Posted by Joshua on Thursday, November 23rd, 2006
I appeared on the PBS News Hour to discuss the Lebanon situation across from Hisham Milhem this evening – Wednesday, November 22. The transcript is here.
Lebanon Struggles to Maintain Stability After Assassination
PBS – USA, Nov. 22, 2006
RAY SUAREZ: Hisham, Joshua Landis suggests both sides playing hands where the United States doesn't hold very many good cards, doesn't have very many good …
Commentary: The Lebanese Civil War is not over. The battle for control of Lebanon was never confined to parliament as it should have been in order to mark a true end to civil strife. Instead it has continued to be fought on the streets Beirut with assassinations and the blood of innocents. The murder of Gemayel reminds us that the struggle for Lebanon remains a blood sport.
The targeted assassinations of Hariri, Gemayel, and many others by the Lebanese opposition demonstrates its efficacy and cold blooded precision.
By contrast, the scatter bomb has come to symbolize the misdirected efforts of the United States and its allies to retain Lebanon in a Western orbit. Israel failed to kill Hizbullah's leader Shaykh Nasrallah this summer, or to assassinate his lieutenants, as it said it would. Instead it laid down a bed of scatter bombs in southern Lebanon that continues to kill or maim primarily women and children. The pro-American Lebanese have been unable to protect their leaders or kill their opponents. Not so the anti-American forces in Lebanon. The superior firepower of the West has done little but stir up a hornets nest and underscore its impotence in the Lebanese theater of war. This is the hard reality of Lebanon.
If the situation continues along this path, the Lebanese government will be forced to bend to the opposition's demands and either call new elections or expand the cabinet to give Hizbullah and its allies veto power government decisions. [end]
I have not been posting because I am in Chicago visiting friends for Thanksgiving. I did not bring my computer for the first time in three years!
All the same, I have been busy talking with reporters, all of whom want to know if Syria is responsible. Here are a few of the news articles that have used quotes of mine in the last few days.
Gemayel's Killing Hits US Mideast Policy
Naharnet – Beirut,Lebanon
An early casualty may be the idea of dialogue with U.S. foes Damascus and Tehran. "It is going to be much harder," said Joshua Landis, a Syria expert and co-director of Peace Studies at the University of Oklahoma. …
Lebanon "certainly was the sort of crown jewel in the administration's Middle East portfolio, but they are going to have to regroup," said Schenker who served Bush as a Pentagon Middle East advisor.
Bilal Saab said the failure of the Saniora government would be a "setback for the Bush administration."
"The Americans believe that this government is capable of advancing U.S. interests — the flourishing of democracy in the region — and they see Lebanon an example of democracy taking its way," he said.
Landis was blunter. "Lebanon is the last success story. If it falls, it is the end," he said.
"The U.S. is going to use Lebanon as a battering ram," against Syria and Iran, Landis said. Syria meanwhile, "feels the tide is running out on America's imperial authority in the Middle East."(AFP)
Lebanon slaying dims chances of US overture to Syria
International Herald Tribune, By Sally Buzbee, Wed, Nov. 22, 2006
… since. "In some ways you can read this as upping the ante," said Joshua Landis, a Syria expert at the University of Oklahoma. Most …
Beirut aftershocks hit US Mideast policy
Khaleej Times – Dubai,United Arab Emirates, Wed, Nov. 22, 2006
… “It is going to be much harder,” said Joshua Landis…
Syria Is Prime Suspect, But Not the Only One, in Gemayel …
Voice of America – USA, By Gary Thomas, 22 November 2006
… Joshua Landis, a Syria expert and co-director of the Center for Peace Studies at the University of Oklahoma, says Gemayel's killing could have been done by …
Iran summit idea could assist US, analysts say
San Francisco Chronicle – CA, USA
Washington's in paralysis. They don't know what their policy will be," said Joshua Landis, a Syria expert at the University of Oklahoma. Given the fears that Iraq may collapse into complete chaos, said Landis, "Iraq and the neighbors cannot afford to wait two, three, four months for Washington to figure out who's on first, who's on second and what their Iraq policy is. So they're driving the situation right now."
While it's unlikely the White House is prepared to begin those talks without preconditions, such as Iran abandoning its nuclear program or Syria doing more to secure its borders, some analysts warn that America stands to lose even more if it simply stands by while Iran and Syria sit down with Iraq to discuss that tattered nation's future.
"You don't want that. America wants to be leading this policy and working together with these people," he said. "If this meeting doesn't happen, the next one will, unless America gets on the phone and talks to both of these capitals and says we're going to work something out with you."
Envisioning US Talks With Iran and Syria
New York Times, Michael Slackman, Nov. 19, 2006
… “Syria is quite realistic, if proud and stubborn,” said Joshua Landis, an assistant professor of Middle Eastern Studies at the University of Oklahoma.“It will accept serious American offers and insist that the problems be dealt with comprehensively.”
Focusing on Iraq, Afghanistan and the Israel-Palestinian conflict might be a realistic way for the United States to navigate with Iran and Syria. That is true partly because the Iranians and Syrians both understand, no matter how reluctant they are to express it publicly, that the United States can help them stabilize their regimes and help settle regional problems. “You can’t have a deal in the Middle East without the Americans, regardless of the judgment we carry,” said an Arab diplomat who spoke on the condition his name and nationality not be identified because of the sensitive nature of the topic.
But bolstering those regimes is a lot to ask of the United States….
In any event, Mr. Hadley said last week, America would never trade away its determination to stop Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon in return for help in Iraq.
Curbing the Crisis in Lebanon
Voice of America, 16 November 2006
… This conflict, says Joshua Landis, Director of the Center for Peace Studies at the University of Oklahoma, focuses on two diverging views. "One is that Lebanon belongs with the West, with the United States. And that's what's being upheld by the March 14 crowd. The other is that the United States is bad for the Middle East. It's brought war. It's brought an Israeli invasion, and that Lebanon belongs with Syria, [it] belongs with the Arab nations, and belongs with Islam. And that is the major dispute and it's the fundamental identity question that Lebanon has yet to resolve," says Landis.