Opposition News and Bashar Sba’i’s Return

[I will be in Vermont for two weeks until Aug. 16, where I will have limited ability to post. My number there will be 802-767-9038]

Bashar Sba’i’s Return
By Joshua Landis, Aug. 1, 2009

Bashar Sba’i, a leading member of the Syrian opposition in exile, has thrown in the towel. He quit the opposition movement and has found an accommodation with the Syrian government that allowed him to return home after 28 years.

Syria’s opposition movement is in shambles. Obama’s victory changed the calculations of the opposition in exile. US government supplied MEPI money, which sustained some, has dried up. But mostly, Syrians, who had hoped that President Bush would “reform the greater Middle East” as promised, understood it was not to be. President Assad is firmly in control at home; the Iraq fiasco has re-legitimized authoritarianism in the Middle East, at least tmeporarily; and Obama has little choice but to engage with America’s erstwhile enemies in the region, as he is now doing.

The National Salvation Front, of which Sba’i was a leading member and articulate and passionate spokesperson, has crumbled. The Muslim Brotherhood announced it was pulling out of its alliance with ex-Vice President Khaddam in April and was seeking a new relationship with the Assad regime. The immediate pretext for this move was the Gaza war, but the M.B’s rational for linking up with old Baathists, such as Khaddam, disapeared with the departure of President Bush.

Bashar Sba’i, who had joined Khaddam’s effort as the director of his Zenobia TV, also decided the time had come to mend fences with the Syrian government. Having lived abroad since 1981, he was lonely for his homeland. The pull of family must be great. America, as well, is less the attraction that it was some years ago. In full recession, with a budget that has grown out of control, the US has seen its best days as a symbol of world leadership. Prejudice against Arabs and Muslims is at an all time high. Sba’i also tells us that the leadership of the Syrian opposition in exile was not inspiring.

It is in this context, that Bashar al-Sba’i, whose articles are copied below, must have negotiated a deal with the Syrian government to go home a short time ago.

Bashar al-Sba’i writes a long article extolling the wisdom of Assad’s rule in Syria, explaining that the president is responding to the demands of the age for stability, security and keeping the country from being torn apart by sectarian and ethnic divisions.

He apologizes for working with the opposition, claiming that the opposition painted an unjustifiably bleak picture of conditions in Syria and blamed the president wrongly. He claims that after living in the West and American, he was taken by the rule of law, democracy and progress he saw around him and naively wanted it for Syria. He did not take local conditions into account…..

Here is the original All4Syria, April 22 story about the break up of the Salvation Front. Bashar Sba’i’ announces and explains his resignation.

“Damascus Spring” is Bashar el-Sba’i’s blog. He wrote frequent and lively commentary on these pages under a pseudonym.  Many of the participants on Syria Comment had long conversations with Bashar, both on the phone and in the comment section over the last three years.

The following is a translation contributed by JAD of a only a part of Bashar al-Sba’i’s first article after returning to Damascus.

“All I can say today after having arrived a few days ago in my hometown, Damascus, is that Syria today is changing for the better, developing, flourishing, and enjoy security, tolerance and love under the same leadership whose good intentions I questioned for months. What I couldn’t imagine or expect, what I saw and heard about the President of the country exceed my expectation of enlightened thoughts and acts in the interest of the country, the homeland and the citizen, that was truly unexpected.

Today I am unable to find words to express my thanks and my gratitude for this leadership to allow me to be a witness and a participant on the ground in the building of this fatherland and it’s primacy in my future field of work.  I hope that my own personal experience is proof of the change and reform Syria is going through and is an example of trust and confidence for all Syrian citizens abroad to return home.” Bashar Siba’i

معارض سوري يمتدح النظام بعد هجائه له لثلاثة عقود..! !

بيان من بشار سبيعي
07/ 07/ 2009

منذ إصدار بيان اعتزالي العمل السياسي المنظم بكل أشكاله وأنواعه منذ أكثر من شهرين , تسلمت الكثير من الرسائل والاتصالات الهاتفية من أعضاء في المعارضة السورية في الخارج تضمنت أكثرها تساؤلات إذا كنت أنوي الرجوع إلى سورية في المستقبل القريب , وقد كانت تلك الفكرة حينها من أبعد الخواطر عن ذهني لما فيها من مخاطر نسمع عنها فقط في الإعلام المعارض للنظام السوري في الخارج .
لقد كنت من الناشطين السياسيين أكثر الحدة في النقد لهذه الحكومة والأجهزة الأمنية في مقالاتي السابقة , وكنت أشعر آنذاك , أن ما أكتبه عن الممارسات الشمولية لهذه الحكومة ضد أبناء شعبها ووطنها واجب على كل مواطن سوري يعشق الحرية والديمقراطية أينما وجد فأنا لم أكن أعرف بعد مدى حقيقة رغبة الحكومة السورية في التغيير والإصلاح بجميع أشكاله وأطيافه ومدى جديتها في ذلك وكنت أتابع عبر الإعلام حالات الإعتقال والإدانات الصادرة عن محكمة أمن الدولة ضد نشطاء سياسيين وكتّاب في مجال الديمقراطية والحرية وحقوق الإنسان وهذا ما جعلني أكثر خوفاً على أن أفكر بجدية كاملة في الرجوع إلى ربوع الوطن بما أنني كنت واحداً من هؤلاء الأشخاص في السابق .
ولكن ظروفي الخاصة واشتياقي لبلدي وأهلي وأصدقائي بعد أكثر من ثلاثة عقود من الزمن في الغربة حملني على التفكير جدياً بالعودة , وهذا بالواقع ما حصل تماماً وعلى عكس ما كنت متصوراً , ها أنا أخط هذه الكلمات اليوم حراً طليقاً من أجمل مدينة في العالم دمشق .
كل ما أستطيع أن أقوله اليوم بعد أيام قليلة من وصولي إلى مسقط رأسي أن سورية اليوم تتغير نحو الأفضل , وتكبر وتزدهر وتنعم بالأمن والتسامح والمحبة تحت نفس القيادة التي كنت أشكك في نواياها الحسنة منذ شهور وهذا ما لم أكن أتصوره وأتوقعه ، إن ما سمعته وما شاهدته عن رئيس البلاد كان فائق التصور من فكر مستنير وفعل لمصلحة البلاد والوطن والمواطن ، كان ذلك بالحقيقة يفوق الوصف .
وأنا اليوم عاجز عن إيجاد الكلمات المعبرة عن الشكر والإمتنان لهذه القيادة لإتاحة الفرصة لي بأن أكون شاهداً ومشاركاً على الأرض في بناء هذا الوطن ورفع شأنه في مجال عملي المستقبلي .
وأتمنى أن تكون سيرتي الذاتية برهاناً لحقيقة التغيير والإصلاح المنشود ومثالاً للثقة والطمأنينة لكل مواطن سوري في الخارج يفكر في العودة إلى ربوع وطنه .
بشار سبيعي
عضو جبهة الخلاص سابقاً و مدير البرامج السياسية في قناة / زنوبيا

Syria renaissance excludes human rights
By Lina Sinjab, BBC News, Damascus

In a quiet neighbourhood in the centre of Damascus Michel Kilo sits in his small flat sipping coffee as his wife shells beans for lunch…..

Weeks after finishing a three-year prison sentence, Mr Kilo dedicates his time to family life, while the enthusiasm that characterised his writing before his arrest is now directed solely at articles focusing on pan-Arab and regional issues, rather than local ones.

In 2006, Mr Kilo and 10 other activists were arrested after signing the Damascus-Beirut declaration….
Mr Kilo was in prison for three years after signing the declaration

But today, the situation has changed. The country is no longer isolated by the West and key Western leaders have approached Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to help stabilise the region.

The country has attracted both foreign investment as well as tourism – signs it is beginning to come in from the cold.

But the authorities show no sign of relinquishing the tight control which the Baath Party has exerted since it took power in a 1963 coup and banned all opposition.

“The priority is not to have any opposition or independent voices and it is successful in oppressing this scene,” says Yassin Haj Saleh, a writer and human rights activist.

Clampdown

A campaign of arrests has left an estimated 6,000 people in jail as political prisoners.

Meanwhile, about 400-450 people are subject to official travel bans, although the real number could be in the thousands, human rights groups say.

The measures are extended to young bloggers and some internet users, as well as civil society activists and some artists.

Civil society needs to be revived and reactivated and this is only in the hands of the authorities”
Mohannad al-Hassani
Lawyer and human rights activist

“There is a continuous deterioration in the human rights situation in Syria,” says lawyer and head of Syrian Human Rights Organization Mohannad al-Hassani.

But the worst situation is suffered by the Islamists, according to Yassin Haj Saleh.

“There are many young people who are arrested for their Islamic affiliation, but they are not organised. They are mostly villagers and their families are being harassed and pressured,” he says.

The crackdown has attracted little media attention, especially in suburbs and rural areas.

Last year, riots erupted in Sadnaya prison. A number of prisoners were reported killed. The government said then the prisoners were Islamists.

Human Rights Watch recently called on the Syrian government to provide information on the incident.

“The Syrian government should end the anguish of the prisoners’ families, disclose the names of those injured or killed, and immediately grant them access to their loved ones,” said Sarah Leah Whitson, Middle East and North Africa director at Human Rights Watch.

‘Lack of vision’

There is no organised opposition in Syria, just individuals who oppose government policies.

And even these figures are fragmented and lack vision says Omar Amirallai, an intellectual and filmmaker.
Syrians pass under poster of President Bashar al-Assad
President Assad maintains a tight grip on opposition

“The opposition in Syria is in need of self-criticism, reform and reconciliation,” he says.

But others believe that even with more vision and organisation, their efforts will come to nothing under current government restrictions.

The streets of Damascus have the feel of a relaxed and bustling city.

Around cafe and restaurant tables, discussions are heated about global and regional politics – but no one talks about the political situation in Syria.

Mohannad al-Hassani believes the country should embrace international and regional changes with its own progress on the level of civil and human rights.

“Civil society needs to be revived and reactivated and this is only in the hands of the authorities.

“They should look into these needs seriously as it is difficult for Syria to continue in isolation from what the whole world is moving towards.”

Syria: Human Rights Lawyer Held
By REUTERS, July 30, 2009 in NYTimes

Syrian authorities arrested a leading human rights lawyer, his colleagues said Thursday. The lawyer, Mohannad al-Hussani, who has been handling high-profile political cases, was summoned Tuesday to State Security, one of many intelligence agencies in Syria. Mr. Hussani has not been heard from since then and no charges have been lodged against him, his colleagues said. There was no comment from the Syrian authorities. Arbitrary arrests in Syria are common, international human rights organization say, and it is common for detainees to remain in jail for months before facing any charges.

See Siba’is most recent article (in Arabic)

عاد لدمشق بعد 28 سنة من عدائه للنظام : بشار سبيعي يضع وصفة للحل في سورية… تفاءلوا بالخير تجدوه

بشار السبيعي عضو جبهة الخلاص سابقاً
23/ 07/ 2009
المتفائل في الحياة يرى نصف الكأس مملوءاً، والمتشائم يرى الكأس نفسه نصفه فارغاً، ومن يبتعد عن وطنه مدة طويلة من الزمن ويعش في عالم أكثر تقدماً ورقياً في مختلف جوانب الحياة يعتد أن يقيس أمور الدنيا والحياة بمقياس عال في السقف والدرجة ما يرمي نتائج الرؤية في قاع المراتب، ويغلف الأحكام والاستنتاجات النهائية لواقع الأمور على الأرض بغطاء المطلق، وهذا ما يدفع به لتصديق قشور التكبير والتعظيم الإعلامي لأصغر الأمور.

منذ خروجي من الوطن الحبيب سورية في أوائل عام 1981، وأنا أتّبع تلك القاعدة للنظر في أمور الحياة والشأن العام، وكنت أظن (مخطئاً) أن ما وصلت إليه دولة عظمى مثل الولايات المتحدة الأميركية من رقي وعظمة في نظام الحياة مجتمعة يجب أن يكون المقياس الرئيس للمقارنة مع حال مجتمعنا العربي والإسلامي، ناسياً أو بالأحرى متناسياً أن لكل حضارة ظروفاً تاريخية وسياسية واجتماعية وثقافية تدفعها نحو رسم حاضرها ومستقبلها وتحثها على خلق نظام يتناسب مع أعرافها وتقاليدها ويحترم تاريخها.
خلال رحلتي القصيرة في العمل السياسي المعارض في الخارج، قرأت الكثير عن مطالب المعارضة السورية التي يمكن تلخيصها في المطلب الرئيس وهي الديمقراطية في الحكم والتعددية السياسية. وطبعاً ما يتبع ذلك الوضع من حرية في التعبير والرأي وضمانة حقوق الإنسان تحت غطاء القضاء المستقل واحترام الدستور وسيادة القانون. ومن يقرأ ما يكتبه البعض من أعضاء تلك المعارضة في الإعلام يظن أن سورية تئن تحت وطأة الاستبداد والسلطوية لدرجة من الاختناق تكاد تلغي جميع جوانب الحياة السياسية وهذا بالطبع إجحاف في الوصف لحقيقة الأمور.
تعودت المعارضة السورية أن ترى الأشياء بألوانها المطلقة إما أن تكون سوداء قاتمة وإما بيضاء ناصعة، ونسيت أو بالأحرى تناست أن هناك أطيافاً متعددة الألوان تفصل بين الطرفين، وأن الحقيقة تكمن بينهما. فما بين المطلب الرئيس للمعارضة السورية في الديمقراطية بالحكم في سورية والتطبيق الفعلي له على الأرض، مسافات واسعة من الزمن يشغلها الإصلاح والتغيير لنظام حكم يعمل في الوقت نفسه على استيعاب متطلبات العصر والعالم وتوفير الأمن والسلام لشعبه دون أن يخلق هزة أرضية سياسية واجتماعية تذهب به وبالوطن إلى ظلمات الانشقاق والتمزق الوطني والحروب الأهلية وال !
راب المستأصل بما يحوطه من أقطار عربية.
لقد عانت سورية في السنوات الأخيرة من ضغوط سياسية إقليمية ودولية كادت تضعها في دوامة الحروب الإقليمية والأهلية التي تعصف بالمنطقة، ولكن توافق الموقف بين الشعب والسلطة عزز الوحدة الوطنية وأعطى الثقة للقيادة بالاستمرار بتلك السياسة الحكيمة التي أثبتت وتثبت اليوم أنها كانت وما تزال على صواب في الرؤية المستقبلية والإستراتيجية للوطن والمنطقة كلها. فاليوم تتمتع سورية بموقع أقوى مما كانت عليه منذ خمس سنوات، وأكثر انفتاحاً لها في الخيارات الاستراتيجية. فمنذ انتخاب الرئيس الأميركي باراك أوباما، وتغير سياسة الولايات المتحدة في المنطقة عن الإد !
رة السابقة من سياسة الخيار العسكري أولاً إلى الحوار والدبلوماسية، أصبحت سورية في مركز متقدم يدفعها نحو قيادة عملية السلام في الشرق الأوسط ونحو الإطار القومي العربي.
كنت قد أشرت في مقالة سابقة إلى أن سورية بلا شك تمر في مرحلة من التجديد والتغيير المستمر منذ سنوات، ومن يعود إليها من أبناء الوطن في زيارة من الخارج بعد غياب طويل لابد له من أن يلحظ تماسك وتطابق الموقف الوطني بين السلطة والشعب. وعلى الرغم مما تروّجه وسائل الإعلام المعادية للموقف القومي العربي تجاه القضية الفلسطينية والأراضي المحتلة لابد للمشاهد على الأرض أن يلمس الدعم الشعبي الحقيقي للمقاومة ضد مشروع الاستيطان والاحتلال الإسرائيلي للأراضي العربية المحتلة. أما على الصعيد الداخلي فمن غير الممكن أن يخفى على الزائر مدى الحب والإعجاب الشعبي ا!
لذي يتمتع به سيادة الرئيس بشار الأسد في الشارع السوري والعربي، وهذا ما يدفع المشاهد على الأرض لأن يتساءل عن مدى مصداقية ما يُكتب ويُنشر في صفحات ومواقع الإنترنت للمعارضة السورية في الخارج.
لا يمكننا التخلي عن التغيير والتجديد والمطلب الديمقراطي في الحكم في سورية، فهذه هي الضمانة المستقبلية والتركة الوحيدة التي تضمن الأمن والسلام للأجيال القادمة، وما تتمتع به سورية اليوم من مثال التعايش بين الطوائف والتوافق في الموقف الوطني بين السلطة والشعب يجب أن يكون الحافز الرئيس لتبني قيم التقدم والمدنية للوصول إلى تلك الأهداف النبيلة. ولكن علينا أولاً أن نثق بقيادتنا الحكيمة لأنها تعمل من أجل بناء هذا الوطن، ونسهم بكل إمكانياتنا في العمل إيجابياً في هذا البناء، فالوطن مُلك لأبنائه وأولاده الأبرار والمتفائل يرى الكأس نصفه ممتلئاً و!
يسعى ليملأ النصف الآخر.

بشار السبيعي عضو جبهة الخلاص سابقاً
صحيفة الوطن السورية الخاصة

Commentary: Death in Iran touches lives in Syria
McClatchy, By Layal Demashqi | The Institute for War & Peace Reporting

DAMASCUS, Syria; I cried when I saw the video of Neda Agha-Soltan, covered in blood after being shot to death in the streets of Tehran…..I feel she died not only for her country but also for my freedom.

Before the protests began, I had never even thought that people brave enough to protest like Neda existed in Iran.

It’s no secret that Syrians don’t have much in common with Iranians. For the older generation, it’s a religious issue: Most Iranians are Shias; the majority of Syrians are Sunnis.

And younger Syrians, especially the Westernized ones, are appalled by the numerous restrictive religious rules their Iranian peers are forced to abide by.

Syrian dissidents regard Iranians with disdain for supporting the regime in Damascus, as well as other extremist groups in the region.

To many Syrians like me, Iran is populated by angry men and women endlessly chanting “Death to Israel and America” and blindly following their religious leaders.

When we come across Iranians in Damascus, the women are usually draped in black and the men wear long beards.

So the fact that there are young Iranians willing to take to the streets and courageously face the security forces came as a complete surprise to us.

Today, I hear a growing number of people around me say that they couldn’t believe that Iranians could speak openly about freedom and act so bravely.

The protests in Iran have become the most important topic of conversation wherever I go in Syria. Some Syrians are saying, “We wish we were with them.” Many young Syrians feel a desire to support their peers in Iran, but have done so only via the Internet. They send messages of support, sign petitions against the suppression of the marches, circulate updates on the protests and join electronic support campaigns.

Even a political prisoner here who is serving two and a half years in jail for supporting democratic change, made a statement from his cell condemning the Iranian regime and praising the Iranian people.

This solidarity stemmed from the fact that freedom matters to people everywhere. Like Iranians, we see ourselves enslaved and oppressed.

Every young Syrian who has ever prayed for change in their country has been touched by the bravery displayed by the young men and women marching in Iran…….

Our hearts are with the Iranians. I hope when it’s our turn to demand democratic change that their hearts will be with us.

And I hope we don’t wait too long for that to happen.

ABOUT THE WRITER: Layal Demashqi is a reporter in Syria who writes for The Institute for War & Peace Reporting, a nonprofit organization that trains journalists in areas of conflict. Readers may write to the author at the Institute for War & Peace Reporting, 48 Grays Inn Road, London WC1X 8LT, U.K.; Web site: www.iwpr.net. For information about IWPR’s funding, please go to http://www.iwpr.net/index.pl?top-supporters.html.

Iraqis Stay Silent on Protests in Iran

BY: DANIEL W. SMITH | THE WASHINGTON TIMES

No statements have been issued by Iraqi political parties that got their start in exile in Iran during the 1980-88 Iran-Iraq war. Although as many as 2,000 Iranian religious pilgrims enter Iraq daily, there have been no demonstrations, like the sympathy protests that have taken place from New York to Dubai….

أوباما يلغي الدعم المالي المقدم للمعارضة السورية!

داماس بوست

06/ 07/ 2009

قالت منظمة «فريدوم هاوس» الأميركية، في تقرير نشرته على موقعها الإلكتروني، إن إدارة أوباما رفضت تجديد الدعم المالي المقدَّر بخمسة ملايين دولار، لبعض المنظمات السورية غير الحكومية التي تعمل في الخارج، وفي مقدمتها منظمة «ثروة» التي يرأسها المعارض السوري عمار عبد الحميد (ابن الفنانة السورية المعروفة منى واصف). وقد أدّى وقف المساعدات الأميركية إلى اضطرار المنظمة لإغلاق مكتبها في واشنطن وتسريح العاملين فيه


Appropriations Bills Under Consideration
(Via POMED)

Today the House is expected to rule on the 2010 Department of State, Foreign Operations and Related Programs Appropriations Act (H.R.3081), which authorizes funding to expand State Department and USAID operations and oversight, funding global health and humanitarian assistance and supporting development, national security and counterterrorism capacities. Included in the legislation is the Democracy Fund intended “to promote democracy, including support for human rights, media, and the rule of law.”

In 2008, the Near East region experienced a period of political stagnation, with little significant democratic movement from a part of the world that has proven most resistant to democratic change.

The Administration has requested a substantial increase in GJ&D funding for the Near East from $309 million in FY09 to $328 million in the FY10 request, and requested funding in the area of Rule of Law and Human Rights is nearly doubled. Civil society would experience a significant cut in this budget, primarily due to a $48 million request decrease in Iraq from FY09 estimated levels. Individual GJ&D country levels are increased across the region in countries like ….Lebanon, which sees a GJ&D increase from $18 million to $27 million. These increases appear to recognize the difficult political challenges faced by these countries in the coming year. A sharp decline is requested in the West Bank and Gaza ($60 million to $42 million) and is due in part to inflated budgetnumbers in FY09 resulting from the U.S. response to the war in Gaza.

Debate over the Obama Administration’s democratization policies in the Near East region has been sharp. While Freedom House applauds the Administration’s financial commitment, we hope that the State Department will increase its efforts to diplomatically engage in the region on behalf of democracy and human rights activists. There are indications that some U.S. diplomatic missions do not share a common commitment to democratic activists for fear that these relationships would complicate relations with the host government and compete with other U.S. interests.

Despite the sharp cut in overall bilateral ESF funds for FY09, the Bush Administration had maintained democracy funding at a robust level of $45 million in Egypt. Unfortunately, the Obama Administration and the Congress cut FY09 funding for democracy and human rights by half to its current estimated level of $22 million. This led to dramatic reductions in the support provided to independent civil society activists in Egypt at a time of heightened pressures and restrictions on the more politically active groups and individuals within Egyptian society.

The reduction in assistance for democracy and human rights continues, with the Obama Administration requesting only $20 million for GJ&D in FY10. The Obama Administration should reassess this reduction in support and strengthen its diplomatic efforts on behalf of independent democracy and human rights activists in this important country. We were pleased to see that in the FY10 markup of the Foreign Operations Appropriations bill, the House of Representatives included a floor that would allow no less than $25 million to be spent on democracy support in Egypt.

While the Administration has requested substantial increases and robust funding for several countries in the region, there are noteworthy gaps in countries like Libya and Tunisia, where democracy funding has been zeroed out, and Algeria, where the commitment to democracy efforts totals less than $1 million. Civil society programming in Jordan also declines by $2.5 million, despite impressive gains made by groups working on minority rights and women’s issues.

Congress should address these shortfalls through the appropriations process. Within this region there are two funds dedicated to democracy support, the Middle East Partnership Initiative (MEPI) and the Near East Regional Democracy Fund. Both would receive substantial increases in funding through the President’s request and indicate sustained support to democracy and human rights actors in the region. It is assumed that this regional funding would support frontline human rights defenders and democracy activists in countries not slated for GJ&D funds in the Congressional Budget Justification, including Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Bahrain and Iran.

No USAID GJ&D funding was requested in FY10 specifically for the following countries: Bahrain, Iran, Israel, Kuwait, Libya, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Tunisia and the United Arab Emirates.

The Project on Middle East Democracy (POMED),
and the Heinrich Böll Foundation North America present:

FY2010 Appropriations and
Middle East Democracy

In May, the Obama Administration submitted to Congress the details of its first annual budget request for foreign operations, for Fiscal Year 2010. As the House and Senate now continue their debates over appropriations, POMED is pleased to announce the publication of a new report, The Federal Budget and Appropriations for Fiscal Year 2010: Democracy, Governance, and Human Rights in the Middle East.

What are the most significant changes in these portions of the budget request, as compared with the appropriations made in previous years? How does the budget impact US efforts to support democracy in the Middle East and North Africa? What does this budget tell us about the priorities of the new administration and its policy approach to the Middle East? And how are the appropriations made by Congress likely to compare with this request?

Please join us for a discussion of these issues with:

Stephen McInerney, Director of Advocacy, Project on Middle East Democracy.

Thomas Melia, Deputy Executive Director, Freedom House.

Marina Ottaway, Director of the Middle East Program, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.

Moderated by Andrew Albertson, Executive Director, POMED

Tuesday, July 28, 2009
2:00 – 3:30 pm
Rayburn House Office Building, Room 2200

Comments (125)


qunfuz said:

Layal Damashqi: “To many Syrians like me, Iran is populated by angry men and women endlessly chanting “Death to Israel and America” and blindly following their religious leaders.

When we come across Iranians in Damascus, the women are usually draped in black and the men wear long beards.”

Well, I’m sorry to be fierce, but could we replace “Syrians” in the first line with “idiots”? In my experience, most Syrians are not so stupid, nor so simplistic, nor so willing to stereotype their neighbours. Besides which, Damascus is full of unchadored, unhijabed, unbearded Iranians too, if you care to actually notice. What a silly, ignorant, wide-eyed article. Is it really worthy of inclusion here? Keep up the standards!

August 1st, 2009, 1:53 pm

 

jad said:

Qunfuz,
I have the same fierce reaction when I read Layla’s piece of “ignorance”!
I bet that she never meet any Iranian before except what she sees in the street of Damascus, and at the same time she is reflecting her own/relatives/friends views over the whole Iranians populations.
I also strongly disagree that ALL “Syrian dissidents regard Iranians with disdain for supporting the regime in Damascus, as well as other extremist groups in the region.” why doesn’t she clearly said well, I don’t like Iranians not because they are under the Mullah laws but because they are Shia and I don’t trust them or Hezbollah, it will be more honest and clear..
(Keep up the standards!) Amen!

August 1st, 2009, 3:54 pm

 

Nour said:

Thanks, Qunfuz.

My thoughts exactly. I would also add that this person has a shallow understanding of freedom.

August 1st, 2009, 3:55 pm

 

MNA said:

Layal Demashqi:”It’s no secret that Syrians don’t have much in common with Iranians. For the older generation, it’s a religious issue: Most Iranians are Shias; the majority of Syrians are Sunnis.”

Actually layal the older generation in Syria, for the maost part, did not have this secterian view. If it is present at all, it would be more among the younger generation.

Layal Demashqi: “And younger Syrians, especially the Westernized ones, are appalled by the numerous restrictive religious rules their Iranian peers are forced to abide by.”

I wounder how the same westernized younger syrians think about the situation of their saudi peers?

Layal Demashqi: “Syrian dissidents regard Iranians with disdain for supporting the regime in Damascus, as well as other extremist groups in the region.”

Actually Layal most syrian dissidents are in support of the same groups.

Layal Demashqi: “To many Syrians like me, Iran is populated by angry men and women endlessly chanting “Death to Israel and America” and blindly following their religious leaders.”

So Layal many syrians look upon this negatively? and even if I have to agree with you, which I don’t, that most Iranians blindly follow their religious leaders, are they the only ones doing that in our region?

Layal Demashqi: “When we come across Iranians in Damascus, the women are usually draped in black and the men wear long beards.”

And we don’t have that in Damascus?? What is the percentage of woman wearing the long black, dark blue or gray jilbab in Damascus?

Layal Demashqi: “So the fact that there are young Iranians willing to take to the streets and courageously face the security forces came as a complete surprise to us.”

Well I have to agree with you on that one!! It was a complete surprise b/c most if not all arab governments would not have tolerated such demonstrations in the street. So people all across the ME are envious for the degree of freedom that the Iranian government is allowing.

Layal Demashqi: “Even a political prisoner here who is serving two and a half years in jail for supporting democratic change, made a statement from his cell condemning the Iranian regime and praising the Iranian people.”

Layal, Is this a joke or what? Since when any country in the world allows its prisoners to have cell phones.

What a silly article this is???

August 1st, 2009, 4:54 pm

 

offended said:

What a piece of utterly racist nonsense by Layal Demashqi. Are there no requisites of intelligence for becoming a writer?

August 1st, 2009, 5:40 pm

 

offended said:

Ha. It seems Layal’s piece of garbage had been taken off the website. Good.

August 1st, 2009, 6:00 pm

 

jad said:

LOL, what did you do Offended????
I’m sure that you have a hand behind the removal don’t you? I know that you are well connected but not that much! 😉

MNA, this link for you:
http://3.bp.blogspot.com/_5sbGWuqTOog/Rl_8rTMwVmI/AAAAAAAACe0/SLEqWGthN2Y/s1600/Syrian_Hijab.jpg

August 1st, 2009, 6:03 pm

 

jad said:

Talking about how OPEN the Syrian society became!!!!!
And I was furious over the proposal status law, Heik mou7ameen biddon yi6la3o bi heik qawaneen..3JABI!!

غزة قدوة :منع الاختلاط في قاعة فرع نقابة محامي دمشق!!

كلنا شركاء
01/ 08/ 2009

وصلت معلومات إلى موقع ” كلنا شركاء ” منذ أكثر من شهر تفيد أن فرع نقابة المحامين بدمشق يمنع الاختلاط بين الرجال والنساء في القاعة الكائنة بجانب وزارة المالية المخصصة للمناسبات، ولكننا لم نصدق حينها تلك المعلومات ورفضنا نشرها ، فمن غير المعقول أن تفعل ذلك نقابة مثل نقابة محامي دمشق، وهي التي تمثل فيما تمثل صفوة من الشباب المتعلم، وأغلب أعضائها ينتمون لحزب البعث العلماني، ولكن تواتر المعلومات حول هذا الأمر من أكثر من مصدر جعلتنا نتأكد بكل أسف من أن فرع نقابة المحامين بدمشق فعلاً يمنع الاختلاط بين الرجال والنساء.

ففي المعلومات التي وصلت إلى الموقع أكدت أن فرع دمشق لنقابة المحامين رفض إقامة عزاء مشترك بين الرجال والنساء في قاعة فرع نقابة المحامين بدمشق المخصصة للمناسبات الكائنة بجانب وزارة المالية رغم طلب أصحاب العزاء وإلحاحهم، مما أضطر أصحاب العلاقة إلى تحديد فترة تقبل العزاء للنساء في قاعة المحامين المذكورة من الساعة الخامسة وحتى السابعة مساء، ومن الساعة السابعة وحتى الساعة التاسعة مساء للرجال. علماُ أن قاعة المسنين المخصصة أيضاً للمناسبات تسمح بإقامة المناسبات بشكل مشترك بين الرجال والنساء، ولكنها كانت مشغولة.

وقد أبدى مصدر مقرب من صاحب العزاء رفض الكشف عن اسمه انزعاجه وأسفه الشديد لرفض الفرع المذكور إقامة عزاء واحد للرجال والنساء واستغرب في الوقت نفسه أن يصدر ذلك ممن يعتبرون أنفسهم طلاب حق ومدافعين عنه،وممن ينتمون إلى حزب البعث العربي الاشتراكي”العلماني” وأبدى المصدر المذكور خشيته من أن يتحول ذلك السلوك إلى نهج في المجتمع السوري المنفتح والسير به على طريقة طالبان..!

http://all4syria.info/content/view/12066/96/

August 1st, 2009, 6:14 pm

 

jad said:

What I predict from Mr. Soubaei return and the MB truce with the system is that the Ikhwan will be back to Syria very soon and they will be involved in the public life in an open way instead of the current hidden ways happening in our society where they have the upper hand in almost all the professional societies and unions.
Another sign is the huge amount of articles witting about the Ikhwan and their important role in the Syrian society and the need to give them some power (more than what they already got) to rule our society toward a bright future.
Good luck Syria!

August 1st, 2009, 6:32 pm

 

Nor said:

Jad,

All4Syria doesn’t always have accurate reporting. I wouldn’t put too much stock in their articles; they are quite inaccurate many times. I don’t know where they got this story, but I highly doubt its veracity, or at least its accuracy.

August 1st, 2009, 7:40 pm

 

Nour said:

Jad,

All4Syria doesn’t always have accurate reporting. I wouldn’t put too much stock in their articles; they are quite inaccurate many times. I don’t know where they got this story, but I highly doubt its veracity, or at least its accuracy.

August 1st, 2009, 7:41 pm

 

norman said:

Jad,

And that should never happen ,yes for religious people , no for people think that they are better and should have more privileges than others because of their religious affiliation ,

August 1st, 2009, 7:45 pm

 

Amir in Tel Aviv said:

Corazon Aquino (January 25, 1933 – August 1, 2009) RIP.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WX9ysynaIq0&feature=related

Who will be Syria’s Cory ?
.

August 1st, 2009, 8:54 pm

 

jad said:

Dear Nour,
I wasn’t putting too much stock in that article, I was speaking out my mind, however, I trsut All4syria more than any other news site.

BTW, check out what they did to those who dare to open their mouth and write articles criticizing the proposed law of Outri!? I wounder, is it those specialists ‘lost’ or actually ‘gain’ to go out of this creepy Mafiosos called the government foundations?

رئاسة مجلس الوزراء تستخدم “الأمانة السورية للتنمية” لطرد خمسة خبراء كبار من الهيئة السورية!
http://nesasy.org/content/view/7774/110/

Doesn’t that make you loose any respect (IF you have any) for such government? What they do is actually the opposite of any rational thinking?

Dear Norman,
This should be more than enough to take away any faith in such %$&#@ government.
Yes, sure, they are moving slowly FORWARD but in the opposite direction of progress 😉

August 1st, 2009, 11:51 pm

 

Nour said:

Jad,

I don’t respect this government and I’m not defending it. I was merely commenting on the notion that the Damascus Bar Association would prevent the mixing of men and women, which I find very hard to believe.

Anyway, with respect to this government I agree it has failed in just about every aspect. But where is President Bashar al-Assad in all this? Shouldn’t he be replacing this government by now, given its dismal record?

August 2nd, 2009, 12:28 am

 

jad said:

Dear Nour,
I totally agree with your question, I was thinking the same, where is the presidency from all this chaos its government doing?
Shouldn’t the president do something? isn’t he aware of all those decisions and there results over the society? How come the president is not intervening at all.
Its getting stranger and stranger in Syria:
Syrian citizens are doing their business as if there is no government, the government is doing its business as if there is no citizens, the presidency is doing its business as if there is no government, the security system is doing its business as if there is no citizens, no government and no presidency…does it get more weird than that?

August 2nd, 2009, 12:42 am

 

trustquest said:

Jad, what you are talking about had been mentioned in an article by Haj Saleh analyzing the political atmosphere simmering in the Syrian society which was published on many outlets. What he is saying that there are gradually strengthening axes affecting the social scene and influencing the governmental decisions.
on
http://all4syria.info/content/view/11660/161/
also on:
http://www.thisissyria.net/2009/07/24/writers/01.html
and on this one so you can read the comments:
http://www.alarabiya.net/views/2009/07/21/79349.html

What I understand from you, that elements from the government are working as emissaries for the MB and ensuing these clouds, or at least there is currently a branch in the Baath Party conspire with the MB and they are powerful and very energetic openly.

The current environment (restricting openness) is moving forward and in the near future we will read stories like this one:
http://www.theworld.org/images/slideshows/sitara/index.html

I look at thing differently, to me there is simmering fire slowly going to spark sooner or later, I wonder what the regime has in his arsenal to fight these fires, because according to his current association it would be hard for him to look as anti-religion in front of his regional supporters. I think Mr. Otary is conspiring with some elements of the security to play this role so they can take them for lunch before dinner time. Because Cory scenario is far fudged for Syria as the president’s wife is not qualified, but who knows)?

August 2nd, 2009, 1:06 am

 

jad said:

Dear Trustquest,
Thank you for the links.

I felt sorry for the Afghani woman being killed for an innocent believe and passionate will to do her job for the progress of her country, God forbids to read about Syrian women facing similar fate like that in the future (b3eed alshar)

I’m not saying that there is a conspiracy between the Baath and the MB, there is no conspiracy whatsoever, because I already believe that the Syrian Baath as a political party and leader of Syria is already dead for that role, I wrote before that what is driving Syria today is the Security system + ‘businessmen’

I also don’t think there will be any spark of violence needed to happen because everything as it is right now is already in order for everybody to get what they want and keep it nice and ‘clean’.
Democracy for those two Syrian players is actually a trouble and will not work well with the whole ‘harmony’ atmosphere we are seeing, what we are missing is just the public ‘historical’ make out between the two (the System and the MB) in public, that’s all, Syria will become another Egypt, tasteless and motionless, THE END/FIN!

August 2nd, 2009, 1:38 am

 

Nour said:

بيان الشعبة السياسية في الشام تاريخ 30-07-2009

عقدَتْ الشعبة السياسية في الشام، جلستها الدورية الثانية لشهر تموز، برئاسة الرفيق الدكتور علي حيدر، رئيس الحزب السوري القومي الاجتماعي وبصفته رئيس المكتب السياسي المركزي. وقد استُعرضتْ فيها أهم القضايا الراهنة على الساحة الشامية والقومية والقضايا الإقليمية والدولية.

بعد افتتاح الجلسة، رفع الحضور تحية العزّ لشهداء الأمّة في شهر تموز، الذين وقفوا وقفة العزّ.. من الشهيد يوسف العظمة، المدافع عن الوطن والمتصدّي لجحافل الفرنسيين، على بطاح ميسلون في 24 تموز 1920، إلى الثائر الفادي سعاده، المعلم وقفة العزّ بوجه الطغاة في الثامن من تموز عام 1949.. إلى شهداء المقاومة الوطنية اللبنانية في حرب تموز 2006، مؤكدين قول سعاده أنه : “إذا كان لا بدّ من هلاكنا، فيجب أن نهلك كما يليق بالأحرار، لا كما يليق بالعبيد.”

وقد أكّد حضرة رئيس الحزب، على الدور الهام للشعبة السياسية في الشام، وما يجب أن تضطلع به من مهام للتعبير عن الرؤية القومية الاجتماعية، وتطلعات أبناء مجتمعنا والرفقاء السوريين القوميين الاجتماعيين، وأن يرتقي الجميع إلى مستوى المسؤولية، لتجاوز ما قد يعترض عملهم … كما بيَّن أهمية وضرورة فتح الحوار مع القوى السياسية في الساحة الشامية، تمهيدًا لنسج علاقات تخدم قضايا الوطن والأمّة .

كما تناولت الشعبة السياسية في جلستها تحليلاً للواقع السياسي في الشام، وبقيّة الكيانات السياسية في الأمّة، متوقفة بشكل خاص عند الحركة الدبلوماسية النشطة باتجاه الشام، مؤكّدة الدور المحوري والرئيسي للشام، سواء أكان على الساحة القومية أم الإقليمية أم الدولية، مما مكّنها من فك طوق العزلة، وترخية القبضة الأمريكية عنها، وإحداث انعطاف أوروبي نحو دمشق إقرارًا بدورها، وحوارات بينيّة مع ساسة كيانات أمّتنا والعالم العربي، مؤكّدة أنه على كلّ من يريد أن يمدّ يد الصداقة إلى المنطقة، لا بدّ أن يبدأها بمصافحة الشام.

وهنا يؤكد الحزب السوري القومي الاجتماعي للجميع :”أن السيادة القومية مبدأ يجب المحافظة عليها في جميع المحالفات والعقود … والاتفاقيات الدولية”.

ومن الأمور المصيرية والخطرة التي توقفت عندها الشعبة هو “مصادقة وزير المواصلات في دولة الاغتصاب اليهودية” على استبدال الأسماء العربية للبلدات والمدن، التي تظهر على شاخصات ويافطات الطرق في فلسطين المحتلة، استبدالها بأسماء ” عبرية – يهودية” في إطار خطة لتهويد المناطق في فلسطين المحتلة. وضمن خطة “التهويد” هذه، فإن جميع أسماء البلدات والمدن في فلسطين المحتلة المكتوبة باللغة العربية واللغة الانكليزية سيتم كتابتها باللغة “العبرية”.

وهنا يعلن الحزب السوري القومي الاجتماعي إدانته التامة لهذه الخطوة التي تشكل تنفيذًا عمليًا، في إطار خطة تهويد أرضنا السورية التي بدأها اليهود منذ مطلع القرن العشرين، تمهيدًا لإفناء أبنائها أو جرفهم منها. ويدعو جميع المسؤولين في كيانات أمّتنا السورية، والعالم العربي، وجميع الدول الصديقة، لإعلان الموقف المُجابِه والمُقاوم والرافض لكافة مخططات “التهويد”، التي ينتهجها “العدوّ اليهودي” في فلسطين المحتلة، وفضح خطورتها في المحافل الدولية لا سيّما في الأمم المتحدة .

كما يعلن الحزب السوري القومي الاجتماعي، رفضه القاطع وعدم القبول بأي مناقشة أو أبداء رأي، للقرار الذي اتخذه “كنيست العدوّ اليهودي” لإجراء انتخابات حول إعادة الجولان. فالجولان أرض سورية محتلة، كما بقية الأراضي الفلسطينية واللبنانية المحتلة، لا بدّ من استعادتها بكل الوسائل الممكنة والمتاحة، مهما طال الزمن أم قصُرَ، فالحق القومي لا يسقط بالتقادم، ولا بالتنازل ولا بالتخاذل.

وتوقفت الشعبة السياسية عند الأخبار التي تناقلتها بعض الصحف، حول أطروحات وآراء لوزارة الشؤون الاجتماعية في الشام، بتخفيض نسبة الراتب التقاعدي للمواطن من %75 إلى %65 من آخر راتب كان يتقاضاه .

وهنا يحذّر الحزب السوري القومي الاجتماعي، من خطورة هكذا خطوة على مستوى حياة المواطن والمجتمع، ويعتبرها خطوة إلى الوراء تشدّ بالمواطنين المتقاعدين للوقوع تحت خط الفقر، وتساهم في تردي مستوى حياتهم الاجتماعية.. ويطالب الحزب السوري القومي الاجتماعي الحكومة الشامية، وتحديدًا “وزارة الشؤون الاجتماعية والعمل”، باتخاذ خطوة إلى الأمام ارتقاء نحو ما يحقق حالة اجتماعية أفضل للمواطن، ويؤمن حاجاته المتنامية، وذلك بجعل نسبة الراتب التقاعدي %100 من آخر مرتب تقاضاه وهو في عمله، لا سيّما وأن كل التعويضات والإضافات التي كان يتقاضاها أثناء عمله قد زالت.

كما يطالب الحزب السوري القومي الاجتماعي، الحكومة الشامية بإطلاق ونشر أجهزة الرقابة التموينية لمراقبة حركة أسعار السلع والمواد الاستهلاكية، والضرورية لحياة المواطن في الأسواق، لمنع التلاعب بها، واستغلال حلول شهر رمضان المبارك. كما تهيب بجميع المواطنين أن يكونوا على درجة من الوعي والدراية فيما يُستهلك ويُنفق.
دمشق في 30 تموز 2009

رئيس الشعبة السياسية في الشام

عبد القادر العبيد

August 2nd, 2009, 2:24 am

 

norman said:

Jad,
The best thing that can happen for Syria and the MB is for them to become like the christian majority in the US , they have influence and affect elections and rule through others without being in power , that will protect the separation of Mosque and state and to avoid panicking the minorities of becoming second class citizens .

we can call them the Muslim majority ,

jad

The Baath party is alive and kicking it is alive because of it’s ideology of one nation under GOD with eternal mission to improve the world , and unity , freedom and social justice
Nobody in Syria disagrees with these goal , they do not like the way they are being implemented but the agree with these goal , the people who try to implement these goals are the Baathists who are in power and these change all the time,

And as long as any Syrian can become a baathist and declare his support for these goals and can help in advancing Syria , the Baath party will continue to live .

August 2nd, 2009, 2:48 am

 

jad said:

Dear Norman,
The Baath party in Syria today is like the communist party of Russia in the 90s. It does exist but doesn’t have any power in the society, the corruption, mismanagement and the overuse of the empty slogans by the Baath comrades are too much for people to buy in anymore or to keep it alive.
It’s so dead and I went to its funeral…as we say saret 3damo maka7el 🙂

August 2nd, 2009, 3:28 am

 

norman said:

Dear Jad,

The Baath party as dead as the republican party in the US after president Bush and company , the GOP stand for small Government , president Bush expanded Government , the GOP stands for non =interference in other countries , president Bush wanted to spread democracy and the GOP never started a war , President Bush started two and almost went into Syria for a third ,

the problem is not the Republican party , the problem was the leadership that that party had in the last 8 years and that is changing and new leaders will emerge and lead that party into power , real power , so will the Baath party of Syria,

August 2nd, 2009, 4:01 am

 

jad said:

Dear Norman,
“so will the Baath party of Syria”
I’m not really interested in any political party in Syria, for me they all didn’t update their agenda neither manage to keep the party young or vibrant, most parties after Abd Alnaser got either killed by other political parties, or died from natural causes of old slogans or the death of the last member of them. (I think the SSNP is noticing just that and trying to renew its role better than other parties, will see how far it will go)

If the Baath want to get back from the dead it needs a miracle of a whole new marketing campaign with a major makeover of everything it represent in any union/organization/foundation they create with brand new army of young, smart, educated, honest, clean and professional leaders then repackage that in more attractive, modern and most importantly CIVIL cover only then you can manage to revive the dead body of Baath otherwise it will stay the mummy we are seeing now, But since I’m old enough not to believe in miracles that WONT happen especially when a secular party become more religious than God him/herself.
THE END/FIN 😉

August 2nd, 2009, 6:25 am

 

norman said:

Jad,

Things changed a lot in Syria in the last 9 years , Syria moving to open market and free economy under the new leaders of the baath party , many new Diplomats all around the world who can explain Syria much better than before , what you see of a shift to religion indicate to me that the Baath party can adapt and ride the raging Bull until they can control it , it is like swimming in a river , if you swim against the tide you will drown but if you swim with the tide and slide to bank of the river you will survive ,the Baath party is like any party in the US , the principles are there but the members can pick and chose what to implement ,

By the way i never joined any party in Syria including the Baath party , I just believe in the principles of one Arab nation .

August 2nd, 2009, 12:19 pm

 

Nour said:

Jad,

The problem with the Baath Party is the same as it has always been, much like most of the parties that arose in our nation. Its problem is that it is based on empty slogans and bankrupt ideas that are based not on any scientific rationale, but on mere emotional rhetoric and hasty reaction to particular events and developments. Slogans such as “the land belongs to the peasants” and “the factories belong to the workers” were blindly repeated without understanding the implications of such reationary ideas.

Moreover, the Baath added to the confusion of the people with respect to our national identity, as they embraced the concept of Arab nationalism without providing a true scientific or academic definition or understanding of either nationalism or nations. In fact, the whole idea of Arab nationalism was based more on an emotional longing for the “glories” of the Arab/Islamic empire than on scientific reality. And as such the Baath actually made Islam the basis of the “Arab” identity.

They threw around slogans like “one Arab nation with an eternal message.” Well if we ask ourselves “what is this eternal message?” what do you think the answer would be? It is the Qur’an. But this is rather an empty, meaningless slogan that cannot form the basis of a national identity.

In addition, after coming to power, the Baath was interested in maintaining and consolidating its hold on power, regardless of the steps that had to be taken for this goal. Therefore one of the ways which they felt would help them stabilize their rule was by appeasing the religious Islamic segments of society, in order to prevent them from having excuses to attack the regime. This is why Syrian law was partly based on Islamic Sharia. This leads one to conclude that they were not interested in bringing about a true renaissance in society, but merely maintain their grip on power.

Today we are witnessing these trends toward religious fanaticism and the continued undermining of the civil state precisely because of Baath policies which were devoid of the very fundamentals you would need to bring about a renaissance in Syria and build a truly advanced, secular, dynamc state.

August 2nd, 2009, 3:56 pm

 

jad said:

Dear Norman,
“Syria moving to open market and free economy under the new leaders of the baath party”
That exactly what I meant writing that the Baath as political leader is dead, there is nothing left for it to struggle for and its goals where all not archived it was as Nour wrote, merely emotional, empty and meaningless slogans.
Believe me that this particular party as you know it wont exist in the future as it is, ‘GOD’ always takes over anything that get close to, you can’t win with GOD. 🙂

I liked Nour analyses, it shows the exact views of that party and its lost battle to unite the Arab world, to bring freedom to its citizens (look how many intellectuals are in jail for nothing, what threat those people hold to Syria? NONE, it is absolutely ashame) and even bring real socialism to the country (like Sweden!?). Without strenghthening the national identity and the honest pride of being Syrian from the achievements we could’ve done in 40 years.
National identity is needed to build a strong and healthy society anything else including religion and tribe ties is doomed to fail and take all of us down with them.

Nour,
I agree with your analyse it’s so true and accurate.
Thank you!
————————————-

This piece of news to those who were delusional about Jounblat:

جنبلاط: التحالف مع 14 آذار كان بحكم الضرورة ويجب ألا يستمر (الجزيرة-أرشيف)

قال رئيس اللقاء الديمقراطي زعيم الحزب التقدمي الاشتراكي في لبنان إن تحالفه مع قوى الأكثرية المعروفة باسم “الرابع عشر من آذار” كان بحكم الضرورة ويجب ألا يستمر، وهي خطوة من شأنها أن تثير جدلا كبيرا في أوساط حلفائه.

وجاءت تصريحات وليد جنبلاط الاثنين في افتتاحه الجمعية العمومية لمؤتمر الحزب التقدمي الاشتراكي في بيروت.

وأوضح الزعيم اللبناني أن الانتخابات البرلمانية الأخيرة أفرزت نتاجا طائفيا يجب التخلص منه معتبرا أن فريقه -الفائز مع حلفائه في الانتخابات- لم يخض معركة ذات مضمون سياسي بل معركة “قائمة على رفض الآخر من موقع مذهبي وقبلي وسياسي”.

ووصف جنبلاط زيارته لواشنطن بـ”النقطة السوداء”، وشدد على ما وصفه بضرورة العودة إلى ثوابت الحزب التقليدية وهي الأصول الاشتراكية والالتزام بقضايا العمال والفلاحين والتمسك بالهوية العربية والعمل على الخروج من موقع الانجرار مع اليمين

http://www.aljazeera.net/NR/exeres/7272C62D-6D5A-4B65-BEDE-BF9F125BAF63.htm

How Jumblatism! 😉

August 2nd, 2009, 4:30 pm

 

norman said:

Jad,

I think that you and Nour are wrong about the Baath party ,The baath party is not as rigid as you think , It is the Baath party that is leading the change and like the politecal parties in the US , they move from far left to central left for the Democratic party and from far right to central right for the Republican party depending who are leading these parties , so does the Baath party , it evolved over the last 10 years from far left party to central left party , we should all remember that it was not the Baath party that nationalized the factories and confiscated the farms , these were done under Nasser , the Baath party did not change them and since Hafez Assad became president there were confiscating of any private properties that i know of ,
About the acheivments of the Baath party , the way i look at it ,from my experience , is that the Baath party provided free education to me and my brother in Medical school and engineering school , i went all my life to public schools free had free health care for my father who was on dialysis , they improved literacy from about 38% in late seventies to the nineties , they saved Syria from an end like Iraq , even when all the talk in the US was about going left after the full of Iraq , into Syria , the Baath party avoided that , It also saved Syria again in 2005 when the US and it’s allied were preparing to destroy Syria , Syria was smarter than all of them She left Lebanon to it’s problems ,

Nour , you say that the Baath party slogans are empty , it was not the case when i met Moroccans in the Moroccan section of Disney world and were very happy to know that i am from Syria and i was very happy to know that Nizar Qabbani was their favorite poet ,

I was very happy again when an Eritrean DR expressed his admiration for President Assad wisdom in withdrawing from Lebanon ,

Nour Islam to Syria is like Christianity to the US , The US is a christian nation with secular system and many minorities , The Arab nation as the Baath party sees it and i see it is a an Islamic nation as the majority are Muslims but it should have a secular System to protect the minorities ,

It is not ethnicity or religion that unite the people of Syria and the Arab world it is geography and the land they live in ,

It is surprising to me that we are treat and i mean all of us in the Arab world as Arabs while we keep trying to define ourselves by religion ethnicity and some other way , they see us as one , why shouldn’t we act as one .

August 2nd, 2009, 10:31 pm

 

jad said:

Dear Norman,
You are mixing the Baath political party with the late president Hafez Assad decisions in ruling the country, almost every decision made by the Baath party was in service of the president not the other way around, so to say that Baath party is the good guy here, is misleading, I’m not judging the Baath party or I’m against it in any way, what I’m saying is that the reality of a political party and its failure as a leader of a country is the results of missing a real civil and free foundation/organization that are needed in leading any country forward.
Our international decisions were not a result of the ‘smart’ and ‘great’ Baath but it was because of a smart policy and decisions by the president.

Regarding your comparison between Islam to Syria as Christianity to America/Europe is also misleading since the core of your comparison is two different faith that developed differently and has two different philosophies and are in two different stages in their cycle, not to mention that it’s easier for the Christian west to separate state from religion while it is almost impossible to separate Islam from the state in the Muslim world.

Syria today is not the same as you knew it Norman, it changed in a way that you wont believe that this is Syria you know, it’s so sad how backward we became and how pathetic the two powers driving Syria at the moment are (religious and money).

Please check the comments under the link I posted earlier on Nesasy.org..it’s alarming, I’m stunt of what I read.

August 2nd, 2009, 11:10 pm

 

norman said:

Jad,

a couple of notes and not to be argumentative ,

President Assad was the leader of the Baath party ,and what he did reflected on the party ,

few hundreds years ago the Church was controling life in the western world untill that changed with the rise of Martin Luther , so could the Mosque lose it’s control,

Separation of church and state might be easier in the West but it is the rule in Turkey , so it could be in other countries ,

Religious extremist that you justifiably concern about will not succeed if peace is achieved in the Mideast .their strength comes from the feel of external attack by the West and if that subsides then their popularity will vanish,

August 3rd, 2009, 2:39 am

 

Nour said:

Norman:

First, you can’t compare the Baath party to political parties here in the US. The US does not suffer from a loss of national identity, and has a system in place that serves the interest of the nation. The two parties are political organizations that function within this system. This not the case in Syria, as in Syria the various parties do not differ merely in their political programs within a civil system that controls each, but rather suffer from deep divisions as to our very identity and are in an ongoing struggle for supremacy. The Baath happens to run the entire system and does not tolerate views different from its own.

Second, national awareness cannot be based on religious, sectarian or other divisive outlooks. It has to be based on the idea that the nation is one society without any difference between any of its groups or individuals. The nation is not divided into majorities and minorities, and the national character and makeup is not based on religious grounds. Religions and religious philosophies come and go, but the nation remains. The American nation is NOT a Christian nation (although the US has not yet completely formed a nation but is in the process of doing so). Neither are the French, German, Italian, or Spanish nations “Christian” nations. They are distinct nations with distinct characteristics having nothing to do with the religious beliefs of the majority of their citizens. And the state does not view citizens based on their religious identity but rather purely on their citizenship. Our nation goes back thousands of years and its character was developed long before the Arab/Islamic conquests.

The fact that there are Moroccans or Eritreans who admire Assad or who like Nizar Qabbani’s poems is not a basis for the formation of a nation. They can be likened to Americans admiring Margaret Thatcher and enjoying the writings of Charles Dickens. This does no mean that Americans are part of an English nation. The long and meandered region of the Arab World does not form a single, contiguous geographic territory and as such the peoples of this region do not form a single society and a single life. There are four distinct nations in the Arab world, each with its own identity, character, and temperament, drawing from its natural environment and the particular mixture of the various groups that inhabited each of those lands.

Regarding the Baath, they may not have been responsible for the original nationalizations that were undertaken in Syria, but they repeated those empty slogans I mentioned above. As for President Assad, he can be credited with some achievements during his rule, but overall the country remained in a backwards state, without any real advancement in the industrial, scientific, or academic fields. In addition, he can be faulted for including Sharia law as part of Syrian law and attempting to appease the religious Islamists before massacring them when they became a threat to his rule. I am not necessarily faulting President Assad for all the shortcomings of the country, as there were a lot of factors inhibiting Syria’s advancement. But the bottom line is that the Baath had no real vision for the renaissance of the nation and based its ideas purely on emotional dogma and empty rhetoric.

August 3rd, 2009, 3:58 am

 

norman said:

Nour ,

I disagree,

August 3rd, 2009, 4:06 am

 

jad said:

Dear Norman,
I already know that we are not arguing, we are exchanging personal views that may not be always right/accurate, it’s all good, I like to hear all kind of views and I believe that this is the best way to understand each other as Syrian and form a concrete base for a National identity as Nour writing.

I agree with Nour that we still miss that bond which make us all one under the state without any differences between us, religious or ethnic background, we are all SYRIANS, however the existing system under the ‘LATE’ Baath (allah yer7amo) has failed miserably to unit us under its empty slogans, unfortunately, now we are paying the high price of that from our future and from the lives of our youth since we are letting religious to take over and pull us back.
I also agree with his comments about the American/European political system and the identity distinction, he is correct that Moroccan or Eriterian liking Assad or Quabbani doesn’t mean that they are Syrian, or even close to be one and make us one..it doesn’t work this way.
I also agree with his view about the late President Hafez Assad.

Nour,
I agree!

August 3rd, 2009, 6:10 am

 

LeoLeoni said:

Dear Norman,

We have been repeating the same slogans for several decades now with no avail. One Arab Nation, with an eternal message, from the Ocean to the Gulf, etc. What have we gained from all this? Basically we have sacrificed so much of our freedoms and civil liberties and have almost gained nothing in return. Starting from our constitution, we are a one party system and have no ability to form any political party without the permission of the government and its security agencies. Our jails consist of hundreds of political prisoners who have been thrown in jail simply because they love Syria and they speak their free mind and want to see our country grow. Constitutionally, the Baath has as much legal rights and power as the state. We have more than a dozen state-security agencies and have one of the highest rates of state-security personnel relative to the amount of citizens. All this is targeted against Israel? No, it’s targeted against our own necks.

No Western nation is a “Christian nation”. The US was founded by a bunch of nonreligious Deists who understood the importance of secularism and the separation of Church and State. Thomas Jefferson even has his own bible. Separation of religion & State is NOT an attack on the rights of religious people but a protection. These constitutions protect the freedom of religion, to practice the faith, to form assemblies, and the protection ethnic/religious minorities from hate speech. Muslims, for example, have more religious rights to practice their religion in the West than in “The Arab/Muslim world”. The Baath is supposedly a secular party, yet we have been so behind when it comes to the separation of religion and state. Instead of repealing the religious personnel status laws and abolishing the sectarian courts and forming one national civil court instead, the government has asked a “secret group” from the Muslim religious establishment to form personal status laws that was evidently Islamic as opposed to national and civil. If it wasn’t for the uproar among the enlightened Syrians, the country would have been dragged to the medieval times. We could not even scrap the laws that shelter the criminals and murderers who engage in “honor-killings” (and no, the recent amendments are not enough). The Baath can not claim itself to be secular while still holding onto Article 3 of the constitution, as a way of appeasement, which by the way, allows religious fanatics to believe and perceive that they have a right to form political parties based on political Islam and try to force Sharia on the Syrians. Then, those fanatics/extremists (MB, Salafists-Jihadists) are used to justify the emergency laws and the dozen security apparatus, which then targets the human rights activists, academics, liberals, and anyone who calls for change and reform. This vicious cycle has to come to an end.

August 3rd, 2009, 10:27 am

 

Chris said:

The Wall Street journal published last night and interesting editorial analyzing the prospects for improved U.S. – Syrian relations. Apparently they think there is little hope:

““We received assurances that the relations between the two countries should resume on the basis of mutual interests and most importantly of mutual respect,” Syrian deputy foreign minister Fayssal Mekdad told the Journal last week. “We really welcome such a new approach.”

Damascus’s delight is no surprise, but the chances of success here are somewhat lower than Hugo Chavez becoming a capitalist. Since the current president’s father, Hafez Assad, came to power in a coup in 1970, the U.S. has repeatedly imposed sanctions on Syria, withdrawn ambassadors and even shelled Syrian military positions in Lebanon. But the U.S. has also repeatedly sought to engage Syria as a partner—during the 1991 Gulf War against Saddam Hussein, and later as a mediator in failed peace negotiations with Israel. After the fall of Baghdad in 2003, George W. Bush dispatched Colin Powell to Damascus to try to win Mr. Assad’s cooperation. Instead, Syria made itself a safe haven for the terrorists who killed U.S. soldiers.”

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052970204619004574322193567664878.html

August 3rd, 2009, 10:36 am

 

Akbar Palace said:

All this is targeted against Israel? No, it’s targeted against our own necks.

Leoleoni,

Getting the Golan back has a price that is too high for Assad’s well-being. And making peace with Israel would be too painful for Assad.

The Arab street would prefer misery w/o peace and the Golan, rather than misery with peace, the Golan, and no foreign boogeyman.

And so the evil you know is better than the evil you don’t know.

Syrian Culture Minister Extols Resistance

http://www.memri.org/bin/latestnews.cgi?ID=SD246209

August 3rd, 2009, 11:35 am

 

trustquest said:

Norman said:
“the Baath party provided free education to me and my brother in Medical school and engineering school , i went all my life to public schools free had free health care for my father who was on dialysis”

Mr. Norman, the Baath party did not provide you and your family with anything from their pocket, it is your country that provided you with services. Free education was free before the Baath party came to power and before the dictator came to power. Dictator and his family and handful close circle Alawites collected in foreign banks 20 times the GDP of Syria and ruin the country for ever. This money is from your pocket and every citizen’s pocket till they bankrupt the country and you still praise them for what they have done and think of them as the saviors. I do not think you are inline with the public feeling and pains and your ideas does not change that the “Baath had no real vision for the renaissance of the nation and based its ideas purely on emotional dogma and empty rhetoric”. The Baath party has no plans to change the dynamic of theft and stop the drain and bring back the country to the rightful normal state and turn a page. The Baath has no plan to bring the stolen money back to the people or take legal action against them; they are there to do the cover up, you how useful they are. Baath party is a tool in the hand of the dictator and died long time ago and in Iraq they buried them in the open and Syrian Baath is waiting for his funeral b but may be still needed for the dictator.

August 3rd, 2009, 3:45 pm

 

Amir in Tel Aviv said:

NORMAN,

You’re a typical case of someone who has the ‘Stockholm syndrome’.

The Ba’ath party did not “give” you and your brother, free education.
The party cannot “give” you some thing that it doesn’t own.
The education and health systems belong to the state (100% of Syrians).

I’m not against free services. Or better put it, fair and equal distribution
of public goods. On the contrary.

But there’s a difference in *motives*, when deciding to let something “for free”.
There’s a difference (in that manner: motives) between states like Denmark and
Sweden ( free education, including higher ), and states like Syria
and Cuba.

I’ll let you to figure out for yourself, what that difference is.
.

August 3rd, 2009, 5:08 pm

 

offended said:

Yes Chris. We all know how fair and balanced WSJ is these days. I mean, look at Idiot Abram’s article yesterday, it was full of inaccuracies, glaring misleading info. and other factual errors and blatant biases.

I wouldn’t lift off their analysis off the dirty floor (as the proverb in syria goes)

August 3rd, 2009, 5:22 pm

 

jad said:

Amir, you are the only one on here with the ‘Stockholm syndrome’ at least Dr. Norman is aware and does criticize the wrong he is seeing unlike you enjoying the suffer of people you treat as slaves under your occupation.
Why don’t you look back inside your own racist tent before you write about Syria, your last comment about Israel was a bad joke, I thought that you were writing about Utopia land, what a hypocrite! why don’t you mind your own tribe business and leave us Syrian deals with our own, get lost!

August 3rd, 2009, 5:28 pm

 

offended said:

Well Jad, at least this guy, unlike Chris, is owning up to something:

Knesset Speaker Reuven Rivlin (Likud) is calling for a fundamental change in relations between Jews and Arabs in Israel, urging the founding of a “true partnership” between the two sectors, based on mutual respect, absolute equality and the addressing of “the special needs and unique character of each of the sides.”

Rivlin was expected to say all this in an address to be delivered at the president’s residence in Jerusalem on Monday. In his speech, Rivlin was to say that “the establishment of Israel was accompanied by much pain and suffering and a real trauma for the Palestinians (in large part due to the shortsightedness of the Palestinian leadership). Many of Israel’s Arabs, which see themselves as part of the Palestinian population, feel the pain of their brothers across the green line – a pain they feel the state of Israel is responsible for.”

“Many of them,” Rivlin says, “encounter racism and arrogance from Israel’s Jews; the inequality in the allocation of state funds also does not contribute to any extra love.”

According to Rivlin, Israel’s Arab population “is an inseparable part of this country. It is a group with a highly defined shared national identity, and which will forever be, as a collective, an important and integral part of Israeli society.”

Rivlin remarks that most of Israel’s Arab residents refuse to accept the idea that the state of Israel is the home of the Jewish people, and adds that some of the Arab leaders within Israel align themselves with Israel’s worst enemies, and incite against it.

“The Arab population is an inseparable part of our homeland,” he adds, however, saying that “we, the Jews, must send out a clear message that it is apparent to us that our homeland is their homeland, and that we intend to live together with them, and that we reject all the calls for forced immigration or even expulsion.”

“The somewhat European goal that most of us have – to live alongside a Zionist minority which sings the anthem with sparkling eyes – will not become a reality in our Middle East,” Rivlin planned to say. “We can’t pretend, or hope that our neighbors will go away, even if we close the window. Furthermore, we mustn’t do it! We must see them as they are and tell them that we accept them as they are and that we seek a true partnership with them.”

http://haaretz.com/hasen/spages/1104884.html

August 3rd, 2009, 5:50 pm

 

Amir in Tel Aviv said:

What’s bothering you, Jad ?
What makes you think that I consider my “tent”, utopic.?
Israel is far from being perfect. I’m full of criticism.
I prefer we had less religious, more secular Israel; I don’t like the few rich
Israeli families taking over OUR national resources; I’m ashamed of
the massacre in the gay community, two days before yesterday; I’m angry with
the discrimination against our Arab population, regarding the national
budget and allocation of investment funds; I think we can do much
better than +-$28,000 per capita; I’m disappointed that some groups
prefer to stay home instead of go to work, and by this, make their
families poorer than the rest of us (ultra religious Jews and Arab women).
And much more.

What’s your fixation with the “tent” of my “tribe” ?
Am I supposed to be insulted by this ?
.

August 3rd, 2009, 8:06 pm

 

Alex said:

From Lebanese TV station LBC (Saudi owned) on Walid Jumblatt’s return to pro Syrian camp (… more or less)

August 3rd, 2009, 8:20 pm

 

SimoHurtta said:

Dictator and his family and handful close circle Alawites collected in foreign banks 20 times the GDP of Syria and ruin the country for ever.

Trustquest you have terrible exaggeration “inflation” in your “circles”. The GDP estimate of Syria in 2008 was 55 billion USD. 20 times it make 1.100 billion USD. It means that “they” are 18 times richer than Warren Buffet. Do you in earnest claim that “the family and handful close circle Alawites” have in bank more money than the Japanese foreign reserves are (1019 billion) or two times more as the Eurozone’s reserves are (531 billion). For comparisons sake the Chinese reserves are 2,131 billion, Israel’s 48 billion and USA’s 78 billion.

Come-on.

But there’s a difference in *motives*, when deciding to let something “for free”.
There’s a difference (in that manner: motives) between states like Denmark and Sweden ( free education, including higher ), and states like Syria and Cuba.

I’ll let you to figure out for yourself, what that difference is.

I can’t figure out what is the difference. All these countries, like also my country, train workforce for free for their economies. Workforce that is not debt-laden up to ears when they are “ready”. Those costs of that education are collected trough taxes and other governmental means.

It is extremely stupid to claim that Cuba and Syria would train doctors and engineers for free for some “mysterious motivations”. It would be interesting to know what those motives in an Israelis propagandist “perspective” are.

August 3rd, 2009, 10:18 pm

 

jad said:

“What makes you think that I consider my “tent”, utopic.?”
Who writes that Israel “democracy” is better than Britain, Italy and the States democracy he is considering himself living in Utopia:
http://joshualandis.com/blog/?p=3782&cp=all#comment-230070

“I’m ashamed of the massacre in the gay community”
Isn’t it because you see that as an attack on a defenceless community?
To understand us you need to use the same rational you used to be ashamed of what your government did to the community you are defending, you need to use the same glasses we SYRIANS use when we see how is your racist government and your army of vicious settlers attacking the defenceless Palestinian and Syrian communities on a hourly bases in any way possible and through all kind of organization your Utopia land creates.

“Am I supposed to be insulted by this ?”
Shouldn’t you ask yourself the same question when you wrote your personal attack on Dr. Norman comments over something you are not fully aware of?
Maybe you get used to be half blind of what is allowed for you and not allowed to others?
In anyway, it is not an insulting calling Israel a TENT/TRIBE, because it is still a tribe living in a tent similar to all its neighbours, they all still live in that stage of tribalism but using a thin crust of civilization as make up to cover their ugliness.

August 3rd, 2009, 10:24 pm

 

trustquest said:

Sim,
Thank you sir, if I’m wrong could you please give me the right number?
I should have added that by the year 2000 they collected that number, however the collection still going on in many ways with competitions between the group and the looser is the country. And the Baathists are very upset for that because they are wondering where is their share.
BTW the 2008 GDP from Wikipedia is 45, IMR number is 55 and World book is 95.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_GDP_(nominal)

August 3rd, 2009, 11:51 pm

 

norman said:

Trustquest,

The baath party should not get blamed for the bad things in Syria , like corruption , environmental mishaps and other problems , but also we should applause the baath party for the good things that it did , like free education , health care , decreasing illiteracy , vaccinating most children ,safety in the street ,
Trustquest , I am sure that ,if you have children , you would punish them when they do something bad and most importantly you would compliment them when they do something good , otherwise they will lose faith in your intention , and that is how you should treat the government of Syria,
Look at what Bashar Sabaiy said above and you too , with an open mind , can see that the glass is half full in regard to Syria and with your and others help it will be full, you just have to do what Sabaiy did , join in lift your sleeves and contribute ,

Nour ,

Syria has an identity , Syria is an Arab state part of one Arab nation , most Syrians relate to that ,yes people of greater Syria have more similarities than the people of Algeria or Morocco, but so are the people of New England in the US in relation to the people of tennessee , Oklahoma and Texas ,

Leoleoni,

The Us is a christian nation with a secular System , I do not know if you live in the US but most politicians in the US keep repeating that we are faithful to our Judea-christian values and like it or not Islam is the majority religion in the Arab world and being inspired by Islam is only natural in Syria and the Arab world , real Islam , as it was started a religion of peace and protection of the minorities , as i see that the only reason for the rise of extreme Islam is the assault by the West on Arab rights over the last 100 year ,

August 4th, 2009, 4:24 am

 

Nour said:

Norman,

First, the US hasn’t yet formed a complete nation, but it is in the process of doing so.

Second, Americans all across the US enjoy a unity of life, the people of the Arab World do not, and never have.

Forming a nation is more than just having similarities. It is constituting a single socio-economic unity, a single life. The natural geographic boundaries between the various nations of the Arab World historically prevented the peoples of these nations from engaging in continuous interaction with each other. And this has prevented them from forming a single life, as opposed to the one people and one society of the single, contiguous, unified geogaphic area of Syria (called by Arabs the Fertile Crescent).

As for the Baath, you are right, they should not be blamed for all the problems in Syria, as this is a deep social problem that can only be cured with national consciousness. However, the Baath is one of the symptoms of our lack of national consciousness and our loss of national identity.

August 4th, 2009, 4:43 am

 

jad said:

What a racist, worthless and pathetic “Israel” democracy?
Thieves!

Knesset green-lights land reform:
http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-3756487,00.html

August 4th, 2009, 5:18 am

 

SimoHurtta said:

Sim,
Thank you sir, if I’m wrong could you please give me the right number?
I should have added that by the year 2000 they collected that number, however the collection still going on in many ways with competitions between the group and the looser is the country. And the Baathists are very upset for that because they are wondering where is their share.
BTW the 2008 GDP from Wikipedia is 45, IMR number is 55 and World book is 95.

BTW in that source you gave the 2008 GBP for Syria is IMF 54,803 million, World Bank 55,204 and CIA 44,490.

Are you sir seriously claiming that the “family” has managed to steal over halve of the GDP between the period of 8 March 1963 and 2000 or between 1970 – 2000? And then continued their “collection”? So it is not 20, it is over 24.

Your “theory” is completely impossible. If that sum over halve of Syrian GDP would have been yearly stolen by the “family” they would have not been able to run the country financially. “They” could not have been able to pay for the army, education etc or invest in governmental businesses. Syria’s GDP is extremely small compared to the size of the country as you well know. “You” simply can’t steal so much from a beggar.

The Norwegian oil profit fund’s (Government Pension Fund of Norway) size is $325 billion and it is holding 0.77 per cent of global equity markets. And you seriously are claiming that “the family” has in banks at least three times that amount of capital. Come-on.

The first rule in making propaganda is to create a convincing story. If you would have claimed that “the family” has in bank one or two billion USD it would be a story people could “accept”. But claiming that “the family” has saving in foreign banks worth over one trillion dollars is a so macabre exaggeration that nobody with brains and ability to use them can swallow such fiction.

August 4th, 2009, 6:15 am

 

Yossi (AKA Rumyal) said:

Jad,

(How did you survive the heat wave? Do you have A/C in your place? We don’t…)

This was essentially the Arab position towards the land reform, from the link you provided:

The Arab parties were enraged by the vote: Balad Chairman Jamal Zahalka called the reform “the great land heist”: “This law will bar Arabs from residing in dozens of communities. The Arab public does not recognize the legitimacy of this law and anything that derives from it.”

Even though I’m against this reform since it will increase the gaps between have and have-nots in Israeli society, and I do also understand the Arab objection (this reform moves confiscated Arab lands into private hands from so-called government custodianship) I believe that there exists a chance, not a slim one, that this reform will actually open up all these privatized lands to Palestinians. It will no longer be in government hands, and could be bought and sold freely. True, there is a provision not to let “enemy entities” take hold of these lands but who would dare call Saudi Arabia or Kuwait enemies after we have a peace agreement with them? They could practically buy the country at that point. And who would dare call an Egyptian real-estate tycoon who would like to buy land an “enemy”? The government will either have to sell the land, or risk dropping the democracy/equality mask again. Either way it’s not bad news for the Palestinian citizens of Israel. I believe they understand that and the protest is a necessary lip-service.

Would the Arabs purchase back what they believe is theirs anyway? The Israelis have gotten used to “bailing” their stolen cars when they end up in the West bank. They pay the ransom because that’s the most practical way to move on. The Palestinians might be offered to pay ransom to liberate some of their lands inside Israel. So what will prevail, interest or pride? Would be interesting to watch.

August 4th, 2009, 6:21 am

 

Granten said:

I’d like to help those groups challenge their authoritarian governments, but sadly the United States was in a precarious position to do that at the best of times. If we’re very lucky we may be able to get Iraq into a pseudo-democratic state and Afghanistan and Pakistan into at least stable states. Iran we may get into a better position twenty years down the road but I’m not going to wager on that. As for Syria, Saudi Arabia, Egypt et al the best the U.S can do is hope and wait, ironically the most powerful state in the world has very little ability to actually use that power.

August 4th, 2009, 6:22 am

 

jad said:

Yossi,
I didn’t think of it that way because I’m 110% sure that it wont happen, those lands will be available ONLY for a Jewish Israeli/European/American, nobody else, period
So your suggestion is a bit too much to even think of or imagine, I’m sorry to tell you that it wont happen in the current Israel, it may happen in Amir’s utopia fiction though 😉

August 4th, 2009, 6:36 am

 

Yossi said:

Jad,

Don’t be so sure. The same way Palestinian residents of Israel are moving into predominantly Jewish cities, they will also be able to buy those privatized lands. The question would be whether it will happen wholesale or retail and whether they will find the financial resources and will be able to forget about the burning insult of paying the ransom…

August 4th, 2009, 6:43 am

 

Yossi (AKA Rumyal) said:

A prelude to the Great Water Wars?! I wonder what Jad and OTW have to say about this drying-up… Is it as bad as reported? Is the damage to aquifers permanent? Wasn’t there a period of time last year that people were very happy with the water allocation situation on the Euphrates, between Syria and Turkey?

http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-3755655,00.html

Syria is drying up
If given the opportunity, Syria will ruin our main water source
Guy Bechor
Published: 08.03.09, 08:47 / Israel Opinion

Syria is experiencing an economic holocaust. There is no other way to describe what the Syrian regime is so much trying to hide. The country is drying up, and no less than 250,000 farmers were forced in the past three years to abandon their land and migrate to the large cities. They live in tents there, completely neglected by the regime. These figures appeared in a special study undertaken by the United Nations and published on the al-Arabiya website.

The immense Euphrates River, Syria’s main source of water, is drying up. The Turks are stopping its water in their territory, so that Syria and Iraq are receiving a declining portion of the water. Within about 10 years, the river is expected to dry up completely outside Turkish territory. Today already, it reaches Syria with contaminated water and therefore its fish, an important source of livelihood, is becoming extinct.

As result of the drought that had been plaguing Syria for several years now, another important Syrian water source, the Aasi (Orontes) River, is drying up as well. Its water is becoming saltier and increasingly contaminated, and its fish are dying off. And without fish, there is no livelihood. Entire villages fed by its waters for hundreds of years are simply being deserted.

Ground water in the country had reached such nadir that it is no longer possible to use the roughly 420,000 illegal wells dug by residents over the years. If there is no water, there is no agriculture; people proceed to leave the village and move to the city. As there is no work there either, the distress is terrible and political pressures builds up.

Many of the farmers leaving their villages are Kurd, which makes the problem an ethnic one. The Kurdish refugees accuse the regime of doing nothing for them. For several years now they have been living in thousands of tents near the big cities without being addressed.

Should Israel pay for Syrian failures?
It turns out that the ruling Baath party is at fault for everything. During the 1960s, the party decided to turn Syria into a grain-exporting state. They viewed it as a victory of the Syrian agrarian revolution. For that reason, they forced the farmers to shift from herding, on semi-arid land, to growing grain. The regime turned a blind eye to the hundreds of thousands of wells that were dug in order to water the grain. Any economist who dared to speak out against this policy was jailed.

Now, with the terrible drought, the grim results are overwhelming this land of 20 million people, half of them farmers. Instead of the 1.9 million tons of grains they expected to produce this year, the farmers managed to supply only 892,000 tons. Ruin in Syrian terms. The implication is that Syria is importing its grains today and has no money.

Syria has an existential interest in getting its hands on the Sea of Galilee in order to get the water needed for its agricultural land. Meanwhile, the water of our poor Kinneret reaches both Israel and Jordan at this time (we provide a fixed amount every year in line with our peace treaty.) Should Syria touch the Kinneret, the amounts of water pumped out of it will be huge. As it ruined its own rivers and ground water, Syria will also ruin our main water source. It has its sights on it, even though it is uninterested in peace with Israel.

Should Israel pay for the failures and mediocrity of the Syrian Baath party? Moreover, when one realizes how badly Turkey robs Syria, should we choose Turkey as the mediator between us and the Syrians? After all, Turkey has an existential interest in seeing the Syrians get the Kinneret. It will take the pressure off.

Ahead of the possible resumption of negotiations with Syria, we should know these figures and be cautious. We should hope that the Americans, who wish to advance talks on the Syrian track, will also be aware of this information.

August 4th, 2009, 6:45 am

 

Shai said:

Jadman,

I agree with Yossi. This Land Reform bill is probably good in the long run. At the moment, some 90% of land in Israel is not private – it belongs to the government. And that has to change. By opening up more land, young people will have more opportunity to finally own their own house, and many will be encouraged to move out of the city. That will completely change the pricing in the market. And as Yossi said, Arabs will finally be able to buy land without needing government permission. There is still a large plot of land in the middle of Tel-Aviv, along one of the major roads, which belongs to none other than… Iran! And despite enemy status or not, Israel respects that land, and will not build on it.

Having said all that, the recent Supreme Court ruling forcing Palestinian residents out of their home in E. Jerusalem is yet further evidence to “preference” status often given to Jewish ownership (also pre-1948).

August 4th, 2009, 8:01 am

 

Off the Wall said:

Yossi
Grain production in Syria, especially in the affected area, is primarily rain-fed and as such, the severe decline in grain production this year is mainly due to the severe multi-season drought affecting the entire region according to the USDA recent regional assessment . Syria’s improved relationship with Turkey resulted in better formalization of water flow into the Euphrates. However, a formal, internationally sanctioned agreement regarding the entire basin is yet to be signed or even proposed. Any such agreement will be a challenging task and it could only be formalized in regional context, Which is already starting . To paraphrase one of UNESCO’s foremost water experts, when was the last water war? Water has been a catalyst for international cooperation more than of wars.
The ynet article, while having some elements of truth, does exactly what ynet is good at, twisting arguments to increase scare levels. Furthermore, I would have fired Guy Boucher for plagiarizing without citation, please read the original article . Boucher politically motivated un-cited plagiarism is incredible. He also ignored to mention that while Syria’s grain production fell 50% from last year due to the drought, Israel’s fell by 58% due to the same regional drought. The baath party had nothing to do with the drought, but it had all to do with the failure to prepare for it and with the increased vulnerability to its impacts. Same can be said about Arnold the gubernator in California.
Alaasi (AKA Orontes) problem is more complicated. First, its drying is due both to reduced snow-caps in its headwaters which feeds, along with winter rain in the lower elevation, the karstic springs of the Al-aasi and its sister Litani. This may be one of the impacts of climate change as well as to annual variability of snow fall and winter rain. Climate change will effectively result in thinner snow, shorter snow season, and an upward migration of seasonal snow-line (as will be the case in California). A second issue is the increased number of ground water wells in the river’s riparian corridor, which are used for irrigating cash crops and for domestic and live stock uses. These wells result in reducing base-flow (i.e., ground water) contribution to the perennial flow in the river. With that, salinity increases in the already high salinity river. An added insult to injury is the un-treated return flow from these heavily fertilized and irrigated areas in the valley, not to mention pesticides, into the main-stream, which brings more salinity and other toxic pollutions. These are typical problems in semi-arid rivers including the Colorado, and a couple of other rivers in Australia.
That said, Syria is expected to be one of the countries suffering the most impacts of climate change. Its water options are limited. But my own impression is that like many other countries or regions, including the southwestern US, the effects of population increase on per-capita water availability will be felt much sooner than that of climate change.

What are the options.
Construction of more dams in the untapped areas. Dam sites must be selected to have lakes with small surface areas but deep profile (reduce evaporation rates during summer months)
Improve water conveyance and distribution efficiency (conservation) through substantial investment in better water lines, plugging leaks starting from the river or ground water farm all the way to the tap in every home.
Rethinking agricultural policies
Improve land management at watershed scale, which requires following through with reduced utilization of fertilizers and pesticides, improved irrigation practices (85% of farmers continue to use traditional irrigation methods) to reduce both water consumption by agriculture and to enhance stream quality.
Nuclear energy powered desalinization (A must not only for water but also for energy)
Improve utilization of effluent (sewage) water as is the case in Orange County, CA, which uses treated sewage (fascinating $490 Million facility) water to recharge ground water aquifer and stop sea water intrusion. The water is treated to similar if not better than original ground water quality using multi-stage approach, which includes biological, mechanical, and reverse osmosis treatments. This may work in large urban areas, but for rural areas, other macro and micro scale approaches (much less costly) can be adopted and are being developed as we speak.
And many more, with chief amongst them are institutional reforms.
Off course, all is much easier said than done, especially with ad-hoc planning and policies.

August 4th, 2009, 9:07 am

 

Off the Wall said:

Yossi
Correction, there are some significant irrigated winter grain crops in Syria. But the decline is also related to the severe drought.

August 4th, 2009, 9:33 am

 

trustquest said:

Sim
The regime looked at the resources of Syria as an entitlement to the family after the 80s turmoil with other forces; it was the dooms day for the country since. Sadly I think there is no correction in the whole world to this unbalance and stray from natural norm except the natural quake reaction to the excessive deviation. That is why I’m adding a touch of reality to the situation in Syria which you casually defend and describe as a pristine and dandy and in good hands to bring justice to the nation.
I’m as a follower of the events and the history of Syria knows that and many others know that these numbers are not only true but documented and published. There is opposition in Syria, inside the system and outside the system. I think I have really different position from you, I as an American from Syrian origin finds myslef not only interested but have a stake in where my birth place is going. 20 millions immigrants outside country mean so much to me and reflect on our lives; I don’t think half of Finland has immigrated running away from hardship of the system. The number I have mentioned is true and there is record for that you can search it yourself.
My question to you, if these numbers are right, does that change your mind about what to advocate and the way you defend establishments.

Sim, please do more search to find out why a dean and economy professor in Damascus UN paid 7 years in prison for venting those numbers you are disputing. I have great respect to your sharp responses and wealth of history knowledge of the area and the way you are defending the countries in the area against imperial forces, but please do not remove the detrimental interior forces from your account.

Another request sir, do not step on the humans for the benefit of the State or the benefit of the few, and when I talk about humans I do not mean individuals I mean the bulk of humans as humans and not only as people in a state, apply Finland human rights to our people because we are humans too.

I think Saddam did not face the dreadful destiny because he was a dictator (I may tolerate dictator in some situation and it could be a phase in the life of the nation) but because he was inhumane unfair dictator and that is where you don’t take in account in all your discussion. In a case like Saddam, the outside forces when they take him down they easy can create a wedge in the society between with and against and open that can of worm, and that is what I’m trying avoid the Syrian nation.
May be you would like to see this link: http://www.syriahr.com/15-1-mrsad4.htm

August 4th, 2009, 3:55 pm

 

Ghat Albird said:

Words from (pre-israel 1947) the past by Harry S. Truman.

In a letter to Eleanor Roosevelt on August 23, 1947 he wrote:

“I fear very much that the Jews are like all underdogs. When they get on the top they are just as intolerant and cruel as the people were to them when they were underneath. I regret this situation very much because my sympathy has always been on their side.”

http://www.trumanlibrary.org/eleanor1947.html

August 4th, 2009, 4:57 pm

 

Nour said:

Trustquest:

The problem with Syria is not just the regime or “the family” as you put it. The numbers you are presenting are indeed unrealistic. While no one disputes that there is heavy corruption in Syria, it is a problem that preceded the Baath and the Assads an one that will continue after them if we remain in the condition we are now. Syria suffered from corruption, poor management, empty slogans, and bankrupt ideas long before the Baath and long before Al-Assad. We can’t always confine all of Syria’s problems to the Baath and he Assad regime. Our main problem is our loss of national identity, which has detracted us from working for the national interest, and instead led us to work for particularistic interests and illusory ideas.

You mention Saddam, and you are right that his brutal dictatorial rule led to his demise. But what did we get after the fall of Saddam? Is Iraq in better condition now? And this is the ultimate problem, that we think toppling regimes will solve our problems rather than working hard to cure our deep social ailments, which will continue to take us from one disaster to another if we do nothing about it.

August 4th, 2009, 5:02 pm

 

Shai said:

Ghat,

That’s dangerous water you’re treading. We could easily find some Lieberman out there, who might say the same thing to his wife, regarding the Palestinians.
Generalizations are dangerous, especially when referencing entire groups of people (Jews, Muslims, Arabs,…)

The particular statement you chose almost has a “lesson” to it, with regards to Jews. Namely, that keeping them as underdogs or always a minority would have been smarter.

August 4th, 2009, 6:15 pm

 

Alex said:

Thanks OTW, very useful. Of course, god knows how many Israeli readers read only Ynet and found that piece very convincing .. they won’t vote for peace with Syria.

Trustquest,

It is unfortunate that you blindly believe anything that \”the opposition\” claims… like those hilarious numbers that you proposed.

I hope one day you will realize that in addition to the very few honest men and women, \”the opposition\” is full of crooks who would be just as corrupt if they manage one day to reach power.

August 4th, 2009, 6:30 pm

 

Akbar Palace said:

Alex’s Mantra: Making the Case for Stagnation

\”the opposition\” is full of crooks who would be just as corrupt

Alex,

I guess we’ll never know for sure.

August 4th, 2009, 7:17 pm

 

Nour said:

Actually we do know for sure, as we saw what those so-called “Iraqi opposition” ended up being.

August 4th, 2009, 7:45 pm

 

jad said:

Dear OTW,
That was an outstanding analytical paper about the water situation in Syria, with great solutions that need to be adopted.
Thank you!

August 4th, 2009, 8:27 pm

 

jad said:

Yossi, Shai,
I hope that you prove me wrong, but I don’t think it’ll be the case at all.
In Syria we have a say: (al maktoob mbayen min inwano)
(The letter’s content is as obvious as its title)

August 4th, 2009, 9:18 pm

 

Ghat Albird said:

SHAI.

Talk about dangerous waters the folowing is an extract from a Uri Avnery commentary in Counterpunch.

“There were days when we could stand up anywhere in the world and proudly declare “I am an Israeli”. No one can do that now. The name of Israel has become mud. Since the Gaza War, in which our army poured molten lead onto men, women and children, many Israelis avoid speaking Hebrew in the streets of foreign cities and the IDF has ordered the faces of some of its officers – those whose rank equals yours – be obscured in pictures published in the media.”

Now thats real dangerous don’t you think?

August 4th, 2009, 9:37 pm

 

Off the Wall said:

Alex and Jad
Thank you both. I wrote that late last night, more recent data shows some mixed good and bad news. The above-mentioned USDA report was from the past season (Sept 2008). Since then, things have improved in some areas, but not in others, especially the hard hit jazeera region, where some of the damage in Hasaka due to the prolonged drought obliterated the rain-fed potentials.

SYRIA: Wheat Production Outlook Improved in 2009/10

August 4th, 2009, 11:18 pm

 

Alex said:

Akbar,

We already know, we already know

Go google

Khaddam
the ikhwan (Muslim brotherhood)
Farid Ghadri
Mamoun Homsi

all bad news.

August 4th, 2009, 11:32 pm

 

SimoHurtta said:

I’m as a follower of the events and the history of Syria knows that and many others know that these numbers are not only true but documented and published.

It would be interesting to know documented where and by whom. Professor Aref Dalila doesn’t mention such sums as you mentioned in his last lecture before his arrest.

Another request sir, do not step on the humans for the benefit of the State or the benefit of the few, and when I talk about humans I do not mean individuals I mean the bulk of humans as humans and not only as people in a state, apply Finland human rights to our people because we are humans too.

Well I surely would like the whole world including Syria to become democratic in a peaceful manner and in a way Syrians want democracy.

The only thing where I was “stepping on humans” is the absurd size of your claim. It is simply impossible “to put aside” over halve of the small Syrian GDP so that country could even function on the level it has done. If “the family” would have over one trillion on bank accounts and in investments they would have enormous influence in the world’s financial circles. Do you see any evidence of that? I can’t.

If that over one trillion would be invested the yearly interests and dividends alone would be bigger than the Syria’s GDP. If the sum would be invested in profitable manner the yearly profit could be 2 or even 3 times Syria’s GDP. Do you seriously believe that such one trillion moguls would bother to rule Syria, when they could “rule” the western financial markets and major companies and not have to wait assassination attempts, Israeli aggressions and nukes or coup d’etat.

August 4th, 2009, 11:39 pm

 

Alex said:

Off the wall

Thanks. In Hassakeh is it a real problem, but that joker in Ynet was way off.

For example, here are the numbers form this year:

http://www.syriasteps.com/index.php?d=132&id=37466

الفلاحون السوريون يقبلون على بيع قمحهم للدولة

17/06/2009

يظهر الفلاحون السوريون إقبالا على بيع قمحهم للدولة، إذ وفقا للأرقام الصادرة عن المؤسسة العامة لتجارة وتصنيع الحبوب فقد بلغت الكميات المسوقة لها لغاية أول أمس إلى ضعفي الكميات المسوقة لها في الفترة المماثلة من العام الماضي وما يقارب من 60% من الكميات المتوقع شرائها من المحصول لهذا العام.

وبينت المؤسسة بأن هذا الأمر قد تجلى بوصول الكميات المسوقة لغاية أول أمس إلى 1252190 طنا قابلها في ذات الفترة من العام الماضي 542113 طنا وهي من أصل الإنتاج المقدر لهذا العام البالغ 3.24 مليون طن ومن أصل الإنتاج المتوقع شرائه من المؤسسة والذي يقارب المليوني طن فقط.

وفيما أشارت مصادر المؤسسة إلى أن عمليات الاستلام لا تزال في أوجها فقد توقعت أن يتم تخصيص رقم قريب من الأرقام الموضوعة للشراء في هذا العام مبينة أن عمليات الشراء تتوازى مع استمرار وصول الكميات المتعاقد عليها من الخارج، ومنها الأقماح الإماراتية المقدمة هدية لسورية والبالغة 500 ألف طن وصل منها حتى الآن 400 ألف ولا يزال الباقي قيد التوريد و 210 آلاف طن من العقود الأخرى ذات المنشأ الفرنسي والروسي التي وصلت من ضمن عقود أجرتها المؤسسة بهدف دعم المخون الاستراتيجي الموجود لديها والذي تحتفظ به عادة.

August 4th, 2009, 11:48 pm

 

Alex said:

Another thing I just remembered .. years 1958 to 1961 there was a serious drought in Syria … Those were the years of union with Egypt under the leadership of President Abdul Nasser. Just like the Ynet author is blaming it all on the Baath, some people in Syria at the time blamed it on the Union with Egypt.

August 5th, 2009, 12:02 am

 

trustquest said:

Sim,
I did not mention the trillion, I have told you the Mr. Dalila statement was in 2001 and you do the scale you need because some people still have no clue how to scale thing relative to each country. If someone or a group collected more than the GDP of a country this is not corruption or theft, this is a looting on dramatic scale, and we might care less but we care because a country can no function normally when you deprive it from its cash. I have provided you with the lawyer statement which included 5 billions, 900 houses not to mention the gold at the time when the GDP was around 12.
I wish you re-read what you claim you have read. This is a quote from the link you provided.

“Not us, they are the ones who presented them with a gift of at least one hundred billion dollars of the wealth and incomes of the Syrian people, a figure which is equivalent to five times the collective productive investments in Syria.”

This way you can see the impossible is likely and documented from the lawyer mouth. All you have to do is estimate the number of big collector to get the right figure. It is up to you to figure out how much the US hold from this money and how much in the banks.

August 5th, 2009, 12:44 am

 

Yossi (AKA Rumyal) said:

OTW,

That was very a enlightening analysis. Thanks a lot! I’d like to write more, but tied up at work at the moment, so I’ll get back to this tonight.

August 5th, 2009, 1:16 am

 

Shai said:

Ghat,

Yes, beyond dangerous, it also brings great shame unto my people. But it is a horrific crime that Israel has committed, not the Jewish people! Please learn to separate between the two. To say “Most Israelis supported the Operation in Gaza” is a true statement (at the beginning, 94% supported it, unprecedented.) But to say “Jews should remain the underdog… otherwise they become intolerant…”, is Racism in the purest sense.

Please don’t feel that when I point to Racism I am justifying in any way shape or form what Israel has done to the Palestinians over the past 60 years. I’m not.

August 5th, 2009, 4:48 am

 

SimoHurtta said:

Sim,
I did not mention the trillion, I have told you the Mr. Dalila statement was in 2001 and you do the scale you need because some people still have no clue how to scale thing relative to each country. If someone or a group collected more than the GDP of a country this is not corruption or theft, this is a looting on dramatic scale, and we might care less but we care because a country can no function normally when you deprive it from its cash. I have provided you with the lawyer statement which included 5 billions, 900 houses not to mention the gold at the time when the GDP was around 12.
….
All you have to do is estimate the number of big collector to get the right figure. It is up to you to figure out how much the US hold from this money and how much in the banks.

Up to me Trustquest? You made the claim, not me. You clearly claimed before:

Dictator and his family and handful close circle Alawites collected in foreign banks 20 times the GDP of Syria and ruin the country for ever.

You still have not provided the link from where you got this 20 times the GDP.

I only showed that with basic mathematics the value of that 20 times the GDP in present days values is about one trillion.

I think that you must separate in your critics more clearly the loss of opportunities because bad fiscal governmental management and personal governmental “pension funds”.

In US propaganda we often have read of the asthonishing amounts of billions different not liked dictators were claimed to have. Strangely after the regime change only a fragment if any of those billions are ever found. Forbes managed to put Castro and Saddam on the richest list only by “estimating” part of the governmental buildings value as their personal property. But in the rather unclear “science” of estimating the personal wealth of dictators you Trustquest earned a record place in the Gunniess record book of propaganda. Why satisfy to 20 times the GDP, say 30 times.

By the way how much do you believe the Egyptian dictator has put aside? 10 times Egypt’s GDP or even 20?

August 5th, 2009, 5:21 am

 

jad said:

I totally agree with you Shai,
(But to say “Jews should remain the underdog… otherwise they become intolerant…”, is Racism in the purest sense.)
That is a very ugly and PURE RACISM and should not be tolerated or accepted in any way and in any context of our comments and exchange
Pointing out Racism is a must, it is the first step to build a better society.

August 5th, 2009, 5:35 am

 

Shai said:

Jad,

Thank you. The problem is our children. If we pass our Racism onto them, then we really are lost. I was watching an interesting documentary yesterday about a girl in Sana’a who became somewhat of a celebrity in town, because she refuses to wear the hijab. So the camera follows her around, and you see people angry at her, supporting her, etc. At one point, she asks some kids what they do after school, and they answer “We curse the Jews”. I remember my reaction was twofold – First, to wonder why they say “Jews” and not “Israelis” (or Zionists) and, second, is our battle for Peace really lost now that we’ve passed this on to our children.

I think the same thing when I watch some Jewish Settler kids on TV yelling curses about Arabs. (I wonder if the children of Akbar’s friends in the West Bank behave the same way. I wonder if he knows.)

Over the years I’ve reached the conclusion that getting rid of Racism cannot be a prerequisite to Peace, for otherwise it’ll never happen. Unfortunately, our leaders and our governments must first “impose” peace upon us.

August 5th, 2009, 6:01 am

 

jad said:

Dear Simo,
That was a funny reply 🙂 but please, take it easy on our Syrian brother Trustquest, to be honest, it ticked me off when I read the word ‘Alawites’ next to his comments because it wasn’t necessary nor accurate since there were many of all other sects and religion in that circle and for me it makes his point less attractive when he points out one sect out of all of us.
Regardless of that and regardless that his numbers are not very accurate, the fact of corruption he is pointing out is true and stealing millions/billions of Syrian’s money by many in our corrupted government is also correct.
I don’t know the real numbers but I can tell that it is lots of money taken away from Syria progress and future.
The corruption in our country is way too high and is not slowing down at all that we as Syrians and for the sake of our own future shouldn’t tolerate that any more, we need a solution and if we don’t openly talk about that particular issue in an aggressive yet accurate way nothing will change.
Simo, I know very well that your point was about the exaggerated amount not the fact of corruption and that you are only looking for the accurate numbers so please correct me if you think that I am wrong, I’m here to learn.

August 5th, 2009, 6:07 am

 

Yossi (AKA Rumyal) said:

OTW,

First, it’s an interesting observation that water can be a catalyst for cooperation. My question would be if it’s an issue that can serve to increase an already existing relationship, or can it even be a catalyst to forming new relationships and alliances. e.g., in all likelihood Syria and Israel will not be able to cooperate to solve water problems before they have established some relationship. Also, isn’t Darfur a water war? Again it illustrates that you need a framework—functioning governments(s)—so that the only recourse is not killing the other person that drinks your water. I hope we will not get to that in the Middle East, that would be huge failure (I don’t think we’ll get there, I’d hope our governments are not that dysfunctional).

Guy Bechor is a hack job, that’s for sure, but the crisis is real, as you note, draught or not, due to population growth. In Israel they are still selling citrus farmers water from wells at production cost (about 0.3 NIS per cubed meter) and at the same time desalination cost about 3 NIS per cubed meter). In this case, in pure economical terms, it doesn’t make sense for Israel as an economic body to grow citrus trees. We’d be better off drinking those water. But if we (Israel, Syria and other countries in the same position) stop growing our own food then we’d have to buy and transport it, and then the mark for basic food stuffs all of the sudden becomes dependent on oil prices (it is already—through cost of fertilizers and pesticides—though). Also, what to do with all the people who would not be able to farm anymore? (And perhaps the real answer is reducing population growth?)

Nuclear powered desalination is another example where a peace agreement could help, at least in the sense that it will reduce suspicion towards the introduction of nuclear energy for civilian use. I wonder though what large scale desalinization would do to the Mediterranean, as it is almost sealed off, wouldn’t state-scale desalination increase water salinity and temperature too? We can’t have the pie and eat it but it would be at least good to know what are the likely effects.

Israel has taken the following steps to deal with the draught:
1. Almost complete ban on watering private gardens.
2. Reusing bath water to water private gardens.
3. Rewiring plumbing at private homes to re-use bath water as toilet-flushing water.

But there will be no escape from stopping some of the irrigation agriculture at some point.

I wonder about Guy Bechor’s claim that Syria will demand some of the water of lake Galilee, whether there was any agreement on how this issue will be addressed in a peace agreement. I would expect this o be a crucial “no” from the Israeli side. Boaz Wechtel has been promoting an idea of a canal from Turkey through Syria and ending in the sea of Galilee. I don’t know the exact details but it seems to be based on the premise that the Turks have excesses to share, which seems doubtful.

Thanks again for your detailed response!

August 5th, 2009, 7:47 am

 

Akbar Palace said:

The problem is our children. If we pass our Racism onto them, then we really are lost.

Shai,

Again, I simply ask you to speak for yourself.

http://littlegreenfootballs.com/weblog/pictures/PalestinianChildAbuse/

I think the same thing when I watch some Jewish Settler kids on TV yelling curses about Arabs.

Shai,

That’s fine too. I agree that the time for stamping out racism is way over due. But there is a long way to go.

http://www.memri.org/bin/latestnews.cgi?ID=SD246609

(I wonder if the children of Akbar’s friends in the West Bank behave the same way. I wonder if he knows.)

Shai,

I’m glad you (indirectly) asked me. The people I met in Efrat were intelligent, well-read religious Jews (not crazy religious like the Mea Shaarim crowd) who are conscientious of their surroundings. I didn’t hear one “settler” speak badly about Arabs, say, like Rabbi Meir Kahane used to.

I hope you’re not surprised. The people I met were proud of their heritage, their devotion to God, and their commitment to build Israel up.

Unfortunately, our leaders and our governments must first “impose” peace upon us.

Like Oslo? The people will know when to make peace, like they have many times before.

August 5th, 2009, 11:21 am

 

Shai said:

Akbar,

As usual, your attack-first mode did not enable you to hear a general plea in my words. “Our children” means “All of us” (Jew and Arab). I’m glad to hear your Settler friends in Efrat are “intelligent, well-read religious Jews… who are conscientious of their surroundings.” I hope besides “conscientious”, they are also “aware” that they are living on another people’s territory, and that they will not be staying in the West Bank forever.

I was impressed by your gallery (153 photos) of Palestinian children indoctrinated to fight Israel using all means. I’m sure if you were in their shoes, say if you were living in Gaza right now, you’d come up with a different plan. You’d bring up your children to “love and respect” all human beings, certainly the Israelis that have been so kind to your people over the past 40 years. But I wonder something else – do you also keep track of the photos of Settler youth mistreating Palestinians? (spitting, cursing, beating up, destroying property, that kind of good stuff)

I’m sure your Efrat Settler-friends are raising their kids to view the Palestinian people living all around them as equal in every way. Or are they?

August 5th, 2009, 12:27 pm

 

Akbar Palace said:

I hope besides “conscientious”, they are also “aware” that they are living on another people’s territory, and that they will not be staying in the West Bank forever.

Shai,

YOU many think Efrat or the Old City of Jerusalem is “another people’s territory”. But I believe it is Israeli territory.

Kind Hussein of Jordan thought it was his territory until the 1980s.

The Egyptians thought Gaza was their territory until the peace treaty with Egypt in 1979.

Everyone has claims to the same territory and the only way to figure out who gets what is to compromise and negotiate.

I’m sure your Efrat Settler-friends are raising their kids to view the Palestinian people living all around them as equal in every way. Or are they?

My friends and family from Efrat believe every Israeli should have the same rights. They might not like the idea of an Arab living in Efrat, just as, say, an Arab may not like a Jew living in East Jerusalem or Umm al-Fahem. That’s where I think peace can help ease this type of mentality.

August 5th, 2009, 1:15 pm

 

Solomon2 said:

Meir Kahane came to speak at my University once. Many of us Jewish students (all Zionists, I think) showed up early to fill up the front rows. Then, once the Chancellor introduced him, we all silently got up and walked out, before Kahane could say a word. This, we thought, was the most effective way to demonstrate our rejection of the man and his message.

August 5th, 2009, 1:46 pm

 

Shai said:

“The Egyptians thought Gaza was their territory until the peace treaty with Egypt in 1979.”

Akbar, Egypt never thought Gaza was their territory. If it had, Gaza would have been returned to Egypt together with the rest of the Sinai. Egypt merely administered the territory from 1948 until 1967, when Israel captured Gaza.

There is only one nation on the face of this planet that thinks the Palestinian Territories are Israel’s. That nation is Israel. No other country recognizes our legitimacy there, nor on the Golan Heights. I know that doesn’t impress you much, that NO ONE supports our Occupation of this territory, but ordinarily it should.

I’m sure the fact that none of America’s allies supported her war in Vietnam would not have bothered you then either. But your reluctance to consider your reasoning, or the merit of your cause, stems either from some innate arrogance (No one understands OUR problems like WE do!) or simple paranoia (Everyone out there is against us). Either way, we are bound to err time and again, and to bring horrific consequences upon ourselves and upon others, if we remain so blinded.

I’m sure many an Americans also did not consider it reasonable to apologize to the native Indian population, or to African-Americans. Their “Truth” was far stronger. But you’re not an extremist, you’re a moderate. You’re about determining the status of the West Bank through negotiation. Well what about Israel proper? What if the Palestinians tell you “You want to negotiate about Efrat? No problem. Let’s also negotiate about Jaffa, Ramla, Lod, and Haifa. If there were Jews in Efrat 2000 years ago, we can show there were Arabs in those cities 2000 months ago…”

Not a SINGLE country on earth recognizes those things you want to “negotiate”. Don’t you find that slightly absurd?

August 5th, 2009, 2:03 pm

 

Shai said:

Solomon2, I applaud you and the rest of the Jewish students who got up! We need more Israelis like you here.

August 5th, 2009, 2:05 pm

 

Shai said:

“… the only way to figure out who gets what is to compromise and negotiate.” But first, let’s establish some facts on the ground. http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/1105316.html

Akbar, I’m curious, what’s your position on the eviction of those Palestinian families from their home in E. Jerusalem?

And if you believe the Court was right to award those houses to the pre-1948 Jewish owners, should the Court also award pre-1948 Arab owners their homes in West Jerusalem, and anywhere else in Israel?

(Apologies to everyone for the multitude of comments! I’m exercising Occupation of SC! Not funny…)

August 5th, 2009, 2:45 pm

 

Yossi (AKA Rumyal) said:

Akbar Palace,

If there is an Olympic sport that you and your settler buddies could take a medal in that would be eye rolling gymnastics. Your “religious” buddies have created a racist reality in order to support a lifestyle that is optimal for them without any consideration to the other. If Israel would have annexed the territories and given equal rights to all that would have been a different kind of debate, but your buddies are living there in a blatantly unequal system that is upheld by violence. Some religion your buddies have.

Not to worry Akbar, your friends in Efrat will hopefully soon have the option to live in one big equal state or as citizens of Palestine. All the power to them! Maybe at least then the government will stop investing in the settlers at least twice as much as it does in “ordinary” and “plain” citizens from Israel proper. The truth is I don’t really care about your rich Anglo-Saxon buddies, they have money and options, and will always be able to move when the conditions turn in their disadvantage. The real problem are the hundreds of thousands of poor people that the government practically sends to the settlements with its subsidies, in settlements such as Maale Edomim, Modi’in Ilit and the neighborhoods in the annexed parts of Jerusalem. These are the people who will pay for the shortsightedness and greediness of your buddies the Anglo-Saxon leaders of the settlement movement. These are the people who’ll be kicked around like “little green footballs” at crunch time.

August 5th, 2009, 4:19 pm

 

Akbar Palace said:

Akbar, Egypt never thought Gaza was their territory. If it had, Gaza would have been returned to Egypt together with the rest of the Sinai. Egypt merely administered the territory from 1948 until 1967, when Israel captured Gaza.

Shai,

I disagree. The Egyptians fought hard against Israel in the ’48 war and claimed Gaza up until 1967. Even if they wanted to, they could only have given it to the PLO after the PLO formed in 1964.

The point being, Jordan and Egypt gave up their claims to Palestinian land when the Palestinians slowly matured into an independent community. Really, no different than the relationship between Palestine and Israel.

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

There is only one nation on the face of this planet that thinks the Palestinian Territories are Israel’s. That nation is Israel.

True. At one time Jordan and Egypt claimed Palestinian terrortory, and now they don’t. Israel and Palestine still need to work this out as they both claim parts of each other’s land (and let’s not forget, some Palestinians claim all of Israel, like most of the Arab participants here).

I’ll skip Vietnam and Indians… BTW – You didn’t mention the Old City of Jerusalem, and the “chutzpah” Jews have for claiming it.

Solomon2, I applaud you and the rest of the Jewish students who got up! We need more Israelis like you here.

Solomon2,

CC: Shai

I also attended a Meir Kahane speech at my university several years ago. I’m embarrassed to say that, at the time, I was impressed. Today, I am sorry I didn’t walk out on him.

Akbar, I’m curious, what’s your position on the eviction of those Palestinian families from their home in E. Jerusalem?

Shai,

I don’t know the details of the case, but it seems that the Israeli Supreme Court studied it and found it to be owned by Jews. As I understand, the ISC does not always vote in favor of the GOI.

I see you concur with Israel’s liberal newspaper Haaretz:

http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/1105316.html

I feel that if Israel claimed all the land she captured after 1967, the government would be obligated to find them housing somewhere else. However, now that there are two states, the Palestinian government should be responsible for addressing housing for Palestinian refugees. I think these Palestinians have to determine if they want to be citizens of Israel or citizens of Palestine. If they want to remain in Israel, the GOI should find them another place to live.

Your “religious” buddies have created a racist reality in order to support a lifestyle that is optimal for them without any consideration to the other.

Yossi,

How is living in Efrat any more racist than living in Um al-Faham? I’m truly puzzled.

If Israel would have annexed the territories and given equal rights to all that would have been a different kind of debate, but your buddies are living there in a blatantly unequal system that is upheld by violence. Some religion your buddies have.

Israel DOESN’T want to annex the West Bank, nor does she want to rule unequally. That is why the West Bank was never annexed. To my knowledge, Efrat is no more violent than Sderot, Nahariya, or Acre.

Not to worry Akbar, your friends in Efrat will hopefully soon have the option to live in one big equal state or as citizens of Palestine.

I have absolutely no clue. What about those settlers in the Jewish Quarter of Jerusalem? What do you predict about them?

The truth is I don’t really care about your rich Anglo-Saxon buddies, they have money and options, and will always be able to move when the conditions turn in their disadvantage.

I don’t think they have any more money then the liberal “Tzfonim” living in North Tel Aviv. My wife’s cousin actually worked quite hard for everything he got, and with a disability no less. But I did notice they are “rich” in spirit.

These are the people who will pay for the shortsightedness and greediness of your buddies the Anglo-Saxon leaders of the settlement movement. These are the people who’ll be kicked around like “little green footballs” at crunch time.

Yossi,

You’re obviously a bit hostile and you needn’t be. Ben Gurion’s acceptance of the Partition Plan didn’t seem greedy to me. And Israel’s offer to Arafat at Camp David 2000 seemed very generous.

Frankly, Israel shouldn’t have to wait for Hamas and Fatah to accept Jews in Israel before building a community.

Besides that, I think the Camp David proposal was good and I would sign up to it if it provided peace and an end to the conflict. This proposal gave the Palestinians 95% of the WB, and the remaining percentage could include areas outside of the WB. It also allowed part of the Old City to be under Israeli control.

August 5th, 2009, 6:18 pm

 

Shai said:

“However, now that there are two states, the Palestinian government should be responsible for addressing housing for Palestinian refugees.”

Akbar, first, as far as I know there are not “two states”, but only one – Israel. Unless of course you consider living under Occupation having your own state. Second, we are not talking about Palestinian refugees that were kicked out in 1947/8 or 1967. We’re talking about families in E. Jerusalem that were kicked out by the Supreme Court of Israel, the only State that is Occupying the West Bank. That the Supreme Court also rules against the government should in no way provide you some “blanket trust” that it must be doing the right thing now. You have a brain and you can read the news, and make up your own mind. Even if AIPAC and CAMERA.org have yet to comment on the issue.

“Israel DOESN’T want to annex the West Bank, nor does she want to rule unequally.”

What?!? Since when has Israel wanted to “rule equally”? Do you consider the Occupation over the past 42 years “ruling equally”? What “equality” have the 4 million Palestinians received exactly??? Can you name a few “equal” rights please? That statement is as absurd as suggesting Pieter Willem Botha just wanted to “rule equally” all along… It was the blacks of South Africa that got in the way!

Come on, you’re losing concentration. Stay focused on propaganda that stands a chance!

August 5th, 2009, 7:31 pm

 

Yossi (AKA Rumyal) said:

Akbar,

Nothing beats eye rolling gymnastics in the morning. Invigorating exercise.

August 5th, 2009, 8:23 pm

 

Akbar Palace said:

Shai, Yossi,

Like you, I’m looking forward to and end to The Occupation™. When that solemn day comes, like it did on June 5, 1967, everyone will put down their guns and sing Kumba Ya;)

http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,536689,00.html

August 5th, 2009, 8:34 pm

 

Ghat Albird said:

Suggested to a soothsayer acquaintance the eye rolling exercise that Yossi claimed is invigorating and after he did it this morning he came up with the following three

That Isrealis and their avid supporters better accept the fact that Eretz Israel will never happen.

That the Palestenians and their avid supporters better accept the fact that unless they develop an equal military capability to Israel they will never have a state of their own.

That regardless of the above two and according to a study funded by the CIA Israel will cease to exist within the next 20 years.

That eye rolling gymnastics no matter what time its done its definitely an eye opener.

August 5th, 2009, 8:45 pm

 

Shai said:

Ghat, didn’t that study also forecast the End Of The World come January 1st, 2000? 🙂 (Come on, let’s try to remain serious.)

Akbar, ask your buddies from Efrat what kind of “Training Initiatives” take place in the Territories. I know the young men there don’t have Muslim-sounding names, and they supposedly believe in the same God you do, but are they that much different from those who participate in “Terror Camps”? Ah, but the Muslim trainees are also ready to die, and the Jewish ones aren’t, right?

August 5th, 2009, 8:55 pm

 

jad said:

مين بقي من هلوزراء السوريين العظمين ما بدو تكسير ادين و رجلين وطرد ومحاكمة على يلي عميعملو بهالبلد؟
وزير العدل، وزير الكهرباء، وزير الصحة، وزير الادارة المحلية ، وزيرة الشؤون الاجتماعية والعمل، وزيرة البيئة، وزير الثقافة، وزير الاعلام، وزير السياحة، وزير الصناعة، وزير الزراعة ، وزير المواصلات، وزير الري و وزراء الدوله المظهرجيه؟

حلقة جديدة من الاستهتار:

http://syria-news.com/readnews.php?sy_seq=99437

عائلة سورية تعتزل بمزرعة بريف دمشق لإصابتهم بإنفلونزا الخنازير

August 5th, 2009, 9:21 pm

 

Akbar Palace said:

That the Palestenians and their avid supporters better accept the fact that unless they develop an equal military capability to Israel they will never have a state of their own.

Ghat,

Yes, that was the Palestinian problem before the ’67 War and after the ’67 War.

Some things never change, no matter how many Leftists you throw at it.

August 5th, 2009, 10:51 pm

 

Akbar Palace said:

Akbar, ask your buddies from Efrat what kind of “Training Initiatives” take place in the Territories.

Shai,

Geez, now you’re going to compare Daniel Boyd to my family and friends in Efrat?

Boy, I suppose there really is no end to Liberal excuse making of terrorists.

Anyway, here’s the indictment against Daniel “I love Jihad” Boyd…

http://graphics8.nytimes.com/packages/pdf/national/20090728_terror_indictment.pdf

http://www.newser.com/article/d99sfjvo0/feds-us-terror-suspect-preached-jihad-in-home-had-access-to-26-guns-27000-bullets.html

August 6th, 2009, 12:20 am

 

trustquest said:

Jad,
I did not say Alawites as you said, I said “the dictator and handful of close circle Alawites”, which is different from you said. If you find my description is wrong, please correct me and provide us with the correct one as you see it.

Sim,
You seemed passed my comment on 45.
The story is not if it is 20 times or 5 times, the story is when national wealth drained on the level of GPD it is a dreadful situation no country can recover after that. The original comment was a reflection on the Baath party who is watching all this looting and still there is someone considers him as champion of good.

August 6th, 2009, 2:47 am

 

jad said:

Dear Trustquest,
Be very sure that I respect you and your comments.
When it comes to the huge amount of money stolen from us, be it half, equal to, 20 times or even 30 times of the GDP, for me all are absolutely unaccepted and should be paid back to Syria, it is a theft from the people pocket and our future.
Back to our disagreement point of “the dictator and handful of close circle Alawites” for me that is unfair because the circle you are talking about is not only Alawites, you have Khaddam, Tlas, Shhabi, Daboul, and lately you have Hamsho and many more who are not Alawites, in that same circle you have Christians and Druzes as well, so you writing ‘close circle of Alawites’ didn’t work well with me and I consider that to be incorrect and putting the lights on one sect forgetting all others.
Have you visited any Alawites village lately? Do you know how miserable people lives in those villages? Alawites as sect are part of Syria and they are equally hurt as any other Syrians from the corruption we are criticizing.
As educated and open minded Syrians we have to set the standard higher than any average Syrian otherwise what make us different than any ignorant sectarian person who sees Syrians as sects and tribes?

August 6th, 2009, 5:13 am

 

Shai said:

Akbar,

Excuses? It’s you who’s giving us every excuse in the book for why Israel should NOT make peace with Syria, with Hamas, with Hezbollah. It’s you who demands capitulation-first of your enemy. It’s you who has an explanation for why Israel has to Occupy the Territories and the Golan.

I have no excuses for any of those things. And it is me and my children that are paying the price for our “excuses”, not you. From the safe shores of New Jersey, fox news links sure are cheap.

August 6th, 2009, 6:35 am

 

jad said:

Shai,
I honestly can’t imagine how SC would be without men like you and Yossi in it, you two have so much good energy, it makes me happy just reading your words.
I wish that average Syrians can see that even in the middle of the darkness there is light and there is always good people who use their flame to lead us to safety.
God bless you, your families and any man and woman who knows the way and doesn’t stop marching toward it through all kind of obstacles they face.

August 6th, 2009, 6:55 am

 

SimoHurtta said:

Sim,
You seemed passed my comment on 45.
The story is not if it is 20 times or 5 times, the story is when national wealth drained on the level of GPD it is a dreadful situation no country can recover after that. The original comment was a reflection on the Baath party who is watching all this looting and still there is someone considers him as champion of good.

If you claim that the “story” is 20 times of the GDP so that 20 is the story. In your comment (number 45) you quote completely wrong GDP numbers to which I answered in the comment number 49. To your claim in comment 45 that the baathists are upset and asking for their share I have nothing to say, because I have no knowledge what Syrian baathist think, what is supposed to be their their share and how upset they are.

I did only say in my comments that your claim of 20 times of GDP to be made during a 30 years period is an absurd big “estimation”. I do not defend the regime (“family”) or the party (Baath). Nobody denies that there does not exist or had existed widespread corruption in Syria and other Arab nations. I can’t provide you or anybody else the with the correct number. The only thing I can say with “self-confidence” that the 20 times the GDP during 30 years is an absurd and impossible exaggeration. If you provide an exact number, which you did, it is your responsibility explain to sceptical readers on what you base your numeric claim. Not tying to pass the ball back. If you can’t defend your 20 timed GDP claim avoid using such exact claims and simply speak about “vanished” billions.

By the way the Finnish police has finished (just told in radio news) its inspections of the corruption in arms trades (artillery) between the state owned defence equipment manufacturer Patria and Egypt. Some Finnish businessmen are probably facing jail time, the Egyptian side who got the money hardly. 🙂

A link to the earlier developments of this sad “technology transfer”.
http://www.hs.fi/english/article/Adviser+accuses+Patria+of+questionable+selling+tactics/1135225488064

August 6th, 2009, 7:43 am

 

LeoLeoni said:

Alex,

You have stated:

“\”the opposition\” is full of crooks who would be just as corrupt if they manage one day to reach power.”

That is a grotesque generalization and an insult to a large proportion of Syrians who oppose the Baath party and the government policies. This is something very typical that we hear from Pro-Baath, government supporters, and the Arab ultra-nationalists who lash out at anyone who disagrees with their policy and are automatically labeled as traitors and agents.

“The Opposition” is not a monolithic entity. It is comprised of any independent individual, group, or party that opposes the government policy or the Baath party, because de jure and de facto they are intertwined. Between themselves, these individuals, groups, or parties may have a different vision, ideal, or political program, which in many cases are conflicting. You may disagree with all opposition, that is your right, but to label them as crooks and to assume that they will be just as corrupt once they reach power is abusive and not does not help any case.

Afterwards, Akbar stated that “I guess we’ll never know for sure” (if they will ever be as corrupt), and you reply
“We already know, we already know
Go google
Khaddam
the ikhwan (Muslim brotherhood)
Farid Ghadri
Mamoun Homsi
all bad news.”
1st, assuming these 4 individuals/group are as corrupt/crooks as you say, do they represent all opposition?
2nd, May I know what do you have on the ex-Parliamentarian prisoner Mamoun Homsi?
3rd, Are the Damascus Declaration for Democratic National Change also crooks/corrupt?

4th, What about those thousands of opposition political prisoners who were jailed for speaking their views, names like Riad Turk, Fidaa Horani, Riad Seif, Aref Dalila, Michel Kilo, Anwar Al Bunni?

August 6th, 2009, 11:07 am

 

Akbar Palace said:

Excuses? It’s you who’s giving us every excuse in the book for why Israel should NOT make peace with Syria, with Hamas, with Hezbollah.

Shai,

First you condemn everything Israel does. All the while, you find it difficult and nearly impossible to criticize the actions of terrorists and jihadists. So naturally you compare peaceful settlers in Efrat to Daniel “I Love Jihad” Boyd. I suppose Mr. Boyd and his family suffered greatly under Zionist Occupation™.

Then you compare your excuse-making of jihadists to my “excuse making” of Israel and “why Israel should not make peace”.

I’ll explain myself again at the risk of boring the readership here.

1.) I don’t know what Syria is offering for the Golan. If YOU know please list the details.

2.) Hamas does not recognize Israel per their anti-semitic charter.

3.) Ditto for Hezbollah.

4.) Israel is not going to unilaterally withdraw to the green line or the Golan. There is nothing “holy” about the green line and NO ONE with half a brain expects Israel to give up their claim to the Old City of Jerusalem.

What’s your “excuse”?

I am all for “land for peace”, and when I know the details, I’ll tell you whether I’m for it or against the “proposed” agreements.

It’s you who demands capitulation-first of your enemy. It’s you who has an explanation for why Israel has to Occupy the Territories and the Golan.

How am I for “capitulation first”? I’ve stated numberous times that everything must be implemented simultaneously. Certainly Israel shouldn’t withdraw before knowing what “peace” she gets in return. Why would you expect “captiualtion-first” from Israel but not the Arabs? Get real!

I have no excuses for any of those things. And it is me and my children that are paying the price for our “excuses”, not you.

OK, convince your countrymen that your way (Israeli “capitulation first”) is better than my way: negotiation.

From the safe shores of New Jersey, fox news links sure are cheap.

Don’t be afraid of my opinions, or Fox’s, or any other source. Just make a case that makes sense Habibi.

God bless you, your families and any man and woman who knows the way and doesn’t stop marching toward it through all kind of obstacles they face.

Shai,

CC: JAD

At least your opinions are welcomed by the readership here. And that’s no small feat.;)

Shai,

cc: Yossi

BTW – You sort of side-stepped a number of questions that I asked you yesterday. Please use your intellectual, ethical and moral prowess to answer:

1.) How are the residents of Efrat more “racist” than the residents of any other Arab village?

2.) How is the government of Israel more “racist” than the Palestinian Authority?

3.) Should the GOI make any claims for the Jewish Quarter and/or the Western Wall? As you know, it is beyond “The Green Line”.

Kach Yom Tov

AP

“”the opposition” is full of crooks who would be just as corrupt if they manage one day to reach power.”

Leoleoni,

I am certainly overstepping the bounds of my knowledge for arguing this point, but it seems as if Alex knows everything about Syrian politics.

I just feel that one can never know unless given the opportunity. Thank you for coming to my defence. Haven’t the Assads had enough time (40 years?).

August 6th, 2009, 12:20 pm

 

Akbar Palace said:

Today’s Question:

Are the people at Human Right’s Watch as mentally deficient as they seem?

Rights group: Hamas “may have” committed war crimes

http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20090806/ap_on_re_mi_ea/ml_palestinians_war_crimes_2

August 6th, 2009, 12:30 pm

 

Yossi (AKA Rumyal) said:

AP,

I’d love to explain to you what is wrong about Efrat but unfortunately, and I hope I don’t sound too pompous here, I don’t have a lot of free time to do that at the moment, and I have to think how I apply my time in an optimal manner. I think that there is little value in debating you since I have yet to see you change your opinion on any topic. At the same time, there is nobody else here who could benefit from such analysis because everybody else knows how much the settlements are unjust and an impediment to reaching peace. But I’ve noted down to do some research in my blog (where I can include pictures and maps) to answer your question more fully.

August 6th, 2009, 3:36 pm

 

Akbar Palace said:

At the same time, there is nobody else here who could benefit from such analysis because everybody else knows how much the settlements are unjust and an impediment to reaching peace.

Yossi,

Thanks, that’s fine. We’re all busy I know.

Let me just say that settlements never impaired signing a peace treaty. As you know, it is a myth. The peace treaty with Egypt is one such data point. Every time the GOI has asked settlers to leave, they go one way or the other.

That being said, if a settlement gets too large (Ariel, Maale Adumin, Efrat), it does make it more difficult. Yamit was a large settlement. That’s gone. The settlements in Gaza were not small; they’re gone too.

Israel now awaits further negotiation before leaving anywhere.

August 6th, 2009, 5:07 pm

 

Alex said:

Dear LEOLEONI

http://joshualandis.com/blog/?p=3612&cp=all#comment-230209

I definitely did not imply that all the opposition leaders, critics, and their supporters are crooks. “Full of crooks” means there are so many crooks.

The names I listed are all corrupt unethical politicians aspiring for money and personal power. They are also the ones who had the best chance to replace the current government system in Syria had the Bush administration’s efforts been successful in overthrowing the Syrian leadership.

The names you mentioned are the more respectable ones, and I have stated a thousand times my disappointment when Kilo and Dalileh for example were in prison. But Kilo and Dalileh were never going to govern Syria … and they were not the ones behind the energetic negative propaganda that was mostly coming from the crooks (Ghadry and khaddam and Homsy …)

What do I have against Homsy? … how about his meeting with Bush and Ghadry? .. how about his appearance on LBC to apologize for his majesty, the King of Saudi Arabia, on behalf of the Syrian people? then to tell us how great is Saudi Arabia and its wise king …

Here is Farid Ghadry telling us about his meeting with Mamoun Homsy “Why I admire Israel”

http://ghadry.com/?p=284

He is exactly the type of hypocrite and corrupt “opposition” that make me sure I prefer what we currently have.

Again, I am full of respect to many of the brave and patriotic figures in the opposition, and I am not impressed at all with corruption in Syria … a lot more can be done about it.

The starting point of my comment was to tell Trustquest how disappointed I was in seeing an intelligent man like him absolutely trusting anything he reads from anything “opposition” and refusing to trust anything from “the regime”… I made the point that opposition leaders are mostly corrupt politicians, just like the rest of politicians. We have to filter the propaganda coming from “opposition” sources and their websites and their friends… like Mamoun Homsy who many of you respect.

August 6th, 2009, 6:53 pm

 

jad said:

Dear Alex,
I agree on every word you wrote in your last comment.
I want to add that we didn’t hear any voice of those who pretend being the opposition about what really matters in our lives, they are useless and opportunist.
Lots of crooks indeed!

August 6th, 2009, 9:47 pm

 

Alex said:

Thanks Jad. All we heard from “The opposition” was generic pro democracy statements. That was the fashionable thing to say during the Bush administration’s years.

Here is Ghadry supporting Israel’s Golan bill:

http://reformsyria.org/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=3110:statement-concerning-the-knesset-golan-bill-&catid=101:syrian-opposition-pr&Itemid=324

August 7th, 2009, 1:59 am

 

trustquest said:

Alex, it seems I’m an ignorant and I do not know as much as you know and I should stop reading from all sources and keep reading the government sources, because I easily get taken by any piece of information. Actually I did not bring any piece of information from any resource except the Syria News and government resources which I built on it the amount the looting the country has subjected to. What I was trying to point out that no country can function after embezzling that large chunk of money accounts to more than its GDP, it is impossible, and I thought this fact might inspire you and the government supporters to find solution otherwise, my stupid mind telling me that collapsing is imminent and I do not wish that to my birth place. Dalilah spoke of 100 billions dollars deposited outside the country by the year 2001, this number is a formula for disaster, if you like your birth place tries to highlight the danger it’s in and give solutions. I’m not talking about toppling the regime I’m talking about a system will collapse naturally if nothing done about it. Economy and oppositions is essential to the survival of any country in these times, thing can not be ignored for ever.

August 7th, 2009, 2:12 am

 

LeoLeoni said:

Alex,

There is nothing wrong with meeting the most powerful president of the world at a conference on Democracy and Security. Ghadry happened to be there and discussed various issues with Homsi regarding Democracy and freedoms. There is nothing wrong with sitting with other people and discussing various issues, even if they oppositely disagree on the principles. Politicians do that all the time, even with their enemies. The only difference is that transparent folks do it publicly, because they have nothing to hide, as opposed to our leadership who tries to do everything in secret, behind closed doors.

In addition, there is nothing wrong for calling on closer relations with a fellow Arab country like Saudi Arabia, a regional powerhouse and the most influential country in the Gulf and GCC. Why is it okay to praise the Iranians, including Khamenai and Ahmedinajad (Syria was the first country to praise Ahmedinjad in the last Iranian elections) and yet it’s frowned upon to praise other countries and their leadership?

You stated:
“Again, I am full of respect to many of the brave and patriotic figures in the opposition, and I am not impressed at all with corruption in Syria … a lot more can be done about it.”

The corruption can only be eradicated when there is transparency within the system. Transparency comes with freedoms, especially civil liberties and political freedoms. Since these are almost non-existing, thus, the corruption, nepotism, despotism, and political trials will continue to exist.

Many would rather discuss international relations than discuss internal issues. While they have all right to do so, one thing we must understand is we can never achieve much on the international arena without solving all those 30+ years of pending issues that deal with the political, legal, economical, and social problems within Syria.

August 7th, 2009, 2:31 am

 

Akbar Palace said:

The “Olive Wood Camel Award” goes to none other than Leoleoni this morning (for his post above).

Your 100% olive wood camel will be mailed to you today and should arrive within 5-7 business days.

Here’s your UPS tracking number:

498209081539501Z877125

August 7th, 2009, 12:48 pm

 

Nour said:

Leoleoni,

There is definitely something wrong with meeting a foreign president when you know what that foreign president’s declared intentions are toward your country. Any half-intelligent person knows that the Bush administration’s goal was the destruction of Syria, ala Iraq. And therefore, meeting with such figures and cheering such an agenda as a so-called “opposition” figure is quite disingenuous and debased. Moreover, what could he possibly have to talk about with Farid Ghadry when Ghadry positioning himself as a supporter of “Israel” against Syrian interests. This is not serious work to change the current situation in Syria but rather a spiteful reaction to quench a vengeful thirst.

As for the Saudi King, there is no reason why a Syrian opposition figure should be heaping praise on such a corrupt treacherous figure. Yes politicians and state heads meet with representative of different countries and forge relations with them because this is the nature of the world. Countries have to deal with each other. Yet it is also possible that relations sour between countries due to a divergence of interests, which was the case between Syria and KSA at the time. However, as a Syrian opposition figure, Mr. Homsy is not at this point in charge of forging ties with other countries on behalf of Syria, and therefore has absolutely no reason to place the Saudi king above his own country especially when that king had been working against Syria’s interest.

August 7th, 2009, 2:01 pm

 

norman said:

Hi Nour ,

I saw this in the Comment section of Haaretz, you would like it,i think ,

Syrian President Hafez Assad once told PLO leader Yassir Arafat:
You do not represent Palestine as much as we do.
Never forget this one point: There is no such thing as a Palestinian People,
there is no Palestinian entity, there is only Syria. You are an integral part of the Syrian people,
Palestine is an integral part of Syria. Therefore it is we, the Syrian authorities, who are the true representatives of the Palestinian people.

Assad stated on March 8, 1974, “Palestine is a principal part of Southern Syria, and we consider that it is our right and duty to insist that it be a liberated partner of our Arab homeland and of Syria.”

In the words of the late military commander of the PLO as well as member of the PLO Executive Council, Zuhair Muhsin:

There are no differences between Jordanians, Palestinians, Syrians and Lebanese.
We are all part of one nation. It is only for political reasons that we carefully underline our Palestinian identity…yes, the existence of a separate Palestinian identity serves only tactical purposes. The founding of a Palestinian state is a new tool in the continuing battle against Israel.

http://www.peacefaq.com/palestinians.html

I know it is difficult to accept so at least try to discredit the source or the poster 😉

August 7th, 2009, 7:40 pm

 

Alex said:

11. trustquest said:

Alex, it seems I’m an ignorant and I do not know as much as you know and I should stop reading from all sources and keep reading the government sources, because I easily get taken by any piece of information.

Dear Trustquest:

“it seems”? .. from where? … All I was saying was that one should be suspicious when reading “opposition” supplied information just as one is usually suspicious when reading government owned publications.

Leoleoni,

I agree with Nour … it is none of Mamoun Homsi’s business to call an LBC program discussing internal Lebanese politics then to keep talking until they shut off his mic, about the virtues of the King of Saudi Arabia and about the mistakes of teh Syrian regime …

It was cheap … low, and silly. I’m sorry, but if his meeting with Bush and Ghadry were not enough to totally expose his character (an opportunist) then his phone call to LBC did it.

As for your other points you made, I agree with you to a large extent .. indeed, progress can be much more feasible if we had rule of law, transparency, and accountability. Too bad. I understand the challenges, but we are not doing enough at all.

August 7th, 2009, 10:40 pm

 

Alex said:

They seem to be doing something about the environmental threat of plastic bags in Syria:

http://syria-news.com/readnews.php?sy_seq=99512

إطلاق حملة “لا لأكياس البلاستيك” للحد من تلوث البيئة في سورية

الاخبار المحلية

أطلقت وزارة الدولة لشؤون البيئة اليوم حملة وطنية وإعلامية حول مضار أكياس البلاستيك وانعكاساتها تحت عنوان لا لأكياس البلاستيك.

وقالت وزيرة الدولة لشؤون البيئة كوكب داية في بيان صحفي إن “المخرج الوحيد وتجنب الخطر المميت لاستعمال البلاستيك هو الإزالة التدريجية لاستعماله وإنتاجه واستخدام الأكياس القماشية والورقية وسلال القش ذات المظهر الجميل والصحي”.

وكانت الوزارة كشفت مؤخرا أن الملوثات الموجودة في دمشق فاقت الحد الطبيعي, لكن لعمل جار لوضع دراسات ترصد مواصفات وتطوير معايير التلوث ووضع الحلول المناسبة للحد منه.

وأضافت داية أن “الأكياس البلاستيكية إضافة إلى آثارها السلبية على الصحة فإنها تشوه البيئة وجمال الطبيعة وتسبب تلوث البيئة ونفوق الحيوانات حيث ينفق كل عام مئة ألف حيوان من الدلافين والحيتان والبطريق بسبب أكياس النايلون التي يتناولونها خطأ”.

يشار إلى أن هذه الحملة الوطنية تنفذ بالتعاون مع جميع الجهات الحكومية والجمعيات الأهلية التي تعنى بشؤون البيئة.

Some of you might remember that we discussed this issue on SC three months ago:

http://joshualandis.com/blog/?p=2745

Aliens in the shape of plastic bags

I joined the I Hate Plastic Bags group on Facebook before the trip but now I have all the more reason for it. I have seen other countries where there is no concept of recycling or collecting plastic bags, where poor people use them as food containers for their daily rice or soup. One country where these bags just lie around after use was Vietnam. But Syria was a lot worse. In fact, of the many villages we drove through, not a single one was without a serious littering problem. The bags were everywhere, myriads of them. It is not just an aesthetic problem. These bags don’t rot for a long time, and sheep die after swallowing them. There seemed to be no serious trash problem in the cities. We even saw see garbage collectors. And little trash in the alleys. The cities were clean compared to how the countryside looked; especially the inner cities with the historic sites were being taken care of. But the countryside looked pathetic. Unfinished concrete houses, plastic bags, concrete, plastic bags, concrete, plastic bags. The few communal sites, like the roundabout we saw on the way to Dura with a fountain and the usual Assad father and sons portraits, looked like leftovers from the Soviet Era. It had this desolate look and seemed unused for decades. And of course full of plastic bags. I can imagine that a concept like communal effort (everybody get together and pick those bags up) does not apply to Syria but it does apply to the communist or socialist countries I knew here in Europe. Therefore, I don’t understand why Syria, being a tightly run one-party one-family country, can’t solve this problem. Everybody get up and pick up the trash. Invent a national trash-pick up-day. What’s the problem? Am I too romantic?

August 7th, 2009, 10:46 pm

 

Akbar Palace said:

As for your other points you made, I agree with you to a large extent .. indeed, progress can be much more feasible if we had rule of law, transparency, and accountability. Too bad. I understand the challenges, but we are not doing enough at all.

Alex,

What would happen to you if you held a large poster on the corner of some busy intersection in Damascus saying, “Syria needs fair elections, Syria needs progress”?

What do I have against Homsy? … how about his meeting with Bush and Ghadry? .. how about his appearance on LBC to apologize for his majesty, the King of Saudi Arabia, on behalf of the Syrian people? then to tell us how great is Saudi Arabia and its wise king …

If they are so bad Alex, let them run and be beaten by Assad?

AP

August 7th, 2009, 11:44 pm

 

trustquest said:

Plastic bags scattered across the land unfortunately is not because of the use of the plastic bags, it is because of the lack of standard land fill in any place in Syria and the lack of modern urban solid waste management system. Since the creation of municipalities the trash is sold outside the cities to the farmers and used as a fertilizer and some sheep and goat Bedouins who sell milk, find it a great source to feed the animals so they visit daily the trash piles around cities. I used to see them inside the city and around the trash piles as a normal scene and then see them move to the neighborhoods and sell milk fresh from the sheep or goat.

USA till now, could not find alternatives to the use of plastic bags even the research has been going on since the sixties. One of the stocks I owned promised green alternatives to McDonalds chains 20 years ago and they till now could not come up with the promised product.

The Syrian authority because of the priorities and because of the cash shortage can not come up with the real solutions to the waste removal and disposal or build a standard land fill (which everybody knows by now the consequences of over blown government bureaucratic system and scurity apparatus which they can not get rid of due to safety reasons), the authorities are an able to handle the tons of environmental, health, management and economic problems compiled through the years, so they encourage and cheer to any public participation which they find useful as a way of truing blame to the on public for shortfall of the government, regime, system becuae they can not blame the real perpetrators for and they can not point to where the real deficiencies are (cash). That is the reason why I mentioned the billions of dollars in foreign banks which is really like a human body needs 5 liters of blood to function and only has 1 litter and most of it going to one place.

The danger of re-using plastic bags in Syria is very serious things. I noticed in my last visit in 2006 that there are people (vendors) who come to trash pins ( pictures available, and Synews made report on this) collect the plastic bags for recycling = reselling them to the stores and to be re-used again and again. My advice if you see a shop owner using used bags, be careful for hygienic issues to yourself and your family and your loved ones. I had hard time where to buy trash bags and when I found the place the only bags I found was very dated black thick and without wrap.. Read the comments on this same subject : http://www.syria-news.com/readnews.php?sy_seq=99512

Plastic bags for the food reserve is not known in Syria yet, when my wife visit Syria she takes to her mom, zip bags, aluminum foil and clear plastic wrap, not to mention that public and shop owners can not afford them.

August 8th, 2009, 4:44 pm

 

Alex said:

Akbar,

I wish we can see them run. But it is not my priority for now.

Completely unrelated item:

The (Kurdish) President of Iraq says he does not own any property in Iraq.. his home is an apartment he purchased in Damascus

http://www.aawsat.com/details.asp?section=4&issueno=11212&article=531038&state=true

يقع بيت الرئيس طالباني، وهنا كان علينا أن نتعود على لقب الرئيس كرديا باعتباره «مام جلال»، وتعني «العم جلال» وليس الرئيس طالباني، على سفح جبل، ويطل على جزء كبير من المدينة، البيت مؤثث بالأعمال الفنية التشكيلية من لوحات ومنحوتات، قالت زوجة الرئيس هيرو خان إنها تختار هذه الأعمال بعناية بالغة، اختيارات تنم عن وعي ومعرفة وفهم دقيق لموضوع العمل وبنائه وألوانه التي تتناسق مع كل ما موجود في البيت من أثاث ينم عن ذوق رفيع يجمع بين البساطة والجمال.

بروحها البسيطة وابتسامتها وحديثها الذي يوحي بالثقة العالية بشخصيتها، وعلى الرغم من بساطتها التي تلغي المسافة بينها وبين الآخرين، رحبت بنا صاحبة البيت، هيرو خان، سألتها إن كانت تفضل بين البقاء في السليمانية أو بغداد، قالت: «أنا أحب بغداد لأنني أمضيت فيها جزءا من حياتي ودرست في إحدى جامعاته، المستنصرية، لكنني أفضل البقاء في السليمانية لأشرف على إعالة منظمتي التي تهتم بالأطفال، وعلى العموم فأنا منذ تزوجت وحتى اليوم لا أعرف الاستقرار، سنوات متنقلة في الجبل، ثم بين دمشق والسليمانية، والآن بين السليمانية وبغداد، وهكذا».

قلت: «بيتكم يبدو جميلا»، ابتسم الرئيس طالباني وعلق قائلا: «هذا ليس بيتنا، هذا البيت مسجل في دائرة العقاري باسم الاتحاد الوطني الكردستاني، ولو تراجع دوائر تسجيل العقاري سواء في السليمانية أو بغداد، أو أية مدينة عراقية لن تجد هناك عقار واحد أو قطعة أرض مسجلة باسمي أو باسم زوجتي، نحن نملك شقة واحدة في دمشق اشتريناها عام 1975،

August 9th, 2009, 11:00 pm

 

Alex said:

I would appoint Hoff as ambassador to Syria.

http://www.champress.net/index.php?q=ar/Article/view/42116

يستبق خطة أوباما عن السلام …هوف يزور دمشق خلال أيام لإجراء محادثات “مهمة”

تزامناً مع زيادة الحديث عن احتمال إطلاق الرئيس الأميركي باراك أوباما خطته للسلام الشامل في الشرق الأوسط، نقلت وكالة الأنباء الألمانية عن مصادر مطلعة مواكبة للعلاقات السورية الأميركية أمس عن أن السفير فريدريك هوف نائب المبعوث الأميركي للسلام في الشرق الأوسط السيناتور جورج ميتشل يعتزم زيارة سورية خلال الأيام القليلة المقبلة.
وأكدت المصادر التي لم تسمها الوكالة أن وفداً غير سياسي سيرافق هوف في زيارته إلى دمشق بهدف إجراء محادثات مهمة مع المسؤولين السوريين استكمالاً لزيارات سابقة قام بها ميتشل وهوف في الأشهر القليلة الماضية في إطار “خريطة طريق بين واشنطن ودمشق” كما اصطلح على تسميتها في وقت سابق.
وتدور محادثات مباشرة بين إدارة الرئيس أوباما والقيادة السورية من خلال ميتشل منذ عدة أشهر تشمل العلاقات الثنائية ومسارات السلام في المنطقة والوضع في العراق والأراضي الفلسطينية ولبنان والملف الإيراني.
واستبق هوف زيارة ميتشل إلى سورية الأسبوع الأخير من الشهر الماضي بمباحثات أجراها مع وزير الخارجية وليد المعلم.
وتناقلت بعض وسائل الإعلام خلال الأيام الماضية خبراً عن أن الرئيس أوباما بعث برسالة إلى الرئيس الأسد تتعلق برؤية أوباما لعملية السلام في المنطقة لكن لم تعلن أي مواقف رسمية من الجانبين بهذا الخصوص.
وتتزامن زيارة هوف مع معلومات أشارت إلى أن أوباما سيطرح خطته لتحقيق السلام في الشرق الأوسط مطلع أيلول القادم خلال اجتماعات الجمعية العمومية للأمم المتحدة.
ونقلت قناة المنار اللبنانية عن مصادر في واشنطن لم تسمها قولها إن استناداً لخطة الرئيس أوباما “ستبدأ مفاوضات مكثفة (بين العرب والإسرائيليين) تستمر من ثلاثة إلى ستة أشهر، على أن توقع اتفاقيات السلام في مدة أقصاها عامان”.
وأردفت: إن “المفاوضات يجب أن تنتهي بانسحاب إسرائيلي من الجولان والأجزاء المحتلة من الأراضي اللبنانية، وفي إطار اتفاقيات وترتيبات أمنية تشرف عليها الولايات المتحدة”.

الوطن

August 9th, 2009, 11:03 pm

 

Zenobia said:

Landfill is not a solution to anything. that’s what syria needs? some landfill of plastic and incineration fumes added to the already putrid air?… i think we could do better than that.

There is such a thing as biodegradable plastic bags. They are slightly more expensive than regular ones and not so easy to get just anywhere, but they DO exist.

I am still in favor of someone starting the pick up the garbage campaign…. who is going to do it…. I am still waiting…… since this subject came up three years ago!…

August 11th, 2009, 6:18 am

 

trustquest said:

Zenobia, I do not like either those large landfills which stretch miles and go 50-100 deep emitting gas, building golf courses above do not reduce environmental impact. I don’t think they are suitable for country like Syria after building long experience and knowledge in this field but that was the technology available after the 50s that been adopted by most countries.

BTW, could you please name a brand of biodegradable plastic bags.
I know that some partially biodegradable degradable type of plastic bag exist but still not green enough to call them fully degradable, but that was not my point. My point is that Syria did not move into the planned urban solutions whilst its population increases many folds and stayed pedaling in place and kept the 50s thinking because state was not interested, they were busy with other things and problems piled not only in trash collection or sewer treatment.

When trash sold to farmers it should not be used before going into some type of process at least the removal of plastic bags or by grinding of the trash and some sort of treatment.
What ever effort you put in collecting these bags from the field you can not succeed because it’s renewable.

Petrochemical industries did not find its way to Syria yet and you wish state opened its doors to this type of industries it could have changed Syrian’s economy.
Municipalities laws remain primitives and not enforced and the results is what you see when you visit the any city and what worse than that is size of the unplanned communities especially in the capital because after the 70s, there was no control of any type.

August 16th, 2009, 6:47 pm

 

jad said:

Zenobia,
Landfills when exist or planed is not 100% bad, it can be used for producing electricity through the methane that comes out of the decompose of organic waste and that is actually if planned can help the environment by reducing the pollution and help in the electricity shortage we have in Syria, however, this solution needs more strict and more organized society than us.

Trustquest,
I agree with you that in Syria there is no vision in any municipality/town/village of a real future plan for dealing with the collective garbage or having solution, we are still behind in that field and our environment is already hit the wall with major impacts on our health.
Regarding the plastic bag solution I think the Irish tax implementation on plastic bags was more effective than banning the plastic bag use altogether as we might implement one day in Syria since that ban may result in introducing bribery and give the police the baton they need to get more money from those small plastic factory owners to let them produce and not bother them for the ‘usual’ price.
The problem of plastic bags is global it defiantly worsen in the developing countries than the developed one, China already ban them but still has the problem, India is thinking of doing that but they will face the exact same problem we face. An introduction of new materials might be good as well as keeping the plastic bag collectors to do the collect and give them some refund by the government/the waste management companies as a solution to reduce the number of plastic bag in the country and destroy them in the best way possible.
I liked your idea of encouraging the petrochemical industries which will lead to a great future if the government adopt it.
That is the far I know about the subject, and I strongly believe that it is an extremely important subject that we need to educate our Syrian society about for the future and our government MUST do real work on that instead of running away and be blind on what is important as they usually do.

August 17th, 2009, 4:49 am

 

trustquest said:

Jad,
I have a personal question to you, I think Alex mentioned previously that you are a city planner; if that is the case could you please tell me what are doing in Syria?. I mean I don’t think you will find work in your profession, may be you do politic and that is fine, this way there is a reason why you are there. I’m serious in my question and not trying to be less respectable.
I believe there is no need for such profession and if there is a need they do not utilize such profession and that is what I’m trying to say about the political structure in Syria. I think there is no indication that they are going into that direction either. This political attitude is what is governing the administrative mind which has different priorities reflect on the live of the citizens and creating that chaos we see in the real world on all levels. The political system in Syria is not yet ready to delve into introduce “planning” of any sort since the political clout is larger than the public demand and voices which kept oppressed under the tyranny. Do you agree with me?

August 19th, 2009, 1:26 am

 

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