Clinton to Damascus?

Jerusalem Post: Clinton says she may visit Syria
2010-03-01

US Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said she may visit Syria soon, but did not name a date, Israel Radio reported. Clinton made the comment while speaking to reporters in Qatar, the station said.

Iraqi PM says relations with Syria improving
2010-02-28, BBC MidEast: Text of report in English by privately-owned Aswat al-Iraq news agency website

“Maliki To Aswat Al-Iraq: Iraqi-Syrian Relations Are Getting Better”

Baghdad, 28 February: Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki on Sunday [28 February] said that Iraqi-Syrian ties are getting better.

“The climate of relations between Iraq and Syria is improving,” Al-Maliki told Aswat al-Iraq news agency, adding that the better the relations between the two countries, the lesser the need for international courts.

The Iraqi government had called on the United Nations Security Council to establish an international court and probe into a series of bombings that rocked Baghdad and left many people killed or wounded in August 2009, urging the Syrian government to hand over Ba’thist leaders who were allegedly involved in the attacks. (Originally published by Aswat al-Iraq, Arbil, in English 0943 28 Feb 10.)

Jeffery Feltman and Ambassador Imad Moustapha meet over weekend
By JPOST.COM STAFF
28/02/2010

US Assistant Secretary of State Jeffery Feltman met with Syrian Ambassador to the US Imad Mustafa over the weekend, the London-based Arab daily al-Hayat reported on Sunday.

According to the report, a senior State Department official refused to provide information about the content of the meeting but said it was part of ongoing American efforts to strengthen ties with Damascus. He added that the meeting had nothing to do with Syrian President Bashar Assad’s mocking response to USSecretary of State Hillary Clinton’s demand that Syria distance itself from Iran.

YNETnews: Nabih Berri to US: “US must also stop arming Israel with weapons and equipment…”

“… London-based al-Hayat newspaper reported on Monday that the message was conveyed via US Ambassador to Lebanon Michele Sison to Lebanese Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri.

According to the report, Berri asked Sison to tell Clinton that finding a solution to the arms smuggling issue is “not a problem”, but that the US must also stop arming Israel with weapons and equipment…”

Haaretz: As the West woos Syria, Assad aligns himself with Iran
2010-03-01, By Avi Issacharoff

There is something provocative in Syria’s behavior over the last few weeks. … And in terms of intimacy with Hezbollah, Syrian President Bashar Assad is outdoing even his father. Hafez Assad always remained wary of the Lebanese group and in the 1990s even dispatched forces to Lebanon to fight it. Bashar, in contrast, has supplied Hezbollah with weapons more deadly than any it had in the past – weapons which threaten to ignite the entire region.

It is true that overtures from the West could keep Syria from giving itself wholly to Iran. And persuading Syria to negotiate with Israel could even significantly weaken its axis with Tehran and might neutralize the threat of regional war. But with the Damascus summit, Assad is signaling unease over American and French attempts to woo him and, moreover, that he has no interest in reopening talks with Israel. Ahmadinejad has been to Damascus before, of course, and Bashar has visited Tehran. But the presence this time of Hamas and Hezbollah hints at more than the usual show of deterrence to Israel and the West….

Hamas’ growing loyalty to Iran is worrying. Until just a few years ago, before the assassination of Sheikh Ahmed Yassin, Palestinians were on the whole suspicious of the Iranians and the group tried to keep its links with Tehran inconspicuous.

But power in Hamas has since shifted from the West Bank and Gaza to the organization’s political leadership in Damascus. The now dominant Syrian branch has crept gradually closer to Iran and Hamas policy has hardened accordingly.

Saudi writer says Syria’s quest for peace contradicts ties with Iran
2010-02-28 BBC MidEast: Al-Sharq al-Awsat website on 27 February [Commentary by Chief Editor Tariq al-Humayd: “Syria And Iran … Who is Deceiving Whom?”]

At a time when US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said that her country requested the Syrians to distance themselves from Iran, Syrian President Bashar al-Asad received hospitably his Iranian counterpart in Damascus. And both leaders marked together Prophet Muhammad’s birthday and signed an agreement canceling entry visas between the two countries. Was this development a challenge to the United States, or was it merely intended to publicly embarrass the United States in response to Clinton’s embarrassment of Damascus, particularly because President Al-Asad’s comment on Clinton’s statement was clearly
sarcastic. He said: “We met today to sign an alienation agreement,” and he added laughing: “But since we have misunderstood things, perhaps due to mistranslation or limited understanding, we signed an agreement to cancel entry visas between the two countries. I do not know if the two things go together.” He added: “I wish that others would not give us lessons about our region and history; we decide how things go.”

This is a strong and harsh statement. But if Damascus is the one that decides how things go, and sees that its interest lies in cementing ties with Tehran, why is Syria openly calling on the Americans to intercede in the negotiations with Israel? After all, Syrian Foreign Minister Walid al-Mu’allim recently stated that “normalizing US-Syrian relations is extremely important to lay the groundwork for helping reach direct negotiations with Israel one day.”

If Damascus agrees with Ahmadinezhad, who likened Hillary Clinton to a mother of a bride – though we do not know who the bridegroom is – that “the Zionist entity is headed to its demise” and that “all regional peoples, foremost of whom are, Syria, Lebanon, Iran and Iraq, will stand up to Israel,” why does Syria cooperate in security matters with the Americans? Washington has admitted that the number of foreign fighters heading for Iraq from Syria has decreased. And since Damascus and Baghdad are partners, why is this sharp dispute between the two capitals? If Syria is a partner of Tehran, how can one understand
Syrian Foreign Minister Al-Mu’allim’s statement on international concern about Iran’s nuclear dossier? Al-Mu’allim said that Syria seeks “to work for a constructive dialogue between Iran and the West leading to a peaceful solution” based on two principles: “Iran’s right to use nuclear energy for peaceful purposes and regional countries’ confidence that Iran has no military nuclear programme.” This statement does not indicate that Syria stands with Iran!

This situation is quite perplexing. If the Syrians want to have normal relations with the United States and want the United States to sponsor mediation efforts with Israel, why do they stand with Ahmadinezhad and agree with him that Israel should be wiped out? How does Ahmadinezhad trust Syria as a partner since Damascus talks of peace with Israel? If Syria’s negotiations with the Israelis are acceptable to Iran, why does Tehran brand others [who negotiate with Israel] as traitors?

On the Arab level, there has been no comment on Al-Asad- Ahmadinezhad meeting in Damascus, but as far as the United States is concerned, my
sources in Washington say that Ahmadinezhad’s statement demonstrates the extent of the Iranians’ tension and concern over US Under Secretary of State William Burns’s visit to Syria as part of a tour that also took him to Lebanon and Turkey. According to available information, Burns’ visit was for the purpose of garnering support for a resolution imposing sanctions on Iran. The Americans believe that Al-Asad’s statement was intended to ease the Iranians’ concern about Burns’ visit and about the forthcoming arrival in Damascus of the US ambassador.

The question is this: Who is deceiving whom? This is because there is something not right in Damascus’s relations with Tehran. Raising voices betrays the fact that one party is tense and that the other shows the opposite of what it conceals. So let us wait and see. (Originally published by Al-Sharq al-Awsat website, London, in Arabic 27 Feb 10.)

Israelis suspected of using Australian passports to spy on Iran, Syria and Lebanon, report says
2010-02-28, LA Times [Reg]: MIDDLE EAST:

A stunning report in this weekend’s Sydney Morning Herald alleges that Australian counterintelligence officials are investigating at least three Israeli citizens suspected of using Australian passports to spy in the Middle East. According to two …

Can the US afford not to help in the Dubai murder investigation?
War in context: 28 Feb 2010

On Thursday, the US State Department spokesmen P J Crowley was called on to break the US silence regarding the murder of Mahmoud al-Mahbouh: QUESTION: …has there been any comment on the apparent assassination in Dubai? Is that something the U.S. has weighed in on? MR. CROWLEY: I don’t think we’ve weighed in on it. It is […]

Moshe Dayan’s widow Ruth, in Haaretz (Thanks to FLC)

(…)And we expelled?

We didn’t expel. During my childhood, we didn’t expel. We bought those tracts of land. Since then, however, many things have happened and today Israel is not the same. It’s cliche to talk about how we’re in a state of occupation and we’re trying to occupy more and more. I’m at that age where I don’t even talk about peace anymore. We don’t know how to make peace. We go from war to war and this will never end.

Whose fault is it?
Ours, mainly. Are we, with all our power, incapable of taking a step?

Have you lost hope for peace?
I think Zionism has finished its work. I’ve endured many wars and I can’t ignore the fact that they didn’t want us. When I go to the territories, I don’t even bother instilling hope in them. Out of courtesy, I tell them that I hope something will change, but the deterioration is just awful. Particularly the fence. This is something I can’t tolerate.

People say it stopped terrorism.
Oh, please. “It stopped terrorism.” Nothing will be able to stop terrorism except dialogue.

Are you Jewish?
I’m just an Israeli. It was a great honor to be Israeli, even when I was still a Jewish Palestinian during my childhood in London. I’m the first daughter of graduates of the Herzliya Gymnasium after Yehudi Menuhin was the first son. In London, I went to pray with the gentile girls.

Two states or one?
There was a time when I thought one state for two peoples. Now I see that we have to have two states because we really are different and it would be best if everyone takes care of his own business. We’re a mob that can’t even get along internally. So we’re going to get along with them?

What would you do if you were prime minister?

Just like how we started. Like when we met with [Jordanian King] Abdullah and when [Yitzhak] Rabin tried. Rabin could have delivered peace. (…)

39 army raids, 28 arrests: Just another day in the West Bank
By Amira Hass
HAARETZ

“The year 2009 was the quietest for Israelis from the security point of view and the most violent for the Palestinians from the point of view of attacks by settlers in the West Bank.” Just as he was saying this – as an example of one of the absurdities that characterize the political situation – Palestinian Agriculture Minister Ismail Daiq received a phone call from the Jenin district to inform him that five artesian wells in the village of Daan had been destroyed that morning. One person was shot and wounded in the abdomen when he tried to lift the pump to save it from damage. This was not an attack by settlers but a raid by the army.

And that wasn’t the only routine event on Wednesday, February 24. The negotiations affairs department of the Palestine Liberation Organization collects information daily from all the districts of the occupied territories (Gaza and the West Bank, as well as Jerusalem) and publishes it in a daily situation report by the Palestinian Monitoring Group. For the sake of convenience, the report categorizes the events and then provides details for each district.

That Wednesday, a total of 212 occupation-related incidents were recorded. Examples include: four physical assaults (which took place in the West Bank, and included civilians being beaten in Nablus and Jerusalem); one injury (a civilian hurt in a clash in Daan); eight military shooting attacks (two of which took place in Gaza, two were in the midst of raids, and one came from a military outpost; 39 army raids (one in Gaza); 28 arrests; and 12 detentions at checkpoints and in residential areas. The items on the checklist include home demolition (none that day), the leveling of agricultural land (one, in Gaza), and construction of the separation wall (at 22 locations). ……

Comments (27)


1. norman said:

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Christian Zionist Predicts Psalm 83 War This Summer
Mon Mar 1, 2:01 am ET

The author of a new book, Generation Last, is predicting that the long prophesied Psalm 83 War between Israel and several of its neighboring countries will take place this summer.

(PRWEB) March 1, 2010 — Les Lawrence, the author of a new book, Generation Last, says the seismic plates are shifting in the Middle East. “No peace plan,” he writes, “can touch the spiritual dimensions of the coming earthquake.”

In his blog, (www.elishavision.wordpress.com) Lawrence shows how several events currently taking place point to a likelihood of a small regional war occurring between Israel and its neighbors this summer.

Vadim Mikhaliov, site administrator for Debkafile (www.debka.com) posted two exclusive reports in February that corroborate the possibility of Lawrence’s suggestion.

Now in its tenth year on the Internet, DEBKAfile provides intelligence and security-related breaking news and analysis on world events.
The first report quotes Syria’s Foreign Minister, Walid Maullem, in Damascus as warning the Israelis against testing Syrian power, “since you know the war will move into your cities.”

The report alludes to possible preparations for attacks on Iran by both US and Israeli naval forces in the Persian Gulf.

The second DEBKAfile report quotes Israelis Foreign Minister, Avigdor Lieberman saying Syria’s President Assad “must be told bluntly that in the next war, not only will Syria be beaten but he and his family will lose power.”

In an unrelated article dated February 11,2010, internationally acclaimed Reuters (www.reuters.com/article/idUSDAH12274820100211) reported Iran’s President Ahmadinejad warning Israel that if the Zionist state continues to make mistakes and initiates a military offensive, “it must be resisted with full force to put an end to it once and for all.”

Lawrence, in his book, writes that Psalm 83 clearly prophesies a war between Israel and all its adjacent countries with the one exception of Egypt. Currently, Egypt and Jordan both have peace treaties with Israel.

However Lawrence explained in a telephone interview that “Jordan’s relationship with Israel could quickly turn negative. If Jordan politics change and Jordan joins the Iranian/Syrian camp, we could see a war matching the Biblical descriptions in Psalm 83 this summer.”

He said that some 70% of Jordan is Palestinian. Such a majority could easily influence or overwhelm and depose the ruling Jordanian family of King Abdullah.

Lawrence observed, “The sabers of an impending war are clashing.” In his book, Lawrence shows how Psalm 83 could very well be a prophecy for these times, noting that the countries named in the Psalm are the same countries existing today under formerly different national names.

This is important to note, he added, because “Psalm 83 describes a smaller regional war with Israel that precedes the epic final battles of the Apocalypse.”

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March 1st, 2010, 2:03 pm

 

2. t_desco said:

Funny, I could swear I just saw her in Uruguay… Did she make the comment before of after the visit of the Iranian president to Damascus?

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March 1st, 2010, 5:48 pm

 

3. Ghat Albird said:

Mr. Berri’s request to the US “to stop arming Israel” will undoubtedly have to contend who really makes the final decisions. According to the present decision making process its still the same group alluded to by the late Mr. Sharon.

As per quote.

‘Every time we do something you tell me America will do this and will do that… I
want to tell you something very clear: Don’t worry about American pressure on
Israel. We, the Jewish people, control America, and the Americans know it. ‘ –

Israeli Prime Minister, Ariel Sharon, October 3, 2001

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March 1st, 2010, 5:56 pm

 

4. Syrian Nationalist Party said:

President Assad will be making a serious mistake to waver in his stand and depart with Iran. On the contrary, he should strengthen this relationship and allow for Iranian military and hardware to be positioned on the front line against the enemy. The Visa waiver agreement is a blessing, it allow free travel of a million important person between the States. Why only Mossad assassins should have that right to do so, courtesy of Western countries legitimate passports and Credit Cards.

President Assad should also embark, with Iran help, on developing those essential weapons and defense systems needed to insure victory. As Great President Ahmadinejad said, we cannot take it anymore. The Jewish State insanity must be confronted and treaded. The next attack by Israel should be its last. They have nukes, others have deadlier Biological and Chemical weapons and the means to deliver those to any enemy land should be developed. Syria and Iran should not fear those weapons and focus on insuring that Northern Palestine will be overrun in the first few hours of any confrontation initiated by the Insane Jewish State on behest of and backed by Global Zionists, in a bid to distract from the upcoming global financial meltdown caused by their plundering of Western nations.

Why Secretary Clinton should visit Syria, what for, that is really demeaning to Syria, why not Obama heads to Damascus and Tehran, after all, he is the one that received the Noble Peace Price, or did he also cheat his way too to that? Syria needs to maintain a dignity of its people, before any high level American official visit Syria, the entire Sanction regime, every line item and every epithet of Syria and Syrians in the Lexicon garbage of American Dictionary of Epiphytes used against those that do not submit to Judeo-Christo fascist hegemony must be removed and annulled. Only afterward, should Syria accept the visit of American Officials.

If Americans wants to demonstrate good honest intentions toward Syria, then all sanctions and travel restrictions must be waved and annulled. If they need concession from Syria, then first make Syria America favorite nation Status and ease all trading restriction. Only then should Syrians respond positively to Americans needs, and only if fulfilling those needs are not violating the strategic interests of Syria or any of its allies.

Let’s face it, Obama is a one term gig, if that, he may resign after 2010 elections, Democrats will be lucky to maintain 19 seats in the Senate. The neocons will be back in the driver seats very soon and Syria must be prepared for Phase II of Clean Break and the already progressing American Century Dominations. Half the Israeli believe attacking Syria, it will fall apart. Now, that is weakened like Iraq, Israeli boarders can extend to Ebla with ease, the Moslem Arab Bedouins will help in that for little cash. With Hezbollah and its Shia finished off, Israel northern coast border will be in Kassab, Syria. The other half believes divorcing Syria from Iran will save the day. These insane percentages of illiterates have no clue to the strategic vision Syrians sees ahead. Without Iran and Hezbollah, basically what the other half of Israeli believe, will be made true without a fight, just a plain surrender and no one in Syria is about surrendering to a mob of Jews backed by a gang of genocidal nation robber barons.
Time is on Syria and its allies hand, they are drowning in debt, soon no one will buy those IOUs and attention will be turned on averting raging mobs at home not waging new resource wars in far way places. It is the fall of Rome, all over again. Soon, as it happened before after the fall of the harlots, Iran and Syria will be the center of the New World Order.

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March 1st, 2010, 6:55 pm

 

5. EHSANI2 said:

Syrian Nationalist Party,

“Now, that is weakened like Iraq, Israeli boarders can extend to Ebla with ease, the Moslem Arab Bedouins will help in that for little cash. With Hezbollah and its Shia finished off, Israel northern coast border will be in Kassab, Syria”.

I am just wondering:

For those property owners in Kassab, is this bullish or bearish?

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March 1st, 2010, 8:38 pm

 

6. Syrian Nationalist Party said:

@Ehsani
Ask the property owners of Gaza city, Fallujah and Kandahar, they can answer that for you. Do you really think for a moment that Zionist Jews will improve property value in Syria? It has been more than 8 years for Iraq and Afghanistan invasion; do you see the economic or reconstruction progress outside the U.S. Embassy monolith and foreign military bases? Just like many Iraqi dreams of the good days under Saddam, Syrians will be dreaming of the good old day under the Assad’s. Don’t fool yourself for a moment.

Why do you think they are after Iran for? Nukes!! No, positively not that, they are after effective, shock and awe campaign for the destruction of economic and industrial developments all over the Persian Gulf and Arabia. They are dying in envy of Dubai progress and doing everything possible to bankrupt it. It is about pitting Iran against Arabs so they can destroy each other and then Zionist led NATO have an easy move in on Arabia to defend it from Iran. It is the same old game, the one they used Communism for, then Saddam against Iran for decades, sends Ambassador to let Saddam knows they will not interfere if he invaded Kuwait. Nothing good comes out of these people with worn out, but working cookie cutter. Most of the 30 Billion Dollars of weaponry sold to these Persian Gulf countries and now being delivered is really NATO weaponries that is paid for by the Arabs and stored free on location for the appointed time to be used by NATO forces. Should they try to use it, say against Israel, they will activate by remote control the $3.80 override chip to deactivate the working of any tank, airplane or missile system.

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March 1st, 2010, 9:42 pm

 

7. almasri said:

I disagree with syrian nationalist party. Obama should not be allowed in Damascus. There is no benefit whatsoever in receiving the sickman of the world in Syria and giving him a lifeline. Let him die as he should and the sooner the better. A persona nongratta should be considered to him and his staff.
I also disagree about the sanctions. The Syrians should insist on keeping those sanctions active forever as a badge of honor to Syria and its people. They would also serve to remind us, Egyptians, of the shame brought upon us by Sadat who sold Egypt for $2 Billion US a year which we more than pay back to the zionist thugs in the form of subsidy to oil and gas Egypt sells to the thugs at less than half world market price.
Asad may rise to greatness but may also descend to infamy and dishonor if he winks to these bankrupt thugs. The game is very obvious. Your dad is watching over you Bashar and you only live once. You have the option to be great. Do not settle for mediocrity.

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March 1st, 2010, 10:17 pm

 

8. Ghat Albird said:

SYRIAN NATIONALIST PARTY said:

Most of the 30 Billion Dollars of weaponry sold to these Persian Gulf countries and now being delivered is really NATO weaponries that is paid for by the Arabs and stored free on location for the appointed time to be used by NATO forces.

A critic of the invasion of Iraq and Afghanistan has suggested that once both are “pacified” by NATO whats to keep NATO from making them members like Madelien Albright is already trying to make Rumania a member of NATO.

In any case an extract from remarks made by Robert Gates, the US Secreatry of Defense at a NATO Strategic Concept Seminar on February 23, 2010 reflects observations alluded above.

Extract from Mr. Gates comments at the NATO seminar.

It is clear that our security interests are no longer tied solely to the territorial integrity of member states, as instability elsewhere can be a real threat.

Just consider the types of missions undertaken by NATO over the last two decades – from Bosnia and Herzegovina, to Kosovo, to counter-terrorism in the Mediterranean and counter-piracy in the Gulf of Aden, to the massive, multi-faceted stability, reconstruction, and counterinsurgency effort in Afghanistan.

I know that some see a tension between these new missions and the core goal of defending the territory of member states from attack – a point made more relevant after Russia’s invasion of Georgia and its recent military exercises on NATO’s border, the largest of that type since the collapse of the Soviet Union.

As some of the experts noted at the first seminar, however, there is no inherent contradiction between force projection and collective defense since just about any conflict will probably require deployable forces. Still, the Strategic Concept must be clear that Article 5 means what it says: an attack on one is an attack on all.

The concept also must go further to strengthen Article 5’s credibility with a firm commitment to enhance deterrence through appropriate contingency planning, military exercises, and force development.

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March 1st, 2010, 10:37 pm

 

9. Amir in Tel Aviv said:

AlMasri,
Writing furious comments, full of rage is OK. But not enough.
My suggestion to you: join this divine form of muqawama:

http://www.youtube.com/watch#playnext=1&playnext_from=TL&videos=2vDVZy1XdpU&v=nDqWGtykYNE
.

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March 2nd, 2010, 1:09 am

 

10. Akbar Palace said:

“Resistance” means Lawlessness is Legal

Amir,

If the shoe were on the other foot, and an Israeli lawyer said it was OK to rape Arab women, just think of all the outrage we’d hear from the participants on this website.

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March 2nd, 2010, 1:30 am

 

11. almasri said:

Amir in Tal Abib,
You said you’ve been to Egypt in previous comments. Obviously, you do not understand anything about Egypt, despite your apparent Arabic knowledge.
The woman in the video was saying that an Israeli cares less about his woman’s honor (3’ard) than what he pays for a liter of gas at the pump. Arabic is full of slangs and only those who understand such slangs can get the full message.
Next time you go to Egypt be aware when you hear the slang ibn el-wiskha. It refers to a specific group of people that no one in his right mind, except a zionist, would like to be part of.
I understand your anxiety following the Egyptian public sentiment in certain media towards your people. You know where the nail of your midget countries coffin will be coming from.

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March 2nd, 2010, 2:23 am

 

12. Amir in Tel Aviv said:

I made a promise to myself.
Never again visit countries, in which Falafel is made of Ful.
Yack.
.

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March 2nd, 2010, 3:12 am

 

13. why-discuss said:

There are strategic and long term transformation in the region. Turkey is emerging as an actor in the Middle east. Iran is moving closer to the arab world with the waiving of visas for syrians as well as Lebanon and Syria waiving the visas with Turkey. A block is appearing that has enough weapons both military and economically to put more pressure than ever on the Zionist state and its supporters. The US and the european economies are in crisis while the arab word is doing well. Iraq is in the brink of becoming another antagonist to Israel…
Hillary seems completely lost. I think what is happening is beyond her intellectual abilities. She is an old guard, trying to keep her links with the New -York jewish lobby intact while dealing with an rapidly changing situation on the ground. She is uttering non-sense after non-sense. I think Bashar al Asad should make it clear that if she comes, she will have to loose her look of superiority as she is going to get a cold shower. I think she will not dare to come!

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March 2nd, 2010, 11:21 am

 

14. Akbar Palace said:

Amir in Tel Aviv,

Don’t forget to tell ALMASRI that your “midget country” of 7 million people produced more goods ($200 Billion) than 79 million Egyptians ($188 Billion).

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March 2nd, 2010, 11:47 am

 

15. Ghat Albird said:

Hillary tells Berri that US WILL NOT stop Israel from attacking Lebanon when ever they decide to do it.

http://news.antiwar.com/2010/03/01/report-us-state-dept-warns-lebanon-it-cant-stop-israeli-attack/

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March 2nd, 2010, 1:43 pm

 

16. t_desco said:

Some comments regarding the following articles about the Hariri case and the STL (sorry to be late):

“Bellemare und die Bombe von Beirut”, Markus Bickel, F.A.Z.., 12. Februar 2010

“Cinq ans après la mort de Rafic Hariri, le Tribunal pour le Liban n’a toujours pas rassemblé de preuves décisives”, Stéphanie Maupas, Le Monde , 13.02.10

If you watched Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah’s speech, you will remember that he described the Le Monde article as ‘psychological warfare’.

Both articles are similar to a degree that they seem to be following the same talking points:

– both quote the Spiegel article;

– both claim that the Spiegel allegations are (in essence) true;

– both cite unnamed investigators as sources for these claims; in addition, the F.A.Z. says it got confirmation directly from the STL and apparently also from Serge Brammertz;

– both say that the STL does not have sufficient judicial evidence (surprise, surprise);

– both still point the finger at Syria, but Iran is now mentioned as well;

– both contain attacks on Bellemare.

Frankly, I don’t think that Serge Brammertz confirmed anything at all. He was so careful in all his reports, why would he now ‘spill the beans’ to some reporter? And if you look at the actual quotes, they are ‘pure Brammertz’, typical abstract generalities very similar to what he said in his reports. But they are cited in a way that seems to suggest that he is confirming the Spiegel allegations.

However, an unnamed high-ranking former investigator who worked under Brammertz does confirm at least some those allegations: “The Spiegel article was certainly not entirely wrong”.

“Ein ranghoher früherer Ermittler, der zu Brammertz’ Beiruter Zeit mit dem Fall befasst war, bestätigt die Verdachtsmomente gegen die Hizbullah: „Der Artikel im ‘Spiegel‘ war sicherlich nicht ganz falsch.“”

Le Monde also quotes an anonymous investigator to back up the Spiegel allegations:

“”Qui est la taupe ?”, s’interrogeait alors un chercheur proche de l’enquête.”

Perhaps most importantly, the F.A.Z. claims, without naming the source, that it obtained confirmation directly from the STL that members of Hizbullah “could” be indicted (literally: “the prosecution could have its sights on members of Hizbullah”):

“Denn wie die Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung aus dem (…) Tribunal erfuhr, könnten Mitglieder der schiitischen Hizbullah ins Visier einer Anklage geraten.”

The article is silent about a possible motive, but does conspicuously mention Resolution 1559. Hizbullah’s links to Iran are also stressed, apparently to suggest the involvement of Teheran.

However, both articles agree that the judicial evidence is insufficient:

-“Hinzu kommt, dass es genügend gerichtsverwertbare Beweise gegen die Verdächtigen aus Kreisen der Hizbullah bislang offenbar nicht gibt”;
– “le Tribunal pour le Liban n’a pas rassemblé de preuves décisives”, “l’analyse ne suffit pas à monter un dossier judiciaire”.

It is interesting that both articles also contain attacks on Bellemare. This could be interpreted as an attempt to influence and put pressure on the Canadian regarding the timing of his next steps, be it either an indictment or just summons orders (as Michael Young suggested).

Even mere summons would indicate to the public in Lebanon in which direction the investigation is being taken, so they could potentially be used to great political effect (a fact missed by Michael Young).

The F.A.Z. indicates that the “donor nations” are getting impatient with Bellemare because of the delay in issuing the indictment:

“Länger als bis Ende dieses Jahres kann sich Bellemare mit der Erhebung der Anklage kaum Zeit lassen – schon heute wächst die Ungeduld der Geberstaaten, die nicht bereit sind, weiter Geld in ein Tribunal ohne Angeklagte zu stecken.”

Even more telling are the comments by a French government source in Le Monde:

“Mais la discrétion du procureur Bellemare agace néanmoins les diplomates “qui essayent de lui tendre des pièges, mais il reste muet sur l’enquête”, raconte une source proche du Quai d’Orsay. “Il est très prétentieux dans ses rapports avec les autres, notamment les autorités nationales et les services étrangers, et donc peu populaire. Il se sent surpuissant mais ne comprend pas bien les finesses du dossier. Il veut adapter des méthodes d’enquête traditionnelles canadiennes à une enquête politique sur un territoire qu’il ne contrôle et ne comprend pas”, regrette un enquêteur.”

As an aside, it would be absolutely unthinkable, say, in social sciences to have a researcher who does understand neither the “finesses du dossier” nor the country he is investigating, but apparently in matters of international justice this is acceptable…

Add to this investigators sporting a world view not dissimilar to that of Michael Young and you got a recipe for disaster:

“”Si on estime que c’est le Hezbollah, on peut assumer qu’il n’aurait jamais fait cela sans l’aval de la Syrie, et éventuellement l’aide de l’Iran”, affirme une source au sein de l’enquête.”

The many leaks just in these two articles, in disregard of official policy, do not exactly inspire confidence in the professionalism and neutrality of the investigation:

– “wie die Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung aus dem (…) Tribunal erfuhr”, “ein ranghoher früherer Ermittler, der zu Brammertz’ Beiruter Zeit mit dem Fall befasst war”, “heißt es in Beirut, wo das Tribunal ein Büro unterhält”;
– “selon certaines sources”, “un chercheur proche de l’enquête”, “plusieurs sources”, “une source au in de l’enquête”, “un autre enquêteur”, “une source proche du Quai d’Orsay”, “un enquêteur”.

It seems that I was way too optimistic in the past about the possibility of international justice. Of course, there is no moral foreign policy, countries simply pursue their interests and these can only occasionally coincide with the truth. Events are primarily seen from the angle of how to make political hay out of them. The UN investigation was probably very useful in that regard (e.g. the intelligence resulting from the analysis of all telecommunication data in Lebanon that was handed over to the commission). And the temptation is certainly there to use the STL against Hizbullah and Iran.

Of course, the possibility that both articles are just ‘psychological warfare’ cannot be discarded, but even that has significant consequences. It means that either both Le Monde and the F.A.Z, (and also Le Figaro‘s Georges Malbrunot) are lying about their sources, or, even worse, that manipulation sits right at the heart of the UN investigation and the STL.

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March 2nd, 2010, 3:04 pm

 

17. Akbar Palace said:

Ghat,

Here’s the part you left out:

Al-Hayat newspaper says US secretary of state conveys message to Lebanese parliament speaker saying Washington cannot stop Israel from striking in Lebanon as long as arms smuggling to Hezbollah continues.

http://www.journal-post.com/2010/03/01/3943/report-us-tells-lebanon-cant-stop-israeli-strike/

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March 2nd, 2010, 3:19 pm

 

18. Ghat Albird said:

AP.

Here’s a part thats really, really matters. Why is it ok for israel to get billions in military aid ” to defend itself ” from its avowed enemies and the Lebanese get nothing.

Your comments reflect a tendency to PTSD conditions.

Whats sauce for the Goose (israel) is sauce for the Gander (Lebanon).

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March 2nd, 2010, 3:39 pm

 

19. Shai said:

“Don’t forget to tell ALMASRI that your “midget country” of 7 million people produced more goods ($200 Billion) than 79 million Egyptians ($188 Billion).”

That “giant country” of 7 million also produces a good share of honest, patriotic Settler Foreign Ministers… http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/1153360.html

Qunfuz, don’t worry, Lieberman ain’t gonna be there at the negotiation table. He’ll be well behind a prison cell, wondering why other criminals get away with it, and he didn’t…

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March 2nd, 2010, 3:45 pm

 

20. Ghat Albird said:

TO: T_DESCO

Michael Young is referred to in polite French as a “souteneur”. I would imagine that in English he might be termed a “mole”.

Your comments are an interesting read. Any thoughts on whether as much time should be given to the 16 that were phtoed in Dubia

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March 2nd, 2010, 3:48 pm

 
 

22. jad/2 said:

Remember ? Hezbollah first emerged in response to the Israeli invasion of Lebanon in 1982.

Why Washington did not stop Israel’s 1978 and 1982 invasions of Lebanon ?

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1982_Lebanon_War#cite_ref-21

“One of the reasons for the invasion, according to Sheldon L. Richman was “the discrediting and destruction of the PLO, which, by June 1982, had observed its cease-fire with Israel for about a year and had been pursuing a diplomatic strategy.”[21] Although the PLO had observed the ceasefire, Israel continued looking for the “internationally recognized provocation” that Secretary of State Alexander Haig said would be necessary to obtain American support for an Israeli invasion of Lebanon.[22]

On 3 April 1982 Israeli diplomat Yacov Bar-Simantov was assassinated by the Lebanese Armed Revolutionary Fraction; this incident was blamed on the PLO by Israel.[23] On 3 June 1982 an anti-Arafat splinter group which was not a part of the PLO and was headed by Abu Nidal paralyzed Israeli diplomat Shlomo Argov in an assassination attempt in London. Prime Minister Menachem Begin had been informed by Israeli intelligence that the PLO was not involved in the attack on Argov, but withheld this information from his Cabinet.[24]

Sami Moubayed would write in 2008 that Rafael Eitan, who was then the Chief of Staff of the Israeli Defense Forces, responded to the aforementioned information by saying: “Abu Nidal, Abu Shmidal. I don’t know, we need to screw the PLO.”[25] In late 1981, Begin compared Arafat to Adolf Hitler, telling a high-ranking Israeli general at the Waldorf-Astoria, “I want to see Arafat in his Bunker!”.[26]”

Oxymoron: Israel Peace.

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March 2nd, 2010, 8:31 pm

 

23. Shai said:

Syria’s chief IAEA delegate blames Israel for dropping uranium in order to implicate Syria. As I’ve written before on SC, I believe Syria is doing itself a disservice by participating in evasion or denial tactics, rather than adopting nuclear ambiguity. Enough to see Iran’s attempts to depict its nuclear program as “anything-but-military” to suggest this tactic does not work. In fact, it may well encourage general doubt and suspicion of Syria’s intentions and claims.

http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-3858025,00.html

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March 4th, 2010, 4:16 pm

 

24. Ghat Albird said:

A propagandist commentary appearing in the National Interest warning America about the Jihadists amongst them and their potentiaal for criminal acts.

Its definitely anti-muslim rhetoric and obviously its inclusion in The National Interest suggests that its to be seriously considered by all those who consider the Muslim citizen of the US are a national threat.

written by a gilles kepel.

http://www.nationalinterest.org/Article.aspx?id=22920

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March 4th, 2010, 10:02 pm

 

25. SimoHurtta said:

Syria’s chief IAEA delegate blames Israel for dropping uranium in order to implicate Syria. As I’ve written before on SC, I believe Syria is doing itself a disservice by participating in evasion or denial tactics, rather than adopting nuclear ambiguity. Enough to see Iran’s attempts to depict its nuclear program as “anything-but-military” to suggest this tactic does not work. In fact, it may well encourage general doubt and suspicion of Syria’s intentions and claims.

Can you Shai explain how a nearly completed, as most sources tell us, nuclear reactor can “produce” nuclear traces when bombed? The reactor was hardly loaded because it was not ready nor Syrians would have stored uranium on a reactor building site. So the fair question is that from where did the nuclear traces come. Israel had enough nuclear materials and knowledge so that it easily could “pollute” the surrounding during or after the bombing by dumping some “evidence”. They did not need many grams for the “evidence”.

What ever Iran or Syria would say about the nuclear issues isn’t enough for US/Israel so they have no strategy to win the debate. But it not so well known that the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) supports Iran’s nuclear rights. That is 118 UN member nations. Those who oppose the rights are countries which have presently a nuclear material monopoly or are “demanded” to oppose.

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March 4th, 2010, 11:24 pm

 

26. Akbar Palace said:

Those who oppose the rights are countries which have presently a nuclear material monopoly or are “demanded” to oppose.

Sim,

The use of nuclear energy is not a right. It is a privledge that has to be earned. Hence the UN, the IAEA, and the NPT which Iran signed.

Therefore, those “countries which have presently a nuclear material monopoly” are not:

1.) Threatening other countries and the West.

2.) Not arming and training terrorist organizations and governments.

That may not matter to you, but it matters to most countries who are in range of Iranian ballistic missiles, including the Gulf states. No one shed a tear when Syria’s reactor was destroyed, and I doubt many will care if and when any Iranian nuclear installation is destroyed as well.

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March 5th, 2010, 11:52 am

 

27. Shai said:

Simo,

I’m not arguing the case, whether Syria’s installation was indeed designed to enrich uranium, or not. I’m simply suggesting that by not only denying this, but indeed speculating that Israel may have “dropped” uranium all around, Syria is probably doing itself a disservice. If by developing certain capabilities Syria hopes to deter Israel (or to encourage her to give up the Golan peacefully), then it seems far more effective to me that Syria should opt to maintain nuclear ambiguity, rather than denial. Israel has adopted this “strategy” (compliments of Shimon Peres), and it has always worked quite well for her. If Israelis hear Assad saying “we don’t have nuclear aspirations”, they’ll distrust him. I imagine most others will as well (in light of the apparent evidence). But if he said “Syria will not be the first to introduce nuclear weapons to the ME”, no one will distrust him, but most will fear him.

And perhaps fear him enough, to make peace with Syria.

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March 5th, 2010, 8:10 pm

 

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