Qaqa – Fatah al-Islam Connection Pooh-poohed

Lebanese sources are claiming that the Syria firebrand preacher, Abu al-Qaqa, was the religious mentor and supposed "decider" for Fatah al-Islam's leader, Absi. This is Naharnet's headline:  Fatah al-Islam's Godfather Assassinated in Syria. This claim is fanciful on the face of it. Absi was older and infinitely more experienced than the naive Abu al-Qaqa. Absi is Palestinian, Qaqa is Kurdish. Qaqa is from Aleppo. Absi is not known to have spent time in Aleppo. The contention that Absi would look up to, let alone know, Abu al-Qaqa is foolish. None of this makes sense and not a shred of evidence is offered to back it up. The claim is a last ditch means to bolster the half-baked contention that Absi and his gang of al-Qaida Sunni fundamentalists were taking orders from a secular, Alawite President who had helped America round up or kill al-Qaida jihadists in the past and who had given the order to kill Absi's son-in-law as he snuck across the Iraqi-Syrian border. Not convincing.

Unfortunately this sort of nonsense is convincing to some members of the U.S. House, which Backs Lebanon against "Boot Licking" Proxies of Syria and Iran

Read Sami Moubayed's portrait of al-Qaqa to get the best sense of the man. He explains how Qaqa was an indigenous product of Syrian malaise and why the government allowed him to operate openly. The key was that he was as anti-al-Qaida as he was anti-American.

Addendum: (Oct. 7, Sent by Alex)

Abu al-Qaqa at the office:

And at home:

Here is what he looked like this year … shaved and wearing a suit.

Fatah al-Islam's Military Commander Arrested

The military commander of Fatah al-Islam, which led a 15-week uprising against the Lebanese army this summer, has been captured in a northern Palestinian refugee camp, a camp official said Monday.

"Nasser Ismail was captured by a (Palestinian) security force in the camp of Beddawi," Abu Ali Fares, a spokesman for Palestinian factions in the refugee camp told Agence France Presse.

"The force raided the house of a relative of Nasser Ismail and found him hiding in the attic with another person," Fares said.

"He was taken aboard a Red Crescent ambulance during the night of Sunday-Monday. He was handed over to the (Lebanese) army intelligence services," Fares added.

Beddawi camp is where many of the civilians driven from their homes in the Nahr al-Bared refugee camp further north by the fighting between Fatah al-Islam and the army were given emergency shelter.

Ismail's wife remains in Beddawi, where, as in Lebanon's other camps, security is left to the Palestinian factions by longstanding convention, Fares said.

Khalil Dib, an official of the Palestinian faction Fatah al-Intifada, told AFP that Ismail told him while in the custody of the Palestinian forces that he had been in Nahr al-Bared until Saturday before heading to Beddawi.

Since Nahr al-Bared fell on September 2, the Lebanese army has been combing the whole area for fugitive militants, including Fatah al-Islam leader Shaker al-Abssi.

Dib said that according to Ismail, "Shaker al-Abssi left Nahr al-Bared one month before the end of the battle" on September 2.

More than 400 people died in the fighting between the Lebanese army and Fatah al-Islam, including at least 222 Islamists. One more soldier died last Friday, raising the army's losses to 168.(AFP)

Syria shuts border to Iraqi refugees – UNHCR

(Reuters) – "The borders are once again closed (to refugees)," said a spokeswoman for the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees. "The UNHCR will urge Syria to grant humanitarian visas."

Jordan, the other main escape route for Iraqi refugees, imposed visas a few years ago but Syria had granted Iraqis a three-month permit to stay at the border.

Under the new scheme, only Iraqi merchants, businessmen and university professors with visas obtained from Syrian embassies may enter Syria.

Syria has taken in an estimated 1.4 million to 2 million Iraqi refugees since the 2003 U.S.-led invasion of Iraq, with 4,000-6,000 refugees entering daily across the desert border.

Iraqi Vice President Adel Abdel Mahdi, in Damascus last week, urged Syria to provide better services for the refugees and give them residency in large numbers.

Mahdi did not say whether he had asked the Syrian government to abandon the visa scheme to stop the refugee influx.

"The two countries agree that any Iraqi who wants to go to Syria from now on must have a visa first," an Iraqi official told Reuters.

Comments (59)

UJ said:

The Qaqa connection is a stretch, but what about the other reports of Fatah al-Islam’s connection to Syria? Absi’s death is still disputed, and he’s rumored to have escaped along with other members of Syrian intelligence DAYS before the Lebanese army closed in. While I don’t think that there is a fiendish Syrian hand behind everything bad in Lebanon, I’m not convinced Fatah is an al-Qaeda wannabe that popped up out of nowhere. Assad may be a secular Allawite, but he’s also Khamenei’s “poodle.” Not to mention it did keep March 14 more occupied. What do you see as the full scope of Syrian interference?

October 1st, 2007, 10:17 pm


Nour said:


Where did you get that Syrian intelligence escaped with Abbsi from Nahr el-Bared? What evidence points to such a conclusion? I don’t understand how people can continue to make completely unfounded claims and do so as if they are established facts. Let’s not forget that Syria is the one country that most aided the Lebanese Army in its fight against Fat7 el-Islam, as confirmed by the chief intelligence officer and the commander of the army. Foreign journalists and intelligence officials have pointed to Hariri and his Saudi backers as the more likely parties to have funded Fat7 el-Islam.

October 1st, 2007, 11:35 pm


Nour said:

The links you provided state that Shaker el-Abssi fled the camp, which I am not disputing, but none suggested that he had Syrian intelligence officers in his entourage, except for one, which has a clear political agenda and provided no evidence to support their claims. There is absolutely no evidence that Shaker el-Abssi escaped with Syrian intelligence officials.

October 2nd, 2007, 12:48 am


UJ said:

Okay, so I’m unable to locate the exact source, but it was NBN. But let’s assume you’re right and chalk the Syrian intelligence rumors up to political motivations. The sources do dictate that the escapees A) fled to Syria and B) were well prepared and equipped. Who did this? To be fair, where is your own nonpartisan, objective proof that it was unequivocally March 14 or the Saudis who were behind Fatah al-Islam?

Until then, I guess we agree to disagree.

October 2nd, 2007, 1:02 am


Habib said:


check out Qaqa singing:

October 2nd, 2007, 1:11 am


UJ said:

Let me also clarify by saying that absolutely in no way am I implying that Assad wants anything to do with sunni extremists. I think Assad’s support for Fatah al-Islam is based on sound strategic judgement, not any sort of sympathy for anything that Fatah al-Islam represents. In doing this he bolsters the image of the Lebanese Army and intelligence services, the heads of which clearly sympathize with Damascus. In addition, it allows Hezbollah to sling criticism at March 14 for their apparent inability to control internal affairs. That Fatah al-Islam came out as al-Qaeda was pretty much a surprise to everyone, but it did allow both the Lebanese Army and Absi to ask for more money from their respective benefactors. This is probably where any real Saudi connection comes in, but even then not from the Saudi government proper, just the usual suspects of Wahhabi sympathizers.

Syria has a history of supporting sunni extremists, and they also have a history of violently crushing them when they become liabilities, as western media likes to point out (also when its politically convenient.) In no way did I mean to imply that Syrian intelligence or Assad himself has anything to do with sunni extremism or the al-Qaeda franchise. Fatah al-Islam was pure and simple realpolitiks.

October 2nd, 2007, 3:00 am


Nur al-Cubicle said:

French academics Bernard Rougier and Jean Leca have a book out called “Le jihad au quotidien [Everyday Jihad]” that throws water on the Syria connection. I bought it at Looking forward to finishing it to provide more insightful commentary.

October 2nd, 2007, 3:45 am


Nour said:


The bottom line is that none of us really know exactly what the source is of Fateh el-Islam, and I am not unequivocally saying it was Hariri and Saudi Arabia that are behind them. I merely provided the information that some western sources have linked FeI to those two as a counterbalance to your claim that Syria was behind Fateh el-Islam. I believe there are many possibilities, and the Saudi/Hariri link is still very possible, and many political figures have asked to trace the accounts of the Mediterranean Bank, which is believed to be the source of FeI funding. Further, FeI leaders were living in apartments in Tripoli which the government had full knowledge of. Some FeI members were captured with security forces uniforms. Their members included mostly Saudis. Talal Asaad, a former Future Movement official, stated on tv that Fateh el-islam was funded and supported by Hariri. Now, you can take what you will from all this info, but why do you believe that there is more evidence linking Syria to FeI than there is linking Hariri to this terrorist group.

As for Syria supporting sunni fundamentalist groups, the only group that Syria supports, which has a sunni islamic ideology is Hamas, which is not an al-Qaeda inspired wahhabi, takfiri group that aims to fight all infidels (i.e. Shiites included). However, we know who was behind the Muslim Brotherhood in Syria that committed numerous acts of terror inside the country before Assad crushed them, which were namely the CIA, Jordan, and KSA. The CIA was also the main creator and supporter of al-Qaeda. Therefore, if anyone really has a history of supporting Sunni fundamentalist groups it is the US and Saudi Arabia.

October 2nd, 2007, 4:05 am


Youssef Hanna said:


There is no doubt whatsoever that the Syrian regime, anti-Qaida by nature, provided a lauded support to the CIA after 9/11; US services admitted that the Mokhaabaraat information saved American lives.

This proves, on the other hand, – it is arithmetical though a Mokhaabaraat-undesired effect of the cooperation – that the Mokhaabaraat established solid links inside radical islam local organisations.

If you were at the head of Syrian services, and faced expanding islamist operations in Syria, would you settle with these organisations, with which it is proven that you entertain connections, or with the major part of these organisations, for an arrangement whereby you allow them to fight common enemies in Iraq and Lebanon, against peace at home?

If you reached with these such a logical arrangement, then we would notice that islamism, which has a breeding religious and poverty ground in Syria as much, at the minimum, as it has in North Lebanon and central Iraq, is nevertheless active in Iraq, and Lebanon, while globally dormant in Syria.

Is this what we notice? it seems yes.

Obviously, i humble citizen am not fooled as you can see, though i cannot be honestly required to provide judiciary evidence of the involvement in Lebanon of Mokhaabaraat agents. This is of the province of the international tribunal, which has the means for it, and will look into the suicide attack/murder of PM Hariri, and thus look into the node of the Mokhaabaraat/Islamist connection.

Best regards

October 2nd, 2007, 6:21 am


Leb Christian said:

Josh, I know you’re not stupid, so I’ll just assume you’re playing stupid.

“The claim is a last ditch means to bolster the half-baked contention that Absi and his gang of al-Qaida Sunni fundamentalists were taking orders from a secular, Alawite President who had helped America round up or kill al-Qaida jihadists in the past and who had give the order to kill Absi’s son-in-law as he snuck across the Iraqi-Syrian border”

– Really? Are you seriously implying that the Assads, have never in the past had links with Islamic extremists, and used them in their interests? Are you seriously telling us that the Assads have never shared interests with Islamic fundamentalists? Because if that’s what you’re implying, then all the more reason to drop that “Syrian expert” label you like to give yourself.

October 2nd, 2007, 11:00 am


Leb Christian said:

Well, apparently I didn’t need to post the above reply, since someone already took care of you and demolished your reasoning (for lack of a better word)

October 2nd, 2007, 11:04 am


ausamaa said:

If Syria is behind Shaker al Absi and Co., and if Syria is behind all the dirty assasinations which have been taking place in Lebanon for the last two years, and despite the International Tribunal, despite the unprecedented support that any government -with the exception of Israel of course- had ever received from the US and the “Moderate arab states”, if Syria is still behind all those atrocities with total disregard to the pressures that Syria has been subjected to during the Bush “Era”, THEN, what would you think Syria will be capable of “doing” to the anti-Syria leaders in Lebanon once Dubbya and neo-cons say their goodbyes to the White House? Dreadfull thought for the bash-Syria crowd, is it not?

Well, of course, there is always the possibility of Bush nucking Syria or something like that happening before Dubbya heads back to Texas. Right!

Is the word PARANOIA applicable here? Or, should we use words like Dissappointmentphopia, brokendreamsphopia and timetobitethedustphopia all combined into one?

Wake up “smart” nieghbours. It is about time.

October 2nd, 2007, 3:03 pm


UJ said:


I don’t think anyone is “bashing” Syria any more than Youssef was bashing America by pointing out US support for sunni extremism. I’m not sure anyone here would spend as much time talking about Syria if they thought Assad was just some evil cartoon terrorist.

Also, if we’re to assume that the Bush era pressures on the Assad regime are working, why not just assume Iraq is going great, or Abu Ghraib was a terrific idea. I think the continuing assassinations in Lebanon are proof that the international pressure is NOT working, not proof that someone else must be behind it.

When Bush leaves office, Assad could be presumed to have more freedom, but we could also presume that Bush’s replacement might be more effective at containing Syria. I guess we’ll have to wait and see.

October 2nd, 2007, 3:37 pm


ausamaa said:

Yeh, I know. Hope Springs Eternal..especially when Thoughtfullness and Wisdom take a long nap.

October 2nd, 2007, 4:18 pm


idaf said:

Israel officially admits attack on Syria (or in other words confirms its “visceral antipathy towards peace”). This comes a day after Assad exposed that the attack took place on an unused military building under construction in an interview with BBC.

October 2nd, 2007, 4:49 pm


Kamal said:

> THEN, what would you think Syria will be capable of “doing” to the
> anti-Syria leaders in Lebanon once Dubbya and neo-cons say their
> goodbyes to the White House? Dreadfull thought for the bash-Syria
> crowd, is it not?

Ausamaa is back to what he does best: making thuggish threats while downing whiskey on the rocks.

October 2nd, 2007, 6:05 pm


Nour said:

Yousef Hanna,

Your points are argumentative and although I won’t dismiss your contentions outright, I don’t agree with your findings. Let’s not forget that Syria has a stable government (for the time being) unlike the case in Iraq and Lebanon, which is a more realistic reason for the containment of jihadist activity there. There of course has been several attempted attacks inside Syria by jihadists, which were uncovered and put down by the Syrian government. Similarly, in Jordan jihadist activity seems to be highly contained, but I wouldn’t use that reality to draw conclusions that the Jordanian intelligence (which also has a presence inside Lebanon) has come to an agreement with them whereby they can operate freely inside Iraq and Lebanon.

The Syrian government has had a history of no tolerance of Islamic fundamentalist groups, and the only group supported by Syria which one might consider Sunni Islamic fundamentalist is Hamas, which we all know is an entirely different organization than the al-Qaeda inspired types. On the other hand, as I stated before, groups such as al-Qaeda and the Muslim Brotherhood were clearly supported and funded by the CIA and Saudi Arabia. Therefore, if anything, it is more likely that Saudi Arabia, with US encouragement, has been in bed with these extremist groups.

October 2nd, 2007, 6:09 pm


Kamal said:

> The Syrian government has had a history of no tolerance of Islamic
> fundamentalist groups


The Syrian strategy is to export instability. Its history is to crush militants at home (Palestinian, back in the day, or jihadist, today) and support militants in Lebanon, Palestine, Iraq and Jordan – not to mention Syrian clientism of the Islamic Republic of Iran.

October 2nd, 2007, 6:14 pm


idaf said:


Repeating these baseless accusations will NOT make them less false than they are.

Remember, if the media says so, then the media might be wrong (remember Iraq WMD, Saddam-AlQaida link, Hindawi affair,.. etc. etc. etc.)?

October 2nd, 2007, 6:22 pm


Nour said:


Where has Syria exported instability? Please be rational here. Syria actually stabilized Lebanon, despite the fact that they did engage in certainly detrimental behavior. In Iraq, you can’t seriously blame Syria for the chaos there, as we all know what the root cause is of the mess in that country. On the other hand, the Muslim Brotherhood, in Syria itself, was committing acts of terror for some years with the aid and support of the US, KSA, and Jordan. So if anything, those countries were exporting instability into Syria. Syria has no interest in having instability all around them, as that would only pose a long-term threat to them.

As for its alliance with Iran, this is a strategic alliance with another country and has nothing to do with the nature of its government. The US is allied with the Islamic wahhabi Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. There is a clear hypocracy here. It seems that it is ok for KSA and the US to support and fund the likes of al-Qaeda but Syria, no matter what, must be painted as the “bad guy”.

October 2nd, 2007, 6:41 pm


Kamal said:


Your tactic of diverting the conversation to other countries is weak. Don’t treat me as an apologist for the US or KSA. If I was on “US Comment” or “Saudi Comment” I would be accusing both parties of hypocrisy and cynical alliances, not to mention their long list of internal and external crimes.

Syria supports the Jordanian Muslim Brotherhood, Sunni terrorists in Iraq, Hamas and Islamic Jihad in Palestine, Hizballah in Lebanon, plus other gangster-clients like the PFLP-GC, and Fath-Intifada, of which Fath-Islam is an “offshoot”. Its prime patron is the Shi’a fanatical regime in Iran. Clearly, this regime has no scruples over who to make tactical or strategic alliances with.

As many commentators here remind us, the regime has also never had any compunctions about cooperating with the United States – whether by torturing suspects in “extraordinary rendition” or by “stabilizing” Lebanon under a US-Saudi mandate.

Syria will ally itself with anyone – Sunni, Shi’a, secular, American, Saudi, Iranian or otherwise – in the interests of the survival of its tyrannical regime.

October 2nd, 2007, 6:58 pm


UJ said:


If you say that supporting terrorism makes you a bad guy, then it means everyone is a bad guy, which means no one is a bad guy, which makes “bad guy” a completely useless classification. No one is saying that Assad is a bad guy for supporting terrorism, because then we’ll be trapped in the eternal argument of whether Syrian terrorism is worse than Saudi terrorism is worse than CIA terrorism and so on and so on.

Accepting Assad’s support for terrorism does not constitute hating him, disrespecting Syria, or bashing anyone. If anything, it should add to your respect for the regime, as they are clearly awake to the conditions of the vibrant Islamic world they live in and not, say, disconnected and incoherent to their surroundings, usually denoted by naked aggression and suppression. Quite frankly, a carbomb speaks louder than an ICBM on the arab street, and Assad knows this. It doesn’t make him crazy or evil, it makes him shrewd.

He uses Hezbollah to upset the balance of Lebanese democracy because only an idiot would invade for regime change. He maintains and controls the islamist groups because only an idiot would park offshore and lob cruise missiles at them. He courts their various ideologies because only an idiot would wall them off and send in armed settlers.

See how it works? It’s not about terrorism. Everybody here is against blowing people up. But only by accepting and understanding that state actors use terrorism to further their goals can we ever hope to mobilize and deploy a viable alternative.

In other words, ignoring it won’t make it go away.

October 2nd, 2007, 7:20 pm


Nour said:


How does Syria’s support for Hamas or Islamic Jihad help its regime survive? I agree that the Syrian regime is indeed interested in maintaining its grip on power; I never disputed that. But that is not its only motivator. Remember that this regime preaches Arab Nationalism and in doing so has to maintain a degree of credibility in that regard (keep in mind that I am not an Arab nationalist). Therefore, it finds it necessary to support groups within its sphere that are resisting foreign occupation. How does that make it an exporter of instability?

My argument is that even for the sake of the survival of the regime, having unstable countries all around them is not to their benefit. Syria wants stable governments, but of course ones that are not anti-Syrian, and that will not collaborate with other countries against Syria. This is the reason for its heavy involvement in Lebanon, which I believe has actually wasted a lot of Syria’s energy. But there is no doubt that Lebanon, under its current system, is a prime place for foreign collaboration as the various sectarian and tribal groups will ally with whomever can ensure their support and survival. They will change friends and allies in a heartbeat, much like we say after the US’s heavy involvement there.

With respect to Iran, I do not agree that Syria is a client of the Islamic Republic. I believe that Syria has formed a strategic alliance with Iran as it was finding itself increasingly isolated. Nations do that all the time, and this doesn’t mean that one is a client of the other. I understand that you are opposed to the Syrian regime, and believe me, I have no problem with that, but one must not exaggerate the positions and actions of the Syrian government based on their emotional position toward the regime.

October 2nd, 2007, 7:22 pm


Nour said:


I agree that terms such as “bad guy” or “evil” have no place in international relations and in analyzing state actors. What I meant to say is that the US and now Saudi media are indeed painting Syria as a “bad” actor and implicitly including it in Bush’s “axis of evil”.

I also have stated that there is no doubt that Syria does support certain resistance groups in its effort to confront threats from other countries, namely the US and Israel. However, I simply do not buy the argument that Syria, under these circumstances, is supporting Fateh el-Islam or any other al-Qaeda inspired group. Syria does not trust these groups which have dangerous agendas of their own. And my argument is that, based on the very premise that state actors will support terrorism to advance their interests, it is also very possible that the US and Saudi Arabia are behind many of the Islamic fundamentalist groups, including Fateh el-Islam.

October 2nd, 2007, 7:30 pm


idaf said:


The only substantiated groups that Syria support on your list are HA and the Palestinian groups (the latter was out of necessity not choice after all other countries in the region obediently rejected them under pressure from the Israel/US). As for supporting Fateh el-Islam, Jordanian Muslim Brotherhood and Sunni terrorists in Iraq, this is pure hearsay. You, Israel and the US administration can repeat as much as you like. The acceptance level of this is extremely low among Arabs in general (and almost zero percent inside Syria).

The common factor on whatever group that Syria supports is that this group would primarily have a working viable anti-Israel agenda. Don’t forget that this is a pan-Arabist regime and supporting these anti-Israel groups is only a creative solution for keeping the balance of power and deterrence with Israel after the endless arms embargos.

Speaking from a pure realistic point of view, the rules of the game that Israel wants to impose on Syria (ie. It’s fare for us to occupy your land, threaten you, bomb you, influence economic, technological and military sanctions on you) BUT you don’t have the right to response through alliances with social/military groups that have a vast legit public support in their countries (HA and Hamas) and have the ability to work efficiently against us.

Realistically speaking, why should Syria accept these rules?!

Any sane government should keep all these deterrence options on the table with such ruthless occupying power.

October 2nd, 2007, 7:35 pm


UJ said:


And my argument is that US and Saudi support doesn’t make any sense whatsoever. Why would the US do anything to further destabilize Lebanon when every other action it takes, however trivial or insignificant, is to stabilize and bolster March 14 and Siniora? I agree that there may have been Saudi citizens involved, but again, where does the Saudi Government benefit from Fatah al-Islam? Hezbollah, the Army, and yes, even Assad comes out profitable from the affair, so why would the US do this?

I hate to drag out a tired cliche, but follow the money. Who gains from FAI? I think you’ll find that its not the US, it’s not the Saudis, and least of all its not March 14. All signs apparently point to Syria.

October 2nd, 2007, 7:41 pm


UJ said:


“The acceptance level of this is extremely low among Arabs in general (and almost zero percent inside Syria)”

If you measure Syria’s involvement in Lebanon by polling the average citizen, you might as well poll Americans about Saddam’s WMD’s or intelligent design. You’ll get an overwhelming majority, all right, but they’ll still be wrong.

October 2nd, 2007, 7:45 pm


idaf said:


You HAVE to trust me on this!
Syrians knowledge about Lebanon and Lebanese affairs is light years in advance compared to Americans knowledge about Iraq or even somewhere closer to home like Cuba even.

On who benefits from FeI, it’s all those who originally wanted it as an ideological anti-Hizballah tool before it went out of control. You know such things happen.. remember Al-Qaida, the CIA, Saudi and the Soviets and how then things went way out of control. S**t happens, no?!

October 2nd, 2007, 8:02 pm


UJ said:


Precisely! Let’s use that logic on past parallels like Afghanistan and we will see just how obvious the supporters are.

When the soviets invaded, the simple mujahideen had Stinger missiles, low band radio, officer dossiers and satellite imagery to fight them. Where did they get them? Must have been the Soviets, trying to destabilize themselves.

In Lebanon, a Palestinian-Lebanese Islamist group on the Syrian border attacks the US/Israeli/Saudi supported March 14 Government. How’d they get strong enough to do that? Apparently, like the idiot Soviets in Afghanistan, it must be the idiot CIA and Saudis who are trying to destabilize themselves.

Right? How does that make any sense at all?

Again, I maintain that FAI’s attack was a product of Assad and Syrian intelligence, and by all indicators, it was a resounding success. Fatah al-Islam was simply the most convenient policy mule at the time, and their allegiance to al-Qaeda was nothing more than a money making gesture made out of greed and desperation.

Everybody comes out looking better EXCEPT the Americans, Saudis and March 14.

October 2nd, 2007, 8:27 pm


idaf said:


I’m sorry but you’re not making much sense to me. However, don’t take my word for it. Would a renowned Pulitzer awarded investigative journalists do? Such as Seymour Hersh for example who had got it right so many times that I actually lost count?!

October 2nd, 2007, 8:53 pm


ausamaa said:

I really Love all this talk about Syrian responsibility for every thing that is happpening in the Middle East. I know that Syria can play a very good hand, but Syria’s super-actions and super-cunning and super-influence as portrayed by some is quite remarkable. Makes you think that we are now moving away from a unipolar World where the US thought it could act alone uncontested into one managed by both the US AND SYRIA? IF Syria is as influential as THIS, then why dosn’t Dubbya get his behind in a chair across the table from Bashar and try to work things out. That would solve a lot of problems, lives and faces. Unless Dubyya “somehow” knows that the “dirty” hands behind most of this mess are not Syria’s!

October 2nd, 2007, 10:27 pm


Jamal said:

I very much like and value Dr Landis’s writings on Syria and am unimpressed by those who try to one-up him with petty personal sniping.

However, I have to say that the link provided by Leb Christian above gives a view on the late singing Qaqa (thanks Habib for that youtube link!) that is far closer to my own observations and information in Syria.

Qaqa was toxic but a protected species whose eradication was left too late to stop the infestation. Just another stupid game of chicken by the Assad family with bad consequences for the Syrian people.

Idaf – I too have read Seymour Hersh and enjoyed what he writes. But I have also read critiques of his work and listened to interviews he’s done that (added to my own background readings) made me see him as a bit less objective and astute. UJ put it nicely about his sources.

But don’t ask me who or what to believe at the moment. I think we will have to wait several years for the fog to lift and some crucial background and facts emerge and are pieced together, just like it’s happened with a lot of other stuff in modern history.

October 2nd, 2007, 10:27 pm


UJ said:


Sorry about the sarcasm in my earlier comment, I forget it doesn’t always come across in text comments. However, your link does answer my question of why the US would act so irrationally.

Hersh makes some very good, interesting points. The only defense I can muster against his argument at this point is that, on a close reading, he appears to be inferring the US-Saudi involvement based on assumptions made regarding the accuracy of public statements by various public officials including Condoleeza Rice. I would only ask why Hersh chooses to believe his sources, rather than sources with opposing viewpoints, some of which have higher credibility than Hersh’s sources.

Still, it’s a very interesting argument. Where can I learn more?

October 2nd, 2007, 10:32 pm


ausamaa said:

UG says:

“Why would the US do anything to further destabilize Lebanon when every other action it takes, however trivial or insignificant, is to stabilize and bolster March 14 and Siniora?”

Because the US does not give a rats ass about LEBANON. It is using LEBANON as a small sparking blug in its highly successful and rewarding adopted policy of Creative Instability “designed” to create the super-safe and Super-friendly Middle East breached by some smart American Patriots to sereve the higher interests of Israel, Sorry, of the US!

Or did you believe that all this sudden interest and hectic US efforts are carried on for the love of Lebanon Cedar’s and for the sake of the blue eye’s of the Lebanese people?

I am telling you this as if we dont already know it. Right?

October 2nd, 2007, 10:43 pm


UJ said:


Of course it’s not about their blue eyes. It’s about their green money. Get your empires straight.

October 2nd, 2007, 10:49 pm


Kamal said:


If you want a quick critique of Seymour Hersh’s recent works about Lebanon, here is Michael Young.

If you have time to plunge deeper, here are Tony Badran’s deconstructions of Hersh, his sources, and his allegations.

October 2nd, 2007, 10:51 pm


ausamaa said:

BTW, did I hear right todays statement by Feltman that he hopes that Lebanon (and its neighbours) succeed in electing a Lebanese President. I heard the Arabic translation on NTV and NBN. I thought the “world Community” did not want any interference in the coming -or going- Lebanese Presidential elections? What does Feltman mean by invoking the word “neighbours”-if he did-? Is the US going back to the trade-Lebanon business or did I hear it wrong?


October 2nd, 2007, 10:52 pm


UJ said:


Thank you for the links. I was actually curious to see if there were more sources to Hersh’s story, but Young’s criticism demolished that idea.

I’m fairly familiar with Hersh and who he sometimes serves as a “leakpipe” for, but the only thing I worry is that, like some people see a Syrian hand behind everything, do we ourselves tend to see a Mossad or AIPAC hand behind everything?

Besides, Hersh makes a good point, but there’s still more hard evidence to support a Syrian connection, and only intellectually loose sectarian collisions to support his claimed US-Saudi connection.

October 2nd, 2007, 11:02 pm


Michael Pugliese said:

Another piece by Michael Young on Sy Hersh. In of all places radical left/paleo-con Counterpunch, The Dark Side of Spun a Lot?
Seymour Hersh and Iran.”

October 2nd, 2007, 11:16 pm


ausamaa said:

UJ and KAMAL, come on , why bother? Syria was behind it and Khalas. McDonald’s motto again: Keep It Simple Stupid!

October 2nd, 2007, 11:55 pm


Bakri said:

NOUR are u shia from leb?
NOUR ,who brought khomaini to power ,not the CIA ,british and french intelligence agencies?Was not the same khomaini who purshased american made weapons from Israel?
And who gave a green light in afghanistan and iraq to the iranian regime,not the british and americans?
NOUR, those are the most hypocrit people on hearth,they hate the palestinians more than the zionist do.
And be logic ,if all the world were against the minority regime ,hafez would not be able to remain in power for so long.
bashar regime is still granted the israeli cover.
If as u said the brotherhood were helped by the cia ,they would be in power in most of the arab countries and not these depraved servants of the hostile forces (ghadafi and asad more servants than the others despite their false slogans)…and btw ,hamas(brotherhood of palestine) alliance with the regimes of syria and iran is not based on love.
Dont belive their hypocrit slogans look at the reality.
the iranian regime is not less hostile than the zionists and any follower of this regime must be considered as fifht column.

October 3rd, 2007, 1:06 am


Nour said:


I am not Shia from Lebanon and I have no illusions about Khomeini and the Iranian government. All states work according to their interests and sometimes some interests between 2 states may converge.

October 3rd, 2007, 1:28 am


Bakri said:

Nour ok if they want to deal or to fight it’s their problem,but not at the expense of the arab people.

October 3rd, 2007, 1:42 am


Nour said:


You portrayed the attack by Fateh el-Islam as one against the US-backed Sanioura government, when this is far from the case. Fateh el-Islam gunmen attacked the Lebanese Army, and not the government. You must distinguish between the two, as this government is not in total agreement with the army. In fact, some of the sources you presented, which are pro-government sources, have claimed that the Army helped fateh el-Islam fighters escape along with Syrian intelligence officials. And the Army itself has stated that there is no link between FeI and Syria, after which it came under a vicious attack from loyalist politicians.

The fact is that Syria had absolutely NOTHING to gain from Fateh el-Islam. And all these acts of terror inside Lebanon have done nothing but solidify the support of the so-called “international community” for Sanioura and his government. Why would Syria want to do that? Sanioura is weak inside Lebanon and the opposition has mounted an effective campaign to keep the government paralyzed. So why in the world would Syria want to engage in such a reckless act?

There is a list of evidence possibly connecting Hariri and Saudi Arabia to Fateh el-Islam, yet you chose to ignore them, while focusing on whatever evidence may somehow demonstrate a link between Syria and FeI. I think the best way to find out the truth is to investigate and Audit the Mediterranean Bank, which is believed to have been the source of funding for Fateh el-Islam.

And in the end, the only beneficiary of the FeI terrorists is the US/Israel and the March 14 government only to the extent which they are servin US/Israeli interests. By weakening the Army with this battle and by pinning the whole thing on Syria, they were giving further justification for the establishment of an international force in Lebanon to patrol the borders.

I think eventually we will find out the truth about all what is currently taking place, but hopefully it will not be after the fact, such as what happened with Iraq’s WMD claims.

October 3rd, 2007, 1:42 am


Nour said:


I agree, not at the expense of our people. But please, what do you believe caused more harm to our people, Syria’s alliance with Iran or Saudi Arabia’s alliance with the US, which was allowed to invade Iraq from Saudi soil. Remember, Syria has entered into a strategic alliance with Iran as a result of current circumnstances, in which Syria finds itself increasingly isolated by the collaborationist Arab regimes who are opposed to any act in defense of our rights. We all know that Arab regimes would like nothing more than for us to relinquish our national rights and submit to US/Israeli demands.

October 3rd, 2007, 1:45 am


Bakri said:

NOUR,when 10000’s of palestinian civilians were slaughtered (by the syrian regime and lebanese shia proxies)in the lebanese camps after israeli american request ;how do u call that?the syrian regime has a long past of such dealing at the expense of the people .
They are all looking for a good ticket deal with the USA,the syrian and iranian regimes more than the others but at least the others are less hypocrits and they do that openly.

October 3rd, 2007, 1:57 am


Nour said:

I don’t absolve the Syrian regime of crimes in Lebanon against many groups, not just Palestinians. And most other groups also committed crimes, including the Palestinian factions themselves. But don’t turn this into a Sunni-Shiite affair, which you are obviously doing here. King Hussein and the Jordanian military massacred much more Palestinians than Assad ever did. The sectarian identity of those rulers had nothing to do with their actions.

October 3rd, 2007, 2:11 am


Bakri said:

NOUR,i said ‘pal civilians ‘,the worse massacres happened when the camps were empty from palestinian fighters…most of the victims were women,children and old people…they even obliged them to eat cats and dogs…
As for the nature of the regime in Syria no one can hide its sectarian nature…sectarianism is very strong amongst the middle eastern minorities , bashar and his sectarian gang know that the lethal danger for him is not israel or usa and even not the saudis but the syrian people.

October 3rd, 2007, 2:50 am


why-discuss said:

Seymour Hersh interviewed on NPR by Terry Gross on Tuesday 2 october. You can listen to it on here

October 3rd, 2007, 2:55 am


Youssef Hanna said:


Similarly, Saudi Mokhaabaraat appear to be letting jihadists out, to kill shia fighters in Iraq, on the one hand, and, more importantly perhaps, at the same time get killed.

The Syrian regime also shares common enemies with jihadists, in Lebanon for instance: namely, al 3abd el ma2mour lil 3abd el ma2mour, who succeeds, as an enemy to the Syrian regime, to assassinated Hariri, and provides jihadists at the same time with a despised model of defeatist pro-infidel moslem government.

Pls notice that, intriguigly enough, inspite of FeI being Qaida inspired, and although its jihadists fought Shia kouffars when in Iraq, there is no incident registered of an agression against a Shia objective, Shia mosques, Hezbollah fighters, innocent shia villagers, shia political leaders, in Lebanon, where Hezbollah is a Syrian regime ally.

While able to operate out of Ain el Helwé in the South as proven by the attack on the Spanish convoy, or from Dahié-close borj el brajneh, where Al Absi stayed for a while after being freed, FeI settled for moving and regrouping in the Shia-exempt North.

Had they succeeded in setting their North Lebanon emirate, chances are not negligible that the U.S wd have been forced to mend fences with the Syrian regime and allow the latter to return and clean the North of Lebanon as it did in the early eighties.

A last point:

Lebanese democrats hostile to the Syrian regime have claimed that Al Absi (i) entered Syrian jail for a legal offence that remains obscure, (ii) was not extradited to Jordan though convicted in the Foley assassination, for a reason unknown, (iii) was freed and allegedly left without surveillance though a Syrian-regime chased islamist, for a reason unclear.

Were i in the Syrian government, subjected to this accusation articulated by enemies aiming at isolating it in view of destabilizing it or of attacking it, would i provide the convincing answers that maybe i have to these damning questions? sure i would, if i only could.

Best regards

October 3rd, 2007, 9:09 am


ausamaa said:

Yousef Hanna

Right, but do those “Lebanese democrats hostile to the Syrian regime” care if Syria is Innocent or Guilty when they always accuse Syria of each crime in less than an a one hour of the crime happening? You think you can convince a Syria-servant who switched sides over night to become a US-servant of listening to reason?

And I really adore the word you used “Lebanese Democrates”. It is the convicted Jaja, the Blood-thirsty Junblat and Harriri Jr., the Wounder Billionair Saudi kid, you meant by “Lebanese Democrates” if I am not mistaken.

BTW dont you love Lebanon’s NTV clips “Erbit Tinhal…Your slogan for life”?

October 3rd, 2007, 3:18 pm


ausamaa said:

Yousef Hanna

Right, but do those “Lebanese democrats hostile to the Syrian regime” care if Syria is Innocent or Guilty when they always accuse Syria of each crime in less than an a one hour of the crime happening? You think you can convince a Syria-servant who switched sides over night to become a US-servant of listening to reason?

And I really adore the word you used: “Lebanese Democrates”. It is the convicted Jaja, the Blood-thirsty Junblat and Harriri Jr., the Wounder Billionair Saudi kid, you meant by “Lebanese Democrates” if I am not mistaken.

BTW dont you love Lebanon’s NTV clips “Erbit Tinhal…Your slogan for life”?

October 3rd, 2007, 3:18 pm


Nour said:

Yousef Hanna,

Again, you are merely drawing conclusions based on limited information. Basically, the only link to Syria you are presenting is that Shaker el-Abssi was in prison in Syria and was released from prison in Syria. But beyond that, there is no evidence tying Syria to FeI, and the questions you posed are not sufficient to convict Syria. Yes, Shaker el-Abssi was arrested in Syria on charges of belonging to a restricted group and was sentenced to 3 years imprisonment. After serving his sentence, he was released. You say that they never extradited him to Jordan even though Jordan had convicted him in abstentia of murdering American diplomat Lawrence Foley, but did Jordan ever make an official extradition request?

Moreover, if the same logic were to be used an applied elsewhere, we would have to conclude that Jordan was behind Abu Musab el-Zarqawi and al-Qaeda in Iraq. After all, Zarqawi was arrested in Jordan on charges of conspiring to overthrow the Jordanian Monarchy and only spent 5 years in prison. After his release, he involved in an attempt to blow up the Radisson in Amman and fled Jordan. He then returned and was arrested briefly in Jordan in 2001 and released. Why would the Jordanians release Zarqawi when he had been found to be involved in an attempt to blow up the Radisson Hotel? Why would he only spend 5 years in prison for a charge that normally carries a much heavier sentence?

Yet, beyond these questions, we have no evidence to link the Jordanian government to al-Qaeda in Iraq. The same goes for Syria and Fateh el-Islam. There is definitely a crowd today that wants desperately to convict Syria of all crimes that have taken place in Lebanon, but this is pure political opportunism and emotional reaction.

October 3rd, 2007, 4:45 pm


Youssef Hanna said:


I do share your view that those who assassinated Hariri have a much less effective enemy indeed in young and under average Saad; i also think Jaja deserved the 11 years, and hope as much as you certainly do that those who are terrorizing their lebanese opponents by murder, be they at the head of any state, will fairly serve as many years. However i must say i have but sympathy and admiration for the stubborn, clever, impudent, and courageous, who over twenty years drank his father’s blood in a golden cup that was tendered to him, thus survived, and entertained the flame until the advent of the opportunity for revenge.

By “Lebanese democrats” i mean whoever made it possible that:

(i) an anti-government candidate is now allowed to win elections without the results being reversed by the Constitutional court,

(ii) an anti-government tv is not closed anymore and forever if it helped anti-government candidates win,

(iii) people hostile to the government can now demonstrate or make sit ins for as long as they want, and not be beaten up/jailed,

(iv) Al Akhbar/Al Safir/Al balad/Al Anwar/Al Manar/Orange TV/NTV, etc… r now free to criticize the government, unveil plots by the U.S.A, or the KSA, or France, after journalists had gotten since 1976 the message from the Hawadess editor found with his tongue cut and his right hand burned, and protected tongue and hand for decades,

(v) politicians/activists are not assassinated anymore if they dare oppose the power in place, of the like of Kamaal Joumblatt, Soubhi Saleh, Moufti Khaaled, Nazem el Kaadri, Bashiir el Gemayyel, René Moawad, Ramzi Irani.

Best regards

October 3rd, 2007, 6:01 pm


ausamaa said:

Yousef Hanna,

You almost convinced me! But do you believe that this Deomcratic Festival is being held by “Lebanese Democrates” (not Syria haters and Bush lovers)for the sake of Lebanon and not that it drives its justification and survival from being a part of the much wider Bush plan for the area? Or do those “Lebanese Democrates” believe that they can con, or use, or outsmart the Bush policy to their advantage without paying the requiered price for this temporaray tender care?

October 3rd, 2007, 9:30 pm


Youssef Hanna said:


Requiring for taking action in view of an international tribunal the same level of proof that is required for the judicial punishment itself bears the practical consequence that, although they were politically neutralized and physically assassinated, yet nobody killed Salim el Laouzi, Kamaal Joumblatt, Pdt Bashiir el Gemayyel, Pdt René Moawad, Soubhi el Saleh, Moufti Khaaled, MP Nazem el Kaadri, Elie Hobeika, PM Rafik Hariri, Samiir Kassir, Georges Haoui, MP Pierre Gemayel, MP Waliid Eido, MP Antoine Ghanem, given that:

(i) with respect to politicians/journalists’ murders that occurred under the time of the Syrian regime rule, no judicial investigation whatsoever was carried under that rule, except for assassinations perpetrated by enemies to the Syrian regime, in such a manner that PM Rashiid Karamé and Marhoum Dany Chamoun are the only murdered politicians of that era who do have a killer,

(ii) a judge of the Hariri case in Lebanon wd run a significant risk of being impeded from carrying the investigation, including by assassinating the judge,

(iii) judges that were commissioned on the Hariri case in Damascus in 2005 are fortunately still alive and do not appear to be seriously running a risk of assassination, but made no further progress than Syrian regime era judges of Lebanon made (except for crimes perpetrated by enemies to the Syrian regime),

(iv) and, last, suspicion against the Syrian regime is disallowed except accompanied with iron clad technical proof, in such a manner that there is no ground for a tribunal that would be international.

In the light of the above it is the duty of all of us seeking a better life in Lebanon and Syria to suspect – i said to suspect and did not say to convict – to suspect, i repeat, the Syrian regime, (i) for murders of politicians left without investigation under the Syrian regime rule, (ii) for the murder perpetrated against a powerful opponent to the Syrian regime rule when the latter came under threat (iii) thereafter, for murders perpetrated against politicians/journalists favorable to the international tribunal.


October 4th, 2007, 6:41 am


Joshua said:

Nour and Youssef Hanna,

Many thanks for your very convincing and smart debate. I am convinced by both of you. Important.
Best, Joshua

October 4th, 2007, 2:32 pm


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