16.6.11

Tom MacMaster, Britta Froelicher, The Guardian, Academia, And the Much Wider Web Of Deceit Behind Gay Girl In Damascus

I never believed in the authenticity of the Gay Girl in Damascus, neither the persona nor the blog, despite reading her praise across blogs and mainstream western news outlets. As an Arab, I immediately knew that the Gay Girl character was false and intended for western audience. Her narrative was superficial and dissonant. However, many who badly wanted regime change in Syria, from The Guardian to Academia, uncritically believed and promoted her story. I will tackle The Guardian's role in this before moving to Academia.


Her famous post 'My father, the hero' smelled fishy. Why would security officers storm her house and leave after an argument with her father? Don't they have other urgent things to do? And her Syrian father's relaxed attitude about his daughter's sexual orientation seemed disingenous to me. She wrote that for her father it was better to have a lesbian daughter than a promiscuous daughter! There was an obvious western prejudice in this statement about Arab and Muslim men's conceptions of sex. Then came the hiding period. It was said that Gay Girl went into hiding in Damascus fearing for her life. But there was laid before our eyes the first major dissonance in her narrative: how can she hide when supposedly the Mukahbarat (Syrian security forces) have spotted and visited her house and knew her well connected parents? This didn't however bother western journalists and especially The Guardian who, through their correspondant in Damascus, Katherine Marsh, a pseudonym, were covering every move by Gay Girl. The reader can see the role of The Guardian in promoting Gay Girl in this very useful Timeline.

Tom MacMaster, Katherine Marsh, the Gay Girl hoax, and The Guardian


The Guardian journalist in Damascus, Katherine Marsh, a pseudonym and no longer writing for The Guardian from Damascus, describes Gay Girl as an 'unlikely heroine of the Syrian revolt' without ever having a shred of evidence about her existence. Ethan Zuckerman writes on his blog, and I agree with him:
Both citizen and broadcast media got Amina’s story wrong. The Guardian, in particular, has much to answer forthe May 6th story by “Katherine Marsh” lionizing Amina doesn’t mention the reporter never met Amina in person. Given the use of a pseudonym to protect the reporter and a Damascus byline, it’s hard to read the story as anything but a verification of Amina’s identity, implying the reporter met with her subject. As of this morning, the Guardian has run a long story on MacMaster’s identity, but hasn’t amended, corrected or retracted the May 6th story. Today’s story includes an explanation of the initial interview, which I think should have accompanied the original piece: “Katherine Marsh, the pseudonym of a journalist who until recently was reporting for the Guardian from Syria, interviewed Amina by email in May after being put in touch with her by a trusted Syrian contact who also believed the blogger to be real. Marsh said that many steps had been taken to try to verify Amina’s identity, including repeated requests to meet, at some personal risk to the journalist, and talk on Skype.”

We know that until the last minute The Guardian was publicizing the story while doubting the doubters. This is an excerpt from an article by Esther Addley posted on June 9th:
Is A Gay Girl in Damascus a cynical hoax? Days after the mysterious post by Rania O Ismail, concrete evidence that it is all a fiction remains absent. Even the fake photographs and apparently false names are not, in themselves, proof that the story of a lesbian activist in a Syrian jail is a fiction.More than 10,000 people are thought to have been picked up by Syrian secret police since the uprising began, and if Araf is not being mistreated in custody, as repeated commentators have pointed out, there are plenty like her who are. It is common, similarly, for activists to use false names to obscure their identities.
The same Esther Addley conducts through skype a non-interview with Tom, after he had published his non-apology on the Gay Girl blog, and describes him as 'contrite'.

Does the following 'apology' rehashing old orientalist cliches, seem 'contrite' to you?


"Indeed, I enjoyed 'puppeting' this woman in my head," MacMaster said in an "Apology to Readers" .
"I noticed that when I, a person with a distinctly Anglo name, made comments on the Middle East, the facts I might present were ignored and I found myself accused of hating America, Jews, etc. I wondered idly whether the same ideas presented by someone with a distinctly Arab and female identity would have the same reaction"
 "While the narrative voice may have been fictional, the facts on this blog are true and not misleading as to the situation on the ground".

Then, on June 15th, in The Guardian books section, Robert McCrum writes under the title 'Lessons learned from a gay girl in Damascus':
On the plus side, MacMaster's stunt has inadvertently shone a bright light on a murky and shameful aspect of Syrian society. It has also reminded the world of how the Syrian dictatorship has contrived to control the country's press. Crudely, human rights in Syria are now on the international agenda in a way that was not the case before MacMaster/Arraf started blogging.
One doesn't need a better apology for the hoaxer.  Fortunately there are people with brains and Bruce Leimsidor, professor of immigration and asylum law, writes in the comment section in response to Mr. McCrum:
I seriously object to Mr. McCrum's suggestion that the "gay girl" affair was somehow justified because writing an overt fiction would not have been nearly as effective. If there is truly a situation of human rights abuse, that an authentic "gay girl," surely, with a bit of honest journalism, could have been found. Unfortunately, in this situation, fictions are not necessary. But a bit of responsible research is.
Facts, research and honest journalism are all missing in The Guardian coverage of this story.   But The Guardian coverage of the Syrian revolution 2011 can be seen through the same lens.  The zealous defense The Guardian is displaying in its coverage of the MacMaster hoax has probably to do with their own credibility.  The Guardian has been covering Syria with two correspodants in Damascus reporting under a pseudonym.  The first reporter, Katherine Marsh, was delivering quasi daily reports from Damascus between March 22 and may 9th when she mysteriously stopped reporting and was replaced by a journalist with another pseudonym, Nidaa Hassan.

 Articles published by Marsh in The Guardian between April 25th and April 30th are indexed on The Guardian website, but not on her Journalisted page. Reasons for the absence of the articles on her journalisted page are numerous but only one can possibly explain their absence: her artciles must have been indexed through 'a registration required area' so only one person could register the articles, any other person entering the articles for whomever is responsible for entering them will reveal their connections through IPs and registration identification.

Katherine Marsh's most blogged about article was posted on April 12th and it tells the story of the 9 Syrian soldiers allegedly shot by the security in Banias for not shooting at protesters, a story that was immediately revealed to be false.  None of other Marsh's articles makes it into the headlines and her reporting could have been done by any person outside Syria and Damascus.On May 6th, Katherine Marsh publishes the article that makes Gay Girl widely known and makes Marsh hugely read and cited again. The article is tweeted directly from The Guardian website 254 times and has more than a thousand direct links to facebook, that's less than the false report on the shooting of soldiers in Banias which had 812 tweets and 4457 FB direct links, but a huge increase compared to all other articles which have received very poor social media links.

Around May 5th Gay Girl goes underground for fear of being arrested. On May 9th, katherine Marsh stops reporting from Damascus and Nidaa Hassan starts reporting on May 12th. On June 6th, Rania O. Ismail writes on Gay Girl's blog that Gay Girl has been abducted by men from the Syrian security.  Nidaa Hassan reports for The Guardian about the kindnapping in two articles posted on the same day (here and here). Although the two stories are less tweeted than the two major breakthrough stories of katherine Marsh (the syrian soldiers who were shot at and the Gay Girl blog) they nonetheless regain the thousand mark in facebook links.

I have for a while given some thought as to the identity of katherine Marsh and my curiosity about her identity was prompted by her very bad journalism skills and the absence of some of her articles on the journalisted page. I have previously wrote that Marsh could have been Dorothy Parvaz, after all, The Guardian and Al-Jazeera have both distinguished themselves in their biased and false reporting on Syria. I am now inclined to conclude that Tom MacMaster could have been behind Katherine Marsh. Other than the coincidental evidence presented above, I noted the following: In his first ever interview given to a Turkish journalist from Istanbul, Tom MacMaster, the man behind Gay Girl, said that he knew that things were going out of control when The Guardian contacted him:
I asked him when was the first time he said that things are going out of control, he responded as “when the Guardian contacted me”
To my knowledge, and until the last minute, The Guardian was not interested in knowing the truth about Gay Girl. But after the news broke out about Gay Girl's abduction, news and governmental organisations as well as bloggers (Liz Henry--Ben and Ali--Andrew Carvin) started to search Amina's identity, there was a life on the line and the only people who could have answered for this, because of their supposed commitment to journalistic standards requiring them to check on the identity of the people they write about, were the people at The Guardian, and chiefly Katherine Marsh who interviewed Gay Girl. But when the time for truth came The Guardian has nothing substantial to give to activists and journalists eager to save Amina. This is when they might have contacted Tom MacMaster to try to know something from him.  Tom's admission that things started to go out of control when he was contacted by The Guardian must refer in this case not to official contacts by The Guardian which had only taken place after the news about the hoax broke out in the open on June 13th, but to contacts that must have taken place before the hoax was exposed.

The Guardian knew Tom MacMaster. Was he their contact to Amina? And if yes: Is Tom and Katherine Marsh and Gay Girl the same person? To this day, The Guardian is trying to cover these questions instead of trying to answer them.

Tom MacMaster, Britta Froelicher, The Gay Girl Hoax and Academia

Tom is married to Britta Froelicher, and she, not him, is the one who is studying Syria. We know that Tom loves fiction and writing but what we don't know is what is he studying. I searched all articles and not one mentions his area of studies. On the contrary we know about his wife's area of studies. 

Britta Froelicher is doing her master degree at the Center for Syrian Studies at St Andrews on Syria's textile economy. On June 12th, as the the hoax was unraveling, all fingers were pointed at her. When a Turkish journalist doesthe first ever interview with Tom in Istanbul after his 'apology' on Gay Girl's blog, Froelicher is around and 'nervous'. She has reasons to be nervous, Froelicher was trying to establish herself as a scholar on Syria and an activist on the peace process between Syria and Israel. In 2008,she organised and chaired a conference attended by the Syrian ambassador to the US Imad Mustapha about peace prospects between Syria and Israel and her account of the conference was guest posted on Syria Comment, a widely read blog about Syria.

Syria Comment blog owner, Joshua Landis, is associate professor at Oklahoma University and director of the Center for Middle East Studies at the same university. According to his OU page, Joshua Landis is a frequent radio and TV contributor, his blog is "widely read by officials in Washington, Europe and Syria. Dr. Landis regularly travels to Washington DC to consult with the State Department and other government agencies." Dr. Landis is also an advisory member of the pro-Syrian Revolution 2011, anti-Assad, Washington based Syrian Center for Political and Strategic Studies, along with professor Raymond Hennebusch and Steve Heydemann who are also respectively director and members of the Center for Syrian Studies based at St Andrews in Scotland. The university and the center were in the news in April as the center was accused for having accepted funds from the Syrian regime but it was concluded on May 5th, days after the investigation was launched, that there was no evidence of bias from the center toward the Syrian regime.

This is where Tom MacMaster and his wife Britta Froelicher were based as students this academic year. Froelicher was, until very recently (until the hoax was revealed), affiliated with the center as a Ph.D student, but she was given a leave of absence for the next academic year by the university.

Until the hoax was revealed, Froelicher name appeared on the main page of the center along Landis, Hennebusch, and Heydemann (thanks to an anonymous who provided me with the cashed link to the page on my blog because I was having difficulty following the web pages for the center as they were and are still going a total reshuffle). Later, it has been taken out from the main page and, until June 15th, was relegated to a special category of 'associate fellows' as evidenced by a commentator (number 28) on a blog that discussed the hoax. However, while trying to link again to this special category page today, I got an error message. The page is still however on the web in a cashed link (again thanks anonymous who is still providing me with these links).

Wat is interesting when comparing the CSS web pages was that they moved Froelicher's name form the first page that lists senior academics and associate fellows to the special page category but the people who are of the same category on the special page were still on the main page, except her.  I think I caught the process as they were clearing some pages and restructuring the information on the website, and my guess is that Froelicher's name will not be seen anywhere there in the near future.

We would think that Academics would be more honest than journalists in disclosing their links to this story and its characters, in a way or another, as there is a potential conflict of interest that could affect their academic integrity and credibility. As an academic myself, I find for example Landis's treatment of the story on his blog totally unacceptable especially since some readers of his blog have asked him to disclose and explain some of his links to various interest groups from the Syrian opposition to government agencies...to Froelicher. He never did.

Landis was the first to mention Gay Girl's blog on April 28th, before everybody else:
A new blogger in Damascus who writes like a dream and gives us a wonderful new voice and perspective on life in Syria. Read Amina about her confrontation with two young Alawite intelligence agents – a wonderful account of the successful deployment of “the Damsacus gambit” on Syria’s complicated chessboard of religion, class, gender, patriarchy, and national one-upmanship. Delectable and scary. Thank God it has a happy ending.
After the hoax was revealed, Landis dismissed the story as a 'juicy distraction', without any other explanation.
The real story is not the fake Gay Girl in Damascus – a juicy distraction that has dominated the airwaves for the last two days – but the way so many journalists cannot check their stories before deadlines because they are not permitted into Syria and don’t understand Arabic*.

Yes, but Landis knows Syria, understands Arabic, knows Froelicher and MacMaster, but was never interested in checking the story while wholeheartedly embracing it. And Landis, the academic, had more real links to the couple than The Guardian. But as he never felt the need to disclose his US government consultancy work, Syrian Opposition advisory role, as well as Syrian regime links through the center for Syrian Studies, neither to his readers on his blog, nor to persons he advises and persons from the media who interview him, he still doesn't feel the need to give any explanation about his links to Britta Froelicher and Tom MacMaster.

Is it too much to ask for the truth from those who pretend to inform and enlighten us?

* A reader commenting on this post rightly pointed out to the fact that Tom MacMaster was writing in English and not in Arabic on Gay Girl blog.

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58 comments:

Liz Henry said...

A quick name correction - My name is Liz Henry , and you also get the Guardian journalist's name wrong - it is Esther Addley, not Hadley.

Sophia said...

Thanks Liz for the correction

Anonymous said...

Sophia,

Britta Froelicher's oh-so-recently 'vanished link' as an associate of the Centre for Syrian studies is cached here : http://webcache.googleusercontent.com/search?q=cache:Od8HB-7YJI4J:www.st-andrews.ac.uk/intrel/css/people/associatefellows/+Centre+Syrian+studies+associate+fellows&cd=1&hl=en&ct=clnk&gl=uk&source=www.google.co.uk

Sophia said...

Anonymous,

Thanks again for the second cached link. I will include it in the post. It took me more than seven hours to amass, organise and write this post. And I thnk you for your help.

Syrian Commando said...

Great work Sophia, you are an valorous information warrior!

Syrian Commando said...

I hope Prof. Joshua Landis does the right thing and stops commenting about Syria until things boil over because as of now his words are completely tainted.

Anonymous said...

The risible remark by Joshua Landis that "The real story is not the fake Gay Girl in Damascus – a juicy distraction that has dominated the airwaves for the last two days – but the way so many journalists cannot check their stories before deadlines because they are not permitted into Syria and don’t understand Arabic." does not deal with the failures to cross-check MacMaster's garbage which was primarily in English, and the little Arabic it did contain was marked by errors and an absence of any trace of Syrian dialect. And given that some 'opposition Syrians' are indeed blogging from the Lebanon, Egypt etc, one would think that even more scrutiny should be given to anything that is claiming to be 'on the ground news from Syria'. Has anyone yet claimed to have spoken with MacMaster's creation during the period the hoax was running? Spoken with as in 'voice to voice' ? If so, was a female voice ever used to provide cover for MacMaster, and if the answer is 'yes', who was she? If journalists and bloggers were content to accept 'email or voiceless chat' communications on trust, that is a major failure to establish the credibility of the source. And yes, The Guardian played a key role in this - who was the 'trusted source' who allegedly put The Guardian's 'anonymous reporter' in touch with the hoaxer, and why did The Guardian's 'anonymous reporter' place so much confidence in the reliabilty of that 'trusted source' - given that there seem to be no Syrian sources who are willing to authenticate the hoaxer? Is The Guardian paying people to fabricate news reports or relay propaganda material ?

Sophia said...

Anonymous,

Many good points in your comment above. As for their 'trusted source', I have seen a mention of it in one of Katherine Marsh's articles adn later in Nidaa Hassan's article about gay girl's abduction. But the articles have now been amended and there is no mention of a 'trusted source', not even of any source. My guess is that they erase it. I looked for it carefully.

Anonymous said...

Sophia,

If The Guardian has amended its articles to remove references to a 'trusted source' as being the go-between who put their 'anonymous reporter' in touch with the hoaxer that strongly suggests that there never was any intermediary 'trusted Syrian source' and in all likelihood the 'anonymous reporter' was liaising directly with MacMaster the hoaxer to set up a non-meeting. If the 'anonymous reporter' was willing to embark on a wild goose chase, based only on 'yes I exist' confirmation from the hoaxer himself, that says a lot about just how carefully The Guardian examined its sources. The Guardian could extricate itself from this mess by asserting plainly "We were only deceived because the authenticity of the (hoax) blogger was confirmed to our (anonymous) reporter by X" but their removal of any mention of this alleged 'link person' demolishes their ability to go down that road. Evidently there was no 'X' providing an introduction/vouching for the (hoax) blogger, yet The Guardian opted to run with the unauthenticated, unconfirmed, fantasy all the same.

Anonymous said...

It's also clear that the MacMaster/Froelicher hoax team - and perhaps other connected parties - are monitoring comments on sites like this one, as is evidenced by the rapid suppression of links that people are posting which provide evidence/confirmation of certain facts. The lesson is - if You find a page with evidence on it, save the page before posting about it, because the hoaxers are trying still to remove their Web footprints.

Anne Rettenberg LCSW said...

Hi Sophia,
I hope you're well. I just read some of your recent posts and they are very interesting; I had not been able to make sense of what's happening in Syria...certainly we do not want a replay of Iraq...I've started a new blog but it's a professional blog on mental health issues. Will keep in touch,
Anne (I'm using my real name now)

Sophia said...

Dear Anne,

I have been wondering what happened to your blog. I am glad that you returned to blogging and it will be a pleasure to read you again and to gain from your insight.

Regards,

Sophia

Anonymous said...

Excellent work here. Bravo and a huge thanks.
Even in the 'explanation' Landis offers he lies again, and he knows it. He gives some claptrap about a shortage of translators and access to the country. BS. Landis knows better than that. Landis, and the articles picked up by MSM are widely disseminated because they SUPPORT AN AGENDA- just like the WMDs story did. This was not about being short staffed or naive. These are MULTI BILLION $$$ corporations. They are the publicists for TPTB. Grasp that fact. All else is ancillary.
The Guardian and all of the other MSM outlets that jumped on the anti-Syria campaign were part of a broad calculated PR attack like the demonization of Saddam, Ahmedinjad, Gaddaffi, Assad, Arafat etc etc.
For Gods sake, how many times do they have to pull the same crap before you all comprehend the lie?

Sophia said...

Anne, Anonymous,

I have discovered while following the news on Syria that those who represent the Syrian revolution 2011 lie even more than the regime. Basically, they are waging an insurgency inside Syria and a psychological and propaganda war outside in order to move Assad and replace him by whatever as long as the new regime is compliant. This is how we are seeing a rapprochement between the Syrian Muslim Brotherhood and Israel! The mufti of Lebanon (the white turban on the picture) told the Palestinians recently that they are 'trash'

http://www.jpost.com/MiddleEast/Article.aspx?id=225297

The New York Times is much more restrained here that in its coverage of the running up to the war on Iraq. The Guardian has been publishing fictional story after fictional story since day one on Syria and it seems to me that they will be to Syria what the NYT was to Iraq.

I am 99% sure that Tom MacMaster and Britta Froelicher are not only gay girl in Damascus but also many things including Guardian correspondants in Damascus!

Anonymous,

Excuse my ignorance but what the MSM and TPTB acronyms stand for ?

Syrian Commando said...

TPTB = The powers that be
MSM = Main stream media (or as I call it, sewer stream media)

Sophia said...

SC,

Thanks

Michael said...

Hi Sophia,

Thanks for this great piece and for linking to so many of the pieces of this rotten puzzle.

You should take a look at how Scott Long, the former head of Human Rights Watch's gay programs, had his own sockpuppet:

http://mpetrelis.blogspot.com/2011/06/ex-hrw-lgbt-director-gay-girl-in.html

Sophia said...

Michael,

Thanks for the link to an interesting story.

HS said...

I previously mentioned this page
http://www.bassam-alkadi.com/content/view/584/58/
“”"
As we got closed to the junction of ‘Khan Shayhoun’ …
As the bus arrived to the barrier, we saw that there were about twenty children and teenagers …..

But their hands were never empty!! Because there were bags of ammunition on the chest of everyone and four of them were holding automatic sprinklers (Kalashnikov, Russian), and other three were holding grenades, and the others were waving guns and long reach knives.
“”"

NOW a welcome development as reported by SANA

http://www.sana.sy/eng/337/2011/06/16/353111.htm

“”"
Army units and security forces took positions near Khan Sheikhoun and Maaret al-Numan to prevent the organized armed terrorist groups from blocking the international highway between Aleppo and Hama, ….

“Khan Sheikhoun and Maaret al-Numan families received the Army forces with cheers, ….

… the Army and Armed forces’ leadership urges all families, that left their houses into surrounding farms and villages fleeing the crimes of the armed organizations, to return to their towns and homes and practice their normal life.”

“”"”

HS said...

Everybody remembers the "juicy announcement" of Syrian ambassador's resignation by France24.
Why and who did plan a France24's talk show with the ambassador , apparently the first occurrence , since her arrival in Paris ?
Why and since when is the site of the embassy www.amb-syr.fr down ?

Sophia said...

HS,

There is so much disinformation on Syria.

I read the article you mentioned by El Kadi.

Today, Friday Lunch Club posted a picture of MB with weapons apparently taken by an AP photographer. But I did not see the picture that much in the mainstream western press.

After all, I am not sure that allowing foreign journalists would have been a good thing, western journalists are part of the wars their governments wage because they are not interested in the truth (the obvious example is The Guardian role in the Gay Girl hoax)

HS said...

I was just admiring the quality of the temporary settlement camps in Turkey .
http://blogs.aljazeera.net/sites/default/files/imagecache/blogpostFeaturedImage/images/tents.JPG

They have down in a very short time a very professional job : neat aligned brand new tents with Turkish printed logos ,
high protective fences obstructing any "unauthorized" view,
water and electrical supplies , first class food catering , etc.


Quite an achievement for a totally unplanned operation as the Turkish newly elected government was certainly not expecting such inflow of immigrants from Syria.

Some Turks may object that they are used to such emergency occurrences like similarly unpredictable earthquakes .

Sophia said...

HS,

"neat aligned brand new tents with Turkish printed logos, high protective fences obstructing any "unauthorized" view, water and electrical supplies , first class food catering"

The same thoughts crossed my mind. In most humanitarian crises, it is the other way around, chaos and then neatly aligned tents when one feels that the refugee will be there for a while.

But did you read this? I want your take on it.

http://syriatruth.blogspot.com/2011/06/blog-post_248.html

Jad said...

Sophia, WD, Annie,
You will appreciate this site in French:
http://www.infosyrie.fr/
Check out Adonis interview translated to French, this is why I wrote couple weeks ago that we need 'Philosophers' who we can build our future with, not illiterate ponytail and lunatic MB revenger.
Other wise this unorganized, vision-less and ideology-less movement is on the destructive tracks of not only the regime but Syria as a whole, society and culture.

Sophia said...

Thanks Jad. I know the website. I think sadly Adonis is preaching to the converted because the people who are wreacking havoc on Syria are not interested by the voices of reason.

Jad said...

I believe that the 'voice of reason' needed to be heard and repeated even on deaf ears.
Hopefully the voice of reason will prevail over the voice of destruction and hatred.

Jad said...

Sophia,
Don;t miss on this second master piece of Robin:
http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2011/jun/16/bloodshed-syria-regime-change

Sophia said...

Jad,

He is a zealous propagandist for the MB with a logic twisted by hatred.

Jad said...

I think that you are right.
Did you read his book?

Anonymous said...

A website has started to question who is Wissam Tarif
http://www.planetenonviolence.org/Le-Monde-La-Syrie-L-ONG-INSAN-Qui-Est-Elle-Quelle-Credibilite-Lui-Accorder_a2441.html


(from Mina)

Anonymous said...

HS
The site of the embassy has been down for months!!
Once i got a message from my antivirus "dangerous, infested".

It is not so odd that the Israelis take it down every now and then to help tourism go down (people can't get the information and download the forms). And indeed the embassy is super clumsy so the website has been down for at least 3 months and they don't fix it.

Jad said...

Mina,
Thank you for sharing, It's an interesting article, however, it doesn't have lots to offer regarding Mr. 'funny' identity background and how come he suddenly came out as the west media only hero.
The good thing out of this article that it starts questioning his personality and who is behind him and who finance his 'mission' and how he exclude KSA and Israel from his work.

Anonymous said...

I noted once Jad that there is actually not a single statement available either on Iran or on KSA. It is just to pretend being a real ONG and not only an anti-Syrian lobby.
At least it is a start. The guys of the Electronic Intifada have done a wonderful job for Amina but I admit my capabilities with the internet are not that high. I guess any Lebanese with connections in Argentina would know if there is a Tarif family there.
Anyway with Hariri in Paris now we are just being confirmed that the STL indictment will be published soon. Until then everybody simply waits. (from Mina)

Jad said...

Amina,
That what I meant, it's just the start, hopefully they can expose him.
Regarding STL, with the current political 'weather' I think the blame will be split half/half between (HA/Iran)/(Syria) and I think both sides know that very well.

Jad said...

Dear Mina,
Sorry for the mistake.

HS said...

Dear Anonymous
You said
""
The site of the embassy has been down for months!!

It is not so odd that the Israelis take it down every now .. the website has been down for at least 3 months and they don't fix it.
""

Sorry but you are wrong
Look at the cached page http://webcache.googleusercontent.com/search?q=cache:s1OyJC6ayf0J:www.amb-syr.fr/corps-diplomatique.htm+site:amb-syr.fr&cd=13&hl=en&ct=clnk&client=firefox-a&source=www.google.com

It is a snapshot of the page as it appeared on 28 May 2011 20:57:14 GMT

So what has happened between the 28 May 2011 and "Now" ?
Who did take the site down ?
How ?
Why ?

Anonymous said...

HS
I am not familiar with the internet cache but I was supposed to go to Syria in April, tried their website, and it ws down several times. Then after that, it was not down but my internet browser refused to access it because of some virus problem.
It was not down the day of the ambassador hoax because i checked it to see if there was an announcement there of some sort and it was working.

HS said...

Dear Anonymous,
You said
"
It was not down the day of the ambassador hoax because i checked .... and it was working.
"
I agree .

So, anybody was able to get the email address listed on the site and contact the embassy.

At that time who was "effectively" controlling the embassy's site ?

Not related note :
Is Sevilla far away from Marbella ?

Anonymous said...

HS,

Seville Marbella is 139 km,

for the website, I did mention it was down on the phone in April when I called them and they looked like they know to ask about visas.

The page we see now is a big French provider so probably they are in the process of making a new website (the old one was kind of terrible and they have recently changed address, I mean, the consulate).

Sophia said...

Jad,

No I didn't read his book and I won't.


Jad, Mina,

For Tarif, the Ockham razor explanation is that the US had many agents in south america but won't need them anymore as south america is moving away from US influence. So any of them with an ARab background can be useful to sow fitna with the same methods the US used in south america. Don't expect anyone soon to discover sho he is. Nobody can easily discover the true identity and deeds of a CIA agent.


Take a look at this:

http://en.mercopress.com/2011/02/07/us-condemns-south-american-arab-leaders-summits-say-wikileaks-cables

Sophia said...

Jad, MIna, HS, anonymous,

What is hapenning here, why aren't you commenting on you know where as usual? I posted the link of this article there (in the comment section of the supposedly pro-Assad post) but the professor covered it right away with a meter long collection to very manipulative news articles (as usual), so it got buried and uncommented there.

Sophia said...

Wissam tarif's existence on the web is self referential and his 'humanitarian work' is contradictory as well as his pretension to be a 'Syrian' NGO. Plus if you take into account his access to high level politicians, it tells you that he is likely to be a CIA agent.

Anonymous said...

Sophia (from Mina)
About commenting on your post, it is difficult because the thread cuts with the two protagonists families and their ties to Iraq. Hard to say anything, and I believe many others started to write on Amina's blog recently, maybe not only the couple.
As for commenting on JL website it is often just arguing with a bunch of US teenagers. Wonder if they ever read a paper book.
The whole point now is that everybody is hung to the STL next piece of propaganda. All the events we see are part of the pressures and escalation against Palestine declaring statehood in September. If Palestine goes legal, it will be able to take the Israelis to courts.
I wonder where Hamas stands now between the Turkish Neo-Ottoman MB current and the several Egyptian MB currents.
I still think you are unfair with JL, he posted interesting articles too.
As for WT, I was really amazed with this post of his, and I wonder if he isn't part of the Gay community too, as many others of these infiltrators/puppets.
It was said in the past that Saddam Hussein was a bisexual and that this was one way the US had been able to manipulate him easily.

I quote from http://wissamtarif.blogspot.com
at 16 July 2009:
Sweden at that time was three weeks away from the European Union Presidency. In the Think Tanks they had no real interest, knowledge or studies about The Middle East. They are so much focusing on Sweden. They have managed to do that as political institutions for a long time. And they have done an amazing job but they cannot do that anymore while they are part of the EU political structure and defiantly not when they are in the presidency.

I met parliamentarians from different political parties as well. Three of them sit on various committees including EU and foreign affairs. Those meetings were more productive and sort of relief. Nevertheless while visiting the Foreign Office Press center; a lady from the MENA desk answered angrily some of my boisterous questions stating basically that Sweden does not have a Foreign Policy when it comes to the Middle East. She said they will follow the EU.

I do not think that is destined. And on that matter I will be having more to say but not here. This is neither the place nor the time.

PS: The fifth Swedish participant was born and brought up in Sweden. Nevertheless in the eyes of the writer she is the result of a regionally approved and internationally blessed legal utopian marriage of convenience. The participant is the product of the fathers and the mother of most Lebanese. The rest of The Lebanese are still is sperm stage. Therefore she will be mentioned with the Lebanese participants.

The fathers are : Hassan Nasroulah[i], Al Mufti Kabani[ii], Patriarch Sufaier[iii], Ahmadinejad [iv] . The mother is : Nawal Al Sadawi[v].

[i] Hassan Nasroulah is the religious, political and military leader of Hezbollah, Lebanon. Hobbies: Assassinations, small and big wars, terrifying people, shouting and screaming, praying in public and playing the big hero.

[ii] Al Mufti Kabani is the Muslim Suni highest authority in Lebanon known as Mufti. Hobbies: Praying in public, speaking nicely about the Saudi Royal family, preventing equality legislations from happening.

[iii] Patriarch Sufaier is the Christians Maronite highest authority in Lebanon. Hobbies: Praying in public, preventing equality legislations from happening, appearing on every news channel in the country.

[iv] Ahmadinejad is the lunatic homophobe who stated that there are no homosexuals in Iran. He managed as well to cheat in the last Iranian elections and still proclaims himself the Mullah’s spoilt president. Hobbies: has plenty ranks on top hanging Iranians whom he considers perverts.

[v] Nawal Al Sadawi, a physician, highly reputable feminist activist and writer, who is constantly criticized and threatened by Islamists. Hobbies: No time for leisure activities. The four keeps her very busy and she is Egyptian as well so she has Mubarak and the Muslim Brothers to entertain herself.

Anonymous said...

I can imagine the neocons in DC:
"Can you believe it? We though with Iraq next door we would never be able to spread such a chaos in the Middle East, but with the help of al Jazeera, they just had to see the other guys on TV to take to the streets."
The Arabs have the feeling of saying "we are all Arabs" when it comes to be a hero, but if it is about learning from your cousins mistakes (the Iraqis and Lebanese), forget about them.
(Anonymous you bet)

Sophia said...

Mina,

"I believe many others started to write on Amina's blog recently"

Amina's blog doesn't exist anymore

Mina said...

I meant around March when it moved from exhibitionnist teenager tales to some pseudo-historical articles on Syria's complexity.
I didn't note it was removed. They are busy working under other pseudos now. They'll disappear from the academic circles and reappear in a US army compound somewhere, no worry.

Sophia said...

HS,

Does this have to do with what happened in Iran with the internet virus?

HS said...

I previously asked :
Is Sevilla far away from Marbella ?


Can you not answer in km but in Syrian Pounds ?

I am not INSANe !!

Sophia said...

To all commentators here:

There are people who read this blog and want to know about Syria.

I don't want people who visit here to be confused. I want them t understand the debate. The debate must be public and because it must be public it must be understood by everybody.

There are quite few comments that look like private messages between people here. This is not Syria Comment, and this is not a chat room.

Sorry for having to state things this way and thanks to all of you who are contributing to enrich the debate.


I am asking all of you to write clearly and to comment only when you have new links or infos to add to this debate.

HS said...

Sophia said
""
Does this have to do with what happened in Iran with the internet virus?
""
Did you get my last "unpublished" comment and have a look at the link ?

Sophia said...

HS,

Actually, I didn't know what happened to this comment. Iw as publishing a comment myself and erased it to edit it as this is the only way to edit comments here once they are published and your own comment disappeared. I find it weird because it was there and it was published and once published, even if it erased by the adminsitrator, as it is your own, blogger still shows the comment as erased.

Can you post it again please? Sorry for this.

I am starting to think that I am a target of some hacking activity...Just kidding!

Sophia said...

HS,

I found the comment in my mailbox as published:

Here it is
-----------------------------------------

HS has left a new comment on your post "Tom MacMaster, Britta Froelicher, The Guardian, Ac...":

Anonymous said :
""
The page we see now is a big French provider so probably they are in the process of making a new website
""

No, you may not have all the facts:

Even if you make a new site , you don't have to take down the old site amb-syr.fr.
unless somebody else took control of your site for some reason

http://www.thebreps.info/327/syrians-lose-its-connection-to-the-internet/

Sophia said...

Mina,

In the middle of your long post I finally found the core message buried somewhere between a comment on tarif and another on Nasroulah as you call him ( a very unusual way):

"I still think you are unfair with JL, he posted interesting articles too."

Thanks for letting me know. next time you don't have to bury your message in such an opaque comment.

HS said...

Let's pretend that
IT takes control of a site ,
IT can also intercept any email sent to the legitimate recipient and
IT can send any reply to the legitimate sender .

So the legitimate recipient knows nothing about the email and reply
but the legitimate sender thinks that the reply comes from the legitimate recipient .

Really just kidding !!

Syrian Commando said...

I am now convinced that the west is not just pushing for a war on Syria -- it would be a much wider conflict. Instead, they're pushing for World War III.

They want to play chicken with Russia, but it might very well end up as a head on collision killing us all. I will explain myself soon.

Anonymous said...

Katherine Marsh has changed the name to Nidda Hassan and Nour Ali and she is working in The Guardian. The real name is Sarah Birke. She used to sign articles in the magazine Syria Today. It is easy to prove this. I am wondering what are thinking the syrian authorities about this.

Sophia said...

Anonymous,

That might be but I don't beleive it. Guardian was paying a free lance to produce low quality, reuters like fictional reports from Damascus at the rate of one article per day??

Therese said...

Cool!

 
Since March 29th 2006