A new strategic alliance: Iran, Syria, Turkey and Iraq?

We learned from the Palestinians
By Zvi Bar’el

….[Israelis], it seems, like the Palestinians, know just when the time is right to miss an opportunity. When America has finally matured, we are using Benjamin Netanyahu and Avigdor Lieberman as a defensive shield against any initiative.

As Israel continues to dig in, the region is carrying on with its regular agenda. A new strategic alliance is emerging right in front of us. It comprises Iran, Syria, Turkey and Iraq. In this alliance, Russia holds the cards and the United States, which stood by watching under George W. Bush, is trying to find room at the table.

Baghdad Pact meeting in Tehran presided over by Shah Mohammed Riza Pahlevi, (at far end of table). Presiding over the meeting is Major General Isakander Mirza, (at head of table), President of Pakistan. Seated on Mirzas right is Turkish Premier Adnan Menderes. Seated on the Shahs right is Nour Said of Iraq. Pakistan;s Premier H. S. Sudrawardy is on the Shahs left.

Baghdad Pact meeting in Tehran presided over by Shah Mohammed Riza Pahlevi, (at far end of table). Presiding over the meeting is Major General Isakander Mirza, (at head of table), President of Pakistan. Seated on Mirza's right is Turkish Premier Adnan Menderes. Seated on the Shah's right is Nour Said of Iraq. Pakistan;s Premier H. S. Sudrawardy is on the Shah's left.

The convenient division between “moderate” and “extremist” Arab states is no longer useful. Friendly Qatar has become an ally of Syria; Saudi Arabia, which claimed the patent for the Arab initiative, is sending Foreign Minister Saud al-Faisal to Damascus to rebuild the Arab alliance. Syria, along with Iran, Iraq and Turkey, plans to set up a joint electricity grid, while Iran is being described as an enemy of the Arabs. The Arabs? Except for Syria, Qatar, Iraq and Sudan. The old arrangement that Israel thought it could navigate is falling apart. The bad guys and good guys are changing roles, and they are dragging the Western countries alone.

Who is an ally and who is an enemy? Who is the blind one here? Washington, which does not see where terrorism comes from, or Israel, which remains preoccupied with the locks on the gates to Gaza and the amounts of sugar, salt, concrete and iron to be allowed in? The United States, which is trying to adopt new methods against the Iranian threat and offer an alliance to Russia, or Israel, which is fumbling about trying to decide whether to procure an American anti-missile system or develop an anti-Qassam missile at a cost of $1 million each?

And what an achievement for Israel. The United States conditioned the transferring of its contribution to Gaza’s reconstruction to the release of Gilad Shalit. And what if the U.S. does not transfer the funds? How much will there be for reconstruction? How much is $5.5 billion minus $900 million? Still double what the Gaza Strip needs.

And what will happen if the reconciliation between Fatah and Hamas takes place and these two enemies set up a unity government, dispatch ambassadors to European countries and hold a dialogue? What if the Europeans sign agreements with the Palestinians and invite their representatives to set up offices in their capitals? What will happen to all this achievement? Britain is already ready to talk to Hezbollah; true, “only” with its political wing, as if it’s possible to separate the organization’s military and political wings. Which half of Hassan Nasrallah is Britain planning to talk to? And what about Hamas? After all, it, too, will soon find a European interlocutor.

Does anyone understand what is happening here? Perhaps the Western countries, who are fed up with the unintelligible conflict between Israel and the Palestinians, or Israel, which is keeping score on anyone who boycotts its academics and angry with those who undermine its definitions of who the enemy is.

But here comes a chance to put forth a new vision, to raise a new flag. In three weeks, the Arab League is meeting in Qatar. This is normally a ceremony void of substance, but twice in the past it set the tone. Once in Khartum, in 1967, when it declared the “three Nos” against Israel, and once in Beirut, in 2002, when the Arab initiative proposing recognition of Israel was approved. In 35 years the Arabs’ strategic concept has changed. It can change again in a month if Israel presents a new concept, clearly and loudly.

But we better not hold our breath. We have learned well how to miss opportunities; that is what happens when you spend so much time with the Palestinians.

Turkish FM: Turkey trying to ease U.S.-Iran tension By Reuters

Price to Woo Syria Could Be Steep
, By Jay Solomon and Nada Raad, WSJ

U.S. envoys held weekend talksSyria Comment › Edit — WordPress in Damascus, hoping to enlist Syria in Mideast stabilization efforts, but Syria’s president is expected to demand a heavy price in return. Mr. Assad has his own priorities. In particular, he wants Washington to push Israel for concessions over the disputed Golan Heights region.

Clinton: U.S. to push for Israel-Syria reconciliation
By Natasha Mozgovaya and Barak Ravid

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton stressed during her visit to Ankara that the United States would like to see a resumption of the talks between Israel and Syria. However, in closed talks Prime Minister-designate Benjamin Netanyahu said he prefers to give priority to the Palestinian track over the Syrian one. The importance of indirect peace talks between Syria and Israel “cannot be overstated,” Clinton said at the end of a meeting with her Turkish counterpart Ali Babacan.

The focus is on Syria, but the key is really Iran (March 09. 2009)
By Phil Sands, The National

…Syria’s ability to avoid making a stark choice will depend on US willingness to compromise with Iran, said Joshua Landis, a Syria specialist and director at the Centre for Middle East Studies at the University of Oklahoma.

“Traditionally, the US has sought to weaken both Iran and Syria, to lock them out of regional security discussions and deny their importance,” he said.

“If the US learns to offer them security – that is, stop threatening to overturn their regimes – and to compromise with them, then there is hope for an accommodation of interests in the region that could dramatically reduce tensions and radicalism. Of course Iran and Syria would have to meet the US half way and change some of their behaviour as well.”

US Envoys Hold ‘Constructive’ Talks in Syria (07 March 2009)
By Edward Yeranian, Cairo, Voice of America

Comments (84)

Pages: « 1 [2] Show All

51. Shami said:

Jad,how should we react in front of people who say bad words on the sahaba ,prophet’s wives and even ahlul bayt members and make takfir of them.It’s a real problem ,when it happens , we can not stay neutral in front of such enormities.It’s not different than Zakaria Butros deprecation of Islam.Now i’m not attacking the shias as whole ,there are moderate among them ,like the Zaydi shias of Yemen.Despite all ,we still consider them muslims as we consider muslims other deviant groups like the khawaridj.

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March 11th, 2009, 1:30 am


52. Off the Wall said:


AIPAC 1, Obama -10, common sense and decency -100

The more reason to be more resolute and vigilant than ever

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March 11th, 2009, 1:52 am


53. norman said:

Jad, Shami,

Can we stop arguing theology , Let God decide who is right and who is wrong , Let us here try to Use the talent of every Syrian and every Arab to improve the Arab Nation and advance the live of it’s people , I see no value in arguing who is first to go to heaven , I honestly do not care ,

Shami , what you should know that the minorities in the Arab world are afraid of the Majority Muslims looking at them as the Christian fundamentalists look at the Jews and the Muslims in the US , I think that should make it clear to you that the Minorities , especially the Christians need assurances from the Muslims that the Christians are equal to other Syrians including the Muslims and that they have the same right and obligations that the Muslims have including being anything they can be including being presidents if elected , Christians have no illusions that being elected president is not something easy but who would have guessed that the US will have an African American , first generation to add , as president , It just should be not allowed so Syria can use all the talent that it has.

Syrian Christians are afraid of being like Egypt where Christians are not allowed to build Churches , It was easier for Butros Galli to become a secretery general of the UN than being a forign minster in Egypt , what a loss of talent .

For the Muslims of Syria to gain support from the Christian communities and other minority communities leaders who are Muslims should assure the minorities of their place in Syria as equal to the Muslims in all rights and obligations ,
Until now i see no strong Muslim leader who can lead that charge.

May be you Shami , One day.

And that is my take!.

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March 11th, 2009, 1:59 am


54. norman said:

w w w . h a a r e t z . c o m


Last update – 03:10 11/03/2009
Netanyahu’s pre-election vow to Syria: Israel won’t provoke war
By Yoav Stern, Haaretz Correspondent

Even before last month’s elections, Benjamin Netanyahu sent a message to Syria promising that a government under him would “not provoke war” and would be interested in “seriously and genuinely exploring” a peace process.

Likud officials met with senior Syrian figures in January in Washington to prepare the ground for further exchanges after Israel’s next government takes office, Likud sources said.

The officials, however, did not express any willingness to make concessions or withdraw from the Golan Heights, as Syrian President Bashar Assad says is necessary.

The two sides agreed that the meetings may result in the resumption of negotiations with American mediation to be held after the Israeli government forms.

In his message, Netanyahu expressed a willingness to solve the Shaba Farms question and the issue of the village of Ghajar on the Israel-Lebanese border.

The meeting with the Syrians was held following an American initiative. Americans, including some affiliated with the Obama administration, are closely following the process.

The Syrians were represented by “a Syrian citizen of the highest stature in his country,” according to the Israeli sources.

The Likud officials updated Netanyahu immediately following their return to Israel, several days before the elections.

Assad, meanwhile, has said in recent months his government would be willing to negotiate with any government in Israel.

On Monday, Assad told Al Khalij, a daily published in the United Arab Emirates, that all Israeli governments are similar and Syria will negotiate with whomever represents Israel. But Assad was skeptical about Israeli governments, whether right or left. He said “one is bad and the other is worse – the right is right and the left is right, the right kills Arabs and the left kills Arabs.”

Similar exchanges are also being held by Likud officials with Palestinians, Likud sources say. They hope to massively boost the Palestinian economy and set the stage for calm and peace.

Related articles:

Likud MK confirms he met Syrian official in U.S.

Report: Syria won’t renew peace talks until Israel clarifies Golan plans

Bush to Olmert: Why are you giving Syria the Golan for nothing?



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March 11th, 2009, 2:13 am


55. Off the Wall said:


Amen to that. 🙂

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March 11th, 2009, 2:43 am


56. jad said:

Dear Norman,
NO, NO, and NO, I didn’t argue with this guy about religion issues, heaven, God or the right and wrong believes and faith are at all, so please don’t go where he wanted you to go with his delusions.
He creates this niche himself and he accuse me of being a sectarian, Islam faith attacker and that I’m afraid of Muslims and he keep going on and on about that, without even reading what I wrote and what I meant in my comments.
He doesn’t have the courage to notice his mistakes and he doesn’t have the courage to even apologize or prove his accusation he wrote above and describe them as “Crystal clear”.
You build your reputation in years and one day someone will destroy it for you in couple words.
I wont let it go until he recognize what he did and that he is wrong accusing me of something I’m not and something I do fight every time and everywhere I see it. He knows exactly what he is talking about and he knows very well that he is wrong yet he wont stop digging.
just read his last comment explaining to me about his stands regarding Shia as if nothing happened or as if I support any curse they might say during their prayers, he thinks that he can get away with what he already wrote couple hours ago.
I’m really disappointed of some of our countrymen who live in the west yet they learn nothing of their experience and their adventure and they trap themselves in an unproductive projects, I’m sorry for them.
Anyway, I appreciate your words, Thank you.

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March 11th, 2009, 2:44 am


57. norman said:


Thank you,

Jad ,

Cool down , It does not matter what anybody says , What matter is what in your heart that we all see,

Where are from in Syria , Are you from Aleppo , like everybody else as it seems.

I feel lonely coming from Homs and Hama.

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March 11th, 2009, 3:03 am


58. jad said:

Thank you Norman,
I’m from Damascus Half Shami half Mediterranean.
Don’t feel lonely my friend we all here for you.
Big smile.

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March 11th, 2009, 3:24 am


59. alia said:


You have nothing to offer to the people of our religion. The Sahaba that you think you are defending were not pointing the fingers at others they were making sure they were acceptable to Allah first of all but of course you and the like of you think that you got everything right- you think the Jihad al-Nafs ( the striving to purify oneself) belongs to someone else

There always were people who were mistaken or plain wrong, nobody put you in charge of them. You are in charge of yourself and in charge of what you have to offer in the sake of Allah (swt) and as far as I can see you only have incoherent talk.

You think that the people who built Andalusia were busy pointing fingers at others what you are writing is plain nonsense, the people of Andalusia have nothing to do with you or groups like the one you belong to. Like a lot of people you jump on a wild horse and you do not know where it is taking you.

Take care that you are not among the ones that are confused and lost. Neither the Sahaba (RA) nor ahl-al Bayt (AS) will recognize the state of people like you…

Worry first about your Islam and then worry about everybody else’s and whatever group you belong to May Allah (swt) prevent you from reaching any position where you can spread dissent among the people.

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March 11th, 2009, 10:40 am


60. Shami said:

Norman ,i told you ,i want the syrian christians to be more influential and i’m more sad than you are to see them leaving.
I want also the jews back in Syria.I’m nostalgic of Damascus,Aleppo,Cairo,Beirut,Alexandria,Smyrna,Istanbul,Sarajevo of the the Ottoman era and we syrians and the egyptians we inherited this wonderful cosmopolitan society ,am i responsible of its destruction?I told you on the identity of the culprit=dictatorial totalitarian regimes and before this date the European interventionism in Orient.What i said is not different from the opinion of Georges Corm ,a lebanese christian thinker.
Is he also pro Ben Laden Jad ?


Si on observe d’une manière objective la façon dont l’Empire ottoman a assuré la gestion de
cette diversité ethnique et communautaire, on ne peut passer sous silence la situation stable et
confortable pour leurs élites des nombreuses et importantes minorités (Grecs, Arméniens,
Chrétiens arabes d’églises orientales différentes), grâce aux réseaux d’intérêts économiques
qu’ils géraient dans le commerce ottoman avec l’Europe, l’artisanat, les services, ce qui leur
assurait richesse et respect. Quant à la dégradation de ces situations, elle a largement été le
résultat des politiques des Etats européens à l’égard de l’Empire ottoman, des conflits
d’intérêt entre ces Etats et de la concurrence acharnée à laquelle ils se livraient entre eux en
Méditerranée, concurrence ayant souvent recours au prétexte de la protection des minorités de
l’Empire, dans le but d’accroître leur influence et leurs domination sur cet Empire en
attendant son dépècement final

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March 11th, 2009, 10:47 am


61. Alia said:


No you do not want the Christians or the Jews, this is all cheap talk. Who do you think you are kidding…?

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March 11th, 2009, 10:56 am


62. Shami said:

Alia ,am i lying do you mean?

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March 11th, 2009, 11:24 am


63. Alia said:


Whether you are lying or plain confused is for you to figure out, you are dwelling with your own self.

Now you are busy abusing the Shia for what a group of them is saying about the Sahaba…instead of finding the commonality between yourself and the moderates among them and building a true brotherhood of the spirit as you were commanded.
Tomorrow you will abuse the Jews and the Christians because of what a group of them will say about the Prophethood or the Trinity. Would that be unheard of?

Who are the disbelievers and those who were lead astray in your discussion groups? Let me guess…

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March 11th, 2009, 12:23 pm


64. Shami said:

I have no problem with their own religious concepts,trinity or other and i’m aware that our christian brothers dont believe in the prophetical mission of Mohamad.It’s not a problem at all and i respect them as they are ,the problem exists when a party uses insults and mockery against the other ,this is the case of the rafidite shiites and a small number of christians,Is tolerance applicable towards such people ?.it’s not for the people who says that the wife of the prophet was a whore as repeats Zakaria Butros and Rafidite shias.Now if you accept such enormities for yourself,you are free ,it’s your problem but our societies can not be neutral when the people they consider as saints are reduced with the vilest means.
I have no problem with shia’ism as the mazhab of Jaafar al Sadiq,father of Aisha and grandson of Abu Bakr(from his mother side),teacher of Malik and Abu Hanifa.For example,there is no problem with the Zaydi shias.Nowadays the Ismailis and the Ibadiya of Oman,Tunisia and Algeria have build strong ties with us.So nothing is eternal.

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March 11th, 2009, 12:46 pm


65. Alia said:


What do you exactly mean by : “but our societies can not be neutral when the people they consider as saints are reduced with the vilest means.” What is the extent you are going to go to to silence those people ? Can you silence everybody? Is it your responsibility?

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March 11th, 2009, 12:52 pm


66. Shami said:

As i said ,if you accept it for yourself and your familly ,it’s your problem…But in general the muslims care about the honor of the prophet more than they care on their own.No need to invole the police in such situations.

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March 11th, 2009, 1:12 pm


67. Alia said:

Actually it is not my problem nor is it yours and do not instruct me on what the muslims in general care about, you have no such authority or knowledge.

such statements as:
“No need to invole the police in such situations.” do not belong to Islam or to the Prophetic example, they are in the realm of lawlessness that does not belong to the “democracy” that you are calling for either.

Poor guy- what a waste.

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March 11th, 2009, 1:20 pm


68. Shami said:

Alia , i’m not a pro theocracy bigot.
Islam is an important part of my identity but i also have other points of reference.
If the medieval muslims(Umayyads and Abassids) succeed to build greats civilizations,it was not thanks to religious bigotry but because they were practical people.

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March 11th, 2009, 1:39 pm


69. norman said:


can you tell me what the KSA do after the reticule of the prophet in European papers , what did they do to protect the faith , did they break relation or cut the oil supply to these ungrateful nation , what they do when the Palestinians were being killed , nothing , so please stop talking the Talk , walk the walk and do something to the people who offend the Muslims and Arabs from the West.

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March 11th, 2009, 2:25 pm


70. Shami said:

Norman,I’m not a representative of the Saudi Regime.
And let me tell you ,i see more Islam in 21th century Europe than in our countries.So it’s true that we are against Europe for its foreign policy but for its internal policy ,we look at it as a model in many fields.

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March 11th, 2009, 2:38 pm


71. Shami said:

In the middle ages of Europe ,the positive influence was in the opposite direction ,from the Islamic world to Pre Renaissance Europe.

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March 11th, 2009, 2:43 pm


72. Shami said:

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March 11th, 2009, 2:58 pm


73. SimoHurtta said:

And let me tell you ,i see more Islam in 21th century Europe than in our countries.

???????????????????????? What do you mean?

The Renaissance happened over 300 years ago and actually it was a process to reduce the religion’s influence and “iron grip” in human thinking. Sure European artists and scientists took the opportunity to assimilate Greek and Arabic scientific (not religious) knowledge. After Renaissance the Church and religion never again could get back that total control of the society, which caused a long period of slow or no development. Slowly but steadily religion was pushed to the role it now has in developed western countries.

I am no expert in the history of Islam and Arab countries but I suppose that the most successful periods in that history where times when dogmatic religious attitude was lower than “normally”. In times when people were allowed to think and speak with out a bunch of religious figures jumping in and saying that is not “allowed”.

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March 11th, 2009, 4:15 pm


74. Alia said:

Sure European artists and scientists took the opportunity to assimilate Greek and Arabic scientific (not religious) knowledge.


Actually, Islamic Philosophy springing from Islamic religious thought’s encounter with Aristotle affected catholic religious thought in a most profound way- I am speaking of the influence of Ibn Rushd of Andalusia esp. on Thomas Aquinas…

Both Islamic and Jewish Mysticism affected Christian mysticism, as seen in John of the Cross and Theresa of Avilla.


Of course, at the time both philospophy and mysticism were part and parcel of Islam. Now both groups are considered more or less heretics by the more or less ignorant leading authorities as well as the people who think they know all there is to know about Islam.

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March 11th, 2009, 5:48 pm


75. Nour said:


I think that what Simohurta was trying to say was that science and art were not able to flourish in Europe until power was whisked away from religious authority and religion was relegated to its natural place. This is contrary to what Shami is advocating, as he believes in the inception of a religious state.

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March 11th, 2009, 6:26 pm


76. alia said:


I have taken what Simo said and what you are saying ( and what we have been taught rather uncreatively on the subject) a step further.

There would have been no Renaissance had there been no influx of philosophy and mysticism along with the sciences and arts of the Arabs, the Greeks and others…of the kind that came from Andalusia. It is not just the society of the Middle Ages that needed to redefine the role of religion as you are stating, it is the Christian religion under the Papacy that needed to re-invent itself, as it was doing already through the 30 year war, the various sects, the new doctrinal reform and without philosophy- even if it is implicit- there is no society.

As for religion being “relegated to its natural place”, I think this is another superficial observation that we have been taught from the West. What does NATURAL mean semantically? Who defines the natural place of religion?

As far back as we can tell, religion was at the center of society. The fact that for a couple of hundred years it is “relegated” to the periphery in a small percentage of the world population does not make it its “natural” place. The experience is ongoing and we should see the results…

Needless to say, nothing that i am saying has anything to do with what Shami is saying unless completely by accident since I have no clue what he is talking about most of the time truthfully.

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March 11th, 2009, 7:41 pm


77. Off the Wall said:

Dear Jad
I can understand your anger and frustration after being accused of sectarianism. Yet, I do not believe that many of us take such accusation seriously. I for one, never doubted your secular credential and I am in full support of your vision of our Syria. We all need your enthusiasm, energy, and devotion of our mother country. From where I stand, your sensitivity to this issue does not indicate fear of Islam, it indicate a deep commitment to a secular and equal Syria, where everyone lives happy not because of the grace of other groups, but because they entitled to that. I guess this is one fundamental difference I have with those who advocate a mythical benevolent Caliphate. They view granting others some minor rights as a gesture, not as a duty. The essence of true democracy is not in the rule of majority, it is in the equal rights of all.

Nour and Simo
I tend to agree with Alia on this one. It was the whole package.

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March 11th, 2009, 8:01 pm


78. Nour said:


When I said that religion was relegated to its natural place, I meant away from the political sphere and in the metaphysical and philosophical sphere. I don’t believe that society has to be religion-free for it to advance, but I do believe that the political system has to be completely separate from religious authorities and ecclessiastical bodies. What I am against is the transformation of religion into a temporal, political and administrative affair and not the theological or philosophical ideals pertaining to the mysteries of the soul and of immortality, the creator and the supernatural.

I recognize that Islamic philosophers contributed their part in enlightening the Europeans which lead to the Renaissance. And this is where I believe religion is at its best. But the Renaissance also helped realize that religious institutions must be completely separate from the political life of the nation for free thinking to materialize, leading to advancement and development.

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March 11th, 2009, 9:04 pm


79. Alia said:


That is very well stated and we are in agreement.

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March 11th, 2009, 9:17 pm


80. SimoHurtta said:

Nour is right about what I did mean. As an engineer by education I see that the biggest benefits of Renaissance that science was able to be separate itself from the tight grip of the religious based governing “apparatus”. Also during Renaissance the foundation for non religious based philosophy and social sciences was laid.

Without doubt during the complex and long development which the Renaissance era was, many impulses from different other religions and societies were adopted. But giving all or most credit to philosophy and mysticism along with the sciences and arts of the Arabs, the Greeks and others is in my mind a bit “exaggerated”. To get the Renaissance “working” were needed those brave soles who where able call into question the official “truth” and seek for new information and impulses. And they did not copy the ideas in the 1:1 ratio and made big own modifications.

It is for me difficult to understand how an extremely dogmatic and orthodox religious society could function and develop on the moral and legal foundation and rules created thousands years ago. Could the Talebans, Jewish ultra orthodoxes or the US “intelligent design” people run a modern developed country with the rules and world view which did fit to a agricultural and nomad cultures millenniums ago? Hardly.

In Finland was some time ago made a poll about how the people see the role of religion in our society. The majority did see religion as a personal affair, not any more a “state” affair, and favoured that religion should have as little influence in normal politics as possible. I suppose that the same attitude is dominant also in other European countries including the catholic countries.

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March 11th, 2009, 10:29 pm


81. alia said:

But giving all or most credit to philosophy and mysticism along with the sciences and arts of the Arabs, the Greeks and others is in my mind a bit “exaggerated”


I certainly did not mean to give all or most credit to the Arabs etc…on the other hand, there is nothing negative about acknowledging that most civilizations benefited greatly from what came before them. We know quite well how much Europe benefited from the proximity of the Islamic civilization.

Recently, someone brought up the issue of the Islamic mind and Elie Elhadj responded on the topic.

Before a man picks up a hammer and drives a nail to make a different object than ever before, something in his mind, his imagination, his sense of who he is, what he is doing, the purpose of his new action must have changed.

This is what the Qur\’an did for the Arabs and this is what permitted them to break out and explore the world and take in from other civilizations and make new steps in every scientific branch.
The text of the Qur\’an and its philosophical, spiritual implications on the place of man in the world, his freedom from superstition, his allegiance only to God, the joys and marvels of discovering the Creation and the laws that cover and rule it and through them to know something about the Creator…all that was explicitly stated and implicitly and explicitly understood by the people who received the Message. And it was an immensely liberating message from the ignorance of the ages that had preceded. As opposed to the Catholic Church, Islam did not restrict science or knowledge until it reached its lowest points that we are witnessing now with Talibans and Takfiris and Jihadis and the KSA and its rulers etc…who have squandered billions of wealth and remain one of the most uncivilized and unproductive places on earth.

The Islamic civilization was not built by Taleban or their likes nor by people who spent their time discussing what type of veil the women should have. The beginning of Islam was not dogma and doctrine.

When Andalusia and the rest of the Islamic world was enjoying civilization, the Church in contrast was ruling in Europe and it was the rule of dogma and ignorance. Physicians were studying live patients and dissecting dead bodies without any hindrance in the world of Islam while the Church continued to forbid dissection of bodies well into the 15th century- with threats of excommunication.

Compare the status of physicians of all religions, of patients of all religions, hospitals and medical faculties between the Islamic world and Europe in the middle-ages



So yes, the man who does the work of the engineer is a brave soul but this man stands on the shoulder of others who have allowed him the freedom to be in his shed using his god-given abilities to advance science and engineering etc…without threats or interference.

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March 12th, 2009, 2:09 am


82. Shami said:

Simo ,what I meant are the social accomplishments in Europe ,rule of law and democracy not the spiritual side.
The philosophical dilemma of the Catholic church towards the temporal and the spiritual should not be transposed to the Islamic context ,the clerical rule as it was known in Europe had no equivalent in the Islamic history.
Clericalism did not exist in Islam and should not ,the Caliphs who played an important role in development of science ,despite their religious title as successors of the prophet were not men of religion in the sense of Islamic clerk or muftis .The men of religion were of two kinds ,those who were subjected to the authority of the “prince” and the dissidents,those who opposed the policy of the ruler(Ibn Hanbal ,Ibn Taymiyya). As for the scientists, they were rewarded in Gold and we dont known in the history of Islam,trials who opposed clerics to scientists such as what happened to Galileo.
Some were at the same time men of religion and men of science and philosophy ,i cite for example , Ibn Roshd(lat:Averroes)commentator of Aristotle,was a malikite judge ;the physician Ibn Nafis al Dimashqi (the first to describe the blood circulation ) was Hadith Scholar.
Ibn Khaldun ,the founder of sociology ,also was an islamic judge.

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March 12th, 2009, 3:36 am


83. Zinko said:

The Iraq-Syria-Iran-Turkey alliance with Russia as a silent partner was first proposed by Ahmad Chalabi.

You can check for yourselves.

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March 13th, 2009, 5:21 am


84. norman said:

SYRIA: Damascus getting courted from all sides

The Syrians know what they want: to have their cake and eat it too.

The government in Damascus wants to enjoy good relations with moderate Arab regimes and Western powers while conserving its strong ties with Iran and non-state actors like Hamas and Hezbollah, analysts say.

But what do the Americans want in the Middle East?

From the point of view of Arab observers, the U.S. policy in the region has been inconsistent .

One day, it’s waging war in Iraq. Another day, it is stating support for the creation of a Palestinian state while approving of Israeli politicians who don’t seem to want it.

Then lately, with President Obama in office, it is engaging with the Syrians to woo them away from the influence of the Iranians.

After the visit of senior U.S. diplomats to Damascus last week, Saudi Arabia and Egypt are courting Syria to join the U.S.-allied Arab front instead of sticking with Iran, a non-Arab state.

The kingdom on Wednesday hosted the Egyptian and Syrian leaders in a bid to reconcile their diverging views of the region.

But many wonder whether the U.S. and its regional allies are really serious about delivering what Damascus expects in order to loosen its relations with Tehran.

The Syrians have expressed their willingness to hold peace talks with Israel — but only if they are brokered by the U.S. They have repeatedly said that they expect nothing less than the return of the water-rich and strategically important Golan Heights, which were seized by Israel in 1967.

Most expect Syria to remain on its best behavior in Lebanon and Iraq for a while in case it is rewarded with better economic and diplomatic relations with the West.

Egypt needs Syria to help mediate a reconciliation between the Islamic militant group Hamas and the Palestinian Authority led by the Western-backed Mahmoud Abbas.

Saudi Arabia is, meanwhile, trying to get Syria back on the wagon of an Arab initiative, which offers Israel peace in exchange for the return of Arab land.

But if Syria doesn’t regain control over the Golan Heights, politicians and diplomats say, it’s hard to imagine why Damascus would let go of proxies such Hezbollah in Lebanon and Hamas in the Gaza Strip.

Israel has not appeared eager to give back the land. So the task of wooing Syria might not be easy after all.

Relations between Syria and the so-called moderate Arab states soured tremendously after the summer 2006 war between Israel and Hezbollah, when Syrian President Bashar Assad described leaders of Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Jordan as “half-men” for their failure to act to stop the Israeli counteroffensive.

Iran and Syria back Hezbollah, a Shiite Muslim militant group in Lebanon that is viewed with suspicion by predominantly Sunni Muslim Egypt and Saudi Arabia.

— Raed Rafei in Beirut

Photo: King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia, center, speaks with Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, left, and Syrian President Bashar Assad in the Saudi capital, Riyadh. Credit: Hassan Ammar /Associated Press

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March 13th, 2009, 12:11 pm


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