Nukes or Peace?

Today both the LA Times and The Wall Street Journal, which places the story on the front page, explain that the CIA is going to tell US lawmakers that it believes Syria was developing a reactor that would be capable of producing plutonium for nuclear weapons but was destroyed before it could do so.  But as Jay Solomon wrote in yesterday's version of his WSJ article:

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

By contrast, the BBC and Bloomberg are running stories explaining that Israel is "Willing to Return the Golan Heights." The point of this story is not that real peace talks are going on between Israel and Syria, but that Olmert has evidently told Turkey's Erdogan that in a future agreement, Israel would be willing to relinquish the entire Golan. Whether that is to a "Peace Park, we do not know. We also do not know what prerequisites went with the story. Israel has been adamant about Syria cutting relations with Iran, Hizbullah, and Hamas as a precondition for such talks.

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Syria seems to be making this public at this time because it does not want secret talks and insists that what contacts take place between Israel and Syria be official and open. Syria wants Israel to break the US backed isolation policy toward Syria as a sign of good faith. 

One analyst in Washington does not believe this is more than posturing by both sides. He writes:

No durable peace deal between the Israelis and the Syrians is possible without US endorsement. As much as I would like to believe this story, it's a nonstarter. To say the least, the Turks cannot finance the deal, only the US can. The Israelis will ask for a security package from Washington worth more than $20 billion.

Here are the articles: 

April 23 (Bloomberg) — Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan told the Syrian government that Israel's premier, Ehud Olmert, has agreed to return all of the Golan Heights to Syria in exchange for peace, Syria's state-controlled Cham Press said.

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad confirmed this week that his country exchanged messages with Israel via third parties to explore the possibility of resuming peace talks. Cham Press, which cited unidentified diplomatic officials for the report on Erdogan, didn't provide details.

Erdogan called the Syrian president yesterday and relayed the same message from Israel, Al-Watan reported from Damascus. The daily didn't provide additional information.

Olmert told Israel's Yediot Ahronot newspaper last week that the two countries clarified what they expect from a potential peace accord. Each side now understands what the other wants, Olmert said. Syria broke off negotiations on a peace treaty with Israel in 2000 after the two sides were unable to resolve their dispute over the Golan Heights, which Israel has occupied since 1967.

Olmert's spokesman, Mark Regev, said today there was “nothing new to say,'' when asked about peace talks with Syria. “I can only refer you to what the prime minister said in interviews published only a few days ago in Israeli newspapers. We know what the Syrians expect from us and the Syrians know what we expect from them.''

“There are efforts exerted in this direction,'' Assad said during a meeting with officials from his ruling Baath Party, according to the state-run Syrian Arab News Agency.

Erdogan will be visiting Syria April 26, his spokesman, Akif Beki, said in a telephone interview today. He declined to provide details about the visit.

Secret Talks

“Syria rejects secret talks or contacts with Israel,'' SANA cited Assad as saying. “Anything Syria does in this regard will be announced to the public.''

Negotiations must be serious and “in compliance with United Nations resolutions,'' Assad added. “Israel knows well what is accepted and not accepted by Syria.''

Tensions between the two countries have grown since Israeli forces fought a 34-day conflict in Lebanon in 2006 with the Shiite Muslim group Hezbollah that is backed by Syria and Iran.

Syria said Israeli warplanes crossed its northern border on Sept. 6 and were repelled by its air defenses after dropping ammunition on Syrian territory. Israeli officials have declined to comment on the incident.

The BBC adds:

'Expectations'

On Thursday, Mr Olmert told Israel's Channel 10 television that he was interested in peace with Syria, and that both sides knew what the other wanted.

"Very clearly we want peace with the Syrians and we are taking all manner of actions to this end," he said. "President Bashar al-Assad knows precisely what our expectations are and we know his. I won't say more."

Recep Tayyip Erdogan (archive)

Mr Erdogan is due to visit the Syrian capital, Damascus, this weekend

The former US President, Jimmy Carter, who held talks with the Syrian leader recently has said he believes "about 85%" of the differences between Israel and Syria have already been resolved, including borders, water rights, the establishment of a security zone and on the presence of international forces.

"[Mr Assad said] the only major difference in starting good-faith talks was that Israel insisted that there will be no public acknowledgment that the talks were going on when Syria insisted that the talks would not be a secret," Mr Carter said earlier this week.

Mr Carter said it was now "just a matter of reconvening the talks and concluding an agreement" between the neighbouring countries.

The Syrian reports on Wednesday have sparked outrage in the Israeli parliament, however, where several MPs said they would seek to accelerate the passage of a bill requiring any withdrawal from the Golan to be dependent on a referendum.

"Olmert's readiness to withdraw from the Golan represents an unprecedented political and national abandon," Yuval Steinitz of Likud told the Haaretz newspaper.

Correspondents say returning the Golan to Syria is not a popular concept in Israel, and the details of a possible Israeli withdrawal have bedevilled past negotiations between the two countries.

Comments (211)


wizart said:

No Nukes = No Peace = (Poverty and Wars) = More Islamic Radicalism

Communism only fell after there was a nuclear balance of power. Radical Islam will clearly keep growing as long as Israel maintains its monopoly on Nukes without reaching a fair settlement. Real peace with equitable justice is more likely to happen after a military balance of power has been achieved in the region.

http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,1187385,00.html

April 23rd, 2008, 4:21 pm

 

why-discuss said:

Israel has no choice than to withdraw from the Golan and the Shebaa Farms, thus neutralizing Lebanon Hezbollah and Syria and weakening Iran’s involvement in the growing threat to Israel’s existence.
They will be left with the horrendous puzzle of the Palestinian occupied lands.
Of course many Israelis are bitter in loosing the Golan and accepting the conditions set by Syria and Hezbollah. This is why their governemnent is launching a campaign of confusion and contradictions to try to make these withdrawals appear as victories!!
Many Israelis still live with the illusion of their past military power and their successful wars against the arabs. This time is over. Opponents are far more dangerous now, many Israelis know that and dread a new war.
Israel has no choice than peace if it wants to survive. Clock is ticking for Israel… Would the israelis wake up or withdraw into another illusion with a new hardline governement?

April 23rd, 2008, 4:50 pm

 

Observer said:

Israel willing to return Golan for peace with Syria and by the way I am Napoleon Bonaparte. Pleeeeeeze spare me.

April 23rd, 2008, 5:05 pm

 

Nour said:

You’re right Observer. It’s not going to happen, plain and simple.

April 23rd, 2008, 5:13 pm

 

Abhinav said:

In the past, when negotiations over the Golan came close to serious consideration under papa Hafez (in 1999-2000), the stumbling blocks were the question of the Palestinian refugees and the issue of tying Palestinian statehood to the peace deal with Syria. Is an Israel-Syrian accord now focusing purely on the question of the Golan, and is there any indication that Bashar no longer wants to carry the burden of the Palestinian cause in Syria?

April 23rd, 2008, 5:15 pm

 

ausamaa said:

Did anyone really think that the Golan was the real issue?

Israel would leave the Golan early tomorrow morning if this would solve the problem with Syria. The real problem is two fold:
1)Strategically, would Israel be better off if there is real Peace? and,
2) What would be Syria’s and Israel’s future geoploitical roles after a Peace agreement is reached with Syria, the Palestinians and Lebanon?

Leaving the Golan was never the problem really.. That is why Olmert says: “President Bashar al-Assad knows precisely what our expectations are and we know his. I won’t say more.”

He only did not complete his sentence by saying: ” But the problem is that President Bashar al-Assad does not seem to be in any hurry to meet our expectations”

Nice to see Israeli politicians acting so slyly humbly. Makes you wonder who is really feeling the heat!

April 23rd, 2008, 5:49 pm

 

Observer said:

This is my latest news: Israel will return the Golan for the following
Syria break relations with Iran, HA and Hamas.
Agree to limit its armed forces to 100 000
Agree to have no tanks or artillery south of Homs
Agree to let the settlers stay
Agree to have the wheat harvest and the water and windmill farms to stay
Agree to have the ski resort used only through Israel
Agree to keep Quneitra in ruins
Agree that no Syrian can return to it
Agree to have the President shave his Moustache
Agree to have the Mukhabarat stop wearing white socks
Agree to Abolish the Syrian pound and use the Shekel instead
Agree to compensate those who leave the Golan with billions of dollars and to build a monument for their sacrifice of being uprooted from the land into Pre 67 Israel borders
Agree to deliver oil and gaz and water for the next 100 years
Agree to Israeli over flights of its territory three times per day for the next 100 years
If Syria agrees to those demands, then Israel will sit down for negotiotians about when to return the Golan, after all, some goat may be delivering her litter during the withdrawal and that cannot be tolerated.

April 23rd, 2008, 6:06 pm

 

Honest Patriot said:

What is the take of AIG, AP, and Shai on returning the Golan to Syria in exchange for peace ?

April 23rd, 2008, 6:10 pm

 

antika said:

do you think Olmart can simply return Golan to Syria? Israel is a democratic state. this decision is to be taken by the people through the K!

when Israel talks about peace it means that war is behind the door.

April 23rd, 2008, 6:31 pm

 

Naji said:

Carter says Secretary Rice “not telling truth”

Wed Apr 23, 2008 2:37pm EDT
By Matthew Bigg

ATLANTA (Reuters) – Former U.S. President Jimmy Carter on Wednesday accused Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice of not telling the truth about warnings she said her department gave Carter not to speak to Hamas before a Middle East trip.

The State Department has said U.S. Assistant Secretary of State David Welch, the top U.S. diplomat for the Middle East, issued the warning before Carter, a veteran of Middle East diplomacy, went on his trip last week.

Rice said in Kuwait on Tuesday: “We counseled President Carter against going to the region and particularly against having contact with Hamas.”

“President Carter has the greatest respect for … Rice and believes her to be a truthful person. However, perhaps inadvertently, she is continuing to make a statement that is not true,” a statement issued by the Carter center in Atlanta said on Wednesday.

“No one in the State Department or any other department of the U.S. government ever asked him (Carter) to refrain from his recent visit to the Middle East or even suggested that he not meet with Syrian President (Bashar) Assad or leaders of Hamas,” it said.

It said Carter attempted to call Rice before making the trip and a deputy returned his call since Rice was in Europe.

“They had a very pleasant discussion for about 15 minutes, during which he never made any of the negative or cautionary comments described above. He never talked to anyone else,” the statement said.

Carter had already on Monday, in an interview with National Public Radio, described as “absolutely false” any suggestion he had been warned not to meet Hamas.

“PRIVATE CITIZEN”

“The United States is not going to deal with Hamas and we certainly told President Carter that we did not think that meeting with Hamas was going to help the Palestinians,” Rice said Tuesday while attending a conference in Kuwait.

The White House backed Rice and said events after Carter’s meeting showed Hamas’ true character.

Carter “is a private citizen and he made a decision to not comply with what the State Department asked him to do,” White House spokeswoman Dana Perino told reporters on Wednesday.

April 23rd, 2008, 7:25 pm

 

Shai said:

Hi HP,

I believe most here have already heard my take on the Golan, which is very much in line with Alon Liel’s. That is, in accordance with the initiatives brought forth at the Arab Summits in Beirut and Riyadh, in order to reach an end to the Arab-Israeli conflict, Israel must first withdraw to the 1967 lines (West Bank and Golan), and must reach an acceptable solution to the Palestinian refugee problem. Since I do not believe we can, at the moment, deliver on a “deal” in the West Bank (we can’t hand it over to Fatah, without Hamas support), and since Syria has been, for the past 3-4 years extending peaceful overtures on almost every channel possible, we should and must in fact explore the Syrian track to the end. As Bashar himself stated on many occasions, we (Israel and Syria) are 80% there. The remaining 20% are NOT difficult to overcome.

There is no reason in the world for Israel not to withdraw from the Golan, if Syria is offering peace in return. As I’ve mentioned many times myself, it is clear that this “peace” will be a very superficial one, as long as the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is still at hand. But, and this is a crucial point I believe, one of the main reasons to start with Syria is because it is in a very different position than Egypt was, in regards the Palestinian issue. Bashar, unilke Sadat or Hussein, can indeed influence both Israel and Palestine in our conflict, and can help both sides overcome our differences. In fact, there is probably no better broker for peace between Israel and Palestine, than Syria. There is every reason in the world to make peace with Syria, and the sooner the better.

Having said all this, I mentioned earlier today that the majority of Israelis are against returning the Golan, even in return for peace! At the moment, according to polls taken recently, some 70% of Israelis are against it. But, in Israel we only need 50.1% support, not 95%. Which means that the battle is really over approximately 20% of Israelis, to change their stance, and to return to where they stood during Rabin’s era. Since essentially no public discourse existed in the past, and since polls showed that the majority of Israelis are against the return of the Golan, our leadership got all the justification needed NOT to talk to Syria. They were using public ignorance in a manipulative way to support their U.S.-based policy vis-a-vis Syria.

Therefore, we are now facing the two biggest battles yet – the battle over reinforcing and maintaining public discourse, and most importantly, the battle over public opinion. Like it or not, this is what we’re truly up against, not the actual restart of formal talks. I believe that if Olmert did in fact pass this message through the Turkish leadership, and if he will not deny it (we’ll see in the next 1-2 days), then we should expect formal talks to begin shortly. And then these two crucial battles will begin. I’m not very optimistic right now, but we have to give it a chance.

April 23rd, 2008, 7:35 pm

 

Alex said:

A very significant point was made when Mouallem announced it while next to the Iranian foreign minister… I ran does not mind Syria’s peace talks with Israel … for anyone who is wondering about the price Syria will be asked to pay (cutting relations with Iran, Hamas, HA …)

Syrian FM: Nothing stopping resumption of peace talks with Israel
By Yoav Stern, Haaretz Correspondent and Haaretz Service

Syrian Foreign Minister Walid Moallem said Wednesday that nothing was standing in the way of the resumption of peace talks between his country and Israel.

Moallem spoke at a press conference with his Iranian counterpart Manouchehr Mottaki in Tehran, saying that if Israel is willing to withdraw from the Golan Heights, and has “the desire to make peace, there is nothing preventing the resumption of negotiations.”

Moallem added that this type of negotiation could only take place “on the assumption that it wouldn’t harm the Palestinian track.”

April 23rd, 2008, 7:53 pm

 

Shai said:

Alex,

YES, definitely. And it was immediately reported in all the major online papers here as well. This process is very important, and I have a funny suspicion that the Syrian leadership has (very wisely) decided to do its utmost to prove its sincerity to the Israeli public (i.e. not to the Israeli leadership, but to the ones who elect them). By forcing public discourse in Israel, not only will our leaders’ “true face” be shown (either they’re for or against peace), but indeed the battle for public opinion can now begin.

Btw, Buthaina Shaaban also officially confirmed the “leak”. It is now indisputable, and Olmert will have to stand up and face the Israeli public.

April 23rd, 2008, 7:59 pm

 

idaf said:

This message by Olmert is most probably intended to reach Abbas while he is on his way to the White House…”Hey Abu Mazen, better toughen up with Hamas and accept more concessions or else.. we’ll be friends with Syria and you’ll be all on your own you poor Palestinians”.

Unfortunately Shai, we’ve seen this trick played by Israeli politicians again and again and again up to the level that the Arab media have a name for it. It’s called “playing on the [peace] tracks”. When Israelis politicians are pushed for internal or external reasons to a peace deal, they just keep “switching tracks” and try to squeeze concessions out of one track or another.

I hope I’ll be proven wrong, but all indicators were edging towards conflict. I will not be surprised if Israel conducts a military stunt after this (misleading?) peace message.

April 23rd, 2008, 8:14 pm

 

Shai said:

IDAF,

Everything is possible and, from many Israeli politicians’ view, also the same goes for Syria. That is, many here suspect that Syria’s talk of peace is also interest-driven having nothing to do with Israel. That, for instance, it is only trying to get the U.S. to end its isolation of Syria, or to show the Europeans how un-“terroristlike” it is. In other words, that it is insincere, and is trying to “squeeze” something out of this exercise. Personally, I don’t believe it. I think Syria is very sincere, and wants to put our conflict behind us once and for all.

But I must say that something puzzles me about your suspicions. After all, it is not Israelis that are asking for peace with Syria. The opposite! Most Israelis are against it (the return of the Golan). It is Bashar Assad, and others in the Syrian leadership, that have been calling out to Israel to make peace for the past 3-4 years now, on just about every channel possible. So if you think that a peace process between Syria and Israel will be used negatively by Israel (“… to squeeze concessions..”, etc.), then take it up with the Syrian leadership, not with Israel’s. Just look at how Olmert is getting crucified today after the leak by the Syrian website. The entire Right in Israel is fuming, some on the Left are calling him “irresponsible”, and in his OWN party, Kadima, at least one MK said Olmert has no right to do so. So how can you continue to blame Israelis for this process, which was and is initiated by Syria??? Put more simply, I suppose, when we (majority of Israelis) want peace you blame us for having ulterior motives. But when we don’t want peace, you ALSO blame us for having ulterior motives?

April 23rd, 2008, 8:24 pm

 

Naji said:

Joshua’s title for the post hints at what is behind all these mixed messages and conflicting signs: the old carrot and stick approach to keep Syria out when that “hot summer” that Welch promised on his last visit to Lebanon commences.

Everything seems to be pointing in the direction of a plan to finish off what was attempted a couple of summers ago…, but this time on wider scale and with direct US participation along with Israel, facilitated by the Arabs of course. The exercises in Israel, all the ominous signs that have been pointed out in the various articles in previous posts, the US absolute veto on any settlement in Lebanon or between Hamas and Fatah, the re-posturing of the various Lebanese factions, Larsens report, Petraious’ testimony and his new appointment, etc…

My guess is that a “shock and awe” type of operation will be attempted to take out all these meddlers once and for all…: a second blow to finally break the back of the weakened and exposed HA by a forceful strike on its Bekaa valley stronghold; a major blow to Hamas in Gaza that will silence them for a while; and a major strike against Iran’s Revolutionary Guard and their proxies in Iraq (and perhaps even a little strike at some nuclear installations for good measure). The idea is to defang Iran and Syria in preparation for that peace deal that Bush has prepared for the area, perhaps as described by Robert Malley. Olmert and Israel are really anxious about going along if the thing is going to escalate into a major area-wide conflict along the doomsday scenario that Shai keeps describing and trying to avoid. They figure they can withstand and absorb a rocket attack by HA, but if Syrian rockets start to also rain down all over the place (and continue to be supplied to HA)…, well it is just not as pretty then… things could get much messier…and the outcome is not quite as predictable… they even tried to test Syrian reaction with that silly raid last summer, but Syria maintained its deterrent ambiguity…. etc…

But giving the Golan back, a priori, to the Syrian “ripe fruit” is the last thing they have in mind…

April 23rd, 2008, 8:28 pm

 

idaf said:

Shai,

Notice.. I used the terms “Israeli politicians” not “Israeli public”. So I’m not “accusing the majority of Israelis” with anything.

However, keep in mind that Olmert is out of the internal political game for now. Any stunt he might pull (military or peace) is better than nothing for his (and his party’s) internal popularity. My gut feeling is that he’s opting for a “war stunt” but sending conciliatory messages to the Syrians, similar to the message he sent through Solana to the Syrians days before the strike on “military box” in the Syrian desert.

Again, I hope I’m wrong.

April 23rd, 2008, 8:41 pm

 

Shai said:

Naji,

You may be right, but I certainly hope not. It would mean, put plainly, that Israel, the U.S., most Arab states, INCLUDING Syria, are willing to sell out the Palestinians (since Hamas has a majority support, at least in the 2006 elections), and HA and Iran. I have a feeling that even if Syria in the end is willing to change considerably its alliances with HA/Hamas/Iran, it will not sell any of them out, because the return of the Golan plus a warm embrace by the U.S./Europe is NOT going to save its tail from the fundamentalists that will forever view Syria as the biggest traitor. It would be foolish for Syria to do so, which is why it won’t. Also, don’t forget that the Golan will not be delivered in 6 months. The withdrawal will likely take years (numbers have been mentioned of 5-15 years). So we’re talking about a long process, during which Syria cannot be seen as giving up on Iran, or on the Palestinians. The much sought after “magic formula”, will include all of those in the equation.

My so-called “doomsday scenario” related mainly to a continued stagnation between Syria and Israel, while other parties (HA/Hamas) can in essence determine the fate of the region with a click of a button. If indeed formal talks restart, I imagine more stability will be experienced, at least in the near future. Where those talks will lead… only Allah knows. We’ve already seen them fail a dozen times in the last two decades…

April 23rd, 2008, 8:41 pm

 

Naji said:

My point was that the promise of peace talks to Syria is meant to be the carrot against the stick of the promise and ominous signs of war… all meant to simply keep Syria out of this summer’s conflict… and the “click of a button” is not going to come from HA or Hamas, but from Bush and his minions…

Even allowing (see news about Rice lying) old Carter to go around kissing Meshal and Zahar might also be looked at as attempts to put Syria at ease and reassuring them and others that all will be alright after this nasty little business is taken care of…

April 23rd, 2008, 9:00 pm

 

Naji said:

Dear Joshua,
What do you think…did I get it right…?!

April 23rd, 2008, 9:16 pm

 

Shai said:

Naji,

I see what you mean now. But again, peace talks is not a carrot to Syria, if anything, it’s a carrot to Israel, against the stick of war. Israelis do not want peace right now, Syria does. As you know already my infamous “doomsday scenario”, the so-called “click of a button” refers to some Qassam going astray, and hitting directly and killing 8-9 kids. That single rocket could lead to a chain reaction that’ll start a new, massive, and potentially catastrophic regional war. I don’t see Bush attacking Iran in the next few months, unless something dramatic happens. I used to think otherwise, but time is running, and America is looking forward to a new leadership. They’re ready to “forget” about the Bush era, I believe. From what I hear, there’s substantial pressure from within the Republican party to not go on any further “adventures” before the next election, because although Bush and Cheney will be gone, the rest of the Republican party won’t… And, they want McCain to represent them and win. That’ll be almost an impossibility if the Republican administration approves a major operation against Iran.

April 23rd, 2008, 9:16 pm

 

Shai said:

IDAF,

Sorry, I also meant accusing the politicians. When I say “majority of Israelis”, I have in mind their so-called representatives in Knesset. After all, you would not see the crucifixion of Olmert that took place today, by so many politicians, analysts, etc. if they didn’t know that the majority of Israelis weren’t behind them. What I meant, therefore, is that it seemed to me puzzling why when Israeli politicians talk peace you suspect them, and when they talk against peace, you also suspect them? If what you mean is only about Olmert, and let’s say Barak as his Defense Minister, then in theory you could be right (that indeed it’s a prelude to war). But I doubt it, because why go all the way with such a bold statement? Why not just stay with the last few months’ back-and-forth dance? Why put yourself under so much scrutiny now in Israel? While most Israelis aren’t interested in peace (or in returning the Golan, more correctly), they certainly aren’t interested in war either. So if Olmert, who suffered terribly since Lebanon 2006 and is just barely hanging on, decides to do a “pay back” to HA, and even punish Syria next time around, he’ll have the Israeli public to answer to the day after. And although 2006 was already two years ago, the Israeli public has not forgotten the million-plus Israelis that sat in underground shelters during those 34 days. Like America will not forgive Bush for another war in the ME (Iran), Israel will not accept another “adventure” into Lebanon, or certainly not Syria. And, unlike Bush, Olmert is hoping to stay at least until 2010, if not beyond. He said so just a few days ago… Olmert is a dinosaur politician – he will exist for a long time in politics, and therefore will not be foolish to make the same mistake twice.

April 23rd, 2008, 9:30 pm

 

Abu Amir said:

I am looking at the latest developments, the “half full cup” and it brings a smile on my lips. Since my estimate of the situation is very similar to Dr. Alon Liel and not far from Shay,I am optimistic that the remaining 20% are in realm of reality and it is posible to overcome them.I HAVE A LOT OF RESPECT TODAY, BOTH FOR President Bashar Assad and Prime Minister Ehud Olmert. They deserve a big hand, as each of them is taking care of the best of interest of their respective country. And co-existence and future generations are responsibility of both of them. Lets hope the best from their genuine leadership and care for their people -our hopes have power too. I choose to believe, that this week, when Olmert is on Holliday, he is looking at the bigger picture,and so does the president. Lets give them some credit, that manipulations and tactics is not how they would like to be remembered in the history books.So I hope to wake up tomorrow morning with a smile on my lips and wishing you the same. Good night and good morning !

T

April 23rd, 2008, 9:32 pm

 

Naji said:

Not a MAJOR operation against Iran… but an operation that will target the meddlesome RG, the grounds for which have been amply prepared if you watched the Petraious testimony for example… something like sixty five times he and Crocker emphasized that it is Iran that is the source of all the trouble and who is killing American soldiers… Syria’s role was described as “ambivalent”… allowing Syria a way out if it wants one… a typical military strategy…! An operation that is not big enough to make Iran risk all by lashing out against its neighbors, or even against Israel, but big enough to humiliate and defang…

And, really, peace talks are not a carrot for Syria… but a carrot for Israel…!? Since when…?! All the IG’s (including the PPP ones) have been tirelessly pointing out how Syria has been begging for the talks for years, but that Israel is not interested/allowed to go ahead… And, frankly, why should it at this point…!? In any case, the Israeli public and Knesset reaction today was an indication of the current mood… Perhaps Syria’s insistence on the public declaration that it got today was an attempt to expose the ploy…!!??

April 23rd, 2008, 9:38 pm

 

Shai said:

Abu Amir,

Thank you for saying that. I feel very much the same. By the way, speaking of Olmert on his (Golan) holiday, I suddenly recalled that Mubarak once invited Hafez Assad to Sharem el-Sheikh to “see what he’s missing”. Perhaps Olmert needed this private and quiet time on the Golan, to finally separate emotionally from this territory… Just a thought… 🙂

April 23rd, 2008, 9:41 pm

 

Abu Amir said:

I am looking at the latest developments, the “half full cup” and it brings a smile on my lips. Since my estimate of the situation is very similar to Dr. Alon Liel and not far from Shay, I am optimistic that the remaining 20% are in realm of reality and it is possible to overcome them. I have a lot of respect for President Bashar Assad and Prime Minister Ehud Olmert. They deserve a big hand, as each of them is taking care of the best of the interest of their people. And co-existence and future generations are the responsibility of both of them. Let’s hope the best from their genuine leadership and care for their people – since our hopes like prayers, energies, have power too. I choose to believe, that this week, when Olmert is on Holidays, he is looking at the bigger picture, and so does President Bashar Assad. Lets give them some credit, that manipulations and tactics only, is not how they would like to be remembered in the history books. So I hope to wake up tomorrow morning with a smile on my lips and wishing you the same. Good night and good morning !

April 23rd, 2008, 9:43 pm

 

Shai said:

Naji,

YES, exactly! It could well have been a (wise) attempt to expose the “true face” of our leadership (either their FOR peace, or AGAINST it). Syria doesn’t know, anymore than you, whether Olmert and Barak are setting them up, or not. They have to find out, and that’s probably what they’re doing now. But again, the facts are Naji, whether you or I like them or not (I don’t), that most Israelis citizens and most Israeli politicians are NOT interested in returning the Golan to Syria, or the West Bank to the Palestinians. It is also a fact, that Syria, through the leadership of Bashar Assad, has been calling upon Israel to restart peace negotiations for the past 3-4 years. So peace has been offered to Israel by Syria, not the other way around, and hence the “carrot to Israel” rather than “carrot to Syria”. I don’t think you disagree with me about the facts, but perhaps about the interpretation of who’s getting what here…

April 23rd, 2008, 9:48 pm

 

why-discuss said:

Shai

You seem to imply that Israel is not in a hurry to make peace with Syria and that it is Syria that is courting Israel.
You seem to forget that every year that passes, Iran is stronger militarily and by extension its allies, Hamas and Hezbollah. Therefore if Israel and the public opinion still hope to keep the country safe in the next few years by more shelters and US weapons, this is doomed. Each day the threat on Israel is growing. Missiles from HA can reach now Tel Aviv. Is it necessary that the Israelis see this happenning to realize that they should seek a kind of peace as soon as possible? The return of the Golan would be a positive sign. Yet most Israelis seem to live in oblivion of the harsh realities facing them.

April 23rd, 2008, 9:55 pm

 

Naji said:

The facts are indisputable… the intentions are dubious…!

April 23rd, 2008, 9:58 pm

 

Shai said:

Why-Discuss,

I’m not implying that Israelis are not in a hurry – that is the sad truth! I am, if you haven’t noticed yet, completely against this lackadaisical way of looking at our region, at the growing threats, but more importantly at the growing instability. I’m not worried about Iranian nukes landing in Tel-Aviv, as I am of a primitive Qassam going astray and igniting a regional war with 4 fronts. You’re preaching to the choir when you talk about the need to seek peace ASAP. I’m with you on that 100%.

Alright, time for me to call it a night… see ‘yall tomorrow!

April 23rd, 2008, 10:00 pm

 

Shai said:

Naji,

That’s what some people on SC also say about my intentions… what can you do, sometimes you also choose what you want to believe in, over what perhaps you should believe in. Maybe I suffer from that as well… None of us know everything, and almost anything is possible. The question is always not what’s possible, but what’s likely. And personally, I’d rather be optimistic and occasionally be proven wrong, than pessimistic and occasionally be proven right.

Yalla, good night!

April 23rd, 2008, 10:22 pm

 

Naji said:

Good night to all…!

April 23rd, 2008, 10:43 pm

 

norman said:

Israel will never return the Golan without a major setback that scares the Israeli public or cause loss of lives of their soldiers ,
Until then we can just talk , Israel responds only to pressure , they did that in Lebanon, and Gaza , they have peace treaties with Egypt and Jordon only to isolate the Palestinians , that is not an option for Syria as Syria will not abandon the Palestinians , that could be because they consider the Palestinians as part of greater Syria .

So Syria should prepare for war , that is the only way ,

I hope i am wrong.

April 24th, 2008, 12:26 am

 

Enlightened said:

Some News That I pinched from another site!

The search for a new presidential candidate in Lebanon. An informed source tells me that Syria and the opposition in Lebanon have lost any faith in the candidacy of Michel Sulayman. They now treat him as a figure who belongs to March 14th, and they are acting accordingly. The statements by Talal Arsalan (a client of the Syrian regime and a close friend of Bashshar Al-Asad) have been the most revealing. The rest are playing a game: pretending to support Sulayman while working behind the scenes to undermine his candidacy. I expect the stalemate to continue into the last day of the Bush administration. Bashshar Al-Asad seems to be falling into an old weapon of his father: extreme patience and diplomatic procrastination. Under such circumstances, it is possible that old names may be brought in: people like Jean `Ubayd (the favorite candidate of Nabih Birri) and Michel Iddi (the favorite candidate of Patriarch Sfayr).

Excuse the spelling (sic)

April 24th, 2008, 1:05 am

 

Majhool said:

Enlightened

The news bits you provided are quite believable.

Norman,Observer, and Nour

I agree with all of you, this is all “talk”. As for war, we will surely lose it under current circumstances. In order to win the war or even accomplish a scare true elements of power has to be achieved. and to be frank, under this minimalist reform agenda we will not going to get there any time soon.

April 24th, 2008, 1:42 am

 

Enlightened said:

Question Regarding Displaced Syrians on the Golan:

” Does anyone know what the Syrian Governments plans for resettling the Golani refugees back on the Plateau are?”

Will those that owned land and houses prior to 67, be able to reclaim their property simply through their land documents and property titles?

April 24th, 2008, 1:59 am

 

norman said:

The US is losing 8 Bilion /month in Iraq , can Israel take that in a long war with Syria , Syria needs the well to fight not the resources , Israel can not occupy Syria.

April 24th, 2008, 2:07 am

 

Majhool said:

” Does anyone know what the Syrian Governments plans for resettling the Golani refugees back on the Plateau are?”

I doubt that they even thought about it. I truly believe that the issue of peace with Israel is an issue of survival for the regime and it’s not a matter of lost land or rights Gloani comunity.

Syria can regain the Golan Heights in two ways:
1) Popular Resistance backed by the people. Such a resistance requires a level of freedom that is simply not permissible. Not only that, significant resistance movements in the region tend to resort to religion for motivation. This is very risky for a regime that is secular and does not have the full backing of the majority of the Syrians.
2) Classical war, this will take resources. Syria lack resources and it’s unlikely to do better anytime soon. To achieve any breakthrough in this field requires dismantling the Baath/Mukhabarat structure that has been mismanaging the country’s resources, and we all know that’s not going to happen.

April 24th, 2008, 3:05 am

 

Enlightened said:

Comments From Juan Cole on the Israeli Spy Ring:

The Israeli spy ring that penetrated the US Pentagon to steal high-tech secrets including nuclear ones was bigger than just Jonathan Pollard. It is an open secret in US security circles that no foreign country spies on the US more intensively than Israel. And, apparently, none has been more successful in actually prying loose top secret documents. Sy Hersh’s sources alleged to him that secrets that went to Israel were either in turn picked up by Soviet moles in Israel or were sold on the black market and ended up with the Soviet Union.

The damage that Israeli spying has done to US security is immense, not only because of such leaks but also because of Israeli reverse engineering of US technology and the pirating of it. Further, the nuclearization of the Middle East that the Israelis initiated has the potential to drag us all into Armageddon.

The Israeli Right is always going on about threats to Israel’s existence, even though it is the most powerful country in the Middle East. But no one ever brings up its strangulation of the Palestinian nation, its siege of Gaza, its dispossession of the West Bankers. The right makes an imagined future threat the basis for actual victimization of others in the present. America’s security is deeply threatened by the ongoing Israeli colonization projects in the Middle East, as should have been clear for some time.

April 24th, 2008, 4:12 am

 

Shai said:

Enlightened,

I guess Juan Cole must know a lot about Israeli spy rings, and so does Sy Hersh.

Even Henry L. Stimson, former U.S. secretary of state who was in charge of his department’s cryptanalytic office, and is famous for having said “Gentlemen don’t read each other’s mail”, later changed his attitude. It should come as no shock to any educated person, that friends and allies very much spy on one another. And, naturally, someone has to be better at it than others. Or, you can also think of it as less-successful because some are caught. During the Cold War, endless Soviet spies were caught inside the U.S., but apparently far fewer American spies caught in the U.S.S.R. Does that mean the U.S. spied less inside the U.S.S.R.? I doubt it. True, both nations were rivals on global scale, with clashing ideologies, and therefore it would seem much more legitimate to spy on one another. The Soviet Union would not have reached their own atomic bomb by 1949, had they not stolen information from the Manhattan Project through their own spies. Having said that, friends still, and always have, spied on friends…

April 24th, 2008, 4:57 am

 

Enlightened said:

Shai:

I am not making a value judgement on this issue, I am not American or Jewish (just as well AIG is not here lol been banned lol again), il leave that to any American citizen making a value or moral judgement on the case.

Thoroughly agree about your point, about the spying issue, it does not come as a shock, the timing and release of this ( Israel’s 60year anniversary and and whoever leaked this has some agenda I feel) is more to the point.

My take on this, well why was it hidden for so long? And who are elements who are responsible for hiding this within the government or administration?

As I understand it there are also some issues with two members of AIPAC who are being investigated for Spying for Israel (this does not come as a shock)

This would suggest that, as irrationals and judeophobes alike use to point out, there does exist a certain degree of Zionist, or, more generally, (gulp!) Jewish control of both the press and the academia; a control that other groups, such as Arabs or Muslims, do not enjoy

One is tempted to think all of that, but of course one doesn’t think it; because thinking it, let alone saying it, would be antisemitic. (IF AIG was here)

Get my drift? Friends or no friends ( i promise that I wont throw a Koala at you)

April 24th, 2008, 5:11 am

 

Shai said:

Enlightened,

I prefer Koalas over Qassams… 🙂

No, I do understand your point, and the almost innate belief by Arabs and Muslims that Israel, through its Jewish lobbying groups and the media, control much in America. For all practical purposes, it may be quite the truth. But, as successful as Jews may be in the U.S., I do believe they’re not channeling these abilities correctly, when blindly siding with Israeli policy, no matter who’s at the helm, and what that policy happens to be. Instead, I believe it would serve Israel’s best interests far better, if AIPAC or Murdoch’s media was much more balanced, supporting Israel when need be, but also criticizing the hell out of it when necessary. People like you (and I) would listen to such an AIPAC much more than today, where you are essentially automatically dismissing anything they put out, as one-sided and pro-Israel.

About this so-called “leak” (Kadish spying in the 1980’s). I find it hard to believe “Jews” were involved in the leak, unless they were vehemently anti-Israeli Jews. The timing could not be worse, for Israel. The damage done to Israel’s image (because most people do NOT understand that friends spy on friends – it’s a psychological or emotional barrier most have) has been damaged far more than current U.S. security. You know, despite the temptation to believe otherwise, we sometimes have to accept that maybe things just happened in a particular way at a particular time, without any clear motivation or use of manipulation. From what I understand of this whole story, this Kadish guy, who is now in his 80’s, felt recently that he was being “followed”. He contacted his original controller (who apparently remained friends with Kadish over the years), told him of his concerns, and the latter suggested to Kadish not to tell the truth if questioned by authorities. Kadish, apparently, decided to do otherwise. Who knows… I don’t think you or I have inside sources that can “teach us” more about this episode than we know by now. Those who think it’s some kind of Jewish manipulation are probably wrong, as it serves no good purpose for Israel, that I can think of… (by the way, if anything, it makes it now less likely that Pollard will be released anytime soon…)

April 24th, 2008, 5:32 am

 

majedkhaldoun said:

In Syria,the talk there is that Syria killed Mughnieh,in exchange for Zuhair Al Siddiq, arrangements were made between Israel and french police, Zuhair was taken to Israel then Israel demanded that Syria kills Hasan Nasrallah, Syria could not kill Nasrallah, but they offer Mughnieh, and the deal was approved by Israel.
This put Assad under severe pressure, now Israel can demand anything from Assad, otherwise Israel will expose the deal.
the prices in Syria are doubling in everything,except real estate,which is tripling,increasing the gap between poor and rich.

April 24th, 2008, 5:57 am

 

Shai said:

Majedkhaldoun,

The bit about Mughniyeh sounds to me like utter BS. Conspiracy theory of this sort is always good for some leisure reading, but rarely true in real life. But then again… who knows.

April 24th, 2008, 6:19 am

 

Rowan Berkeley said:

Today’s revelations will revolve around a video supposedly filmed clandestinely inside the reactor before it was bombed. This going to be a very Rorschach type video, I imagine. “Sources familiar with the video say it also shows that the Syrian reactor core’s design is the same as that of the North Korean reactor at Yongbyon, including a virtually identical configuration and number of holes for fuel rods.”
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/04/23/AR2008042302906.html

Dr. Imad Mustapha, the Syrian ambassador, said the CIA briefings were meant to undermine diplomatic efforts with North Korea, not to confront Syria: “Why are they repeating the same lies and fabrications they used when they were planning to attack Iraq? The reason is simple; it’s about North Korea, not Syria.”

April 24th, 2008, 6:22 am

 

Rowan Berkeley said:

CIA back-pedals on the video : A US official said the intelligence that will be presented to lawmakers would include “some pretty compelling before and after [aerial] pictures of the site.” The presentation is expected to include still photographs taken from videotape recorded inside the Syrian facility, the official said.

April 24th, 2008, 8:57 am

 

ausamaa said:

My God, are we not tired yet off all these theories and discussions. I beleive we are going to keep going in circles until we have a Regime Change…

in Washington,D.C.!!!!

and even then…it will take some more time as each side re-figure their choices and options.

April 24th, 2008, 10:14 am

 

SimoHurttta said:

The Haaretz story about the coming nuclear “reactor” hearing says refering to an anonymous source of course:
“That reactor has in the past produced a small amount of plutonium, which can be a component in nuclear weapons.”

That would mean that the reactor was functioning = loaded with uranium, when it was bombed. Wouldn’t bombing a functioning reactor, even a small one, create a considerable amount of radioactive material spread in the atmosphere and surroundings? Certainly such sudden rise of radiation can’t go internationally unnoticed. Also cleaning the environment would be a massive task and most certainly such cleaning operations and large no-go zones would be noticed by local people. Syria is not a so closed society that news and rumours of such operations would not spread out of the country.

Haaretz and JP also mention in the articles that Israel doesn’t want to speak about this incident, so that Assad doesn’t feel humiliated and Syria will attack Israel. This excuse has also been used before. That is the most amusing piece of propaganda I have read for a while. If Syria would have nukes such attack fear would be understandable, but knowing the superiority of Israel and Israel’s “attack bulling” against Iran (a much stronger enemy) that fear has little “rationality”.

What if Israel would say that we have completely solid evidence about Iran’s nuclear program, but we do not reveal it, so that Ahmadinejad doesn’t feel humiliated and attack Israel? 100 percent proof of Arab / Muslim nations creating covertly nuclear weapons would a lotto win for Israel and USA. Something they have claimed for three, four decades. And now they tell we are not going to tell about it, because the leader (which they do not like) of the “target” country can be upset of the negative publicity.

Interesting to see what “evidence” is leaked from these hearings.

April 24th, 2008, 11:26 am

 

Akbar Palace said:

Everyone here (including Professor Josh) said there was no way the Syrian facility housed a [North Korean] nuclear reactor.

More evidence of the Arab denial we’re so accustomed to in the Middle East.

Remember the series of articles run here on Syria Comment? Here’s one:

“Sy Hersh: Syrian Facility Bombed by Israel not Nuclear” Sunday, February 3rd, 2008

What a joke!

As Arab and Muslim terrorism continues to spread, GWB will be remembered as a leader who dared to confront this phenomenon instead of running away from it.

April 24th, 2008, 11:32 am

 

why-discuss said:

Bush and the CIA must show some success somewhere. They have failed in just everything, North Korea de-nuclearization dragging its feet, Iraq’s 4,050 US soldiers dead and it is increasing by the day, Lebanon stalemate, their foe Iran’s growing influence in the ME, Palestine deadlock, US economy crisis etc..
Now, they are putting all their guns toward Syria, coming out with all sorts of assertions and misinformation, hoping to glean some meager success and pressurize North Korea and Syria. It is pathetic. This administration is a total disaster and will be remembered as the worst ever in US history.

April 24th, 2008, 11:34 am

 

SimoHurttta said:

Now in the JP article about this nuclear thing is said that the reactor produced small amounts of plutonium, but it was not yet complete and was not “loaded”.

As engineer by education it would be interesting to know how a not yet complete and not loaded reactor can produce even small amounts of plutonium.

An ABC News story tells us:
“Once the facts are made public, the Bush administration will demand that Syria explain its nuclear activities and will ask the International Atomic Energy Agency to investigate.”

Why now bother IAEA now when there is no evidence left? Why not then when IAEA asked them (Israel and USA) to give the evidence after the bombing? Makes no sense if there was a reactor which had been used.

April 24th, 2008, 1:17 pm

 

Nur al-Cubicle said:

US official said the intelligence that will be presented to lawmakers would include “some pretty compelling before and after [aerial] pictures of the site.”

What would Congress be with PowerPoint, PhotoShop, gullibility and fire-breathing self-righteousness?

April 24th, 2008, 1:30 pm

 

Rowan Berkeley said:

I got another quote from Syrian Ambassador Imad Mustapha : “If they show a video, remember that the US went to the UN Security Council and displayed evidence and images about weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. I hope the American people will not be as gullible this time around.”

April 24th, 2008, 2:26 pm

 

Qifa Nabki said:

Current situation in Lebanon vis-a-vis Phalange killings is very serious. Amin Gemayel is not helping things with this statement:

Gemayel warned Skaff not to get himself, his supporters and the Zahle area involved “in a battle that is much bigger than you. Do not try to play with fire for you know what the Phalange Party is.”

The Civil War began with a couple of dead Phalangists.

April 24th, 2008, 2:44 pm

 

Shual said:

“holes for fuel rods”

There are no holes for fuel rods in reactors, Mr. “Sources familiar with the video” …”and with the White House”. It starts again: that payed idiots talk amateurish things. Give us some pictures, we are able to check them on our own.

April 24th, 2008, 3:53 pm

 

ausamaa said:

Qifa Nabki

“The Civil War began with a couple of dead Phalangists”

Sorry, but it has started with a bunch of Phalangists gunning down a bus load of civilian Palestinians passing through Ain Al Rummaneh.

And Ya habibi, do you really beleive that Lebanon would go through a Civil War??? Civil war between who and who? Any real forces to “seriously” compete against each other? A civil war for what? To give Al Harriri and Siniora and their little Jaja the right to own lebanon? A civil war to “disarm” Hizbullah which even Israel failed to defeat? A war to create a Christian enclave to justify the Jewish enclave next door? You think the majority of the Lebanese would go fo that? Even Riyadh would not go for it. So, why you guys keep talking about a Civil War as if you are wishing for it to happen!

I hate to say it, but every time I hear someone “warning” of a civil war in Lebanon, I remember what Abu Ammar once said to a correspondent who asked him about some Arab leaders who were worried of a Palestinian civil war in the West Bank and Gaza. Abu Ammar looked at him and said: Are they worried about a civil war talking place here or are they “wishing” for it to happen? Indeed QN you are not wishing for it to happen, but for the love of God, if we keep talking about the devil, then….!!!

No war, no peace, mere empty posturing and all will stay in limbo as long as you have a wicked,confused and impotant neocon Regime in D.C. that can not put up and does not want to shut up.

That is my humble “positive” reading of the sitution.

April 24th, 2008, 4:09 pm

 

Qifa Nabki said:

Ausamaa,

The Phalangist murderers who carried out the bus killings on April 13 1975 were taking “revenge” for the killings of a couple Phalangists at a church in Ain al-Rummaneh earlier that day. This is what I meant.

As for the likelihood of civil war, Ausamaa I think you underestimate the potential for things to get out of hand. All you need for conflict is political tension, high emotions, and lots of guns. Armies are unnecessary: a string of attacks and counter-attacks can be enough to let the situation get out of control.

o, why you guys keep talking about a Civil War as if you are wishing for it to happen!

I would think again before you make ridiculous accusations like this. Both sides refer to “civil war” as a red line, on a daily basis. Is Nasrallah “wishing for it to happen”? Is Aoun? Is Wahhab? Is Frangieh?

April 24th, 2008, 4:23 pm

 

why-discuss said:

All summer resorts in lebanon are fully booked for this summer by lebanese coming back after 1 year of skipping Beirut.
no lebanese politicians wants a civil war now?.. maybe in autumn

April 24th, 2008, 4:35 pm

 

wizart said:

There is never a rational reason for a war to start in Lebanon or elsewhere. However, given what happened in Zahle recently with the killing of two Kataebs as they were setting up a new political office, the cause for concern is warranted and I hope emotions cool off soon.

أكد رئيس الهيئة التنفيذية في “القوات اللبنانية” الدكتور سمير جعجع ان جوزف الذوقي مطلق النار في جريمة زحلة التي راح ضحيتها الشهيدان الكتائبيان نصري ماروني وسليم عاصي، نقل إلى الجنوب بتغطية من “حزب الله”. واعتبر الدكتور جعجع “أن الواقعة التي بيّنت أن “حزب الله” نقل جوزف الذوقي مطلق النار في جريمة زحلة إلى الجنوب، ليست واقعة بسيطة لا بل مهمة وخطيرة في أبعادها باعتبار أنها يمكن ان تساعد في القضاء على الفتنة، هذا اذا وجد عند الفريق الآخر نية فعلية لوأدها. لكنها تدفعنا لوضع علامة استفهام كبيرة جداً حول ما قيل عن ان هذا الحادث فردي، فلو كان هذا الحادث فردياً، ما علاقة “حزب الله” به لينقل مطلق النار من مسرح الجريمة إلى مكان ما في الجنوب؟”.

http://www.kataeb.org/index.asp?stay=1

April 24th, 2008, 4:44 pm

 

offended said:

Smart move by the CIA. It’s much easier to deliver a still image of the interior of the demised ‘Syrian Nuclear Reactor’. All it takes is an IT-savvy agent who’s good in photoshop and basic knowledge of nuclear industry. While producing the video is quite a nuisance. You will need a Hollywood movie set and animation studio. Lots of scary looking Syrians and Koreans mulling around in overalls and talking without the need for interpreters (they’ve been around each other that much). Of course, the supporting actors playing Syrians will have to feign the sullen look we are known for on their faces. I now know why it is fun to be a CIA agent.

April 24th, 2008, 4:51 pm

 

ausamaa said:

Qifa Nabki

I was not accusing you. Yes, I am accusing few certain Jaja-style of this, and I am accusing the Feb 14 gang of “promoting” such a scenario to make it look like the Opposition stand as regards the Presidential issue stand off is a cause of alarm and that either the Opposition backs down or a Civil War will be risked. But I did not accuse you.

If you noted in the same post I wrote:”Indeed QN you are not wishing for it to happen, but for the love of God, if we keep talking about the devil, then….!!!”

April 24th, 2008, 4:56 pm

 

Majhool said:

Aljazeera

شكك مراقبون إسرائيليون في تصريحات للجزيرة نت اليوم بجدية وصدقية النوايا الإسرائيلية حول السلام مع سوريا واعتبروا الأنباء والتسريبات الصحفية حولها مناورة داخلية.

وعبر البروفيسور موشيه معوز، الباحث المختص بالعلاقات السورية الإسرائيلية، عن شكوكه البالغة بمصداقية الأنباء والتسريبات عن موافقة رئيس الوزراء الإسرائيلي إيهود أولمرت على الانسحاب من الجولان.

ويرجح معوز أن تكون هناك رسائل من أولمرت للرئيس الأسد حول موافقته على تسديد ثمن السلام بالانسحاب من الجولان، لكنه أكد كونها أقوالا لا أفعالا تنبع من دوافع سياسية داخلية لا تفضي لشق طريق للسلام.

وأضاف “كما في المسار الفلسطيني فإن المشكلة في كثرة التصريحات وقلة التطبيق على الأرض”.

ويستبعد معوز -الذي سبق أن وضع كتاب سيرة عن الرئيس الراحل حافظ الأسد- أن يشهد المسار السوري أي تطور حقيقي مشيرا إلى معارضة واشنطن لذلك وكذا معارضة الرأي العام الإسرائيلي التنازل عن الجولان المحتل.

إسرائيل مازالت تلوح بورقة الانسحاب من الجولان لتحقيق السلام مع سوريا(الفرنسية-أرشيف)
مناورة فارغة
ويرى أن التسريبات المختلفة حول موافقة إسرائيل على الانسحاب من الجولان لا تتجاوز كونها مناورة سياسية فارغة، ولم يستبعد أن تكون هذه محاولة للضغط على السلطة الفلسطينية إزاء اصطدام المفاوضات معها بعثرات جدية.

ونوه معوز إلى أن الشروط الإسرائيلية المطالبة بتخفيف أو قطع صلات سوريا مع إيران وحزب الله والمنظمات الفلسطينية تجعل القضية صعبة المنال.

وقال إن الرئيس بشار الأسد في المقابل له شروطه أيضا وأبرزها استعادة الجولان كاملا، والاعتراف بما أسماه نفوذه في لبنان وقيام واشنطن بتحريره من ملف اغتيال رئيس الوزراء اللبناني السابق رفيق الحريري.

واعتبر أن الأسد معني بهذه التسريبات والتصريحات حول السلام والاستعداد الإسرائيلي للانسحاب، رغم علمه بعدم جديتها آملا بتعزيز نظام حكمه وشرعيته في العالم.

صعوبة المسار
وبدوره يستبعد المراسل السياسي لصحيفة يديعوت أحرونوت شمعون شيفر حصول تقدم في المسار السوري قبل نهاية ولاية الرئيس جورج بوش ودون رعاية واشنطن للمفاوضات.

ويؤكد شيفر تبادل أولمرت والأسد الرسائل التي يبديان فيها تفهم مواقف بعضهما البعض بما يتعلق بثمن السلام من ناحية إعادة الجولان مقابل التزام سوريا بتغيير علاقاتها مع إيران وحزب الله والمنظمات الفلسطينية.

وشدد شيفر على وجود مصالح مشتركة بالاحتفاظ باتصالات غير مباشرة بين البلدين وتسريب الأنباء حولها خدمة لأغراض سياسية داخلية.


أكد ألون ليئيل المدير العام لوزارة الخارجية الإسرائيلي السابق أن واشنطن هي التي تحظر على إسرائيل الاستجابة لدعوات السلام الصادرة عن سوريا

ولاحظ أن أولمرت معني بإيصال رسالة للإسرائيليين بأنه يبحث عن التسوية في المسار السوري أيضا، فيما يبحث الأسد عن التأثير على الولايات المتحدة بأن “الصورة المفزعة” التي ينسبونها لسوريا ليست دقيقة.

ويدلل الصحفي الإسرائيلي على الابتعاد عن المفاوضات الحقيقية بين الدولتين بالإشارة إلى أن أولمرت يواصل قضاء عطلة عيد الفصح في الجولان المحتل.

دعوات السلام
وأكد ألون ليئيل المدير العام لوزارة الخارجية السابق أن واشنطن هي التي تحظر على إسرائيل الاستجابة لدعوات السلام الصادرة عن سوريا، وعبر عن أمله بأن تتغير الأوضاع من هذه الناحية عند انتهاء ولاية بوش نهاية العام.

واتهم ليئيل أولمرت بالضعف وقال إنه لو كان شجاعا لأبدى موقفا مستقلا علنيا، واستبعد خروج الأنباء الأخيرة حول “تطورات” في المسار السوري عن كونها جعجعة بلا طحين.

April 24th, 2008, 5:01 pm

 

Rowan Berkeley said:

One thing that is stated in most reports though not especially stressed is that “the video of the inside of the reactor” was provided by Israel to CIA prior to the attack. Another thing that has been stressed is that Israel will NOT provide supporting evidence or testimony – Phil Giraldi has an interesting theory, from which I have extracted the most relevant sentences : “Israeli sources are reporting that the FBI investigation of the Ben-Ami Kadish spy case resulted from a leak coming from “doves” inside the Olmert government. The leak of the information at the present time is believed to be linked to proposed closed congressional hearings at the end of this month in which the White House had planned to use several Israeli intelligence officers to provide evidence on the alleged Syrian nuclear program. It is now unlikely that Israeli intelligence officers will allow themselves to be questioned because they would almost certainly be asked about Israeli spying on the US.”
http://www.amconmag.com/blog/2008/04/23/israeli-spy-case-will-name-more-spies/

April 24th, 2008, 5:02 pm

 

Carl Rollins said:

Mr. Landis:

I disagree with the analysis that you presented in your post. As I said here a few months ago the “out of the blue” circumstances of Imad Mugniyah’s assassination led me to believe that Syria had offered him up and that a deal was in the works behind the scenes.
Far from being mere posturing, the Assad confirmation reported today is just that, confirmation.

Remember, there have been off and on serious talks going on between Israel and Syria that have been reported in the media for at least a year. Perhaps this was in the aftermath of the failed Lebanese war of two summer’s ago.

At any rate, viewed in this light the only aberration is Israel’s bombing of Syria’s “nuclear” facility. However, as the Washington Post reported today (“North Koreans Taped at Syrian Reactor”, http://www.washingtonpost.com/wpdyn/content/article/2008/04/23/AR2008042302906.html?hpid=topnews) the scope of this project has most likely been exaggerated.

A nuclear expert said in that article that, “The apparent lack of fuel, either imported or indigenously produced, also is curious and lowers confidence that Syria has a nuclear weapons program.” Your analysis makes sense on its face, however it is equally plausible that this videotape and the entire episode is a construct.

Although its value was greatly overplayed in the American media, the Israeli deal offered at Camp David in 2000 was torpedoed by the Israeli press at home before it ever had a chance. This bombing of Syria’s “nuclear” facility prevents a repeat of this. Olmert can say to the hawks, “you see, we bombed them into submission” instead of admitting that their policies have been wrong.

This story provides cover for Syria, as well. They look more formidable than they are, and they no longer have to account for the weapons that were probably really blown up. These were probably on their way to Hezbollah whom they will soon stop supporting.

Regardless, what is going on in the Middle East is subsumed in a lot of smoke and mirrors and misinformation. Anyone, taking these games at face value is not living in reality. You only see part of what is really going on until much later (see “Israelis Claim Secret Agreement with US,” http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/04/23/AR2008042303128.html).

April 24th, 2008, 5:27 pm

 

ugarit said:

🙂


Damning evidence of a nuclear reactor in Syria: “The video, which Mr. Hill has shown to senior South Korean officials, shows Korean faces among the workers at the Syrian plant.” Whenever you see “Korean faces” it always means the presence of a nuclear reactor. In fact, just last week, I saw a Korean face in my neighborhood. I approached the man and yelled: why are you bringing a nuclear reactor to my neighborhood here in California? He just ran away. Personally, I think this is all the evidence and pretext the US needs to invade Syria. And such an invasion would be a cakewalk, I think. If we put things in the hands of famous Syrian exile leader, Abu `Abduh Chalabi, he will be able to steer Syria toward democracy and freedom. I also think that such an invasion will create an exemplary model for all the region to emulate. To be sure, things may not go well, in the first 4 years of the invasion, but we can always implement a surge, even if we stay for a 100 years in Syria. But that is only me. ‘ — http://angryarab.blogspot.com/2008/04/damning-evidence-of-nuclear-reactor-in.html

April 24th, 2008, 5:46 pm

 

ugarit said:

Akbar Palace: “..GWB will be remembered as a leader who dared to confront this phenomenon instead of running away from it.”

Stop watching Fox News or American News for that matter and educate yourself. GWB will be remembered as a criminal. He’s far more violent than all Arab/Muslim “terrorism” put together.

April 24th, 2008, 5:53 pm

 

Rowan Berkeley said:

A US official, requesting anonymity, told AFP: “There are still photographs of the facility as part of the video, but it’s a video presentation, like a Powerpoint presentation. It’s not a video of the facility.”
http://afp.google.com/article/ALeqM5jGdSZilTIJnS5aZUbdkmgqkIJ5-A

April 24th, 2008, 6:05 pm

 

Qifa Nabki said:

Ausamaa,

Ok, you didn’t accuse me, so sorry I accused you for accusing me.

🙂

But, I don’t understand this statement:

To give Al Harriri and Siniora and their little Jaja the right to own lebanon? A civil war to “disarm” Hizbullah which even Israel failed to defeat? A war to create a Christian enclave to justify the Jewish enclave next door?

This is something I don’t get about the opposition. They make it seem like this whole standoff is about the majority’s desire to “own Lebanon”, and about its disloyalty to the resistance, and its being part of the US/Israel plan for the region.

But even if this were completely true (and I don’t believe it is, not completely) how is it acceptable to bring the government down by force? Can you convince me of this? There is a constitutional mechanism for expressing one’s dissatisfaction with the leadership. It’s called a vote of confidence. If you don’t have enough MP’s to bring down the government that way, then you have to wait until the next election, plain and simple.

This is the critical flaw in the opposition’s strategy. I find myself sympathizing with some of their stances, but at the end of the day what they are doing is fundamentally anti-state and anti-government. As Uqab Saqr said recently, there is a difference between sulta and dawla. In a democracy, when people have a problem with those who hold power, there are certain mechanisms to hold them accountable, through the state. These mechanisms are still weak in Lebanon, but they will ONLY ever be strengthened if the state itself is strengthened.

By laying siege to the government in this way, forcing the closure of the parliament, Aoun and Nasrallah are setting a dangerous precedent.

April 24th, 2008, 6:08 pm

 

Seeking the Truth said:

Akbar Palace said:

“Everyone here (including Professor Josh) said there was no way the Syrian facility housed a [North Korean] nuclear reactor.”

AP, don’t count me in.
As to a probability of Peace between Israel and Syria in the near future, I tend to believe that, simply the Syrian regime cannot/will not offer Israel what would be asked in return for the Golan. Sorry to say, nukes are more probable than peace in that troubled area of the world. But keep dreaming, it won’t hurt.

April 24th, 2008, 6:11 pm

 

Shai said:

Simo,

I think you’ve got it wrong in both cases.

In the first article you mentioned, in Haaretz, reference to small quantity of Plutonium already produced was not made about the Syrian facility, but rather about the one at Yongbyon – in the west-central part of North Korea.

In the second article you mentioned, in JP, reference to small quantity of Plutonium was indeed made to the Syrian facility, but did not say it was already produced, but rather “… showing that the destroyed reactor was designed to produce a small amount of plutonium…”

Read the articles carefully, neither one suggests that any Plutonium was produced in Syria.

April 24th, 2008, 6:16 pm

 

Shai said:

Seeking,

Here’s my take on all this… It doesn’t really matter whether there was or wasn’t a reactor. If there wasn’t, then Israel (with U.S. and Turkish permission) illegally entered Syrian airspace, and attacked an agricultural facility. Syria did not retaliate, and in fact is still calling upon Israel to formally resume peace talks. In essence, it “forgives” Israel for this mistake, and wants to move on. If there was a reactor, then Syria still seems to be “forgiving” of Israel, or it will use this card somehow in future negotiations (I certainly would). But more importantly, Israel is feeling more secure now, having destroyed it, but at the same time realizing that time is not on our favor. If Syria could have built such a reactor under everyone’s “nose”, then it may be able to do so again, as would other nations in the region, if they had the reason to do so. So if Israel wishes to remain the undisputed Nukeman champion of the region, it better hurry and make peace with its neighbors, so that they will not have a reason to develop their own…

I think the real “tests” that Syria will experience in the near future, will be how to handle the potential embarrassment caused by this so-called “hard evidence” shown to Congress, and maybe others around the world, and how to handle any internal pressure (within Syria) to retaliate against Israel, if indeed such an embarrassment will be felt. If not, hopefully, this thing will blow over rather quickly, peace negotiations will restart, and for the near future at least, things will be “ham’dila”. We’ll see what happens after that…

April 24th, 2008, 6:45 pm

 

Ford Prefect said:

What we are hearing today about peace initiatives, deals, and declarations are just part of a subtle message to the three active US presidential campaigns. The message goes like this:

“Dear Mr./Madam Future President: We, the Middle Easterner Arabs, Israelis, Muslims, Jews, Persians and everybody in between are looking for a way out of that huge mess that Bush has created in our region – partly due to his ineptness and colossally ignorant administration and partly due to his vice president’s wicked vision and evil war initiatives. This mess has and continues to create havoc not only here in the Middle East but almost everywhere else in the world. Now, We are ready for a change, are you?”

The campaigns are taking notes.

April 24th, 2008, 6:50 pm

 

Shai said:

FP,

Hear, hear!

April 24th, 2008, 6:57 pm

 

Qifa Nabki said:

More evidence of Bushian ineptness, this time attested to by Congress itself. (By the way, Silvestre Reyes, who is the House Intelligence Committee chairman, was the famous congressman who didn’t know that al-Qaeda is Sunni and Hizbullah is Shi`i. Forget about asking him what the difference between the two is.)

“Hoekstra and Intelligence Committee Chairman Silvestre Reyes, D-Texas, told reporters after the closed meeting that they were angry that the Bush administration had delayed briefing the full committee for eight months.

“It’s bad management and terrible public policy to go for eight months knowing this was out there and then drop this in our laps six hours before they go to the public,” Hoekstra said.

President Bush’s failure to keep Congress informed has created friction that may imperil congressional support for Bush’s policies toward North Korea and Syria, he said.

“It totally breaks down any trust that you have between the administration and Congress,” Hoekstra said. “I think it really jeopardizes any type of the agreement they may come up with” regarding North Korea.”

April 24th, 2008, 7:05 pm

 

Shai said:

QN,

The Bush Era is over. Whether Cheney is leaking last-minute rumors to try to influence his President’s “softness” towards N. Korea, or whether the CIA is trying to prepare the next administration for dealing with the Middle East, it doesn’t matter anymore. A new President, with a new administration, will undoubtedly adopt a different policy vis-a-vis Syria, Israel, Iran, and the entire region. He (or she) will not do so because of some hotshot advisor, but rather because all of America has seen the utter failure the 8-year Bush administration has achieved. And no one, not even McCain, wants to repeat this again.

Indeed as FP suggested above, let us all call out to the three potential leaders, “We are ready for a change! It is long overdue!”

April 24th, 2008, 7:27 pm

 

Qifa Nabki said:

Shai,

I agree.

Which is why I propose that we hold our Syria Comment mini-conference at the White House inauguration, in January of 2009.

I’m sure FP can score us all some tickets.

😉

April 24th, 2008, 7:33 pm

 

offended said:

Shai,
We keep repeating that 70 % of Israeli public is against returning the Golan in exchange for peace. But I never knew why is it this way? I mean, what are their reasons (or the most prevailing reasons) for not believing in returning the Golan back?

Is it (using Alex’s favorite numeric listing):
1- Fear that it’s going to go for nothing in return. (lack of trust in Syria’s ability or willingness to maintain peace)
2- Syria is too weak to be regarded as an equivalent negotiator.
3- Current settlers of Golan, their friends and their next of kin are loving it over there and wouldn’t like to move.
4- The AIGs (I really hope they’re the minority): think that peace treaty should only be signed with a ‘democratic’ Syria to their liking.
5- Extremists who do not believe in peace.

Any other categories/reasons you can think of?

And btw, president Bashar Al Assad today said (speaking to a Qatari newspaper), that it’s going to be up to the Syrian people (in a national referendum) to approve any peace deal.

April 24th, 2008, 7:35 pm

 

wizart said:

What is evil?

The briefest definition of evil is that it is “militant ignorance.”

The gift of appropriate guilt is precisely what keeps our sins from getting out of hand. Unfortunately, politicians today are not likely to be elected based on their personal characteristics.

What happens when a leader is incapable to admit to past mistakes or to feel any regrets or remorse over them?

Isn’t Democracy about having a system of checks and balances?

Who’s checking and balancing the American super power today?

The silence is deafening on that front.

April 24th, 2008, 7:37 pm

 

Shai said:

QN,

How do you know FP is not going to be the next President? I’d certainly be willing to sit on his advisory board, wouldn’t you?

April 24th, 2008, 7:37 pm

 

SimoHurtta said:


Simo,

I think you’ve got it wrong in both cases.

In the first article you mentioned, in Haaretz, reference to small quantity of Plutonium already produced was not made about the Syrian facility, but rather about the one at Yongbyon – in the west-central part of North Korea.

In the second article you mentioned, in JP, reference to small quantity of Plutonium was indeed made to the Syrian facility, but did not say it was already produced, but rather “… showing that the destroyed reactor was designed to produce a small amount of plutonium…”

Read the articles carefully, neither one suggests that any Plutonium was produced in Syria.

Shai I read very carefully the both stories. There was not mentioned about small amount of plutonium was from the N. Korean reactor. Isn’t it clear to everybody that the North Korean reactor was producing plutonium. So why on earth even to bother to mention it.

During the day both stories have changed several times.

The Haaretz story has been updated several times during the day. The last version now is dated 21:52 24/04/2008. Same with JP story, updated Apr 24, 2008 21:32.

In the first Haaretz versions was
“That reactor has in the past produced a small amount of plutonium, which can be a component in nuclear weapons.”

Now it is
“The Syrian reactor was similar in design to a North Korean reactor that has in the past produced small amounts of plutonium, a U.S. official told foreign media, speaking on condition of anonymity because of the sensitive nature of the information.”

The present JP version tells:

Rep. Gary Ackerman, a Democrat and chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Middle East subcommittee, accused the Bush administration of selectively leaking the classified information, which he called “bizarre behavior.”

While reporters without security clearances were selectively given information “most of us got no information whatsoever,” Ackerman said as he opened a separate hearing on US policy toward Syria.

WP mentions: “The White House and the CIA declined to comment on the briefings.” A rational person would ask WHY?

Also the completely hilarious “neutral” ISIS guys are back in picture.

Shai one advice in following Israeli and US propaganda reporting. They change their stories depending how they are received in the media and internet. The first attempt to spread rumours and very lightweight “evidence” is followed to a new attempt to make the story a little more believable.

Sadly I did not blockquote those original first versions, because I do not favour coping long stories to the comments when a link to the original story is more “readable”.

By the way Shai don’t you IGs still claim that OSIRAK was something else than a halve ready small research reactor. 🙂

April 24th, 2008, 7:47 pm

 

Shai said:

Offended,

Excellent question. The main reasons for those 20%-30% of Israelis who were once for peace with Syria (during Rabin’s time), and for returning the Golan, and have since become against it are:

1. The utter failure on the Israeli-Palestinian track has brought much frustration, emotional exhaustion, and great pessimism to most.

2. Growing capabilities of Hamas and HA have always been closely linked to Syria. Most Israelis cannot understand how Syria can opt for peace, while supporting the resistance.

3. Syria-Iran military (not political) alliance, especially given Ahmedinejad’s belligerent stance and vocal declarations towards Israel, is seen as a real threat to most Israelis. They don’t know what Syria can and will do in case Israel ever has to face Iran in violent confrontation.

4. An irrational fear of Syria, once receiving the entire Golan back, one day doing a “surprise attack” like it did in 1973. Given our advanced technological capabilities, and the type of demilitarization agreements that will likely be made, this fear is based purely on emotion and bad memories, not on rational thinking.

These are the main reasons, though of course there are other lesser-ones, when you consider some of the other points you mentioned above. Personally, I believe that two things must be done when the battle for public opinion will begin in Israel. First, Syria must be depicted differently by Israeli leaders, and by world leaders (especially the U.S.) as well. Second, Israelis must be told and convinced that the only guarantee for their security is peace, not the dismantling of any alliance with this party or another. My own opinion is that Syria must remain an ally of Iran (politically), not only from Syria’s point of view, but also from Israel’s. If Iran ever did go nuclear, what would I rather have, an ally (Syria) that is also an ally of Iran, or its enemy? Same goes for Hamas and Hezbollah. I agree with Alex, when peace will exist between Israel and Syria (and when Israel will withdraw from the West Bank and Palestine will finally be formed), then HA and Hamas, and possibly even Iran, will be morphed into more moderate parties, and will step down from their military objectives.

But the battle for public opinion in Israel will not be easy. Still, many of us are ready to put on our uniform once more, and this time, fight for peace!

April 24th, 2008, 8:00 pm

 

Qifa Nabki said:

Shai,

I would be willing to sit on FP’s advisory board, if he gives me a place in his cabinet. (I’m Lebanese… we are horse traders by nature).

FP, you can count on my full-throated support, as long as you give me a nice ministerial portfolio, preferably Minister of Propaganda, I mean Information.

(You’ll also have to create this ministry for me, by the way).

Vote FP!

April 24th, 2008, 8:01 pm

 

Shai said:

Simo,

I only saw the latest version, so that’s what I related to. In those two articles (in this latest version), there is no reference to plutonium having been produced by Syria, only by N. Korea.

To be honest with you, I don’t really care what the media says about whether there was a reactor, or not, whether it produced Plutonium, or was supposed to produce Plutonium. I think this whole charade is like talking about why some company’s shares dropped 90% a year ago, and trying to speculate about the reasons behind it, but for the sheer exercise, since the company has since gone bankrupt. It’s good for the news, it sells, but it’s completely irrelevant to the future.

Since both Bashar and now Olmert seem to be ready to talk, what good is this “leak” serving? I hope the Olmert “leak” was timed to try to offset some of this damage. It’s like the Kadish-episode. Who cares? Does it get us ahead somehow? So what if Syria tried to (supposedly) build nuclear weapons? Israel’s safest assumption, as long as there’s no peace in the ME, should be “What reason on earth do nations in the region have for NOT acquiring nuclear technology and weaponry?” That’s a better way to look at reality, not to pretend that only we have certain rights, and others do not.

About Osirak, I thought it was a “Baby Milk Factory”, wasn’t it? 😉

And I guess you’re not giving me “advice” on Arabic propaganda reporting, because you know I don’t read Arabic, right? 😉 🙂

April 24th, 2008, 8:13 pm

 

SimoHurtta said:

About Osirak, I thought it was a “Baby Milk Factory”, wasn’t it? 😉

Well I know Shai you Israelis like to bomb sites related to produce milk, like in that big dairy farm in Lebanon in 2006. And make legendary hero tales of those “brave” attacks. (I would put a smile mark here if the milk joke would be “funny”)

By the way why did Israel bomb that Lebanese diary. So that “Hizbollah children” can not get milk products? Or because of the fear that Hizbollah could use spoiled milk as a biological weapon and use its smell to drive the overweighted Israeli reservists screaming of fear back to the “home land”. Or was that story true that Israeli business men were angry to Lebanese because Lebanese had won to milk product delivery contract to UN troops, so Israel made a targeted “business” bombing to help Israeli milk producing industry. Or for pure fun?

And I guess you’re not giving me “advice” on Arabic propaganda reporting, because you know I don’t read Arabic, right? 😉 🙂

I suppose our Syrian and Lebanese friends give enough advice about how to read the Arab propaganda. Though I must say Arabs seem to make nowadays better quality propaganda as Israelis or Bush’s boys.
🙂

April 24th, 2008, 8:51 pm

 

Shai said:

Simo,

I’m so tired right now, that I’ll go with anything you say… (no emoticon, but still funny). I don’t know why Israel bombed a Lebanese Dairy factory in 2006. My guess is, it was a mistake. I can’t imagine an Israeli general in Army HQ saying to his subordinates “Milk! Milk! You gotta bomb that damn Milk factory!”

April 24th, 2008, 8:53 pm

 

Majhool said:

Israeli PM Sets Off Politicial Storm After Reportedly Offering Golan to Syria
By Robert Berger
Jerusalem
24 April 2008

There is outrage in Israel after Syria’s leader claimed that he received a major territorial concession from the Jewish state. Robert Berger reports from the VOA bureau in Jerusalem.

Israeli army officers look towards Syria from the Mount Bental observation post in the Golan Heights (file photo)
Reports that Prime Minister Ehud Olmert has offered to return the strategic Golan Heights to Syria have set off a political storm in Israel. Syrian President Bashar al-Assad told an Arab newspaper that Mr. Olmert sent messages saying that Israel would trade the Golan for full peace with Syria. Israel captured the territory from Syria during the Six Day War in 1967 and annexed it in 1981.

The prime minister’s office would not confirm the offer, though Mr. Olmert said last week that he has sent messages to Syria expressing interest in resuming peace talks. He also said that everyone knows the price of peace, a clear reference to returning the Golan to Syrian control.

Zalman Shoval is a former Israeli ambassador to Washington and member of the hawkish opposition Likud party. He says offering the strategic high ground is a catastrophic mistake.

“It’s certainly not advancing the chances of peace; actually it’s advancing the risk of a future military threat from Syria if indeed we were to give up the Golan,” he said.

Shoval says making peace gestures to Syria harms the global war on terror.

“Syria is continuing to support terrorism, terrorism against Israel, terrorism against the United States in Iraq. Syria is continuing to support the Hizbollah which is a major terrorist element,” he said.

Mr. Olmert believes that peace talks would lure Syria away from its alliance with Iran and radical Islamic groups like Hezbollah in Lebanon and Hamas in the Gaza Strip. And that would contribute to regional moderation and stability. But Shoval says that is nonsense.

“Syria has absolutely no intention to break its relationship with Iran. Iran is its main supporter, its life insurance I would say. And without Iran, and Hezbollah which is an Iranian creature, Syria cannot go on maintaining its position in Lebanon. And Lebanon is much more important to the Syrians than the Golan,” he said.

Ironically, Prime Minister Olmert is spending the weeklong Passover holiday vacationing on the Golan Heights.

April 24th, 2008, 10:44 pm

 

Qifa Nabki said:

“It’s certainly not advancing the chances of peace; actually it’s advancing the risk of a future military threat from Syria if indeed we were to give up the Golan,” he said.

Given that Israel could overrun all of Syria easily with its military, how credible is this argument?

April 24th, 2008, 10:52 pm

 

T said:

So what is this all about and why is NO ONE mentioning it?

Let me guess. Saddam and Bashar Assad moved those WMDs and/or the North Korean plutonium (or is it uranium/strontium??) to the south of Lebanon, so IDF had to bomb again.
(with aerial photographic proof soon to be released, of course.)

IAF Attacks Lebanese Targets; No Injuries Reported

20 Nissan 5768, 25 April 08 01:49by (IsraelNN.com) Arab media have reported that IDF jets attacked several targets in southern Lebanon Wednesday, including the cities of Nebatiyeh, Tyre and the western Bekaa Valley. Lebanese anti-aircraft positions fired Israeli aircraft, but all IDF servicemen are believed to have returned safely to Israel.

The IDF will not comment on the incident.

April 24th, 2008, 11:03 pm

 

Nour said:

QN,

Your argument about democratic and consitutional mechanisms in Lebanon is flawed, because it assumes that in Lebanon there exists a state in the true meaning of the word. We all know that in Lebanon there is not a real state, with real institutions, but rather a conglomeration of sectarian/tribal chieftains. As such, the institutions in the state are not constant, but rather take the form and policy of whatever political forces (read sectarian/tribal forces) control it. Lebanon therefore remains a place where the different sects and tribes are constantly struggling for who gets what share of what pie.

Today, certain tribal and sectarian leaders and representatives have agreed to pursue a particular internal policy that is in line with the US plans for the region. On the other hand, an opposite force, led by Hizballah and the resistance, but supported by many groups who are traditional backers of resistance against occupiers, is trying to put a stop to the possible success of such a policy. Those who are claiming to represent the “majority” today are deliberately planning to control all security branches and are insistent on dismantling the resistance, which is exactly what the US wishes for the entire region.

It is not a coincidence that the US is so vehemently backing the “Sanioura government”. And it is not a coincidence that Condaleeza Rice stated that she is more concerned about keeping the “Sanioura government” in power, than she is about electing a new president or conducting parliamentary elections under a new law. What’s the secret? Is it that Sanioura is such a close friend of Bush that it would break Bush’s heart to see him go? Or is it that the US knows that the “Sanioura government” will do their bidding and obey their orders in Lebanon?

Hizballah understands what is going on, and the opposition knows that this struggle is not merely one where people were simply unhappy with the government and overreacted in trying to bring about a change. Rather it is a fundamental struggle between two diverging visions of Lebanon. This is why the political battle has become so heated, and this is why the opposition has refused to back down.

April 24th, 2008, 11:16 pm

 

Qifa Nabki said:

Nour,

You haven’t addressed my question. You’ve simply said what the opposition says about itself, which also doesn’t address my question.

I agree that Lebanon is far from being a state with a strong central authority. That is obvious. However, it is not a “mere conglomeration of sectarian/tribal chieftains.” To believe this is basically to believe that there is no difference between the Lebanon of today and the Ottoman Lebanon of the 18th century, which is irrational and plainly wrong.

Nour, Lebanese democracy has its flaws, but it is a democracy nonetheless. How else do you explain Amin Gemayel’s electoral loss in the Metn, running for the seat vacated by his assassinated son? How is that even conceivable in a tribal conglomeration? How else do you explain the disputes within the FPM, whose internal elections revolve around very substantive policy issues? How else do you explain the fact that after the 2005 election Saniora commissioned a group of experts (university professors, politicians, lawyers, and constitutional scholars) to spend nine months working together in a room, five days a week, drafting a sophisticated electoral law?

We could spend hours talking about all the ways in which Lebanese democracy is not perfect. But at the end of the day, it is a democracy. And this fact alone means that all of the other arguments you cite are quite irrelevant. In a democracy, it doesn’t matter if political battles are about the price of potatoes or about “two diverging visions of Lebanon.” The battles must be fought within the parliament, and this means compromise, and sometimes, short-term winners and short-term losers. That’s the whole point.

In the same way that the thought of the U.S. supporting Saniora is so repugnant to many Lebanese, the thought of Iran supporting Hizbullah is equally repugnant to many others. To the latter, they would rather be part of the US plan for the region (whatever that means) than Iran’s plan for the region (whatever that means). You are free to disagree with them!! But if they hold a parliamentary majority, you’re out of luck until the next election cycle.

That’s democracy.

If the crisis is somehow solved before 2009, and March 14 loses many seats in that election, do you think I’d support a walk-out because of my opposition to “Iran’s plan for the region”? Absolutely not. If Aoun and Hizbullah can win more seats, ahla w sahla. I welcome it, because I believe that competition of this kind will necessarily net higher returns for voters, in the way of social services and real reforms.

So, for this reason, I completely reject their current strategy. But I’d like to hear your thoughts.

April 25th, 2008, 12:35 am

 

abraham said:

What’s the Hebrew word for “bullshit”?

April 25th, 2008, 1:12 am

 

Nour said:

QN,

You are giving quite a rosy (and distorted) image of Lebanese politics. Lebanon is run by sects and tribes, plain and simple. You take the elections for example. How do you think the people vote? Do you really believe that the religious Sunnis in Tripoli are in anyway impressed by Naila Moawad? Do you really believe that those same Shiites that support Hizballah, have any positive view of Jumblatt? Both answers are no. So why did they vote for them? Because they were on the same lists as their sectarian/tribal leaders and they do what their sectarian/tribal leaders tell them to do. This is not conscious democracy.

The examples you gave of elections are individual samples that are isolated from the trend in the entire country. Internal elections within FPM really have no bearing on the country as a whole. There are internal elections within many parties in Syria and they all revolve around crucial policy goals and views, but this does not mean that the country as a whole is democratic. Likewise in Lebanon.

Moreover, elections themselves contain all sorts of inappropriate activities and behavior, including bribes, intimidation, religious fatwas, etc. People in Lebanon do not vote for a particular plan or agenda. In fact, I have never seen an election were the candidates were actually running on a platform. Rather, the people vote based on their sectarian/tribal loyalties. Or they vote because some candidate paid them money, gave them free olive oil, fixed their phone line, paved the road passing through their neighborhood, etc. The Lebanese system is sectarian/tribal to the core and nothing will change it unless it is uprooted from its base. There is no loyalty to a state, and no one can really identify with the “state” of Lebanon, as it doesn’t really exist. Let’s not forget also that each “sectarian” region is controlled more by its sectarian chieftain than it is by the “state” of Lebanon.

To give you an anectodal example. I know a person from Jumblatt’s region who had a project in mind for building a hospital. When Jumblatt heard of the project, he intervened and refused to allow him to proceed with his plans unless Jumblatt is awarded a sizable percentage. Given that Jumblatt’s demand would not make the project feasible, it was scrapped. Well, tell me this. Where is the state? Why couldn’t this person complain to whatever state institution in Lebanon and have that institution solve his problem? Why couldn’t the state step in and prevent Jumblatt from extorting people living in his region? If there is a true democratic state in Lebanon, Jumblatt should not be allowed to do what he actually does. And of course Jumblatt is one example, he is by no means the only sectarian/tribal chieftain to engage in such behavior.

Now, to the issue at hand, the institutions within the “state” of Lebanon always take the shape and form of whatever chieftain happens to control it. It is not constant. In an advanced state, you find that state institutions remain constant regardless of who is heading the government at the time. There may be slight differences in policy between one government and the next, but the entire outlook of a given institution does not simply morph into something else.

Today, the current government is controlled by a group that wants to enforce US commands and eliminate the resistance in Lebanon. It wants to take decisions legitimizing foreign intervention to isolate, weaken, and eventually dismantle the national resistance. Given that many people see this as an issue of life or death, they are not going to idly stand by and hope for the best next elections. To many people, the Resistance is the true army of Lebanon, and it is the one institution that can actually protect Lebanon and defend its land. All this of course goes back to the lack of a true state in the country.

To give a hypothetical, would it be possible for a given government in one of the advanced countries to decide that it wants to dismantle the Army? I know that you would answer the hypothetical by saying that the Army is a state institution and thus a government cannot simply eliminate state institution. That is true. But in Lebanon, because there has always been a lack of political will to build a strong army capable of portecting the country, a resistance arose that took on that role. The people that saw their lands liberated and defended by this Resistance cannot possibly accept that one government can come by and just decide to eliminate the best means of defending the country.

Finally, with respect to governments stepping down, this is actually a common occurrence in many democracies. When the people become so opposed to a government that they themselves elected, they may express such opposition through demonstrations, sit-ins, acts of civil disobedience, etc. and those governments may very well step down and make way for new elections as they see that their policies are not popular with the public. De Gaulles for example, did exactly that. Sanioura, on the other hand, when he was faced with 1.5 million demonstrators demanding that he step down responded “I am staying, staying, staying.” Then he proceeded to write an article praising the Saudi King :-P.

April 25th, 2008, 1:26 am

 

T said:

Bondo,

See the following Israeli spy anthology (partial excerpt only).

1992 The Wall Street Journal reports that Israeli agents apparently tried to steal Recon Optical Inc’s top-secret airborne spy-camera system.

1992 Stephen Bryen, caught offering confidential documents to Israel in 1978, is serving on board of the pro-Israeli Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs while continuing as a paid consultant — with security clearance — on exports of sensitive US technology.

1992 “The Samson Option,” by Seymour M. Hersh reports, “Illicitly obtained intelligence was flying so voluminously from LAKAM into Israeli intelligence that a special code name, JUMBO, was added to the security markings already on the documents. There were strict orders, Ari Ben-Menashe recalled: “Anything marked JUMBO was not supposed to be discussed with your American counterparts.”

1993. The ADL is caught operating a massive spying operation on critics of Israel, Arab-Americans, the San Francisco Labor Council, ILWU Local 10, Oakland Educational Association, NAACP, Irish Northern Aid, International Indian Treaty Council, the Asian Law Caucus and the San Francisco police. Data collected was sent to Israel and in some cases to South Africa. Pressure from Jewish organizations forces the city to drop the criminal case, but the ADL settles a civil lawsuit for an undisclosed sum of cash.

1995 The Defense Investigative Service circulates a memo warning US military contractors that “Israel aggressively collects [US] military and industrial technology.” The report stated that Israel obtains information using “ethnic targeting, financial aggrandizement, and identification and exploitation of individual frailties” of US citizens.

1996 A General Accounting Office report “Defense Industrial Security: Weaknesses in US Security Arrangements With Foreign-Owned Defense Contractors” found that according to intelligence sources “Country A” (identified by intelligence sources as Israel, Washington Times, 2/22/96) “conducts the most aggressive espionage operation against the United States of any US ally.” The Jerusalem Post (8/30/96) quoted the report, “Classified military information and sensitive military technologies are high-priority targets for the intelligence agencies of this country.” The report described “An espionage operation run by the intelligence organization responsible for collecting scientific and technologic information for [Israel] paid a US government employee to obtain US classified military intelligence documents.” The Washington Report on Middle East Affairs (Shawn L. Twing, April 1996) noted that this was “a reference to the 1985 arrest of Jonathan Pollard, a civilian US naval intelligence analyst who provided Israel’s LAKAM [Office of Special Tasks] espionage agency an estimated 800,000 pages of classified US intelligence information.”

The GAO report also noted that “Several citizens of [Israel] were caught in the United States stealing sensitive technology used in manufacturing artillery gun tubes.”

1996 An Office of Naval Intelligence document, “Worldwide Challenges to Naval Strike Warfare” reported that “US technology has been acquired [by China] through Israel in the form of the Lavi fighter and possibly SAM [surface-to-air] missile technology.” Jane’s Defense Weekly (2/28/96) noted that “until now, the intelligence community has not openly confirmed the transfer of US technology [via Israel] to China.” The report noted that this “represents a dramatic step forward for Chinese military aviation.” (Flight International, 3/13/96)

1997 An Army mechanical engineer, David A. Tenenbaum, “inadvertently” gives classified military information on missile systems and armored vehicles to Israeli officials (New York Times, 2/20/97).

1997 The Washington Post reports US intelligence has intercepted a conversation in which two Israeli officials had discussed the possibility of getting a confidential letter that then-Secretary of State Warren Christopher had written to Palestinian leader Yasir Arafat. One of the Israelis, identified only as “Dov”, had commented that they may get the letter from “Mega”, the code name for Israel’s top agent inside the United States.

1997 US ambassador to Israel, Martin Indyk, complains privately to the Israeli government about heavy-handed surveillance by Israeli intelligence agents.

1997 Israeli agents place a tap on Monica Lewinsky’s phone at the Watergate and record phone sex sessions between her and President Bill Clinton. The Ken Starr report confirms that Clinton warned Lewinsky their conversations were being taped and ended the affair. At the same time, the FBI’s hunt for “Mega” is called off.

2001 It is discovered that US drug agents’ communications have been penetrated. Suspicion falls on two companies, AMDOCS and Comverse Infosys, both owned by Israelis. AMDOCS generates billing data for most US phone companies and is able to provide detailed logs of who is talking to whom. Comverse Infosys builds the tapping equipment used by law enforcement to eavesdrop on all American telephone calls, but suspicion forms that Comverse, which gets half of its research and development budget from the Israeli government, has built a back door into the system that is being exploited by Israeli intelligence and that the information gleaned on US drug interdiction efforts is finding its way to drug smugglers. The investigation by the FBI leads to the exposure of the largest foreign spy ring ever uncovered inside the United States, operated by Israel. Half of the suspected spies have been arrested when 9-11 happens. On 9-11, 5 Israelis are arrested for dancing and cheering while the World Trade Towers collapse. Supposedly employed by Urban Moving Systems, the Israelis are caught with multiple passports and a lot of cash. Two of them are later revealed to be Mossad. As witness reports track the activity of the Israelis, it emerges that they were seen at Liberty Park at the time of the first impact, suggesting a foreknowledge of what was to come. The Israelis are interrogated, and then eventually sent back to Israel. The owner of the moving company used as a cover by the Mossad agents abandons his business and flees to Israel. The United States Government then classifies all of the evidence related to the Israeli agents and their connections to 9-11. All of this is reported to the public via a four part story on Fox News by Carl Cameron. Pressure from Jewish groups, primarily AIPAC, forces Fox News to remove the story from their website. Two hours prior to the 9-11 attacks, Odigo, an Israeli company with offices just a few blocks from the World Trade Towers, receives an advance warning via the internet. The manager of the New York Office provides the FBI with the IP address of the sender of the message, but the FBI does not follow up.

2001 The FBI is investigating 5 Israeli moving companies as possible fronts for Israeli intelligence.

2001 JDL’s Irv Rubin arrested for planning to bomb a US Congressman. He dies before he can be brought to trial.

2002 The DEA issues a report that Israeli spies, posing as art students, have been trying to penetrate US Government offices.

2002 police near the Whidbey Island Naval Air Station in southern Washington State stop a suspicious truck and detain two Israelis, one of whom is illegally in the United States. The two men were driving at high speed in a Ryder rental truck, which they claimed had been used to “deliver furniture.” The next day, police discovered traces of TNT and RDX military-grade plastic explosives inside the passenger cabin and on the steering wheel of the vehicle. The FBI then announces that the tests that showed explosives were “false positived” by cigarette smoke, a claim test experts say is ridiculous. Based on an alibi provided by a woman, the case is closed and the Israelis are handed over to INS to be sent back to Israel. One week later, the woman who provided the alibi vanishes.

2003 The Police Chief of Cloudcroft stops a truck speeding through a school zone. The drivers turn out to be Israelis with expired passports. Claiming to be movers, the truck contains junk furniture and several boxes. The Israelis are handed over to immigration. The contents of the boxers are not revealed to the public.

2003 Israel deploys assassination squads into other countries, including the United States. The US Government does not protest.

2004 Police near the Nuclear Fuel Services plant in Tennessee stop a truck after a three mile chase, during which the driver throws a bottle containing a strange liquid from the cab. The drivers turn out to be Israelis using fake Ids. The FBI refuses to investigate and the Israelis are released.

2004 Two Israelis try to enter Kings Bay Naval Submarine Base, home to eight Trident submarines. The truck tests positive for explosives.

2004 The AIPAC spy scandal. For the first time, the conduit from Israel through AIPAC into the Pentagon Office of Special Projects, from which most of the lies that led to the war in Iraq emerged, is revealed to the general public. Although the investigation into AIPAC spyring was known inside the government going back to 2002, US Congressmen and Presidential candidates continue to accept money from AIPAC in exchange for supporting Israel.

April 25th, 2008, 1:33 am

 

Qifa Nabki said:

Nour,

Look, I agree with 90% of what you are saying. The system is so screwed up in Lebanon. There is so much corruption, and the sick thing is that so much of it is institutionally sanctioned! Take, for example, the parliamentary pensions. In Lebanon, if you serve one term in parliament, you receive a life-long pension that is equivalent to something like 40% of your salary. And if you serve two or more terms, you receive a pension equivalent to 80% of your salary. This would be appalling enough, before even taking into account the fact that MP’s are paid ridiculously high salaries, not to mention all the ways in which they parlay their positions into lucrative corrupt business deals like the one you mentioned about Jumblatt.

I’m with you! We need to change the system. But we can’t do it like this! The current strategy of the opposition is doing the exact opposite of what you are arguing for. You can’t say that the problem is tribalism and a weak state, and that the solution is more tribalism and a weaker state.

Today, the current government is controlled by a group that wants to enforce US commands and eliminate the resistance in Lebanon. It wants to take decisions legitimizing foreign intervention to isolate, weaken, and eventually dismantle the national resistance.

Nour, for many people, Hizbullah’s role as a “national resistance” ended with the Israeli withdrawl. It’s not just America’s decision to “eliminate the resistance.” Many Lebanese do not want a powerful militia that answers to nobody and can only be influenced by outside powers. Since you are extremely alert to the problematic relationship of foreign powers with local actors in Lebanon, can’t you concede to me that this is no less operative in the case of Hizbullah’s weapons, given that Israel has withdrawn?

I believe that the resistance should be incorporated into the Lebanese army, to serve as a deterrent against Israeli aggressions. This would fulfill the requirement of protecting the land, and also go a long way towards starting to build confidence in the state.

Hizbullah has a major role to play in helping the country transition away from tribalism towards a strong central authority. I sincerely believe this, and I am weirdly optimistic about Lebanon’s future, precisely because of the ways in which people like Aoun and Nasrallah can hold the crooks to account. But they are digging us further into the grave of tribalism with these tactics.

April 25th, 2008, 1:53 am

 

Qifa Nabki said:

What I’m saying, ya Nour, is that I’m tired of hearing people say glowing things about one side and spit on the other side.

If we are going to change the system, everybody has to start giving up their mini-states. This means Jumblatt and Hariri, but it also means Hizbullah.

I guess I’d like to hear more people be more critical.

April 25th, 2008, 2:00 am

 

norman said:

Making a big deal of something happened last year indicate that the US and Israel are preparing the American public for war this summer , we all know that they had this evidence if true last year , so why now , a war will change the dynamics of the election,

Any thoughts from anybody ?.

April 25th, 2008, 2:37 am

 

Rowan Berkeley said:

Kol Israel has got hold of a piece of audio which purports to be the soundtrack from the CIA briefing, a voice going “the holes in this picture correspond to the holes in the Yongbyon reactor face,” or some such. Haaretz is claiming there was a CIA press release, but there wasn’t.

April 25th, 2008, 3:33 am

 

Rowan Berkeley said:

“The video, made public last night after Congress had been briefed, is a collection of material from various sources, in addition to Israeli intelligence. There is no tape from inside the alleged reactor, only two still photographs, apparently taken by a human hand on the ground rather than a drone or satellite. This was supported by satellite pictures and graphs. The pictures taken on the ground show an apparently empty brown-grey, solid building, but nothing that seems to indicate it is being used for nuclear purposes.”
http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2008/apr/25/usa.nuclear

April 25th, 2008, 4:03 am

 
 

Shai said:

Norman,

The timing for this is quite likely a last minute attempt to reverse Bush’s perceived “softness” towards N. Korea. I don’t think it has as much to do with Syria now, as it does with N. Korea.

April 25th, 2008, 5:00 am

 

Shual said:

“Only two still photographs”

There are NO photographs in the video and the shown graphics are from different times. Second one before the pressure vessel was finished and the first one with the fuel channels. If the graphics are based on photos, Mr. Spy visited the site two or several times. But the first checks of the two graphics are not really compelling: Both graphics show a window that can be used to check the proportions of the room. And the room with the fuel channels is much bigger than the room with the vessel.

Has anybody read the famous book “The Syrian art of making rooms bigger and enlarge the diameter of a 15t orsomething steel and grafite-vessels”?

April 25th, 2008, 6:08 am

 

SOL said:

Thanks Bondo for that fascinating Israeli spy anthology list. Very interesting.
Here is another list (partial excerpt only).

Two of the world’s most widely used FDA-approved multiple-sclerosis drugs, Copaxone and Rebif, were developed from research carried out at Weizman Institute of Science.

Scientists at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev developed a biological control for mosquitoes and black flies that cause malaria and river blindness, saving the sight and lives of millions of people in Africa and China.

A team of Jewish and Arab Israeli genetic researchers from Ben-Gurion University and Soroka Medical Center has identified a genetic defect that causes a severe neurodegenerative disease in Bedouin children, resulting in premature death.

Scientists at Hebrew University of Jerusalem have developed the FDA-approved drug Exelon for the treatment of Alzheimer’s disease and dementia, and are now working on a new anti-Alzheimer’s drug also suitable for treating strokes and traumatic brain injuries.

Velcade, an effective new cancer drug that treats multiple myeloma, is based on research by two Technion-Israel Institute of Technology professors. The pair won the 2004 Nobel Prize for Chemistry for their groundbreaking work.

Scientists at Tel Aviv University developed BioPetroClean, a safe environmentally-friendly technology for cleaning oil spills in seas around the globe.

Research by a professor at the Weizmann Institute has led to the development of promising new therapies for acute spinal cord injuries. The late actor Christopher Reeve described Israel as the ‘world-center’ for research on paralysis treatment. Proneuron Biotechnologies, the company founded to commercialize this research is also developing a therapy for Parkinson’s with support from the Michael J. Fox Foundation.

Israeli scientists developed the first fully computerized, no-radiation, diagnostic instrumentationfor breast cancer.

A team from the Weizmann Institute has demonstrated for the first time how tissues transplanted from pig embryos might, in the future, be able to induce the human body to produce blood-clotting proteins for hemophilia patients.

An Israeli scientific team from the Technion has succeeded in creating in the laboratory beating heart tissue from human embryonic stem cells.

A researcher at Ben Gurion University has succeeded in creating human monoclonal antibodies which can neutralize the highly contagious small-pox virus without inducing the dangerous side effects of the existing vaccine.

The Pentium NMX Chip was designed at Intel in Israel. Both the Pentium 4 microprocessor and the Centrum processor were designed, developed and produced in Israel, as was voice mail.

The technology for the AOL Instant Messenger ICQ was developed in 1996 by four young Israelis.

Most of Windows operating systems was developed by Microsoft-Israel, as was voice mail technology.

Both Microsoft and Cisco built their only R&D facilities outside the US in Israel, attracted by the high quality of engineers.

Cell phone technology was also developed in Israel by Motorola, which has its biggest development center in Israel.

Israel is the only country in the world that entered the 21st century with a net gain in its number of trees!

April 25th, 2008, 6:12 am

 

Honest Patriot said:

Nour,

Just out of curiosity, are you as critical of the Syrian system as you are of the Lebanese system ?

April 25th, 2008, 6:16 am

 

Sol said:

Thanks T for that fascinating Israeli spy anthology list. Very interesting.

Here is another list (partial excerpt only).

Two of the world’s most widely used FDA-approved multiple-sclerosis drugs, Copaxone and Rebif, were developed from research carried out at Weizman Institute of Science.

Scientists at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev developed a biological control for mosquitoes and black flies that cause malaria and river blindness, saving the sight and lives of millions of people in Africa and China.

A team of Jewish and Arab Israeli genetic researchers from Ben-Gurion University and Soroka Medical Center has identified a genetic defect that causes a severe neurodegenerative disease in Bedouin children, resulting in premature death.

Scientists at Hebrew University of Jerusalem have developed the FDA-approved drug Exelon for the treatment of Alzheimer’s disease and dementia, and are now working on a new anti-Alzheimer’s drug also suitable for treating strokes and traumatic brain injuries.

Velcade, an effective new cancer drug that treats multiple myeloma, is based on research by two Technion-Israel Institute of Technology professors. The pair won the 2004 Nobel Prize for Chemistry for their groundbreaking work.

Scientists at Tel Aviv University developed BioPetroClean, a safe environmentally-friendly technology for cleaning oil spills in seas around the globe.

Research by a professor at the Weizmann Institute has led to the development of promising new therapies for acute spinal cord injuries. The late actor Christopher Reeve described Israel as the ‘world-center’ for research on paralysis treatment. Proneuron Biotechnologies, the company founded to commercialize this research is also developing a therapy for Parkinson’s with support from the Michael J. Fox Foundation.

Israeli scientists developed the first fully computerized, no-radiation, diagnostic instrumentationfor breast cancer.

A team from the Weizmann Institute has demonstrated for the first time how tissues transplanted from pig embryos might, in the future, be able to induce the human body to produce blood-clotting proteins for hemophilia patients.

An Israeli scientific team from the Technion has succeeded in creating in the laboratory beating heart tissue from human embryonic stem cells.

A researcher at Ben Gurion University has succeeded in creating human monoclonal antibodies which can neutralize the highly contagious small-pox virus without inducing the dangerous side effects of the existing vaccine.

The Pentium NMX Chip was designed at Intel in Israel. Both the Pentium 4 microprocessor and the Centrum processor were designed, developed and produced in Israel, as was voice mail.

The technology for the AOL Instant Messenger ICQ was developed in 1996 by four young Israelis.

Most of Windows operating systems was developed by Microsoft-Israel, as was voice mail technology.

Both Microsoft and Cisco built their only R&D facilities outside the US in Israel, attracted by the high quality of engineers.

Cell phone technology was also developed in Israel by Motorola, which has its biggest development center in Israel.

Israel is the only country in the world that entered the 21st century with a net gain in its number of trees!

April 25th, 2008, 6:19 am

 
 

wizart said:

Open questions to all concerned citizens in the civilized world!

How can Lebanon transform itself politically to become a viable and stable political system? What internal or external shocks are needed to help end the systemic corruption that Nour & QN described in recent posts? These are all questions the Lebanese have yet to answer and they’re still as valid today as they were in 1989.

Lebanon made a deal in Saudi Arabia in 1989 which ended a bloody 15 year civil war and tried to balance inter Lebanese political power.

Here is an overview of that agreement which failed to provide an effective frame-work for abolishing the political sectarianism which led to the civil war in the first place:

The treaty was negotiated in Taif, Saudi Arabia by the surviving members of Lebanon’s 1972 parliament; fathered by Parliament Speaker President Hussein El-Husseini. The agreement covered political reform, the ending of the Lebanese Civil War, the establishment of special relations between Lebanon and Syria, and a framework for the beginning of complete Syrian withdrawal from Lebanon.

The agreement restructured the National Pact political system in Lebanon by transferring some of the power away from the Maronite Christian community, which had been given a privileged status in Lebanon under French colonial rule. Prior to Taif, the Sunni Muslim Prime Minister was appointed by and responsible to the Maronite President. After Taif the Prime Minister was responsible to the legislature, as in a traditional parliamentary system. At the time of the Taif negotiations, a Maronite Christian Prime Minister, General Michel Aoun, had controversially been appointed by President Amine Gemayel, contrary to the National Pact.

The agreement also provided for the disarmament of all national and non national militias. All have disarmed apart from the Shiite Hezballah and the non-Lebanese Fatah and Hamas, PFLP-GC. The Hezbollah was allowed to stay armed in its capacity as a “resistance force” to fight Israel rather than a militia.

Although the Taif Agreement identified the abolition of political sectarianism as a national priority, it provided no time-frame for doing so. The Chamber of Deputies was increased in size to 128 members, shared equally between Christians and Muslims, rather than elected by universal suffrage that would have provided a Muslim majority (excluding the expatriate community, a majority of which is Christian). A cabinet was established similarly divided equally between Christians and Muslims.

The agreement was ratified on November 4, 1989. Parliament met on the following day at Qoleiat air base in North Lebanon and elected President Rene Mouawad 409 days after Amine Gemayel vacated this position upon the expiration of his term in 1988. Mouawad was unable to occupy the Presidential Palace which was still in use by General Michel Aoun. Mouawad was assassinated 17 days later in a car bombing in Beirut on November 22 as his motorcade returned from Lebanese independence day ceremonies. He was succeeded by Elias Hrawi, who remained in office until 1998.
——————————————————————

Syria is situated right in the Middle of the world so what goes on in Syria or next door in Lebanon can have an important impact on the rest of the world. Therefore, I would like to know everybody’s opinion from around the world as each country wakes up and provides unbiased insight that may help the world achieve long term peace in the Middle East which can only help world peace.

April 25th, 2008, 6:25 am

 

Alex said:

Sol,

This is a very impressive list.

Just like your joint ventures with Motorola and Intel, Syria also had an advanced research center built on the Euphrates that your airforce destroyed.

Forget the fraudulent CIA video clip. This is what was really going on in that joint Syrian/Korean research center:

April 25th, 2008, 6:49 am

 

Rowan Berkeley said:

Shual – are you claiming that the supposed “still photos” – showing (1) a reactor surface with fuel rod apertures, (2) the steel reinforcing for a containment vessel before the concrete was poured, and (3) the shot of the exterior of a pressure vessel showing cooling pipes – are not “photos” at all, but photoshop constructs?

April 25th, 2008, 6:49 am

 

Alex said:

SOl,

Don’t worry … I was joking : )

I thought the dramatic Hyundai promotional video clip was comic enough to show I was not serious.

Rowan,

1) Can they create photos that look “realistic”? with today’s technology?

It does not take CIA exclusive resources … any good graphic artist can do wonders:

2) But .. would they intentionally … deceive us????

eh … yeah

April 25th, 2008, 7:11 am

 

wizart said:

Oh ya technology and media can do wonders to world affairs!

I saw Pamela Anderson in person at a bookshop a couple years ago and she looked a whole lot different from what she looked like on Baywatch so she might be one of those who undergo constant makeovers as well 🙂

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BUFySMb6B50&feature=related

By the way I think the Lebanese are pioneers in the art of makeover and I salute their eagerness to transform and empower the region into a bright future despite all obstacles, fears and antiquated sectarianism model. 😉

Baywatch (I think that came after Parastroika)

April 25th, 2008, 7:47 am

 

Alex said:

And one more historic mideast story … thanks also to the “free” press

April 25th, 2008, 7:48 am

 

Alex said:

I don’t know who is supposed to believe this logical “analysis”

It’s ok … Shmuel Rosner has been living in the United States … it is not his fault. Talking to administration officials is dangerous to your brain.

Israel: Syria may rethink retaliation in light of nuclear revelations

By Amos Harel, Barak Ravid and Shmuel Rosner, Haaretz Correspondents

The closed-door hearings of the House Intelligence Committee regarding a site in Syria that the Israel Air Forces bombed last September were closely followed Thursday by senior officials in Israel.

U.S. officials said that the Israeli strike destroyed a Syrian nuclear reactor built with North Korean design help.

Senior Israeli defense sources said Thursday night that it was still early to gauge how Damascus would react to the news, but warned that the Syrians may now reconsider and decide to retaliate against Israel in some way.

In recent internal discussions, senior Israeli defense establishment officials expressed concern that the official American release of details about the strike would embarrass Syrian leader Bashar Assad, and lead him to take a more aggressive stance toward Israel.

Intelligence officials said that the reports on the nature of the site make Assad vulnerable, internationally and domestically. Most senior members of his regime in Damascus apparently were not aware that the country had a nuclear program, they explained.

Defense sources said Thursday night that there was still risk of an escalation in the area and warned that Israel must be cautious and avoid embarrassing Assad unnecessarily.

Meanwhile, the Israeli government decided to maintain its silence over the September 6, 2007 strike.

However, the hearings may have raised a new problem in Israel: Members of Congress were shown a video recorded by an agent inside the Syrian nuclear plant prior to the attack.

This revelation may lead the Syrians to the source of the leak that allowed Israel and the U.S. to gather intelligence on the nuclear site.

April 25th, 2008, 8:03 am

 

Alex said:

What do you call a UN ambassador of a country that failed to respect dozens of UN resolutions, who is insulting a Nobel Peace Prize winner and highly respected ex-president of the United States?

Israeli envoy to UN calls Carter ‘a bigot’ for meeting Meshal
By The Associated Press

Israel’s ambassador to the United Nations on Thursday called former President Jimmy Carter “a bigot” for meeting with the leader of the militant Hamas movement in Syria.

Carter, a Nobel Peace Prize winner, “went to the region with soiled hands and came back with bloody hands after shaking the hand of Khaled Meshal, the leader of Hamas,” Ambassador Dan Gillerman told a luncheon briefing for reporters.

April 25th, 2008, 8:12 am

 

offended said:

okay, I am not going to ridicule the CIA report. Langely boys have done a pretty good job. As i’ve expected; there is a heavy dependency on animation softwares and human brain deduction. And yeah, there are those photographs. Although we are lead to believe it is ‘the syrian desert’ that shows in those photograph. It sure is not Calahari desert or Mojabe desert… it just can’t be…

But you have to give it to the CIA that the picture of the syrian Abd Al Kadeer Khan and the Korean Abd Al Kadeer khan is the master strike. It’s the break in the case that will torn the Syrian’s lies and propaganda apart. Well, it’s true that it’s quite hard to tell Korean people from each other. But who cares? he’s a N. Korean, he was seen sitting to a conference table and later standing next to an allegedly Syrian guy. That must make him the N. Korean delegate to the six party talks and the N/ Korean liaison in the Syrian nuclear program. Ain’t it?

I don’t know about you… but I am pretty convinced.

April 25th, 2008, 8:30 am

 

Shai said:

Alex, Offended,

What difference does it make if it was or wasn’t a reactor??? Personally, if I was Bashar Assad, I would now go on International TV, and say the following: “In light of recent coverage, and continued attempts to embarrass the Syrian Arab Republic, we have decided to make the following statement: The facility attacked by Israeli planes may or may not have had to do with nuclear technology.”! That’s it. No more. That’s called ambiguity, a policy of which has been exercised by Israel for the past 40-plus years, when it comes to nuclear talk. When asked about our own nuclear program, our political leaders have always responded along the same lines “Israel will not be the first to introduce nuclear weapons to the Middle East”.

If Syria wisely adopts this policy, it will be looked at more seriously, because the world will not know what her intentions or capabilities are. Only, that essentially nothing is ruled out. That’s my personal opinion. For what it’s worth…

April 25th, 2008, 8:57 am

 

Rowan Berkeley said:

We have three categories of evidence to assess, at least, but here are the ones mentioned just above in this thread:

(1) Interior shots of the complex – I would not start complaining that they are photoshopped photos until I have dealt with the fact that they may be photos of the inside of another reactor, somewhere else in the world than in Syria,

(2) Exterior shots of the complex – these do not have to be “fake” since they show a building, no one argues there was a large building there. Steve Clemons thinks that it was a missile CBW warhead assembly plant, and that sounds highly probable to me, actually,

(3) The photo of the two dudes chatting. Proves nothing whatsoever. People in the same business chat all the time.

April 25th, 2008, 9:00 am

 

Honest Patriot said:

Wizart, same question as for Nour. For the studied analysis you make of the Lebanese system, evolution, and issues, do you make the same analysis for the Syrian system ?

April 25th, 2008, 9:43 am

 

Honest Patriot said:

It is interesting that for the most part there is no discussion of the internal political system in Israel or in Syria (except for AIG’s exhortation to have democracy everywhere in the Arab world). The focus is always on the foreign policy positions of the countries involved. Except for Lebanon. Everyone has something to say about what the Lebanese should do, how they should do it, how terrible the corruption is, how they need to come up with a method to establish foreign policy, etc. This is fair enough coming from Lebanese citizen. For others, particularly those whose own systems – or systems of their original countries – leave a lot to be desired, it diminishes the persuasiveness and even the validity of any of their arguments.

April 25th, 2008, 9:54 am

 

Honest Patriot said:

What I’m getting at is that of all the Arab countries – all of them – Lebanon is the first and only country where the transformation to a true democracy is taking place, albeit through tremendous turmoil and suffering and working through “growing up” from corruption and one of the worst civic senses of any world population. I challenge any blogger here from any other Arab country to claim otherwise (and persuasively prove it).

April 25th, 2008, 9:59 am

 

wizart said:

HP,

I’m looking for insightful answers from objective 4th parties because we already know what most Lebanese, Syrian and Israelis think. I was making my own observations and asking relevant questions that needed to be answered because I honestly think whatever we learn from the Lebanese experience could be very helpful in helping other countries in the region to avoid similar bad experiences.

Can you or anyone else come up with answers that don’t include accusing all foreign countries that have interests in the region?

I’m interested in figuring out what the Lebanese themselves are doing to take charge of transforming a system they themselves agree that it just doesn’t work and needs to be changed. Any deadlines?

http://www.time.com/time/world/article/0,8599,1733996,00.html

April 25th, 2008, 10:18 am

 

Honest Patriot said:

Wizart,

Fair question. I don’t have an answer. I guess I’m a critic like most folks and you know what they say about critics:
“If all the critics in the world were to die tomorrow there’d still be too many of them.”
The Lebanese are trying. It’s a random walk peppered with lots of setbacks and slowed by the viscosity of the poor civic sense and inherent corruption and greed. But there’s hope it will eventually get somewhere. For sure the best course would be for all factions to think and act independently of their foreign benefactors.
To some extent – as Enlightened might say – “When you’re up to your neck in alligators, it’s easy to forget that the initial objective was to drain the swamp.”

April 25th, 2008, 10:37 am

 

Honest Patriot said:

… I think QN has in previous posts put forth a very serious proposal that could be the best basis for a true independent and democratic Lebanon. So someone “else [did] come up with answers that don’t include accusing all foreign countries that have interests in the region”. It includes such things as a bicameral system, etc., etc… I’m not qualified to regurgitate all this here but it’s all in SC somewhere.

Still, my laments about the need for similar introspection by the other Arab countries, Syria included, are quite valid. I think.

April 25th, 2008, 10:42 am

 

wizart said:

HP,

Fair answer. Not all critics are the same. I don’t care what the critics of all critics say, there’s always constructive critics like us here encouraging even our sworn enemies to criticize us. They’re usually eager to provide this service w/out our asking 🙂

Anyway, your point is well taken HP and I totally share your desire to see the swam drained. There’s no substitute for having a beautiful system at work populated with the right management team regardless of their ethnic or religious background. Easier said than done and always worth the effort.

I love to keep pushing to find out what next steps are needed to get there and perhaps to raise the level of consciousness and self responsibility among people before more of them keep immigrating.

I wasn’t aware of any specific solutions presented on SC. I hope they’re simple, proven effective and actionable enough to implement soon.

April 25th, 2008, 10:53 am

 

Honest Patriot said:

Wizart said: I wasn’t aware of any specific solutions presented on SC. I hope they’re simple, proven effective and actionable enough to implement soon.

Yalla ya QN, shoo natir? Everyone’s clamoring for you to emerge from your cloak of anonymity and blosom in the leadership role we’re all yearning to see you take. You must know that you have more than one admirer, and from all sides: Naji, Enlightened, many others, and of course yours truly HP.

At the very least it might be worth re-stating your solution plan for Lebanon in a succint yet comprehensive recap. Bet you could turn it into a PhD thesis and combine whatever else it is you’re doing with a PhD from OU. I know a good Professor there 😉

April 25th, 2008, 11:30 am

 

Akbar Palace said:

Ford Prefect starts his email letter:

“Dear Mr./Madam Future President: We, the Middle Easterner Arabs, Israelis, Muslims, Jews, Persians and everybody in between are looking for a way out of that huge mess that Bush has created in our region…

Ford Prefect:

The truth is, “your region” was a huge mess decades before GWB came into office.

Shai agrees with Ford Prefect:

Shai said:

FP,

Hear, hear!

Eyze Hafta’a!

April 25th, 2008, 11:32 am

 

Naji said:

So, what is next… IAEA inspections of Syrian presidential “palaces”… for nuclear materials, and perhaps for the Siddiq while they are at it…!? The old trick of forcing someone to try to prove the negative is the limit of their bully imagination, I suppose…!!
___________________

IAEA to probe Syrian nuclear reactor report
Fri Apr 25, 2008 7:22am EDT
By Mark Heinrich

VIENNA (Reuters) – The U.N. nuclear watchdog pledged on Friday to investigate what it called serious U.S. accusations that Syria secretly built a nuclear reactor with North Korean help.

Syria, which denies the U.S. allegations, accused Washington of involvement in an Israeli attack on Syria in September that the United States says struck the site of a suspected atomic reactor.

Mohamed ElBaradei, director of the International Atomic Energy Agency, said the U.S. intelligence allegations against Syria would be investigated with due vigor.

“The Agency will treat this information with the seriousness it deserves and will investigate the veracity of the information,” ElBaradei said.

He confirmed Washington had handed over information which said that a Syrian installation destroyed by an Israeli air strike in September was a not yet completed atomic reactor.

“According to this information, the reactor was not yet operational and no nuclear material had been introduced into it,” he said in a statement.

But he said Syria would have been obliged under its non-proliferation safeguards agreement with the Vienna-based U.N. watchdog to inform it in advance of any planning and construction of a nuclear facility.

Syria accused the United States of involvement in the Israeli attack on Syria.

A Syrian statement said: “The U.S. administration was apparently party to the execution” of the September raid by Israeli warplanes on eastern Syria.

The statement did not give details. A U.S. official said on Thursday that Washington did not give Israel any “green light” to strike the area.

Israel is widely believed to have assembled the Middle East’s only nuclear arsenal at Dimona, a plant out of bounds to foreign inspection.

U.S. INTELLIGENCE

The United States presented on Thursday what it described as intelligence showing that North Korea had helped Syria build a suspected nuclear reactor.

The White House said the United States was convinced that North Korea had helped Syria to build a secret nuclear reactor. The comment came after intelligence officials briefed U.S. lawmakers about the raid.

The Syrian statement repeated Damascus’s denial of involvement in nuclear activity and dismissed Washington’s accusations as part of a campaign to discredit the Damascus government.

“The Syrian government regrets the campaign of lies and falsification by the U.S. administration against Syria, including allegations of nuclear activity,” said the statement, which was issued on the state news agency.

ElBaradei said he “deplores the fact” that the United States had not turned the information over to the IAEA on the reactor, said to have been launched in 2001, in a “timely manner to enable us to verify its veracity and establish the facts”.

“In light of the above, (I) view the unilateral use of force by Israel as undermining the due process of verification that is at the heart of the non-proliferation regime,” ElBaradei added.

Under a deal North Korea struck with five regional powers, it had until the end of 2007 to disclose a complete list of its fissile material and nuclear weaponry as well as answer U.S. suspicions of enriching uranium and proliferating technology.

North Korea tested a nuclear device in October 2006. (Additional reporting by Khaled Yacoub Oweis in Damascus and Jack Kim in Seoul; Editing by Charles Dick)

© Thomson Reuters 2008.

April 25th, 2008, 11:36 am

 

Naji said:

HP,
What you might not know is that Qifa Nabki is, rather aptly, the pseudonym of our Bibo…! So, you can also add Alex to the list admirers above… 😉

April 25th, 2008, 11:49 am

 

Honest Patriot said:

Naji, do you think this is as contrived as the alleged evidence of chemical and biological weapons programs by Saddam ?
Any chance, in your opinion, it could actually be true ?
For if it were NOT true then the credibility of American and Israeli intelligence will have been damaged for decades to come.

What do others think ?

April 25th, 2008, 11:52 am

 
 

Shai said:

Akbar,

Shabat Shalom to you too… 🙂 Listen, I don’t know how historians will depict George W. Bush fifty years from now. Maybe they’ll hail him as the last true hero in pursuit of world freedom of the 20th century. Or maybe they’ll hail him as one of the worst American leaders of ANY century. I don’t know, and I believe that neither do you. But from many an observers today (I would dare say most), Bush’s policy certainly HAS created one huge mess in our region. I personally don’t think the administration had any of this in mind when they invaded Iraq, nor do they have it mind when isolating Syria, Iran, Hezbollah, or Hamas. At the end of the day, they are trying to do what they believe is right. But, as many in the present believe (myself included), their policy towards the Middle East is wrong, and has brought about much chaos indeed.

From what I read in FP’s comment, there was nothing that suggested that a mess did not exist prior to Bush. Of course we’ve had a mess here for the better part of 60 years. And much of it was caused by parties other than George W. Bush. But this particular administration, in its 8 year session, seems to have done a lot more damage, than good, in our particular region. This is the subjective opinion of many people, and I believe most would agree. In the U.S., there’s basically no Democrat who supports Bush’s policy, and many Republicans have also turned against it. So, the majority think Bush was and still is wrong. Not only wrong in his intentions, but wrong in his action. If he hadn’t contributed and created much of this mess, no Republican would be against his policy, right?

April 25th, 2008, 12:02 pm

 

Naji said:

HP,
I forget the technical terms, but there are usually two branches to any of these “intelligence” agencies… one for intelligence gathering and analysis, and the other for active espionage operational stuff… So, you might say that the credibility of the US/Israeli agencies will be enhanced “for decades to come”… or so they think…!!

Also, http://ihsaniat.blogspot.com/2008/04/rats-smell-worse-than-fish.html …!

April 25th, 2008, 12:03 pm

 

Honest Patriot said:

AP, teach us some Hebrew. What does “Eyze Hafta’a” mean?
Happy to teach you some Arabic (if you care). A word for a word ;-).

OK I’ll make an advance payment for you:
In my earlier post “shoo natir?” means “what are you waiting for” ?
(shoo = what)

April 25th, 2008, 12:03 pm

 

Naji said:

HP,
I forget the technical terms, but there are usually two branches to any of these “intelligence” agencies… one for intelligence gathering and analysis, and the other for active espionage operational stuff… So, you might say that the credibility of the US/Israeli agencies will be enhanced “for decades to come”… or so they think…!!

April 25th, 2008, 12:04 pm

 

Honest Patriot said:

Well, everything in this domain is made up of acronyms:
NSA, SIGINT, ECM, ECCM, EW, CIA, DIA, etc. — take your pick.

April 25th, 2008, 12:08 pm

 

Naji said:

Anyway, the way this thing is unfolding only confirms my earlier guess above…!! Really sad for Lebanon, and the Palestinians, before anybody else…!! Syria has its grand defense strategy of “Souria Allah Hammia”, so I am not too worried for her…, but I am not sure who will be protecting the others…!!?

April 25th, 2008, 12:10 pm

 

Naji said:

Ihsan Attar has an interesting take on this thing, but the spam filter is not letting me post a link… so here…:
______

“Having said that, I’m not writing about the US allegations, the mystery of that site and what not, but I want to write about the big rat that was seen in every photo of that footage. Now let’s say for argument sake that it was indeed a super top secret nuclear reactor being built without the knowledge of most senior members of the Syrian regime, as Haaretz claimed. The photos were not just taken from a satellite; in fact, the most compelling photos were taking from within, outside, and few meters away from the building and during different phases of its construction. Whoever took them was available on site and did not just sneak some peaks from afar. The alleged extreme secrecy surrounding the “project” would naturally suggest extreme security measures and “no cameras allowed” signs all over the place. Yet, the person(s) took the shots was pretty comfortable judging from the angles of the photos. This means one of two things, it has never been a top secret covert location as claimed and anyone could get there, or the presence of a huge fat rat among or a friend of the elite and most trusty people who were in charge of it. I, however, lean toward the latter.

The question is, have some heads rolled in Damascus over this or not? We are not looking at a person slurring at the holy government, but at a person who has committed great treason. This level of treason can never be done without accomplices. Has the almighty Syrian Mukhabarat done its job as it should or not? Have they learned how penetrated they are by our enemy or have the layers of fat they have accumulated over years of wealth and power blocked the natural instinct of being extremely alert in a country that has been in a state of war for decades.

One last note, I guess it’s safe to say that “traitors” are not the ones who criticize the performance of the gods, but more likely to be one of those who master the art of “ass-kissing”.
______

April 25th, 2008, 12:14 pm

 

Naji said:

Naji said:

Joshua’s title for the post hints at what is behind all these mixed messages and conflicting signs: the old carrot and stick approach to keep Syria out when that “hot summer” that Welch promised on his last visit to Lebanon commences.

Everything seems to be pointing in the direction of a plan to finish off what was attempted a couple of summers ago…, but this time on wider scale and with direct US participation along with Israel, facilitated by the Arabs of course. The exercises in Israel, all the ominous signs that have been pointed out in the various articles in previous posts, the US absolute veto on any settlement in Lebanon or between Hamas and Fatah, the re-posturing of the various Lebanese factions, Larsens report, Petraious’ testimony and his new appointment, etc…

My guess is that a “shock and awe” type of operation will be attempted to take out all these meddlers once and for all…: a second blow to finally break the back of the weakened and exposed HA by a forceful strike on its Bekaa valley stronghold; a major blow to Hamas in Gaza that will silence them for a while; and a major strike against Iran’s Revolutionary Guard and their proxies in Iraq (and perhaps even a little strike at some nuclear installations for good measure). The idea is to defang Iran and Syria in preparation for that peace deal that Bush has prepared for the area, perhaps as described by Robert Malley. Olmert and Israel are really anxious about going along if the thing is going to escalate into a major area-wide conflict along the doomsday scenario that Shai keeps describing and trying to avoid. They figure they can withstand and absorb a rocket attack by HA, but if Syrian rockets start to also rain down all over the place (and continue to be supplied to HA)…, well it is just not as pretty then… things could get much messier…and the outcome is not quite as predictable… they even tried to test Syrian reaction with that silly raid last summer, but Syria maintained its deterrent ambiguity…. etc…

But giving the Golan back, a priori, to the Syrian “ripe fruit” is the last thing they have in mind…

April 23rd, 2008, 8:28 pm
________________

Naji said:

My point was that the promise of peace talks to Syria is meant to be the carrot against the stick of the promise and ominous signs of war… all meant to simply keep Syria out of this summer’s conflict… and the “click of a button” is not going to come from HA or Hamas, but from Bush and his minions…

Even allowing (see news about Rice lying) old Carter to go around kissing Meshal and Zahar might also be looked at as attempts to put Syria at ease and reassuring them and others that all will be alright after this nasty little business is taken care of…

April 23rd, 2008, 9:00 pm
_________

Naji said:

Dear Joshua,
What do you think…did I get it right…?!

April 23rd, 2008, 9:16 pm
________

Naji said:

Not a MAJOR operation against Iran… but an operation that will target the meddlesome RG, the grounds for which have been amply prepared if you watched the Petraious testimony for example… something like sixty five times he and Crocker emphasized that it is Iran that is the source of all the trouble and who is killing American soldiers… Syria’s role was described as “ambivalent”… allowing Syria a way out if it wants one… a typical military strategy…! An operation that is not big enough to make Iran risk all by lashing out against its neighbors, or even against Israel, but big enough to humiliate and defang…

And, really, peace talks are not a carrot for Syria… but a carrot for Israel…!? Since when…?! All the IG’s (including the PPP ones) have been tirelessly pointing out how Syria has been begging for the talks for years, but that Israel is not interested/allowed to go ahead… And, frankly, why should it at this point…!? In any case, the Israeli public and Knesset reaction today was an indication of the current mood… Perhaps Syria’s insistence on the public declaration that it got today was an attempt to expose the ploy…!!??

April 23rd, 2008, 9:38 pm

April 25th, 2008, 12:22 pm

 

norman said:

Shai,

I hope you are right.

April 25th, 2008, 12:22 pm

 

Shai said:

Hi HP, good to hear you again.

“Eyze Hafta’a” means “What a surprise”. Ya’ani, AP is not surprised I hailed FP’s comment. Well, in that he and I agree, I also wasn’t surprised that I hailed FP’s comment… 🙂

As for whether the evidence we’re seeing and hearing about is contrived, or not, I think no one here knows. And, as I’ve commented up above, what difference does it make whether it was or wasn’t a nuclear reactor? You know what, my personal hope is that it was! And the reason is, that Israel (and the U.S.) will finally realize what the price of non-peace (and continued violence) has and can have, if we don’t move our asses and go make peace. Peace you make with bitter enemies, not with friends. And these bitter enemies don’t sit around waiting for you to come to your senses, they do everything they can to convince you to change your mind. And if that means a new balance of power suddenly appearing in the region, then that’s the price one sometimes pays for waiting too long. I’m not saying I’d be particularly happy to see a nuclear Syria, or Iran, or Jordan for that matter. But I certainly can understand why these nations would want to acquire such technology, and even use it for military purposes. When there’s peace in our region, I’ll start losing that understanding. In the meantime, I don’t like it, but I have to accept it.

April 25th, 2008, 12:31 pm

 

norman said:

Friday April 25, 2008 07:12 EDT
Skepticism towards Bush claims about Syria and North Korea

There are multiple reasons why substantial skepticism is warranted concerning the Bush administration’s claims that the structure which Israeli jets destroyed inside Syria last September was a nuclear reactor Syria was developing with the aid of North Korea. Such skepticism, however, is difficult to find in most (though not all) American press accounts, which do little other than repeat Government claims without challenge.

This Associated Press article, for instance, is 32 paragraphs long, yet it contains little other than unchallenged assertions by the Bush administration, using the now-familiar media conventions for disseminating government claims — i.e., quoting administration accusations without challenge and then granting completely unwarranted anonymity to “intelligence officials” to echo those accusations:

The White House said Thursday that North Korea did secret work on a nuclear reactor with Syria . . .

Seven months after Israel bombed the site, the White House broke its silence and said North Korea assisted Syria in a secret nuclear program. . . .

While calling North Korea’s nuclear assistance to Syria a “dangerous manifestation” of Pyongyang’s nuclear weapons program and its proliferation activities, the White House said. . . .

The United States became aware North Korea was helping Syria with a nuclear project in 2003, said intelligence officials who spoke on condition of anonymity because of the matter’s sensitivity . . .

The critical intelligence that cemented that conclusion, they said, came last year: dozens of photographs taken from ground level over a period of time, showing the construction both inside and outside the building. . . .

The Israeli strike on Sept. 6, 2007, ripped open the structure and revealed even more evidence to spy satellites: reinforced concrete walls that echoed the design of the Yongbyon reactor. . . .

The alleged Syrian nuclear reactor was within weeks or months of being functional, a top U.S. official told The Associated Press, speaking on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the matter. . . .

But the U.S. official said the reactor was similar in design to a North Korean reactor at Yongbyon, which has produced small amounts of plutonium, the material needed to make powerful nuclear weapons. . . .

The White House also used its statement as an opportunity to denounce the nuclear activities of Iran, which it says is a threat to the stability of the Middle East.

The article contains cursory denials by the Syrian government, as well as complaints from various members of Congress that they should have been shown this evidence earlier. But there is scarcely a skeptical word in the article about the veracity of the administration’s accusations against Syria and North Korea. The same is essentially true for articles by The Washington Post and Reuters, although this Financial Times piece at least notes:
While US and Israeli intelligence suggests Syria was close to completing the physical reactor, they have no evidence that Syria had obtained plutonium to feed into the reactor. “The US does not have any indication of how Syria would fuel this reactor, and no information that North Korea had already, or intended, to provide the reactor’s fuel,” said David Albright, a nuclear expert at the The Institute for Science and International Security.
Beyond the lack of evidence supporting the Israeli and American claims that “Syria was close to completing the physical reactor,” there are multiple other reasons for skepticism. This article by David Sanger in The New York Times references several of them, including the fact that “senior intelligence officials acknowledged that the evidence had left them with no more than ‘low confidence’ that Syria was preparing to build a nuclear weapon” and some of the photographs in the video presentation ‘seemed to go back to before 2002.'”

There are all sorts of reasons beyond those for extreme skepticism here. After flamboyantly announcing that they had actual video of North Korean nuclear scientists inside the Syrian building, it turned out that the “video” was merely a compilation of rather unrevealing still photographs patched together, in Colin-Powell-at-the-UN fashion, with ominous narration making accusations with a level of certainty completely unmatched by the “evidence” itself. The one “smoking gun” photograph from the video — the alleged North Korean head of that country’s reactor fuel plant standing in Syria (in a sweat suit) posing next to the head of the Syrian Atomic Energy Commission — seems to raise more questions than it resolves:

If two countries are engaged in a highly covert and nefarious program to build nuclear weapons, are their leading nuclear officials really going to pose together outdoors for a smiling, casual, tourist-like photograph? At the very least, that photograph — touted as the most direct evidence — hardly constitutes compelling or even minimally convincing evidence of the administration’s accusations. To the contrary, the whole episode reminds one of Howard Dean’s prescient reaction to the Colin Powell U.N. slideshow, which Dean delivered in a speech on Febraury 17, 2003 at Drake University:

Secretary Powell’s recent presentation at the UN showed the extent to which we have Iraq under an audio and visual microscope. Given that, I was impressed not by the vastness of evidence presented by the Secretary, but rather by its sketchiness.
Beyond all of this, there are all sorts of motives for the administration to exaggerate or outright fabricate these accusations. There have long been, and still are, influential neoconservative factions eager for confrontation with Syria. Similar factions want to derail talks with North Korea. And the administration’s reflexive support for anything Israel does — particularly when it comes to acts of military aggression — along with its possible approval of or even active support for the air strike, provide obvious incentive to justify the destruction of this building.

That the administration is voicing these accusations is, of course, news, and the accusations ought to be reported. And even though it seems unlikely for numerous reasons, it’s at least theoretically possible that the Syrians are attempting to develop a nuclear reactor for non-civilian purposes with the help of a cash-strapped North Korea. But there is no value — and much potential harm — in having media outlets simply amplify Government accusations with little or no critical scrutiny.

Worse still — though completely unsurprising — is the almost complete lack of challenge to the underlying premises. We just accept uncritically the idea that it is the expression of Ultimate Evil for Syria (or Iran) even to pursue nuclear power in accordance with their obligations under the NPT, let alone develop a nuclear weapon, even while Israel stockpiles enormous amounts of nuclear weapons and refuses to be a party to that treaty. Virtually nobody questions the right of Israel simply to attack its neighbors whenever it wants (imagine the reaction if Syria had Iran had unilaterally bombed a facility inside Israel which it claimed was used to develop destructive weapons). And all of that is underscored by recent claims by the Israeli Government that President Bush himself expressly approved of Israeli plans to expand settlement activities in the West Bank at a time when he was pretending to support a halt to that expansion.

As the recent Democratic debate conclusively proved — in which both candidates (Clinton far more extensively than Obama) vowed that the U.S. would consider an attack on Israel to be an attack on the U.S. — our extremely consequential policy of reflexive support for Israel, no matter what it does, remains the least debatable issue in American political life. But even within those restrictive parameters, extreme skepticism is obviously warranted when the U.S., in defense of Israeli military action, begins making rather extraordinary and potentially quite provocative accusations against one of Israel’s prime Middle Eastern enemies.

— Glenn Greenwald

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April 25th, 2008, 12:47 pm

 

Rowan Berkeley said:

I would like to respond to the question from “honest patriot” : “if it were NOT true, then the credibility of American and Israeli intelligence will have been damaged for decades to come. What do others think ? ”

My answer is this : wholesale deception of domestic populations is completely routine in all states, and all intelligence agencies are completely aware of this fact. However, the scale and audacity of such wholesale deceptions continues to be determined by assumptions about centralised control of the mass media in the target states, which are no longer true, because of the Internet. Governments which task the intelligence services, among other things, with orchestrating such deceptions, are not able to react rationally to this change, and tend instead to increase the scale and audacity of such deceptions, as if the problem was simply one of out-bluffing their publics. Naturally, this will continue to produce obviously insane wars, until the systems of governmental secrecy in the states concerned discredit themselves, one by one. What happens after that may be better, or worse. Worse, obviously, would be the systematic suppression of uncontrolled communication on the Internet.

April 25th, 2008, 12:51 pm

 

Honest Patriot said:

Shai,

My sense is that the superiority of the US military appartus – as well as the Israeli one – are such that there’s no forseeable future when a head-on military threat to the US or to Israel can have any teeth at all. Combine that with the incredible imaging capabilities — unknown publicly and probably unknowable — the conclusion becomes that conventional or even nuclear military confrontation is virtually no risk at all to either.

The real threat – I believe – is from non-conventional struggle. Another intifada, this time including the Arabs within Israel, unconventional (likely called terrorist) methods, diplomatic success in swaying China, India,Pakistan, Russia to coalesce into a front opposing the US and Israel in ME politics and plans, this is where potentially serious vulnerability will emerge. Add to that the oil card which could still be extremely effective if the US doesn’t overcome its appetite for non-renewable energy sources, particularly if Iraq doesn’t reach stability, and you have a risk area that should be the main concern for any US (and Israeli) administration.

Clearly, a path to peace and cooperation is in the best interest of everyone – at least in the best interest of the great majority of people. A workable solution is – I believe – clear to everyone. Pride and rhetoric are getting in the way. Sad.

April 25th, 2008, 12:53 pm

 

There They Go Again « Terraformed said:

[…] Update: More here Syria expert Josh Landis discusses a different theory of diversion, having to do with revelations that Syria and Israel are closer to an agreement on the future of the Golan Heights. […]

April 25th, 2008, 1:17 pm

 

Qifa Nabki said:

HP, thanks for the vote of confidence. I will keep my plan on the back burner, as there are more important things to discuss right now than Lebanon, namely …

SYRIA’S NUCLEAR PROGRAM!!!!

My, my, my those pesky Syrians. Just when you think they’re a low-hanging plum, they transform into a radioactive prickly pear.

What a joke.

Have the Europeans said anything yet about this?

————

Naji said:

“Really sad for Lebanon, and the Palestinians, before anybody else…!! Syria has its grand defense strategy of “Souria Allah Hammia”, so I am not too worried for her…, but I am not sure who will be protecting the others…!!?”

I share your sentiment, ya Naji, but I think you should be honest and describe Syria’s strategy in its real terms: not “Souria Allah Hammia” but rather

“Souria Hizb Allah Hammia”

😉

April 25th, 2008, 1:27 pm

 

why-discuss said:

Nour, HP

Lebanon has one large advantage versus the other arab countries, it has freedom of expression, not a democracy. In arab countries, besides tough censorship, a journalist or a intellectual may end up in jail for say 10 years, in Lebanon he is is often murdered. I don’t know if freedom of expression, where politicians blame and insult each others freely is a way to democracy. I have my doubts about that path. Some of the countries that were part of the Soviet Union found their path to democracy in a quite different ways. What I see after 60 years of Lebanon republic existence, is that the country has no institutions that can stand crisis and be able to handle opposing views of the future of the country. We have seen these institutions crumbling one after the others at every single crisis affecting the region.
That is a very very weak “democracy” . Lebanese believe they are superior to all the other arab countries because they have the freedom to insult, stir hatred and blame each others for the fate of their country. Yet their country is hanging in limbo, chaotic and tainted with the blood of murders and revenge and they still think they are a ‘democracy” because they have elections, so what? Egypt has elections, Sudan has elections, Kenya has elections. Elections do not make a country democratic. Strong institutions do and Lebanon has none, even the presidential institution is crumbling . Lebanon seems to be a weak and failed state and need help to reconstitute its institutions, not to band-aid them!

April 25th, 2008, 2:06 pm

 

T said:

SOL,

Is your list of Israeli scientists supposed to justify Israel’s criminal spying on “their friend and ally the USA”? Or just divert us from these Israeli crimes?

NO SALE.

How much of the scientists’ seed money came from US taxpayer funding? Most, most likely. And non-Israelis have come up with just as many inventions, they just dont own the media to equally aggrandize themselves like the jewish faction- which controls our media.

Do a little bio-geneology of press ownership/influence in USA like you’ve done with the scientists, SOL- we’d love to see it!

April 25th, 2008, 2:28 pm

 

Shual said:

Rowan Berkeley,

The picture of the vessel-construction is only retouched, but the graphic of the fuel channels is a fake. Maybe based on other material, or “eyewitness”. The next question is about the dimensions of the reactor. The newest satellite images are very different from the ISIS-material. The buildung was measured with 47x47m and now we have a completely identical BUILDING. But now its 47x32m. [And I am not starting to argue from the physicans side. The graphic “fuel-channel” is a big joke.]

http://www.spiegel.de/img/0,1020,1161351,00.jpg
http://www.isis-online.org/publications/SuspectSite_24October2007.pdf

The show must and goes on.

April 25th, 2008, 2:29 pm

 

Honest Patriot said:

Why-Discuss, OK, so what solution do you propose? I think you’re more thoughtful than “jama3at yajeb wa yanbaghi.” I suspect you do have a plan to suggest. Share it with us.
Also, I don’t agree that “Lebanese believe they are superior to all the other arab countries because they have the freedom to insult, stir hatred and blame each others for the fate of their country.
The Lebanese are struggling enough to get their own house in order and can’t affort the additional burden of worrying aobut the other Arab countries — except to the extent of help or non-interference these countries can provide to facilitate the solution within Lebanon.
The Lebanese are appropriately proud of their openness and business savvy, relatively high level of education, and ability of those who emigrated to be successful in whatever land they end up in. Now if we could season all this with some real civic sense and social solidarity we’d be all set, won’t we?
Comparison to other Arab countries is not what most Lebanese worry about. It’s not that important.

April 25th, 2008, 2:39 pm

 

Alex said:

HP,

Why are you limiting your scope to Syria Comment? we are just a small group writing in the comments section of a blog.

Look outside and look back … remember when Chirac started to announce his breakup with Bashar Assad? … part of the reason he gave was that Bashar is not reforming Syria’s political system as fast as he promised Chirac! … and the democratic Saudi press never stopped criticizing the Baathist authoritarian system in Syria … and the Egyptians did the same every week for the past few years … Then remember Presidents Bush and Chirac speaking to journalists to express their disappointment every time there was a new Syrian political prisoner …

In Lebanon’s case, and don’t forget Iraq … both are Arab neighbors that are clearly not functioning anymore (for internal and external reasons). We are not limiting our discussions to Lebanon’s messed up political system (reforming it) we always discuss the external influences too (Saudi/Syrian/American/Ianian/Israel/French interference)

True, we are not discussing how to fix Syria’s political system often enough … but that falls under the super category of not discussing the current political systems in other Arab countries which are managing to function in a “normal” way … like Jordan or Egypt or Algeria …

So, It is not like we are discussing (and criticizing) Lebanon’s political system because we do not like Mr. Seniora … we also do not like the King of Jordan …

For your information, I have over the past three years engaged is some endless discussions on this and other blogs to discuss my 7-14 year “plan” (which is now 7-13 years I guess) for political reforms in Syria. Ehsani, Zenobia, and Enlightened (the senior bloggers here) might remember those.

And a final point … for me at least, Lebanon is a probable future partner to Syria … I think it is VERY likely the two countries will unite again within a decade … at least economically, and practically unite, if not politically. So I care a lot more about what happens in Lebanon than about what happens in Algeria.

April 25th, 2008, 3:04 pm

 

SOL said:

T

“How much of the scientists’ seed money came from US taxpayer funding? ”

Yes T the only reason Israel a country of 7 million people has made significant contributions to science and medicine is because of US taxpayer funding. And I’m sure the cancer patient who is being saved by these advances is outraged to know that his/her life is only being saved because the Israeli researchers are the recipients of “seed money from US taxpayer funding.

“Do a little bio-genealogy of press ownership/influence in USA like you’ve done with the scientists, SOL- we’d love to see it!”

I’m working on that list but do you want a list of just print media? If not the list will take some time. When I finish that I will prepare a list of banks and financial institutions owned or manipulated by the Zionist. It’s amazing how a people that make up less then the population of Cairo can have so much power. Just out of curiosity have you been reading The “Protocols of the Elders of Zion lately?

April 25th, 2008, 3:11 pm

 

Alex said:

Shai,

I don’t KNOW for a fact that this was, or was not, a nuclear project (or if it was for peaceful or military application), and I don’t think anyone in Israel or the United States has any moral authority to tell Syria if it is allowed to develop nuclear technology or not. But I will answer your question about what counts out of this whole story, by referring you to this excellent comment by Rowan:

http://joshualandis.com/blog/?p=690#comment-136867

My answer is this : wholesale deception of domestic populations is completely routine in all states, and all intelligence agencies are completely aware of this fact. However, the scale and audacity of such wholesale deceptions continues to be determined by assumptions about centralised control of the mass media in the target states, which are no longer true, because of the Internet. Governments which task the intelligence services, among other things, with orchestrating such deceptions, are not able to react rationally to this change, and tend instead to increase the scale and audacity of such deceptions, as if the problem was simply one of out-bluffing their publics. Naturally, this will continue to produce obviously insane wars, until the systems of governmental secrecy in the states concerned discredit themselves, one by one. What happens after that may be better, or worse. Worse, obviously, would be the systematic suppression of uncontrolled communication on the Internet.

More specifically, the most important issue for me here, and over the past few years, has been the inability of some old fashioned tacticians to realize that they can’t continue to manufacture stories like before without people knowing about it at some point. With You Tube and other internet tools, “the truth” is more easily available to most people … I linked above two videos that show part of the deception of the American government (or army) in the case of the first and second Iraq wars.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9bdZpSact8Q

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9DS3gNUDD_U

So the real question is: what will they do about it? .. systematic suppression of all uncontrolled communication on the internet? .. or will this force them to stop lying and let people decide if they want to support wars or not without the dramas of the crying Kuwaiti witness.

And don’t forget the paid Hariri murder witness

And if you want other examples of failed recent attempts to manufacture reality … look at Mr. Farid Ghadry who they tried to portray as some intelligent Syrian patriot who is a popular opposition leader fighting for democracy in his country. The internet made it easier for all of us to find out who he really is. If it were not for the internet, Farid might have been taken much more seriously by many who did not know better.

You think AIG would not love it if camera.org could better “watch” this and many other blogs? .. watch and limit when needed.

I would not be surprised at all if they are discussing ideas for blogs, You Tube, … and of course Wikipedia.

Thanks to the escalated rate of reliance on deceptions over the past few years, the Untied States is losing its credibility .. the mass media is losing its credibility, and at some point, even the United Nations start to lose its credibility … Mehlis the clown giving interviews and appearing on TV to threaten the Syrians that he will get them, was not too good an image of an impartial judge appointed by the United Nations.

April 25th, 2008, 3:38 pm

 

SOL said:

Bondo

“your dodge, sol, of zionist control of MSM doesnt wash. it shows you have no response. not even real wit”

I agree most Zionists/Jews are thieves, liars and steal newspaper coupons but to accuse me of not having real wit, now you really crossed the line!

“without us taxpayers(and germans) Israelis to include the scientists would be eating dirt. dont forget the stolen ideas – most.”
Out of the total 684 Nobel laureates 22.66% of them have been of Jewish lineage.From a people who comprise just 0.1955% of the world population. First the media then the banks and now it seems the Zionists/Jews control the Nobel Prize Awards Committee also.

April 25th, 2008, 3:46 pm

 

ugarit said:

“The Media Falls for Fake News Once Again
Syrian Nukes: the Phantom Menace

By JOHN W. FARLEY

Last September 6, Israel bombed a Syrian building at Dair el Zor. In the immediate aftermath of the bombing, little was said in public, by either Israel or Syria, but later the Israelis started claiming that the Syrians were building a nuclear reactor. On the radio today (April 25), I heard NPR’s Tom Jelton repeat, as if it were undisputed fact, the US. government claim to have “proof” of a Syrian-North Korean nuclear connection. Now I see that AP writers Pamela Hess and Deb Reichmann have a story headlined “White House says Syria ‘must come clean’ about nuclear work,” while ABC news has a video entitled “Syria’s Nuclear Reactor”.

Are the wonderful mainstream media, who gave us Saddam’s mythical Weapons of Mass Destruction, lying to us again? The answer is yes.

Last fall, journalist Laura Rozen spoke with Joseph Cirincione, director of nuclear policy at the Center for American Progress. Cirincione says
“In attacking Dair el Zor in Syria on Sept. 6, the Israeli air force wasn’t targeting a nuclear site but rather one of the main arms depots in the country. Dair el Zor houses a huge underground base where the Syrian army stores the long and medium-range missiles it mostly buys from Iran and North Korea. The attack by the Israeli air force coincided with the arrival of a stock of parts for Syria’s 200 Scud B and 60 Scud C weapons.”

Cirincione says that there is a small Syrian nuclear research program, which has been around for 40 years and is going nowhere. “It is a basic research program built around a tiny 30 kilowatt reactor that produced a few isotopes and neutrons. It is nowhere near a program for nuclear weapons or nuclear fuel,” he said. Over a dozen countries have helped Syria develop its nuclear program, including Belgium, Germany, Russia, China and even the United States, by way of training of scientists, he said.

So what is really going on here? Cirincione told the BBC that “This appears to be the work of a small group of officials leaking cherry-picked, unvetted ‘intelligence’ to key reporters in order to promote a preexisting political agenda.” The preexisting political agenda may be promoting a war with Syria and/or Iran, or torpedoing negotiations between the US and North Korea. Finally, Cirincione adds ominously “If this sounds like the run-up to the war with Iraq, then it should.”

A big salute to the intrepid Justin Raimundo of the Libertarian website http://www.antiwar.com, who had this all figured out last October 15. This column is much indebted to Raimundo and Rozen. For ABC, AP, Tom Jelton and National Pentagon Radio, it’s just another day of journalistic infamy.

John W. Farley writes from Henderson, Nevada.” — http://counterpunch.org/farley04252008.html

April 25th, 2008, 4:17 pm

 

ugarit said:

http://counterpunch.org/farley04252008.html

“The Media Falls for Fake News Once Again
Syrian Nukes: the Phantom Menace

By JOHN W. FARLEY

Last September 6, Israel bombed a Syrian building at Dair el Zor. In the immediate aftermath of the bombing, little was said in public, by either Israel or Syria, but later the Israelis started claiming that the Syrians were building a nuclear reactor. On the radio today (April 25), I heard NPR’s Tom Jelton repeat, as if it were undisputed fact, the US. government claim to have “proof” of a Syrian-North Korean nuclear connection. Now I see that AP writers Pamela Hess and Deb Reichmann have a story headlined “White House says Syria ‘must come clean’ about nuclear work,” while ABC news has a video entitled “Syria’s Nuclear Reactor”.

Are the wonderful mainstream media, who gave us Saddam’s mythical Weapons of Mass Destruction, lying to us again? The answer is yes.

Last fall, journalist Laura Rozen spoke with Joseph Cirincione, director of nuclear policy at the Center for American Progress. Cirincione says
“In attacking Dair el Zor in Syria on Sept. 6, the Israeli air force wasn’t targeting a nuclear site but rather one of the main arms depots in the country. Dair el Zor houses a huge underground base where the Syrian army stores the long and medium-range missiles it mostly buys from Iran and North Korea. The attack by the Israeli air force coincided with the arrival of a stock of parts for Syria’s 200 Scud B and 60 Scud C weapons.”

Cirincione says that there is a small Syrian nuclear research program, which has been around for 40 years and is going nowhere. “It is a basic research program built around a tiny 30 kilowatt reactor that produced a few isotopes and neutrons. It is nowhere near a program for nuclear weapons or nuclear fuel,” he said. Over a dozen countries have helped Syria develop its nuclear program, including Belgium, Germany, Russia, China and even the United States, by way of training of scientists, he said.

So what is really going on here? Cirincione told the BBC that “This appears to be the work of a small group of officials leaking cherry-picked, unvetted ‘intelligence’ to key reporters in order to promote a preexisting political agenda.” The preexisting political agenda may be promoting a war with Syria and/or Iran, or torpedoing negotiations between the US and North Korea. Finally, Cirincione adds ominously “If this sounds like the run-up to the war with Iraq, then it should.”

A big salute to the intrepid Justin Raimundo of the Libertarian website http://www.antiwar.com, who had this all figured out last October 15. This column is much indebted to Raimundo and Rozen. For ABC, AP, Tom Jelton and National Pentagon Radio, it’s just another day of journalistic infamy.

John W. Farley writes from Henderson, Nevada.”

April 25th, 2008, 4:20 pm

 

Ford Prefect said:

Shai and QN,
Before you vote for me and promise yourselves cabinet posts, which is fine and legitimate, I definitely need to tell you where to send me money first! Stay tuned for that. 😉

But seriously, what in the world is this hapless US administration thinking? I am not sure whether to laugh or cry at such a disclosure.

April 25th, 2008, 4:22 pm

 

PH said:

Canadian Nuclear Expert Draws Doubt on US Allegations

some excerpts :

“”I don’t believe any of them,” John Clearwater said, referring to both U.S. claims and Syrian denials.”

“The U.S. has tried to suggest the photos show a reactor design similar to one built in North Korea 35 years ago, but Clearwater say they also show a design similar to a British one — and the plans for those are publicly available in the British national archives.”

“”My question is: Where were these photos taken and in what year?” Clearwater asked.”

“It’s credible that Syria had some type of research program, but it doesn’t have the wherewithal to run a full nuclear reactor program, he said.

Clearwater also found it curious that given the massive search the U.S. conducted for Iraq’s alleged weapons of mass destruction around the region, “they somehow missed a nuclear reactor.””

April 25th, 2008, 4:30 pm

 

Mark Konrad said:

See Armscontrolwonk for various opinions. Dr James Acton is their in-house Doctor of Theoretical Physics. There are several engineers and weapons specialists who regularly contribute comments at the site. Full text of the Office of the Director of National Intelligence briefing is here.

Stratfor, a site published by ex-military professionals had this to say:

“The problem is the idea that Syria would have a nuclear research facility smack on its border with Turkey.

“Turkish-Syrian relations are not always warm, and in fact are frequently quite nasty. The idea that the Syrians would conduct ultra-secret nuclear research (or store such equipment) on the Turkish border is a little hard to buy. If we were them, we would like to see our valuable nuclear research out of mortar range of a hostile power….”

If you want to view the Stratfor site more than once clear cookies or view the google cache. Stratfor is a subscription site and the owners permit one free look at their articles. You’ll only see a sign-up page after your initial visit.

April 25th, 2008, 4:35 pm

 

ugarit said:

“Lebanon is the first and only country where the transformation to a true democracy is taking place, ”

I beg to differ. Syria had the first functional democracy in the Arab world in the late 1950’s until it was dismantled.

April 25th, 2008, 4:35 pm

 

wizart said:

FP,

Washington has too many people working from 9 till 2 shuffling paper and going through motions that at the end result in less world peace.

The amount of money being wasted pursuing this endless war on terror, homeland security and all kinds of propaganda efforts are insane.

They really need to slim down the highly unjustified defense budget, cut down the massive financial deficits and lower all the tax rates on the hard working people in small businesses who do the real and creative work that add the most value to the U.S economy.

April 25th, 2008, 4:48 pm

 

Alex said:

Bondo and Sol,

I deleted your last couple of comments.

Bondo, you make some valid points, but you go too far and you generalize and you repeat…

Sol, the truth is somewhere between Bondo’s version and yours. You are right about the more than impressive contributions of Jews to arts, charity, science, and other noble causes, and he is partially right about some of his allegations … It is really frustrating for any critic of Israel and those who think they are Israel’s freinds in the west, to be asked if he has been reading The Protocols of the Elders of Zion lately.

Read what ADM says

http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/976471.html

Notice how Colin Powell is sick of the excessive influence of Israel’s “friends”.

Watch this video and tell us if it is a good thing for the Israeli consulates in teh United States to issue a memo to the news media telling them that they should not call Israeli settlements near Jerusalem “settlements” but they should start calling them “Jerusalem suburbs” … and CNN immediately obliged.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eCL6WdnuNp4&feature=related

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mo2HW4T7wK4&feature=related

Having said that, I understand that it is not easy to meet Bondo halfway since he is not interested in meeting you halfway.

April 25th, 2008, 5:08 pm

 

norman said:

FP,

Please do not promise Shai and QN any post before we can talk.

April 25th, 2008, 5:18 pm

 

Nour said:

HP,

I am very critical of the Syrian system, as I also believe it needs a complete overhaul. Any system where on totalitarian party gives itself the right to rule unquestionably, and where corruption is so rampant, is not one that is condusive to effective governance. However, I don’t believe that change can come from anywhere but inside Syria, just as I don’t believe change in Lebanon can come from anywhere but inside Lebanon.

April 25th, 2008, 5:20 pm

 

Nour said:

QN,

I appreciate your sincerity and definitely understand your frustration. We are all frustrated with the current situation. With respect to the Resistance, there is no doubt that ideally the Lebanese Army should be in charge of defending the homeland. However, the problem we have always had in Lebanon is that there has never been a political will to commit to defense of the homeland. This is where the problem arises between the Resistance and other political forces. If the Resistance is to be incorporated into the Army without any agreement on a defense strategy, and with the same traditional political position in Lebanon toward national defense, then it would effectively mean the end of the Resistance, which has proven to be the most effective means of defending Lebanon.

I agree with you about the problems facing Lebanon, but I simply don’t see how the traditional sectarian leaders will ever agree to change or reform the system. They benefit from it too much. I believe that change has to begin at the grassroots level. It is the people that gives these sectarian/tribal chieftains legitimacy, which in turn allows them to act with impunity and without any accountability. Once our society transforms, however, into one where all citizens regard each other as equals, and no one group fears other groups in the nation, then there will be no more place for traditional sectarian lords, and a better system will assuredly be born. But this is going to take quite a bit of time. I simply see no other solution in the meantime.

April 25th, 2008, 5:42 pm

 

Qifa Nabki said:

Ammo Norman,

Don’t try to derail the understanding I have with FP. You can join our “list” if you like, but I will not be prevented from my ministry.

—-

Why-Discuss said:

Lebanese believe they are superior to all the other arab countries because they have the freedom to insult, stir hatred and blame each others for the fate of their country.

No, Lebanon is superior to other Arab countries — in this particular area — because the Lebanese have the freedom to … say whatever they want. Sometimes that means stirring hatred, sometimes not. You see, my dear Why-Discuss, freedom of speech is highly inconvenient, but absolutely fundamental.

I love how you’re coming to lecture us on democracy. Yes, sorry, we in Lebanon have a pathetic joke of a democracy. Please, HELP us! We also don’t have a particle accelerator, nor do we have an aircraft industry or a biotech sector. Can you assist there as well?

Many things can facilitate the emergence of democracy. Some are rather mechanical (a level of economic prosperity; strong security forces, centralized state institutions, etc.) and others are more intangible (freedoms of speech and association, strong press, higher levels of literacy/education/individualism, etc.) I would argue that Lebanon possesses the intangibles, and the process we are witnessing right now is the process of the gradual disenfranchisement of the old sectarianism, and the emergence of the state.

It will take time, but we are on the right track.

April 25th, 2008, 5:46 pm

 

Alex said:

Mark,

What makes it even less logical to build this nuclear site near Turkey (And Iraq) is that the United States is claiming that the project started in 1997.

Given how Turkey was giving Syria “final warnings” at the time … how stupid do the Syrians need to be to decide to build a top secret site near Turkey? .. Turkey was about to invade Syria!

And given that since 2002 when it was clear that this administration was going to take over Iraq with real indications that Syria is next … would it make any sense to continue working with the Koreans on nuclear projects near the Iraqi (American) border? .. especially after WMD’s were used as the excuse for invading Iraq (in addition to lack of democracy, which also suited Syria’s case)

And … the whole thing is not protected by anything … and it is exposed to commercial satellites … as if the Syrians never heard that the Untied States has access to satellite images or that Israel has many friends in the Pentagon …

Naji, I have a comment on Ihsan Attar’s fears that it is due to total failure of Syria’s intelligence to protect this site and to allow some Israeli spy to take pictures of everything, especially of the two heads of nuclear research in Syria and North Korea posing happily for his camera:

Do you remember the early stages of the Hariri investigation? … when everyone believed that the Syrians are so stupid that they did it and got caught a month later … that the four Lebanese generals (heads of security agencies) ALL met publicly in some easily discoverable apartment to plan the assassination, and that Maher Assad and Asef Shawkat were so stupid to actually meet in person with Al-Saddiq and tell him they ordered the killing … and that Bashar the idiot threatened Hariri to kill him not knowing that Hariri had the top secret pen (gift from Chirac) that recorded proof of Assad’s threats …

I think the Syrians have been in power long enough to know NOT to pose for family pictures with visiting Korean nuclear research chief when they are supposedly planning a top secret nuclear weapons production facility.

If that photo was real, then it is almost a good proof that there was nothing related to nuclear weapons about cooperating with the Koreans, and especially with that particular Korean gentleman.

April 25th, 2008, 5:48 pm

 

ugarit said:

Alex:

My postings for this article are no longer appearing. Can you look into it?

April 25th, 2008, 5:58 pm

 

wizart said:

Nour Said earlier:

“Today, the current government is controlled by a group that wants to enforce US commands and eliminate the resistance in Lebanon. It wants to take decisions legitimizing foreign intervention to isolate, weaken, and eventually dismantle the national resistance. Given that many people see this as an issue of life or death, they are not going to idly stand by and hope for the best next elections. To many people, the Resistance is the true army of Lebanon, and it is the one institution that can actually protect Lebanon and defend its land. All this of course goes back to the lack of a true state in the country.

To give a hypothetical, would it be possible for a given government in one of the advanced countries to decide that it wants to dismantle the Army? I know that you would answer the hypothetical by saying that the Army is a state institution and thus a government cannot simply eliminate state institution. That is true. But in Lebanon, because there has always been a lack of political will to build a strong army capable of portecting the country, a resistance arose that took on that role. The people that saw their lands liberated and defended by this Resistance cannot possibly accept that one government can come by and just decide to eliminate the best means of defending the country.

Finally, with respect to governments stepping down, this is actually a common occurrence in many democracies. When the people become so opposed to a government that they themselves elected, they may express such opposition through demonstrations, sit-ins, acts of civil disobedience, etc. and those governments may very well step down and make way for new elections as they see that their policies are not popular with the public. De Gaulles for example, did exactly that. Sanioura, on the other hand, when he was faced with 1.5 million demonstrators demanding that he step down responded “I am staying, staying, staying.” Then he proceeded to write an article praising the Saudi King 😛 . ”

Nour,

Nice observation. How do we get rid of those chieftains who’ve been in charge for generations and now benefit so much from the status quo? It’s like getting rid of mafia bosses without having a police force or a justice system that can hold them accountable. We should not expect those chieftains to fix a system that sustains them. They game the system and dress up to work every morning to complain and argue endlessly as if thats considered work worth paying for.

April 25th, 2008, 5:58 pm

 

Qifa Nabki said:

Nour,

I’ve always suspected that you are actually “Lebanese” but didn’t like to use the term because you don’t believe that there is such a thing as a “Lebanese”; we are all Shamis. Is that true?

😉

With respect to your response, I’m in near complete agreement with you. We need grassroots movements. But this is why I’m optimistic. In the past three years, Lebanon has been going through a truly remarkable process. People moan and groan and say that it is more of the same, that it is representative of Lebanon’s typical failures to function as a state, etc.

But I disagree. I see the current struggles as substantively different. We finally have politicians discussing things like the Constitution, the electoral law, the future of the country, the future of the resistance, the Ta’if Accord, the Palestinians refugees, etc. These are the big existential issues. We have nonprofits emerging that focus on monitoring institutional transparency. We have groups dedicated to monitoring parliamentarians and holding them accountable, and groups devoted to agitating for clean government.

Maybe I’m an optimist, I accept that. But I find this all extremely promising. Now if we can just find a way to inch forward…

April 25th, 2008, 6:00 pm

 

Honest Patriot said:

Alex,

The last two videos in your post above
http://joshualandis.com/blog/?p=690#comment-136939
are indeed extremely powerful. It is utterly frustrating that will all their resources and all the time at their hand for decades, the Arab nations have not been able to muster the right competence to fight this media and PR war more effectively. Therein is the intrinsic weakness leading over and over to their defeat.

It is in reporting and arguments like these, appropriate lobbying, and effective, competent advocacy that the Palestinian cause can be advanced and eventually resolved. It is not by using the hopelessly irrational dithyrambes of a Bondo nor by resorting to wanton attacks against the innocent civilians who bear no guilt in this tragedy.

Alas, not enough coverage is made of the utter and unfair misery to which the Palestinians are subjected. At least not in the U.S.
Who can blame Israel and its supporters from using all means at their disposal to fight this media war? What is stopping the Arabs from successfully countering?
I’ll tell you what: it is the squandering of resources in attempting to achieve vain goals based on lunatic illusions of what power they have. Hence the defeats of ’67 and others. Followed by rejection (No peace, no recognition, no negotiations) which would and should have avoided all these additional chapters of misery.

It is truly heart wrenching to view these videos. More than the Israelis are to blame. To me the mentality of folks like Bondo is to blame. What a waste and misdirection of energies!

April 25th, 2008, 6:02 pm

 

Nur al-Cubicle said:

Bashar has told Olmert to take a hike. Says there will be no deals as long as Bush is in power. Regime change, baby!

April 25th, 2008, 6:08 pm

 

Alex said:

HP,

The Arabs are to blame indeed. “The Arabs” are often as hypocrite as we heard from Qaddafi at the Damascus summit.

And Bondo style attacks on “the Jews” are not helpful at all … they surely reinforce the impression that the Jews are indeed surrounded only by people who want them all dead.

But … my point is that it is STUPID from Israel’s friends to do what they are doing. They are repulsive … When Colin Powell says “they want to tell me how to piss and for how long” … you know that something is wrong.

Powell was out of course… Israel’s friends (Cheney and neocons) stayed to cause more mass killings in the Middle East… so, they “won” … but did they really?

Their “success” is circular … it already passed its peak usefulness and it is starting to move forward towards more “success” … but in an increasingly negative direction … they are starting to hurt Israel … and if they continue doing what they are doing, they will start exposing Israel to real existential danger.

The scary thing is that the robotic lobbyists are not wise enough to see it coming … they have fallen for the classic “why should I stop … I have been winning so far”

Do you know how many times I read on different blogs “the Jews (the neocons) are responsible for those million dead Iraqis … they will have to pay for it”

They think they will remain powerful and influential forever … they think all those who die on the weaker side (the Arabs) can be quickly forgotten and that there will be no future massive revenge to make them pay for their pushing for those wars (iraq, Lebanon … and maybe Iran or Syria later)

And the most dangerous thing in their mentality is the self righteous attitude … as if whatever they decide to do is “good” because THEY are “good” … if they continue lying, killing, and oppressing … what exactly is “good” about them? … “democracy”?

April 25th, 2008, 6:24 pm

 

Shai said:

Alex,

Maybe there’s massive manipulation going on with this entire “episode”. And, maybe there isn’t. Maybe that building in eastern Syria was nothing more than a deserted Army base (like Syria claimed), and maybe it was a near-ready reactor soon capable of producing small quantities of Plutonium. Since no one here knows for sure which it is, I think all these “expert” opinions are at best speculation, and at worst, attempts at manipulation. I haven’t seen one comment here, which cannot be interpreted as manipulation (including my own). But none of us know the truth, so what’s the point of speculating? What if this is “one time” when the CIA is one hundred percent correct? What if Syria really had/has an active secret nuclear program? I said above that I almost prefer that to be the case, and that Israel would know about it. Unlike many in Israel, I believe such a situation would help us reach peace faster, not slower. But this is one of those cases, where if we don’t know the truth, we don’t know who to “crucify” – the media, the CIA, the Bush administration, Syria… etc. I find most of the arguments to be quite useless, to be honest.

It’s like pointing out after the U.S. invaded Iraq (the first time), that there aren’t really any WMD’s. UNSCOM had hundreds of people on the ground, cars, helicopters, intelligence, you name it. And it had the authority to do surprise visits anywhere in the country it wanted, with no warning whatsoever. So initially they found a few things, and soon enough, almost nothing. For 4 years this went on, with no bonanza. “Experts” and “Analysts” told everyone “You see? WMD program, hah!” Very much like they’re saying today, after the second invasion of Iraq. EXCEPT, that something did happen in 1995, which changed the entire picture. Saddam’s son-in-law, who knew about anything and everything almost in Iraq, defected. And in Jordan, he proceeded to tell Western intelligence services where everything was. And, within weeks, UNSCOM “suddenly” began finding things, and in very substantial quantities. Iraq suddenly decided to “clarify things”. The game of cat and mouse had a nasty turnout for the Iraqi regime.

And nowadays, the same experts are saying the same stuff about Saddam. I once heard some Arab commentator say “Give us one reason why Saddam should NOT have had WMD’s also between 1998-2003?” And, not knowing whether one day WMD’s will be found by some archeologist digging in some mountain range, or not, I found the question to be reasonable. I couldn’t rule it out, simply based on “findings”, or lack thereof, by coalition forces on the ground these past 4-5 years. I still remembered what happened in 1995, 4 years after UNSCOM began searching the entire country of Iraq.

Like I said above, I don’t think any of this matters. But let’s also not be so sure that we know the truth. I, at least, don’t.

April 25th, 2008, 6:31 pm

 

offended said:

Alright, let’s for the heck of it assume that Syria was indeed intending to build a nuclear reactor in Al Kabeer. Is it legally indicting to Syria that she had the reactor under construction (or commissioning or whatever) even though it was void of any nuclear fuel and the purpose of it is not even clear??

What is the facility was for peaceful purposes??

Of course, I am not the least convinced with this CIA BS. But it grates on my nerve that we are put to the defensive by bunch of intelligence goons.

Honest Patriot
I wonder how could you put ‘credibility’ and ‘CIA’ or ‘MI6’ in one sentence. I thought as a man of science your inquisitive mind should intuitively lead you to discredit the CIA after the Iraq WMD fiasco.

April 25th, 2008, 6:31 pm

 

Shai said:

Offfended,

If Israel and Iran have a right to nuclear technology, why doesn’t Syria? The attack was illegal no matter what was there, but I can certainly understand the reasons behind it, if indeed it was a reactor soon ready to produce plutonium. Having said that, I strongly disagreed with the attack, because it could have plunged us immediately into a terrible regional war. The gamble Olmert and Barak took, in my mind, was unjustified.

April 25th, 2008, 6:52 pm

 

Alex said:

Shai,

Nice to DISagree with you for a change : )

Please note that I am not SURE that it was not a nuclear weapons facility … I just think it is PROBABLY not… and I am giving all the reasons why in my mind it adds up to that probability.

And that was what I always said here when the strike took place.

But I will repeat that what I care about is the fact that it is not good to lose respect and trust in the United States … thanks to the repeated P.R. stunts, we now know that the Untied States government is not to be trusted automatically … and thanks to Mehlis, we know that the United Nations is not to be trusted … and thanks to Mr. Murdoch who is buying Fox and the London Times and converting them to right wing propaganda tools, “the media” is not to be trusted either …

So who do we trust? … don’t you see what is happening? … we can’t trust the Americans, we can’t trust the Zionists, we can’t trust the Saudis, we can’t trust the Arab media which is msotly financed by the Saudis, we can’t trust Imad Moustapha, and we can’t trust Wikipedia …

The Soviet Union collapsed partly because people did not have any moral anchors … this is happening elsewhere now.

April 25th, 2008, 6:54 pm

 

Qifa Nabki said:

Habibna ya Alex

Since when did the Arab world ever trust the U.S.?

i7tara2et al-thi2a min zamaaaaaaan…

April 25th, 2008, 7:03 pm

 

Honest Patriot said:

Offended,

You said “Honest Patriot, I wonder how could you put ‘credibility’ and ‘CIA’ or ‘MI6′ in one sentence. I thought as a man of science your inquisitive mind should intuitively lead you to discredit the CIA after the Iraq WMD fiasco.”
Fair enough. But data doesn’t lie; it’s humans’ interpretation that’s fallible. Also, I’m not sure it’s the CIA that gave the bad data. MI6 is a different story. In the end, once fooled twice a fool, and, as my son extrapolated, three times you’re an idiot.
I’m not disagreeing with you Offended. It’s just all so confusing. Makes you wonder, now that we have a good history of the Peloponnesian war, what people in that era were assuming and what they would have said to each other had blogging existed then.

April 25th, 2008, 7:06 pm

 

Shai said:

Alex,

I’m sorry to disagree with you, but we’re not at a disagreement! 🙂

I’m not suggesting that this WAS a reactor, nor am I attributing probabilities. I don’t think, with all due respect, that anyone here (including “experts” in nuclear technology and N. Korean reactors, and British reactors) can tell whether this was, or wasn’t. Only those privy to the intelligence can pass judgement, speculate, provide probabilities. The rest of us, without exception, can’t. It’s as if I said to you that I’m willing to bet $100,000 with anyone, that tomorrow morning, there’s a 99% probability that Libya will attack Israel. And tomorrow shows up, and Libya hasn’t attacked. So do I lose my $100,000? No, I said only 99%, not that I was absolutely, 100% sure. None of us know for sure, so none of us should speculate or try to convince one another why it is or it isn’t likely that it was a reactor.

As for trusting the media, or anyone. You said “… we now know that the Untied States government is not to be trusted automatically…” I believe none of us ever trusted any government automatically. We’re not that naive anymore, that’s true. But it’s just like choosing which part of what story of what paper you’re going to trust today, and which you aren’t. But since we’re not going to trust someone automatically, that doesn’t mean that we’re automatically going to distrust, right? We should hear the story, hear the so-called evidence, and make up our own mind. Governments, and CIA’s, and the media (Jewish, Arab, Zionist, Baathist, whatever) all have lied and manipulated. But they don’t do so all the time. We have to treat them like a newspaper, believe what seems to make sense (to us) at that moment, and disbelieve what doesn’t. We can also change our mind, that’s one freedom no one has taken from us yet.

April 25th, 2008, 7:08 pm

 

SOL said:

“Bondo and Sol,

I deleted your last couple of comments.

Bondo, you make some valid points, but you go too far and you generalize and you repeat…”

Alex,

Are you kidding me? You have a problem with me rhetorically asking “have you read The Protocols of the Elders of Zion?” to T, who wrote “they just dont own the media to equally aggrandize themselves like the jewish faction- which controls our media” but do not have any problems with the following?

” zionism(and predatory capitalism) is the low point in human development.”

“wait! I forgot. zionists have elevated the art of stealing and murdering and deceiving blaming and lying to unheard of levels.”

And finally equating Zionism to Nazism…

” you forgot to list the wonders created by the german nazis and given to the world and without the world having to provide massive welfare.”

Where is your sense of proportion and fairness? I guess writing something blatantly hateful and mean spirited is the same as asking someone who infers Jews control the media if he has read The Protocols of the Elders of Zion.

I forgot you did reprimand him “ he just went to far with his generalizations”!!!!! Kudos

April 25th, 2008, 7:09 pm

 

Alex said:

QN,

Not the Arab world … Americans and Europeans!

here:

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/americas/7324337.stm

note the negative ratings of the US and regarding “the Media” that I keep attacking, read this part:

Honesty

But some developed countries which strongly believed in press freedom were critical of their own media’s honesty and accuracy.

In the United States, Britain and Germany, only around 29% of those interviewed thought their media did a good job in reporting news accurately.

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/in_depth/7134918.stm

Trust me … when I am very concerned about something, it is not only, and always, because I am defending Syria : )

April 25th, 2008, 7:09 pm

 

Mark Konrad said:

Alex,

I tend to agree. Your ref about hostile relations between the Turks and Syrians in 1997 is a notable point.

In the first place, any industrial size nuclear facility constructed by a non-traditional nuclear state is going to create very public international concern. In the age of satellite surveillance and extremely sensitive, long-range detection devices a nuclear project cannot be kept secret for long no matter where it’s built. The Syrians are perfectly aware of that. If they WERE building some sort of nuclear processing facility it seems logical they would have been a bit more careful where they built it, and how well they disguised it and protected it from air attack. From all appearances this building was essentially a big square warehouse type structure right out in the open desert.

Shortly after the raid some of the nook techs/engineers over at armscontrolwonk.com were further opining on technical issues that cast a doubt or two on the Israeli claims here and here.

April 25th, 2008, 7:22 pm

 

Alex said:

Sol,

I’m sorry if I sounded too critical. I generally like your sensible comments and I wrote many times specifically to agree with you.

As I indicated to Bondo, I do not think that universally criticizing Israel is fair, and I definitely do not think that Zionism is the lowest point in humanity … I wrote before that Israel’s crimes are a VERY small fraction of Nazi crimes, for example.

But … please understand that I, and many other secular and peace loving people here have had enough with AIG and Akbar Palace trying to shut us up from even the most polite criticism of Israel through their two tactics

1) if you criticize Israel then you are antisemitic … sometimes they tell you that you don’t know it but you are (like you should seek councelling)

2) If you criticize Israel then you are a lunatic … you probably bought and read The Protocols of the Elders of Zion and you believe it… adn you probably believe in all conspiracy theories.

I realize that you did not overdo it, T and Bondo did go far in their generalizations, I agree, and thank you for letting me know.

April 25th, 2008, 7:23 pm

 

Naji said:

Offended,
Unlike Israel, Syria is a signatory of the NPT treaty and, if it had a nuclear program, it should have declared it. Also, contrary to what our Syria-lover “sworn enemy” is suggesting, ambiguity in these matters, despite being a powerful weapon, is a weapon that only Israel (or an equally good friend of the US, if there is such a thing) can afford. Transparency would have been Syria’s best weapon in this case, and still can be very effective now if Syria could come up with compelling evidence on the actual use that that silly building was being put to. It might even have been somebody’s harebrained idea of a nuclear project of some sort, at some time, but it definitely was no more than some old disused building, as was Bashar’s first declaration (perhaps storing some mas’ools looty!) at the time of the strike. Of course, after eight months and very efficient “cleaning up” of the site by our clever guys, it is now much harder to prove the negative…!! That would explain the “why now” question that everybody is asking…! I don’t have to spell out the rest of the scenario, but, needless to say, nobody now really cares that Powell was humiliated… and least of all, Saddam or the Iraqi people…!! Tariq Aziz is going on trial soon, not Colin Powell…!!

This is an extremely serious escalation of the pressure on Syria, guys…!! Adding IAEA inspections to the other farce (Hariri Tribunal), combined with the PPP carrot, might just force our Bibo’s hand, even if the scenario I outlined above (summer campaign) does not materialize…!! No laughing matter, for sure…!! This would also lose us our grand defense strategy that QN cleverly described…!!

April 25th, 2008, 7:23 pm

 

Alex said:

Naji

If today’s Neocons and their friends decide to escalate using every pressure tool in their possession, then they will force Syria and its friends to reciprocate.

I don’t know how many more decades it takes before they understand it, but … Syria will not respond to political pressure and to P.R. tricks in the way they hope to see… Hamas won’t, Hizbollah won’t. Iraq’s Muqtada Sadr won’t, Iran won’t …

If they are planning to keep the Syrians busy and humiliated with Iraq-like long term IAEA inspections .. there won’t be time to do those inspections … everyone will be busy with more pressing challenges on the ground.

Basically if they want to play dirty, the Middle East is full of countries that know how to play dirty.

Of course there is the peace negotiations “carrot” that Syria is offering them … if they don’t like carrots, then there is not much to hope for.

But I hope that there is a good chance the next few months will pass with Syria managing to survive all that wonderful pressure without much more risk to stability of the Middle East.

April 25th, 2008, 7:43 pm

 

Rowan Berkeley said:

Shai, on your blog you say

“Only two still photographs” – There are NO photographs in the video and the shown graphics are from different times. Second one before the pressure vessel was finished and the first one with the fuel channels. If the graphics are based on photos, Mr. Spy visited the site two or several times. But the first checks of the two graphics are not really compelling: Both graphics show a window that can be used to check the proportions of the room. And the room with the fuel channels is much bigger than the room with the vessel. Has anybody read the famous book “The Syrian art of making rooms bigger and enlarge the diameter of a 15t or something steel and grafite-vessels”?”

You can’t just assert that a repeatedly copied and re-copied photograph is fake. I have spent months watching the 911 truthlings exhaust themselves with such arguments. You need to remember that unless you can somehow get hold of the original releases of the photos, you are only talking about low quality re-copies. It has even been argued by a few conspirologists that the photos are deliberately low-grade for this very reason.

April 25th, 2008, 7:46 pm

 

Alex said:

Bondo,

When you have proof that ALL Jews support Israel’s crimes against the Palestinians, and when you have proof that ALL Maronites believe they are superior, then it might be a bit more understandable fro you to “Artack Jews” or “attack Maronites”.

Until then, it is not right, and it is not fair and it is not constructive.

Please slow down the attacks against any GENERAL GROUP.

As I said before, you can attack SPECIFIC actions or statements or policies or individuals who are clearly responsible for anything bad.

April 25th, 2008, 7:51 pm

 

wizart said:

The only defense Syria needs is more people like Simo, Alex, Naji, Zenobia, Nour, HP, Enlightened, Offended, Ehsani, FP and politically incorrect souls?! like (Bon T Sol), Kifa Nabki, Shai, Atassi and Majhoul? The Landis clan gets credit for keeping the orchestra energized and ever more hopeful that peace maybe over the horizon 🙂

P.S: We need better enemies and more diverse friends! We don’t have Arab Israelis here, nor Gulf, Turkish or German bloggers on this blog! We could probably find Landis’ students very interesting if they ever party-cipate as concerned and enlightened American citizens. We love fair playing Americans and don’t believe the action of a few misguided ones should tarnish the image of all Americans. Anyway, my opinion.

April 25th, 2008, 7:55 pm

 

SOL said:

Alex,
I am also very critical of certain Israeli policies, just as I’m critical of French, British and Saudi etc. policies at times but from a rational balanced perspective, the below comments just posted by Bondo, I hope you agree, are completely different…..

“i attack injustice. if jews support zionists, zionism i will attack. if “christians” support zionists/zionism, i attack. i call them monkeys. they arent even close to Christ”
“i will attack the maronites in the same way. they think they are another chosen sort- chosen by the french. strange god that.”

April 25th, 2008, 7:58 pm

 

Alex said:

SOL,

Please read my previous comment above.

Rowan,

I agree with your observation about the difficulty of trying to analyze these low resolution online photos that we received after they have been repeatedly through different jpeg compressions.

But … do we know if the photos are from Digital Cameras or scanned from printed analog camera films?

That should be easy to know.

It might be useful to know .. because about three or four years ago, almost everyone in Syria had digital cameras. If the photo with that Korean visitor looked likd it was scanned from a film printout, then that might be an indication it was an old photo.

Assuming it is real, and keeping in mind that if he is who he is supposed to be, then it was unlikely that there was anything secret about his visit (otherwise they would not have posed for this stupid photo)

April 25th, 2008, 7:58 pm

 

Mark Konrad said:

Syria denies US claims of a secret nuclear program

By ALBERT AJI
Associated Press Writer

Fri, 25 April 2008

DAMASCUS, Syria – Syria’s president scoffed at U.S. claims that his country was building a nuclear reactor at a site attacked by Israel seven months ago, according to excerpts of an interview published Friday.

President Bashar Assad questioned the logic of such allegations and insisted that the site was an unused military facility.

“Is it logical for a nuclear site to be left without protection and not guarded by anti-aircraft guns?” Assad told the Qatari newspaper Al-Watan.

“A nuclear site under the watch of satellites in the middle of Syria in the desert and in an open location?” Assad said.

He reiterated that the site destroyed by the Israelis was “a Syrian military position under construction and not a nuclear reactor.

April 25th, 2008, 8:05 pm

 

Friend in America said:

There has been some deliberate obfuscation of the nuclear plant story on this site by not disclosing the CIA testimony itself (with the pictures) but instead combining the story with the so called secret discussions with Israel knowing it would invite endless comments here. And it did. Many participants fell for it.

Akbar Palace, Simouhartta, Offended and Uhgarit, and others:
I have reported here repeatedly the facts that made a nuclear conclusion the only logical one. In this I have not been alone. To pretend that the government in Damascus would not discuss the facility, pass up an incredible p.r. bonanza by refusing to let reporters visit the site, bulldoze the site after the raid and erect a simple nothing building in its place (but leaving the pumping station on the Euphrates intact) and observing Syria’s Ambassador giving three different explanations in 8 days none of which made sense (each of which were discussed on this site), is ignoring the obvious. Add to that the obvious realization Israel would not risk such a militarily and politically dangerous undertaking without having very good evidence there was a clear and present danger to its security. We also are ignoring the fact that these films were taken by israeli commandos who secretly visited the site in July – 2 months before the raid.
Sy Hersch was 100% wrong, once again.
There was no nuclear material at the site when bombed but it was expected imminently. So, take the facility out before there would be a risk of nuclear contamination. The JP article said the the Syrian facility resembled the Yongbyon nuclear facility in North Korea and it was the Yongbyon facility that had made small amounts of plutonium – it did not say the Syria had any production. Why bomb the plant in Daw Az Sawr? Because it was a plutonium type facility. Preferred for nuclear weapons, plutonium is not a good fuel for a reactor generating electricity – far too expensive. Of course placing anti aircraft weapons at the site would be unwise – it would attract the attention of the intelligence agencies. Rule that out.
Was it an electrical power plant? No power lines. Rule that one out also.

The reason for the public disclosure in Washington is not frustration with Syria. So relax. It is North Korea. Talks have stalled once again. The North Korean negotiators have reneged on their promises. Although I do not agree with his approach on North Korea, John Bolton is correct in saying a resolution that would provide nuclear safety in eastern Asia is unlikly at this time (this statement will make Sy Hersch go bonkers but it is the correct conclusion). Here’s why.
The civilian element of the N.K. government would be happy to dump the entire nuclear thing, create trade and other friendly relations with South Korea and elsewhere and invest in economic improvement to raise N.K.’s standard of living. But they are stymied.
The military has its grip on the government. For over 40 years the military insisted the country was in imminent danger of invasion by the south and a strong military presence was necessary. It has taken as much as 50% of the national budget for its own uses. The military controls the nuclear program, not the civilian government. About 15 years ago the military turned to exporting its nuclear know-how to obtain revenue (for its own uses). It is the military in N.K. that is intransigent about retaining a nuclear capacity, and until the civilians get the upper hand, things will remain the same. The present U.S. strategy is to bolster the key N.K. civilians in their difficult situation.

In the meantime Damascus is left hanging unable to explain why it violated the terms of the international nuclear disarmament treaty which it signed.

April 25th, 2008, 9:05 pm

 

Alex said:

FIM,

If your compelling evidence is more or less: Syria’s inexplicable passing of an opportunity to prove the American administration wrong by proving it was not a nuclear weapons site, then I hope you can respect all the other counter arguments … they are logical to most of us here just like the first argument is logical to you.

To you it is absolutely yes, to us it is probably not… that’s all.

April 25th, 2008, 9:11 pm

 

Mark Konrad said:

Was an electrical power plant? With no power lines??

Neither incoming power lines nor outgoing power lines. If it were a nuclear processing facility, electrical power is required to perform that work. Were they running the facility on generators located inside the structure? Were the incoming powerlines underground? If yes, are there satellite or other photographs of the trenchwork required to install those from the nearest electrical station or tower?

April 25th, 2008, 9:18 pm

 

Friend in America said:

Alex – Agreed and thanks for the response.

Mark K: I do not have that information. But, not all power lines are the same. The amount of power needed to operate a nuclear plant, while significant, in no way compares to the massive multi towers and heavy lines necessary to carry the plant’s production. It was the large power lines that I was focusing on. But let’s see if more information is available.

April 25th, 2008, 9:43 pm

 

T said:

Alex,

“I don’t know how many more decades it takes before they understand it, but … Syria will not respond to political pressure and to P.R. tricks in the way they hope to see… Hamas won’t, Hizbollah won’t. Iraq’s Muqtada Sadr won’t, Iran won’t”

Please note the group listed above, The Noncompliants that dont buckle under political pressure, are labeled “terrorists” by the hegeomons who can not subdue or buy them. But you forgot Venezuela in there too…

Questions to the scientists on the blog- Donald Rumsfeld was on the board of directors of ABB, the Corp that built the North Korean nuke reactors to begin with. Why wasnt he called to testify? His insight would have been critical. (Like the Korean-Syrian handshake photos, we could pull up the infamous Rumsfeld-Saddam handshake photo as evidence of something or other).

April 25th, 2008, 9:44 pm

 

T said:

There were more than half a dozen stories circulated by the US-Israel PR machine to jusitfy this attack over the last 9 mos. None of them completely plausible, or even consistent with each other. Unless unbiased nuclear inspectors diagnose the site with air-tight, physical , scientific evidence- all the rest is just more propaganda. That goes for both sides.

Or do you still believe that Iraq had WMDs? If so please see my prior entry from the Jreusalem Post on how the Israelis were going to ‘indicate’ that the Syrian facility was actually the recipient of Saddam’s missing WMDs, and that is why they had to bomb.

Too many “may have” and “possibly in future” “could have beens” etc etc circumstantial “proofs” to excuse this act of war- it was the Syrians who were violated here- and not Israel.

April 25th, 2008, 10:18 pm

 

Ford Prefect said:

Regarding the supposed Syrian nuclear plant (“Syrian” and “nuclear” in the same sentence? Nice oxymoron!) If Syria was determined to build such a plant with the help of the Koreans, wouldn’t have been more logical of them to ask the Iranians to help instead of the half-hungry, half-deranged Northern Koreans?

And who do you think would be financing such an endeavor for Syria – as nuclear bombs tend to be a bit pricey for Syrian purse? For example, the Pakistani bomb wouldn’t have been possible without the huge Saudi cash influx that was started with King Faisal.

So here it is again for the group:

Question: Who do you think is the financier (even at sub-prime rates)of the alleged Syrian nuclear bomb?

Answer: A. Iran. B. March 14 (AKA Hariri Enterprises, Inc.) C. Saudi Arabia D. Paris Hilton

April 25th, 2008, 10:19 pm

 

T said:

FP,

Donald Rumsfeld and his new defense firm.

April 25th, 2008, 10:22 pm

 

Mark Konrad said:

FRIEND IN AMERICA,

Okay fair enough. And while we’re waiting for that information I’d also be curious to find out where the nearest high voltage source to the facility is located. One kilometer? Two? More? I’m surmising that the structure was in a relatively isolated or remote area.

Laying one kilometer of underground conduit at a shallow depth (150 cm say) in level, forgiving ground is a two week project if things go well. Maybe a week if you really throw men and equipment at the job. Rocky, caliche type soil and variations in landscape and topography complicate things, naturally. As you stated, significant electrical power is required to process nuclear materials. Given the amount of Israeli, American and other satellite surveillance of the region there should be images somewhere of trenchwork being performed in the area of that structure for the purposes of providing electricity to the building, even if the Syrians had to dig only one kilometer. If the Israelis can provide those photos that will strengthen their case considerably. If they can’t I remain rather sceptical. If it were a big warehouse or similar the Syrians could have lit the place with a few Honda generators and not needed a connection to the electricity grid at all.

April 25th, 2008, 10:33 pm

 

Shual said:

Rowan Berkeley,

wait a second: From the start, I said that I will belive it if the Israelis show their evidences. But we are now talking about something different: A CIA-show with the function: http://www.moonofalabama.org/images/noko/show27.jpg

The problem here is that it [the Reactor Computer Model] does NOT match the dimensions of the photo “fuel-channel” AND not the earlier photo “vessel”. The word MATCH for a model of 24x20m for a room that is 20x16m is a joke.

The dimensions in the photo “fuel-channel” http://www.moonofalabama.org/images/noko/show9.jpg have nothing to do with real dimensions [shown in the Yongbyon-photo], cause the proportions of the fuel rods is impossible. If you please will look at the Yonbyon again you can see persons. You can see the perspectively rule that 1m in the back is one fuel rod in the front. You can see that one fuel rod is about 0,45m in the back. The fuel rods on the ground in front of the “al-Kibar”-picture are perfectly corresponding with “the door” in the back in that law. But the fuel rods in the back have a dimension of 0,8m. If the grapic is true the room has to be about 32x28m and this does not … match the satellite photos. They are using satellite-images provided from ISIS, the same commercial pictures [Aug 10 2007] we already saw. And we saw that the construction of the building was finished a long time ago [I think it was 2005]. The CIA still has no other material or wants to escape disturbing questions why nobody in the Senate has learned about a construction of a NUCLEAR REACTOR in Syria in 2003 or 2005. All other questions: Timetable, security, waste management, chemical facility and the major question Nuclear FUEL are not answered. Allegations.

This all has nothing to do with the existence of REAL evidences. I have some affirmations of people that I can trust enough to belive that there is material enough to proove a nuclear construction. Thats enough for me. And I never heard from THEM that what I heared now:

The White House and its allegation “Syria wanted Nukes” is a different story. And if they want to “proove” that different allegation with a cheap and faked slideshow, they really can kiss my tiny …. But on the other hand… I am glad. Channel2 reported early April that they will show evidence of Saddams WMDs in Syria. I am glad to here that Bush will cook up this story not today but in front of christmas.

April 25th, 2008, 10:40 pm

 

norman said:

QN,

I guess with Lebanon as part of Syria , You are eligible to be in the Greater Syria’s Government , Shai too for the same reason . When Israel joins.

April 25th, 2008, 10:56 pm

 

Rowan Berkeley said:

Now that I have the screen shots, via Moon of Alabama, I agree that it is perfectly OK to make deductions of the gross dimensions of the interiors and exteriors, Shai.

um, “Friend in America” – please tell us from where you bring, “these films were taken by israeli commandos who secretly visited the site in July – 2 months before the raid.”

April 25th, 2008, 11:22 pm

 

Honest Patriot said:

Seems that QN’s genetics theory are spawning competition:
http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/science/nature/7316281.stm

April 25th, 2008, 11:46 pm

 

Shual said:

Rowan Berkeley

Shual, not Shai. Shai is a different person. And: “The evidence and photos, if they are to be taken at face value, were certainly impressive and convincing according to those who attended the briefing.” So there are more photos. [And nobody should belive that the Israelis bomb something without a reason. The reason can be wrong and thats why we should demand to learn ALL about the story.]

You can see it like this: The video is bad enough to embarass Assad not too much, but good enough for the Senate and anyone else to understand the message “If Israelis say they had to attack, there are reasons for it.”, even if those reasons [no reprocessing plant, etc…] do not indicate an organized nuclear arms programm and do not indicate that it really was a nuclear installtion. Political reasons, like Baraks debut and Olmerts low approval rates must be considered, but after we saw no innocent victims and we saw some easing the tensions in the last weeks we should not overestimate the Israeli attack or the allegations of the White House.

One person should be worried: Ahmadinejad.

April 26th, 2008, 12:44 am

 

Mark Konrad said:

One person should be worried: Ahmadinejad.

Worried about what? An Israeli attack on Iran? That’s not going to happen. The Israelis don’t have the necessary resources or the nerve to do it. One strike or a wave of strikes over the course of a day or two won’t get it done. The Iranians have their facilities too well dispersed and protected. In addition, regardless of how reliable or unreliable the guidance systems are on those Shahab-3s, some are going to land in painful places inside Israel. I would imagine more than a few are aimed at Dimona and a fortuitous hit or two there could be a PR nightmare for Israel. They’d have to do a lot of public explaining that they haven’t been required to do up to now….. But anyway, even though Israel isn’t going to attack Iran Ahmadi Nezhad would love it if they did. That would solidify his political position inside the country. He’s not real popular now.

April 26th, 2008, 1:28 am

 

Enlightened said:

Our family buried a great uncle here yesterday, he was the last surviving link from the old generation from our old homeland, so it is with great sadness and a very heavy heart, this morning that I log in to my favourite website and read and witness some very sad devolpments.

HP: Truly the alligators are in the swamp, and being neck deep we tend to lose focus on the little things since surviving the swamp takes a lot of brutal instincts and cunning. At least we have no war (yet) in Lebanon, and that still is a good thing.

Why Discuss: It takes a lot to look inward, your description of Lebanon as a failed state, would in my younger days have made me clench my jaw and snap back with my crocodile teeth. Lebanon is a work in progress, I still hold some optimism that my Syrian friends would look at their own system with some introspection and not so casually deride the little country next door with all its faults, yet also look at some of its good points (and there are many), that some within Syria so casually dismiss as weak, yet fail to look at their own house and what ails it.

Shai: I didnt have a chance to respond to your earlier email that Day because I had more pressing matters to attend to.

It seems to me now that the Leak about Kadish does not mean a great deal, but the US governments leak of the Syrian reactor might be coincidental to take the heat off the spying scandal and get it off the front pages in the US.

I watched BBC world news late last night and watched the Syrian Nuclear reactor story unfold. The main question I was left pondering, bias aside Does the Bush/Cheney team USA really expect us the gullible public to swallow another WMD story? With more still photos and touched up photo shop pictures? Ok lets give them credit for having the intelligence to use more sophisticated art skills this time around, but it begs the question “what the hell is the intention this time around”?

It might be a scorching summer this time around, but are they really that stupid to start another round of war this year. In the words of one “Forrest Gump”

“Stupid is as Stupid Does”!

April 26th, 2008, 1:52 am

 

Enlightened said:

wizart said:

The only defense Syria needs is more people like Simo, Alex, Naji, Zenobia, Nour, HP, Enlightened, Offended, Ehsani, FP and politically incorrect souls?! like (Bon T Sol), Kifa Nabki, Shai, Atassi and Majhoul? The Landis clan gets credit for keeping the orchestra energized and ever more hopeful that peace maybe over the horizon 🙂

Sorry I hate Labels , but when you use them please do so correctly. Please remove me from the first lot, and place me with the second lot of politically incorrect souls!

No take it back am I part of the second or first! Damn I am so confused, maybe I need some of those Eccies that The Israeli soldiers are being treated with, I need to feel more empathy. Ok get me into that crocodile swamp with HP, I feel more comfortable there!

April 26th, 2008, 5:32 am

 

Qifa Nabki said:

Enlightened,

My condolences for your great uncle. May he rest in peace.

April 26th, 2008, 1:53 pm

 

Shai said:

Enlightened,

I’m also sorry to hear about your great uncle. Please accept my deepest condolences. Our family truly is the only link we have to our past and, through us, we are theirs to the future.

April 26th, 2008, 5:35 pm

 

Shai said:

Enlightened,

You’ll see, like the Kadish thing, this Syria Nuke story will also blow over. A week from now, no one will remember if it was a North Korean reactor in Syria, or a Syrian reactor in North Korea. Or, for that matter, where Syria or N. Korea are located on the map… 🙂 Americans are particularly bad at Geography…

April 26th, 2008, 6:28 pm

 

Causes of the Second World War - Just Cause said:

[…] Syria expert Josh Landis discusses a different theory of diversion, having to do with revelations that Syria and Israel are closer to an agreement on the future of the Golan Heights. […]

May 7th, 2008, 8:45 pm

 

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