News Round Up (27 February 2011)

Toronto Star: Arab Awakening: Offspring of dictators are failing at succession
2011-02-27

Bashar Assad, son and designated successor of late Syrian President Hafez Assad, makes a fist as he follows the coffin of his father into the mosque of Qardaha, the home village of the late Syrian leader, June 13, 2000. n Arab countries that don’t have monarchies, the model for aspiring family dynasties was set by Hafez Assad, the iron-clawed “Lion of Damascus,” who died on a sunny June day in 2000…..

Attempts to create family dynasties have to varying degrees helped spark popular uprisings in Arab countries not ruled by monarchies — Yemen, Egypt, Libya and Tunisia. (The revolts have also shaken monarchies in Bahrain, Morocco and Jordan.)

Repression, poverty and a general lack of freedom and democracy are the root causes of the Arab revolts. But the family successions being prepared were the frustrating signs that nothing would change.

“People saw it as a symptom of the lack of democracy,” says Marina Ottaway, director of the Middle East program at the Washington-based Carnegie Endowment think-tank. “Here were these regimes trying to perpetuate themselves even after the death of the current strongman.”

“It was one of those things that really touched the dignity of Egyptians,” says Michael Wahid Hanna, a fellow at the New York-based Century Foundation. They saw it as an affront — ‘What is this? We’re not Saudi Arabia, we’re not a monarchy.’ ”

Making matters worse was the widely held view of Gamal as leader of a highly corrupt new guard within the ruling National Democratic Party, which made its fortune through the privatization of Egypt’s economy in the l990s.

The old guard, including a military hierarchy that has dominated Egypt since the overthrow of the monarchy in 1952, saw the heightened corruption as needlessly provocative in a country where 40 per cent earn less than $2 a day….

In Yemen, Saleh was promising to dump his son at the same time as Mubarak was dumping his. ….

In Libya, a Mubarak-style seaside retirement doesn’t seem in the cards for strongman Moammar Gadhafi and his family. …

All of this leaves Syrian President Bashar Assad as the first and only example of family succession in the non-monarchic Arab world. His repressive regime has so far been spared the revolts sweeping the region. Still, the republican dynastic model he represents is a thing of the past, says British Middle East expert Tim Niblock. This stage of Arab history is finished.”

Facebook Page Calls To Oust Syria’s Assad With Worldwide
2011-02-26 – Radio Netherlands

NICOSIA (AFP)–A Facebook page has called for mass protests in Syria and in several Western countries against the rule of President Bashar al-Assad. The organizers of the page, which had 25,000 fans early on Saturday, said the date for demonstrations to be held “in all Syrian cities” was being carefully studied and “will be determined in a few days.”

Landmark Decision by Lebanon Tribunal ( DER SPIEGEL 22 feb 2011)
Court Ruling Opens Up Terrorism to International Prosecution

The UN tribunal investigating the assassination of Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri has ruled that acts of terrorism can be prosecuted under international law. The decision will have far-reaching legal implications, but could also increase political turmoil in Lebanon and cause the Hariri case to collapse….

CAIRO (Reuters) – Future presidents of Egypt will only be allowed to stay in office for eight years according to constitutional amendments that will open up competition for the position held for three decades by ousted leader Hosni Mubarak.

After Iraq’s Day of Rage, a crackdown on intellectuals
Stephanie McCrummen, The Washington Post

Iraqi security forces detained about 300 people, including prominent journalists, artists and lawyers, who took part in nationwide demonstrations Friday, in what some of them described as an operation to intimidate Baghdad intellectuals….

Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, who only recently formed a fragile governing coalition that is supported by the United States, was apparently concerned about the protest billed as Iraq’s “Day of Rage.” Leading up to Friday, he ordered a curfew on cars and urged Iraqis to stay home, as a government spokesman warned of “terrorists” who might use “sniping and silencer pistols” to target crowds. Security forces raided a prominent journalist watchdog group involved in organizing the protest.
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Despite that, tens of thousands of Iraqis turned out for the protests, which began peacefully but degenerated as forces fired water cannons, sound bombs and live bullets to disperse crowds.

The death toll rose to at least 29 Saturday, as officials reported that six more protesters, including a 14-year-old boy, died from bullet wounds. The deaths were recorded in at least eight places, including Fallujah, Mosul and Tikrit.

Ssairi and his colleagues had joined the protests in Baghdad’s Tahrir Square, some wrapping themselves in white sheets in a sign of peace. As the sun set, helicopters swooped down into the crowd, signaling the start of the crackdown.

Around 4 p.m., Aldiyar TV manager Fiysal Alyassiry, who had broadcast the demonstrations, reported that security forces had attacked the station, beat a worker, arrested seven people including a director and an anchorman, and closed the station.

Will Syria become more democratic?
By David Ignatius
Sunday, February 27, 2011;

DAMASCUS, SYRIA: The rise and fall of a protest demonstration here recently shows that Syrians share the yearning for dignity that’s sweeping the Arab world – and also illustrates why President Bashar al-Assad so far hasn’t been threatened by this tide of anger. ….

Syria is a paradox in this Arab season of revolt. It has an authoritarian regime dominated by a corrupt Baath Party – a relic of the age of dictators that is being swept away in so many other countries. But President Assad, relatively young at 45 and wrapped in the popular banner of resistance to Israel and America, hasn’t yet been affected.

Is Syria next? That’s impossible to predict at a time when, as an Arab proverb puts it, “the artery of shame has ruptured.” The answer depends on whether the Assad regime is able to make reforms – and move as quickly as it did a week ago in responding to that street demonstration.

The French, who probably know this country better than most outsiders, view Assad as relatively secure. “In the short to medium term, the probability of revolution is extremely low in Syria compared to other countries,” is how one official describes the French perspective.

An intriguing debate is underway among Assad’s advisers about whether he should allow more democracy and openness – something he has long claimed he wants – or keep the controls fastened tight. The reformers argue that change will enhance Assad’s popularity, while the security establishment counters that concessions now would be a sign of weakness – and empower the Muslim Brotherhood.

Assad must decide soon whether to allow real parties – other than the Baath and its various fronts – to compete in elections this year. Syria has both municipal and parliamentary elections scheduled for this year, and the question is whether there will be real, open balloting for candidates and parties, or a Soviet-style, rubber-stamp version, as in the past. Another opportunity for a shake-up is a congress of the Baath Party also planned for this year.

Reformers hope that Assad will amend the constitution so that it doesn’t require Baath rule and instead allows inter-party competition. “If we have different political parties, it’s healthy for the Baath, which is slowing down and getting distanced from the people,” argues one Syrian reformer.

Corruption is also a volatile issue here. The regime is vulnerable because Assad’s cousin, Rami Makhluf, is the dominant shareholder of the lucrative cellphone franchise known as Syriatel. Assad is considering whether Makhluf should reduce his interest to make way for foreign investment, according to two knowledgeable people. But that reform move could trigger a rift within his family.

The debate among Assad’s inner circle mirrors the wider political battles that are rocking the Arab world. For now, the streets of Damascus are mostly full of shoppers, not protesters. But if the experience of other countries over the past two months shows anything, it’s that delaying reform too long in a one-party state like Syria is potentially a fatal mistake.

Syria’s squandered electricity estimated over 2 bln USD: report
2011-02-27 14:17:34.963 GMT

DAMASCUS, Feb 27, 2011 (Xinhua via COMTEX) — A recently published European study reported the squandered electricity energy in Syria was estimated at over 2 billion U.S. dollars, local Damascus Press news website reported Sunday. The study, prepared in cooperation with Syrian Energy Sector and financed by the European Union, said Syria’s squandered electricity rate is one of the highest in the world. The report attributed the squandering to the outdated low-tension network, saying that all government’s suggested procedures have failed to reduce squandering. The steadily declining of oil and gas production and depletion of reserves have pushed the Syrian government to seek for renewable energy sources, including wind and sun, to meet the rising domestic consumption.

Haaretz – Merkel chides Netanyahu for failing to make ‘a single step to advance peace’

Netanyahu and his advisers are working on a speech that would outline an alternative to the interim agreement with the Palestinians, similar to Lieberman’s plan. That initiative, which Haaretz reported on a month ago, consists of establishing a Palestinian state within temporary borders on about 50 percent of the West Bank.

The prime minister has been discussing the plan with Lieberman in recent weeks to understand it more thoroughly.

All of the sources, however, added that it was unclear whether Netanyahu seriously intended to advance the peace process or whether he merely wants to appear to be doing so, as a means of shifting international pressure onto the PA. In the latter case, he is counting on the Palestinians’ objection to the Israeli initiative. …

….Netanyahu told Merkel he was disappointed by Germany’s vote and by Merkel’s refusal to accept Israel’s requests before the vote, the source added. Merkel was furious.

“How dare you,” she said, according to the official. “You are the one who disappointed us. You haven’t made a single step to advance peace.” The prime minister assured Merkel that he intended to launch a new peace plan.

Sucking up to Syria
Benny Avni, New York Post: , 2011-02-25

When it comes to Syria, we’re actively coddling a hateful regime as it faces unrest. Why won’t we encourage freedom-seeking Syrians to overthrow their oppressor, as we did with former allied countries like Egypt and Tunisia?…..

دعا عبد الحليم خدام النائب الرئاسي السابق والمعارض السوري، الرئيس بشار الأسد إلى “خطوة تاريخية” تتمثل في”تشكيل حكومة وحدة وطنية انتقالية تسلمها السلطة وتتخلى عنها” أي السلطة Abdal Halim Khaddam, Syria’s ex-Vice President and No. 1 dissident is calling for a NationalUnity government in Damascus, where, presumably, he would regain his old title.

GAZA (Reuters) — Israeli warplanes bombed a half-dozen targets in the Gaza Strip on Saturday, wounding a 7-month-old girl and aPalestinian man, medics in the coastal territory said.

Syria Takes ‘Step Forward’ in United Nations Nuclear Probe
By Jonathan Tirone

Feb. 25 (Bloomberg) — Syrian nuclear authorities said they’d allow United Nations inspectors to visit a uranium-extraction plant in what the International Atomic Energy Agency called a “step forward.”

Syria Rejects Nuke Probe
2011-02-25 1
By GEORGE JAHN

Vienna (AP) — Diplomats say Syria has formally rejected a request from the head of the U.N. atomic agency for access to a suspected nuclear site…. The refusal was a snub to IAEA chief Yukiya Amano, who had directly asked Syria’s foreign minister in November to allow a new visit. The agency is attempting to probe both Syria and Iran. It is to release reports on both nations later Friday.

‘Volcano of rage’ (Max Rodenbeck, New York Review of Books)

“Much of Egypt’s nomenclatura consists of current and former army officers like Mubarak himself. Their inbuilt resistance to truly revolutionary change can be seen in the high command’s reluctance, so far, to countenance any investigation of the Mubarak family, or to outline a comprehensive vision for reform. They have yet to abolish Egypt’s notorious emergency law, or to release remaining political prisoners. Perhaps most disturbingly, the military has charged the last cabinet appointed by Mubarak with continuing to run the daily affairs of government. In short, it is not yet clear whether the generals’ understanding of “democracy” is closer to Mubarak’s than to the hopes so vividly expressed by their people. Yet there is no doubt that Egypt has changed for good, and with it the wider region. As the increasingly brutal suppression of uprisings in Yemen, Bahrain, and Libya shows, the Egyptian model of massive street uprisings may not work everywhere in the tyranny-prone Middle East. But in Cairo, at least, a newfound sense of empowerment and potential pulses vigorously. It will not be easily muted.”….

Lack of protests in Syria blamed on internet crackdown
By Weedah Hamzah and Aya Batrawy Feb 27, 2011

Beirut – While much of the Arab world continues to see thousands of people taking to the streets with calls for political change, a ‘Day of Rage’ planned in Syria this month drew only a few dozen protesters.

Hundreds of Syrians did later demonstrate, but to demand an investigation into the alleged police beating of a young man in the capital Damascus – not to seek the toppling of the government, as protesters have successfully done in Tunisia and Egypt.

Government officials attribute the lack of upheaval to President Bashar al-Assad’s popularity.

‘Such protests are useless in Syria because the president is not hated as much as Hosny Mubarak in Egypt. Our president has started to make reforms a few years ago,’ a Syrian source loyal to the president told the German Press Agency dpa. But rights groups and activists blame the low turnout on an internet crackdown initiated by the government.

New York Times – Slackman

“Iran is the big winner here,” said a regional adviser to the United States government who spoke on the condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to reporters.

Iran’s circumstances could change, experts cautioned, if it overplayed its hand or if popular Arab movements came to resent Iranian interference in the region. And it is by no means assured that pro-Iranian groups would dominate politics in Egypt, Tunisia or elsewhere.

For now, Iran and Syria are emboldened. Qatar and Oman are tilting toward Iran, and Egypt, Tunisia, Bahrain and Yemen are in play.

Egypt’s Economy Needs to Change. It Won’t
By David J. Lynch, 2011-02-24

Feb. 24 (Bloomberg BusinessWeek)Despite its position astride trade routes in Africa, Europe, and the Middle East, Egypt hasn’t secured a role in global supply chains. Nike (NKE), for example, buys shoes and clothing from 42 Vietnamese manufacturers that employ more than 198,000 workers, according to its website. Egypt, with a similar population, is handicapped by numerous taxes, uncertain contract enforcement, and insufficient skilled labor. Just five Egyptian companies employing 5,129 people supply finished products to Nike.

From 2004 to 2009, per capita income rose 20 percent in Egypt. Vietnam posted a 34 percent income gain over that period. “They really need to penetrate global industrial supply networks,” says Marcus Noland, author of The Arab Economies in a Changing World. Between 1990 and 2009, Egypt’s per capita exports of goods and services rose at an average annual rate of less than 5 percent—about half the rate of India and one-third of China, says the IMF.

Egypt, which has endured unemployment above 8 percent for years, must create 9.4 million jobs by 2020 to absorb the jobless as well as new entrants into the workforce. To do so, GDP would have to grow almost 10 percent a year, about twice the rate since 2000, says the IMF…… The bottom line: Egypt after Mubarak shows signs of resistance to the free-market reforms it must adopt before it connects with the global economy.

(AFP) Russia announced Saturday that it intended to fulfil its contract to supply Syria with cruise missiles despite the turmoil shaking the Arab world and Israel’s furious condemnation of the deal.
“The contract is in the implementation stage,” news agencies quoted Defence Minister Anatoly Serdyukov as saying. …”

SUBJECT: MARCH 14 SHOOTS ITSELF IN FOOT DURING ELYSEE VISIT
Wikileaks

¶1. (S) Summary: A March 14th delegation led by Lebanese MP Marwan Hamadeh that met October 2 with senior French officials may have done more harm than good, at least so far as relations with the Elysee are concerned. “What world are they living in?” Boris Boillon, Counselor for Middle East Affairs at the Elysee, wondered as he listened to Hamadeh express March 14th’s concerns to French NSA-equivalent Jean-David Levitte. Boillon’s negative impression was sealed when Hamadeh alluded to the possibility that the French and Syrian armies were collaborating on a plan for the Syrian re-occupation of Lebanon…

………… Boillon accused March 14th of living in a fantasy world fueled by a rumor-mongering Lebanese press, much of which is sympathetic to the Lebanese opposition. “Of course the opposition is going to claim that France is backing them, that’s part of the game,” said Boillon, who insisted that the March 14th leadership should be smart enough not to believe such tripe. But the reality, he lamented, is that March 14th is part and parcel of a political culture mired in navel-gazing and paranoia……

SYRIA’S TRIUMPH IN LEBANON: AU REVOIR, LES ENTENTES
By Gary C. Gambill *

Since the ignominious withdrawal of Syrian forces from Lebanon in 2005, Damascus has managed to regain dominion over the country by exploiting its adversaries’ conflicting interests and weak resolve………….

Soaring food and fuel prices: Their impact on public finances and other causes of persistently high consumer price inflation in North African and Middle Eastern countries

Dardari argues that reducing taxes on food is going to create jobs in Syria…. “وفيما يتعلق بالخطوات العملية التي ستتخذها الحكومة لتحسين مستوى الدخل, قال الدردري إنه “يتم الاعداد لإطلاق مشروع تشغيل الشباب قريبا”، مؤكدا أن “هناك مجموعة من الإجراءات تسعى الحكومة لتطبيقها وهي موجودة ضمن الخطة الخمسية الحادية عشرة، حيث تم إصدار العديد منها مؤخرا ما يتعلق منها بتخفيض الرسوم الجمركية ورسم الإنفاق الاستهلاكي على المواد الغذائية”.

80 Iranian individuals on new list for sanction from Washington

Gates Warns Against Any More Wars Like Iraq or Afghanistan, www.nytimes.com

In an address, Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates said that anyone who advises a future president to send a large American army to change a third-world regime “should have his head examined.”

Comments (77)


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51. LeoLeoni said:

Dear Shai,

I think Jews have a right to live in the Levant, but I just don’t see how they will continue doing so when they continue excluding the Palestinians from their basic rights. The problem is that Jews think that its 700 BC where they can form their autonomous kingdom and exclude the Canaanites from within since people and tribes back then tended to be much more secluded than they are today. It will be hard for this to happen today. Jews continue to build settlement on land they admit is not theirs. What is the result of all that? A very possible scenario is an eventual bi-nation state with the Palestinians. Call it what you want, even Isratin like Gaddafi said. Both sides will eventually learn to live together and share power. Now, in the long term, it’s very hard not to see this “Isratin” forming some kind of economic and/or political union with Syria in some Levantine union. I’m not saying fully dissolve every person in that pot, but maybe some sort of federalism or at least an economically integrated union, which eventually leads to a political union. Historically, it’s very hard to separate the region west of the Euphrates. And with the world coming more close and flat than ever, eventually, all those small states will converge. Also it is important to note that this can only happen when each citizen has their rights protected and without having discriminating policies based on race or religion because this region throughout history has known countless religions and ethnicities, so only compromise and accommodation is possible. I disagree with the Nour and the SSNP and find their speeches and means very ideal, bombastic and unpractical. Big words and no reasonable action, and if they ever do any action, it would probably be war. The only way for this region to be more integrated is to build trust, through trade and good will. No side can wipe the PEOPLE of the other. Ideologies can be wiped out, people can’t. Any bombastic threats or fascistic approaches of that sorts, whether from zionists or SSNP or other ultra nationalists will lead to more war. I share your dream Shai.

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March 1st, 2011, 6:45 am

 

52. Shai said:

Leoleoni,

I’ve used before the term UME (United Middle East) to refer to what I believe will occur, sooner or later. We will be somewhere in between a U.S. and an E.U. No one today will be able to wipe out anyone. I also believe that at the rate Israel is going, indeed there will be a single state, with slightly more non-Jews than Jews. If Netanyahu wakes up tomorrow morning and understands this, he will probably seek the 67 borders before his time in office runs out.

The entire people of the region have suffered already too much. It is time to end their suffering, to enable every people independence and freedom, which they deserve no less than any American or European or Australian. I hope Israel will do its share quickly.

Norman,

(I wrote this earlier, but it didn’t post for some reason…)

There is no hatred. I always look forward, not back in time. The trigger was what I perceive to be ongoing hypocrisy practiced by some, who find it difficult to criticize Syria’s role in the region in the past or present, while studiously and continuously search, find, and share links to every critique of a Jewish Rabbi, an Israeli, or a Zionist.

You know why I’m here. But there’s a limit sometimes to the rosy pictures some like to depict, whether implicitly or explicitly, about Syria.

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March 1st, 2011, 8:23 am

 

53. Mr.President said:

LeoLeoni:

I like what you are saying.

Shai,
What really allowed Israel to survive till now is neither its great military power nor the current US or the previous French or the previous support from Communist countries. What really allowed it to survive was its ability to manipulate and control Arab governments (directly or thru other colonial governments). The game seems that it has changed. The Internet is allowing the Arab people to bypass the control of their governments and their Islamic mind controllers (sheiks). Hence, it is allowing them to create individually based movements, parties, liberation groups,… It is imperative that Israeli PEOPLE find a way to make a FAIR peace with their NEIGHBORS not with the bullies of the neighborhood. The Arab bullies and their colonial masters (the kings and the for-life-presidents) lost control and can no longer provide the fake protection.

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March 1st, 2011, 8:57 am

 

54. Akbar Palace said:

Mr. President,

Now that Israel no longer can “manipulate and control Arab governments”, do you think Israel will survive? Unlike several Arab countries, Israel has fought her wars by herself.

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March 1st, 2011, 10:07 am

 

55. norman said:

President Assad is always in a campaign mode .

Share 0diggsdigg3

inShare While Qaddafi Bombs His People, Syria’s Assad Conducts A Charm Offensive In Vogue
Feb. 28 2011 – 11:56 pm | 568 views | 0 recommendations | 1 comment
By ZINA MOUKHEIBER

Image via Wikipedia

As dictators struggle with uprisings from Libya to Yemen, one country that has remained relatively silent is Syria—except for its ruling family. I say ruling family, because in 2000 Syria became a hereditary republic, when the late Hafez al-Assad bequeathed the presidency to his son Bashar. (Egypt was following in Syria’s footsteps, so was Libya, but the people put the kibosh on that). Bashar, 45, was training as an ophthalmologist in London, when he was called back to Syria upon his brother’s death in a car accident. The older son had been first in line for succession.

Assad and his wife Asma, a former JPMorgan investment banker, have gone on a savvy charm offensive in prime media territory: The Wall Street Journal, and Vogue. They give a fascinating glimpse into Assad’s persona, and in Vogue’s case, his family life—complete with a spread of him at play with his children in their Damascus apartment. There’s no palace; they drive their own cars. On a recent trip to Syria, Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie were a little nervous about the lack of security as Assad took the wheel. Asma recalls: “So I started teasing him [Pitt]—‘See that old woman on the street? That’s one of them! [security guards] And that old guy crossing the road? That’s the other one!” Could have been fooled.

In January, Assad told the WSJ that the uprisings were about “desperation.” One reason for it is “that we are to blame as states and as officials…there must be a different kind of changes: political, economic, administrative. These are the changes that we need…You cannot reform your society or institution without opening your mind…Real reform is about how to open up the society, and how to start dialogue.”

Does that mean he is going to hold open elections soon? No, because Syrians have to be educated in democracy, and that will take time. “When you do not talk, and suddenly you talk, you happen not to talk in the proper way or productive way.” How long will that take? “We have to wait for the next generation to bring this reform.” Also, events outside of Assad’s control, such as political instability in Lebanon (although whether that is entirely outside his control is questionable) and the U.S. invasion of Iraq keep postponing his agenda. “You always put a timetable, but you rarely could implement that timetable.”

Despite that Assad is not afraid that a similar fate might befall his regime, because he thinks he’s in synch with the people he rules. “So people do not only live on interests, they also live on beliefs, especially in very ideological areas.” That is presumably a dig at the Egyptian government who broke away from its Arab brethren by signing a peace treaty separately with Israel in 1979, despite a cool reception from the Egyptian people. (Of course, that is not the cause of Egypt’s uprising).

The piece in the March issue of Vogue is the perfect complement to the WSJ interview. Former French Vogue editor Joan Juliet Buck was enamored by Asma, who is Syrian but grew up in the U.K. Why not? Like Queen Rania of Jordan, she’s smart and stylish, and if her husband were an ally of the U.S. and had signed a peace treaty with Israel, she also might be hobnobbing with Bono or some other celebrity in New York.

Asma al-Assad is busy building the foundations of a civil society, NGOs that are part of the reforms her husband mentioned to the WSJ. “It’s about everyone taking shared responsibility in moving this country forward, about empowerment in a civil society,” she said.

Buck is invited to join the Assads for a Christmas concert in Damascus. As the choir sings “Joy to the World,” “Jingle Bell Rock,” and other carols, Assad leans over and says: “This is how you fight extremism—through art.” (In 1982, his father leveled the town of Hama to suppress an uprising by the Muslim Brotherhood).

For now democracy will have to be confined to the ruling family’s kitchen table where each member is free to decide on what to eat. “We all vote on what we want, and where,” says Asma.

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March 1st, 2011, 11:03 am

 

56. trustquest said:

It is the big wave and better to stay below the radar for now.
I have read that Vogue Asma Assad article writer admitted his wrong timing of his propaganda:
when he said:
I asked Knutsen if he thinks Bashar al-Assad is a despot. He sighed, “Yeah. I would call him an autocrat.” When I pressed him on the point, he said, “there’s no freedom there,” adding, “it’s not as secular as we might like.”

http://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2011/02/vogue-defends-profile-of-syrian-first-lady/71764/

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March 1st, 2011, 11:46 am

 

57. jad said:

Yes Nafdik, I read your comment very well before I respond.
Why don’t you go read it yourself and let me me know what did I miss, educate me!

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March 1st, 2011, 12:45 pm

 

58. Nour said:

Norman,

First, let me say that no one has any problem with any person coming to any country if they intend to go there to live as equals. How many of us have moved to other nations where we intended to become equal citizens of their respective societies? The problem arises when a group of people claims a piece of land exclusively for themselves and wants to evict its indigenous population. The problem with “Israel” is that its very purpose was to create a land exclusively for Jews. Were it not for that Zionist project, most of the Jews who emigrated from Europe to Palestine would not have gone.

Second, as for having an inherent “right” to go anywhere, that issue has always been highly debated, and is the focus of much of the discussions and arguments about immigration policies in different countries. Most Jews living in Europe and the US are citizens of those countries and enjoy equal rights to all other citizens there with no discrimination made against them. Moreover, they been members of those societies for hundreds and even thousands of years, most of whom have no real relation whatsoever to Syria (or its southern portion, Palestine) other than a religious/ideological attachment. Can they be equated with a first or second generation Syrian who may have immigrated to a foreign land for political or economic reasons? I’m not so sure about that. No descendant of a Syrian who left Syria a thousand years ago now claims Syria to be his/her land. But in the end, the key matter is whether, regardless of their origin, any intending immigrant aims to come to a given land to become an equal citizen on that land and take active part in its social life, or whether the intent is to claim that land as their own in complete violation of the national rights of the local population.

Leoleoni,

What’s so “bombastic” about the points and arguments we make? Is it bombastic to insist that sovereignty over a land should be solely in the hands of the indigenous population of that land? Is it “bombastic” to demand that our citizens live a free life, away from the threat of occupation and annihilation? Were the free French “bombastic” in their approach to German occupation of their land? Were the Algerians who refused to accept French colonization of Algeria also “ideal” and “bombastic”? As for war, when did we go out looking to wage war on anyone? But we sure will not sit idly by when foreigners are dividing our homeland, occupying our country, and subjecting our people to humiliation.

Saadeh clearly stated that “The Social Nationalist Renaissance does not reject everlasting world peace after it achieves its great victories which would allow the Syrian nation to occupy an excellent position in peace and in the rights of peace. But as for world peace after stripping the Syrian nation of its national rights in Cilicia, Alexandretta, Palestine, Sinai, and Cyprus, and after stripping it of its natural resources, what could such peace mean for it other than humiliation, poverty, and extinction?”

He goes on to state that “we do not wish to attack anyone, but we refuse to become meals for other nations. We want our complete rights and we want equality with the strugglers so that we may participate in establishing the peace that is acceptable to us.”

Social nationalists desire to build a strong, unified nation able to control its own destiny and able to take its rightful place among the nations. No social nationalist wishes to wage war on or to attack anyone, but part of working for the freedom and independence of your nation is to defend it against foreign threats and attacks. If that’s too “bombastic” for you, then most national and patriotic movements around the world, and indeed most independent nations, should be also viewed as “bombastic”.

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March 1st, 2011, 2:41 pm

 

59. majedkhaldoon said:

Akpar said
”, do you think Israel will survive?
the jewish will,the zionist state, NO

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March 1st, 2011, 4:08 pm

 

60. nafdik said:

Jad, there is no need for me to educate you. I just found your comment confusing in the context of what I was talking about.

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March 1st, 2011, 4:15 pm

 

61. Alex said:

Trustquest,

After years of observing your comments here on SC, I am still not impressed my friend.

You have every right to complain about the many things that are not right in Syria. But you just jump at anything you read that is Anti Assad and you swear by it and you quote it …

I like the President a lot but I did not like the timing of the Vogue article and I did not like the kitchen democracy story … it was not too wise given that the rest of the country does not enjoy the same privileges.

You, on the other hand, concluded: “I have read that Vogue Asma Assad article writer admitted his wrong timing of his propaganda”

Did you pay attention to HOW the author of the Atlantic piece, Max Fisher, pushed to get that particular barely-negative answer? … and who admitted anything about “propaganda”? .. it is you who is imagining that part and believing it.

Now, to the propagandist you loved to quote: This Max Fisher needed to start his article with the usual “brutal” label and to describe Assad as being against peace … and to prove his point … he quoted non other than The ex Moldovan bouncer/pimp, the current, highly-admired, foreign minister of Israel. And then to prove that Syria is evil he quoted John Bolton

And why am I picking on you? … because you and others who share your way of thinking here have been picking on me every time I said something that you did not like. Shami, above decided to assume that I am only writing what I write because I am scared and that I will flip 180 degrees when Assad is deposed ….

And a necessary reminder, this is Joshua’s blog and not mine, please don’t complain like you always did in the past whenever I criticized something you wrote, that this blog is restricting your freedom to express your opinion. You are free to write what you want, but I am free to tell you that you are really not impressive.

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March 1st, 2011, 4:29 pm

 

62. LeoLeoni said:

Nour

What’s bombastic Nour is quoting Saadah, who just like Hitler made similar territorial claim for his volks in Poland, Czechoslovakia, Ukraine, etc. Saadah refused any to have Jews living in this greater Syria. What is your take on that? Should the Jew who’s been living in the region for several generations now be kicked out? and if they refuse, be exterminated? Also you call for parts of Egypt (Sinai), Northern Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Iran (Ahwaz), Turkey (Alexandretta), Cyprus, and you consider that not bombastic? At no one time in history were all those regions united under one political union. To claim any of these lands as your land is a declaration of war against the whole world. Also what’s “social nationalist”? It makes no meaning but is a simple fictional construct by Saadeh that his followers keep using.

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March 1st, 2011, 5:04 pm

 

63. Alex said:

My friend Shai,

I need ten pages to explain the many ways in which Syria’s presence in Lebanon was not the same like Israel’s occupation of the different Arab territories.

One of the foundations for this complexity is the many ways Syria(ns) see Lebanon … it could be considered:

1/4 an immature, troubled neighbor
1/4 a normal neighbor
1/4 a younger sister
1/4 Was forever Syria, now not, will be again in the future (but definitely not by force)

I think your information and your opinion were mostly from Lebanese, Israeli, American and other anti-Syrian sources (including anti-Assad Syrians)… there is no shortage of those. You probably feel that all of us Syrians here who are rejecting most of what you read elsewhere are acting out of national pride and are not being objective in accepting what everyone else seems to agree on… that Syria was an occupier sucking Lebanon’s blood.

I am a few years older than you so I can say “you were too young to remember” that before Syria opposed the Camp David accords Syria’s presence in Lebanon was seen as necessary and highly constructive.

The mass brainwashing that involves anything that Syria does has been going on for decades. It is too tiring to even try to undo it in your mind, and I have no doubt you are the most objective and constructive person one can encounter.

Remember that the massively anti Syrian Reagan administration signed in 1981 on UNSC council resolution 497 that considered Israel’s occupation of the Golan null and void, but did not call for any similar resolution against Syria … because there was not easy way for them to make such a claim.

US ambassador to the UN Jeane Kirkpatrick was Likud’s best friend and Syria’s worst enemy … for eight years she could not propose an anti Syrian “occupation” resolution?

http://joshualandis.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/reagan_years.jpg

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_Nations_Security_Council_Resolution_497

Finally … did you forget all those who predicted that the Assad regime will fall simply by forcing them out of Lebanon (in 2005) … supposedly all those angry (million) Syrian workers “implanted” in Lebanon would go back to Syria and those corrupt army officers who used to be stationed in Lebanon would also go back to Syria … both groups will be left with no income (like they used to when they were supposedly sucking Lebanon’s blood) … and both groups will rebel against Assad’s leadership … And Syria will go hungry because it can not suck Lebanon’s blood anymore …

I know I am expressing it in silly terms, but honestly ths is almost what I used to read in 2005 in M14 Lebanese blogs and other neocon friendly places.

What happened instead? …. Syria’s economy started to perform better after 2005.

The United States claims the Iraq war will end up costing 3 trillion dollars… and that is at a time when US troops will leave the country in a bad shape where tens of innocent Iraqis routinely get killed.

Syria succeeded in ending the Lebanese civil war … and absorbed all the costs … saving Lebanon the cost of spending 2 billion dollars per year on their army and police force … for almost 30 years. If Syria (the country) benefited economically from its presence in Lebanon, it was not more than the cost of peace keeping there.

But Syria should have left much before … 2001 at most. After 2001 there was mostly corruption and very little peace keeping. In the 90′s there was corruption and peace keeping (Israel was still occupying Lebanon) … in the 70′s and 80′s Syria gave much more than it took from Lebanon.

By the way … there was only one UNSC resolution that INDIRECTLY addressed Syrian presence in Lebanon … never calling it an occupation … UNSC resolution 1559 “Calls upon all remaining foreign forces to withdraw from Lebanon;”

Syria was never named explicitly.

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March 1st, 2011, 5:28 pm

 

64. Nour said:

Leoleoni:

When we lose our objectivity in addressing matters we resort to emotional outbursts. Did you read Saadeh to understand what he meant by the concept of SOCIAL nationalism and what his definition of a nation is, which led him to the conclusion that all people living on the single geographic territory of natural Syria are Syrians? You simply threw out accusations that Saadeh is similar to Hitler because Saadeh claimed some lands are part of Syria and Hitler claimed some lands are part of Germany. Are the Egyptians who recognize that the entire valley of the Nile, which includes Sudan, is part of Egypt also like Hitler? Was Nagib Mahfouz like Hitler because he expressed his sadness and frustration that Sudan was wrested from Egypt? Are the Americans who expanded their land and included everything west of the Mississippi as part of the US also like Hitler? Did the US declare war on the world when they made Hawaii part of the US?

First, Social Nationalism is the type of nationalism that views all elements of SOCIETY as falling within the concept of the nation. It means that the nation is essentially one society, and that all those who partake in the social life of the nation become part of the nation regardless of religion, race, or ethnic origin. So it is not a term with no meaning even if the term was defined by Antoun Saadeh.

Second, to suggest that at no time in history was the area of natural Syria politically united is to display an ignorance of historical facts. Natural Syria had been united in its exclusive form under both the Assyrian and Babylonian states, and under the latter part of the Seleucid State, and was also part of a larger political entity under numerous empires.

Third, the concept of the nation, as defined by Saadeh, does not rely on a single historical period or political event, but rather on a unity of social and economic life that develops through a long period of interaction and social evolution within a contiguous geographic territory and natural environment.

Fourth, with respect to the Jews, Saadeh defined Jews as those who adhere to the Jewish ideology of claiming Syrian land as belonging to the Jews exclusively, which naturally poses a threat to the continuous life of the nation. Don’t forget that the term Jews was commonly used at the time to refer to the invaders of Palestine. Saadeh never called for, nor did he ever attempt, to expel Jews who lived in Syria previously. He referred to the Jewish “settlement” in Syria which he considered a settlement that cannot possibly reconcile with the concept of Syrian nationalism, since its aim is to expel the Syrians from their land and replace them with Jews. Of course a foreign group with such ideological inclinations cannot possibly fall within the definition of the nation, as they are actively working to destroy the nation.

Unfortunately, we always tend to rely on emotion rather than reason when approaching any issue. And therefore anything on which we have a preconceived negative view we tend to dismiss and attack even without truly understanding it. Social Nationalism does not aim to impose anything on anyone. Social Nationalists believe that all people of natural Syria form a single nation and have a right to preach their ideas and persuade the people to accept them. If this in itself is a declaration of war on the entire world as you claim, then this world must have a serious problem with freedom of thought and expression when it comes to our people.

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March 1st, 2011, 5:50 pm

 

65. Ziadsoury said:

AIG and all

AIG your logic is very messed up. You can’t ask occupied people to renounce violence against their occupiers.

Here is another scenario for you:

Let’s just assume that we have free elections in Syria. I run for president and get elected by 55%. My platform called for all kind economic reforms. I will open the market; allow private accredited universities to set up shop; encourage capital investment; educate on and allow venture capitalist to invest in the country. I remove all export taxes and encourage all expats to comeback. I invest in education and research and development. My vision is to make Syria a regional power and be able to manufacture and export anything the people wish to.

My foreign policy calls for peace with Israel only after Israel apologizes for the massacres and renounces violence. I also call for either a one state solution or the 1948 borders to be implemented. After all that is the UN division lines.

I will invite every news outlet and ask the Palestinians (yes all of them) to mass at the Israeli border and demand their return to their land. I will tell them to walk through the check points. I will create a nightmare for Israel to deal with. Are they going to shoot at peaceful protesters in front of all the camers?

Are you going to demand your government to negotiate with me?

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March 1st, 2011, 6:15 pm

 

66. majedkhaldoon said:

While Gaddafi has the military power to regain some cities,in Libya,This will be a fight,with blood loss,so massive,that will determine his fate,he has to deal with his children, who seem reluctant to fight till death,they take the US,and England threats seriously,and like to listen to Russia and China,his son Khamis is worried too,Mohammad and Mu-tassem and Saedi,Seifs,and Aisha,like to survive,they are putting pressure on Muammar to leave,his preferable choice is Syria,but Assad told him go to Belaruss,he looked during his interview with BBC and ABC more relaxed,as if he had made his decision,I think we will hear it in 2-3 days
I think we have a vaccum of leadership in the ME,it will take time to know how all these revolutions will end.
The US military actions,and the arrival of several military experts to Malta, all are intended as a warning to other Arabic countries,

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March 1st, 2011, 8:27 pm

 

67. Akbar Palace said:

Majed,

When do you think Israel will cease to exist? Do you think Israel will out-live the Islamic Republic of Iran?

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March 1st, 2011, 8:46 pm

 

68. NK said:

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March 1st, 2011, 11:22 pm

 

69. majedkhaldoon said:

Akpar
It will happen when Arab American population increase to change pro Israel policy

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March 2nd, 2011, 6:05 am

 

70. Akbar Palace said:

Majed,

It’s nice to have all these predictions. But yours is still quite vague. No date? I wouldn’t hold your breathe. Arab regimes seem to be falling at a much higher rate.

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March 2nd, 2011, 9:50 am

 

71. majedkhaldoon said:

Akpar ,
would you give me prediction about the fall of Syrian regime, since you predict it?and let me see how clear and not vague you are.

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March 2nd, 2011, 10:16 am

 

72. Aatssi said:

Syria Weathers Middle East Storm
David Hartwell
2 March 2011
IHS Global Insight Daily Analysis

Significance

The Syrian Ba’athist regime of President Bashar al-Assad has so far survived the wave of popular unrest currently sweeping the Middle East region.

Implications

A combination of Assad’s opposition to the United States and Israel, the memory of the crushing of a 1982 Muslim Brotherhood revolt, and fear of a pervasive security apparatus act to stifle popular unrest.

Outlook

Whether Syria can continue to remain immune from calls for change will be dependent on whether democratic transition processes in other parts of the region are seen by the Syrian population to deliver lasting and far-reaching change.

Syria, ruled by an autocratic family regime for four decades, has so far avoided the fate that has befallen other Arab dictatorships since the beginning of the year. Whether, Bashar al-Assad, the Syrian president, can continue to deter the protests that have shaken the region depends largely upon whether Egypt, Tunisia and possibly Libya can transfer successfully from dictatorships to functioning pluralistic democracies.

If the transition process succeeds, Assad will have little choice but to begin a process of ushering in the political reforms that he has promised but failed to implement since taking office in July 2000. However, if chaos and violence take hold, Assad will almost certainly ease back on reforms and instead maintain his grip on power through repression.

Sources of Opposition

In many respects, Syria would appear particularly vulnerable to a popular uprising. It has been ruled by the same family dynasty since 1970 which uses repression and violence to stifle dissent. Corruption is rampant. The population has more than doubled in the past 30 years and unemployment is increasing, as are the prices of subsidised goods. The gap between rich and poor expands each year. Oil production, a traditional mainstay of the Syrian economy, is in decline.

Nevertheless, Assad appears relaxed, despite watching his regional counterparts tumble. He has even dispensed advice to other leaders still clinging to power, telling the Wall Street Journal in early February that Syria was immune from rage because he is “very closely linked to the beliefs of the people”. His anti-Israel stance and tense relationship with the US, he said, resonated with the Syrian people and spared him the “US puppet” label often used against former Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak and former Tunisian president Zine El-Abidine Ben Ali. There is an element of truth in Assad’s claim, but the policies of Egypt and Tunisia toward the US and Israel were not the motivating factors that brought hundreds of thousands of demonstrators onto the streets of Cairo and Tunis.

Instead, Assad’s greatest asset for retaining control is a pervasive fear in Syria of the state security apparatus. Memories are still fresh of the brutal methods implemented by the regime of Assad’s father, Hafez, to quell a rebellion in the early 1980s by the Muslim Brotherhood. Up to 20,000 people may have died when the uprising was crushed in the Hamah in February 1982. The Muslim Brotherhood is still banned in Syria and its leaders live in exile.

Other than the Islamists, the other main domestic challenge to the Ba’ath Party’s rule has come from the Kurds who live mainly in the northeast of the country adjacent to the Iraqi and Turkish borders. The Kurds have protested for greater rights on several occasions. The most recent uprising in 2004—during Bashar al-Assad’s mandate—was heavily suppressed and followed by a campaign of arrests and imprisonments of Kurdish activists.

A moderate democratic secular opposition flared briefly in the spring of 2001, months after Assad inherited the presidency from his father in expectation that reforms would follow, but the state cracked down on this so-called “Damascus Spring” and the secular opposition remains fragmented and weak to this day.

Assad’s Weak Points

One potential weakness of the regime is that it is dominated by the minority Alawite sect in a largely Sunni country. The Alawites represent roughly 10 per cent of Syria’s population of 21 million and their minority status could be a mobilising factor within the Sunni majority. On the other hand, Alawites hold the key levers of power in the military and security apparatus and they may be more determined to cling to power, fearing the backlash against the community if a Sunni regime takes over, especially if it is Islamist in nature.

Assad’s youth and personality also work in his favour. At 45 years old, he is relatively young and has been in power only 10 years. Many Syrians who resent the pervasive corruption and lack of freedoms more often tend to spare Assad from criticism and instead blame advisers around him.

Despite these factors, Syria has not been isolated from the uprisings around the Arab world. Syrian activists used Facebook and Twitter to galvanise support for opposition protests. In early February, a few dozen protestors gathered outside the Egyptian embassy in Damascus closely watched by security officers who, according to Human Rights Watch, took photographs and inspected identification documents.

A “day of rage” was scheduled for 5 February, but no one showed up. However, in a more interesting development on 19 February, some 1,500 people gathered for a rare protest against the beating of a motorist by two policemen. Syrian Interior Minister Said Sammour hurriedly arrived at the scene and berated the crowd for holding a “demonstration”. The crowd allegedly said they were protesting police behaviour only and some chanted their support for Assad.

However, the unplanned protest appeared to rattle the regime. On the one hand, Assad lifted a ban on Facebook, in place since November 2007 although widely ignored through the use of proxy servers (ignored by Assad himself who has a Facebook page). Assad has also promised new reforms including local elections, ratification of a new media law and the easing of restrictions on non-governmental organisations. On the other hand, on 15 February, Syria sentenced Tal al-Mallohi, a female blogger, to five years imprisonment on charges of spying for the US. Human rights activists say she had written articles critical of the regime. Another blogger, Ahmad Abu al-Khair, was also reported arrested on 20 February by media sources and has not been seen since.

Outlook and Implications

It is too early to judge whether those countries that have undergone internal regime change can transition to stable democracies. But if Assad wishes to spare himself the fate of Mubarak, Ben Ali and perhaps also Qadhafi in the near future, he may have little choice but to accelerate and deepen the reform process in the coming months. Even Syria’s downtrodden population may not continue to stand quietly by if they see freedoms flourishing and economies growing in the rest of the region.

=========================================

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March 2nd, 2011, 10:19 am

 

73. Leo said:

Nour,

Speaking of irrationality, it’s your definitions and arguments are circular and flawed. I don’t blame you because Saadah did engage in circular arguments “Every person living in this certain geographic location is ‘naturally’ Syrian. They are ‘naturally’ Syrian because they live in this geographic location.” Kuwait is no more ‘Syrian’ that it is Iranian. So is Cyprus and Sinai and other territories that Saadah attributed as “Natural” Syria.

What you said about history is not true. Assyrians conquered the land west of the Euphrates. They went as far as Egypt. It would be absurd to consider Egypt and Sinai as part of natural Syria because it was conquered at one point by the Assyrians. With that same logic, then the Iranians or Egyptians have claim to East/West of the Euphrates because at one point in history they also conquered that land.

What you said about the Jews that they refuse to be part of Syria will be said to the Turks regarding south Turkey which SSNP demand as part of Syria. In addition to the Ahwaz that the Iranians will refuse your claim, Egypt with regards to Sinai, Greece and Turkey to Cyprus, and so forth. All these countries/nations do not share your views that these lands are Syrian land. What will the SSNP do if they come in power in today’s Syria, will they start demanding these lands back? This will be an automatic declaration of war. Let’s say you have the power to take on them all, will you start wiping them all out unless they all agree to become “Syrians?”

There is nothing “natural” about political entities. They happen to be that way because of circumstances in history and not because of some formalistic laws that Antun Saadah came about. Michel Aflak derived different laws and claimed all the geographic location from Morocco to Bahrain, Yemen to Syria, are Arab lands. He surely came at different conclusions using the same set of factors. How come they had such wide different conclusions yet analyzed the same input? My point is that political boundaries do not come about some certain formula because this isn’t exact science. On your example of Egypt, an Egyptian demanding the annexation of Sudan today because it was once part of its Kingdom is out of touch with reality. Sure he has the right to think and speak like that, but if I was Egyptian or Sudanese also have the right to warn that the majority do not accept such proposal and if any actions were taken it could lead to war and destruction and there are much better and viable alternatives. You have the same right to preach all about your greater Syrian plan, but I at the same time have right to warn my people that if these bombastic and idealistic views were put to reality, we would be going to war against the whole world and probably end up losing the last bit of land we got. My experience with the SSNP, from books and association with members tells me that they do not tolerate such views, and most of whom I discuss tell me that such views would lead to treason. This is what allows me to conclude that if in power, the SSNP will not tolerate freedom of speech and most probably end up eliminating all rivals political views from power. It wouldn’t be very surprising because ultra-nationalistic parties all tend to have very similar characteristics with disrespect to fundamental civil and political freedoms.

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March 2nd, 2011, 9:29 pm

 

74. Nour said:

Leo:

First, you are drawing conclusions about the Syrian Social Nationalist Party based on your own speculation as to what might happen if the views of the Social Nationalists were to be realized. You seem to forget that many disputes between nations regarding border demarcations and sovereignty over particular pieces of land exist to this day without that resulting in the outbreak of wars. Germans to this day do not accept that the Alsace-Lorraine as French territory, yet have officially set aside their dispute over this region for the sake of political pragmatism.

As for the rest of your attack on the Social Nationalist philosophy, it is a straw man fallacy, as it attacks something that Social Nationalism does not represent and that Saadeh never argued. Saadeh did not argue in circles about the national identity of Syrians, but you have refused to understand his position due to a prejudicial view you hold about the SSNP. You can refer to the Genesis of Nations to fully comprehend Saadeh’s view on how nations are formed, which is a detailed, thorough, scientific explanation based in sociology, history, anthropology, and geography.

To summarize the basic idea, however, the formation of nations begins with man’s interaction with the land on which he lives. This interaction is two-fold: a horizontal interaction with other groups within the same geographic territory, and a vertical interaction with the land itself, in attempting to shape and exploit the land. Of course, just as man is able to shape the physical environment to satisfy his needs, so is he limited by his very physical environment in the extent of this shaping. Saadeh states:

“Although man molds the physical environment it is the physical environment itself that determines the extent and content of this molding. At the same time man strives to mold his physical environment in order to satisfy his livelihood needs, he also finds himself having to adapt his needs to conform with the region he had come to inhabit.”

The horizontal and vertical interaction on and with the land inhabited by man helped shape human development in three basic ways: its topography greatly determined the nature and scope of human adaptation as well as the form of human resources and their combinations; its natural composition influenced the outward and psychological makeup of peoples; and, finally, its natural division into zones facilitated internal group unity and prevented the integration of mankind into a single community.

The geographic barriers of the Syrian homeland allowed the various groups that inhabited this territory to interact and intermix with each other, and prevented their interaction and intermixing with peoples outside these boundaries, helping to create a distinct national composite that is of a different character than that of other nations around us. Thus, the basic definition of a nation is a group of people who inhabit a specific geographic territory who, after a long period of interaction on and with the land it inhabits, and through a process of evolution, develops distinct characteristics differentiating it from other groups. And according to this definition the people of natural Syria form a single nation based on this continuous interaction and unity of life that have existed on this land for thousands of years.

Further, your argument that there is nothing “natural” about political entities is absolutely correct and does not clash with the views of Saadeh and the SSNP. Saadeh’s view is clear that nations can be divided into multiple political entities or included in a larger political state, which is why Saadeh was very careful to differentiate between political matters and national ones. It is also why Saadeh does not link the definition of the nation to a particular historical period or political event but rather to the actual unity of social life. This means Syrians are not a nation because at one point in time they were united under one political entity, but rather because their continuous interaction on this single geographic territory has led them, through a process of social evolution, to develop a unity of life across this land.

You seem to have a problem with the SSNP claiming that Ahwaz is part of the Syrian homeland because, as you contend, Iran would never allow it. Yet does it bother you that the people of Ahwaz themselves do not regard themselves as Iranian and do not wish to be under Iranian rule but are being forced to accept such conditions? Isn’t Iran declaring war on the people of Ahwaz by forcing them to live under its rule? With respect to Sinai, you should know that the people of Sinai are not Egyptian in origin, and even Palestinians will tell you that they are Palestinian.

In any event, your speculation as to what would transpire should the SSNP come to power is an inherently flawed analysis, because the SSNP does not aim to take power, in that it does not aim to rule over the people. Rather, it is a renaissance movement that aims to change the very thinking of Syria society, in order to transform this society from the stagnant state in which it currently finds itself, into the dynamic nation that it has historically proven it can be.

Finally, your attempt to compare Saadeh with Michel Aflak is, in my opinion, baseless, as Aflak never attempted to define the concept of the nation and never provided any scientific explanation as to how the Arabs constitute a single nation, but rather relied on emotional attachments to religion and partial cultural factors which he felt would resonate with the masses. Such exercises do not indicate an objective attempt at discovering a social fact but rather a political endeavor aimed at extracting political benefits through emotional agitation.

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March 3rd, 2011, 1:45 pm

 

75. Ghat Al Bird said:

BREAKING NEWS.

The Israeli Government will within the week announce that “Israel is still definitely commited to the peace proces” but at this moment in time “peace is impossible”.

It will also reaffirm its sincere commitment to the peace process which it has followed for close to three decades with the Palestinians and other nearby states.

“News item carried by antiwar.com”

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March 4th, 2011, 10:22 am

 

76. Ziad said:

I discovered that I am addicted to SC. I visit it several times during the day. This blog was essentially silent during the last two days. We seem as if we ran out of things to say.

When there are no new messages, I check it more often. This is affecting my work.

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March 4th, 2011, 11:05 pm

 

77. MONTAGNARD said:

Ziad @ 76,
Here is a topic for you:
In the above post there was information about the IAEA inspections of some locations in Syria, and the degree of Syrian cooperation with the IAEA inspections.
Are we going to see the same tricks used in hiding the motives to invade Iraq, practiced on Syria, while the Israeli clandestine Nuclear program is off limits?
http://wakeupfromyourslumber.blogspot.com/2006/07/israels-deadliest-weapon.html

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March 5th, 2011, 12:47 pm

 

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