Is Hizbullah Secular? James Baker Meets Syrian F.M.

James Baker, President Bush senior’s Secretary of State, announced Tuesday a week ago that his task force will meet this week with the foreign minister of Syria, against which the administration has mounted a diplomatic boycott for almost two years. The task force has already met with Damascus’ ambassador in Washington, as part of a series of meetings with Washington-based envoys from Iraq’s Arab neighbors.

Baker’s task force, called the Iraq Study Group (ISG), has also been cleared by President Bush to talk to Iranian officials. Jim Lobe writes:

Such a meeting would no doubt feed speculation here that Baker, a consummate “realist” who reportedly has been privately critical of the administration’s Middle East policies, could help tilt the balance of power within the administration in favor of fellow realists, centered in the State Department. They generally support greater flexibility in dealing with perceived U.S. foes in the region, and against right-wing hawks led by Vice President Dick Cheney who have steadfastly opposed engagement with both Iran and Syria.

I have heard nothing further about the meeting of James Baker’s task force with foreign Minister Walid Mualim, but if it indeed went ahead, it will mark a significant lapse in Washington’s isolation policy toward Syria.

An article well worth reading in its entirety is the following by Nir Rosen, who is always excellent and provocative. He argues that Hizbullah is really a secular party and shouldn’t worry us. Can this be true?

Hizb Allah, Party of God 
Oct 3, 2006
By Nir Rosen

In the wake of Israel’s 33-day war with Hizballah, the 24-year-old Islamic movement has become the most popular political party in the Middle East. Here’s why that shouldn’t worry us. Over 1 million Lebanese gathered in a vast square in a southern Beirut suburb on Sept. 22 to celebrate their country’s largely successful campaign against Israel. Seyid Hassan Nasrallah, secretary-general of Hizballah, risked his life by appearing in public after Israeli leaders had sworn to kill him, and spoke to his adoring supporters in Lebanon and around the world….Surveying this massive crowd of boisterous people—the men and women, the teenagers and the small children, celebrating their identity and their steadfastness together with music—I knew this was not the stuff of religious fundamentalism or terrorism. I was struck by how the reality of Hizballah differed from its distorted image in the West. For although Hizb Allah, the Party of God, is undoubtedly of Shia origin, it is in fact a secular movement, addressing real temporal issues, its leaders speaking in a nationalist discourse, avoiding sectarianism and religious metaphors. They participate in politics, compromising and negotiating, and do not seek to impose Islamic law on others. Proof of this is readily available in Hizballah strongholds, where many of their followers are secular, supporting Hizballah because it represents their political interests and defends them.

Throughout the country, women in chadors walk beside scantily clad beauties.  Along Lebanon’s highways, or what is left of them, billboards celebrating Hizballah’s “divine victory” over Israel share advertising space with posters depicting half-naked women wearing jeans or lingerie. Hizballah may have preferences, but unlike the authoritarian leaders of the Taliban or Saudi Arabia, it does not impose them.

Nor has the movement shown a long-standing inability to reconcile with its enemies. Most strikingly, in 2000, after Israel’s withdrawal from the Lebanese territory it was occupying, the thousands of Shia and Christian collaborators suddenly found themselves vulnerable to retribution and street justice from understandably aggrieved Lebanese. On strict orders from Hizballah, however, the vast majority were not touched. Rather they were handed over to the Lebanese army, dealt with by the Lebanese government and imprisoned and amnestied prematurely, in a move that offended many Lebanese. Nevertheless, today they can be spotted in towns in the south; everyone knows who they are, and they remain unharmed. Hardly the actions of a violent fundamentalist terrorist organization.

And what was so unreasonable about Hizballah’s demands? The movement insisted it wanted Lebanese prisoners to be freed by Israel, all of Lebanon’s territory to be evacuated by Israel, and for the Lebanese army, which had never defended Lebanon, let alone its south, to come up with a national defense plan.  Thirty years of proven Israeli brutality and 60 years of Lebanese government neglect of the south gave Hizballah a raison d’etre its leadership insisted it did not want. (Continue…)

President Bashar al-Asad makes the same argument as does Nir Rosen about Hizbullah’s politics being largely secular and appealing to a cross-sectarian audience. In a recent interview with Spain’s largest newspaper, El Pais, Asad insists that Hizbullah has a secular orientation, which does not undermine or controdict Syria’s own secular policies. In response to a question about whether it is dangerous for a secular country such as Syria to support Hassan Nasrallah and Hizbullah, an “Islamic” resistance organization, President Assad responded by arguing that Nassrallah’s “political discourse and practice are secular.” He added that most of the forces allied with Nasrallah, including the Christian allies of Michel Aoun, are secular as well.

“If he doesn’t gain support from non-Muslims, he can’t be strong… He is defending a national issue and not merely an Islamic one. There is a consensus among different sects in the Arab countries on his policies and not only in Lebanon… There is no concern at all regarding this point,” president Assad asserted.

Nasrallah has reiterated in most recent speeches that he does not strive to impose sharia law on Lebanon or to establish an Islamic state. Here is what Nasrallah said in his speech of 27 August 2006, given at the conclusion of the Lebanon War this summer.

“Lebanon is a tapestry of various groups, religions, parties, and sects. It cannot be ruled as an Islamic or Christian state, nor can it be ruled as a Shiite Islamic state. These claims are US and Israeli propaganda, designed to make the Christians fear us and fear that we will impose a possible Islamic state on Lebanon. Apparently, the US and Israel want to inculcate a new fear among Sunnis that we are preparing for a Shiite state.”

Comments (21)


1. Idaf said:

The unintended outcome of the war that the US administration and Israel did not count for is the resurrection of the secular mass pan-Arab feelings in the whole Arab world. I have been talking to Christians from different Arab countries specifically about their feelings on Hizballah since the war and every single one was overwhelmingly passionate about Nasrallah. Many admitted that they are regaining their belief in pan-Arabism thanks to HA. Among Sunnis (even in Lebanon while many would not admit it) HA popularity is unrivaled. Come to think of it, Hizballah’s victory was the best thing to happen to America if they were smart to benefit from it. Al-qaida’s limited popularity among Sunnis in the Arab world and even Pakistan, is diminishing further thanks to HA. The few blinded Sunnis that used to support Al-Qaida out of their hate for America now having nothing but dislike to the organization. Remember that Al-Qaida’s literature calls HA “the party of Satan” because it’s a Shiite movement.. HA’s victory has totally discredited Al-Qaida in the eyes of Sunnis.

Ironically, an “Islamist movement” called the party of God is reuniting Arabs (Christians and Muslims alike) on a secular basis! On a grass root level, Sunnis and Shiites were never as close as they are today. I predict that HA “reunification” of the Sunnis and Shiites would soon be reflected positively (up to a certain level) on the civil war in Iraq.

I had access to a very recent poll carried out by Zogby International in one of the Gulf countries surveying youth. Nassrallah tops the list of “admired model”. The head of that country cames second with half of Nasrallah’s votes! I doubt the poll will be made public!

The most surprising responses I got though were from Lebanese Christians who had historically supported Samir Jajaa, the head of the (pro-Israel) Lebanese Forces Christian party. Many have expressed their support and admiration for Hizballah (not in public though)!

This is why the Arab “Sunni regimes” (Saudi, Jordan, Egypt and the 14 February guys in Lebanon) are freaking out. They are now re-launching the sectarian rhetoric and utilizing the politics of fear by waving the “Farsi threat” to scare the people (specially in the gulf). This has worked before during the cold war, this time, this is just discrediting them more among their peoples. All the political parties that have positioned themselves as enemies for HA and friends of the US administration are trenching behind sectarian slogans again.. see the latest speeches from The 14 Feb people in Lebanon (Junblat, Hariri and Jajaa), the regimes in Saudi, Jordan, Egypt and many gulf countries. This has effectively created an “Israeli-Sunni” alliance. The secret meetings of the Saudis with the Israelis and Condi’s meeting with the group of “moderate states” is confirming that the “Israeli-Sunni” alliance that many Israeli/Arab/American analysts are talking about is out of the closet.

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October 5th, 2006, 10:20 am

 

2. Trojan Horse said:

You guys must be kidding especially Nir Rosen when you say that Hizbollah is secular.

The sad reality is that Arabs including the Christians and many non Arabs don’t read.

Sheikh Naim Quasem, Number 2 in Hizbollah published a book in 2004 whose title is : Hizbollah the Story within. In it he mentioned clearly the basis of Hizbollah ideology that are:
-Islam as a way of life
-Resistance to Israel.
-The submission to the Jurist-Theologist decisions. In other words to Khamenei and to the ideas of Khomeini.

The first point puts clearly the non muslims at odds with Hizbollah.
The third point excludes the Sunni muslims and the Arabs over all since it submits them to a shiite Iranian autocratic power.
Both point one and three contradict the secular ideal to separate religion from power.

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October 5th, 2006, 11:24 am

 

3. Innocent_Criminal said:

Calling Hizballah secular is incorrect IMHO. BUT, and that’s a big BUT they are no more sectarian than ANY, let me stress this one, ANY other Lebanese political faction.

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October 5th, 2006, 12:50 pm

 

4. Idaf said:

TrueFacts and Trojan Horse…

My point exactly.. thank you for proving my analysis correct. The “Farsi threat” card you are playing will continue to be played by the “Israeli-Sunni” alliance. Read the Saudi regime financed media, the Egyptian and Jordanian regimes state run media and the Lebanese media financed by the 14 February people and you will hear this CD (as Ihsani likes to call it) over and over.. The Farsi threat to Arabs, the Iranian “atma3” in Arab land, the threat of mass conversion to Shiism.

Fear tactics (through social amplification of risk by the media) at its best. Fox news would be proud.

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October 5th, 2006, 1:52 pm

 

5. Ehsani2 said:

Dr. Landis,

The title of you note is:

“Is Hizbullah Secular?”

In order to answer that question, one need to revisit the exact meaning of the often used word “secular”.

Here is how the Oxford English Dictionary defines secularism:

“The doctrine that morality should be based solely on regard to the well-being of mankind in the present life, to the exclusion of all considerations drawn from belief in God or in a future state.”

Does Hizbullah fit the above definition?

If anyone thinks that it does, then the world’s true seculars need to find a new definition for their doctrine. To be fair to Hizbullah though, the above definition makes it very hard to include many of their foes also under this title as IC implied. Actually, if you study the above definition again, finding anyone who can qualify for this in the Arab world is not the easiest of tasks.

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October 5th, 2006, 3:46 pm

 

6. ivanka said:

A poll that would be interesting in connection with the question of how popular hezballa is in Lebanon is this one :

Lebanese call on government to quit over war

Clancy Chassay in Beirut
Wednesday October 4, 2006
The Guardian

The Lebanese government is facing pressure to resign over its handling of the war with Israel and the ensuing reconstruction effort, with almost seven out of 10 voters calling for early elections, according to a poll published yesterday.

The results come just over a week after the Hizbullah leader, Hassan Nasrallah, called for the dissolution of the government and the formation of a national unity regime, to the cheers of hundreds of thousands of Lebanese at a rally in Beirut’s southern suburbs.

The poll, published by the Beirut Centre for Research and Information, indicates that more than 70% of the country supports the formation of a new national unity government with 68% calling for early elections.

The article continues……

Paul Salem, director of the newly established Carnegie Middle East Centre in Beirut, said the credibility of Prime Minister Fuad Siniora’s government was dealt a heavy blow by what was commonly perceived as an American-sanctioned war. He said: “The main ally of the Siniora government was the Americans and they didn’t seek to end the war but in fact sought to prolong it.”

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October 5th, 2006, 4:45 pm

 

7. norman said:

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Once, while traveling in a taxi, I had an argument with the driver – a profession associated in Israel with extreme right-wing views. I tried in vain to convince him of the desirability of peace with the Arabs. In our country, which has never seen a single day of peace in the last hundred years, peace can seem like something out of science fiction.

Suddenly I had an inspiration. “When we have peace,” I said, “You can take your taxi in the morning and go to Damascus, have lunch there with real authentic Hummus and come back home in the evening.”

He jumped at the idea. “Wow,” he exclaimed, “If that happens, I shall take you with me for nothing!”

“And I shall treat you to lunch,” I responded.

He continued to dream. “If I could go to Damascus in my car, I could drive on from there all the way to Paris!”

Bashar Al-Assad has done it again. He has succeeded in confusing the Israeli government.

As long as he voices the ritual threat to liberate the Golan Heights by force, it does not upset anybody. After all, that only confirms what many want to hear: that there is no way to have peace with Syria, that sooner or later we shall have a war with them.

Why is that good? Simple: peace with Syria would mean giving back the Golan Heights (Syrian territory by any definition). No peace, no need to give them back.

But when Bashar starts to talk peace, we are in trouble. That is a sinister plot. It may, God forbid, create a situation that would compel us to return the territory.

Therefore, we should not even speak about it. The news must be buried in some remote corner of the papers and at the end of the news on TV, as just “another speech of Assad”. The government rejects them “on the threshold”, adding that it cannot even be discussed until…

Until what? Until he stops supporting Hizbullah. Until Syria expels the representatives of Hamas and the other Palestinian organizations. Until regime change takes place in Syria. Until a Western-style democracy is installed there. In short, until he registers as a member of the Zionist organization.

The relations between Israel and Syria have a documented history of at least 2859 years. In the year 853 B.C. Israel is mentioned – for the first time, it seems – in an authentic document outside the Bible. Twelve monarchs of the region, led by the kings of Damascus and Israel, united against the growing threat of Assyria, The decisive battle took place at Karkar (in the north of today’s Syria). According to an Assyrian document, 20 thousand soldiers and 1200 chariots of Damascus fought side by side with 10 thousand soldiers and 2000 chariots of Ahab, king of Israel. It is not quite clear which side won.

But that was a temporary alliance. For most of the time, Israel and Aram-Damascus fought against each other for regional supremacy. Ahab died a hero’s death in one of these wars against Aram, just two years after the battle against the Assyrians.

In modern times, the Syrians (although then still under French colonial rule) strenuously opposed the Zionist enterprise right from the beginning. But they also opposed the Palestinian national movement. That is grounded in history: in the Arabic language, the name al-Sham (“the North”), as Syria is called, includes the entire territory between Egypt and Turkey. Therefore, in Arab consciousness, not only Lebanon, but Jordan, Palestine and Israel as well are really part of Syria.

When Yasser Arafat created the independent Palestinian national movement at the end of the 1950s, the Syrians demanded to be acknowledged as the protectors of the Palestinian people. When he refused, the Syrians threw the entire Palestinian leadership into prison. (Only the wife of Abu Jihad, Intissar al-Wazir, remained at liberty and took over the command of the Fatah fighters – thus becoming the first woman in modern times to command an Arab fighting force.)

Naturally, all the enemies of Arafat found refuge in Damascus, and that is the original reason for the presence of some leaders of Hamas and other organizations there. They were more of a threat to the PLO than to Israel.

In the 1948 war, the Syrian army was the only Arab army that was not defeated. They continued to occupy some Israeli territory. Along this border, many incidents took place (mostly initiated by an officer by the name of Ariel Sharon). In the end, the Israeli army occupied the Golan Heights in the Six-day war, for the outbreak of which Syria bears some responsibility.

Since then, all the relations between Israel and Syria have been centered on this occupied territory. Its return is a paramount Syrian aim. Israel has applied Israeli law there (which, contrary to the accepted view, means less than annexation). Hafez al-Assad re-conquered it in the 1973 war, but in the end was pushed back to the approaches of Damascus. Since then, the Syrians have been trying to harass Israel mostly by means of Hizbullah.

Once upon a time, the idea of an “Eastern Front” – a coordinated attack by Jordan, Syria and Iraq – used to cause nightmares in Israel. The prophecy of Jeremiah (1, 14), “Out of the north an evil shall break forth upon all the inhabitants of the land”, echoed through the war-rooms of the army High Command. Since then we have made peace with Jordan, Iraq has been blown to smithereens by the Americans, with the enthusiastic support of Israel and its American lobby. But the Syrians are still considered a menace, because they are allied with Iran and connected with Hizbullah.

Is it worthwhile for us to live in this situation in order to keep the Golan Heights? Common sense says no. If we reach a peace agreement with Syria, it will automatically entail an agreement with Hizbullah, too. Without Syrian consent, Hizbullah cannot keep an efficient military force, since practically all Hizbullah’s arms have to come from Syria or pass through Syria. Without Syrian support, Hizbullah will become a purely Lebanese party and cease to constitute a threat to us.

Moreover, Syria is a thoroughly secular country. When the Muslim Brotherhood rebelled against Assad Sr, he drowned them in blood. Also, the great majority of Syrians are Sunni. When Syria makes peace with Israel, it will have no reason to remain allied with the fanatical Shiite Iran.

So why don’t we make peace with Syria?

At this time, there are two reasons: the one domestic, the other foreign.

The domestic reason is the existence of 20 thousand settlers on the Golan Heights, who are far more popular than the West Bank settlers. They are not religious fanatics, and their settlements were set up under the auspices of the Labor Party. All Israeli governments have been afraid to touch them.

That is the real reason for the failure of all the attempts to negotiate with Syria. Yitzhak Rabin thought about it and drew back. He argued that we should first of all concentrate on settling the Palestinian issue. Ehud Barak almost came to an agreement with Syria, but escaped at the last moment. The only question that remained open was almost ludicrous: should the Syrians reach the shoreline of the Sea of Tiberias (the situation prevailing before the Six-day war) or stay at a distance of a few dozen meters (according to the border fixed between the British, then ruling Palestine, and the French, then ruling Syria). In popular parlance: will Assad dangle his long feet in the water of the lake? For Assad Sr. that was a question of honor.

Is it worthwhile to risk for this the lives of thousands of Israelis and Syrians, who may die in another war?

Until Israel has a government ready to answer this question and to confront the settlers, there will be no agreement with Syria.

The second reason for rejecting peace with Syria is connected with the United States. Syria belongs to George Bush’s “axis of evil”. The American president doesn’t give a damn for the long-range interests of Israel, what is important to him is to achieve some sort of victory in the Middle East. The destruction of the Syrian regime (“a victory for democracy”) will compensate him for the Iraq fiasco.

No Israeli government – and certainly not that of Olmert – would dare to disobey the American president. Therefore, it is self-evident that all peace feelers from Assad will be rejected “on the threshold”. Tsipi Livni, who last week opened a new front against Olmert and presented herself almost as a peace-lover, opposes the start of negotiations with Syria as well.

This affair throws some light on the complex relations between Israel and the United States: who is wagging who – does the dog wag its tail or the tail its dog?

Olmert says that we must ignore Assad’s peace offers, because we must not help him to escape Bush’s wrath. Let’s dwell on this utterance for a moment.

An Israeli patriot would, of course, have said exactly the opposite: If Assad is ready to make peace with us – even if only because he is afraid of the Americans – we should jump at this opportunity and exploit this situation to achieve at long last peace on our northern front.

Last week Olmert made a remarkable declaration: “As long as I am Prime Minister, we shall not give up the Golan for all eternity!” What does that mean? Either Olmert believes that his term of office coincides with God’s term of office, and he will rule in eternity – or in Olmert’s world, eternity extends to four years, at most.

Anyhow, until then, my taxi-driver and I shall have to wait for our lunch in Damascus.

Source:

by courtesy & © 2006 Uri Avnery

MMN Recommended is interesting and worth reading,

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October 5th, 2006, 5:40 pm

 

8. ausamaa said:

James Baker

It is somewhat nice to see him around. After all, he was the true engineer of the Madrid Conference. He started realising the dammage the Arab/Israeli confrontation was having on US interests in the area before Bush the first was even inagurated itno office (see profile in Time Magazine back in 1989 I think after Bush was elected).

By the looks of it, the Father is Fed up with Son. Texas oil money, and all the powers that might be have realised that Bush Jr. needs some assistance to get him and the US out of the mess the neo-con contrl over this administratoin. I think Texas Oil old money is trying to do a quick damage control excercise. Elections are up, the moderate Arab regimes may be feeling some jitters and are not as solid as used to be, the whole seen including the agressive and successfull entry of Russia and China are successful advances on the US Oil monopoly. The war on terror is a distaster annd is backfiring and is taking its toll on the standing of the US worldwide. Allies are becoming liabelities, time to cut things back to size or see all go up in smoke. In a word, things do not look good. And Bush Jr. does not seem capable of taming and of getting a grip on the neocons on his own. So, who better to come to the rescue than Daddy, his old buddies and Texas money. So someone needs to knock some sence into some ones elses head, and Daddy is trying. A small indicator could be Laura Bush recent appearence with Clinton at some event. After all, we are talking about US national intersets, and such interests and policies can not be left to “half man” with “half brains” with basically an Foriegn agenda that runs counter to basic and long terms intersts of the US worldwide. War on teror, Clean Braek and visions from God or not, notwithstanding. A matter of cutting losses and trying to get things back on a sensible track.

Mr. James Baker, he is Uthant by any means, but Welcome.

I hope I am right. Otherwise……

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October 5th, 2006, 6:40 pm

 

9. ivanka said:

Norman I really enjoyed the article you posted. Thank you.

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October 5th, 2006, 7:52 pm

 

10. ausamaa said:

The Golan Hights have no strategic imortance to Isreal in military terms. This is a well known and an established fact even by Israeli military analysists. Not when Syrian rockests can reach Tel Aviv in 5 minutes, patriots deployed or not, and not when Syrians -government and people- are willing to bear the cost for such a confrontation which many belive is now being considered as a possible alternaitve which has been on the Syrian General Staff drawing board for a while now (according to Israeli Intelligence sources at least). And why not??? Remember 1973. Did any one expect what happend? And never mind the stuff we are bieng fed day-in-day-out that there could be no war without Egypt (one just took place last July with Syria’s approval and against Egyptian ans Saudi wishes to say the least). And always remember. Syria is the real culprit Lebanon, not Iran. Since the days of Fateh Land. Especially when it gets to Pan-Arab National Issues. THe decision is puerly Syrian in the end. With Iranian or other agreement, of course, but in the end its Syrian. Do not kid yourself. The Rockets, that landed in Israel, could not have come from anyother place, so does the rest of the stuff and training….etc, you can guess. The bulk effort I mean.

When things seem to be heating up, one should expect the unexpected. Wars are strategic surprises- remember! the Syrian Armed Forces, rusted or not, can once again slice into the Golan and reach Tibreis (as it did in 1973 before Israel switched its forces from Sinai in the second week of October 1973). That is why Sadat was depicted either as a military genius or as a “Kissinger collaberortor” who was “convinced” to slow down his Armies in Sini based on someone’s advice so that Isreal can divert the thrust of its forces to its Northern Front at a time when its positions in the Golan were undergoing the trumatic consequences and possible collapse at the hands of the determined Syrian attack. Mount Hermon was occupoied by Syrian and PLA Paratroopers in six hours ( incidently one can not lightly dismiss the amount of fire power direct at all strategic IDF Radar C4I installations like Hare Dove, Safad HQ, Mount Meron and others in both Isreal and the Golan during July) . Israeli planes falling like dead flies all over the battle field. Captured Isreali Soldiers and Commanders on Syrian TV. And no advanve warning despite King Hussien’s gallant attepmt to inform the Israelis about in an honest effort maybe to earm his pay. That is Strategic Surprise, and thst is as a Strategic Victory as they come. So, it has happened before, why exclude the option now…

Apart from that, militarily, regaining the Golan alone is not a Military issue. And clinging to it by Israel is a theatrical and bargaining move.Its an Israeli gambling card to squeeze the unsqeezable Syria on various regional Issues. Especially in this age, where simple Syrian one-stage conventional rockets can slice Isreal into two-halfs before Israel knows it. And Israel can shove its nuclear arsenal up its inner parts because it can afford to use it, and because, fearsay, tells us that Syrai has reched an advanced stage in the development of a detterent C&B capabilities. Let alone conventional missile power -even Katyshas- the effect of which on Isreali society you can ask both Sayed Hassan Nassrallah, or cthe IDF for details. Syria, on its part, can absorb the devastating human, economic and military casualities of such a confrontation while Isreal can not. And the staying power of the Syrian people, is much higher than that of the “spoiled” Isreaeli society should things take some times to reach an end. Hardships; Syria is more well placed to withstand those than Isreal. At least its citizens do not have as many dule nationalities as Israelies do. They have only Syria. To win or to loose. And such things make a difference.

So the question is not trully the Golan or the ten meteres alongside Tibreis lack. Its simply geoploitical “spheres of influence”. Its Damascuse insistance on Full Arab Rifhts. Bashar will reject agreeing to a 100% withdrawl from Golan uless the Palestinian, Jreuslaem, and the geoplopolitical balance of power is clearly defined. Including Jordan’s future status. Not Lebanon; that is a foregone conclusion, but Jordan. IF Assad was going after the Golan Hights only, he could have gotten it back years earlier with a salute and a welcomed peace treaty from Israel. Again, its the “spheres of influence” thing. They offered Assad the Golan less a 10 meters strip around the Tibries lack and he said NO. People tend to overlook this fact. THe issues are: Who controls what? What would happen to Jordan should Isreal decide to follow its policy of “Jordan ss the ultimate answer to the Palestinan problem”? What about Palestinan aspirations? Jeruslaim? The Refugees? etc…The National and Transininotial Issues in summary is what is at stake!

And to be fully transparent, the isuue goes much further!!!! Does Isreal consider the achievement of a real peace in the area as an added value to its existance. I do not think so; this reduces it to an “also ran” i the area which is not how it sees its dominant role. Then, and in geopolitical terms; what is the value of an invalide, costly and peacefull-loving Isreali ally to the US/WESTERN intersts in the area. ???????? So, to Isreal; without Wars, and Wars that can be won, where do is it fit in the globale geoplitical equation? Never mind the stuff about Isreal being a democratic state -which it is not- and never mind the exaggerated feelings of guilt by the west towards the Holocost victims. This is all a PR justification and cover up to the killings of millions in Japan and Germany (since when was Jewish blood so dear to Wesrten culture). The world “deals” are about realpolitic, not past favors, not gratitude for services rendered, after all the powers that might be are not a charitable get together congregation..
.
If in doubt, check how things snowballed for the US/The West in South Africa, Iran, and even the banana republics, and with Marcos in the Philippines if you wanna head east.. It is writing on the wall foe=r who can see and learn

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October 5th, 2006, 9:35 pm

 

11. Ehsani2 said:

Dr. Landis,

The conventional thinking has been that Syria has made clever bets evidenced by its support of Hamas, that ended up winning its elections, and later Hizbollah that was able to stand to Israel’s military might.

With the wind behind its back following such successful moves, one would have expected Syria to play hard to please hence allowing it to extract the most it can out of a possible future deal with Israel.

Yet, what we see is unprecedented advances towards the State of Israel to nudge it towards a peace deal. Indeed, I don’t ever recall a time when our country has appeared to almost beg for a deal as it does today. Presumably, as the country gives such an appearance of desperately seeking a deal, it is a good bet that terms of such a deal would not be too advantageous for the Syria.

It seems to me that there is a divergence between our so-called recent wins column and the almost simultaneous signals to Israel that we are very keen to sign a deal with it.

Hafez Assad was known to champion the idea that one does not sit at a negotiating table with an adversary unless he can match the other party in strength.

Clearly, the current leadership appears to have gone all out to seek a deal.

Is this a sign of recent strength or it is a sign of fear of what the near future holds instead?

I would appreciate it if you could shed some light on this issue.

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October 6th, 2006, 12:17 am

 

12. ausamaa said:

True_Facts

I hate to listen to your gibbrish. Hizbullah and Amal and the Sunni current Opposition, and to them Aoun represent more than 75% of Lebanon. They are the true power in Lebanon. And prepare your self to live with this fact. France, and the US will dump you in a second once they sort out things with Syria, and that The woman you met on the plane needs to do a lot ok KILLINGS (of which you seem to have a passion)if she wants to achieve what she wants. Unfortunately, the days when she and her likes could employee -and abuse-the people and females of southern Lebanon as housmaids at 30 liras per month are gone, now is the time when Shieats are the power brokers in Labanon. With thier allies, they are the king makers. They paid for it by thier blood while your likes were kissing someones ass in the Gulf or polishing apples to others else where.

Cut the B.S out. I am sorry for being blunt and crude, but elli bediq el bab, be yesmaa el jawab….!

Lebanon is ARAB, the Lebanese and the Syrians will work it out to your dismay sooner or later, only if because every onelse will leave “your” type of Lebanese Dreamers high and dry sooner or later. Bashar and his regime seem to be regaining the momentum. The crimes and financial mishapes you accuse the Syrians of committing, pale in comparison to what the Lebanese -aided or unaided by various forces at different times- have committed against thier own country men and woman since indepence.

And FYI, and I would seriously worry about it if I was in your camp, your problem now seems to be not with the Syrian government, but with the “Syrian people” who will not forgive what they seen at the hands of your likes. Actually, this bothers me a lot, but let the one who brought it upon themselves and let the mob Lebanese street which participated in such miserable and despicable acts against Syria, pay for the cost of what they have committed.

And if I was a lebanese with any degree of common sense, I will either mend fences with Hizbullah and its Allies, or get lost. Farnce is a good destination, since you do not like Arabs and Arabisem whose employement of hundreds of Lebanese enabled Lebanon to survive and prosper for years. You can not eat out of the hands of Arabism and Islam be it through Syria, Saudi, Kuwait, Qatar and the UAE and then turn around to attack the “bad Arabs and Muslims”, unless you are a lebanese of the few Lebanon is unfortunate to have.

Your hatered will get you no where, and the majority and plural authority which was a fact of life in Lebanon for decades shall soon to cease to exist. So try to adapt, open your mind and your heart to others, and realise the tunes your are still whistling belong to days gone by in the sixties or early seventies…. and they aint coming back.

Tai’if was step one, the July 2006 war was step 2, and the coming parlimentary elections will be step 3, then bye bye good old “unique” Lebanon……and never mind the Phonicians’ myth, that was a long while ago…..if you have not noticed yet. Your part of this unfortunate area, learn to live with it. And it begins with saying Sabah El Khair, or even Good Morning, rather than your superficial “bone jour” or whatever act.

And to get you worked up more, do not forget to notice that the Syrians next door seem intent on staying next to you forever, all twenty millions of them, and they are multiplying faster than you like , so are the Lebanese Shiae, so ar the Aounies, the Arslans, the Franjiahs and Karamis and the half million Palestinians your stuck with. Do a one +One equal …. and the mathematics are clear and simple. So is the future.

Your Arab Future.

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October 6th, 2006, 12:48 am

 

13. ausamaa said:

True_Facts

I hate to listen to your gibbrish. Hizbullah and Amal and the Sunni current Opposition, and to them Aoun represent more than 75% of Lebanon. They are the true power in Lebanon. And prepare your self to live with this fact. France, and the US will dump you in a second once they sort out things with Syria, and that The woman you met on the plane needs to do a lot ok KILLINGS (of which you seem to have a passion)if she wants to achieve what she wants. Unfortunately, the days when she and her likes could employee -and abuse-the people and females of southern Lebanon as housmaids at 30 liras per month are gone, now is the time when Shieats are the power brokers in Labanon. With thier allies, they are the king makers. They paid for it by thier blood while your likes were kissing someones ass in the Gulf or polishing apples to others else where.

Cut the B.S out. I am sorry for being blunt and crude, but elli bediq el bab, be yesmaa el jawab….!

Lebanon is ARAB, the Lebanese and the Syrians will work it out to your dismay sooner or later, only if because every onelse will leave “your” type of Lebanese Dreamers high and dry sooner or later. Bashar and his regime seem to be regaining the momentum. The crimes and financial mishapes you accuse the Syrians of committing, pale in comparison to what the Lebanese -aided or unaided by various forces at different times- have committed against thier own country men and woman since indepence.

And FYI, and I would seriously worry about it if I was in your camp, your problem now seems to be not with the Syrian government, but with the “Syrian people” who will not forgive what they seen at the hands of your likes. Actually, this bothers me a lot, but let the one who brought it upon themselves and let the mob Lebanese street which participated in such miserable and despicable acts against Syria, pay for the cost of what they have committed.

And if I was a lebanese with any degree of common sense, I will either mend fences with Hizbullah and its Allies, or get lost. Farnce is a good destination, since you do not like Arabs and Arabisem whose employement of hundreds of Lebanese enabled Lebanon to survive and prosper for years. You can not eat out of the hands of Arabism and Islam be it through Syria, Saudi, Kuwait, Qatar and the UAE and then turn around to attack the “bad Arabs and Muslims”, unless you are a lebanese of the few Lebanon is unfortunate to have.

Your hatered will get you no where, and the majority and plural authority which was a fact of life in Lebanon for decades shall soon to cease to exist. So try to adapt, open your mind and your heart to others, and realise the tunes your are still whistling belong to days gone by in the sixties or early seventies…. and they aint coming back.

Tai’if was step one, the July 2006 war was step 2, and the coming parlimentary elections will be step 3, then bye bye good old “unique” Lebanon……and never mind the Phonicians’ myth, that was a long while ago…..if you have not noticed yet. Your part of this unfortunate area, learn to live with it. And it begins with saying Sabah El Khair, or even Good Morning, rather than your superficial “bone jour” or whatever act.

And to get you worked up more, do not forget to notice that the Syrians next door seem intent on staying next to you forever, all twenty millions of them, and they are multiplying faster than you like , so are the Lebanese Shiae, so ar the Aounies, the Arslans, the Franjiahs and Karamis and the half million Palestinians your stuck with. Do a one +One equal …. and the mathematics are clear and simple. So is the future.

Your Arab Future.

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October 6th, 2006, 12:48 am

 

14. ausamaa said:

True_Facts

I really hate to listen to your gibbrish. Hizbullah and Amal and the Sunni current Opposition, add to them Aoun and many others represent more than 75% of Lebanon. They are the true power in Lebanon. Prepare your self to live with this fact. France,the US, and the fifty German boats off your coast will dump you in a second once they sort out things with Syria.

And that woman you met on the plane needs to do a lot ok KILLINGS (for which you seem to share a similar passion)if she wants to achieve what she wants ( a proud example of the democratic expression you seek for your Syrians.) Problem is, that this time the selection of the victims will be more difficult; not easy to kill based on religion stated in the ID card as you did in the seventies and eighties, because the lines are blurred now.So, for your likes, even the act of killing will be harder. Moreover, the statistics are not in your or her favoure. Unfortunately for your likes, the days when she, you and her likes could employee -and abuse-the people and females of southern Lebanon as housmaids at 30 liras per month are gone (remember), now is the time when Shieats are the power brokers in Labanon. With thier allies, they are the king makers. They paid for it by thier blood while your likes were kissing someones ass in Europe or the Gulf and polishing apples to them and to others else where to make a quick buck.

Wake up. Cut the B.S out. I am sorry for being blunt and crude, but “elli bediq el bab, beyesmaa el jawab….!” And you do need to hear it loud and clear. And I think you been hearing it, that is why you are acting so gross.

Lebanon is ARAB, the Lebanese and the Syrians will work it out to your dismay sooner or later, only if because every onelse will leave “your” type of Lebanese fanaseen high and dry sooner or later. Bashar and his regime seem to be regaining the momentum. And staying, they are. If only because they have cretics like you. The crimes and financial mishapes you accuse the Syrians of committing, pale in comparison to what the Lebanese have committed against thier own country men and woman since indepence.

And FYI, and I would seriously worry about it if I was in your camp, your problem now seems to be not with the Syrian government, but with the “Syrian people” who will not forgive what they seen at the hands of “your likes”. Actually, this bothers me a lot, but let the ones who brought it upon themselves and let the mob Lebanese street which participated in such miserable and despicable acts against Syria and Syrians, pay for the cost of what they have done as a people. I hate to say it, but Lebanon shall pay a heavy price for what was done by few or many Lebanese idiots.

Never mind Syria and Syrians. Look inside, at least. And if I was a lebanese of your type with any degree of common sense, I will either mend fences with Hizbullah and its Allies, or get lost. Farnce is a good destination, since you do not like Arabs and Arabisem whose employement of hundreds of Lebanese enabled Lebanon to survive and prosper for years. You can not eat out of the hands of Arabism and Islam be it through Syria, Saudi, Kuwait, Qatar and the UAE and then turn around to attack the “bad Arabs and Muslims”, unless you are one of the few lebanese, Lebanon is unfortunate to have.

Your hatered will get you no where, and the majority and plural authority which was a fact of life in Lebanon for decades shall soon to cease to exist. So try to adapt, open your mind and your heart to others, and realise the tunes your are still whistling belong to days gone by in the sixties or early seventies…. and they aint coming back.

Tai’if was step one, the July 2006 war was step 2, and the coming parlimentary elections will be step 3, then bye bye good old “unique” Lebanon……and never mind the Phonicians’ myth, that was a long while ago…..if you have not noticed yet. Your part of this unfortunate area, learn to live with it. And it begins with saying Sabah El Khair, or even Good Morning, rather than your transparent and superficial “bon jour” or whatever Trade Marks your likes have become known for through out the world.

And to get you worked up more, do not forget to notice that the Syrians next door seem intent on staying next to you forever, all twenty millions of them, and they are multiplying faster than you like , so are the Lebanese Shiae, so ar the Aounies, the Arslans, the Franjiahs and Karamis and the half million Palestinians your stuck with. Do a one +One equal …. and the mathematics are clear and simple. So is the future. That if only solid numbers, not logic and patriot reasoning, can make you see the light. And the Arab present and Future to which you belong. Like it or not.

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October 6th, 2006, 1:08 am

 

15. True_Facts said:

Aussamaa
You gave me a good laugh at your stupidity!

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October 6th, 2006, 7:44 pm

 

16. ausamaa said:

TRUE_FACTS

Do not mention it…

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October 6th, 2006, 9:16 pm

 

17. Sean said:

Just a quick comment for NORMAN,
you mentioned that Al-Sham, which refers to natural syria, means The North. Thats not correct. sham is derived from Sam son of Noah. At least I know for sure that in Arabic it does not mean North.. North is Shamal.
Thanks.

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October 8th, 2006, 4:09 am

 

18. Bashar said:

BBC reported that the Iraqi predisent is supportive of the Americans seeking help from Syria-Iran to reolve the violence in Iraq. I’m not sure to what point would the Americans play this game, but if they do so, Syria+Iran would find themselves in a very strong bargainaing position.

BBC: Talabani backs ‘Iran-Syria plan’

Mr Talabani said no-one would “pull out quickly”

Violence in Iraq could end “within months” if Iran and Syria joined efforts to stabilise the country, says Iraqi President Jalal Talabani.
He told the BBC the move would “be the beginning of the end of terrorism”.

The idea for the US to open talks with Iran and Syria over Iraq is said to be under consideration by a panel of experts examining US policy on Iraq.

The panel, led by a former US secretary of state, is also said to think that “staying the course” is untenable.

I am sure no-one will decide to pull out quickly in Iraq

However, Mr Talabani said was not worried by reports that James Baker’s panel may recommend an early – or phased – withdrawal of coalition troops from Iraq.

“I’m sure that no-one will decide to pull out quickly in Iraq,” he told the BBC’s Jim Muir.

‘Alternative approach’

Mr Baker’s commission, which is due to report in the next few months, is reportedly considering recommending significant changes.

US casualties are increasing the political pressure for change

The task force, which was asked by the US Congress to examine the effectiveness of American policy in Iraq, has reportedly been looking at the two options – a possible phased withdrawal of troops and involvement of Iran and Syria.

Mr Baker, who was secretary of state under President George Bush, the current president’s father, has so far stressed that the panel has not come to a definitive conclusion.

But he has indicated the direction of the panel’s thinking in recent television interviews.

“Our commission believes that there are alternatives between the stated alternatives, the ones that are out there in the political debate of ‘stay the course’ and ‘cut and run,'” he told ABC News recently.

Dividing Iraq into three pieces will only prolong the chaos and bloodshed in the area.

Gokhan, Istanbul, Turkey

Should Iraq be split in three?

In a separate development British Prime Minister Tony Blair said that British forces will not “walk away” from Iraq or Afghanistan until their job there is done.

Referring to Mr Baker’s report, Mr Blair said he would be “absolutely astonished” if it set out plans to “get out of Iraq come what may”.

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/americas/6060544.stm

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October 18th, 2006, 12:50 pm

 

19. ma7kama dawleya said:

please i think sirya make good deel with the cia
and i think Mr bashar its very smart to make this end for he self and i think its good now to make plain to kill Mr nussralla a soon take care Mr bashar i didnt see any siryan claver befor in all my life

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November 30th, 2006, 7:15 am

 

20. farman haider rizvi said:

salam ya hussain……………………also hizbullah

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July 5th, 2008, 4:00 pm

 

21. Alex said:

Ehsani,

I know that my name is not Joshua, but I will try to answer the question you posed to him earlier

http://joshualandis.com/blog/?p=49#comment-184

Late president Hafez Assad was called The man who waited too long

Most observers agreed he was a brilliant negotiator. But when he passed away many also realized that he did not live to see the Golan back under Syrian control.

The fact is, Syria was ready for peace with Israel (based on UN resolution 242) since 1991. There is nothing to gain by waiting any longer… Privately, western leaders KNOW that Syria is very strong. No one except the most delusional ones (who are still living to see the Hariri tribunal or waiting for Khaddam’s revolution), is interpreting Syria’s calls for peace as being a reflection of Syria’s weakness.

I was very disappointed when Bashar called for unconditional negotiations with Israel in 2004 and in 2005 … the days when Syria was indeed perceived as being very weak and Bashar’s repeated call for peace was interpreted in Israel and elsewhere as “begging Israel to save him”.

But this is not the case today. There is no need to wait and to excessively play hard to get… Syria needs to balance its tough positions of the past few years … remember that despite all the sweet talk, Syria did not move an inch on any serious issue.

The process has a 50/50 chances of success … But if it works out, you will not be disappointed.

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July 5th, 2008, 5:34 pm

 

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