Posted: 06 Dec 2011 11:12 AM PST

There is no state on earth that will not use the misfortune of its neighbour for its own benefit. It’s a fundamental tenet of international relations (at least in realism) that states are self-maximising agents that constantly scheme against each other. In the Middle East, Syria took advantage of the turmoil in both Lebanon and Iraq for its own advantage, as did Iran. So why is it such a surprise that the Gulf states would seek to capitalise on the turmoil in Syria? And what on earth does that have to do with forcing the Syrian regime to stop killing its citizens?There are some intellectuals, activists and writers who, blinded with their hatred for the West, are incapable of uttering a single word of condemnation against the Assad regime in Syria, that has killed over 4,000 of its own citizens, all because they fear this would weaken the “resistance” project against the Israeli state. I simply don’t understand what could be more important than stopping this senseless bloodshed, taking place solely to maintain a police state that has treated its own people far more ruthlessly than the “Zionist enemy”, which has bombed the country freely and without retaliation over the past number of years. It is this hypocrisy which is far more blatant than the obvious Gulf Arab bias towards the Syrian revolution at the expense of the crushed Bahraini one.

For After Prison, There is Only the Glory of a Rising DawnPosted: 05 Dec 2011 04:13 PM PST

Here is a beautiful poem written in 1922 by Najib al Rayess. I’ve never been able to find a rendition that does it justice, and so I will just put down the poem, and try to translate it in English as best as I can. When I hear that more and more people that I know are getting imprisoned, these are the first words that come to mind:

 يا ظلام السجن
كلمات: نجيب الريس (1922)يا ظلامَ السّـجنِ خَيِّمْ إنّنا نَهْـوَى الظـلامَا
ليسَ بعدَ السّـجنِ إلا فجـرُ مجـدٍ يتَسَامى

أيّها الحُرّاسُ رِفـقـاً و اسمَعوا مِنّا الكَلاما
مـتّعُـونا بِـهَـواء منعُـهُ كَـانَ حَرَاما

إيـهِ يا دارَ الفخـارِ يا مـقـرَّ المُخلِصينا
قدْ هبطْـناكِ شَـبَاباً لا يهـابـونَ المنونا

و تَـعَاهدنا جَـميعاً يومَ أقسَـمْنا اليَـمِينا
لنْ نخونَ العهدَ يوماً واتخذنا الصدقَ دِيـنَا

يا رنينَ القـيدِ زدني نغمةً تُشـجي فُؤادي
إنَّ في صَـوتِكَ مَعنى للأسـى والاضطهادِ

لـسـتُ والله نَسـيّاً ما تقاسِـيه بِـلادِي

فاشْـهَدَنْ يا نَجمُ إنّي ذو وفــاءٍ وَ وِدادِ
Oh the darkness of this prison, descend on us for we love the dark;
There is naught after imprisonment but the glory of a rising dawn

Oh guards, be gentle, and listen to our words;
Deny us not this air, for banning it is a sin

Oh land of pride and home of the loyal;
We the youth have arrived, and fear no death

And we had all promised, the day we gave our oaths;
To remain true to our word and took truth for our creed

Oh ringing chains, sing me a song to raise my spirits;
For your voice gives meaning to oppression and hardship

By God I have not forgotten what my country suffers;
So bear witness, oh stars, that I remain faithful and loyal