Posted by Joshua on Thursday, July 3rd, 2008
Prime Minister Fouad Siniora said on Tuesday that a prisoner swap between Israel and Hizbullah constituted a "huge failure" for the Jewish state and a "national success" for the Lebanese party. "The release of the prisoners, thanks to the German mediator … is a huge failure for the policies of Israel," Siniora said in a public/official statement. "The success of Hizbullah in the negotiations led by a third party is a national success for the party and for the struggle of the Lebanese because it secured national goals which Israel always refused to respect."
Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said his government was forced to agree to the prisoner swap deal with Hizbullah out of its desire to uncover the fate of the two Israeli soldiers
When Arabs were asked to identify the leader they admire most (in an open-ended question), the number one answer overall in a recent poll, (and especially in predominantly Sunni countries such as Egypt, Morocco, and Jordan) was Hasan Nasrallah, Hezbollah’s leader. The Palestinian problem continues to rank as "most important" problem among non-Palestinian Arabs.
France is a captive to its ties with Syria by Michael Young in the Daily Star – He blames Lebanon's woes on France and suggests that Kouchner is impeding the Hariri court to help Syria.
The French approach to Lebanon has been characterized by remarkable incompetence in the past eight months, and by the absence of any discernible strategy. After trashing Resolution 1559 last November by pleading with Syria to permit a Lebanese presidential election (one the Elysee Palace had thought to follow up with a triumphal Christmas visit to Beirut by Sarkozy), the French stepped back when Assad rebuffed them. Humiliation was swiftly swallowed, however, after the Doha agreement, when the Syrians received the visit of Sarkozy adviser Claude Gueant, their reward for briefly failing to obstruct the Lebanese Constitution.
France: The Gate of Europe: Tishreen, Damascus (Translation thanks to mideastwire.com)
On July 2, the state-controlled daily Teshreen carried the following editorial by Chief Editor Issam Dari: “It is impossible to mention France without mentioning its revolution, which changed the course of history. We cannot talk about France without coming across its scientists, scholars, innovators and leaders who enriched the human culture and raised the slogan of freedom and entrenched the meanings of independence and patriotism.
“We cannot but mention the founder of the fifth French Republic, late President Charles De Gaulle, who has become a headline for resisting the Nazi occupiers and a school to fight for freedom and independence and a model to be pursued in steadfastness in the face of pressures, dictates and calls for “realism”.
“When General De Gaulle led the French resistance from London and through the radio and while he was subjected to pressures and dictates from Winston Churchill, he said: “I was too weak to surrender.” De Gaulle did not surrender. France gained its independence and freedom and De Gaulle established the fifth republic. That was a profound lesson that affirms that freedom does not come from surrendering to the fait accompli, and that no matter how immense the pressures are, they can never force righteous people to surrender.
“We recall General De Gaulle while France is close to commemorating its Independence Day. President Bashar al-Assad will visit Paris, a first visit in many years – upon the invitation of President Nicolas Sarkozy.
“Syria is placing much hope on a balanced French policy in the Middle East, and on an active French role in the issues of the region, in what pushes the peace process forward and entrenches security and stability. Syria realizes that France is Europe’s gate and that, along with Germany, they constitute the dynamo for the European Union, which maintains good relations with the Arabs and huge interests that require this union to carry out its influential and effective role in finding solutions to the crisis – which if continued – will negatively affect the interests of the European and Arab sides equally…..
Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said on Thursday peace talks between Israel and Syria, now mediated by Turkey, would have to be conducted face-to-face "very soon."
"With the Syrians, we are talking seriously and in my estimation very soon the negotiations will have to be direct. They will not be able to continue in the mode in which they are currently being held," Olmert told an economic conference in the southern resort city of Eilat.
U.S. Ambassador Richard Jones said Thursday that Washington would not intervene over Israel's renewed negotiations with Syria, calling it a private Israeli matter. Jones said that the U.S., like many Israeli officials, were wary of establishing contacts with Damascus, but would not opposed the renewed negotiations.
A Golan returned to a Syrian regime headed by the likes of Bashar Assad, who serves as valuable partner of Iran, an invaluable supporter of Hizbullah and Hamas, and a brutal oppressor of his own people, would never pass muster with the Israeli people – whether or not it actually comes to a vote.
Rep. James McGovern (MA-03), who wrote the preface, said the report provides "a road map for the next administration and Congress to follow". According to McGovern, the report outlines "what it would take to leave – what is required in terms of a cease-fire, reconciliation, recovery and security when the day comes for our troops to begin coming home." The report was authored by a Massachusetts- and Washington-based "task force" working with an advisory group of 14 international experts. These met together in a March workshop at Harvard University’s Weatherhead Center for International Affairs.
We welcome reviews and commentary on the Task Force findings. Sincerely, Charles Knight, Project on Defense Alternatives, Commonwealth Institute, for the Task Force Organizing Committee. firstname.lastname@example.org 617-547-4474
Salma Al-Shami write about a Syria play she saw in NY City: [email@example.com]
Hi again, Josh,
A couple of months ago I saw an incredible play called Damascus that was featured as part of the "Brits Off Broadway" series in NYC. It's written by Scottish playwright David Greig, and I was truly impressed by how many of the subtle nuances of Syrian culture he was able to pick up on and write into his characters and plot. The story follows Paul, a salesman who has come to Damascus on Valentine's Day to sell English language textbooks to an indifferent dean of a school and his beautiful assistant Muna. Paul's plane back home keeps getting delayed, and in the meanwhile, he develops relationships with Muna and Zacharia, the young hotel porter who is girl-and-party-obsessed. In the background is Elena, a Ukrainian pianist who acts as a Greek chorus, narrating the moral and theoretical backdrop of the scenes. As the synopsis of the play concludes, "In Damascus, a city of transformations, Paul grapples with language and love, meanings and misconceptions. And as his flight home is delayed by a bomb at Beirut Airport, he begins to wonder, will he ever leave?"Greig offers all types of social commentary, weaving in elements of what happened to the pre-Ba'ath intelligentsia (the "old generation") after the rise of the party, of the Palestinian narrative and its effects on the thinking and thought processes of Damascines, of the nature of gender relations etc…In any case, it's an excellent and quick read. I was able to track a copy of the play down from the UK. Don't know if it's available in the US, but if it sounds like something you'd be interested in reading and can't find it here, I'll happily loan you my copy of it.Here's a link to an interview that features Greig talking about his play and about his experiences working with young Syrian playwrights. http://www.theatrevoice.com/listen_now/player/?audioID=501Best,Salma
LONDON (AP) – The British government has added the military wing of Hezbollah to a list of terrorist groups banned in Britain.
Home Office minister Tony McNulty said in a Wednesday statement that the entire military section of the organization has been listed as a proscribed group under British terrorism laws.
The department says that Hezbollah's social and political work in Britain would be unaffected. But the ban will place tight limits on any fundraising _ particularly if funds are suspected to be intended for military action.
Individuals can be prosecuted for becoming a member of a proscribed group under British laws.
Revue de presse: Politique extérieure
M. Walid EL-MOUALLEM, Ministre des Affaires étrangères, a indiqué que tout progrès sur le volet syro-israélien des négociations ne devrait pas se faire au détriment du volet palestinien ou bien être utilisé à son encontre. suite
Revue de presse: Actualité nationale
Des sources bien informées ont déclaré à Al-Hayat que le gouvernement syrien publierait des rapports périodiques sur le niveau de la corruption dans le pays et ce à la lumière de l’approbation du Conseil des Ministres du Traité international sur la lutte contre la corruption qui nécessite des engagements précis de la part de Damas. suite
Bangkok Post | Spectacular SYRIA: Forget everything you have ever heard about Syria; it is a surprising country. Anyone who has been there can tell you the ancient ruins are beautiful, the food delicious, and the natural scenery very attractive. The nightlife is lively and the daylife intriguing. What more could you want on a holiday?