August 16, 2011 – We talked to My wife’s relatives yesterday when it was about 9:00 p.m.for them in Latakia, and they said they were subject to a curfew while the Syrian army was mopping up the criminals who had escaped from Al-Raml Al-Filastini and tried to hole up in Tabiyyat.  Tabiyyat is a real joke.  We were there last year when we made the mistake of thinking that Qahwat Sawmar was a classy place to eat fish.  I cannot deny that the view of the cove is beautiful.  It has all the qualities of a great Lebanese ocean-front cafe with stylish decor.  But that’s where it all ends.

My wife and I had just returned from a trip to Beirut where we stayed in the Hamra.  This was Aida’s first trip to Lebanon.  On our way back in a private car, I suggested to the driver that he stop at a good fish food restaurant in Latakia.  He dropped us off at Sawmar.  Well!  We found out quickly that the place was frequented by those black painted VW bugs who hunched like obese medieval monks over a bowl of thistle soup.  I asked if they served “beer”.  They said “no” with a look of  contempt in their eyes, as though they had pleased their hostile God with their boring abstinence.  I quickly picked up our luggage and hurriedly hailed another taxi who took us to a restaurant which used to be pretty good:  Al-Asaafiri.  Not any more. In the hands of new owners, they didn’t even have ice for our drinks.  Beer had to be purchased from some store and the service was profoundly lacksadaisical.  I should have gone to Spiro’s.

Yesterday, at about 9:30 a.m., a young lady from the BBC with a slight sub-continental accent called me at the office to ask some questions concerning my blog and other matters.  After a short recitation of power-points,  she asked if I’d be willing to participate in an open forum on the BBC radio at 4:00 p.m. their time or 1:00 p.m. my time in Michigan.

I said “sure” and waited at 1:00 p.m. for the call, all the while wasting time reading the news on Yahoo.  At around 1:45 p.m. a call came in with the tell-tale English accent of a pleasant man who told me that he would be transferring my call to the “sound engineer”.  That was not good.  For the rest of the forum’s discussion, I could not hear the other speakers because the line was so bad.  I don’t know if any of that was intentional. I think not because they didn’t have to call me anyway.  But it was done so shabbily that I wonder what ever happened to English precision and efficiency.

I did manage to get a word or two in but noticed a very strong bias against Syria by the moderator, Sebastian.  One of his guests who proclaimed some knowledge of Syria and Latakia, especially, said that the city was populated by Sunnis and Alawites.  Well, what about Christians?  You blithering idiot.  In any case, the most positive thing that came out of the whole mess was a caller who stated in very strongly accented English that he was from Homs and that he supported the Syrian army all the way.  He described being kicked out of his home in Homs by armed gangs and confirmed to the moderator that there were, indeed, armed thugs ambling about the country.  Despite Sebastian’s woeful attemtps to argue that the Syrian government might be overreacting, the caller stuck to his guns and professed even stronger supprort for Dr. Assad.  I wished they gave us more time with better lines of communication. 

The Turks are playing with fire again.  I hope they do not interfere in Syria’s internal affairs.  Their protestations sound especially weak when they have not yet confronted the two million ghosts they created in their genocide of the Armenian people and the tens of thousands of Kurds they murdered both physically and culturally.  Don’t screw with Syria, Mr.Erdogan.  Be a gentleman and everything will work out just fine.  I find it quite amusing also that the Turks are now in the same bed with those malodorous Saudis.  Remember, Mr. Erdogan and Dr. Davutoghlu, the ones who betrayed the Sublime Porte were those same desert Arabs who wear the same nightshirt every day, day after day after day.  Ziad Abu Fadel