“Elliot Abrams’ Uncivil War,” by Conflicts Forum

Conflicts Forum's editor, Paul Woodward, who also manages the excellent "War in Context" just sent me CF's excellent report of the Abrams' plan for promoting civil war in Palestine. It ties in with Syria Comment's tea-reading exercise in which we argued the Bush administration would finance and arm surrogates to fight their wars in the region. Evidently, MEPI money is being funneled toward this democracy promotion project. Perhaps this helps explain why the MEPI Syria report was leaked to Adam Zagorin of Time magazine.

Elliot Abrams’ uncivil war

Is the Bush administration violating the law in an effort to provoke a Palestinian civil war?

Deputy National Security Advisor, Elliott Abrams — who Newsweek recently described as “the last neocon standing” — has had it about for some months now that the U.S. is not only not interested in dealing with Hamas, it is working to ensure its failure. In the immediate aftermath of the Hamas elections, last January, Abrams greeted a group of Palestinian businessmen in his White House office with talk of a “hard coup” against the newly-elected Hamas government — the violent overthrow of their leadership with arms supplied by the United States. While the businessmen were shocked, Abrams was adamant — the U.S. had to support Fatah with guns, ammunition and training, so that they could fight Hamas for control of the Palestinian government.

Rice Welch AbramsWhile those closest to him now concede the Abrams’ words were issued in a moment of frustration, the “hard coup” talk was hardly just talk. Over the last twelve months, the United States has supplied guns, ammunition and training to Palestinian Fatah activists to take on Hamas in the streets of Gaza and the West Bank. A large number of Fatah activists have been trained and “graduated” from two camps — one in Ramallah and one in Jericho. The supplies of rifles and ammunition, which started as a mere trickle, has now become a torrent (Haaretz reports the U.S. has designated an astounding $86.4 million for Abu Mazen’s security detail), and while the program has gone largely without notice in the American press, it is openly talked about and commented on in the Arab media — and in Israel. Thousands of rifles and bullets have been poring into Gaza and the West Bank from Egypt and Jordan, the administration’s designated allies in the program.

At first, it was thought, the resupply effort (initiated under the guise of “assist[ing] the Palestinian Authority presidency in fulfilling PA commitments under the road map to dismantle the infrastructure of terrorism and establish law and order in the West Bank and Gaza,” according to a U.S. government document) would strengthen the security forces under the command of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas. Officials thought that the additional weapons would easily cow Hamas operatives, who would meekly surrender the offices they had only recently so dearly won. That has not only not happened, but the program is under attack throughout the Arab world — particularly among America’s closest allies.

While both Egypt and Jordan have shipped arms to Abu Mazen under the Abrams program (Egypt recently sent 1,900 rifles into Gaza and the West Bank, nearly matching the 3000 rifles sent by the Jordanians), neither Jordan’s King Abdullah nor Egypt’s Hosni Mubarak believe the program will work — and both are now maneuvering to find a way out of it. “Who can blame them?” an administration official told us recently. “While Mubarak has no love for Hamas, they do not want to be seen as bringing them down. The same can be said for Jordan.” A Pentagon official was even more adamant, cataloguing official Washington’s nearly open disdain for Abrams’ program. “This is not going to work and everyone knows it won’t work. It is too clever. We’re just not very good at this. This is typical Abrams stuff.” This official went on to note that “it is unlikely that either Jordan or Egypt will place their future in the hands of the White House. Who the hell outside of Washington wants to see a civil war among Palestinians? Do we really think that the Jordanians think that’s a good idea. The minute it gets underway, Abdullah is finished. Hell, fifty percent of his country is Palestinian.”

Senior U.S. Army officers and high level civilian Pentagon officials have been the most outspoken internal administration critics of the program, which was unknown to them until mid-August, near the end of Israel’s war against Hezbollah. When Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld learned about it he was enraged, and scheduled a meeting with President Bush in an attempt to convince him the program would backfire. Rumsfeld was concerned that the anti-Hamas program would radicalise Muslim groups among American allies and eventually endanger U.S. troops fighting Sunni extremists in Iraq. According to our reports, Rumsfeld was told by Bush that he should keep his focus on Iraq, and that “the Palestinian brief” was in the hands of the Secretary of State. After this confrontation, Rumsfeld decided there was not much he could do.

The Abrams program was initially conceived in February of 2006 by a group of White House officials who wanted to shape a coherent and tough response to the Hamas electoral victory of January. These officials, we are told, were led by Abrams, but included national security advisors working in the Office of the Vice President, including prominent neo-conservatives David Wurmser and John Hannah. The policy was approved by Condoleezza Rice. The President then, we are told, signed off on the program in a CIA “finding” and designated that its implementation be put under the control of Langley. But the program ran into problems almost from the beginning. “The CIA didn’t like it and didn’t think it would work,” we were told in October. “The Pentagon hated it, the US embassy in Israel hated it, and even the Israelis hated it.” A prominent American military official serving in Israel called the program “stupid” and “counter-productive.” The program went forward despite these criticisms, however, though responsibility for its implementation was slowly put in the hands of anti-terrorism officials working closely with the State Department. The CIA “wriggled out of” retaining responsibility for implementing the Abrams plan, we have been told. Since at least August, Rice, Abrams and U.S. envoy David Welch have been its primary advocates and the program has been subsumed as a “part of the State Department’s Middle East initiative.” U.S. government officials refused to comment on a report that the program is now a part of the State Department’s “Middle East Partnership Initiative,” established to promote democracy in the region. If it is, diverting appropriated funds from the program for the purchase of weapons may be a violation of Congressional intent — and U.S. law.

The recipients of U.S. largesse have been Palestinian President Abu Mazen and Mohammad Dahlan, a controversial and charismatic Palestinian political leader from Gaza. The U.S. has also relied on advice from Mohammad Rashid, a well-known Kurdish/Palestinian financier with offices in Cairo. Even in Israel, the alliance of the U.S. with these two figures is greeted with almost open derision. While Prime Minister Ehud Olmert has hesitantly supported the program, many of his key advisors have made it clear that they want to have nothing to do with starting a Palestinian civil war. They also doubt whether Hamas can be weakened. These officials point out that, since the beginning of the program, Hamas has actually gained in strength, in part because its leaders are considered competent, transparent, uncorrupt and unwilling to compromise their ideals — just the kinds of democratically elected leaders that the Bush Administration would want to support anywhere else in the Middle East.

Of course, in public, Secretary Rice appears contrite and concerned with “the growing lawlessness” among Palestinians, while failing to mention that such lawlessness is exactly what the Abrams plan was designed to create. “You can’t build security forces overnight to deal with the kind of lawlessness that is there in Gaza which largely derives from an inability to govern,” she said during a recent trip to Israel. “Their [the Hamas-led Palestinian Authority] inability to govern, of course, comes from their unwillingness to meet international standards.” Even Middle East experts and State Department officials close to Rice consider her comments about Palestinian violence dangerous, and have warned her that if the details of the U.S. program become public her reputation could be stained. In fact, Pentagon officials concede, Hamas’s inability to provide security to its own people and the clashes that have recently erupted have been seeded by the Abrams plan. Israeli officials know this, and have begun to rebel. In Israel, at least, Rice’s view that Hamas can be unseated is now regularly, and sometimes publicly, dismissed.

According to a December 25 article in the Israeli daily Haaretz, senior Israeli intelligence officials have told Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert that not only can Hamas not be replaced, but that its rival, Fatah, is disintegrating. Any hope for the success of an American program aimed at replacing Hamas, these officials argued, will fail. These Israeli intelligence officials also dismissed Palestinian President Abu Mazen’s call for elections to replace Hamas — saying that such elections would all but destroy Fatah. As Haaretz reported: “Shin Bet chief Yuval Diskin told the cabinet Sunday [December 24] that should elections be held in the Palestinian Authority, Fatah’s chances of winning would be close to zero. Diskin said during Sunday’s weekly cabinet meeting that the Fatah faction is in bad shape, and therefore Israel should expect Hamas to register a sweeping victory.”

Apparently Jordan’s King Abdullah agrees. On the day this article appeared, December 25, Abdullah kept Palestinian President Abu Mazen waiting for six hours to see him in Amman. Eventually, Abdullah told Abu Mazen that he should go home — and only come to see him again when accompanied by Hamas leader and Palestinian Prime Minister, Ismail Haniyeh. Most recently, Saudi officials have welcomed Haniyeh to Saudi Arabia for talks, having apparently made public their own views on the American program to replace Hamas. And so it is: one year after the election of Hamas, and one year after Elliot Abrams determined that sowing the seeds of civil war among a people already under occupation would somehow advance America’s program for democracy in the Middle East, respect for America’s democratic ideals has all but collapsed — and not just in Iraq.

Comments (79)


Alex said:

What an unfortunate day it was when John Kerry lost.

This administration will not spare any human life as it continues to look for more pathetic ways to “win” … win what?

But then again, maybe it is actually a good thing to keep them busy for the next two years with relatively small operations … like this Hamas against Fatah one, instead of leaving them with no other option but to attack Iran and start WWIII

January 8th, 2007, 4:30 am

 

sam said:

It doesn’t suprise me, it further shows that U.S. policy makers, still has no clue on how the arab mind works, or is willing to learn! These same arms will definaltey hurt innocent Pals and most likely Israelis. If the guns are going to Fatah, they will end up with Al Aqsa Brigade.

January 8th, 2007, 4:32 am

 

sam said:

The more unfortunate day is when Gore lost in 2000. Bush would still be putting people to death in Texas.

January 8th, 2007, 4:35 am

 

Akbar Palace said:

Awww, Professor Josh is crying foul because the US is arming a faction of the Palestinian government that recognizes the State of Israel.

Coming from a Syrian, Hezbollah supporting apologist, I find the concern ringing very hollow.

January 8th, 2007, 4:35 am

 

Akbar Palace said:

Alex said:

“What an unfortunate day it was when John Kerry lost.”

Be careful what you wish for. Looks like the hard-left in the US congress isn’t going to stand for Islamofascist nuclear states either…

http://www.jpost.com/servlet/Satellite?cid=1167467674368&pagename=JPost%2FJPArticle%2FShowFull

January 8th, 2007, 4:41 am

 

sam said:

The fact that the U.S. is arming any faction is insane, and maybe unconstitutional. We should be taking guns away, not giving them out. An average old Ak-47 can cost up to $2000. I can’t beleive the Israelis let it happen.

January 8th, 2007, 4:41 am

 

sam said:

The difference is Akbar, they won’t do nothing about it!

January 8th, 2007, 4:42 am

 

Alex said:

Akbar,

Nanci Pelosi supports talking to Syria and Iran … Kerry went to Syria and came back convinced there are many promising opportunities for cooperation.

So the party’s leadership is sounding reasonable enough so far … and I know they are freinds of Israel.

That is Israel’s only way out of of the Iranian nuclear challenge… do you have other “solutions”?

January 8th, 2007, 4:47 am

 

Mike said:

Hey Akbar, this isn’t Fox News. If you’re going to accuse Joshua Landis of being a terrorist sympathizer, how about you actually produce quotes to support what you’re saying rather than randomly give us your slandering vile when it’s unsupported by anything? I’ve seen Joshua Landis on many occasions criticize Hezbollah for launching attacks on civilian targets. He, I presume (but I don’t pretend to speak for him), is against the tactics of Hezbollah when it goes against civilian targets.

But this is the beginning of any honest and balances assessment of any political group. You see their methods, but after that you must see their goals or claims to authority. Hezbollah represents many poor and disenfranchised Shiites in the Lebanese community (especially in the south). Yes, their tactics, such as kidnapping Israeli soldiers and firing rockets into Israel, and insupportable by me. This does not preclude us from recognizing that it has a social service wing by which it provides poor Shiites in Lebanon with social services and a real political representation.

See, this is the thing. You simply can’t ignore the Shiites any more due to the Iraq war. It has vastly increased the political capital of the Shiites, in particular. They are also making political inroads in Kuwait, for example.

Akbar, seriously now respond to this claim: you make the mistake of viewing Middle Eastern affairs as solely through “good and evil” nations, and making your very basic moral decisions based on this ideologically simplified perspective, and people like you who share such a perspective (whether as with the US neocons or with the Iranian neocons they have given a voice and political base to), completely ignore history and reality to the vast detriment of those civilians who suffer this.

January 8th, 2007, 7:10 am

 

simohurtta said:

Akbar would there be Fatah, Hamas etc if there would be no occupation? Even you can understand that extremism needs “fuel”. Actually those who provide extremists / terrorist the “fuel” are more to blame.

What if Akbar Israel would start by defining what the State of Palestine (the other part of the two state solution) actually means and where are the borders. Then all the Palestinian factions could better decide about “recognizing” Israel. It would make more sense, than this decades long ever shifting demand game, if making peace is Israel’s real goal. Now the Israeli attitude could be described: Stop resisting, lay down the arms then we might to begin to talk with you. Meanwhile we continue stealing your land and water and keep on disturbing your life with all means possible.

If USA can’t provide Fatah a real solution, that it can sell to Palestinians (two state solution with 1967 borders), it only manages to destroy Fatah. Palestinians real problem is the occupation, not Hamas and other resistance organizations. Even if Fatah would win the on going power struggle the core problem has to be solved.

January 8th, 2007, 8:38 am

 

MSK said:

Dear Josh,

I think the most interesting aspect of this article is that it outlines just how NON-homogenous the US-Israeli axis is in reality.

Key excerpts:

But the program ran into problems almost from the beginning. “The CIA didn’t like it and didn’t think it would work,” we were told in October. “The Pentagon hated it, the US embassy in Israel hated it, and even the Israelis hated it.” A prominent American military official serving in Israel called the program “stupid” and “counter-productive.”

A Pentagon official was even more adamant, cataloguing official Washington’s nearly open disdain for Abrams’ program.

While Prime Minister Ehud Olmert has hesitantly supported the program, many of his key advisors have made it clear that they want to have nothing to do with starting a Palestinian civil war.

Instead of keeping to paint the picture of a solid US-Israeli bloc (which is as misleading as any “axis of evil” talk) it would be more useful to highlight the differences and the “reasonable” voices on that side of the Middle East equation.

The only way to sway US admin opinion is by bringing the non-ideological heads together, regardless in which party they are.

–MSK

http://www.aqoul.com

January 8th, 2007, 10:22 am

 

Akbar Palace said:

“The fact that the U.S. is arming any faction is insane, and maybe unconstitutional. We should be taking guns away, not giving them out. An average old Ak-47 can cost up to $2000. I can’t beleive the Israelis let it happen.”

Sam –

I agree with you. I don’t know what to tell you, there is very little difference between Hamas and Fatah. They’re both enablers and supporters of terrorism, except that Fatah will speak to the Israelis. I suppose is in Israel’s interest to have a civil war in the Palestinian terrortories.

Perhaps, one day, Israel will be able to finish the Oslo-type agreement they started with Arafat.

Who knows?

Alex said:

“Kerry went to Syria and came back convinced there are many promising opportunities for cooperation.

So the party’s leadership is sounding reasonable enough so far … and I know they are freinds of Israel.

That is Israel’s only way out of of the Iranian nuclear challenge… do you have other “solutions”?”

Alex –

If the Syrians want to make peace with the US, that’s fine. If the Syrians want back the Golan Heights and conclude a peace treaty with the State of Israel, they will have more work to do.

You want MY solution to the Iranian nuclear challenge? Are you sure?

Mike said:

“Hezbollah represents many poor and disenfranchised Shiites in the Lebanese community (especially in the south).”

Giving charity is the best PR program for an international terrorist organization.

“Yes, their tactics, such as kidnapping Israeli soldiers and firing rockets into Israel, and insupportable by me.”

That’s big of you.

“This does not preclude us from recognizing that it has a social service wing by which it provides poor Shiites in Lebanon with social services and a real political representation.”

Instigating international wars is not a very good “social service” to my mind. But if you think so, than good for you.

“Akbar, seriously now respond to this claim: you make the mistake of viewing Middle Eastern affairs as solely through “good and evil” nations…”

No I don’t. As I’ve said before, the priority rests with those countries that EXPORT terrorism (ran and Syria). Once this mess is cleaned up, the priority changes to those countries (usually not-democracies) that ideologically support radical Islam such as Saudi Arabia, Yemen, etc.

Simohurtta said:

“What if Akbar Israel would start by defining what the State of Palestine (the other part of the two state solution) actually means and where are the borders.”

That was done before Arafat died. The Palestinians and Israelis were very close to an agreement, however, Arafat refused to present a counter offer, and instead opted for “armed struggle”.

Where were you?

“Then all the Palestinian factions could better decide about “recognizing” Israel.”

Been there, done that.

MSK states:

“The only way to sway US admin opinion is by bringing the non-ideological heads together, regardless in which party they are.”

Right. Bring in those “non-ideological” politicians who think the US shouldn’t confront the ideology that brought 9-11 to US shores.

I can name dozens of these wonderful people. The Baker-Hamilton ISG gang would be a nice place to look.

January 8th, 2007, 12:08 pm

 

Akbar Palace said:

“If you’re going to accuse Joshua Landis of being a terrorist sympathizer, how about you actually produce quotes to support what you’re saying rather than randomly give us your slandering vile when it’s unsupported by anything?”

Mike –

Of course Professor Josh is a terrorist sympathizer. And he wouldn’t be the only one. There are quite a number of American and even Israeli “academics” who are also terrorist sympathizers. They’re a dime a dozen.

Day in and day out Professor Josh keeps telling us here in his editorials that the US and Israel are making a big mistake for not engaging Syria. All at the same time while the Syrian government funds, arms and supplies terror organizations.

What a great idea! Just like the Oslo facade!

Professor Josh isn’t a total idiot, and so he’ll never admit to supporting terror organizations like Hezbollah. And anyway, the Hezzis give so much to the poor!

However, because he never recommends doing anything against these organizations, he’s pretty much telling the world where he stands.

The American news media (MSM) love to quote sources like Josh who hate Bush with extreme intensity.

January 8th, 2007, 12:48 pm

 

t_desco said:

One question has so far not been addressed in “Syria Comment’s tea-reading exercise”: Which “surrogates” would the U.S. “finance and arm” in the case of Syria and what would be the staging area?

Lebanon? And the preparations are supposed to remain secret?

Jordan? If King Abdullah is concerned about civil war between Fatah and Hamas, why would he support such a risky move?

Turkey? Supporting moves that would make the southern border even more unstable?

Al-Anbar? Isn’t the province too “unruly”?

This leaves only Iraqi Kurdistan as probable staging area. Or would Saudi Arabia be able or willing to support more extreme Sunni elements in Syria (the “Afghan model”)?

January 8th, 2007, 1:13 pm

 

Innocent_Criminal said:

I don’t understand why people still waste their time trying to convince Akbar of anything but his closed-minded and racist views. Arguing with a brainwashed person is the same as arguing with an idiot. And like the saying goes they will bring you down to their level and beat you with experience. So I advise to treat him like an annoying little kid and just IGNORE.

T_Desco – I couldn’t imagine any other location but Lebanon to be the staging area. Then again we know how bad the situation turned out last time they tried something similar.

January 8th, 2007, 1:30 pm

 

John Kilian said:

“America’s program for democracy in the Middle East, respect for America’s democratic ideals has all but collapsed ”

Actually, it appears as if the Palestinians are determined to support the government they elected; go figure. What is failing is the administration’s overarching plan to enlist democratically elected regimes in their obscure “War on Terror”. When the Arabs vote they tend to support politicians that oppose American policy in the region; go figure, again.

While fatigue among Main Street Americans tired of seeing their loved ones sent abroad can be written off as a normal challenge to any prolonged commitment, the considerable rebellion within major national security institutions such as the Pentagon and CIA suggests the time for pursuing purely military solutions to the regions political problems is running out.

January 8th, 2007, 3:04 pm

 

Akbar Palace said:

“What is failing is the administration’s overarching plan to enlist democratically elected regimes in their obscure “War on Terror”.”

The German Nazi Party was democratically elected. Sorry, being democratically elected doesn’t guarantee American support.

“When the Arabs vote they tend to support politicians that oppose American policy in the region; go figure, again.”

Hence the expression:

“The Palestinians never fail to miss the opportunity of missing an opportunity”.

“While fatigue among Main Street Americans tired of seeing their loved ones sent abroad can be written off as a normal challenge to any prolonged commitment, the considerable rebellion within major national security institutions such as the Pentagon and CIA suggests the time for pursuing purely military solutions to the regions political problems is running out.”

And then the next terror attack takes place and we’re back where we started from.

January 8th, 2007, 4:42 pm

 

John Kilian said:

I am not passing judgement on the practice, but it is clear that US support for democracy is not without strings attached. As such, it can not be expected that US troops are going to be greeted as liberators anytime soon. At this point I am not sure another 9-11 would result in a consensus in favor of invading other countries, especially those not linked to the attacks in the first place. Again, I am not intending to pass judgement on this state of affairs, but the way I see it that is just the way it is. This administration is out on a limb and they are very high off the ground, to boot.

January 8th, 2007, 5:35 pm

 

MSK said:

AkbarPalace,

What exactly is the point of your comments here?

I do not mean to be sarcastic. I am genuinely wondering why you are commenting here.

You do not seem to be interested in any actual interaction with the other commenters. Why are you here?

Your behavior is rather troll-like.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Troll_%28Internet%29

–MSK

January 8th, 2007, 6:45 pm

 

t_desco said:

Tarek,

Lebanon is a very small country. I imagine that it would be difficult under the current circumstances to keep a significant built-up of surrogate forces secret (not small groups, of course).
Is this conceivable without the opposition suffering a clear defeat? And wouldn’t that mean another (Abrams-sponsored?) civil war?

There are some signs of verbal escalation, first by Jumblatt and now by Hariri:

Hariri says Lebanon is Facing ‘Political-Intellectual Terrorism’

Parliamentary majority leader Saad Hariri on Sunday accused Hizbullah of being the “spear head” of an alleged Syrian-Iranian assault on the Paris III conference and pledged to confront what he described as political-intellectual terrorism.
Naharnet

For our tea leaf collection:

“There is no doubt that Israel`s fighter-bombers have been training for a long-distance mission; NATO sources say they have for weeks been watching Israeli warplanes running flights the length of the Mediterranean to Gibraltar — and nobody expects an Israeli strike on Gibraltar.”
UPI

January 8th, 2007, 7:00 pm

 

Akbar Palace said:

“You do not seem to be interested in any actual interaction with the other commenters. Why are you here?”

Hi MSK,

On the contrary, I’m here for all the same reasons you are. And I’ve responded to a number of questions including yours.

Be well.

January 8th, 2007, 7:16 pm

 

Alex said:

Akbar,

We’re happy to have you here, but please stop using the terrorism thing in every paragraph … I understand by now your direct or indirect ways of linking everyone to terrorism, so we’ll assume we are all terrorist sympathizers if you want, unless otherwise stated. Is there a way I can convince you to stick to discussing the issues?

For example, I do want to know what you feel is the best way Israel can deal with the Iranian nuclear threat … and while you are there, what exactly do you think that threat means? do you think Iran will actually hit Israel with a nuclear weapon? if yes, then where? do you think Iran is willing to infect future generations of Muslims as well as the Jews with all the known health complications? … and if Iran sends one of those missiles … do you think the Iranian leaders are ready to accept 100 missiles in return from Israel? … mutual suicide?

If not, then what is exactly the Iranian threat in practice?

January 8th, 2007, 7:42 pm

 

Najlah said:

I think this is a great column that Prof Landis posted. It’s about time that we address the democracy sabotaging efforts of the U.S. government vice their poor democracy building efforts. This Democracy “a la carte” strategy is just doomed to fail. You can’t promote democracy within any country and then choose to accept or not accept the voters’ choice for government.

Hamas, some educated individuals will recall, was not started as a terrorist organization, it was intended to provide social services to a population which was being strangled by the occupation. Moreover, less we forget that Israel supported Hamas and provided money (and dare we say…weapons) to fight against Arafat’s Fatah forces in the first Intifada. In 2006, Hamas moved away from violence for the purpose of entering politics and this can be backed up by formal statemtents and documents since their election. Political inclusion has been shown to dramatically reduce or even end violent acts by a group. Take the IRA for example.

An exercise in democracy, and perhaps even more importantly, the first FAIR exercise in democracy, setting the example for the rest of the Middle East to follow, was submarined by the U.S. If you want to know who will gain favor from an occupied people, look to who is consistently providing security and social services. As long as the occupation continues and the Palestinians have no soverignty, no indpendent state, no access to an airport, no water access, no connection between Gaza and the West Bank and no economic freedom, there will be no peace within Palestine.

January 8th, 2007, 8:57 pm

 

Ford Prefect said:

And by the way, Asghar, this terrorism thingee you keep referring too is so old now and fake now, it is sounding like an old broken Kenny Rogers record. There is no more Cool-Aid for your cronies in Likud, Kadima, and AEI in raising the “terrorism” flag. The American public already said “NO” – so which part of that word aren’t you getting?. Didn’t someone tell you that real conscientious Americans (even Republicans) were elected to both Houses who will finally steer America in the right direction and protect us from real terrorism – without lying and without getting our young killed needlessly? Didn’t you also hear that your neocon friends had contracted a severe case of diarrhea in Iraq and someone had to flush them down in Anbar? God Bless Syria.

January 8th, 2007, 9:15 pm

 

sam said:

Iran doesn’t want the bomb to use, they want it to deter plans of an invasion. The exact same reason Israel has the bomb. If the West wouldn’t be beating the war drums, and never invaded Iraq, I think countries would think twice about trying to aquire the big one. If Israel does try to attack Iran, than it could mean Israels days are truly numbered. The U.S. may offer technical advise, but WILL NOT HELP. I hope they (Israelies) aren’t counting on it. No matter how close the new congress is to Israel, the American people will revolt if we are pressed into another war, that Israel requested, and initiated.

January 8th, 2007, 9:17 pm

 

Habib said:

Akbar Hmar
Asghar Atel

hehe

January 8th, 2007, 9:19 pm

 

Innocent_Criminal said:

T_Desco

That’s what i meant with my last line. The last time the Americans and co tried to use Lebanon as festering ground for an attack on Syria they were bit in the ass. But that doesn’t mean that Lebanon will not be part of any plot if they have a second shot at it. While the Kurdish part of Iraq is obviously a possible location, it would only be in the shape of a “Kurdish uprising” in the Northern Eastern part of Syria. If you’re really planning to create chaos within the central government then the large cities in western part of Syria will be the main target. And while Lebanon is small, its federal like division has always allowed outsiders to implant their own armed groups.

That said, I don’t think it’s possible for the Americans to effectively finance and arm any “armed group” because the army among other “counter measures” can thwart such attacks. Lets not forget that the public will gather around their leaders in such circumstances. So excluding a full out war, no military force will be able to do much.

January 8th, 2007, 9:30 pm

 

G said:

It’s always pathetically funny to watch all the Syrians and pro-Assad lunatics in this forum wax all indignant about theories and fantasies about the use of Kurdistan or Lebanon or Jordan or anywhere else for destabilization of the Syrian regime as they cheer on their murderous regime’s real and irrefutable subversive actions against all its neighbors, be it Turkey, Iraq, Lebanon, Jordan, Israel and the Palestinians, for decades.

Absolutely disgusting.

January 8th, 2007, 9:35 pm

 

Ford Prefect said:

G, if this is so disgusting to you, try to tune to Faux News. More “fair and balanced” reporting can be found there. Also, Robertson’s 700 Club has some truly blessed messages of love and peace.

January 8th, 2007, 9:40 pm

 

GT said:

Like Sam, I am also puzzled as to why the Israelis would let arms and ammunition be poured into Palestine. Sure they would rather see Fatah win a potential civil war, but the potential for blowback is far too great. If they felt so strongly that their interests necessitated the destruction of Hamas they could do it themselves.

Did anyone ever believe “democracy in the Middle East” was no more than the Bush admin’s euphemism for “more American allies”? Sure, they’re hypocrites — but that’s only one of their minor sins.

Akbar said: “the priority rests with those countries that EXPORT terrorism (Iran and Syria). Once this mess is cleaned up, the priority changes to those countries (usually not-democracies) that ideologically support radical Islam such as Saudi Arabia, Yemen, etc.”

-Akbar, do you think we can end radical Islamic terrorism by eliminating their current sources of support? Don’t you think that if the terrorists are supported ideologically they will continue to find refuge and support, even in countries whose governments do not support them? And hasn’t it been obvious that past attempts to fight radical Islamic terrorism by sending troops or arms to the region, no matter whom to, has failed and in fact created more support for the terrorists? Perhaps those who you call “terrorist sympathizers” are actually looking at the bigger picture — that you need allow radical Islamic groups to exist in order to moderate the movement and sap its violent wing of strength. History shows that attacking radical religious or revolutionary groups only causes them to radicalize further and alienate any moderates in their mix.

Sorry to single you out, but you pretty much singled yourself out here.

January 8th, 2007, 9:42 pm

 

Ford Prefect said:

T-Desco, you are correct. Short of full invasion, military incursions are doomed. For years, US Special Forces have been training the Kurds and Iraqi militants to overthrow Saddam. Further, people are forgetting that Syrians are united in the face of any outside aggression. Lastly, in no logical way can Lebanon be used as a launching ground. The Lebanese, while they are now very hostile and upset with the Syrians (and for many good reasons), Lebanese and Syrians and joined at the hip and when push comes to shove, few Lebanese will stand for a Syrian invasion. Warmongers better find another place. God Bless Syria.

January 8th, 2007, 9:50 pm

 

simohurtta said:

This countries EXPORTING TERRORISM claim is getting funnier day after day. The news tell in Iraq the rather few foreign fighters catched are mostly Sunnis from Somalia, Yemen, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Britain, Lebanon etc. In Israel 14 per cent of suicide bombers had Israeli citizenship. Either Iran and Syria have the most amazing intelligence apparatus to achieve such results in “controlling” world’s “Islamic” terrorism (mostly done by Sunnis) or this Bush’s terrorism exporting countries theory (supported by Akbar) is based on a extreme vivid imagination. Maybe Akbar could spread little light how Iran in reality manages to control the terrorism done by Sunni extremists.

Even Akbars in USA and around the world must some times wonder how Syria and Iran, witch have the military capacity at the best to defend their countries a couple of days / weeks and countries which have the industrial and economical capacity of a small western country, could create suddenly create a large empire and threaten Israel which has more nukes than the Peoples Republic of China. Pakistan, Turkey, Egypt, Saudi Arabia and other Gulf states have enough western military gadgets and manpower to block such empire building dreams without outside help.

January 8th, 2007, 10:54 pm

 

Ehsani2 said:

Following tonight’s news from Venezuela, Mr. Chavez has made our Baath commrades seem like Adam Smith capitalists!

I am sure that a fair number of people on this forum would find themselves in agreement with the core of the great economic initiatives listed below:

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez said
he would nationalize utilities, including the biggest phone
company, and scrap central bank independence as he moves to
transform the country into a socialist state.
Shares of CA Nacional Telefonos de Venezuela plunged, and
the currency fell 17 percent, after Chavez said he will also ask
congress for authority to make law through executive order, a
power he held for a year during 2000 and 2001. Chavez reiterated
that he will seek to end foreign control of heavy-crude
refineries in the Orinoco region.
“All those sectors that are so strategic, such as electric
power, everything that was privatized will be nationalized,”
Chavez said today in a televised speech in Caracas. “We will
recover the strategic means of production. Cantv, let’s
nationalize it,” he said.
Chavez, who last year raised royalties on oil companies and
forced some into joint ventures with the state, has sharpened
calls to regulate corporate profits and speed seizure of
“underutilized” farms and factories since his Dec. 3 re-
election. The president’s control of congress, the courts and
state governments means those plans would face little resistance
should he choose to pursue them.
“Chavez seems bent on modeling Venezuela after the old
Soviet economy where the state controls everything,” said
Robert Bottome, an analyst with Caracas-based research company
Veneconomia. “If his intentions weren’t clear before, they are
now.”

Electricity

Chavez also said he would renationalize companies in the
country’s electricity industry sold by his predecessors. Chavez
didn’t name any companies. CA Electricidad de Caracas, the
country’s largest publicly traded power company, is 81 percent
owned by AES Corp. but was never privatized by the government.
Calls to Electricidad de Caracas spokespeople weren’t answered.
Seperately, the country’s Energy and Oil Ministry said in a
statement today that Exxon Mobil Corp., ConocoPhillips, Chevron
Corp. and Total SA may lose their shares in four heavy oil
ventures if Chavez is granted powers to pass laws by executive
decree.
Chavez said last month he would seek to change the
constitution to abolish presidential term limits. Today, Chavez
also called for a full overhaul of the current commerce code
among measures that would accelerate the transition to
socialism.
Reversal of state asset sales would probably be the biggest
step toward reversing the legacy of previous governments that
privatized companies and opened Venezuelan markets to foreign
investors. Further controls on free enterprise would add to
restrictions in foreign currency trading Chavez first imposed in
early 2003. Banks endure interest-rate caps in Venezuela and
phone, power rates and rents are also controlled.

`No!’

In the oil industry, the nation’s biggest source of
revenue, Chavez has unilaterally boosted taxes and royalties on
companies operating in the country. He has also compelled
companies to convert operating contracts into joint ventures in
which the state oil company holds a majority stake.
“International companies have the control of the upgrading
of heavy crude. No! This should pass to be property of the
state,” Chavez said of the heavy oil ventures.
The currency, which is pegged to the U.S. dollar at a rate
of 2,150, posted its biggest plunge in unregulated trading since
at least 2004 on the president’s remarks, falling to 4,062
bolivars to the dollar, its lowest ever. The currency shed 54
percent in the past six months.

Shares Plunge

Trading of Cantv’s American depositary receipts was halted
after Chavez spoke. Cantv fell 14.2 percent to $16.84 in New
York when trading was halted at 3:04 p.m. New York time. The
company’s local Class D shares rose 0.8 percent to 9.780
bolivars in Caracas, where trading ended before the speech. Each
ADR is equal to seven Class D shares.
“What was surprising is that for the first time he named a
specific company. It was frightening,” said Richard La Rosa, a
stock trader with Activalores Casa de Bolsa CA. “The big
question in the marketplace is how are we going to be
compensated? No one doubts Chavez’s intentions at this point.”
Cantv said in a statement that is aware of the
nationalization plan and that the government hasn’t contacted
management yet. Alberto Canal, a Verizon spokesman, declined to
comment.
Verizon Communications Inc. is seeking to offload its 28.5
stake in Cantv to America Movil SA, Latin America’s largest
wireless carrier, as part of a purchase agreement signed last
year. Earlier this month, America Movil extended a deadline to
purchase Verizon’s holding in Cantv until Feb. 28 because
Venezuelan regulators hadn’t authorized the purchase.

`Disconcerting’

America Movil is controlled by billionaire Carlos Slim.
Slim agreed to buy $3.7 billion in Latin American assets from
New York-based Verizon last April.
Chavez said he will seek to strip the central bank of
independence from the government as part of a plan to overhaul
the constitution. “The central bank shouldn’t be autonomous.
That is one of the biggest mistakes of the constitution,”
Chavez said.
“These disconcerting policy announcements represent a
clear turn into deeper nationalist and interventionist policies
which can lead to further erosion of business confidence and the
country’s institutional fundamentals,” said Alberto Ramos,
senior Latin America economist with Goldman Sachs Group. Inc.
The bolivar’s value in unregulated trading is calculated
by comparing the domestic and foreign prices on shares of CA
Nacional Telefonos de Venezuela (CANTV), the country’s largest
phone company and the second weighted stock in the Venezuelan
Stock Market Index. Each American depositary receipt of Nacional
Telefonos in the U.S. is equal to seven local Class D shares.
The Nacional Telefonos shares became the reference rate for
street traders after investors realized that buying the
company’s local shares, converting them into ADRs and selling
them abroad was a legal way to buy dollars.

January 9th, 2007, 12:43 am

 

Alex said:

Are Bush’s Wars Winding Down or Heating Up?
Paul Craig Roberts

Most Americans believe that Bush’s Iraqi misadventure is over. The occupation has lost the support of the electorate, the Congress, the generals and the troops. The Democrats are sitting back waiting for Bush to come to terms with reality. They don’t want to be accused of losing the war by forcing Bush out of Iraq. There are no more troops to commit, and when the “surge” fails, Bush will have no recourse but to withdraw. A little longer, everyone figures, and the senseless killing will be over.
Recent news reports indicate that this conclusion could be an even bigger miscalculation than the original invasion.
On January 7 the London Times reported that it has learned from “several Israeli military sources” that “Israel has drawn up secret plans to destroy Iran’s uranium enrichment facilities with tactical nuclear weapons.”
The Israeli Foreign Ministry denied the report.
The Times reports that “Israeli and American officials have met several times to consider military action. Military analysts said the disclosure of the plans could be intended to put pressure on Tehran to halt enrichment, cajole America into action or soften up world opinion in advance of an Israeli attack.”
In other news reports Israeli General Oded Tira is quoted as follows: “President Bush lacks the political power to attack Iran. As an American strike in Iran is essential for our existence, we must help him pave the way by lobbying the Democratic Party (which is conducting itself foolishly) and US newspaper editors. We need to do this in order to turn the Iranian issue to a bipartisan one and unrelated to the Iraq failure.”
General Tira gives the Israel Lobby the following tasks: (1) “turn to Hillary Clinton and other potential presidential candidates in the Democratic Party so that they support immediate action by Bush against Iran,” (2) exert influence on European countries so that “Bush will not be isolated in the international arena again,” and (3) “clandestinely cooperate with Saudi Arabia so that it also persuades the US to strike Iran.”
Israel’s part, General Tira says, is to “prepare an independent military strike by coordinating flights in Iraqi airspace with the US. We should also coordinate with Azerbaijan the use of air bases in its territory and also enlist the support of the Azeri minority in Iran.”
British commentators report that “the British media appears to be softening us up for an attack on Iran.” Robert Fox writing in The First Post says, “Suddenly the smell of Britons being prepared for an attack on Iran is all pervasive.”
On January 7 the Jerusalem Post reported that Democratic House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer told the Israeli newspaper that “Iran with nuclear weapons is unacceptable” and that “the use of force against Teheran remained an option.” The Post notes that “Hoyer is considered close to the Jewish community and many Israeli supporters have hailed his elevation in the House.” Hoyer was the Israel Lobby’s first victory over House Speaker Nancy Pelosi who preferred Rep. John Murtha for the post. Murtha was the first important Democrat to call for withdrawal of US troops from Iraq.
On November 20 the Israeli newspaper, Ha’aretz, reported that President Bush said he would understand if Israel chose to attack Iran.
Bush showed that he was in Israel’s pocket when he blocked the world’s attempt to stop Israel’s bombing of Lebanese civilians and civilian infrastructure.
Many commentators believe that the failure of the neoconservatives’ “cakewalk war” has destroyed their influence. This is a mistaken conclusion. The neoconservatives are long time allies of Israel’s right-wing Likud Party and are part of the Israel Lobby in the US. The Israel Lobby represents the views of only a minority of American Jews but nevertheless essentially owns both political parties and most of the US media. As the neoconservatives are an important part of this powerful lobby, they remain extremely influential.
The Lobby works to increase the neoconservatives’ influence. To appreciate the Lobby’s influence, try to find columnists in the major print media and TV commentators who are not apologists for Israel, who do not favor attacking Iran, and who support withdrawing from Iraq. Recently, Bill “One-Note” Kristol, a rabid propagandist for war against Muslims, was given a column in Time magazine. Why would Time think its readers want to read a war propagandist? Could the reason be that the Israel Lobby arranged for Time to receive lucrative advertising contracts in exchange for a column for Kristol?
Neoconservatives have called for World War IV against Islam. In Commentary magazine Norman Podhoretz called for the cultural genocide of Islamic peoples. The war is already opened on four fronts: Iraq, Afghanistan, Somalia, and Iran.
The Bush administration has used its Ethiopian proxies to overthrow the Somali Muslims who overthrew the warlords who drove the US from Somalia. The US Navy and US intelligence are actively engaged with the Ethiopian troops in efforts to hunt down and capture or kill the Somali Muslims. US Embassy spokesman Robert Kerr in Nairobi said that the US has the right to pursue Somalia’s Islamists as part of the war on terror.
For at least a year the Bush administration has been fomenting and financing terrorist groups within Iran. Seymour Hersh and former CIA officials have exposed the Bush administration’s support of ethnic minority groups within Iran that are on the US State Department’s list of terrorist organizations. Last April US Representative Dennis Kucinich wrote a detailed letter to President Bush about US interference in Iran’s internal affairs. He received no reply.
The Israeli/neoconservative plan, of which Bush may be a part or simply be a manipulated element, is to provoke a crisis with Iran in which the US Congress will have to support Israel. Both the Israeli government and the American neoconservatives are fanatical. It is a mistake to believe that either will be guided by reason or any appreciation of the potentially catastrophic consequences of an attack on Iran.
US aircraft carriers sitting off Iran’s coast are sitting ducks for Iran’s Russian missiles. The neoconservatives would welcome another “new Pearl Harbor.”
The US media is totally unreliable. It cannot go against Israel, and it will wrap itself in the flag just as it did for the invasion of Iraq. The American public has been deceived (again) and believes that Iran is on the verge of possessing nuclear armaments to be used to wipe Israel off the map. The fact that Americans are such saps for propaganda makes effective opposition to the neoconservatives’ plan for WWIV practically impossible.
Large percentages of Americans still believe that Saddam Hussein was responsible for the 9/11 attack. Recent polls show that 32% still believe that Iraq gave substantial support to al-Qaeda, and 18% believe that Saddam Hussein was directly involved in the 9/11 attack. WXIA-TV in Atlanta posted viewers comments about Hussein’s execution on its web site. Atlantan Janet Wesselhoft was confident that Saddam Hussein is “the one who started terrorism in this country, he needs to be put to rest.”
Even the London Times is in the grip of Israeli propaganda. In its report of Israel’s plan to attack Iran with nuclear weapons, the Times says that Iranian president “Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has declared that ‘Israel must be wiped off the map.’” It has been shown by a number of credible experts that this quote is a made-up concoction taken completely out of context. Ahmadinejad said no such thing.
In a world ruled by propaganda, lies become truths. The power of the Israel Lobby is so great that it has turned former President Jimmy Carter, probably the most decent man ever to occupy the Oval Office and certainly the president who did the most in behalf of peace in the Middle East, into an anti-semite, an enemy of Israel. The American media, from its “conservative” end to its “liberal” end did its best to turn Carter into a pariah for telling a few truths about Israel’s mistreatment of the Palestinians in his book, Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid.
If truth be known, there is nothing to stop the Israeli/neoconservative cabal from widening the war in the Middle East.
As I previously reported, the neoconservatives believe that the use of nuclear weapons against Iran would force Muslims to realize that they have no recourse but to submit to the Israeli/US will. The use of nuclear weapons is being rationalized as necessary to destroy Iran’s underground facilities, but the real purpose is to terrorize Islam and to bring it to heel.
Until the US finds the courage to acquire a Middle East policy of its own, Americans will continue to reap the evil sowed by the Israel Lobby.

January 9th, 2007, 1:07 am

 

Ehsani2 said:

Instead of wasting time talking about geopolitics, we ought to be buying land on the coast

http://www.champress.net/?page=show_det&id=14017

January 9th, 2007, 1:43 am

 

Akbar Palace said:

Sam said,

“…the American people will revolt if we are pressed into another war, that Israel requested, and initiated.”

Sam,

Like most of the posters here, I’m afraid you are heavily in denial. The Americans were “pressed into war” when Arab fanatics hijacked 4 commercial airliners and flew them into skyscrapers.

Do you remember this or did you just unconsciously forget it?

Israel did not initiate this war, nor did Israel request it.

Alex asks:

“do you think Iran will actually hit Israel with a nuclear weapon?”

Perhaps because I’m the lone Jew here, my answer may give you and others a different perspective than what you are used to hearing.

Yes, I think Iran could very well lob a nuclear missile weapon against Israel, especially taking into account the words and actions of Ahmadinejad.

Jews have a unique perspective as we have seen a number of improbable circumstances occur during our thousands of years as a people. And we have survived every tyrannt who has popped up to threaten us.

January 9th, 2007, 1:44 am

 

Akbar Palace said:

Ford Prefect declares:

“Didn’t someone tell you that real conscientious Americans (even Republicans) were elected to both Houses who will finally steer America in the right direction and protect us from real terrorism without lying and without getting our young killed needlessly?”

Glad you’re interested in the well-being of Americans.

Why aren’t you equally interested in the well-being of Arabs? Are you going to speak with your Arab collegues about getting their “young killed needlessly”?

January 9th, 2007, 2:05 am

 

Habib said:

DID AKBAR JUST SAY SOMETHING?

January 9th, 2007, 3:03 am

 

sam said:

What does 9/11 have to do with Iraq, Syria, Palestine, and Lebanon. The war was started when we didn’t listen to the Soviets, when they invaded Afganistan. Akhbar you act like you know things. It’s so typical of Jews to keep claiming anti-semitism, or anti-Israeli if you don’t agree with them. Your quick to call people terrorist sympathisers, Dr. Landis website, is one of the most unpartial websites that can keep me updated on news from the Mid East. The bottom line, when someone like Dr. Landis post the truth on the ground, people like you, claim anti-semetic, or your just too ignorant. For your information, plans to invade Iraq were planned a couple of years before 9/11. On 9/10/01 I was watching the evening news, when Cheney popped on the screen, claiming Saddam had WMD. The next day, the towers went down. It’s what the neo-cons, and the Israeli hawks wanted. The Israelis in turn got a blanc-check to massascre Pals. The Israelis perpetrated and covered up a massacre in Jenin. The core issue is the land grabbing has to stop.

January 9th, 2007, 5:22 am

 

Alex said:

Akbar,

please distinguish between your fears (which are understandable) and your logical expectations .. if you expect Iran to hit Israel with nuclear weapons … can you come up with a whole story that makes sense? … you did not comment on my other possibilities: will Israel in that case reply with many more nuclear weapons? … and if so, was Iran suicidal to start by hitting the much stronger Israel? .. I know you believe the Iranians hate Jews. But do you believe they also hate themselves and are suicidal?

January 9th, 2007, 5:46 am

 

Dameem said:

Typical American government stuff.
They always comment on how they felt while doing the stuff they supposedly “felt” like the wrong thing to do, they rarely comment on what they actually chose to do. I thought America was a democratic country, no one forces you to make decisions you don’t want.
(A young boys perspective)

January 9th, 2007, 6:18 am

 

youngSyria said:

Alex ,
I think Akbar would say ” yes, they hate themselves and they are suicidal”. right Akbar ?!!

January 9th, 2007, 7:18 am

 

youngSyria said:

An artical about the situation in ME and the world…not badFine Mess You Got Us Into This Time

January 9th, 2007, 7:57 am

 

Ford Prefect said:

http://www.latimes.com/news/printedition/asection/la-fg-neighbors9jan09,1,352236.story?coll=la-news-a_section&ctrack=1&cset=true

Working Syria, Iran into talks on Iraq
By Paul Richter, Times Staff Writer
January 9, 2007

WASHINGTON — Although President Bush has rejected proposals for direct talks with Syria and Iran over the future of Iraq, officials in his administration are working to find a way to include those countries in negotiations in a way that might be acceptable to Bush.

The president and top aides have insisted they will not talk to Iran until it suspends its nuclear program, and they have shunned Syria over its meddling in Lebanon. However, the White House has come under growing domestic and international pressure to negotiate with the two countries as it revamps its troubled strategy in Iraq.

Bush plans to address the nation within days on a new U.S. war strategy, which is expected to involve additional troops and stepped-up pressure on the government in Baghdad to devise political compromises to share power and oil revenue.

Last month, the Iraq Study Group, a U.S. commission whose report has topped best-seller lists, urged the administration to hold talks with Iran and Syria as a necessary step toward addressing the violence in Iraq and potential instability throughout the Middle East.

The White House brushed off the panel’s recommendation that the diplomatic efforts begin before the end of 2006. But administration officials said a new multinational effort not yet underway could involve Iran and Syria.

One U.S. official familiar with administration talks said there was substantial support for “revitalizing” the effort to involve influential neighbors in seeking solutions on Iraq.

“This is something that Iran and Syria could be part of, if they wanted, but that would not be seen as us reaching out specifically to them,” said the official, who declined to be identified because of the sensitivity of the talks.

The official said the effort might entail expanding a United Nations-led effort to help Iraq’s economy “into the political realm” — allowing regional neighbors and world powers to use their influence to calm sectarian violence.

By including political issues, the new effort would be broader than either the U.N.-led effort, called the International Compact for Iraq, or a U.S.-led collaboration involving the United States, six Persian Gulf Arab states, Jordan and Egypt.

Those familiar with the White House discussions said they weren’t certain whether any such diplomatic initiative would be announced as part of the shift in Iraq strategy that Bush is expected to lay out in his upcoming speech. One official speculated that any announcement would come later in the year.

It is unclear whether Bush approves of the efforts to find a way to involve Iran and Syria. He and top officials have opposed direct talks with either country, saying Iran is using its civilian nuclear program to develop atomic weapons and Syria is working to destabilize Lebanon.

But top aides have said those concerns don’t exclude the possibility of group collaborations that could put U.S. officials in close contact with Syrians and Iranians on issues of mutual interest.

Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, for example, noted in a recent interview that U.S. officials met with representatives of Syria, Iran and more than 30 other countries last fall to discuss the International Compact for Iraq, a 3-month-old effort.

“We need an international approach to Iraq…. It’s been our policy for some time,” Rice said then.

Administration officials said such group talks differed from one-on-one negotiations.

“This is not at all equivalent to having direct bilateral talks,” said a State Department official, who also declined to be identified. “But we have no objection to being in the same room with all of Iraq’s neighbors, including Iran and Syria. We want Iraq to have good relations with all of its neighbors.”

Former Secretary of State Colin L. Powell and other U.S. officials worked side by side with Iranians and Syrians in an international conference convened by the Iraqi government in November 2004 in Sharm el Sheik, Egypt. The gathering, aimed at building more international support for Iraq’s U.S.-appointed government, was supported by the Bush administration.

The Iraq Study Group, headed by former Secretary of State James A. Baker III and former Rep. Lee H. Hamilton (D-Ind.), said a new effort could help push Iraq toward political reconciliation.

“Iraq’s leaders may not be able to come together unless they receive the necessary signals and support from abroad,” the panel said in its report. “This support will not materialize of its own accord, and must be encouraged by the United States.”

Syrian officials indicated a willingness to meet with U.S. counterparts after the release of the report, but Iran’s government rebuffed a recent U.S. offer for a meeting involving Zalmay Khalilzad, the U.S. ambassador to Iraq.

Although the administration has rejected the Iraq Study Group’s recommendation for “extensive and substantive” talks with Syria and Iran, some proponents point out that the collaboration now under consideration could lead to a quiet broadening of the conversations.

James Dobbins, a former administration envoy and advisor to the Baker-Hamilton commission, predicted the administration would take part in a new regional collaboration on Iraq involving Iran and Syria.

“That’s probably how the administration will square the circle of needing to move forward without actually appearing to be inconsistent” with demands that Iran and Syria cease their objectionable conduct, he said.

But Dobbins questioned whether such meetings would be fruitful without one-on-one conversations on broader differences.

“You’ve had multilateral meetings before, but they haven’t amounted to much,” said Dobbins, director of the Rand Corp.’s International Security and Defense Policy program. “The question is whether the administration takes advantage of this to engage in the kind of bilateral exchanges that would make the gatherings productive.”

Other experts doubt the administration would talk to Tehran and Damascus.

“Bush is committed to the idea that these guys just aren’t going to help us,” said Steven A. Cook, a Middle East analyst at the Council on Foreign Relations.

*

paul.richter@latimes.com

January 9th, 2007, 9:18 am

 

simohurtta said:

Ehsani2 wonders about Chavez’s economical moves. Ehsani2 as an economist knows perfectly well that most western countries have had their strategic industries state owned. Actually privatizing is a rather new concept also in western capitalistic countries and it was done when the national economy has very developed. For example most telecom companies in western Europe were little over one decade ago state owned. Same with big electricity, steel etc. manufacturers / producers.

Capital is not generated in underdeveloped countries by allowing foreign investors export raw materials and the work of the cheap labour with minimal compensation. Venezuela has had oil production for a very long time, but the economy has developed astonishing slowly compared to the possibilities.

One has not to be an economist to understand that the essential problem in oil (or other natural resources) producing countries is how much of the profits stay in the national economy in form of taxes, dividends, salaries etc. There is a difference if a state owned company based solution can give work to local people, pay taxes, develop own technology etc compared to the alternative that a oil giant drills oil with foreign labour and pays fragments to some corrupt leaders Swiss accounts. For example Iraq’s national economy developed fast after Iraq’s oil production was nationalized in the 70’s.

Ehsani2’s free trade dream world is not without problems. For example Nordic countries opened the electricity markets for free trade (NORDPOOL). The same happened as in California. The energy prices have almost doubled in a relative short time and the giant energy produces (before state owned, now privatized) manipulate the markets. The manipulation is done by cutting of the production of the cheapest electricity production facilities (nuclear power station is “repared”), because the spot price formation is based on the most expensive (polluting) energy production form (coal). This causes that the energy giants are now floating with money. Naturally they do not invest so much in Nordic countries because it would cut the high profit margins. Instead the enormous profits are used for extraordinary high options for managers and buying foreign energy companies, in Russia and EU. Now even the most pro free trade supporters are demanding more state control and speak about establishing new state owned energy companies.

Free trade and private ownership is an excellent solution in most industries where sufficient competition exist but it is intellectual dishonesty to claim that unlimited free trade in it self is a solution for underdeveloped countries.

January 9th, 2007, 11:29 am

 

Akbar Palace said:

“please distinguish between your fears (which are understandable) and your logical expectations .. if you expect Iran to hit Israel with nuclear weapons … can you come up with a whole story that makes sense? … you did not comment on my other possibilities: will Israel in that case reply with many more nuclear weapons? … and if so, was Iran suicidal to start by hitting the much stronger Israel? .. I know you believe the Iranians hate Jews. But do you believe they also hate themselves and are suicidal?”

Alex,

Thanks. Basically I am “cautiously” optimistic. I believe there will be peace in the Middle East, however, the question is how much blood will be spilled in order to get there. Perhaps none, perhaps more.

Will Iran get nuclear weapons and hold the Middle East hostage to their foreign policy and support of terrorism, or will they be prevented from acquiring them? No one knows for sure.

Personally, if the intelligence agencies think Iran is close enough to producing an atom bomb, I think the IDF will be sent on a mission to destroy this capability.

Before this occurs, I am hoping the international community will be able to prevent the Iranians from acquiring nuclear weapons, but I doubt it.

In a larger sense, I see Iran as the new leader and king-pin in the War on Terror, and the sooner they can be “defanged”, the sooner we can focus on peace in the Middle East. If countries like Iran, Syria and Palestine stopped exporting terrorism, this would be the best solution for everyone involved including the peoples who live in these 3 nations.

January 9th, 2007, 12:23 pm

 

Ehsani2 said:

Akbar,

Here is a challenge for you:

Next time you post, try to avoid the mention of “exporting terrorism”. Before you click on “submit comment”, make sure that you don’t have the word “terror” in your writeup.

You believe that these three nations above export and use terror. We get it. I know that Sean Hannity and Michael Savaage remind you of this on a nightly basis and it is hard for you not to talk about it yourself. But, please try to spare us the same repetetive line.

January 9th, 2007, 12:32 pm

 

Ford Prefect said:

Ehsani, Yes! Thanks a million for speaking our minds.

January 9th, 2007, 12:46 pm

 

Ehsani2 said:

From the front page of the Wall street Journal (sorry had to paste the whole article)

If Iraq Worsens, Allies
See ‘Nightmare’ Case
By NEIL KING JR. and GREG JAFFE
January 9, 2007; Page A1

WASHINGTON — As President Bush prepares to unveil his latest Iraq strategy,
Arab allies are worried about what might happen if the plan fails: that
worsening strife could engulf the entire region, sparking a wider war in the
middle of the world’s largest oil patch.

The potential of a much larger regional conflict that pits Sunnis against
Shiites is increasingly on the minds of both Arab leaders and U.S. military
planners, according to regional diplomats and U.S. officials. Some are calling
such a possible outcome the “nightmare scenario.” A wider conflict appears more
plausible now because, even as Iraq is separating along sectarian lines,
regional dynamics are shoving neighboring nations into two rival camps.

On one side is a Shiite-led arc running from Iran into central Iraq, through
Syria and into Lebanon. On the other side lie American allies Saudi Arabia,
Jordan and Egypt, along with Persian Gulf states such as Qatar and the United
Arab Emirates. These Sunni regimes are horrified at the emerging, increasingly
radicalized Shiite bloc, largely financed and inspired by Iran, Arab diplomats
say.

In the middle is Iraq, which looks less and less like a buffer between these two
axes of Middle East power, and more of a no-man’s land that is bringing them
into conflict. Arab officials fear that if the U.S. withdraws from there, or
diminishes its troop numbers in ways that Iraq’s own weak military can’t fill,
the two sides could come into direct and bloody conflict.

The U.S. is now eager to tamp down these rising jitters over a wider clash
within the Arab world. Mr. Bush, in a televised speech tomorrow night, will
detail plans for reconstruction aid and a temporary surge in the number of U.S.
troops in Iraq. The troop boost is meant in part to calm regional fears of a
U.S. pullout. Mr. Bush is expected to send Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice
to the region soon to help explain his new Iraq strategy in what could be her
most comprehensive trip there in more than a year.

QUESTION OF THE DAY

1 ? Vote:2 How worried are you that the Iraq conflict will develop into a
regional war?

? Powder Keg: A map of the various forces the could be ensnared in a broader
war.

The U.S. is also pushing a wide-ranging strategy to persuade its Sunni allies
that it is serious about counteracting the rise of Iran — in exchange for Arab
help in Iraq and the Palestinian territories.

Key to the effort is the continued promise to keep U.S. forces in Iraq for as
long as necessary. But the U.S. is also beefing up U.S. forces in the Persian
Gulf and plans to deepen security cooperation with Gulf allies. The Pentagon has
proposed sending a second carrier battle group to the Gulf region. There are
also advanced plans under way to knit together the air-defense systems of the
six smaller Gulf states, including Qatar, Oman and the United Arab Emirates, and
to build a U.S.-administered missile-defense system. Similarly, the Air Force
is laying plans to step up exercises with Arab allies in the region. One
proposal calls for the U.S. to hold combined air exercises with Oman and the
UAE.

Contingency Plans

Arab governments are putting in place their own contingency plans in case Iraq
begins to fall apart.

The Saudis have warned the Bush administration that they are prepared to aid the
Sunni militias in Iraq if the Sunni population there becomes imperiled, a Saudi
diplomat said. Jordanian officials have told the Pentagon that they may move
troops into Iraq’s uninhabited western desert as a buffer if events there spiral
out of control, according to U.S. military officials. Turkish officials, who
are grappling with a separatist Kurdish movement in their country, say they
would oppose the creation of an independent Kurdistan in northern Iraq. They
also say they are prepared to defend Iraq’s Turkmen population, who share a
common ethnicity with Turkey’s majority population, should it come under attack.
Even Syria, which the U.S. alleges has been abetting the conflict, is
expressing alarm over the potential fracturing of Iraq.

“Can you imagine the effect of Iraq breaking apart and each group looking for a
regional or international power to support their territorial claims or their
ethnic claims?” asks Imad Moustapha, Syria’s ambassador to Washington. “The
repercussions will be terrible, not just for Iraq but for all the countries.”

An all-out civil war in Iraq that drags in bordering countries would send
shockwaves through the global oil market, potentially pushing oil prices to more
than $100 a barrel, oil analysts predict. Iraq, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia and Iran
together hold about two-thirds of the world’s proven oil reserves.

Two scholars, Kenneth Pollack at the Brookings Institution and Daniel Byman of
the Rand Corp., have worked for months on a study that lays out possible
consequences in a worst-case scenario, from skyrocketing oil prices to huge,
destabilizing refugee flows. They argue that Iraq could become the world’s
premier sanctuary for terrorism and that strife there could spark minority
uprisings in Saudi Arabia, Iran, Syria — and even among Turkey’s sizable
Kurdish population.

Iraq’s neighbors fear the increasing reach of Shiite Iran, whose expansion has
been held in check for centuries by the Sunnis of Iraq. Among all of Iraq’s
neighbors, Iran is the one country that could clearly benefit from a possible
breakup of Iraq along sectarian lines. The emergence of a large, oil-rich and
devoutly Shiite Arab state carved from Iraq’s southern half, with a government
closely tied to Iran, would radically alter the face of the Middle East and
grant more leverage to Shiite leaders in Tehran.

Core Fear

Another core fear is that a sectarian bloodbath in Iraq could draw in
neighboring states, which would feel pressed to defend their own interests or to
protect their brethren in Iraq.

Last month’s bipartisan Iraq Study Group report sketched out such a potential
sequence of events, based on interviews of senior Arab diplomats by the panel’s
top advisers. In one of the bleakest public assessments to date of what it
called the “consequences of continued decline in Iraq,” the report describes a
potential cauldron of ethnic cleansing in Iraq that could draw in the country’s
main neighbors: Turkey from the north to prevent the Iraqi Kurds from declaring
independence; Iran from the west to secure the country’s south and gain control
over oil fields in that region.

“Ambassadors from neighboring countries told us that they fear the distinct
possibility of Sunni-Shia clashes across the Islamic world,” the report notes.
“Such a broader sectarian conflict could open a Pandora’s box of problems —
including the radicalization of populations, mass movements of populations, and
regime changes — that might take decades to play out.”

Some of the study group’s top advisers contend that the process of ethnic
cleansing, particularly by Iraqi Shiites trying to rid cities and regions of
their Sunni populations, is already under way. “We may be about one-third
through the process, with little ability to do anything about it,” says Wayne
White, a former Middle East intelligence official at the State Department.

But critics of the panel’s core recommendation — that the U.S. begin a rapid
drawdown of American combat forces in Iraq that would culminate in a full
withdrawal of combat troops by early 2008 — say such a move would leave a
military vacuum in Iraq that could open the way for an upsurge in Shiite
violence against the Sunnis in Iraq.

The Sunni-Shiite split goes back to the early days of Islam, when a bloody feud
broke out over which of the Prophet Muhammad’s descendants should lead the
Muslim faithful. Sunnis now predominate throughout the Middle East, with the
exception of Iran. Shiites have recently experienced a resurgence in influence
in the region, not just with the rise of Iran but also with the Shiite
ascendancy in Iraq and Hezbollah’s success in fighting Israel in Lebanon last
summer.

High-level Arab officials have been warning for months that if left unchecked,
the current slide into chaos in Iraq could spark a regional sectarian clash,
according to U.S. and Arab diplomats. They have begun to share their contingency
plans with top U.S. officials, in part because they hope to jolt the Bush
administration into taking stronger action in Iraq and to secure the continued
presence of U.S. troops there.

Jordanian officials have suggested that if Iraq were to fall into a full-out
civil war, Jordan would push troops to the border, and possibly across it, as
far west as Rutbah about 80 miles inside Iraq, to stem an expected flow of Sunni
refugees, says a U.S. military planner who recently met with leaders in the
region.

“The danger is that if the Jordanians carve out a security zone or buffer zone
inside Iraq, that the Syrians, Saudis and Turks will all follow,” says the
military planner. The Syrians could move into western Nineveh province, while
the Turks could send troops to protect the Sunni Turkmen population in the
north, he says.

Jordanian officials say they are driven by two main concerns. The first is that
Sunnis fleeing Shiite oppression could turn Amman into the center of Sunni
resistance against the Shiite-dominated government in Baghdad. Already the
Jordanian capital is home to about 900,000 Iraqis, who make up as much as 15% of
the population. The Jordanians worry that Iraq’s Shiite militias could send
small teams of militants to Amman to launch assassination campaigns or terror
attacks against the Sunni insurgency.

“We have quite enough instability in Jordan as it is,” says one senior Jordanian
official.

Jordan’s other big fear is shared by the U.S.’s other Sunni allies throughout
the region — that an Iraqi Shiite government closely allied with Iran could
dominate the region. Jordan is one of the most uniformly Sunni countries in the
Gulf. But when U.S. military officials visited the region recently, their
Jordanian counterparts described with alarm how 200 of their Sunni citizens had
converted to Shia Islam in recent months. The Jordanians said the converts were
motivated by the Shiite-dominated Hezbollah’s tough stand against Israel over
the summer and the growing power of radical cleric Moqtada al-Sadr in Iraq.

“It seems preposterous, but it shows how hyper-reactive they are to it,” says
the U.S. military planner.

Saudi Arabia, which has a Sunni-majority population but significant pockets of
Shiites in many of its oil-rich provinces, has also voiced alarm over the
growing popularity of both Hezbollah and the Sadr movement in its own eastern
expanses. “The Shiites in those provinces love Sadr and Nasrallah,” Hezbollah’s
leader, the U.S. military planner says. Saudi officials also fret over the
prospect of a deepening civil war in Iraq.

Huge Challenge

A huge challenge for the U.S. is that many of its Sunni allies in the region
already view the current situation in Iraq as a defeat for their cause and a
near-complete victory for Iran. “They refer to the Shiite Islamic parties in
Iraq as the Persians,” the military planner says, using the historical term for
Persian-speaking Iranians.

In recent weeks, some of the U.S. allies in the Gulf have quietly advocated
breaking up the Iraqi government in favor of a military dictatorship, governed
by a secular Shiite, a Sunni and a Kurd, according to the military planner. The
military dictatorship would rule until the country could be stabilized and new
elections held. Religious parties, like those that currently dominate Iraqi
politics, would be banned from participating in future elections.

U.S. officials have ruled out such an option, saying that it runs contrary to
their desire to bring democracy to Iraq and that it would never be accepted by
Iraq’s Shiites, who are already largely in control.

Some Middle East analysts dismiss the possibility of intervention in Iraq by its
Sunni-led neighbors, saying these fragile regimes are interested foremost in
their own survival. But U.S. officials say the paranoia surrounding Iran and the
rise of Shiite influence could lead them to conclude that their survival
depends on intervening on behalf of Iraq’s Sunni minority. Some of the
war-gaming, both within the Bush administration and among outside experts,
focuses on such potential scenarios.

Under one scenario, sketched by Mr. White of the Iraq Study Group, Iraq’s
Shiites would launch an extensive campaign to drive the Sunnis out of large
areas of central Iraq. Fearing a rout of the Sunni population, Saudi Arabia
would finance a large-scale counteroffensive, funneling aid to former Iraqi
military officers through Jordan, which has longstanding ties to Iraq’s Sunni
military class. Egypt would do its part by providing guns, munitions, artillery
and vehicles.

“What people forget is that the Sunnis comprise nearly the entire top brass of
the former Iraqi army and nearly all of the old Republican Guard,” says Mr.
White. “You give them the guns and proper equipment and they will become a
formidable force against the Shiite militias.”

The possibility of a full-blown civil war in Iraq dissolving into a regional
conflict “is a scenario that nearly everyone was rejecting just a few months
ago,” he says. “Not anymore.”

January 9th, 2007, 1:04 pm

 

idaf said:

Finally, Syria has decided to let in the Palestinians refugees from Iraq. Although, this will add to the 1.5 million+ of Iraqi/Palestinian/Lebanese/Turkish-Kurd refugees in Syria, I’m repeatedly astonished by the reaction of Syrians when more refugees come to Syria. As Josh and many mentioned before, the Syrian people have historically been hospitable to millions of refugees in the past century, regardless of the economic situation in Syria and regardless of the religion/ethnicity/sect of the refugees. Given the economic situation in Syria and the rising costs of properties and services because of the influx of refugees since 2003 (among other reasons), one would expect -as usually happens in Europe and more recently in the states- that people will complain to the government and demand expulsions of refugees or “closing the door” to more of them. The actual reaction you get from your average Syrian on such news is “the government should’ve let them in a long time ago”! This is a phenomenon that should be studied: Why do Syrians feel genuine pride in their historic hospitality for refugees? Why is xenophobia almost inexistent in Syria? Why does even some Americans think that the “statue of liberty belongs in Syria”? Why are Iraqi Christians choosing “Baathist” Syria over “free” Iraq or “moderate” Jordan? Going back to history, even Jews chose Damascus and Aleppo as their most preferred refuge in the region (centuries before the creation of Israel). Why did Armenians, sharkas, Turkish-Kurds, Iraqi-Kurds, Chechens.. etc. chose Syria as their preferred refuge in the last 100 years or so? By current world standards (even in rich and peaceful Scandinavian countries), this is impressive! It is even more so when you consider that Syria is a middle eastern country with an old economy!

This brings me to Akbar, “exporting terrorism” my friend is a lot more humane than “exporting refugees” through terror, which Israel has mastered since its creation, and which creates even more devastating and lasting human catastrophes than “exporting terror”!

On an economic note, Dardari has just announced a new economic reform program to be put in implementation starting this month. Among other things, private banks in Syria will soon be allowed 60% ownership. This means that we might see the likes of HSBC and City Bank in Syria in 2007.

January 9th, 2007, 3:15 pm

 

Akbar Palace said:

Ehsani2 said:

“Next time you post, try to avoid the mention of “exporting terrorism”.”

Ehsani2,

I think it would be easier if you write what you want and I do the same. This isn’t Syria Habibi.

Looks like the bees are busy in Lebanon…

http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-3350364,00.html

January 9th, 2007, 5:13 pm

 

Atassi said:

Syrian opposition’s Kilo to go on trial Jan 23

9 January 2007
11:10
Agence France Presse
English
Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2007 All reproduction and presentation rights reserved.

DAMASCUS, Jan 9, 2007 (AFP) –

Leading opposition figure and writer Michel Kilo is to go on trial on January 23 before a criminal court in the Syrian capital, defence lawyer Khalil Maatuk said Tuesday.

Kilo and communist activist Mahmud Issa both lost appeals in December for charges against them to be dropped for allegedly publishing false information and provoking dissent.

Issa will go on trial the same day, along with two other activists, Khalil Hussein and Suleiman al-Shummar, who are on the run, Maatuk said.

Kilo and Issa were arrested in May along with eight others for signing a petition calling for Syrian recognition of Lebanon’s independence.

They were accused of provoking religious and racial dissent, insulting official institutions, trying to “weaken national sentiment,” damaging the image of the state and exposing Syria to the danger of aggression, the National Organisation for Human Rights in Syria said.

Issa is also charged with inciting a foreign country to attack Syria, it said.

The trial of lawyer Anwar Bunni, who was arrested with Kilo and Issa, opened in October and is due to resume on January 21. The other seven arrested last May were released.

“In 2006 the net closed in” on the opposition, Bunni told AFP by telephone from his prison near Damascus, referring to a crackdown after a brief period of political openness.

“There was a wave of arrests, travel bans, Internet sites blocked, and torture (in prisons) continued,” said Bunni, who has spent almost the past eight months behind bars.

He called for the release of political prisoners and the scrapping of emergency laws in force since 1963, and urged the UN human rights commission and Security Council to press for human rights in Syria to be respected.

January 9th, 2007, 5:52 pm

 

t_desco said:

MI chief: Al-Qaida militants sent to Lebanon to attack UNIFIL

Dozens to hundreds of Al-Qaida militants have arrived in Lebanon from Iraq and Pakistan in order to carry out terrorist attacks on UNIFIL forces and other western elements in Lebanon, Military Intelligence chief Major General Amos Yadlin said on Tuesday.

According to Yadlin, the organization ordered its militants to disperse in Syria, Lebanon and Egypt in order to carry out attacks there.
Haaretz

January 9th, 2007, 8:23 pm

 

Alex said:

very interesting and refreshing:

Prime Minister: Unilateralism policy has been a failure

By Aluf Benn, Haaretz Correspondent

Prime Minister Ehud Olmert recently expressed his disappointment with the results of Israel’s two unilateral withdrawals, saying that the violence that broke out in both Lebanon and the Gaza Strip in recent months convinced him that there is no point in any future unilateral moves of this kind.

In an interview with the Chinese news agency Xinhua prior to his departure Monday for a three-day visit to China, the prime minister said that he believes in the establishment of a Palestinian state alongside Israel. In order to achieve this, he added, Israel will have to withdraw from a large part of the territories that it controls today, and “we are ready to do this.”

“A year ago, I believed that we would be able to do this unilaterally,” the prime minister said, referring to a withdrawal from the West Bank. “However, it should be said that our experience in Lebanon and the Gaza Strip is not encouraging. We pulled out of Lebanon unilaterally, and see what happened. We pulled out of the Gaza Strip completely, to the international border, and every day they are firing Qassam rockets at Israelis.”

January 9th, 2007, 8:56 pm

 

3antar said:

Akbar Palace said:
“Be careful what you wish for. Looks like the hard-left in the US congress isn’t going to stand for Islamofascist nuclear states either…”

as usual, you rush into labelling people and build your argument on lack of understanding. i guess this puts your mind at ease. here:

http://www.counterpunch.org/hossein10262006.html

January 9th, 2007, 9:23 pm

 

ugarit said:

It’s so funny that Akbar thinks that Kerry represents the far-left. Kerry would be considered centrist even in Israel. Ah but I forgot that we’re in the USA where the knowledge base of the average person is quite atrocious.

January 9th, 2007, 10:53 pm

 

Akbar Palace said:

Ugarit,

Who are your favorite centrist and/or leftist politicians in Syria?

January 9th, 2007, 11:30 pm

 

majedkhaldoun said:

Isreal is the cause of all evil in the world

January 10th, 2007, 12:37 am

 
 

Akbar Palace said:

majedkhaldoun said,

“Isreal is the cause of all evil in the world”

Evidently, majedkhaldoun is a student of Al-Queda and Ahmadinejad (did I miss anyone).

http://memri.org/bin/articles.cgi?Page=archives&Area=ia&ID=IA23505

January 10th, 2007, 5:15 am

 

Alex said:

Akbar,

Calling everyone you do not like “a terrorist” is not much better than “Israel is the cause of all evil in the world”

Anyway, I will not get into that, I wanted to continue with yesterday’s topic (Iran): So from your answer earlier, do I assume that you are not too concerned that Iran will go for a mutual suicide with Israel (by actually using hte bomb)but will instead only rely its new status to be able to act very confident (or arrogant).

So there is no real nuclear danger on Israel, is there?

January 10th, 2007, 5:21 am

 

Alex said:

Here is something insteresting:

RUSSIAN ENVOY TO UN WANTS OTHER COUNTRIES NAMED

But of course the Americans and the french refused .. they belive it is not good to name suspects or suspect countries … except in the case of Syria where it was OK to name it 1 minute after Hariri was killed.

January 10th, 2007, 5:22 am

 

MSK said:

Dear IDAF,

You titled your post (& the link) “Finally, Syria has decided to let in the Palestinians refugees from Iraq”, but the article you linked doesn’t state or talk about that at all.

The article is about the establishment of a camp for Palestinians from Iraq who are already in Damascus.

There is nothing in the article that suggests that those stranded at Tanaf (Iraqi-Syrian border) have been allowed into the country.

(http://joshualandis.com/blog/?p=131#comment-3244)

I agree with you about the general hospitality of Syrian citizens, but have a few comments about your rather …. let’s say “interesting” version of history:

– Iraqi Christians do not choose Iraq ’cause, well, there’s a Civil War there & Jordan has, after taking in huge numbers of refugees, been closed. Most Iraqi Christians actually leave for the West.

– Could you please elaborate on your claim that “even Jews chose Damascus and Aleppo as their most preferred refuge in the region (centuries before the creation of Israel)”? When was that? And why would they seek refuge – from whom and/or where? There were many more Jews in Baghdad and Cairo (not to speak of Constantinople or cities in Persia) than in Damascus/Aleppo.

– Armenians did not “flee to Syria”. They were deported en masse in 1915/16 from their places of habitation in what is now eastern Turkey southward, towards the Syrian desert where they were supposed to have been put in camps. Most of those who survived that process (in which about 800,000 to 1.5 million died) actually ended up in what is now Lebanon or abroad, not in what is now Syria. Feel free to talk to the Armenians in Aleppo about that.

– Circassians (in Arabic “Sharkas”) were settled by Sultan Abd al-Hamid in what is now Syria & Jordan along the railroad tracks in some kind of guardian settlements, so they would protect the railroad against attacks. There was little choice those Circassians had. Nor were the original inhabitants asked whether they wanted to be “hospitable”. Of course, most of those areas were sparsely settled anyway.

– Chechens: Same story as for Circassian. They are from the same region (Caucasus region, that saw many of its Muslim inhabitants migrate into the Ottoman Empire after the Russian conquest & subsequent put-down of local rebellions).

– Turkish Kurds: When did Kurds from Turkey migrate to Syria? Or are you talking about Kurds from Qamishle who moved to Damascus? Those didn’t get “taken in by Syrians” but instead already lived in the area for millenia.

– Iraqi Kurds either fall under the same category as other post-2003 Iraqi refugees OR were given an abode by the Syrian regime during the pre-2003 era in the context of the Assad-Saddam enmity.

Dear Josh,

I recommend that you put up a list of basic readings for all those interested in the history of Syria and the region. Many of the comments & debates here are based on half-information, semi-truths, and a very simple & ideologically tweaked “knowledge” of history.

–MSK

http://www.aqoul.com

January 10th, 2007, 10:16 am

 

Akbar Palace said:

“So from your answer earlier, do I assume that you are not too concerned that Iran will go for a mutual suicide with Israel (by actually using hte bomb)but will instead only rely its new status to be able to act very confident (or arrogant).”

Alex –

I am VERY concerned “that Iran will go for a mutual suicide with Israel”. But I cannot predict what will actually happen.

There are a number of countries that have nuclear capability. And most of those countries that have this capability have stable, responsible government, except for 2 or 3:

North Korea, Iran, and possibly Pakistan and/or Russia.

Iran’s statements and actions could be a bluff, or it may not be. Ahmadinejad is an anti-semite who is leading a theocratic Islamic state to “wipe Israel off the map”. Of course, he is not be the first tyrant to have such a national policy, so I suppose because we Jews have learned enough from history to take these tyrants seriously. He will be watched rather closely, unfortunately.

Believe it or not, there is a very real nuclear danger on Israel. Isolating Iran is not just an exercise for fun and games. Just ask the Saudis.

January 10th, 2007, 12:09 pm

 

t_desco said:

CIA gets the go-ahead to take on Hizbollah

The Central Intelligence Agency has been authorised to take covert action against Hizbollah as part of a secret plan by President George W. Bush to help the Lebanese government prevent the spread of Iranian influence. Senators and congressmen have been briefed on the classified “non-lethal presidential finding” that allows the CIA to provide financial and logistical support to the prime minister, Fouad Siniora.

The finding was signed by Mr Bush before Christmas after discussions between his aides and Saudi Arabian officials. Details of its existence, known only to a small circle of White House officials, intelligence officials and members of Congress, have been passed to The Daily Telegraph.

It authorises the CIA and other US intelligence agencies to fund anti-Hizbollah groups in Lebanon and pay for activists who support the Siniora government. The secrecy of the finding means that US involvement in the activities is officially deniable.

Prince Bandar bin-Sultan, the former Saudi Arabian ambassador to Washington, is understood to have been closely involved in the decision to prop up Mr Siniora’s administration and the Israeli government, which views Iran as its chief enemy, has also been supportive.
Daily Telegraph

Bandar is rumored to become the next Saudi FM:

“Saudis who have intimate knowledge of the discussions regarding the possible reshuffle said Al Faisal, who has had health problems, might be replaced by Crown Prince Sultan’s son Prince Bandar, a former ambassador to Washington and current secretary of the National Security Council.”
AP

Neo-cons are still calling the shots. Jim Lobe on deputy national security adviser J D Crouch II:

The superhawk behind the surge
Asia Times

Russia, US differ on states impeding Lebanon probe

Russia wants the U.N. Security Council to find out which nations are not cooperating fully with an investigation into political murders in Lebanon, Moscow’s U.N. ambassador said on Tuesday.

But France and the United States, among other Western council members, disagree with putting such a request to Serge Brammertz … .
Reuters

Whom are they protecting?

January 10th, 2007, 12:18 pm

 

ugarit said:

Akbar attempts a digresion: “Who are your favorite centrist and/or leftist politicians in Syria?”

Nice try. Still can’t justify why Kerry is the “far-left”. Pathetic.

January 10th, 2007, 12:41 pm

 

MSK said:

Dear all,

just for the record & in order to avoid further misconceptions:

In Iran, the President (right now: Mahmud Ahmadinejad) is NEITHER the head of state NOR the commander-in-chief of the Iranian military or even the Revolutionary Guards. That position is held by the Supreme Leader (right now: Ayatollah Ali Kamenei).

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Supreme_Leader_of_Iran

Ahmadinejad can say whatever he wants about foreign policy, but he doesn’t actually have any power to IMPLEMENT it on his own.

And, btw, he is not a tyrant by any stretch of the definition.

AP, I seriously suggest that you at least read the relevant Wiki articles about an issue before making sweeping statements.

On the other hand, playing the role of a troll here means you wouldn’t have to.

I am, AGAIN, asking you why exactly you’re here. And no, “for the same reason as you are” isn’t an answer.

–MSK

January 10th, 2007, 1:21 pm

 

3antar said:

Dear Josh,
MSK said: “I recommend that you put up a list of basic readings for all those interested in the history of Syria and the region. Many of the comments & debates here are based on half-information, semi-truths, and a very simple & ideologically tweaked “knowledge” of history.”

i totally agree … and second the suggestion of list of basic readings. with a short description of each book and its authors background. you owe us this much , god damn it!! only joking.

I would also suggest a list of word definitions. Some honourable members seem to mis-use terms throwing them about randomly without giving the meaning a thought or whether they fits the context. such as , the meaning of “Far Left”, “semitic” and “Islamofascism” and the like. 😉

better yet, how about a quiz everyone has to fill out before participating.

January 10th, 2007, 1:48 pm

 

majedkhaldoun said:

since Isreal was founded, the palastinean became refugee,many of them were killed,several wars erupted in the middle east,recently Isreal destroyed part of Beirut killing over thousand lebanese, killing children,IsreaLI PEOPLE(JEWS) PUSH president BUSH TO INVADE iRAQ under false pretexts,they turned out to be fabricated by jews,,the jews terrorist like Akbar palace are the worse terorist in the world,Akbar is terrorist,he is similar to Alqaeda and worse,he and his likes are the cause of evil in the world, Akabar ignore the facts,or twist them, and make false statement,he is projecting his terrorist personality on others,this is how wicked and evil he is.

January 10th, 2007, 2:51 pm

 

John Kilian said:

majedkhaldoun said: (January 10th, 2007, 12:37 am / #)

Isreal is the cause of all evil in the world
— end of quote —

I would ask the author to consider who is treated better, an Arab in Israel or a Jew in any Arab country? For all the talk of wanting Israel wiped off the map, there are a lot of Palestinians crying to gain entry into Israel to get work. You can make the case about the Palestinian refugees and military incursions and occupations harming its neighbors, but the real cause of misery for these people is what they do, or fail to do with their opportunities. The leaders with a positive vision for their people have long since settled into peaceful coexistence with Israel. Leaders that care not for the real needs of their people rally support for their failed states by scapegoating the Jewish State.

January 10th, 2007, 4:27 pm

 

3antar said:

John Kilian,
answer to ur question.
“I would ask the author to consider who is treated better, an Arab in Israel or a Jew in any Arab country?”
answer here is a Jew in an Arab country.
Fundamentally speaking, people from the middle east dont have any beef with Jews. The friction arises concerning Israelis or zionists. while Arabs in Israel are mistreated in a blatantly apartheid manner.

“there are a lot of Palestinians crying to gain entry into Israel to get work.”
true, the answer lies in the question. Palestinians need to work and since their territory is strangled and suffocated economically to the point of starvation, they have to “cry to gain entry” in order to eat and drink. thanks to the sanctions imposed by the zionist regime which precedes the election of Hamas. in fact Hamas is the result of policy imposed and further radicalism will awaits further state terrorism.

January 10th, 2007, 4:50 pm

 

Akbar Palace said:

MSK & 3ANTAR whine:

“I recommend that you put up a list of basic readings for all those interested in the history of Syria and the region.”

What for? We already know Jews are treated better in the Arab world than Israeli Arabs. And we already know that whatever Ahmadinejad declares, it carries no governmental weight. And we already know Isreal [sic] is “the cause of all evil in the world”.

John Kilian,

Your post above is right on. Obviously, you haven’t been reading enough about Syria and the Middle East.

MSK –

You and your forum buddies have a lot to learn. You’re lucky I’m here to educate you.

January 10th, 2007, 5:24 pm

 

Akbar Palace said:

MSK’s Lesson #1 – Who has more political rights? Iranian Jews or Israeli Muslims?

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Arab_citizens_of_Israel

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Persian_Jews

Please review the material and we’ll quiz you tomorrow…

January 10th, 2007, 5:31 pm

 

ausamaa said:

AKBAR PALCE, what? Is posting on Syria Comment a full time job for you? Your are a Zionist and most of the other participants are staunch anti-Zionists. Same as anyone who thiks that a state built by steal and fire on stolen land to advance the a interests of SINGLE religious group/race is something that is totaly absured. That much must be clear to you. A state whose only option if it wants to survive is to “kiss the hands of the Arabs” and to “try to convince them” that it represents no danger to them and that it would be a peacefull nieghbour and a true contributor, or else it -i.e. if it fails as is apparently happening- it is doomed to go down in history books as another South Africa, Arab Andulsia, or an Ottoman Empire. Israel won in 1967, came almost even in 1973, lost badly in 2000, lost again in Gaza in 2005, and its whole threat and illusion of detternce became a joke during the last summer war in Lebanon? Are you waiting for the Knockout before you zionists wake up to the realities of life. Do you really believe that 5 million profeteers can win against a determined 300 million Arabs and a billion more than a billion Muslim, not to mention the other billions who consider Israel as “mistake in human history”?

Wake up and smell the roses man…

So why are you wasting your time on such a crowd. or do you Enjoy reading your own comments like someone who enjoys looking at himself in the mirror. Is it the attention that you get here that that keeps you going or what?

January 10th, 2007, 5:58 pm

 

Ford Prefect said:

Ausamaa,
Well said, buddy! Leave him/her alone, they usually all go away after a while. They have been at it since 1076. One day, they will wake up and smell the roses. Meanwhile, all they have been smelling is what they deserve to smell.
Good Bless Syria.

January 10th, 2007, 6:17 pm

 

Alex said:

MSK,

I think you exaggerated in eliminating the moved-to-syria-by-choice possibilities .. especially for Armenians (and other Christians who escaped the killing in Turkey), and for Turkish kurds.

For example .. compare the number of Kurds n Hassakai and Qamishli in 1945 to their numbers and percentages today … Qamishly and Hassakai had Kurdish minorities at the time .. now Qamishly is 80-90% Kurdish. And most of these new ones came from Turkey .. escaped to Syria by choice.

January 10th, 2007, 7:17 pm

 

John Kilian said:

3antar said: (January 10th, 2007, 4:50 pm / #)
Palestinians need to work and since their territory is strangled and suffocated economically to the point of starvation (endquote)
The occupied territories are considered hostile territory. Arabs in Israel proper enjoy much better circumstances. I am not sure all of the restrictions in the West Bank are justified by legitimate security needs on the part of Israel.

3antar said: (January 10th, 2007, 4:50 pm / #)
Hamas is the result of policy imposed and further radicalism will awaits further state terrorism.(endquote)
The rise of Hamas can be attributed greatly to the desperate circumstances in Palestine. Fatah also earned a reputation for corruption, and this has contributed greatly to the lack of economic development there. In any event, Hamas’s strategy of armed conflict does nothing to alleviate these desperate circumstances. Israel would seem to have an interest in relieving these pressures, and may now regret not having better supported the PA before last year’s elections. Israel’s actions have worked to undermine Fatah and have delivered Hamas an electoral advantage. As we are also seeing in Iraq, the democratic process is no panacea for a society grappling with grave economic challenges.

January 10th, 2007, 8:34 pm

 

simohurtta said:

You can make the case about the Palestinian refugees and military incursions and occupations harming its neighbors, but the real cause of misery for these people is what they do, or fail to do with their opportunities.

It is rather astonishing to say like this about people under occupation. Do the people in Bethlehem really control their life surrounded by a 10 meter wall or the people in the slave camp called Gaza? Accusing the people and not the occupation, unbelievable.

One could say why to blame Germans of what happened in Auschwitz-Birkenau etc. The real cause of misery for Jews is what they did, or failed to do with their opportunities. Why did they not move? Certainly you John Killian as I would say that it is not proper to say like that. It is not right to accuse the victim. The occupation is done by Israelis not by Palestinians.

The interesting question is what would Israelis have done if Palestinians would not have resisted? Would Israeli Jews not have annex land and build settlements in West Bank, Gaza and Golan and let Palestinians develop their “economy in peace”? Not even you Kilian believe it would have happened.

Leaders that care not for the real needs of their people rally support for their failed states by scapegoating the Jewish State.

Scapegoating the Jewish state? Are you serious man? Why in UN the votes are all others against Israel, USA and some Pacific island states? The Palestinians and others must be masters of scapegoating. 🙂

January 10th, 2007, 9:02 pm

 

John Kilian said:

simohurtta,

Some of the acts of the occupation have needlessly destroyed the infrastructure in the West Bank and Gaza. The US has not done enough to address the concern of the Palestinians that the Israeli occupation is a step in the process towards the destruction of the Palestinians. This lack of consideration for the basic human concern for personal security feeds the desperation and lends itself to violent outcomes. I am not here to carry water for the US administration’s failure to address the needs of the Palestinians.

I am thinking more of Syria when I am talking about failed states. The Palestinians in the occupied territories certainly have grievances with Israel, but their leaders, especially Yasser Arafat in the past and Hamas today, have not been willing to meet Israel’s legitimate security needs, and this intransigence has hurt the Palestinians.

I am not saying the building of settlements in the West Bank are justified. At some point, though, peace will require both parties to look beyond the boundaries of the past and accept the new reality on the ground. Israel could become a powerful economic engine for the Palestinians, but only if a peaceful settlement is arrived at.

January 11th, 2007, 2:55 pm

 

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