liberty to hold the president responsible for any unfortunate event happening in the country. Me, as a concerned citizen as well, is also at liberty to question these accusations and ask for concrete evidence, both to the allegation that the Army killed the girl, and if that’s true, to the allegation that there were orders from his superior. I know for a fact that a large number of soldiers and policemen were killed by armed groups. Hundreds of pro civilians were also killed, some after having their names published on opposition pages. I would like to see some opposition figures try to track responsibility for those as well.

            As for your emotional statement about me supporting a butcher, you need to carry it with a large portion of Syrians who Support president Assad, and disagree with your description of him.

          • Rafif Jouejati

            Ali, do you deny that members of the regime’s armed forces have killed peaceful protesters? Do you deny that soldiers have defected rather than shoot at unarmed civilians?

          • http://www.syria-tribune.com Dr. Ali Muhammad

            Rafif, I know for a fact that the observatory counts militants killed in battles as peaceful protesters. As I said previously, both sides suffered unfortunate casualties. As I stated clearly in our debate, I do not deny that innocent people from your side lost their lives. On the other hand, I did not hear anything from you regarding the other group of innocent people killed by armed groups. I just find it unfair that some Syrians’ lives are considered more important than others.

          • http://www.facebook.com/thayr.alflah ثائر الفلاح

            He is not just a butcher!
            He is a war criminal who commanded a gang of thugs headed by his own brother Maher, his sister’s husband Asef Shawkat, his maternal cousins and other relatives that brutalized and terrorized the Syrian people monopolized the Syrian national resources!
            I promise you that the day when all of them will be prosecuted and brought to justice is very near!

          • http://www.syria-tribune.com Dr. Ali Muhammad

            Dear Saer,
            Again, what would you say to people who disagree with you on this? To build a new country, the first thing we should consider is how to learn to accept that our point of view is not the only valid one. It is funny that I need to say this to you. You claim to support a pro-democracy revolution.

          • Amoral1975

            this not matter of opinion, this matter of justice something that may you do not know what is mean

          • http://www.syria-tribune.com Dr. Ali Muhammad

            I am hoping we can keep this conversation civil, with no personal attacking. What you express as a matter of justice is expressed by other Syrians as a matter of national security. This is why we all need to sit and talk. This is why dialogue is the only solution my fellow Syrian.

          • http://www.facebook.com/thayr.alflah ثائر الفلاح

            A list of possible reasons why the children of Daraa had their nails pulled put:

            A-They wrote a graffiti on the school wall.
            B-When they were processed in the Mukhabarat jail they found that they had long nails.C-They didn’t right their homework that day.D-It was a matter of Syrian national security.

          • http://www.facebook.com/thayr.alflah ثائر الفلاح

            A list of possible reasons why the children of Daraa had their nails pulled put:

            A-They wrote a graffiti on the school wall.
            B-When they were processed in the Mukhabarat jail they found that they had long nails.
            C-They didn’t write their homework that day.
            D-It was a matter of Syrian national security.

          • http://www.facebook.com/thayr.alflah ثائر الفلاح

            A list of possible reasons why the children of Daraa had their nails pulled put:

            A-They wrote a graffiti on the school wall.
            B-When they were processed in the Mukhabarat jail they found that they had long nails.
            C-They didn’t write their homework that day.
            D-It was a matter of Syrian national security.

          • http://www.facebook.com/thayr.alflah ثائر الفلاح

            A list of possible reasons why the children of Daraa had their nails pulled put:

            A-They wrote a graffiti on the school wall.
            B-When they were processed in the Mukhabarat jail they found that they had long nails.
            C-They didn’t write their homework that day.
            D-It was a matter of Syrian national security.

          • http://www.syria-tribune.com Dr. Ali Muhammad

            Dear Saer,

            I do understand the anger and frustration you are coming from. The recent events are too much for us all to endure. Yet, they should not make us shift priorities when it comes to the future of the country. My priority remains the well being of Syria, and my decisions are all made based on where I see this well being.
            Regarding the children you mentioned in your comment: We all know that protesters controlled Daraa completely for about a month. A month in which they posted thousands of videos and photos. Yet, they did not manage to post a single thing about these children with broken hands and pulled off nails. This makes me pretty skeptical about this my friend. I find it difficult to believe that they could manage to track down any of those children they claim to have revolted for.

          • Souri Maqhoor

            Dr. Ali,

            It is not anger; it is our right to question the president to prosecute him.. it is not a matter of national security.. syria is a matter of national security and for the best interest of syria if he has a slice of respect towards himself he should resign the least… This argument doesn’t fly any more Dr. Ali… في مثل بالشام بيقول حارتنا ديقة و بنعرف بعضنا so please give me a break for instance about Hamza alkhateeb that he was not tortured ok.. other doctors said that he was tortured and they were syrian doctors as well and not just one… so I guess I would say debate that matter with those doctors not us. People on the ground don’t want him period. to stop all this he can merely resign and we can have a free election observed by the ARABS so you want jump and tell me mou2amara.. this way syria will avoid a more disasterous concequences

          • Souri Maqhoor

            Dr. Ali,

            It is not anger; it is our right to question the president to prosecute him.. it is not a matter of national security.. syria is a matter of national security and for the best interest of syria if he has a slice of respect towards himself he should resign the least… This argument doesn’t fly any more Dr. Ali… في مثل بالشام بيقول حارتنا ديقة و بنعرف بعضنا so please give me a break for instance about Hamza alkhateeb that he was not tortured ok.. other doctors said that he was tortured and they were syrian doctors as well and not just one… so I guess I would say debate that matter with those doctors not us. People on the ground don’t want him period. to stop all this he can merely resign and we can have a free election observed by the ARABS so you want jump and tell me mou2amara.. this way syria will avoid a more disasterous concequences

          • Souri Maqhoor

            Dr Ali, it is a shame that you support such actions: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=14Vq5UEWmxU&feature=related

          • Souri Maqhoor

            Dr Ali, it is a shame that you support such actions: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=14Vq5UEWmxU&feature=related

          • Souri Maqhoor

            Here is a video documents the kids that been killed by Assad forces and if you don’t believe it go ask their families for a change: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G8X8FEcB128

          • http://www.facebook.com/thayr.alflah ثائر الفلاح

            The only one who would disagree of being prosecuted are the accused who committed the  crimes, their partners in crime and the people who would justify these crimes against humanity in the name of national unity and national security. and of course I totally disagree with them. But I promise you this: I will not ask the new democratic Syrian government to arrest them or arrest their children and pull their finger nails out like what the current government  is doing.

          • http://www.syria-tribune.com Dr. Ali Muhammad

            Could I beg to differ? There are other categories who would reject prosecution. Here are two examples: Those who think they are being prosecuted for who they are not what they did, and those who think the court is not fair or not qualified. We have witnessed large numbers of fabrications during the past few months. You can read about this on my website. To me, and to many Syrians, this is enough to believe that what is happening have a hidden agenda.
            Building a democratic Syria should not start by alienating all those who don’t think this movement will end up building democracy my friend.

  • Dr. Ali Muhammad

    In my answer to the question of whether or not the president should accept responsibility, I gave examples from the American history where presidents did not come on TV accepting responsibilities for events that took place “on their watch” as Cecily put it. I mentioned Nixon and the Kent state shooting, and Reagan and Iran-Contra. I wonder why VOA edited that part out. Are we not allowed to talk about the US?
    Why should President Assad be expected to do more than an American president is? Why don’t we see Bush Jr on TV accepting responsibility for “his” forces actions in Iraq? What about “his father” and the Ameria shelter in Baghdad?

    VOA chose to edit this part out for some reason.

    • Rafif Jouejati

      Ali, I was there when VOA told you events at Kent State U. were not relevant to the debate, and they asked you more than once to get back on topic. I suspect they edited this part of the debate to help you avoid the kind of embarrassment that comes with bringing in irrelevant, and frankly, silly examples. However, since you insist on highlighting that part of the conversation, here are some important facts to keep in mind:

      The massacre at Kent State University happened in 1970, not 2011. Nine people were killed, not thousands. It was the Ohio National Guard that fired on the unarmed, not the entire U.S. Department of Defense. Nobody was hauled off to detention facilities to be tortured. Citizens who protested the events, and musicians who wrote songs to commemmorate the dead, were not arrested. Nobody was prosecuted for “undermining the morale of the state.”

      And oh, by the way, unrelated to Kent State but related to the Nixon administration: after the Watergate scandal broke out, Nixon had the decency to RESIGN before he could be impeached. Want to keep drawing comparisons to Nixon?

      I think VOA actually did  you a favor.

      • Dr. Ali Muhammad

        Rafif, I appreciate you taking the time to answer here. It is still my decision to select what to use in my argument, and people could judge as they see fit. It is unfair that VOA should decide for me.
        It is true that Nixon had the decency to resign after Watergate, but Reagan, my other example, did not follow his example after Iran Contra. Bush Jr did not either after his lies about WMDs in Iraq and after Guantanamo.
        As for Kent State U shooting, I am not sure we could consider 9 people a small number. Shooting one person is just as bad as shooting 100. It is still a crime. It was in fact the Ohio National Guard that shot students at Kent, but this was not an isolated situation. A friend from Harvard told me that he was a student at that time, and he witnessed the police ready to fire in his university.

        • Rafif Jouejati

          Ali, we need a reality check. We are not talking about Nixon, Reagan, or Ohio State University in the 1970s. We are talking about Syria, Assad, and 2011. We have documentation on close to 5,000 Syrian deaths. It’s time to recognize that Syria has changed, and is ready for a change in government. As Assad said, any government that shoots at its own people is led by a crazy person.

          • http://www.syria-tribune.com Dr. Ali Muhammad

            You know Rafif, with all due respect, your answer is a very good example of how the opposition handles this crisis in the media. I elaborated on Nixon and the other stories only to answer your point, and now this is a point against me!
            As for the “documentation” of this many cases, and as I said in the cut out parts of our debate, the number of documented cases that were proven to be fraud makes many of us Syrians pretty skeptical about this documentation.Syria has indeed changed, and the shape it will take after this crisis all depends on us, Syrians, and the choices we make. For instance, if you call the President “crazy”, you will be insulting all his supporters, who are quite a lot you know. This will not help build a new Syria based on accepting other people’s political choices. Syria needs a clear path out of this crisis first, and towards the future then. The problem with the opposition is that they are fixated on Assad himself. They don’t seem to care much about the consequences of this fixation. You are a spokesperson for the LCCs. Haven’t these LCCs “coordinated” protests on Fridays such as “The No-Fly Zone Friday” and “The International Protection Friday”? How is foreign invasion good for any country? Can you give me a single example where your allies, the NATO, attacked a country and left it in a good shape afterwards? This is the most important question Rafif!

          • Rafif Jouejati

            The point against you is that you are using irrelevant facts to bolster an indefensible argument.

            With regard to insulting Assad’s supporters, I assure you that I do not care about their feelings. Their continued support of a mass murderer is an insult to the thousands of Syrians – military and civilian – who have been killed under his watch.

          • http://www.syria-tribune.com Dr. Ali Muhammad

            So basically, those who disagree with you do not matter in the future of the country? I like this new kind of democracy indeed.

          • http://www.syria-tribune.com Dr. Ali Muhammad

            So basically, those who disagree with you do not matter in the future of the country? I like this new kind of democracy indeed.

          • Rafif Jouejati

            What are you talking about, Ali? I said I don’t care about pro-Assad supporters’ feelings if I have insulted them. If we could stick to the point we could have an honest debate.

          • http://www.syria-tribune.com Dr. Ali Muhammad

            Let me see if I get this right: You think the large portion of Syrians who disagree with you do so because they support murder, and you don’t care about their feelings, right? Ok here I am sticking to the point as you see. I will leave it to readers to judge this.

            The problem is that the opposition want us to believe they are in for democracy, while the first thing they do is alienate all who disagree with them.

          • http://www.syria-tribune.com Dr. Ali Muhammad

            Let me see if I get this right: You think the large portion of Syrians who disagree with you do so because they support murder, and you don’t care about their feelings, right? Ok here I am sticking to the point as you see. I will leave it to readers to judge this.

            The problem is that the opposition want us to believe they are in for democracy, while the first thing they do is alienate all who disagree with them.

          • http://www.syria-tribune.com Dr. Ali Muhammad

            Let me see if I get this right: You think the large portion of Syrians who disagree with you do so because they support murder, and you don’t care about their feelings, right? Ok here I am sticking to the point as you see. I will leave it to readers to judge this.

            The problem is that the opposition want us to believe they are in for democracy, while the first thing they do is alienate all who disagree with them.

          • Rafif Jouejati

            Ali, once again you have mischaracterized things. People are entitled to their opinions, although it’s difficult for me and millions of other Syrians to accept that anyone can see what’s happening to Syria and still support Assad. I respect people’s right to vocalize their opinion. You asked if I was worried about insulting their feelings, and I told you that I was singularly unconcerned about that. I’m sure they are not concerned about my feelings either. In fact, I have received death threats – not mere disagreemnts – from Assad supporters. One person told me I deserved to have my throat slit, Islamic-style. This was in response to an anti-Assad tweet I had written. For more examples, we could look at blogger Razzan Ghazzawi; she’s in jail. We could talk to political cartoonist Ali Ferzat, whose hands were broken. Ghiath Matar? Dead.

            If you want to talk about alienation of those with opposing opinions, I’d be delighted to engage in an open debate.

          • Rafif Jouejati

            Ali, once again you have mischaracterized things. People are entitled to their opinions, although it’s difficult for me and millions of other Syrians to accept that anyone can see what’s happening to Syria and still support Assad. I respect people’s right to vocalize their opinion. You asked if I was worried about insulting their feelings, and I told you that I was singularly unconcerned about that. I’m sure they are not concerned about my feelings either. In fact, I have received death threats – not mere disagreemnts – from Assad supporters. One person told me I deserved to have my throat slit, Islamic-style. This was in response to an anti-Assad tweet I had written. For more examples, we could look at blogger Razzan Ghazzawi; she’s in jail. We could talk to political cartoonist Ali Ferzat, whose hands were broken. Ghiath Matar? Dead.

            If you want to talk about alienation of those with opposing opinions, I’d be delighted to engage in an open debate.

          • Rafif Jouejati

            Ali, once again you have mischaracterized things. People are entitled to their opinions, although it’s difficult for me and millions of other Syrians to accept that anyone can see what’s happening to Syria and still support Assad. I respect people’s right to vocalize their opinion. You asked if I was worried about insulting their feelings, and I told you that I was singularly unconcerned about that. I’m sure they are not concerned about my feelings either. In fact, I have received death threats – not mere disagreemnts – from Assad supporters. One person told me I deserved to have my throat slit, Islamic-style. This was in response to an anti-Assad tweet I had written. For more examples, we could look at blogger Razzan Ghazzawi; she’s in jail. We could talk to political cartoonist Ali Ferzat, whose hands were broken. Ghiath Matar? Dead.

            If you want to talk about alienation of those with opposing opinions, I’d be delighted to engage in an open debate.

          • Dr. Ali Muhammad

            Dear Rafif,

            Since we agree that people are entitled to voice their opinion, how come you still claim you are talking on behalf of “millions” of Syrians? Have there been a poll that I am not aware of that gave you (as opposition) this right? You could revert to a more rational way of putting it, like saying “many Syrians” or so. But I sure disagree with you claiming you represent millions (again, not you personally, but the opposition).

            As for receiving death threats, I am sorry for that. But you need to realize that death threats came from radicals from both sides to moderate people from both sides, irrespective to order. I and many of my friends received death threats. Some were not lucky, like Dr. Hassan Eid, from Homs National Hospital, who was assassinated after his name appeared on a list published on the Revolution main page and some Coordinating bodies’ pages, accusing him of horrible things that I am 100% sure he did not do.

            The question remains, if the opposition claims to be democratic, why do they confiscate the right of people to speak their opinion. I have not seen a single opposition figure speaking without claiming he/she represents millions. The other important question is: Since the opposition claims to worry about people being killed, why do they support armed gangs such as what they call a free army, and why do they never mention martyrs from the other side?

          • Dr. Ali Muhammad

            Dear Rafif,

            Since we agree that people are entitled to voice their opinion, how come you still claim you are talking on behalf of “millions” of Syrians? Have there been a poll that I am not aware of that gave you (as opposition) this right? You could revert to a more rational way of putting it, like saying “many Syrians” or so. But I sure disagree with you claiming you represent millions (again, not you personally, but the opposition).

            As for receiving death threats, I am sorry for that. But you need to realize that death threats came from radicals from both sides to moderate people from both sides, irrespective to order. I and many of my friends received death threats. Some were not lucky, like Dr. Hassan Eid, from Homs National Hospital, who was assassinated after his name appeared on a list published on the Revolution main page and some Coordinating bodies’ pages, accusing him of horrible things that I am 100% sure he did not do.

            The question remains, if the opposition claims to be democratic, why do they confiscate the right of people to speak their opinion. I have not seen a single opposition figure speaking without claiming he/she represents millions. The other important question is: Since the opposition claims to worry about people being killed, why do they support armed gangs such as what they call a free army, and why do they never mention martyrs from the other side?

          • Rafif Jouejati

            Ali, I would LOVE to do a poll of Syrians and where they stand on this issue. Let’s send in the international monitors with no further delay and no conditions. Let’s get moving!

          • Rafif Jouejati

            Ali, I would LOVE to do a poll of Syrians and where they stand on this issue. Let’s send in the international monitors with no further delay and no conditions. Let’s get moving!

          • http://www.syria-tribune.com Dr. Ali Muhammad

            Even better, I would love to see real elections. So lets’
            sit on a round table, have a proper national dialogue, build a new
            constitution, and all go to elections? Doesn’t this sound much better that “foreign”
            monitors, “foreign” intervention, “NATO” protection, “Turkish” adoption, or
            even the disabled AL initiatives?

          • http://www.syria-tribune.com Dr. Ali Muhammad

            So basically, those who disagree with you do not matter in the future of the country? I like this new kind of democracy indeed.

  • Mariamustafa96

    How come some people support a killer. Bashar Al-Assad is killing the people of Syria.

    • http://www.facebook.com/people/Hiba-Kelanee/100002015930806 Hiba Kelanee

      Because this is an unfounded claim that is far from reality. Bashar al Assad is NOT killing his people. There are armed militants who have been spreading chaos in the Syrian cities and committing violent acts against the Syrian civilians as well as the Syrian army and security personnel.

      Law and order have to be restored. It’s not a case of black and white and definitely not a case of “peaceful protesters being randomly shot at”!!!

      • MagdyBasha123

        @011d74f9d379889723c411e7a04a65d6:disqus Great job!  So eloquent and factual about events in Syria.
        @facebook-100002015930806:disqus May I ask you to take your head out of your ass…  Maybe then  maybe?  You get to see what’s happening in Syria?  Maybe?  Maybe!

        • http://www.facebook.com/people/Hiba-Kelanee/100002015930806 Hiba Kelanee

          Magdy, people resort to insults when they have nothing else to say!!
          Moderator, I’m very disappointed that an offensive comment was allowed to appear! This does not represent a valid debate.. I hope you correct me if I’m wrong!!

          “Debaters must make their case with reasoned arguments and be respectful. No soapboxing”

  • Ottel

    Mr. Ali, has no logic at all, sorry to hear such person, he speaks of one incident without even a prove except his brother told him, and then neglect over 70,000 video shot by armatures from his country most document the killing. State media is good in putting guns on racks and video them as captures from gangs. State media and regime did not show one organization responsible for the killings, Regime claimed a set of collection of orientations of people who never issue a statement for 9 months. Regime and state media and their followers can fool only the fools.  

  • Fehmi Midani

    It is really funny and sad at the same time that Mr. Mohamad clearly said that he did not know who is saying that Al-Qaeda, Islamists, french, Americans, and others are invloved in the inciting of the uprising in Syria. Mr. Mohamad, obviously did not read at anytime Al-Thawra, Tishrin, Baath newspapers, nor did not watch the Dunia or listened to the government run radio. They all claim on  a daily basis what Mr.Mohamad is denying to have heard. Let me remind everyone that Mr. Mohamad works in an online pulication but did not know, see or heard it.
    Enough is enough. Give me break.
    Rafif, your position was eloquent and factual. You are a true professional.

  • Sami Jabri

    Sorry but it is a blind argument by Mr. Ali Mohamed.

  • My

    Rafif all the way

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/William-J-Wallace/1559306578 William J Wallace

    Hands down Ms Jouejati won the debate. She had a clear grasp of the facts on the ground.  Her opponent did not.  He relied on one source in country while Ms Jouejati relied on direct contact with many people witnin Syria.

  • Wayne Wallace

    I have to say Ms. Jouejati won this debate, hands-down. Mr. Mohamed failed to answer many of the questions and did not have a clear grasp of the facts. Relying on his brother a the sole witness disputing the thousands of eye witnesses and he handful of journalists was not terribly compelling.

  • http://www.linkedin.com/in/davinhutchins Davin Hutchins

    Sam, please post your comments in English. Check our commenting policy.