Bush Promises Support that Analysts Say He Cannot Give

Bush Will continue to support the Lebanese army, even though the army refuses to fight Hizbullah and prefers to cooperate with it.  March 14 is not convinced.

Christopher Dickey quotes George Shultz in 1984, when Reagan pulled US troops from Lebanon. Shultz said: "This is a kind of warfare, really, that is something different for us … We have to improve our intelligence capability, and we have to think through how, within the concept of the rule of law, which we hold so dear, we can take a more aggressive posture toward what is a worldwide and very undesirable trend."

Paul Salem writes that, "The timing of the government's two decisions, which HA used as an excuse to launch its military operations, left many observers puzzled. The government apparently realized that the decisions were momentous and might cause a strong reaction: the session dragged on for eleven hours of heated discussion."

Some commentators had believed that Jumblatt dragged the Siniora government into its confrontation with Hizbullah. This turns out not to be true. The government knew that it was taking a momentous step in confronting Hizbullah's security apparatus.

Sami Moubayed goes into greater detail about "The Miscalculation"

THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary
_________________________________________________________

For Immediate Release                        May 12, 2008

STATEMENT BY THE PRESIDENT

I strongly condemn Hizballah's recent efforts, and those of their foreign sponsors in Tehran and Damascus, to use violence and intimidation to bend the government and people of Lebanon to their will. The United States will continue to firmly support the Government of Lebanon, led by Prime Minister Siniora, against this effort to undermine the hard-fought gains in sovereignty and independence the Lebanese people have made in recent years. The international community will not allow the Iranian and Syrian regimes, via their proxies, to return Lebanon to foreign domination and control.  To ensure the safety and security of the people of Lebanon, the United States will continue its assistance to the Lebanese Armed Forces to ensure they are able to defend the Lebanese Government and safeguard its institutions.

It is critical that the international community come together to assist the Lebanese people in their hour of need. I plan to consult with regional leaders on my upcoming trip to the Middle East to coordinate efforts to support the Lebanese Government and implement U.N. Security Council Resolutions 1559 and 1701, among others, which seek to bolster Lebanon's sovereignty against external efforts at destabilization and interference. The Lebanese people have sacrificed much for the sake of their freedom, and the United State s will continue to stand with them against this latest assault on their independence and security.

AHMADINEJAD: ISRAEL TO BE “SWEPT AWAY SOON''
2008-05-13 08:45 (New York)

Tehran (dpa) – Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said Tuesday that Israel would “be soon swept away'' from the Palestinian Territories by the Palestinians.

It is the second time within less than three years that the Iranian president predicted the eradication of the Jewish state. The first time was in 2005 when Ahmadinejad hoped that Israel would be eradicated from the Middle East map.

“This terrorist and criminal state is backed by foreign powers, but this regime would soon be swept away by the Palestinians,'' Ahmadinejad said in a press conference in Tehran. Referring to worldwide celebrations for the 60th anniversary of Israel's foundation, he said that “it would be futile to hold a birthday ceremony for something which is already dead.''

“As far as the regional countries are concerned, this regime does not exist,'' Ahmadinejad added. The Iranian president said last week that the anniversary feasts could not save this “rotten and stinking corpse.''

Ahmadinejad caused international outrage in the past by hoping for the eradication of Israel, the relocation of the Jewish state to Europe or Alaska and questioning the historic dimensions of the Holocaust. dpa fm wjh

Ray Close – Former CIA analyst and Lebanon hand

The key question:  Is the Bush administration supporting constructive compromise, or are they pushing the Siniora government to stick relentlessly to a maximalist position that is almost certainly beyond its capability to sustain, and which could quite easily drive Lebanon toward a renewal of civil war.  I have a nagging fear that uppermost in Bush's mind is his determination to find something that he can claim as a clear-cut victory over "terrorism" before he leaves the world's stage.  In that mood, the notion of supporting a compromise solution in Lebanon between a "pro-American" government and a "terrorist" organization (Hizballah), a surrogate of Iran and Syria, is anathema to the Bush-Cheney crowd, and may be tempting them to use American influence in exactly the wrong way in this crisis.  Can any of us really imagine George W. Bush endorsing what Rami Khouri visualizes as "the first American-Iranian joint political governance system in the Arab World?".  Rami Khouri is exactly right when he correctly characterizes that outcome as "a huge defeat for the United States and its failed diplomatic approach that seeks to confront, battle and crush the Islamist-nationalists throughout the region."  However, Rami Khouri is equally correct in declaring that this would be an ideal outcome, in that a solution based on a more equitable balance of power within Lebanon might set a constructive precedent that would by its example contribute to achieving some level of political stability in Iraq and between rival factions in Palestine.  This would be a magnificent result of an otherwise ugly crisis. 

Unfortunately, however, the situation reminds me (with mixed bitterness and guilt) so much of the mistakes we made (under Eisenhower-Dulles orders) in 1957-58, when we attempted by hook or by crook (mostly crook) to push Lebanon off its traditional position of neutrality in inter-Arab affairs and to become an openly committed partner of the United States in opposing post-colonial Arab nationalism — under the contrived justification of resisting "international communism".  That ill-advised effort laid the foundations of the future 1975-90 civil war.

This time, I hope we don't make the same heavy-handed and short-sighted mistakes all over again.  And let's hope that Rami Khouri's vision proves to be realistic and achieveable.  We've had enough bad news!
Ray

Slaughterhouse Beirut
Lebanon's chances for meaningful reconstruction are diminishing by the day. And despite Bush's bravado, it's going to be the same in Iraq.
Christopher Dickey
Newsweek Web Exclusive
May 13, 2008

If you want to know what Iraq will look like 25 years from now, look at Lebanon today. The similarities and differences—but mainly the similarities—raise a lot of painful memories and questions for
Americans.

This fact hit me once again when I was talking to Mike Sheehan, who is one of the more clear-eyed analysts of terrorism and the way we react to it. The subject came up of Beirut as it is now, a bloody mess, and as it was when Mike and I first focused on it a quarter-century ago, when it was even bloodier.

Back then President Ronald Reagan waded into the Levantine quagmire, quickly understood that he had made a big miscalculation, and withdrew. "Some counterterrorism experts argue the Reagan pullout from Lebanon was a mistake and emboldened future terrorists," says Sheehan. "I never bought this analysis, then or now. I think it was one of the smartest things Reagan did during his tenure—to get out of the Lebanese civil war. To stay in any war to 'make a statement' has never made sense to me. You have to have well-defined interests and achievable goals when you put American soldiers in harm's way; both seemed to be missing in Lebanon. Reagan recognized it and withdrew."

Sheehan believes symbolism is a major factor in the fight against terrorists only if it's accompanied by the systematic elimination of the terrorists' operational cells and infrastructure. (Hence the title of his recent book, "Crush the Cell" [Vintage, 2008], which I wrote about last week.) Sheehan is not arguing that a Lebanon-style pullout from Iraq, which is a different war in a different time, would be so sensible now. President George W. Bush will probably make that point many times during his upcoming nonvictory tour of the Middle East.

And yet, whether the United States stays in Iraq or goes, "Lebanonization" is the most likely result: a foundering half-failed state where neighbors fight proxy battles through sectarian militias and through the many factions in a government that is unable to govern at all. There will be times of war when life seems to go on almost as normal, and times of peace when it seems not to. There will be spurts of investment, maybe even tourism. There will be festivals of democratic excitement. And then sudden storms of savage violence will sweep through the streets of the capital, only to subside, then erupt in smaller cities, and subside. And erupt again. And so it goes, to borrow the old refrain from Kurt Vonnegut's novel "Slaughterhouse Five." If the world pays any attention at all, the span will be brief. The fighting and the failures to govern will have gone on so long that nothing seems new in that news.

The chances for meaningful reconstruction diminish by the day in such a place. The brains and talent needed to build the home country will, for the most part, be building other countries, having left over the years as much out of frustration as fear. The best, lacking all conviction that things can improve, will have established their own families in Abu Dhabi or New York—wherever there seems some modicum of sanity and a real commitment to the future, not just an endless settling of past scores. The worst, filled with passionate intensity and armed with rocket-propelled grenades, will rule the streets. As it is in Beirut, so it will be in Baghdad.

Even many of the players in Iraq and Lebanon are similar: Syria, Iran, ferocious fighters in the mountains (the Druze and Christians in Lebanon, the Kurds in Iraq), competing and combative Shiite factions (Amal and Hizbullah in Lebanon; the Dawa, the Supreme Islamic Iraqi Council and Moqtada al-Sadr's Mahdi Army in Iraq).

If we Americans had stayed in Lebanon, could we have made a difference? It would be nice to think so, but we didn't really have the option.

The U.S. Marines went into the country in 1982 to help Israel usher out the Palestine Liberation Organization, then went in again when Israel's Christian militia allies massacred defenseless Palestinian civilians at Beirut's Sabra and Shatila refugee camps. A young political officer from the U.S. embassy, Ryan Crocker, was one of the first outsiders to see the carnage up close. Amid the stench of decaying flesh he counted 106 bodies, 27 of them women and children. But this was "by no means a complete figure," he said in a cable to Washington dictated over his car radio. Washington decided the atrocity demanded some sort of American solution. But what sort? Nobody was sure. But in went the Marines again.

It turned out the Palestinians were far from the only fighters in Lebanon, and Iran nurtured one new group, the Shiite Party of God, or Hizbullah, that proved especially effective. Its recruits were willing to commit suicide to kill their foreign enemies: the Israelis occupying the southern part of Lebanon, the French who had come in as part of the same deployment as the Americans trying to stabilize the situation, and the Americans themselves. The Party of God blew up the U.S. Embassy, it blew up the Marine barracks, it blew up the U.S. Embassy again.

The Reagan administration's exit strategy from Lebanon was to train up units of the Lebanese Army to act as effective keepers of the peace. But the Lebanese Sixth Brigade, responsible for most of the capital, was mostly made up of Shiites. In February 1984 the entire brigade, in effect, joined the ranks of one of the militias. And the Marines at that point had no choice but to get back on their boats.

The critical differences in Iraq are that Americans have stayed much longer already, fought much harder, and died in much greater numbers. Iraq is bigger. It is even more complicated. And it has oil, which means, especially given today's markets, that it is vital to the world's economy. The Bush administration, moreover, has created an Iraqi military that is incapable of defending itself from direct aggression by others in the neighborhood, whether Iran or Israel, Turkey or Saudi Arabia, should any of those countries want to pick a fight or stake out a little territory. So at the same time that Iraq has become America's curse, it has become its dependency.

As the United States had no choice but to leave Lebanon, it has created a situation in which it has no choice but to stay in Iraq.

That's why Crocker, now the U.S. ambassador to Baghdad, and Gen. David Petraeus and the other professionals trying to salvage the situation there are always so guarded in their progress reports. The situation can indeed get worse. The patient's on life support, and if Congress pulls the plug it will probably die, but we'll still be stuck in the room with the decaying corpse.

One of the more reasonable prescriptions for Iraq I've heard lately was on a panel with Colin Kahl, a political scientist at Georgetown University. His catch phrase was, as opposed to victory, sustainable stability: contain or crush the remnants of Al Qaeda in Iraq, try to keep the state from collapsing altogether or becoming an Iranian puppet and prevent genocidal violence. And if you can do all those things, whether by negotiation with Iran, twisting the arms of Iraqi politicians, using troops on the ground or threatening to pull them out, then that's about as much as can be expected.

All of which sounds as if we'll be fighting for a long time just to achieve the kind of painful stalemate that emerged in Lebanon when we left after a mere 18 months on the ground. But I'm not so sure I'd give as much credit to Reagan's wisdom as Mike Sheehan does.

On the day the last Marine combat unit pulled out of Lebanon in 1984, a television interviewer asked then-Secretary of State George Shultz if that meant a victory for the bad guys. He could not but equivocate: "This is a kind of warfare, really, that is something different for us … We have to improve our intelligence capability, and we have to think through how, within the concept of the rule of law, which we hold so dear, we can take a more aggressive posture toward what is a worldwide and very undesirable trend." That was 24 years ago, and we're still thinking it through.

In the WaPo, here: March 14 — "U.S. statements on the crisis have been too weak" (Thanks "friday-lunch-club")

"…In an earlier interview with the al-Arabiya television network, Bush said he personally admired Siniora. "We will help him," Bush said. …. One March 14 politician, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, called for "tactical strikes" against Syria to pressure the government to rein in Hezbollah….. members of a coalition known as March 14 — said U.S. statements on the crisis have been too weak and called for more pressure on Hezbollah and its Syrian backers. The politicians said they felt abandoned by the United States…..
.
The Americans are telling March 14 they have to resist," said one Western diplomat in Beirut. "But they're not bringing much operational support."
"We're not asking them to fight our fight for us," said Mouawad, the minister. "But at least don't let us be slaughtered by total indifference."
Andrew Lee Butter, in TIME, here
"…..Jumblatt, a top American ally, is under virtual house arrest. After the lightning speed with which opposition Hizballah fighters defeated government supporters in a six hour battle on Thursday — only to vanish a few hours later……"I am a hostage now in my home in Beirut," he said over the telephone to his rival Nabih Berri, …."Tell [Hizballah leader] Sayeed Hassan Nasrallah I lost the battle and he wins. So let's sit and talk to reach a compromise. All that I ask is your protection."…..
…. Jumblatt is quickly coming to grips with the new political landscape. "The U.S. has failed in Lebanon and they have to admit it,"

Lebanon’s prolonged political crisis erupted in violence last week following the dismissal by the Lebanese government of an official close to Hizbollah and the launch an investigation into the organization’s telecommunications network. Paul Salem, director of the Carnegie Middle East Center in Beirut, outlines the key actors of Lebanon’s worst violence since the end of its civil war in 1990 and their aims.

Key Conclusions:
• Hizbollah’s immediate goals are to force the government to rescind its controversial decisions and establish a unity government with increased authority for Hizbollah. Over the long-term, they could demand on a larger share of power for Lebanon’s Shi’a.
• Hizbollah is not eager to elect a new president immediately. They hope to stall until after new parliamentary elections (which must be held before June 2009) in the hopes of having more say in the choice of candidate.
• The army is under intense criticism for failing to stop the violence but argues it must remain neutral or risk splitting along sectarian lines.
• Contrary to a similar escalation in December 2006, Iran has not interceded to halt the violence. This could be the result of the latest round of Security Council resolutions and increased hostile rhetoric by the United States. It could also reflect Iranian concerns about the possibility of a Syrian–Israeli agreement.

“The situation in Lebanon remains extremely tense. An Arab League ministerial delegation is to arrive to help negotiate an end to the crisis. The next days will indicate whether the opposition will escalate and widen its military assaults, or whether Lebanon is entering a lull in which discussions and political bargaining will come to the fore,” concludes Salem.. [Read the whole report – Hizbollah Attempts a Coup d’État]

Lebanon’s Hariri vows no surrender to Hezbollah
Tue May 13, 2008 12:35pm EDT
By Alistair Lyon, Special Correspondent

BEIRUT (Reuters) – Lebanon’s Sunni Muslim leader Saad al-Hariri pledged on Tuesday there would be no political surrender to what he called a bid by Hezbollah and its Syrian and Iranian backers to impose their will on the nation by force.

The Shi’ite Hezbollah group and its opposition allies have routed supporters of the Sunni-led government in Beirut and hills to the east in fighting that has pushed Lebanon to the brink of a new civil war.

“They simply are demanding that we surrender, they want Beirut to raise white flags… This is impossible,” Hariri told a news conference in his first public appearance since Hezbollah swept through Sunni-dominated areas of the capital last week.

“They will not be able to obtain Saad al-Hariri’s signature … on a deed to surrender to the Iranian and Syrian regimes.”

Lebanon experienced its calmest day since violence broke out on May 7 after U.S.-backed Prime Minister Fouad Siniora outlawed Hezbollah’s communications network and fired Beirut airport’s security chief, who is close to the Shi’ite group.

Comments (293)


1. Naji said:

The most fascinating news today was probably Ahmadinjad’s response to Saud Al Faisal’s press conference…!! He was confident that the Faisal is not speaking for the Saudi king…!!!

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May 13th, 2008, 8:10 pm

 

2. Oliver MacDous said:

I am not sure why my posts are not getting through
First CNN in arabic reports what I predicted previously that they are lamenting the lack of true fighters like the Fatah Al Islam troops of Nahr El Bared
Here is the post
http://arabic.cnn.com/2008/scitech/5/13/cyber.war/index.html

On a different note, the Saudis are threatening Iran and not Syria and this brings me to the conclusion that they now they may not object to the plan of the NSC to attack Quds forces training camps in Iran.

The current admnisistration is not interested in a legacy, it is interested in tying the hands of the next administration in a policy from which no one can extricate itself and that is the contradictory policy of supporting the Likud to the hilt while at the same time supporting the monarchies of the oil kingdoms.

In a recent report that I read, it seems that the unexplored reserves of oil in Iraq could last for up to 500 years whereas those of SA would last 75 years and those of Iran a mere 53 years. Therefore, insuring a 100 year presence in Iraq seems to be perfectly in line with the Republican-Democrat-Likud line.

The urge to attack the Quds force is now greater than ever. The deterrence of the US vis a vis the Iranians is diminishing as we see that Tehran just brokered the latest cease fire, the green zone just ended having had 1000 rockets fall on it in the last 40 days, the Apaches are being shot at with air to surface missiles as reported today in CNN, and Tehran is extending its pipeline and energy policy towards India, Pakistan, and is getting closer to China and Russia.

Those that are relying on the current administration to come to the rescue may have to wait a while, nevertheless the events may now force the current administration to do what is termed in French an escape forward: Une fuite en avant by hitting the Iranians. The consequences could be grave for the world economy but then again we are not dealing with perfectly stable people.

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May 13th, 2008, 8:54 pm

 

3. kingcrane jr said:

By the way, the Hezb could have ignored the whole thing, and the Army could have ignored the March 14 decision, but this time around, there were red lines crossed and they had to point that out.

The stupid Sanyura government just contributed to another bunch of deaths in Lebanon, but imagine how many would be dead if the machinations to kill Hezb leaders had worked, and the additional deaths in the aftermath.

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May 13th, 2008, 9:33 pm

 

4. Oliver MacDous said:

CNN in Arabic is reporting that some Sunnis are lamenting the lack of a force like the one that fought at Nahr El Bared to support them instead of the few fighters that they had on hand in West Beirut.

The PSP seems to have had a lot of heavy weapons and they will be put under the control of the Arslan forces and the army.

Hariri has just parroted what he was told to say; that this is an Iranian Syrian conspiracy with Israeli coverage to bring back the Syrian secret service. If it were not so pathetic one could laugh at such a spectacle.

The Saudis are threatening Iran with dire consequences with the Arab world as if they speak for the entire Arab and Muslim world. Iran dismissed the threat and declared that they of all the protagonists do not interfere in Lebanese affairs. They do not have to do so for they have a true and tested ally in HA who is pursuing first and foremost a Lebanese agenda. The Hizb has a true long term strategy to become a full part of the Lebanese landscape just as speaking half in French and half in Arabic has been a constant in that sophisticated society.

I believe the events may force the hot heads in the administration to carry out a strike on Iran as the deterrence of the US is decreasing. This is evident after Tehran brokered the latest cease fire in Baghdad. Having its ally HA become even more powerful and seeing he policies of the administration slowly crumble will force the issue of a strike I am afraid.

Someone said that they wanted to know why I think that the HA is now more independent of Syria, this is because it has shown that it can have its own set of priorities and policies and that its safety comes before the safety of anyone else.

Someone said on a previous post that the Saudis continue to follow the directives of the administration, well Einstein defined insanity as the persistence in error despite all of the evidence pointing out the undesirable outcome repeatedly.

I believe that the March 14 group will start first by posturing then they will start by back stabbing each other just as Gemayel returned from France hurriedly afraid lest Geagea eat into his territory. Likewise, the fitna between Walid and Saad will only get worse as they blame each other for the debacle.

Once again, what were they thinking, who gave them such bad advice, and who left hanging dry? If there is a world for stupidity it must be Siniora.

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May 14th, 2008, 1:37 am

 

5. Akbar Palace said:

Oliver MacDous said:

The Saudis are threatening Iran with dire consequences with the Arab world as if they speak for the entire Arab and Muslim world.

Oliver M.,

You mean there are Arab countries that are fed up with the Iranians too?

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May 14th, 2008, 1:54 am

 

6. ugarit said:

Akbar Palace continues to watch Fox News: “You mean there are Arab countries that are fed up with the Iranians too?”

Arabs are more fed up with the US and Israel, in fact most of the world is fed up with the US and Israel.

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May 14th, 2008, 2:01 am

 

7. ugarit said:

“The distinct American hubris that we are “the indispensable nation” and the braggadocio that we are an “omnipower” has us overcommitted in alliances that we cannot fulfill. Despite 25 percent of the Iraqi population killed, injured or displaced, the “world’s only superpower” cannot even control Baghdad. To deal with the pointless war we started in Afghanistan, we have had to sucker our NATO allies into a conflict that is no concern of theirs. Militarily overextended and with a faltering economy and collapsing currency, the cabal of morons that rules America still hopes to attack Iran, Syria, and to drive Hezbollah from Lebanon. American idiots in think tanks are busy at work drawing up plans about how the US is going to check China and prevent her emergence as a power beyond US control. The Republican presidential candidate has boasted that he will challenge Russia and bring Putin to heel.
Amazing.

The world’s greatest debtor is going to take on the two powerful countries with the largest trade surpluses. According to the World Factbook, an annual publication of the CIA, Russia’s 2007 current account surplus is $465 billion and China’s is $363 billion. In contrast, the US current account deficit is $987 billion–an amount larger that the total deficits of all other countries in the world combined. The out-of-pocket and already incurred future cost of Bush’s wars of aggression is between $3 and $5 trillion, every dollar of which must be borrowed. That comes on top of the unfunded liabilities of the US government totaling $53 trillion. By any account the US is the world’s worst credit risk. The “mighty” US relies on foreigners to finance its consumption, its wars, and the daily operations of its government. ” — http://counterpunch.org/roberts05132008.html

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May 14th, 2008, 2:03 am

 

8. Qifa Nabki said:

Oliver and KingCrane (Jr. & Sr.)

I read everything you write.

I am always impressed by the bird’s-eye-view perspective that you both bring to these discussions. Obviously, we may disagree from time to time, but I would like to ask you how you see the long-term trajectory/strategy of Hizbullah in the Lebanese political arena.

Oliver, you say: “The Hizb has a true long term strategy to become a full part of the Lebanese landscape…”

You’ve said this before, but I’d like you to elaborate on it, if you wouldn’t mind.

KingCrane, you (or your dad, I can’t remember) has said that you are an Arab secularist, and you’ve displayed a great deal of cynicism for the Sunni regimes in the region and their Lebanese allies, and a lot of admiration for the Lebanese opposition. Do you have any thoughts about the Hizb’s long-term strategy?

Angry Arab recently wrote:

“I am not pleased with the exuberance that is exhibited by some leftists toward the developments in Lebanon. I believe that the radical left, or the revolutionary left, should be careful in evaluating the situation… The radical left should keep a distance from an organization (i.e. Hizbullah) with which it does not share an ideology–a religious fundamentalist one at that. Today, I kept thinking of the leader of the Iranian Communist Party who sang the praises of Khumayni only to be forced to appear on TV (after the revolution) and make Stalinist-style “confessions”. He later was executed as were other communists. The radical left, it has to be ascertained is fiercely opposed to the US/Israeli/Saudi plan and its implementers in Lebanon (Jumblat, Hariri, and Ja`ja` and the other gangs of March 14), and is dedicated to the liberation of Palestine. But it can’t abandon its other important principles of social justice, secularism, and pluralist politics–and these are issues that Hizbullah either opposes or has a bad record on… I was also displeased with the closure of Hariri media, as much as I detest them … One sided polemics are the stuff of which the Saudi and Syrian media are made, and we can’t replicate that in Lebanon.”

I think that As`ad is making several valid points, and we do not hear enough about the “red lines” of Hizbullah’s allies, vis-a-vis the future of the party, its integration into Lebanese politics, etc.

Your thoughts?

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May 14th, 2008, 2:49 am

 

9. norman said:

QN,

I know that you did not ask for my opinion, I will give it to any way,

Most people who are supporting Hezbollah are not doing so because they like ideology of Hezbollah , They like Hezbollah because for the first time ever the Arabs with the leadership of Hezbollah forced Israel off an Arab land without a peace treaty,

Let me tell something more , Tommorow if KSA will stop oil supply to the US and West until Israel is forced to abide by the security consul resolutions , and note that I am not asking for the elimination of Israel , Then we all will be Saudis and that is not to get a salary for life , For God sake we all will be Sunni, we are just tired of ineffective leaders who’s concern is only to keep their seats.

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May 14th, 2008, 3:16 am

 

10. AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Norman,
I am really curious. Why do you measure leaders by how much land they can get from Israel without peace and not by how well they manage a country’s economy, education, infrastructure etc.?

Also, why is getting land by war better than getting it be peace?

And by the way, what you say is not true. In 1973 the Egyptian army forced Israel off Arab land without a peace treaty. So did the Jordanians in 48.

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May 14th, 2008, 4:04 am

 

11. AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

The Israeli newspapers are reporting an interesting development. The north of the West Bank will be given in a few weeks to the PA to be totally controlled by them. It would be an interesting experiment.

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May 14th, 2008, 4:18 am

 

12. SOL said:

NORMAN said;

“They like Hezbollah because for the first time ever the Arabs with the leadership of Hezbollah forced Israel off an Arab land without a peace treaty”

I wish you would exert as much energy and show as much glee in the peace process and building bridges as you do in military battles and “victories.”

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May 14th, 2008, 4:26 am

 

13. Enlightened said:

I am breaking my self imposed exile for just one minute:

Enjoy!

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May 14th, 2008, 4:36 am

 

14. Enlightened said:

Alex:

Release my comment from the spam filter thanks!

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May 14th, 2008, 4:37 am

 

15. SimoHurtta said:

The Israeli newspapers are reporting an interesting development. The north of the West Bank will be given in a few weeks to the PA to be totally controlled by them. It would be an interesting experiment.

Come-on AIG, that “experiment” has been done about 50 times before. IDF does everything in their power that Palestinian security forces can’t perform their task. Using night rides and when there is a little trouble IDF will destroy all the Palestinian security infrastructure (paid by US and EU). As it has done time after time.

BTW AIG does this Palestinian control include also the control of the illegal settlements in the area? If not why not?

BBC showed just an hilarious report of an IDF night raid in West Bank. IDF had “information”, got from a prisoner, of illegal weapons. First these IDF geniuses went to wrong building and harassed a large family. Then they went to the right address, where they arrested an Palestinian police man. No weapons found, the policeman freed and numerous Palestinians “loving” more the occupation power. An embarrassed IDF soldier explaining BBC that this is important because these (non existing, hypothetical) weapons could be used to kill Jews. Simply funny and so “professional” …

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May 14th, 2008, 5:00 am

 

16. Shai said:

Simo,

Morgen. When you’re in the “shits”, you often end up talking “shit”. I’m referring to our soldiers, unfortunately… It’s a whole other crime, which one day will be discussed in Israel, of what it is that we’re doing to our youth for nearly half a century. And the past two decades have had a horrific effect on many. It’s very, very different from going to war. Occupation corrupts the mind and the soul. Because unlike war, it doesn’t make sense, it has no legitimacy, and even an 18 year old can understand that. Yet, he was taught to obey, and he does.

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May 14th, 2008, 5:14 am

 

17. Shai said:

And the gambling continues…

Ma’ariv reports this morning that a sharp reversal is now in place with the army’s recommendation as to a massive ground operation in Gaza. Previously, the IDF was against such an operation, as long as Hamas is controlling the relative quiet. But apparently now Gabi Ashkenazi, IDF COGS, is in favor of such an operation. His reasoning is the fact that Hamas announced that talks of “calm” will not include Gilad Shalit, and that the IDF views this period as providing Hamas a chance to rearm and prepare for a more heavy and substantial round. The article (unfortunately only in Hebrew – I’m looking for an English version), suggests that such an operation would take place following Bush’s departure… Why start a war while Air Force One is still parked on the runway…

If this is true, and if indeed a deep and substantial operation is about to take place, things are going to look very bad in the near future. Not only will many many Palestinians (and Israeli soldiers) die, but there’s a good chance other parties could be dragged in as well (Hezbollah, Syria). At the moment, this sad scenario seems much more likely than perhaps just a few weeks ago. Personally, I believe NOW is almost a crucial moment for Israel and Syria to meet, and to clarify their intentions, and make mutual demands of one another. I’m not sure Syria (behind closed doors) would ever refuse to talk to Israel while fighting continues in Gaza, but at the very least, they should ensure one another that this must not deteriorate into a regional war. This doesn’t help the Palestinians much, but it could save the lives of many others in the region.

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May 14th, 2008, 5:41 am

 

18. Zenobia said:

Ay, ay norman. You are totally correct.

and,

really… one should ask the Israelis foremost why they prefer to acquire land through war. That is their MO more than any others in the ME.

To shut off the oil taps or shut off the military aid…is called leverage not warfare.

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May 14th, 2008, 7:21 am

 

19. Leila Abu-Saba said:

Off the thread topics – I hugely appreciate the photo of that cheerleader. It’s young W at Yale, is it not? Or does it just look like him? He was a indeed a cheerleader at college – what a fine boy!

America – a country where any son of an ambassador can become president. Having a successful bootlegger for a grandfather seems to improve one’s chances.

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May 14th, 2008, 9:55 am

 

20. Shai said:

Leila,

Ah… no, that’s George W. as a senior in high school (private, all boys school) – Phillips Academy in Andover, Massachusetts.

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May 14th, 2008, 10:12 am

 

21. Akbar Palace said:

Zenobia states:

really… one should ask the Israelis foremost why they prefer to acquire land through war. That is their MO more than any others in the ME.

Hi Zenobia,

Just FYI, Israelis prefer to acquire land through peace, as was evidenced by:

1.) their agreement to the 1947 partition plan that the Arabs rejected.

2.) their return of the Sinai to Eygpt and land to Jordan for two peace treaties.

3.) their withdraw from Lebanon and Gaza.

4.) their willingness to negotiate peace with both Syria and Palestine.

As far as their “MO more than any others in the ME”, I would say Saddam Hussein’s Iraq was a fine example of a ME country which tried to swallow another ME country. You might add that to your “MO” list.

You also may want to add Iran as well. Their president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said on Wednesday that Israel was “dying” and that people in the Middle East would destroy it if given the chance.

http://news.yahoo.com/s/nm/20080514/wl_nm/iran_israel_ahmadinejad_dc_1;_ylt=AjZJ3Co8eg.Dszfp8kIw7X4E1vAI

Zenobia,

I think if you re-read your statement above, you may begin to realize that you may have been brainwashed a bit over the years.

A different perspective:

http://www.danielpipes.org/article/5552

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May 14th, 2008, 11:18 am

 

22. Leila Abu-Saba said:

Thank you, Shai – that explains the A – I’d wondered about the letter. Everybody refers to Phillips Academy as Andover. Yes, I know of Andover. I’d forgotten that he went there. What a fine lad!

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May 14th, 2008, 11:40 am

 

23. Qifa Nabki said:

Salim al-Hoss is positioning himself to be the transitional PM.

He has called the civil obedience “a mistake”, but he is an old ally of Syria. He is also calling for the immediate election of Suleiman.

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May 14th, 2008, 11:47 am

 

24. Shual said:

Shai,

“The article (unfortunately only in Hebrew – I’m looking for an English version), suggests that such an operation would take place following Bush’s departure…”

Similar words of Barak [“decision in the next weeks”, later changed to “It won’t take another eights years, and not even another year. But tomorrow the situation will not change.” JPost, or still online at Haaretz burt no quote: “Earlier Tuesday, Defense Minister Ehud Barak said that a decision whether to increase military operations in Gaza or agree to a truce deal with Hamas will be made within weeks, speaking during a tour of the western Negev.”] still indicate an short amount of time until the decision will be made. And: Israel will not inaugurate Nehushtan this week and attack Gaza in the next one. Besides that, there is no sense in it, cause the attack level out of Gaza is not very impressing and the civilian victims did not create any popular pressure on Olmert + Barak to become more unpopular with mass-killings of Palestinians.

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May 14th, 2008, 12:37 pm

 

25. Akbar Palace said:

BBC showed just an hilarious report of an IDF night raid in West Bank….No weapons found, the policeman freed and numerous Palestinians “loving” more the occupation power.

Sim,

Did you ever see a BBC report showing “an hilarious report of an IDF night raid” were numerous missile factories and terror cells were found?

Just wondering;)

http://www.cnn.com/2006/WORLD/meast/06/01/wedeman.gaza.btsc/index.html

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May 14th, 2008, 1:23 pm

 

26. mo said:

Akbar Palace,

I love the irony of accusing someone of being brainwashed and then linking to Daniel Pipes.

FYI:
1.) The Zionists did not accept the partition plan. Ben Gurion is on record as stating that he would accept it so they could use the area they were given as a base to take more land while the terrorists like Begin refused it out of hand

2.) Your logic on point 2 it totally flawed. The land they were ‘returning’ through peace was aquired through war. Wars Israel started. How does that square with your argument?

3.) The ‘withdrawl’ from Gaza was because the Gaza aquifer became salinated. And it was hardly a withdrawl. Without the water there was no reason the army should stay and protect the few settlers when they could easily just surround Gaza and put it on lock down. As for Lebanon, withdrawl? The word you are looking for is retreat.

4.) their willingness to negotiate peace with both Syria and Palestine?
Ok, as soon as I see any willingness to negotiate peace with Syria and the Palestinains I’ll let you know. Until then all they are doing is trying to negotiate a surrender.

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May 14th, 2008, 1:32 pm

 

27. EHSANI2 said:

From Jay Solomon of the WSJ this morning:

“Some U.S. officials privately voice fears it may be too late to alter the balance of power inside Lebanon. They note that Hezollah is significantly better-armed and trained than the Lebanese Armed Forces, Lebanon’s police force or the pro-government militias. And these officials also raised doubts about Lebanon Armed Forces’s willingness to fight in defense of Mr. Siniora and the political parties that make up his government”

“There is a lot of frustration here about what can be done”, said a U.S. officials working on Lebanon. “Ultimately, it is the Lebanese who will have to fight”

Jay Solomon heard the above “privately”.

In public of course, President Bush and other U.S. officials said in recent days that the strengthening of the Lebanese Armed Forces is central to Washington’s goal of pushing back Hezbollah while weakening the influence inside Lebanon of the militias’s principal backers, Syria and Iran.

It is what Mr. Sololon heard privately that is more telling I think.

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May 14th, 2008, 1:37 pm

 

28. ugarit said:

“Syrian blogger sentenced to three years in jail” — http://www.iht.com/articles/ap/2008/05/14/africa/ME-GEN-Syria-Blogger.php

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May 14th, 2008, 1:40 pm

 

29. why-discuss said:

Shai

I tend to agree with you than an attack on Gaza is imminent after Bush departure. The failure of US allies in Lebanon and the demonstration of power by Hezbollah MUST be nullified by a swift and violent demonstration of strength by Bush using its willing ally Israel. The easiest target is Gaza and despite the blood that will be shed, they hope that it will humiliate Iran and its allies and create a dynamic where Hamas may come out weaker on the negotiation table.
This war-mongering Bush may push Israel to do this dirty work of rehabilitating US tarnished image and the balance of power: Sick.
Until the last minute, this blood thirsty guy will have his way!

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May 14th, 2008, 1:42 pm

 

30. Leila Abu-Saba said:

Please explain to me – what would yet another attack on Gaza do that’s any different from the effect of all the previous attacks on Gaza? How will such an attack be a “demonstration of strength?”

Seems to me that continuing to attack Gaza is an example of insanity, by the old Alcoholics Anonymous definition: continuing to do the same thing while expecting different results.

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May 14th, 2008, 2:07 pm

 

31. AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Ehsani,
I think what Solomon is reporting is no surprise. If Hizbollah want to, they can take over Lebanon by force, non-withstanding the difficulties in the Chouf. It won’t do them any good and they would pay a heavy price, but they certainly can. I believe though that they won’t take over because they do not want to be responsible for Lebanon. They just want the state as a cover for their weapons.

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May 14th, 2008, 2:30 pm

 

32. EHSANI2 said:

The more relevant issue is what is the U.S. going to do about it.

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May 14th, 2008, 2:56 pm

 

33. AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Nothing in the short term if Hizballah takes over. Just like with the take over of Hamas in Gaza. It will mostly organize international sanctions. Due to the border with Syria they will not hurt Lebanon as much but they will induce many Lebanese to leave and growth in Lebanon will be severly impacted. Also, international loans will end as well as gulf tourism so Hizballah will have to find other ways to pay the rent or face a large economic problem. Perhaps Iran will step up to the plate? We will just have to wait and see.

But given all the above, in my opinion it is highly unlikely that Hizballah would want to take over.

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May 14th, 2008, 3:15 pm

 

34. Shai said:

Why-Discuss,

I don’t think we should see a Gaza operation as carrying out U.S. policy in the region. While it may indeed serve Bush’s crazy interests (GWAT), it would still be an Israeli initiative. I say this not because I’m happy with it, but because the responsibility will lay first and foremost with Israel. We will of course continue the chicken-or-the-egg charade, blaming Hamas for the Qassams, which they’ll blame back for our continued Occupation, and so on. And, in the meantime, hundreds and thousands of innocent lives will be lost. It seems like all the major parties in the region view war as an inevitability and, perhaps, they may be right.

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May 14th, 2008, 3:16 pm

 

35. why-discuss said:

Shai

Israel and the Bush’s US have a strong concordance of rejection of Iran’s growing power and threat to US and Israel interests in the region. Hamas and Hezbollah are supported by Iran. US cannot now attack neither Iran. Their proxies (Israel, Siniora’s government) failed on crushing Hezbollah and Hamas is yet to be crushed by Israel. So you may congratulate yourself that it is an Israel initiative, but ultimately Israel is playing as a proxy to US interests in the region.

Leila Abu-Saba

This time it will be full scale…

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May 14th, 2008, 3:41 pm

 

36. AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Shai,
Do you really think that Syria which didn’t react to the September bombing would go to war over Gaza?
Do you really think Hizballah can afford now to go to war with Israel?

So relax, the chances of a regional war are very slim. Even if the US and and Israel attack Iran, most of the Iranian response would be in Iraq if at all. At this point in time Syria and Hizballah cannot afford to take on Israel.

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May 14th, 2008, 3:42 pm

 

37. Observer said:

My thoughts on how HA has a long term strategy
My take on it is that the HA will continue to fill the void of the absence of a state in all the areas that the Lebanese state has failed to fill.

In the South and with the electoral laws binding people to vote in their district of registration as a method of insuring recurrent incumbency, they broke that mold and they have essentially built the infrastructure to fill that void in housing, health care, and in defense of the population. The old Shia clans and families are out. In the Sunni areas, Hariri ousted the Slams and the Yafis and the Solhs and other luminaries and by so doing will continue to erode the community’s staying power and will push the Sunnis to extremism. In this HA will counter by trying to absorb the disaffected Sunnis with its parallel pan Lebanese troops.

In Dahyieh they did the same and they built a force that is very difficult to penetrate by insisting on having it small. They are also building a parallel force that comprises all the factions in Lebanon and therefore forging the Lebanese identity around the idea of resistance. They are also changing the mentality of the region by showing that the spirit of resistance and the can do attitude that they have implemented is the answer to the current paralysis of the regimes.

The more the action moves away from the state actors to the non state forces in the region, the more entrenched and paralyzed the establishment looks. This is why as I predicted the Sunnis will flock to the Jihadists as they have proven their mettle in Afghanistan, Iraq, Nahr El Bared, and elsewhere.

As the economic situation continues to deteriorate and the peace with Israel dividend shows diminishing returns, the radicals and the absolutists will gain in power in Jordan and in Egypt. In this they will find an example in HA as it has shown how to be flexible and how to stand firm when it comes to its principles. It has shown how to build a community and how to put the resistance card and the deterrence card as a sacred cow that no one can trifle with.

Once this becomes the accepted norm in the area, the regimes trying to wiggle a way to stay in power by selling out on the Palestinian cause will be most surely check mated.

Now some are not convinced that resistance pays and certainly the West is always doing its utmost to keep the spirit and mentality of defeat in the general population prevalent and pervasive. That is one of the reasons that HA are so worrisome to their agenda in the same vein that the nuclear program in Iran is worrisome. Having the bomb is not an issue for the west as it can therefore deter Iran and even ruin its economy in an arms race, what is most worrisome to the powers is that a third world country despite sanctions has achieved near complete literacy and a significant technological breakthrough.

HA has shown that it can fight the most potent machine in the region successfully both with conventional and non conventional techniques and with both technology and guerilla warfare. They can master more than one field and therefore have check mated the Israelis in this.
This inability of Israel in particular and the West in general to limit the nationalist forces to effect both resistance and independence is what makes the situation so dangerous for it leaves them little room but to use limited nuclear weapons. The Shock and Awe debacle has shown the limits of conventional power and the lack of a generational commitment to the effort as we saw in WWII.

Finally, HA will try to show its protagonists in Lebanon that its winning does not automatically translate into their losing. It could have completely wiped out the opposition and the Lebanese army and the UNIFIL if it wanted to yet chose to give them enough save facing to come out and sit and negotiate. Let us see if the coalition will cut its nose despite its face in the next 24 hours. Already the response of Saud Al Faisal is telling as he feels that they “ lost “ instead of looking at it from the perspective of what is good for Lebanon and not only for Saudi backed Sunnis and Christians.

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May 14th, 2008, 3:59 pm

 

38. AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

In any case, following the grad missile that today hit a women health clinic in Ashkelon, there is going to be an operation in Gaza soon.

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May 14th, 2008, 4:00 pm

 

39. Shai said:

AIG,

I completely agree with you about Syria not wishing to go to war over anything (Hamas, HA, even Iran). And also true, if Iran is targeted by the US/Israel/others, none of the other players will get involved, out of fear. But you’ve read my “doomsday scenario” a few times probably, which entails a chain of action-reaction that first involves Hamas-Hezbollah, and then, when Israel starts hitting more than one front at the same time, it could easily provoke Iran, or Israel may hit Syria “on the way”, which then will certainly bring about regional war. I don’t share your optimism regarding Hezbollah not joining in any situation. If there’s a massive ground operation into Gaza, which this time lasts not 4 days, but 34 days like Lebanon 2006, except with many more than 1500 dead, then HA’s 100% rehabilitation, with many many long range missiles, will not be able to sit by idly. HA’s only raison-d’etre for continuing to hold arms, is the resistance to Israel. If Al-Jazeera shows the dead Palestinians hour by hour, it is only a matter of time before HA will feel obligated to respond in support. And then, things could completely deteriorate into a regional war.

Why-Discuss,

I’m not “congratulating” myself, or Israel, on anything. Except, that is, for foolishly not seizing the moment, and making peace with Syria.

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May 14th, 2008, 4:09 pm

 

40. Shai said:

The missile that hit the Ashkelon shopping center caused 14 injured. There will be massive internal pressure for an operation into Gaza. They’ll be “polite enough” to Bush, not to embarrass him, and will wait until his departure on Friday. We should expect something soon… unfortunately.

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May 14th, 2008, 4:16 pm

 

41. AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Observer,

If you think Iran is a success, then by all means Hizballah should take over Lebanon and replicate the “success” there. It surely can take over Lebanon and no one will stop it. Since 2006 Hizballah checkmated themselves. Not only can’t they stage any operations against Israel because of the new rules of the game, they have lost their legitimacy in the eyes of many in Lebanon.

As for cutting its nose despite its face, this is exactly the strategy that the “resistance” have been using with Israel. Hizballah sacrificed Lebanon to hurt Israel. Hamas sacrificed Gaza to hurt Israel. It seems to be a favorite strategy in the middle east.

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May 14th, 2008, 4:17 pm

 

42. AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Shai,
I couldn’t disagree more about Hizballah joining the battle to help Gaza. If they do it, it will completely erode the support they have left in Lebanon. Most Lebanese support the Palestinians but would be against risking Lebanon for their sake. Also, Hizballah has to think about its internal front at this time. But unfortunately we shall soon see who is right.

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May 14th, 2008, 4:21 pm

 

43. Alex said:

FROM WND’S JERUSALEM BUREAU

Saudis secretly funneled weapons to anti-Hezbollah forces
U.S.-approved shipments preceded gunbattles paralyzing Lebanon

Posted: May 11, 2008
5:41 pm Eastern

By Aaron Klein
© 2008 WorldNetDaily

JERUSALEM – With U.S. approval, Saudi Arabia in recent months provided weaponry to militias associated with anti-Syrian Lebanese opposition leaders to bolster them against the Hezbollah terror organization, informed security officials told WND.

The information follows five days of heavy street clashes pitting anti-Syrian gunmen against Hezbollah forces in and around Beirut that has reportedly left 54 dead and much of the country paralyzed.

It also follows a public dispute the past few months between Iranian-allied Syria and U.S.-backed Saudi Arabia, both seemingly vying for more control in several Mideast arenas.

The Saudi weapons were provided to militias associated with Lebanon’s Druze leader Walid Jumblatt, Parliament Leader Saad Hariri, and former president Amin Gemayel, according to security officials.

The weapons mostly consisted of assault rifles, rocket propelled grenades, and combat equipment such as military boot, tents and night-vision goggles, the officials said.

The weapons may have been put to use during urban warfare battles yesterday between Hezbollah and Jumblatt followers in the town of Aley, east of Beirut. At least two people were killed and four wounded in those clashes.

Informed security officials say the Saudi weapons were used by pro-democracy gunmen battling Hezbollah forces since Hezbollah started the violence last week after the Lebanese government decided to dismantle and take legal action against Hezbollah’s communications network amid accusations the terror group set up a system to monitor the travels of anti-Syrian Lebanese figures.

The Lebanese Army has largely stayed out of the clashes, which have been fought mostly with assault rifles and rocket-propelled grenades. The fighting paralyzed most of Lebanon, shut down the country’s international airport, confined the pro-Western Lebanese government to their secured compounds and violently closed media outlets controlled by the Hariri family.

(Story continues below)

Hezbollah is now thought to control large swaths of northern Beirut, once considered a stronghold for the pro-democracy groups.

In a major victory for Hezbollah and its Iranian and Syrian backers, the Lebanese army yesterday reversed two cabinet resolutions that would have seen Hezbollah’s communications network dismantled and would have removed the chief of Beirut Airport’s security, Major General Wafiq Shukeir, who has ties to Hezbollah. The resolutions were used by Hezbollah as pretext to start the violence.

Prime Minister Siniora announced yesterday he was putting the two issues into the hands of the army, which said in a statement it was keeping Shukeir at his post and that it would handle the Hezbollah communications network in a way “that would not harm public interest and the security of the resistance.”

Hezbollah may hold off for more, refusing to withdraw its forces until the group’s longstanding demand of veto power over the Lebanese parliament is met.

The Saudi arms report follows a major diplomatic crisis between the Kingdom and Syria.

WND broke the story last month how Syria floated a proposal that if the U.S. helps facilitate billions of dollars in business for Syria and builds up Damascus as the primary American ally in the Arab world in place of Saudi Arabia, the Syrians would be willing to discuss scaling back alliances with Iran and making peace with Israel.

A Syrian official said Syria conveyed this message to numerous visiting foreign dignitaries, including U.S. congressmen and Turkish mediators.

He said Syria also demanded as a key condition for considering altering its alliances that the U.S. cease opposing Syrian influence in Lebanon.

“Syria is the key to the Arab world. We have influence with Hezbollah and Lebanon and hold many cards in the Palestinian and Iraqi arenas. The U.S. needs to rethink the value of the investment it places in Saudi Arabia,” said the official, who spoke by phone from Damascus on condition his name be withheld.

The main Syrian request was that America uphold Damascus as its main “partner” in the Arab world instead of Saudi Arabia, said the Syrian official.

He said in exchange Damascus would discuss severing “many ties” with Iran, but he would not specify which ties and whether Syria is willing to cut off all coordination with the Iranians.

“We are ready to significantly and deeply reduce relations with our Iranian brothers if conditions are met,” the official said.

The request was said to have angered Saudi Arabia, prompting a major crisis between Damascus and the Saudis.

The Syrian-Saudi row was highlighted at last months’s Arab Summit, a major annual meeting of Arab leaders held this year in Damascus. Saudi Arabia sent only a low-level representative – which was seen as a major snub to Syria – and used the platform to blast Syria.

According to knowledgeable Arab diplomatic sources, Saudi Arabia wanted to boycott the event altogether, but sent the low-level delegation to uphold its record of attending every Arab Summit.

The U.S., though, seems to have rejected the Syria overture. Last week, President Bush extended U.S. sanctions against Syria for another year following Israel’s strike last September against what the White House said was a Syrian nuclear reactor being built with the assistance of North Korea.

To interview Aaron Klein, contact M. Sliwa Public Relations by e-mail, or call 973-272-2861 or 212-202-4453.

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May 14th, 2008, 4:26 pm

 

44. Alex said:

So .. what is it with these leaks about how M14 groups are funded by Saudis and trained by the Israelis? .. and htat they are really so weak that they can not pose ANY threat to Hizbollah …

Someone out there really wants Hizbollah to try to finish them?

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May 14th, 2008, 4:29 pm

 

45. Akbar Palace said:

Mo responds:

1.) The Zionists did not accept the partition plan. Ben Gurion is on record as stating that he would accept it …

“Did not accept” or “would accept”? Sounds to me you’re confused. Here’s a summary showing the “defacto Israeli government” (aka Jewish Agency) accepted partition.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1947_UN_Partition_Plan

2.) Your logic on point 2 it totally flawed. The land they were ‘returning’ through peace was aquired through war. Wars Israel started. How does that square with your argument?

My logic would be flawed if Israel wssn’t at war with her neighbros PRIOR to capturing the Sinai or West Bank or Gaza in 1967. However, considering that Israel was at war with the Arabs even over the tiny areas proposed in the ’47 partition plan that the Arabs rejected, it is actually your “logic” that is flawed.

3.) The ‘withdrawl’ from Gaza was because the Gaza aquifer became salinated. And it was hardly a withdrawl.

Right, Israel withdraws from land and Arabs like you pretend it didn’t happen. And what does “hardly a withdraw” mean?

4.) their willingness to negotiate peace with both Syria and Palestine?

Ok, as soon as I see any willingness to negotiate peace with Syria and the Palestinains I’ll let you know. Until then all they are doing is trying to negotiate a surrender.

It takes 2 to tango. Just ask Jordan & Eygpt.

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May 14th, 2008, 4:30 pm

 

46. Alex said:

Barry loves Syria.

Lebanon to West: Wake Up Fast!
Barry Rubin
May 12, 2008

While America’s secretary of state devotes her time to doomed Israel-Palestinian talks and America goes ga-ga over a candidate whose main foreign policy strategy is to talk to dictators, still another crisis strengthens radical Islamists and endangers Western friends and interests.

William Butler Yeats said it best: “Things fall apart; the center cannot hold; Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world, The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere, The ceremony of innocence is drowned; The best lack all conviction, while the worst , Are full of passionate intensity.”

The “best” are often too innocent indeed, sunk in constant self-criticism, persuading themselves they must atone for having done too much in the past by doing nothing in the present, trying to convince the other side of their niceness and sensitivity. Their priority is to ensure no one will accuse them of being imperialistic. And to prove it they will let another country fall into the enemy camp.

The Lebanese logjam has broken at last as Hizballah seized west Beirut and inflicted a big defeat on the pro-government side.

While Iran and Syria provide guns and strong backing to their friends, the West responds with words backed by nothing. Who can blame Hizballah and Damascus and Tehran for laughing with contempt, believing they are the tide of the future, assuming their “passionate intensity” will inevitably triumph over the weak-willed West?

The historic great powers act as pitiful, helpless giants but their enemies will take no pity on them. In short, Hizballah is pulling a two-stage version of Hamas’s Gaza strategy in Lebanon and no one does anything effective about that either.

What Spain was in 1936; Lebanon is today.

Does anyone remember the Spanish Civil War? Briefly, a fascist revolt took place against the democratic government. The rebels were motivated by several factors, including anger that their religion had not been given enough respect and regional grievances, but essentially they sought to put their ideology and themselves into power. Nazi Germany and Fascist Italy backed the rebels with money and guns. The Western democracies stood by and did nothing.

>Guess who won? And guess whether that outcome led to peace or world war.

Funny, I thought September 11 changed everything.

Why should Lebanese Sunni, Druze, and Christians risk their lives when the West doesn’t help them? Every Israeli speaking nonsense about Syria making peace; every American claiming Damascus might split from Tehran; every European preaching appeasement has in fact been engaged in confidence-breaking measures.

Hizballah doesn’t need to win a military victory but only to show it can win one, using that position of strength to try to force its demands on the moderate government. . The government has already accepted Michel Suleiman, Syria’s candidate for president. But Hizballah and the rest say this is not enough: they want veto power over everything.

The goal of Hizballah, and its Syrian and Iranian backers at present is not the full conquest of Lebanon–something beyond their means–but to control the government so it does nothing they dislike: no strong relations with the West, no ability to stop war against Israel, no disarming Hizballah’s militias or countering that group’s control over large parts of the country, and certainly no investigation of Syrian involvement in terrorism there.

Why, three years after Damascus ordered the murder of former prime minister Rafiq Hariri do investigators dawdle, having edited out the names of top Syrian officials they blamed for the killing in their initial report?

Israel bombed a nuclear reactor being built in Syria. Rice reportedly opposed the action. The world yawned.

Iran drives for nuclear weapons. There is some effort but too little, too slow. Whether or not the war in Iraq was a mistake, when terrorists murdered Iraqi civilians, much of the West blamed America; all too many Americans agreed.

Far too much Western media, intellectual–sometimes political life–reviles Israel. But Israel is no threat to them; other forces are. And events in Lebanon are one more proof that the Israel-Palestinian conflict is only a portion, say one-fifth, of the wider Middle East crisis.

Many in the West think Israel will pay the price for their follies. But Israel is ready to do what it needs for its self-defense. If anything, the mistakes of the last round in Lebanon reinforced this determination.

Instead, the main victims will be Arabs, mostly Muslims, in Afghanistan, Gaza, Iraq, and Lebanon, killed by the various Jihad groups, or ruled by them where they take power or dominate through intimidation. And second they will be Western interests, which would not fare well in a region dominated by a combination of Islamists and those who feel they have no choice but to appease them.

When Senator and presidential candidate Barack Obama says he will negotiate with Syria and Iran over Iraq’s future, he signals every Persian Gulf regime to cut its own deal with Iran. When his stances convince Hamas that he’s the guy for them; when Iran and Syria conclude they merely need stand defiant and wait until January 21 for any existing pressure vanishes, the U.S. position in the Middle East is being systematically destroyed.

Note that this does not make Obama the candidate favored by Arabs in general but only by the radicals. Egyptians, Jordanians, Gulf Arabs, and the majorities in Lebanon and Iraq are very worried. This is not just an Israel problem; it is one for all non-extremists in the region.

If the dictators and terrorists are smiling, it means everyone else is crying.

The Syrian and Iranian regimes know that while they may walk through the valley of the shadow of sanctions they need fear nothing because there are all too many who comfort them.

After all, if the UN human rights committee is run by Libya, if UNIFIL forces in Lebanon tread lightly so Hizballah won’t be angry with them, if Westerners tremble and repeal freedom of speech lest some Muslims be offended, why should the “bad guys” worry?

Yet the West doesn’t have to play it stupid forever. Now is the time for energetic action on Lebanon to wipe that confident sneer off their faces. To contain Iran and Syria, to buck up the Lebanese government side and all those Arabs who, whatever their faults, don’t want to live in an Islamist caliphate.

If you want to know what’s wrong, consider Obama’s May 10 statement on Lebanon. He starts out playing tough, talking about “Hezbollah’s power grab in Beirut….This effort to undermine Lebanon’s elected government needs to stop, and all those who have influence with Hezbollah must press them to stand down immediately.” He calls for supporting the Lebanese government, strengthening the Lebanese army, and to “insist on disarming Hezbollah.”

But how to do this? By “working with the international with the international community and the private sector to rebuild Lebanon and get its economy back on its feet.”

In other words, according to the Obama world view, it’s a problem of development. If people have more money they won’t be terrorists. Of course, that was the policy of Hariri, which was countered by Syria blowing him up. In politics, bombs trump business. And any way you can’t have a strong economy with no government and chaos. Part of the mistake here is Obama’s assumption that Hizballah (and other radicals) want stability and prosperity. In fact, they want to use instability as blackmail in their pursuit of power. They don’t want conciliation. It’s a military-strategic problem, not one of community organizing.

The statement continues: “We must support the implementation of UN Security Council Resolutions that reinforce Lebanon’s sovereignty, especially resolution 1701 banning the provision of arms to Hezbollah, which is violated by Iran and Syria.”

Great. But the UN is no substitute for U.S. power. As David Schenker of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy writes, “It is highly unlikely that the UN — which failed to even prevent the rearming of Hizballah–would agree to more dangerous deployments in Lebanon.” America doesn’t need a president whose solution is to turn over crises to the UN.

Nor can Obama pass the buck to Lebanon’s army. Its commander is Syria’s presidential candidate, its soldiers are mostly pro-Hizballah, and the quarter-billion dollars of U.S. aid given since 2006 may well become additional assets for Tehran.

As President Harry Truman said of the president’s desk, the buck stops here. So the president of the United States must take the lead, be tough, and make credible threats. What’s needed is not a conciliator but a confronter.

These are the questions Obama isn’t even pretending to try to answer: Are you willing to fight on this issue? To defy an “international community” that opposes action? To intimidate and defeat the radicals? Answer: No.

But here’s the worst part that few in America but everyone in Lebanon will understand all too well:

“It’s time to engage in diplomatic efforts to help build a new Lebanese consensus that focuses on electoral reform, an end to the current corrupt patronage system, and the development of the economy that provides for a fair distribution of services, opportunities and employment.”

Here, make no mistake, Obama is endorsing the Hizballah program. It wants a new Lebanese consensus based on it having, along with its pro-Syrian allies, 51 percent of the power. What’s needed is not consensus (the equivalent being getting Fatah and Hamas to bury their differences, or bringing in Iran and Syria to determine Iraq’s future) but the willingness to fight a battle. In effect, Obama without realizing it, is arguing for a Syrian-, Iranian-, and Hizballah-dominated Lebanon. Such talk makes moderate Arabs despair.

Here, at the “From Beirut to Beltway” blog, is a typical, sarcastic, reaction by Lebanese government supporters:

“Oh the time we wasted by fighting Hizballah all those years….If only we had engaged them and their masters in diplomacy…sitting with them around discussion tables, welcoming them into our parliament, and letting them veto cabinet decisions. If only Obama had shared his wisdom with us before, back when he was rallying with some of our former friends at pro-Palestinian rallies in Chicago. How stupid we were when, instead of developing `national consensus’ with them, we organized media campaigns against Israel on behalf of the impoverished people who voted for them.

“During that time when we bought into the cause against Israel, treating resistance fighters like our brothers, we really should have been `building consensus’ with them. Because what we did…was…unnecessary antagonism, a product of a `corrupt patronage system and unfair distribution of wealth.'”

“We stand today regretting the wasted time that could have been wisely spent talking to them, to the Syrian occupiers who brought them into our system, and the Iranian revolutionary guards who trained them.[1]

The battle isn’t over, which is all the more reason for real–not just verbal–international action. Hizballah has made its point for the moment, that it is the most powerful and to it every knee must bend. Yet without serious political and diplomatic support for Lebanon’s government and real costs inflicted on Syria and Iran, the battle will be lost eventually.

For all those in the West who don’t like Israel, then at least help the people you pretend to like. Back the Lebanese government with real power and aid, covertly or overtly, those battling the radical forces in Lebanon.

Rick: “Sam, if it’s December 1941 in Casablanca, what time is it in New York?”

Sam: “Um, my watch stopped.”

Rick: “I bet they’re asleep in New York. I’ll bet they’re asleep all over America.”
[1] http://www.beirutbeltway.com/beirutbeltway/2008/05/obama-time-to-e.html

Barry Rubin is director of the Global Research in International Affairs (GLORIA) Center and editor of the Middle East Review of International Affairs Journal. His latest books are The Israel-Arab Reader (seventh edition), with Walter Laqueur (Viking-Penguin); the paperback edition of The Truth About Syria (Palgrave-Macmillan); A Chronological History of Terrorism, with Judy Colp Rubin, (Sharpe); and The Long War for Freedom: The Arab Struggle for Democracy in the Middle East (Wiley).

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May 14th, 2008, 4:31 pm

 

47. Akbar Palace said:

AIG said:

Hizballah sacrificed Lebanon to hurt Israel. Hamas sacrificed Gaza to hurt Israel. It seems to be a favorite strategy in the middle east.

I think we can safely draw the necessary conclusion:

People and individuals come last in the Middle East, and only the most dangerous THUG rules the day.

If only Finland were so lucky.

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May 14th, 2008, 4:34 pm

 

48. Shai said:

AIG,

I do hope you’re right. Because if in any format whatsoever HA joins the fight, while Israel is amidst a Gaza operation, things could deteriorate very badly for the whole region.

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May 14th, 2008, 4:44 pm

 

49. Alex said:

Akbar,

Can you rate for me today the different leaders along your THUG scale?

Here are the leaders who are playing in the Middle East. I would like to see you rate them and to read about your criteria in finalizing those ratings.

President Bush
Bashar Assad
Olmert (and cabinet)
Nasrallah
Junblatt (and Seniora and Geagea ..)
Khaaled Meshal
Saudi King
Ahmadinejad

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May 14th, 2008, 4:50 pm

 

50. AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Alex,
Could you rate for me the countries in which you would rather live?
1) US
2) Syria
3) Israel
4) Lebanon
5) Gaza
6) Saudi
7) Iran

If you were forced to move, what would your preferences be?

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May 14th, 2008, 4:53 pm

 

51. Alex said:

More good news for “Arab Moderates”

Last update – 16:42 14/05/2008
Poll: Abbas’ popularity has slipped dramatically since January
By The Associated Press
Tags: Palestinian poll, Barghouti

The approval rating of the Palestinian government in the West Bank has dropped 13 percentage points since January and President Mahmoud Abbas would have trouble winning if elections were held now, according to a poll published Wednesday.

The poll was conducted at a time of growing Palestinian frustration over
stalled peace talks with Israel and a stagnant economy. Negotiations on the so-called core issues – the borders of a Palestinian state, a division of Jerusalem and the fate of Palestinian refugees – resumed earlier this year.
Advertisement
Abbas and his prime minister, Salam Fayyad, are being hurt by the lack of
progress, according to pollster Nader Said. “This goes to illustrate that
Palestinians will always come back to the core issues,” he said. “Not to make progress on these issues will harm the stakeholders trying to achieve a solution.”

The survey was conducted among 1,200 Palestinians by an independent think
tank, Arab World For Research & Development, and had an error margin of 3
percentage points.

The poll indicated that Marwan Barghouti, an imprisoned militant leader, is by far the most popular Palestinian politician. Barghouti is serving five life sentences in an Israeli prison for involvement in attacks that killed four Israelis and a Greek monk.

In a presidential race, Barghouti, a former leader of Abbas’ Fatah movement in the West Bank, would comfortably defeat the head of the Hamas government in Gaza, Ismail Haniyeh, by 47 percent to 29 percent. If Abbas were to run against Haniyeh, he’d get 32 percent to Haniyeh’s 34 percent.
Abbas’ term formally ends in January, but it’s unlikely presidential elections will be held in the current political climate.

Hamas seized power in Gaza by force a year ago, and Abbas says he won’t talk to the Islamic militants unless they cede control there.

In parliament elections, Fatah would win 47 percent of the vote, down from 53 percent in January. Hamas would come in second, with 37 percent, but has gained ground from its 32 percent rating in January.

Abbas’ government, meanwhile, is slipping in popularity. Only 20 percent of respondents said Prime Minister Fayyad is doing a good job, compared to 31 percent in January. Another 25 percent said the government’s performance is average, compared to 27 percent in January.

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May 14th, 2008, 4:54 pm

 

52. Alex said:

AIG and Akbar,

why don’t we start with my question since I asked first?

There is this confidence in Akbar’s comments that he represents some “good” entity against the Thugs. I would like him to tell me how he decides to brand some people thugs and how does he come up with his “the most dangerous THUG” selection.

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May 14th, 2008, 4:58 pm

 

53. norman said:

Observer,
that was a great analysis , I agree.

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May 14th, 2008, 5:06 pm

 

54. Zenobia said:

Akbar,
all your examples are ‘peace’ or cease fire type peace after waring. Not peaceful measures from the start.

Daniel Pipes, Akbar??? this man is one of the most revolting people in America. You should really not promote him. Nobody will listen to you. Pipes is really scum in my book.

anyhow, i still think Norman is right. Few people are praising HA ideology, they just admire their prowess. Just as Israelis have admired their military leaders and made them the political leaders.

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May 14th, 2008, 5:20 pm

 

55. AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Alex,
Look, if a person prefers to live in the US relative to Syria, does that not mean that he is less afraid of Bush than he is of Asad?

A leader needs to be judged first and foremost by how he treats his own people. If he treates them badly, he is a thug.

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May 14th, 2008, 5:21 pm

 

56. AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Zenobia,
You are way oversimplifying matters. Let’s say there were a great Israeli general that would support Israel becoming a religious state and support suicide attacks against Arab civillians, do you think he would get much votes if any in Israel? He would be ridiculed inspite of the fact that he is a great general.

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May 14th, 2008, 5:26 pm

 

57. Alex said:

AIG

First you assumed I prefer to live in the United States over Syria.

Second, .. according to you, an Israeli leader is still not a thug if he kills thousands of Lebanese civilians as long as he kills no Israelis.

Who do you define “his people”? … if Lebanon had 50$ Lebanese Jews and Hizbollah killed two Israeli soldiers like in 2006, then Israel retaliated by killing 1500 Lebanese but half were Jews … would you say that Olmert now is the biggest thug because he killed hundreds of his own people?

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May 14th, 2008, 5:29 pm

 

58. AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Let me make the following claim to show how irrational are the Hizballah supporters in the West. I claim that if Hizballah takes over Lebanon, these supporters would not go back to Lebanon. Furthermore, they would sell their property there and try to get their remaining family members out. That is how much they support Hizballah.

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May 14th, 2008, 5:30 pm

 

59. Naji said:

So, was Einstein in Alcoholics Anonymous…??!

I just spent hours reading the old MacDous Files, and for my money, this is the most astute, informed, and learned Observer we have around here… seriously…!! Perhaps of a somewhat leftist, and even a pan-arabist, bent… an Azmi Bishara or better… but certainly more formidably and less angry than Abu Khalil…

I would really appreciate some Observer thoughts on the FPM and their General…!? They seem to me just as idealistic and principled as HA, but even more invested in a long-term project for a Lebanese state…! Not nearly as well organized or coherent as HA, of course…

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May 14th, 2008, 5:33 pm

 

60. Shai said:

Zenobia,

We’ve actually had a few such extremist generals, who never got very far in politics, and certainly never became leaders. Ze’evi, for instance, was one of the first that coined the term “transfer” of the Palestinians. He was assassinated by a few Palestinians. We also have our fair share of idiot generals, such as Matan Vilanai, who (aside from his mouth), tends to be very left-wing. But, as you may recall, he too recently coined another term “holocaust” of the Palestinians in Gaza. In fact, given Barak’s failures as PM, and those of quite a few other generals positioned as top ministers (Defense, etc.), Israelis are growing tired of the general-politicians. It won’t be easy to completely get rid of them yet and, some truly are very smart and capable, but I would say there is a tendency to look at them differently today, more than before.

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May 14th, 2008, 5:36 pm

 

61. AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Alex,
If you had to leave Canada and choose either the US or Syria, and stay there at least 5 years, where would you go? Where would most Syrians living abroad go?

Was FDR a thug because he killed millions of Japanese and Germans? No. Olmert is not a thug because he had no intention of killing 1,500 Lebanese. He wanted to protect Israel.

If Olmert would bomb Jews because of Hizballah he would not only be an idiot but also a thug. Your example shows why Hizballah are thugs for killing 50 Israeli Arabs.

A thug is measured by how one treats his own people. If you kill and oppress your own people you are a thug.

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May 14th, 2008, 5:36 pm

 

62. Shai said:

AIG, Alex,

I want to suggest another way of looking at the “Thug” definition. In WWII, General Curtis Lemay admitted on a few occasions that had the U.S. lost the war against Japan, that he, as well as some other leaders, would have been prosecuted as war criminals. Under his command, 100,000 Japanese were burned to death in one night, in a raid using fire-bombs over Tokyo. It was also his command that delivered the two atomic bombs later in the war.

Well, what makes it moral if you win, but immoral if you lose? Few leaders in this world could not be labeled “thugs”. But most could.

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May 14th, 2008, 5:51 pm

 

63. Alex said:

AIG said:

“If Olmert would bomb Jews because of Hizballah he would not only be an idiot but also a thug.”

So you are saying that the life of a Lebanese Jew should be protected at any cost, but the life of a Christian or Sunni Lebanese is ok to terminate as part of collateral damage of the “necessary” Israeli army invasion of Lebanon … that invasion which would not have been necessary anymore if Lebanon had some of the more valuable type of humans .. Jews, not the disposable types .. the Christians and Muslims.

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May 14th, 2008, 5:54 pm

 

64. abraham said:

AIG, your comment at 5:36pm only serves to demonstrate how alien your worldview is to most humans.

A thug is a thug is a thug. There is no set definition, and it certainly doesn’t rest on how many of one’s own people one kills. Saddam was a thug. Pinochet was a thug. Ariel Sharon was a thug. They are all universally condemned because of the one trait they all have in common: they killed people without reserve nor remorse.

And FYI, FDR died before Harry Truman (the same idiot that recognized Israel when it declared statehood) dropped the bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Of the three thugs I mentioned above, none hold a cadle to this unrepentent lunatic who mass-murdered hundreds of thousands of innocent people.

But anyway, I like the way you use weasle words and definitions to absolve Israel of it’s own thuggery. Very nice!

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May 14th, 2008, 5:56 pm

 

65. abraham said:

Two interesting articles today about the increasing fad amongst US politicians to express their absolute devotion and fealty to Israel.

Obama vs. The Lobby: No matter how much he grovels, it’s never enough
http://www.antiwar.com/justin/?articleid=12834

Finding Obama guilty of insufficient devotion to Israel
http://www.salon.com/opinion/greenwald/2008/05/13/obama/index.html

Americans are starting to notice this and are finding it “funny”. Not in the “haha” sense but more along the lines of “WTF?”

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May 14th, 2008, 6:00 pm

 

66. AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Alex,
No, that is not what I am saying. Olmert’s job is to protect Israelis and Jews because that is what he was elected for and not because the life of a Jew or Israeli is worth more. Just as it is the Syrian army’s job to protect Syrians and not Israelis or Jews that are not Syrian citizens. Was it the responsibility of Syria to release the Israelis and Jews captured in Entebe? No, it was the responsibility of the Israeli government.

Olmert has a job description just like any other leader in the world. His desccription is “Protect Israelis and Jews”. The Candian PM’s description is “Protect Canadians”. That does not mean that the life of a Jew or Israeli is worth more than that of a Candian or vice versa.

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May 14th, 2008, 6:04 pm

 

67. Alex said:

AIG,

So what if Bush’s job description was “protect Americans and Protestants” …. Ahmadinejad’s “Protect Iranians and Shia” ….

So … following Israel’s supposedly non-racist job description, Ahmadinejad can send 200,000 troops to Lebanon to protect “the Shia” and still be a noble man who is trying to do his job.

You now .. he is doing a good job protecting Iranians so far … not many are dying, and he is supposedly even working hard to give them nuclear deterrence capability against the Jews who have 200-300 nuclear bombs… how can we call him a thug then??

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May 14th, 2008, 6:12 pm

 

68. abraham said:

That does not mean that the life of a Jew or Israeli is worth more than that of a Candian or vice versa.

Wow, a stunning admission. But we need to clarify: are we talking about all Canadians or Canadian Jews only?

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May 14th, 2008, 6:14 pm

 

69. Alex said:

Shai,

I actually came up once with “a formula” that makes the job of a THUG rater easier … it is more consistent and more fair.

I will work on it again and maybe I’ll post it … it is meant to estimate (not measure) how much of damage each leader did to humanity, not only to his own people.

I think AIG does not need me to remind him of a few thugs who protected their own people but killed many others unnecessarily.

Where is Simo??

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May 14th, 2008, 6:19 pm

 

70. AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Alex,
We have already discussed it many times. Jews are both a nation and a religion. Get used to it.

Jad is a thug because as most Iranians admit, he is opressing his people. Did Israel even once say it wanted to “wipe Iran of the map”? Who started all the threats.

You are claiming Israel wants to kill Iranians for no good reason. Show me one proof of that.

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May 14th, 2008, 6:20 pm

 

71. Alex said:

AIG,

You need to slow down and read exactly what I am saying, then you need to list facts, not your AIPAC opinions… just as I don’t rely on Teshreen adn AL-Manar for my “facts” … I don’t remember any poll asking the opinion of “most Iranians” if Ahmadinejad is oppressing them… besides, we were talking about killing, not “oppressing” … unless we now need to start defining THUGS as “oppressors” .. in that case we need also to define the softer word “oppression”.

We are discussing the Shia people, not “Iranians”… just like the Jewish people. If you give yourself the right to call Israel a Jewish state even though Jews are 80% only of Israel, then Iran has the right to call itself A Shia state .. over 90% Shia and, just like you represent and protect Jews on planet earth, they represent and protect the Shia on this planet.

So my example was: Therefore, if Ahmadinejad decided after summer 2006 that in order to protect “the Sia nation” he needs to send 200,000 troops to Lebanon, then he won’t be a thug.

Hey I have a better one … after Junblatt’s people kidnpped and killed and cut into pieces the bodies of three SHia youngmen this week, then Ahmadinejad should have used Israel’s example when it invaded and killed 1500 non-Jewish Lebanese people after TWO (not three) of its soldiers were killed.

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May 14th, 2008, 6:28 pm

 

72. Zenobia said:

AIG,
umm. ok. Menachem Begin was in Irgun, and later he was part of the military of Israel, and he got elected….

and, Shai, i am not sure i understand you. Isn’t almost every Israeli prime minister or president (before Olmert) a former military leader… ?

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May 14th, 2008, 6:29 pm

 

73. Naji said:

I like Abraham’s comments @ 5:56 and 6:00 pm…!! The man has his moments… and only 4 minutes apart…!!

I am reminded of Tony Judt’s Ha’aretz article on Israel’s 56th birthday (I think)… He probably wont bother on the 60th B-day…!

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May 14th, 2008, 6:30 pm

 

74. Shai said:

Alex,

Trying to quantify the “thugness” of various world leaders in the present or the past is a useless exercise. It’ll only make us all very pessimistic about the future… Let’s instead focus on getting our local thugs talking to each other, rather than conniving against one another. As always, it is only the people that pay the price, not the leaders. They sit comfortably in their protected shelters, giving orders, smoking cigars, and rolling the dice that is our lives.

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May 14th, 2008, 6:34 pm

 

75. AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Alex,
Please explain? Are the Shia people a nation? The Shia are not like the Jews because that is not how they have self defined themselves.

Iran executes plenty of its people by the way, it is well documented. Besides, check above I wrote:
“A thug is measured by how one treats his own people. If you kill and oppress your own people you are a thug.”

I don’t see why Jad would be a thug if he decided to send an army to help protect Lebanon against Israel if the Lebanese government agrees. Your example with the two Shia killed is not relevant. If two Jews are killed in France, Israel would not attack France.

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May 14th, 2008, 6:41 pm

 

76. Qifa Nabki said:

Observer,

Thanks for your response. The picture you paint does not bode so well for Lebanon, in my opinion. You are essentially saying that Hizbullah has no intention of disarming and helping to build a strong Lebanese state in which it is an equal partner.

Is that correct?

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May 14th, 2008, 6:50 pm

 

77. Qifa Nabki said:

Alex

Did you ever answer AIG’s question about where you would like to live?

By the way, does anyone on this blog besides Naji actually live in Syria?

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May 14th, 2008, 6:52 pm

 

78. Alex said:

AIG

Ok, Jews in France are not protected by Olmert. Then Olmert’s job description should be modified

“to protect Israelis and Jews in Lebanon only”?

or

“to protect Israelis and Jews in Muslim countries only”?

Where do you draw the line about Israel’s right to protect Jews?

And if Iran does not officially define itself as a Shia nation, I don’t think the Saudis and the M14 clowns are going to believe that Iran is not a Shia nation.

I have news for you … Iran will not allow they Shia Hizbollah to be defeated by your Jewish Israel … because in reality both of you are messed up states that mix religion in a very unhealthy way

Israel Iran and Saudi Arabia (the protectors of Sunni religion) are fundamentally dangerous for stability and peace int he area.

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May 14th, 2008, 6:53 pm

 

79. Naji said:

…or Lebanon?!
Just curious…

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May 14th, 2008, 6:54 pm

 

80. norman said:

Turkey says its mediation could result in direct talks between Syria and Israel

The Associated Press
Wednesday, May 14, 2008
ISTANBUL, Turkey: Turkey’s foreign minister said Wednesday that his country’s efforts to mediate a renewal of peace talks between Syria and Israel have been ongoing for a year, but that any direct talks between the foes will take more time.

Ali Babacan told reporters that the two sides could meet in the presence of Turkish mediators at some point in the future if progress is made. In the meantime, his nation will continue to act as a go-between, he said.

His remarks were the latest sign of some tempered optimism over back-channel contacts between Israel and Syria despite heightened tension over an Israeli airstrike in September on a site in Syria that U.S. intelligence officials contend was an unfinished nuclear reactor.

“The two sides do not talk face to face at the moment and it will not happen for some time,” Babacan said in response to a reporter’s question.

“But they will perhaps find the opportunity to do so in Turkey’s presence if progress is made,” he said at a joint news conference alongside his British counterpart, David Miliband, in the capital, Ankara.

Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan said last month that Turkey was trying to help start lower level negotiations between Israel and Syria. Turkey has been relaying messages between the two sides.

Babacan said Wednesday that the efforts have been under way for nearly a year.

Israel and Syria last held direct peace talks in 2000, but the negotiations failed over the details of Israel’s proposed withdrawal from Golan Heights, which it seized in the 1967 Mideast War.

Syria demands a full return of the territory, but Israel wanted to keep a small strip of land along the Sea of Galilee to ensure its control of its vital water supplies.

Israel also demands Syria halt its support for militant groups, including Lebanon’s Hezbollah and the Palestinian groups Hamas and Islamic Jihad.

The current contacts are taking place despite high tensions between the two, largely stemming from the Israeli airstrike in September.

U.S. intelligence officials presented evidence to the U.S. Congress last month that they say supports their case that Syria was building a nuclear reactor with North Korean assistance before Israel destroyed it.

Syria says the site was an unused military facility.

——————————————————————————–
Notes:

——————————————————————————–
Copyright © 2008 The International Herald Tribune | http://www.iht.com

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May 14th, 2008, 6:54 pm

 

81. Observer said:

Not entirely QN. If it finds enough partners to insure that the state functions as such ans stop being a failed one, it will disarm, and this will happen after it has become completely embedded in the very soil of Lebanon. In allegorical terms, it will become of the same fixture in Lebanon as the beautiful women of the beaches and the famous nightlife of the city. It will not replace it, but become part and parcel of it.

Now I will include this analysis from Le Monde today which goes along what Thomas Friedman wrote in the NYT and what I said before. Slowly and surely, the region will be essentially governed by Iran and the US with the US having to check with Tehran on every move

Here it is
La dégradation brutale de la crise libanaise et les dizaines de morts qu’elle a provoquées n’auront en fait surpris personne. La transformation d’une impasse politique en conflit armé fratricide était même redoutée de longue date. Globalement stabilisé mercredi 14 mai, ce conflit menace de reprendre à tout instant sous l’effet d’une dynamique de haine solidement ancrée dans la société libanaise. Si les composantes strictement intérieures et les interférences étrangères (syro-iraniennes ou occidentales) restent encore difficiles à évaluer, il n’en demeure pas moins que cette crise constitue le deuxième exemple au Proche-Orient, après l’Irak, de conflit armé entre communautés chiite et sunnite, si on met de côté le cas très particulier de la rébellion zaydite contre le pouvoir central yéménite.

Que le Liban en soit le théâtre relève de la pure logique puisqu’il s’agit du seul pays où la deuxième grande famille musulmane pèse d’un poids significatif. Les chiites sont certes majoritaires numériquement au Bahrein mais leur lutte pour une plus grande prise en compte des intérêts de leur communauté n’y a jamais basculé dans la lutte armée à outrance.

Cette nouvelle illustration de la discorde intermusulmane, pourtant théoriquement proscrite par les docteurs de la foi, ne peut qu’alimenter les inquiétudes des pays arabes dits modérés, alliés aux Occidentaux : la Jordanie, l’Egypte et l’Arabie saoudite. Au cours des dernières années, leurs dirigeants ont tous exprimé publiquement le malaise que suscitent les ambitions régionales de l’Iran, allié à la Syrie, et qui oeuvrerait, selon Abdallah II, à la constitution d’un “arc chiite”. Comme l’exportation de la révolution islamique il y aura bientôt trente ans. Cet “arc” aurait comme objectif, complémentaire du programme nucléaire militaire qui lui est également prêté, d’assurer la pérennité du régime iranien.

Cette poussée chiite, qui vient de s’illustrer à Beyrouth et dans la montagne druze, inquiète tout autant les alliés occidentaux, européens et américains, des principales capitales sunnites auxquelles ils sont liés par des coopérations civiles comme militaires et que révulse la perspective d’un Iran à la fois rebelle et sanctuarisé. Jusqu’à présent, cette convergence d’intérêts n’a pourtant pas permis de contenir le régime iranien. Le Liban vient même de mettre, une nouvelle fois, en évidence ce qui devient une constante au Proche et au Moyen-Orient, à savoir l’impuissance des Occidentaux, à commencer par les Etats-Unis, et de leurs alliés arabes à peser sur le cours des événements.

La prise de contrôle, sans coup férir, par le Hezbollah chiite de la partie occidentale de Beyrouth où le Courant du futur sunnite avait pignon sur rue, quelques semaines après l’envoi médiatisé d’un navire de guerre américain au large du Liban, l’US-Cole, illustre jusqu’à la caricature le fiasco d’une politique de la canonnière qui souffre cruellement de ne pas avoir les moyens de ses ambitions.

Le bourbier irakien avait été, dès l’été 2003, la première manifestation de la vacuité d’un volontarisme sans prise sur la réalité. Les derniers avatars de la stratégie américaine sur place, la multiplication des conflits intracommunautaires (sunnites contre sunnites, chiites contre chiites) ont permis aux troupes américaines de s’alléger au cours des derniers mois d’une partie du fardeau sans pour autant dessiner les contours d’une stabilisation. Cette atomisation continue de priver au contraire l’Irak de toute perspective. Pour autant, elle ne dessert pas les ambitions iraniennes.

La relance par les Etats-Unis d’un processus politique israélo-palestinien, en novembre 2007, est un autre exemple de l’impuissance occidentale. Ni la convocation du ban et de l’arrière-ban international (Syrie incluse) à Annapolis, dans le Maryland, ni la conférence des donateurs réunie à Paris, en décembre 2007, n’ont permis de débloquer une situation que les autorités militaires et politiques israéliennes jugent pour l’instant sous contrôle et donc préférable, compte tenu de l’état de l’Autorité palestinienne et de son chef, Mahmoud Abbas, à toute initiative diplomatique qui remettrait en question le statu quo.

ATLANTISME OSTENSIBLE

Cruel accéléré du dérapage du processus d’Oslo, entre 1993 et 2000, le décalage entre les discours, optimistes jusqu’au déraisonnable comme la promesse ou le souhait, suivant les formules, d’un Etat palestinien d’ici à la fin de l’année 2008, et les blocus qui valent aux Palestiniens une misère et une désespérance sans précédent dans une histoire pourtant riche en heures sombres ne prouve pas seulement l’incapacité des premières puissances mondiales à imposer aux autorités israéliennes une révision de leurs paradigmes qui leur serait pourtant in fine profitable. Il accrédite aussi la thèse du double langage, de la tromperie et du cynisme de la part de ceux qui prétendent inscrire leur action dans la clarté et les principes du droit.

Au lieu de priver, enfin, l’Iran de cartes régionales, la permanence de ce conflit de basse intensité lui ouvre au contraire des perspectives. C’est d’autant plus le cas lorsque les initiatives des uns – la trêve imposée par les Saoudiens aux frères ennemis palestiniens du Hamas et du Fatah en février 2007 – sont contrariées par les autres – le soutien américain à une politique d’intransigeance du Fatah vis-à-vis du Hamas pendant la même période. Au prix du fiasco qu’a constitué pour eux, il y aura bientôt un an, la prise de contrôle par la force de Gaza par ce mouvement islamiste. Ce dernier, sunnite, ne saurait être réduit à un rôle de courroie de transmission palestinienne des intérêts chiites iraniens.

En se dirigeant inexorablement vers son terme, l’administration américaine perd chaque jour en force et en capacité d’action. Ses alliés arabes, qu’il s’agisse de l’Egypte ou de l’Arabie saoudite, ne sont pas en mesure de prendre un quelconque relais. Parmi les Européens, la France, en faisant le choix d’un atlantisme ostensible, pour des raisons sans doute principalement européennes, a perdu au Proche et au Moyen-Orient une bonne partie de sa singularité. Au Liban comme dans les territoires palestiniens, elle n’a pas fondamentalement changé de politique orientale en passant de Jacques Chirac à Nicolas Sarkozy, y compris lorsqu’il s’agit de soutenir les régimes les moins accommodants avec leurs populations. Mais la normalisation avec les Etats-Unis souhaitée par l’actuel président de la République le rend désormais difficilement audible dans la région.

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May 14th, 2008, 6:56 pm

 

82. Alex said:

Qifa Nabki,

I will answer this question next year … right now the countries in that list are in weekly transition… can’t rate them.

For example, Lebanon this week rates much lower than Lebanon some time ago when things were considerably better.

Those who visited Syria last summer loved it .. some of them called to tell me that they seriously considered leaving their affluent life in North America to go back and live in Syria.

For me, I hate smoking so much that I would not last a week in Syria … everyone smokes! … and for this I will blame the regime to a large extent. The are not doing a thing (almost nothing) to fight smoking.

I have a non Syrian friend who is a director at Aljazeera. He is an anti smoking fanatic like me. Last month he went to Damascus to … ahem, look for a wife. He wrote to me “finding a Syrian girl who does not smoke nargeeleh is harder than finding an empty station in a high-speed internet cafe”

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May 14th, 2008, 7:01 pm

 

83. abraham said:

Jews are both a nation and a religion.

Then so are Christians, so are Muslims, so are Buddhists, so are Wiccans, so are Seventh Day Adventists, so are Satanists, and Mormons, and Bob Joneses, and so are Church of Bobbians.

As a self-absorbed arrogant prick who considers himself a deity in his own right, I demand my own nation as well. I hereby declare that Tel Aviv is the land that I promised to my people and I will take it by force if necessary. However, being a mostly peaceful religion, we will give you until 2025 to comply.

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May 14th, 2008, 7:04 pm

 

84. abraham said:

AIG:

Did Israel even once say it wanted to “wipe Iran of the map”?

Jerusalem Post:

Vice Premier Shimon Peres said Monday that “the president of Iran should remember that Iran can also be wiped off the map.”

http://www.jpost.com/servlet/Satellite?cid=1145961301962&pagename=JPost/JPArticle/ShowFull

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May 14th, 2008, 7:07 pm

 

85. Seeking the Truth said:

Abraham said:
Yes, the fact that the two party system has marginalized all the good candidates…

Why can’t an independent candidate win a presidential election in America, if she/he is able to convince the majority of voters that she/he is the best one to occupy the Oval Office?

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May 14th, 2008, 7:07 pm

 

86. AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Alex,
Olmert’s job is to protect Jews where they are not protected. In France they are protected. In Entebe they were not.

Israel does not want to defeat the Shia of Lebanon so Iran does not have to worry. Israel wants Hizballah to disarm just like the rest of the Lebanese including Aoun.

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May 14th, 2008, 7:12 pm

 

87. abraham said:

Seeking,

The problem is getting to the point of being able to convince the majority of voters. Third party candidates are rarely allowed that opportunity. Ross Perot was really the only third-party candidate in memory who actually got to participate in the election as a real, regular candidate, and that was because he had billions of dollars to force his way into the process.

Ralph Nader has been able to get into the elections due to the base he has nurtured for the past couple decades which gives him the funds he needs to get on the ballots in every state, but even that is an uphill battle as the Democratic Party always files lawsuits or puts up roadblocks to keep him from appearing on the ballots because they think he is stealing votes away from them. Of course, he is, because he has better ideas and policies, but the Dummycrats obviously can’t compete because they can’t run on merit.

Basically, it comes down to two things: money, and the entrenched two-party system which controls our so-called “democracy”. There is really just one party, and that’s the party of Power. American democracy is a sham at best, especially now that most voting takes place on closed-system, proprietary, corporate-owned electronic ballot machines that leave no paper trail.

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May 14th, 2008, 7:14 pm

 

88. Alex said:

AIG,

Thank you for answering all my questions.

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May 14th, 2008, 7:15 pm

 

89. AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Abraham,
Peres was responding to Jad’s threats. Israel has no beef with Iran over anything except that Iran wants to destroy us.

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May 14th, 2008, 7:15 pm

 

90. AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Alex,
If I missed a question, let me know.

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May 14th, 2008, 7:16 pm

 

91. abraham said:

AIG:

“A thug is measured by how one treats his own people. If you kill and oppress your own people you are a thug.”

Well, Israel has oppressed and killed its own people (the Israeli Arabs, the Druze, and Mordechai Vanunu) so by your very own definition Israel is run by thugs.

Like anyone needed to be reminded of that.

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May 14th, 2008, 7:21 pm

 

92. abraham said:

Really, AIG? Israel has no beef over Iran? You mean all this rhetoric about their nuclear program is just silly talk? And Israel constantly trying to get Iranian Jews to emigrate when they’ve said “NO” a thousand times already is just playful jibes? And Israel really doesn’t mind that Iran supports Hizballah?

I’m glad you cleared this up. I feel much better about the State of Israel.

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May 14th, 2008, 7:23 pm

 

93. wizart said:

“finding a Syrian girl who does not smoke nargeeleh is harder than finding an empty station in a high-speed internet cafe” lol

Sadly, they get hooked on it early on and it’s worse than smoking thanks to the same peer pressure that makes more Syrian girls wear Hijabs too as they want to stand out and disassociate from the “bad girls!”

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May 14th, 2008, 7:45 pm

 

94. abraham said:

Oh god, I just noticed that Akbar posted a link to Daniel Pipes above. My only comment is HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA.

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May 14th, 2008, 7:46 pm

 

95. abraham said:

I’d say Mo pretty much destroyed AP in his 1:32pm comment. AP should go out and buy some ointment because he got burned pretty badly.

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May 14th, 2008, 7:49 pm

 

96. Naji said:

During the last few days, and with much delight and anticipation, I have been watching the wonderful Wizart of SyriaComment making his way through the past couple of years’ of SC posts and commenting here and there as his whimsy moved him. Now that he has finally arrived here, I am quite ecstatic…!! Without the Wiz, this would be just another “blog on Syrian politics, history, and religion”…!
:)

Btw, thanks Wiz on the U-tube clip you provided when I was last so distressed about the Gaza genocide…! Under the current circumstances, I think everybody would also enjoy it today if you can find it again…! What is life without dreaming…?!

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May 14th, 2008, 8:06 pm

 

97. Naji said:

The Leb government has just reversed the the two contentious decisions… good sign…!

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May 14th, 2008, 8:09 pm

 

98. Alex said:

Good news!

The M14 government met and they finally decided to officially undo the two decisions the never took.

Now it is the opposition’s turn to reciprocate by removing the guns they never used.

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May 14th, 2008, 8:10 pm

 

99. Naji said:

Along the lines of Abe’s 6:00 pm comment…:

Obama, Hamas, and “Nuance”
By Ken Silverstein
http://www.harpers.org/archive/2008/05/hbc-90002928
Barack Obama recently severed all links with Robert Malley, an informal Middle East policy adviser, after the latter “confessed” that he had met with the Palestinian group Hamas. And in a recent interview, Obama said, “We don’t do nuance well in politics and especially don’t do it well on Middle East policy…It’s conceivable that there are those in the Arab world who say to themselves, ‘This is a guy who spent some time in the Muslim world, has a middle name of Hussein, and appears more worldly and has called for talks with people, and so he’s not going to be engaging in the same sort of cowboy diplomacy as George Bush,’ and that’s something they’re hopeful about. I think that’s a perfectly legitimate perception as long as they’re not confused about my unyielding support for Israel’s security.”

This prompted Luca Menato, my favorite correspondent from overseas, to write:

The problem, according to Obama, is that America doesn’t do “nuance well.” Is it possible that it could be a little worse than that?

Can you confirm for me that America really believes that it is reasonable that its leading presidential candidate can be politically blackmailed over an alleged link with a Palestinian faction whose number of armed militants is likely to be smaller than the number of known victims in the latest Chinese earthquake? Your great unwashed consider it appropriate that this paragon of personal independence and virtue ducks & dives and feels compelled to fire a colleague (Robert Malley) only because that person is accused of “talking” to a group that for all its many sins is in fact the legally elected representative for its sorry constituency. I wonder, if he had just admitted looking at pictures of Hamas, would he have just got a suspension?

All I can say is that America must truly be the most f****d up, insecure and paranoid superpower I’ve ever had a very bad dream about … Peace be with you, god willing (shalom, inshallah) …

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May 14th, 2008, 8:20 pm

 

100. ausamaa said:

FROM MOON OF ALABAMA

May 14, 2008

Side Effects
A Democrat won yesterday’s vote for a House seat in Mississippi’s 1st district with 54% to 46%. An 8 points winning margin in a district where in 2004 62% voted for Bush, 37% for Kerry. This was the third Republican seat that went to a Democrat in a recent by-election.

With the economy worsening, there is no reasonable way the Democrats and their presidential candidate can lose the November elections. Any poll that gives McCain a chance to win over Obama is likely flawed. In November, the GOP will get trashed.

Still, the House Republicans hope a new slogan for their policies product will help.

“The Change You Deserve”
The slogan was copied from a campaign for an antidepressant, Effexor. The slogan will not work because the product has not changed and people who have taken the medicine over the last years already noticed the side effects:

Headache, drowsiness, dizziness, nausea, weakness, dry mouth, constipation, loss of appetite, weight loss, blurred vision, tiredness, nervousness, trouble sleeping, sweating, or yawning may occur.

stomach/abdominal pain, chest pain, persistent cough, shortness of breath, bloody/black/tarry stools, vomit that looks like coffee grounds, easy bruising/bleeding, fast/irregular/pounding heartbeat, muscle weakness/cramps, yellowing eyes/skin, dark urine, seizures, unusual tiredness.

Fans on manliness, like Chris Matthews, have experienced a special one, “a painful or prolonged erection lasting 4 or more hours.” As they did not see their doctor and never stopped to swallow the drug, as is reommended, they will now have to live with “permanent damage.”

The U.S. people know it is high time to get rid of such medication. The race is thereby already over.

Still, the media will drive this on and make it look competitive because that is what sells their product.

But all international agents know this is over and now adjust their behavior accordingly. They rightly assume that U.S. policies will see significant change.

It will be interesting to follow that sea change especially in the Middle East but elsewhere too. That change itself will have some interesting side effects too.

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May 14th, 2008, 8:21 pm

 

101. Qifa Nabki said:

Observer,

What you, Friedman, and the author of the Le Monde piece all have in common is a sensitivity to Iran’s growing hegemony, in the region. If Iran is so powerful and its influence so pervasive, why is it that SC commentators have so little interest in it, but are far more interested in exposing the spooky U.S./Israeli/KSA plan for the region?

An entire cottage industry of wonky policy books has emerged in recent years which tirelessly repeats the same argument, summed up by the guy that Friedman quoted: “The U.S. is not liked, not feared, and not respected” anymore, in the Middle East, and its allies are divided and feckless. Doesn’t sound to me like such a sorry coalition of bumbling idiots could put together an effective strategy to substantively dominate the region.

Why not start being critical about the country that can put together such a strategy?

Are most SC contributors silent about Iran because its Mahdi (I mean, President) talks about Israel’s elimination every few weeks, and because Iran is Syria’s bestest friend in the whole wide world?

Or is there some other reason?

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May 14th, 2008, 8:22 pm

 

102. Naji said:

As much as I hate to quote the insufferably obnoxious Friedman, his op-ed piece in today’s NYT is not entirely without merit…!

The New Cold War
By THOMAS L. FRIEDMAN

The next American president will inherit many foreign policy challenges, but surely one of the biggest will be the cold war. Yes, the next president is going to be a cold-war president — but this cold war is with Iran.

That is the real umbrella story in the Middle East today — the struggle for influence across the region, with America and its Sunni Arab allies (and Israel) versus Iran, Syria and their non-state allies, Hamas and Hezbollah. As the May 11 editorial in the Iranian daily Kayhan put it, “In the power struggle in the Middle East, there are only two sides: Iran and the U.S.”

For now, Team America is losing on just about every front. How come? The short answer is that Iran is smart and ruthless, America is dumb and weak, and the Sunni Arab world is feckless and divided. Any other questions?

The outrage of the week is the Iranian-Syrian-Hezbollah attempt to take over Lebanon. Hezbollah thugs pushed into Sunni neighborhoods in West Beirut, focusing particular attention on crushing progressive news outlets like Future TV, so Hezbollah’s propaganda machine could dominate the airwaves. The Shiite militia Hezbollah emerged supposedly to protect Lebanon from Israel. Having done that, it has now turned around and sold Lebanon to Syria and Iran.

All of this is part of what Ehud Yaari, one of Israel’s best Middle East watchers, calls “Pax Iranica.” In his April 28 column in The Jerusalem Report, Mr. Yaari pointed out the web of influence that Iran has built around the Middle East — from the sway it has over Iraq’s prime minister, Nuri al-Maliki, to its ability to manipulate virtually all the Shiite militias in Iraq, to its building up of Hezbollah into a force — with 40,000 rockets — that can control Lebanon and threaten Israel should it think of striking Tehran, to its ability to strengthen Hamas in Gaza and block any U.S.-sponsored Israeli-Palestinian peace.

“Simply put,” noted Mr. Yaari, “Tehran has created a situation in which anyone who wants to attack its atomic facilities will have to take into account that this will lead to bitter fighting” on the Lebanese, Palestinian, Iraqi and Persian Gulf fronts. That is a sophisticated strategy of deterrence.

The Bush team, by contrast, in eight years has managed to put America in the unique position in the Middle East where it is “not liked, not feared and not respected,” writes Aaron David Miller, a former Mideast negotiator under both Republican and Democratic administrations, in his provocative new book on the peace process, titled “The Much Too Promised Land.”

“We stumbled for eight years under Bill Clinton over how to make peace in the Middle East, and then we stumbled for eight years under George Bush over how to make war there,” said Mr. Miller, and the result is “an America that is trapped in a region which it cannot fix and it cannot abandon.”

Look at the last few months, he said: President Bush went to the Middle East in January, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice went in February, Vice President Dick Cheney went in March, the secretary of state went again in April, and the president is there again this week. After all that, oil prices are as high as ever and peace prospects as low as ever. As Mr. Miller puts it, America right now “cannot defeat, co-opt or contain” any of the key players in the region.

The big debate between Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton is over whether or not we should talk to Iran. Obama is in favor; Clinton has been against. Alas, the right question for the next president isn’t whether we talk or don’t talk. It’s whether we have leverage or don’t have leverage.

When you have leverage, talk. When you don’t have leverage, get some — by creating economic, diplomatic or military incentives and pressures that the other side finds too tempting or frightening to ignore. That is where the Bush team has been so incompetent vis-à-vis Iran.

The only weaker party is the Sunni Arab world, which is either so drunk on oil it thinks it can buy its way out of any Iranian challenge or is so divided it can’t make a fist to protect its own interests — or both.

We’re not going to war with Iran, nor should we. But it is sad to see America and its Arab friends so weak they can’t prevent one of the last corners of decency, pluralism and openness in the Arab world from being snuffed out by Iran and Syria. The only thing that gives me succor is the knowledge that anyone who has ever tried to dominate Lebanon alone — Maronites, Palestinians, Syrians, Israelis — has triggered a backlash and failed.

“Lebanon is not a place anyone can control without a consensus, without bringing everybody in,” said the Lebanese columnist Michael Young. “Lebanon has been a graveyard for people with grand projects.” In the Middle East, he added, your enemies always seem to “find a way of joining together and suddenly making things very difficult for you.”

Copyright 2008 The New York Times Company

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May 14th, 2008, 8:27 pm

 

103. Nur al-Cubicle said:

Geez, blogger Chris Floyd over at Empire Burlesque says March 14 is trying to recruit al Qaeda to smash Hezbollah.

Moreover, I have no doubt that certain forces will attempt anything to keep the “Moor of Chicago” (in their eyes) from power.

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May 14th, 2008, 8:27 pm

 

104. ausamaa said:

حقا… وعدكم صادق

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May 14th, 2008, 8:28 pm

 

105. Naji said:

Oh, common QN… give your SC colleagues a little more credit…!! The fact is that there such a disproportionately bigger industry in demonizing Iran that there is simply no room left for good ol’ SC commentators in it…!

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May 14th, 2008, 8:32 pm

 

106. Qifa Nabki said:

Heavy gunfire in West Beirut. The SSNPers on the street corners are very pleased.

This is a good development.

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May 14th, 2008, 8:33 pm

 

107. Zenobia said:

QN,
i think people don’t get concerned over Iranian Hegemony because this is not here as yet, whereas American hegemony is and is causing the main problems or destruction through its foreign policies.
In fact, if power has been given to the current Iranian leadership- many can argue that this was a function as well of American actions or blowback from over forty years.
Secondly, perhaps some think that Iranian hegemony is no worse than American- and should things come to pass in the future that others do not like- we will address that too at that time.

but fear of Iranian power is being used to justify American policy and actions that a lot of people find abhorrent more than the speculation about what might happen if Iran is ME hegemon.

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May 14th, 2008, 8:34 pm

 

108. Naji said:

Moreover, Iranian “hegemony” is local, can only have a limited horizon, contributes to the “non-polar”/”multi-polar” world being hailed by all, and gives its subscribers a much more equitable role than the US alternative…!

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May 14th, 2008, 8:39 pm

 

109. Naji said:

Hmmm… not all the news is bad… here is a silver lining…!

As fighting flares up, Lebanese cannabis growers expect a bumper crop
By Zvi Bar’el, Haaretz Correspondent

For the cannabis-growing residents of eastern Lebanon, recent internecine fighting in the country has been a blessing, albeit one covered in hash resin and dollar signs.

To these villagers, gunshots and warfare are good for business, and the last three years have been far too quiet for their taste, leaving the authorities more than enough time and resources to come for their crops.

Peace and quiet frees the Lebanese Army to help local law enforcement combat the drug trade, especially in the summer, when soldiers and police are deployed to cannabis fields to rip and cut the flowering stalks of marijuana set for processing and export to Israel, Europe and beyond.

The army has signaled that it could step up its involvement to bring an end to fighting that broke out last week – the country’s worst internal clashes since the end of the civil war in 1990, which has left at least 54 people dead and scores more wounded.

The last time the cannabis farmers of Lebanon had such a bumper crop was during the Second Lebanon War in 2006, when the security situation in the country brought anti-drug law enforcement to a halt. With fighting flaring up again in Lebanon, the farmers can expect another marijuana windfall, especially if the army is deployed in force throughout the country’s cities to quell the recent bloodshed.

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May 14th, 2008, 8:44 pm

 

110. AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Friedman has taken the fall of Beirut to Hizballah really badly. He lived there during the civil war and is attached to the place. He is venting it out on Bush. But the fact is, as a democracy, there is nothing much the US can do against ruthless martyrdom seeking religious fanatics funded by Iran and armed to the hilt through Syria except to slowly erode their support base and stop the funding to them. The US cannot and will not use the methods that Hafez used in Hamma.

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May 14th, 2008, 8:51 pm

 

111. Innocent_Criminal said:

have you guys seen the video where the pro hariri thugs kill SSNP party members? its here http://www.ssnp.com/ (the video link is on the left) but its pretty depressing so beware

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May 14th, 2008, 9:01 pm

 

112. Akbar Palace said:

The Bush team, by contrast, in eight years has managed to put America in the unique position in the Middle East where it is “not liked, not feared and not respected,” writes Aaron David Miller…

I guess Aaron David Miller never bothered to investigate Libya’s surprise disclosure of their WMD program (which no longer exists).

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May 14th, 2008, 9:03 pm

 

113. Naji said:

Bush makes our Hafez look like a boy scout in Hama…!! In what spiderhole has this AIG been living for the past 6-7 years…??!

What Clinton did in Serbia, Iraq, Sudan, and elsewhere was not a whole lot better either… and the list goes on…

So, when are we going to stop comparing our monsters…?!

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May 14th, 2008, 9:08 pm

 

114. AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Naji,
If you do not see the difference between Hafez and Bush or Hafez and Clinton, then we are really headed to a clash of civilizations.

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May 14th, 2008, 9:16 pm

 

115. offended said:

Naji,
In fact, Bush today (overwhlemed by the hospitality of Olmert) said that both countries were built on the ‘same principles and values’. It figures, no?

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May 14th, 2008, 9:33 pm

 

116. Piotr Chmielarz said:

Do you think that Bush will ask Olmert to send his army to Lebanon? Considering that secretary of ONZ is Bush man so he can order UNIFIL to let israeli army go to Lebanon? This is only small possibility but this still possible. Eventually Hzbollah can count on help from Hamas- if Hezbollah will be destroyed by Israeli army it will get free hand to finish with Hamas- but this force can be countered by Fatah with support of israeli army.

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May 14th, 2008, 9:35 pm

 

117. offended said:

Piotr Chmielarz
That’s a very slim chance, for when it happenes; the first telltale will be the vacating of the UNIFI regiments.

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May 14th, 2008, 9:39 pm

 

118. Naji said:

Offended,
Did you see the bounce in Bush’s step today when he was landing in Israel…??! He was dancing on the tarmac…!! This man is completely at ease with his conscious… and everything else… a remorseless maniacal criminal… God help us all…!!1

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May 14th, 2008, 9:54 pm

 

119. offended said:

Naji,
what a precise observation followed by a precise and eluqent describtion!

God help those who don’t believe it too.

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May 14th, 2008, 10:01 pm

 

120. abraham said:

Qifa asked:

Are most SC contributors silent about Iran because its Mahdi (I mean, President) talks about Israel’s elimination every few weeks, and because Iran is Syria’s bestest friend in the whole wide world?

Or is there some other reason?

That’s pretty offensive.

First of all, this blog is called Syria Comment, not Iran Comment.

But as far as Iran’s plans for the region, whatever they are, I don’t see them as a threat. And anyway, as long as the US is acting in the region Iran will be checked. As soon as the US has to recede its empire (within a decade at this rate) then we’ll start to see what Iran has in mind. But for now, they are not a threat to the sovereignty of the various nations and people in the ME (but Israel and the US are). When Iran starts to throw its weight around like a drunken asshole then we’ll turn our attentions to them.

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May 14th, 2008, 10:29 pm

 

121. abraham said:

Naji, please. Even the best article by Friedman is the equivalent of an AIG comment.

The man lacks any sort of original insight and his columns only serve to demonstrate why the NY Times is given way too much credence.

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May 14th, 2008, 10:38 pm

 

122. TheOtherPointOfVieW said:

just in from naharnet.com

11:16pm Lebanese government revokes it two measures concerning Hizbullah telecommunications network and the reassignment of the head of the airport security.
11:27pm Heavy gunfire heard in Beirut, Southern suburbs, Baalbeck, Hirmel and Southern Lebanon celebrating the government’s withdrawal of the two resolutions.

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May 14th, 2008, 10:44 pm

 

123. Qifa Nabki said:

Abraham,

The fact that this blog is called Syria Comment hasn’t stopped you from entertaining us with your views on … umm, everything.

I would have expected you of all people to be a bit more critical of Ahmadinejad. After all, he is, like Bush, a firm believer in the imminent return of Jesus (+ the Mahdi), and the political consequences thereof.

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May 14th, 2008, 10:54 pm

 

124. TheOtherPointOfVieW said:

Now that the effective veto ability has been established is there any justification at all for any further sit-in or civil disobedience?

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May 14th, 2008, 10:55 pm

 

125. Qifa Nabki said:

You can bring a politician to the table, but you can’t make him talk sense

By The Daily Star
Thursday, May 15, 2008
Editorial

The Arab League delegation that traveled to Beirut on Wednesday can help this country’s feuding political parties to re-enter a process of dialogue, but it can neither force them to do so nor guarantee that they will make the most of the opportunity. The provision of the good offices of the regional body and some its member-states can only be a midwife to something that the Lebanese principals themselves must conceive, and that will remain a stumbling block so long as the two sides remain vague about what it is, exactly, that they want.

Both the ruling March 14 Forces coalition and its opposition March 8 counterpart are expert in the pointless art of tearing down one another’s supposed plans for this country, but neither has come up with anything like a detailed blueprint of its own. Each therefore serves as a straw man for the other, and the contest goes around in tedious (and occasionally terrifying) circles. The Lebanese people have largely been left out of the equation, at least in terms of having somebody represent them in a responsive fashion – but as the events of last week prove, they will not be spared the negative consequences of a dysfunctional political system and the inflammatory discourse that it inevitably produces.

A series of questions remains unanswered by one or both of the camps. What sort of electoral law, for example, do they favor? Do they want emigrants to be eligible to vote, and if so, under what conditions? How do they propose to redefine Lebanon’s strategy for national defense after such iconic events as Israel’s pullout from most of its occupation zone in 2000 and the withdrawal of Syrian forces in 2005? What are their strategies for implementing the terms of the Taif Accord that ended the 1975-1990 Civil War? As the recent French mediation effort showed, getting key figures from the two sides to sit in a room together is not enough to answer these and other riddles. Only committed statesmen can do that.

A large part of the problem has been that both sides seem to have got their priorities mixed up. Instead of concentrating on making Lebanon better, each gives every indication of being more interested in denying any sort of accomplishment or credit to the other. This itself is a by-product of the sectarian model with which this country has been saddled since independence in 1943, and anecdotal evidence strongly suggests that most Lebanese are sick of tired of a system that reliably puts their compatriots at each other’s throats. The same system serves as a prophylactic against the emergence of non-confessional parties and therefore makes blood enemies of people who should be nothing more than rivals (perhaps even friendly ones).

We can keep blaming the Americans and the Iranians, or we can become masters in our own house. The choice should be clear.

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May 14th, 2008, 10:57 pm

 

126. JustOneAmerican said:

Now that the effective veto ability has been established is there any justification at all for any further sit-in or civil disobedience?

Or now that HA has used this card, what will they do next time M14 provokes them?

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May 14th, 2008, 11:06 pm

 

127. abraham said:

QN said:

The fact that this blog is called Syria Comment hasn’t stopped you from entertaining us with your views on … umm, everything.

Hmm, good point. But your question was still offensive.

As for Ahmedinejad, the guy is no more nutty than your average pre-millenial dispensationalist. I can’t say I like the guy personally, but I always root for the underdog. He definitely isn’t good for the long term success of Iran, but he’s good for countering American hegemonic machinations.

As others have indicated, when the threat of Iran overshadows the threat of the US then I’ll start in on him and Iran. Until then, I only see Iran as a useful and positive influence in the ME currently.

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May 14th, 2008, 11:11 pm

 

128. Nour said:

AIG continues to propagate that Beirut “fell” to HA and that HA committed attrocities in Beirut. Of course none of it is true, and the fact is that the only attrocities were committed by the pro-Hariri and pro-Jumblatt fanatics, who executed opposition members they captured and dismembered and mutilated their corpses. Of course AIG will continue to avoid mention of that because it disturbs the image he is trying to portray, which is one of a savage HA on the one side, and a civilized, democratic loyalist camp on the other, when in fact the opposite is true. I wonder of AIG will consider Hariri a thug and a terrorist after seeing what his followers do to people they capture.

Oh and another thing. AIG, Hariri said yesterday that HA “attacked” Beirut under Israeli cover. Do you believe that is true? And if not, doesn’t that make Hariri a liar and a propagandist? You seem to be very willing to promote the FM forum as of late to demonstrate the level of hate these people have toward HA, as if we didn’t know that already, but could you go there and tell them that their leader Hariri is a liar because he is claiming that Israel was giving cover to the actions of HA?

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May 14th, 2008, 11:36 pm

 

129. Oliver MacDous said:

I do not know enough about the FPM and Aoun except to say that they are very interested in keeping Lebanon for the Lebanese. They are seeing beyond the Geagea and Gemayel clans that the future of the Christian community in Lebanon has shifted from an alliance with Paris/London/Washington to one where Damascus/Tehran/Riad/Cairo will be more valuable on the long run. They know that the salvation is by being patriotic and Aoun is a Lebanese patriot.

I am not sure why the SC contributors seem less interested in Iran, I see only a country that withstood an 8 year war, a blockade, an arms embargo, a technological quarantine, coming out with the ability to be self sufficient, building a civil society within the bounds of the tenets of the 79 revolution, and knowing that it can only gain regional respect by espousing the Islamic part of its heritage rather than the Persian one. I do not believe that they wish to control or dominate, but like all revolutions, an outlet is essential for the immense energy that such an event usually produces and this is one of them. It is truly the revolution that is behind most of the major events that are taking place in the region directly or indirectly.

When Shou En Lai was asked in 58 about his opinion regarding the impact of the French revolution he responded by saying that it is too early to tell. Remember, the French were attacked within 3 years of the revolution by the monarchies of Europe and they got Napoleon that almost united Europe under his banner, after all he promised his wife Italy for a birthday present. It is after the ideas of the French revolution were shown to work with the American independence that these ideas were translated into action.

On the other hand, what does Saudi Arabia have to offer in terms of new ideas, where is the energy of the population going, how come Egypt has become irrelevant after the peace treaty in political cultural, intellectual terms while Qatar has more influence than such a big country.

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May 14th, 2008, 11:44 pm

 

130. Qifa Nabki said:

Abraham said:

As for Ahmedinejad, the guy is no more nutty than your average pre-millenial dispensationalist. I can’t say I like the guy personally, but I always root for the underdog.

Abraham, please take this personally: you are a smart person.

You correctly diagnose the uses and abuses of power, and you are quick to spot cynical rhetoric and to expose it as such.

Therefore, I would like to suggest to you that applying these critical skills in a consistent and systematic fashion is a much better use of them. Always rooting for the underdog is a failing strategy, in my humble opinion. If our region’s intellegentsia (as pathetically meager as its ranks may be) was populated by people who chose NOT to root for the underdog as a matter of course, but instead applied their constructive criticism against ALL abuses of power, I have to believe that we would be better off.

Please, think on this, before slamming me as a useful tool of Western imperialism.

;-)

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May 14th, 2008, 11:44 pm

 

131. Qifa Nabki said:

Oliver/Observer,

Once again, your commentary is enormously valuable.

I would only suggest to you that it is important to keep in mind the ways in which the Revolution’s “energies” have significantly damaged Iran’s own society. Those who control Iran today do so at the expense of a huge and talented population, one whose future generations are being compromised by an increasingly authoritarian regime. There must be a middle ground between the path that they are currently pursuing (which is netting them greater foreign dominance, to be sure) and the path of Saudi Arabia, for example.

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May 14th, 2008, 11:52 pm

 

132. Nur al-Cubicle said:

To second what Abraham has been saying, the US _hates_ Iran because, mostly, its officials cannot be corrupted, a tool on which Washington heavily relies for its hegemony.

I mean, compare, say, Khatami to Mubarak. Mubarak, an army pilot if I’m to mistaken, became a protege of Sadat and has been able to grossly enrich himself, build a system of patronage and impose a dynasty within an eternal state of emergency. Khomeini never took a penny (indeed, he was incorruptible), and apart a few perks Khatami is not driving a Mercedes and playing around in Monte Carlo. I doubt that Ahmedinejad is building a financial empire.

Taking the comparison and superimposing it on Lebanon, who was Hariri Sr. but Mister Big? Nobody got a job or a contract without his say-so. He was a tycoon with the reigns of power. Nasrallah is a “commoner” and, indeed, a revolutionary in his own right. He can’t be corrupted or bought. That is a headache for the US, Israel and March 14. The Shi’a are second class citizens and the refugee Palestinians are not citizens at all. There are a lot of unhappy, disenfranchised people and to them, Hezbollah looks an entity that can only improve things for them. And look, Hezbollah are not by any means levelers of the Khmer Rouge type.

So that’s why people like me can root for the underdog.

Note to QN. Iran under the corrupt Shah and the secret police was no paradise.

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May 15th, 2008, 12:05 am

 

133. Qifa Nabki said:

Nur,

What do you lose by criticizing the United States while also criticizing the Iranian “underdog”? What is the cost of speaking out against Iran’s purging of university professors and disallowing candidates from running for elected office, on the basis of their political views? How does this enable Western imperialism?

Just because someone does not drive a Mercedes does not make him a worthy leader.

If there weren’t already many chopped off noses and spited faces on this thread, I would be tempted to use this expression in this case.

;-)

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May 15th, 2008, 12:16 am

 

134. Alex said:

Qifa Nabki,

I can speak for myself … I rarely criticize Iran, although I did on this post by grouping Iran with Saudi Arabia and Israel as the greatest threats to peace and stability int he Middle East. Although, Iran is considerably less threatening than the other two.

But in general, Because Murdoch and AIPAC made sure that a majority of the voices in the media describe Iran as being evil in an unprecedented way (even compared to Syria, which is evil light) … I would feel like an idiot if I add my voice to that of the liars and crooks.

Actually I am being too nice to them … the CRIMINALS who are contributing to the chances of more wars in the Middle East.

I will criticize Iran when they shut up… for now the world does not need more people criticizing Iran and Syria and Nasrallah.

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May 15th, 2008, 12:35 am

 

135. JustOneAmerican said:

Abraham,

I’d be interested in your take on exactly how Ahmedinejad is countering American hegemonic machinations. It seems to me his anti-US bluster is aimed at distracting the population from the tremendous failure of his economic policies – a strategy right out of the neocon playbook, actually.

Personally, I think Iran is a perfectly apt topic for this forum since Iran is connected with so many Syrian-related issues.

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May 15th, 2008, 12:58 am

 

136. Akbar Palace said:

Zenobia said:

all your examples are ‘peace’ or cease fire type peace after waring. Not peaceful measures from the start.

Zenobia,

When some on this website claim that Israel can not make peace, I cite the usual examples refuting that.

Then, my interlocutor says (like you do), yes but they were “not peaceful measures from the start”.

The same thing happens when discussing land.

The Catch-22 is that the liberals, the peaceniks, the Arabs (both moderate and jihadist) say that Israel first needs to withdraw from occupied land. They claim if Israel withdraws, then the violence will stop.

Lebanon and Gaza are both data point proving this assumption false.

Daniel Pipes, Akbar??? this man is one of the most revolting people in America. You should really not promote him. Nobody will listen to you. Pipes is really scum in my book.

Zenobia,

I somewhat understand you sentiment, however, I can’t change my mind. For example, most of the people on this website support terror groups like Hamas, Hezbollah, and the Iranian government.

I don’t recall Dr. Pipes ever promoting the destruction of any Arab people or country.

http://www.danielpipes.org/article/5314

Few people are praising HA ideology, they just admire their prowess.

You would know better than me. My take on it is that the Lebanese were happy to throw Syria out of the country in order to try to create an Arab democracy in Lebanon. Of course this was all for naught, because now I think the Lebanese realize that they have a militia (with their outside state sponsor)that they cannot compete with.

Therefore Lebanon will be taken down the road to ruin just like Gaza, Syria, and Iran.

From another website I’m familiar with. One Lebanese was asked about the situation now in Lebanon. He states:

family is all right even if worried and sad.
we re really concerned with what is happening and my mother said she felt they were back to 1975. the airport is still closed which is a real problem. I was planning to come to Beirut for a wedding and I ll probably have to cancel (and the wedding will be cancelled too as my cousin is blocked in paris…).

the country doesnt seem to have much future at all now.

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May 15th, 2008, 12:59 am

 

137. Nour said:

QN,

I think you misunderstand many of the positions here on Syria Comment, and probably across the region. We do not have illusions about Iran. We know that Iran has its own interests and although sometimes those interests may converge with ours, they may also diverge. However, none of us has a problem with Iran pursuing its interests. None of us have a problem with any country furthering the interests of its nation. This is normal, and our job is to further our own interests. What we do have a problem with is any country that wants to exercise hegemony over us, destroy our nation, support “Israel” in killing our people and in general destabilize the entire region. This is why you see more people here criticizing the US than you see people criticizing Iran.

As Observer has astutely pointed out, the Iranians have worked seriously, diligently, and effectively in advancing their country and establishing themselves as a regional power. I can respect that, as all nations should be doing the same, including us. However, if Iran were to start pursuing policies of “regime change”, engage in mass murdering our people, or supporting the inception of a foreign state on our land, then my position would shift dramatically. At this point, however, I cannot equate Iran with the US/Israel in terms of its behavior within our region.

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May 15th, 2008, 2:17 am

 

138. Akbar Palace said:

Nour speaks for “us”:

However, none of us has a problem with Iran* pursuing its interests.

*Or Saddam, or Assad, or Hezbollah, or Hamas, or any other terrorist group for that matter.

None of us have a problem with any country* furthering the interests of its nation.

*except Israel and the US

This is normal*, and our job is to further our own interests.

*except for Israel and the US

What we do have a problem with is any country that wants to exercise hegemony* over us, destroy our nation*,…

*except for Saddam, Iran, Hezbollah, Assad, etc.

This is why you see more people here criticizing the US than you see people criticizing Iran.

Oh, I see! It’s crystal clear!;)

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May 15th, 2008, 2:57 am

 

139. why-discuss said:

Ahmadinejad is treating the US and Israel the same way they are treating Iran. When Bush and Israel say that Iran is a threat to the world, I understand why Ahmadinejad says that the zionist regime of Israel is moribund and that the US under Bush a sick country.
While the US and Israel try to be ‘civilized’ and subtle when they demonize Iran (except for the blunder of Hilary), Ahmadinejad is blunt and he is getting all the attention by the media. He understood how to be printed in US media and indirectly to provoke the americans to question his affirmation. He learned how to play to media game and in a way, he is successful!

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May 15th, 2008, 3:45 am

 

140. He Waged War With a Felafel in His Hand said:

Testing first Comment:

I am here to challenge the Usurpation of Power in Beirut, and I am going to wage a war with a felafel in my hand!

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May 15th, 2008, 5:18 am

 

141. abraham said:

QN asked:

What do you lose by criticizing the United States while also criticizing the Iranian underdog? What is the cost of speaking out against Irans purging of university professors and disallowing candidates from running for elected office, on the basis of their political views? How does this enable Western imperialism?

Qifa, are you talking about the ideal West, or the real West? Because here in America, these same things happen, but in a much more sinister manner. Professors with unpopular political views are denied tenure (Finkelstein, etc.) and political candidates and entire parties are marginalized by an unfair system that is controlled by entrenched interests.

Now, you may argue that these are isolated cases and as a whole doesn’t compare to the hold on power that the religious authorities in Iran have, but you’d be wrong. All the powers that be that are effecting this system of patronage in the US are all connected. You have groups like Campus Watch run by guys like Daniel Pipes, who is part of the neoconservative network that is currently entrenched in the Whitehouse, handing out jobs and contracts to their fellow lackeys, contracts such as those that outsource voting to corporations run by current and former business associates of those in political power, not to mention gerrymandered voting districts where the incumbant or the incumbant’s party is basically guaranteed to win, etc. etc. etc.

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May 15th, 2008, 6:00 am

 

142. ausamaa said:

Now, and Saudi policy has taken a big hit and demonstrated that it is not capable of supporting its Lebanese partners, and in view of the next reconiciliation talks to be held in Doha, is Qatar trying and capable of replacing a “chunck” of the Saudi money flowing into the pockets of many Lebanese politicians?

I other words, will they be able to “buy” some of them and “flip” them?

Would the recent events also convince Saudi to “flip” its policy and its approach to Syria? Or what happened is too bitter for them to digest soon? I mean after the Oppositions’s VICTORY in Lebanon during the Bush and Cole and Genearal Dempsy’s presence in the area?

It would be good to revisit Joushua’s “old” post: Can Syria be flipped??? If only just to compare notes. And maybe learn something.

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May 15th, 2008, 6:44 am

 

143. TheOtherPointOfVieW said:

Abraham, I don’t know which country you think you’re living in but to compare the United States with its freedoms and opportunities for all, to the truly totalitarian and fanatical Iranian regime is nothing but a blind delusion. The fact is that notwithstanding what control you ascribe to this or the other special interest group, the information is out there in the U.S. to be exposed by anyone – as you do – and the field is open to organize and exert counter-influence under the rule of law. Sure there are fanatics here as well, and a president gets elected who turns out to believe he is on a mission from God to spread democracy and acts on this belief in a manner that leads to horrors and mistakes but it’s all in the open for anyone to criticize and for the policies to be reversed after the next election.

Failure to be disciplined and united and to effectively play the persuasion, lobbying, and influence game in the US is no excuse to start accusing and blaming those who are successful. For all the logic, eloquence, passion, and righteousness I read on this blog I have to wonder where is the organization that will tap into this and similar talent, organize effective political action in the US, and begin to make the case to the American people and lawmakers about the support of Palestinian people, about any validity that folks want to claim here for Hamas, Hizbollah, and yes, Iran. The US is the land of opportunity for anyone willing to work hard and play by the rules. Sure it’s hard; there are obstacles, biases, barriers, entrenched interests that are difficult to displace. But it is the best field to play and fight in of any other in the world and throughout history. If the naysayers cannot make their case here in the US while tapping into the tremendous resources of the wealth that does exist in the Arab countries they have no one to blame but themselves. But of course, as I read here, the cheap copout is always adopted of blaming the system, the bias, AIPAC, imperialism, and everything and everyone under the sun except, that is, the ineptitude, failure to organize, and fratricidal tendencies and events decried by Qaddafi, which are all at the heart of the failures everyone here is so indignant about.

You might be surprised to know how many in the US are longing for the time when they can rally behind a well-organized persuasion campaign that can win over the American people and government to the causes of supporting the legitimate aspiration of many dispossessed groups in the ME. No one is giving them the opportunity to do so. On the contrary, justification is given by some to wanton attacks on civilians, to “resistance” methods that are tagged as terrorism, making it ever so much harder to side with those righteous causes.

Real resistance along the ways I’m describing is hard, very hard. When are the Arabs going to unite to do the hard work needed to succeed in the field of US public opinion? I don’t buy the excuses given. As a group (of countries, of people, etc.) the Arabs have the numbers, the wealth, the real opportunity to win big. Alas, Qaddafi is right. So far it’s been fratricide. I add that’s it’s also been chosing the easy, yet irresponsible path of complaining and blaming. True courage and patriotrism is needed for the effective fight.

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May 15th, 2008, 7:00 am

 

144. abraham said:

Just One American said:

I’d be interested in your take on exactly how Ahmedinejad is countering American hegemonic machinations.

America invaded Iraq for the primary reason of securing its oil for itself. Realizing that resources would become more scarce due to a number of factors (the rising giants of China and India, peak oil, climate change) the current “leadership” used the 9/11 attacks to press its real agenda.

The US could’ve done this in a rational way, but because Bush and the people he surrounded himself with are basically stupid, and in some cases evil, they chose to accomplish their agenda through destructive force, which had the side benefit of securing Israel–or so they thought. Did I mention these people are stupid?

Countries like Iran are acting as a necessary check to the unrestrained hubris of Bush and his merry band of idiots. If Iran didn’t present any resistance to Bushco’s plans then they would’ve continued their Third Reich like assault on the world. As it is, America has drained its resources, quite possibly put itself into intractable debt, and aborted its burgeoning empire.

It seems to me his anti-US bluster is aimed at distracting the population from the tremendous failure of his economic policies – a strategy right out of the neocon playbook, actually.

I’m sure there’s truth to this too.

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May 15th, 2008, 7:11 am

 

145. TheOtherPointOfVieW said:

Abraham,

Your analysis of the motivations of the US administration is simplistic and ineffective — unpersuasive by any measure. Then you qualify the US actions – however misguided – as “Third Reich like assault.” That’s not going to help anyone in any way. Just hollow blowing of steam. As far as argumentation and persuasion, sorry, but this is just bumbling incompetence. I’m sure this is not the kind of approach AIPAC uses. Why not emulate their techniques but for your arguments? They are effective. Let’s be more effective and overwhelm and overturn their influence. Let’s stop complaining and do the real hard work not just the easy blame game and insult distribution and epithet throwing of “evil” and “Third Reich.”

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May 15th, 2008, 7:23 am

 

146. abraham said:

Dude at 7:00am,

I maintain that there is no qualitative difference between American politics and Iranian politics. I also maintain that you do not understand either if you don’t see the similarities.

As for your suggesting that we Arabs ought to work towards recognition in the US instead of whining all the time, what do you make of this discussion and Syria Comment and similar blogs? Is this not part of our movement to win hearts and minds? These things take time, especially with the tremendous odds stacked against us currently. The racism of white Christians towards Arabs is very real and is something that white Christians will have to work out between themselves since there’s nothing Arabs can do short of selling themselves out to please the White Man. Furthermore, you seem to believe that our aspiration as Arabs is to receive recognition and acceptance from the US. Perhaps our goal is actually to just be left the fuck alone. Arabs are tired of imperialism and are finally, it would seem, throwing off the yoke of oppression that the West has shackled us with for too long.

Finally, as to why you keep referencing Qaddafi, I have no idea. I don’t think anyone in the Arab world takes that fool seriously, let alone listens to him anymore. Qaddafi who? You’re about 20 years behind the times.q

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May 15th, 2008, 7:31 am

 

147. wizart said:

Dear Naji,

Thanks for your observations, very nice articles and comments.

Hello SC World,

Glad many of us seem to agree politics is the art of compromise. Most well informed people in the world agree by now that Bush has screwed up big time so far and the world public opinion is increasingly more important than that of the good old U.S.A

Everybody has a good point somewhere, it takes a certain level of political maturity among different parties to be able to focus on common interests and to avoid being divided over auxiliary matters.

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May 15th, 2008, 7:40 am

 

148. abraham said:

TheOtherPointOfView,

What “other” point of view are you representing? I thought AIPAC was already well-represented by the resident zionists here.

I’m sorry you find what I write as an American to challenge your long-held and cherished views of a benevolent United States that just wants to spread peace and democracy across the Middle East, but I assure you this is hardly how we are being received currently in the Middle East. Your problem seems to be your lack of ability to see the view from the other side, despite the moniker you’ve chosen to use to post your comments.

BTW, the only reason AIPAC’s shtick works is because there are tens of millions of Evangelical Christians in the United States who buy into their crap and support Israel because of theological reasons, not to mention the inherent racism in that particular segment of American society. I would not adopt AIPAC’s tactics because a) it wouldn’t work for Arabs and b) I have more integrity than that. I’m here to tell the truth as honestly as I know it, not to lie to people and convince them that they need to support us or else the world as we know it will end if we don’t.

I realize that I have failed to persuade you and that I seem bumbling and incompetent to you. Oh well. You’ve already made up your mind, and quite frankly I don’t feel like spending the hours and days it would take to educate you. You can remain in your ignorant bubble for all I care.

At any rate, I’m expressing my take on the current state of affairs. If you came here just to pick a fight with someone then you chose the wrong guy. When you have a substantial counter-argument then I’ll consider engaging you in a discussion, but for now I see no reason to respond any further if all you have to offer is puerile invective.

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May 15th, 2008, 7:49 am

 

149. TheOtherPointOfVieW said:

Abraham, I’m just up way too early! almost 4:00 a.m. EDT now.
Sure, SC is good but clearly much much more is needed. The reason the US is important to the region from an Arab perspective is because it is essentially the guarantor of the security of Israel and hence a key player in any solution to the crux of all problems in the ME. My reference to Qaddafi is in the context of his outburst at the recent Arab League meeting. Sure he has been part of the problem and is not altogether with it but despite the (sad) humor of his outburst there was a lot of (sad) truth in it. In case you missed it:

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May 15th, 2008, 8:03 am

 

150. TheOtherPointOfVieW said:

Abraham, I’m not picking any fights. And I don’t believe that the US is benevolent. I’m just differing in opinion on the effective way to change the status quo, overcome the extreme weakness of the Arabic point of view in the US, and bring about real change as a result. Fundamentalist Christians who support Israel on Bibilical grounds are vocal but really not a majority. I’d advocate strategic struggle to counter AIPAC with persuasiveness a million times before I give cover to other approaches, for example suicide bombers whose action, no matter how sincere, heroic, and desperate, bring nothing other than misery on civilians and hate from the rest of the world. Peace.

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May 15th, 2008, 8:14 am

 

151. abraham said:

If you can read past the flowery language lionizing marines who fought and died in useless wars (something he’s prone to doing as a former marine himself), Scott Ritter makes a good case against going after Iran to somehow improve the situation in Iraq:

http://www.antiwar.com/orig/ritter.php?articleid=12837

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May 15th, 2008, 8:32 am

 

152. abraham said:

OtherPOV,

Here’s a rather eloquent article written by Bassem Naeem, the information minister for Hamas in Gaza:

http://commentisfree.guardian.co.uk/bassem_naeem/2008/05/hamas_condemns_the_holocaust.html

Run with it and see how much traction you can gain for the Palestinian cause in America. If the vitriolic comments are any indication you’ll be promptly drummed out of town by your local chapter of the JDL.

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May 15th, 2008, 9:01 am

 

153. SimoHurtta said:

I would have expected you of all people to be a bit more critical of Ahmadinejad. After all, he is, like Bush, a firm believer in the imminent return of Jesus (+ the Mahdi), and the political consequences thereof.

Come-on QN is Ahmadinejad as dangerous as emperor George Walker Bush Iraqius or the Israeli more or less religious and agressive leaders? I see it as a good sign of independent thinking and understanding of realities on the side of SC commentators, that they do not swallow the “Iran” and “Sunni-Shia struggle” propaganda so easily.

The military realities are that for example Saudi Arabia uses for its military $31.255 billion (2006), Iran $6.3 billion (2005) and Israel $18.7 billion (FY99). Iran uses to its military 3.5% (2005) of its GDP and Israel 9.4% (FY99).

Anybody who bothers to see the real military strength and structure of Iran’s army soon notices that it is purely defensive and has no capacity to invade neighbours. Israel’s army on the other hand has increasingly developed to dominate a large area with radius of thousands of kilometres. Much more than the defence needs of Israel would justify. So who is more dangerous to world peace?

When I read the news Israeli and US nuts (= politicians and military men) lead in threats of war and destruction against Iran with the ratio of 50 to 1. Israel is constantly threatening Iran for allegedly trying to create something Israel has in masses. That is simply absurd hypocrisy.

Iran’s influence in the region is purely political. Of course the large Shia minorities and Iraq’s Shia majority seek support and protection from Iran. What other options do they have?

Of course this Iran and Sunni/Shia propaganda is linked to the resource war. USA needs to control Iran in order to be able to control Iraq. USA needs to control Iran if it wants to control to be able to control the Caspian region. And Israel controls USA. :)

USA’s (and Israel’s) greatest fear besides Pan-Arabism is that Russia and Iran openly build an strong alliance. That alliance could control much of Eurasian energy reserves, trade and trade routes. And the Sunni Arab oil producers would have a strong “temptation” to join that alliance. Anybody with basic mathematical skills can calculate what kind of treasure Iran’s and Iraq’s remaining oil and gas reserves are. Wisely used they would make these nations extremely prosperous and strong. That would inexorably shift the present world’s financial realities and make Middle East a new “El Dorado”. And that is something Israel and USA do not want to happen. They prefer that oil is drilled and sold cheaply, when the nations remain in a state of governable civil wars and fragmented (= weak).

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May 15th, 2008, 9:04 am

 

154. qunfuz said:

QN – Have I misunderstood your suggestion that Iran try to follow a policy closer to Saudi Arabia’s? When I was in Iran I visited a Zoroastrian temple and the beautiful Armenian churches of Isfahan. Temples and churches are illegal in Saudi Arabia. I had conversations with bright and friendly Iranian women. Saudi women are kept segregated from men and are not permitted to drive. Both regimes are unpopular with their people. The difference is that in Saudi Arabia people are scared to say so in public. In Iran I heard people shouting abuse against the government, in Farsi, in crowded tea houses. If I were an Israeli Jew I’d feel much more comfortable with Iran than Saudi. In SA, although the regime collaborates with zionism, the domestic rhetoric is all about Jews being pigs and monkeys. In Iran there is an understanding that the conflict is political, that it’s about zionism and occupation.

As for foreign policy, SA has funded and backed the most grotesque Wahhabi fundamentalist groups everywhere from west africa to central asia. The Taliban was in large part a Saudi creation. In Lebanon, the March 14th project lost its credibility because it was pushed by SA and the US to refuse any compromise with the Shia, the biggest sect in the country and the most traumatised by the long Israeli occupation, and with the multi-sect opposition, representing half the country. The Saudi regime has also, of course, allowed the US to launch its war on Iraq from Saudi bases. The destruction of Iraq is, obviously, a tragedy and a crime which the region and the world will take decades to recover from.

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May 15th, 2008, 9:16 am

 

155. abraham said:

OtherPOV,

I think it’s unfair to say the Arabs haven’t tried persuading America to be more even-handed in the Middle East. Unfortunately, money talks. And the Saudis being the guys with the money, their agenda is the line that the Americans have traditionally followed. Saudi Arabia’s agenda hasn’t always been benevolent towards their fellow Arabs.

9/11 obviously changed the landscape and America, with Bush “leading”, decided it wanted to go to war with the Arabs and damn the diplomacy.

At current, literally thousands of Arabs are dying and will be dying for the foreseeable future due to American aggression, so I don’t see us as having time to stop it through dialogue and lobbying. Full force in return is required in this instance, and so therefore I view the moves and actions by Iran, Syria and their allies to be crucial in stopping the slaughter. The time for dialogue will come when the US is utterly defeated and is finally willing to admit it. At this point, the prospect of an American defeat is not a matter of if, but when.

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May 15th, 2008, 9:19 am

 

156. qunfuz said:

and let me quickly add that SA has also done its best to fill european mosques full of nasty wahhabi material. the saudi regime has been a disaster for islam as well as everything else.

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May 15th, 2008, 9:20 am

 

157. TheOtherPointOfVieW said:

Abraham, this is a very good article. Thank You. I’m not sure I understand the last sentence in your post (and I’m not being facetious). Are you suggesting that counterarguments and counterexamples will be raised about other declarations from or on behalf of Hamas that are inflammatory and which can be considered as encouraging “terrorism” ?
In the end, the kind of language and argumentation presented in that article is exactly what everyone who is honest, decent, and fair can rally around, strongly defend and advocate, and vote on its basis (in the US). The one challenge I expect – and which has always been the most difficult argument to counter – is that regardless of rights and fairness nothing justifies the adoption and promotion of attacks targeted against innocent civilians (by any side). Launch of rockets indiscriminately towards civilian areas and suicide bombings are always singled out. It is hard to argue that these are legitimate “resistance” actions. Of course I do know and have always vehemently condemned the Israeli actions which while claiming to target “military” targets in Gaza (aka as political assassinations) wantonly kill a large number of civilians — denoted as collateral damage by Israel. What I advocate is the categorical condemnation of both methods. I don’t think there is consensus today on doing that in the Arab world – certainly not from Hamas. Herein, I believe, lies a weakness in making the case.

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May 15th, 2008, 9:32 am

 

158. ausamaa said:

“Arabs haven’t tried persuading America to be more even-handed in the Middle East”

Why should they?

Does the US of A NEED someone to Persuade her that it being even-handed approach is a much better policy than siding blindly with Israel and later with the small feefdoms in Saudi, Qatar, etc..?

But it seems now that the US, like any other power, naturally listens more to the voice of Force, than it does to to the voice of reason.

When one know what they want, work towards, make the needd sacrefices and become Strong enough to protect themselves and assert their role, then the powers that might be, the US or any other power or interest, will listen to them.

World politics are not run on a Charity basis. Is it?

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May 15th, 2008, 9:46 am

 

159. abraham said:

OtherPOV, what I’m suggesting is that zionist propaganda is so extreme and virulent that they will employ all their resources to rebut and discredit this finely worded essay. You will probably not see any US newspapers (paper or online) run it, and most Americans will never know that Hamas is capable of civilized discourse and pragmatism. All they will hear is what the zionists want them to hear, and the newspapers and politicians will go along with them because of the fear they have of losing advertisers or voters due to pressure campaigns.

Do no underestimate the power of the Lobby.

So what I was suggesting is to try to pass this article around and get it published in the US in any mainstream publication and then report back here and let us know how it goes.

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May 15th, 2008, 10:21 am

 

160. TheOtherPointOfVieW said:

Abraham, actually the comments section following the article is quite illustrative of what you indicate, but also has some powerful and well worded supporting comments. I wouldn’t give up so quickly or easily on American public opinion. The fact that President Carter visited with Hamas should be an indication that such messages as conveyed in the article are getting an American ear. This fight for world (and in particular US) public opinion is extremely hard – probalby much harder than the military fight – but it sure is worth fighting and, in my opinion, the real way to peace and justice. I will always go back, however, at the end, to the necessity, in order to foil the challengers and naysayers, to the necessity of making the bold step or renouncing attacks that target civilians. The counterarguments that refer to those attacks are the hardest to refute. — I maintain that, if such renoucement does happen, the number of vocal supporters for Hamas that will come out of the woodwork, both in the Arab world and in the US, that number will be surpringly overwhelming. How likely is it, in your opinion, that the Hamas leadership would respond to such plea of renouncing the targeting of civilians?
[I do know that I may get irony in response to my question because of the pressure being put on Hamas now, pressure which does include disproportionate civilian casualties on their end. But really, we have to start somewhere. Otherwise the escalation will be almost perpetual.]
Peace

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May 15th, 2008, 10:39 am

 

161. SimoHurtta said:

Launch of rockets indiscriminately towards civilian areas and suicide bombings are always singled out. It is hard to argue that these are legitimate “resistance” actions.

Well it would be TheOtherPointOfVieW interesting to know what are “legitimate” resistance actions. What is the difference between Jewish terrorism before (and after) 1948 and present Palestinian resistance. I do not see any difference. Is leaving a bomb in a hotel or market place more “heroic” than suicide bombing? Is Palestinian terrorism worse or less severe as Israeli state terrorism performed by IDF and settlers?

If Israelis have a right to protect their soviet immigrants lives, why on earth do not have Palestinians the same right to protect their rights and lives? Speaking and demonstrations have not brought Palestinians any step further towards peace and decent coexistence. Israeli Jews have not left them any other possible strategy than military resistance. Naturally the role of rockets and suicide bombings is to force Israel to negotiate and give Palestinians their share.

Israel has had 60 years time to resolve the Palestine problem with negotiations. Has it done that ever in earnest and honestly?

If Palestinians would be Jews and Israeli Jews Arabs, the Jews would most certainly use exactly the same military resistance methods as Palestinians now use. The Palestinians need for resistance has basically nothing to do with their race and religion. Any tribe or nation would react in such ways if their lands would be stolen and they would be forced in isolated ghettos incapable of surviving.

The weaker party can force the stronger to peace only by making it to expensive for the stronger to continue its policy. As we have seen so many times happen in the past around the world. Without stubborn and successful (= costly in lives and property) resistance Israeli Jews would not have any reason to negotiate. The stronger and agressive the resistance becomes, the more important and urgent for Israel becomes to find a solution. It hardly can use Adolf H.’s solution method in Gaza.

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May 15th, 2008, 11:16 am

 

162. TheOtherPointOfVieW said:

Simo, good question. My answer is that one example of “legitimate” resistance actions is those undertaken by Ghandi. He was successful. So far, Hamas has not.

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May 15th, 2008, 11:29 am

 

163. Akbar Palace said:

Sim said:

Has it done that ever in earnest and honestly?

Yes.

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

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May 15th, 2008, 11:55 am

 

164. Akbar Palace said:

Sim said:

Israel has had 60 years time to resolve the Palestine problem with negotiations. Has it done that ever in earnest and honestly?

Sim,

Yes, Israel did try to “resolve the Palestine problem with negotiations”, both “earnest and honestly”.

BTW – No Palestinian “government” ever existed until 1964 (the PLO)so at most, you could say 44 years. And in 1964, Israel didn’t have the West Bank, Gaza, or the Golan. These areas were claimed by other Arab countries.

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

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May 15th, 2008, 12:02 pm

 

165. Qifa Nabki said:

Nour, Simo, Qunfuz, et al,

Do you agree with Abraham that there is no qualitative difference between U.S. politics and Iranian politics? Do you agree that the censorship, jailing, and intimidation of intellectuals in Iran is just as prevalent in the United States?

I need to do a litmus test before I conclude that Syria Comment has truly lost all sense of balance and reason.

(I’ll get back to the rest of y’all later.)

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May 15th, 2008, 1:14 pm

 

166. Qifa Nabki said:

Nour,

Before I can begin to respond to you, I need to know whether you use the word “nation” to mean the Arab nation, or smaller nations like Lebanon, Syria, etc.

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May 15th, 2008, 1:16 pm

 

167. why-discuss said:

QUNFUZ

I agree with you about the destructive influence of Saudi Arabia in the area. The deformation and the vilification of Islam in the west is largely their responsibility. 9/11 and Al Qaeda are mostly Saudi initiated organized crime.
Iran has had a revolution to become independent from foreign powers and it has succeeded. No more the US or Britain or Russia can dictate Iran on what they should do. We see exactly the contrary happenning. A total change if you look at Iran’s history where corrupted Shahs were manipulated and exploited by foreign powers. We may disagree on the religious restrictions and continuous suscpicions of the west’s motives in the aftermath of the revolution. But Iran is a prodigiously creative society. Just look at the numbers of scientist, artists this country is producing, it is a slow and sometime frustrating development, but it is moving ahread to fulfill its potential.

List of modern Iranian scientists and engineers

List of famous Iranians in all fields
Arabs can only benefit from Iran’s intellectual and cultural wealth, the same way that Arab Islam benefited tremendously from Persian culture to create the extraordinary Islamic culture.
If you look at Saudi Arabia, despite its huge oil revenues, it is stagnating, socially paralyzed by a static religion and by rulers who are apathetic and fearful. Their foreign policy is unexistant, other than propagate their extremist version of Islam and investing in hotels and condos worldwide.
You can argue that Saudi Arabia is a new country, so was Canada and the US when they started to exist.
Saudi Arabia needs something to shake it out of its inertia. The growth of Iran’s influence in the area and worldwide (Iran is dealing now successfully with South American countries) is making the Saudis grind their teeth. Yet, maybe that is how they will wake up and make change to their society.

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May 15th, 2008, 1:30 pm

 

168. why-discuss said:

Qunfuz

LIST OF NOTABLLE IRANIANS ( Scientific, culture etc..)
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Iranians

Where is the Saudi list?

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May 15th, 2008, 1:35 pm

 

169. Shai said:

TOPOV,

I must admit that in many ways, Simo and Abraham are right. While I can never accept as legitimate suicide bombings, or 7 year-long continuous shelling of Israeli population centers with Qassam rockets, I do agree that Israel is not leaving the Palestinians much choice. Our so-called negotiations have led us nowhere over the years. The problem has to do with dignity, and respect, and freedom, no less than with giving back a particular patch of land or another. While Israelis expect the Palestinians to rush towards them with kisses and hugs when we unilaterally withdraw from Gaza, we don’t seem to understand the extent of the problem. It spans not only historic, geographic, social and economic realms, but indeed deeply emotional ones as well. And when Israelis continue to treat the Palestinians as a side to be forced to accept certain realities, and not as an equal partner, then of course violence will persist. Those stupid-missiles (as opposed to “smart missiles”), the Qassams, are the Palestinian’s last ounces of dignity.

They cannot smuggle huge quantities of arms, armored vehicles, tanks, even planes, like Israel did once in order to quickly build an army that would fight “conventionally” on the battle field. Their misfortune, is that they are doomed to fight “dirty”, primitively, unconventionally, guerilla-like, and in a way recognized by most developed nations today as “terrorism”. That is why most nations do not recognize Hamas. And that is why they must also fight the battle for world media recognition. There are tremendous resources available in the Arab-controlled media, but unfortunately they’re hardly used with the intention of changing world public opinion about the Palestinians. They’re used more internally than outwards. Israel, too, has failed in “marketing”, or speaking, to the Arabic media. If it did, many in the Arab world could become aware of other sides of Israel and Israelis, that are ready to change the course of our history. But the armed struggle, or the resistance, cannot stop.

Simo, I disagree with you about Israeli capabilities “… developed to dominate a large area with radius of thousands of kilometres.” While our weapons certainly have much more offensive, than defensive, capabilities, that is in fact part of our military doctrine, and for a reason. From the birth of our nation, our forefathers have understood Israel’s innate disadvantages over our Arab neighbors. They are, of course, land and population. Unlike many other nations, Israel has no strategic depth (it did in the Sinai while it held on to it, but no longer). We cannot afford to fight a foreign army inside our territory. That is why we have always opted to preempt in war, and to fight on our rival’s territory, and not on ours. Many great nations have different doctrines, which very much enable them to draw the enemy in, and to defeat him on their own territory. Russia and China are just two examples.

And, because Israel’s population has always been significantly smaller than our rival’s, it was also the case that we would have to have every man and woman (almost) serving in the army, serving in reserves for many years, and hence be able to create a fairly large army in time of war. But, we still cannot, by any means, conquer significant quantity of land (certainly not inhabited) deep inside enemy territory. The Sinai was an exception (having some 200 kilometer depth), because it is essentially a desert. The West Bank, Gaza, and even the Golan, were territories that were fairly easy to conquer and keep. Though even there (West Bank) we see how much resources have to go into Occupation and, in the end, Israel realized it couldn’t hold on to it without settlements. Israel cannot do the same in Syria, for instance. It cannot advance 200 kilometers inland (conquering and passing Damascus by some 160 kms), and hold on to this territory for long. We simply don’t have the manpower for the task. We see how the Americans can barely occupy Iraq, with no less than half a million soldiers on the ground, rotating every few months. Israel doesn’t have that luxury of resources. In 1973, we pushed towards Cairo and Damascus, but stopped short of both, because there was no way we could maintain occupation of either (even if in theory we could capture them). So not hundreds of kilometers, and certainly not thousands, under Israeli control. We can barely keep a few tens of kilometers depth under occupation. But indeed we can penetrate and severely damage targets thousands of kilometers away.

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May 15th, 2008, 1:40 pm

 

170. JustOneAmerican said:

Simo,

As a military man myself, you’ll have to explain exactly how rocket fire into civilian areas and bombing cafes full of civilians protects the rights and lives of Palestinians. The evidence shows it does the opposite, actually. It’s quite amazing to me how pervasive this line of thought is in the ME on both sides – that if only you murder enough innocents then your enemy will be forced to “negotiate.” When has this ever occurred? This stupid regional machismo (maybe there’s something in the water?) that both Israel and its enemies engage in will do nothing but prolong suffering and push negotiation further into the future.

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May 15th, 2008, 1:49 pm

 

171. EHSANI2 said:

Mccain has just predicted that the war in Iraq will be “won” (no defintion given of course) by 2013. This is when the troops will be back home. Here you have it. This is the first time that the senator is heard commiting to a date. The possibility of a 100-year stay has suddenly been reduced to five.

This will be music to the ears of Damascus and Tehran.

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May 15th, 2008, 2:07 pm

 

172. norman said:

JustOneAmerican ,

You are right , killing brings more killing , if people put themselves in their enemies shoes , the Mideast will be much better off.

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May 15th, 2008, 2:10 pm

 

173. Shai said:

Ehsani2,

By the time McNamara and Johnson resigned, having failed miserably in Vietnam, some 29,000 American soldiers had lost their lives. But, even upon realizing that America must withdraw its troops from Vietnam, and indeed beginning to implement such withdrawal, its leaders were still unable to prevent a further 29,000 soldiers from dying! Imagine that, another 100%…

So if McCain wins, and even if he comes to the inevitable conclusion sometime in the middle of his administration, America will still suffer another 5-10,000 dead soldiers. Those who do not learn from history, are bound to repeat it. Seems this has been said so many times, that people tend to just ignore it… shame.

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May 15th, 2008, 2:22 pm

 

174. AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Hamas write nice articles for the Guardian but to their followers they tell the truth:
“Now more than ever I tell you – we will never recognize Israel… We will form the Palestinian state on all of Palestine’s territories and the sun of liberty will burn the Zionists. To them I say – you will lose. You will leave and we will keep hounding you. The blood of our slain sons will haunt you forever,” he said.

http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-3543208,00.html

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May 15th, 2008, 2:31 pm

 

175. norman said:

The Five years fits nice with Mccain second term ,

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May 15th, 2008, 2:37 pm

 

176. EHSANI2 said:

“Democratic hold on Jewish vote could slip
McCain, matched against Obama, senses an opening”

This is the headline of a story in the WSJ today.

Mr. Obama is well aware of the risk of losing the Jewish vote to the Republicans. He made an appearance in DC at the Israeli Embassy celebration of the 60th anniversary of Israel’s independence last week. After his prepared remarks, he offered this assurance:

“I pledge to you that I will do whatever I can, in whatever capacity, to not only ensure Israel’s security but also to ensure the people of Israel are able to thrive”.

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May 15th, 2008, 2:46 pm

 

177. Nour said:

QN,

First, I’m a Syrian nationalist, so when I refer to the nation I am talking of the SYRIAN nation, in its all-encompassing sense.

Second, no I don’t believe that the system of governance in Iran is equivalent to that of the US, as I don’t accept the concept of a religious state, which I know can only lead to oppressive rule, but I believe that’s for the Iranians to determine for themselves.

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May 15th, 2008, 2:47 pm

 

178. norman said:

This is a printer friendly version of an article from http://www.washingtontimes.com
To print this article open the file menu and choose Print.

——————————————————————————–
Article published May 14, 2008
Hezbollah’s guns trump the pen

May 14, 2008

By Claude Salhani – Lebanon has always been a country of many contradictions.

It’s the only country in the Arab world with a functioning parliamentary system not dependent on, and which does not answer to, the executive. That, however is true only when the country has a sitting president and when the parliament actually functions.

The country has been without a president since November 2007 and the parliament’s 128 members have been incapable of coming to an agreement regarding the election of the next president.

Lebanon is also the only country in the Arab world where the president is elected through a democratic process; well, sort of. That is when the members of parliament can fill two requirements.

First, fill the required quorum to hold an election (which is not as obvious as it might seem) and second, to vote on the preselected candidate. There is usually only one candidate and the blessings from Damascus are a prerequisite before any election may proceed.

The other anomaly of this tiny country the size of Rhode Island is that it has been the undoing of more than one invading army, as history will attest.

A few miles to the north of Beirut just before the town of Jounieh is the Dog River, or Nahr el-Kalb in Arabic. The 19-mile river thats runs from the famous Jeita Grottos to the Mediterranean Sea served as the demarcation line between Egypt and the Hittites in the 14th century B.C. At the mouth of the river where the coastal highway crosses the tiny river are a number of plaques, steles and monuments erected by past conquerors; they include Ramses II, Nebuchadnezzar and Marcus Aurelius, as well as mementos left by more recent visitors, modern-day armies of France and Great Britain.

Lebanon has been a land of contradictions because of its unique composition — 18 different religious confessions and with Christians holding much of the power in a region of the world overwhelmingly dominated by Islam.

Lebanon is also a country of contradictions where age-old myths are deconstructed in a manner similar in which one would debunk a child’s fairy tale — except in Lebanon that construction is usually carried out in a manner involving utmost violence.

That was the case last week when clashes broke out in Beirut, leaving a trail of 34 dead and many more wounded and widening even more the political gap between Sunnis and Shi’ites.

The violence was between Sunni forces loyal to Prime Minister Fouad Siniora — backed by the United States, its Arab allies and France — as they face off against the powerful Shi’ite Hezbollah organization that receives financial, military, logistics, weapons and munitions and technical advisers from Iran and Syria.

In resorting to violence against their fellow Lebanese, something Hezbollah chief Hassan Nasrallah publicly said he would never do, not only did Hezbollah renege on a promise, but shattered the age-old belief that the pen is mightier than the sword.

Last week’s violence served to widen even more the political chasm already separating the various Lebanese parties has sadly proved that the sword, or more precisely in this case the AK47 assault rifle, accompanied by the odd rocket propelled grenade and a wild mob, can be mightier than the pen. At least for now, the final word is far from having been said in this latest dispute.

Indeed, the drastic events in the Lebanese capital last week amount to little more than strong-armed tactics to enforce censorship by the Syrian- and Iranian-backed Hezbollah and to silence a more liberal press opposed to their way of thinking.

The Shi’ite militias’ very first action was to neutralize all media outlets belonging to the Future Movement, the political gathering loyal to Saad Hariri, the son and political heir of assassinated former Prime Minister Rafiq Hariri.

The targets included Future TV, al-Mustaqbal newspaper and other media outlets belonging to the Hariri group. Typical targets in any conventional coup d’etat. And if for the moment neither the Syrians nor the Iranians have left their footprint at the Dog River, Damascus and Tehran are aiming for far greater rewards than a plaque, a stele or an obscure monument to join other relics of the past.

Their aim is to leave their imprint on far more real estate than a stopover for tourists. Let us not be fooled by what is transpiring in Lebanon; the stakes are high, far higher than many people realize. At stake is democracy’s only foothold in the Arab world.

It is imperative for the sake of the Free World that Lebanon regains its independence and becomes neither an Iranian or a Syrian colony.

Claude Salhani is editor of the Middle East Times.

——————————————————————————–

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May 15th, 2008, 2:48 pm

 

179. AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Nour,
How can an oppressed people decide for themselves? You want the Iranians and Syrians to decide for themselves, but doesn’t that mean democracy and a true public debate? Your words ring hollow because all they mean is that the person with the biggest gun controls the country, not that the people decide for themselves. Can the people decide not to have Asad in Syria? Of course not.

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May 15th, 2008, 3:03 pm

 

180. why-discuss said:

Why are the jews and the Israelis so worried about Obama? Most of the world seem to like the guy…

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May 15th, 2008, 3:03 pm

 

181. EHSANI2 said:

AnotherIsraeliGuy,

You are absolutely right. It is either the big guns or a blanket security arrangement with Washington D.C. that are the prerequisites to rule a country in the Middle East.

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May 15th, 2008, 3:07 pm

 

182. AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Ehsani,
You are right but even with the blanket security agreement with the US, you still need the guns against internal opposition. The US protects the Kwuait and Qatar etc. from foreign foes but internally they use their own guns to keep things quiet.

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May 15th, 2008, 3:16 pm

 

183. AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

I’ll tell you why I am worried about Obama. If he thinks he can get anything from Syria or Iran just by negotiations then he is very naive. The Turks got results from Asad concerning the PKK becuse they threatened force. You need to use both negotiations and the threat of force with Syria and Iran.

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May 15th, 2008, 3:19 pm

 

184. Akbar Palace said:

Why-Dicuss said:

Why are the jews and the Israelis so worried about Obama? Most of the world seem to like the guy…

FYI, Jews like Obama too. Right now, the polls are showing that a majority of American Jews are going to vote for Obama. And if it is any indication, Jews voted 79% for Gore and 74% for Kerry.

So yes, it looks like American Jews overwhelmingly vote for the same candidate that Hamas prefers;) (and I thought Jews were smart)

JustOneAmerican said:

As a military man myself, you’ll have to explain exactly how rocket fire into civilian areas and bombing cafes full of civilians protects the rights and lives of Palestinians. The evidence shows it does the opposite, actually. … This stupid regional machismo (maybe there’s something in the water?) that both Israel and its enemies engage in will do nothing but prolong suffering and push negotiation further into the future.

If only Israel had the luxury of defending itself like the US does. Actually, Israel scrutinizes her targets more carefully than any other army in the world. Also, in the case of the Arab-Israeli conflict, Israel kills about half as many non-combatants as the Palestinians do (even though the Palestinians usually fire from residential areas).

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May 15th, 2008, 3:32 pm

 

185. Nour said:

AIG,

No matter what we write you always come back to the same lame argument. All nations go through various conditions and circumstances in their histories, and they normally figure out their issues and deal with them on their own. Europe had to go through many upheavals and dark periods in its history before it reached where it is today. I don’t believe that foreign powers have the right to interfere in the internal affairs of another nation, as they do not understand the nature of such nation or the reasons for its current status, nor do they have the same interests as the people of that nation. I am not going to attack Iran because I don’t like their system; this is up to them to figure it out. I treat Iran as another nation with its own interests and deal with it on that basis. I would wish the same from others dealing with my nation.

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May 15th, 2008, 3:41 pm

 

186. Naji said:

A very signifact development in Lebanon… an agreement seems to have just been brokered by Qatar between ALL the sides and Lebanese parties… with talks in Doha to start tomorrow… on a path to replace the Taif Accords… signaling the final and total eclipse of Saudi/Egytptian significance in the region, replaced by the rising moon (crescent!) of a Syria-Qatar-Iran “axis” of moderation… leaving Saudi/Israel/Egypt (and satellites) in their own axis-of-the-snubbed-flunkies… just like we all predicted after the Damascus Summit…!!

All is well that ends well…!
Let’s hope this has just ended, and…ended well…!!
On the 60th anniverasy of the Nakba, …the Pheonix rises from the ashes …again…! Happy Easter…
Happy Summer, all…! :)

(QN, you owe me…! Remember…?!)

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May 15th, 2008, 3:43 pm

 

187. AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Nour,
All you write does not change the fact that “leaving Syria alone” does not mean doing what the Syrians want, it means doing what the dictator Asad wants. The maxim that foreign powers should not interfer in internal issues is bogus. Would you still support it if Israel decided to kill all of its Arab citizens? Would you say, it is just an internal affair let’s do nothing or would you demand the US and Europe intervene? How about if Israel decided to treat its Arab citizens like Syria treated its Jews (no traveling allowed, confiscation of property etc.)? Would you demand an intervention?

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May 15th, 2008, 3:57 pm

 

188. Naji said:

All the road-blocks are being removed right now… immediately after the press conference announcing the agreement… right now…!!

I wonder how Future TV and Al Arabia are going to stop spewing out hatered, per the agreement, …do they even know how to stop…?! Do they even have any other material…?!

The first commercial flight is about to land in Beirut Airport, barely 20 minutes after the announcement of the agreement… In another hourand a half a commecial flight is scheduled to take-off…!!! The weekend is saved and Beirut will be jamming tonight…
That’s the Syrian can-do spirit at its best… gotta love Lebanon…!!

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May 15th, 2008, 4:01 pm

 

189. AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Naji,
This will end well? I do not know how it will end but I am sure of the following:
1) The economic situation in Lebanon will worsen
2) More Lebanese will leave their country
3) There are going to be well armed and well trained Sunni militias in Lebanon in the near future
4) There is less trust between the communities and more potential for civil strife or even a civil war
5) Lebanon is not one inch closer to being a democracy

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May 15th, 2008, 4:02 pm

 

190. Naji said:

It’s those ugly Israeli eyes again…!

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May 15th, 2008, 4:15 pm

 

191. AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

In the end 70+ are dead just so decisions that would never have been implemented would be taken back and the status quo before May 5th returns. The government does not resign and nothing basically changes. Why? Because Hizballah have no end game.

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May 15th, 2008, 4:17 pm

 

192. AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Naji,
Only your magic eyes can see what is not there.

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May 15th, 2008, 4:19 pm

 

193. wizart said:

Dear Naji,

The future of Lebanon begins today and I’m looking forward to their entertainment shows to start thursday night with perhaps another episode of Sahar Khatib spilling her heart out about how half the Lebanese people have had their voices shut for a week while opposition stations have had the media all to themselves!

My previous comment to you was released before the airport opened. Now I feel better and more hopeful the art of compromise is being practiced and the political class is ready to seek a better future.

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May 15th, 2008, 4:27 pm

 

194. Nour said:

AIG,

Again, you don’t want to do what the Syrian people want. You want to do what AIG wants. Besides, you demonstrate a shallow understanding of the development of societies and the conditions that lead to the rise of democracies. You also contradict yourself, as in a previous discussion you indicated that you do not support the change of the Syrian regime through foreign interference.

In any case, as I said previously, ALL nations go through their ups and downs. When the Union soldiers under Abraham Lincoln were slaughtering southerners who dared to secede from the US, do you believe that European powers should have intervened, bombed the US, imposed sanctions on it, and helped the south achieve independence? When France had to go through various oppressive systems after the Revolution, do you believe that another power should have occupied France and imposed a “democracy” on the French? Why is it that other nations are allowed to experience their growing pains naturally and without foreign interference, while you believe that we need to be taught by the West how to govern ourselves? This type of mentality is exactly what has gotten the region into the mess it finds itself in today. Over a million Iraqis dead and 6 million displaced, for what exactly? For the last time, the social conditions on the ground today in our nation do not provide the right environment for the spontaneous rise of a democracy. I don’t care how many foreigners you bring in to invade and attack our country.

As for “Israel” I oppose it because it is not a natural nation. It is an artificial entity built on the land of another exclusively for a particularistic group that is alien to that land. The natural inhabitants of that land are the only people with the right to determine their destiny; not European powers implanting a foreign people there and imposing a status quo on the local population.

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May 15th, 2008, 4:30 pm

 

195. Nour said:

Naji,

This is indeed a great development. I guess the loyalists got some sense knocked into them by the swift action of the Opposition against their arrogance and aggression. In addition, of course, to the realization that the USA is not coming to their rescue.

In any case, I hope this will finally bring stability to Lebanon and the country can move forward.

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May 15th, 2008, 4:34 pm

 

196. Akbar Palace said:

As for “Israel” I oppose it because it is not a natural nation.

Nour,

Please define “natural nation”. Try to stay away from the Osama bin Laden and Ahmadinejad defintion if you can;)

Joke of the Day (ref. BBC ME website):

All militias must deliver their weapons to the army with no exceptions, that’s the first step toward peace

Emilio, Lebanon

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May 15th, 2008, 4:39 pm

 

197. norman said:

Naji, Nour,

will see.

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May 15th, 2008, 4:40 pm

 

198. AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Nour,
I am against armed intervention but not against foreign non-armmed intervention which is very important in helping dissidents.

“For the last time, the social conditions on the ground today in our nation do not provide the right environment for the spontaneous rise of a democracy.”

The main problem I have with this statement is that this has been the excuse given by most dictators for why they should stay in power. So let me ask, what social conditions need to change and what is Asad’s plan to change them?

The secondary issue I have with this statement is that it gives veto rights to the most extreme parts of society over the democratization project. All these organizations need to do is make extreme statements about mis-treating minorities and then this becomes an excuse against democracy.

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May 15th, 2008, 4:40 pm

 

199. Majhool said:

AIG Said: “Can the people decide not to have Asad in Syria? Of course not”

Of course they can:

Blogging: Sentence 3 years
Signing a petition: Sentence 5 years
Criticizing the president: 3 years
Talking to foreign media: 5 years
Joining a radical group: Death, life in prison.

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May 15th, 2008, 4:41 pm

 

200. abraham said:

OtherPOV said:

The fact that President Carter visited with Hamas should be an indication that such messages as conveyed in the article are getting an American ear.

I think it’s more indicative what happened to Carter after he met with Hamas. The man was vilified by the zionist community, and a good portion of the US media went along with them in lockstep. The same guy that brought peace between Israel and one of its staunchest adversaries was basically thrown under the bus. It wasn’t even a gut wrenching decision: Carter crossed a zionist line and had to be punished. They have utterly no respect whatsoever for Carter despite all he’s done for The Jewish State. This tells me everything I need to know about the climate in America for finding a peaceful solution. No doubt, the vast majority of Americans want to find a solution but we are being stymied by a minority of a minority (zionists).

It’s not that I’m just now giving up on American public opinion–I already did that a long time ago. In reality, American public opinion gave up on peace thanks to the demonization of the Palestinians and the one-sided narrative in the US that paints them as blood-thirsty, irredeemable terrorists bent on the destruction of the Jews. And as long as our major media and now even our politicians are engaging in this demonization, tell me, what hope is there for changing the landscape?

I’ve given up on America. America is not the solution, and has not been certainly for the last 8 years and not even for the past 16. America could never be the solution because we have always been biased towards Israel. America needs to remove itself from the process and let a truly neutral party take the helm of the push for peace. I know many people including Jews and Arabs have said there can’t be a solution without the US involved, but I submit the opposite is also true: there can’t be a solution with America involved. So I guess we are at an impasse. And when we get to points like this, either one side concedes after some indeterminate period of time (which isn’t likely to happen here) or violence ensues.

I will always go back, however, at the end, to the necessity, in order to foil the challengers and naysayers, to the necessity of making the bold step or renouncing attacks that target civilians.

The fact is the PLO did renounce terrorism, and many Palestinians frequently denounce terrorism, but that you think this is a “bold step” is indicative of how the US media does not carry these messages since you apparently never heard them. They only carry the message of hate and violence that come from the various Palestinian factions and insinuate that they represent all Palestinian thought. It is a sick bias.

And why must this be one-sided? Why are the Palestinians always singled out for perpetrating attacks on civilians when Israel does the same? I know Israel will say that there was a militant hiding in the midst of a crowd or that civilians were nearby when it fired a tank shell or that it’s not their fault that the apartment onto which they dropped a one ton bomb in the middle of the night had children in it. We’ve heard all the excuses before. They are pathetic. But the poor, besieged Israelis who have all the multi-million dollar high tech gadgetry are rarely taken to task for killing civilians. Oh sure, it’s mentioned in the stories we read and there is occasional condemnation by our politicians (accompanied by justifications and laudatory remarks by some of the more fanatical Israel supporters in our goverment) but on the whole–and there’s ample, documented proof of this–Israel is always cast as the victim and the Palestinians, even the 2 year old children shot through the head, are the aggressors.

I maintain that, if such renoucement does happen, the number of vocal supporters for Hamas that will come out of the woodwork, both in the Arab world and in the US, that number will be surpringly overwhelming.

Again, these renouncements have been made by successive Palestinian leaders and it all came to naught. Yassir Arafat renounced terror and violence during the Oslo Accord process and what did that achieve for the Palestinians? Nothing. The settlements continued to grow and Palestinians continued to be killed.

How likely is it, in your opinion, that the Hamas leadership would respond to such plea of renouncing the targeting of civilians?

If they knew it would actually be effective they would have done it a long time ago. But they’ve seen what happens when you offer concessions to Israel: they keep building settlements and they keep killing Palestinians.

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May 15th, 2008, 4:42 pm

 

201. wizart said:

I’ve been quite impressed by Abraham and Nour responces lately.

In a world where what’s essential is invisible to the eyes. Many Israelis continue to choose to go blind. More enlightening moments for those deeply in need of some Haskala and thanks for sharing ;)

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May 15th, 2008, 4:51 pm

 

202. abraham said:

To the Palestinian readers here, I stand with you on this day (and every day).

Long live Palestine!

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May 15th, 2008, 5:00 pm

 

203. abraham said:

AIG:

The maxim that foreign powers should not interfer in internal issues is bogus.

Unless we are talking about Israel, right?

Would you still support it if Israel decided to kill all of its Arab citizens? Would you say, it is just an internal affair let’s do nothing or would you demand the US and Europe intervene?

Like when has Israel responded to or even allowed any US or European intervention? You have 1.5 million Gazans starving on your border. Human rights groups all across the globe have decried Israel’s inhumane siege of Gaza, and yet you tell them to FOAD.

You are all talk, no substance.

How about if Israel decided to treat its Arab citizens like Syria treated its Jews (no traveling allowed, confiscation of property etc.)?

What? Isn’t that the current situation with the Palestinians?

DO YOU READ WHAT YOU WRITE?

I am literally shaking my head right now.

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May 15th, 2008, 5:04 pm

 

204. Majhool said:

Nour Said: “AIG, Again, you don’t want to do what the Syrian people want”

AIG,

Make no mistake, only Nour ( The radical SSNPer) knows what the Syrian people want.

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May 15th, 2008, 5:07 pm

 

205. abraham said:

Nour, in your 4:30pm comment, “particularistic” is a right fine word, but I think you meant to say merely “particular” ;)

Naji, thanks for the updates on the talks in Lebanon.

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May 15th, 2008, 5:09 pm

 

206. Naji said:

AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Naji,
Only your magic eyes can see what is not there.

May 15th, 2008, 4:19 pm

This is a land of magic, …of miracles, …of re-birth, …of rising in transcendence of the sins of man, …in transcendence of the brutality of man towards his fellow man, …in transcendence of humanity…
This is a land of divinity and enchantment…!

It is saddest that those who have expended so much energy, …who have caused so much misery and despair in usurping this land, now have no souls left to appreciate any of its magic and enchantments…

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May 15th, 2008, 5:10 pm

 

207. wizart said:

Abraham,

Everybody in Syria and Lebanon has a place in his heart for Palestine. Generally speaking because there are always exceptions so I don’t speak on behalf of anyone in particular except myself.

I’m an American citizen and I never give up on America because it was just a great idea before it became a country and it’s always being made and transformed by new immigrants like a lot of us here.

Long live a better world!

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May 15th, 2008, 5:11 pm

 
 

209. AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Naji,
Are you talking about the Ba’athists in general and Asads in particular? I am sure you are not talking about Israelis that have been able to create a great country.

Where is the Syrian magic you are talking about? It has been snuffed out by dictators.

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May 15th, 2008, 5:18 pm

 

210. AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Majhool,
That explains a lot. I didn’t realize she (I presume) was SSNP. These guys have a vile and antisemitic heritage.

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May 15th, 2008, 5:21 pm

 

211. Naji said:

See why I love the Wiz…!!??
America is a state of mind, …an idea, …an ideal all of humanity has been trying to make come true…!

Magic eyes…! ;)

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May 15th, 2008, 5:21 pm

 

212. wizart said:

Thanks Naji, Proud to share that love with a fellow global citizen like you and if every Israeli became an American then the Palestinians would all be free to go back home where they belong!

There’s room for everyone in this world and when we run out of space we can go occupy another planet with the more experienced Israelis on our side;)

Lots of love to all fellow humans, we all share about 99.9% of the same DNA which is slightly more than we all share with monkeys :)

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May 15th, 2008, 5:36 pm

 

213. Alex said:

Wizart,

Sorry, I only found Why-Discuss, AP, and other messages in the spam filter, but I did not find yours. I can only access the last few hundred messages in that directory …and we receive hundreds of spam comments ever few hours.

AIG,

Nour is a he, not a she.

And I suggest you get used to the SSNP, I think it is on its way back in Syria. It will of course be updated to fit today’s Syria.

And Nour is speaking for a majority of Syrians, or even Arabs if we remember the recent opinion poll in the moderate Arab states where Nasrallah and Assad were the two most popular Arab leaders.

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May 15th, 2008, 5:38 pm

 

214. Alex said:

McCain says he will withdraw from Iraq!

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May 15th, 2008, 5:41 pm

 

215. AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

This is from the SSNP site explaining about the Jews in Syria:
http://www.ssnp.com/new/ssnp/en/ssnp.htm

“This principle cannot be said to imply that Jews are a part of the Syrian nation and equal in rights and duties to the Syrians. Such an interpretation is incompatible with this principle which excludes the integration of elements with alien and exclusive racial loyalties in the Syrian nation. Such elements cannot fit into any homogeneous nation.

There are large settlements of immigrants in Syria, such as the Armenians, Kurds and Circassians, whose assimilation is possible given sufficient time. These elements may dissolve in the nation and lose their special loyalties. But there is one large settlement which can not in any respect be reconciled to the principle of Syrian nationalism, and that is the Jewish settlement. IT is a dangerous settlement which can never be assimilated because it consists of a people that, although it has mixed with many other peoples, has remained a heterogeneous mixture, not a nation, with strange stagnant beliefs and aims of its own, essentially incompatible with Syrian rights and sovereignty ideals. It is the duty of the Syrian Social Nationalists to repulse the immigration of this people with all their might.”

The SSNP are antisemites of the worst kind. They single out the Jews as a “special” minority that can never be Syrian.

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May 15th, 2008, 5:43 pm

 

216. ausamaa said:

Qifa Nabki

Nation or what? You really want a differntiation to what is being reffered to?

Nation is
يعني مجموعة شعوب من نفس القومية
. أمة مثل الأمة العربية أو الأمة السورية عند القوميين السوريين

People is

شعب.. مثل الشعب العربي السوري و الشعب العربي اللبناني و الشعب العربي الفلسطيني

بس ليش عم تسأل؟ عم تفكر تعمل لك أمة معينة مثلا؟؟؟؟؟؟؟؟

و شو المشكلة مع أيران يا قفا نبك؟ خلصنا من المعارضة اللبنانية مثلا منشان يجي دور أيران

أو عم نحاول نغير الموضوع مثلا؟؟

بسيطة هونها بتهون و عسى أن تكرهوا شيئا……
!!!

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May 15th, 2008, 5:44 pm

 

217. AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Alex,
I will not get used to the SSNP. Their ideology is racist and vile. I am surprised you don’t find it troubling.

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May 15th, 2008, 5:45 pm

 

218. abraham said:

Wizart, I haven’t given up on America, just its news media and politicians.

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May 15th, 2008, 5:52 pm

 

219. Alex said:

AIG,

This is part of what I meant when I said that it will be “updated”.
But I can explain to you what is behind those words … if you read the story I posted about Syrian Jews, many of htem said that they felt so bad that they were living, eating and drinking from Syria, yet in their hearts they sided with Israel against Syria… And that was part of the reason they decided to leave Syria.. because they felt guilt towards their good Syrian neighbors and friends.

I find that admirable, and understandable.

But, when Israel ceases to be Syria’s enemy, then Syrian Jews will easily fit in Syria even if they still love Israel. And I know that Syria will make every effort to continue to communicate with them and to invite them to visit or come back to retire in Syria…

I understand how radical the SSNP can sound,that’s why I think it needs some updates. But the great thing about it is that it combines two things that are missing from ALL other significant parties in the Middle East …. it is genuinely secular and most of its members are known to be non corruptible.

For example .. the SSNP members who were slaughtered by Hariri’s militias were Christians and Sunnies.

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May 15th, 2008, 5:53 pm

 

220. Majhool said:

AIG,

There are two kinds of SSNPers

1) Those who believe that the Levant shares a viable cultural identity coexisting with other identities: Arab (Muslim/Christians). This Identity must be leveraged for the betterment of the communities living in the Levant.
2) 2) Radicals: Fascists ideologies, want to unite the area from Kuwait to Cyprus. And believe in taking arms and presuming assassination to advance their goals.

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May 15th, 2008, 5:53 pm

 

221. Nour said:

AIG,

It is not the SSNP that said the Jews can never be Syrians; it is the Jewish zionists who said that. You claim that you are a JEWISH nation; that the Jews are a nation and a religion, and that you came to Palestine to establish that Jewish nation. So how is it that this settlement that came to Palestine can be considered to be in any way compatible with the concept of Syrian nationhood? However, Jews who reject the concept of an exclusive Jewish nation can be a part of the Syrian nation. Saadeh was of course referring to the large settlement of Jews coming from Europe; which was obviously was hostile to the idea of belonging to the local nation. It was indeed a dangerous settlement because it was coming to occupy our land and make it an entity exclusively for Jews.

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May 15th, 2008, 5:55 pm

 

222. Naji said:

Majhool makes sense when he refrains from calling people names…!!
I kinda like the first type…!
The 2nd type in your list corresponds to Zionism, …no?!

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May 15th, 2008, 5:58 pm

 

223. Majhool said:

Naji,

It does. Zionism is not any better

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May 15th, 2008, 6:00 pm

 

224. Nour said:

Majhool,

You obviously know nothing about the SSNP or its ideology, so you should probably desist from speaking on our behalf. You believe anyone that expresses any opinion different than yours does not speak for the Syrian people. I never claimed to speak for all the Syrians; I am merely expressing my opinion. If you don’t like it; then please by all means counter it with an argument of your own. But to engage in straw man fallacies and to associate me with things I never said or never claimed to believe in is disgraceful.

I believe the Social Nationalist philosophy provides the solution for Syria’s problems. This is my belief and I hold it dearly. I am not forcing you to accept what I say; I am merely engaging in discussions and debates. If you believe to have a better solution, then please share it with us. However, joining forces with AIG to attack my character with baseless claims and haphazard accusations is not something I’m prepared to entertain.

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May 15th, 2008, 6:01 pm

 

225. AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Nour,
Saadeh was talking about Jews in general not those that came from Europe. Most of his ideology is from the 1920s.

If you are an American how can you also be a Syrian? You can and also Jews can be both Syrian and Jewish and American and Jewish. Your argument just highlights your antisemitism since you are using it only against Jews.

Yes Alex, take antisemitic parties and “update” them. Why don’t the Americans “update” the Ku Klux Clan? After all it is a very patriotic movement. Sometimes I just can’t believe what you write.

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May 15th, 2008, 6:02 pm

 

226. Majhool said:

Nour,

Almost half of my immediate circle is SNNP. Most are intellectuals and fine people. in fact they bitterly complain how “Syrian Nationalism” is hijacked by radicals who take orders from Mukhabarat. Most are not committed partisans.

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May 15th, 2008, 6:08 pm

 

227. Majhool said:

Nour Said: “am not forcing you to accept what I say”

AIG,

See how hypocritical this is. Just few days ago, Nour was so happy to see how and radical SNNPers take arms to force their goals in Beirut. Very democratic indeed.

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May 15th, 2008, 6:14 pm

 

228. Alex said:

AIG,

I know many SSNP members and none of them is an antisemite. But forget members, here are many, many more Syrians who are SSNP sympathizers. They are not radicals in any way .. they just want the Levant to be one open region again. And one of them this week was thanking me for my efforts to promote peace with Israel …

You are so stuck in trying to make everyone who is not Anti Assad or anti Nasrallah, an evil antisemite or a mad man or a loser.

If I follow your guidelines for classifying people as antisemites, then you need to agree to be as strict on your your side … 70% of Israelis will be considered racists, starting with you.

So, let us not start this conversation again becasue I will start removing any repetitive comments. I don’t think anyone here is eager to hear you say the same thing you already said a million times.

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May 15th, 2008, 6:18 pm

 

229. Naji said:

Nour,

Other than the addressee (AIG), what was wrong with Mahjhool’s above description of his type-1 SSNP’ers…?!

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May 15th, 2008, 6:20 pm

 

230. AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Alex,
Let’s be very clear. If an Israeli party says that an Arab cannot be an Israeli, it is a racist party. Why won’t you admit that since SSNP thinks Jews cannot be Syrians it is a racist party?

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May 15th, 2008, 6:28 pm

 

231. Seeking the Truth said:

Abraham said
Ross Perot was really the only third-party candidate…

Why do you think he failed in his presidential bid? Isn’t it because he could not convince the required number of electorates with his ideas?

…most voting takes place on closed-system, proprietary, corporate-owned electronic ballot machines that leave no paper trail

I think it is possible to inspect the e-voting system in case of suspicion of a vote fraud.

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May 15th, 2008, 6:32 pm

 

232. Majhool said:

AIG,

Syrian nationalism is a fine idea, The same applies to Arabism and Islamism and even “Jewishism”

Radical movements such as SNNP (As it stands today) Baathism , Islamism, Zionism all hijacked these fine ideas.

Sympathizers of these fine ideas are not equivalent with those who hijacked them.

I hope we are in agreement

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May 15th, 2008, 6:40 pm

 

233. AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Majhool,
I completely agree that there is nothing inherently wrong with nationalism. But I certainly don’t agree that Zionism is a radical movement. For one, it has proven to be the only democratic national movement and two, many Amercians and Europeans are Zionists and they certainly are not radical. Shai is a Zionist. Is he a radical?

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May 15th, 2008, 6:44 pm

 

234. abraham said:

American is a nationality. Syrian is a nationality. Jewish is a religious affiliation. Christian is a religious affiliation. Arab is a race. Caucasion is a race.

If Jewish is a race then so is Islam. If American is a race then how does one explain Japanese Americans, African Americans, and Arab Americans?

Scientology is a “religion”. I’ve never heard of the Scientologist “race”.

Nationalistic and religious identities are abstract fictions.

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May 15th, 2008, 6:44 pm

 

235. Naji said:

A discussion is going on Al Jazeera all day today about the treatment of Palestinians in Lebanon, specifically as contrasted with their treatment in Syria (which is held as the model best)… with reportage from refugee camps and commentary by the likes of Azmi Bishara and Barry Atwan…

Quite enlightnening… quite shameful, quite shaming…!! I dare say that comparison with the Syrian treatment is not all that useful… Even Israel treats the Palestinian refugees better than Lebanon…!!

Must correct that immediately, somehow…!!

Where the hell is QN…??! Need a Lebanese to beat up on for this SHAME… :(

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May 15th, 2008, 6:45 pm

 

236. abraham said:

Seeking the Truth said:

Why do you think [Ross Perot] failed in his presidential bid? Isn’t it because he could not convince the required number of electorates with his ideas?

I guess. He beat Bush in a couple states, and overall he garnered 20% of the popular vote. Not bad for a guy who basically came out of nowhere.

I think it is possible to inspect the e-voting system in case of suspicion of a vote fraud.

In theory, at least.

Read Brad Blog for the straight scoop on e-voting machines. Brad Friedman is basically the go-to guy when it comes to issues of e-voting. The stuff he exposes should be carried on every major news outlet in America. The fact that it doesn’t only reinforces my criticisms of American “democracy”.

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May 15th, 2008, 6:54 pm

 

237. Majhool said:

AIG,

Establishing a country for a community “Jewish people” is a fine idea. Displacing others to achieve this goal is not.

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May 15th, 2008, 6:55 pm

 

238. Majhool said:

“Jewish is a religious affiliation”

“Arab is a race”

Both are erroneous statements.

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May 15th, 2008, 6:57 pm

 

239. abraham said:

I am glad to hear that zionism is not radical. However, someone still needs to explain to me how taking another people’s land and calling it their own is not a radical idea.

If it is not considered radical then I am right now going to annex my neighbor’s yard since he has a pool and I don’t and it is damn hot here right now.

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May 15th, 2008, 6:57 pm

 

240. abraham said:

Majhool, why?

Naji said:

Even Israel treats the Palestinian refugees better than Lebanon…!!

Are you f-ing serious?

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May 15th, 2008, 6:59 pm

 

241. Qifa Nabki said:

Qunfuz & Nour,

Saudi Arabia represents and promotes grotesque perversions, in many ways. But Saudi Arabia is regularly trashed by people on SC. Iran is spared any criticism. This is my point. I find it hypocritical for people to pile up solely on Syria’s enemies, and handle its allies (and its regime) with kid gloves.

I think that our job as amateur commentators should be to be more honest about the region’s home-grown problems, rather than focusing exclusively on its made-in-Washington ones. Yes, I know what the argument against this is, because my good friend Alex likes to use it against me. It goes something like this: there is plenty of criticism of Syria and Iran and Nasrallah, etc. in the WSJ, so we do not need to be critical on top of them.

I think that there is something to this argument, but I’m not entirely satisfied by it. Are you saying, then, that the criticism espoused by the WSJ is correct, and that you subscribe to it? I think not. But you do admit that there is much there to criticize, nonetheless. So why don’t we criticize it? I feel that homegrown criticism is more powerful and more meaningful than criticism that has a purely cynical agenda?

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May 15th, 2008, 7:00 pm

 

242. Majhool said:

Qifa Nabki

I totally agree with you.

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May 15th, 2008, 7:01 pm

 

243. AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

May 15th, 2008, 7:02 pm

 

244. qunfuz said:

QN – I’ve perhaps been away for too many hours for my response to be relevant, but… I was comparing Saudi Arabia and Iran. I didn’t say anything about the US, but if you want me to, in brief … I think that rights are much better guaranteed in the US than in Iran. I don’t like the wilayet al-faqih idea at all, and neither do many Iranians. Rights are crucial, and the US obviously provides these to its people much better than Iran does. As for democracy, both countries are very flawed, in different ways. As for foreign policy, I much prefer Iran’s to that of the US empire. Iran has attacked no other country in its modern history. The US has attacked tens of countries.

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May 15th, 2008, 7:05 pm

 

245. Qifa Nabki said:

Naji,

The treatment of Palestinians in Lebanon is abysmal and shameful. I believe that they should be offered citizenship, or (if this compromises their political status as refugees), they should be given some intermediate status as permanent residents with full rights to employment, education, etc.

But, you know, Naji, one of the biggest obstacles to the just treatment of Palestinian refugees in Lebanon is none other than Hizbullah. Do you know how many Hizbullah guys have tried to proselytize to me, saying: “The Shi`a and the Christians are natural allies, because the Sunnis want to give a nationality to the Palestinians, and we obviously cannot let them.”

The Palestinians should be given full rights, the camps should be dismantled, and BOTH the Christians and Shi`a should get their heads out of their sectarian asses.

Sorry, my friend Naji, you’ll have to find a different Lebanese to beat up on.

;-)

ps: I don’t know if I “owe you” yet. But if that makes you take me up on the offer of an arghile and a beer on the Corniche in September, then I’m happy to be in your debt! Things look cautiously good in Lebanon, although Geagea is still bitching, and the SSNPers are still menacing shopkeepers in Hamra about taking down their flags. One day at a time, I guess.

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May 15th, 2008, 7:06 pm

 

246. Majhool said:

ABRAHAM

Jewish People are those who are affiliated with Judaism. They chose to be unique community(ies). Some communities wants to have their own homeland. Nothing is fundamentally wrong with this notion. We can dispute the how with AIG, but that’s a different story.

Arabness is not a race. Arabs are communities that choose to affiliate themselves with the heritage of Arab Rule, History (1500 years), and culture

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May 15th, 2008, 7:07 pm

 

247. Naji said:

Well, Abraham, maybe it is a bit of a hyperbole…!?
I mean Lebanon does not bomb its Palestinian refugees… not regularly anyway…!
But it is pretty “f-ing” close to the Israeli treatment, and it is fucking shameful…!
:(

Haikal is on now…

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May 15th, 2008, 7:08 pm

 

248. majedkhaldoun said:

After HA attacked Sunni using his Guns, this is very important to me, I am going to change his name to HAA, (Hizb Ado Allah)

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May 15th, 2008, 7:12 pm

 

249. Naji said:

Alright, QN is no good for this…!
Send in HP…

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May 15th, 2008, 7:18 pm

 

250. ausamaa said:

MAJEDKHALDOUN

Do You also intend to change the name of SSNP and the Al Tawheed Party and the Democratic Party and Amal movement as well? Naming then “The Victorious Movement” may fit the situation!

How about considering the more appropriate notion of changing the name of the Future Movement to the Past Movement?

LOL…

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May 15th, 2008, 7:19 pm

 

251. Shai said:

The leadership in Israel is starting to prepare public opinion to what’s coming next – an operation into Gaza. Hamas will be given an ultimatum soon – “calm” under Israeli terms (probably including the release to Egypt of Gilad Shalit), or face a massive ground operation. Hamas will, naturally, reject this one-sided offer. And, unlike the last 4-day operation with “only” 120 dead, this time it’s going to look much closer to Lebanon 2006. Sorry to deliver here my “doom and gloom”, but I’m afraid our politicians and generals are once again digging a hole for themselves from which it’ll be impossible to escape. They’ll have to go fight, once again. As I’ve said many times, this pressure-cooker that is the Middle East can only take it so much. Something has to give, and it seems Israeli patience with our impotent leadership is coming to an end. Instead of reaching out to the one party that is desperately calling out for peace (Syria), we’re going to go please Bush and his neocon buddies, by doing our share in GWOT…

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May 15th, 2008, 7:24 pm

 

252. Alex said:

Majed and Ausamaa

Please check today’s post.

http://joshualandis.com/blog/?p=715

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May 15th, 2008, 7:36 pm

 

253. ausamaa said:

Shai

“And, unlike the last 4-day operation with “only” 120 dead, this time it’s going to look much closer to Lebanon 2006.”

Do you mean that the IDF will be deated in Gaza as it was defeated at the hands of Hizbullah in Lebanon in 2006?

Or are you actually refering to the scale of destruction and the number of Palestinian Civilian Casualties that would result?

Please take my word, any such operation would be as Painfull to Israel as it would be to the Palestinans. Moreover, it would backfire in many ways beginning with galvanizing the Palestinans in Gaza and the West Bank and in futher erroding the authority of Mohammed Abbas and in a wider world critisem of Israel.

And what would Israel gain?

We have been down this road maby times before and what does Israel expect to show for it?

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May 15th, 2008, 7:37 pm

 

254. Qifa Nabki said:

Ausamaa said:

How about considering the more appropriate notion of changing the name of the Future Movement to the Past Movement?

This from the man who thinks Baathism is cutting edge. What a laugh!

Ausamaa habibi why don’t you stop getting your thrills from Lebanese victories and start focusing on rebranding Baathism, so that when we finally see that Bibo-Bibi peace deal in a few years, you’ll know how to explain it.

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May 15th, 2008, 7:39 pm

 

255. norman said:

Help Lebanon: Talk to Syria and Iran

Thursday, May 15, 2008
President George W. Bush claims that Lebanon’s “Cedar Revolution” in 2005, which ended 30 years of Syrian military occupation, was a triumph of his policy of promoting democracy in the Middle East. Given Lebanon’s history, that was always naïve.

Lebanon is now in deep trouble, and Bush, who will be meeting Prime Minister Fouad Siniora in Egypt on Sunday, has no real plan to help overcome the crisis.

Some calm has returned to Beirut in recent days, but the country remains frighteningly close to another civil war. One hundred thousand Lebanese – out of fewer than 4 million – died in the last civil war.

Responsible Lebanese leaders – Maronite, Sunni, Shiite and Druse – must do everything they can to find a peaceful exit, and the United States must do a lot more to help.

The current crisis began last week when Siniora’s government – which unites large sections of the Sunni, Druse and Maronite communities – tried to shut down a telecommunications and surveillance network run by the militant group Hezbollah. That would have been a welcome reassertion of governmental authority, except that the government does not have the political and military clout to pull it off.

Hezbollah, which enjoys broad backing from the Shiites, Lebanon’s largest and poorest community, as well as Iran and Syria, fought back. With the Lebanese Army standing aside, Hezbollah pushed pro-government militias out of most areas of Muslim West Beirut and other parts of the country.

The government, unfortunately, had little choice but to yield on the telecommunications issue. Flush with its military gains, Hezbollah may demand more than Siniora can grant without forfeiting all legitimacy.

What is needed now is a compromise, which only the Lebanese Army – the one institution that represents all of the factions in the country – seems in a position to broker.

The army has finally said that it will do whatever is necessary to restore and maintain order.

A settlement needs to address a host of divisive issues, including the stalemate over Lebanon’s vacant presidency. It must restore a measure of the government’s lost authority. And to keep Hezbollah in line, the deal should be guaranteed by Iran and Syria.

Bush’s idea for helping Lebanon is to give more aid to the Lebanese Army. The army needs more firepower, but that alone will not make it any more eager to take on Hezbollah.

If Bush really wants to help Siniora he will need to talk with Hezbollah’s masters in Syria and Iran – about the risks they court by promoting instability in Lebanon, and the rewards they might reap in return for a more constructive approach.

Bush’s stubborn refusal to negotiate with either Syria or Iran has weakened American influence throughout the region.

Lebanon’s situation is dire. Bush will need to do a lot more if he wants to help salvage the Cedar Revolution.

——————————————————————————–
Notes:

——————————————————————————–
Copyright © 2008 The International Herald Tribune | http://www.iht.com

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May 15th, 2008, 7:45 pm

 

256. Shai said:

Ausamaa,

Of course Israel will gain nothing by such an operation. But when an impotent leadership feels frustrated, and cannot take its head out of its a** and change strategy, it often searches for ways to let out steam which, in this case, means fighting Hamas. For the past 7 years, Israeli population centers in the South have been shelled on a daily basis. Less Israelis have died in those 2,500 days, than Lebanese in a single day in summer 2006. In a massive ground operation into Gaza, the ratio will still remain about 30-40 to 1, in favor of Israel. It will not be as painful to Israel as it will be for the Palestinians. I don’t think Abu Mazen’s authority needs to be eroded any more – it already lacks majority support.

The point about being “down this road” many times before doesn’t seem to cause anyone here to change their paths, does it? Maybe that’s why, according to the Bible, it took my people coming out of Egypt 40 years to cross a mere 200 kilometers… they kept going down the same road over and over again… :-(

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May 15th, 2008, 7:49 pm

 

257. Nour said:

AIG,

Again, you know nothing about the SSNP, but proceed to make baseless claims and assertions and deem yourself qualified to do so.

1. The quote you provided is taken from the Principles of the Syrian Social Nationalist Party, which were written in 1936, not in the 1920’s. And even if they were written in the 1920’s, during that time Jews were being shipped to Palestine from Europe in order to create a settlement of Jews that would allow for the creation of an exclusively Jewish state there. Remember that the Balfour Declaration was made in 1917. And if you read further, Saadeh said “it is the duty of the Syrian Social Nationalists to repulse the immigration of this people with all their might.” In other words, he was referring to the Jews coming from Europe.

2. The above quote is only one portion of the explanation of the Fourth Principle. In that same principle, Saadeh states:

“This principle would redeem Syria from the blood bigotries which are apt to cause the neglect of national interests. For those Syrians who believe or feel that they are of Aramaic extraction would no longer be actuated to fan Aramaic blood loyalty , so long as the principle of Social Nationalist unity and the equality of civic, political and social rights and duties are guaranteed, and no ethnic or racial discrimination in Syria is made. Similarly, those Syrians who claim to descend from a Phoenician (Canaanite), Arab, or Crusader stock, would no longer have allegiance but to their Syrian community. Thus would genuine national consciousness arise.”

3. You claim that recognizing that the large Jewish settlement in Syria at the time could not be reconciled with the concept of Syrian Nationalism is racist, while finding nothing wrong with declaring that no one other than Jews can be Israeli.

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May 15th, 2008, 7:50 pm

 

258. Naji said:

You know, Haykal was a working journalist during the Nakba…!! Fascinating to watch/listen to a first-hand eyewitness account by a well-educated, well-connected, well-informed, erudite type…!!

QN,
I see that the araq has already been down-graded to a beer…! Better take you up on that real quick, before we start talking about a Pepsi…!!
Damn…, that HA victory is showing its effects real fast…!
One must be careful what one whishes for, I suppose… ;)

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May 15th, 2008, 7:53 pm

 

259. abraham said:

Qifa, I criticize SA on the basis of the radical Islam it exports around the globe, its cozy relationship with the US and the ramifications of that relationship, it’s abhorrent “royalty”, its collusion with America and Israel to foment instability in the ME for its own selfish purposes, etc.

I don’t criticize Iran because I perceive them to be taking actions which are overall beneficial to the ME (opposing US hegemony).

Once Iran starts to take actions that are detrimental to the ME then I will start criticizing them.

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May 15th, 2008, 7:57 pm

 

260. Shai said:

Naji,

I hope for all of us that HA doesn’t get overly confident these next few months and, god-forbid, miscalculate once again vis-a-vis Israel. There are plenty here waiting to settle an old score, you know… Then again, HA’s only legitimacy for continuing to be armed is the resistance. What do you think? If there’s a massive ground operation into Gaza, and many innocent Palestinians die, will HA join in support in some fashion? I know many here dismiss this idea, but I don’t…

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May 15th, 2008, 8:00 pm

 

261. Nour said:

Majhool,

The problem is that you do not know to which group I belong, but have made conclusions about me and proceeded to attack me based on those conclusions. And I’m really happy for you that you found a friend in AIG to attack your fellow Syrian, but this is essentially the problem with most of the overseas so-called Syrian opposition.

As for your accusations about my position regarding the latest events in Lebanon, I never claimed that the Opposition had the right to carry arms to impose its views on the rest of the Lebanese. I maintained that they had a right to take action against aggression by the loyalist militias. It was those militias who were sending their snipers to shoot at opposition demonstrators, which had previously resulted in the death of many opposition members. You have never condemned the loyalists’ use of arms against the opposition, but you happen to find it appalling that the opposition would dare respond. In addition, I have not seen any of you supporters of the “Cedar Revolution” condemn the barbaric, revolting actions of the FM militias in Halba, which disturbs your image of Assad and Nasrallah being all-evil, while the pro-American factions in the Arab World are all-good.

The problem with you is that you do not offer different ideas or counter-arguments. You merely engage in personal attacks and character assassination. As I said, I am more than happy to engage in an intellectual debate, but I will not accept your straw man arguments and your attempts at twisting and distorting my beliefs and ideas.

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May 15th, 2008, 8:00 pm

 

262. AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Nour,
Saadeh was a raving antisemite. He meant all Jews not only those coming from Europe. The research is clear on this. At least you are ashamed to be part of a racist party.

As for 2, do you really believe in that? Would you accept a US law that said that as an American you cannot have any allegiance to Syria? You are digging your own hole.

As for 3 are you joking? I have no problems with Arab Israelis or Vietnamese Israelis (Israel took in 200 boat people) or whatever.

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May 15th, 2008, 8:01 pm

 

263. Nour said:

AIG,

I don’t really care what you think about Saadeh, as you are a raving Jewish racist. You pathetic attempts at looking more sympathetic to other peoples is laughable to say the least. You have already stated here that Israel defines its nationality as being JEWISH. In other words only Jews can be Israeli, and you have no problem with that. You are here merely to attack Syria and anyone who dares stand up to Israel, while hiding your rabid hatred of our people behind your alleged promotion of “democracy.”

As for me, I am not at all ashamed to be a Social Nationalist, as I carry Saadeh’s philosophy proudly. I engage in debates and arguments with all sorts of people about my beliefs and have no problem expressing them. If anything, you are the one trying to hide your true intentions behind this ridiculous call for worldwide democracy when we all know this to be a lie. And as I stated earlier, not once did you mention the barbaric acts of the loyalist militias in Lebanon because you don’t want it to disturb the image you are trying to paint of the region, which really goes to show the complete lack of genuineness you have in your alleged promotion of human rights and democratic values. You are merely promoting complete Jewish hegemony over the region while pretending to care in the least bit about our people.

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May 15th, 2008, 8:13 pm

 

264. AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Nour,
You cannot wait 5 minutes to play the traitor card on Majhool?
Majhool is a pro-democracy Syrian unlike you that support a dictator. It is natural that on some things he would agree with a pro-democracy Israeli and disagree with you.

And what do you mean “you will not accept his arguments”? Of course you will, because that is the essence of freedom of speech. You don’t have to like his arguments of course. Why don’t you complain to Alex and have Majhool banned? That is the way some dictatorially inclined Syrians like to deal with people that don’t agree with them.

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May 15th, 2008, 8:14 pm

 

265. Nour said:

QN,

To answer your above comment, I don’t criticize Saudi Arabia because I believe they have an agenda for the region; I criticize them because I believe they are puppets of the United States who are actively promoting the US/Israeli agenda. I don’t believe Iran is a US puppet.

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May 15th, 2008, 8:16 pm

 

266. Nour said:

AIG,

I didn’t call Majhool a traitor so don’t put words in my mouth. This is exactly what Alex is talking about when he criticizes your Netanyahu tactics. As for your promotion of democracy, you know what I think about that.

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May 15th, 2008, 8:18 pm

 

267. AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Nour,
Yes, I am promoting Jewish hegemony. Are you serious? This just shows your obsession with Jews.

Now read slowly for there will be a test: Israel is the country for the Jewish people like Hungary is the country for the Hungarian people. But that does not mean that a non-Jew cannot be a citizen of Israel just like a non-Hungarian can be a citizen of Hungary.

The SSNP REJECTS Jews, just because they are Jews, as citizens of Syria. If this is not racist, I do not know what is.

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May 15th, 2008, 8:20 pm

 

268. AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Nour,
You did not call Majhool a traitor?
You wrote:
“And I’m really happy for you that you found a friend in AIG to attack your fellow Syrian, but this is essentially the problem with most of the overseas so-called Syrian opposition.”

This is exactly what you were implying in the sentence above.

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May 15th, 2008, 8:23 pm

 

269. ausamaa said:

Qifa Nabki,

Hayatee, you know who the Victorious ones are alligned with. That is a double thrill. Wouldnt’t you think so. And dont worry, once the New Middle East Project is really dead and buried, we will see an acceleration of openness, reforme and advancement in Syria. If a just peace for all comes along. The more the merrier.

Ok, and so that we dont add insult to injury, may I suggest to you that we stay away from the Lebanese Feb 14/ Opposition issue for forty days until the Feb 14 and Saudi political mourning period is over??!!

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May 15th, 2008, 8:24 pm

 

270. Nour said:

AIG,

Stop putting words in people’s mouths. This is a typical zionist tactic. I didn’t call Majhool a traitor nor do I think of him as such.

As for your pathetic attempts at justifying your Jewish racism, it’s nonsensical. Under Israeli law one cannot obtain citizenship unless they are JEWISH.

“Israel’s nationality law defines the terms through which one can be granted citizenship of the state of Israel. Israel is, by its own definition, the state of the Jewish nation, and its leadership believes that one of its primary objectives is keeping a Jewish majority in Israel. Thus, Israeli nationality law is created with a bias in favor of those with Jewish heritage. Israeli law also follows jus sanguinis as the primary mechanism through which one may obtain citizenships, rather than jus soli.”

So Israel follows the right of BLOOD as the primary mechanism through which one may obtain citizenship. In other words, to be an Israeli citizen, you have to prove that you are of Jewish blood. Very civilized indeed.

Finally, you are again ignoring that your favorite loyalist militias were committing barbaric acts in Lebanon against the opposition. Why don’t you take a clear stand on this issue, or is it not good propaganda for you?

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May 15th, 2008, 8:30 pm

 

271. Qifa Nabki said:

Ausamaa

I’m happy staying away from it, but since your only mode of discourse is shamateh (whether your “side” wins or loses!) I’m not sure I want to be the one who imposes silence on you for forty days!

يالله مبسط على حسابنا … نحن قادرين على الثقل …

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May 15th, 2008, 8:37 pm

 

272. Shai said:

Nour,

It is indeed a catch-22 situation. Until Israelis live in peace with the Arabs for some time, and lose their innate paranoia and fear of Arabs’ true intentions, they will not be able to consider Israel with a non-Jewish majority. And, until Israel renounces its Jewish-state identity, Arabs will not be able to live in peace with Israel. So what do we do? Neither side seems capable of either changing itself, or its counterpart.

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May 15th, 2008, 8:39 pm

 

273. AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Nour,
You are plain lying. You do not need to be a Jew to obtain Israeli citizenship. In general, just marry an Israeli and you can become Israeli. You do not need to be a Jew. True there is a bias towards people who are Jewish just like in Switzerland there is a bias towards those that are Swiss and in Hungary there is a bias towards those that are Hungarian. In other countries it is ok, but you don’t like it in israel.

Let me repeat:
The SSNP REJECTS Jews, just because they are Jews, as citizens of Syria. If this is not racist, I do not know what is.

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May 15th, 2008, 8:42 pm

 

274. Nour said:

AIG,

You are the one that’s lying. I have talked to people who obtained their Israeli citizenship. One of them had a little trouble because her father couldn’t prove he was Jewish. Again, Israel follows the right of BLOOD principle, whereas the SSNP rejects that as a basis of nationality.

And no, Saadeh never stated Jews cannot be Syrian because they are born Jewish. He said the large Jewish settlement in Syria cannot be reconciled with the concept of Syrian nationalism, which is true. Did you come to Syria with any intention of melting into the local population? NO. You came to create an exclusively Jewish state, period. So your nonsensical argument is getting you nowhere.

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May 15th, 2008, 8:52 pm

 

275. Nour said:

Oh, and again, what’s your position on the loyalist militias’ barbaric acts. Is that in the spirit of the democracy you are promoting?

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May 15th, 2008, 8:53 pm

 

276. AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Nour,
I condemn any senseless murder, why would you even bother asking me? Anyone that was reponsible there should be brought to justice.

Are you claiming that if a non-Jew marries an Israeli Jew, the non-Jew will not obtain an Israeli citizenship? OF COURSE he or she will. Poof, all your theory shown to be a lie. Non-Jews can become Israeli citizens. As for your friend, try getting a Japanese citizenship without proving that both your parents were Japanese. The Israeli law is much more lenient. You only need one parent. But of course, your racism makes you see only a problem with the Israeli law.

The SSNP had the same position about Jews that lived in Syria for hundreds and thousands of years. Even those communities could not become Syrian citizens. Look, all the racist ideology and is out there for anyone to read. I am glad you are ashamed of it, but the facts are just what they are.

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May 15th, 2008, 9:13 pm

 

277. Alex said:

AnotherIsraeliGuy said: Edit

Nour,
Saadeh was a raving antisemite. He meant all Jews not only those coming from Europe. The research is clear on this. At least you are ashamed to be part of a racist party.

Alright, do me a favor .. go back to your research group at camera.org and find a couple or reputable (not known pro Israel) sources that provide a convincing argument that Saadeh was “a raving antisemite” then come back here and post them for Nour to read and try to counter those arguments

Until then, I think we don’t need to read few more “oh yes Saades was a raving antisemite” assurances from you, unless if you tell us that you wrote three books and published five papers in academic journals on Saadeh’s life and ideology.

I will start deleting.

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May 15th, 2008, 9:34 pm

 

278. abraham said:

Naji, I totally agree the treatment of Palestinians inside Lebanon is atrocious and shameful, and the fact that sectarian issues are the driving force towards prejudice against them is even worse, but it doesn’t come close to how the Israelis treat them.

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May 15th, 2008, 9:37 pm

 

279. abraham said:

AIG, I’m really getting tired of your racist, bigoted, lying, illogical comments. Nour quite plainly dispelled the nonsense you proffer yet you continue to ply your garbage as if you have a monopoly on truth or something. You also, like a typical zionist, don’t know the definition of “race” or “people”. Israel is a zionist state, but zionism is not a race. Israel has Arabs who are Christians and Muslims and Jews, and it has European Jews, and it has Druze, and it has others in the mix as well, so to keep up with this fallacy that it is a “Jewish state” is idiocy. If you are going to insist it is a “Jewish state” then you must also admit the obvious corollary and that is that it’s a racist state as well. Any state that insists on maintaining an ethnic balance is a racist/bigoted state. Everyone knows that you can’t just marry an Israeli to get citizenship. That’s a load of Grade AAA Pure Bullshit and you know it, so shut up about it already. You lost that argument.

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May 15th, 2008, 9:56 pm

 

280. abraham said:

And Nour did not call Majhool a traitor, nor could anyone but the most linguistically retarded consider the sentence of Nour’s you quoted to imply that he was calling him such. This is why no one likes you here. You are a big sack of smelly nonsense.

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May 15th, 2008, 9:59 pm

 

281. abraham said:

AIG avers:

Are you claiming that if a non-Jew marries an Israeli Jew, the non-Jew will not obtain an Israeli citizenship? OF COURSE he or she will. Non-Jews can become Israeli citizens.

Then contradicts himself:

The Israeli law is much more lenient. You only need one parent.

So, do you need to be able to prove you have “Jewish blood” (whatever that is) before you can become an Israeli or not?

Tell me this: if a Muslim Palestinian living in the West Bank marries a Jewish woman living in Tel Aviv, will he become an Israeli? This is the ultimate test of your honesty and your knowledge of your own country, so answer wisely.

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May 15th, 2008, 10:04 pm

 

282. AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Abraham,
You only need ONE Israeli parent to become Israeli not like 2 in Japan? Get it? This is different than the marriage case, it is the case of citizenship for children.

As for your stupid question, the answer is yes, he will become an Israeli. Until recently even if he married a non-Jewish one he would become Israeli but since this has been abused the laws changed.

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May 15th, 2008, 10:14 pm

 

283. AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

And just to explain why the law changed:
The amendments to the Nationality and Entry into Israel Law evolved from a measure taken by Israel’s Interior Ministry following the March 31, 2002 bombing of a restaurant in Haifa. A Hamas terrorist, Shadi Tubasim, carried out the suicide bombing, which killed fourteen others and wounded more than forty.19 Tubasim had married an Israeli Arab, and, through the family reunification procedure, had become an Israeli citizen.20 He was able to travel freely throughout the country with his Israeli identity card.

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May 15th, 2008, 10:22 pm

 

284. Majhool said:

ABRAHAM,

I disagree with your characterization of AIG, this is not a beauty contest, we can all take sides and through objectivity out of the window, I hope we don’t.

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May 15th, 2008, 10:51 pm

 

285. abraham said:

You only need ONE Israeli parent to become Israeli not like 2 in Japan?

What? You mean Israelis reproduce asexually? That explains a lot.

And don’t you mean Jewish?

As for your stupid question, the answer is yes, he will become an Israeli. Until recently even if he married a non-Jewish one he would become Israeli but since this has been abused the laws changed.

So is it yes or no? First you say yes, then in the following sentence you say no.

The answer is NO. Why do you have to couch your words in linguistic manure?

‘Racist’ marriage law upheld by Israel

By Donald Macintyre in Jerusalem
Monday, 15 May 2006

Israel’s High Court has narrowly upheld a law denying Palestinians from the West Bank and Gaza married to Israeli citizens the right to live in the country with their spouses.

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/middle-east/racist-marriage-law-upheld-by-israel-478291.html

As far as your laws, Israel has lots of pretty and flowery laws that are all for naught if you aren’t Jewish, so why even bother quoting them?

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May 15th, 2008, 10:54 pm

 

286. Naji said:

وداعاً أيّها الطائف
خالد صاغيّة
http://www.al-akhbar.com/ar/node/73911
لم يكن اغتيال الرئيس رفيق الحريري وحده ما خلّف فراغاً في البلاد، لم يملأه أحد. شاحنات الجيش السوري التي عبرت طريق المصنع باتّجاه دمشق تركت هي الأخرى فراغاً، لكن من نوع مختلف. وليس المقصود هنا الفراغ الأمني، بل أساساً الفراغ في إدارة خلافات اللبنانيّين وتقسيم العمل بين طوائفهم. فالنظام السوري الذي فرض سيطرته على البلاد طيلة 15 عاماً، أدّى دوراً تحكيميّاً (وإن غير نزيه) بين الطوائف المتنازعة دون جدوى على وراثة الهيمنة المارونيّة التي انتهت مع الحرب الأهليّة. ولم يكن لاتّفاق الطائف، كما نعرفه، أن ينظّم علاقات اللبنانيين من دون الدور السوري.
انتهت الحقبة السوريّة على المشهد الآتي: طائفة سنّية تحاول بعد اغتيال زعيمها أداء الدور الذي أخطأ الحريري الأب حين لم ينتدب نفسه لأدائه، أي حمْل مشروع سياسي بحجم الوطن كلّه (فضّل آنذاك حمْل مشروع اقتصادي لم يسلم الوطن كلّه من آليّات نهبه المنظّم). وقد سُلّم النائب سعد الدين الحريري زعامة الأكثريّة النيابيّة كدلالة رمزية على الدور القياديّ الجديد للطائفة. أمّا الطائفة الشيعيّة، فاتّخذت وضعاً دفاعياً محاولةً الحفاظ على مكتسبات الحقبة الماضية، وهي التي عرفت سابقاً حرماناً مديداً. وقد زاد حصار سائر الطوائف لها من تقوقعها على نفسها، قبل أن تفتح لها وثيقة التفاهم بين حزب الله والتيار الوطني الحر أفقاً ما لبثت أن استخدمته بعد حرب تمّوز للانتقال إلى وضع هجوميّ. في هذه الأثناء، كانت الطائفة المسيحيّة تبحث عن مُلك ضائع بعدما نزع «الطائف» صلاحيات رئاسة الجمهورية، واستكملت القبضة السورية الحرب على زعمائها. لكنّ ما يشكّل حلماً بالنسبة إلى المسيحيّين، كان الكابوس بعينه للزعامة السنّية الناشئة. استمرّ حصار ميشال عون، إلى أن فتح ثغرات ما لبثت أن تحوّلت أبواباً في مار مخايل. أمّا الطائفة الدرزية الصغيرة، فلم تجد إلا في لعب زعيمها على الحبال، طريقةً في حفظ موقع لها وسط هذه الأمواج الهادرة.
حدث ذلك كلّه على رقعة جغرافيّة صغيرة، لكن في منطقة كثُر فيها اشتعال البراكين. الحُكم بالواسطة لم يعد هوايةً مفضّلة لدى الإدارة الأميركيّة التي حرّكت جيشها باتّجاه الشرق الأوسط الذي أرادت أن تصنع منه شرقاً جديداً، بقوّة الحديد والنار. ثمّة من ركب قطار الأمبراطوريّة، وثمّة من ادّعى الركوب، وثمّة من قرّر المواجهة.
من الصعب اختزال الأزمة اللبنانيّة بالانقسام حول المشروع الأميركي وتعقيداته السوريّة والإيرانيّة. ومن الصعب اختزالها بعلاقات الطوائف. غير أنّ المؤكّد هو أنّ الذهاب إلى الحوار في الدوحة لن يعني الكثير، ما لم يكن واضحاً للجميع أنّ المشهد الإقليمي والدولي الراعي لاتفاق الطائف قد تبدّل كليّاً، وأنّ التعقيدات الطائفيّة الداخليّة تبدّلت هي الأخرى عمّا كانت عليه عشيّة انتهاء الحرب الأهليّة.
لذلك، يمكن لمن يريد أن يتلهّى بالثلاث عشرات والرئيس التوافقي أن يفعل ذلك. لكنّ الأجدى العودة من الدوحة باتّفاق طائف جديد.

عدد الجمعة ١٦ أيار ٢٠٠٨

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May 16th, 2008, 5:10 am

 

287. Naji said:

مؤتمر الدوحة: هدنة وفرصة للحلّ
ارتياح شعبي وقلق سياسي وتحفّظ أميركي ودعم سوري وفرنسي وحيرة حول الموقف السعودي

http://www.al-akhbar.com/ar/node/73975

بعيد العاشرة من مساء أمس، خرج رئيس الحكومة القطرية الشيخ حمد بن جاسم برفقة الأمين العام للجامعة العربية عمرو موسى ووزراء خارجية عرب لتناول العشاء في أحد مطاعم بيروت. كانوا ينشدون الراحة ـــــ بحسب موسى ـــــ بعد يومين من التعب المثمر، لكنّهم كانوا يريدون أيضاً إعطاء الانطباع بأنّ بيروت بدأت تستعيد حياتها، بعد إعلان بنود الاتفاق الذي لاقاه الناس بارتياح، ولكن بريبة الخائف من الشيطان الذي يلاحق التفاصيل.
وإذا كان لبنان سيرتاح من زعاماته أياماً قليلة، فإن انشغال الناس بإعادة ترتيب أمورهم اليومية لن يسحب الأنظار عما يفترض تكريسه في مؤتمر الدوحة المرتقب اليوم لناحية المباشرة بخطوات الحل الشامل، وهي النتيجة التي يلتفت الوزراء العرب بعضهم إلى بعض عندما يوجه إليهم السؤال عما إذا كانت مضمونة، وخصوصاً أن الولايات المتحدة عبّرت عن تحفّظها إزاء نجاح الجهود العربية في التوصل الى حل شامل.
وقبل دقائق من بدء المؤتمر الصحافي للمسؤول القطري والأمين العام للجامعة العربية، رنّ هاتف موسى، وكان المتحدّث الأمين العام للأمم المتحدة بان كي مون الذي سأل عمّا يحصل، وأعرب عن دهشته لإنجاز وفد الجامعة الاتفاق. وأبلغه موسى أن رسالة سوف تصله خلال ساعات عن الاتفاق، وهو ما حصل في وقت متأخّر من ليل امس، فيما كان موسى يتحدّث لاحقاً الى وزيري الخارجية السعودي الأمير سعود الفيصل والسوري وليد المعلم ويتبلّغ منهما دعماً قال إنه شعر بجديته للحوار الذي سيبدأ في قطر اليوم، دون أن يخفي موسى قلقه من تعثّر ما. وقال: نحن الآن في مرحلة ثانية من رحلة حلّ أزمة لبنان، وإذا ما توصلنا الى نتائج مقبولة، فإن لبنان سوف ينعم بهدوء طويل.
وبحسب الترتيبات المقررة، فإن 13 زعيماً لبنانياً سوف يسافرون اليوم على متن الطائرة الخاصة لرئيس الوزراء القطري، يرافقهم وزراء خارجية الدول العربية المشاركة في اللجنة، على أن تلحق بهم طائرة أخرى تجمع المرافقين والإعلاميين الذين يستعدّون لقضاء بضعة أيام في العاصمة القطرية في سياق مباحثات تستهدف التوصل الى تفاهم على شكل الحكومة الجديدة وقانون الانتخابات المقبلة، ما يتيح انتخاب العماد ميشال سليمان قريباً جداً، ليتولى هو إدارة الجزء الآخر من الحوار الذي سوف ينحصر عملياً في آلية تحسين وتطوير نظام المشاركة في الحكم والبحث في مستقبل علاقة الدولة مع المقاومة.
وكان حمد بن جاسم وموسى قد أنجزا قرابة الرابعة من فجر أمس مسوّدة اتفاق ينص على التزام جميع الاطراف بعودة البلاد الى ما كانت عليه قبل الخامس من أيار، وإزالة آثار المواجهات التي حصلت، بما في ذلك تراجع الحكومة عن قراريها، والشروع فوراً في حوار مكثّف حول بنود المبادرة العربية. وكان الوفد العربي قد حصل على موافقة قوى المعارضة على هذه الورقة، وعلى موافقة بعض أقطاب فريق 14 آذار، ولا سيما النائب وليد جنبلاط، فيما كان النائب سعد الحريري ومسيحيّو 14 آذار يصرون على إدخال بند آخر يخص السلاح، تراوح بين القول بحاجتهم الى ضمانات بعدم تكرار ما حصل، وبجعل ملف سلاح حزب الله بنداً على طاولة الحوار.
«لكن موازين القوى ونتائج ما حصل» فرضت صياغة البنود بطريقة مختلفة، على ما قال مرجع في الوفد العربي، وأضاف: «ان فريق 14 آذار بدا في وضع صعب للغاية. لا توحده رؤية ولا توجه واحد، وفيما كان جنبلاط مستعداً لإنجاز الاتفاق على الحكومة وقانون الانتخابات في لحظة واحدة، كان الحريري يناقش في إمكان تحسين الموقع التفاوضي، فيما يتصرف مسيحيو 14 آذار بذعر الخائف من خسارة كل شيء». لكن هذا المرجع لفت الى «مفاجأة» ناجمة عن موقف العماد ميشال عون الذي بدا متحفظاً على صياغة الاتفاق، لأنه رفض اعتبار ترشيح العماد ميشال سليمان أمراً محسوماً، كما رفض الإقرار بأن الحكومة المقبلة سوف تكون حكومة مفتوحة المهام. حتى إن المداولات التي أخرت المؤتمر الصحافي لحمد بن جاسم وموسى ركزت على الآتي:
أولاً: تحفظ الرئيس نبيه بري على جعل الحوار قائماً بمشاركة الجامعة العربية، والإصرار على اقتصار حضور الجامعة في الجولة الاولى، ثم يترك الامر للبنانيين فقط.
ثانياً: رفض «القوات اللبنانية» كل المشروع، ثم الموافقة عليه على أساس أنه لن يكون هناك اتفاق من تحت الطاولة.
ثالثاً: تحفظ العماد عون على حسم انتخاب سليمان واقتراحه مناقشة اعتبار الحكومة المقبلة انتقالية تنحصر مهمتها في إجراء انتخابات نيابية.
رابعاً: سعي النائب الحريري الى تقديم بند الحوار حول «علاقة الدولة بالتنظيمات» الى البداية.
وبحسب المداولات، فإن حمد بن جاسم ومعه موسى بذلا أنواعاً مختلفة من الوساطات وقدما الكثير من الضمانات التي أتاحت التوصل الى الاتفاق الذي أعلن. وعندما انتقل الجميع الى قاعة المؤتمر الصحافي، كان الكل في أجواء أن الجولة الاولى في الدوحة قد لا تستمر أكثر من 3 الى 4 أيام، على أن ينتقل بعدها المتحاورون الى بيروت لاستكمال البحث، علماً بأن مسؤولاً بارزاً في اللجنة العربية لم يستبعد أن يظل المتحاورون لوقت مفتوح في الدوحة حتى يتم إنجاز الاتفاق الذي أذاع حمد بن جاسم بنوده كلها (نص الاتفاق ص 7).
وليلاً، عكف المدعوّون الى مؤتمر الحوار على إعداد ملفاتهم وحقائبهم استعداداً للسفر الى الدوحة اليوم، وتردّد أن بعضهم توجه إليها تحت جنح الظلام. وصدرت عن بعضهم مواقف حذرة إزاء إمكان نجاح الحوار، ومن هؤلاء الرئيس أمين الجميّل الذي رأى «أن المدخل إلى أي حل هو التفاهم على معنى كلمة سيادة، وضمان عدم توجيه حزب الله سلاحه إلى الداخل»، مجدِّداً مطالبته بـ«تطمينات بنيوية لا طوباوية». وقال «إن لم يجر البحث في موضوع السلاح وعلاقة حزب الله مع الدولة وسيادتها وسلطتها على كامل الأراضي اللبنانية، نكن قد راوحنا مكاننا ولم نتوصل إلى أي شيء».
بدوره، رأى وزير الاتصالات مروان حمادة أن ما استطاعت اللجنة العربية تحقيقه هو «هدنة بالحد الأدنى ومخرج بالحد الأقصى»، مشيراً إلى أن الهدنة أفضل من ترك الأمور تتطور نحو معارك كاملة في بيروت والجبل. وإذ أكد أن الأفرقاء ليسوا ذاهبين إلى الدوحة لتغيير اتفاق الطائف، شدّد على وجوب عدم الخروج عن هذا الاتفاق.

■ تحفُّظ أميركي

وأعلنت الولايات المتحدة الاميركية بلسان المتحدث باسم خارجيتها شون ماكورماك، تحفظها عن الاتفاق الذي رعته اللجنة الوزارية العربية للخروج من الازمة السياسية في لبنان. ورأى ماكورماك أن الاتفاق «لن يعالج الصعوبات التي لا تحصى لنظام لبنان السياسي خلال فترة أسبوع وفي مجموعة واحدة من المناقشات». وأشار الى استمرار «حزب الله» في طرح «تحدٍّ للشعب اللبناني في المستقبل من ناحية تحقيق ديموقراطية واسعة النطاق وعميقة يستفيد منها كل اللبنانيين».
واتهم ماكروماك حزب الله بأنه «مستعد لقتل اللبنانيين في سبيل جدول أعماله السياسي»، معتبراً أن هذا الحزب «ليس لديه أي أساس غير محاولة توسيع قوته السياسية والعمل خارج النظام السياسي في لبنان»، وأكد أن الحزب «سيبقى تحدياً مستمراً لمن في المجتمع الدولي لديه مصلحة في لبنان أكثر سلاماً ورفاهية وديموقراطية». وقال إن «حزب الله» يمثّل «مشكلة طويلة الامد وانه يتأثر بشكل كبير بقوى خارجية هي ايران وسوريا».
ورحّب وزير الخارجية الفرنسي برنار كوشنير بالاتفاق مكرّراً تأكيد «دعم فرنسا للمؤسسات في لبنان، وخصوصاً الحكومة والجيش اللبناني» الذي كان تحركه «حاسماً لإيجاد الظروف الملائمة لتجاوز الازمة». وأضاف ان «فرنسا تدعو كل الاطراف، داخل لبنان وخارجه، الى بذل كل الجهود الضرورية لتفضي المشاورات الى انتخابات رئاسية وتأليف حكومة وحدة وطنية ووضع قانون جديد للانتخاب بسرعة». ومن جهته قال وزير الخارجية الالماني فرانك فالتر شتاينماير: «أنا مرتاح جداً الى تهدئة الوضع التي ترتسم في لبنان. والاتفاق الذي تم التوصل إليه هو خطوة أولى ليتمكن الجيش وقوى الأمن الداخلي من ضمان الأمن مجدداً في البلاد».
ورحب وزير الخارجية المصري أحمد أبو الغيط بالاتفاق، وقال إنه «أمر جيد وإيجابي أن يتفق السياسيون اللبنانيون على إعادة الأمور إلى ما كانت عليه قبل يوم 5 أيار الجاري وإنهاء المظاهر المسلحة بكل صورها». ونوّه بمضمون هذا الاتفاق، وأكد أن نص الاتفاق «يعكس توازناً يوفر لكل طائفة وفريق سياسي في لبنان الدور الذي يتوقعه بما يحافظ على اتفاق الطائف والدستور اللبناني باعتبارهما ركيزتين أساسيتين للتركيبة الفريدة لهذا البلد العربي الشقيق».
وأكد السفير السعودي في لبنان عبد العزيز خوجة أن السفارة مستمرة بالعمل قدر المستطاع آملاً أن يعود السعوديون إلى لبنان خلال فصل الصيف. وقال إن بلاده تبارك الاتفاق الذي رعته الجامعة العربية آملاً أن يعود لبنان إلى ازدهاره ومجده مؤكداً الجهوزية للمساعدة مشدداً على أن المهم هو الوصول إلى نتائج.

عدد الجمعة ١٦ أيار ٢٠٠٨

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May 16th, 2008, 5:15 am

 

288. Zenobia said:

http://www.nytimes.com/2008/05/16/opinion/16brooks.html?hp

This is David Brooks’ latest column scrutinizing candidate Obama regarding his view of Hezbollah and how to deal with them.

Here is my letter to David Brooks.

Dear Mr. Brooks,

How can you in good conscience write such a reductionist little piece (Obama admires Bush) talking about Hezbollah without once in the entire article mentioning Israel.
The entire birth of Hezbollah was a function of Israeli occupation of southern Lebanon. To speak about their longstanding raison d’etre without mentioning this is totally irresponsible and the usual reduction of the facts to pull Israel out of the history.
Hezbollah was/is a resistance movement albeit guerilla terroristic in its methods. They do not have world wide aspirations and have continuously maintained that their objectives regard only Lebanon.
You know that I am certain, but you chose to put some gloss that makes them sound like AlQaeda, which they are not.

I hate to break the news to you, but Hezbollah actually is a legitimate political entity in Lebanon. Any Lebanese can tell you that. They didn’t start out that way, but it is now a reality that is here to stay. Obama is correct and you are wrong to dismiss the notion of ‘consensus’. They are representing forty percent of the Lebanese populous (for the most part)- and these people are demanding a more equitable share of the political power in the ruling cabinet. You may call the current make up of the government legitimate democratically elected, but you are dramatically simplifying the story and leaving out a very large aspect of the fight.
Maybe you do this because it is complex and you think your readers simply can’t digest such a discussion, but then you should really not be talking about it in a misleading and black and white way. The shia of Lebanon and Hezbollah have been using leverage to attempt to change the system. So far there is only stalemate. One may argue that influence and patronage from external sources is unfair, but then you would be a hypocrite to argue that it is only ok when such backing and military support comes from the US.
The distorted descriptions of this situation written about in the American press are infuriating and irresponsible.

Poor Obama is forced to walk some tightrope in order not to sound like he is going to give any legitimacy to the bad terrorists. He has been forced to relinquish Robert Malley who is an absolute expert on the region all because this researcher has had to actually talk to the people he researches!
Why don’t you write about this absurdity!
Nobody seems to want to mention as well – how utterly absurd the idea of just throwing more funds and weaponry at the Lebanese Army is. They don’t want to tell everybody in the West that actually the army is in large part comprised of Shia who are not ever going to fight Hezbollah no matter how many weapons they have. Would you recommend building a sectarian army? .. Because that is what you had during the civil war, and we saw the results.

My point is that Hezbollah may not be to our liking given its history of kicking the USA and Israel out of Lebanon in a violent way. But it has legitimacy all over the middle east. I mean in every country. And the Lebanese themselves know that this party is not going anywhere. This is about power and resources as usual. Not foremost ideology – as you want to paint it. Amazingly, it is Hezbollah that is demanding a more democratic system! As Obama has correctly implied, there are dramatic inequities with so called democratic government. It is completely outdated and non-representative.

I recommend that you stick to topics that you don’t feel the need to be so biased to the point of misinforming people through all the facts that you leave out.

sincerely,
Zenobia

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May 16th, 2008, 6:37 am

 

289. Naji said:

Zeno,
I read David Brooks’ op-ed piece this morning, and I am glad you responded to it as forcefuly as you did. David Brooks often makes sense in his writings, but I just don’t know what happens to everybody when they get near ME issues…!!

Bravo… we should all not be lazy and should point out the inaccuracies in mainstream media pieces whenever we find them. My personal recommendation, though, would be to make your response a little shorter, to make sure it gets read; and to make your point a little more concise, to make sure it gets accross effectively…!

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May 16th, 2008, 11:03 am

 

290. abraham said:

David Brooks is a zionist and Bush administration apologist. He only now criticizes the Bush regime after parroting the official line and cheerleading them into war with Iraq in 2003 until everything went south.

Quite frankly, Brooks only has credibility with idiot liberals that listen to him because he’s a “nice conservative”. Brooks is a neoconservative, not a conservative.

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May 16th, 2008, 5:53 pm

 

291. kingcrane jr said:

QN,

I agree with AAK / Angry Arab, but the truth is:

1-There are many ex-communists who have become opportunists. One example is Ahmad Fatfat. I cannot trust a party that forbids the freedom to believe in God and that mandates proletarian dictatorship. To be true, all communist powers were very flawed.

2-Some ex-communists have changed their views so many times that I am dizzy just thinking of it. Georges Hawi’s death was attributed to the Syrian Mukhabarat but, in their inner circle (and beyond, apparently), his friends are claiming that the assassins are probably agents of the Mossad.

3-Party apparatchiks are just… party apparatchiks after all. Political parties are not to be trusted. When Raymond Eddeh asked me why I was not a member of the Bloc National, I told him that, despite my very deep esteem for him, I could not become a member of a movement that may one day make blunders. I feel vindicated today.

4-My position vis-a-vis Amal is that they have dilapidated the good will that we had toward them when the charismatic anti-poverty obsessed Musa Sadr was liquidated and opportunists took over the movement. Some of them are proven thugs.

5-My position vis-a-vis the Hezbollah is that I support their Resistance against an artificial entity to the South of our borders, but I am NOT interested in their religious views; neither am I interested in the religious views of the PNL, the Phalangists, the PSP, etc… Note that I accept religious leadership: as a teenager, I worked for Mgr. Gregoire Haddad, the most ardent and respected artisan of a civil society in Lebanon.

6-There is a fact now: “Political Shi’ism” is a-la-mode. Anti-Zionist Christians love Hassan Nasrallah. But I have many Sunni leaders on my beloved-leaders’ list: Quwwatli, Nazem Qudsi, Hanano and others in Syria, and Selim Hoss and others in Lebanon.

My most difficult struggle is to conciliate my support of the Resistance with my ultra-secular views, but it is easy: the priority at this time in the Levant is to fight the Zionist entity as it denies the essence of consocionalism. Ideally, we could have as many consocional entities as possible in the area: Lebanon can be if the KSA and others leave it alone, Syria could become one, and even Iraq. And, why not, our Southern neighbours; after all, if a two-state solution is out of the question, let them give equal-citizen status to all Palestinians and built a secular nation. I am sure the 3 kings of the KSA, the HKJ and the pseudo-republic of Egypt will be elated.

PS: the SSNP, though officially secular, has one hurdle to overcome: their attitude towards Jews, including Arab Jews (I may be part of the last generation that really interacted with Arab Jews in Lebanon, as my father was part of the last generation that really interacted with Syrian Jews) is NOT acceptable. Have you noted how many anti-Zionist Jews there are in Morocco? I appaud the Moroccans for making it possible to their Jewish community to stay and thrive in that country.

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May 16th, 2008, 10:16 pm

 

292. Qifa Nabki said:

KingCrane,

Thanks, this is great, as usual.

I will mull it over and respond. Thanks for replying to my question.

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May 16th, 2008, 10:24 pm

 

293. zenobia said:

yes, King Crane Jr ‘s reply is extra interesting.

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May 19th, 2008, 9:54 pm

 

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