As Commodity Prices Soar, the Income Gap Rips at Society’s Middle

Photo: The cost of many basic foods, like at this market in Amman, has doubled. Some in the middle class are tilting toward poverty.

The Middle East is being hit with high rates of inflation caused by sky rocketing prices for primary commodities and basic food stuffs, high unemployment, and the dismantling of age old subsidies. Many Arab countries have been pulling the plug on food and energy subsidies for decades.

Syrians are facing a double whammy – radical hikes in food and petrol prices combined with slashes in state subsidies.

In Lebanon, prices have risen by 43 percent over the past 21 months while the official unemployment rate stands at 10 percent, although independent estimates put it at 20 percent.

In Egypt, "food prices rose by up to 50 percent, a hard blow to the poor, who spend a higher proportion of their incomes on foodstuffs." writes Reuters. Consumer prices rose 14.4 percent in the year to March, the highest inflation rate in more than three years. Mubarak responded on Wednesday by proposing a 30 percent increase in basic public-sector salaries, which start at about 300 pounds ($56) a month. He told his government to find the extra revenue to cover the extra cost. Police are stationed heavily about the city to prevent the sort of protests that rocked the city in April.

In Jordan, security forces recently arrested three activists for distributing leaflets calling for a general strike to protest food prices and government policies that fail to help the poor, activists said on Sunday. Jordan's government has enforced steep fuel price rises and the cost of everything from bread to apartments has soared, hitting many people hard. Activists say the authorities have in recent weeks refused permission to allow any public protests against the price hikes. 

Robert Worth of the NYTimes recently wrote and interesting analysis of the regional tensions stemming from run away inflation.

Even as it enriches Arab rulers, the recent oil-price boom is helping to fuel an extraordinary rise in the cost of food and other basic goods that is squeezing this region’s middle class and setting off strikes, demonstrations and occasional riots from Morocco to the Persian Gulf.

Many in Jordan are feeling the squeeze of higher prices. At a mall in Amman, the empty aisles reflect people’s inability to spend.

Here in Jordan, the cost of maintaining fuel subsidies amid the surge in prices forced the government to remove almost all the subsidies this month, sending the price of some fuels up 76 percent overnight. In a devastating domino effect, the cost of basic foods like eggs, potatoes and cucumbers doubled or more.

In Saudi Arabia, where inflation had been virtually zero for a decade, it recently reached an official level of 6.5 percent, though unofficial estimates put it much higher. Public protests and boycotts have followed, and 19 prominent clerics posted an unusual statement on the Internet in December warning of a crisis that would cause “theft, cheating, armed robbery and resentment between rich and poor.”

The inflation has many causes, from rising global demand for commodities to the monetary constraints of currencies pegged to the weakening American dollar. But one cause is the skyrocketing price of oil itself, which has quadrupled since 2002. It is helping push many ordinary people toward poverty even as it stimulates a new surge of economic growth in the gulf.

The Middle East’s heavy reliance on food imports has made it especially vulnerable to the global rise in commodity prices over the past year, said George T. Abed, the former governor of the Palestine Monetary Authority and a director at the Institute of International Finance, an organization based in Washington.

Corruption, inefficiency and monopolistic economies worsen the impact, as government officials or business owners artificially inflate prices or take a cut of such increases.

“For many basic products, we don’t have free market prices, we have monopoly prices,” said Samer Tawil, a former minister of national economy in Jordan. “Oil, cement, rice, meat, sugar: these are all imported almost exclusively by one importer each here. Corruption is one thing when it’s about building a road, but when it affects my food, that’s different.”

In the oil-producing gulf countries, governments that are flush with oil money can soften the blow by spending more. The United Arab Emirates increased the salaries of public sector employees by 70 percent this month; Oman raised them 43 percent. Saudi Arabia also raised wages and increased subsidies on some foods. Bahrain set up a $100 million fund to be distributed this year to people most affected by rising prices. But all this government spending has the unfortunate side effect of worsening inflation, economists say. Countries with less oil to sell do not have the same options.

In Syria, where oil production is drying up, prices have also risen sharply. Although it has begun to liberalize its rigid socialist economy, the government has repeatedly put off plans to eliminate the subsidies that keep prices artificially low for its citizens, fearing domestic reprisals.

Even so, the inflation of the past few months has taken a toll on all but the rich.

Thou al-Fakar Hammad, an employee in the contracts office of the Syrian state oil company, has a law degree and earns just less than 15,000 Syrian pounds, or $293, a month, twice the average national wage. His salary was once more than adequate, and until recently he sent half of it to his parents.

But rising prices have changed all that, he said. Now he has taken a second job teaching Arabic on weekends to help support his wife and young child. Unable to buy a car, he takes public buses from his two-room apartment just outside Damascus to work. He can afford the better quality diapers for his son to wear only at night and resorts to cheaper ones during the day. He cannot send anything to his parents.

“I have to live day to day,” he said. “I can’t budget for everything because, should my child get sick, I’d spend a lot of what I earn on medication for him.”

At the same time, a new class of entrepreneurs, most of them with links to the government, has built gaudy mansions and helped transform Damascus, the Syrian capital, with glamorous new restaurants and cafes. That has helped fuel a perception of corruption and unfairness, analysts say. On Wednesday the state-owned newspaper Al Thawra published a poll that found that 450 of 452 Syrians believed that their state institutions were riddled with corruption.

“Many people believe that most of the government’s economic policies are adopted to suit the interests of the newly emerging Syrian aristocracy, while disregarding the interests of the poor and lower middle class,” said Marwan al-Kabalan, a political science professor at Damascus University.

The same attitudes are visible in Jordan. Even before the subsidies on fuel were removed this month, inflation had badly eroded the average family’s earning power over the past five years, said Mr. Tawil, the former economic minister. Although the official inflation rate for 2007 was 5.4 percent, government studies have shown that middle-income families are spending far more on food and consuming less, he added. Last year a survey by the Economist Intelligence Unit found that Amman was the most expensive Arab capital in cost of living.

Mr. Abdul Raheem, the clothing store employee in Amman, said, “No one can be in the government now and be clean.”

Meanwhile, his own life has been transformed, Mr. Abdul Raheem said. He ticked off a list of prices: potatoes have jumped to about 76 cents a pound from 32 cents. A carton of 30 eggs went to nearly $4.25 from just above $2; cucumbers rose to 58 cents a pound from about 22. All this in a matter of weeks.

“These were always the basics,” he said. “Now they’re luxuries.”

Syria: Public sector salaries up by 25 percent
Posted: 04-05-2008 , 07:48 GMT

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad on Saturday issued a decree, stipulating a raise of 25 percent to the monthly salaries and wages for the civil and military workers of the state ministries, administrations, public establishments, companies of the public sector, municipalities, popular work, the permanently confiscated companies and private schools and similar public sector bodies. According to SANA, the Syrian leader also ordered a raise of 25 percent to the pensions of the retired civilians and military veterans.

The news agency quoted Syria's Finance Minister Mohammed al-Hussein as saying that more than two million people will be affected by the increases which will be effective from May. Syria's state employees earn an average monthly salary equivalent to US$175.

According to AFP, Assad's decision to raise salaries came as sources in Syria reported the price of heating oil had climbed by 340 percent per litre on Saturday. Over the past week the price of foodstuff including vegetables, meat, milk, cereals and cooking oil has grown by 30-60 percent, prompting the government to stop the import of certain cereals including lentils and bulgar wheat

The Syrian government more than tripled the price of gas oil on Saturday, kicking off a program to remove big subsidies on the fuel.
Khalid Oweis, Reuters

Pump owners said a liter of gas oil went up to the equivalent of 54 U.S. cents from 15 cents. The state imports large volumes of the fuel at around $1 liter.

An official in the ruling Baath party told Reuters last month that preparations were under way for the gradual removal of gas oil subsidies, which cost the treasury $9 billion a year.

Gas oil is used in Syria on a large scale for industry, transport and heating.

The gas oil price increase came as the government announced a 25 percent hike in public sector salaries to help the population absorb rising living costs and the impact of subsidy cuts.

The increase, which will take effect this month, covers 2 million public workers and retirees, the state news agency said. Syria has a population of 18 million.

The government has taken limited steps to liberalize the economy and lower subsidies in recent years to counter U.S.-led efforts to isolate Syria and the impact of falling production of crude oil, the main source of hard currency.

Petrol prices went up sharply in the last two years to 87 U.S. cents a liter.

Syria's top cellphone firm posts 29 pct profit rise
Sun May 4, 2008 by Khaled Yacoub Oweis

DAMASCUS, May 4 (Reuters) – Net profit at Syria's largest mobile phone operator Syriatel rose 29 percent in 2007 to 6.67 billion Syrian pounds ($150.2 million) compared to the year earlier, according to annual results published on Sunday.

An increase in customers and an expansion of services were behind the improvement, said Syriatel, which is negotiating to be taken over by Turkish counterpart Turkcell TCELL.IS(TKC.N: Quote, Profile, Research).

Revenue rose 24 percent over the same period to 39.4 billion pounds ($856.5 million) and subscribers rose 33 percent to 3.34 million, comprising 55 percent of the Syrian market.

Network Capacity rose by 1.4 million lines to 4.7 million and infrastructure for an advanced 3G broadband Internet service was set up but the lack of government approval has delayed full launch of the service, the company said.

"The service will increase our customers and solve the Internet bottleneck problems of Syria," Syriatel said in an advert in local newspapers.

Syriatel is at least 69 percent owned by Rami Makhlouf, who is the target of U.S. sanctions imposed on him in February as part of a U.S.-led campaign to isolate the Baath Party-led government in Damascus.

Gulf shareholders own a minority share of Syriatel, which has a 10 percent stake in a Yemeni mobile operator with 120,000 subscribers.

Makhlouf, the cousin of President Bashar al-Assad and Syriatel's chairman, is negotiating to sell most of his share to Turkcell for an estimated price of around $1 billion.

Diplomats and financiers told Reuters this week that he United States was putting pressure on Turkcell to abandon the takover.

The U.S.Treasury Department has warned American investors in Turkcell, which is listed in Istanbul and New York, about the company's plan to buy Syriatel, they said.

Turkcell denied on Thursday there was U.S. pressure on the company to scrap the deal and said that the talks with Syriatel were continuing. Turkcell had expected the negotiations to conclude in March.

The Treasury Department has designated Makhlouf "a regime insider whom improperly benefits from and aids the public corruption of Syrian regime officials." The move was made under an expansion of the sanctions announced in an executive order by President George W. Bush on Feb. 13.

The order freezes any assets Makhlouf holds under U.S. jurisdiction and forbids American citizens or entities from doing business with him. Makhlouf, 39, has denied the U.S. charges. He said he did not have assets in the United States and his businesses were legitimate.

The propane cylinder is up to 250 Syrian pounds from 145.

Rice Says Mideast Peace Deal Achievable but Henry Siegman, writing in the Nation, exclaims:

It is hard to believe that after the long string of failed peace initiatives, stretching back at least to the Madrid conference of 1991, diplomats are recycling these failures without seemingly having a clue as to why the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is even more hopeless today than before these peace exercises first got under way. The scandal of the international community's impotence in resolving one of history's longest bloodlettings is that it knows what the problem is but does not have the courage to speak the truth, much less deal with it. …

There is no prospect for a viable, sovereign Palestinian state, primarily because Israel's various governments, from 1967 until today, have never had the intention of allowing such a state to come into being. It would be one thing if Israeli governments had insisted on delaying a Palestinian state until certain security concerns had been dealt with. But no government serious about a two-state solution to the conflict would have pursued, without letup, the theft and fragmentation of Palestinian lands, which even a child understands makes Palestinian statehood impossible. …

 

 

Comments (268)


Alex said:

Where is Ehsani??

Will the 25% increase lead t higher inflation or will we only see price increases in products and services that rely heavily on Gas oil?

May 4th, 2008, 10:49 pm

 

Alex said:

Here is a piece of wonderful news: : )

The Neocons will be back!

Speaking Monday at a fascinating on-the-record session on U.S.-Russia relations at the Nixon Center, former Reagan administration official Robert McFarlane declared that McCain’s first year as president would be “neocon redux.” McFarlane, who was Reagan’s national security advisor and who supports McCain’s candidacy, emphasized that he wasn’t speaking as a member of McCain’s team, but as a practical realist and private citizen. His remarks were uttered in a calm tone, and all the more blistering for it. McFarlane pointed out that Ronald Reagan was dealing with a declining Soviet Union and from a position of strength, while McCain would be dealing with a resurgent Russia, one that it would be foolish to heedlessly antagonize. According to McFarlane, “the youngsters” would run foreign policy the first year and then likely be “fired” by the second after they mess up.

My ears perked up when I heard this assessment because it confirms what I’ve been hearing elsewhere: while Henry Kissinger, Brent Scowcroft, and other realist elders are consulted by McCain, his heart is with the younger neocons, the “beavers,” in the words of one McCain supporter, who draft the speeches and get the grunt work done. As Fareed Zakaria points out in the Washington Post today, the result is disastrous recommendations such as threatening to expel Russia from the G-8. In the aftermath of the Iraq debacle, the U.S. needs allies, not enemies. But the neocons don’t see it that way.

The gap — and it is fundamental — in the GOP today is generational. The elderly realists haven’t groomed anyone to replace them. The neocons have. Hence neocon redux. When someone of McFarlane’s stature offers the assessment that the neocons are in charge, then it’s pretty much official. The longer the election campaign goes on, the clearer it becomes that the neocons aren’t back. They never went away.

May 4th, 2008, 10:50 pm

 

Alex said:

And

McCain’s Radical Foreign Policy

Fareed Zakaria, Newsweek

Amid the din of the dueling Democrats, people seem to have forgotten about that other guy in the presidential race-you know, John McCain. McCain is said to be benefiting from this politically because his rivals are tearing each other apart. In fact, few people are paying much attention to what the Republican nominee is saying, or subjecting it to any serious scrutiny.

On March 26, McCain gave a speech on foreign policy in Los Angeles that was billed as his most comprehensive statement on the subject. It contained within it the most radical idea put forward by a major candidate for the presidency in 25 years. Yet almost no one noticed.

In his speech McCain proposed that the United States expel Russia from the G8, the group of advanced industrial countries. Moscow was included in this body in the 1990s to recognize and reward it for peacefully ending the cold war on Western terms, dismantling the Soviet empire and withdrawing from large chunks of the old Russian Empire as well. McCain also proposed that the United States should expand the G8 by taking in India and Brazil-but pointedly excluded China from the councils of power.

We have spent months debating Barack Obama’s suggestion that he might, under some circumstances, meet with Iranians and Venezuelans. It is a sign of what is wrong with the foreign-policy debate that this idea is treated as a revolution in U.S. policy while McCain’s proposal has barely registered. What McCain has announced is momentous-that the United States should adopt a policy of active exclusion and hostility toward two major global powers. It would reverse a decades-old bipartisan American policy of integrating these two countries into the global order, a policy that began under Richard Nixon (with Beijing) and continued under Ronald Reagan (with Moscow). It is a policy that would alienate many countries in Europe and Asia who would see it as an attempt by Washington to begin a new cold war.

I write this with sadness because I greatly admire John McCain, a man of intelligence, honor and enormous personal and political courage. I also agree with much of what else he said in that speech in Los Angeles. But in recent years, McCain has turned into a foreign-policy schizophrenic, alternating between neoconservative posturing and realist common sense. His speech reads like it was written by two very different people, each one given an allotment of a few paragraphs on every topic.

The neoconservative vision within the speech is essentially an affirmation of ideology. Not only does it declare war on Russia and China, it places the United States in active opposition to all nondemocracies. It proposes a League of Democracies, which would presumably play the role that the United Nations now does, except that all nondemocracies would be cast outside the pale. The approach lacks any strategic framework. What would be the gain from so alienating two great powers? How would the League of Democracies fight terrorism while excluding countries like Jordan, Morocco, Egypt and Singapore? What would be the gain to the average American to lessen our influence with Saudi Arabia, the central banker of oil, in a world in which we are still crucially dependent on that energy source?

The single most important security problem that the United States faces is securing loose nuclear materials. A terrorist group can pose an existential threat to the global order only by getting hold of such material. We also have an interest in stopping proliferation, particularly by rogue regimes like Iran and North Korea. To achieve both of these core objectives-which would make American safe and the world more secure-we need Russian cooperation. How fulsome is that likely to be if we gratuitously initiate hostilities with Moscow? Dissing dictators might make for a stirring speech, but ordinary Americans will have to live with the complications after the applause dies down.

To reorder the G8 without China would be particularly bizarre. The G8 was created to help coordinate problems of the emerging global economy. Every day these problems multiply-involving trade, pollution, currencies-and are in greater need of coordination. To have a body that attempts to do this but excludes the world’s second largest economy is to condemn it to failure and irrelevance. International groups are not cheerleading bodies but exist to help solve pressing global crises. Excluding countries won’t make the problems go away.

McCain appears to think that he can magically unite the two main strands in the Republican foreign-policy establishment. But he can’t. This is not about personalities but about two philosophically divergent views of international affairs. Put together, they will produce infighting and incoherence. We have seen this movie before. We have watched an American president unable to choose between his ideologically driven vice president and his pragmatic secretary of State-and the result was the catastrophe of George W. Bush’s first term. Twenty-five years earlier, we watched another president who believed that he could encompass the entire spectrum of foreign policy. He, too, gave speeches that were drafted by advisers with divergent world views: in that case, Cyrus Vance and Zbigniew Brzezinski. It led to the paralyzing internal battles of the Carter years. Does John McCain want to try this experiment one more time?

May 4th, 2008, 10:53 pm

 

Qifa Nabki said:

Alex,

With respect to McCain and the neo-cons, this was precisely what I was trying to point out a few months ago, when we discussed Bashar’s “wait-for-a-new-administration” strategy.

In my opinion, Bashar is not waiting for a more sympathetic ear. He’s waiting because he can, and because there is no sense in making concessions to a departing and hostile American president.

If McCain wins — hell, even if Hillary or Obama win — I truly believe that we’re not going to see much change, at least not for the next three years at least. And that’s if there is any significant change to speak of.

May 4th, 2008, 11:44 pm

 

majedkhaldoun said:

very good post about the scary inflation, everyone in Syria is talking about it, Bloudan Grand restaurant is half full, even that they have special discount,Khawali restaurant had only three tables that are used by customers, Restaurant in Sahara,owned by Shahroor, one closed, and the other is having hard time, the only busy restaurant is Jabri, the sheraton is empty.

May 4th, 2008, 11:46 pm

 

norman said:

Alex, QN ,

Is it possible that McCain with his desire to win and stabilize Iraq will be willing to deal with Syria and possibly Iran as long as he gets something in return,

About the increase in public sector employees salary , It is long overdue to retain good employees and prevent bribery taking to survive , now the Syrian government should get rid of the employees that sign in and sign out without working actually working somewhere else under the table without paying taxes ,

The increase in prices is mostly related to the increase in oil prices , the question i have is whether the Arabs of Egypt , Jordon and Syria who are suffering the most will shed a tear if the US or Iran attack the gulf states to control the oil supply .

I think it is time to have a national Arab tax that will be used to solve the economic problems that Arab countries face .The rich Arab countries should help the poor ones like New Jersey helps Arkansas.

May 5th, 2008, 12:03 am

 

Alex said:

QN,

I understand .. but disagree regarding Obama and even Clinton. They will both be different to some extent.

McCain will face one crisis after another if he decided to have the young neocons as his inspiration. The world had enough … everyone is waiting for America to elect a wise and calmer leader … if Americans bring the neocons back to power again and again … then … it is bad news in many ways.

Not only for Syria .. Syria has been through this mess on and off since 1978.

May 5th, 2008, 12:07 am

 

Qifa Nabki said:

Norman,

Maybe, but the question is: what will Bashar’s price be?

May 5th, 2008, 12:09 am

 

Qifa Nabki said:

Alex,

Did you see Hillary’s statement on Iran? I thought she was going to rip off her shirt to show how much chest hair she had:

May 5th, 2008, 12:13 am

 

Alex said:

lol

Statements (Clinton’s and Obama’s) are mostly harmless… they know what AIPAC wants to hear and they say it.

Her statement was actually reassuring .. if her AIPAC tax was thoroughly paid through such a highly conditional statement (if Iran launched nuclear attack on Israel) .. then I can’t complain.

May 5th, 2008, 12:18 am

 

AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

I asked this in the other thread:
If the average salary of a government employee is $175 that means about $6 per day and for a family of 4 $1.5 per day per person. This is considered extreme poverty. Do most Syrian government employees actually live in extreme povery?

May 5th, 2008, 12:19 am

 

AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Alex and QN,
Walla, when the US supports dictators you complain, when it is for democratization you complain. You are for democratization in one country but for leaving a dictator in another.
Is there any principle you can provide that helps determine which dictators should be accomodated and which not?

My principle: All dictators need to go and democracy needs to be established world wide.

May 5th, 2008, 12:30 am

 

norman said:

QN,

The price is simple , It is the Golan and peace , not Lebanon.

May 5th, 2008, 12:32 am

 

Qifa Nabki said:

AIG

huh? where was I complaining?

May 5th, 2008, 12:34 am

 

AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

QN,
Sorry, I thought that you were also against the McCain democracy drive but I read too quickly. You were just pointing out to Alex that things could get worse for Syria.

May 5th, 2008, 12:38 am

 

trustquest said:

I wonder why the Syrian government doesn’t buy SyriaTel, since this company is profitable and they can take the $6.7 billions a year,(currently going to one man), this way they can pay salaries, compensate for the drying oil fields and save themselves from falling badly in front of population who started to get fit up from this social team who end up eating the country and can not stop the ½ GDP from corruption.
Are such ideas floating there, or is it a red line?

May 5th, 2008, 12:43 am

 

norman said:

This is interesting analysis,

Is the Middle East state system about to disintegrate?
By Joschka Fischer
Commentary by
Monday, May 05, 2008

President George W. Bush’s Middle East policy undeniably managed to achieve one thing: It has thoroughly destabilized the region. Otherwise, the results are not at all what the United States had hoped to accomplish. A democratic, pro-Western Middle East is not in the cards.

But, while things are not developing as American neoconservatives had intended, they are nevertheless developing. The historical failure of the Iraq war, the demise of secular Arab nationalism and the soaring oil and gas prices have wrought profound changes in the region. From Damascus to Dubai, from Tel Aviv to Tehran, a new Middle East is now emerging.

The old Middle East arose from the borders and political identities created by the European powers after the fall of the Ottoman Empire in 1918. Its driving ideological force was a European-inspired secular nationalism, which strove for political and social modernization through top-down government action. This type of nationalism, or “Arab socialism,” reached its apex during the Cold War, when it could lean on Soviet military, political, and economic support.

Its end came with that of the Soviet Union, as the region petrified into authoritarian, corrupt, and inefficient military regimes and dictatorships. The end of the Soviet Union also triggered a profound military crisis in many Arab states: Without Soviet support as an external guarantor of their military capabilities, the nationalist regimes were no longer able to keep pace with military modernization.

Nationalist regimes thus gradually lost domestic popular legitimacy, creating a vacuum that non-state actors have now largely filled. The ideological forces and the currency of power have also changed, with political Islam replacing secularism while skillfully integrating social issues and revolutionary, anti-Western nationalism.

Today, the old Middle East can still be found in Syria, Egypt, Yemen, Tunisia, Algeria, and Fatah-controlled Palestine. The new Middle East includes Dubai, the Gulf emirates, and Israel, as well as Hizbullah, Hamas, and jihadist terrorism – and, partly, Iran and Saudi Arabia. Jordan and Morocco are also trying to associate themselves with the new Middle East.

Obviously, as these examples suggest, “new” does not necessarily mean better, but simply different and more modern. Indeed, modernization by no means implies a solution to the conflicts that continue to fester in the region. Instead, these conflicts are themselves “modernized,” which could make them even more dangerous than in the past.

An aspect of such modernization could be seen in the 2006 Lebanon war between Israel and Hizbullah, where tank warfare was rendered obsolete by missiles and Katyushas. At the same time, non-state actors, such as Hizbullah, Hamas, and Al-Qaeda, have taken the place of traditional armies, and suicide bombers equipped with roadside and car bombs or explosive belts have replaced guerrilla fighters with their Kalashnikovs.

Perhaps the most important change is the shift in the region’s political and military center of gravity. While Israel, Palestine, and Lebanon defined the most important hot spots in the old Middle East, regional power and politics in the wake of the Iraq war is now centered in the Persian Gulf. The dominant conflict is no longer the Israeli-Palestinian struggle, but the threat of a confrontation between Iran and Saudi Arabia for sub-regional supremacy, and between Iran and the US for regional hegemony. Indeed, it is by now virtually impossible to implement any solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict without Iran and its local allies – Hizbullah in Lebanon and Hamas in Palestine.

In a way, then, the war in Iraq forms the strategic and military bridge between the old and the new Middle East. The US intervention has brought about four far-reaching changes in the region. First, Iran’s hegemonic ambitions have been unleashed, and the country has been helped to a strategic position that it could never have reached on its own.

Second, the democratization of Iraq has empowered the Shiite majority, which in turn greatly strengthened Iran’s influence. Indeed, the war in Iraq has transformed the centuries-old Sunni-Shiite conflict by infusing it with modern geopolitical significance and extending it to the entire region.

Third, the rise of Iran poses an existential threat to Saudi Arabia, because the country’s oil-rich northeast is populated by a Shiite majority. A Shiite government in Baghdad, dominated by Iran, would, in the medium term, threaten Saudi Arabia’s territorial integrity – a scenario that the Saudis cannot, and will not, accept.

And fourth, should Iran manage to become a nuclear power, the Saudis’ existential fears would dramatically escalate. More generally, the currency of conventional military power in the Middle East would largely lose its value, inevitably resulting in a regional nuclear arms race.

Emanating from this new situation is the threat of disintegration of the whole Anglo-French system of states in the Middle East. The first candidate is, of course, Iraq. Whether Iraq can be held together despite the ethnic and religious confrontations that pit Kurds against Arabs and Sunnis against the Shiites is one of the most pregnant questions for the new Middle East. For Iraq’s disintegration would be hard to contain; indeed, it could bring about a thorough balkanization of the region.

Another important question is whether political Islam will move toward democracy and acceptance of modernity or remain trapped in radicalism and invocation of the past? The forefront of this battle is, at the moment, not in the Middle East, but in Turkey; nevertheless, the result is bound to have more general significance.

The emergence of the new Middle East may present an opportunity to establish a regional order that reflects the legitimate interests of all the actors involved, provides secure borders, and replaces hegemonic aspirations with transparency and cooperation. If not, or if such an opportunity is not seized, the new Middle East will be much more dangerous than the old one.

Joschka Fischer, Germany’s foreign minister and vice chancellor from 1998 to 2005, led

May 5th, 2008, 2:06 am

 
 

abraham said:

QN said:

I thought she was going to rip off her shirt to show how much chest hair she had.

Ugh, that is a most despicable thought. I was more expecting her face to rip open and a little slimy creature to crawl out declaring, “I AM THE ZIONIST WITHIN!”

May 5th, 2008, 2:46 am

 

Nour said:

AIG,

When we oppose “democratization” drives by US presidents, it is because we know that those presidents are not really interested in democracy. They are interested in installing pro-American regimes, i.e. regimes that will succumb and submit to US hegemony. This is why the US supports dictatorships such as KSA, Jordan, and Egypt. We are not complaining when they support dictators and complaining when they “democratize”. We are using their support of obedient dictators to demonstrate that the US is not interested in democracy, but rather in submission to US hegemony.

May 5th, 2008, 2:47 am

 

Alex said:

Nour,

We all explained it to him about twenty million times so far.

May 5th, 2008, 3:06 am

 

AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Nour,
What is US hegemony? Let me ask you a concrete question, what is Mubarak being forced to do against his will? Or, let’s say the Muslim Brotherhood take over, what would they do that is different that Mubarak cannot do because of the US? Is it just the peace treaty with Israel or is there something else? Is US hegemony just code for peace with Israel?

May 5th, 2008, 3:11 am

 

Rowan Berkeley said:

This is a nice example of inside out capitalist reasoning, isn’t it?

“In Syria, where oil production is drying up, prices have also risen sharply. Although it has begun to liberalize its rigid socialist economy, the government has repeatedly put off plans to eliminate the subsidies that keep prices artificially low for its citizens, fearing domestic reprisals. Even so, the inflation of the past few months has taken a toll on all but the rich.”

May 5th, 2008, 3:15 am

 

AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Alex,
Yes you explained many times that Syria has to reform by itself. But Josh Landis has written many times that Syria is not on its way to democracy for many reason including that the elites do not want democracy. So how will Syria change without even a little push from the outside?

May 5th, 2008, 3:18 am

 

Nour said:

AIG,

As Alex said, we’ve all explained this to you before. You know what US hegemony is and you know what Mubarak and his likes are doing at the behest of the US. But the real questions is why is the US supporting these dictatorships when it claims to be fighting for democracy? It is either interested in democracy, or it is not. I have no problem with the US coming out and saying “look, we have interests and we are looking after them. We don’t really care what the nature of the regimes of certain countries are as long as they are protecting our interests.” At least they would be honest with everyone. But when they try to sell us this democracy BS, they insult our intelligence.

May 5th, 2008, 3:52 am

 

AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Nour,
I really do not know what US hegemony is. Is it anything more than peace with Israel?

The US wants democracy but is trying to be pragmatic about it. Its plans of course mostly don’t work because the Arabs are apparently not yet ready for democracy as you keep telling me. The US plans don’t work because the dictators leave barren ground as an alternative to themselves. What is the only real alternative to Mubarak? The Muslim Brotherhood. He has quashed all other options. Same for Asad.

May 5th, 2008, 3:58 am

 

Rowan Berkeley said:

There is no such thing as’democracy.’ I thought I had given innumerable arguments showing that that is the case. It is a mere western imperialist propaganda concept. People like Sharansky have made that obvious, even to the most thoughtless observer, with their nonsensical propaganda tracts, his own one being picked up and flourished by Bush and then dropped again like a hot brick after the Hamas election in particular, but it was already obvious to anyone who read any history. I have started to revise my opinion of the educational level of the people who chat here, in a downwards direction.

In addition, I once again question the good faith of the person managing this comments system, since despite repeated arguments to the effect that AIG is a deliberate plant, once again everyone is being encouraged to waste time and morale ‘debating’ him or them. It seems to me like a set-up.

May 5th, 2008, 3:58 am

 

AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Nour,
Look at Syria. Hafez and Bashar are so thorough and thier crack downs are so strong that there is zero chance for a viable alternative to the regime to emerge outside the mosque. Asad and Mubarak cannot close the mosques and that is why the alternatives can only come from there. Of course, these alternatives are not ones that West would be happy with and that is what Mubarak and Asad build on. Their argument is always: Don’t press us or you will get the Muslim Brotherhood.

My view is let’s call their bluff. I think a Muslim Brotherhood regime is a necessarry step towards democracy in Egypt and Syria and the sooner it happens the better.

May 5th, 2008, 4:04 am

 

EHSANI2 said:

The world’s poor are in trouble. As global commodity prices rise to uncharted territories, the squeeze on the low wage earners will intensify. When one earns as little as $175 a month, expenditure on food and gas inevitably make up over 50% of total pay. Once these items double in price, financial disaster follows.

To be sure, commodity prices have risen globally. But richer nations do not suffer to the same extent as spending on food and energy make up a much smaller percentage of the total expenditure of their citizens.

The current bout of inflation in Syria is of the cost-push type and not the demand-pull category. Had it been the latter, the policy tool is to slow down demand and reduce liquidity and the money supply. In the case of cost-push inflation, however, the remedy is much harder to find.

Syria can of course reduce the financial blow by continuing to subsidize the commodities that experienced the largest jump in price. Doing so, however, means more red ink for its fiscal books.

Given the sizable public sector and the red ink already on the books, offering more subsidies at present makes little sense.

So, what is the solution?

There is not one.

The country is now going to have to pay for the years of economic mismanagement that has left its people with low incomes and no safety net when it comes to relying on extra savings to cushion this blow. The way the Syrian economy was managed never made sense. The economic growth was too low. The wages were suboptimal and the whole country suffered from years of underinvestment in infrastructure. Year of socialist economic mismanagement left the country with an extremely underpaid population.

The recent rise in global commodities wrecked havoc with the standing order. I am afraid that this is only the beginning.

May 5th, 2008, 4:06 am

 

AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

EHSANI2,
I find it hard to believe that the average family of the Syrian government worker lives on less than $2 per day per person. That is extreme poverty. That is Sub-Sahara type numbers and Syria is not in that category yet. How much to the subsidies actually add to the income? Maybe the numbers reported on salaries are too low?

May 5th, 2008, 4:11 am

 

Alex said:

Ehsani,

What you are saying is true in the case of price increase of rice for example.

But the biggest increase this week was the price of Gas oil .. which was previously subsidized fully by the government … the government used to pay most of the cost of gas oil consumption for its poor citizens, its rich citizens, and some of its neighbors’ citizens … some in Lebanon and Iran and Turkey used to smuggle about one billion a year of Syria’s subsidized Gas oil.

So the only thing that changed there is that the rich will not be subsidized anymore and the neighbors won’t either.

Wouldn’t that translate into savings?

May 5th, 2008, 4:13 am

 

EHSANI2 said:

AIG

Reliable data is very hard to come by. Things can be better than thought but they can equally be worse.

The government has frozen its hiring for over three years now. Most of the ones who do work for it cannot be fired easily. They collect their wages but most importantly they enjoy the health care benefits that allow them to purchase their medications at reduced prices.

Hi Alex,

Sure. You are right. This step is way overdue. Even at the increased price, please note that the new SYP 25 still comapres to SYP 75 in turkey and close to SYP 50 in Lebanon. I don’t fault the government for raising that silly SYP 7 price that made no sense whatsoever. I think that the PM has argued that following this rise, the subsidies here still amount close to 50%. The public somewhat feels a sense of entitlement to cheap subsidized commodities. In a way, I don’t blame them. But for the top one million Syrians who don’t care much, the other 19 million have seen their cash flows squeezed badly. If you do the math, it is indeed a miracle how they make ends meet.

May 5th, 2008, 4:16 am

 

Nour said:

AIG,

It is not true that the Muslim Brotherhood is the only alternative in Syria to the Assad regime. However, democratization is not something that happens overnight. Overthrowing Assad now will not bring democracy to Syria. If anything, it will bring a period of chaos followed by another form of dictatorship. This is not because Syrians are incapable of democratizing, but rather because currentl social ailments manifesting themselves in sectarianism and tribal loyalties lead to a lack of social consciousness, which has resulted in the polarization and fragmentation of society. You say that the Muslim Brotherhood is a necessary step toward democracy, but the Muslim brotherhood will only present us with another, worse, form of dictatorship. Many Syrians are not willing to wreak havoc in their country so that they replace this regime with a religiously fundamentalist regime.

What you do not see is that Syria is in a process of change. It is true that many are criticizing this process as being too slow, and they may be right, but change has been highly visible. Things you would not dare to say previously are common utterances now. Drama series and talk shows on TV’s are addressing issues that no one dared to mention in earlier times. The government is regularly criticized and the corrupt system is routinely ridiculed. Things are much more out in the open than they used to be. You do not know this because you do not follow daily life in Syria, but rather rely on news reports and articles here and there in the foreign press. If left alone and given sufficient time, I guarantee you that Syria will democratize on its own. But continually threatening the regime, imposing sanctions, and encouraging particularistic groups to cause trouble is not going to bring any results.

May 5th, 2008, 4:24 am

 

Rowan Berkeley said:

You have to understand that – so far – there is no break in the tacit consensus among Jews worldwide to lie about their own politics, and to pursue a propaganda campiagn on every available level to convince non-Jews of their racial inferiority vis-a-vis Jews, while avoiding the term ‘race’.

Believe me, Alex, I can crank up my own dialectical attack on you until you are forced to ban me, and I can do so in such a way as to expose you as a collaborator, too.

p.s. Shai can of course contact me directly if he wishes – at least he shows signs of honesty, rare in these circles.

May 5th, 2008, 4:33 am

 

AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Nour,
What is the other CURRENT alternative for Asad in Syria? There is no other organization that can replace him except the MB.

You say:
“This is not because Syrians are incapable of democratizing, but rather because currentl social ailments manifesting themselves in sectarianism and tribal loyalties lead to a lack of social consciousness, which has resulted in the polarization and fragmentation of society.”

And I agree, but Asad knows this also and that is why he and his father have kept and manipulated these ailments for 40 years so that there would be no alternative for them. With Asad in place, nothing will change. The “openess” in Syria is about the openess that there is in Egypt for decades now and which have led to zero changes. Change can only come when you have ORGANIZED PARTIES and INSTITUTIONS that are an alternative to the regime. And Asad will not let any such thing raise its head even a little bit. Mubarak let some secular opposition parties emerge and then quashed them completely.

May 5th, 2008, 4:37 am

 

AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Rowan,
You have a serious problem with Jews as I have pointed out several times.

But why drag Alex into this when you can easily dump on me? You got the Jew all lined up. Now with your “superior dialectic” show everybody how stupid and malicious I am. Go for it!

May 5th, 2008, 4:44 am

 

AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Ehsani2,
How much rent or mortgage does a typical government employee pay? If let’s say 30% of salary is for housing, what can you rent for $60 a month in Syria? In Damascus itself very little I would imagine. But perhaps government employees get housing also?

May 5th, 2008, 4:50 am

 

Nour said:

AIG,

Again, you do not follow daily life in Syria, so you are not aware of the types of changes the country is experiencing. I agree very much about the rule of the late Hafez al-Assad, as his only concern was strengthening his grip on power. However, Bashar has indeed opened up a lot of doors and relaxed the security system tremendously. There are many parties and institutions that consistently criticize the government and offer alternate solutions to current problems in the country. They are largely left alone and are given the freedom to express their concerns and opinions. The western press focuses largely on certain figures who have been arrested, but it ignores all those regime critics who have not been bothered. Of course, this is not to say that Syria does not still suffer from authoritarian rule, but a process of real change has been visibly initiated that cannot be easily rolled back.

And I genuinely believe that Bashar al-Assad is not interested in remaining in power for all his life. However, Bashar does have a fear that if he is to give up power now, his family and Alawi sect may very well become targets of reprisal. He wants to improve Syria’s economic and social condition so he can set the stage for an easier transfer of power. Is this going to happen tomorrow? No, of course not. It’s going to take several years, and we cannot predict what the future will hold, but I do believe that the intention for real change is there.

Either way however, I do not support foreign intervention in these matters, because foreign nations intervene to protect THEIR interests, and not the interests of the local population. And I am not interested in change for the sake of change. If we are to change the system, then it ought to be changed to something better. Syrian citizens are not willing to bring destruction upon their country so that a similar or worse form of governance follows. Change can only come from the inside, and it will. It may take several years, or even several generations, but Syria will not forever be ruled by a totalitarian regime, and no US interference is needed for that to occur.

May 5th, 2008, 5:05 am

 

annie said:

AIG: you ask too many questions.
This information is confidential.

May 5th, 2008, 5:06 am

 

AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Annie,
Seriously, you lived in Damascus, you can answer these questions. I am just curious.

May 5th, 2008, 5:09 am

 

AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Nour,
I understand your concerns but the tradeoff is that every year there is no change, Syria falls more behind the rest of the world. Are you willing to accept several more lost generations? 50 to 60% of Syrian population is under 25. That is an astonishing number that spells huge problems in very few years unless Syria can register China like economic growth. It does not look like Asad and his regime can deliver the required growth because they are too slow to change.

By the way, I am not for employing force for regime change but I do think it makes sense for the US to support Syrian opposition parties that will change things from the inside.

May 5th, 2008, 5:16 am

 

Rowan Berkeley said:

I’ve taken this site off my bookmarks, so don’t bother posting spiteful remarks aimed at me. You won’t see me here again.

May 5th, 2008, 5:28 am

 

wizart said:

Ehsane, Nour

Excellent comments. Thanks.

Rowan,

AIG has been banned at least half a dozen times already so I’m no longer interested in engaging him because like you said he’s a waste of time and does a lot of damage to Syria promoting his agenda here.

He serves as an academic punch bag for some students to practice on at the expense of public good because few people want to volunteer to moderate the discussion 24/7 and who’s going to fight IGs day & night at a time when most Syrians obviously have higher priorities.

May 5th, 2008, 5:30 am

 

Majhool said:

AIG,

“And I agree, but Asad knows this also and that is why he and his father have kept and manipulated these ailments for 40 years so that there would be no alternative for them. With Asad in place, nothing will change. The “openess” in Syria is about the openess that there is in Egypt for decades now and which have led to zero changes. Change can only come when you have ORGANIZED PARTIES and INSTITUTIONS that are an alternative to the regime. And Asad will not let any such thing raise its head even a little bit. Mubarak let some secular opposition parties emerge and then quashed them completely”

You are so right… unfortunately.

Syria’s GDP (PPP) per capita is only ahead of Sudan and Yemen. You Israelis are so lucky to have enemies like us.

As for the party/parties that Nour is refering to, it’s only the SNP, A party that most syrians don’t identify with..

May 5th, 2008, 5:57 am

 

Alex said:

Rowan,

Again?!

If you are going to interpret everything as some kind of conspiracy, then perhaps it is better that you stick to music videos.

AIG,

Nour and I are naive enough to believe that Bashar is more interested in being remembered as the leader who got the Golan back, reformed Syria’s economy, reformed its political system, modified its constitution, and quit politics when the newly united Syria and Lebanon elected a new president.

How is that? : )

May 5th, 2008, 6:34 am

 

Alex said:

At a cost of 600 million dollars Egyptian investors will build the largest cement factory in the Middle East, in Syria.

دمشق..
أعلن محمد صادق الوزير المفوض في السفارة المصرية والمسؤول عن العلاقات التجارية بين سورية ومصر أن مجموعة أوراسكوم المصرية ستدخل السوق السورية قريبا لتقيم أكبر مصنع لانتاج الاسمنت بالشرق الاوسط في سورية بقيمة استثمارية تصل الى 600 مليون دولار. وقال صادق خلال مشاركته في المؤتمر الصحفي لمعرض بيلدكس ان هناك شركة مصرية كبيرة ستقيم أيضا مصنعا للاسمدة في سورية بقيمة 60 مليون دولار لافتاً الى المساهمة المصرية الفاعلة في مشروع تعديل العدادات الكهربائية وتحديثها بواسطة شركة السويدي التي أدخلت أنظمة متطورة جدا ستؤدي الى تحول جذري في موضوع ترشيد استهلاك الطاقة الكهربائية والسيطرة عليها.‏
واشار الى أن حجم التبادل التجاري بين سورية ومصر وصل الى مليار دولار وأن الاستثمارات السورية في مصر تتجاوز مليار جنيه مصري كما أنه من المتوقع أن تصل الاستثمارات المصرية في سورية هذا العام الى نحو مليار دولار مبينا أن مصر تشارك في المعرض عبر جناح وطني يضم عدداً كبيراً من الشركات المتخصصة بالبناء ومواده ومستلزماته اذ لمست هذه الشركات التميز والاحترافية في التنظيم اضافة الى الجدوى التي تحصل عليها تلك الشركات في السوق السورية ولاسيما بعد التحسن الملحوظ الذي وفرته الحكومة السورية للمستثمرين

May 5th, 2008, 6:38 am

 

Alex said:

Israeli ex-president calls for peace with Syria
By Carolynne Wheeler in Jerusalem
Last updated: 2:22 AM BST 05/05/2008
A former president of Israel, who presided over the peace deal with Egypt, urged the country’s leaders yesterday to make peace with Syria in order to curb Iranian influence in the Middle East.

As Israel prepares to celebrate its 60th anniversary this week, Yitzhak Navon said the Yom Kippur war with Egypt in 1973 and subsequent peace treaty offered vital lessons for the government of Ehud Olmert. But he also said that the growing role of religion, rather than merely land and politics, made peace harder to achieve.

“The emergence of Iran as a very hostile factor changes the situation in the Middle East,” he said.

Mr Navon said that negotiations could be held and agreements arrived at despite the wars fought by Israel and her neighbours in the past.

However, revolutionary Iran, whose leaders have forecast the destruction of Israel, was impossible to deal with. Mr Navon, 87, was Israel’s fifth president, between 1978 and 1983.

In the early Seventies, he told sceptical Israeli leaders that a war with Egypt was coming, based on the rhetoric of Anwar Sadat, who was president.

“He told his people time and again he would make war, he would close the [Suez] canal, he would conquer the Sinai,” he said.

“I said it is not propaganda. I said he will not be able to continue to lead his people if he does not carry this out.” By the same token, he said, he believed peace would hold after the 1973 war when Mr Sadat began to speak about the benefits it would reap.

The 1978 Camp David accords culminated in 1980 in Mr Navon becoming the only Israeli president to pay an official visit to Egypt.

The same principles applied today, particularly with regard to Iran, he said.

“Mahmoud Ahmadinejad [the Iranian president] speaks about wiping Israel from the map of the world,” Mr Navon said. “He should be taken seriously.”

He said Iran’s Islamic fundamentalist outlook, which also inspired the terrorist groups Hamas in Gaza and Hizbollah in Lebanon, had changed the region so much that “land for peace” deals could no longer solve disputes.

“With Hamas, it’s not a matter of territory, compromise, withdrawal or not,” Mr Navon said. “You [Israel] are not to exist.”

But Syria, Israel’s long-time foe, may be the exception. Bashar Assad, the Syrian president, recently acknowledged that “talks about peace talks” with Israel had begun. A deal with his regime could cut off the flow of money and weapons to Hizbollah in Lebanon and force the Hamas leaders in exile in Damascus to find a new refuge. These moves could limit the influence of their backers in Iran.

“Under Assad’s conditions maybe there can be peace,” Mr Navon said. “I don’t know exactly what his conditions are. But it is important that we try to inquire.” However, the former leader, who hunted Nazis in South America before becoming political secretary to David Ben Gurion, Israel’s first president, dismissed fears that Iran was Israel’s greatest threat since the Holocaust.

“There’s no comparison,” he said. “You wouldn’t dream that, in 60 years, a population of a little bit more than 500,000 could become 6.5 million. You couldn’t dream to have such achievements in the scientific field, in social issues, in theatre, in literature, in cinema.”

May 5th, 2008, 6:45 am

 

kamali said:

what about the economic boom you were talking about a few months ago? what about the management of Dardari and Hussain? is it now “misjudgement” and mismanagement? I can assure you all that within months not years, syrian economy will hit a bottom low. the country has no real people planning and during the real economic boom they were treasuring money in banks outside syria. where is olmart? can you sign a peace treaty right now? i will give you a blank sheet of paper and here is my signature.

May 5th, 2008, 6:51 am

 

kamali said:

just to add, syrian economy is booming!!! a new factory for killing people is underway in syria? Lucky strike is now in syira in fact after banning them from most of the world. what a farce!

May 5th, 2008, 6:53 am

 

Alex said:

Kamali,

Perhaps your always pessimistic predictions will be right one day, and those poor Egyptian investors who are moving their 600 millions to Syria will be shocked to realize how stupid they are.

That will come of course after Bashar signs that blank sheet of paper to Olmert… again, exactly as you predicted.

Alon Liel will be happy to tell you how easy the Syrians are in negotiating peace with Israel.

May 5th, 2008, 7:06 am

 

SimoHurtta said:

TA doesn’t have enough to beat Moscow
Poor defensive play by Maccabi and a 10-point run give CSKA a 91-77 win in the Euroleague final

Hmmmm Israeli “teams” seam to be better in attacking as they are in defence. Maybe they should recruit to “Maccabi” some Israeli Arabs or even an “Hizbollah Israeli” so that the “team” would understand attacking is not enough for winning. Especially if the “other team” attacks with determination. 🙂

—–
JP

‘Gag order on PM’s investigation to be partially lifted’
Officials tell Army Radio that progress in probe will allow release of some material within 24 hours, say findings “will shock the country.

May 5th, 2008, 7:58 am

 

Rowan Berkeley said:

Just as a final commendation of Shai’s honesty : Bibi’s “peace plan”:

“Bibi wants peace just as much as eldar/gideon levi et al!!! Bibi will not give up territory unless the arabs are sincere about making concessions. Israel can never go bk to the 67 borders. The palestinian state must be demilitarized and can only include 50-70% of the WB”
http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/objects/pages/ResponseDetails.jhtml?itemno=980587&resNo=3472350

May 5th, 2008, 8:02 am

 

offended said:

Is it true that comes summer time, food essentials in the US are going to be rationed by the government?

May 5th, 2008, 9:39 am

 

Akbar Palace said:

If McCain wins — hell, even if Hillary or Obama win — I truly believe that we’re not going to see much change, at least not for the next three years at least. And that’s if there is any significant change to speak of.

QN –

I tend to agree. I don’t believe the American people really want to remove US troops from Iraq prematurely just to have Iran take it over. I think the Saudis and the Gulf states are more fearful of this than the Israelis.

You have to understand that – so far – there is no break in the tacit consensus among Jews worldwide to lie about their own politics, and to pursue a propaganda campiagn on every available level to convince non-Jews of their racial inferiority vis-a-vis Jews, while avoiding the term ‘race’.

Rowan –

Thank you for that eye-opening comment about the “consensus among Jews worldwide”. Again, I am very appreciative of Syria Comment and the important knowledge gained here.

Alex, QN, etc. –

Reading between the latest government lines coming out of the Knesset, I’m getting the impression a deal could be reached with Syria. I think it all boils down to what direction best ensures that the Assad regime stays in power?

Door No. 1: Peace with Zionist Project/Entity

1.) The return of the Golan would be a big feather in Bashar’s cap.
2.) The opening of trade with Syria to the West.
3.) The resulting improvement expected in the Syrian economy.
4.) Anger in Iran and with the fundamentalists, likely upsurge in internal security. Government clamp-down against fundamentalists.
5.) Military cooperation with the West.

versus

Door No. 2: Continued State of War with Zionist Project/Entity

1.) The support of Iran and the violent rejectionist organizations.
2.) No economy.
3.) No peace.
4.) No Golan.
5.) Secure Assad governance.

I think Syria will opt for “Door No. 2”, for obvious reasons. Peace is too risky for the Assad regime. I’ll pass this along to Zbigniew Brzezinski free of charge.

May 5th, 2008, 11:21 am

 

ausamaa said:

From WorldPoliticsReview

U.S. Plays Follow the Leader in the Middle East
Judah Grunstein | Bio | 05 May 2008
WPR Blog

The U.S. has now publicly removed its objections to Turkey-mediated discussions between Israel and Syria, although Condoleeza Rice argued the talks should be tied to Syria’s involvement in Lebanon. She also expressed her skepticism that Syria was willing to change the behavior that led to American efforts to isolate it in the first place.

It’s interesting to note that the EU3+3’s package of incentives for Iran was also put forward over the U.S.’s grumbled objections. Rice publicly expressed her skepticism, saying, “Diplomacy has many forms. . .and it’s not always a matter of sweeter.” That makes two crucial regional dossiers where America is essentially following the lead of its strategic partners, albeit grudgingly, instead of the other way around.

To me, this underscores the way in which sometimes being right is overrated. The American position on Iran’s and Syria’s destabilizing regional influence, while fundamentally correct, doesn’t advance our interests, or those of our partners. That leaves us little choice but to then piggy back on our partners’ initiatives, which are subsequently undermined by our refusal to truly buy into them.

Good cop/bad cop only works if the perp, a) is really afraid of the bad cop; and b) really believes that cooperating with the good cop will offer some protection. Right now neither of those conditions hold true, which is why we’re in for some rough sledding in terms of our broader regional policy.

Another way to look at it is that for the past seven years (and in some cases beyond), we’ve put broad regional pre-conditions on individual negotiations, while at the same time not rewarding individual successes (ie. Iran’s participation in stabilizing Afghanistan) with broader regional concessions. Carrots and sticks works both ways.

May 5th, 2008, 12:19 pm

 

Akbar Palace said:

Rowan Berkeley said:

I’ve taken this site off my bookmarks, so don’t bother posting spiteful remarks aimed at me. You won’t see me here again.

Rowan,

I hope you’ll reconsider. There’s an free education available here for everyone willing to participate!

wizart said:

Rowan,

AIG has been banned at least half a dozen times already so I’m no longer interested in engaging him because like you said he’s a waste of time and does a lot of damage to Syria promoting his agenda here.

Isn’t stating that AIG “does a lot of damage to Syria” a slight exaggeration? Perhaps you give Jews like AIG too much power? Unless, of course, you can tell us what “damage” AIG has caused.

Thanks in advance;)

May 5th, 2008, 12:55 pm

 

Nour said:

Majhool said:

“As for the party/parties that Nour is refering to, it’s only the SNP, A party that most syrians don’t identify with..”

What party in Syria enjoys the support of most Syrians? Most Syrians do not identify with any single party in Syria, including the Muslim Brotherhood. The SSNP currently enjoys more popular support than any other party in Syria, but the SSNP is not interested in assuming power at this point in time. My argument, however, was that if the Assad regime falls, it is not true that the only alternative is the Muslim Brotherhood. There are many possibilities that could come to fruition, but none of them are good enough at this stage to risk plunging Syrian society into chaos and cause destruction across the country. We may very well end up with another secular dictatorship, but the bottom line is that at this stage, we will not see a sudden transformation to democracy. There are simply too many rivalries among the various social groups across Syria, and they will most definitely struggle with each other with each one trying to impose itself on the country.

May 5th, 2008, 1:09 pm

 

Qifa Nabki said:

AP,

Thanks. I’ll try to respond later.

Rowan,

Seriously, you are wasting your time here. After all, we are all gullible idiotic collaborators. No doubt the MENSA members on your blog are better company.

May 5th, 2008, 1:24 pm

 

majedkhaldoun said:

Most people I know ,in Damascus ,has an income of $400-1000 a month, however Nizar AlAsaad makes million lira a day. and people in area around Sheikh Muheidine are almost beggars.
people are coping by selling their houses in Damascus, and buying three houses in the suburbs,giving them to their kids so they can get married.some are leaving the country to another country.
Syria needs to send the refugees back to Iraq, increase property tax by 10 times,increase salaries, double them, then reduce goverment subsidies, Also reduce defense spending, and allow more freedom,to shrink the huge cost of security,the goverment is paying huge amount of money to the large number of police officers that are present on the streets of Damascus, and tehy need to eliminate the several buildings that belong to the Baath party,and the security police. the cost of security is very,very huge.

May 5th, 2008, 1:46 pm

 

ausamaa said:

But why kick the poor Iraqi refugees out for God’s sake???

كل يغني على ليلاه…..

May 5th, 2008, 2:37 pm

 

AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Bondo,
You are not making sense. You are just like the Cretian who says: “All Cretians are liars”. If you like Syria so much, why do you not stay there? You have an option to decide where to live yet you choose the hated US.

It seems you detest the US which has given you and your family shelter. You are being quite ungrateful. Just leave and go back to Syria instead of complaining all the time. Otherwise, you are living a lie or lying about your true feelings about the US.

May 5th, 2008, 3:16 pm

 

Qifa Nabki said:

My my my… it’s a new day on Syria Comment.

AIG is having a civilized discussion with Nour and Ehsani.

Alex has been accused of being a collaborator (??!!)

And Rowan keeps coming back to Syria Comment to remind us that he’s left.

*sigh*

_____________________________

AP,

Not sure how Asad is going to play his cards. But I’m beginning to see the brilliance in his strategy.

I believe that Bashar may be trying to snooker the Americans, using one of their favorite tactics. Let’s look at the current situation. Syria is pursuing seemingly contradictory routes: aggressive peace talks with Israel on the one hand, with massive weapon build-up with Hizbullah on the other. Where will this lead? Here’s my prediction:

At some point in the near future, (within the first six months of the next U.S. president’s term), Syria will make its move. Bashar will begin talking details, the kind that Israel needs to hear. He will guarantee the disarmament of Hizbullah (which will be armed to the gills by then), and the cooperation of Hamas. Having learned from the mistakes of Arafat and his father, he will offer exactly what Israel wants, in exchange for the Golan… and maybe a little more.

Bashar will use his deal with Israel to make the Tribunal go away, or at least declaw it significantly. He will also use Israel to re-establish Syrian influence in Lebanon. After all, if Syria can sell itself as the ONLY power broker who can integrate Hizbullah into Lebanese politics and put their fighters out to pasture in a face-saving way, then the west will find itself, once again, hard pressed to refuse this offer.

Finally, let us not underestimate the attractiveness of this scenario for the new American president. Imagine that you are given the opportunity to preside over a real regional peace deal, to be that president on the White House lawn, standing between Bashar and the Israeli PM, with flashbulbs popping. Instant legacy… especially if the peace sticks.

This is Bashar’s strategy, in my opinion. It’s a pretty good one, and it might work. Or it might blow up in his face, by which I mean of course, the face of the Lebanese, where it always seems to blow up. We’ll see.

May 5th, 2008, 3:34 pm

 

AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

QN,
The scenario you describe is a possible one but not likely in my opinion for the reason that Asad would be labeled a traitor for making that kind of peace and his regime would be undermined. In my view Asad wants a peace process but not actual peace. That is his strategy. The peace process keeps the US and the world of his back and the non-peace allows him to keep on masquerading as the “resistance” leader.

But you can’t fool all the people all the time. Hafez overplayed this tactic in the 90’s and it is much less likely the Americans will be fooled again. Perhaps Obama but not McCain and certainly not Clinton whose husband had enough of Asad the elder.

May 5th, 2008, 3:53 pm

 

abraham said:

AIG, you accuse Asad of wanting a peace process but not peace. Given that Israel has been “negotiating” with the Palestinians for 60 years now, how do you justify this attribution to Asad, a relative newcomer to the ME political scene, and Israel’s “peace process” that has so far transcended 6 decades?

I’ll ask just one question this time in the hopes that you might actually answer it. Bonus points if you manage to answer directly as opposed to diverting the topic to some other issue with several questions in response.

P.S. I’m not debating you, I’m really just proving my point that you are not here to debate but to pollute.

May 5th, 2008, 3:57 pm

 

Qifa Nabki said:

AIG

The Syrian regime cannot be undermined by mass moral indignation. They tried that in the 80’s, and 20,000 people were killed for their troubles.

Bashar won’t have trouble selling the peace deal to his people, unless of course the Palestinians continue to suffer for years and years. And even in that case, what are the Syrians going to do? Vote him out of office? Who is really going to undermine him, especially if he has U.S. support after a peace deal?

Asad is in power because Asad is in power. The resistance cachet is gravy. Sure, he’s popular, but that’s nothing less than a coincidence.

May 5th, 2008, 4:04 pm

 

AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Nour,
Majhool and I do not disagree with your analysis about the situation in Syria but your are ignoring one thing we are saying which is that Asad is responsible for the situation. He has intentionally made sure there is no current alternative for his regime. He has not worked on strengthening social cohesion but manipulated it for his purposes of staying in power. In effect, he has “forced” people like you who would like to see change in Syria to support him because even though he is terrible for Syria, every other alternative may be worse. And here is the paradox, the more Asad clamps down on secular democratic parties the less alternatives there are to replace his regime and the more his regime is supported by people like you who would hate to see the MB in power. You have to break out of this vicious circle and take a chance because otherwise you are playing into Asad’s hand.

May 5th, 2008, 4:05 pm

 

AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

QN,
The same analysis was made about the Soviet Union but proved to be wrong. Moral indignation and people just being “fed up” many times lead to unforseeable results. The American revolution is exactly such an outcome as well as what happened in East Europe when the Berlin Wall fell.

May 5th, 2008, 4:08 pm

 

AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Abraham,
After the 1967 war Israel wanted to meet the Arabs and discuss a peace treaty. The Arabs rejected this overture and instead had the famous Khartoum meeting with its three no’s:
No peace with Israel, no recognition of Israel, no negotiations with Israel.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Khartoum_Resolution

So learn a little history before making your accusations.

May 5th, 2008, 4:11 pm

 

AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

QN,
I am not saying that Bashar may not get away with another Hama. But today in the age of Al-Jazeera and Al-Arabiya he would be taking a big chance of the whole thing blowing up in his face. Sooner or later the Syrians will realize that Asad does not really have all the options his father did.

Bashar of course knows this very well and therefore will unlikely take the peace road. It is just too risky for his regime. The “resistance” excuse for all the failures will go away and who will be left to take the blame?

May 5th, 2008, 4:17 pm

 

Qifa Nabki said:

I love it! AIG and Nour are taking each other seriously. Shai, look! A United Middle East!

AIG,

No one is a bigger believer than I in the power of moral indignation. This is precisely what I see in Lebanon today, but unlike Syria, Lebanon is not ruled by a dictatorship, so there is a place for moral indignation to have an effect and actually change the system.

I’m simply saying that a peace deal with Israel is not going to provide that spark. I wish it would. But I don’t think it will. And so, I don’t think that Bashar will avoid it for that reason. He will try to find a way to turn it to his advantage.

(By the way: I’m not completely against this. In fact, it would probably be good for Lebanon.)

May 5th, 2008, 4:17 pm

 

AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Alex,
If I were Syrian I would oppose the cement factory. They are HUGE polluters and if there is no good supervision of it, it would be a costly mistake for generations.

May 5th, 2008, 4:20 pm

 

AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

QN,
1) When the “resistance” is off the table, who will be left to blame for the failures of Syria’s economy?
2) With the “resistance” off the table Syria’s influence will just be its economic one which would be very small and without its ability to spoil it will lose all “importance”.

There is just nothing for Asad to gain from peace with Israel.

May 5th, 2008, 4:26 pm

 

Qifa Nabki said:

It looks like the honeymoon is over. (Ammo Norman was right)

The Lebanese feudal lords have returned to their feuding ways.

Jumblatt, who led March 14’s acceptance of Berri’s dialogue offer, has now torpedoed the entire thing by accusing Hizbullah of seeking to shoot down a plane at Beirut airport. Other M14 heavyweights quickly followed this up with further loud complaints about Hizbullah’s extensive private communication network, and calls for the Iranian ambassador to Lebanon (labeled as a “High Commissioner”) to be asked to leave the country. This may have had something to do with Hizbullah’s five-hour detention of Karim Pakzad, an elderly French delegate to the Socialist International.

Such an escalation of rhetoric could only have one goal, namely to antagonize the opposition into responding, and this they have done. Hizbullah struck back at Jumblatt, and Aoun has called for all opposition supporters to join the labor strikes this week, to bring down the government.

Aoun Calls for Demonstration to Topple Government

May 5th, 2008, 4:39 pm

 

Alex said:

AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

QN,
The scenario you describe is a possible one but not likely in my opinion for the reason that Asad would be labeled a traitor for making that kind of peace and his regime would be undermined. In my view Asad wants a peace process but not actual peace. That is his strategy. The peace process keeps the US and the world of his back and the non-peace allows him to keep on masquerading as the “resistance” leader.

But you can’t fool all the people all the time. Hafez overplayed this tactic in the 90’s and it is much less likely the Americans will be fooled again.

—-

Again???

Did you read Clinton’s book? .. Carter’s? .. James Baker’s? …. in all cases it is Israel that is blamed for failures in negotiations, not Syria.

It was your people who killed Rabin to prevent him from finalizing the peace process … Hafez was happy to sign that pece treaty.

And Barak the proud Israeli hero “got cold feet” and changed his mind after Hafez who was two weeks away from dying took steroids and traveled to Geneva to meet Clinton hoping to finalize that deal.

http://news.bbc.co.uk/olmedia/690000/images/_691213_clinton_hand300.jpg

I think it is fair to say that based on these last two cases that somehow ISRAEL does not want peace, but simply a pre-peace process.

A pre-peace process … because a peace process leads to the same point where Israel will agree to pull out of hte Golan … which is dangerous to the health and political health of Israeli prime ministers who take that road all the way to the full “peace process”

Now that Olmert gave the Turkish leaders in writing his recognition of Syria’s right ot the Golan … a brand new, perfectly lethal financial charges are surfacing…. and Olmert will be out, Netanyahu will be in.

So … Rabin, Barak, and soon Olmert …

May 5th, 2008, 4:42 pm

 

norman said:

WOW, QN ,

I was recognised for foresight by my son QN ,

One day i like to meet you .

May 5th, 2008, 4:45 pm

 

Akbar Palace said:

I believe that Bashar may be trying to snooker the Americans, using one of their favorite tactics. Let’s look at the current situation. Syria is pursuing seemingly contradictory routes: aggressive peace talks with Israel on the one hand, with massive weapon build-up with Hizbullah on the other. Where will this lead? Here’s my prediction:

QN –

Thanks. Of course he’s “trying to snooker” the Americans. But the Americans (under Bush anyway) already have this taken into account.

I agree with AIG that Hillary & Bill are pretty well educated in Middle East diplomacy, and are less likely to get “snookered”. Obama? That’s another story (G-d help us, and personally, I couldn’t countenance a Hillary or Obama win).

So yes, the possibility of another Secretary of State (like Christopher and Albright) getting snookered by the Syrians is very real.

Bashar will begin talking details, the kind that Israel needs to hear.

Of course. Which means it all depends on the type of American administration that will be in power. A gullible one, or an experienced one?

I know I’m in the the minority, but I’ll sure miss GWB.

May 5th, 2008, 4:46 pm

 

Alex said:

AP said …

“an experienced one”

May 5th, 2008, 4:48 pm

 

AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Alex,
The Israelis murdered Rabin? It was a radical that did it and the result was a huge shock for most Israelis. After Rabin came PERES, who was even more inclined to make a peace process. It was Hafez that got cold feet and made the peace deal impossible.

May 5th, 2008, 4:58 pm

 

Qifa Nabki said:

Ya Ammo Norman,

It would be a pleasure.

Where is HP? He is supposed to be organizing the SC conference.

May 5th, 2008, 5:02 pm

 

abraham said:

AIG, you accuse Assad of wanting a peace process but not peace. Given that Israel has been “negotiating” with the Palestinians for 60 years now, how do you justify this attribution to Assad, a relative newcomer to the ME political scene, but completely ignore Israel’s track record of “processing peace” that has so far transcended 6 decades?

And a corollary: given then that you don’t think Syria is sincere because, as you assert, Assad is more interested in “process” rather than “peace”, why should we believe Israel is interested in peace, especially in light of its 60 year track record with regards to “processing peace”?

I will wait further for your response, which I assume will be extraordinarily enlightening. Hopefully this time you will answer.

May 5th, 2008, 5:02 pm

 

abraham said:

Rabin’s partner in peace, Arafat, also made a hard decision (and a bad one) in negotiating peace with Israel, yet he wasn’t assassinated (well, at least not at that time).

Soon after Rabin signed the Oslo Accords, he was taken out by an Israeli. You call him an “extremist”, though I think you’d have a hard time convincing me that someone who was acting upon the feelings of at least 1/3 (if not more) of the Israeli population held “extreme” views. It seems his rage was more mainstream than Israelis want to admit.

In any event, even if Rabin had not been murdered, would the settlements have been dismantled? That is the one hundred million dollar question. I say no.

It seems the Palestinians aren’t the only ones with a Settler problem.

May 5th, 2008, 5:10 pm

 

Naji said:

QN,
Unfortunately, this all seems to be heading in the direction that I have been cautioning about during the past few weeks… the summer campaign scenario….!!

Today, I watched the Iraqi FM, who has always chosen his words carefully, for the first time (in a long time) escalate, seriously escalate, against Iran, Syria, and HIZBALLAH…!!! He stated, emphatically and matter-of-factly, that HA has been training Iraqi insurgents in Iran, and that Russian weapons and rockets that have ONLY been sold to Syria have showed up in Iraq, providing irrefutable proof of Syrian and HA meddling… and that an Iraqi delegation has been sent to Iran to warn against interfering…etc… and that this delegation was given the cold shoulder…etc…

I guess Petraious has taken to his new job rather quickly… Let’s hope that Syria’s (and Lebanon’s) Grand Defense Strategy is up to this hot summer…!

May 5th, 2008, 5:12 pm

 

Majhool said:

AIG.

“Majhool and I do not disagree with your analysis about the situation in Syria but your are ignoring one thing we are saying which is that Asad is responsible for the situation. He has intentionally made sure there is no current alternative for his regime. He has not worked on strengthening social cohesion but manipulated it for his purposes of staying in power. In effect, he has “forced” people like you who would like to see change in Syria to support him because even though he is terrible for Syria, every other alternative may be worse. And here is the paradox, the more Asad clamps down on secular democratic parties the less alternatives there are to replace his regime and the more his regime is supported by people like you who would hate to see the MB in power. You have to break out of this vicious circle and take a chance because otherwise you are playing into Asad’s hand”

I totally agree with what you said (Again Unfortunately)

This vicious cycle has to be broken. The regime in Syria must allow secular forces and leaderships to rise and start building institutions. How do we do that and at what price? If I know the answer I would be perusing it right now.

Iraq-style disintegration of the dictatorship is not an option. In my opinion our best bet is to

1) Strengthen the Lebanese and the Iraqi governments.
2) Strengthen the Palestinian authority and broker peace between Israel and the Palestinians.

If the above take place then the umbrella of “Arab Street” support will be lifted and the regime will be forced to open up.

Do I think it’s going to happen any time soon? I don’t.

May 5th, 2008, 5:13 pm

 

Naji said:

The Root of All Evil…

السعودية تموّل {محور الفساد} في مواجهة عون
إبراهيم الأمين
«لو تطلّب الأمر موازنة كاملة لصرفناها من أجل حماية نفوذنا ومصالحنا في لبنان». العبارة القاسية ينسبها إعلامي عربي بارز إلى أحد كبار المسؤولين في العائلة الحاكمة في السعودية، وذلك في معرض شرحه للوضع في لبنان والخلاف القائم بين الرياض ودمشق حول إدارة الملف اللبناني. وعند تقديم المزيد من الشروح، يقول المسؤول السعودي إن بلاده زادت من حجم المساعدات للبنان، لكنه يضيف دون حرج، أن الرياض تميّز هذه المرة بين حليف وصديق ومن هو في موقع الخصومة: «إيران تصرف مثلنا أو أقل في لبنان وفلسطين، فهل نتركها تسيطر على الوضع هناك؟».
الجديد في الأمر ليس الإنفاق السعودي على كل شيء في لبنان: سياسة وشركات وسياسيين وإعلاميين ووسائل إعلام، لكن الجديد هو في الأهداف المركّزة لهذا الإنفاق. وإذا كان متعذراً ترتيب آلية لاختراقات كبيرة في الطائفة الشيعية، وأن الأمور أهون عند السنّة والدروز، إلا أن البحث يدور الآن حول الواقع المسيحي، ولا سيّما أن قائد «القوات اللبنانية» سمير جعجع نجح قبل غيره في الحصول على قنوات مباشرة مع السعوديين، لا من خلال تيار «المستقبل» حصراً، علماً بأن بقية شخصيات 14 آذار المسيحية ترفع الصوت احتجاجاً على اقتحام تيار «المستقبل» مناطقهم من خلال شخصيات مغمورة تتولى الآن تنسيق برنامج المساعدات الذي يتحول إلى «برنامج صدقة» لناحية البونات الموزعة لأجل الحصول على حصة غذائية أو كمية من المازوت، إضافة إلى منَح تخص القطاع الصحي. ويبدو أن نشاط «المستقبل» لا يقف كثيراً على خاطر بعض الشخصيات التي تمثل حيثية حقيقية، مثل حال كل من: بطرس حرب في البترون ومنصور غانم البون في كسروان، حيث النشاط الأكبر. إضافة إلى إنفاق قائم في الشمال وجبيل. ومن دون الحاجة إلى أي نوع من الشروح فإن الهدف الفعلي هو محاصرة التيار الوطني الحر وإضعافه من خلال إحراجه على الصعيد الشعبي، والقول إن الجمهور لا يكتفي بالشعارات، بل هو يحتاج إلى الخبز والعمل.
وفي مثل هذه الحالات، يبرز النشاط الإضافي لشخصية كالنائب ميشال المر، الذي يعمل الآن على استعادة عصبية بين المقرّبين منه أو أنصاره الذين أعطاهم إجازة استمرت لنحو عامين. لكنه شعر بعد الانتخابات الفرعية في المتن الشمالي بأنه لم يعد يقدر على ادّعاء تجيير قوة كبيرة في أي معركة انتخابية مقبلة. بدليل أن الكتائبيين الذين ارتضوه زعيماً في غياب آل الجميل، عاد قسم كبير منهم إلى قواعده سالماً. بينما من كان يعتقد أنه أقرب إلى المر بسبب خصوماته المتفاعلة مع العائلات الإقطاعية في المتن، فقد وجد نفسه أنه أقرب إلى التيار الوطني الحر. وهكذا خسر المر أكثر من نصف أنصاره أو الذين انتخبوا لوائحه منذ عام 1992 حتى الانتخابات الأخيرة، وهو الآن في صدد إجراء مقاصّة مع هؤلاء. وهذا ما حاوله في الاجتماع البلدي والاختياري أخيراً، وحيث تبيّن أن قسماً غير قليل من الحاضرين هم من أصحاب «السوابق» على حدّ تعبير أحد الناشطين المتنيين من الذين قالوا إن المرّ الأب ذكّرهم بالخدمات المخالفة للقانون، أو بما وفّره لهم ابنه وزير الدفاع الياس المر من خدمات، في وقت لاحق. وهو الآن في صدد مراجعة بعدما أظهرت له أكثر من دراسة أو استطلاع رأي أن شعبية التيار الوطني الحر زادت في المتن الشمالي منذ عامين إلى الآن، وإن خسر العماد عون بعض مناصريه من الذين رأوا فيه زعيماً مسيحياً قوياً بعيد عودته إلى بيروت. كما أظهرت هذه الدراسات أن عون هو الأقوى بين الكتل القادرة على تجيير الأصوات في المتن، وأنه إذا تجمّع الكل ضده في الانتخابات المقبلة فإنه سوف يناصفهم المقاعد النيابية.
أما في كسروان وجبيل، فإن الإحباط ساد صفوف الفريق الذي أقنع نفسه وأقنع بعض الشخصيات مثل المرشح الرئاسي العماد ميشال سليمان بأن عون في حالة تراجع تتيح الانقضاض عليه، إذ أظهرت أكثر من دراسة جرت أخيراً أن ما خسره عون كزعيم مسيحي لم يذهب إلى أحد آخر، وأن خصومه يعانون ضائقة شعبية فعلية في هذه المنطقة. فيما ارتفعت شعبية التيار الوطني في البترون، وهو ما دفع بفريق الأكثرية إلى الاستنجاد بمن في يده المال لأجل توفير خدمات يعتقدون بأنها كافية لأجل فضّ قسم من الجمهور المسيحي عن عون. ولذلك بدأت الحملة المنسّقة تأخذ أشكالاً مختلفة، من توفير فرص عمل في لبنان وخارجه إلى تقديم المساعدات العينية وبعض الدعم المالي من أجل خلق حالة بلبلة تترافق مع حملة ذات طابع أمني وسياسي تركز على أن عون لم يوفر الغطاء لحزب الله فحسب، بل هو فتح له المناطق المسيحية كمثل الحديث عن شبكة الاتصالات بين كسروان وجبيل.
من جانبه، لا يتعامل العماد عون بخفّة مع هذا التطور، وهو يدرس بدقة الوضع منذ مدة، وهو لا يخشى كل عمليات التحريض السياسية والشخصية، حيث أثبتت له اختبارات عدة من حرب تموز، إلى اعتصام المعارضة، إلى التحركات والتظاهرات، إلى معركة رئاسة الجمهورية، إلى الخلاف مع بكركي أن شعبيته لم تتعرض لانتكاسة كما ظنّ الآخرون، لكنه يتعامل الآن بجدية مع محاولة فرض أمر واقع من خلال تكريس تدخل المال كعنصر حاسم في اللعبة، لأنه يعرف أن هدف خصومه هو محاولة دفع الجمهور إلى الإحباط من أي تغيير سياسي ثم دفعه إلى الأخذ بلعبة المال السياسي كنوع من التعويض. وهو هنا لا يشعر بمرارة إزاء عملية التجميع التي تجري لكل من له باع طويل في الفساد وسرقة وهدر المال العام. لكنه يلفت الانتباه إلى ضرورة خوض معركة قاسية بوجه هذا الأسلوب والسعي إلى استنفار العصبية السياسية التي تأخذ بالاعتبار أن الحقوق العامة للمسيحيين تتعرض للتهميش، وأن «الصدقة السياسية» القائمة حالياً لن تعوّض المسيحيين شيئاً، بل سوف تزيد من إحباطهم وتحوّلهم إلى فقراء ينتظرون ما بقي على موائد اللئام.

عدد الاثنين ٥ أيار ٢٠٠٨
http://www.al-akhbar.com/ar/node/72523

May 5th, 2008, 5:14 pm

 

Naji said:

واشنطن تخطّط لضرب معسكرات عراقيّة في إيران!

http://www.al-akhbar.com/ar/node/72494

I still say: a 3-pronged “shock and awe” thing to defang and humiliate… Within Iran/Iraq, Lebanon, and Gaza… and they are trying to keep Syria out of it (not that Syria is all that eager to get in!)…

May 5th, 2008, 5:21 pm

 

abraham said:

Majhool said:

1) Strengthen the Lebanese and the Iraqi governments.
2) Strengthen the Palestinian authority and broker peace between Israel and the Palestinians.

Do I think it’s going to happen any time soon? I don’t.

No, because it’s ignorant. There is no way to strengthen any Arab government as long as Western powers, specifically the US, are pulling strings. Western operatives will always act in the best interest of the West, which ultimately means more pain and misery and suffering for the Arabs.

Once the Middle East is free of American influence, then Arab countries can begin building their democratic institutions. To start one second before would be futile and foolish.

May 5th, 2008, 5:24 pm

 

Naji said:

عن الدور السعودي الذي بات مباشراً ومقاتلاً!
سعد الله مزرعاني *
يلاحظ المراقبون منذ مدّة، دوراً سعودياً نشيطاً وحاداً ومباشراً في التعاطي مع أزمات المنطقة. لم يكن الدور السعودي على هذا النحو من قبل. عُرفت المملكة بممارسة دبلوماسية هادئة تفضّل اللعب والعمل في الكواليس وخلف الجدران المغلقة على العمل ذي الضجيج الدعائي والتحريضي والتصادمي والإعلامي. أو هكذا كان الأمر غالباً، باستثناء عدد من الحالات المحدودة التي اضطرت فيها قيادة المملكة إلى الدخول في صراعات ونزاعات إعلامية وسياسية وأمنية.
وكان يعزز من هذه السياسة، القدرات المالية المتعاظمة الحجم للملكة. فهي البلد الأول في تصدير النفط في العالم (إمكان إنتاج حوالى 12 مليون برميل في اليوم وتصديره). وتشغل المملكة أيضاً موقعاً معنوياً ودينياً مميزاً. وساعدها أيضاً غياب مصر عن موقع القيادة والفعل والمبادرة، سواءً في موضوع التغيير أو في موضوع الصراع العربي ـــ الإسرائيلي.
ويمكن الجزم بأن المملكة قد جنت ثمار هذه السياسة في عدد من الحقول، من أبرزها الاستقرار الداخلي، وتجنب الانعكاسات السلبية لعدد من الصراعات الحادة، والتمكن من ترتيب البيت الخليجي بغض النظر عن بعض «الشغب» من هنا أو هناك…
حصل كل ذلك، رغم أن قيادة المملكة كانت تنتهج سياسات «متطرفة» لجهة التحالف الراسخ مع واشنطن في مرحلة صراع القطبين الأميركي والسوفياتي، ولجهة العداء لكل قوى التحرير والتغيير وحركاتهما، ولجهة ممارسة أقصى المحافظة والتشدد والقمع حيال مسائل الديموقراطية وحقوق الإنسان.
ومن بين عوامل أساسية أبرزها الدور الإيراني وما يمثله من تحدٍّ، مثّل عام 2006 منعطفاً فرض على المملكة التخلي عن القفازات والانخراط في الصراعات القائمة على نحو مباشر. ففي ذلك العام، تعثر الاحتلال الأميركي للعراق، وفشل العدوان الإسرائيلي على لبنان، وهو عدوان وظفت فيه قيادة المملكة سياسياً ما كان مفاجئاً، وما كان منطلقاً في الوقت نفسه، من حتمية انتصار الصهاينة في لبنان. ولقد استخدمت إدارة بوش كل قدراتها، من أجل دفع حلفائها إلى لعب دور نشيط في صراعات المنطقة وفي دعم المشروع الأميركي فيها. لقد حذرتهم بشكل حمل كل مظاهر التعنيف والتهديد، بأن خسارتها في العراق ستؤدي تلقائياً وحكماً إلى سقوط أنظمتهم.
ولقد صاغت الإدارة الأميركية سياساتها تلك تحت اسم «استراتيجية بوش الجديدة». وقضت في بنودها المعلنة وغير المعلنة (أو شبه المعلنة)، بتعزيز القوات الأميركية في العراق بثلاثين ألف جندي إضافي، وبإحداث تعديل في مرتكزات واشنطن في العراق وتحالفاتها (الانفتاح على ما يسمى بفريق واسع من «العرب السنّة» وزعماء العشائر…). كما قضت هذه الاستراتيجية بتخلي واشنطن عن شعارات نشر الديموقراطية والدفاع عن حقوق الإنسان ومزاعمها (وهما عنوانان كانا يضغطان على الوضع السعودي أكثر من سواه) لمصلحة إعادة إطلاق تحالف معلَن وغير مشروط، بزعامتها، تحت عنوان «محور الاعتدال العربي».
وكان على المملكة في هذا السياق، أن تمارس دوراً نشيطاً ومقاتلاً في هذه الاستراتيجية الجديدة، بما في ذلك تبنّي كل شعارات واشنطن التي ترى الأولوية في مكافحة «الإرهاب» والتصدي لداعميه… و«الإرهاب» المذكور لا يقتصر على نشاط تنظيم «القاعدة»، بل يشمل كل أشكال المقاومة في العراق وفلسطين ولبنان. وكان هذا التصنيف يفترض حكماً أن تصبح إسرائيل دولة حليفة، يبادرها «المعتدلون» العرب بالحوار وبمشاريع السلام (قمة الرياض ووفد القمة لحوار الإسرائيليين). ويجب أن لا ننسى أيضاً «المسؤوليات» المالية للملكة، وهي عديدة: من صفقات الأسلحة وتمويل الجيوش، إلى المساعدات المباشرة وغير المباشرة.
أما الجانب الآخر، لا الأخير، في تلك الاستراتيجية، فكان يقضي بأن تشمّر قيادة المملكة عن ساعديها أيضاً، في فلسطين وفي لبنان. وإذا كان الهدف في فلسطين هو استيعاب حركة «حماس» لكي لا تبقى تغرّد خارج السرب «المعتدل» وخارج الاصطفافات المطبوعة بطابع مذهبي وقومي، في مواجهة «المحور الشيعي» و«الفارسي»، فإن الأمر بالنسبة للبنان أخذ شكلاً أكثر حدة وأكثر مباشرة.
فهنا، أي في لبنان، ورغم كثافة التدخل الأميركي على كل المستويات، تتحمل المملكة العربية السعودية أيضاً مسؤولية «خاصة». وهذه المسؤولية ذات أشكال سياسية ومالية وإعلامية وأمنية. ويقع في نطاق الدور «الخاص» للمملكة في لبنان المحافظة على سلطة الأكثرية النيابية فيه. لكن يجب أن نضيف أيضاً المحافظة على سلطة الأكثرية الحريرية داخل الأكثرية النيابية المذكورة. ولهذا الأمر طابعه المذهبي الواضح. ويتقاطع هنا الموقفان السعودي والأميركي على نحو كامل من حيث الشكل والمضمون، ولجهة تسديد فواتير متبادلة تعويضاً عما حصل في العراق: بالنسبة للأميركيين، وكما أكد السفير الأميركي في العراق، ريان كروكر، وقائد القوات الأميركية هناك، دايفيد بيترايوس، «يجب عدم لبننة العراق»، أي يجب عدم تمكين إيران (وسوريا) من تحقيق نجاحات سياسية من خلال دعم «المقاومة الشيعية». وبالنسبة لقيادة المملكة، يجب عدم «عرقنة» لبنان، أي يجب عدم إقامة سلطة فيه يكون الوضع الشيعي ركيزتها، كما هو الأمر في العراق!
لأسباب متعددة إذاً، دولية (المشروع الأميركي) وإقليمية (الصراع السياسي المذهبي)، بالإضافة إلى مستلزمات الصراع العربي ـــ الإسرائيلي، تنشط قيادة المملكة الآن، كما لم يحدث من قبل، من أجل تدعيم الحكومة اللبنانية الحالية، ومن أجل منع أي تغيير لا يصب في مصلحة فريق الموالاة.
إنّ حسم موقع لبنان في صراعات المنطقة، وحسم مسألة الغلبة السياسية والمذهبية فيه، وحسم دوره «المزعج» والمحرج في الصراع العربي ـــ الإسرائيلي، هو مهمة سعودية اقتضت وما تزال، تأجيج الصراع السعودي مع سوريا، والصراع السعودي مع المعارضة اللبنانية، بالوسائل المباشرة والحادة التي لم تعتمدها قيادة المملكة العربية السعودية من قبل. إن مقاطعة القمة العربية في دمشق كانت لهذا الغرض. ولهذا الغرض أيضاً رفضت قيادة المملكة استقبال الرئيس نبيه بري.
وفي السياق نفسه، يواصل وزير الخارجية السعودية سعود الفيصل تصريحاته ومؤتمراته الصحافية، معلناً بشكل يتخطّى كل الأعراف الدبلوماسية، رفض استقبال الرئيس السوري بشار الأسد الذي بادر إلى تبريد الأجواء مع قيادة المملكة في أثناء القمة وبعدها، وخصوصاً في حديثه لجريدة «الوطن» القطرية الذي اتسم بالمرونة وبالرغبة في زيارة المملكة وفي الحوار مع قيادتها.
وفي المبادرات والمواقف السعودية الأخيرة، «إيفاد» سعد الدين الحريري إلى لبنان بعد زيارة للمملكة استمرت شهرين كاملين(!) من أجل «التعامل» مباشرة مع المبادرة الحوارية لرئيس المجلس النيابي نبيه بري. وهذا «التعامل» ذو هدف إضافي، باستيعاب تمايز رئيس الحزب التقدمي وليد جنبلاط، مهما كان هذا التمايز جزئياً أو محدوداً، أو مهما كان صاحبه مصمماً أو مناوراً.
إن الحفاظ على تماسك الأكثرية النيابية، هو مسؤولية أميركية وسعودية مشتركة. ولهذا الغرض يتناوب الطرفان على الزيارات والاتصالات والوعود والعهود والموجبات السياسية وغير السياسية (العسكرية والمالية، الرسمية وغير الرسمية…).
لقد لاحظ بيان «منبر الوحدة الوطنية» الأخير، وهو التجمع الذي يقوده الرئيس سليم الحص، أن موقف وزير الخارجية السعودي «كان محرّضاً لفريق لبناني على فريق»، وأن «الغريب أن المملكة لم تكن منفتحة حتى على الاستماع إلى رأي آخر، فلم يحظَ رئيس مجلس النواب بموعد مع خادم الحرمين الشريفين».
ليس الموقف السعودي وحده مسؤولاً عن عدم التوصل إلى تسوية، ولو مؤقتة، للأزمة اللبنانية. ثمة لاعبون آخرون لا يقلّون مسؤولية عن بلوغ الأزمة اللبنانية مرحلة الاستعصاء. وبين هؤلاء المسؤولين قوى خارجية عربية ودولية عديدة. بينهم أيضاً أطراف لبنانيون لم يدركوا بعد، من مواقع ومواقف متباينة، أن الأزمة اللبنانية ذات ارتباط وثيق، ليس فقط بصراعات إقليمية ودولية ناشطة، وخصوصاً منذ الغزو الأميركي للعراق، بل أيضاً بطبيعة النظام السياسي ـــ الطائفي اللبناني، أي بالعلاقات اللبنانية ـــ اللبنانية.
لا سبب للاعتقاد بأن المشهد الصراعي في لبنان سيسلك سبيل التسويات حتى إشعار آخر. وحتى ذلك التاريخ، لا يمكن النظر إلى الدور السعودي في لبنان بوصفه دوراً إيجابياً، هذا رغم «الودائع» المالية، ورغم الدعم الفئوي الذي يقدم لأطراف، على حساب دور آخر مطلوب لمصلحة لبنان والعرب جميعاً.
* كاتب وسياسي لبناني

عدد الاثنين ٥ أيار ٢٠٠٨
http://www.al-akhbar.com/ar/node/72446

May 5th, 2008, 5:25 pm

 

AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Majhool,
I for one was surprsied by the fall of the Soviet Union. All the experts in the US and Europe were surprised. The Russians were surprised themselves. The lesson from that is that it is very very difficult to understand what is going on inside repressive countries. Statistics in most cases are government inventions and all economic studies are based on government data which is in many cases fabricated, not from the top, but from those on the bottom who do not want to get into trouble.

The only thing we can be sure of is that people get fed up eventually especially when they know the truth about how other people are living. And when that happens, changes come quickly. I think Syria is on the verge. The demographic reality, the move towards relgion among the young and the lack of economic growth will bring change in the next 10-15 years. And because of sattelite television, Bashar will not be able to use Hafez methods. If Asad will open up before his fall the transition would be more peaceful but more likely to happen. That is why I am skeptical that he will take any chances.

May 5th, 2008, 5:35 pm

 

AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Abraham,
Could you humor me and explain why “Western operatives will always act in the best interest of the West, which ultimately means more pain and misery and suffering for the Arabs.”

Can you list the interests of the West that contradict the interests of the Arab people? Is there anything on that list beyond peace with Israel? Seriously, why are the interests of the West and the Arab countries and people in conflict? I just don’t see it.

May 5th, 2008, 5:39 pm

 

Shai said:

QN,

You see? The question is not whether there will be a UME, but what it will be called… AIG, AP, Majhool, Naji, all of us, really, have proven we can find common ground to discuss our problems. We don’t have to agree on most issues, in fact, but we have to want to discuss them, in order to move forward, to build trust, and to develop understanding and empathy. In the past 3-4 months that I’m here, I’ve become much more convinced that this difficult undertaking is indeed possible. All thanks to all of you!

Abraham,

I tend to agree with your last comment, which is precisely why I believe Israel is making a mistake trying to puppet-master Abu Mazen (or anyone else in the region). Democracy is not something we Israelis want to “bring” anywhere, besides our own nation. With satellite dishes in every shack across our region, I don’t think the idea of a free society is foreign to anyone anymore. The movements, and indeed the revolutionary changes, have to come from within. But I think Majhool meant that strengthening of the Lebanese, Iraqis, and Palestinians was to be done by Syria, not the West (Majhool, correct me if I’m wrong). In that case, I think Syria certainly has a very key role to play in our region, which is why I believe we need to make peace with Syria as soon as possible.

May 5th, 2008, 5:39 pm

 

norman said:

Naji,

I agree with you , something is coming and yes they are trying to keep Syria out ,with roamers of peace talks.

May 5th, 2008, 5:42 pm

 

Shai said:

Here’s why we need to make peace now – the majority of Israelis are losing faith in it: http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-3539875,00.html

Simo,

Here’s a nice article on how most Israelis feel about the religious (ultra-orthodox) in our country: http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/980588.html

May 5th, 2008, 5:47 pm

 

Alex said:

AIG,

If the Syrian regime was as bad and as hopeless as the communist one in the USSR at the time, then it would have been finished in 2005 when the million Lebanese demonstrated against Syria and Bashar withdrew the Syrian army. The impression was that Bashar can not do a thing if a similar demonstration took place in Damascus … Aljazeera wil cover it either live or people will send their low resolution video clips that they took with their cell phones … everyone was saying that Bashar is not as “strong” as his father (and … uncle Rifaat) .. and therefore the Beirut scenario was going to be repeeated in Damascus … and the Syrian army will allow those demonstrators just like they allowed them to demonstrate in Beirut without a shot being fired against them.

But nothing happened … nothing happened in 2005 when everything was going against the regime’s wishes .. The Americans and Saudis and Egyptians, and M15 Lebanes and Washington based “Syrian opposition” like Ghadry and others were all preparing their designs for the new Syria .. just the way they like to have it.

It is this dream that just the way Reagan’s tough “we won’t talk to them” was supposedly the reason why the communists fell in the 80’s, similarly the equally bad Syrian regime will fall when America and its puppets boycott it.

Instead … Bahsar is the most popular Arab head of state … in Syria and outside.

So … if you want a revolution to take place in Syria .. it ain’t happening. What yu might still be able to hope for (outside intervention) is a possibility … unfortunately … for all in hte Middle East.

Naji … they can make use of all their friends (like Iraq’s foreign minister) in raising the temperature … but then they have to go for that big war … and it will not be Israel Hizbollah this time… everyone will pay the price if “the experienced” ones decided to not support the peace process and to try their military technology option instead.

May 5th, 2008, 5:49 pm

 

Alex said:

At least vegetables are much cheaper now (summer season)

http://souriaalghad.net/index.php?inc=show_menu&id=4244&dir_id=43

May 5th, 2008, 5:52 pm

 

abraham said:

Two stories:

Iraqi official says Iran arms evidence not conclusive

Iraqi official says no conclusive evidence on some Iran arms to militias

SAMEER N. YACOUB
AP News

May 04, 2008 13:10 EST

A top Iraqi official said Sunday there was no conclusive evidence that Shiite extremists have been directly supplied with some Iranian arms as alleged by the United States.

Government spokesman Ali al-Dabbagh said Iraq does not want trouble with any country, “especially Iran.”

Al-Dabbagh was commenting on talks this week in Tehran between an Iraqi delegation and Iranian authorities aimed at halting suspected Iranian aid to some Shiite militias.

Asked about reports that some rockets made in 2007 or 2008 and seized in raids against militias were directly supplied by Iran, al-Dabbagh replied: “There is no conclusive evidence.”

http://wiredispatch.com/news/?id=154536

Hezbollah Trains Iraqis in Iran, Officials Say

By MICHAEL R. GORDON
Published: May 5, 2008

BAGHDAD — Militants from the Lebanese group Hezbollah have been training Iraqi militia fighters at a camp near Tehran, according to American interrogation reports that the United States has supplied to the Iraqi government.

An American official said the account of Hezbollah’s role was provided by four Shiite militia members who were captured in Iraq late last year and questioned separately.

http://www.nytimes.com/2008/05/05/world/middleeast/05iran.html?partner=rssuserland&emc=rss&pagewanted=all

Two articles, both coming out today, each saying exactly the opposite of the other. In the first, we have direct quotes from an Iraqi official. In the second, we have unsubstantiable claims coming from “an American official”.

Which to believe?

I don’t know who Sameer Yacoub (the author of the first article) is, but I do know who Michael Gordon is:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Michael_R._Gordon

This is the same guy that, along with Judith Miller, promoted the now thoroughly debunked claims that Saddam had nuclear weapons.

This is the same guy that regularly writes hysterical articles about unpopular Middle Eastern regimes and can basically be considered the tip of any American assault on a Middle Eastern country. He is part of the NY Times Propaganda Brigade.

The NY Times, despite all its mea culpas over Judith Miller’s lies and propaganda, which the NY Times published without a hint of skepticism, is still playing the same old game: helping to promote anti-Arab/Muslim justification for going to war. If Miller didn’t become such a liability they would have still been employing her. I can only come to this conclusion since they still employ Gordon, who is every bit the shameless propaganda pusher and liar that Judith Miller was, but somehow he manages to fly under the radar and escapes the same criticism that ultimately forced the NYT to dump Miller. He is a neocon and a shill for Israel.

The NY Times has no credibility. Zero. They keep promoting the same garbage that puts a veneer of credibility on American government lies so that we can expand our War of Terror and continue to sink our nation into the tarpit from which there is no escape. The NY Times really must hate America.

May 5th, 2008, 5:54 pm

 

Majhool said:

Abraham

“Once the Middle East is free of American influence”

Your statement is not realistic. The US is the world’s super power and we Arabs don’t live in a vacuum, The Syrian Regime is not asking the Americans to peruse a hands-off policy in the ME, instead they want the US to give them her blessing. This blessing ensures that the regime stays in power.. isn’t that an interference?

AIG,

Let’s “wait” and see

May 5th, 2008, 5:55 pm

 

abraham said:

AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Abraham,
Could you humor me and explain why “Western operatives will always act in the best interest of the West, which ultimately means more pain and misery and suffering for the Arabs.”

Can you list the interests of the West that contradict the interests of the Arab people? Is there anything on that list beyond peace with Israel? Seriously, why are the interests of the West and the Arab countries and people in conflict? I just don’t see it.

I rest my case that AIG is here only to pollute. I asked one simple question to AIG not once, but twice, and AIG ignored both, found one nit within what I wrote on which to pick, then asked some more useless and meaningless questions.

I rest my case.

May 5th, 2008, 5:58 pm

 

abraham said:

Majhool said:

“Once the Middle East is free of American influence”

Your statement is not realistic. The US is the world’s super power and we Arabs don’t live in a vacuum, The Syrian Regime is not asking the Americans to peruse a hands-off policy in the ME, instead they want the US to give them her blessing. This blessing ensures that the regime stays in power.. isn’t that an interference?

What makes you think I’m talking about now? I’m talking probably 50 years down the road. That’s probably how long it will take for American influence in the ME to drop to a level where Arab countries can finally negotiate based on the best interests of their country and people.

May 5th, 2008, 6:02 pm

 

AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Alex,
Are you saying that the economic situation or situation in Syria is now better than it was in the Soviet Union in 1989? By all objective criteria the standard of living was much higher and certainly education and technology were much much better than in current day Syria.

Bashar and Asad are certainly worse than the Soviet regime. Bashar is not loved or liked in Syria. He is tolerated because unlike the Soviet union in which there were real alternatives to communism and there was social cohesion, there is no such thing in Syria. In that respect, Bashar and Hafez were much better totalitarians than the communists. All the Lebanese were asking for in 2005 was to be left alone and continue with their own internal practices without intervention. The Syrians do not know even what to ask for instead of Asad. Without him, there is barren ground that would probably lead to chaos. That combined with the ingrained fear of the regime, kept Asad in power.

May 5th, 2008, 6:03 pm

 

AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Abraham,
Check above, I answered your question quite some time ago. You probably skipped the post.

May 5th, 2008, 6:05 pm

 

abraham said:

AIG, you accuse Assad of wanting a peace process but not peace. Given that Israel has been “negotiating” with the Palestinians for 60 years now, how do you justify this attribution to Assad, a relative newcomer to the ME political scene, but completely ignore Israel’s track record of “processing peace” that has so far transcended 6 decades?

And a corollary: given then that you don’t think Syria is sincere because, as you assert, Assad is more interested in “process” rather than “peace”, why should we believe Israel is interested in peace, especially in light of its 60 year track record with regards to “processing peace”?

It seems I’ve got AIG cornered. This happens often. You know “for a fact” when he is because he ignores the pertinent questions and tries to divert the topic to something else, usually through meaningless counter-questions.

Maybe he’ll muster the courage to answer this time. Let’s watch and see…

May 5th, 2008, 6:06 pm

 

Shai said:

Majhool,

While Syria (and, for that matter, all other ME states) want very good relations with the U.S., and the world’s last remaining super power’s blessing in any initiative and role taken, I strongly believe that it is not in the best interest of the people of these nations, to have U.S. puppets at their helm. That is, if Abu Mazen is financed, armed, and protected by the West (Israel, U.S., Europe, etc.), people from within, and indeed significant parties like Hamas, will view this as blatant and destructive interference in the internal affairs of a nation by another. The U.S., and the West, should support entire nations in our region, but not parts of entire nations, or particular regimes or leaders. I think that’s what Abraham is referring to, or at least, that’s what I am suggesting. Otherwise, an Iran-like situation of pre-Revolution is likely to happen, as it has elsewhere around the world. It normally ends not in democracy, but indeed in a much more fundamentalist, conservative, and often religious revolution.

Few can honestly suggest that a violent takeover of Gaza by Hamas (putting aside who instigated it, and foolishly supported only one side, Fatah’s) was to bring more freedom to the Palestinians there. Though street life is much safer and more quiet than it was before, this does not come through increased freedom, but rather the opposite. All polls taken, by all sides, have consistently shown that the majority of the Palestinians prefer a democratic, and secular state. Voting for Hamas was more about fighting corruption, than it was about a future of democracy and freedom. But by consistently supporting only Fatah, the “West” strengthened Hamas, basically tempted, created, and delivered directly to the corrupt leaders and politicians in the Fatah, and brought upon the Palestinians (at least for now) exactly the opposite of freedom and democracy.

May 5th, 2008, 6:08 pm

 

abraham said:

AIG, sorry, nice try. I posted my original query at May 5th, 2008, 3:57 pm. Five intervening messages from you subsequent and still no reply, so I re-posited my question at May 5th, 2008, 5:02 pm. An hour later and I am still waiting for a reply to a two hour old question.

Maybe Alex deleted your reply? Or maybe it got caught in the spam filter? The mystery grows!

May 5th, 2008, 6:10 pm

 

AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Abraham,
First of all, you can believe whatever you want. But as I answered you above, most of the blame lies with the Arabs for why over 60 years there is no peace agreement.

Were the Arabs interested in discussing peace in 48? No, only an armstice agreement but not a peace one inspite of Isreli requests.

Were the Aabs interested in discussing peace after 67? No, they gathered in Khartoum and issued their three no’s: No peace with Israel, no recognition of Israel, no negotiations with Israel

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Khartoum_Resolution

So it is you who is ignoring history and the track record of the Arabs and that is why you have a false belief.

May 5th, 2008, 6:11 pm

 

abraham said:

AIG:

Bashar and Asad are certainly worse than the Soviet regime. Bashar is not loved or liked in Syria. He is tolerated because unlike the Soviet union in which there were real alternatives to communism and there was social cohesion, there is no such thing in Syria.

I know it’s probably not wise to ask you yet another question when you are having so much trouble working on the reply to my first, but I can’t wait.

What “alternatives to communism” are you referring to in the former USSR?

I would also ask you what you mean by “social cohesion” but I’m assuming those are just the puffy words you normally include in your responses to make them seem “learned”.

So, two questions outstanding to AIG. Will he answer either?

Stay tuned!

May 5th, 2008, 6:12 pm

 

AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Abraham,
You are right about one thing, I can’t find my previous post above and I really don’t know why.

May 5th, 2008, 6:15 pm

 

abraham said:

First of all, you can believe whatever you want. But as I answered you above, most of the blame lies with the Arabs for why over 60 years there is no peace agreement.

Hmmm, I still don’t see the reply you said you made some time ago. Where is it? Please point out where it is “above”.

Alex, did you not approve one of AIG’s spam postings?

In the meantime, does the word “occupation” mean anything to you? Here’s another word: “settlements”. Does that have any meaning to you, AIG?

May 5th, 2008, 6:15 pm

 

abraham said:

AIG, do you have a job? Seriously, what do you do for a living?

I’m an independent consultant, so I make my own schedule and decide how to use my time, but once in a while I still have to work so I can earn some money to pay the bills.

What’s your story?

May 5th, 2008, 6:16 pm

 

Shai said:

Abraham, AIG,

Arguing about the interpretation of our history is, to my mind, a useless exercise. You will never agree, because your most basic assumptions about one another are complete opposites. But, you might be able to agree on things that relate to the future. For instance, Abraham, how do you think Israel should now relate to the Palestinians? Should we continue talking to Abu Mazen? Should we talk to Hamas and if yes, what about? Should we restart talks with Syria, given that it has been almost 3-4 years now that Syria is asking to make peace with us, like never before? From what we’ve heard, both from the official Syrian and Palestinian side, neither is making talks with Syria conditional upon progress along the Palestinian track. What are your thoughts on these significant issues?

May 5th, 2008, 6:20 pm

 

AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Abraham,
You may have missed what Nour, Majhool and I agreed upon:
“This is not because Syrians are incapable of democratizing, but rather because currentl social ailments manifesting themselves in sectarianism and tribal loyalties lead to a lack of social consciousness, which has resulted in the polarization and fragmentation of society.”

Social cohesion is basically an agreement accepted by most to solve all problems without violence and to share power equitably while respecting minority rights.

In the Soviet Union there nationalistic parties that were a good replacement for communism. The Baltic states are an excellent example were transition was practically seamless.

May 5th, 2008, 6:21 pm

 

AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Abraham,
Which settlements are you talking about in 1967? There were ZERO settlements then. Why did the Arabs not agree to talk to Israel about peace then? Why the famous 3 NOs? It is PROOF that neither occupation nor settlements are the problem.

May 5th, 2008, 6:23 pm

 

Shai said:

AIG,

I completely understand Palestinians that doubt any suggestion by Israel about peace, as long as we continue to develop and create further Jewish settlements in the West Bank, as long as we continue to occupy Palestinian territory, and rule over the Palestinians. All of these are contradictory to peace. We can use the excuse of firing at Qassam launchers, but how can we explain settlements and occupation? Why can we not begin to dismantle settlements, to re-settle Jewish settlers inside Israel, even before signing a “peace agreement” with the Palestinians? If we have to, let’s even keep the army there, outside of towns and cities, but why maintain Jewish settlements? The majority of Israelis have already come to accept that we have no future in Judea and Samaria, so why are we still there?

May 5th, 2008, 6:31 pm

 

AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Shai,
We are still there because the political price of dismantling settlements for any Israeli government is too high, especially when it is clear that settlements are not the main problem. We both agreed that unilateral withdrawal will not work, so why are you flogging this dead horse again?

Let me ask you, are you for vacating Ariel? How about Ma’ale Edomim?

May 5th, 2008, 6:36 pm

 

abraham said:

Shai:

Arguing about the interpretation of our history is, to my mind, a useless exercise.

I agree, which is why I don’t attempt to engage in such discussions with AIG. I only ask him to clarify statements that he makes which make no sense to me.

How do you think Israel should now relate to the Palestinians?

The only way that is possible if Israel wants to survive as a nation, and that is to create one state inclusive of all people living in what is now called Israel and the West Bank and Gaza.

Should we continue talking to Abu Mazen?

No, it is pointless and only serves to prolong the misery and agony of both peoples.

Should we talk to Hamas and if yes, what about?

Of course, and it should be about giving the Palestinians their land and their human rights.

Should we restart talks with Syria, given that it has been almost 3-4 years now that Syria is asking to make peace with us, like never before?

Of course, it doesn’t hurt to talk, and it even helps when you negotiate peace. In Israel’s case, it has no choice.

From what we’ve heard, both from the official Syrian and Palestinian side, neither is making talks with Syria conditional upon progress along the Palestinian track. What are your thoughts on these significant issues?

I think it is ultimately a waste of time, since it has already been shown that peace cannot be made piecemeal (“peacemeal”). Peace with Egypt alone did not solve Israel’s problem. Peace with Jordan did not solve Israel’s problem. Peace with Syria will not solve Israel’s problem.

The problem, again, is the Palestinians and their occupation by Israel. That is the problem. So why not start by address the root cause of the problem first rather than all its symptoms? It’s like if someone had cancer and the doctor kept prescribing aspirin for the headaches.

May 5th, 2008, 6:38 pm

 

abraham said:

“This is not because Syrians are incapable of democratizing, but rather because currentl social ailments manifesting themselves in sectarianism and tribal loyalties lead to a lack of social consciousness, which has resulted in the polarization and fragmentation of society.”

That sounds like a description of America. This is just more verbal drool.

Maybe it’s because Syrians are tired of watching the evening news and seeing dead Palestinian infants. Do you and Majhool and Nour think that might also be a cause?

May 5th, 2008, 6:41 pm

 

AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Abraham,
Why don’t you ask Nour? She (my guess on gender) wrote it. This is a Syrian describing Syria, not me.

And you didn’t answer my question as to why the Arabs refused in 67 to talk to Israel when there were ZERO settlements? Why the three No’s in Khartoum? Isn’t this proof that settlements are not the problem?

May 5th, 2008, 6:44 pm

 

Shai said:

AIG,

No, you’re right, I am also against unilateral withdrawal. But I’m not suggesting that, like in Gaza and Lebanon, we took everything out, and hoped for the best. I’m talking about preparing and starting to carry out the re-settlement of Jewish settlers into Israel proper. I’m not suggesting removing the army from having any control whatsoever (like in Gaza), before a bilateral agreement can be reached. But removing settlements will, undoubtedly, create a very positive “spirit” and indication of our sincerity in reaching a peaceful solution. If I can try to think of one means by which we can make every Palestinian man, woman, and child, reconsider their support of Hamas (and its corresponding belligerent stance towards Israel), it is much more this way, than by chocking Gaza’s 1.5 million citizens, or continuing to run 500 roadblocks throughout the West Bank.

About Ariel and Ma’ale Edomim, my guess is that they won’t be dismantled, but that equivalent land will be handed over in return. I’m not terribly happy about it, but indeed it seems to be almost an impossibility. Our idiotic governments (mostly on the Left), created and nurtured these, and they’ve simply grown to a point difficult to easily undo.

May 5th, 2008, 6:45 pm

 

abraham said:

Which settlements are you talking about in 1967?

The one that was called “Israel”. You fail to understand that the original problem was the creation of the state of Israel on Arab land. There is no higher authority that the Arabs should have accepted as the final arbiter in this case. It is their land. It was stolen from them. The Arabs want it back.

As for the 1967 war, I can post endlessly about how Israel was in fact the aggressor that initiated that war, specifically to grab more land.

This is the way of the zionist. Keep acquiring more land using whatever dirty tricks are required. Talk peace but in the meantime expand the settlements. Talk peace but in the meantime kill as many Arabs as is possible. Talk peace when in the meantime you really just want the Arabs to leave so you can take more of their land.

Come on, a zebra can’t change its stripes.

May 5th, 2008, 6:45 pm

 

abraham said:

And you didn’t answer my question as to why the Arabs refused in 67 to talk to Israel when there were ZERO settlements? Why the three No’s in Khartoum? Isn’t this proof that settlements are not the problem?

Why should I answer any question of yours? Aren’t you going to just post more questions in response to mine? Don’t you notice that everything I say to you is in the form of a question? Do you know what I’m getting at here?

What do you do for a living? What is your job? Do you work for the Israeli government?

May 5th, 2008, 6:46 pm

 

abraham said:

especially when it is clear that settlements are not the main problem.

Spoken like a true zionist.

Listen, before 1967, when Israel had only one settlement called “Israel”, didn’t Israel have a problem? When Israel captured more Arab land in 1967 and started to build settlements, didn’t Israel only create more problems for itself? When Israel withdrew from Gaza, didn’t it still have the same problem?

It looks like you are always looking at the wrong thing and calling it The Problem. The elephant is still in the room. However, you’re running out of time, the game is almost over and you are still very far from success. You’ve looked into every book on every shelf, into every jar, behind every sofa, underneath every lampshade, TWICE, you’ve pulled out the carpet, checked between the sofa cushions, looked out all the doors and windows, and still you do not notice the elephant sitting on the recliner, drinking your beer and watching the TV.

The question: WHO IS THE ELEPHANT?

May 5th, 2008, 6:53 pm

 

AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Abraham,
Now your position is clear. You are against the existence of Israel even in the 67 borders. So of course settlements are just an excuse for you. There is no higher authority than Israeli law regarding Israeli land. The Palestinians rejected the 48 partition, initiated a war in which they were supported by all Arab countries and they lost. When you start a war and lose, you pay a price.

And if you think it is useless to talk peace with Israel even though Israel has peace agreements with Egypt and Jordan then don’t talk to Israel. Just wait patiently until we crumble from the inside as you believe must happen.

May 5th, 2008, 6:56 pm

 

AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Abraham,
Israel has many problems, but so what? Who said getting a country would be easy. Israelis have fought and sacrificed for thier country for 60 years and it is clear that we will have to do it well into the future.

The elephant in the room is a Jewish state which you are just not ready to accept. That is your right. But it is also our right to fight for this state which was founded by the UN. Your two options are to wait until we crumble or come take it by force. Otherwise, accept that there is and will be for a very very long time a Jewish state in the middle east.

May 5th, 2008, 7:01 pm

 

Shai said:

Abraham,

I very much agree with what you say, long term. In the meantime, which I believe is at least 10-15 years, a one state solution is just not feasible or likely. So, which is the worst of the two evils, a two-state solution, or a no-state one? I very strongly believe that we all need to slowly begin to turn the terrible wheel of violence and crime and hatred that has been running our region for the better part of a century. It can’t be changed on the spot. And to do that, we must begin with physical separation (though still remain dependent on one another, economically, etc.), followed by relatively-peaceful living side-by-side, and then recognition and acceptance of responsibility. Only then, can forgiving and reconciliation become a possibility, and only after that, can the region consider unification of any sort (my so-called UME-fantasy).

May 5th, 2008, 7:01 pm

 

abraham said:

Now your position is clear.

It’s always been clear to those who actually read what I say.

You are against the existence of Israel even in the 67 borders.

Correct.

So of course settlements are just an excuse for you.

No, there you go spinning my words again to fit your preconceived narrative so that you can use it as a launch pad to delcare more of your nonsensical word theater.

There is no higher authority than Israeli law regarding Israeli land. The Palestinians rejected the 48 partition, initiated a war in which they were supported by all Arab countries and they lost. When you start a war and lose, you pay a price.

What makes you think the war ended? I keep telling you that it never did but you won’t listen. Anyway, I’m not sure what authority you are referring to. If someone came today and took one of my vital organs and told me it was going to be given to someone else, I think I’d be pretty pissed off as well, and I would not accept anyone else’s idea of what “authority” is.

And if you think it is useless to talk peace with Israel even though Israel has peace agreements with Egypt and Jordan then don’t talk to Israel. Just wait patiently until we crumble from the inside as you believe must happen.

No problem! Time is on our side.

But it is also our right to fight for this state which was founded by the UN.

Wait a second. By UN do you mean the “United Nations”? The same United Nations that has all these unimplemented Security Council resolutions that Israel has ignored? Is your bringing in the UN supposed to be a snide joke perhaps?

Your two options are to wait until we crumble or come take it by force.

I’m not ruling out the latter, but in any event the former will happen, and sooner than you think.

Otherwise, accept that there is and will be for a very very long time a Jewish state in the middle east. If you were talking about a “very very very very very very very very very very very very very very very very very very very very very very very very very very very very very very very very very very very very very very very very very very very very very very very very very very very very very very very very” long time then I might be inclined to be dismayed, but a “very very” long time is about 60 years by my calculations, so as I said, you are running out of time.

Tick tock tick tock tick tock…

May 5th, 2008, 7:16 pm

 

abraham said:

Shai said:

In the meantime, which I believe is at least 10-15 years, a one state solution is just not feasible or likely.

Perhaps.

So, which is the worst of the two evils, a two-state solution, or a no-state one?

Well, I would certainly prefer that the Palestinians at least be given the chance to live in relative peace, so a two-state solution would of course be better for now. It’s too bad that successive Israeli governments won’t actually let the Palestinians have one.

Look, I am willing to believe you are sincere, Shai. But I have been following this game for too long to expect any actual sincerity to come out of any Israeli government, whether run by Labor or Likud. They are two sides of the same coin.

The only way Israel will come to negotiate is when they are on their knees and are pleading for mercy. I wish it were different but this is what my interpretation of history has led me to conclude.

Let’s wait 20 years and see who’s right. I think I will be.

May 5th, 2008, 7:22 pm

 

norman said:

Turkey aims for clout as regional mediator
Back-channel discussions between Syria and Israel are being facilitated by Turkey, which has close ties to Israel and growing ties to Syria. The United States is supportive of the effort.
By Yigal Schleifer | Correspondent of The Christian Science Monitor
from the May 6, 2008 edition

ISTANBUL, TURKEY – Drawing on its close ties with Israel and growing closeness to Syria, Turkey is working to position itself as a key regional mediator in the Middle East.

Last week, Israel and Syria revealed that Ankara had stepped in to fill a diplomatic vacuum by facilitating back-channel discussions between the two states.

That effort received a boost Sunday from Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, who said that the United States would back such a peace initiative. She qualified her support by stating that Damascus needed to rethink its policy toward Lebanon.

Turkey’s bid, analysts say, is part of a larger plan to improve its relations with neighbors and take full advantage of its location and historical Ottoman ties to play a larger role than it has in previous decades. But many questions remain about its ability to establish itself as a heavyweight quite yet.

“Turkey has become one of the pollinators, one of the actors on the circuit. It’s hard to think of anyone else who can visit the wide variety of countries, from Israel to Iran, that Turkey can,” says Hugh Pope, Turkey analyst for the International Crisis Group, a Brussels-based policy and advocacy organization. “I don’t think there are many diplomats visiting Tehran who have just visited Israel, and that’s a valuable role.”

In an April interview with Qatar’s al-Watan newspaper, Syrian President Bashar Assad said an Israeli offer to withdraw from the Golan Heights in return for permanent peace was delivered to him through Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Israeli officials have confirmed Ankara’s role in reaching out to President Assad.

“To a certain extent, [the Turks] have succeeded in increasing their visibility and importance in the region, and people have responded to that. They have achieved something,” says Henri Barkey, an expert on Turkey at Pennsylvania’s Lehigh University.

Facilitating between Syria and Israel “gives you an idea of how much the [Turkish government] wants to be a player in the region,” he adds. “They do see themselves as a major part of the region. That is a big shift from previous governments, which wouldn’t have bothered with this.”

Long-time enemies Israel and Syria have not negotiated directly since US-brokered talks collapsed in 2000. Since then, US-Syrian relations have deteriorated steadily. Meanwhile, Ankara and Damascus have been improving their previously strained relationship.

Burak Ozugergin, a Turkish Foreign Ministry spokesman, says Turkey can facilitate contact because of its close ties to both sides. “Things are progressing and Turkey will continue to be available as long as both sides want it,” he says. “We have not interjected ourselves into the mix. Both sides were willing to go through Turkey.”

Alon Liel, a former director general of the Israeli Foreign Ministry who has conducted unofficial talks on an Israel-Syrian peace, said that Turkey first offered to serve as a go-between in early 2004. Then-Prime Minister Ariel Sharon turned Ankara down. Three years later, Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, fearing talks with the Palestinians might fail, took Turkey up on its offer.

“There is an interest on Israel’s part in keeping the peace momentum,” Mr. Liel says. “If you cannot move on the West Bank, everybody is looking up to the Golan Heights and looking to see what can be up there.”

Turkey had been criticized by some US officials for improving relations with Syria as the US was trying to isolate Damascus for its ties to Iran and Hizbullah.

Turkish officials have refused to give details about any future contacts between Syria and Israel, but Israeli press reports have suggested that Ankara might broker meetings between low-level officials.

Secretary Rice said last Friday that Washington had confidence in at least two of the participants in the process.

“In terms of the reports of Turkish mediation between Syria and Israel, we have confidence in Turkey, we have confidence in Israel,” Rice told reporters en route to a London meeting. “I think it’s quite clear that we don’t have much confidence in Syria.”

Most observers, while lauding Turkey’s efforts, say that the country doesn’t yet have the diplomatic expertise or weight to bring about a comprehensive settlement on its own. Rather, it represents another track, one that could help move any dialogue further along. The Erdogan government is also facing the possibility of being closed down by Turkey’s top court, something that could further undercut Ankara’s ability to sustain its new efforts.

“Obviously, Turkey is not the United States in this game,” says Suat Kiniklioglu, a member of the governing Justice and Development Party (AKP) and spokesman of the parliament’s foreign affairs committee.

“But our plan is to facilitate any contact or dialogue that will, hopefully, lead to a deal,” he adds. “The prime minister doesn’t think this is a waste of his time or energy. The thinking in Ankara is that the status quo in the Middle East is not sustainable, and we want to prevent whatever damage we can.”

• Josh Mitnick contributed to this report from Tel Aviv.

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May 5th, 2008, 7:22 pm

 

abraham said:

AIG, what do you do for a living? Who do you work for?

May 5th, 2008, 7:22 pm

 

AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Abraham,
When two people have different expectations of the future, the only way to see who is right is to wait patiently for the future. There is nothing sure in life, but I very much like Israel’s chances given the fact that over the last 60 years Israel has only gotten significantly stronger. I have explained why, the only way for the Arabs to beat Israel is to become democratic but they won’t do it because it means surrendering to US hegemony. It is a win win situation for Israel.

I find your insistence that the war of 1948 has not ended amusing. Maybe you mean that the Palestinians struggle has not ended, but that war is history.

May 5th, 2008, 7:23 pm

 

AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Abraham,
I am a technology entrepreneur. I work for myself.

May 5th, 2008, 7:25 pm

 

AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

By the way Abraham, what are doing if we are not debating?

May 5th, 2008, 7:31 pm

 

Naji said:

A tough interview for our Imad Moustapha on Jazeera right now… he is doing well, for those already in the choir, but a bit too agressive/defensive and dismissive for those outside the choir…! He needs to pick up a couple of chill-pills from Sami Khiami…! 😉

He even made the Ammar Abdulhamid kid look (he had more hair) and sound good… much more calm, reasonable, respectful, accomodating, and conciliatory…!!!?? The kid is smartly insisting that they are AGAINST regime change at this time/juncture, but simply want to pressure the regime to pay more attention to human rights, and to keep the HR and reform agenda part of the dialogue, etc…!!! Smart…!!

Imad, our fellow engineer, …must brush-up and update your rhetoric… come on…!!
…and chill… on TV, at least…, even though I believe we are at a critical moment… and your skills and energy and competence will be critical to our national interest, and even the very survival of it, in the coming period…! Perhaps if you were a little more open and inclusive, you will find people out there to help you carry the load…!? Anyway, nobody needs backseat drivers right now… so, good luck…!

May 5th, 2008, 7:44 pm

 

Shai said:

Abraham,

I too would like to believe that my government leaders are or will be sincere. But I’ve lost all trust in politicians long ago. I don’t think you or I would ever let one babysit our children, right? And there’s a reason for that. But, I do believe that when most Israelis (as will hopefully be represented in polls) begin to change their views on Syria, on Arabs in general, and on the Palestinian issues, then the leadership at that time will have no alternative, but to move forward. I don’t give a rat’s a## whether Olmert is sincere in wanting peace with Syria, just like I didn’t when Bibi was starting to negotiate back in the 1990’s. I want their action (not intent) to create a different spirit that will effect public opinion. And then, when 50.1% of Israelis understand that Syria IS sincere, and that the Arab nations at the Arab Summits of Beirut and Riyadh WERE sincere in their offers, we can force our political leaders to deliver the goods, and not their own personal feelings.

At the end of the day, we elect these politicians to represent us, not to represent themselves. As you said, none of them ever did anything out of “love for Arabs”, but rather out of fear of the alternative. Unfortunate, but true. Sharon ordered the IDF and all Jewish settlers out of Gaza, because he WAS essentially brought to his knees. But I don’t think Olmert wants to wait for that with regards to Syria. It may all be a trick, as some here suggest, and truth is, I can’t even deny that possibility. Time will tell. But my hope is that facts on the ground, such as the restart of direct talks, will generate their own public inertia, and force us to do things that are long overdue.

May 5th, 2008, 8:01 pm

 

abraham said:

When two people have different expectations of the future, the only way to see who is right is to wait patiently for the future.

Yes, exactly. This is what I’ve been saying. I’m glad to see you are finally coming around to seeing things my way.

I have explained why, the only way for the Arabs to beat Israel is to become democratic but they won’t do it because it means surrendering to US hegemony.

Thus demonstrating once again that you do not understand my arguments. Let me put it another way: Arab countries will likely democratize, eventually. But as long as the US attempts to maintain hegemony in the ME and continues to support Israel with its occupation and slow-motion genocide of the Palestinians, the opportunity will never come.

Let’s look at it another way:

Egypt surrendered to US hegemony. Is it a democracy? Perhaps in the same sense that Israel is, in that you both have a parliament, which is really a false measure.

Jordan surrendered to US hegemony. Is it a democracy?

Saudia Arabia, Dubai, Yemen, Qatar all surrendered to US hegemony. Are they democracies?

Is Iraq a democracy?

By the way Abraham, what are doing if we are not debating?

This is not a debate, but simply an exchange of propaganda. If you are ever truly interested in a real debate, let me know. However, I’m certain you don’t believe you would ever win a fair debate, so I won’t hold my breath.

May 5th, 2008, 8:05 pm

 

abraham said:

Alex, are you lurking? I posted a message with two links to two different articles re: the current run-up to war with Iran.

Can you please check the spam filter and release it? I promise it is not spam, contrary to what my detractors might think 🙂

May 5th, 2008, 8:10 pm

 

Naji said:

By the way, I was really proud when Imad Moustapha insisted on Palestinian rights before Syrian lands…! Keeping to a principled position is the smartest way to compensate for any inherent disadvantges/handicaps you may have, and to assure success in the long run…!

He also explained very well and convincingly how absurd and unnecessary secret negotiations with Israel are… Syria is openly declaring that it is interested in peace negotiations (even without pre-conditions!) with Israel… Moallem even prounced very strong and unambigous declarations to that effect from Tehran, … and on Al Manar TV, …so why “secret negotiations”…??!!

May 5th, 2008, 8:12 pm

 

AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Abraham,
I’m glad you admit that what you write is propoganda. What I write is not and that is why I am debating and you are just grandstanding.

Again you miss the argument. The reason for Syria and Egypt not ro democratize is that they argue that would me surrendering to US hegemony. That is why they won’t “surrender”. I never said “surrendering” would lead to democracy. I said Arabs believe that democracy would lead to surrendering.

For you, US hegemony is just the acceptance of a Jewish state. Oh well. Don’t accept Israel as a state. That is an easy position to have when you don’t have to actually fight the Jewish state and sacrifice for your struggle. If you were actually sacrificing for your goals instead of just talking trash, your words would not be so empty.

May 5th, 2008, 8:23 pm

 

abraham said:

Alex, Raw Story has picked up on my post apparently.

As New York Times cites anonymous officials on Iran intelligence, Iraqi government fires back

John Byrne
Published: Monday May 5, 2008

As anonymous American officials continue to leak information suggesting Iran’s involvement in Iraq to the New York Times, even Iraq has begun fighting back. A top Iraqi official said Sunday there was no conclusive evidence that Shiite extremists have been directly supplied with some Iranian arms as alleged by the United States.

Asked about reports that some rockets made in 2007 or 2008 and seized in raids against militias were directly supplied by Iran, government spokesman Ali al-Dabbagh replied: “There is no conclusive evidence.”

http://rawstory.com/news/2008/As_New_York_Times_cites_anonymous_0505.html

The article goes on to mention Michael Gordon, the neocon henchman who is partly responsible for the destruction and killing in Iraq thanks to his sponsor, the NY Times, acting as an amplifier for his zionist propaganda (a role the NYT is most comfortable in playing).

May 5th, 2008, 8:24 pm

 

abraham said:

I’m glad you admit that what you write is propoganda. What I write is not…

Ugh, that is so obnoxiously vain. Shall we take a quick poll and see whether people consider what you write “propoganda” or scholarship?

I have fifty euros on the former.

Again you miss the argument.

And what argument is that? I honestly don’t pay attention to what you write because it really serves no purpose.

The reason for Syria and Egypt not ro democratize is that they argue that would me surrendering to US hegemony.

Hmm, I don’t remember anyone of any legitimacy arguing that. It sounds like another sophomoric thesis that one would have great difficulty trying to support.

I said Arabs believe that democracy would lead to surrendering.

Please, Bernard Lewis was bad enough, we don’t need another pseudo-Orientalist positing corny social theories about the Arabs and what they think.

For you, US hegemony is just the acceptance of a Jewish state.

Well, isn’t that what the US requires of any Arab nation? The US won’t deal with any nation that does not capitulate and accept the theft of land from the Palestinians.

If you were actually sacrificing for your goals instead of just talking trash, your words would not be so empty.

Here’s the hyena calling the jackal a dog. Too funny. You should talk Mr. “Technology Entrepreneur”.

May 5th, 2008, 8:33 pm

 

Naji said:

TITLE Palestinians Responsible for Israeli Killing of Palestinians: Post Op-Ed columnist hits new low
DEPARTMENT Washington Babylon
BY Ken Silverstein
PUBLISHED May 5, 2008

It’s always a mistake to read the Washington Post’s Jackson Diehl during breakfast (or at all for that matter), but his column today was particularly gag-inducing:

Last Tuesday, Israel faced the fallout from a Palestinian family of five perishing in the Gaza Strip during an Israeli strike against militants firing rockets at an Israeli town…For months now, Israel has been mired in an unwinnable war against Hamas and allied militias in Gaza, who fire missiles at civilians in Israel and then hide among their own women and children, ensuring that retaliatory fire will produce innocent victims for the Middle East’s innumerable satellite television networks.

Yes, an Israeli air strike kills five civilians and Israel is the primary victim. Indeed, Hamas is ultimately responsible for every Palestinian casualty, including presumably the more than 900 Palestinian minors killed by Israeli security forces since 2000.

And keep in mind that Diehl is an “editorial writer specializing in foreign affairs” and former correspondent from Jerusalem. Beyond belief.

http://www.harpers.org/archive/2008/05/hbc-90002903

May 5th, 2008, 8:42 pm

 

abraham said:

Naji,

Can you please post a proper link for the source of the above snippet?

May 5th, 2008, 8:49 pm

 

AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Abraham,
I guess you don’t pay much attention to what anyone is posting on this blog. Time and time again people have been denouncing democracy as a western plot to inflict western hegemony over the Arabs.

I don’t write scholarship, I write my opinons and I argue for them, unlike you who just dismisses other’s opinions out of hand without argumentation.

Since you are living in the US, how do you know that it is more important for the average Syrian or Lebanese to reject a Jewish state than have better education for his kids? We will only know that when there is democracy in the Arab countries. I am pretty sure most Lebanese are pretty tired of fighting Israel and would have not problem accepting a Jewish state. As for Syrians, Alex and others on this blog hold quite a different opinon than you. They are more than happy to accept the two state solution. So who exactly are you talking for? The Arab leftists who live a secure and wealthy life in the US while pushing the Arab masses to war with Israel because they have some preconceived notion of “justice”?

The difference between us is huge. I am willing to risk my life for the Jewish state and have done so in the past. You are willing to send others to war in order to obliterate it. Come join Islamic Jihad or Al Aqsa Brigades and then your empty words would have meaning.

May 5th, 2008, 8:51 pm

 
 

Shai said:

Naji,

What Israel and the West do not seem to understand, or want to understand, is that the Palestinians and any of their organized parties (Hamas, Fatah, etc.) have no alternative. And, that if we were in your shoes, we’d act the same way (if not worse). I’m not justifying Qassam rockets, but I’m certainly not about to justify the killing of 120 Palestinians in a 4-day operation in Gaza as of recent, or 1,500 Lebanese in a 34 day operation in Lebanon. During WWII, America bombed and destroyed between 50%-90% of 67 major Japanese cities (cities equivalent in size to NYC, Los Angeles, Chicago, Detroit, etc.), often using fire-bombs to burn everything, including the inhabitants, and all this PRIOR to dropping two atomic bombs in Hiroshima and Nagasaki. And if asked, America too would have said it was the Japanese fault that so many of their innocent civilians are dying. Few nations ever understood the rules of war, or the idea of reciprocity.

May 5th, 2008, 8:56 pm

 

Qifa Nabki said:

AIG and Abraham

Since you are both independent consultants/entrepreneurs, maybe you should go into business together.

Boy would I love to be a fly on the wall in that office.

Then again…

May 5th, 2008, 8:57 pm

 

AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Shai,
Of course the Palestinians have an alterantive. For example, they could have accepted the 48 partition. They could have negotiated with Israel after the 48 war and after the 67. Only if you want to obliterate Israel then they have no alternative but to fight. Otherwise, the Palestinians have plenty of peaceful alternatives. In fact, many Palestinians believe that if the Palestinians did not use violence in their struggle, they would have had a state, many years ago.

May 5th, 2008, 9:00 pm

 

SOL said:

ABRAHAM said

“You are against the existence of Israel even in the 67 borders?”

“Correct.”

Without trying to put words in your mouth and for the sake of clarification are you saying that it is not an issue of boundaries or refugees but simply that Israel does not have the right to exist?

May 5th, 2008, 9:00 pm

 

Shai said:

QN,

They always say friends shouldn’t go into business together… so at least that’s not a problem…

May 5th, 2008, 9:01 pm

 

Seeking the Truth said:

AnotherIsraeliGuy said:
There is just nothing for Asad to gain from peace with Israel.

AIG, when the “resistance” is off the table by having a peace treaty with Israel, I find it hard not to expect that Syria’s economy won’t benefit?

May 5th, 2008, 9:05 pm

 

Shai said:

AIG,

I agree with you, but what’s passed is… gone. Today, with the way Israel is conducting its policy vis-a-vis the Palestinians (and probably fair to say since the early 1990s), they truly don’t have a choice but to continue their resistance. You and I both know that Sharon would have never considered pulling out of Gaza had it not been for the resistance. Barak the same with Lebanon. It’s most unfortunate, but in the past two decades, we’ve never really given them a better option. Their goal is not a mere state, but one which is at least to the 1967 borders. Gaza is not enough. But the situation in general has gotten much more complex, now with the Hamas/Fatah rift.

May 5th, 2008, 9:06 pm

 

AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Seeking,
It will, but it will take many years or perhaps decades for the average Syrian to see the difference. The hole Syria dug itself in is so big that it will take decades to for it to emerge from it. It will take perhaps even a generation just to have an educated enough work force for today’s economy.

May 5th, 2008, 9:08 pm

 

AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Shai,
I disagree, especially now the Palestinian resistance does not make sense. I am not the only one saying it. Many in the Arab world are saying it. At the very minimum, the Palestinians should stop the armed struggle, take a breather and rebuild their society, effect a reconciliation between Fatah and Hamas and then consider their options again. What they are doing now is playing into the hands of Israel.

May 5th, 2008, 9:12 pm

 

Shai said:

AIG,

Well, I agree that they are also playing into the hands of most Israelis. It is a bloody cycle that for both sides’ hardliners creates a self-fulfilling prophecy. But I still don’t believe they have a viable choice. If Hamas stops resisting, the Palestinians in the West Bank will be no closer to their independence. From their point of view, only pressure forces Israel out. And, they’re right. So while their action certainly brings on terrible suffering, they believe long term it is better than to be seen as capitulating. They may be able to secure the lives of more Palestinians if they stop fighting, but not to secure their freedom. And vice-versa if they continue to resist.

May 5th, 2008, 9:18 pm

 

abraham said:

Time and time again people have been denouncing democracy as a western plot to inflict western hegemony over the Arabs.

As I said, I don’t remember anyone of any legitimacy arguing that. It sounds like another sophomoric thesis that one would have great difficulty trying to support.

I don’t write scholarship

You can say that again.

I write my opinons and I argue for them, unlike you who just dismisses other’s opinions out of hand without argumentation.

Does one need to argue over every silly thing someone says? You are already thoroughly discredited here. Most people don’t bother arguing/debating (whatever you want to call it) with you because your logic is circular and you usually don’t make sense. I would dare to say most people here have pretty much come to the same conclusion.

The difference between us is huge.

Oh yes.

I am willing to risk my life for the Jewish state and have done so in the past.

I don’t think blogging for Israel really counts.

..and then your empty words would have meaning.

I think I’ve figured out your problem. You don’t own a dictionary, do you?

May 5th, 2008, 9:21 pm

 

abraham said:

QN said:

AIG and Abraham

Since you are both independent consultants/entrepreneurs, maybe you should go into business together.

No thanks. I don’t want to be the one doing all the work while my colleague spends all his time on the internet spewing pro-Israel propaganda.

May 5th, 2008, 9:22 pm

 

AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Shai,
You are wrong. If they stop resisting, they will build the trust of most Israelis over time and then they will get an independent country in the West Bank. Most Israelis want this solution but are worried about security issues.

And of course the Palestinians should not capitualte. They should continue applying pressure on Israel by non-violent means. That is the only way they will get results.

May 5th, 2008, 9:24 pm

 

abraham said:

Sol:

Without trying to put words in your mouth and for the sake of clarification are you saying that it is not an issue of boundaries or refugees but simply that Israel does not have the right to exist?

Sol, did Yugoslavia have a right to exist? Did Czechoslovakia have a right to exist? No country has a right to exist. The people within it do.

May 5th, 2008, 9:25 pm

 

AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Abraham,
As anyone reading this thread can easily check, I was having an interesting discussion on the subject with Nour, Majhool and others until you butted in. Why does it bother you so much to see a real discussion going on? If I am already discredited hear, why do you bother answering my posts or interfering in discussions I have with others?

We understand, you think I am a propgandist that does not make sense. Now, why don’t we let others decide for themselves?

May 5th, 2008, 9:29 pm

 

abraham said:

And of course the Palestinians should not capitualte. They should continue applying pressure on Israel by non-violent means. That is the only way they will get results.

You mean like in Bil’in?

http://www.palsolidarity.org/main/2006/10/30/bilin-dennis-fox/

Every Friday for the past year and a half villagers from Bil’in, a small West Bank village near Ramallah, march with supporters toward the triple-layer fence separating them from their olive trees. They are always blocked by Israeli soldiers and border police, who typically escalate from tear gas and concussion grenades to water cannons, rubber bullets, live ammunition, and a variety of apparently experimental weapons. This weekly interaction gets a lot of important attention in the alternative press, but is mostly ignored by Western mainstream media.

Oops, darn. Tried that, didn’t work.

What else do you suggest the Palestinians do, short of just accepting defeat and walking away?

May 5th, 2008, 9:29 pm

 

abraham said:

As anyone reading this thread can easily check, I was having an interesting discussion on the subject with Nour, Majhool and others until you butted in.

Oh! Sorry for butting in. I didn’t realize this discussion was closed. I’m sorry that I forced you to actually back up your arguments with facts. Do you mind if I stay and just observe?

why do you bother answering my posts or interfering in discussions I have with others?

Walla, I am sorry. I did not mean to so rudely intrude on your happy little lovefest.

May 5th, 2008, 9:32 pm

 

Shai said:

AIG,

I’d like to convince myself that by just stopping to resist, the Palestinians could achieve so much more. Or that by stopping to support HA/Hamas/Iran, Syria could achieve the Golan so much faster. But in reality, it’s just not true. We would never have considered letting the Palestinians have their own nation, right on our borders, if it wasn’t for the two Intifadas. We would never have left Lebanon or Gaza, if it wasn’t for their resistance. And we’ll only leave the West Bank, when we realize that by staying there we’re bringing upon ourselves further suffering. Why are we all talking about the possibility of war with Syria? Because deep down inside, we realize that perhaps we as Israelis don’t really feel the urgency or need to ever vacate the Golan. Maybe we need to feel the pain more directly (rather than through HA or Hamas), and need to go through another war. Begin would have never given back the Sinai, if it wasn’t just after the Yom Kipur war. Rabin and Peres would have never shook Arafat’s hand, or respected him, if he hadn’t fought them for 30-40 years.

Unfortunately, Israel has never proven it understands any other language than that of violence. I wish I could say otherwise, but I can’t.

May 5th, 2008, 9:34 pm

 

Shai said:

Yalla, good night to all. Some of us still live in the Eastern Hemisphere you know… 😉

May 5th, 2008, 9:38 pm

 

AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Abraham,
If the Palestinians want a one state solution, there is nothing that will work for them. If they want a two state solution there is a simple plan:
1) Stop all violence.
2) Resume getting funding from the international community
3) Take a 5 year breather and stabilize their economy and society. It is very important for Fatah and Hamas to reconcile, otherwise there is no hope for the Palestinian struggle.
4) Following this peaceful period start a comprehensive non-violent campaign. It will work because by then even I would be convinced that the Palestinians really want peace and are willing to live in peace beside Israel. There will be a huge majority inside Israel that will support and believe in a a Palestinian state then and it will be able to stand against the extremists in Israel.

May 5th, 2008, 9:39 pm

 

abraham said:

Unfortunately, Israel has never proven it understands any other language than that of violence. I wish I could say otherwise, but I can’t.

Thank you for being honest, Shai. Many Israelis have made the same statement with regards to Arabs, but I think history has shown the opposite is true. It makes sense, since the Israeli solution for every problem seems to be violence. Only once in a while do they try peace, and lo and behold, it works!

May 5th, 2008, 9:41 pm

 

abraham said:

AIG, you forgot 5:

5) Get frustrated by the building of settlements which again increase after Israel promises peace, then get angry when the IDF kills more innocent Palestinians for no reason, then start another Intifada when it becomes obvious that Israel suckered them once again.

Sorry, AIG, but I doubt you will live to gloat over the capitulation of the Palestinians. You’ve given them nothing to lose, so they can only win.

Tick tock tick tock tick tock…

May 5th, 2008, 9:45 pm

 

AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Shai,
We would never have entered the Golan or Lebanon or the West Bank if it was not for the resistance so your premise is just mistaken. Israelis would like to be sure when they leave that they won’t have to come back again. Otherwise, what is it good leaving? Leaving would just lead to another war.

As for the Palestinians, you are just wrong. If from the start they would have demanded an independent state in the West Bank and Gaza and resorted to no violence, they would have had a state long ago. But Arafat started his campaign in 1964 way before 67. His aim was to liberate ALL of Palestine. If that would have not have been the goal of the PLO till 89, they would have gotten a country much sooner.

May 5th, 2008, 9:45 pm

 

offended said:

AIG opines:
It will work because by then even I would be convinced that the Palestinians really want peace and are willing to live in peace beside Israel.

Aha.. and now you are seriously convinced that what the Palestinians currently want is war, violence and the annihilation of Israel?

May 5th, 2008, 9:46 pm

 

abraham said:

We would never have entered the Golan or Lebanon or the West Bank if it was not for the resistance so your premise is just mistaken. Israelis would like to be sure when they leave that they won’t have to come back again. Otherwise, what is it good leaving? Leaving would just lead to another war.

How about not going in in the first place? Don’t you realize all this started when zionists insisted on carving a state out of land that was already lived upon by over a million people?

May 5th, 2008, 9:54 pm

 

AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Abraham,

The only way the Palestinians will ever get anything is if they gain the trust of most Israelis. What I outlined is the only way to do it.

The Palestinian education system stinks, that means according to Abraham that they are winners! Their economy stinks, they are winners! They are divided between Fatah and Hamas, that obviously means they are winners! The diaspora Palestinans are living for 60 years in refugee camps, the obvious sign of winners! Abraham, I wish you and the Palestinians more such victories.

The Palestinians have already lost if you have not noticed. Oh yes, the sky is green. Will you ever learn? No, because you cannot accept reality.

May 5th, 2008, 9:55 pm

 

AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Offended,
Now I am seriously convinced that there is a large sector of the Palestinian people that think like Abraham and won’t accept a Jewish state and that these people will cause any two state solution to be unstable and lead to another war. So why bother?

May 5th, 2008, 9:58 pm

 

AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Abraham,
Do you realize that there is no rewind button for history and that most Israelis were born in Israel? Both my parents were born in Israel and so was I. The Jews are now indigenous to the middle east by any definition. We are not leaving or giving up the Jewish state. Wait till we crumble (tick tock etc.) which is fine or come get us with war. We will take our chances with either.

May 5th, 2008, 10:03 pm

 

SimoHurtta said:

AIG why did Israel start a war in 1956? For fun or for money, weapons and nuclear technology? It is strange that you IG’s speak so little about 1956 war.

Peace building in Israeli way:

During April, IDF killed 69 Palestinians in Gaza, including 20 children and 16 women.

JP
‘Israel offering us nothing more than mini-state of cantons’
PA official tells ‘Post’ maps presented by gov’t show Israel planning to retain control of nearly half of W. Bank, large parts of e. J’lem.

May 5th, 2008, 10:31 pm

 

ziad said:

Nour do u know what is the synonym of a SSNP member today in Syria?
Moukhber.That’s why they are very hated.
This is the case especially amongst the more and more marginal christian community,most of the regime spies and moukhabarat on them are SSNP comrades.
The party was once strong in the 50’s ,two former syrian presidents ,shishakli and hinawy were ssnp but today they have a very dirty image and have became under asad regime a sectarian minority gathering under the umbrella of makhlouf and other asad relatives.

May 5th, 2008, 10:39 pm

 

AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Sim,
Israel started the war in 1956 because Egypt was supporting Feddayin that crossed the border into Israel and caused great pain and sufferring.
From wikipedia:
“The Arab states, and President Nasser of Egypt in particular, created and supported the Fedayeen who conducted cross-border raids against Israelis. The Fedayeen were trained and equipped by Egyptian Intelligence to infiltrate Israel, engage in hostile actions within it and to commit acts of sabotage and murder. The Fedayeen also operated from bases in Jordan.

Their attacks violated the 1949 Armistice Agreements prohibiting hostilities by paramilitary forces, as did the Israeli counterattacks. However, only Israel was formally condemned by the UN Security Council.[24] The escalating tension and deaths contributed to an atmosphere of hostility and a desire for retaliation in Israel against the Fedayeen and their host countries.”

The full article: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Suez_Crisis

May 5th, 2008, 10:44 pm

 

Shual said:

“Peace building in Israeli way: During April, IDF killed 69 Palestinians in Gaza, including 20 children and 16 women.”

Very quite after March with almost 174 dead people on both sides, YES. A better argument than any “peace blab-bla”. Hamas should use the time [until the new Israeli IAF-chief has to proove his abilities as a counter-terroism and urban-dominance-expert] to check out if they can convince the IDF that their failed strategy should not lead into a successfuler one.

May 5th, 2008, 10:49 pm

 

AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Shual,
In your opinon does Israel have the right to target Hamas people as they are shooting Qassams or going to shot Qassams? Or should Israel just accept that misslies are shot at it and not respond?

May 5th, 2008, 10:55 pm

 

abraham said:

No, because you cannot accept reality.

Reality is a Qassam rocket and one and a half million starving Arabs living on your border.

May 5th, 2008, 11:15 pm

 

abraham said:

The Jews are now indigenous to the middle east by any definition.

So were the Palestinians, and look what happened to them.

Don’t count your generations yet, AIG. History has its own irony.

May 5th, 2008, 11:19 pm

 

abraham said:

AIG, did you ever serve in the IDF?

May 5th, 2008, 11:19 pm

 

Majhool said:

Abraham Said:

“. There is no way to strengthen any Arab government as long as Western powers, specifically the US, are pulling strings”

The US will continue to pull the strings in the ME, they just have to do it right. Unfortunately, the US perused unpopular policies in the ME, These policies will continue to do damages to its allies in the region. Of course the beneficiaries are Hamas, HA, and Iran.

This has to change, and progress will not be made unless the US tackles the elephant in the room which is peace between Israel and the Palestinians.

Shai,

Syria should not be given a role in stabilizing Iraq and Lebanon. The role Syria played in Lebanon was negative. Syria failed to establish statehood in Lebanon instead it created state within a state (HA).

I believe Syria must be engaged on economy and human rights issues and nothing else.

I am not against a peace treaty between Syria and Israel. But the usually lengthy peace process should not be at the expense of the people of Lebanon and Syria. Lebanese shoould be allowed to run their state without syrian control and the syrian people should not subjected by the regime under American and Israeli blessings.

I equally blame the Syrian regime and the US and Israel for the current state of affairs.

May 5th, 2008, 11:24 pm

 

Qifa Nabki said:

Ziad said:

“Nour do u know what is the synonym of a SSNP member today in Syria?
Moukhber.That’s why they are very hated.”

Ziad, can you tell us more about Syrian attitudes towards the different parties (legal and resistance ones) in Syria? Are you there at the moment?

I feel like we don’t get enough information about this, on Syria Comment.

May 5th, 2008, 11:36 pm

 

Majhool said:

ziad,

What you said about the SSNP is true. This is particularly unfortunate given my SSNP tendencies.

I really think that the Turkish Model works best for Syria.

May 5th, 2008, 11:54 pm

 

Majhool said:

QN
If you care to know most Syrians identify with “Arabism/Islamism” depending on the times you can flip them one way or the other. Most parties operating outside this duality have no significant traction in Syrian society.

May 6th, 2008, 12:09 am

 

abraham said:

I’ve been thinking how fun it would be to get Scientologists and zionists into a war with each other.

They are both heavily-funded cults that suppress human rights, but there is enough difference between them that a religious holy war should be sustainable until each has drained the resources of the other.

It is arguable who has more control over Hollywood (I think I’ll give the edge to zionists) but perhaps a turf war in that arena would be just the thing to spark open warefare between the two.

Can you imagine the spectacle?

I’ll have to ponder this further…

May 6th, 2008, 12:12 am

 

Enlightened said:

Abraham Said:

“Here’s the hyena calling the jackal a dog. Too funny. You should talk Mr. “Technology Entrepreneur”.

Abraham Thank you for taking up the mantle to banter with AIG this week, often we find it a fruitless and empty experience, because as you so rightly stated its like the Hyena calling the jackal a dog, but I have one addendum for you, as a consequence the dog starts to chase his tail incessantly , and in doing so runs around in circles arguing and chasing his tail, arguing and chasing his tail, arguing and chasing his tail…… anyway you get my drift.

On a serious note I have found AIG’s true identity he has morphed into…..

http://tbn0.google.com/images?q=tbn:uqQM9zz3UgoJ:zerotosixty.files.wordpress.com/2007/09/medium_dr_evil_1.jpg

May 6th, 2008, 12:14 am

 

Honest Patriot said:

QN said “Where is HP? He is supposed to be organizing the SC conference.

Habibi ya QN, I think I pretty much defined the SC conference at the “executive” (Noblesse Oblige) level. Then I indicated that the necessary next step is the blessing, green light, and chairmanship of our “shay5-el-shabab.” I haven’t read any comments on SC from Joshua (maybe I missed them) but in email the first suggestion was a satellite to the Middle East Studies Association Meeting in DC next November (MESA is Nov 22-25).
http://www.mesa.arizona.edu/annual/current.htm
There’s also an expressed concern about Syrian nationals being prohibited by law from contact with Israelis.
Option 1 is to float the satellite concept to the MESA annual meeting.
Option 2 is for willing volunteers to get key speakers and panelists to agree to join a custom conference. I know Shai had said he has access to at least one. Our “shay5-el-shabab” clearly also could (a) be such a panelist himself and (b) round up another one or two, for example the Syrian ambassador to the US or to the UN. We could take it from there with further examination of location options. I think Montreal is really an excellent choice. Then again, there’s always Larnaca in Cyprus, at a time of good weather.

Ya3ni ya QN, may be I was experiencing one of my demented periods when I pushed for this and then continued elaborating on it. Nevertheless, it may be doable with the right academic leadership (hint hint ya shay5-el-shabab).

May 6th, 2008, 12:16 am

 

Honest Patriot said:

… and of course we could do first Option 1, as a low key, mostly social gathering, and discuss at that time the potential and parameters for Option 2.

May 6th, 2008, 12:19 am

 

Qifa Nabki said:

Majhool,

I suspected as much. But I don’t really know what “Arabism” is these days, given the sorry state of the Arab world.

Islamism is far more coherent.

I personally believe we need a new Arabism… but that won’t happen until we morph into new Arabs.

😉

May 6th, 2008, 12:19 am

 

Enlightened said:

John Mearsheimer: Eviscerates the NYT Review of Benny Morris’s book, 1948

Source: John Mearsheimer, writing at Mondoweiss (blog) (5-4-08)

Make sure you read David Margolick’s review of the new Benny Morris book in the NYT Book Review section today. It is another shocking piece, given how much we now know about 1948.

First, he talks about “the dramatically outnumbered Jews,” how the Arab armies had “numerical superiority” over the Israelis. This is simply not true. The Zionist/Israeli fighting forces outnumbered the Palestinians between December 1947 and May 1948, and they outnumbered the Arab armies from May 1948 to January 1949, when the fighting stopped. Steve [Walt] and I lay out the numbers on p. 82 of the Lobby book.

Second, and related, he says that “on paper and on the ground, the Palestinians had the edge.” This is not a serious argument. The Palestinian fighting forces had been decimated by the British in the 1936-1939 revolt, and they were in no position to put up a fight against the Zionists in 1948. This is why Yigal Yadin, a prominent military commander in 1948, said that if the British had not been present in Palestine until May 1948, “we could have quelled the Arab riot in one month.” And it was essentially a riot, because the Palestinians had little fighting power, thanks to what happened a decade before. An excellent source on this matter is Rashid Khalidi’s book, The Iron Cage.

Third, Margolick says that “transfer — or expulsion or ethnic cleansing — was never an explicit part of the Zionist program.” It just started happening in the course of the war, and the “Jewish leaders, struck by their good fortune,” pushed it along. This is not true; there is an abundance of evidence that contradicts Margolick’s claim. He ought to read Nur Masalha’s Expulsion of the Palestinians and Ilan Pappe’s The Ethnic Cleansing of the Palestinians. Plus, the argument fails the common sense test. Given demographics and where the Jews and Arabs lived, there was no way that the Zionists could create a Jewish state without transfer. Not surprisingly, that point was well understood by the Zionist leadership. Consider what Morris told a Ha’aretz interviewer in 2004: “Of course. Ben-Gurion was a transferist. He understood that there could be no Jewish state with a large and hostile Arab minority in its midst. There would be no such state. It would not be able to exist… Ben-Gurion was right. If he had not done what he did, a state would not have come into being. That has to be clear. It is impossible to evade it. Without the uprooting of the Palestinians, a Jewish state would not have arisen here.” Although Benny Morris tries to argue that the transfer was “born of war,” he provides too much evidence to the contrary in his books and interviews, which is what allowed Norman Finkelstein to undermine Morris’s case in Image and Reality (chapter 3).

Fourth, Margolick effectively repeats the myth that one of the main reasons that the Palestinians fled in 1948 was because Arab leaders broadcast messages to them telling them to leave their homes. He writes: “apocalyptic Arab broadcasts induced further flight and depicted as traitors those who chose to stay behind.” One would have thought that this myth had been put to rest by now. The truth is that most Arab leaders urged the Palestinian population to stay at home, but fear of violent death at the hands of the Zionist forces led most of them to flee. This is not to deny that some Arab commanders did instruct Palestinian civilians to evacuate their homes during the fighting, either to make sure that they did not get caught in a firefight or to ensure that they were not killed by the Zionist forces engaged in ethnically cleansing Palestinians.

Fifth, he clearly implies that the expulsion was the Arab’s own fault. He writes: “The Arabs, it was said, had only themselves to blame for the upheaval: they’d started it. And, Morris notes, the Jews were only emulating the Arabs, who’d always envisioned a virtually Judenrein Palestine.” This is an outrageous argument. The Zionist came to Palestine knowing full well that there were an indigenous people there and that they would have to steal their land. Margolick, to his credit, quotes Ben-Gurion saying that the Zionists stole their land. Of course, the Palestinians resisted the Jews. Who could blame them? Again, Ben-Gurion is worth quoting: “Were I an Arab, I would rebel even more vigorously, bitterly, and desperately against the immigration that will one day turn Palestine and all its Arab residents over to Jewish rule.”

The Palestinians certainly did not start this conflict. They were simply reacting to an attempt by the Zionists to take away their homes and land, which they eventually did. Furthermore, to talk about a “Judenrein Palestine” is a subtle way of implying that the Palestinians were Nazis, which they were not. It is also worth noting that there were Jews living peacefully in the area we call Palestine before the Zionists began moving there from Europe. Moreover, there was little resistance to the first Jews who came to Palestine in the late 1800s and early 1900s. The resistance appeared when the Arab population came to understand the Zionists’ agenda.

Finally, Margolick goes to some lengths to portray Morris as the beacon of reason and light. He writes: “No one is better suited to the task than Benny Morris, the Israeli historian who, in previous works, has cast an original and skeptical eye on his country’s founding myths. Whatever controversy he has stirred in the past, Morris relates the story of his new book soberly and somberly, evenhandedly and exhaustively.” He later says: “Deep inside Morris’s book is an authoritative and fair-minded account of an epochal and volatile event. He has reconstructed that event with scrupulous exactitude. But despite its prodigious research and keen analysis, ‘1948’ can be exasperatingly tedious.”

Of course, he does not say that there are all sorts of experts on 1948 who disagree with Morris. Nor does he mention Morris’s outrageous statements about the Palestinians in his infamous January 9, 2004 interview in Ha’aretz, where he described them as “barbarians” and “serial killers” who are part of a “sick society.” He went on to say that: “Something like a cage has to be built for them. I know that sounds terrible. It is really cruel. But there is no choice. There is a wild animal there that has to be locked up in one way or another.”

One would think any fair-minded reviewer would at least make mention of the fact that Morris has made such comments. But, of course, The New York Times is rarely fair-minded when it comes to Israel.

May 6th, 2008, 12:34 am

 

AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Abraham,
Of course I served in the IDF.

Reality is looking at where you came from and what you achieved. In 48 Israel was on the verge of extinction, 600,000 Jews surrounded by 150 million Arabs. Today there are 6 Million Jews in Israel and Israel is an OECD country and the most advanced in the region by far. What more could I wish for? What have the Palestinians achieved in 60 years? What have the Arabs? And since Israel will keep on improving in every aspect, while the Arabs so far seem content in continuing in their current path, why should I not be optimistic? History is on the side of those who do, not those who complain.

May 6th, 2008, 12:36 am

 

AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Enlightened,
Mearseheimer has some nerve. Benny Morris is the foremost expert in the world about the 48 war. It is academic cowardice to send a note to a blog instead of publishing it himself. I am sure Mearseheimer did not want to be identified as the source of the note. Let’s see him go head to head against Morris. He will be throughly humiliated.

May 6th, 2008, 12:42 am

 

abraham said:

Enlightened,

I am happy to take up the burden. I’m sure the other people foolish enough to engage AIG are taking a much needed break.

I’m only trying to wear him out. If Alex didn’t interfere I could have AIG promising to boycott SC in a couple days 🙂

He says he’s a “technology entrepreneur”, which means he’s paid by the Mossad to spend his time on pro-Arab blogs starting meaningless arguments.

May 6th, 2008, 12:49 am

 
 

abraham said:

AIG spewed the following false statement:

In 48 Israel was on the verge of extinction, 600,000 Jews surrounded by 150 million Arabs.

Oh really, AIG? From where do you get this information? It seems suspect to me.

AIG, does Israel have the world’s tallest building?

May 6th, 2008, 12:56 am

 
 

abraham said:

HA! AIG, Benny Morris might be an expert, but he sure is a self-hating one. He writes one thing but then when he speaks publicly he refutes his own writing when confronted with the conclusions he comes to in his books that aren’t necessarily kind to the Jews.

AIG, did you ever demolish a Palestinian home?

May 6th, 2008, 1:01 am

 

Enlightened said:

AIG:

When you say that Mearsheimer will be thoroughly humiliated , are you speaking from a scholarly academic sense? or is it your opinion?

Let me pre empt you then, are you and your goons now going to go out and systematically launch a campaign to discredit him like that mad settler woman did against Nadia el Hajj?

But that is not the point I am digressing here (LOL) why shouldnt he challenge Morris’s expertise on the 48war, as a academic he is scholarly qualified to address the bias and propaganda that has been perpetrated. Furthermore as more memoirs and declassified papers come out more academics will challenge the Zionist narrative and expose the myths and lies that have been perpetrated, here is one example (myth) The Jews and Zionist were heavily outnumbered by the Arabs and were not as well armed.

Debunking that Myth with the numbers of the forces as he does, exposes that myth, because as you know as a former soldier it is only the stronger forces that are aligned in Battle are the victors. (The Art of War Sun Tzyu)

May 6th, 2008, 1:03 am

 

Majhool said:

QN,

Pan-Arab political parties are in decline. Arabism as a sentiment is not. Pan-Arab parties are not being replaced by Phoenician, Syrian, Aramaic..etc. Ideologies

A successful party today would consider these sentiments as a given and would focus on the economical and social agenda.

May 6th, 2008, 1:04 am

 

Shual said:

“In your opinon does Israel have the right to target Hamas people as they are shooting Qassams or going to shot Qassams? Or should Israel just accept that misslies are shot at it and not respond?”

AIG,
the current strategical conceptions of both are definitly not applying with international laws. A single item like killing Qassam-units [or IDF-soldiers] at work can be rigthful, which does not make the overall strategy rigthfuler. On the other hand, the strategies lack everything: Sense, success, ambition. Not the Israelis and not the Hamas know what they want and this is the greatest problem.

May 6th, 2008, 1:08 am

 

Qifa Nabki said:

There’s a nice interview with Carlos Eddé, leader of the Lebanese National Bloc.

http://www.nowlebanon.com/NewsArticleDetails.aspx?ID=40880

I’ve posted some of the good bits below:

Eddé Defined by integrity, driven by belief

National Bloc president Carlos Eddé likes to tell a story about meeting a Shia family in Jbeil during his abortive 2005 parliamentary campaign. “The head of the household introduces me,” recalls Eddé, sitting in one of the deco-drenched drawing rooms of his Beirut house in Sannayeh. “‘This is my brother, my cousin, my neighbor, my brother, my cousin,’” and he went on introducing many, many brothers and cousins. Then this kid runs up to us, and the man tells me that he is also his brother. I turn to him and say, ‘also?’”

“He sees my surprise and he says with a little smile ‘yes aamid. You know we Shia make lots of babies.’ I slap him on the back and say ‘no problem, but if I knew you were going to vote for someone else, I would have brought you a big box of condoms.’ There was silence and I thought, oh dear I should have kept my mouth shut. Then they all laughed, and they couldn’t stop laughing, and during the half hour I stayed there, a few of them would crack up from time to time. Ok, maybe they didn’t all vote for me, but at least they were very nice people with a tremendous sense of humour, and we all had a good laugh.”

The National Bloc was one of the few parties to present a clear and detailed economic plan in the 2005 elections. He says he is shocked by the lack of knowledge politicians give to economic questions. “It should occupy the most of their time like in other countries…employment, the deficit, taxation…all these are core? In Lebanon, politics controls the economy when it should be the other way around.”

However, the cause closest to his heart is that of electoral reform. He believes so passionately in the democratic choices, accountability and enough regulation – legislated control of the media and electoral finances – to give all candidates a fair crack of the whip, that a MP should represent the people, not his zaïm and that the electoral law should benefit the voter and not the candidate.

“By returning this sovereign power to the people, surprising attitudes develop, such as maturity, responsibility, awareness and accountability,” says Eddé, who cites the 1992 impeachment of Brazilian President Fernando Collor de Mello as the supreme example of democracy in action.

“The multiple vote list, the kind that has been in existence in Lebanon since the inception of the republic, is the worst electoral system in the world. The individual candidate is much less important than the formation of the list and who is with whom. It’s like a Mexican soap. Is Conchita with Pancho, or will she leave him for Fernando who may run off with Dolores!”

He pauses for breath. “What we propose is dividing Lebanon into 128 districts; one man, one vote, with an electorate of around 20-30,000 in each district and the top two going forward into a run-off. Let every small area decide who they want. Is it realistic? Very. It is the simplest, the most transparent, and the easiest to understand electoral system. It is used by most countries in the world among which are found the oldest democracies.”

His point is that a single-seat constituency would force candidates to directly address their constituents, present their programs and explain their political positions, unlike the list system, in which candidates do little other than defend their allies. Once elected, the MP would have to maintain higher levels of contact with what would now be a reduced constituency. “He will have no legitimate excuses for not exercising his legislative functions,” explains Eddé.

To get to the electoral Promised Land is surely easier said than done. Lebanon’s seemingly proud tradition of consensual government and the reality of the cabinet veto means that today no one bloc can guarantee to make good on election promises.

Aoun wasn’t the only sticking point for Eddé and the National Bloc that summer. “The quadripartite pact was in my view the biggest mistake some of our allies in March 14 made. Old electoral habits were kicking in. We were defending an idea of an independent and sovereign Lebanon, and at the same time Mustaqbal and the PSP were cutting deals. So I had to make a decision. Should I jump ship? Of course not. One does not desert the cause, and in the end, a seat in parliament was not that important. I could have dropped out of the race when it was obvious that I would be loosing. Again, I believe that it doesn’t matter whether you win or loose, it is how you play the game that really matters at the end of the day. So I stayed, knowing I would lose because I wanted to stay true to the cause that I defend, regardless of the wrongdoing of my allies. Actually, it cost me more than a seat. A good part of the constituency of the National Bloc did not understand my position, but it was the only position that was compatible with my beliefs.”

May 6th, 2008, 1:09 am

 

AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Abraham,
I prefer to build countries and then let other losers complain about it.

By the way did you kill your sister because she had pre-marital sex? Do you regularly beat your wife? Did you circumcise your daughters?

Same questions to you Enlightened. Just curious.

May 6th, 2008, 1:09 am

 

trustquest said:

Majhool, Ziad: your comment would appreciated on my earlier comment, http://joshualandis.com/blog/?p=699#comment-140481
The answer I have in my head is troublesome, if it matched yours.

May 6th, 2008, 1:15 am

 

AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Enlightened,
Mearseheimer is not a historian so he is speaking outside his field of expertise and will be badly humilated if he indeed wrote what that blog claims he wrote.

As for history, have you ever wondered why only Israelis wrote definitive histories of the 48 war? It is because Israel kept archives and opened them to historians. In dictatorships there are of course no open archives and records are not usually kept by law. If it weren’t for the Israelis the Arabs would have had no idea what happened in 48. But as ususal you make the ridiculous claim that we will know more.

Now tell me, which ARAB archive has not been researched yet? Is there one? Or is your confidence based on Israeli archives? Some people have no shame.

May 6th, 2008, 1:19 am

 

Qifa Nabki said:

Abraham and AIG

For the love of God, just knock it off.

Abraham, as Enlightened told you, many people (myself included) have spent a great deal of time debating with AIG on this blog. I think that’s fine — even if some people object — as long as there is a real debate taking place (arguments being made and challenged, evidence being introduced, etc.)

At this point, you’ve both dropped the debate completely and are just insulting each other. At some point, maybe one of you will be driven away (not likely), but not before everybody else is as well!

In the words of Naji, why don’t we all just take a “chill pill”.

May 6th, 2008, 1:20 am

 

Enlightened said:

AIG ( Another Israeli Goon)

“By the way did you kill your sister because she had pre-marital sex? Do you regularly beat your wife? Did you circumcise your daughters?

Same questions to you Enlightened. Just curious.

Its amazing that your stupid curiosity gets in the way I was having a sensible discussion with you and you ask me these generalized despicable stupid inane questions!

To answer your questions
Question 1. No ( decency prohibits me from asking them about their sexual practices)
Question 2. No ( My wife beats me, I am not ashamed to say it )
Question 3. NO ( I dont have any daughters)

Now go back and answer my original question and don’t try to side track the issue!

May 6th, 2008, 1:21 am

 

AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Enlightened,
So you beat your wife irregularly? You just beat your sister for having pre-marital sex but didn’t murder her? Did you help your brothers circumsize their daughters?

Look, two can play this game. What you and Abraham are doing is in bad taste. I was having a nice discusstion with Nour, Majhool and others and Abraham butted in. Read above, Abraham started with the personal attacks and you are encouraging him.

Whatever tone you set I will follow.

May 6th, 2008, 1:25 am

 

Akbar Palace said:

I prefer to build countries and then let other losers complain about it.

AIG –

You and your people have done a pretty good job.

BTW, when you get a chance, send me a note at palace.akbar@gmail.com.

May 6th, 2008, 1:27 am

 

AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

QN,
Sometimes I am guilty as charged but the evidence on this thread is conclusive that I was doing my best to have a decent debate and it all went downhill when Abraham changed the subject to Israel and started attacking me personally.

May 6th, 2008, 1:28 am

 

abraham said:

Look, these are serious questions. If AIG served in the IDF (how come terrorist organizations almost always use three letter acronyms?) then chances are he did some horrible things to the Palestinians. I want to know what he’s guilty of.

What is it AIG? Did you use an 11 year old girl as a human shield?

May 6th, 2008, 1:28 am

 

Enlightened said:

Another Israeli GOON:

It Looks like you will be banned for another week!

May 6th, 2008, 1:30 am

 

abraham said:

AIG, how did I “butt in”? You are like a pre-pubescent child.

I have every right to visit this blog and respond to a comment, which is exactly what I did. As you can clearly read in the rules, there is no prohibition against anyone joining a conversation.

If you don’t feel comfortable being confronted with questions that make you uncomfortable then you are every bit as welcome to leave as I am to contribute to the conversation.

All my questions are serious inquiries. You can attempt to smear me by calling them “insults” but fortunately most people who read this blog have more sense than you give them credit for.

May 6th, 2008, 1:32 am

 

AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Abraham,
I am asking serious questions also. Since most Imams permit wife beating there is a good chance that you and Enlightened beat your wives no?

Guilt by association is a despicable way of argumentation. You and enlightened start using it and then you call me names? It just shows that you have run out of arguements.

May 6th, 2008, 1:35 am

 

AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Abraham,
You can post whatever you want.
Serious inquiries? Your questions are personal attacks, but let’s let Alex and the readers decide.

May 6th, 2008, 1:38 am

 

Alex said:

trustquest said:

I wonder why the Syrian government doesn’t buy SyriaTel, since this company is profitable and they can take the $6.7 billions a year,(currently going to one man), this way they can pay salaries, compensate for the drying oil fields and save themselves from falling badly in front of population who started to get fit up from this social team who end up eating the country and can not stop the ½ GDP from corruption.
Are such ideas floating there, or is it a red line?

I’ll answer your question since no one else did so far.

1) I would like to point out a small detail … yearly profits are $150 million, not $6.7 billions … the 6.7 billions in the story you read was in Syrian pounds.

2) if as a privately owned company it made $150 million out of a $850 million revenue … I assure you that once it becomes a government owned company, you can forget about that $150 million profit … governments are not known for running companies as efficiently as their private owners can.

3) starting next year there will be a license granted for a third cell company to operate in Syria … things will get very competitive and profit margins will most likely drop for all three companies … again, more reason to believe there will be no $150 million profit, especially when combined with number 2 above

The Turkish investors will try to use their large size and resources and experience in making the company even more cost efficient which they hope will help offset the expected decline in profit margins.

May 6th, 2008, 1:38 am

 

Enlightened said:

Abraham:

The Dog is now chasing his tail!

May 6th, 2008, 1:40 am

 

AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Enlightened,
Care to answer the question I asked you about historical archives?

May 6th, 2008, 1:43 am

 

Alex said:

I just had the chance to check for the first time in the past 9 hours. It will take me an hour to read everything (I’m slow) but it looks like I will delete about 20 comments at least : )

May 6th, 2008, 1:44 am

 

abraham said:

AIG, your statements about wife beating and female circumcision and whatnot only serve to demonstrate your cultural ignorance. These things are not condoned or promulgated by the Quran or Islam.

Men who beat their wives are usually lacking in character. These sort of men exist across all cultures, regardless of religion. Or are you saying Israel does not have Jewish men who beat their wives?

Female circumcision is practiced by certain backwards African tribes who also happen to be Muslim. Shall we assume all Jews want Israel destroyed because the Neturei Karta sect does?

Lastly, I would make the point that the IDF is known for brutalizing the Palestinians while on duty, doing all the things that I asked about and even helpfully provided links to actual stories of such abuse. So your attempt at mocking my valid questions with your cuturally incorrect analogies is merely you avoiding having to answer.

We’re not in polite company here so I’m not going to pull any punches. I want to know if when you were in the IDF you abused any Palestinians. I know it will take courage to answer this question.

May 6th, 2008, 1:47 am

 

AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Why does Enlighened always run away when asked substantial questions?

May 6th, 2008, 1:48 am

 

Enlightened said:

Alex:

Please check them carefully!

AIG ( Another Israeli Goon)

do you beat your wife? you havent told us yet? ( asking if I kill my sisters and circumcize my daughters etc are not substantive questions in anyones vocabulary)

anyway do you eat matzvah prepared with Christian Blood?( as you said two can play at this game)

May 6th, 2008, 1:50 am

 

Qifa Nabki said:

At least someone is having fun:

May 6th, 2008, 1:50 am

 

AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Abraham,
I of course did not abuse any Palestinians and would never let any soldiers under my command do it.

Shall we assume that because some soldiers in the IDF acted badly all acted badly? Do you never take your own advice? Do you think I do not know what you wrote? Are you so blind as to not see the similarity? Only in your mind the IDF is known for brutalizing Palestinians. It happens but it is rare and dealt with harshly.

May 6th, 2008, 1:51 am

 

AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Enlightened,
Let me repost this to make it easier for you:

As for history, have you ever wondered why only Israelis wrote definitive histories of the 48 war? It is because Israel kept archives and opened them to historians. In dictatorships there are of course no open archives and records are not usually kept by law. If it weren’t for the Israelis the Arabs would have had no idea what happened in 48. But as ususal you make the ridiculous claim that we will know more.

Now tell me, which ARAB archive has not been researched yet? Is there one? Or is your confidence based on Israeli archives? Some people have no shame.

May 6th, 2008, 1:58 am

 

norman said:

Hi Alex ,

I have a question about Syria tell,
Does it have any business outside Syria , can the Syrian government help Syria-tell have a chance on business in other Arab countries like Iraq , as with all these Iraqis in Syria it would be helpful for them to have the same cell phone company in Iraq to have an ( IN ) rate for calls without roaming charges.

May 6th, 2008, 1:59 am

 

trustquest said:

Thanks Alex for the correction, still it is a big money can come from communication sector, which I thought is profitable for the State. I think these types of ideas, State ownership, still have a strong presence in the social thinking in Syria especially when it comes to national security sectors. I never thought will see Syrian’s government give away strategic sector, important and profitable to other than the Sate. I thought if they make a gradual change they would start with those small industrial loosing public sectors. This discrepancy is a fueling fire in Baath party members and could easily backfire, especially when sold to foreign investors.

May 6th, 2008, 2:01 am

 

Enlightened said:

AIG said:

“Now tell me, which ARAB archive has not been researched yet? Is there one? Or is your confidence based on Israeli archives? Some people have no shame.”

No archives are available as I am aware, but the point is even the Narrative from the Israeli archives are bubkus read this about your hero Morris and the quote at the bottom!

The War for Palestine
Rewriting the History of 1948

Edited by Eugene L. Rogan and Avi Shlaim. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2001. pp. 234. $54.95.

Reviewed by Efraim Karsh
King’s College, London

Middle East Quarterly
Winter 2002
Print Send RSS

“Rewriting the history of 1948” is rather misleading, for the essays in question do not so much rewrite history but rather endorse the standard Arab narrative – the one in which Palestinians and other Arabs are on the receiving end of predatory Zionist aggression. Israeli academics and journalists who call themselves the “New Historians” have been pushing this theme since the late 1980s and The War for Palestine adds little new or original to these efforts except that they have invited some sympathetic Arabists and Arab academics, including Edward Said and Rashid Khalidi, to join in their efforts. The contributors whitewash the violent Palestinian attempt to abort the United Nations resolution of November 1947. They downplay the pan-Arab invasion of the newly-established state of Israel in May 1948 (euphemized as the “entry of Palestine” by Arab armies).

There seems to be a general consensus among the book’s contributors (and also the publisher) that the Arab narrative needs no serious rethinking. Khalidi speaks for them when he justifies the absence of Palestinian “new historians” to shatter the “myths” on the Arab side: “It is not a myth … that as a result of [Israeli aggression] the Palestinian people were victims, regardless of what they might have done differently in this situation of formidable difficulty, and of the sins of omission or commission of their leaders.”

Most of the contributors are oblivious to the Palestinian version having little to do with reality, as best that can be reconstructed through contemporary accounts and reaffirmed by the millions of records in Israeli and Western archives. While the declassification of those documents constitutes the alleged raison d’être of the entire genre of Israeli “new history,” little of this large body of evidence is tapped by the volume’s contributors. Khalidi and Said make no use whatsoever of archival source material and instead engage in sweeping and misconceived assertions about the origin and scope of the Palestinian exodus; others, such as Rogan and Fawaz Gerges, quote the odd document in support of their case.

Avi Shlaim claims to have “overturned the myth of the Arab Goliath” during the 1948 War but there is nothing here from the archives of the Israeli Defense Forces or its pre-state precursor, the Haganah. Benny Morris makes the IDF and Haganah foremost culprits of the Palestinian exodus but has not consulted the archives of these two military organizations.1

1 There is more than meets the eye here. In The War for Palestine, Morris concedes that “when writing The Birth of the Palestinian Refugee Problem 1947-1949 in the mid-1980s, I had no access to the materials in the IDFA [IDF Archive] or the Haganah Archive and precious little to first-hand military materials deposited elsewhere. Nonetheless, the new materials I have seen over the past few years tend to confirm and reinforce the major lines of description and analysis, and the conclusions, in The Birth and in a subsequent volume, 1948 and After, published in 1990.” Morris inadvertently reveals the falsehood of “new historian” scholarly pretensions. This group insists on tracing its origin, indeed its raison d’être, to the opening of Israeli state archives in the late 1980s but now its foremost member admits to having written the single most influential “revisionist” work without the use of the most important archives.

To make matters worse, Morris also admits that “some of the material relating to the [Palestinian exodus] may have been open to researchers in the early and mid-1980s, when The Birth was written, but I was not then aware of its existence.” In other words, Morris made no use of the Israeli archives due to his own ignorance.

HUH? ( There is your own Benny admitting that his work was bubkus and has more holes in it than a bagel! )

May 6th, 2008, 2:03 am

 

abraham said:

It happens but it is rare and dealt with harshly.

That’s a load of horse manure and you know it. Israeli soldiers rarely ever get disciplined for killing Palestinians. When they do, the punishment is usually like a week’s detention. If they ever do go to court martial, the solider is found innocent.

This is well documented at B’Tselem and other Israeli human rights organizations, not to mention Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, etc. Most of these organizations have also been victims of Israeli military terror.

Also, it’s real rich for you to be hounding Enlightened to answer your inconsequential question but you won’t answer the most important one I asked you.

May 6th, 2008, 2:05 am

 

Enlightened said:

Abraham read what Benny says ( about his own work on the archives pasted above)

May 6th, 2008, 2:08 am

 

abraham said:

Enlightened, that reviewer is a typical zionist idiot. Benny Morris apparently let all the criticism he was getting from Israeli colleagues cow him and so whenever he is interviewed contemporaneously, he’ll still hold to the conclusions he wrote in the book but then he will qualify it with something totally pro-Israel or zionist to appease his critics.

May 6th, 2008, 2:14 am

 

Majhool said:

trustquest

The answer to your question is simple “SyriaTel” has become a laiablity and they want to get rid of it. They want to cash out.

May 6th, 2008, 2:23 am

 

Enlightened said:

Abraham: My point is that the narrative from him and others is deeply flawed. And as the archives come out people like AIG are going to challenge the myth of the ethnic cleansing, the violence , the overwhelming Arab forces etc, because the myths they have built up will be challenged.

Simply look at what Ben gurion said in the original post way further up.

But as AIG said Benny Morris is the foremost “expert” on the 48 war, and he is quoted as saying he wasnt aware of the “archives”, its just another AIG propganda and for the cohorts he works for.

Ps AIG is more than one person he is here 24/7, he is getting the Goon squad to ask us more filthy questions like are we going to circumsize our women? Filth is Filth whether its the untrue that is propogated or the disgusting banter that he spews forth.

Lets not waste any more time on him!

May 6th, 2008, 2:23 am

 

Nour said:

Ziad,

You’re wrong. There are certainly some so-called SSNPers who have become tools in the hands of the Syrian regime. They became such tools both in Lebanon and in Syria. But the ideological SSNPers, whose president is Antoine Abi Haidar and whose representative in Syria is Dr. Ali Haidar, have never collaborated with the regime and have refused to do the bidding of the Syrian government. In fact, they have refused to join the so-called Progressive Front and are not legally licensed, although they operate openly nonetheless. If you read speeches and positions of Dr. Ali Haidar, it would be quite obvious to you that there is no relationship between the SSNP and the Syrian regime. As for those who have indeed become informants and tools of the regime, they deviated from the SSNP long ago and do not in any way represent Saadeh’s thought. They are merely using the name of the Party to advance their own personal ambitions.

May 6th, 2008, 2:37 am

 

Alex said:

Trustquest,

If you ask our senior economist Mr. Ehsani : ) … he wants the Syrian government to sell what it owns, not to buy new businesses.
But I will partially agree with your suggestion if the Syrian government for example decided to buy a 25% interest in that company while letting others (majority owners) run it.

Norman,

Iraq is very unstable now … and if Syria invests a billion or two in some Iraqi company, then don’t be surprised that our friends, the neocons, can arrange for some local friends of theirs to make sure that company can not do business in Iraq …

The risk is too high.

Nour,

In few years, the SSNP will be the first party authorized to run in any semi-democratic elections for parliament. Religious parties and ethnic parties will not be allowed to run.

May 6th, 2008, 2:58 am

 

Enlightened said:

Alex:

Does this have any basis? or is it propoganda ? Any clarification?

U.S. Senate ‘draft bill’ to punish and liberate Syria
Published: Monday, 5 May, 2008 @ 5:37 PM in Beirut (GMT+2)

Washington- The U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee has reportedly discussed a draft bill presented by Republican senator John Cornyn that called for “punishing Syria and liberating it.”

Lebanon’s Al Mustaqbal daily , which carried the report, said the draft bill aims at increasing sanctions against Damascus and preventing it from carrying out its “intimidation policy.”

The draft bill, according to the paper, also calls for a democratic transformation of the Syrian government.

Al Mustaqbal said the draft has been referred to the House Financial Services Committee.

The document sees that the U.S. national security and global peace are threatened as a result of Syria’s continuous support of terrorism, including activities in Iraq and development of long-range missiles and weapons of mass destruction.

The bill set tough conditions for lifting sanctions against Syria.

Damascus Declaration.jpgIt said sanctions would be lifted only after:

– A democratic government that would “stop practicing and backing terrorism” is formed.
– Damascus stops supporting Palestinian terrorist groups for five years.
– Dismantling of chemical, biological and nuclear weapons program.
– Undertaking visible measures to combat the spread of such weapons.
– Respecting borders and sovereignty of neighboring countries ( In reference to Lebanon).
– supporting human rights and respecting freedom of its people.

May 6th, 2008, 3:05 am

 

norman said:

Enlighted one ,

I hope Cornyn is not holding his breath , there is more chance for the US putting a man on Mars than Syria complying with what he wants.

May 6th, 2008, 3:12 am

 

Enlightened said:

Norman ( your earlier prediction to QN was spot on, I noticed)

I know that the analogy you used is quite apt, but is there any truth to to this ? Can this be verified as what is being planned by Cornyn as fact?

I was curious to know whether those of you residing in the States have heard anything?

May 6th, 2008, 3:18 am

 

norman said:

Alex,

The Syrian government does not have to be an owner in Syria tell, it can do that without putting a penny in , It is called taxes , it can get 15 to 25 % of profit in the shape of taxes with no responsibility of a defunct company.

Alex , The government can even change it’s share by changing the tax rate , what a deal don’t you think?.

May 6th, 2008, 3:24 am

 

Nour said:

Alex,

I agree with you about the SSNP. And I would also predict that it would receive a lot of votes, as I know for a fact that the SSNP enjoys widespread popular support within Syria.

May 6th, 2008, 3:26 am

 

norman said:

Enlighted one,

These things pass in the US without a fan fair , President Bush has usually been reluctant to implement these laws against Syria , he does few things to show off mostly without significant effect , I guess he does not want to cut ( Muaayia hair ) with Syria.

May 6th, 2008, 3:29 am

 

Alex said:

Enlightend,

I do not know if it is true, but I would not be surprised. The Neocon chorus is singing loud these days.

M14 government met for 12 hours and they came out announcing some seriously confrontational positions regarding Hizbollah’s “communication network” .. that network has been there since the early 90’s by the way.

Why now?

Waleed Junblatt said, indirectly, at the end of his press conference that he would not mind overthrowing the regime in Syria (through assassinating Bashar) …

The Saudi press went crazy again … the stupid stories about Bashar and Maher killing Mughnieh and trying to accuse Asef Shawkat … these stories are on the covers again

Here is a new one:
http://alshiraa.com/alshiraa/Pictures/Shiraa1328.jpg

And from Washington … lots of smart new ideas like the one you listed now …

I wish they realize that they are quite far from hurting the Syrian regime … Syria will not change a thing in response to those new threats … but I hope those working at the US embassy in Damascus are accurately reporting to Washington how most of the Syrian people now feel about the United States … No one will buy American products in Syria for the next 10 years.

Depending how far they will try to go in punishing Syria .. they will create another Nasser out of Bashar and/or Nasrallah… and if the “Arab moderates” continue to play their roles in Neocon plans … it will quite likely be the end for one of more of those regimes.

And … the Middle East will be in a very bad shape for years …

May 6th, 2008, 3:37 am

 

Shai said:

Majhool,

Yes, I agree with you. But I do believe Syria can assist in stabilizing Iraq by taking some role, together with Iran and the U.S. As for Lebanon, I must admit I am nowhere near as familiar with the internal intricacies as I should be, but clearly this state-within-a-state (HA) that Syria helped create, must be given a role in Lebanon. And, since it is still very much involved with Syria, I believe the one party that can “restrain it”, or at least its military aspirations and capabilities, is Syria (even more so than Iran). So yes, Syria should not be involved directly in the political ongoing in Lebanon, but indirectly, it could and should participate in calming things down.

The Syria-Israel track, as slow or fast as it may be, should not interfere in the internal developments of either nation. Freedom and democracy should not be effected negatively by a peace process, but rather the opposite.

May 6th, 2008, 4:23 am

 

Shual said:

“hurting the Syrian regime”

Btw., some security experts of german top-party CDU want to publish tomorrow a reform-paper that will include the upgrade for Syria from “bad enough” to “nuclear threat”. [This could have some importance for running aid-programs.]

The second time after the “detonator”-affaire [Syrian detonators used in planned terror-attacks on german soil] they try to create such a thing. in September 07 that they show that Bush can go but his policies will stay.

May 6th, 2008, 4:27 am

 

AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

QN,
The Lebanese government came out with a very strong statement against HA and Iran a few hours ago. What do you make of this?

May 6th, 2008, 4:42 am

 

abraham said:

Enlightened said:

My point is that the narrative from him and others is deeply flawed.

Well, that’s a given. This is Benny Morris, a zionist, we are talking about. One can never expect a zionist to undermine the zionist cause, lest they cease being zionist.

Nadia Abu El-Haj, Ilan Pappe’ and Norman Finkelstein are the scholars that people are paying attention to these days. And the truth cannot be so easily denied in the internet age.

May 6th, 2008, 5:01 am

 

Enlightened said:

Abraham said:

“Nadia Abu El-Haj, Ilan Pappe’ and Norman Finkelstein are the scholars that people are paying attention to these days. And the truth cannot be so easily denied in the internet age.”

Abraham according to our Mossad plant (Another Israeli Goon) Nadia El Hajjs work is “crap”, he used this quote on SC.

But you see, these “goons” who use filthy ideaology they consider “pure” will use what ever gutter tactics available to them to slander and hide the truth..

AIG :

No thanks Il stay here cant bear the thought of you wanting to kill more children , and demolish houses, and steal…… It makes you feel like a man, to go with your filthy language then you go for it

Go for it! its all yours! ( it be hard doing it from New Jersey but?)

May 6th, 2008, 5:12 am

 

Majhool said:

Shai,

The lengthy peace process in the 90s resulted in two things

1) A Syrian role in Lebanon, which was very negative for Lebanon statehood
2) Unparalleled stagnation and repression in Syria

A Syrian role in Iraq! You must be kidding; this will provide the geographical bridge from Iran all the way to south Lebanon.

If the Syrians and the Israelis are serious about peace then a deal could be struck in few months. I would support it.

In the meantime, no roles thank you. We need peace in Palestine and a strong Lebanese state.

May 6th, 2008, 5:14 am

 

Shai said:

Majhool,

I understand your concerns about the Iranian bridge into our region. I am as fearful of it as you are. But Syria does have influence over certain “groups” within Iraq, does it not? It also must be involved in some fashion, because it currently hosts a few million(!) Iraqi refugees within its territory. Can it not help calm the winds down in Iraq, and help avoid or end civil war? The minute the U.S. pulls its troops out of Iraq (which will happen in a few years most likely), Iraq will be torn to pieces. It will split into a thousand parts, and endless bloodshed and violence will rip the country apart. Can’t Syria play a role in helping broker between the parties, or between the U.S. and Iran? If it can, shouldn’t it? It is also in her best interest, as Iraq happens to be on her border, and whatever comes out of Iraq, will also influence Syria.

Clearly, I agree the Lebanese and Palestinian issues are of (our) greatest concern. But I’m also quite wary about Iraq. If the U.S. and Syria have zero influence over its future, it may well become West Iran (like East Pakistan). And then, Iran will not be bridged over to our region, they’ll be IN our region.

May 6th, 2008, 5:42 am

 

Alex said:

Enlightend, Abraham, AIG

Good night, good day, good afternoon : )

May 6th, 2008, 5:55 am

 

Enlightened said:

Good night Alex!

What happened to the rules for the Goons? (lol)

May 6th, 2008, 6:05 am

 

Alex said:

I deleted the last few comments if you have noticed : )

May 6th, 2008, 6:23 am

 

Naji said:

On the SAME DAY as the Iraqi FM accusations and escalation…!! Anybody knows what Saudi and Egypt did yesterday to comply with The Order Of The Day…??!

الحكومة تدفع نحو الانفجار
http://www.al-akhbar.com/ar/node/72662
مجلس الوزراء يقيل شقير ويعتبر شبكة اتّصالات المقاومة اعتداءً… ويرفع الحدّ الأدنى إلى 500 ألف ليرة

تدخل البلاد مع ساعات صباح اليوم الثلاثاء مرحلة بالغة الخطورة في ضوء القرارات التي اتخذتها حكومة الرئيس فؤاد السنيورة فجر اليوم، والتي تبنّت للمرّة الأولى في تاريخ حكومات ما بعد اتفاق الطائف موقفاًَ غريباً لناحية اعتبار إجراءات المقاومة الأمنية بمثابة اعتداء على أمن الدولة، رافعة سقف المواجهة السياسية الداخلية بقرار إقالة قائد جهاز أمن المطار العميد وفيق شقير من منصبه، ما سيدفع قوى المعارضة ولا سيما حركة أمل وحزب الله الى خطوات مقابلة تضع البلاد أمام وضع عصيب. وقد لا يكون من المبالغة «قراءة» مقدّمات لفوضى تعمّ البلاد.
وبعد جلسة هي الأطول في تاريخ مجالس الوزراء استمرّت حتى الرابعة والنصف من فجر اليوم، أعلن وزير الإعلام غازي العريضي مجموعة قرارات تراوحت بين تصعيد سياسي هو الأخطر من نوعه بوجه قوى المعارضة انطلاقاً من العنوان الأمني المتصل بإجراءات المقاومة، وبين قرارات تتصل بالوضع المعيشي، تبدأ برفع الحد الأدنى للأجور الى 500 ألف ليرة لبنانية، ورفع الرسوم الجمركية عن مواد استهلاكية وتفريغ عدد من الأساتذة المتعاقدين في الجامعة اللبنانية وتقديمات تخص قطاع التعليم.
ورغم أن قرارات الحكومة لن تعدل في قرار الاتحاد العمالي العام تنظيم إضراب شامل غداً، إلا أن القرارات الأمنية ـــــ السياسية قد تحول الإضراب الى يوم احتجاجي من النوع الذي يقود الى تطورات تتجاوز ما هو مقدر، وخصوصاً أن نهار امس شهد تبادل رسائل بين قيادات من المعارضة ومرجعيات روحية وبين قوى الأكثرية والرئيس السنيورة، وتضمّنت تحذيراً من أي قرارات «متهوّرة» بشأن شبكة الاتصالات الخاصة بالمقاومة أو بوضعية جهاز أمن المطار.
ورغم أن السنيورة كان قد عبّر نهاراً عن رغبته في تجاوز هذا اللغم، إلا أن النقاش الطويل الذي شهدته جلسة الحكومة عكس توجهاً وافق عليه السنيورة ويقول بفتح مواجهة شاملة مع المقاومة. وتردد أن النائب وليد جنبلاط كان قد هدّد بالانسحاب من الحكومة إذا هي لم تبادر الى إقالة العميد شقير واتخاذ إجراءات عملية ضد شبكة الاتصالات الخاصة بالمقاومة، علماً بأن السؤال بات أقوى لناحية الغطاء الخارجي لقرارات من هذا النوع، والمسار الذي تريد الأكثرية المضي به، وخصوصاً أن الولايات المتحدة الاميركية كانت قد بشّرت اللبنانيين بصيف حار على لسان مساعد وزيرة خارجيتها ديفيد ولش قبل أسبوعين.
وكان نائب رئيس المجلس الاسلامي الشيعي الاعلى الشيخ عبد الامير قبلان قد بعث أمس برسائل باسم الرئيس نبيه بري وقيادة حزب الله الى الرئيس السنيورة حملت مضموناً يعكس وجهة نظر تقول بأن إقالة شقير ستعد خرقاً غير مسبوق، يدفع البلاد الى انفجار كبير. وقد تلمّس السنيورة أن «الموقف يمثل هذه المرة احتجاجاً شيعياً من النوع الذي يتطلب ردة فعل عنيفة تواجه فريق السلطة». وقالت مصادر متابعة إن القيادات الشيعية تتصرف كما لو أن إقالة العميد شقير «تعني أنه لن تكون هناك أي حصانة سياسية على أي موظف شيعي لا يلتزم خيارات الاكثرية السياسية، وهو أمر يمس مباشرة هيبة وحضور كل من حزب الله وحركة أمل».
وما يزيد من قرارات مجلس الوزراء غرابةً هو أنّ السنيورة كان قد أعرب لمتصلين به قبل الجلسة «عن رغبته في لملمة الملف مقترحاً إحالته الى القضاء»، علماً بأن الجهات القضائية المعنية أعربت عن استغرابها لمحاولة حشرها في ملف فارغ إلا من بعض الشهادات التي كان يمكن تركها للأجهزة الأمنية، كذلك شعور القضاء بأنه قد يكون أمام ملف متصل يتعلق بالتسريبات التي جرت لمراسلات تتخذ طابع السرية عادة.
أما بشأن ملف شبكة الاتصالات، فقد بدا واضحاً أن موقف حزب الله لا يشبه مواقفه من ملفات مشابهة في أوقات سابقة، وهو إضافة الى إقراره العلني بوجود شبكة اتصالات خاصة بعمل المقاومة عاد وأكد ليل امس على لسان نائب الأمين العام للحزب الشيخ نعيم قاسم أن الشبكة هي جزء من سلاح المقاومة وأنه لا يمكن لأي جهة التعرض لها.
وذكرت مصادر مواكبة للاتصالات أن حزب الله أبلغ المعنيين بأن أي محاولة للتعرّض لهذه الشبكة سوف تواجه بمقاومة شرسة من الحزب الذي «سيتعامل مع المتعرضين للشبكة على أنهم من عملاء إسرائيل».
إلا أن الصورة السوداء التي تسود البلاد عكستها مداخلة للرئيس بري أمام قيادات في حركة أمل امس، أعرب فيها «عن تشاؤمه من الوضع الحالي حيث بات لبنان مفتوحاً على كل الاحتمالات ومن ضمنها التدويل». وتحدث بري عن دور لجهات أفشلت «مبادرة كانت تلوح في الأفق»، أثناء عرضه لموقف جنبلاط. ورفض بري الإفصاح عن هوية المعطلين، لكن مقربين منه أشاروا الى «موقف مؤسف لدولة عربية كبرى لها نفوذها على قوى الأكثرية الى جانب الولايات المتحدة».
الإضراب
في هذا الوقت، حاولت حكومة السنيورة احتواء الموقف من خلال تحركات واتصالات سياسية مع قوى وهيئات نقابية بقصد عدم شمول الإضراب كل القطاعات. وكانت قد أخّرت الى ما بعد منتصف الليل قرارها بشأن زيادة الأجور في القطاع الخاص بغية عدم استيلاد ردود فور ساخنة، ذلك أنّ زيادة الرواتب التي أعلن الوزير غازي العريضي عنها بعد الاجتماع الحكومي في السرايا لا تلبّي طموحات الاتحاد العمالي العام.
وتوقعت أوساط متابعة أن يشمل التحرك العمالي الاحتجاجي غداً كل المناطق اللبنانيّة بدون استثناء، في صورة تذكّر بالتحرّك الذي حصل في 23 كانون الثاني 2007.

عدد الثلاثاء ٦ أيار ٢٠٠٨

May 6th, 2008, 9:28 am

 

Naji said:

…And on Gibran’s 125th B-day…!!!!!!??

الحكومة اللبنانيّة تشكو المقاومة في الأمم المتحدة
نيويورك ـ نزار عبود
http://www.al-akhbar.com/ar/node/72651
أبلغت الحكومة اللبنانية دوائر الأمم المتحدة بأنها تعدّ تقريراً عن شبكة اتصالات المقاومة وعن الوضع في مطار بيروت الدولي، لعرضه على مجلس الأمن قبيل انعقاد جلسته المتعلقة بتقرير الأمين العام بشأن القرار 1559 في 8 أيار الحالي. ومن المتوقع أن يتضمن التقرير معلومات تفصيلية عن كل ما توصلت إليه الاستخبارات اللبنانية عن شبكة الاتصالات، وكذلك معلومات تؤكدأن مطار رفيق الحريري ليس آمناً. وبناءً على ذلك، ستوصي بوضع رقابة دولية عليه.
وأكد فرحان الحق ذلك لـ«الأخبار»، أمس، وهو المتحدث الرسمي باسم الأمين العام للأمم المتحدة بان كي مون. وأضاف: «تلقّينا إشعاراً من الحكومة اللبنانية بأنها سترسل تقريراً عن شبكة الاتصالات التي سمعنا عنها، وعن الوضع في مطار بيروت الدولي، ونحن ننتظر ذلك».
ونفى أن تكون الأمم المتحدة قد طلبت التقرير. كما رفض تحديد كيفية اتصال الحكومة اللبنانية بالمنظمة الدولية، شفهياً أو خطياً.
لكن «الأخبار» علمت من مصادر مطّلعة أن مندوب لبنان الدائم لدى الأمم المتحدة، نواف سلام، هو من بادر إلى الاتصال بمكتب الأمين العام وبرئيس مجلس الأمن الحالي، مندوب بريطانيا جون ساوورز، وأبلغهما بالأمر. كذلك، فإن وزير الثقافة اللبناني، طارق متري، الذي يزور نيويورك حالياً لإحياء الذكرى 125 لولادة الشاعر جبران خليل جبران، يشارك في الاتصالات لهذه الغاية.

عدد الثلاثاء ٦ أيار ٢٠٠٨

May 6th, 2008, 9:34 am

 

Naji said:

شروط دعم المقاومة
خالد صاغيّة
http://www.al-akhbar.com/ar/node/72627
تتبنّى الحكومة الحالية، بحسب بيانها الوزاري، دعم المقاومة. لكنّ البيان، كأيّ نص آخر، يمكن أن يخضع لتفسيرات وتأويلات مختلفة. وهي تفسيرات يتولّاها حالياً رئيس الحكومة فؤاد السنيورة ووزير الشباب والرياضة في مرجعيون وضواحيها أحمد فتفت. ووفق أحدث هذه التأويلات، تدعم الحكومة المقاومة لكن بشروط، منها:
1ــــ ألّا يُجري عناصر المقاومة أيّ اتصال في ما بينهم من دون أن يخضع للتنصّت من جانب السيّد ميشال معوّض الذي يودّ متابعة تفاصيل نقاشات المقاومين، تمهيداً لمشاركته في قرار السلم والحرب.
2ــــ أن يتخلّى حزب اللّه عن ترسانة الصواريخ التي يملكها، ويستبدلها بالمنجنيق.
3ــــ أن يُخطر السيّد حسن نصر اللّه قوى الأمن الداخلي بمكان وجوده أوّلاً بأوّل، وأن يوعز مدير هذه القوى بفصل عنصرين من شرطة السير لحماية الأمين العام لحزب اللّه.
4ــــ أن تُحصر المربّعات الأمنية داخل بيروت وضواحيها بمربّعَيْ قريطم وكليمنصو.
5ــــ ألا تقدم المقاومة على أي عمل عسكري قبل استئذان عمّار حوري.
6ــــ أن يشرف قائد القوات اللبنانية سابقاً، ورئيس هيئتها التنفيذية حالياً، السيّد سمير جعجع على تدريبات المقاومين، يعاونه غسّان توما.
7ــــ أن تمرّ كلّ المساعدات للمقاومة عبر رئاسة مجلس الوزراء، لينال كل من الوزراء حصّته.
8ــــ أن يُطرد السفير الإيراني من جمهوريّة المختارة.

عدد الثلاثاء ٦ أيار ٢٠٠٨

May 6th, 2008, 9:39 am

 

Shai said:

A very interesting article in Ha’aretz, about the need for Israelis to start listening to the suffering of the Palestinians:
http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/981037.html

May 6th, 2008, 9:44 am

 

Qifa Nabki said:

This is good news:

Pro-, Anti-Government MPs Adopt Butros’ Electoral Law
Pro-government MP Ghassan Tueni and opposition MP Ghassan Mkheiber have adopted what has been known as the “Butros Draft Electoral Law” as a formal proposal for the 2009 parliamentary elections.
At a joint press conference on Monday, Tueni and Mkheiber said they had referred the draft law to Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri.

Berri, in turn, referred the draft law to a special committee for examination.

Addressing Berri in a letter read at the conference, Tueni said the decision to adopt the law was made after “it has become essential to propose some sort of electoral framework.”

The Butros Law was named after national electoral law commission head Fouad Butros.

Tueni uncovered that head of Parliament’s Justice Committee Robert Ghanem was going to summon committee members to study the draft law.

He denied that MPs from the ruling March 14 coalition were boycotting any parliamentary committee meetings.

Mkheiber, for his part, stated the reasons behind his and Tueni’s endorsement of the new framework.

Mkheiber, an MP from Gen. Michel Aoun’s Change and Reform Bloc, said that he and Tueni submitted the Butros Law for immediate consideration by the appropriate parliamentary committees “since there appears to be a consensus regarding the adoption of an electoral law so as to avoid a return to the (2000 framework).”

Beirut, 06 May 08, 10:43

May 6th, 2008, 11:09 am

 

Qifa Nabki said:

AIG

I think the government is making a mistake.

They’re going back to the kind of politics that got us into this mess, namely trying to find the other side’s weak spot and exploiting it. In this case, the weak spot is its Christian support. The government is trying to capitalize on the defection of Murr to draw even more Christian supporters away from the Change & Reform Bloc by scare-mongering about Hizbullah’s phone network “which extends even into Jbeil and Kesrouan.”

This is pure, cynical politics, which is nothing new. But we’ve seen that it hasn’t worked, so they should have figured it out by now.

May 6th, 2008, 11:14 am

 

Naji said:

QN,
There has always been consencus about the Boutrous electoral law and districting… in fact it was created by consencus… and every time somebody, from either side, proposes a new law or scheme, he always starts by declaring support for the Boutrous law…!! Welcome to Lebanese politics…! 😉

May 6th, 2008, 11:16 am

 

Akbar Palace said:

The Neocon chorus is singing loud these days.

Alex –

No one is singing as loud as the jihadists from Gaza, South Lebanon and Tehran.

May 6th, 2008, 11:26 am

 

ugarit said:

EHSANI2: “Syria can of course reduce the financial blow by continuing to subsidize the commodities that experienced the largest jump in price. Doing so, however, means more red ink for its fiscal books.

Given the sizable public sector and the red ink already on the books, offering more subsidies at present makes little sense.”

Do you realize how offensive your statement is about the people in Syria? Avoiding red-ink is more important than reducing people’s suffering!!! How could you?

Neo-liberal supply side economists are peddling voodoo economics.

May 6th, 2008, 1:31 pm

 

ugarit said:

AIG “Mearseheimer has some nerve. Benny Morris is the foremost expert in the world about the 48 war.”

Benny Morris is an apologist for the ethnic cleansing of Palestine. The expert is Ilan Pappe. I recommend that you read his “The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine”

May 6th, 2008, 1:50 pm

 

Welcome | Project on Middle East Democracy said:

[…] In a discussion of the effect of such economic woes like food prices and rising inflation, Joshua Landis finds the middle class in the Middle East increasingly “tilted toward poverty.” Landis looks at Syria, where both a rise in food and oil prices is coupled with a decrease in state subsidies, Jordan, Egypt, and Saudi Arabia. […]

May 6th, 2008, 1:51 pm

 

norman said:

Ugarit ,

I am not Ehsani, but don’t you think Syria would be better off subsidising poor people instead of subsidising products , food stamps for low income families is better than subsidising the poor and the rich at the same level with this plan that they have and had for many years.

May 6th, 2008, 1:59 pm

 

Alex said:

http://www.champress.net/?page=show_det&select_page=14&id=26134

Syria’s prime minister says that the cost of the 25% increase in salaries is about $1.25 billion per year and that Syria’s reserves are sufficient to allow the government to protect Syria’s economy from regional and international challenges (or developments) for generations to come. He also mentioned that Syria is among the least indebted nations in the area and that the Syrian currency has held its value well.

أكد رئيس مجلس الوزراء المهندس محمد ناجي عطري أنّ تحريك أسعار المشتقات النفطية عبر رفع سعر مادة المازوت لـ 25 ليرة لليتر الواحد و 250 ليرة لأسطوانة الغاز المنزلي ستصب نتائجه في دعم المستوى المعيشي للمواطنين من خلال إعادة توزيع الدعم الحكومي ليصل لمستحقيه الحقيقيين .
و خلال لقائه مساء أمس مع ممثلي المؤسسات الإعلامية بحضور نائب رئيس مجلس الوزراء للشؤون الاقتصادية ووزراء المالية و الزراعة و الاقتصاد و العمل والإعلام والداخلية والنقل والنفط ، شدد عطري على أنّ مادة الخبز هي خط أحمر وأسعارها لن تتغير مطلقاً، كما أن الحكومة ليس لديها رؤى اليوم ولا غداً لرفع أسعار مادة البنزين .
و لفت عطري إلى أنّ زيادة الرواتب والأجور بنسبة 25 بالمئة التي أصدرها الرئيس بشار الأسد شملت أكثر من 1ر5 ملايين من العاملين في القطاع العام والقطاع الخاص والمشترك والمتقاعدين. وأوضح أن تكلفة هذه الزيادة تبلغ 58 مليار ليرة سورية وتصل إلى حدود سبعين مليار ليرة إذا أضيفت التعويضات الأخرى التي يتقاضاها العاملون في الدولة بموجب هذه الزيادة الغير مسبوقة التي لم تمر على رئيس الوزراء كما قال منذ عقود ، وهي كانت زيادة طبيعية وليست زيادة لمواجهة حالة طارئة .
و قال عطري أنّ الاقتصاد السوري قوي ومتين لافتاً الى نقاط قوته المتمثلة بأن سورية من أقل الدول مديونية في المنطقة وأن الاحتياطي الذي تملكه يكفيها لأجيال قادمة بما يكفل دعم هذا الاقتصاد في مواجهة المتغيرات الدولية والإقليمية فضلاً عن صمود الليرة السورية أمام هذه المتغيرات.‏‏

May 6th, 2008, 2:45 pm

 

norman said:

Israel confirms secret contacts with Syria
Posted : Tue, 06 May 2008 11:54:05 GMT
Author : DPA
Category : Middle East (World)
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Middle East World News | Home

Tel Aviv – Israeli Defence Minister Ehud Barak confirmed Tuesday that Israel has been holding secret contacts with Syria with a view to resuming peace negotiations. Barak confirmed Israel had been exchanging messages with Syria via foreign mediators and said this was done with his knowledge.

“Israel has an interest in removing Syria from the circle of hostility, and every (Israeli) prime minister, from the right or the left, of the past 15 years wanted this,” Barak told Israel Radio.

“All the messages are with my and our knowledge,” Barak said.

He did not comment on Turkey’s reported role as mediator.

Both Turkish Prime Minster Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Syrian President Bashar al-Assad had said separately late last month that Turkey had been mediating between the two enemy states about a possible resumption of peace negotiations. Israel had not yet commented.

Erdogan had been in Damascus late month, reportedly to discuss the issue.

Al-Assad had told a Qatar-based newspaper almost two weeks go that Syria and Israel had been exchanging messages through Erdogan since April 2007.

“Mediation efforts between Damascus and Tel Aviv intensified mainly after the war on Lebanon in summer 2006,” al-Assad told al- Watan in the April 24 interview.

Al-Assad also claimed that Erdogan had told him Israel was ready to withdraw from the Golan Heights in return for peace with Israel.

He said the sides were first trying to find “common ground” through the Turkish mediator, but that there would be no secret peace talks with Israel and that if the talks were revived, they would be held in public through Turkey’s mediation.

Israel captured the Golan from Syria during the 1967 Arab-Israeli war.

Peace negotiations between Israel and Syria broke off in 2000, when Barak, then prime minister on behalf of the centre-left Labour Party, offered to withdraw from most of the strategic plateau, but wanted to keep a buffer strip along the Sea of Galilee’s eastern shore, at the foot of the Golan. Syria rejected the offer.

Israeli media have reported that in its messages to Syria, Israel asked Damascus whether in return for peace, it would be willing to distance itself from Iran, Lebanon’s Shiite militant Hezbollah movement, and the Palestinian Hamas.

Copyright, respective author or news agency

May 6th, 2008, 4:03 pm

 

SimoHurtta said:

Ugarit ,

I am not Ehsani, but don’t you think Syria would be better off subsidising poor people instead of subsidising products , food stamps for low income families is better than subsidising the poor and the rich at the same level with this plan that they have and had for many years.

I have worked in the past as an industrial economist in a bank so I could express my modest opinion about the subject.

Actually subsidising necessity prices is much more cheaper for the government than running a wast organization and bureaucracy to to evaluate those in need and for dividing the money. In underdeveloped countries also this social benefit distribution system is much more vulnerable for corruption than a price regulated “social” system.

Naturally there is a limit how much a country can regulate prices and pay real money for the producers to keep the prices artificially low. However price regulation with basic necessities was widely used in West European countries until 80’s when the inflation was much higher than it has been during the past decades.

Basically the system works so that the government demands that grain is sold with a fixed price and bakers are demanded to sell the bread with a fixed price. That doesn’t cost the government basically anything. The theoretical losses for the national economy is the difference if the grain would be sold by world market prices out of the country – fixed price and for the government the loss of the hypothetical taxes of that business.

The IGs should remember that also Israel uses price regulation. Even today. Bakeries to demand another raise in bread prices.

The biggest newspaper in Finland, Helsingin Sanomat, had a story with an hilarious picture about how in USA in gasoline stations are held prayer sessions asking God to reduce the gasoline prices. One Church PR person said in the article that we have to ask help from God because the government is not doing anything. When the economical situation in USA worsens, which it with high certainty does, the government has to begin to use price regulation.

May 6th, 2008, 4:45 pm

 

norman said:

Simo,

Don’t you think that if the Government subsidise products then these products will find their way to neighbouring country where there is no subsidy so practically Syria and the Syrian people will be subsidising Lebanon , Jordon and Iraq and possibly Turkey so that will not improve Syria’s difficit .

May 6th, 2008, 5:28 pm

 

Alex said:

AIG,

He is by now the type of character what you get when you live in the west and interact often with NGOs and Democracy Think tnaks ..etc.

But if you are expecting him to be “elected” in Syria .. then it won’t happen. The real brotherhood did not go through the same transformation that their exiled leader went through.

BBC MidEast: Al-Arabiya Interviews Syrian Muslim Brotherhood
2008-05-06 11:53 (New York)

Dubai Al-Arabiya Television in Arabic at 2010 gmt on 2 May interviewed
in its “Frankly Speaking” programme London-based Ali Sadr-al-Din al-
Bayanuni, controller general of Syria’s Muslim Brotherhood.

Syrian regime “lost justification for existence”

Al-Bayanuni said that “this [Syrian] regime has lost the justification
for its existence and continuation as it has already lost its
legitimacy.” He adds that this is how the Syrian people view the
situation, emphasizing that “foreign parties, however, might have a
different view that matches their own interests.” He says that “Israel
believes that this regime should continue to exist while the USA has a
different opinion, but we in Syria, as the Syrian people, opposition,
and Muslim Brotherhood, believe that the mainstays of this regime
still exist and that this regime continues to rule using violence,
terrorism and coercion”.

He added that “the Syrian regime lost its legitimacy when it came to
power by force,” and that “it is assuming power now according to the
emergency law and based on an article of the [Syrian] constitution
that was imposed on Syria, which states that “the Ba’th Party is the
leading party for the state and society”; in other words, they have
imposed themselves on the society, state, economy, and politics.” He
added that “it is true that they are assuming power in the name of the
Ba’ath Party, but what we really know is that those who are in power
are a group of families who are dominating the fate of the Syrian
people.” He explains that the Syrian people are aware of this fact and
that the regime is illegitimate and is susceptible to collapse,
emphasizing that “the Syrian people are actively working to change
this regime in the wake of their total despair of correcting it”.

1980s Crackdown

Al-Bayanuni said that the Muslim Brotherhood did not have a “military
wing” and that the Syrian regime is held responsible for the bloody
events of the 1980s “when it provoked the entire population, not only
the Islamists”. He adds that there was a popular uprising at the time
“when the people felt they had reached a dead-end and were cornered,”
explaining that not only had the Muslim Brotherhood participated in
this uprising, but also professional unions, educated people and all
“categories of society”.

He said that the regime fabricated these events in order to cover up
its attack on the Muslim Brotherhood. He explained that “since its
inception in 1945, the Muslim Brotherhood has been well known for its
clear history of political participation. Its members participated in
the successive parliaments and governments and were an essential part
of political life in Syria by means of democratic action.” He
emphasizes that “the Muslim Brotherhood adopts a political project
that is based on serving and defending the Syrian people and country.”
He added: “Our political programme, which we launched a few years ago,
titled ‘the Political Project for Syria’s Future’ calls for freedom,
democracy, diversity, multiplicity, peaceful rotation of power and the
principle of citizenship for all citizens”.

Muslim Brotherhood “moderate”

Concerning popular support for the current regime, Al-Bayanuni said
that “such support normally shows in an atmosphere of freedom in which
the Syrian people can express their opinion,” adding that the number
of Muslim Brotherhood members in the last parliament, prior to the 8
March 1963 coup, was higher than the number of Ba’th Party members. He
said: “If the Muslim Brotherhood does not enjoy popular support, then
why has the Syrian regime been fiercely fighting its members?” He
added that President Bashar al-Asad considers the Muslim Brotherhood a
top danger that should be eradicated, as his father did years ago,
pointing to the law [ known as Law 49] was issued in 1980 that
levelled capital punishment against the Muslim Brotherhood members. He
added: “The Muslim Brotherhood members do not have any special
ideology, but they adopt moderate Islamic thoughts far away from
fanaticism and extremism. The Syrian people in general are religious
and characterized by moderation. There is a large Islamic trend in
Syria that adopts this moderate course, whose members do not belong to
the Muslim Brotherhood, but we, as Muslim Brotherhood members,
consider ourselves part of this wide popular trend, which adopts this
moderate thought.”

Muslim Brotherhood’s Syria “to be based on rotation of power”

Asked whether the Syrian state would become a religious, mainly Sunni,
regime rather than a secular regime, if the Muslim Brotherhood were to
assume power in Syria, Al-Bayanuni says: “In our declared and aspired
political project and within our political alliances, including the
Damascus Declaration and the National Salvation Front, we emphasize
that our target is the establishment of a civil state that is founded
on institutions, justice, equality, multiplicity and peaceful rotation
of power, particularly that the Muslim Brotherhood’s acceptance of a
democratic rule is not something new.” Nakuzi notes that this conforms
to the US project in the region. Al-Bayanuni says that the US project
in the region is not a democratic one; rather, it reflects a project
of the US interests, explaining that the principles mentioned above
are Islamic values before being democratic values. He says that “there
is no contradiction between present democracy and Islam,” emphasizing
that the democratic regime is the closest regime to the Islamic rule.
Asked what will be the fate of other sects in Syria, if an Islamic
regime comes to power, Al-Bayanuni said that, based on the principle
of citizenship, all citizens are equal, regardless of their sectarian,
ethnic, religious, or political affiliations, noting that the Syrian
opposition includes members of all sects.

Al-Bayanuni said that the Syrian regime has been postponing the issues
of freedom and democracy until this liberation takes place, which we
do not know when, adding that “the Syrian regime, which appears to be
an opposing and resisting force, as it used to call itself ‘the
country of steadfastness and confrontation’ is in fact, as everybody
inside and outside Syria knows, very far from steadfastness,
confrontation, opposition, and resistance”.

He said that the Golan Heights front, which remained calm since its
occupation in 1967, is a proof, adding that “the Syrian regime is
concerned about resistance only in order to employ it in implementing
its political designs; it is concerned about resistance in Lebanon and
about liberating the Shiba Farms [Lebanese territory occupied by
Israel], but it is not concerned about liberating the Golan.” He added
that the Syrian people are well aware of this fact and how “on the
pretext of resistance, steadfastness, opposition, and foreign
pressures it postpones all reforms.” He says that the Syrian regime
behaves with a bighearted spirit when Israel raids Syrian territories,
but “tightens its grip and uses its military force against the Syrian
people.” He added: “Any observer of the Syrian situation, the Syrian
front, the Syrian-Israeli ties, and the open and clandestine contacts
between Syria and Israel can realize that the discourse on opposition,
resistance, steadfastness and confrontation is void and an attempt to
outbid other Arab states.”

Continuing, Al-Bayanuni notes that Israel’s concern about keeping the
Syrian regime in existence and about breaking its isolation,
particularly in the wake of recent Israeli readiness to withdraw from
the Golan in return for peace with Syria, falls within rewarding the
Syrian regime for its peaceful policy towards Israel. He adds: “Israel
prefers to have a weak regime that is susceptible to blackmail and
pressures rather than a national regime that might come to power.” He
says that when a democratic regime assumes power in Syria, no deals
will be concluded with Israel. He wonders who has designated the
Syrian regime to sign a peace agreement with Israel and whether the
Syrian Government or regime has the legitimacy to negotiate with
Israel on behalf of the Syrian people.

Alliance with defecting former Syrian vice-president

Asked to explain how the Muslim Brotherhood is allying now with a
former Ba’thist; namely former Syrian Vice President Abd-al-Halim
Khaddam. Al-Bayanuni explains that the Damascus Declaration allows the
Syrian regime figures to interact with the Syrian opposition,
emphasizing that “we do not antagonize the Ba’th Party because of its
being a political party, but we stand against the coercion and
terrorism exercised by the Syrian regime against the Syrian people”.
He explains that the Muslim Brotherhood has allied itself with
numerous opposition parties, including Ba’ath defectors, and that
Khaddam left the regime, took the side of the Syrian people and became
part of the Syrian opposition.

Asked whether the Muslim Brotherhood is cooperating with the USA to
topple the Syrian regime, Al-Bayanuni said: “The Syrian opposition
focuses on and adopts the method of internal change by Syrian hands.
It does not approve any aggression on Syria on the pretext of changing
the regime, as what happened in Iraq. It rejects any interference in
Syrian domestic affairs. It calls for peaceful and democratic change
that would be carried out by Syrian hands.”

He adds that what the opposition needs from the world community is to
expose the Syrian regime; particularly since it is being protected in
the Arab and international arenas, explaining that “toppling this
regime is considered a red line by these countries and Israel.” He
said that when this cover is removed, “many elements within and
outside the regime will then be ready to begin the change process”.

USA dialogue

Asked whether the Muslim Brotherhood has been engaged in any dialogue
with theUSA, Al-Bayanuni denied that there had been any direct
negotiations, adding that the National Salvation Front held a number
of meetings with US officials in Washington to explain its project.
Concerning US support, he said that Washington does not support the
movement and that the Syrian opposition has a national programme that
contradicted the US interests. He said that “the Syrian regime is
supported by Israel and international forces and is pinning much hope
on settling its status with these international forces”.

Iran ties

Asked what type of relations their aspired regime would have with
Iran, Al-Bayanuni explained that Iran was actively infiltrating into
the Syrian society to convert Sunnis to Shi’is, with the Syrian
regime’s support, utilizing the poverty of some groups of the Syrian
people. He warned of future “sectarian sedition” if matters continued
to move in this direction. He added that Iran had great economic,
political, security, and military influence on Syria, noting that “the
Syrian regime has isolated itself from its Arab surroundings and
embraced Iran” to a great extent that exceeded the alliance that tied
the two countries together a number of years ago.

Syria “involved” in killing of Lebanon’s Al-Hariri

Asked whether the Muslim Brotherhood believed that the Syrian regime
had actually killed former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafiq al- Hariri,
Al-Bayanuni said that those who were aware of the Syrian crimes in
Lebanon would definitely believe so, adding that the method by which
the Syrian regime handled Al-Hariri’s assassination indicated that it
was involved in the crime. He added that investigation and the
International Tribunal would confirm this assumption, wondering “if
the Syrian regime were innocent, why would it have hampered holding
the international tribunal?”

Israel ties and support for Hezbollah

Asked whether the Muslim Brotherhood project called for destroying or
coexisting with Israel, Al-Bayanuni said: “Our political project is a
civilized one, and if we adopt the course of resistance, it is because
it is a legal right by all peoples whose territories have been
occupied.”

Concerning his support for Hezbollah’s resistance, he said that they
supported the Lebanese resistance when it was real resistance against
occupation, “but now, since Hezbollah has stopped being a resistance
party and turned into a party that is engaged in the Lebanese conflict
on sectarian basis, obstructs normal life and the formation of the
international tribunal and insists on the continuation of the
constitutional and presidential vacuum in Lebanon, we are certainly
against these stands”. As for the destruction of Israel, he said that
their project called on Israel “to implement international legitimacy
and withdraw from the territories that it had occupied”.

Originally published by Al-Arabiya TV, Dubai, in Arabic 2008 2 May 08.

May 6th, 2008, 6:37 pm

 

SimoHurtta said:


Simo,

Don’t you think that if the Government subsidise products then these products will find their way to neighbouring country where there is no subsidy so practically Syria and the Syrian people will be subsidising Lebanon , Jordon and Iraq and possibly Turkey so that will not improve Syria’s difficit.

Of course a tiny part finds the way out of the country. But most of the bread, wheat, rice, gasoline etc is used domestically. But so they would if there are big value added or other taxes or price difference because of competition, or the lack of it in one, between countries. We Finns buy alcohol from Estonia where it is cheaper (less taxes) and Norwegians almost every thing from Sweden and Finland where everything is cheaper. Even Russians come nowadays to buy some things from Finland where they are cheaper.

By the way Norman I would speak about price regulation not substitutes. As said much of these subsidises do not cost the government a penny. Well the country looses in theory some potential income. If Syria produces for example gasoline with the production cost of 100 and it is sold to local people with the cost of 110 when world market price would be 200, it means that the oil producer looses the income potential of 90 units. If the needed oil would be sold domestically with the world market price this 90 unit would be “pulled of” from the local economy. So this 90 can be seen as a social income transfer to the people.

May 6th, 2008, 7:46 pm

 

abraham said:

QN said:

I thought she was going to rip off her shirt to show how much chest hair she had.

Ugh, that is a most despicable thought. I was more expecting her face to rip open and a little slimy creature to crawl out declaring, “I AM THE ZIONIST WITHIN!”

June 20th, 2008, 11:41 pm

 

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