Has Washington Decided to Focus on Syrian-Israeli Peace?

Is the return of a US ambassador to Damascus connected to a decision by Washington turn to the Syrian track of the peace process?

Clinton Blamed the Failure of Israel-Syria Peace Talks on Syria

Clinton Blamed the Failure of Israel-Syria Peace Talks on Syria

Jeb Koogler, a research fellow at the New America Foundation, writes here that the Al Sharq Al-Awsat reports that the new nominee to be ambassador to Syria, Robert Ford, will have as a key focus the Israel-Syrian track of the peace process.  “The Obama administration is trying to get those talks up and running in the next months,” he asserts. The Al Sharq Al Awsat piece can be found here.

The Al-Sharq al-Awsat article is correct from what I understand. Syrian officials have been led to understand that the return of a US ambassador is linked to Mitchell’s interest in jump starting the Syrian track of the peace process now that the Palestinian track has gone cold. The Syrians welcome the return of an Ambassador, which they have been pushing for for years. All the same, they fear that the Obama administration is interested in the Syrian track for purely strategic reasons. They worry that it is a gimmick and that Washington has no genuine faith that it can actually bring the process to a conclusion – certainly not one that satisfies Syria’s key request that the Golan be returned. After witnessing Obama’s Palestinian policy collapse and the Obama’s retreat from pressuring Israel on settlements, Syrian authorities are skeptical that Mitchell will have any more luck delivering on the Golan.

President Netanyahu insists that the Golan belongs to Israel. When running for the Prime Minister’s office, candidate Netanyahu promised never to return the Golan. He said,

“Gamla will not fall again. The Golan will stay in our hands only if the Likud is victorious. If Kadima wins, we will leave the Golan,” [Gamla was the historic capital of the Jewish Golan, sacked by the Romans in 68 CE

In Novermber 2009, Netanyahu seemed to back track ever so slightly from this position. During a meeting with French President Sarkozy and shortly after meeting with Obama in Washington, he announced that,

“Israel would be prepared to hold immediate peace negotiations with Syria, as long as the talks were held without preconditions.

This was a change in rhetoric and not in policy. Syria announced in response that it preferred to talk with Israel through the Turks. Israel insisted that the Turks were anti-Israeli and that talks be through the French, or better yet, direct and without preconditions. Syria refuses to hold direct negotiations without a stated Israeli commitment to withdraw from the Golan. Netanyahu will not give such a commitment. The Syrians are convinced that Netanyahu means what he says about not returning the Golan. They also believe that US officials cannot or will not pressure Israel to return the Golan, as they could not pressure it to stop expansion in the occupied Palestinian territories.

Mitchell: Syria, Lebanon key to Mideast peace

Mitchell: Syria, Lebanon key to Mideast peace

In short, the return of an ambassador is good, but playing along with a peace process that is long on process and short on peace will be difficult for Syria, which has none of the media savvy that Israel has. Damascus undoubtedly fears that Mitchell will ask Syrians to meet with Netanyahu without conditions. Syria believes this is tantamount to normalizing relations without any Israeli concession. This is what happened to the Saudis only months ago. They were asked to normalize relations with Israel as a good faith measure and prerequisite to getting the Palestinian track working. When the Saudis refused, claiming that they had already offered a viable peace plan and had won the willingness of every Muslim country to recognize Israel in the case of peace, Israelis and some US State Department officials blamed the Saudis for the collapse of the talks. Syrians worry that the same thing is about to happen to them. Washington, unable to get peace, will settle for process, the failure of which will ultimately be blamed on Syria. Syria does not want to be a Patsy.
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NEWS SUMMARY

Barak: Without Syria peace, we could be headed for all-out war
By Amos Harel, Haaretz

Defense Minister Ehud Barak warned Monday that the stalled peace process with Syria could augur ill for the future of the Middle East.

“In the absence of an arrangement with Syria, we are liable to enter a belligerent clash with it that could reach the point of an all-out, regional war,” Barak told senior Israel Defense Forces officers on Monday.

“Just like the familiar reality in the Middle East, we will immediately sit down [with Syria] after such a war and negotiate on the exact same issues which we are have been discussing with them for the last 15 years,” the defense minister said.

“A political arrangement is not the dream come true of the other side,” Barak added. “This will be a choice of no choice. If the other side believes that it is possible to bring down Israel, to wage a battle of attrition against it, or lure it into a honey trap, then it will prefer to do so.”

The defense minister has long called for a resumption of peace talks with Damascus, yet his warning of a regional war is significant in that it is uncharacteristically sharp and strident.

Berlosconi, Italy’s Prime Minister, is calling for peace between Israel and Syria with the return of the Golan as the centerpiece. (Haaretz)

“Henry Kissinger used to say that there could never be war in the Middle East without Egypt, but no peace was possible without Syria. By virtue of the courage of statesmen like [Egyptian President Anwar] Sadat and [Israeli Prime Minister Menachem] Begin, Egypt definitively disengaged from this equation and President [Hosni] Mubarak has decisively continued on this path. The time has come for Syria and Israel to act together for the sake of peace, in the framework of which the Golan Heights will be returned and at the same time diplomatic and friendly relations will be established between the two countries, and Damascus for its part will stop supporting organizations that do not recognize Israel’s existence. All of us are working to find a comprehensive solution, and Italy’s presence in Lebanon [as part of the United Nations peacekeeping force] is testimony to this.”

On Israel’s settlement policy in the West Bank and relations with the Palestinians:

“Israel’s settlement policy could be an obstacle to peace. I would like to say to the people and government of Israel, as a friend, with my hand on my heart, that persisting with this policy is a mistake.

Israel Spied On Iran, Syria From Secret Turkish Base
Press TV | January 30, 2010

Revelations of a secret Israeli spy base, which was allegedly set up in Ankara to gather classified information on Iran and Syria, has dragged Tel Aviv into a new spy scandal. Sources in Turkey’s ruling party told Russia’s Mignews that Israeli spy agents ran an advanced electronic monitoring station from the Ankara military headquarters to keep tabs on communication networks in Iran and Syria.

According to the sources who were speaking on condition of anonymity, the Signals Intelligence station was solely managed by Israeli intelligence personnel and had become off-limits for members of the Turkish government. (Excerpt) Read more at presstv.ir

Turkey PM: Israel should mull future without us as ally
By Haaretz Service

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Sunday warned Israel should to “take another look at its relations with its neighbors” if it wants to maintain ties with Turkey in the future.

“Israel should give some thought to what it would be like to lose a friend like Turkey in the future,” Erodegan told Euronews, regarding his thoughts on the recent tensions between the two Mediterranean countries.

“The way they recently treated our ambassador has no place in international politics,” said Erdogan, referring to a recent diplomatic incident in which Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon summoned the envoy and treated him with deliberate disrespect.
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“We have done our best for Israel-Syria relations,” added Erdogan. “But now we see Benjamin Netanyahu saying: ‘I do not trust Erdogan, but I trust Sarkozy’. Do you have to give a name? This is diplomatic inexperience, too.”

Diplomatic relations between Israel and Turkey deteriorated over a sequence of incidents since the 2008 Gaza offensive, which Erdogan and his cabinet in Ankara adamantly criticized.

“We have important ongoing agreements between us. How can these agreements be kept going in this climate of mistrust?” Erdogan told Euronews.

Regarding Turkey’s criticism over Israel’s Cast Lead Operation, Erdogan said: “When innocent civilians are ruthlessly killed, struck by phosphorus bombs, infrastructure is demolished in bombing and people are forced to live in an open-air prison?

“We can not see this as compatible with the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, simply human rights, and we can not close our eyes to all this happening,” he said.

Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman has declared that he would never allow Turkey to resume its role as mediator in Israel’s indirect peace talks with Syria. Following ongoing diplomatic tension, Lieberman also suggested to Netanyahu that Israel recall its envoy in Ankara, but the prime minister vetoed the idea

Dershowitz: Goldstone is a traitor to the Jewish people
By Haaretz Service. “The Goldstone report is a defamation written by an evil, evil man,” Dershowitz said.

Clinton warns China to stay the course on Iran nuclear sanctions
By Paul Richter

In Paris, the U.S. secretary of State tells Beijing to think about the longer-term consequences even though it may seem ‘counterproductive’ to sanction a country from which it gets key resources.

China threatens U.S. with sanctions on Taiwan arms
Ben Blanchard and Chris Buckley, Sat Jan 30, 2010

BEIJING (Reuters) – China threatened U.S. firms who sell weapons to Taiwan with sanctions on Saturday, as Beijing ratcheted up the pressure in a ballooning crisis that will widen already deep rifts in their relationship.

The Foreign Ministry, Defense Ministry and China’s Taiwan Affairs Office all piled in with their own dire warnings, including that arms sales would affect Sino-U.S. cooperation on major international and regional issues.

“The United States must be responsible for the serious repercussions if it does not immediately reverse the mistaken decision to sell Taiwan weapons,” Chinese Vice Foreign Minister He Yafei told the U.S. ambassador to China, Jon Huntsman…..

From POMED

Debate Intensifies Over Regime Change in Iran: A Newsweek column written by Richard Haass, president of the influential Council on Foreign Relations, ignited a firestorm of debate. Though an admitted “card-carrying realist,” Haass announced his support for regime change and called upon Western governments to formulate and sufficiently resource new Iran policies that simultaneously support the opposition and weaken the pillars of the regime. … Stephen Walt offered a rejoinder to Haass, claiming that “we simply don’t have enough information to know what is happening in Tehran.” …Gregg Carlstrom pushed back with the claim by saying, “If the regime falls, it will be because the Iranians decide to topple it – not because of anything that happens on Pennsylvania Avenue.” Finally, Flynt and Hillary Mann Leverett disputed Haass’ argument and highlighted eerie similarities between his recent column and his erstwhile pronouncements of “enough” with respect to Iraq.

Elsewhere, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton announced the administration’s support for “even stricter sanctions on Iran to try to change the behavior of the regime.” This statement came as Iran prepared to execute two men for their alleged role in anti-government protests and a deadly mosque bombing..

Also, Larry Diamond, senior fellow at the Hoover Institution and the director of Stanford’s Center on Democracy, Development, and the Rule of Law, penned an interesting piece [PDF] entitled “Why Are There No Arab Democracies?” for the latest issue of the Journal of Democracy. Diamond highlights, and attempts to explain, the dearth of democracies throughout the Arab world. Alarmed that the “third wave” of democratization produced a “critical mass” of democracies in every region save one – the Middle East – he considers the possible reasons behind the region’s collective reticence toward meaningful reform. You can find a more detailed summary of Diamond’s piece on POMED’s blog.

Reuters (Thanks FLC)

” … Jones said the United States and Israel are in close coordination over how to handle Iran. “We have very good dialogue with Israel, continual dialogue,” he told The Jerusalem Post. “We’re working very closely with them.” Asked whether Washington was concerned about Israel trying to take on its arch-foe alone, Jones said: “Our Israeli partners are very responsible.” Michael Oren, Israel’s envoy to the United States, said last month the military option “was not a subject of discussion.”…..”

YNEtnews

“Tzipi Livni claimed in her speech at the Herzliya Conference at the Interdisciplinary Center, “The connection the government has made between the Iranian threat and the end of the conflict with the Palestinians is erroneous and a double mistake.” … “The request to the world to help us with Iran so that we can make progress with the Palestinians sends the message that Iran is an Israeli problem, and this is not true. The world must understand that Iran is a problem for the entire international community, and action must be taken against it,” claimed Livni.

Syria – From Isolation to Key Player in the International Arena
Written by Memri.org
Saturday, 30 January 2010 09:08

In a December 29, 2009 speech to the Syrian parliament, Syrian Foreign Minister Walid Al-Mu’allem summed up the achievements of his country’s political policy in 2009 by saying, “For Syria, 2009 was a year of political success in every sense of the term, and on all fronts…”[1] Indeed, the past year has seen a significant improvement in Syria’s regional and international standing; it managed to extricate itself from its isolation internationally and in the Arab world, and to position itself as an influential regional force. By the end of 2009, the Syrian regime had become self-confident and certain of the effectiveness of its “path of resistance” policy, and was challenging the regional order and the world order and acting powerfully to change both…..

…The Armed Resistance in Lebanon and Palestine

In the recent years, Syria stepped up its support of Hamas and Hizbullah, as representatives of the resistance in Palestine and in Lebanon respectively. It also continued its mostly covert support of the insurgents fighting U.S. forces in Iraq.[7]

France, U.S. Turn Towards Syria

This strategy won Syria much support in the Arab street, but brought it into an almost unprecedented conflict – to the brink of a cold war[8] – with many Arab regimes, especially Saudi Arabia and Egypt, as well as with the U.S. Even though this policy led to its isolation by some Arab regimes and by the West, and seemed to place the Syrian regime in danger of collapse, it has as of late 2009 proven to be wise. In contrast to the Bush administration and to Chirac’s government, which saw Syria as an obstacle and as posing a risk to their attainment of their goals in the Middle East, the governments of French President Nicolas Sarkozy and of U.S. President Barack Obama, and, following them, also the Saudi regime, see Syria as a means for achieving broader goals, and they are attempting to get it on their side. With Syria stubbornly clinging to its positions, these governments are moving away from the policies of their predecessors and are abandoning the approach of clashing with Syria and isolating it. Instead, they have begun treating it as a key regional country capable of mediating between the West and Iran and of influencing the level of violence in the Palestinian territories, in Lebanon, and in Iraq…..

Observer 53 writes:

Syria has now coordinated with Iran the political stabilization of Iraq whereby the alliance of the Sunni tribes that straddle the border between Syria and Iraq is the responsibility of Syria and the Shia alliances are those of Iran. Iran, Syria, and Turkey are now working together to contain the instability in Iraq, reduce the Kurdish areas to their proper state as they had developed ideas of grandeur. The Iranians are conducting deep incursions into Kurdish areas to allegedly stop smuggling, but it could be for many other reasons. They are going to negotiate the exploitation of oil fields with both Kurdistan and Iraq from a position of strength. Both are slowly replacing the vacuum left by the US as it abandons Iraq in 2011. They will apply the same technique that they did in Lebanon, control the political landscape to their full advantage.

My reading of the situation in Lebanon is that the Sunnis are quite despondent about the performance of their leader Hariri. They are now divided and like the Maronites without any real power. Even France has acquiesced to allow Syria full control over Lebanon.

The State of Union speech has clearly shown that the theme that the US is falling behind is now accepted. When Obama says that we should not accept that other countries can make faster trains, he is already admitting that the US is behind at least in this area.

For those not in the US, I can tell you that there is a great malaise about the state of the country. Individuals may still be looking forward to the next football game, but all are quite concerned with the fact their children will have a worse situation than they did.

Syria, Iran, and Turkey are now moving more to the East and will continue to have a greater alliance than ever. The efforts to woe Syria away from Iran actually made Syria even stronger for now it can negotiate from a position of strength and has ever more cards in its hands.

How telling that Petraues has accused the Justice and Accountability commission in Iraq of being an Iranian instrument.

If Jumblat is a bell weather for Lebanon then Chalabi is the same for Iraq and he is singing an Farsi tune these days.

In the West Bank’s stony hills, Palestine is slowly dying
Saturday, 30 January 2010
Robert Fisk, INdependent

In the richest of the Occupied lands, Israeli bureaucracy is driving Palestinians out of their homes. Robert Fisk reports from Jiftlik

Palestinian women huddle amid their belongings after Israeli forces demolished their homes in the West Bank village of Khirbet Tana, near Nablus earlier this month

Area C doesn’t sound very ominous. A land of stone-sprinkled grey hills and soft green valleys, it’s part of the wreckage of the equally wrecked Oslo Agreement, accounting for 60 per cent of the Israeli-occupied West Bank that was eventually supposed to be handed over to its Palestinian inhabitants.

But look at the statistics and leaf through the pile of demolition orders lying on the table in front of Abed Kasab, head of the village council in Jiftlik, and it all looks like ethnic cleansing via bureaucracy. Perverse might be the word for the paperwork involved. Obscene appear to be the results.

Palestinian houses that cannot be permitted to stand, roofs that must be taken down, wells closed, sewage systems
demolished; in one village, I even saw a primitive electricity system in which Palestinians must sink their electrical poles cemented into concrete blocks standing on the surface of the dirt road. To place the poles in the earth would ensure their destruction – no Palestinian can dig a hole more than 40cm below the ground……..

Critics of Pro-Israel Lobby Gather
Several of the pro-Israel lobby’s strongest critics gathered in Chicago to fight what they described as Jewish efforts to..
by Ben Harris, Jewish Telegraph Agency (JTA)
October 16, 2007

Chicago (JTA) — Collectively they have published more than a hundred books and countless articles. Four are tenured professors at elite American universities. Internet searches reveal them to be widely cited experts on international affairs and American foreign policy.

In short, it’s difficult to imagine a collection of academics more secure in their posts or more prominent.

But there they were — Noam Chomsky, John Mearsheimer, Tony Judt and fellow travelers — at a conference last week hosted by the University of Chicago warning that pressure from American Jewish groups is having a chilling effect on unpopular scholarship and free-wheeling debate on university campuses.

“Universities are the one place in the United States where Israel tends to get treated like a normal country,” said Mearsheimer, the University of Chicago professor and co-author of “The Israel Lobby,” which asserts that the pro-Israel community stifles debate over U.S. policy in the Middle East.

“Some find this situation intolerable,” he told a nearly packed 1,500-seat auditorium, “which causes them to work hard to stifle criticism of Israel and to instead promote a positive image of Israel on campuses.”…..

Syrian woman celebrates 110th birthday
2010-02-01 12:28:06.671 GMT

A Syrian woman Wasila Ali Qaddour, known as Um Hassan, celebrated her 110th birthday in January in her hometown village in Syria’s northwestern governorate of Idleb, the official SANA news agency reported on Monday.

Wasila is still blessed with good health and does her housework. The people of her town call her “the memory of the village” or the oldest grandmother with 100 grandsons. They consider her a historical reference for the writers and historians of the village, the report said, Xinhua reported.

The long-lived lady has a good memory, remembering old popular lyrics and folk songs.

She can talk her childhood story clearly such as how she was walking barefooted with her mother when the French occupation forces gathered the people of the village to force them to give information about the revolutionists and their relatives, SANA said.

Vegetables are her basic food. She doesn’t eat meat except at the religious and social events. Moreover, She even can fast in the Ramadan.

Comments (36)


1. norman said:

DR Landis,

I believe that President Clinton in his book blamed the failure if the Syrian / Israeli peace talk on Israel and Barack , while Dennis Ross blamed the failure on Syria and we all know where Dennis Ross heart is ,

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February 2nd, 2010, 12:03 am

 

2. Matt said:

The second link does not work. Thanks.

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February 2nd, 2010, 1:32 am

 

3. Akbar Palace said:

Set Your Clock

Meanwhile, state-run Press TV quoted Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad on Sunday as saying that the nation will deliver a harsh blow to “global arrogance” on February 11.

http://www.cnn.com/2010/WORLD/meast/01/31/iran.protests/index.html?section=cnn_latest

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February 2nd, 2010, 2:47 am

 

4. Nicholas92200 said:

Ehsani, you’ll like this:

ة

دمشق
صحيفة تشرين
اقتصاد
الاثنين 1 شباط 2010
رنا حج إبراهيم
في تقرير أولي أعدته وزارة الصناعة تناول عدد العمالة الفائضة الإجمالية لدى الشركات التابعة للمؤسسات الصناعية في الوزارة لعام 2009.

تبين أن إجمالي عدد العاملين الفائضين في جميع المؤسسات 9217 عاملاً منهم 1279 عاملاً إدارياً و7938 عاملاً في الإنتاج. وبيّن التقرير أن المؤسسة العامة للصناعات النسيجية تضم 5323 عاملاً فائضاً من بينهم 4737 عاملاً إنتاجياً و586 عاملاً إدارياً.. أما المؤسسة العامة للصناعات الغذائية ففيها 584 عاملاً فائضاً منهم 430 عاملاً إنتاجياً.. وفي المؤسسة العامة الهندسية هناك 1498 عاملاً فائضاً منهم 1125 في قسم الإنتاج والمؤسسة العامة الكيميائية تضم 1027 عاملاً فائضاً منهم 983 عاملاً إنتاجياً، وهناك 511 عاملاً فائضاً في المؤسسة العامة للاسمنت منهم 411 عاملاً إنتاجياً، ويوجد في المؤسسة العامة للسكر 198 عاملاً فائضاً منهم 192 عاملاً إنتاجياً، أما المؤسسة العامة لحلج وتسويق الأقطان فلديها 76 عاملاً فائضاً منهم 60 عاملاً إنتاجياً، هذا وتتكلف وزارة الصناعة مبلغاً إجمالياً سنوياً على العمال المذكورين في جميع المؤسسات يبلغ ملياراً وثمانمئة وسبعة وأربعين مليوناً وثلاثمئة وثلاث وتسعين ألف ليرة منهم حوالى 977 مليوناً و353 ألف ليرة في المؤسسة العامة للصناعات النسيجية. وتطرق التقرير إلى عدد العمالة الفائضة لأسباب صحية أو التي خبرتها أكثر من 25 عاماً حيث يبلغ إجمالي العمالة الفائضة (لأسباب صحية) كعدد إجمالي في جميع المؤسسات 1574 عاملاً إنتاجياً و241 عاملاً إدارياً، أما عدد العمالة التي خبرتها أكثر من 25 عاماً فيبلغ إجماليها 1282 عاملاً إنتاجياً و250 عاملاً إدارياً. أما العدد الإجمالي للعمالة التي عمرها أكثر من 55 عاماً فيبلغ 682 عاملاً إنتاجياً في جميع المؤسسات و101 عامل إداري، وعدد العمالة الفائضة لعدم الحاجة كإجمالي عام 4400 عامل إنتاجي و687 عاملاً إدارياً. ‏

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February 2nd, 2010, 3:38 am

 

5. Leo Leoni said:

Barrack has no reason to escalate such a talk about an all-out war. Perhaps he’s trying to legitimize his position within such a right-wing Israeli cabinet and does not want to be the odd one out. Anyways, Syria’s position is very clear, Israel needs to admit that the Golan is Syrian territory and to return it to Syria for any genuine peace to occur.

The United Nations, the United States, the European Union, the United Kingdom, the Arab League, the International Committee of the Red Cross, Amnesty International,and Human Rights Watch ALL consider the Golan Heights to be Syrian territory occupied by Israel.

With time, with the age of information and media, Israel is realizing that it is losing the image that it once had in the minds of the West. When Turkey, Iran (Pre 79), and the EU used to be silent on the atrocities committed by Israel. Anyways, time is different now, and as usual Israel keeps trying to find a bogus reason to keep unto the occupied territories, continue with the expansion of illegal settlements, and escalate to war from now and then. I wonder till when they can continue with this.

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February 2nd, 2010, 3:44 am

 

6. Joshua said:

Norman,
Clinton did cast blame on Barak for getting cold feet in his memoir which was written after his presidency came to an end. But at the time of the collapse of the talks, he blamed it on Assad alone in concert with Ross and Barak.

They all used Syria for their own political needs.

Matt, the link is fixed.
Best, Joshua

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February 2nd, 2010, 3:45 am

 

7. norman said:

The question i have to all of you,

Would Syria abandon the Palestinians to fend for themselves if it was given the Golan , I doubt that ,

Any thoughts ?.

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February 2nd, 2010, 4:08 am

 

8. Amir in Tel Aviv said:

Right Norman.

So what you’re actually saying , is that hypothetically, Syria makes peace
with Israel, in return Israel gives the Golan to Syria, and Israel expects peace.

But Syria doesn’t “abandon the Palestinians to fend for themselves”.
So, It’s not about land for peace after all, is it?

Of course it isn’t. It was never about land for peace. It was always
about the right of Jews to independence in the HolyLand.
.

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February 2nd, 2010, 8:31 am

 

9. Doc said:

@ Norman

One can of course not be sure which way the wind blows. But read the latest report(s) by ICG on Syria. It is mentioned there is an understandning that no part will prevent the other from reaching an agreement, but also not at the expense of oneanother.

Is also a question of legitimacy for the Syrian regime.

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February 2nd, 2010, 8:39 am

 

10. Shai said:

Norman,

True peace can only be achieved once the Palestinians have their own state (either a two-state or one-state solution). Even if Israel returned the entire Golan this afternoon, and Syria invited an Israeli ambassador to Damascus, it would not be a warm peace. Israelis would feel as welcomed in Damascus as they are today in Cairo or Amman. But it is still a better alternative to the existing state-of-war. Ehud Barak, in a rare moment of wisdom, stated yesterday that if Israel and Syria do not reach Peace soon, one cannot dismiss all-out war as an option. You and I both know he’s right.

The Palestinians need to believe that Syria will not abandon them and that, quite the opposite, it will better serve them if it is talking to Israel, than if it is fighting it. Of that, I’m quite certain as well.

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February 2nd, 2010, 8:47 am

 

11. norman said:

shai,
I agree with you , the question is will Israel move on the Palestinian track to provide cover for Syria and to make peace worthwhile for the Israeli people , the risk for Israel is that another peace like Israel and Egypt will confirm what Amir is saying that the Arab side is not willing to accept the right of the Jews to return , so it has to be a comprehensive peace ,to break the cycle

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February 2nd, 2010, 1:17 pm

 

12. norman said:

DOC,
Syria’s foreign policy takes into account the opinion of the Arab street and with a peace deal with Israel without the Palestinians will make their argument as an Arab nationalist state shaky

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February 2nd, 2010, 1:21 pm

 

13. LeoLeoni said:

Norman,

Syria would never abandon the Palestinians, but getting back the Golan for Syria is a priority as was getting Sinai in the Egyptian case and as is the West Bank for the Palestinians. I am against mixing issues together and associating with additional demands and conditions. The Israelis are having a hard time negotiating over the Golan, so pressing other issues and tangling them together will only make things more complicated.

Syria rejected Sadat’s move on the presumption that it would never leave the Palestinians. But then again, Syria had the worst relationship with Arafat and the PLO, fighting them in Lebanon and then the Syrian defense minister insulting him in public are just few examples. Then a fragile relationship with his successor Abbas, who prefers to listen to Egypt than Syria. Syria can only stand by the Palestinians but should not force them to anything.
Anyways, the regime today does not think in the pan-Arabist mentality that was prevalent from the 60s till the 90s. Today they are realist in their approach, which makes things less complicated for reaching solutions

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February 2nd, 2010, 8:23 pm

 

14. Shai said:

Norman, Leoleoni,

“The Israelis are having a hard time negotiating over the Golan, so pressing other issues and tangling them together will only make things more complicated.”

There is another angle here, that speaks of the Obama administration’s view of the Arab-Israeli conflict. It is the fear that if Netanyahu is pushed not only on the Palestinian track, but also on giving back the Golan, that this will be too much, and his government will fall. This assumption has led the U.S. to push aside the Israeli-Syrian track, and to focus purely on the Palestinian one.

I believe, this was a dangerous gamble, and one that has thus far cost us valuable time (1/3 of Obama’s effective term is over, and is not coming back! – in the 4th year, he’ll be too busy campaigning.) The U.S. should have at least moved in parallel, along both tracks. I hope by now it realizes it must invest more in Syria (as attested perhaps by the nomination of the new ambassador to Damascus), and it must quickly reignite the Israeli-Syrian dialogue with clear goals and timetable in mind. The Golan is the simplest of hurdles on the road to eventual comprehensive solution, but it too will take time. None of us can afford to wait and see what follows Barack Obama, or Netanyahu for that matter.

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February 2nd, 2010, 8:34 pm

 

15. majedkhaldoun said:

We can talk about the Golan for years , Israel will not return it to Syria,unless Israel have to, probably by force

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February 2nd, 2010, 9:33 pm

 

16. Akbar Palace said:

We can talk about the Golan for years , Israel will not return it to Syria,unless Israel have to, probably by force

Majedkhaldoun,

I’m not sure why Israel should have to give the Golan back without a negotiated peace treaty. Further, I’m not exactly sure what it is the Syrians have offered Israel in this regard.

But if you think “force” is the best way to get back the Golan, then go for it.

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February 3rd, 2010, 12:36 am

 

17. Averroes said:

Israel feels under siege. Like a victim. An underdog

Robert Fisk – The Independent February 2, 2010

So the propaganda war is on. Forget Israel’s invasion of Lebanon in 1982 and the 15,000 Lebanese and Palestinian dead. Forget the Sabra and Shatila massacre that same year by Israel’s militia allies as their troops watched. Erase the Qana massacre of 1996 – 106 Lebanese killed by Israeli shellfire, more than half of them children – and delete the 1,500 in the 2006 Lebanon war. And forget, of course, the more than 1,300 Palestinians slaughtered by Israel in Gaza last year (and the 13 Israelis killed by Hamas at that time) after Hamas rockets fell on Sderot. Israel – if you believe the security elite of Israel’s right wing here in Herzliya – is now under an even more dangerous, near-unprecedented attack.

Britain – this came yesterday from Israel’s ambassador in London, no less – is “a battlefield” in which Israel’s enemies wish to “de-legitimise” the 62-year-old Jewish state.

Even Israel’s erstwhile friend, that fine Jewish judge Richard Goldstone, is now, in the words of one of Israel’s staunchest American-Jewish supporters, Al Dershowitz, an “absolute traitor to the Jewish people” and “an evil, evil man”. (Headlines for this, of course, in Israel yesterday.)

Israel under siege. That was the dreary, familiar, hopelessly misunderstood theme at the 10th annual Herzliya conference of diplomats, Israeli civil servants, military gold braid and government yesterday.

Israel the underdog. Israel the victim. Israel whose state-of-the-art, more-moral-than-any-other army was now in danger of seeing its generals arraigned on war crimes charges if they set foot in Europe.

Heaven forbid that Israeli officers should ever be accused of atrocities! The Jerusalem Post yesterday carried a photograph of Kadima leader Tzipi Livni looking at a Krakow poster abusing her as “wanted for war crimes in Gaza”. Forget that she did nothing as Foreign Minister when the Israelis rained phosphorus on Gaza. This whole judicial attack on Israel was an abuse, a deliberate use of international law to de-legitimise the state of Israel – like all the other condemnation of Israel. Would that it was. This current identity crisis is indeed a tragedy for Israel – though not in the way that its right-wing government now suggests.

I remember all too well how, after the disastrous Israeli invasion of Lebanon in 1982, a huge London conference sought to find out how Israeli “propaganda” failed. Never mind the slaughter of the Lebanese and the growing Israeli military casualties. How come Israel’s message didn’t get across? How come the anti-Semitic press was allowed to get away with such calumny? It was an identikit forum to this week’s Herzliya confab.

Today we must forget Operation Cast Lead against Gaza and its savage casualties. We must condemn the Goldstone Report for its unspeakable lies – that the army of good may have committed war crimes against the terrorists of evil – and realise that Israel only wanted peace.

In reality, Israel has made a series of terrible diplomatic mistakes. I’m not talking about the humiliation heaped on the Turkish ambassador by Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon – he, too, was at Herzliya. I’m not referring to the preposterous complaints by Ron Prossor, the Israeli ambassador to Britain, that in times of crisis there was “a cacophany of voices from Israel”, rather than a single voice.

No, Israel’s gravest mistake in recent years was to refuse to contribute to Goldstone’s report on the 2008-09 slaughter in Gaza. A “foolish boycott”, the daily Haaretz called it. A disaster, according to Israel’s liberal left, who rightly spotted that it placed Israel on the level of Hamas.

I have sat through hours of the Herzliya conference – it ends with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s cheerleading for the masses tomorrow night – and the Goldstone Report and the fear of “de-legitimisation” has run like a thread through almost every debate.

I sat next to an Israeli PhD student yesterday who shook his head in despair. “I and my friends are filled with terrible disappointment when we hear these statements from our government. What can we say? What can we do?” It was an enlightening comment. Is this not what millions of British people said when Tony Blair took them to war on a sheaf of lies in 2003?

One of the most distressing moments at Herzliya came when Lorna Fitzsimons, former Labour MP and now head of Bicom, a British-based pro-Israeli think-tank, pointed out that “public opinion does not influence foreign policy in Britain. Foreign policy is an elite issue.” Deal with the elite, and the proles will follow – that was the implication. “Our enemies are going out to international courts where we are not supreme,” she said.

And that, in a sense, said it all. International legitimacy is what Israel demands. And as a state it is legitimate. It was voted into existence by the United Nations. And, as the Israeli historian Avi Shlaim has said, its creation may not have been just – but it was legitimate. Yet when an international juridical team invited Israel to participate in its inquiries, Mr Netanyahu smugly refused.

In this sense, the Gaza war proved what is so deeply troubling about the current Israeli body politic. It wants the world to recognise its democracy – however flawed this may be – but it will not join the world when asked to account for its behaviour in Gaza.It claims to be a light among the nations but will not let anyone look too closely at that light, to examine its fuel and to look precisely at what it illuminates.

Goldstone, Goldstone, Goldstone. The eminent lawyer who so bravely sought justice for the murdered and raped victims of the Serbs in the Bosnian war – and whose bravery inspired the world, including Israel, at that time – has been on the lips of every Israeli government apologist at Herzliya.

Tzipi Livni spoke of him. So did Yossi Gal, the Israeli foreign affairs ministry director-general. He spoke of the “attempt to use the Goldstone Report to push Israel to the margins of legitimacy”. So did Malcolm Hoenlein of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organisations. He noted that the US administration had been “overwhelmingly responsive” – ie dismissive – of the Goldstone Report. Even the mouse-like US ambassador to Israel, James Cunningham, suggested that the Goldstone Report might be used as an attempt to de-legitimise Israel.

What is this nonsense? After the 1982 massacre of Sabra and Shatila Palestinians, Israel appointed a government commission of inquiry. The Kahan Commission’s report was not perfect – but what other Middle Eastern nation would examine its sins so courageously? It stated that the then Defence Minister Ariel Sharon’s responsibility – he had sent in the Lebanese militias – was “personal”. This report did not expunge Israel’s guilt but it proved that it was a worthy state, one that was prepared to confront this slaughter with honesty rather than abuse.

Alas, no Kahan Commissions for Israel today. No judgment for Gaza. Just a slap on the wrist for a couple of officers who used phosphorus and a criminal charge against a soldier for stealing credit cards.

As it happens, I met Goldstone after he was appointed head of the war crimes tribunal for ex-Yugoslavia in The Hague. A palpably decent, honest man, he said that the world had grown tired of allowing governments to commit war crimes with impunity. He was talking, of course, about Milosevic. He wrote a book on the same lines, warmly praised by Israel. But now he is the earthquake beneath Israel’s legitimacy.

I dropped by the eminently sensible Israeli army reserve colonel Shaul Arieli at his NGO’s office in Tel Aviv yesterday afternoon and discussed the attempts to arrest Israeli military officers for war crimes if they visited Britain and other European countries.

“All this is much more disturbing to us today than it was a few years ago,” he said. “We are afraid of this trend after Operation Cast Lead. It affects the image of Israel all over the world, not just for military officers. If they were charged, it would show that the state of Israel couldn’t protect its soldiers. I am sure that the Goldstone Report affects these things.”

All of which suggests that the real earthquake beneath Israel, the real danger to its image and standing and legitimacy, is a nation called Israel.

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February 3rd, 2010, 3:38 am

 

18. Akbar Palace said:

So the propaganda war is on.

Let’s give Robert Fisk a big round of applause…

http://www.honestreporting.com/articles/critiques/Robert_Fisks_Orwellian_Newspeak.asp

Forget Israel’s invasion of Lebanon in 1982 and the 15,000 Lebanese and Palestinian dead. Forget the Sabra and Shatila massacre that same year by Israel’s militia allies as their troops watched. Erase the Qana massacre of 1996 – 106 Lebanese killed by Israeli shellfire, more than half of them children – and delete the 1,500 in the 2006 Lebanon war. And forget, of course, the more than 1,300 Palestinians slaughtered by Israel in Gaza last year (and the 13 Israelis killed by Hamas at that time) after Hamas rockets fell on Sderot. Israel – if you believe the security elite of Israel’s right wing here in Herzliya – is now under an even more dangerous, near-unprecedented attack.

Erase the 6000 Jews killed during their war of independence…erase the 60 years of Arab terrorism…forget the Six Day War, the Yom Kippur War and the thousands of rockets being fired into Israel. Forget about the post-Oslo bus bombs…Forget the number of dead Arabs killed by the Lebanese, Assad, and Saddam Hussein…

The poor Palestinians

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February 3rd, 2010, 4:12 am

 

19. LeoLeoni said:

Shai,

Agreed, Obama thought that he could press on the process without the Syrians, something that he realized could not happen. Sending an ambassador is a positive step, it will most probably continue with the removal of sanctions.

Akbar said:

“I’m not sure why Israel should have to give the Golan back without a negotiated peace treaty. Further, I’m not exactly sure what it is the Syrians have offered Israel in this regard.”

Akbar,

It’s a very simple formula for peace, Israel returns all of Golan, and in return, Syria stops supporting the resistance forces.

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February 3rd, 2010, 4:13 am

 

20. Global Voices Online » Syria: A Stroll Around the Blogosphere said:

[…] updates and analysis from around Syria and the world, with the provocative headline of “Has Washington Decided to Focus on Syrian-Israeli Peace?“: In short, the return of an ambassador is good, but playing along with a peace process that […]

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February 3rd, 2010, 6:54 am

 

21. Syria: A Stroll Around the Blogosphere said:

[…] updates and analysis from around Syria and the world, with the provocative headline of “Has Washington Decided to Focus on Syrian-Israeli Peace?“: In short, the return of an ambassador is good, but playing along with a peace process that […]

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February 3rd, 2010, 7:01 am

 

22. Observer53 said:

I know that this is not directly related to Syria but it goes along the same tone that I wrote about before: Iran and Syria slowly and quietly replacing the US in Iraq

This is from Juan Cole at Informed Comment
Is US-Iran rivalry Driving the Exclusion of Candidates in Iraq? Is Allawi the Target?
I am going to speculate a little today, but I am hoping it is informed speculation. I think an end-game drama is playing out in Iraq between the United States and Iran, and possibly among factions of Americans in Iraq, over the likely leader of the next Iraqi government. I am going to argue that the disqualification of 500 candidates, some of them prominent Sunni Arabs, is not a sectarian measure, but a strategic strike at a single candidate.

Iraqi Vice president Tariq al-Hashimi, a Sunni Arab and member of the three-man presidential council, visited Washington for consultations with President Barack Obama on Tuesday. In an interview with political scientist Marc Lynch, al-Hashimi was clearly upset about the decision of the High Electoral Commission to exclude over 500 candidates, many of them Sunni Arabs, from running in the March 7 parliamentary elections because of their alleged connections to the banned Baath Party (the secular Arab nationalist party that had been taken over by Saddam Hussein in 1979). But he was apparently not sure how much US intervention he wanted in the crisis.

I think the visit was to strategize with the US over how to counter the Shiite chess move, which was probably carried out in consultation with Iran, aimed at checkmating candidate for prime minister Ayad Allawi. Allawi is one of five or six plausible successors to current Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, assuming al-Maliki cannot muster the seats to allow him a second term. They also include Vice President Adil Abdul Mahdi of the Shiite Islamic Supreme Council of Iraq, former prime minister Ibrahim Jaafari, who broke off from the Da’wa Party, perpetual gadfly and Neoconservative favorite, Ahmad Chalabi, and a couple of others. Of them all, only Allawi is anti-Iran. Of them all, only Chalabi might try to recognize Israel, though many suspect him of being a double agent for Iran.

Al-Maliki, head of the Islamic Mission Party (Da’wa), is running in the State of Laws coalition. But that coalition is mainly made up of the Islamic Mission Party, which just has not been a dominating party in the elections held so far. Unlike in the past two parliamentary elections, al-Maliki declined to join the big coalition of Shiite religious parties, now called the Iraqi National Alliance, which includes the Islamic Supreme Council of Iraq and the Sadr Movement. The Shiite vote could therefore end up being split.

Since the Iraqi constitution specifies that the single party or party-coalition that has the largest number of seats will be given the first shot at forming a government, al-Maliki could only get a second term if Da’wa does unprecedentedly well and outpolls almost all the other Shiite parties together. Worse for Shiite interests, you could imagine a situation where Da’wa gets 65 seats and the Iraqi National Alliance gets 70, but where some other coalition gets 73. It could be the Kurdistan Alliance, or the new cross-sectarian secular coalition of Ayad Allawi, to which Hashimi belongs. If Allawi’s list got the 73 seats in this scenario, he would have the chance to try to form a government.

Allawi, an ex-Baathist of Shiite extraction, was a CIA asset in the 1990s in London, in charge of running the officers in the Iraqi military who defected from the Saddam Hussein regime, and of coordinating terrorist attacks in Baghdad and attempts to assassinate or overthrow Saddam Hussein. Allawi appears to be too much of an Arab nationalist to look with favor on reconciliation with Israel, and so he was disliked by the Neoconservatives in the US. But he was favored behind the scenes by the CIA, which managed to convince George W. Bush to appoint him interim prime minister in June, 2004, a post he held until he was defeated by the religious Shiite parties early the following year. While Allawi was in power, he appointed hard line Sunni Arab nationalists to key positions, including Defence and Interior, who constantly attacked Iran and called it Iraq’s number one enemy. Iran was very upset about this emergence of a Washington-backed ‘Baath lite’ in Baghdad, and may have responded by helping fund the political campaigns of the Shiite religious parties in fall of 2004. The United Iraqi Alliance, Shiite religious parties who made a coalition with each other, unseated Allawi in the January 2005 parliamentary elections, and trounced him again in December 2005.

Allawi leads a small coalition that has 25 members in parliament. He has occasionally attempted to put together a coalition of parties in hopes of unseating al-Maliki, who is to pro-Iran and pro-Shiite religious groups for his taste. But Allawi’s efforts in that direction never bore fruit and he appears not to have gotten the green light from Washington to make a serious push.

But Allawi suddenly became a plausible candidate for prime minister in January for four reasons.

First, the Shiite religious parties are not running unitedly, and so the Shiite vote could well be split.

Second, he did manage to put together Iraqi National Movement that groups both Sunnis and Shiites, most of them secular but including also some religiously-oriented figures.. It includes VP Tariq al-Hashimi as well as Abdul Karim al-Muhammadawi, the Shiite ‘Prince of the Marshes’ and Marsh Arab leader who led a group called Hizbullah in insurgency against the Saddam Hussein regime and is now a notable and leader in Amara. It also included the National Dialogue Bloc of Salih Mutlak, which has 11 seats in parliament, and is made up of Sunni Arab nationalists.

Third, secular parties did relatively well in the January 2009 provincial elections. A Sunni Arab nationalist party, al-Hadba’, took over the northern province of Ninevah. Secular or tribal Sunni Arab groupings did well in al-Anbar and Diyala provinces. And while Da’wa or the Islamic Mission Party is a Shiite fundamentalist grouping, it avoided religious rhetoric in the campaign and did well, especially in Baghdad and Basra.

Fourth, in mid-December Iranian forces took over the Fakka oil field, claimed by Iraq, and raised an Iranian flag over it. This move put the Iraqi Shiite parties, which are close to Iran and probably receive emoluments from Tehran, in a very difficult position. The Iraqi public wanted thunderous denunciations of Iran. None were forthcoming from al-Maliki or other Shiite leaders, though they successfully worked behind the scenes for an Iranian withdrawal. Allawi’s coalition partner, Salih Mutlak, complained bitterly not only about the Iranian incursion but also about al-Maliki’s silence. The Iraqi Shiite press in turn complained about the attempts to promote Irano-phobia in certain quarters. Iraqis are nationalistic, and an anti-Iran backlash could have awarded Allawi’s coalition enough seats to let him form the government.

An Allawi victory would have been music to Washington’s ears, because the Obama administration and the US military could withdraw from an Iraq ruled by a secular Arab nationalist government profoundly suspicious of Iran.

The banning of the candidates, with Mutlak at their head, was initiated by the Accountability and Justice Committee, headed by Ali al-Lami, a militant Shiite. He was arrested in summer of 2008 by the US military on returning from a trip to Beirut, on suspicion that he was a covert leader of the rogue cells called “Special Groups,” within the Mahdi Army. These Special Groups were suspected of being run by the Jerusalem (Quds) Brigade or special forces of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards. He has also been linked to the Asa’ib Ahl al-Haqq, a splinter of the Sadrist Movement involved in the kidnapping of Britishers. Al-Maliki recently released a leader of this radical group, Qais al-Khazali, who will likely campaign for al-Maliki.

Lami is himself running for parliament as part of the Shiite religious parties coalition. He is said to be close to Chalabi, who supports the exclusions.

So it looks to me as though Lami’s move may have been intended to make sure that Allawi’s Iraqi National Movement could not emerge as the largest single bloc in parliament on March 7. The constitution, mind you, doesn’t specify that the party or coalition that forms the government be a plurality or majority. It just has to be the single largest group. By excluding Mutlaq, Lami blunted al-Maliki’s momentum significantly, and may even have provoked some Sunnis to boycott the elections, which would weaken Allawi’s bloc further. Unsurprisingly, al-Maliki was enthusiastic about the exclusions.

I surmise that Iran, including the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps that used to run Lami and Khazali, and some Iraqi Shiite religious parties are conspiring to ensure that whether al-Maliki survives or not (and he is perfectly acceptable to them), the next prime minister of Iraq comes from one of the Shiite religious parties and so remains aligned with Tehran. A possible but unlikely scenario is that fierce Da’wa/ ISCI rivalry allows Chalabi to emerge as a compromise candidate.

The March 7 elections will therefore help to determine whether the US withdrawal from Iraq leaves behind a strong ally of Iran or a government with lukewarm or bad relations with Tehran.

Personally, I don’t find it plausible that even without the disqualifications of Mutlak and some others, Allawi’s Iraqi National Movement would have been the biggest in parliament or that he could become prime minister. He has too much baggage.

It is said that al-Maliki’s own polling points to a Da’wa win. But that development would also surprise me. I think he could get a second term, but it would be by entering a post-election coalition with the Iraqi National Alliance (the Shiite religious parties). It is also possible that the INA will have the most seats, and that Adil Abdul Mahdi of ISCI could emerge as the strongest candidate.

Since al-Maliki is the first fairly strong leader in post-Baath Iraq, and since he seems genuinely to have gotten control of the Iraqi armed forces, any change in prime minister does raise the specter that his successor will not be as good at the game of military influence, leading to more instability.

Long story short, the March 7 elections and the politics around them are only in part sectarian. They are also about the relative position of Washington and Tehran in Baghdad as US troops rapidly withdraw.

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February 3rd, 2010, 5:02 pm

 

23. majedkhaldoun said:

Observer53
thank you for your comment, one can only conclude that in post america withdrawal there will be race for power, but at that time KSA Syria And Iran will do their best to control Iraq,Syria may have the advantage since it has large number of refugees,and long border with Iraq.
by that I am refering to the race of contries around Iraq to control Iraq

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February 3rd, 2010, 7:32 pm

 

24. Shami said:

Majed as long that Iraq is not freed from the rafidi extremists it would remain rejected by the surrounding environment . Mutlaq ,Hashemi ,Ayad Allawi and Hassan Allawi are the less bad choice in my opinion.Adel abdel mahdi is not bad but he is in the wrong party.

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February 3rd, 2010, 11:47 pm

 

25. almasri said:

Like many Egyptians, I feel it is time for the Egyptian government to get rid of the shame brought upon us by the traitor Sadat. When we hear in the news that Hezbollah is planning to liberate northern Palestine from Israel we feel ashamed that we, Egyptians, have not been able to do so with Southern Palestine.
The Egyptians should live honorably as they used to during Nasser’s day. It is a shame upon us, 70 million Egyptians who failed to do what a small organization like Hezbollah could do. It is even a greater shame on us that we allow an Israeli to live in Cairo as a so-called ambassador of the midget state of Israel while Israel uses the plight of Haiti to steal Haitian kids.

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February 4th, 2010, 2:31 am

 

26. Amir in Tel Aviv said:

Mr. Mu’alem threatens Israel with war, moving into Israeli cities. But the last
4 wars ( 1991, 2000, 2006, 2008-9 ) already raged inside Israeli cities.

Israel survived and is thriving. Saddam did not survive. HolyLand Arabs are in pieces. HA is in the bunker, and Gaza is under siege.
.

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February 4th, 2010, 11:17 am

 

27. Akbar Palace said:

al-Masri said:

Like many Egyptians, I feel it is time for the Egyptian government to get rid of the shame brought upon us by the traitor Sadat.

al-Masri,

Sadat died almost 30 years ago. It’s time you placed the “shame” where it belongs: the Egyptian people like such as yourself who aren’t doing anything about it.

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February 4th, 2010, 12:30 pm

 

28. offended said:

“Our message must be clear to [Syrian president Bashar al-Assad]: “In the next war, not only will you lose but you and your family will lose power.”

Belly laughters were heard in Damascus upon hearing Avigdor’s comments.

http://english.aljazeera.net//news/middleeast/2010/02/201024174859584145.html

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February 4th, 2010, 8:02 pm

 

29. Shai said:

Offended,

Once a thug, always a thug.

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February 4th, 2010, 8:39 pm

 

30. Ghat Albird said:

SHAI said:

” Once a thug, always a thug”.

Case closed.

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February 4th, 2010, 8:59 pm

 

31. Shai said:

Ghat,

I was referring to Avigdor Lieberman, not to what you were referring to… 😉

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February 4th, 2010, 9:02 pm

 

32. offended said:

Shai,

Indeed. Foreign ministry job requires finesse, and this guy has none. Don’t you guys have a suitable ministry for him? like tourism or something? : )

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February 4th, 2010, 10:11 pm

 

33. jad said:

Offended,
What do you expect from an uneducated Romanian immigrant who used to work as a bouncer in a brothel (according to Wikipedia ;), Brothel, also known as a bordello, cathouse, whorehouse, sporting house and various other euphemisms, is an establishment specifically dedicated to prostitution, providing the prostitutes a place to meet and to have sexual intercourse with clients.) when u put him in a foreign minister position?
I wont expect any better, but I agree with you, couldn’t israel find any better person for this position? But again, this Israeli ministry deserve this guy to be its head of diplomatic mission. Good choice indeed.
Mr. Mouallem used the perfect expression to describe the situation (Z3ran) (Az3ar), I can’t think of any other perfect word to describe the situation.
Besides, this whole speech of the ‘bouncer’ shows how ignorant many Israelis are when they think for a second that threatening Mr. Assad by loosing his power is in anyway comparable of a national right of getting the stolen Jolan back, they really know nothing.

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February 4th, 2010, 10:38 pm

 

34. Shai said:

Offended,

The only ministry this man and his deputy-dawg deserve to head would be called “Ministry of Buffoonism”. Lieberman and Ayalon have caused terrible damage, I hope not irreparable, to Israeli diplomacy, and have brought great shame upon us. They haven’t the slightest concept of Diplomacy, only of Belligerency.

Jad,

A poll taken recently shows most Israelis are against Lieberman (poll taken before his latest outbursts against Syria). I don’t think I’ve ever heard an important Israeli official threaten Assad personally. He has crossed every acceptable line possible.

But on a more speculative note, I wonder this unplanned chain of events, which actually started with Barak sending a message to the Israeli Army in support of Peace with Syria, will finally be the trigger to wake up Washington, and force the Obama Administration to get the sides back on track. Maybe we all need to get a little closer to war, without reaching it, to recall the dangerous and fragile reality we very much still live in.

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February 5th, 2010, 11:21 am

 

35. Global Voices in Swahili » Syria: Matembezi Kwenye Uwanja wa Blogu said:

[…] karibuni na uchambuzi wake kutoka Syria na duniani kote, zikiwa na kichwa kinachofikirisha cha ‘Je, Washington imeamua kutilia mkazo suala la amani ya Syria na Waisraili?’: Kwa kifupi, kurudi kwa balozi ni habari njema, lakini kuchezea mpango wa kutafuta amani ambao […]

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February 14th, 2010, 3:45 am

 

36. Global Voices dalam bahasa Indonesia » Suriah: Jalan-jalan di Blogosfer said:

[…] pembaharuan dan analisa terakhir seputar Suriah dan dunia, dengan judul utama yang provokatif “Apakah Washington Memutuskan untuk Fokus pada Perdamaian Suriah-Israel?“: Intinya, kembalinya duta besar adalah hal yang baik, tapi ikut andil dalam proses perdamaian […]

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April 12th, 2010, 4:17 pm

 

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