First Person

Syrian Australians at a rally in Melbourne

There is talk of military intervention in Syria. Australia supports the US government policy in regard to Syria. Would the people of Australia support an aggressive stand on Syria if they heard some of these voices, understood the bigger picture?

Most of  these voices can be found on other pages of this blog, but it was considered important to collect them on one page. Not all of the voices present the same viewpoint.


UN Webcast 15 June Major-General Robert Mood (Head of the UN Supervision Mission in Syria) – (part 2 & 3) Questions and Answers from the Press on Syria 
Major-General Mood says it is important to have reporters on the ground in Syria so there is reporting  which can take note of the complexity and nuances.  He speaks of the many agendas involved in the Syrian crisis, which makes it very complicated.  He makes it clear that which parts of his reports are disclosed to the public is up to the UN offices in NY and Geneva.  He explains that the mission is solidly committed to the welfare of the Syrian people, and he urges “those with weapons to prove that they have that agenda as well ,and to take their fingers off the triggers”.   He states that from the sophistication of the bombings in Damascus etc it is possible to conclude that a ‘third  party’ is involved.  Syrians make it clear to him it is a Syrian problem that has to be solved by Syrians. Those feeding the violence with more arms must stop.  He continues that “We shouldn’t focus too much all the time on weapons.” The issue to address is the attitude of the human beings using the weapons. (NB: article by anti-war campaigner in regard to the sources  the UN Commissioner for Human Rights office in Geneva may be basing its Syria stand on: ; and article by former UK politician Robin Cook about west’s support of terrorist groups and the possible consequences for the west at a later date: )
UN Webcast 19 June 2012 Dr Bashar Jaafari, Syrian Ambassador to the UN responds to Major – General Mood’s report to the UN on Syria (General Mood is the head of the UN observers in Syria)
UN Webcast 22 June 2012 Briefing by the Joint Special Envoy for Syria (Kofi Annan) and the head of the UN Supervision Mission in Syria (Major-General Robert Mood)
UN Webcast 30 May 2012 Dr Bashar Jaafari, Syrian Ambassador to the UN  presents some of the results of the  preliminary investigation into the Houla massacre.
UN Webcast 30 May 2012 SUSAN RICE U.S. AMBASSADOR TO THE U.N. SPEAKS AT UN ABOUT SYRIA  – The scenarios for Syria 
UN Webcast 7 June Susan Rice at the UN on Syria and the Annan Plan
UN Webcast 7 June Vitaly I. Churkin (Russian Federation) on Syria – Security Council Media Stakeout 

US Republican Congressman Ron Paul in Congress on 19/6/12 presents reasons for not interfering in Syria


Andrew, a Big Issue vendor and formerly homeless, expresses his feelings about ways to solve the crisis in Syria when approached on the street in Melbourne. August 2011. (On the same page, there is an email from a Syrian who presents his distress about the violence in Syria.)


Jousslin is a Syrian Australian, who was born in Syria and who still has close relatives in Syria. She last returned for a visit in 2010.  She expresses her fears not just for the future of Syria, but also for the future of Australia and the wider world.

Jousslin Monday 11 June 12

In this interview, Jousslin and her mum express their support for Asma Al-Assad.

Jousslin and Mum

Jousslin refers to the danger to not only Syria but the world of the violent ideology of extremist clerics.  Here is one such cleric, Anan Arour, presenting a very clear message to his followers: kill in the most nasty way you can.

In regard to inciting a violent ‘revolution’ in Syria, perhaps the most influential cleric is Sheik Yusuf Al-Qaradawi.  He is based in Qatar and is apparently very close to the Qatari royal family. He presents a weekly program on Al-Jazeera.

(A fairly unsympathetic introduction to Qaradawi:

Sheik Qaradawi speaks to his followers:  In this ‘sermon’, Qaradawi talks about the dangers of female masturbation, and when flogging a girl or woman would be considered acceptable.


The Grand Mufti of Syria, Dr. Ahmad Hassoun, gives a speech the day his son, Sarya, is assassinated in Aleppo, together with his university professor. 31 October 2012.  Dr  Hassoun refers to Sheik Qaradawi’s proclamation to his followers in a broadcast on Al-Jazeera that it is ok to kill 1/3 of the population of Syria if that is what is needed to topple the ‘heretical’ regime.  (Note both Dr Hassoun and Sheik Qaradawi are Sunni Muslims.)


Interview with Sari Saoud’s mother by Syrian TV.  Sari was killed in the street near his home in Homs in November 2011.


RT INTERVIEW WITH DR BOUTHAINA SHAABAN, advisor to President Bashar al-Assad   June 2012  (Dr Shaaban has a PhD from Warwick University in English Literature.)


Asma Al-Assad speaks to a group of overseas women who have travelled to Syria for peace. 2012.


Members of Australians for Syria are interviewed at a rally on 25 September 2011

Syrian Australians in Hobart rally to support peaceful reform in Syria; Linda Youssef explains what they want.

Robert Bekhazi, spokesperson for Australians for Syria, presents his views in July 2011.


Sunday Times interview with President Al-Assad,

President Bashar Al-Assad speaks to Charlie Rose, May 2010


Hillary Clinton and James Baker are interviewed by Charlie Rose, June 2012.


Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov is interviewed about Russia’s position on Syria. 21 June 2012.


The Secretary General of Hezbollah, Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah, explains the criteria which determines his party’s position towards all the Arab revolutions and uprisings. In this video, Sayyed Nasrallah focuses on the protests in Syria, and responds to accusations of double standards against Hezbollah in this regard.

This was an excerpt from an interview of Sayyed Nasrallah by Al-Manar Tv on the 24th of October 2011.



Many Australians who follow events in the Middle East often quote Robert Fisk. In the Australian media, there is little serious discussion or debate about Syria by a variety of analysts. They must be sought. Senator Bob Carr and the Australian government are pursuing a policy based on misinformation (or ‘disinformation’).

An RT report after the Houla massacre with interviews with several analysts.
June 14 2012
The US and NATO have launched a war on Syria by funding and training the terrorists who commit Houla-style massacres in the Arab country, an analyst tellsPress TV.

“This is a war of aggression. It is not necessarily using the instruments of conventional theater wars, which is to come in with artillery and air force and so on, but allied Special Forces on the ground,” said Michel Chossudovsky, a professor at the Center for Research of Globalization, Montreal. 

RT  “CROSSTALK”  June 6, 2012
Will the Syrian crisis spill over the border? Will Lebanon be the first state to feel the repercussions? With Lebanon already hosting thousands of Syrian refugees, the country may see an increase in sectarian tension. Can Syria’s bloody scenario be repeated in Lebanon? CrossTalking with Robert Fisk, Murhaf Jouejati and  Tayfun Gol.



ANALYSING THE SYRIAN SITUATION: PATRICK SEALE (author of many books on the ME, including “Assad; the Struggle for The Middle East” ( )

The conflict in Syria shows no signs of easing, with reports this week that at least 14,000 people have been killed since the start of the revolt against Bashar al-Assad’s regime. The presence of 300 UN peacekeepers appears to have made little difference and British Foreign Secretary William Hague says the Syrian situation resembles Bosnia in the 1990s.


Interview with Middle East expert, writer and activist, Sharmine Narwani on mainstream media reporting of Syria. 29 March 2012.


Paul McGeough, AGE and SMH foreign correspondent, speaks about Syria in May 2012. In the Australian media, Paul McGeough has led the criticism of the Syrian government and president since the beginning of the crisis.


Interview with Ali Hashem, former Al-Jazeera reporter. “No independent Journalism anymore”,  14 March 2012.


Interview with John Bradley, ME expert, author and journalist.

The string of uprisings in the Arab world boils down to Saudi Arabia and Qatar using money and influence to hijack public dissent and bring Sunni Islamists to power, says John R. Bradley, British author and expert on the Middle East.

 John Bradley on ABC The World Today, 20 February 2012.


Witness account of Houla massacres ( this account should be read together with the ones published in the mainstream media which point the finger at the govt and ‘Alawite gangs’ – a recipe for civil war.)
Rallies across Syria to support peaceful reform and to oppose outside interference (the video is very shaky, but stay with it.)
Rallies which support peaceful reform have been held across Syria since the beginning of the crisis in March 2011. They have attracted millions of secular Syrians. Today they are less and less frequent because of the threat of terror. While many in the world outside Syria try to deepen divisions that naturally exist to some extent or other between religious groups, millions of Syrians have gathered at these rallies to show their solidarity for the ‘quiet revolution’ that takes time and the efforts of everyone to transform a country. They declare they will not be part of a civil war engineered by outside forces. Many people at the rallies you see in this video carry pictures of the President of Syria. It’s assumed that they see him as the person best fit to take the country forward. They, I trust, have their reasons for believing this. They, I trust, are intelligent, sophisticated people who are putting their country’s and their children’s future before any ideology that may divide peoples, that brings violence and fear into their neighbourhood.Have a good look at these crowds. These are the people the US, NATO, Saudi Arabia, Qatar want to take war to. Have a look at the videos and images of the men armed, funded and trained by the above countries. If you support military intervention, or if you support your government’s policy on Syria, are you prepared to join those armed men against the wishes of these people? Are you prepared to pull the trigger and kill soldiers, security personnel, ‘pro-Assad’ supporters, ‘pro-regime apologists’ or whatever the rhetoric is to describe people who want to live in peace under a less than perfect system? In our silence or our acceptance of dissembling, we are all – potentially – their executioners.People in Syria must hold on to their hope for peace and their trust in their secular, united nation. Wouldn’t you? Are they wanting too much? Will Hillary Clinton, William Hague, Saudi princes, the emir of Qatar, Erdogan, Obama, jihadists, extremist clerics allow them to live in peace and determine their own future? Will those who work in our mainstream mass media search harder for the truth and present it to us even if it is against the orders of their editors? Will they represent the interests of the ordinary people of Syria, those who are not seduced by the hatred of extremists or the promise of gold from princes and Hollywood dreams? Who have no inclination to kill their neighbour? Courageous, ordinary people. Where do you stand? In the squares across Syria with these people or behind a gun? At the controls of a drone with President Obama? 

Rare footage from inside Syria of the ‘rebel’ fighters  Footage shot by David Enders May 2012 (14:36 mins)

Interview with Deakin University academic Dr Sally Totman soon after the Houla massacre. 29 May 2012.

Rally in Melbourne 25 September 2011


Interview with Ammar Waqqaf Regarding the Crisis in Syria by Carlos Martinez.  Ammar Waqqaf is an independent Syrian political analyst based in England.

Q: Why do you think the western powers are so keen to see regime change in Syria?……………


Interview with Australian academic, Dr Jeremy Salt, author of “The Unmaking of the Middle East”,

Dr Salt is interviewed by Russia Today about ‘who is killing whom in Syria’.  January 2012.  (Note the image on the RT page is not from Syria, but from Libya, presumably of Libyan rebels.)

Dr William Stent, a former La Trobe University academic and an development economist with a lot of experience of the work of NGOs in developing countries presents his views on Amnesty International’s Syria campaign.

The interviews of these two men were shown on Syrian TV. They were involved in the killing of soldiers and security personnel last year.  WARNING: There is some disturbing graphic footage included in the video of the activities they were involved in.


A Syrian Australian woman talks about her fear and the stories of terror in Syria when she stayed there for 7 months with her children in 2011.

Mother Agnes Interview in Melbourne 1 July 2013


Robert Bekhazi, a spokesperson for Australians for Syria, was interviewed on 6/6/12 for this blog. He speaks here about the experience of the Christian communities in and around Homs, Syria. Tens of thousands of Christians have been forced to leave their homes and to become refugees in their own country or neighbouring Lebanon. Who has terrorised them to such an extent that they would flee their homes.  When will Australia feel the repercussions of this? A local minister of religion has met Australian Immigration officials to alert the government to the dire situation of Christians in Syria. How did it get to this point? What will the fabric of the ME be without its indigenous Christian population? Damascus without Christians?

Interview with Robert B.

In this follow up interview, Robert Bekhazi stresses that people from all religious groups – Sunnis, Shias (including Alawi), Christian, Druze etc – are potential targets of Salafi jihadists and other groups who are using terror tactics in Syria. He also remarks on the remarkable courage of the Syrian people as they make every effort to stay united against  terror and foreign interference in Syrian affairs.

Interview with Robert B. (2)

In the interview, Robert mentions a talk given by Hilary Clinton in which she refers to the US support for the jihadists in Afghanistan. She says, “be careful what we sow because we will harvest”.  She acknowledges that the US recruited fighters from Saudi Arabia.

Interview with Robert Bekhazi on ABC 774 Melbourne, the Richard Stubbs Drive Show

Richard Stubbs takes the time to talk to people who know about what is going on in Syria in an attempt to broaden our understanding of the issues the country is facing.

  • Dr Benjamin McQueen is from the School of Political and Social Inquiry at Monash University.      Robert Bekhazi is a Lebanese/Australian who imports alcohol and kitchenware from Syria and Lebanon.

Robert Bekhazi took part in a panel discussion on the question of military intervention in Syria at Melbourne University Graduate House.  The discussion was organised by the Monthly Argument.  Arthur Dent (previously known as Albert Langer) spoke strongly in favour of NATO intervention in Syria.  His views are fairly well represented on this blog:


Sheik Adnan Arour, a Syrian cleric based in Saudi Arabia who presents a weekly program on a satellite TV channel, calls on his followers to kill …. in order to topple the heretical Alawi regime.


Reverend Adib Awad on Syria

Revd Adib Awad is General Secretary of the National Evangelical Synod of Syria and Lebanon.  He was raised as a child with Bashar Al-Assad and knows him well. Adib insists Qatar and Saudi Arabia along with the US are funding mercenaries from Libya and Iraq to attack civilians in Syria and that the army are not responsible.

He is convinced the President enjoys the support of at least 75% of Syrians.

Reverend Awad examines the crisis from its beginning. He offers an interesting perspective as his brother has been a political prisoner in Syria.

This interview is from earlier this year. It offers a Christian perspective of the President and the regime and challenges the usual claim that Christians support the president purely out of fear for their community’s future.

Jean-Clément Jeanbart, Archbishop of Aleppo, Syria

As violence continues in Syria, the Christian community has kept relatively silent. But the Catholic Archbishop of Aleppo, Archbishop Jean-Clement Jeanbart tells France 24′s Annette Young that while he believes President Bashar al-Assad is a good man, he fears time is running out for the Syrian leader.


Mother Agnes Mariam of the Cross

The media announces to us with a lot of bravura that in the ashes of the dying Arab world a son has been born whose name is Revolution. With America as his midwife, the United Nations and the Arab League his godmothers, presided by France and England, the newborn has been declared a legitimate child by the international community. His father is Arab anti-nationalism, and his mother is liberty. To be acknowledged as legitimate he had witnesses in his princely cousins in the Persian Gulf and Qatar. The kindhearted international community engages in protecting this newborn against all evil, even at the cost of an intervention or bombing which will always be strictly humanitarian.

Mother Agnès-Mariam de la Croix
and the monastic community of the Unity of Antioch, Qara – Syria

Mother Agnes Mariam’s voice is heard in this interview on an Irish radio station. It was recorded after the Houla massacre. Mother Mariam lives in a community near Homs, and she has been very active in mediating between the government and opposition. However, she presents a very bleak picture of the current chaos.

Friday 8th June:  unrest in Syria

the situation for Christians in Syria, from those who have been monitoring that community


September 2011 interview with an Italian anti-war activist Marinella Correggia about Libya, NATO, Afghanistan, Syria etc.


Members of the “Third Current” discuss their position on the government and the militarised opposition; May 2013.

Voices from Lebanon and Syria, May 2013
The story of a Christian Syrian

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