IMF Report: “The Syrian economy did remarkably well in 2006”

The following IMF report is consistent with much anecdotal evidence and the readily apparent consumer and building boom going on in Syria. Government bureaucracies remain inefficient. Everyone is preparing for the stock market and companies are getting educated about going public. Alison Brooks, the woman from whom I am renting my apartment and who recently sold the financial education company that she ran for 20 years in Britain, has been approached by a number of firms to consider offering financial education classes here. Many Lebanese and Egyptian firms are putting in bids because the few good Syrian economists are overstretched and cannot fulfill the demand for financial expertise. The six public banks that dominate Syrian banking have no formal human resource development or training departments. The lack of training and financial know how is tremendous. There is a huge need for education and technical know how. An EU funded Syrian Bank Training Center has been set up in Damascus to offer training and expertise. Damascus has the feel of the wild West as banks and newly licensed financial intermediaries, brokers, dealers, investment managers and consultants scramble to get in on the ground floor.

The Arab European University – one of Syria's new private universities – is establishing a set of new courses in business administration. A teacher at the university told me that the university could not find local professors to teach the needed courses and went to Beirut to recruit Lebanese. The Lebanese professors asked for $4,000 a month and got it. That is a king's ransom to Syrian professors, but indicative of the new salaries being offered. One must remember that there are almost no taxes.

There are perhaps only 20 or so companies preparing to go public and of these, I am told, only about 6 or 7 have already established modern book keeping that completely separates corporate from family finances.

Syrian Arab Republic
IMF Article IV Consultation
Mission Preliminary Conclusions
May 16, 2007

1. The Syrian economy did remarkably well in 2006. Despite an unsettled regional environment, the economic recovery that started in 2004 remained on track. Non-oil GDP grew at a brisk pace (tentatively estimated at 6-7 percent), job creation picked up steam driving unemployment below 10 percent, private investment gathered momentum, and exports made strong gains, particularly in some Arab markets. The surge in the volume of investment approvals hints at brightening investment prospects with companies jockeying to position themselves in the fledgling market. Not only was Syria able to raise the living standards of its own citizens, it also offered shelter, food, medicine, schools, and hospitals to the 1½ million Iraqis that sought refuge in Syria. Despite the large demand shock this represented, inflationary pressures have been fairly contained thanks to tighter credit policy and fiscal discipline.

2. This economic revival owes much to the reform impetus initiated 2-3 years ago and sealed by the adoption of the ambitious 10th 5-year development plan. Broad-based reforms have made significant changes in the economic and financial landscape. The exchange rate has been effectively unified and virtually all restrictions on access to foreign exchange to finance imports have been eliminated. Most economic sectors have been opened to private enterprise, boosting the contribution of the private sector to non-oil GDP above 80 percent. A dynamic private banking sector is now leading financial sector growth, and the Damascus stock exchange is set to open early next year after being closed for 40 years. A new investment law has liberalized the investment regime further, created a one-stop-shop for investors, and put foreign and domestic investors at par. Complex, opaque and prohibitive taxation has been replaced by more efficient and equitable taxes and tax administration has been modernized to support the new tax legislation. In addition, law number 51 enacted in October, 2006 unified tax incentives for investment. The local industry has been exposed to greater international competition through several rounds of tariff cuts—which brought the average tariff rate to 14½ percent down from close to 20 percent three years ago and the maximum rate from 225 percent to 60 percent; a reduction in the number of prohibited imports; a relaxation of import licensing procedures; and a simplification of customs clearance. Strides are being made in building the regulatory frameworks to govern the new market economy, most notably in the banking, insurance, and capital markets, and in housing and real estate. Last but not least, improvement in the efficiency of the taxing system and strict fiscal discipline ensured a timely adjustment to a large and precipitous loss of oil revenues.

3. Notwithstanding the progress in the reform agenda the remaining challenges are still daunting. According to the latest projections of oil production, government revenues from oil, which have fallen more rapidly than initially anticipated, are projected to decline by a further 5 percentage points of GDP in the next 10 years, while the net oil import bill could reach US$6 billion (about 7-8 percent of GDP) ten years from now. Macroeconomic instability will heighten and the growth momentum will falter if the government will to undertake the difficult fiscal reforms ahead wanes and if the structural reform drive is not sustained and accelerated. Under this scenario, time could be bought by drawing down the large stock of international reserves. This would support the nominal exchange rate for a few years, but monetary financing of the widening budget deficit will fuel inflation and crowd out the private sector through an appreciation of the real exchange rate, dampening the economy's growth potential. Once international reserves are exhausted, a forced adjustment through an inflation-cum-depreciation spiral would become unavoidable. An additional cumulative fiscal adjustment of some 10 percent of GDP in the next 10 years is needed to avert this scenario.

Analysis of recent economic developments is increasingly constrained by data weaknesses. These have been amplified in the recent past as the acceleration of structural reforms has severely tested the ability of a weak statistical infrastructure to cope with the changes. The situation in Iraq added to the challenge. The main drivers of the ongoing economic revival, namely exports, private investment, and private sector activities in general are not adequately surveyed. Pervasive subsidies and weak accounting standards in public enterprises (PEs) are a major challenge to the weak methodological framework underlying the compilation of the national accounts and introduce a significant margin of error in growth estimates. The move to a new CPI, although based on a more representative consumer basket, has unfortunately introduced uncertainty about the level of inflation and its trend. Revisions to weak customs data—to account among other things for the intensification of shuttle trade with Iraq—have blurred the picture as to the underlying strength of the non-oil current account balance.

5. Economic analysis and macroeconomic management are complicated in this statistical vacuum, and the authorities are encouraged to be vigilant in monitoring the state of the economy, particularly inflation and foreign trade. Utmost priority should be given to mobilizing the needed expertise to upgrade statistics. Pending tangible improvements in the quality of the data, research units at the Deputy Prime Minister's Office, the Ministry of Finance (MoF), the Central Bank, and the State Planning Commission should not be constrained by the use of "official data" and should be encouraged to work closely together to fill in the data gaps with economic analysis and consistency checks among the key sectors (fiscal, monetary, external, and real sectors) to come to a reasonable understanding of current developments. Given the data weaknesses, the mission's assessment is only tentative.

I. Recent Developments and Near-term Outlook

6. Staff estimates growth of non-oil GDP at around 6-7 percent in 2006. Given a 6½ percent drop in oil production, this would be consistent with an overall growth of 4½ -5 percent. Growth appears to have been mainly driven by private consumption and non-oil exports and may have been supported by some strengthening of private investment. Private consumption was boosted by employment and wage gains, a good harvest (particularly for olives whose production doubled); and the boom in real estate and rental prices, which translated into a significant wealth effect for property owners; amidst the influx of Iraqis. The strong performance of non-oil exports, which are estimated to have increased by about 30 percent in 2006, reflects the surge in exports to Arab countries, which were boosted by stronger demand as well as the granting of free access under the Great Arab Free Trade Area.

7. The improved business climate might be supporting a steady growth in private investment, but a real take-off does not seem to have materialized yet. Nonetheless, the impressive volume of approved projects under Law No 10 in 2006—which reached SP 470 billion (US$9.2 billion and 26 percent of GDP) more than 2½ times the level in 2004—and their diversity augurs well for growth prospects in the near- to medium-term. 1 Almost three-fourths of the volume of these investments are in increasingly diversified industrial projects (including cement, steel, food processing, pharmaceutical, textile, and power generation), and another 20 percent are in the transport sector. Investment in the much publicized real estate projects (consisting of commercial, recreational, and other services associated with government housing projects) represented only about 15 percent of the total approved projects in 2005 (SP 60 billion) and their social returns—which are feared to be low in some circles—may actually be quite high if they are part of a well diversified investment strategy. The share of foreign direct investment (FDI) is estimated to have remained fairly stable at about 20 percent.2 Diversity in the investment strategy is also evidenced by the equally strong growth in investment approvals in tourism. Prospects in that sector are strengthening, with the ministry of tourism now preparing to launch mega projects, based on the success it achieved in attracting investors' interest in smaller projects.

 

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8. The build-up of inflationary pressures since mid-2005 seems to have abated in recent months. While average inflation increased from 7.2 percent to 10 percent in 2006, trend inflation as measured by the increase in the price level in March 2007 compared to March 2006 has come down to 4 percent, bringing average inflation to below 8 percent. Half of the increase in inflation in 2006 is attributed to an increase in food prices, which may have reflected weather-related shortages plus stronger domestic demand as well as demand from neighboring countries hit by similar inclement weather. The increase in the dollar price of imported non-fuel commodities together with some pass-through of the exchange rate depreciation at end-2005 may have been additional contributing factors.

9. The large influx of Iraqis put strong pressures on the economy. The number of refugees grew by 40 percent in 2006 to about 1.5 million (8 percent of the Syrian population). In addition to contributing to inflationary pressures, including notably in rental and real estate prices, the surge in refugees strained government expenditures, particularly on energy and food subsidies, and spending on health and education.

10. Credit policy played a useful role in controlling domestic demand. State banks were instructed to slow their lending to the private sector, which helped cool the credit boom experienced in 2004-05. The actual pace (18½ percent), while still fast, reflects the process of financial re-intermediation related to the nascent private banking sector, whose loan portfolio increased by more than 100 percent, accounting for almost half of the credit growth in 2006. The increase in net lending to the public sector contributed the largest share in the increase in money. Administered deposit interest rates, which turned negative during most of 2006, are now back to positive territory, thanks to the deceleration of inflation.

11. Timely and significant fiscal adjustment largely offset the decline in oil revenues, thereby containing the fiscal deficit. Over the last three years, fiscal policy had to contend with a loss of oil revenues in excess of 10 percentage points of GDP. This has reflected both a sharp contraction of oil production from about 480 thousand barrels per day to about 400 thousand and a galloping growth in domestic demand (an annual average rate of 10½ percent) owing to a decline in the prices of refined products in real terms, increased smuggling to neighboring countries, and the impact of the Iraqi refugees. A cumulative improvement in the non-oil budget deficit of 7 percentage points of GDP narrowed the non-oil budget deficit to about 10 percent of GDP, strengthening significantly the medium-term prospects of fiscal sustainability.

12. The quality of the fiscal adjustment was commendable. During the last three years, corporate income tax rates have been lowered drastically—with the top marginal rate coming down from 65 percent in 2003 to 28 percent in the latest amendment—and tariffs rates have been reduced significantly. Tax administration improvements together with higher growth fully compensated for the cut in rates and helped maintain a stable tax intake as a percent of GDP and increase its total volume. The bulk of the fiscal adjustment has been contributed by caps on investment spending and an increase in dividend payments from profitable public companies, mainly in telecommunication, which boosted nonoil revenues by close to 3 percentage points of GDP during 2004-06. The compression in capital spending is largely believed to have represented cuts in wasteful spending, and at 9 percent of GDP, its level in 2006 is still fairly high. The creeping rise in current expenditures reflected mainly the increase in subsidies to loss making PEs and pension and social assistance payments.

13. The growth outlook for 2007 remains favorable. The critical mass of reforms implemented in recent months, the continued direct and indirect support of aggregate demand from the Iraqi presence, and favorable growth prospects globally and in the region are expected to continue to underpin private consumption and non-oil exports, as well as a possible strengthening of private investment. These factors could sustain the growth momentum at about the same pace as in 2006. Any slowdown of capital inflows associated with the Iraqis will dampen aggregate demand directly and through second round effects, including an unwinding of the wealth effect induced by the real-estate boom. However, a normalization of the political situation in Iraq could open a large market for Syrian products.

14. To keep inflationary pressures in check, macroeconomic policies should remain appropriately tight. The current level of benchmark interest rates is appropriate and state banks' lending should remain in line with the monetary objectives. Fiscal policy should aim to reduce the overall budget deficit to about 5 percent of GDP mainly by phasing out petroleum price subsidies and further rationalizing of expenditures. Civil service wage policy, which leads wage policy in the rest of the economy, has a major role to play in curbing inflation, by ensuring that wage increases do not run ahead of productivity gains.

II. Building for the Future

15. Syria needs to continue to grow faster but it also needs to grow better in the coming years. The growth acceleration in the past two years seems to have been largely driven by private consumption, with an initial impulse originating from the influx of Iraqis. For this growth to strengthen and solidify, it is important that the sources of growth be rebalanced toward investment and durable gains in external market shares. Stronger investment growth and higher productivity are the bedrocks of high and sustainable growth in the long run.

16. To rebalance growth, Syria should continue to strengthen its macroeconomic policy frameworks and to accelerate structural reforms. Policies geared toward accelerating reforms and preserving financial stability could validate investors' expectations and strengthen savers' confidence about returns on Syrian assets. A positive synergy—such as the one witnessed in the rapid take-off of private banking—between an increased willingness on the part of savers to invest their funds in Syria rather than abroad or in idle foreign currency, and an increased willingness of investors to take the risk of starting new projects could turn the promise from the large increase in investment approvals into a reality.

17. The remainder of this statement focuses on: (i) policies to protect fiscal solvency, (ii) a more explicit monetary policy framework in the context of the unified exchange rate regime to anchor price stability, and (iii) key structural reforms.

Fiscal sustainability

18. The timely adjustment to the secular trend decline in oil revenues in the past three years is highly welcome. Looking forward, there is a need to sustain this effort as oil revenues continue to dwindle. Addressing all the pockets of inefficiency in public spending associated with technical losses and across-the-board subsidies to consumers, producers, and public employment will achieve durable fiscal savings while enhancing the supply side of the economy. A large share of the freed up resources could be channeled to finance targeted support to the most vulnerable segments of society and to productive expenditures on basic infrastructure, higher education, and research and development. This will complement private investment by enhancing its potential returns.

19. In this regard, a comprehensive public expenditure review is essential. It should focus on: (i) settling the inter-enterprises arrears among PEs and stopping any such accumulation in the future as this practice dampens incentives for sound and transparent financial management and leads to a lack of accountability; (ii) reviewing the efficiency and effectiveness of expenditures in major sectors such as education, health, and public transportation with a view to reprioritization and deep reforms; and (iii) reviewing the social protection system—the current system is mostly based on rationing (coupons) and on inequitable and inefficient price subsidies. It needs to be reformed toward means-tested targeted transfers.

20. Phasing out the inequitable petroleum price subsidies (PPS), whose cost exceeds 15 percent of GDP, is a key pillar of fiscal reform. Beyond large fiscal savings, it would provide significant efficiency gains, improve equity, entail a smaller negative fiscal impulse, and contribute to BOP adjustment. We are encouraged to know that some preparatory work is being done to launch this reform, and urge the authorities not to delay it further. Each day the public coffers loose SP 750 million (i.e. close to US$15 million, three times the annual budget devoted to promoting tourism) on a policy that has lost all purpose, while so many legitimate claims on public money remain unfulfilled.

21. Stepping up preparations to introduce a VAT is needed to ensure that the VAT is phased in on time to help offset the future drain on oil revenues. The mission agrees that an ill-prepared launch could damage the credibility of this new tax, and indeed many steps, including the adoption of a tax procedures code and an integrated IT system, have yet to be completed. However, preparation could move much faster, if the authorities were to choose a simple design, an option that would very much be in line with the new vision driving tax policy reform toward simpler taxes and lower rates. A uniform rate with very few exemptions lowers the compliance costs on taxpayers and the burden on the tax administration and closes loopholes, which create opportunities for corruption. Concerns about social equity are best addressed by excises on luxury goods, well targeted spending programs, or by enhancing the progressivity of income taxes.

22. The authorities view the PE reform as an important element in the reform program. For that the authorities issued:

Comments (69)


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51. Alex said:

Dear G,

becoming “a mini empire” is not what Syria wants. The word I use “manage” is similar to playing a number of simple roles .. fire fighter, a policeman …the village priest or imam …

Despite having modest Oil reserves, Syria has much more potential than Saudi Arabia. Go to the city of Homs, and you will see nothing interesting, but meet the brilliant minds that come out of that city and you’ll understand what Syria is.

Besides, Syria has KNOWLEDGE about the area. Saudi Arabia knows its neighborhood, and Syria knows its neighborhood.

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June 21st, 2007, 11:42 pm

 

52. G said:

fire fighter for the fires they set through terrorism. we know the game alex. we’re not stupid. you just proved my point. You only have terrorism.

All the brilliant minds are abroad. you don’t have enough human resources to start basic financial sector you have to rely on the lebanese, as you shut the border with them to terrorize them.

Go sell this stupid “knowledge” nonsense to some other schmuck. WHo do you think you’re dealing with here?

And quit deluding yourself with the classic Syrian racism towards the Gulf. They’re miles ahead of you. They are sending their children to learn in Europe and the West. They have financial know how, they have attracted the best minds of the region (mainly from Lebanon, the same who now you need to run your finance sector) and Asia. You suck in comparison despite your “pride” and haughty racism.

You live in an anachronistic frozen imagination. It’s quite pathetically sad really. Your vision of Syria has no resemblance to fact. The only time you come close to fact is when the little terrorist supporting baathist within you emerges every now and then.

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June 22nd, 2007, 12:42 am

 

53. norman said:

Alex ,
This is another example you and Syria can be proud of.

http://www.dmu.ac.uk/faculties/cse/eng_and_tech/staff/engtech_staff_marouannazha.jsp

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June 22nd, 2007, 12:50 am

 

54. G said:

Yeah, and he lives in England for a reason!

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June 22nd, 2007, 1:17 am

 

55. Akbar Palace said:

Ford Prefect writes; Akbar Balace edits:

Alex,

You told me “you are Akhbar Balace I ain’t talking to you anymore.” Well, first, it is Palace and not Balace – you uncivilized and undemocratic Bozo.

Second, if you don’t like bombing civilian targets repeatedly, using internationally-banned weapons – including cluster bombs, white phosphorus bombs and land mines targeting civilians,…

“Although cluster bombs fall under the general rules of international humanitarian law, they are not specifically covered by any international legal instrument.” BTW – Israel rarely targets civilians. OTOH, your whining falls on VERY deaf ears because that’s all your terrorist buddies do: target civilians population centers, restaurants, buses, etc. RARELY military targets.

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

… invading Lebanon at least three times over (30% of those who died in the last aggression against Lebanon were children under the age of 13 according to UNICEF),

Israel wouldn’t invade if terrorists stopped kidnapping and firing missiles into Israel. Believe it or not, Israel, like ALL countries have the RIGHT to defend themselves. BTW – The numbers of children who died is unfortuante, especially when the GOI warned residents to leave the areas where Hezbollah was firing rockets from (which, BTW is a war crime if that matters to you).

… facilitating the massacres of thousands of Palestinians in the Sabra and Shatila refugees camp,…

Yes, I know. Israel gets blamed for Arab excesses. And the Lebanese Christians who did the murdering? What anti-Zionist and Leftist stooge ever demonstrated against them? > How many did Assad kill in Hama? Saddam kill in Iraq and Kuwait. I never hear people bring up these subjects;)

… being the only and longest occupying force in the world today, building an illegal wall twice as high as the Berlin Wall in the name of preventing terrorism,…

More mythology from the “terror apologist corner” of this forum:

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

Tibet? And what about Syria’s occupation of Lebanon? Gee, that lastest for a loooong time too (that is, if we’re counting).

… the daily humiliation of thousands of Palestinians in their own land,…

Oh please, pass the tissue paper. And what could be more humiliating? Getting killed by Hamas or Fatah thugs these days? Where did that anti-Palestinian BBC news reporter go anyway? I hope he isn’t being “humiliated”.

… defying at least 68 UN Resolutions,

Yawn. UNGA resolutions are more common than pro-bin Laden supporters in Great Britain.

… doubling Israeli settlements illegally since 1993,

So what? Too bad is hasn’t quadrupled. BTW – The Palestinians were supposed to dismantle militant groups. Oh well. Coulda-woulda-shoulda.

http://www.jerusalemites.org/News%20In%20English/english/2007/January/221.htm

… the 11 August 2006 Resolution of the United Nations Human Rights Council condemning “grave Israeli violations of human rights” in Lebanon, and many more human rights violations, international law violations, illegal detentions and imprisonments, systematic ethnic cleansing in the occupied territories, repeated collective punishment of civilians, the continued possession of WMD including nuclear, biological, and chemical agents, and failing miserably and repeatedly to bring peace to Israel for over 60 years,

Does all this mean Arab anger may increase even more? I’m concerned;)

… then I swear I will bring democracy to your country, Syria, too. So be nice to me, now that my cover as a Syrian Agent has been blown by the genius extraordinaire.

As K (or his link) stated before: The Arabs will continue to be guilty of much worse: The Saddams, the al-Quedas, the Osama bin-Landens, the Assads, the Ahmadinejads, the Hamases, the Hezbollahs, the johadists, the insurgents, the fanantic clerics, the assassinations, the suicide bombers, the chemical attacks, the Scud missiles, the Katyushas, the Qassams, YET, the UN, the Leftist retards, and lastly, the CRY-BABY terrorist apologists and myth-creators will remain comfortably SILENT.

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June 22nd, 2007, 1:24 am

 

56. norman said:

Yes his wife is English.

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June 22nd, 2007, 1:25 am

 

57. Syrian said:

Ya Alex, Go sell this stupid “knowledge” nonsense to some other schmuck. WHo do you think you’re dealing with here?

Really man, the schmuck you’re trying to sell this nonsense to around here already bought into someone else’s nonsense.

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June 22nd, 2007, 1:28 am

 

58. norman said:

I think ( schmuck) is a yiddish word for stupid , now we know who G is , at least A P does not try to hide his Hebrew heritage.

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June 22nd, 2007, 1:54 am

 

59. Enlightened said:

Apologies for buying into an argument here, but is G’s IP adress the same as Akbar Palace?

Alex you can only answer this and anyone else with access to moderate the comment section.

Well tell me the suspense is killing me LOL

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June 22nd, 2007, 3:16 am

 

60. ugarit said:

Akbar Palace: “The Saddams, the al-Quedas, the Osama bin-Landens, the Assads, the Ahmadinejads, the Hamases, the Hezbollahs, the johadists, the insurgents, the fanantic clerics, the assassinations, the suicide bombers, the chemical attacks”

I hope you do know that Ahmadinejad is not an Arab. He’s Iranian.

It’s disgusting what some of the s’s have done and will do, I agree; however, when one adds up the deaths caused by the s’s it will be a very small fraction of the deaths the US has exacted on civilians and not only in the middle east.

Our Osama is George W. Bush and our al-Qaida is the military wing of the US government.

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June 22nd, 2007, 3:18 am

 

61. Alex said:

Enlightened,

I just went through the last 15 comments and everyone is a real person with a distinct IP address .. even Berfect and Balace.

But I will tell you about the dinner I just had with a Syrian friend of mine who is visiting from Europe.

She told me that she loves creative Syria, but she is disappointed that I am not paying attention to the comments section because “everyone knows that all those who are commenting are Syrian intelligence gents”.

I think she meant Syria Comment and not Creative Syria. (she said the text has white background color. Creative Syria is either blue or Grey).

Idon’t know … Should we all publish our IP addresses?

But even then they will think we made up those addresses.

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June 22nd, 2007, 4:07 am

 

62. majedkhaldoun said:

the end of nahr al bared,with the victory for the lebanese army, is a victory to Seniora.
we all love to see Lebanon lives in peace,just like we like peace in Syria,after all they both are one people.

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June 22nd, 2007, 4:20 am

 

63. Alex said:

G,

This is Dubai a decade ago, and this is Dubai today.

Those amazing buildings can appear in 10 years to make Damascus more to your liking (not mine, I like it closer to the way it is now).

Syrian bankers from Lebanon, like those who immigrated from Aleppo to Beirut in 1960, after Nasser made Syria socialist, can come back and help make Syria the success story that you would hate to see.

By the way G, Syria did not start the Iraq war … it did not ask Olmert to meet 4 months before the Lebanon war with his cabinet to plan the war they wanted to launch on Lebanon .. what you call “Syrian terrorism” is a small part of the troubles of the Middle East … everyone competing for his share of the pie is adding to “terrorism”.. and most of the killing and damage is the result of OTHERS trying to play dirty politics in the Middle East… the Syrians do not start bloody wars for nothing, they do not finance the Saudi Shiites to overthrow or separate from the Saudi kingdom. If they were really behind some of the political assassinations in Lebanon … take an excel sheet and enter in the first column the number of those Syria supposedly assassinated, in the second column enter those who died because of America’s mistakes as in Iraq, then in the last column enter Israel’s casualties from Palestine to Lebanon … then plot it and see for yourself who delivered 99% of the terror to the Middle East the past decade.

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June 22nd, 2007, 4:28 am

 

64. Enlightened said:

Alex:

Please re read my earlier comment about the Arab mind, it is a no win situaion about the intelligence agents, unfortunately in regards to your friends comments they are understanable, given the Security services history in Syria and other Arab security agencies. What this has resulted in I regret to say is a fearfull mindset akin to the Big brother syndrome or Orwells 1984, yes the thought police are out there, little do the Arab masses know that in the west we have more eaves dropping post 9/11 in every western country. It is a sign of the times and very sad.

However I came across something I was reading today and this was sent to me by a friend who I have known since I was six years old,he was getting frustrated with an association he is trying to set up and i want to share it with you all as it made me think then laugh.

” Before you criticise someone someone, you should walk a mile in their shoes. That way, when you criticise them, you are a mile away from them, and you have their shoes” Frieda Norris.

Anyway that was my thought for the day.

Peace to all

It read

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June 22nd, 2007, 5:10 am

 

65. Alex said:

Enlightened,

Thank you for letting us know about those two additional benefits of walking a mile in someone’s shoes.

: )

As for those who are suddenly convinced that this is a Syrian Intelligence blog … I want to refer them to the real comments left by Syrian intelligence agents on Arab blogs (I don’t think they care about English blogs yet).

Typical comments by those gentlemen:

1) God will protect Syria against all those jealous from our beloved immortal president.

2) Syria has always been faithful to the Arab cause and all our brothers are grateful to the steadfastness of Syria’s courageous leader.

3) Walid Jumblatt’s origins are known. He is a known Israeli agent who is dirty and corrupt.

So, if my friend thought that Ford Prefect and Enlightened, and K are regime agents, then she should have been a big admirer of that regime that can set aside such an impressive quality of agents for Syria Comment alone.

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June 22nd, 2007, 5:34 am

 

66. Enlightened said:

Agent Enlightened (talking into his shoe telephone ) signing off.

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June 22nd, 2007, 5:55 am

 

67. Akbar Palace said:

Ugarit said:

… however, when one adds up the deaths caused by the s’s it will be a very small fraction of the deaths the US has exacted on civilians and not only in the middle east.

Our Osama is George W. Bush and our al-Qaida is the military wing of the US government.

You can equate the two if you want, but it wouldn’t be accurate.

Saddam’s killing fields/mass graves have been conservatively estimated
to accounts for around 300,000 souls. Iraq Body Count (an anti-Bush website that keeps track of civilian deaths) puts the numbers of dead civilians from the war at around 45,000 (I haven’t checked recently). IBC, for some strange reason, does not distinguish between civilian deaths caused by allied forces or from terror attacks. They also do not count deaths of armed “fighters”, suicide bombers, or insurgents. Lastly, IBC does not take into account deaths caused by Saddam’s “oil for food” scam, where Saddam pocketed millions/billions while Iraqis were getting no medical care, nor does IBC take into account Iraqis dead (thousands) from little wars with Iran and Kuwait.

Bush has a Looooog way to go to beat Saddam. But then again, who was screaming and shouting about Saddam when he was in power? Leftist and Jihadist “Waterboys” are good for nothing.

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June 22nd, 2007, 11:23 am

 

68. Bakri said:

Alex,dont speak about hama, homs ,aleppo or damascus and their culture .Limit yourself to bashar,rami,monzer,maher,somar and co…

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June 22nd, 2007, 12:51 pm

 

69. Alex said:

BAKRI,

Luckily, Syria [the country] is not waiting for the angry ones who boycott everything until they are in power.

It is easy to complain and criticize and express anger… some of us prefer to do something useful instead.

I’m sorry if your only question is [regime supporter or not regime supporter]. You know, in real life, there are more ways to judge people, their intentions, and their contributions.

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June 22nd, 2007, 3:42 pm

 

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