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Alex Rowell

The last castle of Arab dignity

Emails show regime inner circle sharing disparaging jokes and rhymes about Syrians and other Arabs

(Illustration by NOW)

The British former parliamentarian George Galloway, whose own cameo in the leaked emails has already been documented, famously described the Bashar al-Assad regime as “the last castle of Arab dignity.”

 

Within the walls of the presidential palace, however, it appears a variety of attitudes about Arabs were held, not all of them suggestive of dignity. As the previously-unpublished correspondence below reveals, Assad and his inner circle exchanged disparaging jokes and outright insults about both the Syrian people and their fellow Arabs elsewhere in the region. In one email that made the rounds, the words to the famous Arab nationalist poem “The Arab provinces are my homelands” (written by the Damascus-born Fakhri al-Baroudi) are changed to “The Russian provinces are my homelands.”

 

 

“Shit on the Arabs”

 

On 12 November 2011, Thala Khair—the wife of then-Republican Guard Brig. Gen. Manaf Tlass, both of whom would defect in 2012 along with Manaf’s father, former Defence Minister Mustafa Tlass—sent Bashar the following short email (in English):

 

Khara [“shit”] on the arabs, now they shamelessly do ALL the dirty work to serve the Western project... Blind stupid ambitious sheep!!!!

 

It's a disgrace...

 

 

“Arabs are pests”

 

On 25 October 2011, Assad’s media aide, Lama Hassan, sent him a video link to the moment of former Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi’s capture with the Arabic comment: “3arab Jarab” [“Arabs are pests”].

 

 

Jokes about Homsis

 

On 31 August 2011, someone named Danielle Saba (a.k.a. Danielle Luksitch) sent the following joke to Assad (translated from Arabic):

 

Two traders from Damascus were working, each with a laborer from Homs by them.

 

The first said: ‘I have the stupidest Homsi in the world!’

 

The second said: ‘I’m sure the Homsi I have is stupider than the one you have!’

 

The first: ‘No, the Homsi I have is stupider’

 

The second: ‘I challenge you that the Homsi I have is stupider’

 

The first: ‘Alright, let’s bring them and see who’s stupider!’

 

The first brought the Homsi who was working for him and gave him 500 liras and said to him ‘Go to the BMW dealership and buy me an X5!’

 

The Homsi told him: ‘OK’, and left

 

The second brought the Homsi who was working for him and told him ‘Go and see for me if I’m at my house and come back!’

 

The Homsi told him: ‘OK’, and left

 

The Homsis met outside.

 

The first said: ‘Damn, man, those Damascenes are so stupid’

 

The second said: ‘Yeah, indeed it’s true, but how did you know?’

 

The first told him: ‘The boss gave me 500 liras for me to buy a BMW

 

‘Not knowing, the idiot, that it’s Friday and the dealership is closed!’

 

The second Homsi said: ‘And my boss is stupid too, he told me to go and see if he’s at home or not

 

‘Not knowing, the idiot, that by telephone he can call and ask’

 

*

On 13 December 2011, someone named Nour al-Nader sent the following to Assad:

 

“A Homsi said he wanted to name his son by his father’s name. He named him ‘Baba’”

 

 

“The Russian provinces are our homeland”

 

On 7 December 2011, Asma al-Assad forwarded to her husband, as well as her father, the following variation on the famous Arab nationalist poem, “The Arab provinces are my homelands” (translated from Arabic):

 

The Russian provinces are my homelands… From Moscow to Tehran

 

And from Peking to Caracas… To Beirut and Damascus

 

For the Arabs don’t understand us… Nor does Turkey help us

 

What evil people, O traitors… From Hamad to Erdogan**

 

The Russian provinces are my homelands… From Moscow to Tehran

 

And from Peking to Caracas… To Beirut and Damascus

 

`Ar`our will not separate us… Nor will Qaradawi divide us

 

Only Syria unites us… In Christianity and Islam

 

** “Hamad” presumably refers to the then-ruler of Qatar, Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani. “Erdogan” is Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. “`Ar`our” is the Syrian hardline Islamist cleric, Sheikh `Adnan al-`Ar`our, while “Qaradawi” is the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood-aligned cleric, Yusuf al-Qaradawi.

(Illustration by NOW)

Khara [‘shit’] on the arabs, now they shamelessly do ALL the dirty work to serve the Western project”

  • watani.sourya

    Homsi jokes have always been common and accepted as harmless, but who is that mysterious citizen who sent the president a joke? Pro-Assad media now regularly disparage Arabs as if to signify a total ethnic severance! What we are now hearing was always totally beyond the realm of possibility. Furthermore, Hassan Nasrullah spoke of "desert mentality" in his last appearance, and one Assad mouthpiece spoke on TV of "Gulf Arabs coming to Lebanon to rest their desert minds"

    May 19, 2015