Palestine and Lebanon: The US in Quicksand

"If America thinks it can fight us from Iraq and Lebanon, it will fail. They are not nations. They are quicksand. Syria is strong; it has a government. and must hold firm because time is on its side. America will sink and be eaten." This was what Syrian officials told me in 2005 when their government was under great strain, having just pulled out of Lebanon.

It was the highpoint of US strength vis-a-vis Syria. The first UN report investigating the murder of Rafiq Hariri had just be published, implicating Syria. Most American analysts were predicting that the Syrian regime was on its last legs and would crack within months. Some officials suggested there would be a coup; others believed that Assad would make a Qadhafi-like about-face to save himself.

It was hard to square the contradictory perceptions of the region's condition. Syrian officials believed Bush did not understand Middle East realities. Westerners insisted that Bashar did not understand the "new reality." Syrians gambled that the US position in Lebanon would collapse as surely as Israel's in 1982, following the invasion of Lebanon. The Middle East remained a place divided by sect and ethnicity, unprepared for democracy, the Syrian regime concluded. The US believed this Syrian assessment was merely self-serving. The regime was a house of cards. It would collapse when confronted by international pressure and the weight of US and Israeli military superiority in the region. Washington concluded that a new Middle East was aborning. 1982 was long in the past. The Cedar revolution had given a fresh foundation to Lebanese politics and created a national platform which could sustain US ambitions to transform the region and pressure Syria. Anyway, Americans insisted, the US would never make the mistake President Reagan had committed in 1983 when he withdrew US marines from Lebanon after the barracks' bombing. America had new will, new might, and clarity of leadership.

Today, it looks as if the Syrians were correct in their regional analysis. Robin Wright uses the quicksand analogy in her article, quoting Ellen Leipson that the present situation is “close to a nightmare for the administration.” It is a "morass" that "just gets deeper," she explains.  

Nothing is ever so simple, however. The US may rally and find a way to breathe new life into the PLO if the PLO can capture the West Bank. Israel and Washington should be chastened to the point that they will turn on the money spigot in a meaningful way. If they can flood the West Bank with enough dollars to make a difference, the US position will be retrieved momentarily. Of course, such a rally, cannot be sustained, for the US and Israel are in no mood to make meaningful political concessions to any Palestinian leadership.

Lebanon accuses Syria of assassinating another member of parliament, which may or may not be true. It follows on Lebanese accusations that Syria is the mastermind of Fatah al-Islam. This last accusation is less plausible. Syria authorities cannot be displeased that the Palestinian situation is blowing up in March 14 hands, but much of the problem is of Lebanese making. Keeping the Palestinians in camps, forbidding them to hold jobs in the official Lebanese economy, and restricting their educational possibilities has produced an subculture of despair. 

The Lebanese government has neglected to police people coming into the country, allowing jihadists to collect in the camp, many coming from Saudi Arabia. The SITE Institute has an excellent overview – “The Rise of Fatah al-Islam.” It ties the organization to Saudis and suggests that much of the leadership and recruitment was put together by the Jihadi community, which has no connection to Syria. The jihadists have explained that their strategy is to spark conflict between Syria and Lebanon in an effort to weaken both governments, leaving a void into which they can expand. A number of the commentators on this site even speculate that Islamists may be behind much of the past violence in Lebanon. There is no way to know whether this is true, but it cannot be dismissed.

I am copying two articles below, one by Robin Wright and another by Ellen Knickmeyer, both of which explain how US policy is floundering. The Knickmeyer article explores the extent to which Saad Hariri has backed Salafists in Lebanon, thus permitting an environment in which Jihadists have had free rein. Accusations that the Future Movement or the US have supported Fatah Islam are not credible without proof. So too are the accusations that Syria is secretly running the organization. The notion that Syria has done a lousy job of stopping jihadists from traveling to Lebanon across its borders does not mean that it runs the organization or has played a role in organizing it. Every country has done a lousy job of stopping jihadists from traveling to Lebanon, including Lebanon's allies, such as Saudi Arabia. The blame for the number of foreign nationals who have joined Lebanese and Palestinian residents in the Jihadi community in Lebanon must ultimately be shouldered by Lebanon's immigration and security services. Getting full control over these services and reforming them has not been easy. Eventually, Lebanon will have to rescind the 1969 Rabat Agreement that guaranteed Palestinian immunity in the camps, just it will have to come to agreement with Hizbullah. 

The French invitation to Hizbullah to come to Paris may provide a new opening for such an agreement. Let's hope the US does not try to pop this trial balloon and instead welcomes it. Sarkozy has positioned France well to become a mediator. By embracing Israel and at the same time claiming that he wants to engage Hizbullah and Syria, he is opening a new chapter.

For U.S. and Key Allies in Region, Mideast Morass Just Gets Deeper
By Robin Wright
Washington Post Staff Writer
Sunday, June 17, 2007; Page A16

The Middle East is in flames. Over the past week, war erupted among the Palestinians and their government collapsed. A Shiite shrine in Iraq was bombed — again — as the new U.S. military strategy showed no sign of diminishing violence. Lebanon battled a new al-Qaeda faction in the north as a leading politician was assassinated in Beirut. And Egyptian elections were marred by irregularities, including police obstructing voters, in a serious setback to democracy efforts.

U.S. policy in the region isn’t faring much better, say Middle East and U.S. analysts.

“It’s close to a nightmare for the administration,” Ellen Laipson, president of the Henry L. Stimson Center and former vice chairman of the National Intelligence Council, said in an interview from Dubai. “They can’t catch their breath. . . . It makes Condi Rice’s last year as secretary of state very daunting. What are the odds she can get virtually anything back on track?”

Each flash point has its own dynamics, but a common denominator is that leaders in each country — Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, Lebanese Prime Minister Fouad Siniora and Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak — are each pivotal U.S. allies.

“The people we rely on the most to help are under siege, just as we are,” said Bruce Riedel, a Brookings Institution fellow and former National Security Council staffer. “Three of the four leaders may either not make it [politically] through the end of the summer or find themselves irrelevant by then.”

The broad danger is a breakdown of the traditional states and conflicts that have defined Middle East politics since the 1970s, said Paul Salem of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace’s Beirut office. An increasing number of places — Iraq, Lebanon and the Palestinian territories — now have rival claimants to power, backed by their own militaries.

Also, once divided by the Arab-Israeli conflict, the region is now the battleground for three other rivalries: the United States and its allies pitted against an Iran-Syria alliance in a proxy war regionwide, secular governments confronted by rising al-Qaeda extremism, and autocratic governments reverting to draconian tactics to quash grass-roots movements vying for democratic change.

Extremists are scoring the most points. “Gaza is the latest evidence that most of the trends are pointed in the wrong direction. It’s yet another gain for radical forces. It’s another gain for Iran. It’s another setback for the U.S., Israel and the Sunni regimes,” said Richard Haass, president of the Council on Foreign Relations and State Department policy planning chief during President Bush’s first term. “The United States has not shown that moderation pays or will accomplish more than violence.”

A second danger is that conflicts now overlap. “You can’t look at Lebanon or Iraq or the Palestinians or Syria or Iran and try to deal with them separately anymore. You could have 10 years ago. Now they are politically and structurally linked,” said Rami Khouri of the American University of Beirut.

Khouri said the United States deserves a good share of the blame for a confluence of disasters spawning pessimism and anger across the region.

On the Palestinian breakdown, he said, “It’s hard to know who appears more ludicrous . . . the Palestinian Fatah and Hamas leaderships allowing their gunmen to fight it out on the streets of Gaza and the West Bank, or an American administration saying it supports the ‘moderates’ in Palestine who want to negotiate peace with Israel.”

U.S. officials counter that the Palestinians have demonstrated a sense of national identity and are not likely to want to split the West Bank and Gaza. Because the West Bank is the center of the conflict with Israel, a peace process remains viable, they say.

In Iraq, the second attack on Samarra’s mosque and the failure of the Baghdad security plan to lessen the death toll shows that U.S. influence and power is slipping away, Laipson said.

“The best that we can hope for is that, come autumn, the administration will be able to persuade Congress to support a much-reduced U.S. presence and avoid simply pulling out,” Haass added. “If we can do that, it will at least give the Iraqis more time to try to discover a national political identity and reduce the chance that Iraq will be seen simply as an American foreign policy disaster.”

In Lebanon, a beleaguered government faces a triple threat. The Army entered the fifth week of fighting a few hundred Fatah al-Islam extremists, who held out in a Palestinian refugee camp despite a U.S. infusion of arms and ammunition. The car-bomb killing of anti-Syria parliamentarian Walid Eido has deepened fears that Syria is seeking to reassert control after its 2005 withdrawal. Hezbollah is still blockading Siniora’s government — both politically and physically.

“What’s consistent about all three is wanting to get rid of the Siniora government. It’s not coordinated, but it will stretch the government to its limits,” Riedel said.

U.S. officials counter that Siniora has proven surprisingly resilient, despite Syrian attempts to restore its control. In Egypt, the detention of hundreds of activists, including candidates for parliament’s upper house, reflects the deteriorating state of democracy efforts. “Arab regimes are regrouping now that the U.S. push for democracy seems to have come to an end,” said the Carnegie Endowment’s Salem.

But even former Bush administration officials blame Washington for the region’s latest woes. “The U.S. bears responsibility, both for things it’s done, particularly in Iraq, but also for things it’s not done, which is where the peace process comes in,” Haass said. “The president never developed his idea of a Palestinian state. He never used his leverage to help Egypt get launched on a trajectory of greater openness.”

The United States finds itself active in more Middle East theaters than ever but with less ability to influence events, said Robert Malley of the International Crisis Group. “It is very much now manipulated in places that it once thought it could manipulate.” 

 

Radical Group Pulls In Sunnis As Lebanon's Muslims Polarize
By Ellen Knickmeyer
Washington Post Foreign Service
Sunday, June 17, 2007; A16

TRIPOLI, Lebanon — Surrounded in the first hours of their battle with Lebanese forces in this northern Lebanese city, fighters of the Fatah al-Islam group shouted desperately from the windows of their hideouts. "God is great!" one resident, housewife Aziza Ahmed, recalled the fighters yelling. "Come be holy warriors with us!"

Mohammed al-Jasm, a 28-year-old unemployed Lebanese Sunni, received his summons by cellphone on May 20, his family believes.

Chunky and unmarried, twice-failed in shopkeeping ventures and increasingly prone to spending his idle hours with fundamentalist friends, Jasm took his gun and rallied to the Sunni group, his brothers said.

He soon made a forlorn cellphone call to his mother: I'm wounded, he told her.

Within hours, Jasm was dead, his body gouged by bullets, his jowly, bearded face pressed into the filthy street. A sister keeps an image of his body captured on a cellphone camera.

To his family, Jasm and a handful of other young Lebanese Sunnis who responded to Fatah al-Islam's appeals died hapless recruits in a conflict that leaders on all sides are promoting between the Muslim world's Sunni majority and Shiite minority.

In Lebanon, the polarization is felt ever more keenly. A governing bloc led by the Sunni-dominated Future Movement of parliamentary majority leader Saad Hariri and Prime Minister Fouad Siniora is locked in an eight-month-old standoff with the Shiite movement Hezbollah, led by Hasan Nasrallah and backed by Iran and Syria. Both sides are arming.

In January, Siniora's administration received pledges of $7.6 billion from the United States, Europe and Persian Gulf states, including millions of dollars in military aid. The Bush administration is trying to strengthen Sunni countries it considers moderate, among them Egypt, Jordan and Saudi Arabia, to counter Shiite entities such as Iran, Syria and Hezbollah.

In Tripoli, residents say they have watched the expansion of groups dedicated to the more strident forms of Sunnism, especially since Hezbollah's war with Israel last year. This growth includes politicking by leaders of the Salafi sect, a fundamentalist stream of Sunni Islam that traditionally rejects politics as an impious Western concept.

At the same time, prominent figures in the Salafi community here have served as intermediaries between their flock and Hariri. In the mosques, "our preachers call upon the people to become part of the political process," said Daii al-Islam al-Shahal, a member of a prominent Salafi family in Tripoli and founder of a group he describes as dedicated to charity, education and preaching.

"There's a relationship between ourselves and Sheik Saad when it's needed," Shahal said. "The biggest Sunni political power is Hariri. The biggest Sunni religious power are the Salafis. So it's natural."

Hariri denies that promoting Sunni political power trickles down to support for armed groups. "We sponsor culture and education, not terrorism," he said in an interview in Beirut. "I am the son of Rafiq al-Hariri — we never had blood on our hands and we never will."

"I am concerned about Iranian intervention in the affairs of other countries," Hariri added. "But that doesn't mean that we will sponsor Sunni radicalism. Radicalism is not the answer."

The U.S.-led invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq have fed Sunni militancy, and U.S. and European leaders are inciting it anew in the building confrontation with Iran and Hezbollah, said Alistair Crooke, former Middle East adviser under European Union foreign policy chief Javier Solana.

With U.S. and European governments encouraging the alignment of Sunnis against Shiites, "it should not be surprising that in November a group of Salafis could think it would be important to come to Lebanon to defend their Sunni people against a growing threat," Crooke said. Fatah al-Islam was founded by Shaker al-Abssi, a Jordanian of Palestinian origin, who arrived in northern Lebanon late last year after serving a prison sentence in Syria.

Abssi reportedly embraces the ideology of Osama bin Laden and seeks to promote Islamic fundamentalism among Palestinians in Lebanon before eventually attacking Israel.

Mustafa al-Jasm, Mohammed's 40-year-old brother, said the younger man was drawn to Fatah al-Islam by the heated rhetoric accompanying the sectarian divide in the region. Some clerics, he said, "are telling Sunnis, 'You have nothing to do here. You might as well go fight Iran, for our Sunni brothers there.' "

"Saad Hariri and all of his Future Movement, the only sect they have in their hand is the Sunnis, and they used religious speech to pump them up," said Mustafa, a bookkeeper in an auto repair shop here. "The tension built, like a bomb waiting to explode. And my brother was part of that."

Across the bare, uncarpeted living room, one of three shared by the 14-member family, Mohammed's 19-year-old brother, Taya, agreed, unsmiling.

"I put the blame on Saad Hariri and Nasrallah — this is how they have spread their quarrel to the people," said Taya, who wore a polo shirt and baseball cap rather than the beard and checkered kaffiyeh scarf favored by his dead brother.

In another tenement in the same neighborhood of al-Tabineh, the father of a 26-year-old man killed by Lebanese forces in the first week of fighting with Fatah al-Islam insisted there be no such blame in a time of crisis for his sect.

"Shut up!" Riad Mohammed roared, raising the back of his hand, when the slain youth's kerchiefed grandmother ventured a quiet rebuke of Saad Hariri.

"The Sunni people must stand together now," the father insisted.

The short trip up the narrow concrete steps to their apartment made clear what the family looked for in a leader. Their son's thickly bearded face was first, scowling from a photocopied sheet declaring him a martyr. An image of Saad Hariri and Siniora followed, next to a poster of Saddam Hussein with sunlit clouds surrounding his head. "God bless Osama bin Laden," someone had scrawled one flight up.

After sectarian strife in Tripoli earlier this year unrelated to the clashes between Lebanese forces and Fatah al-Islam, Hariri and his political allies rewarded Sunnis who had fought and honored the families of those who had died. Such patronage has long been a part of Lebanon's largely feudal system of clan loyalty.

Abed al-Rahman al-Helo, 30, the owner of an electrical shop in al-Tabineh, was one such fighter. In January, rival demonstrators shot him through the chest in a street battle between Sunnis and minority Allawites, members of a mostly Syrian sect that is doctrinally close to Shiism. The fighting in Tripoli was sparked in part by Shiite-Sunni clashes in Beirut at the same time that left four people dead.

Two lawmakers from Hariri's Future Movement visited Helo in the hospital, he said.

"They were telling me, 'Don't be afraid. We're proud of you. We have our heads up high because of you,' " Helo said.

The Lebanese government paid 80 percent of his hospital bill and Future took care of the rest, he said, but added that he had refused the $200 Hariri's bloc offered for his pharmacy bills, deeming it insultingly low.

Relatives of Bilal al-Hayek, a 28-year-old tow-truck driver shot dead in the same clash, said they had received $5,400 in separate payments from a Future Movement official in Tripoli.

After Hayek's funeral, Hariri summoned the family to Beirut, said Nazha and Fatima, the dead man's sisters. Hariri received them with ceremony, telling them that Hayek and the others killed in the sectarian brawl were "brothers and martyrs," the sisters said.

But the violence sparked by the more radical Fatah al-Islam group seems to have made Sunni leaders more cautious.

Mustafa al-Jasm said none of the families of those who died alongside Fatah al-Islam had received any support from Hariri or other Sunni politicians.

Special correspondent Alia Ibrahim contributed to this report.

Arab League states split on support for Abbas over Hamas
By Yoav Stern, Haaretz Correspondent, and News Agencies

The Arab League member states found themselves divided Saturday over their response to the Hamas takeover of the Gaza Strip and the crisis in the Palestinian Authority.

Syrian sources told an Arabic language newspaper that Ismail Haniyeh of Hamas, fired by PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas of Fatah following the Hamas action in Gaza, had been democratically elected.

The sources emphasized that Syria supports both "factions of the Palestinian government – that of Fatah and that of Hamas."

Israel and the West have announced full support for Abbas, as have Egypt, Jordan and Saudi Arabia

Where is Olmert's Seriousness about Peace? Tishreen, June 11, 2007

On June 11, the state-controlled daily Teshreen carried an article by Ahmad Suwwan who said: "Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said: "I realize that any peace agreement with Syria will force me to return the Golan Heights to the Syrian sovereignty, and I am ready to shoulder my responsibilities to establish peace between us."

“This is what Israeli newspaper Yediot Aharonot quoted Olmert as saying. If this really is Olmert's position, why doesn't he implement, or at least announce his readiness and commitment to implement, the resolutions and principles that constitute the terms of reference for the achievement of a just, lasting, and comprehensive peace in the region, beginning with a clear and public announcement of readiness for full withdrawal from the Golan in return for a just, lasting, and genuine peace based on the land-for-peace principle?

“Not only had Olmert refused to discuss the return of the Golan to the motherland, Syria, but he also asked his ministers – in what he described as instructions and orders – not to talk about initiatives to revive the peace process on the Syrian track! We will not discuss the timing of Olmert's new position, but we would like to ask an important question: Is it true that Israel is ready and qualified to resume the negotiations and revive the peace process? And is it true that Olmert can captain the peace ship on the Israeli side?…

Syria was always ready for the revival and activation of the peace process from where it left off. Syria sees in peace a strategic objective because peace helps it regain its land, rights, and people in the occupied Arab Golan. Syria, therefore, rejects negotiation for the sake of negotiation.

“For Syria, negotiation is a means to achieve the objective of peace; namely, the end of the occupation and the restoration of the Golan. Syria also rejects secret or out-of-the-spotlight negotiations because peace is a sacred and honorable thing and Syria does not fear or feel ashamed to negotiate before the eyes of its people and the world public and all circles, organizations, and countries. Syria used every opportunity to call and appeal for the achievement of peace on the basis of right and justice. This is something that cannot be hidden or covered.

“So the Israeli worn-out tune about "direct or indirect" secret negotiations is fabricated by Israel, and sometimes by the United States, or by both of them to suggest that there is a deal on peace. Syria totally rejects this because peace needs no deals as much as it needs a courageous political will.

"Facts and information indicate that such a will is not available to the Israeli leadership, as it was not available to any of the governments that came after Rabin's announcement in 1996 that he pledged to US President Clinton to fully withdraw from the Golan. Since then the peace process on the Syrian track has been moving in a vicious circle.” – Teshreen, Syria 

Are Outside Actors Funding Sunni Islamist Groups in Lebanon's Camps? (Anrew Exum writing for Jamestown Foundation)

When fighting broke out between the Lebanese Armed Forces (LAF) and the Sunni Islamist militant group Fatah al-Islam on May 20, the main concern was that the fighting would somehow spread from the Nahr al-Barid refugee camp north of Tripoli to other Palestinian camps across Lebanon. Many reasoned that if the LAF was unable to defeat Fatah al-Islam without incurring mass civilian casualties, refugees and militant groups in the other camps might rise up and attack the LAF in response. On June 3, those fears were realized as militants from the Jund al-Sham group, claiming allegiance to Fatah al-Islam, began exchanging gunfire with the LAF in and around the Ain al-Helweh refugee camp outside Sidon. Although the fighting there has abated after the establishment of an uneasy truce, further conflict is likely to ensue. The armed militant groups in the Ain al-Helweh camp and elsewhere represent a serious threat to stability in Lebanon and the broader region. Even more ominously, these groups appear to be armed and manipulated by external sponsors for their own ends.

Over 200,000 Palestinians registered with the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East live in 12 camps spread throughout Lebanon, the largest of which are Nahr al-Barid (30,439 refugees) and Ain al-Helweh (45,004). The first stirrings of jihadi ideologies in the camps originated with the second Israeli invasion of Lebanon in 1982 (Bernard Rougier's Everyday Jihad is the best source on the history of Islamist extremism in the Palestinian refugee camps). Since then, Islamist splinter groups have lived in uneasy co-existence with the official Palestinian authorities in the camps, who themselves have been more or less lawless since the withdrawal of Syrian military intelligence in 2005.

Whereas Fatah al-Islam is the best known Islamist group in the Nahr al-Barid camp, in Ain al-Helweh that distinction belongs to Usbat al-Ansar, the rejectionist organization from which the even more radical Jund al-Sham group splintered in 2002. This past week, Usbat al-Ansar was one of the four armed Palestinian groups which contributed to the 40-man "peacekeeping" force deployed in Ain al-Helweh to help keep order (Daily Star, June 7; L'Orient-Le Jour [Beirut], June 7). This, notes French expert Bernard Rougier, is one of the ironies of Usbat al-Ansar: despite being a group dedicated to the destruction of the Arab political order, they clearly have an interest in maintaining the status quo within Ain al-Helweh (Le Monde, June 6).

Since the emergence of Fatah al-Islam as an armed jihadi threat earlier this spring, Lebanon's Sunni-led March 14 coalition has been forced to answer charges from the Hezbollah-led opposition and others that it—as well as its Saudi and Jordanian allies—has been funding Sunni Islamist groups like Fatah al-Islam in an effort to counter the strength of Hezbollah's weapons and manpower. Links between Fatah al-Islam and the Syrian regime that emerged following the recent clashes made those accusations easier to counter; with respect to the armed groups in Ain al-Helweh, however, the accusations have been both more frequent and harder to disprove. Bahia al-Hariri, sister to the slain prime minister Rafiq al-Hariri and the March 14 minister of parliament for Sidon, has been forced to defend against charges that she and her allies have supported Jund al-Sham (Daily Star, June 7; an-Nahar [Beirut], June 5). A piece of evidence surfaced, however, showing that $100,000 was paid this last week to Jund al-Sham by the Palestinian Liberation Organization with money received from Bahia al-Hariri (Daily Star, June 7). This money was allegedly given as compensation for the dislocated families of Jund al-Sham members, but it may have been part of a wider peace deal. In the end, it is unclear how much money and support is currently allotted to these Palestinian militant groups and from whom. Jordanian, Saudi and Syrian sources are all suspected to be supporting militant groups in the camps, as are parties within Lebanon. All of these actors have used proxies to fight their rivalries.

Lebanese sometimes describe their civil war of 1975-1990 as "the war of the others" because copious groups and states outside Lebanon contributed to the violence. The phrase "of the others" suggests that the Lebanese themselves were not at fault, when in fact the author of the original phrase, Lebanese journalist Ghassan Tueni, had written of "a war for the others." The Lebanese, he argued, were responsible for allowing their country to become a battlefield for outside interests. If the fighting in the Palestinian camps between the LAF and militant groups continues apace or intensifies, the Lebanese themselves will again play a role in this deepening spiral of violence.

Andrew Exum is a Soref fellow at The Washington Institute for Near East Policy, focusing on contemporary Middle Eastern insurgencies and counter-insurgency strategies. He served in the U.S. Army from 2000 to 2004 and lived in Beirut until recently. 

"About 60 Iraqi families show up every day, carting children who are missing limbs, gravely ill with untreated leukemia or bowed to 90-degree angles because Iraqi hospitals lacked the expensive braces to combat spinal disabilities …"
From McClatchy's Middle East Diary, here

Several new publications focus on Syria:

Comments (81)


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51. G said:

Do you remember something they used to call “the cold war”? .. that’s when the United States and the USSR realized that there is no way they would fight each other directly .. so they used smaller countries to fight their battles.

I’m sorry, but just when I thought that Alex could not make a dumber statement, he suprises us. Yes, Syria is a “great power” like America and Russia. Man, you people are not just evil. You are absolutely delusional. But what can one expect from an imperialist advocate of colonization.

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June 18th, 2007, 10:54 pm

 

52. Honest Patriot said:

Prof. Landis writes:

“Lebanon accuses Syria of assassinating another member of parliament, which may or may not be true.”

Honest Patriot says:

If not Syria, who?, why? — Let’s get real.
Who killed Beshir Gemayel? why?
Who killed Kamal Jumblat? why?
need I go on?

However, like Saddam, a day will come when….

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June 18th, 2007, 10:57 pm

 

53. Joshua said:

Alex, You ask what Syrians think about Lebanon. Since arriving here at the end of May, I have been surprised at how little Syrians are talking about Lebanon or concentrating on it. I think for the most part they are trying not to think about it because it confuses them and evokes many mixed emotions.

Syrians do not curse Lebanon. I have not heard one person curse Lebanon.

Almost all Syrians deny that Syria is behind Fatah Islam. They also do not believe that Syria is behind the killing of Lebanese politicians or anti-Syrian figures. Most, including both rich and poor, do not believe Syria was responsible for Hariri’s murder. In fact, I would say that fewer people today believe that their government was involved in the Hariri assassination than did a year and a half ago. There used to be a percentage who would give hesitant and tortured responses to the question of the Hariri assassination. Today, people seem to have made up their mind and rule out that Syria involved.

I am not sure why. Probably because of the worsening relations between the two countries as well as the rise of al-Qaida in Lebanon, which has given many the confidence to disown possible responsibility. Many still think that Israel or Geagea was behind it.

Syrians still look up to the Lebanese for their culture, sophistication, and progress. Most are thoroughly fed up with or scared by fundamentalism, instability, and radical groups. This makes the whole Lebanon affair confusing for them. They are torn between wanting the Golan and wanting good relations with the West and Lebanon. They don’t understand the Bush administration and they don’t understand what is going on in Lebanon. Thus, many try to shut it out, which, on the whole, they can do.

MSK,
Yes, Lebanese have the right to demand.

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June 18th, 2007, 11:28 pm

 

54. Enlightened said:

Joshua:

The link to Eyal Zissers article does not work; how about some cultural articles on the Syrian population, landscapesetc where you visit? I understand you might not have time but all this talk of politics makes the mind go numb with pessimism after a while!

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June 19th, 2007, 12:24 am

 

55. G said:

Syrians do not curse Lebanon. I have not heard one person curse Lebanon.

No, they “support their government” as it kills Lebanese!

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June 19th, 2007, 1:06 am

 

56. G said:

There used to be a percentage who would give hesitant and tortured responses to the question of the Hariri assassination.

You mean like your response? Did the Syrian regime send you a note of instruction on how to answer this question?

Al-Jazeera: If Syria wants it to go away, doesn’t that prove their guilt?

Joshua Landis: Is Syria guilty? Obviously the entire world thinks Syria is guilty, outside of Syria, and some others in the Middle East. Reading between the lines in this new UN report that we’re getting which I have not read but I’ve read a lot of articles about it – clearly Syria remains in the crosshairs of this investigation.

And at the same time there seems to be Brammertz, in contrast to [his predecessor Detlev] Mehlis, seems to be following new leads which could implicate the Lebanese side of things much more than the Syrians, at least on the ground level, but we don’t know that.

Reading between the lines, it’s clear they are linking together all the different murders that have gone on, the assassinations, and say they seem to follow a political line.

And that would implicate Syria and its allies in Lebanon.

So…

Probably because of the worsening relations between the two countries as well as the rise of al-Qaida in Lebanon, which has given many the confidence to disown possible responsibility. Many still think that Israel or Geagea was behind it.

Like you now are peddling the “al-Qaida” theory. Or even better, as I read about you somewhere that you said somewhere that Hariri “died.” The best cop-out answer. I’m sure Imad Moustapha was pleased with that one.

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June 19th, 2007, 1:10 am

 

57. trustquest said:

Professor Landis in his before last comment was more Arabic Nationalist than the Baathist, which really surprising. Because we who believed in the Arabic nationalism and fed on it realized that it is great idea but it is a prejudice idea does not consider others and it served the some Arabic regimes but not the people. The hidden sometimes and open sometimes policies based on this principal can may be till now rally support but does not make right. What happened in Iraq is a manifest for the bankruptcy of this idea and still the regime in Damascus is sucking the last drip of emotions regarding this principal from the people of the Middle East to serve its survival and to exercise its strength to defend his future.

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June 19th, 2007, 1:19 am

 

58. norman said:

Joshua,
you always make sense of things.

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June 19th, 2007, 1:23 am

 

59. Nur al-Cubicle said:

What is astounding is how an eridute Professor who achieved his status thanks to being an American citizen and enjoying the liberties, principles, and true humanity of the United States, ends up so obviously (and yet believes he is being subtle) supporting the backward, fanatical, ferociously inhuman policies, statements, and actions of regimes, such as Syria

Man, this “bonhomme” just doesn’t understand area expertise and scholarship, does he? He is intellectually dishonest, too, despite the handle.

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June 19th, 2007, 1:38 am

 

60. Akbar Palace said:

Responding to the brainwashed:

So despite the many mistakes strategic and tacital that the Syrian regime did, the population at present is in support of it and look for it as an island of stability in comparison to the chaos in the region.

Observer,

Your above statement is a myth. The “the population” never had a say in Arab decision making and never will. In the US we call them “sheeple” (ya’ani “people”). The Palestinians would have made peace with a snap of Arafat’s finger, Assad’s finger, Haniyeh’s finger, Ahmadinejad’s finger, etc. And so the people and the jihadists are all pawns in the hands of the “Thug-for-Life”.

K said:

Next time Iran-Syria would like to fight Israel I propose using Syria as a launch-pad for a change.

Yes, why not? Too messy? To risky? Could cause an internal backlash if they lose? Of course!

No, “Thugs-for-Life” have always believed in using surrogates to do their fighting for them. This was how the PLO worked for so many years. Now that the PLO has its hands tied by the US, the Israel, and the International community, enter Hamas and Hezbollah (aka Iran and Syria). Its “martyrdom” at its very finest!

Seeking the Truth said:

Akbar, on your part, do you get it that the creation of the Israeli state more than half a century ago, did injustice to the Palestinian people?

Dear Seeking the Truth,

The creation of Israel is considered a miracle to many Jews and a Nakba to many Arabs and Palestinians. It is my hope, that the energy (or “rage” or “hate”) some Arabs and Palestinians have over this situation could be better focused on living together. I have no doubt that the “miracle” of Israel can also be the miracle of Palestine, and that at some future time, both peoples will share the land and prosper within it.

The “injustice” to the Palestinians from the creation of Israel is unfortunate. In the context of history, events, and international relations, the Palestinians have had little say in their affairs. The terrorists thugs that claim to speak for them is an “injustice” in and of itself.

Professor Josh chimes in from Sunny Syria,

These who believe that Lebanon can demand its sovereignty before the Golan is returned are dreaming.

This was the thinking when Saddam walked into Kuwait. This was the thinking when Arafat walked into Jordan. This was the thinking when the PLO controlled south Lebanon. This was the thinking when Syrian troops were patrolling Beirut. This was the thinking when Israel defended the “security zone” in Lebanon. So much for “thinking” and the assumptions at those times.

In the Middle East today, we are witnessing some new phenomenon, and I would find it difficult to predict what other new phenomenon are behind the doors in front of us.

MSK said:

Same as with Palestinian right of return and Syrian right to the Golan. The rights are there, unrelated to any conditions.

I agreed with the beginning of your last post. But with your statement above, I have to remind you that the Palestinians have no “right of return”, and the Syrians have no “right to the Golan”.

G said:

And if you are cowards and murderers, Lebanon does not need to be punished for that. That’s why you are apologists for killers.

It seems the focus is “injustice” toward the Palestinians. I can understand that. But in the grand scheme of things, there has been a great injustice to the Lebanese, the Israelis and the innocent people caught in between. What “injustice” has befallen the Syrians? The Qataris? The Saudis? The Emirati? The Libyans? And all the other bank-rollers of the terrorists?

Thomas,

I enjoyed your sense of humor!

K said:

By the same token, nothing will stop Israel from occupying the Golan and the Palestinian territories…

It seems like a peace treaty could do the trick. BTW – What was the excuse from 1948 to 1966?;)

Alex said:

I suggest that it is not wise for the extravagant relentless obsession by some Lebanese politicians with destroying the Syrian regime.

Alex,

How are the “Lebanese politicians” “destroying the Syrian regime”? Let me guess, the Lebanese politicians are killing Syrian ministers in the street with car bombings? Or maybe the Lebanese politicians are sending huge shipments of arms to their proxy militia in Syria?

Now you see how ridiculous your words are.

Honest Patriot states:

The reality remains that, notwithstanding any valid rights of the Palestinians and Arabs, and any valid grievance against Israel, the methods they have chosen over the years to express these grievances have long forfeited any real moral point they could have made, and instead painted themsleves into an utterly cruel, abhorrent, and disdainful extremism.

If a small fraction of the energies spent on terrorism, hollow rhetoric, oppression, and fanaticism, is spent on true education, enlightenment, and scientific and social progress, the Arab nations, as well as Iran, would have long surpassed tiny Israel in true power, the power of the intellect, of the true right voiced convincingly, the power of persuasion and humanity.

Alas… we end up having a hard time arguing against AKBAR PALACE calling Prof. Landis “Jihadist Waterboy.” Sad, but true.

Thank you for the compliment; I couldn’t agree with you more! I will try to read your future posts more thoroughly.

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June 19th, 2007, 1:44 am

 

61. Honest Patriot said:

Mr. or Ms. Nur al-Cubicle,

You say, in refernce to me:

“Man, this “bonhomme” just doesn’t understand area expertise and scholarship, does he? He is intellectually dishonest, too, despite the handle. ”

Let’s stick to facts, logic, and argument, of which your statement is devoid. Area expertise and scholarship starts there. Name calling doesn’t give you any credibility, now, does it? The facts are plainly obvious to all of us who have lived in the area and experienced the horrors of the proxy wars fought in Lebanon by the cowardly states and regimes who don’t have the guts to fight on their own soil (after their humiliating defeats of the past. They should similarly be clear to anyone with “area expertise and scholarship,” assuming that person is objective and not guided by irrationally emotional attachments (as is the case of Professor Landis) or by misguided religious fanaticism (as I suspect – but I’m not certain – is your case).

In the end, all decent human beings — and I would assume you are one — want nothing other than peace and prosperity for this region so long torn by wars. The humanity of all inhabitants of the region must override all other allegiances — religious, racial, or social. Only with true honesty, admission of guilt and past sins by all (Syria, Israel, U.S., and any and all Lebanese parties who committed horror killings), and coming together around a sincere desire for peaceful coexistence, can true peace be eventually achieved.

This has to mean the relegation of religion to personal practice, organization of charities, and instilling of ethics and morality. Religion has no place in government or in guiding political decisions. I hope, Mr. or Ms. Nur, that you are enlightened enough, as your name suggests, that you agree with this premise.

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June 19th, 2007, 2:14 am

 

62. K said:

Akbar Palace,

I have a question for you.

When Hizballa provoked Israel into war last summer, why did Israel kill 1,000 innocent Lebanese civilians and destroy my country’s infrastructure, from North to South? I think it is sheer criminality and also cowardice on the part of the Zionist State. Israel knows full well that Syria is behind Hizballa, and Israeli spokespeople uttered and reiterated this point ad nauseum. Threats were made that Syria would be held accountable for the actions of its Lebanese proxies, but nothing came of this. Rather than punishing Syria, Israel took out its wrath on defenseless Lebanon.

Just another incident in Lebanon’s long history as the regional football, kicked back and forth by neighboring bullies on either side.

Aside from its cost in lives and injury, and resources both economic and ecological, the 2nd Israeli War on Lebanon greatly harmed the M14 movement for Lebanese freedom and liberalism while strengthening our domestic opponents. And another example of how the crimes and mistakes of Western imperialism in the Middle East pull the rug out from under liberals and empower extremist elements…

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June 19th, 2007, 3:19 am

 

63. SimoHurtta said:

Akbar has managed to put in one comment

The creation of Israel is considered a miracle to many Jews and a Nakba to many Arabs and Palestinians. It is my hope, that the energy (or “rage” or “hate”) some Arabs and Palestinians have over this situation could be better focused on living together. I have no doubt that the “miracle” of Israel can also be the miracle of Palestine, and that at some future time, both peoples will share the land and prosper within it.

I agreed with the beginning of your last post. But with your statement above, I have to remind you that the Palestinians have no “right of return”, and the Syrians have no “right to the Golan”.

How can a rationally thinking person speak about peace and “sharing the land” and after a couple of chapters that “everything belongs to us”? Hmmmm.

Akbar speaking endlessly about terrorists and extremists doesn’t justify Israel’s actions. The land Israel has got is through wars. Wars that Israel started and Israel has no reason to accuse anybody for terrorism. Terrorism has been a fighting method Israel has frequently used. From the start of the Reich until modern days.

No matter which kind of governmental system are in the Arab countries, they will always demand the land back. Even a democratic Syria would demand Golan back. Every country has its strategic demands and needs and those demands and needs do not change much by the nature of the governing style.

The reasons Nadav Shragai in Haaretz gives why Golan is Israeli are amusing. Especially his following comment is hilarious

In previous eras as well, the Golan was not considered a part of Syria, and it is replete with findings of Jewish heroism and sovereignty, starting with the reign of Solomon, through the Second Temple period, the heroic battle of the city of Gamla and the Talmudic period. It was no foreign land that we conquered. Our ties to the Golan take precedence over its necessity for security purposes or the need to safeguard the water sources, and other excellent arguments.

Jewish heroism and sovereignty starting from Salomon? Well that is simply far fetched desperate propaganda. When was the Jewish tribe last time sovereign. 2100 years ago? Well, well. And you blame others for religious extremism.

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June 19th, 2007, 3:23 am

 

64. majedkhaldoun said:

I have to remind you that the Palestinians have no “right of return”, and the Syrians have no “right to the Golan”.

for that we answer;
the jewish people has no right to return to palastine.

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June 19th, 2007, 3:33 am

 

65. majedkhaldoun said:

it is possible that Finland has agreed to be the host for the tribunal for Hariri murder.
the names of judges,who are from Lebanon, will be kept secret.

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June 19th, 2007, 3:47 am

 

66. Enlightened said:

A article in The Jpost by Barry Rubin;

he tells it how it is!

http://www.jpost.com/servlet/Satellite?cid=1181813065455&pagename=JPost%2FJPArticle%2FShowFull

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June 19th, 2007, 4:59 am

 

67. DJ said:

Of course Syrians would never ever curse the Lebanese people. We are friendly people by our innate values. We don’t hold grudge against anyone. We have the moral capacity to forgive our Lebanese brethren for their impiousness. If only they can stop supporting their drowsy face Sa’ad Hariri and the other twitching face Saniora. For that they are conspiring against the stability and the security of Syria….

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June 19th, 2007, 5:39 am

 

68. MSK said:

AP,

You said that, “the Palestinians have no “right of return”, and the Syrians have no “right to the Golan”.”

Au contraire.

The Palestinians’ right to return is based on U.N. rules and regulations and various int’l treaties’ of which Israel is a member and which it has signed. (Just like the other countries.)

Syria’s right to the Golan is quite simple: It’s Syrian territory. Period.

Thankfully, international law isn’t overly ambiguous.

–MSK*

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June 19th, 2007, 6:10 am

 

69. SimoHurtta said:

it is possible that Finland has agreed to be the host for the tribunal for Hariri murder.

Haven’t seen any news about that. However it can be possible, the new Finnish foreign minister Ilkka Kanerva just met Condoleezza Rice and Finland has just suddenly decided pulling out her troops from Lebanon. The formal excuse for the withdrawal is that the equipment is needed for Finnish EU rapid action troops and the Finnish president’s mandate for troops in Lebanon was until the end of 2007. The speculation is that Finland will send more troops to Afghanistan (it will not be popular because the first Finnish soldier died in Afghanistan a couple weeks ago).

The Finnish foreign policy has not been very active in arranging such high profile regional “conflict conferences”. In the Aceh case the former president Ahtisaaari was working as a private person and in the Kosovo case he was working for UN.

The Finnish right wing political elite is now very NATO oriented and eager to please USA, especially the present foreign minister who comes from the conservative party (Kokoomus). The bad thing for them is that the Finnish people are fiercely against NATO.

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June 19th, 2007, 6:13 am

 

70. Alex said:

Akbar,

“Alex,

How are the “Lebanese politicians” “destroying the Syrian regime”? Let me guess, the Lebanese politicians are killing Syrian ministers in the street with car bombings? Or maybe the Lebanese politicians are sending huge shipments of arms to their proxy militia in Syria?

Now you see how ridiculous your words are.”

First,

I would like you to know that I am old fashioned. That’s right. I am not a believer in this new age Bush administration style of “if we say it is true then it is true”

How would you like it if I call you ridiculous and prove it by stating every conspiracy theory that blames Israel for every disaster that took place in the Middle East? … It goes both ways my friend. Either we both stick to facts, or we both call each other ridiculous and back it up with theories… I think for every Lebanese minister Supposedly killed by Syria, there are a hundred Arabs supposedly killed by Israel.

Tell me which rules would like us to follow, or convince me otherwise that Israel is allowed to set its own unique privileges not only on Fox news, but also on Syria Comment.

Now back to my “ridiculous” words about how M14 leaders are obsessed with fighting the Syrian regime:

So what do you call Jumblatt’s promise to one day send a son of the mountain to assassinate the Syrian president?

And What do you call Jumblatt’s call on the US to invade Syria and overthrow its government by force? (Interview with Ignatius last year)?

How about the subject of most negotiations with Chirac and every newcon in Washington which were always “Please don’t talk to Syria”

Akbar Habibi .. just read Michael Young’s articles … get someone to translate to you the favorite M14 newspaper editorials … one out of two results in their readers (M14 supporters) hating the Syrian regime even more and often it results in hating Syria in general.

And that my friend, is obsession with fighting the Syrian regime, and if they could go to Damascus and assassinate the president of Syria then they would love to do it … not an unproven accusation, like the ones you rely on, but a public promise from Jumblatt himself.

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June 19th, 2007, 6:36 am

 

71. DJ said:

Alex,
I am glad to assure you that 95% of Syrian people despise 14 M politicians and their ilk.

It is funny the Lebanese people should think that the assassination of Edo was directed toward the Sunni sect in Lebanon, while I am quite sure that Sa’ad Hariri don’t give a whit about Sunni or Shia’t sects in the Levant, it is all a politicizing of the sectarian issue, for him to assert control over his constituency…

If Sa’ad Hariri ever cares about the large Sunni population of Syria, why did he endeavor to concoct evidences and witnesses, and tried to divert the investigation in his father’s assassination toward incriminating Syria??? when he knows quite well, whether he likes it or not, that the Syrian regime is a safety valve not only for Syria, but for the whole region??

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June 19th, 2007, 7:00 am

 

72. ausamaa said:

Oh my God, ninty-nine percent of the Lebanese people are -or can be- nice and smart and cute and what have you. Why are we stuck here with the remaining 1% which is full of hate, self-centered, and blind to all except to their beliefe that the World revolves around “Lebnaayn”?

Although I must admit, that I respect the way K, and some others try to distance themselves from Akbar Palace (!), who gives the best example of what “fishing in muddy waters” means.

But honestly, are Sa’ddo and the Siniorina circus going to be around for a lot longer? Poor Lebanon!

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June 19th, 2007, 10:36 am

 

73. why-discuss said:

Brammetz’s silence

Is Brammertz’s silence on the eventual Syria’s responsibility in the series of murders in Lebanon not making him complice of the subsequent murders that he could prevent NOW by letting out some elements or threats indicting the syrian governement?
Mehlis’report has caused the jailing of 4 lebanese on just suspicions. Shouldn’t Brammertz name, indict and have incarcereted more suspects as a preventive measure for the sake of protecting the lives of other lebanese political figures.
The absence of any reaction may mean 3 things:
– He will indict some people in the next report
– He does not know yet exactly who is responsible of Hariri’s and other lebanese politicians, he still has no hot suspects.
– He suspects who they are, but remain silent because he wants to be sure, or he is waiting for unr Int Tribunal to be ready, thus allowing more murders to happen, … and that is extremely reprehensible
The murder of Walid Eido was a ‘pied de nez’ to the UN, implying that the International Tribunal wont stop the murders… maybe the contrary.

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June 19th, 2007, 11:03 am

 

74. Mo said:

Ghassan Tweini describes the Lebanese Civil War as “the war for others on the soil of Lebanon” (note the “for” as opposed to “of”). The Lebanese have always sought foreign help to settle internal affairs, THEY invited and allowed foreigners to use them as pawns (and this is as old as Lebanon itself): so the problem is THEM not those who use them.

the formula is as follows:
2 political trends exist in Lebanon today
March 8 vs March 14
March 8 : supported and sponsored by Syria & Iran (‘radicals’)
March 14: supported and sponsored by the US, the West and others (‘moderates’)

it’s
Radicals vs Moderates
But radicals & moderates are not fighting directly, they are using proxies, or pawns

so March 8 are pawns used by the Syrians & Iranians for their own interests: March 8 accept to be “used” by others, hmmm really bad

But wait a minute, the moderates don’t fight the radicals directly.. They are using their pawns in turn: they want to exercise pressure on Syria using Lebanese elements.

so March 14 accept to be pawns used by the moderates to fight for their own agenda: weaken and destabilize the radicals, axis of evil, crescent of whatever..

Questions:
– why would a Lebanese, side with one pawn against the other?
– which pawn is good, and which is evil?
– is supporting one pawn a crime, and supporting the other a blessing?
– talking about pawns, where is national identity, interests?
– if one accepts to be a pawn, why blame the player?

The Lebanese haven’t learned from history yet…

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June 19th, 2007, 11:11 am

 

75. G said:

And that my friend, is obsession with fighting the Syrian regime, and if they could go to Damascus and assassinate the president of Syria then they would love to do it … not an unproven accusation, like the ones you rely on, but a public promise from Jumblatt himself.

I know, such a threat… therefore, let’s send a car bomb and kill them all!

Alex, you evil apologist for killers. You are a terrorist.

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June 19th, 2007, 12:48 pm

 

76. DJ said:

G, you are hilarious man, please stop spouting those funnies! my stomach hurts already!

Loathsome moron…

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June 19th, 2007, 1:17 pm

 

77. Akbar Palace said:

K said:

Akbar Palace,

I have a question for you.

When Hizballa provoked Israel into war last summer, why did Israel kill 1,000 innocent Lebanese civilians and destroy my country’s infrastructure, from
North to South?

Probably because so many missiles were fired from civilian areas and neighborhoods. Check your numbers. Not everyone the IDF killed was “civilian”.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2006_Israel-Lebanon_conflict

I think it is sheer criminality and also cowardice on the part
of the Zionist State.

Yes, I know. A thousand dead civilians makes you mad*.

*unless caused by Arabs or Muslims or Holy Palestinian Fighters™

Israel knows full well that Syria is behind Hizballa,
and Israeli spokespeople uttered and reiterated this point ad nauseum. Threats were made that Syria would be held accountable for the actions of its Lebanese proxies, but nothing came of this. Rather than punishing Syria, Israel took out its wrath on defenseless Lebanon.

Yes, lots of moral dilemmas. So the Jews had to make a “Solomonesque” decision: they came to the conclusion that under international law, Israel had to defend itself from the terrortory where the missiles were being fired from, knowing full well Syria supplied the weapons. I agree though, having one’s hands tied is a bummer. I wouldn’t expect this type of “moral decision” to always be adhered to, especially when another 30,000 missiles are just itching to be set free.

I mean using your logic, Israel should attack China and Russia as well. That would be interesting.

Just another incident in Lebanon’s long history as the regional football, kicked back and forth by neighboring bullies on either side.

Israel and Syria are both out of Lebanon. Just ask G and K (are we missing any letters?).

Aside from its cost in lives and injury, and resources both economic and ecological, the 2nd Israeli War on Lebanon greatly harmed the M14 movement for Lebanese freedom and liberalism while strengthening our domestic opponents.

The Lebanese are caught between a “rock and a hard place” (Hezbollah and Syria). I suggest the Lebanese government call the UN, the US, Mr. Sarkozy, even Israel (!), etc and request additional help getting Hezbollah to disarm.

And another example of how the crimes and mistakes of Western imperialism in the Middle East pull the rug out from under liberals and empower extremist elements…

Answer: blah, blah, blah (it sounds like a broken record)

SimoHurtta said:

How can a rationally thinking person speak about peace and “sharing the land” and after a couple of chapters that “everything belongs to us”? Hmmmm.

Are you humming or thinking? Nevertheless, I can speak about “sharing the land”, for a couple of reasons. First of all, Israel is sharing the land now. 20% of Israel is Arab. They’re doing pretty well. Have you ever seen their mansion? Sssss! Secondly, because there is still a state of war, Israel cannot afford to “share the land” with millions of potential terrorists and their sympathizers.

Akbar speaking endlessly about terrorists and extremists doesn’t justify Israel’s actions. The land Israel has got is through wars. Wars that Israel started and Israel has no reason to accuse anybody for terrorism.

Yes, in 1948 Israel started the war when 5 Arab armies (along with Palestinian Fedayeen) came to Palestine with the hope of playing Shesh-besh and drinking kawa, but the German Jews didn’t understand Arabic so they opened fire on innocent Arab women and children. (I’m improvising – am I close?)

Terrorism has been a fighting method Israel has frequently used. From the start of the Reich until modern days.

It’s ingrained into our psyche.

MSK said:

AP,

The Palestinians’ right to return is based on U.N. rules and regulations and various int’l treaties’ of which Israel is a member and which it has signed. (Just like the other countries.)

OK, show me the statutes/documentation showing that the Palestinians have a “right to return” to Israel and the Syrians have a “right” to the Golan.

Syria’s right to the Golan is quite simple: It’s Syrian territory. Period.

Correction, it WAS Syrian terrortory. Now it’s Israeli territory [notice the different spelling]. Losing land in war wasn’t first discovered in 1967.

Thankfully, international law isn’t overly ambiguous.

Agreed.

AP*

Alex said:

Akbar,

How would you like it if I call you ridiculous and prove it by stating every conspiracy theory that blames Israel for every disaster that took place in the Middle East? … It goes both ways my friend. Either we both stick to facts, or we both call each other ridiculous and back it up with theories… I think for every Lebanese minister Supposedly killed by Syria, there are a hundred Arabs supposedly killed by Israel.

You are comparing apples and oranges. Israel has killed hundreds of Arabs because Arabs are firing missiles into Israel from Gaza and from Lebanon. Arabs are also bombing and shooting Israeli civilians (although this has decreased a great deal due to the separation wall).

What missiles and bombs are the Lebanese firing and planting inside Syria?

If you think the Holy Palestinian Fighters™ are being mistreated, I have to say the Lebanese are getting screwed even more.

Tell me which rules would like us to follow, or convince me otherwise that Israel is allowed to set its own unique privileges not only on Fox news, but also on Syria Comment.

What “rules” are you referring to Alex. Just come right out and tell me what you are talking about.

So what do you call Jumblatt’s promise to one day send a son of the mountain to assassinate the Syrian president?

You’re troubled by what Walid Jumblatt has said? Let’s dissect that a bit. Does Walid Jumblatt have tanks? Does he have Scud missiles? Does he have a nuclear program? Give me a little more information, and then I’ll let you know whether you or Assad should worry.

And What do you call Jumblatt’s call on the US to invade Syria and overthrow its government by force? (Interview with Ignatius last year)?

See above.

Akbar Habibi .. just read Michael Young’s articles … get someone to translate to you the favorite M14 newspaper editorials … one out of two results in their readers (M14 supporters) hating the Syrian regime even more and often it results in hating Syria in general.

Look, I think Syrians are just swell, and you know I’m insanely jealous of Dr. Josh’s eggplant and garlic dinners and those long walks in the souks filled with all those aromas, but I think the Syrians should stop using Lebanon as a shooting gallery and decide if they want peace with Israel or not. The Chinless Boy Wonder should say: we don’t want peace, we want war with the Zionists, then he should leave the poor Lebanese alone! He F’d up one country, why does he need to F up another one?

And that my friend, is obsession with fighting the Syrian regime, and if they could go to Damascus and assassinate the president of Syria then they would love to do it … not an unproven accusation, like the ones you rely on, but a public promise from Jumblatt himself.

I’m betting the safest place on Earth is on Syrian bus. I’m jealous of how well the Syrians must sleep at night.

G said:

I know, such a threat… therefore, let’s send a car bomb and kill them all!

Alex, you evil apologist for killers. You are a terrorist.

I can’t agree with G’s use of words, but his point is understood.

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June 20th, 2007, 2:50 am

 

78. SimoHurtta said:

Well, well Akbar. It rather useless to discuss with you. You do not have historical knowledge nor any moral. It is like arguing with a “Taleban”.

Yes, in 1948 Israel started the war when 5 Arab armies (along with Palestinian Fedayeen) came to Palestine with the hope of playing Shesh-besh and drinking kawa, but the German Jews didn’t understand Arabic so they opened fire on innocent Arab women and children. (I’m improvising – am I close?)

You are nuts Akbar. What if I would make equal “jokes” about Holocaust? You miserable soul. The millions living on the area did not attack Jews. Jews attacked them. Reading comments like you frequently write make me more and more think that Jews outside Israel should be treated like Palestinians in Israel. Maybe that would increase the moral message the world wants to send to Israel. But I know that there are millions of intelligent Jews who have a moral and do not accept what happens in Israel.

You still haven’t answered the question why the Irgun terrorists (Jews) were dressed as Arabs when they planted bombs in the King David Hotel and killed 17 Jews and numerous Arabs and Brits. You call them freedom fighters, we call them terrorists with no difference to the modern days terrorists.

OK, show me the statutes/documentation showing that the Palestinians have a “right to return” to Israel and the Syrians have a “right” to the Golan.

Show me Akbar Israeli the statues/documentation showing that Jews (including Christian Soviet Jews) have the right to Israel and to the occupied areas.

PS
Tell us Akbar finally are you a Israeli citizen and why do you not dare to live in Israel? Such an extreme and devoted Jew like you would certainly be needed in IDF beating children and stripping women on the roadblocks. You would be better in that job as in writing propaganda.

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June 20th, 2007, 5:02 am

 

79. Akbar Palace said:

SimoHurtta said:

The millions living on the area did not attack Jews.

I never said “millions” attacked Jews. Please do not put words in my mouth. I said:

“Yes, in 1948 Israel started the war when 5 Arab armies (along with Palestinian Fedayeen) came to Palestine with the hope of playing Shesh-besh and drinking kawa…”

Now show me I was wrong. Was it chai?

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1948_Arab-Israeli_War

You miserable soul.

I prefer the “son of monkeys and pigs”. I has more flair.

Show me Akbar Israeli the statues/documentation showing that Jews (including Christian Soviet Jews) have the right to Israel and to the occupied areas.

Twenty percent of Israeli citizens are not Jewish. Do you dispute that? Do I need to show you proof of this? If you agree with me that 20% of Israeli citizens are not Jewish, then what do I need to show you concerning these 20% of Israelis “right to Israel”?

“Have the Right to Israel”? What does this mean? I’m confused.

SimoHurtta, it’s not very complicated. Get other sources outside of the Arab media.

Speaking of Christians, looks like being a Christian in Gaza won’t be on my “TO DO” list today…

http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-3414753,00.html

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June 20th, 2007, 11:03 am

 

80. K said:

AP,

Thanks for your response. It must be fun being the in-house Israeli fending off attacks left and right 🙂

> Probably because so many missiles were fired from civilian areas
> and neighborhoods. Check your numbers. Not everyone the IDF
> killed was “civilian”.

This is not the forum to rehash the war; it suffices to say “not everyone killed was a civilian” is a pretty low standard.

> Yes, I know. A thousand dead civilians makes you mad*.
> *unless caused by Arabs or Muslims or Holy Palestinian Fighters™

Where did I ever display indifference to crimes committed by Arabs or Muslims? Minorities in the Middle East were combating Arab-Muslim oppression long before Zionism brought European colonists to Palestine…

> Yes, lots of moral dilemmas. So the Jews had to make a
> “Solomonesque” decision: they came to the conclusion that under
> international law, Israel had to defend itself from the
> terrortory where the missiles were being fired from, knowing full
> well Syria supplied the weapons.

So “the Jews”, in their war on Lebanon, struggled with moral dilemmas and cautiously proceeded according to international law? How cute. That explains why Lebanon’s civilian infrastructure, bridges, power plants and gas stations were destroyed (North to South) causing humanitarian and environmental catastrophes and 1 million cluster bombs fired into civilian areas…

I suspect the real cause is cowardice (Lebanon is an easier target than Syria) or cynicism, (an Israeli preference for the continued rule of Bashar el-Asad) or behind the scenes pressure from the US.

> I mean using your logic, Israel should attack China and Russia as
> well. That would be interesting.

That analogy holds only if you perceive Syria as purely the arms supplier, rather than decision-maker (along with Iran).

> Israel and Syria are both out of Lebanon.

Thank heavens. But it is too early to rest, our historic foes continue to cause mischief.

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June 20th, 2007, 3:55 pm

 

81. ausamaa said:

Chutzpah at its…

“Twenty percent of Israeli citizens are not Jewish. Do you dispute that? Do I need to show you proof of this? If you agree with me that 20% of Israeli citizens are not Jewish, then what do I need to show you concerning these 20% of Israelis “right to Israel”?”

Are we reffereing to Palestinan Arabs who remained in Israel after the 1948??? How smart, they conquer a country, force 80% of its citizens to flee, and then they come and use the remaining 20% of the original population who are practically “people under occupation” to “prove and demonstrate” Israel’s diversity and tolerance! Wow. Beat that one if you can!

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June 20th, 2007, 4:51 pm

 

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