Sunday, August 27, 2006

Raed in the middle BLOG

The below found here

back from the mideast

I just came back from a short trip to Jordan and Syria. The trip to Syria was so fast, but I managed to visit some Lebanese refugee camps. I am so impressed by the Syrian people's generosity in receiving Lebanese refugees. The Syrian government didn't even have to send food or supplies to the refugees because of the overwhelming grassroots support. When I was in the school/refugee camp, many neighbors were walking in with food and clothes. Neighbors donated mattresses, TVs, satellites, money, and other aid.

The other thing you can't miss in Jordan and Syria is people's anger against the US. On more than occasion, I got shouted at because I live in the US. The most interesting incident was during a visit to a Lebanese refugee camp. I was called by two young Lebanese people, and they asked me whether me and the rest of the delegation visiting their shelter where coming from the US. I said yes. They said: "you better get the hell out of here unless you want us to make a scene". I tried to explain that we are the "good" Americans who are against the war, so they said go back home and change your government. "you can't come here visit us in a shelter that we were sent to because of your tax money and your bombs, and expect us to be nice to you". So me and the other Americans got the hell out of there.

The trip to Jordan was more productive and organized. I managed to put together a couple of meetings with Iraqi parliamentarians representing the major groups in the parliament. One meeting was with two MPs, one representing the biggest Sunni Group, and the other representing the biggest Shia group in the parliament. They gave the US delegation that accompanied me a strong and united message against the US presence in Iraq. It was a clear Sunni/Shia demand to end the occupation and set a timetable for withdrawing the US troops. Another meeting was with MPs and some other NGO representatives of mainly secular and liberal Iraqis. We had some other meetings with Human rights organizations as well. Read Tom Hayden's piece in The Nation for more details about our meeting in Amman.

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