France Urged Israel to Bomb Syria

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

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. ……”

Jacob Weisberg at Slate gives a summary of Bernard Lewis' talk at the American Enterprise Institute bash last week in his, "Party of Defeat: AEI's weird celebration.

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.

Comments (135)

George Ajjan said:

Syrian DNA? DEFINITELY wouldn’t contain any “Phoenician” DNA. Definitely not.

(Alex or Ehsani, can one of you please post a definition of sarcasm before I am bombarded with hate-mail? Thanks.)

March 22nd, 2007, 9:50 am


Ford Prefect said:

For the first time in history France comes up with a good idea.

And now the following clip:

The Syrian Minister of Culture blames the London bombings on the REAL perpetrators…

I mean if the Syrians and Iranians use terrorists to do their dirty work, and then deny it, I think the West should put a stop to it…

Just MHO (AP)

March 22nd, 2007, 10:48 am


Ford Prefect said:

I have not posted the comment above “for the first time….” and I am not sure how this happened. May I ask the poster of that comment to repost again under his/her name?

My original comment will be posted next.

March 22nd, 2007, 12:19 pm


Ford Prefect said:

Dear George Ajjan,
I will define sarcasm while Alex and Ehsani are waking up (mornin’ fellas!) Sarcasm, in the context of this Syria Comment blogger, is the art of delivering counter punches to the malicious intentions of turning Syria into another Iraq so that Israel can continue its illegal occupation of the Golan Heights. Israel is occupying the Golan Heights in spite of many UN Resolutions – while the world is now bent on implementing only those resolutions that favor Israel.

March 22nd, 2007, 12:28 pm


anonymous said:

Thanks to Josh for posting article about the Syrian intellectual treatment by the Syrian regime. I do like the SC forum and I hope will stay open to all points of views. In the last threads if not for Gibran, the post would become boring and one sided. Thanks again to Josh who was civilized in his response to Fares anger which exceeded the limits. Josh I hope you would keep place for intellectual dissents and opposition of Syria by keeping a balance of the number commentators on each side.

March 22nd, 2007, 2:14 pm


majedkhaldoun said:

ويؤكد ابو ايمن وهو سمسار عقارات في حي المالكي، ان سعر شقة مساحتها 200 متر مربع وتطل على حديقة تشرين لا يقل عن تسعين مليون ليرة سورية (1.8 مليون دولار)، في مقابل 75 مليون ليرة (1.5 مليون دولار) قبل شهرين. وتقول المكاتب العقارية ان الاجارات في دمشق ازدادت بنسبة اربعين في المئة خلال العامين الاخيرين.

March 22nd, 2007, 3:36 pm


Innocent_Criminal said:


i also felt that was not you when i first read that comment. but as mentioned before, you and Akbar Palace have the same IP address so either you’re both using the same IP cloaking software and he is abusing it. Or you’re both the same schizophrenic person and just made a name error.

but dont ask me which option i am leaning toward cause you won’t like it 😉

March 22nd, 2007, 3:46 pm


Akbar Palace said:

Ford Prefect said:

“Israel is occupying the Golan Heights in spite of many UN Resolutions – while the world is now bent on implementing only those resolutions that favor Israel.”

Zzzzz. Syria was at war with Israel BEFORE Israel took the Golan. The UAR dream of throwing Israel into the sea didn’t pan out.

In short, the Holy Golan is just an excuse to keep the thug in power. Enemy still present/you still need my protection/your freedom is priority number 2

Moreover, all pertinent UN resolutions require land for peace, not one or the other.


Sorry for messing up your post, I though I was editing my own post…


Now an example:

The Syrian Minister of “Culture” [my quotes], explains why the London bombings were committed by the usual suspects: the USA or the Zionist Hoodlums (as if it couldn’t have been done by one of those Muslims who used 2 small children yesterday to detonate a car bomb in Iraq).

What a backward government!

March 22nd, 2007, 4:08 pm


Ford Prefect said:

IC, I’d rather stop posting and continue my quest elsewhere than have the same IP address as someone advocating force and wars as the solution.

March 22nd, 2007, 4:50 pm


Alex said:


“Josh I hope you would keep place for intellectual dissents and opposition of Syria by keeping a balance of the number commentators on each side.”

Josh does not interfere in selecting the number of commentators on each side. You are welcome to participate here and bring 1000 friends too.

March 22nd, 2007, 4:59 pm


Gibran said:

These questions are for Akbar:
Do you think now, in retrospect, that Israel made a mistake by not following France’s as well as US’s advice of attacking Syria instead of Lebanon during the summer of last year?
The second question(s) is: Do you think Israel’s policy of supporting a minority Alawi regime in Syria is misguided? Don’t you think Israel is better off negotiating a peace deal with a strong representative government in Damascus? Look at Egypt and Jordan. They signed on to peace and they delivered. It seems the Syrian track of peace negotiating is at a dead end as long as the minorities of the Alawis are in charge. Don’t you think?

Now to Olmert and his quest for peace:

“Israel hints at peace concessions

Mr Olmert said the Saudi plan was a “convenient basis”
Prime Minister Ehud Olmert has said Israel is ready to make “big and painful” concessions to advance the peace process in the Middle East.
Speaking in Tel Aviv, he also said a Saudi Arabian peace plan could be a starting point for future peace talks.

The plan offers Israel normalisation of ties with Arab states if it pulls out of all Arab land it occupied in 1967.

Israel rejected the plan outright after it was first proposed at an Arab summit in Beirut in 2002.

“Israel is ready to make big and painful concessions in order to encourage [peace negotiations in the region],” Mr Olmert told a gathering of kibbutz youth movement volunteers.

He said the Saudi plan could be a “convenient basis for future talks between us and moderate Arab elements”.

“The Saudi initiative is interesting and contains many parts I would be ready to accept… not all of them,” Mr Olmert said.

The plan also envisages the right of the Palestinian refugees to return to their homes in Israel.

Mr Olmert’s comments come a week before an Arab summit in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, where its participants are expected to revive the peace initiative.”

And Thanks Anonymous for your kind remark.

March 22nd, 2007, 5:16 pm


3antar said:

I dont get it, so is FP the same person as AP? how can ip addresses get mixed up like that? something dodgy is going on.

buuuuut anyway…

“In short, the Holy Golan is just an excuse to keep the thug in power. Enemy still present/you still need my protection/your freedom is priority number 2”
so by this logic, since the thug (as you rightfully say) is using the Golan as an excuse, by signing back the golan, that would remove his cause and dismantle his grip on power. In addition to that, the emergency laws which are still in place in syria would lose their legitimacy. BUT Israel seems too hesitant to the extent that its blatantly obvious it wants Assad to continue his reign. But thats based on the postulate that the regime would lose power if the land was returned. Thats a big if there matey. who ever you might really be.

March 22nd, 2007, 5:52 pm


t_desco said:

UN probes link between Hariri murder and Al-Qaeda convict

ISTANBUL: A UN commission probing the killing of former Lebanese prime minister Rafiq Hariri is investigating whether a Syrian Al-Qaeda member serving a life sentence in Turkey is linked to the murder, Turkish newspapers reported on Thursday.

Two UN investigators met police, prosecutors and intelligence officials in Istanbul and Ankara this week to gather information on Louai Sakka, the mass-circulation ‘Hurriyet’ and ‘Sabah’ newspapers reported.

The investigators, Alasdair Mcleod of Britain and Ahmet Kaya of Turkey, were given copies of Sakka’s testimony, reports on his DNA profile and other forensic data as well as the verdict issued against him by a Turkish court last month, the daily ‘Milliyet’ said.

The Turkish justice and foreign ministries refused to comment.

Sakka, an alleged associate of Abu Musab Al-Zarqawi, the former Al-Qaeda leader in Iraq, was sentenced to life imprisonment for masterminding and financing deadly suicide bombings against Jewish and British targets in Istanbul in 2003.

The attacks, which killed 63 people and injured some 600 others when suicide bombers rammed bomb-laden trucks into two synagogues, the British consulate and the British bank HSBC, were the worst terror attacks in Turkish history.

In 2005, Sakka’s lawyer claimed that unidentified men tried to press his client into testifying against Syria in connection with the Hariri killing and threatened him with death if he did not comply.

Al Qaeda’s Sakka receives two visitors from the UN

March 22nd, 2007, 6:03 pm


t_desco said:

For the record:

Suikastta parmağı mı var

Hariri suikastında Sakka izi arıyorlar

El Kaide’ci Sakka’ya BM’den iki ziyaretçi

March 22nd, 2007, 6:11 pm


Ford Prefect said:

I am NOT the same person as Akbar Palace. Many people around here know me personally. I’d rather pack up and leave than become the same as the person who advocates selective violence and war against certain human beings. IP addresses notwithstanding (and I have no idea how this can be happening being a systems engineer myself for over 20 years), it sends chills up my spine to be associated with war mongering and collective punishment. IC, you know my email address, drop me a line and let’s work through this issue. AP’s opinions are as important and valuable as everybody else’s.

March 22nd, 2007, 6:26 pm


ausamaa said:


“Josh I hope you would keep place for intellectual dissents and opposition of Syria by keeping a balance of the number commentators on each side”.

Marhaba Tallo!!

Maybe you have missed the whole point of Syria Comment. It is not a place for Intellectual Dessent only, its for all Syrian related issues. If it was for disedents only or for supporters only, most of us would not be here!

And since you are a beleiver in Dessent and Free Opinion, how do you want to achieve a “balanced number of commentators”?? If there are not enough dissedants or not enough non-dissedents, what do you propose the administrator of the blog? Remove the excess of some and “Manufacture” some to balance it out???

Forgive me also, but did you just slip by saying “dissents and opposition of SYRIA”??? OF “SYRIA” not the “regieme” not the government, not the party, not the whatever, but “SYRIA”!

Did you just give your self away unintentially by this? I mean your true intention? Anti-Syria?

Sho mahdoooooom!

March 22nd, 2007, 6:35 pm


Alex said:


OK, first, I know Ford Prefect personally… he is not AP, trust me.

Ausamaa … true believers in free opinion are only a small subset of those who think they are believers in free opinion… usually the loudest ones and the complainers are not within this subset.

And .. did you see this one today? WELCOME TO BAGHDAD

Looks like this will be his first and last visit.

March 22nd, 2007, 6:45 pm


ugarit said:


Dr. Landis should really switch to . It’s a far more superior content management system than the one being used by his site.

March 22nd, 2007, 6:49 pm


ausamaa said:

A couple of days ago I remarked here that the latest “doomesday scenario” ISRAELI CIVIL DEFENCE EXCERCISE was nothing but a political gimmick. Today the the Israeili intelligence site confirms this.

The importance of the article is not the description of the Excercise which matters; it is something else! If you read the article, there is evidence of a RIFT within the intell-military Israeli establishment, that is now taking place in the open, even to the degree of dissent being voiced in public!!!


“DEBKAfile: Israel’s civil defense exercise Tuesday and Wednesday is more a charade than a genuine drill”

DEBKAfile Special Report

March 19, 2007, 10:40 PM (GMT+02:00)
The warning sirens wailed across central and southern Israel Tuesday, March 20 purportedly to prepare the most densely populated parts of the country for unconventional terrorist strikes and mega-attacks, rocket strikes and missile attacks on three fronts. The official announcement promised the incorporation of lessons drawn from the Lebanon war when more than a million Israeli civilians were blasted by 4,000 Hizballah rockets for 33 days.

Monday, the day before the exercise, the new chief of staff Lt. General Gaby Ashkenazi called his first general meeting of the IDF’s high command, announcing he would present next year’s work schedule and his “vision for the future.”

DEBKAfile’s military sources would advise Gen. Ashkenazi to concentrate on more urgent practical tasks because the public needs some convincing that the various branches of the Olmert government, including the military, are seriously setting in motion preparations for the next war.

In the more than eight months since the Lebanon conflict ended, the IDF has not carried out a single pro-active operation to offset the line of replenished missiles Hizballah has arrayed on the Litani, to stem the massive Syrian-Iranian infusion of smuggled weapons into Lebanon, to curtail the flow of new weapons into the Gaza Strip, or even to dismantle the stockpile of Qassam surface missiles facing Tel Aviv from the West Bank – thus far only in storage.

The Israeli army seems to have reverted to its pre-war routine of counter-terror activity which helped blunt its performance on the Lebanon battlefield.

Maybe the IDF is being held back by the prime minister and government from such operations, but Israel cannot a chief of staff who follows in the footsteps of his predecessor Lt. Gen. Dan Halutz, who passed the security buck to civilian government and was practically hounded out of his job by a country in shock from the disastrous consequences of the Lebanon conflict.

To restore Israel’s deterrent strength, not only in Iranian and Arab eyes, but for the ordinary Israeli citizen, the IDF will have to prove it is still capable of the daring operations behind enemy lines which kept it at bay. Its chief of staff must also urgently rejuvenate and re-energize the top echelons with fresh talent.

Since the war, three high generals have stepped down – Halutz, OC northern command Udi Adam and Galil division commander Gal Hirsch. But most of the officers on whose watch the Lebanon debacle occurred are still in place, including deputy chief of staff Maj. Gen. Moshe Kaplinsky, Navy commander Maj. Gen. David Ben Bassat, military intelligence chief Maj. Gen Amos Yadlin, and home front director Maj. Gen. Yitzhak Gershon.

Each of them bears responsibility for his share of fateful shortcomings – Kaplinsky, for the overall misconception and mismanagement of the war, Bassat, for the direct missile hit which damaged the Israel Navy’s “Hanit,” Yadlin, for sending field commanders into battle without the necessary data on Hizballah’s anti-tank weapons, its combat methods and subterranean strongholds, and Gershon for the conspicuous absence of home front personnel and succor in a region battered round the clock by Katyusha rockets.

As for defenses against unconventional terrorist attacks or a missile blitz, supposedly drilled Tuesday and Wednesday, the government is sorely derelict – even to the old, nagging problem of providing protected areas for the schoolchildren of Sderot and its neighbors against Palestine missiles attacks, which have never stopped in six years.

Five Qassam missiles were fired from the Gaza Strip, Sunday, March 18, the day the Palestinian unity government was installed

The population of northern Israel is no better protected for the next war than they were for the last, despite the promises the prime minister, defense minister and other cabinet members scattered right and left.

A direct missile hit against a three-storey building Netanya, with sound effects provided by sirens and speeding ambulances. It is meaningless in the context of an unprotected populace under coordinated missile attacks from its northern, central and southern borders.

March 22nd, 2007, 6:53 pm


ausamaa said:


I still have tears in my eyes from laughing!!!!

Poor Mr. Secretary General. Now he believes what he sees on TV!!

March 22nd, 2007, 7:01 pm


Gibran said:

T_Desco is all excited:
“UN probes link between Hariri murder and Al-Qaeda convict”
Could you please enlighten us further with the help of your “methodic analytical powers” (I’m just quoting IC) as to why Bashar continues to oppose the formation of the Tribunal? He should be all for it now according to your latest piece of news. shouldn’t he?

March 22nd, 2007, 7:11 pm


Innocent_Criminal said:


if Alex is vouching for you then you are alright in my books. Though i dont get how AP can some how edit your comments. Guess you both are using the same software.

That video was funny. i loved how the Iraqi PM tried to play it cool telling the bodygaurd “rooh” as if a missle landing 50 meters away is super normal

March 22nd, 2007, 7:14 pm


norman said:

Europe claims Israel preparing for war
Officials telling Damascus to expect conflict this summer

Posted: March 22, 2007
3:00 p.m. Eastern

By Aaron Klein
© 2007

Bashar Assad
TEL AVIV – European officials have been claiming to Syrian leaders the past few weeks Israel is preparing for a military confrontation with Damascus, in some cases providing Syria with inaccurate information, WND has learned.

A top source in Syrian President Bashar Assad’s Baath party told WND European leaders visiting Damascus in recent weeks delivered messages stating Israel was taking measures in advance of a large-scale conflict with Syria, including updating battle plans, training reservist soldiers and preparing the home front for missile attacks.

(Story continues below)

One senior European Union official told Assad the Israeli government instructed its major hospitals not to allow staff to take vacation time during the summer months for fear a conflict will break out during that period, according to the Baath party source.

Israeli security officials and spokesmen for several major Israeli hospitals denied the claim.

The European officials advised Assad to engage in dialogue with the Jewish state and the U.S. leading to a full Israeli withdrawal of the Golan Heights, the Baath official said. The Golan is strategic mountainous territory looking down on Israeli population centers twice used by Syria to mount ground invasions into Israel.

Israel this week engaged in a nationwide drill, acting out responses to various wartime scenarios, including salvoes of chemical-tipped missiles and major terrorist attacks. It was the largest war drill held in Israel since its establishment in 1948. Israeli government spokesmen said the drills were to test lessons learned during last summer’s war against the Hezbollah militia in Lebanon.

Israeli security sources confirmed stepped-up training schedules for Israel Defense Forces reservist troops have been implemented. They say the training is not related to any expected confrontations, but is in response to internal military investigations that found reservists were not properly trained for the Lebanon war.

According to a report today in the London-based Al-Hayat daily, talks between Israel and France concerning Syria concluded Israel is not interested in weakening Assad, because it does not know whether his replacement would present superior diplomatic alternatives. French officials told the newspaper Israel perceives Assad as weak but is not interested in confronting Syria out of fear that intervention would alter the political situation there.

Assad, who signed a military alliance with Iran, is accused of supporting the insurgency against U.S. troops in Iraq and funneling money and weapons to Hezbollah. Leaders of major Palestinian terror groups, including Hamas and Islamic Jihad, reside openly in Damascus.

WND this week quoted Palestinian and British diplomatic officials stating the European Union is pressing the U.S. to alter its policy toward Syria to be more in line with recommendations made last December by the Iraq Study Group, which petitioned Washington to engage in dialogue with Damascus.

A diplomat from Britain’s Foreign Ministry touring Israel this week said the UK received signals Washington is ready to act on some of the Study Group recommendations.

“America understands that Iraq cannot be solved unless Syria is engaged and Israel withdraws from the Golan Heights and the West Bank,” the diplomat said, speaking on condition his name be withheld.

The diplomat pointed to a visit to Syria last week by Ellen Sauerbrey, the U.S. assistant secretary of state for population, refugees and migration, as a public gesture that Washington is willing to engage Damascus. Sauerbrey was the most senior U.S. official to visit Syria since the U.S. withdrew its ambassador following the 2005 assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri, for which Syria was widely blamed.

Syrian Deputy Foreign Minister Fayssal Mekdad told reporters following last week’s meeting Damascus is ready to engage in “serious” dialogue with Washington on all Middle East issues.

Also last week, EU Foreign Policy Chief Javier Solana told Syria he expected Israel to evacuate the entire Golan Heights as part of any future peace deal.

Solana’s remarks were blasted by Israeli Knesset members, who pointed out the EU chief did not call for Syria to stop supporting Hezbollah or providing refuge to the leadership of the Hamas and Islamic Jihad terror groups, who live openly in Damascus.


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March 22nd, 2007, 7:18 pm


Alex said:

Thanks IC.

I also liked Malki’s genuine confident smile that surely reassured the secretary general that there was nothing out of the ordinary .. it was just a generic missile, that’s all.

Norman, Ausamaa

I have been getting the same message from some journalists who “care about Syria” .. the message is “Don’t trust Israel’s calls for peace … Israel looks like it might surprise you with something different”

Problem is, I still think all the European, Saudi, Lebanese, Egyptian advice to Syria has been so far consistent in one thing only: “Don’t take any initiatives. Let us check thigns for you first and if we tell you to do something, then you can do it”… basically they want Syria to not play an independent role. That’ all.

From the same person I heard advice that Syria should show flexibility (in peace negotiations with Israel) and lately the opposite advice of “watch it, don’t believe the Israelis”

AS for the article Norman posted … The Alhayat quote is originally a report by Randa tekkyidin. She always writes the same thing over the past two years: Syria is weak, Israel is protecting the Syrian regime and can somehow one day remove that protection …Syria will soon be found guilty of Hariri’s killing … another angry Lebanese reporter who is obsessed with those evil and weak Syrians.

Here is her “news”

According to a report today in the London-based Al-Hayat daily, talks between Israel and France concerning Syria concluded Israel is not interested in weakening Assad, because it does not know whether his replacement would present superior diplomatic alternatives. French officials told the newspaper Israel perceives Assad as weak but is not interested in confronting Syria out of fear that intervention would alter the political situation there.

March 22nd, 2007, 7:48 pm


Ford Prefect said:

Ausamaa, I don’t know who you are, but you scare me in light of the mixed identity dilemma I am having with Akbar. You and I think exactly the same. No self-glorification here, but I love your comments. Cheers

IC, I love what you do, man. Please keep this site free of bigotry and hate.

Alex, that was one hysterical video. Cheers for making a hard day at work a pleasant one afterall 😉

Ugarit, I agree with you, many open source and proprietary CM software are much better for SC. I don’t have a say in that, but I have an IP-identity problem with Akbar, so it seems. Mind you that I travel all over the world, and my IP address is constantly changing. I will check with IC to get to the bottom of this. That is what I do for a living anyway 😉

Akbar, no hard feelings, but I don’t like your thoughts, your ideas, or what you advocate. Nevertheless, I think your opinions are valuable, add diversity, and I respect your intellect.

March 22nd, 2007, 8:01 pm


ausamaa said:

thanks and do not worry about mixed IDs, I am way out in the Arabian Gulf.. I had a scare myself last week at Syria Comment; some GIBRAN-like sole posted some GIBRAN-like ideas and he was called “Ousamaa”. Took me a while to figure out what it was.

March 22nd, 2007, 8:14 pm


Ford Prefect said:

LOL! Keep up the good work Ausamaa. You are an asset.

March 22nd, 2007, 8:29 pm


Atassi said:

I know FP personally too.. He is my back bone … But I don’t understand the bug behind the IP mix.

March 22nd, 2007, 8:32 pm


Ford Prefect said:

Cheers, Atassi. Now back to work, any thoughts on the French ingenuity? Can a government be as senile as its president?

March 22nd, 2007, 8:42 pm


ausamaa said:


I beleive you are right, our local brothers told the Bush Admininstration, leave it to us for a while and we shall test the water and let you know what should be next! Same like an unaware Blair said to Bush on TV a year or so back. Oh, maybe he planted the Idea that KSA should ride point for a while!

As to Israel surprising Syria, I really, really doubt it, as much as I doubt the take that Israel is “defending” Assad’s leadership because the other options can be worse. The same broken record they used that Israel was the true guardian of Yassr Arafat!

What we seeing is Psyops at its earnest! But it is not working. The Arab street still thinks 180 degrees in the opposit direction.

I just remember an interview of the ex GCC General Secretary Abdullah Bshara -a seasoned diplomate-on Orbit Network about two months ago. He was adamant: The American project should not fail in Iraq or Lebanon. If it fails, then it is a blow to us. We have to do our best to make it work.

Those guys think they are fighting for their Survival. Expect more from them in the future. Do you not see everyone running here and there and everywhere? The whole deck of cards is uncertain now. And it is scaring the hell out of them.

March 22nd, 2007, 8:49 pm


K said:

Damn, it’s happening again. When I try to post a link or paste an article here, my comment just doesn’t appear!!!

March 22nd, 2007, 10:23 pm


K said:


According to Joshua Landis, Lebanese Shias are “treated like slaves” in Lebanon. In a post that doubles as an argument for engaging Syria and as a visceral attack on Daily Star columnist Michael Young, he claims that Lebanese Shias are counted as “half human beings”. He backs this up with his own reading of Hizbullah’s motivation behind the downtown occupation, which he claims is to “ask for a greater number of cabinet posts”.

Last time I checked, Hizbullah did not want more “Shia” cabinet posts, but posts for their allies—Christians and Sunnis allied with the Syrian regime. In fact, it is only Landis and others like him who invent false sectarian explanations for events brought about by the Assad regime. I would like Landis to run his slaves theory by Nabih Berri, and see if he agrees with him that Hassan Nasrallah is the Lebanese Shias’ Martin Luther King Jr. The “president of parliament” (as Landis calls him), would scoff at the notion that the root of the problem lies with the “Taef agreement”, which hasn’t even been fully implemented. Berri is a staunch defender of that agreement, with all its faults, and despite his being on the side of essentially anti-Taef Hizbullah, he would never believe that the current impasse in Lebanon is only caused by a faulty consociational system which Landis seems to abhor so much.

Lebanon may indeed need a shakeup, but I doubt someone with the following perception of the country knows how to go about it. For Beirut, to Landis, is:

…perhaps a cross between the Vatican and Mecca on the Med. Sunnis and Christians enjoy the lion’s share of power. The mellifluous and jolly sounding term “consociationalism” cannot hide the ugly fact that Lebanon is a religious state, in which Sunnis and Christians are privileged, politically and economically.

When Landis visited Lebanon during his stay in Damascus, was he followed by nuns and imams in white Peugeots, tracking his every move and recording his phone and other intimate conversations with his wife and acquaintances? Was his wife forced to observe prayer time, did he have to hide his sandwich during Ramadan? Were his Syrian homosexual friends, if any, hanged for being homosexual? Did men sport beards, rape women and hang them for it?

No, and Landis knows this, but this didn’t stop him from calling Lebanon a “religious state”.

Lebanon is not perfect, and all my readers know how utterly dysfunctional its government is. But to call Lebanon a “religious state” and compare Shias to “slaves” to essentially cover up the role of the Assad regime in opposing the tribunal and seeking to transform the country into a dictator’s playground is inexcusable.

It’s also irresponsible to act as port-parole for the Syrian regime’s line and tell a large segment of Lebanese that their opposition to the Assad regime is a form of denial of “the real flaws of Lebanon’s democracy”, and then threaten that “the Lebanese obstructionist solution is to import violence into Lebanon and the region. They refuse to allow a ‘typically muddled but non-violent solution to the impasse.’ Importing foreign armies to keep the Shiites in their place will only lead to further war and extremism on both sides.”

Are Michael Young and “other Lebanese” really war mongers while pro-Assad journalists and politicians are peace activists? And is Landis really more knowledgeable about the faults of “Lebanon’s democracy” (or ‘religious state’) than they are? Their solution to the impasse may be wanting, but what is a “typically muddled solution” anyway? One that ignores Assad’s crimes? And why is lobbying against Assad-regime violence considered by Landis a call for violence? Is this a threat?

Speaking of violence, who has been causing it over the past two years? Have Michael Young and his counterpart in politics, Walid Jumblatt (as Landis sees it), been fitting cars with explosives, arming fundamentalists and blowing up people?

Was Rafik Hariri killed by a Shia “slave” rebelling against his Sunni and Christian masters?

If “black slaves” in America had the weapons alleged Lebanese Shia slaves have today, had they launched wars on nearby states and laid siege to the White House and disabled Congress, I doubt Landis would be employing this analogy today.

As one of those Shia slaves, I hereby proclaim my emancipation from the forced identification with Hizbullah, whose undeniable fundamentalist aspirations Landis ignores in his confusion of the sectarian with the religious. And I thought it was elementary to know the difference.

That said, I would much rather be a slave in Lebanon than be connected to a murderous regime.

March 22nd, 2007, 10:25 pm


K said:

Ok it worked. I think it has something to do with removing links from the article?

Anyway, the above piece was written by a “Shi’a slave”, Abu Kais, on his blog From Beirut to the Beltway.

March 22nd, 2007, 10:27 pm


K said:

More from a “Shi’a slave”:


The online spat between Michael Young and Joshua Landis revealed the extent to which Landis is prepared to go to push for talks between the US and Syria: discrediting a prominent Lebanese journalist, and marketing a false explanation to the situation in Lebanon. What follows is my response to Landis’ response to Young, in which he spews out pontifications on Lebanon.

The point of my article was to highlight how America’s policy of refusing negotiations with its adversaries undermines movement toward democracy. By not moving decisively to resolve long-standing injustices in the region, Washington prevents the formation of consensus, which is the only soil upon which civil society can grow.

So, by not negotiating with murderers such as Bashar Assad, whose crimes apparently would push democracy forward if not addressed by the international community, “consensus” between killers and victims of terror is not reached, preventing the fertilization of this alleged democratic soil.

The US should be on the side of working out a new power-sharing arrangement in Lebanon rather than obstructing it. Eventually this will have to include taking a new census in Lebanon and revising the Ta’if Accords, as Lebanon’s National Pact is called. Michael himself has advocated this in recommending that Lebanon move toward a bicameral system of government, a solution everyone can applaud.

The Taef Accord (there is only one) does call for a bicameral system of parliament, and bunch of other things that the Assad regime and its allies have obstructed since it was passed. Could it be that Landis wants the US to redistribute power in Lebanon? He obviously does not read Hizbullah statements or even the Assad regime’s statements (though I doubt it), which often accuse the US of interfering in Lebanese affairs. But then, he is really saying the US should side with the Assad regime against the democratically elected parliament majority because, well, he has decided–-even before a census is conducted—that the Lebanese sectarian system needs an overhaul.

But why not begin the difficult task of finding an accommodation with the opposition today? Opponents of the governing coalition have legitimate criticisms of the Lebanon’s democracy. One of the reasons they refuse to relax relations with Syria and Iran is because they have not been able to advance their claims through negotiation. Instead they cling to resistance.

What are these “legitimate criticisms” of Lebanon’s democracy? That it is run out of the state’s institutions? That militias should not be allowed to carry weapons and drag the country to war? That neighboring countries cannot maintain control over the country’s security institutions? That foreign policy is the prerogative of the Lebanese government? That the wellbeing of dictators is not more important than the rule of law? Pray tell us. And while you’re at it, do explain how Iran and Syria are helping the opposition in its alleged democratic pursuit. With that logic, you must believe that al-Qaeda is democratising Iraq.

The spring 2006 “national dialogue” between Lebanon’s za’ims or communal chieftains came to nothing, demands for new elections were refused, and now a deal for increased representation of the opposition in the cabinet has seemingly been scuttled.

Oh, and who aborted the dialogue? Who launched a war on Israel, and who reneged on their commitments during the dialogue? And how is it democratic to demand new elections and paralyze the country every time you feel the interests of a foreign country are at risk?

This is Landis downgrading what is essentially a Syrian-Lebanese struggle into a pure Lebanese sectarian struggle. It’s an internal Lebanese matter, says the boss, and Landis agrees.

My provocative title, “Counting Lebanon’s Shiites as Slaves: Why the Lebanon Deal is Obstructed,” was a way to draw attention to the very real social and political issues that are at stake in Lebanon. Shiites in Lebanon are not treated as slaves. I make this abundantly clear in my article, but they are not counted for the purposes of parliamentary representation in proportion to their actual numbers. We can dispute whether they are counted as half or two-thirds of Lebanese from some other faiths, but quibbling over how badly they are underrepresented cannot obscure the fact that they are underrepresented. The only way to find out the correct numbers of Lebanese is for the government to take a new census, something it has refused or neglected to do since 1932 because entrenched authorities have much to lose.

So, without this census, how do you know to advance claims of misrepresentation? The presumption that guides Landis is that Shias are underrepresented in Lebanon. This may be true, but Landis builds an entire argument on something that has not been proven. Additionally, as I pointed out before, he puts words in Nasrallah’s and Berri’s mouths, who have never complained that the current crisis is the result of a fault in the constitution that caused them to be underrepresented in parliament and the cabinet. The issue, as Berri admitted yesterday, was the Hariri tribunal—a matter that primarily concerns the Assad regime, but that Landis makes into a purely domestic issue.

The US will fail to build the trust it requires in the region in order to advance its policies so long as it refuses to throw it’s weight behind settling long outstanding issues of representation in Lebanon, the return of the Golan to Syria, or respect for Palestinian statehood in the occupied territories. Iran or some other power inimical to US interests will champion these causes so long as the US refuses or fails to resolve them in an equitable manner.

Brilliant. Iran and Syria are championing the “Shia cause” in Lebanon. I wonder how Franjieh, Aoun, the SSNP—all Christians—would react if they knew that their regional allies are trying to change the sectarian formula and give them fewer seats in parliament?

Talking to Syria and negotiating a broader Arab-Israeli peace in the region is not extreme. Increasingly, this argument is being put forward by America’s most experienced Middle East hands. Haaretz reported a week ago that James Baker told an Israeli audience, “The Middle East has grown less stable during the presidency of U.S. President George W. Bush, but dramatic improvements could be made by opening broad talks with Syria.” Zbigniew Brzezinski said in January, “The U.S. refusal to explore the possibility of talks with Iran and Syria is a policy of self-ostracism that fits well into the administration’s diplomatic style of relying on sloganeering as a substitute for strategizing.” Top Israeli intelligence and army officers have come to the same conclusion.

Oh, why not spare us the Lebanon analysis and just say it: your objective here is “talking to Syria”. It is clear that for your goal to look realizable, you have to present the situation in Lebanon as a purely domestic matter. Unfortunately for you, Joshua, everyone knows that it isn’t—including those Shias whose “cause” you now champion (myself not included).

March 22nd, 2007, 10:32 pm


ausamaa said:


Josh is not in town. Come back later. Much later. Goodnight

March 22nd, 2007, 10:48 pm


K said:


This is for your pleasure as well as Mr. Landis’s. Enjoy.

March 22nd, 2007, 10:58 pm


Akbar Palace said:

Gibran asks:

“Do you think now, in retrospect, that Israel made a mistake by not following France’s as well as US’s advice of attacking Syria instead of Lebanon during the summer of last year?”

This is a difficult question. As you know, I would prefer peace and tranquility for everyone: Jew and Arab.

But both Iran and Syria are arming and funding a terrorist organization that continues their “resistance” against Israel. The missiles have increased in number exponentially, the missiles have moved closer to the border, and have been used against Israeli population centers.

I say that Iran and Syria shouldn’t get away with their direct responsibility in the matter.

A person hiring a hit man, is a gangster, a thug, and demands to be punished.

So yes, I think Israel made a mistake. We miss the days when Israel was pro-active. I only hope those clever Zionists have something “tricky” up their Zionist sleeves, but I doubt it;)

“The second question(s) is: Do you think Israel’s policy of supporting a minority Alawi regime in Syria is misguided? Don’t you think Israel is better off negotiating a peace deal with a strong representative government in Damascus? Look at Egypt and Jordan. They signed on to peace and they delivered. It seems the Syrian track of peace negotiating is at a dead end as long as the minorities of the Alawis are in charge. Don’t you think?”


As much as you despise the Syrian regime, the Israelis do too. But the strange thing about a lot of Jews and Israelis is, (perhaps and IMHO) they always prefer the enemy they can predict. They understand the Arab world is patch-work of thugs, tyrants, sheiks, tribal leaders, murderers, and gangsters. They understand it is completely out of their power to clean up the Arab governments surrounding them. They have to deal with whoever is the kingpin of the day.

I don’t have to tell you who is running the Arab countries surrounding Israel today. It isn’t a pretty sight.

Now, if you want my opinion, regime change in Dr. Landis’ beloved Syria would be a great idea. If an Islamist government to be installed in Syria, it couldn’t be any worse than the Hezbo-funding Syrians and Iranians. Moreover, I have no problem with a democracy heavily influenced by religion. Jordan and Turkey are Muslim countries who do not export terror.

But to answer you question, Israel is in no position to conduct regime change in Syria. The best way to effect it, is only through the UN and other forms of political pressure.

FP said:

“Akbar, no hard feelings, but I don’t like your thoughts, your ideas, or what you advocate. Nevertheless, I think your opinions are valuable, add diversity, and I respect your intellect.”


March 22nd, 2007, 11:24 pm


EHSANI2 said:

My friend Akbar Palace:

“Jews and Israelis understand that THE Arab world is patch-work of thugs tyrants, sheiks, tribal leaders, murderers and gangsters”?

Not some, not a percentage, but THE whole Arab world?

You then proceed to say :

“I have no problem with a democracy heavily influenced by religion. Jordan and Turkey are Muslim countries who do not export terror.”

Do you know much about Turkey? Are you aware that without the heavy handed presence of its army backed by a strong and secular constitution the Turkey of today would look vastly different than the way you describe? As of Jordan, are you also aware of the internal implicit and explicit suppression of fundamentalist tendencies by the monarchy’s security apparatus?

You present yourself as an expert on the latest thinking of the State of Israel. It seems to me that you need to think through your answer to Gibran’s fine question one more time.

You seem to think that Syria’s leader is a thug, tyrant, murderer and a gangster (using your words above). Let me ask you gibran’s question in a slightly different way:

How would you feel if a group such as the Moslem Brotherhood were to take over in Syria?

Now, please try to answer this one more time.

March 23rd, 2007, 12:15 am


Gibran said:

I first thank Akbar for his answers, and I also wish he was a bit more discriminatory with respect to his outlook towards Arab regimes/countries as EHSANI suggested. I do take a favorable note, however, with Akbar’s statement “I would prefer peace and tranquility for everyone: Jew and Arab.”, as well as his singling out of Jordan and Turkey as two States that do not export terrorism which is a trademark of the current regime in Syria. I think from Akbar’s point of view the issue of exporting terrorism far outweighs internal political problems that certain countries may be suffering from. I must agree with his point of view. Internal problems are yours to deal with. Exporting terrorism is a venomous act that the exporting country unleashes to spread evil in its neighbors.

I see the point that EHSANI wants to raise by his attempt to rephrase the question: “How would you feel if a group such as the Moslem Brotherhood were to take over in Syria?”

However, I think the proper question is the one that I phrased (without prejudice): “Don’t you think Israel is better off negotiating a peace deal with a strong representative government in Damascus?”

The keyword here is representative government regardless of religious orientations, with the provision that it should respect Democratic norms as Akbar implied in his answer.

March 23rd, 2007, 1:46 am


Gibran said:

The article posted at:

has already been posted by Norman. But the accompanying picture shown in my link should not be missed by anyone. It is a ‘masterpiece’. Enjoy.

March 23rd, 2007, 2:36 am


norman said:

The Rusian left Iran ,Is that an indication that the US is planing an attack soon.

March 23rd, 2007, 2:41 am


Alex said:

Gibran, wait until Ausamaa wakes up in a couple of hours.


March 23rd, 2007, 2:56 am


habib said:

I think there have been genetic studies on Syrians. As I recall, native jews, palestinians, and syrians have the closest DNA relative to other asiatic peoples.

March 23rd, 2007, 3:09 am


Gibran said:

The following poll results shown in Annahar (today) clearly describes the current political mood in Lebanon:

The question is:

How should the ongoing crisis in Lebanon be solved?

The results are:

Compromise: no winner or loser 2635 Votes 33.05%
Victory for Hizbullah-led alliance 1173 Votes 14.71%
Victory for Saniora government and its supporters 4164 Votes 52.23%
Partitioning / Civil war No Votes
Total Votes 7,972

Alex, this is a sample of 7972 votes which is about 10 times the size of recent so-called ‘study’ of 800 votes conducted by Hezbollah member Mr. Abdo Saad that you presented in a previous post. Could you please “enlighten” us with your statistical insights/comments/inspirations …etc? You can also seek the help of AUSSAMAA when he wakes up if that makes you feel better. That will be a chorus of two to a chorus of one.

I, personally, have a problem with those who voted for the compromise no-winner/no-loser question. So I allowed myself the indulgence of assuming that we can divide these voters into the two camps that espouse clear winners based on the ratio of those who voted to the clear winner questions. So I came out with the following results:
2635(compromise votes)*1173(Hezb-led alliance votes)/5337(total Hezb and Seniora votes) = 580 votes
So, Total Pro Hezb-led alliance votes = 580 + 1173 = 1653 votes
And Total Seniora votes = 4164 + 2635 – 580 = 6219 votes
So Hezb percentage = 1653*100/7972 = 21%
And Seniora percentage = 79%

With the mood as it is based on these numbers, do you think, Alex, that Hezb will have enough people to camp in downtown Beirut until September?

As a final note, I am sorry, Alex, I couldn’t tabulate the results in a nice format as you did in your so-called ‘study ‘of Hezb member Mr. Abdo Saad.

March 23rd, 2007, 3:14 am


norman said:

Gibran, it looks that they asked Gaga, Junblat Harreri , Saniora and their families , no pooling in the Arab world worth mentioning.what do you think they are in Canada.

March 23rd, 2007, 3:23 am


K said:


Just like Saad-Ghorayeb’s surveys are suspect because of her Hizballa affiliation, so too are An-Nahar’s findings suspects, for its clear March 14 affiliation.

We need some independent research – but where?

March 23rd, 2007, 3:24 am


Gibran said:

Norma said: “Gibran, it looks that they asked Gaga, Junblat Harreri , Saniora and their families , no pooling in the Arab world worth mentioning.what do you think they are in Canada.”
Is this another way of you saying Jeha and the people of his house are enough to create a party? Did somebody ask you recently if you originate from Homs Norman?

Agree but the questions are straight forward and not loaded as those of Abdo Saad. Besides the results do agree with the latest showing of crowds in Beirut.

March 23rd, 2007, 3:31 am


Alex said:


since I do not have perfect information about the two polls, I will only give you general answers

1) Sample size: again, you can see from this table1, that a sample size of 800 was more than enough for a 5% precision for a very large population (like Lebanon’s)… if you wanted 2% precision, then a sample size of 1500 would have been needed … etc… the degree of improvement in precision is a diminishing returns type of (not linear) function of sample numbers in that range …check the last few raws in table1, or check this plot type.

2) I agree with K, even with your earlier statement when I posted the older poll … there is a certain degree of bias in every poll, from the wording of a question, to the way the question is posed…. let me give you a hypothetical, extreme-case example:

Imagine a poll, say in Homs (since you like that city), asking Homsi men only “do you support the right of women to have premarital sex” … now imagine the difference in the yes/no distributions if 1) a conservative looking man was asking the question, and 2) if a Hayfa Wehbe lookalike was asking the question.

So, there will always be some truth and some bias .. especially in polls conducted by local (biased) parties. Let’s see Zogby conduct a poll one day.

So, thank you for letting us know about he Annhar poll… useful to know, but no drama please.

March 23rd, 2007, 4:02 am


Syrian said:

Here is a collection of polls from Lebanon. I find the one about the Harriri assasination interesting.

March 23rd, 2007, 4:53 am


Gibran said:

I take it Alex that you are unhappy with the situation as it is unfolding. That’s expected from a Syrian regime apologist. You should prepare yourself for more drama from now on at least until September.

Your table, I assume deals only with unbiased sampling – a condition not satisfied by Abdo Saad and his sister Amal Saad-Ghorayeb.

I’d say despite its pro March 14 inclinations, Annahar is still considered an objective media outlet. So I’ll take it that my sample size of 8000 would be about 2% precise according to the last row in your table 1.
Even if we disregard Saad-Ghorayeb Hezb bias, your table will not give them more than 5% biased precision.

Sorry SYRIAN, your polls are way out of date. Nov. 2006 is no longer relevant after the black Thursday events of Feb. 2007. If you’ve been following earlier post on SC you would have found that out.

March 23rd, 2007, 5:00 am


Alex said:

OK Gibran,

We will continue to worry about every event from now until September … the whole horror show started when what’s his name (I keep forgetting) went to Cairo two weeks ago. You said the main plate will be served soon, and since then we, regime apologists, are all worried.

Syrian, aren’t you worried?

March 23rd, 2007, 5:54 am


Alex said:

DAMASCUS-(SANA)-President Bashar al-Assad on Wednesday said that Syria is a pivotal part of the region’s issues; Palestine, the situation in Lebanon, Iraq, terrorism and any other issue.

“We are a basic part of the solution; it was not possible to isolate Syria. I think what has changed is not Syria’s stance… our stances are firm… What has been changed is the others’ understanding to the importance of Syria,” President Assad told France TV 2 and 5 in an interview with French Journalist Thierry Thuillier.

“I believe that what is happening now of the return of the European envoys to Syria is the normal thing,” the President said.

On Syria’s ties with France, President Assad added that relations among different institutions were not affected by the political ties.

“Impacts were on the political level because we can’t separate the relation of presidents from the Foreign Ministry, and the political field… but presidents of states are responsible for the foreign policy, so we can put it in the frame of relation between presidents.. Not between the two countries,” President al-Assad said.

He added “Europe and France are almost absent in the political arena, and this is not good for us, we are not satisfied with this situation, but this is temporal and couldn’t last forever.”

On French President Jacques Chirac accusation of Syria regarding Hariri assassination, President al-Assad underlined ” it is not possible for a person in the level of president to accuse anyone without evidences… whom he wants to accuse Syria, whether he is President Chirac or any other person, he should give evidence… relations among countries should be built on realities and interests not on personal emotions.”

Regarding ways of returning ties between Syria and France to normal, President al-Assad said that it is necessary to put clear bases for these relations, first, respect of each country to the other, second it is not possible to build the relation with Syria through a third side. The relation with France is historic and relations should be direct through direct interests.

Concerning Syria’s work paper on Lebanon in the Arab forthcoming Summit of Riyadh, the President stressed “I think the most important proposal for any political standoff in any country is to return to the constitution. There are two constitutional proposals in Lebanon, the early elections or the national unity government, and I think that either solution is true and normal as far as the constitution is there.”

“Any solution in Lebanon that won’t take into consideration the Lebanese consensus means instability in Lebanon, we should find the common factors which realize consensus, at that time, we can play a role, not pressure, I don’t like the word pressures, I’d like dialogue… as we did with the Palestinians, we held dialogue without any pressures,” President al-Assad noted.

Regarding the international tribunal, the President underlined that it is part of the Lebanese consensus and the national unity government, “there is no difference on the court as a principle… the difference is on the proposed draft and the law it will be based on.”

“From the beginning, we backed international efforts regarding this subject… investigation committees and the tribunal… but, the court has no relation to Syria… the court is an agreement between the UN ,or Security Council, and the Lebanese government… it needs a modification in items by the Lebanese constitution. We support the tribunal if it helps reach positive outcomes concerning investigation and if it is professional and not politicized,” President al-Assad went on.

On the President’s response if the court referred to any Syrian relation to Hariri assassination, he said “this needs evidence… I previously said that any person who might be involved in this matter is considered a traitor on the national level and within the Syria law… he will be tried under the Syrian law and will be punished. But we will not abandon our sovereignty in this subject.”

On UN report about weapon smuggling to Lebanon particularly to Hizbullah, President al-Assad said that “this accusation is rejected, saying that the European intelligence is existed in Lebanon with their Lebanese allies, so where are the evidences?”

The president added that ” Hizbullah announced, before and after war, that it has big capabilities and it is not necessary for them have arms ….what happens is running away from the basic problem…they have to work towards the solution of peace in the Middle East before they talk about missile or thousands of missiles by any side or organization in our region”.

Answering a question on deployment of any UN forces along the Syrian-Lebanese borders, the President indicated that “we announced that we reject any deployment of international forces because this means “war announcement” .We agreed on technical cooperation with sides in this regard, many of the European states proposed this issue which is monitoring the Syrian –Lebanese borders.

On the deployment of UN forces in South Lebanon, President al-Assad added” our stance is declared….before the war and before 1701 resolution we stressed the necessity to boost UNIFIL forces in South Lebanon and the truth is that US intended to decrease these forces, so we agreed on 1701 resolution, regardless of the non- objective and non-positive items in this resolution.” For us boosting UNIFIL within the current UN forces authority is something right and positive.” President Assad added.

Regarding Syria’s participation in Baghdad Summit and Syria’ role to stop civil war there, the President said ” any solution must be Iraqi one and our role is to help the Iraqis, and what we are doing is to start dialogue with all parties whether they are supporting the political process or opposing it, aiming at finding the common grounds in this regard.”

President al-Assad added that Syria’ viewpoint is that after reaching these common bases, there must be an Iraqi national conference and not international one …..a national conference with international and regional support to help the Iraqis create a dialogue.

On accusing Syria of allowing terrorists to infiltrate through its borders into Iraq, President Bashar al-Assad replied “US Administration always blames its failure on others and doesn’t admit its failure …..The problem in Iraq is political and their political failure in Iraq led to this chaos.” In regard to Syria’s role to control borders the President added that this thing must be done by the two sides and not by one side.

Regarding the repercussions of the US incorrect policy in Iraq and the region, President al- Assad said that any chaos in a country will affect the other, and may be the whole Middle East due to the similarity of social nature in our region, and its not in our interest that there is disorder along the borders because we will pay the price in a day in the same way .US and Britain are fully responsible of this confusion in the whole region.”

On the Syrian –Iranian relations, President Assad said that Iran is an important country in the Middle East and Syria’ relations with Iran or the rest of region’s states are very important for security in the region, so we have to establish good relations with Iran as a part of work for security, adding that Iran has right to posses nuclear weapon for peaceful purposes in line with the international law and this is also a right for all countries in the world.

The President underlined that ” we presented a draft law to UN Security Council in 2003 on freeing the Middle East from all weapons of mass destruction and we are asking for justice in this regard because Israel possesses nuclear weapons so this issue must be implemented on everybody not selectively towards a state without the other.

Answering a question on if there are secret negotiations between Syria and Israel, President al- Assad stressed ” no …we fully reject the principle of secret negotiations …we don’t hide anything …..If we are talking publicly about peace so why we hide peace from the people…if people support peace process why we hide it.” peace process needs a popular support …at the end when you want to sign the agreement so it should be in public and if there is no popular support for the details of the negotiations so there will not be a popular backing to the agreement, so, you will not reach any positive result or you cannot sign the agreement, so this principle is fully rejected.

On Syria’s readiness to establish peace with Israel, President al-Assad said.. Sure “this is a firm principle to Syria and we do not change it …it is a matter of right …..We have a right in the whole land and all occupied territories must be restored and any other details are possible to be negotiated but not the land, because it is a Syrian land.

March 23rd, 2007, 6:23 am


3antar said:

naaa… i dont think it matters much if the questions of the poll are loaded or not when the source is suspect. Regardless of who is conducting it. If one can establish a biasness in the source, that leave the entire poll insignificant in my view.
i cant summon interest in any findings whatsoever. sorry lads.
Then again, everyone is entitled for a bias opinion. So indulge yourselves as you wish. but dont expect any findings to be relevant. as K said :
“We need some independent research”. that leave little room for neither al-nahar or Abdo Saad to signify anything but inaccuracy and suspicion.

March 23rd, 2007, 8:59 am


3antar said:

“I would prefer peace and tranquility for everyone: Jew and Arab” (rhetorical)

those same arabs you proceed to describe as “thugs, tyrants, sheiks, tribal leaders, murderers, and gangsters”

why should you want peace to those people? you cant keep the mask on for too long, can you.

“But the strange thing about a lot of Jews and Israelis is, (perhaps and IMHO) they always prefer the enemy they can predict. They understand the Arab world is patch-work of thugs, tyrants, sheiks, tribal leaders, murderers, and gangsters.”

firstly, why is that strange? because they associate their governments with the population. but we’ll come to that later.
also because early israelis have faced resistance right from the outset of the creation of the state. and why is that?
do you think that setting up a country on a land completely foreign to the influx of european and american “jews” is gonna be greeted with open arms or given a blind eye? and based on whatever your answer is, do you think arabs should react and behave normally to the state of israel? hmmm why, because the word “passive” has had a new meaning all of a sudden? perhaps they should have rolled a red carpet for the first arrivals.
surely that wasn’t expected. but i bet you did. aaaaanyway….

secondly, you prefer the enemy you can predict. this is a dangerous statement. it implies that you’re indifferent about supporting whatever kind of gvts out there as long as your safety is guaranteed. survival instinct. fair enough.
you come to realize that the arabs can not have a representative american puppet gvt. Its too much of a paradox. So its best to support oppressive regimes.
hence, examples given here are Jordan, Turkey, even perhaps Egypt.

So democracy is conditional. Which explains US foreign policy around the globe (south america)

but its a catch 22 frankly.
As even those so called friendly oppressive “islamic” regimes (KSA e.g. Bin Laden) seem to export terrorism.
Non friendly oppressive secular (Syria) gvt. export terrorism.
And finally, elected “Religious” gvt. (Hamas) export terrorism.

Gibran asked :”Don’t you think Israel is better off negotiating a peace deal with a strong representative government in Damascus?” is it possible that there is yet another paradox in that question? representative, ok. how can you guarantee it will be strong?
strong, ok, how can you guarantee it being representative. Is Israel willing to take such risk? even through the UN? no chance, since the Allawi’s can guarantee peace as long as they are guaranteed the rule, and oppress their local population. unless an unforeseen coup or even revolt takes place. Which i am sure, will be greeted with the utmost suspicion from the international community and the usual suspects. Will new representative gvt stand in line? will they defy US initiatives? Representation and democracy aren’t the issue here for non-Syrian. they are merely a bonus. Being a syrian, my priorities are inversly proportional.
Im more concerned with this representation, democracy and the freedom of “Syrians”. security and well being of my neighbors is secondary. thats where we differ.
Yet hat doesn’t give me or Syrians the right to consider non-Syrians as “thugs, tyrants, sheiks, tribal leaders, murderers, and gangsters”
because thats called racism and prejudice. right?

March 23rd, 2007, 10:58 am


ausamaa said:

Can we stop for a moment and consider wether the repeated one-track input by GEIBRAN are really contributing to our knowledge, exploration and understanding of the issues relating to Syria at this juncture? Is it not a waste of time to go through such repetitions once and again.

Further and on the other hand, the only “benefit” achieved by such an activity is the further polarization of some Syrian opinions against Lebanon as a whole. We could be falling into the trap of unintentionally of subconsciously treating GIBRAN-like arguments as “representative” of the thinking of ALL Lebanese(and it sure isn’t), and then having to respond to it in a manner that creats or deepense a rift between the two people. If not, such comments are distracting us from other more imoportant things.

Apart from what is happening now, one should also really give serious considerations to how Syrian-Lebanese relations would develope in the future. At the street level, that is, not at the political level. An anti-Lebanon sentiment in Syria could really break up the fractured Lebanese society. And Syria is the social and economic gateway of Lebanon after all. Pull down that wooden stick at the boarder, and Lebanon would suffocate. In the end, Syria can be scary yo Lebanon, while Lebanon can prove to be no more than a noisance to Syria. In all terms that is; political, economic, and existentional. I know the Syrian people will in the end prove to be more forgiving and understanding in dealing with this situation than have some Lebanese politicians (as evidenced by the hypocracy and false mucho they have displayed during the past three years), but those politicians do not have as much to lose as the the people themselves.

What do we seek here? Provocation or Understanding? If such an “understanding” is forced down Syria’s throat in a manner we preceive to be vulgar, opportunistic and vindictive, then we might well decide that we do not want it vehemently and oppose it as happened the Bush master plan. And that was Bush not Junblat or Gaga or Siniora! And if Provacation is the aim, then who in his right mind wants to have certain Lebanese quarters preceived as a “provocation” by the Syrian people? And so far, the Syrian people have been patient, really understanding and patient. But for how long? Hariri or no Harriri. Siyadaa we Esti’elal or not. Bush and Chirac or not. The game would come to an end sooner or later. And given that geography is not going to end, how do we want to see each other then? In Arabic we say, what will happen once the haze is lifted…لما تروح السكرة و تيجي الفكرة؟؟؟

March 23rd, 2007, 12:34 pm


norman said:

gibran , apparently sombody like you should be in a mental hospital ,i do not want to underminde your intelegence but i am worry that you will sit in the corner crying or kill yourself, apparently you escaped the nuthouse called Lebanon.

March 23rd, 2007, 12:50 pm


Gibran said:

You have written so much and said very little. I’ll write very little in response to your nonsense since it is not worth the effort: Really!!! You must be halucianting as usual.
I bet you and Alex must have loved the picture. It is a ‘perfect piece of art’. Don’t you think?
After reading your nonsense, I immediately went back and had a look at him as a means to flush you out. It worked!!! It is true what they say. A picture is worth a thousand word but it would be 10000 of AUSSAMAA-like words.
please use your spell checker you’re incomprehensible man. So that’s how you ended up in the US. No more nuthouses left in Homs, you got shipped out for treatrment.

March 23rd, 2007, 2:04 pm


syrian said:

Alex ,

I have no finger nails left! All this waiting really sucks.

P.S. I love the SANA quote. It is as clear and perceptive as all those other articles we see from the other side. One difference though, SANA seems to put a disturbing amount of emphasis on what the president actually says and not enough speculation of what that can possibly mean. For example, Brammertz wrote that the two tracks were not necessarily linked and our friend Mr. Young determined that the statement was not enough. It really means they are closely linked why else would the man mention them so close together? As you can see from comments after this, you can draw meaning and conclusions from a picture if you have the will and need to do so.

March 23rd, 2007, 2:10 pm


ausamaa said:

Gibran, spell checker up yours ! I am not posting my graduation thesis here to really worry about that. And English is my second language only, so is your English or your Frensh. If you do not understand what I write, skip over it.
ما شاء الله عليكم! على اساس انكم بتفهموا عالطايرة

March 23rd, 2007, 2:21 pm


Gibran said:

Take it easy AUSSAMAA and read carefully. The spell checker was meant for Norman and not you. Of course I understood your gibberish and that’s why I immediately took a peek at the picture.

March 23rd, 2007, 2:25 pm


ausamaa said:

I know f.. w.. what you posted and to whome, and of course you do understand my gibbrish and I very much understand yours, that is why I am telling you to ease off and give it a rest. Read my above post about Syrian Lebanese relations and give it just 5 minutes before you hit the key board. I am practically doing you a service.

March 23rd, 2007, 2:29 pm


Gibran said:

Somehow you think AUSSAMAA that what you write is so valuable and that you’re not given enough dose of attention from others. But you know who keeps asking for attention? You should be able to catch it on the fly (sorry this is as much as I can convey Arabic catch words). It is the kids, in case it fell on the ground before you were able to catch it. Don’t you wish for SC chorus to come to your aid right now? Where are they when we need them?

March 23rd, 2007, 2:37 pm


syrian said:

Its amazing how many agents and apologists the Syrian regime has around the world. Here is the latest from Saul Landau. Sorry about the size but you know how long winded those Syrian agents can be.

Return to Syria



Syrian Airlines flies from several European capitals to Damascus, but Americans can’t book seats from the United States, thanks to the 2003 Syrian Accountability Act, which an obedient (to the Israeli lobby) Congress passed and an eager Bush signed and renewed every year since 2004. The act outlawed commerce between the two countries, stopping just short of breaking diplomatic relations. Washington recalled its Ambassador and marginalized Syria’s capable emissary in the U.S. capital. U.S. officials make unfounded accusations that Damascus regime helps supply Iraqi insurgents and aids and abets terrorism. In addition, they denounce Syria for “interference in Lebanese affairs.”

How ironic, said Dr. Bouthaina Sha’aban, Minister of Expatriates. Syria provided U.S. authorities with intelligence to help stop a 2003 attack on U.S. ships in the Persian Gulf. Syrian security forces also obliged U.S. Homeland Security, although Sha’aban did not refer to this, by accepting a Canadian citizen of Syrian birth and torturing him at U.S. behest. Maher Arar endured almost a year of Syrian “interrogation,” before Canada concluded that they never had evidence of his linkage to terrorists. Canada has since apologized and paid Arar compensation for their role in his suffering. Arar remains on the U.S. no-fly list. Homeland Security refuses to give reasons for his exclusion. Syria also “interrogated” other victims at the behest of U.S. authorities.”

Syrian President Bashar Assad discovered painfully that Washington allows no good deed to go unpunished. Until late February, Washington had even ruled out discussion with Damascus, stopping just short of including it as part of the axis of evil. A former U.S. diplomat who served in the Middle East until recently said at a Damascus dinner: “U.S. policy toward Syria makes no sense. Nothing Syria does is enough. The neo cons who run Middle East policy want Assad’s government to beg for forgiveness, even though they didn’t do anything wrong. Then Syria has to bow to U.S. political and economic changes –democracy and privatization. After they do this,” he concluded, “maybe Washington we’ll deal with them. Surprising Syria rejected such terms? Who wouldn’t?”

I had spoken previously to this former official while preparing to film in Syria in 2003. Now, he laughs at Bush’s 180 degree turn. U.S. officials met with Syrians in the second week of March –and with Iranians as well –to try to resolve the Iraq crisis. A businessman close to Syria’s President said: “I’m not sure we want the Americans to leave so quickly. I know that is surprising, but U.S. intervention has splintered Iraq into several resistance movements. Each one delights in killing Americans as well as its Iraqi rivals. But we can try to impose some sanity on groups we have known over time and together with other countries in the region this can mean a lessening of violence. On the other hand, U.S. presence in Iraq provokes violence.” The source, a wealthy businessman, concluded. “What Bush has done in Iraq is unforgivable.”

Apparently, the daily Iraqi carnage and Bush’s dropping poll ratings (29% on March 8) has finally begun to reverberate somewhere in the White House. Syrians know from their media’s graphic presentations about dead Iraqi and Palestinian children, victims of a suicide bombing or U.S. air strike; or daily Israeli repression.

On March 5, I watched a CNN Middle East anchor alert viewers to stay tuned for the excitement to come, live action gore from the Middle East. Following a March 5 news report from Baghdad loaded with bombing victims and a war photos special, Nic Robertson lightened the venue by taking CNN viewers on a sports trip. “Inside the Middle East,” the producers called footage of an Englishman who converted to Islam, moved to Saudi Arabia and opened a lucrative sports tourism business: deep sea diving, with 14 Germans examining the coral reefs. Another “feature” promoted buggy riding in the desert and aeronautic sports in that kingdom as well.

CNN doesn’t want to bum out its viewers on war images, so the network offers deep sea diving experiences, the vicarious thrills of watching cars bounce off sand lumps, virtual flying in small planes at low altitudes (by staying tuned), and finally the next best thing to wind sailing, watching wind sailing on TV.

Watching CNN for 30 minutes inspired me to turn off the set and see Syria. Unfortunately, TV followed me into one of Damascus’ tourist restaurants. I met no U.S. or English tourists. Iraqi tourist guides confirmed that the majority of the visitors were Europeans or Iranians. In Palmyra, the site of an ancient civilization in eastern Syria, I spoke to three middle aged Madrid women who extolled the “fabulous ruins and exceptionally good food at extremely reasonable prices.” We agreed also that modern architects could learn lessons in design and simplicity from those who crafted the pre-Christ Palmyra edifices

Under the vast old civilization’s pillars and arches, preserved in the desert sand and dug out in the 19th and 20th Centuries, these remnants of cities induce humility. How much our ancestors knew about architecture, aesthetics and city planning. Viewing the vast ruins with the desert mountains as a backdrop, I felt a sense of awe at the age of this civilization. One woman from Madrid commented: “How horrible for Syrians to watch the disintegration of Iraq, a neighbor and also a once powerful country with a proud people. You didn’t vote for Bush, did you?”

Her Spanish speaking Syrian guide agreed. “Your Bush is a monster.” He described the influx of Iraqi refugees. “They have changed Syrian life. The price to buy a house or even rent an apartment has jumped up, because the Iraqis who Syria welcomes have money.” A few days later, a Syrian businessman shook his head sadly. “Most of the Iraqis who came here,” he confided, “have Syrian family. We don’t act like Americans and let our cousins be homeless, especially if they have money,” he laughed.

According to Dr. Sha’aban, in four years Syria has taken in 1.2 million Iraqi refugees. Jordan, Egypt and Iran have received more than 2 million more. “Bush has created a terrible crisis in the region,” said Sha’aban. “Your media doesn’t show you how bad it is, how your soldiers rape Iraqi women, torture Iraqis, murder them in cold blood. Nor do you see how the Israelis recently [early March] destroyed 250 homes in Nablus. That adds up to 2,000 refugees. We watch the Israelis do their acts of cruelty every night on TV. The policy is humiliation in the occupied territories, which is what the United States is attempting to do in Iraq.” More than one and a half million Palestinians live in Syria (almost 1/10 of the Syrian population). Half a million of them are classified as refugees. “Israel is humiliating the Palestinians as the United States is humiliating Iraqis.

“Imagine,” Sha’aban said, “one of eight Iraqis, more than 4 million, have left their country, and we know there is a move to partition the country, which would destabilize its neighbors as well. Do Americans know what their policy is doing? Do the American people want more enemies in the Middle East and elsewhere? I think Americans are kind, considerate and good,” she concluded, explaining she has done several lecture tours in the United States. She speaks “as a humanist” who despises anti-Semitism and insists that criticism of Israel should not get confused with anti-Semitism.

I found the opposite discourse in a gift shop attached to the Palmyra ruins. Amidst post cards and photo books made for tourists, I saw Volumes I and II of “The Jewish Roots in History,” by Dr. Hassan Hiddeh. For only $10, one can read: “The terrorism is the best methods for the Jewish to occupy the earth of the others, and they practice the terrorism during the war and peace, because this is Torah legislations which insists to commit massacres, then the inhabitants would immigrate before the Massacre, therefore the earth will be empty.” (p. 43, Vol 1, “translated by Eng. Noureddin Hamid”). Were it not for the laughable syntax, the tracts could have been written by Hitler’s propaganda machine. Yet, a government sanctioned gift shop sells such books, a statement of hatred that has become a defining attitude in a Middle East out of control.

“Who invited you to invade Iraq?” asked a man who sold shawls to the tourists. “Did Iraqi people sending letter to Bush asking him to bomb and have troops occupy? It make Syrians worried. This means democracy?”

A Syrian tourist driver also admitted he felt vulnerable. On the outskirts of Damascus, I observed the new housing under construction. I asked him if some of these new apartments would go to Iraqis. He snorted. “They are too rich for those apartments. We Syrians are poor. We want to go to America like our cousins. It is too bad you have such a government that makes war and makes all people hate it.”

* * *

The bus ride from Damascus north takes us –a rare group of American visitors — to Sednaya, thirty miles north and the site of All Convent of Our Lady, Greek Orthodox Church. Mother Superior told us the Virgin Mary had visited this spot, disguised as a deer. The elderly woman with a twinkle in her eye prayed for George Bush to bring peace. Three years earlier she had told me she prayed for Bush to get a brain. The tour guide did not take us to nor mention Sednaya prison, which houses political prisoners, some of whom belong to the Muslim Brotherhood.

In 1981, Brotherhood members assassinated Egyptian President Anwar Sadat. Gamal Abdul Nasser, Sadat’s predecessor, had imprisoned and tortured MB members, including Sayyid Qutb, a scholar who said violence would cleanse souls and overthrow secular states –like the one in Syria. Sayyid’s brother Muhammad, an Egyptian professor, reportedly influenced Osama bin Laden.

In 2005, despite electoral fraud, Brotherhood candidates won 20% of the vote and became President Hosni Mubarak’s most significant Parliamentary opposition. In 1979, MB violence hit Syria. MB attackers killed eighty-three cadets at an Aleppo military school, near the Turkish border. In 1980, “the fanatics” as their opponents refer to the Brotherhood, murdered hundreds in Damascus car bombings.

President Hafiz Assad declared membership in the Brotherhood punishable by death. The MB retaliated by trying to assassinate Assad in 1980. Within hours, state security forces killed hundreds of imprisoned “fanatics.”

Rather than ending the conflict, Assad’s bloody response led to increased violence. In February 1982, Brotherhood organizers took over the city of Hama, calling it the “liberated city.” They issued a call: all Muslims in Syria should unite to overthrow the “infidel” (Assad). MB militants killed Ba’ath Party members and loyalists throughout Hama.

Assad demanded MB surrender. He warned Hama residents to leave or else consider themselves targets. Its leaders refused. Asasad’s elite brigades attacked and were repelled. Assad then ordered artillery fire on the Brotherhood held city of 350,000. Tanks and troops moved in. Air force jets bombed and killed as many as 10,000 in the two week battle (Robert Fisk, Pity the Nation, page 186).

Human rights organizations condemned Assad. “He did what he had to do,” a conservative Damascus business man told me in early March. “How do you deal with fanatics? Bush and his polices have made more of them,” he lamented.

“The number of fanatics in Syria,” according to a third world diplomat in Damascus, who served for decades in the Arab world, “has multiplied, although they don’t represent an immediate threat as they did under the first Assad. By attacking Iraq and threatening Syria, the most anti-terrorist of regimes, Bush has created enemies everywhere. `Fanatics’ hate the infidel crusader in the 21st Century and secularists despise him because his hypocrisy had led to the proliferation of religious fundamentalism in the Muslim world and aggressive Zionism in Israel and the United States.”

The Muslim Brotherhood confounds secular governments trying to modernize and liberalize. So, they jail and torture them. During the 10th Ba’ath Party Conference in June 2005, delegates agreed to allow for new non-sectarian political parties, a direct affront to the sectarian Brotherhood. But Party leaders apparently lacked confidence to declare an amnesty law that might have helped bring reconciliation. The number of MB members has reportedly grown, and the regime sees them as a threat. Ali Bayanouni, exiled in London, formed the Syrian National Salvation Front with former Syrian Vice President Abdel Halim Khaddam. They intend their political grouping to force regime change in Damascus. They will open an office in Washington DC as well.

Try to imagine religious rule in this ethnically and religiously diverse country where Sunnis (the majority) and Shi’ites, with sects like Alawites (like President Bashar Assad) and several Christian religions –and a handful of Jews!

“The Baathists’ secularism has helped make Syria one of the more stable regimes in the region, my diplomatic acquaintance assured me. “Look at the corrupt Gulf States and Egypt, the pitiful US puppets in Iraq and Afghanistan. Even Israel, of course stable, has a government of clowning and corruption.” He referred to the February fiasco of Defense Minister Amir Peretz gazing through binoculars covered by lens caps and “seeing clearly.” “On the morning of Israel’s 2006 invasion of Lebanon, Israeli Defense Force Chief Lt. General Dan Halutz sold his stock portfolio. Two aging ministers groped the asses of young women in their offices.”

Such droll thoughts vanished when our tour bus stopped in Hama where tourists stared at ancient water wheels ­17 of them. Kids with parents supervising ran around a nearby park. Two women wearing abayas and hijabs, one with a baby in her arms, begged from tourists and locals. The slowly spinning wheels, replicas of those originally built 2000 years ago, lift river water onto aqueducts, which irrigates agricultural lands in the area. The wheels of up to 60 feet roll with the river current.

In 2007, Hama’s ancient history had eroded visible signs of the 1982 carnage. I noticed no signs or remnants of the 1982 battle carnage as the bus curled through quiet streets. Syrians have witnessed bloodshed for thousands of years. Canaanites, Phoenicians, and Arameans occupied the land. Hebrews settled near Damascus, an area later called Palestine. The Phoenicians occupied coastal areas along with Egyptians, Sumerians, Assyrians, Babylonians, and Hittites. The Persian Empire grabbed Syria followed by Alexander the Great, succeeded in turn by Roman and Byzantine empires.

To emphasize the living antiquity in the country, the tour guide brought our group to Maloula, a village north of Damascus, where, residents still speak Aramaic –Jesus’ and Mel Gibson’s language.

Father Toufic greeted us. I had met this Lebanese-born, Greek Catholic priest when I first filmed in Syria in 2003. After reciting the Lord’s prayer in Aramaic in the cold, stone church, he unleashed his wrath on Israeli and US injustice toward Palestinians. Syria, he noted, has been exemplary in its treatment of Palestinians. An estimated 1.5 million (about 1/10 of the population) live in its territory and have been successfully integrated.

“Syria is the only country that has integrated us,” Omar told me, offering a cheese filled goodie from his bakery. “Palestinian,” he assures me about the pie like yummy. “I came here as a child in 1948. I don’t remember Palestine, but I dream of it. We have relatives in Ramallah, but Syrians treat me like a Syrian, I have rights of a Syrian. My kids went to school with Syrian kids and are treated as equals.” He lives in an urban refugee zone, which looks like an ordinary Damascus neighborhood, apartment buildings, stores and lots of street life –with a mosque nearby, but inhabited by Palestinians and their offspring.

Syrians I spoke with, from Damascus hotel bellhops to a small farmer near Palmyra, agreed that Palestinians deserve to live in Syria as equals. The tolerant attitude extends to religion. The fervor men and women showed in prayer at the Omayed mosque doesn’t mean they are fundamentalist –“fanatic” as the businessman calls them. Those with covered hair and dressed in robes stand in stark contrast to teenagers in nearby streets wearing tight jeans and low cut blouses. To mix both into one society, plus Christians and Jews, Syria needs a secular government. Most Muslims appear to agree, no matter how fervently they pray in the mosque.

President Bashar Assad inherited the government from his father Hafiz al Assad, who ruled from 1970 until his death from cancer in 2000. Bashar, the unlikely successor studied ophthalmology in London and became the heir apparent only after his brother Basil died in an auto accident in 1994.

Syria, like neighboring Iraq under Saddam Hussein, maintained secular government in which minority Christians and non believers could function. Ba’ath Party founders in both countries emphasized Arab nationalism and state directed economic development. Immense and corrupt state bureaucracy, however, stands as an obstacle to progress. Corruption, according to my diplomat friend, begins with “bribing the traffic cop not to give you a ticket all the way to top levels where the bite is much more painful. The bureaucracy lives economically off the status quo and fights reform.”

My businessman friend and a Syrian diplomat agree. They want “progress”: WTO membership and privatization of state owned properties. They don’t mean dismantling health and education services, not free but accessible to most Syrians.

They argue that Syria must take advantage of its rich agriculture and two year grain reserve. It exports wheat, cotton, fruits, vegetables, meat and of course olive oil.

On the road, we waved to shepherds driving their sheep. Bedouins in colorful head scarves and toting long, flexible sticks steered their flock away from oncoming traffic. Near Palmyra, the sheep nibbled scant blades of grass still pushing their way through the ground. The rainy season ended in March and the shepherds will move their flock to greener pastures. Their ancestors did this for centuries before modern state borders imposed limits on pasture possibilities.

Bedouins represent Syrian past and the present, as do ancient ruins, churches and Aramaic speaking villages. Massive Damascus traffic jams force the present into the picture, sucking noxious emissions and witnessing the bustle of modern commerce.

The Christian Quarter is in the Old City, perhaps the oldest continuously inhabited urban area in the world. Bab Touma, St Paul’s Gate, and the Chapel of St. Paul, mark the spot where Paul was lowered in a basket after his conversion to Christianity. Nearby, Moshe runs an antique store. A Jew whose family moved to Brooklyn in the 1970s, returned to his native Syria. “Life is calmer here,” he said. “Too much stress in New York.”

In the Cham Palace Hotel room I stared at the city and listened to the honking horns. I too felt calmer than I do in New York. But I was born there.

March 23rd, 2007, 2:46 pm


syrian said:


I would recommend leaving Gibran alone. We are no match to his uncanny abilities to debunk all of the arguments we can put forth. He has, throughtout the last few months that he’s been hanging out here, proven that we are no match to him. Everytime I read one of those incisive comments he leaves it sends shivers down my spine because the truth becomes so much clearer.

March 23rd, 2007, 3:00 pm


norman said:

Gibran , Grow up please, Lebanon can not take it for a long time.

March 23rd, 2007, 3:00 pm


Ford Prefect said:

Ausamaa and Norman,
About 17 years ago when I lived in Louisiana teaching at LSU, my next door neighbor (an annoying humanoid that looked worse than his dog) had a habit of chaining his dog to his front porch before he went to work everyday. Due to the extreme heat in Louisiana, the god barked, almost continuously, with the same never-changing pitch, all day until my neighbor returned home. The dog barked at anything moving, anything not moving, and anything in-between.

I spoke to my neighbor many times, I remember, explaining to him that my teaching schedule did not match his work hours and that while his dog is much better looking than him, nevertheless, his barking was equally as annoying. No relief – the dog barked and the owner remained true to his ugliness.

One morning, I walked over to the dog, played with him a little, unchained him, and wished him good luck in his journey to find a true loving home. The next morning, the neighborhood was full of signs about a missing little cute dog. I never had a barking dog problem thereafter.

March 23rd, 2007, 3:12 pm


Ford Prefect said:

Yes, you are making an excellent point. Let’s unchain that barking dog and send him somewhere where he can find some true love.

March 23rd, 2007, 3:14 pm


Gibran said:

There is only one barking dog around here that needs chaining and that’s you FORD PREFECT.

March 23rd, 2007, 3:16 pm


3antar said:

i see, so instead of getting a bigger dog to KICK the SHIT out of that dog and its owner, you cunningly resolved the matter undetected.
i like where you’re going.

March 23rd, 2007, 3:17 pm


Ford Prefect said:

3antar, yes, work smarter not harder. 😉

March 23rd, 2007, 3:31 pm


ausamaa said:


Did you really do that!!! To the Loweezeyana dog?

March 23rd, 2007, 3:48 pm


Ford Prefect said:

Sure deeed yall.

March 23rd, 2007, 4:04 pm


ausamaa said:

Great, you take of youself naw

March 23rd, 2007, 4:07 pm


Alex said:

The Syrian-Arab rift
By Zvi Bar’el

A satirical collage (right) that appears on the Web site of the Syrian opposition depicts the happy “family”: The father, wearing an olive-green T-shirt and gazing off into the horizon, is Mahmoud Ahmedinejad; the mother, with long hair and a weary face (and a mustache), is President Bashar Assad; and in front of them are their two “daughters” – retired general Michel Aoun, who heads the pro-Syrian Christian party in Lebanon, and Lebanese President Emile Lahoud, both depicted as puppets.

The image of this “family” isn’t the product only of the creative mind of the Syrian opposition or of Lebanese opponents of Syria. Syria has done its own part to earn this image, to the point that it has become a pan-Arab one and a diplomatic problem: The Iranian-Syrian connection, which never used to disturb the Arab states very much, has in the last year given birth to the Syrian-Arab rift. A spate of articles published in recent months in the Arab press concerning Syria and Iran are indicative not only of some common public stance, but primarily of governmental orchestration. This seems to be the case in Egypt, Jordan and especially Saudi Arabia, whose king has not spoken with the Syrian leader since last summer, when Bashar Assad called the leaders of the Arab states “half men” for not aiding Hezbollah against Israel.

Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak isn’t speaking to Assad either. Last week, when Farouk Shara, Assad’s vice-president, visited Cairo, Mubarak refused to discuss the possibility of Egyptian mediation to help thaw relations with Saudi Arabia. Mubarak presented – dictated, practically – to Shara the conditions under which Egypt would agree to act: Syrian consent to bringing the matter of the assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri before the International Court, and positive Syrian intervention to resolve the political crisis in Lebanon, a crisis that has paralyzed the government there for over a year.

Syria’s attempts to reconcile with Saudi Arabia haven’t been very successful, either. Leaks from Syria, published in the Arab press, say, for example, that Assad relayed a message to Saudi Arabia saying that Syrian intelligence officials were aware of attempts by radical subversives in Lebanon to assassinate the Saudi ambassador, Abdel Rahman Khoja. At the same time, Syria spread the message in Saudi Arabia that it was the one that made it clear to Khaled Meshal of Hamas that failure at the Mecca conference was not an option. After the Mecca agreement was signed, Syrian representatives talked about how, had it not been for Assad, the agreement would not have been signed.

Saudi Arabia, however, does not appear to be too impressed by these messages either. As Saudi Arabia sees it, Syria should return to the Arab embrace and cease representing Iran’s interests; in particular, it should allow Lebanon to function, and give its consent to the hearing in the International Court. On this matter, incidentally, Syria’s position is no different from Iran’s. Syria sees now that even its participation in the Baghdad conference two weeks ago, at that moment of grace when it spoke directly with the United States, did not bring about an improvement in its status, and that the visit to Damascus last Tuesday by Javier Solana, the European Union’s foreign policy chief, did nothing to soften hearts in Cairo or Riyadh. The reason: It is Lebanon, and not Washington or Israel, that is currently responsible for Syria’s image as a pariah state. So much so that, in an extraordinary move, Saudi Arabia invited Lebanese Prime Minister Fouad Siniora to participate in the March 28-29 Arab League summit in Riyadh, which was supposed to be limited to presidents and kings.

Granted, Siniora was also in attendance at the previous summit, in Khartoum, a year ago, alongside President Emile Lahoud, but that was an unplanned, uninvited appearance. This time, however, Saudi Arabia wished to make clear to the president of Lebanon and, through him, to Syria, that it considers Siniora the true leader of Lebanon, and above all, that at this summit, the Lebanese issue can no longer be kept under Syria’s protective wing.

Moderate doesn’t mean liberal

U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice will hear about a tough axis on Saturday in the Egyptian city of Aswan, when she meets with four Arab foreign ministers – from Egypt, Jordan, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. The group doesn’t even have a very original name: the “Arab Quartet,” the axis of countries that have earned the misleading label of “moderate.” “Misleading,” because these are not countries that excel in their liberal policies toward their citizens. Egypt, for example, continues to arrest members of the Muslim Brotherhood, its press law is still one of the most draconian, and the human rights report published last week by the U.S. State Department notes serious problems there, including the torture of prisoners and the restriction of freedom of expression.

The Jordanian press law also isn’t one of the greatest, and it is only due to an agreement that is not anchored in legislation that the government has refrained from imprisoning journalists. Saudi Arabia is in a league of its own on everything related to freedom of expression or the status of women (one example: a woman in the kingdom is not permitted to obtain a driver’s license, even if she is a doctor who wishes to drive an ambulance). Only the United Arab Emirates can really lay any claim to the term “moderate.”

Thus, “moderate states” (a phrase used only in relation to Arab states – no one characterizes Greece or Bulgaria, for instance, according to a scale of moderation or radicalism) are countries that show moderation toward American policy in the Middle East. They are states that have obediently followed the boycott of the Palestinian Authority under Hamas, and they are states whose moderation is primarily manifested in the intensity of their fear of Iran and their struggle with extremist religious streams.

Now the United States wants to define these states as a separate axis, whether it is distinct from the Arab League or is in a position to influence the political agenda in the Middle East. A sort of advisory council. But it seems that it would be a mistake to view these states as an extension of Washington. Because tomorrow at the meeting in Aswan, where the temperature is already a summer-like 35 degrees Centigrade (95 Fahrenheit), Washington will try to persuade, not demand of, the Arab Quartet to continue coordinating positions with it on three main problems: the situation in Iraq, the “Syria and Lebanon problem” and “the Palestinian issue.” It will be something of a teaser for the Arab summit, which is due to convene in the Saudi capital four days later.

Alternative axis

This is an alternative axis, not only for Washington but for the moderate states themselves, which know that when decisions of the Arab League summit must be passed unanimously, then Syria or Yemen or Sudan can exercise a veto over them. Egypt and Saudi Arabia, at least, are tired of the usual routine at Arab League summits, where Libyan leader Muammar Gadhafi isn’t the only one to put on a show, but Syria also dictates its continued patronage of Lebanon and blocks any new initiative. Since this is “the Saudi year,” in which this wealthy nation has pulled itself out of the cocoon in which it has enveloped itself for years, the meeting in Aswan could also produce a series of conditions. Because whoever wants to obtain Saudi Arabia’s intervention, together with that bloc of moderate states, will also need to know the price tag. Whoever wants Saudi Arabia to continue exerting pressure on Syria and to aid Lebanon, may be asked to pay in action on the Palestinian front.

In Palestine, a government was born after a Cesarean section was performed in Mecca last month, under the patronage of King Abdullah, who gave his blessing. Abdullah knows, as does Egypt, that this is the best result that could have been achieved under the existing conditions. Someone, Israel or the United States, or optimally both of them, will have to respect this Saudi achievement if they want the moderate Arab Quartet to have any meaning. Damascus, by the way, will be very pleased if the Saudi achievement at the Mecca conference, to which Assad ostensibly contributed, falls apart with a bang.

March 23rd, 2007, 4:42 pm


ausamaa said:

Some attitudes are mindboggling! If Syria had stood up to Bush’s personal wishes during the prime of his starwars episode, why should it now (and after the battle-dammaged starship Galactica has passed over) attempt to accommodate his cornettists?

Ammazing, they are still trying to snatch some sence of Victory out of the jaws of their Defeat.

March 23rd, 2007, 4:54 pm


Gibran said:

إنتخابات أم طقوس في سوريا؟

محمد علي الأتاسي

تنتظر سوريا هذه السنة مواعيد انتخابية مفصلية، كان من المفترض أن تكون استحقاقات سياسية في غاية الأهمية لحاضر البلد ومستقبله، عدا أن كل المعطيات تشير إلى أن انتخابات مجلس الشعب التي حدد مرسوم رئاسي موعدها في 22 نيسان المقبل، وما سيليها من استفتاء على تجديد ولاية رئيس الجمهورية، لن تعدو كونها مناسبات احتفالية سيتم من خلالها إعادة إنتاج وتكريس ما هو قائم على مستوى الخطاب السياسي والبنى المؤسسية والممارسات السلطوية.

فبدلا من أن تنفذ السلطات السورية وعودها الخجولة التي قطعتها خلال السنوات الماضية بإصدار قانون عصري جديد لانتخابات مجلس الشعب يأخذ في الحسبان التطورات التي طرأت على صعيد المجتمع، وعلى صعيد الممارسات السياسية، فان القرار السلطوي الأخير جاء ليؤكد أن سوريا لا يراد لها أن تخرج من النموذج السوفياتي البائد و”ديموقراطيته الشعبية”، وأن الانتخابات المقبلة ستجري وفقاً للقانون القديم الصادر في العام 1973 والذي يعطي 51% من المقاعد لما يسميه “قطاعي العمال والفلاحين”، ويخصص ثلثي المقاعد (167 نائباً من أصل 250) لأحزاب “الجبهة الوطنية التقدمية”، منها 135 مقعداً لحزب البعث، أي بمعدل 51% للحزب “الحاكم للدولة والمجتمع” بحسب المادة الثامنة من الدستور.

وغني عن القول أنه في ظل قانون كهذا لا يوجد منافسة حقيقية ولا عملية اقتراع حر، ولا ستار عازل فعال، ولا إشراف قضائي ولا مراقبون دوليون، ولا تغطية إعلامية مستقلة، وبالتالي فلا مفاجآت تنتظر من انتخابات كهذه معلبة يتم فيها عملياً تعيين 70 % من أعضاء مجلس الشعب من خلال قوائم الجبهة الوطنية التقدمية الرابحة حتماً! في حين تترك نسبة الـ 30% الباقية لمن يسمون بـ “المستقلين” والتي يتم عملياً توزيع مقاعدها على رجال الأعمال وكبار التجار والمستزلمين وفقاً لحسابات لا يعلم إلا الله كيف يتم إجراؤها في الغرف المظلمة لأصحاب القرار السياسي والأمني.

بالمثل فإن الاستفتاء على تجديد ولاية رئيس الجمهورية لفترة رئاسية ثانية، والذي سيتم تحديد موعده في غضون الأسابيع اللاحقة، سيجري هو الآخر وفقاً للآليات الدستورية الموروثة والتي تعطي للقيادة القطرية لحزب البعث الحق الحصري في تقديم المرشح الوحيد للرئاسة، ومن ثم تتم المصادقة على ترشيحه تلقائياً من قبل مجلس الشعب، قبل أن يطرح على استفتاء شعبي يطلب فيه من المواطن أن يجيب بنعم أو بلا على خيار الحزب الحاكم. وإذا كانت نتيجة الاستفتاء مضمونة سلفاً بالموافقة على التمديد، فإن الجانب المجهول نسبياً يبقى في النسبة الدقيقة للتصويت بـ”نعم” والتي تتأرجح نسبتها بين 97% و99%.

الطريف في كل هذه الطقوس الانتخابية المعلومة النتائج سلفاً، أن الخطاب السلطوي لا ينفك يبررها باسم “الخصوصية السورية”، في حين أنها بمجملها مستوردة قلباً وقالباً من النموذج السوفياتي الذي كان سائداً في دول الكتلة الشرقية. من هنا، فإن واقع الحال يدلنا على أن الخصوصية السورية الوحيدة التي يعتد بها في هذا المجال، هي في إصرار السلطات السورية على الإبقاء على ممارسات ومصطلحات ونماذج سوفياتية بائدة، مع الإمعان في نسبها إلى “خصوصية سورية” أزلية!

وحتى لا نتهم بالتحامل، فإن الأمانة تقتضي الإشارة إلى أن السلطات السورية قررت هذه السنة تغيير شكل الصناديق الانتخابية ونوعيتها وإبدالها بصناديق زجاجية شفافة وإدخال مادة الحبر السري في عملية الاقتراع، لكنها لم تنسب هذا التطورات إلى “الخصوصية السورية” كما جرت العادة، بل كانت واضحة وصريحة في تبيان مصدرها! فوفقاً لخبر أوردته وكالة “سانا” الرسمية للإعلام نقلاً عن مسؤول سوري رفيع المستوى تحت عنوان “جديد انتخابات 2007 صناديق زجاجية مستوردة من الإتحاد الأوروبي وخدمة الإستعلام الصوتي للرد على الإستفسارات”، نستطيع أن نقرأ الآتي: “ستشهد انتخابات 2007 استخدام صناديق جديدة زجاجية مماثلة للصناديق المستخدمة في دول الإتحاد الأوروبي، تم استيرادها اخيرا بحيث يتمكن كل مقترع من رؤية ما بداخل الصندوق إضافة إلى أنه سيتم استخدام مادة الحبر السري المدروس عالمياً من الناحية الصحية والذي تطبقه غالبية الدول المتقدمة في عملياتها الإنتخابية حاليا، ما يمنع حدوث أي عملية لاقتراع من قبل المواطن لأكثر من مرة”.

إذاً سيكون من حق المواطن السوري أن يتمتع هذه السنة بمنظر الأوراق الانتخابية تتساقط داخل صندوق الانتخاب الزجاجي، وعليه ألاّ يقلق على صحته بفضل الحبر السري المدروس عالمياً! والحقيقة أن الخبر استفزني بعض الشيء، فقررت أن أتصل بالرقم (105) الذي ورد ذكره في الخبر، والمخصص بحسب وكالة “سانا”، لاستفسار المواطنين عن كل ما يتعلق بانتخابات مجلس الشعب.

قررت الاتصال للاستفسار عن متى نعود إلى “الخصوصية السورية” الحقيقية التي جعلت المجتمع السوري من أوائل المجتمعات العربية التي شهدت تعددية حزبية وانتخابات برلمانية حقيقية في الأربعينات والخمسينات من القرن المنصرم؟ أردت أن أسأل متى نعود إلى الدستور السوري للعام 1950 الذي يعتبر إلى اليوم الأفضل والأكثر ديموقراطية بين دساتير الدول العربية؟ متى نعود إلى خصوصيتنا الحقة التي جعلت من سوريا، بعد لبنان، أول بلد عربي يجري تحت قبة مجلسه النيابي المنتخب ديموقراطياً، حفل تسليم وتسلم سلمي للسلطة في العام 1955 بين الرئيس هاشم الأتاسي والرئيس المنتخب شكري القوتلي؟

اتصلت على الرقم (105) لأسأل، فأتاني الصوت المسجل لعاملة الهاتف بالآتي: “الرقم المطلوب غير موضوع في الخدمة. يرجى عدم المحاولة من جديد”.

March 23rd, 2007, 5:06 pm


Samir said:

منظمة العفو الدولية تؤكد حصولها على معلومات تشير إلى تورط السلطات السورية في جريمة اختطاف وقتل الشيخ الخزنوي

بعد نحو عامين على الجريمة، أعادت منظمة العفو الدولية التشكيك في صحة الرواية الرسمية في جريمة اختطاف وتصفية الشيخ الكردي السوري محمد معشوق الخزنوي، مؤكدة حصولها على معلومات جديدة تشير إلى تورط السلطات السورية في الجريمة. وبناء على هذه المعلومات، دعت المنظمة إلى تحقيق جديد و”محايدة” في القضية.

وكان الشيخ الخزنوي قد اختطف من أحد شوارع دمشق في 10 أيار/ مايو 2005، ثم سلمت جثته التي كانت تحمل آثار تعذيب شديد؛ إلى أسرته في القامشلي (شمال شرق سورية) في الأول من حزيران/ يونيو 2005. وقالت السلطات السورية حنيها إن عصابة مؤلفة من خمسة أشخاص قامت باختطاف الشيخ وتخديره ثم نقله إلى حلب وقتله خنقاً قبل دفنه في دير الزور. وحسب الاعترافات التي نشرتها وسائل الإعلام السورية الحكومية، فإن القتلة فعلوا ذلك لأن الخزنوي خرج على طريقة والده الراحل الشيخ عز الدين الخزنوي، الصوفية. إلا أن المعارضة السورية، وأسرة الشهيد الخزنوي، شككت في هذه الرواية، وطالبت بالتحقيق في اغتياله، الذي يعتقد أنه تصفية سياسية، لا سيما بعد الكشف عن عقده لقاء مع المراقب العام لجماعة الإخوان المسلمين في سورية المحامي علي صدر الدين البيانوني في بروكسل في 15 شباط/ فبراير 2005 إضافة إلى نشاطه على الساحة الكردية.

ودعت منظمة العفو الدولية في تقرير حصلت أخبار الشرق على نسخة منه؛ “الحكومة السورية إلى التحقيق في التورط المزعوم لموظفين أمنيين رسميين في حادثة “الاختفاء” القسري لشخصية قيادية دينية كردية ومقتله في مايو/أيار 2005″.

وفي رسائل بعثت بها المنظمة إلى كل من الرئيس السوري بشار الأسد ووزيري العدل محمد الغفري والخارجية وليد المعلم، شكَّكت المنظمة في صحة التوضيح الرسمي لوفاة الشيخ محمد معشوق الخزنوي بأنه قُتل على أيدي أفراد “عصابة إرهابية إجرامية”، “وذلك في ضوء المعلومات التي تشير إلى ضلوع موظفي الدولة في الحادثة”.

وتنفي السلطات السورية أي دور لها في حادثة اختطافه ومقتله “على الرغم من الأنباء التي وردت عن تعرضه للمضايقة من قبل أفراد الأمن السوريين في الفترة التي سبقت اختطافه، وعن خشيته على حياته”. وكانت منظمة العفو الدولية قد ذكرت في 1 يونيو/حزيران 2005 أن المعلومات التي كانت قد تلقتها أشارت إلى أن الشيخ محمد معشوق الخزنوي “ربما توفي نتيجة للتعذيب عقب اعتقاله من قبل الاستخبارات العسكرية السورية”. وكشفت المنظمة عن “آخر المعلومات التي توفرت تلقي ظلالاً من الشك على نفي السلطات السورية لدورها في الحادثة”.

ومن هذه المعلومات المثيرة للشك، أنه “خلال فترة “الاختفاء”، ورد أن مسؤولَيْن كبيرَيْن – ذكرت منظمة العفو الدولية أسميهما في رسائلها (للمسؤولين السوريين)- اعترفا لأشخاص معنيين بأن الشيخ محمد معشوق الخزنوي كان محتجزاً في أحد مراكز الاعتقال السورية”. كما “وردت أنباء تفيد بأن الشيخ محمد معشوق الخزنوي كان محتجزاً خلال جزء من تلك الفترة في فرع فلسطين التابع للاستخبارات العسكرية، في سجن صيدنايا، وبعد ذلك في مستشفى تشرين العسكري، حيث قيل إنه كان في حالة صحية حرجة للغاية”.

وشددت المنظمة على أن “هذه المعلومات وغيرها تثير شكوكاً حول مدى كمال واستقلال التحقيق الرسمي، وتشير إلى أن مسار التحقيق الوحيد الذي اتَّبعته السلطات- وهو أن عملية الاختطاف والقتل قد نُفذت على أيدي “عصابة إرهابية إجرامية”، والتي ظهر بعض أفرادها المزعومين على شاشة التلفزيون السوري الرسمي في 2 ينويو/حزيران 2005 وهم يُدلون “باعترافاتهم” حول عملية القتل- إنما هو مسار غير كاف ومشوب بالعيوب”.

وإلى جانب ذلك، نبهت المنظمة في تقريرها إلى أنه “لم يسمح لعائلة الشيخ محمد معشوق الخزنوي بإجراء تشريح خارج النطاق الرسمي لجثته”، كما “لم يتلق محامو عائلة الشيخ محمد معشوق الخزنوي نسخة من النتائج التي توصل إليها التشريح الرسمي الذي أُجري للجثة” و”لم يتلق محامو العائلة نسخة من ملف التحقيق حتى الآن”.

وأشارت المنظمة إلى أن “الوصف الذي قدمه أفراد “العصابة الإرهابية الإجرامية” لعملية دفن الجثة وللقبر لا يتطابق مع حالة القبر الذي أُرشد إليه أبناء المتوفي وأشخاص آخرون بحسب ما ورد”. كما أن “حالة الجثة “الطازجة”- بغض النظر عن علامات التعذيب وإساءة المعاملة التي ظهرت عليها، بما فيها آثار حروق على الظهر والذراعين وكسر الأسنان الأمامية وكسر الأنف ورضَّة في أحد جانبي الرأس، بالإضافة إلى حلق لحيته – كما رآها بعض الأشخاص بعد اكتشافها في 29 مايو/أيار 2005 أو في وقت قريب من ذلك التاريخ بحسبما ورد، لا تنسجم مع الحالة المتوقعة لجثة شخص قُتل قبل ثلاثة أسابيع من التاريخ المذكور ودُفن في طقس حار كما ورد في “الاعترافات” المتلفزة لأفراد “العصابة الإرهابية الإجرامية” الذين قالوا إنهم قتلوا الشيخ محمد معشوق الخزنوي بعد القبض عليه في 10 مايو/أيار 2005 بفترة وجيزة”.

“وبالنتيجة، فإن منظمة العفو الدولية تعتبر التوضيح الرسمي الذي قُدم حتى الآن لعملية اختطاف وقتل الشيخ محمد معشوق الخزنوي غير مقنع، ويساورها القلق لأن التحقيق الرسمي مشوب بالعيوب الخطيرة. ولذا فإن المنظمة تدعو السلطات السورية إلى إجراء تحقيق جديد مستقل وواف ومحايد، وإعلان نتائجه على الملأ، وتقديم المسؤولين عن اختطاف وقتل الشيخ الخزنوي إلى العدالة في محاكمة تفي بالمعايير الدولية للعدالة، من دون أن تحمل عقوبة الإعدام”.

“وفي الوقت الذي لا تسعى فيه منظمة العفو الدولية إلى الإضرار بنتائج مثل هذا التحقيق، فإنها تكرر دعوة السلطات السورية إلى إلغاء القوانين التي تمنح أفراد قوات الأمن الحصانة من المقاضاة على أي جرائم يرتكبونها أثناء تأديتهم لواجباتهم، من قبيل المادة 16 من المرسوم التشريعي رقم 14 للعام 1969، التي تعفي موظفي إدارة أمن الدولة من المقاضاة على مثل تلك الجرائم”.

وكان نائب الرئيس السوري السابق عبد الحليم خدام قد أكد في حزيران/ يونيو الماضي أن الشيخ الخزنوي خُطف من قبل مفرزة أمنية “بمعرفة أحد أصدقائه”. وقد أكد خدام شكوك عائلة الشيخ الخزنوي، موضحاً في حديث نشرته صحيفة “يني اوزغور بوليتيكا” التي تصدر باللغتين التركية والكردية أن “المرحوم معشوق الخزنوي خطف بمعرفة أحد أصدقائه من قبل مفرزة أمنية وقتل عقاباً له على اللقاءات التي أجراها خلال وجوده في بعض الدول الأوروبية”.

ويشار إلى أن الشيخ محمد معشوق الخزنوي كان رئيساً لمركز إحياء السنَّة في القامشلي كما كان يعمل في مركز الدراسات الإسلامية في دمشق الذي يرأسه عضو مجلس الشعب محمد حبش. والخزنوي كان عضواً بارزاً في المجتمع الكردي. وقد دعا إلى إجراء إصلاحات في سورية وإلى مزيد من الحوار بين مختلف الطوائف الدينية. وفي فبراير/شباط ومارس/آذار 2005، سافر إلى أوروبا في سياق الجهود التي يبذلها من أجل بناء علاقات أقوى بين الاتحاد الأوروبي والمجتمع الكردي في سورية، والتقى خلال تلك الرحلة مع المراقب العام لجماعة الإخوان المسلمين السورية المحظورة. وقد “اختفى” الشيخ محمد معشوق الخزنوي بعد مغادرته مركز الدراسات الإسلامية في دمشق في 10 مايو/أيار 2005.

ولمع نجم الخزنوي سياسياً بعد تصديه للسياسة الرسمية السورية ضد الأكراد منذ أحداث القامشلي الشهيرة في 12 آذار/ مارس 2004 التي راح ضحيتها بضعة عشر كردياً سورياً، وجُرح العشرات، واعتُقل الآلاف، بعد أن تحول خلاف بشأن مباراة لكرة القدم إلى أعمال احتجاج قام بها الأكراد السوريون على حرمانهم من حقوقهم في المواطنة منذ عقود، وامتدت إلى مناطق مختلفة من البلاد.

أخبار الشرق

March 23rd, 2007, 5:26 pm


Gibran said:

O’ my God. That too SAMIR?

March 23rd, 2007, 5:38 pm


Ford Prefect said:

For those of us Mac junkies, iSyria might be next. Enjoy!

March 23rd, 2007, 6:24 pm


majedkhaldoun said:

is anyone going to the ADC meeting in june 8-9-10 in Washington D.C.?

March 23rd, 2007, 6:30 pm


ugarit said:

Ford prefect:

That would be appropriate since Steve Jobs’ father is Syrian 🙂

March 23rd, 2007, 6:40 pm


Gibran said:

Steve Job

March 23rd, 2007, 6:43 pm


ugarit said:

Where Washington Lets No Good Deed Go Unpunished: Return to Syria

Syrian Airlines flies from several European capitals to Damascus, but Americans can’t book seats from the United States, thanks to the 2003 Syrian Accountability Act, which an obedient (to the Israeli lobby) Congress passed and an eager Bush signed and renewed every year since 2004. The act outlawed commerce between the two countries, stopping just short of breaking diplomatic relations. Washington recalled its Ambassador and marginalized Syria’s capable emissary in the U.S. capital. U.S. officials make unfounded accusations that Damascus regime helps supply Iraqi insurgents and aids and abets terrorism. In addition, they denounce Syria for “interference in Lebanese affairs.”

How ironic, said Dr. Bouthaina Sha’aban, Minister of Expatriates. Syria provided U.S. authorities with intelligence to help stop a 2003 attack on U.S. ships in the Persian Gulf. Syrian security forces also obliged U.S. Homeland Security, although Sha’aban did not refer to this, by accepting a Canadian citizen of Syrian birth and torturing him at U.S. behest. Maher Arar endured almost a year of Syrian “interrogation,” before Canada concluded that they never had evidence of his linkage to terrorists. Canada has since apologized and paid Arar compensation for their role in his suffering. Arar remains on the U.S. no-fly list. Homeland Security refuses to give reasons for his exclusion. Syria also “interrogated” other victims at the behest of U.S. authorities.”

March 23rd, 2007, 6:52 pm


Alex said:

Ausamaa, I think this video clip can be useful to reinforce your message to Gibran earlier (to think before he hits the keyboard)

It is also a good example of the hi-tech advanced mentality of “Arab Moderates”.

March 23rd, 2007, 8:10 pm


G said:

And I think this one is perfect for you Alex.

March 23rd, 2007, 8:26 pm


Alex said:


Ok G, thanks. I heard of this one, but never found the video anywhere.

But of course you know that if you want to look at cell phone personal video clips you can find the craziest people anywhere, but the clip I linked is on national television of that “Arab Moderate” country…. producers of the show actually approved of that brilliant theory!

March 23rd, 2007, 8:38 pm


annie said:

Had to hike kilos before I hit this blank comment slot. I complained before about the length of the so-called comments. But this is a free country isn’t it ?
GIBRAN : I did not see what was with Bashar’s picture.

March 23rd, 2007, 9:01 pm


Alex said:

Annie, Gibran is not impressed with the Syrian leader’s look.

Obviously Bashar has no chance to compete with Gibran’s hero on looks.

March 23rd, 2007, 9:17 pm


G said:

right, alex. Perhaps this then is the best for you, and steadfast syria. and the location is also brilliant.

March 23rd, 2007, 9:23 pm


Alex said:

Well tell me G, which aspects of that clip (other than the decoration) is not to your liking?

March 23rd, 2007, 9:41 pm


G said:

the fact that you said that only confirms everything I’ve thought about you.

March 23rd, 2007, 9:48 pm


3antar said:

i think both those pictures are great. they should be “hung” up in the fallen-off-the-ugly-tree-and-hit-every-branch-on-the-way hall of fame.

you lot put me off my food!

March 23rd, 2007, 10:17 pm


Alex said:

But G, you did not need this latest confirmation …you sounded like you already knew everything about me from the time you made your first of a long series of vivid comment!

March 23rd, 2007, 10:26 pm


Ford Prefect said:

Alex, regarding that picture you posted of someone’s hero; it is fake. It is violating Darwin’s Evolution Theory and it cannot be true.
It indicates that some humans did not evolve at all as they still look and smell like Chimpanzees. This time you are wrong, Alex, and you have been tricked. That picture was heavily edited and distributed by the malicious Syrian intelligence services still operating in Lebanon.

March 23rd, 2007, 10:40 pm


Akbar Palace said:

Eshani2 asks:

“Do you know much about Turkey?”

A little.

“Are you aware that without the heavy handed presence of its army backed by a strong and secular constitution the Turkey of today would look vastly different than the way you describe?”

Considering the location of Turkey and the chutzpah of the Islamists, I see nothing wrong with an “army backed by a strong and secular constitution”. I think Ataturk did a great thing.

I also think Turkey has one of the best examples of a democracy in the Middle East. Not perfect, but nothing is.

“As of Jordan, are you also aware of the internal implicit and explicit suppression of fundamentalist tendencies by the monarchy’s security apparatus?”

Yes, I’ve heard of it. I’m not big on monarchies, but, at least, the Jordanian monarch doesn’t use terrorists and plausable deniability to export terrorism. The Jordanians made peace with Israel without resorting to terrorism. This, in itself, is an example to everyone (especially to extremists) that you don’t have to resort to terrorism.

“You present yourself as an expert on the “latest thinking of the State of Israel.”

I’m an American Jew and pro-Zionist. I am no expert, but I do have years of experience living in Israel and visiting a few muslim countries, etc.

“It seems to me that you need to think through your answer to Gibran’s fine question one more time.”

I respect Gibran because he doesn’t follow the rejectionist voice of Hezbollah, Hamas, etc and because he believes Lebanon should be left alone.

“You seem to think that Syria’s leader is a thug, tyrant, murderer and a gangster (using your words above). Let me ask you gibran’s question in a slightly different way:”

Yes – I do.

“How would you feel if a group such as the Moslem Brotherhood were to take over in Syria?”

If they were nice people and could accept the State of Israel and didn’t feel the need to export terrorism, I would present them with a plateful of baklava and, moreover, I’d contribute $100 American cash to their mosque of choice;)

BTW – My ex-father-in-law’s family is Syrian.

3Antar said:

“those same arabs you proceed to describe as “thugs, tyrants, sheiks, tribal leaders, murderers, and gangsters””

I should have said “Arab Leaders”, sorry.

“why should you want peace to those people? you cant keep the mask on for too long, can you.”

Wanting peace is natural (for most people except, perhaps, those “Presidents-for-Life” that have kept the ME at war for so long).

“also because early israelis have faced resistance right from the outset of the creation of the state. and why is that?”

Because Arab governments and Islamic fundamentalist have promoted it for soooo long.

“do you think that setting up a country on a land completely foreign to the influx of european and american “jews” is gonna be greeted with open arms or given a blind eye?”

The majority of Israelis are neither of American or European ancestry. Most are North African and “Oriental” (Persian, Iraqi, Yemeni, Syrian, Georgian, Greek, Italian, etc)…yaani, Sephardi!

But to answer your question, no, I WOULD have expected a fight or a war.

BUT I wouldn’t have expected a culture of 30 to 40 years (and counting) where people are sacrificing their young children at the behest of (STILL) rejectionist Middle East leaders and clerics.

” and based on whatever your answer is, do you think arabs should react and behave normally to the state of israel?”

I would expect (my first mistake) the Middle East to modernize, that Arabs and Muslims would eventually put their energies into their own homes and countries, to (after 4 or 5 decades) tolerate a Jewish State, make peace with her, and then go home to a good job.

“hmmm why, because the word “passive” has had a new meaning all of a sudden? perhaps they should have rolled a red carpet for the first arrivals.”

So if killing 60 jews in Hebron in 1929 was the “normal” thing to do, why are you so upset about Deir Yassin in 1948?

“secondly, you prefer the enemy you can predict. this is a dangerous statement. it implies that you’re indifferent about supporting whatever kind of gvts out there as long as your safety is guaranteed. survival instinct. fair enough.”

Just my judging of Israeli political thought. Not my opinion.

“you come to realize that the arabs can not have a representative american puppet gvt. Its too much of a paradox. So its best to support oppressive regimes.
hence, examples given here are Jordan, Turkey, even perhaps Egypt.”

Every country has the right to security. This inlcudes Great Britain, the US, Eygpt and Iraq.

“So democracy is conditional. Which explains US foreign policy around the globe (south america)”

Democracy and a say in government is a fundamental human right.

“but its a catch 22 frankly.”

What is?

“Gibran asked :”Don’t you think Israel is better off negotiating a peace deal with a strong representative government in Damascus?” is it possible that there is yet another paradox in that question? representative, ok. how can you guarantee it will be strong?”

To me, a “strong government” is one that can protect itself and still offer freedom and progress to her people.

“Is Israel willing to take such risk?”

IMHO, Israel took a risk. She left Lebanon and Gaza without ANY guarantees for security, only the HOPE that no excuse for the continued conflict would arise. The Israelis were wrong.

“Being a syrian, my priorities are inversly proportional. Im more concerned with this representation, democracy and the freedom of “Syrians”.”

Makes sense to me.

“security and well being of my neighbors is secondary. thats where we differ.”

No I think we agree. I think it is human nature to concern yourself with your own country’s welfare over that of another country.

“Yet hat doesn’t give me or Syrians the right to consider non-Syrians as “thugs, tyrants, sheiks, tribal leaders, murderers, and gangsters”
because thats called racism and prejudice. right?”

Excuse me, but the Arab media (mostly government controlled entities) is the most prejudiced, intolerant, and anti-semitic media in the world.

In any case, I have great respect for the Arab peoples as a whole. However, I am very saddened by how the Arab “leadership” have stymied Arab progress, and instead, led Arabs to violence and poverty.

A looooong post. I’ll stop here.

March 23rd, 2007, 11:07 pm


G said:

Right, alex, but I do not possess your Stalinist capabilities to be able to know “the true motivations” of the Lebanese and the Saudis. Only you possess these capabilities.

March 23rd, 2007, 11:07 pm


Gibran said:

سوربري أكدت رفضها طلباً للقاء المعلم

واشنطن – من هشام ملحم:
أكدت مساعدة وزيرة الخارجية الاميركية لشؤون السكان واللاجئين والهجرة أيلين سوربري انها رفضت خلال وجودها في دمشق طلب وزير الخارجية السوري وليد المعلم الاجتماع بها لمناقشة قضايا تتخطى مسألة اللاجئين العراقيين، التي كانت السبب الاساسي لجولتها في المنطقة والتي شملت محطات في دمشق وعمّان والقاهرة.
وأمس التقت سوربري وبعض مساعديها، عدداً من المراسلين الاجانب وقالت أمامهم إن جولتها وفرت لها ولحكومتها فهما افضل لمواقف حكومات المنطقة ومتطلباتها وخصوصاً حكومتي سوريا والاردن بالنسبة الى حاجاتها من المساعدات الدولية لمعالجة المشكلة المتفاقمة للاجئين العراقيين. وأضافت ان هناك اهتماماً سورياً بمعالجة مشكلة اللاجئين العراقيين، وان دمشق تفضل التعاون مع المنظمات غير الحكومية الدولية، بينما يفضل الاردن تطوير التعاون الثنائي مع واشنطن في هذا الصدد.
ورداً على سؤال لـ”النهار” عن اسباب رفضها الاجتماع بالمعلم، قالت: “أولا عندما قررت الوزيرة ايفادي الى المنطقة، كان الرد من الحكومة السورية هو ترتيب لقاء مع نائب الوزير. وهذه هي التعليمات التي اعطيت لي خلال الجولة. وأوضحنا لهم ان الجولة هي لمعالجة القضايا الانسانية وكيف يمكن ان نساعد اللاجئين”. واضافت انه “عندما جاء طلب عقد اجتماعات أخرى، قررنا اننا حققنا ما جئنا لنحققه، ولم نر أي سبب لعقد اجتماع آخر، لأنه لم يفوّض اليّ مناقشة قضايا أوسع”.

March 24th, 2007, 1:05 am


norman said:

Now Hisham melhim speaks the truth .

March 24th, 2007, 2:41 am


Alex said:

The lovely Hisham Melhim trying to squeeze out of the interview anything that can sound bad for the Syrians so that he can send a “good” news piece back to Annahar.

Here is a list of some of the most pathetic Syria haters among the distinguished and
intelligent” Lebanese journalists:

1) Hisham Melhim (Washington, for Annahar)
2) Raghida Dergham (New York, for AlHayat)
3) Michael Young (Opinion writer, Daily Star)
4) Randa Takieddin (Paris, for Alhayat)

From these I would exclude Michael Young for now as he usually writes opinion pieces and he is theoretically free to have whatever foolish opinions he has. But the other three are NEWS REPORTERS .. they are supposed to report the news in a neutral way leaving it up to the readers to form their own conclusions about those news stories of the day.

Yet throughput the past few years, Raghida, Hisham and Randa have somehow managed to achieve a 95%+ (and Probably a perfect 100%) set of stories that are clearly negative in regards to Syria… you can be sure that if you read the word “Syria” in their news reports that they managed to find something negative to report that day, and if it is not clearly negative, well then they will tweak it a bit until it is negative… the “negative” is usually: weak, evil, stupid, boycotted.

Thanks to these pillars of Arab journalism this is the way readers are led to understand the middle east problems … from an ALjazeera cartoonist this week.

March 24th, 2007, 5:48 am


Alex said:

مصدر فرنسي: دمشق تحاول «تمرير القمة» بهدوء

أكد أن أجندتها في لبنان مختلفة عن إيران

باريس: ميشال أبونجم
دعا مصدر فرنسي رفيع المستوى أمس الى مواصلة الضغوط على سورية والامتناع عن إرسال «إشارات خاطئة» اليها، معتبرا أنها «مسؤولة الى حد كبير» عن استمرار تأزيم الوضع في لبنان واستمرار دورانه في حلقة مفرغة.
وحذر المصدر الفرنسي ـ في لقاء ضيق في باريس مع عدد من الصحافيين ـ من «مناورة» سورية غرضها «تمرير القمة العربية بأقل قدر من الخسائر لتحاشي الضغوط والعودة بعدها الى سياستها التقليدية في اللعب على حبل التناقضات اللبنانية». وفيما اتهم دمشق بـ«اللعب على الوقت وتقطيعه» بانتظار انتهاء ولاية الرئيس شيراك في أواسط مايو (أيار) المقبل وبعدها ولاية الرئيس جورج بوش، قال إن باريس تعتبر أن هناك ثمة إمكانية لفك التحالف القائم بين سورية وإيران على اعتبار أن الأجندة السورية في لبنان مختلفة عن الأجندة الإيرانية.

March 24th, 2007, 6:17 am


ausamaa said:


Something does not add up:

The Bush Admin needs Syria’s help in getting out of the mud in Iraq, while the Bush Admin locals in the area are still “playing” with Syria. What is your take on this?

Have your cake and eat it too?

Or is it that the local agents have been telling everyone about how “lonely” and “weak” Syria is, that they have now come to “believe” what they say?

Or, is there a spoiler somewhere? How come Saudi clout is not yet capable of resolving the Lebanon stalemate but have been able to resolve the much more tougher one between Hamas and Fateh with Syria’s help?

If that is what is happening, will they not be in for a big surprise. Syria may recoil.

In the end, have the Arab brothers volanteered to get from Syria what Bush’s threats and actions could not get? And on what basis is such an approach based? Why would they succeed where Bush did not?

Hot Summer ahead? Are they not tired yet?

What gives?

March 24th, 2007, 6:41 am


ausamaa said:

Alex, Self Censored !

March 24th, 2007, 6:57 am


Alex said:


Zvi Bar’el from Haaretz (article linked above) is a good email friend of mine for 5 years now. He told me then, and told me now the same thing: Don’t expect “a final solution” to all the problems in the Middle East, everyday it is another chapter in the book.

Syria might agree to talk to Washington about Lebanon or about Iraq .. but Syria is convinced (very rightly) that at the end of the day … nothing will work unless there is a comprehensive solution. Washington is not prepared to talk to Syria about everything… because that will imply a recognition by Washington that Syria will have THE central role in the area… look at the map.

THAT kind of a Syrian role is simply too much for Washington or its Arab allies to accept … they have very different plans … plans that Syria will continue to oppose both because they are not good for Syria and because they would not work.

So we get those “let’s talk to Syria on a limited basis” and “let’s offer Syria a few small carrots and demand a few concessions” … we are kidding ourselves if we have high hopes.

But since America is in Iraq and since Lebanon is in a big mess, and since Saudi Arabia is not “slow” anymore, rather than the standstill of the old days, this time we should expect more serious efforts to make the environmental conditions more friendly to the Americans and Saudis and Lebanese March 14th group

There might be a summer war … especially if they do not get their “international tribunal” designed in a way that guarantees they can implicate Syria in the Hariri murder… they need to weaken Syria until it is happy with the small carrots they are willing to offer.

The Syrians on the other hand decided that they are going to wait until Chirac and Bush are both out, and until the Saudis and their Lebanese allies are tired and more realistic in their expectations after they lose their enthusiastic Neocon backers.

But everything is possible … two years is a long time in this dynamic Middle East. Lahoud’s term will expire (Again) in few months, the Arab summit will restate its backing for “the right of return” and Olmert will need to distance himself from the positive position he took so far regarding the Saudi peace efforts, something terrible might happen in Iraq just like UN secretary general almost got blown up in Iraq this week …. many challenges that will make those two years quite stressful.

And it does not help that too many strong leaders have their personal ego on the line… It will be a mistake to expect all parties to behave in a logical way… especially when you have the Michael Young and Raghida and Hisham Melhem and Randa distorting reality and believing this distorted reality and making the Americans believe it to. There was once an article in Le Monde Diplomatique which stated that Washingtn gets its perception of the Arab world mostly from Asharq Alawasat … that’s partly why it believed it can safely invade Iraq and be welcomed by all Arabs there who surely think the same way Asharq’a Saudi commentators think. They are dangerous .. and they are enjoying the addictive power trip .. they won’t stop.

March 24th, 2007, 7:35 am


ausamaa said:

In the End do they expect Syria to sit tight and wait for them? Keeping in mind the cards Syria can play if it had to? Do they want another “adventure”?

And when do you think that Syria will shout: Foul!?

As to Zvi Bar El, like others over there (despite his being light years ahead of many), they either “slip” on the cliches they have molded for their political satisfaction, or they end up, subconciously perhaps, imposing their wishfull thinking and their propaganda themes on how the Arab side will react and what really motivates such a reaction. So I will buy their judgement on Israeli internal political matters, but I will not buy their analysis or assessment as it relates to Arab intentions or motivation. In this area, at the most they have proven to be mediocre after-the-fact apologists. They often give credibility to the word “Paradigms”.

Have you seen the Yousi Sarid article “Israel, victim of the Iraqi adventure”? (22/3/2007) He knows better than many others, considering his Arab background.

March 24th, 2007, 8:28 am


ausamaa said:

Aint this cute? Condi wants Arabs to “recommit” to the Fahed peace plan. Perhaps as in the Arab Groom repeating again “I do”, while the Israeli bride is still silent!

Condiiiiiii, the poor intiative is still awaiting the Israeli and the US blessing! Since 2002!

“Rice urges Arab states to recommit to Saudi plan

By News Agencies

U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, heading to the Middle East on her third trip since the start of the year, on Friday urged the Arab states to recommit to a 2002 Saudi peace initiative, and said that there should be room for negotiation.

The plan should be revived “in a way that leaves open the possibility for active diplomacy based on it, not just putting it in the middle of the table and leaving it at that”

March 24th, 2007, 8:42 am


ausamaa said:

And Condi’s usage of “room for negotiation” is the signal to Arabs that the 2002 Plan is not mellow enough. Water it down please, and we shall “try” to do our best, she says “reassuringly” to the Arabs!

March 24th, 2007, 8:47 am


Alex said:

Ausamaa, I agree about the Israelis and their way of perceiving what goes on in each Arab country. But what a relief to read Zvi Bar’el who understands Syria much better than the Al_Hayat LBC or Aslharq alawsat distinguished Arab analysts and journalists.

Here is an example of what Zvi Wrote a year ago when the Lebanese abnd Saudis where cheering President Bush’s Syria lines enthusiasticaly:

This inflation of the Syrian doll has been so successful that today, without a doubt, if there is someone to blame for the failure of the war against terror in Iraq, it is Assad. If there is someone who threatens the peace of the region, it is Assad. And if there is a leader whose deposal would make all of the U.S.’s problems in the region vanish – lo and behold – it is Assad. Thus, a head of state who is considered a weakling in the eyes of several important Arab leaders and whose deposal the administration in Washington allows itself to publicly contemplate has managed to become such a global threat that he is the subject of complete paragraphs in all of Bush’s declarations. And not only in these declarations.

For example, when the president of Turkey visited Washington in June, Bush scolded him for his warm relations with Syria. A substantial part of the conversations Bush conducts with Putin revolve around “the problems Assad is causing in Iraq.” And Washington has forged close ties with its rival, France, on the Lebanon issue, for one, because France agreed to cold shoulder Assad. American officials have been leaking information for several weeks about “examining the role of President Assad.” And now Washington is building high expectations about the international commission of inquiry chaired by German prosecutor Detlev Mehlis on the murder of Lebanese prime minister Rafik Hariri. Assad brought President Hosni Mubarak the transcripts of the investigations conducted by Mehlis in Syria, which according to Assad, clearly indicate his regime was not involved in the murder of Hariri. But even if Assad emerges from this inquiry as pure as snow, he will still be guilty.

I did not read Yousi Sarid’s article, I will google it now. Thanks.

March 24th, 2007, 8:47 am


Alex said:

That’s right Ausamaa … Condi hopes that with these incremental positive steps they can actualy go far. But for every positive step there is a negative step … eventually we ain’t going nowhere.

March 24th, 2007, 8:57 am


Alex said:

And since “G” wanted to analyze pictures, I finally found him from my old database this interesting link Enigma of Damascus

Another demo of how our Lebanese and Saudi Arab “brothers” are a million times more negative than our Israeli and American “enemies”.

March 24th, 2007, 9:03 am


Ford Prefect said:

Your response above was a rare one. I sense in it that you put your biases and superiority complex aside and you typed a rational and respectable opinion.

As a follow up, I have three questions for you:

1. Is Israel a secular country? Do Israelis wish to have a secular and tolerant society?

2. You mentioned that “[Israel] left Lebanon and Gaza without ANY guarantees for security.“ In your opinion, did Hezbollah or Hamas have anything to do with this Israeli unilateral withdrawal? Would Israel have withdrawn any earlier if there was no “armed” resistance?

3. And lastly, as an American, do you believe that people have the right to resist occupation by all means available (including armed resistance)?

As I said before, irrespective of our “IP addresses”, I do not share your ideas, but, nerveless, value and respect your rational opinion.


March 24th, 2007, 10:43 am


t_desco said:

How Beirut Police Fingered Syria in Hariri Assassination
March 20, 2007; Page A1

The article is basically a rehashing of the… first Mehlis report – breaking news indeed… – and it contains serious factual errors, notably:

“In particular, the U.N. believes users of six phones with prepaid cards were actively tracing Mr. Hariri’s motorcade. Many of these numbers were then in touch with officials either in or close to the top of Lebanese and Syrian security services.”

Mehlis I, §144 clearly states that the “six calling cards … made numerous calls with each other and only with each other”. This is repeated in §145: “Since they were first purchased in early January 2005, until the time of the explosion, the lines only had calls with each other.”

Yet the WSJ article is not devoid of interesting information:

“Shortly after the attack, the ISF’s chief investigator on the case, Lt. Col. Samir Shehade, and his staff issued an arrest warrant for an Arab man (sic) suspected of involvement in the Hariri murder and two other attacks on anti-Syrian officials. Days before police were to make the arrest, the suspect fled to Syria, after getting word that his fiancée had been arrested.”

Did you notice that Syrian extremists are always referred to as Syrians, but when the nationality of the terrorist could be a source of embarrassment for our “moderate” allies (like the most extremely moderate country of them all, Saudi Arabia), they are simply referred to as “Arabs”)…?

Bernard Rougier’s article from January 2007 is now accessible online:

Islamismes sunnites et Hezbollah
Le Monde diplomatique

It turns out that there was some animosity towards Rafik Hariri in the “milieux salafistes d’Aïn Héloué”:

“C’est la raison pour laquelle les milieux salafistes d’Aïn Héloué dénoncent les résolutions internationales qui exigent le désarmement des milices libanaises et palestiniennes, tout en veillant à empêcher le Hezbollah de s’installer dans les camps de réfugiés, au nom de la défense de l’identité sunnite. De même, ils bloquent toute forme de solidarité confessionnelle avec les sunnites libanais mobilisés derrière la famille Hariri, en imputant à Rafic Hariri le régime d’exclusion dont les réfugiés palestiniens avaient fait l’objet pendant les années 1990.”

(my emphasis)

An English translation of Rougier excellent study, “Everyday Jihad, The Rise of Militant Islam among Palestinians in Lebanon”, will be published in May.

March 24th, 2007, 11:09 am


G said:

Another demo of how our Lebanese and Saudi Arab “brothers” are a million times more negative than our Israeli and American “enemies”.

Yes indeed, especially in how they send bombs, and weapons, and killers and assassinate people, etc. etc.

But in fact, i’m glad you said this. This is precisely how the Lebanese, the Iraqis, and the Jordanians feel about you.


March 24th, 2007, 2:10 pm


ausamaa said:


And we have to assume that you speak for all Lebanese??

Including Murabitoon, Amal, Karami, Frenjieh, SSNP, Hizbullah, Miqati, Lahoud, Al Huss, Aoun, Wahhab and many others. Right?!

March 24th, 2007, 3:22 pm


Alex said:

T_DESCO, the WSJ is predictable when it comes to the Middle East. Before I read an artcle I have the lowest expectations.

G, I think Innocent Criminal was right about you, although I will not repeat what he said. I have edited your last sentence and replaced it with “We love Syria”… maybe this will work instead of banning you for your continued insults.

From now on, every time you can not control your language, I will remove your comments completely and replace them with something that expresses how much you love Syria and Bashar.

I’m helping you learn to become a better person G, …to learn the challenging skill of debating, without always resorting to the use of bad language and name calling when you have no good argument.

March 24th, 2007, 3:33 pm


Alex said:

And G, if you hate Syria that much because “Yes indeed, especially in how they send bombs, and weapons, and killers and assassinate people, etc. etc.

You know, it would be great if you can base your hate of a country next door on facts, and not on charges from Assyasa and almustaqbal.

And if the 5 bombs and the 10 Lebanese killed is what made you hate your neighbor to the east and north, then I assume (since you are a logical person) that you have a million times more of the same hate to the neighbor to the south? … Ford Prefect will be happy to remind you how many bombs they dropped on Lebanon and how many people they killed … proven fact, not accusations.

March 24th, 2007, 4:01 pm


Ford Prefect said:

I happened to see the insult comment by G before Alex replaced it. Shameful. Thanks Alex for enforcing a sense of civility to this forum. Obviously there is still some highly uncivilized and recycled remnant of the Lebanese Civil War around. Their use of offensive language to project personal insults is indicative of the personalities behind them. Cheers Alex.

March 24th, 2007, 4:18 pm


ausamaa said:


Put yourself in their place for a moment. Now, they hate SYRIA and that is a fact!, so how would they feel, or have been feeling, during the last 5 years? Their type must have felt as if their team had a first and Goal at the one yard line with thirty seconds left. Then they began realising that their team was actualy at their own one yard line on the other side of the field, with half the players disgusted with the sneaky QB, and that it was still early in the second quarter only..

They have been promissed that once Syria leaves Lebanon, all will be Ok in Lebanon and this has not happened!
They told them that once Syria is gone, taking care of Hizbullah and the Palestinans will be a peice of cake, and this has not happened!
They told them Syria will be borken and then they can enjoy taking their revenge, and this has not happened!
They told them that American tanks will soon take care of Syria and this has not happened!
They told them Syria will be hit by the blitz of Mehllis, then Brammertz, then the Tribunal and what have you, and this has not happened!
They told them, Syria would be so cornered and so chastised that it will be a pariah, and this has not happened!

They were told many stories and they told a lot of stories in return,

Then they wake up… and booooffff…!!

How would you feel if you were in their place? And with their mentality?
And with their options?

If I was them, I would start reconsidering – something they are very good at! But, my favorit saying: Some people never learn!

March 24th, 2007, 4:53 pm


anonymous said:

Hi Josh,
I love your forum and I would like to keep following
up on your blog, however I posted a comment under:
anonymous said: (March 22nd, 2007, 2:14 pm, it was
directed to you and unfortunately I got a respond from
Alex, I have nothing against the gentleman but I if my
question was to you I would expect in case of a
respond to be from you.

March 24th, 2007, 7:43 pm


Alex said:

Well, I am not replying to anyone in particular who does not want me to reply to him : )

But Josh is in Florida for a week.

March 24th, 2007, 7:56 pm


syrian said:


When are we going to see a new topic on CreativeSyria

March 24th, 2007, 9:07 pm


Alex said:


Write me an email and I will give you an interesting answer.

March 24th, 2007, 9:25 pm


ausamaa said:

Is it what I think it is? a JV ?

March 24th, 2007, 9:35 pm


Ford Prefect said:

The points you are making are valid ones. In fact, realizing that they are on their own 1 yard line with less than 5 seconds to go, their quarterback (the 14 March Monday Morning Quarterback) threw a Hail Mary pass. Betting the whole game of on that final pass.

They were mislead, as were the Iraqi Shiite, the Israelis, and many others who will eventually come to realize how they used and abused by a narrow-minded “sect” of American ideologues who can see the world only through American military power.

If we look holistically at the entire sequence of events, the Hariri crime would fit properly a part of a whole series of “events” that, so thought the brilliant minds behind it, would in fact re-arrange the Middle East, once and for all, in favor of Israel and under complete American hegemony over the region. This agenda, driven by ideologies established in the early nineties, wouldn’t have been too bad actually, had they been coming from real conscientious Americans who have the US interests aligned with the aspirations of the people of the Middle East for freedom and democracy.

Here is your quiz for the day, Ausamaa. Who said the following?

“…with this Lebanese-Syrian solidarity and alliance, for the sake of dialogue and civil peace … for the sake of Lebanon’s Arabism, consolidating the Taif Accord and defending the national and Islamic resistance, we are not afraid, no matter how great the storms and clouds [affecting the region].”

The answer is

March 24th, 2007, 9:47 pm


Alex said:

: )

Maybe … what is a JV?

Actually it is nothing negative. Email me too.

info aaat creative syria dot com

March 24th, 2007, 9:48 pm


ausamaa said:


Sounds like Junblat before he had the brain surgery!

March 24th, 2007, 9:53 pm


ausamaa said:


I guessed it before the link appeared! Junblat! لأن حارتنا ضيقة و بنعرف بعضنا

March 24th, 2007, 10:14 pm


Ford Prefect said:

Ausamaa, the sad part in the whole fiasco is the incompetence of the brain surgeons. The patients needed the surgery anyway.

March 24th, 2007, 10:28 pm


ausamaa said:


Do not worry, he will come back once all this over, he is harmless after all.

March 24th, 2007, 10:33 pm


norman said:

THe good thing about G Gibran and Akbar is that they unite us Syrian , the bad thing is that they are distracting us from discussing real points important to Syria.

March 25th, 2007, 4:20 am


Ford Prefect said:

Ausamaa, agree. He usually sway with the wind.
Norman, good point. Let’s not loose focus on who the real enemy holding our land and swearing on destroying Syria.

Here is the latest. The Israeli war machine spent almost a whole year finding a name for its agression on Lebanon (duh!). They conveniently forgot to insert the word “loosing” in the title. (And they lost to no more than 3,000 true Lebanese heroes)

JERUSALEM, March 25 (Reuters) – Israel’s government on Sunday officially named last year’s conflict with Hezbollah guerrillas “The Second Lebanon War”.

The cabinet approved the name after relatives of some of the 117 Israeli soldiers and 41 civilians killed during the fighting lobbied for the inscription of the word “war” on their headstones as a fitting tribute.

Lebanon’s Hezbollah guerrilla group, which abducted two Israeli soldiers in a deadly border raid on July 12 sparking the 34-day conflict, calls the war “The Divine Victory”. Ordinary Lebanese generally refer to it as the “July War”.

About 1,200 people, most of them civilians, were killed in Lebanon, Lebanese officials have said. Some 270 Hezbollah guerrillas, 15 other gunmen, 35 Lebanese soldiers and police and five U.N. peacekeepers were among the dead.

Israeli cabinet minister Yitzhak Cohen said the government chose “The Second Lebanon War” because the name “had sunk into the public consciousness” — although Israel never designated as a war its 1982 offensive in Lebanon.

March 25th, 2007, 11:22 am


t_desco said:

More confirmation of the story first reported by Seymour Hersh:

Sunni militants target Lebanon as ‘soft target’

Michael Hirst In Beirut, Sunday Telegraph

Sunni militants are moving into Lebanon from Iraq because they regard it as a soft target for terrorist attacks, a British government minister has warned.

Several cells, each with up to 12 members, are said to be operating out of the Palestinian refugee camp of Ein el-Hilweh in the southern Lebanese city of Sidon.

Sunni groups are reported to be funded by individual contributions from oil-rich Saudis, seeking to offset the influence of Hezbollah, the militant Shia group whose popularity in southern Lebanon was bolstered by its perceived victory in last summer’s war against Israel.

Jawad Adra, the managing partner of the Beirut-based independent research body Information International, said that the increasing polarisation was providing a fertile breeding ground for anti-Western extremism among Sunni communities around Tripoli and Sidon.

“Western countries need to be careful that their political support for Lebanon’s Sunni leaders, to offset the supposed Shia threat posed by Iran through Hezbollah, does not play into the hands of Sunni extremists,” he said.

“The growth of Sunni extremism, not just in the Palestinian camps but also in impoverished areas of Lebanon, is a ticking time-bomb that is waiting to explode, and could sweep all moderates out of its path.”
Sunday Telegraph

See also this earlier report:

Gulf Arabs boost aid to Sunni militants in Lebanon
20 Mar 2007

By David Morgan

WASHINGTON, March 20 (Reuters) – Oil-rich Saudis and other wealthy Arabs have increased private contributions to Sunni militants in Lebanon that could fuel new violence in a growing regional struggle between Sunnis and Shi’ites, experts say.

The latest flow of money began in December in an attempt to create a counterweight to the Shi’ite militant group Hezbollah, according to former U.S. intelligence officials and independent analysts who view it as part of a Saudi effort to bolster Sunni Islam in the face of growing Shi’ite activism across the Middle East and in Africa.

“There is Saudi money coming in to Sunni extremist groups with the specific intention of confronting the Shi’ites and Hezbollah in Lebanon,” said a former senior intelligence official who closely monitors the Middle East.

The former officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity, cited Saudi and Syrian officials but declined to be more specific on the source of their information.

They were also reluctant to quantify the value of the contributions in a country known for smuggling and porous borders. But one analyst said the amounts could run into the millions of dollars.

In Lebanon, which is struggling with its worst political crisis since the 1975-90 civil war, donations to emerging Sunni militant groups have also raised concerns for sectarian conflict and the potential for a new hub of anti-Western extremism.

“Lebanon is on the verge of civil war,” said As’ad AbuKhalil, a Lebanon expert at California State University.

“The danger is, you have Lebanon very likely emerging as a place where (al Qaeda) supporters and copycats can find a haven.”

Hezbollah’s success against Israel last summer has bolstered the militant group at a time when its main Shi’ite benefactor, Iran, is experiencing a renaissance of influence in the Middle East.

Sunni Arabs from the Gulf, who have been funding Sunni causes in Lebanon since the 1980s, stepped up support after the 2005 assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik al-Hariri, a Sunni leader.

In the latest influx, contributions have gone to Sunni-run charities and institutions. But experts said significant sums have also been given to militant groups in northern Lebanon, the Bekaa Valley and Palestinian refugee camps.

The recipients included Usbat al-Ansar, which the State Department describes as a Palestinian terrorist group linked to Osama bin Laden’s al Qaeda network, according to former intelligence officials and independent analysts.

Money has also gone to the Sunni group Fatah al-Islam, which was accused of bombing two buses in a Christian village near Beirut in February, they said.

Experts said loyalty to the Saudi and Al-Hariri family political agendas in Lebanon is expected in return. “The most important aim is to articulate a Sunni political agenda that is critical of the Iranian role in the region,” AbuKhalil said.

Of course, Seymour Hersh added that this was being done with the tacit approval of the Bush administration (and, in particular, the old Iran-Contra gang).

March 25th, 2007, 12:28 pm


Ford Prefect said:

Thanks t_desco, very interesting! Here is another interesting story from the Toronto Star regarding Michele Kilo and how technology is changing old practices.
(Side note: All prisoners of conscious should be set free.)

March 25th, 2007, 1:13 pm


Akbar Palace said:

Ford Prefect asks:

“As a follow up, I have three questions for you:

“1. Is Israel a secular country? Do Israelis wish to have a secular and tolerant society?”

Israel is a secular country. There is freedom of religion. Anyone can pray to whomever they want, build of house of worship, etc. Most Israelis are secular.

“2. You mentioned that “[Israel] left Lebanon and Gaza without ANY guarantees for security.“

In your opinion, did Hezbollah or Hamas have anything to do with this Israeli unilateral withdrawal?”

Absolutely. Israel was tired of paying the price of occupation as well as Israel also believed she would benefit politically from the withdraws. Has Israel benefited politically from the withdraws? IMHO, very little.

“Would Israel have withdrawn any earlier if there was no “armed” resistance?”

No. Israel did not withdraw from occupied territory after the Six Day War. Israel’s old policy was land for PEACE. Now Israel’s policy is land for Katyushas and Qassams.

“3. And lastly, as an American, do you believe that people have the right to resist occupation by all means available (including armed resistance)?”

As an American and as a human being, people have the right to resist occupation. Going by international standards for war, this does NOT include the use of TERRORISM (the willful targeting of non-combatants) and does NOT include using the civilian population for cover.

BTW – Lebanon is not occupied, and neither is Gaza.

“As I said before, irrespective of our “IP addresses”, I do not share your ideas, but, nerveless, value and respect your rational opinion. Cheers”


Norman said:

“THe good thing about G Gibran and Akbar is that they unite us Syrian , the bad thing is that they are distracting us from discussing real points important to Syria.”

BTW – Is there a way one can measure how united the Syrians are or is this just your feeling? Are there polls? Did the Syrians feel more united when the Syrian soliders returned home from Lebanon?

BTW – Can you list the “REAL points” important to Syria besides keeping Dr. Bashar in power?

March 25th, 2007, 10:06 pm


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