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 mideastwire.com)

In the March 17 issue of al-Hayat Hamidi wrote: “If the recent war between Hezbollah and Israel last summer opened cracks in the wall of isolation that America and Europe tried to build around Syria following the assassination of the ex Prime Minister Rafik Al-Hariri, then the visit by the supreme coordinator of foreign policy in the European Union Javier Solana to Damascus a few days ago opened the doors wide in front of the European-Syrian path but with conditions concerning the “development of the [Syrian] behaviour”. The European Union had re-evaluated its policies following the July war last year which led to revoking the policy of isolating Damascus. Thus Damascus was visited by the Spanish, German, Dutch, and Belgian foreign ministers as well as by the foreign policy a dvisor to the British Prime Minister Tony Blair…”

Hamidii added: “Concerning the “contradictions in the European messages [to Damascus]”, an official meeting for the foreign ministers of the European Union in Brussels was tasked with the possibility of sending Solana to Damascus. According to the information available to Al Hayat, the French foreign minister Philip Douste-Plazy announced in this meeting that the situation in Lebanon is still critical and that there are divisions in its community and in the political regime and concluded that “a settlement is necessary to correct the political regime and ratify the statute of the international tribunal on the basis of no winners, no losers”. Thus he called for sending a clear message to Syria to support the tribunal and what the Lebanese want concerning a unity government capable of operating to the end of its mandate according to the previous elections…”

Hamidi continued: “Thus Solana went on his tour which included Beirut, Riyadh, and Damascus where he met with the Syrian president Bashar Al-Assad, his deputy Farouk Al-Shar’a, and the foreign minister Walid Al-Muallem…It was noteworthy that the meetings included a session with Al-Assad which lasted for 50 minutes in which there was a detailed discussion of the Syrian-European relations…Concerning the details of the behaviour expected by Solana “for Damascus to return to the Arab ranks”, these include: “Lebanon first of all. Lebanon is an important country and is passing currently through some political troubles. It is an obligation to support stability, implement the international resolutions, and play a positive role there” in implementing resolution 1701, monitoring the Syrian Lebanese borders, and supporting the unity government.”

Hamididi added: “The second issue concerns applying pressure on Hamas to force it to take more pragmatic stances to facilitate dealing with the Palestinian track. In this context, it was noteworthy that Solana talked for the first time about the line of the 4th of June 1967 as borders to regain the Syrian Golan Heights but he considered at the same time that top priority should be given to the Palestinian track which would be followed by discussing the Syrian track. The third issue pertains to “continuing to develop the behaviour” towards Iraq and “translating talk into actions” to monitor the borders and support the political process while registering the positive developments on the Damascus-Baghdad line…What is Solana offering in return? He is working on a basket of incentives that include economic and political offerings such as signing the [Euro-Med] partnership deal, focusing on the Golan Heights and presenting aid to the Iraqi refugees…” – Al Hayat, United Kingdom

Michael Young of the Daily Star writes: "Syria's 'engagers' can't ignore Brammertz," Thursday, March 22, 2007

France Urged Israel to Invade Syria During War by Ezra HaLevi

France urged Israel to invade Syria during the war against Hizbullah this past summer.

Army Radio reported Sunday that French President Jacques Chirac contacted Prime Minister Ehud Olmert via a secret channel at the very beginning of the war in Lebanon. He informed him that France would support an Israeli invasion of Syria.

Chirac asked that Israel act to topple the Assad regime, and promised in return to block any moves against Israel within the United Nations or European Union.

"Chirac saw Syria as the primary one responsible for the [arming of Hizbullah]," Israel’s former Ambassador to France Nissim Zvili told Army Radio. "He saw Syria as directly responsible for the attempt to undermine the Lebanese regime and for the murder of [Lebanon’s former prime minister] Rafik al-Hariri.”

France administered Lebanon from 1920 until 1943, and President Chirac was a personal friend of al-Hariri’s.

Chirac warned Syria in March 2006 that destabilizing Lebanon would “trigger a response from the international community.”

The Maariv daily quoted a “senior Israeli official” who claimed that Chirac “misunderstood Israel’s interests,” which, he said, were to “end the war.”

Chirac’s proposal, tacitly supported by the US as well, according to Maariv, was discussed at several Foreign Ministry meetings.

Just last week Chirac threw his full support behind a conciliatory visit to Syria by EU Foreign Minister Javier Solana. "I back it without reservation,” Chirac said. “Europe speaks with one voice."

Mohammed Ali Atassi has written a moving tribute to Syria's most acclaimed filmmaker, Omar Amirlay: Thirteen Hours of Interrogation.

Omar Amirlay, an outspoken and prolific Syrian filmmaker and intellectual, is internationally acclaimed for his many films, and has helped put contemporary Syria on the artistic map.  So why is the Syrian government treating this cultural treasure like a common criminal?  Mohammed Ali Atassi reflects on the government’s complicated relationship with Amirlay and with the nation’s rapidly dwindling intelligentsia.   

Harry Clark in his “Thrice-Told Tales: Those Israel-Syria Peace Talks", gives an overview of the history of peace talks between Syria and Israel.

Gabriel Kolko’s work as a historian casts a giant shadow, but his recent account of “Israel, Iran and the Bush Administration” (CounterPunch, February 10/11) is open to challenge. The Israeli peace talks with Syria, which Kolko finds of “enormous significance,” are a thrice-told tale which has not yet come true, least of all because of intervention by the United States. ……”

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)


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51. 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.

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March 23rd, 2007, 5:00 am

 

52. 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?

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March 23rd, 2007, 5:54 am

 

53. 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.

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March 23rd, 2007, 6:23 am

 

54. 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.

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March 23rd, 2007, 8:59 am

 

55. 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?

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March 23rd, 2007, 10:58 am

 

56. 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؟؟؟

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March 23rd, 2007, 12:34 pm

 

57. 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.

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March 23rd, 2007, 12:50 pm

 

58. Gibran said:

AUSSAMAA,
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.
Norman,
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.

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March 23rd, 2007, 2:04 pm

 

59. 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.

http://www.tomgpalmer.com/images/President%20Bush.jpg

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March 23rd, 2007, 2:10 pm

 

60. 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

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March 23rd, 2007, 2:21 pm

 

61. 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.

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March 23rd, 2007, 2:25 pm

 

62. 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.

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March 23rd, 2007, 2:29 pm

 

63. 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?

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March 23rd, 2007, 2:37 pm

 

64. 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

By SAUL LANDAU

Damascus.

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.

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March 23rd, 2007, 2:46 pm

 

65. syrian said:

Ausamaa,

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.

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March 23rd, 2007, 3:00 pm

 

66. norman said:

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

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March 23rd, 2007, 3:00 pm

 

67. 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.

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March 23rd, 2007, 3:12 pm

 

68. Ford Prefect said:

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

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March 23rd, 2007, 3:14 pm

 

69. Gibran said:

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

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March 23rd, 2007, 3:16 pm

 

70. 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.

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March 23rd, 2007, 3:17 pm

 

71. Ford Prefect said:

3antar, yes, work smarter not harder. ;-)

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March 23rd, 2007, 3:31 pm

 

72. ausamaa said:

FP

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

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March 23rd, 2007, 3:48 pm

 

73. Ford Prefect said:

Sure deeed yall.

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March 23rd, 2007, 4:04 pm

 

74. ausamaa said:

Great, you take of youself naw

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March 23rd, 2007, 4:07 pm

 

75. 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.

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March 23rd, 2007, 4:42 pm

 

76. 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.

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March 23rd, 2007, 4:54 pm

 

77. 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”.

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March 23rd, 2007, 5:06 pm

 

78. 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

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March 23rd, 2007, 5:26 pm

 

79. Gibran said:

O’ my God. That too SAMIR?

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March 23rd, 2007, 5:38 pm

 

80. Ford Prefect said:

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

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March 23rd, 2007, 6:24 pm

 

81. majedkhaldoun said:

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

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March 23rd, 2007, 6:30 pm

 

82. ugarit said:

Ford prefect:

That would be appropriate since Steve Jobs’ father is Syrian :-)

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March 23rd, 2007, 6:40 pm

 

83. Gibran said:

Steve Job
BOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO

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March 23rd, 2007, 6:43 pm

 

84. ugarit said:

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

http://www.counterpunch.org/landau03232007.html

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.”
…..

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March 23rd, 2007, 6:52 pm

 

85. 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”.

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March 23rd, 2007, 8:10 pm

 

86. G said:

And I think this one is perfect for you Alex.

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March 23rd, 2007, 8:26 pm

 

87. Alex said:

LOL!

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!

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March 23rd, 2007, 8:38 pm

 

88. 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.

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March 23rd, 2007, 9:01 pm

 

89. 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.

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March 23rd, 2007, 9:17 pm

 

90. G said:

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

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March 23rd, 2007, 9:23 pm

 

91. Alex said:

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

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March 23rd, 2007, 9:41 pm

 

92. G said:

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

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March 23rd, 2007, 9:48 pm

 

93. 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!

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March 23rd, 2007, 10:17 pm

 

94. 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!

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March 23rd, 2007, 10:26 pm

 
 

96. 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.

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March 23rd, 2007, 10:40 pm

 

97. 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.

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March 23rd, 2007, 11:07 pm

 

98. 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.

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March 23rd, 2007, 11:07 pm

 

99. 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”.

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March 24th, 2007, 1:05 am

 

100. norman said:

Now Hisham melhim speaks the truth .

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March 24th, 2007, 2:41 am

 

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