Unconventional thinking about the Middle East.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Back from Syria

I’m sort of back and I have a column about Syria: Smug in Damascus. It's about the upcoming presidential referendum and why these things don't matter.

The odometer on the rental car says that I travelled exactly 3999 Km within Syria.

Castles visited, all 20 of them: Shmeimis, Masyaf, Qadmous, Kahf, Khawabi, Marqab, al-Husn, Sheizer, Rusafa, Ullayqa, Mayneqa, Abu Qobeis, Saone/Salaheddin/Sahyoun, Bani Qahtan/Bani Isra’il, Harim, Ibn Wardan, Burzeh, Yahmur, Mheilebeh and Safita tower.

Major Alawi shrines visited=32 (not counting every dome I stopped at…): Nebi Younis (Jebel al-Nabi Younis), Nebi Younis (near al-Kahf castle), Sheikh Mousa al-Rabti (near Abu Qobeis castle), Nebi Metti (Jebel al-Nabi Metti), Nebi Metti (near Husn Suleiman), Muhammad bin Abdullah al-Hamidi (near Safita tower), Sheikh Mousa al-Hakim al-Fatimi (near Dreikish), Sultan Ibrahim (near Dweir Reslan), Ibn Hani (near Ras Shamra), Sheikh ‘Issa al-Yahmuri (in Yahmur), Sheikh Hamdan (in Wadi al-Qala’), Sheikh Hassan (in Dweir Ba’abda), Sheikh Ahmad Qirfays (in Qirfays), Maqam al-Khidhir (near Banyas), Sheikh Gharib (near Hraysoun), Sheikh Ali (near Snober), Abu Laith al-Kittani (near Deiretoun), Maqam al-Sheikh Isma’il (in Jobet Birghal), Al-Arba’in (near Mheilebeh castle), Ja’afar al-Tayyar/Melek Sultan (Jebel Sayyidna Ja’afar), Ja’afar al-Tayyar (hills above Rasel Baseet), Sheikh Dhahir/al-Khidhir (in Bijlaya), Sheikh Hassan Bisqini (up in Boor al-Jird), Al-Khidhir (bil Habees), Nebi Roubil (near ‘Ain al-Teeneh), Khidhir (in Rasel Baseet), Zein al-Abidin (Jebel Zein al-Abidin above Hamah), Hassan al-Makzoun (allegedly in Kefer Souseh near Damascus, used to be in Al-Kabir Mosque, removed, disputed), Sheikh Nmeir (used to be near Qal’at Sharif in Aleppo, disappeared, probably sabotaged in early 1980s), Al-Nour Mosque (near Qinnesrin Gate in Aleppo, being renovated), Ammar bin Yassir (in Raqqa, visited by Alawis too), and Hussein bin Hamdan al-Khasibi (within Hananoo barracks in Aleppo, visited on an earlier trip). Druze shrine: Nebbi Habil, near Zabadani.

So I’m showing off a bit, but here’s my take: after a while, all castles begin to look alike, and all shrines look (and smell) the same. I've kissed many dead saints on this trip, and not withstanding the dermatological nightmare, I kinda feel like a spiritual slut!

Plus, there were many churches on the itinerary: visited Deir Mar Gergis/Khidhr on his holy day, May 6.


Blogger bg said...


glad to see you back.. waitng
for your AQ et al updates.. ;)


1:43 PM, May 23, 2007

Anonymous gj said...

Me too! Hanging out. Everything's been happening just like you predicted, Nibras and you've been going shrine visiting????

6:28 AM, May 24, 2007

Blogger Nibras Kazimi نبراس الكاظمي said...

Okay, okay. I promise to get back into form...

Hey, I remembered two other castles I went to: Qala'at al-Nimra (hardly any trace of it remains) and Qala'at al-Madhiq (overlooking Apamea and the Ghab)...

So make that 22 castles visited...Yaaaaay!

I guess this stuff isn't as interesting to all you folks as the latest theatrics of Abu Omar al-Baghdadi...(Sigh)...


3:43 PM, May 24, 2007

Blogger bg said...


lol.. to quote a certain somebody..

"after a while, all castles begin to look alike,
and all shrines look (and smell) the same."

you're words Nabris.. :D

okay seriously, i'm glad to hear you had a great & safe journey.. and i suppose it will take a few days to for you to get back in the groove so to speak.. so take you're time, i check in every day, so i'm sure i won't miss anything.. besides, i'm interested in quality, not quantity..

thanks.. :)


5:31 PM, May 24, 2007

Blogger Louise said...

I'm interested in castles. Whose castles were they? Crusaders? Romans? (Insert other possibilities here)?

7:09 PM, May 24, 2007

Blogger Jaguar b. p. said...

Some video interviews with Bashar

ABC Diane Sawyer:

BBC John Simpson:

PBS Charlie Rose:

CNN Christiane Amanpour:

SkyNews James Rubin:

NBC Ann Curry:

A couple more..
http://www.archive.org/download/assad/assad2.mp3 (audio only)
http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=-7159902422541356979 (arabic)

And I end with this pro-Syrian pro-Assad video from YouTube :)

6:13 AM, May 25, 2007

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