Interview with Bashar al-Asad – Wikileaks 18 February 2009

Thanks to Sharmine Narwani a Senior Associate at St. Antony’s College, Oxford University for alerting me to this interview with Assad copied below. Other wiki headlines are

Erdogan ‘Hates’ Israel in WikiLeaks Posting of U.S.-Turkey Talk
Gates tells Italians no weapons are coming from Iran to the Taliban…
Israel tried to coordinate Operation Cast Lead with Fatah and Egypt.

Sen Cardin and Assad Feb 2009

PRESIDENT ASAD AND Congressional Delegation [including U.S. Sen. Benjamin L. Cardin - democrat, Maryland] DISCUSS IRAN, PEACE PROCESS, TERRORISM, AND HUMAN RIGHTS
Wikileaks CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Damascus – Febraury 18 2009 meeting, filed on 2009-03-10
Classified By: Charge d’Affaires Maura Connelly for reasons 1.4 (b) and (d)

¶1. (C) SUMMARY: CODEL [Congressional Delegation] Cardin, in a February 18 meeting with President Bashar al-Asad, FM Muallim, Presidential Advisor for Political and Media Affairs Shaaban, and Ambassador to the U.S. Mustafa conveyed U.S. concerns regarding Iran’s pursuit of a nuclear weapon, Syrian human rights abuses, the Israel-Syria peace process, upcoming Lebanese elections, and Syrian support for terrorism. Senator Cardin encouraged the SARG to address these issues in order to lay the groundwork for a more productive future dialogue. Asad argued Syria essentially shared the same position as the U.S. on the majority of these issues, but Syria’s approach toward solving these problems was clearly different. Asad said the U.S. needed to look at the larger regional political picture, as Syria did, if it truly wanted to find satisfactory resolutions. On Iran, Asad maintained IAEA monitoring would ensure Iran’s pursuit of nuclear power for civilian purposes only. Regarding human rights, Asad stated Syria was making progress, but the CODEL needed to understand this issue in the larger context of Israel’s aggression in Gaza, the suffering of Palestinian refugees, and terrorist attacks on Syria. Asad rejected the notion that Syria facilitated the transit of foreign fighters into Iraq, pointedly asking the CODEL what interest would he have in doing so? The upcoming elections in Lebanon, Asad surmised, would not change the composition of the government dramatically nor Syria’s determination to continue the process of establishing a full diplomatic presence in Beirut. On future Israel-Syria peace negotiations, Asad was more vague. He offered no specifics on re-opening talks, but expressed Syria’s desire for the process to continue with U.S. involvement. Finally, in response to the CODEL’s repeated concerns about Syrian support for Hamas and Hizballah, Asad remarked that these were democratically elected organizations in the Palestinian Authority and Lebanon; dealing with them was simply part of the reality of politics in the Middle East. END SUMMARY.

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The Opening Gambit: Human Rights
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¶2. (C) Following a warm exchange of pleasantries in which Senator Cardin thanked Asad for sending Imad Mustafa to the U.S. as Syria’s Ambassador (“He’s in our offices so much we’ve thought of charging him rent!”), Senator Cardin noted the CODEL had come to Syria for two major reasons: (1) As a fact-finding mission with an eye toward reinvigorating the Syria-Israel peace process; and (2) to learn more about the Iraqi refugee situation. Senator Cardin added “there are new opportunities . . . The U.S. has a new president who wants to work” with countries in the region. Regarding Syria, he said, “there are areas of major concern,” one of them being Syria’s human rights record. Senator Cardin told Asad he could give specific examples of citizens jailed for their political views. Asad responded, “we are a country in process of reform. We aren’t perfect. You are talking about 12 people out of 20 million. It’s a process. We are moving forward, not fast, but methodically.” (NOTE: Asad’s mention of “12 people” refers to the 12 members of the Damascus Declaration National Council convicted in October 2008 and sentenced to two and a half years in prison. END NOTE).

¶3. (C) Asad admitted Syria had very strong security laws, but argued they were necessary to protect the nation. The members of the Damascus Declaration had been convicted for their “contact with an individual in Lebanon who had invited the U.S. to attack Syria. This is against our law.” Senator Cardin replied he realized this was a domestic issue; he was not asking Syria to be exactly like the U.S., but Syria should nonetheless adhere to widely accepted international standards. Senator Cardin argued that “when the U.S. is challenged, you see it on the front page of the newspaper” and that such challenges were an important part of a national dialogue. “You do not see this (freedom of expression) anywhere in the region,” Asad chuckled in reply, “let’s talk about Saudi Arabia.”

¶4. (C) Widening the human rights conversation beyond the scope of Syrian prisoners of conscience, Asad admonished the CODEL for focusing on 12 individuals without taking into account half a million Palestinian refugees in Syria alone, and the continued suffering of people in Gaza. “Human rights,” Asad philosophized, “is related to the whole upgrading of society. This will produce new laws.” In a final bid to put the subject of human rights to rest, Asad stated he was a popular president and that if he were working against his people, he would not enjoy such popularity. “Don’t worry about human rights, we’re moving forward,” he said.

¶5. (C) Turning to conflict and reform in the region, Asad observed many societies in the region (including Syria) were experiencing a shift in political alignment to the right. As a result, the process of political reform had become increasingly difficult. Asad warned that countries, like Lebanon and Algeria, which had strived for rapid reform in the past, had only set the stage for more conflict. In the case of Algeria during the 1980s, Islamists had tried to use a sudden political opening to gain power and this had sparked a conflict lasting twenty years. Similarly, Asad continued, Lebanon’s reform process and the May 29 elections had been the cause of the subsequent sectarian violence. Asad contended the real issues were “peace and fighting terrorism.”

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The Middle Game: A Nuclear Iran
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¶6. (C) Senator Whitehouse raised Iran, agreeing with Senator Cardin’s assessment of the new political terrain and asserting: “We have a moment of opportunity for new policies.” Whitehouse cautioned Asad that it was also “a time for choices.” The manner in which the U.S. would proceed depended on “honest, sustained cooperation in the region,” he said. The senator emphasized the time-frame for this cooperation was quite short. The one thing that could bring it to a premature close would be Iran’s development of nuclear weapons. “If Iran insists,” Senator Whitehorse stated, “it will create an atmosphere challenging for negotiations.”

¶7. (C) Asad swiftly responded, “we’re not convinced Iran is developing nuclear weapons.” He argued Iran could not use a nuclear weapon as a deterrent because nobody believed Iran would actually use it against Israel. Asad noted an Iranian nuclear strike against Israel would result in massive Palestinian casualties, which Iran would never risk.

¶8. (C) Second, he continued, the IAEA had reported no evidence of a nuclear weapons program in Iran existed. Arguing Syria and the U.S. were actually closer than they realized on these issues, Asad said Syria adamantly opposed any “weapons of mass destruction” in the Middle East. But as signatories to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) both Iran and Syria had the right to pursue nuclear power for civilian purposes. Asad asserted demands for Iran to “stop” its nuclear program were unproductive and a violation of its rights under the NPT. Instead, he said, “the argument should be about how to monitor their program,” as outlined in the NPT. “Without this monitoring,” Asad warned, “there will be confrontation, and it will be difficult for the whole region.” Asad leaned slightly forward and said: “Let’s work together on this point.”

¶9. (C) Senator Whitehorse replied, “I hope monitoring is enough,” noting the difficulty of such a project in a closed society such as Iran. Asad responded an international system for monitoring was in place and should be followed. Senator Cardin interjected, “we believe Iran’s goals are the opposite of what you describe. We think they want to change the equation” (of power in the region). Asad asked the CODEL to put aside this point of view and focus on monitoring. Senator Cardin said, “we agree on monitoring, but we think Iran should give up its nuclear ambitions.” Asad reiterated monitoring was the best institutional way to control Iran’s nuclear program. Senator Wicker challenged Asad’s assertion Iran was not seeking to develop nuclear weapons and that monitoring alone would work. Asad replied his impression was that Iran’s program was for peacful purposes with the caveat “we have no evidence as we are not in Iran.” Senator Wicker advised Asad the international community assessed otherwise; the question now was what the appropriate response to Iran should be. “Everyone wants to avoid a military reaction,” he noted, “but it was the clear view of the former administration and is the clear view of the current administration that something will have to be done.” Asad observed “you have my impression. Everything you mention is guessing. Monitoring will make everything clear.”

¶10. (C) Representative Moore argued that while monitoring was a mechanism appropriate to “nation states,” it would not be effective in controlling Iran’s military proxies, Hamas and Hizballah. She stated both Syria and Iran provided financial support to the two groups and there was no way to rule out categorically the possibility that Iran might provide nuclear material to Hizballah. “The ability of the international community to monitor Iran on NPT is understood. It’s the role of the proxies that is the problem,” she said. Asad replied, “if you don’t trust the mechanisms of the NPT, let’s cancel it.” He maintained these proxies “would go away” if there was a comprehensive Arab-Israeli peace agreement. He asked who had created these proxies? “We didn’t and Iran didn’t. How were they created? By conflict because Lebanon was occupied by Israel. It’s normal to have resistance. This is the reality we have to deal with.”

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Testing The Flank: Lebanon
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¶11. (C) Senator Wicker asked Asad to give his prognosis for the upcoming Lebanese elections, the prospect of Syria sending an ambassador, and whether Hizballah would disarm. In a tone of resigned pessimism, Asad replied that the Lebanese elections would not make much of a difference. In Lebanon, he explained, any party can get a “veto third.” Asad maintained the key issue was whether the Lebanese would vote along political lines or sectarian lines. If the latter occurred, then Shi’as would elect Shi’as, Christians would elect Christians, and so on, which would result in conflict. “If you don’t have consensus, you will have civil war. This is how it has always been in Lebanon,” he said. Conflict in Lebanon would preclude normal relations between the two countries.

¶12. (C) On the subject of a Syrian ambassador to Lebanon, Asad characterized the delayed appointment as being part of a deliberate political process. Asad pointed out Syria had opened an embassy and staffed it, actions they would not have taken if they did not fully intend to send an ambassador. Asad argued an appointment like this was a political step requiring the proper timing. He added “we know who and when, but we’re not going to announce it today.” Senator Wicker deftly rejoined “we could make news!” eliciting laughter from everyone, including Asad.

¶13. (C) Regarding the disarmament of Hizballah, Asad argued “Hizballah has no specific interest in Israel besides securing Lebanon’s borders and preventing threats to Lebanon’s integrity, like Israel’s daily violations of Lebanese airspace.” Asad noted Hizballah was the most powerful political party in Lebanon, was democratically elected, and if peace in the region were to be achieved, “the small things” with Hizballah and Hamas would disappear. “Let’s talk about the peace. This is the big picture that will solve everything.” Asad likened the U.S.’s approach to Hizballah to trying to patch an old suit when a new suit was needed. Senator Cardin countered that peace would very likely go forward if Syria would stop the arms flow to Hizballah. The senator noted many countries thought Syria was concerned about possible repercussions with Iran if it were to take the initiative on stopping arms to Hizballah. Asad responded Syria had been in negotiations with Israel with no concern for Iran’s opinion. He told the story of how Iranian President Ahmedinejad called him just before the Annapolis conference and implored him not to send anyone, that it was a “bad meeting,” but that they sent a representative anyway. “I told him I know it (Annapolis) is just a photo op. But I am sending someone anyway. We do what we think is good for our interests; it’s not dependent on Iran,” he contended.

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A New Tempo: The Peace Process
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¶14. (S) Senator Tom Udall asked what message Asad wanted the CODEL to deliver to the new administration. Asad replied he saw two key common interests between Syria and the U.S.: peace in the region and combating terrorism. Asad argued Syria had been at the forefront of fighting terrorism ever since it put down the Muslim Brotherhood in 1982. He claimed that in the mid-1980s, Syria had sent a delegation to Europe to articulate the need for a coalition to fight terrorism, but nobody had listened. Asad said Syria wanted to know when the U.S. would adopt a new approach toward terrorism, adding that “it’s not a question of how much you can destroy, but how much dialogue you can make.” The Europeans, Asad continued, knew more about the region than the U.S. and he urged the CODEL to turn to them for guidance. Asad stated the U.S. and Syria shared a common interest on “70 percent” of the issues at hand, the difference was all in “point of view, principles, culture, and approach.” Keen to press the topic of engagement, Asad attempted to refute the idea that a new dialogue would only make Syria stronger: “No, you make yourselves stronger because you have interests in the region.”

¶15. (C) Agreeing that dialogue was crucial and an essential component of the Helsinki Commission, Senator Cardin advised Asad that if he were serious about engagement, he would expel Hamas leaders from Syria. Asad replied, “What if Hamas supported peace?” Senator Cardin explained Hamas was a symbol–it launched rockets into non-military areas and this was the definition of terrorism. Asad replied Hamas was an uninvited guest; it was really the very Muslim Brotherhood organization Syria had combatted through the 1980s. “If you want me to be effective and active, I have to have a relationship with all parties. Hamas is Muslim Brotherhood, but we have to deal with the reality of their presence.” Senator Cardin pointed out not expelling Hamas sent a signal to the international community that Iran, given its support for Hamas, might be making the decisions in Damascus.

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En Passant: The DCS, ACC and ALC
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¶16. (C) When confronted with Senator Cardin’s observation that the SARG’s closure of the Damascus Community School (DCS), the American Culture Center (ACC), and the American Language Center (ALC) had hurt Syrians more than Americans, Asad assured the CODEL that this was merely a public relations gesture on his part. “We were attacked by the U.S. army,” Asad replied, “Seven civilians were killed. I had two choices: fight the U.S. army or do something symbolic. It’s something temporary. You’ll open it next year.” Senator Cardin told Asad he understood “symbolic gestures, but not when they hurt your own people.”

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The End Game: Foreign Fighters
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¶17. (C) “What interest does Syria have in letting foreign fighters go to Iraq?” Asad pointedly asked in response to Representative McIntyre’s question about why Syria had not done more to monitor and staunch the flow of transiting fighters across the Syria-Iraq border. Asad continued: “Can you stop the immigration of Mexicans into the U.S.? No. All borders are porous. There is no army on the border; you don’t have soldiers on the border. Do your homework. My job is to protect my people, not your soldiers. We have terrorists. Two months ago there was a car bomb in Syria and that car came from Iraq.” (NOTE: We assume Asad is referring to the September 27, 2008 car bomb attack against a SARG military facility, though Syrian Military Intelligence has reportedly stopped several cars rigged with explosives since then. END NOTE). Asad noted that the lack of cooperation with military forces in Iraq contributed to the problem. With Turkey, he said, the border was more complicated and the terrain worse, but because Syria enjoyed better cooperation it was less porous.

¶18. (C) Asad recounted how when (then NEA A/S) William Burns and representatives from the Army and CIA came to Damascus, “we said we were ready to cooperate. We took the delegation to the border, then after they left we waited for a proposal, but nothing came of it. They didn’t want to cooperate.” Asad added Syria lacked the financial and technical means, such as night-vision goggles, to tighten its control of the area. Asad then said, somewhat contradicting himself, that 80 percent of controlling the border was about controlling the country. Representative McIntyre asked, “but are you willing to monitor (the border)?” The president demurred, “this is a different problem,” at which point Ambassador Mustafa interjected with “I will brief you on the details.”

¶19. (C) The three main objectives Asad felt the U.S. and Syria should work on were (1) Eliminating WMD in the region; (2) pursuing a shared interest in a stable Iraq; and (3) working for peace and combating terrorism. Asad re-affirmed that Syria was not an enemy of the U.S., “I have saved American lives.” In 2002, Asad explained, he passed information to the King of Bahrain about an imminent attack on American citizens. Ambassador Mustafa added that then Secretary of State Colin Powell had sent the Syrian government a letter expressing his gratitude for its assistance. If the U.S. wished for similar coordination in the future, Syria could not begin security cooperation without concomitant political cooperation, Asad stated.

¶20. (C) COMMENT: Beginning with the visit of President Carter last December, President Asad’s exposure to U.S. politicians has steadily increased. This encounter was a good example of how Asad has been able to hone his responses to U.S. accusations that Syria is a bad actor in the region. At no point in the conversation did Asad ask about the appointment of a U.S. ambassador to Syria or economic sanctions, which suggests to us that he is doing everything possible to avoid the appearance of being the supplicant, despite the Syrian press’s heavy focus on Syria’s desire to see an end to sanctions and the appointment of a U.S. ambassador.

¶21. (C) COMMENT CONTINUED: We have heard anecdotally that Asad was not pleased with the tenor or substance of his meeting with the CODEL. The SARG is reportedly interpreting the group’s position on Iran, Iraq, Hizballah, and human rights to be a continuation of, rather than a departure from, the previous Administration’s policy toward Syria. We note that the CODEL’s discussion with Asad was frank but cordial. Senator Cardin and the CODEL members aired U.S. policy concerns publicly from their perspective as elected legislators in press remarks, framed in the context of their desire to explore whether cooperation with Syria is viable. The Syrian press and many of our interlocutors have come to view re-engagement with the U.S. as a fait accompli, as something long-overdue and very much owed to Syria. Asad’s displeasure with the CODEL may be his first recognition that U.S.-Syria bilateral relations will require more on his end than originally anticipated. END COMMENT.

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Participants
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¶22. (SBU) U.S.A.: Senator Benjamin Cardin (D-MD)

Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI)
Senator Roger Wicker (R-MS)
Senator Tom Udall (D-NM)
Representative Mike McIntyre (D-NC)
Representative Gwen Moore (D-WI)
Charge d’Affaires Maura Connelly
Mr. Fred Turner, Chief of Staff, CSCE
Mr. Alex Johnson, PSM, CSCE
Ms. Shelly Han, PSM, CSCE
Mr. Eric Pelofsky, PSM, SIC
Notetaker Anthony Deaton

Syrian Arab Republic:
President Bashar al-Asad
Foreign Minister Walid al-Muallim
Presidential Advisor for Political and Media Affairs Dr.
Bouthaina Shaaban
Ambassador to the U.S. Imad Mustafa
Unidentified female notetaker
Unidentified male palace staffer

Comments (29)


1. Alex said:

“At no point in the conversation did Asad ask about the appointment of a U.S. ambassador to Syria or economic sanctions, which suggests to us that he is doing everything possible to avoid the appearance of being the supplicant”

Which is consistent with Syria’s denials of the many right wing opinion pieces and news stories that used to be published the past few years after President Assad met with any American. European, or Saudi delegation. We always read them quoting some unnamed source close to the visiting delegation saying something like “The Syrian President pleaded with us to help stop the Hariri investigation … he is worried he or people close to him will be indicted”

Syria does not ask visitors for favors.

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November 29th, 2010, 5:21 pm

 
 

3. majedkhaldoon said:

I think this interview tells us a lot about president Assad personality,his thinking and convictions, and his intentions as far as the future

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November 29th, 2010, 11:25 pm

 

4. alien in Syria said:

I do not know, but i feel not confortable with all this story of wikileaks: all the relevations seems going to one direction and we have no revelations about Israel and its policies. We have revelations on Saudi (and other arab countries) against Iran just after they found common ground on several issues (like someone is tring to break this new unity) .. we have revelations against Turkey (and links with Al Qaida) just when Turkey is breaking is strategic relations with Israel … we do not have any ‘revelations’ on Israel, on their attack on Gaza, on the turkish boat etc (is not strange that ambassadors did not write nothing about these issues?) .. The only we have is in favor os them: the good guys tried to coordinate with Egypt and Jordan befor to attack Gaza, but the bad arab guys did not want so the poor guys had to attack by themselfs.
sorry, but all of this smells bad to me …
my feeling is that behind this operation there is at least an huge filtering of information.
And at the end, until now i did not find any real sensitive information revealed … especially the last revelations seems a gossip magazine revelations…
anyone has a different idea on the matter?

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November 30th, 2010, 4:41 am

 

5. Ghat Al Bird said:

ALIEN IN SYRIA

You raise several interesting questions. I am adding some of the points that come to mind.

The first and most relevant question that we all must ask is; from whom does Wikileaks get all this information? Or who would be the most logical provider(s) of such information (?) and lastly who benefits and who comes out looking bad from such information?

Since most of the information Wikileaks has made public concerns primarely American actions then the primary source must be the US Department of State or other US Federal Agencies or lastly the one organization presently being prosecuted in US courts for spying and that can only mean AIPAC.

A friend with long experience in such activities suggested that it could be all three. Aside from all conjectures the question still remains why is it still taking place and for what purpose and to whose benefit.

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November 30th, 2010, 8:17 am

 

6. norman said:

John Kerry: Let’s give Syria the Golan Heights

Rick Moran
The Wikileaks doc dump has had the unintended effect of revealing some of the true feelings of American policy makers regarding Israel, our Middle East allies, and the peace process.

For instance, one eye opening document reveals John Kerry’s eagerness to give Syria the Golan Heights back to Syria while throwing in East Jerusalem for the Palestinians. Josh Rogin:

On a February trip to the Middle East, Senate Foreign Relations Committee chairman John Kerry (D-MA) told Qatari leaders that the Golan Heights should be returned to Syria, that a Palestinian capital should be established in East Jerusalem as part of the Arab-Israeli peace process, and that he was “shocked” by what he saw on a visit to Gaza.
Kerry discussed the Israeli-Palestinian peace process in a visit to Qatar during separate meetings with Prime Minister Hamad bin Jassim Al Thani and the Emir of Qatar, Hamad bin Khalifa, as revealed by the disclosure of diplomatic cables by the website WikiLeaks.

The emir told Kerry to focus on Syria as the path toward resolution of the Arab-Israeli conflict. Kerry agreed with the emir that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad is a man who wants change but pointed out that his arming of Hezbollah and interference in Lebanese politics were unhelpful. Kerry said that Assad “needs to make a bolder move and take risks” for peace, and that he should be “more statesman-like.” Kerry also agreed with the emir that the Golan Heights should be given back to Syria at some point.

“The Chairman added that Netanyahu also needs to compromise and work the return of the Golan Heights into a formula for peace,” the diplomatic cable reported.

There’s a very good reason Israel is reluctant to part with the Golan Heights; they command a superior firing position for Syrian artillery. The reason they were taken in the first place was because of Syria’s nasty habit of opening fire from the Golan without warning on innocent Israelis going about their daily lives. Until Bibi has a negotiating partner in Syria he can trust, the Golan Heights will stay where they are.

And East Jerusalem? I suppose Kerry can readily dismiss longstanding US policy on the need to maintain an undivided Jerusalem as capitol of Israel but who’s paying attention?

We are – now that the truth of this man’s betrayals are in the open.

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November 30th, 2010, 9:25 am

 

7. Dragoman said:

Alex et al.

Has Any of you come a cross the following story?

http://www.voltairenet.org/article167553.html

Any merit to it at all?

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November 30th, 2010, 10:32 am

 

8. Alex said:

Dragoman,

The story was linked here earlier this week by Ghat Albird. I am not able to decide how credible it is. Can others tell us more about the sources?

Alien in Syria,

I also wondered why is it that the same consistently hilarious public Israeli “diplomacy” under the guidance of Israel’s top diplomat (and ex Moldovan bouncer) would appear to be so professional and so constructive when we go through all the leaks.

I would say some serious filtering took place. Because of the above and because as you mentioned, most of what was revealed was either common knowledge or widely accepted. They made sure they did not reveal serious secrets and they did not do anything to harm Israel’s reputation.

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November 30th, 2010, 2:14 pm

 

9. Amir in Tel Aviv said:

Alien Alex,

Some in the Israeli media asked the same question, Why so little about Israel.
From what I heard on the IDF radio (quotes from a WikiLeaks “producer”), there’s much more to come in the coming days, plenty of it about Israel. Let’s wait and see.
.

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November 30th, 2010, 5:52 pm

 

10. OFF THE WALL said:

I believe that even before SC started a full thread on the leaks (or is it onions?), i mentioned that there was not much revelations in them and summed up most of what all are talking about.

As in many cases, i would like to divert the attention a little bit to a couple of points that I felt are noteworthy. First, I am impressed with the concise style of the reporting in each of the cables i have read so far (more than 20). They are well presented and make one feel that they were present in the meeting. This is very essential in diplomacy and I believe that notwithstanding potential filtering, staff at US embassies, who were probably mid-level career diplomats did an outstanding job reporting on these meetings in manner that leaves no room for more than one interpretation of what took place during these meetings. For that, I would say Kudos US civil servants and state department career diplomats. Most important of these cables are those called scensetters (briefing before a meeting). For anyone in international relationships, these scenesetters are rather crucial, they are where the high level diplomats know what to say to the person they are supposed to meet and where they get background information that allows them not to be blindsided by their interlocutors. On the average, these also were reasonably done in structure and mid-level diplomats showed an outstanding training in organizing the structure of these routine, but important documents.

Where the cables failed, however, was on analysis. There was little or no real analysis in most of these cables. To me this is a very alarming trend. Somehow, these capable diplomats are taught to do the routine part of the job rather well, but fail to provide the value of intelligence. When I read the 2005 cable on Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, I tried to think of the policy maker who has to make decisions based on the analysis presented and found that the analysis was rather poor. The fact that were presented were a random collection of hearsays without one being able to form a coherent picture of the analysis target, or of the potential motivations of those providing the seemingly insider information.

The most striking failure is that with respect to the blind acceptance of the requests by Arab despots for the elimination of Iran’s nuclear program and perhaps of Iran. These poor analysts proved that they have no clue about the psychology of asymmetric international relationships, or for that matter any asymmetric dependency relationships, where the dependent party (sometime person), tend to tell the stronger person what they believe the stronger one wants to hear. We see it in the workplace, in homes, and in political discourse, especially in despotic environments. The diplomats wants to convince themselves that they are operating on equal footing when dealing with Arab despots, but they fail to realize the incredible psychology of the relationship. Anyone with an alcoholic friend should know something about that.

The contrast between the meetings with the chiefs of Israeli intelligence and that with the Egyptian chief of intelligence was a most striking example of the Asymmetric dialog. The Israelis were making demands and starting from the premise that they are the stronger party of the relationship while the american visitors, no matter how high, were constantly trying to demonstrate loyalty and provide assurances. Mr. Suleiman on the other hand, was the one providing assurances of compliance with the US and Israel strategy and telling his visiting general, (i.e., boss) what he thought the general wanted to hear about Hamas, Hizbullah, Iran, and Syria. Frankly, I almost threw up in disgust reading that cable.

On a second thought, these cables are scandalous, even if filtered. It just takes some reading between the lines and some out of the box, or call it, Off the Wall, thinking.

Kudos for american mid-level diplomats for being rather outstanding bureaucrats, but unfortunately, rather limited on creative thinking.

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November 30th, 2010, 7:32 pm

 

11. OFF THE WALL said:

Norman and All

Moron (i.e., Moran) writes

And East Jerusalem? I suppose Kerry can readily dismiss longstanding US policy on the need to maintain an undivided Jerusalem as capitol of Israel but who’s paying attention?

Someone should tell this Moron Moran to read history, here is an unclassified circular form the Jewish Library. The lying bastard needs to be challenged. Long time US policy in Jerusalem has no place for a “undivided capital of Israel”. This is an AIPAC lie that should be stopped. There has yet to be an official declaration of that. Even with the AIPAC unbelievable bullying, the general trend in US policy circles is that Jerusalem status is a matter of negotiation. While hoping that Israel will be able to strong-arm the Palestinians into subjugation, they still have not made that change. The moron Moran is a lying weasel.

Here is the 1966 Cable.

This telegram permits the U.S. Ambassador to Israel to accept an invitation to the opening of the new Knesset (Israeli parliament) building in the western-section Jerusalem . The U.S. Government requests that this invitation not be spotlighted and reiterates its policy that Jerusalem is not the capital of Israel and it should be an internationalized city.

Circular Telegram From the Department of State to the Embassy in Israel/1/

Washington, August 22, 1966, 10:53 p.m.

33056. Ref: Depcirtel 2464, June 15./2/

1. Dept authorizes Ambassador Barbour to accept anticipated formal Israeli Government invitation to attend inauguration ceremonies new Knesset building Jerusalem August 29-31.

2. We consider this inauguration one-time affair that is not to be regarded as precedent or pattern for future nor as representing any change in USG policy on status of Jerusalem. USG continues to support 1948 UN General Assembly resolution that provided for international status Jerusalem under UN administration, and does not recognize Jerusalem as de jure capital of Israel. We trust attendance of official Americans at Knesset opening will not be spotlighted. These points being made to Israeli Embassy here and should be reiterated by Embassy to GOI at appropriate time.

3. Department is informing British, Canadian, German, Belgian and Italian Embassies here since they previously queried us on US position. Embassy Paris may draw on above at its discretion in speaking to GOF.

Rusk

/1/Source: Department of State, Central Files, POL 15-2 ISR. Confidential. Drafted by Wolle on August 17; cleared by Symmes and Hare and in substance by UK Country Director J. Harold Shullaw, Algeria, Libya, Morocco, Spanish Sahara, and Tunisia Country Director John F. Root, Edward W. Schaefer of AFNE, and Kinsolving; and approved and initialed by Rusk. Repeated to Algiers, Amman, Baghdad, Beirut, Bonn, Cairo, Damascus, Jerusalem, Jidda, Khartoum, Kuwait, London, Ottawa, Paris, Rabat, Rome, Tripoli, and Tunis and pouched to Taiz.

/2/Circular telegram 2464, June 15, summarizes a conversation that day between Lebanese Ambassador El Ahdab and Davies, in which El Ahdab expressed concern over the possible attendance by Ambassador Barbour at the ceremonial opening of the new Knesset in Jerusalem. (Ibid.)

Source: “Circular Telegram From the Department of State to the Embassy in Israel” in Smith, Louis J. (Ed.). Foreign Relations of the United States, 1964-1968, V. 20, Arab-Israeli Dispute 1967-1968. DC: GPO, 2001.

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November 30th, 2010, 7:57 pm

 

12. Norman said:

OTW ,

Thank you , they keep repeating a lie until people think it is a fact

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November 30th, 2010, 9:51 pm

 

13. Shai said:

OTW,

Fascinating analysis you gave in comment 10 above, thank you. I wish I had the time to read some of those cables. I hope to do that in the coming days.

I wonder about the question of analysis, whether perhaps the State Department directed their mid-level diplomats NOT to analyze, but instead to only provide “the facts”, and let the higher levels reach their conclusions.

As for the leaks vis-a-vis Israel, as Amir pointed out, there is both surprise in Israel (the general public and the media was sure there’d be more, and not very favorable stuff), and anticipation that more’s coming.

Analysis I’ve heard so far by respectable diplomats (such as Dr. Alon Liel) has been that these leaks are, at best, affirmations of the general trends that we are already well aware of. They are archival, and have little policy-changing value. What do you think?

And lastly, regarding your point about Jerusalem, you’re absolutely right, and that can easily be demonstrated by the fact that Jerusalem is the only capital in the world that has no embassies! (The American Embassy is, like all the rest, in Tel-Aviv). No need for cables from 1966… :-)

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December 1st, 2010, 3:09 pm

 

14. Alex said:

My friends Shai and Amir, happy Hanukkah to you and your families.

Off the Wall, Shai

I wish diplomats who are stationed in those embassies would send more analysis back to state department. They probably have much better exposure and understanding of the nuances behind the superficial cold information that they have been reporting.

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December 1st, 2010, 4:13 pm

 

15. OFF THE WALL said:

Thanks Shai

Please do read at least some of the cables, i would be interested in knowing if you see some validity to my argument.

I do agree with Dr. Liel’s analysis. From my first reading, the cable struck me as archival. The scenario you proposed in terms of mid-level diplomats being told not to analyze is very valid. Except that there were some attempts at analysis, and they were rather mediocre. Perhaps this is why these capable managers were asked not to try to analyze.

Years ago, a multi-lingual friend was hired by an embassy primarily to read the influential local press (really all of it, not like Sarah Palins’s all of it) and to prepare a daily briefing for the ambassador. Now this is routine and mundane, but what struck me most was that the Enlightened Ambassador was keen on knowing whether the headline matched the article in tone, especially if the editorial had anything to do with the said headline. If that was the case, he would then order a review of all articles in other newspapers related to the same story. While I do not want to attribute his success only to this issue, but this Ambassador struck me as someone with unique intelligence and a strange way of learning about his host country. He was the longest-serving ambassador in that post, and when leaving it he received highest honors from both his own and his host nations. Citations, according to my friend include an unprecedented service in improving the relationship between the two countries. I am still trying to decipher his logic, but it seems to make sense, and knowing myself, it does so perhaps on the sole reason that it was strange and weird (kind of off the wall once more :) )

The 1966 cable is significant in the sense that even when Jerusalem was physically divided before 1967, the US policy has been that it should be an international city. This is rather informative. Whether one agrees with it or not.

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December 1st, 2010, 4:17 pm

 

16. Shai said:

Alex,

Many thanks for the warm wishes.

OTW,

Indeed the more successful diplomats are likely those who want to get as wide a picture as possible of the nation they’re serving in. I imagine reading and comparing various newspapers is also very helpful in better understanding and mapping out the real picture, the important issues (as seen by the general public), the key players, etc. The ambassador you mentioned undoubtedly knew far more about his host nation, than others who preferred the KISS modus operandi.

Btw, regarding Jerusalem, I believe recent American administrations have accepted that in the short term, the city will probably have to be divided, and that E. Jerusalem will have to become the Palestinian capital. In the long term, I do believe Jerusalem should be an international city serving, in fact, the three major monotheistic religions, and the entire world that follows them.

(I didn’t mean to suggest the 1966 cable was insignificant. I meant it as a joke…)

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December 1st, 2010, 4:33 pm

 

17. Ghat Al Bird said:

To ALEX and OTW. You all mught find this interesting too.

Zbigniew Brzezinski: Who is Really Leaking to Wikileaks?
01 Dicembre 2010

Zbigniew Brzezinski doesn’t think all the leaked information coming out of Wikileaks is a result of Army PFC Bradley Manning, as a matter of fact he suspects a FOREIGN intelligence service may be providing the more embarrassing leaks. In a PBS interview with Judy Woodruff.

JUDY WOODRUFF: Dr. Brzezinski, what do you think the fallout is going to be?
ZBIGNIEW BRZEZINSKI, former adviser, U.S. National Security: …

The real issue is, who is feeding Wikipedia on this issue — Wiki — Wiki — WikiLeaks on this issue? They’re getting a lot of information which seems trivial, inconsequential, but some of it seems surprisingly pointed.

JUDY WOODRUFF: Well, what are you referring to?

ZBIGNIEW BRZEZINSKI: Well, for example, there are references to a report by our officials that some Chinese leaders favor a reunified Korea under South Korea.

This is clearly designed to embarrass the Chinese and our relationship with them. The very pointed references to Arab leaders could have as their objective undermining their political credibility at home, because this kind of public identification of their hostility towards Iran could actually play against them at home…

JUDY WOODRUFF: And what is it — what are you worried about with regard to the knowledge that…

ZBIGNIEW BRZEZINSKI: It’s not a question of worry. It’s, rather, a question of whether WikiLeaks are being manipulated by interested parties that want to either complicate our relationship with other governments or want to undermine some governments, because some of these items that are being emphasized and have surfaced are very pointed.

And I wonder whether, in fact, there aren’t some operations internationally, intelligence services, that are feeding stuff to WikiLeaks, because it is a unique opportunity to embarrass us, to embarrass our position, but also to undermine our relations with particular governments.

For example, leaving aside the personal gossip about Sarkozy or Berlusconi or Putin, the business about the Turks is clearly calculated in terms of its potential impact on disrupting the American-Turkish relationship.

JUDY WOODRUFF: Just criticizing the people around…

ZBIGNIEW BRZEZINSKI: And the top leaders, Erdogan and Davutoglu and so forth, are using some really, really, very sharp language.

JUDY WOODRUFF: But this is 250 — it’s a quarter-of-a-million documents.

ZBIGNIEW BRZEZINSKI: Precisely.

JUDY WOODRUFF: How easy would it be to seed this to make sure that it was slanted a certain way?

ZBIGNIEW BRZEZINSKI: Seeding — seeding it is very easy.

I have no doubt that WikiLeaks is getting a lot of the stuff from sort of relatively unimportant sources, like the one that perhaps is identified on the air. But it may be getting stuff at the same time from interested intelligence parties who want to manipulate the process and achieve certain very specific objectives.

It should be noted that while ZB suspects foreign elements behind some of the leaks, it could very well be internal U.S. elements unhappy with the direction the President is taking things. Wikileaks may have both domestic and foreign sources. There could very well be more than one playing this game.

Source > Economic Policy

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December 1st, 2010, 4:34 pm

 

18. Shai said:

“A Syrian Perspective” by Ambassador Imad Moustapha.
http://bitterlemons-api.org/inside.php?id=11

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December 1st, 2010, 4:35 pm

 

19. t_desco said:

The picture of a reasonable, thoughtful Syrian president that emerges from this interview stands in marked contrast to the caricature that one finds all too often in our media.

The Saudi ‘documentary’ ‘Murder in Beirut’ by Charlie Smith, Christopher Mitchell/ORTV includes a number of shots of the first page of a purported UN tribunal/investigation document. The text is very similar to the Follath/Der Spiegel article.
Interestingly, the author still uses the Mehlis estimate regarding the amount of explosives (“1000 kg”). Since June 2006 the estimate was increased to “at least 1,200 kg” (Third UN report) and then to “closer to 1,800 kg than to 1,200 kg” (Forth UN report in September 2006). At the same time, the text contains information about the Mitsubishi Canter van that was only disclosed in July 2007:
“The van was then shipped to the United Arab Emirates and transported to a showroom close to Tripoli in northern Lebanon in December 2004, where it was sold. The Commission has recently acquired information regarding the sale of the van to individuals who could be involved in the final preparation of the van for the attack on Rafik Hariri.” (§24, Eighth UN report, July 2007).
However, if reports by Al-Akhbar are correct, that information had already been acquired in April 2006 by the Lebanese investigation (interestingly, the first to suggest that the van was bought in Tripoli was Faisal Akbar in January 2006 in his later retracted testimony).

This leads us to three possibilities:

The document is
1. not genuine;
2. just sloppy regarding the amount of explosives;
3. genuine and was written between April 2006 and June 2006.
According to CBC, Wissam Eid’s report was filed “in the first months of 2006″. However, the air of certainty that apparently pervades the text does not seem to correspond to a report that just relies on circumstantial evidence:

“Lebanon/Hizballah Behind Hariri’s Assassination

In the weeks prior to the Harir (sic) murder, a number of Hizballah operational cells closely followed the movements of the former Prime Minister, collected accurate information on his movements and waited for the best opportunity to assassinate him. According to accumulated information, this activity was carried out by a compartmented unit in Hizballah headed by Selim Ayyash (alias Haj Selim).

… (PHOTO “A” ATTACHED), who is a senior operative with a rich ‘operational’ past, is from the Nabatiya area in South Lebanon, was born on 10 November 1963 and is currently living in the Shiite area of south Beirut. He is the commander of the classified unit that deals in secret and compartmented activity in the Lebanese arena. He is married to Fatima al-Hajj and they have three children.

… was the commander of the assassination squad. He was apparently responsible for procuring a white Mitsubishi Canter in late January 2005, far from Beirut, and in a way that precluded him from being identified as the procurer of the vehicle. Hizballah demolition unit specialists, who have a great deal of experience in preparing car bombs, turned the vehicle into a car bomb and armed it with 1,000 kg of varied explosives (TNT, C4, RDX).

The unit headed by … was in 2005 directly subordinate to the military commander of Hizballah, Imad Mughniyah. The connection between …

Eyad (DOB: 20 April 1960) (PHOTO “B” ATTACHED) a former operative of Hizballah’s external operations apparatus and in 2005, “.

The names are mostly blanked out, but remain visible in some of the shots. A few lines of a second page are also discernible through the paper (unclear/guessed words are marked with a “?”):

“Eyad was?
minutely? involved in all aspects and stages? of the operation. Selim”

further down:

“was present? at the Parliament building. This enabled Ayyash then to precisely time the explosion”

further down:

“Samir Kassir?” “(2? June? 2005)” “George Hawi (21″

“2005)?. In each case there were cell phones – later identified as tied to”

further down:

“town? of Rumin?” “PHOTO”
“Ghamlush?”

“training? in Iran prior to the assassination”.

The similarities to Follath’s article are striking:

“He is believed to be Abd al-Majid Ghamlush, from the town of Rumin, a Hezbollah member who had completed training course in Iran. (…)

Ghamlush’s recklessness led investigators to the man they now suspect was the mastermind of the terrorist attack: Hajj Salim, 45. A southern Lebanese from Nabatiyah, Salim is considered to be the commander of the “military” wing of Hezbollah and lives in South Beirut, a Shiite stronghold. Salim’s secret “Special Operational Unit” reports directly to Hezbollah Secretary-General Hassan Nasrallah, 48.

Imad Mughniyah (…) ran the unit until Feb. 12, 2008 (…).

The deeper the investigators in Beirut penetrated into the case, the clearer the picture became, according to the SPIEGEL source. They have apparently discovered which Hezbollah member obtained the small Mitsubishi truck used in the attack. They have also been able to trace the origins of the explosives, more than 1,000 kilograms of TNT, C4 and hexogen.

(…) And, once again, there was evidence of involvement by the Hezbollah commando unit, just as there has been in each of more than a dozen attacks against prominent Lebanese in the last four years.”

(m. emph.)

Note that Follath uses the correct(ed?) estimate of “more than 1,000 kilograms” of explosives.

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December 1st, 2010, 5:32 pm

 

20. Amir in Tel Aviv said:

Alex,

Thank you for your kind words my friend !!

Shai Alex,

My 2 cents: (1) Israeli politicians are very very *very* careful when speaking. When speaking with anybody..!! If they talk, they\’ll do it with the highest authority possible (the president, the secretary of state) in a 4 eyes conversation, and with no written notes. This is a typical “Sharonian” way of doing business, which the rest of Israeli politicians adopted. (2) The Israeli press is good. Many of WikiLeaks revelations, especially those regarding the Arab leaders, and what they say behind closed doors, have been published in various Israeli media outlets. (3) The Israeli press is thorough. There\’s not much you can hide from them. This brings me to (1), why Israeli politicians are paranoiac. Shai ?
.

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December 1st, 2010, 6:23 pm

 

21. Akbar Palace said:

Alex,

Here is some history about Hanukkah (aka the “Festival of Lights”) for those who may be interested:

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

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December 1st, 2010, 7:00 pm

 

22. Shai said:

Amir,

Happy Hannukah to you and your family.

Israeli politicians aren’t really paranoid, their public is. And the reason is, because fear sells well, and paranoia is the 2-for-1 deal.

We’ve heard plenty of Intelligence Heads speak in the past few years about the fact that Syria is sincere about Peace with Israel (as best as they can estimate, and it is their duty to estimate). But when was the last time you heard a politician say this? If an MK says something like that, he/she can forget about being re-elected. Because people in our country have gotten used to the Security-Threat (the existential one of course), and only unrealistic “liberal lefties” (recently aka “anti-zionists”) would dare suggest otherwise.

Paranoia in Israel has been, for the past 62 years, very deeply rooted, and very well funded. It is up to us, the few “crazy ones”, to bring some sense and courage back to our people and to their future. They deserve it.

Akbar, just saw you come in. Happy Hannukah to you too, and to your family.

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December 1st, 2010, 7:06 pm

 

23. Norman said:

Shai, Amir , What do you think of this ,

wdbj7.com/la-fg-wikileaks-syria-20101202,0,5511680.story

wdbj7.com
Syria’s Assad seems to suggest backing for Hamas negotiable, leaked cables say
But even as President Bashar Assad appeared willing to reduce ties with the Palestinian militant group ruling the Gaza Strip, he brushed off pressure to alter the dynamics of his friendship with Iran.
By Meris Lutz, Los Angeles Times

December 2, 2010

Reporting from Beirut

Advertisement

Syrian President Bashar Assad described Hamas as an “uninvited guest” in his country in confidential conversations with American lawmakers, and appeared to suggest he would be willing to give up the alliance in exchange for incentives, according to several documents contained in the trove of leaked diplomatic cables posted online by the website WikiLeaks.

But even as Assad appeared willing to downgrade ties with the Palestinian militant group that rules the Gaza Strip, he brushed off pressure to change the dynamics of his friendship with Iran. He argued against his government putting pressure on Tehran over its nuclear program in exchange for a peace deal between Syria and Israel.

“Too many cooks spoil the meal,” he is quoted saying in a January 2010 cable.

The leaked cables shed new light on international efforts to forge a Syrian-Israeli peace accord and on private meetings involving the leader of Syria’s secretive government.

Assad shows himself in the leaked correspondence to be a shrewd negotiator. He told the American delegation visiting Damascus that he could help secure the Iraqi border against the flow of foreign fighters into Syria’s neighbor. But he said he wouldn’t do it “for free,” asking the U.S. to lift sanctions that banned the sale of commercial airplanes and their parts to Syria.

“In the U.S., you like to shoot [terrorists],” he said. “Suffocating their networks is far more effective.”

Diplomats and analysts view Syrian cooperation as crucial to ensuring the security of Iraq, Lebanon and Israel as well as isolating Iran.

Although Syria has forged strategic alliances with ideologically driven, Iranian-backed movements such as Islamic Jihad, Hezbollah and Hamas, Damascus continues to view the rise of political Islam as one of its primary internal threats. Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal has resided in Damascus since 2001, but such a blunt assessment of the group by Assad hasn’t been made public before.

“Hamas is Muslim Brotherhood, but we have to deal with the reality of their presence,” Assad told another group of American lawmakers in March 2009, according to an additional leaked cable, calling the Islamic movement an “uninvited guest” and likening it to the same Muslim Brotherhood his father, Hafez Assad, brutally uprooted from Syria in the 1980s.

In none of the dispatches does the younger Assad explicitly say that he would cut ties with Hamas, Hezbollah or Iran in exchange for the return of the Golan Heights, which was seized by Israel during the 1967 Middle East War. But he emphasized in the more recent meeting with U.S. lawmakers that the Golan Heights “is our issue,” according to the January 2010 confidential dispatch.

The documents also reveal an unsuccessful push by U.S. and regional leaders to persuade Israel to return the mountainous occupied region.

According to the documents, Sen. John F. Kerry (D-Mass.), chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, reportedly told the ruler of Qatar in February 2010 that Israel should “work the return of the Golan Heights into a formula for peace” with Israel.

Other regional leaders recognized Syria’s willingness to negotiate. Former Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf urged the U.S. to seek Syrian cooperation on Iraq and Lebanon. “If you want [Assad] to play ball, he needs comfort on other fronts — namely, the Golan Heights,” Musharraf told a high-ranking congressional delegation in April 2007, according to the WikiLeaks disclosures.

Israel has in recent years refused to negotiate a full withdrawal from the Golan. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told U.S. lawmakers that giving up the heights would only result in assurances that Syria would later “tear up,” according to a February 2009 cable.

Lutz is a special correspondent.

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December 1st, 2010, 9:06 pm

 

24. Alex said:

Ghat Albird,

My approach to “conspiracy theories” is that I do not embrace them, but I do not automatically reject them.

In this case, everything is possible … we’ll have to wait to see if one party clearly benefits from this leak. all it takes is one particularly dramatic document.

I usually Trust Brzezinski’s opinions.

Akbar, Happy Hanukkah!

Amir,

I am sure seasoned Israeli diplomats, like Alon Liel would be very professional when they communicate with visiting diplomats, but Lieberman’s foreign ministry is a circus (near the top at least).

Norman,

Syria’s relations with Hamas are not the results of identical ideological foundations. Hamas leaders know that Syria supports their natural right to resist Israel’s occupation of Palestinian lands. They also know that Syria is willing to negotiate a cold-peace treaty with Israel in exchange for the full withdrawal of the Golan Heights without being forced to abandon Syria’s long term support for the legitimate rights of the Palestinian people. And finally, they know that Syria is paying a price for hosting their leadership in Damascus and for supporting them politically … they will not be surprised or disappointed for reading President Assad’s words to Senator Kerry.

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December 1st, 2010, 11:48 pm

 

25. Shai said:

Norman,

I think Assad should promise Israel that, in return for the Golan, he promises Syria will become Iran’s, Hezbollah’s, and Hamas’s BEST FRIEND in the world! Because if Syria is also Israel’s ally, then Israel has a lot more to benefit from such a relationship with her enemies, than to lose. But I know this is what might be called “unconventional thinking”… :-)

What obviously is still missing, and I don’t know how Netanyahu can receive it, is an explicit promise from Assad that Syria will not allow Iranian weapons to reach Hezbollah (through Syria), that Syria will use its influence with Hezbollah to try to bring about a peaceful resolution to the last remaining Israeli-Lebanese issues, and that Syria will not support Hamas’s military struggle against Israel. These things may seem “obvious” to some, but they aren’t to many others, especially to Israelis and to Israeli leaders who do not have the courage to return the Golan without such explicit promises.

On a separate note, while I do understand Syria’s reluctance to again go down the indirect/direct talks lane, without a clear indication by Israel, in advance, that the June 4, 1967 lines are the basis for any agreement to be reached (as Ambassador Moustapha reiterated yesterday), I do think that Assad is gambling on “losing Netanyahu” by waiting. Unlike Rabin, Barak, and Olmert, Netanyahu is BEST positioned to give back the Golan. He can, under the right circumstances, easily receive majority support for a Golan withdrawal both from Knesset and from the people (even if a referendum were to take place), far more easily than his predecessors. His positioning on the political spectrum is best suited for “painful concessions”, as deemed by most Israelis.

I think Assad should consider taking a chance with Netanyahu and, without explicit promise of the June 4th lines, at least meet with him (in Damascus, not in Jerusalem). I’m ready to bet my daughters’ college money that if Netanyahu meets Assad at the Presidential Palace in Damascus, Syria will have the entire Golan back without firing a single shot.

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December 2nd, 2010, 4:57 am

 

26. Ghat Al Bird said:

Additional views on Wikileaks and whose behind the scenes.

“The United States is the real victim of WikiLeaks. It’s an action aimed at discrediting them.” Franco Frattini, Foreign Minister of Italy

The impact of the WikiLeaks release of diplomatic cables fits the behavior profile of those well versed in game theory warfare.

When Israeli mathematician Robert J. Aumann received the 2005 Nobel Prize in economic science for his work on game theory, he conceded, “the entire school of thought that we have developed here in Israel” has turned “Israel into the leading authority in this field.”

The candor of this Israeli-American offered a rare insight into an enclave long known for waging war from the shadows. Israel’s most notable success to date was “fixing” the intelligence that induced the U.S. to invade Iraq in pursuit of a geopolitical agenda long sought by Tel Aviv

When waging intelligence wars, timing is often the critical factor for game-theory war planners. The outcome of the WikiLeaks release suggests a psy-ops directed at the U.S.

Why now? Tel Aviv was feeling pressure to end its six-decade occupation of Palestine. With this release, its foot-dragging on the peace process was displaced with talk of an attack on Iran.

While the U.S. bore the brunt of the damage, the target was global public opinion. To maintain the plausibility of The Clash of Civilizations, a focus must be maintained on Iran as a credible Evil Doer.

With fast-emerging transparency, Israel and pro-Israelis have been identified as the source of the intelligence that took coalition forces to war in Iraq. Thus the need to shift attention off Tel Aviv.

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December 2nd, 2010, 10:51 am

 

27. 5 dancing shlomos said:

from jeff gates:

WikiLeaks and Espionage – Israeli Style
The U.S. is under attack by an enemy within. Skilled at game theory warfare, this foe targets the most sensitive realm of U.S. national security: its relations with other nations.
The online publication of a quarter-million documents chronicling diplomatic exchanges is notable both for what’s omitted and what’s included. To determine whether this latest release was a form of espionage, analysts need only examine how this treasure trove of trivia was peppered with documents certain to damage U.S. relations.
To identify its origins, analysts must answer a key question: Cui Bono? To whose benefit?
One clue: the release of degrading and insulting language about Turkish leaders soon after they insisted in late October that the U.S. no longer share Turkish intelligence with Tel Aviv.
That request from a valued ally marks a critical step in isolating Israel by requiring that the U.S. shut down Israeli operations inside its 16 intelligence agencies, the White House and the Intelligence Committees in both the House and Senate. Tel Aviv was not pleased.
Turks remain outraged at the lack of accountability for the execution-style killing by Israel Defense Forces of nine Turkish citizens aboard a humanitarian ship that was boarded in international waters while sailing to Gaza with provisions to relieve an Israeli siege.
Was this release a tit-for-tat, Tel Aviv style? Is WikiLeaks the visible face of an Israeli disinformation campaign? Whose interests were served by disrupting U.S.-Turkish relations?
Intent is Determinative
A leak on this scale is only a leak if it is a random data dump. If items were purposely included or excluded based on their intended effect, it’s an intelligence operation. Former National Security Adviser Zbigniew Brzezinski points out how this release is “seeded” with information that is “surprisingly pointed.”
Take for example the cables indicating that Chinese leaders are inclined to cooperate with the U.S. in reunifying North and South Korea under the leadership of the south. That information was guaranteed to embarrass China’s leaders, damage U.S. relations with Beijing and make reunification more difficult.
From a game theory perspective, that damaging result was fully foreseeable. With the U.S. economy teetering on a meltdown, the creation of a rift with America’s largest trading partner was also an assault on the economic strength required for the U.S. to sustain a viable defense.
Similarly, the pointed references to Arab leaders were destined to weaken their political credibility at home while complicating relations abroad. By exposing Arab displeasure with Iran, this operation also sharpened the divide between Sunni and Shiite Muslims, a source of ongoing tensions and a key barrier to forming a viable government in Iraq.
The effect was certain to complicate U.S. disengagement and raise America’s costs in both blood and treasure.
The cables involving Saudi leaders were released soon after Washington agreed to allow Riyadh to purchase $60 billion in U.S. aircraft and armaments over a multi-year period. Tel Aviv was not pleased.
By targeting the credibility of both Saudi Arabia and the U.S., this operation targeted the two nations pressing hardest for an end to Israel’s occupation of Palestine.
Transparency is the Biggest Threat
Has Tel Aviv panicked? After more than six decades of nonstop provocations while routinely portraying itself as the perennial victim, has Israel’s storyline lost traction?
Zionism faces an existential threat though not from Iran or those Tel Aviv portrays as “Islamo-fascists.” The threat lurks in the fast-emerging transparency that confirms pro-Israelis as the source of the intelligence that took the U.S. to war on false premises.
A critical mass of disinformation persuaded the U.S. to wage war in pursuit of an agenda long sought by Zionist extremists.
Steve Rosen, a former employee of the Israel lobby, has promised to testify on the lobby’s routine receipt of classified U.S. intelligence. Is this massive release of classified materials meant to make the lobby’s intelligence-gathering operation appear routine?
What’s included in the WikiLeaks release is pointed. What’s excluded is even more so: the lack of facts chronicling the role that Israel has long played in undermining U.S. interests.
Israel has escaped accountability for more than six decades. Was the WikiLeaks release “seeded” to discredit the U.S. at this time-critical juncture? The evidence suggests that what we see is not a data dump but a disinformation operation.
Last week, Israeli resistance to a peace plan was front-page news. This week the news is all about war with Iran. The Jerusalem Post immediately crowed that WikiLeaks “vindicated Israel” by citing Arab leaders’ concerns about Iran.
These latest releases even enabled Tel Aviv to suggest that if U.S. intelligence was flawed on a nuclear-armed North Korea, how can anyone trust America to contain a nuclear Iran?
To whom should this release be attributed? Who benefitted?

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December 2nd, 2010, 11:38 am

 

28. 5 dancing shlomos said:

at 17: “It should be noted that while ZB suspects foreign elements behind some of the leaks, it could very well be internal U.S. elements unhappy with the direction the President is taking things.”

maybe the foreign elements and the internal elements are members of the same collective – jewry.

in essence one group.

gordon duff: aipac/jewry.

GORDON DUFF: WIKILEAKS, A TOUCH OF ASSANGE AND THE STENCH OF AIPAC
November 27, 2010 (syr comment nov 28)

http://www.veteranstoday.com/2010/11/27/gordon-duff-wikileak-predictions-sticking-my-neck-out-2/

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December 2nd, 2010, 1:24 pm

 

29. ALIEN IN SYRIA said:

Former Pakistani General: CIA, Mossad behind WikiLeaks Reports
Fars News 02 Dicembre 2010

TEHRAN (FNA)- A former Pakistani army commander said that the disclosure of classified documents by the whistleblower site of Wikileaks is a US plot to create rift among friendly and neighboring states.

“The US has a hand in this plot, and these reports (posted by the WikiLeaks website) are part of the US psychological warfare,” former Chief of the Staff of the Pakistani Army General Mirza Aslam Beg told FNA in Islamabad on Tuesday.

He stated that the US could prevent the leak of information if it wanted to do so, and warned that the real plot and conspiracy pursued by these reports will be unraveled in future.

Aslam Beg further reiterated that the CIA and Israel’s spy agency Mossad have launched efforts to weaken and destabilize Pakistan, and WikiLeaks reports are part of these efforts.

The remarks by the Pakistani figure came after US embassy cables posted by WikiLeaks website sparked hot reactions in the region.

In one cable, the WikiLeaks claimed, Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah, a close ally of Pakistan, reportedly called Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari the main cause of his country’s woes.

Pakistani President’s office responded on Monday that the leaks were “no more than an attempt to create misperceptions between two important and brotherly Muslim countries”.

Source > Fars News

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December 3rd, 2010, 6:29 am

 

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