Posted by Joshua on Thursday, March 22nd, 2007
I will be traveling for several days to give a talk in Florida. Here is a departing news roundup.
Ibrahim Hamidi, explains "Solana’s incentives to bring Syria back into Arab ranks and pry it away from Iran” (Trans. by mideastwire.com)
In the March 17 issue of al-Hayat Hamidi wrote: “If the recent war between Hezbollah and Israel last summer opened cracks in the wall of isolation that America and Europe tried to build around Syria following the assassination of the ex Prime Minister Rafik Al-Hariri, then the visit by the supreme coordinator of foreign policy in the European Union Javier Solana to Damascus a few days ago opened the doors wide in front of the European-Syrian path but with conditions concerning the “development of the [Syrian] behaviour”. The European Union had re-evaluated its policies following the July war last year which led to revoking the policy of isolating Damascus. Thus Damascus was visited by the Spanish, German, Dutch, and Belgian foreign ministers as well as by the foreign policy a dvisor to the British Prime Minister Tony Blair…”
Hamidii added: “Concerning the “contradictions in the European messages [to Damascus]”, an official meeting for the foreign ministers of the European Union in Brussels was tasked with the possibility of sending Solana to Damascus. According to the information available to Al Hayat, the French foreign minister Philip Douste-Plazy announced in this meeting that the situation in Lebanon is still critical and that there are divisions in its community and in the political regime and concluded that “a settlement is necessary to correct the political regime and ratify the statute of the international tribunal on the basis of no winners, no losers”. Thus he called for sending a clear message to Syria to support the tribunal and what the Lebanese want concerning a unity government capable of operating to the end of its mandate according to the previous elections…”
Hamidi continued: “Thus Solana went on his tour which included Beirut, Riyadh, and Damascus where he met with the Syrian president Bashar Al-Assad, his deputy Farouk Al-Shar’a, and the foreign minister Walid Al-Muallem…It was noteworthy that the meetings included a session with Al-Assad which lasted for 50 minutes in which there was a detailed discussion of the Syrian-European relations…Concerning the details of the behaviour expected by Solana “for Damascus to return to the Arab ranks”, these include: “Lebanon first of all. Lebanon is an important country and is passing currently through some political troubles. It is an obligation to support stability, implement the international resolutions, and play a positive role there” in implementing resolution 1701, monitoring the Syrian Lebanese borders, and supporting the unity government.”
Hamididi added: “The second issue concerns applying pressure on Hamas to force it to take more pragmatic stances to facilitate dealing with the Palestinian track. In this context, it was noteworthy that Solana talked for the first time about the line of the 4th of June 1967 as borders to regain the Syrian Golan Heights but he considered at the same time that top priority should be given to the Palestinian track which would be followed by discussing the Syrian track. The third issue pertains to “continuing to develop the behaviour” towards Iraq and “translating talk into actions” to monitor the borders and support the political process while registering the positive developments on the Damascus-Baghdad line…What is Solana offering in return? He is working on a basket of incentives that include economic and political offerings such as signing the [Euro-Med] partnership deal, focusing on the Golan Heights and presenting aid to the Iraqi refugees…” – Al Hayat, United Kingdom
Michael Young of the Daily Star writes: "Syria's 'engagers' can't ignore Brammertz," Thursday, March 22, 2007
France Urged Israel to Invade Syria During War by Ezra HaLevi
France urged Israel to invade Syria during the war against Hizbullah this past summer.
Army Radio reported Sunday that French President Jacques Chirac contacted Prime Minister Ehud Olmert via a secret channel at the very beginning of the war in Lebanon. He informed him that France would support an Israeli invasion of Syria.
Chirac asked that Israel act to topple the Assad regime, and promised in return to block any moves against Israel within the United Nations or European Union.
"Chirac saw Syria as the primary one responsible for the [arming of Hizbullah]," Israel’s former Ambassador to France Nissim Zvili told Army Radio. "He saw Syria as directly responsible for the attempt to undermine the Lebanese regime and for the murder of [Lebanon’s former prime minister] Rafik al-Hariri.”
France administered Lebanon from 1920 until 1943, and President Chirac was a personal friend of al-Hariri’s.
Chirac warned Syria in March 2006 that destabilizing Lebanon would “trigger a response from the international community.”
The Maariv daily quoted a “senior Israeli official” who claimed that Chirac “misunderstood Israel’s interests,” which, he said, were to “end the war.”
Chirac’s proposal, tacitly supported by the US as well, according to Maariv, was discussed at several Foreign Ministry meetings.
Just last week Chirac threw his full support behind a conciliatory visit to Syria by EU Foreign Minister Javier Solana. "I back it without reservation,” Chirac said. “Europe speaks with one voice."
Mohammed Ali Atassi has written a moving tribute to Syria's most acclaimed filmmaker, Omar Amirlay: Thirteen Hours of Interrogation.
Omar Amirlay, an outspoken and prolific Syrian filmmaker and intellectual, is internationally acclaimed for his many films, and has helped put contemporary Syria on the artistic map. So why is the Syrian government treating this cultural treasure like a common criminal? Mohammed Ali Atassi reflects on the government’s complicated relationship with Amirlay and with the nation’s rapidly dwindling intelligentsia.
Harry Clark in his “Thrice-Told Tales: Those Israel-Syria Peace Talks", gives an overview of the history of peace talks between Syria and Israel.
Gabriel Kolko’s work as a historian casts a giant shadow, but his recent account of “Israel, Iran and the Bush Administration” (CounterPunch, February 10/11) is open to challenge. The Israeli peace talks with Syria, which Kolko finds of “enormous significance,” are a thrice-told tale which has not yet come true, least of all because of intervention by the United States. ……”
In his address, the 90-year-old Lewis did not revisit his argument that regime change in Iraq would provide the jolt needed to modernize the Middle East. Instead, he spoke at length about the millennial struggle between Christianity and Islam. Lewis argues that Muslims have adopted migration, along with terror, as the latest strategy in their "cosmic struggle for world domination." This is a familiar framework from the original author of the phrase "the clash of civilizations"—made more famous by Harvard scholar Samuel Huntington. What did surprise me was Lewis' denunciation of Pope John Paul II's 2000 apology for the Crusades as political correctness run amok. This drew applause. Lewis' view is that the Muslims started it by invading Europe in the eighth century. The Crusades were merely a failed imitation of Muslim jihad in an endless see-saw of conquest and re-conquest.
Turkish DNA is less than 9% from Central Asia, according to a provocative study done on the genetic structures of over 500 Turks from the various regions of Anatolia. An earlier study, based on a much smaller sampling, claimed that roughly 30% of Turkish DNA had Central Asian origins. This newer and more scientific study has gotten Turks talking. See Excavating Y-chromosome haplotype strata in Anatolia, PubMed.
High resolution SNP analysis provides evidence of a detectable yet weak signal (<9%) of recent paternal gene flow from Central Asia. The major components (haplogroups E3b, G, J, I, L, N, K2, and R1; 94.1%) are shared with European and neighboring Near Eastern populations and contrast with only a minor share of haplogroups related to Central Asian (C, Q and O; 3.4%), Indian (H, R2; 1.5%) and African (A, E3*, E3a; 1%) affinity.
I wonder what one would find in Syria, if a DNA study like this were undertaken.