Syrian Israeli Peace Process

Posted by Qifa Nabki

There is a new topic over at Creative Forum, and many of Syria Comment's regulars have weighed in. The theme of discussion is:

The Syrian-Israeli Peace Process 

Question: "Syria and Israel have embarked upon peace negotiations. How optimistic or pessimistic are you about their chances of success? If you had to lay out the terms for an acceptable deal, taking into consideration expectations and worries of Syria's allies, as well as other regional powers, what shape would it take?"

There are many noteworthy contributions; here is just a little sampling:

Alon Liel: "In 2000, it was still possible to trade the Golan for a peace agreement with Syria without discussing the overall regional situation; today, eight years later, that simple bilateral equation seems totally inadequate. Since then, Syria has allied itself with Iran, and with other reactionary terrorist forces of the Islamic world. Detaching it from the extremist embrace will be difficult—difficult, but not impossible…"

Ayman Hakki: "Syrians and Israelis love to talk politics, and that’s why this peace initiative is being discussed, but at heart they are mercantile people who share a y-chromosome that resonates to the music of cha ching."

AnotherIsraeliGuy: "As for Syria, it is unlikely that it is interested in peace with Israel. It is much more interested in a peace process only and with peace (or at least a cease fire) with the US. As the self proclaimed leader of the Arab resistance, Asad has much to lose from a peace deal with Israel."

Abufares: "My first concern is the consequences of a Syrian Israeli peace treaty on the Palestinians. They must not pay for our peace in any shape or form. Then I certainly would not accept a humiliating peace, not for myself nor for my enemy. “Give to Ceasar what belongs to Ceasar!” The Golan Heights must be returned to Syria."

Offended: "If I am to conjure up a physical metaphor to the conflict between Syria and Israel; I can only think of it as a devastating oil spill that is spread miles and miles across an exquisite seaside. It’s disastrous by all means. But while the proprietor of the oil carrier and the GreenPeace activists are stomping the snots out of each other, the spill grows bigger and bigger. And this is indeed what we’ve got in our hands at the moment: a terrible mess that requires nothing less than the efforts of all those involved to contain it."

Shai: "On Wednesday, May 21st, 2008, the ground shook in the Middle East. Two separate and significant conflicts suddenly and simultaneously headed in the right direction – that of peace. The warring Lebanese factions meeting in Doha at last reached an agreement, after 18 months of great tension, and Israel and Syria announced the restart of formal peace talks, after 8 years of near-silence… Is there room, therefore, for optimism? Certainly there is."

Nour Chammas: "The Syrian position has been clear and consistent throughout; namely that they have adopted peace as a strategic choice and that the Golan will be returned to Syria one way or another. Syria has consistently maintained an open door for any potential negotiations over a just peaceful settlement with respect to the return of its occupied land and the preservation of its national rights."

Be sure to read the rest of the articles, leave comments, and don't forget to vote!

Comments (129)


1. Nur al-Cubicle said:

Embarked on the bridge to nowhere. Olmert does not have the credentials for such a momentous bargain.

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May 29th, 2008, 5:56 pm

 

2. Shai said:

Nur,

You’re probably right about Olmert. But if Barak realizes that he’ll most likely lose to Netanyahu if elections are held soon, he may yet remain in the coalition, even under a new Kadima leader (Tzipi Livni, Avi Dichter, Shaul Mofaz, etc.) So we don’t necessarily need Olmert to be at the helm for talks to continue, or even succeed.

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May 29th, 2008, 6:33 pm

 

3. Seeking the Truth said:

ANOTHERISRAELIGUY said:
Why would there be a war?

AIG, are you inclined to exclude the possibility of even a tit-for-tat escalation in the next few years, if the parties concerned still don’t have peace agreements?

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May 29th, 2008, 7:20 pm

 

4. norman said:

Dichter: Syria peace could change the region

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Yaakov Lappin , THE JERUSALEM POST May. 29, 2008

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In his first response to indirect peace talks with Syria, Public Security Minister Avi Dichter gave a cautious welcome to the prospect of peace with Damascus on Thursday, saying it “could change the reality in the whole area.”

Speaking during a ‘Challenges to Homeland Security’ international conference in Jerusalem, Dichter added that Syria must disband the headquarters of Hamas and Islamic Jihad.

“For 10 years, Syria has hosted the Hamas and Islamic Jihad terrorist groups. A peace process with Syria is undoubtedly a strategic maneuver which can lead to a different reality in Lebanon, and for the entire area,” Dichter said, addressing security chiefs and ministers from nine countries.

“[But] the headquarters of Hamas and Islamic Jihad cannot be tolerated by Israel, and cannot accompany peace talks. They must be gotten rid of as a condition for effective talks,” he said, in an apparent reference to preconditions for direct negotiations.

During his speech, Dichter said Iran was the last remaining state sponsor of terror, calling on the world community “to harm” the Islamic Republic.

“Today, Iran is pushing regimes like Lebanon to host on its soil terrorist organizations such as Hizbullah, which is the largest terrorist organizations in the world. It is a terrorist army. Iran has used and still uses Hizbullah as a proxy to carry out attacks,” Dichter said.

“The development of nuclear weapons by a state with terrorist thinking is a lethal development,” he added.

Dichter did not address the suspicions of bribery and political firestorm enfulging Prime Minister Ehud Olmert during his address.

Earlier, Dichter expressed optisim over the direction of the global battle against terrorism, saying that the “second half of the first decade of the new century looks different to the first half.” He said he believed “the terrorist genie can be put back in the bottle. Terrorist groups don’t have a real strategy… they attack when they have the opportunity to.”

Dichter called on Miri Firstenberg, a survivor from the 1954 ambush on an Egged bus from Eilat to Be’er Sheva, to the stage. During that assault, terrorists boarded the bus and shot each passenger separately from close range, murdering 11 people. Dichter described Firstenberg, a mother and a
grandmother, as “the living proof that terror can strike states, but it cannot defeat them.”

——————————————————————————–

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This article can also be read at http://www.jpost.com /servlet/Satellite?cid=1212041424377&pagename=JPost%2FJPArticle%2FShowFull

[ Back to the Article ]

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

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May 29th, 2008, 7:26 pm

 

5. ausamaa said:

A Syria-Israel peace talks or negotiations? One that takes into considerations, or will run -or even not run- parallel to a Palestinian and Lebanese ones NOW??? Guys, beleiving that something like this is happening right now is not only day dreaming, it is total self deception!

Fogive me for asking, but has Israel joined the United Appeal and became a charity State all of a sudden?? Or has the balance of power tilted against Israel so decisively without us noticing? And is starving Gaza an apperation or a cunning trust-building measure intended to give additional motivation to Arabs so they can really pursue peace with Israel?

Get real, its a game. and if you believe that Syria beleives in it seriously, then try to tell us what is it that the Syrian Military delegation was doing in Moscow only a few days ago? And what was it that Syria’s General Rustmani was signing in Tehran earlier this week?

Olmert is playing his game, other Israeli politicians are watching how far he can get so they can add the moves to their future game plan books, the Syrians are not buying any of it but are tagging along for their own reasons, and we are giving our enthusiastic and expert opinion on the matter…

WOW… discussing this is more fun than watching a re-run of ET!

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May 29th, 2008, 7:48 pm

 

6. Alex said:

Ausamaa,

So are you saying that you don’t like watching ET?

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May 29th, 2008, 7:51 pm

 

7. ausamaa said:

Alex,

Ni I do. But there are so many ETs running around me here in the Gulf that make watching the original ET fade by comparison.

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May 29th, 2008, 8:02 pm

 

8. ausamaa said:

Alex,

No I do. But there are so many ETs running around me here in the Gulf that make the original ET fade by comparison.

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May 29th, 2008, 8:02 pm

 

9. Shai said:

Ausamaa,

Let’s assume you’re right. But then, what choice do we have? War? Another bloody, perhaps catastrophic, regional war? Would that serve the interests of any of the parties better? Or would that seal their fate for another 60 years? Maybe this so-called opportunity is a mere hoax. Each side (leader) playing along for his own reason, but not for his people’s sake. But let’s at least try it, giving it the benefit of the doubt, and see what happens. I’m not overly optimistic, but I can’t allow myself to be pessimistic either. For if I am, then nothing matters anymore. I might as well close the shop, take my children far away from here, and give up. Can we really do that?

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May 29th, 2008, 8:02 pm

 

10. EHSANI2 said:

The Syrians Defense Minister is “Turkumani” and not “Rustumani”.

Lacking an official word from the White House itself, these talks are going nowhere. If anything, the tone from the White House is decidedly more hawkish and not less when it comes to Syria.

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May 29th, 2008, 8:03 pm

 

11. ausamaa said:

Shai,

Never mind me. It is just that I am an old style realist who believes that the Balance of Power dictates everything, not the good intentions, or the wisdome -or lack of it-, on the part of warring combtants. And as of now, I still do not see any signs of a Tipping-point except on the book store shelves.

But go right ahead, Don’t let me, or even Uri Avneri spoil the fun…

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May 29th, 2008, 8:11 pm

 

12. ausamaa said:

Ehsani,

You are right, and I even forgot if he was the MOD or the Chief of Staff? And have you noticed how serious the Syrian delgates looked during the signing cermony??

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May 29th, 2008, 8:16 pm

 

13. Alex said:

Ehsani,

Well … this is great news … from This white house.

http://www.politico.com/news/stories/1107/6994.html

Maybe we should learn by now to NOT be interested in what they say .. they are either not telling the truth, or they are telling the truth, but their efforts will continue to lead to the exact opposite results.

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May 29th, 2008, 8:16 pm

 

14. Shai said:

Ausamaa, it is good to be a realist, and i agree with you about the balance of power needing to change. But if things aren’t moving the way they should, what are our choices? Are we sure the status quo can stay this way for long? I’m still concerned about someone lighting the match…

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May 29th, 2008, 8:27 pm

 

15. offended said:

Sarkozy has just finished a long, candid and apologetic phone call to his Excellency president Asad!

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May 29th, 2008, 8:30 pm

 

16. Alex said:

Offended … link please!

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May 29th, 2008, 8:32 pm

 

17. offended said:

Alex, nothing yet but this one from Syria News
http://www.syria-news.com/readnews.php?sy_seq=77345

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May 29th, 2008, 8:34 pm

 

18. Seeking the Truth said:

This peace process looks to me dead in the water, but I think I’ll feel pleasantly surprised if it proves to be otherwise.

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May 29th, 2008, 8:35 pm

 

19. Alex said:

http://www.iht.com/articles/reuters/2008/05/29/europe/OUKWD-UK-SYRIA-FRANCE.php

DAMASCUS: French President Nicolas Sarkozy praised Damascus’ efforts to help end the 18-month Lebanon crisis during a phone call with his Syrian counterpart Bashar al-Assad on Thursday, Syrian state media reported.

The call signalled a thaw in relations between Syria and France, which last year rebuked Damascus over what it said was its failure to help resolve the conflict. In December Sarkozy ordered his government to halt diplomatic contacts with Syria.

A deal mediated by Qatar this month ended the standoff between Lebanon’s ruling coalition and an opposition alliance led by Hezbollah — a group backed by both Damascus and Tehran.

Sarkozy, whose foreign minister failed last year to mediate an end to the crisis, “praised the intensive efforts made by (Assad) to make the Doha agreement succeed”, Syrian news agency SANA reported.

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May 29th, 2008, 8:36 pm

 

20. ausamaa said:

Alex, Offended

I dont think Sarkozy called President Assad to thank him. Thank him for what? The opposition has got what it wanted so what is there for Sarkozy to thank Assad for?

I think the purpose of the call was actually to “request and encourage” Syria to try to convince the Opposition of accepting something bad and nasty that the Siniora is still being “requested” to pursue by his Saudi and neocon bosses. Assad must have also told Sarkozy that he had not had enough time to check on what is happening “there”, and that he always believed that the Lebanese should be left to solve their problems alone without interference from the outside…

Now Sarkozy is calling Cairo and Saudi to thank them as well perhaps, and both will also ask him: what for????

It seems there is an ACT II to the unending Beirut drama….

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May 29th, 2008, 9:23 pm

 

21. ausamaa said:

This is from the Moon of Alabama http://www.moonofalabama.org/

(but in my opinion, dont believe it, Americans have not gone totaly insane)

May 29, 2008

Administration Shake-Up Imminent
WASHINGTON D.C. (RBN) – RBN has learned of imminent changes in key government positions as launch of a “last push phase” of the Bush administration. The moves were confirmed by two senior administration officials directly involved in the current reorientation.

Secretary of State Condolezza Rice is expected to resign within weeks to pursue a new academic position at Stanford University. Her current position will be filled by Stephen J. Hadley, currently the National Security Advisor. Elliot Abrams, now the Deputy National Security Advisor for Global Democracy Strategy will be promoted to head the National Security Council.

As was rumored earlier, Christopher Hill, Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs, will also leave the administration. His position has been offered to John R. Bolton, former Permanent US Representative to the UN and currently of counsel to the law firm Kirkland and Ellis.

As the sources explained to RBN these moves were initiated to allow a more “forceful pursuit of the President’s aim to make history.”

This week a Wall Street Journal editorial attacked Rice for not taking a sufficiently militaristic stand against Iran. On the same page the Iranian exile Amir Taheri remarked how she “proffered” negotiations with “Iran’s mullahs.”

In what amounted to a political obituary, a recent essay in the Weekly Standard by Vice-President Cheney’s biographer Stephen F. Hayes accused Rice of “jettisoning of the Bush Doctrine.” Hayes alleged her of circumventing the political process by allowing her Assistant Secretary Christopher Hill, to negotiate with North Korea.

According to our sources additional shake ups in the cabinet are planed, but have been delayed. So far no potential successor was found for Secretary of the Treasury Paulson. Paulson had warned of severe economic consequences of further wars in the Middle East. The nomination of Paul Wolfowitz as new Secretary of Defense is held up by “hefty resistance” on Capitol Hill, the sources say.


h/t Jim Lobe

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May 29th, 2008, 9:35 pm

 

22. AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Seeking,
There is always a very small chance of war, but in my opinon, a war is very very very unlikely. If the Syrians did not go to war over the bombing of their nuclear facility, what would they go to war over? They did not even ask Hizballah to retaliate for this.

War is very expensive economically to both sides but since Israel will cause much more damadge in Syria and Israel’s economy is much larger than the Syrian one, the result of a war will be disastrous for Syria. Furthermore, a war will halt any economic reforms in Syria for a very long time. The Syrians will have to be pushed really really hard for them to start a war.

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May 29th, 2008, 10:18 pm

 

23. majedkhaldoun said:

محافظة دمشق.. اعتبارا من الاسبوع القادم وقوف السيارات بجانب الارصفة في اسواق ومركز المدينة مأجور

This is good decision,long due, and I hope it will extend to include the area next to my house,Abdulmunem Ryad Street.between 6 pm-12 midnight

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May 29th, 2008, 11:32 pm

 

24. norman said:

Alex , I put it for you this morning , you might have been buisy,

norman said:

Syrian media says Sarkozy praises Assad in call

Reuters
Thursday, May 29, 2008
DAMASCUS: French President Nicolas Sarkozy praised Damascus’ efforts to help end the 18-month Lebanon crisis during a phone call with his Syrian counterpart Bashar al-Assad on Thursday, Syrian state media reported.

The call signalled a thaw in relations between Syria and France, which last year rebuked Damascus over what it said was its failure to help resolve the conflict. In December Sarkozy ordered his government to halt diplomatic contacts with Syria.

A deal mediated by Qatar this month ended the standoff between Lebanon’s ruling coalition and an opposition alliance led by Hezbollah — a group backed by both Damascus and Tehran.

Sarkozy, whose foreign minister failed last year to mediate an end to the crisis, “praised the intensive efforts made by (Assad) to make the Doha agreement succeed”, Syrian news agency SANA reported.

There was no immediate word from Paris on the phone call.

France, Lebanon’s former colonial power, backed the ruling coalition through the crisis, along with the United States and Arab countries including Saudi Arabia.

The Lebanon conflict turned violent this month, killing 81 people and triggering the Qatari-led mediation bid.

The Doha agreement secured the opposition’s demand for veto power in a new cabinet and paved the way to the election of army chief Michel Suleiman as president on Sunday. Lebanon had been without a president since November.

Syria dominated Lebanon until 2005 when the Beirut assassination of statesman Rafik al-Hariri triggered international pressure that forced Damascus to withdraw troops from its neighbour.

But Damascus still wields substantial influence over politics in Lebanon through allies including Hezbollah and the Amal movement.

(Editing by Mary Gabriel)

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Notes:

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Copyright © 2008 The International Herald Tribune | http://www.iht.com

May 29th, 2008, 2:27 pm

Shai said:

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May 30th, 2008, 12:47 am

 

25. ALEX_No said:

The Moon of Alabama story was a joke, well – satire.

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May 30th, 2008, 7:32 am

 

26. ausamaa said:

From Al Safir newspaper:

http://www.assafir.com/channels.aspx?EditionId=951&ChannelId=21593

مطعـم دمشـقي فـي موسوعـة غينـيس

تسلم مطعم «بوابة دمشق» امس شهادة كتاب غينيس للأرقام القياسية بعد احتلاله المركز الاول فى العالم من حيث العدد، بحضور مندوبين عن الكتاب وفعاليات رسمية سورية.
وقال مدير المطعم مهند السمان أن دخول بوابة دمشق بمطاعمه الستة وبوابته النسخة المصغرة عن آثار تدمر السورية في كتاب غينيس هو فخر لكل السوريين وكسب إضافي للسياحة السورية، وتشمل مطاعم بوابة دمشق الواقعة على طريق المطار شمال جنوب دمشق، مطعما هنديا وآخر صينيا وخليجيا وإيرانيا ومطعما شرقيا ومطعما للمأكولات السورية.
وقال قصي هلسا أحد مندوبي مؤسسة غينيس إن «بوابة دمشق» الذي دخل كتاب غينيس نجح في كل الاختبارات والامتحانات لتمكنه من وجود 6012 كرسيا، هو حجم استيعابه لضيوفه، ليصبح المطعم الأول في العالم من حيث العدد متفوقاً على مطعم في تايلاند كان هو الأول بسعة خمسة آلاف كرسي لزبائنه. وأشار الى أن مندوبة غينيس حضرت من بريطانيا وتحققت من الشروط التي تؤهل المنشأة للدخول في الموسوعة.( د ب أ)

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May 30th, 2008, 9:17 am

 

27. norman said:

France’s Sarkozy Resumes Contact With Syria

Source:Middle East

France says President Nicolas Sarkozy telephoned his Syrian counterpart Thursday to discuss recent political developments in Lebanon and peace negotiations with Israel.

A statement from Mr. Sarkozy’s office says the French leader called Syrian President Bashar al-Assad as part of a French pledge to reopen high-level contact with Damascus. It says the two had promised to revive contact once there was evidence of “tangible” progress toward ending Lebanon’s political crisis.

France says Mr. Sarkozy also expressed his support for renewed peace talks between Syria and Israel. The two countries confirmed last week that Turkey has been indirectly mediating their peace talks for more than a year.

Syrian state media reported earlier Thursday that Mr. Sarkozy hailed Mr. Assad’s role in recent Arab-mediated talks in Doha that led to Lebanon’s presidential election last Sunday.

Relations between Syria and France had been tense since Paris criticized Damascus last year for failing to help solve Lebanon’s political deadlock.

Lebanon had been without a president since November due to the stalemate between its government and opposition.

Lebanon’s parliament elected a consensus candidate, army chief General Michel Suleiman, as president Sunday following the Arab-brokered peace talks in Doha.

By VOA News
29 May 2008

http://www.voanews.com/english/2008-05-29-voa56.cfm

Copyright © 2005 Journal of Turkish Weekly http://www.turkishweekly.net/news.php?id=55797

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May 30th, 2008, 3:03 pm

 

28. why-discuss said:

No wonder Finkeinstein is persona non grata in democratic, free press Israel.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bDe65-nF3FQ

even though he says he admires jews a thousand times more than arabs because jews “don’t forget and don’t forgive”

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May 30th, 2008, 3:42 pm

 

29. Akbar Palace said:

Why-Discuss claims:

…because jews “don’t forget and don’t forgive”…

Why-Discuss,

The best example I can offer to you proving your comment is completely outrageous is the warm relationship the GOI has with Germany.

So do us a favor, tell us about how the jihadist world is so “forgiving”. When will they recognize Israel?

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May 30th, 2008, 3:53 pm

 

30. Observer said:

This post today is just worth reading
An Open Letter to Defense Minister, Ehud Barak

Here’s the Truth You’ve Been Running From
By BASSAM ARAMIN

Honorable General Ehud Barak, you don’t know me personally. I am a seeker of peace, and I struggle with all my strength and ability for the realization of a just peace that will bring calm and prosperity to Palestinians and Israelis together. I have suffered personally from your criminal occupation and I have paid a heavy price. Firstly, I was imprisoned when I was 17 years old and wasted seven years of my life in your barbaric prisons. Secondly, have you perhaps read or heard about what happened to the young girl Abir Aramin? She was a ten-year-old whom your soldiers killed with a rubber bullet from a distance of 15 feet on January 16, 2007 in front of her eleven-year-old sister Areen. Despite this I, the father of Abir — may she rest in peace — believe in the right of the Israeli person, as in the right of all people, to exist and to live in peace and security. So why do you not believe in our right to enjoy these same things, sir?

Where was the democratic nature of your state when your heroic soldiers killed my daughter before the eyes of her friends at the entrance to her school in Anata? Where were your democratic ideals when you closed the investigation file into Abir’s murder for lack of sufficient evidence, this despite the fact that the crime is clear and was committed in front of more than ten witnesses? Was Abir really a threat to your soliders, sir?

I carry in my possession the weapons with which Abir threatened those soldiers. I have in my hand her school backpack, reinforced and armored, of course — the mechanical pencil she had, laden with dangerous lead cartridges, and her math book in which class she had a test the same day, which of course included detailed instructions on how to prepare chemical weapons. In addition to all this, she had a sharp ruler, which could for sure be used as a weapon to stab someone. Lastly, I found in her possession two pieces of chocolate that perhaps contained a bit of enriched uranium that would have certainly brought devastation upon your state, if she hadn’t been tempted to take them in her hand for a taste seconds before she was shot.

Here I have to give your soldiers credit in their incredible ability to incapacitate and kill with such deadly accuracy. The bullet hit Abir exactly one centimeter from her hypothalamus—this caused her to immediately enter a coma and she died thereafter and went to dwell in the presence of God, sparing her the continuing pain and heartache herein expressed.

Thus, Abir Aramin can be added to the list of great successes and security accomplishments in the name of the state of Israel. But I request, Minister and General, in that I am the father of this young girl, at the very least an admission of responsibility for this murder, or its cause. It is your duty to bring the soldier who murdered Abir to court so he may be tried and judged a murderer and criminal.

I believe that there is no military solution to the conflict and when those cowards murdered my daughter, I announced that I did not want revenge, I wanted justice, even though revenge is much easier. The real fighter is one who chooses the harder path of the two for the sake of peace, and revenge is the path of the coward.

Sir, the Palestinian people cannot forever pay the price of the fear and suspicion of the Israeli people. Free my people from this abominable occupation so that your people may live in prosperity and be free from fear.

For sixty years, the Palestinian people have paid the price of the Israeli military occupation an occupation which, in celebration of the Israeli state’s inception, carries out acts of outright antagonism that spill the blood of Palestinian fighters, women, children and elders indiscriminately. It is the Palestinian general public that provides a target for your war machine that does not protect the small from the grown. Our people has faced the same murderer since Gaza in 1956 — and the never-ending series continues.

I will not remind you now of the massacres that your government committed against my people; you know them far better than I. I read about them, heard about them — but you took part in them.

The question I pose to you is this: in light of your rich military experience, and as someone who himself has seen sixty years of conflict go by, when will Israel have the strength to finish the conflict militarily and realize a complete victory over the Palestinian people? Do you continue to believe that what cannot be done by might may be done by more might? Does the occupation conceal in its bag of tricks additional methods of killing that the Palestinian people have not yet had the misfortune to know?

If this is the case, perhaps it is a good idea for the Israeli government to try and use those methods. And perhaps they will be able to accomplish that tantalizingly complete victory…in another 60 years.

Sir, when will you understand that the conflict between us cannot be ended with an army? For despite all the effort and conceit of the occupation, it could not stop the stones of our children from hitting your occupying soldiers. How will you be able to stop the Palestinian uprising? This is a dream that will never come true, even in another 1000 years. Why are you not telling this truth to the residents of Ashkelon and Sderot, that there is no solution that will stop the Qassam missiles flying at them from a destroyed and blockaded Gaza except if there would be an end to the occupation?

This is the truth you’ve been running from for a long time.

Believe me, sir, that you will gain nothing out of continuing to detain people. More than 750,000 Palestinians have been detained from 1967 until today. What result has been achieved except an increased determination on our part for confrontation and resistance?

The policy of occupation only creates more and more people who rise up to fight occupation and refuse to accept its burden. The Palestinian prisoners who sit in your jails are among the most learned and erudite of our people, those are the most sensitive and humanistic. They have become educated in the tradition of liberty and democracy—and for this reason they will never agree to accept the occupation and subjugation. It is these men and women who will fight for peace, and if you want to realize peace you have no option but to set free these soldiers of peace first and foremost.

How much have you really benefited from your strategy of home demolitions, uprooting of trees, confiscating lands for questionable reasons and then establishing illegal settlements on those same lands? How much has it helped you to set up disgraceful checkpoints in every corner and every road of the West Bank and Gaza and at each intersection for the purpose of humiliating the residents of those areas, among them workers, students and political leaders. What is the expediency of all this, sir?

When will the bloodthirsty bullets of your soldiers be sated by the blood of our children? When will you be satisfied with our blood that you have already spilled and leave us? When will you leave our waters and our heavens? Do you not see the helmets upon which your soldiers write, “I was born to kill”? Do you not see your brave men killing children every day? How can you decide to prevent the people of Gaza from acquiring cooking gas and at the same time send them teargas and tanks and warplanes?

Only now do I understand the will of an Israeli woman in Italy — my colleague Eidan and I met her when we participated in a peace march from Perugia to Assisi as representatives of Combatants for Peace. When I asked her, “You aren’t planning to return to Israel?” She answered me: “I swore that if Ehud Barak won the election, I will leave Israel forever.” She continues to live there because you act according to a policy that says there is no Palestinian partner.

I cannot begin to express in this short letter the enormity of the moral failures that have harmed Israeli society. The newspaper Yediot Ahronot said that 40 per cent of new recruits to the IDF have criminal records and this may go a long way in explaining the long list of acts against Palestinian civilians that they commit during their service. This is supposed to be the most distinguished, moral army in the entire world, no? Is this why we find that 25 per cent of the soldiers of the army of the occupation took part in instances of torture and punishment of innocent civilians or were witnesses to such acts?

Sir, I want to submit that I have read the shameful report that every person of conscience should be horrified by, that talks of the torture of children in Hebron. And this — the strangling of Palestinian children by soldiers to test how much time they can stand without breathing, incidents that were committed by captains in your army, the most moral army in the world, this is the crown of shame on the brow of the occupation.

Sir, how do you justify your soldier’s use of children aged 10 as personal shields that they tie to the front of your patrols when they search for wanted persons or break up a demonstration? Where does international law permit this? I am trying to understand if this use of children as human shields is in some way related to the science of modern warfare, for the accusation that I hear in all instances of the killing of children in particular and in the killing of Palestinian citizens in general is that the Palestinians fighters use citizens for human shields to hide behind. How can there be a legal justification and distinction even in the Israeli terminology, but not in the international terminology, between Israelis and Palestinians?

How can you justify the deaths of those innocents just trying to peacefully pass though the checkpoints that your soldiers put up at all entrances to villages, cities or camps that prevent pregnant women from walking to hospitals to deliver? Would you ever agree to let this happen to your wife? What would you do then?

There are, however, military men, Israeli soldiers that used to do battle with the Palestinian people who at the moment of truth found that they are no more than pawns in the hands of the occupation. They had the courage and the valor to announce unanimously that they refuse to be occupiers. They exposed the falsehoods of their leaders who claim that Israel is reaching out her hand for peace but she has no partner on the Palestinian side. They discovered that they had never met a real Palestinian fighter face-to-face in combat, and that instead their day-to-day work was chasing schoolchildren, enforcing closures, destroying houses and putting up checkpoints and roadblocks to stop children who aren’t even 13 years old. They took a moral and courageous stance and without any difficulty found themselves a Palestinian partner from within the heart of the Palestinian movement, people who wasted the spring of their youth in the prisons of your occupation. Together they founded the organization Combatants for Peace. The name itself exposes the false promises and the policy that says there is no partner for peace. This organization, united in courageousness and and morality, is made up of people from both sides who understand that there is only one shared enemy that conceals the path of realization of peace and life together as two nations. This enemy is the illegal and immoral Israeli occupation. I am a member of this organization, and I call upon all who are searching for a true peace to join us.

We tell our peoples the truth, only the truth. We are committed to nonviolent resistance to the occupation, and I call here, in this very missive, to the people of our Palestinian nation that have been inscribed in the pages of history as the epitome of resilience, that have had the humanity to withstand decades of abuse and occupation with the purest steadfastness. I call also upon the people in Israel to accept moral and historic responsibility for the establishment of these two states together, and for a national, humanistic, peaceful intifada, a rising up against this unjust occupation that has transformed your children into war criminals and to abject murderers. You Israelis — stop sending your soldiers — your sons — to kill our children, because the blood of our children and the blood of all those Palestinian innocents will chase your soldiers and the generals of your army to judgment in international courts as the rest of the war criminals in the world. You must learn this lesson. The honorable general must surely be aware that the majority of captains and generals in the Israeli army are forbidden from entering any European state for they will be wanted persons there, to be arrested and taken to court as war criminals and for crimes against humanity?

One last word – the blood of Abir will remain as a black crown on the brow of every Israeli and every Jew in the world until her murderer is brought to justice and passes the remainder of his days in jail, among the murderers and the criminals.

Bassam Aramin is co-founder of Combatants for Peace. Translation by Mimi Asnes.

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May 30th, 2008, 4:11 pm

 

31. AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

“The newspaper Yediot Ahronot said that 40 per cent of new recruits to the IDF have criminal records and this may go a long way in explaining the long list of acts against Palestinian civilians that they commit during their service.”

Only 40% have criminal recrods? I thought all Zionists were criminal. This guy is claiming that 40% of high school graduates in Israel have criminal records. The article is riddled with such lies.

“One last word – the blood of Abir will remain as a black crown on the brow of every Israeli and every Jew in the world until her murderer is brought to justice and passes the remainder of his days in jail, among the murderers and the criminals.”

Blatant antisemitism, all the Jews in the world are responsible for what one soldier did.

Mr. Aramin, I am sorry about your daughter but the blame lies squarely with Hamas who have not heeded your cry for non-violence and have not accepted the conditions of the quartet. I can only guarantee you that your situation will get much worse since it doesn’t seem that Hamas really care about the population in Gaza. It is their duty to make things better for you, it is not the duty of Israel to support those who shoot rockets at us.

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May 30th, 2008, 4:30 pm

 

32. Seeking the Truth said:

AnotherIsraeliGuy,

Do you think it is inevitable Israel with or without the USA will attack Iran over the nuclear program issue; and if so, would HA retaliate?

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May 30th, 2008, 5:25 pm

 

33. AnotherSyrianGuy said:

AIG,

I do not blame all Jews in the world, nor all Israelis for the crimes of Israel. However, I believe these crimes are taking place every day and on a large and appalling scale. I also believe that these crimes are not individual or reformable. They are part of what Israel is. Israel’s foundation was a crime against the Palestinian people and Israel goes on, in its current form, by committing such crimes. I know several Jews who agree with me, non of them Israeli I must say. Are they antisemetic? They can’t be. However, I am asking you something impossible. I am asking that as a people, you should realize the crime at the foundation of your country and do something to repair it. I am stupid to ask that, since no people in the world could think this way, except maybe after a huge military defeat. I do not believe Israel should disappear, nor that we should throw you in the sea. Not at all, you have the right to be in Palestine and to have self determination. What you don’t have the right to do is keep stealing the homes and the lives of a whole people. In fact they have the right to resist, because the fault is yours and the rights are theirs, but you do not have the right to hide behind your security, because you would be perpetuating a crime. Before asking the Palestinians whom you oppress and disposses and kill to stop reacting to that, you should start with your own selves.

That being said, I am not a fan of violence and not a fan of war and I do not want to see any more of that in this beautiful region we both inhabit. Also, I do not deny the existence of such a thing as the Jewish people nor its right to self determination. I am, in principle as you can see, for Israel. But the current form of Israel is organically criminal. Organically!

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May 30th, 2008, 5:30 pm

 

34. Qifa Nabki said:

Sami Moubayed has another excellent piece out. This one is entitled “Why Now?” and it deals with the Syrian-Israeli peace issue.

I’ve pasted an excerpt below. I think that he makes a lot of sense:

__________________________
“Why Now?”
By Sami Moubayed

To better understand the dynamics of the current Middle East crisis, it is important to note that although strategically allied on a basket of issues, the Syrians and Iranians do not have identical agendas for the Arab world. It is almost like British premier Winston Churchill and French president Charles de Gaulle during World War II. They had a common enemy indeed in Nazi Germany, but after that, they had very different visions for the Middle East.

The British wanted to help liberate the Arabs from the hated French Mandate system and replace the French in terms of political, military and economic influence in Syria.

And in today’s world, the Iranians want to create an Iranian satellite state in Iraq, which the Syrians do not want. They want to empower the religiously driven Shi’ite politicians, while the Syrians want to see secular nationalists in control of Iraq. The Iranians want autonomy for the Shi’ites in southern Iraq; the Syrians do not. The Iranians want a regional war of liberation against Israel, refusing to recognize any peace talks with the Jewish state. Since the Madrid Peace Conference of 1991, Syria has been committed to peace based on United Nations Security Council Resolution 242 (land-for-peace) and a return of the occupied Golan Heights to its June 4, 1967 border.

In the mid-1990s, Syria engaged in direct talks with Israel, under the auspices of the Bill Clinton White House, much to the displeasure of Iran. Then again in April 2007, it welcomed Nancy Pelosi, the speaker of the US House, to Damascus, carrying a message from Olmert. One month later in May, Foreign Minister Walid al-Mouallem met with US Secretary of States Condoleezza Rice in Sharm al-Sheikh in Egypt, which equally angered the Iranians. Reports of Iranian anger, carried in the Lebanese and Saudi press, circulated freely in Damascus.

It was almost as if the Syrians were telling the world: “We are allied but we have never let anyone dictate what we see is in our best national interest. And returning the Golan, by any means possible, peace talks included, is the highest priority for Syria, regardless of whether the Iranians or Arabs approve or disapprove talks with Israel.”

Shortly after the Syrian-Israeli talks started this time, indirectly though through the Turks, the Supreme Leader of Iran, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, met with Khaled Meshaal, the head of the political office of Hamas. Khamenei said, which some observers claim was a message intended for Syria to hear, “The only way to liberate Palestine is through brave resistance. Those who choose another path will be abandoned by God.”

Many speculated that if Syrian-Israeli peace ever materializes, left in the dark would be former allies like Iran, Hezbollah in Lebanon and Hamas. The Syrians have strongly stressed, however, that they will not abandon their allies, although logic states that if and when a peace treaty materializes, Syria will have to cease its support for Hamas and Hezbollah.

The Syrians are now walking a tight rope with the Iranians, wanting to prove that their friendship remains intact but also, stating loud and clear, that all options are still on the table for the Syrians. Iran is not the only ally for Damascus and isolation of the Syrian government has failed. There are the Turks, who are playing a newfound role in the region under Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan. There are the Qataris, who have emerged as Syria’s new “best friend” and who brokered the latest consensus between the Lebanese, through around-the-clock consultations with the Syrians.

And regardless of how tense things have been under Bush, there remains a door open to Washington once a new administration comes into power next January.

While many people are talking about regional and international gains from peace, the decision mainly stems from a domestic need to move forward.

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May 30th, 2008, 5:31 pm

 

35. Shai said:

Seeking,

If it’s ok with you, I’ll allow myself to answer that question, until AIG is back. No, it is not inevitable that Israel will attack Iran. Though the Iranian nuclear program is of grave concern to Israel, it would be best if we allowed for either a diplomatic solution to be found, or if there must be a military one, let it not originate in Israel. After such an attack, it is us Israelis that are still left in the region, not the Americans. They can come, bomb the hell out of Afghanistan, Iraq, Iran, whoever, and then they pack up and go. I don’t know what will happen if no solution is found, and if Israeli or Western intelligence finds clear signs of an active military nuclear program. Israelis fear this more than anything else right now, though personally I find it ridiculous. Even if Iran had 5 nuclear bombs, they still couldn’t destroy Israel. If they ever used them against us, they know what our response would be, and no Iranian leader in his right mind, religious or not, would cause that upon his people.

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May 30th, 2008, 5:48 pm

 

36. Shai said:

QN,

A very important article by Sami, which I will pass along to people here in Israel. Thank you for posting it. And thank you Sami for writing it, especially now.

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May 30th, 2008, 5:52 pm

 

37. Alex said:

For Israelis, Golan is home, not a bargaining chip
The strategic plateau is a linchpin in recently renewed Israeli-Syrian peace talks.
By Joshua Mitnick | Correspondent of The Christian Science Monitor

from the May 30, 2008 edition
E-mail Print Letter to the Editor Republish del.icio.us digg
Reporter head shot

Correspondent Josh Mitnick describes some of the natural beauty found in the Golan Heights on the Israeli-Syrian border.

Katzrin, Golan Heights – In the world’s eyes, this grassy, barren plateau is no different from the West Bank and Gaza Strip: territories occupied by Israel that should be relinquished in return for normal relations with Arab states. Captured from Syria in 1967, the Golan Heights is the linchpin for recently renewed Israeli-Syrian peace talks.

But to Israelis, the Golan is a peaceful part of their country, even a popular vacation spot. A movie at the “Golan Magic” tourist center in this Jewish settlement shows emerald grazing fields rather than the minefields left from war. The audience is sprayed with mist as a preview of waterfall hikes in the Golan’s lush canyons.

“Even more than the West Bank, people have grown up thinking of the Golan as part of Israel,” says Gershom Gorenberg, author of “The Accidental Empire,” a book about the Jewish settler movement. “It’s not dangerous to live there…. The whole set of images associated with the West Bank is not there.”

Unlike the West Bank or Gaza Strip

Though the world considers the 32 Israeli communities in these highlands illegal settlements, the Golan occupies a different place in Israel’s national psyche than the West Bank does. Israelis visit the Golan more than in the West Bank and even Arab neighborhoods in Jerusalem, which Israelis claim as their capital.

Now that the Golan is back on the bargaining table, Israeli residents there bristle at being compared with the hard-line religious-nationalist settlers of the West Bank and of the former Jewish communities in the Gaza Strip.

“We’re not missionaries. This is not a cult,” says tourist-center owner and Golan resident Haim Ohayon.

The settlers who moved to the Golan Heights came from secular kibbutzim farming collectives dominated by the dovish Labor Party. Unlike the religious settlers who view territories conquered in 1967 as an inalienable part of a biblical birthright, the farmers brought with them a greater willingness to compromise.

That’s why few Israelis refer to them as mitnachlim, the often derogatory Hebrew term for the residents in the West Bask and Gaza.

Golan residents also differentiate themselves from Israeli settlers there because, unlike those territories, the Golan has few Arabs. Some 90,000 Syrians fled or were driven out when Israel took over the territory in 1967, according to Israeli historian Benny Morris.

“What’s special about the Golan is that there are only Jewish communities,…” says Yoni Dolev, a St. Paul, Minnesota native who moved to the Golan 15 years ago. “I’m not a settler. The Golan Heights is a different story.”

The Golan Heights’ frontier between Israel and Syria has also been calmer than any other border zone since the 1973 Arab-Israeli war. And despite the heavy presence of military vehicles on the roads, residents question why a treaty with Syria is necessary when the Golan is more tranquil and more secure than even Tel Aviv.

With a mostly quiescent Arab population of just 18,000 Druze villagers, there isn’t any hint of the fear for personal safety that permeated the West Bank and Gaza after the start of the first Palestinian Intifada in 1987.

That allows Israelis to feel at home on day trips to ski slopes on the Hermon Mountain range here. They visit cherry orchards just a few hundred yards from the Syrian border fence and patronize the restaurants and bed-and-breakfasts in Druze villages.

The thin Syrian population also enabled Israel to pass legislation in 1981 that extended Israeli laws to the Golan in place of the military regime – a de facto annexation.

Reluctant to give it up

According to a recent public opinion poll sponsored by Israel’s Channel 2 news program, about two-thirds of Israelis oppose giving the Golan Heights back to Syria.

In addition to seeing the Golan as their own, Israelis say they are skeptical that giving back the territory will prompt a full normalization of ties with Syria, Israel’s stated goal.

Instead, they worry, it will leave northern Israel vulnerable to attack – especially with Hezbollah, the Shite militant group and Iranian ally, positioned just across the border in Lebanon.

Those concerns, along with disappointment from failed peace efforts of the 1990s and in recent years, and the rise of Islamic militancy, have soured many Golan residents on the idea of peace talks with Syria.

“I’m the first person that wants peace,” says Ronen Gilboa, a resident of Kibbutz Ein Zivan, sitting in an outdoor cafe surrounded by orchards that attracted 5,000 tourists every weekend last summer. “But I don’t believe it will happen in our generation.”

To be sure, there are ample Israeli politicians, military experts, and analysts who have advocated talking with Syria, even though the United States, Israel’s ally, refuses to engage its president Bashar Assad. A peace deal with Syria, the argument goes, would score a blow to the rising influence of Iran and its drive to become a regional superpower.

“Iran would be losing a big ally who it had firmly in its camp,” says Meir Javedanfar, coauthor of “The Nuclear Sphinx of Tehran.” “Relations with Israel will start impacting Syrian calculation when it comes to cooperation with Iran. It will also put pressure on relations with Hezbollah.”

Back at the visitors’ center, Mr. Ohayon holds business meetings in a souvenir shop. Would he resist a treaty that requires settlers to leave the Golan Heights? No, Ohayon says, “We’re not above the law.”

Like other residents here, his dream is for Israel to cut a deal with Syria that would allow Israel to remain on the Golan Heights. (He suggests a 200-year lease.)

But he admits it’s a less than realistic vision. “For peace with Syria, there needs to be a new world order,” he says.

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May 30th, 2008, 6:08 pm

 

38. Alex said:

Asharq is now doing tabloid news

وكالة إيرانية تطرح نظرية اغتيال السنيورة ووزير لبناني يعتبره تحريضا مكشوفا

الحريري يؤكد: الأجواء إيجابية.. وحزب الله يعلن استعداده للتفاوض حول السلاح
بيروت: «الشرق الاوسط» لندن: علي نوري زاده
فاجأ الوسط السياسي اللبناني امس خبر نشرته وكالة «انباء فارس» الايرانية تتهم فيه نقلا عن «مراقبين»، فريق الاكثرية وبالتحديد رئيس الهيئة التنفيذية للقوات اللبنانية سمير جعجع بتأييد ترشيح الرئيس فؤاد السنيورة لتأليف الحكومة «تحضيرا لاغتياله والاستفادة من دمه في الانتخابات ».

وفي حين اكتفى الرئيس السنيورة بكلمة «لا تعليق» بعدما اطلع على الخبر، حسب ما قالت مصادر حكومية لـ«الشرق الاوسط»، ردت القوات اللبنانية بقوة وقال ممثل «القوات» في الحكومة اللبنانية وزير السياحة جو سركيس ان هذا الكلام يأتي في اطار «التحريض المكشوف».»

ويبدأ السنيورة، اليوم استشارات لتشكيل الحكومة, وقال سعد الحريري زعيم تيار المستقبل: «أجواؤنا وأجواؤهم ايجابية. والحكومة سنشكلها معا».

في غضون ذلك، أعلن نائب الأمين العام لحزب الله نعيم قاسم استعداد الحزب للتفاوض على موضوع دور «المقاومة» في اطار حكومة وحدة وطنية. وأكد موافقة الحزب على ان تكون هناك «استراتيجية دفاعية، ويكون سلاح الحزب جزءاً منها».

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May 30th, 2008, 6:14 pm

 

39. Naji said:

Ambassador Sami Kheyami is on ANB, for the next hour or two, about the peace talks…!

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May 30th, 2008, 6:20 pm

 

40. Naji said:

Sami is giving a very impressive elucidation of Syria’s national position, ambitions/expectations, and strategy… vis-a-vis Israel and the peace process…! I am always impressed with this guy, whether on BBC’s HardTalk, or on a Lebanese talkshow…!

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May 30th, 2008, 6:53 pm

 

41. AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Seeking,
I think it is inevitable that either Israel alone or the US/Israel will attack Iran. Miracles could happen such as a regime change in Iran or Iran giving up its program because of international pressure but I view the chances for these as very slim.

Even if there is only 1% chance that an Iranian bomb will be used against Israel, Israel cannot afford this scenario. And with the regime in Iran clearly talking about our diappearance, it would be stupid not to take them seriously. Even if a US adminstration would be against Israel doing it, we would do it, just as in the Iraqi case.

Sometime in the next 2 years the attack will happen. Israel is giving the international community a little more time but I don’t think they will be able to do something useful.

As for Hizballah retaliating, I am quite sure they will not but it will certainly prove once and for all where their alliances lie, with Iran or with Lebanon.

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May 30th, 2008, 7:04 pm

 

42. Observer said:

Follow the liar to the doorstep. This is the proverb that I would apply to the current peace talks. I think Syria has everything to gain and nothing to lose from talking indirectly with Israel.
It will become the Jewel of the Crown of whichever power wants to influence events in the region be it Iran or the US. The call from Sarko le premier is an indication of the new reality on the ground.

The target is and remains Iran. Isolating Syria from it would prepare the ground for an attack. The drumbeat of an attack are ever increasing, talk of a blockade, new IAEA report, new six party proposals, accusations of meddling in Iraq, etc. etc.

I am not sure whether it is bluff and bluster or just a campaign to keep the Iranians off their guard.

Now that HA has scored in Lebanon, I fear the US has no choice but to attack. The latest bombshell book of McClellan a long time Texas days ally may put the brakes on a US action but on an Israeli move.

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May 30th, 2008, 7:11 pm

 

43. AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Shai,
You are so wrong you could not be more wrong. Leaders always do crazy things. There are countless historical examples. I am quite sure that the Iranians do not believe that we will nuke all their cities if a they smuggle an atom bomb into gaza and they blow up Ashkelon killing 100,000 people. After all how could we prove that the bomb was Iranian and even if we could, they think that the West will not let us do it because after all the Iranian citizens are not responsible for what their regime does.

Deterence based on MAD (mutually assured destruction) works only when it is clear who is perpetuating the attack and it is clear that the other side will retaliate. That is not our case since we know that Iran has no problem using terrorist organizations and we know they underestimate Israel. We really have no choice, we will have to attack Iran.

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May 30th, 2008, 7:13 pm

 

44. Naji said:

Alon Liel is on Al Jazeera for the next hour…!
Nobody can say that the Israeli point of view does not get a full airing on Arabic TV and media… I wonder if the Syrian point of view is getting the same treatment in Israel…?! Is Syria doing enough to put its point across to the Israeli public…?! Is the Israeli mainstream media doing enough to make the Syrian point of view crystal clear to the Israeli public…?!

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May 30th, 2008, 7:14 pm

 

45. wizart said:

Being a Good Counselor
What Skills Are Important in Effective Counseling
Iona K Lister

Jan 22, 2008

This defines counseling and describes skills of an effective counselor, including being non-judgmental, having warmth, genuineness, discretion and other specifics.

Counseling involves a process, the aim of which is to help others to help themselves by making better choices and becoming better choosers of options. The counselor’s repertoire of skills includes those of forming an understanding relationship, as well as interventions, focused on helping clients change specific aspects of their feeling, thinking and acting.

In a counseling relationship, the counselor and client work together to explore every aspect of the client’s circumstances, enabling the individual to re-evaluate his or her experiences, capabilities and potential.

Counselors facilitate full and confidential expression of the client’s feelings, without diverting any attention to their own feelings.

The responsibility for change is placed with the client. This means that when changes are made, they are self-motivated, and therefore more likely to last and to be effective. Self-reliance is a central tenet of counselling.

The counselor is perhaps the first person that the individual has met for a long time who truly listens without prejudice and whom he or she can trust utterly.

The potential to be a good counsellor can be shown if certain qualities exist.

Judgment

A good counselor is someone who can learn not to make judgments on behalf of the person being helped. Although counsellors have their own values, these should not be imposed on the client – and the counsellor must retain the ability to listen to and accept the views of clients with other standards.

Patience and Acceptance

A counselor rarely needs to use his or her self control in dealing with people, even those people who are not likeable.

Experience

Learning to grow into a more complete person from the experience of life’s hard knocks can be a valuable quality in a counselor.

Education

Formal degrees in psychology do not necessarily make good counsellors, but a common sense approach is not sufficient. Good counsellors are willing and able to learn about themselves and other people too.

Social Skills

It is not enough to be considered to be a good listener. Counselors learn through training how to perceive all aspects of verbal and non-verbal communication, and deliberately improve their listening skills by using appropriate techniques during counselling.

Genuineness and Warmth

Effective counsellors have a genuine interest in other people. This is often referred to as respect or unconditional positive regard for the person being helped. People who do not need others in their lives may find this sort of warmth to unknown people as being problematic.

Discretion

Counselors must show complete discretion, never revealing what others say or do within the counselling context. Confidentiality is paramount in counseling relationships.

Practice, Practice, Practice

Counseling requires a lot of training, followed by much practice. A current job that will allow the possibility of a helping role could be very useful.

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May 30th, 2008, 7:14 pm

 

46. Naji said:

Yes…, Observer…!

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May 30th, 2008, 7:16 pm

 

47. wizart said:

Cognitive Propaganda

Propaganda is like Cognitive Therapy in reverse. Cognitive Therapy is a psychological technique for curing irrational fear, hatred, anger, etc. It dissolves cognitive distortions by restructuring the language that led to those distortions.

Propaganda works in the reverse way: it uses language to induce cognitive distortions, often leading to irrational fear, hatred and anger, which is then used to justify an action (eg bombing a country).

The following is a list of cognitive distortions identified by Cognitive Therapy. Examples of corresponding propaganda are given (in blue):

1. Over-Generalising
“This is the world’s fight, this is civilization’s fight”
(George W Bush).
“Killing is a way of life for Afghans – it’s a barbaric culture” (seen on a newsgroup).

2. All-or-Nothing Thinking (eg black-and-white, either/or thinking; polarising at extremes).
“Either you are with us, or you are with the terrorists”
(George W Bush).
“It’s kill or be killed” (Jonathan Alter, Newsweek).

3. Labelling (eg repetitive name-calling; dismissing something via label, or emotional trigger-word).
“Terrorist”, “anti-American”, “appeaser”, etc.

4. Mind-reading (eg projections/assumptions about someone’s thoughts).
“They hate our freedoms” (George W Bush).
“American pacifists… are on the side of future mass murders of Americans” (Michael Kelly, Washington Post).

5. Emotionalising (eg valuing emotions over objective information).
“In our grief and anger we have found our mission”
(George W Bush).

6. Should-ing (eg Putting pressure on people to conform to “divine” rules. Statements containing “should”, “must”, “need to”, “have to”).
“We must be vigilant” (George W Bush).
“Now that we’ve started the bombing, we should see it through to the end – we need to have strong stomachs” (two examples in one sentence, heard on a BBC Radio 4 interview).
“We have to show our patriotism”.

7. Filtering (Over-focusing on one aspect of something to the exclusion of everything else).
Eg: focus on military solutions / exclusion of non-military solutions.

8. Can’t-ing (Imposing linguistic and semantic limits on oneself and others using the “can’t” or “cannot” word).
“It’s unfortunate, but we can’t avoid causing civilian casualties”.
“We can’t just sit back and hope diplomacy will work”.
“We cannot tolerate anti-American sentiments”.

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May 30th, 2008, 7:16 pm

 

48. AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Naji,
The Israeli press would love to interview any Syrian. The problem is with the Syrians that even in open press conferences they do not answer questions from the Israeli press.

By the way, Al-Jazeera has an office in Israel. Just to make clear, if 2/3 of Israelis are against returning the Golan, how is Alon who is for returning it a true representative of the Israeli point of view? This is what I find dishonest about Al-Jazeera. On the Arab side they give a platform to the craziest people that represent themselves and maybe their families. When it comes to Israel, they pick people that are on the left. But I will admit that even having Alon on is a big improvement for any Arab media. In Lebanon and most Arab countries interviewing him would be an act of treason.

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May 30th, 2008, 7:29 pm

 

49. Nour said:

Naji,

Could you give us an overview of what Sami said during his interview?

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May 30th, 2008, 7:30 pm

 

50. Shai said:

Naji,

You have a very good point about Syrian point of view exposed to Israelis. But for that, indeed we must be allowed access to Syrians. It is not enough to have Al Jazeera clips translated and shown on Israeli TV (which occurs quite often). We need to hear real Syrians talk. How do we achieve this? I’m open to any creative suggestion, and I want to make it happen.

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May 30th, 2008, 7:44 pm

 

51. Shai said:

AIG,

This Tom-Clancey-type vision, of ambiguous nuclear bombs going off in a soccer stadium in Ashkelon, leaving our smartest intelligence officers (and those of all the rest of our international allies) baffled, is really not serious recipe for future planning. We cannot, because we fear this scenario, assume that it will happen as such. But let’s even, for the sake of argument, assume it did. First, 100,000 people wouldn’t die. Maybe 10,000 would, if the bomb was placed at just the right location, at just the right time of day. In Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the ensuing fires caused most of the fatalities, not the actual bomb. Both cities were built mostly of wooden structures, and the fire simply consumed much of it almost immediately. Most buildings in Israel are built out of concrete, and are therefore going to slow the effects of the bomb, not expand them. Plus, with the exception of downtown Tel-Aviv, at a very particular time of day, on a particular day of the week, there is hardly any place in Israel that has such a great concentration of people within a radius of 1-1.5 kilometers. There is a reason why Ephraim Halevy, ex-head of Mossad, also claims that an Iranian nuclear bomb cannot destroy Israel, and it is not based on wishful thinking. In fact, Ahmadinejad’s OWN engineers and physicists have very likely told him this as well.

If anyone in Iran takes a chance, and gives an order (or does the Tom Clancey thing), he is risking not only his own life and that of his family, but indeed many more people and the future of his own nation. If Iran could miraculously deliver 5 or 10 nuclear bombs to the center of Israel at the perfect time of day, I imagine Israel would retaliate with quite a few more (at least, according to Jimmy Carter as of recent), and send Iran back a few decades in time. No one in Iran is foolish enough to do this, not “even” Ahmadinejad of Khamenei. Their first goal, after all, is to survive and spread their beliefs. Killing 10,000 Israelis, or even 100,000, would not destroy Israel, but would risk producing a very different Israel afterwards.

It is not inevitable that Israel will attack Iran, especially if a solution is found, or if Dubya does it (kind of a Hail Mary… at the end of the 4th quarter). But if Israel should be foolish enough to attack Iran, we will not only bring about a new regional war (with thousands of missiles landing in every major city in Israel, launched from 3 different directions), but will indeed almost guarantee that a future Iranian retribution will be in the making. No Israeli will need to speculate on this, as you and I are about a nuclear device being planted in Ashkelon. The chances will be increased tenfold.

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May 30th, 2008, 8:04 pm

 

52. AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Shai,
First of all, why do you assume that an Iranian bomb would not be much larger than the one used in Nagasaki or Hiroshima? It could easily be 100 times potent and the same size with today’s technology.

Second, it is easy to call every scenario that you think will not happen a Tom Clancey scenario. But that is begging the question. The question is, how likely are the Iranians to use a terrorist organization to blow an atom bomb in Israel? I am not saying it is likely that this will happen. I am saying that even if there is 1% chance this will happen, Israel has to attack Iran. What is your assessment of how likely this is to happen? Zero chance?

Third, even if the bomb does not destroy Israel but “only” kills 10,000 people should it not be preempted?

Fourth, why do you not believe crazy people when they tell you their intentions? Are you not just repeating the mistake of many Jews and others in the world that just would not believe what Hitler was clearly telling them? Iran is speaking clearly. I am listening and using common sense to understand them. Are you?

Fifth, your excuse that atacking will ensure future retribution was also used in the Iraqi case and proved to be wrong. Fragile societies like Iran tend to break under pressure.

Sixth, there will not be thousands of missiles fired at Israel because Hizballah and Syria will not join the war and because Iran does not have thousands of missiles that can hit Israel. And if thousands of missiles will be fired, Israel will quickly rebuild but Syria and Lebanon will be in ashes for a long time. It is a risk we have to take. If we have learned anything from history it is not to ignore crazies that have at their disposal the resources of a country. Who said building a Jewish state is going to be easy?

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May 30th, 2008, 8:23 pm

 

53. Shai said:

AIG,

I’m not ignoring Ahmadinejad, and neither is Ephraim Halevy. There are rational reasons to believe that Iran cannot produce a nuclear device 100 times, or 10 times more potent than the atomic bomb used in Hiroshima. Nor can they produce a Hydrogen bomb, for that matter. But I am not suggesting that a nuclear bomb scenario is an impossibility. I’m merely calling it “unlikely”. This is NOT the same case as with Hitler. Jews, including about 90-95% of my own family in Poland, stayed at home instead of running off to Russia (as my grandmother did, which is why I’m now typing this to you), because they thought the rumors about Hitler were exaggerated. But they knew, that if true, there was nothing they could do about it, except for run. They chose wrongly, and they’re no more. That’s not the case with Israel, no matter how much brainwashing we’d like to conduct on Israeli minds. Indeed, waiting for such eventuality to occur might cause the deaths of a few tens of thousands, and that’s a terrible thing. But when I consider what kind of world and region I’m going to be living in (and forming) after I attack tens of installations in Iran, and bring about a regional war, I think at least twice. There is not a doubt in my mind that an attack on Iran will prompt HA and Hamas, at least, to react severely. After all, what the hell is Iran supplying HA thousands (if not tens of thousands) of rockets for? Just to get the Shebaa Farms back… :-) No, it’s to resist Israel when necessary.

You may be right, Syria may indeed not enter such a war, though if Israel attacked Iran now, Syria will undoubtedly pull out from talks, and not re-enter perhaps for decades, feeling the betrayal and manipulation to a degree that won’t disappear so quickly. It may choose not to attack us, just to save itself from being destroyed, but HA and Hamas will have nothing to lose. Plus, Iran certainly has capabilities, maybe not 10,000 Shihabs, but even a couple hundred, landing smack in the middle of Tel-Aviv, Haifa, and a few other population centers, could cause huge fatalities. So in one scenario, we “sit and wait” to see if your fear comes true, and risk 10,000 dead. In the other scenario, we attack first, and bring upon ourselves another few decades of war, and a destroyed region. Which is better for our children? I have not a shred of doubt in my mind. If I would accept your 1% chance of an Iranian nuclear bomb on Israel, I hope you would agree there is a far greater chance of a large scale regional war if we attack Iran first. We don’t need to speculate on thousands of rockets into Israel. It already happened, just two years ago, with a militia that was far less equipped than it is today!

There are no guarantees for anything in life, but we constantly have to take chances. We can never eliminate all our dangers, but we can try to influence them positively or negatively. I’d always rather be the 2nd to introduce nuclear weapons to the region. Even if it means having 10,000 of my own people die. Because the alternative is worse.

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May 30th, 2008, 8:45 pm

 

54. Qifa Nabki said:

Alex

The author of that piece that you posted about the Golan had a very unfortunate name… Joshua MITNICK ;-)

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May 30th, 2008, 8:53 pm

 

55. Alex said:

Qifa Nabki,

Only a Lebanese can notice these things!

: )

I did not pay attention until you mentioned it.

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May 30th, 2008, 8:58 pm

 

56. AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Shai,

You believe that Iran is not likely to use an atom bomb against Israel but have no problem believing that if Israel attacks nuclear installations in Iran, Iran will retaliate against Israeli civillians.

You believe Hizballah is a Leabanese party but have no problem believing they will attack Israel for Iran thus putting all of Lebanon in great jeopardy.

You elevate the chances of a fierce Iranian retaliation and the consequences of it and diminsh and ignore the risk of causalties in Israel.

If we attack Iran, and Iran retaliates against us using missles, we will be fully justified to take out their oil facilities. That will be the end of Iran since 50% of their GDP is based on oil. If we attack military facilities and they attack civillians, public opinion will be against them. If they are as rational as you believe, then they will not retaliate after an Israeli/US attack. If they are not rational as you believe, then attacking them is justified.

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May 30th, 2008, 9:00 pm

 

57. SimoHurtta said:

You are so wrong you could not be more wrong. Leaders always do crazy things. There are countless historical examples. I am quite sure that the Iranians do not believe that we will nuke all their cities if a they smuggle an atom bomb into gaza and they blow up Ashkelon killing 100,000 people. After all how could we prove that the bomb was Iranian and even if we could, they think that the West will not let us do it because after all the Iranian citizens are not responsible for what their regime does.

AIG you must be completely crazy. Why on earth would Iran smuggle its only atomic bomb, a bomb which Iran could create in lets say five years, to Gaza. The Hamas members (and Palestinians) certainly are educated enough to know the impacts if the nuke Israel. What would they do with a radioactive wasteland which their home country would then be? AIG your lunatic childish propaganda doesn’t make any sense.

I could equally speculate that the orthodox Jews smuggle an Jewish Nuclear bomb to Rome and Mecca and blow those places up. The difference is that the Jews could do it tomorrow, the Iranians “your act” in a very distant future. AIG as you know your people are already now burning New Testaments. It is easy to make propaganda as you see AIG.

Iranian can “destroy” much more easily Zionist Israel using their financial and fast growing strategical influence than using a nuclear bomb. It could for example offer to pay 15.000 Euro (not USD) for every new child Israeli Arabs make and then 2.000 Euro per year for their upbringing and ideological training. Costs for one million babies would be 15 billion Euro, the price of a couple of aircraft carriers. With present oil prices development trend not an impossible strategy. In a couple of decades Jews would be a minority in Israel, if US doesn’t pay more for “mass producing” Jewish babies in Israel. :)

Seriously speaking the only reason why US / Israel will attack Iran is control of Iran’s and Iraq’s oil resources (= much of the worlds cheaply and fast explainable oil resources). Syria is “needed” to get the oil cheaply and safely out to the west. Iran’s nuclear program is not a reason. Most Middle Eastern nations will have the capacity in a couple of decades to create nukes if they want / need them. And as long Israel has them they have very good reasons to want them, no matter are they US friends or no-friends or what is their “regime style”.

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May 30th, 2008, 9:20 pm

 

58. AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Sim,
Are Hiroshima and Nagasaki “radioactive wastelands”? No they are vibrant cities. There are clean bombs in which the half life of the radioactive material is very short.

Alsp, if the Palestinians support suicide as a means to attack the enemy, they would surely accept losing one city such as Ashkelon in order to get the rest. I am sure there would not be volunteers lacking to take the bomb to Ashkelon.

I really like your plan of paying the Israeli Arabs to have kids. I hope Iran implements it soon. What a boon this will be for the Israeli economy!

If you or anybody else are worried about Israel having a bomb, then please, do your best to stop Israel from having nuclear weapons. You have every right to do so.

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May 30th, 2008, 9:33 pm

 

59. Qifa Nabki said:

Simo

Just curious, why did you choose this particular moniker (Simo Hurtta)? Wasn’t he some kind of mean tax collector, much reviled, in Finland? Doesn’t fit your personality.

Alex,

What did you think of the articles by Sami Moubayed that I pasted? (Esp. on different regional agendas for Syria vs. Iran, and Syria vs. Hizbullah?)

Remember, these are Sami’s opinions, a good respected SYRIAN commentator, so you can’t just sic Ausamaa on me. ;-)

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May 30th, 2008, 9:37 pm

 

60. AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

QN,
Specifically, I wonder what Alex thinks about this pearl from Sami:
“The Syrians have strongly stressed, however, that they will not abandon their allies, although logic states that if and when a peace treaty materializes, Syria will have to cease its support for Hamas and Hezbollah.”

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May 30th, 2008, 9:45 pm

 

61. SimoHurtta said:

Simo

Just curious, why did you choose this particular moniker (Simo Hurtta)? Wasn’t he some kind of mean tax collector, much reviled, in Finland? Doesn’t fit your personality.

Well for “fun”. I know a Simo (which is a Finnish forename) and who has a dog (Hurtta is a slang word for a dog) with an Israeli character (rather violent and agressive – the dog not the Simo I know). It is “good” to invent a nick name which doesn’t describe yourself. Also all the Finnish heroes nick names were reserved. Mabye I chance some day to AnotherFinnishGuy. :)

Simon Affleck alias Simo Hurtta (about 1660-1725) indeed was a Swedish tax collector working in Finland (then part of Sweden).

By the way how did you choose Qifa Nabki and what does it mean?

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May 30th, 2008, 10:52 pm

 

62. Qifa Nabki said:

Simo

Thanks for the info.

The words “qifa nabki” mean: “halt you two, and let us weep…”

They are the first two words of perhaps the most famous Classical Arabic poem, by a pre-Islamic poet named Imru’ al-Qays.

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May 30th, 2008, 11:06 pm

 

63. Nidal said:

Is Israeli society on the path of change? Two successful and well-received books by Israelis Shlomo Sand and Avraham Burg show that there is some hope for reformists and seculars in the region. Here’s a couple of articles summarizing those books:

“Are the jews an invented people?”
http://mondediplo.com/2008/05/18invented

“Judaism is universal”
http://mondediplo.com/2008/05/17judaism

What say you, AIG?

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May 30th, 2008, 11:22 pm

 

64. SimoHurtta said:

Sim,
Are Hiroshima and Nagasaki “radioactive wastelands”? No they are vibrant cities. There are clean bombs in which the half life of the radioactive material is very short.

Alsp, if the Palestinians support suicide as a means to attack the enemy, they would surely accept losing one city such as Ashkelon in order to get the rest. I am sure there would not be volunteers lacking to take the bomb to Ashkelon.

AIG you are simply crazy. I could write equal speculative stories as you how the ultra orthodox bible burners from Israel nuke European cities with their “clean” nuclear bombs. As I have said several times before the religious nuts of Israel are hundred of times more dangerous to the world as the Iranian nuts. You AIG certainly do not understand this because you are the member of those dangerous nuts.

AIG if you would sometimes bother to collect some facts about the Israeli military spending and weapon arsenal contra Iranian you would find the embarrassing (for you) reality. Iran is as dangerous for Middle East in a military sense as Algeria would be. Egypt and SA have much more military muscles than Iran has.

What I can’t understand your Israelis hypocrisy with this nuclear issue. You as several other Israelis, also in official posts, openly speak about possible Israeli nuclear attacks against Muslim countries. Your country had attacked Egypt (1956) and as reward got the nuclear technology which has allowed it to create a larger nuclear arsenal than China, a huge country, has. This all in secret. Now you “honest democratic secular peace lovers” of Israel are demanding others not to do what you have been doing for decades.

From where did you AIG invent that Hamas/Iran nuke with their “future bomb” Ashkelon? Why not Tel Aviv? I must say AIG that even Akbar is a intellectual giant compared to you.

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May 30th, 2008, 11:24 pm

 

65. AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Nidal,
Books like these have always been published and reflect fringe thinking in Israel. Very soon we will have elections in Israel and you will know exactly how Israelis think. Or look at the distribution of members in today’s Knesset.

For some reason many Arabs think that the change in the middle east will come from Israelis changing. But of course, if it comes, it will come from Arabs changing and accepting liberal democracy.

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May 30th, 2008, 11:34 pm

 

66. ausamaa said:

Qifa,

There is a more famous Classical Arab poem by Amro:

و أيـام لنـــا غـــر طـوال ابينا الملك فيها أن ندينا
ورثنــــاهن عـــن أباء صدق و نورثها اذا متنا بنينا
ألا لا يجهـــلن أحــــد علينا فنجهـل فوق جهل الجاهلينا
و أنــا التاركون اذا سخطنا و انا الأخــذون اذا رضينا
اذا ما الملك سام الناس خسفا ابينــا ان نقر الذل فينا

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May 30th, 2008, 11:44 pm

 

67. AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Simo,
First, I’d like to tell you I loved your racist slur:
“a dog (Hurtta is a slang word for a dog) with an Israeli character (rather violent and agressive – the dog not the Simo I know)”

Generalizing about Israelis and in the bargain comparing them to dogs. Quite inventive. You certainly are a luminary compared to me.

As for being hypocritical, I specifically wrote in my post that you have every right to stop Israel from having nuclear weapons if you really think we are even more dangerous than Iran. In fact, it would be your duty if that is what you believe exactly as it is my duty to make sure that the Iranians don’t get a nuclear weapon. So you do what you have to do and I will do what I have to do.

As for the Ashkelon scenario it is quite probable. Hamas has shown that it is able to smuggle weapons into the Gaza strip, therefore smuggling a bomb there is quite possible. And then, a very rudimentary rocket would be required to deliver it to Ashkelon. This is a very possible scenario. Iran would then try to argue that the bomb came from Pakistan or that Al-Qaeda bought it from the Ukraine or some other BS. And after Israel retaliates you would of course complain about how we know where the bomb came from. No thank you. Preemption is the way to go.

And where have we ever threatened another nation with annihilation? We will only use our weapons if we have them in self defense.

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May 30th, 2008, 11:45 pm

 

68. ausamaa said:

“And where have we ever threatened another nation with annihilation? We will only use our weapons if we have them in self defense.”

See, what a little cute trustworthy and peacefull neighbour Israel is. Arabs should count their blessings..

BTW, is it true that peace-loving Israel and the democracy-infectious US were the only two countries to refuse to sign the Cluster Bombs Ban Agreement in the England conference yesterday?

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May 30th, 2008, 11:52 pm

 

69. AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Ausamaa,
No, the Arabs should become democracies and then beat Israel. Otherwise they have no chance. However, you choose to ignore this advice.

As for being peaceful, it is you who believes that Israel will be attacked in the next 2 years and it will change the balance of power. So if you say that, shouldn’t we take you seriously and defend ourselves? I certainly plan to. After all, you are not a simple day laborer but a distinguished businessman.

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May 30th, 2008, 11:57 pm

 

70. ausamaa said:

Don’t you worry. Many Arabs are experimenting with many approaches to this problem at the same time.Incidently, when Israel beat the Arabs in 1948, it was not a democracy then, was it?

And please, go ahead and keep defending yourself, just dont get yourself in trouble big time as in 1973 or as in July 2006. Things seems to catch up with some people at the end.

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May 31st, 2008, 12:12 am

 

71. Qifa Nabki said:

Good reading, from Rami Khouri.

Nour, if you’re around, check your email.

Cheers.

Hizbullah is less credible. So now what?
By Rami G. Khouri
Daily Star staff
Saturday, May 31, 2008

The Doha agreement that ended the latest round of political tension and armed clashes in Lebanon has, at best, bought 18-24 months of calm for the country, and an opportunity for the largely discredited political elite to start acting responsibly. Hizbullah remains the focus of discussion about the challenges ahead, given its military strength relative to the other Lebanese factions, including the central government and its armed forces.

The dilemma for Hizbullah is that its strength since its inception a quarter of a century ago in the early 1980s is now its weakness when it comes to its political engagement inside Lebanon. Its combination of military prowess, links with Syria and Iran, and domestic strategic political ambiguity about its ultimate aims for Lebanon are all issues that have rallied significant opposition to it among a growing circle of Lebanese.

This is not purely a question of “What does Hizbullah want?” or “Will Hizbullah give up its arms?” Hizbullah’s power and aims cannot be analyzed in a vacuum, because the party did not emerge as the most powerful military force in the country in isolation of the behavior of other national actors. Two issues are at play here: Hizbullah’s status, and the quality of Lebanese statehood. The strength and status of Hizbullah and the weakness of the Lebanese state are symbiotic developments that feed off each other, and can only be resolved together. The coming era of calm political adjustment in Lebanon, including the national unity government and the summer 2009 parliamentary elections, must address very difficult core disputed issues. The central one is the Hizbullah-state relationship, which is directly or indirectly linked to other tough issues such as Syrian-Lebanese ties, and the role of external powers such as Iran, Saudi Arabia and the United States.

If Lebanon does not make progress on these issues in the coming years and instead falls back into a pattern of stalemate and street fighting, a civil war is likely, and no country I know of has survived two civil wars intact. A resumption of fighting on a large scale will see the country slip into a slow and steady pattern of dysfunctional statehood and patchwork sovereignty, somewhere between the Yemen and Somalia examples.

The challenge remains to construct a state built on equal citizenship rights in which all Lebanese have the opportunity to improve their quality of life in the context of the rule of law, rather than tribal or communal self-defense. The manner in which the parties at Doha haggled over electoral districts in Beirut and other parts of the country suggests that concepts of Lebanese statehood and citizenship rights remain subsidiary to powerful forces of sectarianism and tribalism that define both the affirmation of identity and the exercise of power. This is not unique to Lebanon. Most of the Middle East suffers the same problem, but elsewhere it is camouflaged beneath the stultifying calm of the modern Arab security state.

Hizbullah has proven to be very good at most of the things it does, including social service delivery, communal mobilization, military resistance and appealing to wider public opinion around the region. It is the culmination of one of the most impressive and compelling political sagas of the modern Arab world – the journey of the Lebanese Shiite community from marginalization, abuse and subjugation to dominant power, in a span of just over a generation, starting in the early 1970s.

Yet Hizbullah has proved to be very weak in domestic political engagement, mainly because it is inexperienced; some of its strongest critics say it is insincere, and does not care to engage politically or share power, because it reflects Iranian-Syrian rather than Lebanese priorities. The arguments here are fierce. We shall soon find out. Politics, however, remains new territory for Hizbullah.

Its 18-month-long political challenge to the government was a stalemated failure, and, such as its downtown tent encampment, occasionally an embarrassment. It seemed to gain the upper hand only when it responded to the government’s challenge to two aspects of its security system by sending armed men into western Beirut. But to fight instead of bargaining is not a sign of political prowess or sophistication.

Hizbullah and the Lebanese state both must now grapple with basic issues of their own legitimacy, efficacy and reach. It is clear that the existing balance of power is not sustainable. More and more Lebanese are openly challenging Hizbullah, which responds with familiar arguments about the centrality of its resistance role – arguments that sound increasingly less credible to many compatriots. There is no easy answer to this dilemma of how to reconcile a weak state with a strong parallel state structure. But an answer must be found, or both will pay the price in the years ahead.

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May 31st, 2008, 12:44 am

 

72. offended said:

Aussama,
I really liked a ‘qaseedat ta3ared’ (but a poem with the same ryhme but with a slightly different approach) to Amr Bun Kolthoom composed by a talente Palestinian poet (Tamim Al Barguthi). Who orated it last year at the “Pricne of Poet” contest in Abu Dhabi. Have a look : ) :

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May 31st, 2008, 1:05 am

 

73. Nour said:

QN,

I replied to your email.

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May 31st, 2008, 1:06 am

 

74. JustOneAmerican said:

I have a few comments re: nukes.

First, if Israel had the capability to destroy Iran’s nuclear program they would already have done so. Israel has long had a doctrine that dictates it can only influence the capabilities of its enemies, not their intentions. In the case of Iran, it is too late for Israel to preempt, even if it had the capability to do, which it doesn’t. As some have said, you can’t bomb knowledge and even if Natanz was destroyed, Iran still has the ability to produce centrifuges and can hide them anywhere. If Natanz is destroyed it will be like Osirak – the program will be fully driven underground and won’t be detected until a fait accompli confronts Israel.

Second, Israel cannot attack Iran without US support. It’s part of the reason why Israel has been pushing the US to do it. Israel will need, at the very least, codes for it’s aircraft so they don’t get shot down by the US as they are coming out of Iran being chased by Iranian aircraft. Besides, Israel knows that attacking Iran will mean that Iran will attack the US. Israel could kiss US support goodbye if an aircraft carrier is sunk and thousands of Americans are killed because Israel failed to warn the US of what it was doing. In reality though, there are too many targets in Iran and they are too far away for Israel to strike them all, so such an attack is actually quite remote.

Third, it is impossible for Iran to get a bomb 100 times as powerful as Nagasaki/Hiroshima. There are limitations imposed by physics, particularly for a uranium weapon. At best Iran could get 20 kilotons, about 80% more than Hiroshima, but even that is unlikely. A weapon around 10-12 kilotons is the most likely.

Fourth, both the Hiroshima and Nagasaki attacks were air bursts, which maximizes both the thermal and pressure damage from nuclear weapons. A weapon delivered through Gaza would likely be a ground detonation which would cause a lot less initial damage (fire/pressure), but would greatly increase fallout and the long-term effects caused by the fallout. It’s likely that just as many Arabs as Israelis would be the victims of such fallout.

Finally, I think Iran is rational enough to understand the dangers of allowing one of it’s nuclear weapons (when/if it does get them) outside of its control. Giving such a weapon to Hamas is fraught with danger for Iran, particularly if the weapon is intercepted before it could be delivered. It’s home address would be discovered and Iran would pay a huge price for nothing in return.

I think Israel will have to learn to live with the possibility and reality of a nuclear Iran. There has already been some discussion in some circles of how Israeli strategic doctrine might change. In fact, if reports are to be believed, Israel is already working on a nuclear “2nd strike” capability through it’s submarine fleet. Such a capability is only necessary when an adversary has or might have nuclear weapons. That Israel is developing such a capability now says quite a bit by itself I think.

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May 31st, 2008, 1:11 am

 

75. ausamaa said:

Offended

Thanks, That is a good one.

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May 31st, 2008, 1:25 am

 

76. SimoHurtta said:

Simo,
First, I’d like to tell you I loved your racist slur:
“a dog (Hurtta is a slang word for a dog) with an Israeli character (rather violent and agressive – the dog not the Simo I know)”

Generalizing about Israelis and in the bargain comparing them to dogs. Quite inventive. You certainly are a luminary compared to me.

AIG it was Moshe Dayan who said that Israel must be like a mad dog. So my comparison to Israeli character is valid. Here is the quote from General Moshe Dayan: ‘Israel must be like a mad dog, too dangerous to bother.’ Our armed forces…are not the thirtieth strongest in the world, but rather the second or third. We have the capability to take the world down with us. And I can assure you that will happen, before Israel goes under.”
http://www.globalsecurity.org/org/news/2003/030923-israel1.htm

Do you AIG understand what your country’s former “hero” said? I doubt that. He is speaking about destroying the planet. Well how would you describe politicians who all the time threaten the world and neighbours? When Livni was in Finland during Finnish EU presidency, she was asked by a Finnish journalist what will Israel do if it doesn’t get the captured soldiers back. “We will destroy our neighbours” she said with a big smile. My friend who was witnessing the event a couple of meters away said that the Finnish reporters watched her after that “peaceful” message with open mouths. They were not used that “democratic” countries foreign ministers use such agressive language. The mad dog attitude is living and kicking strongly in modern days Israel. Even more stronger when Moshe Dayan was on the top.

As for the Ashkelon scenario it is quite probable. Hamas has shown that it is able to smuggle weapons into the Gaza strip, therefore smuggling a bomb there is quite possible. And then, a very rudimentary rocket would be required to deliver it to Ashkelon. This is a very possible scenario. Iran would then try to argue that the bomb came from Pakistan or that Al-Qaeda bought it from the Ukraine or some other BS. And after Israel retaliates you would of course complain about how we know where the bomb came from. No thank you. Preemption is the way to go.

AIG I heard rumours that the Israeli bible burners are going to smuggle an Israeli nuclear suitcase bomb to Vatican. Naturally the orthodox Jews are leaving to place a van full of Qur’ans and other Islamic religious stuff and blame Iran or Pakistan. This is a very possible scenario. Also a very possible scenario is that Israeli orthodox Jews are smuggling a nuclear bomb to Mecca and leaving on the site evidence with US and Christian symbols. And after the world retaliates you would of course complain about how we know where the bomb came from. No thank you. Pre-emption is the way to go. So what do you think AIG should “we the world minus Israel” act when there is still time?

AIG you are really in need of serious medical counselling if you in reality believe in the astonishing nuclear rubbish you have been writing in your last comments. As I have shown it easy to write equal “nuclear” nonsense also about the modern days Israeli bible burners possible action. The difference is that I tried to show to you how stupid your propaganda is, you seem to believe in the childish rubbish you have been writing lately.

PS
France vows to help Jordan develop nuclear technology

Soon AIG there will in Middle East nuclear scientist and technicians with the ratio of 100 to 1 compared to Israel. They will have the know how and financial resources to produce nuclear weapons when they want. The step from being able of running peaceful nuclear programs to less constructive efforts is not big. Maybe Israel should rethink its “pre-emptive strategy” when there is still time. No nuclear weapons in Middle East would mean no nuclear weapons in Israel.

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May 31st, 2008, 1:52 am

 

77. norman said:

Syria Seeks U.S. Role in Talks
By Jay Solomon
Word Count: 735
WASHINGTON — As Syria and Israel begin pursuing peace negotiations, Damascus is calling for the U.S. to play a direct role in brokering the talks, arguing that a successful outcome is unlikely without American participation.

To date, the Bush administration has offered only lukewarm support for the dialogue announced in May, breaking from decades of American foreign-policy doctrine that has sought to actively encourage any engagement between Jerusalem and an Arab state.

In an interview, Syria’s ambassador to Washington, Imad Moustapha, said Damascus believes the U.S. is the only country that could realistically deliver a peace deal between the two …

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May 31st, 2008, 2:58 am

 

78. AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Oh my God! Syria accepts US hegemony. What other humiliations are around the corner?

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May 31st, 2008, 4:02 am

 

79. AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Sim,
Moshe Dayan was wrong in what he said but he was speaking about Israel as a country. You on the other hand generalized about all Israelis individually. But it is ok. The more I point out your racist comments the more opportunity you will have to get over them and change your ways.

As for your story about Livni it is a lie. If she would have said it, there would have been a huge story around it.

You see Sim, no Israeli prime minister has lately said that Israel is going to bomb Rome or annihilate another country. The Iranian leadership says it all the time. Not only that, they are religious fanatics that believe in the seventh Imam. It is a matter of fact that most countries in the world are much more worried about the Iranian bomb than about the Israeli one. Why? Becuase they view things with common sense unlike you. Why does the UN keep sanctioning Iran, including China and Russia?

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May 31st, 2008, 4:10 am

 

80. why-discuss said:

QN

Mobayed:
“And in today’s world, the Iranians want to create an Iranian satellite state in Iraq, which the Syrians do not want. They want to empower the religiously driven Shi’ite politicians, while the Syrians want to see secular nationalists in control of Iraq. The Iranians want autonomy for the Shi’ites in southern Iraq; the Syrians do not. The Iranians want a regional war of liberation against Israel, refusing to recognize any peace talks with the Jewish state…”

I disagree with Moubayed’s article. It is a very superficial and misleading analysis of the Iranian’s strategy in the region.
- Iran does not want Irak to be a satellite, but after having suffered 8 years of war from a sunni Iraq, they surely want to make sure this will not happen again. Do you blame them?
Syria and Iran have hosted most of the present iraqis leaders, it is natural that they will be closer to Iran than to Saudi Arabia.
Using the world satellite is giving little respect to the Iraqis.

- Iran has never asked autonony of the south of Iraq, where did he get that? but it is Iran’s closest neighbour and the one who could create harm and infitrations, no wonder they want to have influence on them.
- Iran has clearly said that they will accept any decision made by the palestinians on their relation with Israel. They have also clearly stated that they are in favor of one single country for Jews and Palestinians, but they will go along with the Palestinians decisions. Ahmadinejad has repeatedly predicted the demise of the zionist entity, not the eradications of the jews. This goes along with Irans’s view.
It is very disapointing that Mobayed looks at Iran as a Shia hegemonic power while Iran has never threatened or invaded any arab country.
This is exactly what the western media worried about: finally the emergence of a power that has the means to challenge the hegemony of the US and the western power in the region.
Their efforts in trying to crush it emergence have created the exact opposite. With more PR and more clumsy attacks from the unpopular western countries, Iran will be easily dominating the middle east region and extend it toward Asia, diluting the arab factor.
Politically, Syria and Iran have been much more in line with the events of the area that the “brilliant” PHD strategists of the Pentagon who gave us ridiculous demonstration in the UN of the WMD proofs and the amateurish dealings in the after Saddam Irak. The Iran and Syria predictions of the US quagmire in Iraq turned to be true. Mobayed is underestimating the pragmatism approach of both Iran and Syria that are bringing more fruits than the illusionary and doomed approach of the US in the region.
The extension of the middle east to include Turkey and Iran may be the salvation of the Arab world after decades of being humiliated by the West (Remember the 1952 Egypt war and all the Israelis humiliations to the arabs). Maybe after Hezbollah slap on the IDF’s face and the panick-striken Israelis in front of Iran, this time may be over.

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May 31st, 2008, 4:12 am

 

81. Alex said:

More reactions from Arab journalists to the alleged Saudi attempt to overthrow the regime in Syria.

الحرب الباردة…عربياً ؟!
عريب الرنتاوي: مركز القدس للدراسات الاستراتيجية
إن صحت الأنباء، فإن الرئيس السوري بشار الأسد فاتح الأمين العام للجامعة العربية عمرو موسى أثناء زيارته الأخيرة لدمشق، بما قيل أنه محاولة سعودية لقلب نظام الحكم وتشجيع المعارضة على النظام، وتحريض العواصم الدولية على سوريا، في إشارة إلى أن الخلاف السعودي – السوري، أو خلاف (س – س) على حد تعبير رئيس مجلس النواب اللبناني نبيه بري، قد بلغ مرحلة تذكر بالخلافات العربية البينية في خمسينيات القرن الفائت وستيناته، حين كانت كل عاصمة تبادر إلى تكثيف اتصالاتها مع “معارضات” البلد الآخر عند اندلاع أول خلاف أو سؤ فهم بين دولتين عربيتين.
جديد المعلومات التي أدلى بها الأسد لموسى، يتعلق بقائلها ومتلقيها، أما المعلومات بحد ذاتها، فليست جديدة أبدا، فنحن نعرف أن رموز المعارضة السورية الأبرز، يترددون إلى السعودية، وتحديدا في مواسم الحجيج، ويجري استقبالهم رسميا في مكة المكرمة إلى جانب زعماء الدول وقادتها، وعادة ما يحظى عم الرئيس السوري الدكتور رفعت الأسد باستقبال متميز في مواسم الحج، كما أن لعبد الحليم خدام، نائب الرئيس المنشق علاقات وثيقة – على خلفية سنيّة – مع القادة السعودية، وكذا الحال بالنسبة لجماعة الإخوان المسلمين السوريين، أو بعض أركانهم على أقل تقدير.
وقد شجع ذلك، رموز تحالف 14 آذار على استقبال قادة المعارضات السورية في بيروت، واستضافتهم على ساحات منابرهم الإعلامية النافذة، من مقروءة ومكتوبة ومسموعة ومرئية، ولقد شهدنا “إخوان سوريا” يجولون على قيادات الموالاة اللبنانية، ويدلون بتصريحات نارية ضد نظام دمشق، كما أن مواكب التأييد لرفعت الأسد، تجوب طرابلس (شمال لبنان) بحرية تحت مرأى ومسمع وحماية القوى ذاتها.
وقبل أشهر عدة، كانت الأنباء تتحدث عن حماس سعودي لتدويل الأزمة اللبنانية، حتى أن الوزير / الأمير سعود الفيصل، وفي معرض التقليل من شأن الأنباء التي تحدثت عن ميل بلاده للتدويل، سخر من اتهام كهذا، بحجة أن الأزمة اللبنانية “مدوّلة” فعلا، في حين كانت الأنباء التي رافقت آخر جولاته على عواصم القرار الدولي تشير إلى مسعى سعودي لنقل ملف الأزمة اللبنانية إلى مجلس الأمن الدولي، وربما تحت البند السابع من الميثاق، ودائما باعتبار سوريا وإيران المسئولتان عن تفاقم الأزمة اللبنانية وإطالة أمد الفراغ الرئاسي وتفشي مسلسل العنف والاغتيالات، وهو المسعى الذي لم يقابل بتشجيع أوروبي أو روسي أو صيني.
نحن إذن، لسنا أمام معلومات جديدة، بل أمام مستوى جديد في تداول هذا المعلومات القديمة، الأمر الذي يعني أن لا دخان من دون نار، وأن العلاقة بين دمشق والرياض بلغت أسفل درك، بل ووصلت أسفل سافلين، وأن جهود المصالحة بين (س – س) باتت تحتاج إلى ما هو أبعد من التوافق على شخص الرئيس التوافقي وانتخابه.
زمن الحرب الباردة، كانت الدول العربية تتآمر على بعضها البعض، ولطالما استقوت بالغريب على الشقيق، وبذاك الحلف الدولي على هذا الجار القومي، وكانت “المعارضات العربية المهاجرة” تستخدم كرؤوس جسور لمد النفوذ وتحضير الانقلابات وتنفيذ المؤامرات الهادفة للإطاحة بهذا النظام أو ذاك، ولقد تراجعت معظم، إن لم نقل جميع الأنظمة والحكومات العربية عن هذه الممارسات والأساليب، بعد أن تأكد بؤسها وانعدام جدواها، وخصوصا بعد أن ثبت بأنها سلاح ذو حدين، وأنها لعبة يمكن أن ترتد على أصحابها، وأن لكل نظام “معارضاته” التي يمكن استخدامها بوسائل مماثلة، إن لم يكن لقلب الحكم فلضرب الأمن والاستقرار داخل حدوده، الأمر الذي خلق بعض الهدوء وأعاد بعض التوازن والاتزان إلى العلاقات العربية البينية.
انتهت الحرب الباردة دوليا، لكن يبدو أنها لم تنته عربيا، فها نحو نستعيد بعض أساليبها، ليس من خلال المحاور والمعسكرات التي يجري إحياؤها وبعثها، فحسب، بل ومن خلال المؤامرات والألاعيب الصغيرة التي يقوم بها جيل جديد من القادة والزعماء، لم يتعلم على ما يبدو، من تجربة من سبقوه

مؤامرة تغيير النظام السوري
القدس العربي
ان ينفي مصدر اعلامي سوري ما نقلته صحيفة الاخبار اللبنانية عن وجود مؤامرة سعودية ـ مصرية علي سورية والعمل علي قلب نظام الحكم فيها، فهذا أمر متوقع، وليس جديدا، ولكن هذا لا يعني ان العلاقات بين القاهرة والرياض من ناحية، ودمشق من ناحية اخري، ليست متوترة، ولا نبالغ اذا قلنا ان القطيعة هي الوصف المهذب لهذه العلاقات في الوقت الراهن.
حكومتا البلدين تخوضان مواجهة دبلوماسية علنية مع النظام في سورية، علي اكثر من جبهة، خاصة في لبنان، فمصر والمملكة العربية السعودية تؤيدان جماعة الرابع عشر من آذار، بينما تقف سورية بحزم خلف المعارضة التي يقودها حزب الله الحليف الاوثق لدمشق علي الساحة اللبنانية.
فقد اتهم الامير سعود الفيصل وزير الخارجية السعودي الحكومة السورية اكثر من مرة بتعطيل انتخاب رئيس للجمهورية، وتعقيد الازمة الدستورية في لبنان، من خلال رفضها استخدام نفوذها لدي المعارضة لعقد مجلس النواب وانتخاب الرئيس ميشال سليمان. وبلغ الخلاف ذروته عندما حاولت كل من مصر والسعودية افشال مؤتمر القمة العربية الذي انعقد في العاصمة السورية اواخر شهر آذار (مارس) الماضي، وتخفيف تمثيلهما فيه الي الحدود الدنيا.
ولا نعتقد ان حدة الخلافات هذه يمكن ان تصل الي تآمر البلدين لتغيير النظام في دمشق، لما يمكن ان تمثله خطوة كهذه من اختراق لكل الخطوط الحمراء في العلاقات بين الحكومات العربية، لعدة اسباب ابرزها تحسب الدولتين للعواقب الوخيمة التي يمكن ان تترتب علي مثل هذه المؤامرة علي شؤونهما الداخلية اولا، وعدم وجود فرص حقيقية مضمونة لنجاح اي تحرك في هذا الخصوص.
صحيح ان الحكومة السعودية استضافت شخصيات سورية معارضة للنظام في الرياض مثل السيدين عبد الحليم خدام ورفعت الاسد نائبي الرئيس السابقين، وصحيح ايضا ان بعض الاعلاميين المقربين من النظام السعودي قد قالوا صراحة ان النظام السوري خرج عن الاجماع العربي ويجب ان يتغير، ولكن الصحيح ايضا ان هذه المشاحنات والمكايدات من الممارسات العربية المألوفة في حال نشوب خلافات بين الدول.
النظام السوري يعيش حالة من العزلة من حلفاء الامس، الذين باتوا يستعينون بالادارة الامريكية لتشديد الخناق عليه، من خلال استصدار عقوبات من مجلس الامن الدولي ودعم انعقاد المحكمة الدولية المتعلقة بمحاكمة المتورطين في اغتيال الرئيس الراحل رفيق الحريري، ومن بينهم متهمون سوريون بعضهم يتولي مناصب رفيعة في الدولة. ويظل من غير المستبعد ان تكون سياسة العزل هذه ضمن اطار استراتيجية امريكية عسكرية لتوجيه ضربات لما تسميه واشنطن محور الشر الذي يضم سورية وايران وحزب الله اللبناني وحركة حماس الفلسطينية.
لعل تسريب انباء حول مؤامرة تغيير النظام في سورية الي صحيفة لبنانية مقربة من المعارضة هو بمثابة رسالة تحذير الي المتورطين فيها من قبل النظام السوري او بعض المحسوبين عليه في الساحة اللبنانية، وهذا تقليد معروف في بعض الاوساط الصحافية والرسمية العربية، بل والاجنبية ايضا. فالنظام السوري ربما يريد ان يقول انه واع لمثل هذه المؤامرات، والمتورطين فيها، ويمكن ان يرد عليها بشكل اكثر ايلاما، بما يملكه من اوراق ضغط، وخبرات يشهد لها الكثيرون في استخدام جماعات معارضة لتعكير صفو جبهات داخلية تتسم بالهشاشة.
اللافت ان هذا التراشق الاعلامي الذي يمكن ان يتطور في الايام، او الاسابيع المقبلة، يأتي في وقت من المفترض ان تكون الاوضاع في لبنان، ساحة المواجهة الحقيقية، تتجه نحو المصالحة والهدوء، الامر الذي يجعلنا نتنبأ بصيف لبناني ساخن اذا لم يحدث انفراج للاحتقان الحالي في العلاقات بين اطراف المثلث السعودي ـ المصري ـ السوري.

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May 31st, 2008, 5:46 am

 

82. Alex said:

And another one from a Syrian writer

مؤامرة سعودية؟.. صح النوم يانظام!
أُبيّ حسن: ( كلنا شركاء ) 30/5/2008
لم نتفاجأ مما ورد في صحيفة “الأخبار” اللبنانية بتاريخ 28 الجاري, إذ “كشف مصدر دبلوماسي عربي بارز في المنامة أن الرئيس السوري بشار الأسد اتهم قيادة المملكة العربية السعودية بالتآمر على سوريا, وبالعمل لقلب نظام الحكم فيها”, فاللمملكة العربية السعودية باع طويل في التآمر على “أشقائها” العرب, وهذا ماسنسلط الضوء عليه قليلاً, بمعزل عن نفي مصدر إعلامي سوري للخبر الذي ورد في الصحيفة اللبنانية.
لكن مكمن الغرابة أن ينتظر بعض المعنيين بالأمر كل هذه المدة للكشف عن المؤامرة(دعونا نتناسى نفيها)!. وحال كانت لذلك البعض اعتباراته السياسية حتى صمت كل هذه المدة دون الإفصاح عنها, فهذا يعني –من بعد إفصاحه- أن علاقته بالسعودية انتهت إلى غير رجعة على المدى المنظور, وحبذا أن يحصل ذلك. وحال لم يكن من نعني يعلمون بالمؤامرة إلا مؤخراً, فهنا ينبغي أن نقول لهم: صح النوم!.
مما يلفت الانتباه أن المصدر ذكر أسماء قيادية سعودية مشاركة في التآمر على النظام السوري منها: الملك عبد الله(العربي الذي لايجيد اللغة العربية ولا النطق من دون شماتة!) ووزير خارجيته سعود الفيصل ورئيس الاستخبارات مقرن ومسؤول الأمن القومي بندر بن سلطان الذين لم يتوانوا عن تحريض الخارج على ضرب سوريا وقلب النظام فيها وفقاً للمصدر ذاته!.
لاغرابة في تآمر النظام السعودي على النظام السوري, بمعزل عن نفي رسمي أو تأكيد لمثل ذلك التآمر, فللسعودية تاريخ “مشرّف” هي وحكامها في هذا المنحى. وللتذكير, أنه في آواخر عهد الرئيس السوري الراحل أديب الشيشكلي, وبُعيد سقوط حكمه وهروبه خارج البلاد منتصف خمسينات القرن الماضي, إن أول من استضافه هو المملكة العربية السعودية (سراً). وقد أقام الشيشكلي في القصر الملكي السعودي سنتذاك, وبقي في السعودية إلى أن رحل إلى البرازيل, حيث قضى نحبه مقتولاً هناك على يد أحد أبناء معروف من جبل العرب. وإيواء السعودية للشيشكلي ليس سوى دليل قاطع على أن انقلاب الأخير على خلفه سامي الحناوي, هو في جوهره انقلاب سعودي, تماماً كما هو انقلاب أمريكي.
وفي النصف الثاني من خمسينات القرن الماضي كان للملكة ذاتها, حضورها “المشرّف” في إعداد مؤامرة لاغتيال جمال عبد الناصر إبان زيارته لسوريا في بداية الوحدة السورية- المصرية(غير المأسوف على انفصام عراها), وقد كان ذلك في عهد الملك سعود بن عبد العزيز.
ومن المصادفات التي تستحق أن تروى, أن زوجة الملك سعود(أو إحدى زوجاته) كانت سورية من الساحل السوري وتحديداً من قرية سطامو, ذهبت عن طريق الشيخ يوسف ياسين(موظف الديوان الملكي سنتذاك وهو من مدينة اللاذقية, وعلى مايبدو انه كان يعمل قواداً لآل سعود “الكرام” في الوقت نفسه) بصدد العمل كخادمة فانتهى بها المطاف ملكة!, ومن خلال تواجدها في القصر علمت بالمؤامرة, فأخبرت والدها الذي كان في زيارة لها والذي بدوره وشى بذلك للمحامي عزيز عباد الذي كان يشغل قائم مقام منطقة الحفة, ومنه إلى عبد الحميد السرّاج الذي أحبط المؤامرة. وكان من نتائج افتضاح تلك المؤامرة, التي تحدث عنها جمال عبد الناصر من على شرفة قصر الضيافة في دمشق, أن استقال الملك سعود من الحكم(لمزيد من المعلومات حول هذه المؤامرة يمكن للقارئ العودة إلى كتاب مطبوع سنة 1967 في البرازيل بعنوان”من صميم الأحداث” للدكتور عبد اللطيف اليونس).
وللسعودية دورها الرائد في محاربة جمال عبد الناصر(شقيقها في العروبة) في اليمن في ستينات القرن الماضي!, فأي متابع يعرف جيداً الدور السعودي شديد السلبية في دعم الرجعية اليمنية بقيادة الإمام البدر ضد ثورة عبد الله السلال الذي كانت تدعمه مصر التي أرسلت جزءا من جيشها لمساندته.
ولم يقف دور “المهلكة” الوهابية(تعبير المهلكة لنضال نعيسة) في محاربة عبد الناصر في اليمن, بل تخطت ذلك بكثير, إذ حرّضت إسرائيل لضرب الرئيس عبد الناصر الذي كان حضوره يكاد يحجّم دورها في المنطقة العربية, وقد أتت تلك التحريضات أُكلها في هزيمة العرب في كارثة حزيران 1967, وهذا ما أشار إليه الدكتور كمال خلف الطويل في مقاله عن كمال أدهم الذي أعادت نشره “كلنا شركاء” منذ أيام قليلة.
والسعودية هي من دعمت الراحل صدام حسين في حربه العبثية ضد إيران(الخميني لا الشاه), وهي التي انقلبت عليه من بعد انتفاء الحاجة إليه, وهي التي حرّضت أمريكا على ضربه في مايُعرف بحرب الخليج الثانية!, ووسائل إعلامها أول من تباكى عليه يوم إعدامه إلى أن جعل منه شهيداً!.
ومما يحزّ في النفس, أن هذه المملكة التي كانت وماتزال تصدّر الجهل والإرهاب إلى أربع رياح الأرض, وما تزال تعيش فيها المرأة حياة دون البهيمة, استطاعت من خلال إرهابها الوهابي أن تنتصر على دولة عظيمة ومتحضرة كالاتحاد السوفييتي في أفغانستان, من خلال إرسالها لطلائع لإرهابيين الذين تفرّخهم الإيديولوجية الوهابية, بغية محاربة “الإلحاد” الشيوعي!.
مفاسد المهلكة الوهابية ورجال الحكم فيها, فاقت مفاسد الناصريين والبعثين السوري والعراقي مجتمعين وبأشواط, إذ أين الثرى من الثريا! ومع ذلك لايجد بعض الكتّاب البعثيين(كما يدّعون) حرجاً بوضع الكتب التي تمجّد مملكة أولئك الهمج(مثال الكتاب الذي وضعه البعثي المخضرم منذر الموصللي).
كانت عائدات السعودية من النفط كانت تبلغ سنويا مابين 250 إلى 300 مليار دولار, ذلك عندما كان سعر برميل النفط يتراوح بين 60 و70 دولار, أما الآن فقد أصبحت عائداتها تفوق 500 مليار مليون دولار من بعد أن تجاوز سعر البرميل الواحد 130 دولار, ولكم أن تتصوروا أين سيصرف آل سعود هذه الأموال الطائلة!, طبعاً من بعد الغرق في ملذاتهم التي تفوق ملذات ومجون بني أمية وبني العباس(رضوان الله عليهم), حتماً ستوظّف تلك الأموال كي “تنعم” البشرية, أو على الأقل منطقة الشرق الأوسط وفي مقدمتها سوريا ولبنان, بالحقبة السعودية الثالثة, تلك الحقبة التي تحدّث عنها مطولاً أسعد أبو خليل في جريدة “الأخبار” اللبنانية. كأنه لايكفينا في سوريا من نكبات سعودية هذا التمدد الفاضح للوهابية في المحافظات السورية بذريعة الدين والذي يزداد يوماً إثر يوم؟ كأنه لايكفينا من شرور الوهابية وجهلها أن احتلّت الفضاء, فبتنا منكوبين بفضائيات من قبيل “الرسالة” و”إقرأ” الهادفة إلى إلغاء العقل والقضاء عليه, وسلسلة روتانا المختصة بالخلاعة/الحداثة على الطريقة الوهابية الخ…؟. كأنه لايكفينا من شرورها هذه الجمعيات التي تدعمها في مناطق محددة من سوريا ولبنان, وأيضاً شراء العقارات والأسواق التجارية التي تُشترى بأموال وهابية, أيضاً في مناطق محددة من سوريا ولبنان؟.
قبل الختام, ينبغي أن أوجه شكري الشخصي للسيدين الفاضلين سايسكس وبيكو تغمدهما الله بواسع رحمته, إذ أنهما جعل بيننا وبين السعودية حدوداً جغرافية, وإلا لكان الله في عون السوريين. وعلى كل سوري يدرك قيمة سوريا وحضارتها ويغار عليها.. سوريا التي أبدعت أبجد وهوز.. سوريا مهد الحضارات قبل أن ينكبها الله بأولئك البدو الغزاة البرابرة الذين لم يتركوا أي اثر حضاري أو معماري في بلاد الشام كلها(وحتى مصر) سوى الجامع الأموي(شخصياً نعتقد أنهم حولوه إلى جامع لأنه كان كنيسة ومن قبل هذا كان معبداً يهودياً وربما لولا ذلك لم كنا رأينا أي أثر معماري), أن يشكر أولئك السادة أعني سايكس وبيكو.
مؤامرة سعودية؟.. صح النوم يانظام.. المؤامرة كانت ظاهرة للعيان منذ بدأ ماعُرف بحلف الرئيس رفيق الحريري والسيد عبد الحليم خدام والسيد غازي كنعان والنائب وليد جنبلاط من جهة في مواجهة شخصيات محددة في النظام السوري. وكان من المفترض أن يلتقط النظام السوري خيوط هذه المؤامرة منذ انتقد السيد خدام السيد فاروق الشرع بمثل تلك الطريقة في المؤتمر القطري الأخير قبيل انشقاقه, فشخص مثل السيد عبد الحليم خدّام بالتأكيد لم تكن دوافع انتقاده ونقده الغيرة على سوريا ومستقبلها(بالمناسبة قصص فساد السيد خدام تعود إلى عام 1958 سنة حل حزب البعث لصالح الوحدة ولهذا الحديث مقام آخر).. مؤامرة سعودية!.. صح النوم.

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May 31st, 2008, 5:55 am

 

83. Akbar Palace said:

AIG said:

Why does the UN keep sanctioning Iran, including China and Russia?

And the UN sanctioned Saddam’s Baathist Iraq 17 times in 12 years. The last one, UNSC Resolution 1441 was voted upon unanimously (including Syria). And let’s not forget Hillary’s vote…

People forget so quickly.

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May 31st, 2008, 6:19 am

 
 

85. wizart said:

First Housing, Now Oil

“A True Energy Crisis”

The twin blows of housing and oil are causing a headache for the Federal Reserve. Fed policymakers know how to deal with one shock at a time, but it’s hard to devise a policy that addresses both at once. The housing bust is deflationary because it makes people feel poorer. That argues for easier monetary policy. The oil spike also makes people poorer, but it has an inflationary impact as well. On May 28, Dow Chemical (DOW) announced price increases of up to 20%, precipitated by what CEO Andrew Liveris called “a true energy crisis.”

Ideally, the Fed would like to ease interest rates to get housing back on its feet and offset the deflationary effects of higher spending on fuel without making investors and the public worry that it’s going soft on inflation. Says Mark Gertler, a New York University economist: “A lot of the discussion coming out of the Fed is aimed at shoring up credibility.”

The risk for the Fed is that the economy gets stuck in slo-mo, but surging inflation expectations prevent the central bank from providing monetary relief. That could be bad news, especially if high gas prices soak up disposable income at the same time that Americans decide to save more to compensate for their abrupt loss of housing wealth. A higher savings rate is good for the U.S. economy’s long-term health, though it would be deadly for short-run economic growth if it rose too suddenly.

It seems strange that oil prices are soaring at a time when the housing slump is killing economic growth. One explanation, of course, is that the appetite for oil is still strong in China and other parts of the world where growth is stronger. But even in the U.S., high oil prices have done little so far to suppress demand. That’s because there’s no ready substitute. People are consuming nearly as much gas now as when it cost half as much because they don’t have much choice if they want to buy groceries and get to work. Meanwhile, production of oil hasn’t gone up much, either, because companies are already producing flat-out from existing fields. The result is that the soaring price hasn’t caused a glut, as you would expect if oil were overpriced. And that has emboldened speculators to keep bidding the price higher, testing what the market will bear.

Just Another Fact of Life

Gradually, though, the U.S. economy shows signs of doing what the textbooks predict it will, namely adjusting to higher oil prices. Airlines are starting to cut routes and raise fares, which is likely to reduce fuel use by simply discouraging air travel. With diesel even pricier than gasoline, some truckers are parking their rigs. Dan Little, president of Little & Little Trucking in Carrollton, Mo., hasn’t driven since March and says he’s spending his time trying to organize protests against the high price of diesel.

And gasoline consumption is finally starting to going down, albeit only slightly. That trend should continue as long as oil prices remain high. “In the last gas crisis in the 1970s we saw a tremendous ability to adjust,” says Edward Glaeser, a Harvard University economist. In the long run, says Glaeser, “the car fleet is just very malleable.”

Some sectors even stand to benefit from higher oil prices. American-made steel, for example, is becoming cost-competitive because of the high energy cost of shipping steel from places like China, notes Jeff Rubin, chief economist of CIBC World Markets. Says Rubin: “Now distance costs money.”

Eventually, then, costly oil could become just another fact of life. As for housing, the fall in prices will make houses affordable to a new generation of buyers. Right now, though, it’s hard to see past the pain.

With David Kiley in Detroit

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May 31st, 2008, 7:47 am

 

86. offended said:

test

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May 31st, 2008, 9:26 am

 

87. SimoHurtta said:

Sim,
Moshe Dayan was wrong in what he said but he was speaking about Israel as a country. You on the other hand generalized about all Israelis individually. But it is ok. The more I point out your racist comments the more opportunity you will have to get over them and change your ways.

AIG you small minded militaristic “atheistic” Zionist extremist, I did not compare individual Israelis to dogs. I clearly did speak about Israeli general attitude in their (the country’s) handling external and internal problems with “non-chosen people”. Israeli strategy is still a pit bull behaviour as it was in the days of Moshe Dayan. And the the actions on the ground prove that the minimal peace seeking items in Israeli politicians speeches are only a camouflage in the “Jewish Reich’s” expansive attempts. How else can it be justified that the roadblocks and settlements in West Bank only are growing when there should be “peace negotiations”.

AIG your pit bull country has no intention to find peaceful solutions. Iran, Hizbollah, Hamas etc are only excuses in building Eretz Israel. If you would really want peace you would tomorrow allow creating Palestine based on 1967 borders, give Golan back and demolish your wast nuclear arsenal. Your country’s strategy is to make insane ever shifting demands (perfectly well knowing that the demands can’t be approved) and play time. You demand others to recognize Jewish Israel, but you do not recognize the Palestine and their rights. That is simply absurd.

As for your story about Livni it is a lie. If she would have said it, there would have been a huge story around it.

Well the story was told to me personally by a Finnish reporter who was a couple meters away from the event. I can’t see any reason he lied to me. As the Moshe Dayan quote shows the destroy, react and retaliate with force theme has been and is constantly present in Israeli politicians speeches. Nowadays your leaders (political and military) even hint more or less openly using nuclear bombs in pre-emptive actions. Also the Israeli actions in Lebanon in summer 2006 favour the “destroy neighbours” quote. So I have every reason to believe that my friend told what Livni said.

Read what Livni said in Israeli TV.
What Does Israel Want? Ilan Pappe

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May 31st, 2008, 9:54 am

 

88. wizart said:

Friends of the Earth Finland is a membership organization and a coalition of individual members, action groups, local FoE organizations and like-minded Finnish NGOs. It was founded in June 1996 in Turku. The objective of the organization is to promote
the creation of a democratic and ecologically sustainable society,
locally oriented economy, social, economic, political and intergenerational equality, protection of Earth from further destruction, preservation of the World’s ecological, cultural and ethnic diversity, work against military structures, human and animal rights and co-operation of organizations and progressive groups.

The power of the organization rises from broadminded thinking and a vast diversity of people. The scope of activity varies from national to regional and from global campaigns to everyday issues of way of living. Local action relies on the activity of creative individuals. National campaigns are planned in annual meetings. The amount of members and sub-organizations is growing rapidly. FoE Finland has no official relations with the government, political parties, churches/religions or companies other than through its individual members. FoE Finland is both politically and religiously impartial. However, FoE Finland may work closely with such interest groups especially when engaged in lobbying and advocacy work. Moreover, FoE Finland works closely with other progressive organizations, such as the Finnish Society for Nature Conservation and the Service Center for Development Cooperation. The activity is financed mainly by membership fees and private donations, and also by the government.

http://www.foei.org

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May 31st, 2008, 10:37 am

 

89. wizart said:

Lessons From Peace Diplomacy Inspire US Representative Keith Ellison On Visit To Norway

Keith Ellison, a Minnesota representative (D) in the House, visited Norway in early January. Ellison wanted to learn from Norway’s peace efforts, as well as about the roots of his constituents.

In an interview with the Norwegian newspaper Aftenposten, Ellison spoke warmly of Norway’s efforts to promote peace and reconciliation. Ellison emphasized that peace processes create hope: “When there is no process, hopelessness will surface, followed by despair and then by murderous thoughts. Processes keep the hope going.” Ellison is supporting legislation seeking to establish a cabinet-level Peace Department in the U.S. In another interview with Star Tribune, Ellison stated, ”This trip … helps me to see that it is an important part of legislation that I’ll push with renewed energy and vigor … I intend to continue to organize community around peaceful resolutions of conflict.” He also pointed out that Norway has established what he called a “culture of peace.” If the U.S. would acquire the same kind of peace-making skills Norway has, Ellison continued, conflicts such as the war in Iraq could be avoided.

In Norway Keith Ellison (right), a Minnesota representative (D) in the House, meets with former Prime Minister Kjell Magne Bondevik (left) who is now President of the Oslo Center for Peace and Human Rights. Photo by Erling Rimestad

Ellison said he is very much aware of the Norwegian-American heritage in Minnesota, and how much it means to his constituents. According to Ellison, this heritage puts emphasis on social responsibility and on “the public interest.” The most important matters on Ellison’s political agenda are the promotion of peacekeeping work, improving conditions for America’s poor, extending health insurance to those who cannot afford it, maintaining equality of law and the prevention of human rights violations. The trip to Norway thus seemed fitting.

In Norway, Ellison met former Prime Minister Kjell Magne Bondevik, who is now president of the Oslo Center for Peace and Human Rights. The congressman also met with representatives from the International Peace Research Institute and the Norwegian Institute of International Affairs (NUPI), headed up by Jan Egeland, a former undersecreatary-general for Humanitarian Affairs at the United Nations. Egeland has been described by Time Magazine as one of the individuals who shape our world. Ellison was impressed by Norway’s peace efforts, and by its willingness to communicate with parties with which it disagrees. In that respect, he was also impressed by the open dialogue between the Norwegian government and Norwegian Muslim communities.

Norway is strongly committed to environmental protection and fighting climate change, something that did not escape Ellison on his trip. He met with the Dean of the Norwegian University of Life and Sciences, which works with the University of Minnesota on climate change issues. “This oil-rich nation has not sacrificed its commitment to renewable energy,” Ellison told Star Tribune.

Ellison is not the first U.S. government official to visit Norway. Each year, the Norwegian government hosts a group of representatives from the U.S. Congress and their staffers, through the Norwegian-American Parliamentary Exchange Program (NAPEP). On the American side, these programs cater in the most part to members of the Norway Caucus, of which Ellison is a member.

Ellison is the first member of Congress to declare himself a Muslim, and he created quite a bit of commotion when he insisted on being sworn into office with his hand on his Quran. Ellison represents the Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party (DFL), and calls himself a true Democrat. “Its your values and your political platform that decides whether you get people’s support,” Ellison told Aftenposten, explaining why his constituency of Norwegian, Swedish and German ancestry had chosen him to represent them in Congress.

Caroline Schonheyder

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May 31st, 2008, 11:16 am

 

90. Qifa Nabki said:

Why-Discuss

Thanks for your thoughts. Most useful.

I wonder if Sami’s around, and if so, maybe he could respond to you?

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May 31st, 2008, 11:36 am

 

91. Honest Patriot said:

Debate this:

If Barak Obama becomes president the greatest challenge to his success in the Middle East will not be under his control. It will be whether Iran, Hamas, Hezbollah, and to a lesser extent Syria understand and take advantage of the significant and unique opportunity they have to become partners in realizing a just peace in the Middle East and thus retain an important status in the new established order, or whether they will persist in the extreme position of refusing an accommodation with the existence of Israel as a state with a Jewish character. The real agents for peace – if they choose to do it – will be those countries/groups. They will have a willing partner in Obama. For certain, there will be quite a few saboteurs, extremists from both camps: al-Qaeda-types in the Arab camp and fanatically religious Jews in the Israeli camp. The challenge will be for everyone to prevent them from spoiling the opportunity. Will wisdom prevail? Will Obama be the next US President? Will Iran/Hamas/Hezbollah/Syria cooperate with Obama?

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May 31st, 2008, 11:39 am

 

92. Qifa Nabki said:

A proper civil state is all that can cure what ails the Lebanese

By The Daily Star
Saturday, May 31, 2008
Editorial

Lebanon’s feuding politicians managed a last-minute escape act by agreeing to a temporary fix in Doha earlier this month, but they have yet to address the primary cause of this country’s troubles: The great majority of the Lebanese have outgrown the tribal mishmash that passes for their political system. The general population cannot be “re-educated” in such a way that it again embraces (or ignores) the essentially apartheid principles upon which the current order was based – and which continue to defy all the tinkering that has taken place. The solution, therefore, lies in updating the machinery of governance so that all Lebanese can feel safe and secure in their own country: Lebanon must start developing a civil state to replace the sectarian monstrosity that inexorably turns its citizens against one another.

True, there is an obvious contradiction here because while most individual Lebanese are consistently damaged by the sectarian system, most of the politicians would be lost without it. They cannot be enthusiastic about scrapping a set-up that has endowed them (as it did their fathers and grandfathers) with unearned powers and undeserved riches, but even they are running out of choices. The broadly Christian-Muslim split that typified the 1975-1990 Civil War has been succeeded (at least for now) by an intra-Islamic one between Sunnis and Shiites, but the focus of intolerance can only shift so many times – especially in the face of an increasingly sophisticated population. Eventually, a critical mass of Lebanese will not be so easily fooled, and they will demand real change. The only question is whether the neanderthals will remain in the ascendant long enough to have another war.

Doha was better than nothing, and all Lebanese should be grateful for the time its has bought them. But the causes of the crisis remain untouched, even unacknowledged, and the electoral component of the agreement demonstrates that the politicians have not been cured of their instinctive reliance on sectarian formulas and back-room plotting.

President Michel Suleiman is very new to the job, but he enjoys the rare distinction of being trusted by large numbers of all Lebanese. He is a natural candidate, therefore, to champion the dismantling of the sectarian fetters that have bound this country from its birth. Circumstances have made Prime Minister Fouad Siniora a more polarizing figure, but he can start to fix that by joining the president. Speaker Nabih Berri’s reasons for taking part should be obvious: It his community that suffers most – and so is most in danger of being radicalized – under the current system.

There is, of course, an alternative: more dead people.

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May 31st, 2008, 11:40 am

 

93. Honest Patriot said:

Amen.

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May 31st, 2008, 12:01 pm

 

94. ausamaa said:

The Daily Star prophecy:

“Circumstances have made Prime Minister Fouad Siniora a more polarizing figure, but he can start to fix that by joining the president”

..and the innocent poor guy could do nothing but go with the Current. Or what he thought to be the Current!

That is how people Sin, right? By going with the current.

Then they can go into a short confessional and they become Saints and trusted again and we can count on them to bulid a State!

That is a gross oversemplication by to say the least by the highly objective and unbiased Daily Star. And if Lebanon hope for a brighter future rests with a born-again Siniora. Then good luck every one…

What does the Daily Star think of the intelligence of its readers?? They must think they are certified uninitiated Idiots.

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May 31st, 2008, 1:34 pm

 

95. Qifa Nabki said:

Ausamaa

You of all people should have faith in the healing power of time.

After all, you express great admiration for people like Michel Aoun (once an advocate of regime change in Syria because of its support for “terrorist” organizations like Hizbullah and Hamas, just a few years ago).

If Aoun can “see the light”, surely Saniora can, right…

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May 31st, 2008, 3:50 pm

 

96. Friend in America said:

I am more optimistic than any time in the last 3 years, but it is in Syria’s interests, and Israel’s, to come to an agreement soon. Time is not on Syria’s side nor on Israel’s. At present it is politically possible.

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May 31st, 2008, 4:11 pm

 

97. why-discuss said:

Aussama

In my eyes , Siniora reelection is a convenient facade, agreed upon by both parties for the US and donors who were worried by the forcing and the success of Hezbollah.
Siniora’s presence will give an impression of continuity and a ‘success’ for majority. This will ensure the flow of economical support, key for Lebanon recovery.
If Siniora gets rid of his hysterical and uncompromising advisors, Geagea, Jumblatt, Fatfat, Hamade and his useless ministry of interior, Sabeh, then he could very well get recognition from more lebanese and with the help of Sleiman put the country on the right track.
If he does not then I think the country may crack again.

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May 31st, 2008, 4:16 pm

 

98. Friend in America said:

Regarding the gossip story about pending reshuffling of leadership in Washington,
Condellesa Rice is positioning herself to become John McCain’s running mate. A smart political move that I would support. The Christopher Hill situation is serious. The Hill (and Rice) strategy was to get a full disclosure of North Korea’s international nuclear dealings as well as dismantling its nuclear facility. The documents on international activity were turned over about 2 weeks ago. They were incomplete and there appears to be some fabrication. So, the military in Pongyang again triumphed and the White House leaders, who reluctantly went along with the Hill-Rice strategy, are “pulling the plug on that strategy. Another indication of the military getting an upper hand is the nuclear scientist in Pakistan just “recanted” his confession of 4 years ago.
He is getting support to do so internationally and domestically. Domestically it is the military. It does not take much guessing to identify the international party.

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May 31st, 2008, 4:37 pm

 

99. Qifa Nabki said:

Why-Discuss

What do you see as the top priorities for the next Lebanese government? (Not this one, the 2009 one).

It’s not possible to say for certain what the alliances are going to look like, but let’s say that Hizbullah/Amal and the FPM gain more seats such that they possess a 55% majority, or something like that.

In that case, what should the priorities be, in your opinion?

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May 31st, 2008, 4:40 pm

 

100. Qifa Nabki said:

My God, a Rice vice-presidency?!

What a nightmare.

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May 31st, 2008, 4:41 pm

 

101. Seeking the Truth said:

I’m having second thoughts.
Reluctance of the majority of Israelis to relinquish control of the Golan Heights, could represent the biggest obstacle to a peace treaty, and not the required change of the Syrian regime’s policies vis-à-vis Iran, Hizbullah and Hamas.

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May 31st, 2008, 5:25 pm

 

102. AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Seeking,
Those two things go hand in hand. The more favorable the deal for Israel, the more likely that more Israelis would support giving up the Golan. The issues are related. If Syria does not flip, the chances of a deal are slim to none. If it does, the chances are much better but it is not a slam dunk. I would still be opposed to the deal but many other Israelis would change their minds.

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May 31st, 2008, 5:36 pm

 

103. why-discuss said:

Qn

Thanks for asking. Humbly, I think the priorities of the lebanese government should be:

Internally:

- Reconciliation steps between Lebanese through meetings and popular reunions with normal people. Not only among politicians but also between religious leaders. I want to see Sfeir sitting with Kabbani and Fadhallaha and Nasrallah too. Afer some time, this should lead to an official ceremony of national reconciliation.
- Establish a commitee to regularly organize national reconciliation follow ups. This is an ongoing process.
- Elaboration of strict media guidelines banishing vocal and written excesses that may trigger hatred and violence.
- Establish a strong internal security apparatus with increased infiltrations of threatening foreign groups.
- Elaboration of a national defense strategy and an increase in spending on the army build up. Russia and China should be approached too as US is shy of giving serious weapons to Lebanon.
- Elaboration of an acceptable set of civil rights for Palestinians.
- Officially cancel the Cairo accord. All Palestinians camps should be under the army control.
- Adding a clause in the Consitution or establishing a law rejectiing the granting of citizenship to Palestinian refugees.
- Elaboration of a strategy together with Hezbollah of economical infra structures and industry in the south of Lebanon.

etc…

Foreign Policy

- Develop a guideline of national interests to follow in foreign policy.
- Reconciliation and normalization with Syria through visits and exchange of ambassadors.
- Reopen the Shebaa farm issues in the international reunions.
- Increase political exchanges with neighboring non arab countries: Lebanon should turn to Asia much more. Turkey is the ideal partner and intermediary.
- Resist to US and western pressures and develop a national foreign policy in line with to national interests.
etc..

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May 31st, 2008, 5:38 pm

 

104. Qifa Nabki said:

Why-Discuss

You have some great ideas. Here’s what I think:

- Reconciliation steps between Lebanese through meetings and popular reunions with normal people. Not only among politicians but also between religious leaders. I want to see Sfeir sitting with Kabbani and Fadhallaha and Nasrallah too. Afer some time, this should lead to an official ceremony of national reconciliation.
- Establish a commitee to regularly organize national reconciliation follow ups. This is an ongoing process.

This is an excellent idea. In fact, maybe the government should declare something like “A Year of National Reconcilliation”, and plan events throughout the year to raise consciousness about the importance of this issue. I envision the establishment of public spaces in all of the major cities that are “gardens of reconcilliation and forgiveness” or some such thing… Also, a couple of big musical events to celebrate national unity, etc.

Such things may be dismissed as plastic surgery when what we need is cardiac surgery, but I do believe that consciousness raising of this sort is very important, and greatly unifying. I remember after the war, LBC had a program on TV called “al-Awwal 3al LBC”, in which a film crew traveled all around the country visiting different villages, where people would compete in fun and interesting competitions to show off the prowess of their village for a particular thing: whether it was the best tasting olives, or the most talented dirbekeh players, or the greatest dabke dancers, etc. I was just a kid at the time, but I thought it was a great show, because it showed the Lebanese at their best… to each other! And it brought people together, etc.

- Elaboration of strict media guidelines banishing vocal and written excesses that may trigger hatred and violence.

This is extremely important. I agree wholeheartedly, although, as with any example of attempts to moderate free speech, it will be difficult to do. But something should be done, especially during the election campaign time.

- Establish a strong internal security apparatus with increased infiltrations of threatening foreign groups.
- Elaboration of a national defense strategy and an increase in spending on the army build up. Russia and China should be approached too as US is shy of giving serious weapons to Lebanon.

Agreed.

- Elaboration of an acceptable set of civil rights for Palestinians.
- Officially cancel the Cairo accord. All Palestinians camps should be under the army control.
- Adding a clause in the Consitution or establishing a law rejectiing the granting of citizenship to Palestinian refugees.

I’d like this to be a major priority as well, but is there any chance that the Lebanese will get around to doing this? Just curious, what would the difference be between the civil rights granted, and full citizenship? Would they be totally identical, except for the right to vote? And if so, are you against granting citizenship because it would change the sectarian balance in Lebanon, or because it would relieve Israel of the burden of taking these refugees back?

- Elaboration of a strategy together with Hezbollah of economical infra structures and industry in the south of Lebanon.

Hugely important. On condition that the Hizb allows the government to gradually take its place as the sole provider of social services. In other words, the government should be given credit for doing its duty.

- Develop a guideline of national interests to follow in foreign policy.
- Reconciliation and normalization with Syria through visits and exchange of ambassadors.

Amen.

- Reopen the Shebaa farm issues in the international reunions.

I agree; but in order to do this, we need Syria to draw the borders so that we can state unequivocally that Shebaa is ours.

- Increase political exchanges with neighboring non arab countries: Lebanon should turn to Asia much more. Turkey is the ideal partner and intermediary.
- Resist to US and western pressures and develop a national foreign policy in line with to national interests.

I agree, but how do you define “national interests”? Obviously, good relations with the U.S. and Europe are very much in Lebanese national interests. Most of our diaspora live and do business in the West. We have extensive Western investment in Lebanon. And even if one totally rejects the logic of Phoenecianism and believes that Lebanon is an Arab country (as I do), there is no denying that Lebanese culture, history, people have strong ties to the West.

Anyway, thanks for your thoughts.

The only thing that I would add is the creation of a 10-year plan that lays out the gradual steps that must be taken for the eventual result of full deconfessionalization. This would basically lead to the implementation of the “end game” of the Ta’ef Accord, i.e. “the election of the first Chamber of Deputies on a national, not secterian, basis,” at which point “a senate shall be formed and all the spiritual families shall be represented in it.”

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May 31st, 2008, 6:15 pm

 

105. Seeking the Truth said:

AnotherIsraeliGuy,

It could be that the tricky part of reaching an agreement, is to find a way for how the withdrawal and the flipping should take place timewise in relation to each other.

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May 31st, 2008, 6:38 pm

 

106. wizart said:

Creating a Strategy for Peace (conventional strategic planning)

Creating a strategy for a public interest campaign involves:
~ defining goals and intermediate and short-term objectives,
~ identifying opponents,
~ carrying out a SWOT analysis
~ imagining and playing scenarios,
~ identifying primary and secondary targets,
~ identifying allies,
~ deciding what resources are required (expenses, other),
~ devising tactics, and
~ drawing up an action timetable.

Strategically nimble players are able to consider a range of scenarios in making strategic choices. Strategies are a dime a dozen, more important than planning is strategic thinking.

What do we know about Syrian and Israeli peace negotiators? What are their backgrounds and likely tactics? What’s been their track record? What’ve they learned from years of past negotiation? Do they know enough to know they’re even asking the right questions?

Issues to consider:

SWOT: Assessing strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats facing each party.

BATNA: What’s the best alternative to a negotiated settlement that each party has and why is that better than a negotiated settlement?

Strategic thinkers enable both parties to make profitable trade-offs provided they’re authorized to be realistic, decisive, courageous and responsible. Negotiating tactics not withstanding.

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May 31st, 2008, 6:53 pm

 

107. Shai said:

Wizart, thanks for the jokes… (wrote you a response in the previous thread).

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May 31st, 2008, 7:18 pm

 

108. Honest Patriot said:

Why-Discuss and QN, what does the phrase below mean? Why-Discuss wrote it and QN quoted it:
“- Establish a strong internal security apparatus with increased infiltrations of threatening foreign groups.”

And btw I believe that laws, methods, and implementations leading to an improved civic sense among the Lebanese, respect of law an order, etc., are indispensable to any long lasting improvement in the prospects for success for the country.

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May 31st, 2008, 8:12 pm

 

109. Qifa Nabki said:

HP

I see what you mean. I think that WD meant “a strong internal security apparatus [to prevent] increased infiltrations…”

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May 31st, 2008, 8:36 pm

 

110. Alex said:

Qifa Nabki, W-D,

Me too, I agree to everything you proposed.

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May 31st, 2008, 9:41 pm

 

111. ausamaa said:

Qifa,

“If Aoun can “see the light”, surely Saniora can, right…”

Only difference is that Aoun lived in exile for what he believed in, while Siniora and Feb 14 were “intimated” to vote for the extension of Lahoud.

I would rather deal with an Honest -even if troublesome- man like Aoun, than to deal with Feb 14 Parlementarians who have admitted that they voted this way or that way because they frightened of the Syrian-Lebanese security apparatus then.

Aoun was a Syrian antagonist for a long while until Syria left Lebanon, the Feb 14 heros proved to be no more than a bunch of apple-polishers and back-stabers who can easily not only be bought and sold on the open market but are shameless enough to admit something amounting to treason and who chose to place their political carreers ahead and personal safety ahead of their country’s interest. THat is if one can bring himself to beleive anything they say. Or have said before and now!

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May 31st, 2008, 10:44 pm

 

112. Honest Patriot said:

Ausamaa,

There is enough hypocrisy and corruption to go around for most if not all politicians in Lebanon. This includes the General who conveniently changed his mind about the likely culprits in the Hariri assassination (he is on video declaring who he thinks they are) and who kept playing spoiler recently until he had no other choice because his new allies were going to abandon him after being pressured by their Iranian “benefactors.”
If one uses the same logic you are, one can say that at least Geagea went to jail in order to stay on Lebanese soil – instead of exiling himself to the good life like Aoun did.
I’m no fan of Geagea or any of the leaders and zu3ama who are responsible for the repeated fiascos in Lebanon. But let’s apply the same metric to all.
There is one exception, and, in my eyes, only one. And indeed that is Siniora. I don’t believe Siniora was a MP at the time of the extension of Lahoud’s presidency so your reasoning doesn’t apply to him. The man jumped into politics by necessity after the assassination of his friend Hariri. On the world stage, and from an international perspective, he has really demonstrated himself to be the ONLY politician in Lebanon that can be regarded as a statesman – from the point of view of personality, wisdom, education, ability to express himself clearly and to communicate with any and all world leaders and their governments and staff.
The ridicule he has been subjected to by his detractors is quite regrettable and unfortunate. Siniora is a man that makes us proud to be Lebanese and/or of Lebanese origin. Aoun is not. Neither are Geagea nor any of the other clowns who pretend to be politicians and statesmen. The one other exception is the Sayyed – Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah that is. I don’t regard him as a statesman but as a remarkably gifted leader with the power to inspire not only a small country but a whole region and possibly the world. I disagree vehemently with his politics and with what I consider to be his fanaticism. But I do admire and respect the man and his talents. I also have a glimmer of hope that there is the potential in him to change into a positive force in Lebanon if/when the circumstances are right. Just a glimmer. I wouldn’t bet on it.

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May 31st, 2008, 11:06 pm

 

113. Nour said:

HP,

I believe you forgot that Sanioura was the Minister of Finance during the reign of Rafiq Hariri and many questions abound as to his honesty and integrity during that period. As for your description of his statesmanship, I’m afraid I simply do not see it. A man who kisses and hugs the secretary of state of the country that is supplying the weapons to kill his people during the very time that his people are being killed by these weapons is no statesman in my book. A man who writes a piece praising, glorifying, and idolizing a figure such as the Saudi king is no statesman in my opinion. A man who says things like “I have no worries about Lebanon because I know it is in the conscience of King Abdallah” is as far from statesmanship as one can be. And let us not forget that this is the same man who, after his government passed the two decisions that led to the early May confrontations and sent those decisions to the UN, pronounced two days later that those decisions were never made. Of course these are only some of the many many faults in Sanioura that clearly show him to lack any qualities of a true statesman, but they should suffice for now.

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May 31st, 2008, 11:26 pm

 

114. why-discuss said:

QN

I think no country should be obliged to give citizenship to refugees that they have received temporary out of human compassion.
The same way I don’t think Syria should be obliged to grant citizenship to the Iraqis they have accepted open arms.
The countries who have created the refugees, i.e Israel for the Palestinians and the US for the Iraqis are the SOLE responsible of their fate. They are the one who have to come up with a solution. Of course they have been throwing the burden on who ever accepted the refugees, like Jordan, Lebanon or Syria. In addition Palestinians in Lebanon( and Jordan) have not been trouble free. Their presence has cause a lot of harm to Lebanon and have triggered the civil war. Most Palestinians in the camps have had low level education and they are sunni moslems. Their integration in the lebanese society will certainly create additional social and economical burden and increased sectarian tensions as it could be interpreted as a way to change the religious balance of the population. I don’t think Lebanese would happily accept to give them citizenship after such negative experiences.
The situation may be different in Syria where Palestinians were more integrated to the social system: Young educated Palestinians are in the Syrian army and treated like syrians.
Lebanon has all these reasons to make a law or official declaration that granting citizenship to Palestinian refugees is illegal or would require a popular referendum. This would calm many Lebanese who believe that this is the main plan of Israel and the US for Lebanon. That would definitely close that door on Israel and the US who will be obliged to explore other venues.

Obviously, good relations with the U.S. and Europe are very much in Lebanese national interests. Most of our diaspora live and do business in the West. We have extensive Western investment in Lebanon. And even if one totally rejects the logic of Phoenecianism and believes that Lebanon is an Arab country (as I do), there is no denying that Lebanese culture, history, people have strong ties to the West.

I agree with that but I believe Lebanon has been concentrating too much on the West and rich arab countries for historical reasons and also economical. Unfortunately this has come with constant intrusion on the part of these countries that have brought the Lebanese against each other. The relation with these countries is useful but very polluted and slippery.
Lebanon should open up to Asia with whom they have no history of colonialism and hegemony: India, Japan, Turkey, China and even Iran.
I havent given any of the priorities in then economic area, but I was pleased to hear Sleiman expressing that Lebanon should develop industries and agriculture and not just concentrating on tourism. I agree wholeheartly with that vision that would give Lebanon more autonomy and would keep the brains home.

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June 1st, 2008, 12:39 am

 

115. Syrian said:

AIG,

I think this relates nicely to our discussion from last night

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June 1st, 2008, 12:50 am

 

116. why-discuss said:

Nour,
Siniora is certainly not a statesman, far from that, but he is known and popular with European leaders and the present US administration. For the time being he represents some sort of continuity in the western eyes and that will ensure the flow of economical aid.
Is it not sufficient argument to re-instate him?

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June 1st, 2008, 12:52 am

 

117. Qifa Nabki said:

Ausamaa

What you are saying doesn’t make sense.

You respect Aoun because he … fled to France “for what he believed in”, but you scorn the March 14 guys because they stayed in Lebanon and followed the Syrian line for fear of their lives??!

So you tolerate a 180 degree change in Aoun’s statements, but not one by Hariri & co., even though there was bad blood between them and the Syrians for quite a few years prior to 2005: lots of resentment, lots of fear and intimidation, etc. They didn’t suddenly flip overnight, the way Aoun did.

I think you “would rather deal” with anyone who did what was best for Bashar. It has nothing to do with “honesty”. Let’s wait and see how the alliances change in the coming months, ahead of the next elections. That will be entertaining, but not half as entertaining as listening to you justify why this former March 14er was never really that bad, and this former March 8er is a back-stabbing apple-polisher.

I’m really looking forward to that. :-)

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June 1st, 2008, 1:23 am

 

118. Qifa Nabki said:

Why-Discuss

I’ll respond to your post later, but I wanted to say right away that I agree with you about industry/agriculture.

Actually, one of the few things that Lahoud fought for that actually made good sense was the dam up near Faraya. Lebanon could put in 6 or 7 dams of different sizes, and sell water to other countries, create hydroelectric power, etc. Instead, we import water from Crete, and are still rationing electricity. Ridiculous.

We get more rainfall than Manchester, and yet most of it runs into the sea, erodes our soil, etc.

Here’s something on this subject from Blogging Beirut:

“Lebanon’s most significant (and perhaps only) natural resource is water, or what I’m dubbing Blue Gold.

It is estimated that over 1 billion cubic meters of fresh water are ‘lost’ to sea every year. 1 billion cubic meters! And it’s renewable…

Though we may not have a single drop of Black Gold (oil), our Blue Gold surplus is so great, so pure, and so renewable that we could pay off our entire debt (40B USD) by just harnessing the excess and shipping it out at a premium to our neighbors over the course of 10 years – perhaps less if fresh water prices keep rising as expected.

A hydrologist once told me that she had seen plans – in dusty boxes in the water ministry – drawn up before the civil war, of major water works in the bekaa, south, and metn, that were genius, pure genius. She said that had the Qaraoun Dam been fully developed, the entire bekaa region would have free power and irrigation.”

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June 1st, 2008, 1:37 am

 

119. Alex said:

Bashar will visit Lebanon!!
(ya3ni, according to a Lebanese source)

وكالة أنباء لبنانية تتحدث عن زيارة للأسد إلى بيروت الشهر الحالي

دمشق لا تؤكد ولا تنفي
دمشق: سعاد جروس بيروت: «الشرق الاوسط»
لم تتمكن «الشرق الأوسط» من الحصول على معلومات رسمية مؤكدة في دمشق حول انباء نقلتها الوكالة المركزية اللبنانية عن «مصادر مطلعة» ومفادها أن الرئيس السوري بشار الأسد سيقوم بزيارة الى بيروت في النصف الثاني من شهر يونيو (حزيران) لتقديم التهاني للرئيس اللبناني ميشال سليمان، في حين أعلن رسميا أن الرئيس الأسد سيبدأ هذا الأسبوع جولة عربية بصفته رئيسا للقمة العربية إلى كل من الإمارات العربية والكويت. وتأتي جولة الأسد العربية في إطار «استمرار التشاور والتنسيق العربي».

وأفادت مصادر إعلامية بأن الرئيس اللبناني المنتخب العماد ميشال سليمان ينوي القيام بزيارة إلى سورية بعد الانتهاء من تأليف حكومة الوحدة الوطنية اللبنانية برئاسة السنيورة وذلك تلبية لدعوة من الرئيس السوري بشار الأسد خلال اتصال تهنئة كان تلقاه منه.

وسبق للرئيس بشار الأسد أن زار لبنان عام 2002، وكانت الأولى لرئيس سوري بعد سبعة وعشرين عاما. وكانت وكالة «المركزية» اللبنانية للأنباء نشرت نبأ نقلا عن «مصادر مطلعة» مفاده أن الرئيس السوري سيزور بيروت في النصف الثاني من يونيو (حزيران) الجاري لتقديم التهنئة للرئيس العماد ميشال سليمان في قصر بعبدا.

واذا صحت المعلومات فان الخطوة السورية تأتي بعد الزيارة التي قام بها امير قطر الشيخ حمد بن خليفة آل ثاني لدمشق حيث أجرى محادثات مع الاسد

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June 1st, 2008, 1:37 am

 

120. Alex said:

http://www.asharqalawsat.com/leader.asp?section=3&article=473057&issueno=10778

Abdel Rahman writing about Syria … again.

معركة دمشق ضد السعوديين

تدور معركة صامتة وصاخبة من جهتين مختلفتين، الرياض ودمشق.

فدمشق رفضت اقتراح الامين العام للجامعة العربية باصلاح العلاقة العربية مع ايران، سورية رفضت الفكرة بصفتها رئيسة القمة العربية. ترى ان لا أحد على خلاف مع طهران إلا السعودية، وبالتالي دعوا السعوديين وحدهم يتحملون المشكلة. دمشق سربت افكارها في الصحافة اللبنانية. ورغم انها نفتها رسميا، إلا ان الجميع يدركون انها تصريحات سورية حرفا بحرف، وليست ايرانية رغم محاولة الايحاء بذلك. فدمشق تحاول منذ فترة اقناع الخليجيين بان ايران وراء تصريحات، واخبار، ووراء احداث بيروت، وان دمشق ليست طرفا.

بالتأكيد لإيران دور كبير في ازمات المنطقة، انما لا نستطيع ان نحملها كل ما يحدث ويقال، حتى إن ظهر منسوبا لوكالة ايرانية، مثل فارس، وغيرها التي استخدمت بكثرة في الآونة الأخيرة في نشر تصريحات مصدرها سورية هدفها ابعاد الشبهات عن دمشق والصاقها بايران، او استخدمت فيها محطة التلفزيون الايرانية.

ميزة الخلاف مع الايرانيين انه واضح، ويمكن تعريفه. فرغبة النظام في طهران في الهيمنة على شرق المنطقة العربية، من الخليج والعراق وحتى لبنان باتت معلنة، قالوا للاميركيين لنا دور في العراق وفي الخليج، وقالوا للسعوديين تعالوا نتفاهم في لبنان، وهكذا. امر يصعب ان يتخيل المرء ان يحقق بلا مخاطر وصدام طائفي بالغ الخطورة، مما يجعل كل المنطقة في حال استنفار سياسي وأمني. ثم هناك الملف النووي حيث لا تخفي طهران نواياها بتصنيع السلاح الذري. وهنا الخليج معني بهذا الخطر اكثر من اسرائيل، التي يروج اسمها تبريرا لتصنيع السلاح، كما كان يفعل صدام في الثمانينات ثم استخدم اسلحته الفتاكة ضد ايران ومواطنيه الاكراد واحتل الكويت. قناعة الدول الخليجية العربية الست مجتمعة بان السلاح الايراني يستهدفها، وسيضعها تحت الابتزاز الايراني في المستقبل، ان لم يستخدم بشكل مباشر ضدها. هذه هي الخلافات مع ايران واضحة، ورغم خطورتها الا ان التواصل ما بين الرياض وطهران لم ينقطع، بل يقال انه الذي أنقذ المنطقة في بعض التوترات، وان اخفق في أزمة انقلاب حزب الله الاخير التي تسببت لاول مرة في ملاسنة علنية بين الامير سعود الفيصل وزير الخارجية السعودي واحمدي نجاد الرئيس الايراني.

لهذا جاءت تسريبات دمشق الصحفية ضد السعودية مثيرة، لانها تعبر عن حال توتر وحنق وافتعال معركة، تكمل تصريحات فاروق الشرع نائب الرئيس السوري في مطلع هذا العام الذي تنبأ بسقوط مناطق النفط السعودية. التسريبات السورية الاخيرة في الصحف قالت ان السعودية تتآمر لقلب النظام السوري. يالها من تهمة! انا واثق ان السوريين يعلمون حق اليقين لو ان السعودية تبنت مشروع اسقاط نظامهم لن يكون ذلك مستحيلا، وبطريقة «شرعية». انما السعودية ليست سورية في لغة التعامل مع الازمات، فاقصى عقوباتها تخفيض او قطع اتصالاتها، أيضا لعبت السعودية دور الداعم الدائم لاستقرار سورية طوال ثلاثين عاما. ليس بالضرورة حبا في النظام بل لانها ضد الفوضى في المنطقة، وتعتقد ان الخلافات مهما ساءت تصلح في النهاية، ورأت ان الانظمة التي لم تصلح سلوكها لم تعمر طويلا مهما ركبت من تحالفات.

حاليا يمعن القادة السوريون في حملة متعددة الاشكال، وعبر اطراف مختلفة، تريد اهانة السعوديين واستفزازهم وتخويفهم، اعتقادا منهم ان ذلك سيجبر خصومهم على الانحناء لمطالبهم، لكن دعونا نرى.

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June 1st, 2008, 1:39 am

 

121. Honest Patriot said:

Nour,

I do know that Siniora was Finance Minister under Rafiq Hariri. I was pointing out that he was not a member of parliament and hence cannot be counted in Ausamaa’s arguments of those who yielded to Syrian pressure in the vote to renew Lahoud’s term.
As far as Siniora’s praising of the King of Saudi Arabia and other such praises, on the one hand, they are poetic praises that are quite common in the Arabic lore, and on the other hand it can be argued that paying lip homage to the King of a country that has been ultragenerous in donations and loans to Lebanon is common courtesy. What really matters is the man’s comportment in decision making, in negotiations, his outstanding ability to use logic and facts to express himself to an Arabic audience, and, importantly, to an international audience. This is why W-D is saying that Siniora is liked and respected in the West. I’ve been in the U.S. for the past 27 years and while it is fair to qualify my thoughts as being influenced by the US media, I have observed first-hand interviews and speeches from Siniora in international forums. There isn’t a single Lebanese personality that I’m aware of that presents itself and its country as clearly, logically, effectively, and persuasively as Siniora does. This is not a biased opinion of someone with an agenda. I am as apolitical as they come. It is an honest opinion based on objective observation. I can assure you that anyone in the West following the news comes to the same conclusion. Finally, if we set aside the possibly emotional anger against Siniora by some, and focus specifically on his words and actions as they relate to important decisions, events, and analyses, it would be interesting to understand why many are so accusatory of him. I just don’t see it.

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June 1st, 2008, 2:14 am

 

122. majedkhaldoun said:

I agree 100% with H.P. analysis,and statements.
but I know that Aoun, may change, he has to, his supporters will convince him to change, also Mr.M. Murr will change, and will support his son Elias AlMurr.

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June 1st, 2008, 3:49 am

 

123. Alex said:

Israel concerned: Frost around Syria is melting in Europe
By Barak Ravid

Foreign Ministry officials are growing increasingly concerned at what they see as signs that relations between Syria and European countries are thawing following many months during which the Syrian regime was internationally isolated.

In view of the restart of talks between Israel and Syria, Israeli diplomatic missions in Europe were issued instructions from Jerusalem to ask European capitals to exercise “caution” in their contacts with Damascus, because it has yet to prove the seriousness of its intent regarding to the negotiations.

In recent years Syria had suffered international isolation due to suspicions that the regime of President Bashar Assad was behind the assassination of former Lebanese prime minister Rafik Hariri and the uprising in Iraq. However, senior European figures recently resumed contacts with Syria, and Thursday French President Nicolas Sarkozy telephoned Bashar Assad, even though France had been, along with the United States, among the major players leading the isolation of Damascus.

Five days ago, Spanish Foreign Minister Miguel Moratinos visited the Syrian capital, after a year of not visiting Damascus.

Last week, Israel’s ambassadors in key European capitals received a classified telegram pointing out that the recent contacts by leading European figures are the first signs of the breakdown of Syria’s isolation.

Haaretz received a copy of the content of the telegram, which was authored by the deputy head of the Western Europe division at the Foreign Ministry, Rafi Barak. The note also included instructions for diplomatic activities in those capitals.

“It must be explained to the Europeans that the negotiations have still not begun and therefore they must be careful and measured in contacts vis a vis the Syrians,” the note read.

Barak added in the note that the Israeli diplomats should ask the Europeans to treat Syrian requests carefully, “until we can tell if they are serious [in their intentions].” “The Europeans need to be reminded that Syria continues to smuggle weapons to Hezbollah, supports Hamas and Islamic Jihad and is not disengaging from Iran. All these are issues of great concern for Israel, and they are still on the table, unresolved.”

Sources at the Prime Minister’s Bureau said last night that the content of the cable was not coordinated with them.

Foreign Ministry officials had expressed concerns that international pressure on Syria would be on the wane following the announced resumption of indirect talks between Israel and Syria and the backing Syria gave to the Doha agreement, which brought an end, two weeks ago, to the political crisis in Lebanon.

Even before Sarkozy telephoned Assad, Syrian Foreign Minister Walid Mouallem met with the French president and delivered a message from Assad that “Syria is interested that France will contribute to Israeli-Syrian negotiations.”

Details of the telephone conversation between Sarkozy and Assad, received by Haaretz, suggest that the French president expressed his satisfaction with Syria’s role in bringing the crisis in Lebanon to an end and said he expected Damascus to contribute to its implementation.

Sarkozy also expressed his support for the talks between Syria and Israel and said that “France recognizes the legitimate rights of Syria on the Golan Heights.”

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June 1st, 2008, 4:32 am

 

124. AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Alex,
This is exactly what I was warning against. Syria gains just from negotiating with Israel and Israel should not have fallen into this trap. Olmert and his party will pay a huge price for all their mistakes in the upcoming elections.

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June 1st, 2008, 4:42 am

 

125. Alex said:

AIG,

Please keep in mind that Israel in not the center of the universe.

THe Europeans, including Sarkozy, and the King of Spain, told Assad few months ago that if he helped the Lebanese to reach a deal, they will reward Syria handsomely. Actually Sarkozy mentioned that Syrian French relations will “improve in a dramatic way”

Initially Assad refused to help because his allies in the opposition did not have what they want … at that time he would have needed to put a lot of pressure on his allies in order to MAYBE convince them to accept the deal offered at the time by M14.

Last month, after the M14 group accepted the Lebanese opposition’s demands, it became possible for Syria to help reach a solution without putting unwelcome pressure on its allies.

As for Israeli Syrian negotiations … I think you need to give the Europeans some credit … they are not that naive. They know exactly how far that agreement has gone (not far!) … they know that there is a good chance Olmert will not be here in few months from now …

Their opening to Syria is Lebanon related, not Israel related.

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June 1st, 2008, 5:00 am

 

126. ausamaa said:

Qifa,

I do not expect that Aoun will have a long honeymoon with Syria, that is if a honey moon is looming in the current horizon. I expect agreements, disagreement and a lot of turn-ons and turn-offs.

But I think with Aoun, you always know where you stand. That makes things much easier to handle.

However, has Feb 14 got nothing to count on now but a mishape among the Opposition and between Syria and Aoun or Syria an Nassrallah? Has the dreams of regime change, bombing Damascuse International Airport, the useless commings and goings of the USS Cole, the landing of the IDF or the Marines, and the unlimited support by Bush and Rice evaporated and dissappeared into thin air? And is the only thing left for them and thier cheerleaders is to bet on rifts developing between the Opposition and its allies?So much for the many things they lied to people and even to themselves about…

Sure, in politics, self interest comes first especially in countries like Lebanon. But again, the Friend or even the Devil (to keep you hopes alive) that you know is better than the Judas that you knew…

But I still think Aoun is solid. Honest, independent minded for sure, but not a crook like you know who…

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June 1st, 2008, 7:57 am

 

127. Qifa Nabki said:

Ausamaa

Whatever makes sense to you.

I’m more inclined to regard them all (with few exceptions) as some variety of cheats, crooks, or zealots. But they are what we have, so we have to deal with them.

Luckily, Lebanon is becoming freer and more democratic by the day. Inshallah, within a decade or so the political scene will look considerably different.

With any luck — especially if Bashar succeeds in his peace initiatives and liberalizing programs — Syria will be freer and more democratic as well.

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June 1st, 2008, 1:55 pm

 

128. ausamaa said:

Qifa,

Nice speach, reminds one of Siniora..

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June 1st, 2008, 9:36 pm

 

129. norman said:

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Financial Times FT.com
WorldCloseSyrians wary over Golan Heights peace hopes
By Heba Saleh, recently in the Golan Heights

Published: June 2 2008 03:00 | Last updated: June 2 2008 03:00

Across the valley, the sound of a bulldozer breaks the silence of the early afternoon. The machine’s orange tentacle moves back and forth in a clearing between the houses of Majdal Shams, a Syrian village in the Golan Heights, which have been occupied by Israel since 1967.

To the Syrian citizens watching the scene from a hilltop in the sliver of the Golan still controlled by their country, Majdal Shams, its roofs shimmering in the sun, appears so near – yet so far away.

It would take less than 10 minutes to get there on foot, but that would be a walk through a mined valley and into enemy territory.

There are no Israeli troops in sight, but two large military observation stations sit atop the mountains above the village, scanning Syrian movements in the foothills and on the plains beyond that stretch to Damascus, a mere 60km away.

All that could change if the latest peace talks between Israel and Syria lead to an agreement restoring the whole territory to Syria.

Israel occupies about 1,200 sq km of the strategic territory, including five Syrian Druze villages, most of whose 20,000 inhabitants profess loyalty to Damascus.

In Syria, news of the talks revived hope – tinged with a heavy doze of caution – that Israel would give back the Golan region.

“Our previous experience does not allow us to be optimistic,” said Hamed al-Halaby, a retired teacher originally from a Golan village. “We don’t trust Israel and for 35 years this has been an inactive front. So what is going to compel them to give it back?”

Not expecting the occupation to last, he left his Golan village to study in Damascus soon after the Israelis arrived in June 1967.

But for many years, Mr Halaby was completely cut off from his family on the other side.

There are tears in his eyes when he recounts how he watched from the hilltop facing Majdal Shams the celebrations at his sister’s house when his niece got married.

Contact with his relatives is now possible through internet calls and reunions in Jordan, which signed a peace treaty with Israel in 1994. But for decades the only way of talking to his family was by loudspeaker.

Little is known about the Israeli-Syrian negotiations, mediated by Turkey, though Damascus says Israel has agreed to a full withdrawal to 1967 lines.

Ehud Olmert, Israel’s beleaguered prime minister, has not confirmed this, but he has said that his country must be prepared for “painful concessions”.

The two countries came close to an agreement in 2000 during talks in Geneva, held under the auspices of Bill Clinton, the former US president.Syria pulled out when Israel insisted on moving the 1967 border to give it full control of Lake Tiberias.

This time, too, success could prove difficult.

Mr Olmert’s tenure as prime minister is in jeopardy following calls for him to step down over corruption claims. Attacks by Syrian-backed groups, such as the Lebanese Hizbollah or the Palestinian Hamas, could also torpedo the process.

“There are too many players and the process is very fragile and vulnerable,” said Samir Altaqi, a Syrian analyst familiar with the authorities’ thinking.

“Everything could inadvertently turn upside down in case of any minor player making a wrong move.”

Israel wants Syria to distance itself from Iran, its close ally, and from Hizbollah and Hamas, as a condition for a deal. Damascus has refused. On Wednesday, it signed a new defence co-operation pact with Tehran.

All the same, Mr Altaqi insists that both sides are serious about resolving their differences. But so far, the talks seem to have had only the grudging acceptance of Washington.

“I think the Americans mind that these talks are going on,” said a western diplomat in Damascus. “They don’t like the government here and they don’t want to reward it in any way.”

The Syrians say they are not banking on any US help as long as President George W. Bush is in office, but, according to Mr Altaqi, they want a peace process under way before the next US administration is in place.

“We shouldn’t wait until the next administration to begin something,” he said. “Let’s begin now, so it would be on the agenda of any incoming administration. Then it cannot be avoided.”

Youth in the Middle East and North Africa, see separate section

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June 2nd, 2008, 3:14 am

 

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