Syrian Media – The Challenge and the Need to Act | Part II

Part II  – The Syrian Response – Shy and Feeble

by Averroes 

(Read part I here)

A media onslaught such as the one waged on Syria and its allies, and especially the non-stop pumping of sectarian hatred is and must be approached as a serious strategic threat to the country’s (and the region’s) security. But what has Syrian media channels done in lieu of countering this attack? In addition to Syrian TV – which does not enjoy an overwhelming popularity – and official newspapers, which have even less popularity, the Syrian view is represented by a very small number of scanty internet web sites. Cham Press and Syria-News are probably the best known of this category. Privately owned and enjoying a degree of freedom for sites hosted in Syria, they are probably the most read pro-Syrian sites operating from within the country.

Besides the fact that their readership is orders of magnitude less than that of Alarabiya web site for instance, these sites would qualify for no more than the low end of the Second Layer media outlets described earlier. The responses they produce to news and events vary from being feeble and incompetent, all the way to being overly coarse and abusive. On a couple of occasions, Cham Press ran inflamed articles aimed at the Saudis, and posted the picture shown here. The mock-up is most likely hijacked from some Arab internet club somewhere (was supposed to portray a group of hip-hop Arab college kids) The media Einsteins at Cham Press decided to use it in a cheap take at mocking up the Saudis instead.

saudi_syrian.jpg

Needless to say, not only do such crude tactics discredit the entire web site, they also make Al-Rashed and Co. very comfortable as these tactics downgrade the average Saudi individual, which creates an immediate immunity to the content. There is nothing in Syria that comes even close to the levels of the First Layer media the Saudis have built. The question is why is that the case? Why doesn’t (or couldn’t) Syria formulate a response to the relentless war that “Moderate” Arabs are waging against it at the media front? There are many theories.
The easiest answer, and the one often quoted by Syrian officials when asked this question, is that “it costs too much.” This is actually both true and false, depending on how you look at it. It’s true that Syria cannot match the Saudi media empire station for station, newspaper for newspaper, article for article, and writer for writer. There are estimates that the budget at Al-Rashed’s disposal is in excess of $1 Billion a year, probably many times more when you add up the many other separate networks the Saudis run. The money goes into creative marketing, which takes the shape of expensive Hollywood movies, high-budget programs, high rates for Arab and especially Western essayists, and much more as described earlier. To stand up to the challenge, a would-be Syrian network would at the bare minimum have to find educated, trained and skilled journalists that would also say “no” to lucrative job offers from Al-Rashed and Co. These are not very easy to find. The argument for the financial barrier, however, is not entirely true, because a would-be Syrian network would not have to match the Saudi empire bullet for bullet.
 
Another very plausible reason for why the Syrians choose to endure the Saudi abuse unchallenged is that there are close to 1.5 Million Syrians living and working in Saudi Arabia. This is almost a WMD that the Saudis have aimed at Damascus. In 1990, Saudi Arabia evicted close to a Million Yemenis from the country within a matter of days, because Yemen would not go along with the Saudi intentions for war against Iraq. The potential to doing something similar to its current Syrian residents – although not very likely – is never truly off-limits. This gives the Saudis a huge advantage. Where they are able to host people like Khaddam and Bayanouni, and talk openly about over-throwing the Syrian regime, while the Syrians could never do the same. The Saudis allow themselves the liberty to discuss internal Syrian, Lebanese, and Iraqi demographics and social differentiators, while no one in the entire Arab world is allowed to talk about parallel aspects internal to Saudi Arabia.

A third and hugely important reason is Saudi’s declared monopoly on Islam, and Sunni Islam in particular (when a differentiation between the two is useful, that is.) Although this has significantly receded in recent years, a majority of Muslims and Arabs world-wide still associate the Saudi state with Islam. They are literally unable (even privately) to criticize them because they genuinely fear they would be criticizing Islam. The Saudis excel at promoting and making the most of this association, and have spent billions upon billions of dollars advancing it. This gives the Saudis another advantage in that they can tap into the religious feelings of many Syrians, while the Syrians can’t do the opposite even if they wanted to. So at the best of times, the Syrian regime used to be referred to as a Ba’thi and Aflaqi (after Michelle Aflaq, the founder of the Ba’th party). In Saudi nomenclature this is an underlining of the Christian link of the party, and its secular nature. The world ‘secular’ in Saudi is marketed to sound something like the Anti-Christ in Kansas, by the very same people who are paying billions of dollars to soak the Arab recipient with American media. In the worst of times (like the last few years,) the Syrian regime is referred to (in Second and Third Layer media) as Alawi and Rafidhi, which taps into the collective heritage of age-long religious-turned-political-turned-sectarian history of conflict in the region. As a secular state, Syria does not have the same liberty of using these dark and deadly social forces.

A forth and also important reason for the Syrian position, is that decades of heavy media censorship dry up the talent pool you have. A good, self respecting journalist will not sit around and take orders from unqualified, government-imposed directors that know little about the huge developments in journalism and modern media. Like with any profession, journalists learn from making mistakes. If you do not allow them enough freedom to work and make mistakes, they’re not going to learn. The Total-Control mentality that many old-timers hold on to in Syria is massively counter productive and is hindering the development of Syrian media, as well as many other aspects of Syrian society. Some within the regime might worry about a free media exposing corruption or painting a bad picture of the country. But this way of thinking has to be challenged, as good media can really be an authority and an element of positive change in society, which is something I think the Syrian leadership wants. The barriers that such media might break actually deserve to be shattered.

A fifth reason why the Syrians are not actively answering the Saudi onslaught might actually be because they choose to. This can be looked at from two angles. For one thing, the more sophisticated your system is, the more maintenance it would need, and the more subject to faults and penetration it would become. On the other hand the more primal your system is, the easier to control and less prone to embarrassing mistakes it becomes. When you can afford very little embarrassment with other nations, you might be tempted to take the simpler approach. Another angle, and one that might have some merit to it, is that a big mouth does not make you a bigger than you really are. The abrupt folding in of the March 14th leaderships may offer some merit to that thought. Syrian leadership may have chosen to take the loud verbal abuse and preserve its energy to more tangible work on the ground.

Conclusions

The above list of possible explanations to the Syrian non-response on the media front may offer some argument in explanation of the media’s current state. However, and taking all the points above, I still think that there is a place and in fact a necessity for good media. I also believe it can be done in a smart way and with reasonable budget. The domain of a population’s public opinion is a very important front of any nation’s national security. What Al-Rashed and Co. are doing on a daily basis is an assault on the national and social integrity of the Syrian, Lebanese and other Arab societies. The poisonous venom they’re injecting into people’s minds is extremely dangerous, as it lays the ground for devastating explosions on the ground if the manipulated masses find arms and cash in their hands. We have seen it in Iraq, and we don’t want to see it in Syria or Lebanon. The reckless sectarian intimidation that Al-Rashed and Co. are waging on a daily basis is a strategic threat and cannot be left without answer. The answer to it is not by shutting down Al-Mustaqbal TV (not withstanding how trashy and irresponsible it really is,) but by offering alternative, sane media options for the recipient. The Syrian population has in general stood by its leadership during the past especially hard years. They deserve better respect of their sense of responsibly and intelligence than they’re currently getting. In fact, if the will for positive change is there, as many believe, then a well-designed, respectful and free media would help get the country there.
The inhibiting factors mentioned are real and potent, but they do not preclude the possibility of counter measures. There is place for respectful, professional, and rational Syrian media to be developed, and there are means to counter and defeat every single one of the factors mentioned. It can be done, and it can be done well. It would not require a multi-billion dollar budget per year, but a fraction of that. It can be made to operate in an attractive and diplomatic way without risking Syria’s national interests. It can show that Islam is not a Saudi monopoly, and that Muslims everywhere are sane people who are not fanatic about slitting throats of their brothers in religion, as Al-Rashed and Co. would have us believe. It needs to highlight the political nature of conflicts, and expose the shameless and irresponsible manipulation that some countries are trying to exercise over entire populations. Their foul produce must not be allowed to pass unchallenged.

Averroes

Comments (103)


Innocent Criminal said:

Well done again but i disagree with your conclusion. because in today’s and the near-future Syria you cannot build a credible media channel which syrians and/or non syrians can appreciate for many reasons but i will entertain the main 2.

first you WOULD require billions of dollars to run such a news channel because the level of corruption in syria would necessitate at least double the investment cost just for bribes.

second to reach the vital non-syrian viewer the network would need to invest in balanced well researched programming to get the viewers attention. this required skill is unavailable in your average emotional Syrian professional and your average idiotic syrian government official who would be responsible to run such a media outlet. And god forbid the government would leave the decision making process in the hand of a well-educated outsider.

Hence the focus will continue on just convincing your average Syrian Joe of what the government sees is right for the sole reason that its an easier fish to fry.

May 16th, 2008, 11:10 pm

 

Alex said:

I agree IC,

Averroes, maybe Syria already has that successful media outlet it needs to balance the frequently hostile Saudi owned media … the name is: Aljazeerah.

Otherwise … there is a serious dilemma: Will this new hypothetical media organization (one or more) try to promote Syria’s official (regime) position on every issue? … or will its directors decide what is good for ALL Syrians before they decide to promote it?

1) Take for example what happened in Lebanon this week … if this new Syrian TV station heavily criticized the Future Movement types … wouldn’t it lose forever the trust of those Syrians who are admirers of that group? (we have some of them here)

2) What will you do when a head of one of the security agencies in Syria asks the director of the station to stop broadcasting a series on Syria’s Kurds because he genuinely believe (from his 30 year experience) that it might potentially lead to some unrest in Kurdish areas.

3) What if of the Christian Bishops protested after that channel reported some event related to Christianity “the wrong way” … what if some Muslim Imam got upset because the station is showing women in Bikinis and young men drinking Arak.

For now .. as you mentioned, Syrian TV is custom designed … anything that can remotely offend any religion or any ethnic type will not make it… part of the reason why Syrian TV is exceptionally boring.

I think the options are

1) Improve the technical skills and journalistic skills, both through training, of the existing group of employees .. increase the funding and salaries to attract more qualified journalists and technicians and managers … and give them more freedom .. gradually.

2) Find some friendly sponsor in Qatar or Dubai (Syrian or not, preferably a group of investors) to start something independent … but compatible with Syria’s basic values and objectives (like promoting secularism, womens’ rights, and independent but balanced foreign policy for example) … that way, no one n Syria can have too much high expectations in terms of ability to control of influence this channel. The idea would be to meet once a quarter to review the past three months … but no daily intervention for example… setting general guidelines, not interfering in the details. And since it is not an official state owned organization, it does not have to stick to official Syrian guidelines (whatever those are)

May 16th, 2008, 11:34 pm

 

Qifa Nabki said:

Averroes

You have to decide: do you want a Syrian media industry that can do battle with Saudi Arabia’s? Or do you want one that merely offers “a different point of view”? Also, do you want a media industry that does better publicity for Syria, or one that covers the region but takes sectarianism out of the picture?

I would also add to al-Jazeera a few of the Lebanese channels that are friendly to Syria and Syrian interests, like NBN and al-Manar. This is in addition to the newspapers al-Safir and al-Akhbar.

I would say that Syria has other more pressing issues to address before building a huge media empire. Plus, because of the strength of its allies in Lebanon (a country with a very well-developed media industry), it can rely on positive press from there, right?

Good job, once again!

May 17th, 2008, 12:01 am

 

Majhool said:

Averroes

Excellent article (better than Part I). but what if you replace the word “media” with words such as “education”, “health”, “economy” etc.. it will still be valid. I also agree with your conclusion but would onlt add saying that since the regime is incompetent and is at odds with the majority of Syrian (who happen to be Sunnis) including around 3 to 6 million Syrians benefiting from jobs in KSA ( you do the math) the regime is becoming a liability for the Syrian people.

One can also argue that (pro-Palestinian & Anti-Israeli) sentiment is becoming more or less like a religion that players in the region use selectively in an opportunistic way to further their goals ( I am using your own terms). If you are in agreement you will find that the Syrian regime is far more guilty in this respect that all other regimes in the region.

you said : So everyone is playing this game, and because you’re a Syrian national that’s why you’d like the Syrians to lose? Strange logic to me, sir.
You got it wrong, I am Syrian Nationalists this means

1) I view Lebanese as my own countrymen,therefore i don’t want to see their lives being “played” by players in the region especially Syria since it’s card revolves arround keeping Lebanon unstable to improve it’s regional status.
2) A truly independent Lebanon with a capable state that offer reasonable degree of personal freedom and good representation poses a great threat you the dictatorship in Damascus. This Will force the regime to open up to a good degree.
3) If the Syrian regime loses it’s cards in Lebanon, the regime will be forced to look inward for support since manipulating the cause of resistance and Palestine will become weaker. The Arab street will also be lost.
4) When Syria left Lebanon, the regime was forced to Open up the economy to finance its self. while when they were in Lebanon the corruption in Lebanon was enough.
As for your assumption that I am some sort of Ikhwan, well my friend you are wrong. this does not mean that killing 20,000 sunnis in few days is a little crime. Just replace the world Sunni with the word Palestine and you would see how the cult of “Palestine” is far mopre powerful religion that the regime uses all so effectively.

May 17th, 2008, 12:12 am

 

trustquest said:

Good try averroes, I think you are giving the regime good advice but you will hear no thanks.
I do not agree with the way Majhool is presenting things, I have no problem with the regime but I do not have to take it as is.
You did not come with anything new, the opposition, the supporters, the neutralists, the loves and the haters, the communist the national front parties the devil and angels told them that again and again and they are not going to listen. I still prefer to see all these channels and choose from, this new age will never go back and stiff one has to go. If the Syrian regime does not want to recognize the new media world order, let him keep having there head in the sand, the storm will come and then they will be sorry. But for me it is clear, the thieves in Syria do not want to invest their monies in the media they prefer cell phones and easy deals. I think the fourth reason, total control mentality, censorship and the one sided thinking, is the reason why the Syrian regime is not facing the other media and the best thing they can do is to emulate Cuba style and keep loosing populace till they run out of people.

May 17th, 2008, 12:48 am

 

norman said:

From what I understand is that Syria has very good TV series , so If the private sector can produce such good shows I think they can be leaders in advancing Syria and it’s pan Arabic stand , The government of Syria should stay out if it as their involvement will be the kiss of death to any media outlet.

Actually , thinking of it , Syria can put these shows for an all day marathon whenever there is an event and have a commentary as commercials to advance harmony between the Arab people of all kinds .

Averroes ,

You might be right about the Syrian government not getting involved in a shouting match , They did not do that with Lebanon in spite of the attacks over the last three years.

May 17th, 2008, 12:52 am

 

Averroes said:

Innocent Criminal,

Thank you. That is exactly the kind of discussion I was hoping to stir.

First, I don’t think it needs billions of dollars. I think a budget of $40 to $80M will get you a long way for the first year or two. If we’re going to account for corruption and bribes, then $10b would not suffice.

On your second note, talent is available, and more talent can be developed. But talent cannot be controlled in the way that the old timers in Syria would like to have it. Talent is sophisticated and will not be tamed by mere authority.

May 17th, 2008, 1:05 am

 

Averroes said:

Alex,

Al-Jazeerah has its own agenda. I’m talking about something more home-grown.

On your questions:

Please re-consider what I said about the media being an extension of other human endeavors. There is no clear-cut, scientific style deterministic answer in humanities, including media. It would be a daily sailing of rough seas. The question is, can you afford not to have a voice in today’s world? Can you afford to have other play with your population’s conceptions and minds, without having a channel to counter the assault on that front?

1. The Future Movement are actually making it quite easy for us. Their media is so repelling that they’re doing the work for the Syrians. I would have no problem with them forming their position whatever that may be, but when they shout in the streets “Toot-Toot-Toot Souriya 3am betmoot” I would make sure the Syrians that love them so much heard that loud and clear. That sort of an approach.

2. The group could engage with a number of decision makers within the country, to demonstrate a thing or two about the impact of media. Good management would get them involved in some of the decisions as well. there is no news or media agency in the world that does not have to take the concerns of its stakeholders into account. The station (or Group) we’re talking about is not going to be an exception.

3. Read what I wrote:
Modern media is an interactive, dynamic process that receives inputs from its domains of operation (society, policy makers, history, interest groups) but also projects output onto that domain with an intention of achieving varying degrees of influence.
I hope it answers that point

May 17th, 2008, 1:26 am

 

Averroes said:

QN,

I’m really not talking about a huge media empire. I’m talking about a TV station and a web site.

I believe that what the Saudis are doing is reckless and dangerous. I would like to have a means for undoing their bad influence on the people of the region. I am not pecking a fight here, but when they allow themselves to discuss the demographics of Beirut, the Jabal, and Syria, then they’re crossing a number of lines.

What I have in mind is mostly concerned with building a conduit for positive change, and it does not have to look like anything that’s already out there. I’m not talking about publicity, I’m talking about genuine change in people’s attitudes towards many things, including the throwing of garbage out your car window. With the right marketing, you can get your message across and influence a social change in the right direction.

One of the most pressing areas is the area of immunization against sectarian bigotry. This message is vital and it cannot be conveyed too much. A few well made documentaries about Al-Rashed and Co. will do wonders, because they will be telling the truth.

Imagine if there were no Jazeerah, NBN, Manar, or NTV. What would the media spectrum look like? What would the average Joe do when he sees nothing but bigotry and sectarian hysteria on TV? The present position is good, but not enough.

May 17th, 2008, 1:39 am

 

why-discuss said:

With its small means Syria’s TV manages to be the most cultural of all other arab TV’s.
Syria produces excellent arab serials with good screenplays and actors. They are certainly the best in the Arab world. Egypt’s serials are repetitive, badly written and badly shot.
You may criticize the boring aspect of the news and political debate, but you can’t deny that Syrian TV is more entertaining than Saudi or Jordanian TV’s and more culturally “arab” than Dubai or Lebanon.

May 17th, 2008, 1:40 am

 

Averroes said:

Majhool,

Hey, there might be some other blog talking about the Health, Education and other sides in Syria. And you’re right, the statement would still be valid, and the need to act is there for every single one of them.

On Lebanon, Majhool, you need to go and talk to some of the Syrian workers that work in Lebanon. A substantial number of Lebanese would be offended when you tell them that you feel they’re your countrymen. Many of them are elitists toward all Arabs and especially toward the Syrians. With the way the border has been drawn, a hostile government in Lebanon could have Israeli guns at the heart of Syria at any time. The Syrian state cannot afford that, and that has been the case since the Syrian independence and before the current regime.

Your last comment is yet another example why we need a medium for discussion and education for people.

May 17th, 2008, 1:47 am

 

Averroes said:

Trust Quest,

Thank you. We have to try. Who knows, they might listen when enough people talk about it. I think the other reasons also factor in strongly.

May 17th, 2008, 1:49 am

 

Averroes said:

Norman,

Yes, I imagine the Private Sector would be eager to play such a role. But it cannot be played with the current rules. The rules have to develop. There’s no way around that.

May 17th, 2008, 1:52 am

 

Averroes said:

WHY-DISCUSS

True, so why can’t we pull up something like Al-Jazeerah, or even NTV? Don’t you think it’s missing?

With TV series, you can control everything and there is no place for spontaneous events. With media, you would lose that.

May 17th, 2008, 1:54 am

 

norman said:

Averroes ,

What are the rules that the American media work under and how they keep harmony in the US between the races and the ethnic groups.

They must have rules so they do not incite violence.

May 17th, 2008, 2:05 am

 

He Waged War With a Felafel in His Hand said:

Averroes:

Thanks for the follow up article. Very interesting. I dont think it is as hard a picture that you paint, but the issue is important. I truly feel that when the regime in Syria allows free media, with out any political or government constraints, they will cross a threshold that they cannot manage. I just dont think it is on the Syrian Governments agenda for the next 20 years, and that is being realistic.

Just a quick note. Here is a link to an old article that Tony Badran wrote for the mid east monitor a while back. While Tony is not on every one SC’s community favourite list read the article, it is interesting.

It is titled Saudi Syrian Media Wars: Here is the link

http://www.mideastmonitor.org/issues/0609/0609_7.htm

May 17th, 2008, 2:25 am

 

Enlightened said:

HP: ( This one’s for you) an excerpt from Ya Libnan today: 75 Years ago Khalil Gebran wrote this, it looks like nothing has changed. It resonates with the soul!

The Garden of The Prophet

Pity the nation that acclaims the bully as hero, and that deems the glittering conqueror bountiful,
Pity the nation that raises not its voice save when it walks in a funeral, boasts not except among its ruins
Pity the nation whose statesman is a fox, whose philosopher is a juggler, and whose art is the art of patching and mimicking,
Pity the nation divided into fragments, each fragment deeming itself a nation.

No one can disagree with the fact that all Lebanese, not only the political class stands to learn from the above immortal words of the author of The Prophet. Gibran’s disappointment and resentment of what we were and what we still are takes it’s most critical shape in the following direct address to us:
My Countrymen

Hypocrisy is your religion, and
Falsehood is your life, and
Nothingness is your ending; why,
Then, are you living? Is not
Death the sole comfort of the
Miserables?
***
I have loved you, my countrymen, but
My love for you is painful to me
And useless to you; and today I
Hate you, and hatred is a flood
That sweeps away the dry branches
And quavering houses.
***
I hate you, My Countrymen, because
You hate glory and greatness. I
Despise you because you despise
Yourselves.

May 17th, 2008, 3:15 am

 

Honest Patriot said:

Thanks Enlightened. A very touching outpouring of deeply felt emotion. I say this emotion is love. Because love and hate are two forms of the same passion. Frustrated love finds its expression as hate. The opposite of love is not hate, it is indifference. None of us are indifferent. Hope never ends despite the bitterness of what seem like recurring losses. Keep the dream alive.

May 17th, 2008, 3:53 am

 

Averroes said:

Falafel Warrior,

I like your precise, probing description. Management is the key word here. I hope time will prove you wrong, though.

I think I have seen that link some time ago. It is true, but one sided.

May 17th, 2008, 4:11 am

 

Averroes said:

Norman,

Any self-respecting nation will draw lines that it would not allow anyone to cross if it were to maintain its national security, and I don’t care how much “free” it call its media.

For examples, you cannot discriminate between citizens on the basis of race, religion, sect, color, and other such lines. Primal instincts can easily be intimidated with any country, and that is why what the Saudis are doing is nothing short of a media war against Syria.

May 17th, 2008, 4:16 am

 

wizart said:

Averroes,

Thanks for a great insight and I’m always for more channels of communication although it obviously increases chances for instability so it’s possible current channels could be improved as Alex suggested without creating grave troubles with the Saudis.

Enlightened,

Thanks for reminding me of Jibran’s as I think it was a moving poem and ripe for the times. I visited his museum in Lebanon a few years ago while on a tour of the beautiful country. Lebanon is beautiful although it’s true beauty lies in its diverse population and the fact that it’s quite possibly spearheading the move towards further enlightenment along the lines Averroes suggested;)

HP,

I totally agree with you “hate” is not the opposite of love. The opposite of love is indifference and the fact that there are many Lebanese here reflect more hope than ever that people still care and things might actually be improving despite recent upheavals.

May 17th, 2008, 7:59 am

 

offended said:

Averroes,
Interesting analysis, thank you for posting.

Now on the question of establishing a new satellite channel and a website and the feasibility of such step; I think you are absolutely right. I am one of the few that agrees with you that such a step is gravely needed. What you need to have is find (or form, depending on the inventory of your human talents’ pool) a group of Syrian media specialists with the drive to take that up.

There is one more thing which I think can help immensely on other fronts.

Syrians should be encouraged (or allowed rather), to carry the cause and the argument of their country everywhere. It’s the common perception now that none should meddle in politics and that the great interests of Syrian national security could be harmed by one fool of a Syrian expats talking politics to strangers. This perception should be abolished and addressed; you’ve got huge communities of Syrians in the Gulf and elsewhere in the world. Each one of those could make a good ambassador. Representing or featuring Syria is not an exclusive job of the government. Each one of us can help. Okay, maybe this is not related to media per se, but it’s still something that has to do with the image of the country….

Alex,
I think you’d agree with me that the idea of trying not to offend anyone thru the programming and the content of Syrian TV (or any other media outlet) should be abolished. I mean seriously, in this day and age there is hardly anything contentious or valuable that can be said without offending somebody somewhere. People should get used to it. It’s helpful and it’s healthy…

May 17th, 2008, 8:32 am

 

Honest Patriot said:

From An-Nahar (17 May 2008):

May 17th, 2008, 11:31 am

 

Naji said:

Al Jazeera is airing a fascinating hour-long program by Haykal on Lebanon… well worth watching…!!

Hariri emphatically repeated to Haykal not long ago that he is devotedly a Saudi national (rather than Lebanese, the implication was)…!! He is on record elswhere with that statement, but it is interesting to hear it from Haykal…

May 17th, 2008, 11:37 am

 

Honest Patriot said:

Ya 5ayi Naji, walaw, with all the sacrifices of Hariri, the assassination of his father, the devotion of their family to rebuilding Lebanon and sticking it out despite the sacrifices – when it would be so much easier to just go enjoy their fortune elsewhere – must the smear and attack and innuendos continue?

What is the meaning of someone pretending to know what is in another’s heart? Those who continue to spew quiet venom like this have no interest in seeing Lebanon come together.

May 17th, 2008, 1:07 pm

 

Honest Patriot said:

http://yalibnan.com/site/archives/2008/05/lebanon_the_ble.php

Lebanon: The bleeding will go on
Published: Friday, 16 May, 2008 @ 4:38 PM in Beirut (GMT+2)
By Ghassan Karam,
Special to Ya Libnan

I must admit that the tendency to become preoccupied with symptoms rather than the root cause of a problem is a universal shortcoming.

This phenomenon is seen in the political arena as well as social and economic fields. An excellent example of the above is best illustrated by the total disconnect between the correct diagnosis of the gravity of the consequences of climate change and the suggested remedies. Al Gore, the Nobel laureate, spends over 90 minutes scaring the beejesus out of the audience only to suggest at the end of the movie that they should change their light bulbs. Somebody forgot to tell Mr. Gore that had the solution been so simple then the problem would not have been this grave.

Replace in the above the Climate Change with the Lebanese problematic, the suggested remedy of changing incandescent light bulbs with “No winners, no losers” and you get a clear picture of why history keeps repeating itself , at least in Lebanon.

The major structural flaw in the current Lebanese architecture, besides its failure to grow citizens is the tendency to settle for band aids when the wound is deep and is badly in need of a major surgical cleansing procedure. The band aid will slow or even stop the hemorrhage for a while but only at the risk of spreading the disease throughout the system. Then it will be too late to save the patient.

Lebanon is that patient who desperately needs a major Emergency Room care but the attending physicians only prescribe sedatives. The first step that needs to be recognized is the incongruity of the “modern” Lebanese project with the aims of Hezbollah. Many people recognized this clear incongruity at least from as far back as 2005, the year during which Hezbollah decided to play a major political role. A party that was created by the Iranian Mullahs for the sole purpose of establishing on the ground the conditions that will favour the return of the lost Imam and that is to be guided by the teachings of the Faqih was going to be at odds with the concepts of state sovereignty, personal freedom and democratic values that promote equal protection and diversity in all its forms. We cannot realistically expect Hezbollah not to be true to its ideals and therefore it was our mistake to seek their partnership. Expecting Hezbollah to be a productive partner in building a modern democratic state is akin to expecting a sworn pacifist to lead an army in an ongoing war to victory.

So true to form Hezbollah has spent the last three years obstructing the efforts of the government to govern at every level. Their latest outburst was the military take over of west Beirut, an attack on the Chouf, Blocking access to the only International airport and making the Beirut harbor inaccessible. The excuse this time around was their disagreement with the cabinet orders to remove the person in charge of airport security and to dismantle the illegal and unauthorized telecommunication network erected buy Hezbollah. In a democracy and in a civil society such disagreements are common. What is uncommon is the method used by the Lebanese opposition to express their disapproval. Instead of campaigning to win a majority in the Chamber of deputies so that they can rescind these two laws they decided to resort to violence by shooting, burning, intimidating and killing. They took us back to the center of the Hobbsian jungle where only hoodlums rule because they have more guns. To add to the above, Mr. Berri, one of their staunchest allies and a co conspirator had the temerity to call these barbaric acts of terrorism civil disobedience. Mahatma Gandhi and Martin Luther King Jr must be turning in their graves.

So how do we temporarily get out of this crisis? Give the unlawful perpetrators all what they have asked for; renew the partnership to build a state with those whose aim is its destruction. The current political leadership of March 14 has, at best bought time but make no mistake about it, we have failed for the umpteenth time to deal with the root cause of what ails us.

This so called settlement will come back to haunt us unless:

– We can show the courage to keep Hezbollah out of the cabinet until they can win a majority in the Chamber of deputies;

– Enforce UNSC 1559 if for no other reason but the fact that a viable democratic state cannot exist without exercising a monopoly over violence;

– Restoration of all state institutions and reforming the laws that govern them to make sure that no one person is ever again to be allowed to take a nation hostage by shutting the doors of its Chamber of Deputies;

– Elect and not nominate a president without having to resort to unconstitutional means, i.e. Rescind the nomination of General Suleiman on the grounds that it is unconstitutional. One should not be expected to uphold the law by breaking it;

– The constitutional law and tradition of having the president hold consultations before he asks one person to form a cabinet is sacred and must be preserved;

– The clause in the Taif agreement dealing with the elimination of sectarianism must be implemented immediately;

– Every person who has taken part in the illegal activities as of May 8 2008 must be apprehended and tried in a court of law; and

– A new electoral system that will decrease the power of the traditional “zoamah” must be implemented.

A new Lebanon will ultimately emerge. Neither the shameful opposition nor the bumbling performance of the majority can keep that from happening. The events of the past week have been momentous but the proposed formula looks like another band aid that will fail to stem the bleeding. Those who insist on neglecting the obvious solution do so at their peril.

May 17th, 2008, 1:36 pm

 

Observer said:

Let me make a few points:
Hariri the father has practiced politics in Lebanon a la Saudi fashion with a system of patronage not seen before.

The fact that the Slam family did not win a seat in parliament speaks to the great power of money in the Sunni part of Beirut at least to sway votes.

He comes out of this predicament much weaker than before. His statements were so garbled that they had to be edited out.

Jumblatt has said that this was a “summer cloud” and that we should talk and negotiate. As usual being the smartest of all the coalition group, he saw that the wind has changed: no US or French howling and no UN resolution and not chapter 7. The coalition is left to fend for itself.

That leaves them the Saudis only. Well the Prince has managed in his statement about Iran coupled with the huge media onslaught about the sectarian nature of the conflict to isolate the kingdom effectively.
Algeria, Qatar, Yemen, Oman, have essentially rebuffed Prince Faisal. The rest of the Lebanese media and the Arab media are trying to defuse the situation. Even the LBC had a nice round table with Minister Faroon, a representative of HA, Hisham Milhem, that was clearly sharing the blame for the current situation on more than one party.

Even Iran did not take the bait and refused to comment on the situation in Lebanon characterizing the comments as being made in anger and therefore can be both excused and retracted without losing face.

The kingdom is in a panic. It is going for the first time into uncharted territories:
1. The relation with the US is fractured
2. The US has effectively diversified its need for bases along the GCC countries and Iraq
3. The US has effectively decided to put its future oil policy on securing Iraqi oil as a security card and a hedge.
4. The US is weaker than it was before as despite all of the above moves finds itself with diminished leverage, fewer quivers to its bow of military and diplomatic options, and a drift in relations with the other major players in the world namely China, Russia, and Europe.
5. The Israeli Palestinian conflict is intractable as ever, and the prospect of solving it in a way the defuses the passions for militant recruitment is not going away.
6. Iran is ascendant. Ansari the Iranian Ambassador to Russia issued a statement to the effect that Iran does not need security guarantees in exchange for halting the nuclear program, it is the US that needs security guarantees in the region. Although it comes from a junior member of the Iranian regime, it goes along what I said before: a deal between Iran and the US to have effective stability shared in the region to the benefits of everyone.
7. The KSA will have to rely on itself to guarantee its survival something they have never done. They are deathly afraid of perceptions. They do not give a hoot about Hariri but are concerned deeply about being perceived as weak in protecting the faith their only claim to legitimacy.
8. There are two factions in the ruling family one that is fully committed to the US agenda and the other much more subtle and knowing that they live in rough part of the world.

I think that those that have put their eggs in the US basket are going to have to make an omelet and eat it.

May 17th, 2008, 1:41 pm

 

Honest Patriot said:

Obama on Bush, McCain, Iran, Hamas – judge for yourself:
http://video.on.nytimes.com/?fr_story=2796c21286867a2e9e09393cd052031a15166b25

May 17th, 2008, 1:51 pm

 

why-discuss said:

Averroes

“True, so why can’t we pull up something like Al-Jazeerah, or even NTV? Don’t you think it’s missing?”

I don’t think there is a need of another Jazerah. It is too costly and will be redundant and also could be dangerously misused. Lebanon’s divisions and hatred has been nourished by the Lebanese TV’s that are attached and financed by parties. Not a good example to follow.

I believe Syria should aim to a Satellite TV that is principally oriented to spread Arab culture, a subject that lacks a real presence on the air. Politics and debate should be a lower priority. I think the Arab world is in serious need of having its culture developped and promoted, in view of the invasion of “Friends” and “Dr Phil” and “Oprah”. There are many talents in the Arab world that are waiting for opportunities.
The development of culture is the key to the Arab world cohesion to counterbalance the growth of Islam as the exclusive culture and bond, with all the excesses and contradictions we are witnessing. No Arab country is playing that role now, I think Syria with its non-sectarian approach to the society would be a good candidate.

May 17th, 2008, 2:21 pm

 

EHSANI2 said:

Dear OBSERVER:

Yesterday, the oil futures market saw that commodity hit a new high of $127.82 on NYMEX. Ironically, that took place as the U.S. President was meeting the Saudi King during their talk on Friday. The initial press report read as follows:

“Saudis rebuff Bush politely, on pumping more oil” was the NYT headline.

As the oil market made new highs, the Saudi oil minister announced that his country will raise production by 300,000 barrels a day. Oil prices reacted by dropping a paltry $ 1 to close at $126.90 (a new high).

The last gesture by KSA triggered this response from Bush this morning:

Saudi Arabia’s modest increase in oil production is “something but it does not solve our problem” of soaring gasoline prices. The President was quick to urge his listeners back home to push for alternative energy sources.

Bush arrived in Egypt this morning of course. The state-rum media was hardly kind to the U.S. President:

“Bush aims to do nothing but appeasing Israel” wrote Al-Ahram.

“Bush is a failed President who delivers nothing but a lousy speech” wrote Al-Gomhouria.

Akhbar AL-Youm showed a picture of Bush hugging Olmert and captioned it “lovers”.

The Saudi Prince did not want to be left behind either. Here is what he said while Bush was there:

“We are all aware of the special US-Israeli relation and its political dimensions. It is however, important also to affirm the legitimate and political rights of the Palestinian people”. He also criticized Israel for the “humanistic suffering weighted upon the west bank and gaza strip population”.

While the Arab world (including the Saudi Prince) laments the U.S. bias towards Israel, Bush sings a different tune as he is said to urge Arab leaders to reject the regimes of Iran and Syria calling them “spoilers” that impede progress toward a better life in the Middle East.

“Countries in the Middle East should move past old grievances and embrace the changes necessary for a day when societies across the region are based on justice, tolerance and freedom” Bush said today in his weekly radio address.

“Justice, tolerance and freedom”.

Dear Prince:

Are you listening?

May 17th, 2008, 2:28 pm

 

Milli Schmidt said:

Just back from Syria, some observations –

The two main topic on people’s minds is the price explosion and Lebanon. Prices have gone crazy, a trip to the vegetable man costs 200 Lira now, the average taxi fare has doubled (as have service charges!) not to mention rents and houses. Most of my friends are middle-class with a good education and good jobs (employees at Syriatel or international organisations or businesses).While the parents are ok, because they bought their flats and houses 30 years ago, the children, now in their late 20s, have no chance of buying and renting would eat up nearly an entire salary. If this trend continues, in 10,15 years there will be no middle class in Syria. No wonder many are thinking of leaving.

On Lebanon, most people I spoke to realise that the Lebanese are manipulated by what are regarded as “disgusting” leaders – but that does not improve the image of the average Lebanese in the Syrian mind. (I sort of have to agree – if the majority of Lebanese society wants peace and stability, where is the mass demonstration calling for this and for the demise of all the damned Jumblatts, Aouns and Nasrallas?)Jokingly, many Syrians hoped that their country would not soon experience the next refugee wave, from Lebanon. Still everyone is nervous of course.

In the old city, Madhat Basha (the “Straight Street”) has been completely ripped open, in the most farcical of all buildings works. Dust everywhere, gaping, unsecured holes, a few workers shifting stones from one side to the other. Business owners in the area are pissed off – the works have been going for nine months and show no sign of abating, despite the onset of the tourist season. An excellent example of the lack of care, interest and initiative in the Tourism Ministry and, in a way, in the highest office that surely should keep an eye on a project in an area of such national importance.

A friend told me how he attempted to get the name of his new business registered. Six months after the first application to the ministry and repeated visits he received the answer: no. Reason: somewhere in the world a business with a similar name existed. He argued his case – a) the name was similar, not the same, b)the other company was not Syrian. After another three months he received the next answer: no. Reason: the head of the ministeral department opined that the name was not well suited to the business! At this stage, my friend had a furious argument with this head of department and eventually got the registration document – withought paying a bribe even. One can imagine how less determined or foreign investor withouth Wasta fare.

And…a further friend’s father remains in prison for attending a meeting to discuss the Damascus Declaration, awaiting trial. The man has already spent 17 years inside, so spare a thought for Akram Bunni and, if you can, alert journalists to his fate and convince them to write a story.

Best

MS

May 17th, 2008, 2:38 pm

 

Naji said:


انقلاب… على انقلاب
أسعد أبو خليل
*

في أيام العنف الطقوسية في لبنان، عليك أن تتحمّل الكثير. يكفي ما عليك أن تعانيه من حلقات يوميّة لـ«كلام (بعض) الناس» وترى تلك الشهادات العاطفيّة من مارسيل غانم لـ«خادم الحرمين»، ودفاعه عن (وهم) الدور السعودي «المحايد» في لبنان، في الوقت الذي تؤكد فيه المملكة انحيازها لفريق الدحلان ـــ السنيورة ـــ المالكي ـــ قرضاي. في لبنان (ترى الكاميرا تقترب من وجه مارسيل كلما ذكر «صديقه» رفيق الحريري، لتطفر الدمعة الثمينة من عينيه).
مسؤولة صفحة ثقافيّة في جريدة يمينيّة تدافع عمّا تسمّيه إبعاد قسمها عن السياسة. أما تحيّاتها للسنيورة فهي فوق السياسة، هي الحداثة بعينها. وأن تشاهد سمير جعجع محاطاً بثلّة (بضمّ الثاء طبعاً، لا بكسرها) من اليساريّين السابقين، يلقي فرماناً من مربّعه الأمني في معراب (الكل يتمتّع بمربع أمني في لبنان، إلا العلمانيّون. فلنحوّل محيط البيت العلماني في بيروت إلى مربع أمني لتكتمل الصورة) يحيّي فيه بيروت لصمودها في وجه عدوان إسرائيل. وهؤلاء اليساريّون السابقون الذين تحلّقوا حوله تسابقوا للقاء صولانج الجميّل لتخبرهم عن الأطباق التي كانت تعدّها لأرييل شارون. كان سمير جعجع ومقاتلوه في 1982 يفرضون الحصار الخانق على بيروت، ويدوسون بأقدامهم أكياس الخبز والخضار، إمعاناً في تشديد الحصار، حتى لا نتحدث عن خدمات قوّاته في قصف بيروت العشوائي إعانةً للعدوان.
…أو أن ترى طارق متري (يساري سابق انضم لحاشية الحريري) آتياً من القاهرة على عجل ليتهدّج صوته وهو يثني على الأمير سعود الفيصل في مداخلاته في مجلس الجامعة. أو أن ترى فؤاد السنيورة يحشر الآيات القرآنية والأحاديث النبوية (والتعاويذ) بعد إصابته بـ«نوبة» الدين، كما كان يقول جمال عبد الناصر عندما كان يسخر من خطب لملك الأردن في الستينيات. ثم ترى من يصف حزب الله بالإرهاب، ليعود ليصفه بالمقاومة، ثم يعود في غضون أيّام لوصفه بالإرهاب، ثم يصفه بـ«الغوغاء» في مقابلة مع جريدة الأمير خالد بن سلطان، وهلمّ جرّا.
وترى الذي فجّر الأزمة يتحدّث عن «سوء تفاهم». حرب الجبل كانت سوء تفاهم في مقياسه أيضاً، والقتل بالفؤوس كان بمثابة ضرب الحبيب بزبيب قاس. ومشاهد الميليشيات في شوارع العاصمة ليس جميلاً، وخصوصاً أن لبعضها باعاً طويلاً في الترهيب و«التشبيح» (شَرَح أحمد بيضون في واحدة من كتبه أصل كلمة «تشبيح») والطائفية والمذهبيّة. حروب لبنان، باستثناء تلك التي توجّه مدافعَها وحممَها ضد إسرائيل، تزداد صغراً وضيقاً. والزميل رضوان السيّد (وهو محلّل موضوعي ومستقلّ) يلوم التحريض المذهبي للمعارضة، وينوّه بالدور الخيّر للسعودية. لم يعثر السيّد على أية دلائل على تحريض مذهبي في إعلام 14 آذار، إذ إنهم غارقون (وغارقات حتى لا ننسى صولانج الجميل ونايلة معوض) في العلمانيّة المحضة. ثم تلاحظ الغياب الكامل لفريق الحريري «الشيعي» (أينهم، اختفوا مثل فصّ الملح؟)، مع أن صبحي الطفيلي (هذا الذي قاد حزب الله في حقبته المخيفة والمروّعة في الثمانينيات) أطلّ وتصنّع الحكمة، وهو اليوم حليف مثقّفي العلمانية في 14 آذار، وقدوة لليساريّين السابقين في عين بورضاي.
ثم تتذكر مشاهد حيّة لفصول مختلفة من الحروب الأهلية اللبنانية. تتذكر فصل التدخل الأميركي في لبنان الثمانينيات، وكلام ريغان عن دعم أمين الجميل والديموقراطية ـــ اقتبس بوش الكلام نفسه في دعمه للسنيورة، وزاد أن نظام 14 آذار مفيد لإسرائيل ـــ إنها الصدفة. ما علينا. تتذكّر أيضاً توكيد الساسة في لبنان، قبل أسابيع فقط، أنهم في منأى عن الحروب، وأن الحروب لن تقع في لبنان، بينما كانوا كلّهم (في المعارضة وفي الموالاة) ينشئون الميليشيات المدجّجة. ثم تتكاثر التحليلات من كل حدب وصوب. وأخيراً تعلم لماذا قصفت إسرائيل مواقع في كسروان وفي شمال لبنان أثناء العدوان الإسرائيلي على لبنان في 2006. إذ إن مي شدياق فاجأت جمهورَها قبل أكثر من أسبوعين بـ«معلومات» مفادها أن إسرائيل قصفت مواقع متعددة في لبنان، فقط، لأن حزب الله نصب هوائيّات فيها. أرادت شدياق أن تقول إن إسرائيل دولة مسالمة ووديعة، وإن حزب الله الشرير يتحرّش بها. هي أرادت أيضاً أن تحذّر الجمهور في كسروان من مغبة نصب حزب الله هوائيّات في عقر دارهم. والياس المرّ، المُنصّب من رستم غزالة، سرّب معلومات خطيرة للنهار ولجنبلاط ولـ«المجتمع الدولي» الذي يضم شرفياً الدولة الصهيونية، عن شبكة اتصالات لحزب الله. لكن جنبلاط كان أكثر عوناً (لمن؟). فهو وزّع مجاناً خرائط بالمواقع، ولكنه لم يعد بأن يمدّ العدوان المُقبل بأدلّاء من الموثوق بهم من أمثال «أبو هيثم» الذي أمعن قَبْلاً في حبّ الحياة. والياس المرّ، ذو الباع الطويل في الأمن في لبنان، كان خبيراً في سنواته الأولى في الوزارة في أمور عبدة الشيطان و«شهود يهوه». لماذا توقّف المرّ هذا عن الحديث عن خطر عبدة الشيطان؟ ولماذا لم يتحدّث تقرير لارسن الأخير عن عبدة الشيطان؟
كيف تصف ما حدث في لبنان. لا يمكن وصفه بالثورة، إذ إن كلا الفريقين لا يستحق وصف الثورة. كلا الطرفين لا علاقة له بالعدل الاجتماعي (أو بالتغيير الجذري)، والمعارضة تستعمل الموضوع بانتقائيّة سياسية لا تمت بصلة لمصالح الطبقة العاملة. طبعاً كان مضحكاً أن يتنطّح معارضو إضراب الاتحاد العمالي من فريق تيار المستقبل بالقول إن الإضراب ليس في «صالح الطبقة العاملة». ربما سيطلع علينا يساري سابق لينظّر لمقولة أن سعد الحريري يمثل وعي الطبقة العاملة في ذاتها. لمَ لا؟ لكن في معمعة ما حدث ويحدث في لبنان، يجب القول إن غسان غصن يمثّل ضرراً على مصالح الطبقة العاملة في لبنان، ويستحق أن يُنفى إلى جزيرة أرواد. هو جاء من أجل تقويض الحركة العمالية في لبنان. هو يُضرب بأمر، ويتراجع بأمر. الحركة العمالية في لبنان بديل للحركات الطائفية من الطرفين في الصراع، ولكنها ضاعت في غمرة المعارك.

■ شرارة الانقلاب

لنبدأ من الشرارة. والشرارة تمثّلت في تصريح مفاجئ لجنبلاط. هو قال أثناء حصاره في كليمنصو إن معلوماته جاءت من «الدولة اللبنانية». ويحدثونك عن الدولة وكأن هناك دولة بالفعل في لبنان. ولم يلحظ الإعلام، ولا حتى في المعارضة، ورود عبارة عن شيء «يلمع» (في محيط المطار) في تقرير جنبلاط الاوّلي. ولمعان الشيء أو توهّجه لا يأتي من عين مجردة، أو من رصد لجهاز للمعلومات بريء، بل من رصد قمر صناعي. وليس من المعلوم أن ميليشيا الحريري (سلاح الحريري: إلى أين؟ وسلاح جنبلاط: إلى أين، علينا أن نسأل اليوم) تمتلك أقماراً اصطناعية، إلا إذا كان مصدر التقرير الأولي مصدراً أجنبياً صديقاً لجنبلاط. وليس هنا مجال للإفاضة في موضوع شبكة الاتصالات، وإن كان جنبلاط أوضح في مؤتمر صحافي لاحق أن دافعه ما كان إلا من باب الحرص على المال العام. ووليد جنبلاط ومروان حمادة معروفان بحرصهما الذي يقارب الهوس بالمال العام. لكن حزب الله دفع ثمن سذاجة سياسية، أو أسوأ، في علاقاته وتحالفاته مع رفيق الحريري وجنبلاط في سنوات سبقت التحالف الرباعي الذي وقع الحزب ضحيّته، وقد يعود إليه (ما أحلى الرجوع إليه).
وإذا كانت حركة حماس (وهي حركة غير ناجحة في الميدان، أو في الخطاب المنفّر) وقعت ضحية تصديقها وعود أوسلو، مثلها مثل عرفات، فإنها أبدت حنكة ودهاءً عندما استبقت انقلاب محمد دحلان (نشرت مجلة «فانتي فير» وثائقه المسرّبة من وزارة الخارجية الأميركية) بانقلابها، فإن حزب الله أجّل انقلابه ضد انقلاب حكومة السنيورة المُنقلبة. وانقلاب فريق الحريري تم بإيعاز أميركي منذ اغتيال رفيق الحريري، وإن كان الأخير كان يعدّ العدّة لإنشاء نظام (وسياسة خارجية) جديد في لبنان. وتوافَقَ النظام في لبنان مع مصالح النظام في سوريا والسعودية، وحتى أميركا وإسرائيل. كان هذا زمن وعد السلام الذي سحر رفيق الحريري (وحفزه على إطلاق وعود «أدي الربيع» كما غنى فريد الأطرش)، والنظام السوري معاً. لم تقع الواقعة بين آل الحريري والنظام السوري إلا عندما وقع الشقاق بين سوريا والسعودية بعد 11 أيلول. وقع الحريري في حرج، وخصوصا أن فريقه في النظام السوري تعرّض للإبعاد والتهميش. ويعتقد الخبير في شؤون سوريا، جوشوا لاندس، أن الحريري كان يحضّر لانقلاب في سوريا. (لا يزال التحقيق في انتحار غازي كنعان مستمراً، كما يقول عنوان واحد من الأفلام المصرية، كما أن الحكومة السورية على وشك إعلان نتيجة التحقيق في اغتيال عماد مغنية. فانتظروا).
وأتى تيري رود لارسن على عجل إلى لبنان، وبدأ الإعداد للانقلاب. أصرّت الحكومة الأميركية على إجراء انتخابات نيابيّة لقطف ثمار الدموع. كما أن مقالات صحافية أميركية تحدثت عن إغداق أموال أميركية على فريق 14 آذار (ذكرت روبن رايت في الواشنطن بوست قبل أيام أن الإدارة الأميركية أنفقت 1,4 مليار دولار من أجل «تنصيب فؤاد السنيورة»)، حتى لا نتحدث عن الأموال الحريرية والسعودية (جهد سمير عطا الله في ظهور تلفزيوني على شاشة الجديد لإثبات أن السعودية ليست طرفاً في لبنان، إلا أنه أقرّ بأنها «منحازة»، وما لبث أن سحب كلامه على الهواء). كانت النيّات واضحة منذ إجراء أول مقابلة صحافية مع سعد الحريري في الواشنطن بوست. لاحظتُ يومها أن الترجمة الحريريّة الرسميّة للمقابلة (التي نُشرت في صحيفة المستقبل) ابتسرت جملة وعد فيها الشيخ سعد بـ«نزع سلاح حزب الله». لكن الحزب كان لا يزال واقعاً تحت وقع سحر التحالف الرباعي. وكما كان رفيق الحريري يعمل على صعيدين: صعيد ما يقول لحزب الله وصعيد متناقض لما يقول ويعد لأعداء حزب الله، فإن فريق الأكثرية امتهن خداع الحزب. والحزب ماهر في القتال، وغير ماهر أبداً في الرؤية السياسة أو التبصّر (أيظنّ أنه قادر على تنصيب طلال أرسلان أو عدنان عرقجي زعماء في طوائفهم؟). تجاهلَ ما يراه أمام عينيه. كان يكفي لو تابع أحدهم لقاءات الحريري في أميركا. لم يسأل أحد مثلاً عن ادّعاء التفجّع من قبل ديك تشيني، وعن سبب استدعائه للحريري إلى أميركا لتقديم واجب العزاء له. عندها تسلّم سعد زمام المؤامرة التي بدأها أبوه من قبله (كما يظهر بوضوح في كتاب جورج بكاسيني عنه في تآمره على سلاح المقاومة، بالتعاون مع ذاك الذي يريد أن تتطابق الدائرة الانتخابية مع الحيّ).
لكن وقعت الواقعة وبانت حقيقة التحالفات في حرب تموز. كان واضحاً أن السنيورة هو الرهان الأميركي ـــ الإسرائيلي ـــ السعودي المشترك. لم تخفِ السعودية نواياها في الأسبوع الأول، ربما لاعتماد المخطط على فرضية خاطئة: أن حزب الله لا بد أن يُهزم من آلة حرب العدو. والإدارة الأميركية وضعت خطّاً أحمر منذ البداية، أن سقوط حكومة السنيورة هو حدّ المسموح في العدوان الإسرائيلي. لم يلاحظ حزب الله ذلك، أو لم يرد أن يلاحظ. أصرّ الحزب، ولا يزال يصرّ (مثله مثل النظام في سوريا)، على تحييد السعودية، مع أن النظام هناك لم يعد يخفي حقيقة دوره في المخطط الإقليمي. لم يسعَ الحزب إلى الانقلاب على الحكومة آنذاك، لا بل منع تظاهرة شعبية في يوم مجزرة قانا (الثانية) وكانت متجهة (عفوياً) نحو السرايا الحكومية. ربما شعر الحزب آنذاك بأنه لا يزال مُلزماً بالتحالف الرباعي، وربما لأنه قدّر جهود سعد الحريري الدبلوماسية في قبرص، بمعيّة باسم السبع (ما أخباره، بالمناسبة؟). لم يكن الحزب ليصدّق يومها أن للعدوان على لبنان أعواناًُ، وأن كان يبث إشارات متناقضة، وإن كان يحرد على القضايا الخاطئة. لم يحرد مثلاً عندما طالبته الماما معوّض وبيار الجميل بنزع سلاحه في الوقت الذي كانت حرائق العدوان لا تزال مشتعلة. وفي المُقابل، تذاكى فريق 14 آذار: ظنّ أننا لم نلاحظ تفجّر «عقيدة بوش» في حروب أهلية في الصومال وفي أفغانستان وفي العراق وفي السودان وفي فلسطين (ثم لبنان). ظنّ أنّنا لن نلاحظ أنه في كلٍّ من تلك البلدان دعمت أميركا (بالمال والسلاح) ميليشيات طائفية مسلّحة (وقع مثقّفو الليبرالية في غرام ميليشيات قبائل الأنبار: يعترضون على أية فكرة للقومية بين العرب إذا تعدّت القبيلة أو الزقاق).
وانتظرَ حزب الله، وانتظرَ حلفاؤه، وتمتّع فريق الحريري بسنتيْن ذهبيّتيْن من التحريض المذهبي المتواصل، مستفيداً من تراث عريق للوهابيّة في هذا الشأن، بالإضافة إلى أدبيّات القاعدة التي تتوافق مع المخطط السعودي في المنطقة. وعانى الحزب، وإن لم يعترف، بتأثيرات التفاهم الإيراني ـــ السعودي الخبيث في العراق، وهذه التأثيرات منعت الحزب من إصدار، ولو صوتاً خافتاً ضد حكومة الاحتلال في العراق. وهناك جانب طائفي أيضاً. لا يستطيع الحزب الهروب من حقيقة أيديولوجيّته، وحقيقة تركيبته الطائفيّة، مثله مثل كل الأحزاب في لبنان (طبعاً، يعمد مثقّفو 14 آذار إلى النفاق المفضوح عبر الاعتراض على طائفية الحزب، في الوقت الذي يتحالفون فيه مع داعي الإسلام الشهّال ومحمد علي الجوزو، وهلّا يلاحظ أحد أن مثقفي 14 آذار من «الشيعة» لا يبدأون الحديث من دون إيراد اسم طائفتهم للدلالة على علمانيّتهم وحضاريّتهم ومدنيّتهم ربما؟). واستفاد الفريق الحاكم من العناصر الثلاثة التي رسّخت رفيق الحريري في الحكم: 1) الاعتماد على الدعم الخارجي المباشر، سورياً كان أو سعودياً أو أميركياً. 2) الاعتماد على الرشى (على مستوى عام وخاص). 3) الاعتماد على التحريض المذهبي لبناء زعامة سنيّة، لم يحظَ بها مدنيّاً أو ديموقراطياً. وحتى سعد الحريري الذي لا يتمتّع بمواهب توافرت في قيادة والده، استفاد من هذه العوامل التي تستطيع أن توصل إلى المجلس النيابي تلك العصا السحرية التي كان أحمد الأسعد (الجد) يتندّر بها للدلالة على قدرته على توصيل من يشاء إلى النيابة.

■ احتكار الإعلام مستحيل

والأغبياء، على الأقل، الذين فرضوا قمع إعلام المستقبل في حمأة معارك بيروت، أخطأوا على أكثر من صعيد. نسوا أن احتكار الإعلام مستحيل في عصر الإعلام التكنولوجي (كما أن الإعلام السعودي سرعان ما يقوم بالواجب نحو إعلام الحريري). والكتابة ـــ على من قام بقمع إعلام المستقبل أن يعلم ـــ مملّة للغاية من دون منافسين ومعارضين وخصوم وحتى أعداء. وعصر وحدانية الإعلام مضرّ بالمخيلة وبالقريحة وبالإبداع. هل هم يريدون للعمل الصحافي في لبنان أن يقلد التجربة الصحافية في سوريا أو في السعودية، حيث تُستعمل الصحف للف سندويشات الفلافل والشاورما؟ والكتابة لا تستقيم من دون جدليّة التعارض والتناقض، مهما كان حادّاً، إلا إذا كان هناك في المعارضة من يستمتع بجريدة تشرين وجريدة عكاظ ويريد نقل التجربة إلى لبنان. وعندما يُحرم خصمُك من وسائل تعبير، تشعر برغبة في تجميد الخصام حتى تتكافأ الفرص، وإن كانت الكفّة مختلّة أساساً بسبب طغيان الإعلام السعودي والحريري في لبنان وفي العالم العربي.
وفي الجانب الآخر، يجب أن يتوقف تصنّع الغلوّ في مناصرة حرية الرأي من قبل إعلاميّي الحريري وآل سعود. أراد عبده وازن أن يقنعنا بأن إعلام المستقبل كان شوكة في عين الصهيونية، في الوقت الذي كان مسانداً على طريقته للعدوان الإسرائيلي على لبنان في 2006. كما أن إعلام المستقبل لجأ على امتداد ثلاث سنوات إلى تحريض طائفي ومذهبي لم يسبق له مثيل إلا على مواقع القاعدة على الإنترنت. كما أننا لا نذكر أن عبده وازن كان يناصر الإعلام في لبنان عندما كان يتعرّض للقمع من قبل النظام السوري أو رفيق الحريري أو الاثنين معا (نذكر معارك الحريري ضد تلفزيون الجديد). طبعاً، هذا لا يغيّر من ضرورة استنكار الاعتداء على إعلام الحريري، وإن كنا لاحظنا أن مذيعة هناك اعترفت على الهواء بأنها استثيرت «طائفياً» (وأضافت كلاماً كريهاً عن خدماتها «لهؤلاء» أثناء مرورهم في بيروت)، كما أن زافين صرّح مزهوّاً أنه اليوم «طائفي». هي ثقافة الحريري، فليعد إعلام الحريري إلى اختصاصه في البث التحريضي الطائفي.

■ ذهبوا بعيداً

طبعاً، الكارثة الأخيرة في لبنان كانت من صنع فريق ارتضى (لأسباب ماليّة بحتة) أن يربط مصير وطن مختلّ بأهواء فتى ثري وتحالفاته لا يعرف عن لبنان أكثر مما يعرفه بوش. وكالعادة، انتظر حلفاء أميركا في المنطقة أثماناً لا قدرة ولا رغبة لواشنطن على دفعها. ذهبوا بعيداً. تحالفوا مع يمين اليمين: ظنوا أن تكريمهم لجون بولتون لا يمثّل استفزازاً من أي نوع لأحد (حتى في أميركا، يُعدّ بولتون في أقصى اليمين. وقد روى المعلّق اليميني روبرت نوفاك هذا الأسبوع أن المرشح جون مكين رفض كل عروض بولتون الملحاحة للانضمام إلى فريق مستشاريه). وظن وليد جنبلاط أن تقلّبه من أقصى مماشاة الحلف السوري ـــ الإيراني إلى أقصى مماشاة إليوت إبرامز في الحلف الأميركي ـــ الإسرائيلي سيُقابل بحروب «تحريرية» لتوطيد زعامته. لم يتعلّم هو بالتحديد أن أميركا نفسها اتعظت من حروبها في لبنان في الثمانينيات، وأن خصمه آنذاك، أمين الجميل، بدأ عهده بالتهديد بقصف دمشق وانتهى بالتسكّع على أعتاب قصر المهاجرين.
والمفارقات تطفو على سطح تعليقات فريق السلطة. ما معنى أن يقول كارلوس إده (الذي نجح في لجم جماهيره الغاضبة) أو نايلة معوض أن المقاومة فقدت شرعيتها أو قدسيتها، والاثنان لم يؤيدا المقاومة يوماً؟ ثمّ ما معنى هذا الكلام أن شعب لبنان يجب أن يستقبل جيش الاحتلال الإسرائيلي في اجتياحاته المستقبليّة بالورود والرياحين، لأن ميليشيا المستقبل تعرّضت للمهانة، ولأن سلاح المقاومة فقد شرعيته؟ هل هذا يعني أن شاكر البرجاوي أو قائد الميدان سليم دياب سيمنع أي لبناني من مقاومة إسرائيل مستقبلاً؟ أحياناً، يتساءل المرء لو ،ن «نقاط الحديث» تصلهم من شركات إعلان لا علم لديها بالوضع اللبناني أو بالعلاقات الدولية. يظن بعضهم أنه يستطيع أن يسيّر الإدارة الأميركية من عيتات لأنه حظي بلقاء رايس أو حتى بوش. ينسى هؤلاء أن قادة المجاهدين الأفغان كانوا يمرّون على المكتب البيضاوي في البيت الأبيض في عهد ريغان شهرياً (مثلما يمرّ ممثّلو الإدارة الأميركية على السنيورة أسبوعياً)، ومات بعض هؤلاء بقنابل أميركية بعد أن دارت الدوائر والتحق بعض هؤلاء بالطالبان. هم ينسون أن شاه إيران انتهى طريداً.

■ خطأ الوجهة

لكن حزب الله يخطئ إذا أخطأ الوجهة، أو أخطأ تسديد الطلقة. يبتعد حزب الله عن جمهوره (من خارج الحزب والطائفة، وحتى داخلها) بقدر ما يبتعد عن قتال إسرائيل. وعقدة فرساي يمكن أن تستحكم بطائفة مقهورة بحالها، إلا إذا وقع الحزب تحت تأثير أوهام تبالغ من أحجام حلفائه في الطائفة السنّية والدرزية. ومشاهد ميليشيات سيّارة في بيروت تثير مشاعر اشمئزاز دفينة حتى في نفوس من قدّر ويقدّر قتال الحزب البارع ضد العدو الإسرائيلي.
أما اليسار الجذري أو الثوري، فيجب ألا يشطّ. نتذكّر مواقف التهليل للثورة الإسلامية في إيران من قبل أنور عبد الملك وأدونيس وميشيل فوكو. نتذكر كيف انتهى زعيم حزب تودة الشيوعي مُعترِفاً، قبل أن يُعدَم. نرى أن الحزب الشيوعي اللبناني يكاد يتماهى مع موقف حزب الله، بينما يتماهى الياس زهرا (وزمرة اليساريّين السابقين) مع أنطوان زهرا. ونلاحظ أن إسرائيل والنظام في سوريا أصرّا على إبقاء اليسار في لبنان منزوعَ السلاح، وحده. الآن نعلم الكثير عن سلاح جنبلاط والحريري (نشرت «لوس أنجلوس تايمز مقالة مطوّلة عن ميليشيا الحريري. وكعادته في المقابلات الأجنبية، يأخذ أحمد فتفت ـــ ما غيره ـــ راحته في التحليل المذهبي)، ووهاب وأرسلان. وبدلاً من الحديث عن نزع سلاح المقاومة، يجب رفع شعار نشر سلاح المقاومة، ضد إسرائيل، بين اليساريّين المقاومين الذين بادروا إلى إنشاء جبهة المقاومة الوطنية في عام 1978 (بمبادرة من الماركسي العراقي هاشم علي محسن). وإن أيّدَ (ويؤيّدُ) اليسارُ الثوريُّ معركةَ حزب الله ضدّ إسرائيل (وأبعد من ذلك من أجل تحرير كل ملّم مربع من فلسطين العزيزة)، فإن اليسار معنيٌّ أيضاً بشعارات تحرير المرأة والعدل الاجتماعي والعلمانية والتنوّع، وهي أمور يختلف مع حزب الله فيها خلافاً جذريّاً. وراية اليسار هي راية حمراء قانية، لا صفراء ولا خضراء ولا سوداء ولا زرقاء. فلترتفع.

* أستاذ العلوم السياسيّة في جامعة كاليفورنيا
(موقعه على الإنترنت: angryarab.blogspot.com)

عدد السبت ١٧ أيار ٢٠٠٨

——————————————————————————–

عنوان المصدر:
http://www.al-akhbar.com/ar/node/73991

May 17th, 2008, 3:19 pm

 

Qifa Nabki said:

Imagine if there were no Jazeerah, NBN, Manar, or NTV. What would the media spectrum look like? What would the average Joe do when he sees nothing but bigotry and sectarian hysteria on TV? The present position is good, but not enough.

Averroes,

I didn’t mean to suggest that I thought al-Manar and NBN are reputable! 🙂 C’mon, Manar is just as biased as Future TV. And do we need to remember the Eido incident on NBN to be reminded of that station’s prejudices?

I think you have a valid point, when it comes to combatting bigotry and sectarian hysteria. Anyone could get behind such a worthy cause. However, when it comes to politics, I would urge any media start-up to be as independent as possible, reserving criticism for all abuses of power. Unfortunately, such a utopian ethic is not really compatible with present-day Syria, where people are thrown in jail for criticizing the regime. So, then, you are stuck cloning a Syrian version of the Saudi outlets, albeit with less sectarian hysteria.

May 17th, 2008, 3:19 pm

 

Observer said:

I assume Ehsani that you agree with me.
Here is an analysis from Haaretz
ALYSIS / Siniora’s gov’t will fall, the question is when
By Zvi Barel
Tags: Lebanon, Beirut

Sad and tired, wearing shabby clothes and with tears in his eyes, Druze leader Walid Jumblatt stood on the veranda of his luxurious home in Beirut’s Clemenceau neighborhood and explained his decision to television viewers. A few hours before the interview, he had called his political rival, Talal Arsalan, and asked him to coordinate with Hezbollah leader Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah the cessation of the fighting in Mount Lebanon, Aley, Chouf and the Maten region, the power centers of the Druze. In return, Jumblatt ordered his people to lay down their arms and hand them over to the Lebanese Army. Within the framework of the well-planned battle Hezbollah is conducting with the aim of changing the balance of power in Lebanon, the Mount Lebanon struggle, involving rival Druze families, might constitute Nasrallah’s most important victory.

After having occupied Beirut within hours and demonstrating his power in the northern city of Tripoli, Nasrallah succeeded not only in taking over the mount, but also in handing a huge victory to the Syrians. Arsalan, an ally of Syria, is now the mediator on behalf of that country, while Jumblatt is standing around, waiting for Nasrallah to put forward his next conditions.

A small account and a large insult are now being settled between Arsalan and Jumblatt. Arsalan’s rivals among the Druze relate, among other things, that he laundered money the Syrians received from Saddam Hussein in case it would be needed later in an emergency. According to them, the money laundering was accomplished through the Lebanese Al-Mawarid Bank, owned by the Kheireddine clan, to which Arsalan’s wife belongs. When she decided she wanted to divorce her husband upon learning that he was having sex with his chauffeur, the Syrians began to pressure her family to order her to change her mind – after all, they still needed the bank’s services. But the Syrian aid was not of much help to Arsalan in the 2005 elections. Back then Jumblatt won in the town of Choueifat, Arsalan’s stronghold, but now the wheel has turned. Arsalan is striking back at Jumblatt.
Advertisement

Political kaleidoscope

In internal Druze politics, this is a big deal; in Lebanese politics it is a routine matter. Shifting alliances, the betrayal of partners and the adoption of new ones are part and parcel of Lebanese politics, which in part accounts for its uniqueness. This is the way it works now and this is the way it has worked for generations. This is how Lebanon has lured foreign elements – be they French, Syrian or Israeli – into playing its domestic game, in the mistaken belief that its sectarian structure is easy prey for dragging the country to their side.

It is enough to examine the political career of Jumblatt – who is today considered anti-Syrian, but was pro-Syrian in the past; at various times he was both pro- and anti- Palestinian, and an ally of the Shi’ites as well as their determined enemy – to understand the workings of Lebanese politics. Another telling sign is the change undergone by General Michel Aoun, who fought the Syrians bravely in 1990 and was forced into exile in Paris for about 15 years as a result. Today Aoun is Nasrallah’s dear Christian ally and has adopted a pro-Syrian stance, at least according to his statement. Lebanon truly is a political kaleidoscope.

“The Lebanese democracy is steeped in local colors. The rules taught in the political science department do not apply to it. The results of elections alone are not sufficient for running the country. Representation is lacking in a situation where not all the Lebanese families are participating in the government banquet and the decision-making banquet,” is how Ghassan Charbel, editor-in-chief of the London-based Arabic newspaper Dar Al-Hayat, puts it. Participation in the banquet is one thing. But Nasrallah now intends to preside over the event itself, while his rivals wail and hope that he will leave them an adequate part of the feast. Throughout the week it was possible to hear the wails of the losers, among them Prime Minister Fuad Siniora who, in lacerative rhetoric, described Hezbollah as “insurrectionists,” exactly the same word Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas uses to describe Hamas. “They have stabbed democracy in the back,” “They have colonized the center of Beirut,” “We thought the enemy was Israel but now the enemy is here within,” Siniora fired off.

Former president Amin Gemayel also attacked Nasrallah at a press conference he gave on Monday, in front of a large picture of his son Pierre, who was killed about a year and a half ago by assassins, apparently affiliated with the Syrian regime. However, Siniora, Jumayyil, Samir Geagea – the fearsome commander of the Phalanges – and Walid Jumblatt all stood beggars this week, waiting for Nasrallah to have his say.

The term that kept coming up was “dialogue,” negotiations among the groups, or more precisely, “renewed participation in the banquet.” Each of them have their own conditions. Siniora outlined his in the most detailed manner. For his part, he will revoke the decision that constituted the proximate cause of the explosion – that is to say, Nasrallah’s private communications network will not be uprooted and the issue will be sent for examination to the army. In addition, the security chief at Beirut International Airport, Wafiq Shuqair, will be reinstated. In return, Hezbollah will withdraw all its armed forces from the streets, leaving the army the only power in charge of security. According to Siniora’s proposal, after these conditions have been met, an agreed-upon president will be chosen – at present, the most likely incumbent is Michel Suleiman, the commander of the army – and, the most important condition as far as Siniora is concerned, Hezbollah’s use of arms will be brought up for discussion in a joint dialogue between the sides.

It is worth paying close attention to the formulation. Siniora is wary of talking about disarming Hezbollah, and said: “We have never sought the disarmament of Hezbollah.” He just wants to set conditions for the group’s use of arms. By Monday these conditions had changed. After it emerged that Hezbollah had gained control over Mount Lebanon and Jumblatt gave the order to lay down arms, Amin Gemayel, a leader of the Christian Phalange Party, came along and stipulated only one condition for holding a national dialogue: that Hezbollah make a commitment never to use weapons against Lebanese in Lebanon. This is the ironclad condition. A mere commitment. Not disarmament and not discussion on the use of weapons.

A short time later Talal Arsalan, the new Druze leader, appeared and announced that all the weapons of the coalition – i.e., the Christians and the Sunnis – must be handed over to the army. Arsalan made it clear that he knows the locations of all the arms depots and that he has the names of those men bearing arms, and emphasized that there is thus no point in trying to cheat him. And so the wheel turned: Those who had demanded that Hezbollah lay down its arms are now being told to disarm.

The diva’s role

And these were just the opening salvos of the media diplomacy in which the sides engaged this week, as a continuation of the armed diplomacy. The next stipulation was advanced by Druze Member of Parliament Wiam Wahab, a Hezbollah supporter, who called on the army to enter the government palace and eject Fuad Siniora.

At the moment, this is the goal of Nasrallah and his partner Michel Aoun, who has made it clear that the precondition for any negotiations is an agreement to establish a national unity government, in which Hezbollah and its partners will be ensured a total of one-third plus one of all government members. This ensures Hezbollah veto power over any major governmental decision. These are the conditions put forth by the party considered the victor of the present crisis, with the aim of preventing a swift descent into an all-out civil war.

“Those who love Lebanon do not sing in honor of its jailers. You have described to us the nation of dreams, do not diminish that dream the way the dictators of Damascus have diminished our dream of a democratic and free country,” pleaded Lebanese MP Akram Chehayeb.

The Druze Chehayeb, a member of the Progressive Socialist Party headed by Walid Jumblatt, addressed his plea to the national diva, the singer Fairuz. He issued this emotional call because she agreed – after some 30 years of absence from Damascus – to participate in the opera “Awaken!” (Sah al Noum), which was produced in Damascus in the framework of a festival celebrating its inauguration as “the capital of Arab culture for 2008.”

Today the MP will need far more than that. It is those forces singing in honor of Syria that are dictating how Lebanon is run. The question now is not whether Siniora’s government will fall, but rather when and how. This will be the grounds for the next demonstration of force between Hezbollah and the government. The relative quiet that has prevailed in Lebanon in recent days should not mislead anyone. Nor should the deployment of the army. Nasrallah is now loping toward the government building.

May 17th, 2008, 3:26 pm

 

Naji said:

And here is the view from the other side…:

http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/984023.html

Last update – 17:26 17/05/2008
ANALYSIS / Siniora’s gov’t will fall, the question is when
By Zvi Barel

Sad and tired, wearing shabby clothes and with tears in his eyes, Druze leader Walid Jumblatt stood on the veranda of his luxurious home in Beirut’s Clemenceau neighborhood and explained his decision to television viewers. A few hours before the interview, he had called his political rival, Talal Arsalan, and asked him to coordinate with Hezbollah leader Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah the cessation of the fighting in Mount Lebanon, Aley, Chouf and the Maten region, the power centers of the Druze. In return, Jumblatt ordered his people to lay down their arms and hand them over to the Lebanese Army. Within the framework of the well-planned battle Hezbollah is conducting with the aim of changing the balance of power in Lebanon, the Mount Lebanon struggle, involving rival Druze families, might constitute Nasrallah’s most important victory.

After having occupied Beirut within hours and demonstrating his power in the northern city of Tripoli, Nasrallah succeeded not only in taking over the mount, but also in handing a huge victory to the Syrians. Arsalan, an ally of Syria, is now the mediator on behalf of that country, while Jumblatt is standing around, waiting for Nasrallah to put forward his next conditions.

A small account and a large insult are now being settled between Arsalan and Jumblatt. Arsalan’s rivals among the Druze relate, among other things, that he laundered money the Syrians received from Saddam Hussein in case it would be needed later in an emergency. According to them, the money laundering was accomplished through the Lebanese Al-Mawarid Bank, owned by the Kheireddine clan, to which Arsalan’s wife belongs. When she decided she wanted to divorce her husband upon learning that he was having sex with his chauffeur, the Syrians began to pressure her family to order her to change her mind – after all, they still needed the bank’s services. But the Syrian aid was not of much help to Arsalan in the 2005 elections. Back then Jumblatt won in the town of Choueifat, Arsalan’s stronghold, but now the wheel has turned. Arsalan is striking back at Jumblatt.

Political kaleidoscope

In internal Druze politics, this is a big deal; in Lebanese politics it is a routine matter. Shifting alliances, the betrayal of partners and the adoption of new ones are part and parcel of Lebanese politics, which in part accounts for its uniqueness. This is the way it works now and this is the way it has worked for generations. This is how Lebanon has lured foreign elements – be they French, Syrian or Israeli – into playing its domestic game, in the mistaken belief that its sectarian structure is easy prey for dragging the country to their side.

It is enough to examine the political career of Jumblatt – who is today considered anti-Syrian, but was pro-Syrian in the past; at various times he was both pro- and anti- Palestinian, and an ally of the Shi’ites as well as their determined enemy – to understand the workings of Lebanese politics. Another telling sign is the change undergone by General Michel Aoun, who fought the Syrians bravely in 1990 and was forced into exile in Paris for about 15 years as a result. Today Aoun is Nasrallah’s dear Christian ally and has adopted a pro-Syrian stance, at least according to his statement. Lebanon truly is a political kaleidoscope.

“The Lebanese democracy is steeped in local colors. The rules taught in the political science department do not apply to it. The results of elections alone are not sufficient for running the country. Representation is lacking in a situation where not all the Lebanese families are participating in the government banquet and the decision-making banquet,” is how Ghassan Charbel, editor-in-chief of the London-based Arabic newspaper Dar Al-Hayat, puts it. Participation in the banquet is one thing. But Nasrallah now intends to preside over the event itself, while his rivals wail and hope that he will leave them an adequate part of the feast. Throughout the week it was possible to hear the wails of the losers, among them Prime Minister Fuad Siniora who, in lacerative rhetoric, described Hezbollah as “insurrectionists,” exactly the same word Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas uses to describe Hamas. “They have stabbed democracy in the back,” “They have colonized the center of Beirut,” “We thought the enemy was Israel but now the enemy is here within,” Siniora fired off.

Former president Amin Gemayel also attacked Nasrallah at a press conference he gave on Monday, in front of a large picture of his son Pierre, who was killed about a year and a half ago by assassins, apparently affiliated with the Syrian regime. However, Siniora, Jumayyil, Samir Geagea – the fearsome commander of the Phalanges – and Walid Jumblatt all stood beggars this week, waiting for Nasrallah to have his say.

The term that kept coming up was “dialogue,” negotiations among the groups, or more precisely, “renewed participation in the banquet.” Each of them have their own conditions. Siniora outlined his in the most detailed manner. For his part, he will revoke the decision that constituted the proximate cause of the explosion – that is to say, Nasrallah’s private communications network will not be uprooted and the issue will be sent for examination to the army. In addition, the security chief at Beirut International Airport, Wafiq Shuqair, will be reinstated. In return, Hezbollah will withdraw all its armed forces from the streets, leaving the army the only power in charge of security. According to Siniora’s proposal, after these conditions have been met, an agreed-upon president will be chosen – at present, the most likely incumbent is Michel Suleiman, the commander of the army – and, the most important condition as far as Siniora is concerned, Hezbollah’s use of arms will be brought up for discussion in a joint dialogue between the sides.

It is worth paying close attention to the formulation. Siniora is wary of talking about disarming Hezbollah, and said: “We have never sought the disarmament of Hezbollah.” He just wants to set conditions for the group’s use of arms. By Monday these conditions had changed. After it emerged that Hezbollah had gained control over Mount Lebanon and Jumblatt gave the order to lay down arms, Amin Gemayel, a leader of the Christian Phalange Party, came along and stipulated only one condition for holding a national dialogue: that Hezbollah make a commitment never to use weapons against Lebanese in Lebanon. This is the ironclad condition. A mere commitment. Not disarmament and not discussion on the use of weapons.

A short time later Talal Arsalan, the new Druze leader, appeared and announced that all the weapons of the coalition – i.e., the Christians and the Sunnis – must be handed over to the army. Arsalan made it clear that he knows the locations of all the arms depots and that he has the names of those men bearing arms, and emphasized that there is thus no point in trying to cheat him. And so the wheel turned: Those who had demanded that Hezbollah lay down its arms are now being told to disarm.

The diva’s role

And these were just the opening salvos of the media diplomacy in which the sides engaged this week, as a continuation of the armed diplomacy. The next stipulation was advanced by Druze Member of Parliament Wiam Wahab, a Hezbollah supporter, who called on the army to enter the government palace and eject Fuad Siniora.

At the moment, this is the goal of Nasrallah and his partner Michel Aoun, who has made it clear that the precondition for any negotiations is an agreement to establish a national unity government, in which Hezbollah and its partners will be ensured a total of one-third plus one of all government members. This ensures Hezbollah veto power over any major governmental decision. These are the conditions put forth by the party considered the victor of the present crisis, with the aim of preventing a swift descent into an all-out civil war.

“Those who love Lebanon do not sing in honor of its jailers. You have described to us the nation of dreams, do not diminish that dream the way the dictators of Damascus have diminished our dream of a democratic and free country,” pleaded Lebanese MP Akram Chehayeb.

The Druze Chehayeb, a member of the Progressive Socialist Party headed by Walid Jumblatt, addressed his plea to the national diva, the singer Fairuz. He issued this emotional call because she agreed – after some 30 years of absence from Damascus – to participate in the opera “Awaken!” (Sah al Noum), which was produced in Damascus in the framework of a festival celebrating its inauguration as “the capital of Arab culture for 2008.”

Today the MP will need far more than that. It is those forces singing in honor of Syria that are dictating how Lebanon is run. The question now is not whether Siniora’s government will fall, but rather when and how. This will be the grounds for the next demonstration of force between Hezbollah and the government. The relative quiet that has prevailed in Lebanon in recent days should not mislead anyone. Nor should the deployment of the army. Nasrallah is now loping toward the government building.

May 17th, 2008, 3:27 pm

 

EHSANI2 said:

Dear OBSERVER:

Of course I do agree with you (I always do!)

In the meantime, a brief follow up to my earlier note on U.S.-Saudi relations:

Given the anxiety of U.S. voters over the current price of gasoline, congress is considering withholding arms sales to Saudi Arabia until it ramps up production by one million barrels a day. It is also considering the opening up of OPEC countries to anti-collusion lawsuits in the U.S. Senate democrats are pushing for legislation to block pending arms deals with KSA until production increases by one million barrels per day.

The Saudis needed to make sure that the U.S. President does not come back empty-handed, hence that token 300,000 barrels increase starting next month.

Saudi-American relations are having to go through a real test right now. This does not bode well for the Kingdom.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/jamal-dajani/iran-wins-in-lebanon_b_102169.html

May 17th, 2008, 3:28 pm

 

EHSANI2 said:

And here the shock of the day:

The U.S. government has asked Turkey to increase efforts to advance negotiations between Israel and Syria. According to the report, the US request comes in light of the recent political crisis in Lebanon and the US assessment that peace between Israel and Syria will help the country distance itself from HA.

http://www.alhayat.com/arab_news/levant_news/05-2008/Item-20080516-f2d07764-c0a8-10ed-01e2-5c733f3e5cfc/story.html

The Americans “WILL TAKE PART” in the talks if Turkey succeeds.

Now, this is a real about-face

May 17th, 2008, 4:03 pm

 

norman said:

As we can see , They only respond to power , if Hezbollah lost in Lebanon they would have said to Syria ,( GOOD BUY ) We do not need you , Another success for Syria’s foreign policy .

May 17th, 2008, 4:10 pm

 

Qifa Nabki said:

Let’s see what Bashar does with this. He has insisted that any peace deal with Israel will not come at the expense of Syria’s relations with Hizbullah or Iran.

This is (finally) a smart move on the part of the U.S. By putting some diplomatic muscle behind the Turkish effort, Washington is effectively pushing Bashar to put his money where his mouth is, and then to use that mouth to explain how he is going to make all the pieces fall into place. In other words, Bush is calling Bashar’s bluff. If it IS just a bluff, then the tide of public opinion in Lebanon will turn against Hizbullah as being just another one of Bashar’s delay tactics. If it is NOT a bluff, then this works to the American advantage as well, because Bashar will have to find a way to square the circle.

At the end of the day, “cards” are useful only if they are used in smart ways. Last week, Syria and Iran demonstrated that their card in Lebanon could not be neutralized by the U.S/Saudi card. Ok. So what’s next? Does anyone have a frickin’ plan, or is this just a big pissing contest?

May 17th, 2008, 4:20 pm

 

norman said:

QN, My son , OH My son ,

It is not a smart move because they had a choice , It is a smart move because they lost their bet and they were outsmarted by Syria , now they are trying to cut their losses , Just say it , you will feel better.

May 17th, 2008, 4:34 pm

 

Qifa Nabki said:

Ammo Norman

If it makes you feel better, Syria outsmarted them. Syria outsmarted everybody! In fact, Syria killed Hariri knowing full well that it would be ejected from Lebanon, and the ensuing three years would lead us precisely to this point, where it would hand America its head on a platter.

😉

May 17th, 2008, 4:41 pm

 

EHSANI2 said:

QN,

Bashar already said that Iran-Syria relations will not change if Syria-Israel talks begin. Bush knows this. Everyone knows that Syria will not abandon this incredible ace in the deck as far as Damascus is concerned. Bush needs a reason to change course and support the Syria-Israel peace talks. He needs a cover. His only one is “hope” that Syria will rein in HA. Syria will never make this commitment till talks actually start and the US joins in. When that does happen, Damascus has already won. By the way, reigning in HA pledge by them will mean that they are back in the driver seat in Lebanon. The March 14th nightmare scenario is already taking shape slowly but steadily.

May 17th, 2008, 4:45 pm

 

norman said:

QN,

Syria did not kill Hariri,

May 17th, 2008, 4:49 pm

 

Qifa Nabki said:

Ehsani

Let’s be perfectly honest: talks with Israel will go absolutely nowhere unless there is an indication by Bashar (over the table or under the table) that he will be able to make Hizbullah play ball. If he wants to keep everything as is but just TALK peace, then the Israelis are going to keep making that sweet Golani wine and waving at Syria’s troops over the border. Nothing will happen.

On the other hand, if Bashar is TRULY serious about peace, then he has to be truly serious about bringing the Lebanese on board from the very beginning, otherwise there is nothing in it for Israel. This means that he has to put Hizbullah’s guns on the table. How does this translate into a nightmare scenario for March 14? On the contrary, it’s a triumph! It means that the country would no longer be held hostage to the resistance, and Hizbullah would have to integrate into Lebanese political society like everyone else. This would be a major victory for Lebanon (forget March 14… if you want to see them go, I won’t cry for them. But Lebanon will be stronger for it.)

You seem to believe that Syria will try to use the promise of disarming Hizbullah as a way to “get back in the driver’s seat in Lebanon.” But what does this really mean, Ehsani? That things will go back to the way they used to be? That is impossible, because we would be living in state of peace and not war with Israel. The entire game will have changed. Syria will have definitively left the resistance camp, and Bashar will have to begin aggressively addressing reforms, having lost the old excuses for keeping the belt cinched tight. In the meantime, Hizbullah will have to go looking for a new raison d’etre, facing challenges from other Shi`a upstart parties, etc.

If Bashar is pursuing this tactic purely to get back in the driver’s seat in Lebanon, and to make life a nightmare for March 14, then he’s playing the wrong game. There may not even be a March 14 by then, but you can bet that all the same players will be around, in new alliances and alignments. If Bashar’s bluffing, then he’ll look weak when the bluff is exposed, and everyone will know who is wearing the pants in the Syrian-Iranian marriage. If he’s NOT bluffing, then a peace deal will change the political landscape completely. All bets will be off.

May 17th, 2008, 5:13 pm

 

Naji said:

Everything going on today is quite bizzare… Today’s Ha’aretz headlines below are an interesting coincidence of a collection that perhaps anticipates “the plan” and reinforces my alarm at the scenario of a planned simultaneous attack on Hamas, HA, and the Iranian Revolutionary Guard, while doing their best to keep Syria out of the conflict (to avoid a messy rocket attack on Israel)…!!? This also explaines the Saudi/M14 wavering (hesitantly) on yesterday’s pre-conference agreement…!?

Report: Egypt warns Hamas of major IDF Gaza raid if Shalit not freed
Lebanese daily says Hamas willing to release Shalit, but not ready to accept Israel’s prisoner list. 18:32
Tags: Israel, Omar Suleiman, Hamas

Ex-IAF Chief: Expect thousands of rockets on Israel in future war
Eliezer Shkedi says no complete solution to rocket fire, strengthening of Hezbollah and Syria is worrying. 18:35
Tags: Hamas, Hezbollah, Israel

Bush: Lebanon facing ‘defining moment’ in its history
Bush says ‘radical elements’ trying to undermine Siniora, vows U.S. will stand with Lebanon against Hezbollah. 19:26
Tags: Hezbollah, Lebanon, Civil War

Report: U.S. asks Turkey to push harder for Israel-Syria talks
Al-Hayat reports U.S. open to participating in talks if Turkey is able to achieve a breakthrough. 18:55
Tags: Turkey, Israel, Syria

May 17th, 2008, 5:31 pm

 

Qifa Nabki said:

No news yet out of Doha.

The three elements are the following:

a) Cabinet

b) Electoral law

c) Hizbullah’s weapons

My guess is that March 14 will budge on the veto, in exchange for certain modifications to the 1960 electoral law. All sides will agree to take a breather, each betting that things will be in their favor come the next elections, in 2009.

On the issue of the weapons, Hizbullah will give some guarantees that sharpen the previous arrangements, in exchange for getting an extension of its resistance mandate. This is where Aoun can play a positive role.

May 17th, 2008, 5:37 pm

 

Honest Patriot said:

Norman, what is your theory on who killed Hariri?

May 17th, 2008, 5:58 pm

 

Naji said:

It is amusing that those who were named the axis-of-the-snubbed for failing to snub Syria at the Damascus Arab Summit, getting themselves snubbed instead, are now themselves snubbing the original snubber granddady of all snubbers, W…! 🙂

(I will keep using “amusing” until our SimoHero comes back…! 🙂 )

May 17th, 2008, 6:18 pm

 

EHSANI2 said:

Dear QN,

The words “back in the driver seat in Lebanon” may not have been the most appropriate use of the language to express my thought. Let me try again:

Damascus has been fully aware for years that its influence over Lebanon will strengthen its position with respect to peace talks with Israel. It is also aware that its influence in Lebanon will also strengthen its position in the region.

That long strategy may will deliver the goods in the end. American officials are now hinting about getting involved with the Syria/Israel talks to supposedly help distance Syria from HA. In other words, these officials now admit that only Syria holds the key to HA and since the latter is now the strongest player in Lebanon, then Syria indeed holds the key to solving Lebanon’s crisis. The carrot is the peace talks process.

This is precisely the slam dunk that Syria has long craved for.

Being in the driver seat means that Syria’s enemies in Lebanon will suffer (or already have) a setback. This will not mean that the Syrian soldiers will be back in Lebanon.

“If” Syria can enter peace talks with Israel with the U.S. prodding along, the reasons for holding the Lebanon card in the deck will slowly go away.

May 17th, 2008, 6:20 pm

 

ghat Albird said:

OBSERVER.

Comments and posits are as close to reality as possible. And spot on.

The only valid comment one can make is: which nation/society or group’s media is not self serving? The honest answer is none. Its the nature of the beast.

Hope the outcome from Doha does justice to all fairly equally.

May 17th, 2008, 6:26 pm

 

Naji said:

Britain has also joined the chorus today and accused the Iranian RG of being responsible for training the Iraqi insurgents and of being the root of all evil and the bloody hell in Iraq….!! The plot thickens…?!

May 17th, 2008, 6:41 pm

 

Shai said:

Naji,

“The plan”, as you called it, with Israel simultaneously attacking Hamas, HA, and Iranian Revolutionary Guard, is not going to be initiated by Israel. It could still happen, as I mentioned two days ago – http://joshualandis.com/blog/?p=712#comment-145666, if the following occur:

1) Hamas does not accept the “calm” conditions set forth by Israel (to include Gilad Shalit – http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-3544358,00.html). Clearly, Israel is now backing Hamas into a corner, knowing full well what Hamas’s response will be.

2) Hamas rejects, and there’s a full-blown operation into Gaza. This will soon look like Lebanon 2006. But Israel will not hit HA or Syria (or certainly Iran), unless HA gets involved.

3) If and when hundreds of innocent Palestinians in Gaza are killed in such an operation, I believe HA will be under tremendous pressure to act (perhaps even by Iran). HA has completely rebuilt its capabilities, especially its long-distance ones, and will have to seriously consider its own image if it does not react in support of the Palestinians. Of course also the ramifications inside Lebanon if it did. Israel knows this, and will assume HA will be weakened either way (if doesn’t react, and if it does).

4) If HA reacts, and lobs missiles into Israel like in summer 2006, we’re at a new regional war, because Israel cannot fight “calmly” on two fronts. It will call up massive amounts of reserves, and most of its army will be fighting on both fronts, ready to include Syria and/or Iran if necessary. There will be plenty of “advisors” suggesting to Olmert to punish Syria this time around, for having enabled the rearming of HA. If Olmert asks for Bush’s opinion, Syria will be hit. And if that happens, Syria will certainly respond, we’ll respond back harder, and perhaps Iran will also join in.

These possible steps will not occur alone, they’ll be a sequence of action and reaction on the ground. Israel may well start this whole thing rolling, by first going into Gaza. But the way it may develop, up to and including step 4 above, is not in anyone’s interest because it will seriously destabilize the entire region. Many will die in the process.

It seems to me that the entire Arab world is about to make very serious decisions vis-a-vis Israel and Iran. Alsharq Alawsat is using terms like “cowardly Arabs”, and is clearly pushing for a rift amongst pro and anti-Iran Arab states. The depiction of “moderate” Arabs versus “fundamentalists” (or their supporters) will set us on a certain crash course, which may well result in the destruction of a few regimes in the region. Most likely to suffer most, I believe, are Lebanon (as always), the Palestinians (as always), Syria and Iran. Unless Saudi Arabia tones down its rhetoric, Lebanon’s Hariri et al calm down, Abu Mazen stops holding on to Bush’s hand, and Mubarak/Abdullah stop avoiding Bashar, there’s going to be an explosion. If Syria stays on the Iran/HA/Hamas alliance, at best it may find itself losing at least as much as the Palestinians did in the first Iraq war, having supported Saddam. At worst, it will be hit very hard militarily.

Unless there are some dramatic changes soon (in the coming weeks, not months), I fear our region may be heading towards a catastrophe, and everyone seems to be keeping their blinds on, hoping no one will make them look.

May 17th, 2008, 6:52 pm

 

Naji said:

Al Jazeera is facing the sectarian Sunni vs. Shia inflammatory campaign crap head on with a special program on right now… Bravo…!

The debate is cleverly set up: Ibrahim Amin, chief editor of Al-Akhbar, vesrsus Ali Amin, the nutty M14 turbaned Shia cleric… on the question of whether there is a Shia project for dominance in Lebanon and the region…!!

May 17th, 2008, 7:19 pm

 

norman said:

Shai,

Cool down , Hezbollah , Syria and Iran will not fight if Israel attacks Hamas , they will support Hamas on the international arena and actually , the attack at the Palestinians will make KSA, Egypt and Abbas weaker as it will show that there is no chance of peace with Israel and military conflict is the only way , now will Israel risk all the connections that it had and has with what is called moderate states for a military operation that will make it’s leaders feel powerful but will lead to no peace with the Palestinians , the only way for Israel to move forward is to accept the fact that the Palestinians suffered a lot from the establishment of Israel and that Israel has a moral responsibility to improve their lives and tell them that it cares about , then if they do not respond, then and only then , It is the Palestinians and their leaders fault.
I want to say it again and again,

What is the end of this stupid killing and counter killing , Israel can not kill the Palestinians or their rights off and the Palestinians can not push the Jews back to Europe , the question , how long these leaders will take to get this fact .

HP ,

Ask T DESCO, he seems to be up to date , but my take , probably his business associates .

May 17th, 2008, 7:22 pm

 

Shai said:

Ehsani2,

Makes very good sense. But the real dilemmas for Syria will come when both Israel and the U.S. will (foolishly) ask it to sever its relations with Iran/HA/Hamas. Obviously Syria will not just up and agree, but the question will be if it’ll agree to anything in that direction. Personally, I hope whatever team Syria puts out there to negotiate (beyond just al-Taqi), that they’ll be able to persuade their counterparts that it is in Israel’s (and America’s) best interest to have Syria remain a good friend of Iran’s, as well as HA and Hamas.

May 17th, 2008, 7:23 pm

 

Majhool said:

I just want to thank Ehsani and QN for the excellent exchange. I tend to agree more with QN. Thank you both.

May 17th, 2008, 7:26 pm

 

Naji said:

Norman,
You and Shai misunderstood me, perhaps. The attack on Hamas, HA, and Iran will not be Israel’s idea, really. The attack will also not be carried out by Israel, chiefly. Israel will be drawn into this, against its own interests, by the remorseless maniacal criminal cabal of Bush-cheney and co…! The fact that Israel, unlike Syria, has an extremely weak leadership at the moment will make it easy prey to this madness…! This is music to Shai’s ears, because it supports his argument the presidency of his Bibi…, but not soon enough, I am afraid…!

And Shai wastes too much time theorizing on how might such a war start. That is almost irrelevent, really. What it takes to start a war is a decision. Once a decision is made by one of the parties to a potential war, a trigger is the easiest thing to find at the required moment…!! Just imagin a small katyusha barrage on northern Israel on some (in)opportune evening…! Who is going to want to believe that it was lobbed by Al Qaida types, not by HA, even if anybody cared for the difference between the two…!

May 17th, 2008, 7:31 pm

 

ausamaa said:

From CounterPunch

May 17 / 18, 2008
CounterPunch Diary
The View from the Crusaders’ Castle
By ALEXANDER COCKBURN

Krak des Chevaliers, Syria

Thirty years ago, when the state of Israel had traveled only half its present journey through time since 1948 I interviewed General Matti Peled in New York. As an army general Peled had been a notably tough administrator of the Occupied Territories, but in retirement had become a dove, publicly urging his country to negotiate seriously with the Palestinians, abandon the illegal settlements, return to the ’67 borders and resolve all the other major issues obstructing a proper peace.

“What do you think will happen,” I asked the former general, “If no Israeli government ever emerges strong enough to take such a path?”

“Oh, I think we’ll end up like the Crusaders,” he answered. “It might take some time, but just like them, in the end, we’ll be gone.” It was startling at the time to hear any Israeli, particularly a military man, talk like that. Of course, then as always, the Israel lobby in the United States loved to depict embattled Israel as only one step from annihilation by bloodthirsty Arabs unless the United States offered unconditional diplomatic support and limitless subsidies.

Back then, manypeople thought that something approaching a tolerable deal within the framework of UN resolutions could be reached. It wouldn’t be what the Palestinians wanted, but they would get at least a halfways coherent statelet; the settlements would stop, maybe even get rolled back.

By 2008, these notions look as quaint as a Victorian Christmas card. The notional Palestinian state occasionally proffered by the overweening Israelis is a patchwork of separate enclaves, boxed in by settlements, bisected by Jews-only military roads, with limited access to water.

Hamas, the political party voted for by desperate Palestinians, is stigmatized by the US and EU as a terrorist body. When Jimmy Carter, the US president in office when I interviewed General Peled, denounced Israel’s siege of Gaza as an appalling crime against civilians a few weeks ago, he himself was savaged as the accomplice of terror.

In the United States there are, it’s true, more questions asked about the role of the Israel Lobby than a generation ago, but these are mere ripples on the wide ocean of full-throated congressional support for anything the hawks in Israel might request. This year, as in all previous years, no mainstream US presidential candidate has dared do anything more than kow-tow to the Israel lobby. Hilary Clinton may have caused a stir by using the word “obliterate” as the treatment the US would mete out to Iran if it threatened Israel’s existence, but all her rivals would say the same thing if pressed. And of course ”threat” can mean almost anything.

Voyaging to Israel last week (not ironically on the anniversary of the Naqba, Israel’s eviction of the Palestinians in 1948) Bush has hoped to bring his eight-year submission to the Israeli hawks to a finale with some sort of “Oslo-2” agreement, giving permanent sanction to Israel’s land grabs and final consignment of all UN agreements to the dustbin of history. But his trip to Israel had the misfortune to coincide with the gravest charges of corruption showering down on prime minister Olmert’s head. Stuttering excuses for the munificent financial contributions extended to him by the Long Island-based realtor Morris Talansky, Olmert has had to pledge that if indicted he will resign, and indeed it looks as though his days are numbered. The patching together of any new coalition will be a protracted affair.

Bush may rant in the Knesset , but US policy in the region has sustained a humiliating rebuff as the government of Lebanon rescinds its efforts to cut back on Hezbollah’s communications systems and ability to monitor all traffic at Beirut airport. With Israel in a uproar about missile salvoes on Ashkelon from Gaza, no one will forget Hezbollah’s ability to launch similar salvoes. In Riyadh Bush got the brush off from the Saudis in his effort to get the Kingdom to boost oil production.

Earlier this week I looked south toward Israel from the Krak des Chevaliers, the greatest of the Crusaders’ castles, looming above the Syrian coastal plain about four hours drive from Damascus. The odious T.E.Lawrence called it “perhaps the best preserved and most wholly admirable castle in the world.” Despite the efforts of Saladin, the Hospitallers were never dislodged from the Krak by force. It was eventually the Mamluk Sultan of Egypt, Baybars, who winkled them out by negotiation, in 1271 after the Crusaders had held it for 162 years.

Standing on the great south tower (actually completed by French engineers in the 1930s) I remembered Peled’s remarks about Israel and the Crusaders, who held the Krak three times longer than Israel’s present span. The hawks, just as Peled and scores of other doves in recent years charge, have not buttressed Israel’s security. In the middle and long term they have gravely compromised it. The balance of forces in the region have changed drastically from the US dominance of a generation or two ago. Soon Bush will be gone; Olmert maybe sooner. Just all all new visitors to Iarael are given a tour of Yad Vashem, perhaps all politicians pondering Israel’s security and justice for Palestinians should also be given a compulsory tour of the Krak des Chevaliers.

Footnote: A shorter version of this column first ran Friday in http://www.thefirstpost.co.uk

May 17th, 2008, 7:38 pm

 

Shai said:

Norman,

You know I’m on the exact same page as you on these issues. If I had a dime for every time I screamed the same words at my own countrymen, I’d be one rich fella. But I disagree with your “optimism” about HA, Syria, and Iran not joining in support of the Palestinians. The last two, I agree. HA, again, has its legitimacy originating from resistance. Resisting who? Israel of course. I know most here will tell me that it has stated time and again (and in practice) that it will only stick to issues pertaining to Lebanon (ya’ani Shebaa farms now). But in reality, HA has also acted when Israel did not attack Lebanon. Two best examples are Operation Homat Magen in 2002 (massive operation against many cities and towns in the West Bank, during which HA lobbed a few Katyushas into Israel), and of course the kidnapping of the soldiers in 2006, which was a terrible miscalculation.

Again, I don’t mean that every time the IDF fights Hamas, HA “wakes up”. Of course not. But if god forbid Lebanon 2006 comes to Gaza in the coming weeks, and a massive air and ground operation leaves hundreds perhaps thousands of innocent Palestinians dead (not just Hamas fighters), and all the media channels show this live, day and night, there will be tremendous pressure everywhere, to help the Palestinians. KSA, Egypt, Jordan, Syria, Iran, everyone else, will condemn this operation, each in their own way. But HA will be under pressure to do more than just talk. From Iran’s point of view, HA’s resistance, just like anyone else’s in the ME, should be linked to the Palestinians as much as to the Lebanese. Iran benefits from IDF operations in Gaza and Lebanon, as it receives more and more support from people around the ME and the Islamic world. Surely we can’t discount the possibility that Iran herself will push HA to react in support if such a situation occurred. After all, what are all those tens of thousands of rockets (including long-distance ones) there for? To control the internal situation in Lebanon? To ensure Lebanon gets back the Shebaa Farms? Of course not – it’s about having offensive, not only defensive, capabilities vis-a-vis Israel.

Believe me, Norman, I want nothing more than to know that tomorrow is a calmer day than today. I want to live to see the day we can all live in peace, knowing our children will not need to fight and die in battle. But I’m reading the messages that our leaders are sending across the media, preparing public opinion here, and throughout the ME, for a massive collision. The whole region, I believe, is about to be split along very clear and sharp lines – pro versus anti-Iran. That’s it. It won’t be about the Palestinians, it won’t be about Israel, it won’t be about the Golan. It’ll be about Iran. In fact, the ONLY Arabs that don’t seem to be afraid of Iran today are Syria, HA, and Hamas. Everyone else, it seems, is sh*t scared. And when that’s the case, you end up allying yourself quickly with powerful friends, like the U.S., and quite possibly even Israel. I’m not sure that if Syria was given a quiet ultimatum (choose between Iran and war) what it would choose. I hope it would never give up its alliances, because it is very much in Israel’s best interest to have peace with Syria that is very friendly to Iran, HA, and Hamas.

May 17th, 2008, 7:42 pm

 

Shai said:

Naji,

You may well be right. I can just see Bibi snickering right now from ear to ear, letting all this Hell-on-earth play itself out. And when it’s done, and fingers start to point at an impotent Israeli “leadership” that hasn’t learned the lessons of Lebanon 2006 and the Vinograd Report… guess who’s going to be there, politely volunteering his “assistance” in becoming our next PM? And… he’ll get it. Question will be then, will HE have learned anything from these past two decades, and will he be ready to go down in history as the final Likudnik to end the Arab-Israel conflict (on all its sides). But I agree, we’re a long way from that. Unless…(!) by some miracle of god, Olmert’s latest, and 6th, investigation will quickly bring about pressure to resign. Then, fast primaries in the Kadima party will produce a new PM (not sure it’ll be Livni – sorry), and it is doubtful that someone new will risk everything already now by going into Gaza, starting a regional war, etc. A new leader in Kadima will be more likely to stand up to any Bush-Cheney adventure than Olmert was. But in the meantime… he’s very much alive and in control.

Naji, my “theorizing” is not intended to be a theoretical exercise (though I hope in the end it’ll be proven no more than that), but rather to show how fragile and flammable everything is at the moment. Even if NO ONE wants war, or makes the decision to go to one, it can still happen. It’s this damned chain reaction that I’m afraid of. Most parties here, including HA and Hamas, surely don’t want to see a regional war develop. Neither does Israel. But this is precisely why Israel and Syria should now meet in Turkey, and go over these theoretical scenarios, and to assure one another that neither will react against the other. Yes, they will end up selling out the Palestinians and the Lebanese in such a case, but hopefully calmer minds will prevail, and we’ll never have to see this happen.

May 17th, 2008, 7:47 pm

 

Nur al-Cubicle said:

I really wish people would stop posting the whole damn article and just include a paragraph and a link. There is no way most readers going to stop and read those things.

May 17th, 2008, 8:00 pm

 

Seeking the Truth said:

Shai,

I thought the kidnapping of the Israeli soldiers in 2006 by HA, was mainly to force a prisoners exchange.

May 17th, 2008, 8:41 pm

 

norman said:

NUR,

I think publishing the whole article is to make it part of Syria comment so others can find them as links go away after a while.

At least that what i understand Alex said.

May 17th, 2008, 8:48 pm

 

Shai said:

Seeking,

Yes, I believe that was HA’s reasoning. But Israel hadn’t made a “new move” into Lebanon, or against Lebanon, prior to the kidnapping. So in that sense, it was an initiative by HA. But yes, the 2002 example is more relevant with regards directly to the Palestinians.

May 17th, 2008, 8:48 pm

 

JustOneAmerican said:

You and Shai misunderstood me, perhaps. The attack on Hamas, HA, and Iran will not be Israel’s idea, really. The attack will also not be carried out by Israel, chiefly. Israel will be drawn into this, against its own interests, by the remorseless maniacal criminal cabal of Bush-cheney and co…!

So you seriously think the US is going to up and attack Iran, Hamas and HA?

May 17th, 2008, 9:27 pm

 

Naji said:

I am quite confident that none of Iran, Syria, HA, Hamas, or most Israelis want war. Despite appearances, none of these are suicidal maniacs…! After all, all these people live here and will be the ones to pay, some more dearly than others, but all unnecessary… War has no strategic value for any of these now, and none of them is about to launch a self-destructive ideological war of choice with an uncertain outcome.

However, the Bush-Cheney criminal cabal that I described earlier, while not Israeli, is mostly made up of Israelis… in an unholy alliance with Saudis and fundamentalist Americans of all elks…! Nothing good can come out of such a ring of thugs and senile lunatics… especially when they can spread their mayhem from a comfortable distance in some Texas ranch or Saudi “palace”…

The only ones that percieve a strategic value in a war right now are the feeble… those on the wane… : Bush and co, the Sauds, Olmert and co… and other senile demagogues like Mubarak or Jumblatt…!

Iran, Syria, HA, Hamas… are all young and vigorous… are all on the rise… They would not risk stunting their growth by an unnecessary war…, but their adversaries will want to stunt their growth…!!

May 17th, 2008, 9:29 pm

 

AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Does anyone else see the irony of a Syrian complaining about one country forcing a war on another? Perhaps the Lebanese?

May 17th, 2008, 9:49 pm

 

Naji said:

JustOneAmerican,
The idea is not that “the US is going to up and attack Iran, Hamas and HA”, and I am not the first genius that has seen this desire. A debilitating massive strike against Hamas and HA would not be that hard to pull off by Israel , with or without US participation. And a limited US strike against certain elements of the Iranian regime and power projection, i.e. the Revolutionary Guard, is also easily manageable as it would not warrant an all-out retaliation by Iran against its neighbors that would risk it near total annihilation…! If these attacks work as smoothly as their promoters imagine, they would make a lot of sense…. They would defang and humiliate Iran and Syria, rolling back their regional rise and keeping them from further meddling for a while, without having to topple their regimes, as was originally tried and failed…!

May 17th, 2008, 9:55 pm

 

SimoHurtta said:

Given the anxiety of U.S. voters over the current price of gasoline, congress is considering withholding arms sales to Saudi Arabia until it ramps up production by one million barrels a day.

Saudi-American relations are having to go through a real test right now. This does not bode well for the Kingdom.

Hmmm Eshani2 maybe the Congress has to reconsider and fast. 🙂

Russia forces USA out from its traditional arms markets

Soon they might have not to reconsider because there is no need to reconsider. Maybe Saudis will buy also Russian nuclear plants and USA has to use real cash to pay for the Saudi oil. No more lucrative arms deals and no more bin Ladens and princes visiting the Texas Ranch because they favour to spend their time in Moscow’s dachas.

USA’s (and Israel’s) nightmare is a Russian-Arab-Persian “oil and gas monopoly”.

May 17th, 2008, 10:01 pm

 

Honest Patriot said:

AIG, here’s a question for you. What do you think are Israel’s conditions to withdraw from the Shebaa farms, release all Lebanese prisoners, and cease and commit to no longer engage in overflights violating Lebanese air space?

May 17th, 2008, 10:12 pm

 

AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

HP,
A peace agreement with Lebanon approved first by the Lebanese government, then the Lebanese parlaiment and by most Lebanese in a referundum. The peace agreement would say, that 5 years after signing, Hizballah has to disarm or become part of the Lebanese army. That would be enough time to see what Israel’s intentions are.

May 17th, 2008, 10:19 pm

 

Honest Patriot said:

AIG, you know that Lebanon will not be allowed to sign a separate peace agreement with Israel ahead of Syria. Foiling any such attempt is child’s play. Do you think Israel would be willing to send a message via indirect diplomatic channels saying that they would offer the three conditions above (Shebaa, prisoners, no overflights) if Lebanon agreed (without signing a treaty) to mutual non-agression and maintenance of the UN forces in the South along the border, return to the armistice agreement of 1949, and integration of HA into the Lebanese army within 5 years, conditional on Isarel honoring the conditions?

May 17th, 2008, 10:49 pm

 

AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

HP,

No, because without the Lebanese majority public agreement (not secret or private) to disarm Hizballah or integrate it and , it will not happen. It will not happen because the Lebanese government just can’t do it, it is too weak. If you have an idea how the government could guarnatee it without wide and overt public support, let me know.

I understand the Catch-22 aspect, but what you are proposing puts all the risk on Israel without giving it any concrete benefit.

May 17th, 2008, 11:09 pm

 

why-discuss said:

Shai

An article (en french) in Le Monde of 17 may 2008

“As Israel celebrates with pride the 60e birthday of its creation, a growing number of Palestinians, discouraged by the inertia of the peace process, are pleading now for the establishment of a single State on territories occupied by Israel, the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. A binational structure where Jews and Arabic would cohabit equally… ”

The author also adds that this argument is been used by the negotiating palestinian Ahmed Qorei to put pressure on Tippi Livni. Yet for Israelis, this is out of the question.
Is this idea going to move into the debates within the Israeli society or it is too early?

May 17th, 2008, 11:10 pm

 

Honest Patriot said:

AIG, I understand. The best Lebanon could do by way of evidentiary support is to have the terms of the armistice agreement, mutual non-agression, maintenance of the UN forces on the border, and integration of HA in the Lebanese army within 5 years (as long as Israel abides by its part) decided by the cabinet, signed by the president, and ratified by the parliament. A popular vote is very unlikely. So the steps would be:
– Diplomatic messages exchanged reaching agreement on the above points
– Lebanese cabinet passes the terms of the conditional agreement, the president signs, and the parliament ratifies
– Israel withdraws from Shebaa, returns the prisoners, and stops overflights
– Lebanese cabinet passes a confirmation of the agreement, the president signs, and the parliament ratifies
– 5 years hence, with no violation by anyone, HA integrates into the Lebanese army
Would that work?

May 17th, 2008, 11:21 pm

 

why-discuss said:

An interesting article in french from Thierry Meyssan accuses the CIA of murdering François el-Hajj (on 12 décember 2007) et Imad Mugniyeh (on 12 fébruary 2008 à Damas), in preparation for an attempt by an US commando to arrive from the Lebanese airport to murder Hassan Nasrallah and in the resulting chaos to have the NATO forces including the FINUL to intervene to protect the ‘civilians’. This would have discredited and weaken Hezbollas as Bush was arriving in the region.
According to the same article Washington was ready to sacrifice Siniora and Hariri and keep the CIA agents Jumblatt and Hamade.
The author also claims that the french-afghan Karim Pakzad was taking photos just near the bunker where was Hassan Nasrallah. He was appehended by Hezbollah suspecting him to be an agent supporting the operation to kill Nasrallah. He adds that an instrument to intercept telephone communications was found on Pakzad.
According to the author, the whole operation was canceled when Jumblatt discovered the surveillance cameras at the airport and the whole operation was changed to provoke Hezbollah in order to create havoc.

http://www.michelcollon.info/articles.php?dateaccess=2008-05-16%2013:40:24&log=invites

May 17th, 2008, 11:27 pm

 

AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

HP,
Gotta go to sleep, but how would the Hizballah disarmament/integration issue be guaranteed? And how would the armistice be guaranteed without government control of Hizballah?

May 17th, 2008, 11:28 pm

 

JustOneAmerican said:

Naji,

As an American military man myself I’m afraid I can’t give the theory you’ve laid out too much credit. To me it sounds eerily similar to the neocon fantasies about the threat posed by Iran and others against the US and its allies, including Israel. Certainly Israel could engage in two punitive expeditions against Hamas and Hezbollah, but I don’t think even the Israeli’s believe such attacks would be both debilitating and massive. I suspect Israel learned a lot from the 2006 war, worked diligently to learn from their mistakes, and likely would perform better against HA this time around, but absent some clear provocation necessitating a response, I don’t see any reason why Israel would want another war at this time. They are still recovering from 2006 and Winograd and they rightly realize that such action would do little more than end in bloody stalemate. Israel will, I think, be reluctant to engage in major military action until it has reasonable assurance it can decisively beat its opponent. Israel cannot afford another 2006.

An attack against Hamas is probably more likely because of the recent rocket attack, but again, I think the kind of massive incursion which you describe is quite unlikely for a number of reasons.

And finally Iran. I think it’s questionable whether the Saudi’s and GCC would support a US attack – I think it’s quite unlikely actually. And that’s really a big operational limitation for the US – without allied bases to stage aircraft and operate out of any US attack would not be very large. The US would require permission from the UK for use of Diego Garcia as well. Diego Garcia in particular is necessary for any large-scale air attack against Iran. Without such regional bases, any us attack would be more of a raid against a limited set of targets rather than a massive air campaign.

And then there are the US strategic vulnerabilities in Iraq, Afghanistan and the Gulf, not to mention Iranian naval capabilities, the likelihood of Iran carrying out threats to attack gulf petroleum infrastructure, etc., all of which serve to limit the likelihood of an attack. With oil prices already at record highs it seems doubtful Bush would destroy his party’s chance in this year’s election with such a failing and limited strategy.

May 17th, 2008, 11:37 pm

 

JustOneAmerican said:

According to the author, the whole operation was canceled when Jumblatt discovered the surveillance cameras at the airport and the whole operation was changed to provoke Hezbollah in order to create havoc.

The author is an idiot. Where to begin? First, there’s no way the US would send a strike team into bag Nasrallah. If the US had solid intelligence on his location and wanted to kill him, it would either bomb him or hand the intel to Israel to do the same. Secondly, there’s no way logistically NATO could do anything in Lebanon. Third, FINUL could not oppose HA even if it wanted to.

May 17th, 2008, 11:45 pm

 

Naji said:

JustOneAmerican,

I hope you are right, but, without going into the details of your analysis, that the theory “sounds eerily similar to the neocon fantasies” is what makes worrisome…, for that is who we are dealing with… unless saner minds prevail in DC…!

May 18th, 2008, 12:00 am

 

Averroes said:

Everyone,

Sorry for the delay in writing. I’ve been traveling.

Wizart,
Thank you. I do think there are ways to operate such a channel and even infiltrate the Saudi viewership.

May 18th, 2008, 1:00 am

 

Qifa Nabki said:

Ehsani

Just a quick note to say that I agree with most of what you said.

Let me also say that I am a very big supporter of these proposed peace talks. If they actually succeed, then I don’t care what you call them: a slam dunk, a hole in one, a home run, etc. They will be good for the Syrian people and they will be good for Lebanon. Very good… so let’s hope for the best.

I would just add that I don’t think Syria’s “long” strategy has been a mystery to anyone, during these long years. We’ve always known that it has tried to use its position in Lebanon to improve its regional standing. Now it appears that it may finally be coming to fruition. But this does not mean — to my mind — that a lot of pain and suffering could not have been avoided, had Syria chosen to act sooner, for example, in 2000. Hindsight is 20/20, of course.

On another blog, or in another universe, someone might make the argument that the U.S./March 14/KSA strategy of marginalizing Syria during the past few years was what finally pushed the regime to begin pursuing peace talks seriously. As we all know, one of the favorite strategies adopted by Damascus is the bait-and-switch, keeping all of its lures in the water but yanking them back every time there’s a nibble, hoping for a bigger fish, with the adverse result of its cooler remaining empty. (Can you spot the Syrian people in that overblown analogy?) Now Bashar is making serious overtures. Can we say for certain that the pressure placed on his regime by America, Europe, and the Arab world had nothing to do with his own “about-face”?

Cheers!

May 18th, 2008, 1:01 am

 

Averroes said:

Offended,

I think that we have actually more freedom that we give ourselves credit for, but I take your point of course. There are many streams of thinking in Syria and thus it is quite a challenge. I have spoken to communists, for instance, that would like to get bloody with the religious ones, and vice versa, of course. Add to that the many ethnicities and sects and religions, and you have a potential for some problems.

This is especially true because there are outside forces that are willing to pay hefty dollars to stir up problems, and a media engine that can blow any incident out of proportion. It’s really tricky, but there is a way to defeat every single one of the issues I tried to raise in the article.

May 18th, 2008, 1:07 am

 

Averroes said:

WHY-DISCUSS

YES!!!

I think you have captured the essence of what I’ve been trying to say. We need a home-grown TV, Web site, and publications that do not attempt to change the masses into Americans. Why should Saudis in Al-Jouf be informed on a daily basis of what’s happening with Britney Spears? There’s something wrong there.

Syria has a very rich culture that can be leveraged to offer an alternative to the Arab viewer. I envision having staff from every Arab nationality, including non Arab minorities like kurds, Armenians, Berber, and others. We can show the world that a model can be constructed where everyone lives and works with each other in a civilized way.

May 18th, 2008, 1:16 am

 

Averroes said:

QN,

I do think that Al-Manar is more respectful than Future TV at least. It is biased, yes, but I have never heard any sectarian bigotry on it, while I have a lot on Future TV.

The model I’m putting forward is immunization, QN. To educate and provide counter explanations to the people that the Saudis are trying to manipulate.

No, I really do NOT want to see a Syrian Alarabiya. The creativity space is not that limited. 😉

May 18th, 2008, 1:31 am

 

Honest Patriot said:

AIG, I’m sure we’re not the ones to resolve all this but I see clearly that the principles can be agreed upon. The difficulty will be in the verifiable implementation, as you point out. The glass is at least half-full. Good night.

May 18th, 2008, 2:18 am

 

EHSANI2 said:

Habibi QN,

Very well put. I have nothing to argue with or add to your fine comment above.

May 18th, 2008, 3:28 am

 

Shai said:

Why-Discuss,

Yeah, I think it’s much too early for public discourse in Israel (one-state solution). Our biggest problem here is fear and distrust. The sad reality is that most Israelis simply don’t trust the motives of the Arabs (including the Palestinians). Of course, it seems to be a classic case of self-fulfilling prophecy. You mistreat a people to the extent that they really do want to hurt you, and then you point at them saying “Aha, you see, they really did want to hurt me all along!… How can I trust people like that…” It’s so simple, and so sad. Yet most of us Israelis are not yet ready to look ourselves in the mirror. We cannot fathom the level of cruelty to which we’ve sunk over these past 40 years of Occupation. It’ll have to come slowly. First, we’ll have to acknowledge that creating our state is the main cause for the fact that millions have been living as refugees for so long. Next, that we’re responsible towards these people, today as much as we were back then. That acknowledgment would have to be translated into an agreement about the right-of-return (or an acceptable solution in the stead). Later, after we live next to one another in peace for 10-15 years, will come the self-introspection stage, where Israelis will at last be able to consider the crimes of the Occupation.

The Jewish people are, like the Arabs, a deeply emotional people (for good and for bad). I know that when the time comes, we’ll be able to face the truth, and to feel deep remorse, and to apologize. It will have to wait some time, but it will come. And when we finally muster the self-confidence, and understand that peace is the strongest guarantee for safety and survival in this region, we’ll be able to consider many possibilities, including perhaps the one-state solution. Personally, I believe it is inevitable that our region (from the Mediterranean to the Euphrates, will become a sort of United Middle East (UME), that’ll be a mix between the U.S. and the E.U. I’ve known Jews and Arabs almost my entire life. I know, that we are far more alike than the French and the Poles are. We are not Western (though we are a developed nation). We are Middle Eastern in almost every way. We must find a way to exist in this region, as we did two millennia ago, in peace with our neighbors.

My so-called fantasy UME will be a defacto one-state solution. In’shalla, it will happen in my lifetime and yours.

May 18th, 2008, 4:17 am

 

ausamaa said:

This is a SAMPLE from the ELAPH website, the spearhead Saudi tool in the electronic media warefare. DO YOU GUYS BELEIVE THAT SUCH ARTICLES ARE CAPABLE OF SWAYING AND OF WINNING OVER ARAB PUBLIC OPINION???

إيلاف >> سياسة

“تمساح الإنتصارات السعودية” الأمير بندر بن سلطان يستأنف عمله

GMT 5:00:00 2008 الأحد 18 مايو

سلطان القحطاني

——————————————————————————–

يعود بعد “شبه إجازة” بين المغرب و.. دول لم تُعرف حتى اللحظة
“تمساح الإنتصارات السعودية” الأمير بندر بن سلطان يستأنف عمله

الامير بندر امام قصر الايليزي عام 2006
سلطان القحطاني من لندن: “أين بندر .. أين بندر؟”.”?where is Bandar? .. where is Bandar” هكذا كرر الرئيس الأميركي جورج بوش سؤاله مرتين لمضيفيه السعوديين خلال زيارته إلى الرياض التي بدأت يوم الجمعة عن السفير الملكي الأسبق في واشنطن الأمير بندر بن سلطان، الذي عاد إلى مكتبه منذ الأربعاء الماضي، حسب مصادر “إيلاف”، وذلك بعد أسابيع من اختفاء يمكن أن يفسّر على أنه “شبه إجازة”.

وشوهد الأمير، الذي إشتهر بأنه الأكثر نفوذًا حينما كان سفيرًا لبلاده في واشنطن، خلال حفل الاستقبال الرسمي الذي أقيم للرئيس الأميركي جورج بوش خلال زيارته التي قام بها هذا الاسبوع إلى المملكة العربية السعودية، وذلك بعد أن كثرت اختفاءاته عن زيارات المسؤولين الأميركيين الأخيرة إلى الرياض مما أثار الأسئلة حول الأسباب.

وتساءل محللون أصحاب خبرة في شأن العلاقات الثنائية بين البلدين حول ما إذا كان ربيع العلاقات بين الأمير بندر والإدارة الأميركية قد ولى إلى غير رجعة، أم أن تلك الاختفاءات كانت بسبب انشغاله في إدارة ملفات أخرى من التي تعج بها المنطقة الشرق أوسطية وعلى الخصوص جهود بلاده في احتواء النفوذ الإيراني.

وهذه الاختفاءات المتكررة لا تزال جزءًا من كينونة عمل بندر نتيجة لكثرة مهامه السريّة المتلاحقة، وكونه موفدًا ملكيًا في الكثير من الأحيان إلى كل من طهران، وموسكو، ولندن، وبكين، وباريس، وقليلاً .. قليلاً إلى واشنطن التي صنعت كثيرًا من شهرته الأسطورية.

وحين عاد إلى الرياض بعد توليه منصبه الجديد في بلاده فإنه لم يشأ أن يكون “مدمن المكتب” الخاص به في مبنى مجلس الأمن الوطني المجهول الذي لا تعلو قمته أي لوحة إرشادية، على غرار جهازي “المباحث” و”الاستخبارات”، والمنتصب في أحد البنايات الضخمة على شارع الملك فهد الحيوي، عصب مدينة الستة مليون آدمي.

إلا أن صحافيًا يعتبر من الأسماك الضخمة في شارع الصحافة الأميركي، وهو ديفيد آتووي، الذي حاور الأمير بندر عدة مرات في “واشنطن بوست” كان لديه تحليلاً أكثر دقة لتردي العلاقة بين بندر والبيت الأبيض قائلاً في حديث سابق مع “إيلاف” إن ضعف هذه العلاقة مؤخرًا سببه “عدم قدرة الأمير على دفع حكومته لصالح كبح جماح أسعار النفط”.

وحاول بوش خلال هذه الزيارة الثانية من نوعها خلال سنة أن يدفع الحكومة السعودية لزيادة إنتاجها النفطي في محاولة أخيرة منه للحد من ارتفاع أسعار النفط التي بلغت حدًا قياسيًا. لكن طلبه قوبل بالرفض بطريقة هادئة. فقد أعلنت الرياض أنها ستؤمن ما يضمن الاستقرار لأسعار النفط. بيد أنها “مفردة فضفاضة لا تلزم بشيء” حسب مصادر “إيلاف”.

ومنذ العام 2004 بدأت ظواهر التغير الأكبر في العلاقة بين الحليفين بسبب عدم تمكن الرياض من ضبط الأسعار النفطية في العالم في ظل وجود عدد من الاعتبارات السياسية وظهور القوى الصناعية الناشئة التي بدأ نهمها يشتد للطاقة مثل الصين والهند واليابان، وهو ما أثر على دور بندر الذي كان ضابط الإمدادات النفطية ذات السعر المعتدل.

ومنذ أوائل الشهر الحالي قضى الأمير بندر عدة أسابيع في المغرب حيث بيته ومكتبته التي تحمل أسمه في أصيلة. وطار بعدها لعدة أيام إلى جنيف حيث كان والده ولي العهد الأمير سلطان بن عبد العزيز يجري فحوصات طبية.

وعلى الرغم من الغياب عن الساحة، فإنه حتمًا سيجد الملفات ذاتها على طاولته التي أوجز له مساعداه الأثيران، أخاه الأمير سلمان، ورحاب مسعود، تفاصيلها وتطوراتها. وهي في الإيجاز الصغير الذي عادة ما يكتب على شكل ورقة صغيرة فوق كل ملف مهما كبر حجمه كالآتي: إيران، لبنان، العراق، الإرهاب.

واللافت أن خلال فترة الغياب تلك أن هذا الرجل الذي إعتاد العمل خلف الكواليس، لا يزال ينتهج سياسة “المكتب الطائر” التي تعني العمل في أي مكان حتى في السماء حيث الطائرة النفاثة التي يملكها وتبلغ قيمتها ملايين الدولارات. وهي ربما طريقة صوفية تلغي أهمية المكان لصالح الفعل.

إلا أن ظله قد شوهد في العديد من الأماكن وخلف الكثير من الأحداث .. حتى تلك التي ربما لم يكن له دورٌ فيها. ومع الوقت ربما يتحول إلى أسطورة في مملكة تشتهر بالنفط والإسلام والطقس الحارق.

10 :عدد الردود تعليقات القراء
الآراء الواردة في التعليقات تعبر عن آراء أصحابها وليس عن رأي إيلاف.

GMT 5:20:03 2008 الأحد 18 مايو
1. العنوان: هذا الرجل

الأسم: إبن الوطن

لابد من أن يطلق على الأمير بندر —–العرب

GMT 5:59:06 2008 الأحد 18 مايو
2. العنوان: ضباب في ضباب

الأسم: ابو رشاد

تريدون ان تكللوا رجل ضبابي بهالة اسطوريه اكبر من حجمه الحقيقي فلا مكتبه النفاث ولا الصور التي التقطهافي مزرعة بوش تنسينا اخفاقاته على اكثر من صعيد باستطاعة المال ان يشتري الصوت والضمير ولكن لايمكنه ان يشتري العقل والمنطق

GMT 6:13:58 2008 الأحد 18 مايو
3. العنوان: تمساح الخسائر

الأسم: عدنان احسان- امريكا

الا يكفيه ملفه الخاسر في لبنان … عن اي انتصارات تتحدثون , وماذا بقي لبوش ملفات سوى ملف الرحيل من البيت الآبيض . وماهي نفوذ الآمير بندر في ظل سلطه الملك عبد الله ؟؟؟؟؟؟؟؟؟؟؟؟

GMT 6:15:19 2008 الأحد 18 مايو
4. العنوان: تمساح الانتصارات؟

الأسم: طارق الخطاب.مصر

هذا التعبير الغامض تمساح الانتصارات ممكن اعرف بوضح اي انتصارات انا لا اعرف اي انتصارات في العالم العربي منذ الناصر محمد بن قلاوون تاريخيا ممكن من فضلكم تقولي متي واين هذه الانتصارات ؟ ويكون لكم جزيل الشكر

GMT 6:17:22 2008 الأحد 18 مايو
5. العنوان: بالمناسبة ؟

الأسم: طارق المجيد

بالمناسبة ماذا تم في صفقة اليمامة ؟

GMT 6:21:56 2008 الأحد 18 مايو
6. العنوان: شو هالحكي

الأسم: ؟؟؟؟؟؟؟؟؟

تمساح الانتصارات السعودية؟؟؟؟؟؟؟؟؟؟؟ عن اية انتصارات تتحدثون……والله غريبة

GMT 6:33:44 2008 الأحد 18 مايو
7. العنوان: بصراحه

الأسم: ابو خالد

الحق انه فعل لصالح الحكومه السعوديه مالم يفعله اي سفير لبلده……..فعلى اي اساس كان ذلك…لابد انه من ذكائه والا كثيره هي الدول النفطيه والمؤثره في الساحه,واموالها مالها حد, ولا شفنا تأثير لسفيرها بحجم تأثير بندر

GMT 6:52:23 2008 الأحد 18 مايو
8. العنوان: سبحان الله

الأسم: جاسم

هذه طبيعة الصحافة العربية دائما يعظمون الذات &;القوي- الحكيم الشجاع_الداهية-العبقري- القائد الجبار واليوم التمساح…كلها كلمات رنانة وعبارات وبعد فترة راح يقولو لنا ان الامير بند هو من كان يدير العالم …..

GMT 6:56:57 2008 الأحد 18 مايو
9. العنوان: الي ما يعرف الصقر…

الأسم: بدر العتيبي

بعد خدمة الوطن لعقود من الزمان هذا ما يستحقه منكم خادم الوطن العربي بشهادة رؤساء دول عربية.

GMT 7:01:34 2008 الأحد 18 مايو
10. العنوان: من ايقض الف

الأسم: زياد معاصري

فعلا تمساح الانتصارات السعودية (انت لها يابندر)1- احتلال افغانستان.2- الحرب العراقية الايرانية.3-الحرب العراقية الكويتية.4- احتلال العراق.5-العمل بجد على تغذية الفتنة السنية الشيعية.6-غزة وما أدراك ما غزة.7-العمل بجد على تحويل العداء وبوصلة العدو من اسرائيل الى ايران.8- واخيرا وليس بأخير الفتنة في لبنان.

May 18th, 2008, 7:24 am

 

SimoHurtta said:

I believe it is inevitable that our region (from the Mediterranean to the Euphrates, will become a sort of United Middle East (UME), that’ll be a mix between the U.S. and the E.U.

Do you really Shai in earnest believe that it will happen with Israel’s military domination and nukes or with the unsolved Palestine problem? Without doubt the Arab nations will form eventually an UME if USA/Israel doesn’t mix to much the packet. That would make economical and military sense to all nations (besides Israel). United those Arab countries could create besides a booming economy with wast financial and raw material resources also a credible military defence.

Separately and fragmented Arabs can not achieve anything. And that is just what USA and Israel are aiming by fuelling the Sunni-Shia division and all the other numerous tribal and religious tensions. USA and Israel fear Pan Arabism more than they “fear” Islam. Radical lunatic Muslim priests are you best friends and allies, nationalistic, educated and far-sighted Arab and Persian technocrats are your “enemies”. The basic motivation is simple. USA is used to drill oil (and mine) cheaply in chaotic regions and controlling dictators, put in place and hold in power by them. Israel on the other hand needs weak neighbours.

Well USA is doing the same divide and rule strategy with EU. With a low profile naturally. USA favours to make agreements with individual EU countries, not with EU, its biggest and strongest rival. It encourages and rewards EU member countries which oppose EU policies with Russia etc. USA hates the idea of EU defence forces replacing US controlled colonial “deputy” army (NATO). ETC.

But why on earth would Arab countries want to take Israel in the club if Israel doesn’t change and fast. It is impossible to see any logic in that. You do not tame the tiger by letting it among the cattle. Israel will stay as the North Korea of Middle East. More and more isolated. Co-operation with Israel is not essential for Arab nations. Especially when the ties between USA and Israel became weaker.

May 18th, 2008, 7:49 am

 

Shai said:

Simo,

I agree that a so-called UME with Israel inside it cannot exist until Israel changes dramatically. That is why I don’t think it could happen for at least 10-15 years, or even the beginning of discussions about such a fantasy until then. Yes, if the Arabs united, even as much as they were during Nasser’s years, Israel would have a much bigger problem. But in a way, I wish it had happened already. It would also be much easier for public opinion to sway in favor of peace, under such a circumstance. Indeed, only while our enemies were formidable and threatening, did Israelis fear the alternative. Today, although Israelis irrationally fear the Arabs (on the emotional level), they know that because they are not united, they do not pose an existential threat like in the 1960’s and 70’s. Now, since Iran’s President’s belligerent stance towards Israel, Israelis are conveniently (and honestly) merging the two “threats” into one – choosing to now distrust Islam, and not just the Arabs. Of course this is self-defeating, and I think slowly more and more Israelis are starting to notice it. Our real battle, is not against our neighbors, but against ourselves. We must change public opinion in Israel, because fortunately or unfortunately, it is still what counts in placing the right (and wrong) leadership in power.

As for pan-Arabism in the near future, I just don’t see this a realistic possibility. If anything of the recent weeks shows, I believe the region is about to be split in two, with very clearly defined lines: Those for, and those against, Iran. It won’t even be about the Palestinians, Israel, the Golan, Shebaa Farms, etc. It’ll be purely about Iran. Of course this fits very comfortably into the hands of the Bush-Cheney gang, and into many who will profit from such Axis definition (Axis of Good vs. Axis of Evil). But I fear this is the direction our region is quickly approaching. It is of course the recipe for a nice, little, catastrophe. Many here believe I’m being overly paranoid, and I hope they’re right. But from here, almost smelling the gun-fire, and certainly smelling the public opinion preparations, I cannot say with honesty that I’m optimistic about the near-future. This is not a sign of good things to come: http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-3544605,00.html In my mind, we’re heading straight for another Lebanon 2006.

May 18th, 2008, 8:30 am

 

Shai said:

Simo,

As for ties between the U.S. and Israel getting weaker, I don’t see that happening anytime soon. The opposite, the more unstable our region becomes, the closer the U.S. and Israel get. This may not make much business-sense, because clearly the U.S. could sell more products to 250 million citizens than to 7 million, but since the late 60’s, the U.S. seems to prefer sticking close to its only “democratic ally” in the Middle East. Plus, purely by chance, that same ally might be the only one with certain “capabilities”, which the U.S. certainly doesn’t want to be seen as being against. But, as history shows, even when one super-power stops supporting Israel (like France did after 1967), the vacuum created is immediately filled by another interest-driven power. Even if in theory some U.S. president would “boldly” start severing his nation’s ties with Israel, this would quickly be taken advantage of by other world powers that are innately anti-America (Russia, China, Europe?, heck, maybe even Scandinavia… 🙂

Did you see the link I posted earlier about GreenFuel? http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/984030.html
If I was an OPEC nation, I’d start putting some money aside for R&D into completely different line of products, as the dependency on pure oil (from the ground) may change completely in the not too distant future. This latest achievement may well be the biggest challenge to oil producers yet. It’ll take a decade or two to feel it, but I wouldn’t bet on continued dependency at today’s levels on the Middle East for oil in 2025 (Abraham’s favorite date…)

May 18th, 2008, 9:03 am

 

SimoHurtta said:

Shai

The power of money (= oil + other resources not a greenback printing factories) brings political power. The world is now changing dramatically with an increasing speed. And USA is not the winner. The next president, no matter of his party, must start saving what can be saved. He must increase domestic production and trade, he must stop the intolerable indebtedness, he must make dollar stronger etc. That can no be achieved by licking Israel’s “ass”. They need to sell nuclear technology and weapons in masses to Arab countries. Iraq showed that USA is not strong enough to control oil fields with occupation.

I can’t see your theory of another big power would came to replace USA as Israel’s best buddy believable. Who in earth would want to make such stupid political move now? China, India, EU and USA need trade with Arab countries and Iran to pay for the oil. There is nobody to replace especially if Israel uses more violence to keep the occupied areas.

Shai in world politics sudden major changes happen rarely. Signs of changes in “moderate” Arab nations attitudes are clearly to be seen. The continues blackmail by USA with military assets and the rapid decline of dollars value has made even the most “loyal” Arab partner to rethink. They have increased their “relations” with Russia and China slowly and mostly in “silence”.

Shai you seem to overestimate greatly Israel’s importance. What is is in the end important in Israel? All the “importance” is in the end the symbolic historical and religious value of the place. All your “technology” can transported out of Israel in days. Already most of that is already in USA. Israel is in the end as important as Denmark for Europe. Actually Denmark is much more important, because it controls the entrance to the Baltic sea. Shai you should see the constant flow of tankers going to Primorsk (former Koivisto before WW2 part of Finland). That former part of Finland near St. Petersburg is developing like Syria in future as a major oil / petrochemical hub.

Green fuel is like cold fusion. A dream. I am an engineer by education specialized in industrial economics. You can “count” how long it would take to create all the infrastructure to replace the OPEC oil. And after the decades which that process takes the OPEC countries have the financial wealth to buy all those “new energy” plants.

May 18th, 2008, 2:20 pm

 

Shai said:

Simo,

I’m a student of mathematics and of history, but not of engineering, so I can’t “count” years as well as you can in green fuel projects. The link I mentioned seems to be somewhat unlike other projects I’ve read about, in that it is already capable of producing commercial quantities. Of course, it does seem logical that instead of ignoring green fuel alternatives, the OPEC nations would simply invest in it directly, and thus secure their control of the world’s energy sources also well into the future. But, I’m not sure they’ll be able to do that so easily, especially if certain nations with this technology will refuse to give up control in return for a few billion dollars. I think you greatly overestimate the power of money in the Middle East. Though certainly Saudi and the Gulf States are able to purchase much due to their oil resources and income, they are still near 100% dependent on other nations. Aside from oil, they can barely grow an apple on their own. In fact, it is them, not the U.S., that need to focus on creating domestic production in the future, so as not to be so dependent on everyone else.

As you said correctly, major changes don’t occur “suddenly”. And that’s precisely why the U.S. is not about to sever its ties with Israel, or change dramatically its “ass-licking” (as you called it). While I agree that technology isn’t everything, Israel is far from suddenly having its technology exported abroad. Most of the “rehab” high-tech Israelis that work abroad do so in Israeli-owned companies, or in other major high-tech firms, but will be coming back to Israel. They do not receive U.S. citizenship, and are there on temporary employment visas. It’s enough to see who were the 3,500 guests that arrived in Jerusalem last week for the President’s (Peres) Conference, to understand how powerful and significant Israel still is as a technology world-power. Much of the technology that is used in Arab countries today has either originated in Israeli R&D, or comes from companies owned at least partly by Israelis. The Arab world, unfortunately, is decades behind when it comes to technology, and its only way of catching up is through education, not greater purchasing, or even uniting forces. There is a reason why Finland is where it is today technology-wise, and it has far less to do with your nation’s GDP, than with its high level education.

Israel’s significance in the region is far greater than Denmark’s in Europe, not only because of the Occupation and the wars we’ve fought, but because for most of the Western world, we still represent the only “democratic” nation in the region. Let’s not get into an argument over how democratic or not Israel is, fact remains that most nations think it very much is a democracy (even if they’re wrong). Until AIG’s “dream” of democratic nations all around us, Israel will still be “courted” by most developed nations in the world. Why do you think all these nations allowed Israel to continue to behave as it has been for so many years? Why hasn’t the world united to place such economic embargoes upon Israel that would force a change? AIPAC is not enough of an answer. It’s because these nations could not see themselves alienating the only democracy in the Middle East. For Israel, that was a fortunate and very unfortunate thing. On the one hand, we felt supported. On the other, we were able to continue to commit crimes, and the suffering of another people.

I don’t think another world power is about to replace the U.S. in its support of Israel. But I also don’t see the U.S. changing its policy towards Israel anytime soon. AIG’s dream will come true well before the U.S. starts courting Syria and Iran, at the expense of Israel. As for Europe, remember, there is no AIPAC there. And, most European nations are not exactly U.S.-puppets either. Yet, very clearly, while many citizens call Israel the greatest threat to world peace, their representatives in European governments are overwhelmingly supportive of Israel. They are very anti-Israel when it comes to the Palestinian issues (and rightly so), but would still support Israel when it comes to a conflict with Iran, Hezbollah, or Hamas.

May 18th, 2008, 2:47 pm

 

SimoHurtta said:

Hmmm Shai mathematical historian, both your “fields” give qualifications for making calculations and to inspect how long it takes to replace an technology with a new one. How long it would take and how much it would cost to replace Israel’s electricity production with solar power? “We” have the know-how, why is it not done? The answer is simple, oil and gas are still cheaper. Even if the energy options would be equal in costs it would take decades to make the transform. There is relative little solar panel production capacity now in the world. If you would have enough solar panels, you need plants to transform the daytime energy to for example hydrogen to be then transformed back to electricity during nights. Making such moves take time, much more than speaking about them. You should read some history books about technologies development.

Shai stop dreaming. USA and Canada have much oil sand for a long, long time, ask yourself why is USA still wasting money in Iraq. The time needed to build these oil separation plants is counted in years if not decades and the costs are astronomical. A small pilot plant is completely different than building the capacity to replace all imported oil.

Shai Europe has not put Israel under sanction mainly because the “Arab fragmentation” and because trade blockades do not traditionally belong to European foreign policies. If Arabs would be united and say no oil and gas before there is peace in Palestine. How long do think that it would take to EU give an ultimatum to Israel?

Growing apples in Saudi Arabia???? Hmmm from were do you buy the dates? Or from were do you buy the blueberries? Isn’t Israel 100 percent dependent from other countries with most raw materials and most industrial goods? You do not even have own diamond mines (buy the way we have one diamond mine in Finland). Funny isn’t it Shai?

They are very anti-Israel when it comes to the Palestinian issues (and rightly so), but would still support Israel when it comes to a conflict with Iran, Hezbollah, or Hamas.

Come-on Shai. Are you serious? What support, EU countries are making deals worth billions with Iran NOW. So are Chinese and Indians. Basically everyone else than USA. You read obviously different news than I. The few European politicians who say something positive about Israel (most of European leaders are quite), which is mostly polite political rhetoric, do not reflect the Europeans streets’ opinions. If we have to choose between our lifestyle and Israel – the answer is clear. I suppose I have not say that “opinion”. For most of us Europeans Israel as a country means as much as let’s say Argentina or Namibia. Very little.

May 18th, 2008, 8:08 pm

 

Shai said:

Simo,

Funny you should mention Solar power plants. Israel is about to build 10 of these in the Negev over the next 12 years (not decades). And also funny you mention diamonds, as Israel happens to be a world leader in that industry as well. But you’re right, despite the fact that we produce our own dates, we still are not 100% self-sufficient, and do import these as well. I know of no nation on earth that comes close to being mostly self-sufficient, including the U.S., Canada, Russia, China, and even Israel. Of course we too are dependent on others. But certainly you cannot compare Israel and Saudi Arabia, or Iran. Plus, remember, money doesn’t buy you everything. Freedom, for instance, is something neither Saudi nor Iran was able to purchase for their citizens yet. I know that’s a small and insignificant commodity, and one which doesn’t always concern those fantastic European nations that trade so freely with Iran or Saudi Arabia. But if I had to choose between a business partnership or an ideological one, I think I’d rather go for the latter. By the way, though I’m sure Argentina and Namibia and wonderful countries, I seriously doubt they get as many European tourists each year, as our less-significant-than-Denmark nation of Israel does… Sometimes that’s also an indication of something, isn’t it? I don’t know how many Europeans love Saudi Arabia or Iran, but maybe I just haven’t run across them yet. But as you said about your own Nokia doing business with Israel because “business is business”, I have a certain suspicion that the same could be said about the billions of Euro being spent in Iran or KSA, no? And by the way, I think you grossly underestimate the self-pride your own Europeans have. No united Arab world would ever put up an ultimatum to Europe and the EU with “no peace, no oil”, because the next morning, it would find its European partners on the planes back home, and a few billion Euros worth of irrevocable LC’s no longer honored by any European bank. Getting visas to go shopping in Europe would also become a little tougher for these nations. So let’s get real, and wake up from the “All the Arab world needs to do is unite, and everything will be just fine” dream. Which, by the way, would actually be in Israel’s best interest, contrary to what many think. But the likelihood of that happening, is about as much as me going back to do an MSc in Engineering… 🙂

May 18th, 2008, 8:43 pm

 

SimoHurtta said:

Funny you should mention Solar power plants. Israel is about to build 10 of these in the Negev over the next 12 years (not decades).

12 years Shai is 1.2 decades. As an mathematician you should know that, for an historian it is of course to “complex”. What amount of Israeli electricity production these sites will after 12 years represent? A tiny fraction most probably. May our historian now understands now better. Or not – most provably.

But certainly you cannot compare Israel and Saudi Arabia, or “Iran. Plus, remember, money doesn’t buy you everything. Freedom, for instance, is something neither Saudi nor Iran was able to purchase for their citizens yet.

Amusing Shai. Why can’t I compare Israel with Saudi Arabia and Iran. You are the closest cousins on the earth. All religious entities. In industrial and economical terms of course I can compare also these countries. Do you build cars in Israel? Well they do in Iran. In Saudi Arabia are produced many things you do not. In 1960 most Saudis were nomads, today not. The oil industry comprises about 45% of Saudi Arabia’s gross domestic product, the 55% percent doesn’t come from raising camels and growing dates.

Is there really freedom in Israel? Not based on what I read daily in news. Israel has enormous problems with freedom and human rights. Israel is no example to anybody, it is a disgrace for western democracies and for what they say to represent. Frankly said.

Most European tourist came to Israel not to see you “wonderful” Jews, they came to see the holy historical places. You do not show them the destroyed Palestinian villages, the roadblocks with rows of suffering Palestinians, the walls or Gaza. Tourists would be flocking to Israel if the would be a tiny Jewish minority. It is not the question of “race” or admiration of Israel.

Shai your economical theories are simply amusing. Arabs already once said no oil. What happened – Israel was kicked out of Sinai by Americans. Your funny history books tell a different tale, without doubt. Now the demand is much bigger as then in the end of 1973. Europe has no option with it energy needs. We must tolerate Russia and Arabs and sell them as much as we possible can. Haven’t you read the news how France is selling nuclear plants for that lovely guy in Libya. Or how Austrian and Swiss are making billion deals with Iran. So much of our “pride”.

Get real Shai. Face the realities and stop making fantasies how Israel is the belly button of the world. Maybe you should consider going back to do MSc in Engineering. Engineers are realists not “story tellers”. 🙂

May 18th, 2008, 11:34 pm

 

ugarit said:

Norman said:”They must have rules so they do not incite violence.”

One of the major rules is to accept incitement of violence against the currently selected enemies of the US. Notice how every few months the US uses old enemies and/or newly created ones to keep the US population afraid and hence easier to control.

May 19th, 2008, 12:07 am

 

norman said:

Ugarit ,

I meant between Americans , You know i meant that.

May 19th, 2008, 1:14 am

 

Shai said:

Simo,

I know you see vast similarities between Israel, Iran, and Saudi Arabia. I hope you’re not using your “engineering skills” when you do this comparison. If so, demand to get your money back for studying the wrong topics in school. Thank you for “teaching me” how to divide (1.2 decades…) My point was to show you how future energy sources can be put up in less than “many decades” as you suggested. If an oil embargo could cause Israel today to get out of the territories, Arabs would have used it again fifty times since the early 70’s. Why haven’t they? They aren’t united? Why aren’t they united? The fact that Europeans are doing business with Iran and KSA is a good thing. But let’s not pretend those same Europeans aren’t being hypocrites when suggesting as you do that Israel has “problems with freedom”. Take a poll sometime, even of Finnish friends of yours, about freedom in the Middle East. Ask them who has more freedom – Israel, Iran, or Saudi Arabia. If like you, they say “Oh, it’s about the same…”, I will seriously reconsider my thoughts about Finns. Somehow, I doubt you’ll find Finns thinking that. They are a little bit smarter than that. By the way, Israel was building cars (three different types, in fact) when Iran was still under the Shah’s rule. It stopped producing them, because with a population of around 3 million back then, it really wasn’t an economic thing to do. It’s much easier to do that with 70 million. But the capabilities have been there long ago. I know you think very highly of Israeli capabilities, but aside from Occupation and robbing Palestinians’ land and olive trees, we actually have achieved a thing or two. Of course, nothing like Finland, but we can’t all be Righteous Nordic people, can we? 😉

You said: “Engineers are realists not “story tellers”.” Well here’s a story for you:

An Engineer and an Economist go into a room. Inside, 10 meters away, is a beautiful woman. The Economist asks the Engineer: “If each minute, we walked half-way to this woman, after how many minutes would we get to her?” The Engineer responded quickly: “We would never get to her, because we can always walk yet another half of the distance left…” The Economist responded: “Well, while it is true that you would never get all the way to her, after a few moments, I would be close enough!”

So you see Simo, as a Mathematician, I have the benefit of understanding not only infinite series, but also the difference between you “realist” Engineers, and us “story telling” Historians. And, between us, what do your kids prefer at bedtime – an explanation of Fourier Transform, or a nice story? 🙂

May 19th, 2008, 4:44 am

 

SimoHurtta said:

And, between us, what do your kids prefer at bedtime – an explanation of Fourier Transform, or a nice story?

Fourier Transform naturally. As you Shai certainly know Finnish children are on the top in education result rankings. Israel is not doing very good, why? To much Israeli “history” and religious teaching assisted with military training?

Thank you for “teaching me” how to divide (1.2 decades…) My point was to show you how future energy sources can be put up in less than “many decades” as you suggested.

Well your thanks are received. You learn every day new things. Shai you did not however answer the essential question: How big portion of Israel’s electricity production is done by solar power in 1.2 decades. I suppose a couple of percent. The rest is still produced using oil, gas etc. So Shai as mathematician you can “imagine” how long it takes to achieve a production level of lets say 70 percent with new energy technologies. Without doubt you must admit it takes decades. You IGs seem many time to argue for arguments sake, even you “hallucinative” views have been proven wrong.

Take a poll sometime, even of Finnish friends of yours, about freedom in the Middle East. Ask them who has more freedom – Israel, Iran, or Saudi Arabia. If like you, they say “Oh, it’s about the same…”, I will seriously reconsider my thoughts about Finns.

South Africa had democracy for the whites. So do you Israelis claim that Apartheid South Africa had more freedom as Saudi Arabia and Iran. Well, well poor Shai. Most of Finns know the mistreatment of Israeli Arab citizens and of course the situation of Israel’s millions slaves. As you Shai know if Israel claims to be a democracy it should be compared with democracies to achieve reliable “scientific” results. Iran and SA do not claim to be democracies. Why do you not compare Israel with Burma, your country’s friend, weapon customer and gemstone provider. Sure Israel is better and more free than Burma. So are Iran and SA. 🙂

May 20th, 2008, 8:11 am

 

Shai said:

Simo,

You make it very difficult to have a rational discussion with you. I’m not even sure you’re interested in it. Imagine in every engagement with you, all I did was endlessly bash Finland to high heaven. And that’s all I seemed to be seeking – a systematic and continuous embarrassment of Finland, in every way I could find (education, economy, industry, religion, people, history, and so on…) I’m sorry, but doing a back-and-forth dance around this doesn’t interest me. If you can think of other ways of discussing things, I’d be more than glad to continue. Otherwise, I think we should stop.

May 20th, 2008, 10:59 am

 

kingcrane jr said:

Averroes,
Let the KSA kleptooligarchic clique evict all Syrians out of the KSA.
The first victim will be the KSA and those who take this decision.
As to media battles, the authorities in Syria need somebody really bright at the top.
This means that they will have to hire a person that may have views in conflict with the many facets of the official line. Not a very likely scenario.

May 23rd, 2008, 4:53 pm

 

Post a comment