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 21 January, 2014

As an American of Syrian lineage, and simply as an American, I have been very concerned with the bloodshed in my mother's birthplace of Damascus and pray that the fighting stop there, which has been a nation of hell for the 24 million innocents trying to live their lives in peace.

It is not in the best interests of The United States and Syria's neighbors that Syria be in chaos and bloodletting.

Recognizing  that most Americans have little depth of knowledge about the volatile Middle East region as a whole and Syria in particular, I hoped for some organization to emerge that sought peace in Syria through dialogue, an organization with credible principles and national credibility to bring the best interests of the 24 million innocent Syrian people and in the best interests of these United States, to the forefront of public and political discourse in order to urge our government not to involve itself in the internal affairs of Syria ether by supplying various forces fighting each other with weapons and other military and non-military supplies, which only exacerbate the chaos in Syria. I wanted an organization that could provide the facts.

As Mark Twain brilliantly stated" Most of what I know I read in the newspaper.”

Today, it’s the same with almost all Americans.  Most Americans’ knowledge of the Middle East comes from what we read, see and hear on television and what we see in the movies. Very few have actually been there, read foreign press or researched the facts

As a person quite  active  in the affairs of the Middle East for more than forty years, who has traveled extensively throughout that region, met with heads of state and other high officials of eight of its nations (as requested by the U.S. State Department) and author of four books on the Middle East… and like all Americans,  I have had to suffer media half-truths, biased statements, superficial if not totally mistaken information.

All I could do was what I have done: meet with my Senators and Congresspersons. But those meetings brought me no feelings of interest nor ideas to resolve the issues. I was frustrated and deeply concerned that our nation and our government's policies were heading in the wrong direction with limited knowledge among our President's advisers, Congress and our State Department.

But what to do? I was frustrated and eagerly looking for possibilities.
Finally, The Syrian American Forum (SAF) was organized by moderate Syrian Americans and came to the fore.  I studied SAF's Principles, the leaders' backgrounds, their methods and their goals. I was happy with what I learned, and wanted to better my knowledge of the Syrian situation and how its outcome would impact the vital interests of America in that vital and extremely volatile region of the world we live in.

SAF, I became convinced, was on the right track:  Peace in Syria through dialogue, No U.S. military intervention, and hands off Syria's internal politics (which we believe should be left to Syrians). Further, SAF seeks a secular Syria, friendly with the U.S, with equal freedom for all, most importantly, freedom of religion and freedom for women, all of which have been in existence in Syria for many decades.

When I coupled my personal knowledge and experiences in the Middle East with the leaders of SAF, I became convinced I should join in their noble effort. So, I joined SAF, spoke at their conference, sharing my beliefs, and my experiences, and soon was elected Chairman of the Florida Chapter of SAF where I am now a member of the National Board of Directors and a member of the National Policy Committee.  We seek, fundamentally, peace in Syria, fulfilling the best interests of America and peace in the greater Middle East. I urge all my friends and all Syrian Americans to join in our honorable cause.  I urge all Americans to look into the principles and goals of SAF by joining us as members or Supporters and helping us educate all Americans,  members of our Congress, Senate and White House advisors

Sandy Simon.