Posted by Joshua on Monday, March 1st, 2010
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
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
“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). ……