Syria Myths – the two-faced arson.

The following Chicago Tribune editorial, copied below, is pretty standard gruel these days. Everyone’s got to hate Syria and demonstrate what a bad government it is. Of course they add the obligatory stuff about how weak and scared Bashar is. Plus, how Bashar is two faced, claiming he wants peace with Israel and then suggesting that if he doesn’t get it, he will go back to war. Then it is on to confirming that Syria is a “troublemaker” and “spoiler.” This is all expressed in a tone of gravitas and jaundiced sorrow. Syria is the arson who wants to play fireman and help put out the flames of the trouble it has started. This is the phrase that Bernard Lewis loved to use about Syria at Princeton in the 1980s. Today, the simile is often attributed to Michael Doran, Lewis’ research assistant then and member of the National Security Council today. Only after demonstrating how wise they are in the ways of Araby and in reading the skullduggeries and camel trading ways of Arab leaders, does the editorial writer drop his little bomb by suggesting: “Let’s talk to Syria. It could be important.” 

I suppose Syria should be thankful for this imperial graciousness and kind condescension.

I love lines like the “arson-wanting-to-play-fireman.” As if this actually says something about the nature of diplomacy. Every power does this in pushing its objectives. Has not the US perfected the arson as fireman role? Let’s see – why not set Iraq on fire, threatening the stability of the entire Middle East, and then demand the world’s indulgence as we struggle to put it out. We can ask for the world’s help in tamping down the flames – or else extremism will set the whole region on flames.  

Or – Let’s light a fire under Lebanon, make sure the UN cannot call for a ceasefire until the flames are really large, then swoop in and offer resolution 1701. We can call it birth pains of a new Middle East. “Destruction is creation,” I think some European dictator once explained. That seems to be the mantra of the Bush crowd – creative chaos. They have reached the acme of arson – arson Wallas supreme.  

As for the “two-faced” charge. Doesn’t everyone want peace and threaten war if they don’t get it? We want peace with Iran, but threaten to blow it up if it doesn’t stop developing nuclear refineries. Israel wants peace with the Palestinians, but will kill them if they demand too much land. Syria wants peace with Israel but threatens to go to war to get the Golan back if Israel won’t accept land for peace. We want Pakistan on our side during the invasion of Afghanistan, but threaten to go to war against it if it isn’t. What is strange or two-faced about this? It is normal operating procedure. The US would never make a demand without a creditable threat to back it up. If it didn’t, the world would laugh at it. When Western powers do this, it is not two-faced, but good foreign policy. To carry a carrot in one hand and a stick in the other is correct behavior. Americans should be the last people to tisk-tisk over such tactics.

As for fear of the Hariri murder investigation isolating Syria further. It doesn’t seem like anyone expects this to actually be the case. Today the members of European Parliament’s Foreign Affairs Committee vote 34 to 1 to strengthen cooperation with Damascus and support signing the long-stalled association agreement with Damascus. It doesn’t sound to me like the EU members believe the UN investigation is going to come up with any surprising goods to embarrass them as they renew relations with Syria. In the same vein, Israel and the US would not have been so keen on war against Hizbullah to take down the Syria-Shiite duo had Washington believed that the Asad regime or Hizbullah could be nailed by the UN inquiry. Europe, Israel and the States know that the Hariri investigation is going nowhere and will not be the instrument of Asad’s ruin, as many wish it to be.

As for skullduggery, Syria is refreshingly honest and straightforward about its lack of freedoms and distasteful dictatorship.  It is true that the red-lines of dissent are lower in Syria than in most other Arab dictatorships and monarchies. It is also true that many Syrians would prefer to enjoy more ambiguous redlines, such as exist in Egypt. But much of this is a game, a game that leads to Egypt arresting a larger number of prisoners of conscience – roughly 20,000 being held in Egyptian jails at last count. Syria holds 500 to 1000. The larger political prisoner rate in Egypt is due to the larger ambiguities and skullduggery. Pretend to promote democracy, but then arrest gobs of people when they actually take the government at its word and act on the false promises. Few people risk dissent in Syria, because the government is not two-faced. It tells citizens they will go to jail. It is depressingly honest and one-faced.

If one wants to insult Syria, at least do it correctly and for things Syria is guilty of. Certainly there are plenty. Here is most of the editorial:

 

Is Syria looking to deal?
Published October 6, 2006 
Chicago Tribune, Editorial

 

Syrian President Bashar Assad has been crowing lately, proclaiming the stirring “victory” of Hezbollah against Israel in Lebanon. But he’s also probably sweating. The UN probe of the assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri is likely tightening the noose on Syria. A preliminary report last year said: “There is converging evidence pointing at both Lebanese and Syrian involvement in this terrorist act.” 

Investigators are still pursuing the identities of the suspects. They’re pursuing so hard, in fact, that the chief investigator narrowly escaped a remote control bomb attack last month. Think Assad and the Syrians aren’t worried?  Last week, Assad tried to change the subject. He talked about peace with Israel. He rejected Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s proclamation that Israel should be “wiped off the map.” “We want to make peace–peace with Israel,” Assad told the German magazine Der Spiegel.   Really?

Assad has proven himself the master of the mixed message. He says he believes in making peace with Israel. But he also talks of a “new Middle East” in which Israel’s “weapons, warplanes, rockets and even your atomic bombs will not protect you in the future.”    

During the Israeli-Hezbollah war, there were suggestions that U.S. diplomacy should focus as much on Syria as its ally, Iran, both of which cooperate to supply arms to Hezbollah. Until its forces were tossed out, after Hariri’s assassination, Syria essentially ran Lebanon. It still has enormous political influence–for good or ill.  The thinking was that if Syria could be nudged from Iran’s orbit, if it could be persuaded to stop allowing weapons shipments to Hezbollah, to toss out the terrorist groups that make Damascus their headquarters, to stop the flow of foreign fighters into Iraq, then there could be a dramatic opportunity to reshape the Middle East, potentially as significant as Israel’s peace with Egypt decades ago. That’s a lot of huge “ifs.”

Here’s another: What if high-level Syrian officials are named in the UN’s probe of Hariri’s assassination? An international tribunal will likely be created in Lebanon to bring them to trial, further isolating Syria as a rogue state and quashing hopes of fresh negotiations…. 

With talks on Iran’s nuclear program stalemated, with the Europeans slowly backing away from any tough sanctions, with Russia and China apparently content to let the clock expire and allow Iran to join the nuclear club, the U.S. needs new options. Many Arab countries are also increasingly desperate to blunt Iran’s growing power. Peeling Syria away from Iran would be a huge coup. It’s still the longest of long shots, but it’s worth another look.  

Comments (21)


1. ausamaa said:

What else did anyone expect? Apart from an honest and a sincere attempt to solve the area’s problems in a Just and Peacefull manner in line with the true international leagality as expressed in UNSC 194, 224 and 338.

When you are concieved as being weak, every one either neglects you, try to use you, or threatens you with “regime change”, or try to coerce you int “policy Change”. Especially, when your Agenda, clear and consistant over more years, runs in direct confflict with theirs (by the way, the “YOU” is not in reference to Syria alone. It is in reference to all who shared Nassrallah’s gift, and Syria comes at the top needless to say)

So, you are black-listed, you are labeled as a terrorist state, you are threatend with sanctions, and you become a pariah state. Fine. What options do you then have. You try to say I am not, and you try to cooperate with them -fully aware of the double game they are playing-, and you do your best to prove to them and to others that you are not what they claim that you are, only to discover, that you have become a target yourself. That you really are thier “Next Step”. No matter what you try to do.Not Enought; they will keep saying. They want you on your knees. Flat out. So? What do you do? You assess your position, convince yourself that you are a target, you go up to the poduim. and you tell them, and everyone else, that you have had enough, and tell them to shove, or to come and get if they are serious about it. In other words, you tell them to go to hell. And you make sure they know that you mean it. Your burn your bridges with them, so no one is inclined to missunderstand your position. And You keep saying no untill whole nations wakes up and until the half men swallow their bride and see your point.

And what do they do. First the repeate the same claims and it gets them no where. Then they give it a couple of low key tries to test your will, resolve and to test the cohessievness of your society, army and friends even. Nothing happens. They push a little further using thier own good, but useless, friends. Still, you do not budge.
Teach him a lesson, they decide. And they hit you with all thier might, but they not only fail, and not only drag thier allies alongside then into deafeat, shame and confusion, but they actually discover that they have strenghthened you and provided you with more popular support and moral ammo. Morover, start realising that you could actually bite, not only bark. And they discover that the your beloved and caring brothers are switching thier thoughts from supporting “your containment” to fearing yor “adventures”. So, what do they do next. You have guessed it. True to thier nature, they continue being blind to the facts on the ground, they lead themselves into thinking that a Syria/Iran relationship is “the cause” of thier misery. Not Israel. Not the bloodshed they caused in Iraq through plain stupidity, greed and ignorance. Not the revival of Pan Arabisem theie aggression have “miracle-like” manmaged to achieve in a record 33 days through thier defeat in Lebanon (not to mention the Pan-Islamism they have managed to ressurect during thier six year long infamous crussade against terror). And you discover that their brilliance now takes another twist: Consider Talking to Syria!!!! Not to solve problems. Not to right wrongs, and not to build a mutually-benificial and an areawide strive towards peace. NO. Only to break the Syria/Iran coalition. To lure Syria out of its three-decade alliance with Iran, thinking that such a move “would” solve their chronic headach. As if the political leadership in Iran and Syria are static, ignorant, stupid, uncaculating, and naieve entities that can be counted on to fall for such “brilliant” strategies. A fools errand, but what can you do. This is how they think. Till now at least.

I hope they go that way. Gives your more breathing space, and maybe cooler heads would be in place by then. And there could be possibility that the current US Administration may be really opting for “promoting such an approach” both as a matter of necessity, as much as a cover up, or a face saving formula/execuse for reinitiating talking to Syria and even Iran after discovering that NOT talking to them was a bad and an unaffordable idea after all.

Which is it…???? Our guess is as good as DC’s….

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October 8th, 2006, 1:14 am

 

2. Akbar Palace said:

Professor Landis whines:

“Every power does this in pushing its objectives. Has not the US perfected the arson as fireman role? Let’s see – why not set Iraq on fire, threatening the stability of the entire Middle East, and then demand the world’s indulgence as we struggle to put it out.”

Sorry Dr. Landis, the “fire” in Iraq was Sadam. Now the fire is Islamic fundamentalism. And yes, the fireman is the United States. She took that role after 9-11. France and the UK are trying to put out their “fires” as well.

Dr. Landis attempts a moral equivalence:

“Doesn’t everyone want peace and threaten war if they don’t get it?”

No. Iran doesn’t want peace. Actually they want to “wipe Israel off the map”. Syria wants peace?
Really? Then what was the problem before 1967?

Lebanon wants peace? With who? Certainly not Israel. They prefer “peacniks” like their beloved Hezbollah.

And the Palestinians? What peace do they want?

C’mon Dr. Landis, tell us some more tall tales. You need to do a better job convincing us that the Arab world is so replete “peace”.

LOL.

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October 8th, 2006, 5:02 am

 

3. ivanka said:

The author of this article seems to have read a few articles by people who know a bit more than him on Syria. He then took some information and opinions from each article, mixed them up and added a small racist touch to the whole piece. Voila, un article. You can’t blame him, they have a lot of pages to fill and American people don’t know much about the subject anyway, so noone wil notice.

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October 8th, 2006, 6:13 am

 

4. Idaf said:

Interesting Josh,
Confirming your analysis, it seems that more and more people/states are convinced that Syria had nothing to do with the Hariri murder. Other than the EU states who decided that the Hariri investigation will have nothing with Syria and decided to follow a “business as usual” route with it, the Arabs are doing the same Bashar will be in Egypt on Tuesday, I think another visit to Saudi is in the making, as Syria’s ally, the Lebanese speaker Nabih Berri is meeting the Saud King (I am sure that such visit would be discussed). If so then Assad had either won the war of words with the Arab regimes or Condi ordered her cronies, the “moderate Arab regimes” to “talk to Syria” on her behalf. Even most of the Lebanese Sunnis seem to have decided that Syria might have had nothing to do with the Hariri murder. In a poll conducted in Lebanon after the war by Information International, a majority of Lebanese Sunnis have said that now they are less convinced that Syria killed Hariri (compared to an overwhelming majority who used to believe that Syria did it in earlier poll by the same company on March 2005). A larger percentage believe that Israel did it according to the poll.

In a separate note, this is a very interesting article on “Political Conversion to Shiism in Syria” from the Washington Post.. I know a lot of those Sunnis who have “politically converted” to Shiism. It is a breath of fresh air to see that despite all the sectarian chaos in the region, Syria is maintaining (and expanding) its historical religious tolerance. This is really impressive given the sectarian rhetoric by the US and the “moderate Arabs” in the region.

Also, Bashar’s interview in the Kuwaiti newspaper Al-Anbaa’ yesterday is making waves in Lebanon and the Arab world. He called for a revival of the Syria-Egypt-Saudi axis as a leading front in the Arab world.

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October 8th, 2006, 8:21 am

 

5. Alex said:

Joshua,

That was the perfect list of all the tracks on their broken record for Syria. I will forward it to everyone I know.

It all started after the 1973 war. Kissinger realized that Hafez was not goping to rush into a peace treaty. Sadat, on the other hand, seemed like a more ready “partner for peace”. He was more eager to be welcomed on the world stage… something that only the U.S. can allow. Hafez on the other hand made it clear to Kissinger that he does not give a damn about those kinds of gifts. He had clear vision to the only road to a durable peace … a comprehensive settlement to all issues.

So the Americnas decided to concentrate on Sadat. They believed that after they isolate Hafez with the Egyptian Israeli settlement, Hafez will realize that he is now too weak to insist on his post 1973 war positions.

That’s when the never ending confrontation between Syria and the U.S. started.

We have had this broken record of official U.S. position on Syria since the Camp David accords.

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October 8th, 2006, 4:59 pm

 

6. Zenobia Safia said:

Nice analysis Joshua.
Always great to diagram the overwhelming hypocricy of the western condemnation and criticisms of Syria and anyone who isn’t given american blessings.
You should submit your rebuttal to the Chicago Tribune..seriously….

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October 8th, 2006, 7:41 pm

 

7. Alex said:

Here is one from Haaretz, in case Joshua felt he was too blunt.

The Mystery of America

By Gideon Levy

It happens once every few months. Like a periodic visit by an especially annoying relative from overseas, Condoleezza Rice was here again. The same declarations, the same texts devoid of content, the same sycophancy, the same official aircraft heading back to where it came from. The results were also the same: Israel promised in December, after a stormy night of discussions, to open the “safe passage” between the Gaza Strip and the West Bank. This time, in what was considered the “achievement” of the current visit, Israel also promised to open the Karni crossing. Karni will be open, one can assume, only slightly more than the “safe passage,” which never opened following the previous futile visit.

Rice has been here six times in the course of a year and a half, and what has come of it? Has anyone asked her about this? Does she ask herself?

It is hard to understand how the secretary of state allows herself to be so humiliated. It is even harder to understand how the superpower she represents allows itself to act in such a hollow and useless way. The mystery of America remains unsolved: How is it that the United States is doing nothing to advance a solution to the most dangerous and lengthiest conflict in our world? How is it that the world’s only superpower, which has the power to quickly facilitate a solution, does not lift a finger to promote it?

What happened since 1956, when the U.S. made Israel withdraw from Sinai overnight with a single telephone call, immediately after the “Third Kingdom of Israel” speech by the strongest Israeli leader of all times, David Ben-Gurion? Now, as the occupation continues for years, with a government no less dependent on the good graces of the U.S. than in the past, why is America a bystander?

Countless trips by presidents and secretaries of state, peace initiatives and peace plans aplenty, from the Roger’s Plan to the Road Map, via “reassessment,” fruitless talks and flowery declarations, pressure and promises, discussions and decisions – and nothing has happened. And in the background, a fundamental question echoes, without a response: Is America at all interested in bringing about a solution in the Middle East? Is it possible that it does not understand how crucial it is to end the conflict?

As things appear, America can and does not want to. No government in Israel, and surely not the most recent ones, which are terrified of the American administration, would stand up to a firm American demand to bring the occupation to an end. But there has never been an American president who wanted to put an end to the occupation. Does America not understand that without ending the occupation there will be no peace? Peace in the region would deliver a greater blow to world terrorism than any war America has pursued, in Iraq or Afghanistan. Does America not understand this? Can all this be attributed to the omnipotent Jewish lobby, which causes Israel more harm than good?

The declared aim of U.S. policy in the Middle East is to bring democracy to the region. For this reason, ostensibly, the U.S. also went to war in Iraq. Even if one ignores the hypocrisy, self-righteousness and double-standard of the Bush administration, which supports quite a few despotic regimes, one should ask the great seeker of democracy: Have your eyes failed to see that the most undemocratic and brutal regime in the region is the Israeli occupation in the territories? And how does the White House reconcile the contradiction between the aspiration to instill democracy in the peoples of the region and the boycott of the Hamas government, which was chosen in democratic elections as America wanted and preached?

The U.S. also speaks loftily about peace. At the same time, its president warns Israel against any attempt to forge peace with Syria. Here America is taking a stance that not only fails to advance an accord but even undermines it. Ever since it began to give Israel a free hand to impose the brutal occupation in the territories, it has become a party that bequeaths undemocratic values to the entire world. Where are the days when there was still concern in Jerusalem about the U.S. reaction before each military operation? Israel then thought twice before every liquidation and each arrest. Every demolition of a Palestinian home and each nocturnal groundbreaking of a settlement raised fears about how Uncle Sam would react. And now – carte blanche. There is a blank check for every belligerent action by Israel. Should this also be called an effort for peace, for democracy?

The recent years have not been good for America. From “the leader of the free world,” it has become detested by the world. Not only do South Africa, Asia and Africa feel strong animosity toward it, most of the public opinion in Europe has also turned away from it. Is anyone in the administration asking why the world loves so much to hate America? And what implications will this growing global feeling have on the strength of the U.S. in the years ahead? Can the dollar, the Tomahawk and the F-16 provide an answer for everything?

In the Middle East, the U.S. has an opportunity to fundamentally change its image, from a warmonger to a peacemaker. And how does the U.S. respond to the challenge? It sends Rice to tell the excited Ehud Olmert how she falls asleep easily on her unnecessary and ridiculous flights to and from the Middle East.

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October 8th, 2006, 10:07 pm

 

8. norman said:

I am not a church going fanatic but i know that president Bush is ,I do not beleive in Armagodon but i think he does,His policy in the Midleast seems to be moving the area toward Armagodon and the destruction of Israel and other minorities to brng about the Messaia and what is sad that the Israeli leaders who are known to be forsighted are coward in not refusing the Bush policy ,peace between Israel and the Arab countries led by Syria Lebanon /Hizballa and the Palestinian/Hamas is the only way to prevent extreemists who are on the way to power if there is no setlment ,God help the midleast , I wish the big powers will leave the midleast to solve their own problems ,I am not holging my breath.

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October 8th, 2006, 11:33 pm

 

9. ugarit said:

Akbar Palace said: (October 8th, 2006, 5:02 am / #)

“Doesn’t everyone want peace and threaten war if they don’t get it?”

No. Iran doesn’t want peace. Actually they want to “wipe Israel off the map”. Syria wants peace?
Really? Then what was the problem before 1967?

Ugarit replies: Iran wants regime change in Israel. Syria offered peace to Israel in 1949 and Israel refused. Israel was and still is more interested in grabbing more land from the native population of Palestine.

And the Palestinians? What peace do they want?

Ugarit said: With Israel dah! But Israel is not interested. They’re still in the colonialist mode.

Please educate your self with facts and don’t buy into the propaganda.

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October 9th, 2006, 12:24 am

 

10. Trojan Horse said:

Maybe many people over here forgot that Mr. Brammertz is conducting his investigations in Syria, and he is asking for Syrian cooperation, which seems satisfactory so far.

Accordingly how could some people exclude Syria’s involvement in some way or another in Hariri’s murder?

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October 9th, 2006, 8:24 am

 

11. ausamaa said:

NORMAN,

President Bush may be a believer in ARMAGODON and is actively working on bringing it about ASAP. However, my reading of him now tells me that his faith seems to be wanning after he realised what Armagodon may look like if Iraq and Afghanistan are to be considered as mini-examples of it.

The Israelies on the other side are having the time of their lives recovering from their own mini Armagodon in South Lebanon (with the possibility of a repeat in Gaza, the West Bank and maybe Syria to follow). And do not you worry too much. A scan of articles in the Israeli press indicate that many Israelies are now seriously questioning the benifit and the validity of being the US’s cat’s claw in the area, especially after having needlessly paid the steep price for their last US “assignment” in Lebanon, and after they digested the true implications of the fine print of their Strategic Alliance/Servitude agreement with the US. That why they are all of a sudden talking about the need for Peace with niegbours; against the US Administration’s wishes.

Actually, things are starting to look a little better these days.. have hope. President Bush may have to toy a bit with the North Korean Bomb and that will distract him a little from his the Middle East. Temporarily at least.

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October 9th, 2006, 8:28 am

 

12. ivanka said:

Aussama and Norman. This is an interesting but very difficult way of trying to understand how the US and Israel will act : Analysing Bush’s psychology. A lot of guesses can be made, so this is probably not the best way to understand the US agenda in the followig months.

I think Bush does not accept failure. So if he is still determined to destabilize the middle east he will, even if he has to do it himself, through a military strike or a war.

On the other hand, some people even say that Bush decides nothing and that people like Cheney and Rice are the ones who make decisions for him.

From the point of view of US interests I think an Israel-Syria war will be the worst thing to ever ever happen to their interests in the middle east. A war between Syria and Israel will lead to one of three things :

-overthrow of the government in Syria. This will mean a long period of chaos during which there will certainly be guerilla operations in the Golan.

-Occupation of a bigger part of Syria. In this case a resistance movement will be created. Probably very well armed and trained. Like all occupations, this will end very bad.

-Syria could succeed in preventing Israel from achieving what it wants in this war. Like Hezballa did. In that case, it is also bad.

Israel interests in the Golan call for a statue quo. The longer they keep the Golan calm the higher their chances of keeping it forever. American interests say no war also. However, Bush stupidity might say : War.

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October 9th, 2006, 12:04 pm

 

13. ausamaa said:

IVANKA

You are most probably right. But if Mighty Israel could not uproot Hizbullah, then, I honestly do not believe that Israel can be able to do defeat Syria. It would cause a lot of destruction, and it would suffer a lot of destruction too. Like the old saying: If you have the enemy in range, so does he. And I do not think that Israel has an apetite for “occupying” more Arab lands, if it could, that is. And I belive, that the Israeli Myth has been irreperably damaged in Syrian and Arab eyes, as has the US myth in Iraq. Hence, a WAR against Syria would not be a picnic. And as far as we can see, nor is a regime change in Syria a possibility. So I am not really worried from that point of view.
As to Bush, yes he can still do a lot of dammage if he chooses to, but so could have President Jhonson before him in Vietnam, and so could Carter have done in Somalia and Iran. That is the limits of Power. There is a time when the US realises that the more damage it causes others, the more suffering it brings upon itself and its interests.

Bush saying WAR? I really doubt it. Had he really wanted war against Syria even, he could have ordered Israel to do it during the Lebanese Fiasco. And He did not. So forget about him crying WAR against Iran, or N. Korea. I just envision him now trying to get out of the SNAFU he got himself into with the least possible dammage. Surgical Strikes to save face at the most but not much more. Stupid or Not.Real new Wars??? Nah, I do not think that the current establishment in the US is near that point, nor are a lot of “influential” powers in DC. They are not ALL total idiots or blind order-followers after all.

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October 9th, 2006, 1:14 pm

 

14. t_desco said:

Syrian leader courts Israel talks

Syria is prepared to hold talks with Israel and wants a peaceful solution to the Middle East conflict, President Bashar al-Assad has said.

In an interview with the BBC’s John Simpson, President Assad said Syria and Israel could live side-by-side in peace accepting each other’s existence.

However, he said “we do not know whether this [Israeli] government is strong enough to move towards peace”.

He also said support from Washington was integral to any peace deal.

The current US administration has said Syria is a member of what it has called an axis of evil. Washington has also accused Syria of backing Hezbollah in Lebanon, an organisation it views as a terrorist group.

Following the repercussions of the US-led invasion of Afghanistan and Iraq, Mr Assad said officials in the West had accused Syria of supporting terrorism to try to make it “a scapegoat” and to “absolve themselves from any responsibility”.

The Syrian leader condemned attacks in Iraq against “civilians and innocents” but said that “resistance is the right of the people”.

“The insurgency is against the law – we don’t support it. Resistance we adopt as a concept, that does not mean we support it with money or armaments,” President Assad said.
BBC News

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October 9th, 2006, 1:15 pm

 

15. ausamaa said:

Ivanka,

Just an additional small note and forgive me for bringing it up, although I mean well.
I do not know where you live, which affects how you judge things of course. But from where I am, here in the Gulf, things look a lot different to us than how you see them in the US or even in Europe. Here, we can see, and feel both sides, in a manner of speaking. If you live in the States, you see a mostly highly distorted lopsided view despite your best attempts to expand your reach and “feel” for what is taking place here.
And from we are, things do not look that bad.

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October 9th, 2006, 1:34 pm

 

16. Ehsani2 said:

The NY Times has an article this morning describing how James Baker has strongly suggested that the White House enter direct talks with countries it had so far kept at arm’s length, including Iran and Syria. “I believe in talking to your enemies” he also said in his interview ABC on Sunday Morning.

The NYT further suggests that Mr. Baker (a Bush family loyalist) would not have said this without the prior tacit approval of the President.

In my opinion, this is significant news. It could well be the first concrete signs of a deal in the making.

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October 9th, 2006, 1:56 pm

 

17. t_desco said:

Simpson’s World

Monday 9th October at 1830 GMT
Repeated Monday @ 2330 GMT and Tuesday 10th October @ 0730 GMT
In a special edition of Simpson’s World, John Simpson meets with the tenth President of Syria, Bashar al-Assad.
BBC World

I see that the article quoted above has been edited:

Syria: US lacks Mid-East vision

President Assad accused the West of making Syria a “scapegoat”
Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has said the United States does not have “the will or vision” to pursue peace in the Middle East.
BBC News

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October 9th, 2006, 2:47 pm

 

18. ugarit said:

If Bush attempts to talk to Iran and possibly Syria the Zionist elements in the US will push for his impeachment because of Iraq.

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October 9th, 2006, 2:49 pm

 

19. Akbar Palace said:

“Ugarit replies: Iran wants regime change in Israel.”

Really? State where anyone high up in the Iranian government stated they recognize the State of Israel, but only seeks to conduct “regime change”? I recall several time the Islamo-fascist Iranian president called for something more “permanent” 😉

“Syria offered peace to Israel in 1949 and Israel refused.”

Again, despite your hyper-active imagination, I recollect Syria attacking Israel in 1948.

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

And didn’t Syria vote for “The 3 Nos” after the ’67 war? And weren’t they shelling Israel prior to the ’67 war?

“Israel was and still is more interested in grabbing more land from the native population of Palestine.”

Dear Ugarit, if that’s so, how do explain the withdraw from Lebanon (again), Gaza, and large pearts of the West Bank?

“Ugarit said: With Israel dah! But Israel is not interested. They’re still in the colonialist mode.”

We know, it is always the evil Zionists fault! Obviously, you’ve been reading too many of Professor Landis’ articles;)

“Please educate your self with facts and don’t buy into the propaganda.”

I do, but that doesn’t seem to matter!

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October 9th, 2006, 4:04 pm

 

20. ivanka said:

Aussama I live in France.

I am very convinced by your answer to my comment. In fact, thank you for the good historical analogies.

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October 10th, 2006, 3:06 pm

 

21. Akbar Palace said:

Dear Professor Landis, Ugarit, et al:

How many rejections does one need to come to the conclusion that peace is the furthest thing from Assad’s mind?*

http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/773882.html

*Your silly Arabist propaganda notwithstanding…

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October 12th, 2006, 3:58 pm

 

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