Posted by Joshua on Sunday, July 12th, 2009
If Obama is going to do something important in the Middle East, this administration will have to bring Syria to center stage. To do so it will have to press Israel to part with the Golan even though Uzi Arad, a Netanyahu aide said recently that “Israel needs to retain part of the Golan “for strategic, military and settlement reasons. For water, landscape and wine.” Syria way be weak militarily but it holds many regional cards. Most importantly, it speaks for Arab opinion in condemning Washington for being two-faced in its claim to be on the side of justice and law.
If Washington is going to make a good faith effort to restrain Israel’s territorial acquisitiveness, it should not be signing an agreement to sell 75 new US F-35 fighters to Israel, at least not yet. Israel’s superior air power convinced Olmert that he could kill Israel’s enemies rather than negotiate with them. Further increasing Israel’s military superiority will not diminish this bad habit. Equally, the Obama administration should not be pressing the “IAEA to…. push for special inspections in Syria,” at least not yet. (See this article about how the US is offering the IAEA an 8% increase in money if it presses the Syria case, among other things.) Washington seems blind to the fact that its efforts to improve Israel’s military might while chipping away at its rivals makes Israel impervious to entreaties that it fulfill international law. One the one hand, Washington claims it has no means to make Israel give up the Golan, and on the other, it doesn’t even try.
The Saudi outreach may come at a price that the US is not happy to see paid…”
July 11, 2009 MEPGS, (Via FLC)
“The Saudis want to persuade Iran’s erstwhile allies, notably Syria, that Teheran is a weak regime,” says one veteran analyst. Another notes, “The uprising has killed the myth of Iran stability.” One problem with this approach, say US officials, is that, in the case of Syria, the Saudi outreach may come at a price that the US is not happy to see paid. Specifically, they worry that the Saudis will reduce their support for their allies in the Lebanese government in order to attract Syria. Already, their protege, Saad Hariri, has seen Saudi support for a more independent Lebanese stance towards Syria dissipate. Or as one US official put it last week, “The Saudis may be willing to sell out Lebanon for Arab unity against Iran.” [US officials say they have remonstrated with the Saudis about this, but so far to little effect].
Israel-US F-35 deal ‘targets Iran, Syria defense’
Sun, 12 Jul 2009
An F-35 Joint Strike Fighter
Israel’s plans to buy US F-35 fighters indicate its desire to be able to penetrate the Russian air defense systems Iran and Syria are set to receive, a report says.
F-35 fighter aircraft can make the S-300 air defense systems ineffective, as computer simulations have shown that the new US stealth fighters outperform Russian missiles, Ria Novosti cited officials in Tel Aviv as saying…..
The final price for the model, estimated at over $100 million, and technical details of the deal still remain to be determined however…..
Predictions are that the final contract will be signed in early 2010 with the US promising to deliver a third of the 75 estimated F-35 fighters to Israel by 2014….
LONDON (AFP) — US President Barack Obama said he was troubled by Syria’s behaviour but hoped for progress in ties with former foe Damascus, in an interview to be screened Sunday.
Obama was asked by Britain’s Sky News television if he would accept an invitation to go to Damascus for face-to-face talks with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
“We’ve started to see some diplomatic contacts between the United States and Syria,” Obama said, in an interview recorded during Saturday’s visit to Ghana.
“There are aspects of Syrian behaviour that trouble us and we think that there is a way that Syria can be much more constructive on a whole host of these issues.
“But, as you know, I’m a believer in engagement and my hope is that we can continue to see progress on that front.”
Assad said earlier this month that he would be willing to meet Obama in Syria to discuss Middle East issues.
“We would like to welcome him in Syria, definitely. I am very clear about this,” he told Sky News.
State, Mitchell were in the loop on Syria
Ben Smith at Politico: July 10, 2009
I quoted approvingly today from a Jim Hoagland column that I thought got a couple of the big things right on Obama’s foreign policy: The unified front of principals, and the policy-making White House core.
I’ve also heard from some of the people involved, though, that the column was wrong in its lede, and what it casts as a telling anecdote and “misstep”:
Surprised to see the news the other day that the Obama administration is sending an ambassador back to Syria? So was Hillary Clinton’s State Department. Officials there were still negotiating with Damascus to win some movement on Middle East issues when President Obama’s decision was leaked.
That really doesn’t match the account I’ve gotten.
I’m told the recommendation came in a memo from Mitchell to Clinton and Obama after his mid-June meeting with Syrian President Assad. The decision was discussed in a Deputies Committee that included the powerful Deputy Secretary of State, Jim Steinberg as well as a Mitchell aide, Fred Hoff. Clinton’s personal staff on the seventh floor was aware of the recommendation before it was announced, as was the Acting Assistant Secretary of State for Near East Affairs, Jeffrey Feltman.
Hoagland’s column suggests that others in Foggy Bottom were taken aback, but both Clinton and Mitchell — the central negotiator on the ground in the Middle East — were in the loop on this one.
New chapter for Syria-Saudi relations
Phil Sands, Foreign Correspondent, UAE / July 10. 2009
The Syrian president, Bashar Assad, angered his peers in the Middle East when he called them “half men ” for not supporting Hizbollah during Israel’s 2006 war on Lebanon. Louai Beshara / AFP
Damascus: If America’s decision to send an ambassador to Syria, after years of ice-cold relations between Damascus and Washington, signals a shift in the Middle East’s political atmosphere, this week’s announcement by Saudi Arabia that it will do the same is a clear sign that a new chapter is really beginning……
….. For decades Syria has doggedly insisted that the underlying situation can be solved only with a comprehensive regional peace agreement that sees it regain the Golan Heights. Regardless of American or Saudi ambassadors being posted to Damascus, or efforts to weaken the Syrian-Iranian alliance, if that does not happen, any new chapter is doomed to have the same old ending.
Netanyahu’s paranoia extends to ‘self-hating Jews’ Emanuel and Axelrod
By Barak Ravid, Haaretz
……Netanyahu appears to be suffering from confusion and paranoia. He is convinced that the media are after him, that his aides are leaking information against him and that the American administration wants him out of office. Two months after his visit to Washington, he is still finding it difficult to communication normally with the White House. To appreciate the depth of his paranoia, it is enough to hear how he refers to Rahm Emanuel and David Axelrod, Obama’s senior aides: as “self-hating Jews.”
The [Israeli] Foreign Ministry unveiled a new plan this week: Paying talkbackers to post pro-Israel responses on websites worldwide. A total of NIS 600,000 (roughly $150,000) will be earmarked to the establishment of an “Internet warfare” squad.
The Foreign Ministry intends to hire young people who speak at least one language and who study communication, political science, or law – or alternately, Israelis with military experience gained at units dealing with information analysis.
A 116 page secret manual used to school American Jewish leaders in how to effectively discuss Israel has been leaked to Newsweek.
How do you sell the American public on the idea that Israel has the right to maintain or even expand Jewish settlements in the West Bank? Be positive. Turn the issue away from settlements and toward peace. Invoke ethnic cleansing.
Those are three of the recommendations made by Frank Luntz, a political consultant and pollster, in an internal study he wrote for the Washington-based group The Israel Project (TIP) on effective ways to talk to Americans about the conflict between Israelis and Palestinians.
Here are some excerpts provided by an SC reader:
10) Draw direct parallels between Israel and America—including the need to defend against terrorism.
The language of Israel is the language of America: “democracy,” “freedom,” “security,” and “peace.”
12) No matter what you are asked, bridge to a productive pro-Israel message. When asked a direct question, you don’t have to answer it directly. You are in control of what you say and how you say it.
13) Talk about the future, not the past.
15) Use rhetorical questions. Avoid head on attacks of your opponents. Use a soft tone. Show regret that the Palestinians have been led so poorly.
17) K.I.S.S. and tell and tell again and again. A key rule of successful communications is “Keep It Simple, Stupid”. Successful communications is not about being able to recite every fact from the long history of the Arab-Israeli conflict. It is about pointing out a few core principles of shared values—such as democracy and freedom—and repeating them over and over again.
18) Avoid “analysis paralysis” and be pro-active.
22) Never, never, NEVER speak in declarative statements. Never.
• “Living together, side by side. This is the best way to describe the ultimate vision of a two-state solution without using the phrase.
HOW TO TALK ABOUT PALESTINIAN SELF GOVERNMENT & PROSPERITY
That said, it is important to note that there are effective ways to uphold the ultimate goal of a Palestinian self-government while legitimately questioning how soon the solution can be reached. This is the rhetorical area in which you need to operate.
5) The fight is over IDEOLOGY – not land; terror, not territory. Thus, you must avoid using Israel’s religious claims to land as a reason why Israel should not give up land. Such claims only make Israel look extremist to people who are not religious Christians or Jews.
THE LANGUAGE TACKLING A NUCLEAR IRAN
Note also the use of Arab nations to marginalize Iran. Just as we recommend in the chapter about Hamas, there is immense value in isolating Iran’s leadership as being out of step with Arab neighbors. Many Americans would be surprised to know that these nations are afraid of Iran, just like Israel. By surprising them, you open their minds to the rest of your message.
1) Talk about “a willingness to negotiate” and “Camp David” in the same sentence.
4) The settlements are necessary for the security of Israel.
Syrian Foreign Minister Walid al-Moallem that Damascus would not restart peace talks unless showed willingness to discuss a full withdrawal. (Jerusalem Post)
The Golan Heights are militarily strategic and a key water source
An aide to Israel’s prime minister has said Israel must keep a large part of the Golan Heights, rejecting Syria’s major demand for a peace deal.
The previous government held indirect talks with Syria, assumed to be based on returning the Golan Heights, occupied in 1967, in return for peace.
In June, Syrian President Bashar Assad said there was no partner for talks on the Israeli side.
Correspondents say the aide’s comments will serve to reinforce this view.
Syria has remained in a state of war with Israel since its 1948 foundation.
Israel took control of the Golan Heights, a strategic mountainous area now popular with Israeli holidaymakers, during the 1967 Six Day War.
The comments come amid a thaw in relations between the US and Syria.
US President Barack Obama has sent envoys on a series of visits, and Mr Assad recently invited the US president himself to Damascus.
US Middle East envoy George Mitchell recently visited Syria and said Damascus had an “integral role” in finding peace in the region.
But the government of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu stands to the right of his predecessor, Ehud Olmert.
Correspondents say the new government’s emerging position makes an Israeli-Syrian deal look unlikely.
“The position is that, if there is a territorial compromise, it is one that still leaves Israel on the Golan Heights and deep into the Golan Heights,” the aide, Uzi Arad, said in an interview with Israeli newspaper Haaretz.
He said the Israeli government was willing to resume negotiations with “no prior conditions”, but Israeli control of parts of the territory was necessary for “strategic, military and land-settlement reasons… needs of water, wine and landscape”.
Syria wants the entire territory back.
The Golan Heights is currently home to about 18,000 Israeli settlers and another 17,000 Druze Arabs loyal to Syria.
Top adviser to Netanyahu: Israel will not leave entire Golan even in peace deal
MATTI FRIEDMAN, Associated Press, July 10, 2009
Israel needs to retain part of the Golan “for strategic, military and settlement reasons. For water, landscape and wine,” said Arad. He nonetheless called on the Syrians to resume peace talks with Israel with no preconditions but “with each side aware of the other’s position.”……
Under U.S. pressure, Netanyahu has accepted the idea of a Palestinian state, an idea he long opposed. But in the Haaretz interview, Arad took a dim view of the Palestinian leadership, saying he saw not a government but a “disorderly constellation of forces and factions.”
There “could be worse” leaders than Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, Arad said. “But even with him I don’t see a real interest and desire to arrive at the end of the conflict with Israel. On the contrary. He is preserving eternal claims against us and inflaming them,” he said.
Syria: Israel’s most valuable partner for peace
By Jamal Bittar Friday, 07.10.2009, 05:17pm
The recent gesture by the Obama administration to re-open the U.S. embassy in Damascus and renew talks with the Syrian government was meant to lay the groundwork for a resumption of Israeli-Syrian talks under American auspices. There is indeed a window of opportunity for Israel to make peace with another Arab country, which if achieved, would ultimately bring peace to the whole region.
Many hardliners in Israel feel the U.S. has managed to find and support the only nation in the region that is actively anti-peace, and who will return absolutely nothing for peace. They say “this idea that Syria can produce peace is an old liberal idea.” But so was the idea that Egypt could produce peace, and it did. It still does. No more war, no more bloodshed on the Israel-Egypt border for over 30 years. How many young Israelis and Egyptians owe their lives to this “old liberal idea?”
Syria indeed has more to offer Israel than any other country in the region. The Syrians have the Golan Heights issue, in which it is supported by the international community. Syria borders Iraq and could have a significant impact on Iraq’s future. Syria has major influence in Lebanese politics, to Israel’s dismay. They carry the Hamas and Hizbullah cards in their hand and enjoy the alliance with Iran, which annoys and disturbs Israel. Therefore, Syria is the nearest and strongest enemy of Israel; you cannot rule them out. Syria can offer everything and nothing. It has a lot of support in the Arab world. Without a genuine peace with Syria, Israel will never have peace with the Palestinians; there will always be bloodshed.
By making a true friend of Syria, the U.S. can put all of these things on the table and perhaps negate them. All it would take is the return of the Golan Heights and a few billion dollars a year in aid. For Obama, this is the bargain of the century. The current investment in Israel has returned only thirty years of settlement expansion and failed peace efforts. It has raised a generation of Israelis who feel entitled to American aid and who balk at American influence.
If the U.S. had continued to alienate the Syrian regime, that could have increased the likelihood of an emergence of domestic tensions, notably among the Kurds and the Muslim Brotherhood. We have all seen the effects of such domestic tensions in Iraq. The U.S. cannot find a substitute for Bashar Assad’s regime. Unlike the case with Iraq, it is difficult to identify a prominent Syrian opponent to the Syrian leader, inside or outside of the country.
The new Assad has proven himself to be a man of principle making the best of a difficult agenda. His approach to negotiations with Israel is correct. Assad’s argument all along has been that the only way you can really get a systematic peace process going now is bringing in America to broker it. And the American role would be very important. It’s a tremendous challenge for the Obama administration diplomatically: nurse an agreement over the Golan Heights, which everybody seems to want, and use that to start talking about regional peace.
And that would mean bringing Iran into the process while holding off the Israelis. The Israelis are interested in a Golan Heights settlement because they see a settlement with Syria over the Golan Heights as an issue that would isolate the Iranians from the Syrians and, therefore, give the Israelis more leverage to go after Iran, if they choose to do so, if they view Iran as a strategic threat. They don’t view the Palestinian issue, whether Hamas or Fatah, as a strategic issue. The Israelis see it as a tactical issue. The problem for Israel is that the Syrians have a different motive for dealing with it. They’re not interested in walking away from the Iranian agreement.
If the Obama administration can get into a possible settlement of the Golan Heights dispute, land for peace, we can get a regional peace process going. And then the United States would have to also accept the idea that Iran should participate. Richard Holbrooke recently talked about the inevitability of having Iran involved, because for the United States, you have to look at the idea of having Syria, Turkey and Iran all together, all border countries playing an enormous role in making sure that the Iraqis — as we walk out of Iraq, and making sure that that happens safely— have a lot to say about what’s going to happen inside Iraq. They can be moderating influences. Therefore, we can see the potential for an enormous sort of a change in the paradigm.
President Obama is looking for partners for peace in the Middle East. It takes brilliant and courageous leaders to make bold and decisive decisions; Israel has lacked those leaders due to corruption and a total disregard for the safety and peaceful existence of the Jewish state.
For decades, Israel has been able to indulge their greed for Arab land and their greed for American support at the same time. Now the time has arrived in which they will have to choose one and let go of the other. It still seems a good deal. Better be careful not to lose both.
The writer is professor of interdisciplinary studies at the University of Toledo.
Syrian President dissolves the Office of National Security (Maktab al-`amn al-qawmi) and replaces it with a National Security Council (Majlis al-`amn al-watani).
The Office of National Security is appointed by the REgional Command of hte Baath Party. The new body will be civilian and subject to the regular laws of government employment.
We must wait to see if the President will establish the new body under his office as president or under his office as leader of the Regional Command of the Baath Party. In theory, if he reestablishes the body under his authority as president and not as head of the Baath Party, the authority of the Baath Party will be diminished.
الرئيس السوري يلغي مكتب الأمن القومي
خاص (كلنا شركاء)
10/ 07/ 2009
علمت ( كلنا شركاء) أن السيد الرئيس بشار الأسد قد أصدر مرسوماً ذي الرقم 36 لم يعمم , يقضي بإلغاء مكتب الأمن القومي واستبداله بمجلس للأمن الوطني من مهماته رسم السياسات الأمنية في سورية. وجاء في المرسوم ان العاملين في هذا المجلس هم عمال مدنيون يتم توظيفهم وفق قانون العاملين الموحد وهو القانون الذي يخضع له كل العاملون في المؤسسات والشركات والإدارات المملوكة من الحكومة , ويرأس حالياً مكتب الأمن القومي الذي هو احد مكاتب القيادة القطرية لحزب البعث الحاكم في سورية الرفيق اللواء هشام اختيار الذي اختير لهذا المنصب في المؤتمر القطري الاخير الذي عقد في حزيران 2005 , وكان يرأسه قبل ذلك الرفيق محمد سعيد بختيان والذي تم ترفيعه ليصبح نائباً لرئيس حزب البعث في نفس المؤتمر .
والقيادة القطرية تضم 14 عضو وهي أعلى هيئة قيادية تدير سياسة حزب البعث الحاكم في سورية وتجتمع اسبوعيا لاتخاذ القرارات في المواضيع المطروحة مرتين : المرة الأولى يوم الثلاثاء وهو اجتماع مكاتب القيادة ويطلق عليه اسم اجتماع ” متفرغون ” ويوم الاربعاء وهو لكل اعضاء القيادة القطرية ما عدا السيد الرئيس الذي نادراً ما يحضر واذا ما قرر الحضور فانه يطلب اعضاء القيادة جميعاً للحضور للاجتماع به في القصر الجمهوري ، بينما مكتب الامن القومي يجتمع أسبوعيا في مقره الكائن مقابل منزل السفير الأميركي وذلك على مستوى قادة الاجهزة الامنية الأربعة مع رئيس المكتب وذلك للتنسيق فيما بينها بالمسائل الامنية اضافة لرفع التوصيات المتعلقة بالقضايا الامنية على مستوى البلد وبكل السياسات الداخلية والخارجية المتعلقة بالأمن القومي ورفعها للسيد الرئيس لاقرارها .
ولم يتبين حتى الساعة الطريقة التي سينفذ بها المرسوم والآلية التي ستتبع لإدارته واختيار عناصره ولكن من الواضح ان هناك رغبة في توسيع قاعدة المشاركة في صياغة القرارات المتعلقة بالامن القومي بدل ان تكون مرتبطة بمجموعة ضباط لتتوسع وتضم مدنيين ذووخبرات يعرفون العالم ويحسنون الحديث بلغته !
اضافة لتنسيق العمل التقليدي وضبطه بدل شنططة المواطن وبهدلته بالتنقل بين الفروع الامنية الكثيرة ومراجعتها كلا على حدة لنفس السبب
ولكن الامر الاخطر والذي قد يكون هو المحرك الرئيسي وراء هذا القرار هو هل سيرتبط المجلس الجديد بشخص السيد بشار الاسد بصفته رئيساً للجمهورية او بصفته اميناً قطريا لحزب البعث العربي الاشتراكي ؟
لانه اذا كان الامر بصفته رئيس الجمهورية فهذا يعني سحبه من مظلة حزب البعث الحاكم وهي قد تعتبر اكبر خطوة لاضعاف حزب البعث منذ عام 1963 بسحب ذراعه الامنية منه
وخصوصا ان القانون يعتبر ان ادارة امن الدولة تتبع لحزب البعث ويتم استخدام مكتب الامن القومي لدراسة جميع المرشحين لشغل كل وظائف الدولة من الصغير للكبير يعني من الآذن والفراش الى رئيس الوزراء حيث ترسل القيادة القطرية اسماء المرشحين لشغل الوظائف له ليعيدها مع تقييمات الاجهزة الامنية لكل الاسماء وبهذه الطريقة تقوم القيادة القطرية بتقييم ومن ثم تعيين شاغلي الوظائف العامة .
وسنوافيكم تباعا بما يستجد حول هذا الموضوع اضافة للدراسات التي بناءاً عليها تم اتخاذ القرار وخلفياته وكيفية تنفيذه
Injured Liberty crewmembers are escorted to a memorial service on the deck of the aircraft carrier America on June 10, 1967. (National Archives – National Archives)
THE ATTACK ON THE LIBERTY: Book review in the Washington Post
By John Lancaster
Sunday, July 12, 2009
The Untold Story of Israel’s Deadly 1967 Assault on a U.S. Spy Ship …..
The record of the Navy’s civilian and military leadership was less inspiring. Though privately furious, U.S. officials lied about the nature of the Liberty’s mission and, Scott writes, were so eager to avoid stirring up public anger toward Israel that at one point they contemplated scuttling the ship to prevent news organizations from photographing the damage. Adm. John McCain, Jr., the father of the Arizona senator and 2008 presidential candidate, comes in for especially sharp criticism. As the head of the Navy’s inquiry, Scott writes, McCain understood that a “report critical of Israel would trigger diplomatic ramifications for the State Department and create domestic political trouble for the beleaguered White House, which now wanted to deemphasize the attack.” As a consequence, he contends, McCain barred his investigators from traveling to Israel to interview the attackers and allowed only a week to complete the probe, “less time than it took to bury some of the dead.” …..
Scott cites transcripts of conversations between the Israeli pilots and air controllers in Tel Aviv to show that at least some Israeli commanders were aware of the Liberty’s identity before the attack. He also shows that many U.S. officials — including then-CIA director Richard Helms — were privately scornful of Israel’s explanation. Some believed the attack may have been ordered by a battlefield commander who feared that Israel’s combat orders, if detected by the Liberty, might somehow leak to the Arabs.
Scott clearly has his own suspicions, though he produces no smoking-gun evidence to support the charge of a deliberate attack, perhaps because none exists. In that sense, his book is likely to disappoint the conspiracy theorists as much as it angers proponents of the “fog of war” defense offered by Israel. But Scott is wise to leave the speculating to others. The story is shocking enough as it is.