Hamidi on Franco-Syrian Relations and Lebanon

Ibrahim Hamidi, writing in al-Hayat, reviews the politics of Syrian, French and American negotiations over the presidency in Lebanon. France offered Syria serious incentives to get Michel Suleiman confirmed as President of Lebanon. In the end, however, Syria could not order the Lebanese to comply with French demands. Indeed, Syria has no incentive to do so, even for French money and promises that other European powers would drop the isolation of Syria.
Hamidi explains how each of the three sides had different interests and acted at cross purposes arriving at the stalemate that they now find themselves in. 
دمشق أقنعت لحود قبل يومين من انتهاء ولايته بعدم تشكيل حكومة ثانية… والعاهل الأردني اقترح العماد سليمان …
رواية دمشق لتوافقاتها مع باريس في «إدارة» أزمة لبنان حتى «نضوج» رأي واشنطن

دمشق – ابراهيم حميدي     الحياة     – 01/01/07//

–> بحسب المعلومات المتوافرة، وعد الرئيس الفرنسي نيكولا ساركوزي الرئيس السوري بشار الأسد بالكثير من «الحوافز» السياسية والاقتصادية، بينها قيامه بزيارة دمشق لإعلانه رسمياً انتهاء العزلة، في حال انتخب العماد ميشال سليمان رئيساً توافقياً في الجلسة التي كانت مقررة للمجلس النيابي اللبناني في 22 كانون الأول (ديسمبر).

ويتساءل مسؤول سوري: «هل يمكن ان تعمل دمشق ضد مصالحها الوطنية وترفض هذه الحوافز؟»، قبل ان يقول لـ «الحياة»: «بالطبع لا. لكن هذا يتوقف على طبيعة الدور المتوقع من دمشق. اذا كان المقصود بالدور البنّاء ان تسهل دمشق للأكثرية احتكار السلطة وتنصيبها غالباً على المعارضة، فهذا وهم. اما اذا كان المتوقع لعب دور المسهل للوصول الى حل توافقي على أساس: لا غالب ولا مغلوب، فهذا هو الذي يجرى العمل عليه».

على هذا الاساس، رفضت دمشق فرض تسوية على المعارضة التي تطالب بتشكيل حكومة وحدة وطنية تتضمن «الثلث الضامن»، اي الحصول على 11 حقيبة مقابل 14 للأكثرية و5 لرئيس الجمهورية.

كان الاتصال الهاتفي الأخير من ساركوزي بالأسد، الثالث الذي بادر به الرئيس الفرنسي في الأسابيع الأخيرة، إضافة الى إيفاده الأمين العام للرئاسة كلود غيان والمستشار الديبلوماسي دافيد ليفيت مرتين الى دمشق. قيل بعد هذا الاتصال ان ساركوزي قال ان جلسة مجلس النواب اللبناني تلك هي «الفرصة الأخيرة» وجرى تسريب ان الاتصالات السورية – الفرنسية توقفت، غير ان المصادر السورية تفيد ان الاتصالات الهاتفية بين غيان ووزير الخارجية السوري وليد المعلم لا تزال قائمة.

وتعود الاتصالات السورية – الفرنسية الى بداية عهد ساركوزي الذي أعلن «القطيعة» مع ارث الرئيس السابق جاك شيراك، وقرر ان يختبر الأمور بنفسه من دون الاعتماد على «الإرث الشخصي» لسلفه. ومن الأمور الأخرى التي ساهمت في فتح صفحة جديدة، تنامي الاعتقاد بفشل سياسة عزل سورية وتغير الأولويات في الشرق الأوسط. تضاف الى ذلك، «نصائح» قدمها زعماء عرب وأصدقاء شخصيون لساركوزي واستمرار التعاون الأمني بين باريس ودمشق في احلك مراحل التوتر واستخدام ذلك كقناة خلفية لتبادل الرسائل.

انخراط حذر

قام الأسلوب الجديد بين البلدين على قاعدة الانخراط الحذر لبناء الثقة بحيث يقوم كل طرف بخطوة ليراقب رد فعل الآخر قبل الإقدام على خطوة جديدة: برقية تهنئة من الأسد الى ساركوزي بانتخابه رئيساً قابلها الرئيس الفرنسي ببرقية تهنئة للأسد بانتخابه رئيساً في تموز (يوليو) الماضي. تسهيل دمشق ذهاب المعارضة الى اجتماعات سان كلو في الصيف، قابلته باريس بإيفاد جان كلود كوسران مبعوث وزير الخارجية برنارد كوشنير الى دمشق في نهاية تموز الماضي لإطلاع المعلم على مسيرة هذه الحوارات.

وكانت مسيرة الانخراط تتعثر بين فينة وأخرى لدى حصول اي تطور مفاجئ في لبنان. اذ بعد اغتيال النائب انطوان غانم، اعلن كوشنير انه ألغى لقاء كان ينوي عقده مع المعلم على هامش اجتماعات الجمعية العامة للأمم المتحدة في ايلول (سبتمبر) الماضي. لكن التواصل بقي مستمراً بحيث زار كوسران دمشق في نهاية تشرين الاول (اكتوبر) الماضي. وقالت مصادر ديبلوماسية غربية ان هذه الزيارة استهدفت ثلاثة أهداف: «الأول، تقديم إيجاز الى المسؤولين السوريين في شأن نتائج زيارة كوشنير ونظيريه الإسباني ميغيل انخيل موارتينوس والايطالي ماسيمو داليما. الثاني، استئناف الحوار السوري – الفرنسي. الثالث، التمهيد للقاء المعلم وكوشنير»، على هامش مؤتمر وزراء خارجية دول جوار الموسع في اسطنبول في بداية تشرين الثاني (نوفمبر) الماضي.

كان «الرهان» السوري – الفرنسي هو التوافق الثنائي على صيغة وفرضها على الجانب الاميركي. وكان الديبلوماسيون الفرنسيون يلاحظون ان استضافة ادارة الرئيس جورج بوش المؤتمر الدولي للسلام في انابوليس تشكل «فرصة ذهبية» تساعد في اقناع واشنطن بقبول التوافق لأنها معنية بنجاح المؤتمر الدولي، وهذا يوسع هامش التحرك الفرنسي لأن إدارة بوش مشغولة بأنابوليس، في المقابل كانت دمشق تلاحظ استمرار واشنطن في دعمها خيار انتخاب رئيس بالنصف زائداً واحداً.

بدا هذا واضحاً لدى «تحذير» وزيرة الخارجية الأميركية كوندوليزا رايس من «اي خطوة ديبلوماسية من شأنها ان تقدم تنازلات للمعارضة اللبنانية الموالية لسورية من اجل حل الازمة السياسية في لبنان»، اذ ابلغت بعض محاوريها عشية اللقاء الذي كان متوقعاً بين المعلم وكوشنير في الثاني من تشرين الثاني: «هناك الكثير من الكلام الجاري عن امكان التوصل الى اتفاق، وهذا امر جيد. الا ان اي مرشح للرئاسة او اي رئيس يجب ان يلتزم استقلال لبنان وسيادته والقرارات الدولية التي وافقت عليها بيروت، كما عليه ان يلتزم موضوع المحكمة الدولية لمحاكمة قتلة رئيس الحكومة اللبناني السابق رفيق الحريري».

وقبل ان يدخل كوشنير الى اللقاء مع المعلم، تبلغ عبر سفيره في انقرة برنارد ايميه ان ساركوزي قرر ايفاد غيان وليفيت الى دمشق. وكان ذلك اول لقاء بين وزيري الخارجية السوري والفرنسي منذ اغتيال الحريري في بداية 2005.

وبحسب المعلومات، فإن لقاء كوشنير والمعلم الذي تضمن جلسة مغلقة، كان متوتراً في بعض الأحيان، اذ قال الأول: «اننا نعرف ما تفعلون في لبنان وبضرورة وقف الاغتيالات»، مقابل حزم المعلم بـ «وجوب عدم توجيه اي اتهام من دون دليل» وانه «في حال توافر دليل يمكن تقديمه عبر الاقنية الأمنية القائمة».

وباعتبار ان صورة كوشنير ليست وردية في دمشق، حرص المعلم على التعامل بمنتهى الدقة في الاجتماع الرسمي مع تفضيل للاتصالات المباشرة مع الاليزيه. ويقول أحد المسؤولين ان المعلم بدأ بسرد النقاط التوافقية بين الطرفين في وقت كان مدير المكاتب الخاصة بسام الصباغ يكتبها وراءه بعد تدقيق من كوسران. وبحسب دمشق، اتفق الوزيران على النقاط الآتية: «أولاً، مرشح توافقي يجرى انتخابه في موعده ووفق الأصول الدستورية. ثانياً، عدم قبول اي فيتو من الأقلية يمنع التوافق. ثالثاً، لا سورية ولا فرنسا لديها أسماء لمرشحين للرئاسة. رابعاً، الحل يجب ان يكون لبنانياً من دون تدخل خارجي. خامساً، اي طرف في لبنان او خارجه يقف في مواجهة اي مرشح توافقي يعني انه ضد وحدة لبنان ولا يريد الاستقرار والأمن فيه. سادساً، الرئيس الجديد الذي سيتم انتخابه بالأغلبية وبموافقة معظم الأطراف، سيتم دعمه من سورية وفرنسا».

وعلى رغم الحرص السوري، فوجئ المعلم بتصريحات كوشنير بعد اللقاء التي «تختلف جوهرياً عما اتفق عليه». وأبلغت مصادر فرنسية وقتذاك «الحياة» ان كوشنير كان «حازماً إزاء لبنان وضرورة عدم عرقلة سورية لأي توافق» وأن استمرار الحوار مرتبط بالهدوء ووقف الاغتيالات. وشرحت رأيها في النقاط التوافقية التي تم التوصل اليها، من انها تتضمن «انتخاب رئيس بأغلبية واسعة وإجراء الانتخابات في موعدها ووفق الأصول الدستورية ووجوب حصول الانتخابات وعدم حصول اي فراغ او حكومة ثانية» باعتبار ان ذلك «ليس من مصلحة سورية وفرنسا».

وتتضمن أيضاً ان يكون «انتخاب الرئيس بأغلبية واسعة، وأن الفيتو ليس الطريقة الجيدة لحل القضية اللبنانية» و «ان لا لسورية ولا لفرنسا اسماء او مرشحون للرئاسة». وأشارت المصادر الفرنسية الى ان كوشنير «لم يوافق» على فكرة سورية تفيد ان «اي طرف داخلي او خارجي، يقف ضد مرشح توافقي يعني انه ضد وحدة لبنان ولا يريد استقراره وأمنه»، ذلك في رغبة لعدم الإشارة الى واشنطن. واقترح الجانب السوري ان «الرئيس الجديد الذي سيتم انتخابه بأغلبية وبموافقة معظم الأطراف، سيتم دعمه من سورية وفرنسا».

تشدد اميركي

تعزز الاعتقاد لدى المسؤولين السوريين، سواء من خلال اللقاء السباعي (فرنسا، اميركا، الأمين العام للجامعة العربية والرباعية العربية) في اسطنبول او لقاء المعلم ورايس في الثالث من تشرين الثاني في اسطنبول، بأن الفجوة واسعة بين الموقفين السوري والأميركي إزاء حل الأزمة اللبنانية، مع مساع متعددة الأطراف لربط الانتخابات الرئاسية اللبنانية بمؤتمر انابوليس.

ارادت رايس، بحسب المعلومات، من تنظيمها «الاجتماع السباعي» ان توجه «رسالة قوية وجماعية الى سورية بأن تتعاون في الموضوع اللبناني، وانه اذا لم تتعاون ستكون مشكلة مع المجتمع الدولي». وأجريت خمس محاولات لدعوة المعلم الى هذا الاجتماع وقطع طريقه الى المطار والعودة الى اللقاء. لكنه قال: «انا لا ادعى الى لقاء في اللحظة الأخيرة. هذا موضوع لبناني يقرره اللبنانيون. هذا هو الاحترام الحقيقي لسيادة لبنان واستقلاله».

وعن لقاء المعلم ورايس، كان مستشار وزيرة الخارجية ديفيد ساترفيلد ابلغ «الحياة» ان رايس «قالت بوضوح ان اختيار الرئيس اللبناني هو خيار لبناني من دون تدخل او تهديد خارجيين. رئيس لبنان يجب ان يكون ملتزماً سيادة لبنان واستقلاله والتزامات لبنان والقرارات الدولية 1559 و1701 والمحكمة الدولية» وانها قالت: «هناك فرصة لسورية كي تتخذ القرارات المناسبة والجميع يراقب تصرفاتها».

في المقابل قالت مصادر سورية ان المعلم شدد على وجوب «الا يكون لسورية ولا لأميركا مرشح رئاسي»، مؤكداً ان «من لا يريد التوافق لا يريد مصلحة لبنان واستقراره». وأضاف المعلم: «هي قالت لي: نحن مع الأكثرية ونعترف بشرعية حكومة (فؤاد) السنيورة وان تنتخب الأغلبية رئيساً ينفذ القرارات الدولية. وهكذا نرى الديموقراطية: الأكثرية تحكم الأقلية»، في حين شدد المعلم على ان «النظام اللبناني يقوم على التوافق» وأن في لبنان «ديموقراطية توافقية» وأن «من يريد الحل يجب ان يقف على مسافة واحدة من جميع الأطراف».

جسر بين دمشق وواشنطن

–> أمام هذه الفجوة في موقفي واشنطن ودمشق من جهة وبروز الرابط السري بين انابوليس والرئاسة اللبنانية، كانت زيارة غيان وليفيت الى دمشق في الرابع من تشرين الثاني حاسمة في رسم «خريطة الطريق» نحو المستقبل وادارة الأزمة اللبنانية بأقل الخسائر. ومن اكثر الذين لعبوا دوراً في هذا الربط، هو العاهل الأردني الملك عبدالله الثاني الذي حملت زيارته دمشق في تشرين الثاني الكثير من المعاني. وقيل انه كان بين اوائل من اقترحوا ترشيح العماد سليمان رئيساً مقبولاً من دمشق مقابل المشاركة في انابوليس، بحيث لم تكن صدفة ان الوفد اللبناني سمع خلال وجوده في انابوليس بترشيح سليمان.

وبحسب المعلومات السورية، كان مضمون رسالة ساركوزي الى الأسد التي نقلها غيان وليفيت «يتحدث عن رغبة فرنسا بالتعاون مع سورية لتسهيل التوافق اللبناني والحوار بين اللبنانيين، إضافة الى آفاق تطور العلاقات الثنائية بين سورية وفرنسا وبين دمشق وبقية الدول الأوروبية والمجتمعين الدولي والعربي». وقال المعلم ان جواب الأسد كان ان دمشق «لا تنوي عمل شيء لأن ليست لديها اتصالات مع كل الأطراف اللبنانيين»، مشيراً الى ان غيان وليفيت «أكدا ان لفرنسا اتصالات مع كل الأطراف وأن قرار باريس هو الوقوف على مسافة واحدة من كل الأطراف».

بحسب دمشق، أسفرت الزيارة عن الاتفاق على ثلاثة اطر عامة: «أولاً، العلاقات السورية – الفرنسية ليست مرتبطة بطرف ثالث مهما يكن. الثاني، سورية تتعاون مع فرنسا اذا تأكدنا من ان أميركا لن تتدخل وتعرقل الحل المنشود. الثالث، ان سورية في تعاونها تهدف الى تشجيع اللبنانيين على الحوار في ما بينهم لأن الحل يجب ان يكون لبنانياً وينطلق من قاعدة التوافق». بل يذهب بعض المصادر الى ان الجانب السوري أشار الى انه «بمجرد دخول أميركا على الخط، فإن دمشق ستنسحب لأن التدخل الأميركي يستهدف فرض تسوية غير توافقية او تخريب التسوية».

وفهم ان الآلية انطلقت من انه باعتبار ان دمشق لا تقيم علاقات مع جميع الأطراف على عكس فرنسا وانه يجب ان يتوافق المسيحيون اولاً على مرشحيهم، على باريس ان تقنع البطريرك بطرس صفير بتقديم قائمة من المرشحين، ثم يأتي دور سورية بالعمل لإنجاز توافق لدى حلفائها في المعارضة، اي «حزب الله» و «أمل» والآخرين، عدا تكتل «الإصلاح والتغيير» بزعامة ميشال عون لأن «لا اتصال مباشراً بيننا وبينه».

حمل ساركوزي هذه «الآلية» و «المبادئ» الى الرئيس الاميركي جورج بوش في لقائهما بعد يومين من زيارة مبعوثيه دمشق، للحصول على مباركة للجهود الفرنسية – السورية لحل الازمة. وبحسب المعلومات أجريت ترجمة «المباركة» الأميركية في الحياد وعدم التدخل بعدم ايفاد مبعوثين الى بيروت والإدلاء بتصريحات قد يستغلها فرقاء لبنانيون لقطع الطريق على التسوية.

وبينما كان يجرى تصعيد خطابي من الاكثرية باحتمال اللجوء الى خيار انتخاب الرئيس بالنصف زائداً واحداً ومن المعارضة باللجوء الى تشكيل الرئيس السابق اميل لحود حكومة ثانية، عملت كل من دمشق وباريس على «تسويات صغيرة» بحيث يسقط كل طرف خياره التصعيدي ويتفق على «الفراغ البارد» او «المنظم» في انتظار الوصول الى مرشح توافقي.

إقناع لحود

وعلم ان دمشق أقنعت الرئيس اميل لحود قبل يومين من انتهاء ولايته في 23 تشرين الثاني الماضي بضرورة عدم اتخاذ خطوات تصعيدية وعدم تشكيل حكومة ثانية كما كان وعد قبل اشهر. ووضع هذا في خانة الجهود السورية للوصول الى توافق والحفاظ على أمن لبنان واستقراره وتسهيل حصول توافقات.

وكانت الاتصالات بين غيان والمعلم تجرى يومياً، بحيث يطلع الاول الثاني على اتصالاته مع الدول العربية مثل السعودية ومصر والفرقاء اللبنانيين مقابل اطلاع المعلم لغيان على اتصالاته مع مبعوثي رئيس البرلمان نبيه بري و «حزب الله» لتجاوز العقبات و «تسهيل الحل وليس فرضه».

ويروى ان مسؤولاً فرنسياً علق لدى وصوله نبأ ان العماد سليمان سيكون مرشحاً توافقياً ان «سورية انتصرت». ثم كان «الخبر الجيد» للطرفين لدى توصل كوشنير خلال لقائه بري ورئيس كتلة «المستقبل» سعد الحريري الى ورقة المبادئ. ويقول المعلم انها تضمنت «أولاً، انتخاب رئيس توافقي هو العماد سليمان من خلال تعديل الدستور. ثانياً، تشكيل حكومة وحدة وطنية بحسب التمثيل في الكتل البرلمانية. ثالثاً، تعديل قانون الانتخابات في شكل عادل ومنصف»، الأمر الذي عبر عنه كوشنير بالقول في ختام زيارته الخامسة انه حقق «نصف انتصار».

واصطدم تنفيذ المبادئ – بحسب المعلم – بعقبتين تمثلتا بآلية تعديل الدستور وتركيبة الحكومة و «بدا واضحاً ان الخلاف ليس قانونياً بل ان عوامل سياسية تقف وراءه، ذلك ان هناك رأيين: رأي يعترف بحكومة فؤاد السنيورة، ورأي لا يعترف بها ولا بوزرائها ويعتبر انها حكومة غير شرعية لأنها حكومة تستبعد طائفة كاملة من تركيبتها».

ونتيجة استمرار الاتصالات جرى حل عقبة آلية تعديل الدستور بفضل اقتراح من المحامي النائب بهيج طبارة، غير ان تركيبة الحكومة بقيت عقبة.

وبحسب اعتقاد المسؤول السوري، فإن «الأزمة في لبنان تعود الى اكثر من عام والاعتصامات موجودة في الساحات. ونرى ان الاتفاق على تشكيل حكومة وحدة بين الأطراف اللبنانيين مهم كأهمية انتخاب رئيس جديد، لأنه سيؤدي الى تفعيل كل المؤسسات الدستورية وينهي الاعتصامات ويمهد الطريق أمام حوار وطني لبناني شامل»، ما يعني ترجمة ذلك بحكومة تضمن للمعارضة الثلث الضامن. وأوضح المعلم: «اذا أخذنا نسبة نواب المعارضة، فهي 45 في المئة ونسبة الاكثرية هي 55 في المئة. هذا يعني حسابياً: 17 وزيراً للأكثرية و13 وزيراً للمعارضة مع مراعاة حصة رئيس الجمهورية التي تؤخذ من الطرفين بحسب هذه النسبة».

بوش يلتقي معارضين

وبحسب دمشق، بينما كان التواصل مع باريس بالغاً «لحظة حاسمة» ومتجاوزاً الكثير من المطبات، تدخلت واشنطن بإيفاد مساعد وزيرة الخارجية ديفيد ولش ومساعد مسؤول الأمن القومي إليوت ابرامز، مع بروز تزامن بين تصريحات الرئيس بوش من ان «صبره نفد» من الأسد وتسريبات صحافية من ساركوزي انه وجّه «انذاراً» للرئيس السوري.

–> اللافت ايضاً، ان بوش استقبل في بداية كانون الأول ثلاثة معارضين سوريين لنحو ساعة بحضور كبار مساعديه، بالتزامن مع إعلان دعمه «إعلان دمشق» المعارض الذي كان تشكل بين قوى معارضة في تشرين الأول (اكتوبر) العام 2005، عندما كان هناك كلام أميركي وأوروبي عن «تغيير النظام» في دمشق، إضافة الى عقبات امام وضع الجولان على مؤتمر المتابعة المقرر في موسكو، وفق ما اقترح في أنابوليس.

كشف تراكم هذه التطورات، ميل الميزان في واشنطن مجدداً الى معارضي الانخراط مع دمشق بعدما كانت كفة مؤيدي الحوار برزت على خلفية مشاركة سورية في انابوليس. كما ساهمت التصريحات العلنية في ترسيخ الاعتقاد بأن عقد «صفقة» في شأن لبنان لم يحن بعد وأن هذا الأمر معقد جداً، على الأقل مع إدارة الرئيس بوش. (علماً ان واشنطن شجعت وزير الخارجية العراقي هوشيار زيباري على زيارة دمشق للتعبير عن تقدير جهود سورية الامنية والسياسية).

وجاءت تصريحات نائب الرئــيس فاروق الشرع خلال مؤتمر فروع «الجبهة الوطنية التقدمية»، وعلم ان مسؤولين فرنسيين سألوا نظراءهم السوريين عن تفسيرهم لقوله ان حلفاء سورية اقوى من اي وقت مضى مع ذكر العماد عون في رأس قائمة «الحلفاء»، ما اعتبرته باريس تناقضاً مع قول المعلم ان لا اتصالات مع عون. غير ان الجواب، بحسب مسؤول سوري، كان ان رئيس الجمهورية هو من يرسم السياسة الخارجية السورية وان وزير الخارجية هو من ينفذها.

في ظروف التصعيد الخطابي الأميركي وبعد زيارة ولش وابرامز وتسريبات فرنسية تصعيدية، عقد المعلم مؤتمراً صحافياً شرح خلفيات الاتصالات السورية – الفرنسية. وتساءل: «ماذا يريد ولش في زيارته بيروت؟ ماذا يريد من إعلانه وقوف أميركا مع الأكثرية في اي قرار تتخذه ثم يطالب بإجراء انتخابات بالسرعة الممكنة؟». التفسير السوري هو ان ادارة بوش «ليست مع التوافق بين اللبنانيين وتريد ان تحتكر الاكثرية القرار السياسي في لبنان».

وباعتبار ان المسؤولين السوريين يتذكرون انهم اتفقوا مع ساركوزي على «تحييد الموقف الاميركي المعطل للوفاق»، «فوجئوا» باستضافة باريس اجـــتماعاً بين رايـــــس وكوشنيــر والامــين العام للامم المتحدة بان كي مون ووزراء عرب، خصوصاً وسط تجــاهله «دعم الــتوافق والقول ان الدول تقف على مسافة واحدة من اللبنانيين».

وصلت الامور الى حافة التصعيد وقطع الجهود وكأنها بدأت بالعودة الى سابق عهدها، اذ ذكّر مسؤولون سوريون بالسنوات الماضية التي شهدت محاولات لفرض عزلة على سورية، فقالوا: «ان سورية تعرضت الى موجة ضغوط هائلة من شيراك والغرب وبعض العرب، لكنها صبرت لأن المراد من تلك الضغوط لم يكن يعكس قناعات سورية ومصالحها»… وفق تعريف دمشق الذي يعطي الأولوية للمسألة اللبنانية.

هذا كان قبل سنوات، فكيف الآن، حيث الوضع السوري الإقليمي احسن ووضع إدارة بوش اعقد، وفي الاليزيه ساركوزي وليس شيراك. وزاد المسؤول: «ان الاعتقاد بأن الدور السوري البنّاء يعني ان نقوم بالضغط على المعارضة لتلبية موقف الأكثرية ويسهل لها احتكار السلطة، هو وهم. فسورية، أولاً، لن تضغط بل تشجع وتسهل. ثانياً، ان موقف المعارضة هو موقف مشروع إذ لا يطالبون بأكثر مما يمثلون في مجلس النواب».

وأرفق ذلك بمساعي دمشق لاستمرار التواصل من أجل الوصول الى استمرار تحييد الدور الأميركي.

وعلم ان غيان اتصل أمس مرتين بالمعلم، وذلك بعد تصريحات ساركوزي في القاهرة وتلويحه بالمحكمة الدولية وقطع الاتصالات، ما هدد بـ «إغلاق الأبواب» بين دمشق وباريس. ولا شك ان بقاء التصعيد الأميركي في الخطابات الإعلامية، خصوصاً في حال زار بوش بيروت بعد أيام، يترك حل الأزمة اللبنانية رهناً بـ «نضوج» الظروف في الشرق الأوسط وبين واشنطن ودمشق لتسوية تنعكس في لبنان.

Comments (43)


1. observer said:

Al Hayat tends to be pro Saudi. This report is interesting as it shows that all players are totally amoral when it comes to Lebanon. I hope Honest Patriot can learn from this and see that “civilized” players can be dirty indeed.

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January 2nd, 2008, 2:05 pm

 

2. norman said:

Syria retaliates, says it ends talks with France about Lebanese presidential vote crisis

The Associated Press
Wednesday, January 2, 2008
DAMASCUS, Syria: Syria has decided to stop talks with France over finding a solution to end Lebanon’s presidential vote deadlock, Syrian Foreign Minister Walid al-Moallem said Wednesday.

The measure — a tit-for-tat by Damascus just three days after French President Nicolas Sarkozy said he was ending talks with Syria over the Lebanese deadlock — not only further dents long-standing ties between France and Syria, but also indicates that Lebanon’s crisis is nowhere near a quick resolution.

“Syria has decided to stop Syrian-French cooperation to solve the Lebanese crisis,” al-Moallem said at a news conference in Damascus. “It seems that the French have wanted to hold us responsible for their failure to convince the (anti-Syrian Lebanese parliamentary) majority to accept a French plan” for a solution.

Al-Moallem also accused the United States of obstructing a solution to the deadlock.

Lebanon’s Western-backed government and pro-Syrian opposition have been unable to break a deadlock over filling the presidential post, left vacant after pro-Syrian President Emile Lahoud’s term ended on Nov. 23 with no successor chosen.

To elect a successor, the Lebanese parliament must convene but the pro-Syria opposition has been boycotting repeatedly scheduled assembly sessions, leaving the parliament short of a two-thirds quorum needed for the vote.

Many Western countries and Lebanon’s anti-Syrian parliamentary majority have accused Damascus of interfering in the process — a claim Syria denies.

Sarkozy, during talks in Cairo on Sunday with Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak said France wouldn’t talk with Syria until Damascus showed a willingness to let Lebanon elect a new president. At the time, Mubarak also urged Syria to exert influence on its allies in Lebanon’s opposition to facilitate the election of a Lebanese president.

France, Lebanon’s former colonial ruler, has led the international effort to mediate between feuding Lebanese politicians and has consistently implored the Syrians to cooperate.

Sarkozy spoke by telephone with Syrian President Bashar Assad as recently as the beginning of December to urge him to “facilitate” the Lebanese vote.

Al-Moallem said Syria and France have agreed from the beginning that a solution in Lebanon should be based on a “consensus” among rival factions — one that includes the election of a “consensus” president, a national unity government, a new electoral law and neutralizing the U.S. role in Lebanon which, he said, “obstructs a national Lebanese reconciliation.”

Syria was surprised by Sarkozy’s statement “despite the efforts Syria has exerted over the past few weeks … and despite the flexibility shown by the opposition to facilitate reaching a consensus,” al-Moallem said.

“The American interference in Lebanon is clear-cut, with deep effects,” he said.

The remark was an allusion to U.S. President George W. Bush’s remarks last month that he has lost patience with Assad, who the American leader said was “interfering in Lebanese politics.”

Bush also for the first time openly urged Lebanon’s anti-Syrian lawmakers to push through their own choice for president if necessary, to resolve the long deadlock that has become Lebanon’s worst political crisis since the end of the 1975-90 civil war.

This likely additionally irked the Syrians.

Al-Moallem said Syria was offered political “incentives” — such as a visit by the French president to Damascus — if it exerted pressure on the Lebanese opposition to facilitate the presidential vote.

“But Syria refused to pressure the opposition. We know that the (Lebanese) opposition will not accept pressure from anyone,” he said.

The Syrian minister appealed to rival Lebanese factions to resume dialogue to reach “a consensus solution, away from any foreign interference.”

Lebanese parliament majority and the opposition have agreed to back Army Commander Gen. Michel Suleiman as a compromise presidential candidate, but the process has doubly been complicated — by the fact that parliament has not convened, despite 11 scheduled sessions since September, and also because the opposition has now come up with new conditions, asking that for them to participate in the parliament vote, the ruling majority must agree to a new unity government that would give opposition veto power over major decisions.

Syria effectively controlled Lebanon for almost three decades but was forced to withdraw its troops in 2005 after the assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri.

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Notes:

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Copyright © 2008 The International Herald Tribune | http://www.iht.com

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January 2nd, 2008, 2:16 pm

 

3. Alex said:

Sarkozy And The Syrian Regime
Randa Takieddine
2 January 2008
Al Hayat Newspaper
The year 2008 started with an announcement by President Nicolas Sarkozy from Cairo on New Year’s Eve that he and his aides have severed contacts with the Syrian regime as long as Lebanon remains without a conciliatory president. This was followed by a speedy Syrian response through the SANA agency reporting that French presidential palace secretary general Claude Gueante had contacted Walid al-Muallem. Syria’s minister of information then denied Sarkozy’s announcement as if he is more informed than the French president about France’s continued efforts to work with Syria.
The matter of fact is that Gueant called Al-Muallem to inform him that the French initiative has been stalled as a result of France’s disappointment and its patience reaching its limit. Sarkozy frankly made it clear in front of the Egyptian president that he had no regrets for speaking with Assad. His initiative was well-intentioned and he truly made every effort to resolve the Lebanese crisis and convince Syria that it was in its interest to recognize Lebanon’s independence. However, the Syrian games pushed him over the edge, and hence his statement in Cairo was expressive, frank and clear. He wanted a conciliatory president for Lebanon. An agreement had been reached over General Michel Sleiman who in principle was approved of by all sides. However, Syria’s allies eventually started to lay down impossible conditions to prevent him from reaching the presidency.

General Michel Sleiman was not a candidate against Syria. He was always on good terms with Syria to the point that the Syrian president had assured his support for Sleiman’s presidency to more than a visitor. However, among the many acquainted with Sleiman in the Arab world, including a prominent Arab minister who is very familiar with Lebanon, describe him as a patriot whose loyalty for Lebanon is above all and that he not only refuses the conditions imposed by Damascus’s allies, but that he is also upset with the opposition and its continued obstruction. For example, when a major ally of Syria presented the opposition’s demand of the right to name the commander in chief and army security personnel, Sleiman rejected preemptive conditions and demanded that the discussion of such issue take place following his inauguration. Since then, Syria has been shedding suspicions upon Sleiman as a candidate because he would not be another Emil Lahoud. After all, Syria is looking forward to the return of another Lahoud who would effectively bring Syria back to Lebanon with full powers.

Hence, the obstruction of Sleiman’s inauguration continued. Speaker Nabih Berri who continues to shut down the parliament as the Egyptian president said and who continues to postpone the election session one week after another, is simply implementing Damascus’s plan. France has attempted to convince Syria to leave Lebanon elect its president. The new French president, was unfamiliar with Middle Eastern politics despite the fact that he is surrounded by a skilled diplomatic team including ambassador Jean-David Levitte, a top diplomat who represented France at the United Nations and then in Washington when resolution 1559 was adopted, and also an expert on Middle Eastern politics. Yet Sarkozy wanted to see for himself if Syria would respond to the French initiative through its allies in Lebanon and through its obstructive games.

French foreign minister Bernard Kouchner, a close friend of the president, was the first to realize these realities despite the face that had attempted from the beginning to bring all sides in Lebanon together. However, he realized that the assassinations continued and understood the real sources of obstruction, and like his president, he speaks frankly and openly away from the banality of wooden language. He condemned the Syrian obstruction and realized that openness toward this regime was futile, especially as Syria offered nothing in return for the international boost that it received from France. All this led to Sarkozy’s conclusion that he had tried but was let down by Syrian insincerity.

For the first time, the French president tied the formation of the international tribunal with pressures on Syria since he is aware that this remains Damascus’s obsession. Sarkozy wastes no time since he is in haste to find solutions, to implement his reforms, and to get what he was promised. He has no appreciation for those who are dishonest with him, or disappoint him or obstruct his efforts. The Syrian regime takes its time and is determined to maintain the void in Lebanon, probably until the upcoming parliamentary elections in the hope of installing General Michel Aoun as president who remains its only candidate and who is seen by Syria’s allies in Lebanon as the only guarantor of a return of Syria’s complete power in Lebanon.

The question laid in front of the conference for Arab foreign ministers called for by Amro Moussa is: should the Arab summit be held in Cairo, the headquarters of the Arab League, instead of Damascus, especially given the absence of a Lebanese president and the lack of Arab unanimity over holding the conference in the first place? It is difficult to imagine holding the conference in Damascus without a president in Lebanon. Sarkozy visits Saudi Arabia on January 13 and meets the Saudi king and the prince crown. It is likely that the Lebanese issue will dominate their talks just as it did during Sarkozy’s visit to President Mubarak in Egypt.

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January 2nd, 2008, 3:39 pm

 

4. Alex said:

Randa claims that Syria does not was Sleiman as president because he is not going to be taking orders from Damascus, but General Aoun would.

However, among the many acquainted with Sleiman in the Arab world, including a prominent Arab minister who is very familiar with Lebanon, describe him as a patriot whose loyalty for Lebanon is above all and that he not only refuses the conditions imposed by Damascus’s allies, but that he is also upset with the opposition and its continued obstruction.

The Syrian regime takes its time and is determined to maintain the void in Lebanon, probably until the upcoming parliamentary elections in the hope of installing General Michel Aoun as president who remains its only candidate and who is seen by Syria’s allies in Lebanon as the only guarantor of a return of Syria’s complete power in Lebanon.

I doubt she is this blind in reading people’s characters! … Michel Aoun will reliably and consistently take orders from Bashar!

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January 2nd, 2008, 3:50 pm

 

5. idaf said:

Josh,
I think this post needs an update after Muallem’s press conference. The French version (AFP) of Muallem’s press conference story has more interesting details. According to him, Sarkozy failed to pressure Hariri to accept a finalized joint French-Syria plan and wanted to scapegoat Syria for this failure:

Muallem: “On December 28, Syria and France reached agreement on a comprehensive settlement in Lebanon… providing for the election of a consensus president, the formation of a government of national unity in which every faction would be represented according to its political weight, and the drawing up of a fair electoral law,” he said.

“This plan was submitted to the (governing) majority who accepted it.

“After Mr Sarkozy’s statement, Mr Gueant called me on December 31 to tell me that (France) had been unable to sell the deal we had agreed on to Saad Hariri.

“I rang Mr Gueant back in the afternoon and he told me that France had decided to break off contacts.

“He told me France was unhappy with the fact that (Syria’s) official SANA news agency had divulged the contents of the telephone calls. I retorted that Syria had nothing to hide and was not ashamed of its position.”
..
Muallem mocked Sarkozy’s call saying it flew in the face of repeated Western demands for Syria to keep out of its smaller neighbour’s affairs.

“They keep asking us not to intervene in Lebanon but at the same they ask us to use our influence with our Lebanese allies,” the minister complained.

“We’re not the only people who enjoy influence in Lebanon. Why don’t they use theirs?” he asked.

“For Syria to put pressure on the opposition so that the majority can impose its hegemony is unacceptable.”

Full story here: Syria retaliates against France on Lebanon

Also, don’t miss: US should endorse demand for an international inquiry into Benazir’s killing

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January 2nd, 2008, 3:57 pm

 

6. AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Alex,
So is your position still that France and Syria are on speaking terms or perhaps have you changed your mind in the last few days?
Do you still believe the Syrians did not lie about agreeing to free activists in the meeting with Spector and Kennedy?
Do you still think Syria wants Sleiman as president?

Aren’t you pleasanly surprised that the international community is standing up against Syrian bullying in Lebanon? Let’s see how this plays out. I feel Lebanon will be be the undoing of Asad. People there do not fear the Syrians any more, and without fear, a mafia like the Syrian regime has nothing.

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January 2nd, 2008, 4:07 pm

 

7. Alex said:

(XIN) Roundup: Syria hits back at France over Lebanon
2008-01-02 10:58 (New York)

DAMASCUS, Jan 2, 2008 (Xinhua via COMTEX) — Syrian Foreign Minister Walid al-
Muallem on Wednesday hit back at France in their row over the political crisis
in Lebanon, saying his country has decided to suspend contacts with Paris in
this regard.

“Syria has decided to stop cooperation with France on the Lebanese crisis,”
Muallem told reporters at a press conference.

Muallem’s remarks came three days after French President Nicolas Sarkozy said on
Sunday that Paris will have no more contact with Syria until Damascus shows
sincerity in letting Lebanon choose a consensus president.

Sarkozy said during a visit to Cairo that it’s time for Syria to show proof of
goodwill and take action instead of paying lip service to help solve the
Lebanese crisis.

The Syrian top diplomat expressed astonishment over the statement of Sarkozy,
saying that the French were trying to blame Syria and the Damascus-supported
Lebanese opposition for the failure of international efforts to resolve the
Lebanese crisis.

“We have listened with amazement to the French president in a press conference
in Cairo who held Syria and the Lebanese opposition responsible for the failure,
despite the efforts by Syria, which are well-known to France, and the
flexibility shown by the opposition to facilitate a reconciliatory solution,”
said Muallem.

He then held Lebanon’s Western-backed government for the failure of a settlement
agreement and accused the United States of obstructing a solution to the
deadlock.

The Syrian top diplomat disclosed that just two days before Sarkozy’s comments,
Syria and France reached an agreement on a comprehensive settlement in Lebanon,
including the election of a consensus president, the formation of a government
of national unity in which every faction would be represented according to its
political weight, and the drawing up of a fair electoral law.

The framework agreed upon in the first meeting between President Bashar Al-Assad
and French envoy Claude Gueant also included neutralizing the U.S. role in
Lebanon, the minister said.

But the French later revealed that they could not sell the deal, which had been
vetoed by the head of the pro-government bloc in the Lebanese parliament Saad
Hariri, and the role of the U.S. administration was not neutralized thus, said
Muallem.

He also underlined Syria’s role in concluding a settlement based on accord,
coexistence and partnership among all sectors of the Lebanese people in a bid to
secure Lebanon’s security and stability.

These efforts stumbled regarding the formation of a national government since
the ruling majority rejected an opposition share in the government equal to
their share in the parliament, added Muallem.

Muallem continued that Sarkozy’s statements in Cairo revealed that the French
efforts with Saad Hariri and other politicians to accept the French project had
failed.

“It seems that the French wanted to hold us responsible for their failure to
persuade the majority to accept their project,” he complained.

Meanwhile, Muallem said that Syria refused to pressure its allies in the
Lebanese opposition, mainly the Shiite movement Hezbollah, to accept a solution
it thinks could lead to instability in Lebanon.

“Syria has refused to put pressure on the opposition and the opposition would
not accept pressure anyhow,” Muallem said.

It was the second time in two weeks that the Syrian foreign minister made
statements on Syrian-French cooperation over the Lebanese crisis.

On Dec. 20, Muallem clarified Syria’s contacts with France at a rare press
conference on the position over Lebanese presidential election crisis, saying
Sarkozy sent two envoys here in the first place to ask Syria’s cooperation.

“The Syrian-French cooperation started according to a framework, which means
that Syrian-French ties are not linked to a third side and that Syria cooperates
with France if it is sure the U.S. doesn ‘t interfere or obstruct the aspired
solution,” Muallem said.

Although expressing regret that the French didn’t show commitment to remain away
of the U.S. role which he said actually disrupted the Syrian-French approach to
find a solution, Muallem still pledged to continue contacts with France to reach
a consensus president at that time.

Lebanon has been without a president since Nov. 23 when Emile Lahoud stepped
down without a successor. The sharply divided Lebanese parliament has delayed
the elections for 11th times without a consensus.

France has been leading efforts to mediate a settlement between the
Western-backed governing coalition and the opposition, led by groups with close
ties to Damascus.

Syria has been accused of meddling in the internal affairs of Lebanon, which
Syria has categorically denied.

Copyright 2008 XINHUA NEWS AGENCY.

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January 2nd, 2008, 4:16 pm

 

8. idaf said:

After Muallem’s press conference and Syria’s “retaliation”, as the Syrian saying goes, “el-le3eb sar 3al-makshoof”. Hassan Nasrallah’s interview in few hours time (9:00PM Lebanon/Syria time) on Lebanese NBN TV should be interesting. He will dedicate it to internal Lebanese politics.

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January 2nd, 2008, 4:19 pm

 

9. Alex said:

Here is the attitude in Damascus (since late December): If the French and Americans decide to confront Damascus in Lebanon … we’ll wait and do nothing, but our allies will… and eventually the French will understand our position.

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January 2nd, 2008, 4:27 pm

 

10. EHSANI2 said:

Dr. Landis,

“Tawafok” and compromise keeps being touted. Confrontation and a winner (ya ghaleb ya maghloob) have to emerge if Lebanon were to get out of this predicament.

Thus far, Syria is being asked to “help” but is being offered nil in return. I am of course assuming that an offer by Sarkozy to “visit” Damascus is included in that nil calculation.

Assuming that this impasse will be solved via the “ya ghaleb ya maghloob” principal, it is fair to assume that Syria holds the Ace of the deck.

Hezbollah’s military superiority on the ground will be devastating should the above scenario unfold.

The leadership in Damascus thought long and hard about how to reply to Sarkozy’s press conference. The final answer was delivered today and it is not what the French President would have liked to hear. France wants to play hardball with Damascus now. Rather than flinching, the young Syrian President has just accepted the challenge and declared that the “game is on”.

The ball is now in the court of France and the U.S. to show what they can do. Bashar need not think about the next step too hard. Damascus has planned for this day long ago. The X’s and the O’s have already been crossed many times over.

Syria is unlikely to wield. She has planned for this for years. The game is indeed now on. If I were a betting man, I would not be too sure that I would bet against Damascus.

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January 2nd, 2008, 5:10 pm

 

11. Alex said:

Two more interesting quotes.

Mouallem said in his news conference:

“those who want a solution should speak to General Aoun, not only to Syria”

General Sleiman said: “the Lebanese army’s role does not change with circumstances. We remain focused on defending Lebanon from the Israeli enemy”

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January 2nd, 2008, 5:30 pm

 

12. AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Did Bashar plan for the Israeli attack on his nuclear reactor?

What is the Bashar plan for a total European and US ban on Syrian banks or banks working with Syria?

What is his plan to adding electricity capacity to Syria without the help of European or US companies?

What is his plan for the tribunal?

Bashar is over confident. This time the struggle will also happen on Syrian soil and the price for Asad’s brinkmanship may be high.
But I agree, Asad will stay in power, it is the Syrian people that will suffer. After all, Mugabe is still in power while Zimbabwe has been reduced to ruins.

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January 2nd, 2008, 5:33 pm

 

13. Alex said:

Egyptian Pipeline to Reach Turkey in 2009, Syria’s Dardari Says
2008-01-02 09:05 (New York)

By Ali Berat Meric and Ayla Jean Yackley
Jan. 2 (Bloomberg) — A pipeline carrying Egyptian natural gas
to Turkey across Syria and Jordan will start operating in the first
half of 2009, according to Syria’s deputy prime minister for
economic affairs.
Some 62 kilometers (39 miles) of the pipeline must still be
built, Abdallah Dardari told reporters at a joint news conference
with his Turkish counterpart Nazim Ekren today. Syria will hold an
auction for the contract to build the remaining section, he said.
Egypt, Africa’s second-largest gas producer after Algeria, is
seeking to reach European markets by expanding a pipeline to Jordan
that opened in 2003. OAO Stroitransgaz, a unit of Russia’s OAO
Gazprom, began building the 540-kilometer, $140 million section
across Syria to Turkey in April 2006.
Turkey is positioning itself as an energy hub for Middle
Eastern supplies and Western markets. It imports almost all of the
natural gas it uses from Russia and Iran and wants to diversify its
sources for the fuel. It began importing Azeri gas at the end of
2006.
Dardari also said Syria wants Turkey to release more water
from the Euphrates river, whose headwaters are in Turkey. Syria has
asked Turkey to renegotiate a 1987 treaty that guarantees it 500
cubic meters a second of Euphrates water.
Ekren said any additional release would be based on weather
conditions. Should there be a surplus of rainfall this year, Turkey
may allow more water flows to Syria, the Turkish minister said.

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January 2nd, 2008, 5:49 pm

 

14. Alex said:

XIN) Turkey, Syria keen to boost economic ties
2008-01-02 07:32 (New York)

ANKARA, Jan 2, 2008 (Xinhua via COMTEX) — Turkish State Minister Nazim Ekren
and visiting Syrian Deputy Prime Minister for Economic Affairs Abdallah
al-Dardari held talks on Wednesday to promote economic ties.

Ekren said bilateral relations between the two countries progressed considerably
over the past years after mutual visits by Turkish and Syrian prime ministers.

“Today we will discuss with our Syrian counterpart concrete steps to boost
further bilateral relations, and I hope our talks will yield positive results
for businessmen and peoples of the two countries,” Ekren told reporters.

For his part, al-Dardari said that both Syria and Turkey worked to preserve
regional stability and security.

He said his government aimed at improving air, sea and land transportation
facilities, adding that a Syrian-Turkish economic forum meeting is scheduled for
April.

Al-Dardari also said that a pipeline project between Turkey and Syria, which
would carry Egyptian natural gas, will be completed by mid 2009.

Copyright 2008 XINHUA NEWS AGENCY.

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January 2nd, 2008, 5:50 pm

 

15. Seeking the Truth said:

Syria and France reached an agreement on a comprehensive settlement in Lebanon, including the election of a consensus president, the formation of a government of national unity in which every faction would be represented according to its political weight, and the drawing up of a fair electoral law.
Why is this not a reasonable compromise?

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January 2nd, 2008, 6:52 pm

 

16. Friend in America said:

Have there been any comments on this story?

MADRID (AFP) – Syria’s secret service has reportedly threatened Spanish soldiers in Lebanon in a bid to block the extradition of suspected arms dealer Monzer Al-Kassar to the United States.

The Spanish intelligence service, according to a memo cited by the newspaper El Mundo, fears that troops on UN deployment in south-east Lebanon could be targeted if the Spanish cabinet ratify a judicial verdict and send Kassar to the US.

General Assef Schawkat, chief of Syrian military intelligence, wrote to his opposite number in Spain: “If you think we are going to ignore the affront inflicted by north-American henchmen on our brother (Kassar), you don’t really know us and [you] are no friends of the Syrian people.”

Dated end-July, the note also refers to Schawkat delivering a thinly-veiled threat during a discussion with Spain’s Foreign Minister Miguel Angel Moratinos.

Around 1,100 Spanish soldiers serve in the UN interim force in Lebanon installed after the summer 2006 war between Israel and Hezbollah. Six Spanish soldiers were killed during a bombing there in June.

Syrian native Kassar, known colloquially as the “Prince of Marbella” where he has been based for the last decade, is wanted in the US on suspicion of arranging arms deals for leftist FARC rebels in Colombia.

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January 2nd, 2008, 7:01 pm

 

17. norman said:

Syria’s respose to France and the US and all the others

Syria-based Palestinian groups reschedule their conference meant to match Annapolis for Jan. 23

The Associated Press
Wednesday, January 2, 2008
DAMASCUS, Syria: Syria-based Palestinian factions opposed to peace with Israel decided Wednesday to hold their regional conference later this month in the Syrian capital, a Palestinian official said.

The meeting — which initially was envisaged as the radical Palestinians’ rival to the U.S.-hosted conference in Annapolis, Maryland — will take place Jan. 23-25th here, said Talal Naji, a ranking official with the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine-General Command.

The meeting was first announced in October, then postponed for November, but failed to take place at the same time as the Annapolis conference.

Naji said the Damascus meeting would be titled: “Sticking to national rights of the Palestinian people: national unity is the road to liberation and return.”

Invitations would be sent to “all Palestinian factions,” Naji said, including Fatah, the Palestinian Liberation Organization and the Palestinian National Council.

Moderate Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and U.S. allies in the Arab world have criticized the announced meeting in Syria, but that criticism was rejected by the deputy head of the radical Hamas in Damascus, Moussa Abu Marzouk.

Syria is home to the exiled leaders of Hamas, the militant faction that routed Abbas’ Fatah faction from the Gaza Strip in June clashes, precipitating the worst Palestinian split to date, and the Islamic Jihad, another smaller militant Palestinian faction.

Also based in Damascus are the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine, the PFLP-General Command and five other smaller factions.

Abu Marzouk said before Annapolis that the purpose of the Damascus gathering was “to send a clear message to the international community and the United States that … (Abbas) does not represent the Palestinian people in these negotiations.”

Syria wields huge influence on Palestinian factions opposed to Abbas and U.S.-led Mideast peacemaking, but it is not clear whether it played a role in gettinng the hard-line factions to postpone their meeting for after Annapolis.

The Maryland conference relaunched Palestinian-Israeli peace negotiations that had been stalled during the past seven years of Israeli-Palestinian violence.

Syria for its part improved ties with the U.S. by attending the Annapolis meeting.

However, that improvement recently waned amid Western accusations Damascus was obstructing efforts to resolve the political deadlock in Lebanon, where Syria backs the Hezbollah-led opposition.

——————————————————————————–
Notes:

——————————————————————————–
Copyright © 2008 The International Herald Tribune | http://www.iht.com

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January 2nd, 2008, 8:19 pm

 

18. Observer said:

I agree with Ehsani that the game is on. Syria has many cards to play not the least of which is the safety of the contingents in South Lebanon. For all of those of you that think that the players in Lebanon are in a position to stick it out with France and the US I urge you to read this excellent piece that researched the declarations and the positions of the currently most vociferous opponents of Damascus: http://www.al-akhbar.com/ar/node/58307

Now, if Sarkozy wants to up the ante he has several cards: one is the tribunal, the other is Khaddam, the third is financial but he has to convince the EU of that. 2008 is indeed going to be interesting.

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January 2nd, 2008, 10:33 pm

 

19. GG said:

لو إتفق العالم كلّه بمن فيهم ايران وسوريا لفرض أمر ما على المعارضة لا يوافق مصلحة بلدنا لن نقبل

Hassan Nassrallah interview on NBN TV @9 pm(January 2, 2008)

Love him or loath him, if there’s one thing he’s known for is his honesty. Even his enemies admit that.

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January 2nd, 2008, 11:18 pm

 

20. Alex said:

GG

I watched the whole interview.

He said: “testimony to history: The Syrians were offered many attractive rewards if they agree to apply pressure on us, and were threatened with various forms of punishment if they don’t … the Syrians refused to interfere in our Lebanese affairs”

He was asked if Syria CAN apply pressure? .. he said: “They can as friends ask us to do things as a favor for them, yes. This is Syria, not Cyprus”

And he said: “The Syrian French agreement was close to turning into a final solution, acceptable to all of us in Lebanon .. we started to think in term of hours and days … then the Americans told their allies to reject the agreement. France tried again, but the M14 side would not accept any proposal … America is the main reason there is no solution in Lebanon today”

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January 3rd, 2008, 12:06 am

 

21. Honest Patriot said:

… and we are to believe that Nasrallah and Syria are standing on principle and that Mar 14 are being led by Big Satan, right ?

Who are they kidding ? Well, come to think of it, they are fooling a whole lot of people.

The motivation of Hezbollah and Syria in having veto power in the Lebanese government is for Hezbollah to keep its weapons (and hence the hidden ability to impose its will through terror) and for Syria to abort any decision regarding the international tribunal that will judge the murders of Hariri and others. It is that simple.

Aoun wants accountability for earlier corruption and the emergence of a utopic structure for Lebanon through his principled leadership. He also wants vindication of all his earlier positions – I would even say he wants revenge (his own way). He believes so much in himself and his righteousness that he has convinced himself that teaming with Hezbollah is a very good thing. He is no doubt sincere. Sincere, but wrong.

I have to concede (again) brilliance on the part of the Syrian regime as well as Hezbollah. They are extremely successful at convincing the arab masses – always keen to hold on to any modicum of pride (as in claiming victory when facts say defeat, or as in Syria deciding to sever ties with France in pursuit of a solution in Lebanon and accusing France of wanting to hide behind Syria to hide their failure – when any sensible observer knows it’s exactly the opposite). Mar 14 positions simply make sense. Supporters of Hezbollah and Syria in this blog hope, for the most part, that Hezbollah will be molded into a moderate political movement in time, that the Syrian regime will, also in time, bring true economic prosperity to its people, preserve their dignity against the historic failures, regain the Golan, and emerge as the France of the Middle East. If all that were to be true and in fact happen, I’ll be the first in line to return to Lebanon and partake in the beautiful life while contributing to rebuilding the country. But alas, it is all fallacy and dream. The declarations of Moallem and the interview of Sayyed Nasrallah are all for local consumption. On the international scene the true facts and their true intentions are all but well known. Moallem does win though in the calm manner of his delivery (in opposition to the Latin-heated manners of Sarkozy and the other Frenchmen). Sadly, the end will not be pretty for the Syrian regime.

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January 3rd, 2008, 1:33 am

 

22. Friend in America said:

President Bush lost patience with Assad several years ago, concluding Assad and his Syrian government were not interested (maybe capable) of diplomatic negotiations. That is why the White House thought inviting Syria to the Annapolis conference would be a non starter. Sarkozy, Berlin, London and others urged giving Syria another chnace. I welcomed that effort. Syria was invited. It knew settlement of the Lebanon political situation was on the agenda and the Golan was put on the agenda also as an agenda “quid pro quo.” So far so good. There was hope.
Now Syria has said it will not give up its intentions to control Lebanon. Diplomats are debating whether Syria asked for a seat in bad faith or does not know how to participate in the give and take of diplomatic negotiations (a good case for the latter can be made). He has embarrassed those in Europe, the middle east and in America wanted to extend a hand of friendship and is allowing Bush to say ‘I told you so.’ Every Democratic candidte for Presidsent advocates open dialogue and negotiations with damascus. Now they look like theyir view of the middle east is at odds with reality. Damascus will defend its action by saying it will not abandon the principles for the middle east order that it believes in. But, that translates into ‘me on top…our neighbors are not equals.’ We are at a sad turning point, but there will be no confrontation. Syria will just continue to be ignored.

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January 3rd, 2008, 2:21 am

 

23. GG said:

Alex,

I watched it too and what I quoted was said. Moreover, he made a number of statements which politely but unequivocally clear any doubt as to the limit of foreign influence on the opposition. He also said that this was a great opportunity for the Lebanese to solve their own problems.

Anyone who doubts that Syria was offered, to use Josh’s words, “… French money and promises that other European powers would drop the isolation of Syria” is a fool. And anyone who believes that Hezbollah is controlled from abroad is a bigger fool. Time will tell, and it is on the side of the opposition.

I must say that I find it hysterical and more than a little surreal that the “anti-Syrian- pro-Syrian pro-American-but could easily switch if paid enough-possibly independent, but depends on what the Americans instruct them” and their supporters constantly accuse the opposition of taking instructions from Syria and Iran, when they are incapable of taking a decision without the US and France. This is a classic case of the elephant in the room. “Shhhhhhh! Just ignore it and it’ll go away.

“Damn you Nasrallah! You Syrian puppet! Shhhhh! Just pretend that Welch is here to top up his tan and we can claim that we’re for a sovereign Lebanon. Oh, say can you see, by the ….”

The outcome of this confrontation between the M14 and the opposition was sealed the day Hariri joined forces with 2 murders and a bank clerk, and the day they failed to understand that Syria is no longer in Lebanon to enforce what they decide, as was the case when that so-called “father of independence” Rafic Hariri was alive.

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January 3rd, 2008, 11:33 am

 
 

25. Honest Patriot said:

GG, the test of Hezollah’s intentions is their failure to accept the results of democratic elections — elections that were held under an election law that in fact favored pro-Syrian candidates. What is Hezbollah’s intention specifically ? Do you know ?

The disruption of of political and economic life in Lebanon by Hezbollah is aimed at what exactly ?

Moallem said:
“We have been offered lots of temptations, including an economic deal with the European Union. But what is the use of such gains if Lebanon ends up mired in chaos?”

How would governance by the fair majority [which is what is practiced in virtually every nation ] lead to being “mired in chaos” ? What are they afraid of ? Why can’t they wait till the next elections and win the majority at the ballot box and then request resignation of the government ? Lebanon has a system to determine “Confidence” in the government and if it fails in that vote – in the parliament – it has to be replaced. It seems that when Hezbollah doesn’t like the results of the game, they argue to change the rules of the game. Herein lies the evidence of a hidden agenda they have, a dangerous one.

As far as “2 murderes and a bank clerk” I assume the one murderer you refer to is Geagea. I’m not sure who the second one is (Jumblat ? Gemayel ?). What about the mass-murder actions of Hezbollah against the US Marines, and the mass-murder perpetrated by the Syrian regime in Hama ?
Regarding the “bank clerk,” anyone with any sense of civilization, true ability to judge, can see that Prime Minister Fouad Siniora has emerged as a superb principled statesman who can play effectively on the international scene. Bashar was so jealous that all he could do early on was resort to name-calling to attack him (“abdon moussayar li-abden moussayar” = led slave of a led slave). I’ve seen Bashar’s interviews with Western media (e.g., with Charlie Rose) and compare them to Siniora’s interviews. Bashar makes no sense, uses no logic, and believes that simple declarative statements is how persuation is done. By contrast, Siniora, whether in local, arab, or Western media, always is persuasive, displaying logic based on facts, decisions based on principles, true patriotism and a sense of duty to work towards improving the lot of all Lebanese.

Finally, please do not denigrate the memory of a great, self-made man, martyred for the country he loved by the true murderers in Damascus with full complicity of their unprincipled lackies in Lebanon. Rafiq Hariri was a self-made man. He did not inherit his political influence from his father’s brutal regime (as did Bashar). Having reached the top level of Maslow’s hierarchy of human needs he came back to his native country to invest all his wealth in rebuilding it. He eventually learned of the true oppressive agenda of the Syrian regime, and when he tried to slowly emerge Lebanon from under their influence, he was brutally assassinated.

Anyone who defends Syria’s actions in Lebanon and/or trusts Hezbollah to become a pure political movement while maintaining its weapons and fascist organization is either naive or complicit in an agenda to slowly establish a fundamentalist islamic state in Lebanon. Sadly, this may well be happening by the continued attrition of folks who, as I did 25 years ago, throw in the towel and decide that their only real way for decent livelihood and eventually re-gaining some say, is to just establish roots outside Lebanon.

As always, I love to be completely wrong and see the transformation of Lebanon into the utopia that Aoun dreams of. Time will tell.

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January 3rd, 2008, 1:44 pm

 

26. Observer said:

Syria has an understanding with its allies in Lebanon to insure that the country does not become a base for anti-Syrian activities. That in my opinion is the only red line that Syria will enforce and the only instance in which it will actively intervene. In the meantime, it has decided to limit its role and to allow the US and France to stumble along in a country where the average politician will betray his mother and sell his sister to remain in power.
HP calls HA a fascist organization and a military threat to the country. I must remind him of the following facts to set the record straight: the last census that Lebanon had was in 1932; I challenge the current or any future goverment to conduct a new one and then to publish the results showing that the Shia have become the majority. HA and Amal grew from the very fact that the Lebanese goverment and the institutions were NEVER present in the Shia community. They are not a state within the state rather than a state where none existed and none still exists. The Shia militancy grew after Palestinian mistakes in the South of Lebanon and were reinforced after Israeli mistakes as well. The Shia have concluded that in a sectarian country where they have been neglected and victimized for generations enough is enough. Electoral laws in Lebanon stipulate that the voter casts his ballot not in his residence district but in his birth district, a system that insured for generations a feudal election of the same family members. You can have a majority of Shia living in Ras Beirut for example and yet they will have a Sunni representative as they can only cast their vote in the Nabatieh district elections. In this system, the Sunni deputy will cater to his constituents and would allow the Shia to remain marginalized. This is why the US is mandated by the constitution to have a census every 10 years and that the district boundaries change to accomodate the new population. The following parable with regard to the demands of the opposition is worth thinking about: two people would like to share an apple and one has a knife; the person without the knife has the apple and he tells his friend; go ahead and slice it but since you hold the knife, I will be the one to choose the first piecet. The M14 group wants to elect a Maronite president of its choosing, keep the majority in parliament, keep the goverment in its hands. HP you do not seem to have learned about democracy: it is not about majority rule but about minority rights. I believe that the Shia majority is being moderate in asking for a third of the goverment as it wants to insure that an absolutist majority will not return Lebanon to its former feudal system.
Finally, HP please spare us the medieval adulation and adoration of ME leaders such as Hariri. One thing he learned from his Saudi friends is to dole out favors in return for special services and one thing he learned from Assad is to put his huge portraits all over Beirut. Every one knows how his fortune was made and that while Lebanon has a 35 billion debt, his personal fortune quadrupled from 1 to 4 billion as he used his Solidair group to “rebuild” Beirut while putting the country in debt. I can tell you that BLOM bank has just decided that it will not longer support with 15% of its assets the Lebanese goverment and its debt. I can also tell you that HA has no intention of taking over the country: if this were to happen, you will see France and the EU and the US immediately declare the country bankrupt and make Argentina look like picnic in comparison to what will hapeen to Lebanon.

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January 3rd, 2008, 2:58 pm

 

27. Honest Patriot said:

Observer, fair enough…
But what about the underlying danger of some foolish adventure trying to use Lebanon as a base to “liberate” Palestine ? [And I am not taking sides in the Palestinian-Israeli conflict here, but merely stating the obvious: that it will NOT be solved through military action from Lebanon]. HA has shown that it is quite inclined to such misadventures. Nor would we want south Lebanon to be the staging ground for military pressure on Israel for the benefit of Syria.
Why wouldn’t HA and its allies pose conditions on electoral laws, with principles as you outline, etc., while guaranteeing that they will not abort the international tribunal, and commit to merging their militia into the Lebanese army while rallying around a single National governance. Why did HA – at one point in the Nahr-El-Bared conflict declare a red line for the Lebanese Army entering the camps to root out the real extremists ? HA generates fear in the hearts of many. Nasrallah is admired by the same many – for his eloquence, his affability, his erudition, his courage. He CAN be Lebanon’s Degaulle. BUT there is an underlying fear of what his ultimate agenda is – suspected to be based on religious fanaticism.
Granted that a key element of democracy is the protection of minority rights. In Lebanon, this is bound to be the protection of the population segment belonging to the Christian sects (note that I believe that the social groupings of religion is alas much stronger than whatever true personal faith direction it has – true in many cases, but certainly in Lebanon). These are simply scared of eventual annihilation by one method or the other. Your statement of principle of democracy contrasts with your statement of facts as to who constitutes the majority (the Shi’a). It is a mere 2 years before new parliamentary elections. Insist on a fair electoral law as an absolute precondition, commit to merging the military (“mookawama”) forces into the Lebanese army, commit to supporting the international tribunal, insist on not establishing any one-sided deal with Israel (which Siniora has committed to), and work within the system instead of paralyzing the political and economic life of the country and spreading fear. No?
Unless you think that the assassination of Hariri was justified and the assassins should be protected (which I hope you don’t), logic calls for your agreement with the above.

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January 3rd, 2008, 3:34 pm

 

28. ausamaa said:

Why waste time and effort?

As Lebanon stands at a political deadlock, why can’t the Lebanese people go to early elections under UN or EU supervision and we can then find out what and who is the real Lebanese Majority is? THat majority can then easily decide in due who is President, who is Speaker of Parliment, and who the would be Prime Minister.

The Palimantarian Majority should be happy with this option which it was offered by the Opposition? Are they not the “majority”?

Or is Real Democratic practices not applicable to Lebanon now for some reason? Dont we all love Democracy ala Bush and ala Siniora!!!

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January 3rd, 2008, 4:13 pm

 

29. AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

HP,
Have you noticed the logic used by the apologists for Asad?

1) Democracy is important in Lebanon, and the Shia must be given the right weight, but not so much in Syria where the Alawites that are 15% should control the country.

2) Lebanon MUST take into account Syria’s interest but not those of Saudi that invested billions in Lebanon or those of the USA and Europe that have guaranteed billions in loans for Lebanon. Yes, Syria, which actually stole from Lebanon should be more respected by the Lebanese.

3) It is OK for Syria to arm Hizballah but it is not OK for anyone else to arm any other faction in Lebanon.

4) Lebanon MUST continue the fight against Israel so Syria can have something to bargain with while Asad keeps the Golan quiet and never retaliates against Israel (even when directly attacked). Any government that does not support this line, will not be accepted. The situation since the July war in which Hizballah and Lebanon are doing nothing against Israel and in which the northern border with Israel is quiet is just UNACCEPTABLE.

Arguments will not work here. This is a fight to finish. Either Lebanon as you know it will disappear or the Asad regime will dissapear. There is no middle ground anymore. You need to hang in there and do what is best for Lebanon.

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January 3rd, 2008, 4:22 pm

 

30. idaf said:

AIG,

You are good at this “devide and conquer” game.. then again as an Israeli, you have been practicing.

Hope you are enjoying this round of the game.

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January 3rd, 2008, 4:48 pm

 

31. Honest Patriot said:

Ausama,

The problem with what you suggest is the setting of a precedent where anytime a party doesn’t like the election results it will call for new elections until the desired results are achieved. What is the big deal with waiting for the next elections while, in the meantime, insisting (and all decent, honest folks will back this) on genuine electoral law reform guaranteeing appropriate representation?
The underlying big fear of many Christians in Mar 14 is that aspect of HA that is desirous of an islamic state in Lebanon. The greatest majority welcomes a secular governmental system, but certainly not an islamic state. Hear Nasrallah’s own words 12 years ago:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mUckoKizLz0
It is true that he states that he would not impose his belief of the supremacy of an islamic state as the panacea to all evils by force, but he’s a true believer in it, and unless he is not a man of his principles (and we do know him to be one), he will not rest until – in one manner or another – his goal is achieved (under his leadership or a successor’s). Therein lies our fear. Unless it is addressed by actions, it will not be possible to tell us: Don’t Worry.
Nasrallah’s beliefs need to be fully respected and he and his community have the right to practice their beliefs within their own societal groupings. What they do not have the right to do, is impose it on others. Separation of church/mosque/temple and state is the only to do that, with guarantees to constitutionally maintain such separation regardless of demographic changes.

AIG:

The irony of the contrasts you list is truly remarkable. Sadly, many do agree with the problems you mention in Syria. Yet, the tendency is to always scapegoat the “Great Satan” and its protege Israel (maybe they’d want to call it “Little Satan”?). It all makes for great consumption on the arab street. Isn’t it sad that many arabs find it always easier to shift the blame away from their own shortcomings than to get to work through education, dedication, enlightenment, and self-betterment and then – if they need to – put up a non-military fight with the US and Israel in the economic and cultural arenas? Everyone will rally around such civilized competition. Will we see it in our lifetime?
“A fight to the finish” is the worst of all possible solutions. I pray it is not the only one.

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January 3rd, 2008, 4:49 pm

 

32. Akbar Palace said:

AIG,

So you noticed this too? Isn’t it interesting that those who arm and fund terrorism, or who call for jihad and armed conflict always seem to have the cleanest hands and the best hiding places?

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January 3rd, 2008, 4:50 pm

 

33. offended said:

AIG dramatically opines:
Either Lebanon as you know it will disappear

What is the Lebanon you know of?

My dear, the only Lebanon that is there and that is very well known to everybody is the one that kicked your butt out in 2000, don’t you ever foget that. Okay?

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January 3rd, 2008, 4:53 pm

 

34. idaf said:

Honest Patriot,

I leave you with a couple of Saniora quotes from the archive of Lebanese media, brought to you by Asaad Abu Khalil (Angry Arab):

The independent and secular Saniora that does not bow to any authoritarian regime trying to undermine Lebanese independence:
«أمّا الملك عبد الله بن عبد العزيز، الإنسان الكبير، والقائد الكبير، والفارس النبيل، فرعى الله ودَّه، وأطالَ عهدَه، ومتَّعَنا بوجوده وعملِه، جزاءَ ما قدَّم وأسهم، وجزاءَ ما سعى وكافح، من أجل عزَّة وتقدُّم المملكة، حصن العرب والمسلمين، ومن أجل خير الأمة العربية، وسلامِ لبنان وحريته وعروبته وسيادته واستقرار نظامه الديمقراطي وعيشه المشترك» (الشرق الأوسط، 9 آب 2007).

On how Saniora is consistent and had always been against Syria’s hegemony on Lebanon:
لبنان «لن ينسى للرئيس الأسد ما قام به من جهود في سبيل إنهاء الحرب والحفاظ على وحدته وأمنه وتحقيق الوفاق الوطني» (النهار، 13 حزيران، 2000)

The whole research by Asaad Abu Khalil (thanks to Observer) is a must read on other quotes from the M14 people’s past:
http://www.al-akhbar.com/ar/node/58307

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January 3rd, 2008, 4:59 pm

 

35. Honest Patriot said:

Idaf,

Well, I never said “Siniora (…) had always been against Syria’s hegemony on Lebanon.” Then again, expressing gratitude for an intervention that helped end military conflict does not amount to agreeing to Syrian hegemony. Or, am I missing something?

Similarly, heaping poetic praise on a Saudi monarch while acknowledging mediation roles the KSA has played in helping bring opposing parties together does not amount to “bow[ing] to any authoritarian regime trying to undermine Lebanese independence,” a quote which is also not from me.

It seems to me that so much energy in the arab world is wasted through infighting instead of working together towards unity and collective prosperity. Maybe it’s the weather.

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January 3rd, 2008, 5:55 pm

 

36. Observer said:

HP I think that asking HA to integrate the resistance into the army and asking for new electoral laws are perfectly legitimate PROVIDED the country abandons totally the sectarian division of power. In the same breath you express the fear of the Christians from the establishment of an Islamic state in Lebanon and you ask the Shia to abandon their secterian identity for the sake of a Lebanon that remains mainly a secure place for the Christians. I am sorry to say that the Christians of Lebanon wanted to have the cake and eat too and they failed miserably in that. Aref Yafi in the 1970’s wrote an article analyzing the motivations and the desires of the Christian community in Lebanon that talked especially about the “fear” factor. I know that many Christians “fear” a return to a situation similar to that of the Ottoman times when they were unfortunately considered and treated as second rate citizens. They also hope that the West will be always there to guarantee their “privileged” status in Lebanon in particular. In reality, the Christians of Syria like very much the Assad regime as they see in it a bulwark against Islamist fanaticisme. In reality also, many Christians advocated Arab nationalism as they felt that under such an idea equal rights and responsibilites would be better assured then under an Islamic “dhimmi” status. I know this first hand as both of my great grand parents were involved in the Arab revolt and one of them was hanged by the Turkish Generals on May 6th of 1916. Now that Arab nationalism seems to be a mirage, the Christians of Lebanon are asking for a pure Lebanese identity and for all the parties involved to have strict local political agenda. It is perfectly fair to ask for such an attitude but for it to be effective, the Christians of Lebanon and the Sunnis of Lebanon will have to abandon their alliiance to France and the KSA respectively exactly as HA and the others have to abandon their alliance with Syria or Iran. You cannot expect HA to sit by while Hariri and his entourage work hand in hand with outside powers to enact UNSC resolutions that are advantageous to one party at the expense of the other. You can claim sovereignty yet accept the presence of UN troops on the Lebanese side of the border alone and not on both sides. You cannot ask for the Arab League to come to the rescue of Lebanon from the cluthes of Syria when the Syrian intervention in Lebanon was first through the Arab League. You cannot ask for the Arab League to help Lebanon in its dispute with Syria and ignore the aggression of Israel throughout the years.
Finally for the International Tribunal: I firmly believe that it will happen only if and when the US and the West have decided to replace the regime in Syria. At present there are no indications whatsoever that this will happen.

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January 3rd, 2008, 6:37 pm

 

37. Honest Patriot said:

Observer, “Chapeau” (i.e., hats off to you). Now, if you and I were the folks negotiating, we’d have peace, prosperity, and harmony in Lebanon already 🙂
You are clearly arguing for a truly independent Lebanon where the interests of its own population are above all. I concur.
Your final comment on the Tribunal is very interesting.
I now have to remind myself that I hate politics, I clearly don’t know all the facts (as so very few do), and I’d better, as Voltaire says, go back to “cultiver notre jardin.”

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January 3rd, 2008, 6:53 pm

 

38. AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Offended,
Yes, we know. The Arabs have been winning for the last 60 years. Israel has been constantly losing and now is trailing way behind the Arabs militarily, economically, scientifically and technologically.

Yes, many Arabs refuse to learn. Just continue repeating the mistakes of the last 60 years all over again. There is just ONE solution: Democracy (not the American or Israeli one, choose your own model). All the rest is illussion.

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January 3rd, 2008, 7:29 pm

 

39. GG said:

Honest Patriot,

Your and my opinion of Aoun is irrelevant; likewise for Hizbullah and Nasrallah. I’m sure they’re both content knowing that between them they have the support 2/3 of the Lebanese population.

The facts speak for themselves and you have yet to convincingly dispute them other than regurgitate what you’ve read in http://www.ouwet.com or http://www.almustaqbal.com.lb. And we all know what kind of news they report.

With your permission and entirely based on your comments here, I’d like to paint a narrative portrait of you.

Born in the late 80’s, early 90’s you are a Geagea groupie whose knowledge of the war in Lebanon is based on books and what your family told you. Up until Hariri was assassinated in 2005, you despised him and Sanioura. Geagea’s pact with Hariri junior and his subsequent release from prison led to a change of heart and Hariri senior became one of your heroes, while Hariri junior became the son of a “true martyr” (let’s ignore for the moment the number of Lebanese he helped martyr en route to becoming a “great patriot). Prior to his demise, to you Hariri senior was your greatest nemesis, a Syrian stooge, who conspired to prolong your great leader’s incarceration.

Kindly stop your hypocrisy. I’m not about to dress-up Hariri Senior’s past and lie just to please you or your cohorts in the Future Movement who partook in the hourly rape of Lebanon for 15 years. The Future Movement were more than happy supporting Syria’s “brotherly” role in Lebanon because it screwed the Christians, ensured Sunni dominance, and, up until the death of Hafez Asad, kept the Shia in check.

If you want to reply to my comments, please do; I appreciate a good debate, but please start by applying the first word of your moniker and then we’re guaranteed one. Otherwise, please just ignore my comments because, and I say this with a modicum of respect for you, you’re neither honest nor a patriot and I don’t want to keep repeating myself.

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January 3rd, 2008, 7:46 pm

 

40. Seeking the Truth said:

No hope in genuinely solving Lebanon’s problems as long as sectarianism takes precedence over nationality.

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January 3rd, 2008, 8:18 pm

 

41. Honest Patriot said:

GG, wooaah! I’m not sure what I must have said to upset you that much. And thank you for the compliment of missing my age by three decades. I confess that it felt good imagining that I am this young. You have probably not read all my posts, some of which should clearly indicate, or at least hint at, my age. Actually, up until the assassination of Hariri Sr., I had stopped following details of Lebanese politics for a couple of decades, realizing that Lebanon (at the time) had practically ceased to exist as an independent country. I have absolutely no allegiance to any party and I am NOT a Maronite nor – God forbid – a previous follower of Geagea. The disturbing jolt to me came with the assassination. Then, as progress seemed to be made towards a national dialogue, boom, the summer war of 2006. I get news from everywhwere, but primarily from Reuters, AFP, NYTimes, etc. I do occasionally check the Al-mustaqbal website as well as tayyar.org, lbci.com.lb and manar.com.lb but had never heard of the ouwet.com you mention. I checked it out and it is foul. Folks I know in Lebanon (from 35+ years ago) tell me that my views would be different if I heard the same news and analyses that they hear in Lebanon, in which case I would be, like them, a Aounist. I simply don’t understand that and somehow trust that I have access to a much wider array of news and opinions here in the US than in Lebanon. In any case, I do view myself as Honest because I tell it as I see it. I may be wrong but I’m not pretending nor role playing to put forth an opinion I don’t believe. I am a Patriot (although some might question how I can be such if I emigrated) because I have a deep desire to see Lebanon prosper and offer the good life for ALL its citizens in a fair government system that would separate church/mosque/temple and state and create civil order while allowing full freedom of worship. I dream (hence my being tagged as “dreamer” “naive” “utopic thinker”) of an independent, non-aligned, neutral Lebanon that would be the Switzerland of the Middle East. The other opinions I voice, occasional sarcasm, are nothing more than sincere reactions to what I read between the lines in the news, all news. Finally, let’s see. Late 80’s early 90’s would make me an 18 to 20 year old, younger than my children. Sweet. 🙂
If you are a young chap, GG, forgive my causing you upset with some opinions I voiced.
Many bloggers here concede, explicitly or implicitly, the culpability of the Syrian regime in the assassination of Hariri. Others accept it as part of the “amoral” ways of politics. I’m sorry if I haven’t come to terms with it yet. Then, when put in context of the series of assassinations before and after, a wake-up call rings about such methods of control.
I don’t believe our exchange, if we were to continue it, would be of interest to other bloggers here. But thank you for paying so much attention to me and please do not get upset. Reasonable people can develop different opinions looking at essentially the same news. I’m not a know-it all and I may be wrong As I said before, time will tell. Sorry that you were so wrong on your guesses of my profile. On the political opinions, let’s leave it to the future to educate both of us. Wish me a long life to be around when the answers are known.
Take Care.
— HP

Seeking the Truth: Amen to your opinion.

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January 3rd, 2008, 8:28 pm

 

42. GG said:

I’m 38 and I have been following Lebanon’s politics since the age of 15. I have written about it and other Middle East issues. Fortunately, I have had some articles published, most notable in The Middle East Quarterly and Middle East Intelligence Bulletin (now known as Middle East Monitor. So as I’m about to begin my midlife crisis I can assure you that comments on Syriacomment.com and other blog sites don’t upset me. I’ve got more pressing problems to deal with, such as: is my waistline growing; will my hair remain on my head for at least another 5 years; am I too old to run the marathon; and will I still be able to get it up in a few years.

I look at Lebanon in its entire history and I refuse to set lines in the sand that determine when a new era begins. 2005 was a new era to the extent that Syria left Lebanon, other than that nothing’s changed. So while some people sing the praises of the characters who now make up M14, I recall how innocent Lebanese were being beaten and imprisoned by their praetorian guards. I don’t see them as heroes, but as cheap opportunists. You can see them as you choose; I cannot honestly say it concerns me. But I am not ashamed to say clearly that I stand by the opposition and their demands. And though I don’t support Hassan Nasrallah or his party, I have nothing but the utmost respect for him because at least he’s clear and I know where he stands: a rare quality in Lebanon. He doesn’t change in line with the weather.

Finally, I may dislike the Syrian regime and what it did to Lebanon, but I cannot judge the entire nation based on its lunatic ruler. And, as a Lebanese, I would be stupid not to realise that we need good relations with Syria because like it or not they surround us and they have the potential to become an economic powerhouse.

Good luck in discovering Lebanon.

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January 5th, 2008, 12:25 am

 

43. Honest Patriot said:

GG, I can’t find anything to argue with in your post. Which is another way to say I agree. I *like* Nasrallah as a person too, and respect his erudition and clear and consistent expression of his opinion. I’m just nervous about underlying fanaticism that I just feel is there. I also have no quibbles with the Syrian people or the Syrian nation. I have distant cousins who live there (whom I have not visited), and my father (born in 1904, died in 1976) was born in Damascus before his family moved to Beirut in 1912. As far as the assassination of Hariri, I guess I’ve been converted by all who were kind enough to respond to my posts to just wait and see if the truth will be revealed in the coming years, rather than continue my ire based on (an admittedly extremely strong) hunch.
I guess I must be re-discovering Lebanon since I did spend the first 22 years of my life there.
Peace.

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January 5th, 2008, 2:10 am

 

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