FIRST POST – JULY 8, 2012 – MERCURY NEWS REPORT EXCLUSIVE

FIRST POST – JULY 8, 2012 – MERCURY NEWS SERVICE BRINGS YOU INCREDIBLE NEWS FROM AROUND THE WORLD.  IN THIS EXCLUSIVE REPORT WE FIND FORMER BRIG. GENERAL MANAF TLAS IN A PARIS ALLEY, FACE DOWN IN HIS OWN VOMITUS AND CONDUCT AN AMAZING INTERVIEW WITH THE FALLEN SYRIAN VIP.   Genus Lepidoptera reporting from Paris, special to MNS.  Photos by Ogden Orffe.

In this incredible photo taken by MNS prize-winning photojournalist, Ogden Orffe, Manaf Tlas is seen folded into a fetal position surrounded by his own vomit. 

No sooner had former disgraced Maj. Gen. Manaf Tlas arrived in Paris as the guest of President Francois Hollande than he begged to leave a press conference citing an “urgent matter”.   He disappeared from sight almost immediately but was discovered during a completely serendipitous encounter when my photographer and I were scouring the Parisian alleyways for marketable pictures of homeless French alcoholics. 

Manaf Tlas, seen here nursing an obvious hangover, reviews an all-girl marching band for the Syrian Army.  He was rarely trusted with any other duties.

We were able to rouse him with a promise of “more cognac”.  He was enlivened by our generosity but sat up languorously, pausing every few seconds to rub his eyes and pick his nose with a deliberateness that shocked both of us.  Of course, at that time, we did not know he was Manaf Tlas.   I plied him with chewing gum to dispel the odor of fermenting brandy between his lips and asked him if he would like to answer some questions.  It was then that he disclosed his true identity by saying:  “I don’t know if I can. I promised my father I wouldn’t talk to the press.  That’s why I walked out on the press conference.  You see,  I am Major General Manaf Tlas.”  He said that with a puckish smile on his face then demanded: “That damn bottle you promised!”. 

Ogden quickly ran down to a local charcouterie on the Avenue St. Michel and successfully returned with a bottle of Armagnac.  The general clutched it jealously from Ogden and churlishly began to slurp its contents, an amazing feat since he kept picking his nose all the while.

MNS:  Shall we call you, general?

MANAF:  Call me what you wish.  I am what I am. 

MNS:  Is it true the Free Syrian Army sped you off to Ankara for a flight to Paris because you demanded a cammand position over its troops? 

MANAF:  I was sped to Paris?  Is that where I am?  Hmmm.  I thought we just sat down in Istanbul for a press conference.  I need to talk to Bashar about this. 

MNS:  I am afraid that Bashar Al-Assad may not be your friend any more.  You were lucky to leave with your life.

MANAF:  Don’t believe that Western gibberish.  Bashar and I are going to meet today at the Nadi Al-Rimaya.  We’re going to play canasta.  Where’s that bottle?  (Here he clasps the bottle around its neck like a rubber chicken).   It’s going to be like the old days. 

MNS:  The problem was your performance as a field commander.  You also had illegal contacts with former ambassador Robert Ford during your time under house arrest.

MANAF:  They make such a big deal out of everything.  Maher says this. Hafez says that.  It got really tedious.  And then that idiot, Ford, starts calling me during daylight hours,  What could I do?  He said the stupidest things to me.  He’d say “Turn your battalion’s guns on Assad” or “Now is the time to bomb Assad while he’s in the Palace”.  And I kept telling him I couldn’t because nobody will obey anything I say.  Even my maid at home works for the Mukhabarat and kept telling me to shut up. 

THIS INTERVIEW WILL CONTINUE AFTER A BRIEF BREAK FOR TECHNICAL REJUVENATION


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He can join his father and the rest of the dissidents in France. Maybe he can stay in the same flat that Salah-al-din Bitar inhabited for years?

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