New Round Up (Feb. 18 2009)

On Thursday Feb 19th I will be speaking at Harvard’s Weatherhead Center for International Affairs on “Syria and its Neighbors: What Lies Ahead” which is co-sponsored by the Center for Middle Eastern Studies.

Iran’s President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is asking the same Question that Bashar al-Asad asked yesterday in his interview with the Guardian. He said his country is waiting for the U.S. to show “signs of real change” under the Obama administration, calling it “a necessity” for improving relations between the two countries.“Is the outlook of the U.S. renewed?” Ahmadinejad said in an interview with Iranian state television broadcast late today. “Is it willing to respect the nation? Is bullying going to disappear?”

Jeffrey Feltman is likely to become Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs, sources say. Feltman, a former U.S. ambassador to Lebanon said to be well liked by colleagues in the bureau, declined to comment. This appointment will be cheered by the March 14 coalition of Saad Hariri and booed by the March 8 coalition and Syria. Feltman was a vociferous and hard working supporter of Hariri’s and Bush’s Lebanon policy.  Although George Mitchell has been appointed as the president’s special envoy to the Middle East gave Syria considerable reason for optimism about a changed Obama policy, the appointments of Feltman, Levey suggest there will be no smooth sailing for Syria.

Dennis Ross’ Chairmanship of an Israeli Government funded think tank seems to have torpedoed his appointment to the Iran Envoy Job, because it raised questions about his being a foreign agent. All the same, the State Department and White House wanted him on the job, which suggests that there are not many people within the White House who are actually pushing for change in the way the US does business in the region. Perhaps this is why both Iran and Syria are complaining about the lack of “real change?”

Qifa Nabki on Nasrallah’s speech and what Hizbullah’s leader had to say about Lebanon’s upcoming parliamentary elections:

One of the most interesting parts of the speech, from my perspective, came toward the end, when Nasrallah discussed the upcoming elections. He said (and I paraphrase): Lebanon is not Switzerland. We are not a nation of political parties. We are a nation of sects, and even those parties established on the basis of a political identity are de facto sectarian parties because their constituents come primarily from one sect (i.e. like the PSP and the FPM). Perhaps, one day, Lebanon will have evolved to the point where its parties are purely political; in that scenario, it would be possible for a party or coalition to rule in a dominant manner after winning an election in a decisive fashion. However, we are not at that stage yet, and therefore, a ruling coalition must govern through a process of consensus, respecting the concerns of its opposition.

He continued: This is why we are telling you from now, that should our coalition win a majority in the upcoming elections, we will be prepared to form a national unity government with the other side, granting them a blocking veto. We do this in the spirit of consensus, and in the spirit of confronting together the many economic, political, and security-related challenges that face our nation.

Nasrallah then threw down the gauntlet, saying: If the other side rejects our offer and chooses to boycott the new government, our coalition will not hesitate to rule on its own (while respecting the interests of the nation.) In making this point, Nasrallah was sending a very clear message to those on the March 14th side who had been publicly contemplating boycotting the government in the event of a March 8th win. In all cases, Nasrallah mused, Hizbullah is not even that interested in getting involved in the cabinet, and would be happy if its allies in the opposition were to occupy its share of seats, leaving the Hizb to manage the resistance.

Translation? Hizbullah would like to avoid a Hamas-style coming out party at all costs, in the event of a March 8th win. They would like, more than anything else, to go back to the old arrangement: we’ll mind our business if you mind yours.

Project on Middle East Democracy’s Weekly Wire writes:

Congressional Hearings
On Thursday (2/12), the Subcommittee on the Middle East and South Asia of the House Foreign Affairs Committee met for a hearing titled Michele Dunne, Senior Associate at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace; Danielle Pletka, Vice President for Foreign and Defense Policy Studies at the American Enterprise Institute.

After the witnesses presented testimony, members of the committee asked questions. In one exchange, Rep. Burton (R-IN) asked whether the U.S. should consider influencing Hamas through engagement with Syria. Makovsky and Pletka disagreed on this front, with Makovsky arguing for it’s worth and Pletka stating that we should not “engage in this fantasy.” Another question also focused on Syria’s potential role. Rep. Ellison (D-MN) mentioned potential Israeli Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu’s opposition to two states. Makovsky expressed that Netanyahu may provide for some surprises, citing the fact that he met with Arafat and that meeting with Syria is not out of the realm of possibility.

… Some argued that getting off to a good start with Saudi Arabia should be a first priority for the new administration, while others claimed “the key to the future of the Middle East” is improved relations with Syria.

Claims Of Anti-Kurd Employment Discrimination In Syria: Memri blog

Ismail ‘Amr, chairman of the Syrian Kurdish party Social Democratic Unionists, has revealed that thousands of Kurds have found themselves out of work after the Syrian security apparatuses ordered owners of companies and commercial enterprises not to employ anyone without Syrian citizenship unless they have given permission. (Source: qudspress.com, February 17, 2009)

Syria reportedly stepping up production of chemical weapons
By Yossi Melman, Haaretz

Syria has stepped up production of its chemical weapons recently, according to a lengthy article featured in the latest edition of Jane’s defense news Web site.

Photos shown on the Web site of a DigitalGlobe’s WorldView-1 satellite between 2005-2008 illustrate defining features of a chemical weapons facility.

According to the article, the Al Safir facility in northwest Syria shows “significant levels of construction,” including a production plant and an adjacent missile base.

Comments (150)


offended said:

Chemical weapons? I bet it’s a detergents or lubricants’ production facility. Chemi weapons not our style.

February 18th, 2009, 5:06 pm

 

jad said:

(Claims Of Anti-Kurd Employment Discrimination In Syria)
That is taken out of context and a total misrepresentation; it only aims for some kind of cheap political gain for the separate Kurdish movement.
Who wouldn’t support that job to be offer only to Syrian citizens inside Syria?
How many Iraqis, Lebanese, Palestinians, Sudanese, Yemenis, even south east Asian citizens should we Syrian Tolerate, Educate, Giving them security, Jobs and treating them like we treat our citizen and in a way they don’t have in heir own countries and been accepted.
Syria is the best country in the region regarding this issues, Syria needs to be praised, appreciated and strongly supported in any means possible, and become an example of the way it’s people and even it’s freaking government treats any human being living there.
Why to be one-sided and blinded on every thing good that Syria and Syrians has offered on all it’s history?
Even Armenians they appreciate that Syria was there safest heaven when the Ottoman Turks was massacring their brothers and sisters, similar to Canada for the slaves running out of the states.
WHY?
I suggest to the west and human right movement to shut up for a second and look at the good that SYRIA offers, the many helps they gave even to the American when they needed to fight terrorism, why nobody is mentioning that? Are we become that blind to have the least fairness any human has?
It’s ugly to use such positive and national interest’s position to be twisted and become flagged as racism and that it’s targeting Kurds. The Syrian government has the right to do so and I doubt it was against any particular ethnics, don’t we the SYRIANS have the right to protect our job market and to offer SYRIANS the job??? What an revoking piece of news was that!

February 18th, 2009, 5:56 pm

 

Chris said:

Jad,

In ordinary circumstances I would agree that it is normal for a country to prefer employment for its citizens, however, many, if not most, of the Kurds in Syria are from Syria and are denied citizenship. In 1962, the Assad family regime conducted a census in Jazira, the predominantly Kurdish province, and revoked the citizenship of at least 120,000 Kurds. They justify this by claiming that they all crossed the border from Turkey. If the Assad family regime gave citizenship to Kurds from Syria then I wouldn’t be bothered by this. However, the regime in Syria has deprived Kurds of many civil and cultural rights by revoking their citizenship. The state of Kurds in Syria is shameful we should not diminish the importance of the lack of human rights for Kurds in Syria.

February 18th, 2009, 7:02 pm

 

jad said:

Chris, Yawn………..
(many, if not most, of the Kurds in Syria are from Syria and are denied citizenship.) Why didn’t you write all of them?!
(In 1962, the Assad family regime conducted a census in Jazira,) as far as I know, Assad regime family are in power since the Ottoman Turks not only since 1962!!!
(The state of Kurds in Syria is shameful we should not diminish the importance of the lack of human rights for Kurds in Syria.) How about “WE” (meaning you and your beloved Israelis) stop being double stranded?
For god sake, why don’t you get lost more than you are right now! You and your ‘important’ and fake preaching comments are as useful as an ashtray on a motorcycle!

Aljazeera have something about that today
http://www.aljazeera.net/NR/exeres/0E8B6075-55E8-4BF2-866A-3F8EB5BA67A1.htm

التخلف الشديد
أما المحلل والصحفي عصام خوري فاستبعد أن تكون الحكومة سنة إجراء الإحصاء بالخبث الذي صورتها به أحزاب كردية، حيث كانت المرحلة -حسب خوري- فطرية و”لم تكن مرحلة دولة مؤسسات واضحة العيان”.

واعتبر خوري أن “التخلف الشديد” ساهم في تجريد الأكراد من جنسياتهم، حيث إن قسما كبيرا منهم لم يسعوا لتسجيل أسمائهم في الدوائر الحكومية، كما أن البعض “تعاطى بلامبالاة مع مفهوم التوثيق”.

February 18th, 2009, 7:32 pm

 

Chris said:

I had gotten the Assad family regime and the government of Syria confused, oops!

I am not applying a double standard. I think minority groups in any country should be allowed to teach their children their own language, wear their traditional clothing, and celebrate their own holidays. Most importantly, they shouldn’t be denied citizenship simply because of their ethnicity Equally, I think the Kurds of Syria should be able to do all of the above. Yet the government of Syria publicly shoots Kurds with machine guns when they celebrate Nayruz , their New Year’s holiday (this happened in Qamishly in 2008).

“Syria’s Kurds have endured decades of severe discrimination under Ba’ath party rule. They have legitimate human rights grievances that the government should urgently address. Repression will only fuel resentment and political tension.”
Joe Stork, acting executive director of the Middle East and North Africa

http://www.hrw.org/en/news/2004/03/18/syria-address-grievances-underlying-kurdish-unrest

February 18th, 2009, 7:45 pm

 

Chris said:

Please replace “Syria” in the above post with “the Assad family regime.” I do not want people to think that I am criticizing the people of Syria for what the Assad family regime is doing to the Kurds. The people of Syria certainly aren’t responsible for actions of the brutal dictatorship in their midst.

February 18th, 2009, 7:52 pm

 

Akbar Palace said:

Professor Josh,

Is it you or Alex that placed a link to the website of this Gary Smith (director of the “Institute of Research” Middle Eastern Policy”)? I would think a professor (especially one who directs the Center of Peace Studies) would be a bit more picky than to cut and paste opinions from an anti-Israel polemic and al-Queda excusologist.

Gary Smith said:

Perhaps this is why both Iran and Syria are complaining about the lack of “real change?”

If anyone needs to change Mr. Smith, it’s Iran and Syria.

http://www.irmep.org/essays/hf.htm

February 18th, 2009, 8:05 pm

 

Alia said:

I wonder why the esteemed Haaretz journalists do not report on explosive labs in their own country. I tried to search for DIMES in their Archives but nothing…Is the Media there also brain-washed by the democratic system and free speech? NO “investigative” journalist got curious about this subject?

Dropping DIMES on Gaza
Death’s Laboratory
By CONN HALLINAN

“It was as if they had stepped on a mine, but there was no shrapnel in the wound. Some had lost their legs. It looked as though they had been sliced off. I have been to war zones for 30 years, but I have never seen such injuries before”

—Dr. Erik Fosse, Norwegian cardiologist who worked in Gaza hospitals during the recent war.

What Dr. Fosse was describing was the effects of a U.S. “focused lethality” weapon that minimalizes explosive damage to structures while inflicting catastrophic wounds on its victims. While the weapon has been used in Iraq, Gaza was the first test of the bomb in a densely populated environment.

The specific weapon—the GBU-39— is a Dense Inert Metal Explosive (DIME) and was developed by the U.S. Air Force, Boeing Corporation, and University of California’s Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in 2000. The weapon wraps the high explosives HMX or RDX with a tungsten alloy and other metals like cobalt, nickel or iron, in a carbon fiber/epoxy container. When the bomb explodes, the container evaporates and the tungsten turns into micro-shrapnel that is extremely lethal up to about 60 feet.

Tungsten is inert, so it does not react chemically with the explosive. While a non-inert metal like aluminum would increase the blast, tungsten actually limits the explosion.

Within the weapon’s range, however, it is inordinately lethal. According to Norwegian doctor Mad Gilbert, the blast results in multiple amputations and “very severe fractures. The muscles are sort of split from the bones, hanging loose, and you also have quite severe burns.”

Those who survive the initial blast quickly succumb to septicemia and organ collapse. “Initially, everything seems in order…but it turns out on operation that dozens of miniature particles can be found in all their organs,” says Dr. Jam Brommundt, a German doctor working in Kham Younis, a city in southern Gaza. “It seems to be some sort of explosive or shell that disperses tiny particles…that penetrate all organs, these miniature injuries, you are not able to attack them surgically.” According to Brommundt, the particles cause multiple organ failures.

If, by some miracle, victims do survive, they are almost to certain develop rhabdomyosarcoma (RMS), a particularly deadly cancer that deeply embeds itself into tissue and is almost impossible to treat. A 2005 U.S. Department of health study found that tungsten stimulated RMS cancers even in very low doses. Out of 92 rats tested, 92 developed the cancer.

While DIMEs were originally designed to avoid “collateral” damage generated by standard high explosive bombs, the weapon’s lethality and profound long-term toxicity hardly seems like an improvement. And in Gaza, the ordinance was widely used. Al-Shifta alone has seen 100 to 150 such patients.

Was Gaza a test of DIME in urban conditions?

Dr. Gilbert told the Oslo Gardermoen,“There is a strong suspicion I think that Gaza is now being used as a test laboratory for new weapons.”

The characteristics of the GBU-39 are likely to make it a go-to weapon in the future. The bomb is small and light—less than six feet long and only 285 pounds—that means an aircraft can carry four times as many weapons. It can also be dropped 60 miles from its target. Internal wings allow the bomb to navigate to its target. It can penetrate three feet of reinforced concrete. It can also be mounted on drones, like the Predator and the Reaper, and compared to other weapons systems, is a bargain.”

Marc Garlasco, Human Rights Watch’s senior military advisor, says “It remains to be seen how Israel has acquired the technology, whether they purchased weapons from the United States under some agreement, or if they in fact licensed or developed their own type of munitions.”

In fact, Congress approved the $77 million sale of 1.000 GBU-39s to Israel in September, 2008, and the weapons were delivered in December. Israel was the first foreign sales of the DIMES.

DIME weapons are not banned under the Geneva Conventions because they have never been officially tested. However, any weapon capable of inflicting such horrendous damage is normally barred from use, particularly in one of the most densely populated regions in the world

For one thing, no one is sure about how long the tungsten remains in the environment or how it could affect people who return to homes attacked by a DIME. University of Arizona cancer researcher Dr. Mark Witten, who investigates links between tungsten and leukemia, says that in his opinion “there needs to be much more research on the health effects of tungsten before the military increases its usage.”
DIMEs were not the only controversial weapons used in Gaza. The Israeli Self-Defense Forces (IDF) also made generous use of white phosphorus, a chemical that burns with intense heat and inflicts terrible burns on victims. In its vapor form it also damages breathing passages
International law prohibits the weapon’s use near population areas and requires that “all reasonable precautions” be taken to avoid civilians.
Israel initially denied it was using the chemical. “The IDF acts only in accordance with what is permitted by international law and does not use white phosphorus,” said Israel’s Chief of Staff Gabi Ashkenazi on Jan. 13.

But eyewitness accounts in Gaza and Israel soon forced the IDF to admit that they were, indeed, using the substance. On Jan 20, the IDF confessed to using phosphorus artillery shells as smoke screens, as well as 200 U.S.-made M825A1 phosphorus mortar shells on “Hamas fighters and rocket launching crews in northern Gaza.”

Three of those shells hit the UN Works and Relief Agency compound Jan, .15, igniting a fire that destroyed hundreds of tons of humanitarian supplies. Al-Quds hospital in Gaza City was also hit by a phosphorus shell. The Israelis say there were Hamas fighters near the two targets, a charge that witnesses adamantly deny.

Donatella Rovera of Amnesty International said, “Such extensive use of this weapon in Gaza’s densely-populated residential neighborhoods…and its toll on civilians, is a war crime.”

Israel is also accused of using depleted uranium ammunition (DUA), which in a UN sub-commission in 2002 found in violation of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the UN Charter, the Geneva Conventions, the International Convention Against Torture, the Conventional Weapons Convention, and the Hague Conventions against the use of poison weapons.

DUA is not highly radioactive, but after exploding some of it turns into a gas that can easily be inhaled. The dense shrapnel that survives also tends to bury itself deeply, leaching low-level radioactivity into water tables.

Other human rights groups, including B’Tselem, Gisha, and Physicians for Human Rights, charge that the IDF intentionally targeted medical personal, killing over a dozen, including paramedics and ambulance drivers.

The International Federation for Human Rights called upon the UN Security Council to refer Israel to the International Criminal Court for possible war crimes.

While the Israelis dismiss the war crimes charges, the fact that the Israeli cabinet held a special meeting on Jan 25 to discuss the issue suggests they are concerned they could be charged with “disproportionate” use of force. The Geneva Conventions require belligerents to at “all times” distinguish between combatants and civilians and to avoid “disproportionate force” in seeking military gains.

Hamas’ use of unguided missiles fired at Israel would also be a war crime under the Conventions.

“The one-sidedness of casualty figures is one measure of disproportion,” says Richard Falk, the UN’s human rights envoy for the occupied territories. A total of 14 Israelis have been killed in the fighting, three of them civilians killed by rockets, 11 of them soldiers, four of the latter by “friendly fire.” Some 50 IDF soldiers were also wounded.

In contrast, 1330 Palestinians have died and 5450 were injured, the overwhelming bulk of them civilians.

“This kind of fighting constitutes a blatant violation of the laws of warfare, which we ask to be investigated by the Commission of War Crimes,” a coalition of Israeli human rights groups and Amnesty International said in a joint statement. “The responsibility of the state of Israel is beyond doubt.”

Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said that Justice Minister Daniel Friedmann would coordinate the defense of any soldier or commander charged with a war crime. In any case, the U.S. would veto any effort by the UN Security Council to refer Israelis to the International Court at The Hague.

But, as the Financial Times points out, “all countries have an obligation to search out those accused of ‘grave’ breaches of the rules of war and to put them on trial or extradite them to a country that will.”

That was the basis under which Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet was arrested in Britain in 1998.

“We’re in a seismic shift in international law,” Amnesty International legal advisor Christopher Hall told the Financial Times, who says that Israel’s foreign ministry is already examining the risk to Israelis who travel abroad.

“It’s like walking across the street against a red light,” he says. “The risk may be low, but you’re going to think twice before committing a crime or traveling if you have committed one.”

Conn Hallinan can be reached at: ringoanne@sbcglobal.net

February 18th, 2009, 8:10 pm

 

jad said:

(Please replace “Syria” in the above post with “the Assad family regime.”) How sweet, honest and fair of you to differentiate the Syrians from the regime and the government on this issue and support the sanction on every Syrian when it suits your political gains by defending the American sanction yesterday, your fairness and justification and supporting of poor and people in need making me cry. Please STOP!
I’m sure that you supported Hamas government when it was democratically elected, you also supported the coalition government it has with the PA, but obviously you didn’t mind the sanctions, the un-human blockade on the open prison of Gaza as well as the blind killing aggression afterword on everybody who lives in Gaza, do you?
No need for any more boring comment from you Chris, it’s still early for me to sleep.

February 18th, 2009, 8:33 pm

 

Chris said:

Jad,

I didn’t mean to imply that I would support a government if it were elected. Bush was elected, but my criticism of him has been relentless.

As far as the sanctions are concerned: they are an attempt to get the regime to change his behavior. It is horrible that the people of Syria have to suffer for the consequences of Bashar’s policies, horrible. But, only if the Assad family regime changes its behavior will the Syrian people see prosperity.

If the Syrian people could choose between Iran/Hezbollah and peace/prosperity I think they would choose peace and prosperity.

Simply because Hamas received 45.45% of the vote in legislative elections does not mean that we ought to support them. This is especially true when they launch a violent coup against the system under which they were elected. To make an analogy, if the democrats were to have overthrown Bush last summer, would we call that democracy? Well, they did when the legislative elections (they became the majority in congress back in 2006) just as Hamas did. But you see they lost any legitimacy they might have gained from being elected when they overthrew the president (Abu Mazen) of the government that allowed them to run for seats in the legislature.

February 18th, 2009, 8:47 pm

 

Akbar Palace said:

Ben Cardin employs “Smart Power”:

“The question we came to try and answer here in Syria is whether or not Syria is ready to make important and significant decisions that bring us closer rather than lose this opportunity to move forward,” Cardin said.

Hopenchange never looked so good…

http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-3674062,00.html

February 18th, 2009, 9:17 pm

 

Rumyal said:

There’s a lot of money to be made by keeping Gaza as a handy “enemy entity” that can be attacked with little provocation. The story from Alia above demonstrates that as well as these…

http://jewishpeacenews.blogspot.com/2009/02/exporting-occupation.html
http://electronicintifada.net/v2/article10312.shtml
http://www.alternet.org/waroniraq/127484/attack_of_the_killer_robots%3A_pentagon_plans_to_deploy_automous_robots_in_war_zones/

Pretty sick.

February 18th, 2009, 9:43 pm

 

Ghat Albird said:

AKBAR PALACE said:

Professor Josh,

Is it you or Alex that placed a link to the website of this Gary Smith (director of the “Institute of Research” Middle Eastern Policy”)? I would think a professor (especially one who directs the Center of Peace Studies) would be a bit more picky than to cut and paste opinions from an anti-Israel polemic and al-Queda excusologist.

AKBAR PALACE.

You must be implying that the Professorially led by Dr. Daniel Pipes (FPRI) is more picky and does not use cut and paste anti-Islamic stunts. FPRI-Foreign Policy Research Institute has since the late 90’s morphed into the Middle East Policy Forum. The head of both FPRI and its makeover the Middle East Policy Forum is the infamous (or famous,i.e. depending on your point of view Dr.Daniel Pipes.

February 18th, 2009, 10:40 pm

 

Enlightened said:

1. offended said:

Chemical weapons? I bet it’s a detergents or lubricants’ production facility. Chemi weapons not our style.

Just one addendum in this psychological war, remember the bombing of the milk factory by the Clinton administration in a African country? ( I cant seem to recall which one ).

I bet though we will see little evidence of this ramp up in chemical production will we? These things never cease!

February 18th, 2009, 11:22 pm

 

nafdik said:

Ehsani,

As promised here are brief answers to the questions I posed a few posts ago:

1- Should we get rid of the dictatorship or collaborate with it to improve the country?

We should prioritize the removal of the dictatorship. We could collaborate with it if the objective of collaboration is to pave the way to a final removal of the dictatorship.

But if faced with 2 choices one that improves education for example and the other that will hasten the fall of the dictatorship we should go for the latter.

The reason for this is that gradual improvements can be recovered at later times but if we miss a window of opportunity for freedom we might not get it again for a long time.

2- Should we support the dictatorship to avoid invasion by: Israel, US, Islamic fundamentalists?

The presence of the dictatorship will not protect us from any of the above. The Shah dictatorship in Iran lead to the most theocratic regime in modern times, Saddam dictatorship lead to a full invasion of Iraq.

In 1967 with a Baath dictatorship in power, our then defence minister Hafez Al-Assad proclaimed: “Our forces are now entirely ready not only to repulse the aggression, but to initiate the act of liberation itself, and to explode the Zionist presence in the Arab homeland. The Syrian Army, with its finger on the trigger, is united… I, as a military man, believe that the time has come to enter into a battle of annihilation.”

Later that year the same man went on national radio ordering the immediate withdrawal of all our troops from the Golan heights.

The idea we are asked 50 years later to wait a few more years until his son negotiates back what his father lost, is tragico-comic.

But to go back to the main point a dictatorship loses wars and conflicts. Since the Athens lost to Sparta, most battles and conflicts in history has been won by democracies.

3- Should we remove the dictatorship with violent means or peaceful demonstrations?

I think we should do whatever works. I do not think we have the luxioury of choice.

However, given the regime control of instruments of violence and its capacity to use them in ways that will make the recent Gaza massacre look like picnic, I think there is no chance to beat the regime through violence; except, of course, through an army insurgence.

4- Can the dictatorship reform itself?

First we must understand the enemy:

a) the dictatorship uses force and repression to exercise and maintain its power.

b) this repression is massive endeavor

c) to finance this repression apparatus, the dictatorship creates revenue opportunities for the various actors in the apparatus

d) the regime both supports these actors and is supported by them. The regime without the actors is powerless and will be removed immediately and the actors without the regime lose their revenue sources.

Therefore it is wrong to look at a top down reform from the regime, since reform means cutting off the income to these actors who themselves hold the regime.

If the president and his inner circle are foolish enough to do this they will be quickly replaced by a cousin, uncle, brother, etc.

5- Can we have a good economy under a dictatorship?

We could have a better economy and I think Syria is moving in this direction. However as explained above there will always be the following problems:

a) The dictatorship tax that is basically sucked out of the economy to finance repression apparatus. Note that this not only a matter of paying soldiers and mukabarat operators, it is paying a full pyramid scheme complete with Ferraris, european vacation houses, New York real estate and the like.

b) The rule of law is extremely important in a functional economy. This is impossible in a dictatorship, as all these actors have extract the Juzia from the Syrian people and this can never be legal. Note that openly fascist regimes have an advantage here as the make the dictatorship a legal system and thus allow for the creation of a functional judiciary. This is not an option in a charade like dictatorship such as ours.

6- Why is the Arab world particularly prone to dictatorships?

I have never understood why. India, Pakistan, turkey, Iran, Roumania, Zimbabwe, have all achieved democracy in various stages.

If they can do it in Ghana?
Habibi leich 3anna ‘nirvana’?

February 19th, 2009, 3:52 am

 

Akabar Palace said:

Ghat Albird said:

You must be implying that the Professorially led by Dr. Daniel Pipes (FPRI) is more picky and does not use cut and paste anti-Islamic stunts. FPRI-Foreign Policy Research Institute has since the late 90’s morphed into the Middle East Policy Forum. The head of both FPRI and its makeover the Middle East Policy Forum is the infamous (or famous,i.e. depending on your point of view Dr.Daniel Pipes.

Ghat Albird,

I didn’t metnion Daniel Pipes(although Daniel Pipes credentials are well known: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Daniel_Pipes).

I was wondering why Syria Comment posted an article by Grant F.
Smith of the Institute for Research: Middle Eastern Policy. Is he someone “special” Professor Josh has high regard for?

I don’t know anything about him, where he studied and what his credentials are. I found this bio at “Antiwar.com” (sheesh):

Grant F. Smith is the author of the new book America’s Defense Line: The Justice Department’s Battle to Register the Israel Lobby as Agents of a Foreign Government. He is a frequent contributor to Radio France Internationale and Voice of America’s Foro Interamericano. Smith has also appeared on BBC News, CNN, and C-SPAN. He is currently director of the Institute for Research: Middle Eastern Policy in Washington, D.C.

Clearly, our editors found another conspiracy theorists and Israel hater, which isn’t very difficult. We have Shai for that;)

Here’s an interesting article:

“Why Bush Will Pardon AIPAC for Espionage”

http://www.antiwar.com/orig/gsmith.php?articleid=13327

I don’t recall Bush ever pardoning AIPAC, nor do I recall AIPAC ever being charged with espionage.

February 19th, 2009, 4:38 am

 

offended said:

I know you guys may not care much for Dubai, but this, if true, will be huge news story here. Signs of thaw? or Dubai caving in under pressure?

Congressman Says Dubai Will Give Visa to Israeli Man

By RICHARD SANDOMIR

The United Arab Emirates will issue an entry visa to Andy Ram of Israel for next week’s Barclays Dubai Tennis Championships, Representative Anthony D. Weiner said Wednesday.

“I’ve gotten the assurance from the ambassador,” Weiner, Democrat from New York, said by telephone, referring to Yousef Al Otaiba, the U.A.E.’s ambassador to the United States.

The decision to grant Ram a visa to enter Dubai, one of the Emirates, comes after the government’s denial of a visa to another Israeli, Shahar Peer, the 48th-ranked women’s player in the world. She was to play in this week’s tournament in Dubai. The WTA Tour did not cancel the women’s tournament, but the Tennis Channel dropped its weekend coverage.

Tournament officials cited local public opinion about Israel’s incursion into the Gaza Strip, the possibility of a spectator boycott and the security of Peer as reasons to deny her a visa.

On Wednesday, Weiner said: “It was my sense from the ambassador that he was looking to do the right thing, but that’s small consolation to Miss Peer. He understood that they had made a mistake and they had a public relations problem.”

The decision to grant Ram a visa could not be independently confirmed with the U.A.E. embassy in Washington or by the ATP Tour.

Ken Solomon, the chairman and chief executive of the Tennis Channel, said the network was looking into its archive to find Peer’s best tournament performance to replay Feb. 28 or March 1, the dates of the men’s semifinals and final.

Reuters reported that a Davis Cup first-round match from March 6-8 in Malmo, Sweden, between Israel and Sweden would be played in an empty 4,000-seat arena because of security concerns. The International Tennis Federation said in a statement that the decision by Malmo’s recreational committee was “very unfortunate” and “not in the long-term interests of the Davis Cup.” But it deferred to the local authority.

http://www.nytimes.com/2009/02/19/sports/tennis/19tennis.html?_r=1&ref=sports&pagewanted=print

February 19th, 2009, 1:44 pm

 

Akbar Palace said:

Debbie Schlussel echoes my sentiments on the Dubai tennis issue:

http://www.debbieschlussel.com/

February 19th, 2009, 1:51 pm

 

offended said:

Akbar,
Your Debbie Schlussel echos are shallow and inaccurate. You can’t just throw charges of anti-semitism left and right without looking at the underling issue here, people will start to take you less seriously when you do this (if not they’re doing so already).

But here’s a hint for you, since Dubai banned the female player and now seems to be allowing the male Israeli player, maybe you can bash Dubai for sexism? How about that? that should do your hate mongering and muslim-smearing campaign quite nicely.

February 19th, 2009, 2:20 pm

 

Akbar Palace said:

people will start to take you less seriously when you do this

Offended,

This isn’t saying much, especially for a website that links to articles by Grant F. Smith, “director” of the “famous” IRMEP…

Dubai and all the little Gulf statelets and sheikdoms have been boycotting Israelis and Jews for YEARS – with Gaza, without Gaza; with Lebanon, without Lebanon; and with occupation, without occupation.

They don’t give a fig when Israel is attacked; that’s OK. But Allah forbid Israel defends itself, well, that’s another issue…

February 19th, 2009, 5:33 pm

 

jad said:

“Netanyahu Scores Key Endorsements”
‘A key endorsement from Avigdor Lieberman this morning is likely to secure Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud Party the first opportunity to form the next Israeli government. The 15 seats of Yisrael Beiteinu will bring the total of supporters of Netanyahu’s position up to 65 seats.’
http://news.antiwar.com/2009/02/19/netanyahu-scores-key-endorsements/

GERMANY-1933 vs ISRAEL- 2009
http://desertpeace.wordpress.com/2009/02/18/germany-1933-vs-israel-2009/

“Israel Seizes Land for Settlement Expansion”
http://www.nytimes.com/aponline/2009/02/16/world/AP-ML-Israel-Palestinians.html?ref=middleeast

February 19th, 2009, 5:48 pm

 

MARTIN said:

GUARDIAN 19 FEB: UN nuclear watchdog rejects Syrian excuses for uranium find

IAEA report gives weight to claims of secret reactor destroyed by Israeli missile attack

February 19th, 2009, 7:14 pm

 

Chris said:

WOW! The Assad family regime certainly isn’t risk averse. First they were developing a nuclear program and now they are expanding their chemical weapons program (the article about the chemical weapons program is above: http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/1065160.html ).

Aside from the danger that the development of these weapons poses to peace in region, what I find most astonishing is the audacity of Assad and his cohorts.

I’m just happy that they put their nuclear facility away from any civilian population centers unlike their henchman, hamas, who hide weapons in mosques.

I’d like to thank Akbar Palace for pointing me to the news below.
-=—————————————————————

IAEA finds graphite, uranium traces at suspect Syrian site
1 hour ago

VIENNA (AFP) — The UN atomic watchdog has found further uranium particles, as well as traces of graphite at a remote desert site in Syria, which the US alleges was a covert nuclear reactor, it emerged Thursday.

UN inspectors detected more unexplained uranium particles at Al-Kibar, the International Atomic Energy Agency said in a restricted report.

And a senior official close to the agency revealed for the first time that particles of graphite had also been found at the site, but that it was too early to determine whether it was nuclear-grade graphite.

Graphite is used as a key element in the core of nuclear reactors.

Syria insists Al-Kibar is a disused military facility, razed to the ground by Israeli bombers in September 2007.

The IAEA visited the site, which is also known as Dair Alzour, last June, taking a series of environmental samples to see whether there were any traces of nuclear chemicals that would back up the US allegations.

Already last year, the watchdog had revealed that a “significant” number of particles of man-made uranium had been found.

But in the restricted report circulated to IAEA member states on Thursday, a copy of which was obtained by AFP, the agency said that new analyses “have revealed additional particles of anthropogenic (man-made) uranium.”

There were now around 80 uranium particles in all “of a type not included in Syria’s declared inventory of nuclear material,” the report said.

Damascus has said in the past that any uranium there could have been from the Israeli bombs that flattened Al-Kibar in September 2007.

But the IAEA has virtually ruled out that interpretation.

The IAEA’s “current assessment is that there is a low probability that the uranium was introduced by the use of missiles,” it wrote.

“The isotopic and chemical composition and the morphology of the particles are all inconsistent with what would be expected from the use of uranium based munitions.”

The senior official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the amount was “significant.”

“It’s not simple contamination by somebody who spent the day at some nuclear facility somewhere and then went to Al-Kibar,” the official said.

“It’s nuclear material that hasn’t been declared and Syria has to explain” how it got there.

In the report, circulated to IAEA member states on Thursday and scheduled to be discussed at a meeting of the board of governors next month, Director General Mohamed ElBaradei urged Damascus to come clean about the exact nature of the site, which Syria again insisted earlier this week was a disused military facility.

“The presence of the uranium particles, the imagery of the site available to the agency and information about certain procurement activities need to be fully understood,” it said.

“Syria therefore needs to provide additional information and supporting documentation about the past use and nature of the building and information about the procurement activities.

“Syria needs to be transparent by providing additional access to other locations alleged to be related to Dair Alzour. These measures, together with the sampling of destroyed and salvaged equipment and debris, are essential for the agency to complete its assessment.”

Regarding the graphite, the official said analysis of the samples was still underway.

“We didn’t find masses of graphite but we found some particles, some traces. We’re still analysing the significance of that and whether that would point to nuclear-grade graphite.”

The IAEA said that Syria had replied to some of its questions in a letter earlier this week.

However, the responses “were only partial and included information already provided and did not address most of the questions raised in the agency’s communications,” it said.

http://www.google.com/hostednews/afp/article/ALeqM5h_DqCdoqniVZQjatkHZHUZ741K-A

February 19th, 2009, 7:52 pm

 

jad said:

WOW..Oh My God..Oh My God..Oh My God…Armageddon in Syria..LOL
http://www.spiritoftruth.org/syria.htm

February 19th, 2009, 7:58 pm

 

Chris said:

Akbar Palace:

Thank you for bringing to light the Dubai tennis issue. If a country is not willing to give visas to Israelis why are they allowed to hold these matches? Obviously these matches ought to be held in countries where athletes of all countries are welcomed.

Another related problem that has been brought to light is the Swedish tennis match in Malmo. The first round of the Davis Cup tournament will be held in Sweden next month. However, fans will not be allowed to watch because of threats by radical hooligans. I know there has been radical violence in Europe so I can understand the Swedes’ concern, but the fact that Sweden would cave in to pressure by those who hope to intimidate through violence is very depressing. The only way to deal with such hooligans is to show that their violence cannot sway people. Unfortunately, Sweden buckled.

“Michael Klein, chairman of the Israel Tennis Federation, said it was a shame that political demonstrators could force Sweden to keep out fans.

“This means that they will not sell tickets to the general public because they are expecting provocation by troublemakers who have nothing to do with the sport,” he said. “It’s terrible that they are trying to mix politics with sports, especially in an enlightened country like Sweden.

February 19th, 2009, 8:12 pm

 

Shai said:

Chris,

You said: “If a country is not willing to give visas to Israelis why are they allowed to hold these matches? Obviously these matches ought to be held in countries where athletes of all countries are welcomed.”

Do you think Palestinian athletes can compete in matches in Israel? We’re not talking about Iranians, or North Koreans, we’re talking about citizens under Israeli rule. I’ll give you the answer: “No, they can’t.”

I suppose Israel should also be banned from having international tennis, soccer, basketball, swimming, chess, and ice-hockey matches on its territory as well, no?

As for your continued (and certainly justified) interest in Syria’s nuclear and biological programs, I wonder if the motivation is mainly based on your scientific curiosity, or an attempt to depict Syria as an evil member of “The Axis”, whose action clearly refutes any claims to peaceful intentions on her part. If the former, then I salute you. If the latter, then I’d like to ask you to explain why Israel’s far, far superior nuclear, chemical, and biological programs are to be considered as anything other than a clear indication of our “true” intentions. Unless, of course, Arab deterrence = Terrorism, while Jewish deterrence = Self defense. Then it’s clear.

You see Chris, while your newly-acquired action-hero in the form of one AP may find (this) Israeli’s criticism a demonstration of anti-Israel, self-hating tendencies, I specifically wish to point to your use of double standard and uneven handedness.

This tactic you’re choosing is only getting you closer to AP, not to Arabs.

February 19th, 2009, 8:43 pm

 

Chris said:

“As for your continued (and certainly justified) interest in Syria’s nuclear and biological programs, I wonder if the motivation is mainly based on your scientific curiosity, or an attempt to depict Syria as an evil member of “The Axis”, whose action clearly refutes any claims to peaceful intentions on her part.”

It’s not scientific curiousity, its concern that the pattern of behavior of the Assad family regime in conjunction with chemical and or nuclear weapons would be a very dangerous mix. We’re talking about the kind of government that shoots people in broad daylight with machine guns for celebrating New Year’s ( http://www.hrw.org/en/news/2008/03/23/syria-investigate-killing-kurds ). Whether or not that is “evil” is not for me to decide.

As for you mention of Israel’s nuclear capability I would say that, well, this is a blog about Syria, and we’re here to talk about the ramifications of Syria’s policies.

Also, Shai, you bring up Israel’s program as if that justifies Syria’s development of chemical weapons and its nuclear program. Are you hoping for an arms race? Besides, your mention of Israel’s program is surprising to me because you don’t usually tell us that Israel’s actions should be emulated. Are you trying to say that if Israel does something then it is okay? If so this would certainly be a first for you.

“I specifically wish to point to your use of double standard and uneven handedness.”

Do you think I am being too hard on the brutal Assad family dictatorship/monarchy in Damascus? Am I not being fair to the regime that committed the atrocity at Hama? Are you actually saying that I should tone down my criticism of the regime that reguarly tortures its own people, supports Islamist terrorists in Lebanon; the West Bank and Gaza, occupied Lebanon for 29 years, supported the flow of Al Qaeda to Iraq, and denies basic human rights to its Kurdish population? Seriously Shai, find a better victim to stand up for.

“This tactic you’re choosing is only getting you closer to AP, not to Arabs”

It’s not precisely clear what you mean by this “tactic” however, I would say that Arabs are not generally fans of the Syrian regime. Syria, in the Arab world, is a pariah state, an outcast. Bashar is almost as much of a joke as Qadhafi is. So, being critical of the Assad family regime/monarchy is may in fact bring me closer to Arabs.

February 19th, 2009, 9:24 pm

 

offended said:

From the Debbie echoey link of AP:

The good thing about the current, sudden, selective outrage over Dubai’s anti-Semitic visa policy–because it barred player Shahar Pe’er from playing in the Dubai Tennis Classic–is that we learn who stands for what.

Seriously?! now banning an israeli tennis player is considered anti-semitic? was the UK being anti-Dutch when they banned Geert Wilder citing security concerns?

And then it goes on to rail against the Williams sisters:

Then, there are the Williams sisters, Venus and Serena. Can you imagine if a country hosting a tennis tournment wouldn’t grant visas to Black players? Can you imagine if the country would grant visas to a select few Black players for the purpose of a tennis tournament, but wouldn’t allow any other Blacks into the country?

So let me get this straight; let’s hypothesize that a nation at war with the United States (for whatever reason) was hosting a golf tournament and they banned Tiger Woods from participating; would that be considered racism? and let’s say that that hypothetical country allowed Tiger Woods so it won’t be perceived as racist to black people, would that not be perceived as racism against white golfers (who otherwise would have been banned if he was the representative of his country)?

Nuff said.

February 19th, 2009, 9:29 pm

 

Shai said:

Chris,

Don’t you see how 99% of your effort on SC is either attacking, or defending? There’s no dialogue, no attempt to understand, no willingness to read beyond the words. Like AP and AIG, you bombard this forum with your “facts” – the way you see (their) world. I often accuse AP of utter chutzpah when he attempts to depict the 6% of Israelis who were against the Gaza operation as naive little liberals who, god-forbid, belong to some foolish peace-camp. He speaks for and about Israel, almost as if it belonged to him, or as if he would suffer any of the consequences of the logic he so exhaustively tries to market here.

But for you to attempt to “explain Syria to Syrians” here on SC, or to other Arabs, is truly incomprehensible. Where do you get the self-confidence required to teach Arabs about their world, as if you’re some “expert” in their history or their present? Have you ever been to any Arab country? Do you have any Arab friends? Do any of them support your style of “communication”?

Please don’t confuse yourself with the facts – I’ve never said anyone should emulate or not emulate Israel. There are plenty of things I’m terribly ashamed of in my country (as you know by now), but also things I’m extremely proud of. Otherwise, I wouldn’t be typing these words from my home in Israel, where I have a family, and where I raise my two little girls.

I find it almost unbelievable that you, like AP and AIG, cannot truly understand why any Arab nation would wish to build up its deterrent capabilities vis-a-vis Israel. Do you really think it’s about “the Assad family”? If you’re suggesting that only murdering regimes develop WMD programs, then what is Israel? What are France, Britain, the U.S., India, Pakistan? Are they also ruled by “families”? I absolutely think that if my enemy is building certain capabilities, then I have a right to do the same, or better. The minute Israel decided to invest in nuclear technology (and military use), that was an open-invitation to all our neighbors, and certainly rivals, to do the same. It just took about 40 years, but should we truly be surprised? Why can Israel (a peace-loving democracy) be allowed to develop chemical and biological weapons, and Syria, Libya, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Morocco, or Kuwait not?

What is more likely to cause Israel to reconsider its own belligerent policies in the region – if the Arab world had only stones to throw at us (1st Intifada), or nuclear weapons (Iran, 2010)?

Forgive me for giving you a tiny word of advice – It’s okay to look in the mirror sometimes, even if you know you may not like what you see…

February 19th, 2009, 9:53 pm

 

Shai said:

Offended,

United Arab Emirates has apparently adopted a schizophrenic-anti-semitic policy: one day they are, next day they’re not… 🙂

http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/sport/tennis/article5767539.ece

February 19th, 2009, 10:14 pm

 

Chris said:

Shai,

Are you serious?

“But for you to attempt to “explain Syria to Syrians” here on SC, or to other Arabs, is truly incomprehensible.”

This is an English language blog. Clearly, its readerhsip is not limited to Syria or the Arab world I am not trying to explain Syria to Syrians. I am trying to conveny my views to everyone, from any country who might be reading.

” as if you’re some “expert” in their history or their present? Have you ever been to any Arab country? Do you have any Arab friends? Do any of them support your style of “communication”?”

Not an expert, not yet, but I have lived in Syria, for about 10 months. I’ve been to Syria, Lebanon, Jordan, Egypt and the West Bank. Of course, I have Arab friends.

“I find it almost unbelievable that you, like AP and AIG, cannot truly understand why any Arab nation would wish to build up its deterrent capabilities vis-a-vis Israel. Do you really think it’s about “the Assad family”? If you’re suggesting that only murdering regimes develop WMD programs, then what is Israel? What are France, Britain, the U.S., India, Pakistan? I absolutely think that if my enemy is building certain capabilities, then I have a right to do the same, or better. The minute Israel decided to invest in nuclear technology (and military use), that was an open-invitation to all our neighbors, and certainly rivals, to do the same. It just took about 40 years, but should we truly be surprised? Why can Israel (a peace-loving democracy) be allowed to develop chemical and biological weapons, and Syria, Libya, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Morocco, or Kuwait not?

Oh no, I can certainly understand why the Assad family regime (monarchy) would want to acquire WMD. First of all, prestige.

Simply because the U.S. or Israel, or France has WMD does not mean that every country in the world ought to have them. In the year 2009 we want to be preventing the spread of nuclear weapons. We do not want to be expanding their use. With each additional country that has nuclear weapons this world becomes exponentially less safe. This is why most countries, including Syria are members of the Nuclear Non Proliferation Treaty.

You wrote:
“Why can Israel (a peace-loving democracy) be allowed to develop chemical and biological weapons, and Syria, Libya, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Morocco, or Kuwait not?”

Well President Kennedy worked assiduously to try and prevent the Israelis from developing nuclear weapons. Israel’s development of nuclear weapons in the face of U.S. opposition was a serious problem in bilateral relations. Weapons inspectors were sent to Israel. So, it wasn’t as if the world did nothing to stop Israel from obtaining nuclear weapons, as you seem to be implying.

February 19th, 2009, 10:32 pm

 

Alia said:

chris,

[Well President Kennedy worked assiduously to try and prevent the Israelis from developing nuclear weapons. Israel’s development of nuclear weapons in the face of U.S. opposition was a serious problem in bilateral relations. Weapons inspectors were sent to Israel.]

Such a ridiculous statement… President Kennedy died 45 years ago. Do you have nothing more to show for the American- Israeli nuclear interaction than JFK ?

Here is a recently declassified memo from Kissinger to Nixon on the subject, it is worth reading and re-reading….the nuances are terrific. There is a lot more…another time.

http://nixon.archives.gov/virtuallibrary/documents/mr/071969_israel.pdf

Chris, those who have hired you for this job are idiots-

February 20th, 2009, 1:00 am

 

SimoHurtta said:

Chris what are studying there in Italy? Zionism’s history in a Mossad basement office? How can a student day after day waste his days and nights by writing such crap you writing and what is your motivation? Money or voluntary work to defend the reputation of religious one race “democracy” – Israel.

Concluding from the intellectual level of your comments Chris I would say that studying has not been on the top of your past aims. So it wonders me how on earth do your parents (or employer) bother to finance your “studying” in Syria and Italy. Well if your studying stories are really true, which I doubt, you certainly will not have a bright academic future. That can already be seen in the level of your propaganda.

An example of that

Well President Kennedy worked assiduously to try and prevent the Israelis from developing nuclear weapons. Israel’s development of nuclear weapons in the face of U.S. opposition was a serious problem in bilateral relations. Weapons inspectors were sent to Israel. So, it wasn’t as if the world did nothing to stop Israel from obtaining nuclear weapons, as you seem to be implying.

Well, well Chris. What happened to Kennedy? Did the “world’s” efforts continue to stop Israel from obtaining nuclear weapons? Hmmmm maybe that solved the old “puzzle” – who was really behind the …

I recommend that you Chris concentrate to your studies if you are a student as you say and leave commenting to bigger boys and girls. If you are not, may I deliver a message to your employers: “Chris must be transferred to a administrative job, writing pro-Israeli propaganda is far to demanding job for him. An average ten year old could defeat Chris in a debate. Chris could do a good job in Afghanistan administrating a part of the nation building. He knows the culture and has fresh ideas which the local people will like. Regards SimoHurtta”

February 20th, 2009, 1:07 am

 

AIG said:

Wow! How defensive can the Syrians on this blog get? Let the readers of the blog decide for themselves if what Chris writes is foolish or not. The guy has lived 10 months in Syria lately which is more than can be said for many so called “Syrians” on this blog. That you do not like what he says is something else. So what? He is entitled to his opinions.

Let’s not forget, this is an American site, paid for by the University of Oklahoma. This is NOT a “Syrian” site.

February 20th, 2009, 1:54 am

 

norman said:

Nafdik,

Do you think That Arabs have the tendency to dictatorship because they tend to respect their parents stay at home until they get married ,so they have the comfort of being taken care of instead of indiveduality that is needed to make tough disisions, and choices .

February 20th, 2009, 2:01 am

 

nafdik said:

Alia,

Thanks for posting this memo. Very interesting insight into the American decision making machine.

Norman,

This is the most plausible theory I heard so far. I first read it in an article by none other than Wafa Sultan.

However, it still seems unsatisfactory, as countries like India and Pakistan are very similar in this regard.

February 20th, 2009, 2:25 am

 

norman said:

Nafdik,

I did not know that Sultan said that,

By the way , i agree with you about honor killing , syria has to educate the people and build an outrage to that practice then ban it and make the crime punishable like other murders.

February 20th, 2009, 3:42 am

 

majedkhaldoun said:

he is a spy,we should never believe him,or care about what he says,he lies,he is a zionist

February 20th, 2009, 4:12 am

 

Akbar Palace said:

Simohurtta states:

How can a student day after day waste his days and nights by writing such crap you writing and what is your motivation?

http://news.yahoo.com/s/nm/20090220/bs_nm/us_stanford_40

February 20th, 2009, 4:15 am

 

jad said:

Dear Norman,
It comes from the semitic tribal mentality ‘sheikh al quabila’ not from a social behavior.

February 20th, 2009, 5:29 am

 

Shai said:

Chris,

“So, it wasn’t as if the world did nothing to stop Israel from obtaining nuclear weapons, as you seem to be implying.”

No, that’s your interpretation of what you think I’m implying. I never suggested the world should sit idly by when nations, any nation, attempts to acquire nuclear technology, or WMD’s. But to naively suggest that certain nations should not attempt these capabilities while for others it’s okay is called “double standards.”

I don’t know how you personally measure violent tendencies, but to me action speaks far louder than words, and numbers do count. If Israel kills 1500 Lebanese in 34 days, and 1300 Palestinians in 3 weeks, more than the total amount of Israelis that have been killed by “terrorism” in the past 60 years (not 60 days, 60 years), and if polls taken around the world show Israel right up there as one of the “leading threats to world peace”, then I’d say our neighbors have a greater reason to fear our misuse of WMD’s than, say, we have to fear theirs. Saddam Hussein had all the chemical and biological weapons he needed to kill tens of thousands of Israelis (if not more), yet he chose to throw a few tens of ineffective missiles at Israel in the 1st Gulf War. There’s a reason why he didn’t use WMD’s on Israel.

Your infatuation with “The Assad Family” is bizarre. Why aren’t you so concerned about “democratically-elected” leaders in Israel who are no less corrupt, who kill far more people (the Palestinians), and who subjugate and suffocate and control the fates of 4 million people under their rule, far worse than the Syrian regime does in Syria? I don’t recall Amnesty International giving Israel better “grades” on human rights abuse, when it comes to the Palestinians, than Syria got for its own citizens, do you?

That you’ve spent 10 months in Syria (and visited neighboring countries) comes almost as a shock to me. And this is what you got out of it? This is your way of constructive, pragmatic dialogue with the purpose of bettering the lives of Syrians? Reports about the evils of dictators around this globe are about a dime a dozen. I don’t think SC readers need further details on this realm. If they did, I imagine there are far more qualified people here to supply us with this information than you, with all due respect. Do you honestly believe people here want to listen to you, in the way you’ve chosen to deliver your “message”? Don’t the endless responses you receive speak for themselves?

I hate to use this example, but you keep reminding me of a kid that always pees into the wind. You tell him “son, you’re gettin’ wet, change direction…”, but he just won’t… 🙂

February 20th, 2009, 9:19 am

 

Alia said:

Norman, Jad and Nafdik,

I don’t think that one can dismiss the whole issue of the population remaining under dictatorship rule with one insight from the wholly unqualified Wafa Sultan who is nothing but an opportunist who saved herself from getting an education and real work by lending her voice to those who wanted to add a voice of betrayal to their agenda, I hear she did well financially with that transaction. Anyway, I would be happy in a few days to give you some better references to read on the issue Insha Allah

AIG,

What is the problem with being defensive against a propagandist? You and A.P. have been defending Israel against unspeakable crimes. Repeating the same useless mantras of brainwashed cattle, without the reality of a situation getting through your blind hearts.

How do you know how much time we each have spent in Syria and what our connections to our country are? You think a clueless student ignorant of the language and hanging around with other students and a few lost souls that he has described is more qualified than each one of us is to talk about Syria! How wrong you are…

In a world where the power of money and the support of the U.S. do not make Israel a country, Syria and Syrians are the product of an old civilization that the like of you have no clue about. If you think that stealing someone’s land and taking money from the U.S. has made you a civilization you are mistaken. Israel is a highly unstable society ruled by greed and corruption and it will implode.

Having said that, there will be a time and a day when the rule of the Assad family will have to end. We do not need the like of you or little mercenary Chris to give us lectures on governance.

Offended,

I am interested in what happens in Dubai. I could not care less about Israelis wanting to play ball while the Palestinians are starving in their destroyed cities. Whether they do or do not eventually get visas, they need to know that the they are not welcome among the nations. An apartheid state should be ostracized and its citizens should know who they are, each one of them should pay the price of his allegiance to and support of his country. Nobody is innocent in Israel ( sorry Shai I know you do not like it when I say that, but I think that is a problem that you need to come to terms with, it is not my problem)

February 20th, 2009, 11:20 am

 

Shai said:

Alia,

Re: “Nobody is innocent in Israel.”

I don’t know what that statement means in practical terms. Even in guilt there are different levels. But I’m not here to judge particular Israelis, as I do not judge particular Arabs (like “The Assad Family”). I do know, however, that peace will one day have to be made with “the guilty”. There’s no choice. Should we wait until Syria is a full-fledged democracy (some here claim we should). Should the U.S. wait until Iran stops executing homosexuals? But you’re right, our leadership does include outright criminals, and certainly those of us who vote these criminals into power, are guilty either directly or by association. Believe me, knowing who and what I voted for 10 days ago, I don’t feel a milliliter of guilt about who I “placed in power”. I’m quite proud of it.

I will agree with you, however, that if in theory or in practice there was a way to punish every single Israeli, then this could bring about change much faster. If the U.S. treated Israel like it did S. Africa in the days of Apartheid, then Israel and its citizens would be forced to look at things differently.

As for Dubai, there’s pro’s and con’s for banning an Israeli female tennis player. I’m not sure the publicity did any good for the Palestinian cause. In fact, I’m almost sure it did the opposite – it further demonized the Arabs as “backwards” or “irrational”. If, on the other hand, they DID allow Shachar Pe’er to play, but had huge massive demonstrations inside the tournament grounds, perhaps so much so that Shachar Pe’er would be forced to stop her match, just like occurred recently in Turkey with the Israeli basketball team, then the goal would have been achieved. Following principles blindly very often has the opposite effect, I think.

February 20th, 2009, 12:22 pm

 

Observer said:

Fantastic news
Bibi is the next premier and Avigdor is asking for the posts of Foreign Affairs Security and Justice.
I would love to hear what the three stooges Mubarak Abdallah II and Abdallah have to say. As for Abu Mazen he is doing his ablutions with yoghurt as we say in Damascus

February 20th, 2009, 12:58 pm

 

Enlightened said:

Is it just me or do I see a new Batman (AP) and Robin (chris) fighting for truth, justice and the AIPAC way? (Yawn)

If one cannot put up a coherent argument lets go for the traditional below the belt “Honor Killings”, Arabs are barbarians, All muslims are crazy terrorists ( Enlightened yawns again)

Shai, is correct when he says “its okay to look in the mirror sometimes, even if you know you may not like what you see…”

This is what AP must see when he wakes on the wrong side of the bed:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Drevil_million_dollars.jpg

This is what chris must see:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Minime1.jpg

February 20th, 2009, 1:00 pm

 

Nour said:

Shai,

I am of the opinion that “Israel” should not be given any recognition until Palestinian rights are recognized and fully restored. If you allow an “Israeli” tennis player or an “Israeli” basketball team to participate in a tournament taking place in your country, then you are in effect recognizing the state of “Israel” and its legitimacy. First, I don’t believe in the legitimacy of a “pure” state erected on the land of another people. Second, it is not acceptable to recognize the legitimacy of “Israel” while “Israel” refuses to recognize even the basic humanity of the Palestinians.

February 20th, 2009, 1:05 pm

 

Alia said:

Shai,

Yes, I agree there are different degrees of guilt and each one of us ( hopefully) will know best what he or she is guilty of and what pacts with the devil each one of us has made along his/her life, what can be reversed and what cannot be expiated…I do not believe that we learn about morality from books, we learn it from our hard choices.

I do not want any nuclear, chemical or biological arms in the ME, nor do I want conventional wars. But I am not in favor of a Syrian peace, a Lebanese Peace…a piecemeal peace. I do not want the Palestenians to suffer anymore-at all. The example of South Afrika is the correct one. Unfortunately, even after Apartheid S.A.’s problems are not over and that is something that we should also watch and learn from.

I am not impressed at all that anyone cares around me if the israeli athlete plays or not. I have not heard any outrage; quite the contrary …and this is the first time. If you think she should play and then there should be demonstrations that is fine too; as long as we do not just close our eyes and continue compartmentalizing as some would wish: this is sport what does it have to do with conflict? Everything has to do with conflict.

I am reminded here of the Nazi commander of Paris visiting Picasso in his studio and looking at the picture of Guernica, the commander asked Picasso : “Did you do this” ? Piccasso answered seriously :” No, you did.” Gaza needs its Picasso.

P.S. from WIKI

Guernica is a painting by Pablo Picasso, showing the bombing of Guernica, Spain, by twenty-eight German bombers, on April 26, 1937 during the Spanish Civil War. The attack killed between 250 and 1,600 people, and many more were injured. The Spanish rulers commissioned Pablo Picasso to create a large mural for the Spanish display at the Exposition Internationale des Arts et Techniques dans la Vie Moderne (1937) Paris International Exposition in the 1937 World’s Fair in Paris.

Guernica shows the tragedies of war and the suffering war inflicts upon individuals, and in particular, innocent civilians. This monumental work has eclipsed the bounds of a single time and place, becoming a perpetual reminder of the tragedies of war, an anti-war symbol, and an embodiment of peace. On completion Guernica was displayed around the world in a brief tour, becoming famous and widely acclaimed. Within fifteen days of the attack, Pablo Picasso began painting this mural. This tour brought the Spanish civil war to the world’s attention.

February 20th, 2009, 1:05 pm

 

chris said:

Simo writes:

(quoting me)Well President Kennedy worked assiduously to try and prevent the Israelis from developing nuclear weapons. Israel’s development of nuclear weapons in the face of U.S. opposition was a serious problem in bilateral relations. Weapons inspectors were sent to Israel. So, it wasn’t as if the world did nothing to stop Israel from obtaining nuclear weapons, as you seem to be implying.

(his response)Well, well Chris. What happened to Kennedy? Did the “world’s” efforts continue to stop Israel from obtaining nuclear weapons? Hmmmm maybe that solved the old “puzzle” – who was really behind the …

Apparently he is accusing the Israelis of being behind the assassination of JFK. One of my interests on facebook is Syrian conspiracy theories. After arriving in Syria I wasn’t surprised by how many people said that the CIA was behind the massive suicide bombings in Baghdad and other parts of Iraq. After a while though, if it rained I got the sense that someone would tell me that it was the Israelis. Most surprising was when my tutor, who lived near Bab as-Salam, not too far from Bab Touma, was giving three of us students a lesson and told us that no jews showed up to work on 9-11. Of course, the story wasn’t very surprising as I’d heard it before from the shopkeepers on Sharia (street) Al-Kemarieh, but the fact that such a well educated and open-minded person could believe something so preposterous made me think about a few things.
——–

Majedkhaldoun:

You wrote:
“he is a spy,we should never believe him,or care about what he says,he lies,he is a zionist”

This is called an “ad hominem” attack. Here’s the definition:
“ad hominem (plural ad hominems)
1.(logical fallacy) A fallacious objection to an argument or factual claim by appealing to a characteristic or belief of the person making the argument or claim, rather than by addressing the substance of the argument or producing evidence against the claim; an attempt to argue against an opponent’s idea by discrediting the opponent himself.
2.A personal attack. ”
http://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/ad_hominem
Majed, it is very easy to discredit what someone is saying by attacking them as a person. Dictatorships frequently call people traitors when they want to crush domestic dissent. In this case, you call me a “liar” and a “zionist.” If you think that something I have said is factually incorrect please let me know and I will try to find a link to support it. Otherwise, I’d be happy to let you know if I’m mistaken. I have included links in a number of my posts to support the facts within them. Of course, this was done because I knew that given the tenor of some the discussions on this blog that someone might call me a “liar.” As far as me being a zionist, well I must say that I do believe in a two-state solution (which would imply the existence of Israel), but of course that is not what this is about. You disagree with my politics and of course anyone who does that or criticizes Syria must be “zionist.”

————–

Shai you wrote:
“But to naively suggest that certain nations should not attempt these capabilities while for others it’s okay is called “double standards.”

Shai in my initial post on Syria’s chemical weapons and nuclear program I wrote that the Assad regime (monarchy) certainly wasn’t risk averse. I wasn’t getting into whether they should or not pursue nuclear weapons, only that it is dangerous for them to do so.

Also, I never suggested that it is okay that the U.S. or China or any other country has nuclear weapons. However, not many people are talking about whether it is okay that the U.S. has nuclear weapons becuase this is irrelevant. They are a fait acompli. Once a country obtains nuclear weapons there is no turning back; countries do not give them up. Hence, there was no effort to get India and Pakistan to give up their nukes. But, the last thing we want is for their to be more countries in this world who have the ability to launch nuclear weapons at their neighbors (or their domestic population).

You also wrote:
“Your infatuation with “The Assad Family” is bizarre. Why aren’t you so concerned about “democratically-elected” leaders in Israel who are no less corrupt, who kill far more people (the Palestinians), and who subjugate and suffocate and control the fates of 4 million people under their rule, far worse than the Syrian regime does in Syria? I don’t recall Amnesty International giving Israel better “grades” on human rights abuse, when it comes to the Palestinians, than Syria got for its own citizens, do you?”

Shai this is a blog about Syria and its politics. Therefore, its leadership and the nature of the regime is central to many of the discussions that follow from the news that Josh provides us with. Israel is indirectly related to this blog.

——

Alia,

“You think a clueless student ignorant of the language and hanging around with other students and a few lost souls that he has described is more qualified than each one of us is to talk about Syria”

Please refrain from insulting me and our fellow commenters. It is very easy to dismiss me as a propagandist or as being ignorant, however, it might be more constructive to share your views with us rather than insult the intelligence of those with whom you disagree… I live in Syria for 10 months and can’t wait to go back. My friend in Syria that I’ve told you about may not have been the most sophisticated people or shared you views, but please don’t call them “lost souls” because they aren’t up to your standards. It is true that some of the people I met in Syria didn’t think that Lebanon ought to be a country, but anytime you travel you will find people with different political views. So, please don’t call my friends “lost souls.”

You also wrote:
“Syria and Syrians are the product of an old civilization that the like of you have no clue about”

It sounds like you are saying that because Syria has a rich history that it has nothing to learn from others. I worry that the pride that people have in their own country can prevent them from being able to engage in constructive criticism of how to improve things.

To get to the substance of what you are saying though, this old civilization that has existed in Syria was wiped out be the Arab invaders. The names of the months might predate the Arab conquest, but other than I woud say that much of what Syria is today is the result of Arab invaders.

—————————————

On a completely different note, I received an email from a student in Damascus in which he mentioned internet policing in Syria:
“Internet-censorship has been increased, and FB is one of the victims (and the number of cafés who defy the ban is also much smaller; mine here in Muhageriin abides by the law). You also have to show an ID and your details are registered.”

In the above FB is facebook.

Also there is an interesting article that was published in the economist magazine yesterday about the Golan Heights and the export of apples to Syria.

http://www.economist.com/world/mideast-africa/displaystory.cfm?story_id=13145039

February 20th, 2009, 1:44 pm

 

norman said:

تخفيض سعر الانترنت السريع ADSL بنسبة تتراوح بين 35 و40%

مجلس الشعب يقر قانون التوقيع الالكتروني وخدمات الشبكة

بيريس يكلف نتنياهو بتشكيل الحكومة القادمة

February 20th, 2009, 1:59 pm

 

Alia said:

Chris,

Every word that you have written on this blog is an insult to someone. Do not dare lecture me about how I describe you and the company you keep.

So ! the Arabs have wiped out the Syrian civilization! What new garbage are you planning to start stirring today? The Arab Muslims added another layer of a spiritual civilization that you have no access to. If you think you are going to start stirring racial, relgious and ethnic trouble now on this blog you are mistaken.

Interestingly, in your long response you did not deny being paid for the work you are doing here….little chris.

P.S. Alex this guy is trying to circumvent the limits of 6 posts a day by addressing one post to several people. So should this post be counted as 4 or 5 already for today ?

February 20th, 2009, 1:59 pm

 

Akbar Palace said:

Enlightened (this is disputable) said:

Is it just me or do I see a new Batman (AP) and Robin (chris) fighting for truth, justice and the AIPAC way? (Yawn)

I like the Star wars “Force” and “Dark Side” analogy a little better.;)

Misplaced Criticism, Example 36F

Tzippi Livni said:

“I will not be able to serve as a cover for a lack of direction. I want to lead Israel in a way I believe in, to advance a peace process based on two states for two peoples,” Livni said.

So after 3 years, Tzippi Livni and her party made no progress “to advance a peace process”, and instead, fought 2 wars.

Turn over the baton Tzippi, shut up, and blame those that deserve it.

http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20090220/ap_on_re_mi_ea/ml_israel_politics_21

The Ghosts of the NIE

Iran holds enough uranium for bomb
By Daniel Dombey in Washington

Published: February 19 2009 21:18 | Last updated: February 20 2009 00:51

Iran has built up a stockpile of enough enriched uranium for one nuclear bomb, United Nations officials acknowledged on Thursday.

In a development that comes as the Obama administration is drawing up its policy on negotiations with Tehran over its nuclear programme, UN officials said Iran had produced more nuclear material than previously thought.

February 20th, 2009, 3:02 pm

 

jad said:

I just discover the problem in the comments of people like AP, Chris and AIG, they all have no passion for anything they write, NONE, this is why when I read what they write it sounded robotic and framed with lots of rules and attacks that they really can’t go out of even they want, they can’t criticize israel on anything wrong it does, they can’t accept any kind of truth about Israel barbaric actions without being extremely defensive and start linking unrelated total propaganda quotes from the manual they use.
They can’t even accept that Syria has good and bright side supported by it’s long and rich history in all ages our human civilization history.
Those guys have no clue what a ‘Mlooki’ or ‘Rose water’ tastes like, they don’t know that holding a ‘Brocard’ in your hands you are touching history, enjoy the Mouazen call for prayer regardless of your religion as hearing a piece of an old classic music or hearing Gregorian chants walking by a church in the street.
Even when we try to discuss something important and productive about Syria one of them will through a provocative thought and statement that will derail the whole debate in different direction.
I just feel sorry for people when they have no consiec, heart, brain and soul to use for a better results in communicating and building trust with their enemy for a good future, or at least to understand the other side.
It’s also sad knowing that some student had the best opportunity of their lives to open his eyes, to learn form a different culture and live in Syria for a period of time without noticing that he is living in a real world away from his plastic one, instead he lives on the edge of the society learning nothing but useless, fruitless and superficial information about Syrians from a handful of people in the street and generalize it. What a waste!

February 20th, 2009, 4:18 pm

 

Chris said:

Alia,

You wrote:
“Every word that you have written on this blog is an insult to someone. Do not dare lecture me about how I describe you and the company you keep.”

If you feel that I have insulted you or someone on this blog please feel free to politely make me aware of that. The reason why I asked you not to insult me is because you wrote that I am “ingnorant,” a “propagandist,” a “mercenary,” and a “a clueless student” among other things. In sum this amounts to quite a relentless attack against me, which is clearly against the SC Rules “The comment section is monitored. Messages containing any of the following elements will not be tolerated: Personal attacks against other contributors; …” I have not used any such terms or anything similar to them in reference to you or any of our fellow commenters.. I would ask that you do the same and keep this political discussion civil.

“nobody is innocent in Israel”

Alia, this is a particularly dangerous statement as it is the rationale that Hamas uses to justify suicide bombings of civilians in Israel.

————————-

Enlightened,

You wrote:
“If one cannot put up a coherent argument lets go for the traditional below the belt “Honor Killings”, Arabs are barbarians, All muslims are crazy terrorists ( Enlightened yawns again)”

I really don’t want to go back over the “honor” killing issue, if only because it is a particularly disguisting topic, but apparently it is necessary for me to point out why the conversation ensued.

My reference to the practice of honor killings in Syria was not meant to characterize Syrians as barbarians (a term which has gone into disuse long ago). I know its an uncomfortable topic. I referred to honor killings in our discussion about international courts and the death penalty. A fellow commenter said that “we” apply the death penalty hence it ought to be applied by an international court. In mentioning honor killings I was trying to show that just because “we” do something does not mean that the international community would support it. Clearly, the international community does not support honor killing, but Syrian law does:

“Under Syrian law, an honor killing is not murder, and the man who commits it is not a murderer. As in many other Arab countries, even if the killer is convicted on the lesser charge of a “crime of honor,” he is usually set free within months. Mentioning the killing — or even the name of the victim — generally becomes taboo…“Article 192 states that if a man commits a crime with an ‘honorable motive,’ he will go free,” Mousa said. “In Western countries this law usually applies in cases where doctors kill their patients accidentally, intending to save them, but here the idea of ‘honorable motive’ is often expanded to include men who are seen as acting in defense of their honor.

“Article 242 refers to crimes of passion,” Mousa continued. “But it’s Article 548 that we’re really up against. Article 548 states precisely that if a man witnesses a female relative in an immoral act and kills her, he will go free.” Judges frequently interpret these laws so loosely that a premeditated killing — like the one Fayyez is accused of — is often judged a “crime of passion”; “witnessing” a female relative’s behavior is sometimes defined as hearing neighborhood gossip about it; and for a woman, merely speaking to a man may be ruled an “immoral act.”

http://www.nytimes.com/2007/09/23/magazine/23wwln-syria-t.html?_r=1&sq=honor%20killing&st=cse&scp=4&pagewanted=print

————————–

Alex,

I get the sense that if I agreed with your political views you would not limit my ability to comment on this site. After all, other people have engaged in personal attacks against me, a clear violation of the SC Rules, without any limitation on their ability to comment. Furthermore, the only other person I know of who has been banned from this site or limited in their ability to comment is an Israeli. It’s hard for me to believe that political views are not playing a part in your decision to limit people’s ability to comment on this site. Is there a relationship, perhaps even a small one, between my political views and the fact that you are limiting my ability to comment on this forum?

February 20th, 2009, 4:44 pm

 

jad said:

Chris, Let it go, you are getting annoying and reppetative.
If you have something interesting and productive to write about go ahead if not just don’t write.

February 20th, 2009, 4:58 pm

 

nafdik said:

Chris,

First I agree that there no benefit or need to discredit you as a person and to question your motives.

You could be the devil himself (are you?), but your ideas have to be judged on their own merit.

I find some of your contributions interesting especially when you provide new data points on the topics at hand.

However, I find your style of commenting distracting, as you jump from subject to another without relevance to the topics at hand creating a lot of white noise.

If you could focus your energy and resourcefulness to the topic discussed, you will make this comment section much more rewarding.

February 20th, 2009, 5:10 pm

 

Alia said:

Nafdik,

Now that is an interesting twist my friend!

You have insisted that we should all acknowledge day and night that our country is ruled by a dictator, that that is an important step in our reality testing…. but when someone behaves in a systematically outrageous way, you do not see the benefit of pointing that out to him? I thought that is part of reality.

What little Chris calls insults, I call facts. You walk like a duck, quack like a duck… you are a duck.

Chris,

Hamas does not take their ideology from me, I am entitled to my own assessment and I will not have you censor me by the Zionist brainless vocabulary : anti-semite, Hamas supporter, holocaust denier…

February 20th, 2009, 5:18 pm

 

nafdik said:

Alia,

the point is not whether they are insults or facts.

The point is that readers of the blog do not care about the motives of a student in Italy. They should be interested, however, in the motives of the Syrian president.

Ad-hominem attacks are another example of white noise that reduce the value of the comment section.

I will not comment any more on the topic to avoid creating white noise about the white noise.

February 20th, 2009, 5:42 pm

 

jad said:

Nafdik, (my 2 cents worth of white noise) 🙂

I agree with Alia on this and I notice that you always want to be politically correct and you try to be polite and don’t like to confront anybody on any issue, I think that is cool, however, when things are wrong we definitely have to point them out and speak out about them without having our politeness taking over our judgment.

CAN WE ALL PLEAS STOP DISCUSSING WHAT CHRIS IS OR WHAT WE THINK OF HIM.
From my side even if his girlfriend or boyfriend ‘honor-killing’ him I frankly don’t care, it’s not on my list.
What I know very well is that he put himself in this situation and he deserves it, yet he is still digging. I guess he never heard this say:
When you find yourself in a hole, stop digging.
-Will Rogers..
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Will_Rogers

Moving on:
بعد الموافقة الأمريكية على تعمير طائرتين..سورية تدرس احتمال شراء طائرات بوينغ أمريكية
http://www.syria-news.com/readnews.php?sy_seq=90898

اليونسكو تصنف منطقة اللجاة في السويداء كأول محمية إنسان ومحيط حيوي
http://www.syria-news.com/readnews.php?sy_seq=90893
Hopefully the government notice the important of such issue and create more biosphere reserves allover Syria.

February 20th, 2009, 6:07 pm

 

Chris said:

Nafdik,

Thank you for your constructive criticism. I will try to keep it in mind when writing and will make an effort to focus my writing on the topic being discussed.

Alia,

It doesn’t matter whether the insults are true or not. It is not appropriate on a blog about politics to be attacking people by calling them: “ignorant,” a “propagandist,” a “mercenary,” and “a clueless student” among other things.

You wrote:
“Hamas does not take their ideology from me, I am entitled to my own assessment and I will not have you censor me by the Zionist brainless vocabulary : anti-semite, Hamas supporter, holocaust denier…”

Please do not put words into my mouth. I did not suggest that you are an anti-semite, Hamas supporter, or a holocaust denier.

You had written “nobody is innocent in Israel.” I guess I needed to be more clear. I was trying to convey that this is dangerous because it comes very close to saying that everyone in Israel is a legitimate target. After all, if no one is innocent, then they are all guilty. In an effort to show why this is dangerous I said that this is the reasoning that Hamas uses to justify its suicide bombings against Israeli civilians.

To illustrate why views that allow civilians to be used in warfare is dangerous I’d like to leave you with this chilling quote:
“For the Palestinian people death became an industry, at which women excel and so do all people on this land: the elderly excel, the Jihad fighters excel, and the children excel. Accordingly [Palestinians] created a human shield of women, children, the elderly and the Jihad fighters against the Zionist bombing machine, as if they were saying to the Zionist enemy: We desire death as you desire life.”
[Al-Aqsa TV (Hamas) Feb. 29, 2008]
Hamas representative Fathi Hamad
——————————–

Jad,

I agree I should not be the topic of conversation on this blog.
———————————-

One thing that interests me is how people feel about Syria’s relationship with Iran. I remember talking to my Iraqi tutor in Syria about Iran’s nuclear ambitions, while he didn’t approve of Israel’s posession of nuclear weapons, he was concerned that if Iran developed nuclear weapons that it could use them against Arabs. More to the point though, is the fact that as Iran rises as a regional power and it obtains nuclear weapons tensions between it an the Arab states will grow. Adjustments in the regional power structure will occur. So, all this leads me to wonder about the potential for Syrians to see a conflict between Syria’s foreign policy, that is its ties to Iran, and their loyalty to the wider Arab nation. After all the state purports to be guided by an Arab nationalist party. Perhaps, today Syrians accept this relationship out of necessity, but if there comes a day when there is near unanimous opposition to Iran’s ambitions in the Arab world I wonder if this would change.

February 20th, 2009, 6:49 pm

 

Akbar Palace said:

JAD said:

If you have something interesting and productive to write about go ahead if not just don’t write.

JAD,

What do you think would be “interesting and productive”?

Nafdik said:

If you could focus your energy and resourcefulness to the topic discussed, you will make this comment section much more rewarding.

Which topic was Chris not focused on?

Alia said:

and I will not have you censor me by the Zionist brainless vocabulary : anti-semite, Hamas supporter, holocaust denier…

Alia,

Can you please post a link showing that Chris used the vocabulary “anti-semite” or “Holocaust denier” against you?

As far as “Hamas supporter” goes, why don’t you clarify that for us? Do you or do you not “support” Hamas?

Thanks.

February 20th, 2009, 7:06 pm

 

Nour said:

Chris,

I don’t believe there will ever be a near-unanimous opposition to Iran’s nuclear program in the Arab World. I also don’t believe that you can prevent someone from developing a nuclear program in a hypocritical fashion. In other words, you can’t allow and even encourage “Israel” to possess over 300 nuclear warheads but expect to prevent everyone else in the region from attempting to advance in the nuclear field. If you are opposed to a nuclear arms race in the Middle East, then you need to apply your standard equally to all. Otherwise, you are merely a hypocrite holding such a position for devious intentions.

As for the Arab World, they cannot expect to stop Iran from becoming stronger and more advanced. If they wish to confront Iran’s power, then they need to work on advancing themselves. The problem with many Arab regimes right now is that they are puppets of the US, and thus are opposing Iran’s program not out of concern for their countries, but rather by orders from the US government. The majority of the people in the Arab World actually hold the view that Iran has a right to acquire nuclear weapons so long as “Israel” is allowed to do so.

February 20th, 2009, 7:29 pm

 

Alex said:

I hope no one will waste more energy analyzing Chris. And we should not call him names beyond propagandist because there is zero doubt that he is.

If you want to call him “ignorant” then please restrict it to the cases when you can provide a correction to something that he claimed as a fact, not an opinion. He is entitled to his own opinions as long as he starts with “in my opinion”.

Chris, this is getting boring, you have been digging dirt right left and center for too long now. If you don’t mind, we need a break from your choice of “hot topics” for few days.

Let’s switch to Israel.

Your comedians in Israel came up with a very funny segment during which they made fun of everything Christians consider sacred. The editors and managers found the segment safe enough to show on the air. Why? … again because your favorite baby country and it friends in the US have no shame … calling President Jimmy carter an anti-semite while taking the liberty to do such a thing.

I am not personally upset … I do have a sense of humor. But for AIG and Akbar who linked a thousand times to old stories about alleged anti-semitism in Syria, I will spare us all the time it takes to discuss those claims and I will delete any links in the future that do not amount to this level of bad taste on Syrian National television.

Of course the Vatican was promised that the segment will not be aired again (which they were not planning to anyway).

Vatican irked by ‘blasphemous’ Virgin Mary TV spoof in Israel
By Jack Khoury and The Associated Press
Tags: Holocaust, Pope, Israel News

The Vatican said Friday it has formally complained to the Israeli government about an Israeli TV show that ridiculed Jesus and Mary in an offensive act of intolerance.

The Israeli foreign ministry said the segment wouldn’t be shown again and that its host, well-known Israeli comedian Lior Shlein, had apologized.

In the program, Shlein sarcastically denied Christian traditions – that Mary was a virgin and that Jesus walked on water – saying he was doing so as a lesson to Christians who deny the Holocaust.
Advertisement
It was a reference to the Vatican’s recent lifting of the excommunication of a bishop who denied 6 million Jews were killed during World War II. The rehabilitation sparked outrage among Jews.

A statement from the Vatican press office said its representative in Israel complained to the government about the segment, which was broadcast recently on private Channel 10, one of Israel’s three main TV stations, during Shlein’s late-night comedy talk show.

In the clip, the Vatican said, Mary and Joseph were ridiculed with blasphemous words and images that amounted to a vulgar and offensive act of intolerance toward the religious sentiments of the believers in Christ.

In the show, Mary is said to have become pregnant at 15, thanks to a schoolmate. It said Jesus could never have walked on water because he was so fat he was ashamed to leave the house, let alone go to the Sea of Galilee with a bathing suit.

February 20th, 2009, 7:52 pm

 

nafdik said:

Alex,

This is amazing news. I think wide distribution of the clip could wake up some of the moronic Christian Zionists to the incoherence of their beliefs.

Surprisingly, it is only available with Arabic subtitles, where is MEMRI when you need them?

February 20th, 2009, 8:08 pm

 

Alex said:

Nafdik,

I have no problem with MEMRI … it has a clear objective and it does not distort the facts or add its own spin.

Where is the Arab version of MEMRI?

I am convinced that if there is no genuine advances towards peace within the next year, there will be much more intelligent and organized P.R. efforts from Syria.

February 20th, 2009, 8:27 pm

 

jad said:

FFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFF
I’m seriously annoyed of all the wrong, primitive and misleading assumptions people are writing on here out purely on their one conversation with someone as dump as they are.
SC is not an info centre neither a propaganda stage, if you wonder that much about everything then go and research it don’t bug us with your wondering and derailing issues.
How is Iran nuclear subject and Syria stands for that related in anyway with all the mishmash stuff we’ve been bombard with for the last three days, haven’t you read about the Iraq-Iran war when Syria stands with Iran against all the Arabs????
I had enough I’m not wasting a word on writing anything useful until I read something smart from someone smart.
I LEAVE SC IN THE HANDS OF AP, CHRIS and all their gangs, enjoy!

February 20th, 2009, 10:23 pm

 

Chris said:

Nour,
I guess my question is this:
Assuming that Iran continues to grow in strength, Arab states will become increasingly uneasy about its growing influence in the region. Iran will assert power and they will resist their diminishing role.

If there is a clear conflict between the Arab world and Iran, would the Syrian regime have difficulty sustaining the relationship with Iran? In other words, I wonder how the regime could reconcile a conflict between its Arab nationalist ideology with being tied to Iran when the rest of the Arab world is opposing the assertion of influence by Iran. This pits people’s Arab identity against their concern for Syria’s interests as a state. Ultimately, the state will choose what is in its best interests, regardless of its Arab nationalist rhetoric, but this would highlight the empty nature of that rhetoric, and therefore the regime whose very legitimacy rests on Arab nationlism.

——

Alex,

To argue against claims (by AIG and Akbar you say) that there is anti-semitism in Syrian media you have shown us a comedian in a different country saying offensive things about christianity. The video you’ve shown us, of course, is not a product of Syrian media but of Israeli media. If I tried to tell you that the Chinese media is not anti-Japanese, would it make sense to start showing you videos produced in Japan? So, how does this video teach us anything about Syrian media?

Perhaps you are saying that because you could find a comedian in Israel making a joke about Christianity that we shouldn’t be worried about anti-semitism in the Syrian media. In much the same way, this doesn’t make much sense. One has very little to do with the other. The telling of a joke by a comedian about christianity in Israel doesn’t really answer any important questions about anti-semitism in Syrian media. How common are anti-semitic statements in Syrian media? Do these statements legitimize violence? Is there any relationship in the timing between anti-semitic statements in the media and major regional political events? None of these questions or any other questions about anti-semitism in the Syrian media are answered by your video which was taken in Israel. In fact, I would venture to say, that that video has very little, if anything, to do with the issue that you brought up, anti-semitism in Syrian media. Most importantly, I don’t see the relevance of this video to the topic of this blog, Syria.

February 20th, 2009, 10:43 pm

 

Enlightened said:

Akbar Said:

51. Akbar (This is very disputable) Palace said:

Enlightened (this is disputable) said:

Is it just me or do I see a new Batman (AP) and Robin (chris) fighting for truth, justice and the AIPAC way? (Yawn)

I like the Star wars “Force” and “Dark Side” analogy a little better.;)

Yes Your memory is quite good I pulled that one on you two years ago!

Lets be clear however enlightened or not I do not take solace in the company you keep with your new friends , here, whatever credibility you had with some of us here, and i for one don’t mind you , is evaporating fast!

February 20th, 2009, 11:03 pm

 

Alex said:

Well Chris I’m sure you don’t see the relation of this video and Syria… you don’t know that there are two million Syrian Christians who are insulted by your arrogant country Israel? You don’t see that your country is an enemy of Syria that is trying to use robots like you to tarnish Syria’s reputation?

I’ll be clearer:

– As long as Israel gives itself a right to kill 1330 Palestinians and a similar number of Lebanese, then the Arabs have a right to reciprocate and I don’t think we need to engage in your discussions here about Palestinian terror that led to three Israeli civilians dead before we discuss three hundred times more often Israel’s terror.

– As long as Israelis (and this is not a comedian who wrote something on his personal blog, but a TV show that goes through editing and production) feel it is proper for them to respond to a Bishop at the Vatican with again, non proportional attack in which Jesus and his mother are turned into filth, then the Arabs in the future have the right to imitate Israel … it will be perfectly acceptable (and not a problem that you or AIG should bother us with here) if a Lebanese Christian on TV pissed on sacred Jewish symbols.

Of course that insult should be followed by a promise to not repeat that show again (like Israel promised) and everything would be fine, right?

Think priorities Chris … the priority is to deal with the party who recently killed thousands of poor civilians .. the priority is to discuss how Israel feels above evey one and everything on earth … from Jesus and Mary .. to its closest friends US President George Bush who your Prime Minister was proud to tell his audience that he ordered him off the podium and he ordered US secretary of state to abandon the UN resolution she sponsored …

Israel is a sick and dangerous country. Let us discuss its various sicknesses before we discuss what happened to the Kurds in Syria in 1962.

The past week you have been pushing Syria’s illnesses here non stop. Next 7 days we will only discuss Israel’s illnesses and then the week after you can come back and tell us which one is more dangerous.

This is not another garbage Likud-friendly blog Chris … and we will not allow you to turn it into one.

You try one more time to kick the ball back into Syria’s court and you will be banned for a week.

February 20th, 2009, 11:03 pm

 

Alex said:

Alwatan newspaper says the Saudis will send a new ambassador to Damascus soon and that he will be close to King Abdullah.

مقرب من الملك ويتوج مشروع المصالحة: سفير سعودي جديد إلى دمشق في وقت قريب جداً
طباعة أرسل لصديق
الوطن السورية
19/ 02/ 2009
أكدت مصادر دبلوماسية عربية في العاصمة دمشق أن الملك السعودي عبد اللـه بن عبد العزيز سيرسل سفيراً له إلى دمشق في «وقت قريب جداً».
وقالت هذه المصادر لـ«الوطن» إن قرار الملك السعودي يأتي بعد التطورات الأخيرة في مشروع المصالحة السورية السعودية وتوقعت أن يكون السفير الجديد من المقربين للملك.
وأضافت المصادر أنه من المرجح أن يصدر أمر ملكي بتعيين السفير السعودي في سورية بالتزامن مع تعيين سفير للملكة في بيروت بعد أن شغر المنصب نتيجة مغادرة السفير عبد العزيز خوجة إلى الرياض لتسلم مهامه وزيراً للإعلام.

February 20th, 2009, 11:10 pm

 

Alex said:

Another move towards opening the border between Syria and Turkey.

بتوجيه من الرئيس الأسد…إلغاء الرسم على وسائط النقل التركية الداخلة إلى سورية
طباعة أرسل لصديق
الوطن السورية
19/ 02/ 2009
أكد وزير النقل الدكتور يعرب بدر مساء أمس وخلال اجتماع عقده مع وزير التجارة التركي كورشاد توزمان في وزارة النقل أنه وبتوجيه من السيد الرئيس بشار الأسد لدعم العلاقات الاقتصادية السورية التركية والتعاون المشترك فقد صدر القرار رقم 316 من قبل وزارتي النقل والمالية القاضي بتعديل الرسم المستوفى عن وسائط نقل البضائع التركية الفارغة أو المحملة الداخلة أو الخارجة من أراضي الجمهورية العربية السورية والتي يكون مقصدها سورية ليصبح الرسم صفراً شريطة تطبيق مبدأ المعاملة بالمثل.
من جهته الوزير التركي كورشاد توزمان أكد أن الإعفاء من هذا الرسم مطبق في تركيا على وسائط النقل السورية الداخلة والخارجة إلى تركيا بموجب الاتفاقيات الموقعة والتي التزمت بها تركيا.

February 20th, 2009, 11:13 pm

 

majedkhaldoun said:

ban him, ban him

February 20th, 2009, 11:13 pm

 

Alex said:

According to Quds Press, there will be a new Syrian opposition satellite tv station that will not this time represent the Muslim Brotherhood nor Abdul Halim Khaddam and is not financed by the United States or Saudi Arabia.

فضائية سورية جديدة تمثل المعارضة العلمانية في الداخل
طباعة أرسل لصديق
قدس برس
19/ 02/ 2009
نقلت وكالة “قدس برس” عن قيادي في تجمع إعلان دمشق المعارض، أن قناة “الكرامة” الفضائية التي أعلن التجمع عن قرب إطلاقها، ستكون بمثابة المنتدى الإعلامي للمعارضة “الديمقراطية العلمانية” في سورية ولن تكون منبراً للإخوان المسلمين أو لجبهة الخلاص التي يتزعمها نائب الرئيس السوري السابق، عبد الحليم خدام، كما لن تكون ناطقة باسم تجمع إعلان دمشق نفسه.
ونفى عضو لجنة تجمع إعلان دمشق، عبد الحميد الأتاسي، لـ “قدس برس” أن تكون القناة “منتجاً سعودياً أو أمريكياً” مؤكداً أنها “جهد سوري خالص فكرة ودعماً مالياً” وقال الأتاسي أن من يقف وراءها هم رجال أعمال سوريون، ولولا الظروف الأمنية لكانوا أعلنوا عن أسمائهم.
وأكد الأتاسي في حديثه أن القناة تدافع عن “الصوت الديمقراطي في الداخل” معتبراً أن الإخوان المسلمين ليسوا جزءاً من تلك الأصوات وبالتالي القناة لن تكون صوتاً لهم؛ فهم بحسب الأتاسي “يغرِّدون لوحدهم دائماً وهم غير موجودين في الداخل ولا في المجلس الوطني لتجمع إعلان دمشق”. وأضاف أن القناة “ستحتضن التيار الإسلامي الديمقراطي في الداخل” وذكر منهم (أحمد طعمة وعلي العبد الله ويوسف النجار وآخرين)
وكان موقع إعلان دمشق أعلن في موقعه على شبكة الانترنت أن قناة الكرامة ستنطلق قريباً وستكون “منبراً حراً للشعب السوري الوطني الباحث عن الديمقراطية”.

February 20th, 2009, 11:16 pm

 

SimoHurtta said:

This Israeli TV program shows that the nation has lately lost completely its self-preservation sense, the rest what was left. Israel and Jews in general do not allow anybody criticise Judaism and especially not allow anybody to speak about the Holocaust in a way which differs from the official storyline. They should understand that this kind of a “joking” is political dynamite. They seem to want to loose the last support base they have, the really religious Christians.

In Finland and I suppose in most European countries such a provocative “joking” with other peoples religion in public media like TV would lead to extremely harsh legal sanctions. Not obviously in Israel.

I can imagine if some Arab media would have been broadcasting such a “jokes”. It would have been number one news for a long time in pro-Israeli media to show what kind of people Arabs are. Well now the story, when Jews did it, the media coverage most probably is silenced so fast as possible.

I hope that somebody fast translates this video clip to English and takes care it is available. I suppose that it would vanish fast from youTube when it would have English texts.

Where is the Arab version of MEMRI?

Alex I have for a long time wondered that Arabs (and Palestinians) do not have equal counter propaganda “equipments” as the pro-Israeli side has. Surely it is not depending from the lack of money and know-how. The Arab version of MEMRI should be in English and collect and publish data about what Israel media and society speaks and how Israel and its supporters use the media to influence its own and western public.

February 20th, 2009, 11:18 pm

 

Alex said:

Simohurtta,

You are right .. it is not expensive and it is doable. There will be effective Arab (Syrian) P.R. efforts in the future if we don’t convince Israel this year that peace is in Israel’s best interest.

And it will be different from Israel’s (Likud’s) efforts … ours will be geared towards promoting peace, not towards justifying war and war crimes.

February 20th, 2009, 11:26 pm

 

nafdik said:

Alex,

“This is not another garbage Likud-friendly blog Chris … and we will not allow you to turn it into one.

You try one more time to kick the ball back into Syria’s court and you will be banned for a week.”

I can see a number of reasons to ban Chris. But banning him using the logic you provide is basically censorship and will tarnish the reputation of this blog.

February 20th, 2009, 11:32 pm

 

Alex said:

No Nafdik,

Chris and AIG before him know what they are doing … we had statistics that showed AIG was by far the most frequent contributor to Syria comment.

This is not logical, is it?

Nafdik, AIG succeeded through his relentless and skilled methodology in making this comments section a real mess. Chris, if you have not noticed, is starting to do the same this week.

I asked him to take one week off criticizing Syria because the past week he got all of you involved in his various “syria is sick” threads.

He can come back next week to criticizing Syria. It is fair … it is like: last week he spent too much onhis credit card, next week he pays it because he reached his credit limit, and then he can spend again.

Here is evidence how they flood this comments section with their propaganda:

http://joshualandis.com/blog/?p=765

February 20th, 2009, 11:39 pm

 

SimoHurtta said:

Hmmmmm do the US Christian pro-Israelis know this?

Survey: Most Jewish Israelis do not want more churches in Jerusalem

February 20th, 2009, 11:41 pm

 

nafdik said:

Alex,

Would you apply the same rules to those who defend Syria? How about those who attack Israel or the US?

As an avid reader of your blog, I find all these varieties equally annoying.

As I said if you banned Chris because of his comment frequency or because the comments are of irrelevant nature or show a disruptive pattern, it would make sense.

But banning him because of his opinion is a slippery slope.

I find this blog an extremely valuable resource, and I appreciate all your work, but I am not with you on this one.

February 20th, 2009, 11:47 pm

 

norman said:

Alex,

Chris should be asked to write something critical of Israel for every comment critical of Syria , I am sure with his knowledge he can find something like segregation , discrimination against non Jews in employment or education, I am sure he can find something ,to write about Israel , That is only fair and balance.

For every positive note about Syria and constructive opinion about how to improve things in syria in any field he feels he can help in , he will earn an extra comment for that day.

By the way where is Aussama and ford prefect ? .

February 21st, 2009, 12:39 am

 

Alex said:

Norman,

Ausamaa and Ford Prefect might be among those who gave up writing here because AIG monopolized the blog … same with George Ajjan and others (like Zenobia) who told me they are not interested anymore to engage in the childish challenges of AIG…

Dear Nafdik

Please try to understand that I do have important things to take care of outside this blog. I am not paid to moderate and I appreciate it if everyone can read, understand and respect the rules and regulations of the blog (#3 specifically)

Chris is not being banned .. he is warned to take it easy for few days because *officially* (and forget the other reason I gave Chris), as you suggested, the frequency and relevance of his comments have seriously reduced the quality of the comments section. you are not the one receiving emails from other readers complaining, but I think you can read here what some (like Alia, Jad, Simo, Norman) have said about Chris … when everyone had enough then I will take action, and I hope I don’t have to spend two hours after justifying to each person why.

There is no slippery road here .. your opinion is very different from mine and I never made you feel not welcome here. Same applies to Trustquest and others who are not fans of “dictatorship” in Syria.

Bus those who are here full time to disrupt everything, I will tolerate them for a while until it is not practical or reasonable anymore.

and yes this applies to those who get on your nerves (those who do not hate dictatorship) … but can you tell me who else is here acting like a full time trouble maker like Chris? .. i will be happy to ban him.

February 21st, 2009, 1:05 am

 

Enlightened said:

Alex, please release my comment from the spam filter.

February 21st, 2009, 1:22 am

 

Chris said:

Alex,

My last comment was not about Syria it was about Syria Comment. It didn’t violate any of the rules. It was my sixth comment of the day, hence within your limit. So, please release it from the spam filter.

Thanks

February 21st, 2009, 1:25 am

 

Alex said:

Nafdik,

Since you are for democracy .. can you estimate (from reading everyone’s comments above) where the majority of our readers lie on this question? : )

And let me copy for you from the link I provided above, some samples so that you might understand that there is no slippery road and why some people are banned and others (who attack Israel as you suggested) are not:

Frequency of Comments (per day)

1. AnotherIsraeliGuy = 8.6

5. Alex = 3.2 (half of them as a moderator)

16. Nour = 0.8

17. SimoHurrta = 0.8

When Simohurtta leaves ten times more comments then I will warn him and then maybe ban him.

February 21st, 2009, 1:29 am

 

Alex said:

Enlightened,

I checked there are no comments in the spam filter. Please try again.

Chris,

I deleted you last comment because I don’t feel like responding for a third time in a row to your repeated insinuation that I am targeting you because I disagree with your politics.

If you are not convinced please write me an email or send it to Joshua. This is not the place to discuss you.

February 21st, 2009, 1:34 am

 

Chris said:

It is now February 21st according to GMT, the time that Syria comment uses, hence I believe I am now allowed to commment.

“You try one more time to kick the ball back into Syria’s court and you will be banned for a week.”

I have got to say that it is a strange situation when there is a limit to how much one can discuss or critique the policies of the government of Syria when writing on a blog called Syria Comment.

Alex,
You wrote:
“I don’t feel like responding”

No need to respond Alex, just please don’t delete my posts critiquing your moderation.

[Alex: Chris: you basically want to keep repeating the same criticism of my moderation until I am sick of responding so that you can have the last word. the same approach you try in trying to monopolize the discussion here through your ability to be here full time (being “a student”) that most of us can not match… Sorry … You can’t do that .. you don’t like it … go elsewhere .. since this is “a Syria blog” as you said

And remember .. being limited to 6 comments per day is almost double my personal average number of daily comments last year did you notice that? … so you are allowed to post twice as many comments as I, the moderator of this blog, do]

February 21st, 2009, 2:13 am

 

norman said:

Alex,

I think SC should request registration from the people who want to write on syria comment with all information that you need to be able to know who they are ,

We all should remember that we are guests in DR Landis Living room and we should act as such.

Things that we do and give bad impression of Syria comments should be taken off by the people who write these comments.

What we write tell things about us so we should be civilized and respectful of the forum that we are invited to write on.

And that is my take.

February 21st, 2009, 2:23 am

 

Jad said:

Alex wrote couple interesting articles, they sound interesting to discuss;

1-http://joshualandis.com/blog/?p=2200&cp=all#comment-225770
Syria-KSA relations…
Didn’t Damascus have a Saudi Embassador already?
Why do you think putting a King close person in that position will benefit the relations?

2-http://joshualandis.com/blog/?p=2200&cp=all#comment-225771
Opening the border between Syria and Turkey:
Ehsani, do you think that decision is considered as a good or bad for our economy?
related:
http://www.sana.sy/ara/2/2009/02/19/213627.htm
وزير النقل: تسيير قطار بين حلب وغازي عنتاب قريب

3-http://joshualandis.com/blog/?p=2200&cp=all#comment-225773
New Syrian opposition satellite tv station
That is something great to hear, at least we are not going to be driven by religion but by secular and open minded approach.

I wonder what Syrians think of that?

Any interesting and constructive ideas?

Terrible lost

وفاة احد رجال الاطفاء خلال إخماد حريق في سوق الخضيرية الاثري خلف سوق مدحت باشا في دمشق القديمة
دمشق..
توفي احد عناصر الاطفاء واصيب اخرون بجروح طفيفة اثناء قيام وحدات اطفاء دمشق باخماد حريق هائل اندلع ظهر أمس في سوق الخضيرية الاثري خلف سوق مدحت باشا في دمشق القديمة.
وكان حريق اندلع ظهر أمس في مبنى تجاري باسم وكالة السيروان يضم 24 محلا تجاريا يملكها عدد من المواطنين ولم تعرف بعد أسباب الحريق التي يتم التحقيق لكشفها.
إلا ان الخبير في الوقاية من الحوادث محمد الكسم رجح أن أسباب الحريق تعود إلى ماس كهربائي مشيرا إلى أن أغلبية المحلات التجارية في هذه المناطق مبنية من اللبن والخشب سريع الاشتعال وهناك إهمال لشروط الوقاية والإنذار المبكر فيها إضافة الى قدم وسوء التمديدات الكهربائية.
ولفت الكسم إلى ضرورة وجود شبكة انذار مبكر للحريق لاسلكية ترتبط مباشرة بعمليات الاطفاء في هذه المناطق للتمكن من الوصول إلى الحريق بأسرع وقت ممكن قبل ان يتوسع وتصعب السيطرة عليه داعيا لاحداث شبكة مياه مخصصة للإطفاء تعمل على مدار الساعة وتؤمن فوهات تطلق رذاذ الماء اليا بمجرد حصول أي حريق مشيرا إلى ان منطقة دمشق القديمة تتعرض لحرائق مماثلة يصعب السيطرة عليها لنفس الأسباب السابقة.
وشارك في اخماد الحريق الذي استمر أكثر من أربع ساعات 20 الية من جميع اجهزة الاطفاء المركزية بدمش

February 21st, 2009, 2:49 am

 

jad said:

This is smart trick of the government to do, realy smart: Food for education!
http://syria-news.com/edu/readnews.php?sy_seq=26658
بدء برنامج التعليم الغذائي لتقديم الغذاء للطلاب وأسرهم في خمس محافظات
المدارس

تشكيل لجان مركزية ومحلية لضمان مراقبة البرنامج
بدأت وزارة التربية بتطبيق برنامج “مشروع التغذية من أجل التعليم” للحد من تسرب التلاميذ من مدارس المحافظات الشمالية والشرقية شرط أن يحقق الطالب نسبة 80% من الدوام.

Nice:
http://www.sana.sy/ara/83/2009/02/18/213261.htm
>العلم السوري يرفرف في أهم شوارع برشلونة

February 21st, 2009, 2:58 am

 

norman said:

Jad,

We went to Spain in 2007, These people there are more proud of their Arabic heritage than some Lebanese!, sorry QN.not you.

February 21st, 2009, 3:10 am

 

Akbar Palace said:

Various responses, wasting more Time

Lets be clear however enlightened or not I do not take solace in the company you keep with your new friends , here, whatever credibility you had with some of us here, and i for one don’t mind you, is evaporating fast!

Enlightened,

The only like-minded participants here (aka “friends”) are Chris and AIG, but I don’t understand how they can hurt my credibility. I think they’re both very articulate and knowledgable.

In Chris’s case, I’m finding he’s being countered with emotion, disdain, disgust, and anger, but very little in the way of a cogent counter-argument.

Perhaps we need Professor Josh to join in. I know that might be “beneath” him, but I just think we need the insight of a real, honest-to-goodness Middle East expert and professor at this time. A pro-Israel gentile who is more familiar with the nuances of the ME is bad PR.

Majedkhaldoun said:

ban him, ban him

Spoken like a true Baathist.

Sim said:

Hmmmmm do the US Christian pro-Israelis know this?

Sim,

Apparently you don’t know too many US Christian pro-Israelis.

I take it you don’t “get out much”. There are millions of them.

Why don’t you ask them?

http://www.mediatransparency.org/story.php?storyID=116

http://www.lightbeaconministries.com/Christmas2004ltr.pdf

http://www.worldnetdaily.com/news/article.asp?ARTICLE_ID=28152

Nafdik said:

As I said if you banned Chris because of his comment frequency or because the comments are of irrelevant nature or show a disruptive pattern, it would make sense.

But banning him because of his opinion is a slippery slope.

I find this blog an extremely valuable resource, and I appreciate all your work, but I am not with you on this one.

Nafdik, Alex,

If you need to ban someone, ban me. Chris has more patience and knowledge than I do.

BTW – I also find this blog an extremely valuable resource and I also appreciate the owners for allowing me to participate (and sometimes vent).

Anyway, back to politics…

Get used to hearing the term “HARD-LINE” every time you hear news about Israel, and more specifically, every time you hear Benjamin Netanyahu’s name uttered.

The word “HARD-LINE” and “NETANYAHU” always get sanwiched together like peanut butter and jelly. Even Fox News has gotten back onto the same old bandwagon.

February 21st, 2009, 3:22 am

 

Jad said:

Never been to Spain, but it must be great.
So what do you think of the KSA story? New ambassador? let’s see what he can do?
And what about the New Secular opposition party TV that must be interesting to see.

February 21st, 2009, 3:31 am

 

Alex said:

Jad

I think King Abdullah needs to concentrate on rearranging few things in Saudi Arabia now that his brother Prince Sultan is dying. It seems the king wants his son to take over.

I think he made peace with Syria to be able to concentrate on his internal affairs.

Also, he realizes the Bush/Cheney administration is gone and America’s relations with the leading Arab states (KSA, Egypt, Syria) might be more balanced in the future.

As for the opposition TV station .. sounds promising. I hope they learned from the mistakes of the other “opposition” projects. It sounds like they did .. they are making it clear this will be secular … not financed by Saudi or American parties …etc.

I hope this is not a superficial understanding on their part. Because it will be very clear what they really believe in as soon as you spend a couple of days watching them.

Akbar Palace,

No one needs to be banned … All Chris needs to do is to take a couple of days off, then come back and participate moderately … not 15 comments per day.

He needs to understand that most people here will not want to spend another week obliging him and his choice of topics full time like they did this past week.

February 21st, 2009, 3:45 am

 

jad said:

Alex,
I’m not sure about the real intention behind this 180degree changes in the KSA strategy toward Syria, It feels that there is a new approach happening form the international communities toward Syria. I agree that the KSA king is looking ahead and he knows very well that loosing the support of Syria will get him nothing of important in return
To be frank, it was obvious that Syria is the smart and mature player in the middle east. I also believe that Qatar catch the important role of Syria quickly and use it.
My only concerns is that, why most countries get the advantage and benefits of being Syria’s friend while Syria gets nothing in return?

Regarding the opposition TV plan, I really hope that they can be more honest with higher stander than all the opposition we knew so far. That would be a great gain for all of us.

February 21st, 2009, 4:05 am

 

Enlightened said:

90. Akbar Palace said:

“Various responses, wasting more Time”

——————————————————————–

I see that you have had a moment of clarity here! That is the point, first it was AIG, now its Chris.

There are many here that have left SC, and some of us who started to moderate their input, and some who just now simply read the post and the arguments, but refrain from contributing.

“Perhaps we need Professor Josh to join in. I know that might be “beneath” him, but I just think we need the insight of a real, honest-to-goodness Middle East expert and professor at this time. A pro-Israel gentile who is more familiar with the nuances of the ME is bad PR.”

We don’t get paid to contribute here, for some of us, its a “hobby”, but a novice “pro israeli gentile” (sounds condescending to me) does not get familiar with the nuances in the Mid east after spending 8 months in a Arab country.Rather generalizations and uninformed opinions , and racial bating are all I have heard. I can forgive the mistakes and the corrections he has made, we all aren’t perfect.

Articulate in your books sure! Bloody orientalist if you ask me!

——————————————–

“Get used to hard line and Netanyahu together”

Heard the Same thing about Begin! ( He signed a peace deal) Heard the same thing about Shamir ( he went to Madrid), heard the same thing about Rabin, its nothing new.

When the time is right, Bibi will come around the table to discuss peace. But he has to form a government first. One simple step at a time. heck I can wait we have had 60 years of this “crap”, another few months or years wont hurt will it?

February 21st, 2009, 4:13 am

 

jad said:

In today`s Al Hayat newspaper five articles with similar subject:
Please America and Europe don`t believe Syria, don`t talk to Syria, and act as tough as you could with those bastards!
one of them of course is by my favorite Madam Raghida almajnoune

February 21st, 2009, 4:30 am

 

Alex said:

Jad,

They got Feltman in state department

U.S. to prod Syrian envoy on support of terrorism, suspected nuclear program
By Barak Ravid, Haaretz Correspondent

Ambassador Imad Moustapha is to meet with Jeffrey D. Feltman, the acting assistant secretary of state for Near Eastern affairs, at Feltman’s request, Duguid said. Clinton is not scheduled to participate.

“Our concerns include Syria’s support to terrorist groups and networks, Syria’s pursuit of nuclear and nonconventional weaponry, interference in Lebanon and a worsening human rights situation,” Duguid said.

—————-

And this is a Syrian response in Arabic (from Champress), but to summarize “if you want to talk to us this way then don’t waste your time and ours.

وصايا لابد منها للزوار و الموفدين الامريكيين.. بقلم : علي جمالو
وصايا لابد منها للزوار و الموفدين الامريكيين.. بقلم : علي جمالو

عادت دمشق إلى دورها الطبيعي ، محطة رئيسية للوفود العربية و الدولية و منها الوفود السياسية الرسمية و نصف الرسمية الاميركية الباحثة عن أجوبة لأسئلة الادارة الجديدة بعد ما وجدت هذه الادارة الجديدة نفسها تتخبط وسط حطام سياسة الرئيس بوش المدمرة و خصوصاً في هذا الشرق الاوسط و يبدو أنها تحتاج إلى وقت ليس بقصير لرفع كل هذا الركام من دروب هذا الاقليم البائس لتستطيع السير في هذه المتاهة التي تدّوخ الثعالب… طبعاً قبل ذلك أوفدت مندوبها الخاص جورج ميتشل إلى اسرائيل و الاراضي الفلسطينية المحتلة و بعض الدول العربية وعاد – كما لاحظنا – بخفي حنين حيث لم يجد في اسرائيل الغارقة في لعبة انتخابات الذئاب من يحاوره.. و لم يجد في الاراضي الفلسطينية المحتلة سوى رائحة الموت و الدمار .. أما في لبنان فإن صبيان السياسة من فريق الرابع عشر من شباط تكفلوا بكل التضليل اللازم للمندوب الباحث عمن يمسك بيده وسط هذا الظلام الدامس..
حسن… هاهم يتوجهون إلى دمشق لجان نيابية ، وفود من الكونغرس ، خبراء من مراكز الدراسات الاستراتيجية .
يتوجهون…بعد كل [ التهميش ] الذي أراده نجوم الادارة السابقة و عدد من مساعديهم العرب المعجبين بلقبهم الجديد [ الاعتدال ]…
يتوجهون على ايقاع خطاب سياسي مضمونه يتكئ على حقيقة أن دروب الشرق الاوسط لابد أن تمر من دمشق و شكله مزيج من السفسطة و الهذر و المفردات التي تنتمي إلى عصر مات !! مع بعض المجاملات الباهتة و دليلنا : تصريحات بنيامين كاردن أمس في دمشق التي أقل ما يقال فيها أنها وقحة .. و كفى ! وثم تصريحات السيناتور جون كيري في بيروت و التي تكشف النقاب عن خلل في فهم المنطقة و قوانينها و حركة الاحداث فيها [ للتذكير هنا فإن كيري لا يعرف إذا كانت إدارته الجديدة تريد من سوريا التدخل في لبنان من جديد .. من أجل الضغط على حزب الله .. أم أن هذا التدخل مازال ممنوعاً .. و حتى اشعار آخر.!! ].
و بانتظار وصول السيد كيري لنسمع منه هذه النظرية العجائبية في السياسة و التي يمكن تسميتها مؤقتاً [ بالخنفشارية ] حيث مطلوب من سورية أن تتدخل و في ذات الوقت لا تتدخل في لبنان!!.. مع ان في لبنان قادة كبار و رجال لهم وزن و رؤية يستطيعون أن يشرحوا للسيد كيري كيف تكون العلاقات بين بلدين فريدين في التكوين و الروابط .. و بالطبع لا أقصد بقولي قادة كبار و رجال لهم وزن .. لا أقصد صبيان السياسة في فريق الرابع عشر من شباط و حواشيهم من الكتاب المستأجرين!! الذين يتحولون أمام الزائر الاميركي إلى ضحايا من الدرجة العاشرة [ للغطرسة السورية !] التي تحتل فلسطين و الجولان و مزارع شبعا و تدمر غزة و تنتهك السماء اللبنانية كل يوم.. و لا ترسل سفيرها الجديد إلى بيروت !!.
ثم وبانتظار زيارة السيناتور الآخر هوارد بيرمان إلى سورية خلال الساعات المقبلة نتوقع أن نسمع المزيد من هذه [ الدرر ] التي تبعث على الضحك ، و هذا ربما يدل بوضوح على المؤثرات التي تصبغ تصريحات هؤلاء الزوار وجلسات تحضير الأرواح التي يخضعون لها قبل التوجه إلى دمشق !
ولذلك حرصا ً على وقت هؤلاء السادة الذي يعبرون الأطلسي نحو منطقتنا القلقة نقترح عليهم قراءة بعض الوصايا قبل التوجه إلى دمشق !
1 – إن سورية ليست إحدى جمهوريات الموز ولغة الإملاءات غير مرحب بها وقد جرب بوش وفريقه طوال السنوات الثمانية الماضية هذه اللغة مع التهديد والوعيد وفشل ، ولذلك من باب المودة نقترح التفكير مليا ً قبل استخدام لغة بائدة .
2 – إن إسرائيل وليست سورية هي من تتمرد على الشرعية الدولية وهناك عشرات القرارات الصادرة عن مجلس الأمن والجمعية العامة للأمم المتحدة ترفض إسرائيل تطبيقها وإذا كان لا بد من الحديث مع سورية عن تطبيق قرارات الأمم المتحدة فإن المعني بهذا الكلام حكام إسرائيل القتلة وليست سورية التي لديها أرض محتلة وهي تنادي كل صباح ومساء بتطبيق قرارات الشرعية الدولية .
3 – إن حزب الله حركة لبنانية مقاومة لها جمهورها وشعبيتها وهي لا تأتمر بأمر سورية وإنما ترسم إستراتيجيتها وفق مصالحها ووفق رؤيتها لبلدها الذي تعرض وما زال يتعرض للعدوان الإسرائيلي وإذا كانت إسرائيل ومن ورائها الولايات المتحدة الأمريكية [ فريق بوش ] ومن جوانبها بعض عربان الاعتلال لم تستطع أن تكسر إرادة حزب الله عام 2006 فلماذا تعاد اليوم الأسطوانة المشروخة عن رغبة أمريكية بقيام سورية بالضغط على حزب الله ..
أي بالرغبة الأمريكية بالتدخل في الشؤون اللبنانية من جديد بعد كل الذي جرى لمنع سورية من التدخل في الشؤون اللبنانية !
4 – إن مسألة إرسال السفير السوري إلى لبنان هي مسألة سيادية بامتياز ولا يحق لأحد ان يقول لـ سورية متى ترسل أو لا ترسل سفيرها !
وبالمناسبة – وهذا تخمين – أعتقد أن الإدارة السورية كلما أثير هذا الموضوع معها كلما وجدت نفسها في وضع الرافض للقيام بهذه الخطوة .. أو لنقل بدقة أكثر الرافض تحديد وقت القيام بهذه الخطوة .
ولذلك من باب المودة أيضا ً أقترح على السادة الزوار ترك هذه الخطوة لأصحابها لأن سورية – ولإنعاش الذاكرة – وافقت على التبادل الدبلوماسي مطلع العام 2005 ولا حاجة لإفراغ هذه الخطوة من مضمونها بتكرار لعبارات ساذجة لكل من يقوم بزيارة دمشق وكأنه يقوم بفتح كبير!
5- في الموضوع الفلسطيني .عدد كبير من الزوار الأوربيين إلى سورية يلتقون قادة حماس سراً ويعرفون – بل بعضهم يقر أيضاً – بأن حماس حركة سياسية فلسطينية مقاومة ربحت الانتخابات بجدارة ودفعت أثمان باهظة ..
فلماذا نتجاهل هذه الحقيقة ولماذا القفز فوقها و لماذا الرهان على رجل ضعيف لا يمون على أفراد أسرته من اجل تحريك المسار الفلسطيني والذي تريد إسرائيل أن تفصل المفاوض معها من الجانب الفلسطيني كما يناسبها !!
وعباس ودحلان وعريقات نماذج مطلوبة إسرائيلياً وعلى المجتمع الدولي أن يبحث لهؤلاء عن قواعد شعبية لإعطائهم الشرعية ! وبناءاً عليه لا تعتبر سورية نفسها معنية بهذا التسطيح وبهذا التضليل وبهذا التزوير للقضية التي ما تزال هي في صدر أولويات كل سوري .
بل أن القيادة السورية لا تستطيع – إن أرادت – القبول بهذا التهريج …
وإذا أردتم أيها الزوار معرفة الحقيقة الفلسطينية إسألوا أصحابها الحقيقيين ! اتصلوا بمشعل ورفاقه واستمعوا إليهم مباشرةً .
6- في موضوع العلاقات -السورية -الامريكية . والسؤال هل تريد سورية علاقات جيدة مع الولايات المتحدة.. الجواب : نعم بكل تأكيد . تريد سورية علاقات جيدة ومتطورة مع الولايات المتحدة ولكن بغير إملاءات بغير شروط مسبقة ، بغير وصفات إسرائيلية مسبقة أو شهوات صبيانية ممررة من صبيان السياسة اللبنانية ، بغير أوهام ممررة من بعض العواصم العربية التي ضل ساستها الطريق فتحولت إيران إلى عدو وتحولت إسرائيل إلى صديق .
إن سورية مفتاح هذا الشرق وبوابته شاء من شاء وأبى من أبى . هذه حقيقة فوق النقاش ، وقد جرب الكثير من الاعداء وشبه الأصدقاء القفز فوق هذه الحقيقة ولكن إلى أين وصلوا ؟!
هذا هو السؤال … ولا أظن أني بحاجة للجواب .

February 21st, 2009, 4:50 am

 

jad said:

I was disappointed to read about Feltman being appointed as the assistant secretary of state for Near Eastern affairs, I feel sorry for Mr. Moustafa dealing with the same old gang allover again, I wish him all the luck.
I`m not sure about all the `Change`slogan we`ve been hearing for the last 2 years..anyway, I had very little expectation from Obama and I`m loosing the 1% left of hope I had for him..not a big deal Eh!
as we say:
7abtni 7amati 7a66ni 3al tannour kirhtni 7amati 7a66ni 3al tannour

On another subject:
I just came across something really cool, check it out, I never seen that beautiful nature picture of Syria, it`s difficult to get an impressive colour pictures that nice, the black and white is much easier.
The photographer name (as you all can see) is
Mahmoud Shuairi
http://www.flickr.com/photos/mahmoudshuairi/sets/72157606420511245/
Also check his Syria history set.

February 21st, 2009, 5:23 am

 
 

Alex said:

Jad I don’t care bout Obama anymore .. those Syria photos are stunningly beautiful!

Thanks for sharing.

February 21st, 2009, 5:46 am

 

AIG said:

Alex,
What has happened to your optimism in the last month?
Why are you so down on Obama?
People here were so happy to see Obama elected and now a short time after that people have lost hope. Seriously, what happened? Did you think US policy can change overnight?

February 21st, 2009, 6:10 am

 

jad said:

I was checking an opposition website and they wrote this note:

“Many of the Syria reports in particular are based on videos and images smuggled from the country; activists have taken them at great risk to their lives and freedom, despite their seemingly apolitical nature.”

It sounded as Syria is North Korea?

One of the articles was talking about a tragic suicide of a 19yo university student and link it to the regime, however, the shocking thing I wanted to share was for that site to show the picture of that poor girl laying dead on the concrete floor where she jumped.
My question is:
Do we as human and professional have the right to show such picture forgetting that this is a human being who has parents, sibling and friends? didn’t they think of the feeling any one of her relative to see that and what is his reaction might be of using that picture in an unrelated subject?
what is the point of putting that pic when you are talking about the accident and you are trying really hard to portray it as a result of political faults and corruption while all the evidence and the story line take us somewhere else?
How ethical is that and how can someone do such terrible thing just to make me support him?
Pathetic!

Lots of the article also talking about the poor of Syria and how miserable they are with some clips and photos, the interesting thing I notice was that the streets of those places were unexpectedly CLEAN, and I really mean it, CLEAN public street, I also didn’t get the point of showing and video taping poor kids and poor men in the street, what is wrong being poor?

I also noticed lots and lots of supporting articles for the Syrian Kurds which I have no problem with until I notice that in all the pictures none of the people not even one person of them hold one Syrian flag, they were only holding Kurdistan and PKK flags.
Lots and lots of issue there.

My time is up for today, I have to go!

February 21st, 2009, 8:15 am

 

Alex said:

No AIG … I did not give up on Obama yet .. I might, like I always said I might, but I am still relieved that McCain and Palin did not win, regardless of what President Obama changes in America’s policies in the Middle East.

If I clarify that comment of mine above “I don’t want to discuss Obama now, I’m still looking at those beautiful photos”

You are reading too much into it.

February 21st, 2009, 8:32 am

 

Chris said:

Jad,

While not meaning to criticise the Syrian regime and in an effort to stay on topic:

You wrote:
“I also noticed lots and lots of supporting articles for the Syrian Kurds which I have no problem with until I notice that in all the pictures none of the people not even one person of them hold one Syrian flag”

One might ask in response to your observation how could the Kurds of Syria be expected to wave Syrian flags when they have been stripped of their citizenship? Many of them are not Syrian citizens. If they aren’t Syrians why would we expect them to wave the Syrian flag? In stripping them of their citizenship the state has disowned them, saying we no longer want you. I for one couldn’t expect them to be loyal after such an act.
———-

Some observations from the recently published 2009 World Report by Human Rights watch ( http://www.hrw.org/sites/default/files/reports/wr2009_web.pdf page 515 ) :

“Kurds, Syria’s largest non-Arab ethnic minority, comprise about 10 percent of the population of 19 million. They remain subject to systematic discrimination, including the arbitrary denial of citizenship to an estimated 300,000 Syria-born
Kurds.

Authorities suppress expressions of Kurdish identity, including the teaching of Kurdish in schools. On March 20, 2008, Syrian internal security forces opened fire on Kurds celebrating the Kurdish New Year in the town of Qamishli, leaving three dead.

On September 14 a military court sentenced 50 Kurds to six months in jail for demonstrating against the 2005 assassination of Kurdish leader Sheikh Ma`shuq al-Khaznawi. Security officials detained a number of Kurdish political activists, including Muhammad Musa, secretary of the Syrian Kurdish Left Party, and Mash`al al-Temmo and Omran al-Sayyid, leaders in the Kurdish Future Current in Syria. At this writing, all three face trial.”

February 21st, 2009, 2:02 pm

 

Alia said:

Nafdik,

It is all white noise.

I do not mind Little Chris (and the people like him) because he disagrees with my views, I mind:

1. The obvious dissonance between his stated intentions (what is good for Syria that “we all care about”) and his actual discourse. Notice that he is always hiding behind : This blog is about Syria.

2. The position of the Western person ( so by definition: civilized) who is going to tell us what is wrong with us, just by the virtue of him being born somewhere else. His statements : ” I worry about HK about your such and such view…”
I don’t think that this blog is about another opportunity for a colonial dialogue. Especially in view of the fact that some of us have already spent quite a few years mopping up the messes of the Colonial supremacy dialogue.

3. Most of us here are educated and experienced in the ways of the East and West, most of us are far more so than little Chris. The medium of the internet allows only for so much expansion on dialogues unless you have unlimited time …so we end up being flooded with exasperating twisted information that most of us do not have the time or energy to respond to in depth.

A.P.

Yes, I support Hamas. It is up to them to decide how they are going to run their liberation movement. ( so do not come back to me with the question of whether I support their missile strikes in view of my own distancing from war that I stated in post number such and such .+++link, just figure it out for yourself Einstein)

February 21st, 2009, 2:05 pm

 

nafdik said:

Thanks Jad for pointing me to the Tharwa Foundation web site http://foundation.tharwa.ws. Great site with lots of footage from Syria today.

You said you have an issue with the depiction of the Kurds:

“I also noticed lots and lots of supporting articles for the Syrian Kurds which I have no problem with until I notice that in all the pictures none of the people not even one person of them hold one Syrian flag, they were only holding Kurdistan and PKK flags.

Lots and lots of issue there.”

Is your issue that the pictures misrepresent reality, or is your issue with the reality itself?

Are you concerned, like myself, that the state has failed to create a home for all Syrians that they can be happy and proud to be part of?

February 21st, 2009, 2:18 pm

 

Chris said:

Alia,

You wrote:
“1. The obvious dissonance between his stated intentions (what is good for Syria that “we all care about”) and his actual discourse. Notice that he is always hiding behind : This blog is about Syria.”

Yes, I am interested in Syria and its relations with the region. I’m also interested in the economic situation, and minorities in Syria. In pointing out that I prefer to talk about Syria on Syria Comment you wrote, “he is always hiding behind : This blog is about Syria.” This is apparently a reference to our recent discussion of Israeli media. So, discussions of Israeli media do not really seem pertinent to the topic of the blog “Syria Comment.” When Israeli media is used to counter claims that there is anti-semitism in Syrian media I become particularly perplexed, as, needless to say, what is produced in Israel tells us very little about the extent of anti-semitism in Syrian media.

I worry that by pointing out the flaws in other countries people will be distracted from trying to talk about Syrian issues. After all, the fact that other countries have flaws too only indirectly helps us get at solutions to the issues of this blog, primarily Syria. Often critiquing other countries comes from an effort to say something along the lines of, “you see things aren’t so bad here, things are bad over there too. They do bad things too.” This is a defensive strategy that undermines efforts to improve things. It is an effort to convince ourselves that things aren’t so bad. If they aren’t so bad then why improve. National pride impedes progress.

You wrote:
“2. The position of the Western person ( so by definition: civilized) who is going to tell us what is wrong with us, just by the virtue of him being born somewhere else. His statements : ” I worry about HK about your such and such view…”
I don’t think that this blog is about another opportunity for a colonial dialogue. Especially in view of the fact that some of us have already spent quite a few years mopping up the messes of the Colonial supremacy dialogue.”

First of all, nearly all of my criticisms, if not all, have been of the regime… I have never said or implied that the West is civilized and Syria is not. As far as our discussion of honor killing, or HK or as you put it, is concerned in an effort to put some balance into the discussion I made clear that I view a practice in the United States to be barbaric and primitive, namely the death penalty. So, there is no need to be defensive. In my view civilization comes about when there is a bureaucracy, something which happened in the Middle East thousands of years ago.

“3. Most of us here are educated and experienced in the ways of the East and West, most of us are far more so than little Chris. ”

Regarding to your reference to me as “little Chris” (for the 3rd time) and your post overall:
(from the SC Rules)
” As such, commentators should maintain a respectful tone with others and be tolerant of opinions that may differ from their own.”

, I don’t believe that referring to eachother as “little Chris” or “little x” is conducive to having a respectful discussion of politics on Syria Comment.

Also, while I may not be as “educated and experienced in the ways of the East and West” as you are. I am here to learn. To exchange views with those who have differing opinions. Rather than insult my intelligence or my lack of education it might help to engage in constructive criticism. If I agreed with your political views would you not be questioning my level of education?

I am a graduate student at one of top 5, in terms of ranking, schools of international affairs in the United States. I have been to Nepal, Thailand, Cuba, Kenya, and a number of other places. I have lived in the United States, Syria, and Europe. While this may not meant that I am as “educated and experienced in the ways of the East and West” as you, I hope it is acceptable.

Feel free to respond, however, I really would like to return to a discussion of Syria, as we are on Syria Comment.

February 21st, 2009, 2:41 pm

 

Alia said:

Chris,

“The wilderness of mirrors”- you should be familiar with the quote.

You made many false claims above, a couple here for lack of time and interest:

In criticizing HK and claiming this was a common practice- you were not criticizing the regime.

In stating that Syria was a civilized country until the Arabs conquered it you were not praising the Syrian people.

I wonder why you failed to mention Israel among the countries you visited…

February 21st, 2009, 3:08 pm

 

Nour said:

Chris,

You are confusing between nationalism, which is the awareness of one’s national identity, and relations between nations, which is based on mutual interests and cooperation. Syria has relations with Iran because they have common interests on which they cooperate and collaborate with mutual respect. It is the case with normal relations between any two nations. Therefore, Syria’s relation with Iran does not negate or diminish its national identity. As long as Syria is furthering its own national interests in its relations with Iran, then there should be no problem. It is only rational and normal for Iran to attempt to advance and strengthen itself, and we should be doing the same ourselves. The strengthening of Iran is not a justification to treat it as an enemy, unless it takes action against our interests.

In any case, the only true enemy of Syria is “Israel.” Zionist propagandists, with their wahhabi allies, have been trying desperately to detract from the enmity of “Israel” by attempting to make Iran the new “enemy” of the Arabs. This is exactly what you are doing here and it simply is not going to work because the majority of people in the Arab World are not stupid. They know that there is nothing wrong with Iran advancing and strengthening itself and that the real threat and danger comes from “Israel” and its racist, genocidal policies.

February 21st, 2009, 3:39 pm

 

Jad said:

Dear Alia,
What do you think about the secular opposition TV plan?
How do you think that we and any average Syrian can understand the differences between a real opposition who is looking for the good of syria and it’s people not out of a political gains but out of concern and willingness for their real needs.
(could you please ignore any comment or question you might get from little you know who, thank you)

Tharwa for me is a one of the bad example where they don’t have any direction it’s another example of how low a politician go to support his case.

February 21st, 2009, 3:57 pm

 

Jad said:

واشنطن تعلن عودة الحوار الدبلوماسي مع دمشق عبر لقاء بين فيلتمان ومصطفى
متحدث أمريكي: اللقاء سوف يتناول القضايا الخلافية بين الجانبين
قال الناطق باسم الخارجية الأمريكية غوردون دوغيد إن مساعد وزيرة الخارجية لشؤون الشرق الأدنى جيفري فيلتمان طلب موعدا للقاء السفير السوري في واشنطن عماد مصطفى لمناقشة القضايا الخلافية بين سورية والولايات المتحدة.

وأضاف دوغيد في مؤتمر صحفي أن هذا اللقاء الذي سيتم الأسبوع المقبل يمثل “عودة للحوار الدبلوماسي مع دمشق, وأن اللقاء سيكون فرصة للحوار ومناقشة الملفات التي تهمنا مع السوريين”.
وأشار المتحدث إلى أن فيلتمان سوف يتناول مع مصطفى قلق واشنطن حيال دعم سورية لحزب الله وحركة “حماس” إضافة إلى ملفات لبنان وحقوق الإنسان والاتهامات حول موقع الكبر الذي دمرته إسرائيل عام 2007 قالت الولايات المتحدة إنه كان مفاعلا نوويا قيد البناء فيما تقول سورية إنه كان مبنى عسكريا تقليديا.
وتأتي هذه الخطوة بعد عدة زيارات لوفود نيابية أمريكية إلى دمشق, وبالتزامن مع استقبال الرئيس بشار الأسد لوفدين أمريكيين في يوم واحد يرأس أحدهما رئيس لجنة العلاقات الخارجية في الكونغرس جون كيري.
وكانت تقارير صحفية قالت إن واشنطن تدرس إرسال سفير أمريكي إلى دمشق بعد أربع سنوات من سحب سفيرها, فيما أبدى البيت الأبيض تهاونا نسبيا في تطبيق قانون محاسبة سورية, الأمر الذي اعتبر مؤشرا على رغبة جدية من الرئيس باراك أوباما للحوار مع دمشق.
وكان الرئيس بشار الاسد قال قبل أيام إن تحسن العلاقات السورية الأمريكية لا يزال في مرحلة الإيماءات والإشارات ولا يوجد شيء على أرض الواقع بعد

February 21st, 2009, 4:03 pm

 

Chris said:

Alia,

You wrote:
“In criticizing HK and claiming this was a common practice- you were not criticizing the regime.”

That was in response to the following by me:
“First of all, nearly all of my criticisms, if not all, have been of the regime”

You are correct, my mention of HK (your sanitized abbreviation for honor killings) was not a criticism of the regime. So good point! However, my mention of the regime’s protection of honor killers was a criticism of the regime (descriptions of those laws from the NYTimes are in post 53 above). More importantly though, my comment, “nearly all of my criticisms, if not all, have been of the regime” does not exclude the possibility that I may have criticised Syria and not the regime, it only says that “nearly all of the criticisms” have been of the regime. One example does not refute that.

“In stating that Syria was a civilized country until the Arabs conquered it you were not praising the Syrian people. ”

In a prior discussion you had referred to Syria as being an old civilization. I then said that that is correct, and added that the old civilization to which you were referring was wiped out by Arab invaders. I did not mean to say that at that point civilization ended in Syria, only that the historic Syrian civilization to which you were referring ended and was replaced with a new one (Arab or Islamic). You then countered that “The Arab Muslims added another layer of a spiritual civilization that you have no access to.” That may be true, however, this is debatable. I mean, outside of the ruins do you see the influence of Roman culture in Syria today?

You wrote:
“I wonder why you failed to mention Israel among the countries you visited…”

(that was written in response to the following by me)
“I am a graduate student at one of the top 5, in terms of ranking, schools of international affairs in the United States. I have been to Nepal, Thailand, Cuba, Kenya, and a number of other places. I have lived in the United States, Syria, and Europe. While this may not mean that I am as “educated and experienced in the ways of the East and West” as you, I hope it is acceptable.”
———————–

The reason why I failed to list Israel as being among the countries I have been to is for two reasons. First, and most importantly, I was aiming for geographic diversity, Latin America (Cuba), Africa (Kenya), Asia (Thailand), and I mentioned Nepal only because it is absolutely marvelous. Saying I’ve been to Canada as an American wouldn’t be very interesting. The second reason, why I failed to list Israel is because many of the people on this blog are aware of the fact that I have been to Israel.

February 21st, 2009, 4:07 pm

 

jad said:

وكالة الطاقة الذرية: لا يوجد أي دليل على وجود عناصر غرافيت في موقع الكبر بدير الزور
http://www.syria-news.com/readnews.php?sy_seq=90951

February 21st, 2009, 4:17 pm

 

jad said:

Dear Offended,
Related to your story about Dubai refusing to entry of the greatest tennis player the world have ever seen! Just because she is another Israeli murderer.
http://news.bbc.co.uk/hi/arabic/sport/newsid_7902000/7902999.stm

February 21st, 2009, 4:27 pm

 

jad said:

Exposed: University of Toronto suppresses pro-Palestinian activism

‘What follows is the documentation of a deliberate attempt by the UofT administration to prevent a Palestine solidarity conference from being held, the direct involvement of pro-Israel organizations in determining the use of student space and collusion between a number of Ontario universities to prevent the annual Israeli Apartheid Week — a student led week of events about Israeli Apartheid — from taking place. All of the emails referred to in the article are available online.’

http://www.rabble.ca/news/exposed-university-toronto-suppressed-pro-palestinian-activism

February 21st, 2009, 4:37 pm

 

Alia said:

Dear Jad,

before I make any comment about the upcoming satellite program, I would like to see who they actually are, who is financing them, who is supporting them, what their ultimate aim is…

AS for Tharwa, the first thing to look at is the self-definition of the founder- Ammar Abdulhamid states that he was a fellow at the Saban center on the Middle East: This is the Saban center:

[In 2002, the Brookings Institution established the Saban Center for Middle East Policy in order “to promote a better understanding of the policy choices facing American decision makers in the Middle East”. The Center is named after Haim Saban, an Israeli-American media proprietor, who donated $13 million toward its establishment and directed by Martin Indyk, a former US diplomat and a former director of research at the American Israel Public Affairs Committee. The Center’s political slant has been described as “pro-Israel” by US foreign policy scholars John Mearsheimer and Stephen Walt. A U.S. government indictment alleges that the Center’s Director of Research, Kenneth Pollack, provided information to former AIPAC employees Steve J. Rosen and Keith Weissman during the AIPAC espionage scandal.]

—————–

What I would really appreciate at this juncture is investigative Journalism without political agenda, we do not need another would-be Karzai or Chalabi hoping to catch the ball when foreign forces are ready to drop it.

My own interest is presently in the sanitization of the corrupt system- work from inside to serve. A few weeks ago, I was contacted by a group of doctors ( some expats and some French) in France who are interested in building 2 private but not-for- profit hospitals – they have the financing worked-out from a major not for profit international humanitarian organization- they would like to get the approval of the government and see what resources on my side they could count on. They have support from Universities and hospitals in France to send staff to do training…All of that to give and they are terrified that they may not get the approval- That is bad!!!

I am not interested in opposition for the sake of opposition, rather for the sake of improvement of the situation. People who are hoping to get something for themselves with Israeli and other support should stand back.

Some of us are interested in the issue of the Kurds-and need to really understand the background and ramifications of the issue then come up with offers- others, have something else to offer-it is not even easy to be able to give there but that is all we have.

When the time is ripe and things are different we will have other plans. Insha’Allah.

Just overall opposition is not going to be helpful.

February 21st, 2009, 4:37 pm

 

jad said:

Dear Alia,
I appreciate your excellent comment as always.
I agree on every word you wrote, I have the similar attitude toward the opposition issue.

The fact that the French group may not get approved to build hospitals is very concerning; How and Who is taking the final decision that is my concern, why giving authorities to people they don’t even deserve to be a janitor. isn’t there any special body that can help directing when we get into such situations? why to reject a great opportunity like this?

Do you know who is the figure that can help in that regard so we can at least try to approach?

February 21st, 2009, 4:54 pm

 

Alia said:

Dear Jad,

The problems are:

1. Everything is centralized- in order to have something like that work you have to have the highest level of approval- you cannot just go and apply to the Ministry of health and get certificates and whatever you need of documentation.

2. The fact that foreign agencies are going to give Aid is always a delicate matter.

3. Concerns in Syria are either private or public. When they are no profit organizations, the government/or relevant ministries will appoint their own employees in the mix -that is not always a helpful presence to say the least- : )

4. The physician who is spearheading the project told me they will be contacting the usual top person who has supported similar projects hoping for her support of the project…

February 21st, 2009, 5:12 pm

 

jad said:

Dear Alia,
Thank you for explaining.
It’s always going to the top person, it has never been a standards procedure and that is the biggest and worse glitch for us.
Why don’t they just put clear rules and steps for everybody interested in doing such pioneer project.
Juts treat it as an investment projects. Stupidity, mismanagement, and throwing politics in our daily life is our own biggest enemy.
nevertheless, we shouldn’t stop trying.
I know that I might be wrong, but they could try Masar (the first lady project) since they day and night promot that they are supporting kids, education and a better quality of life for the country side, it might be a real test for that ‘slogan’.
Or the ministry through Mr. Dardari links.

February 21st, 2009, 5:40 pm

 

Alex said:

Alia, Jad, Nafdik

Tharwa is Ammar Abdelhamid … a very smart a good person… way smarter than the other Washington favorite Syrian opposition (Farid Ghadry)

But unfortunately Ammar’s good intentions are not preventing him from doing damage to Syria.

He is my former classmate (at age ten). Here is the last time I engaged in a disussion with him after Eliot Abrams took him to meet President Bush to convince him not to speak to Syria and, I assume, not to allow Israel to give the Golan back to Syria until there is democracy.

http://tharwacommunity.typepad.com/amarji/2007/12/the-heretical-a.html

February 21st, 2009, 6:02 pm

 

Alia said:

Jad,

I am a little bit hopeful for this project this time which I have not been for too many years, I think it is Alex who is rubbing on me. We will see I will keep you posted.

Alex,

I will trust you on this. But what was Ammar AbdulHamid doing at the Saban center? what kind of fellowship is that ? You cannot get rid of that track record easily, yes, you are right he is very smart.

As for his answer that change requires agitation and leadership….It is something to think about if you are thinking of an old-fashioned revolution. Do we want, need a revolution? or a civil war like in Iraq and Afghanistan ? Are these even conceivable scenarios for us? Of course, you are not the person to answer that : )

February 21st, 2009, 6:34 pm

 

Akbar Palace said:

Can Islamic Resistance Fighters ever be held Accountable?

Yes, I support Hamas. It is up to them to decide how they are going to run their liberation movement.

Alia,

Thanks for answering my question. Really, this is no surprise to me since I’ve been participating on this forum.

However, it seems to me you will support Hamas no matter what methods they use. IOW, is there anything Hamas can do that would change your mind and make you NOT want to support them?

In the same vein, how would you grade Hamas in terms of what they have achieved from their “liberation movement”? Say on a scale of 0 to 100 (0 = no achievement at all and 100 = excellent achievement, 100% met their liberation goals).

February 21st, 2009, 6:37 pm

 

nafdik said:

Alex,

Thx for the info.

“meet President Bush to convince him not to speak to Syria and, I assume, not to allow Israel to give the Golan back to Syria until there is democracy.”

You slipped in an ‘I assume’. If you are only assuming, how did you come to this assumption? Has Ammar promoted this view in any of his public writings or speeches?

I find it disconcerting as well that Ammar is working with the likes of Joshua Muravchik, but at least he is open about it. But this is a far cry from assuming that he is pressuring US president to keep Syrian land under foreign occupation.

Ammar if you are reading this please provide your side of the story.

February 21st, 2009, 6:37 pm

 

nafdik said:

Akbar,

Alia will of course give you her take, but here is mine:

I basically support Hamas because they are the choice of the Palestinian people. I am 100% in disagreement with their political views but again this is not my concern as long as the Palestinian people have chosen them.

Palestenians are under occupation and have the right to resist using the weapons of their choice. I do not like civilian deaths, but the Israelis have killed far more civilians and are holding the whole civilian population hostage under the threat of violence, so basically I do not see this as a factor.

February 21st, 2009, 6:48 pm

 

majedkhaldoun said:

The sanction against Syria,is wrong,the people suffer,not the officials. dialogue must resume, USA did talk to soviet union,even that SU assisted terrorism.
The kurds who were denied syrian citizenship,they are not citizen of Syria, here, in USA many mexican has no american citizenship.
Israel committed criminal and terrorist actions against Gaza people, and continue the blockade,hurting civilians ,better condemn Israel,rather than defend it,otherwise you are accomplice, you have to be fair.
Spies by deinition are liers.

February 21st, 2009, 7:10 pm

 

Akbar Palace said:

Alia will of course give you her take, but here is mine:

OK, great.

I basically support Hamas because they are the choice of the Palestinian people. I am 100% in disagreement with their political views but again this is not my concern as long as the Palestinian people have chosen them.

Nafdik,

That is interesting to me. You “support” Hamas but you disagree with their political views.

Although you disagree (and perhaps others on this forum) with their political views, I really haven’t read much detailed criticism of Hamas here on SC.

In contrast, we have SHAI, who probably DOESN’T “support” the GOI and, of course, disagrees with the GOI political views, even when the Israeli people have “chosen them”.

Conclusion: Shai is much more vocally critical of the Israeli government then Arabs are of the Palestinian government.

Palestenians are under occupation and have the right to resist using the weapons of their choice. I do not like civilian deaths, but the Israelis have killed far more civilians and are holding the whole civilian population hostage under the threat of violence, so basically I do not see this as a factor.

OK. So let’s see we have

Hamas: 4 (Alia, Nafdik, Alex and Shai)

and

GOI: 2 (AIG, AP)

Hamas is winning!

Palestenians are under occupation and have the right to resist using the weapons of their choice.

Nafdik,

Just FYI, Israel is not going to end any occupation or array of checkpoints without a negotiated settlement. So there are other avenues available.

February 21st, 2009, 7:33 pm

 

Alex said:

Nafdik,

I had hours and hours of phone discussions with Ammar, and tens of hours of discussion on his blog.

I wrote “I assume” because I don’t want to make a claim I am 100% sure I can back with something Online.

Can I ask you something though? … how can the Golan go back to Syria under “Assad’s dictatorship” if Ammar does not want the Americans to talk to Assad?

Again, I am not completely against Ammar and what he stands for … he has a lot of good in him, but as I wrote on his blog so many times, I think he is an extremists and a dangerous one… if he cut down by 50% his enthusiasm, I think he could have been just right.

Of course he thinks I am also completely wrong in “supporting” Bashar so consistently.

February 21st, 2009, 7:52 pm

 

nafdik said:

Alex,

I just want to be clear on this.

You assume:

a) Ammar asked Bush not to talk to Syrian regime and by simple deduction you conclude that means Golan will stay with Israel

b) Ammar asked Bush EXPLICITLY to pressure Israel not to return the Golan heights

Even if A is equivalent to B in your opinion we have to be very careful in this kind of comment.

February 21st, 2009, 8:32 pm

 

nafdik said:

Akbar,

I support the Palestinian people because they are under occupation. If they choose Hamas then I will support them.

There is no contradiction with this and the fact that I disagree with the philosophy, politics, and methods of Hamas. If this was a blog about Palestinian politics and I was invited by Palestinians to give my opinion I would have explained why I think Hamas is wrong. Since it is not, I do not want to white noise this space 😉

At the risk of sounding snotty:

“Always recognize that human individuals are ends, and do not use them as means to your end. ”

Emanuel Kant

February 21st, 2009, 8:42 pm

 

Shai said:

Akbar Palace,

“In contrast, we have SHAI, who … disagrees with the GOI political views, even when the Israeli people have “chosen them”.

I wonder, do you suddenly agree with the Democrats, simply because the American people have “chosen them”? If the majority of the people in Israel elect a prime minister who will bring a fascist pig into his government, you think I should “agree with the GOI”? Perhaps you should first explain to this forum whether YOU agree with “the GOI” once Lieberman is part of it…?!?

“Just FYI, Israel is not going to end any occupation or array of checkpoints without a negotiated settlement.”

How do you know that? Record shows quite the opposite. Barak ended Israeli occupation in Lebanon (18 years of it) without negotiation, and Sharon did the same in Gaza (almost 40 years). To remind you, Netanyahu also withdrew from a few key cities in the West Bank.

Does AIPAC teach you guys a different history back there? Or are you now investing in “Wishful Thinking Funds”?

February 21st, 2009, 9:38 pm

 

Alia said:

A.P.,

Your highlighted subject title is misleading.

My support of Hamas has nothing to do with their Islamic identity. I support the struggle of the Palestinian people in whatever shape and form they choose to do it. I supported the ANC that had nothing to do with Islam or Arabic identity in the same way.

The second part of your statement: No I do not hold them accountable..The most basic principle of dynamics is that where there is force there is counter force. The Palestinians did not choose to be locked up in Gaza and the Hamas youth did not choose to become freedom fighters. Those roles were forced on them historically, their other choices are nil.

I have always noticed how quick the Zionists are to calling people terrorist. Today in Haaretz Col. Liebman head of the IDF prosecution team called attempts at suing members of the IDF, legal terrorism…When the Zionists use “terrorism” it comes in all flavors but when they are accused of state terrorism, they say such a thing does not exist. Additionally the article cited “international law expert Yoram Dinstein who said at a conference at the Institute for National Security Studies in Tel Aviv late last month that a ratio of three or four civilian deaths per combatant death was the norm in most wars.”

I would love to know where he got his statistics- the only place I know of such horror scenario would be the Congo..

http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/1065338.html

February 21st, 2009, 10:00 pm

 

Chris said:

“If they choose Hamas then I will support them.”

This assumes that they chose Hamas. It is true that Hamas did win a plurality, although significantly not a majority, of the vote in the Palestinian Legislative Council elections of January 2006. They received %44.45% of the vote( http://www.elections.ps/pdf/Final_Results_PLC_Summary_Lists_Seats_2_En.pdf ) . In other words most Palestinians who voted did not vote for Hamas in that last election.

The Palestinians also chose Mahmoud Abbas (aka Abu Mazen), the leader of Fatah, for the presidency in an election that was held in 2005. He won a majority of the vote in that election with %62.52 of the vote. In clear contrast to Hamas’ performance in 2006, most Palestinians who voted in that election did vote for Mahmoud Abas.

So we have a situation in which Hamas wins the legislature by obtaining a plurality of the vote and Fatah wins the presidency by obataining a majority of the vote. Who did the Palestinians choose? Is this clear?

This would be analogous to a situation in which the Democrats control the legislature in the U.S. and the Republicans control the White House.

Then in July of 2007, Hamas opens fire and launches a violent coup against the government it was elected into, the Palestinian Authority. It is certainly not clear that the Palestinians chose this.

According to the Jerusalem Media and Communication Service,
“When asked if PLC elections were held today, the percentage of those who would vote for Hamas rose to 28.6% in this poll compared with 19.3% last April. On the other hand, the popularity of Fatah Movement declined from 34% last April to 27.9% in this poll…It is clear from the poll that the rise in Hamas’ popularity is due to an increase in its popularity in the West Bank – it rose from
12.8% last November to 26.5% in this poll.”
*The margin of error is ±3 percent, with a confidence level of 95%.
( http://www.jmcc.org/publicpoll/results/2009/67_jan_english.pdf )

Since the margin of error is 3% and Hamas supporters number 28.6% and Fatah supporters number 27.9%, it is not clear that Palestinians who would win an election today. It is important to note that these polls were takenduring the period of January 29-31, 2009. Immediately, after the war in Gaza. So, Hamas is benefitting from a spike in support in the aftermath of the conflict. Given that this is a response to a very recent emotinal event I imagine that people’s views might begin to return to where they were prior to the war.During November 20-23, 2008, “When asked if legislative elections were held today, a ratio of 36.8% said they vote for Fatah while 19.5% said they would vote for Hamas and a ratio of 3.7% said they would vote for the PFLP.”
( http://www.jmcc.org/publicpoll/results/2008/no66-eng.pdf )

So Nafdik, I don’t think it is clear that the Palestinians chose Hamas or would choose them in any upcoming elections. I am certain that they didn’t choose the one-party rule that now exists in Gaza.

February 21st, 2009, 10:10 pm

 

jad said:

Mark your calendars – the 5th Annual Israeli Apartheid Week will take place across the globe from March 1-8, 2009!
http://apartheidweek.org/
Check out your city!

Canadian photo journalist, Jon Elmer!
“Jon Elmer is a Canadian freelance writer and photojournalist specializing in the Middle East. He has researched and reported from the West Bank and Gaza Strip – based in Jenin and Gaza City – during the al-Aqsa intifada (2003), following Israel’s “disengagement” from the Gaza Strip (2005), and during the sanctions regime and factional strife (2007).”
http://jonelmer.ca/

February 21st, 2009, 10:41 pm

 

Akbar Palace said:

My support of Hamas has nothing to do with their Islamic identity. I support the struggle of the Palestinian people in whatever shape and form they choose to do it…No I do not hold them accountable..

Alia,

Thanks again for the answers. For the first time, I have a clear answer stating that because of the position the Palestinians are in, they can to “whatever they want” to attain their goals.

If I have misinterpreted anything, please let me know.

Shai responds:

I wonder, do you suddenly agree with the Democrats, simply because the American people have “chosen them”?

I have disagreements with the current administration, but I think I can objectively say that Obama is doing his best and has our best interest in mind. But I am always “pro-American”.

Anyway Shai, I’m trying draw a comparison and perhaps I’m not articulating it well. I’ll try again.

Nafdik said:

I basically support Hamas because they are the choice of the Palestinian people. I am 100% in disagreement with their political views…

I take this statement to mean that Nafdik supports “the Palestinian People” but that he doesn’t at all agree with their actions and goals.

Also, it is my observation that the Arab participants here keep their “disagreements” to themselves whereas their “support” is quite loud and emotional.

Alia’s response was even more straight-forward as she has offered no criticism of Hamas at all.

Shai, I put you down as a Hamas supporter also. Let me know if I made a bad assumption.

If the majority of the people in Israel elect a prime minister who will bring a fascist pig into his government, you think I should “agree with the GOI”?

Shai,

Well, as we have seen from the previous comments, one can be pro-Israel or be in “disagreement” with the government, etc. Also, in Israel’s case, the government is a coalition of many political parties.

From the comments you’ve made over the years about the “Israeli people” and all the Israeli politcal parties, you have surpassed Alia and Nafdik in terms of not supporting the People you identify the most with.

I wonder why that is?

Perhaps you should first explain to this forum whether YOU agree with “the GOI” once Lieberman is part of it…?!?

Shai,

I feel I am nuanced enough to genrally support my people and the State of Israel. Israel’s right to self defense transcends whoever is leading Israel. My support of Israel is a given. I don’t get that from you.

I critcize Israel, but I know it is very infrequent and certainly not forceful enough for most of the participant here. I dislike Israel’s parlimentary system of coalition building. I dislike how the small parties carry so much weight in the election process. I dislike how the religious and the Arabs do no national service.

Do the Palestinian’s goal of cementing their rights transcend whatever actions they deem necessary to secure these rights?

What do you think?

What are the rights they are seeking? Self-determination? Freedom of movement? Right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness? I’d like to know. The right to kill a Jew without fearing retaliation?

“Just FYI, Israel is not going to end any occupation or array of checkpoints without a negotiated settlement.”

How do you know that? Record shows quite the opposite. Barak ended Israeli occupation in Lebanon (18 years of it) without negotiation, and Sharon did the same in Gaza (almost 40 years). To remind you, Netanyahu also withdrew from a few key cities in the West Bank.

I don’t know this for a certainty, but where Israel withdrew from these occupations, peace for Israelis has not transpired and wars have resulted. I heard today more missiles flew in from Lebanon.

OK. How many missiles does Israel have to absorb before the “Boss gets Mad” again? Israel leaving Lebanon and Gaza is akin to striping of clothing. Now Israel is down to her underwear. She won’t be naked unless she knows she’s protected. Again, MHO.

Does AIPAC teach you guys a different history back there? Or are you now investing in “Wishful Thinking Funds”?

History doesn’t change, it is just a matter of how we interpret history. You perceive Israel leaving territory without any agreement (which is true), and I see Israel still not at all living in peace.

February 22nd, 2009, 12:02 am

 

jad said:

Alex,
I trust your words about Ammar as a person, but as he state in his reply to you that when you get professional you drop the personal touch.
From what I read so far I’m not impressed and I lost any interest in hearing or even reading more of his so called professionalism.

(الرقص على أنغام الشارع
الكاتب/ عمار عبد الحميد
Friday, 13 February 2009
في: 12 شباط، 2009
تتكاثر الأخبار والإشاعات والتقارير حوال نشاطات الحكومات والأنظمة والأحزاب والحركات، لكن التطورات الحقيقة التي ستغير الأوضاع في سورية والمنطقة ستجري في الشارع عما قريب، وسيقودها الناس. طوبى لـ “الرعاع”، إنهم قادمون.)

What does that one line statement suppose to mean? am I suppose to buy these cheap goods? what did his professionalism build for Syrians? what is his greatest achievement so far? meeting with Bush..wohoo..big deal!
What is the gain for any one of those poor people his foundation interviewed, video taping the laughing kids playing in the dirt or the unethical picture of that poor young girl dead in the street?

In the far east they have a say;
One time one meeting.
That short sentence means; you only have one chance to impress people and gain their hearts and make them believe you, and I think Ammar’s professionalism lost this chance big time.

February 22nd, 2009, 12:07 am

 

Akbar Palace said:

Yvette Goes to South America?

Argentina’s government announced on Thursday it had ordered Bishop Richard Williamson to leave within 10 days or be expelled from the country where he has lived for years.

February 22nd, 2009, 12:13 am

 
 

nafdik said:

“I take this statement to mean that Nafdik supports “the Palestinian People” but that he doesn’t at all agree with their actions and goals.”

Your interpretation is correct. I do not judge their goals, and as long as their actions are not extremely damaging I am fine with it.

There is nothing complicated here, I am sure you have the same attitude towards all your neighbors (I mean those who live in the house next to you).

“Also, it is my observation that the Arab participants here keep their “disagreements” to themselves whereas their “support” is quite loud and emotional.”

Because our support is based on hundreds of children who were dying as we watched, and some of us can not help but be emotional in these cases. My disagreements are about tactics and internal policy and this not the appropriate forum to discuss. You have to go to Palestinian forums and you will find a lot of debate about the disagreements.

I am sure you have found scathing comments about Syria and its handling of its occupied territories. If you have anything to discuss about this I am very happy to go into details about my disagreements 🙂

February 22nd, 2009, 1:45 am

 

Akbar Palace said:

My disagreements are about tactics and internal policy and this not the appropriate forum to discuss.

Nafdik,

Thanks for the feedback. Well, with regard to your statement above, you and Shai are quite different!

As far as Hamas is concerned, I’m giving up trying to convince anyone here that Hamas’s actions did not buy them any more world sympathy, more rights, more land, more peace, or more prosperity.
Hamas’s actions had only a negative effect.

But I am not Arab or Palestinian, so what I think doesn’t matter.

However, Arab and European countries are starting to wonder why they are giving Hamas millions and billions of dollars only to invest it on weapons, tunnel networks, and Green-Flag jihadist rallies.

AP

February 22nd, 2009, 2:08 am

 

nafdik said:

Akbar,

“But I am not Arab or Palestinian, so what I think doesn’t matter.”

You are very wrong there. In your hand you hold 50% of the solution.

What is your opinion?

If Israel is given credible security guarantees, would you support the full withdrawal from all the occupied territories?

February 22nd, 2009, 3:14 am

 

nafdik said:

Jad,

“What is the gain for any one of those poor people his foundation interviewed, video taping the laughing kids playing in the dirt or the unethical picture of that poor young girl dead in the street?”

I am surprised you did not appreciate this clip.

http://syrianelector.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=3014&Itemid=124

I found it a very poignant reminder of the realities of the poorest in our country and as well of the resilience of the Syrian people and their ability to cope with difficulty.

February 22nd, 2009, 3:26 am

 

Akbar Palace said:

What is your opinion?

If Israel is given credible security guarantees, would you support the full withdrawal from all the occupied territories?

Nafdik,

“Given credible security guarantees”, I think Israel would have already left the Golan and most of the West Bank per the Camp David Accords.

Back in ’67, if the Arabs were willing to negotiate then, instead of the “3 Nos”, Israel would have just claimed parts of the Old City of Jerusalem and nothing else.

Now, 30 years later, I think parts of Israel are being offered instead of evacuating the larger settlement blocks.

I think most Israelis would vote for such a deal.

February 22nd, 2009, 3:53 am

 

jad said:

Nafdik, Isn’t India a democratic country? do they tend to show their poor on TV for political gain? Don’t they have people in worst condition than the poor of Syria?
What the point of showing those video as an evidence that we have poor people? You go visit some American an Canadian cities and you will see it full of homeless and poor too.
You don’t have to be an opposition living in the states and meeting the American president to point out those problems.
We had “Saleb wa mowjed” (positive and Negative) program on the Syrian national TV during Hafez Assad times do you remember that program? even today you go through the national newspaper and you will read worst than what Tharwa had on their website.
You don’t have to state on your website that those videos smuggled out of Syria as if it is a crime to video tape locals, are we in North Korea where you get executed talking to a foreigner?
Nobody check your handbags or luggage at the airport or watch what you have on your video camera do they? did you ever had any person asked to check your camera or your computer or even your cellphone when you are leaving Syria? No they don’t.

I prefer when people are clear and to the point, If you have a problem as an opposition, point it out and give me a solution don’t give me a lecture promising me with ‘Nirvana world’ (as Ehsani once wrote)
Get me one article from that website giving a solution, any kind of solution for any of the issues they are talking about. Other than Democracy is the answers to everything.
What we really need is work not just empty words we learned living in the west and repeat them as parrots.
Why didn’t you link the meaning less article about the 19yo girl, or the article titled “السوريون يأكلون الفطائس” or the tens of Kurds issue articles written not by a Kurd who want to live in Syria as a Syrian where they whine about but by a Kurd who want to take part of Syria and call it home.
Those are just few issues that I can’t and will not accept and I absolutely refuse, regardless of how right and honest the point was, even to read.
Nafdik, don’t galvanize the real goal most of those oppositions are looking for by humanity and caring, it’s not, it’s just to get the power nothing more nothing less, frankly, I don’t trust any of them.

February 22nd, 2009, 4:45 am

 

nafdik said:

Jad,

You seem to be upset at the motives for posting the video and not the video itself.

I will not debate all the points but I think that given the lack of information available about Syria all contributions are welcome and I trust the Syrians to be able to filter the propaganda out of the messages they see.

Hopefully somebody will be able to find Syria loving kurds who will present their point of view, and so on, so we get the full picture.

February 22nd, 2009, 6:03 am

 

jad said:

What lack of information? to whom?
Don’t you already know our country’s problem?
Well, I sum it all up for you:
-Lack of justice system
-Corruption
-Lack of freedom
-lack of education
-lack of health care
-lack of experts
-lack of management

Nafdik, Syrian Kurds are 10% of the population that means 2.1M not all of them have the citizenship problem and the majority of them already melted in the Syrian society and they are as Syrian as all of us, while in Tharwa they portray the kurd’s situation as if they are under the Syrian occupation or something, didn’t you read what is out there?!
Doesn’t Syria have the right to protect it’s national interest?
I’m sorry to say that but it seems that you have a problem being straightforward and putting aside your politeness when it comes to major issues, you will end up giving up what is yours easily for the sake of understanding and being politically correct.

February 22nd, 2009, 6:35 am

 

nafdik said:

Jad,

“… while in Tharwa they portray the kurd’s situation as if they are under the Syrian occupation or something, didn’t you read what is out there?!”

All Syrians are under occupation. The Kurds seem to be organizing lately so our rulers have decided to pay some attention to them.

You should stop conflating attacks on the regime as attacks on Syria.

February 22nd, 2009, 3:27 pm

 

Shai said:

Akbar Palace,

“I have disagreements with the current administration, but I think I can objectively say that Obama is doing his best and has our best interest in mind. But I am always “pro-American”.”

I’m sure Lieberman is also “doing his best” and has Israel’s “best interest” in mind, in his own twisted brain’s way of thinking. But unlike you, I certainly am NOT always “pro-Israel” if that Israel puts a fascist pig in power, smack in the middle of its government.

Btw, you never answered in clear terms whether you support a government of Israel with Lieberman, or not. Please inform this audience – we are curious.

“Shai, I put you down as a Hamas supporter also. Let me know if I made a bad assumption.”

You must be kidding. Because I understand their motives, and even claim that I would do the same (or more), means I support them? I know you’d like to see all liberal Israelis as members of Hamas, but we’re not. If you’re a bad parent, you might understand why your child is doing drugs, but that doesn’t mean you support her, does it?

“My support of Israel is a given. I don’t get that from you.”

That’s a VERY dangerous thing for Israel – to have you, or anyone else, automatically, blindly, support Israel. That gives us a carte blanche to do anything we want, because we know we have your powerful (lobbying) support in Washington. So we can continue our Apartheid rule, we can continue our belligerence, our suffocation and subjugation of million of people, and know that your support of Israel “… is a given”. Well, I’d like to think that your support of the U.S. government isn’t always a given. What if your nation is doing terrible things, you’ll still support it? So who will change it, if not you? Martians from outer-space, who support of the U.S. isn’t “a given”?

Your Conservative Republican upbringing, with it’s “loyalty to America” mantras has blinded you to the point of innate herd mentality. You’ve stopped thinking – you just follow, blindly. To you, a criticizer is a non-supporter. And a non-supporter, is unpatriotic or disloyal. And those not loyal, find themselves supporting the enemy. Right? What do you know about loyalty, or patriotism? When was the last time you sacrificed anything in your life to “serve your country”? What do you know about moral dilemmas? What do you know about living in a country that you know is racist (not everyone, but many), is dangerous, is belligerent, is a bully, is criminal, is electing fascists into power? And YOU dare lecture me about being pro-Israel? Where are you, and where am I?

“What are the rights they are seeking? Self-determination? Freedom of movement? Right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness? I’d like to know. The right to kill a Jew without fearing retaliation?”

Freedom of movement???? What on earth are you talking about? You think that’s what they’re fighting for? Yes, they’re fighting for their basic right to life, to dignity, to self-determination. To not being a slave, whose fate is determined by another people and their 19 year-old soldiers. Why is that SO difficult for you to understand? Is it, in fact, difficult, or are you continuing to pretend you don’t understand? Do you think Palestinian children are born with a genetic predisposition to killing Jews? Maybe you do think it.

“How many missiles does Israel have to absorb before the “Boss gets Mad” again?… Now Israel is down to her underwear. She won’t be naked unless she knows she’s protected.”

Akbar, you need a psychologist real bad. Israel is in her underwear? We’re the fricken “Boss”, we control the lives of millions without freedom, without rights, and WE’RE demanding protection???!!! We have nukes (according to foreign sources) that can turn the Middle East into barren land, and WE need protection from $10 rockets that barely kill a bug in an empty field? What planet do you reside on? Ours?

February 22nd, 2009, 3:40 pm

 

jad said:

“All Syrians are under occupation”
I agree, the spaceship that brought Assad to Syria came from Mars!

“You should stop conflating attacks on the regime as attacks on Syria.”
I agree, I’m brainwashed and too naive to know the differences between the regime and the country, I promise you Nafdik, I’ll stop!

February 22nd, 2009, 4:14 pm

 

Joe M. said:

Chris,
After reading you post #131, I am convinced that you are either 1) the stupidest human being on the planet, or 2) purposely trying to lie and distort reality for some larger political purpose. just to point out one obvious sign of your stupidity:
you said:
“I am certain that they didn’t choose the one-party rule that now exists in Gaza.”
Chris, do you think they chose one party rule in the west bank? or does your anger at the palestinians only come out when we disagree with you?

and that is aside from the fact that your pathetic argument ignores how the political system works. By your empty logic, we could say that the government of every european “democracy” is illegitimate because no single party in any european country has an absolute majority. (though, their presidential elections tend to have run-offs)…

Alex,
Even though the nonsense Chris writes on this forum is completely useless and does harm the quality of the discussion, as a general matter, i do not think you should ban his participation. (assuming you can confirm that he is a single person, and not some conglomerate of zionist idiots…) I wish I had more time and energy to point out his utter stupidity, but lucky for us, he is so ignorant that he does the job without our help.

Even the other zionist fanatics like AIG and Akhbar are more valuable to discussion than chris, because at least they have no illusions. Chris doesn’t even understand reality, or is blatantly lying to disrupt genuine discussion…

nafdik,
I would just point out that i think very few Palestinians support the “two-state solution” today. The official circles do, and that’s about all.

February 23rd, 2009, 12:36 am

 

Akbar Palace said:

Israeli Liberals & the Yafeh Nefesh: Politically Irrelevant as Ever

I’m sure Lieberman is also “doing his best” and has Israel’s “best interest” in mind, in his own twisted brain’s way of thinking. But unlike you, I certainly am NOT always “pro-Israel” if that Israel puts a fascist pig in power, smack in the middle of its government.

Shai,

I’m thinking you will be living in Israel while the “fascist pig” takes his seat in the cabinet. I’m guessing you were living in Israel while the Stern Gang leader Begin was in power, and I’m guessing you were living in Israel while the Sabra/Shatilla “mastermind” was in power too.

It must be difficult for you.

Btw, you never answered in clear terms whether you support a government of Israel with Lieberman, or not. Please inform this audience – we are curious.

Yup, I sure do.

“Shai, I put you down as a Hamas supporter also. Let me know if I made a bad assumption.”

You must be kidding. Because I understand their motives, and even claim that I would do the same (or more), means I support them?

Seems like it to me. Tell me what you would do “more” than Hamas. Try to be as speicific as possible.;)

I know you’d like to see all liberal Israelis as members of Hamas, but we’re not.

Spare me detail.

If you’re a bad parent, you might understand why your child is doing drugs, but that doesn’t mean you support her, does it?

Your “kids” got off easy this time.

“My support of Israel is a given. I don’t get that from you.”

That’s a VERY dangerous thing for Israel – to have you, or anyone else, automatically, blindly, support Israel.

My support for Israel isn’t “blind”. I read the news.

That gives us a carte blanche to do anything we want, because we know we have your powerful (lobbying) support in Washington.

Shai, if Israel could do “anything we want”, they would have spent more time in Lebanon and Gaza during the last 2 wars.

So we can continue our Apartheid rule, we can continue our belligerence, our suffocation and subjugation of million of people, and know that your support of Israel “… is a given”.

Israel’s rule has nothing to do with Apartheid. Only Arabs and a handful of Israeli “Yafeh Nefesh” use this terminology.

Well, I’d like to think that your support of the U.S. government isn’t always a given.

It sure is a given. Just like the SC participant’s support of Hamas is a given. Talk to them.

What if your nation is doing terrible things, you’ll still support it?

I find the “Yafeh Nefesh” do more terrible things. They don’t allow Israel to defend herself and thus hold her back politically.

So who will change it, if not you?

You mean “Tikkun Olam”? The change GWB brought to the ME was the best change in 40 years.

Your Conservative Republican upbringing, with it’s “loyalty to America” mantras has blinded you to the point of innate herd mentality.

The “herd” mentality were the supporters of Barack Obama. Remember, he won. 78% of the liberally herded Jews voted for him.

You’ve stopped thinking – you just follow, blindly.

Right, I stopped thinking. That’s why all my friends and family talk to me about foreign relations, because I stopped thinking. I would be willing to guess that I am in the top 5% of Jews in my community who understand the nuances of ME politics.

To you, a criticizer is a non-supporter.

You have surpassed being a casual “criticizer”, frankly Shai, you’re an anti-Israel Israeli. Let’s finally admit it. But you sure do a great job living off the “fat of the land” while your being led by one racist government after the other. How do you live with yourself under these strange circumstances?

And a non-supporter, is unpatriotic or disloyal. And those not loyal, find themselves supporting the enemy. Right? What do you know about loyalty, or patriotism? When was the last time you sacrificed anything in your life to “serve your country”?

I support the US a great deal in my line of work. And I’m very proud of it.

What do you know about moral dilemmas? What do you know about living in a country that you know is racist (not everyone, but many), is dangerous, is belligerent, is a bully, is criminal, is electing fascists into power?

Not a lot. I saw the American black community fight for their rights while the US experienced an “intifada” in the 60s. I’ve seen how our nation has come to terms with their racist beginnings and has now elected our first black president.

Protecting a nation from annihilation is not a moral dilemma to me.

And that is exactly what Israel did in ’48, ’67, and ’73.

And YOU dare lecture me about being pro-Israel? Where are you, and where am I?

Freedom of speech, the last time I heard, in a universal human right. Although it doesn’t exist in many Arab and muslim countries including Hamastan.

Yes, they’re fighting for their basic right to life, to dignity, to self-determination.

All the rights of Palestinians are coded in law if they live in Israel and hold Israeli citizenship. Palestinians living under the PA, are subject to PA laws. Syrians living in Syria are subject to Syrian law. And so forth…

However, countries like Israel have a RIGHT of self defence. What this means is that if a certain Palestinian can only attain “dignity” or “self determination” by launching missiles and mortars toward Israel, rest assured, he will most likely lose his “basic right to life” as he would no matter where he lives on this Earth.

Do you think Palestinian children are born with a genetic predisposition to killing Jews? Maybe you do think it.

No. I do not think Palestinian children are born with a genetic predisposition to killing Jews. I think it is taught and indoctrinated in them from a very early age as shown in this slide-show:

http://littlegreenfootballs.com/weblog/pictures/PalestinianChildAbuse/

What do you think?

“How many missiles does Israel have to absorb before the “Boss gets Mad” again?”

You conveniently didn’t answer the question. No wonder Israel has turned toward the Right, especially the residents of the South.

February 23rd, 2009, 2:35 am

 

Shai said:

Akbar Palace,

“The change GWB brought to the ME was the best change in 40 years.”

Akbar, you’re pathetic.

February 23rd, 2009, 6:55 am

 

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