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.

Joshua

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
2009-05-24

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)


Off the Wall said:

Joshua and Family
Ma7mooleen Bel-salameh Inshalla

Ehsani
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.

May 25th, 2009, 6:20 pm

 

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?

May 25th, 2009, 7:56 pm

 

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.

May 25th, 2009, 8:37 pm

 

majid said:

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

May 26th, 2009, 12:12 am

 

norman said:

Majid,

This is for you,

World

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.

May 26th, 2009, 12:25 am

 

majid said:

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

May 26th, 2009, 12:57 am

 

majid said:

Norman,
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!!!

May 26th, 2009, 1:20 am

 

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 ?

May 26th, 2009, 1:50 am

 

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

May 26th, 2009, 3:11 am

 

Shai said:

AP,

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!!!”

May 26th, 2009, 3:40 am

 

majedkhaldoun said:

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

May 26th, 2009, 4:16 am

 

majid said:

Shai said,
“AP,

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).”

May 26th, 2009, 5:10 am

 

Yossi (AKA Rumyal) said:

Joshua,

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.

May 26th, 2009, 5:24 am

 

Shai said:

Joshua,

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… 🙂

May 26th, 2009, 5:30 am

 

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 ?

May 26th, 2009, 5:55 am

 

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.

May 26th, 2009, 6:34 am

 

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.
Naharnet

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

May 26th, 2009, 7:22 am

 

Amir in Tel Aviv said:

[deleted by admin]

May 26th, 2009, 9:06 am

 

Akbar Palace said:

Some friends you have…

Shai,

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?

Majid,

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.

May 26th, 2009, 12:13 pm

 

Shai said:

Akbar,

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.

May 26th, 2009, 1:34 pm

 

Majid said:

[deleted by admin]

May 26th, 2009, 1:46 pm

 

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.

May 26th, 2009, 2:23 pm

 

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.

May 26th, 2009, 3:27 pm

 

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.

Shai,

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.

May 26th, 2009, 4:02 pm

 

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

May 26th, 2009, 4:34 pm

 

Shai said:

Akbar,

“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…

May 26th, 2009, 4:44 pm

 

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.

May 26th, 2009, 4:46 pm

 

jad said:

Majedkhaldoun
“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.

May 26th, 2009, 5:01 pm

 

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.

Shai,

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…

Shai,

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.

May 26th, 2009, 5:03 pm

 

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.
Al-Manar

May 26th, 2009, 6:53 pm

 

Alex said:

t.desco

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.

http://joshualandis.com/blog/?p=324

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.

May 26th, 2009, 7:08 pm

 

Alex said:

President Obama will visit Saudi Arabia next week.

May 26th, 2009, 7:22 pm

 

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.

May 26th, 2009, 7:23 pm

 

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?

May 26th, 2009, 7:26 pm

 

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
23/05/2009

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.

النتائج:

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

May 26th, 2009, 7:28 pm

 

Majid said:

A piece by Michael Young worth reading.

May 26th, 2009, 9:49 pm

 

majedkhaldoun said:

shami;
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.

May 26th, 2009, 11:41 pm

 

Shami said:

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

lol,Majid

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.

May 27th, 2009, 2:22 am

 

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.

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

May 27th, 2009, 2:39 am

 

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.

May 27th, 2009, 2:50 am

 

majedkhaldoun said:

Shami;
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.

May 27th, 2009, 4:28 am

 

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.

May 27th, 2009, 4:43 am

 

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.
Naharnet

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.

May 27th, 2009, 10:10 am

 

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!

http://mepundit.wordpress.com/

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.

May 27th, 2009, 1:05 pm

 

offended said:

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

May 27th, 2009, 1:07 pm

 

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.

May 27th, 2009, 1:09 pm

 

norman said:

Print
2009-05-27
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.

May 27th, 2009, 1:35 pm

 

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

May 27th, 2009, 3:21 pm

 

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

May 27th, 2009, 3:55 pm

 

norman said:

Analysis: Hizbullah builds up its might

May. 27, 2009
Amir Mizroch , THE JERUSALEM POST
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
[ Back to the Article ]
Copyright 1995- 2009 The Jerusalem Post – http://www.jpost.com/

May 28th, 2009, 1:09 am

 

t_desco said:

The article quoted by As-Safir was indeed a fake and was never published by Al-Haqiqa. I’m just a little surprised where the answer to my question comes from:

“Tribunal spokeswoman Achouri also said a story in Lebanese newspaper As-Safir was inaccurate in reporting that Follath had copied his story from an article on the Syrian opposition Web site Al-Haqiqa. Al-Haqiqa’s article said the investigation centered on Islamist groups such as Fatah al-Islam and speculated that the West would cut a deal with Syria to exculpate President Bashar Assad’s regime, Achouri added.”
(No Tribunal officials talked to Der Spiegel journalist, The Daily Star

Follath never claimed to have talked directy with any STL official, he only speaks of “sources close to the tribunal”.

May 28th, 2009, 6:00 am

 

Chris said:

There was a very interesting piece on the two-state solution in yesterday’s Vancouver Sun.

——————————————-

The two-state solution illusion

MAY 27, 2009

While Ottawa’s political leaders were meeting on Parliament Hill Tuesday with Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas, a group of businessmen (no women, for some reason) met for lunch in downtown Calgary with Khaled Abu Toameh, the Arab-born West Bank and Gaza correspondent for the Jerusalem Post. And while the Conservatives condemned Israel’s settlements as an obstacle to a peaceful “two-state solution”, with Liberal leader Michael Ignatieff and Abbas also mouthing support for the same vision for Israel and the Palestinians, Toameh couldn’t help but chuckle. “I laugh when they talk about a two-state solution,” he said. “It’s unreal. It’s not going to work. But we all have to say we support it, maybe because that’s what [U.S. President Barack] Obama wants.”

Toameh—in town as a guest of the Frontier Centre for Public Policy—doesn’t dismiss the idea for the same reasons as Hamas, which considers Israel a temporary, alien cancer to be mercilessly excised from the Muslim Middle East, not co-existed with. He dismisses it because, as those living in the territories well know, the Palestinians cannot even co-exist with themselves, let alone with Israel. Since Yassir Arafat died—“the only good thing he ever did,” Toameh says—life for the average Palestinian has gone from miserable to worse; the territories descended into low-intensity civil war, with 2,000 Palestinians killed in the last three years amidst the political and revenge-motivated attacks of Hamas on Fatah and Fatah on Hamas, as well as the marginal mayhem of terrorist groups such as the Islamic Jihad Movement in Palestine, Al-Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigades and the Popular Resistance Committees. For the first time, more Palestinians are killed from internecine violence than in conflicts with Israel. Election promises first by Abbas and then by Hamas of an end to corruption, lawlessness, poverty, and failure have all proven lies, Toameh points out: each has assumed power—Fatah in the West Bank, Hamas in Gaza—only to show themselves to be as abusive, crooked and ineffectual in building a civil society as Arafat was. Neither party enjoys credibility or actually governs in any real sense the anarchic territories, where unemployment exceeds 60%—though Hamas is at least closer to legitimacy, enjoying far more popular support than Abbas does (Palestinians see Western support for Fatah as Zionist meddling, he says, driving them further into the arms of Hamas and other jihadists). “Abbas doesn’t even have power in downtown Ramallah, where he works and lives,” he says.

A two-state solution sounds pleasant to Western ears. It seems the proper thing for Canadian politicians to say. Certainly the media would pillory Harper and Ignatieff were they to refuse to play along. But were Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to endorse the plan tomorrow—as Barack Obama wants as precondition to helping Israel resist Iranian nuclear agression—it would be utterly meaningless. “There is no partner on the Palestinian side,” Toameh says. Israel’s West Bank settlements are no obstacle, he adds; they are a red herring: a minor issue that Jerusalem will easily handle—based on its readiness to dismantle its settlements in the past—when the moment is right. That time is not now, and is not coming soon. Because, in today’s environment, whatever proposed peace agreement is backed by Abbas would only be instantly rejected by Hamas, and any deal with Hamas—were any possible—reflexively rejected by Fatah. And neither group has much validity in citizens’ eyes, he reports. In fact, Toameh mischievously suggests Netanyahu might be clever to try what Obama wants and publicly back a two-state plan immediately, if only to put the Palestinians and international peace-plan backers “in a corner” by revealing to all how truly impossible implementing anything of the sort would be under the current circumstances.

The international community’s error, says Toameh, is that it seems to think statehood is something to be handed to Palestinians, like a gift. It is, he believes, an undeserved one. “I believe a state is not something we should be given, it is something we should earn,” says the West Bank-born journalist. Far from demonstrating a capability to create a functioning, responsible civil society, he says, Palestinians have only proven their willingness to tolerate chaos, mob-rule and terror. They watched as, instead of building hospitals and schools and infrastructure with the billions sent to Ramallah and Gaza, Arafat lined his own pockets, Fatah fattened its cronies, and Hamas purchased weapons. On the one hand, Palestinians have fallen again and again for rotten leadership, which in turn, do their best to suppress the emergence of more responsible alternatives. On the other, Toameh seems to suggest that the Palestinians are getting the government they deserve. “Everything is going in the wrong direction, largely because of the failure of Palestinians to hold [their] government accountable,” he says.

This is not a happy fact for Toameh. He’s convinced that with the right leadership following the death of Arafat’s terror-minded kleptocracy, and with so much enthusiasm on the part of the international community—including Israel—to help create a modern, functional Palestinian state, there is no reason that, with the implementation of democratic, transparent and accountable institutions, the Palestinians could not have built themselves a new Hong Kong or Singapore. Were Western donor countries to insist upon those very elements in exchange for all their aid dollars, they could have helped make it so. Instead Canada, the U.S. and Europe have merely sponsored one lousy dictator over another. And instead, the Palestinians have opted to make for themselves a new Afghanistan, a savage playground of corrupt warlords and Islamist fanatics. The world already has enough states like that. And any so-called solution that proposes to create another is no solution at all.

© Copyright (c) National Post

May 28th, 2009, 1:01 pm

 

t_desco said:

Are they considering a ‘civil war option’ of dealing with the question of Hizbullah’s weapons?

U.S. Readies for Judicial Confrontation with Hizbullah over Files, Including Hariri’s Murder

News reports on Friday said all signs indicate a “significant change” in the U.S. administration dealing with Hizbullah, pointing that the next confrontation would be through the judiciary as well as local and international courts.
The daily Al Akhbar, which carried the report, said the face off between Washington and Hizbullah would be via reviving old files such as the case of the two African-based alleged financial backers of Hizbullah – Qassim Tajideen and Abed al-Menhem Qobaisi.

The U.S. Treasury Department on Wednesday imposed sanctions on the two men and said it had designated Tajideen and Qobaisi under a law that freezes the assets of alleged terrorists and their backers and prohibits Americans from having any transactions with them.

Al Akhbar, according to information obtained from The Hague, said preparations were underway by the office of Special Tribunal for Lebanon Prosecutor Daniel Bellemare to summon Hizbullah officials to hear their testimonies regarding facts in judicial cases sent from Lebanon.

It said Bellemare, together with investigators, were looking at the “most successful method” for carrying out their work “without causing tension on the internal political scene or having to resort to the U.N. Security Council.”
Naharnet

List of problems with Erich Follath’s article:

– possible contradiction with identical story published by Le Figaro in 2006: Brammertz “knew” in 2006 (Malbrunot), Bellemare learned about it only “last month” (Follath);

– omits earlier manipulation, false witnesses;

– doesn’t address question of suicide bomber at all;

– communication analysis unlikely to reveal internal Hizbullah structures and names; unclear where the information is supposed to have come from;

– communication analysis done directly by UN commission, according to UN reports; commission would be immediately aware of any results; in contrast, Follath refers to analysis by “Lebanese security forces”;

– alleged motive not convincing;

– omits rapprochement between Hariri and Nasrallah;

– claim that Nasrallah “hates” Sunnis;

– claim that Nasrallah spoke of the tribunal’s “conspiratorial intentions”;

– claim that Hizbullah will win more than 14 seats with only 11 candidates;

– claim that attacks in South America happened in “2002 and 2004”;

– suspicious timing.

May 29th, 2009, 12:09 pm

 

norman said:

Syria-U.S. Friendship Blossoms, Cautiously
Posted by George Baghdadi | Comment On This Post

(AP Photo/Bassem Tellawi)Syrian President Bashar al-Assad (at left) on Thursday praised President Obama’s ardor for dialogue and told two U.S. lawmakers his country is hoping for better relations with Washington.

Sen. Ted Kaufman, D-Del., and Rep. Tim Walz D-Minn., arrived in Damascus Thursday in a first visit by a U.S. delegation since the U.S. voted to renew sanctions against this Mediterranean country earlier this month.

“Assad and the U.S. delegates discussed bilateral relations between Syria and the United States and the need for working on removing the hurdles that block their advance in a way that would serve the strengthening of stability in the Middle East,” a presidential statement said.

“Talks also dealt with the signs of détente that the world witnessed lately and the necessity of investing this chance by all parties for maintaining peace and stability in the region and the world,” it added.

Ties between Washington and Damascus became strained after the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq in 2003 and the assassination of Lebanese leader Rafiq Hariri in 2005, which was widely blamed on Syria. Damascus denies any involvement.

Washington recalled its ambassador in February 2005 following Hariri’s murder.

Mr. Obama’s new top Middle East envoy, Jeffrey Feltman, visited Syria in March in what was the first high-level U.S. trip in four years. He returned earlier this month for further meetings, describing them as “constructive” and vowing to pursue dialogue.

U.S. special envoy to the region George Mitchell is also expected in Damascus early in June for talks with Assad on Washington’s vision for peace in the Middle East.

Mr. Obama is scheduled to give a speech in Cairo on June 4, during which he will likely promote a peace plan backed by 57 nations that would see almost the entire Muslim world recognize Israel in return for comprehensive peace.

Syria and Israel engaged in indirect Turkish-sponsored peace talks last year, following an eight-year hiatus, but they were suspended after Israel’s war on the Gaza Strip in December-January.

Assad, the statement said, applauded Mr. Obama’s, “adoption of dialogue as a way for treating difficult issues,” — a reference to years of sour relations with former President George W. Bush — and underscored the need for a “precise and rational vision” to solve the decades old Mideast crisis.

The statement made no mention of the renewal of the sanctions by U.S. lawmakers on May 7, which the Syrian media called “routine.”

Walz and Kaufman arrived in Damascus Thursday from Israel, after talks with Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu.
——————————————————————————–
This story was filed by CBS News’ George Baghdadi in Damascus.
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May 29th, 2009, 1:46 pm

 

offended said:

Gulfsands Petroleum completed drilling of another well in Khurbet area (eastern Syria). The new well will increase production from 10,800 barrels to 18,000 barrels per day. Not much, but not bad either.

http://www.gulfsands.com/s/NewsReleases.asp?ReportID=350202

May 29th, 2009, 1:55 pm

 

offended said:

this should make Israel’s apologists on this board proud.

“The sudden conflict followed an 18-month period in which the Israeli army had subjected the inhabitants of Gaza to an unremitting blockade, preventing virtually all movement of people and goods in and out of the territory and stoking a growing humanitarian catastrophe. The blockade throttled almost all economic life and led growing numbers of Palestinians to become dependent on international food aid; even terminally ill patients were prevented from leaving to obtain medical care that could not be provided by Gaza’s resource- and medicine-starved hospitals. ”

http://thereport.amnesty.org/en/regions/middle-east-north-africa

May 29th, 2009, 2:21 pm

 

Akbar Palace said:

this should make Israel’s apologists on this board proud.

Offended,

Respect is a better term. Respecting oneself enough to protect yourself.

May 29th, 2009, 5:19 pm

 

Shai said:

Akbar,

“Respect is a better term. Respecting oneself enough to protect yourself.”

You must admit we’re terribly efficient at “protecting” ourselves. After 9 years of $10 Qassam rockets extract 30 deaths, we go in, out of self-defense, and kill over a thousand Palestinians in just 22 days.

To highlight the “efficiency of protecting ourselves”, I’ll help you do the math – that’s 5,000-to-1 in our favor. Oh well… too bad for the Palestinians.

May 29th, 2009, 5:46 pm

 

t_desco said:

The bigger picture:

“In conversations with Mr. Ross before Mr. Obama’s election, we asked him if he really believed that engage-with-pressure would bring concessions from Iran. He forthrightly acknowledged that this was unlikely. Why, then, was he advocating a diplomatic course that, in his judgment, would probably fail? Because, he told us, if Iran continued to expand its nuclear fuel program, at some point in the next couple of years President Bush’s successor would need to order military strikes against Iranian nuclear targets. Citing past “diplomacy” would be necessary for that president to claim any military action was legitimate.
(…)

Beyond the nuclear issue, the administration’s approach to Iran degenerates into an only slightly prettified version of George W. Bush’s approach — that is, an effort to contain a perceived Iranian threat without actually trying to resolve underlying political conflicts. Obama administration officials are buying into a Bush-era delusion: that concern about a rising Iranian threat could unite Israel and moderate Arab states in a grand alliance under Washington’s leadership.

President Obama and his team should not be excused for their failure to learn the lessons of recent history in the Middle East — that the prospect of strategic cooperation with Israel is profoundly unpopular with Arab publics and that even moderate Arab regimes cannot sustain such cooperation. The notion of an Israeli-moderate Arab coalition united to contain Iran is not only delusional, it would leave the Palestinian and Syrian-Lebanese tracks of the Arab-Israeli conflict unresolved and prospects for their resolution in free fall. These tracks cannot be resolved without meaningful American interaction with Iran and its regional allies, Hamas and Hezbollah.”
(“Have We Already Lost Iran?” By Flynt Leverett and Hillary Mann Leverett, NYT, May 23, 2009)

(my emphasis)

The ‘civil war option’ would fit into such a scenario.

May 29th, 2009, 9:48 pm

 

Akbar Palace said:

After 9 years…

Shai,

Only 9 years? Only 30 dead? Only “$10 Qassams”?

And how much damage? And how much disruption in people’s lives?

QED

May 30th, 2009, 12:28 am

 

Akbar Palace said:

Well, whaddya know….

Following a meeting Thursday with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, President Obama told the Palestinian leader that “…It was very important to continue to make progress in reducing the incitement and anti-Israel sentiments that are sometimes expressed in schools and mosques and in the public square, because all those things are impediments to peace.”

http://www.theisraelproject.org/site/apps/nlnet/content2.aspx?c=hsJPK0PIJpH&b=689705&ct=7051781

I wonder what the PA President had to say about that?

I guess we’ll have to get Barry to check Abbas’ Doctoral dissertation:

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

May 30th, 2009, 1:06 am

 

Shai said:

Akbar,

Your absurd comment rudely interrupted me on my way to get our Saturday morning Janhnun! I just had to send this quick one to you…

Disruption??? My God man, you compare Gaza 2009 to Sderot’s “disruption”!!! And for more than a thousand lives, our Israeli “disruption” is permanent, isn’t it? And for their families (you know, the ones left behind to mourn their dear ones?), and thousands more injured?

I’m almost starting to think that the Qassams had an effect on YOU also… They were horrific weapons, weren’t they?

May 30th, 2009, 5:56 am

 

Chris said:

Shai, I too am critical of Israel’s operation in Gaza. Not the aims, but the way the operation was carried out. If someone were firing thousands of Qassams at Los Angeles I would also demand that my government do what it can to immediately end the rocket fire. Protecting the security of a country’s citizenry is the first responsibility of a state. Exercising a monopoly over the use of force within a territory is the primary feature of a state. However, the problem with Israel’s operation in Gaza was not its aims, but the fact that it left Hamas in power (restraint). After so many lives lost, Israel allowed the Palestinian terrorist organization to retain its control over the territory in Gaza which it used as a launching pad for firing rockets at Israeli cities. It was completely reckless of Israel to allow that Islamist organization to retain its grip on the people of Gaza. Now Hamas will be able to rebuild and recover. Apparently this was due to the fact that Israel was not willing to take the operation further, into Gaza city, by removing Hamas from power. I imagine this was a decision not to take the conflict to that level. In so doing they limited their achievements. So, given the generally accepted notion of proportionality, I would say that Israel shouldn’t have conducted the operation unless it was willing to remove Hamas from power.

May 30th, 2009, 8:51 am

 

Shai said:

T_Desco,

There is still a fantasy in Washington, that if only America helps “moderate regimes” (as if KSA is such a moderate state), and forms some united coalition, then not only will the evil Shia-Empire have a formidable rival at last, but the Arab Street will also begin feeling democracy-in-the-air and pressure its leaders to catch up. This is sheer fantasy. It has never worked before, and is unlikely to work in the future. If countries are to have their civil war, it must come from within, not by encouragement from the outside.

I never understood why American leaders thought isolation encourages undemocratic regimes to become democratic. Has there been a single leader on earth that has ever “succumbed” to such pressure, and turned democratic? Revolutions occur when people are exposed to the outside world, and want to become free like others. When the West isolates N. Korea, and as a result N. Koreans have no interaction with the democratic nations and people, how can we expect them to “rise up” and change their leader?

And perhaps the greatest error we consistently make, is to believe that people understand punishment brought upon them. That when the West punishes the Iranian people, or the Palestinians in Gaza, that both feel this punishment is justified, as it is targeted at their hardline leadership, and not at them. This is of course a horrific fallacy. Rather than weaken these leaderships, the exact opposite occurs. Because the average citizen on the street is not interested in politics, in regional solutions, or in historical justice. At least not as his/her highest priority. Their first priority, is food on the family table, at least once a day. Few Gazans, who cannot provide their families one warm meal per day, are able to “understand” America’s support of Israel’s 3 year long blockade of Gaza.

The same will happen in Syria, in Iran, and anywhere else America thinks it can encourage the population to change its rulers, by punishing it.

May 30th, 2009, 9:12 am

 

Shai said:

Chris,

I must seriously differ from you, in your conclusion from the Gaza Operation. What you’re essentially saying is that Israel didn’t do enough! I.e. we killed over a thousand, injured thousands more, leveled many parts of Gaza to the ground (I have a paratrooper friend that told me afterwards that Gaza “looked like Dresden”), and yet we didn’t do enough!?!

You said: “After so many lives lost, Israel allowed the Palestinian terrorist organization to retain its control over the territory in Gaza which it used as a launching pad for firing rockets at Israeli cities. It was completely reckless of Israel to allow that Islamist organization to retain its grip on the people of Gaza.”

Why do you think Israel has any right to determine who retains control over a territory that isn’t ours? Do you have a right to decide who controls Mexico? So what if rockets are fired at LA, what right does that give you to decide for Mexico its government or its leaders? You do have the right to fight these rockets, but not to “determine” anything else. By the way, it is a poor comparison, because it gives the notion that thousands of Qassams are hitting LA (supposedly killing or injuring many).

But in reality, you should have said “Rockets fired at Los Angeles, with 99.9% of them landing in open fields outside of LA…” And you should have also said: “Rockets fired from a province in Mexico that was Occupied by America for the past 40 years, without freedom for its native citizens. And which has been fully blockaded over the last 3 years by America (closed from every direction), because it did not “accept” the results of the first ever democratic Mexican elections.”

It seems to me we are continuing to fool ourselves, perhaps because it is difficult to envision just how horrific our mistakes have been. After all, how can we look ourselves in the mirror, if indeed we enabled the suffering of so many people, for so many years, only because we insisted on interpreting things through our own stubborn prism?

May 30th, 2009, 9:24 am

 

Shai said:

T_Desco,

Another point – Why would anyone think that the impression made on Iranians or Syrians or Palestinians, when they see America courting undemocratic regimes such as KSA or Egypt, will be a positive one? Where are people more free, in Damascus, or in Riyadh? Where are women more free, in Aleppo, or in Jeddah? Which nation is run by ultrareligious clerics, Syria, or Saudi Arabia?

Every citizen of the Middle East knows precisely why the United States is courting the Saudis – oil! There is absolutely nothing in common between the two nations, aside from one supplying it, and the other consuming it. And this hypocrisy has never been overlooked by the people of this region, and will continue to be a major source for distrust, suspicion, and indeed hatred, towards the United States (besides of course the blind-support for Israel). Obama must come to understand this if he doesn’t already. He needs the support of ALL the undemocratic regimes in this region, not only the oil-rich ones.

The U.S. should also accept the fact that to counter a perceived, or real, “Islamic Tsunami” that may or may not wash across the sands of the Middle East, a counter-wave of Embracement must be exercised. Not some dreamy wave of Democracy.

May 30th, 2009, 10:50 am

 

why-discuss said:

Shai

This has always been the various US administration position. WE are educated, WE are successful, WE have the best universities in the world, WE are smart, WE know better, WE never mistakes: we only make well thought strategic wars and WE don’t need any of these third world intellectuals or human rights people to tell us what to do.

I am afraid the same applies to the Israelis successive governments.
What can change that? I just don’t know.

May 30th, 2009, 5:12 pm

 

Shai said:

Why-Discuss,

There’s no doubt that Americans in general suffer from an innate sense of superiority, certainly when it comes to 2nd or 3rd world nations, but also when it comes to Europe. Obama did not escape that upbringing, and deep inside probably feels the same. However, the one thing he does seem to possess, which few Presidents have ever exhibited to such extent, is what some call “emotional-intelligence”. Obama seems to understand the emotional aspect of conflicts, and thus is more sensitive and understanding especially towards the weaker sides. He also seems to understand that the U.S. cannot lead the world alone. That it cannot make unilateral decisions for other nations, nor take unilateral action that effects the lives of millions around the globe.

In his documentary “Fog of War”, ex-Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara raises the point that the United States, when faced with little or no support from its closet allies who share common values with her, should reconsider her rationale for making decisions and carrying out policy as she does. It seems George Bush never bothered himself too much with this principle. It seems Obama might.

There’s definitely no hope on the horizon for Israeli governments, and not only because we feel superior towards all our neighbors, but also because we innately suffer from such superiority towards our own citizens, namely the Arab-Israelis. How can we expect a government in Jerusalem to look eye-level at an Arab government, when it looks down at its own Arabs? We are suffering today from the same intoxication of power that we experienced back in the years between 1967 and 1973. And this time, one of two things will “awaken” us – either another regional war, or one tough Obama administration.

Let’s hope for the latter.

May 30th, 2009, 5:39 pm

 

why-discuss said:

Shai

I share with you my hopes that Obama , because of his background, a black man with a moslem father, may be more aware that arrogance and feeling of superiority may blind leaders and lead to disasters that would take years to recover from ( Hitler is one of them with the horrors of world war II and the US for the slavery, Hiroshima and Iraq)
I also think that successive Israel leaders (encouraged by the laisser-faire of the US and the guilt of Europe) have created a situation on the ground that is so complex and disturbing that the most basic reaction an Israeli would have is to hope that Israel be stronger and tougher. They can’t imagine that sooner of later they will have to face an even worse situation when the growing arab minority will threaten the reassuring jewish identity of Israel.
Maybe Obama will attempt to change the usual US laisser faire. I wonder how the Israelis will accept any pressure coming from a black man. I guess Israelis are almost as prejudiced toward blacks as they are toward arabs. Am I right?

May 31st, 2009, 2:37 am

 

Georges said:

So, finally the Syrian Ambassador shows up in Beirut. Yay for the Lebanese. Here’s a great perspective on the exchange of embassies between Syria and Lebanon. The argument goes: the anti-Syrian Lebanese camp will come to regret this.

http://currenteventually.blogspot.com/2009/05/syrias-ambassador-to-lebanon.html

May 31st, 2009, 2:40 am

 

Shai said:

Why-Discuss,

No, Israelis are actually less prejudiced towards Blacks than they are towards Arabs. Although a small percentage, still a certain amount of Israelis are today of Ethiopian origin, so it is quite common to see Black Jews in Israel. There is no suspicion or hatred or “bad history” with Blacks. Israelis, from birth almost, are afraid of Arabs. We grow up and are taught to fear you. Few Israelis have ever met (non-Jewish) Arabs from Syria, or Iraq, or Saudi Arabia. Despite our so-called “sophistication” (high tech, research, etc.), we are very ignorant when it comes to our neighbors, and to this region.

May 31st, 2009, 3:43 am

 

norman said:

Shai,

You are right , many , even Jews do not have contacts with Arabs , even in the US but when they do they see how close they are , many of my patients are Jews , two of them were mothers of Rabies ,

I do not know if you still think that Netanyahu will achieve peace in his term , I want to bet you 5$ that that will not happen in the next 4 years,

May 31st, 2009, 4:29 am

 

Shai said:

Dear Norman,

You’re on! And not because I’m so sure he will make peace, but because if I lose the bet I’ll have to personally deliver it to you! 🙂

Yeah, it’s very difficult to tell right now. I’ve exhaustively bored everyone on this blogs and elsewhere with theories explaining how whatever Bibi’s doing now makes sense in both cases actually – whether he’s not serious about peace and just wants to waste another 4 years, or if he does want to become a mini-Begin. I don’t know which one it is, but I’m still hoping for the latter.

This ignorance issue is crucial. We cannot continue to allow our leaders (good ones or bad ones) to determine for us the amount of exposure we have to one another. Imagine, an Israeli PM and his policy is going to determine how much I’m supposed to know about Arabs? And an Arab leader of one type or another will determine how much Arabs know about Israelis?

How will we ever understand each other? Our intelligence and our basic human rights are held hostage by politicians and leaders, and it’s high time this dark period comes to an end, don’t you think?

May 31st, 2009, 4:47 am

 

norman said:

Shai,

It is simple , work for desegregation in housing employment and education , you have more non Jews than we have Jews so desegregation in Israel will expose you to Israeli’s Arabs ,, people are afraid of the people that they do not know , Blacks in the US did not advance and they were feared untill the US law makers for saw the benefit of desegregation and that it will prevent a civil war ,so Desegregation and the civil rights were established and affirmative action followed to level the playing field ,
That is what Israel should do to show that it cares about it’s minorities.

May 31st, 2009, 4:59 am

 

Shai said:

Norman,

You are right. But of course that first requires self-confidence on part of our political leadership, and lack of bigotry. When do you think was the last time Netanyahu stepped foot in an Arab village? That’s right… How can fully integrate Arabs (education, housing, employment) while our politicians still call them “traitors”, “5th column”, etc.? Of course not everyone in Israel thinks this way about our 20% Arabs, but too many do. We need modern and courageous leaders with foresight, not the same recycled dinopolitician crap we’ve been dealt the past 60 years.

May 31st, 2009, 5:30 am

 

jad said:

Shai,
with this attitude of Netanyahu we can kiss PEACE good bye!
Pleas get a different government than this one, they are bunch of lunatic radicals.

Netanyahu: “What the hell do they want from me?”
Thu, 05/28/2009 – 7:17pm
Last night, shortly after U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton told journalists that the Obama administration “wants to see a stop to settlements — not some settlements, not outposts, not natural growth exceptions,” Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called a confidant. Referring to Clinton’s call for a settlement freeze, Netanyahu groused, “What the hell do they want from me?” according to his associate, who added, “I gathered that he heard some bad vibes in his meetings with [U.S.] congressional delegations this week.”

http://thecable.foreignpolicy.com/posts/2009/05/28/netanyahu_what_the_hell_do_they_want_with_me

May 31st, 2009, 5:58 am

 

Shai said:

JAD,

There’s no doubt Bibi’s under tremendous pressure now. He can basically see the end of his short term played out, step by step, already now. I’m sure he was hoping for more “maneuvering room” from Washington, and received none of it.

He will soon have to choose between two paths:

1. Reject Washington, and risk very quick deterioration in our relationship, which will likely lead to his political end fairly quickly.

2. Uncover his mini-Begin plans already now (if he has any), and risk wall-to-wall denouncement in Knesset, which may lead to his political end. If he acts quickly, he might survive. If not, he’ll have a year in power, and that’s it.

Obama knows that Bibi needs him to survive politically. As much as the Israeli public has moved to the Right, it still understands its dependency on the U.S., and it will not keep in office for too long a PM that puts that relationship at risk.

May 31st, 2009, 6:12 am

 

jad said:

Shai Why your Knesset becoming like our famous Arab world parliament, useless, pointless, no vision and full of crazy rules to discuss and come with? How about this new rule of criminalizing anyone who doesn’t believe in the JUDAISM of Israel?
Seriously, our both worlds are competing for who can be the worst and the radical

May 31st, 2009, 6:31 am

 

abbas said:

Why there is so many israelies on this blog, if we want to read about israeil we will go to israeilcomment.com

May 31st, 2009, 6:53 am

 

Shai said:

Jadman,

They’re doing it so we can have more in common, and finally make peace! 🙂

But you’re wrong about Israeli politicians “becoming” pointless, useless, etc. They’ve always been that way. Only wearing different hats. Sometimes Leftist so-called “liberal” ones (who ended doing far more damage to Israel, and bringing misery to the Palestinians than any Right government did), sometimes Right so-called “conservative” ones. But the result has been the same – more stagnation (or moving backwards), more wars, more bloodshed, more occupation, more settlements, more suffering.

But don’t give up! It’s like economics – what goes down must eventually come up… 🙂 (This is not a paid advertisement for Viagra).

May 31st, 2009, 6:54 am

 

jad said:

Shai,
Thank you for the logical explanation, now I understand what happened, we the Arab and especially the Palestinians effects you to become more semitic than you used to be..I remember reading an article with similar point, that you the Israelis get involved too much with the Palestinians that you finally learned from them how to blow every peace chance that comes your way..lol

P.S. you should contact Viagra and sell them your slogan…wink wink.

May 31st, 2009, 7:06 am

 

t_desco said:

Azerbaijan seen as new front in Mideast conflict

Officials say they foiled a plot by Hezbollah and Iran to bomb the Israeli Embassy in revenge for the 2008 slaying of Imad Mughniyah. Anti-terrorism officials fear a new militant hub.
By Sebastian Rotella
May 30, 2009
Los Angeles Times

In contrast to the alleged plots in Egypt and the Spiegel article, at least this plot sounds plausible. To a certain degree, that is:

“The group cased other targets, developing plans to bomb a radar tower, prosecutors say.”

What?

And, again, the timing is very interesting:

“The prosecution remained largely a secret until this week, when closed court proceedings began for two Lebanese and four Azeris charged with terrorism, espionage and other crimes.”

Just a coincidence, of course:

Hizbullah Cell on Trial in Cairo Next Week

Informed Egyptian sources said that Egyptian Public Prosecutor Abdel Maguid Mahmoud would refer all arrested suspects belonging to the Hizbullah cell to trial days before the beginning of the Lebanese parliamentary elections on June 7.
Naharnet

May 31st, 2009, 8:14 am

 

Shai said:

Minor Victory: Israel Beitenu’s “Loyalty Law” rejected by majority in government. Only Israel Beitenu’s representatives voted “for”. All others voted against it.

May 31st, 2009, 12:13 pm

 

norman said:

This should make all of us , Arabs proud ,look he is an Arab from Iraq , there is no religion attached to him ,

Print Back to story

Iraq-born teen cracks maths puzzle
Thu May 28, 8:41 am ET

STOCKHOLM (AFP) – A 16-year-old Iraqi immigrant living in Sweden has cracked a maths puzzle that has stumped experts for more than 300 years, Swedish media reported on Thursday.

In just four months, Mohamed Altoumaimi has found a formula to explain and simplify the so-called Bernoulli numbers, a sequence of calculations named after the 17th century Swiss mathematician Jacob Bernoulli, the Dagens Nyheter daily said.

Altoumaimi, who came to Sweden six years ago, said teachers at his high school in Falun, central Sweden were not convinced about his work at first.

“When I first showed it to my teachers, none of them thought the formula I had written down really worked,” Altoumaimi told the Falu Kuriren newspaper.

He then got in touch with professors at Uppsala University, one of Sweden’s top institutions, to ask them to check his work.

After going through his notebooks, the professors found his work was indeed correct and offered him a place in Uppsala.

But for now, Altoumaimi is focusing on his school studies and plans to take summer classes in advanced mathematics and physics this year.

“I wanted to be a researcher in physics or mathematics; I really like those subjects. But I have to improve in English and social sciences,” he told the Falu Kuriren.

Copyright © 2009 Yahoo! Inc. All rights reserved.Questions or CommentsPrivacy PolicyTerms of ServiceCopyright/IP Policy

May 31st, 2009, 12:19 pm

 

norman said:

Shai,

I think that Israel is better off considering itself to be a Hebrew state with different religions than a Jewish state , as you know many Jews changed religion ,this way they would not scare the non Jewish citizens of expelling ,

May 31st, 2009, 12:25 pm

 

norman said:

No comment,

One-third of Syrians live in “informal” housing, study finds
Business News
May 31, 2009, 10:32 GMT

Damascus – More than 35 per cent of Syrians live in ‘informal,’ often ramshackle houses, a new Syrian study has found.

This arrangement poses a threat to the ecology of Syria and is an impediment to the development of the country, the government’s Commission for Family Affairs concluded in its study, the results of which were published in Syria’s state daily Tishreen on Sunday.

Respondents told the commission that rising commodity prices, medical expenses, debt and taxes were the most serious problems they faced, and that they would need at least another 5,000 Syrian pounds (106 dollars) a month to make ends meet.

A typical Syrian household includes six people, living on an average of 15,000 Syrian pounds (318 US dollars) a month, the study found, though in some areas, such as the northeastern Syrian city of Dair al-Zur, the average is higher, with as many as 10 people living under one roof.

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Read more: “One-third of Syrians live in “informal” housing, study finds – Monsters and Critics” – http://www.monstersandcritics.com/news/business/news/article_1480493.php/One-third_of_Syrians_live_in_%26quotinformal%26quot_housing_study_finds_#ixzz0H5Thvl9W&A

May 31st, 2009, 12:42 pm

 

norman said:

DAMASCUS – Syria’s leading dissident said on Sunday U.S. efforts to improve ties with Damascus could help democratic reform in his homeland.

Riad al-Turk, 79, told Reuters in a rare interview that U.S. President Barack Obama’s initiative could also undermine what he called an “unconvincing alliance” between Syria and Iran.

Although arrests of opposition figures have continued despite U.S.-Syrian diplomatic contacts, mending relations between the two countries would make it difficult for Damascus to crush dissent, Turk said.

“The rapprochement helps stabilise the Middle East and puts pressure on the Syrian regime to improve its policies,” he said.

“It could be difficult for the regime to change its attitude toward Lebanon or Iraq and its role in the region without improving ties with its own society,” he added.

Such improvements would help reform, said Turk, who spent around 18 years in solitary confinement as a political prisoner under the rule of President Bashar al-Assad’s father, the late Hafez al-Assad.

“The regime would no longer be able to justify internal policy by talking about external dangers,” said Turk.

The United States started talking to Syria shortly after Obama took office in January, departing from a policy of isolation under his predecessor, George W. Bush.

Bush imposed sanctions on Damascus for what Washington described as Syrian support for insurgents in Iraq, its role in Lebanon and backing for militant groups such as Hezbollah — also backed by Iran.

The United States hopes that by talking to Syria and supporting efforts to resume peace talks between the Damascus government and Israel, Assad would break away from Iran.

Opposition Alliance
Undaunted by age, the scars of prison and six surgical operations, Turk remains the leading opponent of the Baath Party’s monopoly on Syria’s political system.

He has worked to spread democratic thought and maintain a broad opposition alliance known as the Damascus Declaration, after 12 of its younger members were arrested in late 2007 and sentenced to two-and-a-half years in jail each.

Senior U.S. officials have visited Damascus twice this year since March, but the talks have not prevented Syrian authorities from pursuing a campaign of arrests against dissidents.

Turk said he was under no illusion that Syria’s ruling elite might resist change, but ordinary Syrians also stand to benefit from a normalisation of ties with Washington that helps revive Syria’s battered economy and unhook the noose of sanctions.

Among high profile Syrian figures to be convicted recently of political crimes was Meshaal Tammo, an advocate of Kurdish self-determination who was sentenced this month to three-and-a-half years jail for “weakening national moral”.

Michel Kilo, a leading writer, served a three-year term on the same charge and was released around 10 days ago.

“Kilo said that jails do not change convictions. Ruthlessness only undermines the regime,” Turk said.

Turk was jailed after he refused to strike deals with Hafez al-Assad and criticised Syria’s armed intervention in Lebanon and a crackdown on Muslim fundamentalists that culminated in thousands of deaths.

Turk spent 15 months more in prison for leading the Damascus Spring, a period dominated by calls for democratic reform that lasted almost a year after Bashar succeeded his father in 2000.

Bashar took limited steps to open the economy but made it clear political reform was not a priority with Syria under U.S. pressure, which he said threatened national cohesion.

Turk welcomed Obama’s commitment to seeking peace between Syria and Israel, and between Israel and the Palestinians. But he said the two tracks should go hand in hand and warned that peace alone would not guarantee Middle East stability.

“Since Israel was created in 1948, Arab countries, with the exception of Lebanon, have only been ruled by tyrannies that shattered their societies through terrorism, corruption and plunder,” he said.

“The crisis in the region cannot be solved without moving from tyranny to freedom and the rule of law.”

Turk urged Syria to mend ties with Egypt and Saudi Arabia, as well as boost an Arab peace initiative launched at an Arab summit seven years ago that offers Israel normal relations in return for full withdrawal from occupied Arab land.

“Iran would no longer use the Palestinian-Israeli conflict to its own ends if a solution is reached,” he said.

“Syria must not allow any compromise with Israel to come at the expense of the Palestinian cause and to the advantage of the racist government in Israel, which just wants to cause delays.”

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May 31st, 2009, 12:53 pm

 

Shai said:

Norman,

The problem is that Israel was created because Jews felt unsafe in many nations, especially in Europe. To us, Israel is the only true safe haven for Jews, hence the “Jewish State”. That Occupation and natural growth is already changing the demographic reality, is something most Israelis aren’t considering enough.

I think in the end, say 50 years from now, Israelis will have to feel that Israel is still their “Jewish State” (safe haven), but almost without a doubt there will be a non-Jewish majority. If Israel at last chooses peace in the region, and respects the rights of its neighbors, it will find with time that Jews are safe also in such an Israel. And then, we will be able to live without fear in a state run by Jews and non-Jews.

May 31st, 2009, 2:19 pm

 

norman said:

Shai,

Some people in the West feel that there is no reason to have an only Jewish state now that Jews have equal rights in Western countries and there are laws against discrimination of Jews.

May 31st, 2009, 2:47 pm

 

Shai said:

Norman,

I of course understand that. But we in Israel are still suffering from fear and paranoia. I’m not trying to use the Holocaust as an excuse in any way for Israel’s behavior towards the Palestinians, be it the forced transfer in 1947-48, or the Occupation since 1967, but there is no doubt that most Israelis still fear being a minority ever again.

The only way I can describe it to you is to ask you to imagine living in the U.S. as a minority (as you do), knowing that no nation on earth has a majority Muslim population. Add to that a world Muslim population of 18 million only, and then 1/3 of it wiped out some 70 years ago. I still remember my grandmother’s sister’s tattoo from Auschwitz, and her horror stories. It’s a psychological state we’re still very much in, Norman, not rational. Once we finally have peace, Jews in Israel and worldwide will begin to feel safe.

May 31st, 2009, 2:56 pm

 

norman said:

Shai,

Israel is not moving to make the Jews safer,It producing hate against them,

Look at the comment section,here,

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2009/05/31/daniel-herschkowitz-obama_n_209461.html

May 31st, 2009, 3:12 pm

 

Shai said:

Norman,

Yes of course, you’re right. But many in Israel just don’t get it. And when Americans react as they do (on that comment section for instance), there are those here who say “You see, they’re Antisemitic, and that’s why we can depend on no one but ourselves… and therefore must build more (settlements) not less…” And that’s why, when Bibi hears a flat NO from Obama regarding helping Israel attack Iran, he tells the media the next day “Israel, and Israel only, will save us from the Iranian threat…”

There is no attempt to explain WHY people across the world vehemently disagree with our policy and action. There is only a childish interpretation and resulting anger towards those who don’t support us. This perhaps is one of the consequences of getting used to “blind support” (and quite substantial financial and military one) from the U.S., for so many years.

I’m of course not against this support, but I certainly AM against the blind aspect of it. The U.S. (and AIPAC) must not support Israel all the time. That’s not in the interest of the Jewish world, nor in Israel’s.

May 31st, 2009, 3:25 pm

 

norman said:

Shai,
with Israel having at least 200 nuclear weapons and the support that Israel got in the 1973 war that saved Israel , I see that Israel uses it’s fear as an excuse to expand ,

I see no chance of peace with this policy ,

And that is my take.

May 31st, 2009, 5:23 pm

 

t_desco said:

Strange:

The plagiarism by Der Spiegel

Syrian dissident, Nizar Nayyuf, will be suing Der Spiegel because its report on alleged Hizbullah role in the assassination of Rafiq Hariri was lifted (almost word-for-word) from this article published months ago.
As’ad AbuKhalil

Funny. I did not find the original article when I searched for it (all I found was a copy posted on a board after the Spiegel article had already been published). I also found no sign of any discussion about the article prior to the publication by Der Spiegel. Finally, some parts of the article (1., 2., 3., etc.) reminded me of yet another article that I unfortunately did not save because of the obvious factual error (it is possible that Sunni fundamentalists bought the phone cards in Tripoli, but the investigators never said that).

It was very odd when UN spokeswoman Radhia Achouri made the following comment (but at least she also did not find the original article…):

“Tribunal spokeswoman Achouri also said a story in Lebanese newspaper As-Safir was inaccurate in reporting that Follath had copied his story from an article on the Syrian opposition Web site Al-Haqiqa.”
The Daily Star, May 28, 2009

Why does she have to get involved in an argument between As-Safir, Al-Haqiqa and Der Spiegel? Is she a spokeswoman for Mr Bellemare or a spokeswoman for Al-Haqiqa or Der Spiegel?

May 31st, 2009, 5:37 pm

 

Shai said:

Norman, I agree with your take… 🙂

May 31st, 2009, 5:49 pm

 

norman said:

Envoy to visit Syria as Obama ups detente
By Daniel Dombey in Washington

Published: May 31 2009 18:32 | Last updated: May 31 2009 18:32

Barack Obama is set to send his Middle East envoy to Syria in the most concrete sign yet of rapprochement between Washington and Damascus.

The expected trip by George Mitchell, the former Senator heading US efforts on the Arab-Israeli conflict, comes as the president himself prepares to visit the region. Mr Obama will arrive in Saudi Arabia, on Wednesday, then travel to Egypt, where he will deliver an eagerly awaited address to the Muslim world. He will subsequently visit Germany and France.

EDITOR’S CHOICE
Opinion: Obama must respect the choice of Lebanon’s voters – May-28Analysis: New model army? – May-28In depth: Obama’s first year – May-07The White House sees the speech, at Cairo University, as an opportunity for a fresh start with Muslims worldwide after US popularity dived during George W. Bush’s presidency.

In a form of words at odds with Mr Bush’s rhetoric on freedom and democracy, Robert Gibbs, White House spokesman, said Mr Obama would “outline his personal commitment to engagement, based upon mutual interests and mutual respect”.

By contrast, in a 2005 Cairo speech Condoleezza Rice, then secretary of state, urged Egypt to give “its citizens the freedom to choose” by meeting the “objective standards that define every free election”. While Ms Rice announced a break with the 60-year-old policy of pursuing stability in the Middle East, the White House says Mr Obama’s speech will show the US “returning to proven and effective policies and initiatives”.

Many countries in the region want the speech to lay out a specific US peace plan to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, in spite of administration efforts to play down such hopes.

By travelling to Syria – he would be the highest-ranking administration official since 2005 to visit – Mr Mitchell would provide a further sign of the Obama administration’s interest in not just a Palestinian-Israeli agreement but also a comprehensive peace involving Syria and Lebanon.

His trip, which could come as early as this week, would also highlight the extent to which the Obama team is prepared to break with previous US policy. The Bush administration shut off contacts with Syria because of its suspected involvement in the assassination of Rafiq Hariri, a former Lebanese prime minister, in 2005.

Mr Obama sent a small delegation to Damascus in March but it did not meet Bashar al-Assad, Syrian president. US officials told Syria a trip by Mr Mitchell would be the next step.

Washington is eager for results from the administration’s policy of engagement at a time when countries such as Iran have shown ­little appetite to compromise. Syria, which welcomed Mr Mitchell’s appointment, has long maintained that any initiative for peace can succeed only through talks with all parties.

In a recent note, J Scott Carpenter, a fellow at the Washington Institute for Near East policy, argued that Mr Obama’s speech – and its likely expression of commitment to Middle East peace – would be aimed at bolstering “moderate” opinion ahead of Lebanon’s parliamentary and Iran’s presidential elections this month. “Unfortunately, experience indicates that whatever he proposes will fall short of expectations,” he said.
Copyright The Financial Times Limited 2009

May 31st, 2009, 6:39 pm

 

Akbar Palace said:

Israel is not moving to make the Jews safer…

Norman,

Since this seems to be a concern of yours, why don’t you
tell us how Israel can make the Jews safer?

May 31st, 2009, 6:45 pm

 

norman said:

AP,

By securing a peace treaty with the Arab and Muslim worlds that guarantees Israel existence and open these markets for Israel , while it is the strongest country in the Mideast and before Iran and others get the Nuclear technology .

Just remember Israel can not take one major defeat.

May 31st, 2009, 7:16 pm

 

majid said:

Sorry Norman you got that wrong.

Muslims and Arabs don’t want to trade with the zionist entity even if they make so-called peace. Why would they do that? There is not a single good reason. Muslims have the money and have the market. So why would they give an anomaly legitimacy and preferred status. It doesn’t make sense. Muslims are also advancing. Pakistan already has nuclear technology. Iran will soon follow suit. So let them swallow their bombs up their belly.

May 31st, 2009, 7:24 pm

 

norman said:

Majid,

AP asked for a way to save Israel, I gave my thoughts , on the other hand if you think that the Arab and Muslims can get rid of Israel , good for you , but so far all the money being spent on Arms seems to be just in the warehouses for the US to use to attack Arab countries while we are (( The Arabs)) are paying for them.

May 31st, 2009, 9:09 pm

 

majid said:

OK Norman, that’s how it appears to you on the surface. A person with your insight should know better. Wait until the Mahdi (A.S.) appears (very very soon) and you’ll see everything the way you like. It is not our responsibility to save the zionist anomaly. Why do we want to do that? Who invited them over? Who wants an anomaly in his midst? It all doesn’t make sense. Crusaders did the same and how long they lasted? 200 years? It won’t take that long for these new comers – the zio-crusades. Have some patience man.

May 31st, 2009, 9:44 pm

 

norman said:

Majid,

You are probably being sarcastic, Either way , may peace reach that part of the world so people and leaders would worry about improving their lives instead of worrying about how to destroy somebody else’s.

May 31st, 2009, 10:00 pm

 

Akbar Palace said:

Invitation Only

Norman,

Thanks. You surprised me with your answer.

However, Majid’s answer poured water all over your pretty picture.

Wait until the Mahdi (A.S.) appears (very very soon) and you’ll see everything the way you like. It is not our responsibility to save the zionist anomaly. Why do we want to do that? Who invited them over?

Majid,

Apparently you are a devout muslim. Doesn’t the Koran discuss the hebrews/jews as a people that originated from Palestine and the ME?

“To Moses We [Allah] gave nine clear signs. Ask the Israelites how he [Moses] first appeared amongst them. Pharoah said to him: ‘Moses, I can see that you are bewitched.’ ‘You know full well,’ he [Moses] replied, ‘that none but the Lord of the heavens and the earth has revealed these visible signs. Pharoah, you are doomed.'”

“Pharoah sought to scare them [the Israelites] out of the land [of Israel]: but We [Allah] drowned him [Pharoah] together with all who were with him. Then We [Allah] said to the Israelites: ‘Dwell in this land [the Land of Israel]. When the promise of the hereafter [End of Days] comes to be fulfilled, We [Allah] shall assemble you [the Israelites] all together [in the Land of Israel].”

“We [Allah] have revealed the Qur’an with the truth, and with the truth it has come down. We have sent you [Muhammed] forth only to proclaim good news and to give warning.”

[Qur’an, “Night Journey,” chapter 17:100-104]

“And [remember] when Moses said to his people: ‘O my people, call in remembrance the favour of God unto you, when he produced prophets among you, made you kings, and gave to you what He had not given to any other among the peoples. O my people, enter the Holy Land which God has assigned unto you, and turn not back ignominiously, for then will ye be overthrown, to your own ruin.'”

[Qur’an 5:20-21]

“And thereafter We [Allah] said to the Children of Israel: ‘Dwell securely in the Promised Land. And when the last warning will come to pass, we will gather you together in a mingled crowd.'”

[Qur’an 17:104]

Have a nice day,

AP

June 2nd, 2009, 11:37 am

 

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