The Damascus Center for the study of Human Rights

The Damascus Center for the study of Human Rights publishes invaluable reports on the state of human rights in Syria. The Director of the center is Dr. Radwan Ziyada and the Assistant Director of the center is attorney Razan Zeitounah. Razan Zeitounah's monthly newsletter – Shril – which documents the various cases brought before the Supreme State Security Court is also invaluable.

The Center has just published a report entitled: "Can Extraordinary Courts Ensure Justice? The Supreme State Security Court," by Attorney Razan Zeitouneh and revised by: Prof. Abdul Haï Al-Sayyed, May 2007.

The report explains the history of the Supreme State Security Court in Damascus, which tries most of the prisoners of conscience and explains the many difficulties that the lawyers and defendents face in presenting their cases before this extraordinary court. The report is filled with personal testimony of the activist lawyers who have been fighting the bureaucracy and irregular procedures of the court. It also records personal testimony of the defendents who come before it.

Unfortunately the report has not been published on-line yet at the Center's website: www.dchrs.com

Earlier reports are published, however. The web site has yet to be blocked here in Syria. Here is an example of an earlier report:

"Post-prison roads: Situation of Political Prisoners and Prisoners of Conscience in Syria After Being Released from Custody," by Doctor Hossam Al Saad and Razan Zaitouneh, J.D. The translation was reviewed by Abdulhay Al-Sayyed, J.D., August 2006.

Human Rights News of the last few days

On Friday, some 200 people were arrested in the province of Dara'a on suspiscion of belonging to "Salafist" trends. Unfortunately Islamists who are arrested do not get much attention in the West. 

Seven student activists were sentenced to harsh prison terms this week. Here is the article about them:

US Slams Syria for Jailing Young Democrats
22 June 2007, Agence France Presse

WASHINGTON, June 22, 2007 (AFP) –

The United States on Friday criticized the Syrian government for what it called harsh sentencing of seven young democrats and sought their immediate and unconditional release.

The seven defendants, in their 20s, were sentenced to between five and seven years in jail for "exposing Syria to acts of aggression," according to the Syrian National Human Rights Organisation.

"The United States condemns the harsh sentencing of seven young civil society activists, several of them university students … by the Syrian government," State Department spokesman Sean McCormack said.

They were sentenced to prison simply for forming a discussion group and posting their writings on a website, he said.

"The unjust sentences reflect the Syrian regime's contempt for fundamental human rights, including freedom of expression and association. They also reflect a legal system devoid of legitimate standards," he said.

The group was arrested early last year after trying to found a youth association for democracy and pacifism.

The charges were brought under state of emergency laws in place in Syria for more than four decades.

McCormack alleged that the young "prisoners of conscience" were held incommunicado for months and denied access to their lawyers and families.

The United States called on the Syrian government to "immediately and unconditionally release all political prisoners and to observe its obligations under international human rights law," he said.

The United States also remained committed to supporting Syrian citizens in their efforts to build a "less corrupt, more prosperous, and more democratic country," he said.

The United States also accuses Syria of aiding anti-US insurgents in Iraq, trying to topple the pro-Western government in Lebanon and backing rejectionist Palestinian groups.

Other Reports:

GIGA : The Potential of Regional Integration Agreements (RIAs) in Enhancing the Credibility of Reform: The Case of the Syrian-European Association Agreement

Comments (31)


1. t_desco said:

Lebanese Army Kills Six Terrorists in Tripoli

Lebanese troops killed six Islamist terrorists in fierce clashes that injured at least 12 civilians in the northern town of Tripoli Sunday.
Reliable sources told Naharnet the terrorists included three Saudis, a Russian from Chechnya and two Lebanese.

The clashes, which started with an army bust targeting a terrorist hideout in Tripoli’s Abu Samra district late Saturday, also killed a soldier, a police officer and two civilians.

Security sources said the clashes broke out late Saturday as an army unit busted the Shahal residential compound in search of “wanted terrorists affiliated with Fatah al-Islam.”

The army confiscated “large quantities” of weapons and explosives from the Shahal compound during the bust, the sources said.

Army units besieged surrounding olive groves and launched a hunt for other terrorists believed led by a Lebanese Basil as-Sayed, a reputed Salafist from north Lebanon.

One source, however, said Sayed was killed in the clash at the Shahal compound.
Naharnet

“The dead gunmen included three Saudi nationals, one ethnic Chechen and two Lebanese who also held European citizenships.”
CNN/AP

‘The militants lived in the targeted building and used to buy goods from my store, they seemed friendly and all the militants I saw were Lebanese,’ he added.

A Lebanese army officer at the scene said among the dead militants were nationals from Jordan and Saudi Arabia. The Abu Samra area is mainly inhabited by Sunni Muslims.

According to an eyewitness the Lebanese army arrested three Islamists after the fighting in the city, while a fourth escaped.
Two of the arrested were Lebanese carrying a Danish and Australian passport.
dpa

Thumb up 0 Thumb down 1

June 24th, 2007, 12:41 pm

 

2. t_desco said:

Australian killed, three arrested in Lebanon unrest

AN AUSTRALIAN man is believed to be among seven Islamist militants killed in a raid on their hideout in the northern Lebanese city of Tripoli yesterday, and three other Australians have been arrested in Lebanon over suspected links to hardline groups, Lebanese officials say.

The man died as a 10-hour siege at an apartment block reached a bloody climax when Lebanese troops stormed the building. One soldier was killed and 14 injured, and militants had also killed a policeman and three civilians.

Meanwhile, officials at the Australian embassy in Beirut were seeking access to the three detained men to offer them consular assistance and were also helping their families, a Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade spokesman said in Canberra last night.

“Three Australian men have been arrested in Tripoli over the last few days, however the reasons and the circumstances are unclear,” he said.

One of the three is believed to be a Sydney man, Ibrahim Sabouh, 33, who has been living in Lebanon for more than a year with his wife and family.

Mr Sabouh, 33, who has worked in finance in Sydney, was arrested on Thursday at his apartment in Abu Samra.
Sydney Morning Herald

Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

June 24th, 2007, 4:17 pm

 

3. Atassi said:

Dr Landis,
In your current visit to Syria and the discussions you had with the government and human rights group’s personalities, did you notice any increased pressure and clampdown on human rights activates? And do you see this increased “boon crushing” tactics on the oppositions groups as part of the master plan and self adopted strategy of an anticipated long fight and struggle with the international body !!

Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

June 24th, 2007, 5:04 pm

 

4. ausamaa said:

t-desco, alf mabroouk,

Well, and NOW, Lebanon has a FIGHTING ARMY. Good. The IDF and CENTCOM and Nato are secretly conducting a Strategic Reassessment of the whole military situation in the Middle East in the light of this latest development.

Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

June 24th, 2007, 5:06 pm

 

5. ausamaa said:

McCormack alleged that the young “prisoners of conscience” were held incommunicado for months and denied access to their lawyers and families.

What the hell is Mr. McCormack problem? Is doing such things a reserved right and a protected trademark of the US? Can other countries not do what the Bush Administration does worlwide?

Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

June 24th, 2007, 5:10 pm

 

6. ausamaa said:

ATTASI,

Your Tishreen-like “question” to Josh begs a YES answer.

Josh, please say YES and let us get it over with and let us see how far such an answer to such a “hard” question will get us down the road to reconcilliation, democracy and the other similar things.

Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

June 24th, 2007, 5:16 pm

 

7. ausamaa said:

After reading McCormack’s remarks and the article above, I have to admit that I may be having a fundemntal change of heart towards the Bush Admin.

It is just overwhelming, I mean the amount of Love and Sympathy the Bush Administration have for the Syrian People and thier Human Rights and their overall well being. Nothing of the sort, or in such intensity was directed towards countries friendly towards this Administration such as Saudi, Morrocco, Egypt and others. Bush really seems to care about the Syrian People in particular. Feel the intensity?

Maybe I was wrong all along. Maybe I am bad at listening attentively and reading his and good ol’ Rumsfield’s body language when the matter of Syria arises. And it sure arose like hell during those past years. Maybe I was fooled by appearances, and maybe they were really sincere in what they said and did to help the Syrian people.

The only thing I have to keep doing nevertheless, is to keep praying that their love for us Syrians remaine within conrollable limits. That it does not graduate to the red-hot passionate love affair they have been having with our Iraqi brothers. Could be? But it is still possible that he can now flirt with and love his four “Chosen” peoples (Iraqies, Lebanese, Palestinans and Syrians) at the same time. Like the muslims and the four wives thing. I guess that could be a rub-off effect from his recent contacts with the MB’s. THey may have converted the man secretly. Once a born-again, always a born-again. Why the hell not? Ask Junblat, he has gone through similar fits.

See, I knew something was amiss in our undestanding or un-undersatanding of the man. Bush, not Junblat of course.

Just in case I am wrong again, can I suggest a new global curse phrase: “May Bush Love Your People”?

Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

June 24th, 2007, 5:53 pm

 

8. Atassi said:

Ausamaa Beak!!
Please have an OPEN mind in your discussion. I think reconciliations between the regime and its critics in civilized way, will be a formidable wall against any future aggressions..
Yealla Salamat

Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

June 24th, 2007, 5:57 pm

 

9. ausamaa said:

Attasi,

You are right. And I really hope the Authorities (being Big Brother) take new initiative in that direction.

Allah ysalmak ya rab

Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

June 24th, 2007, 6:04 pm

 

10. 3antar said:

reconciliation with who?
The regime is bankrupt from the very concept of human rights. Syrian expectations from that perspective are far too low to even contemplate the issue of rights and i think everyone knows that here. The system lacks the predicates to build on the idea of human rights hence to demand it is makes it laughable.

Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

June 24th, 2007, 6:24 pm

 

11. t_desco said:

Lebanon bomb kills 5 U.N. peacekeepers

A bomb apparently targeting U.N. peacekeepers exploded by the side of a road in southern Lebanon on Sunday, killing five Spanish troops and injuring at least three, a senior Lebanese military official said.

The senior official in Beirut said a mine may have caused the explosion, but another security official based in southern Lebanon said a bomb detonated at the side of a road about four miles north of the Israeli border town of Metulla. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak to the media.
AP

Suspected suicide bombing behind Lebanon attack

A suicide car bomber “most likely” killed five Spanish U.N. peacekeepers in south Lebanon on Sunday, a police source said.

The source said a mangled car was found at the scene with human remains inside. Security sources said earlier the blast was caused by a roadside bomb.
Reuters

Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

June 24th, 2007, 7:12 pm

 

12. Alex said:

Ausamaa and Atassi,

Shou hal nice and quick conflict resolution skills today!

May the regime and its critics display the same skills.

Ausamma, you want to suggest to President Bush to follow Sting’s recommendations.

If you love somebody
If you love someone
If you love somebody
If you love someone, set them free
Set them free
Set them free
Set them free

You cant control an independent heart
Cant tear the one you love apart
Forever conditioned to believe that we cant live
We cant live here and be happy with less
So many riches
So many souls
With everything we see that we want to possess

Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

June 24th, 2007, 8:15 pm

 

13. ausamaa said:

Alex,

Maybe the unfolding drama/tragedy next door(s)is taking its toll on every one…

Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

June 24th, 2007, 10:34 pm

 

14. Majhool said:

Let’s admit it Arab and Muslim Societies are prone to radicalism and this is a result of hundreds of years of backward ideologies and lack of enlightenment . Japan and Germany both did not react so radically to American Occupation after world war II, instead they worked it out to their advantage ( and to the Americans of course), somewhat of a win-win situation. The case is different in the Arab world, Radical forces thrive on opposing change and Iraq is a perfect example. The radical and sometimes fanatical nature of Arab and Muslim Societies will take decades even with the best of intentions.

Dictatorships in the middle east are solely interested in their survivals and managed to coexist with radicalism. Dictatorship thrive on corruption and the elimination of personal freedoms both of which are fuel to radicalism, however dictatorship brutality keeps radicalism in check ensuring their mutual survival. Mubarak of Egypt latest spin is a perfect example.

Changing the radical nature of our societies is probably the best long term objective we can ever have. This could only be led by governments. Accountability and legitimacy hence are prerequisites to such an effort. that comes to be impossible when governments rely on radicalism to survive.

In the case of accountable governments, the country’s position and strength amongst other nations is of a benefit that normally trickles down to the average person. However that’s not necessary the case in Arab and Muslim dictatorships. take Syria for example in the 90s where Syria’s strength was at it’s zenith, the Syrian economy was incredibly stagnant and the average person was left to poverty and enslavement by the brutal and powerful dictatorships.

The Americans are not helping , I hope to God they focus on promoting accountable and consolidated governments and leave the rest to us.

The Syrian Government is extremely corrupt and is not accountable in any shape or form, let a lone it’s not legitimate in the eyes of many. This is a perfect platform for radicalism to thrive. American intervention will only make things worst.

Ironically this puts minority groups (especially Alawis) in Syria in Danger of retribution by other communities if abrupt change was to happen anytime in the near future. Unless they are planning on having their own state in west of Syria.

I believe many who are against Syria’s hegemony over Lebanon are such not because they are not interested in powerful geopolitical position in the region, but only because Lebanon served as a corruption outlet to the Syrian elite and ensured strength and brutality in Syria itself.

Lebanon’s confessional system is not any better. Just another corrupt system. It’s even worst as it’s very weak, and prone to outside influence and patronage.

Accountability, Accountability, and more accountability is all what we need…I think

Alex, Any thoughts?

Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

June 24th, 2007, 10:37 pm

 

15. Akbar Palace said:

Alex –

I think the words of Yusuf Ibrahim are even more poignant:

Now I’ve been happy lately,
thinking about the good things to come
And I believe it could be,
something good has begun

Oh I’ve been smiling lately,
dreaming about the world as one
And I believe it could be,
some day it’s going to come

Cause out on the edge of darkness,
there rides a peace train
Oh peace train take this country,
come take me home again

Now I’ve been smiling lately,
thinking about the good things to come
And I believe it could be,
something good has begun

Oh peace train sounding louder
Glide on the peace train
Come on now peace train
Yes, peace train holy roller

Everyone jump upon the peace train
Come on now peace train

Get your bags together,
go bring your good friends too
Cause it’s getting nearer,
it soon will be with you

Now come and join the living,
it’s not so far from you
And it’s getting nearer,
soon it will all be true

Now I’ve been crying lately,
thinking about the world as it is
Why must we go on hating,
why can’t we live in bliss

Cause out on the edge of darkness,
there rides a peace train
Oh peace train take this country,
come take me home again

Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

June 25th, 2007, 1:50 am

 

16. Observer said:

This is from Uri Avnery: Now if an Israeli says to run from Olmert, I wonder why anyone sane enough in the three stooges regimes of Egypt Jordan and SA are running to meet Olmert

Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

June 25th, 2007, 3:02 am

 

17. Observer said:

Saving President Abbas

By: Uri Avnery

EHUD OLMERT is the opposite of Midas, King of Phrygia. Everything the king touched turned into gold, according to Greek legend. Everything Olmert touches turns into lead. And that is no legend. 

Now he is touching Mahmoud Abbas. He lauds him to high heaven. He promises to “strengthen” him. He is about to meet him.

If I might offer some advice to Abbas, I would call out to him: Run! Run for your precious life! One touch of Olmert’s hand will seal your fate!

CAN ABBAS be saved? I don’t know. Some of my Palestinian friends are in despair.

They grew up in Fatah, and Fatah is their home. They are secularists. They are nationalists. They definitely do not want a fanatical Islamic regime in their homeland.

But in the present conflict, their heart is with Hamas. Their mind is split. And that is not surprising.

They hear the words of President Bush, of Olmert and of the whole babbling choir of Israeli politicians and pundits. And they draw the inescapable conclusion: the Americans and the Israelis are working hard to turn Abbas into an agent of the occupation and the Fatah movement into a militia of the occupier.

Every word now emanating from Washington and Jerusalem confirms this suspicion. Every word widens the gap between the Palestinian street and the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank. The new “Emergency Government” in Ramallah is headed by a person who received 2% of the votes at the last elections, when the list of Abbas himself was soundly beaten by Hamas, not only in Gaza but in the West Bank, too.

 No “easing the restrictions” and no “economic steps” will help. Not the return of the Palestinian tax money that was embezzled by the Israeli government. Not the flow of European and American aid. As early as 80 years ago, Vladimir Jabotinsky, the most extreme Zionist, made fun of the Zionist leaders who tried to buy off the Palestinian people by offering economic inducements. A people cannot be bought.

IF ABBAS can be saved at all, it is in one way only: by the immediate start of rapid and practical negotiations for achieving  a peace settlement, with the declared aim of setting up a Palestinian state in all the occupied territories, with East Jerusalem as its capital. Nothing less.

But that is exactly what the government of Israel is not prepared to do. Not Olmert. Not Tzipi Livni. Not Ehud Barak.

If they had been ready to do this, they or their predecessors would have done so long ago. Barak could have arranged it with Yasser Arafat at Camp David. Ariel Sharon could have agreed it with Abbas, after Abbas was elected president with a huge majority. Olmert could have settled it with Abbas after Sharon left the scene. He could have done it with the unity Government that was set up under Saudi auspices.

They didn’t. Not because they were fools and not because they were weak. They did not do it simply because their aim was the exact opposite: annexation of a large part of the West Bank and the enlargement of the settlements. That’s why they did everything to weaken Abbas, who was designated by the Americans as the “partner for peace”. In the eyes of Sharon and his successors, Abbas was more dangerous than Hamas, which was defined by the Americans as a “terrorist organization”.

IT IS impossible to understand the latest developments without going back to the “separation plan”.

This week, some sensational disclosures were published in Israel. They confirm the suspicions that we had from the start: that the “separation” was nothing but a ploy, part of a program with a hidden agenda.

Sharon had a master plan with three main elements: (a) turning the Gaza Strip into a separate and isolated entity, led by Hamas, (b) turning the West Bank into an archipelago of isolated cantons led by Fatah, and (c) leaving both territories under the domination of the Israeli military.

This would explain Sharon’s insistence on a “unilateral” withdrawal. On the face of it, it seems illogical. Why not speak in advance with the Palestinian Authority? Why not ensure the orderly transfer of power to Mahmoud Abbas? Why not transfer to the Authority all the settlements intact, with their buildings and greenhouses? Why not open wide all the border crossings? Indeed, why not enable the Palestinians to open the Gaza airport and build the Gaza sea port?

If the aim had been to achieve a peace settlement, all this would have happened. But since the complete opposite was done, it can be assumed that Sharon wanted things to work out roughly as they did: the collapse of the Authority in Gaza, the take-over of the Strip by Hamas, the split between the Gaza Strip and the West Bank.

For this end, he cut Gaza off from any land, sea and air contact with the world, kept the border passages closed almost continuously and turned Gaza into the “largest prison in the world”. The supply of food, medicines, water and electricity is completely dependent on the goodwill of Israel, as is the operation of the border crossing to Egypt (with the help of a European monitoring unit controlled by the Israeli army), all imports and exports, and even the registration of inhabitants.

IT MUST be clear: this is not a new policy. The cutting off of the Gaza strip from the West Bank has for many years been a military and political objective of Israeli governments.

Article IV of the 1993 Oslo Declaration of Principles states unequivocally: “The two sides view the West Bank and the Gaza Strip as a single territorial unit, whose integrity will be preserved during the interim period.” Without this, Arafat would not have accepted the agreement.

Later on, Shimon Peres invented the slogan “Gaza First”. The Palestinians adamantly refused. In the end, the Israeli government gave in and in 1994 signed the “Agreement Concerning the Gaza Strip and the Jericho Area”. The foothold thus given to the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank was to ensure the unity of the two territories.

In the same agreement, Israel undertook to open a “safe passage” between the Strip and the West Bank. And not only one, but four, which were marked on a map appended to the agreement. Immediately afterwards, road signs with the Arab inscription “to Gaza” were set up along West Bank roads.

But during the 13 years that have passed since then, the passage has not been opened even for one day. When Ehud Barak settled his frame in the Prime Minister’s chair, he fantasized about building the world’s longest bridge between the Gaza strip and the West Bank (about 40 km). Like many others of Barak’s brilliant flashes, this one died before birth and the passage remained hermetically closed.

The Israeli government has undertaken again and again to fulfill this commitment, and recently gave Condoleezza Rice personally a specific and detailed pledge. Nothing happened.

Why? Why did our government take the risk of a manifest, clear-cut, unambiguous and continuous violation of such an important obligation? Why did they go so far as to spit in the eye of a friend like the good Condoleezza?

There is only one possible answer: the cutting off of the Gaza Strip from the West Bank is a major strategic aim of the government and the army, an important step in the historic effort to break the Palestinian resistance to occupation and annexation.

This week, it seemed that this aim had been achieved.

The official operation to “strengthen” Abbas is a part of this design. In Jerusalem, some feel that their dreams are coming true: the West Bank separated from the Gaza strip, divided into several enclaves cut off from each other and from the world, much like the Bantustans in South Africa in bygone times. Ramallah as the capital of Palestine, designed to make the Palestinians forget about Jerusalem. Abbas receiving arms and reinforcements in order to destroy Hamas in the West Bank. The Israeli army dominating the areas between the towns, and operating at will in the towns, too. The settlements growing without hindrance, the Jordan valley completely cut off from the rest of the West Bank, the Wall continuing to extend and gobble up more Palestinian land, and the Government’s promise to dismantle the settlement “outposts” remaining a long forgotten joke.

President Bush is satisfied with “the spread of democracy” in the Palestinian areas, and the US military subsidy to Israel is growing from year to year.

FROM THE point of view of Olmert, that is an ideal situation. Will it hold?

The answer is an unqualified NO!

Like all the actions of Bush and Olmert, as well as of their predecessors, it is based on contempt for the Arabs. This contempt has proven itself many times as a recipe for disaster.

The Israeli media, which have turned themselves into propaganda organs for Mahmoud Abbas and Mohammed Dahlan, are already gleefully describing how the hungry inhabitants of Gaza will look with green envy at the well-fed, flourishing inhabitants of the West Bank. They are going to rebel against the Hamas leadership, so that a Quisling in the service of Israel can be installed there. The people in the West Bank, growing fat on European and American aid money, will be happy to be rid of Gaza and its troubles.

That is pure fantasy. It is much more probable that the anger of the Gaza people will turn against the Israeli prison wardens who are starving them. And the people of the West Bank will not forsake their compatriots languishing in Gaza.

No Palestinian will agree to the separation of Gaza from the West Bank. A party that agreed to that would be shunned by the Palestinian public, and a leadership that accepted such a situation would be eliminated.

Israeli policy is torn between two conflicting desires: on the one side, to prevent the events in the Gaza Strip repeating themselves in the West Bank, where a Hamas takeover would be immensely more dangerous, and on the other side, to prevent Abbas from succeeding to such an extent that the Americans would oblige Olmert to negotiate seriously with him. As usual, the government is holding the stick by its two ends.

At present, all Olmert’s actions are endangering Abbas. His embrace is a bear’s embrace, and his kiss is the kiss of death.

Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

June 25th, 2007, 3:06 am

 

18. Alex said:

Uri is right. Hamas will not disappear.

The Arabs who are betting again Hamas are adding another failure to their “credit”

Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

June 25th, 2007, 5:11 am

 

19. ausamaa said:

Not only Hamas would not dissappear, but I beleive they will attempt to run a better show in Gaza than anyone can expect. Early reports suggest that that Gazans are feeling a sense of peace and a security that they have missed for decades. Now it will be a race between Abbas and Haniya about who will run a more orderly house. The only choice left for the US and its cornies is to dump so much money into the West Bank so that they can offer a better-run society in WB than Hamas in Gaza. However, knowing the greed and the usual opportunist attitude of the Israeli leaders, who would not know a positive Opprtunity if it hit them in the face, and who would attempt to extract an unwarrented price from Abbas for any good will gestures they can make to save him, coupled with a misplaced US and “moderate” Arab pressures and with the corruption rift Abbas apparatus, such hopes seem to be doomed to failure. Resulting in a Barghothi-like Fatah arising from the rubble and shoving Abbas aside then joining hands with Hamas later on. A semillar alliance to Hizbullah/Aoun/Berri seems likely to emerge and replace the current status qou in Gaza and the West Bank.

Add another point on Syria’s scorecard! Take two points from the US/Moderate Arab scorecard. And do not keep fucking with the long arm of Syria. Shar’a has already given the US/Moderate camp another not so subtle hint when he said Syria’s friends in Lebanon are more powerful than their opponents. Know what he meant and implied? Forget Iraq; it is gone, now forget Gaza and the West Bank, and Lebanon is a done deal with the eventual collapse of Saado/Jaja/Junblat looming not far away.

All in all, the “master plan” aint working again, and the “others” are gaining the upper hand. The SURGE is surging in the unintended places.

Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

June 25th, 2007, 7:47 am

 

20. t_desco said:

“Lebanese officials said it appeared the explosion was triggered by remote control. No body parts were found in the car, meaning the bomb was detonated from a distance and did not involve a suicide attacker.”
Naharnet

The exact opposite of the previous report (by Reuters), proving, once more, the low reliability of “anonymous security sources”.

Another example:

This article by As-Safir mentions in passing (!) a link between Ahmed Abu Adass and one member of a cell arrested in Tripoli’s Abu Samra district in April.

Update on the Australians:

“Today Foreign Minister Alexander Downer said Australian embassy officials were seeking consular access to the three arrested Australians, who authorities reportedly suspect have links to hardline Islamic groups.

He also said embassy staff had been unable to confirm reports an Australian citizen was one of seven Islamic militants killed when Lebanese troops stormed a Tripoli apartment building yesterday.

The Lebanese authorities and foreign analysts based in Beirut say the Nahr al-Bared siege is just the tip of the iceberg.

“Al-Qaeda is present in Lebanon,” Defence Minister Elias Murr has said. “There are terrorist cells ready to strike and there are threats of new attacks.”

“Nahr al-Bared could make things worse,” said one Western diplomat in Beirut who spoke to AFP on condition of anonymity.

“Ninety percent of Lebanese support their army, but an active minority will be susceptible to radical propaganda. On the Internet they call the Christian head of state the ‘crusader general’, and the impact of pictures of US planes with cargoes of weapons at Beirut airport has been devastating.”

A rumour is also circulating among jihadist Internet forums that ships from the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon patrolling the coast after last year’s war have fired on Nahr al-Bared.

“It’s false, of course,” said the diplomat. “But if enough people believe it that doesn’t matter – the effect is the same.”

In Tripoli a man so close to local Sunni radicals that he did not want to be identified told AFP that among the militants in Nahr al-Bared are some who fought against the army in Denniyeh. …
Advertiser Adelaide

(my emphasis)

Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

June 25th, 2007, 10:50 am

 

21. Akbar Palace said:

Alex said:

Uri is right. Hamas will not disappear.

Alex,

I think you, Uri, Ausamaa, and the rest of the Syrian Comment apologists should go to Gaza and live there and take part in the “political process”. You’d feel right at home!

Hamas has basically done to themselves what they do to innocent civilians: They blew themselves up. Politically, they’ve alienated themselves, severely damaged the Palestinian cause, and now only have the Iranian, Syrian, and pro-jihadist bloggers to rely on. What a sorry group of thugs.

Anyway, let me know. I’ll help you pack your bags!

BTW – Did anyone see, “Banned by PBS: Muslims against jihad”?

http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,285695,00.html

Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

June 25th, 2007, 12:01 pm

 

22. Zenobia said:

Anybody want to offer anymore song lyrics….to explain political reality???
a Hamas song perhaps?
not “The Police” i think though…:)

Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

June 25th, 2007, 2:14 pm

 

23. Atassi said:

=======================================================
Iranians accelerate crackdown on dissent As economy falters, Ahmadinejad moves against multiple foes
Neil MacFarquhar
The New York Times Media Group
25 June 2007
International Herald Tribune

Iran is in the throes of one of its most ferocious crackdowns on dissent in years, analysts say, with the government focusing on labor leaders, universities, the press, women’s rights advocates, a former nuclear negotiator and Iranian-Americans, three of whom have been in prison for more than six weeks.

The shift is occurring against the backdrop of an economy so stressed that although Iran is the world’s second-largest oil exporter, it is on the verge of rationing gasoline. At the same time, the nuclear standoff with the West threatens to bring new sanctions.

The hard-line administration of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the analysts said, faces rising pressure for failing to deliver on promises of greater prosperity from soaring oil revenue. It has been using U.S. support for a change in government as well as a possible military attack as the pretext to hound his opposition and its sympathizers.

Some analysts described the government’s reaction as a “cultural revolution,” an attempt to roll back the clock to the time of the 1979 revolution, when the newly formed Islamic Republic combined religious zeal and anti-imperialist rhetoric to assert itself as a regional leader.

Equally noteworthy is how little has been permitted to be discussed in the Iranian news media. Instead, attention has been strategically focused on Ahmadinejad’s political enemies, like the former president, Mohammad Khatami, and the controversy over whether he violated Islamic morals by deliberately shaking hands with an unfamiliar woman after he gave a speech in Rome.

Young men wearing T-shirts deemed too tight or haircuts seen as too Western have been paraded bleeding through Tehran’s streets by uniformed police officers who force them to suck on plastic jerrycans, a toilet item that Iranians use to wash their buttocks. In case anyone misses the point, it is the official news agency Fars that distributes the pictures of what it calls “riffraff.” Photographs of far-bloodier images are circulating on blogs and on the Internet.

Iran’s police chief boasted that 150,000 people were detained in the annual spring sweep against any clothing considered not Islamic – a number far larger than in springs past.

More than 30 women’s rights advocates were arrested in one day in March, Human Rights Watch reported, five of whom have been sentenced to prison terms of up to four years. They were charged with endangering national security for organizing an Internet campaign to collect more than a million signatures supporting the removal of all laws that discriminate against women.

Eight student leaders at Tehran’s Amir Kabir University, the site of one of the few public protests against Ahmadinejad, disappeared into Evin Prison in early May. Student newspapers had published articles suggesting that no humans were infallible, including the Prophet Muhammad and Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

The National Security Council sent a stern three-page warning to all newspaper editors that detailed banned topics, including the rise in gasoline prices and other economic woes like possible new international sanctions, negotiations with the United States over the future of Iraq, civil-society movements and the Iranian- American arrests.

Hadi Ghaemi, an Iran analyst for Human Rights Watch, said the entire campaign was “a strong message by Ahmadinejad’s government, security and intelligence forces that they are in control of the domestic situation.”

The analyst added: “But it’s really a sign of weakness and insecurity.”

At least three prominent nongovernmental organizations that pushed for broader legal rights have been closed down outright, while hundreds more have been forced underground. A recent article on the Baztab Web site said that about 8,000 nongovernmental organizations were in jeopardy, forced to prove their “innocence,” basically because the government suspects all of them of being potential conduits for about $75 million the United States has earmarked to promote a change in government.

Professors have been warned against attending overseas conferences or having any contact with foreign governments, lest they be recruited as spies.

Analysts trace the broadening crackdown to a March speech by Khamenei, whose pronouncements carry the weight of law. He warned that no one should damage national unity when the West was waging psychological war on Iran. The country has been under fire, particularly from the United States, which accuses it of trying to develop nuclear weapons and of fomenting some of the violence in Iraq.

Ahmadinejad and other senior officials have dismissed all the criticism as carping. The president blames the previous administration for inflation and calls it media exaggeration, while Tehran’s chief prosecutor, Said Mortazavi, said Iranians who oppose the Islamic Republic look for an excuse to criticize it.

The three Iranian-Americans have all been detained essentially on the grounds that they were either recruiting or somehow abetting a U.S. attempt to achieve a “velvet revolution” in Iran.

They are being held in the notorious Section 209 of Evin Prison, the wing controlled by the Intelligence Ministry, and have been denied visits by lawyers or relatives. Iran recognizes only their Iranian nationality and has dismissed any diplomatic efforts to intervene.

A rally to demand their release is set for Wednesday outside the United Nations.

The three are Haleh Esfandiari, director of the Middle East program at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars; Kian Tajbakhsh, an urban planning consultant with the Open Society Institute; and Ali Shakeri, of the Center for Citizen Peacebuilding at the University of California at Irvine. A fourth, Parnaz Azima, a journalist who works for Radio Farda, a U.S.-financed station based in Europe, has been barred from leaving the country.

“People don’t want to come to conferences, they don’t even want to talk on the phone,” said Abbas Milani, director of the Iranian studies program at Stanford University. “The regime has created an atmosphere of absolute terror.”

To the political crackdown, Ahmadinejad adds a messianic fervor, Milani noted, telling students in Qum this month that the Muslim savior would soon return. The appeal of such a message may be limited, however.

Iran’s sophisticated middle class wants to be connected to the world, and grumbles that the country’s only friends are Syria, Belarus, Venezuela and Cuba. But it might play well with Ahmadinejad’s main constituency.

“They are the poor, the rural,” said Vali Nasr of the Council on Foreign Relations. “They don’t travel abroad, they don’t go to conferences. He is trying to undermine the social and political position of his rivals in order to consolidate his own people.”

Most ascribe Ahmadinejad’s motives to blocking what could become a formidable alliance between the camps of Khatami and Hashemi Rafsanjani, both former presidents. Parliamentary elections are scheduled early next year, and the next presidential vote in 2009.

“Having to face a single pragmatic conservative and reform bloc is extremely threatening,” Nasr said, hence the intimidation of all possible supporters.

Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

June 25th, 2007, 3:44 pm

 

24. t_desco said:

“AN AUSTRALIAN Islamist, Bassem al-Sayyed, has been killed in a 10-hour gun battle with Lebanese soldiers in northern Lebanon, Lebanese media have claimed.

Lebanon’s Daily Star newspaper said Mr Sayyed, who had dual Australian-Lebanese nationality, was killed with his Lebanese wife and five other armed foreign militants when the army laid siege to an apartment block in Tripoli’s Abu Samra district on Sunday.

In Sydney, the family of Ibrahim Sabouh, one of the three Australians arrested at the weekend over clashes between Islamic extremists and the Lebanese army, denied he had any connection to extremism.”
The Age

“”The men arrested in raids in Abu Samra are neither Fatah al-Islam nor Al-Qaeda,” Sunni Sheikh Omar Bakri Mohammad told The Daily Star. “They belong to a group founded by Nabil Rahim, an imam of an organization known as Ahl al-Hadith.”

The group has about 220 members, according to Bakri, who has lived in Abu Samra since being barred from the United Kingdom eight months ago.

Bakri said the group’s leader is on the run. He also said the building where the militants were killed Sunday is barely 500 meters from his home.

Bakri added that the army had raided the home of his next-door neighbor, who is currently in Australia, early on Saturday.

A spokesman for Australia’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade said Sunday that three men with Australian citizenship had been arrested by Lebanese security forces in Tripoli.

Lebanese security officials, however, said that only one man with Australian citizenship had been arrested in Tripoli.

Security forces also engaged Sunday in raids in the eastern Bekaa Valley, arresting three suspected members of an Islamist group: Lebanese Saad Allah Mohammad Ibrahim, Syrian Safwan Abdel-Rahim Abdel-Rahim, and Yemeni Ali Mohammad Zyed. …”
The Daily Star

“Both Mr Sabouh and Mr al Sayyed were students of radical Sydney-born cleric Sheikh Feiz Mohammed, 37, who is also based in Lebanon after he was caught on hate DVDs urging children to die for Allah.

Islamic sources said Mr Sabouh, who has lived in northern Lebanon with his wife and three children for more than a year, was linked with the radical Global Islamic Youth Centre at Liverpool in outer Sydney.”
Herald Sun

Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

June 25th, 2007, 5:30 pm

 

25. Joshua said:

Lyrics from The Police are actually quite appropriate on Syria Comment.

The drummer and founder of The Police, Stuart Copeland, is the son of Miles Copeland, a trumpet player and the CIA agent who helped Husni Zaim, the Syrian Chief of Staff, to power in 1949. It was the first coup to overturn democracy and parliamentary life in Syria. The democratically elected president, Shukri al-Quwatli, was imprisoned.

Stuart Copeland got his first major record deal thanks to his older brother, Miles Copeland III, who founded I.R.S. (International Record Syndicate) Records a major entertainment company.

Ian Copeland, another brother, who was born in Damascus, became a major booking agent who helped launch the New Wave movement in the United States. In 1979, Ian founded Frontier Booking International (FBI) in New York, a talent agency.

Stuart named the band, Police, in honor of his father. IRS and FBI were also riffs on their father’s CIA past. They have always had an interest in Lebanon, where they were brought up.

Perhaps not the best thing to commemorate peace, but certainly germane to Syria.

Record Lable, IRS

Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

June 25th, 2007, 6:41 pm

 

26. Majhool said:

Hesitant to support or go against the Syrian Regime, I tried to list major deliverables that I (merely a Syrian citizen) would like for the Syrian government to achieve to get my support:

1) The Palestinian Cause:
a. Support (politically and economically) consolidated, legitimate, accountable, and moderate leadership capable of negotiating a peace deal with Israel.
b. Take conservative approach towards Islamists groups by
i. Engaging these groups into the decision making process/
ii. Apposing their unilateral arm actions against Israel or other Palestinian groups.
2) Lebanon:
a. Support a consolidated pro-Syrian, accountable, & strong government in Lebanon
i. Improve relations with Sunni and Maronite communities
ii. Support the independence of the Lebanese government
iii. Replace the corrupt pro-Syria base of support in Lebanon by more accountable and legitimate (representative) base.
iv. Eliminate all Syrian financial corruption in Lebanon
v. Work with the Lebanese government to gradually and systematically eliminate all armed militias including Hizbollah
vi. Support replacing the confessional system with accountable representative system that will strengthen the Lebanese state
3) Israel
a. Negotiate a comprehensive peace deal with Israel good enough that will help Syria’s alignment with the Arab block.
b. The return of the Golan Heights
4) Syria
a. Improve the legitimacy of the Syrian Government
i. Create a new more representative parliamentary law
ii. Come up with a more legitimate platform to replace the “national progressive front”
b. Improve the accountability of the Syrian Government
i. Eliminate emergency laws
ii. Enforce the rule of law and curb corruption
iii. Improve freedom of press.
c. Reconcile with segments of the society associated with the Muslim Brotherhood especially those who did no participate in acts of violence. Ease travel restrictions and put an end to acts of retribution towards their families.
d. Curb extremism by allowing civil community-run and driven secular institutions to operate freely. ( Tala2e3 and Shabibeh are not working)

How far do you guys think the Syrian government is from delivering the above?

Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

June 25th, 2007, 6:49 pm

 

27. Majhool said:

I have been awaiting moderation for two days now!! what’s the policy here?

Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

June 25th, 2007, 6:52 pm

 

28. Majhool said:

Let’s admit it Arab and Muslim Societies are prone to radicalism and this is a result of hundreds of years of backward ideologies and lack of enlightenment . Japan and Germany both did not react so radically to American Occupation after world war II, instead they worked it out to their advantage ( and to the Americans of course), somewhat of a win-win situation. The case is different in the Arab world, Radical forces thrive on opposing change and Iraq is a perfect example. The radical and sometimes fanatical nature of Arab and Muslim Societies will take decades even with the best of intentions.

Dictatorships in the middle east are solely interested in their survivals and managed to coexist with radicalism. Dictatorship thrive on corruption and the elimination of personal freedoms both of which are fuel to radicalism, however dictatorship brutality keeps radicalism in check ensuring their mutual survival. Mubarak of Egypt latest spin is a perfect example.

Changing the radical nature of our societies is probably the best long term objective we can ever have. This could only be led by governments. Accountability and legitimacy hence are prerequisites to such an effort. that comes to be impossible when governments rely on radicalism to survive.

In the case of accountable governments, the country’s position and strength amongst other nations is of a benefit that normally trickles down to the average person. However that’s not necessary the case in Arab and Muslim dictatorships. take Syria for example in the 90s where Syria’s strength was at it’s zenith, the Syrian economy was incredibly stagnant and the average person was left to poverty and enslavement by the brutal and powerful dictatorships.

The Americans are not helping , I hope to God they focus on promoting accountable and consolidated governments and leave the rest to us.

The Syrian Government is extremely corrupt and is not accountable in any shape or form, let a lone it’s not legitimate in the eyes of many. This is a perfect platform for radicalism to thrive. American intervention will only make things worst.

Ironically this puts minority groups (especially Alawis) in Syria in Danger of retribution by other communities if abrupt change was to happen anytime in the near future. Unless they are planning on having their own state in west of Syria.

I believe many who are against Syria’s hegemony over Lebanon are such not because they are not interested in powerful geopolitical position in the region, but only because Lebanon served as a corruption outlet to the Syrian elite and ensured strength and brutality in Syria itself.

Lebanon’s confessional system is not any better. Just another corrupt system. It’s even worst as it’s very weak, and prone to outside influence and patronage.

Accountability, Accountability, and more accountability is all what we need…I think

Alex, Any thoughts?

Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

June 25th, 2007, 7:02 pm

 

29. t_desco said:

Wow, we already know Nabil Rahim:

“About one month later, Beeshi traveled to Lebanon, where he was met by Abu Baker, a Lebanese, upon arrival at Rafik Hariri airport, As Safir reported.

It said Abu Baker escorted Beeshi to the house of sheikh N.R. in the northern port city of Tripoli, where Yehyi, who goes by his nom de guerre of Talha, was waiting for him.”
Naharnet/As-Safir, 19 Jun 07

“Sheikh N.R.” is indeed Nabil Rahim, as you can see from this French translation of an al-Watan article:

“* Arabie saoudite / Liban : Al-Watan fait état des enquêtes sécuritaires et judiciaires libanaises et des résultats de l’interrogatoire du Saoudien Abdallah Al-Bichi, qui a admis connaître parfaitement le dirigeant du mouvement Fatah al-islam, le palestino-jordanien Chaker Al-Absi, et certains dirigeants de l’organisation, qui l’avaient sollicité pour des leçons religieuses et des idées sur le djihad. Selon des informations importantes, Al-Bichi a été arrêté au Liban pour appartenance à la Qa’ida et à Fatah al-islam, lorsqu’il tentait de quitter le Liban pour la Syrie le 13 février dernier, date de l’attentat contre le bus de Bickfaya dans la montagne libanaise. Al-Bichi était résolu à élargir ses activités et ses cours en Iraq, où l’Emir de la Qa’ida à Al-Anbar l’attendait, afin qu’il puisse accomplir la mission dont il était chargé.

Al-Bichi est né à Riyad en 1976 et a habité le quartier al-Raouda. Il enseignait l’Islam à l’institut scientifique de Rafha. Il a quitté l’Arabie en juillet 2006 à destination de l’Iran, à la demande de deux membres de la Qa’ida, Ahmed Al-Assir et Khaled Al-Fallaj, afin d’y rencontre le Kurde iranien « Abou Mohamed » dans la ville de Sandraj et d’y donner des leçons et des conférences religieuses sur le droit et le Djihad à certains jeunes kurdes.

Alors qu’il résidait chez Abou Mohamed, un Saoudien, Abdul Rahman Al-Yehya, alias Abou Talhat al-Saoudi, lui a rendu visite et deux semaines plus tard, ce dernier a quitté l’Iran pour le Liban par voie aérienne, rejoint quinze jours après par Al-Bichi. A l’aéroport de Beyrouth, il a été accueilli par le Libanais Abou Bakr et conduit à la résidence de Cheikh Nabih Rehayem à Tripoli où l’attendait Talhat. C’est là qu’il a fait la connaissance du gendre d’Al-Absi, Hani Al-Sankari, alias Abi Elias, et du Saoudien Abou Richad qui recrutaient de jeunes saoudiens pour combattre dans les rangs de Fatah al-islam à Nahr el-bared et les entraînaient.

Par la suite, Al-Bichi s’est rendu au camp de Nahr el-Bared avec les autres, où l’attendait Chaker Absi afin d’y donner des cours de religion. Au cours de son séjour dans le camp, Al-Bichi a connu les dirigeants de l’organisation. Toutefois, ayant constaté les mauvais traitements infligés aux jeunes réfugiés du camp, il les a encouragés à revenir dans leur pays, suscitant des tensions entre lui et les responsables de Fatah al-islam. C’est ce qui a encouragé Absi a demandé à Abou Elias d’envoyer Al-Bichi en Iraq. Au cours de la phase préparatoire du voyage, Al-Bichi a résidé à Tripoli mais n’a jamais rompu les liens avec le camp. Il se chargeait d’y transporter les munitions et les explosifs.”
Presse du 19 juin 2007

Searching for Nabil Rahim I also found this article which unfortunately does not give any sources, but it explains the article by As-Safir criticized by me above (which mentions a link between Ahmed Abu Adass and one member of a cell arrested in Tripoli’s Abu Samra district in April):

“A la fin du mois de mars, deux cheikhs salafistes ont passé la frontière syro-libanaise au poste de Masnaa. L’un était Saoudien, l’autre Syrien. Informés, les services de renseignement de l’armée (le 2ème Bureau) les ont interceptés. Dès leur entrée sur le territoire libanais, ils avaient envoyé plus d’une trentaine d’appels téléphoniques au cheikh Nabil Rahim (4) de Tripoli.

Le nom de Rahim a été cité au cours de l’enquête sur l’assassinat de Rafic Hariri. Interrogé par la police, il a nié connaître les deux cheikhs arrivés par la Syrie. Un délais ” de réflexion ” de 24 heures lui a été accordé.

Ayant été laissé en liberté, il a préféré prendre le large et disparaître. Les autorités libanaises ont alors lancé une vague d’arrestations touchant des élèves de Rahim et des personnes assistant à ses prêches.

4) Nabil Rahim est un idéologue salafiste, diplômé de l’institut islamique d’Al Hedaya. Cet institut est dirigé par le cheikh Daï Al-Islam Chahhal, le fondateur du courant salafiste libanais. Nabil Rahim a fondé pour sa part l’institut Dar Al-Hadith, réservé aux femmes pour l’étude de la religion. Son nom a été mentionné dans le premier rapport rédigé par Mehlis sur l’assassinat de Rafic Hariri.”

According to As-Safir, the person who escaped from the raid on the “institut Dar Al-Hadith” was also the person who knew Abu Adass.

So, the person allegedly linked to Abu Adass is none other than… Nabil Rahim himself!

The only problem is that I can’t find him anywhere in the first Mehlis report.

Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

June 25th, 2007, 7:26 pm

 

30. majedkhaldoun said:

President Mubarak and king Abdullah of Jordan,both are shaking, and afraid of Hamas in Gaza,they said it may embolden the MB in their countries,they consider Hamas as a threat to their national security,this is exactly how traitors react to honest popular movement actions,the arab people must rise against their dictators,who are all traitors,and new middle east leaders are needed,where freedom is the rule,corruption is ended,and the goverments truely represent their people.VIVA HAMAS.

Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

June 25th, 2007, 10:03 pm

 

31. Enlightened said:

Joshua;

Thanks for telling us about Stuart Copeland, as a young Police Fan ( I bought thier first tape when I was 9, Id almost forgotten that Stuarts father was the CIA chief , but i recall he was based in Beirut, and Stuart was born and educated in Beirut.

Semantics maybe, but Damn they had good songs and very good Guitar riffs. Their earlier influences were termed more white reggae, with Jazz fusion before the NEW WAVE label became popular.

Ahhhhhhh reminiscing I even played one of their songs for my higher Scool certificate when i did music (walking on the moon).

Joshua, i might not agree with some of your political viewpoints, but alas you have proven to me that you are no nerdish professor, well you might have stlye as well did you listen to New order as well? lol

Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

June 26th, 2007, 2:19 am

 

Post a comment