Syria plays hardball with the Saudis, by Sami Moubayed

Posted by Alex

Syria plays hardball with the Saudis
By Sami Moubayed / Asia Times

DAMASCUS – In a further sign of just how low Syrian-Saudi Arabian relations have sunk, Syrian authorities have banned the distribution of al-Hayat, the Saudi-owned mass circulation Arab daily.

The step came nearly two years after al-Sharq al-Awsat, another Saudi daily, was banned from Syria for running articles that were considered critical of the Syrian government during the Israeli war in Lebanon in 2006.

Subsequently, the Syrians hailed Hezbollah in Lebanon as a resistance organization while the Saudis criticized it because of its links to Iran, claiming that Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah was an “adventurer”.

President Assad Greeted by Saudi guard at the 2007 Arab summit

President Assad Greeted by Saudi guard at the 2007 Arab summit

President Bashar al-Assad snapped back in a speech that those who had conspired against Hezbollah in the Arab world (in clear reference to Saudi Arabia) were “half-men”.

The cold war between Damascus and Riyadh continued between 2006-2008, over a variety of issues related to influence in Lebanon, Iraq and to a lesser extent, Palestine. The Syrians challenged Saudi Arabia by cementing their relationship with Iran, arguing that while the Iranians were supporting Syria’s positions with regard to its standoff with the United States, the Saudis were only adding insult to injury by applying pressure on Washington to keep the heat on Damascus and engaging in dirty intelligence tricks with the aim of destabilizing Syria.

Syria challenged the Saudis in Beirut – and won a military confrontation between Hezbollah and the Saudis’ Hariri bloc last May. Meanwhile, the Saudis started playing the dangerous game of turning a blind eye to jihadis wanting to wage war on Syria. While Saudi Arabia’s official policy remained critical of Syria, a certain branch in the Saudi royal family still harbored ambitions to topple the Syrian government altogether and replace it with pro-Saudi opposition figures like former vice president Abdul Halim Khaddam.

Tension was further elevated when terror struck in the heart of Damascus on September 27. A suicide bomber loaded with 200 kilograms of explosives killed 17 Syrians and injured between 15 to 40 civilians. Saudi Arabia was the only country in the Arab world that refused to condemn the attack, although it was harshly criticized by France, Russia and even the US.

The Saudi press continued to write negatively about Syria, explaining why the Syrians decided to ban the distribution of al-Hayat, the only surviving Saudi daily on Syrian newsstands. Coinciding with Syria’s decision came the resignation of Ibrahim Hamidi, the newspaper’s bureau chief and senior correspondent in Syria.

Hamidi, who had served as al-Hayat’s man in Damascus since the early 1990s, was quoted saying, “I couldn’t take it anymore. I terminated my work with al-Hayat because I cannot be a part of a newspaper that is engaged in a systematic campaign against Syria.”

Although it became clear to everybody – France being first on the list – that the Saudis were not getting the upper hand in Beirut politics, Lebanon remained closely allied to Riyadh, due to the personal and financial bond between Saad Hariri, the parliamentary majority leader, and the House of Saud.

One of the first to realize that the Syrians are overpowering the Saudis in Lebanon was Druze leader Walid Jumblatt, a strongman of the March 14 Coalition. He realized that the US-imposed isolation of Syria has crumbled, after Bashar Al Assad’s visit to Paris in July 2008. The Turks and the Qataris are firmly behind Syria in its indirect peace talks with Israel, a strong counterbalance to the Saudis, which might result in a peace treaty as of mid-2009. If that happens, the Hariri Tribunal (on which the Saudis had placed high hopes) will be consigned to history.

The US administration, wrapped in controversy in Iraq, is clearly uninterested in regime change in Syria, as was the case several years ago. Their ally, Abdul-Halim Khaddam, has by all accounts ruined himself by betting on the wrong horse in 2005. What’s worse, the Saudi-trained and funded March 14 forces were defeated on the streets of Beirut in May, when they tried to confront Hezbollah.

Within hours, Hezbollah rounded up all militiamen on the payroll of Saudi Arabia and forced the cabinet of Prime Minister Fouad al-Siniora to back down on legislation taken earlier against Hezbollah. It was clear: the US and Saudi Arabia lost the war for Beirut, and Syria and Iran won.

When fighting shifted to the Druze villages on Mount Lebanon, Hezbollah fighters encircled Jumblatt’s home – despite all the backing he had from the Saudis – but did not invade it. He got on the telephone with speaker Nabih Berri (who is pro-Syrian and strongly allied to Iran) and said, “Tell Sayed Hassan Nasrallah I lost the battle and he wins. So let’s sit and talk to reach a compromise.”

Last month, Jumblatt went further, accusing Hariri in the Beirut daily al-Akhbar of building a militia and allying himself with Islamic hardliners. Speaking about the arms of the Hariri team, Jumblatt said, “To form a militia today? To face whom? Hezbollah? This is crazy.”

More recently, what worried both the Saudis and Jumblatt was the semi-rapprochement that started developing between Syria and the US. Last month, Syrian Foreign Minister Walid Mouallem met with Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, at her request, and discussed a variety of issues related to the Middle East.

That was the second meeting between both ministers since May 2007. According to the Syrian minister, Rice showed willingness to support Syrian-Israeli peace, a u-turn in the American position, which until now, has been uninterested in the indirect talks taking place in Turkey.

This week, the Doha-based al-Jazeera news agency quoted American “sources” saying that they were reconsidering their policies towards Syria during what remains of the George W Bush administration. A “senior US official” was quoted repeating exactly that on Israeli radio, adding that this would lead to the lifting of sanctions imposed on Syria by the Bush administration since 2003.

The Syrians believe, although they have not said it bluntly, that the Saudis are furious at Syria’s repeated diplomatic successes. Eager for vengeance, they are now financing Islamic fundamentalism in Lebanon to strike at both Hezbollah and Syria and have not yet digested the outcomes of May 2008.

Assad said that the sectarian violence taking place in northern Lebanon was dangerous to Syria. Many believe that the suicide bomber who detonated a bomb in Damascus was a product of a fanatical group trained and created in Lebanon. That might explain why the Syrians amassed thousands of troops on their border with Lebanon, to prevent the influx of jihadi fighters to Syria.

If Saudi Arabia was not guilty of the September 27 attack, it certainly looked and acted guilty by refusing to say anything about it.

Meanwhile, the Saudis, frantic to save their positions in Lebanon, had already started pumping money to build a Sunni armed movement to confront Hezbollah if matters escalated once again. Earlier in May 2007, veteran US journalist Seymour Hersh claimed that they had co-created Fatah al-Islam, a fundamentalist group to fight the Shi’ites in Lebanon.

It grew out of control, just as the case with al-Qaeda (which was created with the aim of fighting the Soviets) and turned its arms against the Lebanese state, resulting in grinding battles in the Naher al-Bared refugee camp in northern Lebanon.

Earlier last year, the UN prosecutor in the Hariri affair, Serge Brammertz, noted that the suicide bomber who killed Rafik al-Hariri in February 2005 was neither Lebanese, nor Syrian. Rather, he came from a “hot district” which was believed by many to be a clear reference to one of the Gulf countries, possibly Saudi Arabia.

The bomber, according to Brammertz, had spent only about four months of his life in Lebanon and nearly 10 years in a “rural area”, possibly the mountains of Afghanistan. After all, hundreds of Saudis lived there when working with the United States to combat the Soviet invasion in the 1980s. That shed light once more on Saudi jihadis in Lebanon.

The Syrians realize just how dangerous it is for the Saudis to be flirting with radical fundamentalists, because this can set the entire region ablaze. After all, it has already been revealed (by a US source in the Los Angeles Times) that 45% of all foreign fighters in Iraq were coming from Saudi Arabia, 50% of them arriving in Baghdad, “ready-to-explode”.

Sami Askari, a senior advisor to Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki, confirmed the accusations, saying, “The fact of the matter is that Saudi Arabia has strong intelligence resources, and it would be hard to think that they are not aware of what is going on [in Iraq].”

Saudi journalist Faris bin Khuzam, writing for the Saudi daily al-Riyadh, put the number of Saudi jihadis in Lebanon operating from Naher al-Bared at 300. He claims they were “lured” into a battlefield “other than the one they wanted”, saying that they had plans to fight the Americans in Iraq, and ended up in Tripoli.

The reason, he explained, is tight security on the Syrian border (in addition to the Saudi border) preventing them from making a breakthrough into war-torn Iraq. Instead, they found their way into Lebanon and stayed for what initially seemed to be a temporary transit period. “Gradually the pendulum shifted,” Khuzam wrote, adding that “they were told that the road to Jerusalem runs through here [Naher al-Bared]”. He concluded, “They chose the Saudi dream that Osama bin Laden could not fulfill.”

When the battle of Naher al-Bared ended in 2007, it was revealed that 43 Saudi jihadis had been rounded up from Fatah al-Islam in Tripoli, while others could be found in the Ain al-Hilweh camp near Sidon. According to Hersh, “The idea [is] that the Saudis promised they could control the jihadis, so we [US] spent a lot of money and time … using and supporting the jihadis to help us beat the Russians in Afghanistan, and they turned on us. And we have the same pattern, not as if there’s any lessons learned. The same pattern, using the Saudis again to support jihadis.”

The Saudis, Hersh said, were telling the Americans, “It’s not that we don’t want the Salafis to throw bombs, it’s who they throw them at – Hezbollah, [Iraqi Shi’ite cleric] Muqtada al-Sadr and the Syrians, if they continue to work with Hezbollah and Iran.” In a famous CNN interview, Hersh added, “The enemy of our enemy is our friend, just as the jihadi groups in Lebanon were also there to go after [Hezbollah leader Hassan] Nasrallah. We’re in the business of creating in some places, Lebanon in particular, sectarian violence.”

Sami Moubayed is a Syrian political analyst.

(Copyright 2008 Asia Times Online


Lebanese Qifa Nabki masses 10,000 troops at Moubayed’s Syrian border!

Our own Qifa Nabki wrote a new blog post to express his disappointment in what he perceived as a departure from Sami’s usually moderate and balanced opinion pieces.

Here is it:

Sami Moubayed has a piece in Asia Times this week (“Syria plays hardball with the Saudis”), in which he compares the litany of victories registered by Syria to the string of Saudi defeats.

I usually like Sami Moubayed’s analyses, and I found much of what he said in this article to be true, apart from his account of the events of May 2008. He says:

…the Saudi-trained and funded March 14 forces were defeated on the streets of Beirut in May, when they tried to confront Hezbollah. Within hours, Hezbollah rounded up all militiamen on the payroll of Saudi Arabia and forced the cabinet of Prime Minister Fouad al-Siniora to back down on legislation taken earlier against Hezbollah. It was clear: the US and Saudi Arabia lost the war for Beirut, and Syria and Iran won.

I find it dismaying that someone who is generally good about dispensing with jingoism and delivering nuanced analysis is so incapable of doing so when it comes to the issue of Syria and Saudi Arabia’s struggle over Lebanon.

What happened in May 2008 was nothing so neat and tidy as a “war for Beirut”, fought between two sides, with a winner and a loser. Bandar may have had some wacko salafists on the payroll in Tripoli but this does not mean that March 14th was building up a huge militia with the goal of confronting Hizbullah in the streets of Beirut in a fight to the death. This is what propagandists would like people to believe. Journalists should be far more skeptical of such outlandish notions.

The propagandists want to be able to say: “March 14th wanted a war, but Hizbullah didn’t. However, when we couldn’t hold them off anymore, we gave it to them. We gave it to them, and we were victorious. But we were magnanimous in victory. We didn’t storm the Serail and assassinate Saniora. Others might have done that, you know.”

(Cue feelings of gratitude.)

It is not clear to me how historians will explain the events of May 7, 2008. However, they will certainly describe the backdrop: a country brought to an eighteen-month halt, economic paralysis, no president, a string of political assassinations, and immense social and sectarian tensions. They will talk about the labor strikes co-opted by Hizbullah in order to force the government into revoking its ill-fated decisions to dismantle the Hizb’s telephone network and to fire Wafiq Shouqeir. They will describe how the “peaceful demonstration” quickly got out of hand — as everyone knew it would – thereby providing an ideal pretext to take Beirut in a show of force and all but necessitate an international invention that would bring about the Doha Accord.

Did al-Mustaqbal have gun-wielding shabab on its payroll? Undoubtedly. Did they fight in the streets of Beirut? Yes. But was this a scene of Saudi-funded and Jordanian-trained commandoes leaping out from behind overturned cars to surprise the Hizbullah fighters who had so stupidly walked into their ambush? Hardly. More like a scene of glorified security guards with fancy toys being caught off guard by a disciplined, highly-coordinated, Iranian-trained, elite corps of battle-hardened soldiers who knew exactly what they were doing.

Syria “won” in Lebanon because it was willing to push the envelope as far as necessary. It was willing to play dirtier than the Saudis, the Americans, the French, and March 14th.  Now, according to Moubayed, the Saudis are playing dirty with Syria. As usual, he doesn’t explain why this is ok in Syria’s case but not in Saudi Arabia’s. Furthermore, why is it acceptable for one radical fundamentalist regime (Iran) to sponsor a militia on Lebanese soil but it’s not acceptable for another radical fundamentalist regime (KSA) to do so, even though al-Mustaqbal’s shabab hardly constituted a full-blown militia, much less an army? Why is it that Moubayed protests when the Saudis inflame Sunni-Shiite tensions through their support for takfiri salafists, but it’s acceptable for Syria and Iran to build up a Shiite militia whose leader has on several occasions ridiculed various companions of the Prophet, thereby inflaming the Sunni street?

I am of the school who wants to forget about May 2008 as quickly as possible, and leave it to the historians to decide “what really happened.” In the meantime, however, let’s at least try to put the propagandists out of business.

Comments (90)

Pages: « 1 [2] Show All

51. ugarit said:


Here’s the link to the article:

Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

October 10th, 2008, 7:19 pm


52. Alex said:

From As’ad’s blog:

“Friday, October 10, 2008
EDB (a Western reporter in the Middle East) sent me this (I cite with her permission): “What’s funny about the American journalists who were “missing” is that Americans can not get visas at the border to enter Syria. So, there is no way the were planning on doing that “legally.” Since at least 2006, Americans need to get a visa at a Syrian embassy, which is why Americans in Lebanon cannot simply cross over to Syria anymore. Very strange story. I buy the version that they wanted to see how porous the border with Syria is more. And about Taylor Luck: I don’t know him but his facebook profile includes favored activities such as: public urination. He has a photo album entitled, “Ancient Thebes and other things I pissed on. As you said, imagine if Syrian journalists snuck into the US. They would disappear for 3 years and end up in Guantanamo for a further 4.”

Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

October 10th, 2008, 8:14 pm


53. Nour said:


I have no idea what the nationality is of most non-Syrian husbands of Syrian women.

Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

October 10th, 2008, 8:29 pm


54. jad said:

I agree that Dr. Abukhalil is ‘the therapist’ but does the Lebanese see it this way?
Most of the Lebanese are still thinking that they are the centre of the world and everything evolved around them, even when the issue doesn’t even matter to them, so the therapy is not going to work at all.. 😉

Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

October 10th, 2008, 8:43 pm


55. ugarit said:


“I agree that Dr. Abukhalil is ‘the therapist’ but does the Lebanese see it this way?”

I’m sure some do and it’s about time.

Now we have to admire the Lebanese. Dr. Abukhalil openly writes about what he thinks ails Lebanese society and yet no one harasses him when goes back to Lebanon. How many Syrians would dare do that?

Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

October 10th, 2008, 8:51 pm


56. Jad said:

NONE, no one Syrian write rationally about the many problems our Syrian society have and how to deal with it. Most of the latest writing are out of revenge or hate. And if you find somebody who writes what he really think he will be harassed as a traitor.

Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

October 10th, 2008, 8:59 pm


57. ToddGMoney said:

At least the last time I checked (March 2008) you certainly can get a Syrian visa at the border as an American, although you may have to wait a bit. The first time I tried this in June 2007 on the way from Gaziantep, Turkey to Aleppo it seemed somewhat dicey, and I was basically saved by the good graces of a Syrian officer who called Damascus and got permission for me to enter. (I already had a residency in Syria but no return visa). Incidentally, this officer chalked up the differences between Syria and and the US to our (Americans) tolerance of bestiality (which he had found depictions of on the internet), but I digress. But the next time I entered from Jordan this March the process seemed fairly routine and streamlined, and I and several other Americans got through within 2 hours without a hitch. From what I’ve heard, the ease of this process seems to depend on the border, correlating with the amount of traffic at a particular entry point. Not to say that these journalists’ story doesn’t sound fishy, but it is plausible… (at least in terms of their intent to get a visa at the border).

Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

October 10th, 2008, 9:02 pm


58. Jad said:

What ToddGMoney wrote is right, I went to Damascus last month for a week with three Canadian colleagues and they didn’t have visa on their passport so at Damascus airport the custom officer asked them if they have a hotel reservation and they say yes, show it to him, then they fill up some forms and they got an immediate visas, I’m not sure about Americans though.

Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

October 10th, 2008, 9:18 pm


59. Jad/2 said:

“Si un éditorialiste analyse: «Rrrassan Nasrallah du Rrrizbollah aime le Rrroumous», maintenant vous le savez: c’est un thuriféraire du sionisme.”

Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

October 10th, 2008, 9:44 pm


60. Zenobia said:


that “bit” that one has to wait- in order to secure a visa at the Lebanese land border can be at least six hours or more… while they send a man on horseback to damascus… and he has to eat dinner first before he returns with a reply… that might be ‘yes’ or might be ‘no’… depending on how the guy at the embassy is feeling that day. Meanwhile, your taxi ride is long gone… taking your money with him, so you can pay a second time.

and Canadians are definitely NOT americans as far as the Syrians are concerned.

Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

October 10th, 2008, 10:20 pm


61. Jad said:

Hi Zenobia,
I didn’t know that they treat Canadians differently than Americans at the border in Syria? Good to know, Thanx

Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

October 10th, 2008, 10:42 pm


62. ToddGMoney said:


I mean its definitely a pain to wait for the visa, but the important thing is that it can be done. And more than that, at least at the Jordanian border, the matter seemed very routine as if they call Damascus a few times a day to clear incoming visa-less Americans. Of course, I did lose my taxi, but this was a minor inconvenience compared to having to go to the Syrian embassy in Jordan or mail my passport to the Syrian Embassy in Washington. At least Syria is not North Korea.

It is true though that all the Europeans I knew never had a problem at the borders (I’m not sure about Canadians).

Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

October 10th, 2008, 11:17 pm


63. Enlightened said:

Syria playing Dirty? KSA playing Dirty?


So Moubayed thinks that the Syrians are responding to the KSA dirty tricks?

I think we need a moment of clarity here. Lets get through the clutter first. The Syrians are responding to the KSA’s challenge for their backyard, or even their house. Imagine if you had invited guests over and they started to play dirty, in your backyard or even in your own home? ( a few bombs in the Tripoli back yard, a few bombs in the Damascus home). What would your response be?

Lets see if we can get dirtier? A Saudi sword dance and Syrian dirty dancing?

This is not one of Moubayeds better articles and more in line with any of Michael Youngs constant rants. For objectivity it rates a big fat zero.

Lets see, the Syrian government( and leadership) are masters of underhanded tactics and strategy, and masters of patience, the sane analyst with no political affiliation would have read the current situation this way.

The Syrian leadership have already sent a strong message to the Saudis and the West that our surrogates and allies in Beirut have achieved our objectives. The Saudis have responded by aiding and abetting the Salafis and are now targeting the Syrian interior.

The Syrians are now getting blow back for their part in the transfer of the Jihadis to Iraq. The deployment of the troops along the Lebanon border is to halt these infiltrations into Syria proper, the Salafi war in Iraq is lost, so onto the next objective! The Syrian interior.

Whats definitely not lost to any serious watcher of Middle Eastern politics and Moubayed glosses over is that a proxy war is being fought here and when it comes to dirty tactics and superior strategies on the ground the Saudis are no match for the Syrians here. The Syrians have the runs on the board when it comes to this type of dirty fight.

With 40 years in power and many dirty fights to respond to challenges, if I was a gambling man I know who I would bet on in this “dirty war”

Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

October 11th, 2008, 1:29 am


64. Jihad said:

Qaradawi Nabki or Nakbeh?!
I read Qifa Nabkeh’s reply to Moubayed’s article and both are pieces of propaganda. One must not forget that Mr. Moubayed was recently in Washington in a small Syrian delegation and wanted badly to meet arch-Zionists in AIPAC to prove Syrian good-will! What a pitiful way of thinking and acting. As for Qifa Nabki’s piece, it reminds the reader of one Qaradawi who woke up one day to find himself as sectarian and as bigot as those Zionist-Wahhabis in Saudi-controlled media. And the comparisons Qifa Nabki’s make are hilarious. According to your logic, if left-wing parties were sometimes funded by the USSR, then it is ok for right-wing Nazis in the Lebanese Forces to be funded by the Zionists and the Wahhabis. It is better for Qifa Nabki to shed his so-called objectivity and join forces with Qaradawi Nabki or Nakbeh (i.e. disaster).

Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

October 11th, 2008, 1:55 am


65. norman said:

The US should have invaded KSA after 9/11/2001 and divided the oil wealth on the rest of the Arabs , that would have gotten the US significant gratitude from all the Mideast , It is ashamed that the US missed this opportunity.

Syrians who let their daughters marry Saudis are crazy , They are simply selling their daughters.

Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

October 11th, 2008, 2:29 am


66. norman said:

Hummos update,
Chickpea wars: Israelis up in arms at bid to stop them selling hummus
Threatened lawsuit would allow only Lebanese makers to use dish’s traditional name

By Donald Macintyre in Jerusalem
Saturday, 11 October 2008

Itzhak Rachmo had one word to describe a threatened Lebanese lawsuit against Israeli hummus sellers. “Bullshit”. As a long queue of hungry clients formed at the counter for their staple Friday lunch, he clutched his forearm and declared: “There is hummus flowing through these veins.”

This week the Association of Lebanese Industrialists said it was planning international court action to stop Israel marketing its version of what it claims are “Lebanese” foods like hummus and falafel.

“I don’t know what their basis is for saying this,” said Mr Rachmo, a 68-year-old Jew of Syrian descent whose packed restaurant in the Mahane Yehuda market district was founded by his uncles 55 years ago. “Because they can’t create planes and guns and atomic weapons, they are trying to latch on to something so stupid.”

Lebanese producers claim they lose “tens of millions of dollars” annually because of Israel marketing Middle Eastern foods – hugely popular among Jewish Israelis – as their own. They are citing the precedent of feta cheese and a 2002 European court ruling that the product was Greek and could not be marketed by that name in other countries.

While the chickpea and sesame-based hummus, and falafel fried patties, are clearly no Israeli invention, the producers may have a harder time proving that the prized foods are specifically Lebanese.

At Abu Shukri, the most famous Palestinian hummus and falafel restaurant in Jerusalem’s Old City – which has a long history of serving Jews as well as Arabs – the owner’s son, Fadi Abu Shukri, took a more scholarly view. The foods lay, he said, with the whole of “Bilad al Sham” – the old Arabic term for the Levant, or Syria, Lebanon, Jordan and historic Palestine combined. “Then hummus was spread by the Turkish occupation,” he added.

Hamed Badr, 58, the Palestinian owner of Uncle Moustache – also a celebrated falafel and hummus place off East Jerusalem’s Saladin Street – could not resist complaining that “as [the Israelis] steal our land they also steal our hummus”. He was especially critical of mass-produced hummus in Israeli supermarkets, saying that, unlike his own, it was not hand ground with the exact proportion of ingredients. He too ascribed the origins of hummus to the whole of Bilad al Sham.

Outside Pitani, the most popular Jewish fast-food restaurant of its kind in West Jerusalem, a large, mainly young male crowd were waiting for a prized plate of creamy home-made hummus and freshly baked pitta bread, gherkins and raw onion.

Asked if he thought of hummus as an Israeli dish, off-duty soldier Dov Shonkopf said: “I think of it as that, but I guess it isn’t. It comes from Arab lands but don’t forget there were many Jews in those countries.”

For Mr Shonkopf, the Lebanese move is a “scam” but Rami Levy took a more charitable view. “Everyone copies something from the other and then adds something of their own. It’s the same in food as in music. But let them fight about food. It’s a lot better than fighting about territory.”

SearchQuery: The Web Go
© Legal Terms & Policies | E-mail sign-up | RSS | Contact us | Syndication | Work for INM | Advertising Guide | Group Sites | London Careers

Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

October 11th, 2008, 2:39 am


67. norman said:

Congratulation Joshua ,

Syrian citizenship to children of Syrian mothers.

Your children can have a Syrian citizenship , It is time to recognize how important mothers are ,

مشروع قانون في مجلس الشعب يسمح للأم السورية بإعطاء الجنسية لأبنائها الاخبار المحلية

علمت سيريانيوز أن أعضاءً في مجلس الشعب تقدموا بمشروع قانون يقضي بمنح الجنسية السورية للذين يولدون من أم سورية.

وقال عضو مجلس الشعب محمد حبش في تصريح لـسيريانيوز إن “10 من أعضاء المجلس بينهم أنا تقدمنا بمشروع قانون يوم الثلاثاء يتضمن منح الجنسية السورية للذين يولدون من أم سورية”, واصفا المشروع بأنه “هام جدا”.

ويعطي القانون السوري الجنسية السورية للذين يولدون من أب سوري فيما يحرم من يولدون من أم سورية حيازة الجنسية, وذلك على عكس ما هو قائم في العديد من دول العالم.

وأضاف حبش أن ” مشروع القانون سجل في ديوان مجلس الشعب وأحيل إلى الحكومة”, مشيرا إلى أن “الحكومة ستدرسه على مدى 30 يوما وهي المدة الدستورية لإعطاء الجواب النهائي حوله قبل أن تبدأ مناقشته في مجلس الشعب”.

وتعتبر قضية حق الأم السورية في منح أبنائها الجنسية مثار جدل بين العديد من الحقوقيين والاجتماعيين وعدد لا يستهان به من أصحاب هذه المعاناة, حيث يعتبر أبناء السورية التي تتزوج من غير سوري أجانبا ولا يتمتعون بأي حقوق يتمتع بها المواطن السوري.

وعن نسبة التأييد لمشروع القانون هذا داخل المجلس, قال حبش “لم تظهر أصوات معارضة لمشروع القانون عندما قدم كمشروع إلا أنه لم يناقش بعد”.

وتطالب سوريات ممن يعانين من هذا الأمر بحقهن في نقل الجنسية السورية إلى أولادهن أسوة بما هو قائم في العديد من دول العالم، وخاصة في الغرب، حيث يتزوج بعض العرب من أجنبيات بغية نيل الجنسية لهم ولأولادهم من بعدهم.

لوركا خيزران-سيريانيوز

Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

October 11th, 2008, 2:47 am


68. why-discuss said:

ToddGmoney, Jad

I guess these two ‘innocent’ journalists did not want to be rejected at the border when asking for a visa. They are JOURNALISTs and any foreign journalists anywhere in the arab world go through much more scrunity and often refused entrance without high level clearance. One proof of that is that, according to the news, when they were “saved “from the hand of the alleged thief driver and thrown to jail, they hide that they were journalists.
They knew they could be in more trouble as journalists. Their aventurous plan was clearly to bypass the border and smuggle without visa in Syria. Then they could boast about it if they succeeded, showing the world that anyone can cross the syrian border and make a scoop. That story of the thief driver is ridiculous. He probably wanted more money and threatened them. He is the one who probably called the military when they refused. I think the Syrians have been very kind to send these idiots to the US embassy without much harm. Imagine if an arab journalist smuggled in the USA, he would probably have ended up in Guantanamo for 5 years after been “waterboarded”.

Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

October 11th, 2008, 2:57 am


69. ToddGMoney said:

No offense to anyone Syrian here (أنا أحب سوريا) but how many Syrian women married to ijanib are clamoring to get Syrian citizenship for their children? The article mentions that such women do indeed exist, but it seems to me for the most part that Syrian women that marry foreigners marry rich sheiks from the Gulf or occasionally men from the West, but not usually guys from places like Yemen or Iraq where having Syrian citizenship might actually be a benefit. What do you get for your citizenship? The right to serve in the army and possibly become Israeli cannon fodder. Maybe its a sentimental thing for these Syrian mothers. I mean, this law is probably not a bad thing, but is this what they spend their time on all day in Parliament for the lack of anything better to do?

Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

October 11th, 2008, 4:00 am


70. Jad said:

It’s not about who the syrian women are getting married to, it’s kind of the last right that syrian women doesn’t have yet. Syrian women are and can involve in any aspect of political/social life in syria as other women in the west, and with this piece of legislation the syrian women will have the same rights of the syrian men have. In the arab world it’s only Tunisia (I’m not sure about Lebanon, it might be) give that right.
This is why people here are kind of feeling good about. Women right not citizenship glory

Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

October 11th, 2008, 5:26 am


71. Zenobia said:


“His temporary embrace of Mr. Obama came as Mr. McCain was repeatedly implored by voters at the town-hall-style meeting to “fight back” against Mr. Obama at the next presidential debate, on Wednesday, and to stop him from becoming president. But unlike at an earlier town-hall-style meeting this week in Wisconsin, where Mr. McCain sharply agreed with voters who urged him to punch back, this time he drew a line.

When a man told him he was “scared” of an Obama presidency, Mr. McCain replied, “I want to be president of the United States and obviously I do not want Senator Obama to be, but I have to tell you — I have to tell you — he is a decent person and a person that you do not have to be scared of as president of the United States.” The crowd booed loudly at Mr. McCain’s response.

Later, a woman stood up at the meeting, held at Lakeville South High School in a far suburb of Minneapolis, and told Mr. McCain that she could not trust Mr. Obama because he was an “Arab.”

Mr. McCain replied: “No, ma’am, he’s a decent family man, a citizen, who I just happen to have disagreements with on fundamental issues. And that’s what this campaign is all about.” At that, the crowd applauded.

Mr. McCain and his campaign have been harshly criticized this week by Mr. Obama, Democrats, some Republicans and a number of columnists, commentators and editorial writers for stoking angry crowds at rallies, particularly those in which Mr. McCain appears with his running mate, Gov. Sarah Palin of Alaska.

Crowds in Wisconsin and Pennsylvania have repeatedly booed Mr. Obama and yelled “off with his head,” and at a rally in Florida where Ms. Palin appeared without Mr. McCain, The Washington Post reported that a man yelled out “kill him.” At the same rally, a racial insult was hurled at an African-American television cameraman.

Representative Elijah E. Cummings, a Maryland Democrat, said Friday in an interview that he was surprised that neither Mr. McCain nor Ms. Palin had reacted, either by chastising audience members or discussing the events later. “It concerns me greatly when people come to the point where they take a political race, a race for president, and holler out words like ‘kill him,’ ” he said. “I just think our country is so much better than that.”

At the same time, Mr. McCain’s advisers sought to minimize the impact of those images of angry voters that have repeatedly been broadcast on television in the last two days.”

Zenobia says:

And I guess McCain’s reply implied by not challenging the obvious – that if Obama was an “Arab” … he wouldn’t be a decent family man and a citizen???

These people are unleashing the dark aggression of a lynch mob and nobody seems to be saying much about it.
I can’t imagine that McCain is sleeping to well at night with a conscience burdened with this trend in his campaign.

Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

October 11th, 2008, 5:31 am


72. ToddGMoney said:

Good point Jad… there definitely is a very symbolic aspect to it. And it is fitting that Syria would lead the way in this regard considering how it has historically been much more progressive than most Arab governments in respect to women’s rights.

Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

October 11th, 2008, 5:50 am


73. ToddGMoney said:

Well its not as if the Obama campaign hasn’t done anything to flan the flames. Rather than constantly responding to the claim that he is Muslim as slander he should say “And what if I was?” But I’m sure that wouldn’t play well with the US electorate.

Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

October 11th, 2008, 6:00 am


74. Jad said:

LOL, without saying it he is going to loose can you imagine how the average american will react for such drama? I, Honestly, can’t even push my brain to imagine that…

Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

October 11th, 2008, 6:11 am


75. ugarit said:


Isn’t Osama Bin Laden’s mother Syrian? Your point is well taken 🙂

Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

October 11th, 2008, 1:56 pm


76. Ahsan said:

By being shamelessly submissive to US and Western World, the Saudi’s(specially the Royal family) are really loosing their ground both in Arab world as well as in Muslim world.

Their apparent apathy, indifference to the sufferings of Iraqi, Palestine and about the poor Muslims around the world and arrogance, excessive pride are making them extremely unpopular even hated all over the world.

Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

October 11th, 2008, 3:50 pm


77. norman said:


I do not know but if it is , then blood is not as strong as the environment people grow in.

If this law was in effect then he would have learned about Islam in the Syrian schools , he would have gone to Damascus university He would have been a moderate and would have not committed 9/11.

Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

October 11th, 2008, 4:58 pm


78. Alex said:

Syrian mother calling for that new law

Photo by Razan Ghazzawi

Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

October 11th, 2008, 5:48 pm


79. Alex said:

Norman … he did go to school in Damascus I think : ) … but when he was very young… in the late 60’s maybe?

His character and values were formed later … in wahabi land.

Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

October 11th, 2008, 5:52 pm


80. jad said:

GREAT picture Alex…it needs translation though for people on here who doesn’t read Arabic to understand.
Thank you.

Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

October 11th, 2008, 6:28 pm


81. Shai said:


I haven’t had a chance to read up on all the comments yet – I just got back from a holiday in Turkey – but I did manage to read your article on the War of the Humus. Though I find it rather funny, I’m sure from the Lebanese point of view, it is quite serious, given what may apparently be a real loss to Israeli competition worldwide (Is that really true, with Arab consumers? I kind of doubt it… no?) But, I propose to test out the idea of payment for damage caused, by first having Israeli Humus producers pay a certain royalty fee (let’s say 2%) of all exported products to the Bilad al Sham producers. In fact, let’s put that as a major stipulation in any potential Israel-Syrian/Israeli-Lebanese peace agreement… 🙂 QN, what do you say, do the Lebanese even know about this international court battle taking place?

Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

October 11th, 2008, 7:19 pm


82. norman said:


I have an idea,

Hummus unite the Greater Syria ( Bi lad AL Sham )( Syria , Lebanon, Israel, Palestine and Jordon )

Make it one country and the Hummus will belong to all the people there , OK we can call it the Syrian Hummus so you and the Lebanese do not fight , we do not want wars any more.

On another note I am very optimestic , They are seeking legal course not military one , they might like the new way and solve the Israeli/ Palestinian problem this way , Wouldn’t that be great?.


Character develop at about age seven and at the university level , It is his university time that made radical.

Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

October 11th, 2008, 9:23 pm


83. Rumyal said:


I’m looking for opportunities to work on my Arabic so let me try:

“We want our right to give citizenship the same way that it’s his right [sic?] to give citizenship”

Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

October 11th, 2008, 9:53 pm


84. Alex said:


If you did not cheat (Arab friends?), then I am impressed.

Perfect translation : )

Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

October 11th, 2008, 10:05 pm


85. norman said:


Rumyal said that his mother is Iraqi, I think .

Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

October 12th, 2008, 1:10 am


86. Rumyal said:

Alex & Norman,

No cheating!

Yes my mother and all her family are from Iraq. I also learned Arabic at school for 6 years (3 mandatory + 3 elective). So I’m not a beginner, just a little bit rusty…

Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

October 12th, 2008, 3:32 am


87. Alex said:


I don’t know if you were here when I linked this site

lots of photos from the time your parents were in Iraq. Authors are friends of mine (I met them once only though)

Also, you can check Baghdad’s mini site on my
(click on top bar links)

Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

October 12th, 2008, 4:47 am


88. Shai said:


Make no mistake, Rumyal is NOT an Arab, he’s a decent family man… 🙂 But I am jealous of his Arabic.

Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

October 12th, 2008, 4:55 am


89. shanfara said:

Sami Mubayed’s article is highly problematic. He gets facts wrong. Hezballah did not surround Jumblat’s palace. There are other issues, but clearly Mubayed does not really see the implications of terrible Syrian policy on its own people. Ok it is about foregin policy, but I think it is directly tied to the dire situation of inside of Syria. In fact, Syrian gov. apologists, purposely focus on success in foreign policy in order to avoid domestic… and don’t tell me there are cool cafes in Shaalan or Abu Rumaneh. Or you are so happy the banks are offering 80,000 lira jobs to Syrian nationals. Please stop with these illusions. Pl I am amazed on how many Syrians have become like Leb. ultra nationalist. It is as if Syria can do no wrong. It is as if all the friends they had in prison for no reason do not exist. Let us be clear, there is no victory for Syria as long as their people are occupied by both elite and baathist forces. Do we really believe the Syrians are superior to the Saudis in their dealings in Lebanon? Just because Bashshar went to Paris all of sudden means the Syria is vindicated from all the things that Sami is afraid to talk about it and so many Syrians. I plead all Syrian intellectuals to not become like the Phalangist with some pseudo nationalist patriotism to something that is just as constructed as Lebanon. The grins that some Syrian have because of Hezballah is so annoying these days. Why is that a victory? Hezballah is a militia and what it is a millitia and not some model of resistance. If you guys want resitance please go back to the 70s in Lebanon… of course they were shut out by Syrian, relgious forces and Saudi Arabia. Ok this is a tirade and excuse me.

Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

October 12th, 2008, 4:02 pm


90. Rumyal said:

Hi Shai 🙂


Thanks for the links. Very interesting, I’ll definitely add “Memories of Eden” to my reading list. If anybody wants to read more about the topic of Iraq Jewry I highly recommend Sami Michael, especially “Victoria” and a “Storm Between the Palms”, but I’m not sure you can find them in English. But here’s what I found:


His most famous novel is “A Trumpet in the Wadi” which is set in Haifa in the early eighties, just before the Lebanon war, and discusses Jewish-Arabic relationships.

(And just for accuracy’s sake, my father’s family is from Poland and my mother is from Basra, not from Baghdad :-))

Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

October 12th, 2008, 6:51 pm


Pages: « 1 [2] Show All

Post a comment