Posted by Joshua on Thursday, July 2nd, 2009
A few recent scholarly articles of interest on Syria are:
- Mir H. Sadat and Daniel B. Jones, “U.S. Foreign Policy Toward Syria: Balancing Ideology and National Interests” [93-105]: MIDDLE EAST POLICY, Summer 2009 (Vol. 16, No. 2)
- Shana Marshall, “Syria and the Financial Crisis: Prospects for Reform?” [106-115] MIDDLE EAST POLICY, Summer 2009 (Vol. 16, No. 2)
- Yücel Güçlü, “Will Untapped Ottoman Archives Reshape the Armenian Debate?” [35-42] Middle East Quarterly. [Gives a Turkish slant.]
Rafida: See the following article if you have been following the recent debate in the comment section about “Rafida” or the Shiite doctrine of promoting Alid line of Caliphal succession over that prefered by Sunnis.
- Chase F. Robinson, “The Ideological Uses of Early Islam” [205-228]: PAST AND PRESENT, May 2009 (Vol. 203, No. 1)
Chase Robinson explains that all too commonly Sunnis push:
what is a crucial doctrine that belongs to the ninth century into the first half of the eighth. The doctrine is that of the ‘Four Rightly Guided Caliphs’, which posits that Ab Bakr (reigned 632–4), Umar (634–44), Uthmn (644–56) and Al (656–61), the latter two championed by implacably hostile groups, ruled in succession, all legitimate, albeit of declining merit (according to Sunnis). A narrative of just succession over the polity was superimposed upon a history of internecine conflict. The theory of ‘Four Rightly Guided Caliphs’ was thus a retrospective projection, one of the most conspicuous features of the relative ecumenism of Abbasid rule, a time that would also generate the closely related doctrine of the Prophet’s Companions. Along with the Prophet’s inerrancy, both are principal ingredients in the Islamic foundation myth.
Time for an Israeli Strike?
(By John R. Bolton, The Washington Post)
Israel must act quickly to strike the nuclear program of a resurgent regime. …
…Since there is no likelihood that diplomacy will start or finish in time, or even progress far enough to make any real difference, there is no point waiting for negotiations to play out. In fact, given the near certainty of Obama changing his definition of “success,” negotiations represent an even more dangerous trap for Israel.
Those who oppose Iran acquiring nuclear weapons are left in the near term with only the option of targeted military force against its weapons facilities. Significantly, the uprising in Iran also makes it more likely that an effective public diplomacy campaign could be waged in the country to explain to Iranians that such an attack is directed against the regime, not against the Iranian people….
Hello Syria: Obamas Offered Road To Damascus
2009-07-02, Sky News (GB):
Dominic Waghorn, Middle East correspondent Syria’s First Lady has exclusively told Sky News she would welcome the Obamas to Damascus. Asma al Assad’s comments are the latest in a series of signs US Syrian relations are improving after years of …
First lady’s interview with Sky. (4 minute video) She speaks about her efforts to get Syrian youth to participate in building the future of the country.
Syria changes “honour killing” law
By DPA, Jul 2, 2009
Damascus – Syrian President Bashar al-Assad issued a decree changing the penalty for ‘honour killing’ to at least two years in prison, Minister of Justice Minister Ahmad Hamoud Younes said in a statement Thursday.
‘The number of wife-killings has increased recently on the pretext of adultery, and the article that was abolished by the President pardoned these crimes,’ the official SANA news agency quoted Younes as saying.
The new law reads: ‘He who catches his wife, sister, daughter or mother by surprise in the act of committing adultery or having unlawful sex with another and then unintentionally kills or hurts either of them can benefit from attenuating circumstances, provided that he serves a prison term of no less than two years in the case of killing.’
Women rights groups welcomed the change with reservations.
‘This is only a small contribution to solving this problem, for in this new version too the paragraph still invites murder,’ said Women of Syria group in a statement on its website.
‘The new law still leaves a wide door open for the killers. Who gave men the right to kill women?’ the statement added.
Last May a Syrian court sentenced a man who deliberately killed his sister and her lover to only only seven and a half years in prison, as the case was considered an ‘honour killing.’
Hussein Pointed to Iranian Threat
(By Glenn Kessler, The Washington Post)
Saddam Hussein told an FBI interviewer before he was hanged that he allowed the world to believe he had weapons of mass destruction because he was worried about appearing weak to Iran, according to declassified accounts of the interviews released yesterday. The former Iraqi president also denounced…
The former Iraqi president also denounced Osama bin Laden as “a zealot” and said he had no dealings with al-Qaeda. …
At one point, Hussein dismissed as a fantasy the many intelligence reports that said he used a body double to elude assassination. “This is movie magic, not reality,” he said with a laugh. Instead, he said, he had used a phone only twice since 1990 and rarely slept in the same location two days in a row.
Hussein’s fear of Iran, which he said he considered a greater threat than the United States, featured prominently in the discussion about weapons of mass destruction. Iran and Iraq had fought a grinding eight-year war in the 1980s, and Hussein said he was convinced that Iran was trying to annex southern Iraq — which is largely Shiite. “Hussein viewed the other countries in the Middle East as weak and could not defend themselves or Iraq from an attack from Iran,” Piro recounted in his summary of a June 11, 2004, conversation.
“The threat from Iran was the major factor as to why he did not allow the return of UN inspectors,” Piro wrote. “Hussein stated he was more concerned about Iran discovering Iraq’s weaknesses and vulnerabilities than the repercussions of the United States for his refusal to allow UN inspectors back into Iraq.”
Hussein noted that Iran’s weapons capabilities had increased dramatically while Iraq’s weapons “had been eliminated by the UN sanctions,”…
When Piro noted that there were reasons why Hussein and al-Qaeda should have cooperated — they had the same enemies in the United States and Saudi Arabia — Hussein replied that the United States was not Iraq’s enemy, and that he simply opposed its policies.
IAEA Chooses Japanese as New Head
2009-07-02 15:17:14.258 GMT
VIENNA (AP) — By GEORGE JAHN, Associated Press Writer George Jahn, Associated Press Writer – Thu Jul 2, 1:12 pm ET
VIENNA – The world’s top nuclear watchdog chose Japan’s Yukiya Amano as its next head on Thursday — and he touched on the devastation U.S. atom bombs wreaked on his country in pledging to do his utmost to prevent the spread of nuclear arms.
The decision by the 35-nation International Atomic Energy Agency board ended a tug of war on who should succeed Nobel Peace laureate Mohamed ElBaradei, who saw his agency vaulted into prominence during a high-profile 12-year tenure.
North Korea left the nonproliferation fold to develop a nuclear weapons program on ElBaradei’s watch and his agency later launched inconclusive probes on suspicions that those to nations were interested in developing nuclear weapons.
ElBaradei’s activist approach to his job often rankled with Washington — and it had a strong preference for Amano, seen by the U.S. as a technocrat amenable to pursuing a hard line on Iran’s nuclear ambitions.
Amano’s allusions to the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki pointed to a deep commitment to non-proliferation. And Japan, which is separated from North Korea only by a narrow body of water, keenly shares the United States’ concerns about Pyongyang’s nuclear program.
Iran, Syria push economic ties
July 2, 2009
DAMASCUS, Syria, July 2 (UPI) — Syria and Iran wrapped up meetings in Damascus to move forward with plans to develop bilateral economic ties further, officials say.
Engineering companies active in Syria have set up 11 different economic projects that have generated more than $1.3 billion in the decade since they were established.
Trade between both countries, meanwhile, stands at $350 million per year.
Mohammad Saeidikia, the Iranian housing and urban development minister, met with Syrian Trade Minister Amer Husni Lutfi for two days in Damascus to further develop those economic trends, the Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting agency reports.
Saeidikia called for expansion in bilateral trade and pushed for stronger regional relations, including the establishment of free-trade agreements between Syria, Iran, Iraq and Turkey.
Damascus recently announced the opening of a rail-traffic line from Syrian ports on the Mediterranean to Basra on the Persian Gulf as part of a broader Syrian effort to increase its regional trade performance.
Growing Gulf Between U.S. And Israeli Jews on Obama
Daily News Article by Nathan Jeffay
The Jewish Daily Forward – July 2, 2009 – 12:00am
He swept to power with the support of 78% of American Jews. But has Barack Obama become the bane of Israeli Jews? A gulf between American and Israeli Jews was evident even before Obama moved into the White House. Just a third of Israelis would have endorsed him had they been allowed to vote, polling indicated, while almost half would have chosen John McCain.
Some See Extended Olive Branch For Israel In Ross Appointment to NSC
Daily News Article by Nathan Guttman
The Jewish Daily Forward – July 2, 2009 – 12:00am
The promotion of Middle East adviser Dennis Ross to a senior White House position may open the door to a more positive tone by the United States toward the Israeli government, experts believe.
Amnesty says Israel ‘wantonly’ destroyed Gaza
Daily News Article
The National – July 2, 2009 – 12:00am
Amnesty International said today that Israel inflicted “wanton destruction” in the Gaza Strip in attacks that often targeted Palestinian civilians during an offensive in December and January in the Hamas-run enclave. The London-based rights group, in a 117-page report on the 22 days of fighting, also criticised movement Hamas for rocket attacks on Israel, which it called “war crimes”.