Could the US be Planning Covert Action in Lebanon and beyond?

Could the US be Planning Covert Action in Lebanon and beyond? Some fanciful speculation.

Read the leaked story from Swoop copied below. In effect it suggests that Elliot Abrams and associates at the NSC have been working with Bandar bin Sultan on a covert action operation involving support to paramilitary rivals of Hizballah in Lebanon, with Israeli foreknowledge and approval.  The core of the story is in line with recent speculations I have been engaged in with some Middle East insiders. The speculation goes something like this: The NSC diehards and Bandar (with Israeli coordination) have been working on a covert action program, the purpose of which is to strike back at Iran through surrogates, with the arrangements made in such a way as to obviate the need for a Presidential Covert Action Finding, which in today's Washington could not be kept secret. The Saudis would play the role of paymasters and prospective unindicted co-conspirators in case the operation is exposed (which seems to be the likely outcome). The leaking of the Syria MEPI money story to Time Magazine and this story to Swoop suggest some Washington insiders are worried that Cheney and the NSC are up to a hairball scheme which would only sink the US into further Middle East troubles.

Here is the story leaked to a Swoop reporter.

Iraq and the Wider Middle East: The Administration’s Counter Attack
Published on: December 22nd 2006 13:14:58, in Swoop

During his current consultations on the new strategy for Iraq, President Bush has told those advising him that he is not interested in any proposals that do not involve “success.” “Anyone who does not believe in victory should leave the room right now,” was how he began one consultation session. Top National Security Council officials are describing the Iraq Study Group as “discredited” and “dead and buried.”  Instead a new policy is taking shape. Based on recent discussions between former Saudi Ambassador to Washington Prince Bandar bin Sultan and NSC Middle East Director Elliott Abrams, this policy foresees a central role for Saudi Arabia as a supplier of money and weapons to local conflicts involving Iranian surrogates. This is already happening in Lebanon, where anti-Hezbollah groups are receiving substantial Saudi help. Israeli intelligence officials are also encouraging these moves. “What we are seeing here,” a second NSC official commented, “s the Administration’s counter-attack to the ISG. Bush wants to negotiate from strength not weakness. He is trying to create new facts on the ground. This is an ambitious strategy. If it works, it allows us to recover much of the ground that Iraq has cost us. The opposite is also true. This strategy could double our losses. The key point here is that the Administration is still playing for a win in the Middle East. It is not leaving quietly.

It is too early to make predictions, but this could be another Iran Contra – a deliberate attempt to circumvent legal procedures for Covert Action.

There are a number of reasons to believe that President Bush and the Security Council are preparing covert action in Lebanon in order to regain the offensive in the Middle East.

The sudden unannounced departure of Saudi Ambassador Prince Turki suggests that Saudi Arabia will be the financier of this operation. Prince Bandar bin Sultan's return to Washington in the form of his young protégé, Adel al-Jubeir. Polished and American-educated, Mr. Jubeir, 44, once worked for Prince Bandar when he was ambassador to Washington. Over the past few months, we know that Prince Bandar has been visiting Washington frequently, staying at the Hay Adams Hotel and visiting people at the White House.  He was not notifying Prince Turki of these visits, which has been a flagrant and insulting breach of diplomatic protocol, to say nothing of its personal discourtesy to his own brother-in-law. 

Another curiosity has been the repeated rumors of a meeting between Bandar and some unidentified Israelis, time and place unspecified. (The strongest rumor was that one meeting took place in Amman last summer.) The rumors have been persistent, and deserve some credence.

Addendum: Dec. 24, 2006: Some of the post has been taken down for re-editing.

Comments (86)


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51. t_desco said:

“In his secret visits, Bandar increasingly pressed the Bush administration not to deal with Iran — and, instead, to organize joint efforts to counter Iran’s growing influence in the Middle East, such as in Lebanon, said sources close to the royal family. The new model would be based roughly on the kind of joint U.S.-Saudi cooperation that assisted anti-Soviet forces during Moscow’s 1979-1989 occupation of Afghanistan, the sources said.

Washington and Riyadh are already planning a major aid and military training package for the beleaguered Lebanese government of Prime Minister Fouad Siniora, whose government is besieged by thousands of supporters of Iranian-backed Hezbollah.”
WP

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December 23rd, 2006, 11:06 am

 

52. Dubai Jazz said:

Sabra and Shatila massacre:
“Ariel Sharon and Rafael Eitan then invited Lebanese Phalangist militia units to enter the Sabra and Shatila refugee camps to clean out the PLO fighters. Under the Israeli plan, Israeli soldiers would control the perimeters of the refugee camps and provide logistical support while the Phalangists would enter the camps, find the PLO fighters and hand them over to Israeli forces.”
“For the next 36 to 48 hours, the Phalangists massacred the inhabitants of the refugee camps, while the Israeli military guarded the exits and allegedly continued to provide flares by night.”
Source:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sabra_and_Shatila_massacre#Events

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December 23rd, 2006, 11:50 am

 

53. ghassan said:

It looks like some prefer to talk about old history rather than talking about the current situation!

History: Assad gangs killed more than 20,000 SYRIANS in Hamaa!

Current: Assad is conducting a cultural terrorism when he jails anyone who disagree with him. How many political prisoners (Syrian, Lebanese and Palestinian) are in Syrian jails?

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December 23rd, 2006, 1:21 pm

 

54. Ford Prefect said:

Alex, Dubai, and Innocent_Criminal, well said. You keep this blog alive and worth reading. Thanks!

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December 23rd, 2006, 2:51 pm

 

55. Ford Prefect said:

MSK,
I am sorry,but can you please enlighten us when was the last time a true census was taken in Lebanon, so that the Alawite received two seats?

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December 23rd, 2006, 3:11 pm

 

56. simohurtta said:

MSK

It hardly need proving of “timing” if in a terrorist act which happened ten year ago, the judge decides wast compensations just when the final episode of UN sanctions is happening. Certainly US court system has had time to make this decision long time ago. Google shows that this “Iran behind” claim has been mentioned long time in US media and 911 commission also mentioned it (by linking Osama bin Laden and Al Qaida to this incident).

If you claim that there is no “timing” behind the judges decision I would be grateful of a link which would explain that the decision could not have been made lets say one year ago.

My opinion is that the timing is suspicious. You obviously think that it is normal that US court system makes these kind of quarter billion “Christmas present” decisions just now. We have some difference in our opinions.

You question of Palestinians is “easy”.
1) the occupation force / Iraqi government are responsible of the people on their area. Let USA and Iraq pay for the up keeping of Palestinians. Why should Syria pay? She already has enough Palestinian refugees.
2) The home country of Palestinians is Palestine, which makes it an Israeli “problem” to take them.
3) Israel and USA accuse constantly Syria for harbouring Palestinian terrorists. Now Syria shows that she doesn’t want to harbour more potential “terrorists”.
Seriously speaking naturally the poor Palestinian refugees are in middle of a political battle. Foremost they are a US/Iraqi and Israeli problem. Israel could show it humanity and inform Syria that the Iraqi Palestinians can come to their home country (which is not Syria) and pay of for the transport. The problem would be solved in a day.

Interesting news:
U.S. BLOCKS ARMS, TECHNOLOGY TO ISRAEL
http://www.menewsline.com/stories/2006/december/12_24_3.html

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December 23rd, 2006, 3:16 pm

 

57. Anonymous said:

TO FORD EXPERT
THIS IS SYRIA TODAY
http://www.syria-news.com/readnews.php?sy_seq=44719

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December 23rd, 2006, 3:40 pm

 

58. MSK said:

Dear fellow hitchhiker,

If you’d followed the link to Aqoul, you’d’ve realized that my answer was pure & utter sarcasm.

Dear Simohurtta,

I didn’t say that there is no link. I said that if you make an allegation, you better show proof. All you have is circumstance.

As for the Palestinians – why does Syria make a distinction between Palestinians coming from Iraq and Iraqis coming from Iraq?

And could you please adress the actual issue and not divert everything down to the “Yes, Arab country X is bad, but Israel/USA/West are even worse”?

Thank you.

–MSK

http://www.aqoul.com

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December 23rd, 2006, 4:17 pm

 

59. ghassan said:

FORD PREFECT,
There was no census but the Syrian regime forced the Lebanese to have one Alawite as a member of the Parliamant and one member for a “minority”. Sure the minority selected was Alawite!

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December 23rd, 2006, 4:20 pm

 

60. simohurtta said:

As for the Palestinians – why does Syria make a distinction between Palestinians coming from Iraq and Iraqis coming from Iraq?

As said Syria has no responsibility of these Palestinians. By not allowing the Palestinians to enter Syria sends a clear message to USA / Israel that they are your problem. It is clear rational political decision. Israel can solve the problem in one “hour” and let the Palestinians come to their home “country”.

Why do you MSK demand humanism from Syria but not from Israel? Syria has already given a temporary home for hundreds of thousands Palestinians (before) and Iraqis (before and now). Funny but true USA and Israel have blamed Syria for that.

And could you please adress the actual issue and not divert everything down to the “Yes, Arab country X is bad, but Israel/USA/West are even worse”?

The actual issue which is what? USA and Israel are behind much of the chaos and misery what happens in Middle East. Not even MSK’s can’t deny it. The Arab countries X did not create the Palestine problem nor create the situation in Iraq which reflects to all Middle East.

As an European Christian I see it that the problems in Middle East would be much smaller if Israel in reality would solve the Palestinian problem by going back to 1967 borders and USA would admit that it has not the needed skills to operate as the “world police”. Then the “bad Arab countries” could more easier to develop in a more democratic direction. And that development should be decided by the local people and not by some few Quislings living in the West.

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December 24th, 2006, 4:36 am

 

61. Dubai Jazz said:

SIMOHURRTA said:
“And that development should be decided by the local people and not by some few Quislings living in the West.”
I reckon, neither democracy nor development can be an imported merchandise.
Well said mate…

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December 24th, 2006, 4:50 am

 

62. Akbar Palace said:

simohurtta said: (December 24th, 2006, 4:36 am / #)

“Israel can solve the problem in one “hour” and let the Palestinians come to their home “country””

Can you prove it? maybe we should ask Syria to allow the Kurds to go back to their “home country” as well, in Qamishli. And The Armenians too, to “Aleppo”. Why is Syria denying those who owned properties in Aleppo and Qamishli the right to their homes?. And I realize this is not sounding too convincing. I’m actualy Alex, attempting a bad imitation of Akbar Palace.

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December 24th, 2006, 5:29 am

 

63. Akbar Palace said:

simohurtta said:

“The actual issue which is what? USA and Israel are behind much of the chaos and misery what happens in Middle East. Not even MSK’s can’t deny it. The Arab countries X did not create the Palestine problem nor create the situation in Iraq which reflects to all Middle East.”

The USA and Israel did not create the Iran-Iraq War, did not destroy Hama, did not take over Kuwait, did not start the Lebenese Civil war, did not reject the ’47 partition plan, did not invade palestine in ’48, did not throw out UN peacekeepers from the Sinai in ’67, and did not start the Yom Kippur War.

I guess what I’m saying is the Arabs are behind much of the chaos and misery what happens in Middle East, including their support of terrorism.

“As an European Christian I see it that the problems in Middle East would be much smaller if Israel in reality would solve the Palestinian problem by going back to 1967 borders and USA would admit that it has not the needed skills to operate as the “world police”. Then the “bad Arab countries” could more easier to develop in a more democratic direction. And that development should be decided by the local people and not by some few Quislings living in the West.”

If the “Palestinian problem” is solved, there will still be plenty of violence in the Middle East, and there will still be a huge lack of democracy there as well.

Time to seek new excuses.

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December 24th, 2006, 7:42 am

 

64. annie said:

Ghassan aka Moshe asks:”How many political prisoners (Syrian, Lebanese and Palestinian) are in Syrian jails?”

Even if one is one too many : fewer than the number of Palestinians in Israeli jails . Why don’t you clean your own back yard ?

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December 24th, 2006, 7:47 am

 

65. Dubai Jazz said:

Annie, what you said is absolutely true.
Further more, I am sure that if P.M. Al Maliki of the ‘democratic’ Iraq was in a position to throw 10,000 Iraqis in jail, in return for guaranteed stability, he would have done it without hesitation.

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December 24th, 2006, 8:21 am

 

66. Antoun said:

Omari,

What makes you think a NSF-Muslim Brotherhood Syria would be any less corrupt, or less brutal?

Syria needs PROGRESSIVE change, not regressive change.

Khaddam has an incredibly brutal past, and I don’t need to highlight the behaviour of Sunni Islamists.

NSF is just the US/Israel/Saudi/Egypt’s attempt to replace an anti-Israeli dictatorship with another puppet dictatorship.

As for popular opinion, whoever said Syria’s Sunnis would turn into Israeli agents like the Sunnis of Lebanon have?

As far as I’m aware, the majority of the Sunni street in the Arab world are more supportive of the “Shia” bravery of Hizballah than their own corrupt leaders who are trying to forment Sunni-Shiite strife throughout the region.

I would seldom claim that the Arabs support Sunni-Shiite strife, but no doubt such divisions are being forced upon by the West, Israel and the “traditional” Sunni rulers such as the Saudis.

There’s no doubt also that Iran seeks to revive the Shiites in the Arab world, but how the Sunnis respond will determine which way the Arab Shiites will sway.

Instead of moving to alienate and combat Arab Shiites, the Sunni leadership should be doing more to include Shiites in the “Arab” society by providing them with more rights and putting an end to centuries-long persecution.

I fear many Westerners have this failed perception that all Arab Muslims, Shiite and Sunni, are just a bunch of fanatics who toe the line of fundamentalist sectarianism. It’s important to acknowledge that the prevailing ideology before Islamism was nationalism. While today Islamist groups have grown in support, that is not to discard the vast majority of Arabs who still maintain “nationalist” and “Arab brotherhood” sentiments, which was just so recently expressed throughout the Lebanon War.

The regimes of Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Jordan do not represent the opinions of their people, nor the opinions of the Sunni street.

I would recommend all not to foolishly believe Saudi money will turn the Sunnis of Syria into stooges of the US.

As for reform in Syria, no doubt this is desperately needed.

Iraq was a complete failure and a great example of an attempt to bring about “reform and change” to an Arab state. Without solid institutions, or solid public support in place to prevent the state from falling apart, there is no chance of reform.

Progressive reform is an absolute necessity for Syria. It is true Syria wields a lot of “natural” influences to its neighbours, primarily Lebanon. Therefore, any positive change in Syria can only bring about a positive domino effect throughout the region.

This is also to say that any move to the contrary would have as much a negative impact on the region. The Muslim Brotherhood and Saudi/US-backed Khaddam are a step backward.

For those of us from the Middle East, we have to realise and understand that the Western powers do not and will never allow the Arabs to prosper. Maintaining regressive, tribal societies serve the West’s purposes. The more divided and “backward” we are, the easy it is for them to manipulate and control our region.

A prosperous Arab world able to call its own shots poses a direct threat to the West. Since Islam’s inception, there has been an empire present in the Middle East that has constantly haunted the West. After the defeat of the Ottomans, the West took the opportunity to weaken the Arab and Islamic world, and they intend to maintain this state today.

The West may represent democratic and progressive societies, but that is not to say this is their wish for the rest of the world.

Therefore, endorsing Western-backed opposition groups may not bring about the results one would expect.

Change needs to come from within. Progressive values and reforms need to be taught from within. Sure it’s difficult to do such things when every Arab regime throws you in prison for expressing your thought, but that’s to say there is no way out.

France has a bloody history, but if there were no revolts against its leadership, would France be the nation it is today?

The Arab people need to take such risks, depose of their leadership, and bring about a revolution that will change the face of the Arabs from within.

The Americans tried to impose “their” revolution, it didn’t work. Revolutions cannot be imposed, they can only be taught.

There is a silent Arab majority that has yet to have its voice heard.

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December 24th, 2006, 10:53 am

 
 

68. youngSyria said:

Antoun:
well said.
NSF is indeed a step backward, and i cant imagine any syrian supporting it. the mentality of ” this SH** smells much better than the other one ” is wrong because it’s all sh** .. away from reality ,I cant imagine how could NSF be the best “thing” that Syrian people come up with…!I thought that I belong to a nation full of intellectuals and civilized people :( .

guys.. there are lots of smart people over here ..can anyone start fantasizing about the scenario that can bring positive change to Syria (since this blog entry is about such things)

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December 24th, 2006, 12:05 pm

 

69. t_desco said:

For the record:

“The DGSE report also mentions an al-Qaeda project for a ‘wave of attacks in an unidentified European country planned and run from Syria and Iraq‘. The period of highest risk is said to be from September 2006 to April 2007.”
The Observer

“Second projet évoqué : « une vague d’attentats suicides dans un pays européen non identifié dont les planificateurs sont principalement installés en Syrie et en Irak ».

Selon « certains renseignements », précise la note sans développer, naturellement, sur leur origine, « il pourrait s’agir de la France ». Les kamikazes seraient recrutés au « Proche et Moyen-Orient ». Le projet est qualifié de « menace dite d’automne », en référence probable aux précédents projets réalisés ou avortés des terroristes islamistes. La note précise que la période dangereuse, au cours de laquelle ces projets pourraient être mis à exécution, s’est ouverte en septembre 2006 et qu’elle s’achèvera en avril 2007.”
Le Figaro

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December 24th, 2006, 12:23 pm

 

70. Dubai Jazz said:

T_DESCO;
“DGSE”? is that the foreign intelligence agency of France?

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December 24th, 2006, 12:30 pm

 

71. Dubai Jazz said:

Young Syria, I agree with you and with Antoun; the Khaddam clique are bankrubt in terms of popularity and morals. (Kart Ma7rook)

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December 24th, 2006, 12:34 pm

 

72. t_desco said:

Yes, Dubai Jazz.

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December 24th, 2006, 12:40 pm

 

73. youngSyria said:

Dubai Jazz ,
as much as I don’t trust Khaddam , I’m worried about MB much more..Khaddam would die ,MB wont. and their massage is attractive much more than before. Islamists are the real threat and one of the main obstacles in the way of ME development.

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December 24th, 2006, 1:21 pm

 

74. Ghassan said:

Any regime is better than the gang of Asad! We Syrians should about our country and the future of our children! If a new government is corrupt, then we change it again! Hoping that we will have a democratic country with an election every 3-5 years!

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December 24th, 2006, 1:45 pm

 

75. Ford Prefect said:

Ghassan, I fully agree with your notion about the Asad gang being corrupt to the lowest levels – including many more gangs representing a corss-section of the Syrian fabbric. I also agree with looking out for alternatives to ensure a secure future for our children. But let’s be careful – the Syrian people do not yet have a good record of managing change as an independent nation. Change introduces elements of unpredicable results no matter how planned the change is – especially if it was formulated at the American Enterprise Institute. That is why Syrians, thorughout their history, have resisted change until it was organically aged and matured. All we need is time and not Khaddam and Ghadry.

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December 24th, 2006, 3:34 pm

 

76. Ford Prefect said:

Anton, excellent posting. Thanks and fully agree!

MSK, Thanks for being a fellow hitchhicker and a good sport! I enjoy your postings and fully appreciate your intellects.

Everyone else, Merry Christmas, Happy New Year, and Happy Eid (in chronological order!) Syria loves you all.

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December 24th, 2006, 3:46 pm

 

77. Ahamad said:

I support the NSF
Asad, put him self down very down. The international community is after him.

I dont want a President like him for MY SYRIAN ARAB REPUBLIC.

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December 24th, 2006, 4:15 pm

 

78. majedkhaldoun said:

We ended the year with major crisis in Lebanon,war between Ethiopia and Somalia,Iraq deteriorated,and in civil war,Hamas and fatah fighting and Isreal laying siege on the palastinian,Syria is isolated and the relations between KSA and Syria is close to undeclared war,Egypt gave up on improving the conditions of Arab world, UN has sanctions on Iran, who is enriching Uranuim.
could it go worse ? the answer is yes
could things get better in 2007? the answer is probably not.
what is the more likely things to happen in 2007?
everyone has different expectations,I suspect that brammertz report is going to accuse Syria of Killing Harriri,Brammertz gained the respect of even his enemies,being meticulous,and analizing every point,Syria is going to be wild,but after anger,more likely some military officers will revolt against Asad,and change in regime is likely,this may solve the problems in lebanon,the arab summet,scheduled for march will be postponed,US and Isreal will attack Iran,price of OIL will reach $100.
In USA , more attack on Musslems,the neo-cons are boiling.
I am interested in knowing others expectation.

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December 24th, 2006, 4:18 pm

 

79. Alex said:

Majed, there is too much chaos for any of us to have realistic expectations.

But if you want some exciting expectations: Terje Roed Larsen told one of his friends over dinner (in private) that he expects world war III this year.

Happy 2007

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December 24th, 2006, 5:37 pm

 

80. youngSyria said:

Happy New Year ,Merry Christmas and Happy Eid..
and “kel world war wo ento salmeen”… ;)

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December 24th, 2006, 7:22 pm

 

81. Najib Omari said:

Antoun & YOUNGSYRIA

With all due respect but I totally disagree with both of you. Whether NSF or their founders are the best to lead or not is not the issue. The People of Syria will decide this freely. Is Mr. Prody or Mr. Bush are the best leaders for their countries. Their people democratically elected them and they have to serve them. NSF will facilitate bringing democracy back to Syria and then the Syrian people will freely elect whomever they want to lead them. Is the NSF the best people to bring democracy back to Syria? Maybe yes or maybe not but they are the best we have so far. This should not limit other groups to fight for the same cause that we ALL Syrian looks for very desperately. NSF did not in any way try to exclude other groups from that goal. Lets whomever capable of help to so PLEASE. NSF leaders have the experience, connections, & exposure to do a great job. God be with them for what they are doing for Syria.
As for Antoun, I definitely do not agree with you that Mr. Khaddam has an incredibly brutal past. When, where and how? He has never assumed a military or a security post. How can he do such a thing? Trust me that whatever you hear rumors about with Mr. Khaddam are lies that the corrupt regime is spreading to protect himself from the NSF

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December 24th, 2006, 7:44 pm

 

82. norman said:

Israel will only give back the Golan Hights if it costs them to keep it so as long as Syria is not trying to get it back they will be staying and enjoying the wine .

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December 26th, 2006, 3:58 am

 

83. MSK said:

Dear Simohurtta,

yet again, you seem to not get my question. I was asking what makes those Palestinians coming from Iraq any different from the Iraqis coming from Iraq or the Lebanese (this summer) coming from Lebanon.

Your argument – that Syria isn’t responsible for the Palestinians – is as true for those latter 2 groups. I was wondering why Syria DOES take in over one million Iraqis from a conflict for which it (according to its own statements) isn’t reponsible and took in tens of thousands of Lebanese during a conflict for which again (according to its own statements) it isn’t responsible, but won’t let a few hundred Palestinians in.

THAT was (& remains to be) my question. It was not about responsibility but about the reasoning for the different treatment of Palestinians vs. Iraqis/Lebanese.

It’s a technical question on a detail of Syrian government policy. Maybe the Syrian gov’t gave out a statement where it outlined the reasons – and I’d be very appreciative if someone on this list would be so kind and post it or link to it.

That’s it.

Of course, you can go back to the mudsling fest … but quite frankly, it does get boring after a while.

–MSK

http://www.aqoul.com

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December 26th, 2006, 12:10 pm

 

84. DUBAI JAZZ said:

Hi Josh, there is something wrong with the commentary tool box of the newest post.
Season Greetings!

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December 26th, 2006, 4:30 pm

 

85. Miss. T. said:

Josh,

The Swoop piece refers to Suadi Arabia arming “groups” to fight Iran surrogates. That is indeed already happening and it is not a paramilitary group. Money is pouring through UAE to Lebanon’s rehashed Interntal Security Forces.

See here.

Apologies from an irregular visitor if this has already been a topic of discussion somewhere else.

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December 29th, 2006, 7:44 pm

 

86. SyriaComment » Archives » US Arms Surrogates said:

[...] More disturbing signs that Eliot Abrams and company at the NSA are pushing ahead with a new policy to build up surrogate allies to combat the surrogates of Iran and Syria, such as Hizballah and Hamas. Perhaps 2007 will bring us little proxy wars across the region? Here are two articles explaining how may work. For more on this see previous posts, here and here. [...]

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January 3rd, 2007, 4:20 am

 

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