Syria’s Integration: What Changes Will it Bring?

Turkish-Syrian relations are going through dramatic changes, as the four articles copied below suggest. All are from Turkish papers. (Shami kindly pointed us to them. )

Let us review some of the more important changes that free trade and the circulation of people and ideas between Syria and Turkey may bring.

  1. psychologically: The estrangement between Turk and Arab will break down. For too long suspicion and distrust has divided the two. Turks have tended to look down on Arabs as backward and un-Westernized. Arabs have looked on Turks as oppressors who colonized them, undermined Islam, shoved Arabs onto the margins of world history, degrading their culture and national purity, not to mention Islam. Also, Arabs have viewed Turkey’s fixation with joining Europe and willingness to ally with Israel as a betrayal. The fact that Turks seemed so willing to turn their backs on Arabs reenforced the ethnic distrust founded in Arab nationalism and hardened by Baathism.
  2. Many Syrians have Turkish relatives, traditions, and a powerful Ottoman heritage. Rather than hide this background for fear of being accused of being less than 100% Arab, they will now be able to take pride in their cosmopolitan and multi-ethnic background and perhaps even exploit it to make money and gain social cachet.
  3. Sectarian impact: Sunni opponents of the Assad government accuse it of  “Shiitizating” Syria because the government has allied Syria with Iran and Hizbullah. Both are allowed certain liberties to preach and build mosques in Syria. For their part, Syria’s non-Sunnis have long complained of the flow of Saudi and Gulf money into Syria, which they insist has Wahhabized the country. They speak in horror of how Saudi influence since the post 1973 explosion of wealth has flattened the texture of Islam in Syria, undermining Sufi orders, imposing a uniform and traditional dress code on Syrians, in particular on women, as well as undermining Syria’s religious tolerance and openness. Now, presumably, Turkish religious groups will have a countervailing impact. This should help variegate the texture of Sunni Islam once again and tip the balance away from Wahhabism. Sufi orders have always had a powerful presence among Turks. Along side the older orders, such as the Bekdashis, Mevlevis, and Shazilis, new movements, such as the Gulen movement, have become a driving force in Turkish Islam.  They will put down roots in Syria in short order.
  4. Turkish minorities are also coming out of their shell and will surely influence their brethren across the border. Turkish Alawites, Alevis, Kurds, and even the remains of Christian sects will reconnect with communities across the border. President Assad mentioned that Turkey’s policy toward the Kurdish Communist Party would impact Syria. But more generally, Turkey is a bellwether for regional relations with Kurds. If Erdoghan can find an accomodation between Turks and Kurds, it will have a major impact on the way Syria treats its Kurds.
  5. Baathism and regime stability: Improved relations with Turkey will help strengthen the Assad government in the short run. This will distress some opposition members as it will annoy neocon and some pro-Israeli analysts, who insist that only way to end one party rule and the sway of Arabism and the Assads in Syria is to uproot the present government violently. For chronic Syria bashers, Damascus’ integration into the region is distressing. For those who seek change without violence and force, it is promising. Evolutionary change can only be hastened by Syria’s improved relations with its neighbors. It gives the lie to those who argue that Syria exports violence and can deal with its neighbors only through force.  This is why analysts such as Shenker, Young, Tabler, Abrams, Milhem, Bolton, have engaged in a feeding frenzy on Maliki’s accusations but ignore the more important news coming from Turkey. Those who want more sanctions can only be dismayed.
  6. In the long run, better regional integration that comes from recognized borders and ending irridentism will moderate the  xenaphobic edge of Arabism and strengthen the inclusiveness of Syrianism. Economic growth will bring rising expectations and dampen fatalism. It should bring more travel and education which can only undo some of the sectarian estrangement and ignorance that plagues Syrian society.  It will bring Syria out of its fortress mentality.
  7. Economy: The impact can only be possitive. Sure some industries will face harsher competition, but growth will be the rule.
  8. Israel: Regional integration will create political unity. This will attenuate divisions between Arabs and between Middle Easterners in general. It will allow Syria to press more effectively for the application of international law on the Golan. It weaken support for Damascus’ detractors who claim it is a rogue nation, underserving of regional, not to mention, world support.

This change will be slow, as Soli Öze explains below.

Deal with Syria brings European Union spirit to Middle East
by AYŞE KARABAT, 18.09.2009, Zaman

[News Analysis]Deal with Syria brings European Union spirit to Middle East
Turkey and Syria’s decision to remove visa requirements for the nationals of the two countries and establish a high-level strategic council is bringing the spirit of the European Union, based on integrated economic relations and political cooperation, to the Middle East, pundits say.

Experts add that cooperation between Ankara and Damascus will gradually spread throughout the Middle East and that extra-regional powers that really want peace and stability in the region should support this process.

Turkey and Syria announced on Wednesday evening that they would create a high-level strategic council, modeled on a similar mechanism launched earlier by Turkey and Iraq, and would remove visa requirements between the two countries, during a one-day visit by Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to İstanbul.

“You will travel to Syria as you have been traveling from İstanbul to Ankara. Likewise, travel to Turkey for Syrian citizens will be like traveling between Aleppo and Damascus,” Syrian Foreign Minister Walid al-Moallem said after signing an agreement with his Turkish counterpart, Ahmet Davutoğlu.

Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, who spoke with Assad at a meeting and a fast-breaking dinner on Wednesday, said during the dinner that the Middle East should no longer be a region whose name is associated with problems. Assad added that with these agreements, it has been proven that the people of the Middle East have the ability to determine their own future.

Sedat Laçiner from the Ankara-based International Strategic Research Organization (ISRO/USAK) told Today’s Zaman that these decisions are the core of a future integration, if not a union.

“Freedom of movement, very high economic relations and trade volume, joint cabinet meetings, integrated energy corridors, close cooperation on water issues — all these are functional principles of the EU,” he said.

According to Laçiner, when the other countries in the Middle East realize that the cooperation between Ankara and Damascus is working, they will joint it.

“Turkish-Syrian cooperation will be an enlargement corridor toward Egypt, Jordan and also toward North Africa and Gulf countries,” Laçiner said.

He noted that the personal efforts of Foreign Minister Davutoğlu were an important element for the development of the Turkish approach. Another analyst, Bülent Uras from the Foundation for Political, Economic and Social Research (SETA), said that after Davutoğlu became the foreign minister, Turkey stepped up its foreign policy. “Until recently the aim of Turkish foreign policy was zero problems with neighbors. Now it is maximum cooperation,” he said.

According to Uras, Turkey is trying to change the status quo in the Middle East, which is currently based on freezing problems. “Turkey’s message is: ‘We don’t have any chance to put our problems on a shelf any longer. We have to solve them.’ The Middle East is being reshaped. Turkey is participating in this reshaping process through democratization, mediation and pushing away the possibility of a conflict. The problems of the Middle East cannot be solved by one country; there is a need for coordination, and Turkey is trying to do this,” Uras said.

He also underlined that such cooperation would bring Syria closer to the West via Turkey, while its other option is to become closer to conflict via Iran. “Under these circumstances, powers such as Israel and US should be happy about this development,” he said.

Hüsnü Mahalli, a journalist and an expert on the Middle East, also believes that the future Middle East will be very different from today’s in a positive way. He added that whatever its name will be — integration, union or something similar — through the agreements between Turkey and Syria, a common platform has been established and the destiny of the Middle East is now in the hands of its people. Other Arab countries will join in, and even Iran in the near future, he said, noting that he believes that despite the traditional policies of Iran, Syria will be able to draw Tehran into this process.

But another expert, Soli Özel from Bilge University, has a cautious approach. According to Özel, Middle Eastern countries should cooperate more and the status quo cannot continue and must be changed, but that does not mean that this will happen easily.

“For Turkey to even realize the realities of life and enter into a process of change took a very long time. I think for Syria, starting the process of change will take time, too. Sure, there is an intention for it, but the abilities are limited,” he said.

Özel recalled that in the past, there was criticism of Davutoğlu’s efforts for regional cooperation, but everyone now understands that his efforts are paying off. “My impression is that Turkey’s efforts are highly coordinated with the US administration,” he said.

Syria-Turkey strategic cooperation
19.09.2009, Zaman

Syria and Turkey have signed an agreement on high-level strategic cooperation, which means that these two neighbors will pursue, from now on, a very close relationship, maybe the closest ever in the history of their bilateral relations.

Although its content hasn’t been completely released, it seems that the agreement aims to create something like a Schengen zone in our region. The abolishment of visas and the development of bilateral free trade will be accompanied by the joint fight against terrorism and against other transborder threats. Naturally, the general thought of good neighborly relations constitutes the basis of this agreement. The peaceful core in the region established by Turkey and Syria can be expanded to a wider area in the future, including Iraq, Lebanon, Jordan, even Israel and Palestine, or even the Caucasus, including Armenia.

It’s not possible to predict to which point this initiative will be developed. Yet it is possible to predict how the world will perceive this close relationship between Ankara and Damascus. Some will think that this is a natural outcome of Turkey’s process of transformation. They will admit that it is wise to chose Syria as a key player in Turkey’s foreign relations, while Ankara’s “zero problems with neighbors” policy necessitates the simultaneous resolution of Turkey’s problems with Iran, Iraq, Israel and EU countries. Those who will defend that this agreement brings Turkey closer to the EU will say Turkey is succeeding in what the EU failed in its common foreign and security policy and neighborhood policy.

Nevertheless, others will believe that this is one of the signs that Turkey intends to abandon the EU path. For them, Turkey is trying to become a pivotal country in its region using its geographical advantage, at the crossroads of the Middle East, the Caucasus and the Balkans instead of joining the EU. Some people will even see it as the resuscitation of Ottomanist policies, thinking that this may help Europe get rid of Turkey more easily. But it would be a mistake if they think that is worth celebrating. I don’t believe that Turkey will adopt such a plan, but if it does, the EU will not be the one that will benefit from it.

In today’s world, where policies of exclusion are no longer favored, Turkey is trying to apply a strategy aiming at winning over its neighbors. It appears that the US and Russia support the rapprochement between Turkey and Syria but also the one between Turkey and Armenia. After all, one shouldn’t think that the initiatives on Syria and Armenia were implemented without consulting Washington or Moscow first.

These initiatives can please countries that want Turkey to become the leader in a newly shaped region. But there is another initiative, which is of key importance for determining whether Turkey will stay on the EU track or not: the Kurdish opening. If the newly designed “region” will include only countries with doubtful democracies and countries with no democracy at all, then a democratic leap like the Kurdish opening will be irrelevant. But it appears that Turkey wants to pursue the development of good relations with neighbors and Turkey’s process of democratization simultaneously. This is compatible with the philosophy of the Copenhagen criteria, or it can even be seen as the first demonstration of the “Ankara criteria.” The appellation will not really matter as long as the content of these two criteria remains. Hence, these initiatives may help both to accelerate Turkey’s accession process and to help build a new and stable region. And perhaps this is the beginning of a period during which Europe will think how to win Turkey back.

BÜLENT KENEŞ Chief foreign correspondent of Zaman, who recently visited Damascus to report on Syria in advance of Assad’s visit to Turkey.

We found a part of ourselves in Damascus

I must confess that our interview with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad on Sunday in Damascus had a very special meaning for me. Thanks to this interview, I made my first visit to Damascus, which gave me the enthusiastic sensation I would feel if I were paying a visit to relatives that I lost years ago.

I felt the same sensation, which sent chills down my spine when I went to Athens for the first time several years ago. At that time, the following words had come out of my mouth involuntarily: “So close, yet so far away.”

Actually, these words do not hold true for the current state of bilateral relations between the two countries. During the 1990s, which corresponds to my career as a foreign news editor at the Zaman newspaper, when I had a closer interest in foreign policy and diplomacy, the main items on the agenda included the support Syria gave to the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) terrorist organization and claims about land and conflict over Turkey’s water policies toward Syria. Likewise, the never-ending disputes between Turkey and Greece over the territorial waters in the Aegean Sea, the flight information region (FIR) demarcation, small islands, the mutual armament race, Cyprus, military excises and dogfights were our main areas of occupation. Bilateral relations were so complicated that a friend of mine who is an academician and an expert on Turkish-Greek relations had once joked, “As long as there are hostile relations between the two countries, I will never lose my job until my retirement,” and we had burst into laughter at this tragicomic revelation. Today, those unlucky years when Turkish-Greek and Turkish-Syrian relations were defined as hostile are long past. The concrete results of the “policy of zero problems with neighbors,” the theoretical framework of which was drawn up in the post-2002 era by Ahmet Davutoğlu, acting first as a chief foreign policy adviser to the prime minister and then as a foreign minister, are now visible everywhere.

Seeing that we were engulfed by a friendly atmosphere during our visit to Damascus struck not only me but also the editors-in-chief of leading Turkish newspapers with whom I was touring around the streets of Damascus, which felt so familiar to us. We were extremely happy to observe that despite the false stories about hostility that we have been hearing since the 1970s, we are so close to the beautiful people of this beautiful country, and we are like each other.

The fact that when the last of the Ottoman sultans, Vahdettin, who is depicted by our distorted official education system as a traitor, died in Italy in exile with many debts, our Syrian sisters and brothers brought his corpse to Syria and laid him to rest in a tranquil place that they carefully selected shows me a gleaming sign of the loyalty our Syrian sisters and brothers feel toward us Turks and to their past. While we failed to ask the simple question, “How can a sultan betray the country that is accepted as his own property?” and we labeled Sultan Vahdettin a traitor with blind fanaticism. The Syrian subjects of Sultan Vahdettin did not regard him a traitor but brought his corpse from Italy in order to bury him in the cool courtyard of Suleymaniye Complex, built by Mimar Sinan, in Damascus.

If we recall the sad story of Sultan Vahdettin, the following can be said: On Oct. 17, 1922, 16 days after the bill abolishing the sultanate was passed on Oct. 1, 1922, he left İstanbul and spent his last years in San Remo, Italy, where he died on May 15, 1926. When he died, he was so poor that even his coffin was confiscated, and his corpse was transported first to Beirut and then to Damascus in the company of his son-in-law Ömer Faruk Efendi. The Syrian government had held an official funeral ceremony which then-Syrian President Ahmed Nami Bey, who was the first husband of Ayşe Sultan, the daughter of Sultan Abdülhamid II, attended, too. Later, some other members of the Ottoman dynasty who were living in several European cities were also laid to rest next to him. His burial place, which is held in high esteem by Syrians, and Suleymaniye Mosque are now being renovated with sponsorship from the Ministry of Culture and the Turkish Cooperation and Development Agency (TİKA). Learning that Turkey has done something, though a bit late, to place importance to its past, which was never betrayed by Syrians, was like receiving a nice present in Damascus.

Actually, the warm welcome offered by Syria, which very much resembles Turkey, and by Syrians, who embrace Turks with strong feelings of love and fraternity was the real present we got in Damascus. When we walked in the majestic Hamidiye Bazaar, which was crowded until very late at night, and when we visited the grand 1,300-year-old Umayyad Mosque, which was converted from a church, Damascus always gave us that striking sensation of happiness one can get when he meets relatives whom he hasn’t seen for years.

Compared to the atmosphere of hatred and hostility and the likelihood of an imminent war just 10 years ago, there is a completely different climate between Turkey and Syria. No doubt that not only the existing Turkish government’s foreign policy, which radically changed the way Turkish people view their neighbors, and also Syria’s young, moderate and far-sighted leader, al-Assad, have played a big role in this meeting between two countries who have long established friendly ties. At this point, I would like to express my thanks and gratitude to all the leaders who contributed to the creation of this friendly atmosphere that brought these two sister nations together once again.

Strengthening Turkey-Syria ties put Israel on backburner
ANKARA – Hürriyet Daily News
Friday, September 18, 2009

With its policy of developing a regional vision and maintaining ’zero problems with neighbors,’ Turkey is turning to Syria to transform its relationship from cooperation to integration. Turkey’s move raises questions about whether the strengthening ties with Syria signal a shift in regional balances and its strategic alliance with Israel

With Turkey’s foreign policy appearing to shift toward the Middle East, the government’s rapprochement with Syria and Iraq is raising questions about the country’s future political relations with Israel, its close ally since the early 1990s.

Turkey and Syria announced plans to establish a high-level strategic cooperation mechanism to deepen ties in every sphere, similar to Turkey’s agreement with Iraq.

Analysts have confirmed a considerable change in Turkish-Syrian relations compared to the 1990s, when strained ties were evident due to the Kurdistan Workers’ Party, or PKK, problem. Relations with Israel, however, received a boost in the 1990s when the two countries struck military deals, sowing the seeds of a strategic alliance. The Turkish-Israeli relationship has since moved in the opposite direction in the wake of the Gaza war. This is the current reality, although, both sides downplay the diplomatic chill, saying that it is only temporary.

“It is too early to say that what was often described as Turkey’s strategic alliance with Israel is being replaced by Syria,” Bülent Alirıza, director of the Turkey Project at the Washington-based Center for Strategic and International Studies, told the Hürriyet Daily News & Economic Review.

“However, the increasingly close relationship with Damascus, combined with the recent strains in the relationship with Tel Aviv, seems certain to raise additional questions about a possible change of direction in Turkish foreign policy in the Middle East,” he said.

The government’s sharp criticism of Israel’s military campaign in Gaza opened a rift with Israel. Ankara’s frustration was also revealed in the suspension of Turkish-mediated indirect talks between Israel and Syria, which were on the edge of being raised to the direct level. However, the Gaza war and the recent election of a right-wing government in Israel have since frozen talks.

Now, with its policy of developing a regional vision and maintaining “zero problems with neighbors,” Turkey is turning to Syria to transform its relationship from cooperation to integration. Both sides have already announced a decision to lift mutual visa requirements.

“For Syria, it is important that Turkey distance itself from Israel but it probably does not realistically expect that the Turkey-Israel relation will be ended and replaced by relations with Syria,” according to Raymond Hinnebusch, professor of international relations and Middle East studies at the University of St. Andrews, who has written a series of books on Syria and the Middle East.

“Rather, the heart of the alignment with the two countries is political: to manage the shared water, to avoid problems of irredentism from escalating, to avoid destabilizing interventions or civil wars in the region. The relation also has an economic dimension with cross-border business increasing,” said Hinnebusch.

“And in identity terms the perceptions of Turks and Syrians/Arabs as rivals or even enemies has been replaced by a feeling of amity, even some overlap in identity,” he added.

Political relations vs military enthusiasm

Despite strengthening relations with Damascus, some observers say that the Turkish military’s enthusiasm is not the same as that of the government. In the case of Israel, improved relations began with a military partnership and developed on the civilian level. This prevents a complete breakdown in relations with Israel, as military exercises and deals are ongoing despite occasional problems on the political level.

However, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad said on the eve of a visit to Turkey that his country would welcome PKK members if they decided to lay down arms, which was interpreted as clear support of the Turkish government’s Kurdish initiative. Thus, security concerns over a PKK-originated threat could bring the military into the picture, alongside the fostering of political ties with Damascus.

“I would not expect the Syria-Turkey relationship to be military-centered; the two sides do not really share the same threats, except for a shared perception of the dangers created by the U.S. invasion of Iraq, particularly in empowering the Kurds,” said Hinnebusch.

“Syrian and Turkish weapons systems are different so I’m doubtful there is much scope for cooperation along these lines. Perhaps intelligence sharing, confidence-building measures etc. can develop at a fairly low level of salience,” he said.

Hisham Milhem

Comments (65)

mslions said:


I think Turkish religious movements’ impact on Syria would be very minimal, if any, because of several reasons. Actually, all of the Sufi orders you have mentioned have been inactive for a long time now, and are on the verge of extinction.(probably already extincted,stayed only as cultural cults) Those orders have lost their roles as driving forces long time ago, and have almost no impact currently on the Turkish society or on “Turkish Islam” as you call it. The only Sufi order that could do what you have suggested was the Nakshibendis. However, they also lost their institutional standing considerably during the last decade, especially due to the restrictions and purges by the so-called secular establishment after the post-Modern coup d’etat in 1997. Even with the AK Party, some of whose top members have Nakshbendi past, they couldn’t regain their past influence and power.(Some of them transformed into business-like organizations) Therefore, I don’t think The Turkish Nakshis would be instrumental in countervailing the Wahabi impact in Syria.

As for the Gulen movement, let me just note that it is not a Sufi order in the traditional sense of the word. Their canonical texts even criticize Sufi way of living and action, arguing that its era is over. However, due to an increasing interest in the West for Sufism (Rumi etc.) and as a tactical move, the movement started to promote themselves as Sufis.

As far as countervailing the Wahabis, they could actually be successful to a certain degree and within a small group of people. They have been performing this service (with the US approval) in the Central Asia since 1980’s. However, even in the Central Asia, where they are prominently very active,they do not have grassroots influence (unlike in Turkey). Their idea of Islam is shared by only a small group of Central Asians. I think their influence in Syria would be even more limited than theirs in the Central Asia, and they would face more challenges in Syria. Having said all this, we should also note that the Gulen movement has no history to reclaim in Syria (or in the Middle East) unlike most other Sufi orders, and the Middle East, including Syria, is not yet among their primary target regions.

Therefore, I would definitely think again about the argument, “They will put down roots in Syria in short order.”

ps: An efficient way “to help variegate the texture of Sunni Islam once again and tip the balance away from Wahhabism” in Syria would be to produce Turkish soap operas in that lines and broadcast them in Syria. A joke, of course.

September 19th, 2009, 2:21 pm


Joshua said:

Dear MSLions,

I take your point about the diminishing role that sufi orders play in Islamic society in general and in Turkey in particular. But even if the actual orders have weakened, their cultural legacy is still powerful. A number of works have been written on the revival of Sufi orders and the role they are playing in transforming Islam.

Martin van Bruinessen, Sufism and the ‘modern’ in Islam, I.B.Tauris, 2007 is a case in point.

Here is a short blub: Sufism has not only survived into the twenty-first century but has experienced a significant resurgence throughout the Muslim world. Sufism and the ‘Modern’ in Islam offers refreshing new perspectives on this phenomenon, demonstrating surprising connections between Sufism and Muslim reformist currents, and the vital presence of Sufi ideas and practices in all spheres of life. Contrary to earlier theories of the modernization of Muslim societies, Sufi influence on the political, economic and intellectual life of contemporary Muslim societies has been considerable. Although less noticed than the resurgence of radical Islam, Sufi orders and related movements involve considerably larger numbers of followers, even among the modern urban middle classes.

This innovative study brings together new comparative and interdisciplinary research to show how Sufis have responded to modernization and globalization and how various currents of Islamic reform and Sufism have interacted. Offering fascinating new insights into the pervasive Sufi influence on modern Islamic religiosity and contemporary political and economic life, this book raises important questions about Islam in the age of urbanism and mass communications.

Weismann has also written about the way that some Sufi orders have responded to the challanges of modernity in Syria and have refashioned themselves to take on a contemporary relevance.

It should be added that many of the most promenant Syrian Islamic teachers of the 20th century have made it their business to find a sythesis of Sufism and traditionalism that fits modern requirements. See in particular, Sa’id Hawa, the Muslim Brotherhood’s leading intellectual. Syria’s Grand Mufti Kaftaru, Mohammmad Habbash, and the present Grand Mufti, Hassoun. All are Naqshbandi-Khaladi or some variation.

See page 118-122 of Martin van Bruinessen’s book.

I posted Weismann’s article:

Sa’id Hawwa and Islamic Revivalism in Ba’thist Syria

on the continuing influence of Sufi orders in Syria to the web some years ago.

Also see:

Itzchak Weismann, “Sufi Brotherhoods in Syria and Israel – A Contemporary Overview,”

September 19th, 2009, 11:25 pm


jad said:

Dear Dr. Landis,
With all due respect, I think it’s unfair and somehow insulting to put some respected men like Kuftaro, Habbash and Hasson in the same philosophical category of a hate and sectarian Hawwa.
We both know what Hawwa represent and called for, while the three men were and still are calling for a tolerated, peaceful and balanced Islam.

September 20th, 2009, 2:03 am


Shami said:

JAD ,i invite you to know better Sheikh Hawwa ,we can not call him “a sectarian” ,i told you that a Sunni (which is the biggest religious bloc in the world)even if he is a bigot we can not call him a sectarian ,for what reason should he be sectarian if the Muslim and Arab world are 90% Sunni.For example, Jad,i know many alawite atheists and others of their kind who are deeply sectarians and nothing else,nobody in Syria is more sectarian than them ,so in my opinion a sectarian can not be other than from these minorities and it’s not related to religiosity.
BTW ,Hawwa served as teacher in Salamiyya ,a Shia Ismaili village near Hama ,very happy from this experience ,he praised and loved them despite their batinism and heterodoxy.

September 20th, 2009, 2:57 am


Shami said:

Mrs lions ,Wahabis are a small minority in Syria and it can not be otherwise.Instead we should help our muslim brothers in the Gulf to leave this extremism and it happens.Few people know this reality Sufism is not weak in Saudi Arabia ,many Saudis Are Sufis and they are rich and powerfull,the most prominent of them was the former Saudi minister of Oil ,Ahmad Zaki al Yamani son of Sufi Saudi Sheikh of Mecca.

September 20th, 2009, 3:25 am


jad said:

Is that a bad joke or something because I honestly lost any tolerance for any meaningless debate?

According to what you wrote and rationally analyzing your way of thinking I would easily judge‘Kareem’as a hypocrite since he has two faces for looking at himself and his ‘Sunni’ people according to what works for him and them;
In the west he will go in a demonstration shouting out ‘discrimination’ ‘anti-Islam’ and call the west a double standard society asking for more rights to be treated differently if one westerner dares to criticize his sect by a word (not by calling, teaching and writing for them to be killed as your Hawa did) while you are shamelessly on SC writing that because you are from the same sect of the majority in the Arab world you have the right to treat other religion and sect minorities in any way you please even support ‘someone’ who support killing them, but calling that ‘someone’ a sectarian doesn’t apply and you disagree.

What you wrote about the definition of ‘sectarianism’ is laughable, to understand what I mean just go to your previous statement and change the word ‘Sectarian’ with ‘Discriminator’ and the world ‘Sunni’ with ‘Caucasians’ and the world ‘Alawites/minorities’ with the world ‘Coloured skin’ and see how ridiculous your statement was, Enjoy!

September 20th, 2009, 3:47 am


Shami said:

Jad ,Hawwa and the Muslim brotherhood are not sectarians ,they are people of the city who lived centuries with their christian and jewish neighbors and shared with them wealth,culture,influence and knowledge,the bad and good days,this is not the case of these minorities who lived isolated and accumulated a deep hatred against their surrounding environment.The syrian inhabitant of the city has a liberal mind as much religious and bigot he is ,whatever he is ,christian ,jewish or muslim.
The things are clear Jad and easy to understand,now we should integrate our alawite brothers in the syrian body so they stop to fear us .

September 20th, 2009, 4:40 am


jad said:

From what you wrote I think the only one who urgently need to be integrated in the society not only in the Syrian society is YOU.

September 20th, 2009, 4:56 am


Shami said:

lol Jad wallahi i like you.

September 20th, 2009, 5:26 am


majedkhaldoun said:

First abolishing visa requirement between Syria and Turkey is very small part of this high level strategic cooperation.
It seems that Bashar Assad has great respect to Erdogan, he may be intimidated by him, or it may be that he needs him,It may be iterpretted as a move away from Baathiism,but I think Bashar has his eyes on the big pie, Iraq. as for Erdogan it will raise his stature in Turkey,the effect on turkish economy will be small.

September 20th, 2009, 10:31 am


jad said:

Fitr Saeed to all! 🙂
[I apologize for not writing that way earlier…..t’s all your fault Kareem, Fitr Saeed to you, your family and the lucky (I’m not sure yet) fiancée]

September 20th, 2009, 11:22 am


Shami said:

LOL Jad ,many thanks bro.

September 20th, 2009, 11:37 am


Off the Wall said:

İHSAN YILMAZ’s article was an outstanding, realistic, and excellent work. I liked the writer’s no hold barred approach and his honesty. It was very brief but well thought article. Thanks for posting the link.
May be in few generations from now, our descendants will look at Davutoğlu as the person who initiated the re-birth of the region as a powerful economic and cultural center. I am watching hopefully.

September 20th, 2009, 4:13 pm


Ginko said:

Is this post a piece of rational analysis, or is it the analytical equivalent of a ‘wet dream’? Dr. Landis thinks that this opening between Damascus and Ankara will ‘buy’ the Syrian regime a lifeline. He seems to await, with messianic fervor, for any sign from the gods that the regime is here to stay. I think Dr. Landis makes too much of the development; reading all sort of haleleujahs in its subtext.

This overcompensation seems to indicate an inner anxiety on Dr. Landis’ part: maybe he is not sure, deep down, that the regime, that he worked so dilligently towards rehabilitating, will survive. Maybe the ‘doctor’ already knowns the patient’s disease is terminal.

September 20th, 2009, 7:22 pm


jad said:

Happy Eid OTW, I hope you’re having a great day with the family.

September 20th, 2009, 10:18 pm


trustquest said:

I think there are more substance to the waiving of visa requirements between Turkey and Syria. I would like to know the pros and cons, if it is going to work and if it has the base to succeed. If this opening is a strategic one it means Syria has changed direction and it will open its borders to all neighbors, if it only with Turkey it does not count more than a tactical move and will be short lived. All this dandy talk does not add up for a country like Syria who could not make a road, bridge, a deal or economic cooperation between any neighbors not to mention their Arab brethren in the last 40 years and not to forget its last 10 years bumpy drive dealing with others, lets remember Lebanon. The move raises more questions than answers and it does not only comes 40 years late for any economist strategist regarding the role of state of providing the venue for its people to succeed but it reminded me with my grandfather who lost his business which based on the Turkish and north Turkey pilgrims to make money. Not only that but it comes as contrary move to the fabric of the regime in Syria and other depot regimes.

For sure it is expected to create too many problems for the authority in Syria and it looks at it is just a tactical step taken not by the Syrian initiative but by Turkey smart initiative, with great timing and by a Turkish bold move to take the opportunity after building some confidence in the Arab World during Gaza war. The aim for Turkey is clear, simple and serves their interests as a country looking for political and economical strength and to pose themselves as future big player or the number one role in the region. Other countries in the area are not in the same open mind and positive offensive mood and such steps is against their nature and their economies especially if we consider that economic freedom in Turkey which is coupled with free press, parties, Ottomans rich economic base and comfortable space of individual freedom which all missing in the Arab world at large and specially in Syria. Arab countries will sure end up big losers and not big competitors. The move will bring larger capital to Turkey and less capital to Syria. The other issue is political which twist any brain and makes anyone drop his jaws in surprise if we remembered that Turkey has military alignment with Israel and with US, and as more than one writer in the Turkish newspapers asserted that there is no intention to change alliances or position, so you wonder where is this going?

Lets wait and watch couples of months or years when Turkey get access to all Arab countries and when the Syrian citizens will wait in line to go to other Arab country while the Turkish citizens passing through without restriction, at that time the pressure on these regimes will increase many folds and I see right now only “Shami” is laughing without showing his teeth.

The following personal story will show how the despot regimes function. In 1980, I visited Iraq from Syria; I could not stand to stay there more than 4 days, rode the bus and went back to Syria. On the border, they sent me back to Baghdad to get a visa to return to my birth country Syria, this is how they function then and how they function now, bureaucracy is their treasure to keep and nourish.

Prediction: the waiver of visa requirement will be abandoned by couples of years from now and the scenario is simple, one incident, or one terrorist activity will stop the wheel from keep turning. The people who watched the area in the past 40 years know better to remember Libyan throwing out the Egyptians, Syrian throwing out the Egyptian, the Iraqi’s throwing out the Palestinians, the Lebanese throwing out the Syrians and keep counting.

Any one remember that the Green Built in Northern Syria which resulted in moving Kurds and replacing them with Arabs, any one remember the reason for that, it was directed action against Turkey and neighboring Kurd to protect the border from encroachment. When the Kurds question in Turkey solved what that will entail for Syria?
Are they going to solve the Kurds issue in Syria too?
If Turkey starts strengthening the Sufi sects in Syria is that something acceptable to the Syrian authorities who decimated those groups and still doing so, (Koftaro son is under indictment now).
If they open the flow of people and merchandize from Turkey are they going to sieve and block the Israeli merchandize from entering Syria? Don’t they need big bureaucracy to control these issues?
As I said the move raises more questions than answers.
BTW, I’m fully behind this move, but…
Happy Eid to all

September 20th, 2009, 11:30 pm


Shami said:

Ahleen Dear OTW and Dear Trustquest ,kel 3am wa antum bi khair.

September 21st, 2009, 12:36 am


Hassan said:

The Daily Star

Tuesday, September 15, 2009
Syria isn’t changing; the US should re-evaluate conciliation

By David Schenker
Commentary by

Shortly after taking office, in a dramatic departure from Bush-era policy, President Barack Obama made good on his pledge to reestablish dialogue with Syria. In recent months, in an effort to build confidence and improve the relationship, the administration has dispatched seven delegations to Damascus, including multiple visits from its top Middle East diplomat and peace envoy and senior military officials.

Much of the discussion has focused on stabilizing Iraq, an area where Syria – the leading point of entry for Al-Qaeda-affiliated insurgents since 2003 – could potentially make a significant contribution. Washington also sought Syrian assistance in bolstering the embattled government in Baghdad. The administration chose Iraq because it was assumed to be a topic of “mutual interest,” a belief seemingly confirmed in June 2009 by the Syrian ambassador in Washington, Imad Mustafa, who described Iraq as “a very strong opportunity to cooperate with this administration.”

Three months later, however, it is becoming increasingly clear that Damascus is falling short. Not only are jihadists continuing to flow into Iraq via Syria, but the Assad regime appears to be actively working to undermine the stability of the Iraqi government. The recent carnage in Baghdad tells the story.

On August 25, Iraq withdrew its ambassador to Syria to protest the suicide bombings that killed nearly 100 Iraqis a week earlier. In his videotaped confession, the mastermind of the attacks admitted he planned them on orders from a man in Syria. Adding insult to injury, the attacks emanating from Syria came just one day after Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki was in Damascus for talks with President Bashar Assad about border security.

Despite Syrian protestations to the contrary, the bombings were not an aberration. In mid-July – a month after the initial US-Syrian military talks about border security – several armed fighters with Syrian passports were arrested in Mosul, another Iraqi city beset by suicide attacks. At about the same time, Assad himself hosted anti-American Iraqi Shiite leader Moqtada al-Sadr, whose Mahdi Army has proven a significant impediment to efforts to stabilize Iraq.

Regardless of whether the latest attacks were perpetrated by Al-Qaeda or Baathist insurgents, Damascus bears responsibility. For the past six years, the Assad regime has provided Al-Qaeda carte blanche to attack neighboring states via its territory. The relationship between this terrorist organization and this terror-sponsoring state remains complicated. Likewise, even now Damascus continues to oppose extradition of Iraqi Baathists who are working to destabilize the government in Baghdad.

After half a year of its good-faith effort to forge a partnership with Damascus based on “mutual respect and mutual interest,” the Obama administration has hit a wall. While Syrian officials routinely articulate a desire for improved relations with Washington, the Assad regime has yet to take steps necessary to make this possible. From Iraq to Lebanon to its ongoing support for Hamas, and despite Washington’s conciliatory steps, Damascus remains intransigent.

Concerned that Iraqi-Syrian tensions could undermine efforts to rehabilitate Syria, Washington has yet to condemn Damascus for its role in the Baghdad bombings, preferring instead to describe the events as an “internal matter” between the governments. Based on the priority Washington ascribes to Iraq, however, a stronger US response is warranted.

To date, the administration has been rather generous in response to Syria’s promises to improve its behavior. Based on Syria’s pledge to cooperate with US Central Command on border security issues, for example, this past June the Obama administration undertook to return an ambassador to Damascus, a potion that has been vacant since 2005. In July, the administration likewise eased the process of granting export licenses to Syria’s aviation industry, another conciliatory gesture designed to encourage better behavior.

Absent critical Syrian follow-through on Iraq, Washington may want to reevaluate its conciliatory approach. While the administration is unlikely to take dramatic steps anytime soon, it could deliver a powerful message to the Assad regime during the United Nations General Assembly session in mid-September. Syrian officials have been advocating an Assad-Obama summit for months and are hoping to engineer a meet and greet on the sidelines of the New York meeting. Given the ongoing problems posed by Syria, Obama would be well advised to snub Assad in New York.

Despite the best of intentions, the Obama administration approach has not yet convinced Damascus to change its ways. While it may be premature to throw in the towel and resume the Bush-era policy of isolation, if Syria’s current behavior in Iraq persists it should provoke a policy review that adds some sticks to the arsenal of carrots already deployed against Damascus.

The recent suicide bombings in Baghdad suggest an absence of mutual US-Syrian interests in Iraq. Apparently, the Assad regime does not want a strong, democratic and stable Iraq. As the United States starts to draw down its forces there, Washington’s Syria policy should reflect this reality.

David Schenker is a senior fellow in Arab politics at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy. From 2002 to 2006, he was the Syria, Lebanon, Jordan and Palestinian affairs adviser in the Office of the Secretary of Defense. This commentary first appeared at, an online newsletter that publishes views on Middle Eastern and Islamic affairs.

September 21st, 2009, 12:17 pm


Akbar Palace said:


The “beauty” of the Syrian government is unsurpassed, and the countries of the world are vying to please her (at least that’s what she thinks).

Meanwhile, it’s Saturday night and only Iran and Turkey are Syria’s two options for a date. What will it be? McDonald’s or Burger King?

September 22nd, 2009, 8:54 am


Akbar Palace said:

Interesting article from the “democratically challenged” Syrian government and their government-controlled daily, Al-Thawra:

9/11 – An American, American-Israeli, or CIA-Pentagon Conspiracy

September 22nd, 2009, 12:41 pm


Dar said:

Can’t say I altogether trust Turkey.

The Turks have an extreme case of an inferiority complex vis-a-vis Europe/the West. Tell a Turk he’s a “Middle Easterner” and watch him go nuts. They’re convinced they’re “Europeans”, that they’re “white” (unlike the “swarthy” Arabs/Iranians), and that they’re superior to Arabs and Iranians in general.

Further, add the stolen Syrian lands the Turks are currently occupying, as well as the friendship with Israel, and the issue of northern Cyrpus, and you have an country that no Arab regime should be close friends with.

The Greeks have been far better friends to Arabs than the Turks have.

I hope this goes nowhere.

September 22nd, 2009, 3:39 pm


Shai said:


Thank you for bringing our attention to this article. It does raise the question who wrote the article (was it an op-ed type, or more “official” agenda).

If it was indeed a specific government agenda, to create tension by introducing this claim, then the result will likely be counterproductive, on all levels. But if this was not an official initiative, then funny as it may seem, this article may actually represent a form of free-expression. That is, allowing some extremist to write a column or an op-ed article, with a crazy claim.

The claim itself, of course, is as preposterous as claiming the Nakba never took place.

September 22nd, 2009, 4:17 pm


Jad said:

I’m disapponted by you for two reasons:
1- in a democratic system you have the right of be different in your views. And many people will have different views over the same subject so for you to sarcasm Syria as an undemocratic state yet you want the writer to shut up is a contradiction, beside, the whole 9/11 conspiracy story came out from your own democratic country and not from Syria, so who cares if that writer think this way what is his influence? Nothing I answer.
2- your political senses get over your humain one when you didn’t see that the writer is actually made a terrible Anti-Judaism statement when he mixed the political movement of Zionism with the judaism and that for me is what will make me ignore any word he wrote, while u didn’t see that at all.
Please be smart and honest to your humane beleifes not to your political agenda

September 22nd, 2009, 4:18 pm


Ginko said:

This is Josh Landis’ basic premise: any skepticism about Syria’s willingness to reform and change its bad behavior (…ongoing for the past four decades) is part of a neocon conspiracy whose masterminds snuff out puppies and kittens for the fun of it.

I fail to understand how Landis is taken seriously at this point. Can’t reasonable people, when faced by reasonable facts, judge the Syrian regime to be less than an exemplary actor for peace and stability in the region, without being labeled ‘neocons’?

Landis has worked extra hard to besmirch the reputation, expertise and motivations of Andrew Tabler, who is one of the few Western observers with credible and up-to-date insights on Syria. Is it because Tabler is an academic threat? Or is it because Tabler has a point of view, and as is the nature of autocracies, dissent must be stifled?

September 22nd, 2009, 6:56 pm


Akbar Palace said:


Let me guess, you’re a “hard-line” likudnik, right-wing, AIPAC-loving, Jewish settler fascist neocon.;)

BTW – I agree totally with your preceeding post.

Nice to hear the truth once in a while…


September 22nd, 2009, 10:05 pm


Akbar Palace said:

But if this was not an official initiative, then funny as it may seem, this article may actually represent a form of free-expression.


The Syrian government oversees everything that is written in Al-Thawra. I doubt if you’ll see anything too critical of Assad, certainly nothing compared to what you see in Israeli newspapers.

in a democratic system you have the right of be different in your views


Exactly! In Syria’s case (as well as most other Arab regimes) you DON’T have the right to be different!

Sure, writers and columnists can write ALL THEY WANT in terms of anti-Israel or anti-American conspiracy theories, but can they also write scathing articles that harshly criticize their own government and their leaders?

I’m afraid not.

Israeli and American media criticize their leaders on a daily basis. That’s freedom of speech. Just like Syria Comment.;)

September 22nd, 2009, 11:13 pm


jad said:

“Exactly! In Syria’s case (as well as most other Arab regimes) you DON’T have the right to be different!”
And in the democratic Israel, Palestinians under the Israeli occupation for the past 61 years until now do have the right to be Arabs and different right?!
You keep showing how untrue and fake person you are to every idea you write, I honestly feel sorry for you and people like you who can’t see the wrong doing on both sides and be honest about it.

I’m Syrian and I publicly on SC keep despising any other Syrian or Arab who dares to speak badly about Jewish people, you on the other hand support killing Palestinians while you are an American (by citizenship not by choice obviously) and you find it hard to even verbally acknowledge the human disaster Israelis brought and keep brining upon Palestinians and Arabs under their occupation in Palestine, Lebanon and Jolan..
There is a huge gap between us, from what you wrote and from what I wrote I know that I’m a better human being than you are with or without a true democracy in Syria because I put my value before my political agenda.

September 23rd, 2009, 2:49 am


SimoHurtta said:

Akbar has Memri lately been writing anything how Israel helped Idi Amin to power? By the way Akbar do you know what was the first country Idi Amin visited as a president? Well it was – surprise – Israel. It is also said that Israel donated a jet for Idi Amin.

The amount of dead during Idi Adim’s regime was 300.000.

September 23rd, 2009, 5:06 am


why-discuss said:

The Hariri International Tribunal is snowballing among Arab countries accusing each other.. Israel is intouched.

Iraq’s AL Maliki rejects arab intercession and prefers another UN International Tribunal against Syria for “war crimes and crimes against humanity”

Le Premier ministre irakien, Nouri al-Maliki, a affirmé hier qu’il n’avait « quasiment aucun espoir » de voir la Syrie coopérer et a rejeté toute médiation arabe dans la crise diplomatique avec son voisin née des attentats meurtriers du 19 août à Bagdad. « Depuis le début, nous nous attendions à ne pas recevoir de réponse de la Syrie sur les preuves et les demandes irakiennes. Nous n’avons quasiment aucun espoir de voir ces efforts réussir », a affirmé M. Maliki dans un communiqué. Il a rejeté toute médiation arabe qui aurait pour objectif, selon lui, d’empêcher l’Irak de se tourner vers l’ONU et l’ouverture d’une enquête internationale. Le Premier ministre a mis en garde contre les réunions arabes qui ont pour but de transférer le problème de l’ONU à la Ligue arabe et de faire perdre aux Irakiens leurs droits. Plus tôt hier, le président Jalal Talabani avait affirmé, avant de s’envoler pour New York, que l’Irak demanderait la création de ce tribunal international lors de l’Assemblée générale de l’ONU. La formation d’un tel tribunal « fera partie de nos discussions car (ces attaques sont) des crimes de guerre et des crimes contre l’humanité », avait-il dit aux journalistes.

September 23rd, 2009, 8:11 am


t_desco said:

STL rumors update:

Simply covering all the bases, as I had suggested earlier? –

International Investigators Question Mahmoud Rafeh

The international commission investigating ex-Premier Rafik Hariri’s assassination has reportedly interrogated Mahmoud Rafeh, who is accused of killing senior Islamic Jihad official Mahmoud Majzoub and his brother in the southern city of Sidon in 2006.
An Nahar daily said Wednesday that Internal Security Forces transported the prisoner from Roumieh jail to the commission’s headquarters in Monteverde where he was questioned during a lengthy session on Sept. 3.
Naharnet, 23 Sep 09

Resolution 1559 as a possible motive? –

Roed-Larsen to Bellemare: No Contradiction between Tribunal and Disarmament

Special Tribunal for Lebanon Prosecutor Daniel Bellemare met in recent weeks with Special U.N. envoy Terje Roed-Larsen in The Hague, sources close to Bellemare said in remarks published by the daily al-Akhbar on Tuesday.
The sources said talks tackled the intersection of information relating to the implementation of Security Council Resolution 1701 and Resolution 1559.

An STL official did not rule out that Roed-Larsen would put forward questions for Bellemare concerning his meeting at the Justice Palace in Beirut with a Hizbullah official prior to his departure from Lebanon.

Al-Akhbar said Lebanese officers who had maintained contact with the U.N. investigation committee stressed that the probe has reached a possible link between the communications network which had been uncovered by Lebanese intelligence during the early stages of the investigation and a person said to be linked to Hizbullah.

It went on to say, citing one investigator, that the alleged Hizbullah person traveled to Syria and from there to Iraq before he went missing.

It said Lebanese security services have gathered data on the suspect, but “quitted the dossier following the assassination of one of the officers in an explosive device,” according to a senior security official.
Naharnet, 22 Sep 09

September 23rd, 2009, 9:45 am


Amir in Tel Aviv said:

Dearest Jad,

Again, you make this false distinction between “Jews” and “Israelis”.
Most Jews (in Israel and over the world) are Zionists. Therefore,
you can definitely regard all of us as Israelis, or potentially Israelis.

You, of course, don’t regard yourself as antisemite.
But you need to review your image of a Jew:
The kind of Jew you “like”, is the old Jew; the obedient Jew,
the submissive Jew, the Jew that gets orders from all, and does not
have the permission to reject, the Jew that doesn’t have effect on
his, or his people’s faith. The Jew with no rights. The Jew that
pays taxes, and shuts his mouth.

This kind of a Jew is history, my precious Jad.

September 23rd, 2009, 10:06 am


Akbar Palace said:

And in the democratic Israel, Palestinians under the Israeli occupation for the past 61 years until now do have the right to be Arabs and different right?!


But what in Allah’s name are you talking about? “In democratic Israel” AND “Palestinians under the Israeli occupation for the past 61 years” Palestinians and arabs DO “have the right to be Arabs and different”.

Am I misunderstanding you or can you provide some clarification?

But there is no “right” for Arabs to terrorize Israelis. There is no “right” for Arabs whether they are in Palestine, Jordan, Lebanon, Egypt, or Syria to lob missiles into Israel. Similarly, Israel DOES have a right to defend herself.

<iYou keep showing how untrue and fake person you are to every idea you write, I honestly feel sorry for you and people like you who can’t see the wrong doing on both sides and be honest about it.

Becasue you and I disagree doesn’t make me a “fake person”. I am a person no better or worse than you are.

I’m Syrian and I publicly on SC keep despising any other Syrian or Arab who dares to speak badly about Jewish people, you on the other hand support killing Palestinians while you are an American (by citizenship not by choice obviously) and you find it hard to even verbally acknowledge the human disaster Israelis brought and keep brining upon Palestinians and Arabs under their occupation in Palestine, Lebanon and Jolan..

Thank you. I do NOT despise Arabs. I despise the majority of Arab governments who are still at war with Israel, hold their people hostage, refuse to negotiate peace, continue to feed their citizenry anti-semitic propaganda in their media, and incite. I also am very critical of Arabs who find the time and energy to criticize Israel, but don’t move a finger to criticize their beloved leadership.

There is a huge gap between us, from what you wrote and from what I wrote I know that I’m a better human being than you are with or without a true democracy in Syria because I put my value before my political agenda.


I don’t know what your “values” are. Judging from your comments, your values are one standard for Israel, and other much more relaxed standard for other Arab countries.

Akbar has Memri lately been writing anything how Israel helped Idi Amin to power?


Idi Amin came to power in 1971. It seems as though there was coup within Uganda. I don’t think Israel staged the coup. To my recollection, Israel had some advisors in Uganda during these years. Israel often tries to make friends with questionable regimes. As you know, Israel tried to make friends with Hamas during the early years of Hamas’s existence. Often, Israel gets burned by the despots she tries to make friends with. Idi Amin was no different. Israel bore the brunt of Idi Amin when he aided the terrorists who kidnapped the Air France flight where Jews and Israelis were separated out for their eventual murder. Fortunately, Israel DEFENDED herself and her people.

This is why Israel has to think long and hard about making deals with despots like your friends Assad, Arafat, and Hamas.

Idi Amin’s relationship with Israel actually lasted a whopping 1 year!:

Early in 1972, he reversed foreign policy — never a major issue for Amin — to secure financial and military aid from Muammar Qadhafi of Libya. Amin expelled the remaining Israeli advisers, to whom he was much indebted, and became anti-Israel.

The amount of dead during Idi Adim’s regime was 300.000.


Who killed these people? Are you trying to pin murders on Jews again? Did the Jews kill the thousands of Finns and Russians during
Finnish Civil War?

Did you want to discuss anything else Sim? How about Israel’s complicity in the 9-11 attack?

September 23rd, 2009, 10:12 am


norman said:

Three Reasons for the UN to Try Detlev Mehlis
Syria has plenty of reason to believe that Mehlis is guilty of fraud, especially that none of his findings were authenticated by any of the persecutors who succeeded him. Mehlis gave a lot of weight to accusations, without noting that all of them were made with a political purpose, notes Sami Moubayed.

Syria took a much anticipated yet overdue step last week, appealing directly to the United Nations to bring UN persecutor Detlev Mehlis, to justice. The German attorney’s name had graced an ill-fated and dramatic report, issued by the UN in October 2005, accusing Syria of assassinating Lebanon’s former Prime Minister Rafik al-Harriri.
Back then, Mehlis had authored a 53-page report that ripped through Syria and Lebanon like a thunderstorm, reading like an Agatha Christie murder novel, rather than a professional legal document. The report read, “There is probable cause to believe that the decision to assassinate former Prime Minister Rafik al-Harriri could not have been taken without the approval of top-ranked Syrian security officials and could not have been further organized without the collusion of their counterparts in the Lebanese security services.”

Syria’s appeal, four years down the road, was presented to the UN by Foreign Minister Walid al-Mouallem, who said that Mehlis and his assistant Gerhard Lehmann had tried “to implicate the Syrian Arab Republic at any cost” in the February 14, 2005 explosions in Beirut that killed Harriri, ex-Economy Minister Basil Fleiham, and 22 others.

Syria has plenty of reason to believe that Mehlis is guilty of fraud, especially that none of his findings were authenticated by any of the persecutors who succeeded him, including the most recent Canadian one, Daniel Bellemare. Additionally, based on Mehlis’ findings, four senior Lebanese officers were arrested back in 2005, on the charges of involvement in the Harriri Case.

Last April, however, all of them were released by an international court, due to lack of any evidence, shedding serious doubt on Mehlis’ professionalism. One of the officers, Jamil Sayyed, gave several press interviews after his release, saying that Mehlis had tried talking him into naming any Syrian official in the crime—in exchange for his release from jail—regardless if this official were guilty.

The Syrian letter, addressed to the US presidency of the Security Council, read: “They (Mehlis and his deputy) attempted to induce Sayyed to persuade Syria to identify an official victim who would admit to the crime and subsequently be discovered to have committed suicide or killed in a road accident, whereupon a settlement would be reached with Syria.” Mouallem added that Syria “greatly regrets that misuse of power” by Mehlis and believes that “the secretary general should investigate the matter and the above-mentioned serious events whereby Syria was targeted through a United Nations body.”

Mouallem wrapped up that Syria has the right to take legal action against the German persecutor, “with regard to the injury they did to Syria by using perjured evidence and departing from the rules and principles of the investigation.” Although the International Tribunal, which has been operational since March 1, has effectively backed out on all of Mehlis’ claims, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki Moon came out this week, saying that Detlev Mehlis will not be brought to court, based on Syria’s request.

Back in 2005, Syria had worked hard at drowning the Mehlis Report, which drew widespread anger on the Syrian street, which believed that it had been authored under influence of the Bush White House. Riad Daoudi, legal advisor to the Syrian Foreign Minister, said it had relied on, “pre-set ideas to reach conclusions that are of a political nature and that point to Syria as a suspect with no evidence”. He expressed deep regret that Mehlis had relied on the witness of people who were known for their anti-Syrian stance and “ignores” the witness of Syrian officials.

From Washington, Syrian ambassador Imad Mustapha added, “The report is full of political rumors, gossip and hearsay, and it has not a single shred of evidence that will be accepted by any court of law. We are so disappointed with it.” He, too, added that the report was political rather than professional. Bolton added that the report “speaks for itself” and is backed by “substantial evidence.” Going back to the controversial Melhis Report, we can understand why the Syrians are so keen at bringing him to justice.

Reason 1

When investigating the murder, Mehlis had interviewed eight officials regarding a meeting between President Bashar al-Assad and Rafiq al-Harriri, dated August 26, 2004. These eight officials, all members of the anti-Syrian camp, were not present at the meeting, yet they confirmed, in section 27 of the Mehlis Report, without the shadow of a doubt, that Assad had threatened to bring down Lebanon on the Prime Minister’s head, if he did not renew the mandate of then-President Emille Lahhoud.

Mehlis gave a lot of weight to these accusations, without noting that all of them were made with a political purpose by men whose argument could be bias, since they were likely searching for an opportunity to incriminate Syria.

Reason 2

Among other things, Mehlis said that the decision to kill Harriri was made in July-December 2004 at the Meridian Hotel and then at the Presidential Palace in Damascus (section 96). This information is gathered from a Syrian witness, who was not identified, who used to work with Syrian intelligence in Lebanon. Again, had this information been backed with evidence, such as recorded talks, pictures, more than one witness, then it would have elicited some respect.

The only basis for such an accusation, however, was the testimony of the unnamed Syrian witness. This raised several questions: How would an average agent in the Syrian intelligence service know of such a supposedly high-level meeting? And in planning such a crime, couldn’t these Syrian officials have chosen a more concealed and less public place than the Meridian?

Finally, how would the Syrian witness know so much about these meetings if he were not a member of the very closed crime circle (which Mehlis claims he is not). Surely, such a delicate crime was not public knowledge that an officer in the Syrian intelligence in Lebanon “stumbled” across. This unnamed Syrian witness said that a senior Syrian officer told him in January 2005 that Hariri was a problem for Syria.

Reason 3

One month later, this same officer said that there would be “an earthquake” in Lebanon that would re-write Lebanese history (section 97).This statement, from a legal point of view, is ridiculous. Two unknown people are talking in ambiguities. How can Syria respond to such an accusation if it does not know the name of the witness or of the officer? Had the report said: Syrian officer X told witness Y said that an “earthquake” would happen in Lebanon, then Syria would have no choice but to question and arrest Mr Y. This same witness says that he had visited several military bases in Lebanon and at one base he had seen “a Mitsubishi van” and not “the Mitsubishi van” that was used to carry the explosives to kill Hariri on February 14 (section 98).

The reasons mentioned above, the testimony of Jamil al-Sayyed, the innocence of the four officers, and the fact that nothing has been found to incriminate any Syrian in the Harriri Case all make Syria’s case all the more legitimate, before the United Nations.

Ban Ki Moon, however, said that bringing investigating Mehlis’ findings were “not in my domain.” If that is not in his domain, one wonders, what is the Secretary-General expected to do when someone carrying the UN name releases a report that is contested by parties involved, and which jeopardizes credibility of the United Nations?

On the UN website, Ban writes: “As Secretary-General, I resolve to: “Lead by example; Seek excellence with humility; Set the highest ethical standard; Pursue dialogue and engagement; Play the role of harmonizer and bridge-builder; Make transparency and accountability the cornerstone of my tenure; Be animated by both passion and compassion in achieving our goals; Be sensitive to the concerns of all Member States, big and small.”

From where Syria sees things, Ban Ki Moon fails in all eight objectives, if Detlev Mehlis is not questioned for what he said about Syria, in 2005.

Sami Moubayed is editor-in-chief of Forward Magazine in Syria.

September 23rd, 2009, 10:16 am


majedkhaldoun said:

President Obama speech at the UN is an excellent speech, well crafted, he spoke directly and spontaneous, and was not reading from a text, he talked about Israel occupation in 1967 of palastinian land, refer to it as occupation, by that he implies it is not a conflict about disputed land, he defended the right of palastinians to live in a country they call home land, and stress the end of threatening and killing civilian, he mentioned jerusalem as negotiating issue and this means that he refuses the Israeli point that jerusalem is not negotiable.he was steadfast that settlement is not acceptable.
the zionists will not happy with it.
Neten spoke yesterday,confusing the issues, deceiving the american people, and practically insulting them, he said they want us to accept palastinian state but they refuse to recognize Israel as a jewish state, the Arab are willing to recognize Israel as Israeli state ,but not as a jewish state, which is religous state, palastine is not a religous state.

September 23rd, 2009, 11:17 am


Akbar Palace said:

palastine is not a religous state


If Palestine is not a religious state, why has the Palestinian government consistently required all Jewish settlers to leave Palestinian terrortory? Why can’t the PA deal with Jewish villages in Palestine like Israel can secure Arab villages in Israel?

he mentioned jerusalem as negotiating issue and this means that he refuses the Israeli point that jerusalem is not negotiable

Sorry to burst your bubble, but EVERYTHING is negotiable. Don’t you remember that Israel offered half of the Old City to Arafat and that parts of Israel would be transferred to Palestine in return for areas that some settlements are located on the WB?

September 23rd, 2009, 12:54 pm


why-discuss said:

Amir in Tel Aviv

But you need to review your image of a Jew:
The kind of Jew you “like”, is the old Jew; the obedient Jew,
the submissive Jew, the Jew that gets orders from all, and does not
have the permission to reject, the Jew that doesn’t have effect on
his, or his people’s faith. The Jew with no rights. The Jew that
pays taxes, and shuts his mouth.

This kind of a Jew is history, my precious Jad.

It is sad that you have not overcome your persecution feelings, it seems to distort and blur your views.

September 23rd, 2009, 1:55 pm


majedkhaldoun said:

A .P.
Any smart man recognizes that palastine is not a word refer to religion, but jewish is , the settlers are military posts and not civilian,if they are civilian, then they have to apply for palastinian citizenship, and be loyal to palastine and must abandon their israeli citizenship.
And please stop spining.

September 23rd, 2009, 4:52 pm


Akbar Palace said:

Any smart man recognizes that palastine is not a word refer to religion, but jewish is…


You side-stepped my question. Why does the PA require Jews to leave Palestine? Why can’t they absorb Jews like Israel absorbs Muslims?

the settlers are military posts and not civilian,if they are civilian, then they have to apply for palastinian citizenship, and be loyal to palastine and must abandon their israeli citizenship.

That’s my point, the PA, in all the negotiations up until now, will not even entertain the idea of Jews applying for Palestinian citizenship. Jews are REQUIRED to vacate all Palestinian terrortories.

And please stop spining.

No “spin”; just fact. Speaking of “spin” Ariel, Efrat, and several other Israeli villages are basically bedroom communities like Tulkarem.

September 23rd, 2009, 8:02 pm


Yossi said:


You know very well that the PA is considering accepting Jewish settlers are residents and/or citizens. This is on the table. It was expressed more than once recently. But as you can imagine, it’s not an easy thing for the Palestinians to offer, given the arrogant and destructive manner that the settlers have been reputed for. Maybe it doesn’t apply to all of them but you know what they say about rotten apples.

Now as far as spin is concerned… be honest and admit why are you harping on this issue? Do your American relatives in Efrat wish to live in a Palestinian state as equal? If yes, then let them say so loud and clear. If not, stop spinning.

The truth of the matter is that Jews in the big settlement blocs would like to live in Israel and would move back to Israel if Israel were forced out of the big blocs. These are the relatively sane settlers, that moved there in order to increase their quality of life. The crazies that live outside of the blocs are the type of crazy militiamen that no sane country would want to adopt.

So what are we talking about here, really?

PS: I would salute your relatives if they chose to live as equals in Palestine and participated in the building of that (non-religious) nation.

September 23rd, 2009, 8:21 pm


norman said:

This is interestin , DR landis in the news,
By the way where are you Alex?.

Syria makes overture to U.S.


Syria is reorganizing its foreign intelligence operations and sidelining officials with unsavory pasts in an effort by President Bashar al-Assad to consolidate control and improve Syria’s relations with the United States, Middle East specialists and former and current U.S. officials say.

Richard Norton, a Levant specialist at Boston University, former CIA counterterrorism chief Vincent Cannistraro and two serving U.S. intelligence officials who asked not to be named because they are not authorized to talk to the press told The Washington Times that the task of overseeing Syria’s foreign intelligence operations has been transferred from the heavy-handed military intelligence agency, known as the Mukhabarat, to Syria’s General Intelligence Agency (GI), which formerly handled domestic matters and now oversees relations with the United States and Saudi Arabia.

The GI is headed by Gen. Ali Mamluk, who is advised by Samir al Taqi, a former legislator, the sources said. Mr. al Taqi runs the Al-Sharq Center for International Relations in Damascus and is associated with the Center for Syrian Studies at St. Andrews University in Scotland.

The intelligence shakeup began in February and continues. Mr. Cannistraro said much of the pressure for the transfer “came from the Saudis,” who have been furious with Syria since the 2005 assassination in Lebanon of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri, a Saudi ally. Syria is suspected of involvement in the killing but has denied responsibility.

Mr. Norton added that the change was made by Syria to avoid “queering its current dialogue with the United States.”

In general, the functions of Syrian military intelligence appear to have narrowed to providing assistance to the U.N. special tribunal investigating the Hariri murder and seeking to shield the Assad regime from blame.

Gen. Assef Shawkat, Mr. Assad’s brother-in-law and the former head of Syrian military intelligence, who is rumored to have been involved in the Hariri killing, has been assigned to assist Maj. Gen. Arnine Charabi, chief of the Palestine section, who is working with British law firms to develop a scenario of the crime aimed at exonerating Syria from responsibility, according to the two serving U.S. intelligence officials.

There have been reports that Mr. Shawkat’s family, including Mr. Assad’s sister, Bushra, has been exiled to a Persian Gulf country and much of the familys property has been seized. However, one of the U.S. officials said this was disinformation.

Joshua Landis, a Syria specialist at the University of Oklahoma, said, “Shawkat is not out of the intelligence business.”

The shakeup appears to be an attempt by Mr. Assad to further consolidate his power internally.

“We’re talking about a changing of the guard, being done quite gradually in terms of political consistency,” said one of the serving U.S. officials. “It’s a transition of power – a slow process of putting people who are loyal to him, walking away from the old military elements of his father and relying on a civilian component instead.”

Mr. Norton agreed.

“What Bashar is doing is sidelining the old Ba’athist guard in military intelligence and replacing them with civilians loyal to himself,” Mr. Norton said.

Mr. Norton added that the changes are part of the president’s efforts to consolidate Syria’s key governing institutions under his direct control and that this was evidence that at least some of Mr. Assad’s inner circle consists of “reformist, smart, street-wise young technocrats” who want better relations with the West.

President Obama, who has assigned a high priority to advancing an Arab-Israeli peace agreement, has sought to improve relations with Syria in order to move the process forward.

Yet the U.S. has not yet named a new ambassador to Damascus despite earlier pledges to do so, and the administration still objects to Syrian support for Hezbollah, a Lebanese militant group and political party that is also backed by Iran.

In Lebanon, the administration is disappointed that months have gone by without formation of a new government despite the election victory of a pro-Western alliance. Yet Mr. Norton said he had not detected any “Syrian string-pulling” in the Lebanese elections in which the pro-West coalition beat an alliance led by Hezbollah.

Mr. Norton also said Syria is loosening its grip on Hezbollah.

“Hezbollah has obtained a degree of autonomy and is no longer a Syrian client,” Mr. Norton said, adding: “Syria is no longer obtrusive in Lebanese politics and no longer is pulling the strings when it comes to Hezbollah.”

Many remain skeptical of Syrian good will

David Schenker, a Levant expert at The Washington Institute for Near East Policy, said, “Syria runs hot and cold. When they are interested in improving relations or pleasing us, they toss us a bone or they look to protect their flank.”

He said that the day after the Hariri murder, Syrian intelligence delivered a high-value target to U.S. operatives in the hope of deflecting popular outrage at Syria’s alleged responsibility for the murder.

“Its pretty typical,” he said.

According to Mr. Cannistraro, “Syria has tried to cooperate with the United States in intelligence matters, only to be either snubbed or ignored” on occasion. He said Syria in 2003 offered to station U.S. forces on its soil before the Iraq war, and the Syrians opened their intelligence books, which identify assets in Europe, including front companies, in an attempt to track down al Qaeda members.

Mr. Cannistraro added that Syria “has given us invaluable help in hunting down members of al Qaeda, and they were instrumental in ex-filtrating some major Iraqi fugitives back to Baghdad after the 2003 war.”

Two former U.S. intelligence officials said Syria cooperated with the United States last year in an attack that killed Abu Ghadiyah, a former lieutenant of the infamous Abu Musab Zarqawi, the late al Qaeda leader in Iraq. He was killed along with eight civilians near Abu Kamal about five miles inside Syria, foiling a planned attack on Iraqi civilians, according to the former U.S. officials. They spoke on condition that they not be named because they were discussing sensitive information.

The CIA would not confirm the account.

“We do not, as a rule – despite the inaccuracies that sometimes appear – comment on reports of relationships with foreign intelligence organizations,” said a CIA spokeswoman, Marie Harf.

U.S. officials say Syria still permits some Arab suicide bombers to transit into Iraq and controls much of Lebanon’s economy by means of counterfeiting, money laundering and drug trafficking.

“Those things are endemic to the way Lebanon is run,” said former CIA official Judith Yaphe. All sides of every political persuasion take part.”

Behind the scenes, according to Mr. Norton and Mr. Landis, however, U.S.-Syria relations are improving slowly.

Representatives of U.S. Central Command recently visited Damascus, followed by another U.S. military delegation that discussed border security and increased intelligence-sharing. According to Mr. Landis, Syria and Washington are also talking about easing U.S. sanctions against Syria.

Mr. Landis cautioned, however, that while there are people in Mr. Assad’s inner circle who want closer ties with the United States, “the Syrians don’t think that Obama can change the Middle East. Intelligence-sharing is good, and dialogue is constructive, but we will keep trying to force them out of Lebanon and killing Hezbollah, and Damascus will hang on to Iran and its ties to Hamas and Hezbollah, and Israel will cling to the Golan.”

In other words, all of this “could go nowhere,” he said.

September 23rd, 2009, 10:05 pm


majedkhaldoun said:

You are spining again.
“like Israel absorbs Muslims?”
did Israel allow the palastinian refugee to come back to their homes, and infact Israel decree all kind of stupid laws to give trouble to the palastinian where they can not get back to their homes, we see that in Jerusalem, making their lives miserable.
please you either tell the truth or do not talk.

September 23rd, 2009, 10:53 pm


Shai said:


When was the last time Israel “absorbed” Muslims?

Yossi as usual is being very diplomatic and polite. I’ll try to be the latter, but not the first. I bet there are less Jewish settlers in the West Bank that will be willing to live in a religious or non-religious sovereign state of Palestine than there are words in this paragraph. You know this quite well. Yossi won’t need to “hail” any of your relatives or friends living in Efrat, or in any other Jewish settlement in the West Bank, because none of them will live under a Palestinian flag. None of them have ever fought for Palestinian rights, for Palestinian equality, for Palestinian independence, or for “absorbing” the Palestinians into Israel. All of them, without exception, were perfectly fine living in a territory that they called “Israel”, while being surrounded by people they never called “Israeli”.

There’s a reason why most Palestinians hate your friends and family in Efrat, and there’s a reason why your friends and family will not accept Palestinian citizenship.

Your theoretical exercise is a poor attempt to depict the Palestinians as innately anti-Jewish. But it is a spin, because you know that had you been a Palestinian living in a West Bank village, just under a Jewish settlement, you too would hate Israel and Israelis. You would not entertain the idea of keeping the same Jewish settlers that stole your ancestral land and built fancy houses and neighborhoods atop hills that overlooked your poor, dirty, and crowded villages for over 40 years. The LAST thing you’d want, is to see those “faces” again. Your hatred would not stem from Racism, but from pain and suffering, experienced for so long.

If you cannot see that, and cannot differentiate between an “anti-religious” Palestine, and an “anti-Israeli/Occupier” Palestine, then you cannot understand the conflict from more than just your angle.

September 24th, 2009, 6:20 am


Akbar Palace said:

The Evil Zionists (con’t)

You know very well that the PA is considering accepting Jewish settlers are residents and/or citizens. This is on the table. It was expressed more than once recently.


No, I was not aware of this. Please show/link the proposal. As far as I know, there has never been any proposal to allow Jews to remain in Palestine as citizens.

But as you can imagine, it’s not an easy thing for the Palestinians to offer, given the arrogant and destructive manner that the settlers have been reputed for.

And, it is not a easy thing for Israelis to give up their claims to the Old CIty of Jerusalem as well as the large communities in the West Bank like Ariel, Maale Adumim, Efrat, and access to Hebron. I don’t know who is more destructive, the settlers, the Tanzim, or Hamas.

Now as far as spin is concerned… be honest and admit why are you harping on this issue? Do your American relatives in Efrat wish to live in a Palestinian state as equal? If yes, then let them say so loud and clear. If not, stop spinning.

I am sure there are many Jews who would like to stay where they are if given the opportunity by the PA. Of course, they have to weigh these promises with the reality of the Palestinian leadership and the historical data points like 1929 Hebron. But if you’re going to demonize Israel for how they’ve managed to protect Israeli-Arab communities, I would hope you would expect at least the same from the PA. This is a peace process, not an appeasement.

The truth of the matter is that Jews in the big settlement blocs would like to live in Israel and would move back to Israel if Israel were forced out of the big blocs. These are the relatively sane settlers, that moved there in order to increase their quality of life. The crazies that live outside of the blocs are the type of crazy militiamen that no sane country would want to adopt.

You may refer to them as “crazies”, I just think of them as religious and idealistic. If the Israeli government told them they had to leave, they would end up leaving as they’ve done before. Of course they would prefer to live in a democracy that offers them protection rather than live in a thugocracy that portrays them as evil baby-killers where the trees and rocks will identifty them as Jews and infidels.

“The Day of Judgement will not come about until Muslims fight the Jews (killing the Jews), when the Jew will hide behind stones and trees. The stones and trees will say O Muslims, O Abdulla, there is a Jew behind me, come and kill him. Only the Gharkad tree, would not do that because it is one of the trees of the Jews.” (related by al-Bukhari and Muslim).

So what are we talking about here, really?

We’re talking about land for peace.

PS: I would salute your relatives if they chose to live as equals in Palestine and participated in the building of that (non-religious) nation.

I would too.

did Israel allow the palastinian refugee to come back to their homes

Did the Palestinians and the 5 Arab states who invaded Palestine to destroy Israel accept the UN Partition Plan? No. So the next time the Arabs decide to go to war again, don’t plan to set the clock back. Those Arabs who remained in Israel (about 150,000) we eventually granted citizenship and today have full rights. There are now over 1 Million Israeli Arabs, and the majority prefer to remain Israeli citizen rather than become citizens of the PA.

and infact Israel decree all kind of stupid laws to give trouble to the palastinian where they can not get back to their homes, we see that in Jerusalem, making their lives miserable.

Over 1/4 million Israeli Arabs live in Jerusalem. Their lives are so miserable, they prefer to remain Israeli.

please you either tell the truth or do not talk.

Let me think about it.

Shai asks:

When was the last time Israel “absorbed” Muslims?

Answer: 2009

…there’s a reason why your friends and family will not accept Palestinian citizenship.

Fear for their lives is probably the main reason.

Your theoretical exercise is a poor attempt to depict the Palestinians as innately anti-Jewish.

Anti-semitism in the Palestinian media, clergy, and in government charters is not theoretical. It is a fact.

Hopefully, the peace process will deal with that.

You would not entertain the idea of keeping the same Jewish settlers that stole your ancestral land and built fancy houses and neighborhoods atop hills that overlooked your poor, dirty, and crowded villages for over 40 years.


I am sure there will come a time, when the Palestinians will stop ruminating about their stolen land and accept Israel as a peaceful neighbor. I think Israeli Arabs have. I also hope that when this day comes, they will take the billions of dollars of aide and spend it on Palestinian infrustructure instead of padding the wallets of government VIPs. Much of the pain and suffering is self-inflicted per “martyrdom” theology where the people are asked to sacrifice until Palestine is freed from the Zionists.

Pain and suffering could have been erased if Palestinians and their government accepted the peace process Israel signed under the Oslo accords and the proposals by Barak.

September 24th, 2009, 8:21 am


idaf said:

Check this interview (and new book) with Vali Nasr with Jon Stewart:

This is how you succeed in “changing” the Muslim world. all you have to really do is ignore WINEP “analysis” and the neo-cons ideologies, drop the sanctions business once and for all and let the middle class grow.

Turkey is cited by Nasr as the example to follow.

September 24th, 2009, 9:24 am


Akbar Palace said:

The Lack of an Arab Middle Class is America’s Fault (con’t)


If I had the opportunity, I would ask Jon Stewart and Mr. Nasr about the fact that there are no sanctions on any North African government, Egypt, Gulf state, or Turkey. So where’s the Middle Class?

I would also ask them why we should reward Arab and Muslim despots with free trade so they can divert more government money into purchasing arms for terrorists.

You know, small little issues like that.

BTW – Jon Stewart is another brain-dead Jew who still doesn’t “get it”.

September 24th, 2009, 10:12 am


jad said:

Why non of the environmental organization group in syria nore the ministry of environment do criticize the cement factory monster in the middle of the syrian coast area for the environment disator it keeps doing over there? isn’t it their job to spread awareness and protect people health?
Isn’t that factory one of the most dangerous things the government create there? Until when are they keeping it? Isn’t there a limit of the damage the Syrian environment and people health can take?
they can use that land for many more profitable, environment and human friendly lands…it’s so very stupid.

September 24th, 2009, 11:15 am


majedkhaldoun said:

you are not telling the truth,and you are spining,
you avoid answering my question, DID ISRAEL ALLOW THE PALASTINIAN REFUGEE TO COME BACK HOME?the answer is simple , it is NO.
you mention the arab nations did not accept UN division resolution, Did Israel accept? or would Israel accept now?
You mention that the majority of Palastinian living in Jerusalem would prefer to live in Israel, this is frankly a lie
I suggest you tell the truth.

September 24th, 2009, 1:07 pm


Akbar Palace said:

you are not telling the truth,and you are spining


Please tell me what I lied about. Thanks.


You are right. Israel did NOT permit Palestinian refugees from returning to their homes. I also stated facts such as about 150,000 Arabs remained in Israel during and after the creation of Israel, and that over 1 million Israeli citizens today are Arabs.

Did Israel accept?

Yes Israel accepted the 1947 UN Partition Plan. The Arabs did not. The Palestinians had no real government at the time.

would Israel accept now?

Would the Arabs accept the 1947 Partition Plan now?

Hind sight is 20/20. I think both parties should accept something similar to what Clinton proposed during Camp David 2000/Taba.

You mention that the majority of Palastinian living in Jerusalem would prefer to live in Israel, this is frankly a lie
I suggest you tell the truth.

It should read that the “majority of Palestinians living is ISRAEL would prefer to live in Israel”. Sorry for the misunderstanding.

September 24th, 2009, 1:47 pm


Yossi said:


I have comments in moderation, probably two, can you release the latter one, and delete the earlier one? (added some missing text… thanks…) 🙂

September 24th, 2009, 8:47 pm


idaf said:

Lebanese politicians are funny. All parties there are rejoicing because 2 foreign countries’ leaders met on foreign land..

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad “stole the spotlight” in Saudi:

And even the vehemently anti-Syria Siniora enjoyed a very warm 4 minute personal discussion with Asad!:

So that’s it?! After 4 years of that soap opera, a hand shake and 4 minutes of warm personal discussion was all what is needed to satisfy the M14 guys?
Did M14 finally accept that there is no Syrian connection with the Hariri tribunal? Or is Siniora just obeying his Saudi patrons? My only concern is that all of T_desco’s impressive work on the Hariri affair over the past 4 years would go in vain if the M14 loose interest in the Hariri affair 😉

September 24th, 2009, 9:32 pm


idaf said:

Turkish Chief Rabbi Haliva Met with al-Assad
September 24, 2009
Turkish Rabbi Yitzchak Haliva reportedly met with Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad, Kav HaChadash reports.

It appears Turkey’s prime minister invited religious leaders from Turkey to join him and al-Assad in Saudi Arabia to mark the end of Ramadan.

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan explained he wanted local religious leaders to get to know the Syrian leader. Rabbi Haliva met with Assad together with Erdogan. Assad reportedly told the rav there is Jewish community in Syria, resulting in the rabbi replying that he is aware because his community sends them matzos for Pessach. In addition, he plays a vital role in providing “religious services” like schita and bris milah.

The rabbi reportedly called on the Syrian leader to do everything possible towards advancing peace with Israel to bring an end to the orphans on both sides. The Turkish leader added that he is doing his utmost towards achieving this goal.

September 24th, 2009, 9:33 pm


majedkhaldoun said:

Ambassodor Imad Mustapha was not invited to Clinton Iftar dinner, I met Imad and talked to him I very much wish Bashar Assad replaces him, send him to zimbabwi.

September 24th, 2009, 9:46 pm


jad said:

I think you are a little bit incorrect about the invitation, the invitation was sent to the Syrian Embassy in Washington, the ambassador couldn’t make it so they send somebody else instead.
About your wish of sending Mr Moustafa to Zimbabwe, it’s really funny (lol)…Couldn’t you at least choose somewhere with nicer weather to send him to after Washington :).
Out of curiosity, what was the bed impression or the negative manners you got from him to wish that.

September 25th, 2009, 2:04 am


Yossi said:


My comment to you was too media-rich and nobody is releasing it from moderation here, so I made it into a blog post on my blog.

Please read it, although I have zero expectations of you actually internalizing any of what you’ll see and read, sometimes miracles do happen.

September 25th, 2009, 2:46 am


t_desco said:

He was allegedly linked to the “Ahmed Miqati and Ismaíl Al-Khatib network” (Mehlis):

Australian man jailed nine years for DIY jihad book

SYDNEY — An Australian ex-airline employee was jailed for nine years on Friday for producing a do-it-yourself jihad manual including how-to guides on bomb-making, assassinations and shooting down planes.

Former Qantas cabin cleaner Belal Khazaal was arrested in June 2004 over his Arabic-language “Provisions of the Rules of Jihad: Short Judicial Rulings and Organisational Instructions for Fighters and Mujahideen Against Infidels”.

The 110-page book by Lebanese-born Khazaal, 39, included a hit-list naming former US president George W. Bush and his CIA chief George Tenet, and advice on letter-bombs, booby-traps and kidnappings.

Khazaal was arrested less than a year after being sentenced in absentia to 10 years’ hard labour by a Lebanese court for alleged involvement in funding a bomb attack on a Beirut McDonald’s restaurant, along with other blasts. (…)

The book was posted on a radical Islamist site under the pseudonym Abu Mohamed Attawheedy, and examined why some assassinations failed while others succeeded, such the 1981 killing of former Eqyptian president Anwar Sadat.

September 25th, 2009, 3:30 am


Akbar Palace said:

3 more terror plots uncovered in the US:,2933,555340,00.html

The morning talk shows are applauding Netanyahu’s speech at the UN:

September 25th, 2009, 8:52 am


Amir in Tel Aviv said:

Netanyahu is absolutely right. It’s the 9th century against the 21th.

I’m now reading the Hebrew translation of ‘The Autumn of the Middle Ages’
by Johan Huizinga.

Although the books tells the story of how it was living back then,
in (today’s) France and the Low-Lands, I’m amazed about
how much can this book describe the way of life in the today’s Arab

September 25th, 2009, 10:15 am


Hassan said:

Syrian integration and normalization looks like a fairly remote possibility. Apparently the Iraqi government also doubts that Bashar will end his policy of supporting violence in the region.

Iraq’s prime minister says efforts to resolve dispute with Syria ‘almost hopeless’

BAGHDAD — Iraq’s prime minister said Thursday he has nearly lost hope of resolving a dispute with neighbouring Syria over claims it is harbouring Saddam Hussein loyalists responsible for bombings that killed about 100 people in Iraq.

Baghdad has long pushed Damascus to extradite members of Saddam’s outlawed Baath Party, and recently accused two Baathists living in Syria of financing and planning Aug. 19 attacks on the foreign and finance ministries in the Iraqi capital.

The attacks seriously damaged Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki’s efforts to assure Iraqis that the U.S.-trained Iraqi security forces are able to maintain stability in the country after a U.S. troop pullout.

“Right from the start, we expected that Syrian side would not respond positively to the evidence and demands from Iraq, and now we are almost hopeless on this issue,” al-Maliki said in remarks posted on a government Web site.

Syria has refused to hand the suspects over, saying that Iraq’s government has failed to provide convincing evidence of their involvement in the devastating bombings.

As the dispute escalated, both countries withdrew their ambassadors in a serious setback to efforts at repairing relationships that had been strained for decades under Saddam’s rule. Turkey and other leaders in the region have tried to mediate in the dispute.

Al-Maliki’s government has asked the U.N. Security Council to lead an investigation into the August bombings and establish an international tribunal to try the suspects.

“Arab efforts aimed at reconciliation with Syria did not materialize,” al-Maliki said. “However, we welcome any effort to put an end to foreign interference (in Iraq).”

The Iraqi prime minister also said he was against suggestions to shift the issue from the United Nations to the Arab League.

“We are going to the international community and will follow any means to halt the murder of Iraqis,” he said.

Copyright © 2009 The Canadian Press. All rights reserved.

September 25th, 2009, 11:39 am


majedkhaldoun said:

Dear Jad;
Imad Mustapha 1)He did not improve the relation between USA and Syria, infact at his tenur this relationship deteriorated.
2) he did not serve the syrian community in USA,he does not even respond to our in1quiry.
what was his credentials to be Ambassodor to the most important country in the world? his father in law!this remind me with the corrupted ottman era.

September 25th, 2009, 4:47 pm


jad said:

Thank you Majed for your honest answer about Mr. Mostafa.
I think most of the Syrian ambassadors got their positions not because they deserve it but because somone knows somone and they put them there for the status and the good pay so for them communities are the last thing to care about.
I don’t know mr moustafa so I can’t tell, but I trust your word on the issue, but I wouldn’t blame him for the Syrian-American relation detoriartion, it’s not his fault and I don’t know if any of us being in his position what help can we do to make things better.

September 25th, 2009, 5:55 pm


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