Syria’s President Says He Needs Iran’s Support

President Bashar al-Assad Spoke With ABC's Diane Sawyer About Criticisms Against Him

Feb. 6, 2007 — – Although Damascus is in many ways a modern city, ancient hatreds are flaring up within it, bleeding across borders from Iran to Israel to Lebanon.

Some say Syrian President Bashar al-Assad is to blame for the recent unrest in the region.

It's a charge that has been passed down to Assad from his father, Hafez al-Assad, the former president of Syria who Richard Nixon once said had a touch of genius playing three-D chess to keep Syria secure in the Middle East — tilting a little to America's enemies, then tilting a little back.

Now, Assad, 41, is at the center of a crisis that would challenge even his father.

In a few months, a U.N. tribunal is expected to accuse Syria, possibly even Assad's brother-in-law, and the chief of military intelligence of political assassination in Lebanon.

While Americans insist Assad pull away from a meddling and menacing Iran, Assad says Syria and Iran have been allies since his dad's presidency — for 25 years.

In an exclusive interview, Assad told ABC's Diane Sawyer that Syria needed Iran and that there was no evidence that Syria had a hand in the assassination of Lebanon's former prime minister. He also spoke about human rights issues that had been brought against Syria.

Assad: So should I tell them, "You have to go away from me. I don't need your support," when the rest of the world is trying to isolate Syria? Of course not. We need the support of Iran. We need the support of every other country.

Sawyer: The United States is reportedly, next week, this week going to announce the documentation it has of Iranian military support for insurgents in Iraq. Do you believe this is happening?

Assad: We cannot say concretely what's happening there. But before the war in Iraq … they say there's WMD in Iraq. We didn't find any weapons of mass destruction. They said there's a link between Saddam and al Qaeda. It hasn't been proven yet. So why should we believe them?

Sawyer: A quick question about Lebanon. As you know the United Nations has a tribunal and they are investigating the assassination of former Prime Minister Rafiq Hariri and they have said they have forensic, they have financial, they have witness evidence that it leads to Syria.

Assad: Yeah.

Sawyer: If indeed, they have evidence and they present it, would you turn over to them, any Syrian official who is implicated?

Assad: I said that publicly, if anyone that could have been involved in such a crime is a traitor. So before turning him over, he will be tried under our laws and our constitution.

Sawyer: Before turning him over?

Assad: Of course in our tribunal, yes, because it's a matter of sovereignty.

Sawyer: Because you know the implication is they have evidence about your brother-in-law?

Assad: If they have any evidence, any concrete evidence, they have to show it off. We haven't had any such evidence. We only have accusations. No evidence at all.

Sawyer: And the report that PM Hariri came here, met with you, and I think the quote they gave, that the tribunal gave — "You said that you would break Lebanon over his head" — and he left so angry that he had to [take] blood pressure medication.

Assad: [I have] heard this story many times, but this is just a political accusation. We only heard these stories after the assassination. Why didn't we hear these stories before the assassination? [These are] only false pretenses.

Sawyer: You have said to Israel, "Call my bluff." Call my bluff. … What did you mean? What do they not know about what you're prepared to do?

Assad: The basics is the peace process, which depends on a land for peace. Are they willing to give back our land and withdraw completely? I asked for negotiations many times, especially the last few years and their Prime Minister [Ehud] Olmert said we are not going to talk to Syria.

Sawyer: Of course the reason they say is Hamas. And that not only does the leader of Hamas live here, has a base here, but gets financial support and political support from you. When you hear that buses of children or marketplaces or restaurants have been bombed by members of Hamas … do you denounce it? Is it terrorism?

Assad: First of all, we are against violence in general. We don't believe in violence. But it's not enough to like or not or to dislike. The most important thing is to deal with the events. If we don't like it, it won't stop it. You have people who kill Israelis, but you have people that kill civilians, Palestinian civilians every day in the Palestinian territory.

Sawyer: But the Israelis say you can stop it and you can withdraw financial support and you can withdraw political support.

Assad: First of all, they don't have any financial support. Their base and their grass roots are in Palestine, they are not in Syria. There are only few, less than 10, in Syria.

Sawyer: Is there something new in the peace process?

Assad: No, nothing new, because as I said earlier this administration doesn't have the will, and it's really difficult to move on the peace track without the United States.

Sawyer: And chance Hamas will volunteer recognition of Israel's right to exist?

Assad: It's a matter of dialogue. If you want them to do so, to be involved in peace, you better talk to them. Convince them.

Sawyer: As I came here, human rights groups sent me the names of what they say are political prisoners and journalistic prisoners. People who [are] imprisoned and treated horribly just for writing, writing criticism of the government.

Assad: This is not true. We don't have such political prisoners. We have two kinds of prisoners. Either involved in terrorist attacks or breaking the law of Syria.

Sawyer: To the Americans that read the Human Rights Watch and that read the human rights reports.

Assad: Yeah, we don't say that we are perfect and whenever I talk about this issue I always say we are still at the very beginning. We still have a long way to go. Actually the democratic development has suffered from the serious setback recently especially after the war on Iraq. It's not only what you want to do. It's not only a matter of laws. You need the development of the society and you need the political atmosphere and you need the security.

Sawyer: But you were educated in England and you saw. … Press freedom, political freedom. Why not have complete democracy here? Why not have Western-style democracy in Syria?

Assad: Well, I was educated in Syria. I went to London when I was 27 years old. But again, the democracy is a tool to a better life, but it is a part of the political development. And the political development should be part of the society development. It needs time. You cannot develop society suddenly just like this.

The democracy in your country and in Europe is a result of long history. It didn't happen suddenly. So you can't talk about abrupt changes in our region. It's a matter of time, and it should go this way, but not according to Western standards — unless we change our customs and habits. So it's going to be democracy, but according to our standards.

Comments (147)

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101. ugarit said:

Akbar Palace:

You need to read The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine so you can improve your knowledge base.

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February 8th, 2007, 12:31 pm


102. ugarit said:

Akbar Palace: “If you care to read books by Ilan Pappe, you are welcome to do so. When, the War of Independence began in April/May of 1948, the Haggana was able to repel several Arab armies.”

So! BTW, Israeli forces outnumbered all Arab forces combined in arms and men.

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February 8th, 2007, 12:33 pm


103. SSNP-SCP said:

“I suggest you go to Turkey and live under Turkish rule. You will not be welcome in Beirut or anywhere in Lebanon. I also advise you never to venture to come to Lebanon for your own sake.” – Gibran

wow man, didnt know you represented the lebanese government or people. Are you some sort of ambassador or little warlord… wait perhaps you are Geagea himself. surely its possible for a random individual to express freedom of speach in the only arab democracy in the middle east if they chose to. or am i confusing Lebanon with the Utopian Israel?

so the Lebanese army exchanged fire with Israel? i bet somehow somewhere the fault and blame will precipitate on to syria. Mid East politics is just far too predictable. One good outcome i guess is that it enriches our sense of sarcasm.
Bottom line, fakhar yeta2esh ba3do.

And for Akbar P.
It was “tragic” that Jordan and Egypt didn’t create a Palestinian State in the West Bank and Gaza when they had the opportunity (from -48 to -67). But somehow, i seriously doubt zionists terrorist would stand idle waiting for such opportunity to be taken. wouldn’t you say? or are they humanists enough to care?
For your benefit,yes, Zionists aren’t the only party you need to blame. zionism is cancer. i bet i put a smile on your face now. gives you something to chew on.

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February 8th, 2007, 12:40 pm


104. SSNP-SCP said:

so lets back track for a min there.
how is it that “A number of Arab towns were uprooted, and a number of Arabs fled.” not a matter of concern and brushed against to imply as a means to an end? isn’t this very statement the source of the problem?
and 20% isn’t considered ethnic cleansing in your book? who cares what value your book or opinion hold when it comes to wiping out 20% of a population excluding the uprooting process which probably consisted over 1.5 million? your hear broken over 1% of 600,000? well, in my book, your 1% is negligent and it ought to have been 20% just for equal measures. Tragic really.

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February 8th, 2007, 1:05 pm


105. Sami D said:

US blocking Syria-Israel peace treaty The Golan, it seems, is to be used by the US via Israel, to extract concessions from Syria to help the ailing US hegemony in the region. (As an aside, this is also an indication that Israel and its lobby have influence but not control of US policy, that Israel is a tool of US dominance in the region — if this was in doubt.)

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February 8th, 2007, 2:20 pm


106. Saladin said:

The US and Israel
The Real Failed States


Growing references by the US and Israel to the Muslim Middle East as a collection of failed states are part of the propaganda campaign to strip legitimacy from Muslim states and set them up for attack. These accusations spring from the hubris of many Israelis, who see themselves as “God’s Chosen People,” a guarantee of immunity instead of a call to responsibility, and many Americans, who regard their country as “a city upon a hill” that is “the light of the world.” But do the US and Israel fit the profile of successful states, or are they failed states themselves?

A compelling case can be made that the US and Israel are failed states. Israel allegedly is a democracy, but it is controlled by a minority of Zionist zealots who commit atrocities against Palestinians in order to provoke terrorist acts that are then used to perpetuate the right-wing’s hold on political power. Israel has perfected blowback as a tool of political control. The Israeli state relies entirely on coercion and has no diplomacy. It stands isolated in the world except for the US, which sustains Israel’s existence with money, military weapons, and the US veto in the United Nations.

Israel survives on life support from the US. A state that cannot exist without outside support is a failed state.

What about the United States? The US is an even greater failure. Its existence is not dependent on life support from outside. The US has failed in another way. Not only has the state failed, but the society as well.

The past six years have seen the rise of dictatorial power in the executive and the collapse of the separation of powers mandated by the US Constitution. The president has declared himself to be “The Decider.” The power to decide includes the meaning and intent of laws passed by Congress and whether the laws apply to the executive. President Bush has openly acknowledged that he disobeyed the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act and unlawfully spied on Americans without warrants. Bush and his Attorney General could not make it more clear that their position is that Bush is above the law.

It is also Bush’s position that he is above the Constitution. Bush and his Attorney General maintain that as commander-in-chief in “the war on terror,” the executive has the power to decide the applicability of civil liberties guaranteed in the Constitution. The US Department of Justice (sic) has taken the position that this decision is an executive decision alone beyond the authority of the judiciary and the legislature.

An enfeebled and eviscerated Congress has acquiesced in the growth of executive power, even legislating unconstitutional executive powers into law. The Decider has grabbed the power to arrest people on accusation alone and to detain them indefinitely without charges or evidence. He has obtained the right to torture those whom he arrests. The Geneva Conventions do not apply to the US president, declares the Regime. Bush has obtained the right to commit people to death in military tribunals on the basis of hearsay and secret evidence alone. The Bush Regime has succeeded in moving the American state off the basis on which the Founding Fathers set it.

The Bush Regime led the American people to war in Iraq based entirely on lies and deception. This is a known and undisputed fact. Congress has done nothing whatsoever about this monstrous crime and impeachable offense.

Under the Nuremberg standard, unprovoked aggression is a war crime. The US established this standard. Bush has violated it with impunity.

Bush and his Attorney General assert Bush’s power to attack Iran independently of a Congressional declaration of war or any form of congressional approval. Bush claims that his power to attack Iran is merely an extension of his present power to conduct war in Iraq, a power seized on the basis of lies and deception. Congress has taken no action to disabuse Bush of his presumption.

Bush’s preparations for attacking Iran are highly visible. The entire world can see the preparations and expects the attack. Congress is mute in the face of a catastrophic widening of a war to which a large majority of the American people are now opposed.

In national elections three months ago the American people used democracy in an unsuccessful attempt to restrain the Bush Regime from its warmongering ways by defeating the Republican Party and giving control of both houses of Congress to Democrats.

Instead of acting, the Democrats have postured.

Indeed, some have joined Bush in his warmongering. Hillary Clinton, regarded as the frontrunner for the Democratic Presidential nomination, recently declared at an affair hosted by the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, a leading instigator of war with Iran, that Iran is a danger to the US and a great threat to Israel.

Hillary’s claims are preposterous. Israel has large numbers of nuclear weapons and delivery systems. Iran has none. Iran has no ability to harm the US and would have no motive except for the Bush Regime’s gratuitous provocations. A state in which a leading contender for the presidential nomination can make utterly absurd claims and suffer no consequence is a failed state.

The United States is a failed state, because in the US it is not possible for leadership to emerge. Politics is controlled by powerful interest groups, such as AIPAC, the military-industrial complex, transnational corporations, and “security” agencies that are accumulating vast amounts of unaccountable power. The American people spoke in November and it means nothing whatsoever.

The people are enfeebled because the media no longer has independence. The US media serves as propagandist for the state. It cannot be otherwise in a highly concentrated media run not by journalists but by advertising executives protecting stock values that derive from federal broadcast licenses granted by the state.

Like the three monkeys, Congress sees no evil, the media speaks no evil, and the people hear no evil. In the US “news” consists of the government’s propaganda. “News” in America is exactly like the “news” in George Orwell’s 1984.

The US is a failed state, because it is not true to any of the principles upon which it was established. All over the world today, America is seen as a rogue state, a hegemonic evil, and as the greatest threat to peace and stability. In its new identify, America is the total opposite of the Founding Fathers intention. There is no greater failure than that.

Academics differentiate between failed states and rogue states. The US and Israel meet both criteria. The US and Israel lead the world in aggressive military actions and in killings of civilian populations. Both countries meet the main indicators of failed states as published in Foreign Policy’s 2005 Failed States Index.

The leading indicators of failed states are inequality (not merely poverty), “criminalization or delegitimization of the state, which occurs when state institutions are regarded as corrupt, illegal, or ineffective,” and “demographic factors, especially population pressures stemming from refugees” and “internally displaced populations.”

All economic indicators show that income and wealth inequality is rapidly increasing in the US. The growth in inequality is the result of the state’s policy that favors shareholders and corporate executives at the expense of American workers.

The income differences between Israelis and ghettoized Palestinians are huge.

Trials and investigations of leading political figures in the US and Israel are an ongoing occurrence. Currently, the former chief-of-staff of the vice president of the US is on trial for lying to the FBI in an attempt to obstruct an investigation into the Bush Regime’s illegal disclosure of an undercover CIA operative. The accused claims he is the fall guy for higher ups.

In Israel the president of the country is accused of rape and faces indictment.

Both the US and Israel routinely ignore international law and are accused of committing war crimes by human rights organizations. The US Congress stands revealed as totally ineffective and unwilling to constrain the executive. The American people have learned that they cannot change the government’s policies through elections. By fomenting the demise of the civil liberties that they are sworn to uphold, President Bush and Attorney General Gonzales have delegitimized the American state, turning it into an instrument of oppression.

Israel’s policies in the West Bank have displaced a million Palestinians, forcing them to be refugees from their own land. Jordan is filled with Palestinian refugees, and Palestinian existence in the West Bank is being increasingly confined to ghettos cut off from farm land, schools, medical care and from other Palestinians. President Jimmy Carter has described Israeli-occupied Palestine as “apartheid.”

For decades in the face of public opposition the US government has encouraged massive legal and illegal immigration of diverse peoples whose failure to assimilate is balkanizing the US population. Economic refugees from Mexico are changing the culture and allegiance of entire sections of the American southwest, and racial animosities are on the rise.

In a recent interview, Noam Chomsky defined one characteristic of a failed state as a “democratic deficit, that is, a substantial gap between public policy and public opinion.” We see this gap in Bush’s decision to escalate the war in Iraq despite the opposition of 70% of the American public. What does democracy mean if elected leaders ignore public opinion?

Another characteristic of failed states is the failure to protect their own citizens. Israel’s aggressive policies against Palestinians provoke terror attacks on Israeli citizens. These attacks are then used to justify more oppression of Palestinians, which leads to more terror. Bush’s military aggression in the MIddle East is the main cause of any terror threats that Americans now face.

Another characteristic of a failed state is the departure of citizens. Many Israelis, seeing no future for Israel in the government’s hostility to Arabs, are leaving Israel. Among Israelis themselves, the legitimacy of the Israeli state is so endangered that the Knesset has just passed a law to revoke the citizenship of “unpatriotic” Israelis.

In the US a large percentage of the population has lost confidence in the government’s veracity. Polls show that 40% of Americans do not believe the government’s story that the 9/11 attacks were the work of Arab terrorists. Many believe the attack was a “false flag” operation carried out by elements in the Bush Regime in order to create public acceptance for its planned invasions in the Middle East.

A state that cannot tolerate moral conscience in its soldiers is a failed state. The failure of the American state can be seen it its prosecution of Lt. Ehren Watada. Watada comes from a family with a military heritage. His response to the 9/11 attack was to join the military. Diagnosed with asthma, he failed his physical, but persevered and ended up with an officer’s commission.

Watada’s problem is that he can recognize a war crime even when it is committed by a might-makes-right state. The Abu Ghraib prison tortures and the evidence that Bush deceived Americans about weapons of mass destruction caused Watada to realize that he was on the wrong side of the Nuremberg Principles, the UN Charter, and the US military code, which says American soldiers have an obligation to disobey unlawful orders. He signed up to serve his country, not to kill people for illegal and immoral reasons.

Watada refused to deploy to Iraq. He is being tried for refusing deployment and for suggesting that President Bush deceived Americans.

By now every attentive American knows that Bush deceived them, and our greatest patriots have said so. Watada is on trial for suggesting what everyone knows to be true. He is not being tried for veracity. He is being tried for speaking the truth.

Failure to deploy is a more understandable charge. There is no army if soldiers do not follow orders. However, as the US established at the Nuremberg war crimes tribunal, following orders is not an excuse for participating in war crimes. At the Nazi war crimes trials, it was the US that insisted that soldiers were responsible for using judgment about the legality of their orders.

That is what Lt. Watada did. His trial will not broach the subject of whether his judgment was correct. The evidence against him will merely be that he did not deploy.

By trying Lt. Watada the US government is insisting that American troops are not responsible for judging the legality of their orders, only for following them. The standard applied to WW II Germans is too high to be applied to Americans.

In a draft army Watada’s refusal to accept illegal orders could be used by conscripted cannon fodder to derail the state’s intended aggression. However, in a voluntary army in which soldiers seek to serve, permitting Lt. Watada to have his conscience does not imperil the command structure. Others less thoughtful and less aware will carry forth the state’s enterprise.

The case against Israel and the US does not preclude some Muslim states from also meeting the criteria for failure. However, Iraq, an artificial creation of Western colonial powers, was driven into failure and civil war by American aggression. Iran, a nation with a 5,000 year history, is certainly not a failed state. The main failed states in the Middle East are those that are US puppets. They represent American hegemony, not the interests of their people.

What the US and Israel are attempting to do is to turn the entire Muslim Middle East into failed states, that is, into puppet regimes. By extending their hegemony in the Middle East, the US and Israel hope to prolong their own failed existence.

Paul Craig Roberts was Assistant Secretary of the Treasury in the Reagan administration. He was Associate Editor of the Wall Street Journal editorial page and Contributing Editor of National Review. He is coauthor of The Tyranny of Good Intentions.

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February 8th, 2007, 2:44 pm


107. Bilal Nawaf said:

I would like to congratulate Gibran for the excellent piece of analysis he put on: February 8th, 2007, 2:35 am
It is absolutely true and shows the true position that Bashar is in.
Thanks Gibran

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February 8th, 2007, 4:38 pm


108. Saladin said:

7aka badri

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February 8th, 2007, 4:46 pm


109. Gibran said:

Let’s examine the logic of the article you copied. The failed states are: Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Gulf States, Jordan, Lebanon, and Israel because they all need the US for various reasons. The US is a failed state for choosing to fail to live up to certain ideals. Besides it may also need some other states to carry out certain policies- granted.
On the other hand Syria immediately becomes a failed state by the same logic! Bashar needs Iran to survive (see title of current Landis article!). Iran is a failed state because it cannot acquire nuclear weapons without having consent from all the failed states on the other side of the equation. It is also an economic failure and currently going through a process of strategic reassessment to avoid catastrophic meltdown – a reassessment which may include among other things sacrificing its Syrian burden as no dividends are coming forth from carrying such baggage – Hamas is slipping away from Syrian control. So, there will be no pay back to Iran as a self declared ‘champion’ of the Palestinians. Hezbollah failed to deliver on its orders to carry out a coup d’etat. So there is no pay back to Iran that will serve its nuclear agenda because of the loss of the retaliatory launch pad (Lebanon) against Israel. Iraq front on the other hand seems to be an area of conflicting goals for the ‘Savavid allies’!

So who failed who in this mess?

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February 8th, 2007, 6:04 pm


110. Atassi said:

Good one Gibran, But I still don’t like your attitude!!!

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February 8th, 2007, 6:21 pm


111. Gibran said:

No hard feelings on my part. I don’t usually keep a grudge.

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February 8th, 2007, 6:54 pm


112. Atassi said:

What will be the implication if the US kept on tightens the screw and applying more pressure on the Syrian regime? What would be the outcome if the regime starts to fall apart with an accelerated and uncontrolled manner? We all aware the Syrian political institutions are relevant to the current statuesque only, the civil societies are none existence and the intellectual middleclass are in a reborn again state; would the Syrian Armed forces be the ideal player to hold the country together form the disintegrating? To what extent would the Syrian arm forces be able lessen the mayhem “if it happened”.
Finally, my intended question? What holds modern Syria together? Would it be economic and good life side? The Syrian citizen’s democratic way of life? The rich culture of the educated class or the common ignorance and diversity of the lesser educated and demoralized mass?
Will the growing strife between the have and the have-nots of the proletariat contribute to the fall of the society?

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February 8th, 2007, 7:17 pm


113. EHSANI2 said:


What holds Syria together?


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February 8th, 2007, 7:50 pm


114. Atassi said:

What WILL hold syria together?
Please read this one too..
Bashar will never change a thing peacefully!!

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February 8th, 2007, 7:58 pm


115. Gibran said:

Who served the Palestinians?
Who really cares about their tragedy?
Who planted the seeds of discord among them?
And who acted to bring back harmony?
“Act. For your deeds shall be witnessed by Him as well as by the creation.”

Time will be the judge!!!

Palestinians seal power-share pact

MECCA, Saudi Arabia (AP) — Rival Palestinian leaders signed an agreement in principle on a power-sharing government Thursday in Saudi-brokered talks in Mecca.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, of the mainstream Fatah movement, and Khaled Meshaal, leader of the militant Hamas group, signed the accord at a ceremony hosted by Saudi King Abdullah in a palace overlooking the Kaaba, Islam’s holiest shrine.

The deal sets out the principles of the coalition government, including a promise that it will “respect” previous peace deals with Israel, delegates said. It also divvies up Cabinet posts in the new government.

Announcing the agreement at the ceremony, Abbas aide Nabil Amr read a letter in which Abbas designated Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh, of Hamas, to draw up the new government according to the formula agreed on in the talks within five weeks.

Abbas said the deal would “satisfy our people … and bring us to the shores of peace … This initiative has been crowned with success.”

Meshaal said the accord “will unify our ranks. There is a commitment and unity. We will preserve this partnership.”

Before the ceremony, a Hamas delegate said the deal set the outlines of the new government’s political platform, including a provision by which the factions — including Hamas — would “respect” previous peace deals between the Palestinians and Israel. The delegate spoke on condition of anonymity because he was giving the information before the formal announcement.

They will also be based on a document drawn up last summer by Hamas and Fatah activists jailed in Israeli prisons. That document calls for a Palestinian state in the West Bank, Gaza and east Jerusalem, the areas Israel captured in the 1967 Mideast War.

In drawing up the new government, Hamas is to propose an independent candidate to hold the crucial post of interior minister, who would control the Palestinian security forces. Abbas would then approve the candidate. The Interior Ministry post was one of the main obstacles to the deal, with each side loathe to see it in the hands of the other.

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February 8th, 2007, 8:31 pm


116. SALADIN said:

sure Girbran, allow me to simplify the significance of posting this article for you as oppose to the relevant content.
the article, or I for that matter, never claimed that Syria or Iran don’t qualify as failed states. After all, i was merely linking a perspective that deserves recognition. Personally, I believe Syria and all the arab states have failed collectively as potential success stories ever since the foreign occupation post Ottoman rule which further lead to Zionist state creation by force (which continues to exist that way). Sure there is wrong doing on all parties. la tiz3al, such as the unjustified Syrian manipulation of Lebanon. But the aim of this article was to balance the monotone argument and guilt trips you repeatedly post, brother. My point is, no side has the right to preach what’s right or wrong, up hold values over others, and claiming to be fighting for “freedom” at this point in time. Everyone is part of the problem and the solution. Corruption is widespread, not just within the Syrian borders believe it or not.

Once you corner and alienate the underdog, you’ll immediately manifest a sense of retaliation and discontent. Whether its the Lebanese being pressured by the Syrians, or the Syrians by the Americans. At which point, one has to grab every opportunity they have and play the cards available. Perhaps Syria is failing at black mailing the US. Maybe not. but you cannot tell me that the US is not up to its knees with s*** in Iraq. Unless you consider that a success story. and if that’s the case, then vietnam must’ve been a walk in the park. By presenting fanatic attitude, you will only matters and meet your equal counterparts. Catch my drift brother?

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February 8th, 2007, 8:37 pm


117. majedkhaldoun said:

do you mean that Bashar will not sacrifice Asef if he was accused of murdering Hariri?

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February 8th, 2007, 8:38 pm


118. sam said:


Me saying Turkish rule is perfered, was me being sarcastic. But the more I think about it, i would take turkish rule over israeli any day of the week. As for going to Beirut or Amman I don’t want to breath the same air as those quouny. One day they will cry blood for betraying their big brother.

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February 8th, 2007, 10:27 pm


119. Bilal Nawaf said:


That is why we should prepare & encourage opposition figures to take over for a transition period. They will definitely do a better job for Syria.

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February 8th, 2007, 10:28 pm


120. EHSANI2 said:

Rice authorized the charge d’affaires in Damascus to hold talks with Syria about Iraqi refugees fleeing their country.


Bashar will NOT sacrifice Asef. I view Bashar/Maher/Asef/Bushra as one entity who I usually refer to as the “leadership”. During the interview with Diane Sawyer, I thought that Bashar repeated that were a Syrian to be charged with the crime, he would try him in Syria FIRST. He said this was a matter of “sovereignty”. It would be interesting to see how a person like Asef would be tried in Syria should he be indicted by the tribunal.


As you know, there were persistent rumors that article 8 was going to be amended or even abolished. I had my own personal doubts. Your link shows that my doubts were more than warranted.

The idea that the Baath party is the leader of both the state and society is an abomination.

Bashar now tells us that it is important to keep article 8 because it is one of the “fixed tenets of our people and its national unity”.

As for laws concerning the new political parties, it was decided that it was better to proceed “slowly”. What a joke!

This whole setup is an insult to our intelligence. Every 7 years, this sham gets to be played out in front of us all. Time and again, life goes on and the Syrian people wake up to a new seven year term that their President won with their near unanimous support.

Let us recap how this amazing system of government works:

Since the Baath party is the sole leader of both the government and society, the President must be a Baathist (the spirit of article 8).

The regional command of the party sends the name of its candidate to the Parliament for the office of the President (Bashar in this case of course).

The head of Parliament then contact the candidate and informs him of such and during between the head of the majlis and the candidate, it learns that the latter is willing to serve should be he elected.

Once this is done, the majlis runs a nationwide referendum asking the voting age population to vote yes or no to this candidate.

Once over 51% of the votes are counted as yes, the candidate is informed of the results.
If less than 50% of the people vote yes, the regional command of the Baath will be asked to offer the name of another candidate before a new referendum is carried out.

Qualified non -Baathists need not apply. It does not matter how great their potential to lead it is. Article 8 thinks that as Non-Baathists they will harm the “national unity”

Should our Christian brothers and sisters be interested in the job, they face another formidable hurdle. The constitution explicitly states that they do not have the right to lead this country. In order to do, they need to both convert AND join the Baath party before they can get a shot at the job one day. I wonder how the Moslem Brothers and the opposition view this matter. I am sure that they see no problem in effectively classifying the non-Muslims amongst us as third class citizens.

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February 9th, 2007, 12:26 am


121. norman said:

The Baath party and the Syrian gov continue to fear interference by the US in the coming parlamantary elections , that seems to have been established recently when it was announced that the Us is trying to influance the Syrian election. how can we blame them .

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February 9th, 2007, 1:48 am


122. norman said:

this is interesting about the relation between the US and Israel / Olmert.

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February 9th, 2007, 2:02 am


123. Bilal Nawaf said:

Have you read 4 days ago what Habbash has said? He claimed that very shortly Law 8 will be canceled where it says that the Baath Party is the leader of Syria. People were encouraged because they know how close Habbash is to Bashar and that he had some insider information that was asked to leak to the press. Then today Bashar says the contrary that the Baath Party will maintain its position. This is Bashar and this is how he got Syria into such a bad position.

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February 9th, 2007, 4:42 am


124. Bilal Nawaf said:

Please read the comments on Syria News:
That is good as normally Syria news does not publish any comments that are not suportive of the regime. I hope that they will keep this and they will not be blocked by the authorities if they are not blocked already.

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February 9th, 2007, 6:30 am


125. SSNP-SCP said:

Saladin, far too mellow and liberal for my liking. A bit hippyish in my opinion. If anything, Syria brought the lebanese civil war to an end. Assad I waited tactically till all sides bashed each other to exhaustion and went in for the kill. end of story. no need to apologize for anything. It was like a circus in Lebanon in the 80s. And whats this “Brother” business?
spare me the cheese.

i wish people would stop brown nosing each other. thats to you Bilal.

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February 9th, 2007, 8:47 am


126. 3antar said:

Dear Bilal,
agree, i’m a regular reader of Syria News myself as it tends to stand out from all syrian news sites in terms of freedom of expression and the way people in syria are able to comment on through it expressing their opinion. Something at least, no?

found this today:

“Iraqi insurgents offer peace in return for US concessions

For the first time, Sunni insurgents disclose their conditions for ceasefire in Iraq “

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February 9th, 2007, 8:54 am


127. Akbar Palace said:

Responding to the deniers and the finger-pointers:

Ugarit said:

“BTW, Israeli forces outnumbered all Arab forces combined in arms and men.”

Even if that were true, Ugarit, so what?? Anyway, countering your propaganda, I found this:

“The Yishuv’s total strength was around 35,000 with 15,000 to 18,000 fighters and a garrison force of roughly 20,000.[24] Despite these numbers, Haganah was extremely short of arms, all of which had to be smuggled into the country or manufactured in secret workshops.”

In line with the academics here, SSNP said:

“For your benefit,yes, Zionists aren’t the only party you need to blame. zionism is cancer.”

Strangely, most Israeli-Arabs would disagree. It’s pretty clear they’d rather be Israeli citizens than Palestinian citizens. Of course you know my opinion, Arab terrorism is the REAL cancer.

From Paul Craig Roberts article:

“What the US and Israel are attempting to do is to turn the entire Muslim Middle East into failed states, that is, into puppet regimes.”

Oh, yes, all the backwardness in the Middle East is someone else’s fault. You have all kinds of demonstrations against cartoons, but not a single demostration against muslims killing muslims.

Saladin adds his anti-Israel opinions of course:

“Personally, I believe Syria and all the arab states have failed collectively as potential success stories ever since the foreign occupation post Ottoman rule which further lead to Zionist state creation by force (which continues to exist that way).”

Syria and all the Arab states have failed? Really? Perhaps instead of focusing the blame on Zionism, you and your friends do something about your own homes.

Despite what the self-purported academics on this page may say, the “Zionist State” (aka “Israel”, a term rarely used by Arab intellectuals and terrorists) Israel was created by Jews who wanted independence, and the fact that Israel can still defend herself does not mean she solely exists by force. Israel shows the “failed” Arab states what can be accomplished by hard work, rule of law, and tolerance.

Tell that to Osama.

Sam said:

“But the more I think about it, i would take turkish rule over israeli any day of the week.”

Yes. Being ruled by Jews just seems so unnatural…

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February 9th, 2007, 12:22 pm


128. ugarit said:

“Cakewalks, Forgeries and Smoking Guns
The Salvador Option in Beirut


“The only prospect that holds hope for us is the carving up of Syria… It is our task to prepare for that prospect. All else is a purposeless waste of time.”

Zionist militant Zeév Jabotinsky, From “We and Turkey” in Di Tribune, November 30, 1915

“We should prepare to go over to the offensive. Our aim is to smash Lebanon, Trans-Jordan, and Syria. The weak point is Lebanon, for the Muslim regime is artificial and easy for us to undermine. We shall establish a Christian state there, and then we will smash the Arab Legion, eliminate Trans-Jordan, and Syria will fall to us.”

David Ben-Gurion, From “Ben-Gurion, A Biography” by Michael Ben-Zohar, May 1948

“It is obvious that the above military assumptions, and the whole plan too, depend also on the Arabs continuing to be even more divided than they are now, and on the lack of any truly mass movement among them… Every kind of inter-Arab confrontation will assist us in the short run and will shorten the way to the more important aim of breaking Iraq up into denominations as in Syria and Lebanon… Syria will fall apart.”

Oded Yinon, 1982. From “The Zionist Plan for the Middle East”

“Regime change is, of course, our goal both in Lebanon and Syria. We wrote long ago that there are three ways to achieve it- the dictator chooses to change; he falls before his own unhappy people; or if he poses a threat to the outside, the outside takes him out…”

-Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs (JINSA), From strategy paper #474 “Priorities in Lebanon & Syria”, March 2, 2005

From mission statement to mission accomplished, the cakewalks continue. But from Baghdad to Beirut, the forgery looks the same…..”


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February 9th, 2007, 12:25 pm


129. Akbar Palace said:

Professor Josh,

Perhaps you can start a new thread like “Arab governments that support terrorism”?

What do you think?

Columnist Hassan Haydar: Iran Spreads a ‘Culture of Death’

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February 9th, 2007, 12:42 pm


130. SSNP-SCP said:

Akbar P,
“Israel was created by Jews who wanted independence, and the fact that Israel can still defend herself does not mean she solely exists by force. Israel shows the “failed” Arab states what can be accomplished by hard work, rule of law, and tolerance.” and “Strangely, most Israeli-Arabs would disagree. It’s pretty clear they’d rather be Israeli citizens than Palestinian citizens.” ???
before you start spraying your ultra-zionist, arab-phobic propaganda, please answer this,

was Israel really created by Jews alone, without any British assistance what so ever? can Israel really defend it self without US support and aid? Can it really? Hard work? what hard work? spare me the rhetorics. tolerance? sure, the wall is the symbol of tolerance I bet.

Before accusing everyone as finger-pointers, just stop and consider what your doing.

Independence from what? Was Israel occupied or something? I thought it was “created” as most academics would testify.

Also, to do something about our homes will directly lead us to doing something about you. You cant seem to get it. The US is at the peek of their power and its struggling to bring a country like Iraq into submission. Eventually, the American empire will decline. what will israel do? whats the long term plan here sunshine? we have all the time in the world and we dont need technology to resolve our differences when that time comes. From now till then, we’ll just keep making each others lives a living hell. agreed?

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February 9th, 2007, 12:58 pm


131. simohurtta said:

Strangely, most Israeli-Arabs would disagree. It’s pretty clear they’d rather be Israeli citizens than Palestinian citizens. Of course you know my opinion, Arab terrorism is the REAL cancer.

Well if you had to choose between being an Israeli third grade citizen or a citizen of a nation which has no country and is “tortured” constantly by IDF which would you choose? Most of Israeli Arabs, Christian and Muslim, would certainly favour the option of a Palestine with Jews and Arabs.

What is your opinion of Israeli terrorism, past and present? Hardly any difference between the results if the terrorist act is done by a Jew or Arab. The Stern Gang, Irgun, the New York dancing moving men and art students etc. are heroes to you. Why can’t Palestinians think the same of their terrorists and resistance men?

Despite what the self-purported academics on this page may say, the “Zionist State” (aka “Israel”, a term rarely used by Arab intellectuals and terrorists) Israel was created by Jews who wanted independence, and the fact that Israel can still defend herself does not mean she solely exists by force. Israel shows the “failed” Arab states what can be accomplished by hard work, rule of law, and tolerance.

Israelis call their state also a Zionist state and a Jewish state. Are they also “terrorists”? Israel is no example to anybody, regardless of their religion or ethnic origin. The country is a miserable example of an over militant, apartheid society and so an example what all countries should avoid.

What wonders me, why do you Akbar not move to you “dreamland” – the Zionist state. I understand those Syrians who live abroad partly because of the political situation in their country, but not those extreme, militant and racist Jews like you who are living abroad and who demand more “bloodshed” and are spreading their extreme views.

If you Akbar really think that your nationalistic, racist ûbermensch comments benefit Israel’s and Jews’ cause, you are completely wrong. You only manage to turn more people (Arabs, Europeans and Americans) more against the present days Israel. The days are long gone when Israel had on image of a weak country with courage. Now the image is what we see in practice on Temple Mountain and that picture is PR man’s nightmare.

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February 9th, 2007, 2:41 pm


132. ugarit said:

I wish Akbar Palace would just say what’s really on his mind.

I suspect that he believes that Jewish actions can never be wrong relative to Arabs and Arabs cannot be right with respect to Jews and that Jews have more rights than Arabs. I may be wrong but AP implies this be throwing around the word “terrorism” at will. AP reminds me of white supremicists types who simply cannot accept that they can be wrong or that their philosophy, Zionism, is simply abhorent.

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February 9th, 2007, 2:57 pm


133. majedkhaldoun said:

the arab people must demand from their goverments to block passage of oil to Isreal, just like Isreal is blocking money from getting to the palastinians

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February 9th, 2007, 3:00 pm


134. Atassi said:

This sham referendum mucking around will not end as long as the Syrian peoples fears and the dark shadows of the security forces persist over the Syrian daily life. This silly behaviors against the Syrian peoples is a treason of trust Committed by the Baathists.

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February 9th, 2007, 3:15 pm


135. 3antar said:

i had no idea this Sawyer lady went into such length. Some PR. Is it that easy to hire an ABC journalist?

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February 9th, 2007, 4:30 pm


136. Bilal Nawaf said:

Dear 3antar,

But normally Syria News does not publish any unfavourable comment to the regime. Even on this article I sent a comment that they did not publish. I only said “Where is Habbash that claimed 4 days earlier otherwise”
Otherwise they will be cut off

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February 9th, 2007, 4:50 pm


137. Akbar Palace said:

More adjectives to live by…

Ugarit said:

“AP reminds me of white supremicists types who simply cannot accept that they can be wrong or that their philosophy, Zionism, is simply abhorent.”

Of course Zionism is abhorent. It’s the only government that works in the ME (and it isn’t Arab).

Anyway the Israeli “white supremicist” government just elected an Arab to the cabinet along with the other existing (5) arab MKs. This “supremicist” thing has really gone too far!

From the anti-Arab Wikipedia:

“Arab Israelis have been elected to every Knesset, and currently hold 12 of its 120 seats. Two Arabs have served as full government ministers: Salah Tarif, a Druze, served as a Minister Without Portfolio for ten months in 2001[71]; and Raleb Majadele was appointed as minister without portfolio on 28th January 2007[72][73].”

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February 9th, 2007, 5:41 pm


138. ugarit said:

Akbar Palace:

You don’t seem to understand that Israel has millions of Palestinians under occupation. Those millions are not citizens of Israel. The millions of non-citizens are treated terribly even by dictatorial standards.

Are you aware of this?

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February 9th, 2007, 5:59 pm


139. Akbar Palace said:

“You don’t seem to understand that Israel has millions of Palestinians under occupation.”

Ugarit –

I understand perfectly, and so do most people who haven’t been brainwashed by the Arab media. When the Palestinians are ready to stop terrorizing Israel, they can start negotiating a mutually agreed upon border.

It’s really the only way.

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February 9th, 2007, 6:32 pm


140. SALADIN said:

Akbar P,
those mighty crazy Palestinians will only stop terrorizing Israel when Israel stop suffocating their economy and livelihood, and allow the refugees to return home, and halt illegal settlements. only then will they stop terrorizing poor little little Israel.
otherwise, you’ll have to take it and lump it.

so Israel is the only govt that works in Israel? Your president is facing rape charges and abuse of power. how very civilized.,,1997011,00.html

of course we mustn’t forget the hero of them all :

your ilk isn’t exactly setting a good example are they? perhaps you should do some house cleaning before pointing fingers.

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February 9th, 2007, 7:59 pm


141. ugarit said:

Akbar Palace

I notice that you didn’t object to my assessment of your real opinion:

“I suspect that he [you, Akbar Palace] believes that Jewish actions can never be wrong relative to Arabs and Arabs cannot be right with respect to Jews and that Jews have more rights than Arabs.”

I don’t think you understand. “When the Palestinians are ready to stop terrorizing Israel”. Ready to stop or just stop?

So every single Palestinian needs to be ready to stop “terrorizing” Israel? In other words, one violent act in retaliation and millions of Palestinians are punished? I think I would rather live in Syria than live under Israeli occupation. Again I am talking about the millions of Palestinians who are not citizens of Israel and who are under Israeli apartheid.

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February 9th, 2007, 8:01 pm


142. Akbar Palace said:

Saladin said:

“Your president is facing rape charges and abuse of power. how very civilized.”


Now, let’s see, if he were a MURDERER and TERRORIST SUPPORTER of a typical Arab country, who, in that case, would bring charges against him?

Thanks for the compliment.

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February 9th, 2007, 9:02 pm


143. qunfuz said:

my latest posting at is called In Defence of Iran.

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February 9th, 2007, 9:03 pm


144. SALADIN said:

“who, in that case, would bring charges against him?”- Akbar P.
based on the current system in syria, no one. everyone here knows that. unless your life line decides to send troops to topple the regime and turn syria into iraq.

but you’re avoiding the main issue here, again.
what grounds do you have when your Israel is just as corrupt and infested, if not more.
You have no values to preach and thats clear. It must be frustrating for you. especially when you find Israel gets so much bad press.

Ugarit, its clear that this guy’s only come back is to point out the obvious and miss out on the bad smell coming from home.

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February 9th, 2007, 9:40 pm


145. majedkhaldoun said:

those who accuse freedom fighter,and occupation resistants,of being terrorist,are evil people

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February 9th, 2007, 10:21 pm


146. Rasha said:

Here are two letters – one by Tony Lapham, former CIA general counsel, another by Jay Rockefeller, Senate Select Committee on Intelligence chairman. Their content seems to confirm Trish Schuh’s conclusions in her highly convincing exposure of the American-Israeli involvement in Hariri assassination.

I have sent the copies of the letters to several officials, but have got no response. Obviously, the American-Israeli version is hushed up.

So it’s up to you to judge who was behind the plot.

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May 23rd, 2007, 8:42 am


147. Leaflesseve said:

SSNP said:

“Lebanon cannot exist with complete autonomy.”

That’s exactly the problem. Syrians can’t ACCEPT that Lebanon doesn’t belong to them anymore.
Yet ANOTHER thing they have in common with Israeli occupiers.

(I’m half Syrian by the way, but i’de rather die before defending the Syrian regime, not only because of what they did to Lebanon, but also for what they did to Syria.)

And stop with the MACHO talk about who is braver. Everyone is brave once there life is threatened… But the difference is: Lebanese lives are already threatened by Syria & Israel. If you are a Syrian, your life will only be threatened IF you are brave. If you are brave, you will have to fight the enemy within… which is much tougher… It’s easy fighting enemies outside your walls.

It’s so insecure of you guys to defend the Asad regime. No one is questioning your LOYALTY to Syria, so why all the “DEFENSIVE” talk. YOU CAN DEFEND SYRIA without defending the dictatorship. You CAN be patriotic without attacking the Lebanese that want JUSTICE. If you are incapable of balancing these 2 thoughts in your head, that doesn’t mean others cant.
The least thing you can do is find a way to become good neighbors to a country that only brought you good and you only brought it misery. And please stop saying we have to WAIT for an investigation. That’s exactly like saying: Let’s wait for investigation to see if Israeli soldiers REALLY killed… WHOEVER. You don’t need a damn investigation. The Syrian regime has ADMITTED to killing other Lebanese politicians… why WOULDN’T they kill Hariri, Twaini and the rest???

So maybe u should rephrase: Lebanon cannot exist if the Asad regime is still in power.

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October 23rd, 2007, 8:47 am


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