Cruelty and Silence


The times how they do change. This evening, the Lebanese Broadcasting Corporation, Lebanon's leading television station, which used to much more subtly toe the line set down by Syria, is interviewing former Lebanese prisoners held in Syrian jails. The tales are all too familiar in a region where dehumanization and brutality are the norm–years of incarceration in appalling conditions (five years in solitary confinement for one prisoner), beatings, successive days of torture, humiliation, attempted suicides, extortion ($30,000 paid by relatives of one prisoner to a senior Baath official, Abdullah al-Ahmar, to secure a release), and much more.

A tale of cruelty and silence, to paraphrase Kanan Makiya, and one most probably continuing for Lebanese prisoners, and definitely for countless Syrians who invariably remain the main victims of the sinister kleptocracy in Damascus.

NEXT: Last Flight from Saigon

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  1. [Insert obligatory Abu Ghraib smack here]

  2. Micahel,
    For all your concerns about arab freedom and democracy, I’m surprised that you rarely, if ever, mention the jailed Saudi reformists and other political prisoners. Where is the love? Or is it only reserved for people jailed by regimes on the neo-cons list?

  3. a,

    Young lives in Lebanon. Does that answer your question?

  4. The Real Bill:

    Young lives in Lebanon. Does that answer your question?

    No it doesn’t. If he only writes about Lebanon then I would understand. Iraq is as far (or near) to Labanon as Saudi Arabia.

  5. No it doesn’t.

    Oh, do please learn to use your brain. Young has written a lot about Iraq for the same reason every journalist from every corner of the political spectrum has: because the United States invaded it and is occupying it.

  6. “Oh, do please learn to use your brain. Young has written a lot about Iraq for the same reason every journalist from every corner of the political spectrum”

    How about Iran?

  7. How about Iran?

    What about Iran? I don’t understand what you’re asking. Young doesn’t write much about Iran outside of discussions of its involvement with Lebanese politics and terrorism.

    This entire discussion is idiotic. You appear to have this weird believe that “neo-con” = “George Bush”. Go visit any of the major weblogs that get painted with the label of “warblog” or “neo-con” — National Review, Instapundit, LGF, etc. They are all, without exception, strongly anti-Saudi. So the belief that Young would be avoiding discussion of Saudi Arabia because it’s not “on the neo-con list” could only be held by a person stupid enough to not realize that Saudi Arabia IS “on the neo-con list”.

  8. oung doesn’t write much about Iran outside of discussions of its involvement with Lebanese politics and terrorism.

    This is bullshit. He writes about oppression of the mullahs of their own people. Go back to his writing in this web site. My point is Young, Bush, the neo-cons, and apparenlty you, talk a good talk about democracy and freedom when in reality they care less about if the people of the middle east are oppressed or not. When they are faced with a regime they don’t like, then, they start talking about democracy and freedom and other bulsshit.

  9. wow, a, welcome to the real world! Your opinion and Michael Young’s do not agree, and so you’re bitching becasue he has a wider readership than you do?

    So we should do nothing as a country unless we are equally impartial to all sides? Since when are other countries part of the US and should be treated with equality that we reserve for our states and citizens?

    Come on, flame me and then go back you your little college discussion group and complain about the real world to your entitled upper middle class cronies who are oh so enlightened with their concerns!

  10. Young was quoted as “in the know” in a great piece in the New York Times yesterday. I bet all of the info in the piece would be news to “a”.
    “Bush, the Great Shiite Liberator
    by Lee Smith

    “The murder immediately threatened the stability of Syria – not something the White House is seeking at this time – because the Saudis deemed the Syrian Alawite regime to be responsible for it, and the Alawites are a somewhat esoteric offshoot of Shiism. Hence, the Saudi royal family, as Michael Young wrote in The Daily Star, an English-language Lebanese newspaper, is now eager for “regime change in Damascus.” That would both redress the crime and restore Syria’s Sunni majority to power, tipping the regional scales back in favor of the Sunnis.”

    Elsewhere in the piece:

    “To be sure, any sort of democratic government in Iraq is groundbreaking. But after nearly 1,400 years of Sunni-dominated Islamic history, for a predominantly Shiite government to preside over an Arab state is utterly revolutionary.

    Coming in the same week that the last Syrian troops withdrew from Lebanon, which is 40 percent Shiite, the developments in Iraq seemed likely to have repercussions that the Middle East will feel for some time to come – in ways that even the sagest observers cannot foresee.

    In the Arab world, Shiites have largely been second-class citizens since A.D. 656, when Hussein, a grandson of Muhammad, was tortured and beheaded after a climactic battle with the Sunnis. That social order persisted through Mongol invasions, the Ottoman Empire and British occupation, until now. ”

    I thought the left was supposed to be about getting justice for second-class citizens. Maybe “a” isn’t leftist at all, just a reactionary who sees hypocrisy and neocons everywhere.

    Elsewhere in the piece:

    “The rise of the Shiites is normally ascribed to the American push to democratize the Middle East. But many Middle East experts and intelligence analysts, like George Friedman, author of “America’s Secret War,” say it is more directly the result of the Bush administration’s strategic planning for its global campaign against terrorism. The idea, they say, is to use regional threats like the Shiites to gain leverage over some of America’s Sunni allies, especially Saudi Arabia, and force them to crack down on home-grown Islamic radicals and preachers.”

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