“The Sin in Syria is Low Wages,” by Ehsani

The Sin in Syria is Low Wages
By Ehsani
for Syria Comment
October 17, 2010

My motivation for writing this essay is to offer a counter argument to an article that I read this morning by a fellow Syrian who lashed out at the Syrian private sector. The article is by Abu Fares, “The Syrian Private Sector: A Socioeconomic Farce,” which was posted on his website.  As regular readers of Syria Comment know, I have consistently and forcefully sided with the economic reform process in Syria.

Indeed, my only lament is that it is too little too late. I believe that the process has not been fast enough or radical enough. I am fully aware that my support for the reform process is not shared by a significant number of Syrians. This is not surprising. Change will produce new winners and losers. In this short essay, I will first list the winners and losers of the socialist era. I will then explain how the reform process has caught most Syrians off guard and unprepared for the changes that they must face. The failure of many Syrians to understand what needs to be fixed in order to assure the next generation a better life is causing many to blame the reform process and the private sector for the growing poverty and income disparity in our country. It has also brought growing anger at those leading and benefiting from the change.

The winners of the pre-reform system

The socialist experiment that dates back to the 1960’s was launched by confiscating private property, nationalizing industries and giving the state a dominant role in the economy. Moreover, the nationalist fever as well as the geopolitical considerations of the period demanded a policy of self-sufficiency and import substitution when it comes to production and the raw materials needed for this output. It was not difficult to see who the winners were likely to be in this system.

The growth of the public sector meant that the state would be the destination of first choice for young Syrians who did not necessarily have the education or skills that may have been required by a none-state employer. Since these public sector jobs were secure till retirement, it was not difficult to see how government jobs multiplied to exceed two million in number over the past three decades. The way these jobs were allocated usually had little to do with merit or qualifications. Indeed, they were largely dolled out by senior party and government officials for personal gain and to buy loyalty from underlings. Stories of of the occasional kickback paid to secure a key government job quickly gave way to persistent rumors of how nepotism and the selling of state position had become institutionalized over time.

The goal of staying independent and self-sufficient also produced its own winners. For almost forty years, the most coveted trophy of local manufacturers was to secure “himaye watanniye” or protection from imports for their products. The allure of this trophy also meant a huge source of income to senior party and government officials. Local manufacturers were more than happy to pay. One of my close friends was smart enough to start producing ketchup over 20 years ago. His business plan was simple. Pay whatever it takes to obtain the himaye wataniye for his product. Once he did, he flew to Germany (China was not in the game then) and bought the cheapest and most primitive production line available. A few months later, he had the Syrian market largely to himself. Imports of ketchup were not permitted. The Syrian consumer had little choice but to buy this third-rate product enriching my lucky (or smart) relative for close to a decade.

The local manufacturers not only benefited from a monopolistic business environment but also from ridiculously subsidized and cheap heating fuel (mazot), electricity and water. For decades, they enjoyed nearly free inputs for their production and no competition. If this were not enough, they sent their children to state schools and universities for free and paid almost no taxes.

Who were the losers of this system?

The vast resources that were used to subsidize the public sector could have been spent on infrastructure, health care, and export incentives. The average Syrian citizen has paid a very heavy price in the form of run down services and national infrastructure. What is more, Syria has few of the vigorous state institutions and private corporations that would have grown up in a properly competitive system with some measure of quality control and accountability.

The education system has also suffered. Rather than offering totally free education that has become unsustainable and cannot keep up with quality necessary for today’s demanding market, the state should be means-testing students and asking the wealthy to pay something. If not for elementary education and high school, at least for university.

Other obvious losers are Syrian consumers who have been forced to buy inferior local products for decades. They have subsidized local manufacturers, which are today uncompetitive for the most part and will soon collapse if they have not already been driven into bankruptcy.  University graduates in anything other than the schools of medicine and engineering were also losers.

Allow me to relate a personal story to make an important point. When I decided to study Economics in the UK in the late 1970’s, most of my parents’ friends and relatives were bewildered. “Why would you spend this much money on your son to study Economics?” they were often asked. What would he do with this degree? Will he Work as a teller at the local commercial bank of Syria when he returns? What would be his salary? Would it not make more sense if he simply joined his father’s business form now and saved you the money? Interestingly, all Syrian students of that era had to obtain what was referred to at the time as “taleb taht al-ishraf” or student under government supervision. With strict currency control in place, it was impossible for my parents to pay for my tuition unless I qualified. But, it was impossible to qualify as a student of Economics. You had to do either Engineering or medicine to obtain the government approval. Given that computer engineering was a new subject at the time, I enrolled myself in that department for one course and used a letter from the university that I was indeed taking part in their “engineering” school. The trick worked. I proceeded to earn my Economics degree and then my MBA from an Ivy League school in the U.S. When I arrived at the latter institution, I was greeted by the admission officer this way:

“Welcome, you are the first Syrian we have had here since 1964”. These words still ring in my ear some 27 years later. My relatives were correct though. There was nothing for me to do with my new degree in Syria.

The reform process:

I will spare the readers the history of the reform process or the geopolitical events that may have led to the possible delay in its implementation. What is important is that the train has departed the station. Reform began with the introduction of the private bank law back in 2003-2004.

The system of himaye wattaniye was slowly dismantled. Local manufacturers are no longer able to sell inferior products as quasi-monopolies. They now needed to compete with relentless regional producers who are mostly exempt from import duties thanks to the Arab free trade agreement. The recent opening to Turkey has added a new formidable competitor. The same can be said about imports from China. In sum, the local Syrian manufacturing base is now facing an onslaught that it is ill-prepared to face following years of protection and underinvestment. If this was not enough, government officials must have used their excel spreadsheets to figure out that the existing level of subsidies cannot possibly continue. The reduction and streamlining of some of these subsidies has dealt a further blow to the profitability of local producers.

The growth of the public sector has slowed down as government jobs have largely disappeared. The state sector has endured a hiring freeze for a number of years. Who is hiring now? Who are the winners in the new system? What are we to make of recent reports detailing the “incredible” and “shocking” salaries of the senior executives of the country’s new private banks?

These questions and more were posed by Abu Fares in his article, “The Syrian Private Sector: A Socioeconomic Farce”. Reading his post this morning inspired me to write this article.

To be sure, Abu Fares’ article makes for entertaining reading. It is hard to disagree with his negative portrayal of the current income disparity in Syria. However, his story is akin to taking a snapshot of a movie without watching its start, middle or end. What is noteworthy is that while Abu Fares lashes out against the rich, both the nouveau and old money, he conveniently omits any discussion of why the poor make a measly monthly salary of SYP 11,000 (US$ 234). Central to his article is the following question that he poses to his readers:

“Who in the hell gets paid a salary of $42,000 a month in Syria? While the average accountant’s monthly salary is $400 in the private sector, some accountants are making $20,000 and up”?

Since he did not attempt to answer his own question, I thought that I would give it a shot:

Those making a salary of $42,000 a month or $504,000 a year are the general managers of the country’s private banks. Is this an excessive salary? No. The compensation system of such banks is decided on by an independent board and the institution’s human resource department. Had any of the boards been able to recruit their managers for $4200 instead of $42,000, they would have gladly done so. The truth is that they cannot.

Syrian universities cannot produce qualified bank executives that can manage $1 billion balance sheets. Indeed, Syrian universities cannot even produce English speaking graduates that can take basic starting jobs at financial institutions. As a result, the boards of these banks have had to recruit their top managers from abroad. The only way such qualified individuals would choose to leave their existing jobs and come to Syria, which is under economic sanctions and presents them with a difficult and insecure working environment is if they are paid competitively. While Abufares and most Syrians may think $42,000 is outrageous, they are misinformed. Were they aware of the salaries earned by senior bankers in the rest of the world, they would not be shocked. Syria is slowly becoming part of the global economy again and that is good news. It is going to cause Syrians more than a few shocks.

To look at the problem in a different way, we should not be shocked at the bank manager who earns $42,000 a month but the accountant who goes home with only $400 at the end of the month and must face his family.  It is not the Four Seasons hotel and its prices that should dismay us but the fact that Damascus only has one 5-star hotel. Dubai has over 70. Similarly, it is not the $170,000 Beemer that should make us angry but the fact that so many Syrians must still ride “battered micro-buses with 9 sweaty (and stinking) passengers” who live below the poverty line.

Syria is slowly taking its place in the global market place. Rather than venting against the reformers and the private sector, people must direct their anger at the socialist planners whose ill-advised past policies had held back their country’s infrastructure, education, heath care, competitiveness, productivity, incomes and standards of living for way too long.

The days of getting an eternal government job by making a call to a senior party operative are over. The days of being employed in the public sector without a high school degree are gone. The times of stuffing consumers with inferior products by banning imports have disappeared. In order to get off that smelly bus you now need to learn English, have computer skills, learn credit analysis, and be proficient in new computer software, advertising, marketing and commercial law.

While on the subject, the Syrian public would do better to cease its attacks on Mr. Dardari and the reformers. Better that they embrace the changes underway and get on the train. The President would not have kept Mr. Dardari in this job had he not agreed and supported the spirit of the process underway. No reform process is perfect. I, for one, think that it has been, if anything, too slow. I wish the word “socialism” would be dropped from the constitution. I also wish that we would stop pretending to be half-pregnant with terms like “social market economy”.

I would be ecstatic if the government stopped supporting its 250 losing businesses and embark on a privatization drive. I wish Mr. Dardari would further reduce the subsidies (eliminate all that goes to the wealthy by means testing) and use the savings to spend money on education and export incentives. The reformers must also better articulate their message to the public by explaining the merits of the reform process and how the old system cannot possibly continue. They must show through a simple excel sheet analysis that state coffers will be drained if bread, fuel, sugar, electricity, rice and tea subsidies plus free education keep on being dolled out at the present pace. There is no free lunch. The more you spend on subsidies and inefficient businesses, the less you can spend on education, health care, infrastructure and export promotion.

The money to fund all these programs will have to come from somewhere. Printing money will be the last resort. As for the high price of real estate, reforms must address the speed of the “tanzeem” otherwise known as the process by which more land becomes zoned and prepared for residential use. In sum, while we all may have own criticisms of the process, the public must be made to unite around the fact that the general thrust of the reform policy is sound, appropriate and necessary.

It is time for the Syrian public to realize that rather than criticizing the new Syria, they must lament the old Syria which could not keep its promise of growth, higher incomes and rising standards of living. The days of quitting school and opening a “dekkane” or store and expecting to thrive and grow wealthy are over. It is now Carrefour, the new malls and international brands, Lafarge, the banks and the new expected leasing companies that will become the employers of choice for Syria’s youth. Syria needs to start graduating MBA’s and not only engineers and doctors. The best and brightest of the country ought to start to entertain thinking about careers in advertising, banking, leasing, commercial law and private equity and not just medicine. The $42,000 a month ought to work as an incentive rather than a source of frustration and anger.

The cancer of corruption

While Abufares and the Syrian public have the right to wonder about income disparities, they should direct some of their anger and frustration at Syria’s past economic mismanagement rather than present reforms.  The vast majority of Syrians who eek out an existence on pitiful salaries should not be seen as the norm. The most disturbing feature of the so-called socialist system has been the culture of corruption that it has created for us – a culture that will be very difficult to undo. The pitiful civil servant salaries have institutionalized official corruption to levels that are difficult to fathom.

The best example of such corruption can be seen in the scandal that has recently come to light in Aleppo in the area of real estate cooperatives. This article details the cancer that now plagues city officials. They abuse an archaic system far removed from the functioning of free markets to enrich their pockets and those of mid-level government officials to the tune of hundreds of millions. This cost is born by the average citizen. I encourage readers to go through the comments section of the article in order to understand the depth and seriousness of the problem. The prime minister has recently convened a meeting of his ministers to discuss the runaway prices of real estate and what to do about it. Regrettably, we are unlikely to see concrete actions taken to address this issue any time soon. It is disturbing to see the government paralyzed as it has watched the prices of real estate soar to stratospheric heights over the past 5 years. It has offered no explanation or solution. There is a lot that can and should be done. Untaxed empty apartments dot the country. Speculation in land is a national pastime. Tanzeem takes decades and the list goes on.

Taxes

The bank executive making $43,000 a month is subject to a 20% income tax. Bank profits are subject to 25% corporate income tax. Given that such income earners are subject to international standards of auditing and reporting, they are some of the few Syrians who pay their tax bills in full. The problem of not paying taxes lies outside the publicly listed companies. Not a single family owned business in Syria decided to list on the new stock exchange. This was a telling fact. Large family businesses in Syria pay an effective tax rate of something around 4% it is believed. The government keeps making noise about changing this fact and cracking down of tax cheats. They threaten hefty fines for none compliance but thus far they have done nothing. What is more disturbing is that the owners of such businesses send their children to university for free. They receive subsidized items just like those making $300 a month.

A way forward

1- The government must use tax policy to increase the opportunity cost of holding on to unused and none primary residential units. It must also use tax policy to slow land speculation. The fact that the Tanzeem moves at a snail’s pace means that new residential developments take decades to bring to the market.

2- For a country that has such expensive subsidies in place and a large unprofitable public sector that sucks up state resources, every unit of tax revenue is critical to bridge the funding gap. That the richest people in the country can get away with paying 4% in tax is shameful. But, wouldn’t you do it if you could? Is it possible for the government to enforce compliance to the above two suggestions when it pays its employees $300-400 a month? When a $400 a month employee shows up on the doorstep of a business tycoon that has a huge tax liability, what are the chances of ethics and honesty winning out over temptation and the desire to fatten one’s income? We all know the answer to this rhetorical question. This brings us to the third and most important suggestion for a way forward.

3- Syria will never put its economic house in order unless it makes a clean break from socialism. Introducing vague German economic terminology and saying that we are now a “social market economy” is not enough. For a country with such limited financial resources, our government has no business being in the business of making shoes, cloths, tires, bottled water, beer and 244 other constantly losing establishments. Every manager in charge of these inefficient businesses sees his job as a license to steal and plunder. All the money wasted in salaries and balancing the losses at year end is money that was stolen from one Syrian to pay another. In this case, the robbed Syrian is everyone who has no connections in the government or the Party. Those robbed include every hospital, university, school and road that has been starved for the lack of investment. The answer to Syria’s many problems is privatization. It is a taboo subject that the government is not educating its people about.

I am sure that my recommendation to privatize will elicit a number of passionate responses explaining how this cannot be done and accusing me of being heartless be of the many employees who will lose their jobs. Nonsense is my answer. The new buyers of these businesses will also need to employ people and will not rely on robots. They will most likely make a profit which will allow them to grow and invest further in the business. This will add to economic growth and end up employing more accountants, lawyers, advertising professionals etc. Once the government stops having to close the hole at these 250 businesses, it will have the funds to pay its tax collectors three or four times their current salaries. Once this is done, it will then be able to announce a strict and enforceable tax compliance drive. A well paid tax collector who accepts a bribe can be dealt with severely and publicly. The same goes for the business person offering the bribe.

Conclusion

Abu Fares should not attack the Syrian private sector, the senior bank executives, the ostentatious BMW drivers, or those sipping coffee at the Four-Seasons. He would do better to save his anger for the old economic habits that have squandered close to $15 billion on uneconomic irrigation projects that were carried out with no regard to return on capital criterion. He must lash out at a the corrupt and inefficient public sector that has wasted billions of scarce Dollars on uneconomic projects that has drained the state coffers of critical funding that could have gone to improve education, health care and infrastructure. That we can still stick our heads in the sand and think that these issues will somehow get solved with time is a travesty. The government must streamline and shed its vast wasteful assets. The government must address the rising cost of real estate and punish those who neglect to pay their taxes. It is high time that Syria adopted sound public policies and taxed people according to their earnings. The reform process is bound to cause much pain and offend our sense of fairness and equality, but their is no alternative. Syrians have unfairly been denied the opportunity to compete in the international marketplace and enjoy its fruits for too long.

Global Voices: Syria: Gap in Private Sector Salaries Disturbing
2010-10-15
By Yazan Badran

“Officially disclosed salaries in the Syrian private sector range from the minimum full-time wage of $125 to $42,000 a month”, Abu Fares lashes out on the Syrian private sector, and the disturbing imbalance in the wages it …

Comments (112)


Majhool said:

I am not an expert but does it have to be the wrost in both? The worst socialistic model which was based on corruption, government monopoly on everything including education and confiscation of the private sector. And the worst market economy without a safety net and without sound planning of resources?

Can’t we develop an economy that:

1) promote sectors through direct financing (and not management) that produce jobs for the mass majority of the population
2) Promote (not through monopoly) sectors of the economy that sustains a stable society. i.e. educated populous, affordable food and housing.
3) Promote competitive advantage ( regional) in a number of sectors to secure foreign currency and keep up with the world.
4) Allow economic freedom in parallel with the above to those interested given that gains are effectively taxed

I am not convinced that it has to be either or.

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October 18th, 2010, 3:11 am

 

abufares said:

Ehsani
Thank you for taking the time to lucidly criticize my decurtate article. While yours above is an elaborate economic analysis of what you consider an acceptable and unavoidable disparity in the economic reform movement mine was rather a down to earth and “a man on the inside” account.
We share “at least” one thing in common. We were both “students under supervision” in the late 70’s in the US where we pursued and obtained our post-graduate degrees.
I daresay that if you detected a sense of anger in my post it’s more because you haven’t been unfortunate to read my ramblings over the years. I’ve “lashed” out against almost everybody, including myself, at one time or another.
However, at one point you misquoted me, or shall I say you didn’t quote me fully. I did answer my own question: “These hard-to-find and honest accountants along with some private banks’ presidents are being paid up to $42,000 a month…” Just look a little further down my post and you will certainly find it.
What should be more surprising to you is the fact that I’m literally biting the hand that is paying my “salary”, my (by Syrian Standards) very high salary or contract to be more accurate. I am a part of this private sector, as an employer in my own firm (for over 2 decades) and as a consultant for “big” business over the last few years.
Among my more shameful memories is sitting on a board meeting for a new venture, a huge manufacturing plant in Syria, where the main topic of discussion was the hiring of Indian foremen and supervisors because qualified Syrians would not work for the pathetically low salaries the board members were willing to offer. The fact that this particular project went belly up after spending millions of dollars (mainly collected from investors) was as much a result of the government’s contradictory policies as it was through the self-destructiveness of the stakeholders themselves. Because they were making more profit importing the same product from China, Turkey or wherever they willingly sacrificed the investment and the few hundreds jobs.
I am a human being before and after being a professional. No one in Syria or abroad deserves a salary of $42,000 a month with the current state of the world. No one deserves $200 a month either. Too chimerical, I know! Human dignity and decency are far more important to me, and to many others I suppose, than laissez-faire, socialist or communist economic theories.
The Private Sector in Syria is CHEAP, very cheap. It is corrupt, immoral and culpable. The fact that the previous government controlled economy was bad does not give the private sector the right to be what it is today. What is so great about reform if the thieves were government employees before and are “entrepreneurs” today?
I beg you forgive my long comment. I am not arguing numbers and figures but rather a sense of right and wrong.
This is very WRONG and luckily for me (on a personal note) I’m stepping out soon. When in my neck of the wood please let me know, a glass of Arak does wonders in blurring the numbers and crystallizing the more important things in life 🙂

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October 18th, 2010, 3:49 am

 

Bassel Hamwi said:

Dear Joshua,

I am delighted that SOMEONE has taken the time to answer the articles in the press. Unfortunately, we have not yet been able to create the proper institutions, such an Association of Banks, which can frame such an important discussion and provide analytical framework.

A discussion of the haves and have nots is a key one to be had. Not only on a Syrian level, but from a global perspective. What can we all do to bridge the income gap and help alleviate poverty and the role of the State and its institutions in the process is imperative. It is not sufficient to blame those who have a conspicuous income becasue they work for transparent insititutions with functioning checks and balances. I hope that the discussion will evolve further.

Best,

Bassel S. Hamwi

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October 18th, 2010, 3:49 am

 

Alex said:

First, I want to express my admiration to both Abu Fares and Ehsani (in alphabetical order!) … “On the left”, Abu Fares perhaps the most popular Syrian blogger (anyone disagrees?) and “on the right” my good friend Ehsani, the most courageous, practical and convincing Syrian economics expert online.

Ehsani,

We discussed in the past many of the points that you raised here. By now you convinced us that some degree of privatization is necessary and that taxing real estate and removing subsidies for the rich are absolutely where we should start.

So I will focus on the spirit of Abu Fares’ post … the emotional aspects of that huge income gap that exists now and will continue to grow perhaps as the transition period towards a less socialist system progresses.

The government needs to communicate much more with its citizens. Last Ramadan I was watching Egyptian TV channel and was surprised to see a number of excellent Egyptian government ads that tried to explain to the viewers why new real estate taxes were introduced and why poor people will not really be affected much by those taxes … the ads were interesting and they were convincing.

Can the Syrian government do the same? … maybe place public service ads on TV to encourage the rich to be more considerate of the way they display their wealth in public places? and to explain why state owned businesses are being sold to private owners…

Communicating is essential. Although I can imagine how incompatible the idea of communicating (to get the prior approval?) with the people, with the old way of doing what the party’s leadership decides is right for the country.

Before we decide to move totally to the right, we need to somehow “ask the Syrian people” how far they want their country to move away from socialism. Proper opinion polls should be conducted instead of relying solely on the opinions of experts (from visiting western bankers, to Baath party representatives in government meetings) who advice decision makers on how and how far to reform.

I would only conduct opinion polls after few months of those ads that are supposed to try to explain to people why reforms are needed and what they can expect from them …

By the way, are you sure we can’t settle on being eventually “half pregnant”? .. aren’t we now (in transition) quarter pregnant?

What is socialist Sweden? fully pregnant? as pregnant as the United States?

Finally, a little personal story similar to yours: When I was planning to study architecture, my grand mother told me “no, we won’t accept that. Only a Doctor or an Engineer”

She convinced me. I studied Electrical Engineering instead.

And finally (part II) … the very impressive Ehsani and Abu Fares are both graduates of Syrian schools … those schools can’t be that bad!

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October 18th, 2010, 4:36 am

 

why-discuss said:

I am not an expert, but living in Canada, i know that the tax system is key to a healthy country. Of course it is easier to tax a flat 4% than to go in the hassle of a complex tax system and a V.A.T
In order to get that into place, IT, i.e computer expertise, is the prerequisite. The advantages of computers is that it bypasses human intervention, therefore could eliminate the corruption inherent to a manual system.
Most institutions in Canada use computers, internet is spreading as fast as mobile phones.
I think there should be massive education in the computer fields at all levels of education and encouragement to use and develop computer systems and networks as well as investments in this field by private phone company and public works.
This is a necessity in order to any sustained modern development.
With a good tax system and a targeted VAT on ‘luxurious’ items, subsidies may be eliminated and low income citizens can benefit of a 0% tax as well as returns. High income citizens, consuming luxurious items, will have to pay more and get nothing from the government.
Maybe we can start by that …

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October 18th, 2010, 9:48 am

 

5 dancing shlomos said:

one of the sinful results of low wages in ???:

Life for an $11 Robbery
By ANTHONY PAPA

http://www.counterpunch.org/papa10152010.html

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October 18th, 2010, 1:53 pm

 

Majhool said:

I think the communication aspect is crucial just like Alex pointed out.

However I think the big elephant in the room is the lack of checks and balances.

As for the wages issue, I was told by an owner of a chemical plant that he and other business owners cooperate in fixing the wages for each role in their industry making it impossible for an employee to change jobs for a better pay.

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October 18th, 2010, 2:47 pm

 

ziad said:

I sort of agree with most what has been said here by all.
Ehsani and Abu Fares,

Ehsani looks at the situation from his perspectives and prescribes the right treatment and medicines and I agree with him. Abu Fares looks at it from his perspectives and tells us what wrong with the private sector.
The only thing I strongly disagree with is when Abu Fares says no one is worth $42,000/month especially at this time. If there is ever a time when superstars are needed, it is today. Why not pay peoples their worth?

Let me tell you my own personal story. My uncle, who in 1975 was in charge of water desalination with solar energy at Berkeley, wanted to go back and serve the old country. He was offered a maintenance position in Banyas because he had a mechanical engineering (he had both BS and MS from Berkeley). He ran as fast as he can out of there. Year later, he became a frequent lecturer in the gulf and he even went to Damascus few times to lecture there. After he retired, he built a unit that gives you 99.98% pure water and contracted with NASA to install it on the space shuttle to Mars. Do you think my uncle is worth $42,000/month in this climate and drought conditions?

I can give few examples of blindness (not just short sightedness) about the system and people in charge but I think it is a waste of time. We need to move forward and as Ehsani said, you want to attract global talent, you need to pay market price. Damsacus is the eighth most expensive real estate market in the world. If I get a job there, I want to be compensated accordingly. We need to let go of the mindsets that were entrenched in people in the last 30-40 years. I think the new regime is trying to do that but change is very hard to do and achieve. I believe they need to be more aggressive.

Alex,

I disagree with you about polling the people in Syria for many reasons. One of them is people are not taught critical thinking and were not allowed to even venture there. Second, what would happen if they said no to reforms? Again change is very to achieve and to allow people who have not had a say in any thing to decide if they want to change.

WD,

Canada and the United States had their taxation systems in place many years before they had them computerized. As Alex said, we need to educate the masses on the benefits of paying taxes

All,
This is a great discussion and the more we disagree and argue in a professional manner the better it is for our beloved Syria.

We need more people like this
http://www.nytimes.com/2010/10/18/books/18adonis.html

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October 18th, 2010, 8:02 pm

 

Norman said:

It looks like taxation is the only way to correct inequality in income , I agree with Ehasani and others that people should be paid what they deserve and to keep the government out of this say , there is no employer who would pay an employee more than they can get out of that employee so apparently these people deserve it and actually people who are paid by salaries are probably , as Ehsani said , the only ones who are paying their fair share of taxes , The question is how to get the private businesses to pay their fair shares , i believe when India had the same problem collecting taxes it implemented a sale tax , other ways i see is what Ehsani said and i said many times before real estate taxes on any property after the primary resident , taxation for transfer of wealth and real estate to children and other family members to hide wealth , Estate tax after significant deduction and cooperation with other countries to honor Syrian laws and court orders , estimating taxes every 3 months certified by public accountant can help and make it easier for private businesses to pay ,

Lastly Syrians and others should be able to make as much as they can as long as they do not break the law and pay their taxes ,

Although there are many failing government owned projects , i am not ready for the government to sell these ventures , as i saw what happened in Russia , i would rather that the government allow the private sector to go into any business and even compete with the government venture so the government venture can be the safety net that provide for no profit if it has to keep the products available and affordable , with time more private venture will be there and government venture will close for lack of need ,good workers will migrate seeing the writing on the wall to the private sector for opportunity and security ,

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October 18th, 2010, 10:47 pm

 

Majhool said:

Sales Tax is a consumption tax that in the context of developing countries usually replaces customs. Its also a regressive tax, i.e. The rich and the poor are equally impacted. Only income tax addresses the income gap between rich and poor. Taxing on wealth ( as apposed to income) is another way of the confiscation mentality that got us into this mess, for most syrians owning a house or two is their way of savings, i don’t see any merits for additional burdens on them unless investment opportunities are abundant . There is no escape from taxing on income, the government have to figure out a way to tax family business and big merchants.

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October 18th, 2010, 11:22 pm

 

Alex said:

Dear Bassel,

Until the state manages to rectify the situation (somehow), … charity would do for now. Much more generosity should be expected from most of the leading Syrian Businessmen and businesswomen.

Frankly, most of what they do is about their egos … like attending glamorous galas where half their donations pay for the cost of the extravagant night’s celebration before the other half goes to charity …

Abu Fares is right in one thing … there is so much greed in the private sector. Obviously this is not limited to Syria, but we would like to hope that we in Syria can try to do something about it… Syria (the country and its people) hosted millions of Iraqi, Lebanese, Palestinian, Kurdish and Armenian refugees … Let the rich live up, everyday, to the same high standard set by their poorer countrymen.

For the sake of Syria’s stability, reforming the culture of greed and overinflated egos should go hand in hand with other economic reforms.

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October 19th, 2010, 1:30 am

 

Alex said:

Ziad said:

Alex,

I disagree with you about polling the people in Syria for many reasons. One of them is people are not taught critical thinking and were not allowed to even venture there. Second, what would happen if they said no to reforms? Again change is very to achieve and to allow people who have not had a say in any thing to decide if they want to change.

Dear Ziad,

The results of those polls do not have to be public or binding. But if you find out that 90% of your people “strongly” disagree with removing subsidies for now … you know that you need to spend some public awareness time or money to educate the public before you announce the end of those subsidies.

It is a way to find out what is too risky and what is not as risky as expected.

There is a lot more that can be learned through scientific research of perceptions and attitudes.

Norman, Majhool

Sales in Syria are mostly cash … I wonder how seriously they can enforce a VAT

Taxing real estate (while exempting smaller dwellings) is good in many ways … you also want to move the money parked in real estate elsewhere .. hopefully to more constructive investments in Syria … not outside the country!

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October 19th, 2010, 2:39 am

 

Alex said:

Off topic, but have to share with you

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October 19th, 2010, 3:34 am

 

Jillian C. York said:

Abu Fares, I apologize for not commenting on your original piece at its place, and instead bringing my comment here –

I have to specifically call out the above commenter, Ziad, who said “The only thing I strongly disagree with is when Abu Fares says no one is worth $42,000/month especially at this time. If there is ever a time when superstars are needed, it is today. Why not pay peoples their worth?”

I’m an American who is paid within the bracket of that amount per year. In academia. And I get by just fine. The average in my city, one of the highest in the U.S., is $65,000/year. In fact, the President of the United States makes less than $42,000 a month (but not by much). And the cost of living in the U.S., with the exception of housing costs (which I realize are a big deal), is generally lower than in Syria.

Oh, and senior bankers in the U.S., which Ehsani mentioned? $540,000/year is indeed possible, but look at how all of our banks have gone belly up. Look at how many jobs have been lost. Is that really something to strive for?

Who on earth deserves $42,000 a month, an amount which could feed a small family in one of the wealthiest, most expensive countries on earth, nevermind a far less wealthy country somewhere else in the world? Who is possibly deserving of such a ludicrous salary? Whose work is possibly so taxing, so difficult, that he should be paid exponentially higher than every other human being on the planet?

My answer, like Abu Fares’s answer, is “no one.” Not in this world, not in this economy.

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October 19th, 2010, 8:07 am

 

norman said:

To all of you ,
Communism failed and class warfare is not helpful , as long as people play by the rule , they should be able to make as much as they can , what i would say is ,
Please tell me where they went to school so i can send my kids there ,

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October 19th, 2010, 8:36 am

 

EHSANI2 said:

Dear Jillian,

What makes you think that an employer would pay someone $42,000 a month when they can pay less?

The fact that your employer is able to hire you for that amount for a year is precisely what free markets are all about – let price match buyers and sellers of a product/service.

Let us assume that you are in charge of making Syrian public policy. How would you make it a legislation that stipulates that $42,000 a month is too high? Would you place a salary cap at Syrian banks? Would you issue a directive to their Boards that they cannot pay more than $5,000 a month? Let us assume you did that. What kind of quality would you get you think? Surely, the more experienced and able bankers will balk at such salaries. Instead, you will end up with third tier bankers who are now in charge of running a financial institution.

Let us now assume that you are a shareholder of one of these institutions. Would you agree to have the Board of this company pay $100,000 a month to a banking superstar that is likely to add significant amount to shareholder value? Banque Audi-Syria has a market capitalization (worth) of close to $350 million now. I now present you with two choices:

Hire a superstar for $100,000 a month that can double the bank’s worth over 5 years to $700 million or hire an inexperienced banker for $4,200 a month who would end up adding little to shareholder value or even make the bank lose its present $350 million market cap?

Take professional sport. Do you think that the Yankees, Lakers or Real Madrid are insane to pay what you consider ludicrous amounts to athletes? Just like Syrian banks, the executives in charge of making such decision are no fools. They make rationale business decisions. They would love to pay as little as possible to help their bottom line but when they do pay up, it’s because they know that the extra compensation they pay will help them add multiples more to their bottom line.

Dear Abu Fares,

I will be in Syria soon. Having a glass of Arak with you would be the highlight of that trip.

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October 19th, 2010, 10:39 am

 

abufares said:

@Jilian
The fact that one organization, pays 2 of its current employees at a ratio of 336/1 only proves the extent of the prevailing “moral” corruption not only in that organization, in the country, in the world at large but with the concept of the Free Market Economy itself. Screw Communism and whatever failed historical experiments we had and still have to go through before we learn. How about simple Humanism???

A friend of mine earlier sent me this link:

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/10/17/business/17view.html?_r=3&partner=rss&emc=rss

as a token of support and I have to thank him 🙂

@Ehsani
I’m going to take you up on that. I really look forward to it.

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October 19th, 2010, 11:10 am

 

EHSANI2 said:

Abu Fares,

One can argue that capitalism and free market economics is not “humane”. Let us stick to Syria for a moment. Was it not the case that the socialist experiment in Syria was predicated on the grounds that it was going to be more humane, closing the income inequalities of the past? Was it not supposed to be the solution to the evil landlords (iktaeiyeen) and capitalists (raasmaliyeen)? Forty years later, what were the results?

Yes, you got rid of those landlords and capitalists of that era. But, all you ended up with is that the people revolting against the old system being in a position to be the new landlord and capitalist of the new system.

http://www.aksalser.com/?page=view_news&id=84c941f43f58788fef2fb64ccadc26c2&ar=26686343

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October 19th, 2010, 11:26 am

 

KA1 said:

We have this argument regularly around the kitchen table…How do you incentivize the Syrian workforce? If you paid them a fair wage (in comparison to Europe or the gulf), offered good work conditions, and provided leadership and career advancement training then they would be more likely to work. However, the culture does not promote working hard, it promotes making money. The two, working hard and making money, are not necessarily related and that is a cultural shift that must take place for the Syrian Economy to become viable.

Trickle down economics, as we have so clearly seen based on the Bush years, does not work. The economic impact of Syrian Entrepreneurs making 1000x more than their employees isn’t going to help drive the Syrian economy…instead we must work to create a highly skilled and educated middle class workforce. This is the key to a better future.

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October 19th, 2010, 11:36 am

 

5 dancing shlomos said:

#13

not enough time to watch (and no sound). looks to be lesley stahl, jewess and zioness, wandering through a part of palestine accompanied by brown shirted skin heads.

dont know what capitalism and free mkts mean in syria.

in america free mkt is a manipulated word like democracy. means nothing. free market is a rigged market for those in on the game. capitalism is not the same as business which has been a human activity for millenia.

capitalism has come to mean what is mine is mine what is yours is mine what i can steal is also mine,legally. what i lose is paid for by you via govts not me. note recent bailouts of swindlers, thieves, losers.

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October 19th, 2010, 11:49 am

 

Alex said:

Dear Ehsani,

First, I am not for a salary cap. You are right, if you need to get the same quality executives that Dubai is attracting, you will need to pay what needs to be paid.

But I have a question. If “prices” (or salaries in this case) are purely determined by supply and demand … if the person who heads a bank in Damascus needs to be paid $42,000 per month because it is such a critical position and being compensated so generously is worth it in order to attract the smartest and most capable person out there, then … why is the job of President of the United States not priced accordingly? … is the head of a Bank’s branch in Syria handling a more sensitive job than the President of the Unites States?

Or take Mr. Dardari … why is he making much less than $42,000 a month? … he is in charge of Syria’s economic reforms, yet only paid a fraction of that Banker’s salary.

How can Syria and the United States attract capable candidates for highly critical jobs without having to pay $42,000 per month?

What I am trying to say is that it is perhaps fair to direct “anger” at bankers in general, and not only well paid Syrian private banking executives. The same way “the market” priced senior positions in politics in a reasonable way should potentially be doing the same in determining the compensation of star bankers… their jobs are surely not as critical as the job of Mr. Obama

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October 19th, 2010, 11:56 am

 

norman said:

Alex,
There are jobs you take for money and jobs you take for power and prestige , Obama, Assad Dardary are jobs that get you power and prestige , for GOD sake i take these jobs for free , i would even pay to get one of them , second these are jobs paid by the tax payers so they have the right to set them while bankers jobs and other private jobs are no body’s business except the parties involved , The less the government interfere the less corruption there is ,

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October 19th, 2010, 12:15 pm

 

EHSANI2 said:

Alex,

Those seeking the office of the President of the U.S. do not do it for the money. Mr. Bernanke is the current Fed Chairman. He can quit his job at the Fed and be paid millions. He does not do it because he has enjoyed being an academic at Princeton for all his life and now a public policy servant as Fed chair.

If you were a shareholder of JP Morgan, would you like to have Mr. Obama as your CEO or would you prefer to stick with Mr. Jamie Dimon? I think that I know the answer. Do you think Mr. Obama would be a better web designer than you? I know that if I were starting a company, I would hire you before I call him.

If the job of the U.S. President cannot attract the best candidates because of its low pay, I am sure that it would have been set higher. I would love to do Mr. Bernanke’s job by the way. Indeed, I would do it for free or as Norman just said I would pay $42,000 a month to do it. You can make this offer to the Federal Reserve Board on my behalf.

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October 19th, 2010, 12:25 pm

 

5 dancing shlomos said:

stick to syria.

in america politicians serve and will be rewarded.

clintons, grifters from arkansas, are now worth hundreds of millions. feinstein through her position has enriched herself and her crooked husband by hundreds of millions. just 2.

bernanke like greenspan, rubin before serve in govt to serve the elites and will be rewarded beyond their value to america. they have zero value to the bottom 99%.

shareholders at jp morgan, goldman sachs, citigroup are holding nothing without the manipulation of 2 administrations and well placed individuals.

the system is all crooked.

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October 19th, 2010, 12:36 pm

 

EHSANI2 said:

5 dancing shlomos,

Every economic system in the world is tilted to the advantage of the powerful. Who do you think has been the biggest benefitiary from the economic boom in China? You guessed it – it is the higher echelons of the Communist party.

I doubt that Your sentiment about America are shared by Mr. Hamoui
http://investing.businessweek.com/research/stocks/private/person.asp?personId=30053254&privcapId=28973677&previousCapId=28973677&previousTitle=AdMob,%20Inc.

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October 19th, 2010, 12:44 pm

 

5 dancing shlomos said:

most would say salaries paid to athletes are insane and cannot be justified except by stupid owners most of whom make no money from their teams. they get hugh tax benefits/support.

european (maybe till recently) and asian ceos were paid far less than their american counterparts but were actually competent. many high paid american execs are /were incompetent. they simply took the money and bailed out with golden parachutes that they manipulated with an appointed board. nardelli, fiorina, worldcom, enron, etc, into the hundreds or thousands.

it is about fraud, deceit, lies, connections.

in america, a rigged and very dishonest system. very little on merit.

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October 19th, 2010, 12:49 pm

 

5 dancing shlomos said:

came across this. would not have paid much attention except for alex post at #13:

Lesley Stahl and the 7 pillars of conventional wisdom
By Joseph Glatzer | Mondoweiss | October 19, 2010

Lesley Stahl’s report from Sunday’s “60 Minutes” about the illegal Israeli colony “the City of David” is an unadulterated, albeit very sophisticated, piece of Peace Industry propaganda. It is a case study for how the media sets the “appropriate” parameters of debate according to “conventional wisdom” of “serious people”.

She starts off the show with a cute intro about the holiness of Jerusalem:

Jerusalem is one of the holiest cities on Earth, for Jews, for Muslims and for Christians. It is also one of the most difficult issues at the negotiating table as Palestinians and Israelis struggle to continue the peace talks.

Conventional Wisdom #1: the current discussions between various members of the Peace Industry are a sincere/heart warming/Hallmark channel effort for peace.

What’s the challenge Lesley?

“The challenge is how to divide the city between the two sides. Back in 2000, then-President Clinton came up with some parameters for how to do it: areas populated mostly by Jews would remain Israeli; those populated mostly by Arabs would become the new Palestinian capital. That meant that for the most part East Jerusalem would go to the Arabs.”

Convention Wisdom #2: The challenge to peace is dividing Jerusalem between Palestinians and Israelis, and Clinton’s 2000 plan was the reasonable way to solve this challenge.

Conventional Wisdom #3: Acquisition of territory by aggressive force and settling a civilian population in occupied territory are OK if the US backs you. Only those who are un-serious outsiders could possibly expect the Geneva Conventions to be enforced.

Throughout the segment, Palestinians of Jerusalem are referred to as “Arabs” except when it is in reference to the Palestinian state. What’s insidious about the report is that even when seemingly criticizing Israel, the criticisms are only around the edges and they only serve to reinforce Peace Industry propaganda.

This brings in Conventional Wisdom #4: Palestinians are “Arabs” until they are lifted up as Proud Palestinians upon peacefully negotiating their way to their glorious state of Palestine.

Another problem is an inconvenient truth: that biblical Jerusalem is not located in the western half of the city. It’s right under the densely populated Arab neighborhood of Silwan.

Silwan isn’t a Palestinian neighborhood, it’s an “Arab neighborhood”. Just like Baghdad, Beirut, and Amman are Arab neighborhoods. Who can tell the difference these days?

But, when referencing a future Palestinian state, Palestinians get to be called Palestinians:

Palestinian Jawad Siyam was born in this “very, very special place” and says he can trace his roots there back 930 years. He’s pessimistic about the Palestinians ever having their own state. “What will happen to this village if there’s a two-state solution?” Stahl asked

Conventional Wisdom #5: Palestinians have an ancient heritage in East Jerusalem. As far as West Jerusalem goes, that’s the Israeli side, and Palestinians have absolutely no claims or rights on that land.

Here’s another passage loaded with conventional wisdom and brainwashing:

The Arabs say it’s a provocative thing to do. Devout Jews Yonatan and Devorah Adler live in one of the houses El’Ad bought. El’Ad has raised tens of millions of dollars, half from the United States, and buys the homes on land the Palestinians claim for a future state.

Conventional Wisdom #6: Palestinian land isn’t really Palestinian land. It’s only a “claim” among many competing claims. To assert that one claim has more validity than another is “biased” and must never be spoken of.

Here’s Lesley Stahl talking to religious settlers living in the City of David colony:

“And yet, when you see those maps, it’s over in the Palestinian side,” Stahl pointed out.

“Yeah, well, maps are written on paper. This is written on our hearts,” he replied.

To the untrained eye, Stahl seems to be doing a good job of reflecting the insanity of the Zionist project. But take a second look. Criticism of Israel is allowed only if the underlying premise reinforces Peace Industry conventional wisdom. In this case it’s that East Jerusalem is the “Palestinian side” (the as yet uncolonized parts) and West Jerusalem is the Israeli side.

“The government pays for the gun guards?” Stahl asked.

“It’s tax money. It’s, I pay it. Everyone who is paying taxes is paying it,” Jawad Siyam replied.

“You pay taxes and that money goes to pay for the guards to guard the settlers,” she remarked.

“Yes, of course,” Jawad said.

“So you’re helping guard the settlers,” Stahl remarked.

“Yeah, I’m a fan of the settlers and the gun guards,” he replied sarcastically.

Another seemingly positive exchange which shows that Palestinians of Jerusalem pay for their own oppression through their taxes. But, look closer. Are the Palestinians Israeli citizens? Then why do they pay taxes to the Israeli government? Was there some sort of illegal unrecognized annexation of East Jerusalem? Not for “60 Minutes” to say.

The implication given is that Palestinians living under the Israeli government is the natural state of affairs. It’s timeless and just is. It would of course be biased to point out that East Jerusalem Palestinians have no political rights to vote in the governmen that they pay taxes to.

More he said/she said “journalism” comin atcha!

That feeling of Jewish encroachment has been heightened by the mayor of Jerusalem, Nir Barkat, who is doing all he can to make sure East Jerusalem remains under Israeli sovereignty. He wants to create a Bible-themed garden and turn it into a tourist park adjacent to the City of David. But as with the dig, the local Arabs see this as another attempt to gobble up their side of Jerusalem.

Remember, it’s “Jewish encroachment” not land theft by a government which happens to call itself the “Jewish State”. The legitimate “Jewish-ness” of that State behind the green line is thus reinforced, yet again.

“Local Arabs” “see” a plan to build a tourist park right on top of their heads as an attempt to “encroach” upon their rightful and legitimate part of Jerusalem (and only that part, shut up about the parts your grandparents were kicked out of). Who are these “local Arabs”? Are there also “local Jews”? Who knows if this is really a land grab.

“Building the mayor’s park requires demolishing 22 Arab homes in Silwan.”

Presumably “local” Arabs. Is there any context to the situation? Has the Israeli government demolished any Palestinian homes in the past? Not sure. Although it would be helpful in evaluating the validity of Israeli claims, context is biased so it mustn’t be spoken of. That would be taking a “side”.

“The mayor says that area is a slum in which the houses were built illegally and his plan will fix that. But the locals want to stay in their homes.” (pictures flash on the screen of Palestinian slums).

How did these areas get to be slums? Was it the result of extreme racism in allocating development funds for everything from trash collection to school buses? That’s a secret. Again with the “locals”. How local are they? Where are they locally from? Is this the locals’ indigenous “locale”? I told you I don’t know, stop asking me silly questions.

Here comes my favorite part:

“The European Union, the United Nations has criticized this plan to get rid of these 22 homes. Public opinion, especially while the peace talks are underway, is looking at this and saying you’re trying to get rid, move Arabs out of Jerusalem,” Stahl said.

Is this plan illegal? Is it a war crime? Has it been Israeli policy for decades? What does the law say? I don’t know about that, but all I know is the EU and the UN “criticized” the plan during “peace talks”.

“But that’s the way it looks. And my question is, why not wait until the peace talks are settled?” Stahl asked.

Is this really a plan to “move out the locals”, or is it just the way “it looks” to Lesley Stahl? This is clearly not a relevant question. The only relevant question here is: WHY CAN’T HE JUST WAIT!?

Asked what she meant by “why now,” Stahl said, “Because it’s on the table at the peace talks. That’s why now.”

Does this mean Lesley Stahl believes it’s best to wait to wait and steal more Palestinian land til Abu Mazen formally surrenders Silwan to Israel in the fake state solution? And here comes the money shot:

“Settlements have been a stumbling block in peace negotiations of the past. And what your organization is dedicated to doing could become the stumbling block again,” Stahl told Doron Spielman.

Conventional Wisdom #7: Settlements are the obstacle to peace. It’s nothing else. Not refugees’ unrealistic expectation to return, not discrimination against Palestinians inside Israel, and not babies born stillborn at checkpoints. The only obstacle to peace is a few religious crazies in Jerusalem screwing it up for everyone.

“We are looking, Lesley, to go down and uncover history,” he replied. “If coming back to my home after 3,000 years is a stumbling block to peace then I think that that is not a very good peace.”

If given the chance, a Palestinian would say, “If coming back to my home after 60 years is a stumbling block to peace then I think that that is not a very good peace.”

Why weren’t these dueling “rights of return” contrasted against each other? More importantly, why don’t I see the segment as a step forward for explaining the Palestinian plight, and why do I have to keep ruining the fun? I guess I’m just a hopeless cynic.

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October 19th, 2010, 1:22 pm

 

Akbar Palace said:

5 Dancing Ahmads is upset at all the corruption

stick to syria.

in america politicians serve and will be rewarded.

clintons, grifters from arkansas, are now worth hundreds of millions. feinstein through her position has enriched herself and her crooked husband by hundreds of millions. just 2.

bernanke like greenspan, rubin before serve in govt to serve the elites and will be rewarded beyond their value to america. they have zero value to the bottom 99%.

shareholders at jp morgan, goldman sachs, citigroup are holding nothing without the manipulation of 2 administrations and well placed individuals.

the system is all crooked.

Dear 5 Dancing Ahmads,

What about President-for-Life Dr. Bashar? Is he “crooked”?

Syrian President Bashar Assad, 35, has married a Syrian woman who grew up in England, according to state-run news agencies yesterday. Asma Akhras, reportedly in her 20s, is the daughter of a Syrian doctor who practices in London. Assad’s father, Hafez, who died in June, had an estimated net worth of $2.3 billion.

http://www.forbes.com/2001/01/03/0103nsam.html

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October 19th, 2010, 11:07 pm

 

Majhool said:

Speaking of education reform. Check out this video. It shows the beating of a private university president in Syria.

http://all4syria.info/content/view/33684/122/

Josh, isn’t this story worth a separate post on your blog, you know with Q & A and all?

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October 20th, 2010, 12:15 am

 

Averroes said:

Alex,

Thanks for the post in #13. It is sad to watch fanatics that are so totally obsessed with their self-serving version of history, and their self-centered world view. It is sad to see a people reduced to utterly narcissistic worship of the tribe, because that’s ALL it is: worship of the people and worship of the history and wprship of the heritage, not of God anymore … not by a far cry.

On the other hand, and knowing that more and more Israelis are moving in that direction, and that it is more and more a direction that is sanctioned and promoted by the state, we (on the other side) are becoming more and more convinced of the justice of our cause, and that there will probably be no rational solution to this conflict. How can there be, when the other side has this extreme narcissism to feed?

I can see a future historian reading about the hastened “excavations” of those foolish settlers, smiling in sadness, and shaking his head in sorrow.

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October 20th, 2010, 12:26 am

 

Averroes said:

Ehsani,

Thank you for the great effort. Here are a few ideas:

1. The government should put very strong constraints on cash handling. People still withdraw cash in sacks in Syrian banks every day. The use of cheques and other traceable means of payment should be enforced. A good level of automation is also needed with the banking system. This will enable the government to expose the state of all businesses, and thus receive much better tax revenue.

2. Privatization of the losing government businesses is a great idea, but it could have a backlash if people find themselves on the street suddenly. I think that an accelerated system of education can be put in place that would bring much of the existing manpower up to speed with new technologies. Say, one-week courses in two or three areas. This way the working people have a chance to shape up. This type of education can be made to be very efficient and very effective.

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October 20th, 2010, 12:37 am

 

Global Voices in English » Syria: Who Gets Paid $42,000 a Month? said:

[…] of Abu Fares‘ post on Prof. Joshua Landis‘ Syria Comment. In a post titled, “The Sin in Syria is Low Wages“, Ehsani argues that while economic reforms will inevitably leave some people worse off, they […]

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October 20th, 2010, 1:11 am

 

Alex said:

Ehsani and Norman

As I said … I am not against a market driven salary scale for senior bankers and accountants, but I was trying to explain why high priced Bankers and accountants are not usually liked in most cultures.

If I was offered that salary I would take it too … but I would give most of it to charity.

Averroes, 5 Dancing Shlomos

The clip I posted shows

1) Those Israeli settlers are lunatics who would drive the region to war one day, and no one is stopping them .. they are being spoiled more and more each day.

2) Israel does not “control” the US media … it has excessive degree of influence, but it does not “control” it

This clip on 60 minutes was quite balanced and quite reasonable … Did not go far enough, maybe, but it was not bad at all.

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October 20th, 2010, 1:46 am

 

EHSANI2 said:

ALEX,

High Compensation is never looked at favorably by society. Companies do not pay employees based on a likeability criterion. Again, employers would love to pay as little as possible if they can get the talent they need. Banker and accountant pay is linked to performance. Not every banker is paid well. Senior and able ones are because they are worth it. If a less than able banker signs off on a credit application that goes sour, it will cost the institution a fortune. I would argue that no amount of money in compensation is enough if you go through the downside risks of making wrong decisions at the job. The same goes for the other parts of banking. A good trader at a bank is worth all the money that he makes. The same goes for an investment banker who brings in huge fee incomes. In 2007, a hedge fund manager got paid $3.5 BILLION a year. Is this too much? His investors were more than happy to pay him as he made as much as 590% for them. Were there a number of banker/traders who were overpaid and got away with murder during the past few years? Sure. The global system was at the risk of disintegration. The policymakers had to arrest the decline and do what it takes and in the process made mistakes and overlooked a number of critical issues when it came to punishing the industry. But, that was not the time. Had the global financial system been allowed to disintegrate, unemployment today would have been at 20% and not 9.6%. The same angry people who blame the policy makers for bailing out the bankers would have been asking why and how the government did nothing to stop the collapse that has caused many more to be unemployed. The 1930’s is a template that no sane policy maker ought to copy. Thankfully, the US Fed chair has written his PhD on the subject and with Rooseveltnian determination was able to save the global financial and economic system. Without him, the world economy and incomes would have perhaps collapsed.

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October 20th, 2010, 9:32 am

 

DIBOS said:

Hell everyone,

I’ve been reading SC for some time now, and I found that the current discussion is rather intriguing, so I would like to submit my first contribution here. I would like you to look at the matter from another perspective, which you may find that it goes side by side with Ehsani’s perspective. To make myself clear, let me take Beyoncé as an example of a superstar. I think a star like Beyoncé earns millions in a world tour, and all that she has to do is singing, which most of us would do just for the fun of it. I say that three factors are at work here:
1. Qualifications: which hardly need any explaining! Qualifications for a banker are what you find in his resumé, in addition to his character, his ability of persuasion, his charisma… etc. And for Beyoncé, her talent, her voice, her physical appearance…etc. These qualifications are what draws the lines between what is acceptable for a certain job and what is not acceptable. So having these qualifications is a necessary condition to get a generously paid job, but it is not sufficient.
2. Risk taking: not all those who get the right qualifications get a job with a high salary, in the matter of fact only a small percentage of those get such a job. Let us notice for example that there are millions of wants-to-be artists who are inspired by Beyoncé or others and try to pursue a singing career and end-up broke, or even worth. So in other words, the more the gain is big, the more it is hard to get, which is hardly surprising.
3. Coincidence or luck: Which I don’t want to give much importance, and its effect is varied from one field to another. I don’t know for sure, but at some point Beyoncé got lucky to meet the right people who gave her the opportunity to show her talent.
Let me summarize: We live in world where competitiveness rules. Highly paid jobs are limited resources and lots of individuals are competing for these recourses. So you should be really good or really lucky to be at the top (good doesn’t mean necessarily good at what you are going to do, you could be good at convincing decision-making people of your qualities rather than having them). This is not a fair system, it is a system that works. In nature the same system led to the evolution of humans (No offense for those of you who still believe in the myth of creation).

PS: I have graduated from France, so pardon my French 🙂

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October 20th, 2010, 11:44 am

 

EHSANI2 said:

Dear Abu Fares,

You wrote:

“The fact that one organization, pays 2 of its current employees at a ratio of 336/1 only proves the extent of the prevailing “moral” corruption not only in that organization, in the country, in the world at large but with the concept of the Free Market Economy itself”

Per my comment above, the Hedge Fund Manager who got paid $3.5 Billion a year ($292 million a month) ended up making a ratio of 6944/1 of the $42,000 a month that our poor Syrian bankers get paid.

Now, I am sure that I am going to send you to have a nice big glass of Arak:

The Hedge Fund Manger ended up making a ratio of 2333333/1 of that $125 a month that our poor Syrian laborer makes.

The title of my post becomes easier to understand.

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October 20th, 2010, 12:02 pm

 

EHSANI2 said:

DIBOS

Contrary to common perception, it seems that France is capable of producing really good free-marketers. From my perspective at least, yours was a fine first contribution to SC. Please be back. I need all the support I can get.

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October 20th, 2010, 12:32 pm

 

Why said:

Is it a coincidence that socialism and massive state control over the economy are correlated with tyranny and dictatorship while free markets are correlated with liberal democracies and individual freedoms?

I don’t think so.

It doesn’t take a political scientist or a historian to see the causation clearly.

Ehsani, your article, although a bit long and could have been a bit shorter, is a masterpiece. Thank you and please contribute more often!

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October 20th, 2010, 12:36 pm

 

Alex said:

Dibos, welcome to SC! your French is much better than mine (and I’m a moderator), so please write whenever you feel like it. We are not picky here**

I agree with what you said, but add to it … perceptions and context (see below).

My friend Ehsani,

Those ratios reminded me of this wonderful experiment from 2007. It says a lot about compensation of super stars and how it can vary dramatically depending on the way you want to (or can) appreciate or not that super star’s talent.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/04/04/AR2007040401721.html

In Syria (the metro station), people do not understand or appreciate the value of that uniquely qualified character like the other people at the concert hall do… he made $32 at the station … he makes $100,000 in a concert hall… that gives you another crazy ratio … but for the same person’s income at two different settings.

_________________________________________________
** although you wrote: “… and end-up broke, or even worth”
It should be “worse” not “worth” … Tsk tsk tsk.

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October 20th, 2010, 12:40 pm

 

jad said:

Here are my two cents about the subject, I’ll be rumbling a lot in this comment but I think that I have some good points somewhere in it 🙂

Ehsani,
Thank you for the interesting dialogue you are promoting through your disagreement with Abu Fares, who as he already state, was looking at the issue from a ‘humane’ point of view and not through your numbers, equations and financial theories.

-You did mention the real estate sector many times in your article and you are right to repeat it for its enormous importance in the future economy of Syria when you think of the percentage of Syrians working in the construction sector, the materials produced in supporting of this sector and the maintenance this sector needs in a country where agriculture is loosing it’s prominent place and slowly fading out because of environmental pollution, climate changes and managerial disasters, and where industry is still didn’t go beyond making house appliances and some expired traditional industry that already been stolen by the Chinese and Indians, and where ‘Ideas’ and ‘Creativity’ is somehow not encouraged and not supported on a national scale.

You pointed out your disagreement with the high price of the market; however, you supported the high salaries, which I find a bit strange since those two are connected together, if you are looking to raise the salaries, naturally, the real estate market will fly even more especially when you don’t have enough buildings and healthy urban layout to balance the market.

I support implementing a tax system on housing, which might work but only over less than 50% of Syria’s real estate market since as you know we have two markets for that sector, the open market and the hidden one meaning (the illegal growing settlements) which is growing everyday without any solutions on any level.
In Damascus the percentage of registered building are only 40% of the mass urbanized area and in Aleppo the same issue and if we go with proposing the Tax system I assure you that we will have a booming in those illegal settlements, so from my humble point of view I think the process of legalizing and adding the shadow market to the open one should go hand in hand with the proposed tax system, we can’t move anywhere ahead if we don’t at least start this process and add the massive billions of dollars worth of dead capitals to the existing one.
This important piece is the missing link in a country like Syria today; the importance of ‘Property law’ by legalizing and developing settlements is the key to accelerate the real estate market and nothing less than fixing this major problem will help.

You did touch on this point but from a different point of view than mine, you wrote:
“As for the high price of real estate, reforms must address the speed of the “tanzeem” otherwise known as the process by which more land becomes zoned and prepared for residential use.”
As far as I know, there supposed to be a Regional Growth Plan ready by now, I didn’t see it yet, so I can’t tell if it’s good or fast enough for the urban development of our cities, nevertheless, I support this step and I think that they are doing the right thing if they are doing it ‘RIGHT’ and working with the ‘RIGHT’ people/companies.

-As for the salaries of $43,000 a month, my question is what did they do to Syria not to their companies to deserve this salaries, where is their achievement on ground? Can I as Syrian citizen see that? Besides, do you think that the 20% income tax they are paying is fair? For me I don’t mind them getting even $100,000 if they are making something important to Syria and changing the lives of Syrians for better but at the same time I want them to be taxed at least 60% on their salaries.
I agree with you that the salary wage in Syria is a sin.

-You wrote:
“The best and brightest of the country ought to start to entertain thinking about careers in advertising, banking, leasing, commercial law and private equity and not just medicine.”
I think we both know by now that I disagree with you on concentrating your support to the ‘service sector’ in a country like Syria, I’m a big supporter of the real productive ones, the Industrial and the agricultural ones (in all and every application related to them) because those two I believe are the main sectors which build the nation wealth and not the service industry, so the disagreement continue 😉

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October 20th, 2010, 12:49 pm

 

WHY said:

JAD

You said:
“As for the salaries of $43,000 a month, my question is what did they do to Syria not to their companies to deserve this salaries, where is their achievement on ground?”

Is Syria or you paying their salaries in order for you to expect an employee so much? What did you do to Syria that this person earning 42k a month didn’t do? You are using double standards here.

The same thing about wanting to tax 60%. What is the Syrian citizen getting in return for their tax that they are paying? Corruption and state tyranny? Majority of the budget goes to the military and security apparatus and not even a member of parliament has the right to ask where the money is going.

Last, the agricultural sector in all developed countries does not exceed 7-8% of GDP. In the most developed countries it doesn’t exceed 5% of GDP. The more the country develops, the less need for people in that country to work in agriculture. We have the technology to make land produce more while costing less for the supplier, which in the end benefits the consumer. We don’t need half of our population to be farmers or laborers. (The law that says half of members of parliament have to be farmers or laborers reinforces this).

Anyone attacking the private sector while justifying Statism is indirectly feeding tyranny and corruption. It took the the Soviet Union 70 years to realize. I hope it doesn’t take us that long, but we are almost there.

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October 20th, 2010, 1:05 pm

 

EHSANI2 said:

WHY

First, you are correct. The post is too long, and I apologize.

You make really excellent points in all three of your comments, thank you.

Jad,

As WHY implied, as countries develop they move from dependency on agriculture to manufacturing and finally to services.

The median price of real estate does not reflect median incomes. In most countries, the ratio is around 3/1. Given the low median income in Syria, median home prices are too high as a result of the issues that I addressed and more (tanzeem, taxation, lack of alternative investments, hedge against inflation and possible future loss in currency value). Note my title. I believe that lower income salaries are too low. No argument on the illegal housing issue.

You seem to advocate a tax of 60% rather than 20%. I totally disagree. Once you ask someone to pay 60% taxes, they will find a way to shield their income. I can assure you that every bank manager will ask his employer (with head offices in Lebanon and Jordan for example) to agree to pay his salary in Beirut and Amman. The current 20% is the only tax that the government is actually collecting in full because it is transparent (thanks to international auditing standards of these banks). Indeed, my suggestion would be to go a step further:

All income in Syria should be taxed at 10%-15% given the low level of tax compliance. The only way the government can expect people to pay is if they lower the tax rate as close as possible to the 4% effective that they are paying today. I would bet you that the government will collect much more than it is doing currently. When you tax someone at 60%, you are asking him/her to work 7.2 months out of 12 for free. What you are advocating is that home-pay ought to be only 4.8 months of salary a year. The rest goes to a government that squanders your hard earned dollars on irrigation projects (please refer to Elie here) and other wasteful projects. No thanks.

As for my support of services versus manufacturing and agriculture:

First, where are Syria’s water resources to promote agriculture? Again, I will let Elie comment on this as he has done wonderful research on this subject. As for promoting manufacturing, where is the electricity capacity going to come from? How will you compete with Saudi (free interest loans and cheap electricity) or Turkey with advanced machinery investment, while both enjoy zero tariffs with Syria? Again, Damascus only has ONE real 5-Star hotel. Syria must promote tourism. This is where she enjoys differential advantage. The country is still severely lacking in the list of services that I mentioned. As economies develop and mature, it is natural that they develop their service industries along the way. This is not exclusive to Syria.

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October 20th, 2010, 1:45 pm

 

jad said:

Why,
Your argument is interesting because you are looking at Syria as if it’s a private company with no right for anybody to question the salary of their colleague forgetting that Syria is a country with needs and obligations to its citizens. It’s also interesting how you are attacking tyrants and acting like one.

What double standards are you referring to?
I, like anybody else, have the right to ask what is the $43,000 is making for the whole, I’m not questioning that individual in his salary, I have no right, I’m asking him/her to think of its society and to pay back his duties to the whole through the appropriate tax that he, his poor relatives, his distant cousin’s daughter might need/use one day when he/she goes to the hospital and get treated for FREE or go to school and university also for FREE, that’s why I’m asking for 60% of that salary to be used for. If we want to build a country every pound the government can get is necessary,

“Majority of the budget goes to the military and security apparatus”
What are you arguing about here? Do you prefer Syria to be another Lebanon or Iraq? I totally support paying part of the budget for military and security reasons, as long as I walk in the street with my family in any Syrian city feeling safe and protected from the many internal or external threats we are surrounded with. This feeling of security is PRICELESS, that you are obviously not putting in your equation of money.

“The more the country develops, the less need for people in that country to work in agriculture.”
Apparently you dismissed ‘(in all and every application related to them)’ in my sentence and you looked at the term ‘agriculture’ as one meaning, forgetting that everything is related in a chain of industries and actions.

Lastly, you need to understand and respect that people have their own views and if some people don’t agree with capitalism and privatizing everything as you want that doesn’t make them communists and they have all the right to refuse your idea, so your job is to convince them.

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October 20th, 2010, 2:14 pm

 

Nour said:

Ehsani2,

I think your argument is quite interesting, and not one I totally disagree with. What I do disagree with, however, is your insistence that Syria should focus only on services in developing its economy. I don’t see how you can possibly build a strong economy relying solely on the services sector, as the nation would not really be producing anything. Services in themselves do not create high-level, high-paying jobs. Moreover, services go hand-in-hand with increased production. That is, the more industry and agriculture you have, the more need you develop for services. While in every nation the majority of jobs are in the service sector, the backbone of every economy is actually production. All the advanced economies of the world rely heavily on their industrial and agricultural capacities, with services directly benefiting from the development of those sectors.

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October 20th, 2010, 2:20 pm

 

Nour said:

Why,

I don’t know where you got that Syria spends the “majority of the budget” on military and security. Syria’s military spending is 5.9% of GDP, which is lower than many other countries, including “Israel” who spends 7.3% of GDP on military expenditures.

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October 20th, 2010, 2:35 pm

 

EHSANI2 said:

Dear Nour,

Perhaps I did not make myself clear. I totally agree that building a manufacturing base which can earn hard currency through exports is critical. Indeed, I think that I suggested that the government offers exporters help through tax breaks and financial subsidies. Again, as Elie has said often, Syria should have done that instead of spending money on irrigation. It would have used the money it earns from exports to import its food needs. I am not advocating services over manufacturing. What I am saying is that Syria started with close to zero in service industries. As it goes from zero to positive, we must not be surprised. As late as 2004, we did not have a single private bank. Between the building of the Sheraton of Damascus in the 1970’s and the arrival of the Four Seasons, we did not have a single new 5-star hotel. The country did not have a stock market. As such service industries start and grow; we must not be dismayed that it is coming at the expense of something else. I see them offering a complimentary role to the other sectors of the economy.

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October 20th, 2010, 2:55 pm

 

Majhool said:

I don’t understand what’s wrong with making 40+k a month. The great news is that the government is making 25% of that a month. not bad.

Ehsani,

Isn’t someone’s worth ultimately have to do with government policy. In the US bankers make make more money because they are allowed to take more risk (deregulation). Doctors in the US make more than their counterparts in Europe because how the health care system in the US is set up.

Should not the debate be centered around what this high salary is telling us about that sector in particular? a bubble maybe? an untapped revenue stream for the government?

Its the government job to controls bubbles and redirect incentive and regulation to protect the people. no?

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October 20th, 2010, 3:05 pm

 

WHY said:

JAD:

You are changing what you said in your comment. In your first comment, you said:

“As for the salaries of $43,000 a month, my question is what did they do to Syria not to their companies to deserve this salaries, where is their achievement on ground?”

You make it a precondition for one to do something to the country proportional to their salary for them to deserve that salary. That is not the case! All citizens have the same national duties, whether rich or poor. The only difference between the rich and poor is the higher % of taxes they pay, in which they do pay a higher tax! But taxes are no preconditions, they are paid after one receives the salary, so by you coming back and saying:

“I’m asking him/her to think of its society and to pay back his duties to the whole through the appropriate tax…”

This is way different than your initial statement of: “my question is what did they do to Syria not to their companies to deserve this salaries, where is their achievement on ground?”

You are asking achievements on ground as preconditions, not taxes, but nice try.

Your comment about raising taxes to 60% came afterward, which I disagree for two main reason. The economic reason that Ehsani eloquently mentioned, and the political reason that I gave, which has to do with lack of transparency and prevalent corruption.

As for your points on military and security spending, I don’t buy the emotional argument. The country has over 15 security apparatus which are targeted against the citizens in order to protect the regime and to balance the power between the other apparatus. We haven’t seen a shot fired against Israel for over 35 years. On the other hand, even if we dedicate 100% of the budget on military spending, the military would not stand a chance. Elie has mentioned great points in his articles about that. Tell me Mr Jad, why aren’t members of parliament, who are suppose to be the representatives of the people, allowed to question how much is the budget of the military, and where the money in the military is going? You know why? because the money is going to the pockets of the corrupt officers and the politicians! It’s funny how you bring emotional arguments like “Do you want Syria to be another Iraq?” Let me remind you that Iraq used to spend more money on the military in order for them to oppress their people. Where they able to stop the havoc? No, in fact, the corrupt and tyrannical practices of the baath is part of the reason why there was so much hatred and blood spill in that country! There is no feeling of security within the people of Syria, surely not that people who think and want to see a freer country. That’s because feeling of security comes when you are able to think and speak freely, when you are able to engage with the government without continuous threats or corruption practices.

Last, I never accused you of being a communist. I respect your right to speak and would never ask you to not state your opinions just because I don’t agree with them. On the other hand, Am I, along with many others, allowed to state our opinions freely in Syria? I think the answer for that is obvious.

Please don’t confuse my harsh and direct criticism of your points as disrespect or that I am infringing on your basic rights. I am a fierce debtor by nature and would use that ferocity to fight for your right to speak!

Nour:

Military spending is unknown in Syria. Not even members of parliament have the right to find out. It was like the Syrian oil revenues from 80s until mid 90s, when that money used to go directly to the President’s palace without anyone finding out how much it was or where it was spent. It was not part of the budget.

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October 20th, 2010, 3:16 pm

 

jad said:

Why,
It seems that you are trying hard to make a point out of nothing;
“You are asking achievements on ground as preconditions, not taxes, but nice try.”
Huh?! I’m not even trying, I didn’t put any precondition, I was merely asking what did they do on the ground to deserve the salary? If you know, please, enlighten us.

“Your comment about raising taxes to 60% came afterward, which I disagree for two main reason. ”
I pay 40% income tax and I’m nowhere near the 43k, what is your capitalism explanation of that?
When I’m asking for the 60% tax on the very high salary I wasn’t looking for it to be spend on corruption, I actually explained that it should be spend on education and health.

‘As for your points on military and security spending, I don’t buy the emotional argument.”
I wasn’t selling you any emotional argument so you don’t need to buy.
I was explaining the point that if we Syrians want to have some security in the middle of the ‘lovely’ neighbourhood we live in then a military budget is expected to exist to bring some security.
I wasn’t discussing freedom of speech in my comments because it wasn’t the subject.

“Tell me Mr Jad, why aren’t members of parliament, who are suppose to be the representatives of the people, allowed ….”
You tell me Mr. WHY, is there any one member of those represent you or me or any Syrian citizen’s best interest? They only represent themselves and their money and the Syrian citizen is the last thing on their minds, so you think they even care to even ask?

“On the other hand, Am I, along with many others, allowed to state our opinions freely in Syria?”
Again, I was writing somehow technical points to Ehsani so it wasn’t about the political freedom that you are asking about and I’m not sure what do you want.

“Please don’t confuse my harsh and direct criticism of your points as disrespect or that I am infringing on your basic rights. I am a fierce debtor by nature and would use that ferocity to fight for your right to speak!”
Point taken and the same comments back at you.

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October 20th, 2010, 4:26 pm

 

Nour said:

Ehsani2,

Thanks for the explanation. I agree with your analysis.

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October 20th, 2010, 5:15 pm

 

jad said:

Dear Ehsani,
Thank you for the reply.
Quick notes on your 41 post

You wrote
“The median price of real estate does not reflect median incomes”
In theory I would agree with you, however, and In the existing condition of the Syrian real estate market today don’t you agree that if the salary goes up the market will fly and then you will have a boom in the illegal settlement? if you agree which I assume you will, then the theory doesn’t fit the reality of Syria and we need a different approach to solve the real estate market high price problem, this is where my point that we need to legalize and develop the shadow market (it doesn’t take as long as developing and rezoning a new area).

Again, the 60% I was suggesting was an idea out of personal experience, that to feel fair in any country, the tax system should be balanced to everybody in that country, so if I’m paying 40% income tax and on top of that I pay 13-15% service tax on everything I buy then the tax bracket needs to be higher for the 500k a year citizen.
BUT I do understand your theory for a country like Syria where everything is not as it should be so getting the 20% out of the rich guys is better than getting nothing.

‘First, where are Syria’s water resources to promote agriculture?’
How about using technology in that sector, as Why wrote, isn’t that a choice? Doesn’t Syria have enough land to produce enough food for its citizens without the need for the middle man to import some potato from china?

‘where is the electricity capacity going to come from?’
Technology again, how about building green electrical hubs in the unused vast desert we have and try to use our brains and creativity in a way to get something instead of sitting and getting everything from everywhere else and pay for all those middle men their fees and stay behind everybody else in the world.

I accept Service Sector as a complimentary for other sectors as you wrote in your reply to Nour, nothing more than that at least until we have enough wealth as a country to move fully toward the service sectors.

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October 20th, 2010, 5:17 pm

 

WHY said:

JAD:

You said:
“I was merely asking what did they do on the ground to deserve the salary”

A banker does not need to do anything to the country in order for him to get the job of CEO of a private bank. He needs to have the right credentials for the JOB, and that is educational background and work experience. This is something that the members of the board at the bank decide, not the government! The baath when they came over nationalized the banks and gave the top position to a members of the party because they said that this position is sensitive and we need to have someone loyal in this position. You see, the private sector doesn’t run on a system of who’s most loyal to the party or the country. What do you want the CEO of the bank to have done before he became CEO, shout bel ro7 bel dam nafdeek ya sourya? or oma 3arabiya wa7ida zat risala khalida?

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October 20th, 2010, 5:32 pm

 

jad said:

Why,
Let me rephrase the question so you can answer it more directly without trying to explain the obvious:

Do you know what the CEO of any bank in Syria did for his bank to deserve the salary?

“What do you want the CEO of the bank to have done before he became CEO, shout bel ro7 bel dam nafdeek ya sourya? or oma 3arabiya wa7ida zat risala khalida?”
That would be great :), can you ask them to do that?

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October 20th, 2010, 5:58 pm

 

Elie Elhadj said:

WHY,

You said in 47: “It was like the Syrian oil revenues from 80s until mid 90s, when that money used to go directly to the President’s palace without anyone finding out how much it was or where it was spent. It was not part of the budget”.

Here are some numbers from the Central Bank of Syria that you might find interesting:

In 2008, Syria’s “Government Royalty of Joint Oil Fields
“أتاوة الحكومة من حقول النفط المشتركة
http://www.cbssyr.org/yearbook/2009/chapter14-EN.htm
was S£ 42,452,000,000, or US$ 850 million (at forex rate of S£50=US$1).

In 2008, Syria extracted 20,245,000 m3 of oil:
http://www.cbssyr.org/yearbook/2009/chapter5-EN.htm
or some 145 million barrels (at 7.15 barrels = 1 m3).

The average price of crude oil in 2008 was in the region of $91/barrel:
http://www.ioga.com/Special/crudeoil_Hist.htm

As such Syria’s gross revenues from crude oil should have been $13 billion (145 million barrels x $91 per barrel).

Assuming, just assuming, that Syria’s take after foreign companies royalties and extraction costs is 50% of the total (I have no idea what the exact % might be), then Syria’s revenues from crude oil ought to be in the region of $6.5 billion, not $0.85 billion.

The assumption of 50% might be completely wrong. It might very well be only 6.5% ($0.85 / $13 billion)!

For the removal of speculation and erroneous conclusions regarding the amount of the country’s oil revenues and in the interest of transparency it would be enlightening to learn how the figure of S£42,542,000,000 or $0.85 billion was arrived at.

Elie

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October 20th, 2010, 6:27 pm

 

WHY said:

Jad,

Your question “Do you know what the CEO of any bank in Syria did for his bank to deserve the salary?” is a very valid one and quite different from the one you initially posted regarding what they did for the country.

Ehsani summarized it very well economically speaking. The bank simply would not be able to attract good bankers to run the bank if they paid much less. I for example would not leave my current job now and take a job in Syria if they pay me the same amount. I would need more than my current salary now to take the same job in Syria. I need to be compensated and be paid a premium for all the valuable things that I can’t find in Syria, and this includes freedom of thought and speech! I also need to be compensated for living under pollution!

As for picking someone to run a bank if I was a board member or a shareholder, I would demand someone with very high credibility. I would look at educational background as a starter, someone an MBA from one of the top business schools in North America or Europe. It would be an extra if he has a PhD in Finance. It’s alright if they got their undergrad degree in an Arabic country (For those who were educated in the Arab world, you have a chance 🙂

Work experience is very important. You can’t have someone in such position without having top experience in the banking sector. This means an executive at the current bank or some other bank for at least 10 years. Let’s not forget that generally employees don’t become executives before 10 years (there are exceptions of course). So this means the person needs at least 20 years of experience in the sector. (There are always exceptions, but you can say that this is the standard in the banking business).

Economics is very simple ladies and gentlemen. If you were an owner of a company and the managing director/CEO of the company is able to generate $50 million dollars in profit for you..wouldn’t you give him at least half a million?

After checking the financials of Audi Bank, the bank made a NET PROFIT (this is after costs and everything) of over $254 million as at 30/9/2010. There are 3 more month to add! This is $43 million more than the same period (9 month) in 2009 in which they made $213 million. Not bad at a time of “recession”.
http://www.banqueaudi.com/Financials/Pages/ISMain.aspx?pic_url=Financials

If the CEO was making them loose or not setting the goals for growth rate, then he would have been out on his ass a long time ago. I’m sure they aren’t going to pay him mshan sawad 3yoono (for his black eyes 🙂

If I was a shareholder I have nothing to complain about. As for the government, they shouldn’t either because the more money the banks make the more taxes they will end up paying. You want socialism? Fine, but I guarantee you most of the foreign banks will close down on their own (thats if they aren’t forced to close down) and the government will have to end up running the banking sector on their own, having to cope with more corruption, bureaucracy and losses!

ELIE:

Thank you for your research. This surely raises many questions. Isn’t there one member of parliament or politician in Syria with a conscience?

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October 20th, 2010, 7:41 pm

 

Jad said:

Why,
Thank you for the explanations and for Audi bank example.

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October 20th, 2010, 8:35 pm

 

jad said:

If you live in Canada:

http://www.cjpme.org/

DR. NORMAN FINKELSTEIN – ISRAEL AND PALESTINE: PAST, PRESENT, FUTURE

October 26, 2010 – October 30, 2010
Join us as Dr. Finkelstein discusses the situation in Gaza, the raid on the S.S. Mavi Marmara, the current stage of the peace process and the prospect of another regional war in the Middle East in a lecture entitled: Israel and Palestine: Past, Present and Future
Montreal, Quebec – Tuesday, October 26, 2010, 07:30 PM. Full Details
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Edmonton, Alberta – Friday, October 29, 2010, 07:30 PM. Full Details
Vancouver, British Columbia – Saturday, October 30, 2010, 07:30 PM. Full Details

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October 21st, 2010, 2:23 am

 

Honest Patriot said:

test

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October 21st, 2010, 3:59 am

 

Anonymous said:

Elie,

It will be good to do some more research before publishing figures as they are facts!

“Government Royalty of Joint Oil Fields” is only one item through which oil revenues are channeled into the budget. If you check the latest IMF figures, you would see that oil revenues in 2008 were SP 131.4 billion (US$ 2.6 billions) and the average price of each barrel exported was US$ 84.2.

Second, and obviously, not all oil produced in Syria is exported! This means that using the international oil price for all production is totally wrong.

I am not going to get to more details here but the idea that oil does not go into the budget is one of the funniest urban legends common in Syria especially considering that oil has been funding the state over the last two decades. It is a pity to hear “researchers” repeat this myth.

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October 21st, 2010, 4:44 am

 

EIU said:

Elie,

Interesting point on the government take from oil royalties, but the calculation you make is based on Syria’s total oil production, whereas the entry in the accounts specifies jointly operated oilfields. SPC now produces about 190,000 b/d and the joint operators (Shell, Total etc) produce about 180,000 b/d between them. The standard royalty paid to the foreign operators is 12.5%; the operators are also entitled to a variable amount for cost recovery. The government gets other revenue from the oil sector in the form of tax on both the foreign operators and SPC, and through a share of SPC’s profits.

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October 21st, 2010, 7:07 am

 

Elie Elhadj said:

ANONYMOUS

The Central Bank of Syria states under:

الواردات التقديرية في الموازنة الموحدة 2008 ( بآلاف الليرات السورية )
ESTIMATED REVENUES IN THE CONSOLIDATED BUDGET, 2008( S.P.000)
http://www.cbssyr.org/yearbook/2009/chapter14-EN.htm

That: Government Royalty of Joint Oil Fields
أتاوة الحكومة من حقول النفط المشتركة
is S£ 42,452,000,000

There is no other entry in the table that signifies additional revenues from oil. Please look for yourself and advise if there exists in the table additional revenues from oil.

The manner in which the Central Bank presents government revenues in the specific table leads to raising exactly the type of question that I raised. I said in my comment:

For the removal of speculation and erroneous conclusions regarding the amount of the country’s oil revenues and in the interest of transparency it would be enlightening to learn how the figure of S£42,542,000,000 or $0.85 billion was arrived at.

That is all I asked for.

Please advice the Central Bank and the budget preparers to present the revenue numbers differently if they wish people to avoid concluding what I have concluded.

Elie

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October 21st, 2010, 7:59 am

 

EIU said:

Elie,

The IMF Article IV report presents Ministry of Finance fiscal data on page 18. It shows that in 2008 the government budgeted to receive oil revenue of S£90bn but was actually expected to have received S£131bn as the price was higher than that assumed.

http://www.imf.org/external/pubs/ft/scr/2010/cr1086.pdf

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October 21st, 2010, 8:23 am

 

Mr. PRSEIDENT said:

Abu Fares,
it seems that one of the limited social activities in Syria is drinking a glass of arak in an upscale café. After all, that was the invitation that you offered Ehsani. Why don’t offer him a nice cup of green tea instead? There are millions of Syrians who offer their guests a simple and a cheap cup of tea. How much antioxidant does this arak drink has compared to green tea? The answer is minus a million (so boys and girls of syriacomment.com make sure you drink muchooo green tea like I do 🙂 ). Did you offer him Arak versus tea as a higher price for attracting a stronger social bind and friendship? Off course you did. YOU ARE WILLING TO PAY THE MARKET PRICE TO GET THE REQUIRED RESULT.

Also, you could drink the same thing by sitting in a café in the alley of old souk elHal (vegetable market of Damascus). In such place you still enjoy the smell and the taste of your favorite drink for a very cheap price. You would also get to experience the sickening smell of natural substances left by surrounding horses and donkeys. I wonder why are you willing to pay that upscale café owner the high price to sit in his coffee shop. Is it fair that YOU pay $30 dollars to the café owner while his dishwasher is making $200 a month working 12 hours a day? Off course it is fair and acceptable to you. The owner should be more compensated for taking more risks opening and running the business.

If that bank manager worked for me I would advice him not to take the job considering the risks and the added hidden costs and headache of managing such an operation in Syria. He could be better in Dubai. After paying 20% income tax his salary would hardly be enough to finance and live in a single family home in the suburb of Damascus, put his kids in a private college, and finance two family cars,…

Cheers.
Mr. President.

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October 21st, 2010, 8:26 am

 

Elie Elhadj said:

EIU

Your explanation is enlightening.

You said: “The joint operators (Shell, Total etc) produce about 180,000 b/d between them”.

On the basis of 180,000 b/d or 65,700,000 barrels per annum, gross revenues in 2008 should have been shown in the table referred to in comments 61 and 54 above just under $6 billion (65.7 million barrels x $90/ barrel). Assuming that the cost recovery that the operators receive is, say, 7.5% (I have no idea how much) plus 12.5% royalty, government revenues should be around $4.8 billion ($6 billion x 80%. Less than $4.8 billion if cost recovery is more than 7.5%).

As such, explanation by the Central Bank and the preparers of the budget is still due, if clarity on this issue is to be preserved.

I do hope that there are perfect explanations for the apparent differences and that those differences are merely presentational anomalies. However, until and unless a clear accounting is presented in the home budget doubts regarding the truthfulness of the numbers will not go away. The issue being raised here is in the interest of the government and citizens.

That explanations might exist in IMF statistics, as ANANYMOUS stated is no substitute to accurate and clear presentation in the home budget.

Elie

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October 21st, 2010, 8:34 am

 

Mr. PRESIDENT said:

Abu Fares,
it seems that one of the limited social activities in Syria is drinking a glass of arak in an upscale café. After all, that was the invitation that you offered Ehsani. Why don’t offer him a nice cup of green tea instead? There are millions of Syrians who offer their guests a simple and a cheap cup of tea. How much antioxidant does this arak drink has compared to green tea? The answer is minus a million (so boys and girls of syriacomment.com make sure you drink muchooo green tea like I do 🙂 ). Did you offer him Arak versus tea as a higher price for attracting a stronger social bind and friendship? Off course you did. YOU ARE WILLING TO PAY THE MARKET PRICE TO GET THE REQUIRED RESULT.

Also, you could drink the same thing by sitting in a café in the alley of old souk elHal (vegetable market of Damascus). In such place you still enjoy the smell and the taste of your favorite drink for a very cheap price. You would also get to experience the sickening smell of natural substances left by surrounding horses and donkeys. I wonder why are you willing to pay that upscale café owner the high price to sit in his coffee shop. Is it fair that YOU pay $30 dollars to the café owner while his dishwasher is making $200 a month working 12 hours a day? Off course it is fair and acceptable to you. The owner should be more compensated for taking more risks opening and running the business.

If that bank manager worked for me I would advice him not to take the job considering the risks and the added hidden costs and headache of managing such an operation in Syria. He could be better in Dubai. After paying 20% income tax his salary would hardly be enough to finance and live in a single family home in the suburb of Damascus, put his kids in a private college, and finance two family cars,…..

Cheers.
Mr. President.

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October 21st, 2010, 8:42 am

 

ANANYMOUS said:

Elie,

Yes, maybe a better presentation of oil revenues should be provided, although budgets are usually prepared according to fiscal pricplies and not on a product-by product basis. However, and I am not saying there is no corruption in the oil field, the idea that oil is not counted in the budget, as some people here said (I dont mean you), is laughable. The budget of Syria relied on oil for far too long and this is the major reason for the difficult economic situation was are in right now.

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October 21st, 2010, 9:04 am

 

Elie Elhadj said:

EIU,

Thanks.

At S£131.4 billion for 2008, as shown on page 18 of the IMF Country Report, revenues from oil would be $2.62 billion (at forex rate of S£50=$1).

£2.62 billion is still far less than the $6 billion referred to in my comment 63 to your good self. $2.62 billion is far far less than the $13 billion referred to in my comment no. 54 to WHY.

Please note that the IMF Report classifies the subject figure as “Revenues. Oil”. It does not say “Government Royalty of Joint Oil Fields” or SPC operations. As such, one should be able to reasonably conclude that the $2.62 billion represents Syria’s entire revenues from oil.

The IMF Report did not explain the subject difference. It actually complicated matters.

The question is still as follows: How are the Central Bank and the preparers of Syria’s budget to explain the difference between $2.62 billion and $6 billion, let alone $13 billion?

Elie

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October 21st, 2010, 9:15 am

 

EIU said:

Elie,

The inner workings of production-sharing contracts are notoriously difficult to unpick — but my understanding is that the royalty that accrues to the government (typically 87.5%) from foreign companies operating in Syria comes from the share that those companies are entitled to in proportion to their equity stake in the oilfield operating company, which is normally 50%. Under the Syrian system, the oil is marketed by a Syrian state-owned trading company, and the foreign partner receives the 12.5% royalty in cash (which provides an opportunity for gains for the state or its employees via arbitrage). The other 50% goes to SPC, and part of this sum finds its way to the government in the form of tax and profit share. It is probable that in Syria, as elsewhere, there is a certain amount of skimming by officials of greater or lesser weight.

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October 21st, 2010, 9:48 am

 

Elie Elhadj said:

EIU,

Thanks for your added clarifications.

Might these formulae cut government’s NET oil revenues by the billions of dollars?

Government revenues from oil are reported to the IMF in 2008 as being $2.6 billion.

“Government Royalty of Joint Oil Fields” is reported in the same year by the Central Bank as being $0.85 billion.

The theoretical GROSS government revenues from oil for 2008 ought to be in the region of $13 billion.

No matter how big the deductions might be for cost of production, royalties to foreign partners, etc…. the revenues figure ought to be greater than the one reported to the IMF. The same logic applies to the figures of the joint projects in the budget.

The budget preparers should provide a detailed accounting of oil revenues and related outlays. The citizens and the parliament have the right to know. Unless such an accounting is provided, questions marks will persist.

Elie

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October 21st, 2010, 11:09 am

 

Global Voices teny Malagasy » Siria: Iza no mandray $42,000 isam-bolana? said:

[…] izany tao anatin'ny sokajy fametrahana fanamarihana, na tany anatin'ny lahatsoratra. Alex, nanamarika tao amin'ny lahatsoratr'i Ehsani, milaza fa tokony hihaino misimisy kokoa, ary mihaino tsara […]

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October 21st, 2010, 11:37 am

 

abufares said:

To MP
If you think I am one to drink Arak in an upscale café you’re way off the mark. I won’t even drink it in Damascus. I have that much respect for… Arak.

For the rest of you, I haven’t stopped whining. Here it is my latest release “Syrian Economics 101”

http://www.abufares.net/2010/10/syrian-economics-101.html

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October 21st, 2010, 11:37 am

 

jad said:

I post the same comments on your site Abu Fares:

Dear Abu Fares,
I salute your courage in saying the obvious without trying to sugarcoat the truth that with or without any degree in economy the average Syrian ‘Abu Ahmad’ not only understand it but he also live with it everyday.

I asked something similar to the question you asked:
“Since the debate veered into private banking in Syria, shouldn’t I ask what did these banks contribute to the country and its economy.”
I got no proper answer because obviously there is none. It’s funny how the people’s mentality change, asking such question will make you sound ‘bad’ as if doing good to Syria is something Taboo that nobody should ask and we should be ashamed of!!?

My friend, we are living in a Mad World and the answer to your big and dangerous question of:
“If there is a consensus among economists about the human validity of the above argument then the field of economics is the only social science that is openly void of any moral values.”
is YES, in economics there is no place for Morals it has only Materialistic ‘Values’ and we the very few left average middle class Syrians are the big losers 🙂
Thank you.

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October 21st, 2010, 12:19 pm

 

idaf said:

Ehsani Pacha 🙂

You make a very strong case. I totally agree.

However, I have one point you may want to consider in your well-reasoned conclusion, especially when talking about taxes in Syria.

In all normally functioning states, other than rich tax-free havens, taxes are considered one of citizens’ obligations in return for the services provided by the state. This includes providing security, high quality and affordable (or free) healthcare and educational systems, solid infrastructure, transportation system, social security systems, etc. Additionally, these rights also include the state allowing citizens to practice accountability against the officials and have a say in the policy-making and the way the country is run.

In Syria, the system that was developed and put in place since four decades was based on a social contract between the ruling elite (businesses and government) and the population. This contract effectively and implicitly stated that: The government will ignore tax collection, will provide mediocre social services and will give a free hand to wide scale petty corruption. In return, according to this social contract, the Syrian population will relinquish its right in receiving high quality services and the right to have a say in running the country. A whole ecosystem was developed based on this implicit social contract. It’s like your boss telling you: “let’s make a deal… you can make money on your own illegally by exploiting your job and even not showing up to work while you keep receiving your salary and benefits; while in return you turn a blind eye on me while I steal from the company’s coffers and make under-the-table deals with external businesses”. This system was gradually developed in complicity over the years and grew out of control during more than four decades with implicit agreement between the two sides. In this system, the worst thing that can happen to you if you steel from the state or get bribes in your government job is getting gently laid off after getting a fat bank account overseas or in Lebanon, which you can keep. One key component of this system is having everyone in the country joining this game. In other words, there can only be one employer.. the state, with no real private sector, no banking systems, no rule of law, etc. The business elite of course jumped onboard immediately and allied itself with the ruling government elite through major under-the-table deals which became the norm of in Syria. Although they didn’t have much say, the population adapted and was largely content that they are not paying taxes, while receiving free services, even if mediocre.

That was the pre-Bashar era.

Growing the economy, developing the private sector and opening the market meant that this unsustainable system has to be abolished. However, after four decades, it is not easy to ask the whole society that adapted to this system to just start paying taxes without providing them with their rights in return. If the water and electricity infrastructure is still a disaster, the education system is broken, the healthcare system is mediocre and public transport infrastructure is lacking then people will continue to find it a sensible thing not to pay taxes. This is not even mentioning getting back the right to participate in running the country! Unless the Syrian population sees strong indications that they will eventually get a healthcare system like Paris, a transportation infrastructure like London and water and electricity infrastructure like Tokyo, then why would they pay taxes and change the system they adapted to?

This said, the real resistance to abolishing this system comes from the business community that thrived under it for four decades (i.e. your ketchup-making relative). I remember having coffee with you in café in Aleppo two years ago. You mentioned then a discussion you had the night before with members of the Aleppian business elite in ‘nadi Halab’. According to you, the businessmen were complaining and were pessimistic about the ‘future of the country’. They were reading the writing on the wall and knew that abandoning that system meant that they will now have to pay taxes, lose their monopoly over the population, and compete with other players providing higher quality services and products. Eventually many of them did go bankrupt over the past few years as they weren’t able to adapt. In my view this is a good sign.

So given this reality, paying taxes, having a clear break with socialism and privatization -as you propose- cannot take place as fast as you want. The state has to gain the trust again that it can deliver these services and give the population back its rights if it was to ask them to abandon the previous agreement and start paying taxes again. This will only take time naturally for the population to adjust to urbanized normalcy again after living in a jungle for four decades! Luckily for Syria however, the population is very young and they should have high flexibility and be able to adapt fast enough. But until then Dardari will continue to be vilified by both the beneficiaries of the old social contract: the businesses elite and the associated officials and government network.

So to conclude, in my view Abu Fares may be right to attack the private businesses that existed and exploited the system over the past four decades with its connection to the ruling circles. Although he should not mix this with the newly developed healthy private sector in Syria, even if it pays salaries up-to USD 42K.

Mr. PRESIDENT,
As far as I know, Ehsani is not a big alcohol drinker, so you can calm down a bit 🙂

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October 21st, 2010, 12:31 pm

 

EHSANI2 said:

Dear Abu Fares,

I hope that we are still up for Arak when I am in Syria soon. Not in an upscale café. Incidentally, I love your new post as much as I liked the first. Neither one was “amateurish”. What I meant by “entertaining” was that it was very lucid and well written. Indeed, it is next to impossible for any reader not to identify with that you wrote. Jad and many have saluted you. I do the same. You have hit a nerve and triggered this healthy debate.

A number of commentators believe that I used your post as an opportunity to rant about my drop-socialism-and-privatize theme. The feeling is that I have been too “repetitive” with my writings. To that, I apologize. I will try to sing a different theme next time.

My smart fellow Aleppian friend Idaf does a great job of describing what he calls the “social contract” that existed between the business community and the government. In conclusion, he agrees with you that the private businesses” exploited the system over the past four decades with its connection to the ruling circles”.

Please allow me to disagree with both of you again:

First, I want to draw your attention back to the top of my post when I wrote:

“The socialist experiment that dates back to the 1960’s was launched by confiscating private property.”

I think that it is critical that we don’t forget this. Before one attacks the private sector, it is important to hit the rewind button first:

Capital and private property was not only confiscated and taken away. Those who had anything left or who were starting new were subject to significant tax rates and stringent anti-business draconian laws. Tax on higher income (no, not $42,000 a month then) tax brackets were known to hit close to 80%. The laws concerning currency transfers or trade finance were treated like capital punishment. Soon enough, a drive under the heading of “men-ayna-laka-haza” or “how-did-get-this-rich) was underway. I still recall how members of my extended family used to shiver at the thought of being called in by the “mahkame Iktisadiye” or “economic court”. The ruling of this court was final. It was “hukem urfi. No need to hire a lawyer. Many well-to-do families had had enough. Since the first property confiscation, many decided to settle in Lebanon. It is interesting that one of those families is actually the owner of one of the “Lebanese” private banks operating in Syria now. Many wealthy Lebanese with Syrian origins were a product of this era.

The laws governing the private sector under the new socialist era were so draconian that those who broke them stood to be handsomely rewarded for taking the risk.

Yes, in the end it is all about risk-reward. Doing private business in Syria had, has and will continue to be fraught with risk. Those that decide to commit their capital to projects will only do so when the return is commensurate with the risk that they are taking.

Many who are attacking the private sector on this forum have not said a word about the “risks “that this sector assumes when doing business in the country. Many have committed millions of Dollars to their factories, trade finance or real estate holdings. They could have liquidated their net worth, called their friendly private banker and placed it all in Geneva living happily thereafter sipping Arak in Tartous. But they did not. Why? Because they figure that the adjusted-for-risk-return that they make in Syria exceeds the return that they may make in Geneva. Syrian merchants are not fools. They make these implicit calculations every minute in their heads. Once the government taxes them at 60% (and they have to comply) as some suggested, they may quickly realize that on a risk-adjusted-basis it now makes more sense to close shop and get on a plane to Geneva. The country has been under US economic sanctions lately. Those that have stayed investing in the country only do so because they calculate that they will be allowed to make a high enough return to justify
taking such risks.

To all those that attack the greed of the private sector, I ask:

Have you considered the risks that this sector operates under? Ask yourselves whether you would invest in such a risky environment if the return was not worthwhile.

Please remember that while money transfers out of the country are seemingly free today, the laws of the land still restrict free money transfers. Based on literal interpretation of the law, every single merchant in Syria may have broken the law at one point. I have often joked that if you look closely, every single businessman in Syria has broken the law one day.

High risk environment dictates high expected return. Draconian and business unfriendly environments breed a culture of I-have-to-break-the-law-to-survive.

Dear Abu Fares,

The Syrian private sector is not “brutal, heartless, destructive, parasitic and hugely culpable for the rapid deterioration in the standard of living of most Syrians and for the further erosion and eventual disappearance of the middle class”. The middle class has disappeared because economic growth has been too slow to absorb the expanding population. Your anger must be directed at an economic policy that has delivered sub-par performance for way too long in this country.

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October 21st, 2010, 3:08 pm

 

abufares said:

Ehsani
I would not settle for anything less than Arak. I look forward drinking with you. I’m honored. 
That we disagree despite the fact that I come from a family that lost plenty during the witch hunt and property confiscation has no bearing on who I am today. 
I was not angry in the least when I voiced my opinion. I seldom am. I look forward a private debate with you somewhere, sometime where and when none of this really matters. 
Cheers!

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October 21st, 2010, 3:37 pm

 

Alex said:

Dear Idaf and Ehsani,

This is another chicken and egg question … should the state deliver first, then ask people to start paying taxes, or should people pay taxes to provide the state with enough funds to do what is needed.

I think the answer is the second one. Thanks to US sanctions and to Syria’s “resistance” leadership role, Syria will not get much funding from outside its borders. Saudi Arabia and Gulf states will invest in projects, but they are not donating billions for infrastructure work (yet).

As for the challenge of asking people to pay taxes while they are currently not impressed with the government’s choices in spending or its ability to manage and upkeep Syria’s infrastructure and assets in general, again … the government needs to invest in learning how to communicate with its people. The problem is that our ruling party always believed that its leadership knows best … no need to ask anyone below.

I understand that we do not have “democracy” … but communicating with the Syrian people is not as challenging as establishing “democracy” today … Learning to ask the people or to inform them of what and why you are planning for them, is one safe step towards that Utopian Democracy objective.

Abu Fares mentioned examples of greed among owners of private businesses in Syria … those who were trying to import Indian workers because they did not want to hire Syrians for $200 a month. This is pure greed and has no justification by rewinding to the mistakes of Abdul Nasser and the Baath in confiscating the assets of the wealthy in the 60’s

There is too much greed … it might be tolerated in the US but in Syria, you have to be more sensitive to Syria’s idiosyncrasies … Just like Islamic Banking’s limitations are respected by banks that do business with Saudi Arabia.

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October 21st, 2010, 4:03 pm

 

EHSANI2 said:

What our people need is economic growth.

consider this (assuming syrian population grows at 2.7%):

If the Syrian economy grows at 8% for the next forty years, per capita income will be $1289 a month by 2050

If the economy grows by only 4% for the next forty years, per capita income will be $296 a month by 2050.

Economic policy that strives and achieves the doubling of growth ends up producing 4.4 times the income that would have prevailed had growth been half as strong.

This is how you create a middle class

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October 21st, 2010, 4:07 pm

 

Majhool said:

Ehsani,

Do you mind answering my previous question, I am copying it here again, thanks

Isn’t someone’s worth ultimately have to do with government policy? In the US bankers make make more money because they are allowed to take more risk (deregulation). Doctors in the US make more than their counterparts in Europe because how the health care system in the US is set up. What’s you take on this?

Should not the debate be centered around what this high salary is telling us about that sector in particular? a bubble maybe? an untapped revenue stream for the government?

Its the government job to controls bubbles and redirect incentive and regulation to protect the people. no?

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October 21st, 2010, 4:19 pm

 

Majhool said:

Alex,

I totally support your communication argument. It will make it easier for lower-income syrians to pay their share. However, is it reasonable for a high-income syrian already making loads of money complain about taxes? I personally don’t think think so. what’s to complain if the society is affording you the opportunity to make so much money?

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October 21st, 2010, 4:24 pm

 

EHSANI2 said:

Majhool,

Just like any other product/service, the price of labor (wage) is determined by demand and supply. Very successful Hedge fund managers make a lot because it is difficult to find them. When investors do, they end up having to pay them enormous compensation.

Renovating a house needs a smart architect. Finding brilliant ones is not easy and when you do, you have to pay up.

The banker in Syria is the same. There are many bankers around. The $42,000 a month is not for everyone. It is for the star performers who rise to become general managers and who get responsible for running billion dollar balance sheets.

The government has nothing to do with this.

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October 21st, 2010, 4:35 pm

 

Majhool said:

Ehsani,

Thank you for your answer. I have to disagree with you as i believe that supply and demand works only in the confines of a set government policies.

Back to the doctors examples, The ratio of the average income of U.S. physicians to average employee compensation for the United States as a whole was about 5.5. Germany’s was the next highest, at only 3.4; Canada, 3.2; Australia, 2.2; Switzerland, 2.1; France, 1.9; Sweden, 1.5; and the United Kingdom, 1.4.

Also, Massive money made in the housing market in the US was a direct result of lax regulations on the part of the government.

Clearly some governments in an effort to curb cost/inflation design their systems accordingly. I see nothing wrong with that.

Income inequality should be taken as a bad sign. There is no need to couple inequality with growth. that would give growth a bad name.

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October 21st, 2010, 5:58 pm

 

Norman said:

Idaf,
I like your note, and it makes sense ,Alex, Ehsani , i want to ask what you think ,

We have to understand that what brought the Baath Revolution and Nasser before it was the significant inequality in wealth and standard of living between the wealthy and the poor , The mistake that the rich made as they did in Russia, Cuba , China and other countries is that they did not take care of the less fortunate and that led to the revolution , on the other hand in the US and the West , the elite had foresight and through taxation they took care of their poor with Affirmative action for women and blacks , food stamps so nobody is hungry as hungry people get out in the street and cause mayhem for everybody , Affordable and subsidised housing kept people from being homeless , these measure were not done because the rich cared about the poor , they were done to pacify the poor and protect the assets of the rich ,
Syria in it’s new found economic growth and the new riches has to be careful not to create the atmosphere that led to the last revolution and confiscation of property , therefore through taxation on profits the rich can do what was done in the US and the West , take care of the less fortunate and that is not for the sake of the poor even if they can claim that , it is for the sake of the rich and the preservation of their wealth and assets ,

SHARE A LITTLE TO SAVE A LOT ,

The Question is , are they smart enough to see it ,

WE WILL SEE ,

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October 21st, 2010, 9:38 pm

 

Alex said:

Majhool,

I’m sure you know that complaining is part of our culture … a businessman who is doing so well will still complain, … to avoid an evil eye for example.

Having said that, I think a gradual increase in income taxes (not a jump from 20% to 60%) is doable, … with the standard complaining always expected.

so when it comes to raising taxes, perhaps we need a “corrective movement”, not a revolution 🙂

Norman,

I totally agree.

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October 22nd, 2010, 1:13 am

 

SimoHurtta said:

Just like any other product/service, the price of labor (wage) is determined by demand and supply. Very successful Hedge fund managers make a lot because it is difficult to find them. When investors do, they end up having to pay them enormous compensation.

Renovating a house needs a smart architect. Finding brilliant ones is not easy and when you do, you have to pay up.

The banker in Syria is the same. There are many bankers around. The $42,000 a month is not for everyone. It is for the star performers who rise to become general managers and who get responsible for running billion dollar balance sheets.

The government has nothing to do with this.

The Finnish bosses who lead the major companies in financial and industrial sector after WW2 and before 1995 earned normally 20-30 times an average workers yearly salary. These bosses were the guys who did in reality lead the building of the foundation of the industrialized Finland. And they did it with compensations which nowadays would be considered as laughable. Jorma Ollila at the height of Nokia’s success earned 2300 times (salary + options) an average Nokia’s worker’s (in Finland) salary. It is rather normal that the bosses of listed companies in this option age now earn several hundreds times the salary of an average worker in form of salary and other compensations. But are the present days bosses tens of times better than the bosses of before the option age? Surely not. The “earlier” bosses lead the creation and building of companies in economical and technological circumstances of which the present option bosses can’t even imagine. The option bosses came to a ready table.

The claim the bosses of major companies are some kind of super geniuses and performers is amusing. I know personally many bosses of the modern time and of the past decades. 99 percent of them are/were normal average mortals and their only abnormal feature is overdeveloped self-confidence and lack of healthy modesty and self-critics. In Finland the boss of a technological super genius like Edison would earn 100 times that genius’ salary even the boss’ skills are extremely medium and the genius is such a person a small country has one in hundred years. A funny detail of Nokia’s history. The bosses believed in telephone centres the future is in analog technology and denied the development of digital centres. The engineers continued the development of digital technology in secret. Quiz: Who did get the ten of times higher salary and “all decorations”?

As Eshani2 knows in the financial industry the high profits compared to others in the industry means simply taking extraordinary big risks. In basic banking, lending money, big profits means simply finding customers who are willing (= forced) to pay high interests. The customers are those who other banks consider as to risky. When the maturities of loans are long (often tens of years) it can take even decades before the deliberately provoked profit boost explodes in the eyes of the banks owners. Before that the bank managers have pocketed the bonuses and retired. And when a catastrophe, like in Island now or in Finland in the 90’s etc happens the bank managers blame everybody else besides themselves (= reckless lending) for the catastrophe. This tight link between high profit level and risk is reality in all fields of the financial industry.

In Finland where a private person basically can’t escape debts through personal bankruptcy the most profitable business besides selling drugs is giving “instant loans” via telephone in style loan 100 € and pay back 125 Euro after two weeks. The Effective Annual Interest Rate (EAR) of these payday loans climb up over to over thousands of percent. Many old financial criminals have found out that establishing such loans providing “minibanks” is easy and extremely profitable. Tens of thousands mainly young adults are now in debts up their ears and have lost their credit ratings. The “funny” thing is that the governmental system can do very little to stop this “healthy” form of free capitalism and entrepreneurship through new laws and regulations, because it would inevitably have consequences in the profit making capacity of the whole financial sector. And that is something the “circles” do not want to happen. Let us remember that the most profitable innovation in the financial sector has been selling loans to poor people and countries. They have mostly no other option than to pay what is demanded.

Well once again I must express my suspicion (as an former economist) of the benefits of the free rather uncontrolled market economy and low governmental contribution.

The Nordic countries like my home country Finland developed the most advanced and successful economies under rules which totally contradict the “free trade” school’s teachings. High progressive taxes, free education, massive social distribution of wealth, large public sector owned industrial sector etc. Actually everything that is now by these economists seen as hindering the growth. The result society was a relative equal society which lacked both the ultra rich and the poor. The Russian tycoons and upper class buy apartments and villas in Finland to get a safehaven in a “social democratic” country where you can still walk around without bodyguards and have not live in a fortified castle. Strange isn’t it, considering that Russia is basically the dream country of the free trade school. Low or no taxes and little governmental intrusion.

Surely a fast comparison between West European countries and Russia, Arab countries etc reveals that the receipt to growth, prosperity and a peaceful, equal society is more complex than low taxes, minimum laws, enormous salaries to bosses and a ultra greedy financial sector. The country needs good governance, planing, discipline and the general trust that growth will benefit all to develop. The problem isn’t to create a small ultrarich elite, the problem is to create a large buying power having public. And that is possible only to a reasonable distribution of wealth. USA and West European countries created their wealth behind closed borders, using numerous methods to regulate the markets and many of them also large industries owned by the public sector. The notion that free markets and low taxes have created the wealth of USA and Europe is complete fiction.

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October 22nd, 2010, 7:52 am

 

EHSANI2 said:

SimoHurtta,

“It is not from the benevolence of the butcher, the brewer, or the baker that we expect our dinner, but from their regard to their own interest.”

The above quote is by Adam Smith of course.

Have you run a business? Have you had to hire employees, pay rent and generate a profit that allowed you to grow, invest and hire more people?

Building a business is not easy. Humans are not known to get into business as a form of charity. They do so “from regard to their own interest”. The number of utopian dreamers on this forum is striking.

When you tax a business 60%, where are the retained earnings that are needed to reinvest and hire going to come from? When you tax innovation, hard work or risk taking, why and how would the economy grow and prosper. Economic growth does not just happen. Investments do not grow when you target the very people who commit capital and take risk. Smart policy making is to offer the private sector every incentive to grow. Stop mixing humanity and altruism with business and economics.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Creative_destruction

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October 22nd, 2010, 10:38 am

 

Jad said:

SimoHurta,
Very smart comment, you summarized what every country, Syria first, needs to get a healthy future:
“Good governance,
Planing,
Discipline
The general trust.”
Thank you

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October 22nd, 2010, 10:51 am

 

EHSANI2 said:

Abu Fares,

You are asking the private sector to be socially responsible. What does this mean? I would love to hear concrete examples of such. Do you want them to make a profit but not too much of it? Are you asking that after reaching a certain threshold, they distribute the extra to charity? Please remember that government and public policy is the domain where taxation, fairness, incentives and growth is decided. Self-interest is how humans are programmed to operate. Socialism and communism have failed because they fought the principal quote of Adam Smith (Moral Philosopher and not an economist) above. Capitalism works because it is driven by one principal: profit. But profit must not come from breaking the law, obtaining a monopoly or teaming up with a government official. If such happens (perhaps the trigger of your frustration), it is not the fault of the private sector. It is the fault of regulators, public policy or a corrupt system. Profit should only be earned by taking risk, innovating, producing a good or service more efficiently, promoting it to a wider market, doing things better, faster and smarter than before. Microsoft has created thousands of millionaires out of individuals whose qualification is not inherited wealth or social connections, but only the ability to create and sell computer programs.

Crony capitalism is in fact a hallmark of state-run economies.

“When politicians and bureaucrats hold power over the economy, the only hope for success comes from currying their favor. Thus the competition for wealth becomes a competition, not over who can produce the most, but over who can make the most bribes or call in the most favors. It is under these systems that established wealth, family connections, and the “Old Boy’s Network” become the determinants of success, rather than individual ability. But that is a problem created and perpetuated by statism, not capitalism.”

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October 22nd, 2010, 11:10 am

 

Majhool said:

SimoHurta,

Totally agree with you. My neighbor is a CEO and a Co-founder of an engineering startup. He is Cornell graduates with an MBA. He is a top performer.

He makes close to 300K a year, which is no where near what a successful banker make. In contrast the bankers who have been obsessed with speculation, this entrepreneur employs 100 people build new products and help employ others at his suppliers.

Bankers high income has to do with risk (usually not to them selves but to others). Good government and sound planning suggest that policy should support entrepreneurs and discourage speculation in banking.

While effective taxing is important, i believe that government regulation and incentives should be directed to promote growth, cap risk, income equality, etc..

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October 22nd, 2010, 11:13 am

 

MONTAGNARD said:

To EIU and Elie:

Estimated total oil production in Syria for 2009 was 368,000 bbl/day.
Estimated total oil liquids production (includes oil and equivalent gas)for 2009 was 400,000 bbl/day.
Estimated total refining capacity (Homs and Banias refineries) for 2009 was 240,000 bbl/day.
Estimated net export for 2009 was 148,000 bbl/day (Marketed by Sytrol at $82.00/bbl average).
Assuming that all refined capacity was for local consumption, which is sold in Syria at strictly regulated prices, with costs borne by several public entities involved in the production, transport, refining and distribution of petroleum products with profits shared by them and entered as revenue in the general fund.
How would the above fit in your financial analysis?

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October 22nd, 2010, 11:20 am

 

qunfuz said:

having just read George Antonius’s excellent “The Arab Awakening” and Eugene Rogan’s pretty good “The Arabs” I would say that the key reason for revolutionary redistributionist policies in the sixties was popular disgust with the old business/ pasha class following the unexpected loss of Palestine and the disappointing solidification of Sykes-Picot boundaries in the forties and fifties. The discrediting of the old ruling class gave free rein to the new national armies to step in. The new national armies were disproportionately staffed by formerly downtrodden rural classes. Revolutions (or coups, really) in Arab countries were more nationalist than economic in motivation (although let us not forget the role of the CIA in the Arab world’s first military coup – that of Husni al-Za’im – and in several afterwards).

The strange thing in Syria (any explanations?) is that after decades of supposed class warfare, the country seems to have as fierce a class system (and a bourgeois sense of superiority) as any I know. (I’m excepting the Gulf, with its imported working class).

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October 22nd, 2010, 2:19 pm

 

SimoHurtta said:

Have you run a business? Have you had to hire employees, pay rent and generate a profit that allowed you to grow, invest and hire more people?

Yes to all of those questions. From a one man’s company up to 15 employees with any bank loans and outside investors. Before selling away the company I earned about 4 times the salary of the least educated persons salary. In my field I could describe my skills as rather rare and my working style as “productive”. Before that entrepreneur phase I worked in a specialized development bank.

Sure I understand that taxes are a “nuisance” but I also understand they are a “blessing”. High taxes have provided me as an individual free education, relative good and affordable healthcare besides a good, safe neighbourhood and security. As an entrepreneur relative high taxes ensured that I could get well educated personnel, corruption free (almost) services from the society, low criminality, good infrastructure (airports, harbours,streets, electricity etc) ETC. I as most other Finns understand that the benefits our society offers have a price. The price in a democracy are taxes (a share of the tax “cost” could be saved in theory with totalitarian discipline).

I have never understood those right-wing economists who advocate extra low taxes and minimum level wages on the same time when they demand extra good services from the society and loyalty from the workers. That tax demand is basically as realistic as demanding to have the right to live in a five star hotel without paying. If the theories of low/no taxes and no governmental meddling would be a scientific fact and proven in history, then the world’s leading economies would be in Africa and central Eurasia. A scientific fact is obviously that already a highly developed industrial society can for some time boost its economical growth by lowering taxes and reducing bureaucracy. The Syrian and Middle Eastern problem is that they must achieve the development level before the “free-trade” medicines are a reality. Believing that the private sector will build to Syria a first class infrastructure, offer the public affordable education, healthcare and “create” a corruption free public sector is naive. Not a single underdeveloped country has ever made such development leap. A “sad” fact is that much tax money is needed to build the foundations of a developed country. When the “building” is ready they can for short periods “play” with tax levels and privatization.

Stop mixing humanity and altruism with business and economics.

Well very few companies are successful on a long term if they do not respect their (human) workers and customers. You seem to believe that only ultimate greediness, egoism and lack of general moral are the cornerstones of business and economics. Humans run the business and economics so you can’t separate humanity and altruism from the reality of business. You can do it in some fields of economics but the result is a theory without any analogy in the reality.

By the way Eshani2 do you know who was Anders Chydenius? He was a Finn and published 11 years before Adam Smith a pamphlet “The National Gain” where he suggested the same ideas Smith did. 🙂
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anders_Chydenius

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October 22nd, 2010, 2:56 pm

 

EHSANI2 said:

Simohutra,

You are twisting my words I believe. I was the one who called for taxing the wealthy. I was the one that asked for money to be spent on education. The money need not come from taking taxes to 60%. The money can and should come from cutting wasteful government projects.

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October 22nd, 2010, 4:37 pm

 

EHSANI2 said:

Abu Fares,

Many more agree with you

http://www.reuters.com/article/idUSTRE69L0KI20101022

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October 22nd, 2010, 6:44 pm

 

Norman said:

Qunfuz,

Nationalism was part of the revolution but equality was as important ,
You Said , (( The strange thing in Syria (any explanations?) is that after decades of supposed class warfare, the country seems to have as fierce a class system (and a bourgeois sense of superiority) as any I know. (I’m excepting the Gulf, with its imported working class).)),

The reason as i see is the tribal mentality that still present is Syria and the rest of the Arab world , where the family that one belongs to is more important than the achievements that he made ,

The lack of personal achievements makes people be proud of their families , that is the same reason that women are murdered to protect the family honor , they still think that what one member of the family does reflect on all others in the family , the lack of personal accountability in TV shows and the persistent referral to people as they are from good families or not instead of what they do or did ,makes the change to individualism hard to achieve ,

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October 22nd, 2010, 9:14 pm

 

Lily said:

Hello there, I think Syria is the best country in the world and we should be proud to be from Syria. ;] I am 1000000 years old.

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October 22nd, 2010, 9:17 pm

 

Lily said:

I think that Syria is the best country in the world. We should honor the fact that we are from there. I am Norman’s daughter and I am 100000 years old [;

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October 22nd, 2010, 9:20 pm

 

Norman said:

Alex , can you please release my daughter’s note , she is here and will not leave me alone until she gets a reply .

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October 22nd, 2010, 9:35 pm

 

Siria: cresce l’economia ma anche il divario nella ricchezza | Indipedia – Indipendenti nella rete said:

[…] sua risposta al post, Abu Fares fa riferimento a una storia vissuta personalmente che fa parte della sua esperienza di vita nel settore privato: […]

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October 23rd, 2010, 7:48 am

 

Ghat Al Bird said:

Cheers and “bravisimo” LILY.

Very refreshing to read such comment and puts to shame some of the negative and critical comments made by individuals who live in England, Europe and elsewhere.

Dad should be proud.

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October 23rd, 2010, 8:47 am

 

Norman said:

Ghat,

Thank you from me and her ,

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October 23rd, 2010, 9:44 pm

 

Alex said:

Ahlain Lily : )

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October 24th, 2010, 9:24 am

 

Alex said:

‎”the bishops also told Israel it shouldn’t use the Bible to justify “injustices” against the Palestinians.”

Glad they finally spoke against the crooks (Israel’s friends in the US) who found in the old testament (“the bible”) all the (conveniently interpreted) arguments they need to convince millions of Americans to passionately support Israel’s racism and its theft of Palestinian and Syrian lands.

Catholic Bishops Demand Israel End Occupation Of Palestinian Land

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2010/10/23/vatican-meeting-demands-i_n_772913.html

VATICAN CITY — Bishops from the Middle East who were summoned to Rome by the pope demanded Saturday that Israel accept U.N. resolutions calling for an end to its “occupation” of Arab lands.

In a final joint communique, the bishops also told Israel it shouldn’t use the Bible to justify “injustices” against the Palestinians.

The bishops issued the statement at the close of their two-week meeting, called by Pope Benedict XVI to discuss the plight of Christians in the Middle East amid a major exodus of the faithful from the birthplace of Christianity.

The Catholic Church has long been a minority in the largely Muslim region but its presence is shrinking further as a result of war, conflict, discrimination and economic problems.

During the meeting, several bishops blamed the Israeli-Palestinian conflict for spurring the flight – a position echoed in their final paper. While the bishops condemned terrorism and anti-Semitism, they laid much of the blame for the conflict squarely on Israel.

They listed the “occupation” of Palestinian lands, Israel’s separation barrier with the West Bank, its military checkpoints, political prisoners, demolition of homes and disturbance of Palestinians’ socio-economic lives as factors that have made life increasingly difficult for Palestinians.

They said they had “reflected” on the suffering and insecurity in which Israelis live and on the status of Jerusalem, a city holy to Christians, Jews and Muslims.

“We are anxious about the unilateral initiatives that threaten its composition and risk to change its [Jerusalem] demographic balance,” they said.

They called on the international community to apply U.N. Security Council resolutions adopted in 1967, which called on Israel to withdraw from Arab land conquered in the Six-Day War that year.

“The Palestinian people will thus have an independent and sovereign homeland where they can live with dignity and security,” they said, while Israel will be able to enjoy peace and security.

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October 24th, 2010, 9:30 am

 

Siria: cresce l’economia ma anche il divario nella ricchezza said:

[…] sua risposta al post, Abu Fares fa riferimento a una storia vissuta personalmente che fa parte della sua esperienza di vita nel settore privato: […]

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October 24th, 2010, 9:31 am

 

Ghat Al Bird said:

This reads like a step by step outline for the Palestinian side.

The Palestinians’ Ploy
Paul R. Pillar | 10.21.10

Whatever is your opinion about the issues that divide Israelis and Palestinians, you have to give the Palestinians credit for having hit upon a clever idea to inject into the current impasse.

That idea, currently a subject of discussion among Palestinian leaders in the West Bank, is to appeal to international bodies for some kind of affirmation of Palestine as a state on land Israel conquered in the 1967 war.

The reactions to this idea, even though it is still just a proposal (apart from an argument already being made to the International Court of Justice that the Palestinian Authority has enough of the attributes of a state to have standing to bring cases before the court), show that the Palestinians have hit a weak spot, or at least a sore one.

Any such affirmation would not bring the Palestinians materially closer to real statehood. The goal of Palestinian statehood has repeatedly been affirmed and supported internationally, and has even been accepted—reluctantly—by the current Israeli government as supposedly an objective of U.S.-sponsored negotiations. So another affirmation almost seems superfluous.

And an affirmation would not bring the Palestinians one inch closer to an actual sovereign state on the ground, where the determinative factor is continued Israeli military control of the West Bank supplemented by the daily creation of still more facts on the ground in the form of expanded Israeli settlements.

And yet, defenders of Israeli policy have responded to the Palestinian idea with apparent alarm. In the United States, the defenders have been cranking up their political steamroller in particularly blatant fashion, charging President Obama with being anti-Israel (see Tom Friedman’s recent take on how nonsensical that charge is) and daring him to stand up to the steamroller on this issue.

Charges of “delegitimization” of Israel, which during recent months have been thrown liberally and indiscriminately at any criticism of Israeli policy, are getting flung in increasingly ridiculous fashion. The principal goal of all of this fuming and flinging is a U.S. veto should the matter come before the United Nations Security Council.

The reaction to the statehood affirmation idea has been so vehement because the idea hits at not just one but several vulnerabilities in the Israeli posture. Israeli opposition to such an affirmation would call into further question whether the Israelis, and specifically Prime Minister Netanyahu, are sincere or not in ostensibly accepting the concept of a Palestinian state.

Any forum for a fresh international declaration on the subject would demonstrate anew the almost total absence of support for Israel’s expansion of settlements. Most important, an affirmation would demonstrate clearly that the security and legitimacy of Israel is a separate and very different thing from the issue of settlements and occupied territory, despite the strenuous efforts of Israel and the defenders of Israel policy to blur the two.

Far from being part of a “delegitimization campaign against Israel,” as Abraham Foxman charges, an affirmation of Palestinian statehood within 1967 boundaries would implicitly and necessarily reaffirm Israel’s legitimacy and right to exist on the other side of those boundaries. John Bolton tries clumsily to blur the issues again when he says in one sentence that a Security Council resolution mentioning 1967 lines as state borders would “call into question even Israel’s legitimacy”—which it demonstrably would not—and then shifts the subject in the next sentence in stating that such a resolution would “delegitimize both Israel’s authority and settlements beyond the 1967 lines.”

The legitimacy of the settlements is very much an issue here, although an international resolution would not delegitimize them so much as it would recognize that they never were legitimate in the first place.

If a U.S. veto of such a Security Council resolution led the Palestinians to turn to the General Assembly, there would be, as Ethan Bronner points out in his article on the subject in the New York Times, a “dark or poetic” symmetry. It was another General Assembly resolution –the one in 1947 that partitioned Palestine between a Jewish state and an Arab state—that Israel has long regarded as the source of its international legitimacy.

One more thing about that earlier resolution: the U.N. partition plan allotted 56 percent of Palestine to the Jewish state and 43 percent to the Arab one. Jewish military success in the subsequent war meant that the new Jewish state wound up with 78 percent of the land and the Arabs with only 22 percent. Palestinian leaders—even when they included Yasser Arafat—long ago gave up trying to claw back the lost 21 percent, even though Israel gained it only on the battlefield and not in any legitimizing international diplomatic forum.

That background may help to explain why the current Palestinian leadership is as reluctant as it is to bow once again to superior Israeli power and to let Israeli seizure of land determine the fate of the 22 percent that is left.

If the Palestinians decide to act on their clever idea, the matter ought never to make it to the General Assembly. In the Security Council the proper U.S. vote would be an abstention, denoting an intention to be an honest broker between two peoples who have fought so long over the same land.

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October 24th, 2010, 11:12 am

 

Akbar Palace said:

They called on the international community to apply U.N. Security Council resolutions adopted in 1967, which called on Israel to withdraw from Arab land conquered in the Six-Day War that year.

“The Palestinian people will thus have an independent and sovereign homeland where they can live with dignity and security,” they said, while Israel will be able to enjoy peace and security.

Alex,

Obviously, “they” don’t know what they are talking about.

“U.N. Security Council resolutions adopted in 1967” do not require “Israel to withdraw from Arab land conquered in the Six-Day War”. Further UNSC resolutions include:

Termination of all claims or states of belligerency and respect for and acknowledgment of the sovereignty, territorial integrity and political independence of every State in the area and their right to live in peace within secure and recognized boundaries free from threats or acts of force.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_Nations_Security_Council_Resolution_242

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October 24th, 2010, 11:26 am

 

Norman said:

More investments in Syria , Alex , Lily said , thank you ,

-Futtaim conglomerate plans tenders for Syria project
Tweet This Share on LinkedIn Share on Facebook Sun Oct 24, 2010 10:30am EDT

DAMASCUS Oct 21 (Reuters) – Gulf conglomerate Majid Al-Futtaim Group expects to tender $1 billion worth of construction contracts for a real estate project in Syria by February next year, the head of its property division said on Thursday.

Several contractors are likely to be awarded separately different parts of the project on a 1 million square metre piece of land in Yaafour west of Damascus, Peter Walichnowski told Reuters.

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October 24th, 2010, 11:51 am

 

majedkhaldoon said:

A.P. said
“U.N. Security Council resolutions adopted in 1967″ do not require “Israel to withdraw from Arab land conquered in the Six-Day War:
UN security resolution 242 says
(i) Withdrawal of Israel armed forces from territories occupied in the recent conflict;
the word;occupied in recent conflict,define those territories,so it means Israel to withdraw from Arab land conquered in the Six-Day War is required,
Israel blur and confuse the resolution.

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October 24th, 2010, 12:57 pm

 

Alex said:

Akbar,

I’m happy you are at least starting to look at what is inside those UNSC resolutions.

Start here please, and come back to tell the Bishops that they don’t know what they are talking about:

http://www.foreignpolicyjournal.com/2010/01/27/rogue-state-israeli-violations-of-u-n-security-council-resolutions/

Rogue State: Israeli Violations of U.N. Security Council Resolutions
by Jeremy R. Hammond
January 27, 2010

Following is a list of United Nations Security Council resolutions directly critical of Israel for violations of U.N. Security Council resolutions, the U.N. Charter, the Geneva Conventions, international terrorism, or other violations of international law.

Res. 57 (Sep. 18, 1948) – Expresses deep shock at the assassination of the U.N. Mediator in Palestine, Count Folke Bernadotte, by Zionist terrorists.

Res. 89 (Nov. 17, 1950) – Requests that attention be given to the expulsion of “thousands of Palestine Arabs” and calls upon concerned governments to take no further action “involving the transfer of persons across international frontiers or armistice lines”, and notes that Israel announced that it would withdraw to the armistice lines.

Res. 93 (May 18, 1951) – Finds that Israeli airstrikes on Syria on April 5, 1951 constitutes “a violation of the cease-fire”, and decides that Arab civilians expelled from the demilitarized zone by Israel should be allowed to return.

Res. 100 (Oct. 27, 1953) – Notes that Israel had said it would stop work it started in the demilitarized zone on September 2, 1953.

Res. 101 (Nov. 24, 1953) – Finds Israel’s attack on Qibya, Jordan on October 14-15, 1953 to be a violation of the cease-fire and “Expresses the strongest censure of that action”.

Res. 106 (Mar. 29, 1955) – Condemns Israel’s attack on Egyptian forces in the Gaza Strip on February 28, 1955.

Res. 111 (Jan. 19, 1956) – Condemns Israel’s attack on Syria on December 11, 1955 as “a flagrant violation of the cease-fire” and armistice agreement.

Res. 119 (Oct. 31, 1956) – Considers that “a grave situation has been created” by the attack against Egypt by the forces of Britain, France, and Israel.

Res. 171 (Apr. 9, 1962) – Reaffirms resolution 111 and determines that Israel’s attack on Syria on March 16-17, 1962 “constitutes a flagrant violation of that resolution”.

Res. 228 (Nov. 25, 1966) – “Deplores the loss of life and heavy damage to property resulting from the action” by Israel in the southern Hebron area on November 13, 1966, and “Censures Israel for this large-scale military action in violation of the United Nations Charter” and the armistice agreement between Israel and Jordan.

Res. 237 (Jun. 14, 1967) – Calls on Israel “to ensure the safety, welfare and security of the inhabitants where military operations have taken place” during the war launched by Israel on June 5, 1967 “and to facilitate the return of those inhabitants who have fled the areas since the outbreak of hostilities”.

Res. 242 (Nov. 22, 1967) – Emphasizes “the inadmissibility of the acquisition of territory by war”, emphasizes that member states have a commitment to abide by the U.N. Charter, and calls for the “Withdrawal of Israeli armed forces from territories occupied” during the June 1967 war.

Res. 248 (Mar. 24, 1968) – Observes that the Israeli attack on Jordan “was of a large-scale and carefully planned nature”, “Deplores the loss of life and heavy damage to property”, “Condemns the military action launched by Israel in flagrant violation of the United Nations Charter and the cease-fire resolutions”, and “Calls upon Israel to desist from” further violations of resolution 237.

Res. 250 (Apr. 27, 1968) – Considers “that the holding of a military parade in Jerusalem will aggravate tensions in the area and have an adverse effect on a peaceful settlement of the problems in the area” and “Calls upon Israel to refrain from holding the military parade in Jerusalem which is contemplated” for May 2, 1968.

Res. 251 (May 2, 1968) – Recalls resolution 250 and “Deeply deplores the holding by Israel of the military parade in Jerusalem” on May 2, 1968 “in disregard of” resolution 250.

Res. 252 (May 21, 1968) – “Deplores the failure of Israel to comply with” General Assembly resolutions 2253 and 2254, considers Israel’s annexation of Jerusalem “invalid”, and calls upon Israel “to rescind all such measures already taken and to desist forthwith from taking any further action which tends to change the status of Jerusalem”.

Res. 256 (Aug. 16, 1968) – Recalls Israel’s “flagrant violation of the United Nations Charter” condemned in resolution 248, observes that further Israeli air attacks on Jordan “were of a large scale and carefully planned nature in violation of resolution 248”, “Deplores the loss of life and heavy damage to property”, and condemns Israel’s attacks.

Res. 259 (Sep. 27, 1968) – Expresses concern for “the safety, welfare and security” of the Palestinians “under military occupation by Israel”, deplores “the delay in the implementation of resolution 237 (1967) because of the conditions still being set by Israel for receiving a Special Representative of the Secretary-General”, and requests Israel to receive the Special Representative and facilitate his work.

Res. 262 (Dec. 31, 1968) – Observes “that the military action by the armed forces of Israel against the civil International Airport of Beirut was premeditated and of a large scale and carefully planned nature”, and condemns Israel for the attack.

Res.265 (Apr. 1, 1969) – Expresses “deep concern that the recent attacks on Jordanian villages and other populated areas were of a pre-planned nature, in violation of resolutions” 248 and 256, “Deplores the loss of civilian life and damage to property”, and “Condemns the recent premeditated air attacks launched by Israel on Jordanianvillages and populated areas in flagrant violation of the United Nations Charter and the cease-fire resolutions”.

Res. 267 (Jul. 3, 1969) – Recalls resolution 252 and General Assembly resolutions 2253 and 2254, notes that “since the adoption of the above-mentioned resolutions Israel has taken further measures tending to change the status of the City of Jerusalem”, reaffirms “the established principle thatacquisition of territory by military conquest is inadmissible”, “Deplores the failure of Israel to show any regard for the resolutions”, “Censures in the strongest terms all measures taken to change the status of the City of Jerusalem”, “Confirms that all legislative and administrative measures and actions taken by Israel which purport to alter the status of Jerusalem, including expropriation of land and properties thereon, are invalid and cannot change that status”, and urgently calls on Israel to rescind the measures taken to annex Jerusalem.

Res. 270 (Aug. 26, 1969) – “Condemns the premeditated air attack by Israel on villages in southern Lebanon in violation of its obligations under the Charter and Security Council resolutions”.

Res. 271 (Sep. 15, 1969) – Expresses grief “at the extensive damage caused by arson to the Holy Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem” on August 21, 1969 “under the military occupation of Israel”, reaffirms “the established principle thatacquisition of territory by military conquest is inadmissible”, “Determines that the execrable act of desecration and profanation of the Holy Al-Aqsa Mosque emphasizes the immediate necessity of Israel’s desisting from acting in violation” previous resolutions and rescinding measures to annex Jerusalem, calls on Israel “to observe the provisions of the Geneva Conventions and international law governing military occupation”, and condemns Israel’s failure to comply with previous resolutions.

Res. 279 (May 12, 1970) – “Demands the immediate withdrawal of all Israeli armed forces from Lebanese territory.”

Res. 280 (May 19, 1970) – Expresses conviction that “that the Israeli military attack against Lebanon was premeditated and of a large scale and carefully planned in nature”, recalls resolution 279 “demanding the immediate withdrawal of all Israeli armed forces from Lebanese territory”, deplores Israel’s violation of resolutions 262 and 270, “Condemns Israel for its premeditated military action in violation of its obligations under the Charter of the United Nations”, and “Deplores the loss of life and damage to property inflicted as a result” of Israeli violations of Security Council resolutions.

Res. 285 (Sep. 5, 1970) – “Demands the complete and immediate withdrawal of all Israeli armed forces from Lebanese territory.”

Res. 298 (Sep. 25, 1971) – Recalls resolutions 252 and 267 and General Assembly resolutions 2253 and 2254 concerning Israel’s measures to annex Jerusalem, reaffirms “the principle that acquisition of territory by military conquest is inadmissible”, notes “the non-compliance by Israel” of the recalled resolutions, deplores Israel’s failure to respect the resolutions, confirms that Israel’s actions “are totally invalid”, and urgently calls on Israel to rescind its measures and take “no further steps in the occupied section of Jerusalem” to change the status of the city.

Res. 313 (Feb. 28, 1972) – “Demands that Israel immediately desist and refrain from any ground and air military action against Lebanon and forthwith withdraw all its military forces from Lebanese territory.”

Res. 316 (Jun. 26, 1972) – Deplores “the tragic loss of life resulting from all acts of violence”, expresses grave concern “at Israel’s failure to comply with Security Council resolutions” 262, 270, 280, 285, and 313 “calling on Israel to desist forthwith from any violation of the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Lebanon”, calls on Israel to abide by the resolutions, and condemns “the repeated attacks of Israeli forces on Lebanese territory and population in violation of the principles of the Charter of the United Nations and Israel’s obligations thereunder”.

Res. 317 (Jul. 21, 1972) – Notes resolution 316, deplores the fact that Israel had not yet released “Syrian and Lebanese military and security personnel abducted by Israeli armed forces from Lebanese territory” on June 21, 1972, and calls on Israel to release the prisoners.

Res. 332 (Apr. 21, 1972) – “Condemns the repeated military attacks conducted by Israel against Lebanon and Israel’s violation of Lebanon’s territorial integrity and sovereignty” in violation of the U.N. Charter, the armistice agreement, and cease-fire resolutions.

Res. 337 (Aug. 15, 1972) – Notes “the violation of Lebanon’s sovereignty and territorial integrity” by Israel “and the hijacking, by the Israeli air force, of a Lebanese civilian airliner on lease to Iraqi Airways”, expresses grave concern “that such an act carried out by Israel, a Member of the United Nations, constitutes a serious interference with international civil aviation and a violation of the Charter of the United Nations”, recognizes “that such an act could jeopardize the lives and safety of passengers and crew and violates the provisions of international conventions safeguarding civil aviation”, condemns Israel “for violating Lebanon’s sovereignty and territorial integrity and for the forcible diversion and seizure by the Israeli air force of a Lebanese airliner from Lebanon’s air space”, and considers that Israel’s actions constitute a violation of the armistice agreement, cease-fire resolutions, the U.N. Charter, “the international conventions on civil aviation and the principles of international law and morality”.

Res. 347 (Apr. 24, 1974) – “Condemns Israel’s violation of Lebanon’s territorial integrity and sovereignty and calls once more on the Government of Israel to refrain from further military actions and threats against Lebanon”, and calls on Israel “to release and return to Lebanon the abducted Lebanese civilians”.

Res. 425 (Mar. 19, 1978) – “Calls for strict respect for the territorial integrity, sovereignty and political independence of Lebanon within its internationally recognized boundaries”, and “Calls upon Israel immediately to cease its military action against Lebanese territorial integrity and withdraw forthwith its forces from all Lebanese territory”.

Res. 427 (May 3, 1978) – “Calls upon Israel to complete its withdrawal from all Lebanese territory without any further delay”.

Res. 446 (Mar. 22, 1979) – Affirms “once more that the Fourth Geneva Convention … is applicable to the Arab territories occupied by Israel since 1967, including Jerusalem”, “Determines that the policy and practices of Israel in establishing settlements in the Palestinian and other Arab territories occupied since 1967 have no legal validity and constitute a serious obstruction to achieving a comprehensive, just and lasting peace in the Middle East”, “Strongly deplores the failure of Israel to abide by” resolutions 237, 252, and 298, and General Assembly resolutions 2253 and 2254, and calls on Israel “as the occupying Power” to abide by the Fourth Geneva Convention, to “rescind its previous measures and to desist from any action which would result in changing the legal status and geographical nature and materially affecting the demographic composition of the Arab territories occupied since 1967, including Jerusalem, and, in particular, not to transfer parts of its own civilian population into the occupied Arab territories”.

Res. 450 (Jun. 14, 1979) – “Strongly deplores acts of violence against Lebanon that have led to the displacement of civilians, including Palestinians, and brought about destruction and loss of innocent lives”, and calls on Israel to cease actions against Lebanon, “in particular its incursions into Lebanon and the assistance it continues to lend to irresponsible armed groups”.

Res. 452 (Jul. 20, 1979) – Strongly deplores “the lack of co-operation of Israel” with the Security Council Commission “established under resolution 446 (1979) to examine the situation relating to settlements in the Arab territories occupied since 1967, including Jerusalem”, considers “that the policy of Israel in establishing settlements in the occupied Arab territories has no legal validity and constitutes a violation of the Fourth Geneva Convention”, expresses deep concern at Israel’s policy of constructing settlements “in the occupied Arab territories, including Jerusalem, and its consequences for the local Arab and Palestinian population”, and calls on Israel to cease such activities.

Res. 465 (Mar. 1, 1980) – Strongly deplores Israel’s refusal to co-operate with the Security Council Commission, regrets Israel’s “formal rejection of” resolutions 446 and 452, deplores Israel’s decision “to officially support Israeli settlement” in the occupied territories, expresses deep concern over Israel’s settlement policy “and its consequences for the local Arab and Palestinian population”, “Strongly deplores the decision of Israel to prohibit the free travel” of the mayor of Hebron “to appear before the Security Council”, and “Determines that all measures taken by Israel to change the physical character, demographic composition, institutional structure or status of the Palestinian and other Arab territories occupied since 1967, including Jerusalem, or any part thereof, have no legal validity and that Israel’s policy and practices of settling parts of its population and new immigrants in those territories constitute a flagrant violation of the Fourth Geneva Convention”.

Res. 467 (Apr. 24, 1980) – “Condemns all actions contrary to” resolutions 425, 426, 427, 434, 444, 450, and 459 “and, in particular, strongly deplores” any “violation of Lebanese sovereignty and territorial integrity” and “Israel’s military intervention into Lebanon”.

Res. 468 (May 8, 1980) – Expresses deep concern “at the expulsion by the Israeli military occupation authorities of the Mayors of Hebron and Halhoul and the Sharia Judge of Hebron” and “Calls upon the Government of Israel as occupying Power to rescind these illegal measures and facilitate the immediate return of the expelled Palestinian leaders so that they can resume the functions for which they were elected and appointed”.

Res. 469 (May 20, 1980) – Recalls the Fourth Geneva Convention “and in particular article 1, which reads ‘The High Contracting Parties undertake to respect and to ensure respect for the present Convention in all circumstances,’ and article 49, which reads ‘Individual or mass forcible transfers, as well as deportations of protected persons from the occupied territory to the territory of the occupying Power or to that of any other country, occupied or not, are prohibited, regardless of their motive”, “Strongly deplores the failure of the Government of Israel to implement Security Council resolution 468”, “Calls again upon the Government of Israel, as occupying Power, to rescind the illegal measures taken by the Israeli military occupation authorities in expelling the Mayors of Hebron and Halhoul and the Sharis Judge of Hebron, and to facilitate the immediate return of the expelled Palestinian leaders, so that they can resume their functions for which they were elected and appointed”.

Res. 471 (Jun. 5, 1980) – Recalls “once again” the Fourth Geneva Convention, “and in particular article 27, which reads, ‘ Protected persons are entitled, in all circumstances, to respect for their persons… They shall at all times be humanely treated, and shall be protected especially against all acts of violence or threats thereof…’”, reaffirms the applicability of the Fourth Geneva Convention “to the Arab territories occupied by Israel since 1967, including Jerusalem”, expresses deep concern “that the Jewish settlers in the occupied Arab territories are allowed to carry arms, thus enabling them to perpetrate crimes against the civilian Arab population”, “Condemns the assassination attempts against the Mayors of Nablus, Ramallah and Al Bireh and calls for the immediate apprehension and prosecution of the perpetrators of these crimes”, “Expresses deep concern that Israel, as the occupying Power, has failed to provide adequate protection to the civilian population in the occupied territories in conformity with the provisions of the Geneva Convention relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War”, calls on Israel “to provide the victims with adequate compensation for the damage suffered as a result of these crimes”, “Calls again upon the government of Israel to respect and to comply with the provisions of” the Fourth Geneva Convention and “the relevant resolutions of the Security Council”, “Calls once again upon all States not to provide Israel with any assistance to be used specifically in connexion [sic] with settlements in the occupied territories”, “Reaffirms the overriding necessity to end the prolonged occupation of Arab territories occupied by Israel since 1967, including Jerusalem”.

Res. 476 (Jun. 30, 1980) – Reaffirms that “the acquisition of territory by force is inadmissible”, deplores “the persistence of Israel, in changing the physical character, demographic composition, institutional structure and the status of the Holy City of Jerusalem”, expresses grave concern “over the legislative steps initiated in the Israeli Knesset with the aim of changing the character and status of the Holy City of Jerusalem”, reaffirms “the overriding necessity to end the prolonged occupation of Arab territories occupied by Israel since 1967, including Jerusalem”, “Strongly deplores the continued refusal of Israel, the occupying Power, to comply with the relevant resolutions of the Security Council and the General Assembly”, “Reconfirms that all legislative and administrative measures and actions taken by Israel, the occupying Power, which purport to later the character and status of the Holy City of Jerusalem have no legal validity and constitute a flagrant violation of the Fourth Geneva Convention”, “Reiterates that all such measures … are null and void and must be rescinded in compliance with the relevant resolutions of the Security Council”, and “Urgently calls on Israel, the occupying Power, to abide by this and previous Security Council resolutions and to desist forthwith from persisting in the policy and measures affecting the character and status of the Holy city of Jerusalem”.

Res. 478 (Aug. 20, 1980) – Reaffirms “again that the acquisition of territory by force is inadmissible”, notes “that Israel has not complied with resolution 476”, “Censures in the strongest terms the enactment by Israel of the ‘basic law’ on Jerusalem and the refusal to comply with relevant Security Council resolutions”, “Affirms that the enactment of the ‘basic law’ by Israel constitutes a violation of international law”, “Determines that all legislative and administrative measures and actions taken by Israel, the occupying Power, which have altered or purport to alter the character and status of the Holy City of Jerusalem, and in particular the recent ‘basic law’ on Jerusalem, are null and void and must be rescinded forthwith”.

Res. 484 (Dec. 19, 1980) – Expresses “grave concern at the expulsion by Israel of the Mayor of Hebron and the Mayor of Halhoul”, “Reaffirms the applicability of” the Fourth Geneva Convention “to all the Arab territories occupied by Israel in 1967”, “Calls upon Israel, the occupying Power, to adhere to the provisions of the Convention”, and “Declares it imperative that the Mayor of Hebron and the Mayor of Halhoul be enabled to return to their homes and resume their responsibilities”.

Res. 487 (Jun. 19, 1981) – Expresses full awareness “of the fact that Iraq has been a party to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons since it came into force in 1970, that in accordance with that Treaty Iraq has accepted IAEA safeguards on all its nuclear activities, and that the Agency has testified that these safeguards have been satisfactorily applied to date”, notes “furthermore that Israel has not adhered to the non-proliferation Treaty”, expresses deep concern “about the danger to international peace and security created by the premeditated Israeli air attack on Iraqi nuclear installations on 7 June 1981, which could at any time explode the situation in the area, with grave consequences for the vital interests of all States”, “Strongly condemns the military attack by Israel in clear violation of the Charter of the United Nations and the norms of international conduct”, “Further considers that the said attack constitutes a serious threat to the entire IAEA safeguards regime which is the foundation of the non-proliferation Treaty”, “Fully recognizes the inalienable sovereign right of Iraq, and all other States, especially the developing countries, to establish programmes of technological and nuclear development to develop their economy and industry for peaceful purposes in accordance with their present and future needs and consistent with the internationally accepted objectives of preventing nuclear-weapons proliferation”, and “Calls upon Israel urgently to place its nuclear facilities under IAEA safeguards”.

Res. 497 (Dec. 17, 1981) – Reaffirms “that the acquisition of territory by force is inadmissible, in accordance with the United Nations Charter, the principles of international law, and relevant Security Council resolutions”, “Decides that the Israeli decision to impose its laws, jurisdiction and administration in the occupied Syrian Golan Heights is null and void and without international legal effect”, “Demands that Israel, the occupying Power, should rescind forthwith its decision”, and “Determines that all the provisions of the” Fourth Geneva Convention “continue to apply to the Syrian territory occupied by Israel since June 1967”.

Res. 501 (Feb. 25, 1982) – Reaffirms resolution 425 calling upon Israel to cease its military action against Lebanon.

Res. 509 ( Jun. 6, 1982) – “Demands that Israel withdraw all its military forces forthwith and unconditionally to the internationally recognized boundaries of Lebanon”.

Res. 515 (Jul. 29, 1982) – “Demands that the Government of Israel lift immediately the blockade of the city of Beirut in order to permit the dispatch of supplies to meet the urgent needs of the civilian population and allow the distribution of aid provided by United Nations agencies and by non-governmental organizations, particularly the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC)”.

Res. 517 (Aug. 4, 1982) – Expresses deep shock and alarm “by the deplorable consequences of the Israeli invasion of Beirut on 3 August 1982”, “Confirms once again its demand for an immediate cease-fire and withdrawal of Israeli forces from Lebanon”, and “Censures Israel for its failure to comply with” resolutions 508, 509, 512, 513, 515, and 516.

Res. 518 (Aug. 12, 1982) – “Demands that Israel and all parties to the conflict observe strictly the terms of Security Council resolutions relevant to the immediate cessation of all military activities within Lebanon and, particularly, in and around Beirut”, “Demands the immediate lifting of all restrictions on the city of Beirut in order to permit the free entry of supplies to meet the urgent needs of the civilian population in Beirut”.

Res. 520 (Sep. 17, 1982) – “Condemns the recent Israeli incursions into Beirut in violation of the cease-fire agreements and of Security Council resolutions”, and “Demands an immediate return to the positions occupied by Israel before” September 15, 1982 “as a first step towards the full implementation of Security Council resolutions”.

Res. 521 (Sep. 19, 1982) – “Condemns the criminal massacre of Palestinian civilians in Beirut” in the Sabra and Shatila refugee camps.

Res. 573 (Oct. 4, 1985) – “Condemns vigorously the act of armed aggression perpetrated by Israel against Tunisian territory in flagrant violation of the Charter of the United Nations, international law and norms of conduct”.

Res. 592 (Dec. 8, 1986) – Reaffirms that the Fourth Geneva Convention “is applicable to the Palestinian and other Arab territories occupied by Israel since 1967, including Jerusalem”, and “Strongly deplores the opening of fire by the Israeli army resulting in the death and the wounding of defenceless students”.

Res. 605 (Dec. 22, 1987) – “Strongly deplores those policies and practices of Israel, the occupying Power, which violate the human rights of the Palestinian people in the occupied territories, and in particular the opening of fire by the Israeli army, resulting in the killing and wounding of defenceless Palestinian civilians”, and reaffirms the applicability of the Fourth Geneva Convention “to the Palestinian and other Arab territories occupied by Israel since 1967, including Jerusalem”.

Res. 607 (Jan. 5, 1988) – Expresses “grave concern over the situation in the occupied Palestinian territories”, notes “the decision of Israel, the occupying Power, to ‘continue the deportation’ of Palestinian civilians in the occupied territories”, “Reaffirms once again” the applicability of the Fourth Geneva Convention “to Palestinian and other Arab territories, occupied by Israel since 1967, including Jerusalem”, “Calls upon Israel to refrain from deporting any Palestinian civilians from the occupied territories”, and “Strongly requests Israel, the occupying Power, to abide by its obligations arising from the Convention”.

Res. 608 (Jan. 14, 1988) – Reaffirms resolution 607, expresses “deep regret that Israel, the occupying Power, has, in defiance of that resolution, deported Palestinian civilians”, and “Calls upon Israel to rescind the order to deport Palestinian civilians and to ensure the safe and immediate return to the occupied Palestinian territories of those already deported”.

Res. 611 (Apr. 25, 1988) – Notes “with concern that the aggression perpetrated” by Israelis on April 16, 1988 “in the locality of Sidi Bou Said”, Tunisia, “has caused loss of human life, particularly the assassination of Mr. Khalil El Wazir”, and “Condemns vigorously the aggression perpetrated … against the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Tunisia in flagrant violation of the Charter of the United Nations, international law and norms of conduct”.

Res. 636 (Jul. 6, 1989) – Reaffirms resolutions 607 and 608, notes “that Israel, the occupying Power, has once again, in defiance of those resolutions, deported eight Palestinian civilians on 29 June 1989”, Expresses deep regret “the continuing deportation by Israel, the occupying Power, of Palestinian civilians”, “Calls upon Israel to ensure the safe and immediate return to the occupied Palestinian territories of those deported and to desist forthwith from deporting any other Palestinian civilians”, and “Reaffirms that” the Fourth Geneva Convention “is applicable to the Palestinian territories, occupied by Israel since 1967, including Jerusalem, and to other occupied Arab territories”.

Res. 641 (Aug. 30, 1989) – Reaffirms resolutions 607, 608, and 636, notes that Israel “has once again, in defiance of those resolutions, deported five Palestinian civilians on 27 August 1989”, and “Deplores the continuing deportation by Israel, the occupying Power, of Palestinian civilians”.

Res. 672 (Oct. 12, 1990) – “Expresses alarm at the violence which took place” on October 8, 1990, “at the Al Haram al Shareef and other Holy Places of Jerusalem resulting in over twenty Palestinian deaths and to the injury of more than one hundred and fifty people, including Palestinian civilians and innocent worshippers”, “Condemns especially the acts of violence committed by the Israeli forces resulting in injuries and loss of human life”, and “Requests, in connection with the decision of the Secretary-General to send a mission to the region, which the Council welcomes, that he submit a report to it before the end of October 1990 containing his findings and conclusions and that he use as appropriate all the resources of the United Nations in the region in carrying out the mission.”

Res. 673 (Oct. 24, 1990) – “Deplores the refusal of the Israeli Government to receive the mission of the Secretary-General to the region”, and “Urges the Israeli Government to reconsider its decision and insists that it comply fully with resolution 672 (1990) and to permit the mission of the Secretary-General to proceed in keeping with its purpose”.

Res. 681 (Dec. 20, 1990) – Reaffirms “the obligations of Member States under the United Nations Charter”, reaffirms “also the principle of the inadmissibility of the acquisition of territory by war”, expresses alarm “by the decision of the Government of Israel to deport four Palestinians from the occupied territories in contravention of its obligations under the Fourth Geneva Convention” in contravention to resolutions 607, 608, 636, and 641, “Expresses its grave concern over the rejection by Israel of Security Council resolutions” 672 and 673, and “Deplores the decision by the Government of Israel, the occupying Power, to resume deportations of Palestinian civilians in the occupied territories”.

Res. 694 (May 24, 1991) – Reaffirms resolution 681 calling on Israel to respect the Fourth Geneva Convention, notes “with deep concern and consternation that Israel has, in violation of its obligations under the Fourth Geneva Convention of 1949, and acting in opposition to relevant Security Council resolutions, and to the detriment of efforts to achieve a comprehensive, just and lasting peace in the Middle East, deported four Palestinian civilians” on May 18, 1991, “Declares that the action of the Israeli authorities of deporting four Palestinians … is in violation of the Fourth Geneva Convention …, which is applicable to all the Palestinian territories occupied by Israel since 1967, including Jerusalem”, and “Deplores this action and reiterates that Israel, the occupying Power, refrain from deporting any Palestinian civilian from the occupied territories and ensure the safe and immediate return of all those deported”.

Res. 726 (Jan. 6, 1992) – Recalls resolutions 607, 608, 636, 641, and 694 calling on Israel to respect the Fourth Geneva Convention, “Strongly condemns the decision of Israel, the occupying Power, to resume deportations of Palestinian civilians”, “Reaffirms the applicability of the Fourth Geneva Convention … to all the Palestinian territories occupied by Israel since 1967, including Jerusalem”, and “requests Israel, the occupying Power, to ensure the safe and immediate return to the occupied territories of all those deported”.

Res. 799 (Dec. 18, 1992) – Reaffirms resolutions 607, 608, 636, 641, 681, 694, and 726 calling on Israel to respect the Fourth Geneva Convention, notes “with deep concern that Israel, the occupying Power, in contravention of its obligations under the Fourth Geneva Convention …, deported to Lebanon” on December 17, 1992 “hundreds of Palestinian civilians from the territories occupied by Israel since 1967, including Jersualem”, “Strongly condemns the action taken by Israel, the occupying Power, to deport hundreds of Palestinian civilians, and expresses its firm opposition to any such deportation by Israel”, “Reaffirms the applicability of the Fourth Geneva Convention … to all the Palestinian territories occupied by Israel since 1967, including Jerusalem, and affirms that deportation of civilians constitutes a contravention of its obligations under the Convention”, and “Demands that Israel, the occupying Power, ensure the safe and immediate return to the occupied territories of all those deported”.

Res. 904 (Mar. 18, 1994) – Expresses shock at “the appalling massacre committed against Palestinian worshippers in the Mosque of Ibrahim in Hebron” on February 25, 1994 by Jewish settler Baruch Goldstein “during the holy month of Ramadan”, expresses grave concern with “the consequent Palestinian casualties in the occupied Palestinian territory as a result of the massacre, which underlines the need to provide protection and security for the Palestinian people”, notes “the condemnation of this massacre by the entire international community”, “Strongly condemns the massacre in Hebron and its aftermath which took the lives of more than fifty Palestinian civilians and injured several hundred others”, and “Calls upon Israel, the occupying Power, to continue to take and implement measures, including, inter alia, confiscation of arms, with the aim of preventing illegal acts of violence by Israeli settlers”.

Res. 1073 (Sep. 28, 1996) – Expresses “deep concern about the tragic events in Jerusalem and the areas of Nablus, Ramallah, Bethlehem and the Gaza Strip, which resulted in a high number of deaths and injuries among the Palestinian civilians, and concerned also about the clashes between the Israeli army and the Palestinian police and the casualties on both sides”, and “Calls for the safety and protection for Palestinian civilians to be ensured”.

Res. 1322 (Oct. 7, 2000) – Expresses deep concern “by the tragic events that have taken place” since September 28, 2000 “that have led to numerous deaths and injuries, mostly among Palestinians”, “Deplores the provocation carried out at Al-Haram Al-Sharif in Jerusalem” on September 28, 2000 “and the subsequent violence there and at other Holy Places, as well as in other areas throughout the territories occupied by Israel since 1967, resulting in over 80 Palestinian deaths and many other casualties”, “Condemns acts of violence, especially the excessive use of force against Palestinians, resulting in injury and loss of human life”, and “Calls upon Israel, the occupying Power, to abide scrupulously by its legal obligations and its responsibilities under the Fourth Geneva Convention”.

Res. 1402 (Mar. 30, 2002) – Expresses grave concern “at the further deterioration of the situation, including the recent suicide bombings in Israel and the military attack against the headquarters of the president of the Palestinian Authority”, “Calls upon both parties to move immediately to a meaningful cease-fire” and “calls for the withdrawal of Israeli troops from Palestinian cities, including Ramallah”.

Res. 1403 (Apr. 4, 2002) – Expresses grave concern “at the further deterioration of the situation on the ground” and “Demands the implementation of its resolution 1402 (2002) without delay”.

Res. 1405 (Apr. 19, 2002) – Expresses concern for “the dire humanitarian situation of the Palestinian civilian population, in particular reports from the Jenin refugee camp of an unknown number of deaths and destruction”, calls for “the lifting of restrictions imposed, in particular in Jenin, on the operations of humanitarian organizations, including the International Committee of the Red Cross and United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East”, and “Emphasizes the urgency of access of medical and humanitarian organizations to the Palestinian civilian population”.

Res. 1435 (Sep. 24, 2002) – Expresses grave concern “at the reoccupation of the headquarters of the President of the Palestinian Authority in the City of Ramallah that took place” on September 19, 2002, demands “its immediate end”, expresses alarm “at the reoccupation of Palestinian cities as well as the severe restrictions imposed on the freedom of movement of persons and goods, and gravely concerned at the humanitarian crisis being faced by the Palestinian people”, reiterates “the need for respect in all circumstances of international humanitarian law, including the Fourth Geneva Convention relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War”, “Demands that Israel immediately cease measures in and around Ramallah including the destruction of Palestinian civilian and security infrastructure”, and “Demands also the expeditious withdrawal of the Israeli occupying forces from Palestinian cities towards the return to the positions held prior to September 2000”.

Res. 1544 (May 19, 2004) – Reaffirms resolutions 242, 338, 446, 1322, 1397, 1402, 1405, 1435, and 1515, reiterates “the obligation of Israel, the occupying Power, to abide scrupulously by its legal obligations and responsibilities under the Fourth Geneva Convention relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War”, calls “on Israel to address its security needs within the boundaries of international law”, expresses “grave concern at the continued deterioration of the situation on the ground in the territory occupied by Israel since 1967”, condemns “the killing of Palestinian civilians that took place in the Rafah area”, expresses grave concern “by the recent demolition of homes committed by Israel, the occupying Power, in the Rafah refugee camp”, reaffirms “its support for the Road Map, endorsed in resolution 1515”, “Calls on Israel to respect its obligations under international humanitarian law, and insists, in particular, on its obligation not to undertake demolition of homes contrary to that law”, and “Calls on both parties to immediately implement their obligations under the Road Map”.

Res. 1701 (Aug. 11, 2006) – Expresses “its utmost concern at the continuing escalation of hostilities in Lebanon and in Israel” that “has already caused hundreds of deaths and injuries” and “extensive damage to civilian infrastructure and hundreds of thousands of internally displaced persons”, and “Calls for a full cessation of hostilities” including “the immediate cessation by Israel of all offensive military operations”.

Res. 1860 (Jan. 8, 2009) – Expresses “grave concern at the escalation of violence and the deterioration of the situation, in particular the resulting heavy civilian casualties since the refusal to extend the period of calm”, expresses “grave concern also at the deepening humanitarian crisis in Gaza”, “calls for an immediate, durable and fully respected ceasefire, leading to the full withdrawal of Israeli forces from Gaza”, “Calls for the unimpeded provision and distribution throughout Gaza of humanitarian assistance, including of food, fuel and medical treatment”, and “Condemns all violence and hostilities directed against civilians and all acts of terrorism”.

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October 24th, 2010, 1:33 pm

 

Ghat Al Bird said:

An American born Al Queda Member threatens US/Europe..

Zionist Patsy Adam Gadahn Calls For Terror Attacks In Multiple Cities
October 24, 2010

Editors Note: Adam Gadahn, the grandson of former Anti-Defamation League
board member Carl K. Pearlman, is a complete patsy, trained by rogue
elements of the Mossad to help further the fraudulent war on terror. The ADL
was caught spying on the United States in 1993 and openly works for the
interests of Zionist Israel.

Associated Press Report.

CAIRO — A U.S.-born spokesman for al-Qaida on Saturday urged Muslims
living in the United States and Europe to carry out attacks there, calling it a
duty and an obligation.

In a 48-minute video posted on militant websites, Adam Gadahn directed his
appeal to Muslim immigrants in what he called the “miserable suburbs” of
Paris, London and Detroit, as well as those traveling to the West to study or
work.

“It is the duty of everyone who is sincere in his desire to defend Islam and
Muslims today, to take the initiative to perform the individual obligation of
jihad … by striking the Zio-Crusader interests,” he said, referring to Western
and Jewish interests.

Gadahn, who has been hunted by the FBI since 2004, also sought to discredit
attempts by moderate Muslim leaders to suppress the “jihadi awakening.”

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October 24th, 2010, 4:06 pm

 

Global Voices in Italiano » Siria: cresce l’economia ma anche il divario nella ricchezza said:

[…] ha coinvolto molti partecipanti nelle sezioni di commento ad entrambi gli articoli. Alex, commentando il post di Ehsani, scrive che il governo siriano dovrebbe ascoltare di più, e meglio, quello che […]

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October 27th, 2010, 4:30 am

 

Syria Comment » Archives » What is Behind the Uproar in Syria’s Labor Relations? The Reform Process and Jobs? said:

[…] As for those business enterprises that the government already owns and manages, a “market” economy should open Syria’s doors to competition. More competition from Turkish, Chinese, and Korean goods will expose Syria’s will only further undermine the market for the goods produced by Syria’s state sector. Eventually, the government will have little choice but to sell off the 250, or so, loss making firms it owns. EHSANI2 wrote convincingly about the need to privatize these companies on October 17, 2010 in his “The Sin in Syria is Low Wages” […]

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November 7th, 2010, 12:51 pm

 

Syria Freedom Runners said:

[…] the past generation, the government scratches its head when asked how the nation’s economy will provide jobs for the hundreds of thousands of young people entering the workforce each […]

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July 5th, 2011, 5:43 pm