Kurds Protest; Israel Says No to Peace

Syria has released 3 Kurdish activists from jail. This move comes only days before the October 5th demonstration that is being organized on behalf of Kurdish citizenship for the 200,000 Kurds who continue to be denied full citizenship and rights in Syria. October 5 will be the anniversary of the 1962 census carried out by President Nazim al-Qudsi, which was used as the instrument for denying Kurds their rights, based on the provenance of their grandfathers and great grandfathers. President Asad has promised on several occasions that he would restore the rights and complete citizenship of the Kurds who were unfairly harmed by the 1962 census and subsequent policies, but he has refused to live up to his promises. Doubtlessly Asad believes that he can use the unfulfilled promise of citizenship as a club held over the heads of Syria’s Kurdish community to ensure their good behavior as Iraq’s Kurdish provinces gain independence. This is a silly policy and will most likely back fire because it will guarantee that Syria’s Kurds resent the Syrian state and its discriminatory policies. It will make Kurds who don’t yet long to join Kurdistan, question their attachment to the Syrian state. The Qur’an says there is “no compulsion in religion.” Nationalism is a modern form of religion. Anyone who believes that Kurdish loyalty can be won by the sword is only trying to cheat God. It is a bit like Israel trying to starve Palestinians into recognizing Greater Israel.

The national Salvation Front, run by Khaddam and Bayanouni, are calling on all Syrians to join the Oct. 5th demonstrations as an opening effort of their “new policy” of trying to build support “within” Syria. (See article copied below on Kurds) I must say that Khaddam and Bayanouni are smart to champion the Kurdish demand for full citizenship, just as they are smart to condemn Farid Ghadry’s politics of bigotry and his effort to turn Syrians against their fellow Alawis. National unity will be a winning strategy. Syrians have allowed themselves to be divided for too long. Asad has talked about promoting national unity, but on the Kurdish issue, he has made a mockery of this strategy and left a giant hole for the opposition to walk through. It is good to see that they are taking advantage of this weakness and bringing attention to government backed discrimination and racism. Turkey’s Islamic party was always much better on the Kurdish issue than were the Ataturk seculars. The Kurdish helped them win power and keep it. Asad should heed this lesson.

The Syrian government has done more than its fair share in helping refugees of many stripes – and not only Arab refugees like the Palestinians, Lebanese, and Iraqis, but also non-Arabs, such as Armenians, Assyrians, Circassians, and many more. There is no need to mistreat the Kurds – it ruins what has been Syria’s excellent record of helping others and promoting tolerance among ethnic groups and religions in the region. 

Israel does not want peace with Syria (copied from Warincontext.com)
By Gideon Levy, Haaretz, October 1, 2006

What do you call a rejection of peace that is liable to lead to war? What is the term for a state that is not even willing to sit at the negotiating table with the head of a state who publicly issues an explicit peace proposal? If there is a positive angle to the Israeli refusal to consider the Syrian president’s proposals, it is the exposure of the bitter truth: Israel does not want peace with Syria – period. No linguistic trick or diplomatic contortion can change this unequivocal fact. We will no longer be able to declare that we are seeking peace with our neighbors; we are not turning toward them for peace. In the Middle East, a new rejectionist axis has formed: Israel and the United States, which is saying “no” to Syria. Not only is Iran endangering peace in the region, Israel is too. It would be best for us to admit this.Common sense makes it difficult to understand and the heart refuses to accept how it happened that an important Arab state offered to forge a peace accord with us and we arrogantly rebuffed it. “It’s not the right time,” the statesmen in Jerusalem say. With Syria, it is not the right time. With the Palestinians, it is not the right partner. And when is the right time? Only after the next war. This type of refusal, which is liable to lead to another cycle of bloodshed, is a crime. [ complete article]

Is Israel a partner?
By Uzi Benziman, Haaretz, October 1, 2006

In the 1967 war, Jordan’s King Hussein was considered an enemy of the state of Israel. In the 1973 war, Hussein refrained from joining the combined assault of Egypt and Syria, and there are those who say that he even warned Israel about it. Twenty-one years later, Jordan signed a peace agreement with Israel: The enemy of 1967 and covert ally of 1973 became an overt friend.When official Israel claims to have no partners with which to establish peace, the development of the relationship with King Hussein should be placed in the public eye. The “no partner” status is reversible, and Israel can have a significant influence on its expiration date. Egypt’s President Anwar Sadat was not considered a partner in ’73, and earned the status of very desired guest in ’77. Government spokesmen in Jerusalem explain in retrospect why Sadat does not resemble Hafez or Bashar Assad, why Hussein does not resemble Yasser Arafat, why the hostile situation that Israel had with Egypt and with Jordan had the potential to change while the relationship with the Palestinians is fated to be eternally drenched in blood and Syria will remain an enemy forever. These explanations, however, ignore the Israeli side of the equation: The desire to hold onto the West Bank and the Golan Heights has a critical impact on the development of the conflict. [ complete article]

The LA Times’s Borzou Daragahi writes that “Abdullah II of Jordan, who has closely allied himself with the U.S., is accused by reformers and traditionalists alike of alienating his people. The title of the article is Jordan’s king risks Shah’s fate, critics warn.” Numerous parallels exist between the shah’s rule and that of Abdullah. “Like the shah’s SAVAK security and intelligence service, Jordan’s General Intelligence Department, now in a new hilltop complex in an Amman suburb, operates as a “subdivision” of the CIA, said Alexis Debat, a former French Defense Ministry official.” This assessment seems extreme to me, however, there can be little doubt that adhereing too closely to US policy is taking a toll on regime ligitimacy. The cost of remaining loyal to the US will grow exponentially along with the growth in suffering in both Iraq and Palestine as the true cost of Washington’s determination to continue failing policies begins to kick in.

Ibrahim Hamidi wrote an important article in al-Hayat a week ago explaining how the wall of isolation that the US has been enforcing around Syria is beginning to crumble. I could only find a French translation. Here is a bit of it.

Le mur que l’administration BUSH a tenté de construire pour isoler la Syrie au cours des dernières années commence à s’effriter. 23 septembre 2006

Le mur construit par l’administration américaine pour isoler la Syrie commence à s’effriter depuis quelques mois. Les élections espagnoles et italiennes, ainsi que la baisse de la popularité du Président CHIRAC, y ont contribué.

De plus, cette tentative d’isoler la Syrie a abouti à des résultats contraires à ceux que l’on avait escomptés. Elle a eu pour conséquence de renforcer l’alliance syro-iranienne, ainsi que le soutien de la Syrie au Jihad et au Hamas.

La visite de M. MORATINOS à Damas a eu pour effet de tourner la page de l’isolement de la Syrie. Elle a abouti à une entente sur six points :

1- La gravité de la situation au moyen-orient, mais la possibilité d’en sortir.
2- La nécessité d’inclure toutes les parties dans la recherche d’une solution.
3- L’impossibilité de la solution militaire.
4- Un cessez-le-feu immédiat qui s’est concrétisé par la 1701.
5- Le soutien à l’unité de toutes les forces politiques libanaises et du gouvernement.
6- La nécessité d’une paix juste et globale en Palestine, au Liban et en Syrie.

“The flood of the Ba’th” (taken from Mideastwire.com)

Diana Mukkaled, a regular columnist for Asharq Al Awsat, an independent pan-Arab daily, wrote in the paper’s Arabic edition on September 24 that: “The opening scene of Syrian director Omar Amiralay’s documentary ‘A Flood in Ba’th Country,’ portrays children in military attire in a classroom in a small rural village chanting, ‘We, the pioneers of the Ba’th, salute our leader Bashar al Assad’, followed by, ‘We are the voice of the proletariat’.   

“There was not much commentary in Amiralay’s film rather, he allowed the pictures to speak for themselves and to recount the story of the Syrian village of Al-Mashi that is governed by a clan leader and Member of Parliament, assisted by his nephew who is the head-teacher of a school and an official of the Ba’th party. The village represents a reduced example of the forty years of Ba’th rule and how this one party has maintained control and planted its ideology into the minds of Syrians from an early stage through instruction and repetition. One of the film’s ironies is a scene in which students are reading a text about freedom by Mostafa Lotfi El-Manfalouti.

“The documentary was filmed and produced in 2003 and was shown at numerous film festivals. There were many attempts to obstruct its viewing such as at the last Carthage Film Festival in Tunisia where the film was withdrawn. The production was awarded Best Short Film by the Arab World Institute in Paris, 2005. The Syrian authorities have always followed closely the film and the success of its director who is well-known for his opposition to the Syrian government. However, Syrian authorities only decided on 19 September 2006 to arrest Amiralay, prohibit him from leaving Syria and interrogate him for thirteen hours.

“This action came after Al Arabiya aired the documentary less than two weeks ago. Therefore, his arrest came only after the film was made available to Arab viewers in general and Syrians in particular. Disregarding the circumstances and factors associated to the film, its broadcast by Al Arabiya was the cause of Amiralay’s arrest and restriction on travel. According to Amiralay, the Syrian investigator asked about the content of the film in the same way that the film portrays. Amiralay said, ‘They wanted to know about the purpose and significance of the film’. As if this was not evident in the documentary itself!

“Amiralay loosened the reins on the film and the characters by interfering as little as possible and it is evident that this is what provoked the suspicion of Syrian censorship. Restriction is exactly what the production ‘A Flood in Ba’th Country’ looks at and accordingly the context of the film seemed normal and unlikely to be condemned by observers.

“What is left is that is that it is likely that the film will be shown on television as it is a form of public media and that political sensitivity will become more dominant than the questions that the director raised in his film, knowing that the Syrian investigator was aware that the documentary was produced before the crisis, which Syria is currently experiencing, began. Perhaps this ordeal that the Syrian director and producer is facing as well as Syrian literates and oppositionists is the natural ending that we should expect to see as we watch films like ‘Flood in Ba’th Country’.” – Asharq Al Awsat, United Kingdom

Protest in Syria Demanding Kurdish Citizenship    (taken from Mideastwire.com)

Elaph, an independent news website, reported in its September 27 issue about the latest developments in the issue of the Kurds in Syria. The website wrote: “The Kurdish political parties called for a protest in front of the building of the Syrian government headquarters on the morning of Thursday on the 5th of October to mark the ‘passage of more than four decades since the last census in 1962 in the Heske province’. The parties clarified that according to the census ‘hundreds of thousands of Kurds lost their Syrian nationalities and were deprived of all their rights’. A statement by the Yekiti and Azadi Kurdish political parties and the Kurdish Future movement in Syria pointed out that ‘despite all appeals to the government and its repeated pledges to solve the issue, most recently by the Syrian vice president Doctor Najah Al-Attar, none of the promises were ever implemented’.”  

The website continued: “The statement, of which Elaph received a copy, announced that ‘Our Kurdish people that constitute the second principal nationality and that live on its historic lands is suffering from racial policies and projects such as the Arab settlements and Arabization [transformation of area into Arab dominated region] plus the intentional marginalization and prohibiting us from reaching important jobs and the continuation of the regime to ignore the presence and rights of our people and its oppression of the democratic activists. Therefore we decided to field a public protest near the quarters of the government in Damascus starting at 11 p.m. on Thursday on the 5th of October and to raise slogans calling for the return of the Syrian nationality to those that have been deprived from it and to compensate them. We also will call for the cancellation of the policy of discrimination against us and to find a democratic solution for our cause within the unity of the country’.”The website added: “The statement called upon ‘our people and the Kurdish political forces and the national Syrian forces to congregate and protests against the continuation of the suppression of liberties, the oppression, and the discrimination and to call for finding solutions for all the issues through dialogue and common efforts for a democratic peaceful change in the country’.” – Elaph, United Kingdom

Comments (38)


1. Philip I said:

Joshua

I totally agree with everything you said about the Kurds and their treatment. However, it seems (from what I have read here and there) that the Americans may be exploiting (or have taken steps to use) the Kurdish community to drive a thorn in the side the regime. If they are given citizenship (which in my view they should and deserve to get) they may demand regional autonomy and at a later stage demand cessation to join a future Kurdistan. Without citizenship, they can simply be “encouraged” to emigrate to a future Kurdistan that does not encompass Syrian land!

Such fears and suspicions may be groundless but the regime may be thinking it is better to avoid this potential problem altogether. Non-citizens will always be easier to get rid of if they cause trouble.

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October 2nd, 2006, 6:59 pm

 
 

3. Ehsani2 said:

Dr. Landis,

A historical foot note first if I may:

At the conclusion of your article on the kurds, you mentioned that the Syrian Government has done more than its fair share in helping non-Arabs like Armenians and Assyrians. As you well know, the immigration of these groups from what is now Southern Turkey took place when the French had the mandate over Syria. People who have lived this episode still debate whether they would have been granted full citizenship in the country if it were not for the French control at the time.

As for the Kurds, the predicament goes beyond citizenship. It is a fact that the vast majority of Kurds residing in cities like Aleppo for example do so in totally unregulated dwellings. Not a single household has a valid permit to back their primary residences that were built under the eyes of the Government agencies that simply turned a blind eye. Should the Government decide to follow its own rules, thousands of these illegally built housing units would have to be brought down. In one particular neighborhood, what started as few houses at the time has become a nightmarish maze of thousends of illegal housing units that resemble a zoo with close to 7-10 children per household.

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October 2nd, 2006, 9:46 pm

 

4. norman said:

Joshua, how can we tell if the Kurds in Syria were not brought in from Iraq to increase their numbers for political goals .I do not think that Syria has a reliable Birth certificate System as many people still are born at home ,I think it is a bigger problem than just giving the Kurds citizenship.

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October 3rd, 2006, 1:25 am

 

5. norman said:

Ehsani2 ,there is a new tax law in Syria which seems to be reasnable , actualy seems close to the US tax law ,what do you think ,

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October 3rd, 2006, 1:32 am

 

6. ausamaa said:

So, now the poor Kurds are to be used once again by the US as happened so many times in the good old days of Saddam. And, so hasetly organized at a most opportune moment to beef-up the PR agenda against Syria during Condi’s Cairo get together.
Coincidences do happen after all, so why should any suspicious soles accuse Baynoni and Khaddam of playing to foreign agendas?

And would this kind-hearted campaign aimed at “naturalizing” those suffering Kurds have any remote connection to “well-intentioned” certain intersts as to being seen as setting a precedent (which can be “explored” at possible future peace talks for a “possible” future naturalization of the 600,000 Palestinan refugees who have lived in Syria since since 1948)?. Same as the innocent every-day request by the United Nations Secuity Council, no less, to demarkate the Syrian-Lebanese boarder -and opening an Emmbassy in Beirut too- could be taken to possible future UNSC resolution “forcing” Syria to do the same with Israel, Iraq or whoever under the threat of applying the newly-discovered Chapter 7 stuff???

Just a suspicious thought in suspicious times??

Dont they ever get tired of beating around the bush?? But Hope springs eternal for the US Administration….. does it not.

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October 3rd, 2006, 2:22 am

 

7. ausamaa said:

Ahhh, I forget to ask. Was Nazem Al Qudsi in whose time Syria conducted the 1962 census a Ba’athist too? Or did Bashar tell him not to naturlize those Kurds then???

At least President Bashar has promissed recenctly that he would resolve this issue. And things take time. Look at UN resolutions 194, 242, 338 and 425. Look even at President Bush, he promissed a Palestinian State by 2004 or 2005, I do not remeber which, and look at where we are right now. It is not a one-sided look is it?

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October 3rd, 2006, 2:33 am

 

8. Joshua said:

Philip, I expect that the US government and military is considering ways to use the Kurds as a bridgehead into Syria in the case that the US and Syria should go to war.

I think the US will find such efforts very unrewarding because Syria’s Kurds are weak. They are also not fools and will understand the unpromising probabilities they face.

Rather than allow the fear of US meddling to paralyze all reform in the Kurdish districts, I think the Syrian government should use it to push through long needed and promised reforms.

Ehsani, You are right to point out that the Mandate authorities and not an independent Syrian government allowed the non-Arab refugees to settle in Syria. The French were inclined to allow as many Christians into their mandates as possible. They also welcomed the Kurds, no doubt for political reasons, too.

But so what? Syrians, on the whole welcomed these new comers with customary warmth. They did not persecute them. They did not carry out pogroms. They did not expel them when the country did achieve independence.

In Iraq, the Assyrians were massacred in 1933 by Arab nationalist military elements because they were accused of having been too pro-British.

No one in Syria was massacred for being too pro-French. There were calls by some nationalists on the morrow of independence for trials of those who had collaborated with the French, but President Quwatli did not encourage such talk.

Many of Syria’s minorities, the Christians foremost, feared that once the French left Syria, the “Muslims” would take revenge against them. This did not happen. Syria’s politicians did not exploit the ethnic or religion card as much as they might have, or as much as many of their neighbors did.

I am often attacked by critics of this blog for defending Syria on these issues. Just two posts ago,
http://joshualandis.com/blog/?p=33#comment-85
RAF* claimed that my defense of the Syrian regime was equivalent to defending Hitler or Stalin.

Raf* is absolutely right to lambaste the regime for misdeeds and illegal killings. But one thing that the Syrian state, of any era has not done is to kill or scapegoat minorities as the Nazis did.

The Sunni dominated, Baath Party in Iraq did target minorities for murder, such as the Kurds, Jews, and “Iranians” of Iraq, all of whom where determined to be foreigners, spies, and a danger to the nation.

The Syrian Baath has bent over backwards to solicit the favor of Syria’s minority communities because it is dominated by Alawites, a religious minority. It never engaged in this kind of purge.

Where the Syrian Baath has sinned is in going after “extremist Sunnis.” Using a very broad brush, the state took revenge without any recourse to law, procedure or courts. It went after an entire class of people, based on political affiliation to the Muslim Brotherhood.

One cannot excuse such killing. But one should also not seek to compare it to what Hitler did to ethnic and national minorities during the war, or to what Stalin did to the Kulaks and landowners of Russia.

Syria did suffer a civil war of sorts. It is worth remembering that the French summarily killed over 9,000 collaborators after WWII. Although historians dispute the number of collaborators summarily executed before and immediately after the Liberation, there is wide consensus that the number is over 9,000, a figure given by the French government after the war. Some historians have argued it may be as high as 20,000. This number is in addition to the 768 who were legally executed and the more than 40,000 who were sentenced to prison or forced labor by the official purge courts.

Perhaps it is too kind to Baathist Syria to compare it to France under de Gaulle. After all, the French purge represented, in Albert Camus’s phrase, “human justice with its tremendous defects.”

Recent historians claim that the purge “cannot really be called draconian.” The French need not “blush,” Herbert R. Lottman persuasively concludes in his book, The Purge.

In contrast to the French, the Syrian regime should blush for its summary executions of Muslim Brothers during 1981-1983.

But to lump it in with Hitler’s Germany or Stalin’s USSR doesn’t make sense to me and doesn’t help us understand the nature of the regime or Syrian society. It is not a fascist regime. Authoritarian or dictatorial – I agree. Fascist, I don’t.

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October 3rd, 2006, 3:24 am

 

9. Frank al iralandi said:

Guys

Here is a rough and ready translation of the al Hayat piece in englsh.

The wall that the Bush administration has attempted to construct in order to isolate ‎Syria during recent years has started to crack during the last few months. The Spanish ‎and Italian elections and the fall in popularity of president Chirac have contributed to ‎this.‎

In addition this attempt to isolate Syria has had different results to those expected. It ‎has had the effect of reinforcing the Syrian Iranian alliance, as well as the support of ‎Syria for Jihad and Hamas.‎

The visit of Mr Moratinos to Damascus has had the effect of turning the page on the ‎isolation of Syria. It is based on an understanding on six points.‎

‎1.‎ The seriousness of the situation in the Middle East but with the possibility of ‎escaping from it.‎
‎2.‎ The necessity of including all the parties in the search for a solution‎
‎3.‎ The impossibility of a military solution
‎4.‎ An immediate cease fire which is itemised in 1701‎
‎5.‎ The support for unity of all the Lebanese political forces and government‎
‎6.‎ The necessity of a just and universal peace in Palestine, Lebanon and Syria. ‎

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October 3rd, 2006, 5:29 am

 

10. Alex said:

Joshua,

Thanks for the useful comparisons.

But I believe that Syrian kurds are playing a dangerous game … if they set their goals too high, hoping the Americans will help them separate from Syria, then they might risk one day seeing the end of telerance from Syria’s Arab population.

Their leaders need to make a clear stand on their real ambitions. Until then they will be treated with suspicion. The Syrian government’s positions on Kurds are probably popular in Syria. Ask the people of Hasskai and Qamishli for example. Before the sixties, the Kurds were a minority in that area .. today they are claiming it as part of Kurdistan after large numbers of hem came from Turkey to northern Syria.

This problem is also a reminder to all of us that the world’s powers have also not made up their minds yet .. if they are planning to respect the current borders in the Middle East or if they will readjust them accoriding to ethnic and religious borders.

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October 3rd, 2006, 6:17 am

 

11. aussamaa said:

True-Facts,

Thaaaaaat bad!!! Humm..? Makes me wonder who were your tour guides on this latest “fact finding trip” to Syria? Marwan Hamadah, Ahmad Fatfat and George Adwan? Zuhair al Siddiq and Khaddam?

And if Syrians have expressed to a total stranger who has just crossed the boarder that they “realize more than ever that they have been led by a band of criminals into the wilderness of historical irrelevance” then this -the fact that they are able to express their opinion- somewhat contradicts with your other sobering facts which imply that people are living in a horrible drakonian atmosphere of supression and terror.

One request only. For God’s sake, do us all a favor and do not extend your Fact Finding Trips to include the West Bank and Gaza or Liberated Iraq. Who knows what “Facts” you might come back with from those places?

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October 3rd, 2006, 11:51 am

 

12. norman said:

Look at this ,Syria vs. Iran — the Real War
Oct 2, 2006
Scott Sullivan – Persian Journal

Regardless of whether the Republican or Democratic party directs US defense institutions in the Executive Branch, or which party wins control of Congress in the mid-term elections, the US will have to pick a side in the Real War between Syria and Iran for control of Iraq, Lebanon, and the Palestinian Authority. Whoever controls Iraq controls Lebanon and the PA.

To put it another way, is the US with Assad/Tito, or Ahmaedinejad/Hitler? Is the US with Muqtada al Sadr and the Mahdi Army in Iraq, supported by Syria; or with Abdul Azziz al-Hakim and the Badr Brigades, supported by Iran?

Secretary Rice is on her way to the region next week and all indications are is that she is with Ahmadinejad and Hakim.

Just how high are the stakes for Assad and Muqtada al Sadr? Why are they choosing this time to dig in?

The stakes are high for Assad and al-Sadr because they know they are dead men if Iran prevails in Iraq. Their names are on Ahmadinejad’s short list once he consolidates in Iraq.

Assad and al-Sadr have chosen this moment to dig in because the US has decided to throw its weight behind Iran in Iraq and the region. This US decision has unleashed Iran to attack in the region at will, and spells doom for Syria, Iraq’s Sunni and Shia, and the Sunni states in general.

Look at what is happening is Basra as this is being written. Basra is Iraq’s second most important city, following Baghdad. Basra has Iraq’s only large port, and therefore controls a large part of Iraq’s oil exports as well as imports of supplies for US forces in Iraq. Basra also contains 60% of Iraq’s proven oil reserves. Basra is the city Iran would like to establish as the center of is proposed state of Shiastan, essentially southeastern Iraq.

In short, Iran’s plan is to turn Baghdad into a battleground between US forces, Iraqi Sunnis under Osama’s control via Anbar province, and Muqtada al-Sadr’s Mahdi Army. While all these elements are fighting and destroying each other, Kurdistan would walk away with Kirkuk (Iraq’s second largest oil producing region by far) while Iran would walk away with Basra. The Sunnis would be left with nothing and would be driven by Iran from Iraqi soil.

Meanwhile, the twin victories by Iran and the Kurds could destabilize Syria, which is 60 percent SunnI and which has a large Kurdish minority. As a result, Syria could break up a state.

This an ideal plan for Iran because Iran’s principal rivals and adversaries (US, Syria and Saudi Arabia/Osama) take each other out while Iran not only sits on the sidelines but annexes Shiastan as well. Perfect!

However, Iran needs two things to happen before it can move ahead. First, the US has to be convinced that Muqtada al Sadr, not Iran, is the main threat and to concentrate US forces mainly in Baghdad, which is al Sadr’s political base. This has been done.

Second, prior to annexing Shiastan, and before launching all out civil war in Baghdad, Iran must take political control of Basra, which is now under the control of Muqtada al-Sadr and his allies. This has not been done.

How would Iran take control in Basra? Today the governor of Basra city, Mohammed al-Waelia, accused police officers of trying to assassinate him. He is from the Fadhila party, which is allied with al-Sadr.

Is Iran making its move in Basra? Is Iran coordinating its move with new US pressure against Assad and al-Sadr?

© Iranian.ws

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October 3rd, 2006, 12:40 pm

 

13. Chris said:

Keep in mind that King Abdullah II initially blamed Hezbollah for the Israeli-Hezbollah conflict, and then had to back track when public support overwhelmingly differed.

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October 3rd, 2006, 2:30 pm

 

14. Alex said:

interesting.

Joshua what do you think? many people are wondering how come Syria and Iran are such close allies, yet pro_Iran Iraqi government officials often make harsh statements critical of the Syrians.

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October 3rd, 2006, 3:08 pm

 

15. norman said:

Alex ,Joshua answerd that few post back in respose to aquestion i put out for him ,i am glad we think alike.

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October 3rd, 2006, 3:32 pm

 

16. ausamaa said:

Indeed an intersing peice by a Scott Sullivan, another self acclaimed Expert on the Middle East.

As to whom the US is for or against in Iraq, the answer is simple. No body knows, not even the United States.

“Is Iran coordinating its move with new US pressure against Assad and al-Sadr?” To be honest with you Mr. Sullivan, the thought never even crossed my mind. But everything is possible in life. Keep hoping for such things and they may come true.

“As a result, Syria could break up a state”.

It sure could, but it is gonna take a long while for that possibility to become a remote reality. And it will take longer still to see the Kurds (divided among themselves and land-locked between Iran, Syria and Turkey) achieving anything more than biting the dust once again, or at best becoming a self-contained “secure base” for the planned overstay of US forces in the area.

Not only another demonstration of the usual Western misunderstanding of the nature of the area, its people, its governments and its tactical and strategic alliances, but also an excellent example of subconcious Western/Israeli style “wishfull thinking” turned into “political analysis” at its best. Or at its worst.

The Experts forget that we are not in the ninteen-twenties when someone could take a pencil and a ruler and draw up the lines on a map creating this current mess we are all in. I do not think that the existing boundaries of the current states are going to change much except for those relating to Israel and Palestinian areas. But, it does not hurt to keep trying? Would it Mr. Sullivan?

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October 3rd, 2006, 4:52 pm

 

17. Atassi said:

Josh,
Thank you for the good reply , Please keep in mind, The French were an outside occupation forces, with external agendas and mandates, the Syrian population revolted and fought them until gaining the independences.
The Baath and the Assad Clan are an inside occupation elements ( you can call it a team), They have an internal agendas and mandates too. Then are form within .. This Inside occupation forced a more considerable damage to the population over the years then The French outside occupation did..

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October 3rd, 2006, 6:49 pm

 

18. raf* said:

dear josh,

i did not equate the ba’th regime in syria with the stalin regime in the soviet union or the nazi regime in germany. i DID say:

“why do you even CARE about that regime?

so what if they haven’t killed hariri, or if they haven’t had a hand in any of those assassinations in lebanon last year. would that make the regime ANY less bad?

that’s like saying “ohhhh … hitler actually didn’t have anything to do with the destruction of greece, he only killed all those other dozens of millions of people” or “stalin had nothing to do with trotsky’s death” or “saddam didn’t do the anfal campaign” — all of them have moved wayyyyy beyond the red line for decent political/human behavior.

and the same goes for the syrian ba’th regime.

it is responsible for so much death & destruction, slaughter and theft, intimidation and political interference in lebanon that the question of wether it ALSO blew up hariri really is a technicality. unfortunately – for lebanon – it’s the ONLY one that the world community cares about. and hence it’s lebanon’s ONE chance to get at least a symbolic token of justice.

but the syrian regime in & of itself is a (rather ordinary) dictatorship that has no legitimacy and is merely using people like you to “show that the progressive people in the world are with us”.

josh, you’re smarter than that.”

my point, which i really expected you to get, was/is that the syrian regime – just like nazis & the stalinists – has moved way beyond the red line & that it therefore for its JUDGEMENT doesn’t matter whether it killed hariri or not.

i never called the syrian ba’th regime a fascist regime, although i would actually think that it shows fascistoid trappings – it is etatist/corporatist, has a mass party whose ideology is close to social-fascist ideologies of the nazis/bolsheviks, etc.

josh, you KNOW all that. there shouldn’t be any any reason to mention this again.

please do not put words into people’s mouths that they haven’t actually uttered.

and AGAIN, i ask you – why are you taking the side of the regime & try to highlight now benign it was/is in comparison to other regimes?

i don’t believe that the regime can “reform”. but i’m still curious to read just how exactly you think it can or will.

sometimes it seems to me that you can’t or refuse to understand the internal logic and nature of a dictatorship. no, ba’thist syria isn’t like saddam’s iraq. but that’s like saying franco’s spain wasn’t like hitler’s germany. or that saudi arabia isn’t like afghanistan under the taliban.

pity excuses.

–raf*

http://www.aqoul.com

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October 3rd, 2006, 7:44 pm

 

19. Bashar said:

With all due respect to all the comments above, nothing is going to change along the lines of this wishful thinking. You may say all what you like but the current regime is smart enough not to let things get to a “boiling point of no return”.

Two interesting readings I would like to share, one is an article that appeared today in LeMonde with an interesting title: Should we boycot Syria?, denouncing Chirac for not speaking to Assad. The second is actually the report issued in August by the IMF regardging Syria. Despite the challenges (no small ones), there are strong chapters about the ongoing reforms. Wether we like or not, admit it or not, things aremoving forward. We need to stop whining and try to change from within the flow, bcs simply the flow will not change direction, regardless what we daydream.

I’m sorry not to have found an english version of the LeMonde article, but I’ll copy it in French any way. As for the WB report, I’m including the link, it’s free; pay close attention to the sectio on reforms and upcoming reforms (pg. 37-39). Things are moving whatever we want to say.Then today, a new tax law was issued as well, along the lines of the IMF recommendations.

PS: pls spare me the “takhween” speeches, I am pro-govt but a realpolitik.

1)Faut-il boycotter la Syrie ?, par Daniel Vernet
LE MONDE | 03.10.06 | 13h49 • Mis à jour le 03.10.06 | 13h49

Jacques Chirac poursuit les dirigeants syriens de sa vindicte. Depuis l’assassinat de son ami, l’ancien premier ministre libanais Rafic Hariri, en février 2005, le président de la République a rompu les contacts avec Damas. Au rôle de la Syrie dans la mort d’Hariri s’est ajoutée l’attitude de Bachar Al-Assad. Le jeune président n’a visiblement pas su gré à Jacques Chirac des conseils que ce dernier se proposait de lui donner et des excellents rapports qu’il entretenait avec son père. L’ostracisme s’est étendu au chef de l’Etat libanais Emile Lahoud, tenu à l’écart du récent Sommet de la francophonie à Bucarest à cause de ses liens trop étroits avec la Syrie.

Ce refus chiraquien crée une situation peu banale dans les annales internationales. Autant l’influence des bonnes relations personnelles entre hommes d’Etat est souvent surestimée, autant il est rare que les antipathies l’emportent sur les nécessités diplomatiques. Certes les adversaires de la Realpolitik devraient se réjouir. Pour une fois que l’on refuse de parler avec un autocrate peu respectueux des droits de l’homme et de l’indépendance de ses voisins ! D’autres dirigeants étrangers dont les références démocratiques laissent à désirer font malgré tout l’objet d’un traitement attentionné. La liste est longue. On se prend à espérer que dans le cas de la Syrie il ne s’agisse pas seulement d’une animosité personnelle et que cette posture morale se manifeste aussi dans d’autres circonstances.

Il serait malvenu de critiquer l’intransigeance de Jacques Chirac, surtout si l’on se rappelle que les plus hautes autorités de l’Etat ont eu, dans le passé, vis-à-vis d’une Syrie qui n’était pas plus recommandable, une attitude totalement différente. En 1984, François Mitterrand s’est rendu en visite officielle à Damas pour rencontrer le président Hafez Al-Assad, trois ans après l’assassinat à Beyrouth de l’ambassadeur de France Louis Delamare, victime d’un attentat dont tout le monde savait qu’il avait été préparé par les services syriens. En 2000, Jacques Chirac lui-même a été le seul chef d’Etat occidental à assister aux obsèques de ce même Hafez Al-Assad. Ses partisans avaient justifié cette singularité en invoquant la nécessité de manifester “la présence de la France” et de “faire entendre la voix de la paix”. C’est dans le même esprit que, l’année suivante, il avait reçu Bachir en visite d’Etat à Paris.

Le retournement est spectaculaire. Après la dernière guerre du Liban, des ministres européens des affaires étrangères, l’Allemand Steinmeier et l’Espagnol Moratinos, puis le secrétaire général de l’ONU, Kofi Annan, ont fait le voyage de Damas, pour s’enquérir des intentions syriennes après le cessez-le-feu. Bachar Al-Assad leur a prodigué de bonnes paroles qu’il ne faut certainement pas prendre pour argent comptant. Il est cependant regrettable qu’il n’y ait pas eu de ministre français.

Les forces syriennes ont quitté le Liban, en 2005, sous la pression de la communauté internationale, grâce à une entente inédite entre la France et les Etats-Unis. Mais la Syrie continue d’être présente, directement ou indirectement, au pays du Cèdre et d’y influencer des forces politiques. Elle a des liens étroits avec le Hezbollah, qui est en contact avec les forces de la Finul, dont les soldats français, même si ce mouvement est une émanation de l’Iran.

Jacques Chirac répète qu’il faut miser sur le dialogue avec Téhéran, tout en refusant de rencontrer le président Ahmadinejad. A terme, toute solution du conflit israélo-palestinien implique une participation de la Syrie. Dans ces conditions, ne serait-il pas nécessaire de maintenir un canal de discussion avec Damas, malgré les déconvenues, les inimitiés et les préventions légitimes vis-à-vis du régime ? Entre boycottage et complaisance, la France devrait penser à rétablir des relations sans concession.

Daniel Vernet

2)http://www.imf.org/external/pubs/cat/longres.cfm?sk=19525.0

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October 3rd, 2006, 8:41 pm

 

20. REFORMIST said:

هاج العالم الاسلامي وماج بعد تصريحات بابا الفاتيكان الأخيرة.
المسلمون اليوم باتوا يتصيدون زلات لسان هنا وهناك لا لشيء سوى اثارة لفت الانتباه لهم، ليس حبا في الله ولا الرسول. فلا الرسول عليه السلام ينتظر ان ندافع عنه، ولا كلمات البابا ما سيهدد الاسلام او يغير من مكانة النبي الكريم في نفوسنا.
بالتأكيد اخطأ بابا الفاتيكان، لكن هل هو وحده من اخطأ بتصريحاته ضد الاسلام والمسلمين؟
اقول لا..
نحن نخطئ كل يوم اكثر منه بألف مرة.
في كل خطبة جمعة نلعن أبو أبو المسيحيين، وأسلاف اسلاف اليهود.
في كل خطبة جمعة ندعو ان يدمرهم الله ويرمل نسائهم وييتم اطفالهم.
في كل مدرسة نعلم طلابنا ان المسيحيين نجس ومن أهل النار.
في كل بيت نعلم ابنائنا انهم عدونا الأول فإما نقتلهم او يقتلونا.
نحن نحرم حتى الترحم على موتاهم ولو كانوا اهل صلاح وافادوا البشرية، اذ كيف نترحم على كافر؟
نعم.. اخطأ بابا الفاتيكان.
لكننا مثله نخطئ واكثر.
مفتي الازهر، مفتي فلسطين، رجال الدين في السعودية والعالم الاسلامي ككل، أين هم من سماحة الاسلام الذي حث على فعل الخير وعدم ايذاء أهل الذمة ولو باللسان؟
لماذا بقوا صامتين على ما نقول نحن عن المسيحيين وتحركوا يوم تحدث بابا الفاتيكان عن شخص الرسول الكريم؟
نحن نكرر ما حدث يوم نشرت الرسوم الكاريكاتورية في الدنمارك..
نعالج الخطأ بالخطأ.
يوم نشرت الرسوم أقمنا الدنيا وما اقعدناها، حين انه كان يمكن معالجة الأمر بحكمة وروية. كنا بذلك سنكسب تعاطف العالم معنا. لكن ان تصبح تصرفاتنا رعناء، فلن نكسب تعاطف أحد.
لا تقولوا ان التعدي على الرسول عليه السلام اعظم من التعدي على المسيحيين باللفظ والسب، فالأمر لا يختلف كثيرا، اذ أن التعدي على دين سماوي لا يقل خطورة عن التعدي على الرسول الكريم.
نعم اخطأ بابا الفاتيكان، لكن المتحدث باسم الفاتيكان تحدث من فوره في شبه اعتذار للمسلمين، قائلا ان ما قصده البابا حرف عن معناه الحقيقي.
حتى ولو كان هذا التعليق اعتذارا هشا من الفاتيكان ومتحدثه الرسمي، فانه يبقى على الاقل نوع من الاعتذار عن الخطأ أو فالنقل انه ادراك لعمق الخطأ في اسوء الاحوال.
لكني لم اسمع يوما من مفت اسلامي، او أحد شيوخنا، ان سب المسيحيين وشتمهم والدعاء عليهم هو امر لا يجوز، ويتعارض مع سماحة الاسلام. لم اسمع شيخا واحدا يقول ان هذا العمل خاطئ، ومن الاولى غرس المحبة في نفوس ابنائنا وطلابنا.
نعم.. اخطأ البابا
اخطأ كثيرا..
لكننا اخطأنا مثله، وما نزال نخطئ مثله كل جمعة، بل كل يوم.

nakshabandih@hotmail.com

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October 3rd, 2006, 10:22 pm

 

21. Joshua said:

Dear RAF*
Thanks for clearing up the confusion. Obviously I misunderstood your Stalin and Hitler analogies and thought you were comparing them to Syria.

Why do I defend the Syrian regime? First, you misunderstand me when you suggest that I argue that it is innocent of the Hariri murder. I don’t suggest that and never have. I have argued that there isn’t a lot of evidence in the UN reports to suggest that an international court will successfully prosecute Syria for the crime. These are two very different arguments. It is not defending the regime. It is calling the investigation as I see it.

More importantly, you might ask why I don’t encourage the United States or the West in general to push for regime change in Syria as many others do, or, alternatively, why I don’t just remain quite while the regime-changers advocate regime change.

It seems increasingly obvious that the US and the West do not know what they are doing in the Middle East. Any sort of forced regime change driven by forces external to Syria, in my opinion, hold a very high chance of ending up producing something like Iraq, where the cure is worse than the disease.

There are more killings every month in Iraq than there were under Saddam. We are told that torture is more common in Iraq today than under Saddam. The removal of families from their homes and neighborhoods has reached much greater numbers today than under Saddam and there seems no end in sight to the misery Iraqis will encounter, whether in terms of the scale of killing or ethnic cleansing. The exodus from Iraq is larger in scale than it has ever been. We will probably see it become even larger in the future.

We can honestly debate how much worse things are today in Iran than they were under Saddam or how soon it will be before Iraq returns to some sort of stability and normalcy, but I don’t think many Iraqis will argue that the situation is better than it was.

Could Syria go the way of Iraq if it were destabilized? Sure it could. It might not, but who knows? The comments above suggest that it wouldn’t take much provocation for Arab Syrians to drive Kurds from the Jazira.

Farid Ghadry has been calling for Alawites to be driven from Syria’s “Sunni” dominated cities. Thank God, sane opposition elements have had the wisdom to condemn this. But what would happen if summary retribution against regime collaborators broke out after America or some other power toppled the regime? Would Syrians stop at 9,000 executions as the French did in 1945, or would they go further, as the Iraqis are doing with 3 to 4 thousand killings a month!

It is for this reason that I think actually trying to assess the sins of the Syrian Baathist regime as accurately as possible is important. I don’t think it is Saddam’s Iraq, not to mention Hitler’s Germany or Stalin’s USSR. You are more accurate when you compare Syria to Saudi, Egypt, or Jordan. The comparables are, at least, in the ball park.

When someone like True Facts above tries to convince us that the regime has executed “more than 200,000 victims” in Syrian and another 300,000 in Lebanon, we have to believe that he is serious. There are undoubtedly many Lebanese and others who believe such figures. Probably most Americans would believe such figures if told so. If Syria had killed anywhere near as many people as True Facts alleges, my opinion of the regime would be very different, and my attitude toward the many American, Lebanese and Israeli analysts who recommend some kind of military action against Syria, with the objective of bringing down the regime, might be quite different.

At any rate, you see where I am going with this argument. I don’t have much faith in Western Powers bringing democracy to the Middle East. If indigenous organizations or popular revolt manage to change the political balance of power in Syria, I encourage them. If they are strong enough to take on the regime, it probably means that they have the strength to impose some order on society and have moral influence over the masses of Syrians which will allow them to establish order after the regime falls. This is very important in my estimation.

The West put up with the East Bloc countries for 50 years. When their regimes eventually collapsed, they did so relatively painlessly and without great violence or revenge. The moral order of the communist world had been exhausted.

Unfortunately, the moral order of the present lot of authoritarian Arab regimes has not been exhausted, for whatever reason. Most probably, Arabs fear sectarian violence, civil war, national break up, and the like, too much to really line up behind regime change. Many of Syria Comment’s readers believe these are foolish fears fed by self-interested despots.

Maybe they are? But my hunch is that after witnessing America’s great experiment in Iraq, few Arabs are eager to allow foreign forces to experiment with them next.

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October 4th, 2006, 5:31 am

 

22. Karim said:

Dr Landis , Le Monde has published two interesting articles related to Mustapha Tlass’s daughter.

http://www.lemonde.fr/web/article/0,1-0@2-3230,36-819062,0.html

http://www.lemonde.fr/web/article/0,1-0@2-3230,36-819063,0.html

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October 4th, 2006, 7:13 am

 

23. assyrian bio said:

أرامي من سورية السريانية

لقد اعجبني مقال السيد هاني كثيراولقد اصاب الحقيقة بام عينها لقد غزوا هؤلاءالمسلمون العالم بجاهليتهم حاملين سبفهم اينما حلوا , أريد انا اسال هؤلاء المدعين ان الاسلام رسالة محبة و سلام , ماهي ديانة و لغة سور ية قبل احتلا لها من قبل العرب الحملان و العا دلين. من اعطاهم الحق لمحو الحضارة السريانية و لغة رسول السلام عيسى الارامية (السريانية) الم يحاصروا دمشق و اهلها و حمص و تدمر ……..و اسبانية و عاصمة الروم الم يحولوا كنيسة يو حنا المعمدان الى جامع جامع بنى أمية و ألامثلة لاتعد و ل تحصى ألم يصبح ما تبقى من المسيحين غرباء اوطانهم الأصلية , في معظم ألاوقات لقد تم توسع الاسلام على حساب االبلاد المسيحية, حقا, لقد آن الآوان لغالبية المسلمين لقرؤا التاريخ من وجهة نظر موضوعية بعيدا عن غوغاء زرقاوي و قرضاوي وان يعتذرواللشعوب التي أحتلوها و يدفعوا تعو يضات من نفط جزبرتهم للبلدان التي استعمروها . عندئذ يستطيعوا ان يكون شعوب متحضرة. وايضا الكف عن الارهاب المقدس اقول كل هذا و انا الذي ولدت لدى عائلة مسلمة ولكن حرة منفتحة كفاية لتقبل مسيحيتي الجديدة و زواج اختي من ايطالي كاثوليكي وشكرأ ا

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October 4th, 2006, 7:54 pm

 
 

25. Fares said:

karim, thanks for the links, this was an old English article

http://scotlandonsunday.scotsman.com/business.cfm?id=760582003

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October 5th, 2006, 3:45 am

 

26. Hikamt said:

Syrian-American: Islam needs transformation
Psychologist Wafa Sultan tells Danish television: We as Muslims are hostages of our own religion
Yaakov Lappin
Published: 10.06.06, 10:45
Islam in its modern state is a prison for Muslims worldwide, Syrian-American psychologist Wafa Sultan told Danish TV channel DR2 in an interview last week.

“We as Muslim people have been hostages of our own belief system for too many centuries. We have been hostages of our own prison. We have never heard other voices outside of our box. We are not used to hearing other voices. We barely are allowed to hear our own voices,” Sultan said.

During her now famous debate with an Islamic cleric on al-Jazeera in March 2006, Sultan said the clash between the West and Islam was “a clash between human rights, on the one hand, and the violation of these rights, on other hand. It is a clash between those who treat women like beasts, and those who treat them like human beings.”

Addressing the cartoons published in a Danish newspaper of Islam’s prophet, Muhammad, sparking worldwide unrest, Sultan told DR2: “Publishing the cartoons was the first crack in the walls of our prison. Because as a prisoner it’s almost impossible to break the wall of your prison. You need someone outside of your prison to help you break in it.”

“We need to teach them (in the Muslim world) how to listen to other people’s opinions, even if they don’t like what they hear,” Sultan said.

Asked about the cartoon’s “negative aspects,” Sultan replied: “I don’t see any negative. Publishing the cartoons again and again will push Muslims to take deeper look at their religion. And this is the only way to improve our culture, to improve and our religion… So many people criticize Christianity, Judaism, and who cares? So why not Islam.”

‘Islam not only a religion’
“I believe, you know, that the problem with Islam, is deeply routed in its teachings. Islam is not only a religion. Islam is also a political ideology that preaches violence, and applies its agenda by force. I have never criticized the religious part of Islam. I respect the religious part of Islam as much as I respect any religion. But I believe that we have to take the political part of Islam and confine it as a religion to worship places and at homes. This is the only solution,” said Sultan.

Asked about moderates in Arab countries, Sultan replied: “I believe, wrongfully they were called moderates. I don’t believe there are moderate Muslims. Because in Islam you have to believe in every teaching as a holy teaching you cannot change, you have to accept it the way it is, because otherwise simply you are not a Muslim.

Discussing threats sent to her, Sultan told her interviewer: “I receive death threats on a daily basis. And deep in my heart I feel the peace inside me. I’m not afraid. I believe in what I am doing, and I have decided to keep doing it for the rest of my life, even if I have to sacrifice my own life. Because I believe we are here for a purpose, and we’re going to live this life only once, so it has to be a good life. You have to be here for a good reason.”

Asked if Islam had a role to play in the modern world, Sultan said: “I’m going to say it directly… I don’t believe Islam can be reformed, I really don’t. I believe Islam shall be transferred, and it will take fearless religious leaders and very well educated people to cause that transformation. If Islam was transferred absolutely, it will have a role to play.”

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October 6th, 2006, 11:15 am

 

27. Mohsan hmadeh said:

To the blind supporters of the SATAN Hassan Nasralah and his gagsters the coward, who hid in underground holes like mice and rats and stooges of Iran Hizbullah. You ignorant mob and backward medieval people, didn’t you see what he did to our country, having it destroyed by his idiotic policy that Iranian Shoe Shine boy -agi Ahmadi Najad dictates on him and he oblige like a slave. He is the Hitler of Lebanon and you are the natzis that follow him, you will live in hatred and envy and rot as you live and be banished to hell and burn and suffer like this evil man had lead to suffering of his followers the idiot, he has no conscious, he is a heretic as well as are his followers, sooner of later God will banish him and all who follow him to hell to rot

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October 6th, 2006, 6:38 pm

 
 

29. Mardamsd said:

How many years can a mountain exist before it’s washed to the sea
How many years can the Syrian and Iranian people exist, before they’re allowed to be free from the tyranny of the Assad’s and Najad-Ayatulah’s regimes and police state, the answer is sooner than later
In how many years it will take Assad’s regime to liberate the Golan Heights.
The answer is blowing in the wind.

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October 7th, 2006, 11:11 am

 

30. nabil amlmusharaf said:

Syrian-American: Islam needs transformation
Psychologist Wafa Sultan tells Danish television: We as Muslims are hostages of our own religion
Published: 10.06.06, 10:45
Islam in its modern state is a prison for Muslims worldwide, Syrian-American psychologist Wafa Sultan told Danish TV channel DR2 in an interview last week.

“We as Muslim people have been hostages of our own belief system for too many centuries. We have been hostages of our own prison. We have never heard other voices outside of our box. We are not used to hearing other voices. We barely are allowed to hear our own voices,” Sultan said.

During her now famous debate with an Islamic cleric on al-Jazeera in March 2006, Sultan said the clash between the West and Islam was “a clash between human rights, on the one hand, and the violation of these rights, on other hand. It is a clash between those who treat women like beasts, and those who treat them like human beings.”

Addressing the cartoons published in a Danish newspaper of Islam’s prophet, Muhammad, sparking worldwide unrest, Sultan told DR2: “Publishing the cartoons was the first crack in the walls of our prison. Because as a prisoner it’s almost impossible to break the wall of your prison. You need someone outside of your prison to help you break in it.”

“We need to teach them (in the Muslim world) how to listen to other people’s opinions, even if they don’t like what they hear,” Sultan said.

Asked about the cartoon’s “negative aspects,” Sultan replied: “I don’t see any negative. Publishing the cartoons again and again will push Muslims to take deeper look at their religion. And this is the only way to improve our culture, to improve and our religion… So many people criticize Christianity, Judaism, and who cares? So why not Islam.”

‘Islam not only a religion’
“I believe, you know, that the problem with Islam, is deeply routed in its teachings. Islam is not only

a religion. Islam is also a political ideology that preaches violence, and applies its agenda by force. I have never criticized the religious part of Islam. I respect the religious part of Islam as much as I respect any religion. But I believe that we have to take the political part of Islam and confine it as a religion to worship places and at homes. This is the only solution,” said Sultan.

Asked about moderates in Arab countries, Sultan replied: “I believe, wrongfully they were called moderates. I don’t believe there are moderate Muslims. Because in Islam you have to believe in every teaching as a holy teaching you cannot change, you have to accept it the way it is, because otherwise simply you are not a Muslim.

Discussing threats sent to her, Sultan told her interviewer: “I receive death threats on a daily basis. And deep in my heart I feel the peace inside me. I’m not afraid. I believe in what I am doing, and I have decided to keep doing it for the rest of my life, even if I have to sacrifice my own life. Because I believe we are here for a purpose, and we’re going to live this life only once, so it has to be a good life. You have to be here for a good reason.”

Asked if Islam had a role to play in the modern world, Sultan said: “I’m going to say it directly… I don’t believe Islam can be reformed, I really don’t. I believe Islam shall be transferred, and it will take fearless religious leaders and very well educated people to cause that transformation. If Islam was transferred absolutely, it will have a role to play.”

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October 8th, 2006, 10:41 am

 

31. Jamal Abdel Najib said:

Syrian-American: Islam needs transformation
Psychologist Wafa Sultan tells Danish television: We as Muslims are hostages of our own religion
Published: 10.06.06, 10:45
Islam in its modern state is a prison for Muslims worldwide, Syrian-American psychologist Wafa Sultan told Danish TV channel DR2 in an interview last week.

“We as Muslim people have been hostages of our own belief system for too many centuries. We have been hostages of our own prison. We have never heard other voices outside of our box. We are not used to hearing other voices. We barely are allowed to hear our own voices,” Sultan said.

During her now famous debate with an Islamic cleric on al-Jazeera in March 2006, Sultan said the clash between the West and Islam was “a clash between human rights, on the one hand, and the violation of these rights, on other hand. It is a clash between those who treat women like beasts, and those who treat them like human beings.”

Addressing the cartoons published in a Danish newspaper of Islam’s prophet, Muhammad, sparking worldwide unrest, Sultan told DR2: “Publishing the cartoons was the first crack in the walls of our prison. Because as a prisoner it’s almost impossible to break the wall of your prison. You need someone outside of your prison to help you break in it.”

“We need to teach them (in the Muslim world) how to listen to other people’s opinions, even if they don’t like what they hear,” Sultan said.

Asked about the cartoon’s “negative aspects,” Sultan replied: “I don’t see any negative. Publishing the cartoons again and again will push Muslims to take deeper look at their religion. And this is the only way to improve our culture, to improve and our religion… So many people criticize Christianity, Judaism, and who cares? So why not Islam.”

‘Islam not only a religion’
“I believe, you know, that the problem with Islam, is deeply routed in its teachings. Islam is not only

a religion. Islam is also a political ideology that preaches violence, and applies its agenda by force. I have never criticized the religious part of Islam. I respect the religious part of Islam as much as I respect any religion. But I believe that we have to take the political part of Islam and confine it as a religion to worship places and at homes. This is the only solution,” said Sultan.

Asked about moderates in Arab countries, Sultan replied: “I believe, wrongfully they were called moderates. I don’t believe there are moderate Muslims. Because in Islam you have to believe in every teaching as a holy teaching you cannot change, you have to accept it the way it is, because otherwise simply you are not a Muslim.

Discussing threats sent to her, Sultan told her interviewer: “I receive death threats on a daily basis. And deep in my heart I feel the peace inside me. I’m not afraid. I believe in what I am doing, and I have decided to keep doing it for the rest of my life, even if I have to sacrifice my own life. Because I believe we are here for a purpose, and we’re going to live this life only once, so it has to be a good life. You have to be here for a good reason.”

Asked if Islam had a role to play in the modern world, Sultan said: “I’m going to say it directly… I don’t believe Islam can be reformed, I really don’t. I believe Islam shall be transferred, and it will take fearless religious leaders and very well educated people to cause that transformation. If Islam was transferred absolutely, it will have a role to play.”

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October 8th, 2006, 10:42 am

 

32. Abdel Najib ABED said:

Berri soliciting Saudi help

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October 8th, 2006, 9:45 pm

 

33. Abdel Najib ABED said:

Hussein Hajj Hassan, a Hezbollah member of parliament said we thought god was with us to win the war, but he wasn’t , so we lost

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October 8th, 2006, 11:53 pm

 

34. ausamaa said:

Depends which God you believe in, dose it not? And it looks like Berri is trying to find a face saving formula for the Saudies, not exactly seeking their help. But again, it depends on which part of the three-quarter full cup you see. Or like/wish to see…

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October 9th, 2006, 8:45 am

 

35. samia ahhuseini said:

Siniora warned Nasrallah: We’ll end up like Gaza
Hizullah official told Lebanese prime minister, ‘it will calm down in 48 hours,’ but latter was skeptical. Washington Post revisits events leading to war as they unfolded, depicting tensions behind the scenes in Beirut
Hizbullah miscalculated the extent of Israel ‘s reaction to the abduction of the two Israel Defense Forces soldiers, according to an article published Sunday in the Washington Post.
 
The article claims that in the events leading up to the war and during its infancy the organization made a series of miscalculations. Among these: Promises made by organization heads to Lebanese government officials that the conflict would be short lived and would end quickly and the failure to evacuate the civilian population of southern Beirut.
 The article detailed how events unfolded, starting with the kidnapping of Israeli soldiers Ehud Goldwasser and Eldad Regev on July 12th. Shortly after their abduction Lebanese PM Fouad Siniora summoned Hussein Khalil, an aide to Hassan Nasrallah , to his Beirut office.
 “What have you done?” asked a riled Siniora. Khalil tried to calm him, guaranteeing him that “it will calm down in 24-48 hours.”
 But Siniora was skeptical, he reminded Khalil of what was happening in Gaza ever since Palestinian gunmen abducted IDF soldier Cpl. Shalit; attacks on Gaza’s infrastructure including a power station, roads and bridges. But Khalil calmly assured him that “Lebanon is not Gaza.”
 The reality, however, would prove to be different.
Aftermath of IDF attacks on southern Beirut (Photo: AP)
 “They were prisoners of their assumptions,” said Nizar Abdel-Kader, a retired Lebanese general, told the Washington Post. The outcome of the war highlighted both the strengths and weaknesses of Hizbullah.
 The organization misjudged the Israeli response but thanks to its well prepared infrastructure – the result of years spent digging tunnels, upgrading and positioning weaponry and carrying out surveillance operations along the border – Hizbullah survived the war.
 “We were prepared because we always knew that the day would come when we have to fight this war,” Hussein Hajj Hassan, a Hezbullah member of parliament told the Post. “We also knew that God was with us. He was with us.”
 Hizbollah promises to defend Lebanon
The paper reported that early in June Hizbullah leader Nasrallah came to the Lebanese parliament in an attempt to convince them to refrain from disarming the organization – a demand brought on by United Nations Security Council Resolution 1559 from September 2004.
 Nasrallah stated that it is best for his organization to stay armed so that they could help defend Lebanon in the case of a conflict with Israel. According to Nasrallah, leaving the organization as it is would help maintain the “balance of fear” between the two countries and provide support for the Lebanese army which cannot handle the Israeli army.
Bridge destroyed by IDF. Nasrallah spoke of need to kidnap soldiers (Photo: AP)
 When legislators demanded explanations from Narallah in an additional session which took place on June 29th the Hizbullah leader said, “I can reach Haifa and beyond Haifa,” Marwan Hamadeh, the telecommunications minister and a critic of Hizbollah told the Washington Post.
 Israel would not risk a Hizbullah missile attack, Nasrallah added, which could strike sensitive facilities and heavily populated areas.
 At the time, much of Nasrallah’s words were hypothetical and parliament felt secure that Hizbullah would not ruin the Lebanese tourist season, one of the country’s main sources of income.
 “He said this summer would be a quiet summer,” Hamadeh told the Post. “He said all the actions they would do would be reminders of their (Hizbollah’s) existence.”
 It didn’t draw the attention of anyone at all,” Said parliament member Boutros Harb, “he mentioned it like you’d write in the margins of a text.”
 According to former UNIFIL spokesman Timor Goksel Hizbullah “might have been surprised by the Israeli response, but they were prepared for it.”
 He told the Post that the weaponry used by the organization during the war was already deployed on the ground, ready for action. Almost three months later the war broke out. Hizbullah’s timing still remains a mystery, according to Goskel.
 “They don’t attempt adventures. They’re not adventurous types,” he said, explaining that they take into account what any operation would mean for Shiites, what it would mean for the party, what it would mean for Lebanon and what it would mean for Syria.

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October 9th, 2006, 6:28 pm

 
 
 

38. Dilovan said:

Hey Big Lads!

Hope youve heard of Saleem Barakat, he says “Though my Arab teacher was saying to me always” You Kurds must go back to Turkey”, Ive never said to him that The Arabs must go back to the Arab peninsula”.

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January 21st, 2007, 3:12 pm

 

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