“Lebanon’s Coming Crisis” by Firas Maksad

This cartoon is from Jeha's Nail:

Firas Maksad sees the crisis in Lebanon coming to a head in April-May as the government pushes for a chapter seven UN Security Council resolution mandating the Hariri tribunal prior to French President Jacque Chirac's departure from office in mid-May. Firas Maksad is an analyst with "The Eurasia Group." He wrote this on 4 April 2007. I copy only excerpts:

Saudi Arabia's marginalization of Syria came to an end at the Arab Summit with King Abdullah meeting with President Bashar al Assad twice in 48 hours. Apparently the more hawkish camp led by National Security Advisor Prince Bandar bin Sultan is losing ground to Foreign Minister Saud al Faisal, who is in favor of engaging Syria rather than confronting it in an effort to check Iran's rising influence. Yet while such development bodes well for the chances of a compromise in Beirut, leaks indicate that the discussions on Lebanon did not go beyond generalities and that the differences remain. This is particularly disconcerting given the limited timeframe available for compromise. Lebanon's governing anti-Syrian coalition is expected to push for a chapter seven UN Security Council resolution mandating the Hariri tribunal prior to French President Jacque Chirac's departure from office in mid-May.

Further contributing to the sense of pessimism is information that Syria recently turned down a deal on the tribunal floated by Egypt. The deal reportedly involved limiting the responsibility for Hariri's assassination to former Head of Syrian General Intelligence Bahjat Suleiman in return for Syrian cooperation on Lebanon, the Palestinian Territories and Iraq. If true, this would indicate rising confidence in Damascus and a decision to play for time until Chirac's and then Bush's departure from office. Such a policy would not be unfounded …. Damascus will therefore probably prefer to maintain the defiant tone, preventing the tribunal's passage through the Lebanese parliament, painting its passage by the UN Security Council as an illegitimate foreign plot and eventually rejecting its finding.

The tribunal's possible establishment through the Security Council however will mark a new phase in the Lebanese crisis and could debilitate all branches of government….. The Saudi-Syrian dialogue on Lebanon needs to achieve a substantial breakthrough prior to the end of April; otherwise a new set of negative dynamics will likely come into play.

Asharq Al-Awsat published the results of a Lebanese opinion poll showing that although Aoun has lost support, he iremains the most popular Christian leader. Only half of Lebanon's Sunnis approve of the policies of the March 14 governing coalition. The writer suggests that Lebanon is too unstable to absorb the international tribunal and that the only thing that can save Lebanon is a Taif II and Madrid II. (Thanks Alex)

لبنان: الحل في «مدريد ـ 2» و«طائف ـ 2»

لتبرئة السياسيين اللبنانيين من طريقة تعاملهم مع لبنان، يمكن الادعاء بأن مقولة: «ومن الحب ما قتل» تنطبق عليهم جميعاً من دون استثناء. إذ أن تعاملهم مع «الوطن» لم يسمح ببروز معادلة واحدة يتفق حولها اللبنانيون، كما إن مواقفهم المتشنجة أفرزت قرارات شقت الصف اللبناني، ويدل هذا كله على أن كل مسؤول لبناني إنما يعمل لمصلحته الخاصة وليس لمصلحة وطنه، وعلى هذا تتفق الغالبية من اللبنانيين.

ليس صحيحاً أن كل الشيعة اللبنانيين متفقون على بقاء سلاح «حزب الله» كما انه ليس صحيحاً أن كل اللبنانيين الذين يعارضون توجهات وأهداف «حزب الله» متفقون على ضرورة قيام المحكمة الدولية، وليس هذان الموضوعان فقط موضع خلاف بين اللبنانيين، إنما هما الأبرز، ويأتي بعدهما موضوع العلاقة مع سوريا والوجود الفلسطيني المسلح في المخيمات وخارجها، وانتشار فرق أصولية مسلحة هنا وهناك.

المشاكل الخطيرة التي يعاني منها لبنان هي انعكاس لمشاكل إقليمية معقدة، وخطورتها أنها تغطي على مشاكل وأزمات المواطن اللبناني الذي لم يعد يجد حتى نائباً مجهولاً يهتم بواحد من شؤونه اليومية. كل النواب اللبنانيين ضمن تكتلات سياسية، وكل تكتل «اكبر» من القضايا المعيشية ومشغول «إقليميا»!

يقول لي مصدر لبناني، إن البلد متجه إلى أسوأ مما هو عليه الآن، «إذا لم تكن هناك مدريد ـ2 وطائف ـ2».

و«على أمل» أن يتحقق ذلك، تعيش «الطوائف» اللبنانية حالة من عدم الثقة. وحسب إحصاءات مؤسسة «الدولية للمعلومات»، يلاحظ أن نسبة عالية من أبناء الطائفة المارونية لا تثق بأحد: لا بفرنسا ولا بأميركا ولا بإيران وحكماً لا تثق بسوريا.

ويقول لي جواد عدرا مدير المؤسسة: «تشعر الطائفة المارونية بأنها خُدعت من قبل الجميع، ورغم أن الجنرال ميشال عون لا يزال الرقم واحد في الطائفة المارونية إلا انه خسر من شعبيته لا سيما في الأشهر الثلاثة الماضية بعد مسألة الاعتصام الذي اثر سلباً على الاقتصاد والتجارة في البلد».

أما السنّة، وحسب الإحصاءات، فيقول عدرا: هناك نسبة مرتفعة تقارب ربما 50% ليست مع سعد الحريري، إنما ليست مع أي طرف آخر، قسم منها موزع ما بين عمر كرامي، وسليم الحص ونجيب ميقاتي (رؤساء حكومة سابقون)، والغالبية ليست مع احد».

ونصل إلى الطائفة الشيعية، فأثناء الحرب وبعدها كان هناك شبه إجماع يقارب 80% إلى 90% في تأييد «حزب الله» وبدأ الآن يظهر تراجع في تأييد الشيعة للحزب، واكتُشف ذلك من خلال ارتفاع شعبية نبيه بري رئيس المجلس النيابي ورئيس حركة «أمل» الشيعية، ليس لأن بري تفوق في أمر ما، إنما كي لا يقول الشيعي «انه لا يؤيد حزب الله، يتخذ من نبيه بري غطاء» كما يقول عدرا.

كما يتردد في لبنان أن جماعة «أمل» تبدي انزعاجاً ملحوظاً لأن أفرادها خسروا منازلهم في الحرب الأخيرة إنما لم يحصلوا على تعويضات وزعها «حزب الله».

وحسب الإحصاءات الأخيرة، فان هناك نسبة 42% من الشيعة ترى أن إبقاء سلاح «حزب الله» ضمانة وطنية كي لا تقصف إسرائيل لبنان، و15% مع بقائه حتى إيجاد حل للصراع العربي ـ الإسرائيلي (هؤلاء لا يريدون نزعه) و23% مع بقائه للدفاع عن لبنان بالتنسيق مع الدولة، و11% مع تسليمه بعد تحرير مزارع شبعا والأسرى و5% مع إجراء حوار حول نزعه.

لكن مع الاعتصامات التي دعا إليها «حزب الله» لوحظ انه خسر من وهجه، فبدل أن يقول انه صار أداة تغيير في كل المنطقة، انحصرت مشكلته في ساحات بيروت. والأنظمة التي كان يمكن أن تهددها ظاهرة مثل «حزب الله» مرتاحة الآن. ويُظهر هذا من ناحية أخرى، أن لا كبير واحداً في لبنان، فاللبنانيون كما يبنون بسرعة يدمرون بسرعة أيضا.

وحول نزع سلاح «حزب الله» يقول الدكتور بول سالم مدير «معهد كارنغي للسلام ـ فرع لبنان»، «إن القوة الدفاعية التي يملكها «حزب الله» جيدة لأي دولة وهي جيدة للبنان، لأن قواتنا القتالية محدودة، لكن بعد عام 2000 إثر الانسحاب الإسرائيلي، كان يجب أن يندرج سلاح «حزب الله» تحت إطار الشرعية اللبنانية ويكون قرار الحرب والسلم بيد اللبنانيين الممثلين بدولتهم»..

ويرفض الدكتور سالم تأجيل قيام الدولة اللبنانية بانتظار أن نتأكد أين تقع مزارع شبعا: «عندها ما من دولة في العالم تسير إلى الأمام فكل الدول لديها خلافات مع جيرانها حول بعض تفاصيل الحدود، هناك السعودية والكويت، الكويت والعراق، العراق وإيران وإيران وتركيا وهذا أمر طبيعي ولا يمكن أن تتوقف الحياة السياسية والأمنية لبلد بأكمله لأن هناك مشكلة في الخريطة على ارض معينة، فهذه تُدرس وتعالج بطريقة أخرى»..

ومن سلاح «حزب الله» إلى المحكمة في قضية اغتيال رئيس الوزراء رفيق الحريري..

ويقول لي أحد السياسيين اللبنانيين: «أليس من حدود للبحث عن الحقيقة؟ أنا في بلد لم يجر مصالحة وطنية بعد حرب أودت بحياة 200 ألف إنسان، ونظامي يتفكك ثم يأتون ويطلبون مني أن انشر قوات دولية على الحدود مع سوريا واعقد محكمة دولية، انا لست دولة عظمى». ويقول انه سأل احد الأشخاص: اذا طلبت المحكمة التحقيق مع أمين عام «حزب الله» السيد حسن نصر الله فماذا يحصل؟ فأجابه: «نجري له فيديو ـ كونفرانس»!»!

ان للمحكمة تعقيداتها الإقليمية وقد تكون أصعب من نزع سلاح «حزب الله»، إذ لا حل وسطاً فيها، إما تنعقد أو لا تنعقد. ويقول الدكتور سالم: «إنها ابيض أو اسود ولو أن البعض يقول، إذا عدّلنا هذه المادة أو تلك نصل إلى الحل الوسط.

عملياً ليس هناك من حل وسط، فعندما تنشأ محكمة وتتلقى تقريراً مطولاً فإما ان تصل المعلومات التي يتضمنها التقرير إلى محكمة ذات طابع دولي أو لن تصل»..

ويبدو انه ليس هناك من مخرج لهذه المشكلة. الدكتور سالم «يؤيد قيام المحكمة بالتأكيد» ويضيف، انه في حالة اغتيال رؤساء وزرائنا، وسياسيينا وصحافيينا لا يمكن لدولة تحترم نفسها أو لشعب يحترم نفسه أن يأتي ويقول انه لا يريد التحقيق، لكن يعترف الدكتور سالم بأنها مشكلة، إذ لا يوجد ما يُسمى «قتله قليلاً» والمحكمة ستظهر نتائج قد لا تناسب البعض..

وهذا كما يبدو هو السبب الرئيسي لعدم الوصول إلى تسوية وجرجرة الوضع في لبنان. وإذا كان يمكن إيجاد حل وسط لمشكلة سلاح «حزب الله» بالقول بتأجيل موضوعه مدة سنة، أو إيجاد حل وسط لتشكيل الحكومة عبر التفاوض على عدد وزراء كل طرف، فان لا حل وسطاً للمحكمة. والحل الوحيد إما الغاؤها أو السير بها..

ويقول سالم: «حتى إدخال تعديلات على المواد يعني السير فيها، وليس التعديل هو الحل الوسط، ولا وجود لحكم بـ«السجن قليلاً»، وإذا جرت المحكمة ذات الطابع الدولي وتقدم لها تقرير مطول فالضرر سيصيب الطرف الرافض بغض النظر إذا تم تسليم المتهم لاحقاً للمحكمة أو عدم سجنه، لأن المعلومات الحقيقية ستكشف للرأي العام العالمي، ولا تعود من أهمية للمواقف السياسية». «من هنا، وحتى مع التعديلات فان المحكمة تكون أو لا تكون».

حتى الآن ليس واضحاً ما إذا كان «حزب الله» متخوف مباشرة من المحكمة أو لأن حليفه السوري متخوف منها. إن مصير «حزب الله» مرتبط نوعاً ما بالنظام السوري، خصوصاً أن هناك تحالفاً استراتيجياً بين الطرفين. ولا يريد الحزب وقوع أي أمر يؤذي حليفه. ثم إن أحدا لا يعرف حقيقة ما توصل إليه التحقيق، ويرى الحزب أن المحكمة تقف وراءها الأمم المتحدة التي مقرها نيويورك والاميركيون فاعلون فيها، ويتخوف الحزب من أن يطّلع الأجانب، عبر المحكمة على العديد من الملفات ويقول الدكتور سالم: «انه من دون شك لقيادة «حزب الله» مخاوف عامة من إنشاء محكمة واسعة الصلاحيات وطويلة الأمد. فالمرحلة الأولى ثلاث سنوات والباب مفتوح، وتملك حق التحقيق والسجن وستكون نوعاً من سلطة جديدة في لبنان ولها طابع أجنبي، ولا يرغب «حزب الله»، حسب مفهومه السياسي، في أن يدخل أجهزة استخبارات جديدة عليه».

. فالمرحلة الأولى ثلاث سنوات والباب مفتوح، وتملك حق التحقيق والسجن وستكون نوعاً من سلطة جديدة في لبنان ولها طابع أجنبي، ولا يرغب «حزب الله»، حسب مفهومه السياسي، في أن يدخل أجهزة استخبارات جديدة عليه».

لقد صار معروفاً أن سوريا لا تريد سماع كلمة «المحكمة»، ونجحت حتى الآن في عدم قيامها عبر حلفائها في لبنان. ويمكن تخيل سيناريوهات لإقناع سوريا بقبول المحكمة احدها شبيه بسيناريو ليبيا ولوكربي، بمعنى أن يجري تحقيق ويتم ايجاد مخرج معين ثم تجري عندها فعلا «محكمة سياسية». ويتردد حالياً في لبنان، انه إذا التزمت سوريا بعدم تكرار عمليات الاغتيال، وإذا اختلف الأداء السوري، وتغيرت سياستها في لبنان، وأخذت مناحي ايجابية، وقدمت دمشق وعوداً تمكن مراقبتها لاحقاً، عندها يمكن الاتفاق على القول: إن الاغتيال وقع، وان المسؤول عنه بعض الأشخاص من الذين تجب محاكمتهم، كما حصل في ليبيا حيث يقبع المتهم المقراحي في احد السجون السكوتلاندية، ثم تبدأ مرحلة جديدة من العلاقات، ويتوقف علاج المشاكل بين لبنان وسوريا بالاغتيالات، بل على الطرفين الجلوس حول طاولة الحوار بمساعدة دول صديقة أو مجاورة وإيجاد صيغة لمصلحة سوريا ولبنان من دون قتل وتهديد مع بناء علاقات على اتفاقات جديدة غير تلك التي تمت زمن الهيمنة السورية على لبنان.

محاكمتهم، كما حصل في ليبيا حيث يقبع المتهم المقراحي في احد السجون السكوتلاندية، ثم تبدأ مرحلة جديدة من العلاقات، ويتوقف علاج المشاكل بين لبنان وسوريا بالاغتيالات، بل على الطرفين الجلوس حول طاولة الحوار بمساعدة دول صديقة أو مجاورة وإيجاد صيغة لمصلحة سوريا ولبنان من دون قتل وتهديد مع بناء علاقات على اتفاقات جديدة غير تلك التي تمت زمن الهيمنة السورية على لبنان.

إن لبنان لا يريد شيئاً من سوريا، فيما تبدو سوريا وكأنها تريد كل شيء من لبنان؟

المحكمة استحقاق هزّ لبنان، ولبنان الحالي لا يتحمل كما يبدو محكمة، لكن هل لبنان، كما هو الآن يتناسب مع ما يطمح اللبنانيون في الوصول إليه؟ إن لبنان كشعب وكفكرة ورسالة يتعزز بالمحكمة، لكن لبنان التركيبة الحالية، بصراحة لا يتحمل

A Path to Common Ground By: James A. Baker III | The Washington Post
I wholeheartedly agree with a point Lee Hamilton made in his March 25 op-ed, " A Partnership on Iraq," regarding the need for a unity of effort in Iraq. He is correct that the United States will probably falter unless President Bush and Congress reach a bipartisan consensus in the coming months.

Israel’s Protests Are Said to Stall Gulf Arms Sale
By: David S. Cloud and Helene Cooper
The New York Times

A major arms-sale package that the Bush administration is planning to offer Saudi Arabia and other Persian Gulf allies to deter Iran has been delayed because of objections from Israel, which says that the advanced weaponry would erode its military advantage over its regional rivals, according to senior United States officials.

Pakistan's Talibanization
Tuesday, April 3, 2007
ARNAUD DE BORCHGRAVE, UPI Editor at Large 

Robert Louis Stevenson's 1886 classic, "Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde," was a vivid portrayal of a split personality. Paired, the two names have come to signify bipolar behavior. As president of Pakistan, to rule a Muslim country of 160 million that is 65 percent illiterate and overwhelmingly anti-American, firmly held contradictory views are the key to survival. For President Pervez Musharraf, America is a force for good. But most Pakistanis now see the Bush administration as evil. As much as Musharraf wanted to help President George W. Bush wipe out the Taliban after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, he now concludes these young Muslim fanatics are the lesser of two evils next to the drug-fueled corruption of Afghan President Hamid Karzai's inept "democratic" government. After more than five years in office, and with billions in foreign assistance, Karzai is still struggling with 40 percent unemployment. The U.S. intelligence community recently acquired a Pakistani insider's look at what makes Musharraf tick these days. As much as he wanted U.S. victory in Iraq, he has long since concluded the United States has lost the hand to Iran. To recoup America's loss before he leaves the White House in January 2009, Musharraf believes Bush will strike Iran's nuclear facilities from air and sea. And this, in turn, will unite Sunnis and Shiites in Pakistan against all things American — and provoke a gigantic upheaval throughout the Middle East. With the whole world turning against Israel and the United States, he could not afford to continue his policy of "constructive ambiguity" toward the Bush administration.

Lawrence Wright on al-Qaida
And the winner in Iraq is: the Al-Qaeda jihadists

There is a bitter irony in the fact that the Bush administration resurrected its defeated foe by carrying the war to Iraq. This is a state that bin Laden had never placed on his list of profitable regions in which to wage jihad, simply because he knew it was a Shiite-majority country. His rival and eventual protege, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, took that decision out of bin Laden's hands and forced a shift in Al-Qaeda's strategy.

The lessons I draw from this are that Al-Qaeda is stronger now than at any time since 9/11; that the war in Iraq has given Al-Qaeda a tremendous propaganda victory; that the movement is both vast and nimble; that it will survive the deaths of any particular individuals; and that the prospects for long-term conflict with the US and Europe are almost certain.

Comments (62)


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51. Akbar Palace said:

President Anwar Sadat came to feel that the Geneva track peace process was more show than substance, and was not progressing, partly due to disagreements with Syria. He also lacked confidence in America to pressure Israel after a meeting with Carter. His frustration boiled over, and after clandestine preparatory meetings between Egyptian and Israeli officials, unknown even to the Americans, in November 1977 Anwar Sadat became the first Arab leader to visit Israel, thereby implicitly recognizing Israel.

Accompanied by their capable negotiating teams and with their respective interests in mind, both leaders converged on Camp David for thirteen days of tense and dramatic negotiations from September 5-17, 1978. By all accounts, Carter’s relentless drive to achieve peace and his reluctance to allow the two men to leave without reaching an agreement are what played the decisive role in the success of the talks.

13 days of “intense” negotiations and an Egyptians leader who, by himself, decided to address the Israeli Knesset doesn’t compare to 7 YEARS of intense negotiations between Rabin/Barak/Peres/Netanyahu, Clinton and Arafat.

It was a peace of cake in relative terms.

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

It was, and let’s call it a fact, a very successful Mossad operation to frame Syria and make Hafez look like a thug who orders his agents to put bombs on civilian planes.

Alex –

You’ve been reading too much baloney from the Palestinian Authority website….
During Hindawi’s subsequent interrogations and trial he described two conflicting stories leading up to the incident. In the first, Hindawi claimed to have arranged the plot with high-ranking officers in Syrian Air Force intelligence a year earlier in Damascus, where he was given Syrian papers and instructions for operating the explosives. He supposedly conducted a training run back in England before returning again to Syria for final details and preparation. As for the explosives themselves, Hindawi said that they were delivered to him in the Royal Garden Hotel in London on April 5, less than two weeks prior to the attempted bombing. This story is supported by the fact that Hindawi first sought refuge in the Syrian embassy after he had learned of the failed bombing, and Syrian officials were in the process of altering his appearance before he fled again, only to surrender to police. Also, British intelligence had previously intercepted Syrian communications with Hindawi’s name, Hindawi was using genuine Syrian documents although he was not Syrian, and Hindawi’s original escape plan involved leaving England with Syrian agents working on Syrian Arab Airlines.

It seems to me Syria was involved up to their eyeballs.

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

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April 10th, 2007, 2:51 am

 

52. majedkhaldoun said:

the US troops are not going to pull out of iraq,with George Bush as president,but it looks like the demonstrations in Najaf today was huge,chanting get out, you the occupiers,more of these demonstrations are expected,and these will unify the shiite and sunneh against the USA,so far this month 47 soldier died,we should expect a high umber of american death this month, it seems unlikely that honorable withdrawal is possible,anymore.why is it hard for some people to admit they were wrong?what happen to this VIRTUE?

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April 10th, 2007, 4:35 am

 

53. Alex said:

Akbar,

You will have to trust me on this one … I can not link to the video unfortunately .. DURING the 13 days at camp David at some point Mr. Begin told Sadat that he does not intend to return the Sinai!

Sadat packed his luggage and was about to leave … get the DVD please.

As for Mr. Hindawi … have you heard of double agents? .. or is this unheard of in the intelligence community?

From the same Wikipedia link you provided above:

The second story emerged during his trial, when he alleged that he was not working for the Syrians after all, but was being manipulated by Israeli intelligence, which wished to damage and embarrass the Syrian government. While the jury decided against this version of events, French Prime Minister Jacques Chirac later told the Washington Times that he thought it possible Israeli intelligence and anti-Assad Syrians could have been involved in the plot[citation needed]. According to Gordon Thomas’s book Gideon’s Spies: The Secret History of the Mossad, Mossad agents took advantage of Hindawi’s personal troubles with Anne Murphy, tricking him into carrying out a plot he believed was aimed against Israel, all the while planning for the discovery of the explosives before takeoff. Other possibilities have emerged that suggest that certain members of Syrian intelligence first named by Hindawi were Israeli spies themselves, allowing Israel to have prior knowledge of the plot[citation needed]. This would imply that both of Hindawi’s stories held some truth.

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April 10th, 2007, 5:42 am

 

54. ugarit said:

A must read article:

In the nearly empty Lebanese Parliament building these days the gossip is that the Bush administration wants to bargain with Hezbollah to remove it from the ‘T’ list if Hezbollah gives up its objective of liberating Palestine and cancels its opposition to the Bush/Olmert backed Siniora government.

Given this kind of Bush administration offer, many view Hezbollah’s spot on the ‘T list’ as a badge of honor . Yet, respect for international law would suggest that the Bush Administration ought to show their ‘evidence’ or remove Hezbollah from the list.

When pressed in early April, 2007 by a former House Judiciary Committee staffer, one lawyer in the State Department Office of the General Counsel commented, “Its not that Hezbollah is terrorist per say, actually we know they are pretty clean-they are ok- but you must realize that they do associate with shady characters to their East, if you know what I mean.”

http://www.counterpunch.org/lamb04062007.html

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April 10th, 2007, 10:55 am

 

55. Akbar Palace said:

majedkhaldoun said: (April 10th, 2007, 4:35 am / #)

why is it hard for some people to admit they were wrong?what happen to this VIRTUE?

Majedkhaldoun,

I would be happy to admit that George Bush and US Administration was wrong if terrorism didn’t exist in Iraq and Afghanistan where Islamic fundamentalist are trying to take over these two countries and two neighboring terror supporting countries (Iran & Syria) were aiding and abetting them.

Yes, as long as GWB is in office, you can rest assured the US isn’t going to pull out and let this important area of the world fall back to “pre-9-11” bliss*.

All you can hope for, unfortunately, is to wait for the weakest, pro-appeasing liberal democrat to win the 2008 presidential election. But this is not guaranteed. The Republican front-runners understand the importance of staying in Iraq until the terrorists are sufficiently weakened.

*Of course, more people were dying when Saddam was in power, but that gets no airtime in the liberal and Arab media or in the madrassas.

Anyway, we’ll leave you alone to deal with the Frankenstein the terror enablers created once we find an alternative to the gasoline engine.

BTW – Where’s Gibran? He was supposed to entreat our dear friends from the KSA to help keep gasoline prices down. Gibran, do you have a fax number or address where I can send a short note? Please tell the Prince-in-charge with oil policy I’ll put in a good word for him at my synagogue if he can help in some small way.

As for Mr. Hindawi … have you heard of double agents? .. or is this unheard of in the intelligence community?

Yes, and is your theory is also unheard of on Arab conspiracy and anti-semitic websites? I don’t think so;) Again, if there was some damning evidence instead of anti-Israel “gut feelings” I would give you some credit Alex.

Look, Jonathan Pollard ran to the Israeli embassy when he was about to be caught. And he was guilty. However, he wasn’t found guilty of the attempted murder of several hundred people by handing a bomb to an unsuspecting girlfriend.

The British legal system is one of the best in the world. Their investigation into Pan Am 103 and the subway bombings was no less than “surgical”.

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April 10th, 2007, 11:12 am

 

56. idaf said:

INTERNATIONAL CRISIS GROUP – NEW REPORT

Restarting Israeli-Syrian Negotiations

Jerusalem/Damascus/Washington/Brussels, 10 April 2007: Israel should seize the opportunity to renew peace negotiations with Syria while there is a real chance of success, or risk further destabilising the Middle East.

Restarting Israeli-Syrian Negotiations,* the latest report from the International Crisis Group, examines prospects for renewing diplomacy between Syria and Israel against the backdrop of regional developments, including the July 2006 Lebanon war and the re-launch of the Arab peace initiative at the 28 March Arab League summit. Although not the region’s costliest, the Israeli-Syrian conflict has prevented broader normalisation of Israel’s relations with the Arab world and has helped maintain regional tension which could degenerate into another armed conflict.

The report examines Israel’s reasons for holding on to the Golan – such as suspicion of Syria’s intentions, the strength of the settler population, the territory’s role as a security-buffer and the appeal it holds for the Israeli people. “But the benefits of peace far outweigh those of continued occupation”, says Nicolas Pelham, Crisis Group’s Senior Analyst in Israel. “Recent regional developments have made an Israeli-Syrian agreement more urgent, more important and more attainable”.

Within weeks of the Lebanon war, Damascus signalled it would resume talks without any precondition and indicated that its regional posture and relationships would change following a peace deal. Israel, however, has conditioned any dialogue on a broad change in Syria’s policy: cutting ties to Hamas, halting assistance to Hizbollah and fundamentally altering its relationship with Iran. What Israel demands could potentially be achieved, but only as part of a final deal, not as a precondition for it.

“Rejecting Syria’s overtures is a mistake which is fast on its way to becoming a missed opportunity”, warns Peter Harling, Crisis Group’s Senior Analyst in Damascus. “The mood in Damascus is turning decidedly sceptical, and the regime is reverting to its more cautious habits. Mirroring Israeli doubts on Syria’s seriousness, officials here are deeply disillusioned with Israel, questioning its ability and readiness to negotiate in earnest”.

If there is scant justification for Israel to put off peace talks, there is even less for the U.S. to oppose them. Quartet members should press for renewed Syrian-Israeli negotiations. While the U.S. and Israel may prefer to give precedence to the Palestinian over the Syrian track, lack of movement on the latter will inevitably hamper the former.

“Israel-Syria peace negotiations would profoundly alter regional atmospherics. A peace deal would fundamentally transform them”, says Robert Malley, Crisis Group’s Middle East Program Director. “This opportunity may not last forever. It should not be wasted”.

Here’s the Executive Summary of the report:
EXECUTIVE SUMMARY AND RECOMMENDATIONS

Abruptly interrupted in 2000, Israeli-Syrian negotiations seem only a distant possibility but a renewal is urgent and would have a real chance of success. The obstacles appear daunting, including a weak Israeli government and a U.S. administration intent on isolating Syria. However, Syria’s President Bashar repeatedly has stated his desire to resume talks, and in recent conversations with Crisis Group in Damascus, senior officials have clarified these could take place without any precondition – thereby removing what had been a principal hindrance. Peace negotiations between Israel and Syria would profoundly alter the regional atmosphere; a peace deal between them would fundamentally transform it. This opportunity may not last long and should not be wasted.

The conflict between Israel and Syria is no longer the costliest – the border has been Israel’s quietest since 1974 – but it is harmful all the same. It has taken the shape of bloody proxy wars, involving Lebanese territory and both Lebanese and Palestinian groups, and the opportunity costs have also been substantial. It has prevented broader normalisation of Israel’s relations with the Arab world and helped maintain regional tension which could degenerate – directly or, once again, through Lebanon – into another armed conflict.

In Israel, a government discredited by its performance in the Lebanon war and tarred by myriad scandals will think long and hard before taking on the powerful settler lobby backed by a public that has grown accustomed to controlling the Golan Heights, sees little incentive to part with it and whose suspicion of the Syrian regime – which has provided rockets to Hizbollah – has grown with the Lebanon war. Contrary to the conventional wisdom of the 1990s, withdrawal from the relatively quiet Golan today likely would trigger stronger public opposition than would withdrawal from a violent and burdensome West Bank.

U.S. hostility to any dialogue with Damascus – with the recent, limited exception of the regional conference on Iraq – is a further significant obstacle. Although Washington denies it, there is every indication it has signalled to Jerusalem its opposition to resumed negotiations with Damascus which, in its view, Syria would use to break out of isolation, cover up greater intrusion in Lebanese affairs and shift focus away from the investigation into former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafiq Hariri’s assassination. As U.S. officials see it, Damascus might like to recover the Golan but desperately wants to recover Lebanon; since that is not something Washington is prepared to concede, there is little to be gained by discussions. Given their highly strained relations with Syria, even leading Arab countries such as Saudi Arabia and Jordan are said to have privately counselled the U.S. against any move that would relieve pressure on Damascus.

As a result of these domestic and foreign factors, and due to scepticism regarding Syria’s intentions, Israel has conditioned any dialogue on broad, prior change in Syria’s policies: cutting ties to Hamas, halting any assistance to Hizbollah and fundamentally altering its relationship with Iran.

This is a mistake which is fast on its way to becoming a missed opportunity. In March 2007, Crisis Group engaged in a series of high-level discussions in Israel and Syria in order to assess the two parties’ positions and the prospects for renewed talks. While official resistance to negotiations was clear in Israel, it waned rapidly among both senior military and intelligence figures and members of the political establishment who recognised the value of testing Syria’s overtures and the risks entailed in ignoring them. In Syria, appetite for peace talks may have diminished – a function of repeated Israeli rebuffs and of unwillingness to appear to be begging – but persists nonetheless. Most importantly, officials in Damascus provided their clearest indication to date both that they would resume negotiations without any precondition and that the country’s regional posture and relationships with Hamas, Hizbollah and Iran inevitably would change following a peace deal. In other words, what Israel demands could potentially be achieved, but only as part of a final deal, not as preconditions for it.

Even assuming Syria is more interested in the process than the outcome – itself a debatable proposition – the mere fact of Syrians negotiating with Israelis would produce ripple effects in a region where popular opinion is moving away from acceptance of Israel’s right to exist. The onset of a peace process also would affect the behaviour of militant movements close to Syria; Hamas and Hizbollah are not mere tools of Syrian policy but they are adept at reading the regional map and would likely adapt their policies in response to signs of a changing Syrian-Israeli relationship. The same holds for Iran: Syria would be unlikely to break ties with its closest ally for two decades but Tehran would have to adjust its behaviour as it faced the prospect of a peace agreement.

Resuming talks with Syria is all the more imperative given ongoing efforts to revive the Arab (Beirut) peace initiative in the wake of the 28 March 2007 Arab League summit. While both the U.S. and Israel may prefer to give precedence to the Palestinian over the Syrian track, lack of movement on the latter inevitably will hamper the former. Damascus possesses multiple ways of undermining Israeli-Palestinian talks, whether by encouraging Hamas or Islamic Jihad to resort to violence; vocally criticising Palestinian concessions; or, in the event of a peace deal, obstructing the holding of a referendum among Palestinian refugees in Syria. Likewise, unless it makes a deal with Syria, Israel cannot achieve normalisation with the Arab world – a core objective without which its leaders will find it far more difficult to convince their public to endorse historic concessions to the Palestinians.

The outlines of a solution by now are well known. They were put forward in a 2002 Crisis Group report and recently restated in the context of an unofficial peace initiative involving two private Israeli and Syrian citizens. Under such conditions, there is little justification for Israel to put off peace talks – and even less justification for the U.S. to oppose them.

RECOMMENDATIONS

To the Government of Israel:

1. Respond positively to Syria’s unconditional offer to resume peace negotiations.

2. Halt efforts to augment settler presence in the Golan.

3. Facilitate family reunions for Syrian nationals living in the Golan and lift restrictions on visits to Syria by Israeli nationals.

To the Government of Syria:

4. Support Arab League efforts to explain and market its peace initiative to Western and Israeli audiences.

5. Engage in public diplomacy by:

(a) restating clearly that Syria is ready to negotiate without any precondition;

(b) giving select Syrian officials a clear mandate to disseminate both Syria’s version of past negotiations and its current position;

(c) committing to provide information on Israeli soldiers missing in action and return the remains of executed Israeli spy Eli Cohen in the early stages of resumed negotiations; and

(d) facilitating access to Syria for Israeli nationals with relatives or ancestral roots in Syria, including Israelis of Palestinian and Syrian origin.

To the Members of the Quartet (UN, U.S., EU and Russia):

6. Press for renewed Israeli-Syrian negotiations, beginning by holding parallel discussions with both sides.

Jerusalem/Damascus/Washington/Brussels, 10 April 2007

The full report here.

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April 10th, 2007, 2:18 pm

 
 

58. norman said:

IDAF, you beat me to the report.

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April 10th, 2007, 3:03 pm

 

59. ausamaa said:

WRT Int’l Crisis Group report Recommendations, the Requests from “The Government of Syria” is a bit too much to swallow. What is the meaning (intent of inserting such a new gimmick? To draw a NO?!) of “(d) facilitating access to Syria for Israeli nationals with relatives or ancestral roots in Syria, including Israelis of Palestinian and Syrian origin.”? It is not matched by similar clause applying to Israel.

And what about resume negotiations “without conditions”? What is thr reference point for the Negotiations? 242, 338, What exactly?

Is some one “wrongly assuming” that Syria is falling over itself to sit at the table with the Israelies?? then it is a wrong start in my humble opinion!

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April 10th, 2007, 3:17 pm

 

60. Alex said:

Akbar,

It is not anti-Israel and it is not gut-feeling.

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April 10th, 2007, 4:17 pm

 

61. Akbar Palace said:

III. SYRIA’S POSITION

A. GENERAL MOOD

Officials in Damascus display a mix of supreme confidence and genuine concern. It is a paradox in appearance only. Convinced that the regional tide is turning against the U.S. in Iraq, Palestine and Lebanon, they believe that any American attempt to destabilise the regime has become a thing of the past. Yet, they simultaneously are alarmed that the same regional tide threatens. Sandwiched between civil strife in Iraq and Lebanon and caught in the midst of growing sectarian polarisation, the regime is finding it difficult to manage a series of contradictions.

“Supreme confidence”? Undoubtedly a product of Israel’s “military superiority”, the great world unity in confronting terrorism, and power of the UN.

No, it couldn’t be that. No, it is frankly a product of avoiding conflict. A state-of-mind Neville Chamberlain once made so popular.

Well, if this is any indication, expect Iran to have a seat on the security council within the next 20 years and/or half the world glowing in the dark abiss.

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April 10th, 2007, 4:37 pm

 

62. mike said:

Israel is making the holocost now in gazza
don’t beleive what the israelian ministers says
go to Gazza
if you are really looking for truth
i believe that U.S.A. must look in another mirror
the isralian reflection is going to kill our soldiers
Israel is going to pull us to a new war
why?
today 23 palestinian children had been killed
why?
Israel say’s that this operation is just to stop missles
please show me that missles !!!!!!!!!!!1
i don’t believe Israel
i think it is going to drive us to lose our friends in mideast
if you have another opinion
please visit
http://www.sumood.com
thank you

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March 1st, 2008, 8:50 pm

 

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