Syria Stands by Lebanese Allies: France distraught: Lebanon in Continued Crisis

France is boycotting Syria until Syria pressures its Lebanese allies to accept the agreed upon candidate for President of Lebanon, Michel Suleiman. Syria and Lebanese opposition forces demand a greater share of the cabinet the new president would construct. Some are talking about renegotiating Taif, the constitutional arrangement that is seen by many of the opposition to be unfair.

Syria has a community of interest with Hizbullah and Aoun to demand a greater share in the cabinet – a blocking third. Syria cannot order Hizbullah to give up its gains or to leave itself vulnerable in a new government. Hizbullah claims that it helped 11 parliament members of the Hariri bloc to gain their seats in 2005 elections in a deal with Jumblat and Hariri that the two later went back on.

Both Hizbullah and Aoun believe they are the winners of recent wrangling within Lebanese politics and want those winnings reflected in a new government.  (I am off to NYC for New Years. Will write more about this on my return.)

Syria unwilling to pressure Lebanon allies: minister
Africasia, UK

Syria is unwilling to put pressure on its Lebanon allies in the crisis that has left it without a president for over a month, Information Minister Mohsen ..

Arslan attributes impasse to problems with Taif
Daily Star
Monday, December 31, 2007

BEIRUT: Lebanese Democratic Party leader Talal Arslan said the crisis around the presidential election was directly tied to  Taif Accord that ended the 1975-1990 Civil War. "Day after day, it is becoming clear to everybody that the presidential election crisis is certainly a by-product of the wrong implementation of the Taif Accord," he said at a news conference in his residence in Khaldeh on Saturday. Negotiated in Taif, Saudi Arabia, the pact was signed on October 22, 1989. Arslan stressed, however, that the opposition did not have plans to annul the deal. "We want to revisit the accord to achieve to major goals: putting an end to the fooling around with the Constitution and outlining the authorities of the executive power," he said. Arslan said that there were a number of problematic issues, which widened the gap between the opposition and the governing March 14 Forces. "The share of the opposition in the next government in addition to the fate and role of the resistance are crucial questions to be discussed even if they might cause a split among the Lebanese," he added.

France ends contact with Syria over Lebanese presidential election
The Associated Press
Monday, December 31, 2007

AIRO, Egypt: France is cutting off talks with Syria until Damascus shows its willingness to let Lebanon elect a new president, French President Nicolas Sarkozy said.

Lebanon’s Western-backed government and pro-Syrian opposition have been unable to break a deadlock over filling the presidential post, empty for a month, and many Western countries have accused Damascus of interfering in the process — a claim Syria denies.

“I will not have any more contact with the Syrians until … we have received proof of Syria’s intention to let Lebanon designate a president of consensus,” said Sarkozy at a press conference Sunday in Cairo after meeting with Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak.

Syrian Information Minister Mohsen Bilal called Sarkozy’s comments “surprising,” telling Syrian state television that Damascus was “working with France to reach an agreement on a president who represents all Lebanese.”

The French president spoke with Syrian President Bashar Assad as recently as the beginning of December to urge him to “facilitate” the election in Lebanon.

Sarkozy sent his chief of staff, Claude Gueant, to Damascus in early November, and Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner met his Syrian counterpart Walid al-Moallem earlier that month on the sidelines of an Iraq conference in Turkey.

“France has taken the responsibility of talking with Syria,” said Sarkozy. “One must recognize today that we cannot wait any longer, Syria must stop talking and now must act.”…

That process has been complicated by the opposition’s demand for a new unity government that would give it veto power over major decisions….

Haaretz, 30/12/2007: UNIFIL steps up supervision to deter Hezbollah re-armament 

UN officials point an accusatory finger regarding Lebanon’s political crisis toward Syria, claiming that “Syria defeats every attempt at an agreement and pushes Hezbollah and its other allies in Lebanon to increase their demands all the time.” They say that Syria’s President Bashar Assad wants to demonstrate at any price that “nothing moves in Lebanon without him” and predict that as a result the crisis in Lebanon will continue for months to come.

The main problem, as the UN officials see it, is that not enough pressure is being placed on Assad. “He will only move if he senses a threat to the stability of his regime,” they said. “If the Americans were, for example, to send ships close to Lebanon’s beaches, that would send a clear message to Assad, but they’re not doing that.”

The Arab world is nearly the only means left for pressuring Assad. Next March an Arab summit is scheduled to convene in Damascus. The hope of many in Europe and in Washington is that prominent Arab states such as Egypt and Saudi Arabia will boycott the conference to send Assad a clear message telling him to stop interfering in Lebanon’s internal affairs.

Syria committed to peace: Ynetnews, Israel – Specter and Kennedy said Syria's role in the peace process was vital and called on President George W. Bush to be forthcoming in his dealings with Syria, …  

Israeli goal for 2008 – to isolate Syria from radical axis: Jerusalem Post, Israel - Dec 29, 2007 By HERB KEINON

Formulating a strategy for separating Syria from the "radical axis" is one of the Foreign Ministry's highest priorities for 2008,

Comments (38)


1. Honest Patriot said:

Syria’s Information Minister Mohsen Bilal says:
“Who’s interfering in Lebanon’s affairs? If this accusation is true, it’s the French who are interfering, not us. We don’t go to Lebanon as (French Foreign Minister Bernard) Kouchner and others have been doing. They visit and we help them.”

Brilliant! We occupy the country for 30 years under the pretext to protect one or the opposing faction from annihilating the other (depending on which one we have allowed to pick up strength); we engage in a series of assassinations to snuff out any ture nationalistic aspiration for independence and neutrality, we pillage the country’s resources by increasing by an order of magnitude the inherent corruption and palm-greasing – only to the advantage of our Lebanon-assigned commanders; we orchestrate brillinatly deniability of all negative actions in the country; we use Hezbollah to do our fighting for us to keep some pressure on Israel while cowardly failing to offer real protection and allowing the wrath of the Israeli reaction to destroy the country’s infrastructure; we brilliantly (again) maneuvre to sneak islamic extremists into Lebanon knowing that they will help maintain chaos and distract from our own involvement; we incite the so-called “opposition” in Lebanon to continually escalate its demands [while we crush our own opposition in Syria by any means, including applying the "Hama rules"]; we order our lackies in Lebanon to come to us to get instructions; we brilliantly exploit the honest but naive and egotistical General Aoun – a savior for us – to perpetuate paralysis and division in Lebanon;

and then…

we ask:

“Who’s interfering in Lebanon’s affairs?”

Just because your maneuvering is a disguised and subtle form of the rape that Saddam inflicted on Kuwait doesn’t make you any less culpable than white collar criminals compared to street gang criminals.

Yeah, I know, this all sounds emotional. Yeah, I know, assassinations is the way business is done in the Middle East (as I was told: “In lam takon zhi’ban akalatka ‘zhiabu.” Yeah, I know, there is no “proof” of Syria’s involvement in the assassinations. Yeah I know, there is a strong Christian following in Lebanon for Michel Aoun by the poor souls brainwashed by the one-sided media (and lacking full exposure to all the points of view, not to mention being terrified by Hezbollah’s weapons and trusting their “Chamberlain” = “Aoun” to protect them from “H—–” = “Hezbollah.” Finally, yeah, I know, I sound like a broken record.

But, I am more than honest and sincere, I am right!

Veritas.

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December 31st, 2007, 7:12 pm

 

2. Observer said:

HP hit the nail on the head: he used the word brilliant and explained how brilliant the policy of the regime has been. I must conclude with him that the Syrian regime has been brilliant in its dealings on all fronts.

HP needs to grow up and realize that this is not a moral issue. This is an amoral issue and I use amoral specifically to point out that this is not immoral. Machiavelli apologized in ” The Prince” that he was advocating the use of naked power to achieve political objectives whereas Plato in the ” Republic ” used the idea of the common good combined with the folly of man to argue for autocratic rule of the supreme leader. At least Plato had some moral qualms. Now the world is that of Machiavelli. I urge you gently to read his writings.
Now, I must confess to HP that today I read an op-ed by Bernard Henri-Levy in the WSJ in which he laments that the leaders of the Western powers of France Britain Germany and the US did not fly to attend the funeral of Bhutto and that the Elysee issued a regret memo only. Amazing how this policy of France not to inflame the situation in Pakistan can be “brilliant” but of course “amoral”. It seems France and Syria have found common “brilliant” ways to deal with the world.

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December 31st, 2007, 7:30 pm

 

3. GG said:

“Syria Stands by Lebanese Allies …” Wishful thinking Josh; Syria has no choice, lest it appear powerless; you said it yourself: “Syria cannot order Hizbullah to give up its gains or to leave itself vulnerable in a new government.” On the other hand, “George W. Bush has made promises to his Lebanese surrogates that have encouraged them to take uncompromising stances, then failed to back them up.” (http://www.dailystar.com.lb/article.asp?edition_id=1&article_id=87727&categ_id=17) As a result, we still have the cook, the thief, his wife and her lover waiting to reach their pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. After all, Bush promised. At least Samir Geagea has a trade to fall back on: butchery.

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December 31st, 2007, 7:36 pm

 

4. Observer said:

Now what about this new phenomenon of having the children of politicians take up the positions of their parents. How come the PPP in Pakistan cannot find a decent mature seasoned and experienced leader to follow in the wake of Bhutto and they appoint her 19 year old son to the post? This is ridiculous and points out to the Medieval Feudal system that still exists in this part of the world.

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December 31st, 2007, 8:21 pm

 

5. Honest Patriot said:

Observer,

What you say is true but it is also true that even in the U.S. – under the guise of democracy and a significant political and intellectual class – we ended up with GWB (granted after an 8-year hiatus) being “elected” to the “throne” and using it to avenge the assassination attempt on his father notwithstanding the worst price our country had to pay for it: the price of something worse than a crime, the price of a political “mistake”

“C’est plus qu’un crime, (…) c’est une faute!”

It is true that GWB was manipulated by his political entourage, but isn’t it the same with 19-year old Bhutto?

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December 31st, 2007, 9:36 pm

 

6. Nur al-Cubicle said:

Lebanon is important to the US because it is on the “front line” of America’s war on Hezbollah.

Meanwhile, hasn’t Mubarek have some nerve publicly ordering Syria around when he’s corrupt as the day is long, brutalizes voters and reporters, and acts with deceit. I’m specifically pointing to its agreement to let a few hundred Hamas leaders make the Haj, exiting Gaza through the Rafah crossing, and now on the way back is placing them in an interment camp because of a deal with The Entity to force them to use an Israeli-controlled crossing (which they sensibly refused), where they would be arrested.

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January 1st, 2008, 4:21 am

 

7. norman said:

‘Turkey mediating between Israel, Syria’

——————————————————————————–
JPost.com Staff , THE JERUSALEM POST Jan. 1, 2008

——————————————————————————–

Direct negotiations between Israel and Syria could materialize if the Turkish mediation which is allegedly underway is successful, Al-Hayat reported Tuesday.

“Damascus has decided to pursue real peace with Israel which will give Syria its rights back,” Syrian sources told the London-based Arabic daily, referring to Senator Arlen Specter’s meeting with Syrian President Bashar Assad earlier this week.

Meanwhile, the sources also said that in order to motivate a real peace deal between the two countries, “Israel must guarantee the return of the entire Golan Heights to Syria.”

Al-Hayat’s sources also implied that negotiations between Damascus and Jerusalem are currently underway via Turkish mediation and added that if the negotiations are successful, the US will be asked to participate in direct Israeli-Syrian talks.

——————————————————————————–

——————————————————————————–

This article can also be read at http://www.jpost.com /servlet/Satellite?cid=1198517262784&pagename=JPost%2FJPArticle%2FShowFull

[ Back to the Article ]

——————————————————————————–
Copyright 1995- 2008 The Jerusalem Post – http://www.jpost.com/

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January 1st, 2008, 3:42 pm

 

8. trustquest said:

Syrian officials using heavy guns diplomacy denied outright that the president promised the two senators, Specter and Kennedy, that he will release the seven dissents; prisoners of conscious from Damascus spring listed their names on this blog by Joshua:
“Ali Barazi Released from Jail: Assad Says Seven Other Seculars to Go Free”

The Official denied raising the subject during the meeting with president. Now, if the senators are lying, Joshua is lying where is the truth?

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January 1st, 2008, 4:10 pm

 

9. Alex said:

TQ

And Sarkozy is lying too. He said he is putting contacts with Damascus on hold

Then the next day

Damascus, (SANA) – In continuation of Syrian-French efforts for finding a reconciliatory solution to the political crisis in Lebanon, Foreign Minister Walid al-Moallem received on Monday two phone calls from Claude Guéant, Secretary General of the French President.

In these calls, al-Moallem and Guéant discussed means for providing help to the Lebanese parties in order to overcome the current political crisis and find a reconciliatory solution that achieves security and stability in Lebanon.

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January 1st, 2008, 4:28 pm

 

10. G said:

No, that was the Syrians, unsurprisingly, who were lying. The French said today that Gueant called to let Moallem know that contacts will be suspended.

That you quote SANA to claim truth and information about France is beyond funny.

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January 1st, 2008, 4:42 pm

 

11. Alex said:

I’m glad that we continue to provide you with a dependable supply of “beyond funny.” material.

So according to you, Gueant called twice to tell them that the talks are going to be suspended.

I see … because the Syrians are too stupid to understand Sarkozy’s
“I will not make any more contacts with Syria”, the French decided to call again to tell the Syrians “Don’t you get it? … we are not talking to you”

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January 1st, 2008, 5:23 pm

 

12. G said:

I love Syria.

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January 1st, 2008, 5:37 pm

 

13. AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Alex,
So now you believe Sana over the French?
Wow!

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January 1st, 2008, 6:53 pm

 

14. norman said:

I think that there are alot of translation problems between English , Frensh and Arabic.

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January 1st, 2008, 8:05 pm

 

15. norman said:

Syria denies Assad pledged to set dissidents free
January 1, 2008

DAMASCUS (Reuters) – The Syrian government denied on Tuesday that President Bashar al-Assad had promised to release seven dissidents who were jailed after trying to re-organize a democratic movement targeted by security.

Two U.S. lawmakers said Assad made the pledge at a meeting with them last week during which they urged Assad to halt a campaign against political activists and contemplate democratic reform to the no-opposition creed of the ruling Baath Party.

The official news agency said human rights were not even discussed during the meeting with Representative Patrick Kennedy and Senator Arlen Specter in the Syrian capital.

“No one is allowed to interfere in Syrian internal affairs. A senior information official has denied that the issue of some prisoners was talked about,” the agency said.

The seven dissidents were arrested last month after attending a meeting at the house of leading opposition figure Riad Seif to revive the Damascus Declaration.

Signed by liberal parties in 2005, the declaration demanded democracy, the lifting of restrictions on public freedoms and abolition of emergency law, which has governed Syria since 1963, when the Baath Party took power in a coup.

Kennedy told journalists after meeting Assad that human rights were a universal issue.

He touted Seif as an example of courage and said he will nominate him for a prestigious prize named after his uncle Robert F. Kennedy, the former senator and attorney general who was assassinated in 1968.

The forceful mention of human rights and the public praise Kennedy heaped on Seif was virtually unheard of in tightly controlled Syria.

(Reporting by Khaled Yacoub Oweis; Editing by Stephen Weeks)

© Copyright 2008 The New York Times Company

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January 1st, 2008, 8:25 pm

 

16. norman said:

Peace might be acheivable,

Olmert hints Jerusalem division is inevitable
Tue Jan 1, 2008 10:36am EST
By Jeffrey Heller

JERUSALEM (Reuters) – Prime Minister Ehud Olmert signaled on Tuesday Israel might have no choice but to share Jerusalem with the Palestinians in a peace deal, citing international pressure for compromise over the holy city.

“The world that is friendly to Israel … that really supports Israel, when it speaks of the future, it speaks of Israel in terms of the ’67 borders. It speaks of the division of Jerusalem,” Olmert said in an interview with The Jerusalem Post.

Israel captured Arab East Jerusalem in the 1967 Middle East war and annexed it in a move that failed to win international recognition. It regards all of Jerusalem as its “eternal and indivisible” capital.

Palestinians want East Jerusalem to be the capital of the state they aspire to establish in the occupied West Bank and in the Gaza Strip.

The future of Jerusalem is one of the core issues Israel and the Palestinians agreed to tackle in peace talks they renewed after a U.S.-hosted summit in Annapolis, Maryland in November.

Olmert’s comments appeared to be another move by the prime minister to prepare Israeli public opinion for the possibility of a deal that would loosen Israel’s control of all of Jerusalem.

His deputy and close confidant, Haim Ramon, has said Israel should in future negotiate creation of a “special regime” that would govern some of the sacred sites in Jerusalem’s walled Old City.

In separate remarks on Tuesday, Defense Minister Ehud Barak made clear there would be no sweeping changes in Israel’s network of hundreds of roadblocks and checkpoints in the West Bank while negotiations went ahead.

Barak, addressing Israeli troops in the West Bank, said the barriers, condemned by Palestinians as collective punishment, helped to thwart attacks by militants.

“There is no chance of waging an effective fight against terror without a real and daily control of the field, and the checkpoints and roadblocks will remain,” said Barak, a former prime minister who now leads the center-left Labour Party.

RESTRICTIONS

The United States, which hosted a Middle East peace conference in Annapolis, Maryland in November, has urged Israel to relax travel restrictions on Palestinians in the West Bank.

“In order to ease matters when it comes to the daily lives of Palestinians, we are trying to permit the opening of roadblocks and checkpoints on the fringes,” Barak said.

“As of now, dozens of earth roadblocks have been removed as well as two of the 16 major checkpoints, and we may make more concessions here and there,” he said.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, voicing frustration at the slow pace of change, said in a speech on Monday: “Each time (there is a meeting with the Israelis) they say they will remove (checkpoints) or have already removed some of them — but I can honestly say they did not remove a single checkpoint.”

Israel and the Palestinians have said they hoped to reach a peace agreement before U.S. President George W. Bush, who visits Israel and the West Bank next week, leaves office next year.

Olmert has already questioned publicly the wisdom of annexing outlying Arab neighborhoods of the city after the 1967 conflict. But he has insisted Israel would never agree to return to its pre-1967 borders.

(Editing by Richard Balmforth)

© Reuters 2007. All rights reserved. Republication or redistribution of Reuters content, including by caching, framing or similar means, is expressly prohibited without the prior written consent of Reuters. Reuters and the Reuters sphere logo are registered trademarks and trademarks of the Reuters group of companies around the world.

Reuters journalists are subject to the Reuters Editorial Handbook which requires fair presentation and disclosure of relevant interests.

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January 1st, 2008, 8:28 pm

 

17. trustquest said:

This is should be serious matter to the US. Either the senator and the congressman are lying or “Sana” and the Syrian officials are lying. There is no place for lost in translation since the president speak English. I think meeting on this level usually recorded and I hope the US has done that.
Are middle eastern policy makers teaching the US senators their ways of practicing foreign and interior policy by lying, denying, changing positions and dragging their feet. A US Senator would loose his job if he lies, however Syrians ranks will not loose their jobs for any reason, it seems it is not fair game.

Senator Specter and Congressman Kennedy were on their way to meet Benazir Bhutto on the day she was murdered to receive a paper report from her to reveal details of a conspiracy by intelligence agencies to rig Pakistan’s looming election.

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January 1st, 2008, 9:45 pm

 

18. offended said:

In fact, even Haaretz carried the news about the two phone calls, I must have been quite emotional and ‘phony’ day for Geanut (sob…sob), it took him a lot of courage and two phone calls to tell his counterparts that he can’t talk to them anymore…

http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/940218.html

G said:

I love Syria

Of course you do!

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January 1st, 2008, 9:48 pm

 

19. offended said:

What was disturbing though is that during the infamous press conference of Sarkozy and Mubarak, the latter had also thrown in some words inline with Sarkozy’s announcement. He also called on Syria to use its leverage in Lebanon to get the president elected…but I believe his tone was a bit harsh…

Now I understand that Saekozy was just coming out of a hot holiday with his new GF, and had probably few masculine hormones stoked in his bloog, but what’s wrong with Mubarak? Couldn’t he do something to ease the tension of the French? Os is this all part of the grand plan?

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January 1st, 2008, 9:55 pm

 

20. ausamaa said:

The Year 2007 demonstrated the inability of the anti-Syria foriegn and “brothely” coalition to isolate Syria and to minimize the effectiveness of its roll in the area. Various methods were used, some carrots and many threats. And, to the dismay of some, none worked out as inteneded.Syria remained unshaken, the Lebanese Opposition grew stronger, Iran gave Bush the fingure and consolidated its position, Hamas, while removed from governmental power, grew in strength and took over Gaza. The “moderate” Arabs had to settle for a middle-of-the-way approach instead of the full fledged pro-Bush approach.

What would 2008 bring us?

A total and final collaps of the neo-cons Grand Plan?

What to look for? Or rather where should one look for the signs of things to come?

Lebanon and Occupied Palestine I guess.

The Feb 14 crowd is being pushed to make a last stand primarily to test the resolve of the anti-Bush forces. A stand that will quickly crumble once it confronts the facts on the ground. And a continued push by the Israelies to test how far Hamas will go in its defiance. Left between a rock and a hard place, the “moderate” Arab axis is in a state of total confusion and has been rendered to a sitting-on-the fence menial position.

The signs on both fronts do not seem very promissing to the Bush camp. A more dangerous sign would come from a re-heated Iraqi front following the coming Bush visit to area.

So what should we exppect in 2008?

Well, as they say: Don’t bet on a loser!! Unless the loser manages to pull a rabbit out of the hat by forcing Israel to make concessions to the Palestiains. Knowing Israe; they know Bush is departing soon, so why extend a saving rope to him? the sneacky Israeli politicians would think.

The crowning of the Bush and the neo-cons’ project final defeat would come around mid-March when the Arab summit is due to convene in – you gussed it-, Damascus!

Happy new year to all!

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January 1st, 2008, 10:03 pm

 

21. Alex said:

Offended

Mubarak plays along … his position the past years was to not commit to either camp (Pro and anti Syria) … I spoke to some Saudis who assured me the Egyptians are working against Bashar behind the scene. But I also have reasons to believe that This was only Mubarak’s attempt to make them feel he is on their (Saudi and American) side.

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January 1st, 2008, 11:32 pm

 

22. G said:

I love Bashar.

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January 2nd, 2008, 12:29 am

 

23. Alex said:

Dear G,

I will try again -although I tried a thousand times already- to explain to you a simple thing:

If you can filter the personal insults from your comments, then you are welcome to try all you can to correct me or anyone else you despise on this blog.

But if you want to continue calling me stupid … calling Joshua a liar and anyone else you disagree with, some other insults, then your comments will disappear.

By the way … no one cares what you think, in case you think you are upsetting me or Joshua.

Happy New Year to you.

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January 2nd, 2008, 12:43 am

 

24. Nur al-Cubicle said:

Looking at Le Monde’s account of Sarkozy’s remarks in Egypt:

“At the end of the day, Mr. Sarkozy told his invited guests, businessmen and Egyptian intellectuals that he would not stand by to watch the Muslim Brotherhood come to power in Egypt, the main opposition party, which Mr. Sarkozy compared to the Islamic Salvation Front in Algeria and the Taliban.

No one in the room dared to ask Mr. Sarkozy if the methods to stop them used by the Egyptian government – mass arrests of Muslim Brotherhood members and torture during imprisonment – was acceptable…”

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January 2nd, 2008, 12:50 am

 

25. Alex said:

Nur,

Sarkozy is making it clear he will do every “mistake” you can imagine until no one will even mention his mistakes anymore.

Remember President Reagan? … he would fall asleep while the Pope was talking and no one cared.

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January 2nd, 2008, 2:19 am

 

26. AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Yes 2008 will be great for Syria. More freedoms, more democracy, a lot of economic growth, a huge improvement in education.

When a people measure their success by how good they are at stopping others and not by how much they advance it shows how depraved they are.

Why are so many Syrians on this blog so blind as to judge Asad by how well he creates chaos and instability in Lebanon and not by how he makes life better for the average Syrian, the way politicians are measured in normal countries? Can someone explain to me what is wrong with so many Syrians?

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January 2nd, 2008, 3:24 am

 

27. AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

And yes the Syrian regime is lying: http://www.reuters.com/article/politicsNews/idUSL0170472020080101

Human rights were discussed in the meeting. Another Asad mistake. Not to worry, the tribunal is coming and there is always a good chance that Asad will make a mistake in 2008 that will lead to the end of the regime. The only good thing about the situation in Lebanon is that it makes clear to the Europeans what a snake Asad is and that there is no use dealing with his regime.

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January 2nd, 2008, 3:30 am

 

28. offended said:

AIG, I’ll tell you what’s wrong with so many Syrians:
The average Syrian citizen is mainly concerned about his/her livelihood, he doesn’t care much about politics (I believe this is the case all over the world), and one corner stone of livelihood is security and stability. So when these two are at stake, everyone will try to get involved and voice out his concerns.

But when it comes to democracy and human rights, things can stay on the back burner for a while. Let change take its most convenient course. There is no rush.

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January 2nd, 2008, 4:49 am

 

29. AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Offended,
I read you and don’t get it.
If as you say “the average Syrian citizen is mainly concerned about his/her livelihood, he doesn’t care much about politics” (and I agree with you) why does he support the Asads that have shown for 40 years that they cannot improve the situation in Syria?
Doesn’t the average Syrian see that the Asads and their foreign poilicy are making the Syrians fall behind economically in regards to the rest of the world? I guess not.

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January 2nd, 2008, 5:03 am

 

30. Alex said:

AIG,

Syria went through long periods of growth during the 70′s and 90′s.

In the 70′s economic growth reached 13%

Today, there are many encouraging signs as well. The Syrian people did not sit calmly from 1970 to 2008 watching their country decline. The 80′s were bad, but they were followed by the more comfortable 90′s

These days, Iraq and Lebanon brought Syrians back to the bottom of the Maslaw’s hierarchy of needs … they are now thankful that their government is successfully isolating them from the chaos and bloodshed outside their borders.

Syrian minorities (about 30%) are also glad the regime is secular… a very basic need in their mind.

So .. Syrians can tolerate a decade of difficulties. Not 38 years.

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January 2nd, 2008, 5:48 am

 

31. offended said:

Right Alex, specially when difficulties are not caused by the regime itself, but rather by the pressure exerted on it for the political stances it adopts.

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January 2nd, 2008, 7:53 am

 

32. offended said:

AIG,
The Syrian people will even tolerate more difficulties knowing that most of these difficulties are not the fault of the regime itself, but rather the result of external pressure exerted on it for the principled political stances it adopts.

I hope this was clear enough…

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January 2nd, 2008, 9:02 am

 

33. Honest Patriot said:

AIG,

You shouldn’t be so bewildered. The Syrian people are decent, hard working, desirous of peace and prosperity like all other people. The problem – as partly pointed out by Offended – is that they are so occupied by the daily grind needed to ensure subsistence that they don’t have time to worry about challenging their government. And, as pointed by Alex, their situation is not as desperate as the French farmers’ in 1789 or the proletariat before the Bolshevik revolution to prompt a mass uprising.
Then, there is a crucial factor: where they get their information. The state-controlled media masterfully spins every story to the benefit of the regime (just look at the thread in this story). Even with international media spreading widely with technology, precious little of it makes its way to the ordinary Syrian citizen.
It is sad that the folks in power are also so concerned with their survival that their priority list puts internal welfare at the bottom and compounds this mistake with the use of what some bloggers consider “amoral” (in my opinion criminal) operations to effect their political goals in any theater where they have access and control (yup, I’m thinking Lebanon).
In other words, for the people of Syria, as the saying goes, “when you’re up to your a-# in alligators, it is hard to remember that your original intention is to drain the swamp.”
The extreme example is North Korea: do you wonder why the North Korean people don’t overthrow their government? Syria is not like that extreme example but the principles explaining people’s behavior are the same.

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January 2nd, 2008, 12:21 pm

 

34. ausamaa said:

At least if a referrandum or any sort of ellection is carried on in Syria, the whole mature population is constitutionally entitled to vote! Can we say the same for Israel current where about 40% of the Total Population consists of People Under Israeli Occupation? And since more than 60, or 40 years, for that matter.

And some people have the Chutzpah to lecture others on matters relating to Freedom and Democracy.

In Syria, we may have a need to change the System; in Israel we need to change the Nature of the whole thing.

Cheers..

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January 2nd, 2008, 1:56 pm

 

35. AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Alex,
Your statistics are misleading. What is important to see is economic growth relative to population growth. Do you have the full statistics? Economic welfare is always judged RELATIVE to others. In this sense Syria has fallen behind thorughout the period.

I know that Syrians want better. What I find amusing is the excuses that people are willing to make for the Asads in order to support the dismal record.

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January 2nd, 2008, 3:59 pm

 

36. Alex said:

AIG,

Last month I enjoyed taking a break from your finding my comments “excuses” and “amusing” and “misleading”

Ask some one else on this forum to answer you in 2008

Happy New Year.

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January 2nd, 2008, 4:15 pm

 

37. AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Alex,
Happy new year to you also!
It is ok, I didn’t expect any real answers.

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January 2nd, 2008, 5:22 pm

 

38. Friend in America said:

The Reuters news article (see link in AIG Jan 2, 3:30AM; first reported by Norman Jan 1 8:25 AM) is not going to make headlines around the world but the incident has serious implications.

Representative Kennedy is the grandson of President John F. Kennedy. His cause is human rights world wide and his connections are extensive. His uncle, Ted Kennedy, is the senior Democrat in the U.S. Senate and has been a outspoken critic of the Bush administration for not having direct dialogue with Syria and Iran. I think Patrick went on this trip on behalf of his uncle. Arlan Spector is a senior Republican Senator who was chair of the most important committee in the U.S. Senate in the last term. It was he who put Guantanamo on the agenda and it was his criticisms that lead to the resignation of the previous Attorney General. It was Senator Spector who urged Condellesa Rice to invite Syria to Annapolis despite her misgivings because of Syria’s past diplomatic behavour. Both know their words will be read seriously by the political leadership in Washington and elsewhere. In watching his career over the years and in my contacts with him, there is no doubt about Senator Spector’s integrity.They did not fabricate.

So now these two advocates for a change in policy for the middle east have been embarrassed and are forced to agree Condellessa Rice was right. Combining this with the rebuff to President Sarkosy, it is clear Syria is not now prepared to engage in the diplomatic negotiations that the world has become accustomed to, and prefers a standoff in Lebanon and Israel to an agreement that will advance peace. For those of us who wish Syria peace and prosperity, it is one step forward and three backwards.

There is a clue in the Reuters article that suggests what happened. It is the statement that ‘no one can interfere with Syria’s internal politics.’ It is the security people that would make such a statement. It shows the old guard got the upper hand and succeeded in getting the decision to go to Annapolis to negotiate reversed. Syria is now back on its traditional stance. That must have been some argument in Damascus.

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January 3rd, 2008, 7:12 pm

 

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