Assad Reaches Out to Business, Turkey, France and the US

P.M. Fillon and Assad

French P.M. Fillon and Assad

Ibrahim Hamidi writes from Damascus about recent business activities that according to him, “are amazing.” A top businessman and banker in Syria also reports that the mood is “upbeat in Damascus.” Evidently people are standing by for important economic indicators during the March investor conference.

Hamidi in al-Hayat covers the serge of businessmen visiting Damascus, the creation of 68 chambers of commerce and the upcoming investor’s conference.

دمشق تنشط اقتصادياً وتشكّل 68 مجلس أعمال
الجمعة, 19 فبراير ,دمشق – إبراهيم حميدي2010

تشهد سورية حركة اقتصادية ناشطة بعد تشكيل 68 مجلساً لرجال الأعمال بين سوريين ونظرائهم في دول عربية وأجنبية، بهدف رفع مساهمة القطاع الخاص في تنفيذ «رؤية استراتيجية» لتحويل سورية إلى نقطة ربط لخطوط النفط والغاز والنقل والطاقة بين البحور الأربعة: الأبيض المتوسط وقزوين والأسود، والخليج العربي.
وعلمت «الحياة» أن مؤتمراً لرجال الأعمال والمستثمرين العرب سيُعقد في دمشق في الثالث من آذار (مارس) المقبل والرابع منه، قبل يومين من استضافة دمشق مؤتمر للمستثمرين السوريين والسعوديين، لإتاحة فرصة الاستفادة من التشريعات الأخيرة، وتشمل رفع حصة رأس المال الأجنبي في المصارف الخاصة الى 60 في المئة، وصدور قانون الاستثمار العقاري وتشكيل هيئة للتمويل العقاري، بعد السماح للقطاع الخاص بالاستثمار في مجال الكهرباء.

وأعلن رئيس الفريق السوري في مجلس رجال الأعمال المشكل مع فرنسا بسام غراوي في حديث إلى «الحياة»، أن «35 مديراً ورئيساً لشركة فرنسية سيرافقون رئيس الوزراء فرانسوا فيون في زيارته دمشق، التي تبدأ اليوم، وتشمل لقاء مع الرئيس بشار الأسد قبل إجرائه محادثات ذات طابع اقتصادي مع نظيره السوري محمد ناجي عطري غداً.

ويرافق فيون وزراء الثقافة فريديريك ميتران والشؤون النيابية هنري دورينكور والاقتصاد كريستسن لاغارد، إضافة الى رئيس «معهد العالم العربي» دومينيك بوديس ورئيس «متحف لوفر» هنري لواريت ومدير «الوكالة الفرنسية للتنمية» التي فتحت مكتباً لها في دمشق. وأفادت المصادر أن الترتيبات تجرى لتوقيع عدد من الاتفاقات الاقتصادية بين البلدين.

وأوضح غراوي أن نائب رئيس الوزراء للشؤون الاقتصادية عبدالله الدردري ووزيرة الاقتصاد كريستين لاغارد، سيفتتحان غداً اجتماعات الدورة الثالثة لمجلس رجال الأعمال السوري – الفرنسي في حضور ممثلين عن كل القطاعات والمناطق، بهدف البحث في تطوير العلاقات وتنفيذ خطة عمل مشتركة لزيادة حجم الاستثمارات الفرنسية في سورية. وكان هذا المجلس هو الأول من المجالس المشكلة، قبل أن يصل عددها الى 68، اجتمع برؤسائها عطري قبل أيام لتشجيعهم على العمل.

ويرمي الجانبان إلى زيادة حصة الصناعات ذات القيمة المضافة في التبادل التجاري، الذي تجاوزت قيمته 1.5 بليون دولار، إضافة الى مساهمة الفرنسيين في مشاريع البنية التحتية السورية المقدّرة كلفتها بنحو 50 بليون دولار في السنوات المقبلة.

ويعتبر مشروع شركة «لافارج» الفرنسية لإنشاء مصنع للاسمنت في شمال البلاد، أحد أبرز المشاريع المشتركة. وأوضح الشريك السوري في المشروع فراس طلاس في تصريح إلى «الحياة»، أن «كلفته تبلغ 682 مليون دولار بحيث ينتج ثلاثين مليون طن سنوياً». وأشارت مصادر اقتصادية إلى مساع لدى الشركات الفرنسية «كي تكون سورية نقطة عبور لتصدير منتجاتها إلى الأسواق المجاورة خصوصاً العراق».

وفيما افتتح الدردري ونظيره التشيخي يان كوهوت قبل يومين منتدى اقتصادياً لتعزيز التعاون بين الجانبين في مجالات البنية التحتية والسياحة الصحية والغاز والنفط، علمت «الحياة» أن وكيل وزارة الاقتصاد الألمانية برند بفافنباخ سيزور دمشق الاثنين المقبل لإعلان تأسيس مجلس اقتصادي سوري – ألماني. كما وقع وزير المال السوري محمد الحسين مع السفير الألماني اندرياس راينيكيه اتفاقاً لمنع الازدواج الضريبي وحماية الاستثمارات المشتركة وتشجيعها.

ويزور تركيا حالياً وفد من 30 رجل أعمال يضم رئيس الجانب السوري في مجلس رجال الأعمال المشترك عبد القادر صبرا، الذي أوضح أن الوفد «سيلتقي نائب رئيس الوزراء علي باباجان وممثلي شركات تركية، وذلك قبل تنظيم مهرجان «الأيام الترويجية لمرسين» في دمشق الأسبوع المقبل بمشاركة 300 شخصية تركية، بينها وزيرا الدولة ظافر تشاغلايان وفاروق نافز أوزاك.

كما يُعقد حالياً اجتماع لمجلس الأعمال السوري – الإيراني.

Syria’s Assad pledges help for Turkish investors
22.02.2010, ZAMAN

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has requested that Turkish businessmen directly get in contact with him to report any issues they face when investing in Syria, assuring them that the difficulties will be resolved.

Assad, speaking at a meeting with Turkish Union of Chambers and Commodity Exchanges (TOBB) President Rifat Hisarcıklıoğlu on Saturday, said, “We want Turkish businessmen to make investments in Syria.” To overcome any difficulties these businessmen face, he requested that they directly get in touch with him so as not to have to deal with bureaucratic obstacles. In regards to the plans of Ziraat Bankası to establish a bank in Syria with Syrian partners, the TOBB head stated that the negotiations were continuing but that there were some obstacles. He said Assad expressed pleasure over the visit of 35 Syrian businessmen to Turkey last week. The Syrian president also stated that he wanted priority to be given to Turkish businessmen and construction companies in tenders in various fields such as highway construction, Hisarcıklıoğlu reported. The TOBB head underlined that “Syria should not be regarded merely as a country with a population of 21 million, but as a gateway to the Arab world.”

He stressed that with the recent visa requirements between the two countries no longer in existence, the largest barrier that had hindered bilateral trade had been removed.

Hisarcıklıoğlu stated that Syrian businessmen want to establish a structure similar to Turkey’s Foreign Economic Relations Board (DEİK) and requested help from TOBB. Recalling that TOBB conducts training activities for the Syria Investment Agency, he continued: “The Economic Policy Research Foundation of Turkey [TEPAV], the think tank of TOBB, will conduct an investment environment analysis of Syria. The project, which will also be supported by the World Bank, will determine the obstacles for investing in Syria.”

Following the completion of the analysis, a conference will be held jointly in Syria by TOBB, the Islamic Development Agency (İKT), the World Bank and the Syria Investment Agency, he said.

Addendum: Syrian-Saudi Businessmen Forum kicks off next March
Feb 21, 2010, SANA

Damascus, (SANA)-Syria will host the first Syrian-Saudi Businessmen Forum on March 6-7 with the participation of over 200 high-profile companies. Minister of Finance Mohammad al-Hussein announced in a press conference on Sunday with the Saudi Ambassador in Damascus Abdullah al-Eifan that the Forum will be held in coincidence with the Syrian-Saudi Ministerial Committee meetings.

He said that his ministry has been preparing for the Forum in cooperation with the Saudi Ministry of Finance and Economy and in coordination with the Syrian Investment Commission and the Saudi Embassy.

Al-Hussein expressed hope that the Forum will contribute to boosting economic relations between Syria and Saudi Arabia based on the directives of both countries’ leaderships.

The Forum will include work sessions on the advantages and opportunities of investment in Syria and issues related to many other sectors.

Minister al-Hussein asserted that Syria is working on upgrading the economic relations with Saudi Arabia to the level of the political ones and benefiting from both countries’ capabilities serving their best interest.

For his part, the Saudi Ambassador pointed out that the Forum will include an intensive dialogue between high ranking officials and businessmen from both countries in addition to reviewing the successful Saudi investments in Syria and the bilateral sessions between companies and businessmen of both sides.

Al-Eifan affirmed his country’s keenness on boosting its relations with Syria in all domains, pointing out that the Forum and the meetings of the Joint Ministerial Committee constitute a suitable opportunity for discussing means of consolidating bilateral relations and activating the signed agreements between the two sides.

Russia to supply Iran with S-300 defense systems
By Reuters

Russia intends to fulfill a contract to supply S-300 air defense missile systems to Iran, Interfax news agency quoted Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov as saying on Friday.

Israel and the United States have repeatedly asked Russia to scrap a contract to sell Iran the truck-mounted S-300, which can shoot down hostile missiles or aircraft up to 150 km (90 miles) away.

“There is a contract to supply these systems to Iran, and we will fulfill it,” Ryabkov told Interfax in an interview. “Delays (with deliveries) are linked to technical problems with adjusting these systems,” he added.

He also cautioned against politicizing Russia’s arms exports to Iran.

“It is absolutely incorrect to put the emphasis on the issue of S-300 supplies… and to turn it into a major problem, to say nothing of linking it to the discussion on restoring trust in the purely peaceful character of Iran’s nuclear program,” Ryabkov said.

The possible sale of the S-300s, which could protect Iran’s nuclear facilities against air strikes, is an extremely sensitive issue in Russia’s relations with Israel. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu visited Moscow this week to press the Kremlin to back tougher sanctions against Iran.

Via Juan Cole

“… Russia’s General of the Army Nikolay Makarov, Chief of the General Staff of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation, warned that an American attack on Iran now, when the US is bogged down in two wars, might well lead to the collapse of the United States. He said that such an attack would roil the region and have negative consequences for Russia (a neighbor of Iran via the Caspian Sea). And, he said, the Russian military is taking steps to forestall such an American strike on Iran. Makarov made the remarks in Vzglyad on Friday, February 19, 2010, and they were translated or paraphrased by the USG Open Source Center:

Syrian woman arrested after writing politically charged novel
Amnesty International

Amnesty International has called for the release of a Syrian writer who was arrested last week after she wrote a novel that describes the political situation in the country during the 1990s.

Raghdah Hassan has been held incommunicado since she was seized on the Syrian side of the Al Arida border crossing with Lebanon on 10 February. She is at risk of torture and other ill-treatment.

Her unpublished first and only novel, The New Prophets, tackles political issues through a love story involving two Syrian prisoners.

Three days after Hassan’s arrest, her currently unoccupied flat was ransacked and a paper print-out of the novel was confiscated. Several opposition political publications were also taken in the search, thought to have been carried out by Syrian security forces.

“We suspect that Raghdah’s arrest is related to her intention to publish a novel about sensitive political issues, as well as to suspicions that she is active in an opposition party,” said Philip Luther, Amnesty Internationals Deputy Director for the Middle East and North Africa.

Amnesty International understands that Raghdah Hassan is now being kept at the Political Security branch in Tartus, a city on Syrias Mediterranean coast. Political Security is one of several security forces involved in the arrest, detention and questioning of people accused of political offences. The Syrian authorities have not revealed the reasons behind Raghdah Hassans arrest or any charges brought against her.

“Raghdah Hassan appears to be a prisoner of conscience, detained solely for the peaceful exercise of her right to freedom of expression, and if this is the case she must be released immediately and unconditionally,” said Philip Luther.

Raghdah Hassan was questioned by Political Security on several occasions towards the end of 2009, including when they visited her at home and at work. The authorities demanded she sign a statement promising she would not publish the novel but she refused to do so.

The 38-year-old was previously detained without trial or charge for two and a half years, between 1992 and 1995, for her alleged membership of the Communist Action Party (CAP). In 1995, she was brought before the Supreme State Security Court (SSSC) and acquitted. This period of her detention inspired The New Prophets.

Freedoms of expression and association are strictly controlled in Syria, aided by “state of emergency” laws which have been in force since 1964.

Are we living in the post-moral age?
by Paul Woodward on February 20, 2010

Syrian progress linked to peace efforts: French PM
Feb 20, 2010

Syria can make economic progress by helping Middle East peace efforts, including finding an agreement on Iran’s nuclear drive, visiting French Prime Minister Francois Fillon said on Saturday.

“One of the conditions of continued economic development in Syria is peace and security in the region,” Fillon said at the opening of an economic forum in Syria’s capital Damascus.

“If France decides to resume and strengthen dialogue with Syria, it will be because we believe Syria has a key role in establishing peace in the Middle East,” said Fillon.

“What must prevail is truth and transparency. To improve the situation, everyone must make an effort.”

Fillon, the first head of a French government to visit Syria in more than 30 years, singled out world powers’ standoff with Syria’s ally Iran over its nuclear drive as an issue in which Damascus can play a positive role.

“Peace requires a change in attitude of the Iranian government,” said the French premier, adding that “Iran is not complying with international rules and constantly violates UN Security Council resolutions.”

“We have reached out to the Iranian government without success” so far, he said, referring to Tehran’s rejection late last year of an offer from the UN atomic watchdog regarding the enrichment of uranium by the Islamic republic.

“We hope that Syria will help us in this effort for Iran to renounce decisions that endanger world peace,” said the French prime minister.

Fillon said France also was “very attentive” to Palestinian reconciliation between the Islamist group Hamas and Fatah, which dominates the Palestinian Authority led by president Mahmoud Abbas.

He added that France also was “available” to facilitate dialogue between Syria and Israel with Turkish mediation.

“We will do all that is necessary for the resumption of the dialogue,” he said.

Fillon was accompanied by Economic Minister Christine Lagarde, Culture Minister Frederic Mitterrand and a delegation of French businessmen when he arrived in Damascus on Friday.

He held talks later with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

Paris hopes to build economic ties with Syria at a time when the country is opening up more and more to foreign investments as part of its reforms.

Ties between France and Syria have warmed since Assad paid a landmark visit to Paris in 2008 for Bastille Day. French President Nicolas Sarkozy went to Damascus two months later, and Assad revisited Paris last November.

America’s First Consul in Damascus, a Brief History
An excellent article by Frederick Deknatel in The Faster Times

….. Mikhayil Mishaqa, a Christian notable from Lebanon became America’s first consul in Damascus in 1859. He witnessed a massacre of Christians in Damascus in 1860, a sordid event in the city’s long history.

Most travel passages today suggest visitors wander the alleyways of the Old City of Damascus, ducking into idyllic courtyards and seeing the church where Paul supposedly recovered from his conversion. Somewhere in that wandering is the street where Mikhayil Mishaqa was cornered by a mob.

Sectarian conflict over the hills in Mount Lebanon between Christian and Druze was about to spill into Damascus. Mishaqa, advisor to a prominent Lebanese amir, had moved to Damascus, where, as Eugene Rogan tells it, “he secured an appointment as the vice consul of a relatively minor power at the time, the United States of America.” Though Christian, he didn’t look fondly on newfound assertiveness among Christians of the region, who had recently been granted greater political rights under the Ottoman Empire.

“As the Empire began to implement reforms and equality among its subjects regardless of their religious affiliation,” Mishaqa wrote (quoted in Rogans’s excellent new history, The Arabs) “the ignorant Christians went too far in their interpretation of equality and thought that the small did not have to submit to the great, and the low did not have to respect the high. Indeed they thought that humble Christians were on a par with exalted Muslims.”

Needless to say, the US Embassy in Damascus’s website ignores this quote of Mishaqa in telling “The Evolution of U.S. – Syrian Diplomatic Relations.” The Feds keep it simple: “In January 1859, Doctor Michael Meshaka was appointed U.S. vice consul in Damascus. He served until April 22, 1870, and was succeeded by his son, Nasif, who served until February 10, 1914.”

News of religious violence in the area of what is now Lebanon reached the Muslim population in Damascus. After the town of Zahleh, a Christian stronghold, fell to the Druze, Mishaqa wrote of Damascenes’ reactions: “There was such rejoicing and celebration… you would have though the Empire had conquered Russia.” Christian refugees fled into the Old City as villages in the hinterland came under Druze attack.

The Ottoman governor of Damascus, “no friend to the city’s Christian community,” stoked fears by “posting cannons to ‘protect’ mosques from Christian attack.” Then he orchestrated a procession of Muslim prisoners “jailed for crimes against Christians” through the streets – sure enough before long, a mob was incited. They broke the captors free and turned on the Christian quarter.

The mob broke into Mishaqa’s house. He fled out a backdoor with his children, “hoping to take refuge in the house of a Muslim neighbor,” as Rogan writes. “At each turn, their path was blocked by rioters. To divert them, Mishaqa threw handfuls of coins and fled with his children while the crowd scrambled after his money.” Then they were cornered.

“I had nowhere to run. They surrounded me to strip and kill me. My son and daughter were screaming, ‘Kill us instead of our father!’ One of these wretches struck my daughter on the head with an ax, and he will answer for her blood. Another fired at me from a distance of six paces and missed, but I was wounded on my right temple by a blow with an ax, and my right side, face and arm were crushed by a blow with a cudgel. There were so many crowding around me that it was impossible to fire without hitting others.”

Somehow Mishaqa and his whole family survived the massacre; they were given sanctuary by a Muslim neighbor. Other Muslims helped Christians, most famously the Algerian resistance hero Abd al-Qadir, who had been living in exile in Damascus.

But the Christian quarter was leveled, and Mishaqa reported to the American consul in Beirut “that no less than 5,000 Christians had been killed… one-quarter of a community that numbered 20,000.” Damascus had never seen such sectarian violence.

Glass-photo of the destruction of the Christian Quarter in Damascus in 1860.

Obama’s nominee Robert Ford will have very different circumstances to contend with, and likely no mob will chase him through the streets. Though Ryan Crocker, the US envoy in the late 1990s, still holds a grudge against the Syrians, after a mob was allowed to riot in Damascus’s upscale Rawda neighborhood, home to the American embassy and residence. Clinton was bombing Baghdad at the time. Protesters scaled the walls of the compound, smashed the ambassador’s car and rampaged through the ground floor of the residence. His wife was alone inside and took refuge in the upstairs panic room.

U.S. Middle East Policy – A Road to Disaster
By Dan Lieberman, opednews.com: Dan Lieberman is editor of Alternative Insight, a monthly web based newsletter.

U.S. support for the repressive Saudi regime has assisted Saudi’s royal family to exerecise rigid political control and self-serving economic policies. The latter has aroused severe resentment from radicalized Muslims who suspect the U.S. support maintains Saudi power. All American administrations have ignored that Saudi Wahabbism and Sharia law, the most fundamentalist aspects of the Muslim religion, have developed an extreme ideology in Muslim youth. Let us recall that most of the 9/11 conspirators were Saudi and many of the al-Qaeda in Iraq militants proceeded from Saudi Arabia. Imagine if they originated from Syria? Would Syria even exist today?…

U.S. administrations consider Syria as an enemy, but why? The Syrians must answer to its repressive attitude, and its relations with states and groups which the U.S. determines undesirable. Nevertheless, these negative characteristics are not unique. China, Egypt and several other nations with whom the U.S. has close relations share similar attributes.

The U.S. can resolve its differences and clarifying its relations with Syria by understanding Syria’s position. Isn’t it natural for Syria to act hesitatingly with a nation who defends Israel, which has apprehended the Golan Heights? Why would Syria welcome U.S. troops at its borders after the invasion of Iraq? The U.S. exaggerates Syria’s obstinate policies and does not credit Syria with its helpful policies.

After Syrian President Bashar al-Asad denounced the 9/11 attacks, FBI agents traveled to Syria in 2002 and investigated al-Qaeda activists who had been in Syria or had maintained ties with Syrian citizens. Senior American officials were quoted as saying that the information provided by Syria helped prevent attacks on American targets in the Gulf and saved many American lives.

Syria’s most meaningful assistance to the world community and to the United States is its operation as a safety valve for refugee displacements. Syria has housed several hundreds of thousand Palestinian refugees for decades and granted them almost full rights. It has hosted two million Iraq refugees. What would have happened if Syria refused entry to these refugees?

Responding to U.S. and UN demands, Syria has removed its troops and authorities from Lebanon. Has Israel responded to UN requests to leave the West Bank? Unlike Israel, who bombed the U.S. ship USS liberty during the 1967 war, has denied entry to and imprisoned many U.S. citizens, and been complicit in the deaths of several Americans, the Syrian regime has never harmed any American. Doesn’t responsive to UN dictates and behavior to American citizens count in the formulation of foreign policy?

Iran showing fastest scientific growth of any country
18 February 2010 by Debora MacKenzie

It might be the Chinese year of the tiger, but scientifically, 2010 is looking like Iran’s year.

Scientific output has grown 11 times faster in Iran than the world average, faster than any other country. A survey of the number of scientific publications listed in the Web of Science database shows that growth in the Middle East – mostly in Turkey and Iran – is nearly four times faster than the world average.

Science-Metrix, a data-analysis company in Montreal, Canada, has published a detailed report (PDF) on “geopolitical shifts in knowledge creation” since 1980. “Asia is catching up even more rapidly than previously thought, Europe is holding its position more than most would expect, and the Middle East is a region to watch,” says the report’s author, Eric Archambault.

World scientific output grew steadily, from 450,000 papers a year in 1980 to 1,500,000 in 2009. Asia as a whole surpassed North America last year.

Nuclear, nuclear, nuclear

Archambaut notes that Iran’s publications have emphasised inorganic and nuclear chemistry, nuclear and particle physics and nuclear engineering. Publications in nuclear engineering grew 250 times faster than the world average – although medical and agricultural research also increased.

Science-Metrix also predicts that this year, China will publish as many peer-reviewed papers in natural sciences and engineering as the US. If current trends continue, by 2015 China will match the US across all disciplines – although the US may publish more in the life and social sciences until 2030…..

“The number of papers is a first-order metric that doesn’t capture quality,” admits Archambaut. There are measures for quality, such as the number of times papers are cited, and “Asian science does tend to be less cited overall”.

But dismissing the Asian surge on this basis is risky, he feels. “In the 1960s, when Japanese cars started entering the US market, US manufacturers dismissed their advance based on their quality” – but then lost a massive market share to Japan. The important message, he says, is that “Asia is becoming the world leader in science, with North America progressively left behind”.

Visiting French Prime Minister Francois Fillon said Sunday his country will help Jordan realize its nuclear ambitions with the signing of an agreement Sunday to mine its uranium reserves.  Jordan’s peaceful nuclear development – backed by the United States – will generate electricity and desalinate water.  The Jordanian government said it hoped nuclear energy will provide 30 percent of the country’s electricity by 2030.

‘New US envoy to Syria a mistake’
BY HERB KEINON, 22/02/2010

Democratic US Congressman Eliot Engel slams Obama’s Mideast policy.

US President Barack Obama’s decision to re-appoint an ambassador to Syria was a “mistake,” US Congressman Eliot Engel (D-New York) told The Jerusalem Post. Engel was the sponsor of a 2003 bill calling for sanctions against Syria if it doesn’t end support for terrorism and leave Lebanon.

In reference to the brouhaha over the Foreign Ministry’s decision not to meet with J Street members accompanying a delegation of US congressman, Engel – who was in Israel last week – defended the government’s right to meet with whom it saw fit. “It’s up to Israeli officials to decide who they will meet with, and who not to meet with,” he said. He pointed out that a number of the congressmen that J Street brought over vote against Israel on resolutions that generally carry massive support on the House floor.

In response to the editorial in the Washington Post last week, Ahmed Salkini, spokesperson at the Syrian Embassy, published this letter:

Engage Syria? Some favor it
By Ahmed Salkini, Washington Post

What I found most admirable about the Feb. 19 editorial “Dead end in Damascus” was its courage to stand up to voices from the left and the right, all the mainstream calls, and most of the world leaders and say: “No. Engagement will not work.”

I also found impressive that while a U.N. tribunal has spent years and millions of dollars trying to pinpoint the murderers of former Lebanese prime minister Rafiq al-Hariri and has failed, you succeeded. That while former secretary of state Colin L. Powell tells Newsweek that it upsets him when people said that he went to Syria and Syria did not deliver, you still repeat it. That while Sen. John F. Kerry (D-Mass.) lauds cooperation with Syria, you disagree. That when Mr. Kerry and then-Sen. Chuck Hagel (R-Neb.) say that “history shows that intensive diplomacy can pay off [with Syria],” you contest. And when they also say that “our policy of nonengagement has isolated us more than the Syrians” and Assistant Secretary of State Jeffrey D. Feltman says that “the United States, not Syria, seems to be isolated,” you still advocate nonengagement.

Luckily, there is a new administration that learns from history and heeds erudite advice.

Ahmed Salkini, Washington: The writer is the spokesman for the Embassy of Syria.

Comments (7)


1. milli schmidt said:

Test comment

Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

February 22nd, 2010, 5:20 pm

 

2. Freddy Deknatel said:

Thanks for posting my story on Mishaqa and his history! But headlines links to the Dan Lieberman op-ed.

Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

February 22nd, 2010, 6:26 pm

 

3. jad said:

Dear Dr. Landis and Alex,

Regarding Mm.Raghdah Hassan and the many similar writers, lawyers, human right defenders and the average Syrian citizen who are detained in jail for saying and writing their peaceful ideas and beliefs.
And what about the different treatment when things come to some radical people who are allowed to fill our media with hate and backward messages, we give those a ‘special’ forgiveness while we thrown in jail for years those who dare to ask for smart dialogs.
Why our Syrian representative being in the government or in the system are this much backward when it comes to human rights, justice system and freedom of speech?
Is it in our genes as Syrian to be so afraid from words and ideas, is it in our culture, in our religions, in our customs or in our education? I really can’t figure this out.
Don’t you agree that human rights and freedom of speech are no science, machines, physics, chemist or biology to add to our long list of handicapped majors?
Human rights are cheap, its results are priceless, and it’s even good for economy since it encourages writing, publishing and educating, yet our deaf government/system/regime doesn’t want to try to respect it or at leas to listen to it. Why?

Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

February 22nd, 2010, 10:30 pm

 

4. norman said:

What are the things that Syria is doing to encourage the Syrian Expats to invest in Syria , anybody knows ,?

Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

February 23rd, 2010, 3:06 am

 

5. Off the Wall said:

Norman
What are the things that Syria is doing to encourage the Syrian Expats to invest in Syria , anybody knows ,?

How about making Syria and living in Syria “more” appealing by arresting writers, civil right advocates, lawyers, and critics? 🙁

Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

February 23rd, 2010, 4:03 am

 

6. jad said:

الرئيس الأسد يصدر عفواً عاماً عن الجرائم المرتكبة قبل 23 شباط الجاري
http://www.syria-news.com/readnews.php?sy_seq=110191

و/ عن كامل العقوبة المؤقتة للمحكوم الذي اتم السبعين من العمر بتاريخ صدور هذا المرسوم التشريعي اذا كان قد اقترف الجريمة قبل اتمامه الستين من العمر .

ز/ عن كامل العقوبة المؤقتة او عن العقوبة المؤبدة للمحكوم المصاب بتاريخ صدور هذا المرسوم التشريعي بمرض عضال غير قابل للشفاء .

Shouldn’t that include Mr. Almaleh? I hope so.
What about other (writers, civil right advocates, lawyers, and critics?) are they included? I hope so.
I HOPE SO!

Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

February 23rd, 2010, 1:59 pm

 

7. jad said:

GREAT NEWS:
Those Syrian traitors and freedom lovers, AKA (writers, civil right advocates, lawyers, and critics?) will stay in jail forever and the creed wont include any of them. I guess they are not as good, honest, well educated or even as intelligent as any of the thieves and the corrupted persons who might get out pretty soon.

‘وكانت عدة مصادر حقوقية أكدت لـ “كلنا شركاء” اليوم أن مرسوم العفو لن يشمل بالتأكيد أياً من المعتقلين السياسيين سواء الذين صدرت بحقهم أحكام أو الذين مازالوا قيد المحاكمة. ورأت المصادر أن مرسوم العفو جاء ضيقاً، ولن يشمل الكثير من السجناء خاصة المحكومين أو الذين يحاكمون بقضايا جنائية. فآخر مرسوم عفو شمل الجرائم الجنائية كان قد صدر في العام 1988. ومنذ ذلك الحين فإن الجرائم الجنائية كانت مراسيم العفو تستثنيها، باستثناء الجرائم الاقتصادية ( سرقة واختلاس أموال الدولة) التي غالباً ما كانت مراسم العفو تشملها.”
http://all4syria.info/content/view/22031/96/

Dear Norman,
I guess you got the answer to your question in comment #3 directly from the system in less than 24 hours. It says (Don’t you dare to come back)
And that is my take 😉

Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

February 23rd, 2010, 5:55 pm

 

Post a comment