Leaving for Syria

I am setting out for Syria today and will stop in Rome for several days followed by travel in Syria to Latakia and the Beit al-Murj in the mountains to visit Manar’s family. We will be continuing our on-going language experiment. Kendall Shaaban learned to speak ARabic passibly during the summer of 2007 when he spent two months in Syria. He promptly forgot how to speak on returning to the US. He has a good passive knowlege of Arabic because Manar speaks to him in Arabic at home. His accent when trying to speak now is very American. He will spend two months in a totally ARabic speaking environment this summer, playing with cousins and among family. Will his Arabic spring right back to what it was? He should learn new grammar rules and vocabulary as he develops speaking skills. We will see and I will report to you at the end of the summer. Little Jonah Firas does not speak any language yet, eccept for “biddi” and “dada’, etc.

Alex and Ehsani will pick up some of the slack on Syria Comment while I am out of commission. I am not sure when I will be able to post again and report on my first impressions from Syria.


News Round Up

Hezbollah Denies Involvement in Al-Hariri’s Killing
2009-05-24, By Alaa Shahine

May 24 (Bloomberg) — Hezbollah, the Iranian-backed Lebanese group and political party, denied German newsmagazine Der Spiegel’s report that it was involved in the killing of Rafiq Al-Hariri, Lebanon’s former prime minister. The report is a “fabrication” intended to “influence the electoral atmosphere in Lebanon,” Hezbollah said today in a statement in Beirut. The Shiite Muslim group, which has representatives in the current Lebanese cabinet and parliament as well as an armed wing, and its allies may emerge strengthened in parliamentary elections taking place on June 7.

[SYR] Microsoft blocks Messenger access to Syria and Iran

Microsoft has confirmed that it is blocking Windows Live Messenger access to users in Syria and Iran in the Middle East, as well as Sudan, Cuba and North Korea. It cited that they are “subject to United States sanctions” without providing further details. Industry analysts questioned the timing behind move however, pointing out that many of these sanctions date back eight years or more.

Turkey Raises Water Flow to Syria as Wheat Crop Fails to Meet Expectations:Turkey has agreed to increase the water flow from the Euphrates River to Syria and Iraq, according to Turkey’s Foreign Minister Ahmad Davutoglu.

Economy: FDI Cross the USD 1 billion Mark for the First Time
Foreign Direct Investment crossed the USD 1 billion mark last year for the first time, according to statistics from the Central Bank of Syria

The Syrian Stock Market expands trading to three days in an effort to increase liquidity. It also opens up to foreign brokers. See the following article from syria-news in Arabic

السماح لشركات الوساطة والأجانب بالتداول .. وثلاث جلسات بالاسبوع بدلا من اثنتين

الاخبار الاقتصادية

جليلاتي: من شأن هذه المحفزات أن تنشط التداول

أكّد المدير التنفيذي لسوق دمشق للأوراق المالية د.محمد جليلاتي لـ”سيريانيوز” أنّ إدارة السوق لن تقف مكتوفة الأيدي تجاه ضعف التداولات التي تشهدها السوق منذ افتتاحها مطلع آذار الماضي، وأن هناك جملة من المحفزات -قيد النقاش حالياً- من شأنها تنشيط التداول عند اعتمادها.

ولم تُسجل سوق دمشق تداولات كبيرة خلال الجلسات السابقة، وبقي يحوم ضمن نطاق سقفه 3 ملايين تقريباً، ليسجل مؤخراً قفزة وصلت إلى 12 مليون ليرة تقريباً ثم عاد ليهوي مجدداً.

وكشف جليلاتي في تصريح خاص بـ”سيريانيوز” أنً إدارة السوق رفعت عدة مقترحات إلى هيئة الأوراق والأسواق المالية لأخذ الموافقة والمباشرة بتطبيقها في أقرب وقت، “وأهم هذه المقترحات هو السماح لشركات الوساطة المالية ممّن حصل على ترخيص (الوسيط لحسابه) بالتداول على أسهم المصارف -التي تحتاج إلى إعادة نظر- كصانع سوق”.

Comments (103)

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1. Off the Wall said:

Joshua and Family
Ma7mooleen Bel-salameh Inshalla

The Syrian Stock Market expands trading to three days in an effort to increase liquidity. It also opens up to foreign brokers. See the following article from syria-news in Arabic

Way to go Ehsani, seems like some one is listening to your free advice.

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May 25th, 2009, 6:20 pm


2. t_desco said:

Erich Follath actually claims that Nasrallah killed Hariri because he hates Sunnis, because the latter was a member of the Sunni community!!!

I had overlooked it in the English translation, but it’s unmissable in the German version:

“Ausserdem stand er fuer alles, was der (…) Hisbollah-Chef hasst: (…) die Zugehoerigkeit zur sunnitischen Glaubens-“Konkurrenz”.
(Erich Follath, “Der zweite Kreis der Hoelle”, Spiegel 22/2009, p.104).

“He stood for everything the (…) Hezbollah leader hated: (…) membership in the competing Sunni faith.”

“Zugehoerigkeit” (“belonging”) is more emotionally laden than “membership”.

What a detestable piece of crap!!! How can anyone still say that this “journalist” is “knowledgeable” about the region?

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May 25th, 2009, 7:56 pm


3. norman said:

The conference of Islamic states is calling for a peace with strength,Let us see if they can move,

Syria, Israel At Impasse Over Golan Heights?
Posted by George Baghdadi | 1

Syria’s foreign minister said on Monday his country would not go back to peace talks with Israel unless it spells out it would relinquish the Golan Heights and urged the United States to translate its words into actions on the ground.

“We will not return to unproductive talks. When we decide to do so, this means that we will be going in accordance with internationally-recognized bases and formulas, on the basis of the total liberation of the Golan to the 4th of June 1967 borderline,” Walid al-Mouallem told a news conference at the end of a three-day meeting of the 57-member Organization of the Islamic Conference in the Syrian capital.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Wednesday after meeting with U.S. President Barack Obama in Washington that he was ready to resume the talks with Syria immediately, but indicated he would not make any commitments on land first.

Turkey brokered four rounds of indirect talks between the two foes last year – the first such contacts since previous peace negotiations were broken off in 2000 over the fate of the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights.

But Syria froze the contacts at the turn of the year when Israel launched a devastating offensive against the Gaza Strip, controlled since June 2007 by the Islamist Hamas movement, whose exiled leader, Khaled Meshaal, lives in Damascus.

Mr. Obama, as revealed by Jordan’s King Abdullah, was promoting a plan involving a 57-state solution in which the entire Muslim world would recognize Israel in return for peace.

“We have been hearing talks from the U.S. administration and we want to see actions. We want to see a comprehensive working plan that would lead at the end to the security and stability of the region,” Mouallem said Monday.

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad on Saturday championed the right of resistance to get back occupied lands, branding the “extreme” Israeli government as a “major obstacle” to peacemaking in the Middle East.

An off-shoot committee of the OIC foreign ministers held a series of meetings over the past three days, denouncing the “inhuman” Israeli practices against the Palestinian people and affirming their right to establish an independent Palestinian state with Jerusalem as its capital.

“We are living today in a world of the powerful where there is no place for the weak. Power is acquired and not granted,” the final communiqué said.

“Israeli inhuman practices require us all not compensate it over its crimes but to ensure that any development in relations – if any exist at all – to the concrete expression of Israel’s commitment to just and comprehensive peace, which would guarantee the restoration of legitimate national rights and withdrawal from the occupied lands in Palestine, Golan, and southern Lebanon,” it said.

The final statement denounced the resolutions that tie terrorism with race and religion and called for a UN-sponsored conference to identify terrorism.

“We have all cooperated to confront terrorism as dangerous global phenomenon. This however does not mean that we should allow it to be exploited, made an open manipulation tool to call resistance a form of terrorism and to resort to intimidation and browbeating under the title ‘Security in Combating Terrorism’,” it said.

“Terrorism to be sure, is not a security issue but rather and ideological one with its political, security, and even cultural manifestation .Combating it therefore cannot be by fighting the manifestations but by addressing its core and causes,” it added.

The OIC, which is headed by its incumbent Secretary General Dr. Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu, is an international organization with a permanent delegation at the United Nations. It groups 57 member states, from the Middle East, Africa, Central Asia, the Caucasus region, the Balkans, Southeast Asia, South Asia and South America.

The Islamic Conference of Foreign Ministers meets once a year to examine a progress report on the implementation of its decisions taken within the framework of policy defined by the Islamic Summit.

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May 25th, 2009, 8:37 pm


4. majid said:

No Mig 31 for Syria. US and zionists don’t like Syria with Mig 31. Russia goes along.

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May 26th, 2009, 12:12 am


5. norman said:


This is for you,


Syria says MiG jet deal with Russia still on
24 May, 16:32
DAMASCUS, May 24 (Reuters) – Syria denied on Sunday a Russian media report that Moscow no longer wants to sell it eight advanced MiG-31 planes because of pressure from Israel.

“This is part of attempts to undermine the friendly relations and cooperation between Syria and Russia,” an official Syrian statement said.

The statement was issued as Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov visited the Syrian capital and met Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

Kommersant newspaper quoted an unidentified person close to Russia’s state arms exporter as saying that the $500-million deal, agreed to in 2007, was halted after Israel protested.

The paper quoted another source in an unidentified Russian ministry as saying the contract had been halted because Syria could not come up with the money to pay for the fighters.

Syria, which has adhered to a ceasefire with Israel on the Golan Heights since 1974, has been trying to upgrade its military in the last several years.

Contact us Copyright © 2000 -2008 “Bigmir-Internet”.All rights protected by Ukrainian laws.

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May 26th, 2009, 12:25 am


6. majid said:

Do you have corroboration from a Russian Government source? They are the ones who are supposed to deny the story.

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May 26th, 2009, 12:57 am


7. majid said:

You should know why the story is important. You know what the zionists were trying to do last fall? they were trying to buy the Georgian Government to their side in order to use its territory as a launch pad against Iran. But Russia screwed up their plan when they moved in and uncovered the zionist evil plot.
But recently there have been developments in Georgia which Russia didn’t like. You know the zionists never give up. Could they have struck a deal of some sort with Russia to carry out their plan against Iran? You never know. That is why it is important to find out.
But I am sure Ahmedinejjad will destroy them and send them to the moon and rid the world of their evil once and for all. The guy has the Mahdi (A.S.) on his side. So who on earth can match his power and reach? You think a few zionist destitutes can challenge that? They don’t know what they’re up to!!!

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May 26th, 2009, 1:20 am


8. Shami said:

T Desco ,do u doubt of the hatred of Nasrollah ?
Those are not less dangerous than the zionists.
One thing is sure ,It’s Syria(this regime or the next) that will destroy Hizbollah not the zionists.
How you call a man who declared some months ago that he has proof that the party of Jumblatt and its important men were spies for Israel during the 2006 war and today he say absolutely the opposite ?
Is that not a big hypocrit ?

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May 26th, 2009, 1:50 am


9. Abu Shami said:

Shami, March 14 lackey

The biggest hypocrite is the oily haired Junior Hariri and his Sunni and Salafi followers, along with their Saudi sugar daddies

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May 26th, 2009, 3:11 am


10. Shai said:


Some friends you have…

“… and uncovered the zionist evil plot.”

“You know the zionists never give up.”

“But I am sure Ahmedinejjad will destroy them and send them to the moon and rid the world of their evil once and for all.”

“You think a few zionist destitutes can challenge that?”

“They don’t know what they’re up to!!!”

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May 26th, 2009, 3:40 am


11. majedkhaldoun said:

Very few are talking about the spies of Israel in Lebanon,probably that is what Der Spiegel intended.

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May 26th, 2009, 4:16 am


12. majid said:

Shai said,

Some friends you have…

I thought you have some brains. It looks like you have zilch.

You really think an Arab and a zionist can be friends?

But never mind. Now I have a confirmation of this theory:

“There is a new theory which seeks to explain why the words zionist and zombie share the same page in the English dictionary. There is an emerging consensus that the two words have more in common than just having fallen by accident into that same page. There are striking similarities, people are saying, between a zionist and a zombie. In particular, the proponents of the theory point out to the definition of the word zombie: “a person held to resemble the so-called walking dead or a person markedly strange in appearance or behavior” as it appears in the dictionary to be equally applicable to the zionist (notice that I am using a non capital letter z on purpose).”

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May 26th, 2009, 5:10 am


13. Yossi (AKA Rumyal) said:


Have a safe trip!

>>> Will his Arabic spring right back to what it was?

My experience with my kids and knowledge of Hebrew is that not only they re-learn what has faded into the back of their minds but actually they’d top it off with new knowledge. Over the years they really learned to appreciate the two languages that they speak and they started consciously playing with language e.g. deliberately speaking English with heavy Hebrew accent (that they don’t normally have), or watching shows like Sponge Bob in Hebrew and seeing how the jokes are translated from English to Hebrew, stuff like that. It’s great to grow up bilingual.

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May 26th, 2009, 5:24 am


14. Shai said:


I join Yossi in wishing you a great trip. Please tell everyone you meet that you know of (at least) two Israelis that very much want and believe in peace… 🙂

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May 26th, 2009, 5:30 am


15. Shami said:

MajidKhaldoun ,Lebanon has succeded in what the biggest mukhabarati states in the region have failed dramatically in(they are more interested to spy on poor civilians) .We should not forget that these arrests are the work of the lebanese internal security forces dominated by people close to 14 March.(Hariri)
I’m just curious why Nasrollah has called for the quick execution ,the shias first,does he fears that they speak more ?
And btw ,what is the difference between spies for the iranian regime and spies for the zionist regime ?

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May 26th, 2009, 5:55 am


16. Shami said:

Happy Vacations Dr Landis to you and your nice familly ,i watched a video of you in the site of your wonderful university in which you said that you may meet Bashar this summer ,if this meeting happens ,plz tell him our concerns.

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May 26th, 2009, 6:34 am


17. t_desco said:

Fatah al-Islam directly linked to al-Qa’ida (via Abu Talha):

Kuwaiti Detainee Admits He Was Assigned to Set Up Lebanon Qaida Branch

Kuwaiti detainee Mohammed al-Dousari has confessed to being assigned to set up Qaida branch in Lebanon, the Kuwaiti daily Al Rai reported Monday.

Al Rai, citing well-informed sources, said Dousari, better known by his nickname “Abu Talha,” has acknowledged he was seeking to establish Qaida branch in Lebanon with the aim of carrying out logistics work and open supply routes to militants.

It said Lebanese army intelligence referred to the military judiciary four months ago Dousari as well as two other detainees, including a Syrian.

Following weeks of interrogation about their suspicious presence in Lebanon, the three confessed to being tasked with setting up Qaida branch in Lebanon, according to al-Rai.

It said the three made their way into Lebanon via land with forged Arab passports.

Al Rai said Dousari had been sentenced in Kuwait to seven years in prison, but managed to escape to Iran.

Dousari was in charge of providing logistical support for Qaida in Jordan, Syria, Kuwait, Iraq and Saudi Arabia, according to the report by the Kuwaiti paper.

Abu Talha was also linked to Nabil Rahim, who, according to some reports, was himself linked to the Hariri assassination.

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May 26th, 2009, 7:22 am


18. Amir in Tel Aviv said:

[deleted by admin]

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May 26th, 2009, 9:06 am


19. Akbar Palace said:

Some friends you have…


cc: Majid

IMHO, Majid’s words and sentiments are shared by most of the participants here. Not much difference except perhaps the choice of words. As much as I respect Majid’s intolerance with Arab governmental policies and support for terrorism, I am 100% against his intolerance of Israel.

We could take a survey and see who recognizes Israel and who doesn’t on this forum. That would be fun, no?

You really think an Arab and a zionist can be friends?


There are plenty of Arabs who are friends of Israel, both inside and outside of Israel. Of course this is a minority view, but there are few absolutes in this world.

In any case, your question is the best example of why Israelis are so careful about signing a peace treaties (like the one they signed with Egypt and Jordan).

Professor Josh,

Have a good time in Al-Shams. Stay safe. Please send my warmest of regards to the President-for-Life, and offer him my congratulations for promoting the “Peace of the Brave” despite the current “hard line” Zionist government (and all the other Zionist governments preceeding this one).

Keep us abreast of the “Peace Studies” aspect of your title. We don’t want to miss those little subtleties.

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May 26th, 2009, 12:13 pm


20. Shai said:


Thank you for the clarification. I believe most Israelis also share a fantasy of waking up one morning and finding that all Arabs have mysteriously evaporated off the face of this planet. But it’s one thing to “fantasize”, and a whole other thing to voice that fantasy.

Normally those who voice such hopes do not turn pragmatic and, therefore, are removing themselves from participating in any real or constructive dialogue.

Btw, I’ve been meaning to ask you this before, but why do you continue to insult your host on this blog? Maybe I’m not reading you correctly, but it seems that way to me.

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May 26th, 2009, 1:34 pm


21. Majid said:

[deleted by admin]

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May 26th, 2009, 1:46 pm


22. majedkhaldoun said:

what is the difference between spies for the iranian regime and spies for the zionist regime ?

I am sunni,and I consider the shiaa are just like christians,christian believe God has son,and Shiite believe God has WALI, both do not make sense, and in Quran,it says very clearly God has no son,no equal and no wali.(the last verse in Israa)
but Israel is the worst enemy,who occupied the palastinian land by force,Iran,as far as Lebanon, is not an enemy.It is an enemy as far as Iraq,and Dubai,as it occupies Alhamra region,and some Islands.

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May 26th, 2009, 2:23 pm


23. zriria said:

14. Shami said:

.We should not forget that these arrests are the work of the lebanese internal security forces dominated by people close to 14 March.(Hariri)

I don’t think that they(ISF)can monitor people 1 year long in Hizb areas without Hizb know.So maybe was ISF and Hizb together work these arrests.

I’m just curious why Nasrollah has called for the quick execution ,the shias first,does he fears that they speak more ?

Maybe he want show equal justice.

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May 26th, 2009, 3:27 pm


24. Akbar Palace said:

I believe most Israelis also share a fantasy of waking up one morning and finding that all Arabs have mysteriously evaporated off the face of this planet.


I don’t know 1 Israeli or Jew who has the “fantasy of waking up one morning and finding that all Arabs have mysteriously evaporated off the face of this planet”.

I DO know plenty of Israelis or Jews who have the fantasy of the Arabs/Israelis/Palestinians agreeing to peace and a border acceptable to both sides.

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May 26th, 2009, 4:02 pm


25. Shami said:

MajidKhaldun,it’s not only a religious problem,ok they are rafida but that doesnt mean that we should slaughter them,Iran is playing a dirty game in Iraq( which is by far more important than Lebanon) and in the region in order to get his deal with the USA and Israel,and the victims in the end will be the shia minorities in the arab world.
Nasrollah is nothing else ,than a puppet of the iranian regime ,which had several deals with Israel in the past.
As for the christians in the middle east ,they are part of us and not puppets for hostile forces or fifth column.
Listen to this : http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T82VD8YsF6o

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May 26th, 2009, 4:34 pm


26. Shai said:


“I don’t know 1 Israeli or Jew who has the “fantasy of waking up one morning and finding that all Arabs have mysteriously evaporated off the face of this planet”.”

This isn’t comedy hour, is it?

I’m sure your Efrat Settler-buddies see, in their fantasy, Jews and Arabs living happily (and equally) together. Maybe that’s why there are 600 road-blocks in the West Bank – to enable Settlers many opportunities to express their respect for the Arab population, and their sincere wishes for peace…

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May 26th, 2009, 4:44 pm


27. majid said:

Shami and MajedKhaldoun,

I do not have a problem with your discussion. But I have a problem with the use of certain words that should not be used. For example, what happened to all these good expressions: occupied Palestine, zionist entity, etc…

Should we not refer to things with their proper names, and call them they way they should properly be called? Otherwise there will be lots of confusion and we wouldn’t know who is who and where is what!! Come on guys.

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May 26th, 2009, 4:46 pm


28. jad said:

“both do not make sense”
cc Shami,
How about both of you stick to your Sunni verses Shia difference obsession and stay away from the Christian faith, it’s not in your jurisdiction.
Both of you have no right neither knowledge to judge any religion from your own ‘personal’ narrow point of view.
Could you please spare us your from your ‘humble’ views and judgment, we had enough already.

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May 26th, 2009, 5:01 pm


29. Akbar Palace said:

I’m sure your Efrat Settler-buddies see, in their fantasy, Jews and Arabs living happily (and equally) together. Maybe that’s why there are 600 road-blocks in the West Bank – to enable Settlers many opportunities to express their respect for the Arab population, and their sincere wishes for peace…

I’m sure your Efrat Settler-buddies see, in their fantasy, Jews and Arabs living happily (and equally) together.


Sure. Why not?

Maybe that’s why there are 600 road-blocks in the West Bank – to enable Settlers many opportunities to express their respect for the Arab population, and their sincere wishes for peace…


All I know is that if there is peace, there would be no need for road-blocks or walls.

Of course I don’t need to tell you, that before Israel had access to East Jerusalem, the Old City, the Western Wall, the West Bank and Gaza, there was no peace at that time as well.

So, if you can think of some other excuses, I’m all ears.

And the fanatics on this website and much of the Arab Street aren’t going to make peace no matter what size “the Zionist Entity” is. Unless you know something I don’t.

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May 26th, 2009, 5:03 pm


30. t_desco said:

Curiouser and curiouser:

Der Spiegel Report Published on Syriatruth.Net 6 Months Ago

Hanan Awarekeh

26/05/2009 The report published by the German magazine Der Spiegel days ago concerning an alleged “involvement” of Hezbollah in the assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafiq Hariri was not a scoop since the Syriatruth.net electronic site published the same information six months ago.

This site, run by the Syrian opposition figure who lives in France, Nizar Nayyouf, has attributed its information to a high-ranking judicial source in the Special Tribunal for Lebanon (STL) as Der Spiegel has exactly done.

The Syriatruth.net has predicted since the 24th of December 2008 that the STL would release the four Lebanese officers right after it assumes the authority from the Lebanese judiciary. The report also said that the indictment would point out to Hezbollah figures and it mentioned the same names of Der Spiegel’s. The site also attributed its information to what it described as “a chief legal officer” at the STL. Moreover, it used the term “Hezbollah special forces” and reported the name of Hezbollah military commander martyr Imad Moghniyyeh (Hajj Redwan who was assassinated in February 2008)… literally copied by the German magazine.

Syriatruth.net claimed that “when the International Tribunal starts next March” (last March), it would accuse Hezbollah, its military commander martyr Moghniyyeh and figures from the “resistance party’s special forces”.

The site also presented the same data, copied by Spiegel, concerning the phone links issue and the names of the first and second sections of the report as it called them “the first circle of hell and the second”, and it also mentioned the same names of Hezbollah figures.

If Der Spiegel’s report was not published after the release of the four officers, the Abdel Aal brothers and Ibrahim Jarjoura, it would have published what the site reported on 24 December 2008 when it quoted a high-ranking French diplomatic source as saying that that those detainees would be released, adding that that probe committee has proved that the four officers’ detention was nothing but “a political- intelligence trap”.

The only difference between the two reports, apart from the six-month difference in timing, is that the Spiegel’s report focused on the allegations’ repercussions on the Lebanese parliamentary elections while the Syriatruth.net report promoted the defamation of Hezbollah’s image among the public opinion especially that Israeli has exploited these claims and started to promote them as well.

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May 26th, 2009, 6:53 pm


31. Alex said:


Syriatruth publishes quite a few sensational stories .. some turn out to be true, most others seem to be nothing more than … stories.

But the amazing part is that large, “respectable” newspapers and magazines often publish exclusive stories that turn out to be copies of stories published earlier on Syria truth

Here is another example where Asharq Alawsat, the largest Saudi and Arab newspaper, published a copy of a story from Syria truth that wa one year old, the Saudi Story claimed to be recent information leaked from that took place at the meeting between the Iranian and Syrian presidents that same week.


note; I just realized that Asharq’s link to the original story seems to have disappeared, but you might be able to find it by googling keywords.

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May 26th, 2009, 7:08 pm


32. Alex said:

President Obama will visit Saudi Arabia next week.

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May 26th, 2009, 7:22 pm


33. Alex said:

By Ali Sheikholeslami

May 26 (Bloomberg) — (moderate) Mir Hossein Mousavi leads incumbent Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in a poll in major cities in advance of the country’s June 12 presidential election, Iranian state Press TV reported.

Mousavi, a former prime minister, is ahead of Ahmadinejad
by 4 percentage points in the 10 cities, with about 38 percent
saying they will vote for him, against Ahmadinejad’s 34 percent,
Press TV said, citing a report by Ayandeh News.

In a separate poll conducted last week by state broadcaster
IRIB, Mousavi also led in Tehran, with 47 percent of the
capital’s vote, while Ahmadinejad followed with 43 percent,
Press TV said.

Mehdi Karrubi, the former speaker of the parliament, and
Mohsen Rezai, the ex-commander-in-chief of the revolutionary
Guards, are also contending in the election, Press TV said.

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May 26th, 2009, 7:23 pm


34. majid said:

Interesting T_Desco

I am very curious still T_Desceo and I don’t know if you can help with your uncanny penchant for curiosity. My curiosity concerns those Tripoli men with the criminal cell phones that were hanging in their pockets. My sources tell me that these are called Ahbash. I am also told that they are presumably Sunnis. However, they seem to be a different breed of Sunnis that are not very liked by the mainstream Sunnis of Lebanon and they are particularly loathed by the Saudis. But my sources also tell me that these Ahbash have very good relations with the Syrian Government. And these same sources also tell me the Syrian Government had often used these groups as a Trojan horse to do its biddings inside Lebanon, and they are good mules for the Syrians particularly when it comes to the all famous and well known game of deniability as well as a good propaganda ploy to use non-authentic Sunnis, but still use the word Sunni since very few in the West know these little differences, to confuse Sunnis with terrorists as in S. Hersch’s essay for example. What do you think?

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May 26th, 2009, 7:26 pm


35. Alex said:

Surprising news .. it seems 2008 was an excellent year for Syria’s oil production .. and it seems Syria’s oil reserves are increasing and not decreasing rapidly as previously feared

إنتاج وتصدير وأسعار…وأيضاً مخزون
2008 هو العام الذهبي للنفـط السـوري بامتيـاز

نعم إنه العام الذهبي لإنتاج وتصدير النفط في سوريا، فبعد سنوات من الأخذ والرد عن اقتراب نفاد المخزون الاستراتيجي للنفط في سوريا، وبعيد التراجع الشديد في الإنتاج خلال السنوات القليلة الماضية، أطل العام 2008 ببشائر كثيرة على قطاع النفط في سوريا، سجلت نقاطاً إيجابية في العديد من المجالات، مع تفاوت أهميتها، من عودة مسيرة الارتفاع لأرقام الإنتاج، إلى الزيادة الكبيرة في كمية الصادرات، إلى طفرة القيم ومن ثم إلى المخازين الاستراتيجية.

و في التفاصيل القادمة تبين من خلال الدراسة التالية التي اعتمدت على آخر الأرقام المتوفرة لدينا من قبل بيانات الشركة السورية للنفط والمجموعة السورية للإحصاء وبعض تقارير جامعة الدول العربية إضافة إلى إحصاءات كل من منظمتي الأوابك العربية، والأوبك الدولية.

أولاً: الإنتاج:

وصل وسطي الإنتاج اليومي للعام الماضي إلى (382) ألف برميل يومياً، تشارك في إنتاجها كل من الشركة السورية للنفط، والشركات الأجنبية العاملة في البلاد، وتشير بيانات الشركة السورية للنفط، بأن إنتاجها (الذي يفوق نصف الإنتاج الكلي بقليل) في العام الماضي قد وصل إلى (71) مليون برميل مع نسبة إنجاز قاربت (100 %) من الخطة المقترحة في بداية العام، وإذا ما أضيف لهذه الأرقام إنتاج الشركات العاملة في سوريا سيبلغ الإنتاج السوري للنفط إلى ما يقارب حوالي (135) مليون برميل في العام الماضي، كأعلى الأرقام المسجلة خلال السنوات الثلاث الماضية.

وبمقارنة حجم هذا الإنتاج مع السنوات الماضية، نلاحظ ارتفاعاً ملموساً في قيمة الإنتـــاج مـــن (364) ألــــف برميـــل يوميــاً في العام الماضي، وبنحو (5 %) خلال عام.

وإن كانت هذه الزيادة المسـجلة لم ترقَ بعد إلــى الأرقام السابقة التـــي كان يسـجلها إنتاج النفط في البلاد، والتي وصلت معدلاتها في تسـعينيات القرن الماضــي بيـــن 550 – 600 ألف برميل يوميـاً، إلا أن معاودة الارتفاع في الإنتاج في هذا الوقت بالذات، بعد ست سنوات متواصلة من الانخفاض منذ العام 2003 تحديداً (راجع الرسم البياني الأول) إنما جاء ليخالف بذلك التقارير الدولية السابقة التي طالما نوه بها خبراء صندوق النقد الدولي بأن الإنتاج النفطي في سوريا سيبدأ بالانحدار في مسيرته الآيلة إلى الزوال في السنوات القليلة القادمة، ففي أول تقرير لصندوق النقد الدولي عن سوريا (وفق مشاورات المادة الرابعة) والذي سبق لـ(أبيض وأسود) أن نشرته في عددها رقم (150)، توقع الخبراء حينها أن ينحدر إنتاج النفط في سوريا ليلامس حاجز (300) ألف برميل في العام القادم، والتي رسموا على أساسها سيناريوهاتهم المعروفة التي أوصت نتائجها بإزالة الدعم عن المشتقات النفطية في تقرير صندوق النقد الشهير بداية العام الماضي.

ثانياً: زيادة الكميات التصديرية:

تعد كمية الصادرات النفطية في سوريا من المؤشرات التي تركت أكثر من انطباع حسن لدى دراسة القطاع النفطي خلال العام الماضي، وخاصة إذا ما قورنت بالخطط المتوقعة للكميات التصديرية في بداية العام، وهنا فنحن لا نتحدث عن القيم التي يعرف الجميع بأن ارتفاع الأسعار كان العامل الأساسي في زيادتها، بل نتحدث عن الكميات المصدرة، فقد أشارت الشركة السورية للنفط في بياناتها التصديرية عن العام 2008 بأنها قد حققت زيادة في كمية صادراتها النفطية مقارنة مع الكمية المخططة، وصلت إلى (145 %) بالنسبة إلى النفط السوري الخفيف، و(109 %) بالنسبة للنفط السوري الثقيل، وهذا يعني بصورة أخرى بأن إنتاج النفط الموجه إلى المصافي السورية لتلبية الطلب الداخلي قد انخفض بنفس النسبة (طالما أن الأرقام المخطط للإنتاجها بقيت على حالها كما أشرنا في الفقرة الأولى)، هذا الأمر الذي يمكن إعادته إلى تراجع حجم الطلب المحلي الناتج عن انخفاض التهريب بعيد رفع أسعار المشتقات وخاصة المازوت، الذي أوقف على ما يبدو التهريب الخارجي الذي كان يتم عليه.

وإن كانت كميات النفط المصدرة ثابتة تقريباً في أرقامها منذ العام 2003 عند وسطي (250) ألف برميل يومياً فإن الكميات المصدرة هذا العام لابد وأن حققت طفرة في الكميات الفعلية عن تلك المخططة.

ثالثاً: طفرة القيم السعرية:

لعل أكثر الأرقام المتميزة التي حققها القطاع النفطي في سوريا خلال العام الماضي إنما تعود لقيم الناتج النفطية، وخاصة في ظل طفرة الأسعار التي تحققت خلال ذلك العام، فبالنسبة للشركة السورية للنفط (لوحدها) ودون إضافة الحصة من إنتاج الشركات العاملة (والتي لا تتوفر أرقام عن قيمتها حالياً) فإن الإنتاج الإجمالي للشركة وصل إلى (300) مليار ليرة سورية، كأعلى رقم على الإطلاق خلال سنوات عمل الشركة، وبنسب تنفيذ وصلت إلى ما يقارب (200 %) من الخطة الموضوعة، أي وبلغة أبسط فإن (150) ملياراً من ناتج الشركة لم تكن متوقعة في بداية العام، وعليه فإن الزيادة في قيمة الأسعار العالمية أولاً، والزيادة في كميات التصدير ثانياً قد أدت إلى توفر (150) مليار ليرة سورية (أكثر من «3» مليار دولار) إضافية لم تكن في الحسبان في بداية العام من إنتاج الشركة السورية للنفط وحدها، ناهيك عن الزيادة الحاصلة في الحصة من الشركات العاملة في سوريا والتي كما ذكرنا لا توجد أرقام دقيقة لها إلا أن المؤشرات الأولية لدينا تؤكد بأنها قد فاقت (200 %) عن أرقامها المخطط لها للعام الماضي، خاصة وأنها حققت هذا الأمر فعلاً خلال الأشهر التسعة الأولى من العام حسب إحصاءات وزارة النفط، الأمر الذي سيرفع من قيم الإنتاج الكلي لإنتاج القطاع النفطي في سوريا إلى أكثر من (600) مليار ليرة سورية، وهو ما يعادل ضعف الناتج المسجل في العام 2007، ليكون بذلك أحد أعلى الأرقام المسجلة على الإطلاق في قيم إنتاج النفط في سوريا.

وهكذا ومع هذه الطفرة السعرية المحققة، فبالطبع فإن أموالاً ضخمة قد ضخت لموازنة العام الماضي 2008 كإيرادات جديدة لم تكن متوقعة حين إعدادها، لكنها للأسف ذهبت بجزء كبير منها لمقابلة الخسائر الجديدة التي نتجت عن ارتفاع فاتورة الاستيراد النفطية.

رابعاً: مفاجأة الاحتياطي المؤكد:

كما ذكرنا في البداية، فبعد أكثر من تقرير حول الاحتياطيات المؤكدة للنفط في سوريا، وتقديره بنحو (3) مليارات برميل لا غير، جاء ت الأشهر الماضية لتحمل معها إحدى أكثر الأخبار إسعاداً للمهتمين في قطاع النفط في سوريا، بعد أن أشارت التقارير الجديدة، والتي كان آخرها تقرير جديد لمنظمة الأوابك العربية (منظمة الدول العربية المنتجة للنفط) والذي أشار إلى أن ارتفاع الاحتياطيات المؤكدة للنفط في سوريا وصلت إلى (4.2) مليار برميل، بزيادة فاقت (25 %) عن التقديرات السابقة، كيف لا وقد وضع التقرير الأخير سوريا في مرتبة تقدمت فيها في احتياطاتها النفطية المؤكدة على مصر المعروفة بإنتاجها واحتياطياتها النفطية، لكنها بالطبع لا ترقى إلى احتياطيات باقي الدول الأعضاء، طالما أن الاحتياطي السوري لا يشكل سوى (0.63 %) من إجمالي احتياطيات دول الأوابك وفقاً للتقرير المذكور.


1 – مع كل تلك الأرقام التي ذكرت فإن العام 2008 استحق أن يسمى العام الذهبي للنفط بامتياز.

2 – بينت الأرقام السابقة الأخطاء التي وقع بها خبراء صندوق النقد الدولي عند توصيتهم بقرار رفع الدعم عن المشتقات النفطية، وذلك بانطلاقها من توقعات أكدت حينها تراجع الإنتاج النفطي والاحتياطيات مقابل ازدياد هام في فاتورة الاستيراد النفطية، تلك التوقعات التي أوضحت أرقامنا السابقة خطأها فيما يتعلق بجانب الإنتاج والاحتياطيات المذكورة.

3 – لعل أكثر ما يحزننا في الدراسة، إنما يكمن في الأرقام الهائلة التي ذهبت سدى من هذه الطفرة النفطية، والتي يعود سببها أساساً إلى غياب التخطيط الاستشرافي عن بعض الأماكن خلال السنوات الماضية، فلو أن هذا التخطيط كان موجوداً، لكان يمكن توقع أزمة المشتقات النفطية قبل حدوثها بسنوات، بعد أن أصبح إنتاج المصافي المحلية غير كاف لمواجهة الطلب المحلي المتزايد الأمر الذي حولنا إلى استيراد هذه المشتقات، وبالطبع فمع ازدياد أسعار النفط خلال العام الماضي زادت فاتورة الاستيراد هي الأخرى، الأمر الذي جعلها تستحوذ على القسم الأكبر من زيادة قيم الصادرات النفطية في سوريا، مما فوت الاستفادة من فرصة ذهبية قليلة التكرار في الاستفادة من الفوائض النقدية التي كان يمكن تحقيقها من الطفرة السعرية المذكورة، فيما لو كان إنتاجنا المحلي من المشتقات يكفي لمواجهة الطلب المحلي، نعم لقد فوتنا على أنفسنا هذه الفرصة الذهبية التي لم تكن تتطلب سوى أن يتم التخطيط فيما مضى لإنشاء مصافِ جديدة، كان يمكن أن تبدأ بالعمل خلال السنوات القليلة الماضية قبل استفحال الأمر اليوم، هذه المشكلة التي سنوضحها في المثال البسيط التالي:

ففـي عام 2007 على سبيل المثال تم إنتاج (364) مليون برميل في ســـــوريا، يوميـــــاً (250) ألـف برميل منهــا (نحـو «68 %») ذهــــب للتصديــــر والباقــي ذهــب إلـى المصـــافي المحليـــــة للتصنيــــع لمواجهــة الطلب المحلي على المشتقات، لكن وللأسف فإن طاقة المصافي لا تكفي لمواجهة الطلب فقد تم استيراد الباقي من المشتقات من الخارج والتي وصلت قيمها الكبيرة إلى ما يعادل قيمة (273) ألف برميل يومياً من النفط الخام كونها تحتوي على قيم إضافية مصنعة، الأمر الذي حول ميزاننا النفطي في ذلك العام من ميزان رابح لتصديره (250) ألف برميل من النفط الخام إلى ميزان خاسر لاستيراده مشتقات تفوق قيمتها كل القيم المصدرة (راجع الرسم البياني الثاني)، هذا الأمر الذي كان يمكن فيما لو وجدت مصافِ أخرى أن يحول تصدير النفط المذكور إلى المصافي السورية لنستفيد من القيمة المضافة من التصنيع بدلاً عن تصدير النفط الخام وإعادة استيراده مصنعاً بقيم أكبر.

4 – أمام الأرقام الجديدة في الاحتياطي النفطي المؤكد في سوريا، على الحكومة اليوم أن تحاول الاستشراف من جديد للمستقبل فيما يتعلق بقطاع إنتاج المشتقات النفطية، فأمام هذا الاحتياطي المبشر، فإن الاستثمار في المشتقات النفطية يجب أن يكون من اهتمامات الحكومة اليوم، وذلك من خلال زيادة عدد المصافي الجديدة من جهة، والإسراع في عمليات إنشاء المصافي المتفق عليها خلال الأشهر الماضية من جهة أخرى، وذلك ليس من أجل الانتقال من مرحلة الاستيراد إلى الإنتاج المحلي فحسب، بل الذهاب إلى أعمق من ذلك بالعمل على تصدير المشتقات النفطية بدلاً من النفط الخام، مع كل ما يمكن أن يحققه ذلك من قيم مضافة ضخمة في القطاع النفطي، وفي الميزان التجاري السوري.

سوريا الغد

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May 26th, 2009, 7:28 pm


36. Majid said:

A piece by Michael Young worth reading.

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May 26th, 2009, 9:49 pm


37. majedkhaldoun said:

I do not believe that Nasrallah is a puppet or spy to Iran,he needs Iran and Syria to provide help, he is a good man,as he leads the resistance.
The resistance will continue,inspite of zionists wishes.

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May 26th, 2009, 11:41 pm


38. Shami said:

Majid:For example, what happened to all these good expressions: occupied Palestine, zionist entity, etc…


I’m sorry we will do better next time.
Indeed occupied Palestine and zionist entity,the most important ,is that we avoid doing business with these nice words and through them give pretext to worse policies.
These words should only be used by the people not these hypocrit regimes that are the first to dig tunnels towards the”zionist”in order to get its OK.

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May 27th, 2009, 2:22 am


39. Shami said:

Dear bro Jad ,a rafidi is not synonym of shi’i ,not all the shi’a are rafida.
If you want ,a rafidi is the equivalent of zakaria butros ,in fact they are worse than him.

Rafidi :make takfir of all who refused the concept of the 12 infaillible imams ( a late invention of ghulat) ,who make takfir of the favorit wife of the prophet and 99% of his best friends and slandering them with the vilest words as way of ibada.Using taqiya :lying to you and to plot against the Umma in secrecy.
Their belief that Quran was altered by Osman who removed ayat favorable to their concepts and that this Quran we have is a falsified book.


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May 27th, 2009, 2:39 am


40. Shami said:

Majidkhaldoun:The resistance will continue,inspite of zionists wishes.

Majidkhaldoun ,armed resistance is important but there are priorities ,education ,well being of the people ,democratization ,civil society dynamism .

Israel is victorious because it’s a more advanced society than ours.

And the best weapons that the Israelis have against us ,are these dictatorial arab regimes.

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May 27th, 2009, 2:50 am


41. majedkhaldoun said:

I agree with you on most of what you say,except to say
“Israel is victorious because it’s a more advanced society than ours.”
Israel is ahead now because the israeli lobby in USA,how could murderous people who commited such atrocities,a holocaust” against Gaza people,Qana Dair Yassin,and so on,how could you call this more advance society, it is a society bent on killing palastinian stealing their properties and sucking the blood of poor people, yes we have problems in the Arab world,and we need to improve our conditions.

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May 27th, 2009, 4:28 am


42. Shami said:

Majdkhaldun ,you are right and so were the british and french conlonialist powers and today the USA in which you live if i’m not wrong,as inhabitant of the USA ,you should have understood better what i meant ,the USA and ISrael both are arab(and muslim) civilians killer machines (we are attacked by both ,the arab regimes and USA Israel) that doesnt mean that in their internal policy they are failed countries or not advanced societies.
As for the arab regimes they are weak in front of Israel USA and in the same time have no mercy against this desolated arab people.

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May 27th, 2009, 4:43 am


43. t_desco said:

Author of Der Spiegel Tale ‘Convinced’ about Report, Says Documents ‘Original

Author of the Der Spiegel report implicating Hizbullah in the assassination of ex-Premier Rafik Hariri said he is “convinced” about the article and stressed that the documents cited were “original.”

“The documents that I reviewed during preparation of my report were original, not copies,” Erich Follath, Der Spiegel’s diplomatic correspondent, said in a telephone interview with pan-Arab daily Asharq al-Awsat.

“I verified every word before publishing the report,” he added.

Follath said he is a “free” journalist who takes into account the conscience of his profession.

He denied working for intelligence services, adding that he had “personally” criticized Israel a number of times for its violations of the rights of the Palestinian people in the occupied territories.

Follath said he was “happy” to be attacked by Hizbullah chief Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah.

He pointed that he had met senior Hizbullah officials and was “not surprised by Nasrallah’s attack, but was expecting it.”

He said Nasrallah’s assault had “improved his status,” adding that he is convinced about his tale “today more than ever before.”

Meanwhile, As Safir newspaper said Der Spiegel’s report was a “replica” story by opposition Syrian journalist Nizar Nayouf published by “al Hakika” (the Truth) website five months ago.

It said Der Spiegel’s report “selected” parts from Nayouf’s article regarding Hizbullah’s special forces in addition to names of senior Hizbullah officials like Imad Mughniyeh, Abdel Majid Ghamloush and al-Haj Salim as well as using the same terms regarding slain Lebanese army officer Wissam Eid.

Al-Akhbar newspaper, for its part, said Wednesday that Nick Kaldas, head of the U.N. investigation team probing Hariri’s assassination, was “examining” the contents of the dossier containing names and addresses as well as database and tables showing link among communication networks.

Follath “verified every word before publishing”? “Verified”?

Like attacks “in South America in 2002 and 2004”, winning more than 14 seats with… 11 candidates, Nasrallah speaking of the tribunal’s “conspiratorial intentions” or, worst of all, his “hatred” for Sunnis?

Follath is not an expert on Lebanon, just an expert on Mossad.

Was that al-Hakika article published online? Is it still available? It is really extremely similar to Follath’s article.

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May 27th, 2009, 10:10 am


44. offended said:

I would like to draw the attention of my friends here to a new phenomena in the blogsphere, namely a collection of gibberish scribble that had surfaced today in the form of a new blog; the Middle East Pundit!


Now, and before anybody else point it out, the title is indeed a bit flashy and self-aggrandizing. But since y’all know how humble and down to earth I am, it shouldn’t be a problem between us. Many pundits are quite ignorant, actually. But many are also smart. I shall try to imitate the latter group.

And finally, please rest assured that the coincidence of Josh leaving for Syria and me launching this blog isn’t intentional at all. I do not intend to drain traffic out of SC. Faithfully, I don’t. (as if I could even if I wanted to.)

And one more last thing, Erich Follath is a tool.

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May 27th, 2009, 1:05 pm


45. offended said:

Have a nice vacation Josh. I’m sure it’s well-earned.

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May 27th, 2009, 1:07 pm


46. offended said:

I would like to draw the attention of my friends here to a new phenomena in the blogsphere, namely a collection of gibberish scribble that had surfaced today in the form of a new blog;

The Middle East Pundit!

Now, and before anybody else point it out, the title is indeed self-aggrandizing. But since y’all know how humble and down to earth I am. It shouldn’t be a problem. Many pundits are quite ignorant, actually. But many are also smart. I shall try to imitate the latter group.

And finally, please rest assured that the coincidence of Josh leaving for Syria and me launching this blog isn’t intentional at all. I do not intend to drain traffic out of SC. Seriously, I don’t. (as if I could even if I wanted to.)

And one more last thing, Erich Follath is a tool.

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May 27th, 2009, 1:09 pm


47. norman said:

Bonhams Mideastern art in London
Bonhams auction hopes to emulate success seen in their Dubai sales which saw numerous artist records broken.

LONDON – Bonhams first dedicated sale of Middle Eastern and South Asian Art to be held outside of Dubai features works of art by artists from Iran, numerous other Arab countries, India, and Pakistan.
The sale will take place at Bonhams main saleroom in New Bond Street, London on 3rd June.

With this auction Bonhams hopes to emulate the success seen in their Dubai sales which saw numerous artist records broken, including the first sale of a work of art by a Middle Eastern artist for over $1,000,000.

Five works by Middle East based artists, Jaffer Khaldi, Sabhan Adam, Ayad Alkadhi, Oussama Baalbeki, and Kamal Boullata are being offered on behalf of the START/Al-Madad foundation – a charitable institution committed to increasing inter-cultural awareness to help alleviate problems of poverty and exclusion – to raise funds for their various Middle East projects.

“Holding the sale in London will help to expose new Middle Eastern artists to Europe and other global art centres. It is an opportunity for established and new collectors to acquire works by artists who are beginning to attract attention within the Middle East and abroad through internationally acclaimed shows,” said Mehreen Rizvi-Khursheed, Head of Modern Middle Eastern and South Asian Art at Bonhams.

“Our reputation of offering Modern South Asian art in London is well established and we hope to offer works by Middle Eastern artists with the same high levels of success,” added Rizvi-Khursheed.

The sale also includes works by some of the most notable artists from the Middle East.

Two works by the troubled Syrian artist Louai Kayyali (Lottery Seller, £40,000-60,000 & Seated Woman, £40,000-60,000) are accompanied by high quality works by Paul Guiragossian, Fateh Moudarres, Dia Azzawi, Adel-El Siwi, Farid Belkahia, Abdallah Benanteur and Safwan Dahoul.

Prior to the main sale event, a panel discussion on Modern and Contemporary Middle Eastern and South Asian Art will feature Mohammed Afkhami, a Dubai-based collector of Modern and Contemporary Iranian art.

He will be joined by Judith Greer, a US-born art collector who authored a book entitled ‘Owning Art’, which has been translated in numerous languages including Arabic, and Tariq Al Jaidah, a collector of Middle Eastern art who is based in Doha.

The sale features works by some of the premier artists from Iran, India and Pakistan. There has recently been significant Western interest in these emerging markets.

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May 27th, 2009, 1:35 pm


48. t_desco said:

Is there any evidence that the article was ever published by al-Hakika or that its existence precedes the Follath article?

If not, I will have to conclude that it is a fake.

In contrast, the Malbrunot article from 2006 is real and it was even republished in 2007 for unknown reasons as Alain Gresh reminds us:

“Rappelons aussi, ce que tout le monde semble oublier, Le Figaro aussi, c’est que ce quotidien avait déjà proféré la même accusation il y a plusieurs années, sous la plume de Georges Malbrunot. Ainsi, l’article intitulé « L’ombre du Hezbollah sur l’assassinat de Hariri», publié le 15 octobre 2007. C’est exactement sous le même titre que Malbrunot avait publié un autre texte dans Le Figaro, le 19 août 2006, au lendemain de la victoire du Hezbollah dans sa guerre avec Israël. Que Le Figaro du 24 mai 2009, qui reprend l’information sur l’implication du Hezbollah, ne fasse même pas référence aux articles de son correspondant en dit long sur la crédibilité à accorder à ce qu’écrit ce dernier…”
Nouvelles d’Orient

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May 27th, 2009, 3:21 pm


49. t_desco said:

Rumors in Washington and Beirut

“A rumor that the UN tribunal had begun to focus on Hizballah had been making the rounds in Washington for weeks now. For it to have a public airing in the press just a few days ahead of Lebanon’s parliamentary elections on June 7th — a contest which the Hizballah-led opposition is poised to win — makes it appear that someone opposed to Hizballah has been shopping this story around in a desperate measure to affect the elections.”
Andrew Lee Butters

“One of my own well-connected sources in Lebanon had this to say over email: “A rumor that the tribunal is going to end up issuing its indictments against Hezbollah, not Syria, has been floating around Beirut for the past month or so, and among highly credible sources. The impression I’ve gotten is that it would be largely a political move, a way to nail Hezbollah – and by association Iran – while largely letting Syria off the hook in the interests of promoting this fantasy-world ‘rapprochement’ with Damascus.”
Michael J. Totten

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May 27th, 2009, 3:55 pm


50. norman said:

Analysis: Hizbullah builds up its might

May. 27, 2009
No longer a purely guerrilla organization, Hizbullah is engaged in a huge political battle that culminates in the June 7 elections. “The Party of God” is in the pro-Iranian and Syrian camp facing off against the Hariri camp supported by America, Saudi Arabia and France.

The assessment in Israel is that Hizbullah will win the election and put “acceptable faces” in the cabinet to consolidate its rule. This will be another political victory for the radical Muslim axis following Hamas’s victory in the 2007 Palestinian elections.

But even if Hizbullah loses the upcoming election, it will continue to control Lebanon. It is the strongest force in Lebanon by far, and the country’s Shi’ite community is growing. The Christians in the North have been weakened, and the Druse in the central region will strike a deal with anyone who furthers their interests. Nobody will separate Hizbullah from its weapons, and the group will continue to strengthen and deepen its control of Lebanon.

Israel is closely watching the results of this election to see which faces Hizbullah places in the cabinet. It will be interesting to note the implications for Israeli offensive policy against Hizbullah should the next Lebanese defense minister be affiliated with the Shi’ite group.

Hizbullah has a multi-year plan for building up its power and is learning its lessons from the Second Lebanon War. It has received hundreds of millions of dollars every year from Iran for its military program. It also obtains military products from other parts of the world through Iranian and Syrian financing and logistics. Hizbullah is diversifying, burying all of its systems underground throughout Lebanon. Its motto: simplicity and survivability.

The Shi’ite group is doing everything underground. It first constructs a building, then starts working underneath it to construct bunkers. It is building rocket-launching devices, which are sure to fire from under the ground. It is importing Syrian and Iranian weaponry and technology. Despite UN Resolution 1701, the transfer of weaponry to Hizbullah is massive and systematic. Hizbullah believes that in the next round with Israel, the IDF will invade much more massively and go deeper into Lebanese territory than it did in the summer of 2006, so it is constructing formidable ground defenses, under civilian guise, including booby-trapping villages south of the Litani.

This is happening despite the presence of UNIFIL in the area (UNIFIL cannot go into villages). Hizbullah is gearing up for a major ground campaign against IDF troops. The group is also building its capacity to fight for a longer period. Others in the region, like Syria, are studying the IDF and Israeli society.

Israel’s weakness is the home front. Its enemies are all concentrating on rocket power to hit our home front and damage our morale. Hizbullah has doubled its rocket power, developed more accurate warheads and longer-range rockets, and is hiding its missiles well. This is a serious challenge, as Hizbullah can already hit any strategic and civilian installation, starting from the North of Israel and covering all of Gush Dan, from north of the Litani River. The organization will concentrate fire on civilian targets, IDF military and IAF targets. In a possible next round of violence with a Hizbullah that has effectively taken over, the IDF will not see itself restrained to purely Hizbullah military targets. Lebanese civilian infrastructure and the Lebanese Army may also be part of the equation.

While Military Intelligence Chief Amos Yadlin says MI does not foresee a war breaking out this year, MI does believe that the decisions taken and processes embarked upon this year will determine the direction the Middle East will take in the coming years. As such, 2009 is a crucial year. All of Israel’s enemies are well into a sustained process of strengthening their military capabilities.

Syria’s Bashar Assad, for example, is building an asymmetrical military model against Israel, as his standing army has not been updated in decades. Its armor and air force are not in a state to effectively take on the IDF. War with Syria will not be easy, and the IDF wants to avoid it. Syria is focusing on defense against Israeli invasion (by constructing traps and deploying anti-armor units), not on conquering territory. It is also developing its missile system for hitting the Israeli home front.

Syria has a wide range of missiles, including hundreds of Scud rockets with enough range to hit any target in Israel. It is also beefing up artillery, commando and anti-tank units. Syria understands it is a country with strategic targets, and is thus focusing on air defense. Over the past two years, Syria has acquired missiles that seriously threaten IAF planes and helicopters. While not directly engaging the IDF in the summer of 2006, Syria fought Israel through Hizbullah. Jerusalem does not believe Syria will embark on a symmetric war against Israel. But assessments show that the day may come when the IDF will find it extremely difficult to operate on the Golan Heights if Syria joins Hizbullah in a direct fight with Israel.

Israel in 2009 is facing threats on five fronts: Iran, Syria, Hizbullah. Hamas and Global Jihad. The state’s weaknesses are well known: long borders, population concentrated in the center, no strategic depth, one central airport, and proximity to threats (from Gaza, the West Bank and Lebanon). Despite this, Israel is the strongest power within a 1,500-km. radius. The IDF is honing its ability to fight symmetrical and asymmetrical wars simultaneously. Israel’s enemies have shaped the battle like this and could cooperate with each other in the next round. The enemy’s long-term strategy is one of constant terror inside the home front and constant harassment along the borders.

This article can also be read at http://www.jpost.com /servlet/Satellite?cid=1243346492366&pagename=JPArticle%2FShowFull
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Copyright 1995- 2009 The Jerusalem Post – http://www.jpost.com/

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May 28th, 2009, 1:09 am


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