Israeli Strike on Syria: A Message for Syria? … A Message for Iran?

Posted by Alex

Addendum: See Gideon Lichfield's new blog, http://fugitivepeace.com, for good analysis of both the Sunday Times and Newsweek articles copied below. He is the Jerusalem correspondent for the Economist.

Israelis ‘blew apart Syrian nuclear cache’
Secret raid on Korean shipment

THE SUNDAY TIMES 

Uzi Mahnaimi in Tel Aviv, Sarah Baxter in Washington and Michael Sheridan

IT was just after midnight when the 69th Squadron of Israeli F15Is crossed the Syrian coast-line. On the ground, Syria’s formidable air defences went dead. An audacious raid on a Syrian target 50 miles from the Iraqi border was under way.

At a rendezvous point on the ground, a Shaldag air force commando team was waiting to direct their laser beams at the target for the approaching jets. The team had arrived a day earlier, taking up position near a large underground depot. Soon the bunkers were in flames.

Ten days after the jets reached home, their mission was the focus of intense speculation this weekend amid claims that Israel believed it had destroyed a cache of nuclear materials from North Korea.

The Israeli government was not saying. “The security sources and IDF [Israeli Defence Forces] soldiers are demonstrating unusual courage,” said Ehud Olmert, the prime minister. “We naturally cannot always show the public our cards.”

The Syrians were also keeping mum. “I cannot reveal the details,” said Farouk al-Sharaa, the vice-president. “All I can say is the military and political echelon is looking into a series of responses as we speak. Results are forthcoming.” The official story that the target comprised weapons destined for Hezbollah, the Iranian-backed Lebanese Shi’ite group, appeared to be crumbling in the face of widespread scepticism.

Andrew Semmel, a senior US State Department official, said Syria might have obtained nuclear equipment from “secret suppliers”, and added that there were a “number of foreign technicians” in the country.

Asked if they could be North Korean, he replied: “There are North Korean people there. There’s no question about that.” He said a network run by AQ Khan, the disgraced creator of Pakistan’s nuclear weapons, could be involved.

But why would nuclear material be in Syria? Known to have chemical weapons, was it seeking to bolster its arsenal with something even more deadly?

Alternatively, could it be hiding equipment for North Korea, enabling Kim Jong-il to pretend to be giving up his nuclear programme in exchange for economic aid? Or was the material bound for Iran, as some authorities in America suggest?

According to Israeli sources, preparations for the attack had been going on since late spring, when Meir Dagan, the head of Mossad, presented Olmert with evidence that Syria was seeking to buy a nuclear device from North Korea.

The Israeli spy chief apparently feared such a device could eventually be installed on North-Korean-made Scud-C missiles.

“This was supposed to be a devastating Syrian surprise for Israel,” said an Israeli source. “We’ve known for a long time that Syria has deadly chemical warheads on its Scuds, but Israel can’t live with a nuclear warhead.”

An expert on the Middle East, who has spoken to Israeli participants in the raid, told yesterday’s Washington Post that the timing of the raid on September 6 appeared to be linked to the arrival three days earlier of a ship carrying North Korean material labelled as cement but suspected of concealing nuclear equipment.

The target was identified as a northern Syrian facility that purported to be an agricultural research centre on the Euphrates river. Israel had been monitoring it for some time, concerned that it was being used to extract uranium from phosphates.

According to an Israeli air force source, the Israeli satellite Ofek 7, launched in June, was diverted from Iran to Syria. It sent out high-quality images of a northeastern area every 90 minutes, making it easy for air force specialists to spot the facility.

Early in the summer Ehud Barak, the defence minister, had given the order to double Israeli forces on its Golan Heights border with Syria in anticipation of possible retaliation by Damascus in the event of air strikes.

Sergei Kirpichenko, the Russian ambassador to Syria, warned President Bashar al-Assad last month that Israel was planning an attack, but suggested the target was the Golan Heights.

Israeli military intelligence sources claim Syrian special forces moved towards the Israeli outpost of Mount Hermon on the Golan Heights. Tension rose, but nobody knew why.

At this point, Barak feared events could spiral out of control. The decision was taken to reduce the number of Israeli troops on the Golan Heights and tell Damascus the tension was over. Syria relaxed its guard shortly before the Israeli Defence Forces struck.

Only three Israeli cabinet ministers are said to have been in the know – Olmert, Barak and Tzipi Livni, the foreign minister. America was also consulted. According to Israeli sources, American air force codes were given to the Israeli air force attaché in Washington to ensure Israel’s F15Is would not mistakenly attack their US counterparts.

Once the mission was under way, Israel imposed draconian military censorship and no news of the operation emerged until Syria complained that Israeli aircraft had violated its airspace. Syria claimed its air defences had engaged the planes, forcing them to drop fuel tanks to lighten their loads as they fled.

But intelligence sources suggested it was a highly successful Israeli raid on nuclear material supplied by North Korea.

Washington was rife with speculation last week about the precise nature of the operation. One source said the air strikes were a diversion for a daring Israeli commando raid, in which nuclear materials were intercepted en route to Iran and hauled to Israel. Others claimed they were destroyed in the attack.

There is no doubt, however, that North Korea is accused of nuclear cooperation with Syria, helped by AQ Khan’s network. John Bolton, who was undersecretary for arms control at the State Department, told the United Nations in 2004 the Pakistani nuclear scientist had “several other” customers besides Iran, Libya and North Korea.

Some of his evidence came from the CIA, which had reported to Congress that it viewed “Syrian nuclear intentions with growing concern”.

“I’ve been worried for some time about North Korea and Iran outsourcing their nuclear programmes,” Bolton said last week. Syria, he added, was a member of a “junior axis of evil”, with a well-established ambition to develop weapons of mass destruction.

The links between Syria and North Korea date back to the rule of Kim Il-sung and President Hafez al-Assad in the last century. In recent months, their sons have quietly ordered an increase in military and technical cooperation.

Foreign diplomats who follow North Korean affairs are taking note. There were reports of Syrian passengers on flights from Beijing to Pyongyang and sightings of Middle Eastern businessmen from sources who watch the trains from North Korea to China.

On August 14, Rim Kyong Man, the North Korean foreign trade minister, was in Syria to sign a protocol on “cooperation in trade and science and technology”. No details were released, but it caught Israel’s attention.

Syria possesses between 60 and 120 Scud-C missiles, which it has bought from North Korea over the past 15 years. Diplomats believe North Korean engineers have been working on extending their 300-mile range. It means they can be used in the deserts of northeastern Syria – the area of the Israeli strike.

The triangular relationship between North Korea, Syria and Iran continues to perplex intelligence analysts. Syria served as a conduit for the transport to Iran of an estimated £50m of missile components and technology sent by sea from North Korea. The same route may be in use for nuclear equipment.

But North Korea is at a sensitive stage of negotiations to end its nuclear programme in exchange for security guarantees and aid, leading some diplomats to cast doubt on the likelihood that Kim would cross America’s “red line” forbidding the proliferation of nuclear materials.

Christopher Hill, the State Department official representing America in the talks, said on Friday he could not confirm “intelligence-type things”, but the reports underscored the need “to make sure the North Koreans get out of the nuclear business”.

By its actions, Israel showed it is not interested in waiting for diplomacy to work where nuclear weapons are at stake.

As a bonus, the Israelis proved they could penetrate the Syrian air defence system, which is stronger than the one protecting Iranian nuclear sites.

This weekend President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad of Iran sent Ali Akbar Mehrabian, his nephew, to Syria to assess the damage. The new “axis of evil” may have lost one of its spokes.

 

Israel’s Syria Raid: A Message for Iran
Israel sends Iran a signal with a stealth raid into Syria.
By Dan Ephron and Mark Hosenball
Newsweek

Sept. 24, 2007 issue – Few things motivate arab spokesmen more than the chance to condemn Israel. Yet they were subdued when Israeli warplanes flew deep into Syrian airspace earlier this month. The Arab League called the incursion "unacceptable," but most Mideast governments kept quiet. Their lack of support for Damascus has much to do with Syria's close relationship to Iran, whose rising power they fear. But some Israeli officials and analysts are reading it optimistically, perhaps dangerously so. "You can learn something from it as to how the Arab world might react to an Israeli or American attack against strategic targets in Iran," says Yossi Alpher, a former Israeli intelligence official.

Whatever the Israeli planes were doing in Syria, Iran's nuclear program—which Tehran says is peaceful—couldn't help but loom over their mission. "It's a tacit reminder to Europe and to Washington that if they don't take a tougher action against Iran, Israel may have to do it alone," says Avner Cohen, a nuclear expert and a senior fellow at the United States Institute for Peace. Details of the Israeli operation remain hazy. Syria's ambassador to the United States told NEWSWEEK the Israeli warplanes dropped munitions in the open desert near Dayr az Zawr before fleeing; he promised his country would retaliate in a manner and at a time of its choosing. "Israel will not be permitted to do whatever it does without paying a price," says Imad Moustapha. But the unparalleled censorship Israel clamped on the operation has fueled speculation that the target could have been a missile factory or nuclear technology from North Korea. (Some U.S. intelligence sources say the latter claim is shaky.) The story of the Israeli operation appears to have begun with aerial photographs shot from a spy plane or satellite. A former U.S. official, who asked for anonymity to discuss sensitive matters, told NEWSWEEK that Israel showed the images of a site in northern Syria to a very small group of officials in Washington last month, suggesting it was part of a nuclear project underway with North Korean involvement. Bush administration neocons have long contended that Damascus was trying to buy nuclear material and that Pyongyang, alleged to have been selling missiles to Syria and Iran since the 1990s, could be a potential supplier. When North Korea issued an unusually loud condemnation of Israel last week, hard-liners like former U.N. ambassador John Bolton read it as possible evidence of Pyongyang's involvement in the matter.

But current and former U.S. intelligence officials, willing to speak only if they were not named, say they've seen no credible evidence yet of nuclear ties between North Korea and Syria, whether before or since the Israeli operation. David Albright, a former weapons inspector in Iraq, says allegations raised by Bolton prompted the International Atomic Energy Agency to inspect Syria's small nuclear research reactor and other sites in 2003. He says the agency found the claims to be "unsubstantiated." Even Bolton, who served as the State Department's under secretary for arms control and international security, acknowledged to NEWSWEEK that while in government, he never saw proof North Korea was sharing nuclear technology with Syria.

For Israel, the possibility of a nuclear-armed adversary might have been enough to warrant the operation. Officially in a state of war with Syria—and Iran—Israel has vowed to let neither country obtain nukes (though Israel itself is believed to have built at least 200 nuclear bombs in its secret Dimona plant). Earlier this year, according to a well-placed Israeli source, Prime Minister Ehud Olmert asked President Bush for assurances that if economic and political sanctions failed to get Iran to shut down its nuclear facilities, Bush would order the U.S. military to destroy them before he leaves office. Bush has yet to provide the assurances, according to the source, who refused to be quoted because he is not authorized to speak for the government. The source says the Israeli government believes the Iranians will reach the point of no return in their nuclear-enrichment program sometime next year.

U.S. intelligence agencies, by contrast, believe Iran is still two to eight years away from mastering the technology to build a bomb. Some officials warn that attacking Iran would mire U.S. forces in another messy war and might prove ineffective, since the Iranian facilities are believed to be scattered across the country and buried deep underground. Still, from Israel's perspective, there might never be a more supportive White House. "It makes sense that if Israel has to do it alone, it would want to do it on Bush's watch and not wait to see what the political attitude of the next administration will be," says Alpher. That Arab states, and the world, will look away next time might be too much to assume.

With Jeffrey Bartholet in Washington

 

Comments (67)


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51. Akbar Palace said:

Alex stated:

When Americans elected Clinton for president, Iranians elected a moderate man as well.

When Americans elected Clinton for president, the World Trade Center was bombed the first time, Saddam Hussein continued to prevent UN inspectors free access to suspected WMD sites, and the 9-11 attackers were learning how to fly commercial jets here in the US using funds wired from the UAE.

Considering that Islamic terrorism isn’t just an Iranian obsession, I’ll take Bush any day over a Clinton.

SimoHurtta said:

“Do you Israeliguy believe that the big Arab nations want to be dominated in the future decades by a tiny nation like Israel?”

Any day Israel survives, the Arabs are being “dominated”. Terrorist dogma re-worded for accuracy.

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September 16th, 2007, 11:51 pm

 

52. SimoHurtta said:

SimoHurtta, no, I don’t believe that the big Arab nations want to be dominated by Israel, but is it really the case, these days?

Are the big Arab countries being ‘dominated’ by us?
Well, I didn’t notice it…

Why do you have more nukes than China? Why do you have long range subs with nuclear cruise missiles? You have WMD weapons far past the need of a defensive deterrent. Why do you Israeliguy think that Germany is sending the spy ships on Lebanese waters near Israel? Israeli planes are not frightening them for no reason. Certainly the main target of gathering intelligence for Germany and others in Lebanon is not Hizbollah. It is not only Arab countries which are alerted with the rather uncontrollable behaviour of Israel.

Of course Israel is the dominant military power in the region and it wants to keep its position with all possible means. Don’t you remember your politicians favourite saying we will bomb them to stone age.

Well, I’m examining the situation with Egypt.
We have peace with them for almost 30 years and you can see the difference between the Egyptian street and the Egyptian leadership.
We have a pretty long positive experience with Jordan too and it’s not like the Jordanian street is filled with Israel fans.
As I’m saying, since these are not democracies, the important part is the regime.

Well you have a rather “blue eyed” vision. As we have seen numerous times in the past regime changes happen fast in Middle East. Imagine Egypt’s and Saudi Arabia’s military machines in hand of a less friendly regime.

If Israel can’t deliver anything to calm the tensions and doesn’t want make compromises the “street opinion” will get so furious that even moderate regimes have to change their policy. Imagine the next 40 years of occupation?

Israel cares more about actual results on the strategic level and less about another photo op on some lawn and it keeps the Arab street relatively calm.

Regrettably for Israel it is USA who needs desperately another photo op. US has to deliver some positive signs to to its Arab client regimes. What strategical alternatives are there left for Israel if you do not have a two state solution and really want to join the region in a normal way? The only way is to continue as now, but there are many signs that that line of behaviour is more and more difficult. Let’s imagine five years in the future, when in middle of peak oil situation the Arab countries force the west to choose. What has Israel to offer in such a situation? If US pro-Israelis have to choose between riding on horseback or sitting comfortably in a SUV the answer is clear. They became less pro-Israeli.

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September 16th, 2007, 11:59 pm

 

53. sam said:

You know it’s an absolute shame that no other Arab country condemnd the violation on brotherly Syria. The traitor arab countries not no included (Egypt, Jordan) Where is the unity? Is it going to take another all out war to stop the Zionist from turning us into slaves. Ya Ibe-a shoom! And responding to Bilal, you should be ashamed of yourself. Hafez was never tested with complicated situations. The 73′ war was a conventional war, the Leb civil war was hard, but Syria always new the score, and how much time was on the clock. How can you praise Kaddam? He’s more of a traitor than any March 14 group or any Jordanian or Egyption put togother. The cold hard fact is.. in twenty years from now Bashar will still be Boss, and the Zionist will continue to act aggressivaly, until other Arab nations step up to the plate, and show some solidarity. Arabs can take over the world if we would unite under one banner. Whether be Muslim, Christians if your an arab your a brother.

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September 17th, 2007, 12:10 am

 

54. Solomon2 said:

Ausamaa, what “good ol’ days?” do you mean?

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September 17th, 2007, 1:11 am

 

55. IsraeliGuy said:

SIMOHURTTA, maybe I didn’t understand you.
When you said “want to be dominated” I thought you meant something like ‘want to be ruled by Israel’ or something similar.
My English is ok I guess, but very far from perfect.

Indeed, as you described pretty well, we have an extensive arsenal which indeed includes nukes and other WMD (according to the foreign media).

Why do we need it?
Let me give you the short answer: survival.
We want to deter neighboring regimes from starting a war against us.

If we didn’t have any nuclear weapons, a decision to go out to war against Israel could have been taken much easier.

With the WMD, neighboring leaders must calculate their actions more carefully.
So far, this policy has been proving itself pretty well.

Since 1973, no Arab army initiated an all out war against Israel – only organizations like Hizbollah in Lebanon or the Palestinian groups in the West Bank & Gaza.

The organizations can indeed hurt or ‘scratch’ us, but they don’t pose a risk on our survival as a country.
State armies do pose an existential threat and do have the capability to wipe us off the map, so we need something that will deter them and if it doesn’t, will act as a silver bullet.

You’re right, Israel does want to maintain its position with all means.
Without this edge – the consequences will be clear and I have no desire to bare them.

On the same note, the US has an enormous military, extraordinary arsenal and overwhelming fire power, but you don’t see their neighbors like Canada or Mexico making a fuss and you don’t hear them complaining about the US domination of the region.

Yes, you’re right, regimes can indeed change in the Middle East, but we work with what we have and not with what we don’t have.

By the way, the ‘regime’ in Gaza just changed recently – from pro western Fattah to Islamic Hammas.
Now let me ask you this: in light of this ‘regime change’ in Gaza, do you think that the moderate Arab leaders are working more closely with Israel or the opposite way.

I bet you know the answer.
They’re actually strengthening their alliance with the moderate powers in the area.
They don’t want to see themselves as a new version of Gaza.

*******
“If Israel can’t deliver anything to calm the tensions and doesn’t want make compromises the “street opinion” will get so furious that even moderate regimes have to change their policy. Imagine the next 40 years of occupation?”
*******

Israel is not the delivery boy of calm in the region.
The responsibility to calm the tensions in area lies on the shoulders of many countries and Israel has indeed an equal share – but not more than that.

Calm is a great thing and if everybody want it, everybody will have to chip it and contribute their part.

As for the next 40 years, I’m indeed worried, just as I was 10 and 20 years ago.
As an Israeli, I’m always worried.
It’s part of my DNA, I guess.

Regarding the 2 state solution, I’m for it, but only after all the main Palestinian fractions and groups will genuinely recognize Israel and stop fighting it.

If it will not happen, any agreement will be worthless and I will not vote for it.

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September 17th, 2007, 1:11 am

 

56. ugarit said:

“You know it’s an absolute shame that no other Arab country condemnd the violation on brotherly Syria.”

Most Arab regimes are whores with the US as their pimp.

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September 17th, 2007, 1:16 am

 

57. EHSANI2 said:

Arabs can take over the world if we would unite under “one” banner?

Who is going to lead this united under-one-banner group?

Rather than getting closer to unity under one banner, Arabs seem to be drifting into unilateral nationalistic entities.

Dreaming about taking over the world cannot be accomplished by believing in impractical empty slogans. Taking over the world takes a lot more than calling each other a brother

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September 17th, 2007, 1:20 am

 

58. norman said:

This is interesting and could make many cheer.

مصادر ألمانية: الغارة الإسرائيلية فشلت بسبب الكشف المبكر للدفاعات السورية لها الاخبار السياسية

صحيفة: بارجة استخبارات ألمانية رصدت الخرق الإسرائيلي للأجواء السورية

اعتبرت مصادر استخباراتية وعسكرية ألمانية أن الغارة الإسرائيلية فشلت لأن الدفاعات الأرضية السورية كشفت تسلل المقاتلات في وقت مبكر مما استدعاها إلى العودة على أعقابها.

وقالت مصادر استخبارية وعسكرية ألمانية إن “طائرتين إسرائيليتين اخترقتا المجال الجوي السوري ليلة الخميس، في السادس من الشهر الجاري، إلا أنهما فوجئتا من سرعة كشفهما من قبل الدفاعات الأرضية السورية مما حدا بهما إلى العودة على أعقابهما بسرعة”.

وتتطابق هذه المعلومات مع ما أعلنته المصادر السورية من أن “المقاتلات الحربية لم تقصف أي هدف في سورية، وحال كشفها من قبل الدفاعات السورية ألقت ذخيرتها وخزانات الوقود الإضافية التي على متنها وولت هاربة”.

وقالت أسبوعية “در شبيغل” الألمانية إن “بارجة استخبارات ألمانية تشارك في قوات اليونفيل البحرية العاملة في السواحل اللبنانية رصدت في الليلة التي حلقت فيها المقاتلات الإسرائيلية في الأجواء السورية طائرتين من نوع إف15 إسرائيليتين تخرقان المجال الجوي السوري”.

والتزمت إسرائيل الصمت حيال الإعلان السوري عن الخرق الجوي رافضة تأكيد أو نفي هذه المعلومات مكتفية بالثناء على لسان رئيس وزرائها إيهود أولمرت على العمليات “النوعية” التي يقوم بها الجيش الإسرائيلي بشكل دائم.

وقالت المجلة الألمانية نقلا عن مصدر عسكري إن “الطائرات كانت في طريقها لقصف شحنة سلاح في طريقها من سورية لحزب الله إلا أنها فوجئت من السرعة التي كشفتها الدفاعات الأرضية السورية فاضطرت إلى العودة على أعقابها”.
وتنفي سورية صحة التقارير الصحفية الأمريكية عن استهداف الطيران الإسرائيلي شحنة أسلحة لحزب الله على الأراضي السورية معتبرة أن هذه الاتهامات لا تعدو كونها “ترهات وأكاذيب”.

وكشفت صحيفة “ساندي تايمز” مؤخرا أن “إسرائيل أجرت مشاوات قبل شن الغارة مع الولايات المتحدة، كما وأن واشنطن زودت المقاتلات الإسرائيلية بشيفرات سرية كي لا تتعرض لنيران أمريكية حين تقترب من الحدود التركية أو العراقية”.
وكانت سورية تعهدت برد وصفته بالـ”قاس” على الاختراقات الإسرائيلية للأجواء السورية وبسلسلة ردود قد يكون العسكري أحدها.

سيريانيوز

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September 17th, 2007, 1:25 am

 

59. Bakri said:

In the 80’s Syria had the backing of Saudi Arabia? … you mean that muslim brotherhood had the backing of Saudi Arabia to put bombs in shopping centers and civilian buses and to try to overthrow Hafez and to even kill him (assassination attempt 26 of June 1980).

Alex ,stop repeating these lies…..you know that 99% of the killed syrian civilians were from the hand of the alawite militias and those who raped the children of syria are known.
The saudis gave billions to the alawite regime,specially during the events of the 80’s when the regime received arround one billion us dollars/year.
The brotherhood have at least a popular legitimacy inside Syria what is the legitimacy of the sectarian alawite regime?
You are only allowed to repeat these lies in post asad Syria…and then we will see how the people will judge you… i hope that you will not be a coward in that time in denying your anti syrian people and pro mukhabarat past.And dont give them the excuse that you are canadian citizen.

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September 17th, 2007, 7:20 am

 

60. SimoHurtta said:

SIMOHURTTA, maybe I didn’t understand you.
When you said “want to be dominated” I thought you meant something like ‘want to be ruled by Israel’ or something similar.

If you do not understand what political and military dominance means, that is your problem.

If we didn’t have any nuclear weapons, a decision to go out to war against Israel could have been taken much easier.
With the WMD, neighboring leaders must calculate their actions more carefully.
So far, this policy has been proving itself pretty well.

This policy fact is the same for all countries. Also for Syria, Iran and Egypt. A situation where only one side has nukes is dangerous. As Martin van Creveld — an Israeli military historian at the Hebrew University in Israel — puts it, “Obviously, we don’t want Iran to have nuclear weapons and I don’t know if they’re developing them, but if they’re not developing them, they’re crazy.”

Since 1973, no Arab army initiated an all out war against Israel – only organizations like Hizbollah in Lebanon or the Palestinian groups in the West Bank & Gaza.

With the exception of 1973 Israel has started all the wars. Hizbollah by the way was fighting against Israel in the occupied Lebanon and finally liberated the country. What comes to Palestinian resistance organizations, what should Palestinians do when Israeli Jews steal their land, kill them and make their life miserable? Al people in the world would eventually resist a such racist and cruel occupation as Israel’s. No doubt about that. Even Ehud Barak has publicly said that if he had born as Palestinian he would have joined a resistance organization.

By the way, the ‘regime’ in Gaza just changed recently – from pro western Fattah to Islamic Hammas.
Now let me ask you this: in light of this ‘regime change’ in Gaza, do you think that the moderate Arab leaders are working more closely with Israel or the opposite way.

Fattah pro Western, I seriously doubt that especially now when Olmert has nothing to deliver to Fattah. On the other hand pro western doesn’t mean pro Israeli. Very few Europeans think from the present days Israel as a part of us. As little as they did from the former South Africa.

As an answer to your question: Are the “moderate” Arab leaders realy working closely with Israel? Having a same enemy is not a sign of a long alliance. It is wishful Israeli thinking.

As for the next 40 years, I’m indeed worried, just as I was 10 and 20 years ago.
As an Israeli, I’m always worried.
It’s part of my DNA, I guess.

Taking out your Holocaust card Israeliguy? Well how worried do you think Palestinians are being harassed and killed by military and and bearded religious (not Arabs) nuts for the next 40 years. Israel’s problem are not only Arabs. The biggest threat for Israel is internal. Israel is getting increasingly religious and extreme. The moderates are beginning to move out. Why would thousand of Israelis yearly take German citizenship when it means abandoning Israeli citizenship?

By the way do you Israeliguy have a second passport? Most Israelis have, why?

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September 17th, 2007, 8:35 am

 

61. Alex said:

Bakri you are not making sense, sorry. You would like to accuse me of not telling the truth, but .. which part of my statement was not true??

Did I ever try to deny that most (over 90%) of the innocent victims were killed in Hama at the hands of the security forces?

But you are the one who can not face the facts … even if “the Arab brothers” supplied the brotherhood with money and weapons and pushed them to try to kill the Syrian president and many other civilians, it does not bother you… let them try to overthrow the Syrian president .. it is ok with you.

Bakri, I hate to say it but, you and I do not have the same hopes for Syria … I am for a strong, secular, peaceful Syria. You are for a Syria that is a client for Saudi Arabia.

There are many Syrians who share your aspirations, and there are many Syrians who share my aspirations. Hopefully one day we will have democracy and find out if Syrians want to live in a secular country or a Wahabi country.

You seem to think I have something for minorities or against Sunni Muslims. Wrong. I like the current Islamic Turkish government as you know. I would have voted for them if I could. Despite the fact they are religious, they don’t force their views on their country.

If you are thinking that the Syrian brotherhood is as civilized and open minded as the Turkish AK party, read Mona Eltahawy’s comparison.

And you said that in the 80’s the Arabs were giving Syria one billion per year? … is this before or after they tried to assassinate Hafez Assad? You don’t remember what Syria went through economically, throughout the 80’s.

Only at the end of the 80’s did they start to open up to Syria again … after Reagan left the white house and the much more reasonable president George Bush Sr. and James Baker showed up.

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September 17th, 2007, 9:17 am

 

62. Bakri said:

Alex ,the butchers of the syrian people desrve to be punished or not?Who in the world killed ,tortured ,raped more syrians than the alawite militias of asad ? more than 50 000 syrians were killed ,girls were raped in front of the eyes of their familly members is that not normal to see a brave syrian to try to avenge the killers of its people ?what saudi arabia have to do with that ,the victims are the syrian people not the saudis,the brotherhood leaders were not even allowed to open an office in saudi arabia and dont play the man who ignore this fact ,you know it better than me,syria was one of the most economically helped country in the third world thanks the saudi and khaliji money from the beginning of the 70’s until the 90’s..and this amount was more important between 1979 and 1989…..

And Alex,the brotherhood are not a new party it’s even one of the oldest political organization entity in syria ,and tell us what u know about the brotherhood behavior before asad criminal rule ?,they were amongst the most respectable personalities in syria…and always have respected the laws of the syrian constitution and the opinion of the syrian people.
Alex,btw the extremist wahhabis(not all of them of course) see the brotherhood as bad moslems or even kafirs and there is a huge literature about this antagonism..And i personally dont know one syrian sheikh killed by the regime who was a wahhabi,because they are a small minority amongst the syrian muslims ,the last one was sheikh al khaznawi who was a sufi as were all the important sheikhs killed by the regime.but say it clearly and honestly Alex,wahhabi excuse is false,your hatred are the syrian moslems as whole and what is syria if you remove them so i’m sorry and i hope that i’m wrong but you are automaticaly anti syria because syria doesnt mean makhlouf ,asad and their economical or sectarian partners…

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September 17th, 2007, 9:57 am

 

63. ausamaa said:

Solomon2, I mean the days when Israel thought that it -supported by its staunch “ally” could rule the whole area forever uncontested by the “meek” locals…

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September 17th, 2007, 11:09 am

 

64. Bakri said:

You don’t remember what Syria went through economically, throughout the 80’s…ask yourself in which pockets all this money had fallen…did u forget in that period their mercedes 600 sel and cadillac limousines ?

If not this curse,the gdp/capita of syria today would be at least 4 times higher and not in the bottom of the arab list with yemen and mauretania and this is a conservative estimation.

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September 17th, 2007, 11:59 am

 

65. Solomon2 said:

ausamaa, this is “Syria Comment”. Don’t you think your flame belongs elsewhere?

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September 17th, 2007, 1:49 pm

 

66. Alex said:

Bakri,

Again, you are accusing me of things that are far from my mentality.

“Hate”? … that thing was never a part of my feelings towards anyone. Not even “the Saudis” that I criticize often. I wish them all the best, I just hope they stop interfering in Syrian affairs! they are a bad influence.

You don’t need to tell me about the brotherhood’s early days. I heard all the details from an older relative who attended Moustapha Al-siba3i first speech in Aleppo in 1951. They were more reasonable of course. But they got furious at the regime becasue it is not “Muslim” and they totally lost it when “the regime” protectd the Christians in Lebanon in 1977.

And they always wanted to mix religion and politics. Although I am a strong believer, I am totally opposed to mixing religion and politics … in Syria, Lebanon, or anywhere.

Saudi Arabia, Israel, Iran, and America under this administration are all sources of future trouble … starting from President Bush who is convinced that God spoke to him and therefore his Iraq war is justified (650,000 Iraqis dead?), and ending with the Saudi wahabi activists who want to make Europe Islamic and consider Indians Kuffar (how many died in Saudi privately financed terrorist attacks around the world?… how come most armed activists carry a Saudi nationality?)… Same with Israel where Mr. Shamir kept calling Palestinians cockroaches and when he would retaliate for a dead Innocent Israeli victim of terror with 10 dead Innocent Palestinian civilians. And Iran where their own religious revolution was part of the reason we had the first Iran Iraq war (saddam being the other part) when hundreds of thousands of young Iraqi and Iranians died …

Mixing religion and politics can lead to disaster in the Middle East … remember the civil war in Lebanon?

You are angry at the tens of thousands who died in Syria, I understand … I am also angry at the millions who died because of religion in the Middle East… do you understand? your enemy is “the regime” that killed tens of thousands, my enemy is extremism and fundamentalism (from any religion) that killed millions.

As for Saudi economic help to Syria in the 80’s … again, you are dreaming. The Saudis helped Syria generously after the 1973 war .. until Syria opposed the Camp David accords and interfered in Lebanon on the side of the Christians. The Camp David part upset the Americans and the Christian help upset the Wahabi Saudis. By 1980 Syria was not getting much from the Saudis. And after Hama in 1981 aid practically stopped. Instead Saudis (not officially) were supporting the Syrian brotherhood while they tried to overthrow Hafez Assad by force. Jordan too the lead (and Saddam too) in helping with weapons.

It was only after the Reagan administration was out and George Bush Sr was in that relations between Syria and Saudi Arabia got warm again. There was the Taif agreement in Lebanon which was the result of a productive cooperation between the Syrians and Saudis, then there was the Kuwait war when Syria helped by sending their elite forces to protect the Saudis …etc, but more importantly, the Americans were close to Assad at the time and the Saudis of course follow America (with a small delay usually) … in boycotting Syria or in befriending and helping Syria.

Plot Syrian American and Syrian Saudi relations on a graph … you will see that they move in the same direction.

Finally, you and Bilal keep reminding us that Syrian Islamists are really a group of harmonious and peaceful Sufis who would live and let live .. you are misleading us my friend.

Some Syrian Islamists are indeed peaceful Sufis, but these are not the politically active ones. The politically active ones are the type who are driven by their anger and need for revenge. Your words above can not hide your feelings … I do not want people like you to get anywhere near power in Syria because you will lead us to civil war, even though you think you are above that… remember how the equally secular Bilal commented on consuming Alcohol in public in Syria “Let them go to hell, and they WILL go to hell”?

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September 17th, 2007, 4:36 pm

 

67. idaf Seif said:

Dear Josh,

Not sure if you are aware of the next move of Dr. Imad Moustapha.
The rumor has it that he is on his exit ( aka yanked ) out of Washington, DC.

Rgds

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October 6th, 2007, 10:35 pm

 

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