Posted by Joshua on Monday, November 3rd, 2008
[Landis analysis] As Barack Obama prepares himself to become president elect, George Bush has sought to broaden the war on Terror by sanctioning cross border raids and what many are calling a Bush Doctrine II.
This aggressive policy, hastily pushed forward in the twilight of the Bush presidency, has all the signs of weakness and desperation. Already, both Pakistan and Syria are pushing back. Iraq has promised not to sanction further raids. The international community has condemned the new policy. Although the Bush neocons are having a last minute boost, their eleventh hour shooting spree cannot conceal the systemic failure of the Bush doctrine. The use of violence over diplomacy has left America weaker in almost every sphere.
Khalid Mishaal is in Beirut meeting with Bush’s closest ally in the region, Saad Hariri. Hariri has already met with Nasrallah, the leader of Hizbullah, who Bush people revelled in calling the “A” team of terrorists. To make matters worse, Washington’s NATO allies are talking about negotiating with the Taliban in Afghanistan.
What ever happened to Good and Evil? France has led the way for Europe to re-engage with Syria, despite Washington’s admonitions. The PLO and Hamas are once again talking about a coalition government, because no one believes the PLO can actually lead the Palestinian people. The Bush administration stands all alone in its insistence on coloring the world black and white. It has the fire power to continue its stubborn blindness to the end, but at what price to American prestige?
Khalid Mashaal in Beirut: Meshaal: Palestinians are for everything that serves Lebanon and we are against settling us in Lebanon
“The focus should be more on enhanced coordination and intelligence-sharing,” Zardari told the U.S. officials today when they met at his residence during a visit to Pakistan, according to a Pakistani government statement. The cross-border raids from Afghanistan have killed Pakistanis and destroyed property, “creating a credibility gap” as members of the public pressure their leaders to explain the U.S. actions, Zardari said.
Syria Report – Economy:
2009 Budget to Rise to USD 14.73 billion: Syria’s 2009 budget is expected to stand at SYP 685 billion in 2009, an annual increase of 14 percent in nominal terms but almost unchanged in real terms. Read.
Oil & Gas: Syria Moves Ahead with Akkaz Pipeline: Syria is moving ahead with plans to build a gas pipeline linking its gas network with the Akkaz field in Iraq. Read
Der Spiegel: Are More Cross- Border Attacks on the Way?: By Cordula Meyer and Bernhard Zand, 2008-11-03
The US commando attack on al-Qaida operatives in Syria has raised some uncomfortable questions. How broadly can self defense be interpreted? And will the US conduct more operations like this in the immediate future? … Bruce Riedelhints that more such attacks may be on the way, particularly, he says, since the Bush administration won’t be around to deal with the aftermath of any such operations.
DAMASCUS (AFP)–Syria has banned a journalist, a researcher and a filmmaker from leaving the country as part of a crackdown on human rights activists, a Syrian human rights group said Sunday….
“The author and journalist Khaled Smaysem was informed of the travel ban ( against him) upon his recent return from the United States, where he took part in” an international exchange program, the statement said. “A few months earlier the authorities had forced him to shut his Internet news site, ‘Syrialife’, without any explanation.”
…The authorities Friday prevented HassanAbbas, a researcher, translator and teacher, from traveling to France to attend a seminar on European-Mediterranean cultural cooperation. In 2006, the Syrian authorities had lifted a previous travel ban imposed on Abbas, who is employed by a French institute in Damascus specializing in Middle East affairs….
The group Monday reported that Syrian filmmaker Mohammed Malas was banned from traveling to Paris for work. It said that the 63-year-old film director was at Damascus airport late last month preparing to fly to Paris when he was told he could not leave, in line with the list published by the security services…. Malas, who is working on a children’s film for Al-Jazeera television, told AFP that he had met with the security services in Damascus to discuss his position on freedom of speech and human rights. In the past he directed a documentary on Syrian political detainees.
authorities are investigating a possible link between the ring and the assassination of Mughniyeh, who was killed in a car bombing last February in Damascus. The Lebanese investigation also revealed that the cell has been monitoring sensitive security areas in Damascus, reports said.
Some of the Lebanese army’s past statements regarding covert Israeli activities in Lebanon have turned out to be reliable.
As-Safir newspaper reported on Monday that army command’s intelligence directorate had completed investigations into the two arrestedbrothers Ali and Youssef al-Jarrah, suspected of spying for Israel, under the supervision of the Prosecutor General Office.
A Palestinian leader in Central Bekaa told As-Safir that Ali al-Jarrahbecame a member of the Popular Front- General Command and that before resigning and moving to Fatah al-Intifada, he was granted military passage permission between Beirut and Damascus, which has been renewed repeatedly.
The leader also said that Jarrah often moved over the Syrian territories easily to meet with Palestinian factions’ leaders.
[Landis Comment:] Yoav Stern makes a sweeping statement about Jihad Makdissi’s short note published on Syria Comment. In fairness to Makdissi, he did not write that Syria rejects the Saudi peace plan, as Stern writes in his headline. He questions Peres’ and Barak’s motives in raising it as a new initiative. As Ambassador Moustapha made quite clear in his interview on SC: “It is important to understand that any Syrian approach to peace with Israel falls under its endorsement of the Pan Arab Peace Initiative. Therefore, any long-term relationship with Israel will ultimately fall within a broader Arab strategic plan.”
Syria rejects Israel’s calls to pursue Saudi peace plan
Yoav Stern, Haaretz Correspondent
The initiative, a broad proposal for a comprehensive solution to the Arab-Israeli conflict, calls for Israel’s withdrawal from territories captured in 1967 in return from normalized relations with the Arab world.
Syrian embassy spokesman in London Jihad Makdissicalled Israel’s recent revival of the initiative “another attempt to bluff and evade peace.” Makdissi made his remarks in a letter to leading Syrian blog Syria comment. In his letter, he said that any pan-Arab initiative would not let anyone but Syria negotiate with Israel over the fate of the Golan Heights, which Israel captured from Syria in the 1967 Six-Day War…..
…. So why is Netanyahu surging in the polls? Partly because the Likud leader was one of the few secular Israeli politicians to push back against Ariel Sharon’s “disengagement” plan from Gaza. Netanyahuhas long opposed unilateral measures, and when Hamas seized power just months after the withdrawal, many Israelis thought events proved Bibi right. There also aren’t many appealing alternatives; Ehud Barak is viewed as a has-been, and Livni is weakened by her role in the 2006 Lebanon war. As for Obama, it is yet to be seen how the dovish American would work with a hard-line Israeli counterpart. At the King David meeting, Obama smiled and tried to find common ground. Still, according to the Israeli source, “They didn’t really go into the details.”
In the worst case, Bibi Netanyahu, the Likud and its right-wing partners will come to power. Israel will have an obstinate government that will very likely face a US ally bent on wringing concessions from Israel as it beats an ignominious retreat from Iraq. 2009 will be a bad year for Israel, the Palestinians and the peace process in all likelihood. As for Shas, don’t worry about them. No matter who is in power, it seems they always get their money in the end.
We may well have Bibi Netanyahu to kick around some more, or more likely, it is he who will kick around the rest of us.
JERUSALEM, Nov. 2 (Xinhua) — Israeli Attorney-General Menahem Mazuz on Sunday greenlighted outgoing Prime Minister Ehud Olmert’s bid to resume indirect talks with Syria, turning down calls for him to examine Olmert’sauthority, local daily The Jerusalem Post reported.
Jerusalem (dpa) – The hardline opposition Likudparty submitted a bill to parliament Monday, which if passed would make it illegal for any Israeli transitional government to conduct peace talks and give up territory.
“….This raises the question of why Israel and the United States don’t work to classify factions of settler extremists — organizing to propogateviolence — as terror organizations or terror-supporting individuals. Such classification of these groups and/or individuals would allow the freezing of their financial assets in the United States and would create penalties for those who aided and abetted in their violence. Some very wealthy Americans are financing some of the expansionist settler activity in occupied Palestinian territories — and creating penalties for this assistance could be one way of squelching the violent dimensions of settler activity…”
Israel Will Halt Funds to Illegal Settlements By ISABEL KERSHNER in NYTimes
The decision is one of a series of measures announced by Prime Minister Ehud Olmert in response to a rise in violence by extremist Jewish settlers in the West Bank.
Maliki to show neighbours US-Iraq military pact
Agence France-Presse – 01 November, 2008
Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Malikisaid on Friday he will submit the text of the controversial security pact with the United States to all of his country’s neighbours.
He would do so after Baghdad receives a US reply to five proposed amendments made by Iraq, a statement from his office said.
Maliki “will dispatch delegations to Iraq’s neighbours, including Turkey, to show them the security agreement after receiving the American replies to the proposed modifications,” he was quoted as telling Turkish President Abdullah Gul in a telephone conversation…
Iraqi city wants US raids on Syria – Telegraph
Nineveh, the province surrounding Mosul, has a 227-mile border with Syria.
Mosul’s continuing turmoil barely registers outside the country. Even visitors to the city of 1.7 million view it as a distraction from the overall picture of falling violence in Iraq.
Khosro Goran, the vice-governor, said: “We have an open border with Syria and our neighbours are actively encouraging the terrorists.
“The majority of people don’t believe that Obama or McCain have a choice for a new American policy. President Bush removed Saddam and has been blamed for all the killing in Mosul. The American job is not finished because our enemies are backed by neighbouring countries.”
An American raid on a Syrian compound it believed was housing al-Qaeda operatives last month triggered calls for repeated sweeps beyond Iraq’s western borders.
An intelligence officer in Mosul said leading lieutenants of the late dictator Saddam Hussein and Islamists were directing attacks in Mosul from Syria.
The debilitating influence of the insurgent factions has sapped confidence within the security forces operating in the city, according to Captain Nabeel Mutlak, a policeman in Mosul since 1996.
Terrorist penetration of all ranks is so pervasive that his off-duty colleagues are regularly assassinated in cold blood, mostly in the street or at markets when shopping with their families.
A ‘loaded’ American provocation of Syria
By Abd al Bari Atwan of al Quds
….We do not expect the Syrian government to abandon its position of self-restraint, and risk provoking the raging American bull with wounds in the closing months of this defeated administration. It is behaving as other countries in the region and the world are, biding its time until the curtain is lowered on one of the most hostile American administrations towards Arabs and Muslims ever, in the hope that a new administration would learn from their mistakes and choose a policy of dialogue rather than confrontation in the Middle East.
“Obama’s historical uprising” by Abd al Bari Atwan of al Quds (Thanks to Mideastwire.com)
On November 3, the Palestinian-owned Al-Quds al-Arabi daily carried the following opinion piece by Chief Editor Abdel-Beri Atwan: “So far, one third of the American people have already voted and the polls confirmed that Barack Obama was ahead of his Republican opponent John McCain by more than ten points. This means that next Wednesday, unless a disaster were to occur, he will be crowned the new president of the United States. By electing Obama, the American people would have staged the greatest uprising in their modern history, an uprising against racism, class division, the extremist right wing and the Evangelists and against all types of slavery.
“All we have learned about American policy during the last two decades is now in the past and we are standing at a historical crossroads that might never be seen again, one in which a poor black man paved his own way toward heading the biggest superpower in history through the ballot boxes and despite the rejection of the ruling institution… Obama’s quasi certain victory will constitute a safety raft to America and the Americans and will achieve national reconciliation between the Americans themselves and between them and the entire world,