Read

Search form

Syrian Refugees in Jordan Decry American Plans to Attack

Syrian Refugees in Jordan Decry American Plans to Attack
Wed, 9/4/2013 - by Joseph Mayton

SAN FRANCISCO — Abu Ghazi is a man who brings smiles to people’s faces. Last December, while giving inexpensive haircuts and shaves to passersby, including journalists who spent time with him and his family, he made almost all those watching laugh. Today, some nine months removed from the onset of that freezing winter, Abu Ghazi has little to smile at.

With the Obama administration pressing Congress to approve its plans to attack the Syrian government, Abu Ghazi and his family are not convinced the strikes will bring anything but more hardship and a “trail of blood.”

Speaking by cell phone to Occupy.com from inside the massive Zaatari refugee camp – now Jordan’s third-largest city – the 30-something barber wants nothing to do with violence. He’s says he's seen enough.

“I don’t know why the world wants to fight this situation with more bombs, bullets and caskets,” he says, with the background mumbling as dozens have surrounded the phone, now on speaker, as he discusses the sentiments of those in the camp.

“We are tired. Our families are tired. We have seen people we know and love shot in front of us. Now, having been here one year, we want to see an end to the war that is making our home so far away,” he adds.

Zaatari camp is within eyesight of the Syrian border and the border town of Dara’a, home to some of the bloodiest battles and bombing campaigns unleashed by the Bashar al-Assad regime against civilians. Last December, Abu Ghazi and his cousin, Mohamed – a taxi driver from Dara’a who had been living in Damascus with his wife and children – watched as fighter jets soared near the city. This is the reason, they say, that they now call a Jordanian refugee camp home.

Jumping on the line, Mohamed, who speaks some English, says that across the camp, in the schools and the bathrooms, all talk has turned to Obama and America. He is not pleased that the U.S. is planning to bomb his native country and argues it will lead to widening violence between the rebel forces and Assad’s military.

“We know our country best. There was a time when we wanted the international community to intervene and save us from death, but now it is too late. How many people had to die before something happened? It is bad, very bad,” he says, his voice blunt and without the vitality it had when this reporter spoke with him only months before.

He, like Abu Ghazi and others, are waiting impatiently as Congress debates whether or not to bomb the country. They are all expecting the approval to come, and the deaths to follow.

“How much blood is on America’s hands? On Obama’s hands? They kill in Yemen, they kill in Pakistan and Iraq. Now they will kill in Syria. Fighting war with more war will leave us Syrians dead. It isn’t what we want,” Mohamed adds.

The conversation turns to daily life in the camps and the struggle to make do with what little the refugees have. A library has been erected and schools function, but there is little downtime. It is fall now, and with winter approaching, the Syrians fear that without much-needed assistance they will experience more deaths. Last year, refugees died as a result of the cold, and the same is expected this year.

But the impending U.S. attack on Syria returns to the forefront. The men standing around Abu Ghazi and Mohamed jump into the conversation, over and over. They want to know why the Americans are preparing for war when the country has already found itself in the midst of a bloody civil war.

“It won’t stop the killing, on both sides,” says one man. “I know it will make both sides use the attacks as a means to launch more violence and killing. We all know chemical weapons were being used, but is that the final reason that Obama wants to bomb? He doesn’t care about our children, our wives, our people. If he did, this would have happened years ago.”

Resounding “yeses” are heard as the line abruptly cuts off. This is life in Zaatari, where refugees wait to hear on a weekly basis from their families who still remain in Syria, expecting the news of a relative's death. Now, as the Obama administration prepares for a military campaign, they again sit on the sidelines, waiting anxiously to see what new carnage will arrive in their home country only a few miles away.

Add new comment

Sign Up

Article Tabs

U.K. austerity policies, Institute of Fiscal Studies, U.K. education cuts, academy schools, school privatization, school budget cuts

With more teachers being made redundant, class sizes swelling, head teachers wrestling with holes in their budgets, the picture in Britain’s modern-day classrooms is bleak.

solar energy, rooftop solar, National Renewable Energy Laboratory, expanding solar power, renewable energy, United Steelworkers, USW, Break Free from Fossil Fuels, 350.org, Keystone XL pipeline, Deepwater Horizon spill, International Brotherhood of Electr

A growing green industry born of the United States’ hostile labor climate is unlikely to produce steady, good paying jobs without a fight.

Fair Housing Act, foreclosure crisis, housing bubble, bank crimes, Wells Fargo, JP Morgan Chase, Bank of America, redlining, Center for Constitutional Litigation, U.S. Chamber of Commerce, National Consumer Law Center

From L.A. to Miami to Providence, families who lost their homes weren’t the only ones hurt by the foreclosure crisis – so there’s an argument to be made that they shouldn’t be the only ones who can go after the lenders.

Act Out, spoken word, poetry, art, creative activism, agitprop, power of art, Ana Teresa Fernandez, Borrando la Frontera, Erasing the Border, social sculptures, immigration, feminism, performance art, political art, border issues, Moms 4 Peace, Code Pink,

This week, a wall is a wall until it's — the sky? Ana Teresa Fernandez shows us how we might view things differently, simply through the application of color.

A fracking crew member works inside the Halliburton Sandcastle, at an Anadarko Petroleum Corporation site, near Brighton, May 19, 2014. (RJ Sangosti, The Denver Post)

The state's highest court on Monday halted cities' efforts to limit oil and gas development near people, ruling state power to promote industry trumps local bans, which the court deemed "invalid and unenforceable."

protest movements, social mobilizations, movement of the squares, Occupy Wall Street, Podemos Party, Jeremy Corbyn, Bernie Sanders, protest demands, horizontal democracy, Arab Spring, Nuit Debout

The movements of the squares were a watershed moment that profoundly changed grassroots and institutional politics – they have enthused in equal measure as they have disappointed, both under-delivering and over-delivering on their promises.

Posted 6 days 2 min ago

The Bay Area currency operates a commercial barter system – where businesses with unused inventory or excess capacity "deposit" their excess into an exchange, and “withdraw” other businesses’ excess goods and services instead of money.

Posted 6 days 20 hours ago
climate chaos, carbon emissions, climate movement, Break Free from Fossil Fuels, worldwide climate protests, disrupting dirty power, Climate Mobilization, 350.org, keep it in the ground, renewable energy transition

Starting next week, a global wave of mass actions will target the world’s most dangerous fossil fuel projects.

Posted 5 days 23 hours ago
Black Lives Matter, ACLU of Oregon, state surveillance, surveillance programs

Monitoring the social media use of BLM activists is an example of "how the level of trust between law enforcement and communities of color has been so damaged," the civil rights group says.

Posted 6 days 20 hours ago
climate crisis, climate information, Climate Feedback, accurate climate coverage

Climate Feedback brings together a global network of scientists who use a new web-annotation platform to provide feedback on climate change reporting.

Posted 6 days 20 hours ago
corporate trade deals, Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership, TTIP, regulatory barriers, environmental regulations, health regulations

Greenpeace says internal documents show the US is attempting to lower or circumvent EU protection for environment and public health.

Dennis Black is a revolutionary running for office in Michigan, who says we need grassroots activists to re-make the law.

The Bay Area currency operates a commercial barter system – where businesses with unused inventory or excess capacity "deposit" their excess into an exchange, and “withdraw” other businesses’ excess goods and services instead of money.

Black Lives Matter, ACLU of Oregon, state surveillance, surveillance programs

Monitoring the social media use of BLM activists is an example of "how the level of trust between law enforcement and communities of color has been so damaged," the civil rights group says.

climate crisis, climate information, Climate Feedback, accurate climate coverage

Climate Feedback brings together a global network of scientists who use a new web-annotation platform to provide feedback on climate change reporting.