“Has Syria Won?” in the Economist

Syria: Has it won?
by Oliver August
Nov 26th 2009 | DAMASCUS
From The Economist

Under its surprisingly durable leader, Syria has stubbornly nudged its way back into the heart of regional diplomacy. It can no longer be ignored

Illustration by Peter Schrank

SIX years ago, President Bashar Assad looked weak, stumbling and isolated. In the words of the neoconservatives dominant in Washington after the conquest of Iraq, his regime was “low-hanging fruit”. Its fall would complete a circle of Western influence in the area, with Turkey, a NATO member, to the north-west and Israel to the south. The decline of Syria seemed to hasten when, after it was widely blamed in 2005 for the murder of Lebanon’s five-times prime minister, Rafik Hariri, it ignominiously lost its place as master of its small neighbour. Only Iran, among Syria’s friends, stood fast against the West. Yet now the position has drastically changed. Mr Assad is increasingly viewed as an essential part of the region’s diplomatic jigsaw. He is fast coming back into the game. Even America would like to embrace him.

Nothing illustrates this better than the recent flip-flop of Walid Jumblatt, hereditary head of Lebanon’s Druze minority. He has cause to loathe Syria. Its agents were thought to have killed his father in 1977, a crime that eased Syria’s penetration of Lebanon as a peacekeeper whose forces lingered long after the end of its civil war of 1975-90. Still, Mr Jumblatt reconciled himself to Syria’s then president, Hafez Assad, Bashar’s father, for many years doing his bidding. But the Druze chieftain broke openly with Mr Assad’s filial successor after the murder of Mr Hariri, an old ally. Championing the movement that ousted Syria from Lebanon, Mr Jumblatt drew applause in Washington for calling it “a country hijacked by a family and a mafia”.

Yet Mr Jumblatt has recently changed tack again. Syria, he now says, is the core of the Arab world; Lebanon is destined to be on its side. If he had once spoken ill of Bashar Assad, it was only in the heat of emotion, Mr Jumblatt told al-Manar, the television station run by Hizbullah, Lebanon’s Shia party-cum-militia, which is staunchly backed by Syria and Iran. Only last year Hizbullah’s forces clashed with Mr Jumblatt’s.

The Druze boss, one of the Middle East’s more accurate weathervanes, is far from alone in pointing to Damascus, Syria’s capital. A flurry of foreign dignitaries has recently courted Mr Assad, including the Saudi king, the French and Croatian presidents, the prime ministers of Turkey, Jordan, Iraq and Spain, and a stream of ministers and MPs, plus a string of prominent Americans. Mr Jumblatt himself is expected in Damascus soon, as is another Lebanese leader with a personal animus, Saad Hariri, now filling his slain father’s shoes as Lebanon’s prime minister.

This sudden popularity marks a triumphant turnabout for the 44-year-old Mr Assad. As a hereditary ruler in an ostensibly republican system, as a member of Syria’s historically marginal Alawite minority, and as a second son with a background in medicine rather than war or statecraft, he looked unlikely to succeed when he took power nine years ago.

His tenure has not been easy. The period from 2002 to 2006 was especially grim. Not only was Syria vilified in the West for its long-standing alliance with Iran, its support of violent Islamist groups pitted against Israel, and its nasty human-rights record. Mr Assad also stood accused of busting sanctions against Saddam Hussein and then, after the Iraqi dictator’s fall, of sheltering Baathist renegades and sending jihadists to kill Americans. Many Lebanese said Syria plotted a rash of bombings in their country between 2005 and 2008, to perpetuate its influence after the forced withdrawal of its troops in 2005. The killing of Mr Hariri, a friend of France’s then president, Jacques Chirac, and of an array of Saudi royals, prompted the UN to launch an investigation that many expected to finger top Syrian officials.

Syria also seemed to face looming economic collapse. Decades of central planning under the Baath party’s stifling rule had left it with few competitive industries and surging unemployment, even as its meagre oil resources rapidly shrank. An influx of more than a million Iraqi refugees, plus the sudden return of hundreds of thousands of Syrian labourers from Lebanon, added extra burdens.

America piled on the pressure, slapping on sanctions in 2003, recalling its ambassador in 2005 and staging raids across Iraq’s border until as recently as last year. Israeli fighter aircraft buzzed Mr Assad’s beach house in a humiliating display of effortless aerial supremacy. The European Union, for its part, suspended talks on an association agreement in 2004, leaving Syria the only Mediterranean country without a preferential trade deal.

Yet Mr Assad’s regime has not only endured but thrived, along with Syria’s economy. Its GDP, its foreign trade and the value of loans to its private sector have all nearly doubled in the past four years, as reforms have tapped suppressed entrepreneurial vigour. For decades Damascus looked as dour as Bucharest under communist rule. Now it pulses with life. New cars throng its streets. Fancy boutique hotels, bars and fully booked restaurants pack its rapidly gentrifying older quarters, while middle-class suburbs, replete with shopping malls and fast-food outlets, spread into the surrounding hills.

The revenue of Damascus’s swankiest hotel, the Four Seasons, is said to have doubled between 2006 and 2008. Bank Audi Syria, one of several Lebanese banks prospering there, made a profit within six months of launching in 2005. It now boasts $1.6 billion in deposits, and recently led Syria’s first-ever private syndication to finance a cement plant, a joint venture between France’s Lafarge and local businessmen costing $680m. In March Syria relaunched its stock exchange, moribund since the 1960s and still tiny. But with new rules allowing foreign ownership of equity, investors are showing keen interest.

Abdullah Dardari, deputy prime minister for economic affairs since 2005, lists simple reasons for the turnaround. By slashing widely evaded taxes and import duties while reducing subsidies, the state has boosted revenue and reduced its dependency on oil. A liberalisation of banking, prices and trade has released pent-up potential in a country that 50 years ago was the most prosperous in the region.

It is not just the promise of Syria’s own market of 22m people. Trade with Iraq, a traditional market for Syrian goods, has surged. Syria is a natural transit hub for the region’s energy exports. In October it signed a series of agreements with Turkey. A decade ago the Turks had threatened to invade; now they can drive across the border without visas. Last month the EU also abruptly signalled its eagerness to sign a long-delayed association agreement, leaving the Syrians to ponder whether it needs revision in light of their stronger bargaining hand.

Many businessmen credit Mr Dardari with crucial policy changes. Yet they worry that he lacks institutional backing. They also fret about the longer term. Flashy new private industries and services outshine the rusty socialist economy that still employs a quarter of the workforce, but they have yet to replace it. The reforms so far have been the easier ones. Pervasive corruption and creaky infrastructure will impede progress. So will a school system that, despite the opening of some 15 private universities, is far from supplying the skills needed for a modern economy.

Free the politics too

Moreover, economic reforms have not been matched by a liberalisation of politics. On taking power, Mr Assad lifted hopes for change by such gestures as closing the notorious Tadmor prison, in Syria’s eastern desert, where thousands of political prisoners had rotted—hundreds of them dying there—in the 1980s. Damascus enjoyed a brief spring of dissent in 2001, but as international pressures mounted, the opening was quickly slammed shut. Repression is far less severe than under Mr Assad’s father, who ruled from 1970 to 2000. But it is equally effective. The secret police remain unaccountable, ruthless and omnipresent. Human-rights workers, bloggers, and members of the 1.5m Kurdish minority all risk imprisonment under such charges as “spreading false information” and “weakening the national spirit”.

But although Syrians whisper about palace intrigues and bumps in the night, a striking number reckon silence is a reasonable price to pay for stability. Punishment is harsh but at least the rules are clear. Syrian society is as complex in sectarian m ake-up as neighbouring Lebanon and Iraq, and harbours similarly volatile groups, including jihadist cells that the government ruthlessly squashes. Yet it has experienced minimal unrest in recent years. The most serious incident was a car bomb that killed 17 people in Damascus last year. The calm, say some, results less from heavy policing than from clever intelligence, including the co-opting and manipulation of extremist groups. With the exception of the Kurds, Syria’s minorities enjoy a sense of security envied elsewhere in the region.

AlamySweeter times ahead

If Mr Assad’s hard line at home has earned grudging respect, so has his firmness in foreign relations. Rather than flipping on Iran or abandoning ties to Hizbullah or the Palestinian Islamist group, Hamas, in order to please the West, his regime has upheld “resistance” as the best way to apply pressure on Israel, while offering to negotiate with it. Frightened by the invasion of Iraq, Syria nevertheless yanked the American lion’s tail by letting insurgents slip into the fray. Such nerve, along with Syria’s generous accommodation of Iraqi refugees, improved Mr Assad’s Arab nationalist credentials just when America’s moderate Arab allies looked callow and spineless.

For sure, Syria’s dogged refusal to kowtow has been costly. Its hurried exit from Lebanon was humiliating. Its failure so far to accommodate itself to the new establishment in Baghdad has been expensive too, with Iraq’s rulers accusing it of plotting recent deadly bombings. Israel, meanwhile, clobbered Syria’s Hizbullah ally in 2006 and its Hamas friends in Gaza earlier this year. Israel also bombed a suspected nuclear site in the Syrian desert in 2007 and recently intercepted a shipload of Iranian arms apparently bound, through Syrian ports, for Hizbullah.

The rewards of saying no

But Mr Assad’s tenacious immobility has proved a winning course overall, reinforcing Syria’s centrality to regional issues. As stalemate prevails, from Iraq to Palestine, Mr Assad has slowly regained many of the cards he appeared to have lost.

The case of Lebanon is instructive. Since retreating in the face of a popular uprising against its interference, Syria has clawed its way back to a position of less overt but almost as effective dominance. Exploiting Lebanon’s fractiousness, Syria pushed its allies to undermine the pro-Western coalition that won Lebanon’s general election in 2005. Though pro-Syrian parties failed to end the coalition’s parliamentary majority in a more recent election, in June, they have hamstrung its attempts to govern. Only when the pro-Western coalition, known as the March 14th alliance, frustrated in politics and outgunned on the street, quietly addressed Syria’s concerns did Mr Assad’s Lebanese allies suddenly fall into line. The price appears to be that Hizbullah will keep its private army and that March 14th will not press for the UN to implicate Syria in its investigation of Mr Hariri’s death. Moreover, with Mr Jumblatt now hinting that he may jump ship, March 14th may well sink.

Syria’s stubbornness over Israel, while letting militia allies in Lebanon and Gaza harry the Jewish state, has paid dividends too. The Israelis’ assault on Gaza and their willingness to put only partial limits on expanding Jewish settlements in the West Bank, outlined this week, have made it easier to bring Syria in from the cold. And Israel’s continuing failure to squelch Hamas or Hizbullah has left Syria with some useful chips. It hosts Hamas’s exiled leadership and still serves as a conduit for Iranian arms and money to Hizbullah. This gives Syria bargaining power in its long-standing demand for Israel to return the Golan Heights, which Israel occupied in 1967.

Israel’s prime minister, Binyamin Netanyahu, tried to provoke a reaction from Mr Assad, when visiting President Nicolas Sarkozy in France, by calling for negotiations without preconditions. Syria had no preconditions, answered Mr Assad on his own Paris visit, but rather rights that everyone recognised. Indeed, Mr Netanyahu’s predecessor, Ehud Olmert, seemed to accept that the Heights would one day have to be returned to Syria.

In the capitals of America’s Arab allies, a sense is growing that, in the light of the persistent stalemate between the Palestinians and Israel, stubbornly bloody-minded Syria has been canny all along. In the past, countries such as Saudi Arabia and Egypt have been waiting for Syria to come truckling back into the moderate fold.

Now people in Damascus think the moderates may come truckling to them.

“La Syrie est le grand gagnant…” Le Monde, [Thanks Nur al-Cubicle]

As Ankara continues to eclipse that pariah state, Egypt, there is only good news for Syria..

Israel wants to resume Syria talks: minister
www.chinaview.cn 2009-11-24

ANKARA, Nov. 24 (Xinhua) — Visiting Israeli Minister of Industry, Trade and Labor Benjamin Ben Eliezer said on Tuesday that Israel wanted to resume peace talks with Syria, noting Turkey could act as a mediator, the semi-official Anatolia news agency reported.

Israel was willing to work for peace in the region, said Ben Eliezer, adding that it was his 10th visit to Turkey, which aimed to boost trade and investment between Turkey and Israel.

During a meeting with Ben Eliezer on Tuesday in Ankara, Turkish President Abdullah Gul stressed that the Israelis must “prove their sincerity and determination to find a solution to the conflict with the Palestinians,” according to Anatolia.

The National has a good overview of Taraf, Turkey’s courageous newspaper that has been exposing the military’s efforts to undermine the AK party.

Blame game threatens Iraq’s ties with Syria
Phil Sands, Foreign Correspondent
November 26. 2009, UAE / November 26. 2009

DAMASCUS // Relations between Baghdad and Damascus have fallen to a new low after fresh allegations claiming Syrian complicity in bombings were aired on Iraqi state-run television.

The damage to ties between the Iraqi prime minister, Nouri al Maliki, and his Syrian counterpart, the president, Bashar al Assad, is now “permanent”, Syrian and Iraqi politicians and analysts have warned.

“If Maliki is re-elected as Iraq’s leader, his relations with Syria will never be warm,” said Mohammad Ghrawi, the Islamic Supreme Council of Iraq’s (ISCI) chief representative in Syria. “There is always hope that things will improve and that the two countries can function together on an official basis. But they will never be close, personal relations.”…..

Pro-Israel lobby group bankrolling Tories, film claims -  Guardian
50% of MPs in the shadow cabinet are Conservative Friends of Israel members, according to Channel 4′s Dispatches

William Hague Photograph: Martin Godwin

Channel 4′s film alleges that William Hague faced threats of a withdrawal of funding from CFI after he described a retaliatory attack by Israel on Lebanon in 2006 as ‘disproportionate’.

Pro-Israeli organisations in Britain look set to see their influence increase if the Conservatives win the next election, a film scrutinising the activities of a powerful but little-known lobby warns today.

At least half of the shadow cabinet are members of the Conservative Friends of Israel (CFI), according to a Dispatches programme being screened on Channel 4. The programme-makers describe the CFI as “beyond doubt the most well- connected and probably the best funded of all Westminster lobbying groups”.

Inside Britain’s Israel Lobby claims that donations to the Conservative party “from all CFI members and their businesses add up to well over £10m over the last eight years”. CFI has disputed the figure and called the film “deeply flawed”.

The programme also describes how David Cameron allegedly accepted a £15,000 donation from Poju Zabludowicz, a Finnish billionaire who chairs Bicom (the Britain Israel Communications and Research Centre). Zabludowizc, the film reveals, has business interests in an illegal West Bank settlement. He also gave £50,000 to Conservative Central Office. Zabludowicz says his contributions “are a matter of public record”.

William Hague allegedly accepted personal donations from CFI board members totalling tens of thousands of pounds after being appointed shadow foreign secretary. More than £30,000 from CFI supporters went to the campaign funds of members of Cameron’s team who were first elected in 2005, the film claims, using publicly available information. The programme-makers say that while this is legal, it is not well-known….

You can see the Channel Four Dispatches film on Britain’s Israel lobby here at Pulse.

Comments (19)


1. Alex said:

I don’t know if “Syria won” yet, but that cartoon in the Economist story above reminded me that cartoonists did not always get it right the past few years.

Here are a few samples from 2004 to 2006:

Israel will attack Syria (And Ahmadinejad tricking a smaller Assad in the process):

Anticipating a massive US invasion of his country, Syria’s information minister (at the time) practices the same vocabulary used by Iraq’s entertaining, but not very precise, information minister:

A very small President Assad is scared of being removed from power by the highly successful Bush administration that he would accept to compromise with Israel:

Bashar will be next, after Saddam

Bashar is Ahmadinejad’s evil mini puppet:

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November 27th, 2009, 8:36 am

 

2. qunfuz said:

http://pulsemedia.org/2009/11/17/inside-britains-israel-lobby-full-episode/

you can see the Channel Four Dispatches film on Britain’s Israel lobby here at Pulse. It’s a courageous piece of work, although it doesn’t go far enough and repeats certain Israeli propaganda lies, such as the Gaza massacre being a ‘retaliation.’

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November 27th, 2009, 10:18 am

 

3. Amir in Tel Aviv said:

QUNFUZ,

I saw the ‘Dispatches’ program on an Israeli channel. Notice the last
section of the program, where the presenter emphasizes that ‘Dispatches’
did not find any evidence to criminal acts, or of breaching the British
laws.
Lobbying and donating (in the framework of the law) is an appropriate
political conduct in the democratic system.
So what did they find? that there’s lobbying in British politics? Not a very
big story.
The Tories (historically) are much more pro-Israel than the Labor.
And the Tories are expected to win a landslide victory in the coming
elections.
.

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November 27th, 2009, 2:03 pm

 

4. jad said:

Good article, but don’t we all know the problems we have in Syria? What we need is solutions for those problems and not empty promises we hear everyday.
Syria didn’t win a thing yet, and it won’t as long as we have idiots, ignorants and worthless humans in the government and in our society doing nothing but stealing while our people get more poor not only in the financial means but also in education, tolerance, ideas, rights and duties.
Another article by Nesa Souria about rights and the weakness and ignorance of almost all Syrian human rights organizations and political parties, they all SUCK.

في اليوم العالمي لمناهضة العنف ضد المرأة: سورية تتجه إلى المزيد من تأييد هذا العنف!
نساء سورية
http://nesasy.org/content/view/8229/110/

“وتعرف الحكومة السورية ما تفعله من أجل دفع وضع المرأة إلى الوراء. لذلك لا تجرؤ على العمل علنا. بل تعمل تحت الطاولة. وكلما انكشفت مخططاتها سارعت إلى نفي ذلك، وإلى الادعاء أن ما يجري الحديث عنه مختلقا. بينما هي التي تخلق هذه المشاريع، وتختلق التضليل حول وجودها.

في الوقت نفسه، وبكل أسف، تقف بعض الأحزاب التي تدعي العلمانية والوطنية والاشتراكية في سورية، سواء كانت في الحكومة أم خارجها، لتتفرج على ما يجري، في تواطؤ صريح أو ضمني مع هذا الاتجاه. ربما حفاظا على مصالحها أو وهم مصالحها.

والأمر نفسه، بأسف أشد، ينطبق على أغلب المنظمات والجمعيات التي تحمل في اسمها مصطلح “حقوق الإنسان”. فهي قد اختارت أن تصمت نهائيا عن هذا المشروع الذي ينتهك حقوق الإنسان جملة وتفصيلا! وعلى ما يبدو أن هذه المنظمات قد اختارت الموافقة الصامتة على أي انتهاك لحقوق الإنسان يصدر تحت مسمى “الشريعة” من قبل بعض من أصحاب السلطة في الحكومة، ومن أصحاب سلطة “التكفير”، وأصحاب “صكوك الجنة”، ممن تقبل أياديهم وأرجلهم كل صباح حتى تكاد “شفاعتهم ترتجى”!”

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November 27th, 2009, 6:22 pm

 
 

6. qunfuz said:

What the programme found was that the Israel lobby is very well funded, that it covers its tracks very well, that it corrupts the mainstream political parties in the UK and intimidates the media. I know the latter from personal conversations with British journalists and newspaper editors.

I encourage SC readers to read the excellent book by Mearsheimer and Walt The Israel Lobby, which examines the even more powerful American Zionist lobby, how it played a key role in the decision to invade Iraq, how it works against American interests and against the long term security of Israeli Jews. The oil lobby did NOT want war in Iraq.

I also recommend to everybody the excellent work of Phil Weiss on the Zionist lobby. http://mondoweiss.net/

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November 27th, 2009, 9:23 pm

 

7. Observer said:

to Akbar Palace,

I just love it when some people try to portray the oil lobby in the UK and the US as a anti-Israel Arabic lobby in these countries. Hahaha…Wake up man these are just the reserve team for the Israeli lobby. How about you watch some “Arbic media” funded by oil

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November 28th, 2009, 1:43 pm

 

8. Palace Akbar said:

Qunfuz,

Like I said before, will you be discussing the “Arab Lobby” in Great Britain? Specifically, past MP George Galloway and the former Mayor of London, “Red” Ken Livingstone.

Does the Israeli Lobby dole-out more money than the Arab Lobby? Wondering if you have the numbers to substantiate your claims.

However, it found that Galloway’s use of parliamentary resources to support his work on the Mariam Appeal “went beyond what was reasonable” and recommended he be suspended from the House.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/George_Galloway

http://www.militantislammonitor.org/article/id/3314

http://www.thestar.com/comment/article/606073

http://www.weeklystandard.com/Content/Public/Articles/000/000/013/884nrzii.asp

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November 28th, 2009, 3:37 pm

 

9. Alex said:

Akbar,

I will make the same point I always make about AIPAC and the other Likud allies in the US. Of course it is perfectly legal for them an others to lobby for whatever they value dearly (right to carry guns, Israel, Cigarettes, Oil …), but the problem with Israel’s lobby is that it does not know where to stop.

You think the Saudis can not easily spend a hundred times more money buying British politicians’ loyalty compared to what Israel’s friends spend? … They can, but they know that if they interfere too much it will back fire on them.

In comparison to the not-very-popular Saudis, Israel’s friends can go further is seeking influence in the US or in the UK, but they also need to understand that there is a limit … you can’t expect everything to go smoothly if you have most of the ministers in the next British government placing Israel’s interests ahead of their country’s.

I have news for you Akbar … Israel’s policies and actions in the Middle East are usually against the interest of many other countries in the region … If Likud’s many, many friends in the US and the UK are constantly pushing for more influence and more friends to the degree that they will be even more successful in shaping the Middle East policies of the US and the UK to Israel’s (likud’s) liking, then they will also shape them to be confrontational with the Arab world … and that will affect US and British interests in the region even more negatively.

Israel is not a peaceful (or even peace loving, judging by recent polls in Israel) country … With a majority of ministers being bribed by Israel’s friends, the next British government’s expected blind support for Israel means supporting a probable (based on past performance) Israeli mass-punishment (mass-murder/mass-destruction) campaign against on of Israel’s neighbors in the Middle East. And that will be costing the Brits a lot of points in the region.

I’m sure you think this is a good thing, but you did not ask the British people if this is what they want to see… remember democracy? This Gallup poll, commissioned by the European Union found out that Europeans believe that Israel and the United States are the biggest threats to world peace. Why? … because Israel’s friends and the Bush administration that was in their pocket decided to invade Iraq.

Having one or two Israel-friendly members in the next British cabinet is just fine. But it will be dangerous for the British to be governed by a government made up of Israeli agents.

It will be bad for everyone .. for the UK and for the Middle East, including Israel.

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November 28th, 2009, 7:37 pm

 

10. Akbar Palace said:

You think the Saudis can not easily spend a hundred times more money buying British politicians’ loyalty compared to what Israel’s friends spend? … They can, but they know that if they interfere too much it will back fire on them.

Alex,

Spare me. When you (or Qunfuz) talk about lobbies like “AIPAC and the other Likud allies”, please state the numbers.

The rest is plain BS.

We don’t know if the Saudis, the Emirati, or the Iranians are spending more, the same, less, or “a hundred times more money buying British policians’ loyalty compared to what Israel’s friends spend”. My guess is the Arab lobbies spend MORE. This is my guess unless someone else can show otherwise.

Israel is not a peaceful (or even peace loving, judging by recent polls in Israel) country …

Right Alex. When every year the Brits keep finding terror cells in their country who aren’t Jewish or Israeli, they sort of scratch their heads and wonder if Israel isn’t that bad afterall.

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November 28th, 2009, 9:58 pm

 

11. Alex said:

Akbar said:

“Right Alex. When every year the Brits keep finding terror cells in their country who aren’t Jewish or Israeli, they sort of scratch their heads and wonder if Israel isn’t that bad afterall.”

No Akbar, if you are suggesting that the 2003 poll I linked to above where most Europeans felt that Israel is the top threat to world peace changed over time (“every year”) then take a look at this Poll which was taken 4 years later:

Poll: Israel, Iran, U.S. have most negative image

Which brings me to your other point Akbar: Your guess says that the Ayrabs (who are not too popular in Britain, I agree) are spending MORE than Israel on British politicians, YET they managed to not get a single minister who is pro Arab world in the next government, while Israel that most Europeans consistently considered (in many polls) one of the top threats to world peace, manages to get the loyalty of most of the ministers.

Why is it then that you guess Arabs are spending more and failing miserably? .. And please remember the results of the polls when you answer me.

And, here is a sample of your lovely Likud party that leads those loyalists in England and the US (“Israel’s friends”)

http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/1131258.html

Likudniks blast ‘enemy of the Jews’ Obama over settlement freeze

By Chaim Levinson, Haaretz Correspondent

Member of Netanyahu’s party: Obama regime is ‘worst ever’ for Israel; Vice PM cancels lecture after rightist protest.

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November 28th, 2009, 11:27 pm

 

12. qunfuz said:

Yes, the Israeli lobby doles out vastly greater amounts of money than the various Arab lobbies. Some figures are in the dispatches programme. On the US, there are a lot of figures in the Mearsheimer and Walt book. Also the Zionist lobby manages to cover its tracks. More on that in the dispatches programme if you actually bother to watch it. In the US, the lobby is not registered as lobbying on behalf of a foreign government, unlike all other foreign lobbies. Then another factor comes into play (and this isn’t Israel’s fault): the Arab lobbies which are state-attached are attached to corrupt Western-client states, not to independent states.

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November 29th, 2009, 12:05 pm

 

13. qunfuz said:

the sad thing of course, or one of them, is that none of this lobbying helps the long-term integration of Israeli Jews into the Middle East. It makes your fanatic ethno-state stronger for a while, and also more hated, and doomed.

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November 29th, 2009, 12:27 pm

 

14. Akbar Palace said:

Yes, the Israeli lobby doles out vastly greater amounts of money than the various Arab lobbies.

Qunfuz,

So how do you know this? Post some links to a study or something proving your theory. And how do you account for the all the oil, energy and weapons deals the UK has with all the Arab and muslim countries?

Methinks the big bad “Israeli Lobby” is small potatoes compared to the rest of the ME.

http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/politics/article6814939.ece

http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2009/aug/30/libya-oil-shell-megrahi

http://english.aljazeera.net/news/middleeast/2009/11/2009113133829848817.html

The power of the evil Israel Lobby (UK arm sales):

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/middle_east/8147377.stm

http://www.caat.org.uk/resources/publications/countries/saudi-arabia-intro.php

http://www.globalissues.org/article/74/the-arms-trade-is-big-business#GlobalArmsSalesBySupplierNations

It makes your fanatic ethno-state stronger for a while, and also more hated, and doomed.

Israel is not as “fanatic” and “hated” in the world as you suspect. I suggest that instead of projecting your own biases, you do a little more research on the subject.

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November 29th, 2009, 5:09 pm

 
 

16. Akbar Palace said:

Israel is not a peaceful (or even peace loving, judging by recent polls in Israel) country … With a majority of ministers being bribed by Israel’s friends, the next British government’s expected blind support for Israel means supporting a probable (based on past performance) Israeli mass-punishment (mass-murder/mass-destruction) campaign against on of Israel’s neighbors in the Middle East. And that will be costing the Brits a lot of points in the region.

Alex,

Here is another example showing why the UK isn’t totally anti-Israel despite whatever “Zionist influence” exists there:

Tell us about the “peaceful” Iranians…

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1232158/Five-sailors-taken-hostage-Iran.html

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November 30th, 2009, 7:49 pm

 

17. Alex said:

Akbar

How many people died as a result of that Iranian hostile action? …zero?

How many die when Israel is hostile? .. over a thousand each time. With billions of dollars of destruction to Israel’s neighbors.

And by the way, Here is how that story ended

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/17944210/

And Another by the way … it was Syria who helped gain the release of those British sailors. (see above link)

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December 1st, 2009, 3:08 am

 

18. Akbar Palace said:

How many people died as a result of that Iranian hostile action? …zero?

Alex,

I think the better question is “how many people died as a result of state-sponsored arab/islamic terrorism?.

In this case, you’ll find the number of dead people (mostly muslims) is orders of magnitude higher than anything related to Israel’s self-defence.

Most people understand that if Israel didn’t exist, these astronomical numbers wouldn’t change much. Israel didn’t cause Syria to demolish Hama, Israel didn’t invade Kuwait, Israel didn’t start any fighting between KSA and the Yemeni rebels, Israel didn’t gas the Iraqis in Halabja, Israel didn’t kick the Kurds into the mountains in the mid-90s, Israel didn’t kill Algerians, Israel didn’t bomb civilians in Iraq, Afghanistan, or Pakistan.

The Iranian kidnapping by your heroes in Tehran is just a tiny example of what Israel and the rest of the world are dealing with.

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December 1st, 2009, 3:04 pm

 

19. Alex said:

Akbar,

Again, when you write “Israel and the rest of the world are dealing with”, you want to forget that Israel IS seen in poll after poll as one of (if not THE) biggest threat to world peace by the PEOPLE ,,, you are still happy that politicians which Israel’s friends are able to corrupt, like the many American ones and soon the British conservative ones, are Israeli allies.

Of course Israel was not behind much of the violence (and by the way, let’s not call everything “state-sponsored arab/islamic terrorism?” please) … Did I claim that Israel had a monopoly on killing innocent people? … Unfortunately, every major player in the Middle East committed violence against civilians. We are not Northern Europe yet.

But if Syria did Hama … that was almost 30 years ago. The past ten years … compare the number of civilians that Syria killed to the number of civilians that Israel killed. And compare the frequency with which Israel continues to go on the attack against populations it occupies (Palestinians) or it lives next to (Lebanon).

The bottom line is: As long as Israel continues to play games instead of being serious about peace based on UN resolutions … based on withdrawal to the pre67 borders, Israel will continue to be a top threat to world peace.

Just look at the story Josh linked … Israeli agents are pretending to be local security agents at many airports … spying and intentionally delaying travelers! … How much more do you need to realize that your current form of Israel is not right? … If you are the only country in the world that gives itself the right to spy on travelers in all major airports then don’t be surprised that Israel places first as a threat to world peace

http://feeds.bignewsnetwork.com/?sid=570743

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December 1st, 2009, 7:43 pm

 

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