News Round Up (20 July 2008)

I am headed off for three weeks of travel and vacation so I will not be posting regularly. I will count on Alex, QN, and Ehsani to entertain and enlighten 

The following profile of Syria's first lady, Asma al-Akhras, will become increasingly common. Asma has kept a low international profile until now – in part because Syrian officials have not been swanning around the West — but the Paris tour is a coming out party of sorts. It has  generated great interest and a number of profiles of Syria's beautiful first lady will come out soon. 

Syria's first lady is the more glamorous, modern face of the nation,
writes Jason Koutsoukis.

Power couple … the Syrian President, Bashar al-Assad and his wife, Asma, in Paris.

[Power couple … the Syrian President, Bashar al-Assad and his wife, Asma, in Paris. Photo: AP]

What would it take to distract the international paparazzi from France's first lady, Carla Bruni, at an international leaders' summit in Paris? The answer, quite simply, was Asma al-Assad…..

Abdullah al-Dardari is to embark on a two-day visit to France on Monday in efforts to boost bilateral economic cooperation. The trip was scheduled to "follow up the outcome of the successful visit" of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to France and his talks with French President Nicolas Sarkozy a week ago, said the official SANA news agency.

Dardari will hold talks with French officials, including ministers of economy, industry and employment, and the French President's General Secretary Claude Gueant, to discuss the future of economic and technical cooperation between the two countries, said SANA.

Talks will focus on bolstering cooperation in the field of transport, particularly in civil aviation, railroads and marine transport, as well as cooperation in the fields of energy, gas, petroleum and electricity. Cooperation in communications, the use of information technology to support economic and social development, and cooperation to support the process of economic and institutional reform and capability-building will also be discussed, SANA said.

In a recent press statement, Dardari revealed a more detailed plan in seeking cooperation with French companies during his stay in France, saying he would discuss with personnels of Airbus, a leading aircraft manufacturer, to complete a deal to buy 50 aircraft in the next twenty years. He said he is scheduled to hold talks with the world's fourth-largest oil and gas company Total to renew contract for oil production. Dardari will also seek to obtain the French government's support for these deals and a loan worth of 50 million euros, said informed Syrian sources.

Meanwhile, Dardari is due to endeavor to secure the signing of a partnership agreement between the European Union and Syria, which was initialed in late 2004 but long-stalled after the assassination of former Lebanese premier Rafik Hariri in 2005, said the sources. French President Sarkozy will pay a visit to Syria before mid-September, which would be prepared during Dardari's visit to Paris, said an Elysee statement last week. 

U.S. Talks With Iran Exemplify Bush's New Approaches
In a Matter of Days, Administration Announces Change of Tactics Toward Onetime 'Axis of Evil'
(By Dan Eggen, The Washington Post)

… Many Democrats view the developments as evidence that Bush is moving closer to military and diplomatic policies that their party's presumptive presidential nominee, Sen. Barack Obama, has long advocated.

John R. Bolton, a former United Nations ambassador for Bush who has become one of his most vocal conservative critics, likened the developments to breaches in a dam that is about to burst. "Once the collapse begins, adversaries have a real opportunity to gain advantage," he said Saturday. "In terms of the Bush presidency, this many reversals this close to the end destroys credibility. . . . It appears there is no depth to which this administration will not sink in its last days."

Former White House Middle East director Flynt Leverett, who has criticized the administration for being too hawkish, said the moves on Iraq, Iran and North Korea were signs of "tactical desperation," adding: "It's a recognition that if they don't make these moves, they'll be left with nothing."

White House officials bristle at such criticisms, saying that partisans on both sides have misinterpreted tactical decisions as policy changes. …U.S. officials have said the decision to send Burns was intended to further unify the international coalition that opposes Iran's nuclear work.

Saudi Arabia tried to Disuade France from Inviting Syria: 

French foreign minister Bernard Kouchner confirms that Saudi Arabia's foreign minister, Prince Saud Al-Faisal, visited France before President Assad’s visit in order to convince the French to not seek friendly relations with Syria. Kouchner also said that he hopes the Saudis (who are smart) will understand that there is no other way .. because everyone is working for peace. Finally, he said that the Americans and Israelis approved and supported Sarkozy’s initiatives … including his work with President Assad.

كوشنير يؤكّد لـ»السفير« لقاء الفيصل وساركوزي:
السعوديون ليسوا متحمسين لتقارب دمشق وباريس

محمد بلوط
باريس :
السعوديون ليسوا متحمسين للتقارب الفرنسي السوري. الخلاصة تفرض نفسها في ما قاله وزير الخارجية الفرنسية برنار كوشنير لـ»السفير«، وهو يغادر ظهر امس، منبر مؤتمر صحافي عقده في الكي دورسيه.
انتخب الوزير الفرنسي من سؤال »السفير« عن حقيقة موقف الرياض من تقارب باريس ودمشق، عبارة »قلة الحماس«، مفضلا إياها على تعبير »معارضة الرياض« للقاء الرئيس الفرنسي نيكولا ساركوزي بالرئيس السوري بشار الأسد في قصر الإليزيه الأسبوع الماضي.
»هل أظهر السعوديون معارضتهم او قلة حماسهم للتقارب الفرنسي السوري؟«، يجيب كوشنير المقاطع »أفضل قلة الحماس«.
و»هل أتى وزير الخارجية السعودية سعود الفيصل وتحدث بذلك مع الرئيس ساركوزي؟«، يجيب كوشنير »نعم بالتأكيد«.
وكانت »السفير« قد نشرت الاثنين الماضي، خبر المساعي السعودية للجم الاندفاع الفرنسي تجاه دمشق، في لقاء عقده الأمير سعود الفيصل مع الرئيس ساركوزي، قبل وصول الرئيس الأسد إلى العاصمة الفرنسية. ومن غير المستبعد ان يقتطع ساركوزي والملك السعودي عبد الله، بعض الوقت من عطلتيهما الصيفية في المغرب، للاجتماع بهدف متابعة البحث في الموقف السعودي.
وبات واضحا ان الاعتراض السعودي على تطوير باريس لعلاقاتها مع دمشق، في الوقت الحاضر على الأقل، حجته الراجحة في خطر البرنامج النووي الإيراني، اذ لم يعد تحالف سوريا مع ايران يشكل حاجزا لا يمكن للرئيس ساركوزي اجتيازه، في طريقه إلى دمشق. كما لم يشكل عقبة كبيرة امام القائمين على الاليزيه لفتح أبوابه الأسبوع الماضي امام الأسد.
ويحيل كوشنير »اسباب الاعتراض السعودي حول التقارب مع سوريا«، لاختلاف في »التعبير، في الأنظمة، والبلدان، والموارد، والتحالفات التي تعقدها سوريا، او السعودية وهي قطب مهم في العالم العربي، وهذا طبيعي، ولا يصدم. هذه حال الدنيا ولا جديد فيها«. ويضيف »لم يظهر الاختلاف فقط حول قدوم الرئيس الأسد إلى باريس، بل قبل ذلك.. والجميع يبدل رأيه، ولان السعوديين أذكياء، اعتقد أنهم يفهمون، ولكننا لا نطلب منهم تغيير موقفهم.. هناك مساران سياسيان لا بد لهما من لقاء، لأننا جميعا نريد السلام«.
والشراكة الفرنسية ـ السعودية الإستراتيجية، تملي تنسيقا مستديما بين الرياض وباريس، لكن وصف ساركوزي في الإليزيه للعلاقات السورية الفرنسية المستجدة، بانها بنيوية واستراتيجية، يندرج لدى الوزير الفرنسي في تحولات سياسية أوسع في فرنسا والولايات المتحدة إزاء سوريا وإيران.

ويسأل كوشنير عما اذا كان السعوديون على اطلاع أم لا على ما يجري على الخط السوري الفرنسي. ويقول »من البديهي أننا أعلمناهم بما يحدث.. لكن البعض قد يقدر أننا لم نفعل ذلك بشكل كاف.. لا أعرف! صحيح ان السعودية لم تكن نصيرة للقائنا مع الأسد، إنها علاقات معقدة وحساسة وأفهم اختلاف المواقف داخل العالم العربي، لكن أعتقد أن الجميع قد فهم موقفنا وهو يجنح نحو السلام والتهدئة«.
ويتابع الوزير الفرنسي »بوسع السعوديين الا يقبلوا طريقتنا في البدء، أو لا يوافقوا عليها كليا في مرحلة تالية.. ولكن هذا ليس انطباعي.. ان ما يجري جزء من إعادة التشكيل، ليس الجغرافي فقط، ولكن السياسي والإستراتيجي أيضا.. إنها دبلوماسية الحركة والحوار«.
واختلاف التقدير بين السعودية وفرنسا، لا يفقد تقارب باريس ـ دمشق شيئا من زخمه، ولن يغير الاعتراض السعودي شيئا كبيرا في المدى القريب، لأنه يجري في ظل تفاهم أميركي فرنسي، وتشجيع إسرائيلي. ويقول كوشنير »نلنا تهنئة إسرائيلية على دعوة الأسد إلى قمة الاتحاد من أجل المتوسط.. وقد التقينا بالرئيس جورج بوش وكوندليسا رايس في حزيران هنا في باريس، وعقدنا اجتماعا لأربع ساعات وشرحنا لهم موضوع اللقاء.. وبدأوا بالتفكير بطريقة عملية، انطلاقا من المعطيات الجديدة.. وقد هنأنا الأميركيون على القمة وعلى اللقاء بالأسد لأنه لا يمكن الفصل بين الحدثين«.
ويتقدم التقارب السوري الفرنسي بسرعة أكبر مما يعتقده كثيرون، من دون ان تعيقه شروط مسبقة. ولأن باريس ترى انها حققت الأهم في إعلان الأسد من الإليزيه قرب إقامة سفارة سورية في بيروت، فقد اصبح نافلا بنظرها، ان يسبق موعد اقامتها، زيارة الرئيس ساركوزي إلى دمشق، مطلع أيلول المقبل، طالما ان مبدأ إقامتها قد أصبح واقعا.

'Our resistance is education': Students serve as crucial link between Golan Heights, Syria 
By Meris Moore Lutz

Special to The Daily Star
Saturday, July 19, 2008


DAMASCUS-On a hot afternoon in Damascus in late June, 26-year-old Bashar Fakhradeen ticks of his list of things to do, see, and eat before crossing the border back to his village in the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights for the last time. "I need to get an oil painting of old Damascus, and some mosaic woodwork," he says, sitting in one of the old city's renovated palaces-turned cafes. Giant plasma screens hang from the ancient stone walls, flashing an endless stream of music videos from the Arab world's top pop divas, as tittering groups of teenagers flirt over beer and nargileh.

"This is my farewell to Damascus, so I've just been walking around trying to take it all in," he adds, shrugging helplessly.

Until recently, Fakhradeen was one of approximately 300 university students from the Golan Heights given special permission to cross into Syria to pursue their higher education. But this spring, he graduated with a degree in Arabic literature from the University of Damascus, and so his last days in Syria will be spent saying goodbye to friends and family he may never see again.

"I have been here for eight years – my entire youth was spent here," he says. "I definitely feel a stronger sense of belonging to Syria than when I first came."

Since 1978, the students' unique status has allowed them to act as intermediaries between the Golan Heights and Syria, maintaining the bonds of culture, family and language that they hope will one day lead to reunification. 

The Syrian government, for its part, attempts to attract students from the occupied territory by giving them special privilege at Syrian universities, such as exemption from entrance exams to the most competitive departments, like medicine, and a small stipend of about $20 a month.

Last December, the Syrian government announced its decision to grant citizenship to the students, and began distributing new identity cards, but not passports. However, the Israelis have been confiscating the cards at the border as the students cross back into the Golan for their allotted two-month summer vacation, according to Fakhradeen and other students interviewed for this article.

The Jerusalem Post reported on July 5 that the Syrian government has filed an official complaint with the United Nations claiming Israel is 'abusing' the mostly Druze inhabitants of the Golan by taking their ID cards, dumping nuclear waste in the area, and confiscating land.

The Post went on to report that representatives from a special UN committee for human rights abuses said the Israeli government denied them permission to visit the Golan in order to verify the accusation.

"Syria gives us one card and Israel takes it away," Fakhradeen says, showing off his new identity card, nearly identical to his old one except for a 'citizen number' printed at the bottom. …..



The talk of the town
By Zvi Bar'el and Barak Ravid

The pictures that came in from the French capital depicted him as trying to court Syrian President Bashar Assad, with the latter turning his back on him time after time.

Olmert's advisers were angry. "No such thing," they said and offered the following version: "Time after time, the French, the UN secretary general and others came to us," they said. "All of them asked, 'do you want us to introduce you to each other?' But Olmert gave all of them the same reply and said, 'drop it. I don't want to embarrass anybody.'"

Even if Olmert wasn't trying to "court" Assad, and the pictures were misleading, Syria's behavior at the conference was yet another instance in which Israel was exploited for Assad's purposes. To the extended Israeli hand, the Syrians responded with a hasty retreat from any Israeli who came within 10 meters of them in the conference hall. The Syrians received international legitimization, and Israel again received not even a crumb.

But even if the Syrians rejoiced in the streets of Paris at Israel's expense, they may still have understood it's a lot nicer in Europe than in Tehran. If Assad had a swell time in Paris, that doesn't present a problem for Olmert. On the contrary, let him sense the advantages. Things must also be examined with an eye toward the bigger picture: Israel's freedom to engage in military action in the region in the coming months, especially in the light of increasing talk of a possible Israeli attack on Iran. A Syrian president whose wife can go shopping again in Saint Michel and Saint Germain is not going to be in any rush to join an Iranian military adventure.

Samir Kuntar will visit Syria (Jerusalem Post) and meet with Syrian President Bashar Assad in coming weeks, Qatari newspaper Al-Watan reported Saturday. Kuntar was expected to thank Assad for Syrian's role in defending Lebanon.

Growing Salafist movement in North poses challenge to the project of state building
By Mona Alami of Inter Press Service
Saturday, July 19, 2008

… "Most Salafists are allied to the Saudis and, thus, aligned with American Middle East policy. They maintain excellent relations with the government and the Hariri family," says Bakri. The Hariris are a powerful Lebanese political clan with strong ties to Saudi Arabia. Saad Hariri, son of slain Prime Minister Rafik Hariri, heads the majority parliamentary coalition in Lebanon.

… Different sources interviewed by IPS report that most Salafists seem to follow the pro-government bloc, while other radical Sunni factions, such as Tawhid, are sponsored by either Syria or Iran, and hence, support the opposition.

According to a source, who chose to remain anonymous due to the topic's sensitivity, many Salafist preachers are on the payroll of Arab embassies located in Lebanon. Bakri says this support can be partly explained by Sunnis' growing fear of Lebanese Shiites, represented by Hizbullah….

Thaw in relations with Syria only a 'partial' step – analysts
Hariri tribunal could pose stumbling block in talks
By Dalila Mahdawi

… Paul Salem, director of the Carnegie Middle East Center in Beirut told The Daily Star Friday that the recent thaw between the two states was only a "partial" step toward reconciliation, "part of the general reorientation of Syrian policy" and "indicated a new period in Lebanese-Syrian relations."… Salem said, "the rapprochement between Syria and France suggests that there might be some progress on the issue of the tribunal that we don't know about."..

Elias Hanna, a retired army general and senior lecturer of Political Science at the Notre-Dame University in Lebanon, was optimistic that "regardless of all the complexities faced, I don't think the talks will break down. Syria lost Lebanon, a major strategic asset in 2005, and regaining it now would be of huge value" to Damascus. …

Comments (41)


1. norman said:

Please notice how high her heels are , That is to match his height

Emm,

Now I know why president Bush does not want to meet president Assad , He does not have high enough heels to match his height.

That goes for other Arab leaders , High heels are not enough to make half men full ones.

Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

July 20th, 2008, 11:22 pm

 

2. Majhool said:

مقابلة الرئيس بشار الأسد مع قناة الجزيرة

اللجنة السورية لحقوق الإنسان

قال الرئيس بشار الأسد في مقابلة أجرتها معه قناة الجزيرة بتاريخ 13/7/2008 أن حقوق الإنسان في سورية بخير وأنه لا يوجد في السجون والمعتقلات إلا من يخالف القانون وليس من يعارض الحكومة، وزعم أنه منفتح على الجميع داخل سورية، وأن القانون يطبق بصرامة ضد من يدعو إلى الطائفية ويهدد الوحدة الوطنية، ونفى أن يكون في سورية سجناء رأي لأن انتقاد الحكومة متاح بحرية وأمان.

واللجنة السورية لحقوق الإنسان إذ تأسف لتصريحات الرئيس بشار الأسد المناقضة للدستور السوري وللواقع فرائحة انتهاكات حقوق الإنسان اليومية في سورية تزكم الأنوف.. حتى أن الرئيس بشار الأسد اضطر – حسب تصريحاته في المقابلة- أن يطلب من زعماء العالم ألا يسألوه إطلاق سراح المعتقلين وهذا يعني أن هناك معتقلين كثر في سورية هز بقاؤهم في سجون النظام السوري الضمير العالمي.

وما دام لا يوجد معتقلي رأي وضمير في سورية فلماذا تستمر حالة الطوارئ في سورية منذ 45 سنة التي تتدخل في أخص خصوصيات المواطنين، ولماذا تفعل محكمة أمن الدولة الاستثنائية وغير الدستورية أكثر من أي وقت مضى! ولماذا تصدر المحاكم العسكرية في المحافظات المختلفة أحكاماً مغلظة بحق النشطاء الحقوقيين والسياسيين والمواطنين العاديين! ولماذا يبقى القانون 49/1980 سيفاً مسلطاً على مجرد الانتماء الفكري لأحدى المجموعات السورية! ولماذا يحرم الأكراد من حقوقهم في لغتهم وفي تراثهم ويعيش ربع مليون منهم في بلدهم مجردين من جنسيتهم السورية!

هل انتقاد أداء وزارة التربية مخالفة للقانون أم انتقاد للحكومة؟ وهل كتابة مقال في مدونة ينتقد واقع حقوق الإنسان في سورية مخالفة للقانون أم انتقاد لواقع حقوق الإنسان في البلد؟ وهل إبداء وجهة نظر في الشأن العام مخالفة للقانون أم تعبير عن الرأي؟ معظم المعتقلين يندرجون تحت واحدة أو أخرى من هذه التصنيفات، وكلها حسب تصريحات الرئيس بشار الأسد نقد للحكومة وليست مخالفة القانون؟ إلا إذا كان يعتبر مجرد مباعدة الشفاه بغير موافقة نظامه مخالفة للقانون.
لماذا اهتز الضمير العالمي مؤخراً للمجزرة التي ارتكبتها عناصر الأمن والمخابرات وقوات الشرطة العسكرية في سجن صيدنايا وقتلت العشرات. لقد زعم البيان الرسمي أنهم متطرفون وإرهابيون وبالتالي استباح نظام الرئيس بشار الأسد أرواحهم الآدمية، وهم بالتأكيد ليسوا كما ذكر، إنهم معتقلون من أطياف شتى قاموا بردة فعل آنية لسوء المعاملة والتعذيب الشديد وامتهان مقدساتهم.

لقد قال الرئيس بشار الأسد في المقابلة أنه أفرج عن الآلاف من معتقلي الثمانينيات، وهذا اعتراف منه بوجود آلاف المعتقلين من الثمانينيات، لكن الإحصائيات الدقيقة تشير إلى أن الذين أطلق سراحهم لم يتعد بضع مئات، أفرج عنهم بعد 27 سنة من الاعتقال والتعذيب المهين وخرجوا وهم في حالة مزرية من المرض والفقر والحرمان من حقوقهم المدنية وحوصروا أشد الحصار في حياتهم وأرزاقهم وتنقلهم. أما الآلاف والذين يجاوز عددهم 17 ألف معتقلاً سياسياً فقد اختفوا في السجون وترفض دوائر نظام بشار الأسد الكشف عن مصائرهم وتسوية قضاياهم المدنية العالقة بينما لا تزال أسرهم تنتظر حلاً.

يقول الرئيس بشار الأسد أنه لا يوجد في سجون نظامه من يخالف القانون ، فماذا يقول عن معتقلي ربيع دمشق؟ هل الدكتور عارف دليلة خالف القانون عندما أشار إلى الفساد المنتشر في مفاصل الاقتصاد السوري؟ وهل معتقلو إعلان دمشق – بيروت من أمثال ميشيل كيلو وأنور البني خالفوا القانون عندما طالبوا بتسوية العلاقة مع لبنان؟ وهذا ما اضطر الرئيس بشار الأسد لفعله الآن! وهل معتقلو إعلان دمشق للتغيير الديمقراطي خالفوا القانون عندما عبروا عن آرائهم؟ هل فداء الحوراني ورياض سيف وعلي العبد الله وأحمد طعمة وفايز سارة وزملاؤهم هددوا الوحدة الوطنية ودعوا إلى الطائفية؟ أليس التعبير عن رأيهم في الشأن العام لبلدهم السبب الوحيد الذي قادت أجهزة أمن الرئيس بشار الأسد لزجهم في المعتقلات؟ فإذا قال الرئيس بشار أن حرية التعبير مصانة فلماذا يعتقل كل هؤلاء ؟ أم أنه يكرر عبارت لا يدري أبعادها؟

إن أجهزتك الأمنية يا سيادة الرئيس تزج المتدينين كل يوم في السجون وهم لا يدرون لماذا، وتوجه لهم تهم الإرهاب، وجلهم لا يعلم معنى هذا المصطلح الذي برعتم في استغلاله أكثر من الجهات الخارجية التي اخترعته واستخدمته لحرب معتقدات أمتكم التي تحكمونها بواسطة أجهزة القمع والتعذيب والقتل ورمي المصحف الشريف والدوس عليه، ثم بعد ذلك تزعم أن حرية الرأي مصانة، بل وتطالب جماعات حقوق الإنسان والمعارضين أن يعارضوا من الداخل؟ لماذا يا سيادة الرئيس؟ هل تريد أن تستدرجهم وتنال منهم وتغيبهم في المعتقلات كما غيبت مواطنيهم في الداخل؟

إن تقارير المخبرين الفاسدين تزج بالعشرات يومياً في مراكز التحقيق حيث يلقون المعاملة السيئة والتعذيب على أيدي جلادين غلاظ قساة القلوب، وكثير من هذه التقارير كتبت لأسباب كيدية شخصية أو لأسباب نفعية أو لأسباب انتقامية أو لأسباب مجتمعية وطائفية.. فلماذا تستمر هذه الحالة من الظلم المجتمعي والتفرقة الطائفية والاعتقال التعسفي والعشوائي المرفوض المخالف للدستور… أليس الأجدر عوضاً عن إطلاق التصريحات غير الدقيقة والتي تعوزها الشفافية أن يبادر رئيس الجمهورية إلى تلمس زوايا الخلل ويبادر إلى إصلاحها.

لماذا لا تعترف يا سيادة الرئيس بوجود مئات الآلاف من السوريين المهجرين والمنفيين الذين لا يستطيعون العودة إلى بلادهم، لماذا لا تقول أن مئات الذين حاولوا تسوية أوضاعهم وجدوا أنفسهم ضحية الاعتقال التعسفي والقمعي لنظامك وهم مغيبون الآن في السجون يتعرضون لأسوأ معاملة وتمتهن كرامتهم البشرية. ولا يربطهم بالخارج رابط ! أنت الذي تسافر إلى الخارج وتجلس مع زعماء العالم، أما هم فكثير منهم مشرد ممنوع من حقه في الوثيقة التي تثبت شخصيته، وممنوع من تعليم أولاده وممنوع من العيش الكريم، أليس ما تدعيه تعوزه المصداقية عند التدقيق.

المواطنون الكرد الذين وعدتهم بحل قضيتهم في خطاباتك لم يروا شيئاً من وعود تكررت ولم يتحقق منها شيئاً… لماذا تقول غير الحقيقة في مقابلاتك الإعلامية ؟ هل تخشى الحقيقة؟ ألم تقل أن كثيراً من قيادات الإخوان عادوا إلى البلد ويعيشون حياة طبيعية في سورية؟ أذكر لنا اسم واحد من هؤلاء القيادات حتى يطلع الشعب على كلام رئيسه ويحكم عليه بالأرقام؟ أليس من العار أن يظل مئات الألوف من الشعب السوري مشردين في أنحاء العالم إرضاء لنزوات وليس نزوعاً إلى الصلح وهو سيد الأحكام؟ في كل مناسبة جديدة نتعرف على مئات بل وآلاف السوريين من كافة ألوان الطيف السياسي والديني والاجتماعي والعرقي والمعرفي الذين لا يستطيعون العودة إلى بلدهم لأنكم تطبقون أحكاماً قمعية بحقهم بعيدة عن منطق العصر والعدل والمساواة إذا عادوا هم أو أفراد أسرهم إلى سورية.

أليست قائمة الممنوعين من السفر بحق المحامين والنشطاء والسياسيين وأقارب المعتقلين والمعارضين تتوسع يوماً بعد يوم حتى طالت الآلاف وأصبحت سورية سجناً كبيراً فأين حرية الحركة وضمان حقوق الإنسان التي تتحدثون عنها يا سيادة الرئيس!

وأخيراً تتحدثون أن الحديث في الطائفية محظور في سورية، نود ذلك لكن ما هي عقوبة من يمارس الطائفية على الأرض ويفرق بين أبناء الوطن الواحد! هل يمكنك بكل شفافية أن تذكر للعالم وللشعب السوري النسبة الطائفية لأجهزة المخابرات والأمن والعاملين في الجيش السوري! وكيف تم ذلك ولماذا من قبل نظام حكمكم؟ إذا كان الحديث في الطائفية محرم ونشدد على ذلك فما جزاء من يمارسها على أوسع نطاق على أرض الواقع! أم أن ما تحلونه لأنفسكم تحرمون على الشعب السوري إنكاره وتعتبرونه طائفية؟!

إن اللجنة السورية لحقوق الإنسان تدعو الرئيس السوري بشار الأسد إلى الشفافية في تصريحاته حول حالة حقوق الإنسان في سورية، كما تدعوه إلى إجراء إصلاحات شاملة فورية تطلق كافة المعتقلين من السجون وتكشف عن مصير المفقودين في السجون وتسمح لكافة المهجرين والمنفيين بالعودة الطبيعية إلى بلادهم بدون اعتقال أو مساءلة أمنية، وتحل قضية المواطنين الكرد في حقوقهم في بلدهم ولغتهم وتراثهم وتطلق الحريات العامة وتوقف كل أشكال الاعتقال التعسفي وتضع حداً لصلاحيات الأجهزة الأمنية المتسلطة على أقدار المواطنين وتلغي كل القوانين القمعية وفي مقدمتها حالة الطوارئ والقانون 49/1980.

اللجنة السورية لحقوق الإنسان

Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

July 20th, 2008, 11:31 pm

 

3. norman said:

western investments are coming to Syria , They actually running to Syria,

Gulfsands Petroleum unveils Syrian oil operation
By Andrew Cave, in Damascus
Last Updated: 11:31pm BST 20/07/2008

An oil minnow quoted on London’s Alternative Investment Market will this week announce the beginning of the largest new production of oil in Syria for up to 20 years.

Mahdi Sajjad: From Iraq to Syria via London
Gulfsands Petroleum, which has a stock market capitalisation of just £240m, will begin extracting “first oil” at the initially modest rate of 10,000 barrels per day.

However, it expects this to increase to up to 40,000 barrels per day in the next 18 months.

That would see the new site account for about 10pc of Syria’s annual production.

The announcement, which could come as early as tomorrow, will also reinforce Gulfsands position as one of only a handful of British firms to operate in Syria, which is prevented from dealing with the US by strict economic sanctions imposed by the US government.

advertisementMore on oil
Sources in Damascus, a distinctly unglobalised economy, could point only to the longstanding natural gas and oil involvement of Shell and a branch of Costa Coffee when asked for other examples of British investment in the nation.

“We are proud to be one of the very few British companies operating in Syria,” said Mahdi Saijad, Gulfsands president. Mr Saijad, an Iraqi national, co-founded the company in 1999 with a strategy of using cashflow from existing oil wells in Texas to help finance exploration and discovery in Syria.

“We do have operations in the US but we are a British company. We are based in the UK and this is a significant British investment in Syria. Together with our partners we have already invested £30m in Syria to bring about early production and we would expect to invest a further £30m-£40m to get to full-field development. Our block of oil rights in Syria is estimated by independent analysts to hold a recoverable reserve of between 60m and 70m barrels.”

The block, in which Gulfsands holds a 50pc working interest, is sited in Khurbet East in north-east Syria, about 30 miles from the Iraqi border. The Khurbet East field was discovered in June 2007 in a block that already accounts for 100,000 barrels of oil production per day, mainly by the state-owned Syria Petroleum Company (SPC).

The rights are 50pc owned by fellow London-listed oil group Emerald Energy, though Gulfsands is the sole production operator through Dijla Petroleum Company, a joint-owned company established with SPC under a production sharing agreement.

Mr Saijad said: “Syria is averaging 350,000 to 360,000 barrels of oil per day so by the time we ramp up production we will be accounting for roughly 10pc of Syria’s oil production. It’s very significant for Syria and for us and we’re very excited about it.”

Inward investment sources in Syria stress that the US sanctions provide opportunities for British firms to become involved in the nation’s economy, although clearly they create difficulties too.

“The US restrictions make it difficult to work with American goods and services, particularly technical products,” said Mr Saijad. “However, we have Europe and Japan to deal with and can overcome those difficulties.”

Some commentators also linked the departures of Texas-based Americans John Dorrier and David DeCort as chief executive and finance director respectively earlier this year to difficulties relating to their status as US citizens.

“Obviously the sanctions did not help,” said Mr Saijad, “but it was simply the right time for us to part company at this stage of development.”

Gulfsands will announce today that Richard Malcolm, 57, managing director of the UK subsidiary of Austrian oil group OMV Holding, is to join as its new chief executive. Former Burren Energy finance director Andrew Rose was appointed as Gulfsands’ finance director earlier this year.

Information appearing on telegraph.co.uk is the copyright of Telegraph Media Group Limited and must not be reproduced in any medium without licence. For the full copyright statement see Copyright

Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

July 21st, 2008, 12:57 am

 

4. EHSANI2 said:

Norman,

Of course they are running. I would do too if Cham holding was my partner 😉

Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

July 21st, 2008, 1:16 am

 

5. Qifa Nabki said:

I must say…

There’s been a decidedly low number of bad puns about Sham Holding, Sham Press, etc…

C’mon people. Get with it!

Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

July 21st, 2008, 1:34 am

 

6. Alex said:

Qifa

Rime Allaf did a post about Sham car and Sham everything.

By the way it is Cham Press … with a C : )

Her is Rime’s

Damascus and Sham’s heritage are under attack
Sunday, March 25, 2007, 19:19

There is a common denominator between the name of the new Syrian car and the continuing “modernization” in Old Damascus; the first is an incult insult, the other an irreversible injury, and both illustrate how Syrian authorities are simultaneously misappropriating the name of Sham and abusing its heritage.

I cringed when I read the name of the latest Iranian-Syrian venture: is this car assembled in Syria so magnificent that it is worthy of the name Sham, or has this historical name been so degraded, whether out of ignorance or by design, to allow its association with an ordinary, mechanical object?

It is obviously high time my country produced something other than chewing gum and paper tissues, in addition to some successful manufacturing outside the field of fast moving consumer goods (pharmaceuticals and cotton goods are such cases). It is also high time that some Syrians, at last, may begin to at least dream about owning a car one day, even though Mohamed Imadi (at the time Minister of Economy, and now in charge of setting up a Stock Exchange) once explained that cars, like houses, were a luxury.

But when the makers brainstormed (as if) to list possible names for this car, this one should not have been an option. Sham, a name bursting with significance and connotations, history and memories, passion, glory and even melancholy, is to become synonymous with a vulgar vehicle whose specifications can’t possibly do justice to the weight of meanings it carries. If this is the name chosen for a car that is merely assembled in Syria, what would they have baptized something like the TGV or Airbus? Not that we need to pose this hypothetical question, given that 40 years of Baathist education have ensured that graduates of this system are mostly concerned with faithfully parroting the slogans that will give them a passing grade, a promotion, or a lucrative connection. Pity the nation indeed …

The Syrian authorities should get over this unfortunate obsession with such pomposity that tries to hide, unsuccessfully, an inferiority complex (teamed with a highly dubious reading – and appropriation – of history) and start taking lessons from the communication professionals. Even if they don’t care about the Syrian people’s wishes, for the time being, they could at least aspire to become image-savvy, if only for the reputation of the country as a whole. When producing El Nasr, Egyptians didn’t think of calling it the Alexandria, the Ramses or the Cheops, for example. Nor did the Iranians call their original product Persepolis. Syria’s Cham Palace Hotels (with the more elegant and less awkward French spelling) can at least pretend they are offering a five star service, which I assume is not the case of this particular sham. Just think: if this is the name of the basic model, what will the top of the line, full option version be called?

All this complaining because of a mere car? Yes, because it’s emblematic of many aspects of current Syrian officialdom. The Syrian authorities keep sticking totally inappropriate, grandiose labels to undeserving things and issues. Even worse, they do not realize that this has the opposite effect, and that they are in fact over-promoting mediocrity.

Historical names like Sham, or Cham, are more suited to public libraries, opera houses or concert halls, it at all. Often, however, these don’t need such endorsements to be special: Vienna’s Staatsoper, surely one of the world’s most magnificent opera houses (or indeed buildings of any kind) or its Konzerthaus, from where the New Year’s Day concert is broadcast to tens of millions of homes every year, didn’t need to burden themselves with names from the Austro-Hungarian empire’s riches to be exceptional. More recently, in Paris, the library that François Mitterrand bequeathed to his country was simply la Très Grande Bibliothèque. None of these man-made structures or things borrowed a name laden with historical perspective, or even simply a name; perhaps the regime should rethink its naming strategy with regards to a number of items, and above all leave the historic names, and historic sites, to history. Which brings us to the injury.

The liberties taken with our historical Sham would have been upsetting and insulting enough had they been limited to the name. But both Bilad Al Sham and our present day Sham, as we fondly call our beloved Damascus, have fallen prey to questionable schemes that will cause the greatest, irreparable harm. Native Damascenes are surely not the only ones to be horrified by the flagrant abuses, in every sense of the word, that are turning this ancient oasis of conviviality into a monstrous agglomeration with no respect for the massive responsibility that history places on all civilizations and all rulers, be they chosen or self-imposed.

The so-called modernization plans for the city are the real sham here. There are no philanthropists in this story, and there are no well-meaning but misguided millionaires accidentally damaging historic quarters in order to donate a school, a hospital or modern homes for the countless needy. There are only ruthless people who keep digging deeper into the rich layers of Syria’s past, having already skimmed off the cream of Syrians’ present and future. No amount of investment and vague promises of job creations can disguise the ultimate motives, or can justify the regime’s cavalier approach with our heritage, damaging the core and the soul of our old city.

Damascus already has the dubious attribute of having one of the world’s most expensive real estate, with house prices rivaling Paris and London in certain areas of the city which are certainly out of the league of most Damascenes. Shouldn’t the government begin to concern itself with that problem first, before pretending to “improve” things elsewhere?

But the issue of Old Damascus goes beyond the rights of the people who live and work there, and who are to be uprooted and sent packing to the ever more distant, and ever more depressing, suburbs of Damascus. Indeed, this is about the rights of all Damascenes, all Syrians, and all the heirs to this fantastic heritage. This is about the intense emotions cities like Old Damascus have provoked in compatriots and Damascus lovers like Nizar Qabbani or Ulfat Idilbi, amongst numerous others, who in turn immortalized their infatuations to make us yearn even more for things we took for granted, like countless writers did before them, decades and centuries ago.

Syria’s “responsibles” are acting with complete impunity … and complete irresponsibility. They have allowed every Tom, Dick and Harry to deposit piles of money for the right to “modernize” or “beautify” places that need neither modernization nor beautification. As I already mentioned in this blog last year, high fashion already found its way to The Street Called Straight and there is clearly no heads or tails to the so-called “plans” of Damascus Municipality in its blind ignorance and uncivilized attempt to appear enlightened.

Nobody has the right to treat one of the world’s oldest, if not the oldest, cities with such disrespect, greed and ignorance. No building complex or structure of any kind can justify the continued tearing down of walls that have stood the test of time, only to fall victim to a vulgar demolition crew. I have seen with my own eyes, guided by a friend who happens to be an internationally-known authority on Islamic architecture, the permanent damage done to the great Omayad Mosque, which has been disfigured by ignorant “repairs” that have not been faithful to the original. Are we going to allow such rash behavior to continue all over the old city? All our region’s heritage is priceless and should be safeguarded for future generations, but as a native Damascene I can’t hide the special place in my heart reserved for my Sham.

This online petition to save Damascus is an honest attempt to draw international attention to this problem. While I will gladly add my name to any such initiatives, hoping that UNESCO will put immense pressure on the Syrian government to prevent the destruction of a World Heritage Site, I also believe this is a battle we must fight within our borders, and this is a petition that must be taken to the highest authorities within Syria, who are now tearing down the wrong walls!

Legend has it that Prophet Mohammad refused to enter Damascus after admiring it from Mount Qassioun, as one only enters paradise once; today, tragically, he would have numerous different reasons for refusing to enter it.

Addendum: Fellow blogger Gottfried was kind enough to send a couple of links regarding the demolitions in Old Damascus, which I only saw after posting the above. Please visit his blog here for more information.

Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

July 21st, 2008, 1:42 am

 

7. Qifa Nabki said:

Ktir mahdoum.

If Syrian officialdom is out there listening, here are some suggestions for future uses of the glorious name:

* Start cultivating truffles, and call the outfit “Sham Pignons Farms”…

* Start a sparkling wine business… “Sham-Pagne”!

* When you get the Golan back, rename the ski resorts: “Sham-Onix”

* Develop a suede industry… “Sham Oix”

And so it goes…

Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

July 21st, 2008, 1:57 am

 

8. Enlightened said:

QN”

“Sham. Sham. Sham”

Sham Car is a good one, but it fails in comparison to the NOVA car that was marketed in South America in the early eighties, the car was a big flop. When research was conducted at a later date as why the car was a dismal failure, research revealed it was all in the name, NOVA translated to “It doesn’t go or move”.

So Sham car is a good one, but I think it will be lost in translation (Arabic that is)

Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

July 21st, 2008, 2:20 am

 

9. norman said:

I think building or assembling a car in Syria is more important than we western residents think and naming the first Syrian car with this name probably will make people who are making this car make it better. It will make the Syrians proud .

We have to be happy that it has an Arabic name and was not named an Iranian one who are the ones who introduced to Syria .

Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

July 21st, 2008, 2:49 am

 

10. ugarit said:

not a good name 😉

sham “fake: something that is a counterfeit; not what it seems to be”

How about Ebla?

Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

July 21st, 2008, 3:27 am

 

11. Alex said:

QN,

How much time did you spend coming up with the Sham-X set above?

Funny : )

UGARIT,

How about calling the first production “Tel Aviv” (let our enemy be blamed for the bad workmanship) … then when we get good at building cars, we start calling them “Sham” and “Ebla”

That would be, in my estimate, about the same time we become democratic : )

Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

July 21st, 2008, 3:57 am

 

12. Alex said:

Today’s article by Zvi Bar’el at haaretz .. the Egyptians are not pleased with Syria’s prominence at the Paris summit.

http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/1003499.html

“…One of the housekeeping people at the Ritz Hotel in Paris has an essential job: He sprays the carpeted halls with high quality scent from a shiny, stainless steel canister. At that same luxury hotel, the Egyptian delegation headed by President Hosni Mubarak also took up residence this week. His aides are always smiling, always prepared to tell a clever joke.

“You see that fellow with the scent?” one of them said. “We should send him over to the Grand Hotel – the fellow there also deserves to smell pleasant air so that he doesn’t suffocate from so many hugs.”

By “the fellow there,” he meant Assad, the Syrian president who managed to steal the show not only from Olmert but also from the president of Egypt, the joint chairman of Paris Summit for the Mediterranean that was initiated by French President Nicolas Sarkozy under the auspices of the European Union. “It drives me crazy the way you people build an Arab leader,” said the Egyptian. “We have had a peace agreement for 30 years now, and you see us as a suspicious state. The Syrians hold indirect negotiations with you, they don’t shake your hands, they don’t talk to your reporters and you are already falling in love with them. You haven’t just fallen in love – you are granting them a new status. Thanks to you, in a little while [United States President George W.] Bush will invite Assad to Washington.”

Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

July 21st, 2008, 4:47 am

 

13. Enid Houston said:

Well, I did not have the extra money to find out if first class service was at hand at Cham. Instead I noticed almost 2 yrs. ago that their English version was “server not found” after some freelancer in the pictorial ruins of the desert found “even at 5 star hotels” books depicting a continuing global domination plot by an enemy. It was swift censorship to not embarrass rational thinking foreigners and Syrians. The work in question that I assume was referred to was the infamous “Protocols of the Learned (or Wise) Men of Zion.”

Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

July 21st, 2008, 5:06 am

 

14. Majhool said:

It’s becoming an obsession to block my posts especially those related to human rights.

in the meantime,

NEW YORK’S SYRIAN QUARTER.

New York Times 1899

http://query.nytimes.com/gst/abstract.html?res=9D07E3D61430E132A25753C2A96E9C94689ED7CF

Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

July 21st, 2008, 5:28 am

 

15. Alex said:

Syria’s winding road to peace
The Boston Globe

July 19, 2008

PRESIDENT BASHAR Assad of Syria received a splashy welcome in Paris last weekend at a meeting hosted by French President Nicolas Sarkozy. Assad gave interviews, received visits from notables, and was perched on the reviewing stand for a Bastille Day celebration. At a time when his regime is conducting talks with Israel through Turkish go-betweens, Assad was being shown that he has a chance to end Syria’s isolation.

It was left to Sarkozy to bolster Israel’s overture to Syria because President Bush refuses to engage with Assad’s regime until it changes its behavior. Israeli leaders have no illusions about that regime, but they also see the benefits of peace with Damascus. Bush ought to grasp America’s parallel interest in an Israeli-Syrian peace accord.

At stake is a chance to realize the promise of an Arab League offer of peace and normalized relations between Israel and all 22 Arab states once Israel returns land conquered in the 1967 war. An Israeli-Syrian peace could also lead to an Israeli peace accord with Lebanon, the neutralizing of Hezbollah, and the end of Syria’s alliance of convenience with Iran.

That is why Israeli-Syrian negotiations frighten Iran. An adviser to Iran’s supreme leader was quoted this week in a Saudi-owned daily saying, “Iran does not recognize a state called Israel in the region and would not be pleased for an Islamic country like Syria or Turkey to negotiate with her.” The adviser also warned: “Deep changes will affect the nature of Iranian-Syrian relations if Damascus signs a peace agreement with and recognizes Israel.”

Those changes are the prize Israeli negotiators are pursuing with Assad’s envoys in Istanbul. The Israelis know what they are doing. Israel’s major security threat today comes from Iran – from Iran’s long reach, through Syria, to Hezbollah forces in Lebanon and to Hamas fighters in Gaza.

And Israeli leaders understand something Bush seems not to grasp: that Assad seeks two rewards from a peace treaty with Israel – return of the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights and new, friendly relations with the United States. Assad wants foreign investment, an end to US sanctions, and a powerful new patron to guarantee his security after he breaks with Tehran. He is probably right when he says he will have to wait for a new American president to make peace with Israel. It’s too bad Bush wasted eight years weakening the peace camp in the Mideast and strengthening Iran.

Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

July 21st, 2008, 5:29 am

 

16. Alex said:

Majhool,

No one is obsessed with your incredibly fresh discoveries from your usual online sources.

You are moderated, in case you forgot.

Yesterday you started again to ridicule others (like Observer). This means you will still be moderated for some time.

Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

July 21st, 2008, 5:50 am

 

17. Qifa Nabki said:

Alex

It took no time at all. They came tripping off my tongue. 🙂

Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

July 21st, 2008, 10:57 am

 

18. EHSANI2 said:

In a WSJ article entitled “Mideast’s balance of power shifts away from the U.S.” in this morning’s edition, the ending paragraph states the following:

“Where was America when Hezbollah took over in May, complained Walid Jumblatt, the leader of the Lebanese Druze sect an an ally of the U.S.”

In effect, Mr. Jumblatt seems to have expected the American to do “something”. How foolishly can a man place his bets?

Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

July 21st, 2008, 12:23 pm

 

19. Akbar Palace said:

Just to break up the Anti-American rhetoric on this website, does anyone want to discuss America’s success in Iraq?

“Mission Accomplished”?

Sorry for the “bad” news…

Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

July 21st, 2008, 1:29 pm

 

20. norman said:

AP,
Sorry to give you the bad news but we all here want the US to stabilize Iraq and defeat extremism and you can see that the US is winning because of the help from Syria and Iran ,

So , Lick your wounds.

Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

July 21st, 2008, 2:10 pm

 

21. Murphy said:

Of course, in the grand scheme of things really it “shouldn’t matter” what the wife of a head of state looks like, but I think it’s great that Asma is getting this kind of attention. About time someone showed that it’s not neccessary for an Arab woman to be a servile tool of the “West” in order to be educated, stylish and ‘modern’. Asma – who manages to be all of the above without being a consort of a Western puppet – certainly makes a refreshing change from the horribly bland Rania of Jordan, with her plastic smile and vapid Larry King Live cliches.

Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

July 21st, 2008, 3:06 pm

 

22. Akbar Palace said:

Sorry to give you the bad news but we all here want the US to stabilize Iraq and defeat extremism…

Norman –

Can you back up your claim? I would really like to see who here wanted “the US to stabilize Iraq and defeat extremism”. Are we talking about the same website?;)

Norman said:

President Bush should have known that the neocon will leave his side and blame him for the failiure in Iraq when it is too late to save the country of Iraq ,their aim was established by using the Americans to destroy Iraq for the sake of Israel ,they are feeling now the shift in the US toward the democrats and i beleive they are trying to move to that party to complete their plan for the midleast,God help the US and Syria ,President Bush has two more years and i hope this betrayel by the neo con will move him toward his initial conviction ( HUMBLE)and peace in the midleast ,Syria and Bashar can help save his legacy,that is if he is allowed to.

http://joshualandis.com/blog/?p=81

Bush Administration Policy in Disarray
Tuesday, May 13th, 2008
[Comment by Joshua Landis] Washington’s Middle East policy is in deep trouble.

http://joshualandis.com/blog/?p=709

Alex said:

“James Woolsey heads group of neocon advisers to John McCain”!!

Another macho president who does not know the difference between Sunnis and Shia who is impressed with Woolsey types.

That’s it … if McCain wins, WW3 is coming… starting in the Middle East.

Ibid

Nur al-Cubicle said:

The government that is currently holding us prisoner here in the US

Amen, brotha’. We have been trapped in this terrible nexus of the dirty dozen: Ledeen, Cheney, Woolsey, Elliot Abrams, Fox, AIPAC, GOP, neocons, Likud, Lieberman, Feith, and their agents in Kongress.

To put pressure on this bunch, the sad reality is that it almost seems that we have to rely on Hamas, Hezbollah and the Russians to do the “dirty” work. Ain’t that a damn shame? Our own best people have little to no influence.

Ibid

Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

July 21st, 2008, 3:28 pm

 

23. Off the Wall said:

MURPHY

Agree 100%. Good post. However, I wouldn’t mind seeing Asma on Larry King. It would be an excellent P.R. for Syria. He is a good interviewer, not confrontational, and in most cases, he manages to supress his own political political op pinion. If I was Asma’s PR specialist, I would first urge her to write a book in English and Arabic about her most cherished cause, and then have her on Larry King. It was Queen Nour, who gave the late king Hussain a measure of popularity in the US, Rania is not as capable as her predecessor, for she does not seem to be as intelligent. I have seen one of Asma’s speeches and two pioneering Syrian women i know, who met her on a couple of occasions, attest that she is engaging, knowledgeable, confident, and pleasant. This is one of the reasons that I tend to respect Bashar Assad, and continue to have hope in his character. As a man he chose a woman that complement him not one who would be subservient to him. That is definitely a sign of modern character and as one might say “3aqlo kbeer”.

Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

July 21st, 2008, 3:31 pm

 

24. Nur al-Cubicle said:

Akbar has a new raw flag-waving cause.

Gee, Walid Moallem is gargantuan, like Ariel Sharon was once! But Asma is exceptionally attractive and obviously has a great wardrobe consultant.

Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

July 21st, 2008, 3:43 pm

 

25. Murphy said:

Thanks for your comments.

“It was Queen Nour, who gave the late king Hussain a measure of popularity in the US,”

Sure – but remember that Hussain was a famous ‘moderate’ who made ‘peace’ with Israel. Syria, by contrast is an honourary member of the Axis of Evil. I agree that Nour was/is much more charismatic and intelligent than Rania – who may be beautiful but has all the personality of a loaf of white sliced bread – but her views were acceptable to the US mainstream because she talked ‘peace’ and was always quick to refer to ‘suffering on both sides’ as though the Israel-Palestine ‘conflict’ is symmetrical. Even that is a controversial view in the US mainstream, however, and Larry King (though I don’t watch his silly show) is known to be a Zionist. It’s hard to imagine that Asma’s views (assuming they are those of the Syrian people in general) would be tolerated there, any more than Rania would dare admit that – gasp! – she’s actually a real livePalestinian!

I agree with you that Bashar’s choice of Asma is a positive, but part of me regrets the emergence of the Western style Arab ‘first lady’ whose life, however glamorous, is dedicated to trailing after her hubbie.

Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

July 21st, 2008, 3:44 pm

 

26. norman said:

Ap,

I am so proud of you , You must be a lawyer to keep all this evidence ,
I guess president Bush abandoned the Neocon ideals and goals and changed his goal for the benefit of the US and the Mideast including Syria and Israel , that explains the peace movement and talks between Syria and Israel.

Again It looks like he listened to me by getting Syria and Iran to help him to save the Us and his legacy.

I hope things will get better.

Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

July 21st, 2008, 4:08 pm

 

27. Akbar Palace said:

I guess president Bush abandoned the Neocon ideals and goals and changed his goal…

Norman,

What goals changed? Bush and the “neocons” both wanted regime change and a democratic Iraq. And they got it, with no help from the democrats and the “Arab-street”.

As I’ve shown (it was easy, Professor Josh has a fine arhive), if anyone “changed his goal” it was you and rest of the anti-Bush crowd here.

Nour said:

I really don’t understand where the success is in Iraq.

Nour,

I’m not surprised.

…by the way I am not a democrat I belong to the Republican party.

Norman,

Well at least we have something in common. I sure hope McCain wins over Obama…

Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

July 21st, 2008, 4:18 pm

 

28. Nour said:

I really don’t understand where the success is in Iraq. Basically there is a reduction in total people killed due to the fact that the ethnic cleansing operations have achieved their goals for the most part. Iraq is still one of the most corrupt countries by far, is run more by armed militias than by a real government, and its people are still suffering from a severe lack of basic needs. Add to that that security is still a major problem, and you have one of the strangest success stories I have ever seen. The only thing the US succeeded in is bribing tribal chieftains in order to contain the resistance and reduce the number of US troop casualties.

Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

July 21st, 2008, 4:19 pm

 

29. norman said:

AP,

I am surprised that you do not see the shift in US policy in the region and the benefit that brought the US , by the way I am not a democrat I belong to the Republican party.

And that is why America first is my theme .

Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

July 21st, 2008, 4:29 pm

 

30. Nour said:

Well let’s look at the last week of events in Iraq, shall we?

Monday: 1 US Soldier, 16 Iraqis Killed; 20 Iraqis Wounded

Tuesday: 1 US Soldier, 56 Iraqis Killed; 99 Iraqis Wounded

Wednesday: 1 US Soldier, 29 Iraqis Killed; 126 Iraqis Wounded

Thursday: 1 US Soldier, 10 Iraqis Killed; 15 Iraqis Wounded

Friday: 2 GIs, 5 Iraqis Killed; 19 Iraqis Wounded

Saturday: 13 Iraqis Killed, 5 Wounded

Sunday: 24 Iraqis Killed, 34 Wounded

Now if that doesn’t look like success and stability, I don’t know what does.

Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

July 21st, 2008, 4:38 pm

 

31. SHAMI said:

‘Iran is friends with Israeli people’: Ahmadinejad aide

1 day ago

TEHRAN (AFP) — Iran is “friends with the Israeli people”, a deputy of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said, in stark contrast to Tehran’s usual verbal assaults against the Jewish state, local media reported on Sunday.

Esfandiar Rahim Mashaie, vice president in charge of tourism and one of Ahmadinejad’s closest confidants, also described the people of Iran’s arch-enemy the United States as “one of the best nations in the world”.

“Today, Iran is friends with the American and Israeli people. No nation in the world is our enemy, this is an honour,” Rahim Mashaie said, according to the Fars news agency and Etemad newspaper.

“Of course we have enemies and the most unfair hostilities are committed against the Iranian people,” he said on the sidelines of a tourism congress in Tehran.

“We regard the American people as one of the best nations in the world.”

Ahmadinejad has earned international notoriety for his frequent verbal assaults against Israel, which he has described as a “stinking corpse” and predicted is doomed to disappear.

Rahim Mashaie is one of the figures closest to the president in the Iranian government. This was emphasised earlier this year when his daughter married Ahmadinejad’s son.

Ahmadinejad has repeatedly said that Iran is ready to talk to all countries except the “Zionist regime”, Tehran’s usual description for Israel.

“An unexpected statement: Mashaie talks about friendship with the people of Israel?!” was the headline on the conservative Tabnak news website.

The website said it was all the more surprising he had made the comment when much of Ahmadinejad’s popularity in the Arab world stems from his hostility towards Israel and the United States.

This is not the first time Rahim Mashaie has been involved in controversy. He was sharply criticised by MPs for allegedly watching a Turkish woman dance while at a tourism congress in Turkey.

The Islamic republic has repeatedly vowed never to recognise Israel, which was an ally of pro-US shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi ousted by the 1979 Islamic revolution.

Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

July 21st, 2008, 4:57 pm

 

32. Akbar Palace said:

Well let’s look at the last week of events in Iraq, shall we?

Nour,

Sure, why not?

http://www.usatoday.com/news/world/iraq/casualties/2008-07-02-july-toll_N.htm

Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

July 21st, 2008, 5:35 pm

 

33. norman said:

look at this,

http://icasualties.org/oif/

Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

July 21st, 2008, 5:43 pm

 

34. Nour said:

AP,

So your argument is that Iraq is a success story because now less US troops are being killed? Never mind that Iraq is still a complete failure of a state since the US occupation.

Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

July 21st, 2008, 7:08 pm

 

35. Naji said:

She should a get a prize for walking around in these 12-inch heels without tripping once…! 😉

Where is QN…

Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

July 21st, 2008, 7:40 pm

 

36. Qifa Nabki said:

Well, Naji, her name is Asma…

hardy har har 🙂

Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

July 21st, 2008, 8:08 pm

 

37. Seeking the Truth said:

Iraq’s instability and bloodshed is in part caused by those who want it to serve precisely as a negative example instead of a model that encourages emulation.

Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

July 21st, 2008, 8:16 pm

 

38. Linda Margaret said:

I really liked this post. I found it while looking for info on Syria’s leader. I am surprised by his wife’s dress. It’s not very conservative. That was news to me, but I don’t know a lot about Syrian politics and culture.
Thanks to the info in this post, I think I can begin to see how al-Assad and Sarkozy have become not only political allies but, reportedly, friends.

Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

July 21st, 2008, 10:38 pm

 

39. Akbar Palace said:

So your argument is that Iraq is a success story because now less US troops are being killed?

Nour,

I think you may need to take this up with Norman, who said:

“…we all here want the US to stabilize Iraq and defeat extremism and you can see that the US is winning…”

Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

July 22nd, 2008, 1:52 am

 

40. Nour said:

AP,

I don’t see how my statement is contradictory to the comment made by Norman. Norman is saying essentially that we all want to see Iraq stabilized. My issue is with your conclusion that Iraq is now a success, when all signs point to the contrary. Iraq is a complete failure as a state the way it stands today, and unless there is a dramatic change, it is not likely to get much better anytime soon.

Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

July 22nd, 2008, 3:29 am

 

41. trustquest said:

The first lady looks presidential, yes true, but. For a while, they said that Bashar’s mother would not let Asma take her place as first lady, but I think this may starts to change. Can we call her now The First Lady?
Positive spin,
For the purpose of planting a wedge in my adversaries the Syrian leadership, and for the purpose to be fair regarding some positive changes, I would say hurrah to Asma for showing new face other than the Alawite face which might indicates that other sects start having some power and this will empower people and give them hope to aim as high as presidency. I think the regime starts getting smarter and start thinking about giving people something after 30 years of one ugly face with that look which says, I will kill anyone who dare to think. Now we see the smile from beauty and from the beast (excuse me guys, I think of dictators as beasts) which I think make life more tolerable to Syrians. So, please keep these pictures coming and as they say in the media, there no such thing as bad publicity, it is always good. But the Damascenes might say, hurrah we start wining at last, didn’t we said 38 years ago that we can make him one of us all we have to do is wait, look he is one of us finally.
For him, he looks wonderful, a little gaylike smile and he could have waived his hand instead of stiffly had them on his sides, but he looks presidential, remind you of any western leader who attend dinner in the white house regularly. Syrian people must be proud of him but of course in their heart they wish he was legit, and did not inherit the chair from his father, since the country is not chair.

Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

July 22nd, 2008, 9:41 pm

 

Post a comment