Tis the season to be jolly.... Fa la la la......

I really didn't think she would write about it-but write about it she did. Reneva Fourie is a South African political analyst stationed in Damascus. Her courageous articles about the situation in Syria and the region or about the struggle of women living through war have been met with great popularity.

She writes objectively, almost documenting what she sees as a first hand witness living in Syria. This time she writes about everyday life of Syrians , of how little can be turned into much and of how a Christmas dinner can be turned into Christmas high tea .

Letter to the Editor: Fun in the midst of sanctions

Reneva Fourie

A South African based in Damascus, Syria

“Write an article about dinner and sanctions”, she teases as we plan our gathering around the electricity load-shedding schedule.  “I can’t”, I think to myself. The effects of sanctions anger me too much. And while writing is usually an outlet; the pain that sanctions causes to those around me, has humbled me into silence.

But how can I feel blue? It is festive season! I am surrounded by joy. Christmas trees are adorned with sparkling ornaments. Sounds of carols fill the air. Dinners with family and friends are being prioritised. Social life in Syria is abuzz.

There is much to celebrate. Surviving a vicious, imperialist-driven war; as well as the dreaded Covid—19; compels gratitude and the honouring of life and love.  Such honouring, if you’re Syrian, means exiting the year 2021 in style. But what to do if such style is being cramped by sanctions?

Navigating sanctions is a nightmare. Basic banking transactions are impossible. Banks even penalise foreign diplomats, just because they are posted to Syria. Accessing online learning products are prohibited. Sanctions even deny us the use of face-to-face communication tools that enable linking up with family abroad, such as Ms Teams and Zoom.

How cruel can the West be? “I can understand that the West hates us, but how can some of the expatriates that are supporting sanctions inflict this pain upon us?” a completely apolitical citizen, remarked in despair.

Efforts to use war and sanctions to kill the resilience of Syrians have failed. Sanctions might have left people cash-strapped but absolute hunger has been averted.

The Syrian government is doing everything possible to maintain food security. Besides, Syrians are innovative. They can make a large variety of mouth watering meals from basic ingredients like tomatoes, parsley and chickpeas. And this creativity enables the festive mood to flourish in spite of any limitations that sanctions may have on the cuisine.

The electricity shortage too, despite its severe adverse impact, is being creatively addressed. Blankets, socks, and hot water-bottles are being used to counter the freezing weather. Just be sure to fill your bottle, when it’s your turn to have electricity! Social gatherings now occur early in the evening, before the temperature drops to anti-social levels,  instead of the usual close to midnight.

The saying is, “where there is a will, there is a way”.  There is no truer manifestation of that mindset than here in Syria. The people of Syria refuse to allow adversity, including sanctions, to stop them from having fun. As we reflect on our many losses over the past year, the positive attitude of those who have lost even more, continues to inspire.

Editor In Chief

Reem Haddad

Pakistani Syrian relations on the rise

Relations between Pakistan and Syria have been good historically. Pakistan was part of the silk route and trade was good between the two countries. In 1973 Pakistan sent an army contingent to fight along with the Syrian Army.In the 1970s, the President of  Hafez al-Assad came to Pakistan to participate in the international Organization of Islamic Conference.He was the first Syrian President to have visited Pakistan. Bilateral ties have remained more or less cordial since then, with Pakistan supporting the Syrian position over the disputed Golan Heights..In the last ten years when Syria was facing a terrorist war against it , Pakistan was not swayed by American or Westren influence and kept its head ,refusing to be party to the countries working against the good of the Syrian people. Recently commercial air travel resumed between the two countries.However most important was the statement by President of Pakistan, Arif Alvi on the 23rd of November when he said that  that Syria’s victory against terrorism is an appreciated step for all.

Turkey’s water war on Syria

Turkey has deliberately withheld water flow from the Euphrates to Syria, thus stealing the country's share from this river and that caused a water crisis in the north and east of the country. Plus, citizens in the northeastern part of Syria are still suffering from water shortage as the Turkish occupation and its mercenaries repeatedly stop operating Allouk water station near the occupied city of Ras Al-Ayn, thereby cutting off water supplies to Hasakah neighborhoods, threatening around a million people with thirst and damaging the agriculture there.

Syria Times interviewed Dr. Pablo Sapag, a Professor at Madrid Complutense University and author of the book “Syria in Perspective” to shed light on the Turkish aggressive behavior, on the consequences of this inhuman act on the citizens and agriculture in the Syrian Al-Jazira region and on the world’s silence and inaction to pressure Turkey to stop this crime.

 “Turkey’s behavior regarding water issues vis-a-vis Syria is not just humanly irresponsible and cruel but profoundly contrary to international law. It goes also against the very few formal commitments it has previously acquired with Syria on the matter. Even though Turkey is one of the few states that has not signed it, let alone to ratify the 1997 UN Watercourses Convention -in fact it has been stubbornly against it, there are several previous pieces of mandatory international law that clearly regulate the use and share of water by riparian states. The latter is the case of Turkey, Syria and Iraq when talking about the Euphrates and also the Tigris rivers,” Prof. Sapag said, pointing out that Syria and Iraq signed and ratified the 1997 UN Watercourses Convention, but Turkey didn't.

South African National Day for women

South Africa-the country of struggle for freedom, of anti apartheid, of Nelson Mandela and many many heroes .A country rich in its soil ,rich in its sea ,but most of all rich in its people -specially its women.

In South Africa women are celebrated twice-on International Women’s Day and on National Women’s Day.

 Reneva Fourie is a South African political analyst residing in Damascus and she has a lot to say about the topic of women in South Africa

Archbishop Atallah Hanna to ST: International community must not stand idly by as Israeli occupation violates human rights

Archbishop Atallah Hanna of Sebastia for the Greek Orthodox has appealed to the international community to adopt clear and straightforward stances towards the Israeli occupation’s crimes against the Palestinian people. 
In a statement to the Syria Times e-newspaper, the archbishop criticized the weak stances of the so-called the international community towards the Palestinians, who are being attacked and suppressed by the occupation in Al-Quds [Jerusalem] and its neighborhoods.