Scholarly Articles; Bolton; First Lady on Democracy

A few recent scholarly articles of interest on Syria are:

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 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 Abu Bakr (reigned 632–4), lhringUmar (634–44), lhringUthman (644–56) and lhringAli (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”.

Comments (106)

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101. jad said:

I too was very close to the Cinema industry and I agree with you on the political part that authorities gets involved in that, I wasn’t saying that they didn’t, what I said is that Ikhwan has a big influence in killing the cinema with their terrorist attacks not only the ‘dictator’ as you wrote.
Those are my words: WHY CINEMA AND THEATRE GOT DEAD SUDDENLY, not about ARTS NEED FREEDOM TO FLOURISH because nobody can deny that and I totally agree with this as fact too.

I also agree with you on the ugly Rifaat legacy and his role in deteriorating the situation more by letting his army to attack the civil society in the savage way they did.

You wrote(I’m disappointed from you to load the blame on one incident took couples of years) the Ikhwan terrorizing the whole community wasn’t a one incident that took only couple years it is a HUGE attack that effect our past, present and future. It didn’t just start from Almadfa3ye massacre followed by Tadmour massacre and it didn’t end with Alazbakiya massacre and Hama massacre because years after those terrible incidents the MB were used by Saddam to continue their bombing where they attack Buses, Trains and station on one bloody day, so an educated gentleman like you to accuse me of defending a tyrant without acknowledging the MB factor in what we end up with is equally disappointing..

No need to get disappointed or emotional toward my comments we are analyzing facts and any incident count and we should be more neutral to judge otherwise if you toke one side and I took the other in analyzing on issue like CINEMA we will never get any result, so for me to say that I don’t fully blame the government for the Cinema death doesn’t mean in anyway that I’m defending the government, it means that I’m adding another level of reality and credibility to get the whole picture instead of blaming one part for everything regardless of the situation surrounding that exact incident

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July 6th, 2009, 4:44 pm


102. trustquest said:

Jad, it is clear we are living in two different worlds and we have lived two different pasts. CINEMA and other venue of arts obstructed before MB incident, and it is a whole system started in the REVOLUTION continued with CORRECTION and continuing as a family business today. By the 80s it was established and finished in killing the Societal, arts, values and civil society at large on the hand of those despots and their defenders for mainly one major thing, criticizing stopped and all and surrender to big brother and his cronies.

You brought some memories of the last public discussion I had attended in Damascus; they were a group of very nice intelligent elites of Alawites attending that meeting. No one except that group dare to say a word to the speaker except that group, they went on exposing the system and its ugly face in the open, guess what, secret service there did not move a hand. That time I hope is gone and people are voicing their views and should be heard, respected and accepted as part of our diversity. Following any comment touch on the system, attack it and defending the despot at any cost, like we have angles in power without mistakes is not a good way to move the country forward. You are saying the regime did no wrong in killing thousands and that was a legitimate act as a government respond to the savagery of the MB. I differ and I tell you that I do not look at it this way, it is not an equal guilt, and it is not majority of people fault to bear the burden of that guilt for generation beyond that incident depriving them from freedom of expression and organizing and pushing leaders in prison for just thinking about talking. The lady president lie to foreign media saying that people of Syria criticize and complain, I would like to ask her what Fedaa Hourani is doing in prison, isn’t because she criticize and complain.

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July 7th, 2009, 4:37 am


103. jad said:

I agree that we live in two different worlds and two different pasts
I also want to repeat what I wrote in the beginning of this exchange because it seems that you are insisting of not listening; I’m not disagreeing with you, I was trying to add another dimension of reality to the whole Cinema issue but you are insisting of dismissing all the facts which is fine with me to.
However, I would’ve appreciate if you pointed out where did in my last comment wrote what you are accusing me of or at least your translation into your own language. Because in my comment I did not write that the government did nothing wrong, but the opposite, I point out what both sides did equally and without any judgment so for you to write: “You are saying the regime did no wrong in killing thousands and that was a legitimate act as a government respond to the savagery of the MB.” is incorrect. And it is unethical from your side to take the conversation into a different direction for no logical reason.
In anyway, and since I’m not living in the same world as yours and you are going in circles around the Ikhwan responsibility of anything wrong we had in the past in Syria, I think it’s better to end this exchange here with this funny clip from the spirit of our conversation, enjoy.

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July 7th, 2009, 6:21 am


104. trustquest said:

Jad, I was trying to say in the previous comment that both sides were equally morally collapsed until the regime kills people in prison, he lost it for ever. Although I did not laugh at those British jokes but I appreciate the jester of keeping a little pit of glue as small as it is, and it means a lot.

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July 7th, 2009, 2:29 pm


105. jad said:

The add is funny, thank you.
I believe that we have more in common than what you think and we don’t even need glue since nothing is broken at all, it was just looking at things from different angles and that is the main purpose of the whole exchange.
We have no choice but strengthening our common interests than concentrating on our differences if we really want to share the same Watan.
Have a nice day 🙂

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July 7th, 2009, 5:09 pm


106. norman said:

Syrians do not go to the movie theater because (( BAB AL HARA )) is on TV and Free and people can watch it in the night gowns .

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July 7th, 2009, 5:44 pm


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