More Washington Leaks on the Syria Target

I am off to Brandeis University to speak at the Crown Center as part of a conference entitled:

 “The Middle East Today: New Perspectives on a Changing Landscape”

I will be speaking with Itamar Rabinovich on  a panel called: “Prospects for Israeli-Syrian Talks.” Many other interesting speakers will take part.

Two days ago, Ambassador Imad Moustapha came to the University of Oklahoma to talk. Over 200 showed up and there was a dinner afterward to which some 60 Syrians from Oklahoma showed up. Many of the top oncologists and brain surgeons in the state turn out to be Syrians! Here is the write up of Ambassador Moustapha's talk in our school paper.

Moustapha answered questions about a wide range of topics, including the Sept. 6 Israeli strike on Syria, relations with Turkey, Iraqi refugees and Lebanese politics….

Here is the latest ABC News article on the bombing in Syria:

Israeli officials believed that a target their forces bombed inside Syria last month was a nuclear facility, because they had detailed photographs taken by a possible spy inside the complex, ABC News has learned….

ABC News has learned of the apparent mole and other dramatic and secret details about the events leading up to the airstrike, plus the evidence that supported it. A senior U.S. official told ABC News the Israelis first discovered a suspected Syrian nuclear facility early in the summer, and the Mossad  Israel’s intelligence agency  managed to either co-opt one of the facility’s workers or to insert a spy posing as an employee….

Comments (210)


My Personal “Keep Me Up To Date On The Top News” blog » More Washington Leaks on the Syria Target said:

[…] Check it out! While looking through the blogosphere we stumbled on an interesting post today.Here’s a quick excerptIsraeli officials believed that a target their forces bombed inside Syria last month was a nuclear facility, because they had detailed photographs taken by a possible spy inside the complex, ABC News has learned… … […]

October 20th, 2007, 5:14 am

 

Nour said:

The Syrian ‘Nuke’ Hoax
Friday, October 19th, 2007 in News by Justin Raimondo| Comment |

As I said here – and, earlier, here — the whole Syrian “nuclear” facility that the Israelis supposedly took out, in a faux-replay of the Osirak narrative, turned out to be a hoax:

“According to current and former intelligence sources, the US intelligence community has seen no evidence of a nuclear facility being hit. US intelligence ‘found no radiation signatures after the bombing, so there was no uranium or plutonium present,’ said one official, wishing to remain anonymous due to the sensitivity of the subject. ‘We don’t have any independent intelligence that it was a nuclear facility — only the assertions by the Israelis and some ambiguous satellite photography from them that shows a building, which the Syrians admitted was a military facility.’”

Now that the IAEA is has the satellite photos, the truth is about to come out:

One of the diplomats indicated that the photos came from U.S intelligence. Two others said the images, which have been studied by experts of the International Atomic Energy Agency since being received on Thursday, do not at first examination appear to substantiate reports that the target was a nuclear installation, but emphasized that the images were still under examination.

The serial liars running our foreign policy don’t care if their deceptions are exposed: the value of lying is the impression it leaves. Many heard about the Syrian “nukes,” few will notice the debunking.

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October 20th, 2007, 6:32 am

 
 

t_desco said:

The relatively quick North Korean reaction seems to suggest that indeed something involving North Korean technology was hit, but would the North Koreans have reacted at all if it was a facility producing plutonium for nuclear weapons?

On the other hand, Syrian reluctance to show pictures of the “empty building” that was hit is the best argument that the allegations are true.

October 20th, 2007, 10:33 am

 

idaf said:

t_desco,

IF the allegations are true, then I argue that the Israeli attack will only push Syria to accelerate this alleged project, take it underground and avoid all the security loopholes that were apparent with this try.

October 20th, 2007, 12:09 pm

 

AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Idaf,

Let’s look at the process of denial:
1) Israel attacked nothing
2) Israel attacked attacked an empty building
3) Ok, Israel attacked a nuclear facility but it is either a legal facility or
4) Now the Syrians will build it again underground so the attack was useless anyway

I think Nour is still at stage 1 or 2. You are at stage 3 or 4. Congratulations. In my opinion you have two principled responses that are credible:
1) Syria was right to develop nuclear options and Israel shouldn’t have attacked it.
2) Syria made a mistake in developing the nuclear option. It is a wrong move for Syria.

I know that before the attack your position was: Syria is not developing nuclear weapons because it doesn’t make sense for Syria to do so. I wonder what your position is now.

It will be very difficult for the Syrians to restart their project for the following reasons:
1) The North Koreans have reached an agreement regarding their nuclear arms and will be much less likely to proliferate. They will not transfer knowledge again to the Syrians.
2) Now that it is clear to the international community that Syria has nuclear ambitions, it will be more closely scrutinized.

October 20th, 2007, 2:55 pm

 

why-discuss said:

T_DESCO

Syria has never wanted to show itself on the defensive. Showing the photos will do exactly the opposite effect: Syria will be accused of showing manipulated photographs to get acquitted and that will reenforce the perception of its guilt.

The attitude of Syria has been low-key and they have let the hysteria of the media carry all kind of crazy messages praising Israel’ wise move and other contradicting it. Syria’s silence can more effective than responding to accusations. The strategic alliance with Iran and warming relation with Turkey may deter Israel of attacking more significantly the country. And Iran can boost the development of legal nuclear installation, no need for the North Koreans.
Israel seems to be paralyzed with their weak governemnt, pressures from the US about the conference and the mess of Gaza. This attack seems to be a desperate demonstration of power on a weak and insignificant target, relying on the media to boost its significance.

October 20th, 2007, 3:10 pm

 

AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Why-discuss has elevated denial to level 10.

1) Why hasn’t the strategic alliance with Iran deterred Israel from attacking in the first place???
2) The North Korean method is aimed at developing plutonioum bombs which is simpler but cannot be sold as a peaceful effort. The Iranian method, which requires high enrichment of uranium, is much more difficult but is also a step required for creating fuel for peaceful nuclear energy reactors. That is why Iran pursued this method, so it could claim that its program is peaceful. Syria does not have the resources to go down the uranium enrichment path.
3) If the target is a nuclear facility, how is it “insignificant”?
4) What was “desparate” about the attack? It was well planned, extremely successful and conducted with no Israeli casualties. The target was also not weak. It was protected by state of the art Russian air defense systems. It is a work of a confident and calculating government.
5) How is Israel relying on the media? Israel has been very quiet about the attack. All the leaks are coming from the US and reflect the internal struggle in the Bush administration. The media coverage has nothing to do with Israel. Israel’s strategy has been to be discrete about what happened.

October 20th, 2007, 4:23 pm

 

idaf said:

Interview with Imad Moustapha

Will Syria be participating in the peace conference the Bush administration is convening in Annapolis, Md., next month?

Syria is part and parcel of the Arab-Israeli conflict. We are a major player. Israel is occupying part of Syria. In the last 10 years, [previous U.S. administrations] consumed a lot of effort and energy trying to broker a Syrian-Israeli peace agreement. And we were on the verge of a peace agreement. It didn’t materialize, but that does not mean that we should give up hope.

It’s much easier to achieve peace between the Syrians and Israelis than with the Palestinians and Israelis, where the issues are more complex, more emotional. The extraordinary thing [today] is, the United States doesn’t talk to us at all. They are having this peace conference, and we heard from the media that Syria would be invited as part of this group that contains Yemen, Oman. … We are a key player, a major player. And here we’re supposed to be just like Yemen or Oman as … observers?

Our understanding is that the invitation will be extended to Syria only two or three days prior to the conference, so that we will say: “Sorry guys, this is not serious. We will not attend.” And then the administration will say: “See? Syria is a spoiler.” … Our position is the following: If the Golan, which is the occupied part of Syria, will not be in the discussion, then definitely we will not attend.

We don’t know why Israel launched an air strike on Syria on Sept. 6, but we assume they had some justification. If you were in Israel’s shoes, could you understand why they wouldn’t want you at the negotiating table?

We believe in Syria that the only way forward is to reach a peace agreement with the Israelis. We are realists. We do understand that the Israelis enjoy military superiority compared to the Syrian capabilities. … We also understand that the Israelis know very well that, despite their sheer military superiority, they cannot impose on us forever their policies of occupation. …

The Israelis know very well, and the United States knows absolutely well, that there is no Syrian nuclear program whatsoever. It’s an absolutely blatant lie. And it’s not like they think we have but they’re not sure. They know. Let me be clear about it: Syria has never, ever contemplated acquiring nuclear technology. We are not contemplating it today. We are not contemplating doing this in the future – neither for military nor for civilian purposes.

Then what did Israel attack?

Israel attacked a military installation in Syria. This is not unprecedented in the history of the Arab-Israeli conflict. … It’s easy for Syria right now to launch a missile against an Israeli target. But where this will lead to – another destructive war in our region similar to what happened last summer in Lebanon? … What did this [Lebanon] attack lead to? Nowhere. Israel attacked Syria a month ago. What did this lead to? They did not destroy our military capability. It served domestic reasons in Israel, and it served some special, narrow-minded agendas here in the United States.

How does it serve Israel’s agenda to keep this quiet? Israel hasn’t said a word about this attack.

Israel didn’t say anything, but this suited Israel very well, because suddenly … everybody in the United States is discussing this “Syrian nuclear program.” Everybody – particularly The New York Times – every two or three days they have a new article about the Syrian nuclear program. And we are flabbergasted in Syria. I have written three letters to The New York Times telling them: Have you forgotten what you have done prior to the Iraq war, when you published all the fallout stories about the Iraqi WMDs? Don’t you realize that you’re being “Judith Millered” for the second time within five years?

I’m trying to tell The New York Times: Look, be careful. Can’t you see that you are being led into extremely dangerous territory? You are accusing a country of doing something it has not even contemplated doing – based on nothing. Based on leaks from Israeli agents who are very happy playing this game.

What was attacked, and what was the damage? Were there any deaths?

Minor damage. The military significance of it was minor. … Nobody died. None. It was a military warehouse. … All I’m saying is that every story that has to do with a Syrian nuclear program is an absolutely false story, full stop. Nothing whatsoever that Syria is doing has to do with nuclear technology for reasons that are simple for anyone to analyze: We are realists. We understand that if Syria even contemplated nuclear technology, then the gates of hell would open on us.

October 20th, 2007, 4:35 pm

 

Observer said:

This is just in from HRW
Israel: Government Blocks Medical Evacuees from Gaza
Denials, Delays Cause at Least Three Deaths

By: Human Rights Watch

(New York, October 20, 2007) – Israel is arbitrarily blocking, delaying and harassing people with emergency medical problems who need to leave the Gaza Strip for urgent care, Human Rights Watch said today. At least three patients denied exit permits have died since June, and others have lost limbs or sight due to injuries and disease that have gone without proper treatment.

Despite its 2005 disengagement, Israel maintains substantial control of Gaza’s borders – land, air and sea. Since June 2007, when Hamas forcibly seized power in Gaza, Israel has made it increasingly difficult for medical supplies to get into Gaza and for any of Gaza’s 1.4 million residents to get out, even when they urgently need medical treatment.

“Israel is punishing sick civilians as a way to hurt Hamas, and that’s legally and morally wrong,” said Sarah Leah Whitson, director of Human Rights Watch’s Middle East division. “Israel remains the occupying power in Gaza despite disengagement, and thus has a legal obligation to facilitate medical care to the greatest extent possible.”

The Israeli government, and in particular the General Security Service (Shabak), cite unspecified “security concerns” when denying medical patients exit permits from Gaza. But numerous examples point to the arbitrary nature of those decisions, Human Rights Watch said.

This week, for example, the Israeli government allowed six people with life-threatening conditions to leave Gaza, after the Tel Aviv-based Physicians for Human Rights-Israel (PHR-Israel) threatened to challenge the denied permits in court. The government had previously rejected all six on two separate occasions, citing unspecified security concerns.

The six cases include a 16-year-old girl with a congenital heart defect and two women in their twenties with cancer. They all have conditions that Israeli doctors determined require treatment outside Gaza, and one of the women had previously received chemotherapy in Israel.

Since June, PHR-Israel has intervened in 138 cases of patients from Gaza whom the government had rejected for alleged security reasons. It succeeded to date in gaining exit permits for 52 of these people.

According to PHR-Israel, in some cases the person was allowed out of Gaza only if he or she submitted to interrogation by the Shabak. An article this month in the major Israeli daily newspaper Ma’ariv documented how intelligence officers at Erez crossing, the only passenger crossing in and out of Gaza, tell medical patients that they can leave only if they provide information to Israeli intelligence.

A father who recently accompanied his five-year-old son out of Gaza to receive care for an injured eye told Human Rights Watch how he underwent questioning by Shabak at the border in a concrete room with a floor of metal grating that looked down onto an exposed basement. Interrogators sat behind bulletproof glass. Other Palestinians who left for non-medical reasons described the same room.

Israel is taking these measures at a time when its strict control of what gets into Gaza has led to deteriorating medical conditions there, Human Rights Watch said. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), the increasing restrictions are “putting the access to health care especially in regard to tertiary care at risk.” The organization cites a lack of some oncology drugs and a shortage of functioning laboratory equipment.

Medical facilities in Gaza cannot provide many advanced services, such as cardiovascular surgery, neurosurgery and advanced ophthalmology services.

“There are no machines to treat this in Gaza,” said the father of the 16-year-old girl with the heart defect, who was finally allowed to cross into Israel this week. “If it was possible we would have done it here months ago.”

In a visit to the dialysis ward at Gaza City’s al-Shifa Hospital, this week, Human Rights Watch found doctors having to use catheters whose expiry date had passed. “We sterilize them and do our best,” a doctor said.

Human Rights Watch expressed concern that Israeli restrictions on the transfer of individuals and goods in and out of Gaza, including medical supplies – aimed at putting pressure on Hamas – are a form of collective punishment against the civilian population in violation of international humanitarian law.

In September, the Israeli cabinet declared Gaza “hostile territory” and voted to restrict “the passage of people to and from Gaza.” The government says implementation of the decision is pending legal review, but the flow of people and goods into and out of Gaza has steadily declined since the cabinet’s decision, according to numbers provided by the Israeli military.

According to the United Nations, an average of 40 patients per day entered Israel from Gaza for medical treatment in July. In September, that number was down to five.

“Israel’s denial of medical care to those in urgent need amounts to collective punishment against the population, which violates international law,” Whitson said. “The civilians of Gaza are paying the price.”

In June, PHR-Israel and another Israel-based human rights group, Gisha, challenged Israel’s restrictions on medical evacuees in the Israeli Supreme Court. The court rejected the petition and accepted the government’s distinction between life-threatening cases, which should be allowed out of Gaza on a humanitarian basis, and those that affect “quality of life,” for which the state can exercise discretion. But that distinction, when followed at all by the government, has been applied inhumanely.

According to PHR-Israel, in June the Israeli government denied an exit permit to `Ala’ `Awda, 25, who needed emergency treatment after getting shot in both legs, because it did not consider his case life-threatening. `Awda was unable to get proper care in Gaza, and doctors had to amputate his right leg. The government denied a second request, deeming the one-legged `Awda a security threat, and shortly thereafter doctors amputated his other leg.

At least three patients who were rejected for security reasons since June have died.

According to PHR-Israel, they are:

·       Muhammad Murtaja, 19, who died from a malignant brain tumor on the morning of July 1. The government approved his second request for entry later that day.

·       Na’il Abu Warda, 24, who suffered from chronic renal disease. He had permission to leave Gaza but was denied transit through Erez nevertheless and died that night.

·       Muhammad Abu `Ubaid, 72, who died on October 3 in need of open heart surgery after his exit permit was denied.

This week, Human Rights Watch interviewed three people in Gaza with medical conditions who were prevented from leaving on security grounds. They included a man who said he was accidentally shot in the ankle in May, who was not allowed out despite getting an exit permit, the girl with the congenital heart defect, and a woman with Hodgkin’s lymphoma. The latter two were among those allowed out this week.

Human Rights Watch interviewed three other people who were applying for their exit permits, including a man with a herniated disc, a man with nerve compression in his back, and a man with thyroid cancer. “I will go to any country, I don’t care,” said `Abd al-Safuri, 27, who needs surgery for a herniated disc.

With some exceptions, patients allowed out of Gaza must walk nearly 1 kilometer through a security zone to reach the Erez crossing, and then submit to extensive security procedures and occasional interrogation by the Shabak.

Human Rights Watch learned of some patients with prearranged clearance at Erez, who were nonetheless sent back, again for unspecified security concerns. They had to restart the complex process of getting a bed in a hospital outside Gaza, secure financial coverage, and seek security clearance for another day.

“Israel has legitimate security concerns about militant groups firing rockets from Gaza into civilian areas,” Whitson said. “But denying medical treatment to a 16-year-old girl with a congenital heart defect doesn’t make Israel any safer.”

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October 20th, 2007, 4:44 pm

 

majedkhaldoun said:

“What was attacked, and what was the damage? Were there any deaths?

Minor damage. The military significance of it was minor. … Nobody died. None. It was a military warehouse.”

Then, why dont you show the pictures?

Israel is quiet about it because they do not want to uncover the spies they have in Syria,they are still there,in Syria,continue to provide informations to israel, Syria knows there are spies involved,they are trying to know them,that is why they have not talked about it yet.
if it was a military building, there were soldiers guarding the building,Israel is not going to attack a building without activities around it, to say nobody died! not too many people believe that.
it is true that USA and Israel they know there is no nuclear facility in Syria.

October 20th, 2007, 4:54 pm

 

Seeking the truth said:

Another Israeli Guy,

I’m interested to know why you think that the Israeli people represented by their elected politicians agreed by the majority vote to have a peace treaty with two undemocratic regimes in Egypt and Jordan.

October 20th, 2007, 4:59 pm

 

AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Well either Bashar is lying or the ambassador is lying.
Bahsar said it was an empty building. Moustapha says it was a warehouse with military equipment. Who should you believe? The New York Times. This story is far from over and Moustapha is digging his own grave.

October 20th, 2007, 5:07 pm

 

IsraeliGuy said:

AIG, do you remember the interview with Syrian Ambassador to Washington, Imad Moustapha from Sept. 14, a few days after the attack?

Here’s a quote from the interview:

Q: How many bombs fell and what did they fall on?
A: They didn’t hit anything. They just fell on wasteland.

Q: So no casualties?
A: No, nothing.

Q: No physical damage to structures?
A: No. Just on the ground. And Turkey protested about the two fuel tanks that fell on the Turkish side.

October 20th, 2007, 5:21 pm

 

t_desco said:

Funny:

“There was also a secondary structure and a pump station, with trucks around it. But there was no fissionable material found because the facility was not yet operating.”
ABC News, Oct. 19, 2007

“Israeli commandos seized nuclear material of North Korean origin during a daring raid on a secret military site in Syria before Israel bombed it this month, according to informed sources in Washington and Jerusalem.”
The Sunday Times, Sept. 23, 2007

(my emphasis)

So we can say for certain that there is a disinformation campaign.

October 20th, 2007, 5:30 pm

 

AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Seeking,

The short answer is because it made sense at that time.

Let me elaborate. The peace with Egypt had several advantages:
1) It took out the main Arab country out of the conflict.
2) It divided the Arab world.
3) It ensured that Israel will not have to fight a multi-front war for a while.
4) It cemented Egypt as an ally of the West during the Cold War.

It was a “realist” move that had the downside of accepting and giving legitimacy to a dictator. Also, it is clear that it is only peace with the Egyptian regime and not the Egyptian people. If the regime changes, there is a good chance that attitudes may change. So, Israel was betting that the regime in Egypt was stable and it turned out to be right.

What has changed since:
1) The Cold War is over
2) 9/11 happened
3) Oslo and the second intifada happened
4) Israel is much stronger economically and militarily relative to the Arab countries

What does Israel have to gain from peace with Syria that is important enough to give legitimacy to an oppressive dictatorship? That Syria stop support for Hizballah and Hamas? After 9/11 no one has patience for terror supporting regimes. If this is the Syrian card, it is despicable and the regime should be confronted. The Hamas suicide bombing killed 1000 civillians inside Israel. Mesh’al is Bashar’s guest and Syria should pay the price for this.

Therefore, my answer to you is that there is no compelling Israeli interest that supercedes our belief in democracy and would convince us to act against our principles.

As for Jordan, it was a sincere Israeli belief that their royal hignesses were truly pursuing democratic reforms. If this turns out not to be correct, the peace with Jordan may have been a mistake. After all, there was peace with Jordan before the official agreement was signed. Israel needs peace agreements with Arab people, not with Arab dictators. If HRH does not represent his people, the peace is a sham.

October 20th, 2007, 5:31 pm

 

AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

IG,

Thanks for highlighting this. Moustapha thinks people have very short memories. Don’t worry, next week he will be saying that Syria has every right to develop nuclear technology and that Israel shouldn’t have bombed the site.

October 20th, 2007, 5:39 pm

 

AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

T_desco,

There is a big difference between “fissionable material” and “nuclear material”. There was no high grade plutonium at the site but there were probably nuclear materials such as low grade plutonium and other materials used for research purposes as can be found in many physics lab. Keep trying though.

October 20th, 2007, 5:44 pm

 

Bashmann said:

Guys, rest assured we will hear a lot more about this strike in the coming weeks. See the below article;

Cheers

*************************

WALL STREET JOURNAL COMMENTARY
What Happened in Syria?
By PETER HOEKSTRA and ILEANA ROS-LEHTINEN
October 20, 2007; Page A10

Over the last few weeks, State Department officials have reported major diplomatic breakthroughs that will roll back North Korea’s nuclear weapons program, allow Pyongyang to be removed from the U.S. state sponsors of terror list, and normalize relations between our two countries.

North Korea reportedly has agreed to disable its nuclear facilities and has, as it has done many times before, promised to give a full accounting of its nuclear program. The latest deadline is Dec. 31, 2007. Congress has been asked to support this agreement, which State Department officials claim will benefit our nation and promote regional stability.

Then, early last month, Israel conducted an airstrike against a facility in northern Syria that press reports have linked to nuclear programs by North Korea, Iran or other rogue states. If this event proves that Syria acquired nuclear expertise or material from North Korea, Iran or other rogue states, it would constitute a grave threat to international security for which Syria and any other involved parties must be held accountable.

The Bush administration, however, has thrown an unprecedented veil of secrecy around the Israeli airstrike. It has briefed only a handful of very senior members of Congress, leaving the vast majority of foreign relations and intelligence committee members in the dark. We are among the very few who were briefed, but we have been sworn to secrecy on this matter. However, we are prepared to state, based on what we have learned, that it is critical for every member of Congress to be briefed on this incident, and as soon as possible.

We are concerned that, although the Bush administration refuses to discuss the Israeli airstrike with the American people or with the majority of Congress, it has not hesitated to give information on background to the press to shape this story to its liking. New York Times writer David Sanger authored and coauthored articles on Oct. 14 and 15 that appeared to reflect extensive input from senior policy makers. Washington Post writer Glenn Kessler coauthored an article on Sept. 21 that also cited inside information from the administration. We believe this is unacceptable.

We want to remind President Bush that the Constitution invests Congress with various powers and authority over foreign policy. Not only does Congress have an obligation to conduct oversight over these matters, but it is accountable to the people of this country to ensure that their security and interests are safeguarded.

The proposed deals with North Korea will involve substantial expenditures of U.S. funds to pay for heavy fuel oil deliveries. Congress will be asked to approve the authorization of funds for this expenditure. We cannot carry out our duties when we are being denied information about these critical national security matters.

We all want to secure agreements that address the proliferation of nuclear weapons, ballistic missiles and unconventional weapons. However, for these agreements to have long-term viability, they must be transparent, and based on close consultations and collaboration with the Congress.

If the Israeli airstrike last month is related to covert nuclear collaboration involving Syria and either North Korea, Iran or other rogue states, this may or may not be an issue that can be easily addressed by negotiations alone. It is certain, however, that such a serious international security issue will not stay secret forever.

Congress, therefore, needs to be fully briefed, not just on the details of the airstrike, but on how to address this matter and how, if press reports are true, rogue states will be held accountable for what could amount to a very serious case of WMD proliferation.

We regret that the administration has ignored numerous letters from Congress asking that all members be briefed on the Israeli airstrike. Failing to disclose the details of this incident to the legislative branch, preventing due diligence and oversight — but talking to the press about it — is not the way to win support for complex and difficult diplomatic efforts to combat proliferation by rogue nations.

Until Congress is fully briefed, it would be imprudent for the administration to move forward with agreements with state proliferators. Congress must be a full partner in this process and, from this point forward, must be kept dutifully and currently informed about this matter.

Mr. Hoekstra is the senior Republican member of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence. Ms. Ros-Lehtinen is the senior Republican member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee.

October 20th, 2007, 6:07 pm

 

ausamaa said:

If Syria is “guilty” of attempting to build a nuclear reactor or what have you, then WHY ARE THE Bush Admin and the Israeli Government acting so coy and “discreet” about it? Since when have both been an example of restraint and reason?

Why can we not accept the fact that both, the Bush Admin and the Israelies have once again and made another fucking blunder.

Why can we not accept the fact that the whole air-raid was a TEST of the recently enhanced Syrian air defence capabilities?

Why can we not accept the fact that the raid was an AMBUSH planned by Bush and the Israelies to draw Syria into an areial confrontation?

Why can we not accept the fact that the whole episode was a diversion from the set backs facing Bush and the Israelies day after day? A failed attempt at boosting the moral of two defeated powers?

Why? Is it the adverse side effects on the “saner” minds CREATED through years of living in the shadow of the neo-con era which has swept official DC since Bush took office?

Both Bush and the Israelies are in deep shit of their own making, which is a direct result of their miscalculations and their underestimation of the strength of the opposing live political currents in the area, and both, Bush and the Israelies, are trying to get out of it which ever way they can. BY hook or crook. Is that so hard to beleive. The Sly leading the Visionary Blind? THat is what it is since day one!

Now we can fully understand what crimes Stupidity and Disinformation (Gobbles Style) by the MSM can bring to people.

October 20th, 2007, 7:31 pm

 

AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Israel and the US are acting “coy and discreet” so as not to jeopardize the talks with North Korea. This is even clearer after the commentary that Bashmann posted.

We cannot accept all your strange assertions because there is nothing to back them. We have three credible sources, NY Times, Washington Post and ABC Nightly News confirm the story. We have congress members hinting that they were briefed that North Korea is involved. Maybe everybody is wrong, but still care to explain why the Syrian story of what happened keeps changing?

October 20th, 2007, 7:49 pm

 

Alex said:

OK, let me explain to those who are dogmatic here how to understand what they read:

Since all official spokespersons have to answer any question journalists throw at them, Imad has to stick with the minimum official story from his country at the time he is interviewed.

At the beginning Syria only wanted to say that Israeli planes flew inside Syria and dropped their bombs and fuel tanks on nothing. Imad had to stick with that story… he was not authorized to promote his own version. He is an Ambassador.

Later, when the US Administration decided to leak (on a daily basis) to the New York Times, and to ABC “information” about the raid which claimed that the Israelis hit “something” nuclear … Syria decided to reveal a bit more about the target … there was a military target, Bashar said it was an empty building, Imad said it was a warehouse.

And Alex here keeps telling you from day one: “if the Israelis hit something, it was not dramatic” … which means: regarfles of what it was, it will not change reality on the ground .. it will not change the balance of powers…it will not help Israel in any thing, it will not weaken Syria .. it will not help the United States in Iraq .. it will not scare Iran .. it will not scare Syria’s allies in Lebanon … it will not scare Hamas … nothing will change in a dramatic way.

There are signals that none of you will detect because you are so hooked on proving you are moral and the Syrians are “despicable and should be confronted”

For example .. when Imad answers briefly with a couple of words, then he is sticking to the story he was given from Damascus (true of false). But when he elaborates, then he is personally assuring the reader that he knows the truth and that he is fully behind a statement.

In the original Sep 14 interview he said:

Q: How many bombs fell and what did they fall on?
A: They didn’t hit anything. They just fell on wasteland.

Q: So no casualties?
A: No, nothing.

Q: No physical damage to structures?
A: No. Just on the ground. And Turkey protested about the two fuel tanks that fell on the Turkish side.

In this week’s interview:

What was attacked, and what was the damage? Were there any deaths?

Minor damage. The military significance of it was minor. … Nobody died. None. It was a military warehouse. … All I’m saying is that every story that has to do with a Syrian nuclear program is an absolutely false story, full stop. Nothing whatsoever that Syria is doing has to do with nuclear technology for reasons that are simple for anyone to analyze: We are realists. We understand that if Syria even contemplated nuclear technology, then the gates of hell would open on us.

The way I read it (through his short and long answers)

1) He is not sure of the information he was given that no one died.
2) He is 100% sure there was no Syrian Nuclear weapons program.

When he switched the question through “all I am saying” it is obvious he wanted to not elaborate on a part he is not comfortable with … what he mentioned after “all I am saying” is probably the truth … or at least it is the part he is confident of.

But those of you who are dreaming that their country is a moral one and that Syria is Nuclear weapons evil doer… stay blind… keep trying to explain everything by fitting them in the Black or White categories… and keep classifying the news in the same predictable way you always classify them.

You will never understand anything.

By the way, AIG … the UN translator will be punished, not the Syrian ambassador to the UN… and most of the stories we heard so far that you decided to believe turned out to be false … because so far we heard 5 different versions … and you believed them all … what does that make you?

October 20th, 2007, 8:18 pm

 

ausamaa said:

ANOTHERISRAELIGUY

We once had a VERY credible source of information who went -in the name of his counry- before the United Nations General Assembly and TESTIFIED (lied to the whole world) that IRAQ had Weapons of Mass Destruction. And showed diagrams and pictures too! He was the Secretary of State of the United States of America. Remember him? And do you see the results of such credibility? Or is it Un-Credibility?

And who is more credible? Him, or your ABC Nightly News, the Wa POst, or the NY Times which you now consider as “three credible sources”? And he was proven to be not that credible? Remember?

So please get lost..

October 20th, 2007, 8:33 pm

 

Alex said:

And for those who want information instead of the disinformation that Washington and Tel Aviv and Riyadh have been hooked on, here is a real thing:

Traveler Magazine’s 2007 Readers’ Choice Awards chose Damascus as their favorite Middle Easters City to visit … not Jerusalem, not Cairo, Not Dubai, and not Beirut, but Damascus .. the capital of country that Israeliguy described last month as a “used Toyota”

Not only that, but the magazine which had 100 categories in those awards, chose a picture of Damascus for the index page of the 100 awards.

Also, can anyone find any opinion poll in which Syria is mentioned by a large percentage of Americans or Europeans as one of the top evil countries?

I have not seen any. While AIPAC’s friends in congress and in the media try to push promote Syria as a member of the axis of evil, people are not buying it. The magazine’s readers’ choice award to Damascus is one example.

But try to see how negatively European people see Israel and its violent and selfish actions.

October 20th, 2007, 8:37 pm

 

AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Alex,
Who cares if Moustapha is lying to do his job or his job is to lie for the Syrian regime? He lied by first saying nothing was attacked. He should have just said he doesn’t know what was attacked. Instead he chose to lie. The job of ambassador’s is not to lie. Why are you defending him?

It is ridiculous that he says clearly: Nobody died, yet you say he is not sure if somebody died.

His statements are out there and everybody can judge. What I understand perfectly as well as anybody else is that the Syrians are lying about what happened. As Bashmann write, more information will be available soon.

The UN translator will be reprimanded. Let the UN put out the Arabic, French and English full transcripts. Most likely the mistake was in translation, but let’s see the full transcripts.

You support repression of speech and repression of the press and are not ashamed to call me a dogmatist? A person that believes Imad Moustapha and Bashar Asad over the New York Times, the Washington Post and ABC Nightly News is not a dogmatist, he is a fundamentalist. Let the evidence speak for itself.

And by the way: My dogma was run over by my karma. 🙂

October 20th, 2007, 8:52 pm

 

AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Alex,

Do you have one ounce of objectivity in you? The ranking is for Africa/Middle east and goes:
1) Capetown
2) Damscus
3) Jerusalem
4) Beirut
5) Dubai

You made it sound as if Damascus is somehow in a league of its own.

And what is your argument anyway? Bashar is good because there are good hotels in Damascus that only tourists can afford?

October 20th, 2007, 9:04 pm

 

AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Ausamaa,

Sadam Hussein believed he had weapons of mass destruction. His people were lying to him and he was able to fool the US into believing this also.

In this case, Bashar is denying he has a nuclear program. More will be revealed soon.

Why don’t you start preparing the excuse why Syria will not let an independent inspection of the site? Or perhaps they will if they have nothing to hide.

October 20th, 2007, 9:09 pm

 

Nour said:

AIG,

You have reached a new level of delusion and/or propaganda with your statement about Saddam thinking he had WMD’s, even though the Iraqi government repeatedly stated that it no longer had any WMD’s.

As for lying, are you suggesting that no ambassador other than Moustapha has ever lied? What about the media sources you are defending? Is it their job to lie? Was it their job to disinform the public about Iraq’s WMD’s in order to drum up support for the war? Is it the job of a secretary of state to blatantly lie to the UN? Is it the job of a president to lie to his people and concoct fictional stories and fabricate intelligence about WMD’s? You are a pathetic propagandist, much like your colleague Elliot Abrams, who is a convicted criminal.

October 20th, 2007, 9:41 pm

 

IsraeliGuy said:

Alex, 2 points:

The first: I was really saddened and disappointed to see how you falsified my words.
I never saw you do this before on this blog.

I never compared Syria or Damascus to a used Toyota.
All I did was comparing a possible peace deal between Israel and Syria to a one.

Feel free to read my comments on the issue again:
http://joshualandis.com/blog/?p=418

I have no doubt that Damascus is a great city with a lot to offer and I really enjoyed watching Ron Ben-Yishai’s video story from the city.

Second point: Regardless of the reasons / excuses – Ambassador Moustapha has been lying.
Don’t feel obligated to ‘explain’ his or the regime’s lies.

You’re 2 different entities and you’re not responsible for their wrong doings.

October 20th, 2007, 9:55 pm

 

Alex said:

ok, my dinner time.

But AIG,

You just tried another low-level defense mechanism … refusing my argument by attributing it to someone who is against freedom of the press and who has no objectivity!

Is there any fact in there?

What’s wrong with my objectivity? .. did I claim that Damascus came out ahead of African cities as well?

The magazine seems to have decided to give Damascus some prominence by putting Damascus on the Index page .. out of the 100 awards (Best American city, Hotels, …etc) they chose a picture of Damascus and they specifically wrote on it that Damascus is the favorite Middle Eastern City.

I understand you are desperate to find thing to attack my credibility or objectivity, but I suggest you should not try anymore. You are waisting your time.

And no, it is not because of the hotels, we don’t have hotels like Cairo’s or Dubai’s… Hotels only impress superficial people.

Visitors love Damascus because it is special in many ways… you won’t understand and I won’t bother explaining it to you.

October 20th, 2007, 10:04 pm

 

Alex said:

Israeliguy,

My friend,

MR. AIG is good in bringing the worst in people. He thinks he is only helping us Syrians become as good as him morally … we only get to be like him when we succeed in making Syria democratic. Until then we are either regime sympathizers or cowards.

Before him there was Akbar … his favorite insults are:

1) Supporter of terror
2) You learned that at he Damascus Madrasa
3) Anti-Semitic

You are much more fun to exchange ideas with. The only thing that you share with them is your portrayal of Syria as an insignificant country … Israelis do not need to make peace with Syria because Syria does not count anymore … Egypt did count, but Syria does not.

I realize the “used Toyota” part referred to the peace agreement, and not to Syria … but it comes down to the same point … it is not worth it to make peace with Syria.

Anyways, good to hear from you again.

finally,

What is so important about how Imad answered the question in the earlier interview? … did his “lie” kill a million people like Colin Powell’s lie?

ALL politicians “lie” .. the point is … Syria is again expected to be “white” .. otherwise it is “Black”

It is not about defending Imad … this mentality could lead us to war. There are people who want to find excuses to hit Syria.

Cheers.

October 20th, 2007, 10:17 pm

 

why-discuss said:

AIG

1) Why hasn’t the strategic alliance with Iran deterred Israel from attacking in the first place???
It was a gamble Israel did to test Iran and arab reactions. In this they were successful, probably because the target was insignificant for Iran to react. ( see item 3 and 5)
2) The North Korean method is aimed at developing plutonioum bombs which is simpler but cannot be sold as a peaceful effort. The Iranian method, which requires high enrichment of uranium, is much more difficult but is also a step required for creating fuel for peaceful nuclear energy reactors. That is why Iran pursued this method, so it could claim that its program is peaceful. Syria does not have the resources to go down the uranium enrichment path.
You technical knowledge convinces me.
3) If the target is a nuclear facility, how is it “insignificant”?
It has not be proven it is a nuclear facility. No one is certain, even Israel as it is not claiming it, is it?
4) What was “desparate” about the attack? It was well planned, extremely successful and conducted with no Israeli casualties. The target was also not weak. It was protected by state of the art Russian air defense systems. It is a work of a confident and calculating government.
It is a desperate move because the target was insignificant and shaked only the medias. Successful? please give proofs it was a significant center that was a threat. International officials and even the US are not sure what that building was. Only “some israelis officials” and the media ( with unknown sources) are claiming it was a nuclear site.
5) How is Israel relying on the media? Israel has been very quiet about the attack. All the leaks are coming from the US and reflect the internal struggle in the Bush administration. The media coverage has nothing to do with Israel. Israel’s strategy has been to be discrete about what happened.
The silence of Isreal is a very clever manipulation of the media. If they had claimed anything, they would have had to show proofs and they have none, they only have suspicions. The strategy of silence was much more effetive in creating doubts and speculations than claiming anything they can’t prove. On that, they seem to have convinced people like you that it was a success, i need more than media’s unconfirmed sources to believe it.

Last, it is your turn to explain to me why the recent media report says: Israelis officials “believed” and not Israelis officials “confirmed” it was nuclear facility and why are they saying it now? I think Israel is embarrassed because they are been pressured by IAEA and other organization to submit proofs and they don’t seem to have any significant one.

October 20th, 2007, 10:26 pm

 

SimoHurtta said:

There is a big difference between “fissionable material” and “nuclear material”. There was no high grade plutonium at the site but there were probably nuclear materials such as low grade plutonium and other materials used for research purposes as can be found in many physics lab. Keep trying though.

Come-on AIG, try harder. In a nuclear reactor building site which is years from being ready, there is no nuclear material of any kind. There are no nuclear labs on reactor building sites. The only possible labs there inspect the concrete and steel materials.

Do you believe that North Koreans provide first the cement sacks and low grade plutonium to the planned building site? Then start digging the foundations and start building, while the nuclear material is laying in shag nearby for years. Come-on.

We cannot accept all your strange assertions because there is nothing to back them. We have three credible sources, NY Times, Washington Post and ABC Nightly News confirm the story. We have congress members hinting that they were briefed that North Korea is involved. Maybe everybody is wrong, but still care to explain why the Syrian story of what happened keeps changing?

All the so called credible sources, NY Times, Washington Post and ABC Nightly News, base their stories on few anonymous officials’ plus naturally on Bolton’s spread rumours without not a single hard evidence. So there are no three independent stories. There is only one extremely shady story spread by very shady characters, who have spotted lying several times before.

The best evidence of the low value of Israeli / US evidence is (from Haaretz):

The paper quoted weapons experts as saying that Israel and the U.S. decided not to approach the United Nations’ International Atomic Energy Agency with their concerns over Syria’s plans because they feared that the agency’s weak response would encourage the country to continue its nuclear work.

What means “weak response”? IAEA is the only authority in the world which deals with these matters. Can USA and Israel stay as members of IAEA if they undermine publicly the authority of the organization like this? It is like saying that we do not give evidence to police of the alleged murderer, because we think the police will not take it serious.

The only conclusion of Israel’s and USA’s behaviour is that the evidence is so weak that they “calculated” that IAEA will not confirm Israeli/US interoperation of the evidence and will “free” Syria. Let’s remember Powell’s UN satellite pictures and the vivid stories linked to them. The humiliation for Israel and USA after such IAEA decision that the evidence is “weak” would be catastrophic.

The other good “evidence” by those who believe in Israeli / US storyline, that Syria is relative quiet and North Korea has condemned the attack, is mildly said weak. For Syria it would be stupid to say the attacks target and show pictures of it, before Israel or USA exactly say what they have targeted and WHY. So it is a logical and clever strategy on Syria’s side to wait and answer in little bits to the anonymous accusations.

October 20th, 2007, 10:37 pm

 

AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Alex,

When you support a regime that is one of the worst in the world in freedom of speech and freedom, you are indirectly supporting those things. Why is this not clear to you? When you say Bashar is ok, and Bashar heads this regime are you not supporting what he is doing in this regard?

So what is your argument now? That Moustapha can lie because others lie? Ok fine. As long as we agree that he is lying.

Yes, Syria counts much less than Egypt did in 78. You got it right. Why didn’t Asad join the peace agreement then? Sadat asked him and if he would have agreed he would have gotten the Golan. Can you explain why Asad did not seize the opportunity then? Now, you are complaining. It is 30 years too late.

We want peace with the Syrian people, not some dictator that doesn’t represent them. Get a democratic government, and you will have peace, if the Syrians really want it. Otherwise, the strategic impact of Syria is not important enough to warrant that Israel legitimize an oppressive tyrant. Syria is weak militarily and can only hurt Israel by supporting terrorist organizations like Hamas and Hizballah. We will not be blackmailed by you anymore. If you pursue this strategy, you will pay the price. Enough is enough. Awarding a terrorist supporting oppressive dictator is not an option Israelis support.

October 20th, 2007, 10:43 pm

 

why-discuss said:

AIG
As long as Israel occupies lands illegally acquired after 1967, as long as its “democratic” and “international law-abiding” governemnt continues encouraging illegal settlements on these lands, Hamas and Hezbollah will remain resistant movements againts state terrorist Israel. Enough is enough!

October 20th, 2007, 10:58 pm

 

t_desco said:

AnotherIsraeliGuy,

according to ABC News, the “structure” was “still under construction”, so where did they find those “nuclear materials”, why would there be any “nuclear materials” at the time and how could these materials be useful to determine the functioning of a structure which is still under construction?

The official quoted by ABC News seems to acknowledge some degree of uncertainty:

“The official said the facility had been there at least eight months before the strike, but because of the lack of fissionable material, the United States hesitated on the attack because it couldn’t be absolutely proved that it was a nuclear site.”

(my emphasis)

Interesting background information by Dr. Jeffrey Lewis on “North Korean design” and the difficulty of identifying reactor types in the early phases of construction:

Syrian “Copy” of Yongbyon?
ArmsControlWonk, October 18, 2007

October 20th, 2007, 11:09 pm

 

AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Sim and Why,

I believe that a nuclear facility was hit. You don’t, let’s wait and see.

I am relying on the US sources and top tier newspaper, you prefer to believe Syria (Israeli source have said nothing). You do not know if each had different or the same sources. I think each had a different source. Let each person judge which sources he believes. To me the ABC graphic video of how the site actually looks was eye opening. The NY times makes mistakes but I would believe them anyday over the mouth piece of one of the most oppressive regimes in the world.

The IAEA takes years to do anything. That is what is meant by “weak response”. Look how long the Iranian issue is taking. The Syrians would have had plenty of time to finish the plant. That is why the IAEA was not approached. Now let them deal with it. Now time is on Israel’s side. The Syrians should let them inspect the site immediately. What have they got to hide, right?

If Syria was not hiding anything, it would bring journalist and declare Israel an aggressor. That they didn’t do it, speaks volumes. Their strategy of handling things is very stupid. They are being caught in lie after lie and losing credibility completely.

October 20th, 2007, 11:11 pm

 

Nour said:

AIG,

Were you one of the people who also stated that you would take the US government’s and US media’s word any day over that of the oppressive regime of Saddam Hussein? You seem to assert that the US never acts according to agendas and the US media has never been used for propaganda purposes. Why should we trust the US media and/or government after their despicable role in fabricating evidence of WMD’s in order to drum up support for the Iraq war.

In addition, the people denying the Bolton/Cheney/Abrams story are not just Syrian officials, but rather US intelligence and IAEA officials as well. I know that you love nothing more than to propagate against Syria, but your claims and assertions, and the reasoning you are using for them, are pathetic to say the least. And again, you come here and pretend to be opposed to dictatorships while you are in love with the governments of Egypt, Jordan, and KSA, all worse dictatorships than Syria. Your one and only aim is for Syria to submit to Israeli hegemony. If it were to do so, you would have nothing but praises for Assad, regardless of the oppressive nature of his regime.

October 20th, 2007, 11:47 pm

 

t_desco said:

Nibras Kazimi, Talisman Gate:

Narrative of a Conspiracy, Part 3

Today’s translated segment first appeared in Arabic on October 16, 2007 in Al-Akhbar newspaper:

“The Saudi detainee Faisal Akbar continues to relate the details behind filming the Ahmed Abu Ades video in a secret apartment in Syria, before the assassination of Rafiq Hariri. The following is a continuation of the interrogation session with Faisal Akbar:

“We conducted the filming and Shakir was carrying the camera. Me and Khalid were standing next to him, I on the right and Khalid on the left. The camera was in Shakir’s hand who stood opposite of Ahmed. This trial work, and we displayed it on the camera screen that folds out.

Khalid called Jamil using his cell phone and told him that the film was ready. In the next day, me and Ahmed and Khaled left for Aleppo in a rented car, a Skoda pick-up, roofed and white in color. [We headed] to the farm, which is a facility that belongs to Al-Qaeda and it is managed by he who is known as Sami in the area of the Zeryeh road [Translator’s note: this should probably read Zerbeh, which is 20 Km south of Aleppo on the main highway]. We were received there by Sheikh Rashid, Nabil and Jamil.

Let me correct something for you: Jamil had arrived to Damascus on that day, and he is the one who took us in the aforementioned car. And as the four of us arrived at the farm, Jamil and Khalid and me and Ahmed Abu Ades, we were welcomed by Sami and Sheikh Rashid. After being greeted, Sheikh Rashid and Jamil took Ahmed Abu Ades aside and me and Khalid and Sami stayed outside. Their closed meeting with Abu Ades lasted for three hours, and they emerged later from the room; Sheikh Rashid and Nabil watched the film claiming responsibility for the operation through connecting the camera to the television (18 inch TV, I remember it was a Toshiba, grey in color), and Sheikh Rashid was pleased with the tape.

Afterwards, and upon Jamil’s order, me and Abu Ades and Khalid and Jamil, who drove the car, moved on to Homs where there’s a guest house managed by Jamil. It is located in the Khalidiyyah area near the Nour Mosque in a crowded area in a building with four floors: an apartment to each floor, and Jamil lived on the second floor. Next to this building was a supermarket, and we stayed in this apartment for two days while preparing to move to Lebanon prior to pulling-off the Hariri assassination.

Jamil distributed $50,000 [in cash] that he had received from Rashid. He gave me $10,000 in $100 bills, and he gave Khalid another $10,000 and kept $30,000, which were the funds for the financing the operation. During this time, Jamil had gotten hold of Syrian identification cards for us from Murad under fake names, with our pictures on them, and these were four Syrian identification [cards]. My new fake name was Hassan Al-Eid, mother’s name Ghayda’, born 1977, Syrian. As for Abu Ades and Jamil and Khalid, I did not know their fake names in the aforementioned identification [cards]. After two days, and according to my memory it was 28/1/2005, we left Homs in the Skoda car to Damascus. Jamil was driving and Abu Ades was next to him, while me and Khalid were in the backseat. We reached Damascus around 10 AM in the morning; Jamil parked the car somewhere near the Hrasta garage across from the shipping [offices] and the restaurants on the main street. I think he left the key inside the car and locked it, and it should be known that Sheikh Rashid had a copy of the keys, and he would send Shakir later to take the car back to the [rental office]. We rode in a taxi the four of us, and it should be known that the clothes and the car and the camera and the taped film remained with Sheikh Rashid at the farm.

When in the taxi, Jamil sat next to the driver, who we didn’t know, and me and Khalid and Abu Ades sat in the backseat, heading towards the Tashrin Park. We got out of the taxi, and Jamil paid the 35 Syrian Lira to the driver, and we weren’t carrying any extra clothes or belongings with us. Near Tashrin Park and on the northern corner where there is a newspaper stand, we met the smuggler who was waiting for us in a Syrian taxi, which was Mazda [mini-]bus, white in color, and new. We rode the mini-bus in the direction of Jedidet Yaboos, and there we got off with the smuggler. We paid 80,000 Syrian Lira to the smuggler in return to smuggling us over the border, whereby we crossed the Syrian side in around an hour. We began by descending then ascending the mountain then descending again. It should be known that we were transported on an old motorbike that was parked near the smuggler’s home, and he would take each of us alone for a distance of 15 minutes then he would return and get the next one. He began by transporting Jamil then Abu Ades then Khalid and finally me, and he left the motorbike during the phase of ascending the mountain, where there was a small Syrian village, the name of which I can’t remember, where the smuggler had acquaintances.

When we reached the Lebanese side in a place near the Masna’a, we walked on the main road in Masna’a. We took a red-colored Mercedes taxi to Chtoura near the money changers. We paid 4000 Lebanese Lira to the driver, Jamil paid the sum. Jamil changed $500 into Lebanese currency in an exchange office that doubled as a restaurant too. I don’t remember the name of the place, but I can show you to it. The smuggler was still with us and he was called Ahmed, and he was the same person who first brought Ahmed Abu Ades to Damascus in the beginning.

Ahmed the smuggler rented a van with a driver, and it was Hyundai as far as I recall, olive-colored. The driver was 35 years old with a moustache and his chin was clean shaven. The smuggler sat next to the driver and we sat in the back, and the journey to Beirut began; we did not stop on the way; there was a traffic choke, and the trip took two hours. We arrived in Beirut around 2 in the afternoon in the Cola neighborhood, Jamil paid the driver via the smuggler a sum of 15,000 [Lebanese] Lira, who took the smuggler with him and they both left.

We took a white-colored Mercedes taxi to the southern Dahiya to a place that I don’t know. There was a gas station and a Jammal Bank, as far as I remember. We entered a building in a souq and it consists of three floors. The appearance of the building was messy. We went up to the second floor where there are two apartments, we entered the apartment on the right and its door was wooden, brown in color. Jamil had rented it previously and had changed the lock on the door. He opened the door with a key that he had, and the apartment continued sparse furniture: six mattresses, five pillows, and six blankets, with plastic floor coverings.

We sat there, and afterwards Jamil went downstairs and was away for about an hour then he returned with food from KFC. The four of us ate, that Khalid and me and Jamil and Abu Ades, and Abu Ades had shaved his beard before we arrived to Lebanon, and we slept because we were tired from the trip.

On the next day, that is 1/2/2005, and Jamil had brought with him when he was out the night before a cell phone, a Nokia 3300 model, dark grey in color, with a Lebanese [SIM card] whose number I didn]t know; Jamil and Khalid left the apartment, and Abu Ades and I stayed inside until Jamil and Khalid returned at night. I think they got clothes and pajamas and underwear and things to eat; we ate and then me and Jamil discussed the phases of the operation, and Jamil told me that he is seeking to purchase a pick-up truck, and that his group is working to find such a car. He also told me that there is a surveillance team that has been monitoring the target for three weeks before we got to Lebanon, and that they are Lebanese and trustworthy, and they are cadres from Al-Qaeda, and their aliases were Fahed and Thamer and Adnan and Fawwaz and Bessam. This day ended like this.

On the next day, Jamil and Khalid left after having breakfast at around 12 noon, and it was our second day in Lebanon, that is 2/2/2005. They returned late at night, around 1 AM, and I didn’t talk to them. On the morning of the third day, that is 3/2/2005, I left with Jamil while Abu Ades and Khalid stayed in the apartment. We took a taxi from the Dahiya in the direction of ‘Ain al-Mereeseh. We got there around 1 PM, and we walked near the Tazej Restaurant east, passing the McDonald’s restaurant, near the ‘Ain al-Mereeseh mosque, whereby the McDonald’s was on our left. We ascended an incline, to the left there is a car rental agency at the end of the street. We veered left and walked in the direction of the Holiday Inn, and when we got to the intersection we veered left, and it was a downhill street, I saw the Phoenicia [Hotel] on my left and in front of me, and lying on a lower level, was the sight of the beach where the Yacht Club is, and to its left the St. George.

Jamil was pointing out the locations to me, and giving me the addresses. We got in front of the St. George where Jamil informed me that the convoy is forced to pass in front of the St. George, and that the best spot to perform the operation would be the building adjacent to the St. George on the right hand side of the street; we discussed this spot and Jamil informed me that there is another spot in front of President Hariri’s office that could also be suitable to perform the detonation operation, let it be known that we didn’t stand near the St. George for long, rather we would stand for a moment then continue walking and then stop so as not to raise any suspicions.

As we arrived near a pharmacy in ‘Ain al-Mereeseh, we took a taxi to the Aishah Bakkar neighborhood or Verdun from what I remember. There we got out before the office at the intersection and we went downhill. While going downhill I saw a series of restaurants on the left, and there was also a bank on the left, and an Adidas store and a women clothing stores on the right hand side. We got to an intersection near the Holiday Inn and across from it on the corner was an old building surrounded by many trees and a large picture of President Hariri in the vicinity of the building. We walked on the sidewalk across from this building which was [Hariri’s] office. We didn’t stop, but rather continued walking as we walked and took note of the traffic. I saw through the open gateway the removable barrier to the entrance, and inside were parked some ordinary cars. There wasn’t any leeway to place a truck and center it in that street because it would arouse suspicions when it would stop there.

We dismissed this option and we took a taxi back towards the Dahiya. During this time, Jamil was receiving calls on his cell phone from the onlookers, I think. We got to the apartment in the evening; and I talked to Jamil about the on-the-ground scouting that we had done, and then we slept.

In the next day, that is 4/2/2005, Khalid and Jamil left and returned in the evening. Jamil told me that there is a suitable car in Tripoli, a large pick-up, white in color, that costs approximately $7000 that one of his acquaintances was [getting it out of customs] and buying. And that the shipment, that is the explosives, had arrived in Lebanon from Syria and that it originated from Iraq, and that is was TNT with Cortex ropes and ten electric detonators, and it is now in a safe place, that he wouldn’t tell me about.

During this night, I felt that Khalid al-Taha was acting out of character, for he was silent and conspicuous. He usually jokes around and smiles constantly. We went to sleep and I slept with Jamil in a room, and Khalid and Abu Ades in other rooms.

The morning of the next day, that is 5/2/2005, I don’t remember this day well, I think that Jamil got a call from his group that are assigned to buy the car, and that the car was agreed upon for $7500. As he told me he bought in a normal way, and he is to leave with Khalid to prepare the car and to prepare the explosives, and he gave me his number which I don’t remember, on the condition that I call him only in case of the most urgent emergencies, and he left.

I stayed with Abu Ades in the apartment for two days, we didn’t leave and nobody came in on us. Khalid and Jamil returned on 9/2/2005, Jamil told me that the truck had been prepared and that explosives arranged in a directed manner, and that it was appended with a switch that acts as the detonator to the explosion. Jamil and Khalid arrived in the afternoon, and Jamil told me that the delicate task is now up to the guys doing surveillance and monitoring. He was still receiving calls, and it should be known that he would turn off his phone around midnight, and when he returned to the [apartment] he would turn off the phone in the street before he went up to the apartment, and if he was in the apartment he would leave at night and turn off the line so that the geographical movements of the line are not shown.

On the 10th day we went out with Jamil and went to the St. George area to inspect the place. We arrived by taxi ahead of the St. George too, near the ‘Ain al-Mereeseh mosque, and we walked in the same street. We passed by the entrance of the St. George and we didn’t see any suspicious movement or any checkpoints or patrols. We returned to the apartment at night. We talked over what had happened during our surveillance of the St. George area and we agreed that the spot after the St. George entrance in front of the adjacent building, I can show it to you, in the final point where the truck is to be parked and inside it Abu Ades to conduct the explosion operation while the convoy passes in the remaining days before 14/2/2005, the day the operation was conducted.

The surveillance and monitoring [teams] were active, and we also discussed our evacuation plan after the operation. On 13/2/2005 Jamil left and took Abu Ades with him. I stayed with Khalid in the apartment, and [Jamil] showed [Abu Ades] the pick-up car and the place where the operation is to be conducted. They returned to the apartment at night and Abu Ades was relieved and every encouraged about conducting the operation, and while me and Jamil and Khalid talked, Abu Ades went into the other room to pray and worship. The three of us, me and Jamil and Khalid, discussed the evacuation plan which was as follows: the surveillance and monitoring team would withdraw and us too towards the [American University of Beirut] –the sea entrance. We went to sleep. We got up for dawn prayers, then went back to sleep. We got up at around 10, and Abu Ades went out alone, he said goodbye and hugged us, Khalid cried. After nearly half an hour the three of us left, me and Jamil and Khalid, after Jamil had kept Abu Ades’ fake Syrian identification [card]; someone drove the pick-up while Abu Ades was next to him, and he was a member of the surveillance team and I don’t know who he was. After we left the apartment, we took a taxi towards ‘Ain al-Mereeseh. We got out near the ‘Ain al-Mereeseh mosque, we stopped on the cornice in front of the mosque, and it was around 12 noon, Abu Ades stopped and waited for the convoy to pass. And when the convoy passes, the explosion occurred, after Abu Ades blew himself up in the convoy.
Talisman Gate

We already know that Abu Adas wasn’t the suicide bomber. If I remember correctly, Faisal Akbar later claimed that the suicide bomber was a young Saudi and that he was sent to Lebanon by a a person who was already dead at the time. All rather confusing, but certainly interesting to discuss.

October 21st, 2007, 12:19 am

 

why-discuss said:

T_desco

It is fascinating revealing so many details and the role of Abu adas. Yet, the grey eminence(s) behind the murder remain in the shadow. I wonder what Brammertz is thinking of this, as it contradicts his position that Abu Adas was not in the car. When is the final Brammertz report due?

October 21st, 2007, 12:47 am

 

norman said:

Ap,IG AIG,

I grew up in Syria , I went to public schools in Syria , we were never told or taught that the Jews are subhuman or anything else than smart , think far ahead than others , these qualities make me wonder how much Israel is under the control of the US which could explain Israel lack of movement on the Syrian track for it’s own self-interest , so guys , do not be against Israel for the sake of the US plans.

October 21st, 2007, 1:23 am

 

AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Norman,

Why is it in Israel’s best interest to sign a peace treaty with Bashar now? Please try to convince me. I know why it is in Syria’s interest, but I don’t see why it is in Israel’s interest.

October 21st, 2007, 3:09 am

 

norman said:

AIG,
Peace between Syria and Israel will lead to peace with Lebanon and the Palestinians , Syria will be able to help as it has more credibility than Egypt KSA and Jordon combined , Having no hostility between Israel and Syria will make normalization very easy as will not have resistance , Syria can help in providing water to Israel and if what i think is a good idea if can be achieved from the technical point is a canal from the Assad lake to the sea of Galilee with the help of Turkey by increasing water supply to Syria via the Euphrates ,Syria will help in settling the Palestinians that are in Syria to stay in Syria as they treated as Syrian that could be done in return of economic assistance that will generate more jobs to absorb them ,Peace will bring prosperity to Israel with economic expansion in the large Arab markets of more than 300,000,000 .The alternative to peace is more war and war until the Islamic extremist gain power and at that time there will be only death to all minorities in the Middle east ,
By the way my mother who was born in Nazareth and still has relatives there is willing give up any rights she has for the sake of peace , the question are you guys ready to see the future without wars , I can , May be i am a dreamer but for the sake of the semitic people and their very existence i am willing to dream and i hope that more people will see what i see.

October 21st, 2007, 3:52 am

 

Alex said:

AIG,

You are rigth. It is not in Israel’s best interest to have peace with Syria now.

I assure that I will never try to convince you.

October 21st, 2007, 3:56 am

 

AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Norman,

1) How would peace with Syria lead to peace with the Palestinians? The two are unrelated.
2) So the Syrian “resistance” is something we have to worry about? What is this resistance exactly that Syria is leading and how does it manifest itself?
3) No thanks on the water, you need it for your own uses.
4) Israel already trades with the Arab world through companies in the US and Europe.

If we make peace now it is not peace with Syria, it is peace with Bashar. When a democratic government gets elected, I would be happy to sign a peace agreement with them if they want to.

As for the extremist in the middle east rising, it is Syria that is helping and funding most of them. It is funding and helping Hamas and it is funding and helping Hizballah. It is also helping Al-Qaida in Iraq and Fatah al Islam in Lebanon. So if you want less extremism, go talk to Asad.

I want peace also. But I don’t want an artificial peace, a sham peace that we would have if Israel signs a deal with Asad. I want real peace with the Syrian people and not with Asad who doesn’t represent them.

October 21st, 2007, 5:17 am

 

AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Alex,

I understand your frustration but it is directed at the wrong person. You should be frustrated with Bashar and not me. He and his father are the cause of all of Syria’s problems.

Go change the regime in Syria instead of trying to convince Israel what is should and should not do. Fix your house first before giving advice to others.

Your fatalism regarding the Syrian regime is amazing. Why can everything in the middle east change except the Syrian regime? Why do you think it is simpler to convince the US and Israel than to change your own regime?

October 21st, 2007, 5:22 am

 

Nour said:

AIG,

No one is trying to convince Israel of anything. You asked a question and got an answer. It’s up to Israel to do what it wants, and it’s up to us to act in the best interest of our nation. No one said that the regime cannot be changed, but rather, that the nature of the Syrian regime is none of your business. We will deal with our regime and with our problems. And we are dealing, without having to report to you. So go back and worry about what Israel is doing and leave us to our business.

October 21st, 2007, 6:04 am

 

MSK said:

Alex,

Those foreign tourists should come to Damascus SOON, so they can enjoy its beauty before it’ll be bulldozed over.

http://www.rimeallaf.com/mosaics/index.php?entry=entry070914-151223

–MSK*

PS: Contrary to what you may believe, while it may be true that “hotels only impress superficial people”, tourists ARE mostly such superficial people. And the fact that Damascus FINALLY has a few good hotels (the boutique ones in the Old City) is one of the key reasons for it to have been chosen. Btw, it would be interesting to have a look at actual tourist numbers …

October 21st, 2007, 10:37 am

 

t_desco said:

AnotherIsraeliGuy,

you got no answer? BTW, I am also not so sure that the “low grade” plutonium you mentioned would not be “fissionable”. Perhaps you meant “fissile”?

Why-discuss,

DNA evidence is very strong, so I think that Brammertz would conclude that the testimony is false, at least the part regarding the involvement of Abu Adas in the attack.

I think that Faisal Akbar later changed his story, saying that the suicide bomber was a young Saudi. I hope that this will be in “Narrative of a Conspiracy, Part 4”.

Brammertz IV, §31 could be interesting in this context: “The Commission has also received other information concerning geographic origin (of the bomber;t_d) which it is unable to disclose at this time.”

This could refer to Akbar’s testimony (part 4, not part 3).

According to Brammertz VI, §25, “the suicide bomber … originally came from a region more arid than Lebanon”. Saudi Arabia is certainly more arid than Lebanon.

We also know that the Brammertz team took soil samples in a region in Saudi Arabia.

One trait that doesn’t fit into this picture would be the “shovel-shaped incisor”.

Brammertz actually speaks of a “spade”, not a “shovel”, so I am not sure that he is really referring to “shovel-shaped” incisors here:

Brammertz IV, §34: “The upper right central incisor found at the crime scene in February 2005 and belonging to the unidentified male shows a distinguishing mark related to the lingual surface shape of the crown, which has the form of a spade. This feature is rarely seen among people from Lebanon.”

Shovel-shaped incisors also seem to be rare among people from Saudi Arabia.
In one study only 4% of the patients showed this peculiar trait (but I have no idea how representative that study was).

DNA and isotope analysis are certainly more important and better able to determine the geographic origin of the bomber than this peculiar dental trait. So far, Brammertz has not revealed any of his findings. The final report is due in December, I think.

October 21st, 2007, 11:14 am

 

Jamal said:

Warning, this is sickening reading

From The UK Observer, October 21 2007

Israel shaken by troops’ tales of brutality against Palestinians

A psychologist blames assaults on civilians in the 1990s on soldiers’ bad training, boredom and poor supervision

http://observer.guardian.co.uk/world/story/0,,2195924,00.html

October 21st, 2007, 11:40 am

 

t_desco said:

‘It’s time to lure Syria away from Iran’

“Maybe it’s time to employ the carrot and lead international negotiations with Syria,” which could remove it from the sphere of Iran and Hizbullah, outgoing IDF deputy chief of General Staff Maj.-Gen. Moshe Kaplinsky told the Washington Institute for Near East Policy in Virginia on Saturday.

However, in his remarks he also suggested that the stick of decisive sanctions against Syria had not yet been tried. “There are no real sanctions today against Syria,” he said.

He said that he was leaving his position in two weeks and was speaking for himself and not for the Israeli government or the IDF.

The outgoing deputy chief of staff also discussed weapons smuggling by Hizbullah and the organization’s attempts to rearm itself, build new fortifications and train its operatives, despite UN resolutions. “If nothing changes in the situation in Lebanon, somebody will have to change the situation. I include preemptive strikes,” he said.

In the event of another war with Hizbullah, “we learned from the last war that we have to give our troops the right objectives and be more decisive, and we will manage,” Kaplinsky said, adding that “the next round will take us less time. We will send our ground forces more quickly.”

But he said that it would also be necessary to hold territory in Lebanon for long periods of time in order to dismantle Hizbullah. In such a scenario, he said he expected Syria to play a role similar to the one it had played in last summer’s war by providing weapons and other peripheral support for Hizbullah, but “they will not activate their forces in order to help Hizbullah.”

Kaplinsky said Israel would also not seek direct confrontations with Syria in such a scenario. “Israel has no intention of going to war with Syria,” he said.
Jerusalem Post

October 21st, 2007, 11:47 am

 

t_desco said:

Shmuel Rosner:

Jumblatt to Bush: Send car bombs to Damascus

I’m attending the “Weinberg Founders Conference 2007” of the Washington Institute for Near East policy in Virginia. I will probably write a lot more about it, but here are some comments on the issue that was discussed both in the first and the second day quite extensively (a word of disclosure: The Institute is paying for my hotel and meals as I attend).

1.

Did he go too far? If he did, it didn’t seem to bother him.

In fact, Walid Jumblatt, the outgoing Lebanese leader of the Progressive Socialist Party, seemed quite amused by the reaction to his blatant suggestion for the Bush administration. He proposed the US “send car bombs” to Damascus as a way to prevent further Syrian interference with Lebanese politics.

It happened at the opening plenary of the conference. The video provided by the Institute does not capture this mini-drama, as it only includes the written, prepared, remarks he was making. But these are also harsh enough in nature.

The car bomb comment, maybe humorously, maybe not, came when he was asked to specify how America can contribute to the struggle of the Lebanese people against Syrian intervention and terror. “I was just joking,” he later said. But he probably knows better than anyone that counting on Bashar Assad’s sense of humor is not a safe policy.

2.

Jumblatt’s forceful remarks were a tough act to compete with. Today, when an Israeli general and an American journalist were discussing the fate of Lebanon, his words were still hanging in the air.

Nicholas Blanford of the Christian Science Monitor covered a lot of ground and proved to be quite knowledgeable as he was describing what’s going on in Lebanon today, and the extent to which Hezbollah was recovering a year after the war with Israel. One suspects that he might have over stated the case when he was describing his visit to a Hezbollah bunker. He was very much impressed with the things he saw in this bunker. But does he really knows whether this is the one fine bunker they have or just one out of many?

Major General Moshe Kaplinsky seemed to think that Hezbollah has not yet recovered from the war. He also promised to take better care of Hezbollah in the next round. We know how to do this, he said, and Blanford reminded him that Israeli generals were making similar statements when the war started, and proved to be wrong. Kaplinsky also said that maybe it is time for the international community to engage with Syria, using “carrots and sticks” (instead of just sticks I guess).

3.

Jackson Diehl of the Washington Post was making this argument two weeks ago (he is also at the conference):

“Lebanon has long been described as a theater where the larger tensions and conflicts of the Middle East are played out in miniature, and in the past three years its drama has seemed particularly representative . . . For the past year, Lebanon, like the Middle East, has endured a tense and dangerous stalemate between the forces of Damascus and Tehran, spearheaded by Hezbollah, and those of the United States, Europe and Sunni-ruled Arab states such as Saudi Arabia and Egypt, which are backing the government of Fouad Siniora. Middle East analysts and many Lebanese tend to shruggingly conclude that nothing can be resolved until the larger regional standoff is settled – or one side decisively gains the upper hand”.

If one needs a proof that Diehl was right, this conference is a good starting point. The elaborated discussion of Lebanon, both with Jumblatt in the evening and the panel in the morning, was not focusing on Lebanon as a separate, isolated case. It was about Syria, Iran, moderates vs. extremists, proxy wars, Shiites and Sunnis, central governments and terror organizations, international forces, UN resolutions, smuggling of weaponry, democratization.

4.

So, was Jumblatt going too far?

Polling some of the people attending this event I came up with these two answers:

1. The Syrians are already going after him. At this stage, he has nothing to loose and can speak his mind.

2. This was too much, not because of the Syrians but rather because it will make his Lebanese friends uncomfortable. Opposing Syria is one thing, inviting a violent American intervention is quite another.

Jumblatt is scheduled to speak Sunday morning on CNN. It will be interesting to see whether he will be scaling down his tone toward Syria. (LOL; t_d)

5.

Jumblatt is angry and concerned for a reason. …

Failure to elect a president could lead to a power vacuum, or possibly the creation of two rival governments. Jumblatt doesn’t want this to happen, but he also indicated that compromise with Hezbollah was not something he can support.

What’s your prediction, Blanford, the expert, was asked.

Ask again in a month, he wisely suggested.
Haaretz

October 21st, 2007, 1:18 pm

 

annie said:

AnotherIsraeliGuy, you get on my nerves.
There are all classes of hotels in Damascus from the Four Seasons to the Rabiye or the Haramein where backpackers stay and which are wonderful places.
Damascus is heaven, its people are sweet, its halawiyat are the best.
Although I wish we had peace all over the region I cringe at the idea of having AnotherIsraeliGuy be allowed to visit Damascus, the pearl of the region; it would be a pearl to a donkey.

October 21st, 2007, 1:53 pm

 

AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Annie,

If Damascus is heaven then there is really no room for improvement, is there?

Your kind are the most atrocius of foreigners. You idealize an oppressive regime and make it look like the best thing since sliced bread and thus support the continuing oppression of the people.

Would you trade the Asad regime for what you have now in Belgium? If your answer is no, then the contention that Damascus is heaven is a ridiculous statement that shows your contempt for human rights.

October 21st, 2007, 3:43 pm

 

Alex said:

AIG,

We are thankful to your genuine support for the cause … against the Continuing oppression of the people of Syria.

But I think your efforts would be much more useful if you direct them where you can make a difference … in your country.

I will paste the whole article from the Observer that Jamal linked above …. maybe you can notice it this time.

Israel shaken by troops’ tales of brutality against Palestinians

A psychologist blames assaults on civilians in the 1990s on soldiers’ bad training, boredom and poor supervision

Conal Urquhart in Jerusalem
Sunday October 21, 2007
The Observer

A study by an Israeli psychologist into the violent behaviour of the country’s soldiers is provoking bitter controversy and has awakened urgent questions about the way the army conducts itself in the Gaza Strip and West Bank.

Nufar Yishai-Karin, a clinical psychologist at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem, interviewed 21 Israeli soldiers and heard confessions of frequent brutal assaults against Palestinians, aggravated by poor training and discipline. In her recently published report, co-authored by Professor Yoel Elizur, Yishai-Karin details a series of violent incidents, including the beating of a four-year-old boy by an officer.

Article continues
The report, although dealing with the experience of soldiers in the 1990s, has triggered an impassioned debate in Israel, where it was published in an abbreviated form in the newspaper Haaretz last month. According to Yishai Karin: ‘At one point or another of their service, the majority of the interviewees enjoyed violence. They enjoyed the violence because it broke the routine and they liked the destruction and the chaos. They also enjoyed the feeling of power in the violence and the sense of danger.’

In the words of one soldier: ‘The truth? When there is chaos, I like it. That’s when I enjoy it. It’s like a drug. If I don’t go into Rafah, and if there isn’t some kind of riot once in some weeks, I go nuts.’

Another explained: ‘The most important thing is that it removes the burden of the law from you. You feel that you are the law. You are the law. You are the one who decides… As though from the moment you leave the place that is called Eretz Yisrael [the Land of Israel] and go through the Erez checkpoint into the Gaza Strip, you are the law. You are God.’

The soldiers described dozens of incidents of extreme violence. One recalled an incident when a Palestinian was shot for no reason and left on the street. ‘We were in a weapons carrier when this guy, around 25, passed by in the street and, just like that, for no reason – he didn’t throw a stone, did nothing – bang, a bullet in the stomach, he shot him in the stomach and the guy is dying on the pavement and we keep going, apathetic. No one gave him a second look,’ he said.

The soldiers developed a mentality in which they would use physical violence to deter Palestinians from abusing them. One described beating women. ‘With women I have no problem. With women, one threw a clog at me and I kicked her here [pointing to the crotch], I broke everything there. She can’t have children. Next time she won’t throw clogs at me. When one of them [a woman] spat at me, I gave her the rifle butt in the face. She doesn’t have what to spit with any more.’

Yishai-Karin found that the soldiers were exposed to violence against Palestinians from as early as their first weeks of basic training. On one occasion, the soldiers were escorting some arrested Palestinians. The arrested men were made to sit on the floor of the bus. They had been taken from their beds and were barely clothed, even though the temperature was below zero. The new recruits trampled on the Palestinians and then proceeded to beat them for the whole of the journey. They opened the bus windows and poured water on the arrested men.

The disclosure of the report in the Israeli media has occasioned a remarkable response. In letters responding to the recollections, writers have focused on both the present and past experience of Israeli soldiers to ask troubling questions that have probed the legitimacy of the actions of the Israeli Defence Forces.

The study and the reactions to it have marked a sharp change in the way Israelis regard their period of military service – particularly in the occupied territories – which has been reflected in the increasing levels of conscientious objection and draft-dodging.

The debate has contrasted sharply with an Israeli army where new recruits are taught that they are joining ‘the most ethical army in the world’ – a refrain that is echoed throughout Israeli society. In its doctrine, published on its website, the Israeli army emphasises human dignity. ‘The Israeli army and its soldiers are obligated to protect human dignity. Every human being is of value regardless of his or her origin, religion, nationality, gender, status or position.’

However, the Israeli army, like other armies, has found it difficult to maintain these values beyond the classroom. The first intifada, which began in 1987, before the wave of suicide bombings, was markedly different to the violence of the second intifada, and its main events were popular demonstrations with stone-throwing.

Yishai-Karin, in an interview with Haaretz, described how her research came out of her own experience as a soldier at an army base in Rafah in the Gaza Strip. She interviewed 18 ordinary soldiers and three officers whom she had served with in Gaza. The soldiers described how the violence was encouraged by some commanders. One soldier recalled: ‘After two months in Rafah, a [new] commanding officer arrived… So we do a first patrol with him. It’s 6am, Rafah is under curfew, there isn’t so much as a dog in the streets. Only a little boy of four playing in the sand. He is building a castle in his yard. He [the officer] suddenly starts running and we all run with him. He was from the combat engineers.

‘He grabbed the boy. I am a degenerate if I am not telling you the truth. He broke his hand here at the wrist, broke his leg here. And started to stomp on his stomach, three times, and left. We are all there, jaws dropping, looking at him in shock…

‘The next day I go out with him on another patrol, and the soldiers are already starting to do the same thing.”

Yishai-Karin concluded that the main reason for the soldiers’ violence was a lack of training. She found that the soldiers did not know what was expected of them and therefore were free to develop their own way of behaviour. The longer a unit was left in the field, the more violent it became. The Israeli soldiers, she concluded, had a level of violence which is universal across all nations and cultures. If they are allowed to operate in difficult circumstances, such as in Gaza and the West Bank, without training and proper supervision, the violence is bound to come out.

A spokeswoman for the Israeli army said that, if a soldier deviates from the army’s norms, they could be investigated by the military police or face criminal investigation.

She said: ‘It should be noted that since the events described in Nufar Yishai-Karin’s research the number of ethical violations by IDF soldiers involving the Palestinian population has consistently dropped. This trend has continued in the last few years.’

October 21st, 2007, 4:01 pm

 

AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Alex,

Why do you think that I am not taking care of my business in Israel?

And if you notice from the article, the facts were published by Israelis and debated in Israel. The need for change came from within Israel.

Can you say that you can have such a debate in Syria? No. All you can do is praise Bashar.

Because you are a closed society you cannot improve. That is the difference between Syria and Israel. And when Syria becomes an open society like Israel, then maybe we can have peace.

Until then, I will improve my society and you will be a propoganda piece for the regime, because frankly, you cannot do anything but blame Israel all the time. That is the only thing the regime allows you to do.

October 21st, 2007, 4:27 pm

 

Alex said:

I see. It seems you need another reminder:

Denial. Unconsciously refusing to perceive the more unpleasant aspects of external reality (feelings, events, or both), replacing it with a less threatening but inaccurate one.

Projection. Attributing to others, one’s own unacceptable or unwanted thoughts and/or emotions. Projection reduces anxiety in the way that it allows the expression of the impulse or desire without letting the ego recognize it;

October 21st, 2007, 4:55 pm

 

t_desco said:

Yet AnotherIsraeliGuy who got no answer…?

As predicted, Walid Jumblatt was his usual diplomatic self on Wolf Blitzer’s Late Edition. Some snippets (my transcript):

Blitzer: “Who is behind these assassinations?”

Jumblatt: “I think … Syria and its allies, Hizbullah. … I have no doubt.”

“As long as Bashar al-Asad in Syria … feels secure, as long as there are no sanctions, effective sanctions against him, military sanctions (sic) or economic sanctions, … he will just go along in Lebanon, killing us one by one.”

“We want Lebanon to be out of the Israeli-Arab conflict.”

“Now Lebanon is united but the allies of Syria are not with us.” (sic)

“This alliance between Iran, Syria and Lebanon (sic), Hizbullah, is an indirect occupation of Lebanon.”

“As long as we have this tyrant, this butcher in Damascus alive (sic), we won’t be able to have a democracy, a stable democracy in Lebanon.”

October 21st, 2007, 5:21 pm

 

Bashmann said:

AIG,

Don’t despair, there are plenty of Syrians, I’m included, who still see your point clearly.
The guys here, like Alex and companies, seem to think a benevolent dictator is better than democracy and free choice. This ideology has been instilled in the minds of many Syrians, including my father. Its roots go back to the nature of the Arab People. Their tribal roots coupled with their patriarchal societies impede the development of a true democratic culture. We have been taught since our childhood to blindly respect the elder of the family with no questions, the final word simply belongs to him in all matters including life or death.

I once asked my 77 year old father who is a true patriot and well known for it, why do you think democracy can not flourish or survive in our country? He replied by telling me a story which so truthfully illustrated the nature of the people of Syria and gave me the answer to my question. He recalled a demonstration that happened in the late 50’s and early 60’s in Damascus just prior to the infamous session period of the United Arab State between Syria and Egypt. He recalls watching the demonstration as a young man where about a thousand demonstrators started chanting the slogans for the Unity with Egypt at the start of the demonstrations, by the time they reached their final destination which was the Justice Building close to downtown Damascus, the demonstrator’s switched sides and started chanting against Unity. There was some breaking news that reached the demonstrators while they were in the middle of the demonstration and almost all switched sides and chanted against the Unity with Egypt. 

This is part of the mentality which we are up against.

Thomas Friedman in his best seller and winner of the national book award book “From Beirut to Jerusalem” illustrates these traits of the Arab people where family, clan, and tribe meant everything and strength was the ultimate broker of disputes between tribes. The more powerful the tribe the more ruthless was its leader. Ruthlessness brought respect and went hand in hand with strength in our culture. You either join the tribe, pledge your full allegiance to it and its leader or risk being thrown out and violated by many dangers in the Arabian Desert. In this society of course the causality was individuality which lacked behind and gave room to the more urgent needs of the tribe which were strength and power to protect itself from other tribes.

The problem with this situation also is that Jewish culture carries elements of the same tribalism we are talking about here. Now you can agree with me I hope, that the hardest opposition to peace we have seen in the past and present with Arabs was coming from ideologists who followed the school of Vladimir Jabotinsky the founder of the Jewish militant organization Irgun. The influence of such ideology had brought many past and some current Israeli leaders to adopt such tribalism in their politics. The comments that Alex posted a few days ago of past Israeli leaders clearly show this.

Until both cultures eliminate such tribal roots from their politics we will still be arguing who is right and who is wrong 50 years from now. Israel with its nascent democracy have made a great a stride in that directions, on the other hand the Arabs are still looking for that foundation, yet ‘till Alex and companies admit we have a real and legitimate problem with dictatorship in the Arab world only then we can begin to build a better society for ourselves and our future children. This takes courage and honesty on our part which we Syrians can’t seem to muster yet.

Cheers

October 21st, 2007, 5:56 pm

 

idaf said:

AIG,

If Syria is so weak and so irrelevant as you are repeatedly trying to convince us, then I’m totally perplexed by the fact that you spend hours and hours on a daily basis lecturing Syrians on this blog (and maybe more hours on other forums).

Why this obsession with a country so weak and not posing threat to Israel (as you claim as an excuse for not returning what your country stole from it)?

As I see it, in the back of your head you feel compelled and have the urge to spend a considerable percentage of your life on this blog lecturing Syrians on the need for “regime change” as a precondition to peace with them, only because of the following reasons:

1- You actually know that Syria is not that week, and is overall strong enough to not make you sleep at night, which drives your obsession with Syria.

2- You don’t ever want to return back the stolen Golan to its rightful owner (because of ideology or greed) and are using this “regime not democratic” as an excuse.

Basically I find it pathetically ironic that you wish to prolong Israel’s hold of the Golan as long as possible by using “the regime” as your current excuse while Israel practices despicable abuses to human rights seen only in Apartheid South Africa, Nazi Germany and Saddam’s and Bush’s Iraq. I have no doubt that more creative excuses of “why Israel should not return the Golan to Syria” would pop up if the regime was to democratize.

I advise you to take Alex’s advice and make a better use of the long hours you spend on this blog to change the inhumane attitude of your country, if only to give “regime-apologist” Syrians a good example. Let Syrians worry about their regime being not democratic. They are more than capable in dealing with their country.

October 21st, 2007, 6:52 pm

 

AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Bashmann,

When I read your repsonses, I become slightly more optimistic. If many Syrians are like you, Syria may have a chance.

And of course Israel has to improve. It is a long messy process. But there is a process moving forward. Israel muddles along like any democracy does.

October 21st, 2007, 7:05 pm

 

Alex said:

Bashman,

I admit admit we have a real and legitimate problem with dictatorship in the Arab world.

cool?

October 21st, 2007, 7:11 pm

 

AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Idaf,

Syria is weak because every indication, economic, military etc shows that it is. It’s only strength is its ability to support terrorist organizations like Hamas and Hizballah.

I think I am about one week on this blog, and the reason I am here is because I want to understand how Syrians think. I amy be leaving soon, so you can look forward to that.

The Golan is not going to make the life of the Syrians oppressed by the Asad regime any better. Keep deluding yourself. What will help Syrians is democratization.

Syrians need all the help they can get in order to get rid of their oppressors. Just like Asad was driven out of Lebanon, he will be driven out of Syria. You have hope for a better future.

October 21st, 2007, 7:13 pm

 

AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Alex,

Do you admit that you have a real problem with dictatorship in Syria? Since you support Bashar, this is not really clear to me.

October 21st, 2007, 7:14 pm

 

Alex said:

T_Desco,

I think Jumblatt should realize that he is starting to sound like a liability on his own allies. Despite threatening to kill the Syrian president in a public speech last year (he will send Bashar a son of the mountain) the Syrians ignored him … Jumblat’s madness has become one of the reasons more and more Syrians are supporting their regime’s policies on Lebanon.

Why is he outside Lebanon all this time? … just when all the action is taking place in Beirut … Did he need to stay in Washington this long or is he already being pushed aside?

October 21st, 2007, 7:20 pm

 

Alex said:

AIG,

If you try to understand instead of trying to win an argument, you might be able to … understand.

Things come in packages …we have groups of options … we can not pick and choose elements and components to our liking.

If I could, I would ideally like to see democracy in Syria, I would like to see a peaceful and secular state in Israel that does not kill non-Jews with ease, I would like to See a secular Iran with a friendly president, I would like to see a Saudi Arabia that spends a hundred billion dollars per year on the sick and poor around the world …

But these desirable outcomes are linked to many other outcomes (many not desirable at all).. we have to be ready to take the bad with the good.

And they have prerequisites. There are three possible attitudes that one can have with regard to change

1) Be indifferent, do not take any active role.
2) Call for a revolution .. boycott, speak against … rally the troops … invade .. ask for outside help … use force …
3) identify the environmental conditions that encourage, indirectly, the direction of desired change. Try to slowly disassociate your desired outcome from the group of associated negative outcomes that are guaranteed to cause us pain if we rushed for that package of outcomes today.

You are mistaking me for #1 …. I am in number 3.

The Neocons are in #2 .. they gave us a million dead Iraqis. Jumblatt is in#2 .. Syrians think he is a lunatic.

Syrians are not impressed with option 2.

October 21st, 2007, 7:38 pm

 

ausamaa said:

Alex, for God’s sake???

“Israel shaken by troops’ tales of brutality against Palestinians”

As if “normal” Israelies do not have TV and Internet and as if they live in the North Pole not a stone’s throw where the Brave soldiers of the IDF were going on about their daily routine since 15 May 1948.

Well, now that the “unsuspecting and innocent” Israeli public is “shaken” by the brutality of their own against the Palestinans, let us wait and see how the Israeli “People” will react violently and swiftly to change things!!!!

LOL

October 21st, 2007, 7:41 pm

 

Jamal said:

AIG when I posted that article about the crimes of the Israeli army I was very aware that the issue was being debated openly in Israel, and that this was as positive thing compared to for example Syrians discussng their treatment of people in Lebanon (or better still the treatment of Syrian authorities of their own people).

If I thought it might bring a deeper understanding to Israelis of how flawed their moral stance is and why they are so widely loathed for their behaviour I would rejoice. But what makes me sick is that it will be justified in the minds of many there telling themselves that they were up against a vicious and wily enemy and “fighting for their survival”.

IMPORTANTLY let’s wait to see if it appears anywhere in the US media and political debate – or whether the Israeli lobby is doing their usual suppression job. The very place where it should be splashed as front page news, since uninformed Americans are paying in every sense of the word for the Israeli army’s behaviour.

October 21st, 2007, 7:43 pm

 

Jamal said:

Bashmann – an excellent piece, thank you. It gets back to textbook theories of political development and shows that in some respects Israel is in the same box. BUT Syrians were forced into a back room without external windows by their “leaders” at the point of a gun, while the Israelis have pointed their guns outwards.

Another difference pointed out here on this forum recently is that Syrians have no ill will towards Jewish people, but scratch an Israelist and you’ll get the racist, ruthless sense of entitlement and dismissal of Arab people that makes me say again that Israel deserves to fail on character grounds.

October 21st, 2007, 7:47 pm

 

ausamaa said:

BASHMAN says:

“This takes courage and honesty on our part which we Syrians can’t seem to muster yet”

Aint this a very general and racial comment? But I guess you would not know what the hell that means.

And please when you talk about Syrians kid yourself and use the word “we Syrians”.Speak for yourself my friend, and leave the Syrian people that lack “honesty and courage” alone.

What a jerk!

October 21st, 2007, 7:55 pm

 

AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Alex,

It is difficult to know if Syrians are impressed or not since they are afraid to speak. There is no freedom of speech in Syria. And why can it not be the case that Syrians have learned from Iraq’s mistake and refuse to partake in a civil war?

I am not mistaking you for anything. Option 3 is just like option 4: Support the current regime.

The moment your attitude is 3, you are not putting the blame for Syria’s problems where it has to be, in the hands of Bashar’s regime. Also, you keep using the two wrongs make a right argument. This blog is not about Israel, the US, Saudi or Zimbabwe. It is about Syria. And Syria’s problems come from it not being a democracy.

Look, you can’t explain why the “environment” hinders Syria from democratization, all you do is repeat your mantras without any support. What hinders democratization in Syria is Assad’s regime. What can be more simple than that? There was no democracy in Syria before 67 or after 67. There was no democracy before 73 or after 73. There was no democracy during the cold war or after the cold war. There was no democracy before 9/11 and after 9/11. There was no democracy before Iraq in 91 and Iraq in 2003. There was no democracy with Hafez and there is no democracy with Bashar. The “environment” keeps changing but the Baath and Assads and their repression keeps staying and getting worse.

So who are you trying to fool? Option 3 is a joke. It is just agreeing to keep the current regime in power. Option 3 is empty and meaningless.

October 21st, 2007, 7:55 pm

 

ausamaa said:

Alex,

Will Israel in its current form be still around when our brothers and cousins manage to change the regime and rehabilitate the Syrians to make them muster courage and honesty as they explained above?

I won’t bet on it.

October 21st, 2007, 8:05 pm

 

AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Jamal,

You are a racist yourself. It is just not true that “scratch an Israelist and you’ll get the racist, ruthless sense of entitlement and dismissal of Arab people that makes me say again that Israel deserves to fail on character grounds”. You are painting all Israelis with a broad brush and that is plain racist. I find your position especially strange since you bring your “evidence” from Israeli newspapers.

And the converse that “all Syrians love Jews” is a joke also. We heard what Tlas, Al-Sattar and the Muslim Brotherhood have to say. We are all familiar with the famous Damascus Blood Libel. But that they said it or believe it, does not make ALL syrians antisemites.

October 21st, 2007, 8:10 pm

 

AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Ausamma,

Your tendency to categorize any Syrian that criticizes Syria as a traitor is exactly the reason why Syria is backward. Criticism is not rejected by attacking the criticizer. It is done by explaining why the criticizer is wrong. Your attitude and support for Bashar is exactly the reason there is no internal debate in Syria and why Syria has barely advanced in the last 60 years.

Ah, and still the dreams of Israel disappearing? Whatever gets you going. It is much better that you bet on Bashar. It will get you really far…

October 21st, 2007, 8:15 pm

 

Alex said:

“Look, you can’t explain why the “environment” hinders Syria from democratization”

really?

Look at he situation with the Kurds today. If we had democracy then you would have had conflicts in Syria because the kurdish parties in Qamishli and Hassake would be burning cars and demonstrating against Bashar’s support of Turkey against the Kurdish militants.

Syria would have to choose between its important ally (Turkey) and between stability in its north east.

As long as You and the Americans are interfering in everything (like supporting Iraqi Kurds) and as long as Syria is at war, as you demonstrated again with your “special mission” last month, and as long as the whole region is close to a total explosion, we will not start any revolutions in Syria.

AIG … I am not really discussing anything with you .. I gave up long time ago. I am simply trying to explain the real situation in Syria to visitors of this site who might be attracted to you innocent-sounding “democracy in Syria is the solution to the problems of the Middle East” ideas.

October 21st, 2007, 8:17 pm

 

Jamal said:

AIG, I said Israelists not Israelis. I haven’t been to Israel, but I have met plenty who have (to visit family, work for a while or serve in the Israeli army) and I base that statement on what I have found unfailingly over the years. I have often been shocked to discover that side of them.

But I have been in Syria and I have not encountered the same reflex anti-Jewish stance except when used in politics.

Israel as a nation has had its chance – many chances – to demonstrate moral and political (not military) superiority. But greed, neurotic posturing and ruthlessness towards others have stopped that. To use a famous quote…they have never missed an opportunity to miss an opportunity.

October 21st, 2007, 8:22 pm

 

AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Jamal,

What is the difference between an Israelist and an Israeli?

Oh, and my view is that Israel is just a normal country with average people and I don’t expect Israel to be superior in any way, morally, politically or otherwise. You have a very strange view of Israel. Israel is just like any other western democracy and is not morally superior or claims to be morally superior to anybody.

October 21st, 2007, 8:28 pm

 

AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Alex,

You really don’t understand how democracies work. If the Kurds want to demonstrate, they ask for a license and negotiate with the government. If they are out of line, they can suppressed like happens in any democracy. If the Kurds were fairly represented in the Syrian parlaiment they would not resort to violence.

What a poor excuse. You would deny the Kurds the right to voice their opinion in the name of better relations with Turkey? What would you think of the US not allowing anti-globalization demonstrators because it didn’t want to hurt relations with China? Or how about the US supressing the Armenian lobby so as not to hurt relations with Turkey.

So again the problem is not the “environment”. It is the fact that there is no representative democracy in Syria that would allow its minorities to protest in a peaceful manner.

October 21st, 2007, 8:34 pm

 

Bashmann said:

Ausamma,

Thanks for the kind words. I’m not surprised at your attitude, it actually only proves my argument above and adds more weight to it. As many Syrians like yourself have sold their conscience to the devil and prefer to stick with a dictator like Bashar.

If you think of yourself as a courageous and honest person then answer this simple question for me on this forum;

Do you think Bashar Assad is a dictator or not?

A simple yes or no would settle the argument.

October 21st, 2007, 8:40 pm

 

Jamal said:

AIG, an Israelist is what you are now coming across as and an “average Israeli” is what you would like to think everyone there including yourself is.

And if you want to get a look at real live Israelists in action just turn to any of Israel’s leaders and representatives over the years – including that current real piece of work the foreign minister.

Anyway, let us wait to see if that Israeli army expose gets into the American media.

I am now understanding why people I know who have spent time in the IDF say it was bad and they don’t want to talk about it (and have chosen not to live in Israel, but still defend it and rail against Arabs in an “Israelist” fashion).

October 21st, 2007, 8:42 pm

 

Alex said:

AIG,

You obviously do not know, and more likely do not WANT to know, how things work in the Middle East.

Did you say they will ask for a license? … to demonstrate peacefuly?

This reminds me of the expectations your Neocon heroes had about the democratic Iraq.

To you it does not matter if the experiment fails … let the Syrians have a revolution … let America invade them and “install” democracy overnight. If they have chaos for few years, why not.

And you do not want to take a tiny chance when it comes to Jewish lives.

Maybe Jamal is right?

October 21st, 2007, 8:51 pm

 

Bashmann said:

Alex,

I appreciate you honest answer, will you admit that Bashar is also a dictator? 🙂

Cheers

October 21st, 2007, 8:52 pm

 

AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Jamal,

You say you are not a racist. Well then, please explain what the difference between an Israelist and an Israeli is?

Since I am Israeli and also according to you Israelist (why?) that so far supports the conclusion that Israelists and Israelis are the same. Since Israel’s representative have been democratically elected by the Israeli people and they support what they say, does that mean also that Israelists and Israelis are the same?

Is any Israeli that thinks he needs to go to the IDF and serve his country an Israelists?

What don’t you like about Livni by the way? She is pretty cool.

October 21st, 2007, 8:54 pm

 

AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Bashmann,

I tried that one. 🙂

As expected, no response. Is it Stockholm Syndrome? I just don’t get it.

October 21st, 2007, 8:56 pm

 

Alex said:

Bahsman,

Bashar is doing a good job compared to the all the other authoritarian rulers in the Middle East. : )

October 21st, 2007, 8:56 pm

 

Jamal said:

IAG you are using a very familiar debating tactic. The highest priest and art form is Alan Dershowitz. Attack your attackers, don’t respond to or analyse what has been said.

Livni might look pretty cool to an Israelist, but not to others. What don’t I like about her? Only two things – what she says and what she does.

Wait,there’s a third thing – what she is.

October 21st, 2007, 9:03 pm

 

majedkhaldoun said:

the arab history showed that many dictators were loved by the people, Nasser was an example.

October 21st, 2007, 9:11 pm

 

AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Jamal,

You are really accusing me of not responding?

Look, Livni is the democratically elected foreign minister of Israel and is very popular with Israelis. She represents what most Israelis think. So if you don’t like her, then you don’t like Israelis. Which is fine.

Can you be more specific? What is a recent thing she said or did that you didn’t like? Then I’ll be able to understand why you don’t like her.

And by the way Jamal, how do you like my new motto: I have no problem with Muslims but I hate all Islamists. Do you think that this is racist to say?

October 21st, 2007, 9:12 pm

 

AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

What history has shown is that it is impossible to know what Arabs really think since Arab dictators always supressed free speech with a heavy hand and called anyone who criticized them a traitor.

October 21st, 2007, 9:14 pm

 

annie said:

AIG
I was speaking of Damascus the town and its people. You are very skilful at putting words in people’s mouths. Incredibly dishonnest. Where did you get that kind of training ?

“Your kind are the most atrocius of foreigners. You idealize an oppressive regime and make it look like the best thing since sliced bread and thus support the continuing oppression of the people.”

I stay away from politics; as a foreigner I leave these matters to the Syrians.
As an Israeli, may be you could get a little more indignant about what is done in your name to Palestinians.

October 21st, 2007, 9:23 pm

 

Jamal said:

AIG Your tactic is VERY familiar. Deflect what was said by demanding more explantion, posing further questions.

I do not have time at this moment to come up with examples on Livni. This is not a cop out – I invite others reading this to do some research and they will see what I mean.

“She represents what most Israelis think” – say no more. You’ve said it all.

I don’t disagree with your statement on Islamists.

October 21st, 2007, 9:27 pm

 

Bashmann said:

Alex,

LOL 🙂 Syrians are famous for their dubious stands, you just proved you are one of us. The difference between me an you, I’m saying it outloud and clear, you just simply do not dare to put it in writing.

Maybe now Ausamma can get to know what I mean by courage and honesty.

Cheers.

October 21st, 2007, 9:28 pm

 

Alex said:

Bashamann,

Let be be clear:

I AM HAPPY WITH BASHAR’S REGIONAL POLICIES.

I AM NOT HAPPY WITH MANY INTERNAL POLICIES.

THESE DAYS MY PRIORITY IS ON THE REGIONAL SIDE.

Did I call you a traitor for being the friendliest person to AIG who is bothering every Syrian here? Did I say that you have “dubious” stands? … did I compare you unfavorably to me because I have the courage to “say it loud and clear” to AIG and you don’t?

October 21st, 2007, 9:39 pm

 

SimoHurtta said:

Would you trade the Asad regime for what you have now in Belgium? If your answer is no, then the contention that Damascus is heaven is a ridiculous statement that shows your contempt for human rights.

Do not AIG speak so much about democracy and human rights. It doesn’t fit to anybody who defends Haredistan. You only force people to focus to Israel’s strange nationalistic religious “democracy”.

Some news of Israeli English language press from today
Haredi youths assail woman on bus
Knesset committee chair: Constitution likely to hurt minority rights
More women going AWOL, military police says
Yesha Council: We’ll fight to protect outposts
6 soldiers suspected of beating Druze comrades

Hmmmm democracy indeed, but only in the press. An army without discipline, with the spirit of Stern gang and Irgun, behaving like animals. Bearded religious Jewish extremists terrorising their own women and Palestinians. Former IDF Chief of Staff wanting to rob the few natural resources Palestinians have left. Every day numerous of such reports of serious human right violations, land theft, racism, religious extremism, violence and torture, total disregard of international treaties, war crimes etc.

Name AIG even one democracy witch comes near Israel “achievements” with human rights violations and religious extremism. Even most of dictatorships can’t keep up with Israeli human rights violations. The only thing that is democratic in Israel is your ability to vote your “honest and women respecting” politicians to Knesset, but the Jewish legal system and domination of the majority makes real democracy an impossibility.

You AIG are seriously misinformed if you believe that the people of democratic countries see Israel as a real democracy. Israel is widely seen as a caricature of democracy. And not as as a pretty caricature.

AIG your style when first you mock Syrians and Arabs in general and then when critics against Israel is presented you blame others for categorizing all Jews as “bad”, is somewhat astonishing. Of course Israelis have different views. And naturally Jews. The majority of Jews do not like very much what is happening in Israel. And some thousands of Israeli Jews yearly even prefer more taking German citizenship as staying in Israel (= voting with their feet).

By the way, in our series of history, AIG do you know who was the father of Tzipi Livni, the Israeli peace builder? Professor Juan Cole has a good analysis of minister Livni. Well the father was Eitan Livni, who as the chief operations officer of the Irgun terrorist organization took care of each operation from the moment the target was selected, through the planning to the implementation stage. What did Irgun do? Among others Deir Yassin massacre.

The Irgun’s Anthem

Tagar –
Through all obstacles and enemies
Whether you go up or down
In the flames of revolt
Carry a flame to kindle – never mind!
For silence is filth
Worthless is blood and soul
For the sake of the hidden glory

To die or to conquer the hill –
Yodefet, Masada, Beitar.

As you see AIG from Tzipi’s carrier the children of terrorists can became democrats and ministers. And in past terrorists even managed to became prime ministers. Some model country for Arabs, Iranians and Europeans, isn’t it AIG.

October 21st, 2007, 9:45 pm

 

AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Annie,

Anyone can go back and read what you wrote and see if I am dishonest.

I see you stay away from politics when it comes to Syria but not when it comes to Israel. Do you advise your Syrian friends to work for democracy and demonstrate against supression of freedom of speech? Or do you just advise Israelis to take better care of Palestinans? Why is it that you care more about the rights of the Palestinians than you care about the rights of the Syrians?

October 21st, 2007, 9:50 pm

 

IsraeliGuy said:

*********
“Did I call you a traitor for being the friendliest person to AIG who is bothering every Syrian here?”
*********

Alex, do you really think that AIG is ‘bothering’ people here?

I mean, the man asks some good questions about Syria (and let’s not forget that it is a Syrian related blog), while you and your friends pose many good questions about Israel, other Arab countries, the US, etc.

Doesn’t he have a right to ask these questions here?

The way I see it, he raises some valid points, doesn’t use abusive language, tries to make his case with arguments, examples and questions – just as you do when it comes to others.

What’s wrong with that?
Shouldn’t we encourage an open discussion?

October 21st, 2007, 9:56 pm

 

AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Alex,

Why would you care more about the regional side then about what is happening to Syrians in Syria? It doesn’t make sense.

And the fact that you are expecting to be appreciated for doing a normal thing that any normal person would do is ridiculous. Bashmann has to THANK YOU for you not calling him a traitor? Any five year old can see that Bashmann cares about Syrians more than you do.

October 21st, 2007, 9:59 pm

 

Alex said:

Read what BAshmann wrote about me and you will understand what I said… I was replying to his rating me… my honestly and my courage.

When it is time to discuss internal Syrian issues we all do, but when we are discussing on Syria comment regional topics and the only thing AIG can say one comment after another is “why don’t you have a revolution and get rid of Bashar the murderer” … it eventually (after few weeks) causes fatigue… reminds me of listening to Techno beats … too monotonous … no modulation, no variation … no new information.

And I advised you AIG, before to stay away form character assassination tactics with me.

If you want to suggest that I do not tolerate discussions about Syria’s internal problems, you might want to go over this topic that I called for on Creative Syria.

And why do I care this year more about regional conflicts? because internally I did not hear lately of a million people killed for nothing like the ones who died in Iraq! … because I care about all human beings and not only “Syrians” … if this is very foreign to you, I understand… because Israel’s friends in Washington who are planning and executing violent events for the Middle East are still working hard … helping us become democratic.

Anyway. Dinner time for me.

Have fun.

October 21st, 2007, 10:09 pm

 

reader of newspapers from afar said:

Alex,

If you reply to AIG for the sole purpose of convincing new visitors to this website you are doing a bad job. You are the most cogent supporter of Assad here but your unwillingness to cede any point in the argument to AIG make you look like a zealot. It is this kind of unwillingness to admit any failure, wrong doing or fault, while pointing the blame at everyone else, that kept Arab states so far behind for so many years. One of the reasons for Israel’s relative prosperity is its ability to (at least sometimes) admit errors and learn from its mistakes.

Syria’s only chance to prosper is to rely on people with your abilities. However, if all skilled and educated Syrians share your views of Assad and support him no matter what (there’s always an excuse), Syria has a very bleak future.

October 21st, 2007, 10:24 pm

 

Alex said:

Reader,

I criticize a lot … I do it calmly … it seems some of you only want to hear the dramatic “Assad the murderer”.

If you followed most of what I wrote in the past, I was the friendliest person here to Israelis.

Forgive me if I have been lately critical of Israel … you know, after Israeli leaders assured Syria that everything is calm from their side and there is no reason to worry about their intentions to attack Syria .. then the next day they attacked .. then the next day their prime minister said “I respect Syria and I respect Bashar” …

The situation is too complex for Black and White. If you can not see the shades of gray I am using, I will not switch to Black and White.

October 21st, 2007, 10:28 pm

 

AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Alex,

The way I see it, it is your argument that is monotonous: Leave Bashar in power, things we get better. Syria is better than its neigbors. What else do you need?

In reality the argument between us is simple: You do not accept that Syria’s problems foremost and utmost are the result of the Asad dictatorial regime.

And I noticed that creative syria has been having quite a long hiatus. Is it because you are not comfortable with the anti regime stuff people write? How about this topic for creative Syria:
Should the Bashar Asad regime be replaced?

Are you courageous enough to have such a discussion topic? I will not hold my breath.

October 21st, 2007, 10:37 pm

 

IsraeliGuy said:

********
“If you followed most of what I wrote in the past, I was the friendliest person here to Israelis.”
********

Yep, I remember the good ol’ days…

Just for the record, I have no problem being friendly to anybody here, including inviting him to my home, for dinner or coffee – and still disagree with his basic philosophy, ideas and beliefs.

I have lots of good friends with whom I totally disagree on many issues and we’re still good friends.

********
“Forgive me if I have been lately critical of Israel … you know, after Israeli leaders assured Syria that everything is calm from their side and there is no reason to worry about their intentions to attack Syria .. then the next day they attacked .. then the next day their prime minister said “I respect Syria and I respect Bashar” …”
********

You know us Israelis.
We change our minds pretty quickly… 😉

I think you should run a thorough background check on Imad Mustapha.
I think he’s an Israeli posing as a Syrian Ambassador.

October 21st, 2007, 10:46 pm

 

Akbar Palace said:

Bashmann,

I appreciate your candidness. The “tribal” issue is something we’ve been reading about in many of these conflicts, and your description seems to bear this out.

You said:

Thomas Friedman in his best seller and winner of the national book award book “From Beirut to Jerusalem” illustrates these traits of the Arab people where family, clan, and tribe meant everything and strength was the ultimate broker of disputes between tribes. The more powerful the tribe the more ruthless was its leader.

I tihnk this is why the US is having greater success in Iraq. From what I’ve been reading, the US military is cutting deals one-by-one with Iraqi tribal leaders.

Ruthlessness brought respect and went hand in hand with strength in our culture. You either join the tribe, pledge your full allegiance to it and its leader or risk being thrown out and violated by many dangers in the Arabian Desert.

Yes, when we discuss “ruthlessness” on this forum, it is only directed to the Zionists. The Arabs are never guilty of “ruthlessness”. But we see it all the time: Hama, Halabja, Saddam, Kuwait, Damour, Gaza, the list is endless.

All this talk about “showing strength” in the Middle East, I’m afraid, is pretty accurate.

In this society of course the causality was individuality which lacked behind and gave room to the more urgent needs of the tribe which were strength and power to protect itself from other tribes.

I agree. Becasue the Middle East is tribal, individual rights are not a priority. Other government societies were like this as well: Communist (USSR, China) as well a fscist societies.

The problem with this situation also is that Jewish culture carries elements of the same tribalism we are talking about here.

My experience of living in Israel for over 2 years is that Israel has very little tribalism. Family issues tend to be “tribal”, but only on a small scale. These issues disappear in terms of the government. Families hold very little political power in the legislature (Knesset) and in the judiciary. It only comes to play during Bar Mitzvahs and weddings. On this issue I would have to disagree with you.

Until both cultures eliminate such tribal roots from their politics we will still be arguing who is right and who is wrong 50 years from now. Israel with its nascent democracy have made a great a stride in that directions, on the other hand the Arabs are still looking for that foundation, yet ‘till Alex and companies admit we have a real and legitimate problem with dictatorship in the Arab world only then we can begin to build a better society for ourselves and our future children. This takes courage and honesty on our part which we Syrians can’t seem to muster yet.

In the context of your point here, modernizing Arab society and Arab government, I would say that it starts from the top and works its way down to the people. The people are too afraid and too weak to change their government. That is why the “Bush Doctrine” is “regime change”, and the Israelis, well, they’re ready to work with anyone who has the power and the desire to make peace.

October 21st, 2007, 11:10 pm

 

norman said:

Lebanon’s Jumblatt calls on U.S. to impose sanctions on Syria, accuses Hezbollah of political assassinations

The Associated Press
Sunday, October 21, 2007
BEIRUT, Lebanon: A senior Lebanese pro-government leader called on the United States on Sunday to impose sanctions against Syria, warning that Lebanon would not enjoy stability and independence as long as Syrian President Bashar Assad’s regime was in power.

Walid Jumblatt also accused Hezbollah, the Lebanese militant group allied with Syria and Iran, of involvement in political assassinations in Lebanon along with its Syrian allies.

Jumblatt visited New York and Washington in recent days and has been urging the U.S. to help Lebanon elect a president before Emile Lahoud’s term ends Nov. 24.

Jumblatt’s accusations against Syria for the assassination of former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri in 2005 and a string of political killings since then are not new, but leveling the blame against Hezbollah ups the ante between the anti-Syrian leader and the guerrilla group.

In an interview broadcast Sunday on CNN’s “Late Edition,” the political leader of Lebanon’s minority Druse, an offshoot Islamic sect, accused Syria of trying to whittle down the anti-Syrian majority in Parliament through assassination to prevent the election of a president who does not answer to Syria.

The majority currently has 68 members in the 128-member legislature after last month’s assassination of an anti-Syrian lawmaker. Another anti-Syrian lawmaker was killed by a car bomb in June.

Asked in the interview who was behind the assassinations, the outspoken Jumblatt replied, “I think Syria and its ally, Hezbollah.”

Syria has denied any involvement in the assassinations and Hezbollah has condemned such murders. Although allies of Jumblatt have accused the Syrians of being behind the assassinations, they have refrained from directing blame against Hezbollah, which has repeatedly said it is focused on battling Israel. Hezbollah fought Israel to a standstill in last year’s devastating monthlong war.

Jumblatt ridiculed Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah’s recent accusations that Israel was behind the assassinations, calling it the “biggest joke that I have ever heard.”

The Druse leader said Syria should be pressured to stop the assassinations, adding “that as long as Bashar Assad in Syria feels secure, as long as there are no sanctions, effective sanctions against him, military sanctions or economic sanctions, well, he will just go along in Lebanon killing us one by one.”

He said that Syria is using the killings to scuttle Parliament’s presidential election. A Sept. 25 session to elect a leader failed to achieve momentum after the Hezbollah-led opposition boycotted, preventing a quorum.

Failure to elect a president could throw the country’s deep political crisis into a tailspin that could result in a power vacuum or two rival governments, a dark reminder of the last two years of the 1975-90 civil war.

“This is why we’ve got to stay alive, survive the next few weeks. And then if we are still a majority, we can elect one of us president that will abide by international law and also abide by the international tribunal of justice (in Hariri’s assassination), that will one day, I hope, bring the murderers, bring Bashar al-Assad to trial,” Jumblatt said.

The Lebanese leader pressed Washington to act and impose sanctions against Assad.

“Look, as long as we have this tyrant, this butcher in Damascus alive, we won’t be able to have a democracy, a stable democracy in Lebanon,” said Jumblatt. “So this is where I’m asking and I have asked for effective sanctions against this guy, this regime in Damascus.”

A one-time ally of the Syrians and Hezbollah who has sharply criticized U.S. Mideast policy in the past, Jumblatt turned against Damascus after Hariri’s assassination and became friendly to Washington. Since then, Hezbollah and its allies have left the government, leading to a political stalemate in the country.

——————————————————————————–
Notes:

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October 22nd, 2007, 12:30 am

 

Syrian said:

Alex, the Regime Apologist (ARA)

Why can’t you see that the installation of democracy in Syria will transform the country into heaven on earth over night. Israel will give back the Jolan, The US will be an ally and every Syrian will be driving a Lexus, thanks to all the wealth that a democracy will generate.

ARA, it unnatural for Syria to remain a dictatorship while it is surrounded by a multitude of peace loving, human rights respecting, individualism promoting democracies where race, ethnic background, tribe or religion play no role in determining how an individual is treated by the state.

October 22nd, 2007, 2:25 am

 

AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Syrian,

A democracy will create freedom first and wealth later. Hafez Asad arrested your father for 30 months just for talking against the government. You lived in fear. The situation now under Bashar Asad is not better, perhaps worse. I really, really, really don’t get it. Why are you such a masochist? Look at your childhood. Why are you wishing such experiences on today’s generation?

And again, what is it with the two wrongs make a right argument? As a Syrian why does it comfort you that Saudi and Egypt are dictatorships/monarchies? How does that make the situation in Syria better?

If a person in the US fights for civil rights, does it make him more of a patriot or less of a patriot? Why then, when you fight for civil rights in Syria you become a traitor?

October 22nd, 2007, 4:10 am

 

annie said:

AnotherIsraeliGuy
“I see you stay away from politics when it comes to Syria but not when it comes to Israel. Do you advise your Syrian friends to work for democracy and demonstrate against supression of freedom of speech?”

My Syrian friends do not need my advice neither did they ask me for any

“Or do you just advise Israelis to take better care of Palestinans?”
Don’t take care of them, just give them back what is theirs

” Why is it that you care more about the rights of the Palestinians than you care about the rights of the Syrians?”
That question is pure BS

October 22nd, 2007, 4:49 am

 

Syrian said:

AIG,

On what basis are you arguing that the situation under Bashar is not better, and maybe worse. The objection that I have to your prescription which seems to be a revolt against the existing order is that it would lead to a situation for today’s generation that is much worse than what I may have experienced in my own childhood (a la Iraq). Change as prescribed by you is a forced change that would inevitably lead a lot of violence and in the end, leave all Syrians where they are today, maybe worse.

No Syrian I talk to claims that the situation today is as bleak as it was in the late seventies. The fact is, as oppressive as the regime maybe, it is much more open that it was 3 decades ago and the trend seems to be towards more openness.

I never accepted and will never accept that a person could be persecuted because of speaking their minds or because of held beliefs; however, I accept that, in the process of national evolution, there would be a stage in which the strong will suppress the weak and individual liberty would suffer. It is also paramount that during this stage there be people like my father who are willing to be publicly oppressed to point out the wrongs that are going on. But that is exactly the point, it does not serve the nation for us to have one violent uprising after another in our quest for a better nation. Our path is one of peaceful resistance to injustice that has taken a long time and will probably take even longer.

Unlike ARA I do not believe that peace with Israel is the solution for Syria’s problems (I don’t think he believes that either). However, your claim that the Jolan will be returned only after Syria is a democracy is full of it. The fact that you are willing to make the conditional concession is an acknowledgment of Syrian claim on the Jolan. The land is rightfully Syrian and it should be returned to Syria regardless of the mode of government that is in control at the moment.

I am actually offended that you would imply that I or anyone on this forum has suggested that the civil rights activists in Syria are traitors. I have never read anyone here other than you making this claim.

Contrary to what you may have thought, I do not care less about the government structure in neighboring countries. But I will leave you with a couple of questions:

Why do you think there are dictatorships in all these countries, Syria included?

Do you think Iraq will come out of this period a intact and a Democracy?

October 22nd, 2007, 4:55 am

 

Alex said:

WOW Syrian! .. it is great to see you here again! .. what was it? long summer vacation or lots of consulting projrcts?

When you were away, our friend AIG managed to set few new rules of civilized discussions for us chaotic Syrians.

1) Please do not make the mistake of pointing out that every single country in the Middle East is not “good”. That technique is called “two wrongs make a right” … not acceptable. Don’t … just don’t use it.

2) This blog is called “Syria Comment” … so we are not allowed anymore to criticize any other country here … we can only criticize Syria.

It all makes perfect sense if you think about it.

Thanks AIG.

October 22nd, 2007, 5:19 am

 

Syrian said:

Lots of work. Got to take care of the family first.

I want to apologize since I am not fully aware of these new rules. Thanks for letting me know. I would have felt pretty silly writing about what I think of the so called Israeli democracy on this blog.

October 22nd, 2007, 5:28 am

 

annie said:

Alex said “our friend AIG managed to set few new rules ”
He has in fact highjacked the place.
Freedom of expression is all right but Josh allows anyone to run the show;I prefer rimeallaf.com . At least her forum comments section remains focussed.

October 22nd, 2007, 5:29 am

 

Alex said:

oh and another thing, Syrian.

Because I complained that we are getting tired of Akbar Palace’s three accusations

1) Supporter of terror (or Hamas supporter)
2) Anti-Semitic
3) “you must have learned that at your local Damascus Madrasa”

Our new friend AIG came up with an original insult for those who do not obey his rules and limitations on what we are allowed to say:

You would be a regime supporter, anti-democracy, coward, a shameful man who calls Syria’s brave civil rights activists “traitors” …

I like that .. we really needed new fabricated insults. It makes it more fun to debate the war and peace scenarios in our neighborhood. Besides, it feels as exciting as being on an emotional rollercoaster! … one day you think you are a decent man, the next you find out you are a coward and a betrayer to Syria’s prisoners of conscious.

October 22nd, 2007, 5:29 am

 

Syrian said:

Annie,

If Syria was a democracy, Rime would be president (not sure she would want the job)

Alex,

Well, if I hate myself, does that make me an anti-semite??
In my local Damascus Madrasa I learned how to draw a mustache on Hafez’s picture on the notebooks they used to give us and I must say, I am well known around these parts for drawing the best mustaches, thanks to the education I got from my local Damascus Madrasa.

P.S. How do you like my new abbreviation for you “ARA”

October 22nd, 2007, 5:45 am

 

Alex said:

Annie,

Sometimes I feel like doing what Rime does, but … the Middle East is a big plate of spaghetti … everything is related. I can rarely find comments that are totally off topic.

Besides, AIG is so good at intellectualizing everything to conclude that he is good and the others are evil… you don’t want to give him an excuse to leave here telling everyone that the Syrians at Syria Comment are enemies of free speech.

By the way AIG … your challenge to me to do a “do you want to get rid of Bashar” topic is ridiculous! … sorry.

Your question is royally skewed. Read what they say here about biased questions, then go back and read how I word all my questions at the Think Tank. You will understand why I kept the change topic question the way it was … everyone had the chance to say “I want to change the regime” … just like this forum, creative Syria has all views. Sorry if no one wanted your revolution.

Actually at this point, I doubt you are capable of understanding.

October 22nd, 2007, 5:51 am

 

Alex said:

Syrian,

I like ARA … it sounds Armenian : )

And since AIG wanted me to criticize the regime, you just reminded me of of one of my top disappointments with “the regime”:

It is a shame they did not pick Rime Allaf yet to be Syria’s Vice President.

October 22nd, 2007, 6:06 am

 

Alex said:

And Israeliguy,

If Imad “lied” it was to diffuse tensions … saying that Israel did not hit anything makes it easier for Syria not to have to respond militarily to Israel’s attack.

Israeli government lies (we assure Syria there will be no aggression from Israel) were intended to facilitate Israel’s hostility.

October 22nd, 2007, 6:28 am

 

annie said:

“Besides, AIG is so good at intellectualizing everything to conclude that he is good and the others are evil… you don’t want to give him an excuse to leave here telling everyone that the Syrians at Syria Comment are enemies of free speech.”

What I resented among other things was his attack on Damascus.
He knows nothing about Damascus or Syria except for what the propaganda feeds him.
Damascus has its faults but it is a mesmerizing city; one gets hooked in no time.
All the tourists I meet here tell me about having been called crazy for visiting Syria and when they leave they have been impressed by the beauty of the land and the friendliness of its people.

Saying the above makes me a blind supporter of the regime and an enemy of democracy I suppose.

I think there is unanimity about Rime. What a waste that she should live abroad.

October 22nd, 2007, 7:56 am

 

MSK said:

Annie,

what you say about Damascus is absolutely correct, which makes it all the more important to preserve it and point out the various attempts to gentrify it.

As for Rime, we’re all in agreement that she & Syrians like her should be running the country instead of the current clique. Sadly, there are reasons why she doesn’t live in Syria but abroad.

Btw, Alex, since Josh seems to not read/care about the comments section & you seem to be running it – one respectful request: could you moderate it so actual conversations are possible? -> (1) external articles should be cut to the first 3 lines & then hyperlinked, (2) “who’s the bigger racist” fights should be deleted, (3) maybe a sub-thread “nested thread” system can be integrated so that interesting comments & arguments do not get lost in the general blahblah.

It’s just a thought. SyriaComment has already lost most of those commenters who were interested in open, calm, fact&argument-based discussion of Syria-related issues. Maybe there’s a chance to avoid that its comment section becomes a mirror image of “Little Green Footballs”.

–MSK*

October 22nd, 2007, 8:12 am

 

Akbar Palace said:

Alex states:

Because I complained that we are getting tired of Akbar Palace’s three accusations

1) Supporter of terror (or Hamas supporter)
2) Anti-Semitic
3) “you must have learned that at your local Damascus Madrasa”

Annie said:

Freedom of expression is all right but Josh allows anyone to run the show;I prefer rimeallaf.com . At least her forum comments section remains focussed.

I know it is difficult for you, Annie and others to hear expressions and thoughts that differ from your own, however, unfortunately, this forum is NOT the Arab media or the Syrian government website.

Becasue this is Professor Josh’s website, I’ll leave it to him to decide what can be posted and what cannot. If you think you’re “tired”, I get pretty sleepy too!

So yes, when I see doubled standards, I will point them out.

For example, when I see supporters of racist, anti-semitic terror organizations complain about Israel and the lack of peace, rest assured, I will point that out.

When I read posts of from people complaining about the lack of freedom and democracy in Israel for every Israeli citizen, I will point the finger at them.

And when I read about the right of Arab self-defence, I will remind the readers here that Israel has that same right. I will also remind the participants here that Israel has successfully made peace with several Arab and Muslim countries.

October 22nd, 2007, 10:48 am

 

IsraeliGuy said:

Israel’s Olmert to meet Turkish PM in London
http://www.reuters.com/article/featuredCrisis/idUSL2273648

October 22nd, 2007, 11:02 am

 

Alex said:

MSK,

I understand. It is obvious that our discussions here tend to go downhill in the presence of one-dimensional people like AIG (Mr. Democracy) and before him our Lebanese friends G and Gibran that come here to insist in every single comment that the world will be a much better place if only we Syrians can overthrow our current leadership (the undemocratic thugs and murderers who are making the Syrian people depressed).

Because I am taking sides in these discussions (big time) I can not simply switch to “a moderator” and allow myself to kick my opponents out.

G and Gibran were eventually asked to stop posting here because they consistently used street language.

Of course Joshua reads the comments section. he receives an email every time a comment is posted. But he and I find value in some of these silly arguments. Read my reply to Annie below for example.

But at some point their usefulness expires and our arguments with AIG seem to be near this point.

Annie,

Let’s use AIG’s reaction to Damascus as an example of the kind of mentality that AIG represents. It is worth analyzing, because there are many Israelis who share his beliefs, values, and attitudes.

The problem is that AIG has only one message … and he does not know it but he also has a serious superiority complex.

So when I tried to tell you about the Readers’ choice award that Damascus got, it offended him that Tel Aviv or Jerusalem did not get the award… And the fact that all those European visitors of Damascus did not seem to notice the despicable scenes of regime murderers torturing and killing Syrian people in the street at every corner and making the lives of the rest of those Syrians who are not being killed miserable … this can not be true! … it must be the new hotels that poor ordinary Syrians can not afford to enjoy.

That created cognitive dissonance in his mind. Just like every time he read anything that contradicted with his strong views … that Israel is simply awesome … it can only be the best in every category that counts … from morality to military power

Cognitive Dissonance is a psychological term describing the uncomfortable tension that may result from having two conflicting thoughts at the same time, or from engaging in behavior that conflicts with one’s beliefs, or from experiencing apparently conflicting phenomena.

In simple terms, it can be the filtering of information that conflicts with what you already believe, in an effort to ignore that information and reinforce your beliefs.

And that is our problem with the George Bush world. We have people from Texas or from Israel … very well armed … convinced that they are God’s ambassadors for goodness on earth … fighting evil enemies … thinking that because their countries are “democracies” then they are automatically entitled to re-arrange the neighborhood to their liking.

And they are deft … blind … they don’t see the million Iraqis they killed (they are only doing it for the sake of Iraq)…. they rationalize their killing of 1400 Lebanese civilians (they are fighting the terrorists) … they brush aside the article about their Israeli soldiers killing a 4-year old just because they are bored! (at least Israel is a democracy and it allows the press to print these stories) …

I guess it is all the fault of the Syrian regime’s thugs.

October 22nd, 2007, 3:42 pm

 

Alex said:

MSK,

Let me give you some good news. Rime has been in Damascus for few months now… she will travel a bit but will be back to settle and work in Damascus for a while. I guess there is something in Damascus that London does not have : )

I love Rime .. because she can be a tough regime critic, but she is also realistic and balanced in her criticism… none of the dramatic theatrics of the “democracy fighters”.

October 22nd, 2007, 3:58 pm

 

Akbar Palace said:

MSK* points out:

SyriaComment has already lost most of those commenters who were interested in open, calm, fact&argument-based discussion of Syria-related issues.

Alex replies to MSK*:

And that is our problem with the George Bush world. We have people from Texas or from Israel … very well armed … convinced that they are God’s ambassadors for goodness on earth … fighting evil enemies …

The “George Bush world” has never remotely threatened to “wipe” a country “off the face of the earth”.

Iran, Saddam, and the charters of Hamas, Hezbollah, and the PLO still do.

And they are deft … blind … they don’t see the million Iraqis they killed (they are only doing it for the sake of Iraq)…. they rationalize their killing of 1400 Lebanese civilians (they are fighting the terrorists) …

Who are “they” Alex? Please show me what proof you have that “they” killed a “million Iraqis”.

No one has killed as nearly as many innocent Iraqis as Saddam Hussein. Either by war, chemical attack, purges of the opposition, or mass graves.

Please show us that these “1400 Lebanese civilians” were not combatants.

I know MSK* is interested in “fact based” discussion, so I think it would be important for you, Alex, to at least try to meet MSK*s important criteria.

From Alex’s favorite newspaper:

Israel views plot against PM with utmost severity

http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/915163.html

October 22nd, 2007, 4:01 pm

 

Alex said:

“The PLO” or Fatah is spying for Israel on Hamas and on Syria as we found out from the documents seized by Hamas at the Fatah security forces offices in Gaza. So please excuse me while I don’t worry too much that Mahmoud Abbas will really remove Israel from the map.

Saddam was foolish enough and strong enough to be a real threat to many of his neighbors. But after the Kuwait war he was severely weakened. So in year 2003, when your Neocon friends convinced George Bush to take revenge from Saddam, there was no threat… they had to fabricated the WMD story to convince congress that Saddam was a threat to Israel.

Thanks to Syrian pressure and advise (in part) Hamas practically accepted Israel… when Israel is ready to respect UN resolutions and go back to the 1967 borders, Hamas will accept Israel for the next 50 years … I think we can take a chance that Hamas, and he whole Middle East will not be the same after 50 years of good relations between Israel and the Arabs.

Iran … you have a president who can not call the shots who is making a lot of noises … you should know by now that when your enemes really want to attrack you … they keep it secret. Like Syria did in 1973 when they tried to recover their occupied Golan Heights.

Ahmadinejad is trying to irritate you enough until you make the mistake of initiating a war against his country that you will lose.

Your country tried the same with Syria many times … attacking Syrian “targets” hoping that Syria will be stupid enough to start a war against Israel that it can not win.

And this is why today, the wiser ones are the Syrians … not your Israelis and Neocons… those are the real threat to humanity.

I will not bother answer your question about the million Iraqis dead because of sanctions and the unnecessary WMD second Iraq war.

I did not even mention the million of Iraqi refugees that Syria is hosting, educating for free, and providing medical care for.

October 22nd, 2007, 4:50 pm

 

AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Syrian,

Things are definitely not getting better, perhaps worse, but judge for yourself: http://www.rsf.org/article.php3?id_article=24025

I am not calling for a violent revolt. What would happen if many Syrians acted like your father? Is Asad gong to jail an entire nation? How about the Syrians not paying taxes and the expats not sending money until Asad compromises? And there are many more non-violent moves that can be pursued. As things stand, whatever Asad dishes out, is accepted quietly. In fact Alex congratulates Bashar for his regional politics of supporting Hizballah and hosting Hamas and will not even acknowledge that he is a dictator.

As for the Golan, you misstate my position. Yes, it should be returned to Syria after democracy is established there, but as a gesture of good-will and not because it belongs to Syria. The totality of evidence about the 6 day war shows that Russia, Egypt and Syria were the instigators and aggressors should pay a price if they choose war as an option. In addition, I abide by Israeli law which states that the Golan is part of Israel.

I’m glad that we at least agree that this is not what is stopping Syria from democratization.

Please read Ausamma’s posts on this thread to understand the traitor issue. Alex has never bothered to address them.

October 22nd, 2007, 4:59 pm

 

idaf said:

On the Iraqi refugees in Syria,

According to an Iraqi media source, Syria has again decided to revoke the visa requirement for Iraqis and replace it with an entry fee of 50 USD per person. I think it would be a good idea as I’m sure that hundreds of desperate Iraqis (out of the 20,000 Iraqis entering Syria daily) are illegally paying bribes and traffickers to smuggle them into Syria. This way their entry would be legal and it will generate some sort of compensation for the 1.6 Billion USD that Syria is forced to pay annually for hosting the 1.8 million Iraqis (according to the latest figures from the Syrian minister of interior)

A month ago, after the Syrian government announced that a visa would be required right after the month of Ramadan, the number of Iraqis queuing on the border to enter Syria during Ramadan increased 10 folds up to 20,000 persons daily.

Also, read this story of an Iraqi blogger’s comparison between “oppressed” Damascus and “liberated” Baghdad:
Monday, October 22, 2007

Syria is a beautiful country- at least I think it is. I say “I think” because while I perceive it to be beautiful, I sometimes wonder if I mistake safety, security and normalcy for ‘beauty’. In so many ways, Damascus is like Baghdad before the war- bustling streets, occasional traffic jams, markets seemingly always full of shoppers… And in so many ways it’s different. The buildings are higher, the streets are generally narrower and there’s a mountain, Qasiyoun, that looms in the distance.

The mountain distracts me, as it does many Iraqis- especially those from Baghdad. Northern Iraq is full of mountains, but the rest of Iraq is quite flat. At night, Qasiyoun blends into the black sky and the only indication of its presence is a multitude of little, glimmering spots of light- houses and restaurants built right up there on the mountain. Every time I take a picture, I try to work Qasiyoun into it- I try to position the person so that Qasiyoun is in the background.

The first weeks here were something of a cultural shock. It has taken me these last three months to work away certain habits I’d acquired in Iraq after the war. It’s funny how you learn to act a certain way and don’t even know you’re doing strange things- like avoiding people’s eyes in the street or crazily murmuring prayers to yourself when stuck in traffic. It took me at least three weeks to teach myself to walk properly again- with head lifted, not constantly looking behind me.

It is estimated that there are at least 1.5 million Iraqis in Syria today. I believe it. Walking down the streets of Damascus, you can hear the Iraqi accent everywhere. There are areas like Geramana and Qudsiya that are packed full of Iraqi refugees. Syrians are few and far between in these areas. Even the public schools in the areas are full of Iraqi children. A cousin of mine is now attending a school in Qudsiya and his class is composed of 26 Iraqi children, and 5 Syrian children. It’s beyond belief sometimes. Most of the families have nothing to live on beyond their savings which are quickly being depleted with rent and the costs of living.

Within a month of our being here, we began hearing talk about Syria requiring visas from Iraqis, like most other countries. Apparently, our esteemed puppets in power met with Syrian and Jordanian authorities and decided they wanted to take away the last two safe havens remaining for Iraqis- Damascus and Amman. The talk began in late August and was only talk until recently- early October. Iraqis entering Syria now need a visa from the Syrian consulate or embassy in the country they are currently in. In the case of Iraqis still in Iraq, it is said that an approval from the Ministry of Interior is also required (which kind of makes it difficult for people running away from militias OF the Ministry of Interior…). Today, there’s talk of a possible fifty dollar visa at the border.

Iraqis who entered Syria before the visa was implemented were getting a one month visitation visa at the border. As soon as that month was over, you could take your passport and visit the local immigration bureau. If you were lucky, they would give you an additional month or two. When talk about visas from the Syrian embassy began, they stopped giving an extension on the initial border visa. We, as a family, had a brilliant idea. Before the commotion of visas began, and before we started needing a renewal, we decided to go to one of the border crossings, cross into Iraq, and come back into Syria- everyone was doing it. It would buy us some time- at least 2 months.

We chose a hot day in early September and drove the six hours to Kameshli, a border town in northern Syria. My aunt and her son came with us- they also needed an extension on their visa. There is a border crossing in Kameshli called Yaarubiya. It’s one of the simpler crossings because the Iraqi and Syrian borders are only a matter of several meters. You walk out of Syrian territory and then walk into Iraqi territory- simple and safe.

When we got to the Yaarubiya border patrol, it hit us that thousands of Iraqis had had our brilliant idea simultaneously- the lines to the border patrol office were endless. Hundreds of Iraqis stood in a long line waiting to have their passports stamped with an exit visa. We joined the line of people and waited. And waited. And waited…

It took four hours to leave the Syrian border after which came the lines of the Iraqi border post. Those were even longer. We joined one of the lines of weary, impatient Iraqis. “It’s looking like a gasoline line…” My younger cousin joked. That was the beginning of another four hours of waiting under the sun, taking baby steps, moving forward ever so slowly. The line kept getting longer. At one point, we could see neither the beginning of the line, where passports were being stamped to enter Iraq, nor the end. Running up and down the line were little boys selling glasses of water, chewing gum and cigarettes. My aunt caught one of them by the arm as he zipped past us, “How many people are in front of us?” He whistled and took a few steps back to assess the situation, “A hundred! A thousand!”. He was almost gleeful as he ran off to make business.

I had such mixed feelings standing in that line. I was caught between a feeling of yearning, a certain homesickness that sometimes catches me at the oddest moments, and a heavy feeling of dread. What if they didn’t agree to let us out again? It wasn’t really possible, but what if it happened? What if this was the last time I’d see the Iraqi border? What if we were no longer allowed to enter Iraq for some reason? What if we were never allowed to leave?

We spent the four hours standing, crouching, sitting and leaning in the line. The sun beat down on everyone equally- Sunnis, Shia and Kurds alike. E. tried to convince the aunt to faint so it would speed the process up for the family, but she just gave us a withering look and stood straighter. People just stood there, chatting, cursing or silent. It was yet another gathering of Iraqis – the perfect opportunity to swap sad stories and ask about distant relations or acquaintances.

We met two families we knew while waiting for our turn. We greeted each other like long lost friends and exchanged phone numbers and addresses in Damascus, promising to visit. I noticed the 23-year-old son, K., from one of the families was missing. I beat down my curiosity and refused to ask where he was. The mother was looking older than I remembered and the father looked constantly lost in thought, or maybe it was grief. I didn’t want to know if K. was dead or alive. I’d just have to believe he was alive and thriving somewhere, not worrying about borders or visas. Ignorance really is bliss sometimes…

Back at the Syrian border, we waited in a large group, tired and hungry, having handed over our passports for a stamp. The Syrian immigration man sifting through dozens of passports called out names and looked at faces as he handed over the passports patiently, “Stand back please- stand back”. There was a general cry towards the back of the crowded hall where we were standing as someone collapsed- as they lifted him I recognized an old man who was there with his family being chaperoned by his sons, leaning on a walking stick.

By the time we had reentered the Syrian border and were headed back to the cab ready to take us into Kameshli, I had resigned myself to the fact that we were refugees. I read about refugees on the Internet daily… in the newspapers… hear about them on TV. I hear about the estimated 1.5 million plus Iraqi refugees in Syria and shake my head, never really considering myself or my family as one of them. After all, refugees are people who sleep in tents and have no potable water or plumbing, right? Refugees carry their belongings in bags instead of suitcases and they don’t have cell phones or Internet access, right? Grasping my passport in my hand like my life depended on it, with two extra months in Syria stamped inside, it hit me how wrong I was. We were all refugees. I was suddenly a number. No matter how wealthy or educated or comfortable, a refugee is a refugee. A refugee is someone who isn’t really welcome in any country- including their own… especially their own.

We live in an apartment building where two other Iraqis are renting. The people in the floor above us are a Christian family from northern Iraq who got chased out of their village by Peshmerga and the family on our floor is a Kurdish family who lost their home in Baghdad to militias and were waiting for immigration to Sweden or Switzerland or some such European refugee haven.

The first evening we arrived, exhausted, dragging suitcases behind us, morale a little bit bruised, the Kurdish family sent over their representative – a 9 year old boy missing two front teeth, holding a lopsided cake, “We’re Abu Mohammed’s house- across from you- mama says if you need anything, just ask- this is our number. Abu Dalia’s family live upstairs, this is their number. We’re all Iraqi too… Welcome to the building.”

I cried that night because for the first time in a long time, so far away from home, I felt the unity that had been stolen from us in 2003.

October 22nd, 2007, 5:38 pm

 

Observer said:

This from the Guardian:
Israel shaken by troops’ tales of brutality against Palestinians
A psychologist blames assaults on civilians in the 1990s on soldiers’ bad training, boredom and poor supervision

Conal Urquhart in Jerusalem
Sunday October 21, 2007

Observer

A study by an Israeli psychologist into the violent behaviour of the country’s soldiers is provoking bitter controversy and has awakened urgent questions about the way the army conducts itself in the Gaza Strip and West Bank.
Nufar Yishai-Karin, a clinical psychologist at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem, interviewed 21 Israeli soldiers and heard confessions of frequent brutal assaults against Palestinians, aggravated by poor training and discipline. In her recently published report, co-authored by Professor Yoel Elizur, Yishai-Karin details a series of violent incidents, including the beating of a four-year-old boy by an officer.

The report, although dealing with the experience of soldiers in the 1990s, has triggered an impassioned debate in Israel, where it was published in an abbreviated form in the newspaper Haaretz last month. According to Yishai Karin: ‘At one point or another of their service, the majority of the interviewees enjoyed violence. They enjoyed the violence because it broke the routine and they liked the destruction and the chaos. They also enjoyed the feeling of power in the violence and the sense of danger.’

In the words of one soldier: ‘The truth? When there is chaos, I like it. That’s when I enjoy it. It’s like a drug. If I don’t go into Rafah, and if there isn’t some kind of riot once in some weeks, I go nuts.’

Another explained: ‘The most important thing is that it removes the burden of the law from you. You feel that you are the law. You are the law. You are the one who decides… As though from the moment you leave the place that is called Eretz Yisrael [the Land of Israel] and go through the Erez checkpoint into the Gaza Strip, you are the law. You are God.’

The soldiers described dozens of incidents of extreme violence. One recalled an incident when a Palestinian was shot for no reason and left on the street. ‘We were in a weapons carrier when this guy, around 25, passed by in the street and, just like that, for no reason – he didn’t throw a stone, did nothing – bang, a bullet in the stomach, he shot him in the stomach and the guy is dying on the pavement and we keep going, apathetic. No one gave him a second look,’ he said.

The soldiers developed a mentality in which they would use physical violence to deter Palestinians from abusing them. One described beating women. ‘With women I have no problem. With women, one threw a clog at me and I kicked her here [pointing to the crotch], I broke everything there. She can’t have children. Next time she won’t throw clogs at me. When one of them [a woman] spat at me, I gave her the rifle butt in the face. She doesn’t have what to spit with any more.’

Yishai-Karin found that the soldiers were exposed to violence against Palestinians from as early as their first weeks of basic training. On one occasion, the soldiers were escorting some arrested Palestinians. The arrested men were made to sit on the floor of the bus. They had been taken from their beds and were barely clothed, even though the temperature was below zero. The new recruits trampled on the Palestinians and then proceeded to beat them for the whole of the journey. They opened the bus windows and poured water on the arrested men.

The disclosure of the report in the Israeli media has occasioned a remarkable response. In letters responding to the recollections, writers have focused on both the present and past experience of Israeli soldiers to ask troubling questions that have probed the legitimacy of the actions of the Israeli Defence Forces.

The study and the reactions to it have marked a sharp change in the way Israelis regard their period of military service – particularly in the occupied territories – which has been reflected in the increasing levels of conscientious objection and draft-dodging.

The debate has contrasted sharply with an Israeli army where new recruits are taught that they are joining ‘the most ethical army in the world’ – a refrain that is echoed throughout Israeli society. In its doctrine, published on its website, the Israeli army emphasises human dignity. ‘The Israeli army and its soldiers are obligated to protect human dignity. Every human being is of value regardless of his or her origin, religion, nationality, gender, status or position.’

However, the Israeli army, like other armies, has found it difficult to maintain these values beyond the classroom. The first intifada, which began in 1987, before the wave of suicide bombings, was markedly different to the violence of the second intifada, and its main events were popular demonstrations with stone-throwing.

Yishai-Karin, in an interview with Haaretz, described how her research came out of her own experience as a soldier at an army base in Rafah in the Gaza Strip. She interviewed 18 ordinary soldiers and three officers whom she had served with in Gaza. The soldiers described how the violence was encouraged by some commanders. One soldier recalled: ‘After two months in Rafah, a [new] commanding officer arrived… So we do a first patrol with him. It’s 6am, Rafah is under curfew, there isn’t so much as a dog in the streets. Only a little boy of four playing in the sand. He is building a castle in his yard. He [the officer] suddenly starts running and we all run with him. He was from the combat engineers.

‘He grabbed the boy. I am a degenerate if I am not telling you the truth. He broke his hand here at the wrist, broke his leg here. And started to stomp on his stomach, three times, and left. We are all there, jaws dropping, looking at him in shock…

‘The next day I go out with him on another patrol, and the soldiers are already starting to do the same thing.”

Yishai-Karin concluded that the main reason for the soldiers’ violence was a lack of training. She found that the soldiers did not know what was expected of them and therefore were free to develop their own way of behaviour. The longer a unit was left in the field, the more violent it became. The Israeli soldiers, she concluded, had a level of violence which is universal across all nations and cultures. If they are allowed to operate in difficult circumstances, such as in Gaza and the West Bank, without training and proper supervision, the violence is bound to come out.

A spokeswoman for the Israeli army said that, if a soldier deviates from the army’s norms, they could be investigated by the military police or face criminal investigation.

She said: ‘It should be noted that since the events described in Nufar Yishai-Karin’s research the number of ethical violations by IDF soldiers involving the Palestinian population has consistently dropped. This trend has continued in the last few years.’

Guardian Unlimited © Guardian News and Media Limited 2007

October 22nd, 2007, 5:39 pm

 

AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Alex,

So now you have decided to not allow me to post?
What happened to your freedom of speech stance?

October 22nd, 2007, 6:00 pm

 

Alex said:

Apologies to SimoHurtta and AIG … It seems the SPAM filter has been holding all their recent comments. I found and released AIG’s, but Sim … his comments are all lost (they were from yesterday).

If anyone of you does not see his comment, please do not assume anyone here deleted them. We rarely rarely do that, usually if bad language is used.

Send me an email [info at creativesyria.com] and I will release the comment from the anti spam folder.

October 22nd, 2007, 6:21 pm

 

abraham said:

Mr. Akbar Pal-Ass, the braying mule, got loose from the back 40 again and had this to say:

The “George Bush world” has never remotely threatened to “wipe” a country “off the face of the earth”.

No, he just goes ahead and wipes them off the face of the Earth. Have you noticed that Iraq has basically been reduced to 15th century tribal badlands?

I’m sorry, I try to refrain from ad hominem attacks, but you’re just a [deleted by admin] who has nothing useful to contribute to this or possibly any other discussion, especially where it concerns the Middle East.

You are a right-wing Republican neoconservative sectarian hack who doesn’t understand the first thing about political analysis, much less geography and history.

You’re a [deleted by admin] … and an obnoxious …

Notes: Dear Abraham … please continue to control your emotions.

October 22nd, 2007, 6:21 pm

 

AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Abraham,

And you are giving all bloggers a bad name by posing as an Israeli in previous threads. Have you no shame?

October 22nd, 2007, 6:39 pm

 

t_desco said:

William M. Arkin:

“But, it’s hard to believe that Syria, possibly with the help of North Korea, is stupid enough to think it could build a nuclear reactor and get away with it.”

What Did Israel Bomb?
Washington Post

Indeed. I imagine that it would be extremely difficult to hide a nuclear reactor. For example, where should all the thermal energy go?
And why put your scarce ressources into a project that would be bombed anyway?

October 22nd, 2007, 8:14 pm

 

Jamal said:

ALEX, MSK is right in pleading for some cutback on all the long articles posted here.

It’s now reached ridiculous levels.

Observer above has reposted a long article on the Israeli army that you yourself already posted in this discussion thread and that I had earlier given a link to.

OBSERVER if you are going to swamp this discussion forum please have the manners and commonsense to read what others have posted.

October 22nd, 2007, 8:44 pm

 

Enlightened said:

Following on From Josh’s last post about the Syrian jews in New York i stumbled on this site;

The Jews of Lebanon; For those of Arab and Jewish backrounds Enlighten yourself silly! Here is the link

http://thejewsoflebanon.org/me/index.php

October 23rd, 2007, 2:00 am

 

Syrian said:

AIG,
You cannot introduce a rankings that uses cross-section data to compare the situation in one country today to what it was 30 years ago.
Do you understand why a single man with a single gun can stop a 1000 people without guns from attacking him? By the way, the expats do not send money to support the regime; rather, they do it to help family members who are in need. Your suggestion amounts to Syrians imposing sanctions on their own families!! And you are deeply misinformed if you think Syrians pay taxes.

I would like to thank you for your generous gesture of good will of giving us a piece of Israel as a present for achieving democracy. How patronizing can you be, really? According to your logic, if Syria was a democracy, like Israel, then we can pass a law to annex Jordan and it would be acceptable since it’s Syrian law (and don’t give me that totality of evidence crap, we can go back and forth on that and cite many sources for each of our positions.)
Are you aware that most Syrians support the regional politics of the regime, which is why they are the regional politics. Dictatorships are not immune to popular sentiments as you may seem to believe.

Now, at the risk of violating the new rules I will say this: Syria is an oppressive society, but there is not a single place in Syria where the government keeps 1.5 million prisoners. So how about you turn your attention to dismantling the massive prison your government created in Gaza and the West Bank and when you fix your own house, come back and teach us how to fix ours.

October 23rd, 2007, 2:00 am

 

Enlightened said:

Article By Barry Rubin

Pushback or Progress? Arab Regimes response to democracy’s Challenge.

Download and read the article Rubin is a good writer and analyst.

here is the Link;

http://www.washingtoninstitute.org/templateC04.php?CID=282

It might provide some insight for those against democracy!

October 23rd, 2007, 2:21 am

 

Akbar Palace said:

Abraham said:

No, he [George Bush] just goes ahead and wipes them off the face of the Earth. Have you noticed that Iraq has basically been reduced to 15th century tribal badlands?

Yes, if it wasn’t for the neocons, George Bush, and your vivid imagination, the world would be a Utopian Paradise.

http://www.usaid.gov/iraq/legacyofterror.html

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/middle_east/3738368.stm

http://www.globalsecurity.org/wmd/library/news/iraq/2003/07/iraq-030707-rfel-163318.htm

http://www.iraqbodycount.org/

http://www.cnn.com/2005/WORLD/meast/06/30/iraq.main/

http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2006/11/09/ap/world/mainD8L9N62O1.shtml

http://www.usatoday.com/news/world/iraq/2007-09-26-insurgents_N.htm

October 23rd, 2007, 3:06 am

 

why-discuss said:

AIG
Yes, it should be returned to Syria after democracy is established there, but as a gesture of good-will and not because it belongs to Syria.

Your comments are becoming extremely boring as you keep repeating that Syria should have a democracy and Israel will be happy and will reward Syria, like God, with the Golan. We just don’t give a damn about Israel being happy, it is the least of Syria’s worry and certainly the least of my worry. I tend to prefer to make Israel unhappy and thank God there are many things these days that are making Israel unconfortable and your comments seem to show that they are having some effects: you are loosing your common sense…

October 23rd, 2007, 3:11 am

 

norman said:

AIG uses democracy to avoid peace ,Ha mas won a fair election only to see their kids being starved , deeds are more important than words and what Israel did to the Palestinians making it clear that the only language Israel understand is force and until Syria is ready for a long term war Israel will continue to steal Arab lands and rights .

October 23rd, 2007, 3:35 am

 

Bashmann said:

Alex,

I tried posting this yesterday but I could not. Hope this one goes through.

Oh boy, judging from your emotional response, I think I hit a raw nerve. But let me clarify where I’m coming from;

This is the HEART of the issue we are discussing. You do not dare to say Bashar is a dictator and his father before him was a dictator, and you eclipse this important fact and cover it with pseudo-patriotism regarding the Golan issue.

AIG might be our enemy now, but I have a lot of respect to what he stands for and here is why;
Unlike us, he lives in a country where he is FREE to say what is on his mind without any fear from a security agency that might knock on his door in the middle of the night and ask him to come with them for five minutes only to disappear without a hint of his where-about for many years. He defends his country out and admits the mistakes of his leaders and calls it as he sees it without an ounce of hesitation because he knows reprisal for his rights to free speech is against his country’s constitution. He is trying hard to engage us in a straight forward debate about the wisdom of giving the Golan back to Syria at this time when the regime in Syria seem to speak of peace while it hosts and support subversive elements to that peace such as HA and Hamas. A legitimate concern to any Israeli citizen. Yet you simply dismiss his argument as a ploy and an excuse to not return the Golan. I have not heard a single argument from you to refute his straight reasoning.

Obviously, you and I have different views as to the problems of our beloved Syria.
I chose to start with constructive self-criticism while you still live in denial and here is why;
While you and I live happily in the freedom that the West have afforded us, our brothers, sisters, sons, daughters, fathers, and mothers have been totally left handicapped when it comes to political freedom and participation in the affairs of their country. They have been psychologically terrorized to speak up against the Assad family sole hold on power. They see the inequities and injustice in their society daily yet they have been broken beyond repair to speak up and make their voice count. All of this is for fear of being arrested or worst convicted of being an enemy agent of a foreign country or “spreading rumors which jeopardize the security of the state” a law that can get you minimum 5 to 12 years in prison. Have you been reading the latest Human Rights Watch Groups reports lately. I’ll gladly post some of those on this forum for your review.

When I said, “This takes courage and honesty on our part which we Syrians can’t seem to muster yet.” I’m simply stating a fact to which neither you or Ausamma can refute. There is a self-inflicted hypocrisy that we Syrians have learned well to live with. Now here is why I said this as it reminds me of a quote from a brave and honest founder of the United States of America, he is none other than Thomas Paine in his wonderful “Common Sense” paper he writes;

“A long habit of not thinking a thing wrong, gives it a superficial appearance of being right, and raises at first a formidable outcry in defense of custom.”

Nothing can describe your staunch support for Bashar better than this.

Yes my dear Alex, we need to be honest and courageous in our dissention and say that right is right and wrong is wrong. That is what is missing from all this, honesty to say the things on every Syrian mind, that the whole regime is corrupt and lead by a dictator who throws people in jail for merely saying what is on their mind. Anwar Albuni, Michelle Kilo, and others. If you claim to be a true patriot, and I don’t doubt that you are, then you should speak for those prisoners of conscience in Syrian prisons. Well known writers the likes of Patrick Seal who is known as a Syrian regime sympathizer, was courageous enough to even send a letter to the young dictator and tell him this in a civil manner. He might have not uttered the word “dictator” but the letter says enough for any respectable president to understand its point. Read his letter which he wrote back in May of this year regarding those outrageous emergency court verdicts in Syria convicting courageous people of conscience to years in prison.

You simply can not call me a traitor because I’m working with a clear conscience and saying the things that should be said and done. Before we can liberate our occupied land that we all care so much about, we must put our house in order. Syria has been under an authoritarian rule for over 40 years and you come here and tell me there are more urgent priorities!!! What is more urgent than the freedom of our people?

You can not call my stands “dubious” simply because I’m clear and direct. I know where our priority as a nation should be and will not suck up to a corrupt government led by a dictator. There is no duplicity is such a stand.

Therefore, yes I’m friendly to AIG not because I know him personally, because he is making more sense than most of the other regime apologists on this forum.

Cheers.

October 23rd, 2007, 3:36 am

 

Enlightened said:

Bashman:

Well succintly put! ( Sorry for interceding on the Democracy argument here). Too often we are deluded to accepting the status quo, accepting the futility of un representative regimes, and having to accept noxious arguments from regimes that do nothing but bring misery to our people. Yes Bashman if you are a traitor, then i willingly stand in your corner.

Lets look at all the regimes, in the ME , they are all un representative swill. Corrupt both morally and financially. Sixty years of conflict with Israel has got us no where, these leaders have failed us, and prolonged the conflict, a conflict that can be settled in the space of months! Why?

It the conflict reminds me of Orwells 1984! Perpetual conflict to maintain control over the populace. Yes the Arab house is in a shambles, no amount of denial can superficially gloss over this fact! Change starts from within, if we do not fix our own house how can we tell others to fix theirs?

October 23rd, 2007, 4:16 am

 

why-discuss said:

Bashman

Thanks for the preaching… Instead of defending AIG with his totally absurd obsession of elimating the ‘evil’ Bashar and welcome the ‘good’ americans, please look how your own words applie very well:

While you and I live happily in the freedom that the West have afforded us, our brothers, sisters, sons, daughters, fathers, and mothers have been totally left handicapped when it comes to political freedom and participation in the affairs of their country This applies very well to the palestinians who live in refugee camps since 1948 and who don’t even have a country because a “free and democratic” country has decided that because of religious reasons, these people should be kicked out and dumped in camps. Before giving lesson of the greatness of free expression, please let Israel look at its own sins and the destruction they have called physically and psychologically. If a democracy has to emerge by killing people, expelling innocents form theit home, no thank you! Go on, express yourself freely, no one will listen if you continue to behave like primitives while claiming big ideals.

October 23rd, 2007, 4:51 am

 

why-discuss said:

Bashman

Thanks for the preaching.
Instead of defending AIG with his totally absurd obsession of elimating the ‘evil’ Bashar and welcome the ‘good’ americans, please look how your own words applie very well:

While you and I live happily in the freedom that the West have afforded us, our brothers, sisters, sons, daughters, fathers, and mothers have been totally left handicapped when it comes to political freedom and participation in the affairs of their country This applies very well to the palestinians who live in refugee camps since 1948 and who don’t even have a country because a “free and democratic” country has decided that because of religious reasons, these people should be kicked out and dumped in camps. Before giving lesson of the greatness of free expression, please let Israel look at its own sins and the destruction they have called physically and psychologically. If a democracy has to emerge by killing people, expelling innocents form theit home, no thank you! Go on, express yourself freely, no one will listen if you continue to behave like primitives while claiming big ideals.

October 23rd, 2007, 4:53 am

 

Bashmann said:

Enlightened,

Thanks for the kind words. Cheers.

Here is something for Alex to go over;

Human Rights Watch Issues Report on Syria

The full report can be viewed on the Human Rights Watch website at http://hrw.org/reports/2007/syria1007/

October 23rd, 2007, 4:55 am

 

MSK said:

Alex,

I was not only referring to the “cousins” here, but also to many (if not most) of the Syrians in the comment section who have successfully trampled any meaningful attempts at conversation, discussion, and exchange of opinion on Syria’s issues to death with their (your?) “Yes, Syria has problems & the regime is bad, but everyone else is either doing the same (thus Syria has also the right to do it) or is even worse (making Syria the one-eyed king among the otherwise blind).”

And honestly, what some Israelis think about Syria isn’t as important as what Syrians think about Syria. And from what I’ve seen here and experienced in “real life”, I have to say that I’m swaying to agree with Bashmann.

–MSK*

PS: Glad to hear that Rime is spending an extended period of time in Damascus. I just hope she doesn’t have to spend too much time with the likes of Buthaina Sha’baan. 😉

October 23rd, 2007, 6:40 am

 

Alex said:

Bashman .. I don’t know where to start .. maybe I can answer this way:

democracy … blah blah … dictator .. blah blah … freedom to our people … blah blah .. our brave prisoners … blah blah …

You say it, Khaddam says exactly the same thing, the Israelis who care about Syria on this forum say the same thing … Ghadry says it … President Bush says it … Richard Pearl … Jumblatt also wants nothing more than freedom to us poor Syrians …

So forgive me if I am sick of these generic words.

Forgive me if I believe in a different approach and a different time table to all those good things that you are supporting.

Courage, my friend is not to sit behind your computer’s screen (or LCD) and type an impressive quote from a book written in 1776 from a land far from Syria.

And …courage, when it is not moderated by prudence … becomes foolishness.

Or … Let me show you a simple quote, by another great American, Theodore Roosevelt:

Keep your eyes on the stars, and your feet on the ground.

Don’t worry about me. My eyes are on the stars.

Can we switch back to discussing real news?

Maybe we can one day impress MSK enough to get him to participate here again.

October 23rd, 2007, 7:45 am

 

Alex said:

My friend MSK,

we have an issue here: why are you allowed to express your opinion … {turning Syria into a democracy is the solution to our problems on earth}, but when we (I) express our (my) opinion {it is more complex than that}, …then we are (I am) given two options

1) to agree with you
2) to watch you leaving the discussion after concluding that we do not know how to participate in a civilized debate.

Did anyone call you bad names? .. did anyone make you feel not welcome here?

Please tell me how I can argue in favor of my opinion without disappointing you.

October 23rd, 2007, 7:54 am

 

t_desco said:

I find it regrettable that AIG does not want to share his profound knowledge of non-fissionable plutonium with us.

Some reports have suggested that the alleged Syrian nuclear project would include (or even consist solely of) a reprocessing facility to extract weapons-grade plutonium from spent fuel.

It seems that such a facility, like a nuclear reactor, would be extremely difficult to conceal:

“The plutonium must be extracted chemically in a reprocessing plant. Reprocessing is a complicated process involving the handling of highly radioactive materials and must be done by robots or by humans using remote manipulating equipment. At some stages of the process simple glove boxes with lead glass windows suffice. Reprocessing is intrinsically dangerous because of the use of hot acids in which plutonium and intensely radioactive short-lived fission products are dissolved. Some observers have, however, suggested that the safety measures could be relaxed to the extent that the proliferator deems his technicians to be “expendable.” Disposal of the high-level waste from reprocessing is difficult. Any reprocessing facility requires large quantities of concrete for shielding and will vent radioactive gases (Iodine-131, for example) to the atmosphere.”
FAS: Plutonium Production

(my emphasis)

In other news:

Le Congrès américain va réactiver le « Syria Accountability Act »

À l’initiative d’une membre du Congrès américain, la républicaine Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, on s’attend à ce que la Commission des affaires étrangères de la Chambre des représentants vote aujourd’hui mardi une réactivation du « Syria Accountability Act » dont la première version avait été ratifiée par le président George Bush en 2003.
Il s’agissait à l’époque d’une condamnation de l’occupation du Liban par la Syrie, pays également dénoncé pour d’autres actes illégaux. Une série de sanctions ont été prises à son encontre.
La nouvelle décision, portant la référence H.R 2332, se nomme « The Syria Accountability and Liberation Act ».
Dans les grandes lignes, elle stipule les points suivants :
– Renforcer les sanctions américaines contre le gouvernement syrien et l’imposition de sanctions contre ceux qui, indirectement, financent des initiatives dangereuses de la Syrie, par le biais d’investissements de plus de 5 millions dans le secteur syrien de l’énergie.
– Cibler le programme d’armement en imposant de nouvelles sanctions contre les personnes et les pays qui transfèrent ou retransfèrent marchandises et technologies qui peuvent aider la Syrie à produire des armes chimiques, biologiques, radiologiques et nucléaires et qui l’aident à les livrer.
– Renforcer, à travers des forums, les efforts américains pour divulguer les politiques menaçantes de la Syrie.
– Établir un programme pour conforter les avocats de la démocratie et des droits de l’homme en Syrie, afin qu’il y ait un gouvernement qui ne soit pas une menace pour les États-Unis, pour ses intérêts ou pour ses alliés.
Rappelons qu’à l’origine, le « Syrian Accountability Act » avait été initié par le général Michel Aoun, désireux de libérer le Liban du joug syrien et qui avait fait campagne pour l’adoption de cette décision.
L’Orient-Le Jour

October 23rd, 2007, 9:22 am

 

MSK said:

Dear Alex,

I never said “turning Syria into a democracy is the solution to our problems on earth.”

Remember the comment threads on Kurds in Syria & whether they are “traitors” or not? That’s a great example for how a discussion got killed.

Ditto with the (attempts at) debate on Bashar and whether or not he is a dictator, whether the Ba’th regime is structurally capable of reform or not, on Syria’s role in Lebanon (you keep saying that “Syria made mistakes” whereas many others would call them “crimes” etc.).

I know that, in the end, we may have to retreat to “we agree to disagree” positions, but I am not sure if that is particularly useful.

In any case, SC has lost a huge number of interesting & interested commenters, and the comment section degenerated into a group of bashers of anything/-one that is critical of Syria + a few Israelists. What’s the point of that?

–MSK*

October 23rd, 2007, 10:38 am

 

annie said:

Akbar, Ahmadinejad has been misquoted and you know it; he was speaking of the zionist regime.

Not all Jews agree with that regime

http://www.aloufok.net/article.php3?id_article=4227

October 23rd, 2007, 10:52 am

 

Akbar Palace said:

Three Cheers for Bashmann, Enlightened, and MSK*.

We’re getting somewhere.

Annie says:

Akbar, Ahmadinejad has been misquoted and you know it; he was speaking of the zionist regime.

Not all Jews agree with that regime.

Well, thanks Annie. You know how the Zionist-controlled media is these days. No wonder I misunderstood the Iranian president’s words.

I wonder what Saeb Erekat was referring to?:

Saeb Erekat, the chief Palestinian negotiator and member of the Palestinian Legislative Council, stated: “Palestinians recognise the right of the state of Israel to exist and I reject his comments. What we need to be talking about is adding the state of Palestine to the map, and not wiping Israel from the map.”[25][44]

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

And I wonder what the Zionist-controlled Al-Jazeera was referring to?:

http://english.aljazeera.net/English/archive/archive?ArchiveId=15816

Do us a favor Annie, let’s concentrate on eradicating “denial”. It really upsets Alex.

October 23rd, 2007, 11:22 am

 

swerv21 said:

you know there is something really interesting here. . . i’ve tried skimming through most of the comments on this post.
first, i’d like to congratulate some of the more energetic commentators on their tenacity and stamina. wow.

i think that the comments here could be indicative of a new, emerging order in the middle east. i think that, probably for the first time, israel (typified i think by the comments of the israeli’s on this site) has become truly comfortable with its role as regional hegemon and is openly seeking to influence the internal politics of its neighbors.

i guess one could argue that israel has been doing this for twenty years in lebanon, but im not sure that it has ever been this overt. in lebanon there was an occupation which might have been seen to provide some political cover. but the engagement here, if it tracks at all to the commentary above, could really be read as an attempt by israel to assume the very mantle of legitimacy that it seeks to deny to the assad regime. this would turn the last 60 years of middle east history on its head.

the nominally pro-syrian commentators seek to preserve the status quo, even at the cost of forestalling political development in syria, because to them, israel calling the shots would be the greatest of the two evils. its the age old problem or subverting indigenous people to foreign rule, from ireland to the phillipines. ‘me against my brother; me and my brother against my cousin; my brother, my cousin and i against the stranger’.

i think that the commentary gets to be so circular because it gets stuck in the same mud we’ve been wallowing in for the last two generations. if the israeli’s really want to become a regional leader (and why shouldn’t they want to?) they might try couching in a little bit less antagonizing terms. when the syrians hear critique of the regime, for better or worse, they are defensive.

instead of the emphasis on political reform, why wouldn’t israel talk about economic development and investment? oh and by the way, syria, if you wanted the investment that we would be more than happy to make in the region (provided that we are able to ensure good return) you will need to bring your economy and judicial sector (and, implicitly, political) into line with international norms?

and then, while your at it, talk about why a syrian work force is incredibly attractive from an investment perspective- strong family values, highly educated, more secular than their neighbors?

wouldn’t that serve a truly regional israeli agenda better than this rhetorical fixation on democracy?

October 23rd, 2007, 11:51 am

 

AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Bashmann, MSK, Enlightened,

Perhaps the way to move the discussion forward is to start discussing concrete steps and trying to speculate what the regime reaction would be and if they are worth it. Let me say upfront, that all of these steps would require sacrifice by the Syrians so without widespread support for them they won’t happen.

So thinking aloud:
1) Mass demonstrations by expats in front of Syrian embassies
2) Stopping sending money to Syria (yes, will hurt Syrians but is the price worth it?)
3) Mass demonstrations in Syria
4) Italian strike. (No one goes to work)

And so on. Any other methods? What do you think can work?

October 23rd, 2007, 12:12 pm

 

idaf said:

If war breaks out (with Syria)..

By Reuven Pedatzur
Haaretz

The next war with Syria, if there is one, will be different from every other war we have known. Granted, there might be tank battles on the Golan Heights, as in the past, but it is doubtful that the war will take place solely at the front, while the civilian rear stays out of it.

If, as expected, the fighting expands to include the home front, residents of Haifa, Hadera and Tel Aviv will be targets for the Syrian army’s rockets and missiles. Anyone who wants to imagine what is liable to happen in the streets of our cities if war breaks out with Syria and degenerates into mutual attacks on the civilian rear need not look far. The 4,000 rockets Hezbollah launched during the Second Lebanon War, which paralyzed the lives of some one million residents of the North, provide an example of an attack on Israel’s home front.

The Syrian army has about 1,000 ballistic missiles of the Scud B, C and D models, whose ranges are between 300 and 700 kilometers. These missiles can reach anyplace in Israel (the distance from the southern Golan Heights to Tel Aviv is some 150 kilometers). The Syrian missiles are armed with chemical warheads, and Syria is also thought to have experimented with biological weapons. To these must be added Syria’s SS-21 missiles, which have a shorter range (about 80 kilometers), but are much more accurate. The Ramat David airfield, for instance, is within range of these missiles. And, having learned a lesson from the Second Lebanon War, the Syrians have protected their missiles by putting them into concrete bunkers.

Even more problematic, from the Israel Defense Forces’ perspective, is the Syrian army’s store of rockets. Faced with thousands of rockets, both 220mm (whose range is about 70 kilometers) and 302mm (with a range of 90 kilometers), the IDF has no real answer – just as it had no answer to the thousands of rockets launched by Hezbollah. And to these must be added Hezbollah’s approximately 20,000 rockets, which the organization will almost certainly use if war breaks out: Cooperation between Syria and Hezbollah has grown even closer since the war.

The Israel Air Force will try to destroy the ballistic missiles and their launchers (the launchers number no more than a few dozen), but it will be powerless in the face of thousands of rockets.

Over the last decade, the Syrian army has gradually become less armored and less mechanized; it is more and more based on infantry, commando units and antitank weapons. The idea behind this structural change is that Syrian forces will wage a defensive war on the Golan Heights and thereby bleed the IDF. The plan is to let the IDF attack and then engage in “close combat,” during which they will wear out the attacking forces via numerous antitank missiles borne by infantry troops, including the advanced Metis and Kornet models.

In addition, the Syrian army has positioned tens of thousands of BM-21 rockets, which have a range of about 20 kilometers, at the front. These are liable to exact an extremely heavy price from the IDF.

In recent years, many villages, containing thousands of houses, have been built on the Syrian heights. If the IDF advances toward Damascus, it will have to fight in a built-up area. The residents will be evacuated as soon as the fighting begins, and they will be replaced by Syrian commandos, who will lie in wait for the IDF’s tanks and armored personnel carriers. Numerous irrigation channels, dug in order to water the local fields and orchards, will also constitute a barrier against the IDF’s tanks.

Therefore, every possible scenario for a war with Syria indicates that the price paid by the IDF, and almost certainly by the civilian rear as well, will be extremely high. Those who failed in a war against a guerrilla organization numbering only a few hundred fighters ought to be very cautious about going to war against a regular army that has learned the lessons of the Lebanon war and intends to exploit every Israeli weakness that it revealed.

October 23rd, 2007, 1:15 pm

 

Bashmann said:

Alex,

I’m sorry to see you belittling big ideals that throughout history have shown to be the one asset that people of all races or colors have fought and died for. Your pessimism is fatal to Syria and all Syrians.

I guess since I can not convince you of the wisdom of my views, here is an article that might throw some light about the importance of our debate on Freedom and Democracy. Note the reason the author sites for Syria’s stagnent economy.

Cheers.

********************

The Inward East

by Marcus Noland, Peterson Institute
and Howard Pack, Wharton School

Op-ed in Newsweek International
October 29, 2007

© Newsweek International

Talk of a Middle East economic renaissance is running strong, even wild. With oil running at $80 a barrel, and petro-states investing the windfall more wisely than in the past (that is, not in offshore bank accounts), pundits have begun to speak of a “transformational moment” in the region. Stock markets have been booming—Saudi Arabia’s is up 200 percent over the last five years, while Egypt’s has risen a whopping 1,700 percent—and investors from Europe and the United States have begun to take notice.

Now let’s look at the reality. The oil boom is real, but two-thirds of all Arabs live in countries without major oil exports. And outside of oil and tourism, the Arab world is in a state of long-term deglobalization, more isolated today than it was 20, 30, or 40 years ago. The region’s shares of world trade and investment have fallen by half in the past 25 years, and though it has risen more recently, that’s almost entirely due to oil. Its slice of global manufacturing exports, never high, has dropped to less than 1 percent. Technology royalty payments—which show how quickly a society adopts new inventions—have stagnated while growing rapidly elsewhere.

So talk of an Arab spring may be premature. The Middle East already has the world’s lowest employment rate, a staggering 47 percent of the adult population. To keep pace with an exploding population of young job-seekers, the region will have to create 55 million jobs in the next 13 years—or 70 million if it hopes to bring unemployment down to the global norm, according to the World Bank. Only by engaging in global trade can Arab governments hope to hit those targets and ensure their own stability.

The problem is that recent economic progress hasn’t translated into jobs. While Egypt jumped up 39 places in the World Bank ranking of the best nations in which to do business last year, it fell two places (from 106th to 108th) in the “employing workers” category, while Saudi Arabia and Syria fell even further. In Jordan, Kuwait, and the United Arab Emirates (UAE), foreigners, not locals, have secured most of the new jobs, and unemployment among nationals has actually increased over the past five years. Employment growth has also stagnated in populous countries such as Morocco and Algeria, encouraging emigration (much of it illegal) to Europe.

Manufacturing, which probably has the best potential to create jobs, is lagging. In the early 1960s, Egypt—the Arab world’s most populous country—exported manufactured goods at roughly the same per capita level as South Korea and Taiwan. Now they export more in three days than Egypt does all year. The Philippines exports 10 times as many manufactured goods as does Egypt, and last year its increase alone was more than Egypt’s total figure. Then there’s Thailand, which by itself exports more manufactured goods than the entire Arab world, despite having only about a fourth of the population. And while Saudi Arabia, the UAE, and other oil exporters have modestly increased exports by getting into petroleum refining, petrochemicals, and aluminum smelting of late, these are capital-intensive industries that do little to create jobs.

The weakness in manufacturing owes to a host of factors: poor technical skills due to decrepit university systems (no Arab school ranks among the world’s best), weak protection for intellectual property rights, and continued state dominance of industry. Together, these factors retard the creation or adoption of new technologies that could boost productivity. The Philippines alone now spends more on foreign technology than does the entire Arab world.

Worse, some of the progress is a mirage. Foreign direct investment (FDI) in Arab nations has surged nearly $30 billion in the past five years, but most of it is from Gulf states spending their oil windfalls. Thus the money hasn’t brought in new ideas or technology. Though Egypt saw FDI rise twelvefold between 2001 and 2006, to $6.1 billion, that is still over $3 billion less than Sweden, which has just one-ninth Egypt’s population.

These problems are often blamed on Arab culture—or on Islam. But neither Islam nor culture alone can explain the big differences between Arab nations. It takes three times as long to start a business in Saudi Arabia as it does in Morocco, or nearly three times as long to enforce a contract in Egypt as it does in Jordan. Some Arab countries have made progress, so why can’t others?

In fact, certain Arab governments are making impressive attempts to join the world economy. Dubai now aims to turn itself into the Singapore of the Middle East, a secure and efficient transportation hub and base for international corporations. Even Syria and Libya have climbed on the reform bus, hoping to boost growth and employment.

Of course, reforming intentions may not be enough in the Middle East. The conflicts in the Palestinian territories and Iraq and the risks of terrorism and assassinations will continue to discourage outsiders from investing in the region. (Our research shows that merely reducing the business costs associated with terrorism could boost foreign investment by 20 to 30 percent.) Repression stifles growth in places like Syria, where per capita income has grown only half a percent annually over the past four years. Yet the Arab dictatorships are brittle, and when they fall, the Islamists who might replace them could turn out to be effective reformers along the lines of the governing AK Party in Turkey.

There’s reason to think reform would be popular. A recent Zogby International poll in Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Morocco, Saudi Arabia, and the UAE showed strong support for governing business by Sharia, but a version of Sharia that would allow Muslim businesses to integrate into the global economy. Even Syria’s Muslim Brotherhood supports what its leader has called “the gradual and calm transformation of the public-sector economy to a free-market economy.”

If the region can figure out how to reconnect to the outside world, the Arab demographic explosion could turn into an asset. A number of East Asian countries have shown how large populations of young workers can fuel an economic boom if channeled in the right directions. The problem is that the time for reform is now, and no major Arab state is moving fast enough.

October 23rd, 2007, 3:03 pm

 

EHSANI2 said:

I am a little perplexed by the amount of time that people are willing to spend debating seemingly obvious matters.

Complaining about Syria’s undemocratic leadership is frankly rather boring. Discussing the country’s human rights record and the number of its political prisoners is a topic that has been beaten to death. Everyone with an elementary education knows that Syria is a police state run by a hereditary dictatorship. Why do we spend hours discussing the obvious? The fact that others in the region are equally undemocratic does not change the sorry position of Syria’s current state of affairs. Whether you are a king, an Emir or a President of a republic, political participation in the Middle East is non-existent.

That Syria is undemocratic and supports the region’s troublemakers is stating the obvious. That Syria is infected with corruption and is also obvious. That Syria has vastly under delivered on economic reforms is just as clear. Those that deny the above are in a state of denial.

But, mentioning this over and over does not do anyone any good. Do you think that Bashar and the leadership do not know it?

For almost all Arab regimes, introducing democracy and political reforms is akin to signing their death sentence.

Why would leaders with absolute control decide to share power and allow political participation by others unless they are forced to?

This is not a political science experiment. It is easy for us to sit in our offices and living rooms and criticize Bashar for his undemocratic ways. The young man is not running for a beauty or a popularity contest. His job is to stay in power and against all odds. Scores of people are after his seat. Do you think that he would respond by introducing democracy?

Let us state the obvious:

The leadership in Damascus will not risk losing power. They will do the absolute minimum required to hold on. Economic reforms will continue but in piecemeal fashion. Raising standards of living for the people was never a priority of dictators. It is a nice-to-have item and not a need-to-have one. Political reforms will not follow. One-party rule will not change. In 2014, we will be going through the same referendum process of this summer. Bashar will win again by a very similar percentage.

Barring an internal military coup or an absolute stunner from the Hariri court, nothing much will change in Syria for years to come.

October 23rd, 2007, 3:37 pm

 

SimoHurtta said:

Jerusalem Post book review

Feast your eyes on Aleppo

On the banks of the Quweiq River amid the dry plains of northwest Syria, the city of Aleppo has been home to a Jewish community for 3,000 years.

Aleppo, the second-largest city in Syria, has outlasted a long list of conquerors including the Amorites, Hittites, Romans, various Arab dynasties, Mongols, Mamelukes, Ottomans and French.
The city is known by many names: Haleb in Arabic, Alep in French, Beora by the Romans, though the Jews have always referred to it as Aram Soba – a name derived from Aram, son of Abraham’s half-brother Soba.

According to the Book of Samuel and Psalms, Aram Soba was part of the extended area of Israel.

October 23rd, 2007, 4:46 pm

 

Alex said:

Bashmann,

I think you are jealous from AIG. You want your own applied basic psychology analysis:

Here we go:

Your problem is:

Selective attention, selective retention.

You simply pick the parts from your opponents comments that you can distort and take them out of context, but you manage to not see the rest of the comment.

example?

you said:

“I’m sorry to see you belittling big ideals that throughout history have shown to be the one asset that people of all races or colors have fought and died for. Your pessimism is fatal to Syria and all Syrians.”

You decided to not see the obvious conclusion of my comment. Let me repeat it here and ask you to please read it and see if you really understood my position:

Let me show you a simple quote, by another great American, Theodore Roosevelt:

Keep your eyes on the stars, and your feet on the ground.

Don’t worry about me. My eyes are on the stars.

which means: I also want democracy and human rights (the stars) … but my feet are on the ground (I know it is not doable easily).

Bashmann … everyone says we want democracy and human right, and I say the same … but then? what have you done for Syria in practice?

October 23rd, 2007, 5:03 pm

 

Alex said:

lol! .. SimoHurtta .. I hope they don’t mean it. : )

October 23rd, 2007, 5:41 pm

 

Bashmann said:

Alex,

Please spare me the psychological analysis, I’ve read your comment/reply in full. I know exactly where you stand when it comes to Syrian politics.

But in case you forgot what you wrote above, here is an example;

“democracy … blah blah … dictator .. blah blah … freedom to our people … blah blah .. our brave prisoners … blah blah …”

Forgive me if I seem to miss the point, but a person who “Reach for the Stars” for those ideals do not speak so lightly of them. You are your worst enemy. You chose the comfort of living under what you seem to believe as a benevolent dictator than “Reaching for your stars”

I, on the other hand, have put my priority to change this regime by peaceful confrontation, and Civil disobedience and every other person I can convince to speak out and join me in this goal is a triumph for those ideals.

You are afraid of a change because you think it “Prudent”(your words not mine) to put it on the back-burner for the sake of stability over chaos, a line that the regime has been peddling for over 40 years. Hafez Assad threw anyone in jail or exile who thought contrary to this line of thinking and Bashar continues his father legacy.
Syria is now confronting most of its Arab neighbors, the international communities, Israel and most important of all, its own people by suppressing opposition groups that call for a change and throwing them in jail. These are the “balanced” (your words not mine) choices that Bashar Assad has made that you so staunchly support.

Unlike your complex and shaded political analysis, the matter is very simple for me.

I see political change today as the only salvation for our people because of the fatal danger that awaits them if the regime continues its current policies.
You see political change today as chaos and disaster to our people and choose to keep riding this train to its fatal and final station, another Iraq, or worst and all out war in ME.

Cheers.

October 23rd, 2007, 5:58 pm

 

Alex said:

AIG,

I released your comment from the SPAM filter. I released all the other comments. Lately all your comments are stuck there. I’m sorry about that but the only thing I can suggest is to send me an email to let me know when a comment does not appear.

As for the content of that message, I’m glad you suggested a more reasonable method to protest the current authoritarian system and corruption …etc.

I want to ask you something: Khaddam and other “opposition leaders” mentioned many times the past few years that they are planning such tactics and they are confident the Syrian people will overthrow the regime.

Why did the Syrian people not go for it?

Fear? … yes, in many cases.
Do not want to? … yes in most cases.

Not because they are all in love with the Baath party (they are not) but for different reasons.

Ehsani, as you can see, does not see things the way I usually do. He has been to Syria lately … ask him why most of the Syrian people are not interested in even Gandhi style protests.

MSK,

May I respectfully suggest that what really upset you that you lost most of your arguments to us “regime supporters”?

If you want us to lose an argument, we can try : )

Come on .. have some sense of humor. Look at t-desco, he is not finding us too repulsive.

October 23rd, 2007, 6:07 pm

 

idaf said:

Ehsani and Bashman,

Democracy is not the “end goal” by itself. If anybody thinks that it is then they have been brainwashed with the influx of rosy rhetoric prevalent in the media today.

Democracy is a great method of governance that may (or may not) lead to good governance. It may (or may not) lead to a strong country. It may (or may not) lead to economic prosperity. No guarantees whatsoever. Many examples in recent and not so recent history confirm both the potential positive and negative results.

Some benign autocratic government models have proved to be some of the most successful models in recent history. Look for example at Singapore and the UAE (Dubai). These countries are way farther than Syria from being democracies. However, they have achieved amazing results on the economic and social development levels by any standard. China is very far from being a democratic country but it is on its way to becoming the leading economy in the world (which means that social problems would be mostly solved as well).

This is not an endorsement of autocracy but a balanced view of the world. Democracy is a great goal to pursue in Syria that should be pursued in every possible peaceful way, but in no way it should be considered the end result. A romantic “democracy now” revolution would only weaken the country on the short run and leave it vulnerable to the plethora of external players itching to exploit any chance to push their interests that mostly conflict with Syria’s national interest. Social, legal and economic safety nets MUST be developed first.

You can tell that I do support Alex’s realistic view that we should gradually pursue democracy in Syria without any radical change. While I have no doubt that many would jump at such an argument with all different kinds of accusations, this would have little to change my views.

October 23rd, 2007, 6:11 pm

 

Alex said:

Bashmann,

I’m sorry if I sounded rude. But please try a bit harder on your part to understand my shaded political analysis. Because while the values that you and I stand for are indeed simple and obvious, getting there is not simple .. if it was, we would have been there already.

Your are assuming that the Syrian people need your leadership or mine. They don’t. There is this tendency from those of you who are democracy lovers to … lead the Syrian people .. to tell them what is good for them .. to show them the way.

Today, they watch LBC, CNN, Al-Arabiya … all of those channels tell them that the regime is bad … they even amplify the badness and make sound as if it is unique in the otherwise wonderful Middle East.

My question to you and AIG is:

How come the Syrian people, who have heard the Democracy thing a billion times the past few years … how come they did not want to follow George Bush’s leadership? … Khaddam’s? … Jumblatt’s …

Instead of criticizing “Alex” … why don’t you simply criticize the Syrian people! … call them cowards .. call them regime supporters … call them dubious …

The blah blah in my previous message meant: The Syrian people (including me) heard it a billion times already … we need to stop trying to lead the Syrian people … we need to stop trying to shove “democracy” down their throats.

October 23rd, 2007, 6:34 pm

 

EHSANI2 said:

Idaf,

When did I mention that democracy is an “end goal”? Of course moving to a democratic form of governance is no guarantee of tranquility. No credible person can argue that after 44 years of one-party rule, you can suddenly jump into democracy and assume that all will be rosy from day one. This is not the experience of societies who moved into this phase in history.

Alex,

Yes, I have been to Syria lately. You ask how is it that the Syrian people have not protested if things were so bad.

Let me answer your question with a question if I may?

Suppose that I found such people, What do you think they could do?
The way you ask the question implies that since no one seems to protest, they must be content and happy. I think that this a vest oversimplification.

In Syria, there is not a single meaningful forum for dissent. Frankly, unless you are part of the Japanese kamikaze squadron, you would be a fool to try.

October 23rd, 2007, 6:56 pm

 

Alex said:

Ehsani my friend,

Here is what I wrote to AIG above

Why did the Syrian people not go for it?

Fear? … yes, in many cases.
Do not want to? … yes in most cases.

So, I am already convinced that fear of the regime is definitely one good reason for the many Syrians who hate the present situation.

But … when you and others came back from Syria this year. The impression you all got was: The Syrian people are not too upset really. Compared to Iraq and Lebanon they like their regime for now.

I am saying that more than 50% of Syrians are not interested in changing the regime under the current regional conditions. Is this wrong in your opinion? (I know we do not have accurate sampling of the population)

October 23rd, 2007, 7:05 pm

 

EHSANI2 said:

I certainly did not detect any sign of visible and immediate discontent. The numbers could be anywhere. I have no way of knowing that. Of course the Iraq situation helps the case for the leadership. No sane person wants to see another Iraq in his country regardless of what his economic position is.

October 23rd, 2007, 7:16 pm

 

Alex said:

Thanks.

And would you say that the average Damascene goes out (restaurants and cafes) more often than the average New Yorker? : )

October 23rd, 2007, 7:22 pm

 

EHSANI2 said:

The average Damascene certainly enjoys better food!

October 23rd, 2007, 7:25 pm

 

Alex said:

OK, I’m going back to work. I will escape before they accuse me of over simplifying things.

Maybe I am learning from Bashmann, but not in a good way.

October 23rd, 2007, 7:30 pm

 

annie said:

Speaking strictly as a foreigner living in Syria.

To all of the Syrian beaters : why do you think I CHOOSE to live here in spite of the lack of freedoms ? Why don’t I choose my native Belgium except for visits ?

Because there are so many factors which make up for the lack of freedom and because anyway freedom is becoming an endangered good everywhere in the world.

There is « insaniya » and compassion and generosity.

I still have to see vulgarity even among the poor. People are sober and in control of their behaviour.

There is respect for parents and for older people. People are polite.
I already said how much I love Damascus.

I agree with EHSANI2’s post
(I am a little perplexed by the amount of time that people are willing to spend debating seemingly obvious matters.etc. )

What he says is all a given and it is true for most Arab countries and for Arabs in Israel. Bishara is a case in point.

AP speaks of self denial ; beieve me Syrians know exactly what is up but they do not speak about it and specially not to you.

Of course, you heard the difference between a dictatorship and a democracy: a dictator will tell you « shut up » and the democrat will say « keep talking » . Bush is a case in point. The voters expressed their wish to see the US out of Iraq and now he is going to compound the problem and bomb Iran ?

Thank you Alex for your answers. but when you say
“And would you say that the average Damascene goes out (restaurants and cafes) more often than the average New Yorker? : )”

No, which average Damascene ?

October 23rd, 2007, 7:33 pm

 

Bashmann said:

Alex,

I take things one step at a time, just like your preferred method.
As you know the Pyramids were built one stone at a time.

I thought I’m already engaged with a Syrian which I hope you are, aren’t you?
Or do you consider yourself a Canadian?

Also, as for your questions about leadership, no one here claims to be a leader and speaker for the Syrian people, I’m simply starting with myself and saying the things that every honest Syrian inside and outside the country already knows. The only difference is that I can say it loud and clear without fear of reprisal since I live in what you and many others have termed the “evil” US that lost its principals and led by a bunch of war mongering political junta surrounding President Bush.

You and I are looking for the same thing in Syria but the only difference between us the approach and methods. You still live in denial, I, on the other hand stopped doing so and currently working to change things.
When you say;

“I want to ask you something: Khaddam and other “opposition leaders” mentioned many times the past few years that they are planning such tactics and they are confident the Syrian people will overthrow the regime.
Why did the Syrian people not go for it?
Fear? … yes, in many cases.
Do not want to? … yes in most cases.”

How do you know that Syrians are not listening to Khaddam? Have you been to the latest NSF conference in Berlin? Many Syrians from all walks of lives have attended the conference and all seem to have one thing in common, all want and believe that a change of the regime is the only viable solution to Syria’s current problems.

One more thing, do you notice that you are also playing the leader role for the Syrian people when you speak for them; “Do not want to? … yes in most cases”

As Ausamma once said to me, speak for yourself buddy.

Cheers

October 23rd, 2007, 7:34 pm

 

Alex said:

Bashmann,

Would it be too much if I ask you to you refrain from accusing me of things I did not say or mean?

Enough is enough. If you debate me, then you will need to try to understand instead of trying to win by distorting my opinions. I am not a USA hater, I think it is quite obvious. I am just like a majority of Americans who voted against this administration during the last elections… I think this administration messed up many things… really really bad. The “evil” description of this administration became part of pop culture in the untied States. Would this picture help explain? .. the US is NOT evil. ok? I love the united states as much as you do.

I explained that I understand that we have a very corrupt authoritarian system that we need to slowly change, and you say “you are in denial”!

I kept repeated few times above that I believe the Syrians should do what they want to do … that they are very well informed through satellite TV and the Internet … yet you accuse me of trying to lead them.

I don’t know if you noticed that I sent you an email to invite you to write for the new topic on Creative Syria. I am not trying to “lead” the Syrian people if I invite people who oppose my views, am I?

Khaddm’s NSF .. sorry. But Khaddam who promised three of four times the past two years to topple the regime “soon” is not not in touch with what is going on in Syria. And I don’t want to mention his corruption because the regime is just as corrupt.

I have a lot of respect for the master architects who designed and built the marvelous Pyramids. But … Egypt was a dictatorship at the time, no?

October 23rd, 2007, 8:06 pm

 

IsraeliGuy said:

Alex, would you mind sharing with me your recipe for democracy in Syria?
If I understand you correctly, you seem to advocate for democracy – but through a realistic and responsible process.

Ok, fair enough.

Would you please describe the suggested milestones (and estimated timeline) for such a process, the way you see it?

Much appreciated.

October 23rd, 2007, 8:26 pm

 

Jamal said:

I do not think it is reasonable to see Alex on the side of the bad guys. He is more on the side of the angels.

I disagree with him sometimes, but respect that he has not chosen to take the route of relentless attack on the Syrian regime. He has another approach which the Syrian cause needs just as much as what Bashman and others are doing.

Look at his web site and you see a love and pride and celebration of the best of Syrian history and culture. You see sophisticated and stimulating debate. No self-promotion.

Alex and his friends in Canada show the world why Syria is worth fighting and hoping for.

There is no support for the regime on the site. But read the debate section and you’ll see plenty of criticism.

My advice is if you care about Syria and want to be reminded why go to http://www.creativesyria.com.

And I like the way Alex is willing to come out and answer his critics here. He comes across as a decent guy, but no fool.

October 23rd, 2007, 8:29 pm

 

majedkhaldoun said:

Barring an internal military coup or an absolute stunner from the Hariri court, nothing much will change in Syria for years to come.

the security forces in Syria are run by people their loyalty is well guarrnteed,they reach this level after they have been scrutinized several times,military coup is unrealistic unless it follows a military defeat or a war with Israel, As for Hariri investigations ,this is finished two years ago ,for political reason it has been delayed,this is what I believe.
luck is the major factor for Bashar,if it was not for the events in Iraq, Bashar would have been in much worse condition, as Ehsani said , no one in Syria want to see things go similar to Iraq.
The influx of money from other arabic states,and the drop in Dollar value,with the results ,that real estate is going sky high, where poor people are millionairs,people do not want to loose this,in other word economically the people are satisfied, so they are not going to ask for a change.
as for the discussions about democracy, it is boring.
I believe that Bashar went to Turkey because he needs Turkey, so he can break his isolation, however Turkey has its own agenda, so it may not do him much good.but it is a good move.
I want to add that the increase in population will surely catch up with Bashar and conflict is inevitable, Syria population will increase 1/2 million a year, this is already at a crisis level.

October 23rd, 2007, 9:21 pm

 

t_desco said:

How have we become so bold? 🙂

For the record:

6 arrested in French investigation of alleged Iraq recruitment network

Police investigating an alleged recruitment network sending Islamic fighters to Iraq detained six men on Tuesday, all linked to a group arrested in February that allegedly worked with an al-Qaida cell in Saudi Arabia, police and judicial officials said.

An anti-terrorism unit made five of the arrests in the Toulouse region of southwest France and one in the rural Lot region, the officials said. None of the officials was authorized to discuss the matter publicly and all asked not to be identified.

The six were aged 25 to 45 and were close to six people arrested in February, two of whom were arrested in Syria and expelled to France, the officials said. They have all since been placed under investigation in the case.

The probe was opened in February into a recruiting network to send fighters to Iraq. According to a scenario described by the prosecutor’s office at the time, the recruits were initially sent to Egypt to learn Arabic and teachings of Salafists “in the most radical schools.” Via a cell implanted in Saudi Arabia and linked to al-Qaida, the recruits then were put in touch with a network in Syria that took them to Iraq “to commit terrorist acts, notably suicide attacks.”

Belgian investigators are working with the French on the case, the judicial officials said, without elaborating.
AP

Cinq suspects dans une filière irakienne arrêtés dans le Sud-Est

Cinq hommes suspectés d’avoir participé à une filière d’acheminement de combattants vers l’Irak ont été arrêtés mardi en dans le Lot et près de Toulouse, a-t-on appris de source policière.

Ils ont été placés en garde à vue et il s’agit désormais de “déterminer leur degré d’implication” dans une filière qui a déjà fait l’objet d’une importante opération de police les 13 et 14 février derniers, a-t-on précisé de même source.

Une première série d’arrestations avait alors été menée à Paris, en Belgique et près de Toulouse.

Les cinq suspects arrêtés mardi sont proches d’un suspect interpellé lors de cette première opération, Olivier Corel, Français d’origine syrienne qui aurait recruté des candidats au départ pour l’Irak dans un quartier HLM de Toulouse.

L’un des suspects de mardi aurait préparé les membres du réseau au “combat rapproché”, dit une source policière.

La justice antiterroriste française estime que ce réseau a envoyé trois personnes en Irak. Deux ont été arrêtées en Syrie, pays de transit, et la troisième a disparu. L’homme pourrait avoir été tué en Irak.

Plusieurs filières de ce type ont été démantelées en France depuis l’invasion de l’Irak en 2003 par les troupes américano-britanniques.

Les magistrats français soulignent leur petite taille et leur relative inorganisation et jugent le phénomène très différent des “filières afghanes” des années 90, organisées et financées depuis Londres.
Reuters

October 23rd, 2007, 10:01 pm

 

Bashmann said:

Alex,

I apologize if I offended you by generalizing your statements and categorizing them with the other people posts which I have read on SC for the past few days. Rest assured I never doubt your patriotism or love for Syria.
However, many others here who are opposing AIG, IG, MSK, Ehsani2, and AP seem to be stuck in that corner where all evils and wrong are caused by the US and Israel and can’t see beyond their noses. It reminds me of all the slogans I’ve grown up with in Damascus and other parts of the ME. As you said before blah ..blah..blah… 

We seem to be on the same page when it comes to this administration making mistakes, however, I do not believe Dick Cheney or Richard Perle for this matter, harbor ill intentions for the people of Syria or the ME people in general. I strongly disagree with the methods they chose to reach their objectives in Iraq, yet I understand their principals and visions for the ME and share many of them. In fact PBS ran a documentary on Richard Perle, the famously called “Prince of Darkness” in some circles, a few months ago where for the first time I heard him speak frankly of his views. I’m not sure about you, but I was surprised and intellectually challenged at some of his common sense. The one fact about him which surprised me was his party affiliation, I actually found out he is a Democrat. You would think a conservative hawk like him would most definitely be a Republican! He also admitted later on that the Iraq war was a mistake, a stark deviation from his long militant approach to his ideology for the past two decades, which only proves my original argument that a change must start from within.

Anyhow, that’s for another discussion and a debate which I’m sure you have a lot to say about it. Maybe we can go through all the neoconservative hawks’ figures that influenced this administration and talk about their backgrounds and political ascendance to power positions here on SC and see how many more of them can surprise us with their personal agendas for a change in the ME.

As for your invitation for me to write on Creative Syria, I thank you for it and hope to give you a few thoughts before the deadline.

As for Khaddam, I do not believe there are ulterior motives to his work and I’ll tell you why in another post, yet I’m hopeful that his coalition with the MB, the Kurds, Assyrians, Christians, and Secularists will only gather more momentum as time gets closer to the International Tribunal and its outcome. While I know you and Professor Landis think the contrary, this is the first true organized opposition outside Syria that has made a progress on galvanizing all the political spectrum in Syria. As for his optimistic view of toppling the regime “soon”, I believe it to be a bit aggressive in its forecast.

Cheers.

October 23rd, 2007, 10:25 pm

 

ausamaa said:

Josh,

Are you running ads for SYRIA COMMENT in MAD magazine or something?
I like what shimon Perse (the man behind the Qana Masssacre and the Israeli “Deterent!” Nuclear Bomb) once said ( to demonstrate a non-practiced wisdom) something to the effect that: We should not take EXPERTS OPINION’S seriously; things are chsanging so fast that Expert Opinion is not applicable anymore”. He is right in saying that. But he does not act it, nor do many commentators here seem to have managed to absorb the changes that taking place in the World and in the Arab World.

It is not the same like before the catastrophic qonsequences of the invasion of Iraq and after the successful survival of the Syrian and Iranian “regimes” and after the Hamas Victory, and after the Israeli forced strategic retreat in july 2006, and after the recent Turkish elections.

But, we can always judge things by how we see the half-full or the half-empty cup, rather than looking at the overall picture in a realistic manner.

Seems like Waiting for Godot.. even if forever is gone forever…

October 23rd, 2007, 10:37 pm

 

majedkhaldoun said:

recently I was in a meeting ,all the people there, were talking about syria comments and have great respect and admiration for SC. so congratulation to Joshua Landis who galvanize the syrian people,
my question is how much SC is popular inside Syria,and is it ready to be read without deletion or censorship?

October 23rd, 2007, 10:52 pm

 

Alex said:

Thank you Jamal. You are so kind.

Majed, special relations with Turkey are not about Bashar. The Syrian people want it, the Turkish people want it.

Syria Comment is popular in Syria too. But most Syrians are really not into politics, and many are not comfortable writing in English. So I would imagine that few hundred educated Syrians are on Syria Comment on a weekly basis. We have about 2000-4000 daily visitors. Fifty of us write .. the rest read.

Israeliguy.

I am not sure anymore I can suggest a time line. To do so I need to be able to control all the variables or to be able to predict their future states and values, one by one. I also need to have at least one successful experience with implementing a similar change (democratizing an authoritarian system).

I don’t : )

But I can suggest ideas that we did not try yet. I can suggest positive approaches and mentalities that are compatible with a successful democracy.

Don’t worry. That does not mean another 50 years of Baathist rule like AIG suggested. Life is changing much faster recently. The pace of change in Syria might be slow, but it won’t and it can’t be much slower than the rest of dynamic movements throughout our increasingly connected planet.

Here are some ideas

1) First things first: Do we agree where we are heading? if we don’t … are we able to live with the decision of the majority who would supposedly decide everything when they are elected.

An example: How relevant should religion (Islam)and religious considerations be to Syria’s reformed legal system, Syria’s political structure, and Syria’s foreign policy?

In Lebanon you have a real split between the secular and hte religious. Some are scared from a Hizbollah type rule, and others love it. Many say that they will immigrate out of Lebanon if Hizbollah one day wins a one-man one-vote type of elections in Lebanon.

2) We need to forget the past. Not the whole past but anything that has bitter memories associated with it… anything that makes you feel like taking revenge from someone.

3) We need to understand the regime, and to understand the fundamentalists. They are not all bad and the are not all stupid and they are not all corrupt … we can find effective allies from each camp… we need them to succeed in implementing change.

4) we need to (at least concurrently) sign an honorable peace treaty with our wonderful Israeli neighbors. Why? … because so many things in Syria are not going to change until we are not in state of war. Israels air attack last month reminded every Syrian that we are really in a state of war with Israel. It is also an excuse that the regime uses to explain why it needs to maintain control over the country. But regardless of how convenient it is to the regime, Israel is an active enemy to Syrians… for now.

5) We need to learn and teach others how to communicate with those who we disagree with. We need to have to replace the drama with humor.

6) We need to agree on Syria’s regional role. Syria’s relations with Lebanon, Turkey, Iran, Saudi Arabia, the United States, Iraq, and Israel.

Why? … because they are as important as European’s discussions last decade on joining the European Union. In the case of Syria, there are regional issues that will seriously affect how harmonious a democratic Syria can be. Syrians have to decide on relations with the Kurds (related to relations with turkey and Iraq). Syrians have to decide on their relations with Saudi Arabia vs. turkey and Iran … a potential area of major disagreement .. it implies many things. Iran represents shia Islam (supposedly Alawites like that) and Saudi Arabia and Turkey represent Sunni Islam. Turkey represents a secular version of Islam, Saudi Arabia, a more Wahabi version. Saudi Arabia and Egypt are the natural partners for Syria’s Arab nationalists. Christians will watch and see if Syria’s overall balance of alliances is secular or not. Socialists are still worried that Syria might become a pro-America capitalists society and they will hate to see that day. Syrians from Palestinian origins and man other Syrians are not supportive of a settlement with Israel before the Palestinians have “their rights”

You might suggest that all these issues can be decided in the first democratic elections … let the majority decide.

I disagree. This is where we are not ready. Look at Iraq, look at Lebanon. we still do not know how to disagree.

7) We need a calmer, less dynamic, environment. We don’t want Jumblatt to visit Damascus and support Khaddam’s party against Bashar’s party … or Ahmadinejad visiting to support Bashar against the Muslim Brotherhood’s candidate.

8) We need more honest and credible ambassadors for democracy. Mr. Cheney is just not going to have enough charm to convince Syrians of anything, not even democracy. President Carter might have been able to do much more good.

Next administration I hope … in over a year.

9) We need to understand who we are dealing with … every person could be good or bad, secular or religious, powerful or weak, foolish or wise … and any of the infinite combinations in between.

Example: if we communicate with and try to motivate a powerful regime security head, we should not tell him “you thug, you dictator, you crook, we demand that you accept our conditions and change … or else!”

10) We need to try our best to help … but if it does not work, we should not force it. It will happen when it happens.

We’ll take any improvements we can get and we will see how we can do our part to accelerate the positive changes.

October 23rd, 2007, 11:43 pm

 

IsraeliGuy said:

Alex, first, thanks for your detailed answer.
It’s very interesting.

Second, when you portray the pre conditions for a Syrian democracy, you use terms like “we need to do X”, “we have to do Y”, etc.

Who is “we”? The current regime or the Syrian people?

And another question: You mentioned ‘an honorable peace’ between Israel and Syria in one of your points.

Is it fair to say that we (Israel) have veto power over the establishment of a Syrian democracy?

I mean, if we want to keep Syria the way it is now, all we have to do is to refuse to a peace treaty with Syria?

October 24th, 2007, 12:07 am

 

Enlightened said:

Alex said:

“How come the Syrian people, who have heard the Democracy thing a billion times the past few years … how come they did not want to follow George Bush’s leadership? … Khaddam’s? … Jumblatt’s …’

Alex democracy is not the cure to every ill, but lets be honest and say that the system currently employed by all the arab countries (leadership) has got us no where in sixty years.

Your question can be answered simply the reason the people have not dared to pursue democracy is fear! fear of the unknown consequences, and fear of the security services! It is a simple as that.

October 24th, 2007, 12:21 am

 

anotherisraeliguy said:

Alex,

Your position is basically that Arab people are not ready for democracy. You “do not know how to disagree”. If I as an Israeli said this, I would be racist. So, I would be very interested to hear other Syrians and Arabs in general comment on your position.

In my opinion, if Syria does not become a democracy in the next 20 years it will be taken over by the Muslim Brotherhood. How many religious, broke, unemployed and sexually frustrated young will be in Syria in 2030 if things continue this way? Many millions. Even Asad will not be able to hold them down. Plus, you always have a chance of war as things stand.

Also, Asad is overplaying his hand. Did Israel or the US stop Hamas from taking over Gaza? No, and they will not stop the Muslim brotherhood from taking over Syria. With a name like Alex, i don’t think you will like that.

So, you are not helping Syria by accepting the current regime and not forcing democracy or at least a plan forward.

October 24th, 2007, 12:27 am

 

Alex said:

Israeliguy,

like I always answer … there is no one factor or one side that determines any outcome.

think of Syrian political freedoms or any other variable as a dependent variable (y)

You always have

(y) = F(X1, X2, X3 …Xn)

Y (outcome) is a function of many x’s … the independent variables (like Israel’s decision to give the Golan back to Syria)

So Israel does not have a veto on democracy in Syria, but it sure can make the process much easier or even more difficult.

To answer your other question: “we”refers to any wise and non selfish person who genuinely wants to do good things for Syria and the Middle East.

——

Enlighened,

I beg to disagree … Syrians are young … majority below 25. I was told that they think politics are for those who have no life … the old men who sit in a cafe discussing Israel and America’s mistake in Iraq.

It is not cool to discuss politics… there are other discussion topics like girls, music, sports, going out to restaurants, business opportunities….

But again, for many others , it is fear (as you suggested, and I suggested the same earlier)

And last cause for no action: what’s the use … everyone is corrupt. If the Baathists go, Khaddam will come, or America will bring Ghadry …

Finally, as IDAF pointed out earlier … the UAE is not a democracy but it is successful. So is China.

We can wait a bit : )

——————-

AIG,

You can not call me a racist if I criticize one aspect or if I am honest about one of my peoples shortcomings.

I love Syrians (if you have not noticed yet). But I can criticize what I don’t like.

But obviously I made it sound like all Syrians do not know how to handle disagreements. That was not my position.

To me, a serious racist is someone who does not care about others’ lives as much as he cares about his people’s.

October 24th, 2007, 1:08 am

 

swerv21 said:

israeli guy:

it is absolutely fair to say it. israel is an undisputed regional great power, with no immediate neighbor that can approach parity. how could it be otherwise?

you want a surefire way to increase pressure for syrian reform from within? sign a peace treaty today.

how bad do you really want it?

October 24th, 2007, 1:08 am

 

norman said:

Well said Alex ,
Syria should move at the pace that is safe without jumping off the cliff , democracy can not be achieved without a large middle class ,as having rich and poor like in Syria will cause violence and anger of the poor against the rich ,that will destroy Syria and fragment it , It might be what the Israelis want. Syria needs to move to decrease the inequality in income between rich and poor through taxes and have safety nets for the poor then implement political reform ,
Another reason to wait on implementing politecal reform without peace with Israel , without peace that will guarantee noninterference of forign countries in Syria’s election the politecal parties in Syria will sell out to highest bidder and that is more dangerous than any dictatorship.

October 24th, 2007, 2:18 am

 

anotherisraeliguy said:

Alex,

Why do you think you are a racist? You obviously care more about Syrians than about Tibetans. You have a site about Syria and not Tibet. What we care about is shown by what we do, not what we say. Does the fact that you care more about Syrians than Tibetans, more about your family than strangers make you a racist? Don’t be so hard on yourself.

Let me just say that for me and many Israelis, a peace with Bashar is not honorable. There cannot be an honorable peace with a dictator. It is just a sham, a peace of convenience which is what the peace Israel has with Egypt is. It will also be a let down to the many brave Syrians that want democracy and do not want to legitimize Asad. So in my opinion there is no honorable peace possible until there is a democracy in Syria.

The only way peace and prosperity will come to the middle east is if there is a real process to bring in democracy. Not vain hope and finger crossing. There has to be a plan that over 10 years transitions to democracy. Otherwise the arab dictators will fall with a big crash just like the Shah did and be replaced by theocratic or other dictatorial regimes. Syria is not China. The most glaring difference is the one child policy of China. You cannot have economic growth accompanied by a huge population growth like in Syria.

And there are many examples of countries that have transitioned from dictatorship to democracy: Poland, Hungary, Chech republic, Chile, Argentina, South Korea, Greece and Spain are just few examples. Why don’t you learn instead of ignore these examples? The Chilean and Spanish examples are quite apt for Syria.

All in all, what you say rings as hollow excuses. Would you have been so laid back about the regime in Syria if the Muslim Brotherhood were in power? Would you also say you are only interested in the regional issues? We may have a chance to find out in a few years.

October 24th, 2007, 2:36 am

 

anotherisraeliguy said:

Norman,

Spoken like a true aristocrat. This is what the nobility in France used to say when asked about reform before the French Revolution. So now the regime in Syria is justified because it keeps the vast majority who are poor in their place and protects the few rich. Slowly we are learning why each person supports the oppresive Bashar regime.

And why is there no middle class? Because Asad 1 and Asad 2 do not let it develop. You know these middle class guys, they may get an ideas like “democracy’ in their head, and be dangerous. In today’s world how can you have a middle class without open trade with the world? Too dangerous for the regime, too much foreign influence.

So you support the regime until there will be a middle class, but the same regime hinders a middle class. Talk about a bad excuse. It is not fooling anyone. You like the status quo because you are in a small privileged group that benefits from it. That is the real reason.

October 24th, 2007, 2:48 am

 

norman said:

AIG ,
First i was not of the rich or the well connected in Syria , I went to public schools , left Syria because of the poor central planing economy that Syria adopted (well intentionally ) only to find out like the rest of the world that central planing does not work , About open trade , I agree with you that Syria should have open trade and the US should stop the economic sanction that it has on Syria and the Syrian people , do you know that Syrians can get some American books, about democracy ,the only reason you keep pushing for it is to have a civil war in Syria so Israel Will control the Middle east , That is a wishful thinking on your part that will not happen as long as Assad in power. so wake up and make peace with Syria before it is too late as i see no risk for Israel to have peace with Syria as the superior Israeli army =can be in Damascus in less than few hours .

October 24th, 2007, 3:19 am

 

annie said:

AIG says “Let me just say that for me and many Israelis, a peace with Bashar is not honorable. There cannot be an honorable peace with a dictator.”

Do you think a peace with Olmert is honorable ? Do you think anyone can forgive what happened in Lebanon last year and what happens daily in Palestine ? And what Olmert plans to do in Iran ? Went to get support from Sarkozy for this new catastrophy.

October 24th, 2007, 3:44 am

 

why-discuss said:

Syria gives a syrian national identity card to the inhabitants of the Golan who, for some mysterious reason in view of the “democratical and economical paradise” that Israel claims to be, have refused to take the Israeli nationality.

L’orient le jour 23 october

La Syrie accorde la carte d’identité
nationale aux habitants du Golan occupé

La Syrie a décidé d’octroyer la carte d’identité nationale aux habitants du Golan occupé par Israël depuis 1967, a indiqué hier l’agence syrienne SANA. « Le président syrien (Bachar el-Assad) a donné des directives pour l’octroi de la carte d’identité syrienne aux citoyens syriens du Golan occupé », a affirmé SANA. Cette mesure vise à « alléger les souffrances » des druzes du plateau, victimes des « tracasseries et des violations israéliennes des droits de l’homme », a précisé l’agence. Plus de 18 000 Syriens, en majorité druzes, vivent sur le Golan occupé. Ils ont refusé dans leur grande majorité de prendre la nationalité israélienne et ne disposent que d’une « carte bleue » israélienne qui ne mentionne pas leur citoyenneté syrienne. « Pour voyager, les autorités israéliennes nous délivrent un permis de passage qui sert en Israël à transporter les marchandises et les animaux, alors qu’en Syrie, nous ne possédions qu’une carte temporaire blanche », a déclaré à l’AFP un responsable de la Ligue des étudiants du Golan. Près de 400 étudiants syriens originaires du Golan poursuivent leurs études universitaires à Damas, où ils bénéficient d’une bourse gouvernementale.

October 24th, 2007, 4:18 am

 

Alex said:

AIG,

It is ok, we will agree to disagree on the value of signing peace with the filthy Syrian dictator.

In the mean time, I would like to ask you a question just to check in case we do get rid of our bad dictator, if we can really have peace with you:

Here is some of what is happening on your side. What percentage of Israelis do you think would have a similar attitude when they are drunk and can not attenuate their true feelings?

I am sure there are national efforts to fight such mentalities, but with all those efforts, would you say you still have a lot of racist and violent Israelis?

And here is another one … a comment from a wonderful Israeli reader at Haaretz today, after the story they ran about the cost of a war with Syria.

“If the Syrians are so effectively entrenched and determined to fight as light infantry it sounds like there will be a need for copious ammounts of napalm, fuel air explosives, and cluster munitions.Those who are not killed will lose the will to fight. Failing that a 1 kiloton nuke will probably render them irrelevant in pretty short order.
As for the rockets and ballistic missiles- the IAF and commandos will eliminate some of them but Israel will have to absorb some body blows. If that is the case then at the end of the fighting there should no longer be such an entity as `Syria`

What would these Israelis do if their country reaches a peace settlement with the Syrians? … wouldn’t you miss the glorious feeling of sending the best of the IDF to teach the evil Arabs some lessons? … honestly, you love to watch them in action. Why would you sign a peace treaty and end any future chance to play AND WIN against the neighbors’ armies… it will be like telling your sports Champions that won the world cup to … stop playing.

I know there are many Israelis who would still be proud of the many Nobel prize winners and of the smart Israeli kids who are starting some of the most successful technology companies… But I am concerned about the coucou Israelis who leave all those wonderful comments everyday … there are many of them I imagine.

October 24th, 2007, 5:01 am

 

Enlightened said:

Some of you might know that in Australia we are in the midst of elections for the Federal government, and one of the issues resonating within the Australian populace is our involvement in the Iraq war and our current prime ministers decision to involve Australia in that war.

On Sunday night we had a live national debate that was carried by three television stations, and the debate was held in front of people from the most marginal seat in Australia (Eden Monaro historically who ever holds this seat has held the government since Federation ) and a worm ranging from positive to negative relayed to everyone around Australia whether the speeches were positive or negative. ( from the audience)

When the Issue of Iraq came up and was debated, the Prime Ministers speech went straight to the negative and questions from Journalists to the prime minister about the reasons for going to war, the evidence, WMD, terrorism rated a negative on the highest scale. When asked if Australia is at more risk because of terrorism the prime minister replied no, and the graph still showed a negative response from the audience, as those voting did not believe him.

But something funny happened, when climate change was discussed, our (environment minister) current minister has different views from GW Bush on climate change, when a journalist asked the prime minister who is right with their view, his minister Or GW Bush, he replied his minister Malcolm Turnbull, the audience erupted in laughter.

Suffice to say the audience awarded the debate to the leader of the opposition 65 to 29 with six undecided. The populace thinks that our involvement in the war was needless, and that Australia is worse off for participating. Interesting the prime Minister party on a two party preferred basis is trailing the opposition 42 to 58. Wit Iraq one of the key Issues.

I thought you might like to all know!

October 24th, 2007, 5:55 am

 

MSK said:

Ya Alex,

I don’t know where you got the idea from that my participation in this comment section here is about “winning” or “losing” arguments.

I had initially joined because I’ve known Josh for a long time & thought that SC would be a great place to converse, discuss, and argue about Syria, learn new things, teach each other, point out flaws in each other’s arguments, and – ultimately – reach conclusions that would be a step above a mere sum total of all single contributions.

Sadly, I was mistaken.

When you outlined your 10-point program above, my first thought was “Great, finally Alex moves beyond the usual ‘Syria is doing better than twenty years ago & in any case, everyone else in the region is even worse’ stuff.” But then my second thought was “Ok, but HOW is all this going to happen?”

So, my dear Alex, I am posing the question: How are all those processes going to be enacted in reality? Will there be semi-annual meetings of “The Society of smart & nice people who only want the best for Syria & the MidEast”? Do you propose that those people should send in suggestions to the various Syrian ministries or letters to the editors of Syrian newspapers?

–MSK*

October 24th, 2007, 6:37 am

 

Alex said:

Hmm .. I guess you are right. Too complicated in practice.

Forget that 10 point program.

What I wanted to say was that Syria is doing better than twenty years ago & in any case, everyone else in the region is even worse’ stuff.

October 24th, 2007, 7:42 am

 

Torstein said:

Whoa,

A week away from SC and the comments section go from interesting and (usually) constructive to the usual dirt throwing and pointless Arabs/Jews discussions. It’s easy to point a finger at one in particular, but everyone who jumps at that particular person’s comments and lets him steer the debate is to blame for that also.

I don’t think moderation and blocking anyone is the answer, as has been suggested, as the debates are kept interesting here by being open to all opinions and participants. That doesn’t mean one has to answer every silly opinion here, especially when it’s repeated ad nauseam.

Anotherisraaeliguy, I noted above that you are here (temporarily) to ‘to understand how Syrians think.’ You might be more successful if you learn how to listen. At the moment, you seem more eager to show that you already know everything.

October 24th, 2007, 8:06 am

 

Alex said:

MSK,

Remember President Bush’s (sr.) inaugural address?

a thousand points of light

I have spoken of a thousand points of light, of all the community organizations that are spread like stars throughout the Nation, doing good. We will work hand in hand, encouraging, sometimes leading, sometimes being led, rewarding. We will work on this in the White House, in the Cabinet agencies. I will go to the people and the programs that are the brighter points of light, and I will ask every member of my government to become involved. The old ideas are new again because they are not old, they are timeless: duty, sacrifice, commitment, and a patriotism that finds its expression in taking part and pitching in.

October 24th, 2007, 8:21 am

 

MSK said:

Dear Alex,

I don’t really see why you are getting sarcastic. I calmly wrote down my thoughts and tried to have a normal conversation with you.

You know that we both are in agreement on a lot of things – starting with the fact that Israel has to return the Golan, that the US administrations are anything but “fair” when it comes to the Middle East (or anywhere else, for that matter), that Syria becoming the next Iraq is not something we want, etc.pp.

For some reason this discussion thread has developed into something very constructive. It would be nice to keep it that way.

You wrote your 10-point program. I think it’s great (not that my view matters much). But I am also asking: HOW do you propose to go about it?

So far, the program is like me saying “we need cleaner energy” without saying what kind & how to get there.

I fail to understand what a quote from Bush Sr.’s inaugural speech has to do with that. Enlighten me?

–MSK*

October 24th, 2007, 9:00 am

 

SimoHurtta said:

12 Cheshvan 5768
‘Syria Expected IDF Attack on Eid el-Fitr’

(IsraelNN.com) Syria expected Israel to launch an offensive against it around the time of the Eid el-Fitr holiday two weeks ago, sources in Damascus told a paper called al-Halij, which is published in the United Arab Emirates.

Syria took a series of large scale preventative measures as a result of the intelligence assessment, the report said.

According to the report, Russia and China were also updated and they relayed harsh warnings to Washington and Jerusalem not to attack Syria and cause a conflagration in the region.

Jerusalem Post
‘Syria was preparing for Israeli attack’

October 24th, 2007, 10:58 am

 

anotherisraeliguy said:

Alex,

You are worried about the koku israelis? So am I. But I don’t think you are worried by the dep antisemitism of the Syrian society with your deputy minister calling Jews sons of pigs and apes and with Tlas supporting the bllod libel.

The second video was quite amusing if in bad taste. I have seen much worse on the Arab side.

And yes, wars should be fought as aggresively as possible in order to bring them to an end, while complying with the Geneva convention. Fuel air-bombs against sparse infantry is a good and legal option. I hope there is no war, but if there is I demand that the IDF which I am part of will fight in the most aggressive way to bring a quick victory. Why would you find that surprising?

Being against peace with Bashar is not being for war with Syria. It is all in Bashar’s hands. If he misbehaves, there will be war. Otherwise, there will not be. As long as Meshal is hosted by Bashar and Bashar supports Hizballah, I am for bombing inside Syria as required. Sending terrorists to fight Israel is war as I and most Israelis understand it. As long as Bashar does not react with the Syrian army, there will not be a massive war.

The Syrians should understand that as long as there is no democracy in Syria there is a higher risk of war. Why would anyone find this surprising?

October 24th, 2007, 12:30 pm

 

Akbar Palace said:

AIG –

Why would a lifetime of Bashar Assad rule pose a “higher risk of war”? The Assads have always been pro-peace:

http://news.bbc.co.uk/onthisday/hi/dates/stories/october/24/newsid_2478000/2478505.stm

October 24th, 2007, 1:06 pm

 

IsraeliGuy said:

Alex, YouTube works both ways, you know…

October 24th, 2007, 1:26 pm

 

Alex said:

Israeliguy,

You should know that the Syrian army does not use Dodge trucks.

Unless if the Americans are secretly arming us and I do not know it.

Let me give you a hint. Our Lebanese brothers are filling You Tube with “Syrian” jokes … most of them are not Syrian. But … as long as it helps them feel good about their superiority.

October 24th, 2007, 6:55 pm

 

Alex said:

AIG,

“the dep antisemitism of the Syrian society” ??!

listen, … I mean: put your glasses on… read … write down, ask someone to translate for you … to explain … that we talked about this already … I linked articles that talk about Syria’s tolerance to ALL religions and all refugees from all surrounding countries … we celebrate two easters (Catholic and Orthodox Christian) … the Israeli reporter who entered Syria last month went to a Jewish Synagogue in Damascus … a “well maintained” Synagogue … like the well maintained properties of all Syrian Jews who left Syria .. teh state protects their properties .. they still own them even though they left the country … THEY love Syria .. they are proud to be called SYRIAN Jews … Bashar hosted their leaders who visited him in his office in 2004 and when the 11 of them left they told him “Now you have 12 Ambassadors in the United States” … in addition to Ambassador Imad Moustapha.

SYRIA DOES NOT HAVE A “DEP ANTISEMITISM” PROBLEM … BUT YOU HAVE A SERIOUS RACISM PROBLEM … AND YOU HAVE MANY CUCKOOS WHO WANT TO KILL AND USE THEIR GUNS AND RIFLES AND NUCLEAR WEAPONS O DESTROY ARAB CAPITALS

AND YOU ARE THE AMBASSADOR OF THE MAD ONES HERE.

So I will finally follow everyone’s recommendation and totally ignore you from now on and I suggest everyone does the same.

You are free to speak and we are free to ignore you.

October 24th, 2007, 7:22 pm

 

Alex said:

AP,

The Hindawi affair was an excellent Israeli intelligence operation. I don’t care to convince you because you are another hopeless case.

But for whoever is reading, this is what probably happened

From Wikipedia

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.[1] 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

October 24th, 2007, 7:24 pm

 

Alex said:

Dear MSK,

I will continue to be sarcastic with you because you are too serious. This is not more than the comments section of a blog. try to see it that way… besides, you are among my FaceBook friends, so it is ok if we joke, no?

As for the serious part of my answer above:

I believe that Syria has some of what President Bush Sr. was counting on … many good and talented people and NGOs who, despite the corruption and bad management, are doing wonderful things for the country and its people.

Besides that, believe it or not, some of the points I raised are already part of the Syrian regime’s way of seeing things. As I said before, Assad and some others do understand the region very well and are often taking the right decisions… close alliance to Turkey for example… trying hard to establish good relations with many Jewish organizations in the United States and Europe …

October 24th, 2007, 7:49 pm

 

ausamaa said:

I gusse that is what is called a False Flag Operation. It is my beliefe that the Harriri invistigation will turn out to be such a thing, if not a straight forward Israeli Operation using local Lebanese collaboraters such as the Israeli-abandond ex-Southern Lebanon Army (Lahd and Friends), or Junblat-connected persons.

-The execution was the work of Specialists
-The Leads, lead nowhere
-Israeli media is taking an ubusually and strange very low interst in the subject
-The Number one and Only benificiary is Israel amnd the number one sufferer wss Israel’s arch enemy Syria

The will, past experinces, the capabilities and the results ALL point to Israeli.

AS they say, the first thing Criminal Invistigators look at is Who is the Benificiary?

October 24th, 2007, 8:25 pm

 

trustquest said:

AIG,
You have done the Syrian people great job on the above thread, and you deserve the honoree national identity card from the Syrians freedom lovers. I’m not joking.
I have not seen any Syrian defend the freedom from dictatorship intelligently as you.

I wished the president of Syria have given this card to the hundreds of thousands of Kurds who have been asking for this card since 50 years.

You have got it right friend, that the one who does not respect his people will never respect his enemy.
Your argument with others can make a great book about freedom and against dictatorship.
I wished the SC is not censored in Syria and was not removed from Syplanet, preventing the curious many Syrians from reading your comments.

October 26th, 2007, 6:16 pm

 

AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Trustquest,

My deepest thanks for your kind words.

I didn’t realize that SC was also censored. Has it been censored always or just recently?

What don’t they censor then??? For example, is the Al-Jazeera site censored in Syria?

October 26th, 2007, 8:53 pm

 

trustquest said:

Dear AIG,
If you live in Syria, first of all, you will hate to log on the internet with the slow dialup speed. Then most of the outside world is blocked.
I live in the USA, but what I heard that at least in the last two months, they blocked youtube and blogspot.

October 26th, 2007, 9:55 pm

 

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