Five Books on Syria – Recommended by Nikolas van Dam

Nikolaos van Dam Recommends Five Books on Syria to Browser

The veteran Dutch diplomat and academic  explains what is important about each of his top-five picks on Syria and why meaningful political change in Syria will be difficult to achieve. He warns that any move towards democracy is likely to be accompanied by severe sectarian tension.

Tear down this wall, President Assad
By David W. Lesch Monday, May 23, 2011, Foreign Policy

….Assad’s initial strategic vision for an internationally respected and integrated Syria has been consumed by a Syrian paradigm of political survival. He desperately needs to break out of this stifling, anachronistic box and embrace a transformational role in his country. It will be difficult, with powerful pockets of resistance to any significant changes to the status quo potentially arrayed against him. Is he willing to boldly take them on? Can he be Gorbachev-like? Is he the father who did everything he could to ensure his children’s future? Because if he is not all of these things, he will once again be faced with two possibilities: He will either be violently overthrown or be president of a country that has become the North Korea of the Middle East. I doubt this is what he really wants.

Syria: Desperate measures, 16 May 2011
Economist Intelligence Unit – Business Middle East

The central bank has hiked deposit rates sharply in what seems to be a desperate bid to shore up ebbing confidence in both the local currency and the banking system

The Central Bank of Syria has announced a set of measures that seem to be aimed mainly at shoring up confidence in the local currency in the face of the extreme political turbulence that has hit the country since mid-March. The measures could succeed in their assumed objective of protecting the Syrian pound, but they risk imposing heavy costs on both banks and their business creditors. They also betray a certain desperation on the part of the authorities, and suggest that the state’s foreign exchange reserves could be sinking to dangerously low levels.

The central bank has addressed the problems of an exchange rate under pressure and shrinking liquidity in the banking system on three fronts: it has increased interest rates on deposits (in both local and foreign currency); it has cut the statutory reserve requirement of banks; and it has introduced a foreign exchange savings scheme.

Surprise package

Soundings by the Economist Intelligence Unit indicate that the central bank did not consult with banks about its plans, which were communicated through a statement from the governor, Adib Mayaleh, to Al-Thawrah, a state-owned newspaper. The increase in rates on Syrian pound deposits has been, in effect, 300 basis points: the recommended range for rates on time deposits has been set at 7-9%, compared with 5-7% previously, but the additional margin that banks are allowed to use has been narrowed by 100 basis points to plus or minus 1 percentage point (from 2) on condition that the gap between the highest and lowest rate is not more than 2 percentage points (previously 3). Given that banks will be unable to pass on the increases to all of their loan customers (as some facilities will have had fixed rates), the impact on lending rates for new customers and existing ones with variable rates will be severe. Syrian businesses have been able to borrow at 9-10% since deposit rates were cut at the end of 2010; lending rates are now likely to shoot up to about 15%. The central bank is evidently hoping that the higher deposit rates will stem the recent tide of withdrawals (which have been particularly marked in public-sector banks). Mr Mayaleh also said that he has decided to increase rates on foreign exchange deposits, to 2-3% over Libor for US dollars and 1-2% over Libor for euros. He said that this measure should encourage Syrians to keep their hard currency savings inside the country.

In response to banks’ complaints about a shortage of liquidity, the central bank has lowered the statutory reserve requirement to 5% of total deposits from 10% previously. This ratio can be cut to zero in relation to the portion of deposits devoted to financing projects.

Earlier this year the central bank increased the amount of foreign exchange that Syrians were permitted to buy for unspecified reasons to US$10,000 per month from US$3,000 previously. However, as pressure mounted on the local currency this dispensation was in effect suspended. Mr Mayaleh has now offered a scheme whereby a customer can make a one-off purchase up to US$120,000 per year on condition that it is left in a term deposit account. The funds will earn interest, but this will be deducted in the event that the funds are withdrawn before the minimum term of three months.

Pound on the slide

The central bank has chosen to take these measures after several weeks of pumping foreign exchange into the market in an effort to narrow the differential between the official exchange rate and rates offered on the black market. The Syrian pound is pegged against the SDR, but the official rate has hardly moved over the past few months. As a result of the intervention the gap between rates had started to narrow, but the resort to interest rate hikes suggests that the authorities may be starting to be concerned about the risk of running down the country’s foreign exchange reserves. These are estimated by the IMF to have been about US$20bn prior to the crisis, but this sum includes holdings of the largest state-owned bank as well as those of the central bank itself. The authorities appear to have shied away from the option of devaluation.

The measures appeared on balance to reassure the Syrian financial markets, at least to judge by the performance of the stockmarket, whose index rose by 2% on May 4th (as well as on the next three trading days), after steady declines over the previous six weeks. Bankers clearly hope that the authorities will compensate them through offering realistic rates on upcoming treasury bill issues and through placing some more foreign exchange in the banking system. It is also assumed that if the political situation stabilises, the authorities will be in a position to lower interest rates before too long.

The EU sanctions that went into effect on May 10th will not have a serious immediate impact on the Assad regime, but they serve as warning that one important source of development finance is now at risk.

Kuwaiti Investors Acquire Syria Duty Free’s Border Outlets
2011-05-24 By Lina Ibrahim

May 24 (Bloomberg) — Kuwaiti investors acquired duty-free shops operated at airports, ports and border crossings in Syria, according to a statement posted on the website of Syria Duty Free Ltd. The previous owners included the Makhlouf family, whose members were covered by recent U.S. and European Union asset sanctions related to human-rights abuses in Syria. The investors, who were not identified, bought all the shares in the company including those held by Sunset Ltd. and Dawn Ltd. and plan to disclose more information about the transaction, Syria Duty Free said in the statement dated May 20.

الحكومة تقرر تخفض سعر ليتر مادة المازوت من “20 ليرة إلى 15 ليرة “ Syria lowers the price of Mazout – Kar0sin oil – from 20 to 15 liras a liter. This is a big deal and will cost the government a lot of money.

أصدرت رئاسة مجلس الوزراء، يوم الثلاثاء، قرارا بتخفيض سعر ليتر مادة المازوت من (20 ليرة سورية) إلى (15 ليرة سورية)، وذلك بعد قيامها بتخفيض سعره في العام 2009 من (25 ليرة) إلى (20 ليرة).

An interesting analysis of the Kurds (in french Le Monde) about their delicate position in Syria in the uprising.
Que veulent les Kurdes syriens ?

Syrian rights group says death toll exceeds 1000 AP

Syria’s cyberdissidents fight from abroad
May 24, 2011 12:04 PM (Last updated: May 24, 2011 12:12 PM)
By Khaled Soubeih, Agence France Press

….

Syria’s cyberdissidents are determined to keep fighting for freedom in their homeland, which for 48 years has been ruled by the Baath party.

“We have no choice. We either keep fighting or we accept that our children will be ruled by the children of Bashar al-Assad, as our parents lived under Hafez,” Bashar’s late father, Samra said.

Massoud Akko, a 28-year-old Syrian Kurdish activist, is banned from travel in his native Syria. He managed to escape to Lebanon one year ago and today continues his activism from Norway.

“Our cause today is to restore dignity to all Syrians, no matter who they are, and to build our future with our own hands, the hands of the people, as in any civilised country,” Akko said.

Abed al-Hindi, a 28-year-old Christian from Damascus, fled to Lebanon in 2007 before moving to the United States, where he today works with cyberdissidents.org, an organisation that promotes online activism.

“What every Syrian dreams of today is a state that is fair to all and has as its priority the safety and interests of its citizens,” Hindi told AFP….


Comments (68)


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1. Ghassan Karam said:

Syria’s dissidents abroad have won the respect of many over the past couple of weeks for their willingness to speak truth to power. They are right when they argue that what is needed is a revolution and not an evolution. It is in this spirit that I submit the following which was originally posed on my personal blog 2 weeks ago.

Syria Needs a Revolution.

So many of the regime apologists in Syria have stumbled on the phrase “evolution and not revolution” and have used it to great effect in scoring points against the critics of the Baath establishment. What is most unfortunate is the almost unanimous refrain that they get from those with whom they are debating, “of course evolution would be the better solution”.

The above, sadly, does not reflect positively on either group since the two words represent completely different ideologies and since no one should be allowed to pretend that both means will reach the same end.They will not. If that was the case then there will never ever be any rationale for revolutions in any field and in any area of knowledge anywhere in the world.

Given a certain vision of reality and a set of beliefs in how the world works practitioners; high priests; proceed to use these ideas in an effort to spread that particular vision or model. Obviously any vision or model can be marginally improved upon, within its broader self imposed constraints of its zeitgeist.

Thomas Kuhn, in his highly influential “The Structure of Scientific Revolutions” described the epistemological vision that is dominant ,at any point in time, as being a paradigm. It is to be noted that what is crucially important for this discussion is that as an accepted paradigm is being articulated by its believers it will always run into anomalies and paradoxes. The natural reaction of the practitioners is to reject the anomalies as false hoods and to go on with business as usual.

In all fields, these anomalies grow until it becomes impossible to dismiss them as being non essential. It is then that the youth; those that do not have a vested interest in the status quo; will rise and yell the emperor has no clothes. Once that happens then that specific field would have undergone a paradigm shift, a radical change in thinking, a revolution. It is also noteworthy not to lose track of the fact that different paradigms are “incommensurable” since each is based on a totally different vision of reality.

What the, much abbreviated, description of the above implies is that once the potential imbedded within a certain understanding of the dynamics required by a certain vision are exhausted then the only possible way to move forward is to reject the past paradigm and adopt a totally different one. This method of explaining the accumulation of knowledge is not linear. It is based on quantum leaps, on discontinuities and on having the courage to adopt a new way of thinking. This is not an evolutionary process but is actually an understanding that we move forward only through revolutions since sooner or later any accepted paradigm, set of values or system of beliefs will fail to explain the inevitable anomalies that arise.

Copernicus and Galileo provided an understanding, a vision if you will that is not related at all to that of Ptolemy. They posited that the earth revolves around the sun instead of the idea that our planet was the center around which everything revolved. That revolution changed the way that we understand our place in the universe and it was not an evolutionary movement. It was based on a total rejection of all what came before it.

The same process is true when one views social, political and economic evolutions. Feudalism does not evolve into capitalism just as much as capitalism will not evolve into ecological societies. Dictatorships and authoritarian rule will never evolve into democratic structures based on the idea of human rights and personal liberty. These ideas are diametrically opposite and to pretend that one can evolve into that which is its antithesis is groundless. The only way to shift from one phase to the other is to have a revolution. It must also be emphasized that a revolution does not mean violence to individuals but it must mean rejection of old established ideas and values that serve only the interests of the high priests. Revolutions will not cease until we get to the end of history.

The current regional applications of the above simply mean that no dictatorship will ever evolve into a democracy since that means evolving into its negation, into what it is not. Another relevant example of the above is the impossibility of transforming Lebanon into a modern democratic state without getting rid of all its traditional tribal leaders. Revolution means an abrupt change that anchors a system on principles and ideas that would never be acceptable under the current paradigm. You cannot evolve a system into a revolution since they simply represent the antithesis of each other and since a revolution is called for only once the current dominant paradigm has totally failed. It has both in Syria and in Lebanon regionally, and so has the obsession with economic growth globally.

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May 24th, 2011, 1:45 pm

 

2. Syria no kandahar said:

Syrians against chaos:

Smart Sunni+Alawi+Druz+Kurds+Christians+Ismaeli+Sharkas+Turkman+Jews

Syrians with Chaos:

Wahabi Sunni + stupid others

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May 24th, 2011, 2:30 pm

 

3. JAD said:

التضليل الإعلامي 24-5-2011

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May 24th, 2011, 2:40 pm

 

4. Amir in Tel Aviv said:

The Syrian Buazizi:
“…On May 21, near the Iraqi border, 17-year-old activist Mohammed Akram al-Tumeh poured lamp oil over his body and set himself alight in a central street only hours after he was released from prison for protesting. Noor’s friends say that when the police released Tumeh, he was covered in bruises, and there are rumors that he was sexually abused in jail. Tumeh died on May 22″.
http://news.yahoo.com/s/time/20110524/wl_time/08599207362300

“Fearful of being tailed in Damascus, revolutionaries are traveling out of the capital to protest. One activist, who will be referred to as Ammar, said that every Thursday he travels to Homs to protest. “In Homs I could get shot, but in Damascus I’ll get arrested and thrown in jail before we can even organize a protest,” he said, speaking in a smoky old Damascene cafÉ, confident that the ambient noise of the lively room would drown out his dissenting views. It is well known, he said, that phones and e-mails are tapped. Ammar will talk only in person”.
.

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May 24th, 2011, 2:56 pm

 

5. Nour said:

مجلس الوزراء السوري يشكل لجنتان للتطوير الاقتصادي والإعلامي
(دي برس)

شكل مجلس الوزراء السوري بجلسته التي عقدها الثلاثاء برئاسة الدكتور عادل سفر رئيس المجلس في إطار متابعة واستكمال الخطوات والإجراءات التي تقوم بها الحكومة في مجال عملية التطوير والإصلاح في القطاعات الاقتصادية والإدارية والإعلامية لجنة للتطوير الإعلامي وإنجاز مشروع قانون الإعلام الجديد وأخرى للتطوير والإصلاح الاقتصادي على أن توافي اللجنتان مجلس الوزراء بما هو مطلوب منهما خلال مدة شهرين من تاريخه وفقاً لما جاء في وكالة سانا.

كما أقر المجلس في ضوء مناقشته مشروعات القوانين المدرجة على جدول أعماله مشروع القانون الخاص بالمؤسسة العامة للإسكان بصفتها جهة عامة ذات طابع اقتصادي تتمتع بالشخصية الاعتبارية والاستقلال المالي والإداري وترتبط بوزير الإسكان والتعمير.
سورية: انخفاض سعر ليتر المازوت خمس ليرات
إحالة وزير سوري من حكومة عطري للتحقيق بتهم فساد
السماح بتعيين المديرين دون الرجوع للحكومة السورية
سفر يعفي مدير عام الشركة الأهلية بدمشق

ويهدف مشروع القانون إلى منح المؤسسة المرونة اللازمة بما يمكنها من المساهمة بتلبية الاحتياجات الاسكانية وبشكل خاص الإسكان الاجتماعي وتعزيز مفاهيم السكن الاقتصادي والارتقاء بمستوى العمران من خلال تخفيض تكاليف إنشاء المسكن والسعي لبناء مدن وضواح ومشاريع عمرانية جديدة وتطوير المناطق العمرانية القائمة.

ووافق المجلس على مذكرة التفاهم الموقعة بين حكومة الجمهورية العربية السورية وحكومة جمهورية الاكوادور لتأسيس لجنة اقتصادية تجارية بين البلدين.

وتحدث الدكتور سفر حول بعض القضايا العامة فأكد على المتابعة والتنسيق بين الجهات المركزية والمحلية وإحداث مكاتب للمتابعة في الوزارات تعنى بقضايا المتابعة لتنفيذ قراراتها وتوجهات عملها وإنجاز برامجها المقررة في خططها السنوية.

وبحث مجلس الوزراء مذكرة وزارة العدل المتضمنة مقترحها للاطار الزمني لخطة عملها على صعيد إصلاح المؤسسات القضائية وتطوير العمل القضائي وتأهيل وتطوير الادارات التابعة للوزارة والجهات التابعة لها في إطار تعزيز ثقة المواطن بالقضاء من خلال الشفافية وسيادة القانون .

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May 24th, 2011, 3:01 pm

 

6. aboali said:

You have to be brain damaged to believe anything Sulieman Maroof’s Al Dunia t.v says. I’ve met the guy in real life, a true sleazeball and one of Bashar’s closest confidants.

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May 24th, 2011, 3:01 pm

 

7. Syria no kandahar said:

Amir
Take advantage and be the the Israeli boazizi
It will cost you 10 cents.you are worth it.

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May 24th, 2011, 3:03 pm

 

8. Nur al-Cubicle said:

I have been listening to Joshua’s expert (and foreboding) commentary and reading Ignace Leverrier’s “Un oeil sur la Syrie”.

Was struck by Leverrier’s observation that Sunni Syrian troops are used to put down demonstrations in heavily Allawite areas such as Latakia and Hama with the Republican Guard, the Special Forces and the 4th Army Division handing the protests in Sunni areas. But this shows that the protest movement itself can indeed span religious and community divides and as such must be scaring the pants off Bashar.

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May 24th, 2011, 3:09 pm

 

9. Nour said:

الرئيس الأسد يلتقي عددا من أئمة وخطباء مساجد درعا والحديث يتناول دور رجال الدين في ترسيخ الأجواء الايجابية في المحافظة
الرئيس الأسد يلتقي عددا من أئمة وخطباء مساجد درعا والحديث يتناول دور رجال الدين في ترسيخ الأجواء الايجابية في المحافظة

دمشق..
التقى الرئيس بشار الأسد ظهر اليوم عددا من أئمة وخطباء مساجد محافظة درعا.
وتناول الحديث خلال اللقاء دور رجال الدين في هذه المرحلة في ترسيخ الأجواء الايجابية في المحافظة حيث أعرب أئمة وخطباء المساجد عن ارتياحهم للأوضاع الحالية في درعا.
كما تناول الحديث الخطوات الإصلاحية الجارية في سورية وآفاقها.

الثلاثاء 24-05-2011

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May 24th, 2011, 3:20 pm

 

10. why-discuss said:

Nur

“But this shows that the protest movement itself can indeed span religious and community divides and as such must be scaring the pants off Bashar.”

This is assuming that Bashar is getting his legitimacy exclusively from his community which, by why you said, is wrong.

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May 24th, 2011, 3:59 pm

 

11. aboali said:

#7 why would he? he has a government and army which looks out for it’s people and protects their best interests, unlike us. When one of their soldiers is captured, they start wars and offer millions of dollars to have him returned. Our government kills 1000 of us and blames it on armed gangs, all so that AlAssad and the crooks in his family can stay in power and abuse us more. You see this is the reason why we always lose to Israel, they’re a free country which respects it’s own citizens, we’re not.

If you genuinely care about defeating your enemies, clean up your own house first.

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May 24th, 2011, 4:00 pm

 

12. why-discuss said:

May 24th, 2011, 4:01 pm

 

13. Amir in Tel Aviv said:

Kandahar,
Any news from the future? I miss that.
.

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May 24th, 2011, 4:21 pm

 

14. Syria no kandahar said:

Dear aboali
I hate it when I see somebody talking with bad intentions about Syria in general and that the way Amir is ,that is why I gave him my advise.but in general we all have to be realistic and not think that we will be able between day and night change Syria from a 3rd world country to Switzerland or Singapore.we look around us and we see so many dead bodies infested with so many bugs wrapped with shinny democracy coffin(Iraq,Egypt,Iran,Gaza,Tunisia,Yemen etc).
Why should we be stupid and accept the same fate.As far as Israel is concern there is no other country in the world which enjoys as much us tax dollars free money and being treated as VIP special spoiled child as they do,you know that and I know it .Prs Obama could’t stand by his worlds about the 1967 line for more than 48 hours and he almost had to applologize to prime min of a country which is about 9 miles wide.go figure.

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May 24th, 2011, 4:34 pm

 

15. Syria no kandahar said:

Dear Amir
Doing that(Alsahwa Alsoria)is very time consuming and involves a lot of intellectuality .i will keep doing it when I have time.

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May 24th, 2011, 5:00 pm

 

16. JAD said:

WD
It’s amazing the resemble of the Russian TV and any Arab TV :)

BiBi more powerful than Barack

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May 24th, 2011, 5:07 pm

 

17. why-discuss said:

Jad

Thanks for the link. I wonder how the average american feels to have this guy pumped like Sylvester Stallone addressing a bunch of applauding sheeps that they have elected.

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May 24th, 2011, 5:29 pm

 

18. Jad said:

WD
They only miss couple of those elected congressmen to read poetry for Bibi, ma 7da a7sn min 7da ;)

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May 24th, 2011, 5:34 pm

 

19. Nour said:

Jad,

The funny thing is that we ridicule and criticize the behavior of members of majles el shaab, but at least they prostrate themselves before their own president, whereas these clowns have no problem prostrating themselves before a foreign leader of a “shitty little country” as one diplomat once called it.

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May 24th, 2011, 6:00 pm

 

20. Avi said:

Tell me Aboali ,does it not occur to you that your logic is more than flawed,if you get rid of Assad,do you really think that it is wise you go rush to ‘defeat your enemies’…come again??????How about looking to be free and to be peaceful then you might have a chance of being like Israel since you admire my country so much.But you are too brainwashed to see the light any ways.And I say it again..Israel is peaceful and develops a lot,has a reputation in business and cares about it’s people and wants peace….You see it’s very different from your mentality,actually you deserve Assad.

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May 24th, 2011, 6:47 pm

 

21. Sophia said:

# 18 Jad,

“They only miss couple of those elected congressmen to read poetry for Bibi…”

I love the allusion in this comment.

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May 24th, 2011, 6:59 pm

 

22. Akbar Palace said:

WD said:

Netanyahu’s real message to Congress: There will be no peace talks

Right, because the Palestinians won’t negotiate w/o preconditions.

However, the Palestinians could enter “peace talks” if they wanted to.

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May 24th, 2011, 7:11 pm

 

23. Revlon said:

Max deal with the Kuwaiti group is akin to, a partly legit money laundering.
Spurred by international sanctions, he is liquidating businesses prone to international sanctions.
The Kuwait group was ill-advised to capitalise!

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May 24th, 2011, 7:12 pm

 

24. Abughassan said:

1.Rami is selling his company that operates the free zones to a group of Kuwaiti investors. Next step must be syriatel and any major company he owns. He is a liability for Syria and disliked by most Syrians.
2. Bibi speech and the response from our congress here is the US is a reminder that Arabs have no friends until they submit. Syria will not submit,it is not in our genes.
3.a more free and democratic Syria is a necessity for Syria and the whole Arab world. Arab rulers do not want a secular regime in Syria,they want a puppet government that does what it is told for few dollars from “خادم الحرمين”
4. Life is returning to normal to most of Syria و لو كره الحاقدون. It is still possible to oppose the regime and demand security and peace for all Syrians. Our corrupt government and outdated political system is our problem, and we are the ones who will solve it. The EU and other “concerned” nations should focus on their own problems. ارفعوا أيديكم عن سوريا

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May 24th, 2011, 7:14 pm

 

25. Sophia said:

Netanyahu’s conditions for peace amount to a declaration of war. It is not my commentary it is the CBC commentary ‘the world at 6′.

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May 24th, 2011, 7:15 pm

 

26. JAD said:

SC’s Nafdik did a clip making fun of the Syrian parliament using the Canadian parliament as an example in praising their prime minister, it was hilarious and it fits perfectly in this whole charade of the American congress and the beloved ‘Bibi’, ENJOY!
I guess all humans are made from the same crappy materials, the only difference is the last thin ayer of ‘coating’.

You need to click on the CC button to read the Arabic subtitle of this lovely debate

Canadian Parliament with Syrian subtitles (click on CC red button on bottom right)

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May 24th, 2011, 7:19 pm

 

27. Revlon said:

I could’nt help but notice a ground breaking change, over the last couple of weeks, in how anti-revolution posters have come to view their favoured system.

Now they generally accept that:
- The Baath pary is useless.
- The other two pillars of the ruling hierarchy are hated , corrupt and beyond repair, and that they should be dispensed with
- That jr ought to resort to internationally refereed referandum

I wholeheartedly welcome such a change, and I would like to shake your hands, virtually that is.

This is a very strong common base for all of us, to build-on our further discussions.

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May 24th, 2011, 7:24 pm

 

28. JAD said:

I love the way American media praise Bibi, even more than its congress!
‘Charmer’,’Flattered’ aka Arrogant, ‘Adequately’, ‘make painful compromises’, ‘triumph’, ‘eloquent’, ‘brilliant’ and wait for it, he is compared to ‘Winston Churchill….Oh My God! and I was thinking of poetry….they exceed poetry by far…the next step is to introduce ‘bilro7 bildam nafdik ya bibi’

Debate: Was Netanyahu’s speech to Congress a step in the right direction for peace?

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was quite the charmer as he flattered and thanked the U.S. in a speech to Congress on Tuesday. But did he adequately address how Israel might forge peace with the Palestinians? He said he was willing to make painful compromises, but he also laid out a lot of ground rules that didn’t make him appear all that flexible.

Jonathan S. Tobin of Commentary said the speech was a triumph.

During the course of an eloquent and brilliant speech that laid out Israel’s desire for peace as well as the threats that face it, Netanyahu was interrupted with standing ovations from the assembled Congress over 50 times. The cheers were not mere form; they were a genuine expression of the heartfelt support that huge majorities of both parties in both chambers feel for Israel. The speech was a triumph that can well be compared to the applause earned by Winston Churchill when he spoke to Congress as a wartime ally. It didn’t just highlight the bonds between Israel and America but the willingness of this Congress to view Netanyahu personally as a special friend of the American people.

Debra DeLee, president and CEO for Americans for Peace Now, disagreed, saying the speech was a step backward.

Prime Minister Netanyahu was today granted a podium that few world leaders receive. He had the chance to demonstrate to the world that, contrary to many people’s expectations, he grasps the urgency of the moment. Unfortunately for Israel, he did not rise to the occasion. […]

Israel desperately needs peace with the Palestinians -– to secure Israel’s future as a Jewish state and a democracy, to protect Israeli security, and to head off a confrontation at the United Nations in September. Unfortunately, rather than laying out his promised new vision of peace, Netanyahu stayed mainly on the well-worn path of grandstanding, blame-laying, and fear-mongering. Rather than embracing the opportunity offered by President Obama to work together to get peace efforts back on track, Netanyahu offered little more than disingenuous words of support for peace.

http://opinion.latimes.com/opinionla/2011/05/debate-was-netanyahus-speech-to-congress-a-step-in-the-right-direction-for-peace.html
————————————–

Even before Bibi arrogant speech, Gideon Levy predict what he will say, however, nobody will punish Israel Mr. Gideon, nobody dares:

Netanyahu has invited America to punish Israel
U.S. President Barack Obama has exposed the naked truth – Netanyahu does not want peace, does not want a Palestinian state, is not a true friend of the United States.

http://www.haaretz.com/print-edition/opinion/netanyahu-has-invited-america-to-punish-israel-1.363226

—————————–
#26
I guess you just wake up!!!!! we were saying the same thing even before you join SC.

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May 24th, 2011, 7:41 pm

 

29. Amir in Tel Aviv said:

No, Angry Sophia. The palestinian vow to destroy Israel and replace it with a river to the sea Arab state, is a declaration of war. Bibi’s speech is a merely about self defense.
.

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May 24th, 2011, 7:54 pm

 

30. JAD said:

The Angry Arab is taking my original line ;)

Tuesday, May 24, 2011
Netanyahu and Bashshar
Many of my readers noted that members of the US Congress act toward Netanyahu the way Syrian MPs act toward Bashshar, exactly.
Posted by As’ad AbuKhalil at 4:02 PM

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May 24th, 2011, 8:08 pm

 

31. Revlon said:

Dear All, We, The people, have been sharing the land of “Syria” for thousands of years.

All of our religious beliefs are congenital.
- They were passed down to us from our families. We had no choice but to accept them.
- As we grew up, we started to cherish them, because they were part of our immediate culture and provided us with rules of decency and common laws.

The religious beliefs of the People of Syria, have changed over thousands years.
Our forefathers of the Tribes of Syria were atheists.

When Abraham introduced monotheism, the majority of Syrians believed in him and in his message from God (Islam as per Quran).
- A minority remained atheist or continued to worship other deities.
- That religious split probably happened across, as well as within tribes and families.

When Jesus came with same God’s message (Islam as per Quran), the majority of Syrians also believed in him and became Christians, but never stopped believing in Abraham.
- A minority however, did not believe in Jesus. They continued to believe in Abraham or to be atheists, or worship other deities.
- The split probably happened across, as well as within tribes and families.

When Mohammad came with God’s message (Islam as per Quran), the majority of Syrians also believed in Mohammed. They never stopped to believe in Jesus or Abraham. – A minority however, did not believe in Mohammad’s prophecy. They continued to be believers in Abraham and/or Jesus or to be athesits or worship other deities.
- The split is well known to have happened across, as well as within tribes and families.
- The tribes that lived at the interface between predominantly Christian and Muslem believers adopted a hybrid of their beliefs; They are the Shi3as.

Relatives of the same tribes or their family descendants living in cities in current day Syria, can be Christians, Sunnis, Si3a and 3alawi.

To respect our beliefs is to respect our choices, and who we are.
Freedom of speech, on this blog and elsewhere in Syria, should be subservient to our mutual respect of our beliefs, and of us as human beings.

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May 24th, 2011, 8:22 pm

 

32. why-discuss said:

Amir in Tel Aviv

#28
Yes, Yes, we know the song… we heard it many times accompanied by the sound of the guns killing Palestinians children in Gaza on “self-defense”.

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May 24th, 2011, 8:28 pm

 

33. Akbar Palace said:

“Declaration of War” NewZ

Amir,

The last time I saw this much applause it was when Jr. spoke at the Syrian Paliament…

http://www.realclearpolitics.com/video/2011/05/24/netanyahu_jerusalem_must_never_again_be_divided.html

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May 24th, 2011, 8:37 pm

 

34. why-discuss said:

Syria opposition to meet in Turkey

No mention of the removal of Bashar al Assad. or overthrow of the regime

http://www.khaleejtimes.com/darticlen.asp?xfile=data/middleeast/2011/May/middleeast_May680.xml&section=middleeast&col=

…. “The Syrian opposition will organise a conference in Antalya from May 31 to June 2 in support of the revolt in Syria and claims of the Syrian people,” Ammar Qurabi, president of the Egypt-based National Organisation of Human Rights, told AFP.

The conference will be open to all supporters of the opposition, independent personalities and representatives of all faiths, he said, referring to a group of reformers who called for democratic changes in 2005 under a statement known as the Damascus Declaration.

…His opponents are demanding an end to the domination of the ruling Baath party, free elections and the release of political prisoners..

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May 24th, 2011, 8:39 pm

 

35. SF94123 said:

A secular Syria with multi-party system (religious party affiliation is not allowed). Keep the army and homeland security in place to keep order and protect minorities from the unknown. A good start!!

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May 24th, 2011, 8:58 pm

 

36. Jad said:

WD
You forgot to mention that whoever want to participate is financially covered, his/her traveling expenses, his/her hotel and the food, by Generious, Anonymous and ofcourse Patriotic ‘Buisnessmen’ No question asked about the funding, God forbid!

I wonder why ponytail is not there?!

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May 24th, 2011, 9:11 pm

 

37. Amir in Tel Aviv said:

Akbar,

I have to agree with Tribal Jad that there’s something bizarre about the way Bibi was welcomed today. And yes, it does remind of the ridiculous (it was “Cyprus for Syrians” Nour who said that) Majles AlSha’b. As an American, I would feel somewhat uncomfortable.

BTW, applauding is prohibited in the Israeli Knesset. The only time when they gave permission to applause, was during president Sa’adat visit in 1977.

Usually, the Knesset looks like this http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AJn96BTIxwU
(Notice minute 0:38, Arab Knesset member A7mad Tibi (temporary chairman) orders the guards to evict two Likud members from the hall).
.

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May 24th, 2011, 9:13 pm

 

38. Akbar Palace said:

“Bizarre”? Absolutely. No two countries have a relationship that is so close.

Ma laasot?

Now I’m watching Sean Hannity’s interview with BB…

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May 24th, 2011, 9:22 pm

 

39. why-discuss said:

AP
Yes, almost incestuous.
I guess it was a slap of the congress to Obama’s face for his misbehavior with Bibi Hood.

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May 24th, 2011, 9:27 pm

 

40. Shami said:

Jad ,you asked me once if Hassoun is really so bad.

Here you have the answer from the aleppines themselves=

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May 24th, 2011, 9:29 pm

 

41. Akbar Palace said:

WD,

No, just very similar values like freedom and opportunity.

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May 24th, 2011, 9:34 pm

 

42. louai said:

the Syrian Parliament was embarrassing indeed ,but for me that was the first time they did all the poetry and the clapping from their hearts ..this time they wanted to show their support and that the only way they knew for me for the first time in my life i didn’t see them as hypocrites .

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May 24th, 2011, 9:36 pm

 

43. daleandersen said:

There’s nothing heroic about being a cyberdissident. It’s like being the kid over the fence who throws rocks but when you shake a stick at him, he runs away.

What is worse, from their safe havens in Scandanavia and the USA, these cyber “heroes” encourage people who are already in harm’s way to commit acts that could get them killed. They’re like the fellow who sends you out to a riot with the words, “Don’t worry, I’ll be right behind you.” Except he isn’t. He’s in Sweden getting fat on pastries while you’re left holding the bag.

So when this is all over and Bashar Assad is gone and they’re passing out awards to the Syrian heroes who brought down the regime, make sure someone asks the cyberdissidents where they were when mukhabarat was torturing your father and raping your sister.

http://playwrighter.blogspot.com/2011/04/mahmoud-ahmadinejads-obituary.html

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May 24th, 2011, 9:40 pm

 

44. Syria no kandahar said:

Dear Revlon
Based on your beautiful comment above MB should remain illegal in Syria to help keeping secular,then you can rmove Assad if you agree.

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May 24th, 2011, 9:50 pm

 

45. louai said:

Revlon, is some one eles using your name?

its really nice to see you looking for the common grounds and to know that you can be a ‘good finder’ , maybe its the first time i read a comment of yours easily without all the smoke and the strong emotions covering every words of yours , for me its good news , i hope one day all the Syrians will overcome the hatred and the blame game and start finally a civilized dialogue.

Today iwas in London and we went to demonstrate in the support of Bashar Al Asad in Buckingham palace as Obama was there meeting the queen, off course the opposition was there as usual they arrived 1 hour after us but for the first time it was enough for 3 Police officers to keep the both sides aside, the aggression was less today .so many good news today

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May 24th, 2011, 9:56 pm

 

46. Jad said:

Shami,
Why bother talking to a ‘Bashar, Maher and Rami’s lover’ and ‘Moukhabarati’ person like me, save your precious comment to someone worthy to you and your stance.

Daleandersen,
I agree with you about those fake heroes who are using others to die just to capture them some clips as Yaser Abou Hilaleh of Aljazeera did to Almasalme guy in Daraa which cost Masalme’s life and yaser alzft the fame.
Those guys are nothing but parasites using others for their own gain, now all of them are claiming to be the Fathers and Heroes of the uprising, how pathetic

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May 24th, 2011, 9:59 pm

 

47. Shami said:

Here is an other clip ,which shows how works the spontaneous gathering process in which each one doesnt know the other.
It was taken in the middle class district of Nile Street.

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May 24th, 2011, 10:15 pm

 

48. Abughassan said:

Are things actually improving or it is just me? I hope it is not too early to celebrate that nobody got killed in the streets and no building was burnt today.

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May 24th, 2011, 10:28 pm

 

49. jo6pac said:

Here’s how some us feel in Amerika and most Americans don’t care what happens there, they have their own problem here, like no jobs, no health care, and nothing but wars everywhere.

http://www.salon.com/news/israel/index.html?story=/opinion/greenwald/2011/05/24/israel

for jad at 17

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May 24th, 2011, 10:30 pm

 

50. jad said:

Dear Ehsani,
Mr. Dardari will become the new ambassador of Syria in Turkey!?

سفير سوري جديد في تركيا
الأسد: لن نتسامح مع المتطرفين وسنفعل الممكن لضمان حرية التعبير

زياد حيدر
دمشق :
أكد الرئيس السوري بشار الأسد لنظيره الروسي ديميتري ميدفيديف في اتصال هاتفي أمس، عزمه على الاستمرار في محاربة القوى «المتطرفة والأصولية» والسماح للمواطنين «بحرية التعبير» بحسب بيان للكرملين، فيما استقبل الأسد وفدا من علماء الدين وأئمة المساجد في درعا. وفي حين علمت «السفير» أن استمزاجا أرسل الى تركيا بتسمية نائب رئيس الوزراء السابق للشؤون الاقتصادية عبد الله الدردري سفيرا جديدا لدمشق في أنقرة، دعا مؤسسو «اعلان دمشق» وعدد من المعارضين السوريين الى عقد مؤتمر في مدينة أنطاليا التركية الاسبوع المقبل «دعما للثورة السورية ولمطالب الشعب السوري»، بالتزامن مع إعلان ناشطين عن وصول حصيلة الاحتجاجات السورية إلى 1062 قتيلا و10 آلاف معتقل.
وأعلن الكرملين في بيان له أن «الرئيس بشار الاسد اعلن ان المسؤولين السوريين يفعلون ويواصلون فعل كل ما بوسعهم للسماح للمواطنين السوريين بحرية التعبير»، وأضاف «في الوقت نفسه ليس في نية سوريا السماح بتحرك الجماعات المتطرفة والاصولية»، وذلك في اتصال هاتفي جرى أمس بين الرئيسين الروسي والسوري، دعا فيه ميدفيديف الأسد إلى بدء «حوار واسع مع الرأي العام».

وذكرت وكالة «سانا» السورية للأنباء أن الأسد التقى عددا من أئمة وخطباء مساجد محافظة درعا، وبحث معهم» دور رجال الدين في هذه المرحلة في ترسيخ الأجواء الايجابية في المحافظة حيث أعرب أئمة وخطباء المساجد عن ارتياحهم للأوضاع الحالية في درعا». كما تناول الحديث «الخطوات الإصلاحية الجارية في سوريا وآفاقها». من جهتها قالت مصادر في حمص لـ«السفير» إن محافظ حمص غسان عبد العال بدأ خلال اليومين الماضيين حواراً موسعاً مع أهالي المناطق التي شهدت أحداث عنف. واستقبل المحافظ وفودا من احياء بابا عمرو ودير بعلبة والبياضة والخالدية لهذا الغرض.
أما الحكومة السورية فأقرت في اجتماعها الاسبوعي أمس تخفيض سعر لتر المازوت بمقدار خمس ليرات ليصبح 15 ليرة سورية (أقل من نصف دولار أميركي) وذلك استجابة للشريحة الكبرى من المجتمع السوري، ولطلب المزارعين والصناعيين الذي اشتكوا من ارتفاع كلفة الانتاج بعد رفع سعره منذ عامين تقريبا. وكان قرار رفع الدعم عن المازوت استغرق عامين من النقاش، واتخذ ضمن «خطوات الإصلاح الاقتصادي ومكافحة التهريب» التي قامت بها الحكومة السابقة، إلا أن القرار لم يكن شعبيا، وأثر على نفقات الطبقتين الوسطى والفقيرة. كما شكلت الحكومة لجانا لـ«تطوير الإعلام» وإنجاز القانون الجديد للإعلام وأيضا لـ«الإصلاح الاقتصادي»، وطلبت من أعضاء هذه اللجان تقديم نتائج عملهم في حدود شهرين من تاريخ تشكيلها.
من جهتها، أعلنت وزارة الداخلية أن عدد المسجلين في سجلات أجانب الحسكة (أكراد) بمختلف المحافظات وصل إلى 32000 طلب، وانه تم حتى الآن منح «1007 بطاقات شخصية لمن أنجزت معاملاتهم ولأصحاب الطلبات التي تم استكمال ثبوتياتها وعرضها على اللجان المشكلة من قبل أمانات السجل المدني بهذا الشأن».
وفي سياق مواز، بحث رئيس مجلس الوزراء السوري عادل سفر مع مدير منطقة الشرق الأوسط في شركة «توتال» للاستكشاف والانتاج ارنود بروياك آفاق التعاون وأهمية بناء شراكة طويلة الأمد بين «توتال» وشركات النفط السورية. كما التقى سفر الأمين العام للمجلس الاعلى السوري اللبناني نصري الخوري. وجرى خلال اللقاء تناول العلاقات الثنائية بين البلدين الشقيقين وسبل وآليات تعزيزها وتطويرها بما يحقق المصلحة المشتركة وأمن واستقرار البلدين ويخدم عملية التنمية فيهما.
من جهته، قال رئيس المنظمة الوطنية لحقوق الانسان عمار القربي لوكالة «فرانس برس»: «قتل 1062 شخصا منذ بدء موجة الاحتجاجات التي تعصف في البلاد» فضلا عن اصابة العشرات. واوضح القربي الذي اكد ان بحوزته لائحة باسماء القتلى ومكان اصابتهم ان «الوفاة كانت ناتجة عن الاصابة بطلق ناري». كما اشار القربي الى ان «عدد المعتقلين حاليا بلغ 10 آلاف شخص». ولفت الى «نزوح نحو 30 جريحا من شمال ادلب (غرب) الى انطاكيا في تركيا للعلاج بينهم اثنان بحالة خطرة». وأوضح ان «الجرحى اصيبوا اثناء تظاهرات في قرى كفر نبل واريحا وبنش والمصطومة» في ريف ادلب.
وعلمت «السفير» أن استمزاجا أرسل للجانب التركي من قبل وزارة الخارجية السورية بتسمية نائب رئيس الوزراء السابق للشؤون الاقتصادية عبد الله الدردري سفيرا لسوريا في أنقرة، فيما قال القربي لوكالة «فرانس برس» إنه «ستعقد المعارضة السورية في مدينة انطاليا التركية مؤتمرا من 31 ايار الحالي ولغاية 2 حزيران المقبل». واضاف «يضم المؤتمر شخصيات وطنية مستقلة ومثقفين واعلاميين بالاضافة الى عدة اطياف من المعارضة السورية وممثلين عن التنسيقيات الداخلية للثورة السورية ويجمع كل الأطياف السياسية والتيارات الفكرية والمكونات الوطنية الاثنية والمذهبية». واشار الى ان «المؤتمر يهدف الى دعم الثورة السورية ومطالب الشعب السوري المشروعة في الحرية والديموقراطية والتضامن معه من دون الوصاية عليه».
كما يسعى المؤتمر الى «اعطاء صورة واضحة ان المعارضة السورية ارتقت الى مستوى الدماء التي سطرها شعبنا وتعالت على تمايزاتها الايديولوجية والسياسية»، بحسب قول القربي. ومن المشاركين في المؤتمر المفكر صادق جلال العظم ورئيس المجلس الوطني لإعلان دمشق في المهجر عبد الرزاق عيد والشيخ عبد الإله ثامر طراد الملحم من مشايخ عشيرة العنزة والكاتبة إيمان شاكر والمدير التنفيذي للمركز السوري للدراسات السياسية والاستراتيجية رضوان زيادة وآخرون.
إلى ذلك، اعلنت الوكالة الدولية للطاقة الذرية وجود «احتمال كبير» بأن يكون موقع دير الزور الذي قصفته طائرات اسرائيلية في ايلول 2007 مفاعلا نوويا. وقالت الوكالة في تقرير داخلي حصلت وكالة «فرانس برس» على نسخة منه «استنادا الى جميع المعلومات المتوافرة لدى الوكالة وتقييمها الفني لتلك المعلومات، ترى الوكالة احتمالا كبيرا في ان يكون المبنى المدمر في موقع دير الزور مفاعلا نوويا كان ينبغي الاعلان عنه للوكالة». وهذه المرة الاولى التي تعلن فيها الوكالة رسميا تقييما مماثلا منذ بدأت التحقيق في هذا الموضوع في العام 2008. واعتبرت الوكالة الذرية في تقرير من تسع صفحات اتسم بنبرة حادة اكثر من المعتاد وسلم الى الدول الاعضاء في الوكالة، ان مميزات المبنى المدمر «تمكن مقارنتها بمباني مفاعلات الغرافيت المبردة بالغاز». وقالت الوكالة ان تركيبة المبنى قبل تدميره «كانت تجيز تشغيل مفاعل كهذا». وتابعت ان ترتيب الموقع «لا يتطابق مع تأكيدات سوريا حيال اهداف هذه البنية».
وحذت سويسرا حذو الاتحاد الأوروبي موسعة عقوباتها على سوريا لتشمل الأسد و9 مسؤولين آخرين، لقائمة الممنوعين من السفر إليها والخاضعين لتجميد الاموال فيها. وكانت سويسرا قد حذت الاسبوع الماضي حذو الاتحاد في فرض حظر على السفر وتجميد اصول 13 مسؤولا سوريا آخر.

http://www.assafir.com/Article.aspx?EditionId=1854&ChannelId=43650&ArticleId=2625&Author=%D8%B2%D9%8A%D8%A7%D8%AF%20%D8%AD%D9%8A%D8%AF%D8%B1

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May 24th, 2011, 11:06 pm

 

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