Counting Lebanon’s Shiites as Slaves: Why the Lebanon Deal is Obstructed

The isolation of Syria appears to be breaking as Damascus seeks deals with the Saudis and the Lebanese, writes Nicholas Blanford. EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana will travel to Syria soon, marking a resumption of high-level contacts between Damascus and the Europeans. The prospect of a thaw with Syria has caused howls of protest from Lebanon's obstructionists who continue to believe that America's plan for changing the Middle East is working. They call on the US to ratchet up military and economic pressure on Iran and Syria in the benighted belief that reform of the Greater Middle East is on the horizon. Michael Young insists in the Daily Star that Syria is on the verge of breaking. He believes Syria will change its policies and fall in line with the US. This is the identical line that Junblatt and Raghida Dergham have been trumpeting.

The biggest assets of the obstructionists is US Ambassador Feltman, who has been working assiduously to keep a deal from being struck in Lebanon. He refuses to allow the Syrians satisfaction on their demand that the establishment of the International tribunal be delayed until after a Lebanon deal is clinched. His fear is that if the Lebanese opposition gets a 19+11 cabinet sharing formula before the Lebanese government signs over permission for an international tribunal, it will never get established. To avoid such a prospect, the US is willing to sacrifice Lebanon's future and any prospects of economic growth for the country. Stagnation and paralysis will continue to be the order of the day in Lebanon. With a deal, all the participants gain. Feltman has a most unusual arrangement with Secretary Rice; he has a weekly video conference with the Secretary  – access of the like only the Ambassador to Iraq can boast. Colonel Pat Lang writes:

Everyone was happy, even giddy about the prospect of a typically muddled but non-violent solution to the impasse in Lebanon.  Today the leaders say "not so fast."  What happened overnight?  Was it Feltman that happened?  Was it Rice? Was it our unending malicious meddling in other people's business? 

Michael Young is particularly outraged because his good friend David Ignatius recommended negotiating with Syria and Iran. Ignatius writes that a senior Bush administration official explained: "We think our Iraq strategy is consistent with Baker-Hamilton. We want to get to the same place, but not on the same time-line." Ignatius proposes that Baker be appointed to begin negotiations with Syria and Israel because the administration's hard line tactics have failed. Ignatius does not believe that Iran and Syria are about to crack.

Martin Kramer supports Michael Young in his belief that the Shiite Crescent is the true enemy of the West and liberty in the region, but his animus is directed at the Iranian end of the crescent, which most directly threatens Israel, and not the Syrian end. In a MERIA article, A New Middle East: Islamism and Terrorism, he argues that only by destroying Iran's nuclear ambitions and arrogant attempts to exploit the Palestinian and Lebanese problems can the West bring peace to the region.

The only problem with this analysis is that it is has led to a long list of failures and the needless death of thousands of Iraqis and Americans. Michael Young recommended the invasion of Iraq in 2003, claiming that the "consociational" Lebanese model of government that has served his country so well would bring peace and happiness to Iraq and quickly be replicated throughout the Middle East. It has taken the West four long years of watching Iraq descend into ferocious civil war to come to grips with the short comings of this analysis. In 2006, Young advocated keeping the incompetent Lahoud as president of Lebanon rather than giving Michel Aoun a chance at elections. (Aoun was the most popular candidate in Lebanon at the time.) This obstructionism led directly to the summer war between Lebanon and Israel. With no prospects of a non-violent adjustment to Lebanon's lopsided power-sharing formula, Hizbullah and its opposition allies fell back on the old formula of "resistance" and demonstrations. When war broke out, Young began excitedly prognosticating that Israel could break Hizbullah and international forces disarm it. He insisted the Shiite party did not represent authentic Lebanese demands, being merely a creature of Iran and Syria. Again, Young's dreams didn't materialize. Instead, the inconclusive war led to paralysis in Lebanon as Hizbullah and the Siniora government stand face to face, each unwilling to bow to the demands of the other. Rather that admit that he has misjudged the opposition or the ability of American and Israeli power to reshape the hearts and minds of Middle Easterners, Young continues to insist that Syria and Hizbullah will buckle if only the US will inflict a bit more pain on them.

Rather than come to grips with the real flaws of Lebanon's democracy, Michael Young, like many other Lebanese, believes that the use of force by foreign powers can preserve the skewed status quo in Lebanon. He wants international forces to disarm the Shiites in the South, and the US to inflict more pain on Syria. The Lebanese obstructionist solution is to import violence into Lebanon and the region. They refuse to allow a "typically muddled but non-violent solution to the impasse." Importing foreign armies to keep the Shiites in their place will only lead to further war and extremism on both sides.

What is wrong with the "consociational" system that is held up as the epitome of Lebanese democracy and power-sharing? Quite simply, it treats Shiites like slaves. In pre-civil war America, black slaves were counted as half a white person. In Lebanon they are accorded the same political weight. Although Shiites are estimated to make up some 40% of the population, the Taif Accords, Lebanon's constitutional arrangement, permit the Shiites only 22% of the seats in parliament.

The defenders of Taif will scoff at this analogy between Lebanese Shiites and American slaves. They will say, "But we don't treat Shiites as slaves. They can vote and they are allocated the third most powerful political office in the land: the President of the Parliament. All true, I admit, but this doesn't obscure the simple fact that Shiites are accorded only half the political worth of other human beings in Lebanon.

Hizbollah and its opposition allies have repeatedly stated that they have no intention of challenging the Taif Accords. Instead they ask for a greater number of cabinet posts. They make these diminutive demands in order not to appear as revolutionaries. They do not want to threaten the Sunnis, who have most to lose from a more equitable power-sharing formula. What the obstructionists fear, however, is that if the governing coalition makes one concession, it will lead to others. It is a slippery slop. If they concede more cabinet positions to the Shiites today, the sons of Hussein will call for a proper census and a reconsideration of Taif tomorrow.

In a recent PBS News Hour with Jim Lehrer during which I debated opposite the al-Arabiya reporter Hisham Milhem, I was left speechless when he insisted that the "Shiites wanted to turn Beirut into a Tehran on the Mediterranean." I was not prepared for such super-heated rhetoric. The only way to counter such fear mongering, however, is to shoot back that Beirut today is Mecca on the Mediterranean. Yes, Club Mec. Or, perhaps a cross between the Vatican and Mecca on the Med. Sunnis and Christians enjoy the lion's share of power. The mellifluous and jolly sounding term "consociationalism" cannot hide the ugly fact that Lebanon is a religious state, in which Sunnis and Christians are privileged, politically and economically.

Undoing the mutual fear and resentment which divide the opposition from the governing coalition will not be easy, but obstructing the kind of deal that the Saudis and Egyptians are trying to broker is not the answer. It will invite further violence. Young rightly fears for Lebanon's sovereignty, but only concord among Lebanese can act as proof against foreign influence. Young is one of the smartest hawks in the Lebanese firmament and he has written thoughtfully on the need for a more equitable power-sharing in Lebanon. Now is the time to do it.

At the same time, Michael Young once said to me that if Taif were rewritten and Christians were allocated less than their present 50% share of Parliamentary seats, he might be forced to leave Lebanon. That is a sad comment on the state of Lebanon's consociational system and the prospects for a political deal in the immediate future.

If the United States is sincere about promoting democracy in the most democratic state in the Arab East, burnishing its reputation for justice, and promoting freedom, it cannot stand on the side of counting Shiites as slaves. If any nation in the Middle East has a chance to point the way toward a more tolerant and democratic future, it is Lebanon.

Comments (147)

EHSANI2 said:

Dr. Landis,

A provocative article to be sure.

Sects, Leaders, Kings and Presidents who grab and have monopoly over power in the Middle East will do anything to not let go (including treating certain elements in their societies as slaves or third class citizens)

March 10th, 2007, 12:48 am


Gibran said:

In a typical Landis fashion of misrepresentation, Landis states without shame:
“In 2006, Young advocated keeping the incompetent Lahoud as president of Lebanon rather than giving Michel Aoun a chance at elections. (Aoun was the most popular candidate in Lebanon at the time.) This obstructionism led directly to the summer war between Lebanon and Israel.”
Did we all forget that Nasrallah started the summer war for the expressed purpose of aiding the Hamas fight with the Israelis after Hamas abducted the Israeli soldier? And did we forget that Nasrallah instigated the war in order to serve his masters Syria and Iran? How can anyone take Landis seriously? Didn’t Nasrallah himself admitted his error? Besides what does Landis know about the political system of Lebanon except the fact that political power is shared among the major sects constituting the population of Lebanon?
Did we forget Mr. Ajami’s predictions regarding the foolishness of Nasrallah’s summer war?

Hostage to Hezbollah
Lesson for Nasrallah: “The violence done to Lebanon shall overwhelm you.”

Friday, July 21, 2006 12:01 a.m. EDT
Pity Lebanon: In a world of states, it has not had a state of its own. A garden without fences, was the way Beirut, its capital city, was once described.
A cleric by the name of Hassan Nasrallah, at the helm of the Hezbollah movement, handed Lebanon a calamity right as the summer tourist season had begun. Beirut had dug its way out of the rubble of a long war: Nasrallah plunged it into a new season of loss and ruin. He presented the country with a fait accompli: the “gift” of two Israeli soldiers kidnapped across an international frontier. Nasrallah never let the Lebanese government in on his venture. He was giddy with triumphalism and defiance when this crisis began. And men and women cooped up in the destitution of the Shiite districts of Beirut were sent out into the streets to celebrate Hezbollah’s latest deed.
It did not seem to matter to Nasrallah that the ground that would burn in Lebanon would in the main be Shiite land in the south. Nor was it of great concern to he who lives on the subsidies of the Iranian theocrats that the ordinary Lebanese would pay for his adventure. The cruel and cynical hope was that Nasrallah’s rivals would be bullied into submission and false solidarity, and that the man himself would emerge as the master of the game of Lebanon’s politics.

The hotels are full in Damascus,” read a dispatch in Beirut, as though to underline the swindle of this crisis, its bitter harvest for the Lebanese. History repeats here, endlessly it seems. There was something to Nasrallah’s conduct that recalled the performance of Gamal Abdel Nasser in the Six Day War of 1967. That leader, it should be recalled, closed the Straits of Tiran to Israeli shipping, asked for the evacuation of U.N. forces from the Sinai Peninsula– clear acts of war–but never expected the onset of war. He had only wanted the gains of war.
Nasrallah’s brazen deed was, in the man’s calculus, an invitation to an exchange of prisoners. Now, the man who triggered this crisis stands exposed as an Iranian proxy, doing the bidding of Tehran and Damascus. He had confidently asserted that “sources” in Israel had confided to Hezbollah that Israel’s government would not strike into Lebanon because Hezbollah held northern Israel hostage to its rockets, and that the demand within Israel for an exchange of prisoners would force Ehud Olmert’s hand. The time of the “warrior class” in Israel had passed, Nasrallah believed, and this new Israeli government, without decorated soldiers and former generals, was likely to capitulate. Now this knowingness has been exposed for the delusion it was.
There was steel in Israel and determination to be done with Hezbollah’s presence on the border. States can’t–and don’t–share borders with militias. That abnormality on the Lebanese-Israeli border is sure not to survive this crisis. One way or other, the Lebanese army will have to take up its duty on the Lebanon-Israel border. By the time the dust settles, this terrible summer storm will have done what the Lebanese government had been unable to do on its own.
In his cocoon, Nasrallah did not accurately judge the temper of his own country to begin with. No less a figure than the hereditary leader of the Druze community, Walid Jumblatt, was quick to break with Hezbollah, and to read this crisis as it really is. “We had been trying for months,” he said, “to spring our country out of the Syrian-Iranian trap, and here we are forcibly pushed into that trap again.” In this two-front war–Hamas’s in the Palestinian territories and Hezbollah’s in Lebanon–Mr. Jumblatt saw the fine hand of the Syrian regime attempting to retrieve its dominion in Lebanon, and to forestall the international investigations of its reign of terror in that country.
In the same vein, a broad coalition of anti-Syrian Lebanese political parties and associations that had come together in the aftermath of the assassination last year of former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri, called into question the very rationale of this operation, and its timing: “Is it Lebanon’s fate to endure the killing of its citizens and the destruction of its economy and its tourist season in order to serve the interests of empty nationalist slogans?”
In retrospect, Ehud Barak’s withdrawal from Israel’s “security zone” in southern Lebanon in the summer of 2000 had robbed Hezbollah of its raison d’être. It was said that the “resistance movement” would need a “soft landing” and a transition to a normal political world. But the imperative of disarming Hezbollah and pulling it back from the international border with Israel was never put into effect. Hezbollah found its way into Parliament, was given two cabinet posts in the most recent government, and branched out into real estate ventures; but the heavy military infrastructure survived and, indeed, was to be augmented in the years that followed Israel’s withdrawal from southern Lebanon.
Syria gave Hezbollah cover, for that movement did much of Syria’s bidding in Lebanon. A pretext was found to justify the odd spectacle of an armed militia in a time of peace: Hezbollah now claimed that the battle had not ended, and that a barren piece of ground, the Shebaa Farms, was still in Israel’s possession. By a twist of fate, that land had been in Syrian hands when they fell to Israel in the Six Day War. No great emotions stirred in Lebanon about the Shebaa Farms. It was easy to see through the pretense of Hezbollah. The state within a state was an end in itself.
For Hezbollah, the moment of truth would come when Syria made a sudden, unexpected retreat out of Lebanon in the spring of 2005. An edifice that had the look of permanence was undone with stunning speed as the Syrians raced to the border, convinced that the Pax Americana might topple the regime in Damascus, as it had Saddam Hussein’s tyranny. For Hezbollah’s leaders, this would be a time of great uncertainty. The “Cedar Revolution” that had helped bring an end to Syrian occupation appeared to be a genuine middle-class phenomenon, hip and stylish, made up in the main of Sunni Muslims, Druze and Christians. Great numbers of propertied and worldly Shiites found their way to that Cedar Revolution, but Hezbollah’s ranks were filled with the excluded, newly urbanized people from villages in the south and the Bekaa Valley.
Hassan Nasrallah had found a measure of respectability in the Lebanese political system; he was a good orator and, in the way of Levantine politics, a skilled tactician. A seam was stitched between the jihadist origins of Hezbollah and the pursuit of political power in a country as subtle and complex and pluralistic as Lebanon. There would be no Islamic republic in Lebanon, and the theory of Hezbollah appeared to bend to Lebanon’s realities.
But Nasrallah was in the end just the Lebanese face of Hezbollah. Those who know the workings of the movement with intimacy believe that operational control is in the hands of Iranian agents, that Hezbollah is fully subservient to the Iranian Revolutionary Guard. The hope that Hezbollah would “go Lebanese,” and “go local,” was thus set aside. At any rate, Nasrallah and his lieutenants did not trust the new Lebanon to make the ample room that a country at war–and within the orbit of Syria–had hitherto made for them in the time of disorder. Though the Shiites had risen in Lebanon, there remains in them a great deal of brittleness, a sense of social inadequacy relative to the more privileged communities in the country.
That raid into Israel, the capture of the two Israeli soldiers, was a deliberate attack against the new Lebanon. That the crisis would play out when the mighty of the G-8 were assembled in Russia was a good indication of Iran’s role in this turn of events. Hassan Nasrallah had waded beyond his depth: The moment of his glory would mark what is destined to be a setback of consequence for him and for his foot soldiers. Iran’s needs had trumped Hezbollah’s more strictly Lebanese agenda.

In the normal course of things, Hezbollah’s operatives expected at least the appearance of Arab solidarity and brotherhood. And here, too, Hezbollah was to be denied.
A great diplomatic setback was handed it when Saudi Arabia shed its customary silence and reticence to condemn what it described as the “uncalculated adventures” of those in Hezbollah and Hamas who brought about this crisis. The custodians of power in Arabia noted that they had stood with the “Lebanese resistance” until the end of Israel’s occupation of southern Lebanon. But that was then, and there is a world of difference between “legitimate resistance” and “uncalculated adventures undertaken by elements within the state, and behind its back, exposing the region and its accomplishments to danger and destruction.” Gone was the standard deference to Arab solidarity.
This had little to do with the Shiism of Hezbollah, but with the Saudi dread of instability. The Saudis are heavily invested in the reconstruction and stability of Lebanon: This had been the achievement of Rafik Hariri, and it was to continue under Fouad Siniora, the incumbent prime minister, a decent Sunni technocrat who came into politics as an aide of Hariri. Untold thousands of Saudis have their summer homes and vacations in Lebanon. A memory of old Beirut in its days of glitter tugs at older Saudis. On less sentimental grounds, the Saudis have been keen to shore up Lebanon’s mercantile Sunni population against the demographic and political weight of the Shiites. Hezbollah’s unilateral decision to push Lebanon over the brink was anathema to the Saudi way.
In due course, the Saudis were joined by the Jordanians and the Egyptians. The Arab order of power would not give Nasrallah control over the great issues of regional war and peace. Nor would it give sustenance to Syria’s desire to find its way back into Lebanon’s politics. The axes of the region were laid bare: The trail runs from the southern slums of Beirut through Damascus to Tehran–with Hezbollah and its Palestinian allies in the Hamas on one side, and the conservative order of power on the other. This isn’t exactly the split between the Sunni Arab order and its Shiite challengers. (Hamas, it should be noted, is zealously Sunni.) The wellsprings of this impasse are to be found in the more prosaic impasse between order and its radical enemies.
In time, we are sure to hear from Nasrallah’s own Shiite community: There had been unease among growing numbers of educated Shiites about the political monopoly over their affairs of Hezbollah and its local allies, an unease with the zealotry and the military parades–and with the subservience to Iran. The defection will be easier now as the downtrodden of southern Lebanon take stock of the misery triggered by Nasrallah’s venture. He will need enormous Iranian treasure to repair the damage of this ill-starred endeavor.
The Shiites are Lebanon’s single largest community. There lie before them two ways: Lebanonism, an attachment to their own land, assimilation into the wider currents of their country, an acceptance of it as a place of services and trade and pluralism; or a path of belligerence, a journey on road to Damascus–and to the Iranian theocracy. By the time the guns fall silent and the Lebanese begin to dig out of the rubble, we should get an intimation of which Shiite future beckons. The Shiites can make Lebanon or they can break it. Their deliverance lies in a recognition of the truths and limitations of their country. The “holy war” they can leave to others.
There could have been another way: There could have been a sovereign state in Lebanon, and the Syrians would have let it be, and the distant Iranian state would have been a world apart. There needn’t have been a Lebanese parody of the Iranian Revolution, a “sister republic” by the Mediterranean sustained with Iranian wealth. The border between Israel and Lebanon would have been a “normal” border. (The Lebanese would settle for a border as quiet and tranquil as the one Syria has maintained with Israel for well over three decades now, with the Syrians waging proxy battles on Lebanese soil and through Lebanese satraps.)
But the Lebanese have been given to feuds among themselves, and larger players have found it easy to insert themselves into that small, fragile republic. Now the Lebanese have been given yet again a cautionary tale about what befalls lands without sovereign, responsible states of their own.

In an earlier time, three decades ago, Lebanon was made to pay for the legends of Arabism, and for the false glamour of the Palestinian “revolutionary” experiment. The country lost well over a quarter-century of its history–its best people quit it, and its modernist inheritance was brutally and steadily undermined.
Now comes this new push by Damascus and Tehran. It promises nothing save sterility and ruin. It will throw the Lebanese back onto a history whose terrible harvest is well known to them. The military performance of Hezbollah, it should be apparent by now, is not a performance of a militia; nor are unmanned drones and missiles of long range the weapons of boys of the alleyways. A formidable military structure has been put together by the Iranians in Lebanon. In a small, densely populated country that keeps and knows no secrets, Hezbollah and its Iranian handlers have been at work on this military undertaking for quite some time, under the gaze of Lebanese authorities too frightened to raise questions.
The Mediterranean vocation of Lebanon as a land of enlightenment and commerce may have had its exaggerations and pretense. But set it against the future offered Lebanon by Syria, and by Tehran’s theocrats seeking a diplomatic reprieve for themselves by setting Lebanon on fire, and Lebanon’s choice should be easy to see.
The Lebanese, though, are not masters of their own domain. They will need protection and political support; they will need to see the will and the designs of the radical axis contested by resolute American power, and by an Arab constellation of states that can convince the Shiites of Lebanon that there is a place for them in the Arab scheme of things. For a long time, the Arab states have worked through and favored the Sunni middle classes of Beirut, Sidon and Tripoli. This has made it easy for Iran–overcoming barriers of language and distance–to make its inroads into a large Shiite community awakening to a sense of power and violation. To truly turn Iran back from the Mediterranean, to check its reach into Beirut, the Arab world needs to rethink the basic compact of its communities, and those Shiite stepchildren of the Arab world will have to be brought into the fold.
Lebanon’s strength lies in its weakness, went an old maxim. And the Arab states themselves were for decades egregious in the way they treated Lebanon, shifting onto it the burden of the Palestinian fight with Israel, acquiescing in the encroachments on its sovereignty by the Palestinians and the Syrians–encroachments often subsidized with Arab money. Iran then picked up where the Arab states left off. Now that weakness of the Lebanese state has become a source of great menace to the Lebanese, and to their neighbors as well.
No one can say with confidence how this crisis will play out. There are limits on what Israel can do in Lebanon. The Israelis will not be pulled deeper into Lebanon and its villages and urban alleyways, and Israel can’t be expected to disarm Hezbollah or to find its missiles in Lebanon’s crannies. Finding the political way out, and working out a decent security arrangement on the border, will require a serious international effort and active American diplomacy. International peacekeeping forces have had a bad name, and they often deserve it. But they may be inevitable on Lebanon’s border with Israel; they may be needed to buy time for the Lebanese government to come into full sovereignty over its soil.
The Europeans claim a special affinity for Lebanon, a country of the eastern Mediterranean. This is their chance to help redeem that land, and to come to its rescue by strengthening its national army and its bureaucratic institutions. We have already seen order’s enemies play their hand. We now await the forces of order and rescue, and by all appearances a long, big struggle is playing out in Lebanon. This is from the Book of Habakkuk: “The violence done to Lebanon shall overwhelm you” (2:17). The struggles of the mighty forces of the region yet again converge on a small country that has seen more than its share of history’s heartbreak and history’s follies.
Mr. Ajami, a 2006 Bradley Prize recipient, is the Majid Khadduri Professor and director of the Middle East Studies Program at the School of Advanced International Studies at Johns Hopkins University. His most recent book, “The Foreigner’s Gift: The Americans, the Arabs and the Iraqis in Iraq,” has just been published by the Free Press. He is the author of, among others, “The Dream Palace of the Arabs: A Generation’s Odyssey” (Pantheon, 1998), and “Beirut: City of Regrets” (Norton, 1988).

March 10th, 2007, 1:12 am


G said:

I like the arithmetics, and I’m wondering, in that case, what do the Sunnis count as in Syria? Slave of slaves?!

So, to be consistent and not just a mouthpiece, you should also add this to your last paragraph, given how you’re concerned about the democratic rights of the downtrodden!

March 10th, 2007, 1:29 am


Ford Prefect said:

What do you get when Paul Wolfowitz transforms a Lebanese into a Likud Israeli at Hopkin’s nest of the neocons? Fuad Ajami.

March 10th, 2007, 1:30 am


Gibran said:

Speaking of arithmatics as G. pointed out, please check “Lebanon: Keyfacts” at:

You’ll find easy to read tabs about History, Crisis, Population, Politics, and Economy. Select the tab of interest to you.

March 10th, 2007, 1:41 am


Alex said:


Did you forget that Olmert admitted this week that Israel planned the Lebanon war few months in advance? that it was not really a reaction to Hizbolah’s kidnapping of the two soldiers?

Joshua, Bravo for being one of very few who are willing to name an American ally as an obstructionist… you know, this term is reserved for the evil guys. The others are only “moderates” and “democracy lovers”

Going back to Lebanon: I agree with Joshua about the need to give Lebanese Shia their proper share of power. There is no way around it.

But I also hope Mr. Nasrallah can agree to constitutional guarantees that make it easier for Lebanon’s more westernized Sunnis and Christians and Druze, to feel safe that he does not want to eventually convert Beirut into the “Tehran on the Mediterranean” that Hisham Melhem worried about.

March 10th, 2007, 1:51 am


Ford Prefect said:

I hate this. By the time we were all led to believe that HA has started the 2006 Summer Israeli war against Lebanon – causing Israel to dump over 3 million cluster bombs and banned chemical weapons in, of course, er, self-defense, here comes Olmert to change our perceptions again. When is this Olmert guy is going to stop contradicting the democracy lovers in Lebanon?

March 10th, 2007, 1:52 am


Alex said:


Very valid point (so unlike you!). Here are some points to consider:

1) Everyone already put the strongest spotlight on Syria’s lack of democracy without criticizing Lebanon’s current “majority” just because the first is not a US ally, and the second is a US/Saudi Ally .. so it is OK if in this article, Joshua shifts focus to talk about Lebanon … please try to enjoy it just like some of us enjoyed the million other pieces we read about the “Syrian dictator”.

2) Both political systems need to be modified and improved. The one in Syria has a different set of complications than the one in Lebanon. But both can benefit from one-man one vote coupled with guarantees that no one can force his way on others, not even the Sunni majority in Syria, and not even the future Shiite majority in Lebanon .. they will probably become the majority in another generation.

Lebanese and Syrians need to understand the difference between the rights of a majority (political or religious) and the limits of those rights …

FP, nice to see you in our same time zone : )

March 10th, 2007, 2:03 am


Gibran said:

The Shia of Lebanon already have their share of power. They will have no more, period. It is not up to Alex (A Syrian propagandist) nor up to Joshua Landis (An Alawi Propagandist), Nor up to Bashar (A soon to be criminal) and nor up to Ahmedinejad (A despotic demagogue) to tell the people of Lebanon how to conduct their own affairs. Let’s give the Sunnis of Syria their proper place in governing their country. Bashar represents less than 10% of the population of Syria. The Sunnis of Syria count more than 75% of the population. They definitely should be the rulers of Syria. How do you like that Josh?

March 10th, 2007, 2:08 am


Gibran said:

AlHayat March 10
Bramerz and Pederson to report soon to Security Council on investigation and UN 1701 respectively. Bramerz visits Syria at border with Lebanon immediately upon return from his first visit to Saudi Arabia. He meets Syrian officials and returns to Beirut laden with documents related to Syrian Intelligence performance during Lebanon occupation

وجاء لقاء بري والحريري قبل أيام من استعداد لبنان لمواجهة استحقاقين لهما علاقة مباشرة بالتطورات المتسارعة فيه، الأول تقديم منسّق الأمانة العامة للأمم المتحدة في لبنان غير بيدرسون تقريره الى مجلس الأمن حول سير تطبيق القرار الدولي الرقم 1701، والثاني يتعلق بتقرير آخر سيقدّمه الى المجلس القاضي البلجيكي سيرج براميرتز، رئيس لجنة التحقيق الدولية في اغتيال رئيس الحكومة الاسبق رفيق الحريري. وتوقفت مصادر لبنانية رفيعة المستوى امام توجه فريق أساسي في اللجنة الى دمشق، فور عودة براميرتز من زيارة خاطفة قام بها للسعودية.
وأكدت المصادر ذاتها لـ «الحياة» ان فريق المحققين زار دمشق في اليوم التالي لعودة براميرتز الى بيروت، والتقى مسؤولين سوريين في منتجع «مونتي روزا» السياحي الواقع في منتصف الطريق بين دمشق ونقطة الحدود اللبنانية – السورية. ولم تتمكن المصادر من تحديد هوية المسؤولين السوريين الذين قابلهم فريق التحقيق الدولي، لكنها أكدت انه عاد محمّلاً بوثائق تعتقد بأنها تتعلق بتلك التي كانت اللجنة طلبتها من دمشق وتتناول أداء الاستخبارات السورية في لبنان أثناء وجود الجيش السوري فيه، إضافة الى معلومات تتعلق بعدد من الضباط السوريين الذين كانوا يعملون في عداد الفريق الاستخباراتي العسكري السوري.
ورداً على سؤال أوضحت ان لجنة التحقيق لم تتوقف عن استقبال عدد من الشهود في اغتيال الحريري في مقرها في «مونتيفيردي» في المتن الشمالي، علماً ان القضاء اللبناني واصل أمس الاستماع الى شهود في الجريمة، أبرزهم النائب السابق ناصر قنديل. وهذه أول مرة يستمع فيها القضاء اللبناني الى افادته، بعدما استمعت إليه سابقاً لجنة التحقيق.

Al-Jazeera March 9, 2007

Khaddam reveals cooperation of Syrian leaders with him in efforts to topple Bashar’s regime. Khaddam complains about wide spread poverty among Syrians, rampant unemployment among qualified Syrians that number in hundreds of thousands, and the widely practiced nepotism among Alawis of the Assad clan.
Khaddam also talks about the state of vicissitude characteristic of the Bashar’s regime. Khaddam contends that Bashar is fully under Iranian tutelage and is incapable of breaking loose. Khaddam also describes Hezbollah as an Iranian tool and is currently used by Syria in a futile effort to kill the International Tribunal.
خدام: قيادات بعثية تتعاون معي لتغيير النظام السوري

بشار الأسد ووراءه عبد الحليم خدام في ختام القمة العربية في بيروت عام 2002 (الفرنسية-أرشيف)

سيد حمدي-باريس

كشف عبد الحليم خدام النائب السابق للرئيس السوري وعضو جبهة الخلاص الوطني المعارضة تعاون قيادات في حزب البعث معه من الداخل, في تحرك لتغيير النظام.

وقال خدام للجزيرة نت تعليقا على رسالة وجهها أمس إلى مناضلي البعث في ذكرى تقلده السلطة إن الحزب ذو “تاريخ في العمل الوطني والدفاع عن حقوق جموع الشعب، والبعثيون اليوم في جزء من قياداتهم وفي قواعد الحزب هم أكثر الناس شعورا بالخطر خصوصا مع قضايا الاستبداد السياسي والفساد والوضع الاقتصادي والفقر، ورغم أن هناك البعض داخل الحزب أصبح جزءا من أدوات النظام، لكني أقول بكل وضوح إن قواعد الحزب وجزءا من قياداته تقف إلى جانب التغيير وستعمل وفق ظروفها للوصول إلى هذا التغيير”.

مجموعات قيادية
وعن اتصالاته مع بعثيي الداخل قال “لا أريد أن أخوض في هذا الأمر لأني لا أريد أن أعطي فرصة لأجهزة الأمن لتطال مجموعات قيادية من حزبيين في مختلف المحافظات، وقد شهد الجميع في مؤتمرات الحزب كيف أن أغلبية الأعضاء تطرح توجهات تختلف مع ما كانت تطرحه القيادة”.

وأضاف “الناس يرون ماذا يحدث في البلد من وضع لمقدراتها تحت تصرف الأسرة الحاكمة ويرون كيف ينتشر الفقر والبطالة ومئات الألوف من البعثيين الحاصلين على مؤهلات لا يجدون فرصة عمل وهم جزء من ملايين السوريين لا يجدون فرصة عمل”، وأضاف أن “هؤلاء جميعا يرون أن هذا النظام العائلي بفساده واستبداده وضع البلاد في منطقة الخطر، وهؤلاء جميعا سيكونون جزءا من تحرك شعبي واسع سيتحدد في وقت ملائم عندما تترتب بعض المسائل التي يحتاجها هذا التحرك”.

وعن المقصود من التحضير لهذا التحرك قال إنه يعني “تركيز التحالفات بين القوى الشعبية في البلاد وزيادة حجم الضغط على النظام وكشف سيئاته وممارساته”.

غير أن خدام رفض كشف طبيعة دوره في هذا الشأن, قائلا إنه أمر لا يحدده منفردا وإنما “تحدده المجموعة التي نعمل فيها سويا أي جبهة الخلاص الوطني ومجموعة قياديين بعثيين في الداخل من جهة أخرى”.

حالة ارتباك
وتحدث خدام عن المزاعم الأميركية الإسرائيلية عن محاولة جذب سوريا بعيدا عن إيران قائلا “النظام يعيش حالة ارتباك فهو يريد التفاوض مع إسرائيل لكنه يخشى أن يصل التفاوض إلى السلام لأنه لا يستطيع أن يتحمل ذلك، وبالتالي يريد التفاوض لفتح الباب الأميركي أمامه كما فعلت دول كثيرة بعد انهيار الاتحاد السوفياتي فلجأت إلى إسرائيل للولوج إلى الساحة الأميركية”.

غير أن النظام السوري يخشى في الوقت نفسه -حسب خدام- ألا يؤدي التفاوض إلى النتائج المرجوة فيخسر تحالفه مع إيران وفي حاجة كبيرة إليها لأنها توفر الحماية عبر حلفائها في لبنان.

خدام: حزب الله يريد تقسيم لبنان لتعطيل المحكمة الدولية (الفرنسية-أرشيف)
أداة إيرانية
ووصف حزب الله بأداة إيرانية, متسائلا لماذا ينتقل من الجنوب إلى الداخل ويطرح أزمة حادة أدت إلى انقسام حاد في لبنان و”الجواب تعطيل المحكمة الدولية الذي يعد أمرا أساسيا بالنسبة لبشار الأسد”.

وقال خدام إن المحكمة الدولية أمر طبيعي بالنظر إلى اغتيال الحريري وما تلاه من اغتيالات وأحداث “إذ لا يمكن للقضاء اللبناني العمل مستقلا في ظل الخوف من يد النظام في سوريا”, ودلل على بذلك بـ”ثلاث محاولات اغتيال تعرض لها القاضي المكلف بالتحقيق في قضية مصرف المدينة”.

March 10th, 2007, 2:37 am


habib said:

Dear Gibran,
I hope you find a day job. Just keep rolling out the pamphlets Gibran, we’re all reading very closely. You’re the archetype, the irrational intellectual mold in the Arab World that needs to be broken. You’re that guy, and it sucks.

March 10th, 2007, 3:03 am


Gibran said:

A Lebanese Shia Volunteer speaks:

Hezbollah has no place in Lebanon’s future
Saturday, 3 March, 2007 @ 4:49 PM

By Ramzi Al-Husseini,
Ya Libnan Volunteer
The white glove treatment Hezbollah has been receiving from the democratically elected government has gone on too long. Hezbollah has not earned its privilege to be at the negotiating table.

The shi’ite militia has worn its welcome, and their recent actions in Lebanon have proven their allegiance is not to the country they operate in. Since the withdrawal of Syria, Hezbollah’s actions have become too obviously pro-Damascus, leaving most Lebanese to question their patriotism.

Hezbollah’s swift and steady decline

What drove Hezbollah to their current state? What made Hezbollah followers outcasts in the eye of the Lebanese public? Political analysts are at odds on the specific event that was the “last straw” so to speak.

Hezbollah’s existence was never threatened during Syria’s 29 year occupation of Lebanon, despite forcing every other militia to disband. What Hezbollah did on March 8, 2005 to pay gratitude to their Syrian allies left a bad taste in the mouths of the millions of Lebanese fighting for independence from Syria. Following the unthinkable massacre just weeks before on Valentines Day, Hezbollah instructed its supporters to plead Syria’s innocence, and demonstrate that their allegiance goes beyond protecting Lebanon.

A week later the real Lebanon was revealed, filling Martyrs Square with over a million freedom seeking patriots demanding that Syria leave. A month later Syria was finally gone.

Hezbollah’s existence was threatened the minute the last Syrian troop completed his long overdue one way trip back home. Since the end of Syria’s physical presence in Lebanon, their loyalist politicians have squandered to secure a back door for their re-entry. Hezbollah’s leader – Hassan Nasrallah – once widely admired by the Lebanese for his honesty and transparency, emerged as a nervous and desperate Syrian stooge who was willing to do whatever it takes to appease his leadership in Damascus.

Hezbollah showed complete disregard for Lebanon when they chose to engage in a war with Israel in July 2006. The unforgivable operation was in the peak tourist season of a country finally starting to recover from a war. The tourism industry is Lebanon’s cornerstone that has attracted multi-national investors and grand projects that helped revive the economy. When engaging in the July war, Nasrallah was quoted as saying he could care less about tourism. After all, Lebanon’s tourism had no impact on his militia, or more importantly – Syria was no longer a benefactor.

The July-August War alienated many previous Hezbollah supporters/sympathizers, and in the eyes of many Lebanese erased any prior victories of the militia because of the death and destruction that was brought on their own country.

Rather than face reprimands for engaging in an unnecessary war that Lebanon clearly lost the most in, Hezbollah have continued to exercise their free will to prevent Lebanon from doing what it has become unnervingly good at – moving on. From illegal tents set up in downtown Beirut to protest the democratically elected government to illegal road blocks set up to create chaos, Hezbollah has worked relentlessly to help Syria reclaim Lebanon.

The deplorable protests in January 2007 sent Lebanon back in time to its darkest of days, thankfully this time it did not last longer than a few days.

How can Lebanon trust Hezbollah?

As a solution is negotiated, how can anyone in Lebanon who truly cares about his country trust anyone brandishing a yellow Hezbollah flag? The militia and its leaders have time and time again proven their allegiance to Syria is stronger to that of Lebanon. While allies are important, leaders who place their allies interests above the interests of their own people are not worthy of being leaders. In fact most would consider them traitors.

Hezbollah is using the most deplorable of tactics to get what it wants. What kind of message does it convey to reward their behavior? The National Unity Government is not the answer – any negotiations with Hezbollah should be for the sole purpose of their disarmament. Lebanon first needs plain and simple justice for the countless murders that have taken place over the past two years. Anyone that has the nerve to stand in the way of justice has no place in Lebanon’s future.

With regards to Hezbollah, the negotiations should be on a National Unity Army, not a National Unity Government. The militia may have a disguised political wing, but the events outlined above have uncloaked their entire organization as a military force, orchestrated to support Syria and Iran’s demands. Hezbollah has no place in Lebanon’s future, the time to disarm and disband is now.

March 10th, 2007, 3:47 am


MsLevantine said:

Wow, Shi’a as Slaves, quotes from the uber expert Colonel David Lang (who is he?), rebuttals of the great Michael Young… The post is long on cheap sensationalism and short on insights. You are way too emotional for a nice American boy. Weren’t you an academic once?

March 10th, 2007, 3:51 am


norman said:

Bremets is submiting his report soon , The EU is starting their talks with Syria after the US , could that be because there is no envolvment of Syria in Harreri’s assasination, it sure seems so.

March 10th, 2007, 4:24 am


Alex said:

This post is the perfect treatment/exercise for the perfect ones … like “the great Michael young” and his admirers. If these are the democracy fighters, then thanks god we do not have democracy.

It is incredible how consistent they are in their reactions to any hint of criticism … they automatically attack the character of their critic! … this time it is: cheap sensationalism!.. no need to examine Michael Young’s list of mistakes! … just accuse Joshua of “Cheap sensationalism!” … as long as you sound sophisticated and as long as you use those 14 letter words, then you made your point and you proved to yourself and to everyone that YOU are right … again!

Wow! .. I love the Baathists!.. with all the criticism they have been getting from American and Saudi controlled media, they are now more humble and receptive than the ones who are always right…

Too bad I can’t find an impressive 14-letter word for immature

This might be helpful to the perfect ones who never make a mistake…you know the list, but you probably don’t think it applies to you:

Denial. An ego defence mechanism that operates unconsciously to resolve emotional conflict, and to reduce anxiety by refusing to perceive the more unpleasant aspects of external reality;
Intellectualisation (isolation). Concentrating on the intellectual components of the situations as to distance oneself from the anxiety provoking emotions associated with these situations;
Projection. Attributing to others, one’s own unacceptable or unwanted thoughts and/or emotions. Projection reduces anxiety in the way that it allows the expression of the impulse or desire without letting the ego recognise it;
Idealisation. Form of denial in which the object of attention is presented as “all good” masking true negative feelings towards the other.
Splitting. Primitive defence mechanism-when a person sees external objects or people as either “all good” or “all bad.”

March 10th, 2007, 7:38 am


ausamaa said:

Book a ticket for Michael Young.

“Michael Young once said to me that if Taif were rewritten and Christians were allocated less than their present 50% share of Parliamentary seats, he might be forced to leave Lebanon.”

Now if:
Shia’as represent 30%
Sunnies represent 30%
Druz represent 8%
That makes the Muslim share 68%
Shave of 8% on account of statistical error, and then we are left with a 60% Muslim and 40% Christian representation. Hence, Michael Young may well be on the first plane out of Lebanon as per the CONDITIONS he has set for staying there!

What a charechter, a Sectarian to the Bone, and never mind the way he tries to act, either his side gets 50% representation or He Leaves!

They speak elegant English, talk Democracy, lecture others about civility, toast free choice and liberalisem, and they dress up to match it. But they will do so only in as far as it does not affect their grip on their society.

Now you tell us,

Who are the real hypocrits?
Who are the real salave masters?
Who are the real Petty Mentaleties?
Who are the real agents of the Dark?
Who are the ones who Want a Lebanon cut only to their OWN size or else..?

Once there was a “splendid” little island
called South Africa, once….!!!

March 10th, 2007, 8:27 am


ausamaa said:

I am not alone in this. I just read that Ass’ad Abu Khalil, is calling for RE-Writing the Ta’aif immediately so that Michael Young can leave ASAP.

Now imagine, if Mr. Young leaves to London or the the USA, only to discover that his new Editor in Chief is a British Muslim or an African American Muslim!! You know, they are MORE tolerable there than WHERE Michael lives now.

What will he do? Ask for rewriting the US Constitution, or else he Leaves?

March 10th, 2007, 8:59 am


Helena Cobban said:

Josh, thanks so much for pulling all this material together so effectively. One tiny quibble: I think maybe you intended to write “super-heated rhetoric” re my old friend Hisham M’s somewhat crazed intervention there, rather than “super-headed”?

March 10th, 2007, 10:09 am


Rev. Michel Nahas Filho said:

I’m sorry to probably offend some (as we say in Brazil, the truth sometimes hurts)but I just have to say it:

I do not think that any Sunni government will be better to Christians than ANY, I repeat, ANY Shi’ia government. Please check Iran’s, Syria’s positions towards Christians, vis-a-vis Saudi’s, Jordan’s, Egypt’s (even Israel’s, for that matter).

At least Shiites don’t normally convert people by the sword, as it has been historical Sunni practice!

I think that Shias can accept Westernization, IF that happens to a goal in some Arab societies (and I think it is on the Levant). It is stupid for the West, and specifically the US to insist in supporting Sunni governments and ideology. Just look how women are treated on those societies.

Anywhere where Sunnis are in power there is oppression, or absolute monarchies, or a Latin-American style dictator, not to mention poverty and widespread under-education of the masses (compared to both Secular or Shi’ia dominated regimes).

In this sense thank God for the Attaturk’s, Assad’s, Khomeini’s and Nasrallah’s of this world.

This is my theological/sociological position.

And no, shiites in Lebanon are not treated as slaves, because slaves never assumed they were normal citizens with full rights, only later to discover that they aren’t, as it happens with Lebanese Shiites. So, what I am trying to say is that Shiites in Lebanon are worse off than the slaves!!!
I know many of you might not agree… so be it. But I appreciate comments nevertheless.

Rev. Michel Nahas

March 10th, 2007, 10:17 am


Gibran said:

Go and live in Iran ‘Rev.’ Michel Nahas Filho. What are you doing here in Canada/Brazil? You’re wasting a lot of ‘talent’. Who knows you may become a small Faqih (mullah)and slowly progress in the echelons of Shia politics. Believe me, there is no hope for your ‘genius’ on this part of the globe. I can even help you to become(I have contacts)a first generation immigrant to Iran instead of your curently third in the west.

March 10th, 2007, 12:26 pm


Ammad said:

I wonder how long Syria will continue to be lucky and how long Lebanon will continue to pay the price of being a victim.
Rev. Michel Nahas Filho
I do not differ with you with your ideas, what middle east needs is a new Attaturk

March 10th, 2007, 12:35 pm


ausamaa said:

Yes, Attaturk was a very good thing for Turkey at one point, and he -or Bismark, or Peter the Great maybe- will be realy Excellent for the Arab World. For a While. Then twenty or thirty years later we will have a party similar to Al Fadhila that sweeps the whole Nation again and takes it back to a more natural position.

There are things you just can not JUMP over. History ( and the Roots of Nations) is one of them.

But Attatork, hell yes, a Just and Enlightened Dictatorship if such a thing exists, would be just Great! But was Saddam not such a thing?

March 10th, 2007, 1:46 pm


ausamaa said:


For Lebanon the VICTIM, there is a term that bears strong familiarity; SELF INFLICTED WOUNDS, its called.

Remember the Saying: Respect yourself before “asking” OTHERS to respect you.

March 10th, 2007, 1:52 pm


Innocent_Criminal said:


Very interesting indeed, that said I would have hoped for more links to support some of your obvious attacks on Young (since your post is as much about him as it is about the Shi’a). While i find his hypocracy repulsive many of us have not researched his work as well as you have and might need some reminders.

“To avoid such a prospect, the US is willing to sacrifice Lebanon’s future and any prospects of economic growth for the country. Stagnation and paralysis will be continue to be the order of the day in Lebanon. With a deal, all the participants gain.”

True, but what do you say about the counter argument that its Syria and Iran that are willing to destroy the country before they compromise on the tribunal. I think the reality is that BOTH sides are doing the same thing. And that BOTH camps are lying when they say that Lebanon’s well being is their priority.

March 10th, 2007, 1:57 pm


ausamaa said:


You also taking that International Tribunal stuff for real??

Get Real for God’s sake, ask George Hawi’s adopted Son why he changed his opinion about all that? The victim’s son may have realised that all was not well with this International Tribunal and its tools.

March 10th, 2007, 2:13 pm


ausamaa said:


Are you trying to build more CRIDIBILITY by taking a nuetral stand on the issue (i.e., Both Parties???).

Would you in all honesty Sign Up on the Tribunal Document as ut was sent from New York. Has any Great enlightend freedom and Truth seeker read this document?

Would you sign it based on Harriri Jr’s ,and Junblat’s and Ga Ga’s, promise that it is good for the TRUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUTH?

I doubt mini Hariri have read it even. God!!

March 10th, 2007, 2:19 pm


EHSANI2 said:

Rev. Michel Nahas Filho,

I asked you this before but I am yet to hear your answer. I will, therefore, try again:

How do you feel about the fact that your people (the Christians) are excluded from the office of the Presidency of Syria “by law”? Does this not make them third class citizens?

Moving on to your distinctions between Sunnis and Shias, I think that such generalizations are preposterous, especially coming out of a Christian Reverend.

The Church leaders of middle age Europe did not exactly have a stellar track record when they exerted disproportionate influence over their own societies at the time. Niether did your beloved Mullahs since they took over Iran in 1979. The last I checked women were are not exactly treated brilliantly over in that society either. Similarly, Saudis and their brand of Wahhabi Islam are an abomination and have no place in civil societies.


It would be best if you stay of politics and instead concentrate on teaching your congregation that religious tolerance and the separation of Church/Mosque and State is the ultimate goal of all advanced and civil societies.

Being a Sunni, Shia, Christian, Buddhist or even atheist is not the central tenet of how advanced or civil a society is.

In the words of Mustafa Kemal Atatürk:
“Religion is an important institution. A nation without religion cannot survive. Yet it is also very important to note that religion is a link between Allah and the individual believer. The brokerage of the pious cannot be permitted. Those who use religion for their own benefit are detestable. We are against such a situation and will not allow it. Those who use religion in such a manner have fooled our people; it is against just such people that we have fought and will continue to fight. Know that whatever conforms to reason, logic, and the advantages and needs of our people conforms equally to Islam. If our religion did not conform to reason and logic, it would not be the perfect religion, the final religion.”


Next time you write, please remember the above words rather than offering us meaningless generalizations of the sort that dominated your comment above.

March 10th, 2007, 2:48 pm


Ford Prefect said:

There is ONE country in the world where Jews are prohibited from entering, residing, or even breathing within its borders, under the penalty of the law. Of course, the democracy leader of Lebanon is a citizen of that country, whose never been bothered by that fact, but yet boasting his love for freedom, tolerance, democracy. So the news now is Syria’s intolerance coming from Lebanese bigots?

March 10th, 2007, 3:21 pm


EHSANI2 said:


As usual, a very pointed and relevant comment

March 10th, 2007, 4:06 pm


Alex said:


it is FORD PREfect not PERfect

: )

March 10th, 2007, 4:23 pm


EHSANI2 said:

I think of him as PERfect, hence the misspelling

March 10th, 2007, 4:24 pm


Ford Prefect said:

Ehsani2 and Alex, thanks! While Arthur Dent was kicking, screaming, and demanding justice because his house was being demolished to make room for a new highway, his dear friend, Ford Prefect, was trying to convince him that, in fact, there was a bigger problem that Arthur needs to worry about: the whole Earth is being imploded to make way for a new intergalactic super highway.

You are amongst the few who see the relevance of my name! Cheers.

March 10th, 2007, 4:46 pm


qunfuz said:

An excellent, pertinent comment, Josh. Well done.

March 10th, 2007, 4:53 pm


Akbar Palace said:

Ford Prefect asks:

“What do you get when Paul Wolfowitz transforms a Lebanese into a Likud Israeli at Hopkin’s nest of the neocons? Fuad Ajami.”

Paul Wolfowitz did “transform” anyone. You could say they were “transformed” on their own.

I suppose they were transformed by their “varied” experiences of living in Lebanon.

Gibran –

Good article!

March 10th, 2007, 5:33 pm


Alex said:

Good news so far from Iraq today… American, British Syrian and Iranian envoys met on the side … positive language used (thanking Syria and Jordan for their help in taking Iraqi refugees)

زيباري يشير الى لقاء ضم امريكا وبريطانيا مع ايران وسوريا
GMT 16:42:46 2007 السبت 10 مارس


بغداد (رويترز) – قال هوشيار زيباري وزير الخارجية العراقي يوم السبت إن لقاء تم بين وفدي امريكا وبريطانيا مع وفدي ايران وسوريا على هامش اجتماع الدول المجاورة للعراق.

واضاف وزير الخارجية العراقي في مؤتمر صحفي عقده في بغداد في نهاية المؤتمر الذي حضرته الدول المجاورة للعراق وعدد من القوى الدولية ان الاجتماع شهد “نقطة ايجابية وفعالة وهي التفاعل الذي حدث بين الوفد الامريكي والبريطاني مع وفد الجمهورية الاسلامية (ايران) وسوريا.”

واضاف زيباري ان النقاشات في هذا اللقاء “تركزت اساسا على تعاون وحرص الجميع على تحقيق الامن والاستقرار في العراق.”

وقال إن الدول المجتمعة توصلت “وبناء على مقترح عراقي الى تشكيل ثلاث لجان فنية على مستوى الخبراء.”

واضاف ان اللجنة الاولى “سوف تختص على مستوى التعاون والتنسيق الامني لمتابعة وتفعيل الاتفاقات الامنية السابقة مع هذه الدول لمساعدة الحكومة في مكافحة الارهاب ومنع التسلل وضبط الحدود وكل ماله علاقة بامن العراق.”

وقال زيباري إن اللجنة الثانية ستكون مهمتها “كل مايتعلق بالمهجرين والمهاجرين العراقيين الى دول الجوار.”

واضاف ان الدول المشاركة اثنت على ماقامت به “المملكة العربية الهاشمية وسوريا وعلى ما قدم من خدمات جليلة الى ابناءنا الذين اضطروا الى الهجرة بسبب الظروف القاسية والظروف الامنية.”

واشار الى ان الحكومة العراقية اكدت انها “سوف تتحمل مسؤولياتها في هذا المجال.”

وقال الوزير العراقي ان اللجنة الثالثة ستختص “بتوريدات الوقود والطاقة الى العراق وحل المشاكل الفنية والبيروقرطية التي تواجه العراق في هذا المجال.”

واضاف ان الدول المشاركة لم تتفق على تحديد مكان وموعد الاجتماع القادم وان المشاركين اتفقوا على تخويل العراق في متابعة هذا الموضوع.

وقال ان العراق طالب “ان يحافظ على حقه في استضافة الاجتماع الوزاري في المستقبل لكن كانت هناك مقترحات وعروضات من مصر وتركيا لاستضافة اجتماع لدول الجوار (القادم).”

واضاف “الاتفاق جرى ان يخول وزير الخارجية العراقي لمتابعة الاتصالات والمشاورات للاتفاق على مكان وزمان وتركيبة الاجتماع القادم.”

ووصف زيباري اجواء الاجتماع بأنها كانت “ايجابية وفي اعتقادنا توصلنا الى نتائج طيبة في هذا المجال.. وان الخطوات القادمة سوف تكون اهم وان هذه الالية الية اجتماعات دول الجوار سوف تستمر في المستقبل.”

واضاف “لا حظنا تجاوبا كبيرا من هذه الدول وحرصها على الوقوف مع الحكومة والشعب العراقي لتجاوز الازمة.”

March 10th, 2007, 5:44 pm


Gibran said:

A self proclaimed exper rants without any supporting evidence:
“There is ONE country in the world where Jews are prohibited from entering, residing, or even breathing within its borders, under the penalty of the law. Of course, the democracy leader of Lebanon is a citizen of that country, whose never been bothered by that fact, but yet boasting his love for freedom, tolerance, democracy. So the news now is Syria’s intolerance coming from Lebanese bigots?”

Well, we know there were over 200000 westerners in Lebanon just before the fiasco of Nasrallah’s Syrian/Iranian instigated summer war. We’ve seen them being evacuated on ships by their own governments during the war. Now each and every one of these westerners had to reveal their religious affiliation before gaining entry to Lebanon according to the testimony of this so-called PERFECT (Sorry PREfect) expert. I could tell from personal experience. I often travel to Lebanon. Before landing in Beirut, there is a card you have to fill with personal information. I don’t recall having to answer a question to that effect, ever! Perhaps my experience doesn’t count. The rantings of the self-proclaimed expert carry much more weight!

Excellent IC.

AP, good points. But you cann’t avoid believing in the possibility of telepathetic transformation while you’re in a Landis blog.

March 10th, 2007, 5:49 pm


Alex said:


Try to read a bit slower please… you will understand.

FP was referring to Mr. Hariri’s true nationality, not the recently adopted Lebnese nationality.

in THAT country, Jews are not allowed.

March 10th, 2007, 5:56 pm


Gibran said:

Alex comes to the rescue in a duty-felt sense of a supporting chorus role:

Try to read a bit slower please… you will understand.

FP was referring to Mr. Hariri’s true nationality, not the recently adopted Lebnese nationality.

in THAT country, Jews are not allowed”

Still, we are not offered any supporting evidence. But hey what the heck? We’re just babbling on a Landis blog! You know how the saying goes in Arabic: “If the head of the house is a drum beater, the kids’ obligation is dancing.”

March 10th, 2007, 6:15 pm


Joe M. said:

Dear Josh,
Excellent post, yet I think you are too soft on the Americans and the “obstructionists”. Those like Michael Young have been spouting total bullsh*t to too long. They are cruel and dangerous. He particularly needs to get his head out of his ass. The irony is that Feltman, Olmert and their likes have so much blood on their hands that it is unbelievable, yet they are the ones who label others as being dangerous. I hope they suffer the same fate as Saddam, god knows they deserve it.

here is an excellent article from the Asia Times that goes into how these same trend of stupidity and insanity has been applied to Palestine, though Dahlan and his gang of thugs. Really, this whole thing has become a battle between those who represent subservience to the Zionist/American view and those who are for their own dignity. Since it is being driven by outside powers, let’s only hope that those who actually have to face the consequences of these actions decide to come to fair solutions as is happening in Palestine:

March 10th, 2007, 6:20 pm


Innocent_Criminal said:


I dont think my opinion matters, though i feel my view is very obvious on this and similar subjects. what i meant was that in my very humble opinion the argument Josh makes needed better tangible support. So that it wouldn’t allow the other camp to crack it so easily, it had nothing to do reinforcing your or my beliefs. I know the tribunal is completely political and that western and middle eastern supporters of the March 14th group couldn’t give a rat’s ass about freedom or democracy in Lebanon.

March 10th, 2007, 6:21 pm


ugarit said:

Hariri has had Saudi Arabian (SA) citizenship prior to his recently acquired Lebanese one. That’s the point that’s being hinted at.

SA is far worse than any Muslim and Arab country, yet the Hariris and their followers hardly, if ever, criticize SA.

March 10th, 2007, 6:25 pm


Alex said:

Gibran, here is your proof

Jews of any nationality are not allowed

Next time, just trust me.

March 10th, 2007, 8:47 pm


ausamaa said:

I know. But I am fed up with being “nice” to those idiots. They have not been nice and kind to anyone. Including to themselves!
They want the TRUTH, yes, we too want it too:
Who killed Rashid Karami?
Who “did” the Sabra and Shatila people?
Who marked the way for Sharon troops in 82?
Who is killing the Syrian wokers in Lebanon now?
Who killed the Frenjeih Family?
And to me, a Sabra and Shatila innocent defencless woman is worth a thousand rich Hariris, so is a home grown Rashid Karami.

These questions are part of the Truth as well? Are they not? And you can not really be that selective? Unless you belong to the Al Siyadeh wal Elisti”lal dance troup! The Kan Zamman idiots.

In theory what you say is correct.
In practice, Saudi Immigration Authoreties could not care less if someone was Jew or not. As long as he has another passport.

March 10th, 2007, 9:27 pm


Alex said:

Here is Nabih Berri on Syrian-Saudi (or S.S., as he called it) solutions for Lebanon
ورداً على سؤال اشار الى ان هناك اجواء أجواء عربية ومحاولات جدية جداً من المملكة العربية السعودية والجمهورية الاسلامية في ايران تساعد على بلوغ حل للأزمة، لافتاً في هذا الاطار الى «الاتصالات التي بدأت بين السعودية وسورية»، وقال: «انا صاحب نظرية الـ «S.S» اي السعودي ـ السوري»، مشيراً الى «ان الحَدَث الذي تشهده المنطقة في هذه الاثناء وتحديداً في العراق، حيث بدأ الاميركيون يهتدون الى دخول البيوت من ابوابها (…) هو على طريقة «بحاكيك يا كنّة تسمعي يا جارة»، اي انه حديث مع جوار العراق»، اضاف: «كل هذه الامور مجتمعة، من دون اغفال الزيارة المرتقبة للممثل الاعلى للسياسة الخارجية للاتحاد الاوروبي خافيير سولانا لسورية، ساعدت. ولكن العاملين الرئيسيين هما الموقف السعودي المتابع لهذا الموضوع تحت ضغط القمة او غيرها، وايضاً الخشية التي برزت لدى القيادات اللبنانية بالنسبة الى خطر انهيار لبنان».

بري والحريري في آخر لقاء بينهما
وهل ستكون «الضمانات السعودية» جزءاً من المخرج؟ قال: «يقول المثل العامي «بدك تأخذ حسنتك بالدبوس». نريد ضمانة سعودية وايرانية وسورية، ونريد ضمانة من «كل الدنيا». لست ضد ذلك ولكن يهمني في النهاية ان اوجد الحل اللبناني، اي الذي يتوافق عليه اللبنانيون. وجلالة الملك عبد الله، خادم الحرمين الشريفين، عقد في غضون الشهرين الماضيين ما لا يقلّ عن اربعة اجتماعات او خمسة من اجل لبنان، وفي البداية ذهبتُ انا الى المملكة العربية السعودية، ونعم من اجل محاولة تقريب وجهات النظر السعودية ـ السورية. كيف أنكر هذا الامر وهو ينعكس على بلدي؟ والجمهورية الاسلامية في ايران كان لها دور اساسي ايضاً في هذا المضمار ونحن نرحّب بذلك».

وهل حصل على ضمانات سورية بتسهيل الحل؟أجاب: «كل الذي أطلبه هو انه على الاقل البلد الذي لا يريد ان يساعد ألا يعرقل. وهناك اجواء سورية ليست ضد الحل».

ورداً على الكلام الأخير لوزير الخارجية السوري وليد المعلّم عن المحكمة والحدود قال الرئيس بري: «ما الجديد في كلام معالي الوزير المعلّم؟ السوريون ومنذ اشهر عدة اعلنوا موقفهم حين وقف معاون وزير الخارجية فيصل المقداد وقال ان سورية غير معنية بالمحكمة الدولية. هذا الكلام ردده الاستاذ وليد جنبلاط عن لساني عندما تحدّث عن ان نبيه بري قال ان سورية لا تريد المحكمة الدولية. والرئيس بشار الاسد نفسه قال انه عندما تثبت ادانة اي سوري سنحاكمه، والكلام الذي قاله الوزير المعلم هو ان سورية غير معنية بالمحكمة الدولية، اي الكلام نفسه. اما حول الحدود فالسوريون في المرة الماضية أقفلوا الحدود (…) وهل كان في الامكان ان تكون طريقة كلام المعلّم افضل؟ هذه وجهة نظر يمكن ان اكون معها، لكن مثلاً عندما طرح وزير الخارجية البلجيكي مسألة نشر قوات طوارئ دولية على الحدود بين البلدين كان يمكن ان يقال له تماماً كما يفترض نشر قوات دولية بين بلجيكا ولوكسمبورغ. اما في مضمون الكلام فلم اجد فيه اي جديد ولو انني كنت اتمنى ان تكون اللغة اكثر تصويباً لانها في معرض الرد على ما طرحه وزير الخارجية البلجيكي وجاءت في الشكل كأن المشكلة بين لبنان وسورية».

March 10th, 2007, 10:13 pm


Gibran said:

The answer to all your questions is Syria – except for Sabra and Shatilla and who marked the way to Sharon (it was Amal by the way and the records are available) You know Syria was in Lebanon during all this time:
Now you answer me:
Who killed Kamal Jumblat?
Who killed Bashir al-Jemayel?
Who killled Samir Hobeika?
Who killed Rene Moawwad?
Who killed Samir Qasir?
Who killed Gibran Tueny?
Who killed Piere al-Jemayyel?
Now you behave yourself and stop calling the legitimate elected representatives of Lebanon as idiot, because honestly you seem to be the only idiot in addition to the illegitimate rulers of Syria Bashar and Co.

You’re right about SA and that shows once again Alex’s and the PERFECT’s lack of common sense.

You’re asking to trust you Alex? Are you kidding?!

March 10th, 2007, 10:18 pm


ausamaa said:


You can not think logically, that we can live with. You can NOT READ, that is a BIG PROBLEM.

I said “Theoratically” Alex is right. SA does not allow Jews. And He is Correct. And TRUST him because what he said was backed up by a DOCUMENT. And I said “IN PRACTICE”. There is a difference you know? Or do you?

March 10th, 2007, 10:36 pm


ausamaa said:


I did not call Lahoud an Idiot. Nor the ELECTED PARLIMENT MEMBERS of Amal, Hizbullah, Aoun and Indepedents Idiots.
No I did not call them Idiots. Did I?

March 10th, 2007, 10:40 pm


Ford Prefect said:

Ausamaa, it is not a passport thing – any Jew carrying any passport from any country in the world is not allowed in KSA. It is the law. Of course, a Jew can lie on his/her visa application and claim another religion. That is sure common sense, isn’t it? And this of course, does not bother the democracy and human right fighters in Lebanon. It does not even bother AP. But Syria, ooooh, those terrorists….

March 10th, 2007, 10:47 pm


ausamaa said:


HONESTLY, HONESTLY, IFFFFFFFFFFF you really think Syria killed all the ones you have named, then, my advice to you is to really get the hell out of there. Ohmygooood!! then Lebanon is a really scarey place with such a naughty and powerfull and rash neighbour.

Hell, if it so, damn…get the hell out of the area and quick. Ah.. unless you , and your likeminded wave-riders, know that all this is BS. Not any BS, but Royal BS.And we both know it. Let us call it our small secret, as in You know that I Know that you Know that you are BS…ing.

March 10th, 2007, 10:48 pm


ausamaa said:


I live around the spot, and I had many of my American and Other visitors travel to SA. Some of them Jews I suspect. Nobody really asked them if they were Christians or Jews.But I do not really know. Maybe such rulls were enforced at a given time. But again, whatshisname the Este Lauder guy, he goes a lot to SA and we do not hear anything like banning him. And on a second thought, would you Imagine the SA Embassy in London or Washington turning down a Visa application of an American or a British subject on account of belonging to the Jewish faith?
Again, I have seen some go through, but maybe I am wrong, maybe they were not Jewish. Of course I couldnt care less or ask, and why should they say. But it is not practically possible. How would the SA know a Jew from a Christian or a Muslim?

March 10th, 2007, 10:58 pm


ausamaa said:


I stand corrected, Bashir Al Gemayyel, well, maybe Syria. But then he was a traitor under Lebanese Laws. You know; like sleepin with the enemy, or workin for the enemy, or thinkin like the enemy. You know, dont you!

March 10th, 2007, 11:06 pm


ausamaa said:

GIBRAN, I’ll leave you for tonite -our time and tomorrow your time. I understand, the stuff about the Baghdad meeting is too much for you to absorb, I mean being it too fast, I know, I can understand the disssssssssssappointment. Like now you see it now you dont. OK, I do understand how being let down feels. So I would not add insult to injury and I will stop right here before Alex and FP come up with a document to prove their point which may be correct anyway. And by the way, Khalil sometghing Zaddeh, the US high commissioner in Iraq has said that the Baghdad meeting was sort of good, for starters he meant. See you….

March 10th, 2007, 11:15 pm


Ford Prefect said:

Ausamaa, you are correct, the law is on the book, but after a 2004 publicity incident, where the Saudi government officially published that Jews cannot enter the Kingdom on its Web site, it had to rescind itself. Since then, “approved” Jews are allowed to trickle in as a show of good faith.

The fact of the matter is that KSA, as many other countries – Syria included, are full of ironies, contradictions, and of course, ignorant policies. The point I was making was that pointing fingers at Syria for human rights violations where others were relieved because of their friendliness is absurd and disingenuous to the people of those countries. On a scale from 1 to 10 with 10 being the worst violator of human liberties and freedom of religion, assembly, and speech, which country in the region do you think should occupy the top slot?

March 10th, 2007, 11:19 pm


ausamaa said:

Ah, they did that on a WEB SITE? I did not know that! Not very smart anyway, is it?

And ofcourse I do see and understand the point you were making.

As to who occupies the top spot around here in that regard? Easy question!

Who detaines the Largest Number of people in their Prisons for poilitical reasons?

Which country in the region, or in the milky way for that matter, is built with the purpose of accommodating ONE religion?

You guessssssed it!

March 10th, 2007, 11:32 pm


ausamaa said:

Ehsani 2,
Talk about: now you see it now you dont!
what happened? Yeh, you are right, it is not worth it. God bless you. Have a nice day.

March 10th, 2007, 11:36 pm


EHSANI2 said:


I have no idea what happened to my post. My PC seems to have gone out of control.

If my post does come up, please note that if you read my comment carefully you will come away with the conclusion that of course it was/is politics that led to this international investigation

March 10th, 2007, 11:41 pm


ausamaa said:

Ehsani 2,

I will look out for its ‘reappearence’!

But I guess that its about Fitzgerald’s initial Report! When no smoking gun was found, but not to dissapoint anyone, he still went on to “conclude” something like Syria’s presence in Lebanon has “contibuted”, or was “inducive”, to a “situation” that made Harriri’s assasination possible.

Still awaiting the reappearence of the Ghost Post.

March 10th, 2007, 11:49 pm


Ford Prefect said:

Yes, it was on the Web back in 2004. Look here.

You now need to go to bed. Have a good evening and catch you somewhere along the Milky Way 😉

March 10th, 2007, 11:50 pm


EHSANI2 said:

I have tried to re-post it 10 times but it does not come out. Here is my last try:


You implicitly ask why the Harriri investigation seems to exercise selective justice. In other words, why is it that the death of Hariri triggered an international investigation while a host of previous assassinations in the country triggered hardly any response or interest from the international community?

You listed a number of such assassinations. Gibran followed up with his own list.

Indeed, it is precisely the fact the Lebanon had witnessed a great number of political assassinations over the past 30 years and that most of them remained unsolved to date that served as the forum or stepping stone that led to the internationalization of this Hariri investigation.

Less than 24 hours after the Hariri murder, the UN Security Council sent this letter to Kofi Anan effectively requesting immediate action:

Mr. Anan’s response was to form a “fact finding” mission headed by Peter Fitzgerald. On March 25, 2005 (less than 6 weeks after the incident) this mission issued the following report, which was to become the critical building block to what was to come later in the shape on a formal international investigation. Speaking of a politically charged report (only in section 15 does the report attempt to offer a word of caution), Please note section 60 and 61 in particular where a virtual verdict was already rendered

Noting the above dateline is important.

Syria’s leadership had decided to challenge the U.S. arrival in the region. The White House was not amused by the reaction from Damascus since the Iraq invasion in 2003.

I do plan to write a specific post on cataloging these events leading to February 14th of 2005.

March 10th, 2007, 11:53 pm


ausamaa said:

Thanks FP and EHSANI2 , now we got it.

And I do need to get to bed. But I can not leave GIBRAN on a sour note!

SO, Gibran, dont worry, WE understand. And we can forgive and forget.We have to live next to each other untill Olmert nukes us all to kingdom come. Really, we understand and we hope we will all get over it learning the lessons we have gone thru.

Have a nice rest-of-the-weekend you lucky soles who enjoy the fruits of civilization manifsted by a nice ((((((((two-day)))))))) weekends.

March 11th, 2007, 12:13 am


norman said:

Ausama , Not all Christians are good , not all Moslems are good ,these Christians you mentioned do not represent the Christian Arabs that we all know or should know I hope that one day in the midleast people will be evaluated for their deeds not the God that they believe in or the way they want to take to get to heaven ,

Ehsani2 , I am going to answer you about the question you asked the rev about the Christian feeling as third class citizen because the religin of the president is to be Moslem according to the present Syrian constitution ,I do not know if you were around in 1973 when the constitution was approved initialy it did not indicate for the president to be Moslem and there was no mention of Syria as an Islamic state , with Syria not being an islamic state put in the constitution The MB called for a revolt in Hama, Homs , Latakia and Aleppo , They wanted the constitution to mention the religon of the state is ISlam ,at that time the Christians of Syria felt that their support for making the president religin moslem will not change much as they never intended to seek the presidencey they did that to save the ccountry from a civil war , they were happy to avoid having the state to be Islamic as that wil have the potential of changing their way of life as is the case in Egypt.Ehsani , The Christians of Syria just want to equal and people like you could change the constitution to let the Be in any position they can be qualified for , They will not object.

March 11th, 2007, 12:20 am


Alex said:

Abdallah Iskandar in Alhayat acknowledging Syria’s and Iran’s success in forcing the Americans to deal with them… and to reward them accordingly.

سورية وإيران والأخطار
عبدالله اسكندر الحياة – 11/03/07//

يشعر كل من سورية وايران حاليا بأن المرحلة الصعبة باتت وراءه. ويُظهر الجانبان ثقة متزايدة بأن تحالفهما تجاوز التهديد الكبير الذي واجهاه مع بداية الغزو الاميركي للعراق. ولم يعد أي منهما مضطرا الى سماع لائحة مطالب اميركية للتنفيذ فحسب، على طريقة ما فعله يوما كولن باول. او كما بدا لدى سحب سورية جيشها من لبنان. وعندما انتشرت القوات الاميركية على الحدود مع ايران.

المواجهة لم تحسم نهائيا بعد بين التحالف السوري – الايراني والولايات المتحدة واسرائيل. وما زال محور الاعتدال العربي يتلمس دروب تحويل هذا التحالف من موقع المعترض على كيفية حل الازمات العراقية واللبنانية والفلسطينية. وإن كانت التكتيكات، قبيل القمة العربية في الرياض، تفرض حدا من تخفيف حدة لهجات التخاطب وإعلان حسن النيات.

واذا كانت سورية، مثلا، اعتبرت ان التهديد الذي واجهته ارتبط بعدوانية بوش ودعمه لاسرائيل وبشخصنة شيراك للعلاقة معها، فان الاول بات يبحث عن الحلول قبل الخروج من الرئاسة السنة المقبلة، والثاني قد يعلن اليوم عزوفه عن الترشح، ما يجعله يترك الاليزيه بعد اسابيع قليلة. لذلك يعتمد الثنائي السوري – الايراني سياسة الصمود، في الاوقات الصعبة. وسياسة الهجوم عندما تتصدع سياسة الخصم.

ومرحليا، يستفيد الجانبان من الصعوبات الداخلية الاسرائيلية وتفكك الطبقة السياسية المرتبط، والتفتيش عن قيادة تستعيد ثقة الجمهور. وذلك نتيجة مضاعفات الحرب على لبنان. وتستطيع سورية وايران اللتان اعتبرتا نفسيهما عرابتي المقاومة في وجه الحرب ان تسجلا لمصلحتهما كثيرا من النقاط السياسية. ليس فقط في مجال إلحاق الخسائر باسرائيل عند المواجهة، وإنما ايضا تأكيد الحضور الضروري في حالات التفاوض.

ومع الازمة السياسية التي نشأت في لبنان نتيجة هذه الحرب، استعادت دمشق دورها واعلنت طهران حصتها. وأكثر من ذلك، استعاد الجانبان الاعتراف بهما، اقليميا ودوليا، كعاملين مؤثرين في المعادلة وكممر لا بد منه في السعي الى الحل. حتى شيراك لم يعد قادرا على منع التحرك الاوروبي نحو دمشق، وحتى بوش بعث بمسؤولة رفيعة الى دمشق. وما كان ممكنا ان يُستعاد الحوار اللبناني – اللبناني الا بالاعتراف بالموقع السوري – الايراني، وتاليا مصلحة هذا التحالف.

وبغض النظر عن التصريحات الاميركية التي تحاول ان تقول ان شيئا لم يتغير، يكفي ان تكون سورية وايران طرفين اساسيين في المؤتمر الدولي حول العراق وفي بغداد، ليظهر الاعتراف بأن البلدين اللذين كان لهما دور اساسي في الغرق الاميركي في المستنقع العراقي ضروريان في اي تهدئة واستقرار.

وفي الحالات كلها، لن تكون ادوار سورية وايران في تسهيل الحلول مجانية، وانما سيقبض الجانبان ثمنها بإعادة الاعتبار لمواقعهما ولمصالحهما على امتداد المنطقة. ولا يهدد هذا الاعتراف الا تعرضهما الى ضربة قاضية، لا تبدو هناك حاليا اي مؤشرات الى حصولها.

March 11th, 2007, 3:06 am


ausamaa said:


I did not make a distenction between Muslims and Christians at all…. A far as I know, the Christian Arabs were very vocal in expressing their Arabisem throughout history. As a matter of fact when I think of Arabisem, the first to come to mind is a Christian name, George Antoious.I assure you, this subject is the Least of my worries. Incidently, when did I say wether I was Muslim or Christian or anything else for that matter?

March 11th, 2007, 3:21 am


norman said:

Ausama , You did not , and I did not mean anything bad about what you say but was a general openion on people in the Arab world.

March 11th, 2007, 3:28 am


Rev. Michel Nahas Filho said:

Ehsani 2,

I responded very objectively to you, but I made a mistake and did it on the Iran article. I don’t want to bother other forum members here with a kind of off-topic issue, but please go there and you will find a complete and short answer to your question.

The ones suggesting I move to Iran, why would I? I have legal residence in the US, Canada, Brazil and Germany. Why would I go to live in a country where I have no association whatsoever? With my Brazilian citizenship I am welcomed everywhere, by everyone. Why change? Sory to get personal here, I just think it’s unpolite not to respond to people talking to me.

Now, on a more serious matter, the way I see Christians and Muslim societies is this:
When Christianity was 1300 years old we were also doing non-sensical stuff like Cruzades and “holy” wars (to be honest the last religious Christian war just ended 10 years or so ago in Northern Ireland).
Well, Islam is “at that age” (1300 years old). As for Christianity, all this will pass too in Islam. One day we’ll understand that we were all indeed created after God’s image. There is no significant difference between Calvin’s Geneva and Kholmeini’s Teheran. It is all a matter of a different point in one’s history. The Islamic equivalent of the Thirty Years War is just beginning! We just hope and pray that their “Westphalian Peace” will come earlier than it did for us Christians.

peace to all,

Rev. Michel Nahas

March 11th, 2007, 4:11 am


Alex said:

Hillary says her husband Bill will be her envoy to the Middle East!

بيل كلينتون وسيطاً لأزمة الشرق الأوسط

اعلنت هيلاري كلينتون انها ستعين زوجها بيل كلينتون وسيطا في الازمات الدولية، وخصوصا في ‏الشرق الاوسط، في حال انتخابها رئيسة للولايات المتحدة، وذلك في حديث الى صحيفة «ايريش ‏تايمز».‏
وقالت عضو مجلس الشيوخ والمرشحة الديموقراطية للانتخابات الرئاسية عام 2008 للصحيفة ‏‏«اؤيد بشدة الاستعانة برؤساء سابقين» لمهمات كهذه.‏
واضافت «حين اصبح رئيسة سادعو طبعا الرئيس الاول كلينتون الى الانخراط في هذه القضايا ‏البالغة الصعوبة في كل انحاء العالم».‏

أ ف ب

March 11th, 2007, 6:26 am


Alex said:

Iranian defense minister: “Iran’s “defensive capabilities are all under Syria’s disposal”

وزير الدفاع الإيراني: ما تمتلكه إيران من قدرات دفاعية هو ملك لسورية

قال وزير الدفاع الإيراني اللواء مصطفى محمد نجار أمس إن كل ما تمتلكه بلاده من قدرات دفاعية هو ملك لسوريا أيضاً، وكان نجار يتحدث عقب لقائه مع نظيره السوري العماد حسن توركماني أمس في دمشق.
وقال نجار الذي وصل إلى دمشق على رأس وفد رسمي في زيارة لم يعلن عن أهدافها إنه بحث وتوركماني «في مجالات مختلفة، منها نقل تكنولوجيا صناعة الأسلحة وإجراء التدريبات اللازمة، وكذلك كل ما يتعلق بالمجالات العسكرية والدفاعية والسياسية». وأضاف أن «ما تمتلكه إيران من قدرات دفاعية هو ملك لسوريا أيضاً»، ووصف مستوى التعاون بين البلدين بالجيد، خصوصا أن «العلاقات في مختلف المجالات تتطور باستمرار منذ الثورة الإسلامية قبل ثلاثة عقود».

March 11th, 2007, 6:44 am


Alex said:

Olmert’s Truth – by Uri Avnery

IF GOD wills, even a broomstick will shoot. That is an old Yiddish adage. One could add now: If God wills, even Olmert can sometimes tell the truth.
The truth, according to the Prime Minister’s testimony before the Inquiry Commission headed by Judge Vinograd that was leaked to the media yesterday, is that this was not a spontaneous reaction to the capture of the two soldiers, but a war planned a long time ago. We said so right from the start.
Olmert told the commission that immediately after assuming the functions of acting prime minister, in January 2006, he consulted with the army chiefs about the situation on the northern border. Until then, the prevailing doctrine followed Ariel Sharon’s decision – logical from his point of view – not to react in force to provocations in the north, so that the Israeli army could concentrate on fighting the Palestinians. But this enabled Hizbullah to build up a large stockpile of rockets of all kinds. Olmert decided to change that policy.
The army prepared a two-pronged plan: an operation on the ground aimed at the elimination of Hizbullah, and an aerial offensive, aimed at the destruction of the Lebanese infrastructure, in order to put pressure on the Lebanese public which in turn would put pressure on Hizbullah. As the Chief of Staff, Dan Halutz, said at the beginning of the war: “we shall turn Lebanon’s clock back 20 years.” (a rather modest aim, compared to the famous proposal of an American colleague: to “bomb Vietnam back to the stone age”.) The Air Force was also tasked with destroying Hizbullah’s rocket arsenal.
But nowadays it is not proper anymore to attack a country without a convincing reason. Already before the First Lebanon War, the Americans demanded that Israel attack only after a clear provocation that would convince the world. The necessary justification was provided at the right time by the Abu Nidal gang, which tried to assassinate the Israeli ambassador in London. In the recent case, it was decided in advance that the capture of Israeli soldiers would constitute such a provocation.
A cynic might argue that this decision turned Israeli soldiers into bait. It was known that Hizbullah wanted to capture soldiers in order to force a prisoner exchange. The regular Israeli army patrols along the border fence were, in a way, a standing invitation to Hizbullah to carry out their evil design.
THE CAPTURE of the soldier Gilad Shalit by Palestinians near the Gaza border fence turned on a red light in Israel. Olmert said in his testimony that from that moment on, he was convinced that Hizbullah was about to try to carry out a similar exploit.
If so, the prime minister should perhaps have ordered the army to halt the patrols along the northern border, or to reinforce them in a way that would deter Hizbullah. That was not done. The poor members of the fateful patrol set out on their way as to a picnic.
The same cynic might argue that Olmert and the army chiefs were interested in a pretext in order to execute their war plans. They were convinced, anyhow, that the soldiers would be brought home in a jiffy. But, as the British royal motto says, Honi soit qui mal y pense – Shame upon him who thinks ill of it.
Anyhow, Hizbullah attacked, two soldiers were captured, and the planned operation should have started rolling smoothly. But that did not happen. The war did indeed break out, as planned, but from then on almost nothing went according to plan. Consultations were hasty, the decisions confused, the operations indecisive. It now appears that the plan was not yet finalized and confirmed.
The Vinograd commission is supposed to find the answers to some tough questions: If the war was planned such a long time in advance, why was the army not ready for war? How come the army budget was reduced? How come the emergency arsenals were empty? Why were the reserve forces, which were supposed to carry out the operations on the ground, called up only when the war was already in full swing? And after they were finally deployed, why did they receive confused and contradictory orders?
All these show that Olmert and the generals were grossly incompetent in their military decision-making. But they also lacked any understanding of the international scene.
HASSAN NASRALLAH has openly admitted that he made a mistake.
He did not understand that there had been a change in Israel: instead of Sharon, an old war-horse who was not looking for action in the north, a new man had arrived, an inexperienced politician itching for war. What Nasrallah had in mind was just another round of the usual: the capture of some soldiers and a prisoner exchange. Instead, a full-blown war broke out.
But Ehud Olmert’s mistake was even bigger. He was convinced that the United States would give him a blessing for the road and allow him to roam in Lebanon at will. But American interests, too, had changed.
In Lebanon, the government of Fuad Siniora has succeeded in uniting all pro-American forces. They have loyally carried out all of Washington’s orders, have driven out the Syrians and have supported the investigation of Rafiq Hariri’s murder, which is to provide the Americans with a pretext for a massive strike against Syria.
According to Olmert’s leaks, Condoleezza Rice called him just after the outbreak of the war and conveyed to him the up-to-date American orders : it was indeed desired that Israel should deal a crushing blow to Hizbullah, the enemies of Siniora, but it was absolutely forbidden to do anything that would hurt Siniora, such as bombing Lebanese infrastructure outside Hizbullah’s territory.
That emasculated the General Staff’s plans. The main idea had been that if the civilian population in Lebanon was hurt sufficiently, it would put pressure on the government to act decisively against Hizbullah, enough to liquidate the organization or, at least, to disarm it. It is very doubtful whether this strategy would have succeeded if it had been carried out, but because of the American intervention it was not carried out.
Instead of the massive bombardment that would have destroyed the basic industries and facilities, Halutz had to be satisfied – after Condeleezza’s phone call – with bombing the roads and bridges that serve Hizbullah and the Shiite population (including the supply lines for Syrian arms to Hizbullahland.) The damage was extensive, but not sufficient to bring Lebanon to its knees – if that was at all possible. Apart from that, the air force succeeded in destroying some of the long-range missiles, but the short-range missiles were not hit, and it was those that created havoc among the population in northern Israel.
On the ground, the operation was even more confused. Only during the last 48 hours of the war, when it was already clear that the cease-fire was about to come into force, was the major offensive, in which 33 Israeli soldiers died, set in motion. What for? In his testimony, Olmert asserts that it was necessary in order to change some points in the UN resolution in Israel’s favor. We know today (as we said at the time) that these changes were worthless and they remained on paper.
THE INTERVENTION of Condoleezza Rice in the conduct of the war is interesting also in another respect. It sheds light on a question that has been engaging the experts for some time now: in the relationship between the United States and Israel, do American interests override Israeli, or is it the other way round?
This discussion came to a head when the American professors, Stephen Walt and John Mearsheimer, published their research paper, according to which Israel imposes on the United States a policy that is contrary to the American national interest. The conclusion upset many who believe the opposite: that Israel is but a small wheel in the imperial American machine. (I permitted myself to argue that both versions are right: the American dog wags its Israeli tail, and the Israeli tail wags the American dog.)
When Condoleezza Rice encouraged Israel to go to war but vetoed an essential part of the war plan, it seems that she proved the two professors wrong. True, Olmert got American permission for his war, which served American interests (the elimination of Hizbullah, which opposed the pro-American Siniora government, though it officially belonged to it), but only with severe limitations (in order not to hurt the Siniora government).
THE SAME principle is now operating on the Syrian front.
Bashar al-Assad offers Israel peace negotiations without prior conditions. This way, he hopes to avert an American attack on his country. Like the two professors, he believes that the Israeli lobby rules Washington.
Almost all the important experts in Israel are in agreement that the Syrian offer is serious. Even in “security circles” some are urging Olmert to seize the opportunity and achieve peace in the north.
But the Americans have put an absolute veto on that, which Olmert has accepted. A vital Israeli interest has been sacrificed on the American altar. Even now, when Bush is already entering into some kind of a dialog with Syria, the Americans are prohibiting us from doing the same.
Why? Very simple: the Americans are using us as a threat. They hold us on a line, like an attack dog, and tell Assad: if you don’t do as we wish, we shall release the dog.
If the Americans reach an agreement with the Syrians, using this threat among others, it is they who will garner the political profits from any accord we reach with Syria in the end.
That reminds me of the events of 1973. After the October war, Israeli-Egyptian cease-fire negotiations started at km 101 (from Cairo). At some stage, General Israel Tal took over as the chief of the Israeli delegation. Much later, he told me the following story:
“At a certain point, General Gamasy, the Egyptian representative, approached and told me that Egypt was now ready to sign an agreement with us. Full of joy, I took a plane and rushed to (Prime Minister) Golda Meir, to bring her the happy news. But Golda told me to stop everything immediately. She said to me: I have promised Henry Kissinger that if we arrive at an agreement, we shall transfer the whole matter to him, and he will tie up the loose ends.”
And that is what happened, of course. The negotiations at km 101 were stopped, and Kissinger took control of the scene. It was he who reached the agreement, and the US was credited with it. The Egyptians became loyal followers of the US. The Israeli-Egyptian agreement was postponed for five years. It was achieved by Anwar Sadat, who planned his historic flight to Jerusalem behind the backs of the Americans.
Now the same may happen on the Syrian front. In the best case. In the worst case, the Americans will not reach an agreement with the Syrians, they will prevent us from achieving an agreement for ourselves, and thousands of Israelis, Syrians and Lebanese will pay the price in the next war.

* An Israeli author and activist. He is the head of the Israeli peace movement, “Gush Shalom”.

March 11th, 2007, 7:39 am


Mo said:

Thanks Alex,

I personally think that the talks on Iraq will be decisive for regional peace and stability. Failure will mean war, somewhere, or at least dangerous escalation.

I am troubled by the recurrence of contradicting news from Israel: every now and then, for a couple of months now, Syria is preparing for war, Syria is NOT preparing for war, Syria is mobilizing, Syria is on a state of alert, Syria doesn’t want war, etc. This reminds me of the pre-67 political climate and allegations against Egypt and Syria back then, I hope history does not repeat itself here..

Another strange thing: I mean, have you noticed the remarkably high frequency of Syrian-Iranian meetings lately? Every other day there is a visit in one direction or the other: 2 weeks ago Assad in Teheran, 3 days ago the Iranian vice-president, yesterday the Iranian Minister of Defense in Syria, the Syrian PM to Iran next week…

Something is going on, I don’t know what.

March 11th, 2007, 8:17 am


ausamaa said:


I believe that the professional Israeli Top echolon knows exactly what Syria wants. But they are not sure what they want. Not sure of themselves. Or how to respond. They inflated their own Ego so much and then it blew up on the hilltops of Southern Lebanon. So now they are in a state of confusion and denial. The talks about Syrian Army redeployment, rearmament and reconfigoration is six month old, but it is being repeated now over and over again. They cry wolf, then they hold a hearing in the kenesset on Contacts with Syria. They telling the Arabs: We are thinking about a peacefull exit, and at the same time telling the outside world: Syria is preparing to have a replay on the Golan of the July war. Disillusion, Self-dillusion and Fear can result in sever health hazzards if taken together.

As to the stepping up of Iranian-Syrian contacts, it sure serves two purposes;1) better understanding and coordination at a critical juncture, and 2, projecting a solid unbreakable alliance to the outsuide. And maybe the Iranians have given up an extra little to appease the Saudies on a certain issue, and they are trying to make it up and to reassure Syria in other areas.

Notice that remark: ” What Iran posseses in Deffensive capabilities are Syria’s”. Let Haloutz’s successor decipher that one and reach his own conclusions.

What could be interesting now is what form will Syrian-Egyptian relations take. Egypt does not really like to be shoved aside by SA. Actually, the whole string of contacts and events had demonstrated how marginal Egypt roll has become. Would they soallow their pride and play along despite their disappointment, or will they try to assert themselves in other ways.

March 11th, 2007, 11:06 am


Hootsbuddy said:

I’m a bit late to this long thread, but I would like to leave two points.

In the strict political frame of reference the argument against consocialism is compelling. It does, in fact, institutionalize what is clearly an unbalanced, distorted representation of mathematical demographic facts. I might add that at the lower edge it may, in fact, insure immortality for some positions which might otherwise die a politically overdue “natural death.” But as long as elements of the co-called “governed” wield militia power all discussions about political fairness are moot.

That’s right. According to the rules of debate, a “super-majority” (which is constitutionally mandated in a few specific cases, incidentally) can be invoked by filibuster, a procedural device by which a debate must be stopped by “cloture.” This has the effect of giving a minority position protection against a “tyranny of the majority,” which is what consociationalism is all about. Over time all parties have had an opportunity to do away with the filibuster, but it survives because when those times are opportune, the party able to do the deed remembers when it was used by themselves.

A day will come when consociational features can be laid aside, but I don’t think it is next week.

March 11th, 2007, 12:16 pm


ausamaa said:

HOOTSBUDDY….Come again?

March 11th, 2007, 1:12 pm


Alex said:

MO, there is more from the Israeli press this morning:

Signs of mounting Syrian belligerence make the top headline in
Yedioth Ahronoth this morning. Alex Fishman reports that Damascus sent
Jerusalem stern warnings that it would not tolerate Israeli jets flying
in Syrian airspace any more and would “respond with fire,” if put to the
Fishman contextualizes this most recent statement with a change
that has developed in the Syrian attitude towards Israel in the
aftermath of the second Lebanon War. Fishman asserts that “the military
option has been restored to the Syrian lexicon,” and backs this up with
a quote from Ephraim Inbar, an Israeli scholar at the Begin Sadat Center
for Strategic Studies, whom he quotes as saying: “it could be that Assad
is preparing himself for a low-intensity war, a type of war in which
Syria fires a few rockets at Israel without causing an all-out war with
Israel. Syria has invested in the past number of years in anti-aircraft
weaponry, missiles, rockets and bunkers.” The Yedioth Ahronoth report
comes against the backdrop of official Israeli denials of an Agence
France-Presse report about heightened Syrian rocket and missile
deployment along the border with Israel and other signs of mounting
pugnacious intent.

March 11th, 2007, 5:47 pm


Gibran said:

In a typical Landis character of mixing facts with fiction, He states without reference to facts that the Shia of Lebanon constitute 40% of the population and are treated as ‘slaves’. According to a recent study by Al-Jazeera (a well known Pro-Syrian/Pro-Hezbollah news network), these are the statistics:

Voters according to sectarian affiliation (drawn from recent government polling records):

Sunnis 795233 %26.44
Shia 783903 %26.06
Druze 169293 %5.63
Maronite 667556 %22.19
Orthodox 236406 %7.86
Catholic 156521 %5.2
Armenians (Orthodox) 90675 %3.01
Armenians (Catholics) 20217 %0.67
Evangelical 17409 %0.58
Minorities 47018 %1.56
Alawites 23696 %0.79

Please see:

Now the Shia have 27 members of parliament – equal in number to the number of MPs accorded to the Sunnis that outnumber the Shia. The Shia also have the position of the speaker of parliament which is the second highest authority in the country. With all this power in the hands of Lebanese Shia, Joshua still has the guts to call them Slaves. That’s Landis the wonderful academic boy from America!

Now, who would be the obstructionist in this case? Obviously, Hezbollah has a different agenda than a so-called unjustifiable redress of political power sharing. As long as Hezbollah answers to its patrons in Damascus and Tehran, it will be looked upon as a traitor organization. Nasrallah has betrayed Lebanon and sold his soul to the devils of Tehran and Damascus. He and his group of thugs have no place in Lebanese politics. When the dust settles they will be shipped across the border to go and cohort with their despot-likes: Bashar and Ahmedinejad.

Lebanon is a Democratic and Free State. There is no room in Lebanon for despotism or to the day dreamers of the Wilayat al-Faqih of Iran.

Now, we would like to give Mr. Landis a little lesson in Lebanese politics which he seems to be unaware of. If you go through the above statistics you will find that the Muslims combined (Sunnis, Shia, Druze, etc) are roughly 60% of Lebanon’s population. The Christians on the other hand account for about 40% of the population. The number of MP’s accorded to the Muslims is 64 and that’s exactly the same number accorded to the Christians. You may wonder why is it so? Why don’t the Muslims insist on 77 MPs (that’s 60% of 128) and allow the Christians 51 (that’s 40% of 128 MPs)? Well, Mr. Landis you have to remember a fundamental fact about the way Lebanon was created in the early 1920s. There is an unwritten code among the Lebanese which recognizes the absolute balance of power among the two major religions in Lebanon (Muslims and Christians i.e.). No power on earth can override this unwritten code – not Bashar, not Ahmedinejad, not Nasrallah, not Olmert, not Bush, not Abdallah and none whatsoever. It is a mutual recognition given by the major denominations to each other that ensures the balance of representation in the running of the State regardless of statistical fluctuations of population numbers.

March 11th, 2007, 6:26 pm


Samir said:

gibran i agree ,but u should avoid to say that hezbollah is pro syrian ,they are pro mukhabarat,if tommorow the regime in syria is changed ,they will be anti syria.

March 11th, 2007, 6:33 pm


3antar said:

lets not jump into conclusion here… Al-Jaseera is pro syrian and hizbollah? had no idea. and or ur sake, if it is, would that make its data hold any credibility? not helping your argument here mate.
perhaps landis doesnt use Al-jaseera as a source of information for his articles.
different sources across the web have different information that closely match 40% or over.

also,Gibran, please refrain from starting your comment with “Typical Landis …. bla bla bla”
your not doing yourself or anything you say after that any favours , and attacking someone’s character instead of getting to the point or even dealing with it, is such a playground, tired, overused cliché.

“The answer to all your questions is Syria – except for Sabra and Shatilla and who marked the way to Sharon (it was Amal by the way and the records are available) You know Syria was in Lebanon during all this time”
records? what records? are you bluffing again? yes we know syria was in lebanon, but where was Israel, in Hawaii? cant choose the facts that suit you and leave out others.. its not a way to go through life matey.

March 11th, 2007, 7:41 pm


Samir said:

3antar give us scientific surveys,the recent surveys proved that the lebanese sunnis outnumber the lebanese shias.

March 11th, 2007, 8:38 pm


Akbar Palace said:

Alex states:

“Gibran, here is your proof

Jews of any nationality are not allowed

Next time, just trust me.”

Well Alex,

I see we have a sub-thread concerning “Jews”, and, of course, it usually peaks my interest to see what mythology surfaces whenever the word “Jew” pops up. It’s really so entertaining!

We can thank Professor Josh for such high academic standards!

Well, sorry to burst your bubble, but a number of Jews have visited Saudi Arabia. They sat in Saudi Arabian chairs, ate on Saudi Arabian plates, and who konws, maybe they even prayed to G-d in Saudia Arabian Airspace.

Henry Kissinger is just one such example, I don’t know if Madeline Albright counts, but I’m willing to bet a number of other high ranking Jews have been there. So much for “rules and regulations”.

I guess when a bigot needs a Jew, they find ways of bending the law.

And now a small anecdote. I’ve been to both Kuwait and the UAE. Both places at one time or another forbade any Jew to enter the country either for business or pleasure. Because I was there for business, my company security officer told me NOT to say I was Jewish if asked. We were told of stories where Christian workers were suddenly denied visas because their names sounded Jewish.

I think the conclusion I draw from all of this is that the Middle East has such a long way to go. Naturally, I’m glad this forum is around with such open minded individuals; perhaps this forum can initiate some badly needed change;)

I recall driving back to my hotel late one night through the desert in the UAE. As I turned the AM radio dial, I heard an Israeli news program in Hebrew. I wonder if there was something illegal about that. It certainly was strange. Welcome to the 21st Century!

March 11th, 2007, 10:06 pm


Gibran said:

I don’t think Landis needs your support to speak on his behalf. On the other hand, no one is telling you to write in any particular style. So, refrain from lecturing others.
Regarding your links, I’d be more inclined to believe government voting records (the source of AlJazeera study in this case and that’s why it can be considered reliable even though every one knows but you that AlJazeera is Pro-Syria/Pro-Hezbollah) than some haphazard estimates that are baseless – the type of information that Landis relies on in his typical character of mixing facts with fiction. As you may well know voting records are very important to every group in Lebanon because that’s how power is decided in the end. If there is any problem with the record’s accuracy, there would have been big trouble at the time of elections which was certified by independent organizations with regards to its transperancy.

Of course Akbar, many more Jews than the ones you mentioned visit SA, they breathe the air, pray on SA soil and engage in various business activities. Alex and FP are just eager to discredit SA on any thing they can lay their hands on. We always have to remember we are in a special spot called the Landis blogspot of slyness and fiction=fact virtual reality of the wonder boy of academia in the heartland of America. Very soon, I’d say, if everything goes as hoped with regards to peace plans, the Jews will be welcome with open arms both in SA and in Lebanon.

March 11th, 2007, 10:20 pm


Syrian said:

Aljazeera powerpoint is a scientific survey. Copy information from poorly documents BBC and CIA sources and publish without any explanation of how the data was collected or arrived at. This must be the new frontier of scientific research. When did the scientific method get revised.

all of these are the library of congress studies (the third one) and guess what (41% Shi’a.)

March 11th, 2007, 10:27 pm


Gibran said:

Please see my reply above to 3antar. It has answers to your questions.
On the other hand, a Syrian like you should be more concerned about Syrian statistics than Lebanese ones. Should I remind you that the Alawi clan of Bashar represents less than a fraction of 10% of Syria’s population? There are Christians in Syria that may number around 10% of the population and they keep complaining about their status being close to third class. Syria’s Sunnis, on the other hand, are more than 75% of the population and they seem to be the most qualified to rule Syria than a bunch of corrupt Alawis. So, I’d suggest you go and redress this huge imbalance of power sharing in Syria before attempting to deal with disseminating baseless statistics of a country that enjoys far greater degree of freedom and Democracy than your country which would need eons to emulate.

March 11th, 2007, 10:53 pm


simohurtta said:

Voters according to sectarian affiliation (drawn from recent government polling records):

Sunnis 795233 %26.44
Shia 783903 %26.06
Druze 169293 %5.63
Maronite 667556 %22.19…

I do not think that this poll proves anything of the present situation. Polls are always based on the best know situation of the populations distribution. In Lebanon’s case there is hardly a up-to-date bas data for reliable polls, because there has not been a population census for a long time. Naturally the government made polls follow the population distribution on which the whole political system is based. It would be rather astonishing if the government’s polls would be based on a different population distribution. It would be an admission of a long public “lie”.

A modern society needs population censuses for many reasons. If Gibran there is nothing to hide why not organize a desperately needed census. Then also the Lebanon’s internal politics would be much easier.

March 11th, 2007, 11:08 pm


ugarit said:

Not sure how reliable the source is but here goes:

“كشفت مصادر اسرائيلية امس عن ان الرئيس السوري بشار الاسد اعطى ضوءاً اخضر للدكتور ابراهيم سليمان (الوسيط السوري بين اسرائيل وسورية) كي يزور اسرائيل رسمياً«. ونقل موقع »الحقيقة« الالكتروني السوري عن المصادر الاسرائيلية قولها ان سليمان ابلغ وزارة الخارجية الاسرائيلية بأن الرئيس السوري »شجعه على الذهاب الى اسرائيل لشرح الموقف السوري من السلام”


March 11th, 2007, 11:12 pm


ugarit said:

Voter polls don’t necessarily reflect the actual distribution of the population. Disenfranchised populations generally don’t vote in large numbers, at least this is the case in the USA and perhaps in Lebanon. As an example, elections in the USA are generally for the better to do economically, since the USA doesn’t give that day off to voters. Perhaps this is by design when it comes to the USA.

March 11th, 2007, 11:16 pm


Gibran said:

You obviously did not witness any Lebanese elections. All eligible voters go to the polls. It is a matter of life and death to the candidates who will ensure that each and every member of their community gets to a polling station one way or another. Now if the voter has a piece of ID proving his eligibility, there is no one in the world that can prevent him from getting on the record and cast his vote.
Now, I’d say after saying all that what I said to SYRIAN. Go and fix the huge imblance of power sharing in Syria. You have no business deciding how Lebanon should run its internal affairs. Lebanese system of power sharing is equitable, fair and democratic unlike your despotic Syria.

March 11th, 2007, 11:20 pm


Syrian said:


Catholics represent around 20-25% of US population. Accordingly, John F. Kennedy was not a legitimate president.

Bashar is as much an Alawi as I am a Muslim. The fact that the Alawi’s represent 12-13% of Syrian population is irrelevant. Bashar is Syrian and is therefore entitled to the Presidency of the country as any other Syrian. (i.e. I would not feel any better about the Syrian situation if the Dictator was a Sunni)

The problem that most Syrians (at least around here) have with the Syrian government is its inability to provide adequately for the freedom and economic survival of its citizens. Howver, should the Syrian economy and the standard of living start to improve, and the political environment is liberalized to some degree, I find it doubtful that many Syrians will have much of a reason to object to the rule of Bashar.

You lose sight of the fact that, unlike Lebanon, Syria’s political system is not based on sectarian division of power.

Where are those Christian Syrians who complain about being treated as third class citizens. Most Syrian Christians I have met have a much better standard of living in Syria than the majority of Sunni’s. Christians are not prevented from practicing their religion enywhere in Syria. I remember the Church Bells ringing throughout Damascus when I was a kid. I never heard a bell in the US and I live right next to a church.

If you think that there is an imbalance of power between Sunnis and Alawis in Syria I suggest you look more closely and you will find that the Alawis, in general, are not any better off under this government.


YOU brought up the electoral makeup of lebanon here on a SYRIAN Blog. So you were warranted a response. (I would not actually care less about the Lebanese electoral makeup and you can trust that I will not lose any sleep over this statistical discrepency) And if the Library of Congress statistics are baseless then I don’t know what you would consider a valid source.

March 11th, 2007, 11:24 pm


Syrian said:


Actually, an employer are legally required to accomodate an employee who wants to vote in the US.

If you meant its not automatically a paid day of then you would be correct.

March 11th, 2007, 11:28 pm


Syrian said:


Despite the open and transparent election-day process, voter turnout throughout the country was very low. The low turnout was due partly to the extensive pre-election arrangements made between various coalitions of candidates. Some voters perceived that the electoral process and laws were flawed, and therefore chose to stay home. As well, the lack of national political parties transcending sectarian loyalties could be responsible for the scarcity of discussion of concrete issues in the election campaign. This also may have precluded wide voter participation. It was noted that problems with security, highlighted by the tragic assassination of journalist Samir Kassir, still exist.


March 11th, 2007, 11:33 pm


Gibran said:

You got everything wrong. First, I referred to the Alawi clan of the Assads. Obviously, there are more Alawis than just this Assad clan. So, I’m not talking about all the Alawis. Second, I only brought up the issue of the Lebanese political power sharing system on a blog named SyriaComment because the owner of the blog brought up the subject. Go back and read what Landis is talking about. He is talking about what he perceives wrongly an imbalance of power sharing in Lebanon based on false presumptions. So your remark should be directed not to me but to Dr. Landis; and perhaps you should have asked him to refrain from raising Lebanese issues that have no relevance to the issues of his blog.
Now he is not going to sell the idea of Hezbollah being an organization seeking to redress a ‘downtrodden’ group as he claims and not warrant a response.

As for Syrian Christians, there is at least one Syrian Christian on this blog who keeps referring to his Syrian co-religionists as third class citizens. Why don’t you discourse with him and convince him otherwise?

March 11th, 2007, 11:36 pm


Syrian said:

“Should I remind you that the Alawi clan of Bashar represents less than a fraction of 10% of Syria’s population?” Lets say that they represent only 8% of the population. By your definition the family is comprised of nearly 1.3 million people. I would say that is the largest family in Syria and they are entitled to the presidency.

Except when Dr. Landis says the Shi’a are 40% of the population he is backed up by every credible statistical source available. Your source was Aljazeera deriving statistics in an unspecified manner from undocumented BBC and CIA sources (No links to where the info came from.)

You argued that everyone in Lebanon votes yet there is the report from the Canadian Observation Mission to Lebanon whose job was to observe the elections and they say LOW VOTER TURNOUT. So you would claim that the Canadian Observation Mission to Lebanon is comprised of Syrian and Hizbollah stooges and regime apologists??? get real man.

March 11th, 2007, 11:47 pm


ugarit said:

Syrian said: “Actually, an employer are legally required to accomodate an employee who wants to vote in the US.

If you meant its not automatically a paid day of then you would be correct.”

That may be the case but blue collar workers generally can’t wield that kind of power over an employer. US elections are fraught with corruption so it’s unlikely an economically disenfranshiesed employee is going to be listened to when whole states are destroying votes. In addition, voting is from 7 am to 7 pm, which posses another problem for many Americans.

March 11th, 2007, 11:55 pm


Gibran said:

Now, before I tell you and tell Dr. Landis to restrict your concerns to Syrian statistics, I’ll ask you to add the list of voters as shown above. The answer you’ll arrive at is 3,007,927 Lebanese voters.
Now the population of Lebanon is around 3,500,000.
It should be easy for a genius like you to admit that roughly 10%-15% of the population is underage and thus is ineligible to vote. That leaves 3,000,000 to 3,150,000 eligible voters. I’d say based on these calculations the voter’s turnout would be 95% to 100% of eligible voters.

Now, you are becoming ridiculous, SYRIAN; and the same applies to Dr. Landis. So, go and take care of your Syrian statistics.

March 11th, 2007, 11:57 pm


ugarit said:

Syrian said : “The fact that the Alawi’s represent 12-13% of Syrian population is irrelevant. Bashar is Syrian and is therefore entitled to the Presidency of the country as any other Syrian. (i.e. I would not feel any better about the Syrian situation if the Dictator was a Sunni)”

Excellent! That’s the way we should all be thinking. Let’s not be parochially sectarian as the many Lebanese are.

March 12th, 2007, 12:01 am


Gibran said:

Yes, we would like to be sectarians, but Free and Democratic and PROUD of it, rather than being Syrian slaves of a dictator despot representing a corrupt minority of Alawis that count less than 1% of Syria.

March 12th, 2007, 12:05 am


ugarit said:

Gibran claims: “It should be easy for a genius like you to admit that roughly 10%-15% of the population is underage and thus is ineligible to vote. That leaves 3,000,000 to 3,150,000 eligible voters. I’d say based on these calculations the voter’s turnout would be 95% to 100%.”

Checkout CIA‘s Lebanon stats and you’ll see that Lebanon’s 0-14 year olds constitute 26.5% of the population. I assume Lebanon’s voting age is 18 years; therefore, it’s closer to 30% who cannot vote. In addition, poorer segments of the population have higher birth rates and hence a younger population for that segment.

March 12th, 2007, 12:11 am


Alex said:


Gibran, and all the demcoracy lovers are focused! … anything you bring to their attention that does not perfectly fit their initial opinions is a waste of their time and a threat to their ability to continue being focused!

Gibran habibi … Just for fun, let’s try one more time:

Do you still believe in your earlier statement: “You obviously did not witness any Lebanese elections. All eligible voters go to the polls. It is a matter of life and death”?

Syrian … at least we should be thankful that today there are no scary news like last week’s news of what’s his name going to Cairo… that was the appetizer .. main plate was coming, I wonder when.

March 12th, 2007, 12:17 am


ugarit said:

Gibran said: “Joshua Landis (An Alawi Propagandist),”

So if he were a “Sunni” propagandist that would be ok simply because Sunnis are the majority? I guess if he were a propagandist for SA that would be ok because they’re ruled by an enlightened group of people who come from the majority.

Drop the sectarianism and evolve.

March 12th, 2007, 12:19 am


Alex said:

Bush urges Iran, Syria to act on vow to help end Iraq violence
By Reuters

U.S. President George W. Bush called on Iran and Syria on Sunday to back up with action their promises to help end the violence in Iraq and praised a regional conference in Baghdad as a good start.

A day after delegates from the United States and Iraq’s regional neighbors met on Saturday, Iran said it had backed any efforts to quell violence in Iraq and described the regional meeting as a “good step.”

Syrian state-controlled newspapers said Damascus supported a “political solution” to end violence in Iraq.

Bush, who believes both Iran and Syria are stirring trouble in Iraq, said he wanted action because “words are easy to say in politics and international diplomacy.”

“There’s all kinds of ways to measure whether they are serious about the words they utter. We of course welcome those words. Those are nice statements, and now they can act on them,” Bush said at news conference with Colombian President Alvaro Uribe in Bogota

March 12th, 2007, 12:29 am


Gibran said:

Oooh what is it UGARIT? Did you say evolve? You forgot a ‘d’ obviously. I’d say you probably meant devolve to the status of slavery to an Alawi minority of a minority clan of corrupt despots. No thank you M’am.
Sunnis and SA would not hire anyone like Landis to spread propaganda on their behalf even at the cost of his daily bread. He is doing such a lousy job defending his Alawi Masters. Who would hire him?
O’ and by the way, if you take your %26 to %30 underage voters as the correct figure, then the calculations will bring the number of voter’s turn out closer to %100. I’ll leave that to you to figure out. Again, you too are becoming ridiculous. So after finishing the calculations go and do some Syrian statistics.

March 12th, 2007, 12:35 am


Alex said:

Akbar Palace,

Thank you for reminding me that Kissinger can get a visa to Saudi Arabia if he wanted : )

What Gibran does not realize is that I do not see things in Black and White … when it comes to Saudi Arabia I have stated many times that I respect both Saud Al-Faisal and Turki AL-Faisal … King Abdullah is not bad either, despite few things.

I am not a fan of most of the others… sorry Gibran.

March 12th, 2007, 12:40 am


Gibran said:

Well what should I say to you Alex? Do you think any of the Saud members would care the least about the opinion of some aliased Alex? Positive, negative or neutral.

March 12th, 2007, 1:01 am


Syrian said:


Parliamentary elections > Registered voter turnout: 45%


Then the Lebanese population must have been mis-calculated. There are actually 9 million inhabitants in Lebanon distributed along the percentages specified in Aljazeera.

March 12th, 2007, 1:04 am


Gibran said:

Olmert is ready for peace

Olmert backs regional summit to discuss Saudi peace initiative

By Gideon Alon, Haaretz Correspondent

Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said Sunday that Israel was willing to treat the 2002 Saudi peace initiative “seriously,” and said he supports a regional summit to discuss the plan.

“We have said more than once that the Saudi initiative is a matter which we would be ready to treat seriously and we have not altered our position,” Olmert said at the start of the weekly cabinet meeting.

“We hope very much that at the meeting of heads of Arab states to take place in Riyadh, the positive elements expressed in the Saudi initiative will be revalidated and will perhaps improve the chances of negotiation between us and the Palestinian Authority.”


The Saudi initiative calls for normalization of ties between Israel and the entire Arab world in return for an Israeli withdrawal to the pre-1967 boundaries, as well as an “agreed, just solution to the problem of Palestinian refugees in conformity with [UN] Resolution 194.”

The is the first time that the prime minister has backed a regional dialogue on the Saudi plan, although he has previously commented on its “positive elements.”

Abbas, meeting Saturday with MK Ahmed Tibi (United Arab List-Ta’al), reiterated that no changes will be made to the Saudi initiative – as called for by Israel – but urged critics of the plan to explore the initiative before ruling it out.

The initiative is set to be relaunched at the Arab League meeting at the end of the month. It was first adopted by the League at a summit in Beirut in March 2002.

Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni has expressed hopes that changes be made to the initiative, addressing specifically the document’s section on the Palestinian refugees, which was not part of the initial Saudi draft, but was added at the 2002 Beirut summit.

Arab League Secretary-General Amr Moussa has also stressed that no changes will be made to the current format of the initiative.

Now, don’t be overly too ridiculous. Even if the voters turnout was 45% for the sake of the argument, it only means not evryone on the list cast his vote. The percentage composition of the Lebanese would not change as shown by the voter’s list. Now go and take care of some Syrian statistics – bring some liberty, democracy, freedom to your country man. Leave Lebanon alone, it is Democtratic and Free already.

March 12th, 2007, 1:06 am


Syrian said:


I thought we were not to discuss the Mitri affair until you know who gave direction on how they want us to spin it.

March 12th, 2007, 1:11 am


Samir said:

It’s very dangerous for shias to compete with sunnis in the region,they are and will remain a small minority in the islamic and arab world, so sooner or later they will pay heavily their mistakes if they chose to compete with the majority and to be executors of a foreigner agenda.
And if that happen ,then dont be surprised if again they greet with rice the israeli army.
The lebanese sunnis have relatives inside Syria,many are married to syrians and palestinians..100 000’s of syrians and palestinians are resident in Lebanon.
So there is several facts which are not in favour of the shias of lebanon,they are geographicaly isolated in a small land ,they dont have family ties outside lebanon ,even not in Syria.

March 12th, 2007, 1:12 am


Syrian said:


Sorry you need to take your ball and go home.

March 12th, 2007, 1:13 am


Gibran said:

Sorry SYRIAN you seem so ridiculous. It is unbelievable. I thought you have brains. It is more like hay inside. O’ did you say 9 million inhabitants in Lebanon? If that’s the case, what should the Lebanese fear? We can easily build a 1 million man army and march on Syria to liberate it from its dictator. I wish.

March 12th, 2007, 1:19 am


Syrian said:

Dear Moron,

45% voter turnout and 3,000,000 voters leaves number of eligible voters at 6,666,666. With 25% of the population not eligible to vote means total population of 8,888,888 people. Now either population is 3.5 million with voter turnout of 45% makes aljazeera numbers suspect (at least how you chose to use them) or all the problems cited by others in using those numbers are valid. EITHER WAY YOU ARE WRONG ABOUT THE SHI’A BEING 27% OF THE LEBANESE POPULATION. Where on the SLIDE you referenced do you see the source as the official government voter list. IT CLEARLY SAYS SOURCE BBC WEBSITE AND CIA WORLD FACTBOOK OR DO YOU NOT READ ARABIC.

March 12th, 2007, 1:28 am


Samir said:

Lebanese Muslims outnumber Christians’

November 13 2006 at 03:39PM

By Alistair Lyon, Special Correspondent

Beirut – Lebanon’s political system, which is once again in crisis, aims to share power equally between Christians and Muslims, but a survey published on Monday shows that Christians form only 35 percent of the population.

Private statistician Youssef al-Duweihi, a Maronite Christian, said his figures were based on identity registration records and electoral rolls throughout the country.

“This is scientific, not political,” he told Reuters by telephone from his north Lebanon home. “I want to tell the Lebanese this is Lebanon and if there is a problem, resolve it.”

According to his survey, published in the independent an-Nahar newspaper, Lebanon has 4,855-million people, of whom just over 35 percent are Christian, 29 percent Shi’a Muslim, 29 percent Sunni Muslim and 5 percent Druze.

Such figures are so sensitive in Lebanon that the last official census was conducted in 1932 during the French Mandate, which said Christians made up 55 percent of the population.

Duweihi, a mathematician, said his survey showed Lebanon’s demography was at odds with the power-sharing setup. “It’s time to discuss the political system and the electoral law,” he said.

His figures appeared at a time of political crisis that pits an anti-Syrian majority coalition government against the Shi’a Hezbollah and Amal factions backed by a Christian group.

If Prime Minister Fouad Siniora’s government falls, there may be calls for new parliamentary elections, reopening controversy over how to reform a Syrian-designed electoral law that most Lebanese leaders say should be scrapped.

The Taif agreement which ended the 1975-90 civil war modified the complex religious power-sharing system, set up at the birth of modern Lebanon in 1943. Taif gave Muslims and Christians equal representation in parliament instead of the 6 to 5 advantage Christians had enjoyed previously.

It stipulated that the president should remain a Maronite, the prime minister a Sunni and the parliament speaker a Shi’a, while calling for the eventual abolition of the system that distributes state posts among Lebanon’s 17 recognised sects.

Duweihi’s figures show the number of Lebanese entitled to passports, not the number actually residing in the country. Lebanon also hosts more than 400 000 Palestinian refugees and a substantial number of Syrian and other guest workers.

Abdo Saad, the director of the Beirut Centre for Research and Information, said Duweihi’s results appeared “reasonable”, but added that he did not know what methodology he had used.

Saad said he had had access to Interior Ministry figures in 2000, which showed Christians made up about 33 percent of the population, Shi’as 31,5 percent and Sunnis about 30 percent.

March 12th, 2007, 1:39 am


Alex said:


No, nothing dramatic, you’re right.

But this blog by “landis” that you are not too impressed with, happens to be very well read. For example, here is one place my piece last week was copied as is;

Saudi Arabia and the Arab Summit

Syria’s relationship with Saudi Arabia has been strained at best since Syrian president Bashar al-Asad’s August 15, 2006, speech in which he railed against Arab leaders who did not support Hizballah in the war against Israel — notably Saudi Arabia, Jordan, and Egypt. Asad described such leaders as “half men.” The deterioration in their relations has been compounded by Syria’s suspected involvement in the killing of Hariri, a Saudi citizen, and by Syria’s implication of Saudi Arabia in the September 2006 attack on the U.S. embassy in Damascus. In December, Syrian vice president Farouk al-Shara attributed the strain to personal reasons: “We Arabs become angry and calm down quickly.” In Saudi eyes, his statement trivialized the depth of the problems between the two states.

Most recently, the relationship suffered a flare-up after a caustic op-ed appeared in the Saudi-owned London daily al-Sharq al-Awsat. Although the newspaper consistently reflects the Saudi position on issues, and is notoriously anti-Syrian, Abdul Rahman al-Rashid’s March 4 article pushed the envelope. A former editor of the paper, he outlined Saudi grievances — including Asad’s August speech and Syrian attempts to bring down the Lebanese government — and claimed Syria had lost nearly everything in the Middle East as a result of its leadership’s inexperience and miscalculations. He added that Syria was even risking its alliance with Iran and predicted the upcoming Arab Summit could not save Syria from a dark future.

For its part, Damascus has sought to project a very different image. According to Syrian sources, Saudi King Abdullah sent Asad a personal invitation to the Arab Summit via an emissary in February. Asad assured the emissary that he would attend and conveyed his personal respect for the king and the importance of the Saudi-Syrian relationship. The summit will include separate bilateral talks between Abdullah and Asad. In the wake of the invitation, the Syrian media has shown a noticeably more positive tone toward Saudi Arabia.

March 12th, 2007, 2:03 am


Gibran said:

Dear Hay-Packed SYRIAN
Assuming %45 of voter turnout as you claimed, means out of a total of 3,007,927 eligible voters as on government records only 1,353,567 cast their votes (3,007,927 * 45% = 1,353,567). That leaves the total number of eligible voters at 3,007,927 and would leave the percentage composition of voters as in the voter’s list.
Now, I am not sure you can do any good to your country with so much hay packed under your skull. Let some other brighter Syrian take care. But, please get the hell out of Lebanese statistics affairs, will you? You don’t even know how to multiply!

Thanks Samir for the important information in your latest post. Perhaps, Landis and his chorus will reflect and come back to their senses. But to tell you the truth, I doubt these ideologues would listen to reason.

March 12th, 2007, 2:04 am


Syrian said:


You keep referring to the voter list. Where the hell is the voter list. What you referred to is slide that is based on the BBC and CIA world fact book and that is presented with no description of how it was contructed. We presented you with sources that are as credible as any that can be found on the web that Says the Shi’a represent 40 percent of the Lebanese population but you keep referring to this mythical voter list. Even Samir’s article shows an estimated distribution of registered voters based on the 2000 interior ministry records. If you were a disenfranchised shi’a why would you bother to register to vote. If you already know who is going to win the election because a big chunk of the parliamentary seats were won by default, why would you bother register to vote and then vote anyway. Are you really so ideologically driven to continue to deny that there is a tragic under-representation of a Lebanese sector of society or are you just too dump to understand the difference between voting, voting registrations and population?

March 12th, 2007, 2:16 am


Gibran said:

Courtesy of Samir above:
“Private statistician Youssef al-Duweihi, a Maronite Christian, said his figures were based on identity registration records and electoral rolls throughout the country.

“This is scientific, not political,” he told Reuters by telephone from his north Lebanon home. “I want to tell the Lebanese this is Lebanon and if there is a problem, resolve it.”

According to his survey, published in the independent an-Nahar newspaper, Lebanon has 4,855-million people, of whom just over 35 percent are Christian, 29 percent Shi’a Muslim, 29 percent Sunni Muslim and 5 percent Druze.”

Now buzz off stupid SYRIAN.

March 12th, 2007, 2:23 am


Syrian said:

By the way, I did not claim anything about voter turnout. The 45% figure comes from a documented web source, if you bother to click the link you will see that they have all kinds of statistics about all kinds of countries. For example it states

Parliamentary elections > Turnout: 0.0% (1998)

for syria. No one here will doubt this number. Or are they regime apologists who are trying to cast Lebanon in a bad light too???

March 12th, 2007, 2:28 am


EHSANI2 said:


Your participation on this forum has been a massive dissapointment.

I have learnt absolutely nothing from you. Given the frequency of your participation, it is regrettable that you have added precious little to our collective knowledge or understanding of the issues.

Your main pitfall is that you think that you have a monopoly over the truth. You also have the other negative baggage of labeling people according to a tired and sick formula.

You will surely not take my words here well. Sadly, you will again act very predictably. You will go on a tirade against me and everyone else who disagrees with your idiotic general characterizations of people, events and history.

You seem to have convinced yourself that your participation here is necessary because you are fulfilling a higher mission of some kind.

Let me just tell you that you are making a fool of yourself every time you decide to write.

Your message is incredibly repetitive and lacking in depth or breadth. It is like playing an ugly tune over and over.

Please do most of us a favor and do something else in your sad life. You must surely be able to find something other than writing repetitive nonsense on Syriacomment.

March 12th, 2007, 2:34 am


Gibran said:

I have a lot of good things going for me in life. Honestly, I don’t need your advise with all due respect to your opinion which I know you think has some ‘distinctiveness’ to it. I’d suggest that you skip my comments and make the most of your time at Syriacomment. It is easy. I do the same to most of the comments (including yours most often).

March 12th, 2007, 2:38 am


Syrian said:


Samir’s article is fine in that it comes with the caveat that we do not know the methodology employed. That does not negate the arguments that Voting rolls do not necessarily reflect population breakdown.

At least the article does not come as the absolute truth that cannot be denied. Unlike the Aljazeera slide which was written by Jesus himself. If you want to say that 29% of registered voters in Lebanon are Shi’a I’ll agree with you. But do not try and take that to the next level of trying to determine population. Doing that will just exaggerate the errors inherently present in the voter registration tendency of the different groups.

March 12th, 2007, 2:40 am


Syrian said:


Gibran’s advice is worth taking. he skips most comments and from what he writes, it seems that he skips most of his own comments too.

March 12th, 2007, 2:43 am


EHSANI2 said:


The fact that you don’t read the comments of the people you don’t like is rather obvious. This is evident by the fact that you don’t seem to have learnt much from your experience here. I must admit that, contrary to your failed tactics, I do try to read your comments. I do so because I keep hoping that you would have learnt something from the many other thoughtful and intelligent commentators here. Regrettably, I am yet to detect any change in your tone or the one-dimensional nature of your commentary.

March 12th, 2007, 2:45 am


Gibran said:

OK EHSANI, from time to time I’ll read your comments. I’ll be just curious to know your ‘distinctive’ opinion about my progress in my Syriacomment journey. It means so much to me. You must know from this that I read your last comment at least.

March 12th, 2007, 3:08 am


ausamaa said:


Do not worry, just hang in there, sooner or later some one will see your point. Meanwhile, do you see any possibility that after the International Tribunal has concluded its work, and after Hizballah and the Palestinans have been disarmed, of any chance of some sort of a Union or Fedration between Syria and Lebanon? Like the Syrian Lebanese Arab Republic, or just Syrian Lebanese Republic?

March 12th, 2007, 3:22 am


K said:

All the propaganda in the world will not change Hizballah into the nationalistic, social-justice activist organization imagined by the segments of the global Left. Talk yourselves blue, propagandists, but long after you lose your breath Hizballa will remain a sectarian Shi’a fundamentalist organization, used as a tool by Iran and Syria.

Landis – the representation of Shi’a in parliament is NOT an item on the agenda. It has nothing to do with the current situation. I support a restructuring of Lebanon’s parliamentary system to increase Shi’a representation. But I refuse to even discuss this or any other issue so long as Hizballa is armed to the teeth (by foreign imperialist powers), more powerful than the Lebanese Army. Forget it. The obvious path is to arm myself, to negotiate with them on level ground. But he March 14 leaders act under certain restraints that have prevented this path – so far.

The real issue on the agenda is the Hariri tribunal. What is its significance? It is Lebanon’s one and only tool against the tyrannical Ba’thist regime that terrorizes Lebanon with car bombs and assassinations, killing out innocent civilians, journalists and politicians. That’s why it matters to me. Not because I care about Rafiq Hariri. I want Syria to be punished for its crimes and prevented from hurting its tiny defenseless neighbor, Lebanon.

Until the day I am powerful enough to resist Syria myself, I have no choice but to call for outside help in this endeavor. So far, March 14 hasn’t called for violence against Syria, but for UN resolutions, diplomatic pressure from friendly countries (ex-friendly), and sanctions. Now, I wish reliance on foreign powers were unnecessary. I wish the Syrian people would rise up and overthrow the evil Ba’th themselves – that is the ideal scenario for regime change. But I’m not just going to sit around with my fingers crossed.

This underlies the present deadlock. It’s not March 14 “obstructing”. It’s Syria obstructing through its Lebanese tools. It’s Syria, panicking that a Saudi-Iranian rapprochement leaves out Syria’s one single concern – averting judgment for its killing spree in Lebanon.

That’s why the Hizballa-led opposition demands a “blocking third” in cabinet – to veto and bury our own single weapon against the Syrian regime, the Hariri tribunal. But how does Landis frame this demand? “Hizballa is a social justice organization struggling for Shi’a rights. Hizballa is so moderate, instead of revolutionizing the Lebanese confessional system, they’re only asking for a few cabinet seats, as a compromise.” Ludicrous. Poisonous.

It’s not just disingenous when you blame March 14 for calling on foreign powers to intervene militarily on their behalf. It’s sheer deception. Let me put it this way: As long as Iran and Syria arm and use Hizballa, I have the right to ask America and France to intervene on my behalf. I am powerless to fight them myself, using domestic political tools, so long as they are an armed force, answering to foreign capitals (tyrannical dictatorships, I add in passing). I will not bow down to their bullying so easily. I will call on outside help.

And I will never be enslaved by my foreign patrons, as they are. March 14 does not organize massive rallies chanting “Thank you USA, thank you France”, while Hizballa does chant “Thank you Iran and Syria.” March 14 does not wave portraits of Bush and Chirac; Hizballa waves pictures of Bashar and Ahmadinejad, and scream “we sacrifice our soul and blood to you”. March 14 does not incite its followers to chant “Death to Syria! Death to Iran!” while the Shi’a mob’s favorite chant of all is “Death to America!”

When I enter my own capital city, Beirut, I am confronted on the Airport Road (Hizballa territory) by the ugly mugs of Shi’a fundamentalist tyrants from Iran, like Khomeini and Khamene’i. (I find this deeply offensive. Seriously, try the mind experiment. Would a Chilean like to see Kissinger portraits in his hometown? Would any person like to see the evil face of any dictator from any foreign country in her own town?)

My neighborhood, in contrast will never EVER sport the mug of any tyrant from any nation in history, whether he funded my movement or not. I would sooner emigrate.

SO, Landis – don’t lecture me about reliance on foreign powers. There is NO COMPARISON between March 14’s relationship with the West and 90% of the international community, and Hizballa’s relationship with Iran and Syria who arm the militia, order it into war (at Lebanon’s expense), send it to paralyze Lebanon’s politics and economy to protect their own asses from judgment by the international community.

I remember your old post after the Hariri assassination where you gave kind advice to Lebanon and its movement for freedom from Syrian colonization. Put the past behind you, you advocated. Close the file on Hariri, abandon all (non-Syrian) foreign help, and re-establish “good relations” with Syria – that is, bow to Syrian mastery. We’ll save ourselves a lot of bloodshed that way. Of course you knew what you were talking about, issuing threats on behalf of the Syrian regime, threats duly carried out by these killers.

My response to you then was NEVER. And my response to you now is NEVER, again.

March 12th, 2007, 3:43 am


Gibran said:

I didn’t expect you to be completely out of your mind. Sorry, man you’re hopeless case.

March 12th, 2007, 4:00 am


ausamaa said:


Well, I just thought it might be a good idea.. I mean merging Lebanese deomcracy, liberalisem, networking skills and enrepenurship with Syria’s population, natural resources and access to nieghbouring markets. You know, sort of like the Mainland China and Hongkong deal.

Anyway, just a thought…

March 12th, 2007, 4:46 am


Gibran said:

We have to build a city like Shenzhen (a city newly built on the border of Hong Kong and mainland China. It is less than 15 years old.) on the Syrian/Lebanese border. It will be like a special zone where only certain people who have special permits can enter. Designated special zones exist in mainland China. People from higher zones are allowed to enter lower zones but not vice versa. The zones and their status have to be agreed upon by both governments. Populations in designated zones will have to be made transparent, i.e. their ID’s, personal information, social status etc. will be made available to the Lebanese government. They will also be subject to Lebanese Laws. Permits can only be issued and approved by the Lebanese government. Zone patrols will remain exclusively under Lebanese jurisdiction.
Before any of this can happen, however, the International Tribunal must be formed and the indicted criminals brought before the judges. Nothing can bypass this issue. Syria must also prove its good intentions by completely refraining from arming rogue militias such as those of Hezbollah or any other groups.

March 12th, 2007, 5:09 am


ausamaa said:

GIBRAN, Ok, its worh thinking about!!!I see your point regarding Syria arming “bad” militias, but this has to be cleared by Saudi Arabia and Tehran. The Katta’ib and Lebanese Forces of Jaja we can absorb within the united Syrian-Lebanese army I suppose. So it is no problem. However, we have to find a proper way to share the burden of Lebanon’s forty billion dollars debt. And we have to find a suitble post for Junblat; Minister of State for Strategic Planning?. Amin Al Gemayel may pose a problem if he insist on retaining the Ministry of State Money. Fatfat, this is a no, for sure. So is Al Sabe’a, you know, security of the Union can not be left to ammatures. This post we should retain. But all this can be accomodated in an amicable manner I believe. What is a dollar or two, or a post or two, among brothers.

Let us think about it. After all this is the “cooperation” season as you can see from the Baghdad and Mecca conferences. Let us hope for the beast, sorry, the best.

March 12th, 2007, 5:15 am


Gibran said:

Now hold on please. We haven’t started talking about unions or any of that stuff. Lebanon is Lebanon and Syria is Syria – There will be no union. I only proposed creating a special zone city on the border similar to Shenzhen – No more and no less. Now don’t start dreaming; Jumblat, Jemayel, Geagea and all the rest, well, these are Lebanese icons – untouchables. Lebanese debt: it is our responsibility; no Syrian will be made to pay a penny towards that debt. No Syria-Lebanese army or any of that stuff, out of the question. Lebanese army is Lebanese army and Syrian army is Syrian army. Creating that special zone city will only function to integrate on a limited scale a liberal democracy with a centralized system for the purpose of promoting free market economy that could be mutually beneficial – no more no less.
I have to go to sleep now.

March 12th, 2007, 6:01 am


Abu Takla said:

It is people like you Mr. Landis who come and provoke one sect over the other that are causing us our misery!!!
Your analogy of Shiites and American slaves is ridiculous, Sunnis also should be represented by more than they are granted in the parliament, but you do not remember that here, you might use it later when you find it useful for your purpose.
Moreover, it is laughable and at the same time pathetic how you bluntly say that the fear that the Hizballah alliance will not agree to establishing an international tribunal, but to you this should not matter because Lebanon’s economy and growth are being obstructed by Hizballa and Syria so long that the Lebanese are not accepting to seize their call for a tribunal!! Ofcourse for you, who cares who killed R, Hariri? Why should it matter? Just get Syria out of its isolation and get over Hariri,
well, over our dead bodies,
we are ready to die for justice to be served. And anyway, your friends are already killing us.

Thank you for your effort anyway, and stay well.

March 12th, 2007, 5:25 pm


ausamaa said:

Over your Dead Bodies? Wow, Do you really die for Causes? Other than Sectarian Causes? So un-…enlightend!

And before we know it, Josh Landis has become part of the axis-of-evil! Along with Seymour Hersh, King Abdullah of KSA, Mr. Ignatius, and the distinguished gentelmen: Baker and Hamilton.

March 12th, 2007, 7:36 pm


ausamaa said:

AHHHH GIBRAN, you mean on the so-familiar COMMISSION BASIS! And were will that free zone be? Anjar, Reef Dimashq, Dair al Asaker? Ok, anywhere you choose but not Bakfaya. We want to make money out of this enterprise,you know. And this will be on a state-to-state basis. No commission agents and stuff. OK?

March 12th, 2007, 7:42 pm


Abu Takla said:

so, is there any argument in what you said, or just personal insults?
Take care, and stay safe,
all the best my friend,

March 13th, 2007, 5:15 pm


CW said:

Just read Michael Young’s article, “The Blogosphere’s Foreign Informant.”

Young nails perfectly what I’ve been thinking of Landis’ acedemic output of the past few months.

Does anyone else find it ghoulish of Landis when he uses euphemisms like, Syria’s “sphere of influence?”

Makes me shudder.

March 15th, 2007, 12:35 am


Maya said:

I think K summerised very well all the issues including that of Landis and what he stands for, I’ld like to thank him and others who wirte hwere against this crowd of heyenas that Landis stirs so well. An agent on the Syrian Moukhabarat payroll wouldn’t do better than Landis I’m sure.

March 16th, 2007, 10:40 am


Oussama said:

So, Josh your wife is an Alawite, it seems. Any relation to the Assad family?

March 16th, 2007, 11:49 pm


Paul Nassar said:

“Quite simply, it treats Shiites like slaves”.
Obviously sir, you don’t know the facts. Not only that, these are lies.
It is this kind of false propaganda that hurts and skews people’s opinion.
If I were in your shoes, and you really believe in this statement, I would personally advise you to quit commenting on the politics in the middle east, because obviously, you don’t know what you are talking about.

March 17th, 2007, 9:04 pm


ausamaa said:

Oh, we – readers- are from the middle east and just happen to know the Shia’ats were treated on a less than equal basis in Lebanon. Lebanon’s Shi’ats attest to this; what is Harakat Al Mahroumin? Have you heard of it before. It was not Landis who called that,Right?

Has the lebanses government fully paid compensations for the Israeli destroyed houses in Dhahiya and South Lebanon yet? It is eight months since the war has stopped, you know! That is kind of the Shi’at hinterland is it not?

March 17th, 2007, 10:44 pm


Omega80 said:

Sorry Mr. Landis, but reading this post really made me sick!

First off, you really don’t know much about Lebanon, and you dont know much about Syria as well, or you do, but choose to hide that fact. Your ideas seem to come out of some fairy tale written by your goon friends in Damascus. Those thugs and killers will never be let off the hook, and niether will people like you, who TRY and give them intellectual cover.
Your blog was one of the first I started reading to be quite honest, however I have not been on this site for months. It is a shame you went from being an academic to a mere megaphone.

You are not welcome in Lebanon anymore.

March 18th, 2007, 8:48 am


The Arabist » Landis contra Young said:

[…] In a March 10 post discussing efforts at obstructing a deal between the US, France and Syria over Lebanon, Landis counts Young as one of the intellectual obstructionists of such a deal (its political advocates include Druze warlord Walid Jumblatt and US Ambassador to Beirut Jeffrey Feltman). Landis goes on to attack the obstructionist line as one that is dangerous for Lebanon and the region as a whole as well as one that puffs up a “Shia crescent” threat and gives Lebanese Shias “slave” status in a Christian and Sunni-dominated polity: The only problem with this analysis is that it is has led to a long list of failures and the needless death of thousands of Iraqis and Americans. Michael Young recommended the invasion of Iraq in 2003, claiming that the “consociational” Lebanese model of government that has served his country so well would bring peace and happiness to Iraq and quickly be replicated throughout the Middle East. It has taken the West four long years of watching Iraq descend into ferocious civil war to come to grips with the short comings of this analysis. In 2006, Young advocated keeping the incompetent Lahoud as president of Lebanon rather than giving Michel Aoun a chance at elections. (Aoun was the most popular candidate in Lebanon at the time.) This obstructionism led directly to the summer war between Lebanon and Israel. With no prospects of a non-violent adjustment to Lebanon’s lopsided power-sharing formula, Hizbullah and its opposition allies fell back on the old formula of “resistance” and demonstrations. When war broke out, Young began excitedly prognosticating that Israel could break Hizbullah and international forces disarm it. He insisted the Shiite party did not represent authentic Lebanese demands, being merely a creature of Iran and Syria. Again, Young’s dreams didn’t materialize. Instead, the inconclusive war led to paralysis in Lebanon as Hizbullah and the Siniora government stand face to face, each unwilling to bow to the demands of the other. Rather that admit that he has misjudged the opposition or the ability of American and Israeli power to reshape the hearts and minds of Middle Easterners, Young continues to insist that Syria and Hizbullah will buckle if only the US will inflict a bit more pain on them. […]

March 18th, 2007, 2:37 pm


Nicolas said:

Dear Mr Landis
I am not sure during your visit to the Middle East what the Syrian regime served you in your drink. I am under the strong impression that you were served a potent hallucinagenic drug that made you so blind to the truth and facts in lebanon…
The shia in Lebanon despite beeing described by you as slave: do not pay almost any taxes to the governemnt. Do not pay any electric, water bill to the government companies. They also have vast area under their control where no police, army can go. They also have their own security apparatus and have their own jail where they have many prisoners they keep without the konwledge of the Lebanese government. They also have most of the key positions in the goverment, they took those position when Lebanon was under the syrian occupation……
Beside that, they have their own army and weapons more than the official Lebanese army………
so who is the slave????
The truth is most lebanese are enslaved by the shia hegemony on Lebanon…….We are trapped by their Syrian-Iranian masters……..
I hope that by now the potent drug effect have gone and you will be able to see the truth with your own eyes…

March 19th, 2007, 2:12 pm


ausamaa said:


“to see the truth with your own eyes”

More than the half the Lebanese people at least SEE this same truth you do not like! Are they “drugged” also? If you think they are, get the hell out of there quick. Drugged people can be for your health!

March 19th, 2007, 4:26 pm


Alex said:

“So far, March 14 hasn’t called for violence against Syria”


So what do you call Jumblatt’s promise to one day send a son of the mountain to assassinate the Syrian president?

And What do you call Jumblatt’s call on the US to invade Syria and overthrow its government by force? (Interview with Ignatius last year)?

And what about the killing of Syrian workers … many more innocent Syrian civilians were killed in Lebanon the past two years than all the Lebanese politicians that you insist to blame Syria for their killing.

And Nicolas, Maya, and all of you who are still blaming your misery ONLY on Syria two years after it withdrew its army out of Lebanon … you will never change, you will never realise that you have no “country”… without a dominant outside power Lebanon does not look like it will be calm. Don’t kid yourself … you are a badly split nation. Your only hope is to have one group of outside powers (Syria and Iran or KSA America France) act as a monopolistic sponsor and manager of your country. Today, this is not the case … the two groups are competing 50/50 for your country and until one of the two groups “wins” you will still have the ongoing misery.

And you are a collection of narcissists who think they are democratic.

You think anyone of us here loves what Tony Badran writes about Syria? no. But we don’t go to his blog and cry like you all showed up here at the first article you read that you did not like. Why? because unlike you, we are tolerant of other points of view. We have here Israelis, Americans, Lebanese March 14th supporters who help make this the most successful Syria or Lebanon blog in the world! … too bad if you are disappointed in Dr. Landis’s supposedly biased opinions … go find another blog that has 100+ comments in every post.

March 19th, 2007, 6:20 pm


G said:

Thank you Alex, for giving us our only hope. It’s that much more profound coming from a Syrian, run by an Alawite family, and where all the sects are more divided than in Lebanon, and the only thing according to you and Landis that’s keeping them together is the boot of the Alawite regime and their thugs who have been addressing you and your people as “monkey” and “piece of shit” and such. A country whose entity doesn’t even exist in the school books, and country and a people who cheer their president as he sends murderers to all their neighbors. A country whose economy smells as good as the sewers of Calcutta. A country run by a total of less than 10 people. A backwater that thinks it is on the level of “powers” with even more delusional idiots like yourself to cheer it on.

Yes, coming from you, and from the basket case that you call your country, your “hope” seems so refreshing and convincing! After all, who doesn’t want to be run by the same people who have been calling you monkeys and shitheads, and stepping on your necks for the last 40 years! It’s such a dream!

Bunch of idiots.

March 19th, 2007, 6:47 pm


ugarit said:

Do you guys notice how the “March 14th” supporters never really talk about substantive facts and issues? It reminds me of Bush supporters.

March 19th, 2007, 7:12 pm


Alex said:

Exactly Ugarit, not that they were much more logical in the past, but the Bush administration’s good/evil mentality made our Lebanese neighbors even more close minded .. in the past they used to believe Syria was to blame for 80% of their problems, now it is 100% of their problems.

G, habibi … look at your last 100 posts .. collect them and print them … you will see that 90% of them (at least) were not much more that name calling and character assassination … that tells you a lot about your ability to engage in a discussion with those you disagree with.

Oh, and if you only knew about this Syrian “bunch of idiots” commentators here that you are feeling superior to … I think most of them are much better educated, and much more successful financially than your majesty.

And G … Notice how you are still using Syria’s “homsis” to make your jokes … when you are self-confident enough as a nation to have your own Homs … maybe then you might be a bit closer to being a genuinely confident country.

March 19th, 2007, 8:27 pm


TJEX said:

Why would anyone in their right mind support the Syrian regime? I’m at loss! It has done nothing good for the region and seems to just want to play the playground bully with Lebanon.

March 19th, 2007, 10:59 pm


The Beirut Spring » And the winner for the, ehmm, least insightful po… said:

[…] And the winner for the, ehmm, least insightful post on Lebanon is.. […]

April 17th, 2007, 4:17 pm


The Beirut Spring » Michael Young responds to Joshua Landis (Remembe… said:

[…] Michael Young responds to Joshua Landis (Remember him? the guy who won my award for the least insightful post on Lebanon?). Here’s a highlight: “Having been denied a timely chance to respond on his site, I do so here. Why should a row matter? It matters to me because in the polarized Lebanese atmosphere, fabricated accusations can be irresponsible, even dangerous. The theme of Landis’ post is that Lebanon’s Shiites, since they are under-represented in Parliament, are comparable to black slaves in America. For some reason Landis makes me the embodiment of those Lebanese denying Shiites their rights. This is troubling for being visibly personal in intent, given how inconsequential I am in the matter of Shiite power; but also because I’ve repeatedly argued that the Taif agreement needs overhauling so Shiites receive a greater stake in the system. I wrote last summer that “Taif was designed to build a post-war state. It should be re-tooled to bring the Shiite community back into the Lebanese fold.” […]

April 17th, 2007, 4:19 pm


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