Posted by Joshua on Tuesday, September 7th, 2010
I was recently asked by a Turkish think-tank if I believed that the Special Lebanon Tribunal indictments would destabilize Lebanon? Here is how I answered:
The Tribunal’s indictments will probably not be politically explosive. Even though the Special Tribunal was originally conceived by the US to further its political objectives in the region which included eliminating Syrian influence in Lebanon and disarming Hizbullah, those objectives have largely been abandoned. Renewed Saudi-Syrian cooperation and the survival of Lebanon’s national unity government suggest that regional powers and Lebanese politicians are cooperating to make sure that the indictments will not be explosive and will not change the communal balance of power in Lebanon or undermine the government.
Prime Minister Saad Hariri’s statement today that he made a mistake in blaming Syria for killing his father seems designed to ensure Lebanon’s stability.
Sa’ad al-Hariri signals further rapprochement with Syria, saying it was a mistake to blame Damascus for his father’s 2005 murder
Lebanon ‘s prime minister, Sa’ad al-Hariri, has said it was a “mistake” to accuse Syria of the assassination of his father, Rafiq al-Hariri.
Hariri’s comments mark part of the ongoing reconciliation between the two countries following Syria’s withdrawal from Lebanon after the “Cedar Revolution ” protests that were triggered by the 2005 killing.
“At a certain point we made a mistake in accusing Syria of assassinating the martyred prime minster,” Hariri told al-Sharq al-Awsat , the London-based Saudi daily. “That was a political accusation and that political accusation has now come to an end.” The UN tribunal investigating the affair would look “only at the evidence”, he added.
Syria, which was widely blamed for the bombing that killed Hariri and 22 others, has always denied involvement but the issue remains highly sensitive in Lebanon.
One Sided Comments: A SC reader writes:
I’ve been subscribed to your blog for several years now and I always enjoy receiving it. It’s a wonderful way to keep abreast with what’s happening in Syria, my country of residence for the past seven years now. However, I couldn’t help feeling the comments you chose to publish in response to the Sept. 3 NY Times article were terribly one-sided. Mix with practicing Muslims in Syria, and you will find the poor and the rich, the illiterate and the educated, the frustrated and the content. The only common element is that all of them, in one way or another, find a religious worldview helps them to make sense of the world and of their place in it. It may be that there are more liberal ways of casting that worldview, more in line with modern society. It may be there is room for reform within religious legal interpretation. Only by allowing free debate will all options get a free airing and the best ones rise to the surface. And if there are people who believe secularism is the only way to go, let them argue their stance too. But what really bothers me is the elitist attitude that secularism must be forcibly imposed on the masses for their own good, because they’re too dumb to know any better. There’s frighteningly little room for democracy in such a stance.
Leaders of both states say that Israel must return to pre-1967 borders in order to end Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Jordanian King Abdullah II and Syrian President Bashar Assad on Monday stressed the need for Israel to pull out from all Arab territories it occupied in the 1967 war, if peace with the Palestinians is to be achieved.
Abdullah made a whirlwind visit to Damascus to brief the Syrian leader on the outcome of his talks in Washington last week with United States President Barack Obama, Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, a royal court statement said.
The monarch had attended the six-way meeting on the eve of direct talks between Israel and the Palestinians being relaunched Thursday.
Abdullah and Assad “emphasized that resolving the Palestinian- Israeli conflict on the basis of the two-state vision requires the regaining of all Arab rights in accordance with … the Arab peace initiative,” the statement said.
The Arab peace initiative offered Israel recognition by all Arab states if it pulled out from all Arab territories it occupied in the 1967 Six-Day Warr, including East Jerusalem.
Was dining in a popular Turkish restaurant in Aleppo yesterday that is frequented by Turks. The TV was tuned to a Turkish news channel. When a report and rally by Erdogan and his wife started (some local campaigning or something), every one in the restaurant, including the waiters, stopped whatever they’re doing and started following enthusiastically for 30 minutes or so, followed by positive and cheerful discussions. The guy is very popular internally and regionally.
New 2010 World Bank figures for doing business in Syria have been posted. In almost every category Syria has lost ground. In the ease of doing business category, it fell five places to 143 from 138. In ease-of-enforcing-contracts it fell only one from 176 to 175.
Cellular News: Syrian Operators to Pay $500 Million for License Conversions
Syria’s two incumbent mobile networks, Syriatel and MTN-Syria will be asked to pay SYP 25 billion (US$500 million) to convert their existing Built-Operate-Transfer (BOT) agreements into conventional licenses, Click here for more.
اتفاق روسي – اسرائيلي للتعاون العسكري يعطي “دفعاً جديداً” لعلاقات البلدين
من اليمين رئيس الوزراء الروسي فلاديمير بوتين ووزير الدفاع الاسرائيلي ايهود باراك في اجتماعهما بسوتشي على البحر الاسود. (أ ب)
وقعت روسيا واسرائيل أمس اتفاق إطار للتعاون العسكري قال وزير الدفاع الروسي أناتولي سيرديوكوف إنه يعطي دفعاً جديداً للعلاقات بين الجانبين ويؤدي الى زيادة صفقات شراء الأسلحة والتكنولوجيا الإسرائيلية.
A Syrian soap opera that tackles such taboos as homosexuality, corruption and extra-marital sex in the predominantly conservative Muslim country is proving hugely popular during Ramadan. The TV drama “Ma Malakat Aymanukum,” which takes its name from …
Planned Quran-burning could endanger troops, Petraeus warns
CNN Monday, September 06
(CNN) — The U.S. commander in Afghanistan on Monday criticized a Florida church’s plan to burn copies of the Quran on September 11, warning the demonstration “could cause significant problems” for American troops overseas.
“It could endanger troops and it could endanger the overall effort in Afghanistan,” Gen. David Petraeus said in a statement issued Monday….
POLITICO’s Ken Vogel and Giovanni Russonello dig into the money trail of the Park51 Islamic community center, and the campaign against it:
IDF document: “policy principle: separating Gaza from West Bank”
Promised Land blog, September 5th, 2010 | Author: noam
….The recent IDF slideshow is the first time an Israeli official document publicly declares that the current policy objective is to create two separate political entities in the Palestinian territories.
Nirit Ben-Ari, spokeswoman for Gisha, an Israeli NGO dealing with the freedom of movement, export and import to and from the Palestinian territories, said that “while in Washington a Palestinian state is being negotiated and people are already discussing ‘a train line between Gaza and Ramallah‘, in reality Israel is working to separate Gaza from the West bank even further than the separation already caused by the split in the Palestinian leadership.
“This policy is aimed against civilian population and against people who have nothing to do with Israel’s security concerns. It hurts family ties, and harms any future possibility to develop commerce, education and economical life in the Palestinian society. Those policies should raise concerns regarding the intentions of the Israeli government in Gaza.”….