News Round Up (22 April 2008)

The International Committee of the Red Cross has been doing a heroic task of looking after the Palestinians trapped on the boarder between Iraq and Syria. This effort, reported below, to find them homes far from the region (Bravo Chile) is no doubt a result of ICRC efforts as well as Chilean kindness. Many thanks to Jean-Jacques Fresard, chef de delegation of the ICRC in Damascus [jfresard.dam@icrc.org] and to Irenee Herbet [iherbet.dam@icrc.org] the communications and field officer, who gave me a thorough overview of the ICRC's efforts to help the Palestinians last summer.

They have kept up constant pressure on International organizations to do something for these Palestinians, who are the forgotten refugees of the Iraq war. They have also taken every occasion to publicize their plight and to lecture people like me, sending pictures and details in an effort to humanize their conditions and put faces on the numbers. The ICRC is also responsible for the economic and human exchanges between the Syrian population of the Golan Heights and Syria. They have been working tirelessly to get international observers in Syrian prisons, something Syria Comment has covered in the past.

 

37 Palestinian refugees fleeing Iraq fly to Chile

DAMASCUS, Syria (AP) — A group of Palestinian refugees stranded on the Iraq-Syria border since 2006 flew to Chile Sunday under a resettlement plan sponsored by the Catholic Church in the South American country and the U.N. agency for refugees.

The group of 37, including 17 children, was the second to make the trip to Chile. Thirty-nine left in early April.

"It's a lovely day for me," said 45-year-old Youssef Darwish. "At last I will feel that I am a human being. But the sad thing is that I will leave behind my friends whom I lived with for two years."

A third and final group will leave at the end of this month. The 735 Palestinians fled the violence in Iraq in 2006 but were denied entry by Syria, leaving them stranded at a desert camp close to the border. Chile has agreed to take 117.

Syria is already home to an estimated 1.5 million Iraqi refugees and about 500,000 Palestinians.

On arrival in Chile, each of the refugees will receive a monthly stipend of $50, or about $500 per family, as well as free housing, health care and education for the children, until they are fully settled in.

During their first few weeks, they will begin learning Spanish, obtain residency documents and receive physicals.

Authorities also have pledged to find jobs for the refugees, who include tailors, plumbers and drivers.

Iraqi Christians Struggle With Fear After Slayings

BAGHDAD — At the Rev. Thair Abdal's church, where on Sunday mornings sweet songs of prayer stream from the doorway, the congregation's fear of death leaves the sanctuary half-filled. "It's very clear," Abdal said. "Like the light of day, you cannot hide it."

Guards with AK-47 assault rifles man the heavy gates outside. Priests remove their black robes and white collars when they travel in the city. Violence in Iraq has declined dramatically since last year, but members of the country's Christian denominations say they are increasingly under threat.

In March, Paulos Faraj Rahho, archbishop of Mosul's Chaldean community, was found dead after being abducted. This month, Youssef Adel, an Assyrian Orthodox priest, was fatally shot in a drive-by attack in Karrada, one of Baghdad's safest neighborhoods and home to Abdal's Holy Catholic Assyrian Church.

Dozens of churches, monasteries and other buildings have been firebombed, looted or occupied by Muslims since June 2004, according to Assyrian church leaders. Christian relief organizations describe the plight of Iraqi Christians as "ethnic cleansing."

Most Christians in Iraq are Chaldeans, members of an Eastern Rite denomination that recognizes the pope's authority. Other sizable denominations include the Assyrian Catholic Church, which traces its roots to the 1st century. Iraqi Christians are also affiliated with the Church of the East, the Anglican Church and other Protestant faiths.

Pope Benedict XVI and President Bush said that in a meeting last week they discussed the "precarious state" of Christian communities in Iraq and elsewhere in the Middle East.

The Iraqi Christian population numbered 1.35 million before the Persian Gulf War in 1991, according to politicians who cite government statistics from the time. That number has dropped by at least half, according to politicians, priests and religious organizations, mainly because Christians have fled the country in the years since the U.S.-led invasion in 2003.

Violence in Iraq has declined dramatically since last year, but members of the country's Christian denominations say they are increasingly under threat.
.

In Syrian Villages, the Language of Jesus Lives By ROBERT F. WORTH in the NYTimes. "As Aramaic-speaking Christians disappeared, only a number of villages remain the keeper of this largely forgotten language.

North Korea Helped Syria's Nuclear Program
Revelation Could Upset North Korea Nuclear Talks|
By JAY SOLOMON
April 22, 2008 5:04 p.m.

WASHINGTON—North Korea was helping Syria build a plutonium-based nuclear reactor, the Bush administration is set to tell Congress, a revelation that could undermine diplomatic efforts to dismantle Pyongyang's nuclear-weapons program.This week, the Central Intelligence Agency is expected to begin briefing members of the Senate and House Intelligence Committees on the Israeli strike, according to Congressional and administration officials, based in part on intelligence provided by the Israeli government.

The information is expected to confirm that North Korea was helping Syria develop a plutonium-based nuclear reactor similar to the Yongbyon facility North Korea built north of Pyongyang, said an official familiar with the deliberations. The briefings are also expected to confirm that North Korean workers were active at the Syrian site at the time of the Israeli attack.

Less conclusive, however, is any firm evidence that Syria was attempting to develop nuclear weapons, according to the U.S. official. "People will probably spin this information in whatever direction they want," the official said.

A spokesman for the White House's National Security Council, Gordon Johndroe, said: "The administration routinely keeps appropriate Members of Congress informed of national security and intelligence matters, but I'm going to decline to comment on any specific briefings." A spokesman for the CIA declined to comment.

Destination Martyrdom,
A Legacy of Resistance: The hundreds of insurgent documents that were captured in the raid at Sinjar included personnel files on 52 recruits from Darnah; 10 of them included the enlistee's photo
By Kevin Peraino | NEWSWEEK

What drove so many Libyans to volunteer as suicide bombers for the war in Iraq? A visit to their hometown—the dead-end city of Darnah. 

Even before he vanished, Abd al-Salam bin-Ali was an easy young man to miss. Pale, lanky and blind in one eye, the unobtrusive 20-year-old didn't leave much of an impression in Darnah, his hometown in eastern Libya. In school he had studied to become a veterinarian, but after graduation he couldn't find a job. "The economic situation was terrible," recalls his older brother, Abd al-Hamid. "He was looking for work every day." Sometimes Abd al-Salam would set up a folding table in Darnah's Old City and hawk cheap perfumes.

Unmarried, with few prospects, he still lived with his mother. At home, for distraction, he would sprawl in front of the family television and watch "Lion of the Desert," the 1981 epic of Libyan resistance fighters starring Anthony Quinn. Abd al-Salam had seen it over and over. As the war in Iraq dragged on, he also tuned in to Al-Jazeera. Nobody in the family had supported the American invasion, but Abd al-Salam was particularly affected by the bloody images he saw on the Arabic cable news channel….

Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood:

The Institute for Public Policy Research has released a new in-depth report by Syracuse Professor Joshua Stacher examining the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt.  The paper includes an overview and history of the organization; the group's policy positions on issues including the rights of women and minorities, political reform, and the application on Shari'a law; its performance in parliament since winning 88 seats in the 2005 parliamentary elections; and an analysis of western policies toward the organization.

Lebanon

France resumes contacts with Syria
By DPA
Apr 22, 2008, 10:04 GMT

Paris – French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner has met with his Syrian counterpart, Walid al-Muallem, in Kuwait, ending a freeze on bilateral contacts imposed by Paris in December, the French Foreign Ministry said Tuesday.

Kouchner and al-Muallem met on the fringe of a conference on Iraq held in Kuwait. The two men discussed primarily regional issues, 'particularly the political crisis in Lebanon,' the foreign ministry said in a statement issued in Paris.

French President Nicolas Sarkozy broke off diplomatic contact with Damascus in December after accusing Syria of blocking a political solution to the Lebanese crisis.

Sarkozy said links would be restored only when France had proof that Syria was not blocking progress towards installing a consensus president in Lebanon.

Lebanon has been without a president since November, as rival factions argue over who should fill the post.

Carter Says Hamas and Syria Are Open to Peace By ETHAN BRONNER in the NYTimes. "Given the general pessimism surrounding Israeli-Arab peace, the upbeat assessment of former American President Jimmy Carter had a contrarian quality to it."

"Carter's New Doctrine," Sami Moubayed

… Contrary to what many Arabs believed, [Carter] was never anti-Israeli but believed that just like the Israelis, the Arabs had the right to live and hope. They too suffered. They too existed and feared. They had legitimate interests, he claimed, that needed to be respected to bring peace to the Holy Land. These views were shared by his new secretary of state, Cyrus Vance, and national security advisor Zbigniew Brzezinski.

This year, Brzezinski (who is now a foreign policy advisor to Democratic presidential challenger Barack Obama) visited Damascus and met Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. He then visited one of the private universities in Syria and spoke to students of the Faculty of International Relations. Most of them asked questions about the Carter era. They wanted to know why was it that America's number one ally in the region, Shah Reza Pahlavi of Iran, had been toppled by the Islamic revolution of 1979, despite assurances of support from the Carter White House?

They asked him about the arming and training of jihadis to fight the Soviets in Afghanistan in December 1979. They asked him what could be expected in Syrian-US relations if Obama made it to the White House? That visit was frowned on by decision-makers in Washington, who accused Brzezinski of visiting a nation "that disrupts regional peace and supports international terrorism".

The psychological shock of seeing Brzezinski in Damascus was nothing, however, compared with what happened when Carter landed in the Syrian capital on April 18 to meet not only Assad but also Khaled Meshaal, the head of the political bureau of Hamas, a Palestinian military group that the US brands a "terrorist organization". ….

The Carter Center explained the trip, saying it aimed to "support and provide momentum for current efforts to secure peace in the Middle East". Carter said, "I feel quiet at ease in doing this. I think there's no doubt in anyone's mind that if Israel is ever going to find peace with justice concerning the relationship with their next door neighbors, the Palestinians, that Hamas will have to be included in the process."

Pro-Israeli think thanks in Washington have been slamming Carter for his audacity — "He actually hugged a Hamas official" –to meet with Hamas.  See the barage of articles by WINEP here.

Syria tunes in the West on Madina FM

Popular 'Good Morning Syria' host Honey Sayed and others on the airwaves are mixing thumping music and racy U.S.-style talk shows, providing a rare cultural bridge in the Arab world.

By Borzou Daragahi
Los Angeles Times Staff Writer 
April 22, 2008 

DAMASCUS, SYRIA — It's the midmorning commute, and time for the horoscope on "Good Morning Syria," the nation's hottest radio show.  "Cancer," host Honey Sayed addresses listeners first in Arabic, then in English, with an air of sisterly candor, "don't get all worked up for nothing." On the other side of the window, deejay Abdullah Shaaban cues an oldie from John Travolta and Olivia Newton-John. "I got chills, they're multiplying," Travolta sings. "And I'm losing control."  Honey laughs and continues with her astrology report. "An opportunity is present," she coos into the microphone, "so take it, Leo."  Newly instituted freedom on the nation's airwaves has transformed Syria's sonic landscape. Some say it is shaping the way people view themselves, part of a wave of global influences turning this nation, whose government is the most hostile to the West in the Arab world, into the culture most amenable to it…..

Comments (34)


1. T said:

The Newsweek article “Destination Martyrdom” is part of a constant smear in US Media against Muslims.

Will there ever be an eqivalent article (complete with class photo) of the ‘foreign’ spy line up? Just hoping to see equal treatment for all sides; Democratic smearing.
“Destination Treason”?

Another Spy Story Suppressed to Save Israel
Posted: 08/15
From: Mathaba
By Curt Maynard

Well guess what reader, the United States government has done it again, they’ve hidden another Jewish spy from the American public, but this time the cats out of the bag, someone leaked the details and now we find that another Jewish American, this time a Navy Petty Officer by the name of Ariel J. Weinmann has been arrested for passing along Top Secret information related to National Security to the Israeli government.

In Weinmann’s case, one can bet the information he stole was of a highly classified nature, you see Weinmann was stationed on an American nuclear submarine, the USS Albuquerque. Despite this, Kate Wiltrout, of theVirginian-Pilot reports:

The Navy originally refused to release basic information about the Weinmann case – including the dates of his Article 32, or preliminary hearing – but reversed course after The Virginian-Pilot revealed Weinmann’s confinement, and the secrecy with which it was being handled.[1]

Many people reading this will automatically assume that the Navy was keeping the case mum so as not to let the Israeli’s know they had caught Weinmann, but this isn’t the case, the Israeli’s probably knew before the Navy that Weinmann had been arrested, the Navy was keeping the case quiet in an effort to keep the American people in the dark, just as the United States government did with more than one hundred and fifty Israeli’s after they had been arrested for espionage just after 9-11, and the five Israeli’s that were arrested on 9-11 as a result of being witnessed by several people laughing while filming the impact of the airliners into the twin towers and clapping one another on the back in a congratulatory manner.

The Navy buried Weimann’s case in the hope that the American people would never find out about him and what he did, just as the government did with Asher Karni, an Israeli Jew arrested at Denver International Airport on January 2, 2004 for having sold [past tense] more than sixty nuclear weapon detonators to Pakistan, a country populated by more than three hundred million Muslims, who generally don’t like the United States and where the name “Osama,” is the most popular name for a newborn male child.

There are dozens of cases just like these; that have occurred in this country recently, the common denominator is that they all involve ethnic Jews. Another case is that of American citizen, Yehuda Abraham, a New York City Jeweler and Orthodox Jew, who was arrested in 2003 for having sold FBI agents posing as Al Qeada operatives Russian made, shoulder launched, surface to air missiles, with the understanding that they’d be used against Americans on domestic flights. Ever heard of any of these people? Surprise, the fact that you haven’t doesn’t mean they aren’t real people and they weren’t arrested for the above crimes, they are all quite real and they are all quite guilty.

The other day I emailed an article about Weinmann to an acquaintance who replied that the case probably wasn’t that big of a deal based upon the fact that the media wasn’t reporting it. Besides, the fool wrote back, how much classified information would a Petty Officer have access to? I then quickly typed up another missive and sent it back to the miscreant, pointing out that there was a case involving an Army Specialist a few years ago in which the young man was arrested and tried for treason after he had passed along completely useless and antiquated information on the M1 Abrams battle tank.

The information he passed along was information that could have been gathered on the Internet, this is not to mitigate what he did, he passed this information on to FBI agents posing as Al Qaeda operatives, thus he committed treason and I’d be the first to say he should be held responsible. His name is Ryan G. Anderson and he sits in a Military prison today with a life sentence – just where a traitor should be. Anderson was a Specialist, a glorified private really, who did not have access to anything spectacular – Weinmann was a Petty Officer stationed on a ballistic missile submarine that stole classified information that was directly related to American national security – do you see the difference?

When Anderson was arrested the entire media apparatus went immediately to work – before the end of the day his face had been splashed across every television screen in America a dozen times, every newspaper had his face on the front page the next day – in short – nobody was trying to cover up Anderson’s crime, not like they are with Weinmann. What’s the difference?

Another common denominator associated with people arrested for spying on behalf of Israel is that Israel is almost never mentioned by name; it is always referred to as a “foreign government.” The media does this so as to report whatever story may be in the works but at the same time to protect that little Middle Eastern provocateur from exposure – how can you convince Americans in the hundreds of millions that their hard earned tax dollars should be sent overseas to bolster the Zionist state if everyone knows that Israel is an enemy, not an ally. As an example of the media predilection, please note the following Associated Press blurb from an article entitled “Sailor Faces Spy Charges”:

Officials accuse Weinmann of passing classified information to a foreign government representative in Austria and again in Mexico.[2]

The reason the government attempted to cover up Weinmann’s arrest and the media attempts to suppress the fact that the “foreign government representative,” was an Israeli are the same – to prevent Americans from learning the extent of the Jewish nation’s intrigues against the United States and to keep the money rolling into Israel as if everything were A-okay.

——New Case Just in:BBC News April 22, 2008 (includes photo) http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/americas/7361446.stm

US man held on Israel spy charge
US authorities have arrested a military engineer on suspicion of giving secrets involving nuclear weapons, fighter jets and missiles to Israel in the 1980s.

Ben-Ami Kadish was detained for participating in a conspiracy to disclose documents related to national defence, the justice department said.

Mr Kadish worked at the army’s Armament Research, Development and Engineering Centre in New Jersey from 1979 to 1985.

He is accused of giving material to an Israeli consular official while there.

His alleged handler has been named by justice officials as the former consul for science affairs at the Israeli Consulate General in Manhattan, reportedly the same person who dealt with Jonathan Jay Pollard, who is serving life in prison for spying for Israel.

Pollard passed thousands of documents to Israeli agents while working at the US defence department. He was convicted in 1987.

The Israeli government publicly admitted in 1998 that Pollard had been their agent and awarded him Israeli citizenship.

‘Major weapons system’

According to the complaint filed in Manhattan federal court, Mr Kadish borrowed several classified documents related to national defence from the army’s research centre between 1980 and 1985 and took them to his home in New Jersey.

Mr Kadish would then hand over the documents at his home to the Israeli consular official, who would photograph them in the basement, it added.

The complaint said Mr Kadish appeared to have received small gifts and restaurant meals for his alleged spying – not cash.

One of the documents “contained information concerning nuclear weaponry and was classified as ‘Restricted Data’… because the document contained atomic-related information”, the complaint said.

Another, classified as “Secret” and “Not Releasable to Foreign Nationals”, contained “information concerning a major weapons system – a modified version of an F-15 fighter jet that the United States had sold to another country”.

Modified F-15s have been sold to Israel, Japan, Saudi Arabia, Singapore and South Korea.

Documents relating to the US Patriot missile air defence, classified as “Secret”, were also borrowed by Mr Kadish from the library.

The court documents also allege that Mr Kadish lied to US law enforcement officials on 21 March 2008, the day after he was told to do so by his Israeli handler during a telephone conversation.

In that conversation, Mr Kadish’s handler was quoted in the complaint as telling him: “Don’t say anything… What happened 25 years ago? You don’t remember anything.”

Mr Kadish has been accused of conspiring to disclose documents related to the national defence of the US to the government of Israel and of conspiring to act as an agent of the government of I

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April 22nd, 2008, 10:42 pm

 

2. blowback said:

The information is expected to confirm that North Korea was helping Syria develop a plutonium-based nuclear reactor similar to the Yongbyon facility North Korea built north of Pyongyang, said an official familiar with the deliberations.

Then this is all a pile of crappy lies – Yongbyon was a natural uranium reactor not a plutonium reactor so Jay Solomon’s source is a lying shit!

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April 22nd, 2008, 11:21 pm

 
 

4. T said:

AP,

Standing in for AIG today? Thanks for the info- there are so many I can’t keep up but will add yours to my file.

Please see the following:
1. http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article7545.htm
2.

3. http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article6480.htm

4. http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article5133.htm

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April 23rd, 2008, 3:31 am

 

5. Naji said:

A ‘Surge’ for Refugees

By MORTON ABRAMOWITZ, GEORGE RUPP, JOHN WHITEHEAD and JAMES WOLFENSOHN
April 22, 2008
Op-Ed Contributors

IT is a grave humanitarian crisis: 1.5 million Iraqi refugees living in deplorable and declining conditions in Syria and Jordan.

They are clustered not in camps but in overcrowded urban neighborhoods, crammed into dark, squalid apartments. Many have been traumatized by extreme violence. Their savings are dwindling; many cannot afford to pay for rent, heat and food; few have proper medical care.

After meeting with refugees, leaders in both Syria and Jordan and United Nations experts, we came to the inescapable conclusion that this crisis could endure for years and that much more help is needed now.

There is absolutely no denying that the United States has a special responsibility to help. The sectarian violence these Iraqi refugees have fled is a byproduct of the invasion and its chaotic aftermath — yet America has paradoxically done far less than its traditionally generous response.

But while the United States must lead, the scale of this humanitarian emergency and its uncertain duration require international contributions, including the active participation of European and Gulf Arab states.

The refugees face three alternatives: return, remain or resettle. None is a good option. It is too dangerous to go back, they will become increasingly destitute if they remain where they are, and yet only a few will be resettled in other countries.

The United States and the international community must therefore take three actions to ease the plight of displaced Iraqis until the day comes when they can safely return home.

First, these refugees simply need more aid. We estimate that to serve this population a minimum of $2 billion is needed annually for at least the next two to four years and it is fitting that the United States cover at least half of this cost.

Contributions from the international community have been woefully inadequate. So far this year the United States has given only $208 million in direct humanitarian assistance for displaced Iraqis. The gulf states have given $11 million since last October. And with its significant oil funds, the Iraqi government must do better in assisting its own uprooted citizens: the $25 million it has allocated in this year’s budget is grossly insufficient. Host countries must also allow nongovernmental organizations better access to Iraqi refugees and affected local communities.

Second, because a sizable population of Iraqis will not return home under any circumstances, more refugees must be resettled in more third countries. Unfortunately, many doors have closed or are being closed. Again, the United States must lead, and it is failing: our government has resettled fewer than 5,000 Iraqi refugees since the war began.

This year America should at a minimum meet its target of resettling 12,000 Iraqi refugees and fulfilling its commitment to admit 5,000 Iraqis (and their dependents) who have worked for the United States and are eligible for special immigrant visas.

In the years ahead, the United States can realistically admit at least 30,000 Iraqis annually. European countries — especially Britain, which, like America, bears a particular responsibility — should be taking in larger numbers of vulnerable Iraqis like single women with children and those who worked for the coalition.

Third, it is important to bring attention to the Iraq refugee problem. To this end, the United Nations secretary general, Ban Ki-Moon, should organize a high-level conference of regional countries and interested donors.

The conference should examine the plight of Iraqi refugees and pledge concrete help. Because there is also an urgent need for actions that can improve conditions in Iraq and facilitate the safe, voluntary return of many refugees, the conference must include foreign ministers who can grapple with the diplomatic and political aspects of the crisis, not simply the humanitarian ones.

Discussions about Iraq both here and abroad inevitably focus on the surge and on timelines for troop withdrawal. Missing is any realistic assessment of the fate of Iraqi refugees, 1.5 million people who have a crucial role to play in ensuring the long-term stability of the region.

Morton Abramowitz is a former president of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. George Rupp is a former president of Columbia. John Whitehead is a former deputy secretary of state. James Wolfensohn is a former president of the World Bank. They are members of the International Rescue Committee’s board.

Copyright 2008 The New York Times Company

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April 23rd, 2008, 5:42 am

 

6. MSK said:

Dear Josh,

Do you have an idea why Syria, who let 1.something million Iraqis enter the country (not to forget the tens [hundreds?] of thousands of Lebanese in summer of 2006), refused a few hundred Palestinians to enter? I still don’t get it.

And yes, it’s all the Americans fault blablabla (that’s for a bunch of the commenters – you know who you are).

But still, why did the Syrian gov’t make that decision? What’s the policy behind it?

Maybe Alex can explain it (in the 3rd or 4th paragraph, after extolling the virtues of Baby-Assad ;))

–MSK*

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April 23rd, 2008, 6:50 am

 

7. Alex said:

Bashar is very modest

He is very smart

He is calm , controlled and cautious.

Ok. Paragraph 4 now… I asked many people but no one seems to have an answer. And I don’t either. But it must be something symbolic (given the numbers involved).

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April 23rd, 2008, 6:58 am

 

8. Rowan Berkeley said:

I have been watching all the open-source and non-subscription based english-language reporting on the supposed Syrian reactor, ever since the air raid on September 6, 2007, and in my considered opinion there’s no “there” there.

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April 23rd, 2008, 11:05 am

 

9. Nour said:

“Some say it is shaping the way people view themselves, part of a wave of global influences turning this nation, whose government is the most hostile to the West in the Arab world, into the culture most amenable to it…..”

Since when was Syria hostile to the west? What has Syria ever done to harm the west? Just because they refuse to obey orders coming from western powers regarding matters of their national interest does not make them hostile. It is the west which is more hostil to Syria than any country in the Arab World.

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April 23rd, 2008, 11:23 am

 

10. Akbar Palace said:

Standing in for AIG today? Thanks for the info- there are so many I can’t keep up but will add yours to my file.

T –

Does your file include skyscrapers toppled by Islamic terrorists?

There was one such occurrance in 1993 that only killed 6 people.

Add that one too.

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April 23rd, 2008, 11:43 am

 

11. wizart said:

Nour,

I think Syria is (perceived) to be hostile to the West only because it supports Iran, Hamas and Hizbulla in their political Islamic way of resistance for which they’re perceived to be godfathers of terrorism which has become public enemy #1 since 9/11, 2001. Syria’s image in the world doesn’t reflect its peaceful reality although in this day and age perception is often more important.

There was a pretty insightful interview between Faisal Qassem and Wafa Sultan on Jazzira a while ago discussing this so called clash of civilization and the role of political Islam in the conflict.

http://www.aqoul.com/images/wafa_sultan.pdf

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April 23rd, 2008, 1:03 pm

 

12. T said:

An update here on that fake CIA/Mossad creation known as Al Qaeda. I am not posting this sarcastically- this really made me laugh, it is so absurd! Zawahiri even defends his Israeli backers.

Al-Qaeda accuses Iran of 9/11 lie
BBC News April 22, 2008

Al-Qaeda’s deputy leader, Ayman al-Zawahiri, has blamed Iran for spreading the theory that Israel was behind the 11 September 2001 attacks.

In an audio tape posted on the internet, Zawahiri insisted al-Qaeda had carried out the attacks on the US.

He accused Iran, and its Hezbollah allies, of trying to discredit Osama Bin Laden’s network.

Correspondents say the comments underline al-Qaeda’s increasing public hostility towards Iran.

In a two-hour audiotape posted on an Islamist website, Osama Bin Laden’s chief deputy responded to questions posted by al-Qaeda sympathisers.

In response to a question about persistent rumours in the Middle East that Israel was involved in the 9/11 attacks, Zawahiri said the rumour had begun on the Hezbollah television station, Al-Manar.

“The purpose of this lie is clear – [to suggest] that there are no heroes among the Sunnis who can hurt America as no-one else did in history, he said.

“Iranian media snapped up this lie and repeated it.”

Sunni fears

Zawahiri went on to criticise Iran for co-operating with the US in its 2001 invasion of Afghanistan, that helped to oust the Taleban.

“Iran’s aim here is also clear – to cover up its involvement with America in invading the homes of Muslims in Afghanistan and Iraq,” he said.

This is the second verbal attack on Iran, a predominantly Shia Muslim country.

Earlier this month, in an audiotape marking the fifth anniversary of the fall of Iraq’s leader Saddam Hussein, the al-Qaeda deputy accused Iran of planning to annexe southern Iraq and the eastern part of the Arabian peninsula.

BBC security correspondent Rob Watson says such messages appear designed to play on Sunni fears throughout the region of growing Iranian influence, and to present al-Qaeda as the best bulwark against Tehran.
——————Agitprop Correction———————-

The “rumor” was leaked by Israel itself, when Haaretz implicated fellow countrymen.

Odigo Says Workers Were Warned
Of 911 Attack 2 Hours Before
By Yuval Dror
Ha’aretz Daily – Israel 1-12-1

Odigo, the instant messaging service, says that two of its workers received messages two hours before the Twin Towers attack on September 11 predicting the attack would happen, and the company has been cooperating with Israeli and American law enforcement, including the FBI, in trying to find the original sender of the message predicting the attack.

Micha Macover, CEO of the company, said the two workers received the messages and immediately after the terror attack informed the company’s management, which immediately contacted the Israeli security services, which brought in the FBI.

“I have no idea why the message was sent to these two workers, who don’t know the sender. It may just have been someone who was joking and turned out they accidentally got it right. And I don’t know if our information was useful in any of the arrests the FBI has made,” said Macover. Odigo is a U.S.-based company whose headquarters are in New York, with offices in Herzliya.

As an instant messaging service, Odigo users are not limited to sending messages only to people on their “buddy” list, as is the case with ICQ, the other well-known Israeli instant messaging application.

Odigo usually zealously protects the privacy of its registered users, said Macover, but in this case the company took the initiative to provide the law enforcement services with the originating Internet Presence address of the message, so the FBI could track down the Internet Service Provider, and the actual sender of the original message.

Monty Python could take a lesson from these clowns.

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April 23rd, 2008, 1:09 pm

 

13. T said:

Israel was responsible for banning Manar in US and around the world. Guess who is helping them now??

Al-Qaeda Deputy Slams Iranian-backed Hizbullah TV

18 Nissan 5768, 23 April 08 05:34by (IsraelNN.com) The second-in-command to international al-Qaeda terror chief Osama bin Laden slammed the Iranian-backed Hizbullah al-Manar TV network Tuesday in a two-hour audiotaped statement posted on an Islamist website. Ayman al-Zawahri accused the television network of starting a rumor that Israel was behind the 2001 attack on the World Trade Center in New York and the Pentagon in Washington DC.

Al-Zawahri said the network was acting as a proxy for Shi’ite Iran, which he charged with trying to discredit al-Qaeda by laying the blame for the attacks at Israel’s doorstep. “The purpose of this lie is clear — [to imply] that there are no heroes among the Sunnis who can hurt America as no one else did in history. Iranian media snapped up this lie and repeated it,” he said in his two-hour internet harangue.

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April 23rd, 2008, 2:37 pm

 

14. Shai said:

T,

Wouldn’t it be the greatest coup if Bin Laden was actually Ben Ladensky? 😉

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April 23rd, 2008, 3:57 pm

 

15. T said:

The conspiracy mill cites bin laden antecedents being from yemeni jews, so who knows!!?

Only certainty is- Al Qaeda is a farce.

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April 23rd, 2008, 4:24 pm

 

16. Akbar Palace said:

An update here on that fake CIA/Mossad creation known as Al Qaeda.

T –

You forgot to add Hamas, Hezbollah, Nasrallah, Meshaal, Arafat, Islamic Jihad, the Muslim Brotherhood, Assad, and Ahmadinejad to your list of “CIA/Mossad” creations.

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April 23rd, 2008, 4:54 pm

 

17. T said:

AP,

Nice to know you are more loyal to a foreign land than your own. Why not move there and make an honest woman out of yourself?

Man & organization responsible for issuing the latest “Al Qaeda” threat–

Rohan Gunaratna is “an international terrorism expert”. He is the head of the International Center for Political Violence and Terrorism Research at Nanyang Technological University in Singapore. He is a Senior Fellow at the Jebsen Center for Counter Terrorism Studies, Fletcher School for Law and Diplomacy and

an Honorary Fellow at the International Policy Institute for Counter Terrorism in Israel

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April 23rd, 2008, 5:03 pm

 

18. Akbar Palace said:

Nice to know you are more loyal to a foreign land than your own.

T –

I am no more loyal to a foreign land than any of the presidential candidates;)

Good luck with your “jihad”.

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April 23rd, 2008, 5:31 pm

 

19. T said:

AP,

You indicate quite well who you serve and where your realy loyalty is. I have never once on this forum seen you defend your OWN alleged country over the foreign one. That speaks for itself.

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April 23rd, 2008, 5:48 pm

 

20. Naji said:

http://www.rimeallaf.com/mosaics/index.php?entry=entry080423-102035

Mainstream media and “Nouveau Orientalism”
Wednesday, April 23, 2008, 15:20

I may be in a minority here, but I’m tired of reading “Nouveau Orientalist” articles beginning with sentiments like “I thought Syrians were evil people but they turned out to be welcoming and nice” and ending with deep statements like “things are much more complicated than they look on the surface.” You don’t say.

If this weren’t cause enough for complaint, what annoys me even more than the actual articles are the reactions by some Syrians, Syria lovers and ubiquitous regime apologists (the Neobaathists, who would credit their idols for any “positive” news from Syria), who go on quoting endlessly, excitedly what this American journalist said or what that foreign reporter wrote, often in the most superficial and generalist of manners.

I can only imagine the elation caused by yesterday’s Los Angeles Times piece on Al Madina FM and its English-speaking presenter. My husband and I had been in the car one day, and we both looked at each other, raising our eyebrows (see below for an explanation of what this means) and laughing (not in a good way) when we heard “Good Morning Syria” as we scanned the stations. Likewise, we had not understood why Al Madina FM was advertising on billboards in English. I’ve already got a project for an expat-targeted radio show (one in about 10 other such “projects” which languish on my to-do list, which should really be called “wishful thinking”), which would definitely advertise in English, but most expats don’t speak Arabic and would struggle to make sense of “Good Morning Syria”, so it can’t be for them – and Al Madina FM does not claim this on its website (which you can check if you can bear the “SANAesque” spelling and syntax).

Could it be that we were not impressed because we didn’t understand the potential target audience (?) for such shows? Thankfully for clueless people like my husband and I, the LA Times’ Borzou Daragahi explains that “despite the political and military tensions, the rhythms and textures of daily life here are increasingly meshing with those of Western nations.”

Hence “Good Morning Syria,” one assumes, which he describes as the nation’s hottest radio show. In fact, the article continues: “On the streets of Damascus, people breezily draw in American sounds, sights and icons, making them part of their own cultural DNA.” Good thing all those Syrians are compensating for their other backward cultural habits; but even for someone who is quite partial to Americana and to many such sights and sounds, I find the premise rather simplistic. Daragahi, however, argues that “transforming a nation’s culture can shift it toward the Western orbit” – a one-way “globalization” of which he clearly approves.

In addition to making sweeping generalizations about the Arab “state of mind” (a term which I am certainly not trying to borrow from Raphael Patai’s pathetic prejudiced discourse), Nouveau Orientalism also plants ideas which are skewed: the description of the Syrian government as being “the most hostile to the West in the Arab world” is a loaded statement, and it is false. In fact, this government would love nothing more than to be on good terms with “the West” and would rather invite “Westerners” (rather than qualified expats more knowledgeable about the country) to carry out consultancy on every aspect of “reform.” I can assure you that the love affair with Britain, to name but one country in “the West,” is being facilitated at the highest levels. Anti-American policies, certainly (especially as many of these are anti-Syrian themselves), but anti-West certainly not.

Other Nouveau Orientalism types of articles simply rehash Classic Orientalism, such as this recent article alluding that Syrian men – or at least the frustrated, obnoxious jerks who stalk the streets and harass women – are apparently only interested in foreign women, who are “having a hard time adjusting to the attention of Syrian men.” Too bad no Syrian women were asked about how they suffer the indignity of groping, touching, pushing and other physical assaults, without even mentioning the looks, the whispers and the obscenities imposed on them, especially in crowded places. This unfortunate fact of life eludes NPR reporter Peter Kenyon and his interviewees, who clearly believe that they are considered to be somewhat special, as explains a young student of Arabic; “Every time I tell a Syrian that I’m American, they just get really excited and happy.” How lovely. And how strange. For my part, I don’t know when was the last time I was really excited and happy when introduced to an American, but that must be because I haven’t met George Clooney yet. And it won’t be because of his nationality, but I digress.

Other Nouveau Orientalists helpfully explain the quirks of this country with statements that made me raise my eyebrows (go figure, I must have been in denial): according to Haley Edwards of the Seattle Times, ”In Syria, raising your eyebrows does not connote “surprise.” It means “no.”

Apart from this anomaly, however, Edwards sets the reader’s mind to rest about Syrians’ normalcy by describing that “in certain neighborhoods, you’ll even see Syrian women wearing jeans, heeled boots and flipping the bright-blond highlights in their hair.” Wow. Now if that doesn’t impress you, I don’t know what will.

But since writers in mainstream media pride themselves on being balanced, this glorious account does not fail to acknowledge the fact that Islam and its oppressive laws are ever present; for example, she explains (with what she thinks is a lot of humour, surely unwarranted for the subject), that ”the punishment for, say, stoning your flirtatious wife to death in the cul-de-sac outside your uncle’s house on a sunny afternoon is pretty light.”

Yes, indeed, the public stoning of women is a rather unfortunate practice in Syria around every street corner. As if women didn’t have enough real legal and social issues to deal with.

Edwards goes completely Orientalist with her description of Syrian generosity: ”You can’t walk a block in Damascus, or in Palmyra or Homs, for that matter, without a stranger (a fig merchant, a goat herder, a hair stylist) inviting you into his home, thrusting an infant into your arms and offering you a spread of baba ghanouj and hummus and black tea so sweet it would make even the most ardent disciple of Southern hospitality flush with competition.” How many clichés did you count in that sentence?

The Telegraph’s Peter Hughes, while not as exaggerated, agrees about the hospitality in a country “he had expected to find difficult” and about which he clearly had very little information, given that he describes Syrian food as ”Lebanese-style mezes, salads and grills.” Some Syrians might protest on the thorny issue of what’s Lebanese and what’s Syrian; perhaps a perfectly neutral (and classically orientalist) word like “Levantine” would have been better in this case.

The above are mere examples of an increasing trend of Nouveau Orientalist reporting which too many Syrians, to my irritation, find positive. While it’s certainly better than the usual fare, it is still far from reasonable, especially when it merely encourages Neobaathists to wax poetic about the wonder that is New Syria.

Not that it matters much these days, because frankly, Syrians have other things on their mind lately, especially the cut in fuel subsidies and the realization that for a lot of people, life has suddenly gotten a lot tougher. But that will be the subject of another post.

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April 23rd, 2008, 7:41 pm

 

21. Frederic said:

Alex:Bashar is very modest ,you are more modest

He is very smart,you are smarter

He is calm , controlled and cautious. ,do you like when he laugh?controlled you said?

add to this that you are not a son of a butcher,you didnt sell golan, ,when you walk in the syrian streets alone you can walk without fear because you belong to this people,you are not a sadist killer and not a thief whose familly has amassed billions of haram dollars.

So why him ya Alex and not You?

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April 23rd, 2008, 11:13 pm

 

22. Nour said:

Great article by Rime Allaf. I was getting agitated myself with the patronizing tone of these articles which really objectify Syrians and turn an entire people into an exhibit that has recently captured the interest of some westerners. In addition, the implication in these reports is that anything good has to be western. That is why Syrians are compared to westerners in their behavior, and the more western they are, the more civilized they appear. Women wearing high heels and putting on makeup is a definite sign of openness and civility. Men wearing jeans and t-shirts with American slogans is something to be proud of.

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April 23rd, 2008, 11:25 pm

 

23. Qifa Nabki said:

Great piece by Rime.

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April 24th, 2008, 12:19 am

 

24. norman said:

What does Rime Allaf do for Syria?.

What is her contribution to making the lives of Syrians better ?.

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April 24th, 2008, 12:52 am

 

25. Qifa Nabki said:

Norman,

People like Rime (and there are very few) are the best kinds of cultural ambassadors: smart, well-spoken, and honest.

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April 24th, 2008, 1:16 am

 

26. Naji said:

Like QN…!

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April 24th, 2008, 1:22 am

 

27. norman said:

Ok,
We all need to do more.

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April 24th, 2008, 1:28 am

 

28. Qifa Nabki said:

Naji

Go to sleep!

You’re starting to make no sense.

😉

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April 24th, 2008, 1:46 am

 

29. norman said:

QN,
I think Naji is waking up. it is Thursday ,

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April 24th, 2008, 2:05 am

 

30. Qifa Nabki said:

Then he should go back to sleep. Addesh al-sa3a 3andak ya Naji? Must be 5AM.

Do you have kids? That would explain it.

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April 24th, 2008, 2:06 am

 

31. norman said:

QN,

You are in Lebanon,arn’t you?.

Isn’t Naji in Syria?.

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April 24th, 2008, 2:11 am

 

32. Naji said:

It is 5:15 am around here, but I am catching a flight… and yet I can’t stay away from this SC… go to sleep guys… 🙂

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April 24th, 2008, 2:17 am

 

33. Qifa Nabki said:

Norman,

No I’m in the U.S. (But sometimes it does feel like Syria and Lebanon are in different time zones, or parallel universes). What about you ya Ammo Norman?

Naji, have a safe trip.

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April 24th, 2008, 2:22 am

 

34. norman said:

QN,my son,

I am in the us too , east coast. New Jersey.

and Yes have a safe trip Naji, are coming to the US or the EU.?.

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April 24th, 2008, 2:29 am

 

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