News Round-Up

Posted by ALEX

Nir Rosen discussing the Iraqi Refugee crisis at length in the New York Times:

 "At a meeting in mid-April in Geneva, held by António Guterres, the United Nations high commissioner for refugees, the numbers presented confirmed what had long been suspected: the collapse of Iraq had created a refugee crisis, and that crisis was threatening to precipitate the collapse of the region. The numbers dwarfed anything that the Middle East had seen since the dislocations brought on by the establishment of Israel in 1948. In Syria, there were estimated to be 1.2 million Iraqi refugees. There were another 750,000 in Jordan, 100,000 in Egypt, 54,000 in Iran, 40,000 in Lebanon and 10,000 in Turkey. The overall estimate for the number of Iraqis who had fled Iraq was put at two million by Guterres. The number of displaced Iraqis still inside Iraq’s borders was given as 1.9 million. This would mean about 15 percent of Iraqis have left their homes…

Many of Iraq’s neighbors initially welcomed the refugees. These countries were motivated by self-interest as well as by generosity. Certain political refugees, like Baathist officials, who were among the first to leave Iraq, had a political use in negotiations with the American-led occupation and the Iraqi government that succeeded it. And the well-to-do early refugees — those who could meet Jordan’s requirement of $100,000 in the bank to qualify for a residency permit, for example — brought much-needed capital. But the numbers and the welcome became unsustainable: Jordan and Egypt have made it very difficult for Iraqis to enter, and even Syria, with a long history of welcoming refugees, has passed regulations, like restrictions on the purchase of property and on access to free health care, that are intended to ensure that Iraqi refugees are only temporary residents. Iraq’s neighbors take the position that Iraqi refugees are not in fact refugees at all, because refugee status enables refugees to make claims on the host country."

George Ajjan, a Republican of Syrian origin, attacks the Bush Administration's Syria/Lebanon policy in his letter to Liz Cheney, published by antiwar.com, in response to a Washington Post oped from last month:

"I'd rather reflect on your advice, starting with the comprehensive list of actions you suggest should be taken against Syria, or How to try to beat Syria into submission, but fail miserably, in 7 easy stepsOne of these is for the US to "implement all remaining elements of the Syria Accountability Act and launch an aggressive effort to empower the Syrian opposition." I could insert a standard libertarian argument here to explain why the unilateral sanctions proposed by the Syria Accountability Act don't work, but I won't waste your time.

I also found your mention of the American Revolution quite bizarre in the context of Lebanese political assassinations…It is also a shame that you did not continue this curious analogy and bring more personalities into the mix, such as Michel Aoun, so adored by American "conservatives" like Joe Lieberman, Richard Perle, and Chuck Schumer – all Board Advisors for the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies – that he was a invited to Washington in 2003 to deliver a lecture to that organization…Sadly, Aoun's tenure as the neoconservatives' "Maronite of the Month" has since expired, and now he is aligned with Hezbollah in a political opposition to the "Lebanese democrats" hailed in your article. I suppose that makes him Benedict Arnold in your 1776 analogy. Then there's Samir Geagea. I'm not sure which American revolutionary he would correspond to, but it would probably be someone from the colony of Georgia.
Furthermore, Liz, I question in general the historical validity of this analogy. In 1776, the United States of America, which had existed as a possession of a European power, asserted its independence and was born. Lebanon also did that, but it was not in 2005, it was in 1943, when Lebanon declared itself a Republic independent from France, for whom it was an intra-war mandate. Thus, to a true Lebanese patriot, your analogy would be exclusionary, revisionist, and downright insulting. What about the many "Lebanese democrats" who gave their lives not only in Lebanon's struggle for national independence over 60 years ago, but in its vicious 15 year civil war?

Your constituency consists of one very well placed person. Thus, these foreign agents, who care nothing for America and are only interested in grinding their own axes, view you as the cheapest date in Washington. They are your "allies." And by "allies," I mean the people who throw flowers upon you today but will stab you in the back as soon as you are no longer useful to their shortsighted, vengeance-driven worldview.  Thus, your proposals basically sound like a bad remix of an even worse one-hit wonder from the early eighties. Remember, Liz: politics in Lebanon are a lot like that country's infamous "Dog River" – the scum rises to the top. You may wish to take a swim there, but don't drag the rest of America with you."

Stephen Zunes says "U.S. Blocks Israel-Syria Talks", from Foreign Policy in Focus:

"Even as American officials reluctantly agreed last month to include Syrian representatives in multiparty talks on Iraqi security issues, the Bush administration continues to block Israel from resuming negotiations with Syria over its security concerns. In 2003, President Bashar al-Assad offered to resume peace talks with Israel where they had left off three years earlier, but Israel, backed by the Bush administration, refused. Assad eventually agreed to reenter peace negotiations without preconditions, but even these overtures were rejected.

Beginning in 2005, with the knowledge of their governments, private Israeli and Syrian negotiators began crafting a draft treaty to end the decades-long conflict between the two countries. The Bush administration, however, downplayed the talks’ significance. Following last summer’s war in Lebanon, several prominent members of the Israeli cabinet – including Defense Minister Amir Peretz and Internal Security Minister Avid Dichter – called on their government to resume negotiations with Syria. Although Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni appointed a senior aide to prepare for possible talks, such initiatives did not get any support from Washington. According to the Jewish Daily Forward, it appeared that “Israel would be prepared to open a channel with Syria but does not want to upset the Bush administration.”

Indeed, when Israeli officials asked Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice about pursuing exploratory talks with Syria, her answer, according to the Israeli newspaper Haaretz, was, “don’t even think about it.” Similarly, the Israeli daily Yedioth Ahronoth reports that Israeli government officials “understood from President Bush that the United States would not take kindly to reopening a dialogue between Israel and Syria."

From Reuters:  Lebanon president warns U.N. over Hariri court
BEIRUT (Reuters) – Lebanese President Emile Lahoud warned the United Nations on Tuesday against setting up a tribunal for suspects in the 2005 killing of former premier Rafik al-Hariri.

In a letter to U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, Lahoud said there could be renewed instability in Lebanon if the U.N. Security Council moved to set up the court as requested by Prime Minister Fouad Siniora.

Siniora wrote to Ban on Monday urging the United Nations to form the tribunal unilaterally because he said efforts to secure full Lebanese approval had hit a dead end.

Lahoud said any move by the Security Council to set up the tribunal unilaterally “would imply a full bypass of the constitutional mechanisms in Lebanon.”

That “would not only threaten Lebanon’s stability … but would as well hamper the court’s judicial capacities to hold an impartial trial,” wrote Lahoud, quoting from a letter he sent to Ban in February.

Siniora was “falsifying facts to drag the Security Council … into siding with one Lebanese party against the other,” he added.

Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri has refused to convene parliament to approve the court plans because he, like Lahoud, considers Siniora’s government unconstitutional.

Both Berri and Lahoud are allies of Syria. Lebanese leaders who back Siniora’s government accuse them of acting on Syrian orders to derail the court. They accuse Damascus of the Hariri killing, which was followed by attacks on other anti-Syrian figures. Syria denies involvement.

The opposition, which also includes pro-Syria Hezbollah, have said they accept the idea of the court but fear it will be used as a political tool and want to discuss its mandate.

The United States, which backs Siniora, said last week it would push for the court’s creation.

Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern affairs David Welch arrived in Beirut on Tuesday and is expected to discuss the tribunal with Lebanese leaders.

L'Orient le Jour:  A Resolution on the Tribunal is not imminent

De son côté, M. Karel de Gucht, ministre belge des Affaires étrangères, qui accompagne à New York le roi Albert II et la reine de Belgique, a indiqué à L’Orient-Le Jour, à l’issue de sa rencontre avec Ban Ki-moon et Zalmay Khalilzad, représentant permanent des États-Unis auprès de l’ONU, avoir « très brièvement parlé de l’éventualité d’une résolution portant notamment sur le tribunal Hariri ».
« En ce qui concerne, le recours au chapitre VII de la Charte de l’ONU, nous verrons dans les semaines à venir comment approcher cette question et comment y apporter la meilleure solution », a-t-il ajouté.
Par ailleurs, un diplomate de l’ONU a indiqué à L’Orient-Le Jour qu’« il est prématuré de parler d’une réunion du Conseil de sécurité sur la question du tribunal ». Selon lui, « la lettre de Siniora devra être étudiée par les différentes capitales ». « Nous sommes en consultations constantes avec certains membres du Conseil de sécurité et avec les autorités libanaises pour la mise en place d’une option possible dans le cadre d’une résolution sur la question du tribunal. Notre approche doit être prudente et bien étudiée avant de nous adresser à la Russie, la Chine, l’Afrique du Sud, l’Indonésie et le Qatar », a encore indiqué ce diplomate. « Rien n’est encore imminent, a-t-il poursuivi. Nous avons encore quelques jours avant de décider.
Mais en tout cas, pas cette semaine. »

The Daily Star covers Assistant Secretary of State David Welch in Lebanon, including a meeting with Maronite Patriarch Sfeir.

"BEIRUT: The US State Department's top official in the Middle East said Tuesday his government remained committed in its support for Premier Fouad Siniora's government and to what he described as Lebanon's advance toward "full democracy." "The United States' commitment to Lebanon remains firm, enduring and non-negotiable," Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs David Welch said following a meeting with Maronite Patriarch Nasrallah Boutros Sfeir at Bkirki.

Welch reiterated his government's support for timely presidential elections and for one government in Lebanon. He said that for members of Parliament to meet and elect a president without pressure would be a "significant step."

"There is only one government and there should only be one government," Welch said. Leaders from both of the country's main political camps have warned in recent weeks that a failure by Parliament to elect a new president as planned in September could give rise to a double government.

Welch arrived at Rafik Hariri International Airport Tuesday afternoon and was whisked away amid tight security to the US Embassy in Awkar, where he met with pro-government MPs.

Welch's visit came a day after Siniora sent a letter to the UN seeking help with the establishment of the international court to try suspects in the killing of former Premier Rafik Hariri.

Welch said he was confident the tribunal would "see the light of day," pointing to an earlier agreement on the issue between the current Cabinet and the UN.

Welch also met with parliamentary majority leader MP Saad Hariri in Qoreitem on Tuesday, and was also scheduled to meet with Lebanese Forces leader Samir Geagea and Democratic Gathering leader MP Walid Jumblatt.

The Central News Agency (CNA) reported Tuesday that members of the parliamentary majority, in discussions with Welch, had stressed the need to expedite the Hariri tribunal.

Welch was scheduled to meet Wednesday with Speaker Nabih Berri, Siniora and former President Amin Gemayel.

Welch told reporters at Bkirki that his government "will continue to support and stand with the Lebanese people as they complete their historic transformation to full democracy."

"I shared with his eminence the belief of the US that the Lebanese have a unique opportunity at this time to take their future in their hands by electing a new president – on time, in accordance with the Constitution and free of outside interference," he said.

Welch also conveyed birthday greetings to Sfeir "from US President George W. Bush, US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and the American people."

According to the CNA report, Berri conveyed a desire to visit Bkirki through the head of the Phalange Party, Karim Pakradouni, who met Sfeir Monday.

Sfeir reportedly welcomed the visit, saying that "the doors of Bkirki are open to him and to all the Lebanese."

Sfeir hoped the meeting with Berri would be "preceded by adequate preparation and agreement over the desired results of the meeting" within the framework of a joint memorandum of understanding that covers the matter of presidential polls.

Parallel to American diplomatic activity in Lebanon, Iran's ambassador to the country, Mohammed Rida Shibani, met with Hariri for an hour and a half on Tuesday afternoon. Shibani declined to comment after the meeting."

SANAAl-Moallem meets European ministers in Brussels

Brussels, (SANA)- Foreign Minister Walid al-Moallem discussed on Monday with British Foreign Minister Mrs. Margaret Beckett bilateral relations and the latest developments in the Middle East, particularly in Iraq, Palestine and Lebanon .

The two sides stressed the importance of Iraq's territorial integrity and independence and realizing security and stability in the country, calling for encouraging the national reconciliation efforts and taking the required steps in this regard.

On the Arab-Israeli conflict and Arab peace initiative, they underlined the necessity of implementing UN relevant resolutions and to exerting efforts to achieve the just and comprehensive peace in the region.

Regarding the situation in Lebanon, talks concentrated on the need to intensify efforts to urge the Lebanese sides to concordance in order to overcome the current situation in Lebanon.

Foreign Minister al-Moallem also met his Spanish counterpart Miguel Angel Moratinos and discussed with him latest developments in the region and steps taken in this regard to find a way out of the existing situation.

Both sides discussed bilateral relations and aspects of cooperation between Syria and Spain.

Comments (63)


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51. souri said:

شكرا اليكس
تمنياتي بان الشجاعة والبطولة تهز احا سيسك عن قريب لتشعر بالفخر وانا متاكد بان هذا اليوم سيكون قريبا لا نك انسان
اعتقد انك شخص طيب ومثقف وبالنهايةفالحق هوالذي سينتصر
اقرا ما كتبه باتريك سيل

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May 17th, 2007, 10:16 pm

 

52. habib said:

Anyone have the draft that AFP says it obtained of the resolution???

UNITED NATIONS (AFP) – Three key Western members of the UN Security Council on Thursday circulated a draft resolution aiming to help set up a proposed international court to try suspects in the murder of Lebanese ex-premier Rafiq Hariri.
(Advertisement)

The text, a copy of which was obtained by AFP, is sponsored by the United States, France and Britain, which along with Russia and China make up the five veto-wielding members of the 15-member Council.

The draft, which invokes Chapter Seven of the UN Charter, “decides” that provisions of an agreement between Lebanon and the United Nations on the establishment of the court “shall enter into force upon adoption of the present resolution.”

A Western diplomat, speaking on condition of anonymity, said he expected the text to be approved by the full 15-member council in the coming weeks.

The ambassadors from the five permanent member states met behind closed doors Thursday to have a first discussion on the text, which is being transmitted to the 10 non-permanent council members.

The Western diplomat said the aim of the draft was to help Lebanon break the current deadlock, with Lebanon’s pro-Syrian opposition blocking parliamentary ratification of the tribunal plan because it claims the Security Council would use it for political ends.

Hariri and 22 other people were killed in a massive bomb blast in February 2005, widely blamed on Syria, which was then forced to end nearly 30 years of military and political domination in Lebanon.

US Ambassador to the UN Zalmay Khalilzad said Tuesday the draft would be introduced at the request from the “legitimate government” of Lebanese Prime Minister Fuad Siniora.

On Monday, Siniora sent a letter to UN chief Ban Ki-moon asking him “as a matter of urgency to put before the Security Council our request that the special tribunal be put into effect”.

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May 17th, 2007, 10:31 pm

 

53. EHSANI2 said:

My very good friend Alex,

ha-ak a-lai

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May 17th, 2007, 10:37 pm

 

54. Fares said:

Alex, it is you who says you are in the center (that is pretty subjective if you ask me). Who decides what the center is: if you are claiming you are half way between oppostion and regime then it does not show, you are certainly much closer to the elephant (or lion) that you decided to ignore.

I would not call you a bridge between Regime and Oppostion and if you are then prove it and give us the freedom of all the prisoners that you admire: Kilo, Dalila, Bunni (oh no he is now a traitor in your eye), Labwani (not supposed to be 2.4 angry for 12 years).

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May 17th, 2007, 10:41 pm

 

55. Alex said:

Thanks Ehsani bek : )

Fares,

If you are referring to who I want to govern Syria for now, you are right .. I am not “half way” … I don’t think the Syrian opposition has what it takes… the regime, with all its faults, is still clearly “better” .. or more experienced (in my humble opinion).

But I will be happy to be closer to an improved Syrian opposition in the future.

And please forget about me and think about what I am suggesting. I am simply suggesting that the Syrian opposition can, and should, take a good look at its performance and keep an open mind about all the criticism it receives… and I am not suggesting at all to stop criticizing the regime… but to be smarter about how to criticize.

Here is a challenging question for the immediate future:

If we can expect a chapter 7 type UNSC resolution along with re-energized American/M14/French (and maybe saudi) pressure on Syria (or “the Syrian regime”)… How do you suggest the Syrian opposition should react:

1) Play along and raise the volume? (like Khaddam already did on Hariri’s Future TV yesterday)

2) Stay neutral, supporting a fair, non politicized legal process.

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May 17th, 2007, 11:11 pm

 

56. trustquest said:

Alex, even if you reduce the struggle of the opposition to a mere competition like democrat and republican, still each side should not back down on ideas, believe and accountability for decisions. The opposition to have moral standing has to fight at least worldly the regime since the regime is not allowing anyone to exist on the scene or accepting even someone to saying I disagree. Oppositions are either traitors or cooperators with the traitors. The people who are allowed to talk are not you or open minded people like you, only closed minded who would clap and blindly stamp for them. It seems to me that oppositions and dissents are not choosing their stands against the regime but the regime is forcing their stand. A lot of them like Riad Saif has served in the parliament, and he was not attacking the regime but criticizing it. Most of opposition’s figures deny and refused to work with any outsiders, however, the regime kept twist their positions to accuse them of being traitors for talking to outsiders. The oppositions are really in dilemma and if you like to help give me couple of examples of people from inside who could function as oppositions without being shut up or imprisoned.

The answer to your question: to stay neutral. I did disagree with them on their standing against HA last summer war, also letting Khadam in and their rigid structure. I do not like their poor media, I think they are not doing enough; they should have their TV station running by now, and a lot of other thing.

On the other hand, you can not applaud to the regime that is destroying the people lives and playing the waiting game, who all studies say are not reform able and sacrificing a whole country for the few. All intelligent and educated people should stand together and keep pushing and exposing the regime, continuous pressure will work, ask the Romanian.

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May 18th, 2007, 12:28 am

 

57. norman said:

I have a question to all of you ,
Is it posible that the opposition people were sent to jail in a hurry so president Asad can grant them amnesty after the election as it is costimmery.?.

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May 18th, 2007, 1:25 am

 

58. Fares said:

Norman, if he does that he will be the most stupid person ever, why play so hard then all the sudden change 180 degrees from there…but you know him better since he is your hero so why don’t you take the people to the street and ask for amnesty for the prisoners.

But judging from the comedy celebrations and how people are talking about his “achievments” no change will happen, indeed he succeeded of reminding us of his beloved dad “Allah La Yirhamo”

Alex, about Lebanon I would like things normalized with Syria recognizing the independance of Lebanon and all lebanese parties come and sit down to talk like last year before the war. But I am not optimistic about a solution and best thing is for the UN to protect Lebanon.

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May 18th, 2007, 1:44 am

 

59. norman said:

Fares,
Lebanon is like a family where there is a mother and a father ,government and opposition
When the disagreements between the mother and the father are known and influenced by the neighbors and the not so neighbours ,even by the in laws then Lebanon like the family will break and the two sides will go their own ways , I hope the Lebanese will figure their way before it is too late.

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May 18th, 2007, 2:08 am

 

60. ausamaa said:

Aint this a happy get together?

A Syrian breaching freedom to twenty million Syrians in English. Another contesting the right and moral obligation to post whatever he sees fit. Another fiercly defending the freedom of speech when no one tried to stiffle that right. A fourth cheering up his admired Freedom Heros of both Syria and Lebanon, but in Arabic this time. And all doing so very hecticaly because they “encountered” an opinion they do not like and they do not agree with.

By comparison, I think that with the current “regime” in power, Syrians do stand a better chance of acheiving democracy than with such vigilant supporters of Democracy. Viva Syria Libre…

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May 18th, 2007, 11:16 am

 

61. bilal said:

To Alex.

Wow you always amaze me how you would know exactly what the whole 18 millions Syrian want. You even have passed your friend Bashar in getting 100% and not 99.99% of what the Syrian wants.
Be serious, you are talking about people and not just muttons as Bashar is making them. As I have repeatedly told you Inshallah Hafez the third will introduce true democracy as per your suggestion of “There is a lot to be done in small positive steps that each of us can contribute to.” No Mr. Alex but the Syrian cannot and actually are not sitting quite anymore. We have seen the boycott of the recent legislative elections (less than 5%) and we expect the see the same next Sunday but the regime will use all force available to impose a fabricated big turnout.

To ALL,

Can anyone tell me why Bashar has moved the referendum that early? It is a record as never the referendum was done that early. It is even 2 weeks before the 7th anniversary of his father death. This proves that his position is very weak as he would like to do the referendum before the introduction of the International Tribunal and the Brammertz report. Also he knows that the opposition is preparing major events to show how corrupt and incompetent Bashar is so by making it that early will give them much less time to organize. I think the end is become closer and closer.

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May 19th, 2007, 5:29 am

 

62. bilal said:

I salute Mr. Seal courage:

رسالة مفتوحة الى بشار الأسد

——————————————————————————–

أصيب أصدقاء سورية – وأعتبر نفسي واحداً منهم – بالحيرة والأسى، بعد صدور أحكام طويلة بالسجن بحق المعتقلين السياسيين، والناشطين من أجل حقوق الإنسان

وسجناء الرأي في سورية. لقد أثارت هذه الأحكام القاسية اهتمام العالم بأسره، وألحقت الكثير من الأذى بسمعة بلادكم. انني أناشدكم بكل احترام أن تعيدوا النظر في هذه القضايا، وأن تصدروا عفواً سريعاً عن هؤلاء السجناء.
إن أنور البني هو من أهم المدافعين عن المعتقلين السياسيين وسجناء الرأي في سورية. لقد أنشأ في شهر آذار (مارس) 2006 مركز حقوق الإنسان في سورية، بتمويل وتشجيع من الاتحاد الأوروبي، ولكن قوات الأمن لديكم أغلقته بعد افتتاحه.
لقد ألقي القبض على أنور البني في 17 أيار (مايو) 2006 وأودع السجن مع مرتكبي الجرائم في سجن عدرا بالقرب من دمشق، حيث تعرض للضرب وللمعاملة السيئة، حسب رواية لجنة العفو الدولية، ولم يسمح له أن يجتمع على انفراد مع محاميه، وقد علمت انه كتب إليكم، ليلفت انتباهكم إلى أن ما يقارب من ستة آلاف معتقل سياسي في سجن عدرا، يتعرضون للضرب، بشكل روتيني، وللإهانات، وللإرهاب، ويمنعون من الخروج من زنزاناتهم أو من مشاهدة التلفزيون، أو الاستماع إلى محطات الإذاعة. لقد التمس منكم أن تحققوا في أوضاع السجون، وأملي أن تستجيبوا لطلبه ايجابيا.
وفي 31 كانون الأول (ديسمبر) تعرض أنور البني لهجوم من قبل أحد المجرمين في السجن، ودفعه على الدرج، ثم ضربه على رأسه بحضور حراس السجن الذين استنكفوا عن التدخل لإنقاذه. وفي 25 كانون الثاني (يناير) 2007 اعتدى عليه حراس السجن بالضرب بقسوة، وحلقوا له شعر رأسه بالقوة. أنا متأكد من أنكم على علم بأن البني هو من سجناء الرأي، وانه معتقل لسبب واحد هو المجاهرة بآرائه التي لا تدعو إلى العنف.
وفي 24 نيسان (نيسان) حكمت عليه محكمة الجنايات بدمشق بالسجن لمدة خمس سنوات بتهمة «نشر أخبار كاذبة تضر بالدولة» (المادة 286 من قانون العقوبات). وقد دهش الدبلوماسيون الذين حضروا المحاكمة من قسوة الحكم، واعتبروا المحاكمة غير عادلة، والحقيقة أن مثل هذه المحاكمات السياسية أمام المحاكم الجنائية أو العسكرية أو محاكم أمن الدولة، تواجه بانتقادات دولية قاسية بسبب هيمنة أجهزة الأمن الفجة على كل إجراءاتها.
إنني مقتنع أن بقاء سجين مثل أنور البني – وهو محام محترم – في السجن، أكثر أذى بسمعة سورية مما لو أطلق سراحه واستعاد حريته. فـ «الجريمة» التي ارتكبها البني – حسب لجنة العفو الدولية – هي إثارته لموضوع وفاة سجين، في الرابعة والعشرين من العمر، يدعى محمد شاهر عيسى، بسبب إخضاعه لمعاملة غير إنسانية، قد ترقى إلى التعذيب. وحينما سلمت جثة هذا الشاب إلى ذويه، قيل إن آثار التعذيب كانت واضحة عليها. وتقول لجنة العفو الدولية ان التعذيب وسوء المعاملة ما زالا منتشرين، وعلى نطاق واسع، في السجون السورية، وانه لم يجر أي تحقيق مستقل في حوادث التعذيب والوفيات المشكوك في أمرها، خلال سنوات طويلة.
أنا واثق أنكم تتفقون معي بأنه من الضروري جدا أن ينصاع حراس السجون السورية لمواثيق الأمم المتحدة التي وقعت عليها سورية والتي تمنع التعذيب، وسوء المعاملة غير الإنسانية.
وهناك حالات أخرى حديثة جداً، كما جرى للكاتب والصحافي المعروف ميشال كيلو، وأستاذ اللغة الانكليزية محمود عيسى، اللذين حكم عليهما، بعد اعتقالهما لمدة طويلة في سجن عدرا، بالسجن لمدة ثلاث سنوات، في 4 أيار الجاري، من قبل محكمة الجنايات بدمشق، وقد اتهما بـ «إضعاف الشعور الوطني» (المادة 285 من قانون العقوبات) وبـ «التحريض على إثارة النعرات الطائفية» (المادة 307 من قانون العقوبات) وبـ «نشر المقالات وإلقاء الخطب، بهدف الدعاية لحزب سياسي، أو جمعية، أو تجمع سياسي محظور، غير مرخص» (المادة 150 من قانون المحاكمات العسكرية)، كما أن محمود عيسى اتهم بـ «تعريض سورية للأعمال العدوانية» (المادة 278 من قانون العقوبات).
ولكن «الجريمة» الحقيقية التي «تورط» بها الاثنان هي التوقيع على ما يسمى «إعلان دمشق – بيروت» الذي وقع عليه 300 مثقف سوري ولبناني ونشر في 12 ايار 2006، ويطالب بتطبيع العلاقات بين سورية ولبنان، وتبادل السفراء، وترسيم الحدود المشتركة.
وهناك شخصية معارضة أخرى، هي كمال اللبواني، مؤسس التجمع الديمقراطي الليبرالي، وقد تعرض لمصير أسوأ بكثير، اذ قبض عليه في مطار دمشق عام 2005، بعد عودته من الولايات المتحدة، حيث كان يشارك في مؤتمر، واجتمع ببعض المسؤولين في البيت الأبيض، وقد حكم عليه، هذا الشهر، بالسجن لمدة 12 سنة، بتهمة «الاتصال بدولة أجنبية، وبتحريضها على الاعتداء على سورية…».
طبعاً، سورية ليست الدولة الوحيدة، أو الدولة الأسوأ، التي تنتهك حقوق الانسان في الشرق الأوسط، فاوضاع السجون في كثير من الدول العربية ليست أقل سوءا. وقد قدمت الولايات المتحدة نموذجاً رهيباً بممارستها التعذيب في سجن أبو غريب، وبتبنيها سياسة ما يسمى «بالتسليم الاستثنائي»، أي تسليم السجناء الى بلدان معروفة بممارستها التعذيب لاستجوابهم.
كما اتهمت اسرائيل بدورها، بتعذيب السجناء الفلسطينيين الذين يربو عددهم على 10 آلاف، بشكل منهجي منتظم. ومن الأساليب الاسرائيلية المعروفة في التعذيب هي الاستمرار في ضرب السجين حتى الموت احياناً. ويشير تقرير أعدته منظمتان اسرائيليتان للدفاع عن حقوق الانسان، ونشر حديثا في 6 أيار الجاري، ان معظم السجناء الفلسطينيين يحرمون من النوم، ويتعرضون للضرب المبرح، بعد أن توثق أياديهم بشدة الى ان تسيل الدماء منها، وتثبيتهم في أوضاع مؤلمة غير طبيعية، كي تنهار معنوياتهم قبل القيام باستجوابهم.
ويجمع معظم الخبراء أن التعذيب يؤدي الى نتائج معكوسة، ولا يحقق الأغراض المنشودة، والمعلومات التي يتم الحصول عليها تحت التعذيب هي معلومات مغلوطة لا يمكن الركون اليها، على الأغلب. ان التعذيب يحرض على الكراهية، وعلى الرغبة الجامحة في الانتقام.
وفي سورية لا يساهم التعذيب في دعم السلم الاجتماعي، وسوء معاملة السجناء يشجع على اثارة العداوة بين فئات المجتمع وطوائفه، وهو أبعد ما يكون عن حماية البلد ضد أعدائه الخارجيين، بل على العكس تماما فانه يزود هؤلاء الأعداء بذرائع للمضي في دعاياتهم العدوانية وتهجمهم. ان الأحكام الجائرة بحق سجناء الرأي، والانتهاكات الأخرى لحقوق الانسان تدمر أهداف السياسة الخارجية لبلد مثل سورية.
وفي قناعتي، ان أحد أهم أهداف بلدكم هو اكتساب احترام وتقدير المجتمع الدولي، دعماً لموقف سورية في المفاوضات، وتشجيعا للاستثمارات الأجنبية المباشرة، وترحيبا بالسياح الذين سيتدفقون على بلدكم بأعداد كبيرة لزيارة المواقع الأثرية الفريدة، وإسهاما في تطوير المشاريع الاجتماعية والاقتصادية بشكل عام.
هناك هدف آخر هو استعادة هضبة الجولان عن طريق تسوية سلمية عربية شاملة مع اسرائيل، بالاضافة الى هدف ثالث هو التصديق على اتفاقية الشراكة بين سورية و27 دولة من الاتحاد الأوروبي التي لم توضع موضع التنفيذ الفعلي حتى الآن.
اما الهدف الرابع فهو ارساء علاقات سورية مع لبنان على أسس صحية سليمة، بعد سنوات طويلة من التوترات والمشاحنات. ان البلدين مقتطعان من جسم واحد، ولا غنى لأحدهما عن الآخر، ولا مجال لحدوث طلاق دائم بينهما.
لسورية مصالح حيوية في لبنان، ولا يمكن أن تتسامح أو أن تقبل بقيام حكومة معادية لها في بيروت، ولا أن يكون النفوذ المهيمن على لبنان لدولة أو قوة معادية، فهذا يشكل تهديدا لسلامتها وأمنها القومي. ولبنان بدوره، حريص على اعتراف سورية باستقلاله وسيادته. ومن المؤكد ان صيغة للتفاهم بين البلدين يمكن تحقيقها على أسس ترضي الطرفين.
لقد أخضعت سورية لضغوط مرهقة من قبل الولايات المتحدة بعد غزو العراق سنة 2003، وتعرضت لمخاطر جسيمة في الصيف المنصرم، حينما كانت اسرائيل على وشك أن توسع عدوانها ليشمل سورية بعد عدوانها على لبنان، ولم تكن عداوة فرنسا لها أقل خطراً أيضاً.
ولكن هذه الضغوط تراجعت الآن، وبدأ العالم يعترف بالدور الكبير الذي يمكن أن تلعبه سورية في تسوية صراعات المنطقة، اذا ما روعيت مصالحها الأساسية.
أليست هذه هي اللحظة المناسبة، يا سيادة الرئيس، لاظهار الوجه الانساني الكريم لسورية، وكسب التأييد الدولي لها، والالتفات الى محنة سجناء الرأي الذين عوقبوا بشكل غير عادل في محاكمكم؟
باتريك سيل
كاتب بريطاني متخصص في شؤون الشرق الاوسط.

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باتريك سيل

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May 19th, 2007, 5:33 am

 

63. Alex said:

Bilal,

You insist on seeig me as a baathist.

Have you heard what the democrats said when they won a tiny majority in the senate?

“the American people have spoken and they told us that they want change”

Similarly, when I said that the Syrian people do not want to overthrow Bashar, I meant that .. who knows, maybe 60 to 80% do not want to change the regime.

As for your predictions that the end is near for the regime … I will again say: “I will believe it when the Syrian people go for it” … because no one else will succeed in forcing that dramatic outcome. They have been trying since 1976 …

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May 19th, 2007, 7:45 am

 

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